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60 CHAPTER XII. The father, a character drawn from life. A revival meeting. An engagement with Wigglesworth. the world has been favored with many portraits of religious fanatics—Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, &c.; they are depicted in plays, in novels, and in poems. But they are generally wrong in one point; they do not make the enthusiast sincere. While in reality the religious enthusiast is always sincere. Moreover he or she is like all human specimens, a compound of both good and evil. As far as the enthusiasm of religion goes, it is not necessarily bad, but rather the reverse. Only it cannot altogether change other main portions of the character of the individual; they remain and give their stamp as before. Calvin Peterson was not an exception to the above general rule. Nature made him with strong mental features. He had great resolution and fortitude; he could have borne, with savage endurance, any pains or penalties that came in consequence of his religious faith. It was indeed, rather a welcome thing to him to endure the little privations that 61 resulted from that faith; and little annoyances are harder than great ones. But Calvin had none of the softer sentiments ; or if he had, they were, in him, made hard and heavy in appearance. His affection for his family regarded their immortal welfare more than their temporal good; and the latter sometimes felt the effects of this partiality. But it would be unjust to this man to deny that his strongest desire tended to what he considered the greatest and most enduring benefit of those whom he most cared for. It was simply his view of the case. In respect to the simple virtues of honesty and integrity Calvin was like a guileless child. His son Tom, my friend, loved his father at heart; but it was a love which had not been cultivated and strengthened by mutual intimacy and good offices. It is often so with father and son. Tom thought his father too rigid, and the parent thought the young man too loose and irregular . Sometimes they had very serious disputes; and Tom, once in a while, almost thought he felt a repugnance to his own father. While I was quite a boy, and Tom too, we would often go to the Methodist meetings.—Calvin Peterson was one of the shining lights here; and I have seen some pretty impressive spectacles under his exhortations. That there was a good deal of real devotional feeling, there could be no doubt. A New York revival meeting! How strongly the impression remains upon me of one of these! 62 It was an agreeable autumn night, neither hot nor chilly. The windows of the church were partially open; for it was crowded inside. Crowded! why every seat and standing place, step and corner, were filled, crammed close and full. You enter at the door, scanned sharply by a man who held the knob inside; you had felt his pressure as you opened the door, for he admitted no one quickly and gave you a solemn and satisfied stare, from head to foot. Perhaps he would, by signs, direct you to some part nearer the altar where you could find a seat by crowding closely. “Come down, O, Lord! O, come down this night! Come right down here, O, Lord!” With hands thrown in the air, and head turned upward, I saw Calvin Peterson, his face all wet with perspiration; and it was his voice I heard. “Now brethren let us pray.” And Calvin’s too was the voice of prayer. It was a violent, declamatory, passionate appeal to the Creator, who was spoken to in an earnest but familiar style, and invoked many times to come there, and be present in the midst of his worshippers. Nor was Calvin’s prayer without feeling. He supplicated for all, for his own children, (Tom was with me, but had not the grace to feel the least affected,) for all the wicked, the poor, and the ignorant. Most of all, however, he wished an indescribable something, which appeared to be the most important requisite in making men what they should be. “Touch our hearts with fire, O, Lord; break the rebel- 63 lious rock; make us to see how wicked and utterly vile and helpless we are without Thee. O, send down thy spirit to be here, and dwell in the midst of us. Thy spirit is what we most need, and having that, we...


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