Free Religious Association, Tremont Temple, Boston, May 30, 1873
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Free Religious Association, 1873 203 3. Probably LM’s niece Ellen Wright (1840–1931) and her husband, William Lloyd Garrison Jr., who lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts (Palmer, 482). 4. Oliver Johnson endorsed President Lincoln during the Civil War. 5. Giving the principal address, WLG discussed Mary Ann Johnson’s “deep interest” in “the elevation and enfranchisement of her sex.” Frothingham praised her work at Sing Sing Prison and the Isaac T. Hopper Home in New York City as “quite aside from the ordinary paths of human service” (In Memoriam, 16, 6). Free Religious Association, Tremont Temple, Boston, May 30, 1873 As this is probably the last opportunity that I shall have of meeting with this Association, which has endeared itself to me from its beginning, I feel, late as the hour is, that I want to express the great delight and satisfaction that I have had in this session, and in the meetings of these two days, in the evidence they have afforded that the prayers of many for this Association have been heard, that their faith shall not fail them, and that they shall give evidence of a deep sense of religion, which will put an end to all the vain and false theologies and useless forms in Christendom and in Heathendom. I have not many words to utter, but it is a great satisfaction to me to know that the science of theology has come to be considered so much now in these meetings, that I think there must be, another year, an amendment of our Constitution, which has been a great desire with me, for a year or two past; and instead of the science of theology being made a study, that it will come to be, as has been expressed today, the science of religion in liberty and truth, and of liberty and truth in religion; the science,—as was expressed in our first meeting by our beloved friends, John Weiss and Francis Abbot,—the science of the inspiration of the human mind; the science of truth, as manifested in the inmost soul.1 This must come to be the only science of theology which it shall be necessary to study, or necessary to be taught. And, as regards the subject upon which so much has been written of late, the importance of faith in a personal God, we shall be content to let our limited knowledge remain where it is, while we have all that science can reveal, both that which is self-evident, which is natural, which is spiritual, and that which belongs to outward nature,—which it needs not that I enlarge upon, ignorant as I am, after all that has been said.2 But I think that this will be found to suffice, and, as has just been expressed, that it shall pervade the universe of God, and bring us into the kingdom, which is nigh even at the doors;3 and that we need not enter into any speculations as regards the future, as regards immortality, but that we all shall learn to rest content with the limited knowledge we have, and be confident, by fullness of faith, that that which is best for us shall and will be ours, while we do not endeavor by our speculations to make out or build up a heaven. I remember when Dr. [William Ellery] Channing, years ago, at our house,4 attempted to advocate his views, and to show what everlasting progress there would be in the hereafter, I told him it was as interesting to me as any speculation to which I had 204 Free Religious Association, 1873 ever listened on the subject, but he must allow me to say, that it was speculation still. I want we should tread under foot our speculations, and everything that will mingle aught that is uncertain with the religion which we have heard presented to us to-day—which is certain, which is sure; for that which is self-evident needs no argument. And so we come near to the beautiful truths and testimonies that rise out of this pure religion and undefiled, that need no scholastic learning, that need no pulpit explanations. They are clear truth, justice, love—highest, noblest, finest instincts of the human heart and mind, which we are to apply to all that we can imagine of the unseen and unknown. That divine power will be ours, if we seek it; and when these principles are stated they are self-evident...