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The same causes that have made me a preacher, have also made me an abundant contributor to our periodical literature. As I wish to present a living picture of these early days, I will, from time to time, furnish extracts from the contributions I have made to our religious journals:

[Written for the Christian Luminary.]

OCENA P. O., Atchison Co., Kansas Ter., May, 1858.

Having myself had a very full experience of the advantages and disadvantages, the trials, pleasures and perils of a pioneer life, I propose to write a series of essays on the matter of emigrating to the West.

 

While a grave necessity demands that many shall emigrate to the West, it is not to be denied that it is an enterprise fraught with many dangers to the moral and spiritual well-being of the emigrant. We have here men from the four quarters of the civilized world, and have thus congregated together all the vices found in Europe and America. The semi-barbarism of the Irish Catholicism of Tipperary and Clare is now fairly inaugurated in Leavenworth city. All the horses of the livery stables are hired to attend an Irish funeral, and as the mourners take a "_wee bit of a dhrap_" before starting, they are lucky if they get the corpse well under ground without a fight. By this time, having become over-joyful, they raise a shout, and with a whoop and hurrah they start for home, and the man that has the fastest horse gets into the city first. The unlucky traveler, whose horse gets mixed up with theirs in this stampede, and who thus involuntarily becomes one of the company at an Irish wake, has need to be a good rider.

German infidelity has been nurtured in Germany by a thousand years of priestly domination and oppression, and is now translated into our Kansas towns by Germans, who have no Lord's day in their week. Corresponding with our Lord's day, they have a holiday--a day to hunt, to fish, to do up odd jobs, to congregate together and listen to fine music, dance, sing, feast, drink lager beer, and have a good time generally. Under the best _regimen_ it is hard for men to keep their hearts from evil; but here, it is a fearful thing for young men, released from all the restraints of their native land, to find the house of revelry and dancing so near the house of God, and the gates of hell, alluring by all the fascinating and seductive attractions of harmonious sounds, so near the gate of heaven.

I am appalled at the amount of drinking and gambling that has existed in Kansas, especially in the Missouri River towns, for the last three years, Under the shade of every green tree, on the streets, in every shop, store, grocery and hotel, it has seemed as if the chief business of the people was to gamble and drink.

There are other causes full of evil, and fearfully potent to work apostasy and ruin in the West. Men come here, not to plead the cause of a suffering and dying Saviour; not to give to the people a more pure and self-denying morality, and a higher civilization; but to get rich. They have had a dream, and are come to realize that dream. They have dreamed of one thousand acres of land, bought at one dollar and a quarter per acre, that by the magic growth of some Western town becomes worth fifty thousand dollars. They have dreamed of money invested in mythical towns, which towns are to rival in their growth Toledo, Chicago or St. Louis. The dream is to do nothing and get rich. Land sharks, speculators, usurers and politicians who aspire to a notoriety they will never win--a station they will never occupy--swarm over the West thicker than frogs in Egypt, and more intrusive than were these squatting, crawling, jumping pests, when evoked from the river's slime by the rod of Moses.

Some men are too old when they come to the West. They are like a vine whose tendrils are rudely torn from a branch around which they have wound themselves, and are so hardened by time that they can not entwine themselves around another support. Such men forever worship, looking to the East. They form no new friendships; engage in no new enterprises; they care for nobody, and nobody cares for them. They live and die alone.

But there are more sad and gentle notes of sorrow that fall upon our ears. The children mourn for the peach tree and the apple tree, with their luscious fruit. The mother-wife asks who will watch the little grave, or tend the rose tree growing at its head, or who will train the woodbine, or care for the pinks and violets? Then sadly she sings of home--"Home, sweet home!" The father, too, remembers his pasture for his pigs, his calves, and sheep, and cows. He remembers that on one poor forty acres of land he had a house, a barn, an orchard, woodland, maple trees for making maple sugar, a meadow, room for corn, wheat, oats and potatoes, besides pasture for one horse, two oxen, three cows, together with a number of sheep and pigs, Then there was the three months' school in winter, and four months in summer. There was the Sunday-school and the church, where serious and honest men uttered manly and religious counsel to sincere hearts, which nurtured good and holy purposes. All this he has bartered away for the privilege of being rich--of having more land than he knows what to do with; more corn than he can tend, and pigs till they are a pest to him.

Having glanced at some of the evils attendant on Western life, I must hasten to indicate what class of men should come to the West. The poor of our cities, whose poverty becomes the more haggard by being placed in immediate proximity to measureless profusion, luxury and extravagance--respectable people, whose whole life is a lifelong struggle to keep up appearances, and in whom the securing of affluence is like putting on a corpse the frippery and finery of the ball-room; young men with brave hearts and willing hands--these are the classes that may come, and should come, to the West. And if Adam, realizing that the world is all before him, where to choose, looks to the West to find his Eden, I would respectfully suggest that he has an infirmity in his left side, and that his best security against the perils of a pioneer life is to take to himself the rib that is wanting.

The tenant, living on the farm of another man, should come to the West. He can not plant a tree and call it his own. God gave the whole world to Adam and his sons, and the true dignity of every son of Adam requires that he should be able to stand in the midst of his own Eden and say: "This, under God, is mine."

There is yet another class of men that may always go to the West, or to any other place. Whether young, or old, or middle-aged--whether rich or poor--they may go, and the blessings of God go with them. These are the men whose hearts are full of faith, and hope, and love--who sympathize with all, and who, consequently, will find friends among all--who are willing to be missionaries of the cross, and to be pillars in the churches they have helped to nurture into life.

Kansas is full of men who were once members of our churches, but who are stranded on the rocks of apostasy, on whom the storms of life will beat yet a little while, and then they will sink down into ever-lasting ruin. Strong drink, the love of money, or, perhaps, the inadequacy of their former teaching, is the occasion of their fall. Others, scattered over this great wilderness of sin, remain faithful amidst abounding wickedness, and stretch out their hands and utter the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us."

The apostolic age was pre-eminently an age of missionary effort. What will the world say of us, and of our confident, and, as some would say, arrogant, pretense to have restored primitive and apostolic Christianity, when our Israel in so large a part of the great West is such a moral wreck--such a spectacle of scattered, abandoned, and, too often, ruined church members, unknown, untaught and uncared for.

The peerless glory of our Lord Jesus Christ--his measureless, boundless and quenchless love--this is the great center of attraction around which the affections of the Christian do continually gather. The Lord is the center of the moral universe, and all its light is but the emanation of his glory. He dwells in the human heart, and fills it with his love; he dwells in the family, and becomes its ornament as when he dwelt in the house of Lazarus; he dwells in the church, and makes it a fold in which he nurtures his lambs.

Christians wandering over the earth like sheep having no shepherd, isolated from their brethren, dwelling alone--however frequent this spectacle now--is not often witnessed in the New Testament. There they congregated in churches. But this experiment of isolation is most perilous to the individual, and a prodigal expenditure of the wealth of the church, which has souls for her hire. It is true that a few persons become centers of attraction to new churches that grow up around them; but very many are lost in the great whirlpool of this world's strife.

What, then, is the remedy? Evidently this: Jesus accepts no divided empire in the human heart. He will have all or nothing. The Church of Christ, the cause of Christ, the people of Christ--these must be the centers of attraction to which the heart of the Christian turns with all the enthusiasm with which an Eastern idolater bows before the shrine of his idol. In return for such devotion Jesus gives to his people every imaginable blessing. Wealth, power, dominion, science, civilization, genius, learning, power over the elements of nature, and insight into its magnitude, do now belong to the Lord's people in Europe and America as they never belonged to any people before. Yet all these must be laid at Jesus' feet before he will make the returning prodigal the recipient of his love. Everything must be subordinated to our religion.

Since the almighty dollar has become the touch-stone by which everything is to be decided, I assert that this is a good speculation: secure a neighborhood homogeneous and not heterogeneous. Let its tendencies be favorable to temperance, education and religion, and in doing so a man will have added fifty per cent, to the selling value of his property. The present thrift, wealth, genius, enterprise and intelligence of the people of the New England States is the legitimate outworking of the training bestowed on their sons by the stern, old Puritans that first peopled these inhospitable shores.

But all temporal and earthly considerations disappear, as fade the stars at the approach of day, when we consider that measureless ruin, that gulf of everlasting despair, that voiceless woe, into which the emigrant may sink himself and family by locating in a profligate, dissipated or irreligious neighborhood, or in a community wholly swallowed up in the love of money, or absorbed in the questions, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? What home on the beautiful prairies, what treasures of fine water and good timber, what corner lots, what property in town or country, can equal in value the guardianship of our Lord, the indwelling of God's good Spirit, the approval of a good conscience, the smiles of angels and the inheritance of a home in heaven? Let no man, therefore, fall into the folly--the unspeakable folly--of subordinating his spiritual and eternal interests to his temporal welfare. "Seek ye God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added."

To teach, to discipline and perfect the churches we have already organized; to gather into churches the lost sheep of the house of our Israel, scattered over this great wilderness of sin; to try and help those who are still purposing to tempt its dangers; and to lay broad and deep the foundations of a future operation and co-operation that shall ultimate in spreading the gospel from pole to pole, and across the great sea to the farthest domicile of man--this is the purpose which we set before us, and which should be pursued with the zeal and enthusiasm displayed by the followers of the false prophet of Mecca; and with the patience of the coral workers, who build for ages and cycles of ages their marble battlements in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.