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From Bondage to Liberty in Religion A Spiritual Autobiography   By:

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[Transcriber's note: this book uses several non standard spellings, e.g. "tho" (though), "thoro", "thoroly" (thorough, thoroughly), "thru" (through), etc.]

FROM BONDAGE TO

LIBERTY IN RELIGION

A SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

BY

GEORGE T. ASHLEY

THE BEACON PRESS

BOSTON

Copyright, 1919

BY THE BEACON PRESS, INC.

All rights reserved

FOREWORD

The substance of what is written in this book has been given on several occasions during the past five years in the form of sermons or lectures. On each occasion they met with such hearty commendation, and so many requests that they be written and published in book form that they might have a wider circulation, that I have been induced to undertake it. This volume is the result.

It is in no sense a treatise on controverted theological questions; altho some of these are incidentally treated, but only as they entered as factors into my own religious life and experience. This book is simply the story of my own religious life from my early childhood to the present time, in its various transitions from the narrowest orthodoxy to a broad, liberal, rational religious faith. It necessarily deals to some extent with certain theological problems that from time to time confronted me, the way in which I solved them, the conclusions I finally reached, and why I reached them. But these have been treated in mere outline only. The temptation has been very great to treat, some of these at least, more elaborately; but I have been compelled to content myself often with the bare statement of my views, with few or no detailed arguments to support them. But as my object has been, not so much to try to solve these problems for others, as to point the way thereto, and stimulate the reader to further inquiry and deeper investigation of the subjects treated, if I have succeeded in this, my main object has been accomplished.

No one is more sensible of the many defects in this work than I am. It makes no pretension to any literary merit, nor to any scholarly erudition. I am not a "professional writer." I have simply tried to tell my story in a simple way and make it "readable" if possible. My sole purpose in writing these pages has been to try to help others who may still be in the fetters of ecclesiastical bondage, or wandering in the quagmires of agnosticism and I know there are many such to find the way to light and liberty in a rational religious faith. If I can accomplish this, even in a small degree, I shall feel abundantly repaid for the time and labor spent in reviewing the story of my own religious evolution.

INTRODUCTION

When the traveller, bent on some important quest, makes a prolonged and perilous journey and returns in safety to his friends and neighbors, instinctively those who have known him in former years realize that he is, and he is not, the same person who had dwelt among them. He has seen unfamiliar peoples, traversed strange lands, encountered unexpected dangers. Old prepossessions have been effaced, erroneous opinions have been corrected, new habits of thought have taken the place of old ones and the narrow world of youth has expanded on every side. Naturally, what has happened to him becomes a matter of curiosity and enquiry, and the hero of a great achievement is expected to relate the story of his adventures.

The man who, in these revolutionary days, takes religion seriously there are many who do not must make a journey which is fraught with as many surprises and filled with as many anxieties especially if it be a pilgrimage from orthodoxy to personal independence as that which the explorer encounters in a voyage to the North Pole or the jungles of Africa. At every turning of the way he must be prepared for disillusions and the discovery of facts and errors which call for unlimited courage and boundless faith. Religion is not simply a matter of the emotions, its very perpetuity depends upon that sane and persistent activity of the intellect without which the emotions are tyrannous and fateful... Continue reading book >>




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