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YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION.
According to the maxims of the world, I have no right to address you so familiarly; for as individuals and as a body you are unknown to me; and till last February, I suspect that a majority of you had scarcely heard of my existence. The information which you received about me, at that time, is not likely to make you desirous of my friendship, probably will make you zealous to repudiate it. Nevertheless, I thrust it upon you in this rude manner, because all that I have been
told of you, and of the motives which have led you to form yourselves into an association, inspires me with an esteem and affection which the absence of any corresponding feelings on your side cannot extinguish.
Though you may think me bold in speaking of you as friends, you will not, I think, dispute my claim to be heard by you in my own defence. An eminent divine of the Free Church of Scotland selected you, last winter, as persons who were fit judges of a book which I had published a few months before. To all intents and purposes, he impanelled you as a jury to try my treasons against a higher authority than that of our Sovereign Lady the Queen. By accepting him as a lecturer on the subject of my Essays, you took upon yourselves the office which he had assigned you. I need not tell you, that I had no power of challenging my jurors. Each one of them was to decide in his own conscience whether he was in possession of such evidence as would enable him to pronounce a just verdict. I hope none of you think that the charges were less serious, than those which are brought against any criminal at the Old Bailey. To me they seem immeasurably more They affect my moral character infinitely
more than a charge of some fraudulent transaction
in relation to money could affect it. I was distinctly accused before you, of professing to believe, of professing to preach, that which in fact I deny. Ask yourselves what guilt is comparable to this? If you refuse to hold intercourse with a man who has committed a forgery, even with one who has stolen a loaf, perhaps, under the strong temptation of poverty,-how must you regard a man who has been for years lying to God, and forging His Name in support of the frauds which he has practised upon His creatures ? This charge, and nothing less than this, was brought against me by Dr. Candlish. You were constituted as judges to examine it. I venture to think, that as Englishmen, you will hold, that I am entitled to tell you why say 'not guilty' to it.
But this is not my chief reason for writing to you. I do not consider you my judges, though Dr. Candlish does. I can leave my own cause and my own character to that day in which he says I do not believe. The craving to justify one's self is, I know well, a very strong one. How strongly it has been working in me for the last six months, I might find it difficult to explain to you. But I have resisted it, for many reasons. I have felt that it was very dangerous, to mix up petty questions concerning myself with the solemnest
and deepest questions concerning man and God. I have been reminded by Dr. Candlish's book of the infirmities of my temper. He has discovered in almost every line I have written, some proof of personal irritation. He has even supposed that I quoted the awful words which our Lord spoke to the Pharisees, respecting the damnation of hell, for the sake of gratifying my spite against some who had found fault with me. My conscience acquits me of that enormous wickedness. If I had committed it, I ought never to write another line, nor to speak another word. But I must have given some excuse for so dreadful a suspicion, or it is hardly possible that a man of ordinary candour would have indulged it. I felt, therefore, that I was bound to be on my guard, and rather to omit any opportunity of self-defence, to let any persons who would suppose that I admitted the accusations against me to be true, than incur the risk of mixing private passions with what I believe to be the cause of God, and of His Church. And most people, I should suppose, at this time have some intimations, that their tongues and their pens were given them for other purposes than those of controversy; and that they had better let judgment go by default against them, than disturb with miserable personal apologies the sor