Theophilus Chamberlain, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 April 26


abstractChamberlin writes of his religious epiphany.

handwritingHandwriting is relatively clear, yet letter case (especially with regard to S and D) is often difficult to decipher. There are also many deletions and additions.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear.


signatureSignature is abbreviated.

noteworthyThe book that Chamberlain mentions on one recto is: Theron and Aspasio: or, A Series of Dialogues and Letters upon the Most Important and Interesting Subjects, in three volumes by James Hervey, London, 1755.

Rvd & Dear   Sir 
I take this Method to lay before  you wt I was latly mentioning of my Ex periences since I left you laſt fall. I shall  uſe all poſible Brevity, and ye utmoſt  openeſs, in expreſsing ye Real Sentiments  of my mind, in ye Time of theſe Experiences. 
about two years ago I had an oppertunity  to read [illegible], ^ye Letters on Theron & Aſpaſio^ wc servd me no other Purpoſe  yn to give me an invetrate Prejudice againſt  againſt ye Author of ym. when I was down laſt fall  I began to read him again with ye diſadvantage  of ye Same Prejud[illegible]ice I had before imbibed. I had  Time to read but a Smal part of his firſt Volume  before I began my Journey in Proſecution of my miſion  [illegible] among ye Natives, to ye Weſtward.
however I had read So far as to Set me a thinking  on his difinition of Faith. before I reached Albany it  once, and yt for ye firſt Time, came into my mind yt  ye faith yr Diſcribed, might be ye faith of Gods Elect. I See yt in Caſe it was so, a Train of Conſequences wld  folow wh were Extreamly Diſagreable to me, yet in  some meaſure aprihend^ing^ ye Importance of my Knowing  the Truth, with regard to ye Nature of faith, I determined  [illegible] as Soon as my Buiſeneſs would permit to Examine  the Scripture thorowly on yt head. wn I got as far  as Kanajoharry I was obliged to waite about three Weeks for  a Road and Company to Onoida. Moſt of ye Leaſure I  had here, I Spent in Reading the Scripture with an  Intent to find out wt ^ye^ faith somuch Inſiſted on In Script ture and by Divines, truly contains. Wn I come to  read ye Goſple of John, and other Parts of ye New Teſtament,  and to look Back to ye faith of ye Antiensts Quoated from  ye Old Teſtament, I became fully convincd yt the Word
Believe, so frequently uſd in Scripture, is yr uſd in its  moſt plain and commone Senſe; and yt [illegible] ^ye^ faith  uſed as a Synonimy with Believe; and So frequently  connected with eternal[illegible] Life, is a Plain, every-day-Belief,  of [illegible][guess: ye] Truths Record in ye Word of God. Having Got thus  far, I began to be greatly Exerciſed about wt, would be  my finale Exit, and eternal State in ye World of Spirits.
My whole Query was, how Sll I find ye Truths wh give  Life, to every one who believes ym. My firſt thought  was yt ye neceſary Truths muſt undoubtedly be revealed in  ye Word of G. in plain and intelegible Terms; but yn it  turnd in my mind yt ye Bible itſelf might be a fiction
I then Examined ye Evidences wh had often Supported  me in belief of divine Revelation, and found ym Suf ficent to Support me Still in believing, yt ye Bible is  in truth and reality ye Word of God. I now read the  Goſple of Luke; [illegible] I read it with Attention  and Eagerneſs, hoping to lite on Some Truth wh wld  Set me free, from yt Concern [illegible] & Anxiety reſpecting  my future Exiſtance wh was Such an Exerciſe to  my mind. I attended to ye coming of ye son of God into  ye World, his conduct in ye World, ye doctrines he preachd , ye oppoſion of ye World to him on account of his con­ duct, and Doctrines, and his finaly Suffering even un to Death. my next concern was to determine certainly  and preciſly, wt it was he Sufferd for. I read ye Book  of Isaiah; the Law given at Mount Sinai; took per ticuliar Notice of ye Curſes pronounced againſt every  offence, and turnd yn to every Paſage I could find  in ye New Testament wh gave any account of wt  Chriſt died for. at length, I came to this concluſion  yt Chriſt Sufferd ye whole length and Breadth of yt  Suffering wh ye Law threatend, for every offence  yt will finaly be forgiven. This concluſion im­ mediately preſented to my view a Character of God  wh was at once amiable and awfull. amiable in  ys, yt he is so infinitly kind & compaſionate ^to his creatures^, yt he  entertains thoughts of Pardon and happineſs for ym  [illegible] wn deſerving to ye laſt degree the tokens of his  eternal Anger and Indignation; and never puniſhes  ym for want of Benevolence. and awfull in yt  he never will forgive an Offence againſt his own  Law till ye Sentance of ye Law againſt yt offence  is [illegible][guess: forgiven] inflicted to ye full; and yt though his own  son is accountable for offences, he muſt for every offence bare  ^[right]the full puniſhment^ 
I [illegible][guess: was] now saw yt ye Law of God has in every senſe  its own meaſures and never a Single [illegible] Creature  more is made miſerable, yn wt ye Law abſoloutly  Required in order yt God ye giver of it might remain  [illegible][guess: a god] a God of truth, and [illegible][guess: So Support his moral gvt]  So Support his moral government in ye univerſe.  I got now effectualy convincd yt nothing could be  more abſurd yn for me to uſe ye leaſt indeavour[illegible][guess: s]  to bring myſelf to procure the favour of god, or to  gain Acceptance to Salvation. I now realy believd  or I knew yt if God should puniſh me with eternal  miſery for every offence, to his Law, I ever had com mited, And [illegible][guess: In] [illegible] [illegible][guess: Criſis,] nothing kept me from [illegible]  [illegible] it would proceede  from no other Diſpoſion ^contrary to that^ [illegible] he commands in ye  Law, viz, thou shalt Love they Neighbour as thy  self. In this Criſis, I found no other Reaſon to hope  for Salvation, yn barly this yt God diſignd to save  some Creatures of my own Character. nor did this  foundation, appear smal or inconſiderable, for  I knew, yt nothing but gods sovereignt had laid  this foundation, and yt ^nither^ I nor any of my Character  had ye leaſt Deſert in us of even this foundation  of hope. Here I hoped, and Still hope with trem­ bling, and it is my glory and Joy yt a door of hope  is here Let open to me wh no man can shut.
ſir I have So little claim to your attention  yt I have crouded theſe things, [illegible]So much togeather , yt some confuſion is created. If you read it and  can underſtand my meaning my End is anſwerd.
Yours  Theop Chamberlain    To Rd E Wheelock 
M.r Chamberlains Experienc[illegible]  April — 1766.  For  Rvd Mr Wheelock