[1867 Autograph Letter Signed by a Vermont-native and Iowa Minister Renouncing his Baptist Faith].
“The doctrine of an eternal Hell of fire & brimstone is all bosh…”
“The doctrine of an eternal Hell of fire & brimstone is all bosh…” Intimate letter by Iowa physician E.T. Manning, writing to a woman friend on the loss of religious faith. Manning had come to Camanche, Iowa 17 years earlier in the role of a Baptist preacher; here, however, he confesses “...my former Religion has all gone by the board.”
Writing to his “...much respected Friend Aurelia,” Manning remembers the now-grown up and married woman as a girl of 16:
...indeed Aurelia there is not that person now living that I would go so far to see as I would go to see your old self & if ever I go east & you are living I shall surely go & see you. I want to see your Husband & son & I should certainly send for your son to come out here to settle if it were not that the west is overrun with Doctors the thing is overdone here. You want to know by what title you are to call me you may call me Doctor from childhood till after Lucia died I had no other intention than to spend my life in the Ministry, but by a train of Providence I am out of the Ministry & that without being kicked out voluntery [sic] on my part & yet to me it seemed unavoidable in consequence my former Religion has all gone by the board.He continues:
[W]hen I was a Minister I was honest & sincere I am equally so now but I look at things in a different light… I believe in a future life in future rewards to punishments but the doctrine of an eternal Hell of fire & brimstone is all bosh. I would not love respect or worship a God that would punish eternally or that would punish through wrath any how for my god is a god of love & when he punishes it is for the good of his creatures & I can see no good in eternal Damnation I have seen but little Earthly comfort since Lucia’s death.
Manning then writes about his late wife, about his new, though un-passionate, marriage, and his children. He notes that his son Charles “...is studying medicine intending to become a man killer like his Father.”
“Dr. E.T. Manning came to Camanche in 1850, in the capacity of a Baptist preacher, with which he combined the practice of medicine. He is not a graduate but holds an honorary degree from Bennett Eclectic Medical College, Chicago. When asked why he left preaching for medicine, he said men suffered more from colic than from fear of h—, and would pay better.”
Manning apparently moved onto Omaha, Nebraska later in life.
Description: [1867 Autograph Letter Signed by a Vermont-native and Iowa Minister Renouncing his Baptist Faith].
Camanche [Iowa]. June 7, 1867. pp. Single small leaf. Light toning at folds; very good.
Ref. The History of Clinton County, Iowa… (Chicago, 1879), p426. 2. Census: 1850: Clinton County, Iowa accessed online. N.B. In this record, Manning’s name is given as “E.J. Manning.”