Chauncey Giles.

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Copyright, 1895,


American New-Church Tract and Publication Society.

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Biographical Sketch 5

L — Progress in Spiritual Knowledge ..... 67
II. — The Doctrines of the New Church a Spir-
itual Science 80

III. — God and Man 94

IV. — The Divine Method of Creating 108

V. — Man a Form Receptive of Life ....... 120

VI. — The Kingdom of God within You 135

VII.— Human Beauty: Its Origin, Nature, and

THE Means of Acquiring it . 147

VIII.— The Origin of Evil 161

IX. — Sin and its Punishment 176 ~+*

X. — The Divine Mercy in Suffering and Evil , 194-^^
XL — The Atonement : Who made it. Why it

WAS Necessary, How it was Effected . . 205, —

XII.— The First and Second Death 224

XIII.— Heaven 240

XIV. — Children in Heaven 25,7

XV. — The Ministry of Angels to Infancy .... 267

"XVI. — Nature a Divine Language 282

XVII.— Parables 292

XVIII.— The End of the World 305

XIX.— The Second Coming of the Lord 322

XX. — How TO GET the Most Good out of Labor

AND THIS World 343

XXL— Peace in the Lord 359



TT is beautiful, when in the peaceful days at the close of
a long and useful life the thoughts look back over the
way which has been travelled, delighting to see the hand
of Providence i'n events which at the time seemed unim-
portant and often unfortunate ; and when they turn from
such memory of the past to anticipation of renewed life
in the higher world where the same Divine hand will be
more plainly felt and followed with more perfect trust.
So it was with the Rev. Chauncey Giles, who passed into
the spiritual world at his home in Philadelphia, Novem-
ber 6, 1893.

Mr. Giles's earliest memories took him back to the
hills of western Massachusetts, where he was born, in
Charlemont, on the banks of the Deerfield River, on the
nth of May, 1813. The region is picturesque, and to
one who visits it in summer is most attractive ; but the
hills are rocky for the plough, and farming, the business
of the people, is laborious. The winters, too, are long
and cold, and for months the ground is buried in snow
and the river is frozen with clear ice, often several feet in

The parents of the friend whose life we are recording

* This biographical sketch is reprinted with slight change from
The New-Church Review of January, 1894, by the permission of
the publishers.

I* 5


were John and Almira Avery Giles. They were people
of ability and of more than usual cultivation and refine-
ment. The father was educated as a physician, but ill
health prevented his following his profession. His son
Chauncey was the eldest of seven children, and as a boy
he became accustomed to hard work, and felt early that
some share of responsibility rested upon him for the
support of the family and the education of the younger

The life in Charlemont was such as belonged to the
''good old times" in New England. Children enjoyed
out-door sports, especially skating and coasting in the
winter. For those a little older, hard work was relieved
by the diversions of singing-school and apple-parings and
quilting-bees, and by an occasional holiday, notably
Thanksgiving Day and the General Muster, when they
gathered from far and near to the yearly parade of the
men liable to military service. Sundays were kept with
the Puritan strictness, and the family spent a long day at
the distant meeting-house. From sunset Saturday even-
ing it became sinful to laugh or play or even to walk in
the fields for pleasure. The constraint was relieved at
Sunday's sunset, when the women brought out their
knitting and children began their games. Books were
very scarce in those days. There was no periodical
literature, with the exception of a small weekly paper
which was taken by only a few people. The Bible and
hymn-book with the longer and shorter catechism, and
perhaps "Pilgrim's Progress" or Baxter's "Saint's
Rest" were all that came within children's reach. A
copy of the Spectator was read and re-read by Mr. Giles,


and even a volume from his father's medical library was
tried in the hunger for new thoughts. It was at one of
the General Musters, while still quite a boy, that he
bought a copy of Cowper's "Poems" and of Milton's
"Paradise Lost," and he spent many a long winter even-
ing reading them over and over again by the bright fire-
light. Mr. Giles well remembered the intense delight he
used to feel when as a small boy he would pore over the
pages of a large Bible in a neighbor's house, and the
wonderful charm of the story of Joseph arranged for
children, a copy of which came into his hands.

The first instruction Mr. Giles received was from his
father, and what was lacking in aids to learning was made
up in earnestness. He has told me how he was accus-
tomed to do his "sums" with a bit of charcoal on the
hearth before the fire, and how dearly he prized his first
slate earned by chopping a cord of wood. Years after,
contrasting the circumstances of his own early life with
the larger opportunities of another, Mr. Giles said, "I
had no books, no social influence that tended to develop
a taste for literature, or cultivate what 1 had naturally.
It seems as though I was like a tree or shrub in the
woods. I was shut out from the light ; I had no cult-
ure ; I grew without any direction or assistance." In
writing of the "good old times," Mr. Giles once said, —

"They were good times in many essential respects. The people
were industrious, frugal, and in the most important affairs of life
they were intelligent. If they did not read so much as we do, they
thought more. They did not depend so much upon others to do
their thinking. They were more self reliant. Their means of social
culture were limited, but they made the best use of those they pos-
sessed. If they endured many hardships, they acquired strength by


them, and in the struggle for Hfe they gained many of its blessings,
and learned how to appreciate them."

Mr. Giles once referred to these early days in remarks
made in the Argyle Square church in London, and said
that from his earhest recollection he had desired to be a
minister, but the idea seemed so improbable and absurd
that he said little of it. His father once spoke to him of
a situation as a clerk in a store, but he declined it because
he did not want to be a merchant. A little later than
this, when he was at home on a vacation from Bennington,
where he was attending the academy, his father asked him
what he intended to do for a living when he had finished
school. The young man asked, ' ' What do you want me
to do?" His father said, "I would like to have you
study law." After a few moments' silence he replied,
with a look full of happiness and satisfaction, "Well,
if I study law, it must be the law of God." This deter-
mination did not leave him, though for many years
its realization was deferred till he was led to those doc-
trines of light and comfort which the Lord desired him
to preach.

The education begun at home under the father's care
was continued at a " select school' ' near by. Some time
also was spent with a clergyman of the neighborhood,
who gave what instruction he could in return for work
upon his place. It was a happy day to the young man
eager for education, when the opportunity offered to leave
his labor in the field, to attend the Mt. Anthony Academy
in Bennington, not far away across the Vermont line.
About this time he showed his power of application by
mastering the Latin grammar in nine days. It is said of


him as a young man that ' ' when he was engaged in study-
he was obhvious of everything about him." At the
academy Mr. Giles came under one whom he regarded
as a real teacher. He did more than impart a knowledge
of Greek, which was his subject ; he showed how to study
and made study delightful. At Bennington Mr. Giles
prepared for Williams College, at Williamstown, near by
among the Berkshire Hills, and entered as a member of
the class of 1836. He was now nineteen years old. The
question of support was still a serious one, and he met his
necessary expenses chiefly by teaching in the intervals of
college work. Mr. Giles remained with his class till the
middle of the junior year, when his health failed — his
eyes especially were much affected — and he was unable
to continue the double labor of studying and teaching.
This illness was, I believe, due to an incident of one of
the college vacations. He was at home in the hay-field,
and the other mowers were crowding him in his mowing,
thinking they would ' ' take down this college youth a peg
or two. ' ' It was a very hot day, and, having worked till
he was exhausted, he drank from an ice-cold spring.
Trouble in his head resulted, which for years caused much
suffering and interfered seriously with his work. This
was probably the origin of a singing or roaring in the
head from which he was never wholly relieved, and which
at times gave great annoyance.

Mr. Giles received the degrees of A.B. and M.A. from
Williams College in 1876, although he never finished the
college course. In 1886 he was present at the reunion
of his class on the fiftieth anniversary of its graduation.
In college Mr. Giles is remembered by classmates as


''more than an average scholar, not brilHant, perhaps,
but studious, prompt, and accurate. He was a good
declaimer, and in the debating society was alert and one
of the best speakers. He was strong on temperance
and on the anti-slavery question, which was much dis-
cussed in those days. In manner he was rather retiring,
somewhat shy, friendly with all but familiar with only a
few. " It is a fact that from boyhood throughout his life
Mr. Giles shrank from meeting strangers, and only with
great effort went into company.

The interruption of the college course was a great
disappointment to Mr. Giles. His desire to be a minis-
ter was the motive of his study ; and now as he was
about to enter on his chosen work he was compelled to
stop his preparation and give his strength to teaching.
But in after-years he saw the Lord's providence in this
disappointment, for it prevented his confirming himself
in the doctrines of the Congregational Church, which
were all that he then knew, and kept his mind open to
receive and teach the truths of the New Church.

After leaving college Mr. Giles was again in Benning-
ton, a teacher in the academy where he had received his
own preparation. At this time religious subjects were
much in his mind. "He was struggling with the hard
dogmas of the church," says one who was closely asso-
ciated with him as a fellow-teacher, * ' and was at times in
a sceptical mood, and more than a mood. He was very
conscientious and his mental sufferings were great, and
that for years." Probably states of mind were now be-
ginning of which Mr. Giles himself speaks in his little
book, "Why I am a New-Churchman." He could not


believe the doctrines commonly taught concerning heaven
and hell and an arbitrary judgment.
He writes, —

" Doubts having been raised about the truth of one doctrine, they
led to the examination of other doctrines and doubts about their
truth. I did not doubt because I desired to do so. On the con-
trary, I clung to every point of the old faith with the greatest
tenacity. I clung like a drowning man to the last plank, until I was
torn from it, or it failed me, and I sunk into the depths of despair.
I have no language that is adequate to express the darkness and
horror and agony of the state I lived in, if it could be called living,
for years. One hope alone sustained me. I did not doubt the exist-
ence, the wasdom, and goodness of God. ... I settled down to the
duties and necessities of life with the purpose of faithfully doing my
work and awaiting whatever the future might have in store for me."

A season of feeble health and of rapid changes followed,
when Mr. Giles travelled some and taught schools for a
short time in several different places. He was for a while
a teacher at West Hampton, Mass. Afterwards he taught
in Fishkill on the Hudson. He visited Philadelphia, and
spent a winter in Middletown, Pa., on the Susquehanna
River. He was at this time drifting with no definite aim,
and his movements were influenced by a seemingly very
trifling thing. It was in after-years a striking example to
Mr. Giles of the Lord's use of the smallest means to give
direction to our whole life. When a mere school-boy
studying his geography he had been attracted by a de-
scription of Tennessee, and made up his mind that some
day he would visit that State. It so happened that he
never saw Tennessee, but for years the purpose was in
his mind, and more than once influenced his movements.

From Middletown Mr. Giles journeyed through Penn-


sylvania and New York, by the slow means of travel
which existed before the days of railroads, with the inten-
tion of going to Michigan, and then visiting Tennessee.
He was moving westward on the Erie Canal. The
weather was rainy and unpleasant and the company on
the canal-boat disagreeable, and he yielded to the sugges-
tion of a fellow-traveller to stop over for a day at Palmyra.
At the hotel where he lodged he saw in a newspaper an
advertisement for a teacher. He applied for the position,
found friends as if by accident, and was soon settled as
principal of the Palmyra Academy, an institution which
ranked high among the schools of the State. In Palmyra
Mr. Giles met the one who became his wife and his faith-
ful companion in the trials and successes of his life. He
used to speak pleasantly of his great indebtedness to a
rainy day, but he spoke reverently, for he saw in it the
hand of Providence.

Mr. Giles had been in charge of the Palmyra Academy
hardly more than a year when he accepted a more re-
munerative but more laborious position in the Collegiate
Institute in Rochester, N. Y. This position he held only
a year, and in May, 1840, he was again in Palmyra,
teaching a "select school." But in October of the same
year, suffering much with his head and dissatisfied with
the success of his school, he went to Cincinnati. The
intention of visiting Tennessee, formed as a boy, was not
forgotten. While in Cincinnati, he one day packed his
bag and was going down the stairs to take the steamboat
for Nashville, when he was stopped by a stranger who was
looking for a teacher to open a school in Hamilton, Ohio,
a town some twenty-five miles north of Cincinnati. Mr.


Giles was persuaded to postpone the trip to Tennessee,
and the end of November found him settled in a new
home. It seemed again a mere chance which brought
him to Hamilton, but it was there that he became ac-
quainted with the doctrines of the New Church.

The pages of journal written in Rochester and Palmyra
and during the first years in Hamilton show states of
mind which are a surprise to those who have known Mr.
Giles only since the truths of the New Church became
his constant encouragement and delight. He was op-
pressed with a sense that he was accomplishing nothing.
He was conscious of abilities, and was desirous, perhaps
ambitious, to make them influential ; but he seemed to
himself to make no progress from year to year. His
discouragement was in part due to feeble health, for dur-
ing these years he suffered almost constantly from head-
ache, which at times made work impossible. It is plain
also that his depression was somewhat morbid. He
underrated the value of his work as a teacher, and was
oppressed with a sense of failure where others saw useful-
ness and success. The contrast of such gloomy, despond-
ent states, which were natural to Mr. Giles, with the
hopeful confidence which has been so characteristic of the
latter half of his life, shows what the New Church was to
him, and goes far to explain his intense desire to spread
its light to others. At that time he knew nothing of
Swedenborg and his writings, but we find him reading
Carlisle and Coleridge with some satisfaction. Though
fully occupied in his schools and with no expectation of
ever being anything but a teacher, his thoughts dwelt
often on religious subjects, and his old fondness for the




profession of a minister appears in the interest with which
he Hstened to various preachers, and in the extended
criticisms of their sermons and deUvery which he entered
in his journal. He would observe the effect of a speaker
upon the audience and the cause of his success or failure.
Self-consciousness in a speaker and any appearance of
study for effect were elements of weakness. To him an
unassuming modesty, made earnest by sincere conviction,
was the truest eloquence, and if art were used, the audi-
ence at least must be unconscious of it.

But there were still ten years of teaching before Mr.
Giles became himself a minister. These were, in a double
sense, years of preparation, for the methods of instruction
and of gentle control which he employed in school were
what were needed in the church, and at the same time
the doctrines of the New Church were brought to his
notice and gained a stronger and stronger hold upon his
understanding and his affections.

Mr. Giles began his charge of the Hamilton and Ross-
ville Female Academy in December, 1840, and continued
it till the summer of 1845. In August, following his
settlement in Hamilton, he revisited Palmyra, where he
was married on the 8th of September to Eunice Lakey.
Her parents, many years before, had come to western
New York from Franklin County, Mass. , where also was
Charlemont, Mr. Giles's native town. It would be
pleasant to write of Mrs. Giles and of the qualities which
have endeared her to her many friends. In writing of
Mr. Giles from this time, we write of both, for they were
united in all that we describe. In 1891 their Golden
Wedding was celebrated, and in the same year Mr. Giles


wrote of his companion of fifty years, ' ' She is and has
been a good, faithful, and devoted wife. If I have gained
any success and been of any use in the world, it is due to
her as much as to myself. ' '

Mr. and Mrs. Giles took their journey from Palmyra
by the best means of travel which then existed, the canal
from Rochester to Buffalo, steamboat to Cleveland, and
from there the stage, day and night, to Hamilton, in all
a journey of a week. The winter climate of southern
Ohio in those days was soft and mild, a pleasant contrast
to the harsh winds of western New York. But Hamilton
was unhealthy. It lay on the low banks of the Great
Miami River. There was a large basin of standing water
for the supply of a canal, and when afterwards water was
taken from the river for power, the air was poisoned with
miasms from the old river-bed. Sickness was very prev-
alent, especially the ague. For a long time after going
to Hamilton Mrs. Giles was very ill, and before they
moved from the town Mr. Giles was brought to death's
door by a congestive fever. But in spite of their trials
the years in Hamilton were remembered with deep grati-

What a contrast it was to their first journey West,
when fifty-one years later Mr. and Mrs. Giles took train
in Philadelphia to attend the New-Church Convention in
Cincinnati ! We quote Mr. Giles's description to illustrate
both the natural and the spiritual development of fifty
years :

" The train left at 4.25 p.m. The day was cool and bright. The
car ran so smoothly that it seemed to be at rest almost. The
country is looking very beautiful. The apple-trees are in their glory.


As we rushed past them they seemed to spring out of the earth in
the beauty and glory of their wedding robes. The earth and the sky
were glorious in the smile of the Lord. How beautiful the earth is !
What variety of color and form ! Surely, we ought to see the Lord's
wisdom in everything. How much it would add to the interest of
everything around us if we regarded it as the Lord's work to-day,
as His gift to us, as a token of His love for us ! It would give a new
and charming significance to everything if we could see His love in
all the means He has provided for our happiness. The ride through
the heart of Ohio was beautiful, very beautiful, and I enjoyed it,
every minute of it. As we passed Zenia and Morrow and other
places, many old associations, some sweet, some bitter, were revived.
How wonderfully the Lord has led me ! How little I dreamed what
He had in store for me when I was working my way along by teach-
ing school ! Truly, He leads us by a way we know not."

In the spring of 1843, Mr. Giles's father and mother
and sisters came to Hamilton from Massachusetts. His
father died there the following year. Two of the sisters
afterwards removed to Decatur, 111., and their mother
made her home with them until her death at the age of

We are given a pleasant glimpse of Mr. Giles's school,
and of Mr. Giles as a teacher, by one who joined him as
assistant when he had been two years in Hamilton.

She writes, —

" The first thing I observed in his school was the perfectly good
understanding apparent between teacher and pupils, and the cour-
tesy and kindness manifested in their intercourse with each and all.
It resembled the home-life in a well-trained family, I thought. Then
my attention was called to a wonderful clock which was said to
govern the school. A double stroke sounded two and a half minutes
before the hour or half-hour. The children knew that they had
liberty to speak quietly if they wished to, and the classes took thei*-
places for the next recitation of their own accord. Another double
stroke announced the hour, and all was still again. Mr. Giles's


teaching was noticeable for its thoroughness. His object seemed to
be to cultivate a love of knowledge, to form a habit of acquiring it ;
and at the same time he tried to make it. practical in every possible
way. He sought to develop the mind and character in a natural and
orderly manner, instead of forcing and cramming for display or
present results. To illustrate : In teaching a class of beginners in
arithmetic, he kept them practising notation and numeration until
they each and all could write and read numbers with the greatest
ease and correctness. Meantime, to keep up the interest, the exer-
cises were varied by some examples in addition or by learning the
tables, etc. They practised on each one of the ground rules in the
same way until they could add and subtract, multiply and divide,
as fast as they could see the figures. As there are not examples
enough given in any arithmetic to cultivate such facility, examples
were improvised or taken from other books.

" By this time the multiplication tables and the other tables were
as familiar to the children as A, B, C. They take pride in buying and
selling wood and coal, building and furnishing houses, making dry-
goods and mantua-makers' bills and settling them, all of which they
find interesting and rather amusing exercises ; and incidentally the
idea enters their minds that this study may be of some use to them
in the future. Of course it takes time to go through the arithmetic
in this way, but it was never necessary to go through a second time,
and as they were not hurried on from one thing to another before
becoming perfectly familiar with it, they found the study easy and
delightful, instead of hard and disagreeable. And they were thor-
oughly equipped for the higher mathematics, both by their habits of
study and the amount of knowledge already acquired.

" The classes in natural sciences were encouraged in the study of
principles presenting themselves in ordinary life. The children be-

Online LibraryChauncey GilesProgress in spiritual knowledge → online text (page 1 of 26)