Chapter 4 [1]


GEORGE CRAGIN was born at Douglas, Massachusetts, in 1808. His father was a merchant and cotton manufac turer, and represented the town of Douglas in the State Legislature for thirty-five years. George worked on the farm and in his father's factory from the time he was ten years old and had little schooling. Too much politics in conjunction with the financial panic of 1827 forced his father into bankruptcy, and George hired out as a clerk in New York City. Charles G. Finney was then conducting a revival in the city, and George with thousands of others was conyerted. This was in June 1829. George, hy nature a zealous propagandist, immediately threw himself into revival work.

One Sunday in June 1831, when returning to his hoarding-house, George's attention was arrested by a girl, beautiful and appealing. She was Mary F. Johnson, a member of his church. She held by the hand a waif, who had been brought to the church-school in the morning and at the end of the day was nnc~led for. She had tried to find the child's home, and turned to George for help. Leading the child between them they found the mother. Mary then invited him to tea at her home, which was near, and introduced him to her parents.

Mary was born at Portland, Maine, in 1812. Her father was Daniel Johnson, a bookseller and legal expert. Her mother was Mary Corham, a deeply religions woman, whose pastor was Edward Payson, the mystic. The Johnsons later moved to New York City. Mary was carefully educated in private schools until the age of fifteen She then became an assistant teacher, and at eighteen, having shown nunsual gifts, was placed in charge of an infantschool in the church.

It was love at first sight with both. After a courtship of two and a half years they were married.

 1. 'The materials for Chapters IV and V are drawn from G. Cragin's Story of a Life.-G. W. N.


In the latter part of 1834 Cragin with two friends organized an independent firm, which after a few months was dissolved by mutual consent. Cragin then became business manager of The Advocate of Moral Reform, a paper published by The Female Moral Reform Society of New York City. Under his management the subscription list of The Advocate increased to twenty thousand names, and many new branches of the Society were established.

The Cragins' first acquaintance with Perfectionism was in the summer of 1835, when Miss Fowler. a Perfectionist from New Haven, visited them. On departing she left a copy of Noyes's tract on Faith, which they eagerly read. Two years later Mrs. William Green, head of the Moral Reform Society, and her husband, an intimate associate of Finney, became Perfectionists. This put the Moral Reform Society in an uproar. Mrs. Green was expelled, and her successor wrote the attack on Perfectionism in The Advocate, which has been quoted. [1] Cragin, though much influenced by Mrs. Green, sided with the Society and suppressed Noyes's reply to the attack after reading it with his wife

Toward the end of 1838 Mrs. Black, a Perfectionist friend of Mrs. Green's, spent several weeks in the Cragin home. President Maban of Oberlin College, who with Finney bad embraced Perfectionism of the Wesleyan Style, occasionally called at the Cragin home and disputed with Mrs. Black Cragin was much impressed by his views, but Mrs. Cragin was more attracted by the doctrines of Noyes. Through Mrs Black the Cragins now obtained more of Noyes's writings, antI made the acquaintance of the group of Perfectionists, about twenty-five in number, living in the vicinity of Newark, New Jersey. In October 1839 they met for the first time Abram C. Smith. Formerly of Newark, he now lived at Rondout, near Kingston, seventy-five miles up the Hudson River. His business however brought him often to New York.


New York, November 22, 1839.

Dear Brother:
It is now nealy four weeks since I was translated from the "kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son." To him be all the glory, who has taken me out of the "pit of miry clay," and set my feet upon the rock Christ Jesus never

1. Page 6.


to be moved. Long I struggled, hard I worked, and much I prayed, until I saw that unbelief was the obstacle that prevented me from receiving full salvation from sin. Here I supposed I must wait for him to reveal himself to me, so that I could believe. Your essay on Faith was put into my hands, and I clearly saw while reading it that I must confess Christ without feeling. This was a new and startling idea, but the Lord showed me that this was faith, that this was really and truly venturing upon him. I immediately began to testify to the fact that Christ was in me a savior from all sin, and soon found joy and peace in believing. I need not tell you that my peace is as a river." "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul!"

But I have not told you all. No! Words cannot express the half. While 1 am writing to you I am weeping for joy My dear husband one week since entered the kingdom. When I tell you that he has been the publishing agent of The Advocate of Moral Reform, and had been born but three days when they cast him out, you will rejoice with me. Ah, brother Noyes, how have "the mighty fallen!" In him you will find a most rigidly upright character, Grahamism' and Oberlin perfection all in ruins. How he clung to Oberlin as with a death-grasp! How confident he was that none were saved from sin but mere Grahamites! How disgusted with the conduct of Perfectionists! The Lord has pulled down strong towers. Bless the Lord. On the first of December he will be without money and without business. How this rejoices me! We shall stand still and see the Lord provide.

Will you please to write us, and give our love to all in the faith with whom you meet? We shall he very glad to see yoti, when you come to the city.

In peace and love, yours,

1 Advocates of unbolted "Graham" bread. - G. W. N.


Chapter 5: Delusion at Work | Contents