“In 1799 [Hosea Ballou] came to Reading, Vermont, to preach and was confronted before the service by a deacon from the Baptist Church, who wanted to ask him a question.
‘Are you, said he, ‘the Mr. Ballou who is to preach here this afternoon?’
‘I am,’ replied Mr. Ballou.
‘Well, Mr. Ballou, I understand you are in a great hurry, but I must take time to ask you one question. Mr. Ballou, what do you think of the case of a man who should go out of the world cursing and swearing, and calling on God to damn his soul?’
Mr. Ballou had be a moment that he could devote to the the man, and he said, ‘Why, deacon, a profane swearer is a very, very wicked man, no doubt; and do you think God will answer the prayer of so wicked a man as that?’
‘No,’ said the deacon, ‘I am sure he will not.’
‘Well, deacon,’ said Mr. Ballou, ‘you have answered your own question,’ and he passed into the house where the people were waiting for service to begin.”
–Carl Seaburg, “Bring Them Hope, Not Hell,” Salted With Fire. Boston: Skinner House Books, 1994: 44.