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when shall I arise, and the night be gone? I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day!—When I say, my bed shall comfort me, and my couch shall ease my complaint; then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me with night visions: So that my soul chooseth strangling and death rather than life.-I loathe it, I would not not live alway.'
Mr. Whelpley imagined, and in this he was unquestionably correct, that the sufferings of Dr. Payson were greater than any one knew or suspected; and, he adds, 'they were endured, for the most, in silence. At midnight he would arise and walk his room, singing some plaintive air. At first, I knew not what to make of the unwonted and mournful sounds, which broke in upon my slumbers; and often, as the sound softly died away, my soul was filled with sadness.-He complained much of his head. In one conversation, he dwelt particularly on the causes which had operated to undermine and destroy his health. Among them was his great and increasing anxiety for a general and powerful revival of religion among his people; his incessant labors to secure so great a blessing, and the repeated disappointments he had experienced from year to year. We would seem, said Dr. Payson, to be on the eve of an extensive revival, and my hopes would be correspondently raised; and then the favorable appearances would vanish away. Under the pow erful excitement of hope, and under the succeeding depression arising from disappointment, my strength failed, and I sunk rapidly under my labors. He spoke of having been under a temptation, constantly, to labor beyond his strength; and believed many a faithful minister had thus been tempted by satan to cut short his days. In this way his own life had been shortened. When in a season of excitement, he had exhausted his whole strength, even then satan suggested that he had not done enough, but must do much more, or be counted unfaithful.'
If the proofs of his disinterestedness were not so abundant and conclusive, this ceaseless anxiety for a revival could hardly be regarded otherwise than as sinful impatience, and as indicating a want of gratitude for what God did perform by him. It appears the more remarkable, when contemplated in connection with the fact, that
the church was continually growing under his ministra tions, and the congregation enlarging, till there was not room enough to receive them. There are many good ministers, who would consider themselves favored by such a measure of success as attended his least honored labors. In no year of his ministry did his church receive less than ten new members, and in only one year so small a number; while at another time, the yearly increase was seventy-three, and in the year of his death, seventy-nine; and the average number, was more than thirty-five a year during the whole of his ministry. If there were an entire suspension of divine influences at any time, it was of temporary duration. Judging from the accessions made to the church, there must have been a constant and gradual work of God. If the term of his ministry be divided into periods of five years, the number, added in each period, differs from that of every other period, by a comparatively small number. The difference is in favor of the first two periods, when with fewer bodily infirmities he 'ceased not daily, and from house to house, to testify repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.'
About mid-summer he returned from his last excursion abroad to the bosom of his family and flock, and continued to employ the little strength which remained, in making known Jesus Christ, and him crucified. From this labor no entreaties could prevail with him to desist. He continued to occupy his pulpit on the Sabbath, for the most part, through the following winter; notwithstanding parts of his body, particularly his right arm, had already begun to perish, and were not only useless, but an incumbrance. But while the outward man decayed, the inward man was renewed day by day.' This is, in a degree, true of his mental faculties, as well as of his religious progress. The coruscations of his intellect delighted and astonished his visiters. Among these was the Secretary of the American Education Society, who asking Dr. Payson for a message which he might carry from him to beneficiaries, received the following impromptu :
"What if God should place in your hand a diamond, and tell you to inscribe on it a sentence which should be
read at the last day, and shown there as an index of your own thoughts and feelings? what care, what caution would you exercise in the selection! Now this is what God has done. He has placed before you immortal minds, more imperishable than the diamond, on which you are about to inscribe every day and every hour by your instructions, by your spirit, or by your example, something which will remain and be exhibited for, or against you, at the judgment day."
We shall close our extracts and this chapter with two short letters to his mother, the last he ever wrote:
"MY DEAR MOther,
Feb. 1, 1827.
I have just received your letter; and though I am obliged to write with my left hand, and that is numb, I must try to scratch a few lines in reply. I am no better; am tolerably contented and happy, but have not much sensible consolation. We have increasing evidence that L. is become pious; but E., who seemed to be in a promising way, has lost his impressions. You have probably heard, that Mr. R. has hopes that H. is converted. We have about a dozen hopeful converts, and appearances are encouraging.—I have much to be thankful for. Wife, children, and people, all try to minister to my comfort.I rejoice to hear, that your mind is in so desirable a frame, though I expected no less. God has not led you so far to forsake you at last. Should you be taken away before me, I shall feel as Elisha did, when he lost Elijah; for I doubt not your prayers have been of great service to me. I received a letter from G. lately, inviting me to come and spend part of the winter at Newyork. I thank him, but I cannot come. Home is the only place for a cripple, who can neither dress nor undress himself; besides, I can be of some service to my people, while here. I have many things to say; but writing is so wearisome and painful, that I can add nothing more. Assure G. and E. of
my warmest love, and believe me
Your affectionate son.
"MY DEAR MOTHER,
I wrote the inclosed letter, three weeks since, and sent it with the money by a man, who said he was going to Newyork; but after I hoped it had arrived there, it came back to me again.—I have just received your last letter, and what shall I say in reply? If my hand would permit, I could say much; if my health would allow of it, I would come and see you. As it is, I can only say, God be with you, my dear mother, and bless you, as he has made you a blessing to me. If it be his will, that we should not meet again in this world, I must say-farewell, for a short time; for short, I trust, will be the time, before we meet again. Farewell, then, my dear, dear mother! for a short time, farewell!"
It proved to be the last farewell. His mother, a few days afterwards, was called to her eternal home.
His last labors.-His spiritual joys, heavenly counsels, and brightening intellect, during the progress of his disease-his triumphant exit.-Conclusion.
Dr. Payson was, at length, compelled to yield to the irresistible power of disease. Parts of his body, including his right arm and left side, were very singularly affected. They were incapable of motion, and lost all sense of feeling externally; while in the interior parts of the limbs thus affected, he experienced, at intervals, a most intense burning sensation, which he compared to a stream of fused metal, or liquid fire, coursing through his bones. No external applications were of the least service; and in addition to his acute sufferings from this source, he was frequently subject to most violent attacks of nervous headache.
It was with great reluctance that he relinquished preaching. The spirit continued willing,' long after the flesh failed.' But who can resist the appointment of heaven! The decree had gone forth, that he must die; and the progress of his complicated maladies declared but too unequivocally that the decree must soon be executed. He did not, however, cease preaching at once; but, at first secured assistance for half the day only. An arrangement to this effect, which was expected to continue several weeks, commenced on the second Monday of March. He occupied the pulpit in the morning. His text was, The word of the Lord is tried. The sermon was not written, of course; but no one, that he ever wrote, not even his celebrated discourse on the Bible, was more instructive and eloquent, than this-particularly those parts, in which he described the trials to which the word of the Lord had been subjected by its enemies, and the tests of a different character which it had sustained from its friends. Never, scarcely, were the mightiest infidels made to appear so puny, insignificant, and fool