Page images



His first efforts as a preacher-His religious character further developed.


Visits Portland-his favorable reception, and Ordination.


His concern for his flock-reverse in his temporal prospects-is taken from his work by sickness.


Resumes his pastoral labors-letters-review of the year.






His dependance on God-its influence on himself and church-His uniform purpose to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified—illustration -Letters-resolutions increased success.



Permanency and strength of maternal influence-
Correspondence-Death-bed anguish, how allevi-
ated-Disgraceful incident-Price of popularity
-Reasons of former trials developed-Letters, &c. 196



Uses of religious biography. Birth of Edward Payson -His early impressions; intellectual qualities; filial and fraternal conduct; moral character-His literary education: enters Harvard College; his reputation there.

If, as it has been well observed, "the memorials of the good constitute one of the most sacred possessions of the Church of Christ," there is an obligation, resting on each successive generation of her children, to perpetuate those living evidences of Christianity, which have been exhibited by their most distinguished cotemporaries. It is not submitted to our choice, whether, or not, we will preserve and hand down the characters of such, as have been eminent in their day for the savor and strength of their piety, the ardor and steadfastness of their devotion, the consistency and power of their example, and the abundance and success of their labors in the cause of their crucified King; the duty is imperative. Nor does the value of a mere human example depend upon its freedom from imperfection, so much as upon the degree of resistance, which its original has overcome in his progress towards 'the mark of our high calling.' To secure the object contemplated by such a memorial, it is not necessary to hold up the character as faultless,-nor even to magnify its excellencies, or extenuate its defects. A strict adherence to truth, and a just representation of facts, will not only be safest for man, but most effectually exalt the grace of God. That apostle, who labored more abundantly than his fellows, recognises it as among the causes, why he had

[ocr errors]

obtained mercy, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,—that he might be a pattern to them, who should hereafter believe.' The heart, alive to its guilt and wretchedness, would sink in everlasting despondency, if it might not revert to the chief of sinners,' as among the number whom Christ came to save, and who have actually obtained salvation. The discouragements arising from inbred sin, in all its countless varieties of operation, would depress the christian almost beyond recovery, but for the recorded experience of others, weighed down by the pressure of similar burdens, who finally came off conquerors, 'through Him who loved them.’ From the 'great fight of afflictions,' which his elder brethren, who have preceded him in the weary pilgrimage, have' endured,' and the terrible conflicts with passion and temptation, which they have survived, he may learn, that his case is not singular; that, however fiery the trial, to which he is subjected, still 'no strange thing hath happened unto him.' There is no unholy bias of the heart, no easily besetting sin, no violence of passion, no force of temptation, which has not been vanquished by faith in things unseen; and that too, in circumstances as unfavorable to victory, as any in which men now are, or, probably, ever will be placed. Enemies, as virulent and formidable, as any that lie in wait for our souls, have been successfully resisted,trials as disheartening and struggles as desperate as any that await our faith, have been met, sustained, surmounted, by men of like passions with ourselves.' 'Out of the depths they cried unto the Lord, and were heard; they overcame through the blood of the Lamb.'

Nor will the benefit be limited to the fervent believer, in his spiritual conflicts. These monumental records will meet the eye of him, who has a name to live while he is dead;' and they are adapted, beyond most other means, to break his fatal slumber, to excite salutary apprehensions in his mind, and fasten there the unwelcome, but needful conviction, that he has 'neither part nor lot' in the Christian's inheritance. The marked contrast, which he cannot fail to observe, between the operations of a mind animated by the Spirit and glowing with the love of God, and those of which he is himself conscious;-between the moral achievements of a man, carried forward by the

« PreviousContinue »