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seemed to dart like lightning through a difficult subject, and by a single effort, to relieve it from all its obscurity.
One of the features, by which his intellectual character was strongly marked, was an uncommon power of invention. Some of his ideas, on almost every subject, were peculiarly his own; and even those which were comparatively trite, could not pass through his mind without receiving a tinge of originality. His imagination, though originally prolific, was disciplined with the strictest care, and oftener delighted by its gentle and delicate touches, than overpowered by its awful sublimity and magnificence. It was his to wander in the calm sunshine of heaven, and amidst the softer and more beautiful scenes of creation, rather than to move in the whirlwind, or mount in the storm. A vein of brilliant but chastened humour frequently appeared in his conversation, which, while it always gave a charm to his intercourse with his friends, never left an impression unfavourable to the strict delicacy of his feelings, or the dignity of his character.
The qualities of his heart also, all who knew him will acknowledge, were peculiarly excellent. Benevolence marked his whole deportment. The more private and endearing relations of life, he sustained with the utmost dignity and affection; and never seemed more in the sphere for which Providence designed him, than when mingling in the social enjoyments of his own fireside. In his common intercourse, he was unusually affable and communicative, and accommodated himself, with peculiar felicity, to the characters of those with whom he conversed. To all his other amiable and social qualities were added an unusual serenity and cheerfulness of temper, which gave to his old age a charm, as rare as it was delightful.
His manners were the simple effusion of his amiable and excellent feelings. Without any of that severity or ostentation which are so often mistaken for the concomitants of greatness, he was uniformly mild and unobtrusive. Though it was impossible to be long in his presence without an impression of his superiority, that impression was never assisted by any thing like personal display. His politeness was of the highest kind : It was nature speaking in all her simplicity and loveliness through his whole deportment.
As a CHRISTIAN, Doctor Lathrop was also in no small degree distinguished. If we were to attempt to describe his religious character in a single word, we should say that it was eminently consistent. He was equally remote from the intemperate heat of enthusiasm on the one hand, and that miserable, lifeless system, which excludes all exercise of the affections on the other. It was his favourite maxim, that the evidence of a christian temper is not so much to be sought in occasional fervours, as in a consistent, pious, and exemplary deportment. Those who knew him best are most ready to testify in what rich abundance he brought forth the fruits of the Spirit ; how frequent, fervent, and affectionate was his communion with his God; how exemplary were his patience and fortitude under the pressure of deep affliction, and the accumulated infirmities of age; how inoffensive, and forbearing, and charitable, he was in all his intercourse with the world; how much disposed to mourn over the deficiencies and sins of his life, and give to God all the glory of his salvation; how benign, joyful, and even rapturous was the spirit with which he sometimes spake of his approaching departure, and his entrance upon that rest which remains for the people of God.The glorious plan of redemption was the theme which occupied his mind above every other; and while absorbed in meditation on this wonderful subject, he seemed almost to rise above these regions of mortality, and anticipate the transports of the redeemed. It was his usual practice to devote the first and last moments of every day to solemn self-examination, meditation, and prayer. In this exercise, he has been heard to say, that he found great satisfaction and profit; and there is no doubt that it contributed much to the stability and elevation of his christian character.
But the most interesting view of Doctor Lathrop's character remains yet to be exhibited : It was as a MINISTER of Jesus that his reputation shone with the most unclouded splendour. To his comprehensive intellect and exalted piety was added all that acquired ministerial furniture which is necessary to constitute a great theologian. From the straightened advantages of his early theological education, as well as from the constant pressure of parochial duties in after life, it was not to be expected that his reading should be so extensive or various, as that of many others, who are placed in more propitious circumstances. He was, however, familiar with the most distinguished theological writers, and could analyze, at pleasure, many important controversies in the christian church. The science of theology he had carefully studied in all its parts and connections. The system of truth which he found in the BIBLE, and to which he stedfastly adhered, was that, of which salvation by the atoning blood and life-giving spirit of Christ, is the prominent feature. Here, he often declared, he rested his hope of heaven; and that if the great doctrine of atonement were taken away, there was, in his view, nothing left in the gospel, to meet the necessities of a sinner. At the same time, his enlarged views of christianity led him to place a due estimate upon every part of evangelical truth. The system of doctrines and precepts, revealed in the gospel, was, to his apprehension, a harmonious and beautiful whole; every part of which, though not absolutely essential to salvation, bears the impressions of truth and Divinity.
As a preacher, Doctor Lathrop undoubtedly held no ordinary rank. He never conducted his hearers into the field of metaphysical and refined speculation, but was contented to preach the truth as it is in Jesus. His discourses were remarkable for a practical exhibition of gospel truth, for a strict and ingenious analysis of his subject, for abounding with lively, impressive sentiment, and deep and critical views of human nature, and for a simplicity and perspicuity of method, sentiment, and expression, which rendered them alike intelligible to the most illiterate, and gratifying to the most refined of his hearers. It is a common observation among preachers, that the great truths of the gospel, from the peculiar constitution of the human mind, lose much of their effect, by being often repeated; but Doctor Lathrop possessed the rare talent of making the text of every discourse so prominent, that while he kept constantly in view the same cardinal truths, his hearers were perpetually gratified with novelty. Though he preached all the doctrines of the gospel affectionately and faithfully, he never introduced controversy into the desk, unless some exigency manifestly required it. As a writer of occasional sermons, it may be doubted whether he was exceeded by any preacher of his day. His peculiarly fertile and inventive genius supplied him with materials appropriate to every occasion. He composed with great rapidity, and, it would seem, with less intellectual effort than most writers of eminence. He has left behind him about five thousand manuscript sermons, a noble monument of his piety, talents, and industry.
In his devotional exercises, he was peculiarly fervent, appropriate, and instructive. His occasional prayers were so remarkably pertinent, that no circumstance, which could excite sympathy or interest, seemed to be overlooked. While the pious mind attended upon these exercises with delight and edification, it was impossible to resist the impression, that his heart was warmed with the true spirit of a disciple. Those of us, my hearers, who have so often been privileged, to accompany him to the throne of grace, will never forget the affectionate servour which seemed to glow in every petition, the exalted strain of evangelical sentiment, the expressions of deep humility and unfeigned confidence in the merits of the Redeemer, and the tender and animating benedictions which he pronounced upon his beloved people. The interests of his congregation were peculiarly near his heart, and his prayers were never more fervent, than while he was commending them in all the tenderness of a father to the blessing of his Father in heaven.
His manner in the pulpit, as I am informed, was natural, solemn, and impressive. Without possessing, in a high degree, the graces of elocution, there was a dignified and reverent style of address which gave importance to every sentiment that he uttered. It was the unaffected expression of a heart impressed and elevated by a sense of the presence and majesty of Jehovah.
In his pastoral intercourse, he was uncommonly' attentive to the peculiar circumstances of his flock, and disposed to make great personal sacrifices, for the sake of preserving their union and prosperity. Above all, he was an eminent example of prudence. He was cautious, without being timid; familiar without sacrificing his dignity ; condescending, without abandoning what he believed to be the principles of duty. In cases of difficulty, his people always found in him a counsellor, in whose decisions they could trust with unwavering confidence. In seasons of affliction, they found him alive to all their sorrows, and ready to commend them to the God of all grace and comfort. They only, who have known and loved him as their minister, can form an adequate idea of the tenderness and dignity, with which he sustained the pastoral relation.
As a ruler in the church, few men have been more eminently distinguished. His excellent judgment and consummate prudence, united with a deep discernment of character, and an extensive acquaintance with ecclesiastical government, eminently qualified him to be entrusted with the most important interests of the church. The numerous instances, in which his advice has been solicited in doubtful and perplexing cases, shew in what esti