Page images

ident of Nassau Hall, and the Proprietor and Director of the Grammar School, annexed to the College, and then taught by Mr. Nathaniel Erwin, late minister of Neshaminy. Such was the diligence and success with which he pursued his preparatory studies, that at every examination he was honored with a premium. The period be spent at the Grammar School, previous to his admission into the College, was much shorter than usual. His whole course of classical education was com. pleted in six years, at the early age of twenty. But the event, which above all others distinguished the period of his residence at the Grammar Scbool, and which Jaid the foundation for bis future usefulness in the church of Christ, was his conversion. Here, as appears from a MS. account of the event now before the writer, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the eyes of his mind were opened; he perceived, felt and lamented the exceeding sinfulness of his own heart and life ; and renouncing all dependence on any thing be could do to effect his own salvation, was led to rely wholly on the inerits and mediation of a crucified Saviour. In his own time, the Lord was pleased to diffuse the light of his reconciled countenance into his anxious and humbled soul. On hearing the joyful and welcome intelligence of this event, his parents exclaimed, « Now hath the Lord answered our prayers in his tender mercies toward that son, whom we had specially dedicated to his service.” During his whole collegiate course, he continued a warm hearted, active, exemplary christian.

Soon after he had completed his classical education, in the autumn of 1775, he was invited to take charge of a Latin school at Elizabethtown, in New Jersey, which he taught with the approbation, both of bis pupils, and of the Trustees. But this employment fell short of his great object.' He accordingly resigned the school, and placed himself under the care of the Rev. ROBERT Smith, of Lancaster County, in conformity to whose directions, residing at his father's bouse, he pursued and finished his course of theological studies, preparatory to his entrance on the work of the ministry.

In the year 1778, he put himself under the care of the Presbytery of Philadelphia ; and in the autumn of the same year, received from that body a license to preach the gospel. The following winter he spent in a preaching tour, from which he returned to his father's house in April, suffering under a sore and most painful pleuretic complaint, which affected his liver, and imminently threatened his life. After a long and distressing sickness, he was relieved, though not restored to firm health, in an extraordinary manner. The matter which had collected internally, and caused his pain, discharged itself, in consequence of the application of a blister, near his shoulder blade, and his recovery immediately followed.

In March, 1780, having previously preached at Alexandria, in Virginia, he received from the Presbyterian church and society in that place, left vacant by the removal of the Rev. William Thom, an affectionate and unanimous call, (to which “ the inhabitants of every denomination echoed universal consent,"') to settle among them, as their pastor, “ promising obedience to his doctrine and discipline, so far as they should be agreeable to the word of God.” The call from this church he accepted, and was ordained by the Presby. tery of Philadelphia, with a view to his taking the pas. toral charge of it. On the 30th of May, 1780, he received his dismission from the Presbytery of Philadelphia to that of Donnegall, who had the care of the church over which he had been ordained. He had previously received a call from a church in Allentown, New Jersey, to which he sent a negative but affectionate answer.

la the autumn of 1784, he was attacked by a fever, which weakened still more his already enfeebled constitution. The following reflections, after his recovery from this sickness, are worthy to be preserved. They are contained in a letter of his to his brother and sister, dated Alexandria, September 7, 1785, “I am not without hope, that these aflictive dispensations, are the corrections of a Father's band, mercifully designed to promote my spiritual improvement ; and in connexion with that, my truest and highest happiness. I sensibly feel the need in which I stand of frequent chastisement, to disengage my affections from an inordinate attachment to the world; to impress a livelier conviction of the evil of sin; to excite to greater fidelity, in the discharge of duty, and to awaken more ardent desires, and diligent preparations for the happiness of a better life. Should it be productive of these happy fruits, and these I hope, through the attending blessing, and sanctifying spirit of God, will not be altogether wanting. I shall then have reason to reckon my affliction among the number of my choicest mercies, and to acknowledge with joy and thankfulness, “ That it is good for me that I have been afflicted.” This is the language of a truly christian faith and piety ; but the spirit from which it flows, is as difficult to be acquired and maintained, as it is desir. able to be possessed. Happy truly are they, and they



alone, whose souls have been formed by the grace of God for the principles of our holy religion, to rejoice in the prosperity of this life, as though they rejoiced hot, and to weep under the sorrows of it, as though they wept not ; considering the time as short, and the fashion of this world as passing swiftly away. Soon, very soon, my dear brother and sister, will it pass away from us, or we from it. . Let us then seriously and impartially inquire, whether we are properly prepared to take our final leave of it; whether we have those satisfying evidences of a christian faith, and repentance, and love, and obedience, and a conscience so void of offence both towards God and man, that we can welcome the prospect of eternity, in the animating persuasion or hope, that the joys prepared for the good and faithful servant in the kingdom of our Lord, shall be our everlasting portion. Let these, therefore, be constantly made the chief objects of our attention and regard, and let us not forget to help each other by our mutual prayers, that we may find mercy, and obtain grace, to be faithful in the things, which so deeply concern the safety and happiness of our immortal souls."

The feelings here expressed, were not left to expire without a corresponding effort to render some acceptable service to the Lord, by doing good to his fellow men. Accordingly, in Nov. 1785, he prepared the following plan of a Society, which, from the wisdom and liberality it displays, does great credit to his understanding and heart.

Outlines of a plan for forming a religious society in the town of Alexandria.

Ir is conceived that a society, founded on catholic principles, so as to unite christians of different persua

To Dr. F.

288 Rev. Mr. P.

293 Dr. F.

296 The same

300 The same

303 Mrs. S. W.


319 Mrs. W.

325 The Committee of the church in the first Society in Farmington 338 Mrs. W.

343 Mrs. B. of B t

350 Dr. F.

359 The same

363 Mrs. W.

368 The same

378 The same, on the death of her son

385 Dr. F.

389 The same

392 Mr.J. S.

395 Rev. Dr. M.

403 Mrs. H.

412 Rev. Dr. M.

421 Rev. Mr. P.

424 Rev. Dr. S.

427 The President of the Congregational Society

433 Dr. E.S.


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »