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to be just and fine when developed by the touch of his genius. He had a happy facility of blending strokes of quaint or rich humor with the most important truths, in such a manner as to produce a racy mixture of valuable instruction and animating amusement. These qualities imparted to his conversation a peculiar zest, which few, who had the privilege of enjoying it, will ever forget. His sayings were not of a kind to pass away with the occasion, but were remembered and applied. They left a deep impression, especially on the minds of the young, to whom he knew well how to adapt his remarks, and whose delight in listening to him was a matter of common observation. Many, who in their youth were familiar with him in his best days, have remarked, that they received more wisdom and more happy excitement from him, than from any other person they had ever known. In the practical philosophy of life, which brings its instructions home to men's business and bosoms, he had few equals, and scarcely a superior.
Among Dr. Allyn's moral qualities, benevolence was one of the most prominent. He was a liberal giver, almost to a fault. Wherever misery could be relieved, wherever comfort could be bestowed, no man was more dutifully prompt and busy. It was remarkable, that with his slender means, he was able to do so much in these labors of kindness. If he incurred any fault in this respect, it was by neglecting a just regard to the proportion between his bounty and his resources. No personal or party considerations mingled in the exercise of his benevolence. The poor and the aged, the neglected and the forgotten, were the favorite objects of his charitable attentions. The inhabitants of solitary and obscure cottages remember, and will long remember, his readiness to relieve their wants, his judicious endeavors to enable them to help themselves, his kind counsels, his fervent prayers, his faithful and consolatory instructions. If ever a man lived free from the debasing influences of selfishness, Dr. Allyn did so;—if ever one was most happy when doing most good, he was that man.
The piety of Dr. Allyn was sincere, rational, and constant, connecting itself intimately with his habitual trains of thought, and manifest in all his great and favorite principles. Few men had more of the reality of religious feeling, and less of the trappings which are sometimes mistaken for its essence, or of the regular mechanism by which so many suppose it must necessarily be exhibited. If there were those, who sometimes thought that he might justly be charged with speaking lightly of sacred subjects, they overlooked the fact that his pleasantry was exercised, not upon serious truths, but upon the appendages or speculations which men have connected with religion. In addition to this, should be recollected his habit of supposing, perhaps with too much confidence, that he should not be misunderstood. His persuasions with respect to the moral government of God, the necessity and the solemn truths of divine revelation, the awful responsibleness growing out of the connection between this life and a future existence,—his reverence for the Scriptures,—and his conviction of the inestimable importance of the Gospel to the good of the individual and of society,—were deep, permanent, and thorough. He thought and conversed much about death and the spiritual world. His views on these subjects were peculiarly happy and attractive; and his manner of stating them was sometimes remarkably impressive. He loved to indulge conjectures respecting the nature and employments of the future state, in which the spirit of a truly Christian philosophy was always visible, and which often were full of rich and delightful meaning.
His sermons were not distinguished by those qualities, which constitute the reputation of common-place popularity. They had none of the indiscriminate statements, coarse appeals, and exaggerated representations, by which many minds are easily warmed into admiration at the moment, but from which they take no edifying or salutary impressions. His preaching was adapted to be useful in the most effectual manner, by enlightening the mind, and by interesting the affections of the heart in behalf of the great truths that take hold on eternity. He never sought or courted the praise, which is so often won by striking declamation, or by random boldness, but believed that men are to be made wise unto salvation by the application of Christian truths to their moral and intellectual nature, in conformity with the laws of the human constitution as established by God. He deemed it of great importance, that preaching should be quite plain and intelligible. This was a favorite topic in his conversation; and many will remember, that he not unfrequently directed his wit against the poor ambition of learned, beautiful, or profound discourses, at the expense of edification and all the true purposes of pulpit instruction. The theory, which he habitually maintained on this subject, he reduced to practice.
Dr. Allyn was peculiarly happy in giving pertinent and impressive illustrations of difficult passages of Scripture, especially in the religious exercises of the family. The new and striking points of view, in which he set some portion of the Sacred Writings by his comparisons and applications, will long be remembered by those who heard them. His theological sentiments on all important points were those, which are usually designated as belonging to the liberal school. No man, however, was less shackled by the trammels of sect and party. His opinions were his own, and could not be said to coincide with the lines marked out by any denomination, or to be conformed to any human creeds. They were, for the most part, clear, well defined, and fearlessly expressed. But he had a very strong and decided dislike of religious controversy. If his views on this subject were sometimes indiscriminate, or carried to an unreasonable extreme, it was because the narrow spirit and the bigoted pertinacity, which so often accompany and follow disputation, were peculiarly uncongenial to his largeness of mind. His liberality towards such as differed from the portion of the religious community with whom he was classed, is well remembered by all who were acquainted with his habitual feelings and conduct.
As a scholar, Dr. Allyn deservedly stood at a high point of respectability. He had little of the erudition that is merely curious; nor did he make his mind "the warehouse of other men's lumber." But his classical reading and his professional learning, while they ranged within no narrow limits, were well chosen and well directed. He had large stores of such knowledge as is connected with the most interesting and important topics of inquiry, or with useful applications to the wants and duties of life. In his early years he had been a diligent student, and read with a keen appetite; at a later period, he cared less for books, and delighted more in the observation of man and of nature, and in giving free play to his own thoughts. Of his library, which was valuable and judiciously selected, he had made an industrious use. His favorite commentators on Scripture were Grotius, Le Clerc, and Locke,—especially the last, for whose character and writings he entertained the most profound respect. In mental philosophy and ethics, the authors, in whom he most delighted, were Locke and Abraham Tucker.
1 have spoken of Dr. Allyn as he was in his best days, when the peculiar powers of his extraordinary mind were in full action. The latter part of his life was darkened by disease, suffering, and decay. A premature feebleness came upon his system. He was gradually prostrated under the effects of a paralysis, which reduced him to bodily helplessness, and at length brought a cloud over the light of his once clear and powerful intellect, till the last of mortal changes came to his relief. But we willingly forget this period of sorrow, and think of him now only as he was in those better years, when his playful wisdom, his benevolent heart, his enlightened views of religion, and his strong, original habits of thought, were the delight of every circle in which he moved. The published writings of Dr. Allyn are few. His strong reluctance to commit his productions to the press was rarely overcome. His writings, whether published or in manuscript, though marked with an abundance of good sense, and sometimes of a high order, cannot be said on the whole to do justice to his characteristic powers, or to give an adequate representation of his mind. This is to be accounted for by the fact, that for his best exertions he depended much on the excitement of company, and the animation of social intercourse. It was in the unrestrained flow of conversation, in the extemporaneous discussion of topics started by familiar questions, or in collision with other minds, that his friends witnessed and enjoyed those flashes of fine thought and striking illustration, which appeared more faintly, or vanished, in the solitary labors of the pen.
The following is a list of Dr. Allyn's published writings. A Sermon at the Ordination of Alden Bradford, in the East Parish of Pownalborough, Nov. 14th, 1793.
A Sermon on the Day of Public Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, 1798.
A Sermon preached at Hanover, Oct. 30th, 1799, entitled "The Flesh and the Spirit."
A Sermon delivered at Plymouth, Dec. 22d, 1801, one of the best of the numerous sermons on that occasion.
A Sermon at the Anniversary Election, May 29th, 1805. This is an excellent discourse,—the best which Dr. Allyn published.
A New Year's Sermon delivered at Duxbury, Jan. 1st, 1806.
No. I. of " The Christian Monitor, a Religious Periodical Work." This was published in 1806, and constitutes the first half of the first volume of the Christian Monitor. It consists of "Prayers and Devotional Exercises," and is one of the most valuable manuals of devotion in the language.
A Sermon preached at Sandwich, Aug. 24, 1808, before the Academy in that place.
A Charge at the Ordination of Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., Jan. 1st, 1817.
A Charge at the Ordination of Rev. Benjamin Kent, as Associate Pastor with Dr. Allyn in Duxbury, June 7th, 1826.
Dr. Allyn likewise published two very characteristic and striking obituary notices,—one of Dr. West of New Bedford, and the other of Dr. Barnes of Scituate.
In 1804 Dr. Allyn delivered the Oration before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and in 1809 the Dudleian Lecture in Harvard College on Supremacy and Infallibility, from Matt, xxiii. 8 and 9,—neither of which was published.
In the summer of 1807 he was employed on a missionary tour in Maine, by the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and others in North America.
He was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Oct. 1799,—a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Aug. 1808,—and received the degree of D. D. from Harvard College in 1813. C. F.