Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

to promote by living in the christian temper, walking as Christ walked, living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present.world.

He lamented his incapacity for conversation, and seemed disposed to reflect on himself for not having improved his time with more diligence while he had strength for usefulness.

Ever fond of society, but especially that of his brethren in the ministry, be manifested an increasing anxiety to have frequent interviews with them, and at every such interview he would dwell principally on the necessity of ministerial diligence and zeal. This was not done as if flowing from passions recently harrowed up by the alarms of approaching death, but in a firm and rational way, like a man getting a clearer view of an object the nearer he approached it. He endeavoured much to im. press the minds of his brethren with just ideas of the unpromising state of religion and morals in our country -of the worth of souls—the comparative littleness of the world-its profits, and its honours, and its pleasures --the importance of family religion, and family instruction, to both civil and religious society--that without a reformation in these things the American government will degenerate into anarchy and consequent despotism; and the civil, and perhaps the religious liberty of the nation be lost in the ruins of the republic.

Good will to man appeared to be the fountain from whence all his conversation flowed: not like a torrent foaming by the inundaţion of a sudden shower, but as an equal stream from some dever-failing spring; according

[ocr errors]

to the promise, it shall be in him a well of water springing up unto life eternal.

His efforts were not confined to the ministry. He improved every opportunity during the period of his confinement, to urge upon all who visited him the excellency, the importance, and the necessity of true religion, and the danger of neglecting it. All bis conversation was, as ever, aimed at the great object of benefiting mankind. When light-minded persons would enter his room, he would even condescend to some little humourous detail, that he might make his company agreeable to them, and put them in a good humour to receive some useful lesson which he had in yiew to give them-to teach them something important-something calculated to promote their present and future happiness. At one time a servant came into his rooin while he was in a hard struggle: calling him by name, he said, “This is hard work: you had better even now be engaged to obtain a preparation for such a period, or it may go much harder with you.

You will find when you come to die, that to struggle with death will be as much as you can bear; with the load of all your crimes upon you unre: pented of, nforgiven, you will find this no time to secure your soul's salvation. Don't put it off any longer.?

The low estate of Zion in pur country- the prevalence of vice, ignorance, bigotry, superstition, enthusiasm, error and schism, for

years before his death, cost bim many painful bours. He was frequently heard to express it as his opinion, that, without a miracle of di. vine grace, the next generation would become heathens or ipfidels-that he hardly ever met with a company of young persons, but it excited a kind of gloom on his mind to think what might be their state in life, and the state of the church, when the present generation was gone. He always considered them as the hope of the church; therefore, in his addresses to youth, he was ever pathetically tender and affectionate. He had the beart of a father,-he wept over them in life and in death, and his last advice to them was, to weep for themselves. This state of mind was so impressive in his last illness, that for many months before he left us, that of a mourner appeared to be a leading feature in his character. Often, when reflecting upon the deplorable condition of the youth among us, he felt an ardent desire to have them collected around him, that he might once more weep over them, and warn them of the danger which awaited them. When about to take any thing agreeably to the doctor's direction, to mitigate his pain, he would be apt to observe that the best cordial for him would be to hear of the prosperity of Zionthat his careless neighbours were attending to the one thing needful—if it would not remove, it would enable him to bear his burden. He often spake of his own deficiences in the most humbling terms: not so much his want of faithfulness in publicly preaching the word, as his not improving every opportunity in families and with individuals to promote their spiritual interests, and in labouring to do good to the souls of his fellow creatores by recommending the religion of Jesus. He was afraid his brethren in the ministry were criminal in the same way; and would lament that private christians did not

REV. DAVID RICE.

10.5

appear to consider it their duty, by every prudent method in their private capacity, to recommend religion; and in that way to be preaching the gospel. He deeply lamented the folly and madness of multitudes in paying ng regard to the authority and commands of God, and neglecting the only way of salvation. He would sometimes observe, "that as he sw a propriety in it, so he felt an inclination to go mourning to his grave."

This was a common theme with him, and he was apt to close his observations in the words of the prophet, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a foun. tain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” This he would express with emphatic fervor. Having imbibed much of the spirit of his divine master, at a time when it appeared natural that every other thought should be swallowed up in his own sufferings, like Him, they did not make him forget the church, his country, or his fellow creatures through the world, but appeared to quicken his ardor for the prosperity of the one and the happiness of the other.

His anxiety for the promotion of religion, and his seeing or hearing of little or nothing that appeared favourable, at least in this country, gave a colouring to the state of his mind, while the uncommonly distressing nature of his disorder made him fond of repeating and commenting on such passages as these:-"A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench”—“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," &c.

As in all his sufferings his own bodily pain was less distressing than the fear that he might dishonour God and religion by manifesting an unbecoming temper; so, to obviate the effects of such example, frequently would he tell his family and his neighbours that he had great jealousies of himself on this head, and that if, in his long aftliction, he should become peevish, he wished them to take notice that he entered his solemn protest against himself for it. When he would be reminded with how much patience and firmness he suffered, he would observe, “You know nothing about me, I know I shall fail if God withdraw the kind supports of his grace from me." Speaking to his much esteemed friend, the Rev. Mr. Abell, he said, “Tell my friends, in their prayers for me, I wish this to be their petition,--that I may not dishonour God before I die.” Patience and resignation were the subjects of his prayers; bis pray. ers were answered-he never to the last moment discovered that weakness of mind which utters the impa

tient sigh.

So far from being in a terror at approaching death, he had full command of all his reasoning powers, like a man about to die in perfect health, with all his senses about him. He frequently directed his family to give him water often, should he become speechless, (which took place about two days and a half before his death) because many, he believed, often sufiered greatly for water after they became incapable of calling for it. In attending to this direction, which was done about every ten minutes, when asked if he would receive it, he gen

ally intimated his assent.

« ZurückWeiter »