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for Christianity rest its pretensions to divine authority; and that his parents were anxious, lest the son of their fondest hopes should become an infidel. These circumstances have induced a belief, that the entire change in the plan of his education, at a period of life when a bold inquisitive mind naturally asks questions on theological subjects, which it wants information to answer, arose from some doubts respecting religion.

The father's creed was marked with the austerity of Calvinism ; but the mind of the son was not formed by nature to receive on authority opinions that might appear to him irrational and unfounded. The probability of this conjecture is increased by the known fact, that the result of his examination into the evidence of Christianity was a firm belief of its divine original, accompanied with a rejection and zealous disapprobation of the dogmas of the famed theologist of Geneva ; which he considered as unsupported by scripture, and doing violence to the moral attributes of God. These opinions he retained through his long and exemplary life ; but in the latter part of it he became less confident in the results of all human investigation, and used to say, that he found it much easier to state with precision his doubts and difficulties, than the articles of his creed. This turn of mind never inclined him to scepticism, but rendered him catholick towards all from whom he differed. Ever after his early examination of the evidence of Christianity, he appears to have had a firm belief of its divine original.

On the expiration of his apprenticeship he commenced business in this town, and soon after married. Strength and activity were the characteristicks of his mind, and he became eminent in every thing to which he applied himself. At the age of thirty-six years he found himself possessed of property sufficient to satisfy his moderate desires. At this time his business was more profitable than at any former period, and free from hazard. But he had accomplished the purpose for which he engaged in commerce. He knew the necessity of a competency for the maintenance of his family, and felt the obligation of endeavouring to acquire it ; but he had no relish for the glitter of wealth, and no avarice to lead him to hoard it. His mind had never been limited to his comptingroom and ledger. By his mercantile education the objects of his pursuit had been less changed in fact, than in appearance. Possessing literature as well as talents, and thirsting for more knowledge, he abandoned commerce, and retired to Dedham, his native town, where his widowed mother still lived. Towards this excellent parent he was remarkably affectionate. Eminent for knowledge, justice and charity, he soon became the common friend, and almost the father of his native village.

He was chosen a representative in the provincial assembly ; there his talents and merit were immediately conspicuous, and he was elected a counsellor ; but the choice was negatived by the governour, as he had become conspicuous in opposing the claims of the British government. This was repeated a number of years. He was constantly elected till it was thought imprudent to persist in negativing him. He continued in the council six years, and until negatived by governour Gage, in company with the late governour Bowdoin and doctor Winthrop ; the British administration having expressly ordered those three gentlemen to be negatived, in case they should be re-elected into the council. This was supposed to have taken place in consequence of the formal controversy between governour Hutchinson and the council on the right of the British Parliament to tax the colonies ; which had been conducted, on the part of the council, by those three members. It will readily be believed that neither the zeal of Mr. Dexter for the principles of the revolution, nor his popu. larity was impaired by this circumstance. While he was a member of the provincial assembly, he was appointed commissioner for settling the disastrous business then known by the name of the Land Bank, and also treasurer of the province. The former office he accepted, but the latter he de. clined.

At the beginning of the war he was an active member of the provincial congress, though in a very weak state of health. Being one of a committee, whose duty it was to report a plan of defence at that critical juncture, he differed in opinion from the majority; they were in favour of raising an army immediately, before any regular system of supplies had been organized; he contended that some establishments for arming, feeding and clothing an army were first to be made ; that to collect together in the neighbourhood of a formidable, hostile regular force, a large body of men without discipline or supplies, was offering them up as a sacrifice, and furnishing a fatal triumph to the enemy; and that the battle of Lexington had demonstrated the nature of our country and the enthusiasm of the people to be an adequate security against any extensive hostile operations until necessary arrangements could be made for supplying an army. The anxious caution of his patriotism was mistaken by some zealous men for disaffection to the revolution, and produced a momentary murmur against him. Haughty integrity cannot endure suspicion. He retired from publick employment, feeble from disease, exhausted with fatigue, indignant for himself, and trembling for his country. Yet he was speedily and repeatedly solicited to accept offices of honour and emolument, to some of which he was in fact appointed, notwithstanding he had declined all publick employment. Distrust had vanished ; there was a native frankness in his character that confuted suspicion. The profits of office would then have been very convenient to him, as he was for a time reduced to poverty by a depreciating paper currency. But his constitution appeared dangerously impaired, and he longed for the quietude and leisure of retirement. Health gradually returned, but he had acquired a relish for solitude.

Secluded from the society of all but his family and a very few friends, the last thirty years of his life were devoted to reading, meditation, and writing. Theology was his favourite subject ; on this he read much and thought more. He once intended to publish the result of his labours ; but whether he finished the work is uncertain ; a short time before his death he burned his manuscripts. His faith in Christianity became stronger, as by advancing towards the grave bre had more need of it : These are his own words.

His economy was the dictate of principle ; he neglected nothing, he squandered nothing, that he might increase the fund for beneficence. His charities were numerous ; and as the occasions for the use of his property diminished, he many years before his death divided the principal part of it among his children. The common foible of old age never overtook him. He saw nothing lovely in money, but the means of enjoyment and kindness.

With the preceding biographical notices, the prominent features of his character have been so blended that a distinct account of this is unnecessary. Nature formed him on a large scale. His body, his mind and his feelings were strong and

1810.] ON THE UTILITY OF CLASSICAL LEARNING. proportionate. Warm and constant in his attachments, he was naturally inclined to vehemence in his resentments. When he conquered this propensity, it was the triumph of principle ; not so much a compliance with the dictate of philosophy, as obedience to Christianity. He had uncommon taJents for sarcastick composition ; but though he indulged his inclination for this in former periods of his life, he declared in old age that he sincerely repented of it ; thinking it immoral and unchristian to delight in wounding the feelings of others. His discrimination of character partook of severity. Merit instantly commanded his esteem, and misery his assistance ; but for pertinacious folly and vice he had no relentings. Feel. ing his own strength, he sometimes seemed for a moment to forget the weakness of others. This he considered as a defect in his character, and mentioned it with regret.

He died from natural decay, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, having long expected the event. By his last will he gave many charitable legacies, the most considerable of which is five thousand dollars to Harvard university for promoting biblical criticism.

Probably it may be thought that the foregoing sketches exhibit more of the fidelity of history, than the partiality of eulogy. Such has been the intent of the writer ; for he knows that the venerable departed would frown on fulsome panegyrick. All the excellence of man is imperfect, and every just picture of it must be shaded. When merit is abundant, it is enough that errors are few, chastened by principle, and such as seem naturally associated with human greatness and virtue.


(Coneluded from page 376, vol. viii.) IV. The fourth and last objection to the study of Latin and Greek, “ That the classick authors contain descriptions and doctrines, that tend to seduce the understanding, and corrupt the heari,”-is unhappily founded in truth. And indeed, in most languages there are too many books liable to this cen

And, though a melancholy truth, it is however true, that a young man, in his closet, and at a distance from bad example, if he has the misfortune to fall into a certain track of study which at present is not unfashionable, may debase his


understanding, corrupt his heart, and learn the rudiments of almost every depravation incident to human nature. But to effect this, the knowledge of modern longues is alone sufficient. Immoral and impious writing is one of those arts in which the moderns are confessedly superiour to the Greeks and Romans.

It does not appear, from what remains of their works, that any of the old philosophers ever weni so far as some of the modern, in recommending irreligion and immorality. The Pagan theology is too absurd to lessen our reverence for the gospel ; but some of our philosophers, as we are pleased to call them, have been labouring hard, and I fear not without success, to make mankind renounce all regard for religious truth, both natural and revealed. Jupiter and his kindred gods may pass for machines in an ancient epick poem ; but in a modern one they would be ridiculous, even in that capacity ; a proof, that in spite of the enchanting strains wherein their achievements are celebrated, they have lost all credit and consideration in the world, and that the idolatrous fables of classical poetry can never more do any harm. From the scepticism of Pyrrho, and the atheism of Epicurus, what danger is now to be apprehended! The language of Empiricus, and the poetry of Lucretius, may claim attention ; but the reasonings of both the one and the other are too childish to subvert any sound principle, or corrupt any good heart'; and would probably have been forgotten or despised long ago, soine worthy authors of these latter times had not taken pains to revive and recommend them. The parts of ancient science that are, and always have been, studied most, are the peripatetick and stoical systems; and these may undoubtedly be read, not only without danger, but even with great benefit both to the heart and to the understanding.

The finest treatises of pagan morality are indeed imperfect; but their authors are entitled to honour for a good intention, and for having done their best. Errour in that science, as well as in theology, though in us the effect of prejudice and pride, was generally in them the effect of ignorance : and those of them, whose names are most renowned, and whose doctrines are best understood, as Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, and Antoninus, have probably done, and still may do, service to mankind, by the importance of their precepts, by their amiable pictures of particular virtues, and

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