« AnteriorContinuar »
harm." The boy very sagely replied, "It's according to Scripture, sir; the Bible says we must bruise the serpent's head."—"That,"said Mr.Haynes, "means the old serpent. You may bruise his head as much as you have a mind." No one could more appropriately adopt the language of Cowper, and few possessed a greater measure of his indescribable loveliness and sympathy.
"I would not enter on my list of friends,
III. QUICKNESS OF PERCEPTION.
"When a new subject was presented, or an intricate question was introduced, on which he had never brought his mind to bear, it was delightful to observe with what power he grasped the subject, and how readily he removed the difficulties it involved. During his ministry at Rutland, infidelity in various forms was fashionable. The writings of Payne, Allen, and Ballou were in the hands of many. The errors inculcated by these men he often combated with great power, both in the pulpit and in personal conversation. Other men may have far exceeded him in deliberate and protracted investigation; but for a sudden conflict, or an effort strictly extemporaneous, requiring all the energies of the mind at once, his powers were transcendent. Instances often occurred of a text being given him as he was about to commence a lecture or a funeral sermon, which, as a matter of courtesy, he would accept, illustrating it with as much self-possession and apparently with as much ease as if he had meditated upon it for weeks."* He was eminently ready for every emergency which reasonably claimed his ministerial services. In a number of ordinations, when the appointed preacher failed, he has, without proper time for preparation, occupied the vacant place with much ability and acceptance. In one such instance, after the assembly had principally convened, he sketched the plan of his sermon, which was entirely appropriate, and was received with great satisfaction.
* Extract of a letter from Rev. A. Parmalee.
IV. GREAT MEMORY.
This high excellence was in part the gift of God, and in part the result of persevering cultivation. "Memory, like a friend, loves to be trusted, and will amply reward our confidence." Like other faculties of the mind, it is capable of indefinite improvement.
"At the age of fifty," says Rev. Mr. Parmalee, "he could repeat nearly the whole of Young's Night Thoughts, Milton's Paradise Lost, Watts's Psalms and Hymns, and large unbroken passages from different authors, and more of the sacred Scriptures than any man I ever knew. When he had listened to a sermon or a conversation of great length, he could report the whole, and much of it in the very terms in which it was given. His memory was a safe depository for every thing he thought worthy of retaining, and hence it became a sort of proverb among his students, that his head was a concordance." In a single extempore sermon he usually referred to twenty or thirty texts of Scripture, always in his quotations giving chapter and verse, sometimes adding, " If I mistake not;" generally, however, recollecting with confidence. One of his students in theology says,* " I frequently noted the numerous passages he quoted in his sermons, for the purpose of improving my own mind, as well as satisfying myself in regard to his accuracy, but do not recollect a solitary instance of error."
* Rev. Ashbel Parmalee.
His mind from childhood was subject to just that discipline which was calculated to improve the faculty of memory. He could obtain but few books, and with the contents of these he became familiarly acquainted. He was required by his master to render an account of the sermons he heard on the Sabbath, and by this means a habit of attention was formed, which no doubt contributed greatly to the promotion of his extraordinary memory.
V. MATURE JUDGMENT,
The general confidence reposed in Mr. Haynes as a counsellor, both by ministers and people, is proof of his penetration in cases of difficulty, and of the general correctness of his opinions. For many years, each party in a difficult case was solicitous to secure his services, as though safe under his adjudications. "His mind, however, was distinguished rather by native quickness and energy, than by exact regimen. Hence his meas* ures as a counsellor and disciplinarian Were not always judged to be according to ecclesiastical order." Yet such was his discernment of the human character, and of the operations of different minds and tempers, that he was qualified to form correct decisions, and was often a great helper to the churches in this department of duty.
VI. LITERARY MERIT.
With regard to his learning, it has been already seen that he began his ministry under great disadvantages, It was however his affliction, and not his fault, that he
was destitute of a classical education. No man appreciated more highly than he the various branches of education, or laboured more perseveringly to furnish his mind with useful knowledge. He used often to say, "If I were to live my life over again, I would devote myself to books." He had never penetrated far into the exact sciences, nor was he extensively acquainted with the Greek and Latin classics. His mind, however, was richly stored with various knowledge, especially that which was of immediate use in the work of the ministry. As a writer or public speaker, he never spent a moment to polish his style, or stepped aside to pluck a flower. The Latin language he had studied, and acquired a superficial acquaintance with some of the classics. In Greek, he had never gone beyond the Greek Testament and Septuagint.
After all, he was not destitute of literary merit. The English classics he had read with some attention, and his remarks discover a correct taste for the beauties- of poetry and elegant composition.
On hearing the first page in "Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination," commencing thus—
"With what attractive charms this goodly frame
he remarked, "The sentences are too long from one period to another. The sense of the author is thus rendered obscure." Johnson, in his "Lives of the Poets," has precisely the same criticism. "His flow is smooth, and his pauses are musical, but the concentration of his verses is generally too long continued, and the full close does not recur with sufficient frequency. The sense is carried on through a long intertexture of A a
complicated clauses, a'nd, as nothing is distinguished, nothing is remembered."*
As he was listening one day to the elegant paper in Johnson's Rambler, "The Journey of a Day: a Picture of Human Life," his son asked, "Is not that inimitably beautiful?" He replied, "It is well written, but I think I have read something as striking;—let me repeat it:—' And the voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it.'"
In adverting to Johnson's remarks in the Life of Waller, that "devotional poetry cannot often please," he expressed his dissent from the views of Johnson. He thought, however, that many who had attempted to versify passages of Scripture failed entirely. He sometimes humorously quoted the following lines :—
"Hands havu they, bat they handle not,
He considered the following version of the sixty-third
"As pants the hart for living streams,
When heated in the chase,
"For thee, my God, the living Lord,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
Johnson's closing sentence in the Life of Addison received his entire approbation :—" Whoever wishes to
* Vol. ii., page 521, Life of Akenrofc.