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Mr. Haynes early manifested a happy faculty in reproving the vices of his companions. Plain, personal reproof, though difficult and often odious, is an imperious and salutary duty. In some felicitous cases, like that of Nathan the prophet and the royal transgressor, the result exceeds all rational expectation. In other instances, the faithful reprover of sin, like John the Baptist, who fearlessly rebuked Herod, falls a victim to his fidelity. Young Haynes was in the habit of rebuking all transgression which fell under his own notice; and this was done with such discernment of the human character, and such chastened shrewdness, as seldom failed of success.
The first conversion of which he seems to have been the happy instrument, was the result of bold reproof for open and revolting wickedness. It is painful to relate the deed which aroused his feelings and called forth his remonstrances; but, as it furnishes an instance of desperate depravity, and especially as it exhibits that successful boldness in reproof for which Mr. Haynes was distinguished through life, the facts will be given.
Being requested, in company with two reckless young men, to perform the service of watching through the night with a corpse, he little suspected what he was compelled to encounter. After the bereaved family had retired to rest, the two young men, having previously procured a quantity of strong drink, soon banished from their minds that seriousness and solemn sense of death and eternity which the occasion might seem to inspire. They commenced their intemperate drinking and guilty carousal, and the house of mourning became a scene of midnight revelry. Mr. Haynes expostulated with them, but in vain. His warnings only exasperated them. At length he beheld an instance of impiety the most revolting! Taking a cup of strong drink, they proceeded to pour it into the mouth of the dead man, saying, "He used to love it when he was alive, and we think a little will not hurt him now he is dead." Appalled at such irreverence of God and regardlessness of death, he addressed them in loud and earnest tones of warning and reproof. Thus the night passed away. In the morning they separated; and, from all that then appeared, the events of that night had produced no effect but to prepare the guilty actors for other deeds of revolting impiety.
One of the young men, however, "was pricked in the heart" by the affecting admonitions which he then heard. Conscience was aroused, and his sins were set in order before him. He strove, at the time, to stifle his convictions, and treated his reprover with contempt. But it was in vain to resist the truth of God. Light flashed across his guilty conscience. It pleased God by his spirit to give him such a sense of danger and of guilt, that he could find no peace till he found it in Jesua Christ. Some time after this, in a letter to Mr. Haynes, he frankly and penitently acknowledged his guilty conduct, gave him many thanks for his timely and earnest warnings, and ever after "brought forth fruits meet for repentance."
Lemuel Haynes was a patriot of the revolution. In his youth he imbibed those great principles respecting "the rights of man," in defence of which war was waged with the parent country. He lived in times that "tried men's souls," and never did there exist men, in any age or country, whose souls were better fitted for the trial than those among whom his lot was cast. In 1774 he enlisted as a "minute man," and thus became connected with the American army. By this enlistment he was required to spend one day in the week in manual exercises, and to hold himself in readiness for actual service. Soon after the battle at Lexington (1775), he joined the army at Roxbury. The next year he was a volunteer in the expedition to Ticonderoga to expel the enemy. These were scenes never to be forgotten. After the lapse of more than forty years, he very beautifully alludes to these campaigns in a sertnon on the anniversary of Washington's birthday.
"Perhaps it is not ostentatious in the speaker to observe, that in early life he devoted all for the sake of freedom and independence, and endured frequent campaigns in their defence, and has never viewed the sacrifice too great. And should an attack be made on this sacred ark, the poor remains of life would be devoted to its defence."
In a sermon delivered at Bennington, in Vermont, there is also an allusion to these early events. The following is an extract from the manuscript:—
"When Bennington was first settled it was highly esteemed for piety. Their first minister was the Reverend Mr. Dewey. Fifty-four years ago next October, I was in this town with troops on their march to Ticonderoga. We halted here on the Sabbath for the forenoon. I heard him preach from Rom. v., 1 :— 'Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ? He was zealous, and called on his hearers affectionately to flee to the Saviour. I think you have settled six ministers in this place, with five of whom I had personal acquaintance; and, in a judgment of charity, we must call them the faithful servants of Christ, who have, no doubt, warned you to flee from the wrath to come. When I was here at the time I have just mentioned, I was in some families where I thought I discovered uncommon piety and zeal for the cause of God. I heard fervent prayers for the minister, that God would be with him on the morrow, which I can never forget. I lodged one night with him who was afterward chief magistrate in this state—I mean Governor Robinson. I was transported with his apparent attachment to the cause of God. When in the army, at the northward, I would go to his camp, and hear hiip pour out his heart in prayer to God for his country and the church of God. I have heard him in this house call on sinners to repent. What an example of piety was the aged mother, at whose interment I was present, and heard a pertinent discourse from Rev. xiv., 13 :—' And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.' Her piety was spoken of through this and adjoining states. What prayers, what fervent intercessions, ascended up from that consecrated altar for this people, is known only in heaven. I remember, at an anniversary celebration of 'Bennington battle,' being myself present, this mother in Israel, fearing that something might be done to the dishonour of God, who gave signal deliverance and victory over the enemy, said, ' that she feared and trembled more on that day than on the day of Bennington battle.'"
After the close of his northern campaign he returned to his former home, where his time was employed in agricultural pursuits. One year he cultivated a large field for the raising of wheat, and a short time before the work was finished he was assailed by a typhus fever, and for a long time confined to his bed. His friends collected and generously completed the labour requisite to prepare his field for a harvest.
But while thus industriously engaged in the ordinary employments of life, and largely enjoying the respect of those by whom he was surrounded, he little anticipated the designs of Providence concerning him. By improving his evenings, and by rising early in the morning, he had made considerable proficiency in the study of theology. At length he selected his text, and composed a sermon, without education or teacher. As in the family of Deacon Rose, the'evening preceding the Sabbath was devoted to family instruction and religious worship, a sermo^was occasionally read. The Sermons of Watts, Whitefield, Doddridge, and Davies were usually selected, and young Haynes was the reader. One evening, being called upon to read as usual, he slipped into the book his own sermon which he had written, and read it to the family. The deacon was greatly delighted and edified by the sermon, as it was doubtless read with unusual vivacity and feeling. His eyes were dim, and he had no suspicion that any thing out of the ordinary course had happened; and, at the close of the reading, he inquired very earnestly, "Lemuel, whose work is that which you have been reading? Is it Davies's sermon, or Watts's, or Whitefield's?" It was the deacon's impression that the sermon was Whitefield's. Haynes blushed and hesitated, but at last was obliged to confess the truth— "It's Lemuel's sermon." The only person among the