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dressed to him a series of letters, which in 1777, were published in a duodecimo volume. In these letters he exposes with vigour and perspicuity, yet with candour and moderation, the vague assertions and loose reasonings, the singular mixture of piety and wit, error and wisdom, of this paradoxical, popular, and in some respects valuable writer. The Doctor's last publication is a volume of sermons, which has been well received by the publick.
SKETCHES OF THE LIFE AND CHARAC TER OF REV. DAVID TAPPAN, D. D.
[Continued from page 5.] AFTER the outlines already drawn of Doctor TAPPAN, as a preacher; an attempt will be made to describe him in other particulars of the pastoral and christian character.
eral esteem and admiration, Doctor Tappan was uniformly modest and humble. He seemed anxious to elude publick notice and applause. And when concealment became impossible; when the acknowledged eminence of his talents rendered their frequent exercise necessary; he was still delicate and unassuming, ever attentive to the claims of others, ever ready to sacrifice his own. It may be mentioned as a striking proof of his humility, that his uncommon popularity did not excite envy. He discovered so little desire of praise, and was so little elated by its bestowment, that it was impossible for any man either generous or just, not to rejoice that he possessed it. In his humility, let it be carefully observed, there was nothing of baseness or timidity. It sprung from evangelical views. His soul was cast in the humbling mould of christianity. "His spiritual senses," to use his own mode of expression, "were peculiarly nice and tender in discerning and feeling his own defects and transgressions." His habitual sense of these produced a very lowly spirit. He relished the condescending and selfdenying duties of his office, taking pleasure, as he expressed it, "in instructing, reproving, and comforting the lowest forms of human nature. On the altar of christian humility he sacrified that fondness for hu man applause or mental luxury, that pride of literary, ministerial, or moral eminence, and that un feeling neglect of the common people, which superior station, knowledge, and fame, assisted by human corruption, are apt to in spire."
It is seldom that we find in the christian pastor so much to be admired and imitated, and so little to be regretted, as in Doctor Tappan. His virtues and exertions, as a minister, seemed evidently to result from his personal piety. This gave beauty, uniformity, and usefulness to his whole ministerial character. What he did for the promotion of religion, he did, not because his office and reputation, as a minister, required it, but because he had an operative, abiding conviction, that religion was unspeakably amiable in itself, and above all things interesting to men. In the discharge of his sacred duties, he only acted out the benevolence, the humility, the meekness, and the devotion, which divine grace had wrought in his own heart. In order, therefore, to judge correctly of his pastoral character, we must view it in connection with his personal virtues.
With powers of mind and qualities of heart, which attracted gen-,
Here, and in several other places, the writer has availed himself of expressions,
which are found. either wholly or partly, i biographical sketches of Dr. Tappan already published.
others he chiefly intrusted the care of his temporal interests. Superior to fretfulness and anxiety respecting his earthly state, he accepted without murmuring, a salary quite inadequate to his comfortable support, humbly confiding in the bounty of Providence, and in the generosity of affectionate individuals. His moral taste was so refined, he felt and acted upon such a devout plan, that it was his deliberate choice to live at the greatest distance from luxury and show. What he possessed of this world's goods, he valued chiefly as the means, not of private gratification, but of promoting the welfare of others. His silver and his gold were the most precious in his eyes, when he had opportunity to use them for the relief of the afflicted, and for the encouragement of humble virtue.
His meekness was as conspicuous as his humility. His sacred office, giving him intercourse with human nature in its most unlovely as well, as in its most engaging forms, called for the frequent exercise of christian meekness. When tried by the ignorance and stupidity, or by the perverseness and injustice of men, he was calm and collected. The irritation of others did not irritate him. Their injuries excited no revenge in his bosom. In a happy degree he ruled his own spirit. Several instances might be mentioned, in which he quietly suffered his rights to be infringed, rather than secure them by contention. And his intimate friends well know what candour of judgment, what tenderness of feeling, and what fervour of prayer he showed for some, who had treated him with the most painful unkindness. For their conduct he invented the most charitable excuses, and not only rose above resentment, but sought to do for them acts of pious benevolence.
He was remarkably free from a worldly spirit. For earthly riches and grandeur he had no relish. Far nobler objects occupied his thoughts, attracted his love, and roused his exertions. The riches of religion, the attainment of knowledge and holiness, the spread of evangelical truth, the display of divine perfection, the salvation of men; these were the great objects, which commanded his mind, and his heart. His soul seemed to be exalted above those attentions, contrivances, and cares, which are necessary to the acquisition of wealth. His insatiable thirst for knowledge, and his sedulous attention to pastoral duties left him little opportunity, and less inclination for worldly concerns. To the prudence and fidelity of
Free in a good measure from the incumbrance of worldly cares and pursuits, Doctor Tappan consecrated his talents to sacred duties. While he sustained the pastoral office, he devoted a great portion of his time to study. The best writers on speculative and practical divinity he read with great care. His acquaintance with the old English authors, such as Owen, Howe, Goodwin, Bates, Baxter, &c. was extensive. The rich treasures of truth contained in those authors raised them in his estimation far above the greater part of more polished moderns. The best models of refined composition he, nevertheless, studied with diligence, and imitated with success. What the old authors wanted in point of elegance, he aimed to supply from accomplished moderns. And what most of the moderns want in point of solid information, he supplied from the old authors. In the old authors he found the body of divine
truth; in the new, its more comely and engaging dress.
mong his most edifying and impressive performances.
Though his abilities might have raised him to eminence in the great circle of liberal arts and sciences; he wisely chose to limit his attention principally to those branches of knowledge, which are most nearly allied to theology, and have the most promising influence on ministerial usefulness. In the learned languages he did not greatly excel; though his knowledge of them was sufficient to be of essential service in all theological inquiries. His serious aim was, to be destitute of no species of literature, which was necessary to adorn the station he filled, or to furnish him for extensive usefulness as a minister of Christ. This being his object, he did not sacrifice to ambition or taste the regular duties of his of fice. First of all he attended to the work of the ministry. His stated sermons he composed with much study and accuracy. He carefully furnished himself for every common as well, as for every special occasion. Though his head was clear, his apprehension quick, and his invention fertile; and though he had a remarkable facility in fixing his attention, and in discriminating, arranging, and expressing his thoughts; yet he did not allow himself to enter the desk without thorough preparation. For several years after he entered the ministry, he wrote his discourses at full length. But afterward his increasing employments and avocations frequently permitted him to write only the plan, and leading sentiments; and sometimes he preached wholly extempore. His unpremeditated discourses, together with his solemn and pious effusions at burials were, to the bulk of people, a
For the delights and duties of friendship he was peculiarly form. ed. Moral excellence was sure to attract and rivet his warmest regard. His religion disposed him to sympathy, tenderness, and love. Kind affection lighted up his countenance, gave a delightful glow to his conversation, and cheerfulness to every beneficent act he performed. Though he possessed nothing of that affectation of refinement, or that exces sive show of esteem, which destroys the confidence of friendship and the pure pleasures of society; yet he possessed true christian politeness. In him gentleness and suavity of manners were not the substitute, but the spontaneous expression of sincere kindness. So mild and obliging was his disposition, that it would have cost him an effort to refuse even an improper request, or in any way to give the least pain to the hearts of others. In the whole intercourse of social life he was studious to please, cautious of offending, and slow to be offended. His deportment and conversation bespoke an unsuspicious simplicity of heart, a dignified sense of propriety, uprightness of intention, and serious regard to moral and religious obligation. Though far from every degree of levity, he constantly maintained a chaste and sober cheerfulness, thus exhibiting substantial evidence that religion is a productive source of the best enjoyments.
Although so cheerful and entertaining in company, he gave himself to habitual and deep contemplation. Feeling a peculiar interest in the events of Providence, and in the truths of revelation, he devoted to them a great portion of
fruits of divine grace. In his view a time of general reformation was infinitely desirable. With great satisfaction he read accounts of what God hath recently done in many parts of this land. He rejoiced to observe the deep relig ious impressions, which usually take place where God pours out his Spirit. To promote such impressions among his own people, particularly in the latter years of his pastoral work, he was instant in season, and out of season. He endeavoured to preserve and increase the solemn concern and conviction, which began to appear in his society, not only by the stated services of the Sabbath, but also by weekly lectures, and meetings for religious conference. As the fruit of his labours, he had the happiness to see a considerable number of hopeful converts added to his church, whom he esteemed his glory and joy. He showed the same satisfaction in religious revivals in other places. In a neighbouring society, where divine truth was very deeply and extensively impressed on the minds of the people, Doctor Tappan, with several other respectable ministers, attended a lecture. On that special occasion the publick exercises were extended far beyond their usual length. Doctor Tappan heard the performances, and witnessed the stillness, the solemnity, and the tenderness of the congregation. Just before the close, he asked liberty to speak. He told the audience, that he was unwilling to leave them, without bearing testimony in favour of the great and good work, which God appeared to be carrying on among them; adding some pious remarks and directions suited to the circumstances of the people.
To show still more clearly what a zealous advocate Doctor Tappan
his thoughts, and often dwelt upon them, till his mind was wholly absorbed in profound and pious meditation. Such were his habits of inattention to the objects of sense, and of profound reflection on the most interesting subj.cts, that he frequently lost himself in a kind of devout or intellectual reverie.
He was a very affectionate pastor. His people always found in him a friend, a brother, a father. He was a guide to inexperienced youth, a pious comforter to old age, a counsellor in difficulties, a support to the afflicted. In the chamber of sickness he was a serious, tender, and prayerful visitant. While he delighted to participate and soothe the troubles of his people, he was no less ready to rejoice in their prosperity, and to esteem their happiness a part of his own. And if words and actions are the index of the heart, he felt for them the same ardour and tenderness of affection after he was separated from them, as while he continued with them. Love seemed to be the ruling principle of his pastoral conduct. Even when he administered private reproof to any of his flock, a task the least of all congenial to his feelings, he gave them plain evidence, that their reprover was their friend; that, while he lamented and abhorred their crimes, he loved their souls.
The cause of vital, experimental religion, was dear to his heart. Looking with concern and grief upon thoughtless mortals, rushing, unprepared into eternity, he laboured to rouse them to consideration, and to repentance. He was an ardent friend to revivals of religion. Amid the lamented disorders, which ignorance, and error, and misguided zeal have sometimes introduced into revivals, he clearly distinguished the genuine
was for revivals of religion, the following fact is recorded. After some general reports had been spread abroad of the uncommon seriousness, which prevailed a few years since at Yale College; he obtained a particular and well attested account of it, the substance of which account was published in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. That account he prudently used to relieve the minds of clergymen and others, who had entertained groundless prejudices against revivals of religion; asking them, after they had read, or heard it, what objections could be made against such a revival, and insisting on the infinite importance of it at our university, and in all our societies.
the cause of the publick, he warm. ly espoused the principles of those men, whom he considered as honest patriots. In conformity to those principles, he vindicated the rights, unfolded the dangers, and inculcated the duties of his coun try, without entering into the violence of party spirit, or detracting from the dignity of his station or the charitable nature of his religion.
But let it be remembered, that his attachment to religious revivals included fondness for the irregularities, which have sometimes accompanied them. All ostentation and noise, rapturous impressions, enthusiastick flights, all disorderly conduct, every thing contrary to christian decorum he disapproved and lamented. At the same time he believed that some such appearances might consist with the saving work of the Spirit, though by no means to be numbered among its fruits.
Doctor Tappan was a well known and very ardent friend to his country. The struggle, which separated us from Great Britain, interested all his patriotick and pious sensibilities. In his publick prayers and discourses he amply noticed the state of our country, and constantly directed the eyes of his people to the alldirecting hand of Providence, which was so visibly active in our publick affairs. Neither at that time nor since could he look with indifference on the course of political events. United by the strongest affection to Vol. I. No. 2.
He possessed an uncommon degree of christian candour. If candour consist in thinking all religious opinions equally good, or in professing total indifference with respect to the sentiments of men ; or if candour consist in thinking all men naturally virtuous, favourites of heaven, and hopeful candidates for glory; or if it consist in believing that mankind need no essential renovation by the Spirit of God; or, finally, if it consist in forming the most favourable judgment of those, who are lax in sentiment and remiss in morals, and in the least favourable of those, who strictly adhere to the scripture standard of truth and duty; if candour consist in any. or all of these, it is granted, that Doctor Tappan was not candid. But if candour is the operation of an enlarged and judicious mind, and of a benevolent, gentle heart; few characters have a better claim to it, than he. His candour did not consist in words; he was really candid in his feelings. He was an equitable judge of the characters, and a mild interpreter of the actions of men. Toward them, who differed from him in belief, he cherished a very kind and generous affection. Indeed he did not hesitate to judge any thing erroneous in the sentiments or practice of others, which really appeared so to him. Believ ing himself to be in the right, he believed them, who differed from