« AnteriorContinuar »
• The sensations excited by the remembrance of departed worth are described with great simplicity and pathos in the Acts of the Apostles. When Dorcas died, who “was full of good works, and almsdeeds which she did ;" her friends sent unto Peter, “ desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. And when he was come into the upper chamber, all the widows stood by him weeping, and showed the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them.” Who can conceive of a more touching scene? What tenderness of affection was displayed! What warm expressions of gratitude were manifested in all their gestures and actions, speaking
even more loudly than words! What powerful appeals to the heart of the Apostle to induce him to restore their benefactress to life!
. And while we mourn the death of a revered individual to-day, we have this consolation, that his memory is blessed. We dwell with fond recollection on the pure principles which composed his character. He was what a distinguished Poet has denominated
"The noblest work of God."
In him there was no deceit, hypocrisy, or guile. Whether he was mistaken in his judgment or not, you might always know what that judgment was. If ever a just man lived, there are the remains of one. But he was not only just; the law of kindness was in his heart. His habitation was the abode of hospitality. He fed the hungry, and clothed the naked. When the eye saw him, or the ear heard him, it blessed him. He was not the man that would say, “Be ye warmed, and be ye filled," and then feel satisfied that he had discharged his duty. His charity was often abused; but never, it is believed, withheld when he was satisfied that the applicant was a subject of distress. Such indeed was his well known sympathy, that many who belonged to no religious society, felt a confidence in applying to him either for ministerial attentions or charitable aid. He was ever ready at the call of the sons and daughters of affliction, although they might be friendless and poor, and dwelling in the obscure retreats of vice and wretchedness. When the pestilence, that walketh in darkness and the destruction that wasteth at noon-day, made desolate many of your dwellings, it can never be forgotten by some of you, that he not only administered medicine to the poor who were diseased, but personally tended them, when, through fear, they were forsaken by their neighbors and friends. While living he received the blessing of many who were ready to perish ; and now that he is dead, we will treasure up the memory of his virtues, as a precious legacy designed for our good.'
It is due to the late Pastor of this Society to state, that his pious and amiable example for a series of years had a most happy effect on his brethren around him. In the various Associations with which he was connected, and in ecclesiastical councils, he did much to promote a spirit of kindness and forbearance. He was a peace-maker. He could not endure the thought, that Christians should ever bite and devour one another. He had that charity which covereth a multitude of sins. If in the discharge of his pastoral duties, there were times when any one could have wished he had been more stern in frowning upon what was wrong; if any one could have desired that like a practised surgeon he had held the probe of discipline with a firmer grasp and a less trembling hand, let it be remembered that this seeming deficiency arose from the kindness of his heart, and a reluctance to inflict upon any of his friends the slightest pain. So that it might be said with truth, that
“E'en his failings leaned to virtue's side."
· These recollections afford us peculiar pleasure, because we know, that his meek and patient and prudent deportment softened the asperities, and restrained the indiscretions of others. I only utter the feelings of the ministers and churches of the Association over which he so long presided, when I say that they are greatly indebted for their peace and good fellowship to his uniformly pious and amiable example.' pp 10, 11.
Our readers will be gratified, we doubt not, by an additional extract in which Dr Sharp describes the peaceful end of this righteous man.
'The deceased experienced, in a high degree, the consolations of religion in his sickness. After he was incapable of pulpit labors, he frequently declared that the doctrines he had taught from this desk were his only support. He knew that his disease would terminate in his dissolution ; but he also knew in whom he had believed, and that He was able to keep that which he had committed to him until that day in which Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe. His salvation he attributed to the distinguishing grace of God, and this grace was his hope and his joy.
. When he was so feeble as to be unable to speak without extreme difficulty, he frequently repeated, and with visible emotions of pleasure, the words of the Psalmist : “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” In similar circumstances, while his countenance seemed to lighten up with joy, he said, in broken accents :
" Oh! if my Lord would come and meet,
Nor feel the terrors as she passed." "On another occasion, when his friends thought he was dying, he remarked to one who had been called to witness his departure, “O my brother, I am glad to have an opportunity to express to you, that you may tell the dear church, that the doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ is my support; it is the rock on which my soul rests in the last hour.” “You still hold to that doctrine, then, Sir.” “ Ah !" answered he, “ that holds me, or I should sink.” He clasped the hand of his child, and said, “O my child, weep not for me! Are you not willing I should go to my God, to be like my Saviour?” When his soul was too active for his diseased frame, and he was incapable of giving a distinct and unbroken utterance of his sure and certain hope of a resurrection unto eternal life, he quoted, after repeated pauses for breatlı, the triumphant language of the Apostle ; But ye are come unto Mount Zion--and unto the city of the living God—the heavenly Jerusalem —and to an innumerable company of angels—to the general assembly -and church of the first-born-which are written in heaven and to God, the Judge of all—and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” With these, and other expressions,
“ His comforters he comforted; great in ruin,
His soul sublime" to Jesus who had redeemed it.
No one could leave his dwelling without feeling that
u The chamber where the good man meets his fate,
or'virtuous lise, quite in the verge of heaven." • His last day was brightened with the rays of hope and glory. • I have enjoyed much,” said he ; “not a cloud, but all clear sunshine. I
have been trying to find a dark spot, but all is bright. My sky is without a cloud.” He was answered, “I hope, dear father, the dark spots are all banished forever.” Forever," observed he, “ Yes! I trust they are. I shall be with my Saviour. How much reason have I to be thankful that, amidst all my weakness, my mind still dwells on religion. The love of Jesus grows more and more precious.” To the remark of a friend, “ We have had a refreshing air since the rain has fallen,” he replied, in broken accents: “I breathe-the air-of heaven. My soul filled with God and Christ. Come-Lord Jesus come-quickly.” pp 15—18.
Memoir of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, A. M. late Missionary to Pales
tine. By Alvan Bonn, Pastor of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge, Mass. 8vo. pp. 437. Boston : Crocker & Brewster: 1828.
The subject of this interesting Memoir was born at Shelburne, Mass. June 24, 1792. Blessed with parents of unquestioned piety, he enjoyed, during the eventful periods of infancy and childhood, the benefits of their pious instructions, and corresponding example.
His advantages for intellectual improvement, during the first seventeen years of his life, were confined to a common English school; but, possessing an uncommon love of study, he diligently employed every opportunity. His earliest application to elementary exercises, particularly to mathematical science, was marked by exemplary industry and perseverance. His chief characteristics were, a serious deportment, a dislike of youthful follies, and an unsparing severity of application in the prosecuting of every enterprise to which duty called him.
In his sixteenth year, the Holy Spirit convinced him “of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment," and conducted him to the cross of Christ for pardon and redemption. Possessing at this time a very thorough acquaintance with the depravity of his nature, and particular clearness in his views of religious truth, he was able to give distinctly “a reason of the hope" which he joyfully cherished. After a period of self-examination, he publicly professed his love to the Redeemer, by uniting with the Congregational Church in his native town.
It was soon perceived that his piety would be warm and active. So deeply had he been convinced of the ruined condition of man, that he spared no opportunity for expressing his earnest solicitude for the salvation of sinners; and he was peculiarly faithful and impressive in urging them to immediate repentance. He soon concluded it to be his duty to devote himself to the work of the Christian ministry. Accordingly, with the consent of his parents, in about a year subsequent to his union with the church, he commenced his preparatory studies, and prosecuted them chiefly under the tuition of a neighboring minister. March, 1829.
At a very early period in his Christian life he began to feel deeply interested in the subject of Missions. Almost the first emotion of his "new heart," was an anxious solicitude for a world that “lieth in wickedness;” and so powerfully were his feelings soon enlisted, that he resolved, should he ever secure the requisite qualifications, and should the providence of God permit, to go “ far hence unto the Gentiles.” This one object, from first to last, he kept steadily in his eye; and in reference to it, he carefully subjected both mind and body to a rigid discipline. He aimed to be thoroughly fitted for the service.
In 1811, he was admitted to an advanced standing in the college at Middlebury, Vermont. While at this Institution, he seems not to have been ambitious of the academic honors. Goodness, rather than distinction, was his loftiest aim. He was peculiarly successful in the acquisition of religious knowledge, and in the preserving of a strict and pious vigilance over his heart. He was desirous to be continually " doing or getting good.” An officer of the college has testified that his piety " was strikingly operative. It never slumbered nor slept.” During a revival of religion among the students, in 1812, he was foremnost among the devotedly active, and was signally useful in promoting the good work. His love of souls was a principle, deeply inwrought into his spiritual nature, and growing daily in strength and vigor, it became ultimately the main-spring of those energetic movements for which he was distinguished.
While pursuing his studies, the energy of Fisk was repeatedly put to the test, and his faith severely tried by struggles with pecuniary embarrassments. His anticipations of aid from pa. ternal resources were disappointeá by afflictive events. Firmly relying, however, upon divine guidance, he adopted a course of rigid economy, and during vacations instructed schools, applying the avails to the best possible advantage. In this manner, with some aid from unexpected beneficence, he was enabled, with little interruption, to prosecute his classical studies.
In August, 1814, he received his first degree in the arts, and in September, cominenced theological studies, under the direction of his pastor, the Rev. Dr Packard, of Shelburne.
In prospect of engaging in a work of such magnitude as that of a Christian minister, he possessed a deep conviction of his responsibleness. “How can I,” says he, “fulfil a task, under which Gabriel, without special aid, must sink !”
In January, 1815, he was licensed to preach the gospel ; and though he designed to prosecute his theological studies still far ther, when circumstances would permit, yet he accepted an invitation to preach, for an indefinite period, in the towri of Wilmington, Vermont. In that place he continued not far from eight months, laboring with great fidelity and great success. A revival was the result of his persevering efforts for the good of souls. An individual from that town says that “Mr Fisk was extremely popular : but he had grace and good sense enough to prevent his sustaining any injury by it." Such men, and suck only, ought to be popular.
He was urgently entreated to remain at Wilmington. But as it. was his unwavering determination to pursue his studies, in oriler to qualify himself for the work of a Missionary, he could not be induced to depart from his purpose. He had one specific object steadily in view, and this object became dearer to him the more it was contemplated.
In November, 1815, he became a member of the Theological Seminary at Andover. The field into which he was now introduced, presented attractions more suited to his taste, than all the enchantments of classic ground. The Bible had long been to him a rich spiritual mine; and into its depths he was now resolved to penetrate, that he might become a workman not needing to be ashamed, rightly analyzing and distributing its holy treasures.
But here, as well as in college, though to the prescribed course of studies he devoted careful and diligent attention, he was not ambitious of distinction. His primary object was to cultivate the religious affections. Hence, his great excellence was in the art of holy living, and in devising and executing plans of usefulness. In his devotions he was regular, and definite, and fervent. In his efforts for the good of others, he was judicious and persevering. Expecting to pass his days in severe, flesh-wearing toil on missionary ground, he was careful to subject his physical system to such a degree of exercise as would prevent that languor and debility, which so frequently result from sedentary habits. He was never indolent. Even his walks, during the intervals of study, were improved for the spiritual benefit of himself and others, either by a visit to some family, or by familiar conversation with an associate upon some truth of religion-some Christian duty—some plan of usefulness—the moral condition of the world-and the claims of missions.
His intercourse with the Professors of the Seminary was uniformly modest and respectful. In the spirit of filial confidence, he went to them for such counsel as their experience qualified them to impart; and though in matters of faith he called no man Rabbi, yet he relied much upon the wisdom of their judgment, in cases where he was not fully satisfied, respecting the expediency of any measure which he might propose to adopt. To them, by consequence, he became greatly endeared ; and for his character as a man and a Christian, they ever entertained a high respect. To his ardor in the pursuit of Biblical knowledge-to his habits of persevering industry-to his uniform soberness of deportmentand to his scrupulous submission to the statutes and regulations of the Seminary, they have voluntarily borne the most unequivocal testimony.
Mr Fisk was eminently a man of prayer. In secret devotion and meditation, he employed much time. On the Sabbath, particularly, his soul appeared to be drawn so near to God and heaven, that it cost a reluctant effort to bring back his mind to the busi