« PreviousContinue »
version, and I am happy to say that they are beginning to be more frequent among the males. Last evening thirtyeight attended the inquiry-meeting, and we have not before had more than twenty-seven. The evening was very unfavorable to invalids, and persons at a distance, yet one hundred and fifty were present. I have been happy to hear of several instances of awakening on the evening you preached to young people. The Lord has I think set his seal to the labors of that occasion. I am constantly holding neighborhood-meetings, and find the effect very happy. I have had at my vestry since you
left us, over one hundred male non-professors of my congregation to hear a plain address which I designed exclusively for them. I have had one meeting at my house for young men, at which about twenty attended by invitation; and the last Sabbath evening I met fifteen or twenty of the most respectable men in my congregation, who are not professors, at a private house. I had a very solemn meeting. I have felt, and so have my brethren, that it is highly important to make greater effort for the men.”
It is not intended to represent the labors of Mr. Cornelius, or the condition of his church, as perfect. He was doubtless far from the mark of that high calling to which he aspired. It was by the “grace of God that he labored not in vain." His closet often, without doubt, bore witness to his confession, as well as to his thanksgiving and hope. To those discouragements with which all faithful ministers meet, he was not a stranger. At the same time, his character and labors were not only appreciated, by his flock, but valued in a very high degree. One of the best fruits of his toil, was the spirit of enlarged charity which prevailed in his church and congregation. Indeed, they would have been signally in fault, had they not been “ ready to distribute,” and “ willing to communicate," having so often heard the appeals, and so long witnessed the disinterested benevolence of Dr. Worcester and Mr. Cornelius-pioneers as they were in modern American evangelism. One measure, which Mr. Cornelius adopted, in reference to this subject, was peculiar in the degree at least to which he carried it. This was the circulation of religious papers and magazines. His journies, as a public agent, had been the means of convincing him that the wide dissemination of religious discussions and intelligence, was fundamental in respect to the universal diffusion of the gospel. Those excuses, by which many Christians exclude themselves from the benefits of religious reading, asserting that they have little time, or pecuniary means, for the purpose, he regarded as exceedingly futile, and as the cloak under which avarice and unbelief like to hide themselves.
Dr. Worcester's death, which took place at Brainerd, in the Cherokee nation, on the 7th of June, 1823, was a heavy affliction to Mr. Cornelius. That event may perhaps be considered as an era in the growth of his religious character. He was left with the charge of a great people, nearly two thousand in number, at a prominent post, surrounded by opposers of evangelical religion. He prayed and studied more, and seemed habitually to feel the increased weight of his cares.
His intercourse with Dr. Worcester had been throughout delightful, and in the highest degree useful. He loved to sit at the feet of that revered man, and listen to the words of wisdom, which dropped as honey from his lips. He was accustomed to speak of him familiarly as a man of extraordinary Christian sagacity, who had deeply studied the motives of human action in connection with the arrangements of divine Providence. He regarded it as one of the chief blessings of his life, both in an intellectual and moral respect, that he had been brought
into connection with him for so many years.
We here copy some brief extracts from his letters to Dr. Worcester, who was then absent on a visit to the Indian missions.
“Salem, February 26, 1821. “Rev. and very dear Sir,-I can assure you it was far from my intention, when I wrote last, to allow so long a time to elapse, before I wrote again. But every day has brought its cares and duties in a manner which need not be explained to one so familiar with them as yourself. Let me say, however, not a day and scarcely an hour passes, without a remembrance of one, whose whole character is interwoven with almost every thought of my heart, and whose arm having so long been the support of myself and others, has not been removed without a very sensible privation on our part. God, I still trust, has been with us, as I doubt not he has been with you, and our prayers are continually offered to him for your entire restoration to health, and for your return to your people and labors in due time. Your letter, forwarded by sea, was a most seasonable and joyful relief to our minds. We knew you must have had a severe gale, and how you had withstood it, was a matter of deep concern to many hearts. Yet we had no expectation of hearing from you until your arrival in New Orleans, and supposed of course, we must be kept in painful suspense many weeks. You can easily imagine, dear sir, what emotion your letter produced under such circumstances. It was read and inquired after with so much avidity, that I deemed it a duty to read extracts from it in public. Many eyes were suffused with tears, and many hearts, though pained and grieved at the neglect you had received and the sufferings you had experienced for the want of attendance, were still made glad by the evidence that God had been with you, and kept you. Most devoutly do we hope that your
extremity will prove to have been of lasting benefit. It is now beginning to be time for us to hear again, and we are all interested to know the tidings you will send us. In my last, directed to New Orleans, you learned that the church had appointed a day of fasting and prayer on your account. Since that time, the quarterly church fast has occurred, and we had another precious day, in which you, dear sir, were borne on our hearts with all the faith and all the fervor which we could express. Your journey is long and must be tedious. We feel deeply concerned to know how you will endure it. But if ever we have committed a friend to God, we must think we have borne you unitedly again and again, to the throne of grace. We commend you to God, reverend and dear sir, and we believe he will keep you and bless you in life or in death, henceforth and forever.”
“ April 8, 1821. “Rev. and very dear Sir,- It seems a long time since I wrote to you. My last was directed to Elliot, and as your residence there would probably be short, I concluded to send my next to Brainerd. Your letters from New Orleans relieved and refreshed our sympathizing hearts exceedingly. At the same time we can hardly refrain from weeping for the sufferings you must have undergone before
you reached that city. I doubt not but you found the kindest friends there. Of this your letter affords delightful proof. Often have I transported myself in imagination to New Orleans, and beheld the kind attentions of the little band of Christian friends who have so often ministered to my necessities, exercised now towards my revered colleague. I shall have many questions to ask you on this subject, on your return to us, and will not therefore anticipate them now. I will only say, it has been a source of great delight to have been able, through : such a friend as yourself, to renew my affectionate salutations to my dear friends in that city.
“The popularity and patronage of the Missionary Herald is increasing daily. There is the fairest prospect of a large subscription, and as one proof of it, I will mention that I am agent for two hundred copies for the town of Salem alone; one hundred and eighty of which are already taken up, and about one hundred in our society.”
“ April 17, 1821. “Being prevented by a severe snow-storm from going out this evening, I improve the moment of leisure it affords me, in adding a few lines to what I communicated in my last letter sent to Brainerd. From some conversation which I have had to-day with captain H., who returned two or three days ago, I am led to think you have not yet left the Choctaw nation. I mourn to think you have been so situated as not to be able to recover your health so rapidly as we hoped, and our fears for your safety have been not a little excited. We rejoice, however, that you have found God a present help in all your emergencies. As you are now probably encountering the fatigue and privations of the wilderness, I often feel for you a sympathy, the more anxious and tender, from having once known by experience what you will probably pass through. May almighty God send his angel to guide and support you on your way, and bring you back to us restored to strength and health. Will you, dear sir, have the goodness to favor us with more particulars relative to your health. You write in fine spirits as all say, but we cannot be satisfied, so fully as we wish, in regard to your bodily state. Captain H. has given us a poor account of y
your general health, and we fear you are much weaker than when you left us.