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MEMOIR OF CORNELIUS.
solicitations, which he had received to take the secretaryship of the Presbyterian Education Society, whose field of operations was now to be enlarged to its original extent, embracing nearly all the United States, except New England. It was thought by the friends of religion, in many parts of the country, that his extensive acquaintance with the Presbyterian church, its conflicting interests, and delicate relations, together with his general experience in such concerns, peculiarly qualified him for the station. The Presbyterian society was, however, still to remain in many respects connected and co-ordinate with the American society. Though he was very happy in his residence in Boston, and was strongly attached to many persons in the city, yet in obedience to the rule which he had laid down for the government of his conduct, when he first assumed the Christian profession, he accepted the appointment, and in June removed to the city of New York. He was soon called to drink of the cup
by the sickness of various members of his family, and by the death of beloved inmate. These scenes of grief detached his affections more and more from earthly objects, and rapidly ripened him for that inheritance of which he was so soon to be a partaker.
CHARACTER OF MR. CORNELIUS, AS A PUBLIC AGENT.
The employment of soliciting agents for our public charities, is a subject which has recently excited considerable discussion. That there are evils connected with the system, no one pretends to deny. But that the system itself is indispensable to the progress of Christianity, is by no means a matter of doubt. Its claims upon the attention and support of the community, rest on a firm basis. Its general object is one of the highest importance, and demands an organization, in many respects, distinct from the Christian ministry, or any existing institution. It has peculiar principles, which require close study, and which a Christian pastor cannot be expected adequately to comprehend. It demands an acquaintance with human nature, theological and denominational distinctions and prejudices, as well as a minute knowledge of the particular branch of benevolent effort, which is to be advocated ; such knowledge as gentlemen in any other profession will never attain. The system proceeds on the well-ascertained maxim, of the necessity of a division of labor. Were the business of benevolent agencies altogether in accordance with the employments and feelings of the stated pastor, he could not give to them that time, which their importance demands. It is one of the greatest infelicities and discouragements of the ministerial work, at the present time, that it is burdened with excessive labor. No wise man would add to it. Besides, on the present system, advantage is taken of the love of variety and change in the human mind. The principal arguments in behalf of any charitable object are so few and so obvious, that they require all possible aid, from novelty of illustration and freshness of statements and facts. One man, or a number of men, who reside in the same district of country, may be excellent solicitors for a single year ; but they will inevitably become monotonous and uninteresting in a series of years. There are great advantages in an intercommunity of public agencies. The ardor and generous enthusiasm of a Virginian, are delightful to an audience in a cold New England latitude; while the habits of accuracy, shrewdness, and perseverance, which belong to a northern man, may be of essential service to a southern community.
The evils resulting from the present system, may undoubtedly be obviated. There is no ground for supposing that the number of important general objects of charity will be greatly increased. The claims of the existing benevolent institutions can be presented annually, and in a definite month, in every city and county of the United States. This arrangement already exists extensively. Minor objects, such as the endowing of literary and theological institutions, and the building of meetinghouses, ought to be confined, as a general thing, to the immediate neighborhood interested, or to individual munificence. The Atlantic States are now supplied with a sufficient number of literary institutions of a high order, while the Western States will ere long, it is to be hoped, attain to such a degree of compactness and strength, as to be able to educate their own population.
The rapid and indiscriminate presentation of objects of inferior im
portance is certainly attended with many evils in respect to the general progress of Christian effort.
The healthful operation of the system of agencies is, however, depending upon the character of the agents, more than upon all other causes. In the infancy of any system or society, incompetent or improper men will be employed. But as experience is acquired, as the spirit of self-denial in Christian ministers and laymen, who ought to act as agents, is increased, and as an elevated and disinterested religion shall prevail in the church, men of the proper qualifications will be found to plead the cause of the unevangelized and dying nations. Such men are now employed in some of our principal religious charities ;-men, whom all the churches love, and whose annual return, they cordially welcome. Such a man preeminently was CORNELIUS. It might seem that he was raised
in the providence of God, at the commencement of our benevolent enterprizes, as a model, to show what a public agent ought to be ; as David was elevated to the throne of Israel, and Alfred to that of England, to be, for subsequent ages, the types and patterns of true royal dignity. In Mr. Cornelius, there was a remarkable assemblage of qualities, fitting him for his station.
One of the most important of these qualities was his single-mindedness. He made the impression wherever he went, that he was laboring for his Lord and Master. There was
a transparency of motive which could not fail of striking the most careless observer. He had no party, or sinister, or selfish plans to subserve. He kept his eye on the conversion of all mankind to Christ. When he addressed a public audience, or solicited contributions from a private individual, or conversed with his intimate friends on his plans and purposes, an honesty and unity of intention was every where prominent. It will be readily seen that this was of primary importance to his success as a solicitor. It was a passport to the hearts and consciences of men. Skeptics, and those unfriendly to Christian effort, confided in the honesty of his intentions.
Allied to the preceding trait, was the general elevation of his piety. His natural magnanimity, Christianity ennobled and dignified. The fervor of his feelings was chastened by an habitual contemplation of the great principles of his religion. There was a decided growth in this particular, as he advanced in years. His ardor did not abate, but it flowed more and more from contemplation. His charity became less and less that of natural feeling, and more and more like that of the great apostle, who combined intense emotion with high and commanding principle. In this way Mr. Cornelius secured the respect and confidence, as well as the love, of the Christian community. They paid an involuntary homage to the cause, be it what it might, which he was commissioned to carry forward. Some agents produce a powerful impression from the touching manner in which they can relate an incident, or clothe a narrative; but the impression wears off, because argument is not interwoven with the story, and thought is not conveyed in the torrent of emotion.
Mr. Cornelius was accustomed to rest his cause on its intrinsic merits. He did not, indeed, disdain those lighter innocent artifices and methods of illustrating and enforcing his subject, which his own conscience and the word of God justified. He was accustomed to seize upon a passing occurrence, or a local incident, whenever it could be done with propriety. Especially did he delight to encourage his hearers, by commending their previous liberality; following in this respect the model which an inspired apostle has set in his commendations of his Corinthian disciples. He was very far from that misanthropic mode of inciting to duty, which some excellent