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On the 10th of May, 1831, Jeremiah Evarts, Esq., corresponding secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, died at Charleston, South Carolina. At the annual meeting of the Board, in October following, Mr. Cornelius was chosen to fill the vacancy. The course, which he adopted at this important period of his life, was strictly in accordance with those elevated principles which had long governed him. He wrote to a friend, some weeks after the election, “ Hitherto I have felt more like praying, than either writing or conversing. The most I can, or dare, say at present, is, that with my eyes turned to heaven, and death and the judgment before me, I am trying to ask, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' Next, I desire to have my ears open to every thing which is likely to make known his will. Lastly, I aim to put a seal on my lips till he permits and directs me to speak. I beg you to remember me in your prayers. It is the best proof of love,
which any dear friend, like yourself, can give me. treat my friends to pray for me. I think I never wished so earnestly to do the thing which Christ will approve. Everything else appears comparatively of no moment. His plan is perfect. You and I are objects of his thought and attention. He has his will concerning our spheres of labor. We had better be in our graves, than to be in any other field than that which he has chosen for us."
In most of the letters, which he wrote for two months, he entreated the prayers of his friends with an earnestness which would not be denied. For the last three months of his life, he observed every Friday as a day of fasting and prayer. In addition to this, he set apart several entire days for the purpose of prayer.
He examined the most important passages of Scripture, which have reference to the question he was considering, and arranged the results of the investigation under distinct heads. He sent a communication to a number of the most judicious and intelligent Christians in the country, and received a formal reply from about twenty. The results of his inquiries, drawn up with great care, fill about seventy quarto pages of manuscript. The method, which he pursued, he thus states. “1. As the word of God is my sufficient and only rule of faith and practice, in this as well as in every other case of duty, I will faithfully endeavor to ascertain its leading principles, so far as they apply to the present inquiry; and I will not, knowingly, suffer any other principle to influence my
decisions. 2. I will endeavor to state impartially, and to weigh maturely, those considerations which have been or may be urged as reasons, why I should not accept the appointment. I will, in like manner, endeavor to state impartially, and to weigh maturely, those considerations which have been, or may be urged as reasons, why I should accept the appointment. 3. I will, as in the presence of Christ, and
as responsible to him, say where it appears to me, the preponderance lies, and consequently where my obligations to Christ require me to labor."
The following are the principles, which he considered to be recognized by the word of God, and as applicable to his investigations of duty. A small part only of the texts, which he selected, are here copied.
“ The Lord Jesus Christ is the sovereign and exclusive proprietor of all I possess, and of all that I can do, as a rational and accountable being. The only lawful question which I can discuss is, How can I best serve Jesus Christ? Where can I reasonably hope to do the most for his cause? If by accepting this appointment, then I am bound, by my vows to him, to accept ; if by remaining where I am, then I am bound to decline. My commitments are to Him, and to Him only. For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then are all dead, and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again.' One is your master, even Christ.' 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?' Every follower of Christ is bound to regard his talents and means of influence as intrusted to him by God, for this very end, that he may serve and glorify his Creator and Redeemer. For who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?' Every minister and Christian is bound to do the greatest amount of good, which his situation and capacity admits. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' The hand of God is to be acknowledged as being in some way connected with all the events which take place in providence, and especially with those which relate to ourselves, and to our duties. • Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.' The lot is cast into the lap;
but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.' Divine providence, or God's visible dealings towards us, is nevertheless not to be regarded, as of course, determining what his will concerning us is. “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. When God has called us to one field of labor, we are not to leave it, till called by him to do so. • He said to his servants, Occupy till I come.' The principal aim, in all our efforts to do good, should be, the salvation of souls. • What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' * And they that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.' The kingdom of Christ is advanced no further than truth and holiness are promoted among men. ' For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God and approved of men.'
“ To substitute any thing else in the place of duty to Christ, to make any other object than his glory and the interests of his cause the ruling motive of action, or to favor any other moral feelings than those which are holy, is peculiarly offensive in the sight of God. The peace of the church is to be studied, so far as practicable, in all decisions respecting duty. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.' Party considerations are to be regarded with extreme caution. • Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.'—'For they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ.' This is not, however, to be construed in such a manner as to hinder our regard for truth, and the utterance, on all proper occasions, of our honest opinions. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be
blamed.' 'Contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.' In deciding important questions of duty, there is danger that we shall fall into error, through the influence of corrupt affections. He that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool.'
• There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. The only true ground of safety lies in divine guidance and teaching, and the careful study of God's word. O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.' 'O send out thy light and thy truth, and let them lead me.' *I pray that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom.' Prayer is a most important means of obtaining divine teaching and direction. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.' “ Fasting is to be united with prayer, in important
• Daniel set himself to seek the Lord by prayer and fasting. Peculiar encouragement is given to social prayer. 'If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father in heaven.' Though the advice of judicious friends is to be sought, yet even the counsel of the ablest earthly advisers is not always to be relied on.
* Great men are not always wise.' Pride and self-seeking are to be most anxiously avoided. • Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not.' • Be clothed with humility ; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the lowly.'
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.' If duty to Christ requires it, we must not hesitate to make any personal sacrifice of ease, or comfort, or property, or reputation. · There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands,