Page images

little low post, less than a foot high, in the graveyard at Geneva, with simple J. C. on it, points out the spot where John Calvin sleeps; but no age or generation, to the end of the world, will fail to feel the impress of that heart and mind. He is not seen or heard of through the world; but these churches in New England, the missionary stations among the heathen, are his monuments, and every free school that blesses the world was opened by the wand held by his mighty hand. "He being dead, yet speaketh."

On the far-off isle of the ocean, the old missionary lies down to die. He hath toiled there almost half a century. He has seen naked, wild savages changed into men-into Christian families. He has seen their language reduced to writing. He has brought the press there, and has printed Bibles and school-books for the people. He has filled the island with schools; he bas gathered churches, and the church-bell has thrown its notes far out upon the still waters of the Pacific. And now, around his dying.bed stand weeping men. They are the native pastors of these churches, whom he has trained up. They have come to receive his last charge, and to take their farewell of that faithful servant of God. And the dying man is looking back over all his life, to review the way in which God has led him. He can't recall the hour of his conversion ; he can't recall the name of the faithful Sabbath-school teacher who was the means of his being led to Christ; but he remembers his form or face, and he sees that all his life and usefulness have been shaped by that man whose very name has passed away out of his memory. And now, don't you see that this unknown teacher, who, perhaps, has wept that he could do nothing for Christ, is yet living, and teaching, and blessing that distant island, and will do so till every island shall flee away?

A poor woman saves her little gift, penny by penny, for mis. sions. She mourns over her poverty, only because she can't aid to send the Gospel to the heathen! It becomes the burden of her life: “Oh! that I could do for the heathen !" When she comes to die, her pastor tells the simple story of her longings, and the little book is already published in eight different languages, and will perhaps do more for missions than any missionary since the days of Paul!

Were we to select the instrument and the field of labor for high, permanent, and ever-growing usefulness, we hardly know any examples superior to what we find in the ministry in NewEngland. . And were we to select the circumstances and to form the character for this usefulness, we would draw our model as follows:

1st. We would have the child born of respectable, intelligent, and religious parents. We would have them belong to what we call the middling class—the very back-bone of New-England. We would have the child made the subject of earnest prayer and dedication from his very birth. He should never be able to re. member when he heard the first prayer, when he prayed himself, nor when he first went up to the house of God. He should be a devoted, dedicated thing from his creation.

2d. He should be poor in early life. This would compel him to work and strengthen the body, and give him that unspeakable blessing, a good constitution. It would give him habits of body that will enable him to endure hardships as a good soldier. It would give him babits of economy, and enable him to live on whatever God's providence should give him. It would give him sympathy with and for the poor, and make him feel that there may be great worth of character where there is no property. It would place him in the position where the rich could associate with him, because he stands on character alone--and where the poor feel that they can associate with him, and have his sympathy. I would have him work at manual labor, and work hard, too, in early life—because in no other way is it possible to lay up health that will carry bim through the mental labors of life, even into old age. The tree must have hard exposures to become solid, strong, and enduring. Strength of mind must have the sub-base of physical strength.

3d. We would have our instrument become pious in early life. This would prevent his going into wrong paths, forming wrong habits, tainting and soiling the soul by contact with gross sin, and causing him to look back upon the past with deep sorrow. Tbis would lead him to give the dew of his youth to Christ. This would give him to know by experience the temptations and trials of the young, and fit him to sympathize with them and counsel with them.

4th. We would have him consecrated to one object, and that is-to do good to the souls of men. He may cultivate his taste; he may come in contact with mind, living, and in books; he may know men and things; but he is not to live to enjoy himself, not to be a great and learned man, nor a deep, accurate scholar; not to have riches, or honors, or notice, or to seek for reputation; but to do good to the souls of men. This one great object is all that he is to live for.

5th. We would have his intellectual powers balanced and symmetrical. This is not so common or so easy to find as one might suppose. It is easy to find men very conservative or very radi. cal, very desponding or very sanguine-men who want to creep with the mole or rise in the balloon. The father of Icarus charged himn not to fly too high, because his wings were fastened on by wax, and it would melt if he went too near the sun, and if he went too low, and too near the sea, the moisture would destroy the power of the wax. A character that influences men rightly should be without extremes. It must originally have a foundation of granite in its composition, or else it will never become character. Yet, when you see that character developed, and brought out in age, full, ripe, symmetrical, and bright, you forget what a resisting of temptation, and what self-denial and efforts it cost him to attain it—just as when you see the sun at evening break out so clear and bright, you forget how many clouds he had to wade through and drink up, before he could set in such brightness.

6th. We would have our instrument live and act on religious principle. Such a character as we have been describing will never make a popular sensation man. If he acts on religious principle, he can never stoop to try to become notorious. He will not fall in with the prevailing taste of the day, and thus be popular, and be talked about, and get into the papers every week, nor will he defend his notions with what passes for originality, and demand tbat men shall believe when there is no reason for believing. He will not consent to be used as a bundle of sky. rockets, because he relies upon sanctified reason. Acting on religious principle, and weaving that into the whole moral character, evens up that character, so there is no shallow spot in it. A clear, sound, cautious judgment can never be popular in the sense of having men run after it and applaud. But that man stands upon a rock, and all his moral instincts are true and quick. He has few mistakes to mourn over.

7th. And we would have our instrument live to a good old age. There is beauty in every season.

It is beautiful to see youth, with its bright visions, its sanguine hopes, and its fresh ardor, step out and grapple manfully with the duties of life. If he dies young, we estimate bim too highly--not as he was, but for what he gave promise of becoming.

There is beauty in watching manhood, when in the freshness of its strength, it takes up all the burdens and responsibilities of life, and bravely carries them all. But we want to see him pass through all the stages, and see him when he comes nearer his end, when, in the silver light of age, we see that his garments are spotless, and he is going down to the grave with a name untarnished and immaculate. There is a meek yet majestic beauty, when the full-orbed sun sinks away in autumn, mingling heaven and earth together in that soft green and yellow light that seems to let the vision into eternity itself. The old pilgrim, after a life of toil, thus spends the Sabbath of life in blessing the world, and in preparing to leave it.

How far that good man, whose dust lies before us, bad these advantages, and came up to this model, you will judge as we proceed to give a very brief outline of his life, and then to draw, with much diffidence, his intellectual and moral character.

The Rev. HEMAN HUMPHREY was born at West-Simsbury, Hartford county, Connecticut, on the 26th of March, 1779.

His father was one of the many small farmers scattered over New-England, and from whom many of our most valued characters have risen. His name was Solomon Humphrey, and that of bis mother, Hannah Brown, previous to her marriage. The father raised eleven children, all of whom lived to adult

age. Both of his parents were pious, and early dedicated their children to God. They both lived to a good old age, honest, humble, pious people, of that meek and quiet spirit which, in the sight of the Lord, is of great price. The father died at Barkhamstead, Conn., in 1834, aged eighty-one, and the mother several years earlier, aged sixtysix.

When the boy, Heman, was about six years old, his father removed to Burlington, Conn., and it was in this small, retired place that he spent his youth, and where much of his physical and mental character was formed. Here he wrought on the farm, enjoying only the advantages of the common district school, till qualified himself to be a teacher. In the winter of 1798-9 there was a revival of religion in Burlington, and there, at the age of twenty, the Spirit of God found him, and led him to Christ. We do not know what were the peculiar exercises of his mind, but, as he once remarked that he was "converted into Calvinism," and as his views of religious experience were ever after clear and deep, and thoroughly Calvinistic, we have reason to think his religious experience was a deep one. The Rev. Jonathan Miller was the minister at Burlington at that time. Dr. Humphrey always de. lighted to see and acknowledge the hand of God in his provi. dences. And on his death-bed he mentioned, that it was not till after this period, and not till after he had acquired much expe. rience as a teacher, that the thought of obtaining a liberal education ever entered his mind. Having engaged to labor for the summer, he was prevented by a spring freshet from crossing the river and meeting his engagement, and that providence was the means of changing all the plans and the whole course of bis life.

He graduated at Yale College in 1805 in a class of forty-two. Among his classmates were Thomas H. Gallaudet, the father of teaching the blind in this country, and Rev. Dr. Spring, of NewYork, the almost unrivaled preacher and pastor.

After graduation he studied theology with the Rev. Asahel Hooker, of Goshen, Conn., and was licensed to preach, by the North Litchfield Association, at Salisbury, Conn., in October, 1806. The following spring, March 16, 1807, at the age of twenty-eight, he was ordained over the church in Fairfield, Conn. Here he labored, under many difficulties, but so judiciously and faithfully, for the space of ten years, that he was remembered among the first ministers of the State. At least one powerful revival came upon his people, in which bis labors were abundant and successful. He had to encounter what used to be called the “Half-way” Covenant, and which, under his influence, was laid aside. Here, too, he commenced his labors in behalf of the temperance reformation, of which, all through life, he was so strenuous an advo. cate, so consistent an example, and so successful a teacher. So early as 1812, he wrote an address to the churches on the subject of temperance, which was adopted and published by his Association; and, on his return from Europe at a later day, he greatly aided this cause by another effort.

He was married to Sophia Porter, April 20, 1807. She walks and feels the chief mourner to-day. They had ten children committed to them, of whom six are living. Of these ten, three have been or are pastors, and two married pastors -- all occupying most important positions. One is now a distinguished Professor in a Theological Seminary, one a Member of Congress, and all members of Christ's Church. One of these young ministers-and he most lovely-sleeps in our cemetery, and by the side of his dust we shall to day lay the father.

In November, 1817, he was installed over the first church in Pittsfield, at which time the two churches, which had been separated in warm political times, were reünited. The wounds were outwardly healed, and all the broken bones were joined, and the bandages taken off, but they were still very tender, and few men could have so successfully taken this place and made the union permanent, as did Mr. Humphrey. None but those on the ground can appreciate the difficulties—so long-standing, so bitter, so apparently irreconcilable, reaching the two churches, reaching families, neighborhoods, and covering the whole town-and yet, under bis judicious management, the spirit of peace took the place of discord, and all these troubles dropped away, as the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy all drop off if you will let in the sun upon them. He remained here six years, and when I had the honor to take the position of pastor over this church here, I could feel his hand and see marks of that hand all over the town, though nearly twenty years had elapsed since he left. During his ministry here there were two very powerful revivals in his church-one of which was a wonder, such as was never witnessed here before. A great number were hopefully converted-some of whom, gray. headed men, are still alive, and are here to day, with trembling step, and crowded memory, and tearful eyes, to follow their spiritual father to his last resting-place.

In October, 1823, he was inaugurated as President of Amherst College. The same year he was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Middlebury College.

Many will remember with what deep reluctance this people gave him up. The College was in its very infancy. It had graduated

« PreviousContinue »