Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I have no doubt that, through Jesus Christ, I shall be saved." He often spoke of Christ as the only foundation of his hope, and the satisfaction which he felt at the thought of being saved through him alone.

Though a stranger might suppose from the cheerfulness and pleasantry of his conversation with those who occasionally called upon him, that he thought but little of death; yet so constantly was this great subject before him, that he seldom let an interview with a particular friend pass without introducing it. Every attack of disease, although but slight, he would take as an intimation that the time of his departure drew nigh. He literally looked and waited for the coming of his Lord. He often expressed surprise that God spared him so long; and although he uniformly appeared to be patient with the continuance of life, and often expressed his conviction that long life was a blessing; yet there were times when he evidently desired to depart. Some time before his last sickness, he was suddenly taken severely ill, and fears were entertained by his friends that he would not recover. While one of them was conversing with him in the evening, he said, "I hope I shall be permitted to go, if it may be the will of God, before morning." But during the night he revived, and in the morning was much better. He said to the same individual, “I am sensibly relieved, and I may be spared some time longer, but I cannot help feeling disappointed.”

In bis last sickness he was able to say but little. About the time when it was apparent that he could not recover, his throat began to fill up to such a degree that he could not distinctly articulate. Though he appeared for the greater part of the time to have his reason perfectly, yet it was seldom that he said any thing which could be understood. Several times he seemed very desirous of communicating something to those who stood by him, and made a great effort so to speak that they might understand. But it was only now and then that his meaning could be ascertained A few hours before he died, he turned his eyes upon one who sat by his bed, and addressed him with great earnestness for some time. But no one present could get the meaning of a word. It was peculiarly painful to see a dying man striving in vain to make himself understood, and no small disappointment to his friends not to know what he would say in his departing moments. But he had left nothing to be done in a dying hour. He had given his friends and the world entire satisfaction in regard to his own preparation for heaven. And the instruction which he was able to impart for their benefit, he had taken a more favorable opportunity to give. They had repeatedly heard from his

lips when in health, all, and more than all, which any man could impart in death.

It is gratifying, however, to know that up to the time when the power of speech was taken away, his conversation was such as 10 indicate an apprehension of the change that was before him, and a readiness to meet it. He was asked if he expected to recover, and he answered “ No." He was asked if he had any fear of death. His answer was, “ I cannot say that I have no dread of the passage through the dark valley; but I am not afraid of what is beyond.” “ Your hope then sus. tains you in this trying' hour," replied his friend. “O) yes," said he," I believe ihat I shall be accepted. I shall be greatly disappointed if I am not." He was asked if he was desirous “to depart and be with Christ.” His answer seemed to indicate some remains of an instinctive dread of the agonies of death, while it showed that his heart was in heaven. "I do n't wish,” said he, “ to die to-day, nor to-morrow; but the thought that I shall soon be gone gives me pleasure.” He always had a very great dread of pain, or bodily suffering. It was his desire, if it might be the will of God, to die an easy death. And during bis sickness he frequently expressed his gratitude to God that he went down so gently, and his hope that his removal might be without a severe struggle. But it was the will of God that he should taste the bitterness of death. During the night previous to his departure, while he was supposed to be dying, his distress for breath was frequently very great. Just before the closing scene, however, he was comparatively easy; and when he actually left the world, it was with so little alteration in his appearance that no one in the room could tell when he ceased to breathe.

On Wednesday, the twenty-third of September, 1810, about three o'clock in the morning, his spirit took its upward flight. Though this event had been for some time daily expected, yet when it came it produced a sensation which could not be anticipated. Every one felt that a great and good man had fallen, that a valuable friend had been taken away, and that the community had sustained an irreparable loss. “The glory is departed” was written upon the walls of his house, and desolation marked the place of his former residence. His funeral solemni. ties took place on the Monday following. The Rev. Thomas Williams, who had been requested twenty-two years before, to preach on this occasion, delivered a very able and appropriate sermon* from Ecclesiastes, xii. 9. “And moreover, because the

* This sermon, which it was proposed to publish with the works of Dr. Emmons, 19 omitted at the request of the author.

preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge.” From this signally pertinent text, the following general truth was deduced, and fully illustrated and sustained: "A wise preacher will constantly teach his people knowledge." Mr. Williams gave the deceased an exalted character, ranking him first among the most distinguished divines of New England. Prayer was offered at the house by Rev. Mr. Long of Milford, and at the meeting-house by Rev. Mr. Fisk of Wrentham, and Dr. Codman of Dorchester. The following original ode, prepared for the occasion, was sung at the grave.

“ Rest, man of God! thy labors cease,

And we, thy sorrowing children, come
To lay thee in the grave in peace,

And sing around thy hallowed tomb.

“ With all the great and holy dead

Long since departed to the skies,
Triumphant from this lowly bed,

In equal glory thou shalt rise.
“ Thou wert our father, friend, and guide,

Our faithful shepherd, tried and true;
For all, for whom the Saviour died,

Thy life a deathless pattern drew.

“ Though thou dost sleep, thy page shall burn

With untold lustre, ages hence;
Millennial converts yet shall learn

The doctrines of the Cross from thence.

“ Well nigh a century was spent,

Amid life's ever varying scenes;
Ah! thou didst know what Sorrow meant,

Oft drinking from her bitter streams.

“ But lo! thy ransomed soul is gone;

Gone to thy Saviour and thy King;
Already hast thou learned the song

Which angels never, never sing.

“ And now, while dust to dust is given,'

And farewell sighs are heard from all,
On him, who points our way to heaven,

May thy descending mantle fall.”

The vast concourse of people assembled on this occasion, and the deep feeling which was indicated by their countenances and deportment, very strikingly evinced the sincere affection and respect in which this aged divine was held. There was about fifty ministers present, and many laymen of distinction from a distance. Though he had lived to an age at which most people are forgotten by the community, and at which the young cease to feel any interest in them; yet he seems to have

retained not only the profound respect, but the warm affection of even the youth of his congregation. It was intensely interesting to see the aged, the middle aged, the youth, and the children, all gathering around the dwelling of their aged pastor, and together mingling their tears of sorrow," that they should see his face no more."

The reader of this Memoir will perceive that comparatively little is here said, of certain traits in the character of Dr. Emmons which were well known to bis intimate friends. Among these are his wisdom, wit, cheersulness and vivacity. Something particular upon each of these traits, and upon the influence which they exerted upon his social character, was contemplated in these passages. But having been favored with the perusal of a lecture recently delivered by Professor Park to the senior class in the theological seminary at Andover, in which this part of the Doctor's character is happily delineated, the writer has thought it proper to request the lecture for publication. It is with great pleasure that he is able to present it to his readers.

MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS

OF A VISITER,

UPON THE CHARACTER OF DR. EMMONS.

FAMILIAR LECTURE READ BEFORE TEE

SEMINARY, BY PROF.

SENIOR OLA69 IN ANDOVER THEOLOGICAL
EDWARDS . PARK.

I have imagined that it may not be unprofitable for a class of men who have in view the ministerial office, to hear a familiar essay on the personal and social character of Rev. Nathanael 'Emmons." The life of any man, more particularly of such a man, may be fruitful of suggestions to any student, and above all to a student for the ministry. During the last fifteen years of his life, Dr. Emmons was regarded as an intellectual, as well as physiological curiosity. He was connected with the church ai Franklin seventy years, was its sole pastor fiftyfour years, and during his connection with it, saw nearly four hundred of his parishioners profess their faith in Christ. He guided the studies of eighty-seven young men preparing to become ministers of the gospel, and he thus exerted an important influence over at least eighty-seven thousand among the laity. Of those who enjoyed his teaching, several, as Professors Smith, Wines, Fowler and Pond of Bangor, became in. structers in theology; and some, as Professor Fisher of New Haven, became eminent as literary men. He published, during his life, more than seven thousand copies of nearly two hundred sermons, besides four labored dissertations, and numerous essays for periodicals. He did not leave theology as he found it. The state of this science, and the consequent power of the Christian ministry, have been perceptibly advanced by his labors. He and his fathers in the ministry have done much 10ward the formation of New England character. It is impos

« AnteriorContinuar »