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tery, there is sufficient encouragement to pursue it. And the more difficult it is, and the more others have neglected to examine it, or have failed of success, the more worthy it is of peculiar attention. Accordingly, I have made it my practice to seek after and examine the more difficult points in divinity. This I have found to be the best way for me to make proficiency in real and useful knowledge. By solving one dilliculty, I was enabled to solve another; and every new solution gave me new ability and new resolution, to pursue my studies with greater diligence and perseverance.

5. In the course of my studies, I have endeavored to obtain certainty upon all points which would admit of it. Many points in divinity, as well as in other branches of science, will not admit of demonstration, and must remain problematical, after all human researches; but some may be brought to a fair and full decision. In all cases in which I supposed certainty could be obtained, I made it a practice to pursue a subject until I was completely satisfied I had found the truth. I have spent more time, more attention, and more hard study, upon critical and difficult points, than, perhaps, most theologians have been willing to do;

and I have never regretted the time and pains I have spent. For I have found, that the knowledge of the most difficult subjects I ever attended to, has thrown the greatest light upon the whole system of divinity; and more than any thing else, enabled me to discover the connection and harmony which run through the fundamental doctrines of the gospel. And though men may be good christians, and even good preachers, without understanding the mutual connection and consistency of the first principles of Christianity, yet I believe that no man can be a great and thorough divine, without critically examining and understanding what are generally considered the most difficult subjects in divinity.

6. I have made it my practice to improve every good opportunity of conversing upon theological subjects. While I was a candidate, I derived a good deal of benefit from conversing with both old and young ministers. Though I soon gave up the idea of convincing those I happened to differ from in sentiment, yet I seldom failed of getting knowledge, by discoursing freely with both orthodox and heterodox divines. After I was settled," I fell into very happy ministerial connections, which afforded me peculiar advantages for improvement by conversation. Nor did I fail of reaping benefit from conversing with those whom I undertook to teach divinity. I found that after I had read, and thought, and even written upon a subject, I could rarely master it without the aid of conversation. Í erally perceived, that in the course of free discussion, some

genthoughts would be suggested, which had never occurred to me in reading, or thinking upon the subject. Though only superficial knowledge can be gained by mere conversation, yet this, in connection with reading and thinking, may be of great service in theological researches. But in conversing upon subjects, I never did of choice take that side of a question which was contrary to my present opinion, lest I should insensibly warp my mind, and lead myself into error. Such were the general rules by which I meant to govern myself in the course of my theological studies.

CHAPTER IV.

MANNER OF INSTRUCTING.

I was naturally fond of retirement; and when I entered into a family state, I intended to live as much by myself, as would be consistent with proper attention to my people, and to occasional visitants. It did not once occur to my mind that I should become an instructer in divinity. The first young gentleman that applied for instruction, proposed to tarry but a few weeks, and accordingly left me as soon as he proposed. I had then no expectation of any future application. But pretty soon after this, another young man in the vicinity wished to live with me a little while; and being in a bereaved situation, I consented to receive him into my family, and assist him in his theological studies a few months. Still I had not the remotest thought of becoming an instructer of candidates for the ministry; but it so happened, that numbers successively put themselves under my instruction, and in the term of about fifty years, I have taught between eighty and ninety pupils.

At first, I left my students to take very much their own method of studying, only directing them to read particular authors, conversing with them occasionally, and hearing them read their compositions. But after I durst consider myself as an instructer, I adopted nearly the same mode of instructing that Mr. Smalley had taught me. I drew up a concise system of theological questions, which I put into the bands of my pupils, and directed them to write a longer or shorter dissertation upon each question, in the order it was placed. But previously to their writing upon any subject, I directed them to read some of the best authors I had, who had written upon each side of the question. This appeared to be necessary, not only to give them a full and extensive view of every subject, but also to guard them against falling into errors afterwards. For while they were reading on the wrong side of any question, I had opportunity to make such remarks upon what they read, or what occurred to them in reading, as might prevent their being led astray by false or sophistical reasoning. Though I supposed it was necessary, yet I knew it was dangerous, to read authors of erroneous sentiments; because the best heads and the best hearts are not always able to detect and refute sophistry, without some assistance. In this view, it appeared proper to put authors on both sides of a question into the hands of my pupils, and to give them a general knowledge of the most false and dangerous schemes of religion, before they left me. I thought the danger was less in this way, than to allow them to go out into the world, without being, in some measure, prepared to meet and refute those who either professed or propagated false and destructive sentiments. In hearing their discourses, I used to remark upon their manner of arranging their thoughts, upon the sentiments they exhibited, and upon the beauties and defects of their language. I cautioned them against a flowery, bombastic style, on the one hand, and on the other, against a too low, vulgar, slovenly manner of expression. I recommended a plain, neat, perspicuous, energetic mode of writing and speaking, which all could understand, which none could dislike, and which some of the best judges would admire. I commonly spent some time every day with my students, either to hear their compositions, or to converse with them upon particular subjects. I often discoursed upon the duties, difficulties, advantages and trials of ministers. I inculcated the importance of being prudent, faithful, and exemplary, in every part of their ministerial duty. I urged them to give themselves wholly to their work, and never encumber themselves with the concerns of the world, or dissipate their ininds by mixing with vain and unprofitable company. I endeavored to point out how they should treat their parishioners of various characters and dispositions, and taught them as well as I could, how to become able and faithful ministers.

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CHAPTER V.

RELIGIOUS VIEWS AND CONDUCT, UNDER THE VARIOUS DISPENSATIONS OF PROVIDENCE TOWARDS MYSELF, MY

FAMILY AND MY PEOPLE.

I HAVE briefly delineated my manner of life, from my childhood to the time of my settlement in the ministry. From that period till I entered into a family state, which was about two years, I lived in much retirement and tranquillity. I met with nothing where I resided, nor among my people, nor from any other quarter, which either disturbed my peace, or interrupted my studies. My principal concern was, to discharge the duties of the pastoral office faithfully. I loved my people ardently, and received continual marks of their kindness, esteem, and affection. My outward prospects were promising, and I anticipated scenes of prosperity and usefulness. I generally maintained nearness to God, and enjoyed almost constant light and peace in my own mind. I had time and opportunity for all the duties of devotion, which I performed with great punctuality, with sensible pleasure, and, I trust, with some sincerity. I felt very much detached both from the cares of life and the transactions of the world. Providence directed me to the choice of an agreeable companion, and I was married, April 6, 1775, to Miss DeliverANCE French, of Braintree. She possessed a sprightly mind, a pious heart, and a most amiable natural disposition. We went to house-keeping the next week after marriage, with mutually raised expectations. But alas! we knew not what a day might bring forth. A thick, and dark, and terrible storm was gathering, which involved us and our country in deep distress. In less than a week after we had entered our new and peaceful habitation, Lexington battle took place, which proved to be the commencement of a long and bitter war between Britain and America. This great and alarming event gave a dark and discouraging aspect to all our future circumstances in life. I always dreaded war, being totally destitute of a martial spirit, and viewing it highly detrimental to the interests of learning, religion and morality. But the war which now commenced, was of the most malignant kind. It was really a civil war; which originated in, and was productive of, the basest passions of the human heart. Though Britain and America were two countries, yet the inhabitants were one nation, and had always been subjects of the same sovereign. Hence it was to be expected, the contention be

tween such brethren would be extremely cruel and bloody; and so it eventually proved. Besides, the Americans were divided among themselves. Their crown officers, and some of their leading and most opulent citizens were on the side of Britain, and obstructed all measures in opposition to the British parliament. This created reproaches, invectives, tumults, and vio. lent proceedings in different colonies, counties, towns, parishes, and even neighborhoods. But being heartily attached to my country, and firmly believing we had justice on our side, I met with very little difficulty on account of my political principles or conduct. I always meant to throw all the weight I had into the scale of liberty; though I verily thought some of its advocates adopted sentiments and pursued measures, which were really hostile to good government. And now I believe that many honest Whigs are fully convinced of the errors of some of their fierce and unprincipled leaders. But though I met with no peculiar difficulty in regard to the grounds of the war, yet I shared largely in its common calamities; because I was not prepared, as many of my fathers in the ministry were, to meet them. I had just purchased a settlement, and involved myself in debt, to the amount of at least two hundred pounds. The two years before the war began, my people punctually paid my salary, and advanced one hundred pounds of my settlement a year before it was due by contract. But from the beginning to ihe end of the war, my people, like many others, neglected to pay my salary at the usual time, and in the usual manner. Nor was this all; the paper currency very early and rapidly depreciated, which threw me into great embarrassments. For, instead of being able to pay for my farm, I was obliged to run farther into debt, and even to borrow money from time to time, to provide necessaries for my family. In short, for the space fifteen or sixteen years, I was obliged to pay interest for about two hundred pounds. These were my pecuniary difficulties, which arose principally from the war. But it deeply affected me in other respects; it diverted the attention, and even the affections of the people from me. They were so much embarrassed themselves with the expenses, labors, and fatigues of the war, that they neglected to attend public worship, and became very indifferent to every thing of a religious nature. Those who had been apparently warm friends, became cold and distant in their behavior towards me, and sometimes, indeed, treated me with real disrespect and contempt. These things were severe and unexpected trials. For I always meant 10 treat my people in a friendly and condescending manner, in all my private and public conduct

. And being fully of the opinion, that no minister can be useful to a people, any longer than he

of

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