« AnteriorContinuar »
of great excitement in the New England community on this subject. A number of gentlemen, with whom he was intimately associated, had been, and were at that time, warmly engaged in the controversy. A very strong Unitarian influence existed in Salem, whose effects he could not but witness and deplore. The publication of a sermon by a Unitarian clergyman of the town, called forth a review from the pen of Mr. Cornelius; a reply soon followed; the controversy was then closed by a rejoinder on the part of Mr. Cornelius, entirely satisfactory and decisive in respect to the points at issue, in the judgment, it is believed, of all parties. The details, and a synopsis of the whole debate might be given, but it is unnecessary. It has been referred to, principally on the ground that it shows the versatility of Mr. Cornelius's intellectual powers.
The controversial tact which he displayed, as well as the extent of his research, surprised both his friends and opponents.
About the same time he published a sermon on the doctrine of the Trinity, founded on the passage in Ephesians ii. 18. “For through him, we both have access, by one Spirit, unto the Father.” The discourse passed rapidly through several editions, and was soon incorporated into the series of the tracts of the American Tract Society. It was not intended to be an erudite and profound view of that great doctrine, but a simple exhibition of the scriptural argument on the subject, adapted to the mass of Christians. It is a highly successful effort, displaying uncommon powers of condensation, scriptural research, and felicitous statement. He expended upon it a great amount of time and labor.
Soon after the publication of this sermon, he became deeply interested in what has been familiarly termed the “ New Haven Controversy.” The views which he took of the important subjects developed in these celebrated
discussions, which have, to such an extent, agitated the orthodox communities of New England, have been already referred to. In justice to his principles and character, it may here be distinctly stated, that he was uniformly and increasingly opposed to the views which have been advocated by the New Haven divines. He was very far, however, from being a partisan. He was, to a commendable extent, an independent thinker. He carefully collected all the important reviews and pamphlets on the subject, gave them a thorough perusal, and made an analysis of the arguments, with remarks of his own. instead of satisfying him, induced him to take a profounder view of the whole subject. A considerable period before his death, he had commenced the study of those portions of the works of Calvin, Edwards, Bellamy, and others, which bear on the questions in debate.
During the life of Dr. Worcester, and to some extent after his death, Mr. Cornelius employed a portion of the year in public agencies of various descriptions. In this way, he rendered substantial aid to the Foreign Missionary, Bible, Education, and other societies. He was more and more regarded as destined in providence to become a leading executive agent in the great enterprise for the conversion of the world. When any charitable institution came to a period of serious embarrassment or exigency, its directors and patrons naturally looked to him as able to extricate it, and establish it in the favor of the community.
SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC CHARACTER.
It has been remarked of men distinguished in various departments of public life, that their private character would
bear very severe scrutiny. The reader of the Rambler, is sometimes tempted to wish that he had never opened the pages of Boswell. The hero abroad, is not unfrequently the tyrant at home. The eloquent expounder of the duties of parents and children, in the pulpit or at the bar, may be at the head of a family, which furnishes an affecting commentary upon the necessity of his instructions. If you should follow the man, who meets you in the public street with an air of the utmost good nature, only a few steps to his own door, you might witness a scene which would chill your heart. The sister or the wife can sometimes tell a story the reverse of that which is found in the eulogy of the preacher, or on the page of the biographer. Men whose piety cannot be called in question, are guilty of sad delinquencies in the domestic circle. While in the presence of their wives and children, they are taciturn, or morose, abrupt in speech, and cruel in manner, if not in heart. They never manifest in their own house that nice sense of honor, and those thousand nameless delicate attentions, which as gentlemen in public life, they are ready to exhibit, and which they well know constitute half the charm of human intercourse.
The distractions of business and the fatigues of the body will sometimes, indeed, cloud the brow, and ruffle the equanimity of the gentlest spirit; but the wonted cheerfulness will soon be resumed, and the divine precept, “ Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you," will recover its authority over the heart.
Between the public and domestic character of Mr. Cornelius, there was an admirable consistency. In this respect, he endeavored to follow the example of him who was the same when with the friends whom he loved at Bethany, and when “he opened his mouth” and taught the people from the mount. Mr. Cornelius was remarkably attentive to the little wants and wishes of his friends. In this way he “gathered up the fragments," so that nothing was lost. He did not reserve his kindness for great occasions. A person looking back on a week in which he had been in his society, could hardly reckon the number of kindnesses which he had received from him. These manifestations of interest in another's welfare, were not designed to awaken gratitude towards himself, or to requite the favors which had been shown him, but they were the spontaneous product of a heart which rejoiced in the happiness of man. This trait of character was as apparent in regard to total strangers, as in respect to others. In a public stage-coach or steam-boat, he was ever consulting the convenience of his fellow-passengers, however humble their circumstances. He was tomed, with the utmost cheerfulness, to give up his own accommodations, however fully entitled to them, accompanying the surrender of his right with some cheerful observation, which won the good will of all who were present. No one, perhaps, was ever more successful in securing the remembrance and respect of the agents of stage-coach companies, and others employed about our
public conveyances. On this account, it was a privilege to be in his company on a journey, as the esteem which he won for himself, was extended to his associates.
His manner of performing an act of kindness could not have been better chosen, if he had accurately analyzed the laws of the human mind which regulate the intercourse of friendship. He delighted to witness the happiness which an unexpected favor produced. He made use of those little innocent artifices of affection, which sometimes produce the most permanent effects, because they show that the kindness was premeditated, and, therefore, came from a heart, which was consulting for another's benefit.
The manner in which Mr. Cornelius welcomed his friends, on a return from a journey, or when visiting at his house, is worthy of being recorded. It cannot be expressed better than by saying, it was full of heart. It was not simply a cordial salutation. The guest felt that he was welcome. A thousand little incidents showed him that he was—such as the benignant countenance, the inviting tone of voice, the cheerful inquiry, and the bountiful hospitality.
The amount of actual service which he performed for strangers, as well as for his friends, was uncommon. - There was
a performance out of that which he had, as there had been a readiness to will.” Many persons, whose character for honesty and conscientiousness is not to be questioned, are much more prompt in offering than in rendering assistance. Their friendship is periodical, or altogether uncertain.
But Mr. Cornelius was a brother born for adversity.”
few men, who were entirely trust-worthy. There was no dark corner, no chamber of imagery,” in his soul. His noble mind could not stoop to equivocation and management. And to accomplish his purposes, he never needed such
He was among