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hearts again be given unreservedly to thee, and we be fitted for thy presence in glory.”
In June, he thus mentions a proposal for a general concert of prayer in behalf of colleges. “A plan is on foot for establishing a concert for prayer in all the colleges in the United States, at nine o'clock every Sabbath morning. It has been already extensively communicated in many directions. If any other hour has been heretofore thought of, I trust it will be relinquished for the reason, that all may be united in this. You will do what you can to promote the blessed design. I hope we all shall see the providence of God in it. Our concert was held last Sabbath morning, and will be continued till another revival of religion, and from that period, I hope, till the millennium. Oh what things do we witness. Let heaven and earth rejoice. The Prince of peace and glory is riding through the world. The angel is flying in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel."
A deep interest was felt about this time in the minds of many in the Christian community, in behalf of several young men from pagan lands, providentially thrown on our shores. Four or five natives of the Sandwich islands, particularly, were the means of calling forth strong sympathies, which resulted in the adoption of systematic measures for their education. In these philanthropic labors, Mr. Cornelius took a decided part. In conjunction with Samuel J. Mills, and another individual yet living, he toiled perseveringly and with great success to direct public attention towards the interesting strangers from the “isles of the sea.” The circumstances in respect to the first suggestion of a Foreign Mission School, are thus detailed by the individual last alluded to. “ The heathen youth, to whom Mills, of blessed memory, paid so much attention, early attracted the notice of Mr. Cornelius. He found a native of Hawaii in New Haven, and with some difficulty obtained his release from an engagement into which he had entered. It was ascertained that several others were in different parts of the country. As we were one day deliberating in respect to what could be done in their behalf, the idea of a foreign mission school was suggested, whether by him or myself it is impossible to determine. It is very probable that the suggestion first came from him. We concluded that the subject must in some way be brought before the Christian community. He said to me, I will collect what information I can respecting these heathen youth, and you must write a tract. The piece thus produced was first published in the Panoplist, and afterwards constituted the substance of a pamphlet. I have a copy of it now lying on my table, in Mr. Cornelius's handwriting.”
In the course of this year, Mr. Cornelius resided for a number of weeks at Fairhaven, in the vicinity of New Haven, Ct. The people of the place were destitute of the regular preaching of the gospel, and had severely suffered in consequence of that destitution. It was a field demanding diligent and laborious cultivation. The main object of Mr. Cornelius in resorting to this village was to secure an opportunity for retired reading and study. But the circumstances of the people called forth his sympathy, his earnest prayers and efforts. God was pleased to bless his labors with the influence of the Holy Spirit, many were awakened from the death of sin, and a considerable number were made “new creatures in Christ Jesus.” The whole aspect of the village was changed. The fruits of holiness abounded to the glory of God. The labors of his young servant were also remembered with ardent gratitude, and even to this day, individuals are found in that village, who testify to his great love to them for Jesus' sake.
Many readers of these pages will be filled with admiration, we doubt not, at the extraordinary activity which he manifested, from the first, in the service of his divine Master. “He could not but speak the things which he had seen and heard. The whole current of his soul was turned into one channel—the conversion of all mankind to Christ. For twenty years he pursued this object with undeviating purpose. The vacations, which other students spent in amusement, or in simple relaxation from study, were to him harvest seasons, in which souls were gathered for Christ. In one of the vacations from his theological studies, he succeeded in forming a temperance society, substantially on the principle, and with the formal pledge, of entire abstinence from the use of ardent spirits. This was as early as 1814–15, a period when the deluge of intemperance was at its height, and when the friends of good order were trying to arrest its ravages by inducing men to report every year how much ardent spirits had been consumed in their families ! The association, which Mr. Cornelius was instrumental in forming, was highly useful. During another of these vacations, he surveyed the whole country between the Hudson river and the State of Connecticut, for the purpose of ascertaining its moral condition. At a later day, and near the time of the formation of the American Bible Society, he succeeded in establishing, amidst much obloquy and opposition, an auxiliary association in Putnam county, New York. The results of one of his visits at the period now referred to, are here given.
“Somers, N. Y., Oct. 20, 1815. “I remained in New York about eight days, and recovered so fast, that during the last half of the time, I was able to visit, attend prayer-meetings, and other duties. Immediately after the great storm abated, the wind became fair, and my mother, myself, and two young ladies, our friends belonging to the city, sailed up the river to Peekskill, where my father was waiting for us; we rode home, arrived safely, and found all well. I ascertained that there were some favorable appearances of a revival of religion among the people, though nothing very extraordinary. Two or three persons had lately become hopeful Christians. But I was sorry to find that not a single prayer-meeting was held within the bounds of the society. I immediately consulted our minister, and several appointments for meetings were made in different parts of the congregation, which are continued regularly. These meetings are remarkably well attended, being literally crowded. Since they have been held, God has, we trust, been pleased to give us encouraging tokens of a revival of religion. The attention is most evident in my father's neighborhood. We had at my father's house, last Tuesday evening, a meeting for those who had lately become thoughtful, and though it was a stormy evening, and all who were disposed, could not and did not attend, yet we had as many as twelve or thirteen persons of this character. There are some interesting cases. Most of those who are awakened are youth and children; many of them my own catechumens. One old man, belonging to the most vicious part of our society, was thoroughly awakened, two weeks ago, at a special meeting held to pray for a revival of religion at which he was present. He could neither sleep, nor take rest in any way; he came three miles on purpose to talk with me on the great concerns of his soul, but I was absent. My father told me he was the most distressed man he ever beheld.
“Here, as in other places, some of the most discouraging things to be met with, are from professing Christians, and those of influence. But there is now certainly more of a spirit of prayer among them than I ever witnessed before. Some are longing for a revival of religion with tears in their eyes. A means which has been most blessed among us, is that of ministerial visits to families. Mr. B. our minister, and myself, spent the first three days of this week in making such visits, in which time we called upon thirty-eight families, and held two meetings for prayer and exhortation. His plan is to call the whole family together, and enter into personal conversation with each one. He is very plain, and spares no pains to convince them of their need of salvation. The whole is concluded with prayer. Every house and family, let them be who they will, are thus visited. In one neighborhood we found many very thoughtful. I wish that this mode was more generally adopted.”
In the autumn of 1815, Mr. Cornelius closed his connection with the theological class in Yale college, and soon after repaired to Litchfield, Connecticut, to avail himself of the instructions of the Rev. Dr. Beecher. He had completed a course of reading in sacred and profane history, had studied somewhat at large the system of divinity which his venerated instructor, Dr. Dwight, had prepared, and had attended in a measure to the composition of sermons. To practical and pastoral duties he had given considerable attention. For the performance of such labors, his personal appearance and habits were a remarkable qualification. To the same course the feelings of his heart strongly inclined him. It had been at one time his fixed determination to join either the Andover or Princeton theological seminaries, and pursue a regular three years' course of ministerial education. But ill health and other circumstances prevented him. Soon after reaching Litchfield, he thus wrote to an old friend, who was then making preparation for a visit to Charles, town, Massachusetts,