OCCASIONED BY THE
JONATHAN TRUMBULL, ESQ.
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT;
AND DELIVERED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
IN THE BRICK CHURCH IN NEW-HAVEN.
BY TIMOTHY DWIGHT, D. D.
PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.
PUBLISHED BY THE REQUEST OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
PRINTED AND SOLD BY OLIVER STEELE AND CO.
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Page numbers in the original publication are shown in brackets as such: [ 3 ]
The following begins the original text:
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF
PSALM xxxvii. 37.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright :for the
End of that man is peace. *
THE perfect man, in scriptural language, is the same person with the upright. Perfection, in the absolute sense, it is hardly necessary to observe, is never found in the present world. Every object, both in the natural and moral kingdom, is here stamped with mutability, decay and dissolution. In every thing earthly, there is much, that is of too little value in the sight of God to deserve a lasting existence. The world itself, as well as its furniture, and inhabitants, is destined to a speedy termination, and will soon be blotted out of being. A great part of all that, which forms the complicated
* This discourse was far advanced before the Writer was informed, that the Rev. Mr. Ely had chosen the same Text for his Sermon, delivered at the Funeral of Governor Trumbull.
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idea of Man, will follow the general destiny. Even the mind, if renewed here, will, like the body, which it inhabited, enter the world of life, shorne of many attributes, which have hitherto formed much of its character.
But, although no child of Adam is perfect on this side of the grave, there are many, who are in some degree, possessed of those characteristics, which, when unmixed and unalloyed, constitute perfection. All these are, on this account, styled in the Scriptures perfect. This name seems also, to be sometimes given to those of them especially, who sustain the character, referred to, in superiour degrees. In this manner we may, without violence, construe the language of the text.
The man of this character the Psalmist directs us to mark; that is, to observe with attention and care; as an object, which claims our solemn regard, and which to us may become particularly useful. In the view of this divine writer; in the view, let me add, of the Great Being, under whose inspiration he wrote this passage; there is something in the character and conduct of such men, which, when duly regarded by us, will naturally be productive of real and important good.
All upright men are not, however, equally interesting, nor equally profitable, objects of this attention. Nor can all men derive equal instruction, or equal benefit of any kind, from the contemplation of the same upright man. Good men, however good, when possessing humble faculties, filling very limited spheres of life, and acting in retired and obscure stations, furnish, usually, fewer lessons of instruction, and present fewer motives to excellence, than those, who, with more enlarged minds, are placed by their Maker in more elevated stations. Still every such man is, to those who mark his life, a profitable source of improvement; really to all who
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observe him ; peculiarly to those who resemble him in character and station. As moral beings, all men are substantially on a level and the most enlightened, refined, and dignified, may learn wisdom and excellence from the humblest votary of righteousness and truth. He, who fails of becoming wiser and better by reading the story of the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, may rest satisfied, that he fails, because he loves neither wisdom nor virtue.
But the history of Abraham, Moses, David, or Paul, is, nevertheless, instructive in a still higher degree. The Cottager, who cannot even read, may be a source of improvement to his fellow cottager in almost everything which can be useful to him; but will not very naturally, nor very often, become an object of the notice, or even of the knowledge, of persons in the higher walks of life. Nor would his worth, when observed and acknowledged, usually come home to the hearts of such persons with all the commendations, and enforcements, of which virtue is capable. But, when this glorious excellence finds a seat in minds of a superiour structure, and is raised to distinction of place and influence, it becomes visible to the surrounding world; attracts the attention of multitudes; appears in numerous instructive and persuasive forms; and is arrayed in a delightful and most engaging splendour. In this situation, all men behold, and mark, the perfect man with the highest advantage.
The reason, given in the text for obedience to the injunction, which it contains, is eminently impressive:
"For the end of that man is peace." This declaration is capable of two meanings; both just, and highly important. One of them is, that the death of such a man is peaceful; as being undisturbed by apprehensions of future evil, cheered by the approbation of a good
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conscience, serened by the hope of acceptance beyond the grave, and illumined by the Faith, which, to him becomes the evidence, and the substance, of eternal glory.
The other is, that the future being of the perfect man, is, of course, prosperous, and delightful. The object, indicated in the former case, is deeply interesting; in the latter, of infinite moment. Who can be indifferent to the gloom, the pains, the terrors, of death? Who must not think a deliverance from these evils, and the possession of the enjoyments contrasted to them, a desirable, a divine, consummation of our probationary state?
Who would not toil and struggle through life, and exult at death, with the assured prospect of finding, in the approaching world, a destiny, formed only of virtue, happiness, and honour. How accordant with the design of the Scriptures, how suited to the character of their Author, is a precept, which directs us to the contemplation of so instructive, an object, for the attainment of a good so divine?
Rarely has it happened, that mankind have been called upon to contemplate an example of the character and conduct referred to in the text, by which more, or more profitable, sources of instruction have been furnished, than by the excellent Magistrate, whose death has created so general a mourning throughout this state. Summoned by a call, invested with the highest human authority, to the employment of exhibiting a respectful view of his character on this occasion, I have felt myself bound to make the attempt. It will be attended with many imperfections: still it is hoped, that it may, in some degree, be useful to those who hear me.
GOVERNOR TRUMBULL was the son of a man, who by the public acknowledgment was one of the most
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dignified and useful, one of the wisest and best, Rulers whose names adorn the pages of History. In the steps of this honourable Parent, the Son trode, through life, with an undeviating course. Soon after he had finished his education, he began to serve his Country ; first in the Legislature, and then in the Revolutionary army. Here, in respectable stations, he continued, with a short interruption, through the war. Soon after the establishment of peace, he was chosen again into the Legislature, of which he was regularly a member until the present American Constitution was adopted. He then was elected a Representative,, and soon after a Senator, of the United States. From the last station he was removed to the second, and then to the first, Chair of Magistracy in his native State. To the Latter he was annually elected by his fellow citizens, until he was removed by death. In all those situations, he acquired, uniformly, the approbation and respect of those with whom, and of those for whom, he acted. Not a spot is left upon his memory; distracted as was the season of his public life, and difficult as was the task of satisfying the demands of those whom he served. Such a career, only honourable to himself, and only useful to his Country, is a proof of his worth, which can never be assailed by hostility, questioned by criticism, nor impaired by time. Experience has assayed the ore, and proved it to be pure gold. On it his Country has authoritatively stamped the image, and inscribed the testimony, of her own approbation; and has thus given to it an undisputed currency through the world.
It is impossible to contemplate with sobriety and discretion the life of such a man, in such circumstances, without profit. Men in all stations may learn from it the most useful lessons. The citizen may gain the wisdom
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and worth, which will happily form his personal character, and direct his private concerns. The Statesman, in addition to these interesting attainments, may learn from him how to conduct with skill, success, and honour, the concerns of his Country.
Every wise and good man necessarily involves many excellencies in his character. Of these some are, of course, common to other men of this character; and some are, comparatively, of inferiour importance. An observer of life, who would derive from this source the most profitable instruction, will naturally rest his eye on those traits, which are peculiar to the object of his contemplation; and on those, which by their importance, are especially fitted to engross attention. In the present case, what would usually flow from choice, becomes the result of necessity. Were the preacher to descant, particularly, on the various and complicated excellence of his theme ; an extent of time must be allowed him, which would be wholly inconsistent with the demands of the present occasion. The personal and domestic virtues of Governor Trumbull might easily he insisted on with pleasure, and profit, through a volume. Who, unless peculiarly dull, or unhappily reluctant, might not learn from him amiableness of character, and exemplariness of life? By his side, whose integrity would not be strengthened; whose disposition would not be rendered more sweet and lovely; whose sentiments would not be refined; whose manners would not be polished; whose discretion would not be improved; whose life would not be adorned with increasing propriety, and superiour worth? Who, in a word, would not become a better father, a better husband, a better neighbour, a better friend, a better man?.
On these subjects however, interesting as they are, I cannot dwell. Adhering to the rule mentioned above, I shall take the liberty to select for your contemplation the following subjects; which, if I mistake not, were prominent features in the character of this great and good man.
I. The Energy of his mind was supremely directed to practical objects.
To the human mind there are three scenes of employment, in which, at times, it has acquired the distinction, customarily termed greatness: the field of fancy; the field of speculation; and the field of action. The first is peculiarly the province of the Sculptor, the Painter, and the Poet. The Philosopher occupies the second; and the Orator claims them both. The third is peculiarly the scene of effort to the Hero, the Statesman, and the Patriot. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that these remarks are made in a comparative sense only; or that, in greater or less degrees, fancy, reason, and action, are common to all men.
The end of all thought is action: and the whole value of thought consists in this; that it is the proper, and the only, means of accomplishing this end. He therefore, who is employed in acting virtuously, and usefully, fills a nobler sphere of being, than he, who is busied in that course of thinking, from which the action is derived. The proof of this assertion is complete, in the maxim, that the end is always of more importance than the means.
It is a remarkable characteristic of human nature, that few speculative men become eminently useful in the active spheres of life. Habits of speculation, long continued, and extended far, render the mind unfit for those vigorous efforts of activity, by which alone the practical
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concerns of mankind are prosperously managed. Speculative men, also, occupy most of their time, and thoughts, in devising, and establishing, general principles. Active men are chiefly employed in those details of business, which are indispensable to its success, and without which general principles are matters of mere amusement. Of these details almost all speculative men are impatient. Such men at the same time interweave, of course, their own theoretical views in every scheme of business, with which they are concerned. The energy of their minds is also employed, and exhausted, on their speculations: while the active business,, to which they are destined, and ought to be devoted, engages only their feebler efforts: the dregs, the settlings, of their thoughts. From these causes, and others connected with them, it arises, that a theoretical man is always a bad Ruler. To such men, however, there is often attached no small splendour of reputation. Whenever this is the fact, and they are raised to important offices of government, they regularly disappoint, and mortify, their admirers. Their official life is unproductive, inefficacious, and, with regard to the business which they are expected to do, lazy. Their views are visionary, and their designs, however well intended, totally unsuited to the objects, at which they professedly aim. Men they regard, not as they are, but as their imagination has fashioned them; and the world, not as we actually find it, but as it is viewed by an excursive fancy. Hence their plans,. instead of being fitted to promote the real welfare of man, are only a collection of waking dreams; a course of political Quixotism; regulating the affairs of a state in much the same manner, as the adventures of Amadis de Gaul would regulate those of a private individual.
The excellent person, whom we are contemplating, was a direct contrast to all this. Devoted to active
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employments from the beginning, accustomed to the various business of man, and sharpened in his discernment of practical subjects by the actual management of them, and by a long continued intercourse with those who were skilled in that management, he was habitually trained to that patient attention, that critical observation, and that skilful conduct, which are so useful, and so indispensable, in all business of real importance. By observing, watchfully, every thing which was useful, and every thing which was noxious, in public affairs; the measures which ensured, and the measures which failed of, success; he learned, in an unusual degree, the manner, in which success is obtained. Of this position his political life furnishes the most decisive proof. Not a single visionary measure, not a capricious expedient, not a fetch, not a whim, disfigures his public character, or presents a subject for a single disgraceful sentence in his political history. The story is all of one sort; and is told in one style. When he entered upon his public life, he struck a key; and moved in exact harmony with it to the end.
As his character was thus wise, and uniform; so it was eminently honourable. To the subjects, which have been mentioned, he gave the whole vigour of his mind. He was engrossed by them, as a Poet by the theme of his song; or the man of taste by the improvement of his villa. In all the successive spheres which he filled, his life, and his measures, were eminently useful; and deserved, and gained, the approbation of his own mind, and that of his country.
II. He was not less remarkable for his Prudence.
This attribute of the human mind is chiefly employed in preventing evil. In a world, where evil is so rife; and
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so ready to mingle with all our concerns, the necessity of this characteristic is absolute, and its value inestimable. Rash, headlong men, and the admirers of such men, have, indeed, very generally disesteemed it, because all its dictates condemn their folly, and the mis-chiefs, to which it continually gives birth. But the Wisest of mankind wrote the book of Proverbs, to give to the young man knowledge and discretion; and the SON of GOD has said, "I Wisdom dwell with Prudence." Perfectly accordant with these declarations is the exhibition, made of this subject by Experience. The mischiefs, done to every human interest through the want of prudence, are endless in their multitude, and incalculable in their importance. A single imprudent act has often destroyed a reputation, built up by the honourable labours of many years; a family, firmly established in prosperity; an army, apparently invincible, in the full career of victory ;- and a country, safe, to the human eye, from every enemy, and every danger.
Talents, energy, and effort, are, under God, the acknowledged means of procuring blessings. But of what value are blessings, which exist, only to vanish; and are gained only to be lost: a cup of Tantalus, receding from the hand, just ready to grasp it: a bubble, bursting at the moment, when it has begun to fascinate the eye with its enchanting colours? But Prudence is the only human means of securing the blessings which we acquire.: the Dragon, watching the garden of the Hesperides, and alone preserving its golden fruit from accident, fraud, and rapine. As much more valuable, as the secure possession of enjoyments is, than the mere acquisition, so much more estimable is this single virtue, than all those splendid attributes, and achievements, which awaken silly pride, and excite stupid admiration.
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The prudence of the man, whom we this day lament, bordered upon perfection. With his life, conversation, and views, and with many of those who best knew him, I have been long and intimately acquainted, yet I know not, that I ever heard him utter an imprudent word; nor that an imprudent act is recorded in his history. No such act has appeared in his public life : nor has any such act in his private life been communicated to the world. Those who come after him, will find nothing in his administration to censure, lament, or repair. Yet the season of that administration was one of the most difficult which this country ever knew; one of the most perplexing both to wisdom and virtue: a season, in which imprudence would have done more harm, than, perhaps, at any other period in the history of this State; and in which prudence has probably done more good.
To his possession of this attribute, in so high a degree, the Moderation, for which he was so remarkable, eminently contributed. Men are immoderate both in their Imagination and their feelings. In the former case we style them romantic; in the latter, ardent and sanguine. Men of the former class are visionary; of the latter, rash. At the schemes of the former class we smile: at the measures of the latter, when concerned with our serious interests, we tremble. All prudent men are found among the moderate. An immoderate man is constitutionally, and preeminently, imprudent.
For moderation, in both these respects, Governor Trumbull was highly distinguished. His imagination, although a fruitful source of pleasure, in private conversation, to those around him, was never suffered to mingle with his practical concerns, nor to intrude upon his serious pursuits. To sanguine expectations, ardent projects, and rash measures, he seems to have been constitutionally a
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stranger. Contented to view men, and measures, as they were, his mind annexed to them nothing adventitious; neither light nor shade; neither beauty nor deformity. He chose to see every thing in its native colours; and in this manner saw it with a truth and correctness, which no Sanguine man ever attained. To this mode of contemplating every subject all his plans, and measures, were conformed. They were, therefore, universally the plans, and measures, of sound, unbiassed common sense; and never the dreams of fancy, nor the headlong projects of inconsiderate ardour.
A remarkable proof of this trait in his character is found in the fact, that he rarely made use of a superlative; i. e. for the purpose of exaggeration. Words of this class are the favourite language of men, who are strongly influenced by imagination, or under the control of ardent feelings; men, who, as every one knows, are not unfrequently of a vibrating, variable character. His calm, unchanging mind found a peculiar satisfaction in describing, asserting, and, universally, in unfolding his views of objects, as they appeared to the intellect, and in conformity to naked truth. Men, in whom this characteristic is found, usually posses moderation, and stability also, in a peculiar degree, and peculiarly engage the confidence of their fellow men.
The benefits of this mode of thinking are both numerous and important. The measures, to which it gives birth, are, more than any other, suited to the real state of things; and are therefore easily and advantageously executed. They are attended with the least anxiety concerning their success; and most rarely create pain and disappointment by their failure. They ensure the reputation of wisdom to their author; and most
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effectually preserve the confidence, as well as the interests, of those, by whom he is employed.
Another characteristical part of his prudence was a disposition to ask the advice of others. We are- taught by the voice of Infinite Wisdom, that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. To this truth the temper of his mind was peculiarly congenial. Eminently independent, he was at the same time far removed from self-dependence. As he had no points to carry, and no favourites to advance; as the public good was his real and only object; it was to him of no consequence, by whom useful measures were originated, provided they were actually originated; nor to whom the reputation of doing good was due, provided the good was really done. Hence he was ever ready to ask, and to respect, the opinions of discreet men. In this way he obtained, continually, the best views, which could be furnished, concerning important subjects; and was prepared to act in the most safe and salutary manner. Of this conduct, so accordant with his own disposition, he had an illustrious example in his great Master, the immortal Washington; to whose prudence the American States are scarcely less indebted for their happiness, than to his arms.
III. Our late excellent Chief Magistrate was no less distinguished for Firmness of mind.
It is not strange, that a person, whose sentiments, manners, and conduct, wore so uniform an aspect of softness and gentleness; who so readily yielded both his gratifications, and his labours, to the convenience of those around him; and who in private life seemed hardly to discover, that he had any inclinations of his own; should be thought to possess a yielding, gentle character
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only. Such an opinion, I am persuaded, was extensively spread among his countrymen in this, and in other parts of the Union. But no opinion was ever more erroneous. It is questionable whether there is a firmer and more independent man living. Every approaching storm he contemplated with composure:. every shock, however rude, he sustained with immoveable steadiness of mind. That cheerful serenity of countenance, which most of those, who hear me, remember so distinctly, and, as I persuade myself, with peculiar pleasure, never forsook him in the most threatening seasons. Troubles, instead of moving him, seemed only to give him an opportunity of shewing the stability of his character.
On the importance, dignity, and usefulness, of an attribute, so highly respected by all men, as firmness of mind has ever been; especially in a Ruler; it is unnecessary to insist. A mere glance at the mischiefs, effectuated by the contrary character, will sufficiently elucidate this subject to the satisfaction of the most sceptical inquirer. Let him, who is at a loss concerning the subject, cast his eye upon the transactions of Europe; and observe both the republics, and the monarchies, of that Continent, ruined by the timid counsels and wavering measures, by the indecision and inefficiency, of their irresolute Rulers, vibrating between hope and fear, between resistance and submission; and he will ask for no further illustration.
IV. He was in an eminent degree attached to the Manners, and Institutions, of his native State.
The literary world has been filled with discourses concerning Republics, and their various
appendages. In other countries, as well as in this, the press has been
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loaded with observations concerning Republican forms of government, Republican rights, Republican, institutions, Republican virtues, and Republican manners. Either these subjects are very imperfectly understood; or multitudes of those, who converse, and write, about them, can hardly be acquitted of sinister designs. Their practice and their declarations certainly have, in many instances, very little accordance. The State of Connecticut is more absolutely republican, than any other, which for a long period has existed in the world. Its constitution of government was originally formed, and established, by the freemen in person. Its laws; its institutions, which are the result of its laws; its manners, which are the effect of both; its virtues; and, I might add, its vices to a great extent, also; together with its rights, duties, and interests, are all entirely Republican. A man as such, is, in this state, possessed of more real consequence, than in any other. More than half, believe not far from three fourths, of its freemen hold, at some period of life, offices either civil or military; and thus actually share in the government of the state. The state is divided, successively, into counties, towns, parishes, and school districts: all of them bodies, holding, in subordination to the legislature, the powers of government over their local affairs; and thus superintending with peculiar felicity every interest, public and private, of every individual. Here, also, no man, as such, has any other power, beside his mere, bodily strength. All power exists in the law: and this is powerful without any assignable limit. But the real power of law itself lies in the fact, that it is actually, and not in pretence only, the public will. Men, here; have generally sufficient intelligence to discern, that Government is essential to
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their happiness; and to perceive that their own government is peculiarly auspicious to this desirable object.. Hence they feel a real approbation in this case ; and exercise a real choice; facts scarcely predicable of the great body of the inhabitants, in most other countries. In this lies the chief strength of our political system.
For this System, and all its parts,. and consequences,. the people of this state, are, under God, indebted to education, and habit. It could not be established, nor, if established, could it be supported, in any other country on the globe; not, I apprehend, even in its sister country, Massachusetts. It could not have come into existence, even in Connecticut, among any other set of men, except those, or such as those, who gave it birth;; for among them, in any circumstances of a different nature. It could not be maintained by any people, except their descendants.
At the same time, it is, at least in my own view, the best government, which has hitherto existed. I do not intend, nor am I so ignorant as to believe, that any form of Government is good in the abstract; or good; for every people; but I intend, that under this government the inhabitants are, and even have been, more free and happy,. than any other people ever were, since the beginning of time. and that their government is, at once, suited to their character, and the means of their happiness. It has, indeed, lost something, in modern times, of its former excellence but it still retains more that is valuable, than can be found elsewhere; and more, than, if once lost, will ever be regained.
As these mighty advantages have been preserved, hitherto, by the power of habit; and as habit depends for all its power on custom, and continual repetition; it
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is evident, beyond a question, that he, who loves this state ; or who, in other words, is a Connecticut Patriot.; will equally love its laws, institutions, and manners. Such a patriot was the late Governor Trumbull. It was from these views, that he set that high price on the "steady habits" of this State" ; for which he has been sometimes censured by persons, who, probably, had little considered the subject: while he has been applauded for it by others, as being a sentiment equally honourable to his patriotism and his wisdom.
Permit me, on this occasion, to say, that this is an attachment, in which every citizen of this state ought ever, to follow this bright example , an attachment, which every Citizen ought invariably to feel, and ardently to cherish: an attachment, which every citizen will feel, who clearly understands, and faithfully regards, the wellbeing of himself, his family, or his country.
Permit me further to say, that, should the Ruler of the Universe, provoked by our manifold sins, suffer our ignorance, our folly, our crimes., or the hand of a foreign enemy, to destroy this singular system, the brightest spot, which, since the apostasy, has been found on this globe, would be shrouded in darkness, without a promise of returning day.
V. This great and good Man was peculiarly attached to the Religious System of our Ancestors.
The religious doctrines, which the planters of New-England, particularly of the Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut Colonists, brought with them to this Continent, have not unfrequently been styled the Doctrines of Grace, and the Doctrines of the Reform aLion~
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That they are, substantially, the genuine doctrines of the Gospel, is satisfactorily evinced by two very interesting considerations. The first of these is, that they have been the doctrines of those, who in every age have claimed the character of Orthodox; and who by their adversaries have been acknowledged to possess it in the public estimation. By this I intend, that, from the age of the Apostles, they were those, in whom the Apostolic Church was regularly continued from period to period; so as to be, in each period, the same body with that, whose early history is contained in the acts of the Apostles; with that, to which the several Apostolic Epistles were addressed. Let me add; they were those, in whom almost, if not absolutely, alone the christian character has appeared with uniformity, and lustre. That this body of men has judged justly concerning the doctrines of the Gospel, and received them, at least in substance, as they are there revealed, cannot, I think, be questioned even with plausibility, or decency. That they have mistaken them, regularly, through such a succession of ages, and yet brought forth their proper fruits in an evangelical life, is to me incredible. The fact would certainly establish this remarkable conclusion; that error has been productive of incomparably more piety and virtue in the world, than the truth of God.
The second proof of this assertion is, what has indeed been hinted already, that these doctrines have effectuated, among those who have embraced them, almost all the moral excellence, which has appeared in the Christian world. If we may be allowed to understand the Apostles in the plain meaning of their declarations, these doctrines produced the mighty change which took place, among Jews and Gentiles, in the first and second centuries.
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In the same manner they renewed a great part of the Christian world in what is emphatically called the Reformation. To them, so far as my information extends, every Revival of Religion owes its existence. From them, and those who received them, nearly every attempt to reform, and christianize mankind, to publish the Gospel in their various languages, and to gather them into the fold of the Chief Shepherd, has obviously sprung. In them, let me add, the creeds and confessions of all the Reformed churches harmonize, without an exception of any serious moment.
Had we no other proof of the excellence of these doctrines, beside their happy influence in the colonization of New-England, and the beneficial character, which they have been the means of instamping on our laws, institutions, and manners ; even these would furnish a strong presumption in their favour. It will be remembered, that I have mentioned these objects as forming a combination, in my own view singular, as well as eminently happy. Such colonies never existed since the world began. No others were ever formed in such a manner, or by such bodies of men. No others have permanently produced such consequences, or given birth to such a state of society.
That this wise and excellent man should have received doctrines, so sanctioned, so beneficent to the interests of mankind; that he should have regarded them with a reverence, and submission, due to the revealed will of God; and that he should have adhered to them with a firmness, which, though calm, gentle, and catholic, was at the same time immovable; was to be expected by all, who were acquainted with his real character. He regarded them as the glory of his country, the glory of the
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Church, the glory of the Gospel, and, in this world, the peculiar glory of its Author. He loved all, who loved them: he honoured all, by whom they were honoured and defended.
VI. The Piety of this excellent Man was, at least, an equal1y distinguished trait in his character.
There are certain attributes, which mankind have agreed to admire, and applaud. This admiration, and this applause, have chiefly followed extraordinary talents, and extraordinary actions. Goodness has, I acknowledge, had, at times, and in particular circles of mankind, its friends, and panegyrists. But Greatness has almost alone fascinated the human eye, and engrossed human praise: Greatness, not accompanied by virtuous designs, nor directed to useful ends; but employed in promoting censurable purposes, and leaving behind it no traces, except those of corruption, suffering, and sorrow. But this is not the noblest attribute, these are not the most honorable efforts, of an immortal mind. There is a character, superior in its nature, and more deserving of commendation. There is a character which -commends itself to the unbiassed dictates of Reason; which, wherever it appears, awakens the smile of conscience; and which diffuses a cheering, glowing satisfaction through the heart. There is a character, which claims respect in the heavens; and calls forth the accents of commendation in the regions of immortality; a character, on which the firstborn love to dwell; which Seraphs acknowledge as the counterpart of their own excellence; and which the UNCREATED MIND beholds with complacency, immutable and eternal. This character, imperfect indeed, but real, is sometimes assumed by man; even in this world of debasement and sin. It is the holiness, the virtue, of the Gospel; the love of God, the love of man, accompanied, because those who assume it are originally sinners, by Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. This character is the light of minds; varying, without decay, through all the colours of beauty and glory. It is gold seven times purified, instamped with the image of Jehovah, and burnished with increasing splendour throughout the ages of eternal being.
This character is most usually found in the vale of humble life; and less frequently, than a benevolent mind could wish, in the superiour walks of man. In the present case, however, it has adorned the chair of state. The illustrious Subject of this discourse was not only a great, but, so far as this character can be proved to the human eye, a good man great and good in the sight of the HIGHEST. The piety and benevolence, the repentance and faith, Of the Gospel shone, with uncommon beauty, in the uniform, evangelical tenor of his life; lighted up the daily smile of serenity in his aspect; diffused a christian moderation Over his affections and conduct; exhibited itself as pure, peaceable, gentle, easily-entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy; enabled him to sustain, immovably, the burdens which he was called to bear, and to meet with a steady eye every approaching danger; and finally enabled him, serenely, to encounter the last enemy, and to triumph in the conflict with death and the grave.
" The end of the perfect and upright man," says the Psalmist, "is Peace." Of this truth a more illustrious exemplification has, perhaps, rarely been given since
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the days of inspiration were ended, than this excellent Person exhibited on his dying bed. The disease, to which he ultimately became a victim, was protracted to a considerable length; and was of such a nature, as to assure him, that its termination must be death. The approach of this enemy was, therefore, seen by him at a distance; and was seen to be certain, and regular in its advances. In the fullest exercise of his reason, he contemplated the awful object, as it must ever be contemplated by a wise man, with deep and solemn, but at the same time with remarkably serene and undisturbed, thought. He, who had raised him up for his service, and made him his own by the blood of the cross, and the SPIRIT of sanctification, forsook him not at this momentous period. Every day of his sickness, almost, brought with it its share of pain and suffering; and that, frequently intense, and sometimes extreme. Yet no day heard him utter a single murmur; or saw the tenor of his mind disturbed for a moment. His happy uniformity of character accompanied him to the last; except that he shone with clearer splendour, as he approached the evening of his life. Death, long and often realized, seemed familiar to him; and was robbed of its sting, and stripped of its terrors. Humble, but peaceful; submissive, but collected ; supported by an invisible hand; and trusting for salvation in a righteousness, not his own; he replied to an intimate friend, who suggested to him the reason for consolation and hope, furnished by the tenor of his life, " 0 Sir, I place no reliance there. If I have been enabled to do my duty, I was raised up for that purpose; and it is no ground of merit in me. But I have the fullest confidence in the satisfaction, which has been made. There I have always placed my hopes.
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It is that alone, which can render me secure. It is ample; it is full; and as free as full." From this source he derived his enviable composure; here he found the peace, which passeth all understanding.
His views of the future world were strong, bright and exulting; and he earnestly, but with the most patient submission, wished for the hour, which might terminate his residence in this. The scenes before him, he considered with intense emotions, as wonderful and glorious; and expressed his views concerning them in a manner. deeply affecting. Still, he was duly mindful of the objects which-he was about to leave behind him.*
To his family, severally, he gave his blessing with peculiar tenderness, and a solemnity, resembling that, which is found in the history of the Patriarch. "My dear children," said he, to this beloved circle, "if you have seen any thing in my life, wherein I have followed Christ, be ye followers of my example."
I have mentioned this excellent man as a Patriot. Well aware am I, that on this subject proof is superfluous. Still I cannot forbear rehearsing one of his dying supplications, in which this character was very honourably, as well as very affectingly, exhibited. Clasping his hands, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he cried
* It deserves to be remembered, that Governor Trumbull, amid the severe sufferings of his last sickness, mentioned, several times, with deep concern the melancholy and miserable death, which closed the miserable life of Thomas Paine; and ardently wished to find in some of his last expressions a hope of his acceptance beyond the grave. The reader cannot fail to perceive, in this fact, a strong resemblance to the spirit of Stephen, praying for his murderers; and to the spirit with which the Redeemer said, " Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
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with great fervour, "I beseech Almighty God to bless our dear Country; and to give the people Wisdom to choose the things that are for their peace. I implore the divine blessing upon this State;" a prayer, to which; it is hoped, every heart in this house will subjoin Amen.
Such, my Brethren, was the character of the mans whose death we this day so justly lament. How desirable was his Life! How distinguished even from that of most other excellent men. As a child of Adam, we cannot doubt, that he had many imperfections: but; as he appeared to the eyes of mankind, his character is unsullied with a spot in his private, and in his public life, he has left nothing in his history, which can occasion pain to his family, a blush to his friends, or regret to his country. Fair at first, it became regularly more and more fair unto the end.
How enviable was his death! Who, with such a confidence in the Redeemer, such a rational hope of forgiveness and, acceptance with God, such a delightful testimony of a good conscience, that he had lived to the glory of his Maker, and the good of his fellow men, would be unwilling to bid adieu to this sinful, suffering world? He died on the borders of three score years and ten. He died in the possession of all his usefulness. He died full of peace, and full of hope; with triumphant faith and evangelical exultation.
How copious and affecting a source of instruction is here presented to our view! How gracefully, and how honourably, did he adorn those relations, out of which grow domestic endearment, and domestic happiness! What a blessing to his own amiable family ! How persuasive and instructor! How edifying an example! How delightful, as well as how mournful, an object of their remembrance! How rich a blessing to his Country!
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How affecting a contrast to most of those, who have ruled mankind! The great body of these men have lived, only to gratify themselves, and to distress their fellow men. Their character has been merely that of wild beasts, prowling for prey. Intrigue, falsehood, fraud, and violence, have debased their administration; and pollution of every kind deformed their private life. Their career has been preceded by alarm and terror; announced by groans, and sighs, and tears; saddened by plunder and beggary; and shrouded by devastation and ruin. It has been crimsoned with blood; it has smoked with slaughter; it has been awfully illumined by the light of conflagration. Their death has been hailed as an aera of returning hope to mankind: and their departing spirits have been followed into the regions of invisible being by the united curses of a suffering world.
The path of this illustrious Man has, on the contrary, been a mere and delightful course of, benevolence and piety; a shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day. Respect and love pursued his progress; joy brightened before him; and sorrow at his approach wiped her tears, and resumed her melancholy countenance, with returning smiles. His mourning Country followed his bier;. Affection and reverence surrounded his interment, and shed their tears on his grave. Hope with an animated aspect, and a kindling eye, pursued his flight into eternity; and with unutterable emotions beheld him enter the gates of immortality.
From this illustrious example what Ruler, what Christian, what Man, may not learn wisdom and worth? Were every Ruler to resemble him; the page of history would no longer be written in blood; nor the progress of time spread with sackcloth. His administration would every where diffuse joy; his example every where awaken, extend, and adorn; the religion, sent down from heaven. Were every Christian like him; Christianity would cease to be the object of contempt and obloquy; and compel by its native loveliness the veneration, and applause, even of its enemies. Were every Man to exhibit the same character; the world would cease to wear any longer its gross and gloomy aspect, be shorne of its thorns and briers, and assume once more the bloom, the fragrance, and the beauty, which once adorned the garden of God.
My Brethren, you have heard this imperfect exhibition of the character, so beautifully displayed by the Man, whose death has convened this assembly. The essential excellencies of this character may be transplanted into the life of every person present. The true use, to be made of this recital, is perfectly conveyed in our SAVIOURíS application of the parable of the good Samaritan, - "Go ye, and do likewise."