Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


JUNE, 1806.



. [Concluded from our last.] We have brought our account of this Divine to the period of his ministerial call, in his own words ; but we shall be compelled to narrate the remainder of his history in a more abridged form.

After he had preached a few times in bis native place, and its yicinity, he returned to pursue his studies, under the great Jonathan Edwards, at Northampton, preaching sometimes in his pulpit, ami supplying occasionally for others.' In 1742 he was invited to Symsbury, in Connecticut; but the approbation of this congregation not being unanimous, he returned again for a short time to Mr. Edwards. In the following summer he was invited to Housatonock (since Great Barrington) about sixty miles distance, where he was ordained in the end of the year 1743; and continued with that church five-and-twenty years. During this time he had married, and his family had encreased to eight children; but he met with little apparent success in his ministry. Many of the people grew cold and indifferent, and refused to continue their support; and he was unable to main. tain himself without a closer attention to secular concerns than he judged to be his duty. A council of neighbouring ministers was therefore called, which recommended his removal.

Soon after Mr. Edwards's removal from Northampton, 1750, he went to Stockbridge, where he continuci six ycars; then he was chosen President of Princetown College, and soon after died, leaving his MS. under the care of Mr. Hopkins and two other ministers. These he read with great avidity, rising great part of the time at four o'clock in the morning to pursue his studies. He also wrote a life of Mr. Edwards, which he prefixed to a select volume of his sermons. During his continuance at Great Barrington, Mr. Hopkins speaks of great exercises of miad, in the view of his own depravity, and many doubts as to his state before God: yet he was supported by views of divine truth; was, at times; raised above all doubt; and was indulgel with

high enjoyments in religion. These experiences were the ground of his preaching; and generally led him to the subjects of his discourses. A few persons were, as he expresses it,“ hopefully converted," and some serious Christians entered into his views of divine truth; but others opposed, and their opposition led him to review and to defend his principles, whereby he was more established in them.

At his removal from Great Barrington, he thought it hardly probable that he should again settle in the ministry. Upon paying a visit, however, to some friends at Boston, he received an invitation to Topsham, about 150 miles east of Boston ; but not fixing there, accepted a second invitation to the first congregational church in Newport, Rhode Island, where, after some opposition, he received a call, almost unanimous, in 1770, which he accepted without any specific stipend; but depended on a weekly contribution and occasional donations. The congregation, however, greatly increased ; and, after some time, he delivered a series of Lectures on the Assembly's Catechism, which were well attended ; and these were succeeded by a course of lectures upon Scripture-Ilistory, which were also well attended ti}l the breaking out of the war between this country and America in 1776 ; when be was obliged to remove his family back to Great Barrington, whither he soon after followed. Great part of the next summer was spent in preaching to the congregation at Newbury Port, then supposed to be the largest in America; after which he visited and preached for several destitute congregations, till the year 1780, when the British army having evacuated Newport, he returned ; and his family followed him soon after. Upon his retum, he founxl the congregation scattered, and the meeting-house almost destroyed, having been converted into barracks for the British troops. The people, however, welcomed back their pastor; and his presence rekindling their energies, the place was repaired, and he reassumed his ministry. Here it pleased God to deprive him of his partner in life, in her sixty-eighth year, by a slow scrofulous consumption, which was the more distressing to him, as his family had been so scattered, by marriages and deaths, that be had not then a relation left within many miles,

The next year (1794) he repaired this boss by a second marriage, with a maiden lady of the name of West, of whom he speaks in very high terms of commendation, and who survives him. In January, 1799, he was seized with a paralytic stroke, which took away, in a great ineasure, the use of his limbs en the right side, considerably affected his specar, and threatened a speedy dissolution. He continued, however, to survive; but there is an hiatus in his life from this period to his last illness. This closing scene is thus related by a friend who wit. nessed it:

“ Last Jay (that is, May 1803) the Doctor had a very severe fever, by which lie was bronght to the door of Death;

[ocr errors]

yet recovered so far as to preach in July;, and continued to preach until a young man, whom he sent, for, came to assist him, who was here four Sabbaths, and then left us. The Doctor then, though with difficulty, preached five Sabbaths, the last of which was the 16th of October. Ile said, when he got home, that now he liad done : he could preach no more! thought he was not sick, only feeble, and much fatignied: his text was 1 Pet. v. 8. Ile slept comfortably that night.; but in the more 17 ing, seened to be poorly; and, after breakfast, lay down about two hours and slept, then waked, told me he was almost gone, , and in a few minutes went into a strong convulsion fit, which was thought to be apoplectic, and bad all the appearance of death; but, by the blessing of God on the exertions which were, made, he was brought to his senses before night, Soon after, he : ; was seized with a violent dysentery, which reduced him very low i indeed: yot be recovered so far as to sit up in the easy-chair two or three hours in a day; but never had any appetite for food; and, fer the whole nine weeks which he lived, hardly took an ounce of solid food.

“ I esteemed it a peculiar favour that the Doctor was spared, though in such a state of weakness that he had an opportunity of conversing but little with his friends, to exhibit a most striking example of patience and submission to the divine will.

" lle possessed an uninterrupted peace; and though he could say but little, through his great inward weakness, yet he scemed to dwell in the clearest views of divine truth. The glory which would arise to God in the salvation of singers, filled his soul with ineffable joy. He had not one anxious thought about death, -rejoiced that he was in the land of Christ, and wholly at his disposal. He thought much on those words, “ the glory that should follow.!”-Said, he sometimes had the joy of faith. He , was greatly refreshed to see the wonderful work of God in the congregation, under the preaching of the man whom he introduced; and gave his approbation and blessing to those who joined the church at this time. ,

,“ He sensibly declined for better than two weeks; and for more than two days his bodily distress was beyond description. He felt himself going ; and said he was willing. His reason, was perfect to the last, and his patience in his agonies astonishing. After a very distressing turn we laid him down in his bod, - he sexmed easier and while a number of us were sitting round him, he breathed his last without a sigh or a groan; nor could we tell the moment in which he went !"

Dr. Hopkins did on the 20th of December, 1803, 'in the cighty-third year of his age, and sixtieth of his ministry. i Ilis fuperal-sermon was preached by Dr. Levi Ilart, pastor of the noril church in Preston ; and the account of his life was pubkished by Dr. Stephen West, of Stockbridge.

As a preacher, Dr. Hopki po never very popular, nor re

was perfect to theers distressing, die na number of;

for Sin, or Enc

through severa offended many

of them are made the Pro

markably suecessful. In the carly part of his life he was so indefatigable in his enquiries after truth, that he was totally inate tentive to the graces of language: a circumstance that he much lamented, and against which he carefully cautioned others, as he found it every difficult to cure the slovenly habits he had acquired' in composition. At the commencement of his ministry he read his sermons ; but soon dropped this, and wrote only the heads of his discourses. Yet he recommends to young ministers writing sermons, and committing them to memory, with a latitude for alteration and enlargement in delivery. This he conceives the best method to store the mind with knowledge, and to make'a ready' preacher.

'But it was as an author and a divine that he excelled. In the year 1759, he published three sermons on Rom. iii. 5, 8, entitled “ Sin, through Divine Interposition, an Advantage to the Universe'; and yet that nó excuse for Sin, or Encouragement to it.” This title offended many; and yet the discourses went through several editions, without any direct reply. But our author soon became a Controversialist; and in 1765 attacked Dr. Mayhew, of Boston, in “ An Inquiry concerning the Promises of the Gospel: whether any of them are made to the Exercises and Doings of Persons in an Unregenerate State.” The object of this was to prove that the gospel was designed, not to reform men continuing unregenerate, but to convert them.

In 1768 the Doctor published a sermon from Heb. iii. 4, under this title: “ The Importance and Necessity of Christians considering Jesus Christ in the Extent of his high and glorious Character,”'i. e. as the true God. The Inquiry having been at. tacked by Mr. Mills, a respectable minister of Connecticut, the Doctor replied to him in 1769. “Some,” says he, “ thought I treated Mr. Mills with too much severity; and I believe (adds the Doctor, when relating this several years afterward) there is something of this kind, which ought to be left out, or other. wise expressed, though I had no perception of it in the time of it; but thought I was conscientiously careful to leave out all personal reflections, and every thing which was not necessary in the best manner to expose error, and vindicate the truth.' But how deceitful is the human heart ! — who can understand his error!” – A very good hint this for polemic writers.

The same year Mr. Wm. Hart, of Saybrook, attacked Dr. Whitaker and our author; which drew some animadversions from the latter. In the year 1772, Dr. Hemmingway published eight sermons, in which he opposed the Hopkinsian System, as it was now denominated ; but Dr. Hopkins defended himself in "An Inquiry into the Nature of True Holiness ;” which he judged to be the turning point in this controversy. Ten years atier, he attacked the Universalists, who were then greatly sprading in America, in “ An Inquiry into the Future State of those who dic in their Sins."

refpect of this was 76 of Persons in

Something more then relating much severine," says he, ecticut, the

d, though'; which several years and I believ

« PreviousContinue »