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his most distressing symptoms, he was able, after two months detention, to embark for New-Haven. A long and unfavorable voyage brought him to this place on the tenth of August.
Two days after his arrival, having expressed in a letter to a friend, his conviction, that without some speedy relief he must soon die, he added :
"" You will naturally inquire, with what feelings I contemplate the prospect before me? I can only reply in general, that my mind has so far been preserved under the nearest and most solemn views of death it has yet taken, from all distressing agitation and alarm; my confidence in the great christian foundation is steadfast and unshaken,—but am I building on this foundation ? This inquiry forms the theme of my most anxious solicitude and fervent prayers; and I am thankful to the Author of all grace, that the evidence of my personal interest in the Redeemer, occasionally shines forth with considerable clearness ; so that hope, more precious than the treasures of the world, commonly prevails against my fears, my doubts, and my sins. If I had no more to repent of than most people, I should have more confidence in the sincerity of my repentance; but ranking, as I do, among the chief of sinners, I have only to trust the more to the Savior's merits, and I can find occasionally, even hope and consolation in this act of faith and confi
The assiduity of able and affectionate physicians, the attentions of many, who, though personally strangers, were friends to one who had made himself so well known to them, and the exhilaration inspired by once more touching his native soil, were unable to arrest the progress of disease. It was our privilege to see him girding himself for his last conflict, and calmly awaiting the approach of death. It was our privilege to see with what affectionate remembrance his heart lingered amid the scenes of his labors and sufferings in Africa; to witness the unaffected humility, so alien to his native temper, which breathed through all his expressions; to know what consolations he derived from the grace and manifested love of God; and to catch some kindred excitement from the hope that illuminated his dying eye, and played upon his pale and wasted features.
His last day was spent not in complaints,—not in anxious efforts to prolong life,—not in vain wishes to see once again, if but for an hour, the faces of his parents, to catch, were it but a word, from lips often pressed to his in affection ; but in active duty, as a faithful servant watches with trimmed and burning lamp, the coming of his Lord. He dictated a letter on business, and signed it with his own hand. He expressed, earnestly, his thoughts and desires concerning the colony. Observing an attendant moved by his sufferings, in the spirit of bim, who, on his way to the cross, said to the sympathizing daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, he exhorted him to con
sider and prepare for his own death. Assisted to sit up, that he might thus better endure one of those paroxysms in which life seemed contending unequally with death, his little African boy standing in tears by his side, he offered his last prayer ; that his faith might not fail under the weight of his affliction ; that those whose kindness he was experiencing, and that his relatives and friends might never come into condemnation ; and that the poor people among whom he had labored, might ever enjoy the blessing of that Almighty being, to whom, in this awful crisis of his existence, he was confiding the everlasting interests of his soul.'
392. That extraordinary energy of mind, and that precision in attention to every duty, which had characterized him in all the exigencies of life, were strikingly manifested to the last. It seemed as if his spirit scorned to sympathize with the enfeebled and dissolving body. Not three hours before his death, he dictated the memoranda which brought down his journal to the latest date of his life, recording all his expenditures to that very day; and then counted, accurately and with apparent ease, and committed to a friend, the money which he had with him. His last moment came just before midnight, August 25, 1828, in the thirty-fifth year of
One coincidence his biographer bas omitted, which seemed to us at the time a remarkable and touching incident. Lying on his death-bed, hundreds of miles from his birth-place, and for aught be knew, as far from all his earthly friends, he was permitted to enjoy a refreshing interview with the beloved and venerated pastor of his childhood.* The same hand which had baptized him, was uplifted to bless him, when heart and flesh were failing him. The same voice which, in his early youth, had called him into the kingdom of God; which, when he first felt the burden of his sins, directed him to the cross of Christ; and which, when he had found peace in believing, welcomed him to the communion of the saints, breathed over his dying couch its familiar tones of consolation and
He died among strangers. Those who attended upon him in his sickness, knew that he had parents and other dear relatives in a distant part of the country, and that they had been informed of his arrival, and of his illness; and it was supposed, that from some stranger's pen, those friends must receive the intelligence of
* The Rev. Amos Pettingell, wbo, in Ashmun's early days, had been pastor of the church at Champlain, N. Y., where the parents of Ashmun resided, and still reside, was pastor of a church in Waterbury, Conn. Having learned from the journals of the day, that Mr. Ashmun was in New-Haven, dangerously ill, he hastened to visit him, and spent a few hours with him, only two or three days before his death. This good man, not many months afterward, went to his rest. An edifying memoir of him, written by our beloved brother Hart, (also deceasert!) has been published by the Massachusetts Sabbath-School Union.
his departure from among the living. On the second day after his death, a large concourse of the citizens of New-Haven, together with some distinguished strangers, filled the center church to attend upon his obsequies; but in all that concourse, there was not one relative or early friend of the deceased. The mournful services had commenced; a funeral hymn had been sung; prayer had been offered, in which absent relatives were feelingly remembered; and every heart, perhaps, in that great assembly, was touched with the thought of aged parents, berest of a son whose usefulness and renown might well be to them, in their evening of life, among the dearest of their earthly treasures; when an aged female, entering the church, approached the coffin, with a look, an air, a motion, which could not be mistaken. It was the mother of Ashmun, who, having heard of the arrival and illness of her son, had hastened to meet him; and having traveled day and night, four hundred miles, had landed in the city just as the bells were tolling for his funeral.
But were not the agonized feelings of a mother's love soothed, and in some measure assuaged, by beholding once more the noble features of her son, although in the cold and unexpressive fixedness of death? That poor consolation was denied her. The time which had elapsed since his death, had made it necessary to close the coffin ; and prudence, even a regard for her sensibilities, forbade it to be opened. At the grave, while the solemn ritual waited for a moment, there was one more struggle of maternal instinct; and once more, ere the precious dust descended to its resting-place, the mother's hand was laid in agony and resignation upon the coffin of her son. None that saw the pathos of the movement, can ever forget it.
The intelligent stranger, who, in the beautiful cemetery of NewHaven, visits with the homage due to worth, to genius, to distinguished public usefulness, the graves of such men as Dwight, Whitney, Sherman, and Hillhouse, cannot but linger, to pay the same homage at the tomb of Ashmun.
We have made no attempt to analyze his character. The reader who will trace the whole course of Ashmun's lise, illustrated as it is in this volume, with rich extracts from his letters and journals, and with a large appendix of papers from his pen, will know more of the singularly blended elements of his character, than could be learned from any formal description. And sure we are, that the man who can contemplate the growth of such a character, to its final development, marking the processes of providence and of grace by which it was formed, and not be made better, is much to be pitied.
VOLUME VII.-NUMBER III.
ART. 1.-CAUSES OF UNSUCCESSFULNESS IN THE MINISTRY.
The christian ministry is an institution of God. Its object is the salvation of lost men; and for the attainment of this object, it is clothed with mighty energies. It is intrusted with the dispensation of a gospel, which is declared to be the wisdom and the power of God to salvation. Whatever is great and venerable in the character of the infinite God; whatever is imperative and binding in his moral government over men; whatever is tender and winning in his boundless love in Christ Jesus, or momentous and solemn in the realities of eternity, the immortality of the soul, the felicities of heaven, and the punishments of hell ;' all is committed to the ministry of reconciliation, as means of accomplishing the great end of its institution, the recovery of ruined man to the image and favor of his God. Yet this ministry, in the hands of men at the present day, seems, in many cases, strangely divested of its life-giving power. Its practical results, in the conversion and spiritual improvement of mankind, are far less than might be expected from the nature and design of the institution,—far less than they were in the early days of christianity, and far less, we may be sure, than they will be before the arrival of the latter-day glory of the church.
The evidences of this lamentable want of ministerial success, are many and decisive. Look at the state of religion in our churches. Is it such as might be expected from the ample means of grace furnished in the gospel of Christ? The number, indeed, is not small, of those who, on the whole, appear to be christians; but how very imperfectly is the image of Christ drawn upon their hearts, or exemplified in their lives! Of the greater part of the members of our churches, it may, with the strictest truth, be said, “that when for the time they ought to be teachers, they have need that one teach them again which be the first principles of VOL. VII.
the oracles of God, and are such as have need of milk, and not of
. How too is it, that so many under the preaching of the present day, are deceiving themselves with a false hope? The fact cannot be questioned. No one who forms his views of christian character from the bible, can avoid the painful conviction, that there are many in our churches who have a name to live, while they are dead, and are going down to ruin with a lie in their right hand. Would it be so, if the gospel, in its discriminating and exposing power, were duly pressed on the heart and conscience ?
Look, too, at the multitude of impenitent persons, who sit from year to year under the preaching of the present day, entirely secure in their sins. They come to and go from the house of God, from sabbath to sabbath, and that too, perhaps, for a long life, and yet remain wholly ignorant of their character and destiny, and receive their first conviction of guilt and condemnation on opening their eyes in a miserable eternity.
Notice also, the infrequency and short continuance of revivals of religion. These precious visitations of mercy generally come at far distant intervals, last but a little while, and are too osten greatly marred and injured by a large mixture of deception and false religion,-a fact which has long appeared to us to indicate something wrong in the mode of conducting revivals of religion,something deficient, unskillful and erroneous, in the manner of presenting God's truth, and using the other means of carrying on a work of grace.
But we need not enlarge on the evidences of a want of success in the ministry. The fact is as obvious as it is melancholy. The question now arises, To what causes is this want of success to be attributed? Why is it, that the gospel, as preached at the present day, so often fails of its end? Why is it not more generally proved, by actual results, to be the power of God unto the salvation of them that hear it? Is it said, that the heart of man is desperately wicked, and that the Holy Spirit only can change the heart and bring men to repentance ? Nothing is more true. But the gospel, it should be remembered, is God's own ordinance,-his own appointed instrument for effecting this great spiritual change; and the divine influence, which is admitted to be indispensable to the conversion of a sinner, instead of rendering this instrument powerless, is the very thing which invests it with the high character claimed for it, of being the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation.
The question then returns,—What are the causes of unsuccessfulness in the ministry? Why are the preaching of the gospel, and the influence of the Holy Spirit to render it effectual, so often found in separation and at distance, one from the other? Is the