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Past and Present
An Estimate of Prindel

At the camp-meeting in Flamborough West, in 1828, I first saw Prindel. The meeting began on a Friday evening. The writer had the honor of inaugurating the services by the first sermon he ever preached at a camp-meeting, and from a text, as the Brethren said, “ big enough for a Bishop:” viz : Hebrews, vi. 18, 20. The next day, a stranger of whom I had never heard before, dressed in a black silk robe, sat in a waggon (for which he was a sufficient load) at the gate of the enclosure, hailing and shaking hands with old acquaintances as they passed. It seems he had just returned from the United States, where he had laboured for several years immediately previous, for the purpose of re-uniting with the Conference in this, his native province. At that meeting he preached twice, one of the sermons I have forgotten, if I heard it; the other was a defence of the extraordinary proceedings sometimes displayed, especially in that day, at camp-meetings, from the words of the prophet, “Cry out and shout, O thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee!” Isa. xii. 6. He not only defended shouting in this sermon, but he afterwards exemplified his doctrine on the grandest scale we had ever happened to witness. It was at the Lord’s Supper, towards the close of the meeting, that he “got happy" and uttered some earthquake-like shouts that were perfectly electrifying. His voice was a lion’s roar when he gave it scope.

His preaching struck me at that time as very original, clear, and cogent. It was no random rant, for he said he would not preach without timely notice. His conversation also, during the meeting, which turned principally on the best method and manner of preaching, and abounded in reminiscences of ministerial life, was very intelligent and entertaining, to a young man at least. Indeed, the discussions of some of the best minds in our then infant connexion—such as Prindel, Madden, Youmans, Richardson, Wm. and John Ryerson, Soveriegn, Messmore, and Anson Green—were to the writer, then a listening junior, peculiarly instructive. When men have less access to books, do they not naturally avail themselves more of the living oracles ? Prindel was more attentive to and agreeable in his personal appearance and habits then than he was in after years; but he was even then most unwieldly in size. I remember on his going to bed one night, which was of course on the floor, he came down with an elephantine crash that made the “Preachers tent and stand” shake on its scantling pillars, on which he gave forth the following utterance in his usually measured style of delivery.“ There are two things that mortify me—yea, three—my sins, and my ignorance, and my corpulence.

It was not our lot to hear him often after that period. But the few occasions on which we did were sufficient to deepen the conviction that, though he had his education, according to his own account, “ in Canada, when there were no schools and no books,” yet that his was a mind of a superior order, most discriminating and philosophical. A mind able to grasp the subjects of metaphysical science, and law, as well as divinity. Two of those admired sermons were preached during the .sessions of Conference. One in Belleville, in 1830, on this text, from the concluding part of the Lord’s Prayer, u thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen:” the other in 1831, in York, from, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

He had a profound and accurate acquaintance with Conferential usage and our Methodist law in general, and was most expert as a casuist, which earned for him the title of “Attorney General.”

We need not be more minute on the case of one who has just passed away from amongst us, and whose life and character have been published in the “ Minutes of Conference” for the present year (1855) ; but we would just remark, he was one of the many instances which show that the prize of popularity is often wrung from the grasp of originality and genius by those who are incapable of going beyond mere common places, by attending to appearances and matters conventional. Yet Prindel had a few friends, who could appreciate his powers and his worth; one only of whom, the Reverend James Spencer, now Editor of the Christian Guardian, was enough to weigh down a legion of those gossamer-loving people who are taken up with mere prettinesses. Prindel was the unwieldly, but intelligent, and powerful elephant, among gazels and garing-bocks.

“Farewell, old soldier of the cross,
“You struggled long and hard for heaven;
“All things below you counted dross,
"And now the warrior’s crown is given.”

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