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Past and Present
Experiences of a Self-Taught Minister

Education is nothing less nor more than the development of powers possessed to some extent by every human being, but existing in different proportions in different persons. Powers which, however, must remain forever latent if they are not drawn out. This work is commenced by others and carried on to some extent by the force of circumstances; but no person can be truly and eminently educated, who does not set himself about it with a fixed and untiring determination. The advantages of a regular school and collegiate education are incalculable ; as such a course furnishes the tools by which a man may build up the superstructure of a cultivated-intellect. There is a sense in which a man who is educated at all, in the true sense of the word, must be self-educated. Minds of different casts and calibre require a development each one peculiar to itself. And many a scholar has not discovered the true direction in which his mind ought to grow till he has left college. But then that collegian from his acquantance with the meaning of words, of language in general, of scientific terms, of mathematical principles, of logical forms, and of the leading facts of history, besides having a large development of mind already, has the implements for that particular cultivation which his own individual mind ought to receive.

Religion, besides giving always a mighty impulse to that mind which has been brought under its power, is the only safe guide to the healthy, and useful development of our powers. Every true minister must be supposed to be under its impulses and guidance. The minister’s mind, if possible, should be truly and thoroughly cultivated. It becomes his duty, whatever his early advantages, to cultivate his mental powers to the utmost. The early Methodist preachers in this Province entered the work with small educational advantages. Their condition resembled that of the mechanic, who has to teach himself his trade, to manufacture his tools, and to perform the contemplated construction at the same time.

True, there was one thing they did know, before they undertook to teach others. They knew themselves to be ruined sinners—they knew the true source of consolation and help—they clearly understood the plan of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ—they had a clear experience of the Spirit’s work on the heart, and were qualified to comfort, as well as direct, others with the consolation wherewith they themselves were comforted of God. Nor was this all: they were usually persons of good natural parts—of quick perception and ready utterance—whose gifts had been drawn out and exercised in exhortation and preaching in their own localities before they went into the ministerial work. This was the reason why they had been urged to enter the field, and recommended by their several Quarterly Meetings. Yea more, if inquiry were made, it would be found that their literary attainments were considerably in advance of the mass of their hearers. Some of them had been School teachers. This gave them a vantage ground which caused them to be respected. Still, with all these admissions in their favor, they felt their great insufficiency for a work which might employ the most extensive stores of knowledge and the most highly cultivated powers of mind.

This was felt by the person whose experiences we chronicle. He had learned to read when a child of six years of age, by conning over an old copy of the New Testament with its appended metrical version of the Psalms. The first verse he ever learned to read was this: “ Behold the mountain of the Lord, in latter days shall rise.”The second was—“ Now as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdelene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” His schooling consisted of about two years altogether before the age of seventeen, but distributed into periods of owe, three, and six months at a time, with nine and twelve months vacation between. The intervals between the times of attending school were filled up with hard work. So that he lost during vacation what he had learned in term time. No wonder that this alternating system left him at the age above indicated (seventeen years and a half) with the bare ability to read ; to scrawl his name with hideous chirography; and with much ado, to count the simplest sum in simple addition. But, thank God! he could read. This art he had possessed from childhood; and the exercise of it was always pleasurable to him, and furnished him boundless stores of enjoyment. How often were the intervals of his toil, which his companions spent in idleness and en-mi, beguiled with books. True, they were not of the most select or proper kind. They were such as fell in his way. The perusal of them gratified his curiosity, and preserved his appetite for reading. Nor does he now regret the reading of one of them. He has learned^to extract the precious metal from the dross.

Then came conversion at the age of fifteen. This event gave a new impulse to his intellectual as well as moral powers, the latter of which had either remained dormant, or were distorted and diseased. A taste for a^new kind of books was now created, and a conscientious principle established as to the character of the books he should read. He now learned to eschew bad and questionable books, along with injurious companions. A belief that the reading of novels was injurious was the immediate result: and although it cost him a conflict to part with this fascinating sort of reading, to which he had been previously addicted, he triumphed in the struggle, and never read another. His mind, throwing itself into this attitude of defence, went to an extreme in this direction. He was afraid of every kind of reading, however instructive and useful, that was not directly religious. This shut him up for some years to the Blessed Bible? to religious biographies, and to works on practical religion. Contiguity to a kind-hearted Presbyterian minister, gave him free access to the parson’s old cast off books, which he kept in a passage-way outside his study door. These were all Calvinis-tic. During that period he read “ Boston’s four fold state”—• the Works of Brooks—of Doddridge, in part, &c., &c. Along with these, he read the Life and Sermons of Wesley—the Lives of nearly all the Lay Preachers—and several Doctrinal Tracts, from the pens of Wesley, Fletcher, Oliver* and Bangs, which neutralizd the Calvinism that his mind might have received from Boston and others. He has never regretted reading any of the Puritan writers, he found a wealth of theological matter, and expression that amply repaid perusal. And the study of these controversies were not unimportant as a means of mental discipline, and occupied the time which more favored ones spend at Latin and Mathematics, and, to some extent, supplied their place.

When midway between seventeen and eighteen years of age, providential circumstances released him from his trade. The time he spent at that, as it comprehended a knowledge of some chemical agents, he does not regard as absolutely lost. Besides, during that period he learned much of the principle and habits of a class of inen, which contributed to advance his acquaintance with human nature, a branch of knowledge most important to efficiency in preaching, by furnishing the key, very often, to the conscience and the affections of the hearers; and of skill in pastoral government, by knowing the prejudices of the people in common life, who are always the majority. His ministerial success in after years was principally among persons of this kind. The best part of a year was now spent at school, save What was substracted by a severe fit of sickness—bilious fever, by which his memory received a shock which it never wholly recovered. This affliction, however, was a season of healthful moral discipline, which tended to prepare him more fully for his coming work.

In two months time at school, for which he paid two dollars, he qualified himself to teach the juniors, by doing which he defrayed the expense of his own subsequent tuition. During that year, he went twice through the English Grammar—twice through the Arithmetic—learned Book-Keeping in its simplest form—learned something of Geography—and acquired the elements of Latin and Greek. The want of resources, at the end of the space indicated, drew him to adopt the alternative of teaching a country school. Yes, gentle reader, he knows what it is to teach a country school, of the original type, and to study human nature in its domestic phases in rural life, in its newest form, by “ boarding around”—that is to say, eating and sleeping one week for each pupil in every house or shanty among Irish, Scotch, Dutch and Yankees, whether tidy or slaternly. If this was not a probation and preparation for ministerial life in its itinerant form, we should like to know what would be. There he developed his talent for lecturing by talking to his pupils, among whom he was as famous as “Groldsmith’s Village Schoolmaster.” In those days a pious teacher was free to pray with his scholars in good earnest. Our hero nerved himself for after pastoral [engagements, by praying in all the families where he sojourned. The weekly class, with its preceding public meeting for exhortation and prayer, answered our self-taught in the place of the weekly declamations to which our present expectants of the ministry resort. Only that he had to be his own criticiser, which task he performed with severity or lenity as his mind chanced to be depressed or elated with his performances. But it was a rule with him in those days to try and improve on the last effort at every succeeding one. The only mental advantages of those three months was acquired by teaching what he had learned to others [he thinks it very valuable to alternate teaching with school-going] and the perusal of Moshiem’s Ecclesiastical History, which he carefully read, and on which he made notes. The principal idea that impressed him from that reading, was, of the gradual rise of ecclesiastical power and superstitious observances. . .

A prospect of still further improvement now opened before him: the offer of a more paying school in a much more agreeable neighborhood with the privilege of boarding in the house-of a well-educated, studious man, who felt a great interest in all young men anxious for improvement, who promised to giva him all the assistance in his power. This person was a plain, unpretending farmer, but one who had enjoyed the benefit of a New England education, and whose only recreations were intellectual pursuits—a man who beguiled the long evenings of a Canadian winter, far from polished society, with Mathematics, Optics, and kindred subjects. Happily he was pious also.

The privilege of this man’s society and instructions, this youth, perhaps erroneonsly, surrendered in obedience to the call of the church authorities, which first designated him to the office of Missionary School-Teacher among the Indians of Scoogog Lake, where had he gone, his career for life might have been very much altered. He might have wandered with Thomas Hurlbert to the far North West; or with the lamented Hurd, the Wesleyan student, he might have found his way to the college and his grave. This order, however, was countermanded. Hurd went to the Mission School, and our hero to a circuit. Now opened new sources of mental solicitude and new efforts. As he had to preach eight times a week, his first necessity was to provide the required number of sermons. And they had all to be the fruit of thought; for he never had the art of talking without having something to say. He felt ashamed when he found himself rhapsodical. According to his day was his strength. He was now shut up to the necessity of thinking, and thinking closely: something in which he had long wished to discipline himself. His first sermon was studied on a barn floor. The second and third in the woods; and so on, very much the same with what followed There was little or no opportunity for retirement in the houses, and no facilities for writing whatever. He wrote no sermon— or nothing but the merest outline and the scripture proofs —for several years. His text was usually suggested by his private or domestic devotional reading in the morning of each day—by the wants of the*people—or by some remark of theirs in prayer or class-meeting. Next he read the u Brief Commentary” in his little “ diamond edition” Bible. Then he searched out the parallel passages, consulted a Commentary, if there was one in the house, (and the Methodists of that time, according to their number and means, bought far more standard religious books than do those of this day,) and then made his plan. By this time it was necessary for him to start for his appointment, for he had one, or two, in every day of the month but two. He meditated upon his subjects on horse-back; and the views of truth there eliminated, not only beguiled the journey, but were most sweet to his soul. If time would allow before preaching, when he got to his journey’s end, he went into the woods and thought his subject all over again while he beat a path by pacing backwards and forwards, holding his inseparable Bible in one hand, and brushing off the mosquitoes with the other, or otherwise, he prayed it all over on his knees. From that communion with God and truth he went before the people. It is astonishing how fertile of subjects his mind became ; and truth unfolded before him. He soon found himself able to make two or three sermons a week, such as they were, His stock of sermons was soon so large he began to feel easy in his circumstances in that particular. Especially so, when, after the lapse of four months, the Conference assigned him a new field of labor. He then began to think of widening his foundation, by something like a fair curriculum of study. The standard qualification in order to admission into the Conference at that day embraced Grammar, Geography, Logic, Ecclesiastical History, and Divinity, only. We do not remember that any text books were assigned the Candidates, only that it was supposed Mosheim was the best guide in Church History, and that in Divinity they should use the Bible, with the writings of Wesley, Watson, Fletcher, Clarke, and the rest of the Methodist writers. There were no “ printed questions,” or “ topics” to guide the solitary student. His examination was all attended to. at once, and was conducted by a Committee nominated by the President. Of each of these subjects the young preacher in question had some knowledge excepting Logic. This he proposed to learn, with the sciences in general, and to get a knowledge of the original language in which the Scriptures were first written. But how was it to be done ? Pie had 110 home assigned him; and but little time to spend in it if he had possessed one. He had no teachers, and he might have said no books. Still he resolved on getting every branch of knowledge desirable for a minister. He did not, however, postpone any ministerial duty, or obligation, till he should get such an amount of knowledge. He took for his motto that maxim of our Discipline: “Gaining knowledge is a good work, but saving souls is a better.” “Gaining knowledge” was his daily endeavor, but when any particular opportunity for soul-saving occurred, he laid by his books till it was attended to. He found that they might generally both occupy some portions of each day. It was a rule with him to commence as soon as he arose, going over from the beginning to the last lesson, all he knew of any subject he had in hand. He did this particularly with the Greek language. This occupied the time he was performing his toilet. His Bible and secret devotions of course occupied his first attention after he was dressed. He then employed every leisure and undistracted moment he could secure while in the house in reading and study according to plan. In order to prevent the people from consuming it all in conversation, he had several expedients—such as Carrying with him a number of small books, one of which he put into the hands of each member of the family. Or if he was reading a work in which they were likely to feel an interest, he either read to them aloud, or, as this was very hard work, he selected an intelligible reader from among themselves to read aloud to him and the rest, occasionally correcting the reader’s mistakes, if he were a young person, thus making it improving to him. Or else, the book elicited a general discussion on the subject of which it treated that was improving to all. He generally studied till he was tired, and thus made the ride to the next appointment, or the work of pastoral visiting, a recreation. But as his time for study in the house was too limited to fatigue him, he contrived to study in walking from one house to another, or on horse-back, in going from one appointment to another. He had always a book upon his person, and read during every interval, when he could do so with safety to his limbs and neck. But his usual method of improving such a time was to have an epitome, on a card, of something he wanted to memorize, or master, and to repeat it over as he went along. It was usual for him, after he had performed his evening devotions, while undressing, and afterwards while composing himself, to go over mentally the studies of the past day, and particularly to charge his mind with the ideas which he had acquired during that day. Another plan he took to imprint any new idea or branch of knowledge on his mind, was that recommended by Dr. Watts in his “Improvement of the Mind,”—a work from which he got many valuable hints— that of relating to another, on the first fitting occasion, any new idea he had received. Such occasions often occur to a preacher, both in private conversation and his public discourses. It is on this account that his occupation is an excellent school. 'Our subject found it so for another reason—the minister is obliged to know, and must use research. He is, therefore, educated by the force of circumstances, just like many others placed in responsible positions, in which they must sustain themselves, or sink. He spent, it is true, a great deal of time in vain—unless it were to demonstrate their futility'—over two different systems of artificial memory, which he found in books. The first, was a system of technical or arbitrary words ; the other, a system of fanciful resemblances, designed to perpetuate and call up the new-gotten idea when required, by associating it with the mental, or the sensuous symbol. He derived the most assistance froni availing himself of the natural laws of association—which are, similarity, contrariety, and contiguity of time and place. What these are, and how they are applied, we need not further explain to the intelligent reader. A certain philosophic maxim, which he early adopted was of importance to him: that was, “Never be ashamed to acknowledge your ignorance.” By this means he always learned, when he met persons competent to teach; and he met with few who could not impart information on some one subject at least. And on that one he plied them plentifully with questions. Most of people are not only willing but proud to impart what they know. Sometimes he learned the greatest truths, as Dr. A. Clarke, says lie did, “by his own blunders.” They led some one to correct him; or by accident he found out his mistake, when the mortification he felt so impressed the subject on his mind, that he never went wrong in that particular again. His deficiency compared with others stimulated him. If, in conversation with a man, he found himself inferior on any subject, he went and studied it, if it were possible, till he knew as much about it as the other.

On starting in the work his elementary defects were the worst of all. He knew the structure of the English language, its Etymology and Syntax; and had some little knowledge of the Latin and Greek, as also of Geography and History; but his pronunciation was bad, and his spelling was still worse—the fruits of not having had early schooling, and of keeping the company of illiterate people. He set himself to correct these defects. He had learned his Grammar from Lennie, who has but one short chapter on orthography; he now procured “Murray’s Exercises,” and committed his Rules of Orthography, while he copied those of Mavor from his spelling book, and kept them by him when he wrote, referring to them whenever he was in doubt. When his piece of writing was finished, he went over the whole with a dictionary in hand. This, which was a pocket edition of Walker, he always carried with him, and kept by him when he read, not only to determine the mean* ing of every word which he did not understand, but to correct his wrong jpronunciation of words he did understand—or to relieve his mind of doubt on any one, or all, of the above subjects* The above remarks will conduct us to the method by which he tried to learn composition. He had never had but one composition given him to write while at school; and we have already hinted that he had no time or facilities for writing out in full even his sermons. He had travelled seven years, before he fully wrote out a sermon. But he began four years earlier to practice writing for his improvement. He received the first hint of the importance of it from an editorial of the then newly started “Christian Guardian,” a periodical which has done an incalculable amount of good in improving all classes of people in this Province. It was then in the hands of Egerton Ryerson. Our hero was at the time indicated twenty one years of age. He bought a small pocket blank book, and commenced a Journal, after the fashion of Wesley, making remarks on passing occurrences, and observations on the books he read, as well as recording the varying phases of his own Christian experience. He did not write away at random in the book at once—there would have been but little improvement in that. He first carefully wrote his remarks or observations on a slate or piece of blank paper, erasing, adding, transposing, and correcting, till he got it correct—at least in his own estimation. At first he aimed at being simply correct. He knew little of enlivening his style with a figure, or of using the least ornament, for several years. So that it was merely plain and neat. Then, as his views expanded, his tastes became more elevated, and composition more easy, insensible to himself at the first, his style began to be more flowing and ornate. On observing which he gave attention to elegance and ornament as well as correctness. It has been said that the ornamented and practical style goes before the prosaic and plain, but it was not so with him. When he first began to compose, the great difficulty with him was, to make his sentences stick to each other! Hence he usually had a conjunction copulative, or disjunctive, between every two sentences, till' the and?, and the buts, and the j or s, were frightful! Yet he was afraid to do without them! The first hint to direct him was from the pen of Edmondson, in his work on the “ Christian Ministry,” in which he denounces what was our hero’s practice, and quotes the words of the famous Bradburn, who used to say “ I hate all your ands, and your tos, and your buts, and your fors, and all your little feeble expletives.” That he knew how to eschew these, was doubtless one of the sources of Bradburn’s energy and impressiveness. To this day, however, the person of whom we write has often to go over the first draft of what he has written, and decapitate the superfluous conjunctions.

He deferred the prosecution of science till he should enlarge his acquaintance with the learned languages, from a hint he very casually got at a very early date in his career, that the most scientific terms were derived, or compounded, from the Greek and Latin; and that, consequently, when a person has a good knowledge of those, he can prosecute the study of the Sciences with greater facility. To the former of these, with Hebrew, he paid more attention than to Latin, as he judged ft more immediately necessary to his Bible studies. “And why,” he thought, "should not Greek be studied before Latin f It is the older language, and to a great extent, the purest of the other.”

Just at this point, we may as well give the conclusions he came to on the subject of education for the ministry, after many years of anxious inquiry for the right way—of blundering, and of going wrong, for the sake of going right“ A man,” thought he, “ should begin with the Bible, as the oldest and most authentic of all histories, as containing a picture of primeval manners and primordial civilization, and as being written in one of the earliest, if not the very first of languages spoken by mankind. “Let him learn,” he further thought, “that language thoroughly, with all its cognates—Arabic, Chaldee, Syriac and Persic. Along with these, let him study the Geography of the lands of the Bible, many hints to guide him in which he will obtain from the Scriptures themselves. Next to this,” he concluded, “a candidate should study the history of all the earlier nations, with the Geography of their respective countries, at the several epochs of their History. Beginning, if no higher, with Armenia, or Ararat, following Japhet’s posterity till they are settled in Asia Minor and Europe; then let him return,” said he, “ and settle Shem in Mesopotamia and Eastward; and after that, follow the descendants of Ham in Arabia, Canaan, Egypt, and Africa in general. The invasions of Nimrod, a son of Cush and grandson of Ham, with the founding of the Assyrian empire, and its history, with those of its cotemporaries, and neighbors—Babylon, Media, and Persia, till the last mentioned swallowed up the rest, and that in turn was swallowed up by the Macedonian, or Grecian. The history of Egypt, to the study of which” (he went on in his musings) “a knowledge of Coptic and Greek would be most desirable, down to its fall—first, under Sardanapalus, and then, under Alexander. A minute acquaintance with the four Kingdoms—the Thracian, Syrian, Egyptian, and Babylonian—into which the Macedonian empire was divided, down to the time of the Romans, with the knowledge of the ever varying civil geography of those times,” he concluded, “were most important to a thorough knowledge of the Bible. This,” he thought, “ should comprehend, not barely a following of the stream of events, but, as far as possible, let it be combined with the study of the manners, customs, civilization, trade, commerce, domestic habits, social manners, &c., of the nations and countries enumerated, at different periods of their history. Then,” said het “should come in the history of the Greeks, Romans, Phoenecians and Carthagenians, with a knowledge of Latin. Then, if a person’s means and time would allow it,” he mused on, “ a journey through those countries, beginning with Armenia, proceeding to Mesopotamia, then to Palestine, thence to Egypt, and then back to Canaan again, by the way of the Red Sea, Horeb, and the Wilderness, till he enters the land from the farther side of Jordan. After which, the land should be explored from Ka-desh Barnea on the South, to Hameth on the North. Then let the historical geography of the country be studied under the Judges, as united under David and Solomon—in its divided state, after the Captivity down to the time of Christ—its New Testament Geography—and its subsequent changes and present condition. This, with the Bible in his hand, with all the previous attainments indicated, and a watchful eye to all the new discoveries which are ever and anon crowning the searchers in Bible lands, a man,” thought he, “would be prepared to commence the study of Theology proper from the best of all textbooks, the Word of God itself. Then all the general knowledge, if it amounted to universal learning, he could acquire the better, if it were gained by a journey through all lands and the study of their respective languages, histories, and laws, in the best of all places for the attainment of the kind of knowledge desired,—in those several countries themselves,—would be all the better,” in his estimation. “All science,” according to his views, “ should be studied, and in the order in which they are related to each other. As also, the gradual development of | society, civilization, commerce, and political economy. These attainments, with a thorough acquaintance with the Spirit’s ! work on the heart; and a proper observation on, and knowledge of all grades of present society, and an acquaintance with the various forms and phases of error and infidelity would make,” in his opinion, “a thoroughly accomplished minister of the Gospel, for the times.’”

But some will say, “The whole scheme is utterly Utopian and impossible!” Perhaps it is, but our friend’s dreaming shows, at least, his views of the relation which the various branches of knowledge bear to each other, and the desirableness of every kind of learning to a minister.

After all we have said of the high standard he raised, we had better reveal no more of his own studies, or attainments, least it should be seen how very far short he has fallen of his own ideal of ministerial perfectness. Only perhaps we are bound to disclose, that his system of se(/r-tuition embraced his obtaining the aid of a qualified teacher whenever it was practicable : such as returning the second night to a certain neighborhood, in a country circuit, to have the assistance of an Irish schoolmaster, who had barely missed a Sizar’s place in Trinity College, Dublin; reading once a week to a graduate of Edinburgh University in Xenophon’s Memorabilia, on his first station in a' town ; reading Greek and Hebrew, with a student of Trinity College, a fellow boarder, at another time; getting the assistance of the students and Professors of our own Methodist College, when he labored in its vicinity; and of actually spending the most of a year of respite from circuit work within its walls, in studying Philosophy, Greek, and Hebrew. Of his divinity studies, also, we are bound to say, that while he studied Methodist standards, when they could be obtained, which were not always to be had, and all other theological works that'came in his way, his decided opinion was, that the Bible, expounded by such a grammar of its contents as “Horne’s Introduction,” a work to which he owed more than to any other, was the best of all text-books in THEOLOGY. GENIUS IN POVERTY AND OBSCURITY.

It is the opinion of some, that if we are possessed of the moral qualifications for heaven, our happiness and glory in that holy place will be in proportion to the enlargement of our minds by education. And this opinion is rendered probable by the fact, that otherwise the utility of knowledge would in some cases seem to be doubtful. Unquestionably one reason for acquiring knowledge is, that we may make ourselves more useful in the present life; but when circumstances have placed a person in a position in which he can make but very little use of it for the good of others, we must look forward to another state, as the theatre where his cultivated powers shall receive their appropriate employment and gratification.

The above thoughts are suggested by the recollection of a remarkable individual whom I met with in one of my circuits. He was a local-preacher, and lived in a part of the country settled by people mostly of “ Dutch” extraction. The greater part of them had been placed in circumstances in which they had received but little cultivation, except what they had received from the ameliorating influence of religion in the form of Meth-dism, which had been introduced among them at an early day and produced great results. They were very noisy. Ask one of those old shouting Dutch Methodists what sort of a preacher “ Father Gill” was, he would be very likely to answer, “a poor teat, full, old creatur!” And although there were a few, who from the first appreciated him, there was nothing in his phraseology or manner to attract people excitable, and demanding excitement. His appearance, too, was all expressive of dullness. Imagine a tall old man,.“ deaf as a stump,” who, by the affliction which had deprived him of hearing, had lost all the hair from his head, and even his eye-brows and eye-lashes. The loss of the first was made up by a faded old red wig, which corresponded with his sandy complexion. His manner in the pulpit was rather stationary—his almost only gesture was, now and then, when he became impressed with his subject, striking his open hand on his chest, which always made his hollow frame resound so as to be heard' by his audience, and his tones of voice were low and measured.

But that wan and wasted man, with his thread-bare clothing was of a respectable family, and had seen better days. But an undue attention to intellectual pursuits to the neglect of his business, together with the failure of the Linen trade in which he had been engaged in the North of Ireland, the place of his birth, had occasioned his emigration to Upper Canada. When I first saw him, he had, properly speaking, no home. After this, however, through the kindness of friends, a lowly one was provided for him.

I well remember my first sight of him. It was at a Camp-Meeting, the presiding officer at which asked Gill to preach. His answer was, “ I am in your hands, but spare my life.” Then such a sermon as followed. The manner of reading his first hymn impressed us: it showed an appreciation of poetry, which none but a poet could evince. His prayer was characterized by awful reverence and. spirituality. Next came the text, which was most unusual—“When the unclean spirit goeth out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and find-eth none. Then he saith I will return into my house from whence I came out: and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” After a unique introduction, he told us he proposed “ no logical analysis of his text,” a thing common with him; but he gave first a bird’s eye view Of it—then he penetrated its depths, and brought up things new and old. Its effect on my mind, was not pleasure, or tenderness, or fear, but awe, an overpowering feeling of intellectual and moral, or spiritual sublimity. The manifestation we received under that sermon almost agonized us. Ever after he was a favorite preacher with me.

He possessed originally one of the first rate order of minds— clear, logical, and yet imaginative, adapted either to the exact •sciences, to astronomy, or to poetry. He had received the elements of a classical education, knew much of science, and read extensively, especially the writers of the “Augustin age” of English literature. He was familiar with Johnson, Steel, Sterne, Pope, Addison, and Chesterfield. And he was equally .well acquainted with what we might call our Methodist classics, such as Benson, Fletcher, and Wesley. John Wesley was his oracle and admiration. He had heard Wesley and Coke— the latter often—and had been familiar with several of their cotemporaries and companions.

By the loss of his hearing in early manhood, and his obscuration by poverty, the external world and passing events were, to a great extent, shut out. But the world within had inexhaustible resources of occupation and pleasure. He read what books he could lay his hands on; he communed with his own heart; and he beguiled his lonely hours with writing poetry,— for which, in our opinion, he had no inconsiderable genius. He wrote all the acrostics, elegies, and epitaphs, for a large circle of friends; and many of them are dispersed through that region of country at the present time. He had a well-matured and well furnished mind, which enabled him to give a ready and profound view of any subject which came up in conversation.

As it was hard work for the lungs to make him hear, our usual custom was to ply him with questions on abstruse and curious subjects, and then listen to his remarks. Ask him of any subject, however new or difficult, and, after throwing himself back in his chair for a moment or two, while his eyes seemed turned on the inner man, his thoughts took a sweep around it, and he would commence and give you a consecutive and analytical view of the whole subject, and lead you to a satisfactory conclusion.

A timid but excellent Methodist minister had been defied by a semi-infidel of some abilities and great pretensions, backed by others like himfself,—defied, I say, to prove the doctrines of a personal Devil, and a real, local Hell; and the day was fixed for the exposition. The brother, fearing his want of ability, posted off something like a day’s journey for Gill. The old man clambered into the wagon and went without gainsaying. He referred to no books or authorities, but his mind excogitated the subject by the way. On arriving at the place, he met the congregation almost immediately, and preached on one of the topics at once ; and, after a brief interval* again on tho remaining one. What his line of argument was, I do not certainly know, but it was satisfactory to the hearers, and put a quietus on the champion who had “defied the armies of the living God;’’ for there was none to move his tongue by way of response.

We might remark, in connection with this incident, that he was very fond of dwelling on invisible things—such as Heaven, God, and Angels; and also Devils and the infernal regions.

"The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels,” was a favorite text with him. He often took those portions of Scripture which speak of “thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers,” which led him to speak of the probable ranks and orders of spiritual beings. He would, too, dwell on the nature, powers, and employments of those heavenly existences. While dwelling on these and kindred subjects, after exhausting every proof from Scripture and analogy, he would often say, in his broad, North-of-Ireland accent, “We may now, perhaps, be permitted to venture a little into the raygions of conjecture.” Then would follow some of the most unique speculations that ever mortal propounded. Still we must say in justice to him, that though he certainly was a little inclined to bold speculation, by times, he never advanced any thing heterodox, and never neglected the practical. The generality of his sermons were highly spiritual, and well adapted to subserve the interests of serious godliness. He knew how to S3arch the “ inmost of the mind.” A sermon we heard from him “on conscious integrity,” from the well known text—u Beloved if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things. But if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God, and shall assure our hearts before him”—was of this character. He himself possessed a truly elevated soul, and knew how to satirize the meanness of wrong actions. We remember his putting a damper on a litigious spirit, in a sermon by comparing the people’s complaints to the preacher in charge, as resembling the conduct of children running to the “ master” with tales against each other.

Prepared to preach he always seemed to be. Convince him at any time of day, or night, or in any place, that his services were needed in this respect, and he was ready to go about it, on two minute’s warning. Gill was the most acceptable supply which the writer could send to one of his town stations when he was absent, although the congregation and society were very select and embraced a large proportion of well informed people. Sometimes they would propose some difficult text to him—perhaps it might be only a quarter of an hour before the time of preaching, and say, “ We should be glad to hear you on it the next time you come.” After thinking of it a minute or two, he would say, in his usually measured' way,—"I-dori't-care-if-l-take-it-tonight,”—on which he would go into the pulpit and preach them a profound and finished discourse. Every thing seemed finished that fell from his lips. He never wrote a line of his sermons, yet few spoke as correctly. His style was classically pure and elegant. I never knew a speaker who used the period so much. His sentences rolled out clear, complete, and round as a coach-wheel. There were never any tags at the end of them.

We have already referred to his poetical talents. On this subject we set up for no judge, yet we know he wrote a vast number of pieces, on many different subjects, both grave and gay, which struck us as very beautiful. We once drew up & prospectus for an intended volume of his poetry, with the hope of preserving his effusions and of helping the author ; but we found the expense of the undertaking more than the subscription list would warrant us to incur. We fear the most of it is now lost, excepting some of those printed elegies, which were framed in the houses of the surviving friends of the subjects of them. We present one little relic from his Muse—an acrostic:—

“double acrostic.
“Jehovah reigns! Let angel hosts adore;
On his perfections gaze forevermore.
H-is boundless love extends thro' earth and sky
N-ought can escape his all discerning eye.
B-lest are the servants of our Sovereign Lord,
E-xpression fails to paint their great reward :
U-pheld by Him, who sits enthroned in light,
L-ost to the utmost stretch of mortal sight;
A-ll dispensations from his hand are good—
H-elp comes from Him who rules the swelling flood.
C-ontentment, here erect thy peaceful seat!
A-nd. let these faithful hearts in union beat!
R-efining fires within their bosoms glow!
R-eturning seasons new delights bestow.
O-bedient to the voice of love divine,
L-ight in eternal splendor on them shines,
L-ife everlasting, to each I say, Be thine!"

Distance from him at the time of his death prevents the writer from knowing much of the circumstances under which lie left the world, but as he was one of the purest of mortals, we have no doubt that this child of loss and want has taken his flight to that Heaven of which lie delighted so much to speak on earth, and to join in those celestial employments which were, while here below, so often the subject of his pious meditation.

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