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all of whom were brought up under the paternal roof.*
On the 18th of January, 1784, it pleased God that an event should take place, which had a most powerful influence both upon the cast of his mind and the whole of his future life. This was the loss of his wife, She died rather suddenly, about ten weeks after her last confinement. No unfavorable symptoms, no incipient disease had prepared Oberlin for this distressing separation. When first informed of it, he was so much overpowered as to remain for some moments plunged in the deepest silence, and unable to give utterance to his feelings. At length, after this interval of melancholy stupor, he was observed suddenly to fall on his knees and return thanks to God, that the object of his tenderest solicitude was now beyond the reach or the need of prayer, and that He had crowned
*“I knew Oberlin,” says Mr. Heisch, as the playfellow and instructer of his children when they were young, and as their friend and counsellor when they arrived at years of maturity. In the character of instructer, he so well knew how to mingle affection with earnestness, and even with severity when requisite, that his children both loved and respected him; and in that of a friend, there was an endearing tenderness that not only constituted their happiness, but formed also a constant stimulus to their exertions."
the abundance of his mercies towards her, by giving her so easy and gentle a dismissal. He has himself commemorated, in a written fragment, which will be inserted in a future part of this memoir, the emotions by which he was agitated in these moments of bitter suffering. this occasion," he says, “as upon a thousand others in the course of my life, notwithstanding my overwhelming affliction, I was upheld by God's gracious assistance, in a remarkable manner.”
From that time the passive graces shone as conspicuously in his character as the active virtues had hitherto done. Neither complaint nor murmur escaped his lips. It might be said that he had not ceased to live in the society of the Christian wife whom he had lost. Every day he devoted whole hours to holding communion with her in those abstracted frames of mind, which make us almost imagine ourselves in the presence of those whom we love. A speedy reunion in the mansions of our Father's house, was, nevertheless, one of his most cherished desires. “I hope," he would often say, “that the world in which God will reunite me to my beloved wife will soon open to me.”
This desire had nothing of a transitory character; it was not the mere result of acute grief, nor the effect of any habitual melancholy. Although his sorrows might have contributed to strengthen it, it had its origin in a religious feeling. Like St. Paul, he desired to depart to be with Christ, which to him was far better. He longed to be able to unite his voice with hers he had lost, in singing the song of the Lamb, and to participate in that “fulness of joy,” which “God hath prepared for those who love him.” “I have had all my life," he says, in the paper to which allusion has been already made, and which was written the very year he lost his wife, “a desire, occasionally a very strong one, to die, owing in some degree, to the consciousness of my moral infirmities, and of my frequent derelictions. My affection for my wife and children, and my attachment to my parish, have sometimes checked this desire, though for short intervals only.”
These few words seem to lay open the very secret of his soul. While he was blasting rocks, levelling roads, building bridges, fertilizing fields, improving the morals and promoting the happiness of his flock, the expressions just cited, prove what was the moving principle by which he was actuated. That which induced him to become the benefactor of these districts that which led him to devote so much time to
the prosecution of his plans, was the everpresent thought of death and eternity; and the habitual remembrance of the responsibility attached to talents, and to opportunities of usefulness. He knew that his soul would be required of him; he desired that it might be so speedily; and, in order that he might hear the joyful sound, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” he dedicated every faculty he possessed to the interests of others, living himself by faith in the Son of God, and resting entirely on his propitiation.
His patience and resignation, not only under this, but under every other affliction that it pleased God to award to him during the whole couse of his life, was striking and exemplary. After the first bitterness of grief was over, his soul always seemed “ to be girding itself up,” and, as it were, "stretching its wings” in expectation of that joyful period when it should leave mortality behind, and soar to the regions of everlasting blessedness— to join the innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly and church of the first born.” «Millions of times,” he continues, in the paper mentioned above, “have I besought God to enable me to surrender myself with entire and filial submission to his will, either to live or to die : and
to bring me into such a state of resignation, as neither to wish, nor to say, nor to do, nor to undertake any thing, but what He, who only is wise and good, sees to be best.”
The following extract from a letter which he wrote to a lady, who had been tried by many successive bereavements, in the hope of convincing her that such dispensations are permitted, to strengthen our graces, and to promote our spiritual refinement, will illustrate his lively faith and fervent piety, as well as the simple and original mode in which he was accustomed to pour out the language of his heart in epistolary converse. 6 I have before me two stones, which are in imitation of precious stones. They are both perfectly alike in color; they are of the same water, clear, pure, and clean; yet there is a marked difference between them, as to their lustre and brilliancy. One has a dazzling brightness, while the other is dull, so that the eye passes over it, and derives no pleasure from the sight. What can be the reason of such a difference ? It is this. The one is cut but in a few facets; the other has ten times as many. These facets are produced by a very violent operation ; it is requisite to cut, to smooth, and polish. Had these stones been endued with life, so as to have been capable of feeling what