« PreviousContinue »
time afterwards, with a view to prepare the rising generation for continuing the works which their fathers had begun, and to give an opportunity of acquiring useful information, he commenced the plan of devoting two hours every other Thursday morning to a familiar lecture on the subjects of agriculture and of useful science.
Such, indeed, was his assiduity, that not a year rolled away in which some astonishing improvement was not effected in the condition or the morals of his people ; and the surrounding districts beheld with admiration the rapid progress that civilization was continually making, in the once neglected and apparently forsaken Steinthal.
WHILE Oberlin was thus zealous in encouraging the progress of agriculture, and in forining his people to habits of industry, he 'attended with equal solicitadeto what related more immediately to his pastoral functions, as the following address to his parishioners, on the commencement of the New Year, 1779, bears ample testimony.
" JANUARY 1, 1779.
“ And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, 1 make all
things new.”— Rev. xxi. 5.
“ Through the grace of God we have entered upon a new year. Oh! that it may be new with respect to our sins, our sufferings, and the temptations with which we may have to combat.
“ As to sins, may their number diminish day by day, and may we be more constantly animated, and governed, by the spirit of our Lord Je-, sus Christ. As to sufferings and tribulations, may they produce the effect which God designs in sending them, namely, that of detaching our affections from this transitory world, and of rendering us attentive to his will and Word. May they quicken us to prayer, and induce us to strive more earnestly to enter in at the strait gate, and to press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling.' And, as to the temptations which may be placed in our way, may we live entirely to Jesus Christ, and maintain constant communion with him, in order that we may receive, from time to time, fresh supplies of grace and strength to resist them, and be enabled to bring forth fruits of righteousness, to the glory of God, and to the honor of his Holy Gospel. O Lord, be thou pleased, with the renewal of the year, to renew our
strength. O Lord Jesus Christ, thou hast said,
I make all things new,' Oh, make our faith new also.
May this year be marked by a more lively, more deep, and more serious repentance ; by greater fervor in supplicating the influences of God's Holy Spirit; by renewed earnestness in devoting ourselves to Him, and to his service. May we look to Him, and employ all our mental and bodily powers, our time, and our property, to his glory, and to the purpose for which Jesus quitted his throne, namely, the conversion and happiness of mankind. Oh, may we, this year, apply ourselves, with renewed faithfulness, to obey all his commandments, and all his precepts.
“May this year be distinguished by an increase of the number of the children of God, and of the followers of Jesus Christ ; by the weakening of the kingdom of Satan within us, and by the coming of the kingdom of God.
“May we, not only during the present, but, also, during each succeeding year which God shall grant us in this probationary world, become more and more prepared for a blessed eternity - abound more in prayers of intercession and supplication - shed more tears of penitence, contrition, love, and pity — and perform more
good works, in order that we may reap an abundant harvest on that day, when God, through Jesus Christ, shall make all things new.?"
The instruction of the young also engaged, in an especial manner, a large portion of Oberlin's care and attention. When he entered on his charge, in 1767, the only regular schoolhouse in the five villages, was Stouber's hut, which, having been constructed of unseasoned wood, was in a most miserable and ruinous condition. His parishioners were, however, very averse to his proposition of erecting a more convenient one; and, instead of feeling grateful for the benefit he intended to confer on their children, complained that, notwithstanding their extreme poverty, he wished to burden them with fresh expenses; alleging, that as the old hut had answered very well hitherto, they were sure it would do for a long time to come. He had no other way of silencing their objections, than by entering into a formal engagement with the overseers of the commune, that neither the expense of building, nor of repairing the projected school-house, though erected for the public good, should ever become chargeable on the parish funds. Had he not made this stipulation, he would have found in the parents themselves the most obstinate enemies of his plans for the happiness of their children.
He then applied to some of his benevolent friends at Strasbourg, for assistance in defraying the expenses of the erection. But though the money, thus collected, was by no means sufficient for the purpose, and his own little property and narrow income (not exceeding two hundred dollars) scarcely admitted of his prudently embarking in any undertaking which involved pecuniary responsibility, he resolved to commence it ; for neither personal considerations, nor the fear of being unable to meet contingent expenses, ever deterred him from putting into execution schemes of usefulness. He had an unbounded confidence in the goodness of his heavenly Father, and was convinced, as he often said, that if he asked for any thing with faith, and it was really right that the thing should take place, it would infallibly be granted to his prayers. — “When, indeed, are our plans more likely to succeed, than when we enter upon them in humble and simple dependence upon God, whose blessing alone can render them successful ?
The event afforded a fresh evidence of this truth. Not only was the projected building completed without material injury to his own slender finances, but, in the course of a few years, a school-house was erected in each of the