Page images

views; let him with the zeal and energy of Oberlin unite his discretion also ; and he cannot fail to exert an extensive, wholesome, and visible influence. He cannot, he ought not, like that moun. tain pastor of a semi-barbarous people, take the lead in all affairs, secular and economical, as well as moral; but he may and he ought to labor in all ways and without intermission to increase the means and excite the desire of improvement. By a paternal interest in the schools, by care in securing the best teachers and the best books, by cherishing libraries, lyceums, and associations for mutual improvement, by introducing and countenancing rational recreations and watching -for opportunities to elevate the tastes and pursuits of the people, he may render it certain that society will make progress. And if spared to a long ministry, may find himself at last surrounded by a generation which will owe its character, social as well as religious, to his paternal and fostering care.

Oberlin's life is full of instruction on another point. Those who are entering the ministry,

full of the ardor and ambition of youth, need to be reminded like other young men, that all true honor lies in the faithful discharge of duty,

not in the place that one occupies, or the worldly advantages that attend him; and that however one station may seem in the eyes of men more respectable and desirable than another; in the sight of God, and in the judgment of Christian principle, the lowest is highest and the last first, if it have been best filled with duty. When we see Oberlin refusing the posts of honor which awaited him in the polite settlements of France, and resolutely retreating from the confines of civilization, that he might devote himself to the lost sheep of the mountains; we should learn to be ashamed of that love of ease and personal indulgence which causes us to cling around the luxuries and comforts of home, reluctant to sacrifice our early associations and attachments for the sake of ministering to the needy and preaching the gospel in by-places. The example of Oberlin may persuade us what a rich reward lies in those unfrequented paths; and how beautifully God compensates the disinterested laborer, for sacrifices which a worldly mind would esteem insupportable.. It is remarkable, that even Oberlin's fame (a reward which he never dreamt of obtaining), has been owing to his choice of a remote and obscure field of labor. It shows the

[ocr errors]

power of active benevolence to change the humblest sphere into a place of distinction.

What a rebuke to the toiling aspirants after fame, that while they anxiously spend life in vain endeavours to rise, this unambitious pastor, hidden in the mountains from public view, and with no object in life but the glory of God and the welfare of man, has snatched from them the very prize for which they were contending.

But we must not suffer ourselves to be drawn too strongly to these secondary considerations. The secular benefits which attended the ministry of this excellent man, and the reputation which followed it, were but the incidental consequences of his sacrifices and toils. They did not prompt them. It was his zeal for his religion, and his desire to make men partakers of its blessings, which incited him. And that man altogether deceives himself, who fancies that any inferior power to this religious principle is able to create that disinterestedness of spirit, that abandonment of self, that readiness to spend and be spent, which ought to mark the Christian minister, and without which his service will be a burden to him. It is this principle of religion, inwrought into the character, actuating the whole life, which alone

can originate and support a continued, patient, self-sacrificing philanthropy, proof against discouragement, fatigue, and disgust, and happy in proportion to its toils. Such love to man can grow only from love to God. It belongs to men, who, like Oberlin, live for heaven more than for earth, in whose estimation the spiritual life is the only life, whose ambition is to be like Christ going about to do good, and to help in building up the purity and bliss of his kingdom. May the perusal of these Memoirs help to form such men.



Tas peculiar delight with which the writer perused the interesting article respecting John Frederic Oberlin, in the Eclectic Review for October, 1827, first induced her to think of compiling a more extended memoir of that extraordinary man; and she considers it only due to sincerity to make this acknowledgment, as, the following pages contain much of M. Lutteroth's “Notice," there translated by Mr. Conder's abler pen.

The facility with which she has been enabled to carry her design into execution, through the kindness of several individuals who readily supplied her with valuable documents and papers relative to the subject, claims her most cordial thanks to those respected friends.

She is particularly obliged to P. J. Heisch, Esq., a friend of long standing in Oberlin's family, and a gentleman distinguished by his many benevolent exertions in this his adopted country, for



« PreviousContinue »