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various ways, have they given ardor to holy activity, and multiplied the power of divine truth; while the church below unites with the church above in glorifying God in them.”—p. 252.
We know not how to omit the tribute the author has paid to noble specimens of female character, as displayed in some of the wives and mothers of the missionaries. But he, who would enjoy the pleasure of knowing it, must read the book.
We can follow the author no further. As we have already said, we expect the book to be generally read, and to do a vast amount of good. We most earnestly desire it may. The cause of missions needs it. This is painfully true with our own church. The present is with us a crisis. The destiny of the Baptist denomination in America is yet to be decided. Like our national character, it is yet to be formed. Nothing, after the direct ministrations of the pulpit, will do so much to make us like the primitive churches, as a universal missionary spirit and effort. And besides this, the salvation of the heathen, of millions of immortal beings, who, if we slumber on this subject, will go down to eternal death, demands of us, as Christians, as redeemed sinners, to muster our forces, to offer up our prayers, and to make an offering of our treasures. Yea, God's glory demands it. "Herein is my Father glorified," says Christ, "that ye bear much fruit."
We have found no suitable place to speak of the mechanical execution of the work. The reputation of the publishers needs not our recommendation. If so, they should have it, not only in consequence of the correctness and neatness of this work, but, of many a similar one which has greeted our eyes from their press.
LIFE OF WILLBUR FISK, D. D.
The Life of WILLBUR FISK, D. D., First President of the Wesleyan University. By JOSEPH HOLDICH. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1842. pp. 455. 8vo.
DR. FISK came upon the stage of public life at the beginning of a transitional period, so to speak, of the American Methodists, a period, suited to arouse to activity the talents of a leader; and such he seemed destined to be. There was a mutuality here, such as often occurs in the providence of God, and in the affairs of men. Exigencies demanded a man of peculiar endowments; and the man of such endowments was called out by those exigencies. Just at the time when he appeared, exactly such a person was needed. A right direction, at that crisis, was eminently important to the future character, position, activity and influence of the denomination. It was a transitional period among them, both in reference to the cause of education and of missions. For although the missionary work among the North American Indians had been, as it were, thrown into their hands, some years earlier, the missionary spirit never reached them, as a body, nor was any enthusiasm created among them in respect to the evangelization of the world, until the commencement of their operations in Africa (1832) and among the Flatheads (1834). And notwithstanding it is said, on page 218, that the advancement of the cause of education among the Methodists " was not owing so much to any essential change of views, as to a change of circumstances," we are more disposed to credit the statement of Dr. Fisk himself, on p. 301-" speaking of the slow progress of the cause (of education) in general, and in particular of the difficulty of obtaining funds for the Wesleyan University, he remarked in a letter to Rev. C. A. Richardson, - something must be done, or we are thrown into the background as a denomination. Our people are not half awake.' Dr. Fisk stood in a higher position than any of his brethren,
in respect to the cause of education. And his zeal and energy stirred the whole church on the subject of missions. He offered himself personally to undertake the mission to Liberia ; and publicly affirmed that, if he were young, and healthy, and unencumbered, he would joyfully carry the gospel to the Indians of Oregon. The exhibition of such a spirit gave him a high rank among his people. Those who looked up to him for guidance felt, that such a spirit of self-sacrificing benevolence as these things indicated, was a sufficient guaranty for the goodness of the cause in which it was exhibited. His acts stood with them in the place of an argument.
The memoir before us is a thoroughly denominational production. It was, doubtless, designed to be such, and, as such, it ought to be judged. It was not prepared for another denomination of Christians, nor for a merely literary life. We have no right to be offended with the author, that he has made a book for his own people, pregnant with Methodism on every page. We cannot reasonably complain, that he holds out the banners of his sect to every breeze, never suffering us to forget, for a moment, to what body his subject belonged, with what body he is himself identified. He had a perfect right to do as he has done; and, in the spirit of Christian reviewers, we are to judge of his performance with all charity. We have no Procrustean bed, to whose dimensions all authors must be made to conform. We would rather let men operate in their own way, and stretch themselves, according to their own measure, on whatever theme they write. We shall thus get a more perfect view of all departments. Having gained the best information from every source, we can arrange it to our own taste, and use it, when opportunity requires, for our pleasure or profit.
Agreeably to what has been said, the volume contains, in connection with the memoir, a brief history of education among the Methodists, of the Wesleyan Seminary, at Wilbraham, Mass., and the Wesleyan University, at Middletown, Con., with a passing notice of other literary institutions; a short narrative of the more recent Methodist missions; occasional defences of the peculiarities of Methodism, especially of the doctrine of perfection, or sanctification, and of the Methodist church-polity; and, by means of correspondence, or through casual remarks, it introduces to our acquaintance
VOL. VII.-NO. XXVII.
many of the most eminent ministers of the denomination, and gives us often an insight into their peculiar qualities and characteristic habits. Though not distinguished by any brilliancy of thought or expression, the book is in a good, straight-forward style. The author evidently wrote without any ambition to bring himself into notice. He has used his materials, as a biographer should do, in such a manner as to give the reader as full a view as possible of the subject whom he designs to portray. Most of the casual topics which he introduces, are inserted simply as presenting to the public some new feature of his hero, or to defend some of his acts and opinions, on the ground of what he himself supposes to be right. This can be hardly said, however, of the defence of the system of itinerancy, as involving and aiding the qualifications of their preachers (pp. 51-54), the exposition of churchpolity (pp. 144-147), and of one or two other passages. The letters of Dr. F. on the subject of Christian perfection, or sanctification, together with the occasional introduction of an editorial remark, by way of vindication, we may be allowed to say, strike us as designed, not simply to exhibit the light which shone from the man, but also to illuminate, in the peculiar tenets of Methodism, all that read. The question occurred to us perpetually in reading them, 'Are they introduced as the best specimens of Dr. Fisk's correspondence ;or are they selected, in view of the probable circulation of the volume, where controversial treatises would not be read, as an argument by the way, ad captandos lectores?' But perhaps we had no right to meddle with such a question, or to conjecture the probable answer.
WILLBUR FISK was born at Brattleborough, Vt., August 31, 1792. His parents were both pious. He exhibited, in his early years, great precocity of mind, and aptitude at learning. At the age of eleven or twelve years, "he would frequently rise at three or four o'clock in the morning, that he might have time to pursue his studies before the family was up. When he went into the fields to work, it was his general practice to carry a book in his pocket, wherewith to improve his leisure moments. It was often his lot to attend to the fire of a lime-kiln ; and more than once he was so absorbed in his book as to let the fire go out. As it was some distance from the house, to save the time of going to dinner, he would some
times open a potato-hill, and washing the contents in a brook, roast them in the kiln for his meal. Thus he satisfied at once his physical and his intellectual appetite." "Of the character of his reading at this time, some glimpse was incidentally afforded at a subsequent period. When it was proposed to introduce Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History into the University course of studies, Dr. Fisk remarked, 'I first read that book while attending a lime-kiln on my father's farm.'
His early literary advantages were very slender. From the age of seven to sixteen, he scarcely attended school altogether more than two or three years. In his seventeenth year, it began to be apparent, from the feebleness of his constitution, that he was ill adapted to the business of a farmer, to which his father had devoted himself. Besides, his thirst for knowledge made him dissatisfied with his existing situation; hence, in the winter of 1808-9, he was sent to the county grammar school, where he continued for a season, and afterwards returned to the labors of the field. In 1810, he was once more at the school for six weeks, and in the succeeding winter, he taught a district school.
The silent but efficient influence of good schools is apparent in the manner in which he was first led to cherish the idea of obtaining a college education. He says:
"Ever since I was at the grammar school the first time, I was more dissatisfied and uneasy than before. I had got a keener relish for study, had seen many fitting for the University, and had learned at least some of the names of the sciences; and I had an ardent desire to give up all for this pursuit. But my father's circumstances were such as would not authorize him to undertake my support through a course of study. However, I found that many young men without property made shift to support themselves mostly by their own exertions; and having, by much entreaty, gained my father's consent to make the attempt, I began my Latin grammar in May, 1811."
In August, 1812, he entered the sophomore class in the University at Burlington, Vt. But in the course of the war with Great Britain, the college buildings having been taken for barracks for a portion of the army in the winter of 1813, young Fisk removed his connection to Brown University, where he graduated with honor at the commencement in 1815.
His earliest abiding religious impressions occurred in the eleventh year of his age. His convictions of sin were very