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THE CHRISTIAN'S ARMORY.
OCTOBER, 1806. [No. 5. VOL. II.
MR. EDWARD BROMFIELD, JUN.
THE following biographical sketch of Mr. EDWARD BROMFIELD, jun. is from the pen of the Rev. THOMAS PRINCE, formerly minister of the Old South church in Boston, a man of integrity, learning, and piety. We are happy in rescuing from obscurity the memory of a man, who, though he died at the early age of TWENTY THREE YEARS, lived long enough to discover that he possessed genius and talents, which would have adorned any country, in any age. That his surprising talents would have been devoted to the glory of his Maker, and the good of his fellow-men, had his life been prolonged, there is the best reason to believe, as they were sanctified by religion, and under the government of a pious heart.
Boston, Nov. 30, 1746. and died at his father's house, Aug. 18, 1746, to the deep reluctance of all who knew him.
From his childhood he was thoughtful, calm, easy, modest, of tender affections, dutiful to his superiors, and kind to all about him. As he grew up, these agreeable qualities ripened in him; and he appeared very ingenious, observant, curious, penetrating; especially in the works of nature, in mechanical contrivances and manual operations, which increased upon his studying the mathematical sciences, as also in searching into the truths of divine revelation, and into the nature of genuine experimental piety.
His genius first appeared in the accurate use of his pen; drawing natural landscapes and images of men and other ani
mals, &c. making himself a master of the famous Weston's short hand in such perfection, as he was able to take down every word of the Professor's lectures in the college hall, sermons in the pulpit, and testimonies, pleas, &c. in Courts of Judicature. As he grew in years, with a clear, sedate, unprejudiced and most easy way of thinking, he greatly improved in knowledge, and therewith a most comely sweet ness, prudence, tenderness and modesty, graced all his conversa tion and improvements in the eyes of all about him.
As monuments of his extraordinary industry and ingenuity; in two or three minutes view, I see he has left in his study, (1) Maps of the earth in its various projections drawn with his pen in a most accurate manner, finer than I have ever seen the fike from plates of copper. (2) A number of curious Dials made with his own hands: One of which is a Triangular Octodecimal; having about its center eighteen triangular planes, with their hour lines and styles, standing on a pedestal, though unfinished. (3) A number of Optical and other mechanical instruments of his own inventing and making; the designs and uses of which are not yet known. (4) A considerable number of Manuscripts, of his own writing; containing extracts out of various authors, with his own pious meditations and self-reflections; though almost all in short hand, with many characters of his own devising, and hard to be deciphered. (5) As he was well skilled in Music, he for exercise and recreation, with his own hands, has -made a most accurate Organ,
with two rows of keys and many hundred pipes; his intention being twelve hundred, but died before he completed it. The workmanship of the keys and pipes surprisingly nice and curious, exceeding any thing of the kind that ever came here from England; which he designed, not merely to refresh his spirits, but with harmony to mix, enliven and regulate his vocal and delightful songs to his great Creator, Preserver, Benefactor and Redeemer. He thought the Author of nature and music, does, by his early choristers of the air, with which the day-spring rises, teach us to awake with them, and begin our morning exercise with grateful hymns of joy and praises to him. And what is surprising was, that he had but a few times looked into the inside work of two or three organs which came from England. (6) But what I would chiefly write of is, his clear knowledge of the properties of light, his vast improvement in making Microscopes, most accurately grinding the finest glasses; and thereby attaining to such wondrous views of the inside frames and works of nature, as I am apt to think that some of them at least have never appeared to mortal eye before. He carried his art and instruments to such a degree, as to make a great number of surprising discoveries of the various shapes and clusters contained in a variety of exceedingly minute particles of vegetables, insects, &c. as also of the yet smaller clusters which com posed the particles of those clusters, &c.that he seemed to be making haste to the sight of the Minima Naturalia, or the very
ainutest and original atoms of material substances..
In short, he could meet with no: curious piece of mechanism but he could readily see its deficiencies, make one like it, and happily improve. At one time, he told me, it seemed as if we might magnify almost unbound edly, or as far as the rays of light preserved their properties and could be visiblè. At another time, that he saw a way of bringe ing sun-beams in such a manner and number into a room in the coldest day of winter, as to make it as warm as he pleased, without any other medium.
.. Learnestly urged him to write down, delineate and publish his discoveries, for the instruction of men and glory of God: but his excessive modesty hindered him, and now they are gone without recovery...I can only relate a specimen or two which once he showed me, as follows.
The first of which I remember was, he put a small live louse in to his Microscope, and project ed, the shade on the wall, By the beating of the collected sun-beams on him through the glass, we presently saw his fluids boiling, and his muscular parts excited to universal, violent convulsions, which in • creased till he died in an in istant
The other, yet more wonder ful, I took down at the time in writing, viz. April 18, 1744, as follows. He put in the place thereof a mite of a cheese; and it projected a shade 216 half inches long, 120 half inches broad, and about as thick as broad.If the room had been 100 feet square, he could have
made the shade of the mite 100. feet in length, &c. He then put in its place a small particle of gutter water, about as long, broad, and thick again as the mite, and it projected a 'thin shade, which looked like a mighty lake, wherein were swimming with inimitable life and swiftness a number of extremely small animalcula, whose shade was but half an inch long, and about proportionably broad as in the mite, but less in thickness; by which I then computed thus.
By which we clearly see, that 25,920 of those half inch animalcula could lie side by side on the back of that one mite; and that 3,110,400 of them to gether would not make a body so large as his.
We also saw the animalcula overcome with the collected heat of the sun beams, and die in struggles; before which their motion was so extremely swift, our sight was unable to define their dimensions with any exact
This observing young gentleman told me, that about a fortnight before, or the beginning of April, when these animalcula were so much nearer their fœtal state, they were so small as at the same distance to project a shade of but a tenth of an inch
in length; by which I then computed thus.
The shade of the mite
108 inches, i. e. 1080 decimals of inches long
60 inches, i, e. 600 decimals of inches broad
648,000 square dec
imals of inches superficies 600 decimals of
$88,800,000 decimal cubes in the whole.
By this we may see, that 648,000 of those decimal animalcula could lie side by side on the back of the mite; and that 388,800,000 of them in a heap together would not amount to the bigness of his single body.. Yea, as the half inch animalcula, and consequently the decimals, were not half so thick in proportion as the mite, it would take up more than double of those cubical numbers to equal his body.
Marvellous are the works of God! Yea, they are honourable and glorious, as the inspired writer tells us; and therefore sought out by all those that have pleasure therein.
By the observations above, especially considering he could ea sily have magnified the shade of the mite to above a hundred feet, yea, in a manner unboundedly, &c. methinks I can easily conceive, how all the children of men from Adam, might, in their original stamina, be enclosed in their parental stamina; and so in the loins of their primitive ancestor be actually united to him, as his living members, at the time of the first transgres
sion, and therein contract a contamination with him.*. ・・
But those observations served to convince me of what the wonderful Sir Isaac Newton has sagaciously premonished; that upon the improvement of microscopes, material substances would appear so transparent, as to prevent our perfect discovery of them.
These are but two or three instances of the many entertaining discoveries of this extraor dinary youth, who I doubt not has now the discerning powers of angels; capable of seeing without instruments or rays, even the finest parts of material substances, with all their created: beauties and the wondrous operations of their Maker in them; and yet entertained with sublim-: er views. As there was such a conjunction of ingenuity and piety in him as is rarely seen among the sons of men; so his ingenuity sanctified, became an instrument to promote his piety; either to advance his knowledge and veneration of God, or help excite, and fit to adore, serve and honour him. In a very tender and weakly body, he had an indefatigable soul, was a wonderful redeemer of time, and the above were some of his recreating exercises, which he made subservient to the glory of God, when he found it needful to divert from his intenser stu-: dies of divine Revelation, and his own conformity to his Crea
*. The reader will consider these as the philosophical, speculations of the Rev. Mr. Prince, for the correctness of which the editors do not hold themselves responsible.
tor, Sanctifier and Saviour; to the latter of which, he, by divine grace, was turned in an eminent manner about six years ago. Since which happy change within him, nothing seemed to engage his soul and draw his attention so much as the study of Christ, that most admirable person, above all created beings, and the most wondrous work of redemption in its various progressive branches, from their first original to their eternal
consummation. And could the key of his characters be perfect ly discovered, it is hoped a remarkable delineation might be al50 given of his experimental and active piety.
I would on this occasion beg the reader's patience for one observation more; viz. that as besides the moral qualities of serenity, kindness, prudence, gentleness and modesty, displaying in his very countenance; there appeared especially in the air and look of his eyes the strongest signatures of a curious and accurate genius, that I remember ever to have seen from this and other remarks in others, I am apt to think, that even every quality of the human mind, and even in their various measures, may, by the operation of God, at least, become even visible in the human countenance and eye to near spectators; and as the appearance of the evil qualities of malice, madness, rage, &c. among the damned, will eternally excite their mutual horror; so the amiable excellencies of the saints in light, and above them all, of the most glorious Son of God, will eternally blaze out in the countenance and eye,
to their perfect and perpetual pleasure and admiration. THOMAS PRINCE.
LIFE OF SARAH PORTERFIELD.
Written by a female friend from her own lips.*
I was born in Ireland, in the county of Donegal, in the parish of Raphoe, Aug. 13, 1722. I had pious parents, who instructed me in the Christian religion, and set good examples before me. When I was about 11 years: old, I trust God was pleased to effect a work of divine grace in my soul. After my first experience of the truth of the gospel, I was for some time left in the dark, and greatly feared that my change was not real. At length, I was brought to see that I had neglected a duty in not giving. myself up to the Lord in a public manner. Being about seventeen years old, an opportunity presented, and I offered myself for examination to the church in Rapha, of which the Rev. DaThe vid Farley was pastor. church, after examination, saw fit to receive me into their com munion, and I cannot but hope God was pleased, at that time, to grant, me tokens of his saving love. A blessed season it was to me. I sat under his banner with delight, and his fruit was Never before sweet to my taste, were such clear discoveries made to my soul of the love of Christ,
terfield, by a judicious friend, that she was for many years an ornament to the church in Georgetown, Maines and died much esteemed by her Christian acquaintance.