Page images

natives of the same place. Of the one of his hands was disengaged, it early history of his family, but lit- was occupied with a book. Ву tle is known. It may, however, these habits of incessant application, be observed, that his father was at- he very early acquired a stock of tached to the military service, and valuable though miscellaneous inrose to distinction in the then Co- | formation, which, combined with lonial army. He died whilst his strong powers of original thinking, son was an infant.

seemed in youth to mark him out The family of his mother was re for unusual eminence. markable for talent. She was one At this time, the advantages of of eleven sisters, all of whom were | education were much less extendistinguished for unusual acquire- sively enjoyed in New-England ments, and for powerful intellect. than at present. Schools were more She was also a woman of eminent rare, and the mode of instruction piety; and it is to her early instruc- palpably defective. As a proof of tions that the church of Christ is this, it need only be remarked, that indebted for much of the usefulness when Dr. Baldwin removed to Caof that son, whom from a child she naan, N. H. where he afterwards brought up in the nurture and ad- resided, he was generally selected monition of the Lord.

on the Sabbath to read a sermon to It cannot be expected that much the people who assembled for pubshould be recollected of the early lic worship, because he was the onhistory of a man, who has outlived ly young man in the town who was so many of the companions of his sufficiently educated to perform this childhood. So far as any thing, service acceptably. The mention however, can be known, the traits of this fact is sufficient to show how of character for which he was in strong must have been his early bimanhood remarkable were very || as towards intellectual improveearly developed. From very infan- ment. cy, his temper was noticed for its It will tend to show how soon unruffled serenity. His mother the most striking traits of his charused to observe, that never did she acter were exhibited, if we add, but in one single instance know that those who knew Dr. Baldwin him to betray any signs of impa- | in youth have remarked, that he tience; and when on this occasion was then peculiarly noticed for the she expressed her surprise, he in- sprightliness of his wit. Though stantly replied, “ Mother, I am not always innocent and always unofangry.”

fending, it was frequently pungent, Another trait for which his child- | and always in point. Those who hood was distinguished was love of were in the habits of familiar interjustice. Even in his boyish sports, | course with him, will well remember he was always the enemy of oppres-that rich vein of most playful good sion, controlling the strong and sup-humour, which was at times discovporting the weak.

And yet this erable until his latest day sway was exercised so mildly, that When Dr. Baldwin was about 16 among the playmates of his infancy years of age, his mother, who was be obtained the blessing of a peace-now the second time married to a maker.

very worthy and pious man by the He very early discovered a taste name of Eames, removed to Cafor reading. Not only did he de- naan, New Hampshire. He removed vote every leisure moment to the with the family; and this became improvement of his mind, but also for several years the place of his consecrated to this object the hours residence. The town was yet unof labour. Whenever his employ- settled, and the waggons which inents were of such a nature that transported their necessary baggage

were the first that ever traversed || afflicted widow, we shall make no the forest. Mr. Eames was by trade apology for introducing it at once a blacksmith, and to this business, to our readers. We do this with as is usual in the early periods of a the greater pleasure, not only besettlement, he added another, that cause, in a very simple dress, it of a miller; and if we mistake not, presents some of the most interestthat also of a carpenter. In these ing events in the religious history of labours he was assisted by his step- its much beloved author, but also son, who until his marriage lived because it gives us an unusually constantly at home, enduring the vivid idea of the manners and cushardships and sustaining the priva-toms of that part of New-England tions peculiar to early settlers. at the time of our revolutionary con

At the age of 22, on the 22d of test. The autograph Memoir comSeptember, 1775, he was married | mences as follows :to Miss Ruth Huntington, of Nor 6 In the year 1780, I have reason wich, Conn. with whom he was hap- | to hope I was brought to the saving pily united until her death, Feb. knowledge of the truth. The meth11, 1812.

ods by which this change was efThe town of Canaan was rapidly | fected I will endeavour to state with peopled by emigrants from Connec-| as much particularity as may be ticut and Massachusetts. Before necessary in this place. he was 30, Dr. Baldwin was elected 6 Before I proceed, I would, to represent it in the General Court. however, just remark, that I have Of his reputation as a legislator we no reason to believe that I had ever have no certain information. It is been the subject of such religious evident, however, that his success impressions as many others have was such as to gratify his constitu- during my early years. I had in. ents; for they repeatedly re-elected deed a general conviction of the rehim. If we mistake not, they did ality of revealed religion, and that not cease to choose him,until, feeling | I had no lot nor part in it. When, the importance of his ministerial | however, my conscience accused labours, he had decidedly expressed me of living without God and withhis determination to serve as a leg- out hope in the world, I was usuislator no longer.

ally able to pacify it by promises of We are happy to have arrived at future amendment, or by recurring a period in this Memoir, at which to the plea of inability. Often when we are enabled to refer to a manu I had spent an evening until a late script written by Dr. Baldwin him-hour in mirth and dancing, when I self, during the few last years of his came to lay my head upon my pil. life. It commences with the rela- low, the thought of sudden death tion of the events connected with would intrude into my mind. Such his religious experience, and ab- questions as these would often force ruptly terminates with the time of themselves upon me : 66 What if his arrival in Boston. As it is num- ll you should die before morning ?” bered “ Memoir No. 2,” it is prob- | What if the judgment day should able that either the former part was come?" The answer was, “ I am written and has been irrecoverably unprepared for either.” These lost, or else that the author com thoughts at times caused me to menced with that part which most weep freely. But perhaps when deeply interested him, with the in- | the morning returned, all was fortention of completing the beginning | gotten. Although I resolved at at some other period. This narra some future time to be religious, tive comprises about ten years of | (for I supposed I could be religious his life ; and as it has been very at any time) yet I never fixed that kindly placed in our hands by his time as near at hand. There al


ways appeared some peculiar ob- fion, of his obligations to God, and stacles in the way, and some sinful of the consequences of disobedipropensities to be indulged, before ence, and yet live in wilful neglect I could think of being religious. of every duty; pursuing the course Thus I lived from year to year, in which he knows the Eternal God a state of awful security and forget- | has forbidden, because if he did fulness of God.

otherwise, man might laugh at him. “My conscience frequently ac Well did the Saviour say of such cused me of the sinfulness of my | men, “I know you


have heart and conduct ; but such were not the love of God in you ;” and the charms of pleasure, that I could aptly did he allude to one great not persuade myself to give them cause of their disobedience, in that úp. Yet while in this vain pursuit question, “ How can ye believe, after the pleasures of the world, I who receive honour one of another?" was often forced to serious reflec- || And we would ask, Do not the pretion. At times, I appeared to my: | ceding paragraphs delineate very self to be awfully hardened, and exactly the moral condition of many have thought, when walking or rid- of our readers, and of a very large ing alone on a dark evening, that portion of those who, with very reI really wished a light from heaven spectful attention, hear the gospel to shine around me as it did around every Sabbath day? But to resume Saul, when on his way to Damas- the narrative:

At other times, I have had 6 In the month of November, such a sense of my miserable con. || 1777, God in his holy providence dition, that I thought I should be was pleased to take from me my willing to suffer a severe fit of sick-first-born by death ; a dear little ness, if it might be the means of | son between six and seven months briøging me to God. These feel - l old. This painful event was renings were, however, only transient, dered more distressing, both to me and the moment they subsided, the and my dear companion, by the same rage for vanity would return. circumstance of my being absent

66 One reason which induced me ll at the time. ad left my family to be willing to suffer sickness or eight or ten drys before, all in usu some other calamity from the hand | al health; and when having accomof God, was, a foolish dread of plished my business, and returning what the world would say of me. home, was met by a friend, who - How," said I to myself, “ should informed me that my child was I become religious, could I hold up dead and buried. my head before any of my young 66 As oppressed with grief I rode companions, who might inquire silently homeward, the thought what was the occasion of my being struck me,- This is the voice of so dull.” I thought I could never God to call me to repentance. have fortitude enough to tell them || What excuse can I now have? UnI was concerned about my precious der the appearance of mourning for soul. What a pitiful excuse for my child, I may become religious, living in sin!"

and no one will know it. AccordHere we trust we shall be exca ingly I set myself about it, and for sed for interrupting for a moment the first time, attempted to pray in the course of this interesting nar- my family. I felt very solemn, and rative, to remark how simple and thought I was very sincere. I conaffecting a discovery is here made cluded I should never more yield of the depravity of the human heart, my heart to vanity as I had done and its total alienation from God. || before. My devotion was continWe see how a man can be perfect- ued morning and evening ; and I ly convinced of the reality of relig- I believe for the space of two or three

Several persons

weeks, I was never seen to smile. || no effect either upon my heart or I remember that once I felt much life. I was also fully aware that remorse, after having, in an un-Christians possessed something of guarded moment, been surprised which I was destitute. They told into laughter. At the same time of joys and sorrows which I had indulging serious reflections, I was

never felt. not unfrequently much affected. “In the month of September, But, alas! it was only the sorrow God in his holy providence sent of the world. The impression made two Baptist preachers into the town. upon my mind by the death of a They preached several lectures, darling babe, began gradually to and spent one Lord's-day in the wear away. In a little time my neighbourhood. seriousness was gone, and I return- | appeared greatly alarmed by their ed to my wonted cheerfulness and preaching. I thought they were gaiety.

good men, but too illiterate to edi" All that now remained of my fy me. I however felt very solemna seriousness that had the appearance ly under their preaching, and perof religion was, a mere lifeless for- | ceived that others felt yet more mality in prayer. I look back | than myself. Some professors of with shame and remorse to this pe- religion were very much aroused, riod of my life, when, notwithstand and several young persons were ing my constant but unmeaning | very deeply impressed." prayers, I lived in the eager pur

Dr. Baldwin proceeds to mention suit of the vanities of the world, the increased solemnity which restonly with perhaps a little more con- ed upon his mind whilst attending cealment than I had formerly done. several religious meetings, which I had early imbibed a thirst for hon- were held about this time in the our. I knew this could not be grat- neighbourhood. The narrative then ified without preserving a fair rep- continues: “In the evening there utation. But such was my love of was to be a conference at a private gay company, mirth and dancing, house. I attended. The meeting that I went as far as my respect for was opened by prayer; after which character would at all permit. Itwo persons came forward and told tremble to think of the temptations what God had done for their souls. and snares which then beset myOne of them, a sensible and well path. But for the restraining pow- informed man, gave a very striking er of a merciful God, I had certain-account of his conversion to God. ly been ruined.

Almost the whole assembly was in In the summer of 1780, my | tears. I felt very tenderly, but in mind became at times very uneasy.

a great measure refrained from I had serious thoughts about reli- | weeping. Soon, however, after gion, yet did not feel determined this a moving scene commenced. to set about it in earnest. I had a | A very pious man came, and falling decided conviction that there must down on his knees before me, adbe a change of heart, or all the out- dressed me as follows— Neighbour ward forms of religion would be Baldwin, can you forgive me, can unavailing. I would often ask my-ll you forgive me, that I have lived self, what is meant by being born so little like a Christian, and that I again? I remember once having have set no better an example beattempted to take refuge in this fore you!" I trembled like Felix, It is said, Whosoever believeth that and replied, “ I have nothing Jesus is the Christ is born of God. against you more than I have against I believe that Jesus is the Christ; my own soul.” He followed these am I not therefore born of God remarks with the most solemn enBut I perceived that my belief had | treaties and feeling exhortations to

turn unto God and live. Although || perienced great tenderness, and ofin my proud heart I had resolved ten both in public and private wept never to shed a tear in public, all bitterly. my resolutions were utterly una 66 [ 'was satisfied that my prayers vailing. In spite of every effort, I were exceedingly defective. They trembled and wept, and changed | appeared so sinful, that I thought my seat to avoid observation. My | God would not regard them. But extreme agitation, however, soon as Christians appeared to be in discovered itself. Several persons earnest for me, at times I was en. spoke to me; many rejoiced and couraged to believe that God would many were affected at seeing that hear them in


behalf. Although my mind was impressed. When I was not called by name, yet I asked to state my feelings, I could thought I knew when they presentonly say with Agur, “I am more ed my case before the Lord. * At brutish than any man, and have not one of these seasons of prayer,

it the understanding of a man.” 1 seemed to me that my case was thought I earnestly desired conver-wholly neglected. I was ready to sion; but how to attain it, how to say with David, “ Refuge faileth obtain an interest in Christ, I did | me,and no man careth for my soul.” not know. I at first apprehended I concluded that if the saints were I should in some way have a discov- not permitted to pray for me, my ery

of Christ on the cross, and that case was desperate. Despondency this would give me comfort. Again | seized me, and I began to fear that I thought I was now so distressed, all was over with my soul. Yet at that God would soon give me relief. | times I could not but hope, that I cried; but, alas! all seemed in God would at some time or other vain.

bring me out of this distress, and 6. Although I had continued my that I should yet praise him. cold, pharisaical prayers from the “My distress did not arise so time before mentioned, yet till this much from the fear of punishment, night I had never conversed with as from a sense of having abused my family on the subject of person- divine goodness and mercy. AIL al religion. But now I entered | my hopes from any thing in myself with seriousness into the subject ; seemed to vanish. I had been acand after disclosing my feelings, || customed to think that I was not expressed my resolution, that let so great a sinner as some others, others do what they would, I was because I had been addicted to no determined to seek the Lord. I degrading vice. But I now saw found much tenderness in attempt. || that my morality, fair as it had aping to pray before retiring to rest | peared, was most wretchedly deI had some concern lest these im- || fective ; and that my prayers had pressions should leave me, and my been no better than solemn mockmind become yet more hardened ery. I greatly feared that my rethan before. I awoke before the pentance was not genuine ; that it day dawned, and found my mind stiil deeply impressed. I cannot the author was not mistaken. An aged

* In this supposition it is probable that say as many have, that I strove to minister by whom Dr. Baldwin was bapshake off my convictions; on the tized, once mentioned that several Chriscontrary, my great anxiety was to | tians in the neighbourhood, observing his increase them; for this was the way had agreed together to make his conver

promising talents and amiable disposition, in which I was looking for deliver- sion a special subject of prayer. This

My distress continuing day || agreement was formed while he was yet and night, I began to hope that God I thoughtless, and we may well suppose had begun the work, and that he | they saw so pleasing a hope of their fulwould carry it on.

At times I ex- ll filment.


« PreviousContinue »