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tions of evangelical Christians. While yet in his minority he was appointed a class-leader; and when, at the conference of 1817, the Rev. S. Luckey succeeded Mr. Spicer in charge of the station, he gave him license to exhort. On the 20th day of December following, being then a few months over twenty-one, he was duly licensed as a local preacher by the quarterly conference of the station.
Up to this time he appears to have had no distinct idea of entering the ministry. He had, indeed, an ardent desire to do all he could for the glory of God and for the salvation of men; but, so high appeared to him to be the qualifications necessary for a Christian minister, and so small and insignificant did his own appear to himself, that entering the sacred office seemed entirely out of the question. His mind had been at ease under this view of the subject; but now it came up before him in a new and stronger light. He was out of his apprenticeship; he was also of age; the responsibility of determining his future course now devolved upon himself. He wished to do right; he had an ardent desire to do good; he was wedded in his affections to the church of God; he groaned in spirt for the salvation of a dying world. And yet the magnitude of the work, the fearful and far-reaching nature of its responsibilities, appalled him. After many struggles of mind, he was at length led to the determination to follow the convictions of duty and the openings of Providence. Accordingly on the 7th of March, 1818, his license to preach was renewed, and he was recommended to the New York Annual Conference. The session of the confer. ence was held in May following, in the city of New York, He was here received on trial and appointed to the Leyden circuit, having the Rev. Ibri Cannon for his senior preacher and superintendent.
If it had cost him a struggle to decide upon entering the ministry, he was now subject to a trial of a different character, but scarcely less painful to youthful sensibil. ities. He had been appointed to a distant circuit, and must now bid adieu to the home and the cherished friends of his youth. And then the prospect before him was by no means congenial to the feelings of a young man of a feeble constitution and a timid nature. An extensive circuit, embracing the roughest portions of Massachusetts, and spreading out over the hills of Ver. mont-giving promise of long rides through cold and mountainous regions and over bad roads, and also of much labor and but little worldly reward—was a prospect that might have disheartened a mind of less nerve or a soul of weaker faith. But he had put his hand to the gospel plough; and he could say, “None of these things move me." He left home for his appointment the day after he received it. After a ride of fifty miles on horseback, over roads rendered difficult by the thaw. ing and heaving of the frost, having crossed the Green Mountains and descended into the valley of the Deerfield river, in a spot encircled by mountains covered with their ancient forests, he found himself upon the borders of his circuit. Leyden circuit, in 1818, included all that tract of country from the Green Mountains on the west, to the Connecticut river on the east, embracing portions of the counties of Bennington and Windham, in Vermont, and of Franklin and Berkshire, in Massachusetts. Among the towns and villages in which he and his colleague preached, were Readsboro', Whitting. ham, Wilmington, Halifax, Guilford, Vernon, Brattleboro', Marlboro', and Dummerston, in Vermont; and Leyden, Bernardston, Northfield, Gill, Shelburne, Colerain, Charlemont, Rowe, Monroe, and Florida, in Massachusetts. Dummerston on the northern, and Shelburne on the southern, extremity of the circuit were
some fifty miles apart. Northfield, the eastern appointment, was on the east side of the Connecticut river; and Florida, the western limit, was hid among the Green Mountains, near the western border of the state. Ono round of the circuit required a ride of not far from two hundred and fifty miles. To traverse this region at all seasons of the year, and in all kinds of weather, was no light undertaking. But to preach and lead class three times upon the Sabbath, frequently riding from five to ten miles between the afternoon and evening appointments, and then, after long rides during the day, to preach several evenings in each week, was a labor that required a robust constitution and a determined spirit. What, but the love of souls, could have constrained these men of God to such sacrifices and such labors.
The modification of the circuit system has been a natural and necessary result of the growth and increase of Methodism. By this modification, the labors of the preachers, so far as it regards long rides and frequent exposures, have been much abridged; without, however, abrilging in the least their opportunities of laboring to build up the kingdom of Christ. Restricted as may now seem many of our little stations, or patches,” as they have been sometimes called by way of derision, when compared with the old circuits, we doubt not but that the most laborious servant of God might find sufficient to do in them to employ his whole time and consume his whole energy. The time necessarily spent formerly in accomplishing the long rides of the circuit, now rigidly devoted to earnest, faithful pastoral visitation, would not only furnish bodily exercise, but also tell in its influence upon the spirituality and usefulness of the minister. Nor should it be forgotten that the present arrangement of our stations, as well as the increasing intelligence of our people, requires an amount
of exhausting intellectual labor utterly impracticable under a régime like the old circuit system. Indeed, such a system, admirably adapted as it is to a country sparsely settled, and to the culture of weak societies widely scattered, becomes impracticable in a densely populated religious communion. It is one of the glories of Methodism that in all its economy, merely prudential, it possesses a flexibility that will ever adapt it to its changing circumstances, and to the wants of its growing communion. If, however, any one should be unable to satisfy his longings for amplitude of space wherein to exercise his powers, we advise him to emi. grate to some country where a sparser population is to be found; to decamp forthwith for the prairies of the West, where his powers may have full scope, while he skirts along the vast range of the western borders of civilization. The moon-struck wight who now sighs for the good old days of long circuit riding, may be placed in the same category with those censors, who, making war upon the fashions of this degenerate age, would have us go back to the buckskin breeches and coon-skin caps worn by our ancestors, when forests were to be leveled and fields cleared for the habitations
Upon the Leyden circuit the preacher was well received: his piety and his sincerity were so strongly marked that they won the entire confidence of the peo. ple. There was also a timidity in his manner, and an exquisite sensibility in his character, which took strong hold upon their sympathies. When standing in the pul. pit, he was often unable to look his congregation in the face, so great was his timidity; but the earnestness of his zeal and the deep emotions of his soul, often expressed by the tears that flowed plentifully down over his face, found response in the hearts of his congrega.
tion. The growth of his personal piety and the cultivation of his mind were objects of deep interest to him. To promote the former, he watched, prayed, fasted and meditated; he studied with devout attention the holy scriptures, and read with deep interest the lives of holy and devoted servants of God, that he might understand their character, imitate their example, and be imbued with their spirit. Of his desire to improve his mind, he gave evidence by his devotion to study whenever he arrived at one of those delightful homes for the itinerant scattered here and there over the circuit, and where he rested a day or two to recruit his exhausted powers for new fatigues. Solid attainments in both piety and learning, he felt were indispensable to him as a Christian minister. No amount of knowledge or sprightliness of talent, would, he knew, answer as a substitute for sound, genuine piety. Learn. ing, unsanctified by religion, unwarmed by love, would be, like the mountain icebergs, splendid and imposing in appearance, but chilling and freezing in influence. But, on the other hand, zeal, and even a well-intentioned piety, would not answer as a substitute for a sound knowledge of divine things.
It was under the influence of such convictions as these, that he was led to apply himself diligently to the cultivation of both heart and intellect. And, no doubt, here, among the hills and mountains of Leyden, while preaching to small unlettered congregations, gathered for the most part in private rooms and school-houses, it was that he laid the foundation of that character which afterwards bore him up through a long and successful ministry, in many of the most responsible and important appointments within the wide range of the New York Conference. Many young men have set out with as good promise and as high hopes as the subject