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We shall never envy the honours which wit and learning obtaia
PUBLISHED BY J. T. BUCKINGHAM
SKETCH OF THE LIFE
REVEREND MATHER BYLES, D.D.
EW departments of literature are more
phy; yet the task of writing the histories of the lives of the most celebrated men is seldom performed by those, who have the best opportunities of knowledge, and are endowed with the greatest accuracy of observation. The memoirs of literary and professional gentlemen commonly consist of datés only, and we are not often told of them much more, than where they were born, what schools and colleges admitted them to their honours, where they liv: ed, whom they married, and when they died. The progress of the mind in strength and knowledge, the formation of habits, and the gradual acquisition of character, are seldom delineated ; and although we are sometimes made well acquainted with the author and the
publick man, we are rarely introduced to the (perhaps more important) knowledge of the private individual, his peculiar habits, propensities, talents, amusements, prejudices, opinions, and conduct in the ordinary occurrences of life. The writer of this short sketch in particular, who was not contemporary with its subject, regrets that he has not materials to fill up and complete the outline he has formed.
The Rev. MATHER BYLES was descended from a respectable family, and was born in Boston on the fifteenth day of March, 1706, O.S. His father was a native of England, and died within a year after the birth of his
By his mother's side he descended from the Rev. Richard Mather of Dorchester, and the Rev. John Cotton of Boston. The Rev. Dr. Increase Mather was his maternal grandfather.
In early life Mr. Byles discovered a taste for literature, and after passing reputably through the common schools, was admitted into Harvard University, and in the year 1725 received the Bachelor's degree at that seminary.
After leaving college, Mr. Byles selected the profession of Divinity for the employment of his life, and divided his time between the studies of theology and literature. In the month of December in the year 1732, he was ordained to the pastoral care of a new church in Hollisstreet in Boston.
About this time Mr. Byles, besides his professional eminence, was distinguished by the
casion the Doctor observed with his usual cheerfulness, that he was guarded, reguarded, and disreguarded. Sometime before this, upon being asked, why he did not preach politicks? He replied, “ I have thrown up four breastworks, behind which I have entrenched myself, neither of which can be forced : In the first place, I do not understand politicks ; in the second place, you all do, every man and mother's son of you ; in the third place, you have politicks all the week, pray let one day in seven be devoted to religion ; in the fourth place Iam engaged in a work of infinitely greater importance ; give me any subjeet to preach on of more consequence than the truths I bring to you, and I will preach on it the next Sabbath.”
Dr. Byles formed no new connection with any parish after the revolution nor during the
In the year 1783 he was seized with a paralytick disorder, and on the fifth day of July, 1788, he died, in the eighty-second year
of his age.
In person Dr. B. was tall and well propor. tioned, had a commanding presence, and was a graceful speaker. His voice was strong, clear, harmonious, and modulated with facility to the subject of his discourse.
In conversation and repartee he excelled. Some of his friends have applied to him a passage
from his own poems. . Thy conversation !-here the muse could stay, And in sweet pleasures smile the hours away.