Page images
PDF
EPUB

The intervals were spent as a father of a family would wish to em. ploy his hours of recreation, with his children. The following domestic portraiture is extremely pleasing, and has been drawn with graphic simplicity

6 His usual resort was a retired terrace in the front of his resi. dence, beyond which lay the bay of Macao, encircled by barren hills; the terrace was shaded by beautiful flowering shrubs, and bordered with European plants and flowers. Here generally accompanied by the whole of his family, the little ones on his knees, or, according to Asiatic custom, sitting on mats spread on the grass, with their attend. ants of various pations, Chinese, Portuguese, and Caffres, and a favorite Newfoundland dog invariably making one of the group, might be seen the beloved subject of this narrative, whose presence

diffused general happiness throughout that favored circle. Often, while viewing with benignant complacency the interesting scene thus feebly depicted, he would express the pleasure it afforded him, and his grateful sense of the mercies and blessings he enjoyed; yet reflecting on the uncertain tenure by which all earthly good is held, he would frequently add, But I rejoice with trembling. Such simple pleasures as those by which he was surrounded, Dr. Morrison enjoyed in a high degree; yet his taste for them was never gratified at the expense of more serious duties; therefore sacred music, conversation, or the contemplation of the beauties of nature, was by him only indulged in occasionally as a relaxation from intense study. Often at the close of a day such as above described, when he must have suffered extreme weariness from five or six hours' standing and speaking, his general reply to inquiries—if he did not feel very tired? was, “Yes, love, tired in my work, but not of it-I delight in the work. Although at these seasons the thermometer usually ranged from 860 to 920 in the shade, it is remarkable that Dr. Morrison never experienced on the following day any of the lassitude or languor which many complain of after long public speaking.

“ However, for some time past, Dr. Morrison became sensible of a diminution of strength, accompanied by distressing restlessness in the early part of the night, and toward morning a sensation of weight at the top of the head, which obliged him to rise generally at four o'clock; but as he retained his usual appearance of health, and continued to write and study without seeming to suffer much inconvenience during the day, these symptoms were attributed to the effect of incessant mental labor without sufficient bodily exercise to counteract it; and it was not till the summer advanced, and the heat became intense, that any serious cause for alarm was manifested ; but then loss of appetite, with pain in his right side and great pros. tration of strength, indicated the necessity, which before Dr. Morrison would not admit, for obtaining medical advice; and Mr. Colledge, the senior surgeon of the establishment, was therefore consulted.” Vol. ii, pp. 483-486.

The treatment adopted afforded temporary relief, but his symptoms were misapprehended, and he received advice as for a liver complaint. His family sailed for England while he was yet an invalid, but as it was hoped convalescent. The following is one of the last memoranda of his journal:

“ Canton, July 25, (1834.) On Wednesday morning I embarked at Macao with Lord Napier and others, or board the Andromache,' Captain Chads; and this morning about three o'clock I arrived at Canton, in Captain Niesh's boat. My feeble state of health, the heat of the weather, and a headache into the bargain, made the journey extremely uncomfortable. To-day I have been very low. I thought I must give up the king's service from entire inability to bear the fatigue of it in Canton. God help me, my dear love. I will do nothing rashly. But in walking through the hot sun to-day from this house to the Company's, where Lord Napier is, I was like to drop in the streets, and have been groaning on my couch ever since—being now past eight in the evening. O, that I may have cheering accounts • from you soon! Good night, my beloved wife! O! my beloved chil. dren! God be with you all!” Vol. ii, p. 528.

Dr. Morrison had written in his journal on his voyage homeward, December 7th, 1823, “ I have some misgivings or apprehensions, that I may not live to return, and be buried in China." God was better to him than his fears. He was spared to return and labor; and row the closing scene was to fulfil his desires. On the 30th of July he was no longer able to record his own expressions. His son with great feeling and tenderness watched by the bedside ; and when the last moment of suffering had passed, recounted the circumstances attending the dissolution of a beloved father.

“Friday, 1st of August,” the bereaved youth thus writes, “Lord, have mercy upon us ! Be thon a supporter and helper to us! Let us not repine or murmur; but rather rejoice that the dear, dear sutserer was removed from the evil to come; that he has found rest in thee! The night was now advanced-—so also was the night of affliction. He was in the dark valley of the shadow of death--but he was about to einerge into the unspeakable brightness of heavenly glory, in the presence of God and our Saviour. The exhausted body now rapidly sunk: cold and pale was that cheek which till then had retained the appear. ance of health. I can say no more—it is as a dream—but mortal shall put on immortality," &c.

We shall close our extracts by one other brief portion—the testimony of the Rev. Edwin Stevens, of the manner in which Dr. Mor. rison was called away to his reward :

“Our departed friend fell suddenly from our sight. In the after. noon of his death I was with him some time; and though weak, he could walk into another room, talk feebly, and unite in supplicating the divine mercy. He said that he thought his life was in danger: but I did not, and I think he did not anticipate so speedy a change. I sat down by him, and he repeated many passages of Scripture, which he revolved in his mind continually : • I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' • We have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ;' and such like. He then prayed aloud for all of us, if he should be taken away; that God would be merciful to Eliza and the dear children, and bless them with his protection and guardian care.' He prayed that the Lord would sustain him, and forsake him not in his feebleness. He prayed for the Chinese mission-that grace and peace might rest upon all the laborers. And having said these things, he.laid down to rest. He was to have a sick certificate, and

I was to go down with him to Macao; but how affecting! that night he was released from sickness and suffering, and we went with him to Macao indeed; but it was only his dead body that went, for God had taken the spirit. We buried him beside his former wife; there will the Lord's beloved sleep till the day of resurrection. Dear John M. was with us, and felt the supporting hand of his father’s God in all these trying scenes.

It may seem to some of our readers, that rather than a critical analysis of the work under review, we have presented an abridgment of Dr. Morrison's biography; and, instead of strictures on the style and workmanship of the author, we have been drawn out in a celebration of the virtues and achievements of the first Protestant missionary to China. We confess we have been influenced by a desire to pay a tribute to the exalted worth and distinguished and consecrated talents of Dr. Morrison, more than to provide an elaborate essay on missions, or the claims of the heathen. It has been our aim to de. velop the character and progress of a faithful missionary rather than to measure his attainments by the standard of other men; or compare his eminent and successful labors with the efforts of other illus. trious ornaments of the church. Dr. Morrison, as distinguished by the grace of God, has been our subject, without any desire to magnify his name at the expense of his early colleague, or to disparage the great talents and versatile abilities of Dr. Marshman, who seems to have been regarded as his rival in the beginning of their devoted and honored course. There is room for them all to shine in the bright. ness of the kingdom; and in the glorious circuit in which they are made to revolve, as separate stars for ever and ever, they have sphere enough without marring their harmony or disturbing their order. They have now no unholy ambition, no jarring interests, or jealous rivalry, if ever such infirmities encompassed them here. Nor have they any controversy about that language in which the song of Moses and the Lamb should be sung, or those distinctions by which his sanctified ones shall be known as redeemed out of every kindred, and nation, and people, and tongue. They fear not how large will be the several shares of glory, honor, and immortality, which their blessed God will assign them, when he shall come in the glory of his holy angels. They knew in whom they had believed, and, as they were persuaded, so has it been proved, that he was able to keep that which they had committed unto him until the great day. And as in their Father's house there are many mansions, and they each one meet with his Lord; so in the church upon earth and in the thrones, which may be set for them who have suffered for the word of God and the witness of Jesus, there will be found places for them all, to live and reign with Him who shall sit on his throne King of kings and Lord of lords.

[ocr errors]

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. DUDLEY WOODBRIDGE, A. M.,

Of the Ohio Annual Conference.

“I come to bury Cesar : not to praise him.”, If the sentiment contained in this remark were to govern the eulogists of the departed, we should not be pained with that fulsome fattery which is so lavishingly bestowed upon the subjects of obituary notices in general. The custom of bestowing such undue praise upon the dead has, perhaps, acquired a harmlessness from the circumstance of its general prevalence in all ages. Both Christians and heathen seem instinctively to engage in its practice. The language of the inspired proverbialist we find to be in accordance with this general sentiment: “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of one's death better than the day of their birth.” The remark made by a judicious observer of human nature, " The good that men do lives after them, while the evil is oft interred with them,” is exceedingly illustrative of the fact, that there is an inherent disposition in the mass of mankind to award praise to the dead. This, abstractly considered, should not be deemed a fault, but should rather be recog.

nized as a redeeming trait in the human character, which seems to • have survived the ruins of the fall. One can scarcely be found so

reckless and abandoned as sacrilegiously to break in upon the silence of the sepulchre and disturb the repose of the dead. Death puts an end to animosities and envies, while the faults and frailties of the deceased are generally buried with them in the grave of forgetfulness.

Thus we see that in most biographies, to gloss the character of those who are the subjects of them, and carefully to screen from the public eye every fault of their lives, are the most important, and sometimes the most difficult of the biographer's labors. How very different this from the course pursued by Scripture biographers. There we find histories of human character the most faithfully delineated, while the faults and crimes of those whose general character it pleased the Almighty to contemplate are made to stand out in bold relief upon the sacred page, unmitigated and unglossed. Shipwrecks of moral character, which occurred in the days of inspiration, were made known by God's amanuenses, and the rocks on which they split are so graphically described, that like beacons, they loom upon the fitful surges of life, to warn of danger and point to safety. If the biography of an individual be deemed worthy of publication, we think it should consist of an impartial narrative, exhibiting an unvarnished statement of facts, like the histories given of men in the Bible" true to the life”-proving thereby of great utility to surviving friends and the community in general.

The above remarks are not made for the purpose of preparing the mind of the reader for the delineation of a character in which there are many unpleasant features and unamiable traits. Nothing of this kind need be anticipated. The character of the subject of this brief memoir was most amiable. Of hïm it may with peculiar propriety be said,

was

“None knew him but to love him;

None loved him but to praise." The language of the youthful Spencer's biographer is quite appro. priate, and applicable to the subject of our memoir : “ The recollection of departed excellence, which a long series of years had developed and matured, is mingled with a melancholy feeling, and not unfre. quently excites the tribute of a tear; but the individual who erects a monument to friendship, genius, usefulness, and piety, prematurely wrapt in the oblivion of the tomb, must necessarily prosecute his mournful work with trembling hands and with a bleeding heart." Thus with mournful pleasure do we sketch the rude outline of one of the loveliest and most perfect moral characters of the present age. In confirmation of what we have said with regard to the subject of our remarks, it was observed by one who was intimately acquainted with him, almost from childhood, that " if ever he did for a moment step aside from the path of virtue, so light and noiseless were his steps, that the foot-print never seen—the foot-fall never heard."

Dudley Woodbridge was the eldest son of Dudley Woodbridge, Esq., of Marietta, Ohio. He was born the 16th of July, 1813. His parents are members of the Presbyterian Church, beloved and respected by all who have the happiness of being acquainted with them, and it was doubtless owing, in a great measure, to their pious example, instructions, prayers, and admonitions, that young Dudley was so early in life initiated into the kingdom of Christ. He was not only blest with religious training, but the temporal circumstances of his father were such nothing was spared to bestow upon him all the advantages of a thorough education. Accordingly, at quite an early age he was sent to the Ohio University, Athens.

It is a remarkable fact, that, although at this time this institution received its endowment from the state, the faculty were nearly all Presbyterians, and all the students were required to attend meeting regularly at the Presbyterian Church. All this, of course, was in harmony with the predilections of young Dudley. The doctrines and usages of Methodism under these circumstances could be but little known by the students; but we have reason to thank God that there is a power accompanies the preaching of Methodist doctrines, so de. monstrative in its character that they become known, while thousands are brought to feel their soul-saving efficacy. We have thought in times of powerful revivals that there is a spirit of conviction which pervades the entire moral mass within the sphere of its influenceirresistible in its very nature-searching the hearts alike of those who go to church, and of those who remain at home. With such a revival it pleased God to visit the Methodist Church in Athens in the fall of 1827, under the faithful and efficient ministry of the Rev. H. S. Fernandez. This revival was extensive and powerful-a sacred and soul-subduing influence pervaded the whole town; nor were the rules or regulations of the college, enforced with all their strictness, im. pervious to its power. The Methodist Church, as the excitement increased, became crowded with students, college regulations were forgotten, while anon it was rumored through all its halls, that 'T., and S., and A., and H., and W., were seeking religion at the “mourners'

« PreviousContinue »