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William L. Ulyat 

BX 9225 .P77 F67 1846 
Forsyth, John, 1810-1886. 
Memoir of the late Rev. 
Alexander Proudfit, D. D. 

Sf.JPJd/ED ST r -lASTAOl- 





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TLV 7] Trpoaevxv^ "KpoGKaprepriaLQ • 61 rjg koI rag "Xonrdg uperag 
did Trig "^o-pd QeS airyaeug dcrjixipai KTdadai dwd/xeOa. 

Macarii Opuscula, De Custod. Cordis, p. 8. 



184 6. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by 

Harper & Brothers, 
In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New- York. 
















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The following pages have been prepared for 
the press in the hope that they will minister to 
the edification of the Church of God, by exhib- 
iting the labours of love and the inward experi- 
ence of one who, during a long life, gave living 
evidence of the power and preciousness of the 
Gospel of Christ. " The memorials of the good," 
it has been well said, " constitute one of the most 
sacred possessions of the Church of God ;" of 
such memorials there is no great danger of an 
undue increase, especially if the subjects of them 
have been distinguished among the good for 
their activity in any of the various walks of - 
Christian usefulness, or for their patient endu- 
rance of suffering and trials, for their active or 
their passive virtues. Every such record is a 
fresh proof of the reality of religion, a new mon- 
ument of the rich grace of Christ, attesting that 
the same Lord over all, whose grace abounded 
to saints of former days, is still equally rich to 
A 2 


all who call upon him. On this ground, the au 
thor of this memoir thinks that no apology is 
needed for his adding another to the many vol- 
umes of Christian biography. 

The last chapter, consisting of Dr. Proudfit'a 
life, and an account of his last moments, is from 
the pen of his son, the Rev. Dr. Proudfit, of Rut- 
ger's College. It cannot fail to be read v^ith 
peculiar interest. The author would only add 
that the selections from the diary and corre- 
spondence of Dr. Proudfit have been made, 
partly for the illustration of his character, and 
partly with reference to their supposed interest 
to the Christian reader. Whether they have 
been made too profusely or too scantily is a 
point which must be determined by others. 
Having, as he humbly trusts, undertaken the 
work from a desire to promote the glory of 
Christ and the good of his Church, he submits 
it to his fellow-Christians, praying that it may 
stimulate all who read it to greater diligence 
in " the work of faith, and the labour of love, 
and the patience of hope." 





The town of Salem is situated in one of the 
loveliest valleys of Northern New- York. The 
village stands upon a plain of moderate extent, 
through which flows a small but beautiful stream, 
the White Creek, so called from the singular 
clearness of its waters ; while on all sides, ex- 
cept towards the south, it is skirted by hills, cov- 
ered with the luxuriant foliage of our primitive 
forests, whose rich and varied colours constitute 
one of the most peculiar glories of an American 
autumn. Away in the east are to be seen the 
lofty summits of the Green Mountains of Ver- 
mont. In approaching the village from the south, 
and when, at the distance of about four miles, the 
first ghmpse of it is obtained, one can scarcely 
avoid the impression that it is most fitly named 
Salem ; for the eye rests upon a scene of rich 
and quiet rural beauty scarcely to be surpassed, 


and which will remind the observer of Gold- 
smith's fine description of 

" The loveliest village of the plain." 

Here it was, that Doctor Alexander Proud- 
fit lived and laboured as a Christian pastor for 
almost half a century. The physical beauties 
just adverted to, by which he was surrounded, 
appear to have given a tinge to his character, 
which displayed itself in his conversation and 
his writings, in the dehght with which he point- 
ed out the evidences of divine wisdom and 
goodness furnished by the manifold productions 
of the vegetable world, and in the frequency 
with which the illustrations in his sermons were 
drawn from the objects and occupations of rural 
life. ' 

He was the fourth son of the Reverend James 
Proudfit, respecting whom we have been enabled 
to gather a few particulars, chiefly from a me- 
moir of him which appeared in the Christian 
Magazine, and was written by his son. Mr. 
James Proudfit was born near the town of Perth 
(Scotland) in 1732. Having from his childhood 
evinced a serious turn, he was early destined by 
his parents for the holy ministry. After com- 
pleting the usual course of study at the Univer- 
sity, he entered upon the study of theology un- 
der the venerable and Reverend Alexander Mon- 
creif of Abernethy, and in 1753 he was licensed 


to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Perth. 
About this time very pressing appHcations were 
made to the Associate Synod in Scotland, for 
ministerial aid from various parts of these then 
British colonies. Mr. Proudfit vv^as early chosen 
by the Synod as one whose great prudence. and 
zeal eminently fitted him for the work of preach- 
ing the gospel in the New World, and he was 
accordingly ordained to the ministry in 1754, 
with a destination to North America. Shortly 
before his departure he had the offer of a pasto- 
ral charge in the city of Glasgow ; his nearest 
relatives were strongly opposed to his leaving 
his native land, and looked upon the step as an 
utter abandonment of all his worldly prospects. 
His sister, when she saw him embark, threw 
herself upon the ground in wild and despairing 
grief; but he was inflexible in pursuing the path 
to which he felt himself called by the providence 
of God, and the voice of his church. He could 
say literally, " I have left all, and followed thee." 
Nor had he ever reason to repent the step he 
took ; for to him, and to his descendants has the 
promise of Christ been fulfilled, of an abundant 
reward even in this present world. He reached 
Boston in September, 1754, and after itinerating 
for some years, planting and watering congre- 
gations, he accepted a call from the Scottish 
Presbyterian congregation of Pequa, Pennsyl- 


vania. In this charge he continned for a period 
of twenty-four years, when he was called by the 
congregation of Salem to succeed the late emi- 
nently excellent Dr. Thomas Clark. This call 
he accepted, and removed to Salem in the au- 
tumn of 1783, where he remained until his de- 
cease on the 22d of October, 1802, in the sev- 
entieth year of his age, and fiftieth of his min- 

" Rarely," says his son, " has any person oc- 
cupying a public station, either civil or ecclesi- 
astical, passed through a long life with fewer 
enemies. His disposition, amiable and unassu- 
ming by nature, and doubly so by an uncommon 
measure of that wisdom which is pure and peace- 
able, disarmed opposition, and few have possess- 
ed a larger share in the esteem and affection of 
all with whom he was associated. Indeed, low- 
liness of mind, gentleness of natural temper, ex- 
traordinary self-denial, and mortification to the 
world, may be considered as constituting the dis- 
tinguishing features of his character. I recol- 
lect as I was walking with the Reverend Mr. 
, who had been for many years a compan- 
ion and fellow-labourer in the Gospel, referring 
to Mr. Proudfit, he said, ' that, if the degrees 
of glory corresponded with the degrees of grace, 
Mr. Proudfit must possess an exalted seat in the 
everlasting kingdom, for he was the holiest man 


he had ever knov^^n/ His public discourses pos- 
sessed much of the natural gentleness of his dis- 
position, and resembled more the genial rains 
and dews which distil softly on the earth, refresh- 
ing and fertilizing it, than those rude storms by 
which the elements are agitated, and the order 
of nature disturbed. Owing to this, his minis- 
try was probably more honoured for the edifica- 
tion of saints, than for the alarm and conviction 
of sinners. He had an almost unbounded ac- 
quaintance with the Holy Scriptures ; such was 
the promptness with which he could specify the 
book, and the chapter, and verse in which any 
portion of divine truth might be found, that he 
was usually denominated the Concordance by his 
brethren in the ministry ; and when any in the 
company were at a loss where to find a partic- 
ular passage, reference was immediately made 
to him." His anticipations of heaven, at the 
near approach of death, are said to have been 
very remarkable ; a visible glory seemed to sur- 
round him, and he asked those who were about 
his bed if they could not see it. 

Alexander Moncreif, the subject of this me- 
moir, was born at Pequa, in November, 1770. 
Of his early years, he has himself left no writ- 
ten memorials ;* but a few of the companions of 

* Among the few reminiscences which his childish years had eri- 
abled him to retain of the Revolutionary War, during the whole of 



his youth, some of whom were for many years 
associated with him as office-bearers in the con- 
gregation of Salem, still survive, and from them 
we learn that he was, in his boyhood, distinguish- 
ed among his fellows for a spirit of activity and 
resolution, and for his great delight in those more 
active sports which indicate exuberant vivacity 
and animal spirits. Some of his boyish adven- 
tures and hairbreadth escapes are still mention- 
ed by these early friends. 

In his thirteenth year he removed with his fa- 
ther's family to Salem, and soon after began the 
study of the ancient languages under the tuition 
of a Mr. Thomas Watson. In a history of the 
town of Salem, written a few years before his 
death, he states, " the classical school opened in 
this place was among the earliest, if not the 
very first one, estabhshed north or west of Al- 
bany. This was commenced about the year 

which he resided at Pequa, he used to relate that his father's fam- 
ily, and that of the Reverend Mr. Smith, their near neighbour, had 
once been greatly terrified by hearing, late in the night, the distant 
tramp of horses. They concluded that it must be a foraging par- 
ty of British cavalry, who often behaved on these occasions with 
great cruelty. After a brief consultation, both families fled through 
the rear of their dwellings, and betook themselves to the woods, 
where they lay concealed until the next morning. The first 
scouts, however, whom they sent out to reconnoitre, found that 
the light horse, whom their affrighted imaginations had conjured 
up, were no other than a company of colts from their own farm- 
yards, whose gambols had caused their alarm., and the loss of their 
night's rest. 


1782, for the education of a few youths, self-de- 
voted to the sacred ministry, and was superin- 
tended by a Mr. Thomas Watson, a gentleman 
originally from Scotland, and profound in his lit- 
erary attainments, particularly in the Latin and 
Greek languages. In the autumn of '83 I had 
the honour of becoming one of his pupils. After 
walking the distance of nearly three miles 
through snows, often two and three feet deep, 
we had no other accommodation for our school 
than a house constructed of logs, without, so far 
as I recollect, a single pane of glass entire." Ex- 
cellent as was his teacher, and it deserves to be 
mentioned that under him the good basis of ac- 
curate scholarship was laid, his educational ad- 
vantages must have been comparatively limited, 
as the town of Salem had not been long settled, 
and its inhabitants, like those of other parts of 
-Washington county, had been compelled, during 
the war, for a time to desert their homes. In 
his later days he used to speak of the few and 
meager school books then in use, as contrasted 
with the 'greatly multiplied and various helps, 
enjoyed by the young student of the present 
day. _ At the same time, he doubted, and we 
believe justly, whether this great increase in the 
facilities of learning does not tend to diminish 
the freedom and vigour of the youthful mind it- 
self It may be added in this connexion, that 


he was strongly of opinion, that the early years 
should be chiefly given to spontaneous growth 
and development, and that nature must not be 
disturbed in this process by the officious system, 
whose constant tendency is to educate too soon, 
and too much. Mr. Watson's school, as already 
stated, was some two miles or more from his 
father's house, and he was often obliged to go 
to it through snow two or three feet deep ; to 
this circumstance he was accustomed to ascribe 
much of the vigour of his constitution in after 
years. " Wet feet," he often said, " were little 
thought of in those days." His physical frame, 
though slight, was one of uncommon vigour, 
and capable of enduring, even in old age, an 
amount of labour under which many a younger 
man would have sunk. He was also distinguish- 
ed in his early days for mirthfulness and hilari- 
ty, which, subsequently subdued and sanctified 
by religion, formed one of the most striking traits 
of his religious character. Throughout life he 
was ever disposed to be sanguine, and to look 
on the bright side of things. With him the 
star of hope seemed always to be above the 
horizon; he hoped for the best, and was accus- 
tomed to say to those with whom he was asso- 
ciated, at moments when their plans were on 
the eve of being abandoned as impracticable, 
" something will turn up." 


From Mr. Watson's school, Mr. Proudfit was 
removed, about the year 1785, to an academy 
at Hackensack, New- Jersey, then under the care 
of that emment classical scholar and devoted 
Christian, the late Dr. Peter Wilson. Here he 
remained, enjoying the best educational advan- 
tages which our country then afforded, until 
March, 1789, when he entered the sophomore 
class of Columbia College, New- York. Dr. 
Wilson was about the same time called to oc- 
cupy the professorship of ancient languages in 
that college, an office which he filled with signal 
benefit to the institution, and honour to himself, 
during the remainder of his life.* He was a 
ripe scholar, and to him, in a great measure, 
may be ascribed that taste for classical learn- 
ing, for the cultivation of which Columbia Col- 
lege has been long distinguished. Mr. Proudfit 
continued to reside in the family of Dr. Wilson 
after the removal of the latter to New- York, 
and he always regarded it as a singular happiness 
that he had enjoyed, during so many of his early 
years, the intimate society and the instructions of 
this learned and excellent man. It deserves to be 
mentioned, as alike honourable to the teacher and 
his pupil, that the foundation was then laid of a 
warm and close friendship, which was dissolved 

* During the latter years of his life he ceased to perforin the ac- 
tive duties of the office, though he retained the title of emeritus 

2 • B2 


only by death. At a later period (1799), Mr. 
Proudfit testified his high regard for his former 
instructor, by the efforts which he made to induce 
his acceptance of an invitation to the presidency 
of Union College, of which he was a trustee. 
To effect this, he wrote to his friend, Dr. John 
M. Mason, begging his good offices ; but Dr. 
Mason replied in terms which showed at once 
his warm affection for Mr. Proudfit, and his 
sense of the loss which New- York would sus- 
tain by Dr. Wilson's removal. " I lament," he 
writes, "the resignation of Dr. Smith, and the 
difficulties you have to encounter in procuring a 
proper successor. Of Dr. Wilson's quahfications 
no man can doubt ; but I fear, or rather hope, 
you will be disappointed in the expectation of 
obtaining him. You know that I would do any- 
thing to gratify you, and to promote the'interests 
of learning in your part of the country, that I 
can do without violating my conviction of pro- 
priety. I must be frank. Count not upon me. 
Unless Dr. Wilson volunteered, and were anx- 
ious to leave us, I feel it my bounden duty to 
give to every project of removing him my de- 
termined and persevering opposition." The of- 
fer was declined by Dr. Wilson, who thus wrote 
to his young friend : " I am greatly obliged by 
the frankness as well as kindness of your letter, 
which I received only a few hours ago. From 


Dr. Smith and Dr. Romeyn I have been inform- 
ed that some of the trustees had their eye upon 
me to fill the vacancy. I have had sufficient 
time to deliberate on the subject. To no per- 
son have I given any reason to infer my accept- 
ance, and to both of the before-mentioned gen- 
tlemen I have this day written and given an ex- 
plicit answer. I should think it uncandid to 
hesitate in declaring my sentiments to you, as 
well as the principal reasons which influenced 
my determination." Having given these, he 
adds, " My comfort is, that the Lord reigns ; on 
him I can safely rely in every situation, and I 
must believe it to be his will that I remain in my 
present place. May the Lord reward you for 
your friendship for me, and extend and promote 
your usefulness in his service." 

Of Mr. Proudfit's collegiate life he has himself 
left no record, nor have we been able to discov- 
er any very distinct allusion to it in his diary. 
This want, however, is in some measure sup- 
plied by his venerable friend and fellow-student, 
the Reverend Dr. Milledoler of New-York, who 
has kindly furnished us with the following let- 
ter : " I regret that the information I have to 
give of our venerable friend Dr. P. is so brief. 
He was a member of the class next above that 
which I entered in Columbia College, and was 
associated in that class with the celebrated John 


Randolph of Roanoke.* Our faculty at that 
time consisted of the Honourable William Sam- 
uel Johnson, formerly of the United States Sen- 
ate, president ; the Reverend Johann. Daniel 
Gros, D.D., Professor of Moral Philosophy, Chro- 
nology, and Logic ; Peter Wilson, LL.D., Pro- 
fessor of Languages ; John Kemp, LL.D., Pro- 
fessor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy ; 
M. Marcelin, Professor of the French Language. 
I ought, I believe, to have included J. Chn. Kunze, 
D.D., who either then was, or shortly after was 
appointed Professor of Oriental Literature. Du- 
ring the three years passed with him in col- 
lege we had not much personal inte-rcourse ; but 
I have a very distinct recollection of my re- 
spectful feelings towards him (being then my- 
self, as I hope, under the influence of the fear of 
God), on account of his respectable standing in 
his class as a scholar, and his general deport- 
ment as a gentleman, and (as I believed) a Chris- 
tian. In the time that followed our collegiate 
career we were for many years separated from 

* Of the habits of this remarkable person, while a student, 
Dr. Proudfit often spoke. During his residence at college he 
seems to have been quite as eccentric as during his subsequent po- 
litical career. Though he paid little regard to the authorities of 
the college, and as little to the studies of the course, he was not 
given to habits of dissipation, and in his own way, was a hard stu- 
dent. His studies were chiefly directed to history and geography, 
in both of which branches of learning, especially the latter, his 
knowledge was singularly accurate and extensive. 


each other, yet brought together occasionally in 
benevolent institutions for the honour of our 
God and Saviour. Towards the close of his 
life, I had more frequent intercourse vsrith him at 
my dwelling in Rutger's College. There, he 
was so kind as to make occasional calls of friend- 
ship. Sometimes, after engaging with his whole 
heart in conversation most agreeable to Chris- 
tians, he has closed the door of my study, and 
requested that we might pour out our hearts at 
our Master's feet for each other, and the church 
of God. You may easily suppose, if my heart 
was right with God, how I must have loved 
him. This man of God has indeed left a noble 
example of consecration to the truth as it is in 
Jesus, and his name and his labours will long be 
embalmed in the grateful recollection of a very 
large part of our American Zion.*' 

Mr. Proudfit made a pubhc profession of re- 
ligion about the time of his entrance uito college. 
In a paper written within a few months of his 
decease, he thus describes the manner in which 
he was led to give himself to God : " I was 
drawn at first with the cords of love ; found an 
easy transition to the light, and liberty, and con- 
solations of the gospel, without suffering in any 
considerable degree the terrors of the law." To 
this may be added a statement which he made 
to his intimate and valued friend, Mr. A. G. 


Phelps (of New- York), a few hours previous to 
his death. He was speaking of the wisdom and 
happiness of a Hfe wholly devoted to Christ, and 
added, recollecting himself very dehberately, 
" I have thought so ever since the year '90." 
Beyond these brief statements we have no ac- 
count of his earliest religious exercises. 

From the letter of Dr. Milledoler, it appears 
that the outward deportment of Mr. Proudfit 
w^as such, during his collegiate residence, as to 
command respect ; but he has himself often said 
that the state of religion among his fellow-stu- 
dents was wretchedly low, and acknowledged a 
sad declension in his own spiritual life while ex- 
posed to this evil influence. Such, indeed, was 
the case with the city of New- York, and the 
country at large, and doubtless was one of the 
inevitable results of the war of the Revolution, 
then just terminated. During the occupancy of 
the city by the British army, religious institu- 
tions were greatly neglected, all the congrega- 
tions (those of the Episcopal persuasion alone 
excepted) were dispersed, their ministers exiled, 
and their churches desecrated. In addition to 
this, a large proportion of the officers of the 
American army, (and these were afterward the 
statesmen and politicians of the day) were deci- 
ded infidels. Such a period of social anarchy 
was the fitting time for the unrestrained avowal 


of skeptical opinions ; religious restraints there 
were almost none ; nor was it possible for this 
class of men to feel the power of that social in- 
fluence, which has often compelled the infidel to 
keep his pernicious sentiments to himself. How- 
ever the fact may be explained, certain it is, that 
in our country never has infidelity put on so 
bold a front, and never has she had so many 
open advocates, in the more elevated depart- 
ments of society, as during the first thirty years 
after the war of the Revolution. Even in the 
schools of learning, the spirit of irreligion was 
rife ; at Yale College, it was so in a remarkable 
degree, as we learn from the memoirs of the 
late President Dwight; and from the statements 
which Dr. Proudfit was accustomed to make in 
his later years, it would seem that.Columbia Col- 
lege, in the days of his youth, was not much bet- 
ter. To such a degree did this evil spirit pre- 
vail among his fellow-students, that, during .the 
greater part of his residence at college, he was 
almost ashamed to be recognised as a Christian 
professor. It was a miracle of mercy that he 
was not swept away by the torrent, in which, 
it is to be feared that not a few of his compan- 
ions were lost; but he was saved, to be em- 
ployed for half a century as an eminent instru- 
ment of making known the riches of redeeming 


From the commencement of his ministry, he 
was remarkable for his zeal in the cause of his 
Divine Master, for the entireness with which he 
devoted himself to God in the gospel of his Son, 
and for the earnestness with which he entreated 
men (both from the pulpit and the press) to be 
reconciled to God. There can be little doubt, 
from the manner in which he afterward used 
to speak of his collegiate days, that his zeal and 
devotedness were quickened by the remem- 
brance of his former unfaithfulness. Nor is this 
an uncommon method of God's providence, 
thus bringing good out of evil ; we have an il- 
lustration of it in the history of the two most 
eminent of the apostles, the great apostle of 
the Circumcision, and the great apostle of the 
Gentiles. How remarkably, for instance, are 
the epistles of Peter, (once so confident, yet who 
was left to fall so low,) imbued with an humble, 
tender spirit. And who can doubt that Paul's 
labours in the gospel were rendered all the 
more unwearied and incessant, by the recollec- 
tion that he had once been a " blasphemer and 
a persecutor, and injurious !" 

Mr. Proudfit was graduated in 1792, and with 
the reputation of being one of the finest schol- 
ars of his class. The prize he took was the 
Latin Salutatory, then esteemed the highest hon- 
our of the graduating class. Professor Wil- 


son told his father that he was the best Greek 
scholar he had ever had under his care ; Judge 
Webster and General Williams, the members of 
Congress from Northern New-York, paid him 
the most marked and flattering attentions, and 
declared at a public dinner-party about the time 
of the Commencement, that he was an honour 
to the county which had reared him. It is not 
surprising that such a sudden accession of hon- 
ours, operating upon a young mind accustomed 
to strict seclusion and laborious study, should 
have awakened within him ambitious hopes, 
and longings to which he had been previously a 
stranger. His purpose to devote himself to the 
holy ministry, which had been formed at the 
time of his entering college, or not long after, 
now began to waver. While his mind was in 
this state of hesitation, he called upon his ven- 
erable and excellent friend, and accustomed coun- 
sellor. Dr. John Mason.* To the inquiry of the 
latter, what profession he had determined upon, 
Mr. Proudfit answered, that he had not quite 
made up his mind. His friend instantly pene- 
trated the true cause of his indecision, and said, 
"Alexander, if you leave the service of Christ in 
the ministry for the pursuit of worldly honours, 
he will raise up others to serve him. They will 
obtain 'their own souls for a prey,' and yours 

* The father of the late Dr. John M. Mason. 



may be lost." The evil spirit of ambition and 
worldly-mindedness was instantly subdued by 
these solemn and somewhat stern words of a 
true and unshrinking friend. He has often said 
that the impression which they made upon his 
mind could never be described, and would never 
be forgotten. It was the voice of Christ speak- 
ing to him through the lips of his servant, and 
saying " what is that to thee ? follow thou me !" 
" A word spoken in due season, how good is it !" 
How great the power of faithful Christian coun- 
sel and rebuke? not that which speaketh like 
the piercings of a sw^ord, but that which infuses 
the balm of love into the wounds inflicted by a 
needful and wise severity. Mr. Proudfit ever 
afterward spoke of this interview with Dr. 
Mason* with deep emotion ; and no wonder, 
for he was then at a turning point in his history, 
when a single false step might have proved ir- 
retrievable. It was shortly after followed by a 
determination, formed in a more distinct and 
solemn manner, to consecrate himself to God in 
the gospel of his Son, and often has he express- 
ed his joy and gratitude in the remembrance of 
the decision, which a gracious God then enabled 
him to make. " O ! I have found Christ a kind 

* This excellent man was called home to his eternal rest very 
soon after the event above mentioned. How high he stood in the 
esteem of all who knew him, may be seen in the fine tribute to his 
memory by Dr. Miller in his Life of Dr. Rodgers, 


and liberal master," was one of his frequent and 
favourite expressions. 

He immediately entered upon the study of 
theology under the direction of his father, in 
whom he had a fine model of all that the Chris- 
tian minister should be. And destitute as he 
was of many of the helps enjoyed by a stu- 
dent in a town or city, he ever afterward look- 
ed back with peculiar fondness and delight to 
those earliest days of preparation for the min- 
istry, which were spent in quiet study and de- 
votion among his father's old books. It was 
just the fit place to " give himself" to prayer, 
meditation, and reading. Far be it from us to 
decry or underrate those schools of the proph- 
ets which have been established in our country 
during the last forty years, and to which the 
American Church, in all her departments, is so 
much indebted. Highly as we estimate their 
importance, and great as are the advantages 
which they furnish to the candidate for the min- 
istry, we are, at the same time, strongly convin- 
ced that he would lose nothing by spending a 
part of the period of preparatory study in the quiet 
solitude of some godly and experienced pastor's 
library, in solemn communion with Christ, and 
earnest converse with the mighty dead. No 
doubt, very great spirituality of mind may be 
attained, even in the midst of the routine of stud- 


ies, and the incessant bustle of a large semina- 
ry ; yet it must be admitted that they are not 
very favourable to that close self-communion 
and self-inspection, that deep personal acquaint- 
ance w^ith the mysteries of Christ, v^^hich are so 
necessary, if the youthful minister would know, 
beyond all perad venture, that unto him is the 
grace given to preach the unsearchable riches 
of Christ, and be able to say, " that which we 
have seen and heard declare we unto you, that 
ye also may have fellowship with us ; and truly 
our fellowship is with the Father, and with his 
Son, Jesus Christ." 

After remaining at home one year, he return- 
ed to New- York with a view to attend the lec- 
tures in divinity of the late Reverend Dr. John 
H. Livingston, one of the most learned theologi- 
ans of his day, and one of the best theological 
instructors with which the American Church has 
ever been favoured. In taking this step, Mr. 
Proudfit was only complying with the express 
recommendation of the branch of the church to 
which he belonged.* This circumstance is wor- 

* In 178G, the Synod " earnestly recommended to young men 
who may have a view of entering into the holy ministry, to pro- 
cure from their teachers proper testimonials of their acquaintance 
with human literature, and that they attend the lectures of the 
Reverend Dr. Livingston, professor of divinity in the Reformed 
Protestant Dutch Church at New-York, at least one year."— M^S^S. 
Records, I., 44. 


thy of a passing notice, because it shows that, 
with all the seeming exclusiveness of that day, 
there was, at the same time, in the several branch- 
es of the Presbyterian church, a good measure 
of true christian Catholicism. Mr. Proudfit con- 
tinued with Dr. Livingston until the completion 
of his studies, and subsequently maintained with 
him a warm and intimate friendship, which was 
terminated only by the death of Dr. Livingston, 
who closed his long and useful services to the 
church in 1825. 

In 1794, Mr. Proudfit was licensed to preach 
the Gospel by the Presbytery of Washington, 
under the inspection of the Associate Reformed 
Synod, the presbytery of which his father was a 
member, and in the bounds of which he was him- 
self spared to labour for nearly half a century. 
The following extract of the presbyterial rec- 
ords, containing the subjects of his trial discour- 
ses, will be read with interest by his old friends 
in his former pastoral charge : 

" Mr. Alexander Proudfit, A.B., formerly a 
student of divinity under the care of the Pres- 
bytery of New- York, and recommended to Syn- 
od for license, had assigned to him the following 
pieces of trial, viz. : 1. A popular sermon from 
2 Cor., v., 14. 2. A lecture from John, x., 1-5. 
3. An exegesis, " An reatus primi peccati Ada- 
mi proprie imputatur omnibus posteris ?" A 
B 2 


few months afterward the following pieces of tri- 
al were assigned to him by the same body, with 
a view to his ordination to the holy ministry, 
viz. : 1. An exercise and addition (or, as it is 
now called, a critical exercise), on Heb., i., 3. 
2. A lecture on Psalm iii. 3. An exegesis, " An 
infantes fidelium sunt baptisandi ?" He was li- 
censed at a meeting of presbytery, held in Gal- 
way, Saratoga County, on the 7th of October, 

It is much to be lamented that Mr. Proudfit 
has left no full record of the two years which 
he spent in the formal work of preparing for the 
ministry, of his studies, and his spiritual exerci- 
ses. This is all the more to be regretted, be- 
cause, from the manner in which he entered upon 
the duties of the sacred office, it is manifest that 
his mind had become imbued with a deep seri- 
ousness ; and from one of his resolutions adopt- 
ed in 1800, this appears to have been a season 
during which, he greatly " abounded in joy 
through the power of the Holy Spirit." Next 
to the diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, he 
loved to converse with the great Nonconform- 
ist theologians of the seventeenth century, and 
especially with John Owen, of whom the late 
Mr. Cecil testifies, that he is before all others in 
his ability to furnish the student's mind. Mr. 
Proudfit's surviving friends bear witness that he 


was, during the period before referred to, and 
for many years after his ordination,*a laborious 
student, rising in summer with the first dawn of 
day, that he might devote the freshness and qui- 
et of morning's earhest hours to undisturbed 
reading and meditation. With this intellectual 
activity, he combined the diligent cultivation of 
the heart ; his studies were prosecuted under 
the blessed influence of the Spirit of holiness, and 
many an hour was consecrated to the solemn 
and most profitable exercises of fasting and pray- 
er. The happy eflfect of such a training for the 
holy ministry was seen from the first moment 
of his entrance into the pulpit ; it was evident 
to all, that he not only pointed to others the road 
to heaven, but himself led the way. 




About three months after Mr. Proudfit's li- 
censure, he was called by the congregation of 
Salem to become the colleague and successor 
of his father. This call he accepted, and was 
ordained and installed in that charge on the 13th 
of May, 1795. Such settlements of " a son with 
a father" in the ministry of reconciliation have 
not been uncommon ; but the cases are by no 
means frequent in which the son has succeeded 
to the respect and veneration in which the father 
had been held. There are grounds, however, 
for believing that, from the first, Mr. Proudfit was 
" esteemed very highly in love" by his people, 
for his own sake as well as for his father's. No 
pastor could stand higher than he did in the af- 
fectionate regards of his congregation. 

Of his " manner of entering into" the pastoral 
office, and the zeal with which he laboured for 
the salvation of those " among whom he went 
preaching the Gospel of Christ," a judgment may 
be formed from the following interesting com- 
munication by Mr. John M'Murray, for many 
years past an elder of the church of Salem : 
" Of Mr. Proudfit's early life," he writes, " I rec- 


ollect but little ; he was probably about thirteen 
when he came to this town with his father's fam- 
ily, and he was afterward absent a considerable 
time receiving his education. Of his early min- 
istry I recollect something. I remember his first 
communion, especially the Saturday's prepara- 
tory services ; he had finished his sermon, and 
given notice of the distribution of tokens,* when, 
coming down from the pulpit for that purpose, 
he stopped upon the stairs, and commenced a 
most solemn and earnest exhortation to intended, 
communicants. The language of the address 
was probably soon forgotten, but the attitude of 
the speaker and the sensation produced on the 
audience are still fresh on my mind ; and, al- 
though about forty-nine years have elapsed, I 
can now, when reflecting on that old church and 
that young minister, adopt the sentiment of the 

" ' Deserted now Ihy fane ; 

The herald's voice, the song, the prayer 
Are silent ; but the fragrance still remains 
Which filled me there.' 

* The use of tokens in connexion with the observance of the 
Lord's Supper is a custom peculiar to Scottish Presbyterian 
Churches. After the preparation sermon on Saturday, the com- 
municants came forward to the foot of the pulpit, and received 
from the minister, each of them, a token, which is just equivalent 
to a certificate of membership. The custom was early introduced 
into the Church of Scotland, probably in consequence of the vast 
multitudes which, at that day, usually assembled whenever this 
holy ordinance was administered. 


During the first years of his ministry he contin- 
ued this practice at the giving of tokens ; but, by 
becoming common, it ceased to produce the same 
effect, and he omitted it. 

" I recollect his tender anxiety for the Christian 
conduct of his people ; if any of them were guilty 
of disorderly conduct — and in those days of the 
common use of intoxicating liquors disorders 
would occasionally happen — his wounded feel- 
ings were plainly indicated by his appearance in 
the pulpit on the following Sabbath ; and while 
with meekness and gentleness he would expos- 
tulate with the delinquents, his own emotions 
would frequently become so powerful as to stop 
his utterance, when he would sit down until his 
mind became composed, and then he would rise 
and resume his discourse. These scenes, when 
they happened, always produced a solemn effect 
upon the audience. 

I recollect, also, some of the plans he adopted 
in the early part of his ministry for the instruc- 
tion of youth. The second winter after his set- 
tlement he divided the congregation into four 
sections, and appointed a young man as super- 
intendent in each section, whose duty it was to 
keep a list of all the youth in his district who 
were old enough to commit to memory and an- 
swer questions, and also to see that they all at- 
tended the public catechising. By this means, 


the Shorter Catechism was learned by all, Muck- 
ersie's by most, and the larger by many, and the 
Scripture proofs by some. This plan, in time, 
gave v^ay to others ; but throughout his ministry 
his attention was so unremittingly directed to 
the young people of his charge that it was said 
he could call them all by name. He had. an ar- 
dent attachment to social prayer. This occa- 
sioned his exertions to have prayer meetings 
kept up in different parts of the congregation, and 
he always expressed his delight in them, not 
only as a means of doing, but of receiving good. 
When he appointed a prayer meeting in a par- 
ticular district, he would, during the forenoon of 
the day, go through the neighbourhood, urging 
the people to attend. He had a peculiar facul- 
ty of making those meetings interesting and prof- 
itable ; he seldom preached, but conversed, ex- 
horted, prayed, and called on others to pray, and 
catechised the young. If any of his Christian 
friends called upon him, or he on them, and a suit- 
able occasion offered, he always proposed pray- 
er. In fact, he seemed to live in an atmosphere 
of devotion ; even in travelling on the road, pass- 
ing to or from the adjoining towns in company 
with any of his elders, on coming to a retired 
part of the road, he would say, * Here is a pri- 
vate place ; let us stop and offer up a prayer.* 
Several of those places are hallowed in the rec- 


ollection of some of those elders. In many in- 
stances whole families, who had lived in the neg- 
lect of ordinances, were brought into the fold 
of Christ ; and for forty years, though many 
were removing to new countries, the accessions 
so overbalanced the removals as to occasion a 
constant increase of members. I believe in that 
time there was no communion without receiving 
some new members, the number varying from 
one to over forty. On account of his extensive 
acquaintance with Christians of other denomi- 
nations, many from a distance often attended his 
communion services, and were always received 
with pleasure to the hospitalities of his house, 
and to the communion of the church ; among 
them I have often seen young divinity students 
from Massachusetts, and venerable deacons from 

" It was usual to give tokens of admission to 
the members of the Presbyterian Church in this 
place, with whom we were acquainted, when 
they applied for them. At one time they were 
disappointed of preaching in their own church 
on the morning of our communion, and came in 
a body to ours ; the doctor called the session to- 
gether, and it was resolved unanimously to in- 
vite them to unite with us ; their elders were 
furnished with tokens for the people, and the 
members of the two churches intermingled 


around the table of their common Lord. It was 
an occasion of joy to many pious hearts, who 
considered it a pledge of the time when their One 
Shepherd should have but one visible fold. 
Many who united on that occasion are now, we 
trust, associated in the heavenly temple, among 
whom are three elders of each session, with the 
ministers of both churches. 

" I recollect that the services of some com- 
munion seasons commenced at ten o'clock on the 
Friday ; one hour was spent in prayer, then ser- 
mon, then an interval, and the afternoon spent 
in addresses, exhortations, and prayers ; Sat- 
urday, the same ; Sabbath forenoon was devo- 
ted to the action sermon, in the afternoon the 
communion was administered, and the whole 
concluded on the Monday at noon. On the 
week days he had the help of as many minis- 
ters as he could get : on one of those days the 
Reverend Mr. Tomb, his neighbour, exclaimed, 
* It is the happiest day I ever saw P 

" When there seemed to be much excitement 
in the congregation, the doctor would invite 
those who wished to have private conversation 
to repair to a certain part of the church ; I have 
seen those seats crowded with persons of differ- 
ent ages, asking, with tears, ' what they must 
do to be saved.' 

" Mr. Proudfit took an active interest in our 


common schools ; at that time there was no such 
office as that of town superintendent of common 
schools, but he faithfully performed many of the 
duties of that office ; he visited all the schools 
in the town every year ; he suggested and car- 
ried into effect the plan of common school cel- 
ebrations, when they all met in the church, each 
school under its own teacher ; addresses w^ere 
then delivered suited to the occasion. He con- 
cluded his care of the schools by making a do- 
nation of the Evangelical Family Library, in 
fifteen volumes, and a copy of the work entitled 
^ The Power of Religion,' to each district in 
the town, and to two in the adjoining towns ; he 
also gave to each child in the congregation a 
copy of the Shorter Catechism, with proofs." 

Some of the facts contained in this commu- 
nication belong to the later periods of Mr. Proud- 
fit's ministry ; still, the whole letter is quite in 
place, as it serves to show that, from the com- 
mencement to the close of his pastoral life, he 
was the same zealous, painstaking minister of 
Christ, ready for every good word and work. 
With all these out-door labours in pastoral vis- 
itation, the maintenance of prayer meetings, cat- 
echising the young, and watching over the com- 
mon schools, Mr. Proudfit was by no means un- 
mindful of the apostolic command, " give atten- 
tion to reading." In none of his papers are 


there any references to his studies ; this we re- 
gret the more, because such notices enable us to 
mark the intellectual progress of a minister, and 
to ascertain the influences which gave tone to his 
principles and character. Still, they are not need- 
ed to prove that Mr. Proudfit was, what every 
young minister must become who desires to be 
greatly useful in his day and generation, a labori- 
ous student. He once observed to the writer that 
" no divinity student could study harder than he 
did during the first twenty years of his ministry ;" 
at this period he was in the habit of rising two 
hours before day for the purpose of study. There 
is a letter from Dr. J. M. Mason of New- York 
dated 6th of September, 1799, which indirectly 
confirms the above statement, and helps to show 
the range of Mr. Proudfit's reading : " I wrote 
you a long time since by post a lengthy letter, 
to which I requested a speedy answer. It seems 
to have miscarried. I mentioned that I had pur- 
chased for you Hume's England in eight vol- 
umes, bound in calf, price ten dollars. I have 
also on hand an excellent copy of the best edi- 
tion of the Apostolic Fathers, Greek and Latin, 
in two volumes, folio, same price ; and also a 
copy of the works of Athanasius for five dollars. 
Taylor's Hebrew Concordance, I found, could 
not be procui'ed new for less than sixteen dol- 
lars ; and I offered you your choice, either to 


take mine at twelve dollars, or to have the one 
which I should send for. It has arrived, and I 
now give you the same choice. I have paid 
about sixteen dollars for the new one." The 
gathering of such works by a young minister, 
in a remote country parish, indicates a determi- 
nation to make himself intellectually a well-fur- 
nished minister of the New Testament. The 
members of the Synod to which he belonged 
signified their sense of his abilities and theologi- 
cal attainmer^ts, by appointing him, in 1798, 
within three years after his ordination, to pre- 
pare the draught of an act on the subject of 
" The Kingly Authority of Christ," which is to 
be found among the printed Acts and Testimo- 
nies of the Associate Reformed Church. It con- 
tains a brief but clear statement of the Scrip- 
tural doctrine of Christ's supreme headship ; 
and, like all the other productions of Mr. Proud- 
fit, affords evidence of an extensive and accurate 
acquaintance with Christian theology, and of a 
taste refined by frequent converse with the most 
elegant models of English composition. 

The letter of Dr. Mason, just quoted, leads 
us to observe that a very intimate and w^arm 
friendship subsisted between that eminent man 
and the subject of this memoir. In a letter da- 
ted New- York, July 1, 1795, the former thus 
writes : " Oh! Alexander, you are near my heart, 


and deep in my affections. I hope our friend- 
ship originated in Christian principle, and has 
been sanctified by the good Spirit of our God. 
I pray it may continue unimpaired by time, un- 
destroyed by death. Jehovah Jesus bless my 
friend and support him, and make him an able 
minister of the New Testament." 

Their fathers had long been fellows-presbyters, 
as well as ardently attached friends ; and the 
sons, for a short tiaie, were fellow-students. 
Soon after the entrance of these young friends 
into the ministry they commenced a correspond- 
ence, with a view to put each other in posses- 
sion of their spiritual experience. It is much to 
be lamented that these letters cannot now be 
fully recovered. There are, however, a few of 
Dr. Mason's letters still remaining, some of 
which seem, from their tenor, to have belonged 
to this series ; they will in any event be read 
with interest by the friends of both these excel- 
lent men. The first is dated 

" New- York, 4th May, 1797. 
"My very DEAR Friend, 

" Your affectionate letter of the 6th ult. reach- 
ed me nine days after it was written. Its ani- 
mating and evangelical sentiment I found not 
more seasonable than adapted to enliven a drow- 
sy frame and cheer a dejected heart. Yes ! my 
friend, a spirit of slumber has crept upon church- 


es and ministers ; and a more fatal enemy to 
solid peace, to joy in our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
to successful vigour in his work, can hardly as- 
sail us. A great proportion of my conflict lies 
with this foe. There are times when the func- 
tions of spiritual life seem suspended, when ev- 
idences of grace elude our grasp, and the very 
energies of intellect are fixed in apathy. Yet it 
is some consolation if we have sensibility enough 
to feel that this is a wretched condition. I am 
sometimes so foolish as to imagine that, if I were 
rid of this plague, the rest of my burdens would 
be light, and the rest of my battles easy. But 
I have experienced every trial to be, in its turn, 
infinitely more than a match for my resolutions 
and eflforts. The present cross is always the 
most painful ; and it is no small part of our sim- 
plicity that we are more anxious to throw it off* 
than to bear it ; to exchange it than to have it 
sanctified. Yet why should our hearts be ap- 
palled, or why our patience exhausted ? These 
are the footsteps of the flock. Our Captain, the 
Captain of our salvation, hath told us that * we 
must through much tribulation enter the king- 
dom.' Without it, we should have much bet- 
ter reason to question our sonship, than from 
our united temptations, darknesses, deadnesses, 
and corruptions. But he hath said, and blessed, 
forever blessed be his name that he hath said 


it, * my grace is sufficient for thee, my strength 
is made perfect in weakness.' All-sufficient 
grace ! strength perfected in weakness ! Well, 
then, worm Jacob shall thresh the mountains ; 
and you and I, oh friend, be more than conquer- 
ors through him that loved us ; how delightful 
and how refreshing ! Oh for faith of God's op- 
eration, to give implicit and universal credit to 
the veracity of Jesus the promiser ; and worth- 
less, and faithless, and treacherous as we are, 
we cannot deny that he hath done great things 
for us, whereof we are glad. My drooping soul 
he sometimes brings out of the prison, my dried 
affections softens with his dews of blessing, and 
with all the reason in the world to be ashamed 
and confounded before him, I think I can say 
with Peter, when I have nothing to say of at- 
tainments, ' Lord, thou knowest all things, thou 
knowest that I love thee.' To this my friend 
is no stranger ; and if we love him, it is because 
he first loved us. Let us therefore join our voices 
and sing of the mercies of the Lord. 

" Through the blessing of Jehovah, my congre- 
gation flourishes. Peace is within our walls, 
and prosperity within our palaces. Our sacra- 
mental Sabbath, which is just passed, was com- 
fortable. Many, I hope, could, say, ' truly our 
fellowship hath been with the Father, and with 
his Son Jesus Christ.' Adored be his grace ; 


we yet see he hath not forsaken Zion. We had 
twenty-four new communicants ; above three 
hundred and twenty sat down with us. The 
foundations of our second place of worship are 
laid, and the work goes on with great spirit." 

In another letter, dated New- York, 10th Sep- 
tember, 1798, Dr. Mason thus writes, in refer- 
ence to a proposal which his friend had made 
for a concert of prayer : " I will most cheerfully 
join you in consecrating some set portion of 
time for every week for the communion of saints 
at the throne of grace. Seven in the evening 
of the Lord's day is an hour at which I shall be 
liable to the least interruption. I shall meet you 
at the mercy-seat at that time next Lord's day. 
In looking for blessings, should we not begin 
with our own souls ? I desire to know more of 
the fellowship of the Saviour's sufferings, and 
of the power of his resurrection. I need spirit- 
ual-mindedness. and long for the powerful seal- 
ing of the Spirit of promise unto the day of re- 
demption. Should not the scarcity of labour- 
ers in the vineyard, and the small prospect of 
their increase, lie very near our hearts ? Ought 
we not earnestly to solicit the Lord to pour out a 
Christian spirit upon those who profess Christ, to 
break that accursed worldly-mindedness which 
is the epidemic sin of the professing world, and 


is eating out the savour of piety ? that the love 
of Christ may constrain them to bring more 
wilHng and effective offerings of their perishing 
substance, for the firm support, and the vigor- 
ous extension of his gracious kingdom ? Should 
we not supphcate very particularly at present 
for the sanctification of the rod to our sinning 
land ? Should vve not fervently intercede v\^ith 
our Father in heaven, that, while he blesses his 
Church at large, he would especially favour 
that branch of it with which we are more im- 
mediately connected, by keeping us from the 
pride of growing prosperity, by rendering us 
awfully cautious against the dangerous influence 
of carnal men, by preserving unimpaired the 
sweet savour of the cross of Christ in our pul 
pits and families, and the regular, unaccommoda- 
ting exercise of spiritual discipline ? Surely, if 
the Lord delight in us, he will keep us from that 
dreadful curse, an ignorant, formal, carnal min- 
istry, which will infallibly be followed by a 
spirit of slumber among the people. Suppose 
we take these subjects in course. I keep a mem- 
orandum of them. Add others as they shall oc- 
cur, and let me know. It does not seem to me 
for real edification to protract the immediate ex- 
ercise of prayer ; perhaps it may be as well to 
begin with meditation intermingled with ejacula- 
tions ; to spend, say a quarter of an hour in this, 


and then to join in prayer. If you think other- 
wise, tell me so." 

The next letter is dated "New- York, 9th Feb- 
ruary, 1799 ;" and though unconnected with the 
series before mentioned, will doubtless be read 
with interest. Among other topics, it tells of 
additions to the Kbrary of the writer's rural 
brother, and thus casts some light upon his 
course of study. " I have purchased for you 
Hume's England. I have fallen in with some 
other works, which I mention to you first, viz., 
Athanasii Opera, 2 vols. fol. ; Patres Apostolici, 
ed. opt., 2 vols. ; Homeri Opera Spondani ; 
Plautus Gronovii ; Belsham's George III. ; Tay- 
lor's Key to the Epistle to Romans (an artful 
piece of heresy) ; Knox on Education, transla- 
ted into French; Witsii Exer. Academicse ; 
Seeker's Works ; Le Clerc on the Religion of 
the Ancient Greeks ; Bourdaloue's Sermons ; 
yea or nay ? I would gladly have visited you 
during my banishment from the city ; but the 
Lord saw meet to dispose of me otherwise. A 
severe fever, which held me, with a very short 
interval, for six weeks, reduced me to such ex- 
treme debility, that I was near fainting with the 
fatigue of ascending a single flight of steps. I 
was rapidly restored after the 19th of Novem- 
ber, and enjoy my health at present better than 
at any period for three years back. The Lord 


hath sorely scourged our city. He has been 
gentle to my congregation. I have not lost 
more than twenty communicants ; but some of 
them were wrestlers in Zion. Among the vic- 
tims in Philadelphia are Mrs. Dick and her 
daughter. How near, my brother, do we con- 
stantly tread on the confines of the eternal 
world ! May Jehovah the Spirit so teach us to 
number our days as to apply our hearts unto 

" Last Tuesday, being the 5th, was observed 
in this city as a day of humiUation, thanksgiving, 
and prayer. The solemn, and apparently de- 
vout attention of all ranks, ^as singular. Busi- 
ness and amusements universally suspended ; 
shops shut up ; churches crowded ; and some 
tokens of the Lord's gracious presence marked 
the day. I preached the whole day from the 
first part of Psalm Ixv., 5. May the good Lord 
grant the prayers which were assuredly sent up 
to the throne by multitudes who know what it 
means to worship in spirit and in truth. My 
most cordial respects to your venerable father. 
My soul triumphs in the grave but glorious 
spectacle of an aged believer on the eve of be- 
ing gathered to his rest, like a shock of corn fully 
ripe for the harvest. ' Well done,' from the 
grace-speaking lips of Jesus, will a thousand fold 
repay the toils and troubles of his pilgrimage 


here. It is good ; it is pleasant ; it is blessed. 
A Christian departing to be with Christ ! How 
rapturous ! how divine ! Be it my portion, O 
Saviour, and call me when thou wilt. Let us^ 
also; press towards the mark. We have so 
many accursed plagues about these sinful hearts, 
that it seems to require but a little grace to look 
out wistfully for the day of deHverance. Oh ! 
it is coming, and then we shall indeed sing to 
him that loved us, and washed us from our sins 
in his own, yea, his own most precious blood. 
The Lord Jesus be with your spirit. Pray for 

your friend and brother, J. M. Mason." 


In another letter, written a few months after 
the above, Dr. Mason says, " I thank you for 
your kind note, and your good sermon on family 
religion. The Lord the Spirit bless it for the 
purposes for which it was penned and print- 

The sermon here referred to was one of the 
first of Mr. Proudfit's publications. It appears 
to have been preached by him on a New- Year's 
day, and was published chiefly for the purpose 
of gratuitous circulation, in the first instance, 
among his own people, and subsequently among 
the destitute inhabitants of the frontier settle- 
ments. In those days tract societies were un- 
known ; religious books were much more ex- 


pensive than they now are, and were very- 
scarce, especially in districts so remote from the 
larger towns and cities as that in which Mr. 
Proudfit was called to labour. 

His publications were designed to supply this 
want ; for several years in succession he was 
accustomed to print some small practical work 
from his own pen, or to republish some of the 
precious remains of a former age for gratuitous 
distribution as New- Year's presents ;* and, chan- 
ged as are the circumstances of ministers in the 
present day from those of the last generation, 
we have no doubt that the usefulness of many 
a pastor would be considerably increased by his 
occasionally addressing his people in the same 
way through the medium of the press. This 
first publication of Mr. Proudfit is a plain, seri- 
ous, practical exposition of the duty of Family 
Religion, and of the advantages resulting from 
its faithful performance. Besides the daily wor- 
ship of God, he strongly urges the occasional 
observance of the exercises of fasting, humilia- 
tion, and prayer. " This exercise," says he, 
" has frequently been observed by the righteous 
with visible and eminent success ; evidences of 
the Lord's wrath have been removed, and the 

* Among these were Guthrie's Trial of a Saving Interest in 
Christ, The Spiritual Tradesman, and Owen on Forgiveness, 
which were published chiefly at his own expense. 

4 E 


light of his countenance restored. Does the 
hand of the Almighty lie heavy upon our hab- 
itation ; have we been visited by any remarka- 
ble adversity ; do the movements of Providence 
appear dark, so that we cannot find our path ; 
or is there some singular blessing which we de- 
sire to obtain : these are proper seasons for 
families to approach the Lord in the solemnities 
of fasting and humiliation ; to inquire by special 
prayer what is the ground of his controversy, 
imploring him to discover to us our secret faults, 
which are the cause of his indignation, and in 
deserved wrath to remember mercy. It is 
equally proper, as circumstances require, to sep- 
arate days for the exercises of thanksgiving and 
praise. If our condition is particularly prosper- 
ous, if our families enjoy health when disease 
and death wave their banner round, or if we are 
visited of the Lord with his covenant consola- 
tions, it becomes us as a family to unite in pre- 
senting the sacrifice of adoration and thanksgiv- 
ing." In these exercises he may be truly said 
to have abounded, as his diary proves, from the 
earlier years of his ministry until the close of 
life ; he could thus, from his own experience, 
testify to their excellence and value. 

The next letter of Dr. Mason, and which, from 
its tenour, appears to belong to the series before 
mentioned, is dated 


" New- York, February 19, 1799. 
" My very DEAR Brother, 
" Your letter of the 6th came to hand on the 
14th, and that of the 9th yesterday. I feel not 
a Httle affected by the dispensation of holy 
Providence towa;rds you ; but I desire to rejoice 
in your joy, that though you went through fire 
and through v^ater, yet He brought you to a 
wealthy place. Oh ! my brother, it is our Father 
who smites, and every rod of his correction 
grows upon the Tree of Life. I can sing of his 
mercies. I, too, can remember the days of the 
right hand of the Most High. I, too, know, I 
trust, something of the gracious experience 
which teaches to glorify him in the fires, which 
makes the cross most precious, and makes us 
spurn the exchange of our afflictions with all 
the pleasures of sin. When he laid me down 
during my late exile in a burning fever, he 
thought of his promise, and made my bed. The 
power of his consolations was beyond expres- 
sion. He revealed himself to me in the glory 
of his Word, as God, even my own God. I had 
for several hours, on a night never to be forgot- 
ten, no liberty to utter aught but ' bless the Lord, 
O my soul !' The savour of it remains with 
me still ; these are precious pledges that he will 
perform his word to us, and bring us at last into 
his heavenly kingdom. Oh ! how divine ! how 


overwhelming ! My soul doth magnify the 
Lord, my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour. 
Yet a little while, my dear friend, and we shall 
see him as he is, and shall learn to shout as we 
cannot now conceive, salvation to him that sit- 
teth on the throne, and to the Lamb. Halle- 

" Accept my thanks for your comforting mis- 
sionary sermon. The good Lord bless it." 

The providence to which reference is made 
in the beginning of this letter is not known, the 
letter of Mr. Proudfit in which it is described 
not having been preserved, and there being no 
account of it in any of his remaining papers.* 
The sermon spoken of was preached in Troy, 
at the first meeting of the Northern Missionary 
Society, an institution of which Mr. Proudfit was 
one of the founders, and during its whole exist- 
ence was one of its most active friends. 

This missionary society was one of the first 
of the kind formed in this state. It was found- 
ed on a liberal basis, and was composed of mem- 
bers of the Associate Reformed Synod, of the 
General Assembly, and of the Reformed Dutch 
Church, who for many years co-operated very 
harmoniously in supplying the wants of North- 

* Dr. Mason, we are informed, was not in the habit of preserv- 
ing the letters received from his correspondents, nor his own. 


em and Western New- York. There seems to 
have been, at this period, but little of that secta- 
rian spirit which, of late years, has so complete- 
ly infused itself into all our domestic missionary 
operations, and is gradually separating into dis- 
tinct parties even those who for many years co- 
operated for the spread of the Gospel among pa- 
gan nations. 

Mr. Proud fit preached the sermon at the first 
annual meeting of the society, in Troy, Februa- 
ry 8th, 1798 ; and, by particular request, repeat- 
ed it in Albany, at a special meeting of the soci- 
ety, March 6th, 1798. The sermon (on Mark, 
xvi., 15) is entitled " The Gospel designed for 
all Nations," and it deserves notice both for its 
own intrinsic excellence, and as an exponent of 
the theological and literary attainments of the 
youthful preacher. The points discussed are, 
the nature of the Gospel, the extent of its oflfers, 
the obligation to attempt its universal diflfusion, 
and the encouragements to engage in the work : 
in the discussion of the first two points, the au- 
thor shows that his own views of the Gospel were 
definite and clear, and he brings out the peculiar 
principles of the evangelical system with a dis- 
tinctness which, it is to be feared, would not be 
altogether to the taste of many a missionary au- 
dience in the present day. But at that period 
the doctrinal difl^erences which have since aris- 


en among the different classes of Presbyterians 
were almost unknown ; the pecuHarities of New- 
England theology were at that time almost 
wholly confined to New-England, and hence, in 
all the missionary sermons preached at the an- 
niversaries of the societies in this state, there is 
a much fuller exhibition of the doctrines of the 
Gospel, as held by the Reformers and the Non- 
conformists, than would be deemed quite proper 
in a modern sermon before a mixed audience. 
Between the missionary sermons preached at 
the commencement of the present century and 
those of the present day there is a marked dif- 
ference, and, in our judgment, the difference is 
decidedly in favour of the former ; they are 
much more to our taste than the latter, because 
of their richer evangelical unction ; because they 
more fully unfold the nature of the Gospel of 
Christ. Other topics may furnish a better field 
for the display of the preachers ingenuity ; but 
surely it must be owned that the Gospel of the 
grace of God possesses the mightiest power to 
awaken the sympathies, and to call out the vig- 
orous exertions of the Christian in behalf of the 
millions in the dark lands of paganism who are 
perishing for lack of vision. This first mission- 
ary sermon of Mr. Proudfit, while admirably 
calculated to build up those who heard it in their 
most holv faith, was no less calculated to ani- 


mate them with zeal for the propagation of the 
Gospel at home and abroad. 

There was another institution established in 
the year 1796, in whose prosperity Mr. Proudfit 
took a deep interest ; we refer to Union College. 
This was the first undenominational college 
formed in the United States. Whether Mr. 
Proudfit can be considered as one of its found- 
ers we have not the means of determining ; but 
he was one of its earliest friends and trustees, 
and he continued an active member of the board 
until his decease. For many years he was in 
the habit of attending the examinations, taking 
an active share in the exercises on such occa- 
sions, and frequently closing them with an af- 
fectionate and paternal address to the students. 

In the former chapter it was mentioned that 
Mr. Proudfit gave evidence of the high regard 
in which he held his old instructer, Dr. Peter 
Wilson, by the efforts which he made to obtain 
the services of that excellent man as president 
of Union College, on the retirement of Dr. Smith 
in 1800. That was a very critical period in 
the history of the college ; and there is a curious 
letter to Mr. Proudfit from the late Reverend I. 
B. Johnson, then of Albany, which may be here 
introduced, as showing some of the difficulties 
in which the college was then placed, and the 
active part which Mr. Proudfit took in its af- 


"Albany, September 19, 1801. 
"My dear Friend, 

"I was sorry not to have met with you at 
Schenectady, when the trustees of the college 
last convened. But perhaps I ought now to be 
glad on that account ; for we wanted but one to 
make a board, and if you or any other thirteenth 
member had been present, we might have pro- 
ceeded to choose a president, and would prob- 
ably have been precipitate in the choice. I am 
led to this conclusion for reasons which will de- 
velop themselves in the following statement of 
facts : 

" Although only twelve of the trustees ap- 
peared in their room, yet we thought it well to 
confer a little about the proper person to suc- 
ceed Dr. Edwards, deceased. Many were men- 
tioned ; but it appears that Dr. Green, of Phila- 
delphia, and Dr. Maxcy, of Rhode Island Col- 
lege, commanded a large preponderance of opin- 
ion in their favour. I thought, however, that 
Dr. M. bid fair to be the successful candidate. 
It appeared reasonable to me, therefore, to com- 
municate what I knew of these gentlemen, and 
to solicit for myself and the other gentlemen 
such additional information as it might be in the 
power of any member present to give. My 
thoughts were freely expressed. I mentioned 
two objections to Dr. M. : the first, that he was 


a Baptist. This, it was said, might be no ob- 
jection to us, as it was not particularly to me ; 
but that the influence of such a man would be 
unpropitious to the prosperity of the institution, 
for that the support of the college must be deri- 
ved chiefly from those who were opposed to the 
Baptist persuasion, and perhaps had no incon- 
siderable prejudice against them. The second 
difficulty I stated was of a political nature. A 
gentleman present had, a good while ago, told 
me of an oration, delivered by President Maxcy 
on the fourth of July, which was praised as con- 
taining some of the most brilliant expressions 
and keen sarcasms, &c., against the anti-feder- 
alists, I had ever seen. From this I remarked, 
that he appeared to be a violent politician, who 
would have the support of a party only ; where- 
as the state of literature required that he should 
be acceptable to the great body of society. 
These observations having been made by me, 
Mr. Nott, from whom only I had got my in- 
formation respecting Dr. Maxcy, mentioned that 
he was liked by both parties in Rhode Island ; 
and that, as an evidence of this, while others 
had been assailed in the ne;^spapers, he had es- 
caped. Upon the whole, after some additional 
observations on the subject of his religious per- 
suasion, we seemed to agree that he was the 
best man we could get, and my own mind was 


almost determined to decide for him ; and I ex- 
pected, when the Board adjourned, that I should 
at the next meeting give him my vote and sup- 
port. In the evening, however, calling at Pro- 
fessor Allen's, I found that he had, and would 
lend to me, certain publications, * Addresses, 
Sermons,' &c., of President Maxcy. I was glad 
of this opportunity, in order to form an opinion 
of his abilities as a writer, for it was as a fine 
writer that he had been chiefly praised. I found 
he had some imagination, and sometimes produ- 
ced a glowing expression ; but I also met with 
' new English' words, outlandish idioms, incor- 
rect or unphilosophical notions, &c., such as 
' energize,' ' circumferential.' But this is nothing. 
A preface to a sermon, republished in June, 
1796, contains the following observation: 'The 
only thing essential to Christian union is love, or 
benevolent affection. It is, therefore, with me, 
a fixed principle, to censure no man except for 
immorality.' 'An entire coincidence in senti- 
ment, even in important doctrines, is by no 
means essential to Christian society, or the at- 
tainment of eternal felicity. How many are 
there, who appear to have been subjects of re- 
generation, who have scarcely an entire com- 
prehensive view of the doctrines of the Bible. 
Will the gates of Paradise be barred against 
these because they did not possess the penetra- 


ting sagacity of an Edwards ? or shall the great 
theological champions engross heaven, and shout 
hallelujahs from its walls, while a Priestley, a 
Price, and a Winchester, merely for difference 
in opinion, though pre-eminent in virtue, must 
sink into the regions of darkness and painf 
Enough ! enough ! I hear you indignantly ex- 
claim. A professed minister of Jesus makes 
the faith of Jesus of no avail ; and whether I 
believe him to be God or a creature, a true 
prophet or an impostor, I am equally acceptable 
to Dr. Maxcy, and shall find that all these con- 
tradictory sentiments are consistent with a cer- 
tain course to glory. I write this believing your 
sentiments to be mine, and that he ought by no 
means to be chosen. 1 hope you will be on the 
ground, with your J. B. Johnson." 

Dr. Maxcy, however, was chosen president 
of the college, and entered upon the duties of 
the office, though he remained in it only for a 
few years. In 1805 he accepted the offer of 
the presidency of the college at Charleston, 
S. C, and continued at the head of that institu- 
tion until his decease. 

It has been already mentioned that the North- 
ern Missionary Society was formed with a view 
to supply the great spiritual destitution of the 
northern and central parts of the State of New- 


York. Some idea may be formed of the extent 
of this destitution, and of the demands made 
upon the few settled pastors, from the fact pro- 
ved by the early records of the presbytery of 
Washington, that at least one third of the time 
of the ministers who composed it was spent in 
preaching the Gospel to the numerous small and 
destitute settlements in those extensive regions.* 
From the commencement of his ministry, Mr. 
Proudfit performed his full share of these ardu- 
ous labours. So deeply did he become inter- 
ested in behalf of these " settlements," that he 
resolved to devote a portion of each year to 
this work. Most of his published works were 
sent to the press for the purpose of circulation 
among these scattered families. Prompted by 
an earnest desire to testify the Gospel of the 
grace of God, he was " in journeyings oft," the 
perils and painfulness of which the ministers of 
the present day can scarcely form a just con- 
ception. Of one of these journeys we have been 
furnished with an account, by the same friend 

* " All this region, west to Niagara, and northward to the prov- 
inces of Canada, was, at that time (1783), comparatively an un- 
broken wilderness, physical and moral. On these valleys stood, 
within my own recollection, the majestic elm, towering above the 
other trees of the forest ; here, also, prowled the hungry panther, 
and I remember distinctly when one of our valuable citizens was 
protected from the fangs of this terror of the forest by the imme- 
diate interposition of a watchful Providence."— ifisf. Saleniy by Dr. 


to whom we are indebted for his recollections of 
Mr. Proudfif s early ministry, some extracts from 
which we shall here insert, for the sake of their 
connexion with the subject of this memoir, and 
also to show the hardships of the home mission- 
ary fifty years ago. 

" We all remember the interest your revered 
father* always manifested in those members of 
his congregation who removed to the frontier 
settlements, and were destitute of Divine ordi- 
nances. We have often heard him recount his 
journeyings, oft through woods and wildernesses, 
to visit them in their humble dwellings. It is to 
me a source of some satisfaction to reflect that, 
in the first tour of this kind, I accompanied him. 
I then saw a sample of those labours in which 
he was afterward so abundant ; I then felt some 
of those fatigues which he so long and so pa- 
tiently endured. 

" Several families from this town were pioneers 
in the settlement of the towns of Scipio and Mil- 
ton, on the Cayuga Lake, some of whom were 
memberff'of our congregation, and your father 
had not been long in the ministry before he de- 
termined to visit them. The country to be pass- 
ed through was new, much of it unsettled ; the 
state road had not yet been commenced. The 

* It is in the form of a letter, addressed to Reverend Profes- 
sor John Proudfit, D.D. 



Oneida Indians still occupied their lands, through 
which it was necessary to go. Upon the whole, 
the journey was deemed rather perilous, and our 
fathers who then composed the session had too 
much regard for their young minister willingly 
to permit him to undertake it altogether alone. 
They therefore proposed to me that, if I would 
accompany him, the session would provide 
means to defray my expenses. I readily ac- 
cepted the proposal, and was promptly furnished 
with money. 

" After the lapse of more than forty-six years, 
you will not expect me to recollect much of our 
journey ; and there is perhaps nothing worthy 
of recollection except as being your father's first 
missionary tour. The only incident I remem- 
ber of the first day was some difficulty we had 
in turning out of the road for lumbermen about 
the river, as the snow was deep, and they were 
not very accommodating. At that time there 
was no village at Saratoga Springs ; the road 
passed near the high rock, about which were a 
few log houses, while around Congress Spring 
were thick woods ; a small frame house had been 
just erected on the spot now occupied by Union 
Hall, which was the only building in the place. 
Within less than a mile from the Congress Spring 
we found trees fallen across the road, which oc- 
casioned us some trouble to pass. That night 


we reached the hospitable parsonage of the Rev- 
erend James Mairs,tne minister of Galv^ay, Sar- 
atoga county. Tuesday, 5th of March, left Mr. 
Mairs, and dined at Johnstown, and then rode 
along the bank of the Mohawk until night, 
when we put up at a tavern in Palatine, kept by 
a Mr. Weaver. This day was a very hard one ; 
I certainly never had been so tired before, and 
I believe I never have been since ; it had snow- 
ed all day, but in the afternoon we encountered 
a constant northwester. I do not know how far 
we rode, but I presume it was about fifty miles. 
Chilled through, and almost pounded to jelly, I 
could scarcely roll off my horse and get into the 
house ; we then had supper of tough beefsteak, 
and slept upon a bed of something that I thought 
a good deal harder than rye straw. 

" Wednesday, 6th. We rode through very 
deep snow several miles before breakfast ; we 
crossed the Mohawk at Utica, then a mere ham- 
let, containing a few small houses ; from thence 
to Whitestown the fields seemed, from the mul- 
titude of stumps, to have been newly cleared. 

" Tfiursday, 7th. We passed through the nine- 
mile wilderness, and came to the Indian village 
of Oneida Castle. Here we found a large tract 
of level ground which appeared to have been 
under cultivation for many years, as not a stump 
was to be seen. There were at this place some 


hundreds of Indian houses, all made of the bark 
of trees ; we stopped and went into a house by 
the road-side, but could hold no conversation 
with the inhabitants, as they were ignorant of 
our language, and we of theirs. As we passed 
along we started many deer that were browsing 
in the woods, and met long files of Indians on 
their hunting expeditions, armed with rifles and 
long knives, and painted in the most frightful 
manner. We spent the night at a very comfort- 
able tavern near Onondaga Hollow, kept by a 
famil y from Connecticut. After we were in bed, 
the landlord came into the room to ask your fa- 
ther if he was not a minister, saying that the 
family had been disputing upon the subject, some 
of them declaring that he was a Methodist min- 
ister, others that he was not ; when he found 
who your father was, he said that if he had 
known it they should have had prayers, and 
begged that we would call at his house on our 

" Friday, 8th. The country through which 
we passed this day was very thinly settled ; we 
found large tracts of oak openings ; others were 
very thickly and heavily timbered with cherry, 
ash, bass-wood, and white-wood trees of im- 
mense size. About sunset we reached Cayuga 
Lake ; we then turned south along the bank of 
the lake, passing through dense woods, and with 


no other road than a mere track in the snow. 
We at length discovered a light, and, on coming 
to the house, found that it belonged to Mr. An- 
drew Simpson, who received us very gladly. 
The next morning we rode a few miles farther 
to the house of Mr. John Clark, which we made 
our home. 

" Sabbath, 10th. Your father preached in a 
log cabin which was used as a school-house ; his 
text was Acts, iii., 26. After sermon he com- 
plained of severe depression of spirits, and ask- 
ed me if I had not observed it causing him em- 
barrassment while preaching. I told him there 
was nothing of the kind discernible. I do not 
know how often he preached, as I was not in 
company with him the whole time ; one of the 
places which he visited alone was called Indian 

" Sabbath, 17th. He preached and baptized 
children at Samuel Clark's. On Monday we set 
out on our return, and after passing over very 
much the same ground, and by the same stages, 
we arrived safely at Salem on Friday evening 
the 22d of March. 

'• This was my first journey with your fathei 
I have had many since, none of them so long, 
but all pleasant and profitable. The last one 
was about a year ago, from Whitehall ; the day 
pleasant ; we were alone ; he was full to over- 
5 F2 


flowing, and most delightfully communicative ; 
he appeared to me like one on the confines of 
heaven, occasionally looking in and enjoying a 
glimpse of the glory to be revealed, and occa- 
sionally looking back upon the world, retracing 
his journey through it, wondering at and admi- 
ring the goodness and mercy which had follow- 
ed him, enumerating particular instances of 
God's kindness, while, with deep humility and all 
the simplicity of a child, he seemed penetrated 
with a sense of his own shortcomings, and the 
remains of corruption with which he was still 
burdened, yet rejoicing in the hope of a speedy 

"'He longed 
To have his passport sign'd and be dismissed. 
'Tis done, and now he's happy ; the glad soul 
Has not a wish uncrown'd. Even the lag flesh 
Rests, too, in hope of meeting once again 
Its better half.' 

" May you and I, and our families and friends, 
be followers of those who, through faith and 
patience, now inherit the promises. 

" Yours trulv, 

" J. M'M. 

" Reverend Professor Proudfit, D.D." 

Though the special object of this missionary 

tour was to visit the few families living in the 

wilderness, which had formerly been connected 

with his own pastoral charge, it still brought 


him in contact with the Indian population in 
Central New- York, and was the means of ex- 
citing his warm sympathies in behalf of that un- 
happy race. In subsequent years he repeated- 
ly visited the Indian settlements. The Northern 
Missionary Society, very soon after its founda- 
tion, entered into this field, and long sustained 
the Gospel among several of the tribes of New- 
York Indians. Among the letters of Mr. Proud- 
fit, there are still remaining two addressed by 
him, in the name of the Society, to one of these 
settlements, and to the clergyman whom it was 
proposed to send among them. The letter to 
the Indians is as follows : 

"Salem, 11th Sept., 1800. 
"Brethren dearly Beloved, 
" Our hearts were greatly refreshed with those 
sentiments of affection and confidence which 
were expressed in your letter of October, 1799; 
and our joy was greatly increased to find that 
you so ardently desire a minister of the Lord 
Jesus, to reside constantly among you, and teach 
you, your children, and your wives, the truths 
of his precious Gospel. We ourselves esteem 
a knowledge of Christ infinitely interesting, and 
shall esteem it matter of everlasting joy if we 
can be instrumental, under God, in spreading 
among you the savour of his precious name. 
Although we live considerably distant from you, 


and although we may differ from you in cus- 
toms, colour, and language, yet we acknowledge 
you as our dear brethren by nature, as created 
by the same Great Spirit, as descended from the 
same original pair, and that Jesus whom we 
love, in whose blood we expect salvation, is the 
Saviour of all men, is the desire of all nations, 
is offered freely to people of every colour, of 
every country, of every language who will re- 
ceive him. These considerations both urge and 
encourage us to make every possible exertion to 
diffuse among your nation the knowledge of 
the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom are forgiveness 
of sins, peace with the Great Spirit, the adop- 
tion of sons, comfort in death, and everlasting 
blessedness to all who believe. 

Farther, as you have desired particularly our 
reverend brother, Mr. Crosby, we have attempt- 
ed, and still are attempting to obtain him as your 
minister ; and, should the Great Spirit dispose him 
to settle among you, we earnestly pray that he 
may enter your abodes in the fulness of the bless- 
ing of the Gospel of Christ, that he may be 
long spared as a blessing to your nation, and 
that, through his abundant labours, you, your 
wives and children, may become wise unto sal- 
vation. As we have formerly written, we again 
declare ourselves to be your true friends, that 
we desire not vour houses or lands, that our 


highest object in sending you teachers and min- 
isters is to make you happy in life, in death, and 
through eternity. By order of the Board of 
Northern Miss. See. 

" A. Proudfit, vS^ec'y.'* 

The second letter of the same date is ad- 
dressed to Rev. Mr. Sargeant, the well-known 
missionary to the Stockbridge Indians, and ap- 
pears to have been written with a view to ob- 
tain the person named in the letter to the Onei- 
das, as a stated pastor to that nation. 

Besides the letters relative to the Oneida In- 
dian mission, there is quite a collection of oth- 
ers, which attest the ardour of his Christian zeal 
and love. Many of them were private, others 
were written to the vacancies under the care 
of the Presbytery of Washington ; they breathe 
a most affectionate spirit, expressing the writer's 
deep sympathy with them in their destitute con- 
dition, and testify his readiness to supply their 
spiritual needs to the utmost of his ability, and, at 
the same time, urging them, with much solemni- 
ty, never to cease their own exertions until their 
eyes were permitted to " behold their teachers." 
Among all these letters, there is not one written, 
as too many presbyterial letters are, in a dry, 
curt, business-like form. Their general charac- 
ter may be gathered from the following speci- 
men. It is dated 


"Salem, 14th April, 1799. 

"To the vacant Congregation in L . 

" Beloved Brethren, 
" Your letter, handed me this morning, enclo- 
sing the petition for supplies, excited emotions 
of sorrow and joy ; of sorrow, when I hear of 
your desolate condition in a spiritual sense, being 
destitute, in a great measure, of both the stated 
and occasional preaching of the Gospel. This 
want, although little felt, or rarely lamented by 
the world in general, yet to those who have ex- 
perienced the power of religion it must be the 
subject of deep concern. How fervently did 
the soul of the Psalmist aspire after the sanctu-, 
ary of Divine grace. * One thing,' he ardently 
exclaims, ' have I desired of the Lord ;' amid 
all my other pursuits, this claims my principal, 
prominent attention ; * that I may dwell in the 
house of the Lord all the days of my life, to 
behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire 
in his temple ; for a day in thy courts is bet- 
ter than a thousand. I had rather be a door- 
keeper in the house of my God than to dwell 
in the tents of wickedness. 

" The preaching of the Gospel has been in 
all ages a special means of extending and es- 
tablishing the kingdom of the dear Redeemer. 
This, the Holy Ghost has honoured, perhaps, 
above every other ordinance for enlightening, 


alarming, encouraging, supporting, and perfect- 
ing all who are the subjects of his gracious in- 
fluence, and who shall hereafter be made heirs of 
everlasting salvation. Yet, brethren, it may 
seem as a consolation to you, and to me on your 
account, that Israel's God is not confined to or- 
dinances. He has, indeed, chosen Zion eminent- 
ly for his habitation. He delights in her * gates 
more than all the dwellings of Jacob,' yet he 
is not limited to her palaces. Easily he can, 
and frequently he does, convert the wilderness 
places, where the river of life never flows 
through the medium of the sanctuary, ' into a 
pool of water, and the dry land into water 
springs, to give drink to his people, his chosen.' 
Thus Bethel was to Jacob ; the Cave of Enge- 
di to David, a prison to Peter, a tribunal to Paul, 
a desert island to John, places of the most ami- 
able, intimate, and refreshing communion with 
their covenant God. He is ever near to them 
that call upon him. He is all-wise to discover 
our necessities, he is all gracious to compassion- 
ate, and all sufficient to supply them. 

" While I sympathize with you in your desolate 
condition, I cannot refrain from expressing that 
joy which I experienced in learning from your 
petition that a thirst for ordinances is still felt 
among you. This condition is a pleasing, pre- 
cious pledge that Jehovah entertains designs of 


visiting you. These desires are created by 
himself, and they are created only to be gra- 
ciously answered. ' He will satiate the long- 
ing soul, and fill the hungry soul with good 
things.' Be not discouraged, dearly beloved, 
by any disappointments you have formerly ex- 
perienced, nor by present appearances, however 
gloomy, nor from future prospects, which may 
possibly be unpromising. In evening time light 
frequently arises upon Zion ; the darkest hour 
has often preceded immediately the brightest 
shining of the Sun of Righteousness, on individ- 
uals, on congregations, and on nations. Fre- 
quently has a Sovereign God rendered attempts 
apparently feeble, and at seasons the most un- 
favourable, effectual for producing astonishing 
effects. Thereby he disappoints the fears, and 
answers the prayers of his people. ' Be ye 
therefore steadfast, unmoveable, always abound- 
ing in the work of the Lord.' Are you desti- 
tute of the public ordinances which Jehovah 
has appointed for meeting and conversing with 
his people, be the more diligent in the private 
institutions of searching the Scriptures, of secret 
prayer, family prayer, of instructing, encoura- 
ging, exhorting your children in the great con- 
cerns of their souls. Althouo^h the fulness of 
the covenant be not brought nigh to you in the 
preaching of the gospel, it is presented in the 


precious promises, it is offered in the present 

" I now conclude, exhorting all those whom this 
letter may concern, by everything valuable in 
their souls, by all that is solemn in death, by all 
that is joyful in heaven, by all that is horrible in 
hell, immediately to accept Jesus Christ as the 
ordinance of God for their salvation. Children 
of wrath you and I are by nature, and such we 
must forever remain without a real, vital union 
to the Son of God. How shall we escape if we 
neglect this great salvation ? Put on the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh. 
His righteousness, his infinitely meritorious righ- 
teousness is absolutely, divinely free ; it is offered 
in the Gospel to the chiefest of sinners. That you 
may all be clothed with this immaculate robe, 
this ' linen clean and white,' and, through sanc- 
tifying influences of the Spirit, be presented at 
last without spot or wrinkle, is the prayer of 
your devoted servant in the Gospel of Christ. 

" A. Proudfit." 

Such were the instructive, encouraging, and 
truly apostolical communications which the sub- 
ject of this memoir was accustomed to send to 
those churches in the wilderness which were 
destitute of the stated ministration of word and 
ordinances. He thus aimed to supply the lack 


of a personal visit, and in some instances we 
have reason to believe that these epistolary la- 
bours were the means of producing blessed re- 
sults. Greatly changed as is the condition of 
the American Church in all her branches since 
the above letter was penned, there are still in all 
denominations numerous feeble congregations in 
just such circumstances as those of the congre- 
gation at L ; and there surely can be no 

doubt as to the happy influence that might be 
expected to be produced upon them by the oc- 
casional receipt of a letter expressive of the 
sympathy, and filled with the exhortations and 
encouragements by which the letter to the peo- 
ple of L is characterized. 

Of the private letters, the largest portion were 
addressed to persons removing from the bounds 
of his own or other congregations, and to those 
on whom God's afflicting hand had been laid. 
This method of counselling, exhorting, and com- 
forting those who were beyond the limits of his 
ordinary pastoral care he appears to have used 
with singular diligence from the very outset of 
his ministry. Many delightful and most edify- 
ing epistles might be given. We cannot forbear 
the insertion of two of these early letters. The 
first is addressed to the father of one of those 
solitary families which were so much in Mr. 
Proudfit's heart. It is dated in 1796. 

rev. dr. proudfit. 75 

" My dear Friend, 
" Since, in the providence of God, we had our 
last interview, I have felt no little anxiety about 
your spiritual condition. I scarcely reflect upon 
you and your family but that awful passage re- 
curs to my mind, ' where no vision is, the peo- 
ple perish.' ' How shall they believe in him of 
whom they have not heard, and how shall they 
hear without a preacher V These passages do 
not imply that there is no possibility of being 
saved where we do not enjoy the preaching of 
the Word, but they show that the Gospel preach- 
ed is a principal means of our conversion and 
salvation. The ministry was instituted for the 
perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the 
body of Christ. One circumstance you men- 
tioned tended greatly to increase my anxiety for 
you ; that is, your having a numerous family of 
children. Each of these I consider as a most 
weighty charge ; their souls are of more value 
than the whole world, because they must live 
forever, either in perfect blessedness or unutter- 
able torment. The wicked, the ungodly, Christ- 
less sinner shall go away into everlasting pun- 
ishment, but the righteous into life eternal. 
These solemn considerations induced me to en- 
close for your use a number of religious tracts, 
some for yourself, and others for your children. 
They are given from the purest regard for your 



immortal welfare, and my fervent prayer to God 
is, that the reading of them may redound to his 
glory and yo«r joy in time and through eterni- 
ty ; but always, in reading them, and in begin- 
ning to instruct your offspring, earnestly implore 
the presence and blessing of your Lord, the 
Spirit. Without his enlightening and quicken- 
ing influences to apply them, we never can read 
the Scriptures, or any other book, to our spirit- 
ual advantage. Where the Gospel comes, not 
in word only, but in power, and in the Holy 
Ghost, it will then be effectual to our conviction 
and eternal salvation. There are many precious 
promises encouraging us to ask the aid of the 
gracious Spirit, some of which I shall mention, 
that you may read and meditate upon at your 
leisure. Isaiah, Iv., 10, 11 ; lix., 20, 21. Jeremi- 
ah, xxxi., 33, 36. Ezekiel, xxxvi., 25-27. Deu- 
teronomy, XXX., 6. Luke, xi., 9-1 3. Acts, ii., 38, 
39. Some I have quoted from the Old Testa- 
ment, and others from the New ; they both are 
the truth of the living God, and are profitable for 
reproof, correction, and instruction in righteous- 
ness. Now, my dear friend, I recommend you 
and your family to God, and to the word of his 
grace, which is able to build you up, and give 
you an inheritance among them that are sancti- 
fied. Pray frequently with your children ; pray 
for them, and let the salvation of their precious 


souls be the object of your first concern. Now, 
that Israel's God may bless you abundantly, and 
your children ; that he may clothe you with the 
righteousness of his Son ; sanctify you with the 
grace of his Holy Spirit, and at last give you 
an abundant entrance into his kingdom of glory, 
is the prayer of your servant in the Gospel of 
Christ, A. P." 

The second letter is addressed to a female 
friend, who had been called to drink of the cup 
of affliction. It is dated 

" Salem, 6th of September, 1799. 
" Madam, 

" With this letter I send, for your perusal, 
some tracts of the*eminently pious Mr. Flavel. 
I have pointed out, as peculiarly adapted to your 
condition, the one entitled ' The Balm of the 
Covenant.' It is a most precious treasure, and 
unfolds with more than ordinary wisdom the ful- 
ness of the everlasting covenant. With great 
propriety is it called ' balm,' being fitted in eve- 
ry respect to heal the spiritually wounded, by 
exhibiting blood divine for the remission of guilt ; 
infinite righteousness, to cover spiritual naked- 
ness ; almighty strength, to support the feeble ; 
and everlasting consolation, to raise up the faint- 
ing spirit. There is one character in which it 
reveals Almighty God pre-eminently suited to 


your situation. We can hardly avoid supposing 
that the author, in mentioning it, was intended 
by the Spirit of grace to become the instrument 
of comfort to you. A husband to the widow is 
the character of Jehovah to which I allude, as 
very comforting to you in your present state. 
Is not your recent temporal loss amply compen- 
sated when thy Maker becomes thy husband, 
whose name is the Lord of Hosts, the God of 
all the earth ? Will you excuse me while I in- 
terrupt your enjoyment of the precious Flavel 
by making a few observations on this endearing 
title ? Surely a short reflection upon it cannot 
fail to cheer the gloom of solitude, to soothe the 
bosom of despondency, and dry up the tears of 
the weeping widow. Was she naturally led to 
look to her husband for protection in the hour 
of danger ? The Eternal God has promised to 
be her refuge, and to keep beneath her his ever- 
lasting arms. Was her husband the immediate 
resource for provision in the time of necessity ? 
Creation is the Lord's ; he is able and willing to 
supply the wants of all who apply to him. Did 
she make her husband the repository of her sor- 
rows ? Lo ! as a father pitieth his children, so 
the Lord pitieth them that fear him : his ears 
are ever open to their cries. Was the society 
of her husband her greatest earthly delight ? 
This want is a thousand fold more than made 


up by the fellowship of the Father and his Son 
Jesus Christ. Revolving in the mind those ten- 
der invitations, ' come unto me, all ye that labour 
and are heavy laden,' ' be careful for nothing, 
but in everything let your requests be made 
known unto God,' even the solitary widow may 
exult with the poet, 

" ' 'Tis naught to me ; 

Since God is ever present, ever felt, 
In the void waste, as in the city full, 
And where he vital breathes there must be joy ;' 

or, in the more elevated strains of the inspired 
bard, ' the Lord is my light and my salvation, 
whom shall I fear V ' When my father and 
mother, or husband, forsake me, then the Lord 
will take me up. 

*' Without intruding longer on your patience, 
suffice it to remark, that these excellences re- 
side in an earthly husband only in a finite de- 
gree, but in Jehovah they dwell in infinite per- 
fection. An earthly companion may contribute 
a temporary support, but the riches of Jesus are 
unsearchable ; the inheritance which he bestows 
is unfading. An earthly companion, by tender 
sympathy, may soothe for a moment, but the 
consolations which the Divine Redeemer gives 
are everlasting. The union which subsists be- 
tween Christ and believers shall never be dis- 
solved ; they are betrothed to him forever, and 


the communion they are privileged to enjoy with 
him aflbrds a happiness, noble as the nature of 
the immortal spirit, large as its desires, and last- 
ing as its duration. That these truths, which 
are founded upon the Word of God, and (glory 
to his name !) have been felt by his people, may 
be realized in your experience, and that the af- 
fliction you have been called to endure may 
work out for you an exceeding weight of glory, 
is the prayer of your affectionate 

" A. P." 

Mr. Proudfit was married on the 2d of Octo- 
ber, 1796, to Miss Susan Williams, daughter of 
General John Williams,* of Salem. It was the 

* General Williams was a large landholder in the county of 
Washington, and was among the earliest settlers of the town of 
Salem. His character well deserves an extended notice, and pre- 
sents a fine model for the imitation especially of persons holding 
a similar position in society. It is not too much to say that his in- 
fluence greatly helped to give that county the elevated rank m a 
moral point of view which it has so long held. How high he stood 
in the esteem of the people of that district, may be judged from 
the fact that he was their representative in Congress during the 
long period of twenty-four years. The journals of that day often 
notice him as an effective speaker on the floor of Congress ; while 
those who personally knew him have always delighted to speak of 
his ample hospitality, his affable manners, and his remarkable pow- 
ers of conversation ; but his history, in connexion with his own 
county, is the most interesting, as it shows what may be done by 
a man of wealth, of enlarged views and liberal spirit, for the ad- 
vancement of the cause of education and religion. The first acad- 
emy of Salem was erected entirely at his expense, and he assisted 
liberally in the erection of the Presbyterian Churches at White- 


privilege of Mrs. Proudfit to have enjoyed the in- 
structions of that eminently godly vv^oman, Mrs. 
Isabella Graham, of Nevv^-York, in whose school 
she partly received her education. In all the 
various labours of her husband she took a live- 
ly interest, and rendered him most efficient help. 
Delicacy, hov^^ever, forbids our entering into de- 
tails. Yet we may say that it would be diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, to find a more beautiful 
illustration of all that a minister's household 
should be, than that which was afforded in the 
former parsonage of Salem. 

hall and Hebron. His character is thus finely drawn by his son- 
in-law, in the epitaph inscribed upon his monument : " In him 
were united the tender husband, the affectionate parent, the agree- 
able companion, the useful citizen, the enlightened and true Chris- 
tian. Endeared to his relatives by the qualities of his heart and 
the tenderness of his deportment, in life he enjoyed their respect, 
and his memory is cherished with affection." 




The year 1800 is marked by the adoption of 
a series of resolutions by Mr. Proudfit for the 
regulation of his conduct as a Christian and as 
a minister of the gospel. These resolutions are 
worthy of notice, both for their own intrinsic 
excellence, and for the light they throw upon 
his subsequent life ; the whole paper, as drawn 
up by himself, is as follows : 


This 7th day of March, in the year of our 
Lord 1800, 1, Alexander Proudfit, adopt the fol- 
lowing resolutions for regulating my conduct, 
which I w^ould humbly attempt to perform, 
through the Lord Jesus Christ strengthening me : 

1. To live more entirely for God and to him, 
under an impression that I am not my own ; to 
make his glory in the salvation of men the great 
and reigning object of my life, to which I am 
bound by creation, by preservation, by redemp- 
tion, and, more especially, by voluntarily assu- 
ming the ministerial office. 

2. That I will begin each day with prayer to 
God for his blessing during that day, that he 


would direct in every step which I am called to 
take, that he would prosper me in my studies, 
and enable me to spend my time, my talents, my 
worldly property in the manner most adapted to 
promote the foregoing resolution. 

3. That I will aim particularly at crucifying 
my spiritual pride, as that accursed lust which im- 
mediately arrogates to myself that glory which 
is due to the living God, and as the sin which 
more easily besets me. For this end, O my soul ! 
consider that whatever thou hast, and of which 
thou art tempted to boast, whether of body or 
mind, or outward circumstances, or favour in 
the opinion of men, are freely given thee of God, 
and are talents for which thou must render an 
account when he comes to be glorified in his 
saints. Reflect frequently on the following pas- 
sages of Scripture : 1 Cor., iv., 7 ; Matt., xxv., 

4. That I will endeavour each day to read 
some portions of the Word of God, not merely 
as a critic, that I may be capable of defending 
them, nor merely as a minister, that I may be 
better qualified for instructing others, but as a 
sinner, who am myself infinitely interested in 
these doctrines, and that, as a new-born babe, I 
may thereby be growing up to the stature of a 
perfect man in Christ Jesus. 

5. That each evening, not knowing but my 


soul may be required before morning, I will call 
myself to an impartial account for my conduct 
during the day, inquiring what duties have been 
omitted which might and ought to have been 
discharged, and what levities have been indulged 
which might and ought to have been avoided. 

6. That, as this life is the only period of my 
existence in which I can be instrumental in the 
salvation of others, I will aim, not only from a 
principle of fidelity to my Master, but of com- 
passion to perishing sinners, to do all in my pow- 
er for bringing them to Christ. 

7. That I will endeavour to forgive all men, 
even those who are most malignantly opposed 
to me, and not render railing for railing, thus 
imitating the example and following the injunc- 
tion of my Lord, Matt., v., 40-48. 

8. That I will avoid as much as possible en- 
tertaining unkind and ungenerous thoughts of 
others, lest thereby their real intentions be mis- 

9. That I will pursue the utmost economy in 
my dress, my diet, my family and travelling ex- 
penses, that I may be enabled to spare the more 
for promoting the temporal, and especially the 
spiritual interests of others. 

10. That I will aim at recovering and main- 
taining that spirituality of frame, that fervour of 
devotion, that ardour of love to the Lord Jesus, 


that concern for his glory and for the souls of 
men, which I have often felt in a powerful de- 
gree, and by which I was first constrained to 
enter the sacred ministry. 

1 1 . That I will endeavour to remember, in my 
spiritual exercises of meditation and prayer, 
ministers of the gospel, whatever may be their 
communion, or wherever their residence may 
be, because I know by experience that their 
work is an arduous one, their discouragements 
many, and in their fidelity, the honour of Jesus, 
the success of the gospel, and the eternal wel- 
fare of souls are deeply involved. 

12. That hereafter I will aim at viewing re- 
ligion as properly the business of my life ; that 
in the morning I will resign myself wholly to 
the Lord's disposal through the day, and depend 
on him for direction how to spend it most an- 
^werably to the end of my creation, redemp- 
tion, and ministerial calling. 

13. That, under a conviction of my infinite 
insufficiency for the least service, under the bit- 
ter experience that my heart is deceitful above 
all things, I will surrender it entirely to the 
Lord's keeping — Ps. xvi., 1 ; cxxi., 1-6 — and 
esteem as more precious than a thousand worlds 
the following promises which secure my perse- 
verance : Rom., v., 9, 10 ; viii., 29, 30. Phil., 
i., 6. Jude 24, 25. 



14. That, after my return from preaching, es- 
pecially if some ease or enlargement has been 
experienced, I will watch against pride and self- 
sufficiency. 2 Cor., iii., 5. 

15. That I will endeavour to avoid being 
much elated by prosperity or depressed by ad- J 
versity, reflecting that I am a stranger and a 
sojourner upon earth, that this world is not my 
home, and be looking out for that house which 

is eternal in the heavens. 

16. That, as my natural constitution is feeble, 
I will endeavour to be frugal of my strength, 
and spend it to the best advantage. 

17. That I will always aim at devising new 
plans for promoting the kingdom of my Lord 
and Saviour, which is the great work to which 
I was set apart upon entering the ministry. 

18. That I will avoid unnecessarily postpo- 
ning the discharge of any duty, remembering, 
that life is uncertain, and that sufficient for each 
day, and week, and month will be the work 
thereof. 2 Cor., vi., 2. 

19. That I will endeavour to wait patiently 
upon an absent God ; that, though he may seem- 
ingly shut out my prayer by not giving an im- 
mediate answer, I will aim at exercising resig- 
nation to his will, and trust that the best bless- 
ings will be communicated in the best time. 
Hab., iii., 17. Luke, xviii., 17. 


20. Resolved not to rejoice or glory in any 
external advantages, as I must thereby have 
them removed or imbittered in their enjoyment ; 
neither to set my affections greatly on anything 
temporal, as all beneath God himself is both un- 
certain and unsatisfying, but to aim at v^^alking 
by faith on things unseen. 1 Kings, viii., 19. 
Matt., vi., 24. 2 Cor., iv., 10. 

21. Resolved to depend less on books of hu- 
man composition, and to become more diligent 
in searching the Holy Scriptures, with a reli- 
ance on the Spirit of Wisdom for teaching me 
their real import. Ps. xxv., 14. Isa., xlviii., 17. 
James, i., 5. 

22. Resolved that, as I knov^r from the Word 
of God and from observation that all instruction, 
private or public, must be unavailing w^ithout 
Almighty power accompanying, I will ask di- 
rection of the Lord in the choice of my subjects, 
in the manner of discussing them, and for his 
blessing to render them effectual. John, xxi., 6. 
Mark, i., 17. John, vi., 45. 

23. Resolved that, as my mind is disposed to 
wander in the night no less than by day, and 
dreams, vain and unprofitable, do often disturb, 
I will commit the keeping of my soul to Israel's 
Shepherd, whether asleep or awake. Ps. cxxi., 
3-8. Phil.,iv., 6-7. 

24. Resolved that, as I am informed by Scrip- 


ture, and have often experienced to my sorrow 
and self-loathing, that the heart is deceitful above 
all things, and as it has betrayed me to the loss 
of my spiritual comfort and confidence with God, 
I will aim at keeping it with all diligence in ev- 
ery circumstance, whether of health or affliction, 
and upon all occasions, whether alone or in com- 

25. Resolved to avoid speaking evil of oth- 
ers, or making remarks upon their character or 
conduct, unless I thereby design, as in the pres- 
ence of God, to warn my own soul, or those 
with whom I converse. 

26. Resolved frequently to read the Four Gos- 
pels, that I may thereby bear in mind the great 
God, my Saviour, and learn to imitate his ex- 
ample in submission to the will of his Father, and 
diligence in fulfilling the work for which he was 
set apart, considering it his meat and drink to do 
the will of Him that sent him ; also to imitate his 
charity towards others in distress, and his meek- 
ness and forbearance towards his opposers. 

27. January 1st, 1801. Resolved that, as an- 
other period of my life is gone, and I am advan- 
ced another pace nearer the end of my course, 
I will endeavour to live nearer to God, and more 
entirely for him. 

28. Resolved to become more crucified to this 
present evil world, to its profits, and honours, 


and delights. For this end, contemplate, O ! my 
soul, the example of thy Saviom' — his outward 
appearance upon earth. Behold him in his birth, 
Luke, ii., 7. Phil., ii., 7. As another means of 
crucifying me to the world, read the following 
passages : Matt., xvi., 26. Luke, xii.,31. Col., 
iii., 1-3. 

29. Resolved to improve every opportunity 
of doing good to the souls of men, whether at 
home or on the road, when I occasionally meet 
with them, or on a journey when I call at public 

30. Resolved that, as I need line upon hne, 
and require so many remembrancers of my duty 
to God, to his Church, and to myself, that I will 
frequently read over my first and eleventh res- 

These resolutions will be read with more than 
ordinary interest by those who were intimately 
acquainted with their author during the greater 
part of his ministry. They show that, from its 
earliest years, those excellences for which he 
was distinguished were distinctly proposed by 
him as objects of attainment ; and it is not too 
much to say that it would be impossible to find a 
case in which the early resolutions of a minister 
w^ere more faithfully observed than in that of Dr. 
Proudfit. It is a serious thing to enter into a 


covenant with God (as this transaction may fitly 
be called), and there can be no doubt that the sol- 
emn adoption of these rules exerted a powerful 
influence on Mr. Proudfit through his whole sub- 
sequent career, and was, under God, an impor- 
tant means of making him, what he became, " a 
burning and shining light." He often perused 
them, as we shall afterward see, in the seasons 
of meditation and prayer. - • 

These resolutions show that he was distin- 
guished by, substantially, the same traits of 
character in the first as in the latter years of 
his ministry ; and among those which deserve 
special notice were the spirit of devotion ; this 
he resolved to cultivate ; and it might eminently 
be said of him, that " he gave himself to pray- 
er." It was the same with him, whether at home 
or abroad, in private or in company. Besides 
his stated seasons of personal and family devo- 
tion, he was accustomed, as his diary attests, to 
set apart frequently the whole, or a part of a 
day, to the exercises of prayer and fasting, fix- 
ing, at the same time, upon some specific topics 
of meditation and supplication. That precious 
promise of our Redeemer — " if any two of you 
shall agree on earth, as touching anything that 
they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my 
Father w^ho is in heaven" (Matt., xviii., 19) — 
was one whose value and importance he seem- 


ed deeply to feel ; thus, when in conversation 
with a friend or in the family circle, in his own 
house or elsewhere, he would seize the first op- 
portunity that occurred to propose spending a 
few moments in prayer, repeating, at the same 
time, the words before quoted, and suggesting 
some particular subjects of supplication relating 
either to individuals present, to some one of the 
great objects of Christian benevolence, or to the 
general welfare of the Church of God. This he 
would do in a way the most dehcate and hap- 
py ; there was nothing approaching to con- 
straint or affectation ; nothing to offend the most 
fastidious taste. When about commencing any 
work — for instance, before making an appeal to 
any person on behalf of some benevolent object 
— he would invariably make it the subject of 
prayer, and, if possible, get some Christian friend 
to unite with him. His correspondence with Dr. 
Mason, with the late Mr. Bethune, and many 
others, contains frequent references to concerts 
of prayer, the proposal of which originated with 

Activity in doing good is another trait for 
which Mr. Proudfit was distinguished. Evi- 
dence has been already given of the earnestness 
of his desire for the advancement of the spiritu- 
al interests of men ; other proofs will follow of 
the readiness with which he engaged in any 


work which promised to do good. The leading 
benevolent societies of our country found in him, 
from the outset of their existence, a steady and 
cordial supporter. His deep sympathy with 
those on the frontier settlements, who were des- 
titute of the stated ordinances of the gospel, in- 
duced him to make repeated and long journeys 
to preach to them the unsearchable riches of 
Christ, and also led him to publish no less than 
five considerable volumes, chiefly for circulation 
among them. During his journeys, he sought 
to improve the casual acquaintances thus form- 
ed to the spiritual good of the persons whom he 
met, and so when spending a few days or a few 
hours at the house of a friend. In a word, the 
resolution — " to aim at devising new methods of 
doing good" — was carried out by him with sin- 
gular faithfulness. 

A truly Catholic spirit was another, and very 
marked trait. To the Church of his fathers he 
was strongly attached ; and, until the whole of 
his time required to be devoted to the Coloni- 
zation cause, he was ever ready to engage in 
any service for the advancement of the inter- 
ests of the denomination to which he belonged ; 
but, at the same time, he loved to commune 
with all of every name who loved our Lord Je- 
sus Christ. In the first years of his ministry, the 
lines of all denominations were, in some respects. 


more rigidly drawn than they are at present. 
Such was the case when he penned the resolu- 
tion to say, " grace be with all them who love 
our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." During the 
last thirty years of his life, perhaps no one en- 
joyed more extensively, as no one could feel a 
sweeter relish for, the communion of saints.* It 
was a subject on which he loved to speak, es- 
pecially the evidences with which his own ex- 
tensive contact with Christians of various de- 
nominations had furnished him, that, amid the 
great variety of names, and of external forms 
and constitutions, there was still substantial uni- 
ty, one Lord, and one Faith. 

Tenderness of the reputation of others is an- 
other of the subjects of these resolutions, and 
was a trait of character for which the subject 
of this memoir was remarkable. He spake not 
ill of his neighbour. If he could not speak well 
of a person, he would at least be silent ; but the 
case was rare indeed in which he could not find 
some ground of commendation. 

* Towards the close of his life, it was a frequent and favourite 
saying, that, so far as his observation extended, the liberal Chris- 
tian (in the scriptural meaning of the phrase) is the spiritual 




In the latter part of the year 1800, Mr. Proud- 
fit began a diary, which, with occasional inter- 
ruptions, was continued until within a few weeks 
of his decease. This record, in some respects, 
is not so full as could be wished ; it gives no in- 
formation respecting his studies, and rarely re- 
fers to passing events, whether of the political or 
the ecclesiastical world ; it is rather a record of 
the writer's own spiritual life ; and though it may 
not, on this account, be so well fitted to engage 
the attention of the general reader, it cannot fail 
to be perused with interest and profit by the pri- 
vate Christian and the spiritually-minded minis- 

The great end of Christian biography is to 
show forth the glory of Christ ; to display the 
exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to- 
wards us ; and subordinate to this and connect- 
ed with it, the instruction, the comfort, and the 
edification of his people. This is especially true 
of those biographies which contain the diaries or 
the recorded experiences of eminent Christians. 
When such records are faithful, they exhibit the 
dealings of God with the soul, and the exercises 


of the renewed soul " God-ward ;" and ho^v 
greatly they are prized by serious Christians, is 
manifest from the high place which has been 
assigned to those volumes of biography which 
contain them. 

But while the perusal of these annals of Chris- 
tian experience is alike pleasant and profitable, 
we must, at the same time, read them with cau- 
tion, if we would derive from them the full meas- 
ure of instruction which they are well fitted to 
impart. We should remember that, while the 
great process by which the people of God attain 
a meetness for heaven is in all cases substantial- 
ly the same, there is a great diversity in the cir- 
cumstances which mark its commencement, its 
progress, and its consummation. Every observ- 
ing parent will note diversities of temper and 
propensity in his children ; rarely are any two 
perfectly alike ; their treatment and education 
must hence be, in some respects, different. Thus 
is it in the family of God : while each one of its 
innumerable members is a monument of grace, 
there is not exactly the same development of 
grace in all. The story of each individual in 
the glorious company of the redeemed is a dis- 
tinct and peculiar history. We should not, there- 
fore, be surprised if, in reading the recorded ex- 
perience of others, we find some features of their 
spiritual history unlike our own. 


The diary of Mr. Proudfit was begun some 
six years after his entrance into the ministry. 
By this time he had reached a point in the Chris- 
tian hfc when we might say of him that his 
" heart was estabHshed in grace." From one 
of his resolutions, it appears that, in the first 
years of his ministry, and probably during the 
season of his preparation for it, his mind had 
been in a peculiarly spiritual frame, and that he 
had been favoured with seasons of intimate com- 
munion with God. The diary of his later years, 
while displaying a mind profoundly sensible of 
the power of indwelling sin, and ardently long- 
ing after more perfect conformity to the image 
of the Saviour, at the same time indicates a set- 
tled conviction that he had been made a parta- 
ker of the blessed freedom wherewith Christ 
makes his people free. But it is needless to an- 
ticipate. We shall here introduce some passa- 
ges from the diary itself, viz. : 

" October SOth, 1800. This day I set apart for 
the solemn exercises of fasting, humiliation, and 
prayer. I appropriate that command of Jeho- 
vah, my own God in covenant through Jesus 
Christ, as directed to me in particular, ' turn, O 
backsliding children, saith the Lord ; for I am 
married unto you.' — Jer., iii., 14. ' Therefore 
also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even unto me 
with all your heart, and with fasting, and with 


weeping, and with mourning.' — Joel, ii., 12. I 
desire to turn with all my heart ! The Lord 
God is my witness that I wish to reserve no- 
thing ; I desire to be henceforth for him, and not 
for another : I come with all my heart, with all 
my soul, with all my strength, with all my mind ; 
I come with all my understanding, to be employ- 
ed in looking into and adoring the mysteries of 
redeeming mercy : with my memory, to re- 
tain his heavenly truth ; with my will, to be 
moie and more moulded into his most ris^hteous 
will ; with my affections, to centime upon him as 
my only portion in life, in death, and through 
eternity. O Lord, accept, through the sacrifice 
and intercession of thy dear Son, my Saviour, 
this sincere though unworthy offering. 

" I desire to deplore that body of sin and death 
which so encumbers me ; I would particularly 
mourn over my unbelief, notwithstanding the 
ample assurances which God has given of his 
good-will towards me ; my enmity, notwith- 
standing the immensity of his love to me ; my 
pride, notwithstanding my infinite poverty, mis- 
ery, and blindness ; my hypocrisy, my want of 
sincerity in the service of God, and disinterest- 
edness for his glory. These, and each of them, 
I now most cordially lament as dishonouring to 
my Lord, as grieving to that Spirit by whom I 
have been sensibly sealed to the day of redemp- 
7 I 


tion, and unfriendly to my own comfort and use- 

" With fasting and mourning I desire to unite 
fervent prayer, 

" 1st. For direction as to the improvement of 
my time ; although it is short and uncertain, yet 
with a proper use of it my joy and crown 
through eternity are intimately connected. 

" 2d. For the Lord's blessing on my labours in 
the congregation, especially in the exercises of 
family visitation and public catechising, in which 
lam now engaged. Luke, v., 10. Ezek., xxxvii., 

" 3d. For his blessing on the two sermons 
lately published, and on the tracts now in the 
press, which are designed for circulation among 
the frontier settlements. 1 Cor., i., 27, 25. 

" 4th. For success to the efforts of the mis- 
sionary society, and for the Divine presence at 
our meeting on Thursday next. Ps. ii., 8 ; Ixxii., 
5, 6, 8, 9. 

" These petitions I present in the name of 
Jesus, my ever-living advocate ; and in the con- 
fidence of being heard, I will endeavour daily 
to expect an answer. John, xiv., 13, 14. 

''Friday, October 31 5^, 1800. Having now 
finished my annual course of catechising through 
the congregation, I bless the Lord, who has 
hitherto helped me, and resign the seed which 


has been sown to the gracious Spirit, fully im- 
pressed that all means are effectual only as ac- 
companied with his almighty power. May he 
stoop in his infinite condescension to water this 
seed with his influences ; then it will take root, 
and spring up to the glory of his own grace, and 
the salvation of that people whom I love in the 
bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

''November lltfi, 1800. This day being set 
apart by the Presbytery for the exercises of 
fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to be observed 
by them in a constituted capacity, I desire to 
spend some time alone at the throne of grace, 

" 1st. For my brethren in the ministry belong- 
ing to the Presbytery ; that the Lord would 
abundantly qualify each of us for our important 
trust ; that he would render us faithful in the 
discharge of every duty, whether private or pub- 
lic, enabling us to warn every man, and teach 
every man in all wisdom ; that he would con- 
tinue among us that harmony we have long en- 
joyed, and cause his pleasure to prosper in our 

" 2d. For myself ; that he would endow me 
with much spiritual wisdom for dealing with the 
consciences of men. He that winneth souls is 
wise ; much divine skill is requisite for exploring 
the hidden mystery of iniquity in the human 
heart ; but I am more brutish than any man, 


and have not the knowledge of a man. I de- 
sire, therefore, to look up to my Master, both for 
wisdom and utterance, that he would teach me 
not only what to say, but how to say it in the 
most suitable and successful manner. Luke, 
xxi., 15. 1 Cor., i., 17. Exod., iv., 10-12. 
Jcr., i., 6, 9. 

" 3d. For the Lord's blessing on that part of 
the Church with which we are immediately con- 
nected ; that, while our vacancies are increas- 
ing, he would raise up youth full of faith and 
of the Holy Ghost to supply them. Jer., iii., 15. 
Luke, X., 2. Eph., iv., 7-9. 

" 4th. That Israel's God would crown with 
success measures which are adopted in this and 
other countries for the spread of the gospel 
among the heathen, and that those who are al- 
ready sent forth may be gratefully received." 

In these extracts we have the devout utter- 
ance of a soul longing for closer communion with 
its God, and deeply penetrated with a sense of 
its own unworthiness. 

The setting apart a specific time for the exer- 
cises of private prayer and fasting, and suppli- 
cating the Divine blessing on particular objects, 
was an exercise which Mr. Proudfit maintained 
during his whole subsequent life. . He was, in 
an eminent degree, a man of prayer — given " to 
prayer and th^ ministry of the word ;" this was 


his character, not only in the later, but, as this 
passage of his diary proves, in the earlier years 
of his ministry. 

His profound sense of the inefficacy of means 
(in themselves) to produce permanent spiritual 
good is proved by the extracts just given. He 
was, consequently, by no means satisfied with 
the perfunctory performance of his ministerial 
duties ; hence his earnestness in pleading for that 
Divine influence which alone could render the 
Word and ordinances effectual to the salvation 
of sinners, and the edification of the Church, 
and which did descend upon the scene of his 
pastoral labours in more than ordinary measure. 

One of the special topics of supplication here 
mentioned is, that the pastoral visitation, which 
had just been completed, might be attended with 
the Divine blessing. This was a work in which 
Mr. Proudfit greatly delighted, and for which 
he was admirably fitted. His method of con- 
ducting this important part of the pastor's work 
was such as completely to relieve it of that stiff"- 
ness which so often attaches to a formal pastor- 
al visit ; he entered upon the work with unaffect- 
ed ease: the younger members of the family en- 
gaged the largest share of his attention, but 
while seemingly occupied with the children, he 
was, in fact, speaking in a very impressive man- 
ner to the hearts and consciences of the old as 


well as the young. In the outset of his minis- 
try, he probably adopted the methods of family 
examination and catechising which obtained in 
the Scottish churches of that period ; but it was 
not long before he dropped much of the old for- 
mality. The writer can never forget the im- 
pression made upon his own mind (when a the- 
ological student) during a pastoral visitation of 
one district of the congregation of Salem, in 
which he was permitted to accompany his ven- 
erable friend. It was the best lecture in pastor- 
al theology on which it was ever his privilege to 
attend. It is hardly necessary to observe that 
this was a work in which Mr. Proudfit took great 
delight ; whether at home among his own peo- 
ple, or abroad, he was ever ready to engage in 
it. Although the congregation of Salem was a 
large one, he was so much among his people 
that he knew by name all the children of his 
charge, and was able to recognise them, which 
he invariably did whenever he met them. The 
happy result of this course of ministerial faith- 
fulness was seen in the ardent attachment of his 
people, old and young, down to the day of his 
death ; in the large number of the youth of his 
charge who consecrated themselves to the gos- 
pel ministry : and in the affectionate veneration 
in which his memory is now, and will long con- 
tinue to be held in the town of Salem. 


" Wednesday, November I9tk. I applied to 
the Lord by prayer, that he would communicate 
the gifts and graces which he saw most suitable 
for that period of the world in which my lot is 
cast, and for that section of his vineyard which 
he has appointed me to cultivate. Was much en- 
couraged by reading Psalm viii., 2, and from the 
consideration that the apostles — those eminent 
instruments of turning sinners to righteousness 
— were ignorant and illiterate fishermen : was 
led to conclude that the contractedness of my 
natural talents, or the obscurity of my situation, 
was no obstacle with a sovereign God to my use- 
fulness in his Church. He makes foolish things 
of the world to confound the wise, and weak 
things of the world to confound the mighty, that 
no flesh should glory in his presence." 

This extract deserves notice, from the pecu- 
liar nature of the subject of prayer. It bespeaks a 
mind whose predominant desire was usefulness ; 
and anxious, therefore, to possess those accom- 
plishments which were best adapted to the cir- 
cumstances in which it had been placed, in the 
providence of God. 

The period at which Mr. Proudfit penned this 
resolution was, on many accounts, remarkable ; 
not only was it at the beginning of a new cen- 
tury, but it then seemed as if a new order of 
things were opening, both in the Church and in 


the political world. In the Church, the spirit of 
missions, which since that day has accompUshed 
such splendid triumphs, had just begun to dis- 
play itself with a life and, power unknown for 
many centuries ; while, in the political world, 
everything appeared to indicate the speedy dis- 
solution of the ancient systems of European des- 
potism. There was much in all the movements 
of that day to arrest the attention of the serious 
mind. It was a truly wonderful era. Still, ev- 
ery age has its own peculiar features ; and he 
who would be eminently useful in his day and 
generation must " have knowledge of the times, 
to know what Israel ought to do." We cannot 
forbear asking whether this subject be sufficient- 
ly considered by ministers in the present day. 
Might we not reasonably expect to see more 
eminent examples of wide-extended usefulness 
among them if they more generally and earnest- 
ly prayed for the special qualifications which this 
age demands ? 

Had Mr. Proudfit at this time occupied one 
of the high places of the Church, or had he been 
called to labour in one of the great cities of our 
country, there would not, perhaps, have been so 
much in this extract to excite surprise ; but we 
must remember that he was the pastor of what 
was then a secluded country congregation. Yet^ 


in the comparative solitude of Salem, he seems 
to have been av^^ake to the calls of the stirring 
age in the midst of which we now are, though 
it was then just opening ; he appears to have 
been deeply sensible of the responsibilities grow- 
ing out of the character of the times in which 
he lived. That for which his heart longed, and 
for which his prayer was thus early directed unto 
God, was not mere distinction as a scholar, or 
even as a theologian, but a fitness to be greatly 
and widely useful ; and all who are intimately 
acquainted with Mr. Proudfit's history, with his 
numerous, varied, and constant essays to do good, 
will readily agree that this request was not un- 

" Tuesday, December 2d. Set apart some 
time this morning for the following solemn exer- 
cises : 

" 1st. Ascribing praise to that God who has 
brought me in safety to this place amid many 
dangers, and has afforded me a reception so cor- 
dial on the part of the people. Psalm cxvi., 6, 
7, 12. 

" 2d. Prayer for his return to my soul, revi- 
ving in me a spiritual frame, and preserving me 
from a cold formality in his service. Jer., xxxii., 
40. Isai., xliv., 3. 

" 3d. That he would direct to suitable tracts 
for circulation for the frontier settlements, and 


render me more wise and successful in winning 
souls to himself. 

" Friday, December I2th. This morning am 
greatly borne down by a body of sin. Prayer, 
meditation, reading the Scriptures, and all the 
Other duties of religion, drag heavily along. 
Alas ! how cold and stupid is my heart : I am 
more brutish than any man, and have not the 
knowledge of a man. Thou alone, O Lord, 
knowest the vanity and deceitfulness of my 
heart, and to thy free, sovereign, omnipotent 
grace 1 look for reviving it. Come from the 
four winds, O breath ! and breathe on these lan- 
guid, lifeless affections, that they may live and 
centre upon thyself. Surely, where sin abounds 
in me, although far beyond what man or angel 
can describe, grace does much more abound 
through the offices and relations of my ever- 
blessed substitute. 

'' Saturday y December ISth, I was greatly 
dejected through the prevalence of an evil heart. 
Such an unusual stupor hath seized both body 
and mind, that I feel utterly indisposed for any 
spiritual exercises. Surely, if I reach heaven, I 
must appear the greatest wonder in all its man- 
sions ; the most signal monument of self-moved 
abounding mercy. O Lord, I am oppressed ; 
undertake for me. Thou, heart-searching Je- 
hovah, art witness that free grace is my only 


plea, that I desire to be pardoned of grace, to be 
sanctified by grace, to be quickened, and com- 
forted, and, finally, saved by grace. 

" December Mth, Sabbath evening. This day 
I was much embarrassed in the public exercises. 
My understanding seemed uncommonly cloud- 
ed, and my affections frozen ; I am ashamed even 
to think of the imperfect manner in which the 
service was performed. Truly I may pronounce 
myself less than the least of all saints, lower than 
the lowest of the Redeemer's servants. Lord, 
what am I, or what is my father's house, that I 
should be called to a ministry thus honourable 
and important ? I desire, 

" 1st. To acknowledge that the Lord is just 
in this dispensation, and has chastised me less 
than my iniquities deserve. He might, for my 
pride and presumption, have rendered me a ter- 
ror to myself, and to all around. 

" 2d. I am taught not to rejoice in anything 
external ; in gifts or attainments of any kind, 
which are so precarious in their exercise, un- 
certain as the morning cloud, and the early dew 
which passeth away, but to confide in that God 
who changeth not ; whose love, and covenant, 
and promises are unalterably the same. Return 
unto him as thy rest, O my soul ; trust in the 
Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is ever- 
lasting strength, and place no confidence in the 


" 3d. I am taught the necessity of walking 
more uniformly by faith. We cannot command 
the natural sun to emit a single ray of light, nei- 
ther can we cause the shining of the Sun of 
Righteousness : we cannot revive nature when 
she languishes, by commanding the leaf to ex- 
pand in the forest, or the blossom to give its fra- 
grance in the orchard ; equally unable are we 
to give a resurrection to decaying grace in the 
soul. O Lord, work all my works in me, and 
for me. 

" 4th. To set my affections on things above, 
rejoicing in the prospect of that hour when, re- 
lieved from all imperfection, I shall see my God 
face to face, and know even as I am known. 
Let the anticipation of this hour, O my soul, be 
thy consolation while passing through this dreary 
vale. Thy warfare will soon be accomplished, 
and the last cloud that intervenes between thee 
and the Sun of Righteousness shall vanish for- 

In these extracts we have a record of exer- 
cises with which every renewed heart is, in a 
greater or less degree, acquainted. One most 
valuable lesson to be learned from such a rec- 
ord is the folly of building our hopes upon our 
inward frames. How changeable are these ! 
one day we feel a love so ardent that we ima- 
gine " no waters can ever quench it ;" perhaps 


the very next our affections seem icebound. 
Christ is the alone basis of our hope ; all our 
sufficiency is from him ; our present life must be 
one of simple faith in him — a constant " looking 
unto Jesus." The frequent variation in the feel- 
ings of the heart in which grace dvi^ells — the 
coldness which so often succeeds the warmth of 
love — what is this but a proof of our emptiness 
— that we are nothing, that Christ is all in all 1 

" Monday morning, December 22d. This 
morning was much perplexed with a variety of 
cares, and desire to roll them all on my covenant 
God, believing that he careth for me. Set apart 
some time for prayer, 

" 1st. That the Lord would maintain that life 
and power in spiritual duties which I have in 
some measure recovered, and preserve me from 
indifference in his cause. Rev., ii., 5. 

" 2d. That he would graciously direct me to 
a suitable subject for the approaching day of 
humiliation, and give an outpouring of his Spir- 
it to the congregation on that day. 

" 3d. That he would undertake for me in all 
my interests, and direct me as a man, as a min- 
ister, as the head of a family, and as the pastor 
of his Church in Salem. 

" This morning I have experienced some 
measure of the Spirit of grace and supplication, 
and felt much freedom in committing all that 


concerns me to the Divine management ; found 
ardent breathings after progressive sanctifica- 
tion ; felt willing to part with every earthly en- 
joyment, could I only attain to perfection in ho- 
liness ; read over my resolutions, and renewed 
my covenant with God, accepting him in all his 
persons, perfections, and relations, as my guide, 
portion, and strength ; yielded up my all to be 
utterly at his disposal, and rendered more sub- 
servient to the interest of his Church." 

With this revived spirit, and with these ear- 
nest prayers that the people of his charge might 
experience " the blessing which God commands 
in Zion," did Mr. Proudfit close the year 1800. 
He thus begins the new year : 

^^ January 1st, 1801. Another year of my 
life is now gone. Ah ! how many hours, and 
days, and weeks of precious time have been mis- 
improved ; time spent either in doing nothing, 
or nothing to any valuable purpose. Enter not 
into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight 
can no man living be justified. I bless the Lord 
this morning, that, notwithstanding innumerable 
provocations, he has kept me another year from 
open reproach, and afforded many opportunities 
for promoting the interests of his Church. Not 
to me, O Lord, not to me, but to thy name be 
the glory. 

" As I am now entering another period of my 


life, I desire to renew the dedication of my all 
to God and his service in the gospel of his Son. 
And nov^, O Lord, v^hat wait I for ? my hope is 
in thee ; make me to know mine end, and the 
measure of my days — what it is, that I may 
know how frail I am. 

" March 6th, 1801. This day undertake my 

journey for the B , where I expect to spend 

some time preaching to that vacancy. I desire 
to aim at usefulness, promoting the good of souls, 
whether I call at private houses or occasionally 
meet with a traveller on the road. I would thus 
endeavour to be instant in season and out of 
season, redeeming my time, and fulfilling the 
ministry which is committed to me by testifying 
upon every opportunity the gospel of the grace 
of God. 

" Sabbath evening, March 29th. This morn- 
ing was much depressed by a sense of my car- 
nality and deadness ; could find no light or com- 
fort in any spiritual exercise. The moment I 
selected any suitable promise as the subject of 
meditation, my heart started aside like a deceit- 
ful bow ; but afterward found some reviving 
from that declaration of a covenant God, I will 
heal their backslidings : I have seen his ways, 
and will heal him. During the exercises of the 
sanctuary, found some enlargement, particularly 
in explaining Psalm ciii., 8, 9. " The Lord is 


merciful and gracious ; slow to anger, and plen- 
teous in mercy." How often and sensibly have 
I experienced the truth of that declaration, "the 
wind bloweth where it listeth ; we hear the 
sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, 
and whither it goeth ;" so is every one that is 
born of the Spirit ; so is the Christian in all 
those revivals which he occasionally enjoys in 
this state of imperfection. 

''March ^\st, 1801. Set apart this day for 
the purpose of humbling my soul before the 

" 1st. Because of my secret sins ; my breach 
of former resolutions, that I have not walked so 
intimately with God, nor lived for him so en- 
tirely as I had solemnly engaged. 

" 2d. In devout prayer to God, that he would 
strengthen me with all might in the inner man, 
and thus render me an able minister of the New 
Testament ; especially that he would direct me, 
at the present moment, so critical to the Church 
and our country. Read over my resolutions, 
and renewed them before the Lord. Sung Ps. 
cxix., 5-8." 

The critical period here referred to probably 
was that which immediately succeeded the elec- 
tion of Mr. Jefferson as President of the Uni- 
ted States. The decided enmity of that emi- 
nent person to the Christian faith, though not so 


well known at that time as it now is, was more 
than suspected ; and very many, consequently, 
looked upon his elevation to the presidential 
chair with the greatest alarm. They deemed it 
equivalent almost to a national renunciation of 
the Christian name. 

''September 2lst, 1802. This morning I set 
apart for the purpose of rendering thanks to 
God for my safe return after a severe indisposi- 
tion abroad. The Lord preserveth the simple : 
I was brought low, and he helped me. Return 
unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt 
bountifully with thee. 

" 2d. Let me realize in this affliction a new 
proof of my frailty, and the importance of do- 
ing each day the work of that day. 

" 3d. Let me learn from the circumstances of 
this dispensation, being seized in my absence 
from home, that I am ignorant not only of the 
time, but the place of my departure. When I 
leave my family and friends, I know not wheth- 
er we shall ever meet again in time. What dil- 
igence, therefore, is necessary, instructing, ex- 
horting, and promoting by every possible means 
their spiritual and eternal interests ? When 1 
address my congregation one Sabbath, I know 
not whether another opportunity shall ever be 
enjoyed. Let it hereafter be my chief concern 
to preach in the plain, unaffected language of 
8 K2 


the Holy Ghost ; anxious not for words which 
may please, but for truths which may savingly 
and everlastingly profit them. 

" I desire now, so far as I can judge a deceit- 
ful heart, to surrender myself, without any re- 
serve, to be the Lord's ; it is my unfeigned wish 
that my body, my soul, my time, my talents, my 
worldly substance maybe so disposed of as that 
God may be most glorified, and the souls of men 
most edified. O Lord, truly I am thy servant ; 
I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid ; 
thou hast loosed my bonds. I will oflfer to thee 
the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon 
the name of the Lord." 

The absence here referred to was occasioned 
by Mr. Proudfit's being appointed by the Synod 
to supply the pulpit of Dr. Mason, of New- York, 
who had gone to Europe on a mission in behalt 
of the Theological Seminary founded by the 
Associate Reformed Church. Mr. Proudfit re- 
mained about two months in the city, and, while 
there, laboured with as much diligence and zeal 
as if he had been the regular pastor of the con- 
gregation. At this time the Pearl-street Church 
was vacant, and such was the impression left 
upon the minds of the people by Mr. Proudfit's 
labours, that not a few of the most serious and 
intelligent among them were desirous of calling 
him as a colleague to Dr. Mason. Such, prob- 


ably, would have been the result, and, humanly 
speaking, a most happy one, had it not been that 
Dr. Mason, while in Europe, had formed another 
plan, which, though never carried into effect, was 
the means of defeating this. 

" January 1st, 1803. This morning read over 
my resolutions, and find infinite — infinite cause 
of humiliation. In all things, every day that I 
live, in every duty which I attempt to discharge, 
in every thought which passes through my mind, 
I come short of the glory of God. O Lord, en- 
ter not into judgment with thy servant ; I flee 
to thy mercy, through the sacrifice of thy dear 
Son, for the forgiveness of the failures of the past 
year. I desire to rest on thy promised strength 
for discharging the duties, and bearing the tri- 
als, and resisting the temptations of the coming 
year. My heart and my flesh fail, but God is 
the strength of my heart, and my portion for- 

" Sabbath evening, February 20th, 1803. 
Upon my return from the sanctuary, was bowed 
to the very dust through an apprehension that 
my labours were unprofitable ; could discern Ut- 
tle evidence that they were successful either for 
the conversion of sinners, or building up saints 
to greater attainments in holiness. Was encour- 
aged in revolving Isai., Iv., 10 : " as the rain 
cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and 


watereth the earth, making it to bring forth and 
bud." Although the snow enricheth the earth 
and renders it more productive, yet their fruits 
do not immediately appear ; the natural world 
remains barren for weeks and months after the 
descent of the snow ; and as it is in the natural, 
so it may be in the spiritual world under the 
ministry of the Gospel. Although the word 
preached does not immediately profit, yet, here- 
after, through the effectual operations of the Lord 
the Sanctifier, it may spring forth and bear fruit 
to life everlasting. Who knows but after my 
faltering tongue is silent in the grave, and my 
feeble labours have ceased forever, these truths, 
through the power of the Holy Ghost, may be 
rendered effectual to the salvation of these hear- 
ers ? O Lord, I commend to thy grace all that 
I have ever been enabled to speak in thy name, 
whether privately or publicly. Bless it in thine 
own time, and give me patience to wait thy time. 
O remember thy word, upon which thou didst 
enable me to hope soon after I entered thy ser- 
vice in the work of the ministry, and by the rec- 
ollection of which my soul has often experien- 
ced a joy unspeakable : " follow me, and I will 
make you fishers of men." 

This is only one of the many records of a de- 
jected heart in view of the seeming barrenness 
of his pastoral labours. Yet, in general, his 


mind appears to have been turned to some one 
of the many precious promises of the word of 
God to the faithful minister. Few pastors are 
to be found who have not almost with anguish 
of spirit asked, " who hath believed our report V* 
Undoubtedly there is a measure of anxiety which 
the faithful minister of Christ cannot but 'feel — 
nay, ought to feel ; yet it may be doubted if the 
anxiety which is so often experienced to see the 
immediate fruit of their labours be proper. The 
times and the seasons of spiritual harvest God 
hath reserved in his own power. Experience 
shows that the word of Christ is really produ- 
cing its mighty work in the minds and hearts 
of the hearers, even when, for a considerable 
time, there is no outward manifestation of it. 
" Be thou faithful unto death" — faithful in the 
ministry of the word, and in continual prayer, 
is the Master's command ; the success is wholly 
in his own hand, and He gives it, as to measure, 
and manner, and time, according to his own sov- 
ereign will. 

Often as were his seasons of dejection, Mr. 
Proudfit had ample evidence to believe that his 
ministry was owned by his Divine Master, and 
many were the times in which his soul was made 
to magnify the God of his salvation. Such a 
record occurs under date of 


" Sabbath evening, March 6th. This day I 
have enjoyed unusual Comfort and enlargement 
in public ordinances. I neither expect nor as- 
pire after more exquisite bliss on this side heaven 
than the employment of preaching a crucified 
Saviour to perishing sinners under the influences 
of the Holy Ghost. Felt a temptation, during 
the morning service, not to cease from the ex- 
ercise. So abundant was the measure of divine 
life and strength communicated, that I thought I 
could have preached to eternity vv^ithout being 
exhausted. I can do all things, I know, from 
repeated sensible experience, through Christ 
strengthening me. After my return to my own 
house, felt ardent movements of heart towards 
all who had been hearing, and would willingly 
have espoused them one by one to one husband, 
that they might hereafter be presented as chaste 
virgins to Christ Jesus. 

"June 26th, 1804. This morning set apart 
some time for the exercise of prayer, 

" 1st. That the Lord would direct in the pros- 
ecution of my studies, particularly in preparing 
that series of discourses which, in an humble re- 
liance on his grace, I am now undertaking. 
Thou, Lord, hast commanded the light to shine 
out of darkness ; wilt thou not shine upon my 
heart, and lead me to the truth as it is in Jesus ? 
John, xvi., 13. . 


" 2d. That he would condescend to apply 
them savingly to the souls of some to whom 
they may be delivered. I acknowledge I am 
utterly unworthy of an honour so great ; but 
thou hast received gifts for men, even the rebell- 
ious, that the Lord God may dwell among us ; 
and now to the agency of the Lord the Spirit I 
commit them, that they may become subservient 
to thy glory in the salvation of sinners. To 
thee, also, I commit my soul, body, and estate, 
for thou hast redeemed me, and art worthy of 
all that I am and am capable of performing. 
Psalm xlviii., 12-14. 

" July 4:th. Set apart some time for prayer 
for two churches, S m and N. Y., which ap- 
pear critically situated ; that the Lord would 
preside in the midst of them, and direct their de- 
liberations. Psalm cxxi., 6-9. Dan., iv., 35. 

" 2d. That he would enable me to act a be- 
coming part, and give me entire submission to 
his will, whatever be the event. Ps. cxxiii., 12 ; 
Ixxxiv., 11, 12. 

" 3d. In imploring the Divine blessing on va- 
rious persons in the congregation who are afflict- 
ed either in body or in mind, and have desired 
an interest in my prayers. 

" 4th. That he would vouchsafe his presence 
at the celebration of the ordinance of the Sup- 
per shortly to be dispensed in H , and give ef- 


ficacy to the word of his own grace which I am 
there called to proclaim. Matt., xxviii., 20." 

The series of discourses mentioned in the first 
of these extracts, though not the first publica- 
tions, formed the first considerable volume which 
he gave to the world. He had already published 
two sermons, the first one preached before the 
Missionary Society, and another, in 1802, be- 
fore the Synod. In the preface, he observes, 
" these discourses were prepared for the pulpit 
during the summer of 1804, with little expecta- 
tion of being afterward ofliered from the press. 
The author, since that time, has occasionally itin- 
erated through the frontier settlements, and in 
these visits has sincerely deplored the desolate 
condition of the inhabitants." After mentioning 
the circumstances which induced him to publish 
the discourses, he adds, " the subjects, however 
imperfectly discussed, are without doubt infinite- 
ly interesting ; and the plan, he humbly hopes, is, 
in some measure, adapted to the situation of the 
frontier inhabitants." 

The volume is entitled " Discourses on the 
leading Doctrines and Duties of Christianity ; or, 
the Ruin and Recovery of Man" (1806). 

The title of the volume is a sufficient indica- 
tion of its design, which is to unfold, on the one 
hand, the fallen and undone condition of man in 
his natural state, and, on the other, the way of 


recovery from all the consequences of the apos- 
tacy, through the redemption that is in Christ 
Jesus. Dr. Proudfit's theology was that of the 
Reformers and Nonconformists ; his turn of mind 
was too unspeculat'ive and devotional to admit 
of indulgence in metaphysical reasoning, or 
dwelling upon any other than the grand essen- 
tial verities, the belief of which is necessary to 
salvation. He was the very reverse of a po- 
lemic ; and hence, though the grand points enlar- 
ged upon in the Ruin and Recoverynre, the con- 
nexion of the human race with the First Adam 
— the universal corruption of man — the work 
of the' Second Adam as the substitute for the 
guilty, and the agency of the Holy Spirit in the 
application of redemption ; though these great 
doctrines of our holy faith are clearly unfolded, 
they are, at the same time, so closely applied to 
the conscience and heart of the readei', that any 
evangelical Christian, whatever may be the par- 
ticular shade of his creed, cannot fail to peruse 
them with pleasure and edification. How well 
this volume was received by the religious pub- 
lic may be judged from the fact that, within less 
than ten years, it went through three editions. 
In the last it was enlarged to two volumes, em- 
bracing discourses on the principal duties of the 
Christian life. 

The grand subject of these and of all the oth- 


er volumes subsequently published by Dr. Proud- 
fit, is Jesus Christ, and him crucified. In almost 
every sermon the great Redeemer is held up to 
view as " bearing our sins in his own body on 
the tree," as opening, through the perfection of 
his atonement and the merit of his obedience, a 
fountain where the most guilty and polluted 
might wash and be clean. 

Of course, in such a series there could hardly 
fail to be a sort of monotony to one who should 
read the volumes consecutively ; but consider- 
ing the persons for whom they were designed, 
and the method in which it was expected they 
would be read — in the social meeting, and at the 
fireside on the Sabbath evening — there is a very 
suitable reiteration of the great theme of the 
gospel, " Christ crucified for us." These ser- 
mons are doctrinal, and yet they are eminently 
practical ; doctrinal, inasmuch as their topics are 
the peculiar doctrines of the gospel ; practical, 
because these topics are discussed, not in a cold 
and scientific way, but with all the life and 
warmth which they are so well fitted to inspire ; 
and they are applied with solemn earnestness to 
arouse the careless, to convict the sinner, to point 
the inquirer to the Lamb of God ; to direct, 
strengthen, warm, and comfort the Christian in 
the work and warfare of the present life. There 
is scarcely a sermon which docs not contain 


some passages of more than ordinary eloquence. 
Their style is so plain as to adapt them to the 
humblest ; yet they have sufficient of the graces 
of rhetoric to commend them to persons of re- 
fined taste. 

As has been already hinted, we shall not find, 
either in the earlier or later volumes of Dr. 
Proudfit, original vievs^s or profound discussions. 
Such v^^as not his aim. Whatever powers of in- 
vention he possessed, they seemed, during his 
whole ministry, to have been exercised mainly 
for the discovery of methods of doing good. 
Still, the volumes bear the stamp of a refined 
and cultivated mind, an acquaintance with class- 
ical literature, and especially with the writings 
of those great lights of the 16th and 17th cen- 
turies, whose works will do more to furnish the 
mind of the Christian pastor than the writings 
of all the Greek and Latin fathers put together. 

In 1804 Mr. Proudfit published another small 
volume, entitled "The One Thing Needful." It 
consisted of three discourses, viz., The Barren 
Fig-tree ; The Healing Balm ; to which were 
added, in a subsequent edition. The Spiritual 
Steward ; The Female Labourer ; Ministerial 
Labour and Support ; Life and Immortality. 
One of these — the Fentale Labourer — was re- 
published in Edinburgh under the auspices of 
the late excellent Mr. Brown, of Whitburn. 


When Mr. Proudfit commenced the pubhca- 
tion of these volumes, there was not, as has been 
ah'eady stated, a single tract society in the Uni- 
ted States ; and although there were a few mis- 
sionary institutions, yet their means were very 
limited, and their labourers few. This method 
of supplying the spiritual wants of the numer- 
ous frontier settlements, which were rarely vis- 
ited by Christian ministers, was vastly more im- 
portant then than it would be now, when so 
much is doing, and in so many ways, by all 
branches of the Church, to supply the wants of 
the needy at home. In those days it was almost 
the only practicable method of doing them good, 
and the review of these works of Mr. Proudfit 
sets his active and untiring energy in a sti'ong 
and beautiful light. He had himself been among 
these poor settlers ; he had seen with his own 
eyes their spiritual destitution ; his sympathies 
were awakened in their behalf, not merely while 
on the spot, but after his return to his own fa- 
voured home, he thought of the scattered sheep 
in the wilderness, and he set himself to work to 
do them good. His volumes were published, not 
with the remotest idea of pecuniary gain, but 
simply to supply that lack of service which is 
now supplied by our various benevolent institu- 
tions. They were widely circulated in our own 
and in other states, either gratuitously or at a 

REV. Dll. PROUDFIT. 125 

price far below their cost. In this good work 
Mr. Proudfit was aided by several benevolent 
friends, and particularly by the late D. Bethune, 
Esq., of New- York, and the late General Van 
Rensselaer, of Albany. 

Besides the productions of his own pen, Mr. 
Proudfit published in this year (at Salem) an edi- 
tion of that admirable old work, Guthrie's Trial 
of a Saving Interest in Christ, for circulation in 
his own congregation, and among the new set- 
tlements. Of the happy results of these benev- 
olent labours, numerous testimonies might be 
given from men in various parts of the United 
States ; one or two, however, must suflice. A 
friend in Plattsburg writes, " the tracts I have 
put in circulation ; not given them away, but to 
pass from neighbour to neighbour, with this in- 
struction endorsed on the title-page. We feel, in 
behalf of ourselves and our destitute settlement, 
great obligations to you for your concern and 
kind care of us ; we have not had any one to dis- 
pense to us the Word of Life, not even a mission- 
ary visit during the whole summer. A very 
profitable disposition of religious books can be 
made here, and in the newer and more remote 
settlements to almost any extent. On the last 
Wednesday of each month since we parted, I 
have united with you in the little concert of fast- 
ing and prayer." Another friend in Massachu- 


setts writes, " I ought, long ago, to have written 
to you, and acknowledge the reception of a num- 
ber of books which you were so obliging as to 
send me. I have read them with much pleas- 
ure, and, I trust, profit. Others have read them, 
and several of them have literally been worn 
out by frequent perusal." 

Mr. Proudfit began the year 1805 by a mis- 
sionary visit to the Oneida and the Stockbridge 
Indians. Among the first-named tribe, the gos- 
pel had been preached so early as 1766, by the 
Rev. Mr. Kirkland, who laboured among them 
for a long time under the patronage of the soci- 
ety in Scotland for propagating Christian knowl- 
edge. Of the privations to which he was expo- 
sed, Mr. Kirkland gives a graphic account in a 
letter written in 1767 ; " from week to week I 
am obliged to go with the Indians to Oneida 
Lake to catch eels for my subsistence. I have 
lodged and slept with them till I am as lousy as 
a dog. Flour and milk, with a few eels, have 
been my only livmg. Such diet, with my hard, 
labour abroad, is not sufficient to support na- 
ture ; my strength, indeed, begins to fail. My 
poor people are almost starved to death. There 
is one family of four persons whom I must sup- 
port the best way I can, or they would certain- 
ly perish. Indeed, I would myself gladly fall 
upon my knees for such a bone as I have often 


seen cast to the dogs. My constitution is almost 
broken ; my spirits sunk ; yet my heart still 
bleeds for these poor creatures. I had rather die 
than leave them alone in their present miserable 
condition."* Amid privations like these, and 
sometimes with his life in peril, this excellent 
man continued at his post, and in the course of 
a few years his heart was made glad by the 
promise that the wilderness would soon rejoice, 
and blossom as the rose. In a letter dated De- 
cember, 1770, and written by three of the Onei- 
da chiefs, they say, "the holy word of Jesus 
has got place among us, and advances. Many 
have lately forsaken their sins to appearance, 
and turned to God." Mr. Kirkland died at Par- 
is, Oneida county, 28th March, 1808, aged six- 
ty-seven, having spent forty years as a mission- 
ary among the Indians. 

The mission among the Stockbridge Indians 
was commenced by the Rev. John Sargeant in 
1734, during the residence of that tribe on the 
banks of the Housatonic River. Its history is 
remarkable for the distinguished men who have 
been connected with it. Mr. Sargeant, its found- 
er, who died in 1749, in the thirty-ninth year of 
his age, is described as " a man of such singular 
worth and varied excellence, that his equal is 
rarely met with in the Church of Christ. The 

* History of Missions, i., 139. 

128 MEMUlll or THL 

brightness of his genius, the extent of his learn- 
ing, the sweetness of his temper, the agreeable- 
ncss of his conversation, the strength and fervour 
of his zeal, the unweariedness of his diligence, 
were the least of those qualities wTiich distin- 
guished and ennobled his character." He was 
succeeded, in 1751, by the great Jonathan Ed- 
w^ards, whose fame is in all the churches ; for 
six years this mission was under the charge of 
this illustrious man, and it was during these 
years that he wrote his two great works on the 
Freedom of the Will, and on Original Sin. Soon 
after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, 
a portion of the tribe, accompanied by the Rev. 
John Sargeant, son of the founder of the mis- 
sion, removed to a tract of land six miles square, 
which had been offered to them by the Oneida 
Indians, where they built a town which they call- 
ed New Stockbridge. In 1796 their number 
was about 300, all of them nominal Christians, 
but only thirty of them members of the Church. 
Mr. Sargeant was pastor at the time of Mr. 
Proudfit's visit, as appears from the diary. 

" Thursday evening, January 10th, 1805. This 
afternoon had an opportunity of preaching to 
the Stockbridge Indians, from 1 Tim., i., 15 ; 
' this is a faithful saying,' &c. ; was much affect- 
ed at witnessing their pitiable situation in a tem- 
poral respect, being destitute of almost every 


earthly enjoyment, and was led to admire the 
sovereignty v^hich makes the distinctions among 
men : felt deeply moved with compassion to- 
wards their souls, and found some enlargement 
in expostulating with them to receive that Jesus 
who came into the world to save sinners of all 
nations indiscriminately. Spent the evening 
with the Rev. John Sargeant, missionary to that 
tribe, and was highly entertained with the pious 
conversation of himself and family ; was led 
forward, in imagination, to the joys of that world 
where we shall be admitted, not only to the fel- 
lowship of Jesus, the mediator, but of the re- 
deemed of all countries and ages. During the 
evening, was gratified in hearing a narrative of 
the labours of the elder Mr. Sargeant, former 
missionary to the same tribe of Indians in New- 
England, and with the perusal of letters address- 
ed from Rev. A. Burr to Mrs. Sargeant upon 
the decease of her truly excellent and laborious 
husband, dated 1749. Could not refrain from 
reflecting on the advantages of these holy men 
who were born so long before us, and admitted 
sooner to the communion of that Being who is 
the fountain of glory and bliss, 

" ' Safe landed on that blissful shore, 
Where pilgrims meet to part no more.' 

My soul, be thou diligent in following those who, 


through faith and patience, are now inheriting 
the promises." 

We shall now proceed to give additional ex- 
tracts from Mr. Proudfit's diary, which will serve 
to illustrate some of the more remarkable fea- 
tures of his character as a Christian, and as a 
Christian minister. 

''Saturday, March 2d. This morning set 
apart some time for meditation and prayer, that 
the Lord would countenance me in preparing 
for the press the ' Ruin and Recovery of Man.' 
I fall before thee as less than the least of thy min- 
istering servants or saints. I am a child, Lord, 
and utterly incapable of thinking, or speaking, 
or writing for thy glory or the advantage of oth- 
ers, only as I am enlightened by the Spirit of 
Wisdom. It is not deeper darkness in the nat- 
ural world without the influences of the sun, than 
it is in my soul without thy grace to illumine ; 
but thou hast committed the treasure to earthen 
vessels, that the excellency may be of thyself, 
and not of us. I now present myself to thee as 
an empty vessel ; impart to me such measure of 
the spiritual treasure as appears suited to the 
age in which I live, and that section of thy Church 
in which thou hast appointed me to labour. I 
know that in a covenant Jehovah there is a ful- 
ness inexhaustible, and that he is not the least 
impoverished by imparting ; I know, also, that 


he will have a Church on earth while sun and 
moon endure, and that he will employ men as 
instruments of her edification, and why not me, 
insignificant and unworthy as I am ? Found en- 
couragement from 2 Cor., iii., 5, 6. James, i., v. 

" Thursday, July 2d. Agreed with two Chris- 
tian friends to spend one hour this afternoon, each 
in his own closet, commending to God a domes- 
tic concern of great importance. We mutually 
agreed not to presume to dictate to a sovereign 
God, but merely implore him to manage it in the 
manner most conducive to the general interests 
of all concerned. 

" We previously conversed with each other 
on the following portions of Scripture, which we 
considered suitable and encouraging in our ap- 
plication to our Father's throne: Psalm cxxxviii., 
8. Matt., xviii., 19, 20. Concluded with sing- 
ing Ps. Ixxiii., 23-26. 

" Wednesday, October SOth, 1805. This day 
began to revise the series of discourses for pub- 
lication, and, therefore, set apart some time for 
the exercise of special prayer, 

" 1st. That the Lord would direct me, would 
instruct me in the mysteries of his gospel, giv- 
ing me suitable apprehensions of the ruin of 
man by nature, and the method of his recovery 
through the substitution and sufferings of his 
dear Son. 


" 2d. That he would direct to such discussion 
of each text as may be most agreeable to the 
analogy of faith, and most adapted to the edifi- 
cation of serious souls. 

" 3d. That he would give bodily strength to 
execute the work, and accept of this humble at- 
tempt to advance the honour of his great Name, 
and promote the best interests of men." 

This volume consists of sixteen sermons ; the 
preface bears date, Salem, September, 1806. 
The design of the author in this work will be 
learned from the following extract : " although 
the subjects illustrated in the following pages 
have often occupied the pen of controversy, yet 
I have cautiously avoided entering the field. To 
have stated and answered the various objections, 
must have swelled the- work to an immoderate 
size, and, in a great measure, have defeated the 
design of the publication. My intention was 
not to contend with the adversaries of our sal- 
vation, but, if possible, by a plain exhibition of 
Divine truth, to espouse sinners to the Saviour, 
and advance his own children to the measure of 
the stature of his fulness." The preceding pas- 
sages from the diary show in what spirit the 
work was prepared for the press ; the din of 
controversy between Calvinists and Hopkinsians 
was then beginning to be heard ; but the author 
of the Ruin and Recovery did not enter the field 


in the character of a polemic, but as one whose 
" heart's desire and prayer to God was" that 
men might be saved. These sermons will also 
serve to show the style of Mr. Proudfit's minis- 
trations among his own people, as it appears 
from the preface that they were originally 
preached to them in the course of the year 1804. 

Under this date he thus sings of the goodness 
of the Lord. 

" August 1st, 1806. This morning set apart 
some time for meditation and prayer : 

" 1st. That the Lord would revive his work 
in my own soul, enabling me to live more entire- 
ly above this vain, polluted, and polluting world : 
encouraged by Hosea, xiv., 4-6. John, iv., 14. 

" 2d. That he would revive his work in the 
congregation, w^here, alas ! iniquity abounds, and 
the love of many is waxing cold. 

" 3d. That, as he has produced a very ma- 
terial change in my temporal circumstances by 
the increase of property, he would direct to the 
most prudent and profitable use of my talents. 
O Lord, the earth is thine, and the fulness there- 
of, and thou givest these treasures to whomso- 
ever thou wilt. I am only a steward of thy 
bounty, and desire to occupy them to the honour 
of thee — the sovereign, liberal giver — to the in- 
terests of my generation, and to my own re- 
joicing at the great day of the appearing of Je- 


sus Christ. Lord, I am thine ; thou didst create 
me ; thou hast preserved me all my hfe long to 
this day ; thou hast conferred upon me blessings 
without number of a temporal nature ; thou hast 
afforded me the comfortable assurance of the sal- 
vation of thy dear Son ; thou hast counted me 
faithful, putting me into the ministry ; thou hast 
opened for me many doors of usefulness, and 
crowned me with many pledges of thine appro- 
bation in discharging the duties of this office. 
What shall I — what can I render to thee for all 
these benefits ? Could I offer thee ten thousand 
lives, I must still remain an infinite, eternal debt- 
or. Since, therefore, I have but one life, and that 
very short and uncertain, may I think of nothing 
but devotion to the service of my God and my 
generation. Let my soul live, and it shall praise 
thee, and let thy judgments help me. I have 
gone astray like a lost sheep ; seek thy servant, 
for I do not forget thy commandments." 

" Sabbath morning, February 21 st, 1808. An 
unpleasant occurrence has for some time disturb- 
ed the peace of the session and congregation ; I 
have, therefore, agreed with a few Christian 
friends to spend an hour in committing it by 
prayer to Him who is the wise sovereign and 
gracious disposer of all events. Oh ! what con- 
descension has our heavenly Father displayed in 
that invitation, * call upon me in the day of 


trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glo- 
rify me.' Psalm 1., 15. Special promises are 
made by our Divine advocate to the united sup- 
plication of his children. Matt., xviii., 19. In 
reflecting upon this occurrence, I was support- 
ed by the consideration that Jehovah loves the 
Church, that he has purchased it with his ow^n 
blood, that her interests are, therefore, infinitely 
dear to him, and he will give her peace so far 
as shall conduce to his honour and her advan- 
tage ; found comfort from the consideration that 
the member who occasioned this trouble was a 
child of the spiritual family ; therefore, felt an 
assurance that he would be brought to a convic- 
tion of his error, would obtain the forgiveness 
of his offence, and be restored to the paths of 

" By this seemingly adverse occurrence, my 
soul has been roused from a torpid, lifeless frame, 
into which it had sunk ; my pride has been mor- 
tified, my patience has been tried, and, I hope, 
improved. I have been more weaned from men, 
because this affliction came from one with whom 
I had long been in habits of intimacy, with whom 
I had frequently mingled sweet counsel in the 
house of God, and in our own houses. I have 
been taught experimentally the truth which I 
had long believed, and often preached, that we 
are strangers and sojourners upon earth, and am 


constrained to long for a translation to that world 
where no jar or jealousy shall ever enter ; where 
nothing shall interrupt our peace with God or 
with each other, but harmony and love shall 
reign forever." 

Happy would it be for the Church if congre- 
gational difficulties and cases of discipline were 
more frequently dealt with after this manner. 
We too often forget that the Church is infinitely 
dearer to her exalted Head and Redeemer than 
she can be to her most eminent and holy mem- 
bers or ministers. 

" Same day, preached at Rupert from John, 
vi., 27. ' Labour for that meat which endureth 
to everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall 
give you.' Had some freeness in exhibiting the 
fulness of Jesus and his salvation. 

" On the forenoon of Tuesday repaired to 
Whitehall, and in the evening preached from 
Isai., Iv., 3. ' I will make an everlasting cove- 
nant with you, even the sure mercies of David.' 
The people in both settlements appeared very 
affectionate, seemingly hungry for the bread of 
life, but destitute of any one to dispense it sta- 
tedly. The harvest is indeed plenteous, and the 
fields are becoming white. There is, in many 
of our frontier settlements, an uncommon thii-st 
for the waters of the sanctuary. On my return, 
I called to spend some time with Mrs. H , a 


friend in Jesus, who being absent, I was led to 
stop at a public house. The landlady I soon 
discovered to be much exercised to godliness ; 
her conversation on the great doctrines of prac- 
tical religion was truly refreshing and edifying. 
She was a Baptist by profession, and an utter 
stranger until that interview took place ; yet I 
soon felt towards her as a sister in the spiritual 
family ; she appeared incomparably nearer and 
dearer to me than hundreds of Presbyterians 
who are called by the same name, and encircled 
within the same ecclesiastical pale with myself 
Christians of all communions, of all conditions, 
of all colours, are I'eally of one body in Christ, 
and members one of the other. Their bond of 
union is love- to Jesus, their common Saviour 
and Lord ; and is, therefore, not only intimate, 
but indissoluble, unaltered, and unalterable by 
any outward variety of sentiment, or circum- 
stances, or place." 

In this extract there is an illustration of that 
truly catholic temper by which Mr. Proudfit was 
distinguished. To that branch of the Church 
with which he was connected he was warmly 
attached ; yet he was not a sectarian : he could 
and did say from the heart, " grace be with all 
them who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sinceri- 
ty." While we cannot be too deeply imbued with 
this catholic spirit — this love of the brethren for 


Jesus's sake — we may, at the same time, under- 
rate the importance of that particular depart- 
ment of the Church to which we belong. Ca- 
thohcism and unsectarianism are by no means 
equivalent terms. 

" September Sth, 1808. I set apart this morn- 
ing for the exercises of fasting, humiliation, and 
prayer, for the purpose of presenting before the 
Lord that trial which has long pressed heavily 
upon me, and therefore I would, 

" 1st. Confess and mourn over my sins which 
are the procuring cause of this and all other ca- 
lamities. Isai., lix., 1, 2. 

" 2d. I acknowledge that the Lord would be 
just in the actual infliction of this threatened evil, 
and ten times greater. Ps. ciii., 10. 

" 3d. In fervent expostulation that, for his 
name's sake and for his Son's sake, he would 
condescend to avert this scourge, and to his 
name I will aim at ascribing the glory of the 
deliverance. Job, xxxiii., 20. Jer., xxxiii., 3. 
Heb., iv., 14-16. 

" October I9th. Set apart this morning for 
the exercise of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, \ 
and desire, 

" 1st. To be humbled before the Lord for the 
sin of my nature and life. Ps. li., 1-5. ; cxxx., 2, 3. 

" 2d. To commit to his management that mat- 
ter which has so deeply interested me for some 


time past, and desire that the Lord would pre- 
pare me for the issue. He is infinitely wise, and 
knows what is most conducive to my good and 
his own glory ; he is very pitiful, and of tender 
mercies, and ' will not afflict willingly, nor grieve 
the children of men.' 

" 3d. I desire to be deeply impressed with a 
sense of my dependance upon God, and my ob- 
ligations to be devoted wholly to the advance- 
ment of his cause in the edification of his Church ; 
I therefore sincerely pray that he would direct 
me to spend the few days, or months, or years 
which await me in the manner best calculated to 
promote these ends. 

*' 4th. I earnestly look up to the Lord for spe- 
cial blessings on my family, my friends, my con- 
gregation, on students of theology, on the min- 
isters of religion, and on Zion throughout the 
whole world. 

" November I6th, 1808. This morning have 
been taking into consideration various providen- 
ces which have occurred agreeably to my wish- 
es, and which I desire to record to the praise of 
the Divine condescension, and for my own en- 
couragement in seasons of darkness and adver- 
sity. Truly, he is faithful who has promised ; 
he is good to them that wait for him, to the soul 
that seeketh him. I find that everything is pros- 
perous ; that I enjoy a peace which the world 


can neither give nor take ^way, in proportion as 
I live by faith, resting on the promises, the pow- 
er, and faithfulness, and tender mercies of a cov- 
enant Jehovah." 

These extracts are given in the order in which 
they occur, and serve to show how " in all things, 
by prayer and supplication, he made known his 
requests unto God." 

In the latter part of this year Mr. Proudfit pub- 
lished another small work, entitled " Our Danger 
and Duty : two Sermons, delivered 30th of No- 
vember, 1808, being the day appointed by the 
Presbytery of Washington for Fasting and Pray- 
er, on account of the alarming aspect of Divine 
Providence towards our country." With some 
brief extracts, containing sentiments as well suit- 
ed to the present as to any former crisis of our 
country, we shall close this chapter. In consid- 
ering the crimes with which we are, as a nation, 
chargeable, the author observes, " may not the 
records of our courts of justice testify how com- 
mon are the crimes of false sw^earing and for- 
gery — crimes peculiarly offensive to God, and 
which tend to sap the very foundation of social 
order among men ? Do not our daily prints an- 
nounce the very alarming increase of bankrupt- 
cies in our country ? Probably one thousand 
instances of private failure occur now where 
one occurred twenty years ago. This fact evin- 


ces the corruption of public morals, as these fail- 
ures must ordinarily proceed either from a con- 
cealment of property with a view to defraud the 
creditor, or from a mode of living utterly beyond 
our ability." " Permit me to notice another 
cause of the Divine displeasure, those bitter con- 
tentions, those mutual reproaches, which abound 
among us. What are our seasons of election 
but seasons of detraction and defamation, by 
which the passions of each other are inflamed ? 
What liberties are frequently taken in reproach- 
ing public men, and misrepresenting public meas- 
ures ! Does not the living God explicitly forbid 
the indulgence of ' hatred, variance, emulations, 
wrath V An untender, unforbearing spirit be- 
tween man and man is always inexcusable, but 
it is peculiarly offensive when cherished by those 
who are citizens of the same commonwealth, 
whose civil and social interests are intimately 
blended together. In republican forms of gov- 
ernment, where public virtue is the great pillar 
on which government rests, a degree of party 
spirit may be profitable ; one portion of the com- 
munity thus becomes a ' watch-tower' to the oth- 
er ; but when the spirit becomes outrageous and 
infuriate, when jealousy pervades every class of 
the community, and extinguishes mutual confi- 
dence, it becomes equally reproachful and ruin- 


The following letter of Dr. Mason did not 
come to hand in time to be inserted in its proper 
place, yet it deserves not to be wholly omitted, 
on account of its connexion with the history of 
the Episcopal controversy of 1805. It explains 
the origin of the Christian's Magazine, a period- 
ical of which Dr. Mason was the principal edi- 
tor, and in which some of the best productions 
of his pen, viz., his essays on Episcopacy, on the 
Church, and on the use of Lots, made their first 
appearance. The late Drs. Livingston, Ro- 
meyn, and M'Leod, also largely contributed to 
its pages. It is dated 

" New- York, 5th April, 1805. 
" My dear Brother, 
"With this you will receive four copies of 
proposals for a new periodical work. You will 
discern at once its general design, which I trust 
you will approve. It has become absolutely ne- 
cessary to employ measures of defence against 
the outrages of the hierarchists. We have long 
treated them with the greatest courtesy, even 
while they showed no disposition towards an 
exchange of civilities ; but there is a point be- 
yond which concession becomes dishonour, and 
to that point matters have now arrived. Treat- 
ed with incessant contumely from the pulpit and 
the press, their ministrations branded as impie- 
ties, and themselves as thieves and robbers, the 


Presbyterian clergy cannot sit down any longer 
under Episcopal abuse without sacrificing their 
consciences and authenticating their disgrace. 

" It is not intended so much to wage war 
against the prelatists as to establish the Scriptural 
truth. This seems to be present duty. It is no 
secret that few Presbyterians are well acquaint- 
ed with the principles and reasons of their own 
church order, and, therefore, they are more vul- 
nerable on this than on any other point. Some 
have undoubtedly laboured too much in mere 
externals, and others, running into the opposite 
extreme, pass them over too slightly. I think 
this is too common, and a sinful omission on the 
part of most evangelical ministers. Laudably 
bent upon the precious doctrines of the cross, 
which directly bear upon the sinner's hope, they 
have insensibly dropped the habit of instructing 
their flocks in the constitution and arrangements 
of the Christian Church. This is certainly for 
a lamentation ; it has thrown disrespect upon 
the Redeemer as King over the holy hill of Zion, 
and the churches on both sides of the Atlantic 
are smarting under the effects of their negligence. 
As we shall connect various other matters with 
disquisitions concerning Church government, we 
flatter ourselves that the work will prove ac- 
ceptable to the bulk of serious readers, and we 
look for aid in the prosecution of it from breth- 


ren who are contending under the same banners 
against a common foe. I am, my dear brother, 
with much affection, yours, 

" J. M. Mason." 

From this letter it appears that the Episcopal 
controversy of 1805 was begun, not by Presby- 
terians, but by prelatists. The former made no 
attacks upon diocesan Episcopacy; they did 
not deny the validity of Episcopal ordination. 
During the whole discussion they acted only in 
self-defence. Dr. Mason, no doubt, entered into 
it with warmth, and he did not always express 
his sentiments in the gentlest terms ; but at no 
time did he allow his zeal to get so much the 
better of his judgment as to induce him to un- 
church his opponents, or to deny their right to 
the precious liberty wherewith Christ has made 
his people free. 

The same cause which produced the contro- 
versy of 1805 has led to its revival in our own 
day, viz., prelatic assumption and exclusiveness. 
The difference between Episcopalians and Pres- 
byterians respecting the government of the 
Church is doubtless a proper subject of discus- 
sion, but to all right-minded men it presents 
no reason why they should not recognise each 
other as Christians, and, in so far as they have 
attained, walk by the same rule, and mind the 


same things. It would be a strange thing should 
one who believes ordination to be by Divine 
right, an act of the presbytery, affirm that such 
men as Ridley, Latimer, and Hall never were 
ministers of Christ. Equally strange should it 
be that any can be found professing to have 
learned the truth in Jesus, who, after reading 
the records of the experience, and the labours of 
such a man as Dr. Proudfit, can deny that he 
was a true minister of the Lord Jesus. Such a 
denial may, on either side, seem to be demanded 
by the jure divino theory ; but, however logical 
the consequence may appear, its utter falsity is 
proved by the fact that the Church's Head has 
owned these men as his ministers, and has stamp- 
ed their ministry with the seal of his approba- 

10 N 




From the interest which Mr. Proudfit took in 
missions, and his readiness to engage in the work 
of a domestic missionary at a time when it was 
tenfold more arduous and self-denying than it is 
now, it might be inferred that he would rejoice 
with a special joy at the formation of that board, 
which has been so eminently owned of God — 
the American Board of Commissioners for For- 
eign Missions. Into the details of its interesting 
history it would be out of place to go ; this much, 
however, may be observed, that its early history 
affords a fine illustration of the doctrine of a par- 
ticular Providence, and shows what vast results 
maybe dependant upon circumstances seemingly 
unimportant. The perusal of a missionary ser- 
mon by the late Dr. John Livingston is said to 
have been the means of directing the attention of 
Newel, Mills, and their companions to the wants 
and the woes of the heathen world. The subse- 
quent history of the Board presents us with a stri- 
king instance of the power of faith, and one to 
which the subject of this memoir was fond of re- 


earring. When these young men proposed to 
go forth as the missionary representatives of the 
American Church, it was at first deemed question- 
able whether the Church would be able to sustain 
them, and recourse was had to the London So- 
ciety for aid in the event of its being needed ; 
but these fears were soon dismissed : the church- 
es went forward to the work, confident in the 
resources of their Divine Head ; and now, as 
we contemplate the vast increase of the mission- 
ary spirit, and the success which has been 
vouchsafed to the Board in the East and the 
West, we may well exclaim, " what hath God 
wrought !" 

Of this Board, Mr. Proudfit was early chosen 
a corporate member, and from first to last its 
managers had his fullest confidence and warm- 
est affection. In 1817, he indeed cordially uni- 
ted with others in organizing the United and For- 
eign Missionary Society ; but he did not look 
upon the latter as in any way the rival of the 
former ; he no doubt deemed, and most justly, 
every such institution, though independent, the 
auxiliary of others, and fitted to bring a larger 
measure of exertion to bear upon the one great 
object — the publication of the gospel among all 
nations. To the American Board Mr. Proud- 
fit was an early and large contributor ; for many 
years he regularly attended its annual meetings, 


and was accustomed to speak of those seasons 
as among the most delightful of his life. 

In 1812 Mr. Proud fit was honoured with the 
degree of Doctor of Divinity by two colleges, 
Middlebury and Williams, the reason of which 
double conferment will be explained by the fol- 
lowing letter from the late President Fitch, of 
Williams : 

" Williams College, September 23d, 1812. 
" Rev. and Dear Sir, 

" I have the pleasure to inform you officially 
that at our last commencement the corporation 
did themselves the honour to confer on you the 
degree of Doctor of Divinity. You, sir, and 
your friends may think this measure unusual, as 
the same degree was last year conferred on you 
at Middlebury ; but it is a standing rule in our 
Board to confer no doctorate unless the person 
on whom it is conferred be nominated by three 
members at a previous meeting of the Board, and 
the nomination accepted. This was your case. 
We did not then know that Middlebury had an- 
ticipated us in the honour we intended to you 
and to ourselves ; nor did this, in our view, make 
it improper that we should proceed. You will 
thus be able duly to appreciate our intentions. 
" I am, dear sir, yours, &c., 

" Ebenezer Fitch. 

" Rev. Alexander Proudfit, D.D." 


During this year some correspondence was 
had with Dr. Proudfit in relation to the vice- 
presidency of Princeton College. From the pa- 
pers which remain, it does not appear that a for- 
mal offer of the office was made ; but, by a let- 
ter of the late Dr. Taylor, of New Brunswick, it 
appears that the attention of the Trustees of that 
venerable institution had been turned towards 
Dr. Proudfit as a person well qualified for the 
post, and a semi-official inquiry was made wheth- 
er the invitation, if tendered, would be accept- 
ed. What reply was made to this letter by Dr. 
Proudfit we are unable to state, no copy of it be- 
ing found among his papers. 

One of the essential qualifications of a Chris- 
tian bishop, according to the judgment of Paul, is 
the bringing up his children in the fear of God. 
The following is one of many extracts w^hich 
might be made from the diary, showing Dr. 
Proudfit's parental faithfulness, and how ear- 
nestly he longed after all the members of his 
family in Christ Jesus : 

" September 22d, 1813. This is the birthday 
of my eldest son. I have, therefore, resolved 
to spend the morning in prayer with him and the 
family, offering him and all my dear children to 
a covenant God. O my father's God, and thou 
who hast been my God and Father, accept the 
dedication of these pledges of thy love ; may 


they be all thine, in soul and body, in time and 
through eternity. Early sanctify them, as thou 
didst Samuel, Josiah, Jeremiah, and Timothy, 
and thus keep them from those follies which are 
common to youth, and raise them up for useful- 
ness in thy Church when my feeble labours are 
ended That he would perfect all that con- 
cerns me, and especially seal with his approba- 
tion that volume which is nearly finished, and 
the others which have been published." 

The following are his reflections on a silent 
Sabbath, under date of 

" Sabbath, August 1th, 1814. Am this day 
prevented by indisposition from attending on the 
duties of the sanctuary, although the pulpit is sup- 
plied by one of my brethren. The Lord is righ- 
teous in laying me aside, and denying me the 
honour of speaking publicly in his name. How 
often have I been silent when I might and ought 
to have been proclaiming his great salvation ! 
How often have I preached by constraint, not 
willingly, not with a becoming importunity and 
affection, the unsearchable riches of the Saviour ! 
I have too frequently indulged a cold, indifferent 
spirit, when my soul should have been wholly 
absorbed in zeal for my Masters glory, and soli- 
citude for the souls of men perishing in their sins ! 
O Lord, I have been truly an unprofitable ser- 
vant ; it is because thy patience is infinite that 


I am not withered to the root as a cumberer of 
thy vineyard. 

"But while my soul is truly humbled under 
the present chastisement of a covenant God, I 
adore his condescension for all the opportunities 
he has afforded me to recommend Jesus and his 
plenteous redemption. Seeing I have this min- 
istry, as I have received mercy, I faint not. 

" Nearly twenty years have elapsed since I 
was separated to preach the everlasting gospel ; 
although possessing a frail constitution, I have 
enjoyed an uncommon measure of health, many 
opportunities for promoting his cause, and have 
experienced seasons of enlargement in exhibit- 
ing the Saviour, too precious to be forgotten in 
time or in eternity. The pulpit has frequently 
been to me as the suburbs of heaven, and I have 
enjoyed a degree of delight in entreating sin- 
ners to be reconciled to God which cannot be 
described. Among all the mercies received 
from the Lord Jesus Christ, I esteem this as the 
crown, that he has accounted me faithful, put- 
ting me into the ministry, and that in his provi- 
dence he has opened so many doors for useful- 
ness. It is condescension, not only divinely 
rich, but distinguishing. Even so. Father, for so 
it seemed good in thy sight. 

" It is now my desire to arise from this bed of 
affliction with renewed resolutions to live more 


entirely for the Lord. I would rejoice in the re- 
covery of my health chiefly, yea, only as it af- 
fords a prospect of doing a little good for my 
family, and for that Church which the Saviour 
purchased with his own blood. ' To me hence- 
forth to live, may it be Christ.' I do consider 
the advancement of his glory in the salvation of 
souls by the consecration of every member of 
my body and power of my mind, and by the 
most prudent management of my outward es- 
tate, as my duty, honour, and interest. Now 
may the words of my mouth and the meditation 
of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, 
my strength and my Redeemer. Amen." 

The path of the just through this life, while 
divinely compared to that of the growing light 
of the morning, is still often darkened by the 
clouds of sorrow. Many of the preceding ex- 
tracts attest that Dr. Proudfit was favoured with 
the light of God's countenance in an eminent de- 
gree ; indeed, they all breathe the spirit of adop- 
tion ; but it would have been strange indeed had 
it been all sunshine with him : " if ye are with- 
out chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then 
are ye bastards, and not sons." " The grievous 
dispensation" spoken of in a subsequent* extract 
would appear, from the frequent references to it 
in the diary, to have been long threatened ; re- 
peatedly did he set apart special seasons of pray- 

* See p. 157. 


er on account of it, nor were his prayers in 

During the year 1813 the Lord v^as pleased 
to crown the labours of his servant with a spe- 
cial outpouring of his Spirit. The only refer- 
ence to it in the diary is under date of July 
6, 1813. " This morning set apart one hour for 
prayer, that the Lord would prosper me in my 
studies ; especially that he would aid me in fin- 
ishing the volume I am now preparing for the 
press, and that he would continue and increase 
that attention to religion which appears in the 
congregation.^^ In this connexion, we may in- 
troduce an extract of a letter to the Rev. Dr. 
Sprague, of Albany, in which Dr. Proudfit gives 
some interesting notices of the revivals in his 
congregation, together with his views on the 
general subject. " This (1832) is the thirty- 
eighth year of my ministerial labours in Salem. 
We have uniformly been in the habit of dispen- 
sing the ordinance of the Supper four times a 
year, and, so far as I can recollect, have never 
had a sacramental occasion without some addi- 
tion to our members ; but at different times du- 
ring this long period we have enjoyed what 
would now be pronounced ' a revival of religion.' 
The refreshing influences of Divine grace de- 
scended silently and softly upon the heritage of 
the Lord, like the showers of spring after the 
N 2 


dreariness and barrenness of , winter. One of 
these occasions was in the year 1796, when a 
very unusual influence apparently accompanied 
the outward dispensation of the Word, sealing 
it upon the souls of both saints and sinners. A 
similar occasion occurred about six years after- 
ward, and another still more memorable visita- 
tion of the Spirit was enjoyed in the year 1815. 
During all these seasons of enlargement to my- 
self, and of spiritual joy to the children of adop- 
tion, and of ' the espousals of others to Jesus as 
their husband,' no extra efforts were used ; no 
brethren from other towns were called in to our 
aid ; but the work advanced silently and regular- 
ly, promoted exclusively, under the Divine bless- 
ing, by the ordinary ministration of ordinances, 
private and public. Yet, during the whole 
course of my ministry, I have never been fa- 
voured with seasons more delightful in their rec- 
ollection ; none the results of which shall I con- 
template with more joy in that day when the 
final account of my stewardship will be requi- 
red. Contemplated in a moral or spiritual light, 
the work on these occasions might be compared 
to that gradual yet perceptible reanimation which 
pervades the vegetable world amid the vernal 
showers and the refreshing influences of the re- 
turning sun, when the face of nature is clothed 
with fresh verdure, and the trees which had 


stood barren are adorned with blossoms and fruit. 
These might emphatically be called ' times of 
refreshing from the presence of the Lord ;' and 
yet I know of no particular cause, except that on 
the last occasion, the revival of the Lord's work 
appeared to come as an answer to extraordinary 
importunity in prayer. Few churches during 
this period, perhaps, have been more honoured 
for raising up young men to adorn the ministe- 
rial office — men full of the Holy Ghost and of 
faith, who now appear as burning and shining 
lights in various parts of our country. On one 
occasion, in the autumn of 1815, six youth took 
their seats together at the sacramental table who 
are now exercising the ministry of reconcilia- 
tion, and some of them with more than ordinary 
success. These facts I feel constrained to no- 
tice, for the purpose of correcting that novel and 
prevailing opinion that religion cannot flourish 
without some special and unusual eflfort. In 
1824, a revival of a different character from 
those already mentioned appeared. Several 
persons residing in different parts of our town 
were suddenly and almost simultaneously struck 
with deep convictions of sin. This arrested the 
attention of the friends of religion ; meetings for 
prayer and conference were held almost every 
day in the week, and generally crowded to over- 
flowing. With respect to the fruits of these re- 


vivals, I have almost uniformly remarkecl that, 
where the subjects had been early and com- 
petently instructed, the impressions have been 
permanent ; those of this character who assu- 
med the profession of religion have been ena- 
bled to persevere ; but in other instances the ex- 
citement has too often been transient as ' the 
morning cloud and the early dew ;' the latter 
class, lite those in the parable of the sower, I 
have frequently seen receive the Word with joy, 
but not having root in themselves, endui*ed for 
a while, and afterward returned to the world. 
From these facts, founded on long observation, 
I have been particularly impressed with the im- 
portance of early instruction." 

The volume alluded to in the last extract from 
the diary is designed, ^s the author states in the 
preface, " to explain and enforce those means by 
which the salvation of God is ordinarily com- 
menced, and carried on, and completed in the 
souls of his favoured children," and, like most of 
the volumes which preceded it, it is dedicated 
*' to the inhabitants of the frontier settlements." 
It was pubhshed in the autumn of 1813. 

Two years afterward, Dr. Proudfit was indu- 
ced to prepare a new and uniform edition of his 
writings. It was published during the year 1815, 
in four volumes ; and when it is remembered that 
he was then but in the twentieth year of his min- 


istry ; how faithfully he performed the manifold 
duties of a large country parish, and how often 
he was absent from home on those missionary 
tours to the new settlements in which he so 
greatly delighted, it may emphatically be said 
that these volumes constitute a noble monument 
to his diligence and devotedness as a servant of 
Christ. The work of republication, like all his 
other works, was begun and continued in prayer, 
as the following extracts from the diary show : 

" January I4t}u 1815. Resolved to spend this 
forenoon in the duties of fasting, humiliation, and 

" 1st. In lamenting that, although my oppor- 
tunities have been so great, I have done so little 
for my God or his Church. 

" 2d. In imploring the Divine blessing on my 
ministry, and particularly on that new edition of 
my works which is now in the press. 

" 3d. In committing to the Lord's manage- 
ment a very awful and perplexing occurrence 
which has lately taken place in the congrega- 

''Saturday evening, May ISth, 1815. This 
afternoon the printer has finished the new edi- 
tion of my works, in four volumes. I desire, 
therefore, to employ one hour, 

" In setting up once more my ebenezer, and 
adoring the Divine sovereignty in comtnwt- 


ting the treasure of his gospel to earthen ves- 
sels, and particularly to admire and adore his 
condescension in honouring me who am the 
least and most unworthy, either to speak or 
write in his name. — Eph., iii., 8. I now commit 
these discourses to the sovereign, absolute dis- 
posal of the great Head of the Church ; may he 
send them wherever they may be most instru- 
mental in promoting the honour of his name 
whose I am, and the salvation of souls to which 
I desire to be devoted. — Ps. clxiii., 69. Luke, 
xii., 6, 7. Thou, Spirit of life and of power, ac- 
cept this humble attempt for diffusing the savor 
of the name of Jesus ; all that is wanting in 
them, graciously supply, and whatever has been 
sinful as to the motive or execution, graciously 
forgive. If I, who am the least of thy servants, 
have acted presumptuously in undertaking to 
write on these mysteries, which are beyond the 
comprehension of angels, thou art gracious to 
pardon this presumption ; if I have sought my 
own glory rather than the glory of Jesus, in the 
riches of thy grace forgive this self-seeking, al- 
though a very aggravated impiety ; if I have 
failed in this attempt to illustrate these interest- 
ing doctrines, thou canst make foolish things to 
confound the wise ; if I am chargeable with weak- 
ness in unfolding and applying these truths to the 
understanding and the heart, thou canst make 


weak things to confound the mighty, that God 
in all things may be glorified through Jesus 
Christ, to whom be honour and dominion forev- 
er. Amen." 

To this republication of his works it is prob- 
able that Dr. Proudfit was led in consequence of 
an earnest letter upon the subject from his ven- 
erable friend and theological instructor, the late 
Dr. Livingston, who thus wrote to him in 1813 : 

" With great satisfaction I have read the vol- 
ume of sermons which, in the preface you inform 
us, were published chiefly for the benefit of the in- 
habitants upon our frontiers, whom you repeat- 
edly visited and found destitute of gospel ordi- 
nances. It is a work excellently calculated to 
instruct the ignorant in the principles of our holy 
religion, and has been, no doubt, of eminent ser- 
vice to the people for whom, in the first instance, 
it was intended ; but it deserves a wider circu- 
lation, and as the book has become scarce, per- 
mit me to suggest the propriety of a new edi- 
tion. I observe you have selected some of the 
principal doctrines of the gospel, and am happy 
to find that you have treated each of them with 
suflicient perspicuity, and applied them with zeal 
and faithfulness. It would have been improper 
in popular discourses to descend to minute ex- 
planations, or bring forward the whole class of 
arguments in support of each dogma ; and it 


would mar the work to enter into controversies, 
and distract the common reader with a critical 
examination of terms which he could scarcely 
compi'chend, or with laboured answers to objec- 
tions, by none of which, perhaps, he had ever 
been disturbed. A correct statement of the 
truth, supported by the decided and unequivo- 
cal authority of the sacred Scriptures, and ex- 
pressed in a plain and familiar style, is most eli- 
gible, and certainly best adapted to inform the 
uninstructed, direct convinced sinners, and edify 
believers. This plan I see you have adopted, 
and I do not hesitate to express my cordial ap- 
probation of the volume, with a wish that simi- 
lar discourses were more numerous, and dissem- 
inated throughout the land. My affection for 
you, which has increased from your early youth, 
and my expectation that your sermons will be 
favourably received, and prove extensively ben- 
eficial, prompt me to mention the subject of a 
new edition, and, I am sure, will supersede the 
necessity of any apology. The Divine Redeem- 
er, our precious Lord and Master, make his grace 
to be sufficient for you, enlarge your sphere of 
usefulness, and give you much joy and peace in 
believing ! I bless you, and am most respectful- 
ly, dear sir, yours, &c. 

"J. H. Livingston." 


Many and pleasing were the testimonials 
which Dr. Proudfit received to the blessed re- 
sults of his writings, not only among those for 
whom they were specially intended, but in many 
other parts of the land. The Rev. Dr. Church, 
of Pelham, New-Hampshire, thus writes to him ' 
in 1817: "I trust you will excuse the freedom of 
an unknown and unworthy brother in address- 
ing you a few lines. More than a year ago, the 
Rev. Mr. Haynes, of Rutland, Vermont, pre- 
sented me with a volume of your sermons on the 
Doctrines of the Gospel. With these sermons I 
was highly gratified. They exhibit the doc- 
trines of our blessed religion in that view which 
I think correspondent with the teachings of the 
Holy Spirit. Within a short time I have been 
so highly favoured as to procure the four vol- 
umes of your work. It will be saying but a part 
of what I feel, to say that I esteem them a very 
precious treasure. I am now reading the first 
volume with great delight, and, I trust, spiritual 
improvement. I am highly delighted with the 
view which you give of appropriating faith. 
Owing to my situation and connexions, and the 
workings of a legal spirit, I was for some time 
much in the dark respecting this vastly impor- 
tant subject ; but I could not find peace and 
satisfaction until I had been taught, as I hope, 
to come to Christ as lost and undone, helpless 
11 2 


and vile, and receive him as mij Saviour, a Sav- 
iour provided and given to me in the Gospel. 
I now find it much more easy and delightful 
preaching the Gospel, to address my fellow-sin- 
ners as dead in sin and under the curse, and 
calling upon them to look to Christ — to come to 
him, guilty and wretched as they are, and re- 
ceive him as God's unspeakable gift to them; 
and I have reason to believe that more of the 
Divine blessing attends my poor labours in the 
vineyard." To this may be added a letter from 
the late Rev. John Brown, of Whitburn, Scot- 
land, eldest son of the eminent Mr. Brown of 
Haddington ; it is dated 

" Edinburgh, January 1st, 1818. 
"Rev. and dear Brother, 
" Your kind and unexpected gift of your ser- 
mons was received last year. The warm and 
lively way in which you express Divine truth 
pleases me much, but especially the able exhibi- 
tion of Gospel grace ; they are such sermons as 
are peculiarly savory to me, and to my broth- 
er Ebenezer,* and to my sons in the ministry, 
and to all who have seen them and have the 
true relish. I have long been an admirer of 
what we in Scotland call Marrow doctrine, as 
you well know in allusion to the Marrow of Mod- 
ern Divinity ; and your sermons, being fully on 

* The late Rev. Ebenezer Brown, of Inverkeithing. 


this plan, are most delightful to us. My worthy 
friend, the Rev. Mr. Forrest (of Stamford, Del- 
av^^are county), made me acquainted with your 
character, and sent me some single sermons. I 
had brought the sermon on ' The Female La- 
bourer' to be printed in Edinburgh, but it was 
unhappily lost : there are many eminently use- 
ful ladies in Edinburgh and Leith, and I hope 
we will get this done again.* Last week a 
worthy friend, a bookseller, Mr. John Thomp- 
son, wrote me that he had got one of your vol- 
umes, and that he had a wish to publish the four 
volumes in two ; he belongs to a company who 
are ready to introduce every evangelical book 
into a large circulation both here and in Lon- 
don. Under the favour of Providence, another, 
a third edition of Hervey's Life, will soon be put 
to press ; I shall send you a copy when publish- 
ed. All grace attend you and family, and all 
success in your labours in the pulpit and the 
press. Most cordially yours, 

" J. Brown." 

To this letter Dr. Proudfit sent the following 
reply, dated 

" Salem, 26th March, 1818. 
"My very dear Brother, 
" I was refreshed last week by the receipt of 

* A few months after the date of this letter, this sermon was 
republished in Edinburgh, for the benefit of the Leith Female So- 
ciety for the Relief of Aged and Indigent Women, 


your letter, dated 1st January, 1818, and feel 
constrained to apologize for neglecting to an- 
swer your communication of 1817, sent with a 
valuable collection of tracts. The same pres- 
ent would have been thankfully received from 
any person, but its value was much enhanced 
as coming from the hands of a descendant of 
one whose memory is dear to me, and whose 
memory will be embalmed by his writings from 
generation to generation. The works of your 
venerable father are common with us in this re- 
gion, and are highly esteemed by those who rel- 
ish the truth as it is in Jesus. I consider it my 
own honour and happiness to be descended from 
one who may justly be ranked among the fa- " 
thers of the American churches. He left his 
kindred and native country in the meridian of 
life, to preach in this Western world the Gospel 
of the grace of God. The act of the Presbytery- 
appointing him to the American churches is now 
before me, dated Muckart, July 2d, 1754. The 
ministers present were. Rev. William Moncrief, 
Alexander Moncrief, after whom I have the hon- 
our of being named, Thomas Mair, George 
Brown, William Mair, John Muckersie, and A. 
Blythe. Mr. Brown delivered the ordination 
sermon from Gal., ii., 15, 16. I have been thus 
minute, supposing it would be some gratifica- 
tion to you to hear of a transaction which took 

REV. Dll. TROUDFIT. 165 

place in your own country nearly seventy years 
ago. After a life of laborious and disinterested 
services during almost fifty years, he fell asleep 
in Jesus, October 22d, 1802. I have no doubt 
his prayers have descended in showers of bless- 
ings, both temporal and spiritual, upon me and 
mine. ' But our fathers, where are they V Yet 
how consoling is the reflection, that although 
they die, Jesus Jehovah still lives — lives as the 
Head over all things to his Church — lives as the 
light and life, the joy, and portion, and glory of 
all who confide in his fulness and faithfulness. 

" I was particularly refreshed in hearing that 
my sermons have proved so very acceptable to 
yourself and other friends of religion in that 
quarter of the world. I cannot express my ob- 
ligations of gratitude to that infinitely conde- 
scending Jesus who aided me in preparing them 
for the press, and who has rendered them an 
acceptable offering to his dear people. It is all 
of grace — of free, sovereign, exceedingly abound- 
ing grace, that to me, who am less than the least 
of all saints, is given the honour of publishing 
from the pulpit or the press the unsearchable 
riches of Christ. It was very gratifying to learn 
from, your letter the design of reprinting the four 
volumes in Scotland. I received a communi- 
cation from Mr.. Thompson on that subject, and 
have complied with his request in forwarding 


some discourses not included in tlie former edi- 
tion. The volumes have had an extensive cir- 
culation in this country, and it would be particu- 
larly gratifying to have them now circulated in 
the land of my fathers ; a land distinguished 
above all others for the long reign of that king- 
dom which is righteousness and peace, and from 
which, as from a centre, the Gospel is now shed- 
ding its radiance upon different and distant na- 
tions. I have often intended crossing the ocean, 
on purpose to become acquainted with my dear 
fellow-labourers in Scotland, England, and Ire- 
land, but various avocations have hitherto hin- 
dered the execution of this design. The present 
world I wish to consider as the place of exer- 
tion, and not of ease or enjoyment ; and if we 
only occupy with fidelity our talents in the re- 
spective sections of the Church to which our 
Master has assigned us, we shall soon meet in 
the world where there is neither separation, nor 
sin, nor sorrow; meet with the redeemed, not of 
a single country or age, but of all countries and 
all ages. There rur fellowship will be infinite- 
ly more pure, and our pleasures more elevated 
than in the present imperfect state. Remember 
me to the dear fellow-labourers in that part of 
the vineyard whom I have never seen, and prob- 
ably never will see in the flesh. Although ab- 
sent in body, let us hereafter, as present in spirit, 


remember each other at the throne of our com- 
mon Father. That mercy, grace, and peace 
from the fountain of blessmg may be multipHed 
upon you and yours, is the prayer of your broth- 
er in the faith of Jesus, and co-worker in the ser- 
vice of his Gospel, 

"A. Proudfit." 
"Rev. John Brown, Whitburn, Scotland." 

The feehngs awakened in Dr. Proudfit's mind 
by these various testimonials to the usefulness 
of his writings are thus expressed in his diary, 
under date of 

" March, 1 9th, 1818. This morning set apart 
one hour for thanksgiving, prayer, and praise : 

" 1st. For all those blessings, both common 
and special, which crown my condition in the 
various relations of life. Bless the Lord, O my 
soul, and forget not all his benefits. With thee. 
Eternal God, is the fountain of life, light, joy, of 
every blessing, temporal or spiritual, in time and 
in eternity. 

"2d. Especially I desire to bless the Lord 
this morning for that degree of approbation 
with which my sermons have been received by 
the friends of truth in our own country, and also 
in foreign countries, as expressed by letters re- 
cently received from various parts of New-Eng- 
land, and yesterday from Edinburgh, Scotland. 

" Oh, what a monument of Divine goodness, 


and forbearance, and condescension I am ! and 
what a display of sovereign grace it is, that the 
treasure should at all be communicated to earth- 
en vessels, and particularly that it should be im- 
parted to me, who am truly more insignificant 
and undeserving than any other ! I might have 
been a vessel of wrath in both worlds, despised 
in this, and lost in the next ; but instead of this, 
I am, I trust, a chosen vessel to bear the Sav- 
iour's name to perishing sinners ! What shall I 
render to the Lord for all his benefits ? I would 
this morning make a new surrender of my all to 
the Redeemer and his serv^icc. I desire from this 
time to love him supremely, walk with him more 
intimately, and live for him more exclusively. 
Now, thou precious Lord Jesus, who hast shown 
infinite condescension in calling me to the min- 
istry, and supporting me so far in the important 
trust, accept of me as thine own, qualify me 
more abundantly with the gifts of wisdom and 
zeal for thy holy service, give efficacy to my 
imperfect writings wherever they have been cir- 
culated or may be circulated, and make them 
subservient for advancing the honour of thy 
name and the edification of thy Church." 

The extracts from the diary already given 
show what was Dr. Proudfit's manner of life at 
home ; we shall now give some passages illus- 
trative of the frame of mind which he aimed to 


maintain when called to go abroad. In the 
bosom of his own family, the retirement of 
his study, and on his frequent journeyings, he 
endeavoured to walk with God. Wherever he 
was, he kept up the habit of prayer and medi- 
tation ; no one could be in his company, in any 
place, at home or abroad, without soon learn- 
ing that he was a minister of the Lord Jesus. 

'^ Alhaiiy, April 4:th, 1818. Am unexpected- 
ly called to spend the Sabbath in this city, and 
assist Mr. S , who is indisposed, in dispen- 
sing the memorial of the dying love of Jesus ; 
have found consolation from that gracious as- 
surance of my Master, ' Lo ! I am with you 
even unto the end of the world.' Oh my soul, 
how animating is the consideration that I serve 
an ever-present, ever-living, and ever-loving 
Master; one whose eyes are always upon the 
righteous ; one who, at home or abroad, in the 
week or on the Sabbath, will be found of them 
that seek him ! I desire, therefore, to set apart 
one hour for devout meditation and prayer, for 
solemnly returning to him as my portion and 
glory. I often experience that, by much conver- 
sation with men, more especially with the men 
of the world, my heart becomes insensibly es- 
tranged from the living God. I find it more 
profitable to be frequently alone, retired both 
from the persons and pursuits of this world, and 


to commune more intimately with the Father of 
Spirits, from whom I derived my all, and to 
whom I owe my all ; whose favour is life, and 
the assurance of whose love is more refreshing, a 
thousand fold, than all created enjoyments. Re- 
turn to him as thy rest this morning, my soul, 
and aim at conversing more frequently and fa- 
miliarly with him. The Lord is the strength 
of my heart, and my portion forever. To his 
fatherly protection I now commit my dear fam- 
ily, who are scattered, some of them upon the 
land, and others on the waters. Although remote 
from me, they are nigh to him who is the con- 
fidence of all the ends of the earth, and of those 
who are afar off upon the sea. There is not a 
part of his dominions where his eye is not pres- 
ent, seeing all who rest on his love ; he can ac- 
complish his will without my weak instrumen- 
tality, and in this consideration my heart rejoi- 

" September 5th, 1818. Sharon, Connecticut. 
Reached this place last evening, and lodged in 

the family of Mr. S ; there met with Mr. 

L , a dear friend in Christ Jesus ; found all 

the connexions singularly hospitable and kind, 
and enjoyed much pleasant conversation. Hav- 
ing parted with them in the morning, began to 
reflect that perhaps we might never meet again 
on earth, and felt pungent sorrow that our con- 


versation had not been more practical and exper- 
imental. Oh, how much precious time is lost in 
our occasional interviews by the indulgence of 
discourse which is not profitable for the use of 
edifying ! How much might be done for provo- 
king one another to love and good works, for 
cherishing the gifts and graces of each other, 
was our conversation more uniformly seasoned 
with salt ! How instrumental might we thus 
become in stimulating each other when slothful, 
in animating each other when desponding, in 
strengthening each other when weak, and in rous- 
ing each other to greater vigilance when ready 
to slumber and sleep. Then our intercourse on 
earth would be a lively semblance, a delightful 
foretaste of that intimate and uninterrupted fel- 
lowship which maybe expected in our Father's 

" Cornwall^ Connecticut^ Septemher Qth, 1818. 
Sabbath afternoon. Met last evening and this 
morning with the young heathen who are col- 
lected here from various parts of the world to 
receive a religious education, and found much 
comfort and enlargement in addressing them. 
In looking at them and conversing with them, 
felt an unutterable longing over them in the 
bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a solici- 
tude to become instrumental in their conver- 
sion. Saw three of them publicly renounce the 


idolatry of their native countries, and assisted 
in initiating them into the Christian Church by 
the ordinance of baptism ; afterward sat down 
and participated with them in receiving the 
symbols of that crucified Jesus whom all na- 
tions shall call blessed ; felt much impressed 
at the scene, and viewed it as a partial accom- 
plishment of the promise that * Ethiopia shall 
stretch out her hands unto God,' and the sons of 
Messiah, by adopting grace, shall come from far. 
Oh ! had I the wings of an angel, and his elo- 
quence, how rapturously would I fly from re- 
gion to region, and proclaim to benighted man 
the unsearchable riches of Christ ; announcing 
those tidings of great joy which are designed 
for all people, that unto them a Saviour is born, 
even Christ the Lord ! 

" Goshen, Connecticut, September ISth, 1818. 
Sabbath evening. Preached through the day in 
the church usually occupied by the Rev. Mr. 

H y, and in the evening held a meeting for 

social prayer and conference ; found a number 
of the assembly, both male and female, much ex- 
ercised to godliness, and enjoyed much comfort 
in their society. In the evening met with a short 

narrative of the life of the Rev. Mr. H , who 

had preceded Mr. H y as pastor of that 

church, and felt both edified and animated in 
reading the account of his abundant labours and 


triumphant death. From the mcrease of bodily 
infirmities, especially by the increasing weak- 
ness in my breast, feel admonished of my ap- 
proaching dissolution, and that my great busi- 
ness is now to prepare for death ; was deeply 
impressed with the necessity of setting my heart 
and house in order, and standing in constant 
readiness for my departure from this world and 
all its concerns. In taking farewell of the pre- 
cious followers of Jesus in Goshen, was con- 
strained to adore my Master that he is afford- 
ing me these opportunities of enlarging my ac- 
quaintance with the spiritual family, and meet- 
ing with those on earth with whom I wish to 
spend an eternity in heaven." 

In the private record of this part of Dr. Proud- 
fit's life there are repeated references to a very 
heavy affliction. No intimation is given as to 
its nature ; but it was the occasion of his setting 
apart many seasons for humiliation before God, 
and prayer for deliverance. His feelings under 
the dispensation are thus expressed under date of 

^^June 30th, 1 820. I desire to acknowledge be- 
fore God, and to confess that sin which is the pro- 
curing cause of all my troubles ; particularly, 1. 
I desire to confess my pride, my self-confidence, 
my self-sufficiency, my earthly-mindedness, my 
dependance on the creature more than the Cre- 
ator. The Lord is just in all the judgments 
P 2 


which he is inflicting on me ; yea, he is punish- 
ing me infinitely less than my iniquities deserve. 
Oh, thou Holy One of Israel, my soul this morn- 
ing bows before thee with humiliating thoughts 
of its own vileness on account of sin ! * If thou, 
Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, I could not stand/ 
'O Lord, to me belongeth confusion of face,' 
because I have sinned against thee. 

" 2. I desire to commit the matter, with all its 
circumstances, to the management of my God 
and Father in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows 
what is most for his own glory — what issue in 
this visitation will be most conducive to the ed- 
ification of his Church, and to my own spiritual 
interests and rejoicing through eternity, there- 
fore I desire implicitly to commit it to his most 
holy, wise and merciful management. Ps., Ivii., 
2 ; 1., 15. I am ignorant of my own true inter- 
ests, and therefore, in submission to a sovereign 
God, I would say, ' Not my will, but thine be 

" 3. That the Lord would lead me to a suitable 
frame under this dispensation, and that it may 
be rendered subservient to my humility, my 
self-denial, and future usefulness in his Church.'' 

The issue of this trial is thus described in a 
subsequent part of the diary. " This dispensa- 
tion, which like a cloud had been hanging over 
us for some months, portentous and awful, 


threatening to burst forth to our destruction, was 
suddenly, and in a manner almost miraculous, 
dissipated, to the astonishment of all, tending 
much to the confirmation of the faith of God's 
children. It is the Lord's doing, and is wondrous 
in our eyes. Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to 
forgive. They that know thy name will put their 
trust in thee. This season of affliction was speed- 
ily followed by a season of refreshing from the 
presence of the Lord ; the word preached was 
accompanied with unusual power in the conver- 
sion of sinners, especially of youth ; and at our 
sacrament in March, among others, six young 
men united with the Church who afterward en- 
tered the ministry. This fact I wrote down for 
my own encouragement in future trials. ' Weep- 
ing may endure for a night, but joy cometh in 
the morning.'" 

Amid his personal trials, as might be inferred 
from the views thus expressed, he was not un- 
mindful of the interests of religion. The diary 
of these years contains repeated records of 
agreement with members of his own congrega- 
tion, and with brethren of other denominations, to 
set apart special seasons of prayer for the abun- 
dant outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Neither 
was he unmindful of those individual members 
of his flock who stood in need of his pastoral 
counsels and prayers, as the following passage 
from the diary will show : 

176 MEMOIR or THE 

" April 20th. Set apart one hour this morn- 
ing in special prayer for a young man in whom 
I feel particularly interested, and who is in dan- 
ger of being seduced from the paths of virtue. 

"1. As he is the son of pious parents, I would 
plead the gracious promises, Deut., xxx., 6. Isa., 
xHv., 3; lix., 21. 

" 2. I would desire to look to the Lord by 
earnest prayer, that he would direct me how to 
deal with him, by cautions and exhortations. 

" 3. That he would display his infinite power 
and condescension in giving efficacy to any 
means which I employ for reclaiming him. No- 
thing is too hard for Omnipotence to effect, and 
nothing is too great for unbounded goodness to 
communicate. He who reclaimed a Manasseh, 
a Saul, a thief on the cross, a Gardiner, and a 
Newton, can with infinite ease reclaim him. 

''April 22d, 1820. Set apart one hour to 
present before the Lord, by suppHcation, the ob- 
jects mentioned in the morning of Saturday; 
and also that the God of all comfort would give 
light and joy to a female member of the congre- 
gation who has been long in spiritual darkness." 

The young man referred to in the first of these 
extracts was afterward reclaimed, and became 
a hopeful monument of the grace of God. 

A zeal for the propagation of the Gospel at 
home and abroad, like that of Dr. Proudfit, 


could not exist without a corresponding zeal for 
the increase of faithful and devoted labourers in 
the Gospel. This was manifested by him, in a 
greater or less degree, during the whole of his 
ministry, and in various ways ; few pastors have 
had the happiness to see so many of the youth 
of their churches devoting themselves to the 
work of the ministry, and few have aided so 
large a number to obtain an education with a 
view to that office. During his ministry, the 
church of Salem sent forth from her youthful 
membership between thirty and forty preach- 
ers of the Gospel, the greater part of whom 
were baptized by Dr. Proudfit. 

It was, perhaps, owing to this circumstance 
that, about the year 1819, the plan was formed 
of establishing a Theological Seminary at Salem, 
in connexion with the Washington County Acad- 
emy, and to be under the care of Dr. Proudfit. 
From the diary of that period, it would appear 
that the promise of considerable funds had been 
obtained, and all the preliminary arrangements 
made. Thus, under date of 

^^ July I3th, 1819. This morning set apart 
one hour to lay before the Lord the plan of the 
Theological Seminary which is now resolved 
upon in this place. As this institution is design- 
ed to furnish labourers for the spiritual harvest, 
and more particularly for the frontier settlements, 
I desire to take encouragement. Again, 


''July 18th, 1819. Agreed to set apart one 
hour with some Christian friends this evening, 
to lay before the Great Head of the Church the 
Theological Seminary which is to be establish- 
ed in this place." 

This project, however, was never carried into 
effect, in consequence of the election of Dr. 
Proudfit by the General Synod, in 1820, as an 
associate of Dr. Mason in the conduct of the 
Seminary at New- York. Had this arrangement 
been made at the commencement of that insti- 
tution — as some of the leading and most judi- 
cious members of the Church in New- York wish- 
ed — the result would, humanly speaking, have 
been most happy. But, unfortunately. Dr. Ma- 
son had a different scheme of his own, which, 
though never realized, effectually interfered with 
the proposed removal of Dr. Proudfit to New- 
York. Had these two early friends been asso- 
ciated in the conduct of the Seminary from its 
beginning, there are strong reasons for believ- 
ing that the whole complexion of its history 
would have been changed. 

Splendid as were the talents and attainments 
of Dr. Mason, and admirably fitted as he was, 
on many accounts, for the work of theological 
instruction, there were some qualifications which 
he did not possess ; and, among all the ministers 
of the Church at the time of the organization of 


the Seminary, none was better entitled to be as- 
sociated with him than Dr. Proudfit. He had 
enjoyed the best educational advantages which 
the country then afforded. During his early years 
he was a close student, and in all that belonged 
to the important branch of pastoral theology 
he was admirably fitted to give instruction to 
candidates for the ministry. This was the very 
department in which the New- York Seminary 
was always and greatly deficient. In saying 
this, we of course do not mean in the least to 
detract from the high reputation of Dr. Mason 
as a theological instructor ; on the contrary, 
we believe that the system of study formed by 
him, and carried out in the old Seminary at New- 
York, so far as circumstances would permit, is 
decidedly superior to that of any other similar in- 
stitution in our country. As a teacher in the 
two important departments of Biblical exposition 
and systematic divinity. Dr. Mason was unsur- 
passed, if he was not unrivalled ; but no man 
can excel in everything. And we are therefore 
thoroughly convinced that, if these brethren 
had been associated, while yet " the dew of their 
youth" was upon them, in the work of theo- 
logical instruction, the character of both would 
have been rendered, by their mutual influence, 
more complete, the Seminary would have been 
placed upon a permanent basis, and the interests 


of the Church at large would have been greatly 

But in the wise and holy ordering of Divine 
Providence, it was not so to be. The result 
was not, indeed, an absolute suspension of that 
affectionate friendship which breathes in the 
early letters of Dr. Mason, but there was not 
the cordiality which had formerly existed.* 
Dr. Proudfit exerted himself to procure funds 
for the Seminary; but for a number of years it 
does not appear to have had his full confidence, 
and he certainly did not manifest that active in- 
terest in it which might have been expected 
from him, considering the warmth of his zeal for 
all institutions whose object was the spread of 
the Gospel. His reasons for this course had 
been removed before his election in 1819; but 
by this time the Seminary itself was in a dying 
condition ; and while Dr. Proudfit evidently be- 
lieved himself to be called, in the providence of 
God, to enter upon the duties of the professor- 
ship, the propriety of his acceptance of the ap- 
pointment was doubted by some of his old and 
warmest friends. Although chosen to be asso- 

* We mention this circumstance, because we think it is the of- 
fice of biography to paint human life, not as it should be, but as it 
is ; to give its shades as well as lights. In the present world, im- 
perfection attaches even to sanctified friendship ; and the instances 
are comparatively few in which the attachments of youth con- 
tinue unabated even to old age. 


date professor with Dr. Mason, he had every 
reason to expect, from the state of Dr. Mason's 
health, that the whole burden of carrying on 
the work of instruction would devolve upon 
himself. The election took place in June, the 
session commenced in November, so that he had 
but little time to prepare for the arduous task ; 
then he was away from the cheering influences 
of his family and congregation, and the very 
abundance of his past labours, his active inter- 
est in every benevolent institution, could hardly 
"have failed to exert such an influence upon his 
habits of study as to unfit him, at his time of 
life, for such a theological chair as that which 
he had been called to fill. The result showed 
that it was in quite a different department, though 
an equally honourable one, that his Divine Mas- 
ter intended to employ him. His connexion 
with the Seminary continued but for one session, 
during which time he was sorely tried by bod- 
ily sickness, and by unkind treatment from some 
whom he had greatly aided in their preparation 
for the ministry, and from others of whom bet- 
ter things might have been expected. He re- 
fers to these things in his diary : 

''Salem, May 9th, 1821. The Lord has been 
trying me, for months past, with a variety of hu- 
miliating providences ; with afl^liction in body ; 
reproach from some of my brethren, who have 



attempted to lessen my influence in the Church ; 
with gross ingratitude from some students whom 
I have assisted both by advice and property ; and 
with embarrassment in my pecuniary affairs ; and 
therefore I set apart one hour this morning for 
special prayer and meditation ; and, 

" 1st. I desire to consider all these trials as 
coming from God, whatever may be the instru- 
mentality of man in bringing them on, and I 
would therefore, by humiliation and repentance, 
' turn to the hand that smiteth.' 

" 2d. I acknowledge that the Lord is just in 
sending them, and that they are infinitely less than 
I deserve. I believe that he is not only just^ but 
gracious, in visiting me with these trials. Many 
smiles of his providence I have enjoyed, and I 
believe that these afflictions are sent to wean 
me from the world, and I trust they have been 
sanctified for that purpose. The things of time 
never appeared so insipid, yea, so loathsome and 
abominable, as under this series of aflJlictions. 
I desire to commit them all to my God in cov- 
enant, to be overruled for his glory and my 
greater usefulness in his Church. Oh, how great 
is his condescension in the invitation, * Cast thy 
burden upon the Lord !' What a worm of the 
dust — what a vile, ungrateful, hell-deserving sin- 
ner I have been ! and yet the • High and Lofty 
One that inhabiteth eternity' is saying to me, 


* Cast thy burden on me ; I will sustain thee.' 
I read over the account of a few loaves and 
fishes feeding such a multitude, related in Matt., 
xiv., 16-21, and then inferred with what ease 
he can supply all my wants. Also read Matt., 
chapters viii. and xiv., the difficulties in which 
the disciples were involved, how seasonably the 
compassionate Saviour interposed, disappointing 
their fears, and rendering the dispensation sub- 
servient to the confirmation of their faith. 

" May lOth. Spent one hour in laying before 
the Lord the same subjects as yesterday morn- 

While the sources of his trials are thus briefly 
mentioned, there is no evidence of the existence 
of unkind feelings, on his part, towards the au- 
thors of them ; on the contrary, he seems to have 
laboured, at least, to enter into the spirit of the 
words, " they are the sword, the hand is thine." 

It may be added that Dr. Proudfit himself ap- 
pears to have been brought to the conclusion 
before stated, that his destined field of labour 
was to be, as it had been for so many years, in 
the sphere of active exertion rather than the 
more retired sphere of theological instruction ; 
and, accordingly, the scheme of erecting a Sem- 
inary at Salem, which had been so far matured 
as to be on the eve of being carried into eflfect, 
was abandoned ; there is, at least, no more ref- 


erence to it in the diary. The ensuing sum- 
mer of 1821 was one of very severe affliction ; 
his health was greatly shattered, and serious ap- 
prehensions were felt that his day of labour 
was drawing to a close. His recovery was 
slow ; for many months he was unable for the 
discharge of any of his pastoral duties ; but there 
can be no doubt that there was mercy in the 
dispensation. The Lord had much for him still 
to do ; in fact, some of the most important labours 
of his life were yet before him ; and we have 
reason to believe that this long season of bodily 
and mental suffering was appointed by his Di- 
vine Master as a means of preparing him for 
the work in which he was to be engaged during 
the latter years of his life. 

Occupied as Dr. Proudfit was with the cares 
of the Seminary during his residence in New- 
York, he was not unmindful of the claims of his 
people and of his family. Among the several 
pastoral letters which he addressed to the for- 
mer, and which were all read from the pulpit, 
the following well deserve a place in this record 
of his life, the one to the youth, and the other to 
the congregation at large. 

" New- York, November 22d, 1820. 

" To the youth of that congregation over 
which the Holy Ghost hath made me overseer, 
mercy and peace be multiplied. 


" My dear young friends, I have this day 
finished and forwarded a letter to the congre- 
gation at large, but he who hath given me the 
charge of souls, and to whom the account of my 
stewardship must shortly be rendered, hath par- 
ticularly enjoined, /eec? my lambs ; forget not the 
rising generation ; and although I acknowledge 
that 1 have not studied, nor prayed, nor preached, 
nor watched, nor fasted, nor visited from house 
to house, nor catechised from district to district, 
or through the town, as I might or ought to 
have done, for precious immortals committed to 
me, an insignificant under-shepherd, by the Great 
Shepherd and Bishop of souls, yet your own con- 
sciences will readily bear testimony that your 
eternal interests have not altogether been neg- 
lected on my part. Should one or two, or ten 
of you perish in your impenitence, you cannot, 
in that hour when God will judge you individ- 
ually, nor in that day when he shall judge the 
world, charge your damnation either to my in- 
dolence or unfaithfulness. Those addresses and 
sermons which have been published new-year 
after new-year, and directed immediately to the 
young, are a memorial before the throne of God 
and before the world, and in your own con- 
sciences, that I am pure from your blood ; that 
you have not gone down to hell without warn- 
ing of your danger and duty ; of your disease 
•Q 2 


as sinners, and of the sovereign, infallible virtue 
of that balm which grows upon the Hill of Cal- 
vary. Among your earliest recollections, you 
must remember that the truth has been sound- 
ing in your ears, sometimes in your father's 
house, and sometimes in the house of God, that, 
you are the children of wrath by nature ; that 
except you be born again, you cannot see the 
kingdom of God ; that there is a free and full 
salvation in Jesus Christ ; and that there is nei- 
ther pardon nor peace for a son or daughter of 
Adam in any other. 

"As I have been confined to my room this day 
by a slight bodily indisposition, I have thought 
much about you ; I have passed in imagination 
from family to family, noticing such a precious 
youth in whose eyes I have occasionally seen 
a penitential tear rising under the word of ex- 
hortation, and I have also observed, with heavi- 
ness of heart, such a youth on whom the voice 
either of terror or entreaty made no impression. 

" I have this day prayed frequently, and some- 
times with a degree of enlargement, that the 
eyes of your understanding might be opened to 
discover your danger before it is too late ; that 
you might be driven by a holy necessity to es- 
cape the damnation of hell before you are wrap- 
ped irrecoverably in its flames. I have been 
looking upon you, my dear youth, with a measure 


of the same solicitude with which the compas- 
sionate Saviour looked on the inhabitants of Je- 
rusalem when he wept and exclaimed, ' If thou 
hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the 
things which belonged to thy peace.' 

" Having in my private room felt alternately 
these hopes and fears respecting your immor- 
tal destinies, I sit down to indulge my feelings 
by sending you this address. I ought to ac- 
knowledge that my heart has been encouraged 
not a little in the labours of the Gospel by your 
attention to the outward means ; you have com- 
mitted to memory catechisms, psalms, hymns, 
and chapters of the Bible ; but in my Master's 
name, I ask you, as it were, owe by one, the fol- 
lowing questions : ' Hast thou actually closed 
with the Lord Jesus Christ as thine own Sav- 
iour in particular? Hast thou sought and ob- 
tained peace to thy conscience by applying his 
sacrifice and righteousness ? Art thou depend- 
ing upon him from day to day as thy friend and 
portion, and the guide of thy youth V A gen- 
eral attention to the means of salvation, or a 
general persuasion of the truths of the Gospel, 
never yet brought a sinner to heaven ; it will 
never bring thee to heaven any more than look- 
ing at bread on the table will satisfy thy hunger, 
or at water in the fountain will quench thy thirst, 
or looking at medicine in the hands of the phy- 


sician will heal a disease upon thy body. It 
was the maxim of the Reformers, it is the max- 
im of every apostle and prophet of the Lamb, 
that an unapplied Saviour is no Saviour. His 
righteousness only adorns those who put it on ; 
his blood only reconciles those who apply it by 
a living faith : his grace sanctifies only those 
who are united to his person ; his promises are 
the charter of eternal life only of those who re- 
ceive them ; and, in the end, his salvation will 
be awarded as the portion only of those who 
are one with him, as the members are one with 
the head, or as the branches are one with the 

" Perhaps some of you are impressed with these 
infinitely important realities, but are secretly 
saying, ' I know not how I may attain to an in- 
terest in the Saviour, and thus make my calling 
and election sure.' Oh that I might indulge the 
hope, my beloved youth, that you are thus 
awake to a reflection upon your everlasting con- 
cerns. A deep discovery of your disease I 
would consider as the commencement of your 
cure — as the pangs of the second birth — as the 
struggling to enter the strait gate, which would 
infallibly issue in your .admission. To any of 
you who are eagerly asking * What shall I do to 
be saved V I would most affectionately give the 
following directions: Meditate much on the love 


of Christ ; try to believe on the testimony of 
his own Word, that he waits to be gracious ; 
that he has no pleasure in the sinner's death, but 
would that they turn from their wicked ways 
and live. Meditate much on his design in com- 
ing into the world and dying on the cross : it 
was to save sinners : had we not been sinners, 
Jesus had not come in the character of a Sav- 
iour ; and had he not delighted in the salvation 
of sinners, he would not have bled for their ran- 
som. He suffered for us, the just for the unjust, 
for this very purpose, that he might bring us to 
God. Meditate on the success of all who have 
applied to him for mercy. See the instance of 
the woman who had the issue of blood twelve 
years, and of the ruler of the synagogue, as re- 
lated in the 5th chapter of Mark. See the in- 
stance of him who had waited at the pool thirty- 
eight years, and of the woman of Canaan, re- 
corded in Matthew, xv., and in the 5th chapter 
of John. Meditate also on the following invi- 
tations of the divinely compassionate Saviour : 
Proverbs, viii., 32. Jeremiah, iii., 4. Matthew, 
xi., 28-30. Luke, xi., 13. Read in your Bi- 
bles all these instances in which he showed 
mercy to others, and believe that he is as mer- 
ciful now as when he sojourned in our world ; 
that he is as willing to glorify his grace in your 
salvation as in theirs. Would he permit his bless^ 


ed side to be opened, that he might open a fount- 
ain for sin and for uncleanness, and afterward 
reject you, when applying to his blood for par- 
don and purification? Does he not most sol- 
emnly assure you, ' him that cometh unto me I 
will in no wise cast out ;' and, my young friends, 
having gained an interest in the Lord Jesus 
Christ, you have nothing more to gain ; all things 
are yours — earth and heaven are yours — grace 
and glory are yours. He that believeth on the 
Son hath everlasting life ; but if, through your 
unbeHef and impenitence, you fail of an interest 
in him, all the curses written in the Bible are 
your fearful inheritance ; you will live under the 
curse, you will die under the curse ; your souls 
will go to the judgment-seat, and then to hell 
under the curse; your bodies will sink into the 
grave under the curse ; they will moulder in the 
grave, and rise from it under the curse ; and your 
souls and bodies, reunited at the resurrection, 
must continue to drink the cup of cursing while 
there is an avenging God to fill it up. I warn 
each of you committed to my charge — I warn 
you in the presence of God, and of Jesus, and 
of angels, that if you neglect this great salva- 
tion, you cannot escape ; after trampling on such 
love and long-suffering manifested by the Fa- 
ther, and Son, and Holy Ghost, you ought not 
to escape. After you have heard this warning 


from your absent pastor read in the church, re- 
tire to your houses with resohitions to unite that 
very afternoon with the Saviour of sinners as 
your own Saviour in particular. Let the even- 
ing be spent in the exercises of self-examination 
and self-dedication ; be entreated and urged by 
all the riches of Jehovah's mercy not to lie down 
upon your beds until you have made your peace 
with him, by an affectionate and particular ap- 
propriation of his dear Son as your righteous- 
ness and portion. That God who gave you be- 
ing, and sustains you in hfe every moment, com- 
mands each of you as with a voice from the 
third heavens, * to-day if ye will hear his voice, 
harden not your hearts ; remember now thy 
Creator in the days of thy youth ;' and if, in the 
face of all those admonitions, one of you will 
dare to postpone your repentance until to-mor- 
row, he may swear in his wrath that you shall 
not enter into his rest. The bed in your father's 
house on which you indolently recline this even- 
ing may be exchanged for the flames of hell 
before the light of the morning returns. Wilt 
thou not, therefore, from the time that this warn- 
ing is heard from the pulpit, be constantly cry- 
ing unto him, * my Father, thou art the guide of 
my youth.' Wilt thou not look by fervent pray- 
er for the accomplishment of his promises, ' « 
new heart will I give you, and a new spirit ^vill 


I put within you ; I will pour upon you the spirit 
of grace and supplication, and ye shall look upon 
me whom ye have pierced. As the sheet of pa- 
per is nearly filled up, and my strength almost 
exhausted, I must conclude, committing you to 
God and to the word of his grace, which is able 
to sanctify and present you faultless before the 
presence of his glory with everlasting joy. 
Cease not to pray for yourselves, and for your 
absent yet truly affectionate pastor in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, Alexander Proudfit." 

" New- York, November 22d, 1820. 

" To that flock over which the Holy Ghost 
hath made me overseer, grace and peace be 
multiplied from God our Father and the Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

" Brethren dearly beloved, this is the first 
Sabbath which has occurred since my departure 
from you, and I may freely assert that you are 
frequently in my thoughts both by night and 
by day. When the bell gave the signal this 
morning of the approach of the hour of public 
worship, my imagination bore me to our own 
peaceful sanctuary. I was led to recollect those 
frequent occasions when we had mingled sweet 
fellowship in the exercises of prayer and praise, 
of preaching and hearing the Word of Truth, 
the Gospel of your salvation, and in surrounding 


the table of our common Saviour to receive the 
symbols of his ov^^n body and blood. While sit- 
ting in the temple to-day in this city, my soul 
w^as occasionally ascending in ardent supplica- 
tions, that the Holy Ghost might descend on 
you and your dear offspring in his sanctifying 
and saving influences. I have no doubt that 
there are many of you to whom the Sabbath of 
Jehovah is a delight, and his tabernacle pre- 
cious. You can probably appeal to him from 
repeated experience, ' blessed are. they who 
dwell in thy house ;' ' a day in thy courts is bet- 
ter than a thousand ;' ' one thing have I desired 
of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I 
may dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to 
behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in 
his temple.' There your burdens have been re- 
moved, your doubts have vanished before the 
light of your Father's countenance, the shadows 
of night have been dispersed by the beams of 
the rising sun, your grievances have been re- 
dressed, your tears have been*dried up, your 
holy resolutions confirmed, your desires after 
the things of this passing world have been in 
some degree mortified, your longings for the full 
fruition of the heavenly state have been strength- 
ened, and from the duties of the temple you have 
frequently retired with new degrees of enlarge- 
ment to the devotions of the family and the 
13 R 


closet. This, with respect to many of you, has 
been, I trust, the repeated and blessed experience. 
See, my Christian friends, that for past enjoy- 
ments of this nature you give to God the undi- 
vided praise, and ask more liberally from his 
fullness in the time to come. ' He hath been 
mindful of you, and he will bless you still ;' be 
uniform and unwearied in your attendance upon 
the ordinances of his house ; be frequent and fer- 
vent in supplicating his blessing upon all these 
ordinances. How much more might we enjoy 
of God, of the light of his countenance, of the 
pledges of his love, of a foretaste of those end- 
less pleasures which are at his right hand, were 
we more importunate as we go to his sanctuary, 
expostulating in the language of David, ' oh send 
out thy light and thy truth;' or with Moses, 
* Lord, show me thy glory ; if thy presence go 
not up w^ith me, carry me not up hence.' We re- 
ceive not, because we ask not ; w^e receive little 
of the consolations of the covenant, because we 
ask little. No parent can possibly be so willing 
to impart to the wants of the most beloved child, 
as our Father in heaven is ready and cheerful 
at all times to supply the necessities of his spir- 
itual children. He waits to be gracious ; he is 
ever ready, by night or by day, in his own house 
or in your houses, * to do in you and fo7^ you 
exceeding abundantly, beyond what you can ask 


or think.' Ask, therefore, frequently and freely, 
and it shall be given you ; ' ask and receive, that 
your joy may be full.' 

"But, alas! what sorrow overv^^helms my 
soul when I express my fears — may I not add, 
when I express even my convictions — that there 
are some of you who yet remain strangers to 
these exercises. Do you not lie down in the 
evening without offering a tribute of gratitude to 
that God who supported you during the employ- 
ments and dangers of the day ; whose care pro- 
tected you amid the perils with which you were 
surrounded, and whose bounty supplied your va- 
rious wants? Do you not rise in the morning 
without lifting up your souls in thanksgiving to 
Him who preserved you through the night — who 
in his tender mercies permitted no evil to befall 
you, nor any plague to come nigh your dwell- 
ing ? Do you not repair to the church on the 
morning of the sacred Sabbath without reflect- 
ing on the purity and majesty of that God whose 
presence you approach, or without asking his 
blessing on yourselves, or your families or others ? 
And after the public services are finished, do you 
not return home as thoughtless of God and of 
your eternal destinies, as unconcerned about the 
necessity of pardon through the Saviour's sac- 
rifice, of being born of the Spirit, of setting your 
aflfections upon things above, as if no warning 


had been given ? Ye who are thus at ease in 
Zion, I have so often admonished you of your 
danger from the pulpit, that I am utterly at a 
loss what other arguments to adduce as a means 
of rousing you to a consideration of your ways. 
I have so frequently appealed to your fears by 
exhibiting the miseries of hell, and to your hopes 
by presenting the happiness of heaven, that I 
know not by what other motives to aim at alarm- 
ing, or impressing, or persuading you. But per- 
haps the very consideration that, although ab- 
sent from you in body, I am yet present with 
you in mind, longing over you in the bowels of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, travailing, as it were, in 
birth for your salvation, perhaps this consider- 
ation, through the Holy Ghost w^orking mightily 
upon your hearts, may prove the happy occa- 
sion of leading you to reflect on your ever- 
lasting concerns. Who knows but the spirit of 
life and of power may constrain the aged and 
the young who have long remained thoughtless 
to reason in tho following manner : Surely if 
one who is related merely as a pastor is thus 
anxious about my future interest, is it not un- 
reasonable that 1 should feel unconcerned ? My 
dear fellow-sinners and fellow-immortals, after 
this letter has been read in the public congrega- 
tion and you have returned to your respective 
residences, retire to your closets and solemnize 


your hearts in the presence of the Father of 
Spirits; devote a little time to self-examination; 
inquire whether you have undergone that change 
of heart without which neither you, nor a son, 
nor a daughter of Adam shall see the Lord in 
peace. Weep, weep bitterly over the indolence 
and impenitence of your past lives. It is no 
matter what you have done in your secular pur- 
suits, if you have forgotten God your Creator, 
and Jesus your Redeemer ; if you have not given 
him the supreme love of your hearts, and the 
obedience of your lives, you have lived in vain, 
you have been treasuring up wrath against the 
day of wrath. Whatever may have been the 
vanity of former months or years, resolve, from 
the hour that this admonition is received, that 
you will live for the Lord, and for your souls, 
and for eternity. Oh ! beloved brethren, I can- 
not cease to expostulate with you on these in- 
finitely important matters while the exercise of 
reason is left to me, or you remain prisoners of 
hope. Can I bear the thought that one of you, 
male or female, old or young, rich or poor, black 
or white, which was committed to me in trust 
by the Great Shepherd, should at last be doom- 
ed to devouring flames ? Shall all my entrea- 
ties with you in private and public — shall all my 
studies, my prayers, my anxieties, my watchings, 
my fastings for your salvation, during the lapse 
R 2 


of twenty-six years, prove only the occasion of 
aggravating your guilt in that hour when I must 
render an accountof my stewardship before men, 
and angels, and God ? Shall that Gospel which 
I have so often proclaimed to you in weakness, 
yet in purity and simplicity, which has become 
to millions the savour of life unto life, prove unto 
one of you the savour of death unto death? 
But I hope better things of you — even things 
which accompany salvation. Willingly I cher- 
ish the pleasing persuasion that some aged sin- 
ner, who has long been led captive by his own 
lusts, or some precious youth, will from this 
evening break their covenant with death and 
their agreement with hell, by repenting and turn- 
ing to the Lord. 

"* Finally, brethren, farewell ; be perfect, be of 
good comfort, live in peace, and the God of love 
and of peace shall be with you.' Receive this 
epistle as an assurance that, although separated 
from you in the providence of God, I am present 
with you in spirit ; receive it as an expression 
of my solicitude for your welfare, and my will- 
ingness, either by the mouth or the pen, to pro- 
mote it as opportunity offers. Should I be 
spared of the Lord to return to you at the ap- 
pointed time, it is not to be expected that I will 
find in the land of the livinGf all whom I ad- 
dressed at my departure. But into what fam- 


ily of my beloved flock the messenger of death 
will make his entrance — what father, or mother, 
or son, or daughter will be first added to his 
trophies, is unknown to me ; this is locked up 
among the impenetrable secrets of a sovereign 
God. * Watch, therefore, for ye know neither 
the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man 
cometh.' That grace may be with you all is 
and shall be the prayer of your servant, for Je- 
sus' sake, Alexander Proudfit." 

Among the numerous letters to the members 
of his family, written during Dr. P.'s residence 
in New-York, we select the follov;^ing to his el- 
dest son, then a student at Union College, now 
the Rev. Dr. John Proudfit, of Rutgers College. 
It is dated 

"New- York, March 4th, 1821. 
" My very dear Son, 

*'Mr. M. reached this city last evening, by 
whom I received your letter, and desire devout- 
ly to thank that God who has so far preserved 
you and the other branches of our beloved fam- 
ily during our long separation. Let us unite in 
adoring him for our protection in times past, and 
rely upon him, that in his abundant goodness he 
would afford us an opportunity of meeting each 
other in the land of the living. I notice from 
your letter that you feel solicitous about the pros- 


pect before you, when, if spared in life, you must 
enter the public theatre and act your part in the 
world. It is very proper that you should feel 
thus anxious, because in the choice of a profes- 
sion, and the manner in which you discharge the 
duties of that profession, your temporal comfort 
and your eternal welfare are very intimately in- 
volved. I know well how to sympathize with 
you. I experienced the same solicitude in my 
own turn before you. The same hopes and 
fears, joys and sorrows, which alternately agi- 
tate your bosom, agitated my own ; but, my dear 
son, how precious is the promise, ' I will be your 
God and the God of your seed ;' and he who has 
supported me to the period of nearly fifty years, 
amid ten thousand weaknesses ; who has kept me, 
in some measure, from the pollutions of the world ; 
who has followed me, worthless and insignificant 
as I am, with so many expressions of loving- 
kindness and tender mercy, is just as ready to 
bless you. He is the same loving, forbearing, 
sympathizing God, * yesterday, to-day, and for- 
ever ;' always infinitely able and willing to guide, 
and guard, and prosper, and comfort those who 
put their trust in him. The promise stands more 
immoveable than the everlasting hills, ' I will not 
turn away from you to do you good.' There is 
one passage which often gave me consolation 
within the walls of Columbia College when sep- 


arated far from earthly friends, and which I think 
was literally fulfilled, Gen., xxviii., 20-22. That 
and the following promises I would affectionately 
recommend to your meditation : Isa.,xli., 10 ; xlii., 
16 ; xliii., 2. Jer., xxxii., 39-41 ; iii., 4. My dear 
son, consider these promises as certain, being 
the sayings of him who cannot lie; they are 
yea and amen in our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
have been proved true, infallibly true and pre- 
cious, unutterably precious, by millions who are 
on earth and in heaven. It is very proper oc- 
casionally to set apart an hour for special pray- 
er, and meditation, and self-dedication, and cov- 
enanting with God, as the God of your fathers, 
and your own God in particular. He will be 
found of them who seek him ; he will guide by 
his counsel those who come to him for direction. 
While young Jabez prayed, ' O that thou wouldst 
bless me indeed, and let thine hand be with 
me to keep me from evil,' the Lord granted 
that which he requested. A gracious God is 
particularly pleased and honoured when any, 
but especially when young persons, come to him 
for direction. As to the profession which you 
may choose, I have nothing to say. The Lord 
as a sovereign fixes the bounds of our habita- 
tion, and he fixes as a sovereign the station 
which we are to occupy, and to this God I com- 
mend you, with my earnest prayers that he may 

202 MJiMUlil OF THE 

make the path of duty plain before you. Yet, 
if it was the Lord's pleasure, I would be highly 
gratified in seeing you make choice of the holy 
ministry, because there is no profession in which 
a godly man has an opportunity of doing so 
much for his Creator, for that Jesus who re- 
deemed us to God by his own blood, for the 
souls of perishing mortals, and for his own eter- 
nal crown. O how great the reward which is 
laid up in heaven for the faithful, self-denied 
servant of the cross ! ' They who turn many 
to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever 
and ever.' It was the profession of your ven- 
erable grandfather ; and after the service of his 
Master fifty years, it was his daily theme in his 
last illness, * goodness and mercy have followed 
me all the days of my life.' And as to my own 
pilgrimage, I can add my testimony to the pow- 
er of his grace, ' goodness and mercy have fol- 
lowed me : my crosses have issued in comforts ; 
the clouds which have often collected over my 
head have poured down their blessings ; the 
yoke of Jesus has been easy to me, and his bur- 
den light. You have seen some stars fall from 
the firmament of the Church which may tend 
to discourage, but have you not seen others 
shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect 
day ? And Jesus, the mighty God, is able to 
keep you from falling, and present you faultless 


before the presence of his glory with exceeding 
joy. That the God of all grace may protect, 
prosper, and comfort you with his rich consola- 
tion, is the prayer of your affectionate father, 

" A. P." 

The remarks on the choice of a profession in 
this charming epistle are worthy of the partic- 
ular attention of Christian parents. In the pres- 
ent day, it is to be feared that there are many 
such parents who would greatly prefer that 
their sons should enter upon some one of the 
paths of worldly emolument or honour, though 
they might not absolutely oppose their devoting 
themselves to Christ in the ministry of the Gos- 
pel. On the other hand, there may be those who 
are indulging an undue anxiety to see their sons 
invested with the sacred office. We have known 
cases in which parents, under the influence of 
this desire, have made the completion of the 
classical education of their children to hinge 
upon their determination to study for the min- 
istry, and this, too, before they had given any 
evidence of their being the subjects of the grace 
of God. This is no doubt well meant, but it is 
exceedingly ill judged, and may be productive 
of very mischievous results. It puts a youth 
in the worst possible position for solving the sol- 
emn question of his call to the ministry. He 


may want the grace of God ; or, though a new 
man in Christ Jesus, the real bent of his mind 
may be towards some other employment, and 
yet, while in this condition, he is required to 
choose between entrance into the ministry and 
the abandonment of a begun course of liberal 
education. And even if the young man be gui- 
ded in his decision by the Holy Spirit, he will 
still be in no small danger of being perplexed 
by doubts whether his decision to engage in the 
public service of Christ proceeds from respect 
and affection for his parents, or from his having 
heard the call of God. Even where parents 
have dedicated a child to God for this work from 
his infancy, and however intense may be their 
desires to see him in the pulpit, let them never 
forget that it is the prerogative of the Lord Je- 
sus to send whom he will, and that they have 
no right or reason to be disappointed if he is 
not pleased to call the child whom they had 
fondly given to him to be employed in the em- 
bassy of reconciliation. 

We shall conclude this chapter with a few 
extracts from letters to Mrs. Proudfit : he writes 
under date of 

"February 3d, 1821. 

" The weather has been intensely cold, so that 
they have crossed the North and East Rivers 
on the ice, which has not been done within forty- 


one years; but, through great goodness, I es- 
caped the least ill effect from the cold until the 
change of weather took place. I truly rejoice 

to hear that our dear J appears concerned 

about his soul ; tell him to take no peace to his 
mind until he finds it in the Saviour's love. 
This is the one thing needful, better than the 
gain of ten thousand vv^orlds. The vanity of 
everything was never more visibly to be seen 
than it is at present in this city. I formerly sent 
you the ' Register' for Mrs. W— — , and now send 
you another number, in which you will find an 
address to the Western Churches. I have a 
long letter for the congregation, but have not 
time to transcribe it now ; you may expect it, 
if the Lord spares me in health, in about ten 
days. With respect to your own darkness which 
still continues, I have no doubt that it will, in the 
end, give way to a pleasant dawn ; and, in the 
mean time, I would recommend you to read 
' Trail on The Throne of Graced vol. i., which 
I have lately perused with much spiritual com- 
fort; and read also the following gracious as- 
surances, John, iii., 16. Matt., xi., 28-30. Isa., 
i., 18; and the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of 
John. In meditating upon these, wait the Lord's 
time for comfort, because I am persuaded that 
it will come. Although the hours of night often 
appear long, yet the morning comes in due sea- 


son ; though dreary winter now reigns over the 
vegetable world, yet the spring is approaching 
with fresh delights, and the longer you are call- 
ed to wait in faith and prayer, the sweeter will 
be the joys of salvation when actually experi- 

"February 14th, 1821. 
"I received, a few days since, a letter from 

our dear J , which breathes much of that 

religious feeling which is the only comfort and 
the highest glory of man in this world of imper- 
fection. I laboured for two or three days under 
the influence of a cold which prevailed in this 
city after the mild weather commenced, but 
through the Lord's mercies am now completely 
restored. O how light are my afflictions, in- 
finitely light, compared to my deservings, and 
infinitely light compared with those of others 
who are no worse by nature or practice ! I have 
been reminded, just as I sat down to write this 
letter, by reading of the death of Judge Young- 
love, Judge Sargeant, and Captain Smith, of our 
county, how greatly are we indebted to that 
forbearing God who preserves us, when so many 
are carried to the land of silence. Enclosed 
there is another circular of our society, and also 
a notice which has just been handed in, to show 
you that there is plenty to do ; and I sincerely 
desire to adore that Master who is opening so 


many doors of usefulness, and, I trust, is giving 
me some inclination to improve them. I also 
forward a copy of another letter to the congre- 
gation, which you will have read on the first 
Sabbath. I have also another for the youth, but 
it is not transcribed ; if spared, I will send it to 
be read on the second Sabbath of March. I 
now begin to look forward for the approach of 
Spring, and sincerely long not only to return to 
my dear family and flock, but also to the retire- 
ment and simplicity of the country life. With 
respect to your own spiritual concerns, I would 
refer you to the promises quoted in my last let- 
ter, and also to 'Guthrie's Trial of a Saving In- 
terest in Christ.' That the Great Preserver may 
protect and comfort you, is the daily and un- 
feigned prayer of your loving A. P." 




It has been already mentioned that the year 
1821 was one of severe and varied trials to the 
subject of this memoir. His health v^as so much 
impaired that, for a time, fears were entertained 
by his friends for the result ; he was obliged to 
abstain from preaching for a considerable period, 
and spent the summer of that year in travelling 
through New-England. How deeply he felt 
this providential exclusion from his much-loved 
work of publishing the glad tidings of mercy, is 
shown by various passages of his diary, in which 
he records the frequent invitations to preach 
which he received during the course of his jour- 
ney, but was under the necessity of declining. 
He thus writes, 

"Sabbath afternoon, September 16th, Worth- 
ington, Mass. I have been travelling for my 
health, and attended sermon this morning with 
Rev. Mr. Pomeroy, and was much entreated by 
him and his people to preach, but dare not, ow- 
ing to bodily inability. Was moved with com- 
passion to see a great multitude of people, par- 
ticularly of precious youth, and would have es- 

REV. Dii. rilOUDFlT. 209 

teemed it an unspeakable privilege to address 
them on the important reahties of eternity, but 
am denied this pleasure. I think that to preach 
Jesus and him crucified, although in much weak- 
ness both of mind and body, has been, in some de- 
gree, the delight of my life. I have often expe- 
rienced seasons of enlargement in the pulpit in 
offering to fellow-sinners his unsearchable riches, 
which I shall not forget either in time or in eter- 
nity. But now I am called to be abased. My 
Master, by repeated returns of the fever, has been 
teaching me experimentally my insignificance 
and vileness ; and in these circumstances of hu- 
mihation I desire to exercise submission. He 
has an absolute right to do with me as seemeth 
good in his sight ; neither would I dare to chal- 
lenge him by saying ' what doest thou V These 
are precious moments when I can say, ' not my 
will, blessed Saviour, but thine, be done ;' be 
thou glorified in me, and by me, whether in 
health or aflliction ; whether in life or in death. 
I bless the Lord, O my soul, that thou hast been 
spared so long in his vineyard, and enjoyed so 
many opportunities of testifying the Gospel of his 

" Brattlehoroughf Vermont , September 23d. 

Stopped in this place to spend the holy Sabbath, 

that sacred rest from the toils and anxieties of 

the present world which remaineth for the peo- 

14 S 2 

210 MEMOlli OF THE 

pie of God. The hour for pubUc worship has not 
yet arrived, and as yesterday was the birthday 
of our oldest son, and as this is the birthday of 
our second son, I have agreed with Mrs. P. to 
spend some time in giving them back to that God 
who gave them to us, and who has so long pre- 
served them with us. Read together Deut., 
XXX., 6. Isa., xliv., 3, 4. Jer., xxxii., 38-40. 
Isa., lix., 21. O Lord! although they are this 
morning remote from us, they are nigh to thee, 
who fillest all space at all times with thy pres- 
ence. May thine everlasting arms be around 
them to protect them ; may thy most blessed 
Spirit rest upon them for their sanctification and 
direction. Keep their bodies from every acci- 
dent to which they may be exposed ; but above 
all, keep their souls from the commission of any 
sin by which thy name would be dishonoured, 
thy Spirit grieved, the generation of thy follow- 
ers offended, and their own eternal welfare en- 

'' As the congregation over which the Holy 
Ghost hath made me overseer are this day de- 
prived of the dispensation of the word, I desire 
to commit them to the Great Shepherd of the 
sheep : found encouragement from Heb., xiii., 
20, 21. I know that Israel's Shepherd is not 
confined to outward means ; he can easily ac- 
complish his gracious purposes without my 


feeble instrumentality. I desire, therefore, to 
commit every family to the affectionate care of 
him who feeds his flock wherever they are scat- 
tered over the earth, like a shepherd who gath- 
ereth the lambs with his arms, and carries them 
in his bosom. 

"In reflecting upon the condition of my own 
dear flock, who are this day destitute of the or- 
dinances of his grace, I was led to contemplate 
the. millions in our own and in other countries 
whose ears are rarely saluted by the voice of 
mercy, and the hundreds of millions who have 
never seen his word nor heard his name. O 
Lord, ' the harvest truly is plenteous, and the 
labourers are few.' In mercy to perishing im- 
mortals, send forth labourers speedily into thy 
harvest ; hasten the period when in every place 
incense shall be oflfered, and all the ends of the 
earth shall see thy salvation." 

" Lord's day, Sale?n, October 2Sth, 1821. This 
day the supper of our Divine Lord is dispensed 
in the sanctuary, but through indisposition I am 
excluded from the privilege of participating of 
that holy ordinance as a member, or dispensing 
to the dear followers of Christ the memorials of 
his dying love. It is my great consolation that, 
although I am shut out from the cistern, the Liv- 
ing Fountain is open and accessible. I may med- 
itate upon the promises of the Gospel, and the 


offices of the gracious Spirit, and from these 
wells of salvation drink and be satisfied. I this 
day call upon my soul, and all that is within me, 
to bless the Lord that he ever brought me to the 
fellowship of his grace, that I can now say with 
some confidence, * I know in whom I have be- 
lieved, and that he is able to keep that which 
I have committed to him against the day of his 
final appearing.' Oh, the glorious prospect ! I 
call upon my soul, and all that is within me, to 
bless the Lord that he ever brought me to la- 
bour in his vineyard ; and that he has honoured 
me, though the least of all, to continue so long 
in it, while many of my own age, the compan- 
ions of my youth, have been called out of it, 
some ten, some fifteen, some twenty years ago. 
It is all of his adorable sovereignty. By the grace 
of God, my life has been thus long protracted, 
and on his rich grace I depend, through the 
atoning blood of Jesus, for the remission of all 
my imperfections as a man and a minister. I 
have not loved nor served as I ought ; but I hope 
ere long to know as I am known ; to love as 
the angels love ; to serve my dear Redeemer 
without imperfection, and to enjoy him without 
interruption forever." 

With the return of health. Dr. Proudfit joy- 
fully, and with fresh zeal, resumed his pastoral 
labours, though it had not yet pleased his heav- 


enly Father entirely to remove all the occasions 
of anxiety, as appears from the following ex- 
tracts of the diary : 

''November 9th, 1822. Set apart this fore- 
noon for special humiliation and prayer, 

" 1st. That the Lord would abundantly bless 
the congregation ; that he would prosper his 
work both in the conversion of sinners, and in 
rendering his professed followers more edifying 
in their conversation, and more active in his ser- 
vice. Ezekiel, xxxvii., 1-15. John, xvi., 7-11. 

" 2d. That he would qualify me for more ex- 
tensive usefulness in his Church. Exod., xxix., 
44, 45. Psalm cxxxii., 16; Ixviii., 18, 19. 

" 3d. That he would follow with his blessing 
all my writings which have been circulated 
abroad, and render them subservient to the ad- 
vancement of his cause. 2 Cor., v., 18. Isai., 
xlviii., 17. 

^'4th. That he would manage in much mercy a 
matter of temporal interest which has long been 
the occasion of great anxiety. Psalm Ivii., 2. 
Exodus, xiv., 3. 2 Chron., xiv., 11, 12. 

" November \Qtlu 1822. Set apart this morn- 
ing for the exercises of fasting and special pray- 
er to ask of the Lord the same blessings which 
were the subjects of petition this day week. 
Read over various portions of Scripture which 
authorize us to appropriate seasons for these sol- 


emn duties when special mercies are required, 
and which also show the happy issue with which 
they were attended. The instance of Cornelius, 
related in Acts, x., 30 ; of Daniel, as contained 
in the 9th chapter of his prophecy ; and also of 
Esther, iv., 15-17. These were encouraging on 
account of the speedy and gracious answers 
which were given to these saints, when in their 
afflictions they wrestled with a covenant God by 
prayer and fasting. Cornelius, when thus em- 
ployed, had a vision of the holy angel, with assu- 
rances that he and all his should be saved. While 
Daniel was yet speaking, the man Gabriel 
touched him about the time of the evening ob- 
lation, and informed him of the time when Mes- 
siah should appear to make an end of sin, and 
bring in everlasting righteousness. And in an- 
swer to the supplications of Esther, the heart of 
the king was changed, and the whole nation of 
the Jews was saved. Esther, v., 2, 3. 

^^ November 2Sd, 1822. Set apart this morn- 
ing for fasting and prayer in relation to the same 
subjects which were carried to the mercy-seat 
this day week. With respect to the subject of 
the last petition, felt much freedom in commit- 
ting it to the wise and merciful management of 
my heavenly Father ; attained to an entire sub- 
mission to his will, from a full persuasion that 
all his plans are perfect ; that they are wise and 


holy, and just and good, and will infallibly issue 
in glory to himself and the eternal gratitude and 
joy of all who confide in his mercy. All that I 
have now to ask in reference- to this matter is, 
patience to wait the Lord's time for deliverance, 
and implicit submission to whatever the event 
may be. Read over with much comfort Psalm 
civ., 31, 32, and was led to believe that the Lord, 
in his great goodness, would overrule this dispen- 
sation for my increased usefulness in this gen- 

Such is the blessed privilege of the believer, 
to cast all his burdens, whether temporal or 
spiritual, upon the Lord, being careful for no- 
thing, but in everything, by prayer and suppli- 
cation, with thanksgiving, making known his re- 
quests unto God. And in proportion to the sim- 
plicity of his faith and trust will he find the 
peace of God which passeth all understanding 
keeping his heart and mind. These continued 
supplications of Dr. Proudfit for personal use- 
fulness, and for the revival of the Lord's work 
in his congregation, were not in vain. The year 
1824 was signalized by another plentiful effu- 
sion of the influences of the Holy Spirit upon 
the people of his charge. Under date of June 
9th, there is a record of an agreement with some 
Christian friends to devote a day to the exercises 
of fasting and prayer " in behalf of various per- 


sons distressed concerning their everlasting con- 
cerns, and that the Lord would continue to pros- 
per his work in the congregation which he has 
been carrying on among them for some time in 
a remarkable degree, and that he would estab- 
lish all those who have come out of the world by 
an open profession of his name." During the 
same year he was called to mourn the loss of 
one of his oldest and most warmly-attached 
friends, the late Divie Bethune, Esq., of New- 
York ; the news of his decease called forth the 
following letter : 

" Salem, September 23d, 1824 
" My truly esteemed Friend, 
" I have heard within a few minutes the mel- 
ancholy intelligence of the death of your dear 
husband, and seize a few moments of leisure 
to express my sympathy with you under this 
trying dispensation of your heavenly Father. 
I pronounce the intelligence melancholy ; it is 
so to the Church militant, of which he has long 
been a distinguished ornament and support; it 
is so to the poor and the oppressed, who have 
always found his ear open to their complaints, 
his heart ready to melt at the tale of their woes, 
and his hand extended to help them ; it is so to 
me, for I recollect him as the intimate compan- 
ion of my youth, and amid all the vicissitudes 
which must be expected in this world of change, 
for more than thirty years, in joy and sorrow. 


in prosperity and adversity, I have found him 
an ardent, undissembled friend. Long have we 
travelled through this vale of tears, participating 
as men, and I trust as Christians, in the com- 
forts and crosses of each other ; it must be so 
to his family, to whom he has been a father 
more than ordmarily prudent, vigilant, affection- 
ate, and provident ; but, above all, it must be 
melancholy to you, madam, with whom he 
was united in a relation the most intimate and 
endearing. But, however painful the separa- 
tion must prove to all whom he has left be- 
hind, the change is, without doubt, and beyond 
expression, joyous to himself Free from sin 
and sorrow, he now sees the face of the lovely 
Saviour as he is ; he know^s him as he is known, 
he loves as angels love, he sings as angels sing, 
and enjoys, without interruption and without end, 
all which his capacities, expanded in the light of 
immortality, are capable of enjoying. 

" ' O sweet employ to sing and trace 

The amazing heights and depths of grace ; 
To spend, from sin and sorrow free, 
A bUssfuI, vast eternity.' 

" And now, my dear friend, entertaining such 
hopes in behalf of your departed husband, would 
you wish to recall him, if such recall was fully in 
your power ? Could you consent to recall him 
from the full fruition of victory, from the ac- 
tual possession of the palm, the crown, the kins^- 


dom, the throne, to renew the conflict with Sa- 
tan and the world ? After he has reached the 
heaven of eternal joy and rest, could you con- 
sent to see him again on the tempestuous ocean, 
driven alternately by the winds and waves ? I 
know that you are not so selfish as to wish that 
your dearest friend should exchange the joys 
of heaven for the sorrows of earth, or the full 
light of immortality for the clouds and shadows 
which so often envelop the spiritual pilgrim in his 
journey through the wilderness of this world. 
' Thy Maker is thy husband, saith the Lord of 
Hosts,' and this heavenly friend is infinitely moi*e 
merciful to sympathize under all our afflictions, 
infinitely more powerful to support under the 
pressure of difficulty, and infinitely more suffi- 
cient to supply all our wants, more ardent and 
unchanging in- his love than any earthly connex- 
ion either is or can be. Your dear departed 
mother,* when on earth, often gave in her testi- 
mony that he is the Widow's Judge, and now, 
in the light of heaven, sees both wisdom and 
love in the removal of him who was formerly 
dear to her as life. 

" ' Then let our songs abound, 
Let every tear be dry ; 
We're marching on Immanuel's ground 
To fairer worlds on high.' 

♦ The late Mrs. Isabella Graham. 


" Thus, cistern after cistern is broken or im- 
bittered for the gracious and important design 
of leading us up to him who is a fountain, un- 
exhausted and ever open, who is the same yes- 
terday, to-day, and forever. My dear family 
have ah'eady mingled their tears with yours 
under this painful providence, and we unite our 
supplications that the same hand which has 
opened the wound may pour in the oil, and ad- 
minister the healing balm. That grace, mercy, 
and peace may descend upon you and yours, 
from him who is the widow's stay and the or- 
phans' help, is the prayer of yours most sin- 
cerely, A. Proudfit." 

"To Mrs. Bethune." 

Among the coadjutors of Dr. Proudfit in the 
good work of supplying the spiritual destitution 
of the new settlements, the name of the late 
General S. Van Rensselaer, of Albany, deserves 
to be mentioned with especial respect. The 
character of that eminent person, as distinguish- 
ed for Christian excellence as for his large 
wealth, high social position, and political influ- 
ence, is too well known to need our eulogy ; 
yet we cannot forbear saying of him that, sur- 
rounded by many and great temptations to a 
life of worldliness, he consecrated himself to 
Christ in the morning of his days, and ever af- 
terward, in all his relations, adorned the doctrine 


of God his Saviour. The following letter is one 
of many testimonies which might be given of 
his readiness for every good work. 

" Salem, January 6th, 1824. 
'•Honourable and esteemed Friend, 

" I have occasionally taken the liberty of ap- 
pealing to your liberality, and never without 
success, and I trust that the present appeal will 
not be resjarded as an intrusion. It has been 
no inconsiderable part of my labour, and I may 
add, no inconsiderable source of enjoyment for 
more than twenty years, to aim at promoting 
the diffusion of knowledge through the frontier 
settlements by the circulation of religious tracts ; 
and I entertain no doubt but some of the seed 
sown over this barren soil will bear fruit unto 
life eternal. The most satisfactory assurances 
have been received that this service has been 
neither unacceptable nor unprofitable. 

" It is my intention to publish for free distribu- 
tion among them the following tracts, which 
have already undergone various editions, viz. : 

" 1. A Word to Mothers on the Religious Edu- 
cation of their Children. 

" 2. A Word to Children respecting their ever- 
lasting Interests. 

" 3. An Address to the risinir Generation. 


" 4. An Address to the Inhabitants of the fron- 
tier Settlements. 


" 5. A Letter to a Member of my Church on 
leaving my pastoral Care. 

" 6. An Address to Mothers on the Importance 
of family Religion when this is neglected by the 

" 7. A short Method of using a single Talent 
to the best advantage. 

" I am also preparing for the press short tracts 
on the following subjects, viz. : 

" 1. On the Importance of secret Prayer. 

"^. The Church in the House. 

" 3. On the Importance of attending public 

" 4. On the Advantages of attending them. 

" 5. An Address to the Teachers of Common 

" Now, my dear friend, the object of this com- 
munication is to inquire whether, amid the mul- 
tiplied appeals made to your charity, the plan 
is entitled to a share of your patronage ? I trust 
you will excuse me for making this appeal to 
your liberality, which must long ago have been 
exhausted but for the plenitude of your resour- 
ces, and a heart generous in the extreme, and 
always prompt in the employment of them for 
every noble and benevolent purpose. 

" May the God of providence smile upon you, 
and be ever adding to your earthly treasures as 
they are expended in his service, and to his 
T 2 


glory. May the God of all grace minister to 
you from day to day those consolations of his 
covenant which neither your princely fortune 
nor the applause of the world can secure. And 
after a long life of usefulness and happiness, may 
he give you an abundant entrance to the immu- 
nities of his everlasting kingdom. This, most 
respected sir, is the unfeigned wish of your 
companion in the hopes of religion, and your 
fellow-labourer in the diffusion of the glorious 
Gospel, A. P." 

The titles of the tracts mentioned in the pre- 
ceding letter will serve to show the compre- 
hensive nature of their author's benevolence. 
He was by no means a man of one idea ; while 
his great concern in behalf of those for whose 
benefit these tracts were written was, that they 
might be saved, he was, at the same time, not 
unmindful of their temporal interests. The 
cause of education was one in which he took a 
deep interest ; he was well aware of the inti- 
mate connexion between the school and the 
Church, and how potent an auxiliary was the 
schoolmaster to the pastor. And hence, next 
to the enjoyment of religious ordinances, his de- 
sires and efforts in behalf of the inhabitants of 
the new settlements were directed to the se- 
curing for them the means of education. 

REV. DR. PRUUUFir. 223 

The design of publishing these tracts was not 
carried into effect, probably in consequence of 
the formation of the American Tract Society. 
In the establishment of this noble institution, Dr. 
Proudfit (as might have been anticipated) most 
heartily co-operated ; at the first annual meet- 
mg of the society, he appeared upon its platform 
and delivered an address, in which he express- 
ed his judgment of the important place it holds 
among the numerous benevolent agencies of the 
present day. " Although I would not contrast 
the comparative excellences of our various be- 
nevolent associations, as each is important in its 
own place, yet, in my opinion, the society for 
the distribution of religious tracts, in point of 
utility, occupies a very prominent position among 
the institutions of our age and country. The 
great amount of good which these tracts have 
rendered to the souls of men can never be fully 
estimated till the trump of the archangel is heard, 
and all the myriads of the ransomed are collect- 
ed, and the circumstances which first led them to 
serious reflection are announced. For my own 
part, while I thank the Lord Jesus that in the 
riches of his grace he called me to the ministry, 
I also devoutly adore him that he early directed 
my attention to this labour of love. More than 
twenty years since, a small society was formed 
in our village for publishing and circulating tracts, 


and I have been often refreshed and enlivened 
by hearing of their success in winning souls to 
the Saviour. One who is now preaching the 
salvation of Jesus to a tribe of benighted heath- 
en on our continent dated his conversion from 
reading one of these tracts, which he accidentally 
met with, in the State of Massachusetts. The 
relation of the following fact will, I trust, be 
deemed no intrusion, as it may show how the 
disconsolate followers of the Lamb are comfort- 
ed and established by this exercise of Christian 
charity. During an excursion through the north- 
ern parts of this state, as I travelled through the 
woods of Oswegatchie, I noticed in the depths 
of the forest, far from the habitations of men, a 
little hut with no other door than a suspended 
blanket ; as I approached the cottage, a woman 
drew aside the blanket to see the stranger that 
was passing along ; her face was furrowed with 
age, and still more by cares and privations. On 
going into to her humble abode, and entering into 
conversation with her, I found that she was one 
of those followers of Jesus who had been chosen 
and tried in the furnace of affliction. Upon in- 
quiring if she had any books to entertain herself, 
excluded as she was from the advantages of re- 
ligious conversation, and from the ordinances of 
the sanctuary, she brought me her library, which 
consisted of the tracts circulated by our society 


in Salem, together with that most excellent little 
work of Boston, viz., * The Crook in the Lot.' 
A traveller who had stopped at her solitary resi- 
dence became much interested in reading one 
of her tracts, and offered her in exchange this 
copy of' The Crook.' 

" These facts, to which many similar ones 
might be added, are mentioned from no motives 
of, ostentation, and I trust they will not be deem- 
ed either impertinent or unseasonable on the 
present occasion. They show how much glory 
is brought to our Master, and how much joy to 
his dear children, by this method of well-doing. 
I have no doubt but hundreds, and perhaps thou- 
sands of spiritual pilgrims in the new settle- 
ments and the Canadas have been cheered by 
the perusal of tracts gratuitously sent forth from 
our villages and cities. All the individuals who 
have been thus animated in their spiritual course 
will never be known until they are met in the 
regions of bliss, and it is then discovered through 
whose influence these little messengers of con- 
solation were sent through their desolate bor- 
ders. They will perhaps mention that by some 
adverse providence their lot was cast in the 
wilderness, where the joyful sound rarely reach- 
ed them on the Sabbath, but these wells of sal- 
vation were there unexpectedly opened to re- 
fresh their weary souls, like the spring which 
Hagar found in the wilderness of Beersheba." 


The following sentences descriptive of the 
views and feelings in which the Tract Society 
originated, are quoted, not so much to show the 
catholic spirit of tKeir author, but because they 
express a sentiment which many who once pro- 
fessed to act upon it seem at the present time 
in great danger of forgetting. 

" I hail this event (the formation of the A. T. S.) 
because of the harmony of Christian feeling 
which the measure manifested, and which it is 
calculated to promote. My soul is filled with 
emotions too big for utterance, as I meet the 
friends of our common Saviour assembled to 
deliberate on the best means of promoting the 
common salvation; one day convened in the 
Bible Society to consult about the translation 
of the word of Truth, or its distribution among 
the destitute ; on another, deliberating to what 
benighted portion of the race to send the herald 
of salvation, or how to repair the desolations of 
Zion among ourselves ; or on this day in the 
Tract Society mingling their councils in select- 
ing and sending abroad those tracts which are, 
by God's blessing, most adapted to alarm, in- 
struct, or edify. These meetings of Christians, 
without respect to sectarian interest or section 
of country, are animating in the extreme ; they 
correspond to the genius of the Gospel, which 
breathes peace on earth ; they also help to ex- 


ercise that mutual affection and confidence 
which ought to be cherished by the followers 
of Him who is emphatically styled the Prince 
of Peace. Those halcyon days of harmony and 
peace for which our venerable fathers supplica- 
ted and eagerly longed are now (in measure) 
realized by us, their favoured sons and success- 

I trust you will excuse me, Mr. President, 
while through you I adjure my fellow-labour- 
ers in this society, by all their solicitude for the 
glory of that Prince around whose standard we 
are now rallying, and for the extension of his 
kingdom, that all local and sectarian jealousy 
be suppressed. Let every individual, whatever 
place he may occupy in this institution, organ- 
ized under circumstances so auspicious, aim at 
keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of 
peace. God forbid that the hand of the demon 
of discord should in our age, or in any future age, 
sunder those sacred ties by which we are united." 
During the twenty years which have elapsed 
smce these words were spoken, great changes 
have occurred in the condition of the American 
Church. Rome has attained a power and an 
influence in our free republic which at that day 
no one imagined to be possible ; but the change 
which has taken place in the feelings of those 
branches of the Church which united in forming 


the Bible and the Tract Societies is, on some 
accounts, much more to be deplored than the 
increase of Romanism in numbers and influence. 
The evil spirit of division has been at work 
among those whose united efforts should, with- 
out ceasiiig, be directed against their common 
enemies. Within the last ten years there has 
been a manifest revival of the spirit of sect ; 
there has been in the denominations adverted 
to an increasing tendency to retire within them- 
selves, and to do individually what they once 
proposed to attempt conjointly. The Presby- 
terians and Congregationalists are beginning to 
attach great importance to their respective pe- 
culiarities — even to those which for many years 
were regarded as matters of indifference. Now 
no sensible person will deny that this regard for, 
the denomination to which we belong is good, 
and productive of good results, if it be kept with- 
in proper bounds ; but it may, on the other hand, 
be indulged to excess ; we may become so, 
wrapped up in " our Church" as to be quite re- 
gardless of those other sections of the visible 
Church which, equally with ourselves, " hold the 
Head, even Christ," and thus be practically for- 
getful of the fact that we have a common Chris- 
tianity. In a time like the present, when the 
denominational spirit is growing, there is danger 
lest one body after another should desert that 


broad and noble platform on which they have 
all so often confessed that they have " one Lord, 
one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father 
who is above all, and through all, and in all." 
Against this danger it becomes every catholic- 
minded Christian to guard ; it becomes all who 
love Christ's cause to labour to prevent such de- 
sertion, not by asking men to be indifferent to 
any truth, small or great, but by inducing them 
to act upon the rule sanctioned by the Church's 
Head, " whereunto we have already attained, 
let us walk by the same rule, let us miad the 
same things." 

From a letter of the Rev. W. A. Halleck to 
Dr. Proudfit, dated September 8th, 1826, it ap- 
pears that some of the tracts whose titles are 
given on a former page, were among the earliest 
issued by the committee. " Your several fa- 
vours," he writes, " accompanied by tracts for 
publication by the American Tract Society, and 
containing suggestions concerning others, have 
all been laid before the PublishingCommittee, and 
have been perused, as well as the tracts. For the 
prompt and kind encouragement and support 
which God has put it into your heart thus to af- 
ford to this rising institution, accept our grateful 
acknowledgments. The following have been 
sanctioned by the committee, viz. : * The Single 
Talent Improved ;' * A Letter addressed to a 


Member of his Congregation,' &c. ; ' Maternal 
Duty, showing the Importance of maintaining 
Family Worship ;' ' A word to Mothers ;' ' An 
Address to those who had removed from his Con- 
gregation to the Frontier Settlements/ 

" You have long been a father and friend oi 
the Tract cause ; we rejoice that there are some 
such in the land, and we rely on an interest in 
your prayers, and your steady and long-contin- 
ued co-operation." 

Before leaving this subject, it will not be out 
of place to give Dr. Proudfit's views in regard 
to the " volume enterprise," an enterprise in 
which the society has been honoured to do vast 
good, though of late it has occasioned much con- 
troversy. They are expressed in a letter to Mr. 
Hallock, dated 

" Salem, May, 1832. 
" Respected Friend, 
" Your communication respecting the circula- 
tion of the volumes of the American Tract So- 
ciety was received last evening. In my opinion, 
the plan proposed may, under the divine bless- 
ing, be incalculably useful, both as it respects the 
general interests of the Church of God and the 
salvation of individuals. The WTitings of those 
holy men, so long honoured for the conversion 
of sinners, thrown among the mass of our pop- 
ulation, may not only create a taste for general 


reading, but may also tend to exclude those light, 
frothy compositions, which, within the last twen- 
ty years, have been too commonly circulated, and 
have done so much to vitiate the public taste. 

Perhaps there is no mode by which a pastor 
can exert his influence more profitably for the 
promotion of sound morality and living piety 
among the people of his charge, than by en- 
couraging the distribution of such writings as 
are specified in your collection, and I sincerely 
wish that they were in the possession of every 
family in my congregation. Although Baxter's 
Saints' Rest has been familiar to me from my 
boyhood, and hundreds of copies have passed 
through my hands, yet I recently read every 
page of it with delight to my own soul, and, I 
trust, with profit as a minister intrusted with 
managing the spiritual interests of others. I 
have procured at different times copies of the 
* Essays to do Good,' 'Baxter's Call,'* Persuasives 
to Early Piety,' for the purpose of loaning them 
among my people, particularly among the youth, 
and have found that they were read with great 
avidity, and, I believe, with saving advantage. 
Indeed, my attention for more than forty years 
has been directed to the promotion of religion 
in this town and through the frontier settlements 
by the circulation of tracts and volumes on prac- 
tical subjects, and the most gratifying intelli- 


gencc has been received of the happy results. 
I will therefore most cheerfully co-operate with 
the society in the execution of the plan propo- 
sed. I remain your friend in the common Sav- 
iour, A. Proudfit." 

Another subject in which Dr. Proudfit took a 
deep interest was the spiritual welfare of " the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel." He was one 
of the earliest and warmest friends of the '* Amer- 
ican Society for meliorating the condition of the 
Jews ;" he often took part in the proceedings of 
its anniversaries, and on one occasion delivered 
an address containing sentiments which cannot 
be too earnestly urged upon the attention of all 
branches of Christ's true Church. 

" Whatever diversity of opinion," said he, 
"may be entertained of our obligation to sup- 
port other charitable institutions, with respect 
to the dispersed of Israel there can be but one 
sentiment and voice. The moment we begin 
to feel a degree of apathy in our efforts for their 
benefit, let our zeal be rekindled by the consider- 
ation that it is the offspring of Abraham, the kin- 
dred of Isaiah, of Paul, and, above all, the kin- 
dred of the Saviour of the world, * according to 
the flesh,' whose spiritual delusions we profess 
to pity, whose conversion we have associated 
to promote. If the society designed for their 


relief were neglected, nay, if it be not fostered 
by our warmest wishes, our most fervent pray- 
ers, our liberal contributions, our united, unceas- 
ing exertions, such neglect would be an indel- 
ible stain upon the character of the Gentile 
churches. That nation is most emphatically 
our benefactor ; and through their hands, as the 
sacred depository, the precious boon of pardon, 
adoption, and eternal life, is this evening tender- 
ed for your acceptance and mine. 

" In deliberating about the recovery of ' the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel,' we are not 
coolly to ask what obstacles are to be surmount- 
ed, or what pecuniary expense must be incurred. 
The only question to be considered is this, are 
the Jews to be brought in ? shall all Israel be 
saved ? And with respect to the certainty of 
this event, it is a most animating truth, that all 
the prophets and apostles of the Lamb have, in 
succession, given their united and most explicit 
testimony. True, they beheld, with mournful 
liearts, a long, dreary night collecting and brood- 
ing over their ungrateful, impenitent people ; their 
city was to be laid in ruins ; their temple — the 
pride of their country, and the admiration of the 
world — was to be levelled with the ground, so that 
one stone of the magnificent edifice should not 
be left upon another ; their tribes, outcasts from 
their God, should remain ' many days without a 
U 8 


king, without a prince ;' no urim and thummim 
should any longer communicate the divine will ; 
but, through the gloom of that long and cheer- 
less night, they beheld the dawn of an auspicious 
morning : for it is written, ' afterward shall the 
children of Israel return and seek the Lord their 
God ; they shall seek the Lord and his good- 
ness in the latter day. My tabernacle, also, shall 
be with them ; yea, I will be their God, and they 
shall be my people ; and the heathen shall know 
that I the Lord do sanctify Israel when my 
sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forever.' 
" With these sure words of prophecy that Is- 
rael shall be saved, what remains for us but, 
from motives of philanthropy to them as mem- 
bers of our common family, from feelings of grat- 
itude to them as our munificent benefactors, in 
obedience to the command of our Master, in 
reliance upon his promise, what remains for us, 
I say, but to persevere in our labours of love 
for a people so long favoured of Jehovah ? We 
need not entertain a single doubt of our success 
in this holy and honourable enterprise. The 
same ' zeal of the Lord of hosts' which display- 
ed his justice in executing vengeance on their 
unbelief, will also display the overflowings of his 
mercy in gathering Uiem from the four winds of 
heaven, whither they are scattered. The hand 
of divine indignation lopped off" this ' branch,' and 


has permitted it to lie for ages withered and peel- 
ed, without sap or verdure, but the hand of mercy 
will ere long ' graft it again into the true vine,' 
causing it to flourish to the glory of his grace 
in the eyes of an astonished, adoring world. Is 
not this prospect as ' life from the dead?' Come, 
then, and while we are devising the means of 
their salvation, let us ask a coal of the same fire 
by which their souls were inflamed while they 
deliberated about ours. Let us look that the 
mantle of their Elijahs may be caught, at least, 
by some of us Elishas, their successors in office. 
Let us go forth to the same work, animated by 
the same spirit, until not merely in Palestine, 
but through every region of the earth, * instead 
of the thorn the fir-tree shall come up, and in- 
stead of the brier the myrtle-tree, which may 
be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign 
which shall not be cut off'.' Israel's God smile 
benignly on all the exertions which are made to 
promote the spiritual benefit of Israel ; and to 
thee, Jehovah, in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob, their God and our God, sl>all be as- 
cribed by all the ransomed of their tribes glory 
in the highest, world without end, Amen." 

For many years the society before which the 
address, of which an extract has been given, was 
delivered, seemed to be like a withered plant. 
The prophecies concerning Israel appear to have 


been but imperfectly understood by those who 
had the chief management of its concerns ; their 
plans were not wisely laid, and the melancholy 
result of their failure was the gradual extinction 
of the interest in behalf of Israel which had been 
awakened in the American Church. But, though 
the plant was withered, the God of Israel did 
not permit it utterly to die. Within the last 
few years the society has been revived ; its 
grand aim now is, not to establish a home for 
the Jew in a land where the Lord never design- 
ed that he should permanently dwell, but simply 
to testify to him " repentance towards God, and 
faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ." 

In the year 1829 the American Bible Society 
adopted the memorable resolution to supply the 
whole destitute population of the United States 
with the Holy Scriptures. That the idea of this 
good work originated in the mind of Dr. Proud- 
fit is more than we are entitled to assert ; this 
much, however, is certain, that he was one of 
the earliest, most laborious, and successful agents 
in accomplishing the grand and benevolent de- 
sign. From the correspondence which passed 
between the Washington County Society and 
the managers of the parent institution, it appears 
that to this auxiliary — for many years one of the 
most efficient in the country — belongs the hon- 
our of having been the first to propose the meas- 


ure. Dr. Proudfit was the chairman of the com- 
mittee appointed by the county society to bring 
the subject before the managers in New- York, 
and in a letter to the Rev. J. C. Brigham, under 
date of February 4th, 1829, he says: "At our 
annual meeting, held in January, 1828, agents 
were appointed to have the whole county ex- 
plored, that the number of families destitute of 
the Scriptures might be ascertained, and their 
wants supplied. At our meeting in January, 
1829, our society has taken a more expanded 
view, and contemplated the destitute families 
not merely of our county, but throughout the 
United States, and expressed a solicitude to have 
them supplied without the least unnecessary de- 
lay. They have therefore appointed a commit- 
tee to communicate to you their wishes, and, 
through you, to suggest to the parent society at 
its next anniversary the adoption of a resolu- 
tion to have every destitute family supplied with- 
in two years. They have directed us, at the 
same time, to pledge the sum of five thousand 
dollars towards the execution of the purpose, to 
be paid within two years from the adoption of 
the aforesaid resolution ; and if this sum is not 
considered equal to our proportion, only under- 
take the design, and relying on the God of prov- 
idence, we will increase it. 

" You will excuse us, a remote auxiliary, in 


making this suggestion, but we assure you that 
no ordinary anxiety was evinced by our so- 
ciety to have the measure immediately adopt- 
ed ; and, from the experiment which has been 
already made in supplying towns, counties, and 
even states, we are fully persuaded there is not 
only ability, but liberality enough in the friends 
of our Master to aid you in the achievement of 
this mighty and magnificent project. Only let 
the motion be brought forward at the next an- 
nual meeting, and it will be adopted, and in an 
humble reliance on the Divine sufficiency it will 
be accomplished. ' The earth is to be filled with 
the knowledge of the Lord,' and he who hath 
spoken the word has the silver and the gold, and 
the hearts of all who possess them, at his sover- 
eign disposal. And is not the design worthy of 
an experiment ?" 

The sum which the Washington County aux- 
iliary engaged to raise is a large one, especial- 
ly when it is considered that the county is not 
of great extent, and that its population is almost 
exclusively agricultural ; yet the pledge thus 
given was redeemed within the time specified. 
These circumstances were probably not without 
their influence in inducing the managers in New- 
York to entreat Dr. Proud fit to undertake an 
agency on their behalf Such an application 
was made to him, and, bavins: obtained the con- 


sent of his congregation, he devoted himself to 
the v^ork. In the conclusion of the report of 
his labours during the first year, he says: " Upon 
a survey of the year, with^its labours in the ser- 
vice of the society, so far as the divine will can 
be ascertained from the aspect of providence, 
my Master has smiled on the undertaking ; and 
this short period has been connected with oc- 
currences, the impression of which cannot be ef- 
faced in time or eternity. My congregation 
readily consented to my acceptance of the ap- 
pointment, and some of them, with tears, told me 
not to return from New-England until m^ work 
was accompHshed. On my occasional visits 
home during the season they always received 
me with joy, and again parted with me without 
a murmur. I have travelled in the course of 
the year about three thousand miles, in five dif- 
ferent states, attended about fifty public meet- 
ings, and had intercourse with Christians of al- 
most all denominations, and witnessed but one 
feeling of respect for the enterprise in which we 
are engaged." During the second year of his 
agency he again visited nearly all the Eastern 
and Middle States. 

A brief passage of his ordinary diary of this 
period may here be introduced, as showing that, 
engrossed as he was with the great object of 
his agency, and of course exposed to manifold 


distractions, he still carried about with him the 
same habits of meditative devotion which he 
maintained when enjoying the quietness of home. 
It is dated 

" Rockingham, Vemiont, June 27th. Set out 
a few days since to visit some of the Eastern 
States in relation to the supply of the destitute 
of the United States with the Holy Scriptures, 
and being stopped on my journey by the failure 
of the stage, desired to set apart some time for 
remembering all the way by which the Lord, my 
covenant God, hath led me these forty years in 
the ^Iderness. Although ten thousand thou- 
sand mercies, altogether unmerited, have been 
heaped upon me, a poor, insignificant worm of 
the dust, mercies which it will be the pleasure 
and employment of eternity to recount, yet there 
are four memorable occasions in which the Lord, 
in his infinite condescension, visibly and most 
remarkably appeared in my behalf, disappoint- 
ing my fears and exceeding my hopes. One 
instance of his interposition occurred in July, 
1791, while I was a student in Columbia Col- 
lege ; another in September, 1815; another in 
May, 1822 ; and another during the present 
month. Upon all these occasions my character 
and comfort as a man, and my usefulness as a 
minister, appeared deeply involved in the issue. 
The cloud hung over my head portentous and 


awful, threatening to burst forth in the destruc- 
tion of my peace and reputation, while, to human 
appearance, there was no possibility of escape : 
perplexity and ruin were seemingly unavoid- 
able ; but, O my God ! how unsearchable are 
thy councils, and thy ways are past finding out ; 
my limited wisdom was completely confounded ; 
I could devise no method of deliverance ; yet, by 
means of which I had no conception, thou hast 
interposed, and wrought salvation for me. After 
permitting me to be long tossed upon the bois- 
terous ocean, and my ship to be covered with 
wave after wave, thou didst speak, and lo ! there 
was a great calm. In all these instances, I have 
found, in my own delightful experience, that as 
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are 
thy ways, my God, higher than my ways, and 
thy thoughts than my thoughts. And this morn- 
ing, at the recollection of those repeated inter- 
positions in my behalf, I desire devoutly to set 
up my ebenezer, and say, ' hitherto hath Jeho- 
vah helped ;' they are the Lord's doings, dis- 
plays of adorable sovereignty, of all-controlling 
power, of unsearchable wisdom, and infinite 
condescension and love. They are now, and 
must remain forever, marvellous in my eyes. 
* O ! that my words were written in a book, that 
they were graven with an iron pen in the rock 
16 X 


forever, because in the day when I cried thou 
answeredst me.' — Psahii cxxxviii., 3. 

" These dispensations I would mark down for 
my own support and encouragement in every 
future emergency, and for the support of any 
afflicted follower of Jesus who may read them 
from age to age. * It is better to trust in the 
Lord than to put confidence in man ; it is bet- 
ter to trust in the Lord than to put confidence 
in princes ;' bless the Lord, ye his angels, for 
these manifestations of his mercy to me, who am 
less than the least of all saints." 

How animating and instructive are these rec- 
ords of God's gracious interposition in behalf of 
his people. In all ages they have testified in 
the language of one of old, who had been sub- 
jected to many an appalling danger, and expe- 
rienced many a wonderful rescue, " if it had not 
been the Lord who was on our side when men 
rose up against us, then had they swallowed us 
up quick. Our help is in the name of the Lord, 
who made heaven and earth." And one of the 
great purposes of Christian biography is to show 
that all the promises of our God are like himself, 
" the same yesterday, to-day, and forever." 

After his return home from the arduous and 
fatiguing labours in behalf of those who were 
suffering " a famine, not of bread and water, but 
of the word of the Lord," Dr. Proudfit's labours 


in his own congregation appear to have been at- 
tended with a special influence from on high. 
Salem, in common with so many other parishes 
in various parts of the land, enjoyed a time of 
refreshing from on high during the memorable 
years 1830, 31. 

The following extract from the diary of this 
period is worthy of being introduced, if for no 
other reason, at least for the striking incident 
which it records : 

" Sabbath Evening, May 21th. This day have 
dispensed the ordinance of the Holy Supper with- 
out assistance from any of my brethren; felt 
much depressed for several days previous, ow- 
ing to a variety of occurrences, but the Lord, in 
his great goodness, disappointed my fears. Al- 
though the weather was unfavourable, yet the 
assembly was very large, and I experienced un- 
usual freedom in every part of the service, and 
an uncommon solemnity pervaded the audience. 
Now, Lord, to the glory of thy grace I here re- 
cord it, for my own encouragement, and the en- 
couragement of others who serve thee in the 
ministry of reconciliation, that thou art a very 
present help in the time of need. Oh the riches 
of thy forbearance, that thou art not dealing with 
me according to my unbelieving fears. I am 
ashamed this afternoon, and blush for my dis- 
trust, notwithstanding all thou hast promised in 


thy word, and all that I have frequently experi- 
enced of thy faithfulness to thy promises. Truly 
they shall not be ashamed that wait on thee. 
None of all the apostate family of man is more 
insignificant or undeserving than I am ; yet, O 
Lord ! how bountifully thou art dealing with me ; 
how liberally have I shared of thy goodness, both 
in a temporal and spiritual respect ; how great 
was thy condescension in calling me to the min- 
istry, in supporting me so long in the discharge 
of its duties; in preserving me, notwithstanding 
all my self-sufficiency, from the pollution of the 
world ; in continuing peace in the congregation, 
and, I trust, in crowning my labours with a de- 
gree of success both towards sinners and saints. 

* Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord 
hath dealt bountifully with thee.' I would this 
day be more entirely thine. Amen and Amen. 

*' On the Monday which immediately succeed- 
ed the dispensation of the Lord's Supper, the fol- 
lowing interesting occurrence took place : A 
few minutes previous" to the commencement of 
our public services on the morning of the Sab- 
bath, that reproof of our Saviour to his apostle, 

* O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt V 
was powerfully impressed upon my mind, and 
appeared to open so satisfactorily to my under- 
standing, that I felt constrained to adopt it as 
the subject of my discourse. During the pray- 


er and other public services, my mind was par- 
ticularly directed tov^ards those who were walk- 
ing in darkness and pressed down by the bur- 
den of their sins, and I felt enlargement in ex- 
hibiting Jesus with his suitableness and sufficien- 
cy, as anointed of the Father to bind up the 
broken heart, and comfort the mourner. On the 
Monday following, a young gentleman, an en- 
tire stranger, called upon me and desired con- 
versation ; he informed me that he had once made 
a profession of religion, but, through the snares 
of the world, and the influence of unholy asso- 
ciates, he had lost his first love, and, for a time, 
had turned aside from the holy commandment ; 
that for several days he had been labouring un- 
der awful remorse of conscience, especially for 
his guilt in denying the Lord that bought him ; 
that he had reached our village on Saturday 
evening, and during his attendance in the sanc- 
tuary, the prayers and all the other services seem- 
ed immediately suited to his situation ; that his 
burdened soul obtained such relief by a contem- 
plation of the offices and fulness of the Saviour, 
that he felt a strong desire to renew his covenant 
engagements over the symbols of his body and 
blood, but, being a stranger, did not feel at liberty 
to come forward. He apologized for the free- 
dom he had taken in calling, but mentioned that 
he could not retire from the village without in- 


forming me of the fact ; he waited to attend our 
family devotions, when I marked for him a va- 
riety of promises adapted to his exercises. About 
a year afterward, in passing through our village, 
he called upon me a second time, when he ap- 
peared to remain steadfast in his Christian pro- 
fession, and to be walking in the fear of the Lord 
and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Learn 
from this occurrence, O my soul, the importance 
of living by faith, of exercising an entire depend- 
ence on the influences of the divine Spirit for di- 
rection. The wind bloweth where it listeth. 
He is an adorable Sovereign in the selection of 
instruments for the execution of his purposes of 
mercy, and for the time when, and the manner 
in w^hich he will give efficacy to their adminis- 
tration. Our Lord must pass through Samaria 
to impart instruction to a woman of that coun- 
try ; Philip the Evangelist must go down to the 
desert of Judea, that he might preach Jesus to 
the Ethiopian eunuch ; Paul must abide in Cor- 
inth, because much people were to be saved in 
that city. Although preparations for the pulpit 
should be made with diligence, yet if the Spirit, 
in his sovereignty, apparently directs to another 
subject, let not his influences be resisted ; he can 
assist at the moment for the accomplishment of 
his gracious purposes. While I desire hereafter 
to have an Isaac ready on the altar, yet if a lamb 


is unexpectedly presented for a burnt offering, 
let me not dare to refuse it." 

There is another very striking incident of Dr. 
Proudfit's life which may be introduced in this 
connexion, and is thus related by his son, Professor 
Proudfit : " One day a man called on my father 
who had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War. 
He appeared, in conversation, to be a man of 
piety, and of deep spiritual experience. His ob- 
ject was to obtain books and tracts to take with 
him to the distant West, whither he was about 
to emigrate. My father inquired his reason for 
removing from a region where he enjoyed the 
privileges of religion, which must be so pre- 
cious to him. He replied that it pained him to 
the heart to leave the ordinances and the society 
of his Christian friends, but that his large and 
growingfamily obliged him to do so. It appear- 
ed to be ' the will of the great King of Heaven 
that he should not own a dollar clear, nor a foot 
of land ;' he was content to make both ends meet ; 
but, as matters stood, he could not even do this. 
He was requested to wait a few days, in the hope 
that something would turn up to his advantage. 
Within that time, a beautiful farm of about one 
hundred acres, in a retired and romantic situa- 
tion, and about two miles distant from my fa- 
thers house, was offered for sale. It was pur- 
chased by my father, and James Shields (for 


such was the person referred to) was placed upon 
it on shares. Thei'e, for many years, the good 
man ' walked with God,' and proved by his holy 
and zealous life a rich blessing to the neighbour- 
hood. To my father he was an invaluable spir- 
itual counsellor ; often, in his seasons of despond- 
ency, he would mount his horse and ride away 
to James Shields, and derive strength and com- 
fort from ' hearty counsel' with one who ' dwelt 
in the secret place of the Most High.' Not a 
stroke of a pen ever passed between them du- 
ring the many years in which they were related 
as landlord and tenant. My father used joking- 
ly to say that if there was an odd grain of corn, 
he knew that James Shields would give it to 
him. He exerted himself much to procure the 
old soldier's pension, and through the kind offices 
of Captain Bleecker, of New- York, under whom 
he had served in the war, he succeeded. 

" When the tidings were received that the 
pension had been allowed, great was his joy, and 
large the prospective appropriations which he 
made to this and the other benevolent object. 
This was afterward a standing topic of jest with 
my father at the expense of his old friend, for he 
enjoyed his pension only one year. When the 
oath was exacted of the pensioner that he could 
not obtain a subsistence without it, he gave it up, 
saying that he ' was a poor man, but, by the help 


of the great King of Heaven, he had alv^ays got 
along, and he knew he always should.' This 
good man was in the habit of retiring to the 
woods near his house, and spending much time 
in prayer. He often had a distinct and certain 
expectation of future events, which, in these sea- 
sons of solitary communion with God, had been 
impressed upon his mind through the medium 
of a passage of Scripture, or, as he expressed 
it, ' had come to him in a promise.' He was 
deeply read in the lore of the old divines ; and 
well do I remember his attitude as he sat, at the 
resting-hour of noon or in the evening, with his 
old spectacles on, poring over a volume of Bos- 
ton or the Erskines. Often has my father said 
of him, as his bent and ill-clad figure has passed 
our house on his way to the church (of which 
he was the sexton), that he would outshine the 
kings and nobles of this world in the day when 
the righteous should ' shine forth as the sun in 
the kingdom of their Father.' 

" He was farther remarkable as a very early 
example of 'total abstinence.' He had brought 
the maxims of the camp, in this particular, to the 
farm, and had always thought that a little spirit 
was quite indispensable, especially in harvest- 
time ; but one day, when at work in his field, 
a respectable farmer, who had been an exem- 
plary member of the Church, passed by in a state 


of intoxication. James Shields, with his accus- 
tomed ' plainness of speech,' accosted him, and 
* reasoned of temperance' so closely and pun- 
gently that the other exclaimed, ' well, I will give 
it up if you will.' He was, to his great surprise, 
promptly taken at his word, and James Shields 
never tasted spirituous liquor from that hour, 
substituting merely a cup of tea at dinner for his 
accustomed stimulus, and finding himself, as he 
often said, quite as able to bear labour and expo- 
sure as before. He entered into his rest in the 
year 1830, and was followed to the grave by 
one of the largest funerals ever seen in Washing- 
ton county." 

During the summer of 1833, Dr. Proudfit spent 
some weeks in Orange county, New- York, in be- 
half of the Theological Seminary of the Associ- 
ate Reformed Church, which had been revived 
after a suspension of about seven years, and es- 
tablished at Newburgh. At a later period he re- 
sumed the work, and continued to devote to it 
as much time as his other duties would allow. 
In this connexion it may be mentioned, that in 
1835 he was chosen by the Synod to be Profess- 
or of Pastoral Theology, and, for a while, he 
w^as in the hopes of being able to spend so much 
time at Newburgh, during each session of the 
seminary, as would have sufficed for the deliv- 
crv of a short course of lectures in that branch 


of theological instruction ; but the nature of his 
other engagements was such as to prevent the 
carrying out this design, and he accordingly re- 
signed the office in 1837. At the same time, it 
should be observed, that he continued to feel a 
deep interest in the institution, frequently attend- 
ing and taking part in the examination of the 
students, and in other ways labouring to promote 
its welfare. 

Towards the close of the year 1833,Dr.Proud- 
fit was earnestly entreated by the Young Men's 
Bible Society, in the City of New- York, to lend 
them his aid in raising a considerable sum which 
they had pledged themselves to contribute for 
the circulation of the Scriptures in foreign lands. 
He yielded to their request, " impressed," as he 
observes in his diary, " with the magnitude of 
the undertaking, as it involved the extension of 
the Redeemer's kingdom, and the salvation of 
the inhabitants of heathen lands." At a most in- 
clement season of the year he proceeded to the 
city, and, by the blessing of God, was enabled 
very speedily to accomplish the object of his 
visit. Under date of January 12th, 1834, he 
writes, " The God of the Bible has singularly 
smiled upon the enterprise, and has opened the 
hearts of his dear children in this city to contrib- 
ute promptly and liberally. Scarcely three 
weeks have elapsed since the work (of raising 


$10,000) was commenced, and the pledge is sub- 
stantially redeemed." At a meeting of the Board 
of Managers held January 13th, 1834, the fol- 
lowing resolutions were adopted, viz. : 

" 1. That this Board feel deeply the success 
with which God has crowned the undertaking 
of this society to raise the sum of $10,000 for 
the distribution of the Bible in foreign lands. 

" 2. That under God we are indebted for that 
success to the prayerful and untiring exertions 
of our venerable friend, the Rev. Dr. A. Proudfit. 

"3. That Dr. Proudfit*be presented with a 
certificate of life membership, and a copy of the 
best publication of the American Bible Society, 
as an acknowledgment in part of our grateful 
sense of his services." 

In 1835 Dr. Proudfit was induced to ask for 
a dissolution of the relation which had so long 
and happily existed between himself and the con- 
gregation of Salem. This step was taken in 
consequence of his election to the office of sec- 
retary of the New- York Colonization Society. 
We are unable to state the particular reasons 
which led him to retire from a charge with which 
he had been connected for forty years, but we 
may be sure from his whole character, and es- 
pecially his habitual prayerfulncss, that so impor- 
tant a step was not taken without repeated and 
earnest seeking for divine guidance. Neither 


can we suppose him to have taken it v^^ithout the 
fullest conviction that the Lord's voice to him 
was, Go. One thing, however, is very certain, 
that his removal from Salem, and his entrance 
into another sphere of labour, was neither oc- 
casioned nor accompanied by any abatement of 
the affectionate regards of his congregation, as 
appears from the correspondence which took 
place between himself and the members of his 
session a short time after his establishment in his 
new office. The high estimation in which he 
was held by the whole community of the town 
of Salem, a community in which he had spent 
his youth, his mature manhood, and his old age, 
is manifested in the series of resolutions adopted 
at a general meeting of the inhabitants of the 
village. These proceedings well deserve a place 
in this memoir, for they are honourable alike to 
the community of Salem, and to the venerable 
pastor who had so long gone out and in among 
them, testifying the Gospel of the grace of God. 
Testimonies such as this to a minister removing 
to a new field of labour are by no means com- 
mon. Indeed, it is truly melancholy to reflect 
upon the numerous instances which have occur- 
red within the last few years in which the pas- 
toral relation has been dissolved under circum- 
stances of the most painful kind. Not a few 
ministers, after many years of faithful, successful, 


and self-denying labour, have been cast off by 
congregations abundantly able to sustain them, 
and to supply their lack of service growing out 
of the infirmities of age. No doubt, in some cases, 
ministers who are thus treated are themselves 
in some measure to blame, by dropping their 
habits of study as they advance in years ; still, 
we cannot help regarding this as one of the de- 
plorable results of the low view of the relation 
between pastor and people which many persons 
and many congregations have been accustomed 
to take. 

The proceedings already mentioned were had 
within a few weeks after Dr. Proud fit's retire- 
ment from his pastoral charge : they are as fol- 
lows : 

" In pursuance of public notice previously 
given, the inhabitants of the town of Salem met 
at the Rev. Mr. Whiton's church, on Thursday, 
the 25th of November, 1835, to manifest their 
respect for the unqualified worth and distinguish- 
ed services of the Rev. Dr. Proudfit. 

" The meeting was organized by the appoint- 
ment of the Rev. John Whiton, Chairman, and 
John M'Murray, Esq., Secretary. The object 
of the meeting was then stated, and a committee 
was appointed, consisting of the following gentle- 
men : Messrs. Crary, Welles, Whiton, M'Mur- 
ray, M'Alister, and Coon ; who, having retired, 
returned and reported as follows : 


" * It is not of Dr. Proudfit merely as pastor of 
the Associate Reformed Church of this village 
that we speak, nor is it as the great advocate for 
instructing and Christianizing the heathen, nor 
is it as the active, benevolent, and liberal mem- 
ber of the Bible, Missionary, and other societies, 
but it is to pay him our sincere respects as our 
neighbour and friend, who, after more than forty 
years spent among us in faithfully exerting him- 
self for the good of mankind, is now called to 
act upon a more extended theatre as the agent 
of the Colonization Society in the City of New- 
York ; and although he has been but a short time 
absent, we cannot but perceive the vacancy 
which that absence has occasioned ; his efforts 
having heretofore, in a pre-eminent degree, been 
directed to the literary advancement of the rising 
generation, his departure will occasion to them 
a loss which they cannot expect will be soon 
supplied. The able and distinguished men who 
have been' nurtured and partially educated in 
this place during the last forty years, known in 
the pulpit, on the bench, at the bar, and as the 
heads of our seminaries of learning, have been 
favoured by his untiring exertions.' The com- 
mittee also reported the following resolutions, 
which were unanimously adopted. 

" Resolved, That, entertaining the highest sen- 
timents of respect for the private worth of the 

256 MEMOIR OF 'J'llE 

Rev. Dr. Proudfit, and of gratitude for his dis- 
tinguished public services, and deeply regretting 
his departure, we tender to him the cheerful ex- 
pression of our warmest personal regard, and 
our fervent wishes that, in every sphere of be- 
nevolence in which he may be called to move, 
he may long enjoy, what w^e believe to be the 
object of his highest ambition and most ardent 
aspirations, the luxury of doing good. 

" Resolved, That while, in the discharge of his 
present duties, it may be necessary for him to 
reside in the City of New- York, we shall at all 
times greet his return among us with grateful 

" Resolved, That the proceedings of this meet- 
ing be signed by the chairman and secretary of 
the same, and forwarded to the Rev. Dr. Proud- 
fit, and published. 

(Signed), " John Whiton, Chairman. 

" John M'Murray, Secretary.'' 

To this communication, so grateful to his feel- 
ings, coming as it did not merely from the peo- 
ple of his own charge, but also from persons con- 
nected with other branches of the Church, Dr. 
Proudfit sent the following reply : 

" Colonization Rooms, > 
" New-York, Dec. 10th, 1835. S 

" Gentlemen, 
"I have received and read, with no ordinary 


emotions, the resolutions adopted at your meet- 
ing on the 26th uU. The approbation of the 
honourable and the good is, to a generous mind, 
the highest reward of a temporal nature to which 
it can aspire. The very place where your meet- 
ing was held, a church connected with a differ- 
ent religious denomination, is an additional cir- 
cumstance enhancing in its value this testimony 
of esteem and affection, as it shows that in the 
present age, when dissensions are so mournfully 
disturbing the peace and dishonouring the name 
of the Christian Church, the ' unity of the spirit' 
has been so happily preserved among us. 

" Every wish for my personal welfare express- 
ed in your communication is cordially recipro- 
cated for you and yours ; and, indeed, not only 
for the citizens of Salem, but of the county of 
Washington, to whom, for their many testimonies 
of respect, I owe a debt of gratitude which can- 
not be cancelled in time. 

" My removal to another field of labour, which 
in your partiality you have pronounced a loss, 
did not arise from any want of attachment to 
you, or of solicitude for your interests, or from 
the prospect of increasing my temporal comfort, 
as I never anticipate happier days on earth than 
I enjoyed going in and out among you. I trust 
that I have been impelled by other and higher 
considerations in entering the station I now oc- 


cupy ; by motives of sympathy with afflicted Af- 
rica, whose children in both hemispheres have 
been scattered and peeled by the ruffian hand of 
unprincipled white men. I would consider it an 
unspeakable honour to be employed as the in- 
strument of advancing the interests of an insti- 
tution which, in my opinion, originated in the 
purest benevolence ; which, amid foul detraction, 
and unprovoked and unremitting opposition, has 
already succeeded in replacing on the shores of 
Africa thousands of her emancipated sons, and 
is yet destined, under the divine benediction, not 
only to meliorate the condition of her enslaved 
population among us, but ultimately to diffuse 
the blessings of civilization and Christianity 
among her native tribes. 

" Respected friends, for that large measure 
of comfort, personal and domestic, which I have 
long enjoyed, I feel deeply indebted to your pray- 
ers, and the highest favour which I have now to 
solicit is their continuance ; and ' that mercy, and 
grace, and peace may be multiplied on you,' and 
the churches with which you are respectively 
connected, is the unfeigned wish of your servant 
for Jesus' sake, 

(Signed), "Alexander Proudfit. 

*'To Rev. John Whiton, John M'Murray, Esq., Hon. John 
Crary, Messrs. W. A. Welles, Archibald M'Alister, and 
Rufus Coon." 


The correspondence between the session of 
the Church of Salem and Dr. Proudfit is of a 
somewhat later date than that of the proceed- 
ings already detailed. It may be proper to men- 
tion that this delay probably arose from the pe- 
cuUar circumstances of the congregation for 
about two years after the doctor's removal. 
The Rev. James Lillie was installed as successor 
about the close of the same year (1835) ; but, in 
the course of the ensuing summer, Mr. Lillie re- 
moved to Rhinebeck, having received and ac- 
cepted a call from the Reformed Dutch Church 
of that place. Another vacancy occurred, which 
continued until the settlement of the Rev. Eben- 
ezer Halley, in the autumn of 1838 ; and, at the 
first meeting of the session after his installation, 
the following letter, written by an excellent mem- 
ber, whose name occurs in an earlier part of 
this work, was unanimously adopted, and sent to 
their former pastor : 

" Salem, 17th September, 1838. 
" Rev. and dear Sir, 

" We, the elders of the Associate Reformed 
Church of Salem, at our first meeting under our 
present pastor, reflecting on all the ways in which 
the Lord our God hath led us and our fathers 
these many years in this wilderness, the afflic- 
tions we have endured, the evils we have felt or 
feared, and the deliverances we have experi- 


enced, are compelled to exclaim, ' the Lord hath 
done great things for us, whereof we are glad ; 
he hath remembered his mercy and his truth to- 
wards us ;' and while we would say, ' not unto us, 
O Lord ! not unto us, but unto thy name give 
glory, for thy mercy and thy truth's sake,' we 
would in nowise forget the instruments that he 
hath employed in doing his work ; and especial- 
ly we delight in the remembrance of your long 
and faithful labours among us ; ' we know after 
what manner you have been with us at all sea- 
sons, and have kept nothing back from us that 
was profitable to us, but have showed us, and 
have taught us publicly and from house to house, 
that by the space of more than forty years you 
have ceased not to warn every one night and 
day, with tears.' And not only while our con- 
nexion as pastor and people continued did we 
enjoy your ardent and unremitting exertions, but 
since that connexion was dissolved we have ex- 
perienced many tokens of affection and labours 
of love, of which we hope ever to retain a grate- 
ful recollection ; but we were especially grati- 
fied that it was so ordered by the Head of the 
Church that we should enjoy your labours and 
fellowship on the late occasion of our communion 
and the installation of our present pastor. It is 
indeed pleasing to reflect that our former belov- 
ed pastor, with whom we had so long taken sweet 


counsel together, and walked unto the house of 
God in company ; who had so long been deliv- 
ering to us messages of mercy, and breaking to 
us the bread of life ; under whose ministrations 
we have so often said, * it is good to be here,' 
should once more dispense unto us the memori- 
als of our Redeemer's death, and officially place 
over us the man of our choice as his successor. 
May the spirit of Elijah rest upon Elisha ! And 
now, we most fervently pray that your useful 
labours may be long continued ; that the even- 
ing of your days may be unclouded and serene ; 
and that, when at some remote period you shall 
have finished your course, you may receive your 
Divine Master's welcome, * well done, good and 
faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy 
Lord,' and ' having turned many to righteous- 
ness,' shine as a star in the kingdom of our com- 
mon Redeemer for ever and ever. With senti- 
ments of high esteem and cordial affection, we 
remain yours, in our common Lord, 
" Thomas Collins, John Beaty, 
" Isaac Getty, James B. Stevenson, 

" John M'Murray, David B. Thompson. 
" Thomas Stevenson, 
" To the Rev. Dr. Alexander Proudfit." 

Dr. Proudfit's reply to this affectionate letter 
is as follows : 


" New- York, October 16th, 1838. 
" Brethren very dearly Beloved, 
" With emotions which I have not language 
to express, I read your communication of Sep- 
tember 17th, and if I have been honoured in the 
least degree as the instrument of winning souls 
to the Saviour, or encouraging the weary pil- 
grim in his march to Zion, I hope you will unite 
with me in ascribing to sovereign mercy the un- 
divided glory. Merely to become partaker of' 
* so great salvation' incurs a debt of gratitude 
which the services of eternity cannot cancel. 
But how much is this debt enhanced by the addi- 
tional honour of becoming instrumental in bring- 
ing fellow-immortals to the participation of a 
boon so precious ? With much more propriety 
than even the apostle I may exclaim, ' to me, who 
am less than the least of all saints, is this grace 
given, that I might preach to fellows-sinners the 
unsearchable riches of Christ.' It is free grace 
which imparts the ministerial endowment ; it is 
grace which furnishes the organ to communi- 
cate this gift ; it is grace which presents an open- 
ing for the profitable exercise of the ministry, 
and it is grace which ultimately gives efficacy 
to our administration on the souls either of sin- 
ners or of saints. Whether the labours perform- 
ed by me have been in any degree useful among 
you, or to what extent, the day of final retribu- 

REV. DR. PllOUDFlT. 263 

tion will reveal ; yet Salem, with the Church of 
which you are ' the spiritual overseers/ never 
rises to my recollection without many and most 
delightful associations, as the residence where 
blessings were poured into my cup not to be 
enumerated in time. Probably few ministers 
in the militant Church were ever favoured with 
more uninterrupted peace, or a larger share of 
comfort, than I enjoyed during my continuance 
among you, and, therefore, every expression of 
respect and attachment to me, breathed in your 
letter, is most cordially reciprocated on my part 
to you and yours, and to all the Church. Forty- 
four years have elapsed this month since the 
commencement of my imperfect services in Sa- 
lem, and upon each retrospective survey of that 
long period I am truly lost in adoring wonder 
at the condescension and forbearance of my 
Master. How many duties have been omitted 
which might have been performed, and how 
much imperfection has attended those which I 
have attempted to discharge ? How much might 
I have done for my own spiritual profit by abound- 
ing more in devotional exercises, in prayer, in 
reading the Scriptures, and devout contemplation 
of the Saviour's fulness ? and how much might I 
have done for your edification by cultivating with 
greater diligence each ministerial gift, and preach- 
ing to you the Gospel with more simplicity, and 


sincerity, and fervour ; also by attention to the 
instruction of beloved youth ' in the things which 
involve their eternal peace V Yet, notwithstand- 
ing innumerable omissions, their spiritual nurture 
was not altogether neglected ; and entreat them, 
from me, * to remember him,' although absent, 
who has dispensed to many of them the ordi- 
nance of holy baptism, and has ' spoken to them, 
from their infancy, the word of the Lord ;' and 
let it be your prayer and mine that the incor- 
ruptible seed occasionally scattered among them 
in our family visitations and social conferences 
may be watered by the dews of divine grace, 
and in the Lord's good time spring up in their 
conversion and salvation. 

" You are pleased to speak of my fidelity * go- 
ing in and out among you.' I had illustrious ex- 
amples animating me to diligence in this work — 
my own venerable father, and the ever-to-be-re- 
vered Dr. Clark, my predecessors in the ministry ; 
and you also, my beloved brethren, in your sta- 
tion, are also ' encompassed about with a cloud 
of witnesses,' with those holy men who preceded 
you in the capacity of ruling elders. I am fully 
persuaded that, for any measure of comfort or 
success which may have accompanied my min- 
istry, I was greatly indebted to their prayers, 
and holy conversation, and diligence in visiting 
the flock. O, be entreated, then, bv all the solici- 


aide which you feel for your present respected 
pastor, and the edification of souls committed to 
his trust, to sustain him by frequency and fervour 
in the discharge of this duty ; be helpers to him 
by your prayers and countenance, as Aaron and 
Hur were to Moses: this will be of incompara- 
bly greater importance to him than any fulsome 
adulation of his person, or extravagant eulogi- 
ums on his public administrations. I would 
therefore respectfully recommend that you, the 
eldership, set apart an hour every fortnight, or 
every week, if consistent with other avocations, 
for the purpose of uniting your supplications 
for the divine blessing on him and his labours in 
the congregation. Such arrangements might, 
perhaps, interfere with the prosecution of your 
secular occupations, but this temporal loss would 
be overbalanced a thousand fold by the recep- 
tion of divine consolation in your own souls, and 
in the comfort and usefulness of ' him who is over 
vou in the Lord.' Then he will appear among 
you, both in the week and on the Sabbath, a 
burning and a shining light, and you and others 
will rejoice in his light. Often recollect those 
venerable men who preceded you in the station 
of ruling elders : they founded that Church in the 
wilderness, and afterward fostered it with their 
prayers and untiring exertions, and to you, their 
successors in office, it is now committed. Cher- 


ish by your prayers, by your diligence in * going 
in and out among the people/ the sacred trust. 
Your fathers and mine, who once superintended 
that flock, are now singing together ' the song 
of Moses and of the Lamb' — I cannot entertain 
a doubt in relation to either of them — and if we 
are faithful to our Lord, we will soon meet them 
in that world where ' sorrow and sighing are 
done away ;' where ' they who minister and 
they who are ministered unto' shall rejoice to- 
gether, and * God will be all in all.' 

" I have already exceeded the limits prescri- 
bed for this letter, and perhaps have trespassed 
on your patience, but I cannot do justice to my 
own feelings without appropriating the language 
of Paul on a similar occasion : ' O ye Corinthi- 
ans, our mouth is open to you, our heart is en- 
larged.' Finally, brethren, farewell ; be perfect, 
be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace ; 
and that the God of love and peace may dwell 
in your hearts, and houses, and every family of 
that Church, which is still embalmed in my warm- 
est affections, is the prayer of your former pas- 
tor and present unfeigned friend, 

" Alexander Proudfit. 
- To Thomas Collins, Isaac Getty, John M'Murray, Thomas 

Stevenson, John Beaty, James B. Stevenson, David B. 


11 Ev. DR. pKouDirr. 207 

" This letter, if you think proper, may be read 
to the congregation, with an earnest desire for 
an interest in your prayers and theirs." 

The preceding correspondence affords a beau- 
tiful illustration of those words of the apostle, 
Heb., xiii. : * remember them who have had the 
rule over you, who have spoken unto you the 
word of God/ To be thus affectionately re- 
membered at the close of a long period of faith- 
ful service, or when called to remove into some 
other part of the Lord's vineyard, is, however, 
by no means the lot of all the ministers of Christ. 
Not a few have gone down to the grave in sor- 
row, produced by the ingratitude of those to 
whom they had spoken the word of God ; while 
in other cases, the remembrance of the good 
which they had been the instruments of accom- 
plishing has been entirely obliterated by vexa- 
tion at their removal to other spheres. 

During the summer of 1839 there was a fam- 
ily reunion at Salem, in the pleasant old family 
mansion, which can never be forgotten by those 
who ever had the happiness of enjoying the hos- 
pitality of which, for so many years, it was the 
seat. The fact is thus noticed and improved by 
its venerable head : 

''Salem, August 2d, 1839. After a long sep- 
aration from each other, the different membei's 


of my family are here — Mrs. P., my children, 
with the exception of one, and all my grand-chil- 
dren ; and we are here crowned with every cir- 
cumstance of comfort which this world can af- 
ford ; they are all in the enjoyment of health . 
my dear grand-children are favoured with the 
various senses of the body in perfection, and with 
rational powers susceptible of improvement 
under the divine blessing. And now. Lord, as 
thou hast in much mercy endowed them with 
these external advantages, wilt thou not impart 
to them the more excellent gift, even the unction 
of the Holy Ghost ? They have been all bapti- 
zed with water — may they all be taught of thy 
Spirit, and honoured to be useful in their gener- 
ation. Thou knowest. Lord, that the highest 
glory I ask in their behalf is that they may be 
instrumental in promoting thy glory in the gen- 
eration in which their lot is cast ; when my lips 
are sealed in the silence of the grave, may theirs 
be employed in celebrating thy praise, in vindi- 
cating thy cause, and in recommending to fel- 
low-sinners the great salvation purchased by thy 
dear Son. I ask not for either of them the hon- 
our, or the wealth, or the pleasures of the pres- 
ent world, but oh ! that each of them may be 
enabled to choose, with Mary, the good part 
which shall never be taken away, and to spend 
and be spent for thee. This I consider their most 


Encumbent duty, their highest glory ; and I know, 
from long experience, that it is their greatest, 
their only happiness. O Lord, thou wilt have 
a seed to serve thee so long as the sun and moon 
endure, and is it too much to plead this honour 
in their behalf? Thy grace has given the prom- 
ise, ' I will pour my blessing upon thy seed, and 
my Spirit upon thine offspring ;' ' my Spirit, which 
is upon thee, and my words, which I have put 
in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, 
nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the 
mouth of thy seeds' seed, from henceforth even 
forever.' And these promises I now plead, as 
they are yea and amen in our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Thou hast given thy Spirit to my forefathers du- 
ring generations past ; wilt thou not, also, in 
thine abundant mercy, give it to my dear off- 
spring through generations which may follow 
me ? 

" I anticipated much pleasure in the prospect 
of having my children collected under the roof 
where I had spent about forty years of my pil- 
grimage, in the enjoyment of a measure of hap- 
piness rarely exceeded or equalled in this world 
of trial ; and although my cup is now overflow- 
ing with blessings, yet I find a want, a vacuity 
in every earthly enjoyment. When will I learn 
to cease from the creature, and rejoice exclusive- 
ly in the Creator ? When will I learn, with the 
Z 2 


same emotions, to appropriate tiie language of 
the prophet ? ' The Lord is my portion, saith my 
soul, therefore will I trust in him. Whom have 
I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon 
the earth that I desire besides thee. Thy fa- 
vour, O Lord, is life, and thy loving-kindness is 
better than life' Health, wealth, reputation, 
friends, and all things terrestrial, are streams 
which may soon be dried up, or cisterns which 
may suddenly be broken or imbittered ; but in 
the fellowship of thy love and in the consola- 
tions of thy covenant there are joys substantial 
and satisfying — a portion large as our desires, 
and lasting as our duration — fulness of joy, and 
pleasures forever more." 

Amid the din and bustle incident to a resi- 
dence in such a city as New- York, and the dis- 
tracting cares and outdoor labours of the new 
office into which Dr. Proud fit had entered, he 
still preserved those habits of meditation on Di- 
vine things, and that fondness for social prayer 
by which he had been distinguished while a ru- 
ral pastor. We give one extract from the diary 
in confirmation of this statement, and also be- 
cause it contains a notice of a kind of prayer- 
meeting, the value of which, it is feared, is but 
little understood by Christians. 

'' NeiV'York, November Gih, 1839. Agreed 
with two Christian friends to spend this fore- 


noon in the exercises of fasting, humiliation, and 

" 1st. In making confession of all our sins, and 
in exercising repentance and humiliation on ac- 
count of them ; these sins we acknowledge to be 
innumerable, both private and public, the omis- 
sions of duty, and the cold, formal discharge of 
it. Ps. xxxii., 5, 51. 

" 2d. In looking to a covenant God for the re- 
mission of all our trespasses, that in the riches 
of his grace he v^ould pardon them through the 
merits of that Jesus in whom he can be just, 
and the justifier of those who believe in him ; 
that for his sake all our transgressions, however 
multiplied or aggravated, may be forgiven, and 
not be visited upon us or ours in the infliction of 
judgments either temporal or spiritual. Micah, 
vii., 18, 19. Rom., iii., 24, 25. 

*' 3d. In supplication that God would prosper 
his work in every part of the world, that he 
would send the means of salvation where they 
are not enjoyed, and follow them with his bless- 
ing where they have been already extended ; that 
he would raise up other labourers for gathering 
in the harvest, and hasten on the period when, 
in every place, incense shall be offered, and a 
pure oflfering. Luke, xi., 9. Habk., iii., 2. 

" 4th. That he would undertake the manage- 
ment of all our interests, and especially of that 


matter in which these two friends are more im- 
mediately concerned. Read over Philip., iv., 6 ; 
1 Peter, v., 7 ; Luke, xii., 6, 7, and other por- 
tions of Scripture authorizing us to cast all our 
cares upon our heavenly Father ; also read He- 
brews, 1st chapter; Daniel, 9th, and other in- 
stances in which the Lord, in answer to special 
prayer, had interposed for his children, and 
wrought deliverance in their behalf. 

" 5th. In prayer that, wherein these friends in 
Christ may have erred in the matter referred to, 
the Lord may pardon ; that, wherein others may 
have had a sinful instrumentahty in injuring them, 
the Lord would grant repentance — Job, xlii., 10 ; 
and that the hand of God may be seen in the 
final issue of the affair, so that glory may result 
to him, and the faith of his children may be con- 

" 6th. That the God of Providence would 
open doors of usefulness and comfort for these 
Christian friends, and that this afflictive dispen- 
sation may be overruled for their spiritual profit. 
' The wrath of man shall praise thee, and the 
remainder of that wrath thou wilt restrain.' 
* We know that all things shall work together 
for good to them that love him.' 
" Order to he observed in our social meeting for 

prayer with the friends formerly mentioned. 

" 1st. Read a variety of verses which prom- 


ise the Divine presence on such occasions. Ex., 
XX., 24. Matt., xviii., 26. Acts, xvi., 25. 

"2d. To read over some scriptures which 
furnish a warrant for approaching God in the 
hour of affliction, as able and wiHing to give re- 
hef. Ps. ix., 9, 10 ; 1., 15. 

" 3d. To read various promises which secure 
a happy issue to every dark dispensation, when, 
by faith and prayer, we look to the Lord for the 
sanctified use of it. Isai., xlix., 23. Lam., iii., 
25, 26. Ps. xxxi., 15. 

" 4th. Read over passages in the Bible which 
show the absolute supremacy and dominion of 
God over all agents and elements. Ps. ciii., 
cxv., cxxxv. 

" 5th. Concluded with reading remarkable in- 
terpositions of Divine providence, as related by 
Flavel and others." 

Besides the meeting referred to in the prece- 
ding extract, there was another, consisting of the 
members of a few Christian families in the im- 
mediate vicinity of his residence. It was small, 
unobtrusive, unknown, except to the few who 
were accustomed to attend ; and often have we 
heard some friends speak of the delightful hours 
spent in that little praying circle, where all were 
acquainted and sympathized with each other. 
We would not underrate the value of the more 
formal assemblies for social devotion ; thev are 


a most important means of holding back that tide 
of worldhness to whose inflowing the Church, in 
cm' large towns and cities, is pecuharly expo- 
sed. At the same time, we believe that unspeak- 
able additional advantages would result to the 
Church if Christian neighbours would only act 
upon that precious promise of the Redeemer, 
" Whatsoever any two of you shall agree to ask, 
it shall be done of my Father who is in heaven." 
The success of a meeting for prayer is not de- 
pendant upon the largeness of the number pres- 
ent at it ; yet how prevalent is the feeling among 
Christian congregations that, when the attend- 
ance at such meetings is greatly reduced, the 
meetings themselves might as well be abandon- 
ed. Such was not the sentiment of Dr. Proud- 
fit : he often observed, when quoting the prom-. 
ise already mentioned, and which might be call- 
ed one of his favourite passages, that the num- 
ber stated in this divine encouragement to social 
pi'ayer was the lowest possible. 

While in the service of the Colonization So- 
ciety, Dr. Proudfit was necessarily compelled to 
make frequent journeys to different and distant 
parts of the state. The following extracts of 
the diary are introduced, not merely to show 
with what diligence he laboured to maintain in 
all places a spiritual frame of mind, but also for 
the light they cast on the subject of Christian 
experience : 


^\January \Sth, 1837. Have resolved to set 
apart this forenoon for fasting and special prayer, 

" 1st. That the Lord, in his mercy, would 
give me more of his 'Spirit, and prosper his 
Vfork in my own soul, and thus render me more 
extensively useful in his Church and my gener- 
ation. Ps. Ixviii., 18, 19. Luke, xi., 9-13. 

" 2d. That he would communicate the Spir- 
it, in his sanctifying influences, to many of the 
youth in our country, and particularly to those 
who have enjoyed the advantages of a liberal 
education, and prepare them to go forth as la- 
bourers for gathering in the harvest. Matt., ix., 
37, 38. 

" 3d. That he would arrest the progress of 
error in his Church, and restore to her, in its 
purity, that faith which was once delivered to 
the saints. 

" 4th. That he would bless abundantly all 
those means which have been devised for send- 
ing the gospel among the nations, and hasten 
the glory of the millennial day. 

" New-York, February Sd, 1839. Have been 
unusually distressed through the day with a heart 
deceitful, and prone to wander from that God 
who is worthy of my undivided affections ; it is 
more uncontrollable a thousand fold than the 
winds of heaven or the waves of ocean ; often 
have I aimed at fastening my attention on some 


promise of the gospel, or some perfection of God, 
or some excellence of the Saviour, or some of- 
fice of the Spirit, but instantaneously and irre- 
sistibly, some vain, worldly thought has darted 
in, and interrupted my spiritual peace. The 
good that I would, I do not, and the evil that I 
would not, that I do. Surely, with greater pro- 
priety, with deeper emotions of shame and sor- 
row than the prophet, I may exclaim, * The 
heart is deceitful above all things, and despe- 
rately wicked : who can know it V There is a 
mystery of iniquity remaining within me, which 
none but an omniscient God can explore ; an 
abyss of depravity, which none but he can fath- 
om or comprehend. I have been long in the 
school of Christianity ; many golden opportuni- 
ties I have enjoyed for receiving instruction ; 
many resolutions I have formed for keeping my 
heart with greater diligence : but how slow has 
been my progress in the attainment of knowl- 
edge ; how inconsiderable my advancement in 
holiness — in love to God, and devotion to his 
service. Truly I am a babe in Christ, less than 
the least of all saints — a most unprofitable la- 
bourer in his vineyard." 

" Oxford, Chenango county, September \2th, 
1839. Visited this village in behalf of the Col- 
onization Society, and to-day have been much 
indisposed, but found a great degree of submis- 


sion to the will of my heavenly Father ; could 
say w^ith filial resignation, Lord, not my will, but 
thine be done ; was enabled to rejoice in Jeho- 
vah in all the infinite perfections of his nature ; 
in his almighty power, which could raise me up 
from this bed with infinite ease ; in his unchan- 
ging love, which is never alienated for a moment 
from the children whom his grace has adopted ; 
in his unerring wisdom, which knows when to 
humble me, and when to exalt — in what manner 
to correct, and how long to continue the correc- 
tion ; in his mercy, which, with more than the 
tenderness of a father, sympathizes with his chil- 
dren in all their afflictions. Here I am alone, 
far from my dear family and friends, but en- 
joy most comfortable reflections on Jesus, my 
kinsman, who sits, in my nature and name, at 
the right hand of his Father and my Father, who 
knows my frame, a feeble, insignificant reptile 
of creation, less than an atom compared with 
those suns and worlds without number which he 
is now sustaining and governing. Bless the 
Lord, O my soul, for all that he has revealed 
of his attention to the circumstances of his peo- 
ple, and for all that I have experienced of his 
love and his faithfulness to his covenant." 

" Utica, September 29th, 1839. After a jour- 
ney to the West in the cause of colonization, 
reached this city last evening in health, although 
A A 


threatened on the 12th with an attack of fever, 
and felt constrained to renew my expressions 
of gratitude for my innumerable mercies, espe- 
cially for the visible interposition of the Divine 
arm in my restoration to health. Truly, Lord, 
thou hast not dealt with me after my sins, nor 
rewarded me according to my iniquities. When 
I take a view of my heart, deceitful above all 
things, and of my life, so unprofitably spent, my 
proneness to indulge a spirit of pride under ev- 
ery smile of Providence, and either to despond 
or murmur under every apparent frown, I am 
really overwhelmed with astonishment at the 
Divine forbearance. I can truly say that I be- 
lieve there is not a being in the universe to whom 
a sovereign God has exercised such long-suffer- 
ing ; a being more distinguished by mercies, and 
yet more ungrateful and unprofitable in the en- 
joyment of them ; none has more abundant 
cause now, or can have through eternity, to sing 
aloud of his forbearing, forgiving, supporting, 
and comforting mercy. But, O my Lord, the 
most acceptable sacrifices to thee are a broken 
spirit, a contrite heart thou wilt not despise ; 
and this brokenness, this contrition of spirit I 
now offer thee, through Jesus the mediator. Ac- 
cept of me as I am, accept of my body, and 
strengthen it for thy service ; accept of my soul, 
and enlighten it to comprehend more fully the 


mysteries of thy character, and Word, and Prov- 
idence ; may it be more purified in all its pow- 
ers, and motives, and desires ; accept of my du- 
ties, however imperfectly performed, and ren- 
der them subservient to the advancement of thy 

" ' Lord ! I am thine, forever thine, 
Nor shall my purpose move ; 
Thy hand hath loosed my bonds of pain, 
And bound me with thy love.' " 

"Kingshoroughj Montgomery county, November 
22d, 1841. Visited this village in behalf of the 
Colonization Society. On Sabbath morning felt 
great earnestness in prayer for the Divine pres- 
ence in the sanctuary ; afterward experienced 
much freedom in preaching from Psalm xvii., 15, 
* I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy like- 
ness ;' and have since understood that the dis- 
course was refreshing to the souls of many. Oh, 
what a debtor I am to rich, sovereign, abound- 
ing grace ! it is grace which gives the dis- 
position to ask the blessing ; it is grace which 
imparts strength of body and the exercise of 
the memory to recollect Divine truth, and it 
is grace which renders the message effectual, 
either to the sinner for his conversion, or to the 
saint for his consolation and support. On the 
evening of the Sabbath, attended a conference 
meeting, when we had satisfactory evidence of 
the Lord's presence, both in the exercises of con- 


versation and prayer. I was disposed to ex- 
claim secretly, with Peter on the mount, ' It is 
good to be here ;' or with Jacob in the wilder- 
ness, * This is no other than the house of God 
and the gate of heaven.' If the service of God 
is so delightful amid all our imperfections, our 
blindness of mind, the coldness of our hearts, 
and wandering imagination, who can conceive 
the joys which will attend the services of the up- 
per sanctuary, where we shall be equal to the 
angels — where, like them, we shall see without 
a cloud, and enjoy without interruption ? 

" ' There we shall see his face, 
And never, never sin, 
And from the rivers of his grace 
Drink endless pleasures in ;' 

and unless I am cherishing a false hope, this per- 
fection of enjoyment must shortly be realized. 
I have advanced so far through the wilderness 
that I must soon, very soon, pass over Jordan, 
when I hope to reach the promised Canaan. 

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, that while so many 
much younger than I have gone to the land of 
silence, I am yet spared, and honoured with 
health and strength to speak and act for him." 

^^New-Brunswick, December Idth, 1841. Set 
apart some time this morning for prayer and 
meditation ; reflected with unfeigned gratitude 
on all that goodness which had so eminently fol- 
lowed me during a long journey through this 


wilderness, now filled with briers and thorns in 
consequence of sin ; where there are, on the 
right hand and on the left, so many devious 
paths by which we are in danger of going 
astray, and where the devil, as a roaring lion, is 
ready to meet and destroy us at every step. 
Endeavoured to commit all my children to that 
forbearing and gracious God by whose tender 
mercies my own lot through life had been so 
distinguished. O Lord, are they not thine own 
offspring, created by thee, and for thy glory, 
and wilt thou not have compassion on the work 
of thine own hands ? Were they not early de- 
voted to thee in baptism, thine own ordinance ? 
Have I not aimed, according to the wisdom 
given me, to bring them up in thy fear, and for 
thy service ? Has it not been my supreme solici- 
tude that they might all be partakers of thy mer- 
cy through Jesus Christ, and be employed in 
their several stations for promoting thy kingdom 
in the earth ? and therefore I look this morning, 
in all humility, for the fulfilment of the promise. 
Daniel, xxx., 6. I also commend to thy blessing 
that enterprise in which I am still occupied for 
colonizing our people of colour on the coast of 
Africa, and sending through these colonies the 
treasures of our Divine religion to the benight- 
ed tribes of that continent. I now commit ev- 
ery colony, and each family in each colony, and 
A A 2 


the missionaries of all denominations who are 
labouring among them, to the protection of the 
God of providence ; may their lives and health, 
and all that interests them, be precious in thy 
sight ; and oh ! that more labourers may be 
speedily raised up for entering that and other 
regions where the fields are becoming white for 
the harvest." 

Of the labours of Dr. Proudfit for the advance- 
ment of the cause of African colonization, it will 
not be necessary to say much ; the nature of the 
work itself is too well known to need explana- 
tion, and the flourishing condition in which he 
left the particular institution with which he was 
connected is the best evidence of the success of 
his exertions. We are well aware of the great 
difference of opinion which obtains, and has ex- 
isted for years past, respecting the merits of this 
institution. Not a few have denounced it in 
unmeasured terms as one of the greatest obsta- 
cles in the way of the emancipation of the Amer- 
ican slave, and, at the same time, as a scheme 
that never had been nor could be productive of 
any real good to Africa. A full discussion of this 
subject would not at all comport with our main 
design in the preparation of this memoir ; and it 
is the less necessary, inasmuch as the active op- 
position to the society has of late very much 
abated, though the feelings which prompted it 


are by no means extinct. This much, howev- 
er, ought to be said, that while Dr. Proudfit, in 
common with many of our most eminent phi- 
lanthropists, looked upon the colonization scheme 
as a valuable one, since it opened to the Ameri- 
can slave the door to immediate freedom, he, at 
the same time, regarded Africa as the great field 
of labour and of influence. In his judgment, it 
combined the double character of an emancipa- 
tion and a missionary institution ; the colonists 
were, with rare exceptions, emancipated slaves ; 
and though it were vain for any one to expect 
that these colonists individually would all as- 
sume the character, or do the work of the Chris- 
tian missionary, yet he did believe very strong- 
ly that the influence of the Liberian Colony is a 
most healthful one. Besides its influence upon 
the tribes in its immediate vicinity, it formed a 
basis of aggressive operations against both the 
slave trade and the paganism of Central Africa. 
Such were the views with which Dr. Proudfit 
engaged in the service of the Colonization So- 
ciety ; he looked upon himself as labouring for 
the benefit of the long-down-trodden children of 
Ham, for the promotion of a scheme which tend- 
ed to diffuse throughout the African Continent 
the inestimable blessings of Christianity and civ- 

In 1841 he was desirous of retirins: from 


the office of secretary, and tendered his resig- 
nation to the committee, but, at their urgent re- 
quest, he was induced to continue in the work 
until near the close of the succeeding year. The 
affairs of the society, by the Divine blessing 
upon his labours, had been placed upon a satis- 
factory footing, and he therefore sent to the 
committee the following letter, which is here 
introduced because it exhibits fully his views of 
the general subject, and the aspects in which he 
was accustomed to contemplate it : 

" At a meeting of the Executive Committee 
of the New- York State Colonization Society, 
held ^t the Colonization Rooms, February 13th, 
1841, the corresponding secretary having ten- 
dered his resignation, it was unanimously re- 
solved that it be laid on the table, when a reply 
was presented by Dr. Reese, with a resolution 
that these documents be published under the di- 
rection of the committee. They are here sub- 
joined ; 

" Colonization Rooms, » 

" New- York, January 28th, 1841. \ 

" Respected Friend, 
" Through you, as Chairman of the Executive 
Committee of the New- York State Colonization 
Society, I herewith tender my resignation as 
their corresponding secretary from the 10th of 
May ensuing, when the sixth year of my connex- 


ion with the board will be completed. While 
I adopt this resolution to retire, I wish it to be 
distinctly understood that my confidence in the 
practicability and excellence of the scheme re- 
mains undiminished. I may rather assert that 
with each revolving year we have accumulating 
evidence of the magnitude of its results, both as 
they refer to our own coloured people, who 
compose the settlements on the coast of Africa, 
and also the interior tribes of that continent. It 
is well known that the custom of colonizing is 
nearly coeval with the history of the human 
race, and has been incorporated in some degree 
with the progress of society from the earliest 
ages of the world. In every period of time, as 
men began to multiply on the face of the earth, 
we have seen them associating in little groups, 
and migrating to other regions for the purpose 
of improving their condition, either temporal or 
spiritual. The city of Carthage, which became 
the rival of Rome, was founded by a little col- 
ony from Phoenicia, in the East. Athens, the 
birthplace of Demosthenes, and the distinguish- 
ed nursery of literature and the sciences, was 
founded by an inconsiderable colony from Egypt, 
under the auspices of Cecrops as their leader ; 
and this continent, where an asylum is opened 
for the oppressed of all nations, was settled by 
colonies coming in succession from the Old 


World ; but in consulting the whole history of 
colonization during the lapse of ages, we can- 
not, in my opinion, point out an instance in which 
this enterprise incurred less expense, or_ experi- 
enced less disaster, or enjoyed more obviously 
and eminently the smiles of an approving Prov- 
idence, than the project of colonizing, with their 
own consent, our people of colour on the soil 
of their ancestors ; and certainly in no instance 
can the object recommend itself more powerful- 
ly to the feelings of the philanthropist or the 
Christian. Whether it be regarded as involv^- 
ing the interests of humanity by meliorating the 
miseries of an injured portion of the divine off- 
spring, or of religion by opening an * immeasu- 
rable field' for the spread of the gospel, perhaps 
a scheme more interesting was never conceived 
in the bosom of man. Can we imagine a no- 
bler design — one either more benevolent or mag- 
nificent, than the erection of these republics of 
coloured freemen on a distant, barbarous shore, 
with all the immunities of an American citizen ? 
And by whom is this interesting enterprise car- 
ried on ? Not by the powerful patronage of 
government, but by the munificence of individ- 
uals — individuals who, with a few exceptions, 
were never chargeable with holding a fellow- 
being in bondage ; thus, from motives of the pu- 
rest sympathy, and by the sacrifice of much 


money and time, they are elevating the man of 
colour from his present degradation, and resto- 
ring him to that position in the family of nations 
from v^^hich he has been torn unrelentingly to 
gratify the avarice or ambition of the unprinci- 
pled white man. But the plan which you are 
prosecuting appears still more interesting in the 
estimation of the Christian, when he contem- 
plates these colonies as a medium through which 
the light of immortality and life is dawning on 
a continent with more than a hundred millions 
of immortal beings. In whatever light, there- 
fore, we regard the enterprise in which you 
have embarked, it appears entitled to aYi hon- 
ourable rank among those institutions which 
adorn this age of benevolent action ; and I am 
fully persuaded that this group of Christian re- 
publics, composed of free people of colour, will 
remain a monument to the honour of American 
piety, and patriotism, and philanthropy, when 
those who first projected and who now patro- 
nise it have gone to give in the final account of 
their stewardship. 

" But, however interesting I regard the plan, 
or however confident I feel of its ultimate tri- 
umph, I am constrained to resign my connexion 
with the society. I have now passed the limit 
prescribed as the ordinary period of human life, 
and therefore desire to spend the residue of my 


days in a manner more retired, and with a more 
direct reference to that long eternity which can- 
not be far distant. 

" Therefore, with grateful recollection of the 
prompt and cordial co-operation of you and 
your associates in the execution of every meas- 
ure which promises to advance the common 
cause, and with fervent wishes for your success 
in its future prosecution, I bid you an affection- 
ate farewell. Permit me to add, that I must be 
chargeable with inexcusable ingratitude, did I 
omit, on the present occasion, to express my ob- 
ligations to many, very many in this city, and in 
every part of this state, and of other states which 
I have visited, for the generous support which 
they have given to our society. They appear 
sensible of the injuries which have been inflict- 
ed on the offspring of Ham by our own nation, 
and by others ; and for the purpose of repairing 
these wrongs, they have contributed with a de- 
gree of liberality honourable to themselves, and 
the cause, and the country. Without the least 
hesitation, I may assert of some, as the apostle 
testifies to the honour of the Macedonian Church, 
* that to their power, yea, and beyond their pow- 
er, they were willing to communicate ;' and that, 
through the riches of Divine grace, we may all 
meet in that w^orld where every ' labour of love' 
will receive its ample reward, and ' they who 


SOW and they who reap shall rejoice together, 
is the prayer of your friend and fellow-labourer 
in the cause of Africa's redemption, 

"Alexander Proudfit, 
" Cor. Sechj. N. Y. State Coloniz. Society. 
<• Anson G. Phelps, Esq." 

To this letter the committee replied in the fol- 
lowing terms : 

" Rev. and dear Sir, 

" The undersigned, members of the Executive 
Committee of the New- York State Colonization 
Society, having received and read your affec- 
tionate letter, containing the tender of your res- 
ignation as our Corresponding Secretary on and 
after the 10th of May ensuing, beg leave to re- 
spond thereto by presenting to your notice the 
considerations which, as they respectfully sub- 
mit, should be influential with yourself in indu- 
cing you to reconsider your proposed resigna- 
tion, and to consent to our unanimous wish by 
continuing in the service of the society and of 
the colonization cause. 

" For nearly six years you have been most 
intimately associated with us in your official ca- 
pacity, and by your indefatigable exertions, your 
prudent counsels, and successful appeals in be- 
half of our society, our holy and noble cause, so 
long the object of your affections and prayers, 
19 B B 


has been greatly prospered and advanced ; your 
name and character having thus become identi- 
fied with colonization in our own and other 
states, the friends and patrons of the cause have 
continued to make you the chosen almoner of 
their bounty, and, in your, retirement from the 
station you have so long and usefully filled, they 
would feel it to be a privation not to see you or 
hear from you as heretofore in the honoured 
work of Africa's redemption. 

" Notwithstanding the good old age which 
you urge as the reason of your retirement, it has 
pleased a gracious Providence thus to prolong 
your days in the midst of * labours more abun- 
dant,' and bestow upon you a degree of health 
and strength, at your advanced period of life, 
such as is allotted to few. Your friends may 
record of you as was written of Moses, the lead- 
er of the ancient colonization hosts, even beyond 
the age of threescore years and ten, ' your eye 
has not become dim, neither is your natural 
force abated.' Hence you have been enabled 
to conduct the affairs of the society with strict 
economy, and collect nearly eighty thousand 
dollars for the Colonization Society during the 
six years of your official service ; and this, too, 
during a season of unparalleled commercial dis- 
tress and financial embarrassment, by which ev- 
ery department of benevolence had been hinder- 


ed and curtailed for lack of pecuniary means. 
Nor can we forget that the period of your la- 
bours in our service has included that in which 
our cause has suffered the most formidable and 
systematic opposition at home, and the most 
grievous disasters abroad which have ever oc- 
curred in the history of Liberia ; but still the 
good hand of the Lord has been with you and 
with us, and through your instrumentality, under 
the Divine blessing, the State of New- York has, 
during the six years past, contributed a greater 
amount of money to the purposes of colonization 
than all the other free states of this entire con- 

" Under these circumstances, we, your breth- 
ren and fellow-labourers in the cause of Africa 
and her children, most affectionately and earnest- 
ly desire that you may withhold the communi- 
cation of your resignation at the ensuing annual 
meeting, and that you will continue to sustain, 
as heretofore, the relation of our corresponding 
secretary, while a beneficent Providence shall 
still spare your useful life, and endow you with 
strength, as at present, to perform its arduous 
and important duties. 

" Should increasing age and infirmity render 
it desirable at any time to provide you addition- 
al assistance in your office, the committee will 
promptly respond to your wishes in this respect ; 


but we cannot forbear to repeat our reluctance 
to lose your valuable services to our cause, and 
our ardent wishes that you may still find it con- 
sistent with your future arrangements to retain 
the office you hold, and favour us with your la- 
bours, your counsels, and your prayers. With 
sentiments of high regard and sincere Christian 
affection, we subscribe ourselves most respect- 
fully your friends and brothers, 

" Anson G. Phelps, Gabriel P. Disosway, 
Thos. C.DoREMUs, David M. Reese, 
Thos. De Witt, Moses Allen." 
James M. Goold, 

The last visit which Dr. Proudfit made to 
Washington county was in the autumn of 1842. 
On this occasion he spent a communion Sabbath 
in Argyle, a parish adjacent to that of Salem, 
and of which the Rev. George Mairs, one of Dr. 
Proudfit's oldest fellow-presbyters and friends, 
had been for many years the minister.*' We 

* Mr. Mairs was minister of Argyle for almost half a century. 
He died in 1841, and his character is well drawn in a sermon 
preached by Mr. Halley, of Salem, on the Sabbath succeeding his 
decease. Though his name was but little known in the theolo- 
gical world, it will long be precious in Argyle. The Book of 
Psalms was a special favourite of his, and few could equal him in 
practical edifying exposition of those divine songs. He excelled 
on communion occasions ; one of his sacramental addresses was 
pronounced by Dr. J. M. Mason to be one of the finest specimens 
of eloquence to which he had ever listened. He was an Israelite, 
indeed, in whom was no guile 


have been favoured with an interesting account 
of this visit by the present worthy minister of 
Argyle, the Rev. George Mairs, Jr., which we 
cannot do better than to give in his own words : 
" Dr. Proudfit's last visit to this place was rath- 
er providential ; he came to Salem on his return 
from a journey to Western New- York, and there 
heai'd that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
was to be dispensed in our church on the follow- 
ing Sabbath. He at once concluded (as he sub- 
sequently informed me) to unite with us in that 
ordinance, supposing that it might be for the last 
time in this place, and just so it happened. He 
entered our church on Saturday (very unex- 
pectedly to us all) during the time of service ; 
at a proper time I requested him to engage in 
the concluding services of the day, dispense the 
tokens, and address intended communicants — 
duties which I would not have invited any oth- 
er man on earth to perform so long as I enjoyed 
health. The doctor at once complied, and the 
kind, affectionate, and able manner in which he 
spoke to the members of the church will, I have 
no doubt, be long kept by them in lively remem- 
brance. Our good people, indeed, felt that a 
spiritual father was before them, and every sen- 
tence that fell from his lips was listened to with 
the deepest attention, and, I trust, not without 
self-application. After returning home in the 


evening, I informed the doctor, that although I 
was prepared for the duties of the Sabbath, yet 
I wished him to take whatever part of the ser- 
vices would be most agreeable to himself. His 
reply I shall always remember : ' feeling that it 
might be the last time on earth that he would 
be favoured with an opportunity of meeting 
with a people for whom he cherished the kind- 
est feelings of regard, he would cheerfully com- 
ply with my request, and discharge all those 
duties which his bodily strength would war- 

" He preached the action sermon from Psalm 
xvii., 15, ' I shall be satisfied when I awake with 
thy likeness ;' he officiated at four of the table 
services, and made the concluding address. 
Throughout the whole day he was unusually 
animated and earnest ; he has always been a 
great favourite in this congregation, but the ser- 
vices of this day raised him (if possible) still 
higher in their esteem. The excellence of the 
sermon is a subject of remark among our peo- 
ple until this day, and the concluding parting 
address was so seasonable, appropriate, and 
touching, that it drew forth floods of tears from 
the eyes of many of our fathers and mothers in 
Israel. It was truly the closing scene of his 
useful life in the midst of this people. The 
evening of the Sabbath he spent under my roof, 


and I believe we all felt that our home was a 
Bethel. After repeatedly engaging in prayer, 
praise, and religious conversation, the doctor 
took our little ones by the hand one by one, and, 
in the most feeling manner, addressed himself 
to each by name, selecting, at the same time, 
subjects, and using language adapted to their 
capacity. He left us on the following day with 
our best wishes, and hoping again to meet him 
in the body, but a righteous God determined 
otherwise. Let me die the death of the righte- 
ous, and let my last end be like his." 

The succeeding Sabbath was spent among 
the people of his former charge, and he thus ex- 
presses his feelings in view of its solemn servi- 
ces — the last which he was ever permitted to 
perform among them. 

" Salem, Saturday, November 5th, 1842. I 
have the prospect of preaching to-morrow to 
this dear people, to whom I long sustained the 
relation of a spiritual overseer in the Lord, and 
upon a retrospective view of days which are 
past, how much do I recollect which may call 
forth the language of thanksgiving, and how 
much to humble me in my Master's presence ! 
How little, comparatively, did I feel the awful 
responsibility of the trust ! How rarely, in ad- 
dressing them from the pulpit, did I realize as I 
ought that each hearer was an immortal being. 


and must soon, very soon occupy either a man- 
sion in heaven, with angels and the spirits of just 
men made perfect, where there is fulness of joy, 
or be tormented in hell without abatement or 
end ! How often — to my shame be it acknowl- 
edged — have I preached my own insignificant 
self rather than Him whom the hosts of heaven 
admire, and who is the only hope of the perish- 
ing sinner — seeking their momentary applause 
rather than their soul's everlasting salvation ! 
Thou wouldst have been just, insulted Saviour, 
in confounding me before them for such daring 
presumption ; but, having obtained mercy, I iaint 
not, and am yet honoured to appear as thine 
ambassador, and have the prospect of proclaim- 
ing to them once more thine own unsearchable 
riches. Wilt thou condescend, blessed Master, 
to aid me on the present occasion 1 Oh, for thy 
Spirit to shed light upon my understanding, 
W'hich must Otherwise remain dark, and with 
his influences to enliven and expand a heart 
contracted and cold ! Oh, for the tongue of the 
learned, that I may speak a word in season to 
all who attend ! Often, often have I felt thy 
power and seen thy glory within those sacred 
walls which I expect to enter on the ensuing 
Sabbath ; often have I there experienced a de- 
gree of delight in proclaiming thy message 
which I have not language to express, and 


which, during the lapse of eternal ages, cannot 
be forgotten. Thou art still the same ; fhy pow- 
er is the same to support, thy fulness to replen- 
ish an empty earthen vessel ; thy mercy is the 
same to pardon every imperfection ; and thy 
faithfulness to accomplish every promise in me, 
and by me, and for me. In this I rejoice, that 
thou art the same yesterday, and to-day, and for- 

Soon after his return to New-York, Dr. Proud- 
fit addressed the following letter to the friend 
with whom he had spent so pleasant and profit- 
able a communion Sabbath, and which may be 
here introduced as forming an appropriate close 
to the account of his last visit to Washington 
county s 

" New- York, November 25th, 1842. 
" My DEAR Brother, 
" I frequently recollect, with much pleasure, 
the season which I enjoyed with you during my 
recent visit to Argyle ; and I trust that he who 
so long sustained your revered father, and hon- 
oured him to be eminently useful in winning 
souls to the Saviour, will continue his smiles to 
you, and honour you to be equally instrumental 
in the salvation of sinners. For the purpose of 
attaining such a measure of usefulness, let us 
cherish lively impressions of our own insufficien- 
cy, of our absolute insignificance and nothing- 


ness, that Jesus may be all in all in our medita- 
tions, in our studying for the pulpit, and in the 
delivery of our discourses. 

" It is the highest attainment, and, indeed, the 
only safety of the private Christian, and more 
especially of the public teacher, to sit at the feet 
of the Saviour, looking up to him for all that 
measure of life, light, strength, and joy which 
are requisite for those who have nothing, and 
can do nothing of themselves. But let us cher- 
ish the delightful persuasion that the Master 
whom we serve possesses all the treasures of 
wisdom and knowledge, all the fulness of the 
Godhead bodily; and that he has 'received these 
gifts for men, even for the rebellious ;' and that 
he is willing, infinitely willing to communicate 
all that is necessary for the comfortable, accept- 
able, and profitable discharge of duty. We 
cannot, my dear friend, either ask or expect too 
much from him, because he is able to do in us 
and for us 'exceeding abundantly beyond what 
we can ask' or conceive ; and, glory to his name, 
he is not more able than willing. Let us there- 
fore ask and receive, that our joy may be full. 

" When I look back upon the exercise of my 
ministry during a period of nearly fifty years, I 
am really lost in the contemplation of his long- 
suffering and forbearance to me, and am truly 
ashamed at each reflection upon my ingratitude 


to a benefactor so liberal, and a friend so ardent. 

so disinterested, so unceasing in his attention to 
my wants. Oh, how much has been left undone 
which I might and ought to have done, and what 
infinite imperfections have been mingled with 
the little which I attempted to perform ; but I 
can only subscribe with the apostle to the hon- 
our of the long-suffering of this Master, * as we 
have this ministry, having obtained mercy of 
the Lord, we faint not.' 2 Cor., iv., 1. 

" Remember me affectionately to. your fami- 
ly, to my relatives around you, to your session, 
and to the Church, with a request for an inter- 
est in their prayers ; and that, in the exercises 
of meditation and prayer, and a lively faith, you 
may be kept near to that Jesus who is the fount- 
ain of all blessing, and enabled day after day to 
be deriving from his fulness all necessary grace, 
is the unfeigned wish of your own friend and 
your father's friend, A. Proudfit. 

" Rev. George Mairs." 

In retiring from the service of the Coloniza- 
tion Society, which he did a few weeks after the 
date of the above letter, it was not Dr. Proud- 
fit's intention to retire from the field of active 
Christian exertion. There were two objects 
which he was very desirous to have accom- 
plished. The one was the publication of a new 
edition of his works, principally for circulation 


among the remote destitute settlements of our 
country; the other was the raismg. of an amount 
sufficient for the hquidation of the debt of the 
Theological Seminary at Newburgh, an institu- 
tion for which he had done not a little, and which 
he was desirous to see placed upon a thorough- 
ly secure foundation. From several of his let- 
ters, it also appears that, in connexion with these 
objects, it was his desire and purpose to spend a 
considerable portion of his time in visiting vari- 
ous literary institutions, a work of which he was 
very fond, and was always ready to perform ;* 
but the active labours of the venerable servant 
of the Lord were near their close at the time of 
his retiring from the service of the Colonization 
Society. Very soon after an affection of the 
eyes began to show itself, which confined him to 
the house during the greater part of the winter 
of 1842-3. The tenour of his meditations, 
while thus excluded from the performance of 
those active duties in which he so much delight- 
ed, will be learned by the following extracts 
from his diary. For such a season of solitude 
he had, in fact, been preparing himself by those 
habits of retiring from the world, which he had 

* It may be mentioned that he was a trustee of Union College, 
of the Burr Seminary, Manchester, Vermont, and one of the Com- 
mittee of Examhiation of the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School. 
Usually he made it a point to attend the examinations of all these 


cultivated for many years. Conscious that his 
course on earth was near its fuliihiient, he looks 
back on all the way by which the Lord had led 
him with mingled thankfulness and humiliation ; 
and he looks forward to that eternal world into 
which he was so soon to enter with the cheerful 
confidence of being accepted in the Beloved. 

" New-Brunswick, March 12th, 1843. Have 
been confined to the house for some time with 
an inflamed eye, and about this time last year 
was laid aside for a while by an inflammation 
of the lungs. Thus is a sovereign God teach- 
ing me my entire dependance on his providence, 
sometimes by one dispensation and sometimes 
by another. When labouring under one infirm- 
ity, I am disposed to think that, if it were re- 
moved, my health and happiness would be com- 
plete. My Master is therefore, in wisdom and 
love, adding line upon line ; thus teaching me, if 
my dull heart would but learn, that in no part 
of this feeble body am I invulnerable, that in him 
I live and breathe ; but, amid these ever-varying 
dispensations, how much is there to produce not 
merely an implicit, but cheerful submission to his 
will : to sing not only of mercies, but of judg- 
ments. 1st. We have the positive assurance that 
these afflictions, with respect to the righteous, 
are the rod of a Father. 2d. However painful 
to the flesh, and though they may derange some 
C c 


favourite plan, or prevent the immediate dis- 
charge of some duty that seems to us impor- 
tant, they are all sent in wisdom and love. ' As 
many as I love I rebuke : w^hom the Lord lov- 
eth, he correcteth/ 

" ' Behind a frowning providence, 
He wears a smiling face.' 

3d. We are assured that these afflictions, through 
the sanctifying influences of the Spirit, conduce 
to their real advantage. Indeed, the sanctifica- 
tion of the soul, at least our becoming mortified 
to the world, our crucifying the lusts of the flesh, 
appears to be principally carried on by means 
of bereavements, disappointments, or adversity 
in some form. The husbandman prunes the 
tree, that its fruit may be improved both in 
quantity and quality ; the refiner's fire is ap- 
plied to consume, not the gold, but the dross. 
Who of the saints cannot testify with David, 
from their own experience, * it was good for me 
that I have been afflicted V With respect to my 
own experience, although I vv^as drawn at first 
with the cords of love, found an easy transition 
to the light, liberty, and consolations of the gos- 
pel, w^ithout suffering in any considerable degree 
the terrors of the law, yet I can now sing to the 
honour of abounding grace, and, I believe, w^ill 
sing to eternity' as loudly of judgments inflicted 
as of mercies imparted. My cup has indeed 


overflowed with mercies, personal, domestic, 
social ; yet I consider myself more indebted to 
crosses than to comforts for any little progress 
which I have made in humility, in patience, in 
mortification to the world and conformity to the 
Divine image. Every feature of a child of 
adoption which may be discerned in me by oth- 
ers, every shadow of resemblance to my Elder 
Brother in submission to the will of God or zeal 
for his honour, has been impressed by the rod, 
and, in some instances, by the rod severely ap- 
plied. In June, 1791 ; in May, 1796 ; in June or 
July, 1802 ; and in October, 1808, there were 
memorable instances in which the Lord hedged 
up my way, preserving me, apparently, from ut- 
ter ruin, by visible and almost miraculous inter- 
positions of his hand by affliction. O Lord, in 
many other instances, but especially in these, in 
faithfulness thou didst afflict me." 

''March 19ih, 1843. I am still confined to 
the house by an inflammation of the eye, and am 
thus denied the privilege of being ministered 
unto by attending the public ordinances of reli- 
gion, or of ministering to others by dispensing 
the Word of Life ; but it is the Lord, let him do 
what seemeth him good. The days and nights 
appear, indeed, to roll tediously along, but hope 
of deliverance in due time supports and enlivens. 
This dispensation is dark to me ; yet I am assu- 


red by the Word of God, the testimony of oth- 
ers, and my own experience during a long life, 
that the issue will be happy ; that he will bring 
me to the light, and enable me to behold his face 
in righteousness. ' Learn, therefore, O my soul, 
to wait with patience upon thy covenant God, 
though clouds and darkness are round about him.' 

" ' Deep in unfathomable mines 
Of never-failing skill, 
He treasures up his bright designs, 
And works his gracious will.' 

" My warfare will soon be accomplished. 
Here there is alternate light and darkness, joy 
and sorrow, health and sickness ; but in that 
world of glory, which is open to the eye of faith, 
all these vicissitudes shall terminate forever ; 
the light of its blessed inhabitants will be un- 
clouded, their joy unmingled, their health unim- 
paired ; the Lord will remain their everlasting 
light, and the days of their mourning shall be 

" March 25th, 1843. I have now advanced 
nearly four years beyond the prescribed period 
of human life. I am therefore forewarned by 
the purpose of God and the natural course of 
things, that I must shortly be called to leave 
time for eternity. How solemn is the prospect 
of retiring from a w^orld which I have so long 
inhabited, and in which I have seen so much to 
excite my admiration of the power, wisdom, and 


goodness of the Creator ! How often have I 
been led to admire his bounty in the almost in- 
finite variety of the productions of this world, 
some of them more substantial and necessary, 
others more delicate, designed, apparently, to 
gratify our taste ! In the contemplation of this 
variety, often have I been led to exclaim with 
the Psalmist, ' O Lord, how manifold are thy 
works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all.' 

" But in retiring from this world, where there 
is so much to awaken our admiration, the eye 
of faith can look forward to scenes still brighter 
and more glorious, to new heavens and a new 
earth ; and if in this world there is so much to 
fill us with adoring thoughts of God, how mag- 
nificent beyond conception must heaven be, 
where he dwells in light, where Jesus sits efful- 
gent in the midst of the throne ; but how little 
do we know of the mode of our future existence ; 
in what province of the divine dominions the 
New Jerusalem is established ; what are the ex- 
ercises and joys of the redeemed ; in what man- 
ner are they admitted to fellowship with the Fa- 
ther, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ; what is im- 
plied in seeing God face to face, and knowing 
even as we are known ; in what way shall 
spirit commune with kindred spirit during the 
space which intervenes until the resurrection of 
the body ; what are we to understand by bod- 
20 Cc2 


ies, powerful, spiritual, incorruptible, glorious, 
which shall hunger no more nor thirst any more, 
capable of serving God night and day ! 

" Little as is now known of these things, in 
the ordinary course of nature they must soon, 
very soon be realized by me ; and in taking a 
retrospective view of my journey through life, 
who of the human family is more indebted than 
myself to a forbearing, forgiving, beneficent 
God? Truly goodness and mercy have follow- 
ed me so far in every step through the wilder- 
ness. I have been favoured with an exemption 
from torturing pain and loathsome disease, with 
a competency of temporal blessings, and an un- 
usual measure of health to enjoy them. I have 
also been favoured with the affections of a large 
circle of friends, and with the confidence of a 
Church to which I ministered for more than 
forty years ; and by offices of a more general 
nature I have had opportunities of extending my 
acquaintance with many thousands in various 
parts of our country, and of every Christian 
name, with whom I hope to be associated for- 
ever in the kingdom of our common Father ; 
and although far advanced in years, I am scarce- 
ly sensible of the infirmities common to persons 
of my age. I enjoy the various senses of the 
body unimpaired, the exercise of memory, and 
of other powers of the mind. 


" Amid favours thus multiplied. I have only to 
complain of myself, of my ingratitude for mer- 
cies innumerable ; of opportunities lost, which 
might have been improved in doing good or re- 
ceiving good ; of indolence and insincerity in 
the service of my Master and of my generation ; 
of the inconsiderable advancement in spiritual 
wisdom, in faith, love, and all the other graces 
of the divine life. For all these transgressions, 
for my omissions of duty required, for my com- 
mission of sins forbidden, I humble myself this 
moment before a holv God." 

308 MEMOIR OF Tin: 


A FULL account of the closing days of the 
venerable subject of this memoir will be found 
n the following letter of his son, Dr. John 
Proudfit, of Rutger's College, with whom he 
spent the last winter of his life, and at whose 
house he died. This account is preceded by 
some recollections of Dr. Proudfit designed to 
exhibit certain phases of his character, especial- 
ly his domestic character, which could be ap- 
preciated and properly described only by a 
member of his own family. 

New-Brunswick, Sept. 20, 1845. 
" My dear Friend, 

" You desire from me an account of the clo- 
sing scene of my father's life, with such' traits of 
his character, and such incidents and recollec- 
tions as it is the peculiar office of an intimate 
and domestic intercourse to discover and pre- 
serve ; and I hasten to comply with your re- 
quest, briefly but earnestly expressing my grat- 
itude to God and to you, my dear and honoured 
brother, for that love and appreciation of the 
beauty of a holy and useful life which has 
prompted you to the labour of diffusing and 


perpetuating its influence in these memoirs. 
The task, naturally enough, devolved upon me, 
but Divine providence (in ways which it would 
serve no useful purpose to explain here) pre- 
vented me from performing it, with the design, 
I trust, that it should be better accomplished by 

" I find no language to express the emotions 
awakened by the recurrence of my father's im- 
age to my mind : how lovely and venerable it 
seems, — how suffused in all tender and sacred 
hues, — how associated with, and, as it were, im- 
printed upon all that is great and beautiful in 
nature — the starry heavens, the green earth, the 
opening buds of spring, the general decay of 
autumn ! I have often asked myself, what is 
the secret of this life which death has not been 
able to destroy, nor even impair ; which, in truth, 
seems to possess an increased charm and pow- 
er since it has been detached from all mortal re- 
lations ; of this society, which death seems scarce- 
ly to have interrupted, so that he seems as tru- 
ly present with me as when we walked and talk- 
ed together here ? And I have only been able 
to trace it to the predominance, in his character 
and intercourse with me, of that ' spiritual mind 
which is life' — a life untouched by physical 
death, and but slightly affected by the accidents 
of presence and absence. Everything now re- 


minds me of him, because, from my earliest 
years, he made everything remind me of God. 
When he became an actual inhabitant of the 
invisible world, he seemed only to be more in- 
timately associated vi^ith those great objects to 
which it had been his constant aim to lead the 
thoughts and affections of all around him. 

" The degree in which he ' felt the powers of 
the world to come' was, I think, very remarka- 
ble. It must have struck any person who had 
even a brief intercourse with him, and has often 
been remarked to me since his death by those 
who had no more than a stage-coach or steam- 
boat acquaintance with him, or had met him 
only in the social circle. Those Scriptural ex- 
pressions might be used of him with perfect 
truth : * he walked with God :' — He endured as 
seeing Him who is invisible. * The things' of 
God's law were ' in his heart,' and he talked of 
them as he sat in his house and as he walked 
in the way — as he lay down and as he rose up. 

" Yet I do not think his mode of introducing 
religious things was intruswe or forced. He 
was opposed to this in principle, and, I think, 
was singularly happy in escaping it in practice. 
The strength and activity of the spiritual life with- 
in him diffused a religious aspect over his whole 
character — an aspect which had at once the 
equability and the variety of perfect nature and 

REV. It'd. PRUUDFIT. 311 

sincerity — the lights and the shades which make 
every aspect of nature pleasing and beautiful. 
The diffusion of the religious influence around 
him was in striking accordance with those em- 
blems which make the light, the salt, and the 
leaven, the emblems of the progress of that 
' kingdom of God' which is ' within us,' and 
' Cometh not with observation.' 

" The main strength of his character seems 
to me to have lain in a constitutional ardour — 
an aKdiiarov nvp — belonging, indeed, to his nat- 
ural temperament, but receiving an increased 
energy, as well as a holy direction, from an un- 
common unction of the Spirit of God. Doubt- 
less his true element was action. He did not 
perceive this at first. His early years, and the 
first ten, at least, of his ministerial life were de- 
voted almost entirely to sohtary study. He 
read the classics, and the early Christian wri- 
ters, and the profound divines of the seventeenth 
century with great diligence, sleeping in an 
eastern room, in the line of a large window, 
looking directly towards the east, that he might 
be waked to his studies by the first rays of the 
sun, and seldom migrating from his library ex- 
cept to preach or perform some tour of pastoral 
or ministerial duty ; and doubtless the years 
thus spent in study and devotional retirement 
served to supply a deeper and purer source for 


the almost unceasing activity of his later years. 
But when his faculties had come fairly into con- 
tact with the modern spirit of Christian benev- 
olence, they expanded into an activity which 
could never again be subjected to the compres- 
sion and restraint necessary to studious habits. 
He read, it is true, a good deal, and wrote a 
great deal to the last, and the portion of time 
which he gave to secret devotion and medita- 
tion was, I should think, rather increased than 
diminished ; but he was thenceforward a man 
of action rather than of study. His intercourse 
lay with men rather than with books ; and the 
energy of his mind and of his affections was too 
much absorbed in the present and the future to 
admit of the tranquil contemplation of the past ; 
at least he thought so. I am by no means cer- 
tain that he did not overrate the incompatible- 
ness of active and studious pursuits ; but I am 
now speaking only of the fact and of his own 
impressions. His ' coemptos undique nobiles li- 
bros' he used to survey and handle with an af- 
fection which had a touch of sadness in it, speak- 
ing of the delight he had found in them, of the 
profuseness with which he had willingly spent 
money for them, relating anecdotes of authors 
and editions, and expressing his regret at the in- 
cessant engagements of an active kind which 
had withdrawn him from his favourite studies. 


Perhaps I should not say his regret. He evi- 
dently felt that the public and active labours in 
which he was principally engaged constituted 
his vocation ; that in these he was to * serve his 
generation by the will of God,' (a favourite ex- 
pression with him). Still, he often cast a linger- 
ing look on the quiet and contemplative pursuits 
of his youth and early manhood, and sometimes 
said, after quoting a passage from a classic au- 
thor, * how I should delight to renew these stud- 
ies ! — ' adding, * but we are not here for mere en- 
joyment,' or something to that effect. His love 
of books was decidedly a trait. Some fine 
copies, which he purchased when a member of 
college, continued to be the objects of his affec- 
tion to the last. * I have often purchased a cost- 
ly book,' he has repeatedly said to me, ' and have 
felt that a single idea which it suggested has 
fully repaid me.' The Greek Testament which 
he used in family worship — a noble * Basker- 
ville' — he used to look upon and handle with a 
peculiar affection, saying, that, ' if luxury was 
allowable in anything, it was in having fine cop- 
ies of the Word of God. His fondness for that 
book has often brought to my mind Alexander's 
love for his Homer, and I have even carried the 
parallel farther, and thought that in his case the 
priceless volume of God's word was laid up in 
a nobler casket than that of Darius, even the 


casket of a holy heart, chased with the pure 
gold of faith, and set with the gems of holy af- 
fections. I recollect the time when he used his 
Hebrew Bible also at family prayers ; but this 
he did not long continue to do. Often, howev- 
er, I have heard him say, • I must sit down and 
renew my Hebrew studies : — ' But to sit down 
for such a length of time as is necessary to mas- 
ter and familiarize an ancient language was not 
among the things which the plan of Providence 
in reference to him during the latter years of his 
life, permitted him to do. His Greek Testament 
he used for this purpose, if I recollect rightly, 
till he left Salem. His classical reading was 
too early interrupted to be very extensive. It 
had, however, been unusually thorough, and 
had produced one of its most valuable fruits, in 
at once strengthening and chastening his ima- 
gination, and perfecting his conception and ap- 
preciation of the beautiful. Horace, and the 
Georgics of Virgil, and the tenth Satire of Ju- 
venal were his peculiar delight among the Ro- 
man writers. Of the first, he had learned large 
portions by heart, and often quoted his fine mor- 
al maxims, and alluded to the inimitable pictures 
of human life in his Satires to the last. The 
tranquil and cheerful Xenophon was his favour- 
ite among the Greeks. He appears to have 
read the early Christian writers with attention. 



but as theologians he considered them feeble and 
superficial, and principally valuable as furnish- 
ing the materials of ecclesiastical history. His 
love of books and of retirement, together with 
his characteristic ardour and perseverance in 
whatever he undertook, would, I think, have led 
him to make great acquirements, had not his en- 
ergies been early diverted into a different chan- 
nel ; but, active as he was, of late years, no 
man thought less of a mere bustling activity. 
His conviction was very strong, and often ex- 
pressed, that a well-accomplished and ' thor- 
oughly-furnished' minister of Christ must be a 
learned man, a student, a thinker — a man living 
much among books and well acquainted with 
them. He very often expressed his doubts 
whether the multiplied public services of minis- 
ters in the present day tended, after all, to the 
edification of the body of Christ ; whether it 
would not be better if ministers were more in 
their studies, and private Christians more in 
their families and closets. He thought the so- 
cial was often cultivated in religion to the neg- 
lect of the meditative, the spiritual, the devotion- 
al ; that the style of preaching which prevailed 
formerly, when ministers were more decidedly 
studious men, was more solid, instructive, edify- 
ing, and ' able to convince the adversary ;' and 
that the private Christians who grew up under 


such ministrations were more intelligent, stable, 
and spiritually minded. He often warned his 
young friends in the ministry and candidates 
for the sacred office to beware how they allow- 
ed engagements, even of a benevolent kind, to 
interfere with those studies which are the prop- 
er work and duty of early life — admonishing 
them of the great importance of a well-disci- 
plined and well-furnished mind, and of the dif- 
ficulty of even maintaining studious habits after 
they should once get fairly into the vortex of 
this age of restless activity and unsparing de- 
mands on the time and resources of ministers. 

" His love of souls was wonderful. In his 
more private supplications, he prayed for the 
salvation of men, of particular friends who were 
strangers to God, of * thoughtless youth,' of the 
heathen, with an earnestness (I might perhaps 
say, without extravagance, with an agony of 
soul) which has reminded me of the awful and 
mysterious language of the apostle on this sub- 
ject, such as, ' we are beside ourselves unto 
God,' and other similar expressions. The Word 
of God was ' a fire locked up in his bones' — a 
* burden' which weighed heavily upon his soul. 
His convictions of the greatness of our fall from 
God, of the utter corruption and helplessness of 
men, and of the absolute necessity of sovereign 
and omnipotent Grace to ' open their eyes, and 


to turn them from darkness to light, and from 
the power of Satan unto God,' were very deep 
and powerful. He often arose from his bed at 
night to pray for souls. He often stopped in 
his walks or rides, or arrested the course of con- 
versation with a pious friend for this purpose. 
With what unutterable earnestness would he 
offer up that sublime petition of the prophet, 
' come from the four winds, O Breath, and 
breathe upon these slain, that they may live !' 
Yet his convictions of the duty of men to ' turn 
to God and do works meet for repentance,' to 
' believe in the Lord Jesus Christ' and save 
themselves from this crooked and perverse gen- 
eration, were equally strong and earnest. His 
ardent soul little disposed him to be a solver of 
theological knots, or a diver into the bottomless 
depths of metaphysical abstraction. He freely 
confessed that he was not fitted for it. He 
was ' a preacher of the Word.' What he * re- 
ceived from the Lord's mouth,' that he ' de- 
clared' to men. For him a * thus saith the 
Lord,' was sufficient. He embraced and pre- 
sented the great truths which form the anti- 
podes of theology with the same boldness and 
prominency in which they stand forth in the 
Scriptures of truth, without feeling it neces- 
sary to explore all ' the deep and secret things' 
that lay between them. In his preaching, the 
D D 2 


glorious truth, that * all things are of God,' shone 
out full-orbed ; but he ' prayed' men to he rec- 
onciled unto God with a liberty and earnestness 
far from being impaired, but, on the contrary, 
clothed with peculiar energy and authority, by 
the close and living relation, in his mind and 
preaching, between the two great co-ordinate 
truths of God's sovereignty and man's obliga- 
tion. No man ever heard him say or imply 
anything which looked like excusing unconvert- 
ed men in waiting for God without turning to 
Him, forsaking their sins, and seeking his mercy 
through Christ. The style in which he charged 
the conscience was full of authority and power. 
His entreaties to sinners to ' flee from the wrath 
to come' and secure 'the great salvation' by 
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, were pathetic and 
importunate beyond almost anything that I have 
ever heard. I have often seen him, in his own 
pulpit at Salem, sit down, overpowered by his 
emotions, and weep for some time before he 
could proceed. Sometimes, on the point of dis- 
missing the congregation, he addressed to them 
a few words of parting counsel and entreaty, 
and one of these shafts, discharged ' at a ven- 
ture,' lodged in the heart of a careless hearer in 
the galleries, and was the means of ' saving a 
soul from death.' It is very possible that such 
instances of success induced him to repeat this 


deviation oftener than was expedient ; but his 
heart overflowed the regular channels of in- 
struction and effort, and his maxim was, ' if hy 
all means I may save some.' 

"Even in sleep and in delirium his soul 'obey- 
ed the helm' of its ruling principle. My moth- 
er has related to me that one night, during the 
early period of his ministry, she was awakened 
by the sound of his voice. She perceived him 
standing on the floor asleep, moving his arms 
with vehemence, and uttering earnest, though 
incoherent words. ' My dear,' said she, ' what 
are you doing V '■ I am telling them,' he re- 
plied, ' to work out their salvation with fear and 

" During the long fever which brought him 
nigh to death in 1842, he was often delirious. 
On one occasion, while his mind was wandering, 
he insisted that the doctor should be sent for. 
My mother replied, ' he has just been here and 
left his prescriptions, which we are following : 
he cannot do you any good just now.' ' Well,' 
said he, ' if he cannot do me any good, perhaps 
I can do him some.' At another time, when 
this gentleman was in attendance, he pressed 
him very closely and earnestly on the subject of 
personal religion, and added, ' now, doctor, if 1 
die, and you neglect this counsel, I take you to 
witness this day that I am pure from your blood :' 


nor would he be satisfied till the doctor had ta- 
ken out his pocket-book and recorded the pre- 
cise day and hour of the transaction. — One of 
his elders, an eminently pious man, had died and 
left a large family of sons, most of whom were 
very wild and thoughtless. One day, as my fa- 
ther lay in his darkened and silent room, he sud- 
denly broke out into an exhortation, addressed to 
each of these youth by name, beginning with 
the eldest, and proceeding with great exactness 
and appropriateness to the youngest. He then 
turned to my mother, who sat by his bedside, 
and said, * Who will carry this message to these 
youth V She said there was no one whom she 
could then conveniently send. ' Well, then,' 
said he, * you will have to carry it yourself; for 
it must be borne to them immediately.' — On one 
of these occasions, when he was exhausting him- 
self by incessant speaking, my mother, unable to 
prevail on him otherwise to be silent, hinted to 
him that his mind was a little wandering. He 
was evidently surprised and hurt by the remark. 
* My mind wandering? Well' — (after a mo- 
ment's silence), ' if my mind wanders, Jesus 
Christ is the polar star !' 

" A desire which had such complete posses- 
sion of his soul must, of course, have impelled 
him to incessant efforts to compass its object. 
The dream of Lucian, in which he fancied him- 

REV. Dll. PKOUDFIT. 321 

self borne aloft over the earth, and scattering 
everyv^^here, in his flight, seeds which bore the 
most beautiful and precious fruits, was, in a bet- 
ter sense, realized to him ; for his whole life was 
a dispersioji of the seed of God's saving truth. 
The casual word, the brief but earnest counsel, 
inserted even in his ordinary correspondence ; 
the tracts which he wrote, published, and cir- 
culated himself many years before associations 
for that purpose were formed ; his ardent and 
impressive sermons, many of which passed 
through six editions before his death ; the ear- 
nestness with which he co-operated with every 
form of benevolent effort, and the large propor- 
tion of his income which always went to such 
objects ; and, though last (in his estimation cer- 
tainly not least), his labours for the planting and 
fostering of Christian colonies in Africa, put all 
his talents to occupation in a way that will, I 
doubt not, procure him the sentence of ' Well 
done !' when the great Master of the household 
shall ' come and reckon' with his servants. His 
efforts for the young were peculiarly earnest, 
and were eminently blessed. I doubt if there 
was a child in his congregation who was not 
brought directly under his personal influence. 
He often persuaded parents to give their sons a 
liberal education, where he observed in them 
superior intelligence, and thus many a highly- 


endowed intellect was, by his means, rescued 
from oblivion and unfruitfulness. The number 
\vhom he educated himself, in whole or in part, 
was very surprising. One youth, bequeathed 
to his care by his dying father (though that fa- 
ther he had never seen), he carried through a 
complete course of liberal education at his own 
charges. The history of the academy at Salem 
is a striking proof how much may be done by a 
zealous and liberal clergyman, not only io pro- 
mote education, but to direct it to its best and 
noblest ends. So long as he remained at Salem, 
he was president of its board of trustees, and he 
Irequently visited the institution, invited the pu- 
pils to his house, procured funds for it from the 
state, and laboured in every way to extend its 
usefulness. Some, who were then among its 
pupils, have since been members of both houses 
of the Congress of the United States, not a few 
have been useful clergymen, and some have 
filled important stations in the judiciary of our 
country. But you have spoken of this, as well 
as of his zealous exertions for the cause of edu- 
cation, in connexion with Union College. I may, 
however, add an incident or two, to show the 
earnestness and success with which he laboured 
to make moral and religious impressions on 
young minds in the process of education. He 
was once entering a nephew at Union College. 


It was at the time of commencement, and he 
was at the room of one of the graduates, making 
pmxhases of his furniture, or some arrangement 
of the kind, for his nephew. The young gentle- 
man with whom he was making these arrange- 
ments was a fine scholar, and possessed high 
intellectual endowments, but was considered to 
be of skeptical sentiments. My father inquired 
if he had determined to what profession he should 

devote himself ' I shall enter Judge W 's 

office next week, sir,' was the prompt and some- 
what sharp reply. My father, however, added 
a few counsels, suited to the critical moment 
when a youth is about to pass through the nar- 
rows, as it were, and enter on the great ocean 
of the world (a moment, the responsibilities and 
eventful consequences of which he always felt 
most deeply), and, leaving the youth his best 
wishes, departed. A few weeks after, he re- 
ceived a letter from this young man, stating that 
those parting words, however slightingly re- 
ceived at the moment, had fixed themselves 
deeply in his heart ; that they had awakened 
his conscience, and turned his thoughts to the 
long-neglected subject of religion ; that, instead 

of ' entering Judge W 's office,' he had gone 

to -the retirement of his mother's house, in the 
country, to reflect on the past and the future ; 
that he had sought God in the solitude of the 


forest ; that He, who had been heretofore an 
'unknown God' to him, had revealed Himself to 
his soul amid His own works, and through the 
study of His word and prayer ; that every breeze 
seemed now to whisper to him His being and 
His presence, every flower to proclaim His 
power and love ; that, in short, a wondrous and 
blessed change had come over his whole being, 
his views of nature, of God, and of himself — his 
plans for this life, and his expectations of an- 
other ; that he had found pardon, peace, and 
joy in God through Christ, and now desired to 
proclaim to his fellow-men the grace which had 
redeemed him.* He added a request that he 
might be permitted to study for the ministry un- 
der my father's direction. The emotions which 
overwhelmed my father on reading this letter, 
can only be perfectly realized by those to whom 
God has given the unspeakable honour and hap- 
piness of ' turning a sinner unto righteousness.' 
He immediately wrote to the young man, in- 
viting him to reside for a while in his famil3^ 
He did so for a year, pursuing his theological 
studies under his direction, which he afterward 
completed (I believe) at one of the public sem- 
inaries. He is now a highly-respected clergy- 
man of the Episcopal Church, and occupied for 

* This eloquent letter was lent to a friend several years ago, 
and, to our great regret, has been lost. 


many years a professorship in one of our South- 
ern colleges. 

" He observed, one day, a young man stand- 
ing on the piazza of the hotel, whom he knew 
(though slightly acquainted with him) to be a 
pupil in the academy. He had his baggage at 
his side, as if prepared for a journey. My father 
asked him if he was going to leave the academy. 
He replied that he was ; and, in answer to far- 
ther kind inquiries, frankly stated that straitened 
circumstances had been the cause of this deter- 
mination. This young man had a high standing 
as a scholar, but had made no secret of his in- 
fidelity. My father requested him to send back 
his baggage, and resume his studies, and trust 
Providence. He did so, and he did not trust in 
vain. This incident led to a more intimate ac- 
quaintance between him and my father. He 
became a frequent visiter at his house. It 
pleased God to open his soul to the light and 
power of the truth. My father baptized him. 
He pursued his studies throughout, entered the 
ministry, and was, for several years, professor 
in a college. He has since resumed the pastoral 

""He had once appointed a pastoral visitation 
and lecture in a remote district of his congrega- 
tion. The pious father in the Church, at whose 
house it was to be held, urged a youth in his 

E E 


employment to attend, but he declined, pleading 
the soiled condition of his outer man, as he had 
been all day clearing and burning in the forest. 
The good man's urgency, however, prevailed. 
He attended, and the Word of God ' came to 
him with power and with the Holy Ghost.' He 
laid aside his axe and brush-hook, studied for 
and entered the ministry in his own (the Bap- 
tist) denomination, and became an uncommonly 
fervent and impressive preacher. 

" His success in obtaining money for benevo- 
lent objects was very remarkable. The streams 
of liberality seemed to gush forth at his touch, 
where others reasoned and pleaded in vain. I 
have often wondered at his power in this respect ; 
and as his success is well known, and as the 
whole enterprise of Christian benevolence in 
our times — the whole movement for the world's 
conversion — hinges (as far as the material'is con- 
cerned) on the fidelity and success of ministers 
in this respect, I have thought it worth while 
to give utterance to some of the thoughts which 
have occurred to me as accounting for his re- 
markable success in this particular. He regard- 
ed this as a distinct and important branch of his 
duty as a minister of Christ. He felt the full 
weight of the apostolic command, ^charge them 
that are rich in this w^orld, that they he not high- 
minded; nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the 

REV. DR. rilOUDFIT. 327 

living God, who giveth us all things richly to 
enjoy — that they do good, that they he rich in 
good works — ready to distribute, willing to com- 
municate — laying up in store for themselves a 
good foundation against the time to come, that 
they may lay hold on eternal life.' He there- 
fore approached his opulent friends and rela- 
tives in this matter 'w^ith authority, as a minis- 
ter of Christ,' and with a mingled solemnity and 
tenderness, which was not often unsuccessful. 
I have seldom seen him so much dejected and 
distressed as when his efforts to open the heart 
and hand of a rich acquaintance had been un- 
availing, or attended with what he thought a 
disproportionate success, especially when he 
has spoken of it after the death of the individu- 
al ; for he had an awful idea of the responsibil- 
ity attached to the ' stewardship' of riches. The 
selfishness which could close the hand of a rich 
man against the claims of divine love or suffer- 
ing humanity, seemed to him to argue an almost 
hopeless hardness of heart. On looking at a 
fine mansion, inhabited by one whose ' portion 
was in this world,' he has said to me, ' We may 
see how lightly God esteems riches, since he 
bestow^s them on such men.' He felt, and often 
said, that he was doing the greatest possible 
kindness to a rich man and to his children by 
persuading him to convert a portion of the mam- 


mon of unrighteousness' into ' the true riches.^ 
The freeness with which he gave of his own, 
also, was well known, and doubtless conduced 
to the success of his appeals to others. In truth, 
he spent sparingly, that he might give freely. 
Christian hospitaUty and charity, and ' charges 
to preach the gospel,' were by far his largest ex- 
penses. It was a constant maxim with him, that 
self-denial is the only source of a steady, as well 
as an abundant liberality ; and he told me, near 
the close of his life, that, in traveling, he had 
often gone without his dinner, simply with a 
view of saving, in order to give. ' Ye know 
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ' w^as also 
a motive, the infinite power of which he well 
knew how to apply to the heart which was capa- 
ble of gratitude for redeeming love. He used 
to say that, after a few moments of spiritual 
communion and prayer, the intended donation 
had often been doubled of the heart's ow^n mo- 
tion. When he pleaded for the Bible or the 
Colonization Society, he scarcely ever present- 
ed the claims of either charity directly from the 
pulpit, but * preached the gospel,' relying on it 
as a talisman of unbounded power to open the 
hearts of men, and to awaken to its highest en- 
ergy every holy motive and benevolent affec- 
tion ; and his wondrous success in obtaining 
contributions for both, especially when he la- 


boured (as he did with his whole heart and soul) 
for the glorious object of giving a Bible to ev- 
ery household in the United States, sufficiently 
proved that this was the ' more excellent way.' 
He always regarded his labours in behalf of 
these Christian charities as doubly blessed and 
rewarded, by having brought him into intimate 
intercourse with so many of the people of God. 
The acquaintance thus formed proved, in many 
cases, the commencement of a Christian corre- 
spondence and friendship, which terminated (or, 
rather, was briefly interrupted) only by his 
death. A single instance only of his success in 
this work I shall mention, because it was con- 
nected with an apparently slight, though, view- 
ed in its important consequences, a very remark- 
able interposition of Providence. He was on 
his way to the meeting of the American Board 
at Boston, in 1827, and had proceeded as far as 
Manchester, in Vermont, intending to pursue 
his journey the same night, and had actually ta- 
ken his passage for that purpose ; but he was 
compelled, by the indisposition of my mother, 
who accompanied him, to remain in Manchester 
over the night. He inquired, after tea, ' as his 
custom was,' if there was any religious meeting 
that evening. The landlord told him there was, 
and accompanied him to it. On entering the 
house, he was recognised, and requested to con- 
E E 2 


duct the exercises, which he did. His attention 
was somehow attracted, during the service, to 
a gentleman present, whose name he afterward 
inquired. The landlord told him it was Mr. 
Burr (well known as an extensive manufacturer 
of that place), and introduced him. Mr. Burr 
(who was not at that time a professor of reli- 
gion) accompanied my father to the hotel, and 
spent the remainder of the evening with him. 
My father laid before him the work and claims 
of the American Board, and Mr. Burr gave him 
a donation of a hundred dollars for it. After 
separating from this gentleman, his situation 
dwelt much upon his mind. He was somewhat 
advanced in life, in a feeble state of health, with- 
out children, and the possessor of a large estate, 
as were also the other members of his family. 
My father, after his return home, addressed a 
letter to him, setting forth the great good he 
might accomplish by a wise and Christian dis- 
position of the large bounty of Providence in- 
trusted to him. Mr. Burr replied in a manner 
which showed that he deeply felt the truth and 
importance of the suggestions. A farther corre- 
spondence on the subject, I believe, followed. 
Mr. Burr died shortly after, and left nearly a 
hundred thousand dollars to the different Chris- 
tian enterprises of the day. Among other large 
bequests, he founded that excellent and useful 


institution which bears his name, the Burr Sem- 
inary, at Manchester. My father always thought 
that the hand of God was singularly visible in 
this matter. 

" You have doubtless spoken fully of the meth- 
ods and results of his labours as a pastor ; but 
let me add one thing. What appeared to me 
most remarkable about his ministerial success 
was its uniformity and constancy. The spiritu- 
al harvests which he was permitted to gather in 
were not only plentiful, but regular. His suc- 
cess resembled the sure, though gentle growth 
of nature, rather than the rank and exhausting 
vegetation forced by artificial means. The 
minds of those who w^ere under his pastoral 
care were from childhood unweariedly indoc- 
trinated in divine things by scriptural and cate- 
chetical instruction. Family religion, and pa- 
rental instruction and exhortation, were earnest- 
ly enforced. The good seed thus regularly 
sown, after all the wastage ' among thorns' and 
* on stony ground,' as regularly presented itself 
in the blade and the ear, and the full corn in the 
ear. The early and the latter rain came down 
in their season on the heritage of God, under 
his husbandry. There was no communion, I 
believe, during the forty-three years of his la- 
bours at Salem, without more or less accession 
to the Church. He was blessed, also, with sev- 


eral revivals of religion ; and their fruits were 
permanent — as much so, he thought, as those of 
any other period of his ministry. Nor was the 
peace of the congregation disturbed by the fer- 
mentations which too often follow seasons of re- 
ligious excitement : a happy effect, doubtless, of 
early and thorough religious instruction. 

" The strength and fervour of the devotional 
habit was, perhaps, the most remarkable feature 
of his character. * Praying in the spirit,' * pray- 
ing always,' ' praying everywhere,' and the like 
scriptural expressions, were literally and daily 
verified in him. The readiness with which his 
soul ascended to God, in whatsoever place or 
attitude he was, has often brought to my mind 
the practice of holy men of old : David sat he- 
fore the Lord,and prayed ; — Hezekiah turned his 
face to the wall, and prayed ; — the publican stood, 
and prayed ; — Paul and his companions kneeled 
down on the shore, and prayed. Often, while 
we were sitting and conversing together, he 
would lay his hand on my arm, and then lifting 
it up, without any change of posture, breathe 
out a few short and fervent petitions. After re- 
turning from a walk, on re-entering the room 
he would push to the door, and pray in the same 
attitude in which we were then standing. In 
the midst of society, he was often alone with God, 
as the heavenly expression of his countenance. 

KKV. jjii. riiuLDriT. 333 

and his involuntarily uplifted hand and eye (how 
familiar to all who knew him !) indicated. He 
often spoke of the importance of yielding to the 
spirit of prayer at the very moment when His 
influence was felt upon the soul. In his jour- 
neys, during my early years, I was generally 
his companion. The Greek Testament (Leus- 
den's pocket edition, with the Latin text at the 
foot) lay on the seat of the gig, and the cheerful 
current of ordinary talk was often interrupted 
by the direction, * Take up the Testament. Let 
us have something more profitable. O ! how 
few of our words are given to God ! How much 
of our life runs to waste !' His conversation was 
remarkably cheerful, and even facetious, but his 
soul longed for God, followed hard after him, and 
could not endure a long tarrying amid worldly 
associations. A natural scene of uncommon 
beauty would often call forth rapturous expres- 
sions of thanksgiving, of delight in God, and as- 
pirations after him. Mr. Beaty, one of his excel- 
lent elders, related to me the following character- 
istic anecdote after his death : ' I once took your 
father in my sleigh to fulfil a distant engagement 
to preach. On our way back, we passed through 
a beautiful pine grove, which threw a deep shade 
over the road. After we had entered it, your 
father told my son, who was driving, to stop, and 
all who were in the sleigh to take off their hats. 


and offered up a short, pathetic prayer. O ! I 
shall never forget that scene in the pine grove 1' 
— His admiration and exquisite enjoyment of na- 
ture seemed to form a part, and to furnish a con- 
stant and substantial aliment of the devotional 
spirit within him ; being often expressed in the 
form of adoration and thanksgiving, and some- 
times in the language of scripture. Often, while 
walking on the back piazza of his house, which 
commands a distant view of the glorious range 
of Vermont mountains, which, with their infi- 
nitely varied, now bolder and now" gentler un- 
dulations, subsiding at last into the lovely valley 
of Salem, form a perspective of unsurpassed 
beauty and grandeur, he would speak of Him 
* which, by His strength, setteth fast the mount- 
ains, being girded with power ; by whose bounty 
the pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys 
also are covered over with corn, and the httle 
hills rejoice on every side.' I have thought, my 
dear friend, in reading the Cosmos of Humboldt 
(a world without a God, I fear), that if, in addi- 
tion to the other ' sources of enjoyment in the 
contemplation of nature' which he has enumer- 
ated, he had mentioned an ' adoring and thankful 
spirit,' he would have pointed to a far deeper, as 
well as purer source of happy and elevating 
emotions than any which he has indicated. Dur- 
ham's Astro-Theology, and Ray's Wisdom of 

REV. DR. rllOUDFlT. 335 

God in the Creation, and Sturm's Reflections, 
were favourite Works with my father, from their 
tendency to exhibit an ever-present and every- 
where-working Creator in the marvellous pro- 
cesses of nature. With the admirable works 
which our own age has produced on this sub- 
ject, those, for example, of Sharon Turner, and 
of the authors of the Bridgewater Treatises, he 
had not, I believe, much acquaintance ; the oth- 
ers he loved as his early guides through nature 
to God, and as having contributed to the forma- 
tion of a hahlt to which he owed so much of the 
enjoyment of life, and of the power of religion 
in his soul, that of ' meeting God,'*' and com- 
muning with him in the rejoicing contemplation 
of his works. — He would often, while sitting at 
table, take up a piece of fruit, and speak of the 
wisdom displayed in its structure, the tough 
coating which enclosed its juices, the hard and 
impervious cells in which the seeds were de- 
posited, the slender stem, just sufficient to sup- 
port it till it had attained its full growth and 
maturity, and then dropping it to the ground. 
— Thomson's Seasons, which certainly imbody 
some of the most sublime emotions of the adoring 
soul, he valued highly, and often recommended 
to the young. His noble Hymn to the Deity 
he knew almost by heart, and often ended a 

* Isai., Ixiv.j 5. 


descant on the wonderful works of God by re- 
peating, with great fervour, the lines, 

' but I lose 
Myself in Him, in Light ineffable. 
Come, then, expressive Silence ! muse His praise.' 

" When he had any special enterprise in hand, 
the earnestness with which he spread it out be- 
fore the Lord, and endeavoured to ' lay hold on 
the strength' of an omnipotent Helper, appears 
front) many passages in his diary. But when he 
took hold of the work of African colonization 
(which he did not till after much and anxious 
deliberation and prayer), this spirit was pecu- 
liarly manifested. The twilight hours, and often 
a large part of the evening, appeared to be spe- 
cially devoted to meditation and prayer on this 
subject. To his view (and probably owing, in 
part, to its being thus revolved and associated) 
it assumed the grandeur and solemnity of a 
Christian and a missionary enterprise. It was 
bathed in the spirit of prayer, and prosecuted 
with an ardour with which he never engaged in 
any work which was not animated by the love 
of souls. He firmly believed it to be the best 
and most proximate mode as yet within our reach 
of labouring for the liberty of the African race, 
and for retrieving the grievous wrongs and woes 
of her enslavement ; but this view of it would 
never have drawn out his energies and affections 


to the extent in which they Were actually enlist- 
ed in it ; would never have constrained him to 
spend so many years of his life (and that, too, at 
a period when he was becoming more and more 
indisposed to everything merely secular oy polit- 
ical, and more and more intent and concentra- 
ted upon that which was properly spiritual), in 
labouring for its advancement. It is remark- 
able that, at this period of his life, he became 
more and more absorbed in the work of Afri- 
can colonization ; more and more confident of 
its sublime results, which, he thought, would 
far exceed the anticipations of its most sanguine 
friends ; more and more earnest in his endeav- 
ours to fix it deep and firm in the confidence of 
the churches. He thought that the planting of 
Christian colonies in Africa, and thus brinmns: 
before the view of, and in actual contact with 
her native population, communities enjoying the 
blessings of Christianity, law, and civilization, 
would prove incomparably the most effective, 
and powerful, and rapidly- working instrumental- 
ity for spreading the light and influence of the 
gospel through the Continent. He looked upon 
the work as part of a grand Providential scheme, 
of which the enslavement and exile of the sons 
of Afi^ica had been the beginning, and of which 
their restoration, Converted, enlightened, and 
bearing with them ' the unsearchable riches of 
22 F F 


Christ,' and the subsequent conversion of the 
native tribes, would be the completion. He 
could easily bear that others should differ from 
him in their judgment of this matter, and with 
some who thus differed he continued in the most 
friendly relations ; but the conduct of those 
who fiercely denounced the scheme, and the 
motives of those who originated and carry it 
forward, he came to look upon as sheer wicked- 
ness or madness. The misunderstandings and 
suspicions of our English brethren in relation to 
the work, with the plain facts of its history, and 
the spectacle of its actual success before them, 
and the testimony of some of the most estimable 
officers of their own navy and ours to the high 
moral and social condition of the colony, puzzled 
him extremely ; but he at length gave up all 
hope of their co-operation with us, and thought 
that it was our duty to go forward with the 
work and the appliances which God had spe- 
cially confided to us. The sentiments in regard 
to colonization which I have stated above, 
abound in his correspondence and addresses on 
the subject ; but I have here given the irnpres- 
sions left on my mind by his more familiar con- 
versations. It was in the view which I have 
here presented that it enlisted his whole heart, 
and had some of his last thoughts and pray- 


I have seldom known a character so entirely 
formed, animated, and moulded by the influence 
of religion. To the self-education of philosophy 
(which some have, perhaps successfully, blended 
with Christian precepts and influences) he owed 
little ; to the inward life and divine power of 
the gospel, everything. His life was truly a 
life of faith. His virtues were the ' fruits of the 
Spirit,' the spontaneous growth of those Chris- 
tian principles and influences in which the very 
roots and fibres of his nature were imbedded, 
rather than the results of any exact discipline. 
His temper was naturally quick ' as the spark 
from smitten steel,' and, to some extent, contin- 
ued so to the last. It was sweetened by Chris- 
tian charity rather than subdued by habitual 
self-command. Its subsidence was as sudden as 
its excitation, and it was succeeded by the over- 
flowing kindness of a forgiving and a loving 
heart. ' A shrewd turn' from any person seem- 
ed to render him doubly willing to submit to 
self-denial and effort to do good to the author 
of it. — He was in no respect a man of system. 
His warm and quick impulses prompted him 
rather to leave than to follow a much-beaten 
track. I know that he disliked an enforced ex- 
actness and uniformity, even in good things, and, 
in some instances, where good men have gener- 
ally observed them : for example, in the disposi- 


tion of his income ; in times and attitudes of de- 
votion, &c. I once asked him if he had laid 
down rules for himself in a certain respect ; he 
answered, * I never did ; / like to he free J Chris- 
tianity, as developed in him, was ' a law of lib- 
erty,' a ' law of the Spirit of life,' and it was evi- 
dently his aim rather to strengthen and exalt 
the life than to multiply the specifications of the 
law. His goodness w^as one of sanctified feel- 
ing and Christian principle rather than of sys- 
tem. I have no wish to present this peculiarity 
for the imitation of others ; but, as every mani- 
festation of the spiritual life is interesting, I sim- 
ply state the fact. Every individual Christian 
must, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, de- 
termine (in matters of mere method) what is best 
suited to his own character and circumstances. 
" His laborious tours to preach the gospel 
among the early settlers of the North and West 
appear from your memoir ; but the rich source 
of grateful and pleasing recollections which 
these voluntary labours furnished to his later 
years is worthy of being mentioned, as an en- 
couragement to ' abound always in the work of 
the Lord.' I verily believe that the simple ret- 
rospect of these tours was more than a compen- 
sation for all the toil and self-denial to which 
they subjected him : — how he slept on a bed of 
pine boughs, and got up repeatedly in the night 

REV. DR. rROUDIflT. 341 

to rest himself; how he was compelled to get 
off his horse in the night, in one of the vast for- 
ests of the West, and, on his hands and knees, 
to feel for the road which he had lost ; how, 
when he and his companion had provided them- 
selves with an ample store of good tea for their 
journey, the landlady,, at one of their earliest 
lodging-places, turned in the whole stock at one 
infusion ; how he was so tortured with the mos- 
chetoes, that he got up at night and drew on his 
riding-boots, determined to protect at least so 
much of his person from their attacks ; the din- 
ner of potatoes and salt at ' the cottage with the 
blanket door,' where he had to pull and husk the 
corn to feed his own horse, and yet found, in the 
contentment and joy of a pious and deeply expe- 
rienced soul, how little is enough with the grace 
of God : — these were among the adventures 
which he used to relate. He often spoke, too, 
of the delight with which he used to look upon 
the ' human face divine,' when, at long intervals, 
he met any one, even though a poor Indian, in 
the solitary forests through which the road lay ; 
that sometimes he rode a whole day and found 
but one abode, and that a log hut ; and that, 
where the beautiful city of Utica now stands, 
there was, at his first visit to that region, only a 
solitary shanty. He has told me that he was at 
one time so exhausted, and his system so deran- 

342 MEMulll OF THE 

ged by scanty and bad food, that he could scarce- 
ly endure the sight of food ; and that one night, 
on the shores of Lake Ontario, he rose from his 
bed at midnight, and walked down to the shore, 
and sat upon the sand, neve?^ expecting to see his 
home again. One of my earliest recollections 
is that of seeing him mounting his horse, along 
with his valiant friend and ' companion in the 
gospel,' the Rev. John Dunlap, for one of his 
Northern tours, my mother weeping by his side, 
and looking after them till they vanished over 
the hill which forms the northern limit of the 
view from our house ; and any one who knew 
how exquisitely he loved his family and enjoyed 
his home can realize how much he must have 
been ' pressed in spirit' to have subjected him- 
self to such a sacrifice. But the eagerness with 
which the people of those sparse and distant 
settlements listened to the Word of Life, the joy 
with which they welcomed him, the tears with 
which they often entreated him to stay with 
them, if it were but one Sabbath more, saying 
* that his people could easily spare him for one 
week, but that it would be long before they 
would look on a preacher of the gospel again — ' 
these things sustained and repaid him. He used 
to say that those who were accustomed to the 
coldly decent attendance of congregations, who 
heard ' the voices of the prophets every Sabbath 


day,' could not realize the emotion often mani- 
fested by those whose appetite had been quick- 
ened by a long ' famine of the Word of God.' 
In one of his Northern tours, when he travelled 
in a sleigh, he visited a settlement in which there 
were but two families, who were distant from 
each other. He went to one of the houses, took 
the whole family into his sleigh, and carried 
them to the other, where he preached, * and 
there was not a dry eye in the house.' In one 
of these Northern excursions he took a severe 
cold, which fastened deeply on his lungs, and he 
thought it impossible he could survive the dread- 
ful severity of the weather. He used to speak 
of one memorable night, when, in this situation, 
he lay on a hard bed, with insufficient covering, 
* shivering with the intense cold, unable to sleep, 
and thinking on the sovereignty of God, who 
had so differently dispensed his gifts to the chil- 
dren of men.' From that journey he returned 
with a deeply-seated cough, which did not leave 
him for several months. He used to speak of 
these things with admiration for the supporting 
and restoring goodness of God, when, past three- 
score years and ten, in a hale and cheerful old 
age, he had outlived almost all his early com- 
panions, which was the more remarkable, as his 
health had been so frail in the early years of his 
ministry that he was repeatedly thought to be 


in a consumption. There have certainly been 
some, remarkable instances in which Christ has 
sustained, and even restored his servants, in the 
midst of labours and exposures which were, ap- 
parently, quite beyond their natural strength. 
They ' who have hazarded their lives for the 
Lord Jesus,' have not always forfeited them. 
They have sometimes been, to all appearance, 
prolonged beyond the limit which they would 
naturally have reached. 

" There was one incident of his tours in the 
distant West which seems worthy of being pre- 
served. He had heard of the illness of an aged 
Indian chief at some distance, and, procuring an 
interpreter, he went to visit (what proved to be) 
his death-bed. While he spoke to him of the 
freeness and fulness of the salvation of Jesus, 
the old man ' laid his hand on his heart, and, 
lifting up his eyes, gave thanks to the great Spir- 
it, w^ho had sent him to speak to him of the Sav- 
iour.' He often alluded to this as one of the 
most affecting death-scenes he had ever wit- 

" In no respect was his piety more lovely than 
in its domestic manifestations. Morning and 
evening prayers were indeed a ' perpetual sacri- 
fice.' Sometimes the family were assembled 
for a few moments after dinner for reading the 
scriptures, singing, and prayer, but not always. 


' We must take care not to make the service of 
our God a w^eariness/ was a frequent remark 
with him. The morning and evening devotions 
were begun with singing — he was displeased if 
any voice was silent in this act of thanksgiving ; 
a portion of scripture was then read, which 
was done in course, each one reading a verse in 
turn, an occasional remark or anecdote being 
thrown in, suited to illustrate and impress upon 
the heart and conscience the truth of God. 
Sometimes his extemporaneous services in pub- 
lic were prolonged to an extent which he him- 
self regretted — for he equally disapproved it in 
others and in himself — but his prayers in the 
family were always short. Here all were made 
to feel their equality ; the humblest member of 
* the church in the house' being called upon to 
read and repeat hymns and portions of scripture 
in turn. I have heard him speak strongly of the 
pain he felt when, in the house of a pious friend 
in the South, he saw the servants standing du- 
ring family prayers. He ' watched over the 
souls* intrusted to him in his domestic as well as 
pastoral relation, and his fidelity in this respect 
was often blessed. A youth who was in ser- 
vice in his family for two years, and was un- 
commonly profane and hardened, and showed 
no signs of religious impression, wrote to him, 
twenty years after, from one of the new settle- 

340 MEMulil OF THE 

merits to which he had migrated, saying that 
the remembrance of the instructions, which had 
made so httle impression at the time, had been 
the means of awakening and bringing him to 
God when far distant from religious privileges ; 
that he had joined the Church, had for many 
years been enabled to walk with the people of 
God, and was now an elder of the church in the 
place where he resided. This man was after- 
ward very useful in distributing books and tracts 
for him. — Many were his expedients to store the 
mind with the Word of God. Large portions 
of it were committed to memory, and sometimes, 
after a chapter or a psalm had been read, all 
were called upon, with closed books, to repeat 
what they could remember of what had been 
read : an invaluable exercise, for the readiness 
which it tends to form in the recollection and 
citation of scripture. The family repasts were 
varied and made instructive by questions on 
history and other useful and entertaining sub- 
jects, where emulation awakened the youthful 
mind and pleasure opened it to instruction. 
How slowly and reluctantly often was that fam- 
ily breakfast-party broken up ! On the Sab- 
bath, these questions were directed to scriptural 
facts., especially to the resurrection of our Lord, 
and often to the early history of the Church. 
' What did the primitive Christians call the Sab- 


bath V ' Reglna dierum' (the queen of days). 
This question and answer were repeated often 
enough to throne in our thoughts ' the blessed 
and hallowed day' in majesty and supremacy 
over all other days. The manner, too, in which 
it was observed by the early Christians was the 
frequent subject of question. After church, we 
were allowed to walk out with our books under 
the shade of the trees, and sweetly did the even- 
ing hours often glide away in conversations 
about the lives, works, persecutions, and deaths 
of good men. The Nonconformists' Memorial* 
sometimes furnished the starting-point for these 
conversations, or a sermon or portion of a com- 
mentary read, led, by an easy digression, to 
speak of the way in which the holy author lived 
and died. His aim certainly was to maintain a 
strict observance of the Lord's day, yet to di- 
vest it, as far as possible, of everything like se- 
verity and weariness ; to throw over it a min- 
gled air o{ sanctity and cheerfulness : and I think 
he succeeded to a surprising degree. I find, at 
least, this complex idea of the Sabbath as a day 
of repose, of joy, of heavenly contemplation, in- 
delibly imprinted on my own mind, and I feel 
that I owe it to early associations. He encour- 

* Merle d'Aubigne's admirable History of the Reformation, 
M'Crie's of the Reformations in Italy and Spain, and Hethering- 
ton's of the Scottish Church, would open a wide range, and sug- 
gest innumerable topics for such conversations. 


aged all his children to learn music, instrument- 
al as well as vocal, on the principle that it add- 
ed to the delights and attractions of home, 
which he used to represent as, next to divine 
grace, the greatest safeguard of virtue. At our 
domestic concerts, gay as well as grave, he was 
a delighted attendant, and ' pleasing, yet mourn- 
ful to the soul' is the memory of them ! His 
parental discipline, though it included the scrip- 
tural and indispensable element of severity (for 
he was too much of a literalist to depart from 
so plain a teaching of the Word of God), yet, 
on the whole, was mild and indulgent, possibly 
to ap extreme ; and yet, I am sure, the thought 
of wounding that kind and noble heart was, of 
all earthly influences, the strongest to withhold 
his children from wrong. — It is at the instance 
of a highly-respected friend that I have attempt- 
ed, though too feebly executed, this ' domestic 
portraiture.' Would to God that I could paint 
to the life the pure joys and happy memories 
that cluster about a Christian Jiome — that spot 
to which, in the midst of this bleak and thorny 
world, some of the fruits and flowers of our na- 
tive Paradise seem to have been transplanted. 
Lovely to the eye of memory is that sweet and 
sheltered mansion, ' bosomed high in tufted trees.* 
the light struggling and quivering through the 
leaves of elms, locusts, and evergreens ; the 


* bow- window' of the eastern parlour looking out 
on a ' fresh, smooth-shaven lawn,' terminated by 
a row of venerable elms on the grounds of 
Colonel Williams; his own study, directly over 
it, commanding, in addition to this, a part-view 
of the * shadowy mountains' of Vermont ; the 
very air of the place — the ' genius loci' — seem- 
ing to conduce to peace and contemplation. 
There Christian hospitality spread its banquet 
and gave its welcome ; there, many a weary 
servant of God rested on his way, for his name 
and calling were always a sufficient introduction. 
Many a ' stricken deer' sought shelter beneath 
those shades ; many a heart, broken by adver- 
sity, was healed there by the balm of hospitable 
kindness and Christian consolation ; many a 
frame, shattered by missionary or pastoral la- 
bour, was recruited there. I have seen at one 
time a whole missionary family enjoying its 
cheer on their way to the Indians of the West, 
and, at another, Commodore M'Donough with 
his officers, after the brilliant victory of Lake 
Champlain. The honour of ' entertaining an- 
gels,' in the guise of God's humble people, he 
used to look upon and speak of as one of the 
greatest that could be put upon a Christian man- 
sion, and to this congenial circle, his hospitality, 
which was at first general and indiscriminate, 
was more and more restricted. ' Peace was 


upon that house,' for ' the Son of Peace' was 
there. And if there be a spot on earth which 
presents a picture of heaven, it is the abode in 
which the bounty of providence is thus conse- 
crated and thus enjoyed. 

" His warm love of country, and the deep in- 
terest which he took in -public events, is a trait 
which I do not feel at liberty to pass over in 
silence, especially as the opinion is sometimes 
expressed that the duties of a Christian minister 
are incompatible with those of a citizen, or, at 
least, furnish in some sort an exemption from 
them. He held no such opinion, but, on the 
contrary, maintained that the deposite of his vote 
was at once a right of which nothing could de- 
prive him, and a duty from which nothing could 
exonerate him. He had a high idea of the duty 
of an intelligent, calm, and conscientious exer- 
cise of the right of suffrage by every Christian 
citizen ; and I have known him (then an old 
man) very patiently and firmly to wait and 
make his way to the polls amid the turbulent 
scenes which sometimes occurred in the city of 
New- York in 1835-8, now happily, and w^e hope 
forever, done away by the improved arrange- 
ments for the election. He was, in his opinions 
and spirit, thoroughly an American and a Re- 
puhlicaii, and had great confidence in the well- 
working and lasting of our political system. I 
recollect an amusing instance of the excitation 


of this patriotic spirit. He was waiting, with a 
friend, at the hotel in Whitehall, for the arrival 

of General , with whom they were to have 

an interview on some business. Two English 
travellers were present in the public room of 
the hotel, belonging, doubtless, to that class who 
at once disgrace their own country and calum- 
niate ours, and are equally the enemies of both. 

General at length drove up to the door, in 

a very light and unpretending undress, for the 
weather was excessively hot. ' That' said one 
of the travellers, ' is an American general /' 
My father quietly observed that * we were too 
near to Lake Champlain to speak slightingly of 
American officers.' One of the most stirring 
recollections of his early years was the having 
witnessed, when a member of Columbia College, 
the inauguration of General Washington as Pres- 
ident of the United States, and the grave and 
commanding aspect and bearing of the Father 
of his Country. He delighted to pay a marked 
respect to the surviving officers and soldiers of 
the Revolutionary War, and I shall never forget 
the manner in which he introduced the venera- 
ble and excellent Major Popham* to a circle of 
friends at Saratoga : * I feel that we owe the 
most profound respect and the deepest gratitude 

* Now ninety-three years old ; the only surviver of the staff and 
the fannily of Washington, to whom he was aifMe-camp. 


to those brave and venerable men by whom our 
country's liberties were achieved, and to whom, 
under God, we are indebted for the great bless- 
ings we enjoy as American freemen.' The 
major replied with characteristic courtesy, and 
expressed his deep sense of the obligations of 
our country to religion and its ministers. — He 
often dwelt on the marvellous care of divine 
providence as manifested from first to last in 
our national history, by which a handful of 
weeping, praying exiles on the rock of Ply- 
mouth had spread out into ' a nation, great, 
mighty, and populous.' As a natural conse- 
quence of thus contemplating national affairs 
and prospects from the watchtower of faith, he 
always hoped well for the Republic. The reason 
which he gave for doing so was characteristic. 
At a time when the state of political parties por- 
tended great danger, a friend remarked to him 
that we seemed to be on the brink of a preci- 
pice. * Well,' he replied, ' it seemed so fifty 
years ago, and has often since, but God has 
somehow always interposed ; and as long as 
Christians in this land are labouring and pour- 
ing out their wealth for the spread of the gospel 
through the world, I have no idea that God will 
forsake us as a nation. If we take care of his 
cause, he will take care of our liberties.' He 
often expressed the same anticipation in relation 


to England. May God fulfil it in behalf of both 
nations, and cherish in the very heart of both 
the true conservative spirit — the spirit of Chris- 
tian faith and benevolence ! 

" His estimate of afflictions was that of a mind 
accustomed to comprehensive vievs^s of the plan 
of divine providence, and judging of all things 
under ' the powers of the world to come.' ' I 
have never met with a single instance of adver- 
sity which I have not afterward seen to be for 
my good.' ' I have never heard a Christian on 
his death-bed complaining of his afflictions.' 
These remarks he made near the close of his 
life. Once, on hearing it stated that an eminent 
minister of the gospel, who had been visited 
with severe afflictions, had of late preached oft- 
ener and more eloquently than for many years 
before, he smiled, and said to this effect, ' I have 
no doubt of it. Oh how blessed is sanctified 
affliction !' He used to speak of a young and 
highly intellectual and accomplished friend, who 
was manifestly on the path to ruin, and for 
whom ' prayer was made to God continually' by 
pious friends, for a long time apparently with- 
out success. God at length arrested him, and 
brought him to the feet of Christ by a disease 
which prostrated his frame, broke the pride of 
his intellect, and rooted out his sensual passions, 
though it entailed on him a life of almost inces- 
23 G G 2 


sant suffering. He cited this as an instance of 
the sovereignty of God's methods in ' fulfilling 
the desire of them that fear him ;' the ' terrible 
things in righteousness' by which he * answers' 
them. Newton's admirable hymn, 

' I asked the Lord that I might grow,' &c., 

he greatly admired as a history of the spiritual 
progress of every believer, exemplifying the 
same truth. He often spoke of the dryness and 
formality of our prayers while in an outwardly 
comfortable and prosperous state, compared 
with the energy with which the suffering soul 
pleads with God, and pours itself out before him. 
— ' Whether God smiles or smites, it is always in 
love.' — It is incredible what calmness and strength 
this habit of considering all things as ' of God,' 
and of viewing the present and future life of man 
as one continuous scene, gave him in ' suffering 
afflictions,' of which, notwithstanding the seem- 
ing prosperity of his lot, he had some which 
were peculiarly keen and bitter, as well as long- 
continued. It became, I may say, a part of his 
theory of the spiritual life, that every soul which 
God intends to sanctify and deliver from worldly 
influences must pass through a period of severe 
and varied trial. He thought that this period 
in his own life lasted for something more than 
ten years. 

" I have often thought, my dear friend, that 


pious cheerfulness and joy in old age are like the 
flowers that bloom late in autumn ; peculiarly 
warm, rich, and cheering in contrast with the 
bleak and wintry condition of nature around ; 
breathing at once of the spring that is past, and 
of the yet more glorious spring that is to come. 
I verily believe that my father's last two years 
were the happiest of his life ; so calm was he ; 
so confiding in God, in his promises, in himself; 
so delighting in the least thing in nature, every 
flower that he plucked, every scene that he 
looked upon ; so happj^ in his friends ; so full 
of good- will, kindness, and hope towards all men. 
His thoughts of the love of God seemed pecu- 
liarly to expand towards the close of his life. Of 
the great themes of the gospel, his mind seemed 
more and more to dwell on the glorious revela- 
tion, ' God is love.' He was sometimes deeply 
affected in speaking of the love of God, and of 
his great purposes towards man redeemed and 
restored in Christ. Even the manifold provision 
made for his happiness here ; the ' kind illusions 
of the wondering sense,' which render this world, 
fallen as it is, so magnificent and well-furnished 
an abode for an intellectual and imaginative 
creature, he spoke of with much emotion ; but 
with greater still of those breakings forth of far 
higher designs and glories yet to he revealed in 
the gospel. I remember his speaking to me on 


this subject, the love of God, and the future mani- 
festations of it towards his human offspring, 
while we were walking together in the country 
a few months before his death, in such a way 
that the spot, the attitude, the expression of his 
countenance at that moment will never pass 
away from my memory. 

" It seemed to me remarkable, too, that, as he 
approached the close of life, his worship was 
more and more offered in the form oi praise. 
When he proposed a hymn, it was almost daily 
one of these : 

* From all that dwell below the skies !' 

* Behold the glories of the Ijamb !' 
' Before his Father's throne !' 


* Behold the saints beloved of God !' 

or something that, in a like strain, celebrates the 
glories of Christ, the joys of the heavenly state, 
or the certainty and greatness of the Redeem- 
er's triumph in the world. 

" But I must hasten to the closing scene. He 
often expressed, in his latter years, the wish that 
his work and his life might end together. He 
loved life, it is true, with that peculiar strength 
and tenacity which characterize all active and 
sanguine temperaments, and sometimes said, 
* well, the day of our departure cannot be far 


off; but, for my part, I am not in haste for mine. 
It is pleasant to stay and see the progress of the 
kingdom of Christ,' &c., &c. Yet the fear of 
surviving to a state of imbecihty of mind and 
body was observed to disquiet him occasionally 
during the last tw^o or three years of his Kfe. 
He w^as noticed to be unusually dejected after 
seeing an old friend who had fallen into this 
state (so as to be scarcely able to recognise him), 
and several times anxiously inquired whether 
we observed any failure in his mental powers. 
It is said that Arnaud committed all the Psalms 
of David to memory, in order to furnish himself 
with the materials of meditation after the power 
of acquisition should be lost ; Beza could repeat 
all the Psalms in Hebrew after he was eighty 
years old ; and it is undoubtedly true that divine 
and spiritual thoughts and truths do live and 
flourish in the mind after the general desolation 
of its powers and loss of its acquirements ;* 
whether it be that their relation to the soul is 
more intimate, and therefore more enduring, or 
that they belong to the future rather than the 
past, and so remain with us after our hold upon 
the past is lost. Be the cause as it may, they 
are a sort of mental evergreens, and * still bring 
forth fruit in old age.' — My father relied much 

* A beautiful instance of this occurs in the account of the last 
hours of the excellent Bishop Wilson, by his chaplain. 


on the recollection of scripture during his latter 
days, and said to an intimate friend, within 
the year before his death, *I am committing 
hymns to strengtiien my memory.^ One morning, 
which he spent in a rail-car (as he afterward 
told my wife), he employed in recollecting and 
revolving the whole of the Assembly's Cate- 
chism, whose lucid and comprehensive defini- 
tions of Divine truths he always greatly ad- 
mired. — It pleased God #o * grant him the desire 
of his heart,' which I have mentioned above. 
He was never permitted to know the 'labour and 
sorrow' of an infirm old age. While he was 
busily engaged in his work, his sun was, unper- 
ceived, going down, and, just as his task was 
finished, his eternal rest began. He sank, like a 
worn-out veteran in his full armour, on a well- 
fought battle-field, and ' death was swallowed up 
in victory !' 

" It had been his fixed intention to spend the 
closing years of his life at liberty from public 
and official engagements. This he thought an 
old man's privilege ; and he used to say * it was 
better to withdraw a little too soon, than to wait 
till all but ourselves were convinced that it was 
time.' The retirement he contemplated was 
not one of inaction. ' Preparation for that eter- 
nity on which he must shortly expect to enter' 
was, indeed, to occupy much of it. But he ho- 


ped to render such general services to the Church 
of Christ as his age should permit and provi- 
dence direct to. To revise and republish some 
of his works — to visit extensively the churches 
^f-'":? Qv .on — to promote the inter- 

i i . ^uiogioal Seminary, and to advance 
the cause of colonization, were, I know, distinct 
objects which he had in view. He resigned the 
office of Corresponding Secretary of the Colo- 
nization Society in the winter of 1841-2. The 
solicitations of many friends induced him, how- 
ever, to postpone this step for one year, but he 
consummated it in the following winter. He 
was then undetermined whether to return and 
spend the remainder of his days in his own 
house at Salem, which had been unoccupied 
(except by a part of the family during the sum- 
mer months) since he had left it, or to reside 
with us at New-Brunswick. How many of our 
doubts are solved by time and providence ! An- 
other mansion was in preparation for him ; oth- 
er services than those which he had contempla- 
ted awaited him. 

" Near the end of the winter of 1843 he was 
confined to the house, and almost entirely to his 
room, by an inflammation of the eyes. An un- 
usual sadness seemed to oppress him. Though 
the rooms were darkened, to enable him to share 
the family repasts, he did not often join us, and 


could seldom be detained in the family circle af- 
ter eight o'clock in the evening. ' Come, take 
a book and read to me ; I am tired of medita- 
ting,' he would sometimes say, after passing a 
long time in silent thought, to the unceasing 
companion of his darkened room, whose love 
had ' ministered to him' through all hours and 
changes for nearly fifty years. Meditation, 
prayer, and hearing the Scriptures and books 
of a devotional character read to him, occupied 
these solitary hours. They seemed a providen- 
tial preparation for the scenes which were so 
soon to follow. 

" He recovered, however, and enjoyed for a 
week or two an unusually fine state of health 
and spirits. He had, as you remember, agreed 
to assist you in gathering in the fruits of a revi- 
val with which you w^ere then blessed, and had 
gone as far as New- York on his way to fulfil 
this engagement, with the intention of going up 
the river the next day. In the evening, in com- 
ing out of a heated committee-room (of the 
Young Men's Bible Society, I think) into the 
cold air, he took a severe cold. He awoke in 
the night, and said, * I feel very strangely. I 
will not attempt to go to Newburgh.' I arrived 
in town, as providence ordered it, early in the 
morning. As soon as he saw me, he said, ' I 
will go home with you to-day. I am very un- 


well.' On our way over he seldom spoke, but 
said, once or twice, * how unexpected ! yester- 
day I was perfectly well.' When we arrived at 
my house, he took my arm (a support he seldom 
accepted), and went up, very feebly, to his own 
room, to leave it no more till his departure to 
another world. 

" I know, my dear friend, how much the im- 
pressiveness of * dying thoughts' is increased by 
the sad concomitants of the scene, the broken 
voice, the deathlike countenance, the slow and 
solemn emphasis. Still, the very words of a dy- 
ing man are generally deeply interesting as well 
as instructive ; and I add such of my father's 
as I noted down at the time, which I soon began 
to do, for the rapid progress of his disease (a 
catarrhal fever) speedily made it manifest that 
' his days drew near that he should die.' 

" Soon after he was taken, after lying for some' 
time in thought, he exclaimed, * grace reigns 
through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus 
Christ our Lord ! I have preached his truth 
and grace, and now it is my comfort. The 
Lord can easily scatter this cloud. He can 
bring me back from the mouth of the grave. If 
it be his will, I should be glad to have a few 
months more — I do not ask years — just to set 
my house in order (a desire which he again ex- 
pressed in nearly the same form) ; but he knows 

H H 


infinitely well what is best. I have little entan- 
glement with this world.' 

" I remarked that, sooner or later, our earthly 
house of this tabernacle must come down to 
make way for our house which is from heaven. 
He interrupted me before I had finished the re- 
mark, saying, ' yes ! and who would live al- 
ways V 

" ' Who would live always away from his God ?' 

(and finished that beautiful verse from one of his 
favourite hymns) ; ' but,' he immediately added, 
* when we come to lie on a dying bed, it is the 
simple Word of God which must support the 
soul, and not these flashes of poetry. Let not 
your heart be troubled ; ye believe in God ; be- 
lieve also in me' (and several of the following 
verses from John, xiv.). 

"Once, after lying for some time silent, he ex- 
claimed, ' let Israel rejoice in Him that made 
him ! Let the children of Zion be joyful in their 
King ! Rejoice in the Lord always ; and again, 
I say, rejoice !' 

" Early on Saturday morning (April 16), when 
I inquired how he was, he replied, ' O ! I am 
going the way of all flesh as fast as — ' Pres- 
ently he took my hand in both his, and then laid 
his hand on my head, and said, ' you have been 
anxious that my life might be spared, but look 
at the condition of and ' (two old and 


intimate friends, whose old age had passed into 
a second childhood). I repeated the words, 

* Abba ! Father ! all things are possible with 
Thee !' ' Yes,' he added, ' but I cannot ask ab- 
solutely. I am persuaded that a sudden remo- 
val is more desirable than to linger on through 
many years of old age. I am afraid to ask for 
the continuance of life.' 

" Still earlier in the morning, before I came 
into the room, he said to my mother and sister, 

* could not you give me something to strengthen 
me, and enable me to speak more distinctly ? 
even if it should hurt me afterward, I wouldn't 
mind that, for it will soon be over. I don't ex- 
pect to survive. I have given up all expecta- 
tion of that, whatever. My warfare is nearly 
accomplished — my time is at hand.' 

" To one of his little grandsons (R. R. P.) he 
said, ' I am going to die, but God will live !' 

" When my mother was moistening his hands, 
he said, ' O how sweet ! how attentive to every 
want !' I remarked, that it was hardly possible 
to conceive of a state where we should meet and 
associate with each other in perfect health, and 
youth, and joy ; and if the offices of Christian 
love were so delightful here, what will they be 
there ? ' Yes !' he added, ' and if we cultivate 
them now, we shall possess them then. They 
that sow to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap 
life everlasting.' 


" Again, after silence for some time, he broke 
out, with a deep and solemn energy, which was 
very remarkable, into these exclamations, * How 
dark ! how dark are the dispensations of provi- 
dence ! When his intention is our prosperity 
and happiness, he lays the axe at the root of 
everything which seems calculated to produce 
the fruit,' and more to the same effect. 

" * No human being has had more cause to 
sing of mercy — mercy. I have put some thoughts 
on this subject on scraps of paper, which I in- 
tended to have finished' (or to that effect) ; * you 
will find them among my papers.' 

" I asked him if he had any message to leave 
to my brothers, in the event of his departure be- 
fore they arrived. He said, ' Leave all with 
God — all with God ! Let us not speak of any- 
thing earthly.' I inquired if he retained his con- 
fidence in colonization. He said, ' entirely — as 
one of the noblest causes. — It has everything to 
recommend it — as the cause of humanity, of re- 
ligion, of Africa. Why should they be banished 
from their homes, and outcasts from the family 
of nations ? But,' he added, * let us not speak 
of anything earthly. God be merciful to me a 
sinner ! is my cry.' 

" Once he lay some time silent, and then ex- 
claimed, with great fervour, 'what magnificent 
designs !' 


" In the midst of severe pains, * I w^ill bear the 
indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned 
against him.' 

" Again, in a broken voice, * O ! entreat your 
dear brothers and sister — no time to be lost — all 
— all — friends to Christ !' 

" ' I never knew a Christian on his death-bed 
to complain of his trials.' — ' A few moments of 
suffering, and an eternity of enjoyment !' 

" * All the sufferings of the believer are not 
hell, but they are all the hell he shall ever suf- 

" He awoke from a short sleep, just as the last 
Sabbath morning of his life was dawning, and 
exclaimed, with a strength and clearness of tone 
which surprised those around him, 

' No mortal care shall seize my breast.' 

" That morning we thought him better. His 
skin was softer, his respiration easier, and his 
utterance more distinct; but Dr. Van Deursen,* 
who was with him about half past six, was not 
much impressed by these favourable symptoms, 
as the pulse continued equally rapid. About 8 
o'clock, he requested that we would all unite 
around his bed in ' a short prayer, that, if it were 

* A tribute of filial gratitude is due to the more than profession- 
al assiduity with which this gentleman, accompanied by the ven- 
erable Dr. Charles Smith as consulting physician, attended his 
last hours. 



the Lord's will, he would grant him a speedy 
deliverance.' We then knelt around him, and 
offered up our thanksgiving to the Father of 
spirits that he had created, regenerated, adopted, 
and sanctified the soul of his servant ; that he 
had preserved it through all the various dis- 
cipline of this mortal life, and made it ripe for 
glory. We commended it to him who had loved 
it, and washed it in his own blood. We could 
not ask that our dear father should be taken from 
us, and we could not ask that he should be de- 
tained in the midst of suffering ; but we prayed 
that, when the hour came, he might be merci- 
fully released without a long struggle. 

" A little while after, he said, ' we are to pray 
without ceasing. Offer up a short prayer that 
the Lord would grant me a speedy release from 
this — lingering — conflict!' Again: 'The Lord, 
if it be his holy will, give me a speedy deliver- 
ance from this body of sin — of sin and death.' 
His utterance was very indistinct, but his up- 
lifted eye and hand showed that he was in prayer, 
and we could occasionally hear such exclama- 
tions as the following, very slowly uttered, and 
much interrupted : 'Blessed Jesus ! — dear Sav- 
iour ! — support me 1' Once, as we ceased pray- 
ing, he said, ' Amen ! the Father heareth al- 
ways.' ' Pray that the Lord would shorten 
these days of affliction ; 


* These lively hopes we owe 

To Jesus' dying love ; 
We would adore his grace below, 
And sing his power above.' 

"Once, after being silent for some time, he 
said, * O grace — grace — grace ! Grace reigns 
through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus 
Christ our Lord !' 

" He laid his hand on the head of each of his 
little grandsons, R. R. P., A. P. I., and A. P., and 
gave them his blessing, and expressed his de- 
sire (in what words I do not remember) that 
they might be followers of Christ. He told 
my youngest son (four years old) to repeat the 
words, ' suffer little children,' &c., which he did, 
and then he spoke to him of the happiness he 
would have if he came to Christ. ' Grandpa,' 
said the child, * are you going to die V His 
mother tried to check the question, but he re- 
ceived it with great sweetness and gentleness, 
* that will be just as — ' the rest we could not hear. 

" He was thrown into a kind of rapture, and 
we were all exceedingly melted, when one of 
us repeated the words, ' they shall hunger no 
more, neither shall they thirst any more, neither 
shall the sun light on them nor any heat; but 
the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, 
shall feed them, and shall lead them unto fount- 
ains of living water, and God shall wipe away 
all tears from their eyes.' 


" He spoke with great fervour of our infinite 
debt of gratitude for the love of Jesus. ' But 
for him,' he said, ' we must have suffered with 
apostate angels to all eternity the fruits of our 

" Dr. Janeway spent a few minutes at his bed- 
side on this (Sabbath) afternoon. When he in- 
quired how he was, he replied, * as I must ex- 
pect to be in this body of sin and death.' When 
he asked, ' do you find the Saviour near to you V 
he said, ' yes. I do not feel that warmth of 
love, that fervency of affection as before, but I 
rely fixedly on the Lord Jesus Christ.' 

" Mr. Phelps (Anson G.) called to see him in 
the evening. When he bade him farewell, ' fare- 
well,' said my father ; ' let us live near to Christ, 
and then all will be well, eternally well.' His 
interview with this highly-valued friend was 
very aflfecting, but the conversation is not re- 

" Towards night his sufferings from obstruct- 
ed respiration became very great. He had oft- 
en expressed the desire that he might depart on 
the Sabbath, and we thought he would not sur- 
vive the day. He lingered, however, through 
the night, though, as we thought, in great suf- 
fering. When we asked him, however, if he 
suffered much, he nodded his head, and said, * a 
little.' But he often cried, * when will this lin- 


gering conflict end ? O for a speedy and easy 
transition ! O for deliverance from this corrupt- 
ible body — this body of sin and death ! Come, 
blessed Jesus, dear Saviour, come ! come ! I 
long to depart.' 

" Feeling much exhausted and unwell, I went 
to bed about eleven o'clock. Between four and 
five I was awakened by my mother's almost 
distracted cries in my room, * O pray, pray for 
your dear father ! He is suffering dreadfully. 
O that I could see him released !' When I went 
into his room, he said, *just unite in a short 
prayer that the will of the Lord may be done.' 

" Sometimes, when his lips were moving, we 
could distinguish these and the like expressions, 
* blessed Jesus ! — dear Saviour ! — O for that tri- 
umphant flight ! — I long to depart 1' 

" ' Precious in the sight of the Lord,' said I, 
*is the death of his saints.' He immediately 
added, * O Lord, truly I am thy servant ; I am 
thy servant.' 

" ' Did you speak, dear father V * Yes — but — ' 

" We repeated to him, at short intervals, the 
following and similar passages: 'I know that 
my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in 
the latter day upon the earth ; and though after 
my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my 
flesh shall I see God.' ' In all these things we 
are more than conquerors, through him that 


Joved us.' ' Though our outward man perish, 
yet our inward man is renewed day by day; for 
our light affliction, which is but for a moment* 
worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal 
weight of glory.' ' Yet a little while, and He 
that shall come will come, and will not tarry.' 
When these words were repeated to him, his 
beaming eye and uplifted hand, and the inartic- 
ulate moving of his lips, showed how precious a 
cordial to his soul was the word of life. 

" Once, after his articulation was much broken, 
he said something which we could not under- 
stand. He repeated the words again and again, 
and raised himself in the bed, showing, by his 
countenance and manner, the utmost anxiety 
that we should catch his words. At length 
we understood him to say, * Isaiah, fifty-ninth — 
twenty-first.' When we repeated these words, 
and asked him if we were right, he nodded his 
head with an expression of great satisfaction and 
joy, and sank back upon his pillow. In behalf 
of all his posterity (for whose eye this is espe- 
cially recorded), most solemnly and fervently 
we would say. Amen ! Remember, O Lord, 
tliy word, on which thou didst cause thy dying 
servant to hope ! 

" He had, many years before, intimated his 
desire that he might take his long rest 'by the 
side of his revered father.' Once, in the course 


of his illness, he began to say something to my 
mother on this subject, but she interrupted him, 
telling him ' that it was quite needless ; that 
she knew all his wishes; that he should be 
buried from no other place than his own home 
at Salem, and rest in the very spot he desired.' 
At this assurance a smile of unspeakable rest 
and delight came over his features, and he al- 
luded to the subject no more. 

" A remarkable proof of self-possession occur- 
red but a short time before his death. He at- 
tempted, with much effort and difficulty, to say 
something to me, which I at length understood 
to remind me that the carriage must be sent to 
meet my (youngest) brother, w^ho was expected 
to arrive by the cars of that morning ; so ac- 
curate was his recollection of time; so strong, 
even in death, his parental love !* 

" It is delightful to recall the love which was 
so intensely diffused around that dying scene, 
and expressed, not only by his words, but by his 
countenance, the glance of his eye, the pressure 
of his hands, which were placed on the head or 

* This fact might be added to the very ingenious and striking 
argument by which Sharon Turner asserts the immortaUty of the 
soul, from the manifestation of identity and individuality in every 
idea and expression to the last moment of life. See his interest- 
ing statement and illustration of this doctrine, w^ith a great variety 
of examples, m the second volume of his Sacred History of the 
Creation, Letter 27, 


around the neck, now of one, now of another of 
the weeping circle around him, while, with his 
dying voice, he directed us to that Saviour who, 
through his earthly pilgrimage, had * redeemed 
him from all evil,' and who (to use one of his 
latest expressions, pronounced with great so- 
lemnity and energy) was ' his all in all/ While 
the expressions, ' dear husband !' ' dear father !' 
resounded around his dying bed, he said, ' say, 
rather, dear Saviour !' 

" He was in perfect possession of his faculties 
to the last, as far as we could judge by the ques- 
tions we addressed to him occasionally, till we 
saw that he was in the last struggle — if it could 
be called a struggle ; for his breathing ceased 
gradually and easily, and without painful effort. 
About half an hour before his death, I said, * my 
dear father, is the Lord Jesus present with you?' 
' Yes !' * Are you afraid to die V * No !' Sig- 
nifying both by the movement of his head, as 
articulation had become extremely difficult and 

" He expired about half past nine o'clock, on 
the morning of April 17th, 1843. 

"As soon as he had ceased to breathe, we 
joined in a solemn act of adoration and thanks- 
giving to Him who had preserved him through 
all the temptations and sorrows of this mortal 
life ; had supported him in the last conflict, and 


given him (we doubted not) an abundant en- 
trance into His everlasting kingdom. 

" It was wonderful, my dear friend, how com- 
pletely the sting and bitterness of death had 
passed away; its terror at the moment, its 
gloom in the retrospect. The shades of even- 
ing were soon gathering around us ; but not so 
(we remembered) in the world which he had 
entered ; * there shall be no night there.' When 
we sat down to the family repast, we were re- 
minded, by his vacant place at the table, that he 
was now one of that happy company who * shall 
hunger no more, neither thirst any more.' The 
first buds of spring were just opening around 
us ; the season, of all others, in which his cheer- 
ful spirit delighted ; and a feeling of sorrow was 
expressed by one of our number that he was not 
here to enjoy it. But where was he ? In that 
* land of pure delight,' 

• Where everlasting spring abides, 
And never-withering flowers,' 

O, divine Redeemer ! thou hast conquered 
death ! 

"In the night following there was a terrific 
thunder-storm. The bursts of thunder and flashes 
of lightning, in the dead of night, and at that un- 
usual season, were very awful. He had always 
shown a sensitiveness, not unmingled with ter- 
ror, at these displays of the * terrible majesty' of 
I I 


God ; but now, when I entered the chamber of 
death (the windows of which were open), how 
deep its repose ! how solemn its stihness ! How 
* great and terrible' that day when 'the trump 
of God' shall break even this deep sleep ! when 
all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of 
the Son of God, and shall come forth ! 

" The next morning his remains were removed 
to New- York, on the way to Salem. A funeral 
service was performed in the afternoon at the 
house of my brother-in-law, Richard Irvin, Esq. 
A large assemblage of his old friends wera 
present. The undertaker, however, having ex- 
amined the remains, pronounced it improper to 
open them. A very impressive address was 
delivered by the Rev. Dr. Knox, prayer was 
offered up by the Rev. Dr. Spring, and the ben- 
ediction pronounced by the Rev. Mr. M'Laren. 

" The remaining circumstances of the remo- 
val and interment are related in the following: 
letter, which I addressed to my mother from 
Salem on the morning after the funeral. If 
some of these details should appear unsuited to 
meet the public eye, I shall, I hope, stand excu- 
sed, by the conviction that they will not be un- 
interesting to his friends, and still more by the 
strong desire I feel that the whole scene may 
thus be presented to the eye of his own descend- 
ants ; * that the generation to come might know 


them — ^even the children which should be bom 
— that they might set their hope in God.'* 

" Salem, Saturday morning, April 22(1, 1843. 
" Join with us, dear mother, in acknowledg- 
ing the goodness of our heavenly Father, which 
has Been signally manifested to us in our jour- 
ney, and in every circumstance relating to the 
solemn rites which we came to perform. An 
accident on board the Rochester about midnight 
obliged us to pass to another steamboat between 
West Point and Poughkeepsie ; but as Captain 
Houghton very kindly offered us a separate boat, 
the transfer was made without any painful cir- 
cumstance. This, however, as the exchange of 
boats was made from one to two o'clock in the 
morning, reminded us of the goodness of God in 
ordering that none of the ladies should accompa- 
ny us. In the very accident itself, however, we 
saw and adored the hand of God, as it gave oc- 
casion for a public acknowledgment of the mer- 
ciful interposition of the Most High in our pres- 
ervation from imminent danger. This was done 
by the assembled passengers on board the steam- 
boat to which we had passed, the next morning, 
and an opportunity was thus enjoyed of speak- 
ing to a great number (about 200) the words of 
this life. The exercises were conducted by Dr. 
Edwards (of Boston) and myself Dr. E. allu- 

* Ps. Ixxviii., G, 7. 


ded in a very feeling manner to the death of 

* that distinguished man who had recently de- 
parted/ spoke of the peace and joy of his last 
moments, and earnestly exhorted them all to 

* live the life of the righteous, that they might 
die his death.' The chairman of the meeting, 
and many around me, were in tears ; the good 
seed was scattered over a soil softened both by 
the memory of their own recent deliverance 
and by general grief for the death of one whom 
all venerated and loved, and will, I cannot doubt, 
bring forth fruit to life everlasting. So you see, 
dear mother, even the mortal remains of our be- 
loved father carry a blessing along with them. 
After the exercises, Mr. W. V. came to me on 
the back part of the upper deck, where I was 
alone, introduced himself to me, and spoke with 
much affection, and in tears, of the memory of 
father. ' I shall never forget,' said he, * his last 
prayer in my family. I never knew a more 
heavenly-minded man.' Some, whom I never 
saw before, from different parts of the country, 
accosted me with similar expressions. Let us 
magnify the grace of God, which was in him, 
dear mother, and be comforted by these proofs, 
that the virtue of his example and instruction 
is not ended by his death. We reached Troy 
about half past one o'clock. A number of rel- 
atives and friends had assembled to meet us in 


the morning, but as our arrival had been re- 
tarded for seven or eight hours, they had mostly 
dispersed. I must, hov^rever, omit particulars 
just now. We left Troy (J., A., E., and my- 
self) about three o'clock P.M., and reached 
Salem at three in the morning. Our friends 
had vi^aited for us till nearly midnight, but had 
given up expecting us, and gone to bed. We 
stopped at the hotel, and E. and A. went for- 
ward to ascertain the condition of the house. 
It had been opened and warmed by our kind 
friends, and the remains were therefore imme- 
diately conveyed thither, and left, with proper 
attendance, till morning. When the two came 
back, having made these arrangements, E. said 
everything about and in the house looked as nat- 
ural, and like old times, as if it had just been left 
by the family (so considerate and thoughtful of 
our feelings had our dear friends here been). 
*And,' said he, 'just as we came out of the front 
gate, a little bird sprang up and sang so sweetly 
in the moonlight !' A warm and lovely morning 
was another smile of a kind providence ; but 
the greatest indulgence I have yet to mention. 
I had not the least idea that any of us would 
ever behold his countenance again, and was pe- 
culiarly distressed on account of A., to whom 
I had not mentioned the decision of the under- 
taker in New- York, who, after having examined 
I f 2 

378 MEMulK OF THE 

Ihc remains, thought they ought not to be seen 
again. But when I directed that one friend alone 
should examine them here, what was my surprise 
and thankfuhiess, dear mother, to learn that all 
discoloration had vanished — that not the slightest 
injury had been received by the removal (not- 
withstanding the frightful condition of the roads), 
and that the features' were perfectly calm, placid, 
and natural ! J., A., and myself passed about 
an hour alone with them (in the east parlour), 
and then gave way to the other relatives. The 
services of the interment commenced about two. 
It was found that but a small part of the multi- 
tude assembled could get into the house, and it 
was the general wish that the body should be 
conveyed to the church. We consented that 
this should be done after the services had begun 
at the house. They were begun by the Rev. 
Mr. Mairs, by singing the last four verses of the 
16th Psalm. With mingled sorrow and joy the 
great assembly united in the words, which, you 
know, he so much delighted in, 

" 'Because my soul in grave to dwell 
Shall not be left by thee ; 
Nor wilt thou leave thine Holy One 
Corruption to see. 

Thou wilt me show the path of life ; 

Of joys there is full store : 
Before thy face, at thy right hand. 

Are pleasures evermore.' 


Prayer was then offered by Mr. Mairs, and the 
procession moved to the church. The body 
was placed in the aisle before the pulpit, and an 
appropriate and eloquent address delivered by 
Mr. Halley, and prayer by Mr. Lambert. The 
congregation then passed around, and looked 
once more on the countenance of their beloved 
.pastor, the coffin having been removed to the 
door of the church for that purpose, and their 
groans and tears showed the depth of their un- 
feigned sorrow. We then proceeded to the 
graveyard, and laid him in his long repose by 
the side of his father's tomb. While the solemn 
ceremony of committing ' ashes to ashes — dust 
to dust,' was proceeding, a sweet and solemn 
strain of music arose at a short distance: it was 
a hymn sung by the choir of Mr. Lambert's 
church, expressive of the hope, joy, and thanks- 
giving with which a Christian's death, or, rather, 
his victory over death, should be contemplated. 
— There, in the spot which his heart desired, he 
sleeps in Jesus till the voice of the archangel 
and the trump of God shall awaken the dead, 
and * they that have done good shall come forth 
to the resurrection of life.' 

" Yours, dear mother, 

" Most affectionately, 

« J. P." 


" Thus, my dear friend, I have endeavoured 
to comply with your request. The deepest im- 
pressions left on my own mind by the scenes 
I have described and the character I have at- 
tempted to review, were these : the pure glory 
of a benevolent and heavenly life ; — the wisdom 
and the happiness of unreserved devotedness 
to Christ ; — the divine power of the Christian 
hope to exalt the soul above the sufferings of 
the body, and the awful fears which attend our 
departure from life ; — and, on the whole, the 
truth of the inspired declaration, that 'godli- 
ness is profitable unto all things, having promise 
of the life that now is and of that which is to 

" May the same * precious faith,' the same 
glorious and divine hope, be the portion in life 
and the joy in death of all who may read these 

" I am, my dear friend, yours very truly and 
respectfully, J. Proudfit. 

♦• The Rev. Dr. Forsyth." 


The preceding letter renders it quite useless 
to enter into a minute analysis of Dr. Proudfit's 
character, or to indulge in lengthened reflections 
upon his career as a man and a minister of 
Christ. Yet a few concluding words will not 
be inappropriate. " He was a good man, full of 
the Holy Ghost and of faith." The secret of 
his life, of his personal holiness, his unwearied 
labours to do good to others, is well expressed 
by Macarius in the brief sentence (on the title- 
page) from his Homily on keeping the Heart — 
" the head of every virtue and the source of all 
good works is constant perseverance in prayer." 
He was eminently a man of prayer — one who 
continued instant in prayer, walking closely with 
his God, and therefore was he honoured to fill 
up a sphere of activity, and attain a measure of 
usefulness far beyond anything which mere in- 
tellectual abilities or scientific attainments, even 
though they were of the highest order, could 

The grand desire of Dr. Proudfit's heart was 
for the power to do good on a large scale. His 
early and oft-repeated petition was, that the 
Lord would bestow upon him those gifts and 
graces which would specially fit him to act well 

382 coNCLUsroN. 

his part in the age and the country in which h!s 
lot was cast ; and, certainly, every one who 
reads with care the records of his life, must own 
that this prayer was not unanswered. To the 
town of Salem, where he so long resided as a 
Christian pastor — to the county of Washington 
— to the early settlers in Northern and Western 
New- York — to multitudes in many other quar- 
ters of our country, and to the dwellers in other 
lands, he was in various ways the minister of 
lasting good. 

The history of Dr. Proudfit shows — and this 
we deem to be one of its most important lessons 
— ^^how extensive an influence may be acquired, 
and how large an amount of good may be done, 
by persons whose position would seem to be not 
the most favourable for wide-extended useful- 
ness ; it proves that this depends much more 
upon the spirit the minister possesses, than the 
place in which he is settled. The retired coun- 
try pastor, while diligently feeding the flock of 
which the Holy Ghost hath made him overseer, 
at the same time can, if he will, in various w^ays 
labour most beneficially for others far beyond 
the narrow limits of his parish. In saying this, 
however, we would not be understood as urging 
the adoption of those precise methods of benev- 
olence which Dr. Proudfit employed, and with 
such liappy success ; in the altered circumstan- 


ces of the Church and the country, these may 
not be so needful now, nor promise the same 
rich results that were produced by them forty 
years ago. But what we would urge with all 
earnestness and affection is the cultivation of the 
principles, the spirit which prompted the vener- 
able subject of this memoir to publish so many 
tracts and sermons, and to make so many jour- 
neys through the wilderness, that he might break 
to the scattered sheep dwellinor in it the bread 
of everlasting life. 

The whole aspect of affairs in the Church of 
God is, in the present day, widely different from 
what it was when Dr. Proudfit entered the min- 
istry. Fifty years since, the missionary move- 
ments were just beginning ; the long-wished-for 
days when the followers of the Redeemer shall 
see eye to eye were thought by many to be close 
at hand ; the ancient might and mastery of anti- 
Christian Rome appeared ready to vanish away: 
in a word, it seemed as if the first rays of mil- 
lennial glory were already beaming upon the 
Church. How changed the scene now ! An- 
ti-Christ is fast resuming his former sway over 
the monarchies of Europe, and even in this land 
of freedom, the number of his followers, and the 
power of his influence are increasing with such 
rapid strides, as to awaken the anxious fears of 
the Christian patriot ; controversies which were 


once supposed to have been permanently settled 
have been revived, and are carried on with a 
deeper earnestness than ever. We know not 
what may be in the womb of Providence ; but 
ours are evidently eventful times ; well there- 
fore does it become the youthful minister, and 
all who are looking forward to the sacred office, 
to study their signs, and to seek with especial 
earnestness from the Church's Head the gifts 
and graces that shall fit them for their age, that 
in the coming day of action it may be said of 
them, as of the men of Issachar of old, " These 
have knowledge of the times, and know what 
Israel ought to do." 


Date Due