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A RURAL MEDITATION.
What soft delight the peaceful bosom warms,
But this delightful season must decay ;
The “ Further Particulars" of the Rev. Mr. Newton, communicated by a correspondent, to whom we are under many obligations, came too late for this number, they shall have a place in our
biographical department next month. Several other communications have been received, some of which will appear in our future pages.
o The account of the transactions of the General Association, promised in our last, was not received in season for this number.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. JOHN WITHERSPOON, D.D. LL. D.
PRESIDENT OF NEW-JERSEY COLLEGE, AMERICA.
From the Evangelical Magazine.
ness and quickness of percepbranch of a very respectable fam. tion. ily, which had long possessed a At the age of 14 he was remov. considerable landed property in ed to the University of Edinthe east of Scotland, He was burgh ; where he continued atlineally descended from the Rev. tending the different professors, John Knox, well known as the with a great degree of credit in prime instrument of spreading all the branches of learning, un. and establishing the reformed til the age of 21, when he was religion in Scotland. The Doc. licensed to preach the gospel. tor was born on the 5th of Feb. When a student at the Divinity ruary, 1722; and his father was Hall, his characterstood remark at that time minister of the par. ably high for his taste in sacred ish of Yester. He was a wor. criticism, and for a precision of thy man,-eminent not only for thinking, and a perspicuity of piety, but for literature, and for expression rarely attained at so a habit of extreme accuracy in all early a period. his writingsand discourses. The He had scarcely left the Uni. father's example may be supposed versity when he was invited to to have contributed not a little to be assistant and successor to his form in the son that taste and father, in the parish of Yester; love of correctness, united with but he chose rather to accept an a dignified simplicity, for which invitation from the parish of he was so justly distinguished Beith, in the west of Scotland; through the whole of his life. where he was ordained with the
Young Witherspoon was very universal consent of the people, early sent to the public school at and where he afterwards received Haddington; where no expense many pleasing tokens of their was spared in his education. high esteem and cordial affection, Here he was distinguished for as. From Beith he soon received siduity in his studies, for sound. a call to the large and flourish. hess of judgment, and for clear. ing town of Paisley ; where he Vol. II. New Series.
resided with high reputation, and New Jersey College was foun. laboured in the work of the Lord ded, and has since been chiefly with uncommon success ; and supported, by private liberality there his name will long be held in and zeal. Its finances were then sacred remembrance.
in a very low and declining con. During his residence at Pais. dition : but his reputation exci. ley he was invited to Dublin, to ted an uncommon liberality in take the charge of a respectable the public ; and his personal congregation in that city. He exertions, which extended from was also invited to Rotterdam, Massachusetts to Virginia, soon in the United Provinces ; and to raised its funds to a flourishing Dundee, in his own country : state. but he could not then be induced But its chief advantages were to quit such a sphere of comfort derived from his literature, his and usefulness as Paisley afford. superintendance, his excellentex. ed him. He rejected also, in the ample, and from the general tone first instance, the invitation of which he gave to the literary the Trustees of the College of pursuits of the students. For. New Jersey, in America. He merly, the course of instruction thought it almost impossible to had been too superficial, and the dissolve connexions at home, metaphysics and philosophy that which had been so long endear. were taught, tinctured with the ed to him, to leave a place dry and unedifying forms of the where he was so much respected schools. This defect, however, and so very happy : bnt urged ought not to be imputed to the by the friends whose judgment he worthy men who had before premost respected, and whose friend. sided over the institution; but ship he most valued; hoping too, rather to circumstances arising that his sacrifices might be more from the infant state of the coun. than repaid by his being made try, over which it was not to peculiarly useful in promoting be expected that they could, all the cause of Christ in the new at once, have a sufficiently com. world; and knowing that Jersey manding power; but since the College had been consecrated election of Dr. Witherspoon from its foundation to those great to the presidency, learning has objects to which he had devoted received an extension, before unhis life, he consented, on a second known in the American seminapplication, to wave every oth. aries. He introduced into their er consideration, and to take the philosophy the most liberal and important charge to which he had modern improvements of Europe. been called, with the concurrent He included in the philosophical wishes and the highest expecta.
course the general principles of tions of all the friends of the Col. policy and public law; he inlege. Their expectations were
corporated with it sound and ranot disappointed. The reputa- tional metaphysics, equally retion and prosperity of the Col. mote from the doctrines of fatality lege under Dr. Witherspoon's and contingency; from the bar. administration, equalled the high. renness of the schools, and from est hopes that even the most san- the excessive refinements of those guine entertained.
contradictory, absurd, and im
pious classes of skeptics, who fice. This he considered as his either wholly deny the existence highest character, and honour of matter, or maintain that noth. in life. ing but matter exists in the uni. The College having been col.
lected as soon as possible after its The number of men of distin. dispersion, instruction was guished talents, in the different commenced under the immediate liberal professions, who received care of the vice-president.* Dr. the elements of their education Witherspoon's name, however, under Dr. Witherspoon, demon. continued to add celebrity to the strate how eminent his services institution ; and it has fully were to the college of New Jersey. recovered its former reputaUnder his auspices have been for. tion. med a great proportion of the cler- At the close of the American gy of the American Church ; and struggle, the Doctor feeling age to his able instructions, Ameri- advancing upon him, was desir. ca owes many of her most distin. ous of retiring from Congress, guished legislators. Above thir- and, in a measure, from the bur. ty of his pupils have arisen to the dens of the College. But, not. honour of being members of the withstanding his wish for repose, Congress; and among these are he was induced, through his at. to be found some of the first tachment to the institution over characters for reputation and which he had so long presided, usefulness.
once more to cross the ocean to Dr. Witherspoon continued promote its benefit. He again directing the institution till the visited Britain ; but the fruit of commencement of the American his voyage was not answerable war. But that calamitous event to the wishes of his American suspended his functions and dis- friends ; yet they felt not the less persed the College. He then en. indebted to his enterprize and tered upon a new scene, and ap. zeal. peared in a
character. Doctor Witherspoon had now Knowing his distinguished abil. educated five hundred and twenty ities, the citizens of New Jersey three young men, one hundred and elected him as one of their dele. fifteen of whom were afterwards gates to that Convention which ministers of the gospel. He had formed their Republican Consti. the satisfaction to see many of tution.
his former pupils filling the first From the committees of the offices of trust under the govern. State he was sent early in the year ment : and on returning one 1766, as a representative of the day from the General Assembly people of New Jersey to the Con. of the Presbyterian church, then gress of United America. But sitting in Philadelphia, he remarkwhile he was thus engaged in ser. ed to his particular friend, I ving his country in the character cannot, my dear Sir, express the of a civilian, he did not lay aside satisfaction I feel, when I obscrve his duty as a minister. He gladly that a majority of our General embraced every opportunity of
The Rev. Dr. Samuel S. Smith, preaching, and of discharging who was unanimously chosen Dr. With. the other duties of his sacred of. erspoon's succesor, May 6, 1795.
Assembly were once my own pu- great and understanding mind, á pils.'
quick apprehension, and a solid For more than two years after judgment. his death, he suffered the loss of Dr. Witherspoon's talents his sight; which contributed to were various. He was not only hasten the progress of his other a serious writer, but one who disorders. These he bore with a possessed also an uncommon fund patience and cheerfulness rarely of refined humour and delicate to be met with, even in those satire. A happy specimen of eminent for wisdom and piety. this is seen in his Ecclesiastical His activity of mind and anxiety Characteristics. The edge of his to be useful, would not permit wit in that performance was di. him, even in this depressing sit. rected against certain corrupuation, to desist from the exer. tions in principle and practice, cise of his ministry, and his du. prevalent in the church of Scot. ties in the College. He was fre. land ; and no attack that was quently led into the pulpit, both ever made upon the moderate at home and abroad, during his clergy gave so deep a wound or blindness; and he always acquit. was so severely felt. ted himself, even then, in his As a preacher, Dr. Wither. usually accurate, impressive, and spoon's character stood remark. excellent manner. He had the ably high. In this department felicity of enjoying the full use he was, in many respects, one of of his mental powers to the very the best models op which a young Jast. He died on the 15th day pulpit-orator could form himself. of November, 1794, in the 738 It was a singular felicity to the year of his age.
students in the College of New. He was buried in the public Jersey, that they had such an ex. burying-ground in Princeton, ample before them. Religion, where a handsome monument is from the manner in which it was erected to his memory, with a treated by him, always command. Latin inscription, detailing many ed the attention of the hearers, of the leading events in his life. even when it did not savingly
reach their hearts. An admira. Of Dr. Witherspoon's char. ble textuary, a profound theoloacter as an author, it is not ne. gian, an universal scholar, sim. cessary to say much : his wri. ple, yet dignified, in his manner, tings are before the public'; and, he brougbt forth all the advan. to every serious, intelligent read. tages derived from these sources, er, they must discover an uncom. 'to the illustration of divine truth. mon knowledge of human nature, Though always solemn, affectand a deep and intimate acquaint. ing, and instructive, he was by ance with the Holy Scriptures. no means the most animated oraThey generally strike us as being tor. A peculiar affection of his at once eloquent and convincing, nerves, which generally overcame grave and attractive, profound him when he allowed himself to and plain, energetic and simple. feel very keenly on any subject; They evidently shew that the au. obliged him, from his earliest enthor's learning was very exten. trance on public life, to impose a sive ; that God had given him a strict restraint on his sensibility.