Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

trate, and when he has finished the picture, perfection asks nothing more.

Mr. Gough's oratory has none of the classical finish of Burke, the stinging satire of Pitt, or the massive grandeur of Webster; but it flows onward like a strong mountain torrent, its surface now flashing with the star-light of wit, then dark with the heaving billows of passion, but always possessing a power irresistible. What early education omitted in his discipline, experience has recompensed; what he failed to acquire in the schoolhouse of boyhood, he learned in the school of life. To an originality of conception In thought, nature has added the perfect ability of a mimic, so that his scope is not limited to one subject or to one method of treating it. He possesses a fine musical voice which prepossesses one in his favor, and relieves the monotony too frequent in a discourse ; altogether, he is one of the most fascinating speakers we have heard. Some parts of his orations, like that above quoted, appear well in print, but usually their beauty lies in his inimitable manner of delivery; he never writes an oration, but having acquired an offhand habit, the natural consequence is a disconnectedness of style which would appear imperfect as a whole; nevertheless, we find in his speeches occasional passages which cannot easily be excelled in the language for touching pathos, or bewitching beauty. After all, descriptions do not touch him; he must be

heard and seen to be appreciated. He came in a time when he was most needed, when the mere experience of the reformed inebriate was becoming threadbare. His stirring appeals aroused the flagging strength of the cause, and reänimated its adherents. Once only, the devices of fiends for a short time prevailed, and by means of a drugged mixture administered under the guise of friendship, he was drawn from the path of rectitude; but being reclaimed by his friends, he has ever since been a more uncompromising foe to rum drinking than ever. When the idea of totally restraining the traffic in intoxicating drinks was developed in the Maine law; it found in him a firm supporter and zealous advocate. To the great work of the temperance reformation he has consecrated his life, and for its welfare he hesitates not to sacrifice the best energies of his being. When intemperance shows its monster head he is ready to strike a blow at his life. He has now crossed the ocean, and is lecturing to the benighted millions of Europe, speaking words of encouragement to the fainting, and assisting the slave of the winecup in high places and in low to break the thralldom which enchains him, and become free. No one without his experience could have done his work; and we do not hesitate to rank him among the most distinguished of American reformers.

CHARLES G. FINNEY.

It is astonishing how

many

different appearances are given of an eminent person by different biographers. In reading Scott's or Alison's history of Napoleon, we should never dream that he was anything but a tyrannical usurper wading through seas of blood to the throne of the world; while in the account of Mr. Abbott we see but a stern and resolute patriot, who from the sense of duty unwillingly offered human sacrifices upon the altar of his country. We have noticed the same shade of difference in various representations of the subject of the present sketch. One of these was a late memoir of Dr. Nettleton, containing allusions to Mr. Finney, which we shall refer to again, remarking here that there is perhaps no man of the same religious eminence living, about whom society at large has as great variety of opinions as of President Finney. Political squabbles, though of not half the importance, have always taken a more vital hold of society in general than theological discussions, and it is owing perhaps to the reason that the true position of this distinguished theologian is no better known to the world. Having taken some pains to investigate and ascertain the facts

in regard to his character, we hope to give it a fait delineation in the following paragraphs.

Charles G. Finney was born in Litchfield county, in the year 1792. Two years after, his parents, who were in moderate circumstances, removed to “the Black river country," New York, with their family, where Mr. Finney spent the years of his childhood. His character as a leader began to develop itself in pouth ; in sports his associates ranked him among the foremost, yet in school he was studious, and it is remarked by an early acquaintance, that mathematics was to him but a recreation. By the intense vigor of his intellect he was enabled to master easily what other boys did only by close application, and he found considerable time to wield the sledge at his father's anvil. Here he took his first lesson in moulding the hot iron to a desired shape, and here he first felt in his own breast the glowings of a fire which should send forth glowing truths, to arouse men from the slumbers of carnal security, and light the fires of reform. Here he learned the force of one strong arm under the control of a brave heart and clear intellect, and while his physical system was gaining muscular strength from continual action, his mind was as constantly acquiring an energy no less needed to prepare him for his great work. At the age of twenty he returned to Connecticut and commenced teaching a day-school and giving instruction in music,

at which he gained considerable reputation. He subsequently returned to New York, and entered upon the study of law, which he completed honorably; was admitted to the bar, and practiced for a time in that state. Up to this period, though not wild, he had paid no particular personal attention to religious subjects. He was what is called a strictly moral man, but now being led to a more thoughtful contemplation of divine truth and the claims of God upon him, he perceived that his life had been one of rebellion and sin; and, yielding to the powerful convictions of the Divine Spirit, he submitted his whole being to God.

His plans and purposes now took a new direction, and he consecrated himself to the ministry. After studying theology one year at Auburn Seminary, at the age of thirty he commenced preaching as an Evangelist, in the larger cities of New York. during the powerful revival that attended this portion of his ministry that he and Dr. Asahel Nettleton came somewhat into collision.

Dr. Nettleton was nine years older than Mr. Finney, and had then been laboring as an evangelist for twenty-one years, principally in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. He was a preacher of altogether a different character from Mr. Finney, being mild and persuasive, and had won the affections of the people among whom he had labored and doubt

G*

It was

« AnteriorContinuar »