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Barr) “ offered himself as an associated member with us, to aid in the great work in which we are engaged. We received him as a Unitarian minister, yet a brother beloved, faithful, devoted, zealous, and commended him as a member of this conference. If this be a paradox,' be it so. I would to heaven there were more of that catholic, fraternizing spirit among Christians generally! Subsequently to this, Brother Fuller's impaired health required him to leave his flourishing school in Belvidere."
Thus we have given a brief statement of a Western experience of two years ; and we think those two fleeting years form as bright pages as any in this biography. We believe God accepted the devotion of the young, zealous heart, like the grateful offering of Abel's sacrifice. And the reaper received wages.
“The proper study of mankind is man."
VN his return from the West, in 1845, Ar
thur Fuller entered the Cambridge Divinity School one year in advance; having already,
amidst his active duties, gone through with the first year's studies of that institution. Thus, in what Choate describes as “fitful, fragmentary leisure,” he had laid up half the allowance of a student in theology, while performing the double function of teacher and preacher. More than the other half he had learned from the book of nature and man. He had stored his mind with grand images from the vast level or billowy roll of the prairie ; he had entered heart and soul into the onward rush of Western life, and had thus obtained a momentum of activity, an energy of enterprise, which continued to impel him through life. He had acquired a copious, flexible, extempore utterance, a power of suiting his thought to the audience, an aptitude in moulding to his purpose the lessons of passing events. A Western audience, , in those days, was held by no conventionality, and would go out at any point of the speaker's address,
when his attraction ceased. He must interest, or have no hearers, and when he ceased to interest he had immediate notice of it by a vanishing audience. Thus the student gained an admirable discipline in the school of human nature, and learned to " catch men.'
In the classic shades of Cambridge our student now devoted himself to study, contemplation, reasoning, and prayer. Those momentous themes of humanity, redemption, immortality, and heaven, the eternal interests of the soul, which have exercised the most earnest intellects through all the ages of man, he zealously dwelt upon, grappling with doctrinal questions, settling his own convictions, and studying modes of reasoning by which to impress his convictions on others. Yet he was so far a practical man, that he could take no cloister-like pleasure in reading and reflection, and was incessantly seeking the most available application of truth to life, the associated life of the race of man.
Vacation was the signal for him to engage in some new expedition as a preacher. The first was usefully spent in Montague, Massachusetts. Five persons, during his ministration, joined the church in this place, which had not for three years before had a single addition. He also lectured on temperance to a crowded house. His second winter vacation he spent in preaching at Windsor, Vermont. He writes home from here, describing his labors apart from his regular Sabbath preaching: “I have established a Bible-class, which includes young and old, and meets on Tuesday evenings; also a Sabbath school which I superintend myself; and I preach on Thursday evenings. My time
is all taken up. Last Sunday evening fifty persons assembled to see me at my residence.” Again he writes: “I know that I am a miserable correspondent this winter ; but I am hurried, hurried, hurried. The society is deeply interested now in the concerns of religion, and I have to visit a great deal and write two sermons every week in addition. I prefer to write discourses, as being at present best for me. My audiences have largely increased, and I believe I am doing some good.”
He seemed to hear the sighing of the prisoner in the State penitentiary established at Windsor, and could not be content without visiting that institution. He writes in reference to it as follows:
66 The humane efforts of those who have charge of the convicts have done much to alleviate the suffering inevitably attendant upon long confinement, and great exertion is made to provide for the best interests of those whose crimes have brought them into this gloomy place. It caused me, however, some surprise as well as gratification to hear, as I approached the door, the voices of many strong men united in singing; and I never felt more thankful to God for the power of music to soften and purify the heart, than when looking upon that band of prisoners whose whole attention seemed absorbed by their song. It was my purpose to deliver a temperance lecture, since intoxication in this State, as well as throughout the civilized world, is the prolific source of crime. The convicts, I found, were practising temperance melodies. It was touching to hear the strains of that household song, Long ago,' echoed amid those gloomy walls ; and as I gazed upon
countenances where sin and painful thought had written somewhat variant lines, I could not but believe many were thinking of bygone and innocent days, when brighter hopes illumined their pathway, when guilt had stained neither hand nor heart. this long ago' with a large portion of that number, who were yet young, scarce having reached the age of twenty-five. When the chaplain told me how few had ever been under religious influences in childhood, and that most of them had been neglected boys, educated only in vice, my heart refused harshly to condemn them, nor could I feel anything but profound pity. How many, now honored and respected by the world, would have been equally stained, had they been nurtured only amid scenes of infamy.
“ I incidentally endeavored, in the course of my lecture, to convince the auditory, that the object of government in punishing crime is to protect society; yes, often to protect men from themselves; and that, if they were pardoned to-morrow, or had never been detected, punishment, from its nature, would still be inevitable, because conscience would harass with its bitter reproaches, and they would have known their undiscovered guilt and God also.
“Upon Monday, I accompanied the chaplain once more to the prison, and through the favor of its officers was allowed to converse freely with any of the convicts. I cannot tell you how much satisfaction this gave me; they seemed generally so ready to acknowledge their wrong-doing, to be penitent, and desirous of reform. Alas! many of them may break those resolves, or the world's harsh treatment and cold scorn