« AnteriorContinuar »
Dr. Smith, then, Vice President of the college ;- and he re ceived from him a pressing invitation to return and assist in the instruction of the lower classes of the college This office he accepted, and, while he continued to occupy it, performed its duties with acknowledged faithfulness and reputation.
The situation in which he was now placed was favourable to the highest improvement; every advantage which he could dex. şire for storing his mind with useful knowledge was afforded him. He prosecuted his theological studies. under President Smith with unremitting ardour, not only attending to the less tures which he regularly delivered to his students of divinity. but also attentively reading those treatises of the old divines which contain so much solid theology and display such exten sive erudition. Here too he extended his acquaintance with the
great writers of antiquity ; the poets, the orators, and the historians, of Greece and Rome ; and read with avidity and at tention the British classics, for which, from a child, he had a peculiar relish. By being familiar with these excellent more dels of writing, he acquired that ease and elegancy, of style, and that correctness and delicacy of taste, which are percepti ble in all his productions. He had before made some progress in the French language ; anxious to become still more accurately acquainted with it, he, at this time, renewed the pleasing study, and made himself so far master of it as to read it with readiness and ease. He admired many of the French authors, and was frequent in the perusal of their writings Sometimes, when the clergyman who officiated on the Subbath was absent or indisposed, it would devolve upon him to read a sermon to the students. On such occasions, he would frequently choose some favourite French divine, and read the sermons of Superville, Beausobre, or Saurin, translating as
he proceeded with as much facility as if he were reading his own language.
But while he was thus enriching his mind with useful knowledge, he was not neglectful of personal piety ; while he was making the most rapid progress in literature and science, he was advancing in the experience of divine things, daily becoming more holy and humble. He had chosen, as his profession, the sacred office of the ministry, and while he was conscious of the important work in which he was to engagé, and of the necessity of peculiar grace to prepare him for its duties, he panted with ardour for the holy service, and longed to be early and extensively employed in the vineyard of Christ. To this darling object were directed all his time and talents, all the ardour of his soul.
Having passed through the usual trials with high approbation, he was licensed to preach the gospel, on the 7th of May, 1800, by the Presbytery of New-York. As soon as he appeared in public, his preaching excited universal notice, and was every where regarded with the highest admiration. The charms of his eloquence attracted multitudes to his preaching ; all acknowledged his superior and uncommon talents ; his fame spread far and wide ; and in a few months he gained the highest reputation as a pulpit orator. When we consider the character of his preaching, it should not excite our wonder that such an effect was produced, that he was so universally popular, and that such multitudes crowded to hear him. In his preparation for the pulpit he was careful and particular, and always entered the sacred desk with discourses that were the result of deep and profound study.
It has already been remarked, that he was fond of the French preachers, and was in the habit of frequently perusing their
sermons. He admired the beauty of their imagery and descriptions; their forcible addresses to the imagination and passions ; their great earnestness and warmth ; their tender and pathetic expostulations. In these respects he esteemed the French writers as good models for young men ; he studied them for these qualities, and studied them with success ; he caught the glowing spirit which breathes in their discourses, wrote with the same brilliancy of fancy, was equally happy in the management of the bold figures of passion, and, doubtless, was as successful in producing the same effects. But while he thus admired and imitated these splendid beauties of a Massillon, a Flechier, and a Bossuet, he was not insensible to their defects. These faults he neither copied nor admired ; in sound sense and acute reasoning, he more resembled the English divines ; and united, with their argumentative eloquence, the imaginative and impassioned oratory of the French. His discourses were always purely evangelical, and founded on subjects which warm and interest the heart ; his soul panted with ardour for the salvation of sinners ; principles derived from Heaven seemed to influence all his actions. Should we then wonder that an energy and animation were imparted to his solemn appeals which could not be resisted ? Should we wonder that the youthful preacher every where excited astonishment and admiration ; that in the village, and in the city, all who heard him were not only instructed and edified, but charmed and delighted ?
After he was licensed, he continued a few months at Princeton, attending to the duties of his office, closely engaged in composing discourses, and preaching to the congregation on the afternoon of every Sabbath. In these labours he was successful in the cause of his Divine Master, and was the instrument of doing much for the promotion of religion.
His extraordinary powers, as a preacher, soon attracted the attention of important churches ; and many who were destitute of a pastor desired to enjoy his valuable ministry. In October, 1800, a unanimous request was presented to him from the Presbyterian congregation of Newark, to become the colleague of Dr. Mc.Whorter, that venerable servant of God, who was such an ornament to the church of Christ, and whose memory is still so highly revered. In the same month he received a pressing solicitation from the congregation of Elizabeth-Town, to become its pastor. This, together with the former invitation, was laid before the Presbytery at its regular autumnal meeting.
The invitation from Elizabeth-Town, it would be readily conceived, was most agreeable to his wishes and feelings. To exercise the pastoral office in a place where he had, from his infancy, been educated, among his endeared friends and relatives; where he had spent the greatest part of his past life, and had formed the strongest and most tender attachments, could not but gratify one who was social in his disposition, who possessed so warm and affectionate a heart. But, in a matter of such vast importance, he was not wholly guided by his feelings; he sought the divine direction ; he solicited the advice of his most judicious friends, and, after due deliberation, accepted the invitation.
On the 10th of December, 1800, the Presbytery met at Elizabeth-Town, ordained him to the work of the gospel ministry, and installed him pastor of that church. The exercises on this occasion were remarkably impressive ; all things conspired to affect the feelings of the ministers, and gratify the hearts of the people ; all things united in making it a solemn and interesting day. The ordination sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Mc. Whorter. The charge to the minister was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Rodgers, of New-York ; it was most impressive and affecting ; such as might have been expected from that great and good man. He was peculiarly attached to Mr. Kollock, and often acted as a father towards him, giving him his kind and paternal advice. In such a relation he seemed now to stand, as a parent addressing an affectionate child. With what affection and tenderness he addressed him by the endearing name of “ my dear son,” the members of that congregation still remember and often mention.
After he was fully invested with that sacred office, for which he had ardently panted for many years, he immediately entered with diligence and zeal upon its important duties. Although it is, in some respects, pleasant and gratifying to the feelings of a young man to reside as a minister in his native place, yet, on many accounts, it is painful and peculiarly trying. It requires more than ordinary prudence, circumspection, and talents, to be extensively useful in such a sphere. To address those who were the companions of our childhood, with whom we were educated, who were acquainted with all our youthful follies ; to instruct those who themselves instructed us when we were advancing to manhood ; to edify those who were confirmed, established Christians, when we were infants in our mothers' arms, who saw us at the baptismal font, and, as officers of the church, admitted us to the sealing ordinances of the Lord's house : Duties, like these, are to the youthful minister peculiarly trying. Precisely in such a situation was the Rev. Mr. Kollock placed when he took charge of the congregation at Elizabeth-Town ; but that he performed his arduous labours ably and successfully, all who then sat under his ministry can testify. Feeling the responsibility of his situation, and the peculiar difficulties with which it was attended, he commenced his labours with “ fear and trembling," but not without encouragement and hope, that God would grant