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opinion; for it is chiefly this, which preserves a comparatively feeble country, from being swallowed up by the nations around it; and it is from strangers, that it derives an important part of the support of its industry. Should the influence of protestant countries be brought to bear in a mass upon these cantons, we have not a doubt that it would seriously modify the measures adopted against the persecuted.
Still farther; as we have before hinted, we believe that these measures are to be looked upon in part, as the result of a want of light in reference to this subject of an honest conviction, that toleration would be dangerous. These views must be counteracted by facts and reasonings, more than by reproaches. The men in question are by no means beyond the reach of argument. As a proof of this, we may state, that an individual who had long hesitated concerning the propriety of allowing freedom to the press, was fully satisfied by an exhibition of the facts which are daily witnessed among us, and by reasonings on the subject which are familiar to the mind of every well informed American; and that a serious influence was probably exerted, by this means, on the condition of a whole canton.
Let us not content ourselves with merely enjoying the blessings of religious liberty, while others are suffering from ignorance of its value. It is time that the voice of our country was lifted up in defense of the principles on which we act, and in which we glory. That voice will be heard. We can add our testimony to that of a recent traveler, that there is no better passport in Europe than the name of American.
Let then some able pens be employed in portraying the moral blessings which we enjoy, and tracing them to their source. Let a prize be proposed for the best essay on this subject, as was done by the Society of Christian Morals at Paris. Let the mistaken efforts of our fathers to secure a uniformity of religious worship, be frankly admitted. Let their utter inefficiency, in reference to the object proposed, be clearly exhibited; and the evils which resulted from them be represented in their true colors. Let the progress of light among us since that period, and the consequent increase of peace and happiness, be described.
In the space of one month, every such appeal from the American press, to a sense of justice and policy, may reach the center of Switzerland. It may make itself felt throughout Germany and France; and these persecuting governments will find themselves arraigned by the new world, at the bar of public opinion in Europe.
But more than this may and ought to be done. Let our ecclesiastical bodies, and public institutions, of every denomination,
express their sentiments on the subject. Let them adopt statements and resolutions, which may establish in the minds of Europeans, the facts by which the wisdom of our institutions in this respect is proved; and leave them no longer to be thrown into perplexity, by the slanderous representations of disappointed adventurers. The united voice of the American people, on this subject, we doubt not, would materially shorten the painful struggle which is now going on. We may enlighten many a misguided conscience; we may do much to repress popular prejudice; we may intimidate the spirit of oppression; and shed a beam of hope upon the dungeon of its captives. Nay, we ask, why should not our national and State governments add their testimony; and plead with sister republics in behalf of the suffering, and in explanation of the policy which we adopt? The voice of Cromwell was heard, on a like occasion, within the walls of Turin ; and the charities of British christians cheered the hearts of thousands, who were perishing with cold and hunger, in the caverns of the Alps. Above all, let us pray for them: and especially on that sacred occasion, when we unite our supplications with the thousands in every land, let us never forget our persecuted brethren of the vallies of Switzerland. If we effect no more, we shall have the sweet satisfaction of having made an effort in behalf of humanity. We shall be rewarded by the grateful esteem of the defenseless; and the prayers of thousands, who suffer under the rod of oppression, will ascend to heaven for the advocates of LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.
ART. VIII.-REVIEW OF THE LIFE OF SUMMERFIELD.
Memoirs of the Life and Ministry of the Rev. John SUMMERFIELD, A.M. late
a preacher in connection with the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. By John HOLLAND. With an Introductory Letter, by James MONT
New-York: 1829. 8vo. pp. 360.
The volume before us is a full and authentic account of a man, who, during the short period of his ministry, attracted much public admiration, and at the same time possessed in no ordinary degree, the affection and confidence of the entire christian community. That such a book will be eagerly read is a matter of course. If in some points it fails to meet the expectations of the reader, the 'blame must be ascribed not to the author, who seems to have performed his part with a commendable fidelity; nor to the subject, which, after every allowance is made, really possesses extraordinary points of attraction; but to the reader himself, whose
expectations were too high to admit of being satisfied with the soberness of truth.
The most considerable mistake on the part of the author, seems to have been a desire to make a larger volume than the brevity of the young preacher's career, and especially the paucity of his intellectual remains, demanded. This has occasioned, in some parts, too much minuteness of detail, and too much commentary on comparatively unimportant circumstances. The life of Summerfield was a brief and simple story, and to have all the interest of which it is capable, should have been most briefly and simply told. But we have no disposition to criticise; it is a more grateful task to us, and we doubt not it will be more acceptable to our readers, to sketch the outline of the history which our author has so fully written; and to suggest some of the causes to which the so universal, and almost peculiar, popularity of Summerfield, may be ascribed.
John Summerfield, born at Preston in England, A. D. 1798, was the child of pious parents, solemnly dedicated from his birth to God, and to the work of the ministry. In early childhood he began to exhibit a sweetness and gentleness of temper, a quickness of mind, and aptitude for learning, which made him the idol of the family, and led his father—at that time in easy circumstances—to determine on giving him, at any expense, the best education. He was therefore placed in a Moravian school of high reputation, at Fairfield near Manchester. At that school, during a residence of nearly five years, he "not only made considerable progress in the classics and other branches of education, but received those religious impressions which, it is probable, were never wholly obliterated from his conscience." A talent for elocution was encouraged and cultivated by his teachers, and distinguished him above all his fellows; while at the same time the native sweetness of his disposition made him a universal favorite.
At the close of 1809, near the commencement of his thirteenth year, his father becoming involved and bankrupt, he was suddenly removed from all his advantages of education. In the following year we find him, while his father's embarrassments were extremely distressing, and while he himself was consequently much employed in one way and another, attempting to do something for the relief of the family, by opening an evening school. The attempt was successful; he soon had under his instruction young men who had seen twice as many winters as their teacher, his school was full, the avails were carefully placed in the hands of his mother, and the work was relinquished only at his removal from the place. This fact is mentioned as an illustration of his character, and as showing the precocity of his talents.
In 1811 he was bereaved of his mother. Her death made a
deep impression on his mind; he often spoke of it, so long as he lived, and always with emotion. She died at Liverpool, which place about that time became the residence of the family. Here her son found a temporary employment as clerk in a mercantile establishment. His acquaintance with the French language, together with his readiness and accuracy in matters of business, was such, that though he was not yet fifteen years of age, bis services were highly important. This situation however he soon lost by the failure of the house; and was left without any occupation to prevent the indulgence of his passionate admiration for oratory. "No opportunity of hearing a distinguished speaker, whether at the pulpit, or the bar, or in any other assembly, would he willingly forego.
Near the close of 1812, the residence of the family was transferred to Dublin. This change of place was at first highly unfavorable in its effects on the subject of the biography before us. He evinced no disposition to engage in any kind of business. His uncommon power of engaging or amusing in conversation, together with his other interesting qualities as a companion, became a snare. He fell among dissipated companions who led him to the theatre and the gaming table, and under whose influence he formed habits which, but for God's designs of mercy, had been his ruin. Even at this period, however, there were intervals of remorse, and amendment, and seeming repentance. When these more hopeful moods returned, he would for weeks together apply himself without remission to study, and to exercises of devotion. His mental sufferings on such occasions are said to have been extreme.
But again and again he returned to his courses of dissipation. He became extravagantly devoted to the theatre. He spent whole days in attending the courts of justice, or in looking for whatever could minister excitement to an idle and dissipated mind. He often wandered from home, visiting London and other places, while the family knew not what had become of him. Sometimes he was driven home by imperious necessity, and then would come reflection, and remorse, and perhaps another reformation. During one of these serious intervals, his attention was so far turned toward the ministry, that he commenced a correspondence with a view to obtain admission into one of the theological academies of the English calvinistic dissenters. The negotiation appears to have been broken off by his “father's remonstrance, which arose from the doctrines taught by many of that body as to election, etc.” This correspondence was in 1814.
Not long afterwards, his father, probably in the hope of reforming his irregularities, attempted to establish him in business. The experiment, as might have been expected, from the age, character, and habits of the subject, was unsuccessful. The young trader,
“instead of being found at the quay, or in the counting house," followed his old courses, now shutting himself up for study, and now wandering about in dissipation. All this was followed by the natural consequences. He brought new distress upon his father's family, and disgrace upon himself. The drama was wound up by his being thrown into prison.
Here he began to play the attorney. His previous habits of lounging about the courts of justice, had given him some acquaintance with legal forms; and his ingenuity and readiness of mind enabled him to turn this to account, in drawing the necessary papers for such of his fellow prisoners, as were petitioning for the benefit of the insolvent act.
From this occasional employment, he derived an income; and his business in this line was continued after his liberation. In these circumstances, his attention, and his wishes were strongly directed towards the profession of the law. That profession would have opened an ample field for the cultivation and display of those oratorical talents of which he was conscious, and that taste and passion for eloquence which he had from childhood been wont to indulge. Often has he been known to watch the progress of a trial, as the witnesses were brought forward on one side and the other, and when the testimony was ended, he has been heard to exclaim in his enthusiasm, “O how I should like to sum up!”
But God had designed him for a nobler service. In 1817, after four years had been
spent in that career of folly and sin, which we have just described, he was once more brought to consider his ways. His mental anguish, in view of his guilt, and in view of the distress which he had brought upon his father and his father's house, was so great, that he was tempted to throw away his life in despair. In this state he was one day wandering through the street, weeping as he went, when he was addressed by a poor and pious man, who perceived the nature of his distress, and after endeavoring to point him to the true source of consolation, persuaded him to attend a little prayer-meeting, which the stranger was then about holding in a cellar. That day, his biographer considers as the day of his conversion. Certainly, from that day bis history, as we have it in the work before us, took a new course.
In these statements, we have followed implicitly the authority of Mr. Holland. A little farther on, however, we find a letter from the pen of Summerfield himself, written to his first class-leader, a few months after the occurrence just mentioned ; in which he gives a summary history of his own life, up to this period. And it must be confessed, we hardly know how to reconcile this piece of autobiography, in every point, with the more enlarged record of our author. In that letter, he not only omits all notice of the irregularities and dissipation described above; but he ascribes his failure VOL. II.