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countrymen; nor did they desire to magnify the divine grace in the infusion of human virtue, above the divine patience in enduring human frailty and imperfection. The errors and failings of the illustrious men, whose lives they related, gave additional weight to the impression, which above all they desired to convey, that the colonization of New-England was an extraordinary work of heaven, that the counsel and virtue by which it had been carried on, were not of human origin, and that the glory of God had been displayed, no less in imparting the strength and wisdom, than in overruling the weakness and perversity of the instruments which he designed to employ.” And he adds, that " the education and habits of the people of New-England prepared them to receive the full force of those impressions which their national literature was calculated to produce. In no country have the benefits of knowledge been more highly prized or more generally diffused. Institutions for the education of youth were coeval with the foundation of the first colonial community, and were propagated with every accession to the population and every extension of the settlement.” Vol. I. pp. 490—493.
The settlers of New-England, were, it is believed, the first people in the world, who made provision by law, for general education. Whatever patronage might have been previously. afforded by individuals to the parish schools in Scotland, no legislative provision for their support was made in that kingdom, till 1696. İn Massachusetts, as early as 1647, a general law was passed on this subject. The clergy and civilians united in this important object; and they were alike determined among themselves, and without the aid of European seminaries, to give their children that instruction which they deemed necessary to preserve and perpetuate those principles, for which they had made such sacrifices.
With this object in view, a college was founded in that colony, as early as 1638, called after the name of the clergyman, who was its principal benefactor. Sixty years afterwards another similar institution, and with similar views, was founded in Connecticut. These two colleges have been the favorites of New-England; they have sent forth a greater number of educated young men, than any, perhaps all the other colleges in America; and so long as New-England men and manners shall be found, the names of the generous founders and benefactors of those institutions will be remembered and revered.
The "grammar schools," as they are called, were established by law in New-England, for the purpose of affording the necessary preparation for higher stations in those colleges.
The number of clergymen, at the first settlement of America, and for many years after, was much greater in the New-England colonies, than in the others. This was owing, among other things, to the motives which induced the settlement of this portion of the new world, the density of the population, and the ease with which clergymen were supported. The Virginia colonists, in
1656, were so destitute of ministers, that some legislative encouragement for their settlement in the province, was deemed necessary. In March of that year, a law was passed, granting the sum of twenty pounds sterling to any person, who should, at his own cost and charges, " transport a sufficient minister into the colony."
Mr. Grahame informs us, that about the year 1696, in consequence of an application of some of the planters in Carolina, an association was formed at Dorchester in Massachusetts, "to encourage the settlement of churches, and the promotion of religion in the southern plantations,” and that in the same year, the persons thus associated, with their minister, removed to a place near Charleston, which was called Dorchester.
But the extent to which we have insensibly been led, admonishes us, that the patience of our readers must be exhausted, and that it is time to conclude. We would observe however that, as the work under consideration, has not, to our knowledge, been reprinted in this country, and as few of the London copies have fallen under our observation, we have been more liberal in our extracts on this account ; presuming that the sentiments and opinions of a foreigner, respecting the character and institutions of the founders of our great republic, so much in accordance with our own, could not be read, without some degree of pleasure, as well as pride.
ART. V.- REVIEW OF
THE LIVES OF MATHER AND HENRY.
Life of the Rev. Colton Mather, pastor of a church in Boston. By his
son, the Rev. SAMUEL MATHER: Boston : 1729. Memoirs of the life, character, and writings of the Rev. Matthew Henry.
By I. B. WILLIAMS, Esq. 3d edition, London: 1329.
So dark and distressing, in itself considered, as our removal from this world must necessarily be, who does not desire, in the sober exercise of his better judgment, that when that event shall occur in relation to himself, he may be ready to meet it with a strong assurance, that it will be to him but the signal of a translation to a purer and more exalted state of being? To live only for this world, when we are so soon to leave it, must be any thing rather than the dictate of wisdom. To squander our time, and exhaust our strength, in the acquisition of mere earthly good, must to the eye of reason, be the most dreadful impertinence and trifling. A name and a fortune on earth, yea, the very proudest and most splendid of them all-what are they, when the true and real design of this life is contemplated, and the consequences Vol. II.
of its being well or ill spent, are soberly considered! The question of our final welfare, is surely not a question of slight and easily magnified importance. When, amid the hurry of our engagements here, we stop and think of the immortality of the soul; of the doctrine of man's accountability to his maker, (felt to be true in the secret conciousness of every bosom ;) and of the revealed recompenses of eternity; who can seriously regard it as a question of little moment, “How this life is to be passed away?” Who does not wish to learn, how it may be so spent, as to secure the great object for which it was given, and to preclude those painful regrets which the hour of reflection will bring with it, to the gay and guilty bosom, when that hour shall come; and especially in the near prospect of the future world.
Now, we think, that, next to inbuing the mind, directly and deeply, with the great truths of the inspired record; and next to resorting often in simple, fervent supplication, to the Source of all spiritual illumination and guidance, the recorded examples of great and good men, in the form of religious biographies, are most happily adapted to prompt to such a course of life, as shall stand connected with the very best hopes of mankind. By showing us the course of life which others have adopted, who have been regarded as eminently wise, and good men; by admitting us to the secrecy, as it were, of their habitual thoughts and feelings; by presenting to our view the hidden springs of that which was so amiable and so excellent in their character; such examples of wisdom and virtue, teach us how we must live and act and feel, if we would cherish a hope similar to that which animated their hearts and shone in their lives ;-a living assurance that when the few years, of our abode on earth, shall have passed away, we shall die indeed to this world, but only to be admitted, through divine grace, to the purer and higher glories of immortality.
With reflections like these, we have been looking over the lives of Cotton Mather and Matthew Henry. We have laid them aside with the full conviction, that there are few means so well adapted to promote holy living, to incite to active and enlarged usefulness, to lead to effort and self-denial for the good of mankind, and above all to draw the whole heart into an humble, intimate, daily intercourse with the Father of Mercies, in the duties of a cheerful and happy piety, as the memoirs of such men as Mather and Henry. They were men of no ordinary stamp. Their character, as religious men, was worthy of the peculiar times and circumstances in which they were called to act.
tried and faithful men of that age, have borne the sacred office better, or have left behind them stronger testimonials of their fidelity to their trust, than these men. We love to look at such examples. They shew us what can be done by men, with the blessing of
upon their efforts—what can be done by men, whom the world hates and often affects to pity or despise. They lead us to magnify the grace of God in them.
COTTON MATHER was the son of the Rev. Increase Mather, who for many years was pastor of the North Church in Boston, and president of Harvard College. His son, the subject of the memoir before us, was educated at that institution, and received his first degree in 1678, at the age of sixteen. He succeeded his father in the pastoral relation to the North Church in Boston, being ordained to the spiritual oversight and care of that church, May 13th, 1684. In that transaction "Mr. Allen, Mr. Willard and his father imposed hands, with the good apostolical Eliot, who gave him the right hand of fellowship." “A truly primitive ordination," it is added, “which he never once in his life scrupled the validity of." He died in Boston, at the age of 65, in the full assurance of hope in the divine mercy, through the atonement and mediation of the divine Savior. Of his interment it is said : “ His church to testify their superior regard for their dear pastor, went before the corpse; while the Hon. William Dummer, our lieutenant governor and commander in chief; the honorable the council and representatives of this province, with a vast number of ministers, justices of the peace, merchants, &c. followed the mourners.”
MATTHEW HENRY, the other name placed at the head of this article, it is well known to many of our readers, was an eminent and a singularly useful dissenting minister in England. He was contemporary with Cotton Mather; he was the son of the Rev. Philip Henry, whose praise is still in the English non-conformist churches; and he was one of that excellent class of divines who were opprobriously styled puritan, and many of whom were violently persecuted for their non-conformity to the English established church. He is best known, in this country, as the author of a deservedly popular commentary on the sacred scriptures. And it is not a little to his credit, as an expositor of the bible at least, that at this distance of time from the original publication of his Commentary, and in this age of new things, and especially of new books, an American edition of that great work should be called for, (more than one hundred years from the time when it was written, *) for the use of the American churches. This fact is the more worthy of notice, when it is recollected, that re
* Dr. Watts, in his copy of the Exposition, upon a blank leaf at the begin. ning of the last volume, wrote the following statement:
" The Rev. Mr. Matthew Henry, before his death had made some small preparations for this last volume.' The Epistle to the Romans indeed, was explained so largely by his own hand, that it needed only the labor of epitomizing. Some parts of the other Epistles were done, but very imperfectly, by
peated and large editions of Scott's Commentary, and two editions at least of Adam Clarke's Commentary, have within a few years, been issued from the American press, and spread over the country:
Mr. Henry received ordination as a minister of the gospel, in May, 1687, at the hands of some dissenting ministers in London. And, as connected with that transaction, and going to show the spirit of those days of darkness and trial to some of the best and most useful men that ever lived, it is a circumstance worthy of being distinctly recorded, that through fear of provoking the jealousy and vengeance of the established hierarchy, it was thought to be safest and most prudent, that the ordination of Mr. Henry should be performed in secret. It was accordingly made a private transaction. And instead of the customary testimonial, given on such occasions, the following curious document is all the voucher, in relation to that solemn transaction, which prudence and a knowledge of the spirit of the times, on the part of the ordaining council, allowed them to give. 6. We whose names are subscribed are well assured that Mr. Matthew Henry is an ordained minister of the gospel.” They were afraid to certify that they ordained him, lest consequences should result from it, similar to those which had already befallen Philip Henry, Richard Baxter, and many others, ejected by the act of Uniformity,an act of the British Parliament, under which the whole land lay bleeding from one extremity to the other. To this singular document the ordaining council set their names. “Sic Testor, W. Wickens, Fran.
himself; and a few other hints had been taken in short-hand from his public and private Expositions on some of the Epistles.
By these assistances the ministers whose names are here written, have endeavored to complete this work in the style and method of the author : viz. Romans
Mr. (afterwards Dr.] John Evans. 1 Corinthians
Mr. Simon Brown. 2 Corinthians
Mr. Daniel Mayo. Galatians
Mr. Joshua Bayes.
Mr. Samuel Roswell.
Mr. (afterwards Dr.] Wm. Harris. 1 Thessalonians
Mr. Daniel Mayo. 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy
Mr. Benjamin Andrews Atkinson. Titus
Mr. Jeremiah Smith.
Mr. William Tong.
Mr. William Wright, 1 Peter
Mr. Zech. Merrill. 2 Peter
Mr. Joseph Hill. 1, 2, and 3 John
Mr. John Reynolds, of Shrewsbury. Jude
Mr. John Billingsloy. Revelations
Mr. William Tong."