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Puti 11 ihr Mithodist Book Room 200 Mulierry St, N.York.



JANUARY, 1853.


ELIJAH HEDDING was born in the town of Pine Plains, Dutchess County, New-York, June 7th, 1780. For any religious influence in his parental training he is indebted to his mother. Though not at that time connected with any Church, she was a religious woman ; and from her he received the elements of a religious education. These elements were so firmly grafted into his mind, that at the early age of four years he was able to pray with a tolerable understanding of the nature and obligations of prayer. The habit of prayer thus formed in early childhood, was maintained for several years, and until, through the influence of evil associates, he had in a measure thrown off the restraints of religion.

The Dutchess Circuit first appears in the Minutes for 1788, with only ten members. This comprised the sum-total of Methodism north of the Highlands on the Hudson River at that time. Benjamin Abbot was then just commencing his wonderful career. A son of thunder, he ranged through the country and assaulted the strongholds of wickedness, as though he had received a special commission from Heaven to storm the very citadel of hell itself. In 1789 he was stationed upon Dutchess Circuit, and at the close of the year 1790 the one circuit had expanded into four, and the ten members had multiplied into nearly one thousand and four hundred! There had been sown “a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; and the fruit thereof shook like Lebanon.” Mr. Hedding, who was then a lad of eight or nine years, ever after retained a vivid recollection of some of those early scenes ; and his mother at that time became a probationer in the Church. Who shall say but that, even in those early years, the seed was deposited in that youthful heart, which in later time was destined to produce so rich a barvest ?


In 1791 he removed with his parents to the State of Vermont. Here, when about eighteen years of age, he was awakened to a sense of his lost condition as a sinner. One day, as he was returning home from church deeply convinced of sin, having to pass a wood, he entered it, kneeled down behind a large tree, and prayed to God. "In that hour," said he but a short time before he died, "in that hour I solemnly made a dedication of myself to God. I laid my all-soul, body, goods and all-for time and for eternity, upon the altar; and I have never, never taken them back.” He did not for several days find peace. But at length the blessing came, clear as the sunlight; the transition was like that from the darkest night to the brightest day. This was on the 27th of December, 1798; and on that very day he offered himself and was received as a probationer in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The next summer he was licensed to exhort; and, at the urgent solicitations of the preachers, he consented to labour for a time on Essex Circuit, lying partly in Vermont and partly in Canada. The eccentric Lorenzo Dow, who had been stationed on that circuit, and had been travelling and preaching with unexampled energy and success, had suddenly left his work and embarked for Ireland, under the impression that God had called him to a special mission in that country. It was to supply this vacancy, that the youth of but nineteen years of age, and but a few months' experience in relig. ion, was called out. He went, however, in the name of God; and for several months he continued to travel the circuit, almost daily holding public meetings, in which he exhorted the people, without taking a text, and afterwards met the members in class. His word was in demonstration of the Spirit and with power; revivals broke out, the work of God moved forward in every direction, “and much people was added unto the Lord.” It was now fully evident that he was a chosen vessel unto God, to bear his name before the people and the Church.

In the spring of 1800 he was licensed to preach, and during the year travelled a circuit under the presiding elder. On the 16th of June, 1801, he was admitted by the New York Annual Conference on probation in the travelling connexion. Of the fifty-five, mostly young men, who that year entered the travelling ministry, but two remain, viz. : Laban Clark and Ebenezer Washburn-both of them retired from effective service. The others, or most of them, long since ceased from their labours. Indeed, it is a striking commentary upon the privations and labours of that early period, that twenty-nine of the fifty-five who entered the ministry with the subject of this sketch, retired from it within a period of ten years.

The circuits were large, often requiring from two to five hundred miles to complete one round, and this round was to be completed in from two to six weeks, during which a sermon was to be preached and a class met daily; and often three sermons and three classes to be attended to on the Sabbath. The journeys, too, were performed, not upon teamboats and railroads, nor yet in good carriages and by easy stages upon turnpikes; but on horseback, through rough and miry ways, and through wildernesses where no road as yet had been cast up. Rivers and swamps were to be forded. Nor could the journey be delayed. On, on, must the itinerant press his way, through the drenching rains of summer, the chilling sleet of spring or autumn, and the driving blasts or piercing cold of winter; and often amidst perils, weariness, hunger, and almost nakedness, carrying the bread of life to the lost and perishing. And then, when the day of toil was ended, in the creviced hut of the frontier settler, the weary itinerant, among those of kindred hearts and sympathies, found a cordial though humble place of repose. The subject of this sketch informed us that he had often lodged in log-houses, where the stars could be seen through the roof above him, and that again and again, when he awoke in the morning, he had found the bed on which he slept covered with snow. But this is not all: the people, though willing, were poor, and the support was often inadequate to meet the necessities of even a single man; but woe to the man and the family that were dependent for a livelihood upon the compensation received for such labours as these. And yet these were men—men sensible to suffering and want-men of tender sympathies for wives and children! And, alas! many of them broke down in the work, and went early to their reward; others were compelled to retire from it; but, here and there, one of iron constitution and of abiding faith toiled on, till, like our own Hedding, full of years and of faith, he has been gathered to those who had gone before. Such were the toils, hardships, and privations endured by our fathers in transforming the waste wilderness into a delightful vineyard, and making it as the garden of God. Their work was nobly done; their memories are blessed in all the Church.

The first appointment of Mr. Hedding was to the Plattsburgh Circuit, extending from Ticonderoga along the shore of Lake Champlain northward far into Canada, and from the shores of the lake to the wildernesses and mountains of the west. Here, in this new and sparsely settled country, he endured more than it is possible for us to describe, of the toils and privations of the early itinerant. His second appointment was to the Fletcher Circuit, on the east side of the lake. This circuit then included all that region between the lake, on the west, and the Green Mountains

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