« ПретходнаНастави »
and is reported to have been possessed of eminent pieiy. His youthful disposition was very mild and amiable, securing the afsection of all who knew him. The love of music, for which he was remarkable in after life, was early developed; when two years of age he could sing several tunes with accuracy and effect. At the
age of nine his mother was removed by death : soon after his father failed in business : the pecuniary affairs of the family became embarrassed, and their design of educating Gregory relinquished. An aunt of his mother, however, supported him for two years at the Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Conn. His progress in study was very gratifying to his friends, and his popularity among the students great. After leaving Cheshire he received no farther pecuniary aid from his aunt, but his sisters to whom he was an object of intense affection resolved to devote the whole of their little substance to his education. Richly was their generosity rewarded. In 1807, he entered Columbia College. His health which had always been delicate soon so far decayed as to render the prosecution of his studies irksome and he begged permission to abandon them. The affectionate persuasions of his sisters caused him to persevere.
The severer studies of the course were not acquired. In classical studies he was bighly respectable,-in rhetorical, distinguished. The defect of his education was apparent through life in a want of persect accuracy of thought and language. Let those who doubt the usefulness of mathematical aud philosophical studies know, that Bedell with all his native eloquence and talent could not well do without them. We have often heard him complain of the want of those very mental habits which are formed by diligent attention to these studies. He seems to have been peculiarly fond of attempts at original composition. At the early age of fourteen he wrote largely for the newspapers and magazines of the day. This no doubt contributed to form that facility in composition which be acquired. In 1811, he began the study of theology under the direction of Dr. How, one of the assistant ministers of Trinity Church, New York. In his choice of this profession he was governed by the predilections of bis friends who do not seem to have regarded a renewal of the heart as a necessary pre-requisite. It does not appear, that he gave any evidence of piety, or even possessed any correct notions of the nature of religion. Dr. Tyng says, have abundant reason to fear that there was a great deficiency of proper seriousness of character and principle in reference to this important step.” If by this Dr. Tyng means (as we have no doubt be believes) that we have abundant reason to fear, that he was not a converted man, we wish he had said so. The form of expression he has chosen to adopt, smacks of High church dilution. We think it is a style, that Dr. Tyng would not have used five
years ago, when he feared not the frowns and sought not the favor of mitred brows. It has struck us, that the phraseology throughout the volume is studiously adapted to avoid giving offence to what has been regarded as the anti-evangelical party in the Episcopal church. We know it is now denied, that any such party exists, but be this as it may, we know that men are now living and leading in the Episcopal church, who a few years ago thought it very cruel to charge church-going people with hating God, and to whom revivals of religion were an abomination : and further we venture to say, that those men will not admit any change to have taken place in their views. We in common with some of Dr. Tyng's evangelical Episcopal friends, regret the phraseology
above alluded 10, as it indicates the influence under which he is passing. We have admired bim as a pungent and fearless preacher of the gospel, and if we had his ear we would assure him, that no benefits he can derive from the favor of prelates and the High church, can compare with the heartfelt homage he has received as one of the leaders of the evangelical portion of the Episcopal church.
Dr. Tyng remarks in connection with the above quoted sentence; " much as it ought to surprise us, that a young man should ever be encouraged to present himself as a candidate for the ministry without manifest evidence of a renewed and spiritual mind, such it must be confessed, was at the time in which he was thus received, far too generally the fact in the church." This assertion of Dr. T. is too sweeping. We claim to be somewhat acquainted with the history of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches at least, and we are prepared to say, that the assertion in regard to them is by no means true. Then, as now, no person was allowed to enter on the work of the ministry, without exhibiting satisfactory evidence of a renewed heart. We know, that Dr. Tyng's remark is true as respects the Episcopal church, and we rejoice to have Dr. Tyng inform us, that a change has taken place for the better. We suspect, however, that by the church Dr. T. means the Episcopal church. Our brethren of that church have a habit of omitting the qualifying adjective, which occasionally gives us plain Puritans some trouble. Now, as we became familiar with the language of scripture before we learned the Episcopal dialect, the phrase the church is in our minds indissolubly associated with the idea of all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, whether they can trace their ecclesiastical pedigree through the mother of abominations or not. It may have been our misfortune, that we met with the bible before the prayer book, (perhaps it is owing to that fact we are not Episcopal,) but such is the fact and such our habits of association. brethren should pay regard to our weakness, and use the king's English in a scriptural manner.
But to return to the subject of the memoir. In 1814, he was ordained by Bisliop Hobart, whose policy he adopted and whose person he almost adored. Having spent a few months on a southern tour, he was settled in Hudson, N.Y. He entered with some spirit on the work of his ministry : besides preaching on the sabbath, he established a bible class for adults, and introduced the system of sabbath school instruction. He soon acquired a high reputation as an eloquent speaker : whenever he visited New York, the churches in which he was expected to preach were crowded. But bis conduct as a minister was by no means exemplary. His heart was not in the work, because it was still in enmity to God. He was vain and trifling, he associated with worldly and irreligious young men, until the members of his congregation, High church as they were, became “much dissatisfied with him, and it required a considerable effort to suppress the expression of their feelings.” He was in short such a minister as no Congregational church would have knowingly tolerated for six months. We say this in no unkindness or disrespect for the memory of Dr. Bedell. We yield to none in reverence and regard for his character as the minister of Christ; but Mr. Bedell the rector of the Episcopal church at Hudson, and Mr. Bedell the preacher of Christ crucified, are two very different characters; and speaking freely of the faults of said rector is no more disrespect to the minister of Christ, than speaking freely of the faults of John Bunyan the swearer, is no disrespect to the author of the Pilgrim's Progress.
Very soon after his settlement at Hudson, he became very desirous of a situation in the city of New-York, and the history of his efforts and correspondence with Bishop Hobart, with reference to this object is dwelt upon at large in the memoir. Dr. T. regards this as the most important crisis of his life. The period of his conversion we should consider as the most interesting and important. Respecting this, Dr. Tyng gives us no information. We had always understood, (we are not sure that our impressions are correct,) that Dr. Bedell was accustomed to refer to a particular time, as the date of his conversion. No such time is mentioned in the memoir. The subject is treated in the most general terms, -in language, that will bear both an evangelical and a High church interpretation.
In 1818 he removed to Fayetteville, in North Carolina. Here his biographer represents him as zealously devoting himself to the work of the ministry. Besides preaching on the sabbath, and instituting sabbath schools, he established a weekly meeting for prayer and exhortation at bis house. The last mentioned fact seeins to show, that a decided change had taken place in his moral character. No High churchman would in those days have tolerated a meeting for prayer. His whole conduct was catholic and
conciliatory. The Presbyterian and Episcopal churches becar harmonious, and a society for purposes of benevolence was form from the members of each. Dr. Tyng takes care to inform that this catholicity is not to be understood as indicating a wa of affection for the Episcopal church. His reputation now came widely extended. During the summers he traveled exte sively at the north as an agent for the General Theological Ser inary, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
TI southern climate proved unfavorable to his health, and to that his wise: he accordingly resigned his charge in the spring 1822. When bis intention of leaving Carolina became known, committee of gentlemen waited on him, and requested him to re main and accept of the office of their Bishop. This proposa he, for various reasons, declined. With the precise character his ministrations at Fayetteville, and the amount of good be ther accomplished, we are not acquainted; we have no doubt bu that much good was accomplished.
While making arrangements for a removal from Fayetteville with no particular place in view, he received a letter from the Rev. Benjamin Allen, Rector of St. Paul's church, Philadelphia, urging him to visit that city. There was then a vacancy in that city, which he was very desirous Mr. Bedell should fill. It was filled before Mr. B. left Fayetteville. He visited Philadelphia, however, and preached for Mr. Allen. The next day a few individuals were called together by Mr. Allen, and by his influence were induced to invite Mr. Bedell to remain with them and build up a new church, and to agree to pay him a salary of twelve hundred dollars. Mr. B. accepted their invitation. This was in May, 1822. A lot was purchased, and the erection of St. Andrew's church commenced. The enterprize originated with Mr. Allen, and was carried on through bis influence. He was an excellent man. When it was objected, that the building of the new church would cause St. Paul's to go down, he answered, “ I am persuaded that there is a work for Mr. Bedell to do here, and if my Redeemer's kingdoin is advanced what matter how soon I fall.” Dr. Bedell when preaching his funeral sermon says, “I feel not the least hesitation in saying, that I have never yet beheld the individual of more pure and perfect disinterestedness. The question. How will such a thing affect me personally, never entered bis mind and never passed his lips. How will it affect the cause of Christ was his only question." While bis church was erecting Mr. Bedell preached in the different churches in the city usually three times on each sabbath. Great crowds attended his preaching, and numbers became wise unto salvation. Many were induced to hear him, who would bear no other evangelical preacher. A number of most interesting instances of conversion are given, one of which we will insert.
• On one new years' day a fashionable young man, very giddy and thoughtless, who seldom attended church at all, was prevailed upon by a near relative, a member of St. Andrew's church, to accompany her. He reluctantly consented as a compliment to her. During the summer, for the first time, he felt the power of divine truth, and saw himself a sinner, lost and perishing. He remained after its close, while tears of sorrow flowed from his eyes, and he thus gave utterance to his feelings : “ I never felt as I do at this moment; every thing past and future, appears to me in a totally new light.” This light, which broke in upon his benighted soul, eventuated in a comfortable
hope of forgiveness through the blood of Christ. He has since devoted himself to the ministry, and his character gives ground for hope, that he too will be made the instrument of turning many others from the power of Satan un o God.' p. 144.
The new church was opened on the first Sunday in June, 1823 : almost all the seats were immediately engaged, and the pecuniary conceros of the church placed in a prosperous state. Mr. Bedell was now in his twenty-ninth year. In the providence of God he had passed through scenes calculated to impress the lessons of experience deeply upon his mind. His ardent and impulsive temperament had become cooled. Above all, he had grown in grace and in the knowledge of the truth,-had acquired much of the meekness and wisdom that cometh down from on high. His style of preaching had become formed and settled. In short, he had been well trained by bis Master for the wide field he was now to occupy. He entered on his work in Philadelphia with great zeal and fidelity. Besides preaching on the sabbath he established a lecture on Friday evening in the lecture room, which, in consequence of the numbers that attended, was soon transferred to the church. This lecture was generally a familiar exposition of some portion of scripture, or enforcement of some christian duty. The mild, paternal, heavenly appearance of the speaker,-his simple, fervent extempore prayers, his familiar, affectionate, yet solemn and impressive addresses, all tended to make this one of the most interesting religious services we have ever attended. Each Saturday evening there was a meeting for social prayer and exhortation, which he attended when his health permitted. During Lent, prayer meetings were held daily; and each Friday was publicly devoted to prayer and fasting. The monthly concert for prayer for foreign missions was always observed.
In his pastoral labors he was abundant. He constructed a map of the city, in which the residences of all his people were marked, and kept a register of all his visits, with notes of facts that occurred, and renewed his visits at an early day if he found any thing peculiar that needed his attention. In the sick chamber he was without exception, the most interesting man we have ever known. In this, as in every place, he preached the truth in simplicity and