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HIS MINISTRY AND SUCCESS IN HADLEY, — CONTINUED.
This remarkable work of the Spirit placed Mr. Woodbridge much in the condition of a conqueror. Not that all opposition was at once silenced, but the field was won; the way was opened for him to follow up his successes, and by prayer and work to insure a final triumph in the strength of the Lord. While he could not repose on his laurels, for the foe was still vigilant and ready to rise in resistance, the territory was subdued and placed under his administration. The gallant ship had passed out of the treacherous harbor, through the straits, beyond the shoals, beyond the headlands, and under a cloud of canvas was moving in the open sea.
This was one of those effective revivals whose influences flow on refreshing the community for generations. The church was strengthened with graces as well as by numbers. A new life vitalized, a mellower radiance suffused the whole town. As when the sun shines forth after the warm showercloud has passed away, and the thirsty earth looks up with a revived and cheered face, so the rain of the Spirit threw over this field of Zion a richer lustre and a fresher verdure.
The life of the Christian minister is pre-eminently one of SPIRITUAL COMMUNION -of intercourse of spirit with spirit. First of all, and most of all, with the Father of spirits, with the Infinite Intelligence, the Source of all intelligence, and whom to comprehend is to comprehend the highest reason, the substance of all rational existence. It is, as it were, to be lifted into the light of the central Sun of all suns, the
DIGNITY OF MINISTERIAL PURSUIT.
centre of all thought, of all life, of all light, of all power ; especially is it to commune with him, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, through his Son, “ the express image of his person,” the only Mediator, the only channel of communication between the self-existent Spirit and the lost finite spirit. It is coming in contact with the perfect, the allglorious; it is entering the highest ranges of thought; it is soaring into the region of purest affections. Then, it is communion with the richest intellects of the world, those whom God has exalted nearest to himself, and to whom he has imparted the most of himself. Foremost of all, with prophets and apostles who have, as it were, talked with the Infinite as " friend talks with friend," and brought down instruction from the “excellent glory." In the light of this, as in an ocean of light filled from the Throne, he daily bathes. Then follows communion with the most enlarged and refined of uninspired minds; such as Chrysostom, Augustine, Wickliffe, Luther, Calvin, Pascal, IIowe, the Edwardses, the Wesleys, Dwight, Woods, IIall, Chalmers, Jay, Mosheim, Neander, and multitudes of others, mightier perhaps even than these, who have stood as beacons along the centuries, reflecting the light of truth and the glory of divine grace. To such minds he listens; with such he wrestles. He leads the highest life of man; a life of loftiest thought, of research, of analysis, of discrimination, of progress in grandest ideas ; a life passed in converse with the brightest visitant from heaven to earth — Divine Truth ; and in communings with the sublimest realities of immortality. It is by such exalted meditations that the minister of reconciliation becomes instrumentally qualified to discharge his responsible public functions. Even when he comes forth to staud before his people, or to mingle in their domestic scenes, spirit is still the grand centre of thought, the subject on which he works, the object which he endeavors to move. Verily, he whom Christ calls to oversee one of his little flocks is privileged to walk the most elevated plane of human life.
Let the grovelling and the worldly strike for “high salaries,” “splendid congregations,” and “conspicuous parishes," and let them hug their idols grovelling as themselves ; but let the noble-minded be satisfied with the sublimest themes of the minister's thoughts and the dignity of his work, yielding immortal fruit, “fast by the throne of God," as bringing their own reward. True, his severest toils, his sharpest conflicts, his grandest achievements, are often wrought in retirement. The world may not know him. Ile may win no name among the great. But angels watch over him and cheer him under his burdens. Aye, the eye of Jesus is upon him; he even communes with him from day to day, and before the assembled universe will distinguish him with the plaudit, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Such an unostentatious life of spiritual communion was eminently that of Mr. Woodbridge. These profound investigations and lofty contemplations were the joy of his being. They imparted, in his estimation, the highest dig. nity to the ministerial office, and more than compensated for the toil and self-sacrifice it imposes. He was not only a man of thought, but of highest thought on highest themes. Says his niece, who was familiar with the workings of his mind, “From the time of his conversion to the end of his life, my uncle was in a great measure absorbed in meditations of “God as infinitely holy, righteous, and sovereign." To use his own words,“ Sweet are meditations on subjects connected with the glory of God and the everlasting interests of men ; for these are the themes which will engross the thought and awaken rapture in the bosoms of the ransomed in that vast eternity which is their promised inheritance." Such prolonged contemplation on these profound subjects left their mould on his mind and character; turned the strong currents of his influence into channels most befitting his holy calling. His thoughts became grand and magnificent like the themes on which he dwelt, too massive
RENEWED INTEREST IN HIS PEOPLE.
and weighty for the flippant harangue or the mere sensational preacher. His study became increasingly his chosen home, and the life of the Christian scholar most congenial to his taste. Satisfied with his books and parochial labors, he needed not "to go abroad for joy” or intellectual stimulants. lIe never sought to lead in great public enterprises. IIe was never conspicuous on anniversary occasions. He was not a platform speaker. He seldom held office or shared in the management of benevolent associations, though always their firm supporter. He rarely took a prominent part in large deliberative bodies, though possessing many qualifications for doing it. Hence the pleasure of perusing his life — especially these fourteen years now under review - will not be the pleasure of marking the course of striking incidents or shining exploits; but mainly of tracing the workings of mind, its capabilities and onward movement, the accumulation of intellectual stores, the advancement of personal holiness, and the quiet success of ministerial labors.
Isaving received such signal testimony of the Lord's presence with him, Mr. Woodbridge prosecuted his work with renewed zeal and hopefulness. His love for his people became warmer and more disinterested ; the family feeling more predominated. He felt himself linked to many of them by the ties of spiritual paternity ; others had received a fresh anointing through his instrumentality, and from a state of indifference or positive alienation had become one in spirit with him. They saw spiritual realities much as he saw them, and felt concerning them much as he did. The same illuminating Spirit had taught them, which, when it works effectually, always draws the children of God into unity. Indeed, holier sympathies were awakened throughout the congregation. The thought of devoting his best energies to their eternal welfare became increasingly pleasurable. The people also gathered around him with purer affection. Ile felt their hearts beating warmer against his own, inspiring him with new strength. While they admired
hina for his talents and devotion to their spiritual interests, they never lost sight of his high spiritual prerogatives as “a man of God; whom, not from a cold sense of duty, but as the glowing expression of their hearts, they were required to “ esteem very highly in love for his work's sake.”
Built on such a foundation, this mutual affection could not be easily shaken. Indeed, it rather strengthened than weakened till his removal to New York; imparting to pastor and people mutual enjoyment and profit, and enhancing their mutual usefulness.
Says the wife of a clergyman trained from childhood under his ministry, “Few ministers, even at that time, commanded such universal confidence and respect from their people as he did." Another daughter of Hadley, also the wife of a clergyman, testifies: “Dr. Woodbridge loved his people ; he was willing to spend and be spent for them, and they in return loved him. I cannot recall a single disaffected family during his first ministry in Hadley. I think I may say we were proud of our minister. We had much rather hear him preach than any one else. Often during the summer months he had a great deal of help; sometimes would not preach for six Sabbaths. At such times we were always glad to see our minister back in the pulpit again. . . . . I have always regarded Dr. Woodbridge's first ministry in Hadley as eminently successful. At the time that he left for New York there was hardly a family in the town that were not church-going people; and one might live there months and not hear a profane word or an oath, except from the habitually intemperate ; and in contributions for benevolent objects his church took the lead (according to ability) of all the churches in the vicinity.” A leading member of his church a few months since remarked: “I well recollect attending a council in a neighboring town not long before Dr. Woodbridge left us. I was asked how we were getting along with ministerial affairs in Hadley. I replied, “I don't know