not the Bible leave the sinner in a dreadful condition ? Is it not one great aim of the Bible to show him this, and that his only hope lies in the infinitude of the divine mercy expressed in Christ?" And this, we observe, in concluding our remarks on this subject, brings to view the ultimate aim of the Edwardean system, which is, to remove from the sinner every ground of hope but Christ, to lead him intelligently to plead, “ Save, Lord, or I perish.”'

We can now form some estimate of the difficulties which Mr. Woodbridge, a thorough “ New Divinity” man, had to encounter on entering his appointed field, where Stoddardism had been inculcated by successive pastors, and practised by the church for nearly a hundred years.

He was compelled to begin bis parochial labors, in some sense, as a reformer. His people, as we have seen, were not all with him. A large number, part in the church, and part out of it, and still in the parish, stood ready to oppose sentiments which he felt bound in conscience very expressly and frequently to bring forward.

The errors entertained, and the evils, their legitimate progeny, had been not only long cherished, but they had struck their roots deep into the soil; had even entwined themselves with some of their most touching exercises of religion. They had been imbibed and held fast amid the bitter winds of controversy; and therefore, like the forest rooted and grown amid the whirling and rocking tempests of the mountain, were more firmly fastened. Age had made them venerable. Reverence and affection for the treasured dead had consecrated them. They had been enforced by those on whose clerical learning, piety, and Christian discretion they had been long taught to repose. Interwoven with orthodox sentiments which lay inconsistently in the minds of their teachers, it would not be marvellous if they lay in the less educated minds of their hearers a confused mass, a sort of entanglement, from which it would be difficult to separate the threads of truth from the threads of

error without causing tender affections to bleed. Not unfrequently they were held in unthinking ignorance of their noxious influences ; and efforts to remove thein were much like those of the physician who attempts to administer relief for ailments of which the patient is insensible. It was service not only requiring strength, but delicacy, wisdom, sometimes adroitness ; not only discrimination, but the power to lead his hearers to discriminate, often to conduct them through subtile processes of metaphysical thought. It was service which could not be specially advanced by ridicule, much less by sarcasm ; only by the solid weapons of reason and the sharp steel of logic.

This was the work to be done, and to be done in face of the enemy's lines. It required just the clear perceptions, the large acquisitions of religious truth, the argumentative invention, energy of purpose, and 'unflinching boldness, which characterized Mr. Woodbridge. He was clearly “the right man in the right place."

Consonant to his energetic nature, and inspired with love to souls, he entered upon his life-work with Christian ardor and humble reliance on him“ from whom all blessings flow." He was early permitted to witness tokens of divine favor. While he was preaching as a candidate some few were convicted and hopefully brought to the Saviour; and soon after his ordination a gentle shower of the Spirit was enjoyed, a scal of the Master's approbation of the youthful laborer. But the first five years of his ministry were cheered by no signal success.



On the 4th of May, 1814, Mr. Woodbridge was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Seymour, daughter of Major Thomas Seymour, of Hartford, Conn., by Dr. Nathan Strong of that city. The wedding occasion at Hadley, and the home to which he brought his bride, are pleasantly described by their daughter:

“ Three old gentlemen from Hadley, anxious to show the bride all fitting honor, went to the wedding, and escorted the young pair to their home. There being no railroads at that time, they were a part of two days upon the road.

“ They reached Hadley on a fine spring morning. As they drove up the wide, .rural street, my mother pointed out a large old-fashioned house on the right, remarking, 'That is a pleasant place.'

“ It was so, indeed. It was a square, white house, with many windows, which were shaded with green blinds. There was a large, double door in front, which looked as if it had been made when hospitality was deemed a virtue. Across the front of the house, and clustering around a little porch on the south side, were many rose-bushes. The deep and wide yards were bright with the first rich verdure of spring. Four tall poplars grew before the front, and a sycamore, with huge trunk and wide-spreading branches, its age reaching back beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitant, — kept guard at the great gate.' On the north side of the house was the large and well-cultivated garden,

and behind it the orchard, then just ready to burst into bloom.

“With surprise and pleasure my mother found that this residence was her new liome. On alighting, she began to learn what it was to be a minister's wife in those days. The house was filled with people in holiday garments, who were gathered to receive her.

“One old lady, much distinguished for her eccentricity and benevolence, hastened forward, and, extending her hand, cried out, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord !' As the pastor and his wife entered the house, they were greeted with the warmest welcome on every hand. A dinner-table, loaded with good things, was spread ; and on sitting down to partake with the elder people, they were attended by young ladies in white dresses, who glided about behind their chairs, their faces beaming with pleasure.

"After dinner, before the company departed, the new household was consecrated with prayer; and thus my parents entered upon their married life.

“ Some of the old people in Hadley have often alluded to their early recollections of my mother. Her elegant form, her noble and benignant countenance, her kind manners and gentle tones, and even her white dimity dress and black mantle, were well and long remembered.”

The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Woodbridge was Col. Thomas Seymour. He joined the army of the Revolution, and while connected with it received his military commission. But he soon quitted the rough service of the soldier, and passed his life, which was prolonged to almost a hundred years, in the quieter occupation of a civilian. He is said to have been the sixth lawyer in the direct ancestral line who had borne the name Thomas. His son, the father of Mrs. Woodbridge, was the seventh. As Mr. Woodbridge was the tenth minister of the name John in the direct line of his ancestors, it was humorously said on the occasion

[blocks in formation]

of their marriage, “We see at length the union of law and gospel.” Ier paternal grandmother was sister of the celebrated Col. Ledyard, who bravely defended Fort Griswold, at Groton, Conn., and was butchered with his own sword by the British officer to whom he had surrendered it together with the fort ; an incident, which, connected as it was with the slaughter of some seventy men after they had laid down their arms, thrilled the colonists with horror, and nerved them to fiercer resistance. It was an act of meanness and treachery which no American will forget, and which will make every noble-minded reader of the tragedy blush for bis species. Wm. Seymour, the son of Thomas, and nephew of Col. Ledyard, a lad of seventeen, - stole into the fort equipped as a soldier. When Ledyard discovered him he asked in tones of reproof, “ Why are you here, Billy ?” He bravely replied, “ Because you need men.” God had a work for him to do for the family of his reprover. By some means a son of Ledyard, a child of only nine years, was in the fort, and could not be removed with safety before the attack of the British began. When the terrible slaughter of the surrendered garrison was going on after the butchery of Ledyard, a soldier, in the madness of the hour, rushed up to the boy with the intent of striking the mortal blow. Wm. Seymour, his cousin, threw himself before him, exclaiming, “You shall cut me to pieces before you touch a hair of this orphan's head!” The boy was saved. But in the heroic act his cousin had one of his limbs nearly severed from his body, and was crippled for life.

A vein of martial fire inspired the family. Another son of Col. Thomas, Thomas Y., the father of Mrs. Woodbridge, — was designed for one of the learned professions, and entered Yale College with this in view. One morning his mother, while sitting in her own apartment, was surprised by his unexpected entrance. Why, Tommy!" she cried out, “what has brought you here ?" " To fight for my country," was the spirited reply. He was allowed to

« ElőzőTovább »