Imatges de pÓgina


stream of water was seen in the distance, pouring down a dizzy height with the greatest fury, and in one mass of foam. From a basin shaded with mountain pine, and decorated with the beautiful drapery of nature, it ran toward the plain, refreshing the air with its coolness, and amusing the eye with its wanderings, till it was lost in the deep and majestic Hudson. an eminence, almost surrounded by the stream, stood the ancient church, crowned with a lofty tower. I never saw it without thinking of the truths its situation served to inculcate, of separation from the world, and the necessity of the ordinance of baptism. These truths were faithfully taught within its walls. The venerable man who officiated at its altar, possessed a lively eloquence, and the most unaffected piety. He had been their pastor ever since the year in which the settlement commenced; and had preferred to the most brilliant offers, continuing with the people he loved. It was my misfortune to interrupt the serenity of this lovely village; and although I was forced to it by the sternness of unrelenting duty,' yet until I heard the clergyman, and observed his parishioners, I knew not what a heaven I was disturbing.

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Whenever the Sabbath called for the exercise of

his talents, his voice resumed its strength, and his eyes their lustre, though his frame trembled beneath the weight of its infirmities. The prayers of the church, in themselves most affecting and eloquent, acquired, by his manner of delivery, a greater kindness of invitation, a livelier expression of faith, and did not fail to make on the hearts of his hearers a deep and lasting impression.

With such exhortations, and with such a pastor, purity of soul, and innocence of life were the happy fruits of his ministry. Eminent in religion, he was also attached to literary pursuits. His care extended beyond the pale of his church, and his taste directed his pupils to the best works in the language. The young women had formed an extensive acquaintance with the belles-lettres authors, and understood the general principles of the most useful sciences. Lovely as wild flowers, they also possessed the fragrance of cultivation. His influence was felt where it was not seen. It is no less a proof of his virtues than of his talents, that he preserved over those of his young people who had gone forth into the world, to justle and mingle with its crowd, a firm and decided influence.

Even those who had risen to rank and distinction, never failed to make him their adviser. I have been pointed to some of the best measures of the executive of N****, during the late war, which had their origin in his strength and yet humanity of soul. But this tranquillity of life was now seriously interrupted. While in the discharge of his duty to the sick and distressed of a neighboring town, he was ill able to brave the tempest and the storm. He fell into a rapid decline, and his physicians retired from the contest with death. But for him death had no terrors; with the profoundest submission he confided himself to the care of Providence; with a well founded hope, he awaited the moment of dissolution. Not so with the village of S****: a heavy calamity was fallen upon them-the voice of weeping and wailing was heard.

It was at this state of things that the master arrived with the Decree, and all the wretchedness of misfortune now broke on their troubled minds. Every blessing, temporal as well as spiritual, seemed about to depart forever.

An interview between some of the elder inhabitants and the master was had at the village inn. Then it was that all the strange operations of claims, by way

of mortgage, with the interfering lien of judgment creditors, and the numerous equities that hang on these claims, were distinctly pointed out. Then, also, they learned, for the first time, that large estates, and extensive manors, may be contended for, and lost, without any farther notice to innocent purchasers and tenants than a mere formality, without explanation or meaning. They retired in despair, and returned to the parsonage to receive the last blessings of their dying pastor. They found him suddenly and strangely revived, as is often the case just before death; and some one imprudently divulged to him the secret of the Decree. On the whole, it was a fortunate occurrence; for he addressed them with preternatural strength, in a most consoling and beautiful exhortation. All the eloquence of mind which characterized his former earnestness of manner, was now poured forth like oil and wine into their wounds. His language was the same he ever used, but each word brought new and noble meanings—grander and loftier emotions. Earth was weighed in the balance, and found wanting, while heaven more visibly appeared to them full of riches and honor. It seemed as if his lips had been touched with a live coal from

the altar, and as if his priesthood was commencing in the very presence of the Lord.

He was exhausted, however, with his efforts-fell back on his pillow, and gently yielded up his spirit.

This was to the inhabitants of S**** the most distressing night they had ever known. Strong and affecting remembrances were all at once called to mind; tender ties and dear affections at once forever parted. On the morrow, for now indeed was sorrow fallen upon them, they were to be destitute as well as fatherless. It did arrive; and to the swollen eyes of the weepers, who had been watching all night with the corpse, a lovelier morning never appeared.

It was in autumn: the foliage had not changed, and the verdure preserved its summer tints. Not a cloud floated in the sky, and the sun in peerless majesty threw the lengthened shadows of the morn over the unruffled bosom of the waters.

The brook seemed more pure and sparkling; and its picturesque beauties more strikingly coincident with the surrounding landscape. The vessels on the river lay completely motionless; each sail hung relaxed on the mast, and their broad flag swept the surface of the stream. Every island and shore, each inlet and bay, was lit up with the splendors of the

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