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The Old New-England Conference.
WE have given, in the preceding pages, sketches of distinguished men in various fields of Methodism-Wesley, Fletcher, and Bunting in England Garrettson, Emory, Levings, and Olin in the middle American ConferencesRoberts and M'Kendree in the West-Hedding, Pickering, and Fisk in the East. In presenting these individual examples, we have been aware how many noble names are omitted, and have wished that our space would allow a fuller representation of each, if it had even to be in an aggregate form. The beautiful and remarkably truthful plate, which we here insert, enables us to do so in respect to New-England, with the hope that in some subsequent volume we may find it possible to represent, in similar manner, other divisions of our great evangelical field.
The engraving is a very accurate representation of the interior of the old Bromfield-street Church, Boston-a locale of sanctified reminiscences to Eastern Methodists. The scene is now entirely transformed; it has given place to one of the noblest chapels of American Methodism; but no one who worshipped within the old structure will ever forget, amid the modernized and beautiful conveniences of the new one, the precious associations of those days when
Hedding, Pickering, Merritt, Mudge, Kibby, Brodhead, Fillmore, Lindsay, and others of the old Legio Fulminea, thundered from its pulpit. It has been the most powerful battery of Methodism in New-England-occupied by its most powerful evangelists, and the gathering place of its most powerful corps of membership.
The portraits in the engraving are mostly correct likenesses-remarkably accurate if we consider the diminished scale upon which they are presented. TIMOTHY MERRITT, one of the intellectual champions of the denomination, stands in the pulpit. He was a thoroughly devoted man, and though now crumbling in the dust of the sepulchre, his influence is still felt through New-England, especially among such as are personally interested in that great distinction of our theology, the doctrine of Christian Perfection-a favourite theme of his pen and his preaching. Some of his literary works have taken permanent rank in our Book-Concern Catalogue. Take him all in all, he was, perhaps, in his day, the foremost man in the New-England Methodist ministry;-wise in counsel, powerful in the pulpit, formidable in controversy, holy in life.
Beside him sits GEORGE PICKERING, whose features will compare well with those of the larger engraving, given elsewhere in this volume. His attitude, even to the position of the hands, will be recalled by those who have seen him in the old Bromfield-street pulpit. DR. FISK is addressing the Conference at the foot of the pulpit-stairs. The artist has somewhat idealized his head and features, but not more so than the English painter in the larger likeness given with our sketch of him. In the present instance the outline of his person is accurately given, even to the old clerical style of dress, which he did not disdain to copy
from the fathers of our ministry. At his left sits the venerable HEDDING, with somewhat longer hair and less corrugated features than in our larger engraving, but not the less truthful for the time at which the portrait was taken. Many of his friends, who recollect his appearance at that earlier period, will prefer this more genial face to the later and more time-worn expression. He was the favourite bishop of the men with whom he is surrounded, having been their candidate at the time of his election, and for many years resident among them. He sits in their presence as among his brethren, tranquil and beloved. The later scenes of strife, so much lamented, though now passed, had not yet marred his and their brows.
DANIEL FILLMORE sits at the table as secretary, an office which he honourably sustained for many years in the old New-England Conference. He had been Hedding's associate in the Bromfield-street charge, and saw both the dark day and the day of deliverance to Boston Methodism. Preeminent in that "meekness of wisdom" which is commended in the Scriptures, ever kindly and cordial with his brethren, of persuasive talents in the pulpit, and unusual capacity for the labours and difficult offices of the pastor, he has served the Church through many years with an unblemished name and unfaltering integrity.
First on his left is seen the ample brow of the venerable BRODHEAD, one of the founders of New-England Methodism, and during a part of his life well-known to the country as a member of Congress. The Boston Post said at the time of his death:
Possessing naturally a strong mind, warm affections, and an imposing person, he was a popular as well as an
able and pious preacher; and probably no man in NewEngland had more personal friends, or could exercise a more widely-extended influence. He was repeatedly elected to the Senate of his adopted State, and to Congress, yet was always personally averse to taking office; and though he spoke but seldom on political subjects, the soundness of his judgment, and the known purity of his life, gave much weight to his opinions. In the early days of his ministry he endured almost incredible fatigue and hardship in carrying the glad tidings of the gospel to remote settlements, often swimming rivers on horseback, and preaching in his clothes saturated with water, till he broke down a naturally robust constitution, and laid the foundation of disease, which affected him more or less during his after life. In his last days, the gospel, which he had so long and so faithfully preached to others, was the never-failing support of his own mind. To a brother clergyman who inquired of him, a short time before his death, how he was, he said: 'The old vessel is a wreck, but I trust in God the cargo is safe!"'"
As a preacher, he possessed more than ordinary talents; his clear understanding, combined with quick sensibilities and a vivid imagination, could not but render him eloquent on the themes of religion. He was partial to the benigner topics of the gospel, and often would his congregations and himself melt into tears under the inspiration of his subjects. When he treated on the divine denunciations of sin, it was with a solemnity, and at times with an awful grandeur, that overwhelmed his hearers. "I heard him," says a veteran of our ministry, "when I was a young man, preach on the Last Judgment, in Bromfield-street chapel, on a Sabbath evening, and if the terrible reality had occurred that night
its impression could hardly have been more awfully alarming." At such times, "seeing the terror of the Lord," he persuaded men with a resistless eloquence, his large person and noble countenance seemed to dilate with the majesty of his thoughts, and he stood forth before the awe-struck assembly with the authority of an ambassador of Christ.
At the right of Brodhead, the benign face of ENOCH MUDGE will be recognised by his old hearers-a man dearly beloved by New-England as the first Methodist preacher raised up within her bounds, an honour which has the signal peculiarity that it can never be impaired— can never be shared by another. He was small in stature, stoutly framed, with a full ruddy face, a noble phrenological development, abundant but silvered hair, a kindliness of manner that insinuated cordial feelings into the rudest heart in his company, and an eloquence, in the pulpit, always fresh and winning. He braved heroically the first and hardest battles of Methodism, pursuing his itinerant career in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and died at last amid the benedictions of all the Eastern Church.
In manners, he would have been a befitting companion for St. John. The spirit of Christian charity imbued him; hopefulness, cheerfulness, entire reliance on God, confidence in his friends, extreme care to give no offence, and a felicitous relish of the reliefs and comforts of green old age, were among his marked characteristics. He was distinguished by fine pulpit qualifications-fertility of thought, a warmth of feeling without extravagance, a peculiar richness of illustration, and a manner always self-possessed, and marked by the constitutional amenity of his temper. None were ever wearied under his discourses. He published a