Page images
PDF
EPUB

collections of unlooked for kindness, and gracefully given services.

“Remarkable as were these many traits of excellence, it was in the pulpit that the pastor shone with the brightest lustre. Clear, simple, chaste, logical, impassioned, he combined the most opposite qualities; and although reduced almost to a skeleton by consumption, his magnificent voice, with its clear enunciation and diversified intonation, could be heard at an almost incredible distance. Here there was no diffidence apparent. The ambassador of God, speaking under his authority, to his sinful creatures, knew no fear, and practised no deference. Hopes of heaven, fears of hell, the beauty of holiness, the deformity of sin, the goodness, the mercy and the justice of God, were in turn his theme; and never did his people hear abler expositions, or more affectionately eloquent appeals. His success in his lofty mission had been proportionate to the means, and he had the happiness of collecting around him a people sound in faith and zealous of good works."

From the same pen, the following obituary notice was published in the daily papers of Philadelphia, soon after the death of Dr. Bedell.

“ Those who knew Dr. BEDELL, solely through his literary productions and his clerical reputation, must have felt surprised at the announcement of his age. That he who had poured such an abundant treasure from the press, and so long held the highest place in pulpit oratory, should have reached only to twoscore years, is indeed matter of wonder ; but when we know, that for at least fifteen years he has contended with a malady which seldom permitted a single day of entire comfort, we are doubly im. pressed with astonishment at the labours endured, and the works executed by him.

“ The mystery is easily explained, however, when it is known, that he lived with the single purpose of serving his Divine Mas, ter, and that though possessed of a facility and versatility of talent,

which would have seduced almost any other man into procrastination, he seldom lost the little fractions of time, so generally squandered; but in every place, and at all seasons, was accustomed to seize his pen and record his thoughts. He has been often seen in his vestry room, in the midst of his friends, immediately after laborious public duty, committing to paper, hints for future sermons, or anticipated publications. This economy of time, too, was practised by the man who has more than once written out an entire sermon at a single sitting. Valuable as he was in other respects, in none has Dr. Bedell exhibited a more useful and a rarer lesson.

“In another respect, he presented a delightful model. Originally kind, gentle, and most affectionate, his heart did not lose the freshness and force of feeling as it became necessary to expand his regards over a wider surface-nor did increasing years abate the vigour of his sentiments. For his fellow men, as well as for his friends and his family, there was a constantly increasing interest; and as his religion burned more and more intensely, so did his love for his neighbour' grow stronger and stronger; and while he learned to love his God with all his soul, he did not forget to prize his fellows as himself.

“ It was this two-fold affection, which, through the grace of God, kept him from feeling elated by the successful service of the temple, and the flattering suffrages of the world. His humility grew with his fame and his usefulness, and then most did he give the glory to his Master, when he was most eminent in the eyes of

The nearer he drew to heaven, and the more his labours resulted in good and great effects, the more did he lament the feebleness of the efforts, compared with the greatness of the cause, and thank the Giver of every good gift, that the progress of his kingdom was not left to any arm of flesh.

“ That remarkable humility gave a peculiar grace to his natural gentleness of manner and character. He was the gentlest of human beings, and while perfectly fearless in the execution of his high functions, always preferred persuasion to command, and

men.

desired rather to lead than to drive the sinner to repentance. In an intimate, almost daily intercourse for more than ten years, the writer of this article never recieved from him a harsh or hasty observation, although matters of the deepest interest were frequently subjects of discordant opinion. The dogmatic manner so frequently the result of pulpit declamation, never infected him, and all his intimate friends will agree in the opinion, that he was en. tirely free from this very common fault of those who, in any profession, are frequently privileged to assert without hazard of direct contradiction.

“ His singleness of heart, and force of religion, made Dr. Bedell eminently practical. The speculations which might illustrate the man were avoided for the services which might save the sinner, and that only seemed important in his eyes, which promised to advance practically the mighty cause in which he had embarked his energies, and to which he sacrificed, first his health, and then his life. Every thing was turned by him to religious account. He edited a newspaper-it was a Christian Register. He wrote a review-it was to bring the example and precepts of Heber attractively before his readers. He published a Souvenirit was to press the popular annuals into the service of religion. He was a chief builder up of Bristol College— It was to disci. pline and instruct new soldiers of the cross for that strife in which he could not long hope himself to be a combatant.' He greedily devoured the literature of the day—it was to select, re-publish, and spread abroad whatever was promotive of morals and illustrative of piety. Every one who examines the shelves of the booksellers, finds the name of Dr. Bedell on the title-page of a very large portion of the most saleable religious books. His tact in this was unquestionable ; and his selection was considered a sufficient warrant for republication, his name an adequate proof of popular fitness.

“With such qualities, who could fail to prove interesting and instructive in the pulpit? But Dr. Bedell had also elegant taste, chaste gesture, and a pleasing, powerful, and clear enunciation. VOL. I.

ii

With such advantages, with heart-felt conviction of the truth and paramount importance of his subject, forgetful of self, and look. ing only to his audience, he never failed to make a strong and permanent impression. Under such circumstances, those who knew him best, and heard him most frequently, felt him most forcibly. He was an unrivalled every-day preacher. Never aiming at single great efforts, he never fell into mediocrity. Al. though his occasional sermons exhibited rare powers, it was necessary to hear him often, to know the full influence of his eloquence. The stream of his mind seldom dashed from the cataract, or foamed in the rapids. Clear, gentle, pure, it was always beautiful, seldom wild or irregular. It delighted not in the rock and the whirlpool, but loved to stray along the cultivated fields, and amidst verdant meadows, where it could fertilize the one, and irrigate the other. Judging of oratory by its effects, bis was of the highest order, for he reared St. Andrew's from its foundations; and that Church, with its overflowing people, its nu. merous societies, its rich donations, its thousand scholars, is the very point to which the Episcopal public turns for an example of active good and extended usefulness. It was the product of the labour of eleven years, during all which time he was under the lash of disease, often painful, always oppressive.

“But in spite of a feeble constitution and superinduced sickness, literary labours, and general engagements, the first Rector of St. Andrew's Church has left it in a state of the highest reli. gious prosperity, after a progress most harmonious, at a period when the dissentions of the church-general, rendered it difficult to maintain the peace and good order of individual communities.

“ His year has closed almost in its spring, but the fruits were mingled with the blossoms, and amidst the buds and powers of the earlier season we hail the ripened grain, and the rich abundance of a productive autumn-who then shall lament, that his sun has gone down while it was yet day,' since he has done his work, and avoided the ills of the sunset of life! It was an early, but not a premature death—and indeed his influence does not die with him, for its lasting memorials are every where abroad in the Churches, to stimulate piety and enliven hope ; and to prove, that, with the blessing of God, great ends may be reached by apparently inadequate means.

“ It is scarcely to be supposed that with such dispositions and such piety as were possessed by Dr. Bedell, his social circle could fail to be peculiarly interesting. Gentle manners, warm affections, sprightly friendships, were there in a degree scarcely ever found in our darkened world. His wife was his highest and most cherished friend and confidant; his children feared only to wound him, and his friends crowded round him with a full assurance of a welcome, at once warm and sincere. It was indeed impossible to enter his domestic circle, without feeling how much its enjoy. ments were heightened and purified by the sacred spirit of its head, and the habitual kindness of its inmates. His widowed wife and his orphan children have lost, not only their stay, but their preceptor and companion. Yet if they mourn, they have the certainty of his happiness to console, and his bright example to support them. They are the legacy of the righteous man, and will they not participate in the promise that they shall not be deserted ?”

THE END.

« PreviousContinue »