« PrécédentContinuer »
These reflections have been made upon the character of Paul, that your feelings and my own, might be prepared for fome appropriate remarks on the character of that venerable fervant of Jesus, whofe lofs we deplore. You will not expect from me a complete deliniation of the character of the late refpected and beloved pastor of this church. Such a task, at any time, I should be incapable of performing; under the circumftances, in which I now appear before you, I shall not attempt to perform it. If fincere respect, and love for the fervant of God, whose death we lament, can claim indulgence for the imperfect sketches, which may be given, I shall have fecured to me your candour. If what may be faid shall be unworthy of the occafion, on which I am called to address you, I fhall be folaced with the belief, that the character of your departed friend and spiritual guide will not fuffer; for, I truft, that his excellencies are deeply impreffed upon your hearts, and that you will do juftice to his memory.
The Rev. JOSEPH BUCKMINSTER, D. D. was born in Rutland, Mass. Oct. 14, 1751. His father, during a long ministry in that town, was diftinguished for his active zeal in the duties of his facred office. The late paftor of this church was early destined for profeffional life. He was admitted, as a ftudent in Yale College, and received the usual honours of that feminary. How he occupied his time during his academical course; and in what estimation he was held by the literary guardians of that respectable seminary, may be inferred from his being elected to the office of tutor, in which he continued four years. While an undergraduate, he became seriously impreffed with religious truth, and, as he hoped, reconciled to God by faith in his Son. From this important period of his life, till he became the pastor of this
church, his attention was directed to preparations for the christian ministry. In January 1779 he was folemnly dedicated to the paftoral office in this place.
The character of Dr. Buckminster's mind was strongly marked. It had much originality. No perfon could be confiderably converfant with him without noticing that strength of volition, which always indicates fuperiority of intellectual endowments. His mind was rapid in its operations, and impatient of delay. His imagination was excurfive, and ever on the wing. In the character of his mind, he appeared to have been qualified for distinction in the department of elegant literature. Such in early life was his taste for the charms of mufic and poetry, that he seriously apprehended, he should forego folid usefulness of character to enjoy the pleasures of fancy. Under this apprehenfion he almost totally abstracted himself from his favourite pursuits, and for Parnaffus, fubftituted Mount Zion. In his services, as a christian minister, traces of a playful imagination were ever discoverable. He feemed to delight to dwell on the figurative language, and rich imagery of the scriptures, and to dress the folemn truths of religion in all the ornaments, which the facred clafficks could fupply.
His paffions were naturally ardent and strong. They required all the power of christianity for their control. This power was employed, and they were fanctified to his Mafter's service. His heart was warm, affectionate and generous. Frankness and honesty were traits in his character, which all, who knew him, must have obferved and admired. His purposes were formed by the dictates of conscience, and he wished for no concealment; his errours were fuch as good men may commit,
and he was ever forward, when they were perceived by him, to acknowledge them. His confcience was remarkably delicate and tender. He had fuch a deep impreffion of the nature of fin, that he habitually thrunk from it, as from every thing base, difhonorable, and oppofed to the character of that God, whom he ferved. He used every proper means of preferving the delicacy of his moral tafte; and through life was remarkable for the quickness, with which he perceived any deviation from moral rectitude, and for the lively fenfibility, with which he observed the flighteft fhades of iniquity.
I have attempted to fix upon fome of the prominent traits in the character of Dr. Buckminster's mind and heart, as they have been impreffed upon me, during the fhort period, in which I have been indulged with the privilege of his acquaintance. If the description, given, be in any degree correct, it might have been expected, that such natural talents, fan&tified by religion, would attract the attention of the friends of Chrift, and be the means of advancing his glorious caufe. His natural talents. were fanctified, and entirely devoted to the miniftry, which he received of the Lord Jesus. In the formation of his minifterial character, and the discharge of the duties of his facred office, his whole foul was engaged. Though he felt most fenfibly the contempt, poured by finners upon the kind meffages of his Master, and often lamented with much feeling the apparent inefficacy of his labours; yet he never relaxed his exertions to do good. He could have faid, when ftruggling with the difficulties, and dif couragements, which attend the duties of the chriftian ministry,
NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME; NEITHER COUNT I MY LIFE DEAR UNTO MYSELF, SO THAT I MAY FINISH MY COURSE
WITH JOY, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS, TO TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE
Dr. Buckminster having early devoted himself to God in the Gospel of his Son, from a full conviction of the divine origin of christianity, of the infinite worth of the truths, which it reveals, and of the abfolute neceffity of the mediation of Jefus Chrift to prepare the way for the reconciliation of finners unto
God, advocated the cause of his Mafter with firmnefs; and with perfevering zeal befought finners to fpurn the degrading bondage of iniquity, to accept the gracious offers of pardon, to tafe and see, that the Lord is good. By his uniform exertions, and his entire confecration of himself to Chrift, he proved, that he was "honeft in the facred caufe." Poffeffing a vigorous constitution of body, he was enabled, with more conftancy, than many of his brethren, to labour in the vineyard of his Lord. He wished not to withhold himself from the work; but was willing to spend, and be spent in his Masters service. He was in labours more abundant. He appeared ever anxious to discover means, by which he could gain access to the human heart, and inculcate the truths of the gofpel. All, who wished for his inftructions, found him gratified with affording them his affistance. In promoting an acquaintance with the facred fcriptures, and in cultivating among the people of his charge a devotional spirit, he employed much of his time. To these purposes he statedly devoted portions of each week ; and has often expreffed the pleasure, which he received from attending with his friends, feafons feparated for improvement in religious knowledge, and for exercises of piety.
In times of sickness and forrow he appeared, as a minister
of the great phyfician of fouls. He gave his aid in encouraging the hopes of the humble christian, languishing by disease. He unfolded to him the animating promiles of the gospel of the grace of God, and affured him, that death had no power to injure his best interests; for Jefus had taken away its sting, and brought life and immortality to light. When he faw a finner finking into the grave careless concerning the fcenes, which were to open beyond it, he felt all the folicitude and painful anxiety, which the moft facred friendthip could infpire. With the utmost plainnefs, and with affectionate zeal he explained to him the conditions of falvation, and preffed upon him the abfolute necessity of
REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST.
He directed the thoughts of mourners to God, the good Father of all; inculcated refignation to his will, as a rational duty; taught the ufes of adverfity, by his own prayers recommended them to divine mercy, and instructed them in the language and spirit,. in which they might addrefs God, with a hope, that he would heal the wounds, which he had inflicted, and enable them to rejoice in tribulation. He was instant in season, and out of season, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
The characteristicks of his publick services were great folicitude for the honour of Christ, and the fouls of men; great folemnity and fervour. His prayers breathed a spirit of ardent piety. They were evidence, that human wants, the dangers, which encompass the chriftian's course, and the conflicts, to which goodness is expofed, were fubjects of habitual thought, and of retired prayer. He took delight in devotional exercises, and was much engaged in them. He very justly confidered de