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most value. Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend, will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply, will make no man wise."
Neither are eccentric characters the best suited to instruct and impress. These can be easily made to awaken notice, and therefore their lives are often written and greedily read : but as the former subjects cannot be imitated, so these ought not. Eccentricity is sometimes found connected with genius, but it does not coalesce with true wisdom. Hence men of the first order of intellect, have never betrayed it; and hence also men of secondary talents drop it as they grow wiser; and are satisfied to found their consequence on real and solid excellency, not on peculiarity and extravagance. They are content to awaken regard, and obtain applause by the rectitude and gracefulness of their going, rather than to make passengers stare and laugh by leaping over the wall, or tumbling along the road. True greatness is serious : triNing is beneath its dignity. We are more indebted to the regular, sober, constant course of the sun, than *to the glare of the comet : the one indeed, occupies our papers, but the other enriches our fields and gardens ; we gaze at the strangeness of the one, but we live by the iiifluence of the other.
For the purposes of biography, those lives are the most eligible that are the most imitable ; and these are derived from characters that belong to our own community, that are found in the same relations and conditions with ourselves : whose circunstances make us feel for thic time the emotions which would be excited by the same good or evil happening to ourselves ; whose attainments, while they resulted from the divine blessing, cippear not to have been preturnatural, but were made under no greatcr advantages than our øvn; whose progress was not less owing to the stroke
of the oar, than the favourableness of the wind; whose excellencies, while they do not discourage us by their perfection, animate us by their degree; whose success teaches us, not how to be great, but how to be good and happy; whose piety is not fluctuating, but steady ; not visionary, but producing a beautiful correspondence to all the claims of the stations in which they are placed.
Those lives are worthy of remark that exhibit a sameness of principle in diversified circumstances.For the changing scenes through which a man passes, render his history at once more interesting and more profitable; they revolve his character, and we behold it successively in every point of light. · A life is deserving of regard that has filled various offices and relations, and has been exemplary in each of them. They that were connected with him, and those who were under his care, will be likely to re. member his instructions and example; while he serves as a model for others who are called to move in the same direction with himself.
Our great moralist admires a life in which a man is his own biographer.
« Those relations are commonly of most value in which the writer tells his own story. He that recounts the life of another, commonly dwells most upon conspicuous events, lessens the familiarity of his tale to increase its dignity, shows his favourite at a distance, decorated and magnified like the ancient actors in their tragic dress, and endeavours to hide the man, that he may produce a he
But if it be true wlich was said by a French prince, that no man was a hero to the servants of his chamber; it is equally truc, that every man is yet less a hero to himself. He that is most elevated above the crowd by the importance of his employment, or the reputation of his genius, feeis himself affected by fame or business, but as they influence his domestic
life. The high and low, as they have the same faculties and the same senses, have no less similitude in their pains and pleasures. The sensations are the same in all, though produced by different occasions. The prince feels the same pain when an invader seizes a province, as the farmer when a thief drives away his cow.
Men, thus equal in themselves, will appear equal in honest and impartial biography; and those whom fortune or nature place at the greatest distance, may afford instruction to each other.
66 The writer of his own life has at least the first qualification of an historian, the knowledge of the truth; and though it may be plausibly objected, that his temptations to disguise it, are equal to his opportunities of knowing it, yet I cannot but think that impartiality may be expected with equal confidence from him that relates the passages of his own life, as from him that delivers the transactions of another. He that sits down calmly and voluntarily to review his life for the admonition of posterity, or to amuse himself, and leaves this account unpublished, may be commoniy presumed to tell truth, since falsehood cannot appease his own mind, and lame will not be heard beneath the tomb."
If these considerations are allowed, I am fully justified in having wished to send forth the following account of the Rev. Cornelius Winter. It was principally written by himself. He has moved in a variety of relative situations. His lifc, though it has not made so much noise in the world as the progress of some others, has been in no small degree diversified and eventful; and the whole has been in a high degree, holy, benevolent, and useful.
It has indeed been supposed, that the delineation of very eminent examples may be injurious to persons of weak and tender minds; and that the sight fo superiority so great, will discourage from efforts at
imitation. Three things will fully answer such an objection as this. First-Though persons of inferior attainments ought to be encouraged, they ought not to be flattered. We must not turn the cordials of the Gospel into opiates ; nor lull into satisfaction with themselves, those who ought to be roused to advance and excel. Secondly. It is well to have a good copy, however imperfect the writing may be. A pattern ought to be something above us; something that will remind us of deficiency, and animate us to diligence. Thirdly.The sources of excellency lie open to us. If the attainments of those we commemorate were self-derived, and we were required to follow them in our own strength, we might indeed feel discouraged at the contemplation. But if their faith, and hope, and love, and usefulness, were the production of God's own Spirit-if the residue of this Spirit is with him and he has said, “ Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find”-none need despair. By the grace of God they were what they were : and the grace that was sufficient for them is equally so for us. We should therefore be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
But some may imagine we have spoken too highly of the venerable subject of the following pages. And it must be acknowledged that the manner in which works of biography have been frequently executed, has rendered a suspicion of this kind too natural. So often has the writer been the eulogist instead of the historian that the inind becomes sceptical, and takes it for granted that if fable be not mised with fact, reality is embellished by description, and magnified by the fondness of admiration. There is also peculiar danger that a biographer will be warped into partiality and exaggeration,if he feels very powerfully the sentiments of esteem and gratitude. I hope my readers will do me the justice to believe
that I sat down to this work under a persuasion of the truth of these remarks, and aware of the danger in which my feelings placed me. I have endeavoured to keep myself under the eye of God--and though I know not whether there has been a wakeful hour since his death, in which I have not thought of the deceased, or that I have written a page concerning him without tears for tears have been my meat*. I am confident nothing has been advanced in the representation that equals the original.
Indeed, in commendation of this servant of God, this benefactor of man, I am in no hazard of contradiction from those who knew him: for perhaps seldom, if ever, was there such an harmony of sentiment concerning any individual before. “ That good man," was the manner in which he was always introduced, and the preface to every thing that was said of him.
The work ought to have been better: and probably would have been, if more time had been allowed by the importunity of friendship; but I have done what I could in a very few weeks of frequent interruption and indisposition. The toil of examining an immense number of letters received and written by the deceased, and the perplexity of selecting extracts, and inserting them in their proper place, have not been without fatigue. But I have laboured with pleasure, and rejoice in the enterprise, from a persuasion that what I have written from the warmest affection and the highest regard, will at the same time be ratified by a large proportion of the public voice; and that I am doing good to others while I have an opportunity to indulge my own feelings, and to acknowlege
* " When Heaven would set our spirits free,
And eartli's enchantment eni), It takes the most effectual means, And rols us of a friend."