Copyright
John McClintock.

Sketches of eminent Methodist ministers online

. (page 25 of 26)
Online LibraryJohn McClintockSketches of eminent Methodist ministers → online text (page 25 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


directly or indirectly, from his energy. As soon as Dr.
Coke died, Jabez Bunting became the chief director of the
missionary movement of Methodism the greatest move-
ment in its history and to him more than any other man
it owes the precedence which it now takes of all the
other Protestant missionary enterprises of the world. He
had offered to go to India himself as a missionary, and has
been heard to say, "Some of the happiest moments of my
life, next to those that immediately followed my conver-
sion, were when I fully presented myself to the Lord as a
missionary to India." He was wisely prevented from



352 JABEZ BUNTING.

going, however, that he might do a larger work for mis-
sions at home. He helped to organize the Wesleyan mis-
sionary interest ; took the platform for it with triumphant
success; was sent to London that he might supervise it,
and there made one of the noblest sacrifices for it that
could be made by such a mind. He was endowed with
taste and capacity for literature, and had formed with a
friend some favourite literary projects; but on foreseeing
the results of the missionary undertakings of the "Con-
nexion," he wrote to his friend : " The die is cast. If I
give to our missions the attention they require, I shall not
have any time hereafter for literature." "This," says the
London Christian Times, "must have been a conscious
sacrifice of both reputation and enjoyment; but it was
deliberately made, and, consequently, except his sermon
on Justification by Faith, which has gone through seven
editions, you will now inquire in vain for his productions.
Another sermon, preached in Dr. Winter's Chapel before
the Sunday-School Union, is, we believe, out of print."

He was the first to introduce laymen into the manage-
ment of the missionary affairs of the Church, and not with-
out some clerical opposition. He has always had the good
judgment to see the value of their services, especially in
financial matters, where clergymen are, naturally enough,
found wanting. Beginning with the missionary society,
he urged on this improvement "till, upon every Connex-
ional committee, laymen were placed in equal number with
ministers. He also proposed and carried the admission of
laymen into the District meetings, so that through his
legislation no matter of Connexional finance is settled by
the Conference ; all this being done by mixed committees,
and the Conference merely acting as a court of record for



JABEZ BUNTING. 353

their measures." So says an English authority ; and an-
other author affirms that, "It is a fact but little known,
and, by those who have been accustomed to hear this
great man railed at as a priestly dictator, not even sus-
pected, that nearly every measure which has popularized
the institutions of Methodism which has given to the
people a more liberal representation has originated with
Dr. Bunting."

He has also led the way in the great educational enter-
prizes of Wesleyan Methodism. These are numerous, and
now potent in their endowment and influence. We can
refer to but one of them, the one at the head of which, as
president, he still stands, and the post at which he will
probably fall The "Wesleyan Theological Institute. This
is an interest of the denomination that he anticipated with
solicitude for many years, and has fostered with unremit-
ting care since its birth. At the very first Conference
held by Wesley, some such provision for the education of
young preachers was proposed. The proposition was
repeated at the next session ; it was never lost sight of by
the Wesleyan Conference until it stood realized in two of
their noblest denominational structures one at Richmond,
in the South ; the other at Didsbury, in the North. About
ten years ago the Richmond Seminary was opened with an
address by Dr. Bunting, which we give, though in the meager
outline of a newspaper report, from the London Watch-
man, as indicating somewhat the history of the design :

"Dr. Bunting then addressed the assemblage, in which
he entertained strong objections to this place being called
the Richmond College ; it was the Richmond INSTITUTION ;
to speak more diffusely, the Richmond Branch of the
Wesleyan Theological Institution. He hoped his excellent

23



354 JABKZ BUNTING.

friends, to whom would be permanently and regularly
intrusted the management of the institution, and the edu-
cation of the young brethren, would concur with him in
the opinion he had just expressed. There were many
things implied in what was properly speaking a college,
which they did not aim to realize in this establishment.
He congratulated the friends of the institution on the
numerous assemblage now congregated. It was nearly a
hundred years ago namely, at the Conference of 1744
that the propriety of instituting a 'seminary,' as it was
then termed, was first mooted; and this institution was,
therefore, in principle anything but an innovation. The
question proposed to the Conference of 1744 was, ' Can we
have a seminary for labourers?' He hoped the young
brethren who were receiving instruction in the Theological
Institution would always bear this in mind, that when the
establishment of such an institution or seminary was first
suggested, it was proposed for the instruction and training
of 'labourers.' His young brethren must remember that
they were td*be ' labourers ;' and if he thought that any-
thing they might learn, or any habits which they might
acquire in that institution would unfit them for labour, or
disincline them to labour, he would most deeply regret its
establishment. But he anticipated a very different result.
He anticipated that, by the blessing of God upon the assid-
uous efforts of their tutors, they would, in this institution,
learn how to labour, and be strengthened in their determi-
nation to labour faithfully and zealously, wherever their
lot might be cast. He had stated that, at the Conference
of 1744, the question was proposed, ' Can we have a semi-
nary for labourers?' The answer was, 'If God spares us
till another Conference.' The subject was resumed at the



JABEZ BUNTING. 355

next Conference, and it was asked, 'Can we have a semi-
nary for labourers yet? ' Not yetj was the answer; 'not
till God gives us a proper tutor? The want of a proper
tutor was the only reason assigned why an establishment
similar in principles and objects to this institution was not
made coeval with the earliest periods of Wesleyan Meth-
odism. At the end of a century, that which, even at the
early period he had referred to, was felt to be a desidera-
tum had now, by the providence of God, been supplied.
An institution had been established which, for the sake of
convenience, had branched into two divisions : one of those
branches having been opened last September, at Didsbury,
near Manchester, which was called the Northern Branch ;
and the other, or Southern Branch, being that which they
were now assembled, in a more formal and solemn manner
than had hitherto been done, to dedicate to the service of
God. They seemed, indeed, to have all they required,
except two things. They did want more money. (Hear,
hear.) It might be said, 'Why did you erect such an
expensive building as this? We cannot help doing justice
to the architectural merit of the building ; we must allow
that it is beautiful and commodious; but have you not
spent upon the erection of the building money which
might have been better applied to the support of the insti-
tution?' He would reply, 'No; these premises arc a,
present to the institution, from the Centenary Fund, by a
grant made for the specific purpose of such am erection /
and I am informed that not one farthing of the money
subscribed by individual friends for the support of the
institution for the maintenance and instruction of the
students will have to be appropriated to defray the cost
of the building. (Hear, hear.) He believed it would not



356 .1ABEX BUNTING.

be necessary to trench upon any funds contributed for the
maintenance of the institution ; but that the sum granted
from the Centenary Fund would just be sufficient to defray
the expenses of the purchase, and of the erection of this
beautiful and commodious structure, which was so well
calculated to accomplish the monumental and commemora-
tive part of the various noble objects contemplated in the
original plan of the Centenary Fund. Since, then, they
had obtained such convenient accommodation and since
there was in the building a considerable number of stu-
dents, to whom he hoped more would be hereafter added
it now remained for them to provide means for the annual
support of the institution."

Dr. Bunting feels satisfied with the results of the meas-
ure. At the session of the British Conference in August,
1852, after the presentation of the usual resolutions in
respect to the Theological Institution, he arose, and, among
other things, declared "that he was more than ever con-
vinced that the institution was of God of God in its
origin, and in its progress to that state of maturity and
extensive usefulness which it had now reached."

Of this noble institution we give several engraved illus-
trations, as it is the final official responsibility of the great
man whom we have been describing.

Dr. Bunting, like all first-class minds, is variously great.
We have considered him as a preacher and as a practical
manager. As a debater he is esteemed without a rival
among his brethren. He is chary of his remarks in Con-
ference sessions, well knowing that frequent and unim-
portant speeches there are a sure forfeiture of influence,
as well as a vexatious embarrassment of business. He
seldom speaks over five minutes at a time, and then after



JABEZ BUNTING. 357

most others are through, and for the purpose of concen-
trating the dispersed and bewildered thoughts of the body,
of allaying exasperated feelings, or clinching the subject
by some summary and conclusive argument. "When,
however, occasion requires it, he can enter the arena full
armed, and fight the combat out invariably with victory.
Mr. Everett, who has lately become noted as his assailant,
once gave the following sketch of him as a debater :

" See him : there he sits on the platform, surrounded by
the leading members of the Conference, his elbow on the
table, and his chin embedded in the palm of his hand. A
subject of importance being on the tapis, and the speaker
being low, or at a distance, the hand is speedily relieved
of the chin, and placed behind the ear, where it remains
as a substitute for a trumpet, gathering together the words,
while the sense which it is intended to aid drinks in the
sound. An occasional note is made on a slip of paper, or
the back of a letter, in the course of a protracted discus-
sion; but memory, which rarely ever fails him, is mostly
depended upon. Now, he is calm and dignified ; but in
an instant the scene is changed. The speaker has the mis-
fortune to oppose some favourite theory, to trench upon
some of the peculiarities of Methodism, or belongs to the
other side of the house : that moment, the eye of our
pleader is darted like the eye of a lynx along the line of
sound, and either quails or rouses the person who has
gained his attention. He again appears tranquil ; but it
is the tranquillity of a man who is pondering upon what
has been said. Speaker succeeds speaker, till at length
silence ensues, and, during the momentary pause, he
looks round ; but no one essaying to rise, he considers his
own time to have come. He loves the closing speech ;



358 JABEZ BUNTING.

and now that he is on his feet, let the eye be thrown
around the audience, and all will be seen on the tip-toe
all will be still to the ear. The first feeling in operation
in the breasts of previous speakers, refers as much to
themselves as the subject; and the first thought in the
mind of the mere hearer, is inadvertently directed to the
same quarter, and is followed up with anxiety or pleasure
looking forward to see how it will fare with such as
have thus entered the arena of debate, as well as toward
the fate of the question in which he himself may have an
interest, and which absolutely hangs upon the breath, and
is to be decided by him upon whom every eye is now
fixed, as by fascination. Listen to him: he takes, per-
haps, at first, a dispassionate view of the general question,
then gives you his own opinion ; next goes on to establish
certain positions ; notices the remarks of previous speak-
er's, so far as they seem to interfere with his own senti-
ments ; and, lastly, proceeds to the formal reply, in which
he often takes upon himself the onus probandi, either
classifying the arguments of his opponents, or taking up
their objections separately, as may best suit his purpose ;
encircling himself all the while in a tower of strength,
from whose impregnable walls he nods defiance to all his
assailants. Very often, at a moment when a man is con-
gratulating himself on the probability of a happy escape,
or of finding his arguments valid, by a less early notice,
he will come down upon him in an instant, like an unex-
pected flash of lightning, broad and vivid, shivering to
pieces, by a single stroke, the whole superstructure he had
reared, and upon which he had long gazed with the fond-
ness of a parent on a favourite child compelling him at
the time by its glare to shrink back into himself. On




.ENTRANCE HALL AND PRINCIPAL STAIRCASE.



JABEZ BUNTING. 359

these occasions he can be sarcastic, solemn, playful, or
otherwise. But he never approaches a subject without
illuminating it, and rarely retires from the field without
conquest ; followed by the smiles of his friends, and leav-
ing the opposing powers in a state of suspense or blank
astonishment. We feel unwilling to leave this part of his
character, and yet we are afraid to proceed with it, owing to
our incompetency to do it j ustice. We have heard pleaders
at the bar, and statesmen in the senate, (a place, by the
way, which he is very fond of attending ;) but we solemnly
aver, that, for reply, we never heard a near approach to
him. His replies are like the set speeches of some of our
first speakers ; so full, so regular, so neat, so consecutive,
so pertinent, so easy, so ready! He has no set time for
emphasis, but rises in feeling with the importance of
his subject, and the people go up with him, till both
gain the summit of the mount, and the latter feel it diffi-
cult to descend again, or stoop to common things. His
eloquence is irresistible. Had he been brought up to the
bar, or been trained for the senate, he would never have
paused in his upward career, till he had either been pre-
mier or lord high chancellor; and where he is, he is a
king among his subjects. His presence of mind never
forsakes him. No man makes fewer mistakes, and he
never leaves an advantage unimproved. It is dangerous
for an adversary to slumber or be off his guard in his
presence. He is always awake himself, and, like the
famous Erskine, is as daring as he is skilful; taking
advantage of the least opening, and defending himself
with caution. His fine spirit and courage, when let
out, give vigour and direction to the whole, bearing
down all resistance. He is not like some speakers, full



360 JABEZ BUNTING.

of repetition, recurring again and again to the same
topic or view of the subject, till he has made the impres-
sion complete ; he rarely goes back to the same ground,
which, in the language of an eminent writer, he has
' utterly wasted by the tide of fire he has rolled along it.'
He completes his work as he goes on. He has a preter-
natural quickness of apprehension, which enables him to
see at a glance what costs other minds the labour of an
investigation. It is this that makes ordinary business easy
to him, and hence he has been heard to say that he
could never make what some men call speeches that his
were all matters of mere detail in business. He is not
only quick, but sure. And though he has fire, yet it is of
that kind that he has rarely the heat of passion to plead
or regret. As the head of a party, he has none of its
prejudices to plead, having no person to serve; and he
has few, if any, peculiarities of a personal character ; no
' mental idiosyncrasies,' as Lord Brougham would say, to
indulge, which produce capricious fancies and crotchets.
His faculties are always unclouded and unstunted, ever to
be depended on; and his judgment secures him success
and adherents."

Aged, broken in health, afflicted with the recent fear-
ful convulsions of Methodism in England, Jabez Bunt-
ing still holds on his undeviating course. His faculties
are yet vigorous; he is still the great counsellor of his
denomination, and though incapable of moving to and fro
in its field as he has for more than half a century, he is
nevertheless still its guiding mind.



WE have given, in the preceding pages, sketches of distin-
guished men in various fields of Methodism Wesley,
Fletcher, and Bunting in England Garrettson, Emory,
Levings, and Olin in the middle American Conferences
Roberts and M'Kendree in the West Hedding, Pick-
ering, and Fisk in the East. In presenting these indi-
vidual 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



362 THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.

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 like-
nesses remarkably accurate if we consider the diminished
scale upon which they are presented. TIMOTHY MEJRRITT,
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 dis-
tinction of our theology, the doctrine of Christian Perfec-
tion 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 pul-
pit, formidable in controversy, holy in life.

Beside him sits GEOEGE PICKERING, whose features will
compare well with those of the larger engraving, given else-
where 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. DK. FISK is address-
ing 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 like-
ness 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



THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE. 363

from the fathers of our ministry. At his left sits the vener-
able HEDDING, with somewhat longer hair and less corru-
gated 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 pres-
ence 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 FLLLMORE sits at the table as secretary, an
office which he honourably sustained for many years in
the old New-England Conference. He had been Hed-
ding'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 pul-
pit, 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 Method-
ism, 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



364 THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.

able and pious preacher ; and probably no man in New-
England had more personal friends, or could exercise a
more widely-extended influence. He was repeatedly elect-
ed 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 car-
rying 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 faith-
fully 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



THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE. 365

its impression could hardly have been more awfully alarm-
ing." 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 phrenologi-
cal 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 Con-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 25

Online LibraryJohn McClintockSketches of eminent Methodist ministers → online text (page 25 of 26)