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necticut, 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 felici-
tous relish of the reliefs and comforts of green old age,
were among his marked characteristics. He was distin-
guished by fine pulpit qualifications fertility of thought,
a warmth of feeling without extravagance, a peculiar rich-
ness 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



366 THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.

volume of excellent sermons for mariners, and many poetical
pieces of more than ordinary merit.

At the right of Mudge stands the veteran ASA KENT,
who still survives one of the few remaining members of
that corps of strong men who laid the foundations of our
cause in the New-England States. He is small in person ;
his face bears the marks of extreme years, and he totters
on the verge of the grave ; but his faculties retain a re-
markable degree of vigour, as his occasional writings in our
periodicals show. His memory is a store-house of old
Methodistic reminiscences, and our historical writers owe
much to his recollections and sound judgment. Yermont,
Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have been the principal
fields of his labour. He shared the severest conflicts of our
cause in the former, and is a living history of the Church
in that State. The great peculiarities of Methodism are
with him, as with most of our early preachers, very pre-
cious. " I believe," he says, in a letter once addressed to
the writer of this article, " I believe the Lord cleansed my
soul from sin more than forty years ago. I have not
steadily enjoyed the witness of it; but, for nearly that
time, have seen no terrors in death or the grave. The doc-
trine of holiness is my comfort and joy, and I hope, through
mercy, to dwell with God forever, as a sinner saved by
grace ; even so. Amen."

In about the centre of the pews JOSEPH A. MEKEILL will
be recognised, with his face turned toward the spectator.
His name has become quite familiar in the New-England
Conference, not only from his own long connexion with it,
but also by the number of worthy sons whom his careful
training has, under God, given to the ministry. He was a
" strong man " a good, sound preacher, unshakable in his



THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE. 367

adhesion to the great principles of Methodism, a persever-
ing labourer in many hard fields, the associate of Kuter
and Fisk in the early struggles of the Church for educa-
tional institutions, and a man of unusual sagacity and
skill in the practical management of public affairs. His
frame was large, though not corpulent, his head amply
developed, and his features regular.

On his left sits EBENEZER F. NEWELL, another of the
survivors of the first battles of the Church in the East.
His labours have been chiefly in Vermont, Maine, and
Massachusetts. His memoirs have been published; they
are very entertainingly characteristic, and full of illustra-
tions of the hardships and triumphs of our primitive preach-
ers. Mr. Newell is remarkable for his exceeding amiability,
the warmth of his religious sympathies, his ready conver-
sational powers, and the many interesting recollections of
the " old times " with which his conversation is enlivened.

Behind him, and in the adjacent right-hand pew, sits
THOMAS C. PIERCE, a man well-beloved, especially in Yer-
mont and Massachusetts, where he laboured faithfully and
with much success through a long life. He was slight in
person and infirm in health, but always abounding in the
work of the Lord. He had good talents, a rare aptness
in the illustration of truth, a persuasive, winning manner
in his discourse, and was an unusually successful pastor.
He lived a good working life, and died well, leaving a
name in the Church that is as ointment poured forth.

To the left of Mr. Pierce, and closely behind him, are
seen the full and kindly features of ABRAHAM D. MERRILL,
who still lives and labours in the New-England Conference.
He is large in person, with a capacious head, ample fea-
tures, and a voice of music, which he not unfrequently uses



368 THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.

with the force of a trumpet; for, though a Jeremiah in
pathos, he is also known in the Church as a son of thun-
der. His talents are good, his appeals sometimes over-
whelming ; and he is, in fine, what every preacher of the
gospel should be, a " revivalist."

At his right, in the same pew with Thomas C. Pierce,
sits EPAPHRAS KJBBY, one of the strong men among " the
giants of those days" when Methodism had to advance
amid continual conflicts. Fifty-five years ago he entered
the itinerancy; he lingers still among his brethren with
erect form and vigorous faculties, but disabled strength.
He saw the great battles and the triumphs of our cause in
Maine, at the beginning of the century. He was one of
the most powerful and popular of our early preachers in
Boston. He formed the first Methodist Society in the city
of New-Bedford. Mr. Kibby is tall and slight in person,
extremely neat in dress, and venerable with age. His
talents were of a very superior order. His imagination
furnished him with vivid illustrations, always abundant,
chaste, and appropriate. His reasoning was strikingly per-
spicuous, direct, and conclusive, his language remarkable
for both elegance and force. Though he never used notes
in the pulpit, yet a large portion of his sermons were fully
written the cause, probably, of that rich and correct dic-
tion which so eminently characterized even his impromptu
addresses. He has been a fond lover of good literature,
and abounds in general knowledge. His judgment has
always been cautious and safe, his zeal steady and effective,
his attachment to the doctrines and economy of Methodism
unwavering amid many calls and temptations to more
comfortable stations in other communions. Without am-
bition or pretension, he attained to a rare popularity as a



THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE. 369

preacher in the days of his vigour. He has accomplished
distinguished service in the Church, and is endeared to it,
in most of New-England, by precious recollections.

Near Mr. Kibby, at the head of the pew in front of him,
sits ISAAC BONNET, another of the veterans still remain-
ing among his brethren, though unable to share their
labours. Shaken by more than threescore and ten years,
and nearly half a century of itinerant life, he has retired
into the superannuate ranks, where, however, he is not
forgotten, but enjoys not only the respect, but the love of
his many friends.

He has been distinguished by modest worth, a pure
exemplariness of life, an indisposition to accept the prefer-
ments of honour or place among his brethren, a sound but
unpretending piety, a discriminating judgment, good pulpit
ability, and success in his labours. Isaac Bonney is, in
fine, one of those modest but genuine men, who are prized
immeasurably more by discerning minds among their
friends than they are by themselves, and whose associates
learn to value them higher as they know them better.
He is an example of our primitive ministry which the
future historian of Methodism will commemorate with
pleasure.

Not far oif EDWARD T. TAYLOR stands, with folded arms,
in the aisle. He is noted through the country as an
original, both in character and talents an orator, sui
generis a wit overflowing with humour a man of strong
sense, of deep pathos, of the freshest poetic thought a
powerful preacher a gentleman, even to gracefulness, in
manners a murderer of the queen's English, and, best
known as " the mariner's preacher of Boston."

Immediately behind Mr. Taylor sits DAVID KILBURN.



THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND CONFEKENCE.

He has seen about threescore years and ten, and has spent
nearly half a century in the ministerial work in almost all
the New-England States. His preaching has been accom-
panied with good sense and the unction from above. His
frame is large, his head well developed, his features full
and benevolent, and many are the seals to his ministry.

Such are a few, and only a few, of the men of note who
belonged to the old New-England Conference before its
division into its present half-dozen sections. They and
their coadjutors had the hardest field of Methodism in the
nation ; they have made it the best, in the estimation of
many, and all will admit it to be, at least, among the best.
The growth of the Church within the Eastern States has not
only been great, numerically and morally, but in all those
material provisions which give security and permanence to
a denomination in good and well-located chapels, literary
institutions, &c. it is probably before any other portion
of our common cause. One honour, at least, will be con-
ceded it ; it has had greater difficulties to overcome than
any other portion of the denomination, and has fully con-
quered them. Its success is a common honour to us all.



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