Joseph C. (Joseph Cammet) Lovejoy.

Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 online

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^ Men forget, hut all sliall not be forgotten.^
"• There is a fire that burns on earth,

A pure and holy flame ;
It came to men from heavenly birth,

And still it is the same,
As when it burned the chords along
That bore the first born seraph's song —
Sweet as the hymn of gratitude
That swelled to heaven when ' all was good,'
No passion in the choirs above
Is purer than a mother's love !

My Mother ! how that name endears.
Through Memory's griefs and Sorrow's tears !
I see thee now as I have seen

With thy young boy beside thee —
Thou didst not know, nor couldst thou deem

The ills that would betide me ;
For sorrow then had dimmed that eye
Which beamed with only ecstacy I


Ah ! life was then a joyous thing-,
And time bore pleasure on its wing-.
How buoyant did the minutes move,
For I was hope and thou wert love.
Beneath thy smiles I closed the day
And met them at the morning ray ;
My infant heart was full of glee
And every chord struck harmony.
And often as there would betide
Some little griefs my heart to gall,
I bore them to my mother's side,
And one kind kiss dispelled them all.

And I have knelt with thee — when none

Were near but thou and I —
In trembling awe before the throne

Of Mercy in the sky ;
And when thy melted heart was poured
Before the Being thou adored ;
How holy was that prayer of thine.
Fit offering for a heavenly^ shrine —
Not for thyself a wish — not one —
But smile upon, Lord, bless my son !
And I have risen and g-one my way.

And seemed to have forgot ;
Yet oft my wandering thoughts would stray

Back to that hallowed spot —
While feelings new and undefined.
Would crowd upon my labouring mind.

O days of innocence and peace !
O ill exchanged for manhood's years !
When mirth that sprang from youthful bliss,
Is drowned beneath misfortune's tears.
My heart has since been sadly worn.
While wave on wave has o'er it borne ;
And feelings once all fresh and green.
Are now as though they ne'er had been.


And Hope that bright and buoyant thing",
E'en hope has lent despair its wing ;
And sits despoiled within my breast,
A timid, torturing, trembling guest !
I dare not look upon the past,
I care not for the future cast.
Yet o'er this darkness of the soul

There comes one cheering beam
Pure, warm, and bright, of rapture full

As angel visits seem —
A Mother's love, a Mother's care. —
My aching heart, there's comfort there !

It is as if a lovely rose
Should bloom amid the icy waste ;

For while the heart's hfe-streams are froze,
Its fragrance o'er it still is cast.

Weary and worn my bed I've shared

With sickness and with pain.
Nor one of aU that saw me, cared

If e'er I rose again —
Heedless and quick they past along.
With noisy mirth and ribald song.
And not a hand outstretched to give
A cordial that should bid me live.
And woman, too, that nurse of ease,
Made up of love and sympathies.
Ay, woman, she — she passed me by,
With cold, averted, careless eye ;
Nor deigned to ask, nor seemed to care
If death and I were struggling there !
Ah ! then I've thought Q.nd felt it too —
My Mother is not such as you !
How would she sit beside my bed,
And pillow up my aching head.
And then, in accents true as mild,
« Would I were suffering for thee, child I'
And try to soothe my griefs away,


And look e'en more than she could say ;
And press her cheek to mine, nor fear
Though plague or fever wantoned there ;
And watch through weary nights and lone,
Nor deem fatigue could be her own.
And if, perchance, I slept, the last
I saw, her eyes, were on me cast ;
And when I woke, 'twould be to meet
The same kind anxious glance, so sweet.
And so endearing that it seemed
As from a seraph's eye it beamed.

My Mother ! I am far away

From home, and love, and thee :
And stranger hands may heap the clay

That soon may cover me ;
Yet we shall meet — perhaps not here —
But in yon shining, azure sphere :
And if there's aught assures me more,

Ere yet my spirit fly.
That Heaven has mercy still in store,

For such a wretch as I,
'Tis that a heart so good as thine,
Must bleed — must burst along with mine

And life is short, at best, and Time

Must soon prepare the tomb ;
And there is sure a happier clime,

Beyond this world of gloom —
And should it be my happy lot —
After a life of care and pain.
In sadness spent, or spent in vain —
To go where sighs and sin are not ;
'Twili make the half my heaven to be,
My Mother, evermore with thee !"

In the course of the next year he engaged in editing
and publishing a political paper advocating, the claims of

38 MEMOIR ar the

Henry Clay to the presidency. His prospects of poKti
cal elevation were more and more flattering, until Janu
ary, 1832 ; when on account of a change in his religious
feelings, Lis future life took an entirely new direction.
Of the commencement and progress of that change, he
speaks in the two letters here inserted.

St. Louis, January 24:th, 1832.
My dear and honoured Parents :

Forgive your undutiful son that he has so long
neglected writing to you. I hardly know what excuse
to make, and I well know there can be none suffi-
cient. I hope you have received the " Times" regularly ;
this will have kept you informed of my existence, and
also of the nature of my employment. I have usually
enjoyed good health — much better than I anticipated.
Poor brother Daniel ! he is gone, and, as I trust, to a
better world. If so, his departure affords no cause of
lamentation. Your letter containing the information of
his death was safely received.

My dear Father and Mother, amidst all my wanderings,

" In all my griefs, and God has given my share,"

I have never forgotten — it has been the chief source of my
consolation, that day and night you have been interceding
for me at a Throne of Grace. I have never, for a mo-
ment, doubted that paternal affection ceased not to plead
for mercy upon the wayward and far distant son. I knew
that that love was yours, which neither time nor distance
could weaken, and think you, that I should forget the
many earnest and agonizing petitions which I have
heard ascending from the family altar. Oh, never ! I will
tell you all. Last spring there was a partial revival of reli-
gion in this city. I became somewhat seriously impressed,


I may say considerably so. I attended the inquiry meet-
ings, and for some time really felt a delight in religious
exercises. But gradually these feelings all left me, and
I returned to the world a more hardened sinner than
ever. At this time the spirit of God is manifesting itself
in our city in a most wonderful manner. Its effects are
such as I have never before witnessed. Meetings are
held almost every evening, at which individuals of all
ages and characters attend, and where the power of
God to salvation is manifested, so that the blindest must
see and the hardest feel. I have reason to hope that
the good spirit has again visited me, inviting me to for-
sake the world and come to Jesus. I own that I hardly
dare admit such a belief, it seems to me scarcely possible
that one who has so long lived in sin, who has resisted
so much light, and has so often grieved away the Holy
Spirit, as I have, should be again visited with its heavenly
influences. But I hope it is so.

And now, my dear and honoured Father and Mother,
will you not pray for me— if possible, with more earnest-
ness than you have ever yet done ? Will you not plead
for me the provisions of that covenant into which I have
been baptized ? Oh, if you knew what value I place
upon your prayers, if you knew what your first-born
son would give to be at this moment, kneeling between
you, before the altar of mercy, while you made supplica-
tion for him to the Giver of life and death. I am sure
you would pray — pray earnestly — pray unceasingly, that
the lonff-lost wanderer might be restored to the fold from
which he hath strayed. Oh, forget all my ingratitude,
my unthankfulness, and the innumerable instances of my
undutiful conduct, and think only of the repentant son,
who intreats, who implores your prayers, that he may
not perish eternally. Oh, could I this night fall down


at your feet, and ask your forgiveness and beg your
blessing ; I should feel that there might yet be hope
even for me, vile, sinful, and disobedient as I have been,
both to Heaven and to you. But you will not remember
aught against me, I know you will not, I know that I
have your forgiveness ere I asked it. But will God forgive
me, against whom my sins have been infinitely more
numerous and aggravated? Can I hope for pardon from
Him — I, who have done despite to the covenant of grace,
and have so long counted the blood of the covenant an
unholy thing?

My Father and my Mother, my dear, dear parents, let
me remind you of the obligations you assumed, when you
consecrated me to God in my infancy. By the vows
you then made, by the gratitude you felt that God had
given you a man-child, by your love for Him who has re-
deemed you, by your sense of the worth of an immortal
soul, let me adjure you to pray for me, — me, the chief of
sinners, — me, whom, perhaps, you will never see more
till we meet at the bar of God in judgment.

I request, my dear parents, that you will call the fa-
mily together, read them this letter, and then unite in
prayer for him, a son and brother who dwells among
strangers in a strange land. Adieu, my dear and ho-
noured parents, and may Heaven bless you for all your
kindness to

Your unthankful but still dutiful son,


St. Louis, February 22, 1832.
My dear and honoured Parents,

After reading this letter, you will, I think, be
ready to exclaim with me, " God's ways are not our
ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts." When this


letter reaches you, I shall, if God spares my life and
health, be on my way to Princeton, in New Jersey, for
the purpose of entering upon my studies preparatory to
the work of the ministry. I wrote you, four weeks since
last Tuesday, and, as you will have learned from that
letter, was then in a state of deep distress. Sorrow had
taken hold upon me, and a sense of my long career in
sin and rebellion against God, lay heavy upon my soul.
But it pleased God, and blessed be his holy name, to
grant me, as I humbly hope, that very night, joy and
peace in believing. I was, by divine grace, enabled to
bring all my sins and all my sorrows, and lay them at
the feet of Jesus, and to receive the blessed assurance
that He had accepted me, all sinful and polluted as I

My dear parents, I can see you now, after having
read thus far, shedding tears of joy over the return of
your prodigal son ; but oh ! forget not to return thanks
to that God of the promises, who, as I humbly hope, has
at length heard your prayers in behalf of one, for whom,
at times, you were ready to say there remaineth no
longer any hope.. And surely, you may well join with
me in saying, that nothing but a miracle of sovereign
mercy could have arrested and saved me, from eternal
perdition. How I could have so long resisted the en-
treaties, the prayers, and the tears of my dear parents,
and the influences of the Holy Spirit, is, to me, a wonder
entirely incomprehensible ; and still greater is my asto-
nishment, and my admiration, that God has still borne
with me, still continued unto me the influences of his
spirit, and at last brought me to submit myself to Him.
I think I can now have some faint conceptions of bound-
less, infinite mercy. I look back upon my past life, and
am lost in utter amazement at the perfect folly, and mad-


ness of my conduct. Why, my dear parents, it is the
easiest thing in the world to become a Christian — ten
thousand times easier than it is to hold out unrepenting
against the motives which God presents to the mind, to
induce it to forsake its evil thoughts and turn unto Him.
If I could forget what I have been and what I have done,
I should certainly say it was impossible that any one
could read of a Saviour, and not love him with their
whole heart. The eternal God— the infinite Jehovah-
has done all he could do — even to the sacrificing his own
gon — to provide a way for man's happiness, and yet
they reject him, hate him, and laugh him to scorn ! How
God could suffer me to live so long as I have lived, is
more than I can understand. Well may He call upon
the heavens to be astonished both at His own forbear-
ance, and the unnatural rebellion of his creatures. Do
Christians ever feel oppressed, as it were, wiih. the debt
of gratitude which they owe to their Redeemer. Why,
it seems to me, sometimes, as if I could not bear up under
the weight of my obligations to God in Christ, as if they
would press me to the very earth. And I am only re-
lieved by the reflection that I have an eternity in which
I may praise and magnify the riches of his grace.

And now, my dear and honoured parents, how shall I
express my sense of the gratitude I owe to you — how
shall I ask pardon for all the undutiful conduct, of which
I have been guilty towards you ? I want words to do
either ; but I can pray to God to forgive me, and to re-
ward you, and this I do daily. Oh, how much do I owe
you for your kindness to me in every thing, but chiefly
for the religious instruction you bestowed upon me from
my earliest youth ; for your afl"ectionate warnings and
continued entreaties that I would attend to the welfare of
my own soul ; and for your prayers, without ceasing, to


God that he would have mercy upon me, while I had no
mercy on myself. For all these may Heaven return
upon your own heads, a seven-fold blessing.

I made a public profession of religion, and joined the
church in this city, on the sabbath before the last, the
12th of the present month. With me joined also thirty-
five others by profession, and four by letter. There are,
probably, as many more prepared to join as soon as the
next communion shall arrive. You will see by these
facts that an unusual attention to religion exists in this
place. God is doing wonders here. The revival still
continues, and day after to-morrow will commence a four
days' meeting. How long this state of things will con-
tinue is known only to God ; but we know that he can
work, and none can hinder.

After much prayer and consultation with my pastor,
the Rev. William S. Potts, and other Christian friends, I
have felt it my duty to turn my immediate attention to
the work of the ministry, and shall on the first of the
week start for Princeton, with a view of entering upon
the necessary studies. If God shall spare my hitherto
im profitable life, I hope to be enabled to spend the re-
mainder of it in some measure, to his glory. Time now
with me is precious, and every day seems an age, till I
can be at work in the vineyard of the Lord. Oh, my
dear parents, are not the ways of Providence inscruta-
ble. How long and how often did you pray that your
first-born son might succeed his father in preaching the
gospel, and after you had doubtless given over all such
hopes, then the Lord displays his power in calling in
the wanderer.

I hope to see you in the course of the summer face to
face ; for if practicable, and within the reach of my
means, I shall take time enough in a vacation to make a


visit to my dear loved home. Oh, how I long to em-
brace my parents, and brothers, and sisters, and tell
them what God has done for me. But I feel that I
ought to say, and I trust He will enable them to say,
" His will be done." Surely after all his goodness unto
us, we should no longer indulge in one murmuring

Brother Owen and brother John, you are now the
only members of the family who have not professed to
hope in Christ — to have made your peace with God.
Oh, let me entreat you, beseech you, not to put it off a
moment longer. Tempt not God, as 1 have done. Think
of poor brother Daniel, and make your peace with a
Saviour before you sleep, after reading this.
Your dutiful and grateful son,


It may be easily imagined that the above letters gave
great joy to his parents and friends. The following is
the joint reply of father and mother.

Albion, March 19, 1832.
My dear first-born, and long absent Son,

You perhaps may better conceive, than I can
express the sensations your two last letters have excited
in my mind. Your first, found me in a state of deep
mental debility, to which as you know I have always
been more or less subject. But I am now better — to
which your letter has contributed much. There is no
other way, in which you could have given us so much
joy, as you have done in the full account of your conver-
sion, and of the intended change of your pursuits. It is
just what we could have wished, had it been left to us to
dictate in every particular. Let all the praise and glory


be given to God through Jesus Christ, I am glad you
have made haste to keep His commandments. You gave
us much more credit than we think we deserve. Our
faith has been wavering, and our desires far less ardent
than they should have been. Our attachment to the
blessed covenant has not been in proportion to its value ;
yet no day has passed when you have been forgotten at
the throne of grace ; and the blessed promises of the
covenant have tended more than any thing else to keep
alive my hope.

Your last letter produced sensations not unlike those,
which I presume Jacob felt, when he saw the wagons
sent from Egypt by his long-absent son. Do not think
of deferring your visit a moment longer than is abso-
lutely necessary. Returning from Washington, I found
your letter upon a generous sheet — I read and read it,
and then we sang the 101st hymn, first book. We then
bowed and gave thanks to the God of heaven, who hath
mercy on whom he will have mercy. Thanks to his
name that he has brought our dear son to the arms of the
Saviour, and rescued him from the wrath to come. Oh,
blessed be the Lord God of Abraham, and let all flesh
bless his holy name. You can but know that you are
greatly beloved by all the family, and no one could dif-
fuse more happiness among us. Your mother wishes to
fill the remainder.

As ever, your affectionate father,


My dear Son,

I wrote you in answer to yours of January
22d, giving you an account of our health and circum-
stances. I cannot say that the contents of your last let-
ter were more than I expected ; for I did really believe


that God had given you a broken and contrite heart ;
and that is where the Holy Spirit delights to dwell.
Neither can I say it is more than I have asked. It is
just what I have prayed for, as I have thought, with all
my heart. But I can say it is more than I deserved.
But God is a sovereign ; He does not deal with us ac-
cording to our deserts, nor reward us according to our
iniquities. For as far as the heavens are above the earth,
so far are his thoughts above our thoughts.

The death of your dear brother Daniel, was a dark
and mysterious providence. It almost overwhelmed me
with gloom and despondency ; and I thought it could
never be explained to me, till I arrived at the heavenly
world. But I think I can now see why it must be so.
I was not sufficiently humble, nor prepared to receive the
blessings, which God had in store for me. Oh, that the
blessed God would keep me at his feet in the very dust
before Him. I never had so clear a view of the evil na-
ture of sin, and of the glorious plan of salvation by Jesus
Christ, as I have had since the death of my dear child.
God has made me feel that it is an evil and bitter thing
to sin against Him — that his ways are equal. And now
my dear child, I hope you will follow on to know the
Lord, that you may find your going forth prepared as the
morning — that His spirit may come unto you as the rain,
as the latter and the former rain unto the earth.
So prays your rejoicing.

Affectionate, mother.



The following letters were written soon after arriving
at Princeton.

Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. /.. April 2d, 1832.
My dear and honoured Parents,

Through the great and most undeserved good-
ness of God unto me, I arrived here on the 24th ult. in
good health, and on the same day was admitted as a mem-
ber of this institution. And so I am here preparing to
become a minister of the everlasting gospel ! When I
review my past life, I am astonished and confounded,
and hardly know which most to wonder at, my own stu-
pidity, and blindness, and guilt, or the long- suffering and
compassion of God. That He should have blessed me
with such opportunities of becoming acquainted with His
holy word — should have given me parents who, in the
arms of their faith, dedicated me to Him, according to
His gracious covenant, and who early, and constantly,
and faithfully, and with many tears, warned and entreated
me to embrace the off'ers of salvation, through Jesus
Christ; and notwithstanding all this, when He saw me
hardening my heart, resisting the prayers of my parents
and -friends, grieving His holy spirit, and counting the
blood of the covenant into which I had been baptized an
unholy thing, that He should have still borne Avith me,
should have suffered me to live, and at last given me
reason to hope that I have by his grace been enabled to


return to my Father's house, all this seems to me a mira-
cle of goodness, such as a God alone could perform, and
far too wonderful for me to comprehend. I can only
bow down my head and adore. How often do I ask
myself, why have I been thus favored ? why was I made
to hear the invitation of the Blessed Spirit ? " Return unto
the Lord, and he will have mercy on you." Oh, here is
love and wisdom united in a degree beyond our highest
conceptions. I think I said in my last, that no part of
the revealed will of God appeared more precious to me,
than that which reveals to man the gracious covenant
which Jesus Christ made with Abraham, and to fulfil the
stipulations of which on His part, in process of time he
came into the world, expiated our sins in his own body
on the tree. The more I reflect upon the subject, the
more reason do I see for thankfulness and gratitude to
God, for his condescension in entering into such a cove-
nant, and for his sovereign mercy in giving me parents
who acknowledged its obligations, and in the arms of
faith brought me before His altar, and consecrated me to
God. I think I can see plainly that the Holy Spirit has
made this a means of keeping the truth before my mind,
when to every thing else I was insensible. Oh, my dear
parents, join with me in adoring and magnifying the name
of the Lord God of our salvation.

Your affectionate son,


Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J., April 2ith, 1832.


Your letter gave me both pleasure and pain. I
was very glad to hear from you, directly, to see your
hand-writing, but it grieved me much to hear of the state
of our dear father's health. It is the more distressing to


me, that it is altogether unexpected. I had thought that
he had, at last, succeeded in banishing from his mind
those fits of morbid melancholy which so entirely unman
whomsoever they take possession of. Too well, do I
know, by experience, that there is no remedy for a state
of mind like this ; none, at least, to be found on earth —
neither my staying away or coming home, will have the
least effect. But there is One who can minister to a
mind diseased — One in whose hand are all the issues of
life and death. How strange, then, my dear sister, that
I, who had so often seen and so deeply felt the insuffi-
ciency of all created help, should so long have neglected
not only my duty but my highest privilege, of applying to
that great Physician ! How depraved must be that un-
derstanding, and how perverted that intellect, which thus
knows its disease, yet seeks not, nay, refuses to be
healed. I hope I shall never again be at a loss for a
source of consolation, let what may betide. I am sure I
ought not to be, but I have great reason to tremble lest
Satan and my own wicked heart get the better of me. It
is no easy matter to fight such enemies as these, but with
Christ strengthening me, I know I shall come off more
than conqueror.

Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 3 of 28)