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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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 7 of 28)
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us, and whenever apparent difficulties in the Purposes
and Providences of God, meet us as we journey towards
our heavenly home, let us contentedly, and even cheer-
fully, say :

' God is liis own interpreter,
And He can make it plain.' "


August 28, 1834.

*' It was a beautiful thought of the Greek philosopher,
when he compared the life of man to a bubble. Along
the stormy ocean of life the different generations of men
arise like bubbles on a stream — at best a tear-drop in-
flated with air. Some of these bubbles sink at once into
the mass of waters whence they came ; others float up
and down for a turn or two upon the tops of the restless
weaves, and also disappear ; and even those which re-
main the longest are in perpetual agitation and restless-
ness, the sport of every breeze and every tide, until they
too are swallowed up.

It is even so with man. Some are born only that they
may die— hke the bubble blown up and destroyed by the
same breath of air. Some abide a little longer, to bear
the peltings of the storm, but their fragile forms are soon
broken by the violence of the tempest. And those that


endure for a season, what are their lives but one con-
tinued scene of disquietude, disappointment and doubt ;
while like the bubble tossed upon the unquiet waters,
they find no resting place for a moment, until they sink
back into the earth from whence they were taken.

The Bible abounds with the most impressive figures
to teach us the vanity of human life. ' For what is your
life ?' says James, ' It is even a vapor that appeareth
for a little time and then vanisheth away.' ' We spend
our years,' says Moses, ' as a tale that is told.' ' Be-
hold,' says the plaintive David, ' behold, thou hast made
my days as an handbreadth, and mine age is as nothing
before thee ; verily every man at his best state is alto-
gether vanity.'

Can any thing be more affecting than this ? It is the
language of a king—of one who had passed through
many vicissitudes in life, having ascended from the oc-
cupation of a shepherd, to the station of king over all
Israel. He had reached the summit, the world had no-
thing more to give ; yet looking back upon the past, and
round upon the present scenes of his life, he sighs at the
reflection, which is forced upon his mind, that they are
' altogether vanity.' Alas ! the man has never lived,
whether king or peasant, whose breast has not been
heaved by the same sigh, whose heart has not been sad-
dened by the same reflection.

The causes that conspire to make the life of man on
earth a ' vanity,' and even a vexation of spirit are many.

1. He is a stranger here — he is not at home. His
company, the scenes around him, every thing he sees,
all he hears, are not adapted to his tastes, not fitted for
his capacities. Like the caged bird his food is insipid,
his vision confined, and he cannot choose but pine in his
solitude, as he thinks of the purer light, the brighter


scenes, and the boundless glory, among which he wouh
fain, with unfettered wing, expatiate. But he is bounc
to earth ; clogged with clay ; and he who is fitted to soar
and sing in the heavens, must grovel in the dust. And
here feeding on ashes, he lives among the dead till Time
can dig his grave also, into which he creeps and is seen
no more.

2. The vicissitudes of life are nothing but a series of
disappointments. Whether for good or for ill, none of
all our ten thousand cherished plans have succeeded ex-
actly to our wish. The catastrophe came too soon or
too late ; the scheme failed altogether, or its result was
different from what we desired or expected. And if no
present evils press upon us, we are distressed with the
apprehensions of future, or disquieted with the remem-
brance of past misfortunes ; and at best our hopes do
but struggle with our fears, while we are left desolate.
We are always either troubled or dissatisfied ; and if no-
thing else makes us uneasy, even the very absence of our
accustomed tormentors will make us so. And herein ap-
pears the vanity of our state, that nothing restrains us
from the madness and rioting of prosperity, but that every
cup we put to our lips, is dashed with the bitterness of
gall. Thus it has been well said of man that ' he is
always restless and uneasy, he dwells upon the waters,
and leans upon thorns, and lays his head upon a sharp

And what does the experience of every man but echo
back the declaration of the prophet, ' Cursed be the man
that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm V He
who does it leans upon a cracked reed that sooner or
later will break beneath him, Nisus and Euryalus, Py-
lades and Orestes may live in fable and in song, but they


have never lived any where else. For so certain as
winter succeeds summer, so true is it that

' The friends who in our sunshine live,

In wintry days are flown ;
And he who has but tears to give,

Must weep those tears alone.'

This is poetry, it is true ; but it is not fiction, as many a
deserted heart, many a desolate bosom can witness. Like
motes in the sunbeams, friends gather around even to an-
noyance in the days of prosperity, but at the first cloud
that obscures the sky, at the first sound of the distant
thunder they flee away, and leave him upon whom they
had fattened, to bide alone the fury of the storm. Such
is human friendship ; so empty, so valueless.

Whither, then, shall the heart-stricken mourner turn ?
In the desolateness of his misery must he die, as he has
lived, without hope ? No, he need not. As he flees to
the grave, as to a refuge and a rest from ills he can no
longer endure. Religion, heaven descended, meets him
and bids him no further despair. She tells him of One
whose friendship never fails, whose promises are never
broken — of One who * having loved his own loveth them
unto the end.' She points him to a world where ingrati-
tude and selfishness are unknown ; where the tear of an-
guish never flows, the sigh of sorrow is never heaved ;
where no vain regrets, no anxious forebodings, intrude
upon the heart overflowing with joy ; and bids him lie
down and rest in hope, for that world is all his own.
Who, then, would wish to live ? or rather, who would not
wish to die ? Who is not ready to say with Job, ' I would
not live always V Borne down with the weight of sin,
oppressed with a sense of his own un worthiness and the
faithlessness of others, while the whole creation is
groaning around him, being like him, ' made subject to


vanity,' what would the Christian, what can he, but long
to die ? — to close his eyes and shut his ears upon the
scenes and the discords of earth, until he can open them
to the beauties and the melodies of heaven ?"


" We have just been looking through the life of this
great man, by Dr. Brewster. It is exceedingly interest-
ing as detailing the process and the several steps by
which he ascended to the visible heavens, and there
walked with God with the stars beneath his feet. Yet
though he ascended so high, and stood where the hori-
zons of a thousand worlds fell within his vision, though
he looked upward and around into heights and depths,
where the eye of no other mortal, save that of Laplace,
has pierced, he had and expressed the humblest views of
his own powers and acquisitions.

To others, to the great mass of mankind, he seems to
have been borne on the wings of thought, even to the ut-
most verge of Nature's dominions, to have explored with
unerring ken her most secret chambers, and to have un-
covered and brought to the light all those secret springs,
that complicated machinery, by which she enforces and
regulates the movements of systems and suns, with all
their worlds, through the regions of space. And such is
the sentiment of the poet respecting him :

' Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night,
God said, Let Newton be — and all was light.'

But hear his own estimation of all that he had achiev-
ed : — ' I do not know,' said he, ' what I may appear to
the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a
boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now


and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell
than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all un-
discovered before me.' This is undoubtedly the true
estimate, and what a lesson does it teach to the vanity of
man ! If Newton thus humbled himself before the Un-
created Intelligence, because, with all his efforts, he
could learn so little of His ways, what room is left for
others to boast ? This most instructive declaration af-
fords another proof, that the studies of the Book of Na-
ture and of Revelation lead to the same result, though in
different degrees, and that the student of each will, in
reference to their Author, be ready to say, in the words
of the poet,

' The more Thy glories strike my view,
The humbler I shall lie.'

And who, we may ask, in the pride of human strength
and wisdom will venture upon a voyage over that
shadowy Ocean, from which Newton shrank back dis-
mayed ? Or, if the example of this great man will not
deter us, at least let us be warned from the rash enter-
prise by the innumerable wrecks which strew its shore,
of those who have made the attempt and perished. And
yet this Ocean must be passed ere we can be at rest. It
rolls between Time and Eternity, between Earth and
Heaven ; and it is on its outmost shores, far, far beyond
all mortal ken, that the land of promise lies. There,
and there only, are those ' sweet fields' that

' stand drest in living green ;'

there the ' flowery mounts ;' there Jesus, the Forerun-
ner, and the assembly of the saints made perfect ; there
the River of life, and there the Paradise of God.

But let us not be dismayed. It was as a Philosopher


that Newton feared to venture upon its waves, and not
as a Christian. Science could not bear him over in
safety ; but Faith could. While even to the eagle eye
of Science all was unmitigated darkness, Faith with yet
keener vision could pierce the gloom, and, far above the
region of the tempest, could discern the Star of Bethle-
hem shining mildly and tranquilly down, and guiding to
the haven of peace. She, too, and she alone, though the
sea and all the waves thereof roar, could hear the voice
of Him who walked upon the waters, saying, ' It is I ;
be not afraid.' With such a guide the Christian embark-
ed in confidence, and, we cannot doubt, landed in safety.

And this, after all, was the true glory of Newton. For
while he questioned Nature with high and daring resolve,
and compelled her to disclose her most hidden secrets,
he never questioned Nature's God. All the paths by
which he walked through her labyrinths terminated in a
Great First Cause, and beyond that he would not move a
step. Beyond that he knew and felt was a region of
' emptiness" and ' nothingness' where he could not
stand, with ' darkness upon the face of the deep' which
the Omniscient Eye alone could pierce. Hence to his
own mind, his profoundest researches served but to con-
firm the truth revealed from heaven, — * In the beginning
God created the heaven and the earth.' And thus it was
that his highest flights carried him no higher than to the
feet of Jesus, where he sat down to learn the simple yet
sublime doctrines of the gospel, with all the docility and
single-heartedness of a child.

The whole history of human learning and sci-
ence affords nothing so affectingly instructive in this
respect, as the example of Newton. Not that he is the
only instance where profound attainments have been
made subservient to the cause of divine truth. Far from


it. By much the greater number of those names, which
in modern days have ilhistrated the circle of the sciences,
are found enrolled among the humble followers of the
Lamb, But as of all these names Newton's is the most
illustrious, so perhaps was his humility the most sincere
and unfeigned."

The Editor of the Observer frequently rode into the
country around St. Louis, preaching and attending meet-
ings of the Synod and Presbytery, as also, meetings for
various benevolent objects. A sabbath spent at Apple
Creek is thus described.

Apple Creek, May 22d, 1835.
" The church at Apple Creek, with the exception of
the First church in your city, is the largest in the State.
Thenumber of members returned to the General Assem-
bly of 1834, was 206. I forgot to enquire the present
number. The congregation also, worshipping with this
church is, I judge, much more numerous, than any other
out of St, Louis. Indeed, from what I saw, I should
think it would come but little short, in point of numbers, to
the first society in that city. To see the congregation
assemble, reminded me of the descriptions I have often
read, of the gathering of the Highland clans at the
muster call of their leaders. An unpractised eye could
discern not the least sign that would betoken the vicinage
of human beings. But at the first sound of the bugle,
every brake, and hollow, the shieling of every hill, would
pour forth its tide of living beings to swell the number of
the gathering multitude. Even so it was here. The
meeting-house stands deeply embowered in the woods,
which shut the prospect in on every side. Arriving
there, a short time before the hour of worship, a person


accustomed to live in cities, would conclude that few-
would be there to disturb his solitary meditations ; but
as the appointed hour approaches, an unexpected change
passes over the scene. As if by magic, it becomes at
once animated with the presence of living beings.
From every quarter, and almost from behind every tree,
the hardy yeomanry of the country come pouring in, ac-
companied by their wives, children, and sweethearts.
Generally they come on horseback, the young men glory-
ing in their horsemanship, as they caricole from side to
side of the narrow pathway, to remove the overhanging
limbs and grape vines, lest they annoy the damsels who
are riding at their elbows, while the man of middle
age, sobered by matrimony, comes jogging up, with his
wife behind, and his child before him, on the same ani-
mal. I envy not the man his feelings, who can look upon
such unsophisticated examples of domestic happiness
and youthful hopes, and not find his heart pervaded with
sympathizing gladness. These are the sober enjoyments
of every day life, which a benevolent God gives to
every one who has not wealdy or wickedly thrown them

Entering the house of God, you look round upon a most
interesting assembly. Nearly all but the younger part,
have been gathered from distant regions ; they have
come to die in a land unknown to their fathers, but not
so to their fathers' God. Him they still worship, as
they worshipped him, in the hours of their infancy —
theirs is the same Redeemer, the same promises, the
same gospel, and theirs, too, the same assurance of im-
mortality. Here, close by the pulpit, is an aged pilgrim.
He has travelled seven hundred miles ' leaning upon the
top of his staff ' but his journies are now over, save the
last one that all must take, and from which none return.


His head is like the almond tree, and he goes bowed down
alway ; but he cannot fall, for a Saviour's arm upholds
him. Let him go in peace ; let no one seek to detain him,
when his Redeemer calls him to his presence, that He
may clothe that mortal with immortality.

Yonder sits a man of middle age, with his family
around him, his beloved and affectionate partner and his
children, the youngest now verging upon manhood and
womanhood. His was a covenant, and, in his case, well
has he shown himself, a covenant-keeping, God. Dedi-
cated himself in infancy, to the God of Abraham, wath a
heart overflowing with gratitude for the privilege, as God
gave him children, from time to time, he presented them
in the arms of faith before the altar, that the name of
Israel's God might be named upon them, and they too
be embraced in the provisions of the same gracious and
ever-abiding covenant. He brought them up in ' the
nurture and admonition of the Lord,' and now God
has given them all to him again, in a second birth. The
world calls these children poor, and this family obscure.
But is it so 1 Children of the covenant, the Spirit has now
sealed them as heirs of God's eternal kingdom — trace
their course a few years onward, and they are seen
shining in that kingdom, higher and brighter than the
stars forever and ever. If this be poverty and obscuri-
ty, then what are this world's riches and splendor ?

There is a young woman — no father or mother has she
to whom she may look for counsel and instruction, no
sister into whose sympathizing bosom she might pour
her joys and sorrows, no brother on whom to lean for
that support, which none but a brother can give. And
yet she is not alone. Daily she communes with her Sa-
viour, and through him, with heaven and all its delights.
On him she leans, from him she receives counsel and


instruction, while in obedience to his commands she seeks
to fulfill as an ' hireling her day,' that when it is over,
she may go to rest in His bosom forever.

Such are some of the varieties of character to be met
with in a congregation in Missouri. Alas ! it is to be
feared there are others of a diffirent type. There may
be the hoary head, with all its sins resting unforgiven
upon it — there may be the apostate from the church and
the altar of God, there a young man, who has broken
away from the restraints of a pious home, to commence a
career of vice and profligacy : and there another, who
has renounced the God of his fathers, and having him-
self become the head of a family, is founding a new dy-
nasty of rebels. Better had that man never been born !
I rejoice to say, that I saw no indications of any such in
the congregation at Apple Creek. The assembly was
universally and uniformly attentive and devout."


In this chapter several articles upon Romanism are
introduced, which exhibit the arguments and the spirit,
with which the Editor of the Observer combated the de-
lusions, errors, and wickedness of the " Infallible


" There is one plain argument against this doctrine,
which can never be set aside :

1. We are required to believe that the consecrated
bread and wine are really the flesh and blood of the
Lord Jesus Christ, because the Bible says, or rather the
Saviour speaking in the Bible, ' This,' (that is, the bread,)
'is my body,' and ' This,' (that is, the wine,) 'is my
blood.' Now supposing I ask how am I to know that
the Bible says any such thing ? The priest opens the
book, and shows me the very words, ' This is my body.'
But now I ask to see the bread and the wine thus meta-
morphosed. The priest gives me the wafer, I taste it, it
tastes like bread ; I smell it, it smells like bread, I handle
it, it feels like bread. And so of the wine.

2. I therefore turn to the priest, and say here are three
senses to one, in favour of these elements being bread and
wine still ; I am therefore bound to believe them so. I
cannot^ from the very laws of my being, belie v^e one
sense in preference to three. I am, therefore, bound to


seek some other fair interpretation of the words * This is
my body,' than the one you have given them, or else re-
ject them aUogether. And here I need be at no loss.
Turning to John x. 9, I find Jesus saying, ' I am the
door;' and in John xv. 1, he says * I am the true vine,'
yet you do not pretend to make the Saviour literally say,
that he was a door or a vine. Or if he had, when speak-
ing to his disciples, intended to be understood literally,
and they had so understood his meaning, they could not
have believed him. They heard him say so, but they
smelled, saw, and felt that he was not so ; and conse-
quently must distrust their own hearing, or his veracity.
And the case would be the same when sitting with him
at the supper of the passover. If he declared to them
that they were eating and drinking flesh and blood, they
could only know that he did so by the sense of hearing,
whereas by three senses, taste, touch, and smell, they
would be assured they were doing no such thing. Ac-
cording to the very laws of the human mind, therefore,
they could not so understand him.

3. The only remark we have to make upon this argu-
ment, is, that no man, in his senses, ever believed fully
and fairly, the doctrine of transubstantiation. It is im-
possible that he should do so. He might as well believe
that fire is cold and ice is hot, or that a thing is and is
not at the same time. Let us not be misunderstood ;
there have, doubtless, been many men who honestly
thought they believed it ; but owing to the prejudice of
education, their minds, in this point, was dark, and saw
things that were not as though they were. So often do
we see individuals afflicted with mental imbecility on
some particular subject, but perfectly sane on every other.
In this way we can account for the fact that many good
men have unquestionably supposed they believed the doc-

REV. E. P. LOVE joy: 105

trine of transubstantiation ; a dogma which, if true, makes,
as has been well said, every other truth a he."


" That these institutions should ever have acquired
any favour in a community so shrewd, sagacious, and
suspicious as the American people are, is truly a wonder.
And that they should have succeeded in obtaining in-
mates from the families of Protestants and even members
of the Church, is still more astonishing. It is to be ac-
counted for on no common principle of human action.
In this, as in other things, Romanism has shown itself a
' mystery of iniquity.'

What is a Nunnery ? Have the American people
ever asked themselves this question ? And if so, have
they ever reflected long enough upon it to obtain an an-
swer satisfactory to their own minds 1 What is a Nun-
nery, we ask again ? We will tell. It is a dwelling
whose inmates consist of unmarried females, of all ages,
tempers, dispositions, and habits. These females have
entered into voluntary vows of chastity, poverty, and obe-
dience to the rules of their order and their spiritual supe-
riors. They have been induced to take these vows and
exclude themselves from the world, from various motives.
Some whose affections were young and ardent, from disap-
pointment of the heart ; some from love of retirement ;
some from morbid sensitiveness to the world of society,
and some others, from the blandishments of Priests and
Lady Superiors. In Europe there is another cause —
operating more than any other, perhaps than all others —
which peoples the Convents. Unfeeling parents make
them the receptacle of those daughters, who may be in
the way of the aggrandizement of other members of the


family, or who may be disposed to contract an alliance
which, they will not approve. This, too, is probably a
remote cause of many entering convents in this country.

Very well ; now let us take a Convent, whose inmates
have been brought together from causes like the above.
There are the aged, the middle aged, the young, the ar-
dent, the beautiful. Thus much concerning them we all

But one of these communities issues, through their
Superior, to the community in which it is situated, pro-
posals for taking young ladies as inmates in their dwell-
ing, and educating them there. This is all well enough.
But now suppose a Protestant parent, before committing
his daughters to their guardiansliip, visits the Convent to
learn something of its character. He finds it situated in
a retired place, surrounded with a high wall, embosomed
in luxurious groves. All the charms of nature and art
are combined to render its retreat inviting, and its bowers
alluring. Into one only room can the visitant have ac-
cess. Labyrinthian passages, in various directions, lead
to apartments never to be profaned by a Protestant eye .
All here is seclusion and mystery. These doors are
locked ; and neither parent, brother, friend, nor even
sister, can turn the key. Yet to this rigid exclusion there
is one exception. The Catholic Priest is privileged to
come at all hours, and on all occasions as may suit his
convenience. He has the ' open sesame,' before which
the door of every department flies open, and admits him

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 7 of 28)