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During the preparation of this article, we had heard, from week to week, of the failing strength and gradual passing away of the thorough scholar, the discriminating thinker, the able and accomplished writer, whose work on this subject, prepared with such scrupulous exactness and such an infinite patience of labor in uninviting fields of ancient and modern learning, must always hold its place as a monument of enlightened industry and thought. As its author foresaw from the beginning, it can never be extensively popular. It is so nice in its distinctions, so severe in its logic, so precise in its statements of fact and its reasonings upon them, that it can never be read understandingly, without the closest attention kept up through every part; and those who read in this way will always be few. It never appeals to popular feelings. It crosses the prejudices of the learned and unlearned, of believers and unbelievers, as calmly as if they had no existence. Hence, in widely different quarters, insinuations of narrowness and bigotry, or of infidelity and radicalism, have been called in to create a popular sentiment against it, and to undermine its authority. In style, it is unimpassioned and severe, without fluency or fervor, and never indulging in the bursts of heated declamation, which give an ephemeral currency to so many of the essays and more extended treatises that are poured out upon us. It is the still, small voice of learning and of reason, issuing from amid a chaos of discordant sounds, with its few decisive words, in which all that is valuable in ancient or modern writings is separated from the superincumbent mass, its precise relation to the case in hand pointed out, and the whole arranged and compacted into one great and powerful argument.
In preparing for this article, with something of that sense of solemn responsibility which must press on every one who takes upon himself the office, never lightly to be assumed, of a public defender of our faith, we have examined Mr. Norton's work anew, and, after going to other treatises, or looking as far as we could into original sources of historical evidence, we have returned to it with an increased feeling of security and respect, as containing, in the most condensed and accessible form, all the learning that is needed in order to weigh understandingly the historical evidences of our religion. No one
hed with which ing its orderly ated; and,
topic, which has a legitimate and important bearing on the subject, is omitted or superficially treated; and, under one head or another, among its orderly pages, materials are furnished with which to enforce every important argument, and to meet every serious objection, that can be brought up.
It is time for scholars to learn that their contributions to the cause of knowledge are not to be estimated by the quantity of gross materials which they accumulate, though this kind of labor has also its value. He does the greatest service as a scholar in any province of inquiry, who separates all the gold from the worthless rubbish in which it had been imbedded, and brings it within our reach. Judged by this rule, no scholar has done more in his own chosen department than Mr. Norton. Of his personal and domestic virtues, of his character as a warm and devoted friend which so endeared him to the few who were admitted to his confidence, of his personal influence and authority as a teacher, of his gifts of poetic thought and expression, of his large acquirements and exquisite taste in various departments of literature, of his earnest and (so far as is possible with a man of his retired habits) active interest in whatever belongs to the physical and moral well-being of the depressed and suffering classes, of his profound and unshaken faith and the fervent devotion that sprang from it, of which we have a beautiful expression in the hymn which has so often brought tears to the eyes and comfort to the hearts of the sorrowing and dying, – of these and kindred qualities, which did so much to enlarge the boundaries of his happiness and to extend the sphere of his usefulness, fitting notice has been taken in the pages of this journal, by one who has a right to speak on these subjects. We have been permitted to know of them hardly at all, except through his published writings or the reports of others. To us his form comes up, not as that of a personal friend or teacher, but as of one bowed down by the weight of laborious days and many thoughts, from his familiarity with the progress of opinion seeing the end from afar, and looking not always hopefully into the future as he raised his warning voice against the insidious speculations of the day; living apart from the world, having little sympathy from abroad and much to
oppose and discourage him, with no hope of earthly reward or success, but none the less earnestly applying himself to his work, bringing to it the ripened fruits of his rich and various culture, seeking out every new source of knowlege that might promise to throw light upon it, and so toiling on with unabated interest and fidelity, till his declining strength gave out, and God called him to rest from his labors. At the close of a work written twenty years before, he says: “I have been writing, as it were, on the tombstones of those who were most dear to me, with feelings of the character, purposes, and duties of life, which my own death-bed will not strengthen." And such, we doubt not, were his feelings, in the last serene autumnal days before his change came, when the scenes of his past life, and especially the great work of his life, rose before him to be reviewed in the light of that world on whose borders he then stood.
J. H. M.
Art. IV. – DR. JUDSON'S LIFE AND LABORS.*
Dr. Judson needs no introduction to any portion of the Christian world. He needs no praise at our hands. Yet he has not always received praise, or perhaps full justice, from our household of faith. The reproach may not belong to us alone, — for when the first missionaries left our shores for the other side of the globe, they were regarded as visionaries by some of every name, - but we cannot recall without sorrow and shame the taunts thrown at thern and their devoted wives, in some of the best circles and most popular prints of Boston. And this, not only in 1813, when the work was begun, but as late as 1822, when the first Mrs. Judson, as true and noble a woman as ever lived, came home for the restoration of her failing health. Welcomed and honored as /she was by thousands of her own faith, and many of other names, there were remarks and insinuations from some respectable quarters, such as are seldom heard now
* A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. ADONIRAM Judson, D.D. By Francis WAYLAND, President of Brown University. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1853. 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 544 and 522.
of the Gospeito other to whose
in any similar connection. It is a fact honorable alike to the friends of missions and to those once unfriendly, that the enterprise has been raised above suspicion, and all disposition to oppose or ridicule it has long since ceased.
A new interest will be awakened, if there be not a new impulse given to the cause of missions, by this most acceptable Memoir. The life of such a man as Judson, drawn out by such a pen as Wayland's, will be sure to find readers by thousands, among all sects and classes, on both sides of the ocean, in the far-off isles, and in every region, Christian or heathen, where the heralds of the Gospel have gone. We doubt not it will soon be translated into other tongues, and be written and read in the very language to whose acquisition the youthful Judson devoted the first years of his laborious mission. We love to think of his own converts, or their children, reading with delight the truthful narrative of those “small beginnings," to which they owe, under God, their present new existence. Few men have sown the seed on earth with a more diligent hand or a more patient faith; few can look down from heaven on a wider field or a rich er harvest.
Dr. Wayland seems to us to have executed his task in the most simple, yet faithful manner. It was not so easy a task as he supposed when he undertook it, which he did at the request of the Executive Committee of the American Baptist Missionary Union, and also of the widow of Dr. Judson. Many of the materials which he expected to use, it was found, had been destroyed, either purposely or accidentally; so that the biographer was compelled to rely more than he wished on the official correspondence, much of which had already appeared in print. This fact may lessen the interest of the work, as we are told it does, to those who have been constant readers of the Missionary Magazine, and who are also familiar with Mr. Knowles's Life of the first Mrs. Judson, as well as previous notices of Dr. Judson himself. Yet we suppose this to be much the most complete and reliable account yet given of an important mission, while the circumstances just referred to have probably induced the biographer to enlarge more than he otherwise would have done, on some difficult questions. And in these original portions of the work, though not always able to VOL. LVI. — 4TH s. VOL. XXI. NO. 1.