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In conformity with such sentiments as these, Sadi built for himself, in his declining years, a herinitage near the walls of Shiraz; and here he lived absorbed in religious meditation. He received both visits and gifts from persons of exalted rank, but after appropriating to himself what was necessary to a bare 'subsistence, he distributed the rest to the poor. He is said to have lived to the age of 116, and to have been buried on the spot where his last days were spent. His tomb is still pointed out to travelers.
Art. V.- REV. EGERTON RYERSON, D.D., LL.D.
1. Educational Reports; 2. Letters to Foreign Ecclesiastics ; 3. Letters to the
Hon. George Brown; 4. Civil Goverument-1 Discourse; 5. First Lessons in Agriculture; 6. Christian Morals; 7. The Loyalists of America and Their Times. Vols. I, II.
It was at the Methodist Conference in Canada, held at Saltfleet, or Fifty-Mile Creek, in 1825, that Egerton Ryerson was received on trial into the Methodist ministry. It is a somewhat singular coincidence that at the said Conference six were received on trial, six others remained on trial, and six more were received into full connection. The total number of the members of Conference, including the above, was thirty-three. Of this number Dr. Ryerson was the last survivor, and he now has also passed on before.
Of those admitted on trial, two besides Mr. Ryerson became men of inore than ordinary celebrity: James Richardson, afterward Dr. Richardson, Bishop of the Episcopal Methodist Church in Canada, and Anson Green, afterward Dr. Green, who was three times president of Conference, and for many years book steward, and was often sent as representative to other ecclesiastical gatherings; he was a constant associate with Dr. Ryerson. They spent the eveniny of their lives together, and often walked to the house of God in company. When Dr. Ryerson preached the funeral sermon for his friend Green, he said that he “ felt lonely in the world, as he had outlived all the companions of his youth and the friends of his riper years. But
after three more years he, too, has been called to his final rest in heaven. The event took place on Sunday, February 19, 1882, in the city of Toronto, Ontario, on which day one of the most distinguished men that was ever connected with Methodism in Canada passed away. His age was 79. He had been connected with all the doings of the Church, and had taken part in many of the stirring events that liad occurred in the country.
Dr. Ryerson belonged to a family in which there were six sons, five of whom became ministers in the Methodist Church: one traveled only a few years; another, on being sent as a delegate to England, became a follower of the late Edward Irving, and is now, thongh more than ninety years of age, “ the angel of the Apostolic Church " in Toronto. Of the others, William was for many years the most popular preacher in Canada. It is the opinion of some that at no period in the listory of Methodism in Canada has there ever been one to excel him for pulpit oratory. To see him at a quarterly meeting in the olden time, or at a camp-meeting, was a sight never to be forgotten. Dr. Jolin Carroll says: “We can remember masses of people being moved by his word, like forest trees swayed to and fro by the wind.” A public controversy was held on “ the Clergy Reserve Question and Voluntaryism,” in which Mr. W. Ryerson and several others took part. The late Bishop Cronyn declared that “Mr. Ryerson's sarcasm was unequaled by all that he had ever heard, and that it was worth the journey from London to Simcoe to hear it.” For several years he was presiding elder, on two occasions was president of Conference, and was occasionally chosen as representative to the General Conference.
John, the elder brother of Egerton, was a great ecclesiastical leader. IIe was a shrewd man, and at an early period of his ministry he was appointed by the venerable Bishop Hedding to the office of presiding elder. An amusing incident occurred in connection with this appointment. The ordination class was being examined, and one of the members, having heard of the Bishop's design, was asked by Mr. Ryerson, “ Brother Black, who was Polycarp ?”
was Polycarp?” “ Polycarp, Polycarp, your reverence? I think I have heard that he was presiding elder of Smyrna.” The poor examiner, though usually one of the
gravest of men, was unable to suppress his smiles, while the rest of the company was thrown into convulsive langhter. The class, of course, greatly enjoyed the wit of their brother, and passed through the remainder of the ordeal successfully. As a preacher, Mr. John Ryerson excelled in beauty of thought and chasteness of diction. He was truly apostolic, as he always used “sound speech that could not be condemned.” He was, also, often intrusted with important duties which required more than ordinary tact and skill to perforin. Ile filled the presidential chair with great dignity. He was several times sent to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and to the Wesleyan Conference, England. Ile was, also, a member of the Evangelical Alliance which met in London in 1846. Ile was associated with Dr. Green on that important occasion, at which they were the representatives of Methodism in Canada.
But we must return from this digression. Egerton Ryerson, like most of great men, was much indebted to his mother, who was a strong-minded woman and exerted great influence for good in her family. He was converted in the eighteenth year of his age, and joined the Methodist Church, as his elder brothers had done. His father disapproved of his doing so, as he intended him to follow the profession of law, and, in a fit of anger, he commanded him to “either give up the Methodists or leave home." His brother George had established a grammar school near London. Egerton went thither, and for two years acted as usher in liis brother's school, and at the same time pursued the study of classics.
From early life he was an earnest student, and as the country did not afford many educational facilities he made up for the lack by intense application. IIis father called him home; he obeyed the mandate, and for some time was engaged with the duties of the farm, but he often rose at three o'clock in the morning that he might study a few hours before commencing his daily labor.
In those days it was customary for the minister to call upon some one to exhort after the sermon. Soon after his conversion, Egerton Ryerson was summoned to this duty. The
poor young man obeyed, but he was so timid that he broke down, and, as a consequence, was very sad and discouraged, but he
was assured that this was no ill augury. Through life he was always tremulous as he began his discourses, but there is no mention of his ever breaking down after the first effort. He became a most fluent speaker, and was always popular, though, as he never wrote any thing for the pulpit before preaching, he was at times too diffuse, though always impressive and often eloquent. He invariably commanded large congregations, and was soon in great demand.
In the year 1825 his brother William's health failed, which was the occasion of his being sent to supply the vacancy thus created. Egerton took for his first text the words, “Ile that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psa. cxxvi, 6. A passage prospective of his future success. There were many discouragements in his path, but he persevered, believing that he was where God intended him to be. For eleven years he performed the duties of circuit preacher. Some of his circuits embraced several townships, but he had put his hand to the plow and never looked back. He had his share of the hardships and privations peculiar to the pioneer work of those early days. A lady states that she remembers that when he lodged at her father's house, in one of his early circuits, he was accustomed to gather a heap of pine-knots, by the light of which he pursued his studies in the morning before the household were awake.
Elder Case, “the father of Indian missions in Canada," made choice of him for the Indian work, as he was an adept in the study of languages, and was one of the best educated young men in the Connection. IIe remained only one year in the Indian work, but through life he was accustomed to speak of this appointment with no small degree of pleasure, as he enjoyed more quiet and real happiness and contentment than was his lot in city appointments and positions of greater emoluments. Ile labored with his usual zeal and diligence, and set the Indians an example of labor in the field, clearing and plowing the land. Ile kept up all the religious services, and studied hard to make himself familiar with the language of the people. A new church was also erected on the Indian reserve, largely through his instrumentality. More important fields of labor demanded his services, or else he would doubtless have spent many years among the aborigines. During those years he was four times elected Secretary of Conference.
Egerton Ryerson next appears as editor of the “ Christian Guardian.” This was in 1829. The Canada Conference was separated from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States in 1828, and now it was deemed necessary to have a connectional organ, and a capital of $2,000 was created, mostly by the preachers taking shares of $20 each. Mr. Ryerson wrote the first editorial, and when the journal had attained its jubilee, he wrote a suitable article detailing many reminiscences respecting its career. He was comparatively young when he ascended the tripod, but he wielded a vigorous pen, and during the years he was connectional editor he wrote many powerful articles which were of immense value to the Methodist Church, and greatly aided the cause of civil freedom in the country.
During the first year of his probation, when only 23 years of age, he was unexpectedly drawn into controversy with Archdeacon Strachan, who afterward became the first Bishop of the Anglican Church in Upper Canada. That gentleman, with a view to secure increased aid from England on behalf of his Church in Canada, had published a gloomy account of the condition of the morals of the country, and greatly misrepresented other denominations, but especially the Methodists. Mr. Ryerson and his superintendent were accustomed to meet once a month with a few friends in a social gathering. At of these social meetings the “diatribe" of the archdeacon was read, when all present thought that an answer should be prepared immediately. It was agreed that the two preachers should each prepare something against their next meeting, and out of what they should write something might be compiled that would be deemed suitable. When the next monthly meeting was held, the junior preacher only had complied with the request of the previous meeting. He read his paper, and the meeting demanded that it should be forthwith published. The author protested, but he was overruled and the essay was issued in pamphlet form, signed, “By a Methodist Preacher.”
A wonderful sensation was produced by this little brochure. No previous publication had ever defended the Methodists of Canada, and nobody had presumed to question the arrogant