« ПредишнаНапред »
Xcigned among his people, notwithstanding all his endeavors to awaken them. At the end of about seven years, finding his labors ineffectual, he thought it his duty to remove to some other place. He then went to Manchester, in Vermont, where he labored successfully about two years. The Lord attended the word which he preached with his spirit, and a considerable number were gathered into the church of Christ, under his administration. He then had an invitation to settle in Bennington, where he spent about sixteen years. During this term, he was called, nearly at the same time, to part with two of his children. This af. flicting stroke of Providence he endured with that patience and submission which always peculiarly characterized him. It may not be expedient to go into an enquiry relative to the causes which led to. his dismission from the church and people of Bennington. The event is recent and the subject a delicate one.
The people of Bennington, it is hoped, while they realize their obligations to a once beloved and faithful pastor, will cherish with pleasure his memory, and be fully sensible of the honor conferred on them, in having enjoyed the labors of one so highly distinguished. The eccle-, siastical council, convened for his dismisson, remark that, " they are exceedingly happy to find his moral, christian and ministerial character, entirely unimpeached, and that the church explicitly de-. clare, that they know nothing militating against him, as an able and faithful minister : That they therefore, from their own acquaintance, from the testimony of the church and people in Bennington, and from his noted character in this and the adjacent states, do most cheerfully recommend him as an able, faithful and pious minister of the gospel, whose praise is in all the churches." After leaving,
Bennington, from motives truly pious and lauda ble, he removed to Addison. The people of Ado dison will always remember, with the warmest emotions, their obligations to him for the good which he was instrumental of accomplishing a mong them. The town had long been in a divide ed state, the situation, unhappily of too many of the towns in Vermont. But after the town waś blessed with his residence, the moral and relig ious character of the people was soon entirely changed. A church was organized and rendered respectable by the number of its members. Public worship on the Sabbath was statedly observed, and every thing began to wear a new and promising appearance. It is not easy to conceive the griet, which the people felt ob learning the sorrowful news of his death. This truly mournful event happened, while he was in the northern part of Vermont on a mission, which, with the consent of his people, he voluntarily undertook at his own expense. The same zeal and disinterested con cern for the highest good of his fellow creatures, which he displayed through life, he exhibited till death. On the 20th of October, 1804, after he had passed his sixtieth year, while he was at Enosburgh, his kind Lord relieved him from his christian warfare, and without doubt, received him to a more noble and exalted state, in a better world, where warfare is never known. The patience with which he endured the pains of his last sickness, and the composure and peace of mind, which he maintained in the prospect of approaching death, excited the greatest astonishment in an unbeliever who happened to be present. When asked if he was willing to diesDr. Swift replied, " Death has no terrors.” Most persons think it a happiness to
die in the midst of their friends ; but he, more tender of them than of himself, wished that none of them might be present to witness so painful a. spectacle. Some of his last words were-“I have often thought it would be very distressing to have my family
around me in the hour of death.". Thus died the Rev. Dr. Swift, cut off by a sudden death, in the entire possesion of his mental faculties, and at the very height of his usefulness.
His funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Benjamin Wooster, from Isaiah, lvii. 1. The righteous are taken away from the evil to come. His funeral rites were performed in the presence of the same persons who had heard his last ser... mon and witnessed the earnest zeal for their sal.. vation, which he manifested at the conference which he was attending when taken unwell. Sures. ly they must be greatly blame-worthy, if they have failed to profit by the affecting and instructive lesson which they then received, or if they suffer the impressions made on their minds ever to be effaced. A funeral sermon was afterwards preached at Addison, by the Rev. Jedediah Bushnell, from Heb. xi. 4. By it being dead he yet speaketh. The Rev. Lemuel Haynes also preached a funeral sermon on the occasion, to his people in West-Rutland.
A few remarks, will here be added, as a farther illustration of the character of the Rev. Dr. Swift.
A person, who had the best opportunity of knowing and observing him accurately, declares " that patience, contentment and cheerfulness, in every circumstance of his life, distinguished his character: That he never knew him express.a murmuring or complaining word, or manifest any
* The reader will find the substance of this discourse subjoing ed to this account of the life of Dr. Swift.
real uneasiness in any situation, howeverdisagreea. able, or under any trial, however afflictive: That if he ever discovered any thing of the kind in any of his family, he always admonished them; re. minding them how many mercies they enjoyed, and how ill they deserved them : That he always bore the contradiction of the wicked with the most admirable patience : That he never knew him, in a single instance, revile again when he was revil. ed; but that he always bore testimony against the wickedness of the wicked in a charitable and gose pel manner. As was his doctrine, so. was his life.”
The character of Dr. Swift shines with distin.. guished lustre in whatever situation or relation he be viewed, whether as a man, as a citizen, as a christian, pastor, scholar, neighbor, friend, hus. band or parent.
He early discovered an inquisi. tive turn of mind and a fondness for investigating science and truth. The Author of nature had giv.. en him a capacious and.comprehensive mind, and rendered him capable of exploring the depths of knowledge and of investigating the most abstruse subjects. Divinity was his favorite study. In this science he made great acquisitions. His views were profound and clear; his sermons rich in sentiment and well digested. Such was the strength of his mind, that he never committed his sermons to memory, nor for many years, made use of notes in delivering them. The numbers who have often been entertained and edified by his faithful labors and instructive di purses, can witness that he was an able preacher, a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of God. he was solemn, devotional and fervent. always able to adapt himself to particular occasions with peculiar pertinency. His words were weighty and accompanied with an air of sincerity:
His manner was tender, affectionate and winning. With truth may it be said of him, that in meekness he instructed those who opposed. His religious sentiments he endeavored to found on the Word of God, rather than on human creeds. He resorted to the word of God as to a pure source, that he might receive from thence unadulterated knowledge. He always inculcated strongly on his hearers, the doctrine of human depravity, the new cessity of regeneration, faith, repentance and good works, and adapted his discourses to common comprehension, never over-looking even the lowest capacity. He was apt to converse with per: sons of every description, that he might win their good will and benefit them. He ever manifested that zeal for the great truths and duties of chris. tianity which is according to knowledge ; but, at the same time, abhorred bigotry. He ever exhibu ited an amiable liberality of disposition in his judgment of others, was disposed to speak of them with candor, and entertain a charitable hope for all of whatever denomination, who appeared to possess the essentials of religion. The different congregations with whom he has successively la. bored, can witness his prudence in the discharge of ministerial duties, his sincere love of peace and his unwearied efforts to preserve it. They can witness that he was not slothful, but abundant in labors, coveting not theirs but them. The words of Cowper apply, with such exact propriety, to the person who is the subject of these remarks, that one is almost tempted to suppose, that the poet must have had a personal reference to him.
“ A preacher, such as Paul,
-Simple, grave, sincere ;