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The preacher, however, never surrendered the persuasion, that he was sent out to preach the gospel, and his visits to his far distant friends were frequently repeated; yet these visits were always made by the assenting voice of the society, and he regarded every individual, congregated under his directing auspices, as in an essential and solemn sense his children. A gentleman, attending in the church in Bennet-street, addressing Mr. Murray by letter, thus observes: 'I was very much pleased at your meeting; the orderly, respectable, and serious demeanor of your society; their silent, and fixed attention upon you, penetrated me with sentiments of attachment and satisfaction, and I forbore not to invoke the providence of God, that no froward, or adverse spirit, should interrupt the harmony which now so evidently subsists between you.'
W. I never doubted its being the performance of a lady.
M. Why, sir?
W. Why, sir, I know no man who could have written so well; I never was better pleased with the manner of a piece in my life; there is that sprightly, easy, flowery flow of expression that is more characteristic of a female pen than that of a male.
M. Is it not amazing that it has not been attacked?
W. Not at all, sir; what a despicable wretch must he be, who, however he may be opposed to the sentiment, would dare to draw his pen against the author of that preface, in which she declares her resolution of retiring into her closet in the event of an attack, and answering her opponent with silence. I never read a more charming composition than that preface in my life. I should be exceeding glad to see the author.
M. I assure you, sir, she has a strong predilection in your favor; for, to speak plainly, she is almost as warm an advocate for the devil as yourself.
W. I like her the better for it.
M. Why, really, it is much to her honor, for the enemy has been a malignant enemy to her, and done her much injury; and yet in the same moment that she is as much unlike him as possible, she cannot hear of his being cursed through the wasteless ages of eternity, but like Captain Shandy, she hesitates not to commiserate his destiny.
W. Would I could see her. But I have no business to contemplate anything beneath the skies. I am like a prisoner in momentary expectation of a cartel, which is to take me to my native country.'-Letters, c. i. 350, 351.
In the following, Mr. Murray speaks directly of the origin of the ceremony of dedication:
'You ask an account of the ceremony I have originated, instead of infant sprinkling. On my first appearance in this country, during my residence in the state of New Jersey, I was requested, as the phrase is, to christen the children of my hearers. I asked them what was their design in making such a proposal to me? When they replied, they only wished to do their duty. How, my friends, returned I, came you to believe infant sprinkling a duty? Why, is it not a command of God to sprinkle infants?' If you will, from scripture authority, produce any warrant sufficient to authorize me to baptize children, I will immediate
Yes, it is indeed true, that Mr. Murray considered the interests of the people of his charge as his own. Most fondly did he cherish, and perseveringly did he seek, by every possible means, to advance their reputation. He sympathized with the afflicted, and largely partook their sorrows; while, so often as the course of events brought joy to their bosoms, his eye beamed gladness, and his tongue exulted to dwell upon facts, which illumined the hours of his protracted pilgrimage. His voice, at the bed of death, was the herald of consolation. Are there not uncounted numbers, still passing on, in this vale of tears, who, while attending upon their expiring relatives, have witnessed the divine effects emanating from the luminous understanding of the preacher, and lighting up a blissful smile of anticipated felicity, amid the agonies of dissolving nature. To the aged he delighted to adininister consolation; his presence gave a face of cheerfulness to those social hours,
ly, as in duty bound, submit thereto. Our Saviour sprinkled no infant with water those who were baptized by his harbinger, plunged into the river Jordan, which plunging was figurative of the ablution by which we are cleansed in the blood of our Saviour-but infants are not plunged in a river.
'Paul declares he was not sent to baptize, and he thanks God that he had baptized so few nor does it appear that among those few, there were any infants. It is not a solitary instance to find a whole household without a babe. The eunuch conceived it necessary there should be much water for the performance of the rite of baptism: all this seems to preclude the idea of sprinkling and of infant baptism: and it is said, that whole centuries passed by after the commencement of the Christian era, before the sprinkling of a single infant. I am, however, commencing a long journey-many months will elapse before my return. pray you to search the scriptures during my absence; and if, when we meet again, you can point out the chapter and verse wherein my God has commanded his ministers to sprinkle infants, I will immediately prepare myself to yield an unhesitating obedience. I pursued my journey-I returned to New Jersey, my then home-but no authority could be produced from the sacred writings for infant sprinkling. Still, however, religious parents were uneasy, and piously anxious to give testimony, public testimony of their reliance upon and confidence in the God of their salvation. Many, perhaps, were influenced by the fashion of this world; but some, I trust, by considerations of a higher origin.
I united with my friends in acknowledging that when God had bless. ed them by putting into their hands and under their care one of the members of his body which he had purchased with his precious blood, it seemed proper and reasonable that they should present the infant to the God who gave it, asking his aid in the important duty which had devolved upon them, and religiously confessing by this act, their obligation to and dependence on the Father of all worlds. Yet we could not call an act of this kind baptism; we believe there is but one bap tism; and this, because the Spirit of God asserts, by the apostle Paul, that there is but one baptism, and the idea of this single baptism is corroborated by the class in which we find it placed. One Lord, one faith,
which the numerous classes, with whom he mingled, were wont to appropriate to enjoyment. Children lisped with infantile transport the name of the philanthropic preacher, and they were even eloquent in expressious of unfeigned attachment. The pleasures of young people, if under the dominion of innocence, were uniformly sanctioned by their preacher; and his appearance in wellregulated circles of hilarity, so far from clouding, was always considered as the harbinger of high-wrought entertainment. If we
one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians iv. 5, 6. After much deliberation I proposed, and many of my hearers have adopted the following mode: The parent or parents (I am always best pleased when both parents unite,) bring their children into the great congregation, and stand in the broad aisle, in the presence of the worshippers of God. The Father receiving the babe from the arms of the mother, presents it to the servant of God, who statedly ministers at his altar. The ambassador of Christ receives it in his arms, deriving his authority for this practice from the example of the Redeemer, who says, Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. The minister, therefore, taking the infant from its father, who gives him, as he presents it, the name of the child, proclaims aloud, John or Mary, we receive thee as a member of the mystical body of him who is the second Adam, the Redeemer of men, the Lord from heaven. We dedicate thee to him, to whom thou properly belongest, to be baptized with his own baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and we pronounce upon thee that blessing which he commanded his ministers, Moses, Aaron, and his sons, to pronounce upon his people, saying, 'The Lord bless thee and keep thee;
'The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee;
'The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 'For this procedure we have the command, the express command of God. Our reason and our religion concur to approve the solemnity, and our hearts are at peace.
The Lord, we repeat, hath commanded us to bless the people; God himself pronounced this blessing upon all the people, in the first Adam, when he placed him in the garden of Eden, and blessing and cursing came not from the same mouth upon the same characters. God, our God, is the ever blessing God; nor are blessings given only to the deserving. The blessings of providence and of grace are freely bestowed upon the evil and the unthankful; and when the evil and the unthankful obtain the knowledge of this truth, they earnestly sigh to be good, to be grateful.
'But the ever blessed God, not only blessed the people in their first general head, but in that seed, which is Christ. In thy seed, said the Lord Jehovah, shall the families, all the families of the earth be blessed. This was a royal grant. We are not, in general, sufficiently attentive to this particular. It is common to talk of being blessed by, and some say, through Christ, but few, very few, ever think of being blessed in Christ.'-Sketches, &c. ii. 366–368.
See also Letters and Sketches,' iii. 345.
except a single instance, we do not know, that, through a series of revolving years, the harmony subsisting between the minister and his congregation, suffered either interruption or diminution. This instance originated in political pertinacity. Party spirit occasionally ran very high; and federal and deinocratic leaders were among the adherents of Mr. Murray. A July Oration was to be delivered; much invidious disquisition was afloat; but it is fruitless to delineate; suffice it to say, that this oration, and its consequences, were pregnant with anguish to an oft-stricken heart; but blessed be God, the threatening aspect of affairs, which seemed to gather darkness, was soon dispersed, and the sun of righteousness seemed to break forth, with renewed splendor. Nor is it wonderful, that transient animosities existed; it is rather astonishing they were not more frequent. It was truly affecting, it was beautiful, and eminently consolatory, to behold persons of the warnest feelings, and strongest prejudices, depositing every dissenting, every foreign sentiment, at the foot of the cross, meeting, and mingling souls, and emphatically, although tacitly, saying to every minor consideration, Tarry ye here, while we go up to worship."
Too soon have the years of felicity fled away. They rise to view like the vision of some blissful era, which we have imagined, not realized. Suddenly we were aroused from our dream of security; the torpid hand of palsy blighted our dearest hopes; the Preacher, the Head, the Husband, the Father, was in a moment precipitated from a state of high health, and prostrated beneath the tremendous stroke of the fell destroyer.
Record continued from October, 1809, to September, 1815, including the closing scene.
Portentously the dense, dark cloud arose ;
Long was the night, surcharged with clustering woes;
Marched splendid on; wide o'er the brightening way,
1r was upon the nineteenth day of October, one thousand eight hundred and nine, that the fatal blow was given to a life so valua ble, so greatly endeared, so truly precious; but, although the corporeal powers of the long active preacher became so far useless, as to render him as helpless as a new-born babe; although he was in
deed a complete cripple, yet the saint still lingered; was still detained by the allwise decree of the Most High, a prisoner in his claybuilt tenement, nor did his complete beatification take place until the Sabbath morning of September 3d, 1815, lacking only a few days of six complete years. Yet was his patience, so far as we have known, unexampled. No murmur against the inflictions of Heaven escaped his lips; praises of his paternal Creator were siill found upon his tongue, and the goodness of his God continued his enduring theme. Unwavering in his testimony, he repeatedly, and most devoutly, said: 'No man on earth is under so many obligations to Almighty God as myself; yes, I will adore the great Source of Being so long as I shall exist, and every faculty of my soul shall bless my redeeming Creator.' Yet, it is true, that when the once cheerful sabbath bells vibrated upon his ear, he would frequently lift towards heaven a humid eye, and mournfully articulate: Alas! alas! it is not with me as heretofore, when I could hear the tribes devoutly say, Up, Israel, to the temple haste, and keep this festal day: ' Soon, however, his mind was hushed to peace by calm and firm confidence in his God, and he would add-Well, well, when I awake in thy likeness, I shall be satisfied. We are asleep in the present state; we are asleep in the likeness of the earthly man; all our uneasy sensations are unpleasant dreams. Pleasures, derived from mere terrestrial enjoyments, detached from intellect, are also dreams, and, like the baseless fabric of a vision, shall not leave a wreck behind. But if my life have been a continued sleep, and the greater part of my pains, and pleasures, dreams; yet, while this deep sleep has been upon me, the Almighty hath instructed me; yes, blessed be His name, the roof of His mouth is as the best wine, which goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those who are asleep to speak. O! for more of this best wine, that my lips may show forth his praise, that I may drink and foget all sorrow.'
Thus was the tenor of his mind generally acquiescent, and his impatience to be gone was frequently subdued, by an operative conviction of the sovereign wisdom, as well as paternal love of Deity. His bible was his constant companion. Seated by his affectionate assistant, in his easy chair, and the book of God opened before him, the man of patience, during six succeeding years, passed the long summer mornings from the sun's early beams, in examining and re-examining the WILL OF HIS AUGUST FATHER. He had, through a long life, been conversant with a variety of English authors. Poets, dramatic writers, essayists, and historians, were familiar to him; he took great delight in perusing them; but, travelling through those multiplied pages, might be termed his excursions, while the sacred volume was his INTELLECTUAL HOME. Many hours in every day were devoted to the attentive perusal of the scriptures, and yet his sentiments were unvaried; not a single feature of the system, he had so long advocated, was changed.
Mr. Murray was fond of calling himself the Lord's prisoner; and he would add, I am, by consequence, a prisoner of hope. During