Abbildungen der Seite

an eminently fervent, devoted, unaffected piety; and in connexion with later correspondence, will again be noticed.

After three years of study, he was licensed, August, 1788, to preach the gospel. In April following, he accepted a call to the charge of the united churches of Raccoon and Montour's Run, in Washington county, the former of them eighteen miles west of Pittsburg. He had served these congregations ten or twelve years, when it was found that each had become large enough to sustain a minister, and he accordingly resigned the care of the


He had already lost two children by death, and was now called to the affliction of parting with his wife, who died on the 4th February, 1808. Of this excellent person we have the following sketch, in a letter written by Mr. Patterson to a friend, four years later.



“ From her first acquaintance with Christ, I do not believe she could ever be denominated a backslider, but appeared to grow in grace

and in the knowledge of God. It is truly rare to find a per

who pays as strict attention to the affairs of both worlds as she did.

It was usual with her, when I would tell her of any of

my difficulties, to reply— Well, let us go and pray:' The gracious anecdotes respecting these short prayers, and their answers, may yet afford matter of conversation. Often have I heard her say that she was rarely troubled with a wandering mind in time of solemn worship; nor ever heard her husband or son preaching ; for as soon as they entered the sacred desk, relationship was absorbed in the ambassador of Jesus Christ. She had much more gravity than I, and was often a check on the levity and unprofitableness of my conversation ; as well as a stimulus to religious exercises, and ministerial duties. About ten months before her departure, when I was from home, she was seized with a long and violent cholic, from the effects of which she never recovered. From this time she was under the care of a physician, who would sometimes say, after praying and conversing with her (for he would do both), it is in vain to try to recover a patient who is so desirous to die.' She could usually ride in fine weather, and sometimes attend the ordinances ; but her mind was peculiarly fixed in ardent longings to be with Christ, to behold his glory, and to be perfectly like him.

On Sabbath, October 18, I preached on Nahum i. 7. This was the last sermon ever she heard. From that night, death made the most formidable approach I ever witnessed. Racking heart-sickness was almost constant. Two of the four that then composed the family, alternately sat by her day and night, and very frequently changed her position, endea


vouring to alleviate her extremity of pain; the short intervals of which were sweetly filled with expressions of patience, resignation to the will of God, her own exceeding vileness, and the preciousness of Christ, for whom she greatly longed. She would often say to me in the evening, my dear, don't you think I shall get home to-night?" For three weeks before her departure, I am persuaded she did not take one ounce of solid food; but in the last two of them, the racking sickness abated, and she rather sunk into debility, but still retained her full exercise of mind. On her last Saturday evening, Robert came to see her, and she desired to converse with him alone ; on which occasion she told him she had known more of Christ and of the glory of Redemption that week, than in twenty years past; “yes,' said she, “I thought this morning, in time of worship, my heart should have bursted under the view.' She then appeared to regret her telling him, and requested that he should not mention it, lest any should think of her more than was meet.

On her last evening, I told her, “I believed she should certainly get home to-night, for she was evidently dying.' She looked at me and smiled, but spoke no more. She lay on her right side, her eyes set. Just at that time I remembered an agreement we had made years before, that whoever of us should attend the other's dying bed, should talk of Christ and glory directly to the dying, while life remained. I went instantly close to her. I cannot now tell what sweet suitable things God gave me to say on that occasion. There was a dawn of heaven in the room. The tears burst from her set eyes and continued flowing until she departed. At that moment all appearance of disease left her countenance, and a full smile settled on her face. I know not if ever I had such thoughts of God's wiping away all tears.

On the Sabbath following I preached on Job xiv. 14. Views of the glory she was advanced to, and hopes of being soon in it, dulled the edge of sorrow, so that I scarcely felt its sharp cutting. I think it was near two years before my affliction on account of my bereavement came to its height.

Four years after (May 9, 1812), Mr. Patterson was married a second time ; and in Rebecca Leech, found, as he had expected, a no less suitable partner. * She was from Abington, Pa., and is still living.

In the fall of 1816, being then in his 65th year, his bodily in

*"1 enjoy much happiness with my precious companion, whom the Lord has made acceptable to my friends, and to the church of God.” (Letter to his brother Robert, July, 1824.)


[merged small][ocr errors]

firmities rendered it necessary to retire from pastoral duty, and the charge which he had held for twenty-seven and a half years, was resigned. The growth of the church, the esteem of the people towards him, and the frequent and powerful revivals of religion, were so many proofs that, in spite of any disadvantages from the want of a college education, and from having entered the ministry rather late in life, he was as truly called to the work“ was Aaron.”

It should not be omitted, that during this period, he also took a leading part in the great moral enterprises of the day, and of that region of country. He was one of the founders of Western Missionary Society, and was in the habit of collecting funds for its support; and was equally engaged in promoting the interests of the academy at Canonsburg, now Jefferson College, of which he was a trustee. He also took missionary tours, for the purpose of visiting new settlements, and is said to have preached the first sermon, to a congregation of white people, in the region north and west of the Ohio river. In the summer of 1802, he spent several months among

the Shawnee Indians, on the branches of the Miami river; and has left a journal of that missionary excursion, which is said to be full of useful information, and interesting incidents.

We have the summing-up of his sermons and lectures, during his pastorship; they amounted to 2572, exclusive of exhortations and occasional addresses. It is stated also, that he seldom preached twice from the same text, and when he did, it was seldom substantially the same discourse. To an active mind, capable of appreciating and unfolding its treasures, the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. If a preacher finds himself obliged to resort again to the old stock of sermons, the cause is not to be found in the book from which the texts were furnished.

On resigning his charge, he changed his residence to the city of Pittsburg. The change did not diminish his usefulness to the cause of religion. “ No man, at his time of life (says the narrative already mentioned), could have been more actively engaged in his Master's work, than was this excellent man during the fourteen years which he dwelt in this city.” Without, it is believed, any formal rule on the subject, Mr. P. was accustomed to divide his time in such a way, as to give to every day its appropriate share in the three following employments :

1. Reading, meditation, and prayer.

2. Social religious intercourse, in which he received and conversed with his friends, and those who sought his advice, and an interest in his prayers ; also friendly visits to the sick and bereaved. His reputation for wisdom and prudence, deep experimental knowledge of religion, and accessibility to all classes, naturally led persons of various ages and stations in life to spread before him their peculiar difficulties, and solicit his advice on points of duty ; he entered feelingly into their trials and perplexities, and never betrayed the trust reposed in him.

3. Active labours in the distribution of the Holy Scriptures; in watching over the interests, and transacting a large share of the business of Bible, Missionary, Sabbath-school, Tract, and other benevolent societies.

“At some seasons of the year, almost every day of the week, would find him passing along the shores of our rivers, entering hundreds of boats containing families of emigrants from various parts of the world, kindly inquiring after the temporal and spiritual welfare of these often destitute and afflicted strangers, giving them such advice as to their secular concerns as they needed, and making sure that they were supplied with a copy of the Bible.

There was a familiarity, an affection, and an impressiveness in these brief communications, so benevolent, pains-taking, and cordial in themselves, as often made a deep impression upon the mind.

Sometimes they would follow him from boat to boat, to listen to his brief and appropriate instructions ; at others, they would betray a strong curiosity to know what could be his motive, in taking so much pains, at his advanced age, to ascertain whether they possessed the Bible, or wanted any thing which he could supply; but, at all times, they treated him with great respect, and often expressed their obligations in the most grateful manner.

He acted as agent for the receipt and distribution of Bibles, to a greater or less extent, for the Pittsburg, the Young Men's and Female Bible Societies of this city, and for the Philadelphia and American Bible Societies, which occasionally placed donations of the sacred volume at his disposal, as did the British and Foreign Bible Society, on one occasion, 100 Irish Testaments. During his fourteen years' residence in this city, it appears from his entries, that he received and distributed 39:20 Bibles, and 943 Testaments, making a total of 6863 copies. When it is considered, that most of these were accompanied with his affectionate and faithful counsels and fervent prayers, we see what a noble monument to his industry and usefulness is here reared.


Among no class of persons was he more highly respected, and sincerely loved, than the youths and children of our Sabbath schools. He had a faculty of interesting and gaining the attention of children, as valuable as it is rare.

Thus on the verge of eighty, and with bodily infirmities which would have entirely laid aside any man of ordinary resolution, this venerable minister of Christ was in these useful employments exhibiting a pattern of industry and of method in the despatch of business which often astonished and delighted the observer. Nor was this all. Besides a great number of addresses and exhortations delivered in public assemblies, and in more private circles of social worship, he preached 170 sermons during his residence in this city; and almost always bore a large share of the labours attendant on the administration of the Sacramental supper in our churches."

We now approach the concluding scene of his life-a life which, as in the case of so many members of his family, was singularly lengthened out. He had some sharper afflictions to contend with, than the usual infirmities of old age. In May, 1829, after he had barely recovered from a weary spell of sickness, a mis-step on the pavement gave a wrench to one of his ankles, which sent him back to the sick room for eight or nine weeks longer, with excessive pain for a part of the time. This trial led to a thorough work of selfexamination, which caused him to conclude in these remarkable terms: “I thought God called me to read and pray, and prepare stuff for removing. I have found this a difficult work. I cannot mention the painful particulars, but so it is, and I believe the view is just and true,—that my whole heart, life, and ministry, is one horrid mass of abominable filth of moral pollution. Every minute of my seventy-seven years deserves the eternal wrath of God, and strange to tell, I am not afraid. I long to see Jesus whom I think I can trust to do what he pleases with me.' (Letter to J. P. Engles.) The language will be intelligible or not, according as the reader is personally interested in the subject. To some minds it will even prove comfortable and encouraging.

In the May following (1830), when he was a year older, we find him in a better case. Writing to his sisters, he says— God is dealing strangely with me at this time. For many years I was obliged to sit when preaching, and often in time of prayer; but last Sabbath I preached twice, standing, and walked near two miles, and did not feel much fatigued."

« ZurückWeiter »