« AnteriorContinuar »
Dr. Prince was eminently learned in almost every department of Natural Philosophy. And what he knew it was his great delight to communicate. His visiters were introduced, through his admirable apparatus and specimens, to all the wonders of Astronomy, Optics, Pneumatics, Botany, Mineralogy, Chemistry, and Entomology. Indeed there is nothing beautiful, brilliant, dazzling, or rich, in any department of the outward world, and which the ingenuity and skill of man has yet been able to explore, which he did not spread out before them. And all was illustrated, explained, and set forth, with a facility, a clearness, a sprightliness of manner, which never failed to charm the admiring listener. As an experimental lecturer and operator, in his own parlor and surrounded by his private friends, he was never surpassed by any public professor of science. The delightful amenity and simplicity of his manners and spirit were in admirable harmony with the genius of science itself, and he never explored the glorious mysteries and glittering recesses of nature, without discerning, and causing all others to discern and adore, traces of the power and wisdom of its author. Wherever he walked with science, there he walked with God. Whenever he led another into the hidden halls of nature's temple, he taught him to pay glad and admiring homage to the enshrined divinity.
Dr. Prince brought his scientific skill and learning to contribute to the diffusion of useful instruction and refined entertainment in a great variety of ingenious methods. He was as much interested in man as in nature. His knowledge of the history and usages of nations was very extensive. All the arts of civilized and social life had engaged his study. In architecture, painting, and the fine arts generally, his taste was highly cultivated. His collection of engravings and specimens was very extensive and curious. By means of optical instruments he was enabled to make a most satisfactory display of all these treasures of knowledge. In the course of a winter's evening, his delighted visiter, sitting all the while quietly in his chair, was enabled to inspect the temples and the structures of ancient and of modern Rome, to explore the ruins of the old world, to traverse the streets of London, Paris, St. Petersburg, to visit the villas of Italy and noblemen's seats in England, to watch the successive aspects of an eruption of Etna or Vesuvius, and literally to survey the whole earth and the glories thereof.
Thus did our venerable philosopher make science contribute to his own happiness and improvement, and to the happiness and improvement of his friends and acquaintances.
The character and reputation of Dr. Prince as a Divine, were injuriously affected by his very great eminence as a Philosopher. The world is reluctant to believe that a single mind can fully master more than one department of knowledge; and if a person has vindicated a title to be placed in the front rank in any branch of attainment foreign to his professional pursuit, it has been inferred that he could not possibly be equally distinguished in that profession. This is, in general, a safe mode of reasoning; but we know that there are cases in which it is not applicable.
Dr. Prince was a very learned theologian. Those of his brethren who have had much intercourse with him will justify this declaration. In all the facts, illustrations and reasonings that constitute the science of natural theology, his philosophical attainments gave him preeminence. He was also thoroughly versed in revealed religion. His views of the interpretation and general criticism of the Scriptures were wise. and comprehensive. Few divines have ever been so conversant with the history of opinions in the Church. His acquaintance with the literature of theology was extraordinarily minute and exact. With the character, bearing, and general contents of every work of note, in our language, or in the Latin tongue, he was familiar. Having for more than half a century corresponded with the principal London booksellers and been in the constant receipt of their catalogues,* he had enjoyed great facilities for the accumulation of a theological library, and was possessed of a most valuable, rare, and extensive collection of standard works. It is defective only in the modern publications which have issued from Germany. Dr. Prince had no book in his library which he had not read, and whatever he read he always remembered.
Although he was justly numbered among the Liberal cler
* Dr. Prince was consulted by colleges, academies, and lyceums, in all parts of America, with reference to the collection of philosophical apparatus and libraries, and for nearly half a century has been employed to select and import books and instruments for public institutions and for literary and scientific individuals. His agency in thus providing and diffusing the means of knowledge has been extensively serviceable to the country. Within the few last years of his life he has procured philosophical instruments for colleges and academies in several States of the Union, from Vermont to Tennessee. At some of our public institutions the most beautifully constructed instruments may be found, the work of his own hands.
gymen of the present day, his preaching, in reference to the doctrines inculcated, has, I am inclined to think, been but little, if at all, affected by any of the controversies of the last half century. His theological sentiments were always substantially the same, and would probably be found to harmonize very nearly with the views in which serious and candid Christians of both parties, if they could get rid of the disturbing influence of names and phrases and sectarian lines of division, would discover themselves to be united. His preaching was rational, catholic, philosophical, and liberal, and although not calculated to be popular at the present day, was duly estimated and admired by our predecessors. His appearance in the pulpit was venerable and impressive in the highest degree, and the tones of his voice were truly noble and melodious. His figure was tall, and although very much bent by age, remarkably graceful and dignified. His dress was conformed to the fashion of the old school, and a full head of hair, perfectly whitened by time, was gathered in curls above his shoulders, so as to resemble the wigs worn by our ancestors, for which it was often mistaken. He preached his last sermon on the afternoon of the 17th of April; and the image of his hoary locks and benevolent countenance will not soon grow dim on the memories of those who have seen him in the desk.
Dr. Prince's published sermons bear strong marks of his excellent abilities and learning. His discourse on the death of his early friend and beloved associate, Dr. Barnard, is an admirable production, and in some passages exhibits an almost unrivalled tenderness of sensibility and beauty of expression. The following sentence is particularly interesting on the present occasion, "The Lord has taken away my friend, my brother, my companion and fellow-laborer in his vineyard. But he is gone to his heavenly father; and can I complain? I may weep for myself, but I cannot for him. I have followed him through many of the walks of life, and I must follow him through death. I ask your prayers that I may be prepared for it." He has followed him through death. Let us rejoice in the hope that the friends are again united to part no more.*
* Dr. Prince's sermon on the death of Dr. Barnard was preached in October, 1814. The following circumstances had made such an impression on his mind that he thought
Great as was his taste for human science and philosophy, I speak with full conviction drawn from a daily intimacy of many years, when I say that theology was the subject upon which he most loved to meditate, theological works were most frequently in his hands, and, as he advanced towards the end of life, I doubt not that among his most delightful anticipations of the heavenly state, was the disclosure there to be made, of all those truths relating to eternity, the soul, and its author, about which his thoughts had been so habitually exercised.
It remains for me to speak of Dr. Prince as a Christian. He was indeed a Christian, for he had the spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of gentleness, tenderness and love. He loved God most devoutly; and he so loved man, that he seemed not to know how to cherish any other affection towards him. I believe him to have been incapable of hatred or enmity; and, as he was an enemy to no one, so I believe that he had not an enemy in the world. It appears that his benignant disposition was an object of particular remark at a very early period of his life. Mr. Barnard, in giving the Right Hand of Fellowship at his ordination, congratulated the people, in the plain simplicity of the times, that they had obtained for their pastor a person of Mr. Prince's fine temper and respectable abilities."
The Christian piety of Dr. Prince was put to the severest test. Life had for him its full share of troubles, and the disease of which he finally died subjected him to the most excruciating sufferings, but no one ever heard a murmur or a complaint pass his lips. Neither the spirit of resignation nor the spirit of faith deserted him for a moment. The Gospel shed its sweetest and divinest radiance upon his bed of suffering and death.
proper, in publishing the sermon, to record them in a note to the clause, quoted above, “I have followed him through many of the walks of life." The note is here subjoined.
"It is a singular concurrence in our walks of life, and one that has some effect upon the social feelings, that we were educated at the same university, and after we graduated kept the same schools in the same town; studied divinity with the same clergyman; settled in the ministry in the same town; the same person preached our ordination sermons; and we received honorary degrees from the same university."
It is a singular continuation of this series of concurrences, and as affecting as it is singular, that, owing to some error at the time, Dr. Prince's remains were carried down into the wrong tomb, and laid by the side of Dr. Barnard's. He followed him, literally, from the cradle to the grave.
The last years of the life of our venerable friend realized the brightest picture of a happy old age. By the kindness. of his people he was released from labor and care; a long respite was given him, after the day of toil was over, and before the summons came to depart. In the pursuits of philosophy and religion; in the peaceful and cherished society of a kindred spirit; in the company of his friends; in the exercise of amiable affections towards man, and of admiring adoration towards God, the glories of whose creation he was continually exploring; and in the enjoyment of enough of this world's goods to meet his wants, he quietly descended the lengthened vale of years. He had his trials, and at times they were severe indeed, but his patience and faith were sufficient to sustain him while they lasted, and when they had passed away, the very memory of them seemed to be obliterated by the pleasant engagements which, in cheerful conversation, in instructive books, in philosophical experiments, and in the employments of his workshop, were ever at hand. His faculties of body and mind remained sound and bright to the end; "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force. abated ;" and at last he came to his "grave in a full grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. 99*
MEMOIR OF REV. EZRA SHAW GOODWIN.
EZRA SHAW GOODWIN was born at Plymouth, September 11, 1787. His education was commenced at the common schools in his native town, and the studies preparatory for admission to college he pursued under the care of the Rev. David Gurney, of Middleborough. He entered the University in Cambridge in 1803, and graduated in 1807. In 1809 he commenced preaching, and was ordained as minister of the First Parish in Sandwich, March 17, 1813. In 1814 he was married to Miss Ellen Watson Davis, the eldest daughter
* In grateful acknowledgment of the kindness and fidelity of his parish, Dr. Prince bequeathed a valuable theological library of 450 volumes for the perpetual use of the ministers of the First Church in Salem.