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liar style of the hat which he wore, as well as to his studious habits, "Old Virgil dug up."
He was not quite twelve, when he heard some visitors at his father's talk a great deal of a new exposition of the Apocalypse, which they pronounced a work of rare interest. Now, the Revelation was the book that, of all others in the Bible, he delighted most to read; and he had searched the few commentaries his father possessed, without getting much light upon its mysteries. The new exposition was owned by a very aweinspiring gentleman in the neighbourhood; but Adoniram felt that he must have it; and, after combating a long time with his bashfulness, he at last determined on begging the loan of it. He presented himself in the great man's library, and was coldly and sternly refused. For once his grief and mortification were so great, that he could not conceal the affair from his father. He received more sympathy than he anticipated. "Not lend it to you!" said the good man, indignantly, "I wish he could understand it half as well. You shall have books, Adoniram, just as many as you can read, and I'll go to Boston myself for them." He performed his promise, but the desired work on the Apocalypse, perhaps for judicious reasons, was not obtained.
When about fourteen years of age, his studies were interrupted by a serious attack of illness; and it was more than a twelvemonth before he was able to resume his customary occupations. Previously to this, he had been too actively engaged to devote much time to thought; but as soon as the violence of the disease subsided, he spent many long days and nights in reflecting on his future course. His plans were of the most extravagantly ambitious character. Now he was an orator, now a poet, now a statesman; but whatever his character, or profession, he was sure in his castlebuilding to attain to the highest eminence. After a time one thought crept into his mind and embittered
all his musings. Suppose he should attain to the very highest pinnacle of which human nature is capable; what then? Could he hold his honours for ever? His favourites of other ages had long since been turned to dust; and what was it to them that the world still praised them? What would it be to him, when a hundred years had gone by, that America had never known his equal? He did not wonder that Alexander wept when at the summit of his ambition; he felt very sure that he should have wept too. Then he would become alarmed at the extent of his own soarings, and try to comfort himself with the idea that it was all the result of the fever in his brain.
He had always said and thought, so far as he had thought about it, that he wished to become truly religious; but now, religion seemed so entirely opposed to all his ambitious plans, that he was afraid to look into his heart, lest he should discover what he did not like to confess, even to himself—that he did not want to become a Christian. He was fully awake to the vanity of worldly pursuits, and was on the whole, prepared to yield the palm of excellence to religious ones; but his father had often said, he would one day be a great man, and a great man he had resolved to be.
He entered college at sixteen; and having lost his fifteenth year by illness, he was obliged to apply himself very closely to his studies, and seldom gave himself any respite, even during the vacations. On receiving the highest appointment in the commencement exercises, his delight knew no bounds. He hurried to his own room and wrote, "Dear father, I have got it. Your affectionate son, A. J." He then took a circuitous route to the post-office, that he might quiet the beatings of his heart, and appear with propriety before his class-mates.
It was at this period that French infidelity was sweeping over the land like a flood. Young Judson did not escape the contamination. In the class above
him was a young man of the name of E——, who was amiable, talented, witty, exceedingly agreeable in person and manners, but a confirmed Deist. A very strong friendship sprang up between the two young men, and Judson soon became, at least professedly, as great an unbeliever as his friend.
Immediately on closing the school at Plymouth, Judson set out on a tour through the Northern States. Before doing so, he had unfolded his infidel sentiments to his father, and had been treated with the severity natural to a masculine mind that has never doubted; and to a parent who, after having made innumerable sacrifices for the son of his pride and his love, sees him rush recklessly on his own destruction. His mother was none the less distressed, and she wept, and prayed, and expostulated. He knew his superiority to his father in argument; but he had nothing to oppose to his mother's tears and warnings, and they followed him now wherever he went.
One night he stopped at a country inn. The landlord mentioned, as he lighted him to his room, that he had been obliged to place him next door to a young man who was exceedingly ill, probably in a dying state; but he hoped that it would occasion him no uneasiness. Judson assured him that, beyond pity for the poor sick man, he should have no feeling whatever; and that now, having heard of the circumstances, his pity would not of course be increased by the nearness of the object. But it was, nevertheless, a very restless night. Sounds came from the sick chamber-sometimes the movements of the watchers, sometimes the groans of the sufferer; but it was not these which disturbed him. He thought of what the landlord had said, the stranger was probably in a dying state; and was he prepared? Alone, and in the dead of night, he felt a blush of shame steal over him at the question, for it proved the shallowness of his philosophy. What would his late companion say to his weakness? The
clear-minded, intellectual, witty E-; what would he say to such consummate boyishness? But still his thoughts would revert to the sick man. Was he a Christian, calm and strong in the hope of a glorious immortality? or was he shuddering upon the brink of a dark, unknown future? Perhaps he was a "freethinker," educated by Christian parents, and prayed over by a Christian mother. The landlord had described him as a young man ; and in imagination he was forced to place himself upon the dying bed, though he strove with all his might against it.
At last morning came, and the bright flood of light which it poured into his chamber, dispelled all his "superstitious illusions." As soon as he had risen he went in search of the landlord, and inquired for his fellow-lodger. "He is dead," was the reply. "Dead!" "Yes, he is gone, poor fellow! the doctor said he would probably not survive the night." "Do you know who he was ?" "Oh yes; it was a young man from Providence College, a very fine fellow; his name was E-." Judson was completely stunned. After hours had passed, he knew not how, he attempted to pursue his journey; but one single thought occupied his mind, and the words-dead! lost! lost! were continually ringing in his ears. He knew the religion of the Bible to be true; he felt its truth; and he was in despair. In this state of mind he resolved to abandon his scheme of travelling, and at once turned his horse's head homewards.
He was now deeply impressed with the necessity of personal religion. At this crisis, the Rev. Dr. Griffin, and the Rev. Moses Stuart, professors in the Theological Seminary at Andover, visited his father, and proposed that he should enter the seminary. After some indecision, he did so. He arrived there in October 1807; not as a professor of religion, and candidate for the ministry, but as a person deeply in earnest on the subject, and desirous of arriving at the truth.
He had become thoroughly dissatisfied with the views of life which he had formerly cherished. Aware of his personal sinfulness, and conscious that he needed some great moral transformation, he yet doubted the authenticity of revealed religion, and clung to the deistical notions which he had lately imbibed. His mind did not readily yield to the force of evidence. This is by no means an uncommon case; nor is it at all difficult of explanation. A deeply-seated dislike to the humbling doctrines of the cross, frequently assumes the form of inability to apply the common principles of evidence to the case of revealed religion. Men of unusual strength of will, and a somewhat too confident reliance on the decisions of their individual intellect, are peculiarly liable to fall into this error.
Mr. Judson's moral nature was, however, thoroughly aroused, and he was deeply in earnest on the subject of religion. The professors encouraged his residence at the institution, wisely judging that so diligent an inquirer must soon arrive at the truth. The result justified their anticipations. In the calm retirement of Andover, guided in his studies by men, the praise of whose learning and piety is in all the Churches, with nothing to distract his attention from the great concerns of eternity, light gradually dawned upon his mind, and he was enabled to surrender his whole soul to Christ, as his atoning Saviour. This event occurred in November, about six weeks after his removal to Andover. On the 28th of May, 1809, he made a public profession of religion, and joined the Third Congregational Church, in Plymouth, of which his father was then pastor.
The change in Mr. Judson's religious character was not attended by those external indications of moral excitement which are frequently observed. The reformation wrought in him was, however, deep and radical. With unusual simplicity of purpose, he yielded him