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MEMOIRS OF THE REV. TRISTRAM GILMAN.
REMEMBER them who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow. A review of the lives of pious, and faithful ministers, is highly use ful and edifying. It has a tendency to stimulate others, who are partakers of the same faith, to imitate them in those things, by which they attained to emi. nence and usefulness. The Rev. Tristram Gilman, late Pastor of the first church in North Yar. mouth, was one, whose memory is deservedly dear to his acquaint. He was the son of a pious and useful minister in Durham, New-Hampshire. He was born in the year 1735, and was grad. uated, at the first University in New-England, in 1757. Edu. cated in a religious manner, he preserved the character of a sober and moral youth. He did not, however, build his hopes of everlasting life upon his morali. ty, or think himself a christian, merely because he had escaped those grosser vices, to which thoughtless youth are liable. He was led to view himself as a sinner, and justly exposed to the penalty of the divine law. For
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a considerable time he walked in darkness, without seeing satisfactory evidence that he had been renewed by divine grace. length, looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith, he obtained peace of mind and the comfort of hope. Having been called by divine grace, he determined to devote his future life to the gospel ministry. The flower of his days was spent in those studies, which were preparatory to preaching a crucified Savior to sinful men. Early in 1769, he came to the people of his future charge, and was ordained the December following.
In his settlement among that people, he experienced serious difficulties. His predecessor was a man of different sentiments from his own, and many of the church and parish were highly attached to him, and much opposed to Mr. Gil. man. After much time spent in prayer, for divine direction, and having the advice of a venerable council, he determined to take the oversight of them in the Lord. The event proved the correctness of his decision. By his amiable conduet, and christian prudence,
his opponents were reconciled, and he ever after lived with them in great harmony and friendship. He, who is the source of wisdom, and the giver of every good and perfect gift, had blessed him with a strong and vigorous mind, and an inclination to devote himself to those studies, which pertained to his profession. A close application to study, and habitual diligence in the duties of his call. ing, were prominent traits in his character. He was a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and was a workman who needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The Old Divines, next to the Bible, were his chosen companions. Regardless of the lighter ornaments of dress, he sought the truth, and these Divines greatly assisted him in his pursuit.
Mr. Gilman stood high in the estimation of discerning minds, who knew how to appreciate merit. In ecclesiastical councils his judgment was much sought and highly valued. In the Association of which he was a member, he was much esteemed, and was for many years their Moderator. When Bowdoin College was incorporated, he was named in the act, as one of the Trustees, and presided at that Board till his age and infirmities induced him to resign.
doctrines of total depravity, particular and eternal election, regeneration by the special in. fluences of the Holy Spirit, justification by the righteousness of Christ, and the perseverance of the saints. He adopted the determination of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, to know nothing among his people, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. His doctrines were sound, and his manner grave and serious. Conscious that he was sent to negociate between God and men, when speaking of the awful
concerns of judgment and mercy" he was studious to avoid "lightness in his speech." "He was serious in a serious cause." Without attempting to provoke a smile, by the prettiness of expression and the brilliancy of wit, he was anxious to feed his flock with the bread of life. It was an important object in his preaching, to shew the connexion of gospel doctrines, and their tendency, when cordially received, to lead to a holy and blameless life. While he was a son of thunder to the careless
and impenitent, he was the
messenger of grace" to those who felt their need of mercy. It was his delightful employment, to lead the trembling and inquiring sinner, to that gracious Redeemer, who has said, ❝ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. In his preaching he aimed more to enlighten the understanding and mend the heart, than to please the fancy, and gain the applause of his hearers. His sermons were fill. ed with sound sense, and real instruction; and to the pious they were highly delightful and edifying. His usefulness as a minis
ter of Christ was not confined to the sacred desk. The spirit of that gospel, which he publicly preached, followed him into private life, and had a commanding influence in every situation. He was truly an example to his flock in conversation, as well as in doctrine. In the house of affliction and mourning, he was a welcome guest; and it was his object in such seasons, to awaken the minds of the careless, and to sooth the pious with the consolations of religion. As a husband, parent, neighbor, and friend, Mr. Gilman deserves the highest commendation. Affectionate, tender, and faithful, he acquitted himself in those relations as a christian of superior attainments. His mansion was the residence of love, and the most endearing sensibilities. He undoubtedly had his imperfections, as do all good men ; but by divine grace he was enabled to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men. To his friends, and especially christian ministers, his house was the abode of hospitality. To the poor and needy his liberal hand was extended for their relief. His kindness and benevolence were manifested, not only, in acts of charity to their bodies, but in recommending religion to them, by precept and example, as the one thing needful. To strangers his first appearance indicated reserv. edness ; but acquaintance convinced them that he was an open and agreeable companion. On subjects of science and politics, he could converse with the greatest propriety; but religion was his chosen and most constant theme. In this he shone as the
man of piety, and the christian minister.
In the affairs of the present life, Mr. Gilman interested him. self but little. He gave himself wholly to the work of the min. istry, and his profiting, in reading, meditation, and prayer, was very apparent. The riches and splendor of the world, with him found but feeble attractions. He was blessed with one of the best of wives, whose prudence, economy, and gracious endowments, rendered her a help mete for him. She was a woman of superior attainments, who was admirably calculated to conciliate the love and esteem of all her acquaintance. She was that virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusted in her. Her children arise up, and call her blessed. Well knowing that the reputation, and usefulness of her husband, depended very much upon his freedom from worldly cares, she willingly took upon herself the burden of do. mestic duties. In his union with such virtue and accomplishments, Mr. Gilman's cup of family blessings seemed to be full. But in the height of the greatest conju. gal felicity, it pleased a holy and sovereign God to remove the desire of his eyes by a stroke. Soon after the birth of her youngest child, she was, it is believed, associated with the spirits of just men made perfect. In this season of deep affliction, Mr. Gil. man manifested the faith and resignation of a saint. At the tomb of his departed friend, he spoke with that calmness and composure, which indicated a mind remarkably resigned to the dispensations of heaven. This
was known to be, not the effect of unfeeling apathy, but of faith and hope. Soon after this mournful providence, God was pleased to honor his ministry by the effusions of his Spirit. In the year 1791, there is reason to believe, many were called out of darkness into marvellous light. During a little more than a year and a half, one hundred and thirty-two members were united with the church. From that time to his death, sixty-two more were admitted. Though the religion of some of these proved as the morning cloud, and early dew, the greater part continued to manifest the sincerity of their profession. During the whole term of his ministry, 293 persons were admitted into full commun. ion with his church, and 1344 were baptized. The death of this highly honored servant of Christ, was such as might be expected to follow a life of so much piety and usefulness. His hopes of everlasting life were built up on the atonement and righteousness of Christ, and they continued to support him in the near prospect of dissolution. He en. joyed the pleasing hope, that he was united to his Savior, and should be accepted for his sake. With dignity and fortitude, he looked into the valley of the shadow of death, and feared no evil. Through the whole of his last sickness, he was remarkably patient, composed, and submissive, and manifested that the religion, which he had preached, was able to bear the soul above the fears of death. He entered, as we firmly believe, into the joy of his Lord, April 1, 1809: leaving seven very affectionate children, and a numerous church
and parish, who tenderly loved him, to mourn his loss. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.
AN ACCOUNT OF LORD ROCHESTER.
JOHN WILMOT, afterwards earl of Rochester, was born in 1647, at Ditchley.in Oxford. shire. After his education was completed, he travelled into France and Italy; and, at his return, devoted himself to the court, and was in great favor with Charles the second. He had very early an inclination to intemperance, which he seemed to have totally subdued in his travels; but afterwards falling into dissolute and vicious company, he gave way to his former propensity; and became corrupt in his principles, and depraved in his manners. He lost all sense of religious restraint; and, finding it not convenient to admit the authority of laws which he was resolved not to obey, sheltered his wickedness behind infidelity.
As he excelled in that noisy and licentious merriment which wine incites, his companions eagerly encouraged him in excess, and he willingly indulged it ; till, as he confessed to Dr. Burnet, he was for five years together so much inflamed by frequent ebriety, as in no interval to be mas ter of himself.
Thus in a course of drunken gaiety, and gross sensuality, with seasons of study perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all decency and or. der, a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious obligation, he
lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness; till, at the age of one and thirty, he had nearly exhausted the fund of life, and had reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.
At this time he was led to an acquaintance with Dr. Burnet, to whom he laid open with great freedom the tenor of his opinions, and the course of his life, and from whom he received such conviction of the reasonableness of moral duty, and the truth of Christianity, as, by the Divine blessing, produced a total change both of his manners and opinions. Some philosophers of the present age will probably suppose, that his contrition and conviction were purely the effects of weakness and low spirits, which scarcely suffer a man to continue in his senses, and certainly not to be master of himself; but Dr. Burnet affirms him to have been “under no such decay as either darkened or weakened his understanding; nor troubled with the spleen or vapours, or under the power of melancholy." In proof of this assertion, the fol. lowing letter is produced; in which nothing is omitted but some personal compliments to the doctor.
long loved, and how much I glory in repentance, and in God's service. Bestow your prayers upon me, that God would spare me, if it be his good will, to show a true repentance and amendment of life for the time to come; or else, if the Lord please soon to put an end to my worldly being, that he would mercifully accept of my death-bed repentance, and perform that promise he has been pleased to make, that at what time soever a sinner doth repent, he would receive him. Put up these prayers, most dear doctor, to almighty God, for your most obedient, languish. ing servant.
June 25, 1680.
Soon after the receipt of this letter, Dr. Burnet visited him. Lord Rochester expressed to him, in strong terms, the sense he had of his past life; his sad apprehension for having so offended his Maker and dishonored his Redeemer; the horrors he had gone through; the sincerity of his 1epentance, and the earnestness with which his mind was turned to call on God and on his cruci
fied Savior, to have mercy upon him.
Discoursing one day of the manner of his life from his youth, "Woodstock-Park, Oxford. and bitterly upbraiding himself
"My most honored Dr. Burnet, "My spirits and body decay equally together; but weak as I am in person, I shall write you a letter.-If God be yet pleased to spare me longer in this world, I hope, by your conversation, to be exalted to such a degree of piety, that the world may see how much I abhor what I so
for his manifold transgressions, he exclaimed, "O blessed God! can such a horrid creature as I am, who have denied thy being, and contemned thy power, be accepted by thee ?-Can there be mercy and pardon for me? Will God own such a wretch as I am?" About the middle of his sickness, he said; "Shall the unspeakable joys of heaven be conferred on me? O mighty Savior! nev