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velopement, not only of his intellectual faculties, but of his Christian virtues, we have a valuable testimonial, showing the excellence of his character, and the motive that urged him onward in his course; a motive that grew stronger and stronger, as he advancedlove for souls. This was the main spring of his movements, the secret of his success in the cause of Christian benevolence.
The following additional testimony comes from a class-mate of his who now occupies an important station in the Church. “As a Christian, he was distinguished for decision and zeal, and a promptitude in seizing opportunities for promoting the spiritual interests of others. His deportment was uniformly amiable, and it was manifest, that the love of God had, in no ordinary degree, been shed abroad in his heart. Never shall I forget the readiness and the solemnity with which, when unexpectedly requested at the time, he addressed our class, as we were assembled around the grave of one of our number, who had died in a neighboring town."
Such was his character, while pursuing study as a member of college. By his Christian example and exhortations, he made a deep impression on the minds of many, an impression that some will never forget. One, who is now a useful minister of the Gospel, stated to the compiler, that it was in consequence of a faithful admonition received from Fisk, that he was roused from sinful stupidity, and led, as he trusts, to seek religion, and take a stand on the Lord's side. Others, perhaps, might be found, who could testify to the same thing in respect to themselves. Such an example of Christian zeal and fidelity, is worthy the attention of every pious student. It evinces that much good may be done, even while preparing for a more extended sphere of benevolent labors.
Without disparagement to Mr. F., or reflection upon his friends, it may be stated, that his energy
was put to the test, and his faith occasionally tried by struggles with pecuniary embarrassment. Expensive and protracted sickness in his father's family frustrated the prospect of assistance from paternal resources. No Education Societies then existed to proffer their patronage to the indigent, but pious youth, whose longing eye was turned towards the ministry of the Gospel. When he commenced his collegiate course, little encouragement of support, beyond his own limited means, was presented. His main dependence was upon his exertions, in connexion with a rational reliance on divine Providence. He adopted a course of rigid economy, and during the vacation was employed in the instruction of common English schools. These means, however, could not enable him to meet all the expenses necessarily incurred. But though perplexed he was not in despair. Under embarrassing circumstances he used, to the best advantage in his power, the means he had to extricate himself, and then committed his way to God. Having, as he humbly hoped, a sincere desire to be employed in the vineyard of his Master, he cherished the sweet confidence that his Lord, if he had a service for him to perform, would enable him to prepare for it.
Experience has often taught the children of God, that the Lord delivereth his servants, that trusted in him," that "they which trust in him shall be as mount Zion that cannot be moved.” So his experience instructed him. He found that his confidence was not misplaced, nor disappointed. Friends were raised up from unexpected quarters, from whom such assistance was occasionally received, as enabled him to prosecute, with little interruption, his classical studies. At a certain time, when pressed for want of funds to meet present demands, and not knowing whither to look for aid in this emergency, he anexpectedly received thirty dollars, a donation
from a merchant in Boston.* In acknowledging the receipt of this sum, which came so opportunely to his relief, he remarks;—"So. Providence provides for me."
At the close of his collegiate course he would have gone directly to some Theological Seminary; but from this he was detained a year in consequence of debts which had accumulated, notwithstanding his economy, the avails of his own industry, and some assistance from benevolent individuals. But it was a year rendered useful to others, as well as profitable to himself, as will hereafter appear.
Alluding to the difficulties above mentioned, one, who was well acquainted with him while in college, thus observes;—"I have often contemplated him, as affording a remarkable illustration of the fact, that a student, surrounded by many discouraging circumstances, and not distinguished at first as a scholar, may in a few years, by well directed and persevering diligence, outstrip those who once were before him, and leave them far behind both in intellectual attainments and real usefulness.'
Mr. Fisk received his first degree, in August, 1814. On the following September he commenced the study of Theology under the direction of his pastor, Rev. Dr. Packard, boarding at the same time with his father. The following are some of his reflections in prospect of being soon engaged in the work of the ministry. “The work seems great, difficult, and responsible. I feel that I am very inadequate to sustain its labors. Young, inexperienced, weak in faith, inclined to sin, how can I think of engaging in a work of such magnitude. How can I fulfil a task, under which Gabriel, without special aid, inust sink. My help must come from God.”
In January, 1815, he was examined by the Franklín Association of congregational ministers, and re
* Mr. Henry Homes.
ceived from that body a license to preach the Gospel. In reference to the new and responsible business, in which he was commissioned to engage, he records this prayer: "Almighty Saviour, to thec I look for assistance in discharging the important duties which now devolve upon me.
Thou knowest my weakness, ignorance, want of experience, and the temptations to which I shall be exposed. Do thou strengthen, instruct, and support me. for assistance in the choice of texts, in studying and preparing sermons. Teach me the true meaning of thy word. Let me never adopt sentiments, or form determinations hastily. Enable me to resist the influence of all unhallowed motives; give me a spirit of devotion; make me, studious and faithful. May I be prudent and zealous, humble and decided, conciliatory and consistent. Give me health of body and soundness of mind. Let my preaching be solemn and interesting, doctrinal, experimental, or practical, as the occasion may require. O my God, enable me to preach 'in demonstration of the spirit, and with power, and wilt thou give the word an efficient influence, that it may reach the hearts of men.
After a painful review of his deficiencies and sins, which he speaks of in a manner, evincing deep contrition and self-abhorrence, he continues the record of his feelings:-"I will throw myself on divine mercy, and hope and wait for the consolations of religion. A ray of light enters my benighted soul. Though heavy laden with guilt, Jesus appears mighty to save. My soul again leaps for joy to see my Redeemer. O my Saviour, do I not love thee, and long to be conformed to thy image? Do I not sincerely mourn my levity, my stupidity, and my unfaithfulness? Lord, thou knowest my heart,-is not sin the burden, and holiness the delight of my soul? Let me see thy glory, and my own vileness, -be delivered from the power of sin, and assimilated to thee, and it is enough; I have all things.”
About the first of March following, Mr. Fisk was invited to preach in Wilmington, Vermont; and he went immediately to that place, where he continued his labors not far from eight months. He found that the minds of the people there had been unhappily agitated, and party animosities excited in consequence of the dismission of their pastor. These unpleasant circumstances appeared rather forbidding; and the field of labor, into which he was sent to make his first ministerial efforts, did not promise much success. But as he was a stranger, he determined to know no party, and take no interest in the controversy which had been in agitation. He went directly about his appropriate business. His labors were blessed, and the attention of the people was soon directed to religious subjects. Party jealousies and strife were forgotten, while religion became the topic of general inquiry and interest. Meetings for
prayer and conference were frequent, and well attended throughout the town; and it was evident that the Holy Spirit had come down with power to revive his work.
The cheering prospect of a revival of religion, it may well be supposed, produced no ordinary effect upon a mind like Mr. Fisk's. “His spirit was stirred in him," and his best powers were brought into vigorous exercise. Under the conviction, that the present was a momentous crisis with the people, on the termination of which everlasting consequences depended, he was abundant in labors. He felt his responsibility, and while the field was white to harvest, he resolved to spare himself neither strength nor toil. Many in that place are ready to witness, "how he kept back nothing that was profitable unto them; but shewed them and taught them publicly and from house to house, testifying to them repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.” As soon as practicable he visited most of the families in the town, and conversed personally