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of an exemplary follower of Jesus. They who enjoyed the privilege of intimate acquaintance with him, will never forget how they “took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company."
His intercourse with the Professors of the Seminary was uniformly modest and respectful. He went to them, as one would go to his father, for the counsel which their experience might enable them to give; and though in matters of faith he called no man Rabbi, yet he used to express much confidence in their judgment, and profited by their advice in cases, where he was not fully satisfied respecting the expediency of any measure, or the path of duty. He greatly endeared himself to them, and they had a high respect for his character as a Christian, and a
One of them has remarked concerning him, that "he was very ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, and in his religious duties. But his ardor was tempered with great sobriety and judgment. He was attentive to the laws and regulations of the Seminary, and suffered nothing to divert him from his appropriate business and duties, as a theological student. To every subject, which came under consideration, he brought strong excitement, and vigorous effort of mind.
He made visible advances in piety from year to year, and felt it to be indispensable to have his growth in grace no less evident, than his progress in knowledge. Sensible of his failings, be pursued no object with more zeal, than the difficult work of correcting them. He received advice from us in a most dutiful manner; and regarded those as his best friends, who most plainly reminded him of his faults, for the purpose of helping him to avoid them. He was so pious and exemplary,—so prudent and amiable,—that his influence was great over the minds of his fellow students. They, who were conversant
with one so wakeful, could hardly indulge in heaviness. His influence was permanent --rather greater, after he was gone, over those who remembered him, than, at the time, over those who were more intimate with him. The familiarity became less apparent, and the sanctity more.
One thing more, worthy of special notice, is the valuable habit he formed, of uniting Christian action with study and devotion. I might enlarge here, but it is presumed this trait in his character will not be overlooked in the account that will be given of his life.”
Such is the expression of esteem cheerfully contributed by one of his beloved instructors at Andover; and it is what each of them doubtless would subscribe to, as they all stood equally high in his estimation, and he probably did in theirs.
In every concern of importance Mr. Fisk solicited counsel and advice from those whose age, experience, and judgment claimed, as he thought, his confidence. Among his advisers may be mentioned in particular his former pastor, Rev. Dr. Packard, the Professors of the Seminary at Andover, and members of the Prudential Committee of the Board of Missions. Others were consulted by him, as opportunity occurred. Many of his letters were written for the purpose of eliciting the views and advice of his correspondents on points, where he hesitated to rely implicitly on the decisions of his own judgment. This habit originated not in the want of mental decision or independence, but in a strong desire to be kept invariably in the path of duty.
The trait of character, to which the preceding remarks relate, may be beautifully illustrated by reference to a part of his correspondence, not only while connected with the Theological Seminary, but after he had become engaged in his missionary work.
“Theological Seminary, August, 1817. "Reverend and Respected Instructors.-I take this method to make you acquainted with my past and present views, and to ask your advice, respecting a question of deep interest to me, viz: What is my duty in respect to missions. Early in life I professed religion, and soon desired the work of the Gospel ministry. About this time I read Horne and Buchanan on the subject of missions. The subject deeply interested my feelings more than a year, and for a few months engrossed a large share of my attention. The result was a conviction that it was my duty, and an earnest desire, to be a missionary to the heathen.
“Knowing that I was liable to misjudge, that my resolution might fail, that Providence might defeat my purpose, I said but little, except to particular friends. Since that time I have endeavored to watch the indications of Providence, and inquire after duty. My conviction of duty and desire to perform it increased, till I left college. This single object, a mission to the heathen, was almost invariably before me. And this was the principal thing that led me to this Seminary. Here I have endeavored to set aside all former decisions, and re-examine the whole subject. At times I have had fears, arising from the apprehension that my qualifications may be deficient; this point I have thought it safe to submit to the decision of others. Though the result of my examination has, on the whole, been such as to lead me to conclude, it would be right to offer myself for the service of Christ among the heathen, still my views may have been wrong. If so, it seems desirable to have them corrected now.
Having made this statement, I most cheerfully submit the question, whether I shall offer myself to the Board or not. · Asking your advice and prayers,
that I may be disposed of in such way as the Head of the church shall approve, it is, Reverend Instructors, with sincere pleasure that I submit myself, your pupil,
PLINY Fisk.” With reference to what will appear in a subsequent journal, it may be proper to state, that the above communication was made, after the Professors had proposed to Mr. Fisk the business of an agent for Benevolent Institutions and objects in this country. On this disclosure of his feelings, they became satisfied that his path of duty led obviously to a foreign mission, and they advised him to this course.
Extracts from a confidential correspondence with the Rev. Dr. Woods, Andover, hereafter inserted, will further illustrate the same trait of character, developed in the preceding letter. See Chapters
V. VIII. X.
While a member of the Theological Seminary, Mr. Fisk devised and executed plans for doing good, not only to his fellow-students, and to the students in the Academy,* and the inhabitants of the town, but to the people in a number of the adjacent towas. His great efforts were directed to the religious improvement of young people. To gain access to them he proposed the formation of Bible classes in a number of the neighboring societies. His plan being approved by the respective pastors, he engaged in it with zeal, and pursued it with suc
His feelings on the subject are expressed in a letter to one of his brothers.
“Theological Seminary, August 18, 1817. “My dear Brother, The account you gave of the success of the catechetical association in S. afforded me a pleasure not easily described. I imagine you already perceive the anticipated effects of the plan. It is no longer a matter of theory. You have made
Phillips Academy, a flourishing Institution situated near the Theo. logical Seminary.
the experiment, and begin to find that the study of the Scriptures on this plan is practicable, easy, interesting, and profitable. You find it calculated, no doubt, to excite the prayers of Christians, in behalf of the rising generation, to call into exercise the best affections, and the tenderest concern of their instructers; and you will find, I hope, in the end, that the word of God is able to make wise unto salvation.
“You will find it important to persevere with unremitted exertion in the business you have begun. For, however difficult it may be to get such a plan in operation at first, believe me, it is ten times more difficult to manage with such skill, such accommodation to circumstances and wishes, and such indefatigable perseverance, as to carry the thing along successfully from year to year, so as to secure the greatest possible advantages. You will feel the necessity of frequent, earnest, persevering prayer. Without the blessing of God all exertions will prove fruitless. Do all, therefore, in faith and humble dependence on divine aid. When I contemplate the effect of what is now doing in Shelburne, when I consider how much influence may be exerted in the formation of character, in deciding the temporal and eternal destinies of many, when I think how much God may be honored, and how many souls may be saved by these efforts, the subject rests on my mind with indescribable solemnity. O may God give you grace to be faithful, and bless you with the effusion of his Spirit.
"You may be gratified to hear how I succeed in this kind of business this summer. In R. a course has been pursued, very similar to that adopted with you, and with just about the same success. About 180 now attend, Sabbath evenings, at different school houses. Once a month, Saturday P. M., I meet with them at the meeting house. More than 100 were at the last meeting. One of my brethren