Page images

Lest, however, the richness of the intellectual banquet might impair his relish for devotion and holy living, he united with diligent and close attention to study habits of active piety.

In respect to his intellectual features nothing very brilliant or striking was developed. The creations of a fertile and glowing imagination were not found among the productions of his mind. Nor was he distinguished for boldness and vividness of conception. The power of analysis he possessed in a high degree; and his talents in general were solid, rather than splendid. With soundness of judgment he united quickness of perception, and acute discrimination. His compositions, though lestitute of ornament, were characterized by plainness, point, and perspicuity. He evinced a more than ordinary degree of mental power, and, as will hereafter appear, a capacity for rapid improvement.

In respect to his theological attainments no more can be said, perhaps, than is true of many others, who in subsequent life move in a humbler sphere of ministerial labor, and never rise above the ordinary degree of distinction.—To the prescribed course of studies he devoted careful and punctual attention, and at the usual examinations acquitted himself with respectability.--He studied the Scriptures with great care and deep interest, select portions of which he committed daily to memory, and was accustomed to introduce with great effect for illustration or proof in his extemporaneous exercises.

It was in the art of holy living, and in devising and executing plans of usefulness, that Mr. F. excelled. Here we see him in his strength, and here we discover the secret of that influence which he afterwards exerted in the world. In these respects his fellow students were soon prepared to feel, and acknowledge, that he was before them. In his intercourse with the members of his class and wishi:

individuals of other classes, it was his uniform endeavor to exert an influence favorable to their piety, and to enlist their feelings in objects of benevolence. He loved to converse on the subject of religious experience, and would often inquire of those with whom he was most intimate, respecting the present state of their own hearts, their present views and, ielings, their hopes, fears, difficultie:, and trials.

An extract or two from his journal will introduce him in this profitable connexion with his brethren.

“Feb. 20, 1816. I have had this evening a most delightful interview with two of the brethren, H. and T.-0 the happy, the blessed communion of kindred souls! I felt my heart united to theirs by the tenderest ties. I love them most cordially. We conversed upon our alarming stupidity in the service of God, on the evidences of our piety, on intercourse with God. We kneeled down together and attempted to pray.

In such seasons how do hearts unite, and souls melt and mingle into union.

“Feb. 28. Last Sabbath eve I met with six of my dear brethren, and had a free and profitable conversation on the state of our hearts, and the low state of religious feeling in the Seminary. The season was precious, and may it prove a prelude to better times.—This evening I have been again engaged most sweetly with a few of my brethren in mingling souls. 0 how I love such seasons! They are rich in spiritual good and pleasures.Would God. I were worthy to live in such society as I now ei joy. March

Had an interview with my classmate, B. We conversed respecting our own religious experience. A very precious time. The Lord grant, that I may have a better relish for spiritual discourse."

If a fellow Christian was laboring under trials of mind, he was one of the first to attend to his

case, which he did, with true Christian concern; and he urged it on others, as a subject that should awaken their sympathies, and engage their earnest prayers.--Having for a long time carefully studied cases of conscience, he was qualified to administer counsel and consolation to such as were walking in darkness. Many can bear testimony to the brotherly kindness which he manifested towards them, under the circumstances that have been mentioned. In the time of affliction Fisk was found a brother indeed. It was his practice to call on some of his most intimate associates, and say,-“brother *** is laboring under distress of mind, or is suffering some painful visitation of providence; now he needs our prayers, and I wish you to meet me at my room for the purpose of holding a prayer meeting on his account.”—If any were absent in consequence of some afflictive dispensation, his prayers would be frequent and fervent, and the expression of his affectionate heart would follow them. А. particular instance of such attention the writer well remembers.-A class-mate was summoned home unexpectedly to bury a dear friend. During his absence, as he afterwards learnt, his case deeply affected the feelings of Mr. Fisk, who on this occasion invited a few persons to unite with him in seasons of special prayer for him who was absent and in affliction, and to whom he soon forwarded the following letter.

“Dear Brother - Though we could not feel all that

you felt, when you left us, yet you will easily believe that our hearts were not wholly insensible. I am sure we did then, and do still bear a part in that burden which a righteous Providence has laid upon you.

I often experience a melancholy pleasin sitting down, and recollecting the very pleasant seasons we have enjoyed together, and then dire cting my thoughts to your present situation. Sometimes I imagine you have returned, and


we are conversing together on the mournful scenes into which you have been called. I begin to inquire respecting the support you have realized, and the effect which the afflictive event has produced on your surviving friends;—and I enjoy the momentary pleasure of thinking, that you and they have been supported, comforted, and benefitted, in this season of deep distress. Yes, I trust the Lord does sustain your sinking spirits, and comfort your aching hearts. Can we not see in this event evidence that your heavenly Father is faithful? You have longed, and prayed, that he would make you humble, wean you from the world, increase your piety, and fit you to be a good minister of Jesus Christ. is not this the method, the wisest and kindest, effectually to show you what is in your heart-to teach you the uncertain nature of all earthly enjoyments—to lead you to more zeal and diligence in cultivating your Christian graces—to prepare you to sympathize with the afflicted, and administer to them counsel and consolation-and, in short, to fit your own soul for the enjoyments of that purer world, where sin and sorrow cannot enter? O my brother, I do rejoice to think that such are the gracious designs of Heaven towards you. May you have grace so to improve, and submit to this dispensation, as to gain finally all these precious advantages. And if we are permitted to live together again, may we both experience the salutary effects of this visitation.

“Your bereaved parents, I trust, are supported by that religion they have so long professed, and are resigned to the painful chastisement. It is God's design to prepare his children for heaven. But, O how much must be done to accomplish this end! How many mercies, how many afflictions! How many idols must be torn away-how many sins subdued-how many sufferings endured! God is a kind and faithful Father to his children. He will supply their wants, or leave them destitate; gratify,

or disappoint their wishes; smile, or frown, as may be most conducive to the final good of his great --family. He will take care to carry them through such a course of discipline, as shall at last prepare them to enjoy him in heaven.' It is our part to learn to view every thing that concerns us, as a part of that system of means by which, if we are faithful to ourselves, our heavenly Father is purifying our souls from sin, and fitting us for seats at his right hand. So may you, and your mourning parents, view your present trials, and share all the benefits of sanctified affliction.

Yours sincerely, P. Fisk.”

Expecting to spend his life in arduous labor on missionary ground, he was careful to subject himself to such a degree of bodily exercise, as would prevent that languor and debility which so often result from sedentary habits. Walking was a frequent mode of exercise. But his were emphatically “walks of usefulness.”. Those intervals of relaxation he improved to valuable purposes. He always aimed to have some object in view, that the time required for exercise might not be lost; and usually this object was a free conversation with some one of his brethren, respecting their own hearts or some truth of religion---some Christian duty-some plan of usefulness--or the moral condition of the world—the claims of missions, &c. Perhaps he would have in view a short visit to some family, a prayer meeting, a religious conference. Many will long remember the precious and profitable interviews which they enjoyed with him during some of those seasons.

One, who is now a missionary to the heathen, has said, "I well remember those interviews, which I had with Mr. Fisk, while walking for exercise; for it was during one of them that myself, if I feel any thing of a missionary spirit, was led to feel. At those times his soul rose on high. He was far before us

« PreviousContinue »