Page images
PDF
EPUB

duty not far removed from assurance. Immediately after concluding the solemn and interesting investigation of the question of duty respecting missions, he wrote a communication to the American Board of Missions, offering himself to be employed under their direction, in some part of the pagan world. His proffer of himself was accompanied with ample testimonials from the Professors of the Theological Seminary.

The class, of which he was a member, finished their regular course of professional studies in September 1818. The public examination was held on the 23d of the month, and on the same day, at a meeting of the Prudential Committee of the Board, the Palestine Mission was established,* and Messrs. Fisk and Parsons were appointed to that station.

CHAPTER IV. ·

FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF HIS AGENCY UNDER

THE BOARD OF MISSIONS, TILL HIS EMBARKATION FOR, AND ARRIVAL AT, SMYRNA.

BEFORE proceeding to the missionary station assigned him, it was judged expedient that he should be employed one year as an agent, to visit the southern section of the country, for the two-fold purpose of soliciting donations for the use of the Board, and interesting the public in the objects of missionary enterprise. He accordingly received ordination in the Tabernacle Church, Salem, November 5, 1818; and, towards the last of the month, he sailed from Boston for Savannah, Georgia, at which place he arrived after a passage of eleven days.

He was kindly received by the good people of that city, and particularly by the lamented Dr. Kollock, who gave him a cordial welcome.

After a * The reasons, which led the Prudential Committee to establish this Alission, are contained in their tenth Annual Report, p. 28.

suitable time, he proposed his object; but to his severe disappointment he found circumstances unfavorable to his success. A variety of public objects occupied the attention, and required the patronage of the people. Pecuniary embarrassments were complained of, and the stagnation of lucrative business: but the greatest difficulty of all was the influence of formidable prejudices against northern agents. Special efforts, therefore, in soliciting donations for the Board at that time, were judged to be unadvised.

Mr. Fisk, however, spent a little time in the city, which he improved in visiting a few individuals of influence, for the purpose of enlisting their feelings in missionary objects. In the mean time some small contributions were made, and before he left, the Savannah Missionary Society voted to defray the expenses of his agency for six months, by the liberal appropriation of sixty dollars per month. Great as the discouragements at first sight appeared, Mr. Fisk did not wholly relinquish his object, nor despair of ultimate success." He revolved in his mind the question,—“What measure can I propose, that shall be likely to meet with a favorable reception?” At lengih he proposed to the people that some missionary be designated, to whose particular support their funds should be appropriated. The proposition being somewhat novel, received attention, and was regarded with approbation. He left the subject for their further consideration, and proceeded to visit some of the back counties. He went south as far as St. Mary's, preaching from place to place, giving information on the subject of missions, and taking up collections, where permission was obtained. The prospect of success began to brighten.

At St. Mary's, Jan. 2, 1819, he writes to a friend then in Wilmington, Vt.,.-”I endeavor, in going from place to place, to do what I can to animate and comfort Christians, to alarm careless sinners,

and to promote the salvation of men, and the glory of God. O that I were more wise, more faithfui. Let me share in your prayers that I may be qualified for my

work. In the mean time I will not cease to pray that God will fill you with the fulness of his grace and love.

What can we do for that God and, Saviour, who has done so much for us? Let us pray continually for divine guidance, and follow where the Providence and Spirit of God may lead the way.

"I am grieved to find religion so low in this part of the country. There are few ministers, few meeting-houses, few churches. The number of each, however, is increasing, and the religious state of the people is evidently improving. I preach frequently, visit much, and often converse with the slaves. I have a prospect of doing something in procuring aid for the support of foreign missions. Sometimes I cannot avoid thinking, how pleasant it would be to settle quietly in the midst of agreeable society with the comforts of home, instead of being exposed to voyages by sea, and travels by land; to all the varieties of climate, to poor accommodations, and to the opposition, the objections, the excuses, and the cavils of men.

But on the whole, I bless God that I have been led along in this course, and I am happy in my work. If among all the different classes to which I preach, I may but be instrumental of saving a few, how great the favor will be. Unfaithful as I am. I do not despair of this.”

After mature deliberation and consultation with judicious friends, Mr. Fisk offered himself to the Savannah Missionary Society, as a candidate for permanent support in the employment of the American Board.

With him they were acquainted, and it was understood that he was appointed to the Palestine Mission, a mission which appealed with deep interest to the feelings of Christians. Accordingly a meeting of the Managers was called, and the subject laid before them. The measure was

ably and eloquently advocated by Dr. Kollock; and after a full and deliberate discussion of it, the following resolution was moved, and with unexpected unanimity adopted.

“At a meeting of the Board of Mangers of the Savannah Missionary Society, January 22, 1819;Resolved, That this Society will employ the Rev. Pliny Fisk as their Missionary to Asia, the mission being under the more particular direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Extract from the Minutes.

“L. Mason, Secretary.

While visiting from place to place, Mr. Fisk acknowledges the kindness and hospitality which he received; but he complains that very few could be found, who manifested much concern for the heathen. In many places he could accomplish but little more, than to communicate in private and in public, information respecting missions. He collected, including what was contributed in Savannah, about fifteen hundred dollars.

From Georgia he proceeded to Charleston, South Carolina. Here he had to encounter discouragements similar to those which he had already met. But such was his judgment in proposing his object, and such his candor in listening and replying to objections, that he gained the confidence, and secured the respect of the people. Soon there was manifested a disposition to consider his object, and a readiness to meet it with liberal patronage. He visited several other places in that vicinity, and in the whole received something over 1,560 dollars for the use of the Board. He established a Society, the objet of which was, to support permanently a school of heathen children. Similar Societies he also established in Savannah and Augusta.

Mr. Fisk spent some time very pleasantly in Charleston, and speaks in strong terms of the very

hospitable civilities and attentions there received. He exerted a good influence, and left a favorable impression upon those, with whom he became acquainted. The following notice of him, while in that city, comes from a source which renders it worthy of remark. It is contained in a communication to the compiler, dated Charleston, 7th May, 1827. “While that eminent servant of God, Rev. Pliny Fisk, was on a visit to the South, I enjoyed the privilege of his acquaintance. I can say that his visit to this place, though short, was profitable. to many. His principal object was to revive, or excite a missionary spirit, by forming missionary Societies, or repairing the wastes made by time, or rather by a spirit of declension, in societies long since established. While with us, he was continually engaged in his Master's service. With propriety he might be compared to the glowing meteor, splendidly attractive, but of short continuance. In the house of God he no sooner began to speak, than the attention of the audience was arrested and fixed. He convinced many of sin, if he did not convert them from the error of their ways.

He often regretted, that the particular object of his visit so entirely occupied his time, and required the discussion of such subjects from the pulpit, as interfered with his addressing directly the hearts and consciences of impenitent sinners. "He kindled, however, a missionary spirit which, I trust, will never subside, but continue to increase, and bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It has frequently occurred to me, that could he have known the fact, he would have greatly rejoiced in the favorable change which has taken place here since his visit to this part of the country

Many laborers have been raised who are now actively engaged in the cause of God.”

After a few weeks spent in Charleston, he resumed his journey towards the north, and improved such

« PreviousContinue »