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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XXXIII. - Last Labors of Dr. Rice


In anticipation of the election of a Professor of Oriental Literature in the fall of 1828, Dr. Rice says in a letter to Mr. K. Taylor of New York, in the August of that year — “I ventured on my own responsibility to engage a workman to put up a brick building; and he has now actually begun the job, and has agreed to finish it this season. At the present Mr. Goodrich and I, with our wives, and all our domestic establishments, are in the same building with the students. But I find that on many accounts this does not answer well. The building which I have contracted for will be occupied as soon as finished, by us, and the whole seminary building given up to the students.”

The nineteenth anniversary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was held October 1st, 1828, in Philadelphia. Dr. Rice delivered the annual sermon from 2 Cor. 10th: 4th. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down the strong holds.” The editor of the National Preacher met the Doctor at the close of worship on the pulpit stairs, and reached out his hand for the manuscript. Several thousand copies were presented to the Board, and gratuitously circulated by Mr. Dickinson. October 31st, he writes to Mr. K. Taylor —441 have just returned from Presbytery and Synod. I do rejoice to hear that affairs took a good turn in Philadelphia. I have received a letter from Dr. Alexander since my return, and find that he was very much pleased with the meeting. If my sermon did good, and shall hereafter do good, I do not take any credit for it to myself. But I shall be glad indeed if it promotes the cause of missions; and the more so if it indirectly aids our infant seminary; we do so much need well-taught and faithful ministers in the southern country, that I feel our enterprise to be one of the highest importance. It is deeply to be regretted that somebody did not take hold of this matter fifteen years ago. But perhaps the time had not arrived for success. Mrs. Rice desires me to say that she has reserved a lodging-room in our part of the seminary, on purpose for your brother, so that if he needs any nursing, she intends to enjoy the pleasure of affording it herself.”

This brother, James Brainard Taylor, from the banks of the Connecticut, while a clerk in New York, witnessed the departure of some foreign missionaries, and became deeply impressed with the paramount importance of religion to himself and all mankind. As soon as practicable he commenced a course of studies in preparation for the ministry. While in the theological studies his feeble health alarmed his friends. Desirous of restoring the health of a lovely candidate for the ministry, and of promoting the life of godliness in the seminary, and also of doing something agreeable to his correspondent, a warm friend of the seminary, Dr. Rice invited this young man to pass the coming winter at the seminary. Mr. Taylor arrived at Prince Edward in November, in a very weak state, having comc from New York to Petersburg by water. “Finding him too feeble to go up stairs we gave him our chamber, the south-west room, (of the east wing) — and we took the dining-room just opposite, across the passage. There he died.” With increasing ardor of piety and decreasing strength of body, the young man passed the winter under the care of Mrs. Rice, and two skilful physicians. His religious cheerfulness bound the little community at the seminary, with cords of increasing love, and all exerted themselves to add to the comfort of the dying man. On Sabbath evening, the 29th of March, 1829, he passed to the heavenly world. His last written sentence was — “By my amanuensis, Mrs. Rice, I thought to tell you at greater length ; but like all other glorious manifestations of God to the soul, this beggars description. However, let me say, that to-day, I have had sweet thoughts of going to another world. Gladly, gladly, while alone, and resting in my easy chair, would I have bade earth farewell, and winged my way to the paradise of God. The Lord said, Nay. I yet stay, and would patiently wait until my change come. I find it easier to dictate than to write with mine own hands, James.”

That the influence of this young man’s piety might be perpetuated, and widely disseminated, Dr. Rice commenced a memoir, which, interrupted by his death, was finished by Dr. B. H. Rice; and has been widely circulated, and probably read by those to whom it was dedicated, theological students, and the Christian Church generally.

At the meeting of the Board, in December, 1828, after the election of Mr. Goodrich Professor, Major James Morton, father-in-law of Dr. Rice, and Mr. James D. Wood, for many years treasurer of the Board, were appointed, “with authority to contract for the erection, and so far as they think proper, the finishing of the western wing of the Seminary building, so soon as the general agent shall inform them that $5000 have been subscribed for that purpose; provided that said Committee shall be able to make an advantageous contract, on payments to be made in one, two, or three years, with such advances as the subscriptions above mentioned shall render practicable.” Rev. James W. Douglass, then preaching acceptably at Briery, was, at the earnest entreaty of the Board, persuaded to accept the general agency. The subscriptions to the building and contingent funds were liberal; and at the meeting of "the Board in May, 1829, it was found “expedient to alter the plan of a building adopted by a former Board, so as to make each wing fifty-two feet long, and the centre building forty-six. The building Committee were authorized to contract for the erection of the brick work, and necessary wood work of a building ninety-eight feet long, being the wing and centre building necessary to complete the plan of the Seminary, provided that by making contract for the whole at once, there can be any special advantage gained.” The Committee proceeded to make a contract, and secured the erection of buildings sufficient to make the Seminary the very convenient and sightly building it now is. The terms of the contract were, that part of the building should be completed in 1830, the remainder in 1831 — “to be finished entirely and complete for the sum of $12,000, one-third payable the 1st of July, 1830, the balance in four equal annual instalments.”

The private library of Dr. Rice, collected with great care and expense, and well fitted for the purpose of theological study, became the property of the Seminary. It had been open to the students from the commencement of his services as Professor. “But,” a Committee of Presbytery, in 1826, said, “it is not reasonable that, from year to year, the Professor should throw open his library to the use of the students without compensation ; especially as it could be procured on terms more liberal than can be expected from any other source.” Whereupon it was, "Resolved, that Thomas Treadway and James D. Wood be appointed a Committee to procure for the Theological Seminary the library of John H. Rice, D. D., after he shall have withdrawn from it books to the value of five hundred dollars, which he thinks least valuable to that institution; that on receiving the library they shall give the said John IT. Rice an order on James Morton for the principal and interest of the debt due the Presbytery on account of their Theological fund, provided the same does not exceed $1500; that they also give him an order on James Morton for $444 44, left by Andrew Baker as a fund, the interest of which is to be applied to the purchase of religious books for gratuitous distribution; also for the same amount left by the same individual as a fund, the interest of which is to be applied to missionary purposes ; the Committee making satisfactory arrangements with the Trustees of the Seminary, that the interest on the sum of $888 88 shall be paid annually, one-half to such person or persons as Presbytery may appoint, to purchase and distribute religious books, and one-half to the Treasurer of the United Auxiliary Missionary Society; and also that the Treasurer grant a discharge to John H. Rice, D. D., for the sum which he owes to the funds of the Theological Seminary, amounting, as stated in his account, to $385 38. This proposed arrangement was finally completed, and record made by Presbytery, April 28th, 1828; and also agreed to and entered upon the minutes of the Board of Directors in December of the same year. The sum found in the hands of the Treasurer, was $1486 59. The Seminary library thus increased was valued by the Board at $8000.

In the Evangelical and Literary Magazine for October, 1828, is aj report on the course of study to be pursued in the Union Theological Seminary. “ The design of the publication is, that the members of the Synod of Virginia and North Carolina generally, and of the Board in particular, may have an opportunity of seeing the plan, and considering the reasons on which it is founded.” It occupies more than thirteen octavo pages, and proposes an extensive course of the most liberal character. The great principle adopted is, “The Bible is to be in the Union Theological Seminary, the GREAT SUBJECT OF STUDY; AND THE ONLY SOURCE OF AUTHORITY. But the Bible must be studied in the original languages. The religious teacher must prove the soundness of his expositions, and thus convince his hearers of what God requires them to believe and to do; it is a fearful thing for a minister of the gospel to say that the Bible means what it does not mean; to affirm that the God of truth has said what he has not said. The Bible, though not written in systematic order, contains a system of truth. The Professor of Christian Theology, then, has two great duties to perform; 1st, By a careful induction to establish the theological facts recorded in the Bible. 2d, To give them a clear, scientific arrangement, that the mind of the student may embrace the whole truth revealed in the word of God, and thus be able to present it, in lucid order, and with distinctness, to the understandings of those whom he may be called to teach.”

“It is earnestly recommended, that the Board, with the advice and consent of the Synod, should aim at the establishment of four Professorships in the Seminary, with the view of ultimately requiring a four years’ course of study. In prospect of such an arrangement, the following might express the titles of the respective foundations. 1st, Professorship of Greek and Hebrew; 2d, Professorship of Biblical Literature; 3d, Professorship of Christian Theology; 4th, Professorship of Church History and Polity. At present it is understood that the order of the Board contemplates a course of study for three years, to be conducted by three Professors: 1st, of Oriental Literature; 2d, of Christian Theology; 3d, of Ecclesiastical History and Polity.”

It had been the desire of Dr. Rice and the friends of the Seminary, to contract the expenses of a residence at the institution within the narrowest compass, and meet the condition of many young men that desired to preach the gospel. To bring about the desired result, the students and friends at a distance united in most praiseworthy efforts. Some young men of fine spirit and narrow means, adopted a simplicity of living that might satisfy an anchorite; others of more abundant resources, restricted themselves to the greatest plainness and cheapness in their diet to encourage the others, and establish, if possible, a rate of living as cheap and simple as might consist with health. Says one, well acquainted with the proceedings of the time —u Mr. Hurd and Mr. Tenny boarded themselves, I believe, all the time; but in a small way. They got codfish, which they kept in the ice-house, had cheese, butter, molasses, and such things, and every morning I sent for their basket of table furniture, to wash all up clean for the day. Messrs. Hart, Royall, Barksdale, and M’Ewen, a Scotchman from the South, had a quiet dining-room in the roof (of the Seminary), and very good food which they got my servant to cook and attend to for them.

“About that time Dr. Rice, in passing through Philadelphia on business of his agency, was stating the wants of the Seminary in the congregation of Dr. Skinner. A widow in great poverty heard, and reflecting on the great want of ministers in some parts of her own country, and the desolations in the heathen world, and considering the necessity laid on all to do something in the cause, from her great poverty, sent the Doctor one dollar as her donation. On his return to the Seminary, the Doctor related the circumstances of the widow’s donation, the first she had ever made to a work of this kind, and urged the students to the greatest economy. A number of students forthwith made arrangements to leave a comfortable boarding-house, and forming a club, hired a servant, purchased provisions, and commenced boarding themselves at a cheap rate. Friends of the Seminary in the neighborhood, and at a distance, moved by the report of their self-denial and its cause, sent various articles of table furniture and provision.” The young men were encouraged by the experiment in 1828; and as their numbers increased the Board of Directors became interested, and endeavored to give permanency to what had been thus far successful.

In September, 1828, the public were informed — “The present students have diminished the price of board from eighty to sixty-five dollars, by paying in advance, and giving their steward a fixed salary, and then dividing equally the expense. Oil or candles are frequently sent to the institution from Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk, so that this article is not a source of expense. All are encouraged to live as the general spirit of self-denial will allow, which is favorable to severe ‘Study.” As the tuition, room-rent, bed and other furniture, and use of library were gratis, and candles were generally given, the expenses of the students at that time were, per annum, boarding $65, washing $10, fire-wood $5 — total $80. In the spring of 1829 Mr. Douglass, the general agent, says — “Some collections have been made for the students’ fund, the object of which is to reduce the price of their boarding. In explaining this, it has been stated that the students board themselves, by purchasing their provisions, and hiring servants to prepare them, under the direction of a pious superintendent; and that, if an amount nearly equal to the consumption can be obtained, and if, as will generally be the case, there are students boarding in the family who are not in indigent circumstances, and will therefore pay for their boarding, the expense of living at the Union Seminary may be less than at most of those now established. This plan has just been commenced. In the Rev. Mr. Ewing’s congregation, Falling Spring, eight individuals subscribed one barrel of flour each per year for six years, deliverable in Lynchburg. As a student’s proper course in the Seminary is three years, the term of six years, or two full courses, was selected, in order that the arrangement might have a degree of permanency as well as system. The ladies’ associations in Norfolk, Richmond, Petersburg, Lynchburg, Lexington, Greenville, Winchester, Danville, Milton, N. 0., and others which I am not yet acquainted with, intend to forward articles of diet, of clothings of room or table furniture, or money, as they may be able. By these and other arrangements it is hoped and believed that the expense of living may be so reduced that every student who is in debt, or who is afraid of debt, will find it his interest to enter at the Union Theological Seminary.”

The house especially designed for the Professor of Theology being in progress for speedy completion, the Board of Directors in May resolved — “1st. That after-the next session the whole basement story of the present building, and one or two rooms on the first floor, be appropriated to the use of the students for boarding. 2d. That the Board employ a person to superintend the cooking and washing for the students, at a salary not exceeding $10 per month, and pay the hire of servants to an amount not exceeding $120 per annum, provided funds are obtained for these objects during the summer. James D. Wood, H. E. Watkins and William H. Venable were requested to attend to the employment of a suitable manager. In this way the expense of board might be reduced to four dollars and a half per month. Large contributions of provisions would reduce it still more.” This plan went into successful operation, and for a number of years the price of board at the Seminary was extremely low. The rooms for students were also furnished in a neat and comfortable manner by individuals or associations in different parts of the country. And the Professor of Theology had the pleasure at one time of seeing about forty young men assembled, preparing for the toils and joys of a missionary’s life.

While Dr. Rice was preparing to make his visit to Boston according to the mutual arrangement of the previous summer, he received a communication from his friends there, which drew forth the following statement:

“March 31st, 1829.

“Your communication as to my proposed visit to Boston, has occasioned great perplexity. On my return home I found that we were to have near thirty students in our seminary. Our building is only fifty feet long and forty wide. And in this contracted space we have two professors, with their families and our students, except two or three who get lodging in the neighborhood. One room, not eighteen feet square, serves for our library, and lecture-room, and chapel. The professors have to study in their wives’ chambers. The students are obliged to live three in a room, and when the weather admits of it, to seek praying-places in the woods. It must be manifest to any one acquainted with study, that we suffer greatly from having to live in this crowded state. I found it so, and resolved that there must be a change. But in the state of utter exhaustion of the pecuniary resources of this region, it was in vain to think of applying to the people here for assistance. I however placed implicit confidence in the pledge given by my Boston friends, and determined that, in reliance on their constancy and good faith, I would make a contract for a building, payment for which should be made next June. Accordingly, I have pledged myself to an amount a little exceeding $5000 ; and hold myself bound to raise it by the time specified. For this my reliance was on my friends in Boston. It is true that there is left to me, after the various sacrifices which I have made, property worth about $5000 — one-fourth of what I once was worth. This I had thought it my duty to reserve, as I am advancing in life, and shall probably leave my wife behind me in this world, for the support of her to whom I am bound by every tie which can bind man to woman. I know well that in every age those who rise-up do not remember Joseph. Every sacrifice of worldly interest which I have made, was made by my wife as cheerfully, to say the least, as by me. But when I am gone, and she is old, there will then be a generation which will not know any of these things. I must, however, raise the money by some means, and if I fail, my little property must go. When it was known that I had ventured to make this contract, the people who knew my circumstances, asked me on what I relied to raise the money. I replied, On the faith of my friends in Boston — their promise is as good to me as money in the bank, to be drawn next June.’ They thought me rash in my procedure. Some said I would never get a cent. And so I was told in Philadelphia, and every place south of New York. Now, in the present state of things, I would not, for the value of the money, have it known that I was disappointed in the confidence placed in the Boston people. Of one thing I am pursuaded, that it is of some importance to the cause of religion, that in one way or another, I should get this money from Boston. I do not mean to whine about this matter, nor do I aim to excite any man’s commisseration. I know, that judged by the cautious policy of this world, I acted imprudently in making a contract, when there was, from the nature of the case, so much uncertainty. But when I saw and felt that interests, in my view, of the highest importance, were suffering for want of such measures as I adopted, I thought that I should betray a want of faith in the head of the church, of reliance on the promises of brethren, and of disinterestedness on my part, if I did not go forward and prepare to meet the consequences. I did so with my eyes open, and knowing that I was doing what the world calls a foolish thing.”

In May the Presbytery of Hanover held their sessions at the seminary ; and Dr. Rice had the pleasure of seeing the fruits of his labors in the proceedings of his co-Presbyters. Of the students of the seminary some were already ordained ministers and fellow-Presbyters with their beloved teacher. Others, as Drury Lacy, Noah Cook, Hiram Howe, Timothy Howe and Jonathan Cable, were, after due examination, taken under the care of Presbytery as candidates for the ministry; and Andrew Hart, John J. Roy all, John S. Watt, Daniel L. Russell and Samuel Hurd were duly licensed to preach the gospel; and the usual steps were taken for the ordination of Francis Bartlett as evangelist. After the meeting of Presbytery, Dr. Rice, accompanied by Mrs. Rice, whom the doctor had found a most efficient co-agent in the cities, visited New York and Boston. On his way he paused for a short visit in Philadelphia, to look in upon the Assembly, of which his brother Benjamin was moderator. Accompanied from New York by Mr. Knowles Taylor, on their way to Boston, they visited, at Middle Haddam, in Connecticut, the parents of the beloved James Brainard Taylor. By the exertions of his friends in Boston funds were obtained for the completing the professor’s house. About the 21st of July they reached home, much encouraged and refreshed. The dwelling, when completed, was called the Boston House.

From Statesville, North Carolina, he thus writes under date of Oct. 12th, 1829, respecting an agency he was induced to make immediately after the fall examination, in compliance with the wishes of the Board — “I wrote a very hasty note to you last Monday, just as I was setting out for Salisbury. I went that night to Mr. Stafford’s, and next day to Lincolnton, a distance of forty-four miles. On Wednesday I preached at Lincolnton, and went ten miles to General Graham’s, where I staid all night. Next day I went to a place called Unity, where I preached, and then went to Mr. Pharr’s ; next day I went to Hopewell, and preached, after which I went to Mr. John Williamson’s ; on Saturday I preached at a place called Centre, and went to the house of an old seceder named Young. At Centre I met with Albertus Watts, who came with me to Young’s; from that house I came to Statesville, where I preached yesterday in church, and last night in a tavern. To-day I shall let my lungs have rest, and to-morrow I expect to preach at one of the late Mr. Kilpatrick’s meeting-houses, called Third Creek; next day I am to preach for Mr. Stafford, at a church called Thyatira; from which place I shall go to Salisbury, and on the day after expect to set out for home. It is little that is done by an agent who just preaches and goes his way. My plan has been to lay the matter before the people, and fix on some one who seems most excited on the subject as a local agent; get such subscriptions as the people are ready to make at the time, and leave the subscription with the agent to do the rest. Some days I get $100, some $50, some $20. If on the whole we get $2000 subscribed, it will be more than I expect. Mr. Goodrich may succeed better, for he has gone to the best and thickest part of the Presbytery. The people here have many traits of character like those in the valley. They are hard to move, have strong local feelings, and many are not without the hope of having a theological seminary in Concord Presbytery.” The avails of this agency by Dr. Rice and Mr. Goodrich were expended in preparing the dwelling for a professor at the east of the seminary, called the Carolina house, first occupied by Mr. Goodrich, and afterwards by Dr. Graham, and by Dr. Sampson.

Reaching home, Dr. Rice found Mrs. Rice keeping house in the newly-finished Boston house, in which Mr. Goodrich’s family were also accommodated; and the whole of the east wing of the Seminary given up to the use of the students. On the 24th he met his Presbytery in Hanover, and on tlie 28th he met the Synod of Virginia in Richmond. Together with Dr. Speece and Wm. Maxwell, Esq., he was appointed to communicate the action of the Synod to the President of the Convention to form a new State Constitution—“ Resolved, unanimously, That the Synod of Virginia have observed with great satisfaction, that the Convention now assembled to form a new Constitution for the people of this Commonwealth, are proposing and doubtless intending to preserve and perpetuate the sacred principle, Liberty of Conscience, declared in the Bill of Rights, and developed in the act establishing religious freedom as a part of the fundamental law of the land : and they do hereby solemnly proclaim that they continue to esteem and cherish that principle for which the Presbyterian Church of this State, and throughout the United States, have ever zealously and heartily contended, as the dearest right, and the most precious privilege that freemen can enjoy.”

On the second day of the session, Oct. 29th, 1829, the Presbytery of Hanover, the mother of Presbyteries, was again, by the act of Synod, at its own request, divided. The two Presbyteries were named East Hanover and West Hanover. The boundary line finally adjusted was on the lines of Brunswick, Nottoway, Amelia, Powhatan, Goochland, and Spottsylvania. By the agreement of Hanover Presbytery, in preparation for the division, two days before it took place —“ The records to be copied at joint expense of the two Presbyteries, under the direction of the Stated Clerk of Hanover Presbytery. The Original Records shall be retained by the East Hanover Presbytery.” There were two copies of the records—from the commencement of Presbytery down to about 1804. The one the original records by different clerks ; the other, a copy made by order of Presbytery by their stated clerk, Mr. Lacy. The copies to be made by this order were to be disposed of according to seniority. East Hanover, embracing the residence of the first preachers, Davies and Todd, took the older copy. It was agreed that the “permanent funds of the Education and Missionary Societies, and of the Book Concern, shall belong to that Presbytery within whose bounds they were originally raised.” Mr. B. H. Rice took his dismission from Presbytery to remove to the city of New York.

To Dr. Woods, of Andover, Dr. Rice writes, on the 12th of November, 1829—“I was obliged to set out, the day after an examination, (in September,) to North Carolina, to attend to the interests , of our Seminary; and I could not return till about the 20th of October. It was then my duty to go to Presbytery and Synod. I have been just a week at home, nearly confined to my house with a bad cold. And what aggravates the case, we have weather as severe, as, in ordinary seasons, we have at Christmas. I have been obliged to overwork myself, and begin the present term worn down with excessive labor. But I do not repine. I only mention these things to show why I have been so slow in answering your last acceptable and affectionate letter.” In the winter succeeding, the Professor was employed in the duties of his office, and hastening to an unexpected close. The mortal frame, oppressed with the efforts of the mind, was even now tottering; and while the Professor never appeared better before his students, that exceeding interest was extracted from the essence of his life.

In the month of April, 1830, he commenced a Series of Historical and Philosophical Considerations on Religion. In addressing them to James Madison, Esq., late. President of the United States, he says I should not have presumed to bring your name before the public in this manner, had I not been permitted to observe you in the late Convention of Virginia, and to see in you the same pious, enlightened, and dignified friend of rational liberty, that you showed yourself to be forty years ago, in that celebrated Convention, which, after a most able discussion, ratified the Federal Constitution. It was principally your agency, which carried the Act for Securing Religious Liberty, through the Legislature of Virginia, in 1785. And as one important object of the following papers is to show how the freedom, which we now happily enjoy, may be perpetuated—I trust that you will pardon the presumption of inscribing these papers to you.” These papers, received with marked approbation, were continued through fifteen numbers : the last appearing in Oct., 1830. A reprint was called for : and the Dr. made an effort to bring them to the proposed conclusion in Feb., 1831, but his sinking health forbade his putting a finishing hand to a work of extended usefulness, and not the least in ability, of his varied efforts to interest and instruct the public.

In March, 1830, to Mr. Knowles Taylor he writes — “My spirits have not been good since Christmas, and one reason is, that I have had too much to do; another is, that my health has been much less firm than common; and for the last six weeks I have been consumed by a slow, debilitating fever, which has put it out of my power to do anything at all. This makes all my work move on slowly. We have this winter thirty-five students, and a very fine spirit of piety amongst them.” This slow fever never left him ; it finally laid him in his grave. In May he visited New York to attend to the collection of the instalments for the Seminary. Ilis health and strength were refreshed by the excursion. In the summer, besides the professor’s duties, and the papers addressed to Mr. Madison, he commenced the memoir of James B. Taylor, and left the work to be finished by his brother, Benjamin II. Rice. At the Commencement of the College in September he was complimented by his friends on account of his apparently improved health, in which they all rejoiced, not knowing that it was the insidious flush of fever. He went again to New York to finish the collection of the subscription to the Seminary. And it was ever a matter of thankfulness to him that, rebuked in the spring for leaving Mrs. Rice at home, he had taken her along with him on this his last visit. Visiting the towns on the North River, he encountered a succession of heavy rains. In Hudson he was seized with a severe cold, which fastened upon his lungs. His breast, throat and face became inflamed. Turning his face homeward, struggling with disease, he kept the great object of his 28 journey in view. Passing through Princeton, he rested for the last time under the roof of his friend, Dr. Alexander. The enjoyments of friendship rose superior to the sufferings of his body, and this last interview was sweet. Dr. Rice was looking on his friend Alexander as leading on a Seminary to the highest excellence; and Dr. Alexander rejoiced in his friend Rice, as doing for his native State a work far beyond his utmost imaginings. One who often witnessed the meetings of these men, thought that in dignity, simplicity, kindness, and unreserved frankness, he had never seen anything to compare. There was a blending of the old Roman Senators, fit to be kings, with the meekness and gentleness of Christian men, fit to be God’s ministers.

In Philadelphia he was seized with one of those painful strictures, which increased upon him during his life. His friends showed him all the kindness that a knowledge that this was his last visit could have prompted. In Baltimore he passed a night with his friend Mr. Wirt, and received his best attentions, full of tenderness becoming the last, but full of expectation of many meetings to come. Taking the steamboat to Norfolk, he parted with his friend Maxwell, who finally manifested the fulness of his friendship in a memoir of his friend. In Richmond he passed the Sabbath with “his own people ” as he called them, and preached twice with great acceptance. The next day he set off, in his own small carriage, with Mrs. Rice, and on Tuesday reached the Seminary to go away no more. In the duties of his office he for a time forgot his disease. His last efforts seemed to his classes more and more full of excellence. His mind took a wider view and more powerful grasp of the subjects before him. In November, 1830, he wrote to Dr. Wisner, of Boston, on the condition of the Church and the world — “I regard the human race as at this moment standing on the covered crater of a volcano, in which elementary fires are raging with the intensity of the prophet ordained of old. Heaven has provided conductors of wonderful power, by which this heat may be diffused as a general warmth and a cheering light through the world. And the necessary process must be performed by the Church. Otherwise there will be an explosion, which will shatter to pieces every fabric of human hope and comfort. Nothing but one strong feeling can put down another. Our learned doctors may wear out their pens and put out their eyes, and they and their partizans will be of the same opinion still. The Church is not to be purified by controversy, but by love. I have, therefore, brought my mind to the conclusion, that the thing most needed at this present time is a revival of religion among Christians, and especially a larger increase of holiness among ministers.”

On the second Sabbath of the following December he delivered his last sermon. His hearers were the citizens living in the neighborhood of the Seminary, assembled in the brick church. He presented in striking language the contest about to take place between the Church and the world, as it appeared to his mental vision. With unusual earnestness he exhorted his hearers to come out more palpably from the world. This sermon his hearers delighted to call to mind long after his voice was hushed in the grave. When the people found that this was the last they should hear from the beloved man, they all joined in the conclusion that he could not have closed his ministry more becomingly. Dr. Rice lay down upon his bed, a slowly dying man. Having actively done his master’s will for years, he came now to suffer it, for many successive months.


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