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MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOSHUA HUNTINGTON, LATE PASTOR OF THE
OLD SOUTH CHURCH, BOSTON.
It has long been a subject of regret to us, that we have not been able to record in our pages memorials of several distinguished servants of God, whom He bas seen fit to remove, within a few years past, from their terrestrial Jaborg. We are particularly unwilling to let this closing number of our work go abroad, without offering a tribute of affection and respect to the memory of an excellent and useful minister of the Gospel, whom we personally knew, from his admission into college till his death; whose unvarying friendship we enjoyed; and whose character excites in our minds recollections of the most pleasing kind,
We experience the happiness of seeing embodied, in the person of a departed friend and a herald of salvation, those amiablo and desirable qualities, on which the eye dwells with unmingled satisfaction.
The Rev. Joshua Huntington was the second son of Gen. Jedidiah Huntington, late of New London, (Con.) and was born Jan. 31, 1786. The father was extensively known by his public services, and by bis private beneficence. He served in the American army during the war of the revolution, leaving it with the rank of brigadier general; enjoyed the entire confidence of Gen. Washington, with whom he was particularly acquainted; and was appointed by that illustrious statesman, when first organizing the governinent under the federal constitution, to an office of trust and profit, which he held till near the close of life. But the greatest distinction of Gen. Huntington was the eminence of lois Christian character. His benevolence to the poor, his liberality to the religious charities of the day, his humility, his disinterestedness, his meek and retiring deportment, fixed his character, through a long series of years, as ranking with men of the highest evangelical virtue. To those who knew the son, this allusion to the father will hardly appear a digression. Seldom bave the virtues of a parent been so faithfully transcribed into the life of a child.
The subject of this sketch entered Yale College in the autumn of 1800. During the four years of his residence there, he was unblamable in his morals, and attentive to his studies. In the great revival of religion, with which that institution was favored in 1802, he became hopefully pious, and soon after joined the college church. In 1804 he VOL. XV.
was admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts; and, in regular course, to the degree of master of arts, three years afterwards. On leaving college, at the close of 1804, he commenced the study of theology, with several other young men, under the direction of the late Dr. Dwight. How long he pursued his studies at New Haven, we are not able to state; but he subsequently spent considerable time at Goshen, Con. in the family of the late Rev. Asabel Brooker, then minister of that place, who had been in the habit of instructing students in tbeology.
Early in 1807, Mr. Huntington began to preach, having finished the ordinary course of theological education, and been examined and approved, according to the ecclesiastical usages of this country. He was then only twenty-one years old, and his appearance was that of a much younger person; yet such was the solemnity of his manner, such the earnestness and propriety of his delivery, and the importance of the truths preached, that he was beard with uncommon interest and attention. Few young men have been received with more decided marks of approbation, on their first entering the pulpit; yet we never heard that it produced in him any indication of vanity, or any bankering after human applause. This we consider as a most remarkable triumph of good sense and piety over the love of distinction.
During the year that Mr. Huntington preached as a candidate, the people, in each of several vacant parishes, were desirous of obtaining him for their minister. He received two formal invitations, on the same day; one from the Old South Church, Boston, and the other from the Congregational Church, in Middletown, Con. About the same time, he received an invitation from another church, in a pleasant and populous town. The unanimity with which these calls were offered, by the most respectable congregations, in different parts of the country, is proof that the person, to whom they were addressed, was a youth of distinguished promise.
After serious deliberation, and with the most judicious advice, he accepted the invitation from the Old South Church, and was ordained as colleague pastor with the late Rev. Dr. Eckley, May 18, 1808. His station was now highly responsible, and his duties arduous. The charge of souls is at all times, and under the most favorable circumstances, exceedingly weighty; and, were it not for the divine promises, would be overwhelming. But to the ordinary difficulties of the Chris. tian ministry were to be added, in this case, the dangers and perplexities, which might be expected to arise from the prevalence of ruinous errors in religion. To preach the truth faithfully and fearlessly;—to avoid undue compliances with the wishes of persons, whose respect and confidence it is desirable to retain;—and to bear a decided testimony against popular delusions, which are patronized by men of talents and influence, and powerfully commended to the feelings of the natural heart;ấto do all this resolutely, and yet temperately and meekly, argues extraordinary force of principle and great maturity of judgment.
In the discharge of liis pastoral duties, and throughout his whole character', Mr. Huntington remarkably exemplified the beauty and propriety of the apostolic injunction; Let no man despise thy youth. A becoming gravity on all occasions; a deep solemnity when engaged
? in sacred services;-a reverential awe in the peculiar presence of God,
were observable; and his general demeanor was such, as to elevate the ministerial character in the minds of men, and to prepare the way for communicating public instructions with effect.
In 1809 Mr. Huntington was married to Miss Susan Mansfield, I daughter of the Rev. Achilles Mansfield, the highly respected pastor
of the Congregational church in Killingworth, Con. Happy in this endearing relation, he saw with parental tenderness a young family rising around him. The ties of a husband and a father laid fast hold of his affections, and bound him strongly to this world. But at the call of God, he could calmly endure a separation from the dearest
earthly friends, and leave his wife and children to a kind Providence. * E He had not quite completed the third year of his ministry, when the - senjor pastor was suddenly removed by death; and the weight of a # Jarge church and congregation rested upon him. Though deeply feel.
ing bis increased responsibility, he was not disheartened, but continued his faithful Jabors with alacrity and zeal. At times he felt overwhelmed with the number and importance of the duties, which devolved upon him; and could then find no adequate encouragement, but in the promises of Christ; Lo, I am with you alway, and My grace shall be sufficient for thee. In the steady, noiseless, conscientious discharge of his official functions did this good man persevere, without any remarkable era in his life, till he was summoned to an early tomb. His progress was that of increasing usefulness, and extending reputation, and a most evident preparation for a better world.
A close attention to the services, which were expected of him, and which it was his delight to render, gradually undermined a constitution far from robust. Several times he had been obliged to intermit his parochial labors for a season; but a resort to travelling had usually given bim recruited health and vigor. In the spring and summer of 1819, he experienced considerable debility, and determined upon another journey. He did not find it convenient, however, to leave the people of his charge, till the 19th of July, when he commenced a tour of more than 1700 miles, in company with a beloved friend and brother in the ministry. Though feeble when his journey was commenced, he wrote from Saratoga springs, that he thought his health essentially improved; and that he expected to return to his people, prepared by a great increase of strength to serve them more effectually, than he had before been able to do for a long time. After having been at the springs for ten or twelve days, his letters mentioned the intensity of the heat, and his depression in consequence of it. He appeared to suffer greatly from the same cause, during his journey to the Niagara frontier, and while passing down lake Ontario. His last letter, written to Mrs. Huntington from Montreal, Aug. 23rd, mentioned his having been quite sick the day before, in returning from Quebec; but added. that he was then very well, and thought he should be better for this
• The Old South Church and Society, with a commendable liberality, have exhibited to other churches an example worthy to be imitated in similar cases. They granted to the family of their pastor the continuance of his salary, and the use of the parsonage house, for & rear from Oct. 1, 1819, and a thousand dollars annually for six succeeding years.
t The Rev. Mr. Dwight, pastor of Park Street Church, Boston.
short illness. In the beginning of the letter, written two days before, he says, "Should I not feel it my duty to spend a week at the springs on my way, I shall be at liome, a kind Providence permitting, the last of next week: I say duty, for nothing else could detain me longer frue you and my people." The next day he parted with Mr. Dwight at Whitehall, and look the nearest route to Boston. In consequence of some irregularity of the stages, he was disappointed in not obtaining four or five bour's sleep, as he had expected, on Wednesday night, bas was obliged to ride the whole time. In the course of Thursday, he was seized so violently, that he was compelled to leave the stage at Groton, thirty miles from Boston, where he was kindly and hospitably received by the Rev. Dr. Chaplin and his family, and where he experienced every attention and alleviation, which it was in the power of Christian benevolence and medical skill to afford. Here he languishod of a fever for sixteen days, and sunk to rest on Saturday, Sept. 11th, in the twelfth year of bis ministry, and the thirty-fourth of his age.
In the early stages of the disease, it was not apprehended to be peculiarly dangerous. Several times it appeared to yield to medicine; but afterwards returned with increased violence. His wise, a brother, and several members of his churclı, were with him during the latter part of his sickness. Soon after Mrs. Huntington's arrival, she ex. pressed a hope that God had been with him; to which he answered, “Yes, I think he lias; but I have not all the time enjoyed that sensible communion with Him, which I could wish."
On the day before lis death, he was pronounced convalescent, and sat up a little; but within an hour or two after being removed to his bed, his feet grew cold. No other change was observed. His brother attempted to ascertain the state of his mind, in reference to the approaching event. In answer to an inquiry, whether he felt himself safe with God, lie, replied, "I think I do.” On a confidence being expressed, that he felt the consolations of that religion, which lie bad preached to others, and could say, Whom have I in heaven but Thee; and there is noue upon earth that I desire beside Thee, he answered, that he believed he did feel thus, and could adopt this Janguage. His brother inquired, “Do you feel yourself failing?” He answered in the affirmative. His brother then said, 'that he hoped, as the outer man failed, the inner man could take hold of divine strength.' He replied, “I trust it can." His brother added, "He is faithful, who has promised; and He has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." With a look of the most inspiring confidence Mr. H. rejoined, “Oh yes; that is all my hope. I should be a miserable creature without that; but there is firm footing.” The intimation of his approaching dissoJution did not disturb his serenity. Mrs. Huntington observed, that it would be but a little while before she should follow him; to which he replied, “() no; in a little time He, that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.”
In the evening, Lieut. Governor Phillips and his lady, sustaining the ncar relation of members of the church to which he ministerre, went into his chamber to take a farewell, and to comfort him in this trying hour, The Lieut. Governor observed, (in reference to the
death of Gen. Huntington, which took place nearly a year before,) that he was now going to meet his father. He answered, “Yes;-it will be a glorious meeting.” When Mrs. Phillips subsequently expressed a liope of soon meeting him in heaven, he made the same reply, and added the words “glorious, glorious.” During the interview he observed, that he was a poor unworthy sinner.” It was said in answer, that we were all sinners, but that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. He exclaimed, “() yes, that is a precious doctrine.". It was extremely difficult for him to speak; but the state of his mind, during his whole sickness, was evidently that of filial resignation to the will of his heavenly Father, and entire acquiescence in the dispensations of Providence. It is not known that he expressed, or felt, any solicitude with respect to the event of his sickness. When told, that many prayers were offered in his behalf by his people, he replied; "] know it; and that has been a great comfort to me." On another occasion, his wife tenderly suggested to him, that God was his rock and his refuge,--his strong tower, to which he could continually resort. He assented to the remark, and added, that "none but God could have supported him, as he had been supported, through such a season of affliction;" and that, wif God spared his life, he thonght he should be a better minister, than he had ever been before."
Between twelve and one o'clock, on Saturday morning, the happy spirit was released from its tabernacle of clay. Deeply afflicted as were many Christian friends, they could not but experience a sacred joy in contemplating that victory over death and the grave, in which, as they confidently trusted, their departed brother had participated. · On the succeeding Monday, the mortal remains were interred in Boston, with appropriate exercises and great solemnity. A sermon was delivered on the occasion by the Rev. Mr. Dwight, in the Old South Church, where an immense concourse was assembled to express their interest in this solemn event, and to pay a public tribute to distinguished worth. The clergy of Boston and the vicinity, the members of the church and congregation of which the deccascd had been pastor, and a multitude of other acquaintances and friends, united with the bereaved family and relatives, in deploring their common loss, while they praised God for the bright example of Christian virtue, which they had witnessed. The spacious house of worship, where the Jast sad offices were performed, was so crowded, that many hundreds tried in vain to get admittance. The tokens of unaffected mourning were so numerous and so inpressive, that it could not be doubtful, in what high and affectionate estimation the character of the departed minister and friend was held.
In tracing the lineaments of this character it is almost impossible to mistake those great and distinguishing virtues, which must have been recognized by every attentive observer. “Religious integrity' was correctly stated, in the sermon delivered at his funeral, to be the
foundation of Mr. Huntington's character. On this foundation the superstructure was reared with beautiful symmetry. By religious in. tegrity we here intend a disposition to labor in the ministry, from a supreme and constant reference to the glory of God; from a habitual regard to the Gospel, just as it stands in the Bible, as the only ground