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Here, too, he first became acquainted with the principles of Moral Philosophy; and whilst from the lectures of Doddridge, and the essays of Locke, his mind derived vigor and energy; from the study of the Latin poets, and the classic authors of our own country, it gained amusement, and his compositions gradually assumed an air of elegance and ease.
But not only in literature and science was his pro. gress conspicuous during his residence at Harwich; but he also made considerable advances in the knowledge and experience of divine things. That in the midst of all his studies, which yet lie pursued with diligence and ardor, religion was the object of his chief regard and dearest to his heart, is evident from the uniform strain of his letters to his most iniimate and beloved friend Mr. Heward, whose fellow laborer he had been at Mr. Thodey's, and the privation of whose society he seemed deeply to deplore. His views of the Christian ministry became more and more consistent, and the impression of its vast iin. portance more deep and solemn on his mind. The intense desire with which he panted for that sacred and honorable office became tempered, though never checked by an awe of its vast responsibility, and a consciousness of incapacity for the full discharge of its numerous and laborious duties.
With Mr. Hordle he would sometimes indulge in the most free and unreserved converse on the state of his heart, and his private walk with God. In such conversations he was always much affected, and susceptible, from the constitution of his nature, of the most delicate impressions and the keenest feelings, it may be well supposed that in religion he would deeply feel. Hence the tenderness of his conscience, and the susceptibility of his mind, would
often overwhelm his bosom with convictions of guilt, and agitate him with unnumbered in ward conflicts. Yet in the midst of all he evidently grew in spiritual strength his mind acquired confidence-his princi. ples became daily more and more confirmed-and he had advanced far in a deep and experimenial acquaintance with the ways of God at an age when such advancement is rarely to be found.
Whilst at Harwich he regularly shared with Mr. H. the pleasing duty of conducting the devotions of the family, and frequently performed the sacred service with an enlargement of heart, a fervor and propriety of expression truly astonishing. But this was a circumstance he particularly wished should be con. cealed; his modesty and diffidence shrunk from the observation of men, even of his nearest friends; and in one of his letters to his friend* he writes, “My situation is comfortable, more so than ever; I am con. sidered like one of the family; of an evening I gencrally, by Mr. H.'s desire, engage in family prayer, he in the morning. O tell it to nobody on any account. When he is out I always do.”
To those who knew not the beloved original, the outlines of whose character these pages but imper: fectly present, the detail of minute particulars may be uninteresting and insipid; but those who were familiar with him will dwell with pleasure on the faintest lineament that may be here preserved of a dear departed friend, so ardently, so deservedly es. teemed; whilst a combination of these varied and retired beauties may form a portrait on which the eye of a stranger may dwell with admiration, and the mind reflect with profit. It is in confidence of this that his biographer pauses to record another and
* Mr. Heward.
a pleasing trait in his character at this early agethe peculiar warmth and constancy of his friendship. He secms, indeed, at this period to have had but one bosom friend, except those of his own immediate family; to him his letters breathe an affection the most glowing, spiritual, and pure; and perhaps no little incident more strikingly displays the tender cast of his mind than that which he himself relates, with great simplicity, in a letter to his friend:
"This morning we reac! (Mr. H. and myself) the second night of Young's Night Thoughts the ve. ry place that treats of friendship; I was rather affected at the reading of it; and after it was finished, and we were alone, I told him (Mr. H.) I was no stran. ger to Young's sentiments in that place. He asked me 'if I had lost any friends?' I told him no-not by death. He asked me if I had by treachery? Oh no, Sir. 'How then? Only by separation!”
Thus in pleasant and familiar intercourse with one for whom he mingled veneration with affection, and of whom he never ceased to speak with all the rap. turous energy of gratitude and filial love-in exerci. ses and pursuits every way adapted to satisfy his ar. dent thirst of knowledge in scenes and in society congenial to the tone and bias of his mind in conscientious preparation for closer studies and severer labor, previous to his er:trance on that sacred office long the object of his choice and in deep commu. nion with himself and God- did he pass the allotted period of his stay at Harwich.
As the term (a year) fixed for his residence with Mr. Hordle drew towards its close, his anxiety considerably increased; he anticipated, with regret, a departure from scenes and society so much endeared to him; and the trial through which he was to pass
previous to his admission into the academy at Hoxton, when viewed in connexion with his youth, exci. ted in his mind considerable apprehension and dread. But the hope of success never entirely abandoned him; whilst the pleasing prospect of being again associated with his friend, who had by this time entered as a student in the same academy, tended not a little to gladden and animate his heart.
In November he drew up a statement of his religious experience, his views of theological truth, and his reasons for desiring the christian ministry, according to a standing order of the academy with respect to young men proposing themselves as candidates for its patronage. These papers, written in a style of dignified simplicity, and disclosing a knowledge and experience of divine things, which in a south, scarcely sixteen years of age; must have excited the admiration of all to whom they were submitted, were duly presented to the committee, and passed, though not without some difficulty', arising from his age; but the extraordinary qualifications he appear. ed to possess, and the strong recommendations of his friend and tutor, Mr. Hordle, overcame this obstacle, and the 5th of January following was appointed for his personal appearance before the constituents of that institution, in order to give them a specimen of his talents for public speaking.
Mr. Spencer left Mr. Hordle's family on the 18th of December, and spent the interval of time between his departure from Harwich and the day of his ex. amination at Hoxton (which was postponed to the 7th of January) at his father's house at Hertford.
Whose imagination does not follow this beloved youth into the bosom of his family again; who does not picture to himself the charming scenes of social
and domestic joy his presence would inspire. With what tenderness and affection would his venerable father bid him welcome to his paternal home again; with what delight would he gaze upon the animated features of his countenance, smiling in all the ingenuousness of youth; while with nobler feelings of delight he marked the unfolding graces of his mind, saw his improvement in the best of sciences religion, and beheld him daily growing in favor both with God and man. With what adoring gratitude would they retrace together the scenes of his childhood, and the many alarming obstacles which once almost for. bad the indulgence of a hope that the object of their ardent wish would ever be obtained; aud how, in the transport of those happy hours, would his family an. ticipate for him they loved, in the future stages of an honorable ministry, years of usefulness and comfort. Ah! pleasing visions never to be realized! Little did that interesting groupe conceive that it was his appointed lot but just to taste the joys and sorrows of a pastor's life, and then expire. Already they had seen the bud swelling with fulness-teeming with life; now they beheld the blossom, and ad. mired its beauty; and they thought long to gaze upon the promised charms of the unfolded flower; happy strangers of the nielancholy and mysterious fact, that so soon as it had opened it must be suddenly cut down and die! But such and so frail is man-“In the morning they are like grass that groweth up, in the evening it is cut down and withereth."-Psalm xc, 5, 6. Such and so uncertain is human life."It is even as a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”-James iv, 14.
At this interesting period of Mr. Spencer's life it will be perhaps gratifying to the reader to pause, and