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their members, warring against the law of their mind. And when from the bed of sickness, and from the judgment seat, they take a review of their life, they will be astonished to see how little of their proper work they accomplished, and with the deepest emotion wil. acknowledge that they were always, even in their best estate, monuments of the forbearance and mercy of God.
And yet Christians are in reality followers of Jesus. They have a degree of that holiness, which he had in perfection. They begin to love and obey that law, which he loved and obeyed constantly and entirely. And they begin to possess that moral purity, which he possessed without mixture. Thus having a real though a partial likeness to Christ, and truly following him, though at a distance and with faltering steps, they do, in their humble and imperfect measure, glorify God, and accomplish the great object of their existence. Through the constant aids of the Holy Spirit, they so far finish the work which God gave them to do, that they are, through Christ, accepted of him, and, as good and faithful servants, admitted to the rewards of grace. In this qualified sense, the apostle said, when the time of his departure was at hand, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;” though he had always been conscious that he was not yet perfect, and the highest point he ever reached was to forget the things which were behind, and to press forward to higher attainments, earnestly desiring and laboring after perfection in holiness. And in this sense our beloved brother, whose funeral services we are now called to attend, could, we doubt not, have adopted the words of Jesus: “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do."
Doctor Porter was born at Cornwall, Conn., Oct. 8, 1772. At the age of seven he went with his father's family to Vermont, where he remained till he commenced his preparation for a public profession. He was graduated at Dartmouth College, A. D. 1792. While a member of College, and through the whole period of his childhood and youth, he was remarkable for his regular and sober habits. During the time that he spent with his father, he acquired a taste for agricultural and mechanical labor, which proved of immense benefit to his health in after life. He had impressions, while young, of the importance and nesessity of religion : but at what time he first gave evidence of decided piety, I have not been particularly informed. After pursuing theological study under the direction of two distinguished ministers in Connecticut, the Rev. Dr. Edwards, then of New Haven, and the Rev. Dr. Smalley, he entered on the business of the gospel ministry, and was ordained as pastor of the church in Washington, Conn., in Oct. 1796. His pastoral relation to that church was dissolved in Dec. 1811, with a view to his accepting the appointment he had received to the Professorship of Sacred Rhetoric in this Seminary.
In common with other Christians, Dr. Porter stood in a variety of domestic and social relations. It is hardly necessary to say, that the original qualities of his mind and heart, together with his habits and manners, eminently qualified him to sustain these relations, and to perform the various duties involved in them, to the satisfaction and profit of others. And here let me say, what ought never to be forgotten, that a good private character, by which I mean a kind and amiable disposition, and upright and blameless conduct in domestic and social life, is essential to prepare a man for any important public station. Accordingly, when the apostle undertakes to describe the qualifications which should be found in a Christian minister, he insists particularly upon the importance of the domestic and social virtues. And sorrowful experience has often shown what a fruitful source of evil it is for a man to be put into the ministry, whose disposition is selfish, proud, resentful, or peevish, or who is wanting in probity, or fairness, or any of the qualities which constitute a good private character. The case of our departed brother happily illustrates the peculiar value of a benevolent, upright, generous, and conciliatory disposition not only as it renders a man agreeable and useful in private, but as it combines its influence with other and higher attributes of character, to qualify him for usefulness in the most public station.
As a minister of the gospel, Dr. Porter was distinguished for the excellencies of his character. So he was regarded by the church and congregation to which he ministered. So he was regarded also by his brethren in the sacred office, and, to a great extent, by the com: munity. He had that combination of intellectual and moral qualities, which constitutes a permanently useful preacher. His understanding was lucid and discriminating; his imagination fertile, and remarka bly chaste; and his heart susceptible of strong and tender emotion. He was always serious and affectionate; and none who attended his ministry could doubt, that the principle which governed him, was love to Christ and to the souls of men. His habit of reasoning was logical and convincing; and his taste, uncommonly pure and classical. He felt an utter repugnancy to all affected grandeur and floridness of language, to every thing which savored of pomp or ostentation, or tended to obscurity. His style was simple, neat, perspicuous, and dignified, suited to convey to his hearers the clear and orderly con. ceptions of his own cultivated mind. He was endued with an in. stinctive and delicate discernment of what was just and proper, whether in thought or expression. In respect both to the words and phrases he employed, and to their arrangement and sense, he always spoke in pure English. Where is the preacher or writer, whose style is more entirely free from every thing provincial, obsolete, pedantie, or ambiguous, or exhibits a more happy union of simplicity and ornament? As a speaker, he had many excellencies, and few faults. His sermons were doctrinal and practical. They set forth the truths of religion in their scriptural form, and carried them out into their practical uses. His appeals to the conscience and heart were direct and faithful, and often awakening and impressive. A good measure of success attended his ministry, both in the conversion of sinners and the advancement of believers in holiness; which last was as real an object with him as the former. He lived in a time of revivals, and had a marked agency in promoting them.
In February, 1812, he was introduced into the Bartlett Professorship of Sacred Rhetoric in this Institution, the office having been vacated by the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Griffin. Dr. Porter's previous acquaintance with the duties and trials of the pastoral office, together with his intellectual and moral qualifications, fitted him to en. ter, with pleasing prospects of success, on that department of labor, and to exert a most happy influence in training up young men for the ministry. In the variety of duties which fell to him in the Institution, he had ample use for all his talents and acquisitions; for all his accuracy, and taste, and judgment; for all his activity, patience, and skill. His usefulness was answerable to his peculiar qualifications, and to his habitual and persevering diligence. Any man who takes into view the good which he accomplished by his instructions in the Seminary, and the works which he published in relation to the difficult business of his department, and considers the intrinsic value of those works and the high estimation in which they are held, will see that he possessed powers and acquisitions of no ordinary character, and that his time here did not pass away without substantial results.
It was a matter of conscience with Dr. Porter to bend his efforts, first of all, to the appropriate objects of his own department; secondarily, to the general interests of the Institution; and then to the wel. fare of the churches, and the success of Christianity at home and abroad. It was his persuasion, and the persuasion was very just, that he was under imperious obligations as a Christian, and as a Professor
too, to do all in his power, consistently with his official duties, to promote benevolent societies, literary and religious institutions, revivals of religion, and every object relating to the salvation of men. Indeed he was well aware that the permanent usefulness of this theological establishment could not be secured alone, but was essentially connect. ed with the general prosperity of the church, and the flourishing state of our various public institutions. To these institutions he had a steady, strong, enlightened attachment. And he not only felt an interest in them, and prayed for their success, but was always ready to aid them, to the full extent of his ability, both by his personal ser. vices and by pecuniary contributions. He gave liberally to charitable institutions generally. But he contributed more particularly to this Seminary, and the American Education Society. In each of these he founded two scholarships, amounting in the whole to four thousand dollars; besides the very generous aid which he afforded to the Porter Rhetorical Society in the purchase of its library. To the American Education Society he also gave the greater part of his property, by his Will. It ought to be added, that the example of pious charity which he exhibited, had a happy effect on the conduct of others. For such was the confidence of the Christian community in the soundness of his judgment and the purity of his motives, that his contributing to any object had an influence to secure generous contributions from many others.
In every part of the business which he undertook, he evinced a remarkable degree of practical wisdom. In regard to any object which was brought before him, he inquired not only whether it was good in itself, but whether it was practicable. His judgment on all questions of this kind, being grounded on just views of the interests of religion, and a very accurate discernment of the characters of men, was seldom mistaken. And it was by no means uncommon for those who were associated with him in important public transactions, to distrust their own opinion, as soon as they found it different from his.
Dr. Porter possessed the peculiar qualifications which are requisite in a presiding officer. He had kindness of disposition, and uncommon self-control; sterling intelligence, and Christian decision. He exhibited politeness without affectation, dignity without pride, and strict adherence to rules of order, without pertinacity. And he was distinguished for his skill and despatch in business. With these qualifications, he was often called to preside on public occasions. And when the office of President was established in this Institution, he was at once selected by his colleagues, as well as by the guardians of the Institution, to fill that office. The manner in which he presided, both here and elsewhere, was always unexceptionable and entirely satisfactory
He united two qualities, which sometimes exist separately, in dif. ferent individuals, but which seldom exist together, so eminently as they did in him: I mean the ability to devise great and judicious plans of usefulness, and the ability to carry forward those plans to a complete accomplishment. Some men, possessing warmth of imagi. nation without judgment, and zeal without either discretion or patience, are very fruitful in devising great plans of benevolence, but always leave the execution to other hands. Making schemes is more easy and pleasant to them, than patient, persevering labor. Not so with Dr. Porter. He was the man, whose wisdom was sought in devising plans of usefulness; and he was the man, to whom the full execution of them could be safely entrusted. And all with whom he was connected felt this to be specially the case, when the execution was attended with great difficulty, and called for more than usual skill, and resolution, and perseverance.
Dr. Porter was a man of exemplary modesty amd humility. Who ever had reason to suppose that he thought of himself more highly than he ought to think? that in any respect he over-rated his talents, his influence, his services, or his piety? When and where did he expect an honor, which others were not ready to bestow upon him, or manifest the feeling that he was not held high enough among
his brethren? It was far otherwise. He was so evidently unassuming and humble, that, although he was always, in all societies, placed among the first in point of influence, no one envied him, or felt the least uneasiness that his talents or services were estimated so bighly.
At the present day, when there is so much self-seeking, and love of pre-eminence, and so much strife for influence and promotion, it is a happy thing, and a subject of lively gratitude to God, to find a man of high place in the Christian community, who is clothed with humility; a disinterested, straight-forward, and guileless man, who cares less for his own things than for the things which are Christ's; who will begin and end a great undertaking without any scheme for his own interest or honor; who will say just what he means, and do just what he says. Such was the man who has been taken from us.
So he was regarded by all acquainted with him. His Christian integrity and disinterestedness were very manifest, both in his public and private life.