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MEMOIR OF REV. DOCTOR GRIFFIN.

CHAPTER I.

FROM HIS BIRTH TO THE TIME OF HIS SETTLEMENT AT

NEW-HARTFORD.

EDWARD DORR GRIFFIN was born at East Haddam, Connecticut, January 6, 1770. His father was GEORGE GRIFFIN, a wealthy farmer, a man of a vigorous intellect, of great enterprise, and of a superior education for a common one of that day. His mother was Eve DORR, of Lyme, and is said to have been distinguished for her lovely and engaging qualities. She belonged to a family strongly marked by good sense, and extensively known in the civil history both of the state and nation.* He had two brothers, (Col. Josiah GRIFFIN, of East Haddam, and GEORGE GRIFFIN, Esq. an eminent lawyer of the city of New-York,) and five sisters, all of whom were married. He was named after

• Her mother was a sister of the first Governor GRISWOLD. VOL. I.

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his uncle, the Reverend EDWARD Dorr, of Hartford, and was, in the intention of his parents, devoted to the ministry from his birth ; a circumstance which was certainly somewhat singular, as neither of his parents at that time made any pretensions to piety. His uncle, who married a daughter of Governor Talcott, but had no children, would probably have educated him if he had lived, but he was removed during his nephew's infancy.

As he was intended for the ministry, and withal was incapacitated by bodily indisposition to labour much

upon the farm, he was kept almost constantly at school up to the time of his entering college. His preparatory studies were chiefly under the Reverend JOSEPH VAILL, of Hadlyme, towards whom he continued till the close of life to cherish the most grateful and filial veneration.

In September, 1786, he became a member of Yale College. Here he distinguished himself in every department of study, and gave unequivocal indications of a commanding and splendid intellect. He graduated with the highest honors of his class, in 1790.

While he was at home during one of his college vacations, a circumstance occurred by means of which he had well nigh lost his life. His father had a fine young horse, whose spirit no one had been able to subdue. Edward mounted him, rode him for several hours, and returned in high spirits, declaring that he would have him for his Bucephalus. Shortly after he mounted him a second time, upon which the horse instantly stood erect upon his hind feet,

and fell backwards upon Edward with his whole weight. When he was taken up, all signs of animation had fled, and his friends for some time supposed that the vital principle was gone. By the blessing of God, however, upon the vigorous applications that were made to his body, he gradually revived, and at no distant period was able to return to college and prosecute his studies with his accustomed alacrity.

The following account of the commencement and progress of his religious impressions is extracted from some brief recollections of his early life, which he committed to writing but a short time previous to his death.

I had religious impressions occasionally from my earliest childhood. When I was quite young, certainly not more than four or five years old, one of my companions, a little older than myself, told me, while in the fields, about death and a future state. I remember I was deeply affected. My mother afterwards informed me that I came home weeping, and asked her about these things, and appeared not to get over it all day. In later life I have often been affected at the condescension of Him who frequently visited a poor, ignorant, wicked child, and forced him into the secret corner to pray. I remember some instances in which my prayers were so earnest that I thought I should prevail, and was determined to take the kingdom of heaven by violence. Once in a time of sickness, my distress of mind was succeeded by a hope; but it was full of selfrighteousness, saying to others, "Stand by thyself, I am holier than thou.” I remember that, in looking around among those I knew, I could see none whom I would allow to be christians. They all fell short of the standard which I had erected. With all these motions of conscience, I know not that any person supposed that I was other than a thoughtless, light and playful child.

I went to college in hope of being fitted for the ministry. I not unfrequently attended the Saturday evening prayer meeting, and found my conscience affected by it. I used to calculate that if I were not converted while in college, I should probably die in my sins. I always shrunk with horror at the idea of going into the ministry without religion. If then I should not be a christian when I graduated, I should study law; and the temptations of that life and society would carry me farther and farther from God, and in all probability would seal my ruin. Thus I calculated. Still I remained unchanged. When I entered my senior year, I thought it was high time to fix on my future course; and as God had not changed my heart, I said to myself, “What should I wait for the Lord any longer ?” (2 Kings vi. 33.) and devoted myself to the law. For nearly two years I threw off the restraints of conscience, and made up my mind to be a man of the world ; but my habits and sense of propriety kept me from vicious

courses.

After I graduated, I engaged as principal of an academy at Derby, about ten miles west of New-Haven, where I spent nine of the gayest months of my life. In July, 1791, I was taken sick. The thought which I had frequently had before in sickness returned upon me with greater power : "If I cannot bear this for a short time, how can I bear the pains of hell forever?" I have no distinct recollection of the exercises which accompanied this uneasiness. I can only say that I found myself resolved to lead a different life, and to devote myself to the service of God. I had often formed such a resolution, but this seemed to be more deep and real than any which I had formed before. That was all I knew about myself. After my recovery, these thoughts continued and increased; but it was two or three months before I durst conclude that I was a child of God. Still the thought of changing my profession never entered my mind. I have often wondered how this could be; but I believe it arose from a natural fixedness of purpose, which renders it difficult for me to change. One Sabbath, in the course of that fall, my mind was strangely tried throughout the day with occasional thoughts about my future course as a lawyer,--the wide separation from domestic friends it would occasion, &c. The course appeared more fraught with trials than ever it had done before. Still not a thought of change once crossed my mind, any more than though there had been but one profession. After the second service I returned to my lodgings, and taking a small Bible and putting it under my arm, started for my chamber. A stray thought, as I passed through the room, occurred to me "I have seen ministers carry a Bible thus to the meetinghouse." The question instantly came back upon me—“And why should not you be a minister ?" It made no impression. "And why should not you be a minister ?" Still I turned it off, “And why should not you be a minister ?" By the time I had reached the top of the stairs, this question had been thrown back upon me so often, and seemingly by another, that I was brought to a solemn resolution to examine it seriously. I had little christian experience or knowledge, and probably was presumptuous in looking for guidance to the passages to which I should open: but so it was. I prayed most earnestly that God would reveal my duty by the portion of scripture to which he should direct me, and then opened the Bible and read. I did this several times, and every time opened to something which seemed, at least to my imagination, in favor of the change. I turned then to the thing itself. I had not gone too far to change. That was the time of life for me to choose a profession. I had finished my academical education. I hoped I possessed religion: I had looked forward to the ministry in case I should obtain that qualification, though of late I had wholly lost sight of the object. Why should I not return to it? I was afraid I was tempting God by asking for direction in the way I did: but I ventured to entreat him to guide me again, and I would ask but that once; and I opened to Christ's sermon on the mount. Instantly the whole character of Christ as a preacher opened to my view. There had never been but one perfect example: And how did he spend his time in his passage through this world ? Not in contending who should

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