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though his active life afforded little leisure for its indulgence. He kept a journal for the gratification of his friends, which has been said to be highly interesting; and he wrote his own epitaph in verse, in which he beautifully alludes to the extraordinary circum. stance of having completed one hundred voyages, and to the peaceful haven, in which he hoped to rest his shattered bark. The mother of Mr. Ashmead was one of the most amiable of women. Mr. Ashmead was from a very early age devoted to books and retirement, and averse to the amusements of boyhood. Dr. Rush, who had frequent opportunities of observing him, while visiting at his grandfather's, remarked of him, when still quite young, that he was a boy of fine promise. At the age of thirteen or fourteen, he was placed in a bookstore, where, for the want of sufficient employment, he read, as might be expected, in the most irregular manner, a great variety of books. The habit of desultory reading, thus acquired, he always regarded as a serious disadvantage. But those acquainted with the character of his mind, in the maturity of life, would never have suspected him of such undisciplined habits, in his early years, nor have admitted their influence over him, even if the fact had been known to them.
He passed the first nineteen years of his life in Philadelphia, and there contracted those sedentary habits which laid the foundation of future disease. During this time, he studied the languages, and having entered the University of Pennsylvania, passed through the usual studies with much credit, and graduated in 1818. Immediately after, he engaged in teaching, as a means of support; and having decided in favour of the Gospel Ministry, studied under the Rev. James P. Wilson, of Philadelphia; a gentleman distinguished for the power and logical character of his mind, for extensive erudition, and especially for his intimate knowledge of the Christian Fathers. Mr. Ashmead was compelled to teach by day, and to pursue his professional studies by night. A pallid countenance, frequent head-aches, and disordered nerves, soon admonished him, that he spent too much time in the cultivation of his mind, and too little in the preservation of his health. Having finished the preparatory course of stu. dies, he was licensed as a preacher in the Spring of 1820.
Few men have begun the career of ministerial labour so destitute of extrinsic aid or factitious advantages. Without patronage or favour, without the influence of the rich and the powerful, his personal
merits, set off by a sweet countenance, pleasant, cordial manners, and an extremely youthful appearance, soon secured to him a far more than usual share of kindness and esteem, of respect, and even of admiration.
Soon after Mr. Ashmead had been licensed, he travelled on horseback for the benefit of his health, in the mountainous region of Northumberland and Sunbury. On his return, he was invited to preach at New Brunswick in Jersey, and gave great satisfaction to a crowded audience. He was requested to return in July, as a candidate for the pastoral office; but as there was a division of opinion in the congregation, probably on account of his youth (being little more than 21 years of age), he declined altogether. Fortunately, however, for one who desired, (after having sufficiently prepared himself) to enter at once on the service of his Lord, he had, in the mean time, been invited to take charge of the congregation in Sunbury, a small town of Northumberland county, on the Susquehanna. He had not, however, been installed as their pastor, when he received an unexpected call from the Presbyterian church in Lancaster. Believing that a wider and more important sphere of usefulness awaited him there, and having laboured diligently to fit himself for such a station, he felt it a privilege, as well as a duty, to go. He accordingly removed to Lancaster, and served the Presbyterian church of that city for upwards of eight years. During that period, he not only discharged the duties of an affectionate, faithful, and able pastor, but employed his talents and influence in the moral and intellectual improvement of the community. With this view, he exerted himself in procuring the building of a public academy, and, after some difficulty, obtained a donation from the Legislature, in aid of the object. After he had resided in Lancaster about two years, he received a unanimous call to the Presbyterian church in New Brunswick, with a proposal to bear all the expense of removal. This was the more honourable, because they had neither seen nor heard him since his visit in July, 1822; and of course they judged of him still by the favourable impressions then made. He declined the offer, however, as his people remonstrated earnestly against his leaving them.
His assiduity in the discharge of pastoral duties, and his sedentary habits, acting on a constitution which had been impaired in early life, gradually undermined it, and prepared the way for an alarming state of feebleness and exhaustion. The decline of his
health, and the danger which had now become painfully manifest, brought him to the South in the Fall of 1828, under the hope that relaxation from his labours and a genial climate would restore him. Nor was this expectation disappointed, so far as appearances enabled his friends to judge.--During his stay in Charleston, he preached occasionally, and made a very favourable impression, as an able, interesting, and evangelical minister. Whilst at Washington, during the winter of 1829, being then on his return to Lancaster, he received a unanimous call from the Second Presbyterian church of Charleston, South-Carolina, whose pulpit had been vacated by the death of the Rev. T. C. Henry. Mr. Ashmead was sensible of the danger he should incur by continuing at Lancaster; and, therefore, resolved to accept the call, from a sense of duty to the church, to his family, and to himself. He accordingly terminated his connexion with the Presbyterian congregation of Lancaster. He arrived in Charleston on the 25th of April. Here he remained two months, during which he received many marks of regard from his new people, and became warmly attached to many individuals among them, especially to his hospitable friend Mr. A**** and his family, of whose affectionate attentions he often spoke with the warmest gratitude, and towards whom he felt as a son and a brother. On the 17th of May, 1829, he was installed, and on the 25th of June, he set out on his return to the North, to make arrangements for the removal of his family, in the ensuing Fall. Before he left the South, however, he had a serious attack of bilious fever, and immediately after his arrival in Lancaster, he was again seized with a dangerous fever. He slowly recovered; yet his apparent restoration to health was flattering to his friends.-Whilst, however, he was waiting in Philadelphia, for the departure of the vessel in which he had engaged a passage for himself and family, he was again taken sick. This relapse occurred the very week during which he had expected to sail for Charleston; and arose from the latent consequences of the attack at Lancaster.—This fever, apparently not so violent and alarming as the former, was declared by his physicians to be subdued at the end of two weeks. He had been deeply affected by the disappointment of not being able to commence the voyage, at the set time; for his heart was fixed on it, as a duty peculiarly interesting and important.-But, when his medical advisers declared that he must not attempt it, he did not hesitate to yield his anxious wishes to their judgment, and only directed that his people should be made acquainted with the cause of his detention, and with his actual situation, from time to time. Although the fever returned in a week, yet it seemed of so mild a character, and he appeared at intervals so much better, that his friends could not but indulge the hope, that he would yet be restored to health and usefulness. Even as late as three days before he died, he appeared to be much better; his countenance, always interesting, was unusually sweet and natural, and his voice was clear and distinct. He himself, however, relied not on the favourable changes which occurred at times, still adhering to the settled opinion, that he would never recover. He spoke of an inward feeling, which convinced him that he should not survive. At first, he appeared solicitous to live, and said: “O my God! spare me to praise thee and serve thee, with more ardour than I ever have!-Spare me to my dear wife and children. I trust it is not inconsistent for me to desire to live. Dr. who is a holy man, and lives near to God, once reproved me on that subject after I had preached a sermon, in which I had painted in glowing colours the desire of the righteous man to die, and the triumphs of a death bed. I believe there have been a few good men who have desired to die, such as Brainerd, Edwards, and Baxter, but in general there is no instinct so strong as that with which we cling to life." But he added: “If I am to die at this time, dying grace will be given me. God can make me willing to leave all.” In the early part of his illness he often expressed a cheerful hope of future happiness, but said he had not that assurance of which some persons appeared possessed. “ But,” said he, “perhaps it is best for me not to feel too confident. Dr. W— says that there have been many good Christians who never attained this assurance.' He desired his wife to preserve his sermons for his son. 6. Should God direct his views to the ministry,” said he, “they may be of use to him." " At least,” he added, “they will serve to show him something of his father.” This mention of his dear boy was almost too much for him; yet he shrunk from nothing that duty required.
He conversed with his two eldest children: told them that he bad but few days to live, and exhorted them so to live, that he might hope to meet them in heaven. On this day also he spoke to several of his relatives, with great tenderness and affection, giving them appropriate advice, which will, it is hoped, be long
remembered. Parting with his wife and little ones, appeared to be the greatest conflict whích nature experienced; yet, we feel a strong assurance, that God enabled him to resign even these into his hands. In his last illness he loved to expatiate upon the virtues of his mother, to recall her nameless endeare ments, and her tender solicitude for his welfare. "My mother,” said he, "O how I did love my mother! and well do I remember what a shuddering came over me, when I first thought that she would die, and be removed from me. But she is now among the gentlest of the spirits in heaven.” He looked forward with pleasure to the period, when he should meet this fondly-cherished parent in those regions, where happiness is pure and unalloyed, He often remarked, “ My sickness has been sanctified to me; it is good for me that I have been afflicted." The activity and energy of his mind to the last, exemplified a remark, which he had made a few days before his death when very weak and low,
-"Mind,” said he, “immortal mind never decays. When the body is sinking to the grave, it often breaks forth with unwonted splendour.” During the last memorable week of his life he expressed his sentiments upon many subjects, with a clearness and vigour which were truly surprizing considering his extreme debility. He spoke at this time of the difficulty of distinguishing between a desire of happiness and a dread of misery-a desire to obtain heaven for its own sake, and a desire to escape from hell. “ This,” said he, “is one of the most difficult points in the Christian experience.” On another occasion, he spoke with great pleasure of the resurrection of the body. He also referred to the subject of moral evil—its entrance into the world :-"God," said he, “ created all things good.” His views on this subject were very clear and satisfactory. When suffering under a .
most painful inability to sleep, he said, “This is the way we learn to die, by suffering.” “Yes,” was replied, “it is the way our Heavenly Father takes to lead us to himself.” “And a very good one,” said he. On the Friday before his decease, he said to a kind brother, who was with him, “I feel a strong confidence in God. I can say with David, great is his goodness,' and with Paul, “thy grace is sufficient for me:"” “I am in the hands of the Lord Jesus," said he at another time, after remarking the improbability of his recovering; and again, “Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit." He gave direc