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THE knowledge of the lives and characters of such as have been eminent for piety and usefulness, can hardly fail of being instructive and edifying. We trace, in them, the footsteps of divine power and providence in preparing them for service in the kingdom of Christ, and to be blessings to the world. And the examples we have, in them, of the manner and several fteps by which they attained, through the bleffing of God, to eminence in knowledge and piety, are greatly fitted to inspire candid minds with a desire to imitate them.
In these views, the memoirs of few lives have been presented to the public, which may be expected to be more entertaining and useful, than those of the late Rev. Dr. Sarzuel Hopkins. Thefe, the reader will find contained in “Sketches” written by the Doctor himself ; which were composed and arranged in a late period of his life. The former part was written before the attack of that paralytic disorder, which, finally, occafioned his death : the latter, after it. By
the last it appears, that however his nervous system and bodily organs had been affected by the shock, his mental powers remained entire ; being scarcely at all-impaired, either by age, or by a disorder, which usually debilitates the mind as well as the body. The manner in which the following sketches are written, and the unaffected simplicity in which they appear, cannot fail of engaging the attention and esteem of the pious and judicious reader.
With a mind naturally clear and discerning, he appeared, in early life, to have felt the power of divine truth, and to have imbibed the sentiments and spirit of christianity. And so deep were the impressions made, by the power and spirit of God, on his conscience, and on his heart, that he was soon brought to a fixed, fettled determination of mind to devote himself-his powers-his all his life to the service of Christ. The work of the gospel ministry being more congenial with the feelings of his heart than any other employment in life, he early, on leaving college, engaged in a course of study with a view of being qualified for it. As this was the work for which his heart thirsted, he judged that, in this, he might be most useful. The deep and folemn sense he had of its importance, and the views and fentiments with which he entered upon it, may be seen in some of the extracts from his private diary inserted in marginal notes.
As his mind was peculiarly formed for study. and improvement, he was favored with a bodily constitution capable of enduring greater and more constant application, than most others. Few men have spent more hours in study and intense application, than Doctor Hopkins : And few have made such advances and improvements in knowledge. His ftudies were more confined to divinity, than those of most men of his genius and application. This was the subject, which was ever nearest his heart-In this was his great delight. And the uncommon proficiency he made in the knowledge of divine truth, and the extensive acquaintance he gained with the doctrines of the christian religion, have enabled him greatly to benefit mankind by his publications.
He possessed an unusual talent of opening and explaining the holy scriptures--To him their doctrines and instructions seemed familiar. His mind appeared readily to enter into the spirit, and comprehend the meaning of passages, which, to others were obscure. And, though he did not neglect consulting expositors and commentators, with whose works he was well acquainted, his uncommon, discernment of the sense and impor
of the sacred writings, seemed to arise, rather from a peculiar relish of divine truth, than from any assistance he derived from others-He appeared to be an example of the truth of our Saviour's words, “ if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
The natural strength and powers of mind he pofseffed—his great application--and the clear and comprehensive view he had of the doctrines of divine revelation, very evidently appear in his various publications ; but more especially, in that System of divinity, contained in two volumes, with which the public has lately been favored. This will remain a lasting monument of uncommon ability and application, as well as extensive knowledge and piety. Nowhere can the reader find the doctrines of the sacred writers so clearly drawn out to view, so justly arranged, and so fully and unanswerably vindicated as in this :Nor is there, probably, any other human composition extant, from which so good an understanding may be obtained of the gospel-plan of salvation by Christ--the terms on which this salvation may be had-and, the temper and character necessary to the enjoyment of it. Here the reader finds those doctrines, which are generally most unwelcome to the human heart-such as thofe, of the total moral depravity of human