« AnteriorContinuar »
nature. Other travelers have spoken of the luxuriance of this region in terms of still greater strength, and all complain of the inadequacy of language to portray the vegetable wealth of this ever-verdant land.
If the interest of this scene, on which nature seems to have exhausted her resources, can be rendered more thrilling, it is heightened by the number and vivacity of the feathered flocks which glitter in the most exquisite plumage in which the richest hues of the sun-beams could paint them. These happy tribes, sweet in their music, seem to sing the poetry of this scene which nature has composed. Though the whole of Colombia lies near the centre of the tropics, its various elevation gives it all the climates of the three different zones of the globe. The lowest plains are scorched by the intense fervors of an equinoctial sun. The table lands enjoy the mild climate of the temperate zone, while on the mountain summits lie the everlasting snows of a polar winter. This republic is also so situated, as to furnish employment for man in the three different states in which large portions of our race have successively existed, viz., that of the savage, the shepherd, and the agriculturist: for here are the pasture lands, the arable grounds, and the deep unsubdued forests. Over these the wild savages roam without any support but the fruit of the chase and the sponta. neous produce of uncultivated nature. Gloomy and indolent, these naked sons of the wood wander through those profound solitudes, in which the voice of civilized man has never been heard. The portion of this republic devoted to pasturage is very great. Millions of acres are clothed with verdure that never fades, and watered by streams that gush from unfailing sources in the mountains. On these are seen feeding and fattening droves of horses, herds of cattle, and vast flocks of deer and sheep. The thinly scattered population over these immense pasture-lands, resemble, in their habits of living, the early patriarchs of our race. Nor is the agricultural section of Colombia inconsiderable. It embraces the immense valleys and table lands which are not too much elevated to enjoy a suitable temperature. In some of these valleys the soil is exhaustless, and its fertility astonishing. It pours forth annually its two harvests, each of which is produced in the greatest abundance, and in a state of the utmost perfec. tion. All the capabilities of these udderous plains have never yet been ascertained: when these shall be fully developed, agriculture will, doubtless, be carried to a point toward perfection beyond which it could scarcely be advanced in the most favored portions of the old world. The grains and fruits produced on the highest and lowest arable lands lying in the same neighborhood, are not less dissimilar than if they had grown on equal heights a thousand miles apart. No large section in the new world can vie with Colombia in its great natural canals. These so intersect it, as to add greatly to its future importance. The Amazon, that mighty stream, that sweeps over so large a section of the globe, is navigable almost to the very base of the Andes; and on many of its tributaries large vessels may ascend hundreds of miles into the interior. Next to the Amazon, in magnitude and importance, is the Oronoco. This stream rises in the very heart of the republic, and proceeding in a north-easterly direction toward the Atlantic, it rolls over more than fifteen hundred miles before it loses itself in that ocean. The Meta and Apure, forming the two principal branches of this river, often overflow their banks during one-third
of the year. The lands, over which these spread themselves out like an inland sea, resemble, in their amazing fertility, those over which the waters of the Nile anciently flowed. On the banks of these wave the primeval and lofty forests, which, for centuries, will furnish sup. plies of the choicest timber both for architecture and furniture. The great valley of the Oronoco, which lies entirely within Colombia, extends from that river to the foot of the Andes, forming an area of more than three hundred miles in width. This lonely region of perpetual spring, being fanned by a strong breeze, has a much lower temperature, and is far more congenial to health than that on the sea shore. If to these streams and their noble branches be added the Palma and its far running tributaries—the Magdalena, the Cauca, and the Atrato —which, in various directions, open navigation for thousands of miles into the interior, we shall find that in hydraulic advantages this republic is unrivalled. Who can calculate the extent to which the use of steam will enhance the value of these peerless waters! And, especially, would the importance of some of these streams be augmented by the execution of the sublime design of uniting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The practicability of this project cannot remain a question with those who know that only four and a half miles separate the Atrito, which falls into the Gulf of Darien, from the San Juan, which rolls into the Pacific Ocean; that this point of junction lies but four hundred miles from the Atlantic, and only two hundred and sixty miles from the Pacific; that the four and a half miles to be excavated have a surface almost entirely level; and that the two rivers to be united are so situated as to require almost no lockage. Indeed, the Author of nature seems to have designated this point as that at which the junction of these waters should take place. Here, for a short space, the frowning Andes is lost; and, in accordance with the will of Providence and the wants of man, that mighty mountain defiles, that these two oceans may be joined, and commerce march from the old to the new world. Had the spirit-stirring enterprise of the United States imbued the young republics of the south, this magnificent work would have long since been accomplished.
Though this republic, in common with the other Spanish colonies, suffered three hundred years ago under the iron rod of foreign tyrants; though it became one great charnel-house in its protracted struggle to break the yoke of despotism; and though it has since bled at every pore in those successive revolutions which have threatened to annihilate society, such are its natural resources, that it continues still to be powerful. Indeed, the physical capabilities of this important section of the new world are nowhere surpassed. Its abundant harvests, its exhaustless pasturage, its stately groves, its unparalleled waters, its rich and numberless mines, speak unequivocally of its future greatThe number of provinces in this republic amounts to twenty. eight. The population spread over these provinces cannot exceed two millions eight hundred thousand. This republic, washed by two oceans, is situated to enjoy the most extensive commerce; while on its Pacific shores it lies open to the South Sea and whale fisheries, on its Atlantic coast it is in the vicinity of the West Indies; is easy of access from Europe, the United States, Mexico, and the other Atlantic ports of South America.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
ART. III.-A REVIEW OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF AMERICAN METHODISM.
BY S. W. COGGESHALL, OF THE NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.
Suggested by the inscription in front of the John-street church, New-York, (the mo ther church of the connection,) "According to this time it shall be said what hath God wrought!"
THE first time I stood on the spot where Embury and the "fathers" first reared the standard of Methodism, and preached a full and free salvation with such astonishing success, my soul realized unusual emotions. The same emotions I have felt since-that hallowed spot has lost none of its interest to me. It causes my mind to revert to the time when a handful of Methodists, in the midst of discouragement, and alone sustained by the arm of the Eternal, there erected the first Methodist church in America, but seventy years ago. And now looking out over the length and breadth of the land, I see the spiritual progeny of these same obscure individuals, the most numerous religious body in the country, spread from the shores of the Atlantic on the east to the "father of waters" in the west, and from the great lakes of the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south-their churches dotting every part of the land, from the crowded commercial metropolis to the log hamlets of the prairies of the west, and even the still more humble negro quarters of the piny woods of the south-their flourishing schools and colleges rising up in every direction, as by enchantment, some of which, even in their infancy, are vying with older and longer-established institutions of the kind-their "Book Concern," conducted upon a princely scale, which furnishes a very considerable portion of the immense population of these states with the greater part of their literary treasures, and which exerts a moral and religious influence perhaps unknown to any other institution of the kind in the whole world: an institution which, while it provides for the immortal part, also acts the part of an almoner in the church, distributing to the necessities of the worn-out veterans of the cross, drying up the orphan's tears, "and causing the widow's heart to sing for joy."
But here my eye does not rest. Looking still farther abroad, I see in the wilds of Canada, and in the forests of the west, several thousands of the aborigines of this country, who have been converted to God, and turned from a savage life by the persevering and indefatigable labors of the spiritual descendants of those few who in that place assembled to pray, "Thy kingdom come," and whose prayers, put up with a strength of faith and fervency of spirit unusual in those days, have been so signally answered. Others of them, inspired with a quenchless zeal for souls, have, with a degree of hardihood that has engaged the attention of the world, penetrated toward the setting sun, even beyond the Rocky Mountains, and in that far-off region have successfully reared the standard of the cross. In the extensive fields of the sultry south thousands of the unfortunate sons of Ham rise up to call them blessed, as by their labors they "have been delivered from the bondage of corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God." And seeing that "Ethiopia was stretching out her hands to God," in 34
VOL. IX.-July, 1838.
her own land, they have hastened across the waters of the Atlantic, and on the western coast of Africa have planted Christian churches as beacons of light in a truly dark land; and where but a few years ago the slave trader drove his "loathsome traffic," others of them have found their way among the benighted millions of South America, and have raised the torch of truth in the midst of darkness which had rested upon that people for three centuries, unbroken by scarcely a ray of light; and still others are preparing for missionary labors wherever “an effectual door" may be opened to them to see if they cannot achieve in distant regions the same glorious reformation which their fathers have achieved here.
As were the fathers so are the children. The former in their ascent, like the prophet of old, bet fall their mantle upon their descendants, who have imbibed their spirit and pushed forward the same work; yea, the children seem to have even more enlarged views than the "fathers." They thought themselves raised up to reform this continent,” and to "spread Scriptural holiness over these lands;" but their children look upon themselves as called to reform the continents of the whole earth, and to spread Scriptural holiness over all lands.
In view of all this, we may well say, in the language of the prophetic text inscribed upon the front of our mother church: "According to this time it shall be said-what hath God wrought!" for most certainly all this has been wrought, "not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God." And in view of the fact, that the Methodists were the last principal denomination who commenced their labors upon these shores, we see another scripture fulfilled: "The last shall be first, and the first last." My imagination has always been accustomed to associate the name of the John-street church with the remembrance of all those great and extraordinary events which have transpired since that church was first constituted; and often when I have passed that edifice, or the old rigging loft in William-street, a multitude of pleasing historical recollections of the rise and progress of our people have occurred to my mind, in view of which my heart has involuntarily exclaimed, “What hath God wrought!"
Before I fairly enter this subject, it will be proper to show why the Methodists have been "raised up to reform this continent"-why other denominations were not competent to the work which they had undertaken, which rendered necessary a reinforcement of troops of a different character and discipline.
The greater part of all the religious sects of this country previously to the introduction of Methodism were Calvinistic. Here, as in Europe, after a long trial, Calvinism had proved itself wholly inadequate to reform the people. In Europe, beneath its withering influence, the work of holiness under the Reformation soon declined; for although, as a system, it contained many truths, as the doctrine of depravity and the necessity of regeneration; and although many of its ministers were eminent for their learning and piety, yet the peculiarities of the system, as the doctrine of predestination, that "God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass," involving the dogmas of election and reprobation, were continually tending to Socinianism on the one hand, as we see in the history of the Genevan Church, and to Antinomianism on the other, as we see in the sad degeneracy of the descendants of the Puritans as exhibited in the history of the last century, and which, as a
pestilential miasma, passed over the church, destroying all the fair fruits of the Spirit; so that no permanent character was given to the Reformation, and its influence had not even reached the lower classes, who constitute the basis of society, and without which those who build build without a foundation, until the Wesleys commenced their work.
So it was in America. The doctrine of election and reprobation was continually preventing multitudes from coming to Christ, fearing that they were not of the elect; while the doctrine of final perseverance constantly tended to Laodicean lukewarmness in professors.
In 1738 Whitefield visited this country. Landing at Savannah, Ga., he traveled north as far as New-England; and although a member of the Established Church, yet embracing the tenets of Calvinism upon this visit, and being a man of warm and catholic feelings, the Calvinistic pulpits were open to him in every part of the land. Between this period and the year 1770, in which he died, he visited Ame. rica no less than seven times, in which visits he traveled from one end of the country to the other, preaching the gospel with great success, and striving to revive the long-forgotten doctrines of the Reformation; and although numerous revivals occurred under his ministry, and he was generally assisted by the co-operation of the Calvinistic clergy, yet as he formed no societies of his own, but left his converts to the care of the ordinary pastors, those revivals never lasted for more than six months at a time, the leaven of Calvinism soon destroying their fair fruits; while it is remarkable that the same work in England, under Mr. Wesley, assisted by young and illiterate lay-preachers, guided by a different system of doctrine and discipline, constantly flourished.
Thus the work of God declined in America as often as it was revived. But notwithstanding this, as many individuals remained who were either converted or edified under Mr. Whitefield's labors, of whom the early Methodist preachers occasionally speak, it may be said that, in some measure, the preaching of Mr. Whitefield prepared the way for Methodists in this country. But this burning and shining light was about to be quenched in death-that eloquent voice which so often had preached salvation to listening thousands, was about to be hushed in the stillness of the tomb. His mantle had fallen upon but one individual in Europe, Rowland Hill, who stood up to revive his drooping cause in London; while in America his spirit had been caught by none. At this important juncture God was about to introduce other laborers into this great vineyard.
In 1660, Philip Embury, a descendant of the Palatines who settled in Ireland, and who was a local preacher under Mr. Wesley, emigrated to New-York. He kept silence till 1766, when, upon the earnest exhortations of Mrs. Hick, a member of the society, who had emigrated from the same country, he commenced preaching in his own house, and formed a society, principally of his countrymen, the German Irish. His own house soon becoming too small for their accommodation, they rented a room near the barracks, in the most infamous street in the city, the expense of which was paid by voluntary contributions.
About this time, Captain Webb, of the British army, who had been converted under Mr. Wesley, in Bristol, 1765, and was now barrack master at Albany, found out this small company, and joining himself to them, began to preach. The singular appearance of a man in the habiliments of war preaching the gospel of peace, and with a zeal and