John Gano was one of the most eminent ministers in his day; in point of talents he was exceeded by few, and as an itinerant he was inferior to none, who ever traveled the United States, unless it were the renowned Whitefield. He was born at Hopewell, in New-Jersey, July 22, 1727, was converted soon after he arrived at manhood, and was ordained in the place of his nativity, in 1754. His progenitors, on his father's side, were from France, on his mother's from England. His great-grandfather, Francis Gano, fled from Guernsey, in the time of a bloody persecution; one of his neighbours had been martyred in the day, and in the evening he was fixed on as the victim for the next day; information of which he received in the dead of night. In this perilous situation he made all haste to escape the sanguinary storm which hung over his head: he chartered a vessel, removed his family on board, and in the morning was out of sight of the harbour. On his arrival in America, he settled in New-Rochelle, a few miles above the city of New-York, where he lived to the age of a hundred and three. Of the number or names of the family of this religious refugee, we know no more, than that he had one son named Stephen, who married Ann Walton, by whom he had many children, some of whom died young; those who lived to marry, were Daniel, Francis, James, John, Lewis, Isaac, and three daughters, Sarah, Catharine, and Susannah; the last of whom lived to the age of eighty-seven. Daniel married Sarah Britton of Staten-Island, near the city of New-York, by whom he had Daniel, Jane, Stephen, Susannah, John, Nathaniel, David, and Sarah. The two first were born on Staten-Island, the others at Hopewell, in New Jersey. Some of these died young; but a number of them founded families, and their posterity is scattered in many parts of America; most of them, however, are in the middle and western States.
The subject of this memoir had the happiness of being born of parents eminent for piety, by whom he was early taught the necessity of religion, and a correct view of the gospel system. His maternal grandmother was about seventy-six years a pious member of a Baptist church; she lived to the age of ninety-six. His mother was of the same persuasion, but his father was a Presbyterian. But every thing attending his making a religious profession among the Baptists, was conducted with prudence on his part, and with tenderness on that of his friends. He was at first much inclined to join the Presbyterians, but having some scruples on the subject of infant baptism, he determined to give it a thorough investigation. He not only read books, but had frequent conversation with Presbyterian friends; but the more he studied the Pedobaptist arguments, the less he was inclined to believe them. The famous Mr. Tennant [it is not known by the writer whether William or Gilbert is the minister intended, but it is probable it was the latter], and some other Presbyterian ministers, were among the circle of his Pedobaptist friends. With Mr. Tennant he conversed often and freely; at the close of a lengthy discussion of the subject of baptism, that candid divine addressed him in the following manner: "Dear young man, if the devil cannot destroy your soul, he will endeavor to destroy your comfort and usefulness; and therefore do not be always doubting in this matter. If you cannot think as I do, think for yourself." After a suspense of some time, he became firmly established in those principles, which he through life maintained with so much ability and moderation. Having resolved to be buried in baptism on a profession of his faith, he made his father acquainted with his design, who treated him with much indulgence and tenderness. He stated that what he did for him in his infancy, he then thought was right, and the discharge of an incumbent duty, but if he felt conscientious in his present undertaking, he had his full and free consent. He moreover proposed that when he should offer himself to the Baptist church, he would go with him and give his consent there, and answer any inquiries they might wish to make respecting his life, etc. and also that he would go and see him baptized. All these promises his catholic father fulfilled.
Soon after Mr. Gano was joined to the Hopewell church, his mind was led to the ministry, but with many anxieties and fears. He was so much absorbed in his thoughts of the great work, that he was often lost to every other object. One morning after he began ploughing in his field, this passage, "Warn the people, or their blood will I require at your hands," came with such weight upon his mind, that he drove on until 11 o'clock, utterly insensible of his employment. When he came to himself he found he was wet through with the rain, his horses were excessively fatigued, and the labor he had performed was astonishingly great.
After becoming satisfied that preaching would be his employment, he applied himself with much assiduity to studies preparatory for it, which he continued, with some interruptions however, for two or three years. Before he had been approbated to preach, he took a journey into Virginia, with Messrs. Miller and Thomas, two eminent ministers of that day, who had been appointed by the Philadelphia Association to go and assist in settling some difficulties in two infant churches there, which had applied to them for help. Some account of this journey has been given in the first part of the history of the Baptists in Virginia. Before Mr. Gano had returned home, a report had reached Hopewell, that he had got to preaching in Virginia; and some of his brethren were tried with him, for engaging in the ministry without the approbation of the church. A meeting was called on his arrival, and he was arraigned as being guilty of disorder. He wished them to exhibit their proofs. They informed him that they had none, only what travellers from Virginia had reported, but desired that he would give them a relation of the matter. He replied that it was the first time he had known the accused called on to give evidence against himself, but he was willing, notwithstanding, to give them an impartial relation of his conduct, which he did. The church then asked him what he thought of his proceedings, and whether he did not think he had been disorderly. He replied again, that he considered this question more extraordinary than the other. He had not only given evidence in his own case which would operate against him, but he was now called upon to adjudge himself guilty. This is a specimen of that ingenuity and presence of mind, which shone so conspicuously through all the transactions of this sagacious character. He at length informed the church that he did not mean to act disorderly, nor contrary to their wishes; that his conscience acquitted him for what he had done; that he had no disposition to repent his having sounded the gospel to perishing souls in Virginia, whose importunities to hear it he could not resist; that the case was extraordinary, and would not probably happen again; if it should, he should probably do again as he had already done. The church now appointed him a time to preach, which he did to their acceptance; and after a thorough examination of his gifts and call, he was regularly set apart for the ministry.
Soon after this, he went to reside at Morristown; and calls for preaching pressed upon him so much, that his studies, in which he had considerably advanced, were in a great measure relinquished.
At the next meeting of the Philadelphia Association, that body was again petitioned to appoint some one to travel to the south. Messengers had also come on from Virginia, for the purpose of procuring a preacher to labor and administer ordinances among them. As no ordained minister could conveniently go, Mr. Gano was urged to accept ordination, and undertake the journey. He pleaded against it his youth and inexperience; but the messengers from Virginia, and his brethren at home, united their importunities, and he engaged in the mission. He was ordained in May 1754, and set out in a short time after. In this journey he went as far as Charleston, South-Carolina, and traveled extensively throughout the southern States. Some extracts from his journal will give the reader some view of the turn of the man, and of the manner in which he prosecuted his mission. His journal, which was printed in his life, has but few dates, but it will be understood that the following scenes transpired in the summer and autumn of 1754.
In the back parts of Virginia, this zealous missionary, while conversing with some people where he lodged, in an affectionate manner, respecting their religious concerns, overheard one of the company say to another, "This man talks like one of the Jones's!" On inquiring who the Jones's were, he was informed that they were distracted people, who did nothing but pray and talk about Jesus Christ; and that they lived between twenty and thirty miles distant on his route. "I determined," said he," to make it my next day's ride, and see my own likeness." When he arrived at the house, he found there a plain obscure family, which had formerly lived in a very careless manner, but a number of them had lately been changed by grace, and were much engaged in devotional exercises. As he entered the house, he saw the father of the family lying before the fire, groaning with rheumatic pains. He inquired how he did? "O," said he, "I am in great distress." "I am glad of it," replied the stranger. The old gentleman, astonished at this singular reply, raised himself up, and inquired what he meant? "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," answered Mr. Gano. From this they proceeded to religious conversation, and he soon found this pious family, whom the world accounted mad, had been taught the words of truth and soberness. They asked him many questions, and were much pleased to find one, who was acquainted with the things they had experienced.
From this place he proceeded on towards North-Carolina, having a young man with him, who chose to bear him company on his way. "We arrived at a house just at dusk, the master of which gave us liberty to tarry. After we had conveyed our things into the house, he asked me if I was a trader; which I answered in the affirmative. He asked me if I found it to answer; to which I answered, "Not so well as I could wish." He replied, "Probably the goods did not suit." I told him, "No one had complained of that." He said I held them too high. I answered," Any one might have them below their own price." He said he would trade on these terms; which, I said, I would cheerfully comply with. I then asked him, "If gold tried in the fire, yea, that which was better than the fine gold, wine and milk, durable riches and righteousness, without money and without price, would not suit him?" "O," said he, "I believe you are a minister." I told him I was, and had a right to proclaim free grace wherever I went. This laid the foundation for the evening's conversation; and I must acknowledge his kindness, though he was not very desirous of trading, after he discovered who I was."
Our itinerant continued southward until he arrived at Charleston; and there, and in its vicinity, he preached to good acceptance. His account of his first sermon for Mr. Hart, in Charleston, is as follows: "When I arose to speak, the sight of so brilliant an audience, among whom were twelve ministers, and one of whom was Mr. Whitefield, for a moment, brought the fear of man upon me; but blessed be the Lord, I was soon relieved from this embarrassment; the thought passed my mind, I had none to fear and obey, but the Lord."
On his return from Charleston to the northward, he visited an island where he was informed there never had been but two sermons preached. The people soon collected together, and he preached to them from these words, 'Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be burdensome to you.'
When he arrived at Tar River, in North-Carolina, he found a report had gone forth, that some of the principal men in the county had agreed, that if he came within their reach, they would apprehend him as a spy; for by his name he was judged to be a Frenchman, and this was in the time of the French war. Some of these people lived on the road he was to travel the next day. His friends urged him to take a different route; but he replied that God had so far conducted him on his way in safety, and he should trust him for the future. When he got near the place where the principal men, who had threatened him lived, he was advised to go through it as secretly as possible; but that by no means accorded with his views: he replied, he should stop and refresh himself in the place. He stopped at one of the most publick houses, and asked the landlord if he thought the people would come out to hear a sermon on a week day. He informed him he thought they would; but observed, that on the next Monday, there was to be a general muster for that county. He therefore concluded to defer the meeting till that time, and requested the landlord to inform the Colonel of the regiment, (who, he had learnt, was one of those who had threatened him) of his name, etc. and desire of him the favor of preaching a short sermon before military duty. The landlord promised to comply with his request. "On Monday I had twenty miles to ride to the muster, and by 10 o'clock there was a numerous crowd of men and women; they had erected a stage in the woods for me, and I preached from Paul's Christian armor. They all paid the most profound attention, except one man who behaved amiss. I spoke and told him, I was ashamed to see a soldier so awkward in duty, and wondered his officer could bear with him. The Colonel, as I afterwards understood, brought him to order. After service, I desired a person to inform the commander that I wanted to speak with him. He immediately came, and I told him, that although I professed loyalty to King George, and did not wish to infringe upon the laudable design of the day, yet, I thought, the King of kings ought to be served first; and I presumed what I had said did not tend to make them worse soldiers, but better Christians. He complaisantly thanked me, and said, if I could wait, he would make the exercise as short as possible, and give an opportunity for another sermon, for which he should be much obliged to me. I told him I had an appointment some miles off to preach the next day. Thus ended my chastisement, and the fears of my friends."
"From hence I returned by the way of Ketockton, on Blu-Ridge, where the inhabitants are scattered. On my road, I observed a thunder-storm arising, and rode speedily for the first house. When I arrived, the man came running into the house, and seeing me, appeared much alarmed; there being at that time great demands for men and horses for Braddock's army. He said to me, "Sir, are you a press-master?" I told him I was. "But," said he, "you do not take married men?" I told him surely I did; and that the Master I wished him to serve, was good, his character unimpeachable, the wages great, and that it would be for the benefit of his wife and children, if he enlisted. He made many excuses, but I endeavored to answer them, and begged him to turn out a volunteer in the service of Christ. This calmed his fears, and I left him, and proceeded on my way to Ketockton, where I spent some time, and baptized Mr. Hail."
From Ketockton, Mr. Gano proceeded immediately homeward. Soon after his arrival, he was married to Sarah, daughter of John Stites, Esq. mayor of Elizabeth-Town, in New Jersey, by whom he had many children, most of whom are yet living. Two sons and two daughters are in Kentucky, one son is in Ohio, one daughter is at Hillsdale, New-York, and his second son Stephen is pastor of the church in Providence, Rhode-lsland. Mrs. Gano was sister to Mrs. Manning, the wife of the President, who is yet living at Providence.
It was not long after Mr. Gano had returned from this journey, before he was again induced, by repeated solicitations, to set out on another, to the southward, in which he was gone about eight months, and was happy to find, in many places, the fruits of his labors in his former visits. Soon after he returned from this excursion, he was invited by an infant church in North-Carolina, which he had raised up in a place called the Jersey Settlement, to remove and become its pastor. Messengers came to Morristown, a distance of about eight hundred miles, for the purpose of soliciting that church to give him up. They at first refused, but afterwards concluded to leave the matter to his own choice. He therefore concluded to go; but at the same time informed the Morristown church, it was not for want of attachment to them. The church in North-Carolina, he considered, was wholly destitute, and there was besides a wide field for gospel labor. At the Jersey Settlement he continued about two years; the church became large, and his labors were abundantly useful throughout a wide and destitute region. But a war breaking out with the Cherokee Indians, he was obliged to leave the country, and returned to New-Jersey. About this time the foundation for the first church in New-York was laid by Mr. Miller of Scotch Plains; the church in Philadelphia had also been lately deprived of its pastor, and continued in that office about twenty-five years, excepting the time he was obliged to be absent on account of the war. Some account of his ministry here, and of the progress of the church while under his care, may be found in its history under the head of New-York.
During most of the revolutionary war, Mr. Gano was a chaplain in the army; and by his counsels and prayers, encouraged the American hosts in their struggles for freedom from the dominion of a foreign, oppressive yoke.
On the return of peace, he returned to his pastoral station, and began to collect the church which had been scattered to many different places. Out of upwards of two hundred members, of which it consisted at the time of its dispersion, he collected at first but thirty-seven; but his congregation soon became large, others of the scattered flock came in, a revival commenced, which prevailed extensively, and at one communion season, near forty young persons were added to their number. In this prosperous manner this successful minister recommenced his labors in New-York, and every thing appeared promising even to the time he projected his removal to Kentucky. This removal was as unexpected to the church, as it was surprising to his friends. His reasons for it are thus stated by himself, "One William Wood, a Baptist minister, came from Kentucky, and give a very exalted character of the state of it. He made several encouraging proposals to me to go there, said there was a prospect of usefulness in the ministry, the necessity of an old experienced minister to take care of a young church there, and flattering temporal prospects for the support of my family. For those reasons I concluded to remove. Besides, I was considerably in debt, and saw no way of being released, but by selling my house and lot. This I concluded would clear me, and enable me to purchase wagons and horses to carry me to Kentucky. I called a church-meeting, and informed them of my intention. They treated it as a chimera, and thought they could stop me by raising my salary. They, with all possible coolness, left me to determine for myself. I immediately determined to go, and desired them to look out for a supply. This aroused them, and they very affectionately urged me to tarry. I told them, if they had desired me to stay before I had put it out of my own power, I should have given it up." [This with the preceding extracts, is made from Gano's Life, a 12mo. vol. of 150 pages.]
Having resolved on removing, he sold his estate, commenced his journey, and on June 17, 1787, landed at Limestone, and immediately repaired to Washington, where he tarried a while; he then went to Lexington, and finally settled near Frankfort, where he died in 1804, in the 78th year of his age. The labors of this aged minister were owned of God for good in Kentucky; but there is reason to believe, that neither his usefulness nor worldly comforts were so great as he expected. His changes were frequent, and some of them peculiarly trying. The encouraging proposals made by Mr. Wood, appear not to have been released. His wife was first made a cripple by a fall from a horse, and soon after removed from him by death.
By most of the Kentucky brethren he was honored and esteemed, and by all of them his death was much lamented. In 1793, he made a visit to North-Carolina, where he married, for his second wife, the widow of Captain Thomas Bryant, and daughter of Colonel Jonathan Hunt, formerly of New-Jersey, one of his old neighbours, and unchanging friends. In her he found an amiable help-meet for his declining years. She had been baptized by his son Stephen, three years before, that is, in 1790, when they visited North-Carolina together. She still survives him, and resides at his late dwelling, near Frankfort, Kentucky. While he was waiting for this new companion to arrange her affairs for a removal, he visited Charleston, South-Carolina, and also as far northward as his son Stephen's, in Providence.
Mr. Gano, though now somewhat impaired, by age, was still actively engaged in his Master's service; but in 1798, he had the misfortune to fall from a horse, and fractured his shoulder-blade, which deprived him of the use of one of his arms for some time. As he was recovering from this affliction, he was very suddenly seized in his bed, with a paralytic shock, which rendered him almost speechless for nearly a year. From this shock he never fully recovered; but his speech was restored, and he had the use of his limbs so far, that he was able to be carried out to meetings, and preached frequently, especially in the time of the great revival, in an astonishing manner. While the Arian affair, mentioned in the history of the Elkhorn Association, was agitating the minds of many of the Kentucky brethren, this able advocate for gospel truth was carried to Lexington, assisted into the pulpit, where he preached a masterly discourse in defense of the proper Deity of the Savior, which was thought to have had a considerable influence in checking the prevalence of that erroneous system, which many were previously inclined to embrace.
We shall now take a review of the history of this distinguished man, and exhibit some of those peculiar traits in his character, which qualified him for such abundant usefulness, and rendered him so famous amongst the American Baptists. Mr. Gano was peculiarly qualified for an itinerant preacher. He possessed, to a singular degree, the wisdom of the serpent, with the harmlessness of the dove. He had a sagacity and quickness of perception, which but few men possess; he had also a happy facility in improving every passing occurrence to some useful purpose. He could abash and confound the opposer, without exciting his resentment; and administer reproof and instruction where others would be embarrassed or silent. His memory was retentive; his judgement was good; his wit was sprightly, and always at command; his zeal was ardent, but well regulated; his courage undaunted; his knowledge of men was extensive: and to all these accomplishments were added a heart glowing with love to God and men, and a character fair and unimpeachable.
It is said that Hervey's servant declared his master could make a sermon out of a pair of tongs; and probably not much inferior to his, were the inventive powers of Mr. Gano. He did not, however, descend to the absurd custom adopted by some, of choosing adverbs and prepositions for his texts; but he had a happy talent of selecting passages of Scripture descriptive of peculiar circumstances and passing events. We have a specimen of this in his preaching on the island in South-Carolina. His friends relate many instances of the same kind, a few only of which we shall notice. In one of his journies at the southward, he traveled in company with a young preacher, who has since become an eminent character in that region. They took different routes in the day, but were to meet in the evening, and Mr. Gano was to preach. The meeting was at a private house, and he did not arrive at the place until late. The young man with reluctance began the meeting, and was in prayer when he came in. He entered the assembly without being discovered, and took his place among the hearers; and just as it was time to commence the sermon, he arose and said with emphasis, I am come! Then with a common tone, "I am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," John 10:10, and immediately proceeded on in his discourse.
In going down the Ohio river, on his removal to Kentucky, he and his companions met with much trouble on their passage; one of his boats was overset, and some valuable things were lost. Soon after they landed in Kentucky, he preached from these words, "So they all got safe to land."
While in the army, he was informed by the General on Saturday that they should march the next Monday, but was requested not to mention the matter until after sermon the next day. This circumstance suggested to his mind these words, "Being ready to depart on the morrow," from which he preached, and as soon as he had done, the orders were given.
The funeral of General M'Dougal, a famous character in New-York, was appointed on a Lord's-day at so early an hour, that there was but little time for the afternoon service. The people generally, out of respect to their illustrious citizen, were preparing to attend his funeral. Some congregations did not meet, but Mr. Gano's did; and he addressed them hastily from these words, "Brethren, the time is short." Having respect to the General's death, he from this short passage, preached a short but well-adapted discourse, and dismissed the assembly soon enough to join the procession.
He had an art peculiar to himself of accommodating such passages to particular events. His inventive powers were adequate to forming profitable discourses from almost any passage of Scripture at the shortest notice, and through the whole of his ministry, he frequently indulged this inimitable faculty. The first sermon he preached after his son Stephen visited him in Kentucky, was from these words, "I am glad of the coming of Stephanas," etc.
Mr. Gano was personally known almost throughout the United States; and a multitude of anecdotes are told respecting him, a few only of which we shall be able to record.
In one of his journies at the southward, he called at a house and asked for some corn for his horse, which the landlord ordered his little son to carry. He then inquired if he was not a minister, and being answered in the affirmative, replied, "I have a child I want to get baptized; I have been waiting a long time for a priest to come along, and shall now wish to have it done." Mr. Gano gave him to understand that any service he could afford him, should be cheerfully granted. The boy stood staring at the priest, and neglected his errand. Mr. Gano mentioned about his horse again. "You son of a b---h," said the father, "why don't you feed that horse, as I told you." The boy then did as he was bid, and his father began again to talk about his child. "What," said Mr. Gano, "do you mean to call it? That boy, I perceive, is named, Son of a b---h." After this singular rebuke, nothing more was said about the christening of the child.
After preaching once in Virginia, in a place notoriously wicked, two young fellows, supposing he had levelled his censures against them, came up and dared him to fight. "That is not the way," said he, that I defend my sentiments; but if you choose it, I will fight you, either both at once, or one after the other; but as I have to preach again very soon, I shall wish to put it off till after the meeting;" to which they agreed. As soon as the meeting was closed, he called the presumptuous youths forward, and told them he was now ready to fight them. The eyes of all were fastened upon them; yet notwithstanding, they had the hardihood to present themselves for the combat. "If," said he, "I must fight you, I shall choose to do it in some more retired place, and not before all these people." With that he walked off, and bid the young men follow him. He then commenced the attack in the following manner: "Young gentlemen, you ought to be ashamed of your conduct. What reason have you to suppose that I had a particular reference to you? I am an entire stranger here, and know not the names nor characters of any. You have proved by your conduct, that you are guilty of the vices I have censured; and if you feel so much disturbed at my reproofs, how will you stand before the bar of God?" "I beg your pardon," said one; "I beg your pardon," said the other; "I am sorry." "If you are beat, gentlemen, we will go back;" and thus ended the battle.
While in the army, Mr. Gano had frequent opportunities of administering reproof in his skilful and forcible manner. One morning, as he was going to pray with the regiment, he passed by a group of officers, one of whom, (who had his back towards him) was uttering his profane expressions in a most rapid manner. The officers, one after another, gave him the usual salutation, "Good morning, Doctor," [the officers generally complimented Mr. Gano with this title] said the swearing Lieutenant. "Good morning, Sir," replied the chaplain;" you pray early this morning." "I beg your pardon, Sir." "O, I cannot pardon you; carry your case to your God."
One day he was standing near some soldiers who were disputing whose turn it was to cut some wood for the fire. One profanely said he would be d--d if he would cut it. But he was soon after convinced that the task belonged to him, and took up the axe to perform it. Before he commenced, Mr. Gano stepped up to him, and said, "Give me the axe." "O no," replied the soldier, "the chaplain shan't cut wood." "Yes," said he, "I must." "But why? " said the soldier. "The reason is, I just heard you say that you would be d -- d if you would cut it; and I had rather take the labor off your hands, than that you should be made miserable forever."
While this singular man resided in New-York, he was introduced to a young lady, as the only daughter of Esquire W --. "Ah," replied he, "and I can tell a good match for her, and he is an only Son." The young lady understood his meaning: she was, not long after, united to this Son, and has, for about forty years, been all ornament to his cause.
In one of his journies, he was informed that there had been a revival of religion in a certain place, which lay on his route. He arrived there in the night, and called at a house, of which he had no previous knowledge. A woman came to the door, whom he addressed as follows: "I have understood, madam, that my Father has some children in this place; I wish to inquire where they live, that I may find lodgings tonight." "I hope," replied the woman, "I am one of your Father's children; come in, dear Sir, and lodge here."
The following summary view of the character of our venerable Sire, was drawn in consequence of a particular request, by Dr. Richard Furman, of Charleston, South-Carolina, who was personally acquainted with him in different stages of his life. "The late Reverend John Gano will be long remembered with affection and respect in the United States of America. Here was his character formed; and here, as on a conspicuous theater, were the actions of his amiable, pious and useful life exhibited.
"He was, in person, below the middle stature; and when young, of a slender form; but of a firm, vigorous constitution, well fitted for performing active services with ease, and for suffering labors and privations with constancy. In the more advanced stages of life his body tended to corpulency; but not to such a degree as to burden or render him inactive. His presence was manly, open, and engaging. His voice strong and commanding, yet agreeable, and capable of all those inflections, which are suited to express either the strong or tender emotions of an intelligent, feeling mind. In mental endowments and acquired abilities he appeared highly respectable, with clear conception and penetrating discernment, he formed, readily, a correct judgment of men and things. His acquaintance with the learned languages and science, did not commence till he arrived at manhood, and was obtained chiefly by private instruction, but under the direction of a clerical gentleman, well qualified for the office. To the refinements of learning he did not aspire; His chief object was such a competent acquaintance with its principles, as would enable him to apply them with advantage to purposes of general usefulness in religion, and to the most important interests of society; and to this he attained.
"His mind was formed for social intercourse, and for friendship. Such was his unaffected humility, candor, and good will to men, that few, if any, have enjoyed more satisfaction in the company of his friends, or have, in return, afforded them, by their conversation, a higher degree of pleasure and moral improvement.
"His passions were strong, and his sensibility could be easily excited; but so chastened and regulated were they by the meekness of wisdom, that he preserved great composure of spirit, and command of his words and actions, even in times of trial and provocation, when many, who yet might justly rank with the wise and good, would be thrown into a state of perturbation, and hurried into extravagance.
"As a minister of Christ, he shone like a star of the first magnitude in the American churches, and moved in a widely extended field of action. For this office God had endowed him with a large portion of grace, and with excellent gifts. 'He believed, and therefore spake.' Having discerned the excellence of gospel truths, and the importance of eternal realities, he felt their power on his own soul, and accordingly he inculcated and urged them on the minds of his hearers with persuasive eloquence and force. He was not deficient in doctrinal discussion, or what rhetoricians style the demonstrative character of a discourse; but he excelled in the pathetic, in pungent, forcible addresses to the heart and conscience. The careless and irreverent were suddenly arrested, and stood awed before him; and the insensible were made to feel, while he asserted and maintained the honor of his God, explained the meaning of the divine law, showing its purity and justice; exposed the sinner's guilt; proved him to be miserable, ruined, and inexcusable, and called him to unfeigned, immediate repentance. But he was not less a son of consolation to the mourning sinner, who lamented his offenses committed against God, who felt the plague of a corrupt heart, and longed for salvation; nor did he fail to speak a word of direction, support and comfort, in due season, to the tried, tempted believer. He knew how to publish the glad tidings of salvation in the Redeemer's name, for the consolation of all who believed in him, or had discovered their need of his mediation and grace; and to him this was a delightful employment. Success attended his ministrations, and many owned him for their father in the gospel.
"The doctrines he embraced were those which are contained in the Baptist Confession of Faith, and are commonly styled Calvinistic. But he was of a liberal mind, and esteemed pious men of every denomination. While he maintained with consistent firmness, the doctrines which he believed to be the truths of God, he was modest in the judgment which he formed of his own opinion, and careful to avoid giving offense, or grieving any good man, who differed from him in sentiment. Hence, he was cordially esteemed and honored by the wise and good of all denominations. [All honorable testimony was borne to his ministerial abilities and service, by a respectable clergyman of the Episcopal church, who had made extensive observations on public characters. After going to hear him, perhaps at different times, while he was employed in the regular course of service in his own church, in the city of New-York, this clergyman noted in his journal, "That he thought Mr. Gano possessed the best pulpit talents of any man he had ever heard." This anecdote was received from the Reverend Dr. Bowen, of New-York, whose father was the clergyman referred to. Dr. Furman's Letter.]
"His attachment to his country as a citizen, was unshaken, in the times which tried men's souls; and as a chaplain in the army, for a term of years, while excluded from his church and home, he rendered it essential service. Preserving his moral dignity with the purity which becomes a gospel minister, he commanded respect from the officers; and by his condescension and kindness, won the affections of the soldiers, inspiring them by his example, with his own courage and firmness, while toiling with them through military scenes of hardship and danger.
"He lived to a good old age; served his generation according to the will of God; saw his posterity multiplying around him; his country independent, free and happy; the church of Christ, for which he felt and labored, advancing; and thus he closed his eyes in peace; his heart expanding with the sublime hope of immortality and heavenly bliss.
"Like John, the harbinger of our Redeemer, 'he was a burning and a shining light, and many rejoiced in his light.' Resembling the sun, he arose in the church with morning brightness, advanced regularly to his station of meridian splendor, and then gently declined with mild effulgence, till he disappeared, without a cloud to intercept his rays, or obscure his glory." _________________
[From David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America, 1813. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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