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The last years of the life of our venerable friend realized the brightest picture of a happy old age. By the kindness of his people he was released from labor and care ; a long respite was given him, after the day of toil was over, and before the summons came to depart. In the pursuits of philosophy and religion ; in the peaceful and cherished society of a kindred spirit; in the company of his friends ; in the exercise of amiable affections towards man, and of admiring adoration towards God, the glories of whose creation he was continually exploring; and in the enjoyment of enough of this world's goods to meet his wants, he quietly descended the lengthened vale of years. He had his trials, and at times they were severe indeed, but his patience and faith were sufficient to sustain him while they lasted, and when they had passed away, the very memory of them seemed to be obliterated by the pleasant engagements which, in cheerful conversation, in instructive books, in philosophical experiments, and in the employments of his workshop, were ever at hand. His faculties of body and mind remained sound and bright to the end ; “ his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;" and at last he came to his " grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.
Ezra Shaw Goodwin was born at Plymouth, September 11, 1787. His education was commenced at the common schools in his native town, and the studies preparatory for admission to college he pursued under the care of the Rev. David Gurney, of Middleborough. He entered the University in Cambridge in 1803, and graduated in 1807. In 1809 he commenced preaching, and was ordained as minister of the First Parish in Sandwich, March 17, 1813. In 1814 he was married to Miss Ellen Watson Davis, the eldest daughter
* In grateful acknowledgment of the kindness and fidelity of his parish, Dr. Prince bequeathed a valuable theological library of 450 volumes for the perpetual use of the ministers of the First Church in Salem.
of Hon. John Davis, of Boston. In 1822 he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and in 1830 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He died February 5, 1833, in the 46th year of his age, and in the 20th of his ministry.
The following notices of Mr. Goodwin, giving a just view of his character, are extracted from a biographical memoir prefixed to a volume of his Sermons published after his decease.*
In the earlier part of his ministry especially, he devoted himself entirely to the peculiar duties of his situation, and was little known except to the churches in his immediate neighborhood. But in this faithful discharge of the quiet duties of a clergyman, in a retired parish, he was preparing himself for a more enlarged sphere of usefulness, and was laying up treasures of thought and knowledge to be improved in after years. He felt that no man could be faithful to the high trust which such a situation imposes, who did not advance himself in at least as great a proportion as he contributed to the advancement of others, and that if a Christian minister were a stationary being, there was reason to fear he neglected a large portion of the gift within him. We accordingly find that he neglected no opportunity to acquire information, or impart it to others, in any of the branches of useful or entertaining knowledge. No one could pass an hour in his society and not discover his fondness for philosophical inquiry, and his extensive knowledge on subjects of general interest. He was a most ardent admirer of nature, and an accurate observer of its order and its laws. As has been well expressed by another, “his mind was always vigorous and inquisitive ; his heart was always kind. He was not, as many solitary students are, ignorant of all subjects and indifferent to all but those within their own confined sphere. His eyes were open to surrounding objects and passing events, and he could speak pleasantly on most of the topics of general interest. Natural history received much of his attention, for he loved to study the works as well as the word of God. But all his knowledge was consecrated to the high uses of piety. From the fields and the woods, from the rivers and the sea, he brought their first fruits and their rare and beautiful things, and laid them as an offering upon the altar.”
* These sermons, fifteen in number, were printed, principally, for distribution among his late parishioners, and near friends and connexions. The biographical memoir, prefixed, was written by his esteemed friend and kinsman, Rev. HERSEY B. Goodwin, just now departed from us, at an early age ; resembling his beloved and honored relative in many points of character ; like him, also,
“ Multis ille bonis flebilis occidit."
To this observation of nature and a deep insight into men and things around him, was added a diligent study of books. His memory was both quick and retentive to a remarkable degree. Many passages of his favorite authors, though read or heard by him but once, never escaped him. Of poetry
he was particularly fond—and to his intimate friends his mind seemed to contain a volume of the richest and most beautiful extracts from the best English poets of ancient and modern times. But the study to which he was most strongly attached and to which he devoted his chief attention, by night as well as by day, was the study of the Scriptures in the original languages, and of the various books which serve to illustrate them. In this, as in all his other investigations, he manifested his supreme regard for truth-his enthusiastic love of it. He loved it for its own sake. He cherished it simply because it was truth. In his efforts to find it and then to propagate it, he was equally free, fearless and sincere. It was this uncompromising integrity in presenting truth to others, and this perfect freedom in searching for it himself, that appeared to many, not intimately connected with him, to border on imprudence—but in proportion as men understood his peculiarities, they respected him for his honesty and admired him for his simplicity and frankness.
With these qualities of independence and freedom from dissimulation, humility and charity were harmoniously blended. These last virtues were, in fact, the natural fruits of the for
supreme reverence for truth, which was with him but one form of reverence for that Being who is the foundation of truth, was most naturally productive of an expansive benevolence and that charity which vaunteth not itself. In this respect he illustrated the following remark of Coleridge, of which his character has often reminded us. " He who fancies that he must be perpetually stooping down to the prejudices of his fellow creatures, is perpetually reminding and reassuring himself of his own vast superiority to them. But no real greatness can long co-exist with deceit. The whole faculties of man must be exerted in order to noble energies; and he who is not earnestly sincere, lives in but half
He respected human nature because it was created in the image of God, and an object of God's mercy and parental care.
Such are some of the most striking features in the intellectual and moral character of Mr. Goodwin. As a writer and preacher he was distinguished for clearness of conception and for frankness, approaching in some cases to boldness, in his methods of stating and illustrating truth. As a pastor, he won the esteem, affection and confidence of his flocktaking a deep interest in all their affairs, and showing himself their counsellor and friend in prosperity as well as in adversity. As a friend he was strong in his attachments, and his friends were no less strongly attached to him. It is the language of one who knew him from his childhood, and was most intimate with him in his preparatory studies and during his college life, “ he was free from all envy, jealousy and presumption, and was always, and to all, unaffectedly kind and sincere. His friendship was not liable to the chill of pride or the consumings of anger.”
The views through which the public has become most acquainted with Mr. Goodwin, have appeared in various numbers of the Christian Examiner, and have reference to the meaning of those Greek and Hebrew words which in the received version of our Scriptures are invested with the sense of eternal duration. On the result of that investigation, it must be left for the learned to decide ; but that it indicated great originality and independence, patience of research, and a true Christian charity, there can be but one opinion.'
The following is a list of Mr. Goodwin's writings, published in his life time.
Notices of the Great Storm, Sept. 23, 1815. Mass. Historical Collections, Vol. X. Second Series.
Meaning of the words translated Eternity and Eternal, in
* The first of these articles appeared in 1928, in the form of an essay on the meaning of the expressions “ everlasting punishment” and “ life eternal,” in Matthew xxv. 46. Mr. Goodwin, in two letters in Vols. X. and XII. of the Examiner, went into a thorough investigation of the meaning of these words, asw and asarios, from their etymology, the earlier lexicographers, and particularly from their use by the classic writers. On the last point, all the
passages in which either of these words is found in Homer, Hesiod, Æschylus, Pindar, (except the Fragments) Sophocles, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and his treatises de Mundo, de Spiritu, de Moribus, de cælo, Euripides, and Pluto, were brought forward, translated, and left to speak for themselves. He then proceeded to investigate in a similar manner the meaning of the Hebrew word corresponding to dlwy and abarysos, in the Septuagint. This investigation is published in a third and fourth letter, in Vols. XIII. and XIV. of the Examiner. The last was not issued till after the decease of the writer.
the Scriptures. Christian Examiner, Vols. V., IX., X., XII, XIII., XIV.
A Sermon on the Secrecy of the Soul in Communion with God. Liberal Preacher, Vol. III., No. 9.
An Address before the Barnstable Peace Society, Dec. 25, 1830.
Ancient and Modern Orthodoxy. Unitarian Advocate, for
Alice Bradford, or a Birth-day Present.
The Shipwrecked Coaster. Token for 1833.
A LETTER FROM COL. GEORGE MORGAN TO GEN. WASHING
TON, INCLOSING THE LORD's PRAYER IN SHAWANESE.
New York, Sept. 1st, 1789. Having been engaged here some days in the examination of the late Mr. Hutchins's papers, I have found amongst them a letter to your Excellency from the Marquis de la Fayette, accompanied by one from you, requesting Mr. Hutchins's attention to the forming a vocabulary of the Indian languages, for the Empress of Russia, who has ordered a universal dictionary to be made of all languages.
If your Excellency hath not received satisfactory returns from Mr. Hutchins, or others to whom you may have applied, it will afford me particular pleasure to contribute so essential a service to the republic of letters, by giving your Excellency a Vocabulary and Grammar of the Shawanese tongue, together with our Lord's prayer; all composed at my request, by my friend Alexander McKee, Esq. to whom the best speakers of the nation recur for instruction in all doubtful words and expressions in their own language.
Mr. McKee being a good scholar, and writing a very fair