BLTC Press Titles


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The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


Memoir of the life and character of Rev. Asahel Nettleton

by Bennet Tyler

Excerpt:

s God, in his Providence, should prepare the way. This purpose was afterwards greatly strengthened by the perusal of Home's Letters on Missions. The feelings which Samuel J. Mills expressed to his father soon after his conversion, were precisely the feelings of young Nettleton at this period, viz: "That he could not conceive of any course of life in which to pass the rest of his days, that would prove so pleasant, as to go and communicate the gospel salvation to the poor heathen."

It has been already remarked, that Samuel J. Mills and Asahel Nettleton were born on the same day. It is a remarkable fact, that their new and spiritual birth occurred very nearly at the same time*—that the conversion of both was signally marked—and that from the commencement of their christian course, they seem to have been imbued with the same spirit, and to have devoted themselves to the same employment. And here I cannot refrain from quoting a few sentences from the memoir of Mills. "Thus early did a sovereign God who has pity on the heathen, set apart Samuel J. Mills for a missionary. Though a youth of but sixteen,! he discovered a zeal in the missionary cause, an eagerness in the pursuit of missionary intelligence, and an enlargement of thought in his plans to become acquainted with the unevangelized world, which left little doubt that he was chained to his purpose by a superior power. It was heart yearning over the miseries of perishing millions, that first led him to think of acquiring an education with a view to the gospel ministry. The spirit of God came over him like Elisha in the field. While toiling at the plough, was his heart touched with compassion for the heathen world, and he bid adieu to his farm to obtain an education, on purpose to carry the gospel to millions who were perish

* The conversion of Mills occurred in November, 1801. That of Nettleton, about two months earlier.

f' This is a mistake. It ought to be eighteen. It appears from a statement on a preceding page of the memoir, that his conversion took place in November, 1801, when he was eighteen years old.

ing for lack of knowledge. Thus in a retired field in Litchfield county, was the king of Zion beginning that grand course of operations, which have produced such a revolution in the American churches, and which bear so intimate a relation to the progressive glories of his kingdom!" All this, excepting the name of the county, was as true of Nettleton as of Mills, and very nearly at the same time.

It is a striking fact, that while these two individuals seem to have been the first in this country (in these latter days,) to devote themselves to the missionary work, neither of them was permitted to enter upon it. It happened to them as to David, in relation to the building of the temple. They did well that it was in their hearts to go to the heathen; but the honor of actually going, was reserved for others. The reasons which prevented Mills from becoming a missionary to the heathen, are already before the public. Those which prevented Nettleton, will be given in the sequel.

In acquiring a collegiate education, he had many difficulties and discouragements to encounter. His pecuniary means were entirely inadequate; and in those days, there were no Education societies, and no funds for the support of indigent students. Such also, were the circumstances of the family, recently deprived of its head, as to render his presence and labor at home, apparently indispensable. So strong however, was his desire to become a minister of the gospel, and a missionary to the heathen, that he resolved to make the attempt to obtain an education. He procured some books, and while laboring on the farm, dovoted his leisure moments to study. In the winter he taught school, and spent his evenings in study, occasionally reciting to his pastor. Thus, in the course of two or three years, with very little instruction, and while laboring most of the time on the farm, except when engaged in school-keeping, he mastered the preparatory studies, and entered the Freshman class in Yale College, about the middle of the first term, in the fall of 1805.


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