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State he was its most powerful advocate and bore down upon the op position with a sweeping torrent of eloquence and logic that was irresistible. He was also a member of the Convention of Pennsylvania to amend its Constitution, in which he took a decided stand in favor of placing the elective franchise in the hands of the people. The last vestige of aristocracy trembled before him and the last whisper of slander against the purity of his republicanism died upon the lips of echo. The boldest features of liberal principles in the old revised Constitution of that State were penned by James Wilson. Had his views been fully incorporated in that instrument I presume a second revision would not have been made.
When the Supreme Court of the United States was organized Washington selected Mr. Wilson for one of its judges. This high office he filled with great ability up to the time of his death. In 1790 he was appointed the first professor of the Law College in Philadelphia. When that and the University of Pennsylvania were united he filled the chair. As a learned and eloquent lawyer he had no superior at the Philadelphia bar. He was honored with the degree of LL.D. and during the first year of his professorship delivered an admirable course of lectures to the law students. Like most of the Scotch literati, towards them he was distant and reserved. His writings were vigorous and logical. In 1774 he wrote a spirited essay on the assumptions of the British Parliament not warranted by Magna Charta and portrayed the blessings arising from a republican form of government in such fascinating colors that it exercised a wide and salutary influence. To the uninitiated in party politics it may seem strange that any one accused James Wilson of aristocracy or a want of patriotism. A purer friend of his country or a more ardent advocate of the cause of freedom could not be found among the sages of '76. He passed through the ordeal of party persecution several times but truth-telling time forced his enemies to retrace their steps disgraced and shamed.
On the 28th of August 1798 this venerable sage, eminent lawyer, able statesman, profound jurist and impartial judge took a final leave of earth and closed his eyes in death. He died of strangury whilst absent on his circuit. Fortunately he was with his friend Judge Iredell in Edenton North Carolina where his ashes repose in peace. During his last illness he realized the proverbial hospitality of the south and was cared for in the kindest manner.
The private character of Judge Wilson was beyond reproach. He was a warm friend, an affectionate husband, a faithful father, a consolation to the widow and the fatherless, an upright and honest man.
In reviewing the history of this worthy man no one can doubt his patriotism and purity. No room is left to question his devotion to the American cause and his firm opposition to British oppression. Influenced by noble motives, guided by liberal principles-it is painful to reflect that he was often wounded in the house of his professed friends by those who had sworn to support the same cause he so ardently and ably espoused. The solution of this paradoxical problem may be found in the present state of things without travelling back to that time of times, when party spirit should have withdrawn its hydra head into its legitimate Pandora box. We have those among us who live under the profective mantle of the Federal Constitution and the laws based upon it, who denounce that Constitution and refuse obedience to statutes accor ng with it unless those statutes advance their interests and chime with their revolutionary views. They are cancers on the body politic loathsome to the sight of every friend of our country-to every advocate of our Union. It would promote our safety and their happiness to colonize them beyond fifty-four forty.
The man who makes the Bible his counsellor-the polar star of his actions, will not go far astray. Divine in its origin, the sublimity of its language caps the climax of composition. As a history of the grand epoch when God said-“ Let there be light-and there was light”-it stands alone clothed in all the majesty of Divinity. As a chronicle of the creation of man after the moral image of Deity-of his ruinous fall-of the glorious plan of his redemption-it must remain unrivalled. As a chart of human nature-human rights and wrongs and of the attributes of the great Jehovah-in precision, fullness and force of description it far exceeds the boldest strokes, the finest touches of the master spirits of elocution in every age. As a system of morals and religion-the efforts of men to add to its transcendent beauty-its omnipotent strength-are as vain as an attempt to bind the wind or imprison the occan. As a book of poetry and eloquence-it rises in grandeur above the proudest production of the most brilliant talents that have illuminated and enraptured the classic world. As a book of Revelation-it cast a flood of light upon the wilderness of mind that shed fresh lustre upon reason, science and philosophy. As a book of counsel-its wisdom is profound, boundless, infinite. It meets every case in time and is a golden chain reaching from earth to Heaven. It teaches our native dignity-the duties we owe to our God, families, parents, children and our fellow men. It teaches us how to live and how to die-arms the Christian in panoply complete-snatches from death its painful sting-from the grave its boasted victory and points the pious soul to its crowning glory-a blissful immortality beyond the skies. The man who is led by this sacred book to lean upon the Supreme Ruler of revolving worlds, has a sure support that earth cannot give or take away. When we can rightfully appeal to Heaven for aid in our undertakings, faith bids us onward and fear no danger.
A large portion of the most prominent patriots of the American Revolution were pious men. I am not aware of one who did not believe in an overruling Providence. Several of them were devoted ministers of the gospel. Among these was John Witherspoon, born in the parish of Yester near Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 5th of February 1722. He was a lineal descendant of John Knox the celebrated reformer. The father of John was minister of Yester parish and moulded the mind of this son in the ways of wisdom, virtue and science. At an early age he placed him in the Haddington school where the rare beauties of his young mind unfolded like the flowers of spring. He soared above the trifling allurements that too often lead childhood and youth astray. His studies were his chief delight. He exhibited a maturity of judgment, clearness of perception and depth of thought-seldom maifested in juvenile life. He entered the Edinburgh University at the age of fourteen and fully realized the anticipations of his friends in his educational advancement. Especially did he excel in theology. He passed the ordeal of his final examination at the age of twenty-one and was licensed to proclaim to his fellow men the glad tidings of the Gospel of Peace. He immediately became the assistant of his revered father-a favorite among their parishioners-an eloquent preacher of plain practical Christianity.
On the 17th of January 1746, he was a “ looker on in Vienna" at the battle of Falkirk and with many others whose curiosity had led them to the scene of action, was seized by the victorious rebels and imprisoned in the castle of Doune. After his release he resided a few years at Beith, subsequently at Paisly-rendering himself very useful as an exemplary and faithful minister. During his residence at the latter place he received urgent calls from Dublin, Rotterdami and Dundee He also had an invitation to fill the presidential chair of the College of New Jersey in America to which he had been elected on the 19th of November 1766. This was done at the suggestion of Richard Stockton. A general demurrer by his friends and a special demurrer by his relatives were entered against his acceptance. Ingenious arguments were used to sustain the pleas put in. The delights of his native home-the horrors of
the western wilderness were placed before him in fearful contrast. A very wealthy bachelor relative offered to will him his large estate if he would remain. For a year he declined the proffered chair. During that time his lady caught “the missionary fever" and became anxious to embark for the new world-removing every obstacle with the ingenuity and perseverance peculiar to woman when bent upon the accomplishment of a noble object. On the 9th of December 1767 Mr. Stockton had the pleasure of communicating his acceptance to the trustees of the college which was most joyfully received.
Early in the ensuing August he arrived with his family and was inaugurated at Princeton on the 17th of that month. His literary fame had been spread through the Colonies and caused an immediate accession of students-a new impetus to the institution-a renovation of the
a empty treasury of the college. He introduced a thorough and har, monious system in all its departments and fully answered the most sanguine anticipations of his warmest friends.
His mode of instruction was calculated to expand the ideas of his students and launch them upon the sea of 'investigation. He expelled the dogmatical and bewildering clouds of metaphysical fatality and mystic physiology that rendered darkness visible in the old schools. He illuminated the minds of his students with the mellow
of scientific truth based upon enlightened philosophy, sound reason, plain common sense and liberal principles. He taught them to explore the labyrinthian avenues of human nature-the vast circuit of their own immortal minds. He raised before them the curtain of the material, moral, physical and intellectual panorama-lucidly demonstrated their harmonious unity of action-perfected by the great Architect of this mighty machinery made for man. He pointed them to the duties they owed to themselves, their fellow men, their country and their God. He awa. kened in their souls the living energies of charity that assimilates man to Deity and prompts him to noble god-like action. He taught them how to live and be useful-how to throw off this mortal coil when the journey of life should end. His instructions were luminous and enriching-his precepts fertilizing as the dew of Hermon.
On the flood tide of a high literary and theological fame he floated peacefully along until the revolutionary storm drove him from the college and the pulpit of his church to a different sphere of action. Before coming to America he understood well the relations between the mother country and the colonies. He was master of civilian philosophy, international law, monarchical policy and the principles of rational freedom. The enrapturing beauties of Liberty and the hideous deformity
of tyranny passed in review before his gigantic mind. in the designs of creative Wisdom he saw the equal rights of man and resolved to vindicate them. He at once took a bold stand in favor of his adopted country. With an eagle's flight he mounted the pinnacle of political fame-with a statesman's eye he surveyed the mighty work before him. The plan of political regeneration stood approved by Heaven-he deter. mined to give his aid to the glorious cause. Most nobly did he discharge every duty assigned him.
From the commencement of revolutionary agitation he was a member of various committees and conventions formed for the purpose of seeking redress from the king-peaceably if possible-forcibly if necessary. He was a member of the Convention of New Jersey that framed the new Constitution in 1776. On the 20th of June the same year he was elected to the Continental Congress and most ably and eloquently advocated the Declaration of Independence to which he affixed his name, appealing to his God for approval-to the world for the justice of the cause he espoused. He was continued a member of Congress up to 1782 with the exception of one year and contributed largely in shedding lustre over its deliberations. With a mind and intelligence able to grasp, comprehend and expound the whole minutiæ of government and legislation, he combined a patriotic zeal and holy devotion for his country-unsurpassed by any of his colleagues. His labors were inces sant, his industry untiring, his perseverance unyielding-his patriotism as clear as the crystal fountain-pure as the pellucid stream.
During the time he served in the legislative halls he did not neglect the higher honors of the vineyard of his Lord and Master. He was often at the family altar, in the closet and the pulpit. He was one of the most able, eloquent and profound preachers of that eventful period, He was one of the brightest ornaments of the religion of the Cross-one of the strongest advocates in the cause of LIBERTY. As a speaker he was listened to with deep interest-as a systematic and logical debater he had few equals. His arguments were a posteriori, a priori and a fortiori-leading the mind from effect to cause, from cause to effect ang deducing the stronger reason. His corollaries were often of the most thrilling character. He sometimes resorted to syllogism with greai effect. His speeches would be a syllabus to many of modern times upon the same subjects. His memory was remarkably retentive, his perceptions clear, his judgment acute.
He was a member of the secret committee of Congress the duties of which were delicate and arduous. He was a member of the committee to co-operate with Gen. Washington in replenishing and regulating the