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age in which he lived. The success of Doctor Wheelock, in his benevolent plans, was greatly owing to the assistance of this worthy man. Though separated by the ocean, their souls were one, animated with the same hope, and fired to action by the same love of God and man. So unbounded was the confidence of Mr. Thornton in Doctor Wheelock's wisdom and fidelity, that he directed him to draw on him for any sums he might need in carrying on his benevolent designs for the poor heathen. His confidence was never abused. He also settled an annual pension of an hundred dollars on Mr Occum, which was much his dependance through life. The excellent spirit of this good and great man, breathes in his letters, a number of which are inserted in the annexed correspondence of Doctor Wheelock. In this selfish world such a character is contemplated with unspeakable satisfaction. A celebrated poet, whose powers of genius and brilliancy of fancy, were consecrated to the cause of God and religion, pays the following merited tribute of respect to this worthy man.
"Some men make gain a fountain, whence proceeds
It is said of Solomon, that The Lord gave him largeness of heart, even as the sand on the sea shore: such a peculiar disposition for whatever was good or benevolent, was also bestowed on Mr. Thornton. He differed as much from rich men of ordinary bounty, as they do from others, that are
parsimonious. Nor was this bounty the result of occasional impulse, like a summer shower, violent and short; on the contrary, it proceeded like a river, pouring its waters through various countries, copious and inexhaustible. Nor could those obstructions of imposture and ingratitude, which have often been advanced, as the cause of damming up other streams, prevent or retard the course of this. The generosity of Mr. Thornton, indeed, frequently met with such hinderances, and led him to increasing discrimination, but the stream of his bounty never ceased to hold its course. Deep, silent, and overwhelming, it still rolled on, nor even ended with his life.
But the fountain from whence his benevolence flowed, and by which its permanency and direction were maintained, must not be concealed. Mr. Thornton was a christian. Let no one however, so mistake me here as to suppose that I mean nothing more by the term christian, than the state of one who, convinced of the truth of revelation, gives assent to its doctrines; regularly attends its ordinances, and maintains an external, moral, and religious deportment. Such an one may have a name to live while he is dead; he may have a form of godliness without the power of it; may even be found denying and ridiculing that power, till at length, he can only be convinced of his error by an infallible tribunal, where a widow that gives only her mite, or a publican, that smites on his breast shall be preferred before him.
Mr. Thornton was a Christian indeed, that is, he was alive to God by a spiritual regeneration. With this God he was daily and earnestly transacting that infinite affair, the salvation of his own soul; and next to that the salvation of the souls of others. Temperate in all things, though
mean in nothing, he made provision for doing good with his oppulence, and seemed to be most in his element when appropriating a considerable part of his large income to the necessities of others. But Mr. Thornton possessed that discrimination in his attempts to serve his fellow creatures, which distinguishes an enlightened mind. He habitually contemplated man, as one, who has not only a body, subject to want, af fliction, and death, but also a spirit, which is immortal, and must be happy or miserable forever. He therefore felt that the noblest exertions of charity are those, which are directed to the relief of the noblest part of our species. Accordingly, he left no mode of exertion untried to relieve man under his natural ignorance and depravity. To this end he purchased advowsons and presentations, with a view to place in parishes the most enlightened, active, and useful ministers. He employed the extensive commerce in which he was engaged, as a powerful instrument for conveying immense quantities of bibles, prayer-books, and the most useful publications, to every place visited by our trade. He printed, and at his sole expence, large editions of the latter for this purpose; and it may safely be affirmed, that there is scarcely a part of the known world, where such books could be introduced, which did not feel the salutary influence of this single individual. Nor was Mr. Thornton limited in his views of promoting the interests of real religion, with what sect soever it was connected. He stood ready to assist a beneficial design in every party, but would be the creature of none. General good was his object and whenever, or however, it made its way, his maxim seemed constantly to be valeat quantum valere potest.
But the nature and extent of his liberality will be greatly misconceived, if any one should suppose it confined to moral and religious respects, though the grandest and most comprehensive exertions of it. Mr. Thornton was a philanthropist on the largest scale; the friend of man under all his wants. His manner of relieving his fellow men was princely; instances might be mentioned of it were it proper to particularize, which would surprise those, who did not know Mr. Thornton. They were so much out of ordinary course and expectation, that I know some, who felt it their duty to enquire of him, whether the sum, they had received was sent by his intention or by mistake? To this may be added, that the manner of presenting his gifts was as delicate and concealed, as the measure was large.
Beside this constant course of private donations, there was scarcely a public charity, or occasion of relief to the ignorant or necessitous, which did not meet with his distinguished support. His only question was, "May the miseries of man in any measure be removed, or alleviated?" Nor was he merely distinguished by stretching out a liberal hand; his benevolent heart was so intent on doing good, that he was ever inventing and promoting plans for its diffusion at home or abroad.
He that acts wisely to promote any end, will as wisely regard the means; in this Mr. Thornton was perfectly consistent. In order to execute his beneficent designs, he observed frugality and exactness in his personal expences. By such prospective methods, he was able to extend the influence of his fortune far beyond those who, in still more elevated stations, are slaves to ex
pensive habits. Such men meanly pace in trammels of the tyrant custom, till it leaves them scarcely enough to preserve their conscience, or even their credit, much less to employ their talents in Mr. Thornton's noble pursuits; he however could afford to be generous; and while he was generous, he did not forget his duty in being just. He made ample provision for his children, and though, while they are living, it would be indelicate to say more, I am sure of speaking the truth, when I say, that they are so far from thinking themselves impoverished by the bounty of their father, that they contemplate with the highest satisfaction the fruit of those benefits to society, which he planted; which it may be trusted will extend with time itself, and which after his example, they still labor to extend.
But with all the piety and liberality of this honored character, no man had deeper views of his own unworthiness before his God; to the Redeemer's work alone he looked for acceptance of his person and services; he felt that all he did, or could do, was infinitely short of that which had been done for him, and of the obligations that were thereby laid upon him. It was this abasedness of heart toward God, combined with the most singular largeness of heart toward his fellow creatures, which distinguished John Thornton among men.
Mr. Thornton was a lover of all good men. An intimate friendship subsisted between him and the Rev. Mr. Newton, of Olney. They combined their distinct talents, in promoting the same benevolent cause. Mr. Thornton left a sum of money with Mr. Newton, to be appropriated to the defraying his necessary expences, and relieving the poor. "Be hospitable," said