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Christian life. In March of the same year, 1841, with thirty others, he made a public profession of religion, uniting with the Clove Church, in that neighbourhood. Now he was a professed follower of Christ, a soldier of the cross, young, but strong in the Lord. His face was set toward heaven, and so was his heart.
"Grace begun in his soul wrought a great and decided change. With the resolute will and energy which I have mentioned, he had also an irritable temper, and these traits of character made him often overbearing. He had been the leader in the sports of the school, and many had found him too fond of having his own way. But it is the testimony of those who knew him then, that from the time he became a child of God, he was indeed a new creature. Patient perseverance took the place of fitful haste, decision in the right succeeded to a desire to have things to suit himself. Moral courage was soon revealed in his unbending opposition to all that was wrong in the school, even when he was compelled to stand alone. His example was thus a powerful aid in the discipline of the school, and his influence was felt, in-doors and out, upon all who were with him. The secret of this great change, and the rapid progress of grace in his soul, was his invariable habit of prayer. Without ostentation, he led a life of constant communion with God; seeking, day by day, the help he needed to overcome indwelling sin, get the victory over himself, and to be qualified for the service of the Saviour.
"During a school vacation, he was at home. His father was not a professor of religion, but Chester was encouraged to conduct family worship, which he did with readiness. One morning he had made arrangements with a friend for
an excursion that required them to make an early start. The horses were at the door. His friend was impatient, and reminded him that his hurry seemed to be over, asking him why he delayed. Righter simply remarked that the family were not quite ready for prayers, and he would start as soon as they had had morning worship. This friend was a neglecter of religion, and never had been in the habit of attending 'family prayers,' but without saying a word, he took his seat and remained, apparently interested in the service.
"Such an incident serves to shew the early decision which Righter had made to be prompt and faithful in the performance of Christian duty, and the habit thus formed grew with him till it became a part of his sanctified nature, an abiding principle which governed him at home and abroad, on land and sea. He was a praying youth and a praying man. He obtained strength in prayer. Great trials and strong conflicts were before him. Few men have been so soon called to make such sacrifices as he made, and to endure such temptations; and if he had not been strong with God, the world and the flesh would have prevailed. Then this record had never been made."
CHOOSING A PROFESSION-STRUGGLES AND DECISION
REV. GEORGE E. HILL-FIRST PREACHING.
RIGHTER was now at a point in his history where the choice of a profession or pursuit must be made. In the ardour of his first love for Christ and His cause, we would expect him to look at the ministry as his field, and that he would throw himself, heart and soul, into the work of preparation for that high and holy calling. Why should he not?
There were two reasons, at least, that he must meet and answer before he could decide the question that now pressed itself home on his conscience.
He was naturally of a jovial disposition. Fond of fun and frolic when a boy, he did not lose his love for innocent amusements when he forsook all that he knew were sinful. This was now in his way when he thought of entering the hallowed walks of the ministry. His fondness for pleasantry might degenerate into levity. Certainly he was now far from having that sobriety of manner which befits the clerical profession. If he should become a minister, and then dishonour the name and office by his inconsistent deportment, to the injury of the cause and the ruin of souls, it were better that he had
never been born, or that he had turned the current of his life into some channel where his example would be less conspicuous, and so less injurious. But this was not a fatal objection. He had found, by his own experience in the divine life, that grace could overcome nature, and his own good sense assured him that cheerfulness was far more desirable than austerity in the minister of the gospel. He was willing to trust God for help to subdue all that was positively wrong. While he would be a joyful Christian, he did not wish to appear to be anything else. This objection was, therefore, laid aside, but there was one more serious.
The father of Righter, if a Christian, was reserved in regard to his feelings, and made no profession, even to his nearest friends, of being interested, personally, in religion. Possessed of an ample property, and being largely engaged in business, he was a man of the world. Safe in his judgments, but enterprising and successful, he had several distinct branches of business, agricultural, mercantile, and manufacturing, in which he was engaged, with the aid of his sons. It was against his wishes that his son, Chester, began to turn his thoughts toward the ministry. It would be far more to the father's taste if the son would enter into business with him. It was easy for Mr Righter to set before his son inducements of a worldly nature, that would compel him to pause, and think twice and long, before he threw them aside, as unworthy of his pursuit and love. Righter has told me that this was a temptation and trial. While he justly regarded the gospel ministry as the wide field for usefulness that he burned to enter, he was not ignorant that he must sacrifice the prospect of wealth and future ease.
But the trial was greater when he saw his father advancing in years, and earnestly anxious to secure him in such pursuits as would make his son the companion and comfort of his old age. To become a minister, he must leave houses and lands, father and mother, for Christ's sake. This was the alternative. He has assured me that he was able without much of a struggle to forego the attractions of the world, but he desired greatly to please his father, and his mind was long in the balances of doubt as to what was duty in these circumstances. But the Lord was calling him, and the call proved to be irresistible. To his young and buoyant spirit no pleasure on earth was more alluring than the joy of publishing glad tidings of salvation. No wealth was more precious in his sight than the unsearchable riches of Christ, which one who called himself less than the least of all saints was permitted to preach to perishing men. And when he saw in the gospel that, in this very connexion, he was told by his Master to leave father and mother for the sake of the work to which he was called, he resolved, in the dew of his youth, to give himself to the ministry of reconciliation.
With this purpose once formed, he went forward steadily to realise the desires of his soul.
In the autumn of 1842 he entered Yale College, and after completing his course of study there and graduating with honour, he pursued the study of theology at New Haven and Andover. One of his classmates in college, who was afterwards an intimate friend, and our companion in travel, the Rev. George E. Hill, has given me a few memoranda of his literary career, which I here employ.
"He entered college with high resolutions to lead a life