A mournful satisfaction is indulged by the biographer in surveying the history of him who forms the subject of this sketch. It has been thought suitable to place his name among those whose energies were devoted to the cause of Christ in Virginia, as he was deeply interested in all our institutions, and felt himself in a measure identified with them. Nothing like an extended biography will be attempted, as the limits of this work will not allow due justice to, be done to his merits, and especially as it is superseded by a memoir in a separate volume which has been placed before the public. This volume contains a rich collection of facts deserving a place in the library of every American Baptist.*
Luther Rice was born in Northborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts. From earliest youth he was distinguished for love of study and the same indomitable perseverance in the prosecution of favorite objects which characterized him in all after life. It was soon discovered that he possessed a mind of no common order, and the best facilities were allowed by his parents for its cultivation. While prosecuting his preparatory studies, it pleased God to reveal his Son in him, and to make him an heir of eternal life. He became a member of the Congregational Church, and at once was, recognized among the most exemplary and active of the Lord's servants. Whenever he could find an opportunity of meeting the people of God for prayer or conference it was embraced with joy, and soon he was invited to lead in
public religious exercises. Feeling it to be an imperative duty to devote his life to the ministry, and desirous to obtain a thorough education, he entered Williams College in 1807. During his stay at this institution, he was not only a diligent and successful student, but specially devoted to God. A portion of his time was regularly employed in attending meetings for the benefit of persons in the vicinity of the college. It has been frequently stated by a member of the family in which he boarded, that he was regarded by all as an eminently holy man, maintaining habits of intimate communion with God, and giving promise of extended usefulness among his fellow-men. It was during his collegiate course, and indeed soon after his entrance into the college, that his attention was drawn to the subject of missions. Samuel G. Mills and he, with one or two other students, resolved to embrace the first opportunity of going to the heathen. At the same time, among the students at Andover, one of whom was Adoniram Judson, were three or four who were meditating the consecration of themselves to the cause of missions.
In 1810, Mr. Rice united with five of his brethren in addressing the General Association of Massachusetts, explaining their own views and feelings, and requesting the advice of their more experienced fathers. After the paper was prepared, his name with one other was withdrawn lest the churches should be deterred from action by the number who desired to be sent abroad. Their application at first excited among many the charge of rashness and fanaticism, and met decided repulse. But they had counted the cost and were not to be withstood in their purpose to preach among the heathen the unsearchable riches of Christ.
After the delay of some months, they received an appointment to labor in Burmah, from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, a society which had a few months before been organized. On the 6th of February, 1812, the subject of this memoir was ordained to the work of a missionary, in the Tabernacle Church in Salem. A few days after, in company with Mr. Hall, Mr. Nott and lady, he sailed from Philadelphia to Calcutta. On the next day Messrs. Judson and Newell, with their wives, sailed for the same place from Salem.
It will serve to present in a more striking light the circumstances
attending Mr. Rice's consecration to the Foreign Mission work, by introducing a letter from MIr. Judson, in reply to some inquiries on the subject:"MY DEAR BROTHER RICE:
"You ask me to give you some account of my first missionary impressions, and then of my early associates. Mine were occasioned by reading Buchanan's 'Star in the East,' in the year 1809, at the Andover Theological Seminary. Though I do not now consider that sermon as peculiarly excellent, it produced a very powerful effect on my mind. For some days, I was unable to attend to the studies of my class, and spent my time in wondering at my past stupidity, depicting the most romantic scenes in missionary life, and roving about the college rooms, declaiming on the subject of missions. My views were very incorrect, and my feelings extravagant; but yet I have always felt thankful to God for bringing me into a state of excitement, which was, perhaps, necessary in the first instance, to enable me to break the strong attachments I felt to home and country; and to endure the thought of abandoning all my wonted pursuits and animating prospects. That excitement soon passed away, but it left a strong desire to prosecute my inquiries, and to ascertain the path of duty.
"It was during a solitary walk in the woods, behind the college, while meditating and praying on the subject, and feeling half inclined to give it up, that the command of Christ, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,' was presented to my mind with such clearness and power, that I came to a full decision, and though great difficulties appeared in my way, resolved to obey the command at all events. But, at that period, no provision had been made in America for a Foreign Mission, and for several months after reading Buchanan, I found none among the students who viewed the subject as I did, and no minister in the place or neighborhood who gave me any encouragement; and I thought I should be under the necessity of going to England and placing myself under foreign patronage.
"My earliest missionary associate was 3 Nott, who, though he had recently entered the seminary, (in the early part of 1810,) was a member of the same class with myself. He had considered
[p. 463]the subject for several months, but had not fully made up his mind. About the same time, Mills, Richards, and others joined the seminary from William College, where they had for some time been in the habit of meeting for prayer and conversation on the subject of missions; but they entered the junior class, and had several years of theological study before them. You were of the same standing, but from some engagement (a school I believe) did not arrive so soon, though you ultimately finished your course before the others, and joined the first'party that embarked. Newell was the next accession from my own class.
"As to Hall, he was preaching at Woodbury, Connecticut. I heard that he once thought favorably of missions, and wrote him a short letter. He had just received a call to settle in that place, and was deliberating whether it was his duty to accept it or not when the letter was put into his hand. He instantly came to a decision, and the next rising sun saw him on the way to Andover. I think that he arrived about the time of the meeting of the General Association of Ministers at Bradford, in the summer of 1810. I do not, however, recollect him present at that meeting, nor was his name attached to the paper which was presented to the Association, and which was originally signed by Nott, Newell, Mills, Rice, Richards, and myself; though, at the suggestion of Dr. Spring, your name and Richards's, which happened to stand last, were struck off, for fear of alarming the Association with too large a number.
"I have ever thought that the providence of God was conspicuously manifested in bringing us all together from different and distant parts. Some of us had been considering the subject of missions for a long time, and some but recently. Some, and indeed the greater part, had thought chiefly of domestic missions and efforts among the neighboring tribes of Indians, without contemplating abandonment of country and devotement for life. The reading and reflection of others had led them in a different way; and when we all met at the same seminary, and came to a mutual understanding on the ground of foreign missions and missioans for life, the subject assumed in our minds such an overwhelming importance and awful solemnity as bound us to one another, and to our purpose more firmly than ever. How evident it is, that
the spirit of God had been operating in different places and upon different individuals, preparing the way for those movements which have since pervaded the American churches, and will continue to increase until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his anointed."
Referring to this eventful period in a letter to a friend, Mr.Rice observes: "After the Society of Inquiry at Andover was well established, the views of the brethren were turned very much toward the East. Judson was the first, as far as I know, who mentioned Burmah. He had read Buchanan's 'Star in the East,' his 'Christian Researches in Asia,' and 'Captain Simon's Embassy to Ava.' He insisted that the east afforded much the widest and most promising field for missionary exertions, and that the path of duty led in that direction. Six months after Mills and Richards joined the Theological Institution at Andover, it occurred to me (always pushing forward) that by leaving half a year behind at college, and joining half a year in advance at Andover, I could save a year between the two; and yet, by diligent application, accomplish the studies, so as to sustain the requisite examinations with my classmates in both institutions, which, with the concurrence of the president and his recommendation, was carried into effect, and I became connected with those at Andover, who were a year before me at William College. Here I became acquainted with Judson, but chiefly in the meetings of the secret society, as he was but little at Andover after I entered that seminary.
"In June, 1810, Gordon Hall, who had been preaching for some time, and who had been invited to become the pastor of a, church in Connecticut, came to Andover to consult with the professors, whether he ought not to hold himself devoted to missionary labor among the heathen. (Oh! how I love to trace important results to minute incidents!) It happened to be but a day or two before the meeting of the General Association of all the evangelical part of the ministers of Massachusetts, at Bradford, where the parents of Ann Haseltine lived, ten miles from the Institution, in Andover.
"The coming, and object of the coming of Hall, so enlivened the missionary sentiments and feelings, particularly in the bosoms
[p. 465]of the members of the Society, that Judson immediately wrote the memorial which you see in the memoirs of Mrs. Judson, addressed to' that body of ministers, which was subscribed, in the first instance, Adoniram Judson, Jr., Samuel Nott, Jr., Samuel J. Mills, Samuel Newell, James Richards, Luther Rice. The last two names were subsequently taken off, from a fear that the appearance of so many under such impressions of mind, when nothing had been previously known of this matter, not even by the professors, whose pupils thus suddenly burst forth in an attitude so peculiar, should create something of the nature of alarm, as if some kind of fanaticism had seized the minds all at once of the young ministers.
"The Association appointed a committee, to whom the memorial was referred, and who reported favorably; in consequence, nine commissioners were appointed by the same body, five of Massachusetts and four of Connecticut, who met in Connecticut in September of the same year, and formed the Constitution of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. This body, which thus emanated from that little secret society of youth formed at Williams College, in 1807, (of which I esteem it the happiest point in all my life to have been one of the original members,) now embraces the entire Congregational and Presbyterian denomination, and employs from a hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand dollars annually in their missionary exertions. From this arose the Baptist General Convention, formed in 1814; and since, more or less distinctly out of the same range of evangelical influence, the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society, the Columbian College, the Newton Theological Institution, and I know not how many other things of more or less importance. Glory be to God! attempt great things-expect great things." An event will now be recorded, which, considered in all its singular coincidences and powerful results, was evidently under the special direction of the great Head of the church. We refer to the change of sentiment underwent by three of this noble band on the subject of baptism. All their early habits of thought and association, and every feeling of interest, uttered a voice in opposition to this step. They were entire strangers to the Baptist
denomination, and as yet they could expect but little support from them in carrying on the missionary enterprise. But the mandate of their ascended Saviour was with them sufficient to determine their course. What in this circumstance was especially remarkable appears in the fact that, while Mr. Judson on his voyage was examining the subject of baptism, Mr. Rice, in another vessel without any previous concert, was engaged in the same process of investigation.
Referring to this circumstance, Dr. Carey remarks:On the first of November, he was buried with Christ by baptism, in the City of Calcutta, Mr. Judson and lady having previously taken the same step. "Brother Rice was, on the voyage, thought by our brethren to be the most obstinate friend of Pedobaptism of any of our missionaries. I cannot tell what has led to this change of sentiment, nor had I any suspicion of it, till one morning when he came, before I was up, to examine my Greek Testament; from some questions which he asked that morning I began to suspect that he was inquiring; but I yesterday heard that he was decidedly on the side of believers' baptism. I expect, therefore, that he will soon be baptized."
With respect to the change which was experienced by Mr. Rice, no doubt can be indulged that it was preceded by the same prayerful and protracted investigation. The struggle between the convictions of truth and prejudice was severe and desperate. lHe found himself exceedingly reluctant to break the denominational ties which bound him to so many of those in whose piety he had the fullest confidence, and to unite himself with a people to which he had been comparatively a stranger. He knew, too, that in the event of a change he should, with many, subject his character to reproach, and no longer be recognized as the authorized missionary of the Board. While all the means of support would thus be cut off, he was entirely uncertain as to the measure of countenance which would be given to missionary operations by the Baptists. There was no earthly motive in favor of the change; every selfish consideration was against it. Under these circumstances we might expect him to ponder well his steps, and to proceed no farther than the most solemn convictions of duty should require. During the progress of these
investigations he appeared as the advocate of infant baptism whenever he conversed with Baptists, not allowing them to know the scruples which had taken possession of his mind until a short time previous to his requesting baptism.
The following extract from the pen of Mr. Judson will be read with interest, as it throws additional light on this part of the biography. "Mr. Rice arrived in Calcutta about six weeks' after those of us who sailed from Salem. At that time I was deeply involved in the subject of baptism, which I had begun to investigate on board ship, and I soon learned that some of the passengers from Philadelphia were in a similar position, and that Mr. Rice had rather distinguished himself by reading everything within his reach and manifesting uncommon obstinacy in defending the old system.
"Soon after my baptism he came to live with me, in order to enjoy better accommodations than he found elsewhere. At first he was disposed to give me fierce battle; but I held off, and recommended him to betake himself to the Bible and prayer. He did so, and lived much by himself, so that I seldom saw him, except at meals. But his inquiries, when we met, soon assumed that cool and solemn air which left me no doubt as to what would be the result of his investigation. His mind remained undecided throughout the month of September; so that, though perhaps he expected to become a Baptist, he signed the joint letter of the brethren which you allude to, as a thing of course, though that letter mentions my change of sentiment as a'trying event,' and states the inexpediency of our laboring in the same missionary field. In the month of October, his mind became fully decided, and he was baptized on the first of November. In all this I discover not the slightest inconsistency, though persons at a distance, and not acquainted with the circumstances, might make the desired discovery.
"Both Mr. Rice and myself have been accused of changing our sentiments suddenly, prematurely, and, of course, through the influence of interested motives. The truth is, that a Pedobaptist examining the subject of baptism, though about convinced of the truth, is reluctant to communicate the real state of his mind, even to his nearest friends, lest he should finally resettle in his old
sentiments, and be ashamed to have it known that lie ever had a serious doubt on the subject. The consequence is, that when he can hold out no longer, and the unexpected fact is thrust perhaps unceremoniously into the faces of his friends, they all stand aghast, and are ready to ascribe his change to any other than an honest influence. "
In a letter to his parents, dated November second, Mr. Rice says: "Whatever may be the consequence of this change, as it respects the Board of Commissioners and my numerous Christian friends in America, I cannot say, nor am I very anxious about it, though by no means indifferent to public opinion or insensible to the delicacy and serious responsibility of my situation; but let consequences be what they may, I hope nothing shall deprive me of the consolation resulting from a conscience void of offence. Yesterday, I was baptized by the Rev. Mr. Ward, and enjoyed the privilege of uniting with the Baptist church in Calcutta in celebrating the sacred ordinance of the Lord's Supper. It was a comfortable day to my soul!" In a subsequent communication, addressed to his brother, he thus gives vent to his feelings on this subject: "Little did I think,, dear brother, when conversing with you respecting Mr. G., that I should so soon belong to the same denomination with hima denomination which I had thought, in no small degree, reprehensible for party feeling and sectarian conduct. I now believe that these things are not more justly chargeable to the Baptists than other denominations of professed Christians. It has, indeed, been no small trial to me to change my sentiments in a situation so conspicuous and delicate and so highly responsible, though I now conceive it to be a distinguished favor of Divine Providence." These extracts furnish unequivocal evidence that the subject of this memoir was compelled to unite with the Baptists by the stern demands of duty. He knew not, as he remarked, what would be the consequence; but he was willing to trust in the Lord and do good, believing that necessary guidance and support would be bestowed. Too many instances are found among the professed followers of Christ in which worldly policy or convenience is allowed to control their minds, preventing, if not the performance of known duty, the investigation of its claims. A distinction is
made between essentials andl non-essentials, and if the former be complied with, it is considered quite pardonable to dispense with the latter. This spirit of compromise is far from being consistent with the devotion which should be cherished by a soul bought with the precious blood of Christ. It is the result of a selfishness which would say, I am willing to do what is essential to secure heavenly bliss, rather than inquire, How shall I best please and honor him who died for me and rose again? All must perceive that the latter question is that which should constantly press upon the conscience and interest the heart of one who justly contemplates his responsibilities to an infinitely gracious Redeemer. Thus, for conscience sake, they were separated from those on whom they were dependent for support, and it was determined that Mr. Rice should return to America for the purpose of bringing the interest of pagan nations before the attention of the Baptist denomination. He sailed for this country in March, 1813. Upon his arrival he visited a large number of churches, and succeeded in awakening a lively concern for the perishing heathen. Numerous missionary societies were organized, chiefly by his direct instrumentality; and in the spring of 1814 the Baptist General Convention was formed.
Although he, with Mr. and Mrs. Judson, were at once appointed by the Convention as their missionaries, it was deemed advisable that Mr. Rice should remain in the United States for the purpose of forming auxiliary societies and creating a permanent interest in the mission throughout the entire denomination. Accordingly he visited almost every part of the Union, and was successful beyond the most sanguine expectations of the Board. He continued to prosecute the duties of his agency for several years, and nothing could exceed his ardor and enterprise in this his favorite employ. No surmountable impediments were allowed to obstruct his course, no privations or sufferings were regarded, while he could in any way promote the cause of his Master.
The following extract from one of his annual reports will furnish a correct specimen of his feelings and habits while engaged in this agency: "Since the date of my letter of the 19th of June, 1816, I have traveled 6600 miles, in populous and in dreary portions of country,
through wildernesses and over rivers, across mountains and valleys, in heat and cold, by day and by night, in weariness, and painfulness, and fastings, and loneliness; but not a moment has been lost for want of health; no painful calamity has fallen to my lot; no peril has closed upon me; nor has fear been permitted to prey on my spirits, nor even inquietude to disturb my peace. Indeed, constantly has the favorable countenance of society toward the great object of the mission animated my hopes, while thousands of condescending personal attentions and benefits to myself and the cause have awakened emotions which it is alike impossible to conceal, or to find terms sufficiently delicate and expressive to declare; and the fact that although so large a portion of the whole time has been unavoidably taken up in passing from place to place, I have, besides many other aids and liberalities, received for the missionary object, in cash and subscription, more than $4000, could not fail to create a confidence of success in the general concern, which nothing but a reverse, most unlikely to occur, can possibly destroy. This fact, too, is the more animating and sustaining, because, while the sum is but little larger than what passed through my hands last year, the time of collecting it has been considerably shorter, and a much smaller proportion of it consists of remittances from mission societies; remittances being this year made by the delegates to the convention. This, therefore, in conjunction with the multiplying of mission societies, especially considering some other things not necessary to be here mentioned, marks decisively a regularly growing increase of evangelic missionary zeal; and who can repress the exclamation, the Lord hath done great things for us! blessed be the Lord God, who only doeth wondrous things; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory!"
Among other objects which earlier engaged the attention of Mr. Rice was the cause of education. Hle saw the necessity of elevating the standard of ministerial improvement among the Baptists, and applied himself with unwearied diligence to this work. In 1821 the Columbian College Was chartered, and commenced its operations under most favorable auspices. At that time but few colleges and seminaries of learning had been fostered among the Baptists. It was deemed by Mr. Rice an object of vital importance to rear a central institution of high literary character,
which should collect the most promising talents of our country, and afford facilities for the education of those young men who might be licensed by the churches to preach the gospel. The history of this institution is well known. For its welfare he spent the best of his days. Although it has not answered all the expectations of its friends, it has been eminently useful. Many of the best and most talented of our ministry have been educated within its walls.
Some have been inclined to attribute all the reverses of the college to the mismanagement of its agent. That in some things he did wrong, it will not be denied, and it will also be conceded that as a financier he was not skilled; but there were others who equally with him were entitled to a share of the blame. In 1826 the college was separated from the Baptist General Convention, and after this period he ceased to be the authorized agent of the board. He however continued to employ his time and talents in endeavoring to relieve the institution from its heavy embarrassments. To the end of life this object engrossed his chief attention. Still he was not indifferent to the various other plans of exertion connected with the spread of the RPedeemer's kingdom. Is conversation in the social circle, his pulpit labors, and his addresses at associational and missionary meetings, were all powerfully influential in exciting the spirit of universal philanthropy. Although it may be doubted by some whether he did right in not ultimately joining his early coadjutors in the mission field, there is decided proof that the Baptists of this country owe more to him in regard to the education and mission cause than to any other man. It is questionable whether many other men among us have, with such unwearied assiduity and disinterested devotion, given themselves to the interest of truth and righteousness. In the Southern States, and especially Virginia, his influence will be felt while time endures. From his earliest labors as an agent he was exercising a power over men's minds, and giving them a holy direction. Eternity alone will develop the amount of good which has been effected by his instrumentality.
It will be gratifying to the reader to know that the first impulse to labor for the dying heathen which the devoted Kincaid received, was produced by one of Mr. Rice's sermons. In a letter from
Mr. Kincaid, dated February 12th, 1835, he thus writes:
"It is impossible for me to forget the first, and the only time I have ever had the pleasure of seeing you. I heard you preach three times in the course of twenty-four hours, on the subject of carrying the gospel to benighted India. From that day onward I thought of the heathen world; an impression was made which time could not efface, and I began to pray for pagans of every land. Your preaching, which first led me to think of being a missionary among the heathen, is as fresh in my mind as though it was but yesterday." The limits of this sketch will not permit us much farther to contemplate the labors of this devoted man. From the ample materials collected, the biographer has already, in a distinct volume, selected and arranged facts which cannot fail to interest the reader. A brief reference to the character of Mr. Rice will now be added from the pen of Dr. Jonathan Going: "He possessed a vigorous, discriminating, and comprehensive mind. There were in its constitution the stamina of mental greatness, and it had been well trained by a good education, and enriched by reading, acquaintance with society, and much reflection. He took enlarged and accurate views of all subjects which fell within the circle of his observation.
"He had great decision of character. Indeed this may be said to have been his distinguishing characteristic. He was naturally ardent and adventurous, and felt great confidence in his own powers, and the circumstances in which he was placed tended to fix and consolidate this trait of character. When he returned to this country, and entered on a course of efforts to sustain foreign missions, the enterprise was new to our people, and they were without the lights of experience; all turned their eyes to Mr. R. as a kind of oracle, and his opinions were almost of course adopted. And as he became acquainted with those with whom he was associated, it is not improbable that he perceived that generally, however ardently attached to the cause of missions, they would not add much to him in conference, and, of course, that he must consult himself chiefly, in order to accomplish the object before him. Besides, lie met with no small measure of opposition from many who should have strengthened his hands and aided his efforts;
[p. 473]and opposition tends greatly to strengthen the decided character. And again, he at length found himself deserted by many who had stricken hands with him, and from whom he seemed to have a right to expect better things; and desertion, too; more than almost any other thing, seems to strengthen such a mind, though it may break down one which is naturally feeble and irresolute.
"We have proof of this trait in his character, not only in his enterprise of awakening the denomination to missionary effort, and his perseverance in efforts to accomplish it amid discouragements, but especially in the pertinacity with which he clung to the college when it was nearly deserted by its friends, and apparently sinking under its misfortunes. And an illustration of it is afforded in an incident which occurred in 1832. While at Providence, Rhode Island, Mr. R. had a slight paralytical affection, and was informed, by the attending physician, that he would probably be soon visited by a recurrence of the shock, which would terminate his life. A friend asked him if he was ready to die. To the inquiry, he replied: 'Yes, though I should like to bring up the college first.' This is almost an instance of 'The ruling passion strong in death.'
It is not improbable that this attribute of character betrayed him into some imprudences, which were in the issue as much regretted by himself as they were by others.
"He was eminently disinterested. For twelve years be labored incessantly and laboriously for the small pittance of $400 per annum beyond his traveling expenses. We doubt whether there was an individual in the United States who endured so much exposure, who traveled so extensively, and who at the same time preached so much; and we doubt, also, whether there are more than a very few who could endure so much. To meet the wants of the college, he eventually relinquished all these small savings, together with some $2000 or $3000, which he inherited as a patrimony; so that in 1826,he was without a cent in the world. From that time till his death, he traveled almost constantly to preach and to collect for the college, without the least support from the college or salary from any other institution. Indeed,
we believe that he, in a great measure, defrayed his traveling expenses from the sale of a few religious books, while the balance was borne by individual friends, who also furnished him with his wearing apparel. And, at his death, we suspect that his horse and sulky constituted all his earthly treasure, and these he directed to be forwarded to Washington, saying that all belonged to the college. And though some of his enemies maliciously accused him of embezzling funds committed to his charge, and though many doubted the wisdom of some of his plans, it is believed that no man acquainted with the facts even suspected him of speculation or dishonesty. In a word, if we have ever known a disinterested man, that man was Luther Rice.
"Mr. Rice was distinguished for great elasticity of mind, and an exuberant flow of animal feeling. He was apparently always cheerful and always buoyant with hope. We remember hearing his eldest brother say of him: 'Luther always looked for prosperity, and he always expected that to-morrow would be not only a fair day, but a little fairer than to day.' This cheerfulness of temper sometimes led him into slight improprieties, which were spoken of with regret by his friends, and seized on by the enemies of the great cause he advocated as an argument against his piety, though those who knew him best believed him a genuine Christian. For the last few years of his life, however, he was more solemn in his manner of conversation, and uniformly devout in his habits. His cheerfulness was evidently chastened into greater sobriety, and there is every reason to believe that his heart was more fully sanctified. We believe that he admitted and lamented his former levity; it seems to have been his temptation, as despondency, or fretfulness, or pride, is that of others.
"He was a sound divine and an able preacher. He was wellgrounded in the great doctrines of the gospel, and exhibited its truths in the proportions they bear to each other in the Scriptures. His sermons were well digested and skillfully arranged. They were usually delivered with a good degree of unction and in an impressive manner. He preached at once to the understanding, the conscience, and the heart. Had he devoted himself to literary or theological studies, he would have shone as a scholar or a theologian. Had he entered exclusively on the ministerial office, he
[p. 475]would have acquired distinction as a preacher and a pastor. Or had he returned (according to his intention when he left India) to the missionary field, he would have occupied a rank with the venerated Judson, to whom in very many respects he was in noways inferior. As it was, he did not live in vain. So far from it, that the Baptist denomination in the United States have had scarcely his equal among them, and to few are they more indebted. That he had faults, his friends admit, and he lamented; but he had redeeming qualities, which entitle his character to universal respect; and his memory will be cherished by all who knew him well, and most affectionately by those who knew himbest and longest."
After an illness of three weeks, this laborious servant of the Redeemer closed his mortal career at the house of Dr. R. G. Mays, Edgefield District, South Carolina, on Saturday, September 25th, 1836. His remains were deposited near the Pine Pleasant Baptist Meeting-house. The South Carolina Baptist Convention have caused a large marble slab to be placed over his grave. ___________
* A memoir of Mr. Rice was prepared several years ago by James B. Taylor, and published in a 12mo. volume of more than three hundred pages. Two editions have been issued.
[From James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, 1859, pp. 460-475. — jrd]
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