Jan. 24, 1833
To the Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix.
Sir:_ As the memory of the late Rev. A. Hoyt, will long be cherished with peculiar delight by his missionary and Cherokee friends, I trust a few lines from his pen will not be either unwelcome or unprofitable to your readers. The following was written at Willstown, March 30, 1826, and addressed to his sons, preparing for the ministry at the Theological Seminary, Maryville. As this has fallen into my hands, I take the liberty of forwarding you a copy.
D. S. B.
MY EVER DEAR SONS,
I hope you have been enabled to pass your school examination, in a good degree, to the satisfaction of your instructors, and without bringing any discredit on the Seminary. You are not to have a little respite from your studies, which may afford you time for reflection. You may find it profitable to review the past. I have no doubt but you have been 'diligent in business.' You inherit from your parents a disposition to persevere in whatever you undertake. But as the remainder of the test, 'Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.' You inherit from the same source, a dreadful clog,-a backwardness-a death-like stupidity, to all the finer, and more noble exercises of the soul,-to all that elevates man above the spirited animal,-to all that assimilates to angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. If you have had a good degree of this fervency of spirit,--this devotedness to God, you are indebted for it wholly to free mercy; and abounding grace. If the sciences have so occupied your attention, that you have had little life in religion, and have made no progress in piety, we shall all have reason to lament that so much time has been spent to so little purpose. Therefore while you are taking a retrospect of the winter past, permit a father to ask you to look into your closets, and your hearts; and in view of a preparation for the sacred ministry, see what progress you have made in piety. If you would please your Savor, seek first of all a nearness of heart to Him. The same is requisite for your usefulness and comfort here and a meekness for the saints in light. I wish you to be learned in the sciences I wish you to be mighty in the scriptures, but above all, that you be eminent for spiritual mindedness and ardent piety. This spirit is the gift of God, who has said, 'ask and ye shall receive.'
Few perhaps sufficiently realize the value and importance of closet devotion. Of all the neglects of my very unprofitable life, those of the closet cause the deepest regret. I wish my children to shun my false steps, and to follow me only as I have followed Christ, you will remember that it is said of Him, ' He overcame strong crying and tears.' If you add occasionally a day of fasting, I think you will find it beneficial. In your seminary do you have any days set apart for fasting? At Andover I think the professors and students have, stated by a semiannual fast. Perhaps the mixed character in your school, may render this inexpedient in the view of your directors. But there can be no objection to an occasional private fast, when your other duties will admit of it. In a word, 'It is good to draw nigh to God.' Our duty and interest,- our comfort and our usefulness are combined in urging us to do this by all the means which he appointed. You doubtless now consider it your great business to prepare for usefulness in the church below, I trust however that you will at the same time, seek to be useful as your pass along, strive to let no opportunity for usefulness pass unimproved. I would have you forward to bring yourselves into notice, or ever seem to obtrude yourselves into any service which does not belong to you, but what I mean is, that with meekness and unaffected humanity, as in the sight of God, you should at all times seek the advancement of the Redeemers kingdom; and never put off for tomorrow what can be done today. The future is all unknown to us- many young men of promising prospects with the dead before they had prepared to go out. What you call our time of preparation, may then be your only time of life. Let it then be improved for your own profit, and the profit of others, that at the day of judgment your present, and all your future days (be they more or less) may be reviewed with joy by yourselves, and by all with whom you are connected.