Pickering, George

Pickering, George one of the great pioneers of New England Methodism, was born in Talbot County, Maryland, in 1769, converted in St. George's Church, Philadelphia, when eighteen years old, and almost immediately began his public labors. In 1790 he was received on probation by the Conference, and for fifty-six years continued to receive its appointments, and lived to be the oldest active preacher in the itinerancy. He died December 8, 1846, retaining his mental faculties to the last hour; and as he laid aside his armor to give up the ghost, could use such language as "All my affairs for time and eternity are settled, glory be to God." George Pickering was a rare man in all respects. Any just delineation of him must comprehend the whole man, for it was not his distinction to be marked by a few extraordinary traits, but by general excellence. In person he was tall, slight, and perfectly erect. His countenance was expressive of energy, shrewdness, self-command, and benignity; and in advanced life his silvered locks, combed carefully behind his ears, gave him a striking appearance. The exactitude of his mind extended to all: his physical habits. In pastoral labors, exercise, diet, sleep, and dress, he followed a fixed course, which scarcely admitted of deviation. Almost unerring prudence marked his life. If not sagacious at seizing new opportunities, he was almost infallibly perfect in that negative prudence which secures safety and confidence. No man who knew him would have apprehended surprise or defeat in any measure undertaken by him after his usual deliberation. His character was full of energy, but it was the energy of the highest order of minds, never varving, never impulsive. He continued to the last to wear the plain, Quakerlike dress of the first Methodist ministry. His voice was clear and powerful, and his step firm to the end. His intellectual traits were not of the highest, but of the most useful order. Method was perhaps his strongest mental habit, and it comprehended nearly every detail of his daily life. His sermons were thoroughly "skeletonized." He pretended to no subtlety, and was seldom if ever known to preach a metaphysical discourse. The literal import of the Scriptures, and its obvious applications to experimental and practical religion, formed the substance of his sermons. Perspicuity of style resulted from this perspicacity of thought. The most unlettered listener could have no difficulty in comprehending his meaning, and the children of his audience generally shared the interest of his adult hearers. See Stevens, Hist. of the Meth. Episc. Church; N.Y. Methodist, volume 7, No. 6; Sherman, New England Sketches, pages 399; Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 7:196-200. (J.H.W.)

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