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Childhood.—College Life.—Studies Medicine–Acknowledges God.— Beginning of his Domestic Life.—Twofold Profession.—Church Relations.
THE subject of this memoir was a native of Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The date of his birth was Sept. 3, 1793. His father and mother were Joseph and Maria Scudder. The father was a lawyer of repute, a gentleman of the old school, and his mother was a lady of high culture, winning manners, and exalted piety. Mrs. Scudder was connected with the Johnstons of Revolutionary memory. Her father was colonel of the First New Jersey regiment in our Revolutionary War, and fell at the battle of Long Island while bravely storming a strong position of the enemy.*
* “His death,” says one acquainted with the circumstances, “was sincerely lamented by all who knew him, not only as a great private but public loss, the more so as he fell a sacrifice to obstimacy. General Sullivan commanded that day, and directed Colonel Johnston to take the position. Colonel Johnston, having served in the French War under Sir William Johnston, and understanding his profession well, suggested to Gen. S. the impracticability of the enterprise. Sullivan, in anger, replied, ‘Sir, it is your place to obey, not to dictate or expostulate.’ “Sir,’ retorted Colonel
This son John was dedicated in his infancy to God, and, by his mother's testimony—corroborated in after life by himself—was like Samuel, a child of God from his birth. The mother stated that she never knew when he was converted, “for he seemed always to be possessed with the Christian temper.” Such cases are not common, but who will say they are not possible?
Probably this spiritual born, or twice-born child, discovered little in his early development to distinguish him from other amiable and obedient children. There was always with him a conscientious regard to truth, and an affectionate compliance with the parental wishes. Still it must be supposed that he played and sported, and in every respect acted like other children. It is probable, also, that occasionally he was surprised into delinquencies common to impetuous youth; but when his fault was pointed out to him, he expressed his sorrow and made resolutions of amendment. This would not be inconsistent with the declaration of his mother—“that she scarcely knew when he was converted; he was always good.”
One trait, however, characteristic of the man, was developed in the boy—a spirit of benevolence and self-sacrifice. “My brother John,” writes his sister, “manifested a very devotional spirit from boyhood upward; also a benevolent gift was in him. He would run about the Johnston, ‘I will convince you that I can and will obey; but it will be at the sacrifice of my own life, and that of all the brave band I have the honor to command.’ The prophecy proved but too true; but one man es
caped out of all the number. That man was Captain Grey, who related the event to my mother with tears.”
streets and highways of Freehold and gather sticks to kindle the fires of the destitute. The little fellow was one day drawing a very heavy rail. A person called out, ‘John, what are you going to do with that? “I am taking it to Miss Becky, who has no fire.” The person alluded to was poor and infirm. “There was a man who lived near us addicted to strong drink—a bad man, driving his pious wife from her home at midnight, when she sought her father's house for shelter. John, who frequently went to him, said one day, ‘Mr. C., why do they call you “Devil John ” The wife was terrified, fearing he might hurt the child. She was a strict Episcopalian. My brother said to Mr. C., “If you will throw away your bottle for forty days, I will keep Lent with your wife.’ This agreement was verified—the performance was sure. It was the beginning of better days with this man. He abstained totally, lived years after this, and professed Christ in the Presbyterian Church. My brother sent him a message from India as follows: ‘I charge Mr. Conover to meet me in heaven,” which affected the old gentleman very much. He said John had great influence over him.” - . It might be supposed that a youth of such feelings and habits would scarcely have had any deep views of the heart's corruption, whereas we never knew a Christian who had a more overwhelming sense of his own deprav
While in Princeton College, young Scudder was not only attentive to his duties as a scholar, but also as a Christian. He was watching for opportunities to do good, and striving, in every possible way, to win his fellow-students over to the cause of Christ. The following letter is a noble testimony to his faithfulness. It seems to have been addressed to his father, and comes from one whose praise is in many of the churches.
“Wilmington, November 16, 1855. “In compliance with your request, my venerable friend, I give you in writing what was a day or two since communicated to you orally, though I am sure it will appear differently; but please take ‘the will for the deed.’ “I find, from the date of my diploma, I entered college in the spring of 1813, some four months before your devoted son graduated. I shall ever regard that short acquaintance with such a youth as having an important influence over my whole course of life. “It commenced in this wise. While sitting in a neighboring room with Some classmates, a tall, pale young man came in. Being introduced to Mr. Scudder, his reply, according to custom, was, “I’ll be happy to see you at No. 47.’ While he remained, which was but for a moment, there was a general stillness, and when he had gone one of our company remarked, ‘That fellow is so religious One can hardly laugh in his presence.’ A secret influence touched the heart of one in that company, and, unconscious of its cause as he then was, the thought instantly arose, ‘I had far better keep company with such a person.’ “Returning to my lonely room, for I had not yet become acquainted with half a dozen in the place, this thought followed me—“There, now, you have one of the right kind of associates in this building.” But for a while I had to battle with questions of this sort: Shall I at Once stand face to face with a principle of right, or give in to the doctrine of expediency? Shall I associate with one who is viewed as singular, and consent before long to be called a hypocrite, a fanatic, or a social heretic, or shall I consent to be drawn into the ranks of an overwhelming majority? “At last this conclusion was reached—‘I will call on Scudder at once, and tell him why I came so soon.” Here was a starting-point for other things that quickly followed. I found him at his studies, and told him of my wish to form a religious acquaintanceship, though myself without religion. Quickly he rose, and grasped my hand with unlooked-for ardor, saying, ‘That's right; stand by that; you’ll never regret it.” When the twelve o’clock bell rang, J. S. was at my door, and proposed a walk. Our steps were directed into Craig's Woods, near where the railroad dépôt now is. His speech, I believe, was mainly on the great themes with which his heart was filled. In a retired spot we sat down on a log, and sang together “When I can read my title clear,’ and some other hymns. He then proposed kneeling in social prayer, and there, for the first time, with trepidation I made an awkward attempt at extemporary prayer. That open committal on the side of religious anxiety was a seed of moral reform planted by that beloved brother some forty years ago; but alas! how stunted has been its growth, and meagre its fruits! “Other interviews of like kind were held in that grove, and soon after in several rooms in college, where social prayer was held in rotation. Through J. Scudder I was