Sketches of Students of First
REV. BISHOP JESSE TRUESDELL PECK, D.D., LL.D., was born in Middlefield, New York, August 14, 1811. His parents, Luther and Annis Collar Peck were of Puritan ancestry. Jesse was the youngest of the sons, a buoyant, jolly youngster. Before, any of the sons were converted, his pious mother confidentially told one of them that "she had given them all up to God, and had received the assurance that they would all be converted, and would all preach the Gospel." Three years after Jesse's birth the family removed to Hamilton, New York. Here, under the tutorship of the late "Father Reynolds," he pursued the elementary English branches. In his sixteenth year, under the influence of his pious mother, he professed faith in Christ. For a time his education was superintended by his elder brother, George. In 1829-31 he was a student at Cazenovia Seminary. In 1829 he was licensed to preach, and in 1832 he joined the Oneida Conference. He continued in the pastoral work till 1837, when he was elected principal of Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary, where he continued till 1841. From 1841 to 1848 he was principal of the Troy Conference Academy, at West Poultney, Vermont. In 1844 he went as a reserve delegate from Troy Conference to the General Conference in New York. In the stormy debate in that Conference on the case of Bishop Andrew, who had become a slaveholder, he took a prominent part, and measured lances with the Rev. George F. Pierce, now Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. From 1848 to 1852 he was president of Dickinson College, and was afterward pastor of the Foundry Church, in Washington, D.C., till 1854, when he was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Rev. Dr. Abel Stevens, agent, secretary, and editor of the Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. After a pastoral term in the Greene-street Church, New York, he was transferred to California, where, he labored eight years as pastor and presiding elder. Besides, he labored much as an evangelist, was president of the Board of Trustees of Santa Clara University, and also president of the California State Bible Society. After his return to the East he was pastor at Peekskill, Albany, and Syracuse, until, at the General Conference of 1872, he was elected Bishop. He was one of the founders, and first president, of the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University. He has been five times a member of the General Conference, and also appointed a fraternal delegate to the Canadian and East British Conference. He has published the "Central Idea of Christianity," "The True Woman; or, Life and Happiness at Home and Abroad," "What Must I Do to be Saved?" "A History of the Great Republic," and has been a liberal contributor to the periodical literature of the Church. In his episcopal office he has been one of the most laborious of the general superintendents of the Church.
Bishop Peck ranks as an able preacher, and is eminently evangelical, Protestant, and Wesleyan in his doctrinal views, and in his Christian experience he asserts and exemplifies the "Christian perfection," which forms a distinctive element of his creed. His ministry has been attended with the unction of the Holy Ghost, and he has been eminently a revival minister and pastor. He combines in his character, in a symmetrical degree, dignity with simplicity, solemnity with a pleasant humor, strong intellectuality with deep and stirring emotion.
Without invidiousness or compliment, it may be affirmed that Bishop Peck is not excelled by any of his predecessors or colleagues in the details of episcopal supervision: visiting the pastoral charges; counseling with the ministers and laymen; holding love-feasts and general class-meetings; addressing the children,
and more miscellaneous assemblies; adjusting local difficulties, and cheering the workmen in their several departments of labor. His superintendency and administration in the Conferences have given general satisfaction. With a faithful wife of feeble health, who has shared, with him the toils and trials incident to their work and way for a period of forty-four years, he now finds a congenial and quiet residence in the city of Syracuse, where he hopes to spend the closing days of his eventful life, when he can no longer go forth, as in earlier days, with the conquering hosts of Israel.
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