On May 5, 1787, James Harvey Linsley was born into a God fearing family in Northford, Connecticut. His family lived with the belief that God had given them a mission: raise children who love and fear the Lord. The impact this had on Linsley at an early age would lay the foundation for his life. Later in life, he credited his ability to forgive others to his mother and her teachings when he was young. However, even with the teachings of grace and mercy from his mother, he was still led astray and gave himself over to a life of profanity at the age of 14. As Cummins and Thompson state, “he would swear in public and pray in private!” He longed for mercy even though his mouth did not proclaim it in public. While on a trip with his unbelieving uncle, the twenty-two year old Linsley grew very ill. When he began requesting a Bible or pastor, his uncle did not comply, thinking he did not need one. God showed mercy on him and, when he returned home, he began seeking the Lord. His life was forever changed. He was baptized into the church at North Haven and became very passionate about spreading the gospel. He even went to an unsaved friend’s house in the middle of the night to share the love of God he had come to know. Even though his friend rejected the gospel that night, he did not stop sharing with his community and with the world. He enrolled in school and married Sophia B. Lyon who shared a similar passion for discipleship and evangelism. They were both ready and eager to enter into a life of Christian service.
As much as Linsley wanted to serve the Lord through preaching, his health prevented him from aggressively going after his dream. He had to pause from preaching and instead pursue education. When his health improved, he began preaching again and was eventually ordained into the gospel ministry. While he was able to do what he loved for a short time, his health eventually got the best of him again and forced him to quit preaching and serving the Lord through pastoral ministry. He turned his interests to scientific investigation and even wrote for some established scientific journals.
Linsley never gave up witnessing. Even though he was on his deathbed at the young age of 57, he was still telling people about the great love of his life: Jesus. The impact he had while on this earth for a short time would last forever.
The gospel sound to hear;
And when the missionary rose
His eye let fall a tear.
And soon he spoke of heav’nly things,
And Canaan’s language knew;
And though in broken phrase expressed,
His hope and faith were true.
Yet till that hour no Christian’s voice
The aged man had heard;
Nor had he ever read or seen
The Lord’s revealed word.
But tracts alone the Lord had blessed:
He found his sins forgiv’n.
And now for greater light he sought
To guide him home to heav’n.
Then, since the Lord thus blesses tracts,
Our efforts we’ll renew,
And send these sheets to ev’ry land,
For God may bless them too.