John Thomas Duffield.

Discourse delivered at the funeral of John Maclean, D.D., LL. D., tenth president of the College of New Jersey, in the Second Presbyterian Church, Princeton, N.J., Friday, August 13, 1886 online

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1886,

BY •






The Evening of Baccalaureate Sunday,
JUNE 19, 1887,




€^t Jrinccton gress.


The Rev. John Maclean, D.D., LL.D., Tenth Presi-
dent of the College of New Jersey, died at his residence in
Princeton, N. J., on Tuesday, Aug. lo, 1886. The funeral
services were held in the Second Presbyterian Church on
Friday afternoon, Aug. 13, President Maclean having been
connected with the Second Church since its organization.
The exercises were conducted by the Pastor, the Rev.
Lewis W. Mudge, D.D. The Rev. James O. Murray, D.D.,
LL.D., Dean of the Faculty of the College, offered the
opening prayer. Select portions of Scripture were read by
Prof. Henry C. Cameron, D.D. The funeral Discourse was
delivered by Prof. John T. Duffield, D.D., followed by
a brief Address by Prof. James C. Moffat, D.D. The
closing prayer was offered by the Rev. Archibald Alexan-
der Hodge, D.D., LL.D., and the benediction was pro-
nounced by the Rev. David Magie, D.D., of Paterson, N.
J. The following gentlemen were pall-bearers : Samuel H.
Pennington, M.D., and the Rev. E. R. Craven, D.D., Trus-
tees of the College, Prof. Wm. Henry Green, D.D., LL.D.,
of the Theological Seminary, Prof J. S. Schanck, M.D.,
LL.D., of the College, the Rev Amzi L. Armstrong, and
the Rev. J. A. Worden, D.D., of the Presbytery of New
Brunswick, Mr. James Vandeventer of Princeton, and the
Hon. Wm. J. Magie, Justice ol the Supreme Court of New

The Trustees of the College requested the Faculty to
make arrangements for a Memorial service in the College
Chapel on the evening of Baccalaureate Sunday. By invi-
tation of the Faculty the Address was delivered by the
Rev. James M. Ludlow, D.D., of East Orange, N. J.




Professor in the College of Ne-^ Jersey.


If this were an occasion for grieving my place
would be with the mourners. On Tuesday morning
last when with his immediate relatives and one of
my colleagues I sat at the bedside of Dr. Maclean
and felt that hand which so often had extended to
me a warm greeting grow cold in my grasp and the
pulses become fainter and fainter until the heart
ceased to beat, I felt that I had lost my best earthly
friend. I have received many blessings from our
heavenly Father which call for thankfulness, but I
feel that I have special reason for gratitude to God
that for near fifty years of life's pilgrimage, it has
been my privilege to enjoy the acquaintance, and
for more than forty years the intimate personal
friendship, of John Maclean. Were this an occasion
for mourning I should not occupy the place I do to-day.
But who does not feel that the circumstances under
which we are assembled call not for grieving
but thanksgiving — thanks, not that John Maclean
is dead but that he lived ; thanks, that in early


youth he became a follower of Christ and hence-
forth to its close his life was an epistle of god-
liness known and read of men ; thanks, that he was
so endowed by nature and by grace that upon all
with whom he was associated his influence was a
benediction ; thanks, that he had granted to him not
only wisdom but wisdom's "right-hand" blessing,
"length of days;" thanks, that though "by reason
of strength" his life was extended to more than
fourscore years, that strength was 7iot "labor and
sorrow;" thanks, that with faculties unimpaired, in
old age he brought forth fruit; thanks, that he
passed through the valley of the shadow of death
without fear of evil, that his end was peace and his
death a victory.

When I look on this casket w^hich contains all
that was mortal of President Maclean, and think of
the grand life that ended when he ceased to breathe,
I feel that without anticipating the time when " this
mortal shall put on immortality " we may appropri
ate the exclamation, " O grave ! where is thy vie
tor>' ? "

Except in the prospect of the resurrection of
those who sleep in Jesus, we seldom dare to utter
this triumphant challenge of the apostle. Often
the fatal summons comes to those who are in
the morning of life, full of bright hopes and
fond anticipations, the centre of a circle of loving

and admiring friends, at the age when Hfe is sweet-
est, when the ties which bind to earth are strongest,
when the youthful spirit bouyant with joy and joyous
hopes was beginning to wonder why this world
should ever have been called " a vale of tears " — at
such a time has the summons come and given
another illustration of the sad truth which youthful
inexperience had begun to doubt — and as we com-
mitted to the tomb the remains of those thus prema-
turely smitten, we have felt that the grave had had
a victory. Often has the fatal summons come
to those in the prime of manhood, who had
advanced on their career only to be stopped at the
middle of the course, engaged in the battle of life
only to fall when the battle was at its height — at a
time when life's duties were most urgent, when
loved ones were most dependent, when influence
was most far-reaching and cherished schemes but
half-completed — at such a time has the summons come
reminding us that " man at his best state is vanity"
— and, as we committed to the tomb the remains of
those who were smitten so untimely, we felt that
the grave had had the victory and that a broken shaft
was the monument appropriate to their last resting
place. But who would think of erecting a broken
shaft over the grave of John Maclean ? Thanks be
to God, to-day we are permitted to carry to yonder
cemetery the precious remains of one whose career


did not terminate until he had reached the goal,
whose labors did not cease until he had accom-
plished the work that had been given him to do.
whose life did not end until its full term was com-
pleted — to whom death came not as an abnormal
untimely catastrophe, but the normal ending of a
finished course, a transition from the sphere of
service when the work prescribed was done, to the
sphere of the faithful servant's reward. When we
contemplate such a life and such a death as this,
without anticipating the hour when this mortal shall
put on immortality, we may triumphantly ask, " O
grave ! where is thy victory ? " When grain ripe
for the sickle is harvested and the wheat gathered
into the garner, the preserver, not the destroyer,
has the victory.

John Maclean was born in Princeton, March 3d,
1800, in the brick house on the north side of Nassau
street, immediately opposite the School of Science
building. He was descended from an honorable
ancestry both on his father's and mother's side, the
genealogical record of each family extending back
for centuries and including many distinguished
names. His father, Professor John Maclean, M.D.,
was a native of Glasgow. At the early age of sixteen
he was graduated at the University of that city with
high honor and early attained distinction by original
researches in Chemistry — a science then in its


infancy. After completing a course of Medical Lec-
tures at Glasgow, he attended Lectures on his fav-
orite studies — Chemistry and Surgery — at Edin-
burgh, London and Paris. He for a time engaged
with much success in the practice of his profession
in his native city, at the same time continuing his
researches in Chemistry. Preferring our Republican
form of government and believing that in the United
States he would have a wider field of usefulness,
he came to America, arriving in New York in April,
1795. At the ensuing meeting of the Board of
Trustees he was elected Professor of Chemistry and
Natural Philosophy. By his acceptance of this
appointment Chemistry for the first time became one
of the studies of an American College curriculum.
In an account of a visit to Princeton in 1801, Dr.
Archibald Alexander refers to Professor Maclean
as *' one of the most popular Professors who ever
graced an American^ College." He was at home
almost equally in all branches of science. In the
diary of Yale's distinguished Professor of Chemistry,
the late Benjamin Silliman, M.D., LL.D., there is
the following record : ''Brief residence in Princeton. —
At this celebrated seat of learning an eminent gentle-
man. Dr. John Maclean, resided as Professor of Chem-
istry. I passed a few days with Dr. Maclean and
obtained from him a general insight into my future
occupation. I regard him as my earliest master


in Chemistry aiul Princeton as my starting point
in that pursuit."

I'rofessor Maclean was married in 1 798 to Phoebe
Bainbridge, daughter ol Absalom Bainbridge, M.D.
of New York City and sister of the distinguished
naval hero, Commodore William Bainbridge. She
was a lady of rare loveliness both of person and of
character. Professor Silliman refers to her in his
diary as " a lovely woman, who made my visits to
the house very pleasant to me." John Maclean
inherited in larcre measure his father's intellectual
ability and his mother's loveliness of character.
When but thirteen years of age he was admitted
to the Freshman Class at the beginning of the
Second Term, and was graduated with honor in
181 6 — the youngest member of his Class.

In the winter of 18 14-15 a revival of religion
occurred, in some respects the most memorable in
the history of the College, resulting in the conversion
of a large number of students, many of whom sub-
sequendy became eminent in the Church — Dr.
Charles Hodge, Bishop Johns, Bishop Mcllvaine, Dr.
Wm. J. Armstrong, Dr. Ravaud K. Rodgers, Dr.
Symmes C. Henry, Dr. Charles S. Stewart and
others. John Maclean, then a Junior in Colleo-e,
did not manifest any interest on the subject of relio-ion
until one day a friend, Edward Allen, said to him,
•' Maclean, have you heard the news ? " " What news ? "


he asked. Allen replied, *' Hodge and Vandyke
have enlisted." He was for the moment startled by
the statement as there was at that time in Princeton
an officer engaged in obtaining recruits for the army.
After a brief pause Allen added, " They have enlisted
under the banner of King Jesus." Maclean replied,
** Well, that was the best enlistment they could have
made," and was about to leave the room. His friend
requested him to remain and then spoke to him of the
importance of personal religion and urged him to give
the subject immediate attention. The result was the
conviction that he ought to do so and he at once
began the study of the Scriptures, with prayer that
he might be enabled to make them the rule of his
conduct. He was soon led to trust in Christ as his
Saviour but did not make a public profession of
his faith until after his graduation.

During the following year he was engaged as an
Assistant Teacher in the Classical School which had
recently been established at Lawrenceville by the
Rev. Isaac V. Brown. In the fall of 1818 he entered
the Theological Seminary and shortly after was
elected Tutor in Greek in the College. On the
resignation of Professor Vethake in 182 1 he took
charge of the Classes in Mathematics and the fol-
lowing year was appointed Professor of Mathematics
and Natural Philosophy. The same year he declined
an invitation to the Professorship of Mathematics in

Dickinson College. In 1829 he was elected Vice-
President ot" the College and Professor of the Ancient
Languages. He had charge of both the Latin and
Greek Departments until 1836, when the increase in
the number of students rendered it necessary that
the Professorship should be divided. Prof. James
\V. Alexander was accordingly appointed Professor
of Latin and Dr. Maclean Professor of the Greek
Language and Literature. At the meeting of the
Board of Trustees in June, 1853, Dr. Carnahan
presented his resignation of the Presidency. At the
meeting of the Board in December, Dr. Maclean
was elected President of the College and was inaug-
urated at the Commencement in 1S54. In 1868, in
pursuance of a purpose he had several years pre-
viously formed, he resigned the Presidency, having
completed half a century in the service of the Col-

The simple fact that Dr. Maclean should have
filled in succession these different positions accept-
ably and successfully is evidence of his eminent and
varied ability ; yet of itself it would give a very inade-
quate impression of the extent and value of the ser-
vices he rendered to the College of New Jersey.
Without any disparagement to those associated with
him in the instruction and government of the College
it may be said that during almost the entire period
of his official connexion with the College he was the


ruling spirit in the administration of its affairs. He
was a born leader of men. He combined those
qualities of mind and heart and character which win
the esteem and confidence of others, and give to
their possessor commanding influence. He was wise
in counsel, prompt in decision, energetic in action,
fertile in resource, tenacious in purpose and know-
ing no fear but the fear of God. He had in him
much of the stuff that martyrs are made of and
would have gone to the stake for a principle — at the
same time was charitable toward those who differed
from him, scrupulously considerate not only of the
rights but the feelings of others, courteous not by
rule but by instinct, of tender sympathy and generous
impulses, a high-minded, honorable. Christian gen-

In 1828-9 the College passed through a crisis
that for a time threatened its very existence. Owing
to an unfortunate if not injudicious exercise of disci-
pline in 1824 — which it is proper to say was not
approved of though acquiesced in by Dr. Carnahan
who had recently entered on his duties as President —
upwards of twenty students were removed or with-
drawn from the Institution. The impression made
on the public was unfavorable and the number of
students still further declined, until in 1827 there
were but seventy-five enrolled. As the College was
almost entirely dependent on the receipts for tuition


and room-rent, it became greatly crippled financially.
Hoping to increase thereby the number of students
the charge for tuition was reduced. The result was
a still further diminution of income and a reduction
of salaries became necessary. Two of the three
Professors resigned. One of them, the Professor of
Ancient Languages, opened a Classical Academy,
"The Edorehill School," in Princeton. Professor
Maclean's talents, temperament and loyalty to his
Alma Mater were just what was needed fpr such a
crisis. Instead of yielding to the pressure of dis-
couraging circumstances, he devised a scheme for
not only filling the vacancies but increasing the
Faculty, and this without increasing the current
expenses. With characteristic magnanimity and a
self-reliance which was justified by the results, he
proposed to give up the Professorship which for
seven years he had filled with ability and success
and take charge of the Department of Ancient Lan-
guages ; that Professor Vethake, who was then in
Europe engaged in scientific studies, should be
appointed to his former Professorship; that Albert B.
Dod, who as Tutor in Mathematics gave promise of
his subsequent brilliant professorial career, should
be appointed Assistant Professor of Mathematics
and Natural Philosophy, to take charge of the
Department until the return of Professor Vethake ;
that the distinguished scientist Dr. John Torrey of


New York, should be appointed to give an annual
course of Lectures at the College on Chemistry, and
that an Instructor in French should be appointed.
The scheme was approvedby President Carnahan, was
submitted by him to the Board of Trustees, and was
adopted. As an evidence of their high appreciation of
the abilities and services of Professor Maclean, the
Trustees of their own motion, probably at the sug-
gestion, certainly with the cordial approval, of Pres-
ident Carnahan appointed Professor Maclean Vice-
President of the College.

The reconstruction of the Faculty was received
with general favor. The number of students imme-
diately increased and was promptly followed by an
increase of the Faculty. In 1830 Joseph Addison
Alexander was appointed Assistant Professor of the
Ancient Languages and Dr. Howell Lecturer on
Anatomy and Physiology. In 1833, at the sugges-
tion of Dr. Maclean, Joseph Henry was appointed
Professor of Natural Philosophy and entered on that
life-work which has made his name and that of the
Institutions with which he has been connected, illus-
trious. In 1834, the scholarly and eloquent James
W. Alexander, D.D., was appointed Professor of
Belles Lettres and subsequently Professor of Belles
Lettres and Latin. The same year Stephen Alexan-
der was appointed Tutor in Mathematics — the begin-
ning of his distinguished career as a Mathematician

and Astronomer. By these valuable accessions to the
Faculty, the prosperity of the College was perma-
nently secured. At the close of President Carna-
han's administration in 1S54, the number of students
had increased to two hundred and forty-seven. In
1 86 1 the number of students had increased to three
hundred and fourteen, the graduating classes for
several years numbering near ninety. By the out-
break of the war the number of students was reduced
to two hundred and twelve, but at the close of Pres-
ident Maclean's administration in 1868 the number
had increased to two hundred and fifty-four, and the
accession the last year of his Administration was one
hundred and seventeen, the largest, up to that
period, in the history of the College.

President Maclean's administration marks a new
era in the financial condition of the College. Efforts
had previously been made to secure an Endowment
Fund — in 1825 by the Alumni Association, in '30 by
the Trustees, and again in '35 by the Alumni — but
these efforts were almost wholly unsuccessful. In
1853, when President Carnahan presented his resig-
nation, the permanent funds of the College did not
exceed $1 5,000. At the close of President Maclean's
administration in '68, the permanent funds amounted
to a quarter of a million. The College had also
received large gifts for grounds, buildings and special
expenses — the ground for the Observatory with the


first payment for the building of $10,000 from Gen.
N. N. Halsted, the ground for Dickinson Hall and
$100,000 from Mr. John C. Green, the property of
Doct.John N.Woodhull by bequest, contributions for
the rebuilding of Nassau Hall after the fire of 1854
and for other special objects. Several bequests to the
College made previous to 1868 were subsequently
paid. Without including these bequests, the aggre-
gate of gifts to the College during President Maclean's
administration was about four hundred and fifty
thousand dollars. The College is to be congratu-
lated that these large gifts have been so far sur-
passed during the brilliant administration of his
illustrious successor, but it is no extravagant eulogy
to say, that on his retirement from the Presidency, of
all the names enrolled on the General Catalogue of
the College as Alumni, Professors, Trustees and
Presidents, there is no one to whom the Institution is
more largely indebted for its established prosperity
than to John Maclean.

The personal relations of Dr. Maclean and his
venerated predecessor were alike creditable to both
these distinguished men. Though quite different in
temperament and through almost the entire period
of President Carnahan's administration sustaining:
to each other a somewhat delicate official relation,
their intercourse was never marred by the slightest
jealousy or other unpleasant feeling. With a high


appreciation of each other's abiHty and discretion,
and with impHcit confidence in each other's disinter-
ested devotion to the interests of the college, they
were confidential friends. No important action was
taken by either without consultation with and the
approval of the other. In his letter of resignation
President Carnahan refers to his esteemed colleague
who had been associated with him throughout his
entire administration. "To his activity, zeal, and
devotion to the interests of the College," he says,
" I must be permitted to give my unqualified testi-
mony." Subsequently as a member of the Board
of Trustees, he cordially favored the appointment of
Dr. Maclean as his successor. It was an interesting,
and to President Maclean an especially gratifying,
incident, that his first official act after his inaugura-
tion was the announcement that the Trustees had
conferred the Degree of Doctor of Laws on the
friend with whom he had been so long and intimately
and pleasantly associated.

In regard to the choice of a successor to Presi-
ident Carnahan it may be proper to mention that in
view of his world-wide reputation, his administrative
ability and his high Christian character, some of the
Trustees favored the election of Professor Henry,
who in 1848 had resigned his Professorship at
Princeton to accept the Secretaryship of the Smith-
sonian Institution. When the matter was proposed


to Professor Henry he was unwilling to be regarded
as a candidate, and recommended the election of his
friend Vice-President Maclean. He subsequently
showed his esteem for Dr. Maclean by having him
appointed one of the Regents of the Smithsonian

With no less truth than when the words were
originally uttered, it may be said to-day, " a Prince
and a great man has fallen in Israel." John Maclean
was one of nature's noblemen, richly endowed with
princely gifts and virtues. He was a great man intel-
lectually. That abnormal development of healthy brain
was the organ of an intellect exceptionally vigorous by
nature, and strengthened and developed by faithful
culture. He was a man of broad scholarship. Whilst
making little pretension to what may be called the
ornamental branches of a liberal education, he was
proficient in the branches that are fundamental. Few
Presidents of American Colleges have been ready
as was he, in an emergency, to take charge of the
instruction in most of the studies of the curriculum.
Up to the close of life it was his daily habit to read
the Scriptures in the original. He was one of that
company of Christian scholars who, by their services
in the Institutions of this place and their contribu-
tions to the old " Princeton Review," made the name
of Princeton illustrious throughout evangelical


In the discussion of the important questions
which agitated the Presbyterian Church a half cen-
tury ago, Dr. Maclean took a prominent part. He
published a series of letters in "The Presbyterian,"
which were afterwards republished in pamphlet form,
defending with marked ability the action of the
Assembly of '37 on the questions at issue between
the Old and New School branches of the Church.
He represented the Presbytery of New Brunswick
in the important Assembly of '^,8^ when the division
of the Church occurred, and was appointed to pre-
pare a Circular Letter to Foreign Evangelical
Churches, on the issues which led to the division.
He was a member of the Assembly of 1843
and again of the Assembly of 1844, ^t both which
important questions as to the functions of the office
of Ruling Elder were decided — questions which for
several years previous had been discussed in the
religious periodicals and in the ecclesiastical courts.
The eminent ability with which Dr. Maclean defended
the views of the majority was recognized in each
Assembly by his appointment to prepare a reply to
the protest of the minority.

Dr. Maclean's most notable contributions to the
Review were two articles in '41, in reply to two Prize
Essays that had recently been published in Great
Britain and afterwards in this country with the sanc-
tion of the National Temperance Society, maintain-


ing the duty of total abstinence on the ground that
the Scriptures condemned all use of intoxicating
drinks and that the '' wine " whose use was not for-
bidden in the Scriptures and which was used by the
Saviour in instituting the Sacrament of the Supper
was *' the unfermented juice of the grape." No
more exhaustive and conclusive argument in oppo-
sition to the doctrine of these Essays has ever been

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