Alexander Young.

The good parishioner, a discourse occasioned by the death of Benjamin Rich, Esq. : delivered in the Church on Church Green, June 8, 1851 online

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Online LibraryAlexander YoungThe good parishioner, a discourse occasioned by the death of Benjamin Rich, Esq. : delivered in the Church on Church Green, June 8, 1851 → online text (page 2 of 2)
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dreadful catastrophe, twenty-one wives and thirty-nine
children were not only deprived of their natural pro-
tectors, but left utterly destitute of the means of living.
Mr. Rich forthwith went round with his subscription
paper among the merchants of Boston, and, by his
touching appeals and persevering efforts, obtained be-
tween five and six thousand dollars for the distressed
widows and orphans of Truro/

I mention these few cases, among a hundred, merely
as examples of his humane spirit and of his indomi-
table perseverance. He was never weary in well-
doing ; and whatever he undertook, of this nature, he
carried through, without halting or hesitancy. The
word impossible he had struck from his vocabulary.
" It is a good work," he was accustomed to say ;
" therefore it can be done ; it must be done ; it shall



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be done ; " and it always was done ; for men are ever
ready to aid one whom they see determined to accom-
plish a good purpose.

XThe word fear^ too, was not to be found in his
dictionary. He was a bold, brave man, of an impetu-
ous spirit, and a firm, resolute will. In the perform-
ance of his duty, he was perfectly fearless of conse-
quences ; and I should like to see the individual who
had ever attempted to intimidate him when engaged
in a good cause. He never could stand by, and see
a fellow-being suffer ; but would instantly spring to
his relief, with an intrepidity that no dangers could
appal. When, in the month of May, 1818, the
Canton Packet blew up in our harbor, Mr. Rich was
the first to leap upon her blazing deck, to rescue the
crew, utterly heedless of the possibility of another
explosion.

With such feelings and dispositions, it was quite
natural that he should take a deep and active interest
in the objects and operations of the Humane Society
of Massachusetts. For thirty-three years he was one
of its Trustees, and for more than fifteen years its Pre-
sident. Whilst holding this office, he superintended
the building and location of the eighteen life-boats
provided by the Legislature in 1840 and 1841, and
stationed along our coast from Martha's Vineyard to
Plum Island, and which have already rescued hun-



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dreds of shipwrecked sailors from a watery grave.
One of these boats alone — that stationed at Hull —
has been the means of saving thirty-six lives, from
four several vessels. The Committee of the Humane
Society, in replying to his letter of resignation, in
May, 1844, say to him: " We refer with gratitude to
your past connection with our institution. For the
space of one third of a century, you have partici-
pated in the benevolent labors of the Society. Your
kindness and activity have made you essentially the
executive of its purposes and designs. You have
carried out its objects. You have chiefly carried on
its correspondence with the authorities on the coast,
where our humane houses are located. You have
been instrumental in providing for the wants and re-
lief of the needy and shipwrecked mariner. You have
superintended the building and the localities of our
life-boats. To yourself and to the lamented Oxnard
belongs emphatically the praise of this grand scheme
of relief to the brave mariner in the hour of dreadful
peril. Often have you been the advocate of the ship-
wrecked master's or seaman's widow, with open heart
and open hand. Nearly half the period that you
have been a member of the Humane Society, you
have been its honored presiding officer. During all
that time, you have directed and encouraged the trus-
tees ; and the public owe you a debt of lasting gratis



23



tude. The trustees accord to you the deepest regard
and respect Take your just reward, — all we have
to bestow, — our hearty approbation of your charac-
ter and conduct. Enjoy the high estimate you hold
in this community, as a merchant and a philanthropist.
Accept our best wishes for your future happiness and
usefulness ; and, when your sun sets, may it be in the
serenity of a ' green old age ' ! " ^

My friends, I trust you will pardon me, if, in speak-
ing of the loss which the parish have sustained in the
death of our revered fellow-worshipper, I allude
briefly to my own personal loss. I feel that in his
departure I have lost a stay and a staff, an invaluable
counsellor, a steady and devoted friend. On my set-
tlement in this church, more than twenty-six years
ago, he was the first to take me by the hand in his
warm-hearted and affectionate way ; and, although an
utter stranger to him, I felt, from that moment, that I
knew him, that I could rely upon him, that I could
call upon him, with entire confidence, whenever I
needed counsel or help. And this confidence was not
misplaced ; this expectation was never disappointed.
From that day forward, he proved a good parishioner,
one of the best I ever had. He stood by me in good
report and in evil report, in sunshine and in storm ;
encouraging, upholding me by his sympathy, his



24



energy, and his considerate kindness. His house was
my home, and he has been to me as a father.

Having thus lived a useful, an honorable, and a
happy life, he is summoned, in a good old age, to leave
it. And he meets the summons with entire compo-
sure and resignation, " sustained and soothed by an
unfaltering trust." The few last weeks that he spent
upon the earth were among the happiest of his life.
It was a privilege to visit him in his sick chamber, —
to see the power of faith triumphing over bodily pain,
and the hope of immortality victorious over the fear
of death.

" Cheerful he gave his being up, and went
To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent."

Brethren, I have left myself no time to moralize on
the character which has now been portrayed. And
it is not necessary. It speaks for itself; it tells its
own lesson ; it inculcates its own moral. It tells us
of the power of Christian faith, and of the loveli-
ness of Christian charity. It inculcates the great
truth, that " pure and undefiled religion, in the sight
of God our Father, is to visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves un-
spotted from the world."



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Online LibraryAlexander YoungThe good parishioner, a discourse occasioned by the death of Benjamin Rich, Esq. : delivered in the Church on Church Green, June 8, 1851 → online text (page 2 of 2)