Frederick T. (Frederick Turell) Gray.

Extract from a Sermon Delivered at the Bulfinch-Street Church, Boston, Jan. 9, 1853, the Sunday Following the Interment of the Late Amos Lawrence online

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Online LibraryFrederick T. (Frederick Turell) GrayExtract from a Sermon Delivered at the Bulfinch-Street Church, Boston, Jan. 9, 1853, the Sunday Following the Interment of the Late Amos Lawrence → online text (page 1 of 1)
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TRIBUTE
TO
A GOOD MAN.




EXTRACT
FROM
A SERMON
DELIVERED AT THE
BULFINCH-STREET CHURCH, BOSTON,
JAN. 9, 1853,
THE SUNDAY FOLLOWING THE INTERMENT
OF THE LATE
AMOS LAWRENCE.

BY REV. F. T. GRAY.

BOSTON.
JOHN WILSON and SON.
1853.




The following pages
are
Respectfully Dedicated
to the
family and kindred of the late lamented
AMOS LAWRENCE,
by one who would offer a grateful tribute to the
memory of him who so well deserved
the exalted title
of the
Poor Man's Christian Friend.




The text of the Sermon, from which the following extract was taken, was
the seventh verse of the second chapter of Paul's Second Epistle to
Timothy: "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all
things."

After contrasting the views and maxims of the worldly-minded with those of
the Christian, and stating the claims of the Young Men's Christian Union,
the Discourse closed with the following tribute to the character and
memory of one who was the early patron and devoted friend of that Society.




THE GOOD MAN.


Among the warmest friends of the Young Men's Christian Union was one,
whose departure from among us this community has recently been called to
mourn, - one who was beloved by all who knew him; whose wide, expansive
benevolence and Christian charity won the admiration of those of every
name and sect; who so truly loved the Saviour, and was so truly baptized
into his spirit, the spirit of divine and heavenly love, that he became
through it his blessed messenger; so that all rejoiced who came within his
influence, as "he went about doing good," ready to take each believer by
the hand, saying, "One is our master, even Christ, and all ye are
brethren."

As we saw him on his errands of mercy, just on the verge of threescore
years and ten, how, as his benignant smile beamed upon us, did he remind
us of "the disciple Jesus loved;" who, when so feeble from the infirmities
of age, could only say, in addressing the people, "Little children, love
one another"! That smile, shadowing forth a happy Christian spirit within,
was a benediction indeed, when it beamed upon us! May it prove an
incentive to us, to show our love to God in our love to man, which was the
whole tenor of his example; remembering that "by this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples," not in any name ye may adopt, or church ye may
join, but "in your love one toward another."

Long has it been my privilege to know this good man. In a letter to me a
few days before his death, he signed himself "A friend of long years
past." Yes! he was an old friend to me, and, as I well know, a long-tried
friend to the poor, the forsaken, and suffering, as he was also a friend
to those "whom the Saviour took in his arms and blessed;" for he was
always ready and rejoiced to do what he could, that the lambs of the flock
and the children of the destitute might be instructed from the Word of
God, "and made wise unto everlasting life."

This love was seen not merely in kind words and good thoughts, but in
benevolent action: he was an active Christian. How did my young heart feel
this twenty-five years ago, when among a little band of Sabbath-school
teachers who were laboring at the northerly section of our city,
instructing the children of the less-favored and the poor; at a time when
our hearts were sad, and almost discouraged; when we were endeavoring to
awaken a deeper and wider interest, by inviting the parents and friends to
come in and see us. How cheerfully, at our invitation, did he come to the
first examination of the school, and encourage us by his presence, his
words, and his gifts; and when those little ones, many from the abodes of
poverty and want, repeated their sweet hymns, how did the tears course
down that good man's cheeks, causing him to say, as he pressed my hand,
"This is a beautiful sight, and one I cannot witness without tears"!

Never shall I forget those words, nor the thoughts which at that time they
suggested. Is there any thing more delightful (such was our thought) than
to witness a man engaged in a large and extensive business, a man of
wealth and influence, coming down and mingling freely and kindly with a
band of humble Sunday-school teachers, - an act inspiring them with new
courage and hope, at a moment when, from the cold indifference and
opposition then existing towards these institutions, both heart and hope
had begun to fail us, and the school itself was well nigh being closed. If
he had done nothing else, this humble Christian act should be a standing
monument to his memory; for it was from this school, thus encouraged and
sustained, that arose one of the noblest charities that has ever blessed
the world, - the Ministry at Large.

The interest this good man took in children was constantly manifested, and
continued to the last. Never was he happier than when surrounded by them.
There are some among you who may remember seeing him here at the
anniversary celebration of our Sunday-school, some three years since.
After he had sat for a little time in this pulpit, and gazed at the
interesting sight of so many children gathered before him, and listened to
their sweet voices, alternately mingling with those of the orphan and the
blind who were on each side of him, he said to me, his eyes filled with
tears, "This is heavenly; but I must leave you; it is more, I fear, than I
can bear, for you know I am a minute man."

This active Christian spirit of love was witnessed by me also last summer,
when that sad disaster occurred by which so many lives were lost on board
the ill-fated steamboat, the "Henry Clay;" which you may remember was
particularly alluded to from this place on the following sabbath. On
reading that sermon, which was afterwards published, our departed friend
immediately called on me and desired its circulation, with the earnest
request that a memorial to Congress might be prepared at once and
forwarded. When others were seeking and enjoying the sea-breeze and a
purer air in the country, this good man, notwithstanding the heat then so
oppressive, was engaged in going round, speaking on the subject to the
most influential, obtaining their approval; and, though all were saying,
"It will avail little, and do no good," still did he persevere, unchanged
in purpose. At the same time he wrote personally to different individuals
at Washington, preparing them for the memorial, which soon after followed;
when the law relating to steamboats, which had cost so much labor in
preparation, but which had been lying on the table for months untouched,
was at once taken up and passed. The energy, activity, and perseverance
which this good man then manifested, while so many others were indifferent
to the matter, will never be forgotten.

And now perhaps the young among us may inquire, Who was this man, and
whence arose those traits of character which caused him to be so
universally beloved and lamented? I answer, that he came to this city,
many years since, a poor young man. It so happened that he remained longer
than he at first purposed; for he designed only a visit, intending to
return again to his home. He attended yon venerable church soon after he
came hither, and heard the eloquent and gifted Buckminster. At once he
selected him as his minister, and that as his church, and ever after was
present, morning and afternoon, when his health permitted. He listened,
and welcomed to his heart the blessed teachings of Jesus Christ, and made
it his aim to be his follower, and to "do good as he had opportunity." As
this was his great endeavor, his delight was in the law of the Lord, and
daily at his fireside the morning and evening incense of prayer rose to
heaven.

Mr. Lawrence was a religious man in every sense of the word, dedicating
his time and wealth to the service of God, and the good of his fellow-men:
hence he was "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the
Lord." He loved the sanctuary, and its very dust was sacred to him. He
visited the distressed, and it was his delight to distribute the gifts
laid upon the altar for the poor, personally, to the members of the
household of faith.

If you would know the origin of all that he did, which blessed so many
hearts, which made him the friend of the widow and the orphan, and a
father to those who had none to help, - why it is that all around us the
tears of sorrow are shed, - that every one feels that the community has
sustained a severe loss, and that the poor and suffering are bereft of a
benefactor and friend, - you must trace it to its true source, and say that
he was a religious man and true Christian, and that he simply carried out
and exemplified the holy principles of the gospel. This was its source. In
this his benevolence and world-wide charity had their origin. It was this,
young men, which makes his memory so precious, his name so dear, and will
long embalm him sacredly in the grateful hearts of hundreds of the
sorrowing children of men, who will bedew his grave with tears, and rise
up hereafter and call him blessed. What power did religion impart to this
benefactor of his race! What influence did it enable him to exert with the
talent entrusted to his care!

Bring now before your minds this poor young man going to that house of
God, more than forty years ago. He was unknown, a stranger among
strangers, seeing around him there the most distinguished men in the
Commonwealth assembled in worship. He hears the word, and is impressed. He
resolves to follow out the instruction received, and, in imitation of his
Master, to devote himself to doing good to his fellow-men. Forty years and
over found him faithfully going up to that temple, enjoying its
privileges, and gratefully improving its services and rites; till at last,
when the summons came, his spirit, all ready and prepared, gently passed
to its heavenly home! And who would wish to call him back, that saw the
smile on his countenance when within a day's journey of the tomb, which
seemed to have received new radiance from the spirit-world, upon which he
was so soon to enter? Oh, well might we then have said, -

"Mark but the radiance of his eye;
The smile upon his wasted cheek:
They tell us of his glory nigh,
In language that no tongue can speak."

How little did this poor young man think, when he first entered that
church, that by fidelity to the truths of Jesus Christ there proclaimed,
when he should pass from earth, grateful hearts, true and sincere
mourners, would go up thither, and throng its very aisles, that they might
mingle their tears, and pay their last tribute of respect to him, their
true benefactor and Christian friend! Yet so it was, and as beautiful as
it was a striking testimony from the community to the excellence and worth
of a humble, benevolent, and sincere Christian.

Well might the merchant, and those in his employ, cease on such an
occasion from their labors, and go up to the house of prayer; and well
that those who were Judges should cause silence to reign in their halls,
as they and the great men of the land went up also to that house of
mourning; for such a life as had just closed on earth was a blessing to
this whole community; and God should be gratefully remembered in his
temple, for the gift of such a Christian example and character.

And it was as beautifully appropriate as it was inexpressibly touching, to
witness children gather round his mortal remains, and take their last look
in his "Father's House," which he had loved so much; and, as they strewed
beautiful flowers upon his lifeless form, that they should sing their
sweet farewell hymn, "We have lost a father." Well, too, was it that
ministers of the different denominations should unite in the last services
at this good man's funeral.[1]

How little did he think, years ago, when he first entered that
time-hallowed sanctuary, that _that_ would be the last earthly dwelling
from whence he would be borne as he passed to the grave; that the
plaintive notes of that richly-toned organ, which had so often uplifted
the spirit of the sainted Buckminster, would softly breathe his last
requiem; and that the funeral toll of that solemn bell would call more of
the sorrowing and mourning for him thither than could be gathered within
its walls! Yet so it was, - a touching tribute to a good man and beloved
Christian.

Oh! may that beautiful character inspire every young man with the holy
resolve and purpose to live a Christian life, - to be governed by Christian
principles, and the word of God; assured, that in every act of kindness
and beneficence he shall in no wise lose his reward, and that the memory
of the good man and the Christian will be blessed and faithfully cherished
in the hearts of children's children.

"Go, spirit of the sainted dead!
Go to thy longed-for happy home;
The tears of man are o'er thee shed,
The voice of angels bids thee come.
Though earth may boast one gem the less,
May not e'en heaven the richer be?
Oh! may we on thy footsteps press,
To share thy blest eternity."


[1: Rev. Dr. Sharp, Rev. Dr. Lothrop, and Rev. Dr. Hopkins.]




WE HAVE LOST A FATHER.


The following original hymn by Josiah A. Stearns, Esq., was sung at the
obsequies, Jan. 4th, by a choir of young girls from the "Lawrence
Association of the Mather School," while surrounding the last earthly
remains of their deceased friend.


TUNE - "_Home again._"[2]

He has gone - he has gone -
To his spirit-home;
And, oh! it thrills his soul with joy,
In realms of bliss to roam.
But we must shed the burning tear
To part with him we love;
And now for us the world is gloom,
Since he has gone above.
He has gone - he has gone -
To his spirit-home;
And, oh! it thrills his soul with joy,
In realms of bliss to roam.

Weeping eyes - broken hearts -
Oft he bid rejoice;
And homes of woe were full of praise,
That heard his loving voice:
For oft he soothed poor sorrow's tear,
And wept when they were sad;
And many were the orphan-forms
His generous bounty clad.
Weeping eyes - broken hearts -
Oft he did rejoice;
And homes of woe were full of praise,
That heard his loving voice.

Gentle words - heavenly thoughts -
Linger where he trod:
And, oh! it was our childhood's charm
To hear him talk of God.
Then let us ever strive to live,
As he, our friend, has done;
That we may reach the happy life
Which he has now begun.
Gentle words - heavenly thoughts -
Linger where he trod;
And, oh! it was our childhood's charm
To hear him talk of God.

Fare thee well - fare thee well!
We around thee weep;
But, oh! we love thee, father, still,
And angels guard thy sleep.
The kind "OLD OAK" for us no more
Shall sheltering branches spread;
And, oh! our hearts are wrung with grief,
For he we loved is dead.
Fare thee well - fare thee well!
We around thee weep;
But, oh! we love thee, father, still,
And angels guard thy sleep.


[2: "Home Again" was sung in hearing of Mr. Lawrence by the children
on his last visit to their school, when he was accompanied by Gen.
Franklin Pierce.]







1

Online LibraryFrederick T. (Frederick Turell) GrayExtract from a Sermon Delivered at the Bulfinch-Street Church, Boston, Jan. 9, 1853, the Sunday Following the Interment of the Late Amos Lawrence → online text (page 1 of 1)