James Clement Sharp.

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months of absence, however, it was dif-
ficult for him to throw off the thought of
his people. In truth, there was no time
in his life at Springfield when he could
free himself from it on account of the
intensity of his nature. When death en-
tered the home of one of his families
during his summer vacations he would
return to Springfield without being asked
to do so, for he felt that he was then most
needed, and he longed to be a comfort and
help. The following letter written while
abroad is significant in this connection:

March 19, 1896.

MY DEAR : I have read in the paper with

very great pain of the sorrow which has come to
you in the death of your mother, and so long to be


with you and bring you some words of comfort
and strength during these days of bereavement.

The greatest deprivation of this long time of
separation is the loss of the precious privilege of
sharing the burdens of those I love so dearly, but
God knows what is best, and I can at least send
you my message of tenderest sympathy in this
great loss. For I remember so well from your
talks how you have dreaded it, and not for your-
self alone, but even more for the lonely life which
it would bring to the last days of your dear father.
But now that it has come, I am sure that there will
also come to you, as always in the loss of such a
pure and holy life, a spiritual power which will
help you to see God's love, and to understand
something even now of the meaning of it.

And then I know too, what a calm and strong
teaching is coming to you daily from your father's
Christian trust and patience. I love to feel the
connection between your mother's earthly life, and
that of my dear brother Arthur's, and how his
prayers were offered once, as you told me, for her.
Now that the work of each is done here, they are


living the immortal life together, until we join
them above.

How all our thoughts are turned to Christ, as
we think of these earthly servants of his. I am so
glad that you have had these sad but blessed days
of Lent to comfort you with the daily thought of
Christ's sharing our human weakness and pain
and death with us. And how I shall think of you
all on Easter morning as Christ brings forth our
life immortal from the conquered grave.

May God be with you in all your sorrow, my
very dear friend, and sanctify it richly to you and
your dear father.

It was but natural for John Brooks to
deem it a precious privilege to be with his
people at such times. When the news
came that a loved one had died, he went
at once to the home. Sometimes he would
sit quietly in the house, letting his pres-
ence be what comfort it could. Once at
the bed of a dying child he knelt, and said,
"Let us pray," and the prayer was "Our


Father who art in Heaven." For years
after that, when even deeper sorrow came
to that home, the mother said that "Our
Father," to whom he always referred,
took on a different meaning. "He was to
my family a sincere and precious friend,
and minister." He did not confine the
expression of his sympathy, however, to
members of his own parish, for the ruling
motive of his life was very strong, it
was simply service for others. In that
work he found a joy and happiness which
surpassed that of other men who were
prospering in the business world. To
him no business in the world equaled
that of the Christian ministry. It was
this point of view that made him con-
sider his work a privilege, made his
efforts a success, and his own faith serene
and strong.

The words of the Burial Service he


read in a subdued and reverent tone,
which showed the depth of his feelings.
In the sick-room his reading of a simple
hymn would often infuse it with a new
meaning. Sometimes at a funeral, when
circumstances made a few words advisa-
ble, he did not touch upon personalities,
but spoke of Christ, and the joy and hope
of the Life Immortal.




THE two services in Mr. Brooks' min-
istry deserving special mention were the
consecration of the church in 1900, and
the twenty-fifth anniversary of his minis-
try in Christ Church in 1903.

Twice during the year 1899 he appealed
to the parish for money. During the first
six months of the year he paid off ten
thousand dollars of a debt of fourteen
thousand dollars. This he accomplished,
not only by his talks from the chancel on
Sunday mornings, but also by sending a
personal letter to every communicant of
the church. In the fall he began again
and wrote another letter with the result
that on Christmas Day the debt was


cleared. In all his talks and letters upon
the subject there was never a note of dis-
couragement ; he was always hopeful and
optimistic. While these letters contained
business-like statements, they ended, as
did the last one, in this manner: "I beg
you most earnestly and affectionately, my
dear parishioners, to sacrifice to your ut-
most for your church's need, that by your
generous offerings this may be memorable
as the last call for a debt on Christ Church
in its history." The letter was a loving
appeal. He never forced his people, or
scolded, or found fault when things were
going wrong. He attained his ends by
persuasion, and by the confidence that
his sincerity and honesty inspired.

On the tenth of October the next year,
1900, the consecration service was held
in Christ Church. Bishop Lawrence at
the beginning of his sermon turned to Mr.


Brooks, and said, "On you, my dear
brother, has rested the heaviest part of
the burden, which, I know, you would now
call a privilege. With what supreme de-
votion and courage you have carried it
through deep trials, and many joys, your
people well know ; to you belongs a large
share of the joy of this day. I cannot
begin this sermon without recalling your
three brothers who have been called from
this ministry to a higher service, and real-
izing the sympathy and gratitude with
which they would have joined in this con-
secration. With what words of burning
eloquence would your brother, the great
bishop, have illumined the whole occa-
sion. The privilege of preaching the ser-
mon which would have been his, has
fallen to me, and I gratefully, yet humbly,
accept it. As Bishop, and in behalf of
this Diocese, I congratulate you. I can-


not, however, speak simply as your
Bishop; for over thirty years we have
been bound together by ties of friendship ;
together we entered college; together we
studied for the ministry ; together we did
our first work, in common charge of the
little mission in Philadelphia. It was
your voice that in convention commended
me for the office of Bishop : to you I first
turned to be my helper as archdeacon in
the mission work of Western Massachu-
setts. These personal words are not out
of place even in this public service, for
the commendation and congratulation of
friend by friend are a part of the happiest
and richest rewards of this busy age."

As the long procession of bishops,
clergy, and guests passed up the aisle,
singing the hymn, "Ancient of Days," a
crowded church bore witness to a noble

and devoted ministry. After the reading


of the Instrument of Donation, the sen-
tence of Consecration was pronounced by
Bishop Lawrence.

On December the sixteenth, three years
later, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mr.
Brooks' ministry was celebrated. At this
service Bishop Vinton, assisted by Bishop
McVickar of Rhode Island, Bishop Law-
rence of Massachusetts, and Bishop Bur-
gess of Long Island, administered Holy
Communion. Brief addresses were made
by the bishops present and a few of the
clergy, bearing witness to the achieve-
ments of Mr. Brooks' ministry.

The Rt. Rev. Alexander H. Vin-
ton, D.D., of Western Massachusetts, was
the first to speak. He said, "Twenty-five
years of a man's mature life spent in one
congregation ! What chords of love are
wound about the hearts of a people in
that time ! There are undertones of feel-


ing beneath the articulate expressions of
affection and esteem which will be spoken
to-day. You can only know the place
which your rector holds in your hearts.
No occasion could more beautifully re-
flect the relations between you and him
than this celebration which you are car-
rying out to-day. No more devoted rector
ever served a church: all he is, and all
he has been, he has given freely to you
through these long years. He has sanc-
tified your sorrows, shared your joys, and
lent his helpful presence to the vicissi-
tudes of your daily life. I cannot but feel
that those of our number who have
passed on to their reward are looking
down upon us in sympathy and rejoicing
this day."

Bishop McVickar of Rhode Island,
who was closely associated with Phillips
Brooks, said, "Give us a man for twenty-


five years, and we know him pretty well,
and yet you who have known him so long
will want to know more of the man. You
want to go back to that beautiful home
where he was bred. I wish I could do
justice to this family. We would like
once more to see the sweet, strong face
of the mother, the manly face of the head
of the family, noted for his methodical
habits in all things, and the six sons.
One thing we know, the strong family
life that was there, each one of the mem-
bers feeling the other's influence. The
world is grateful for such a family."

The Rev. Arthur Lawrence, D.D.,
rector of St. Paul's Church, Stockbridge,
Massachusetts, then said, "It is rarely
that we can celebrate a twenty-fifth anni-
versary in a church. In the old days a
parish was like a wife, and the minister
took it for life. A strong ministry is a


long one, and we must protest against the
modern idea that a man wears out in the
ministry. It is but the unrest of our
present-day demand for changes. The
greatest honor is one which time alone
can give. A man may leap to military
fame in a day, or be raised up to be a
bishop of a diocese in an hour, but neither
can rank beside him who wears the chev-
rons of service. Whether it is a patrolman
or a car-conductor, the bars on his sleeve
mean years of service and duty per-
formed. We are here to-day to place the
bars of service on the rector of this church.
He has been with you in confirmation, in
marriage, and in every other great occa-
sion in your lives, and a tenderness exists
between you which only long time and
faithful service can bring. We meet to-
day to bid godspeed to the cause of the
Church, and to give a vital expression of


our hope that he may be with you with
unfailing strength and vigor in the years
to come."

The Rev. Leighton Parks, D.D., then
rector of Emmanuel Church, Boston,
speaking on "Life in the Undivided
Diocese," said in part: "In the old dio-
cese there is only one thing to tell in brief
time, and that is the influence of Phillips
Brooks. I remember the first time I met
John Brooks was when he was with
Phillips Brooks. I knew Phillips, but I
did n't know John ; I saw Phillips snap
off his eye-glasses and I heard him say,
'That is Parks.' John said, 'You don't
mean it.' They came across the street
and Phillips looked at me with that
amused interest which seemed to say, 'It
seems impossible that anybody so little
can live.' So the first time I ever saw
John Brooks he was with his brother,


and I have never been able to think of
one without the other since. All these
years he and those of us who knew his
brother have been obliged to measure
ourselves by that majestic figure of the
Christian minister. But the old diocese
has done for John Brooks even more, it
has given him also the inspiration that
came through that friendship, through
that brotherhood, through that example;
for no man ever drew near Phillips Brooks
who did not come out of his presence with
a feeling of his own unworthiness, but as
well with a sublime hope for what he was
to do in the future, a belief that in him,
poor as he was, there was something that
God had made which He had given to no
other man. And that, I know, has been
the glory and the joy of these twenty-five
years, that even the great brother did not
exhaust all of God's gifts to the ministry.


And so I come to bring the greeting of the
old, undivided diocese, and to remind you
of what no man needs to be reminded of,
that the glory of the diocese was Phillips

Two classmates of Mr. Brooks while
at Harvard and the Seminary spoke
next. The Rev. Floyd Tomkins, rector of
Holy Trinity Church, Philadelphia, said:
"When I came back from the mission
field I met Mr. Brooks with the same
spirit in which we would have met soon
after graduation. It has been so all
through these long years; whenever we
come together, we go back to the dear
college days and privileges. Then, the
graduation of Phillips Brooks in 1855
seemed an age ago, but now our own is
still further in the past. But our enthu-
siasm is still young, and those blessed days
return to us with perennial freshness and


vigor. This is not a day of obituaries ; we
are still active young men, and we will
work for many years yet and carry through
them the spirit of youth and of hope. And
on some distant day there will be a re-
union of all colleges where we shall again
feel the thrill of our entrance enthusiasm
and youthful hopes."

His other classmate, the Rev. Harry P.
Nichols, D.D., rector of Holy Trinity
Church, New York City, referred to the
seminary days at Andover, saying, "It
was good for us to be amongst those
distinguished men, for though we have
outgrown the education we received, we
have been left the splendid heritage of
character. We were glad to sit at the
feet of the great teachers, just because
they were great. And from those days
we brought away a sense of good-fellow-
ship, which is one of the strongest char-


acteristics of John Brooks, he has still
the same breeziness and open-hearted-
ness that made him so dear to all men."

Two of Mr. Brooks' former assistants
followed Dr. Nichols. His first assistant
minister, the Rev. Daniel Dulany Addi-
son, D.D., rector of All Saints' Church,
Brookline, Massachusetts, spoke as fol-
lows : "The keynote to the success of Mr.
Brooks is his singleness of purpose in up-
building the parish. He has entertained
no other ambition, and vague ideas of
establishing the kingdom of God in dis-
tant lands have had little weight with
him as compared with the work in his
home city and his church. Again, his
success is largely due to his skillful gen-
eralship in laying large plans and policies,
and watching carefully over the details.
Mr. Brooks felt that if work was to be
done it was for him to lead and for the


parish to follow. His knowledge of the
people was also a large factor. Parish
visiting has almost passed away in large
mart churches, but not in Christ Church.
He has carried his spirit of loving cheer
into thousands of homes in his friendly
visitations, and it has borne fruit in the
affection you have for him to-day. He
has also taken an active part in civic
affairs, and his work as exemplified in the
Union Relief Association stands for the
latest ideal in modern charity. He in-
vestigates every case and always rules
his charity by his judgment. . . . Last of
all, let me testify to the vitality of his
preaching. You all will bear witness
that many of his sermons are not un-
worthy of the mind of his brother,
Phillips Brooks. There is a quiet elo-
quence and a loving spirit of Christ in
them; he has brought new thought from


his very soul and shared it with you for
the last twenty-five years. He is truly
your minister, for he is your servant in
the church and home. He who truly
serves is the greatest among you all."

Then the Rev. James DeWolf Perry, Jr.,
rector of St. Paul's Church, New Haven,
Connecticut, said: "He has united the
inspiration of his earlier experiences with
the reflection of his maturer years, and
has concentrated his whole energy on
building up a strong parish. In it the
family life predominated; Christ Church
is like one great family. The youth of
the church turn to their rector as they
would to an elder brother, and always
find his heart attuned for loving sym-
pathy in their troubles and ambitious. I
have often had reason to congratulate
myself that I had his strong example
before me in the first years of my min-


istry, but sometimes I have envied the
young man who could settle in this city
and become a worker and a companion
for life of Mr. Brooks."

The Rt. Rev. Frederick Burgess, D.D.,
Bishop of Long Island, said: "As I
stand here to-day it seems as though
there must be some mistake in celebrating
this as the twenty-fifth anniversary of the
coming of my friend to this church, for
it seems to me that it was only the other
day or the othor year that I was rector
of Grace Church, Amherst, and as neigh-
bors in the diocese, we often exchanged
pulpits and ideas. Youth has the ad-
vantage that it makes friends easily, and
our common tastes and ideals soon ce-
mented a lifelong friendship. The man
whom we honor to-day has a genius for
friendship. He has gone among the
people of the city, laughing, enjoying,


weeping, as they did, and his friendships
have always been deep, true, and tender.
The clergy of the vicinity used to gather in
a kind of a club, and I well remember
how often the deepest, truest convictions
of our hearts flashed out in sparks of
truth at these gatherings. The laity do
not always truly know their rector, for
they cannot see these brightest lights of
his character which only shine in clerical
meetings. Such a day as this is a protest
in forgetting the past. The emphasis is
laid to-day on the value of a close friend-
ship between the church and the minister.
With such a gathering as this to look
back upon we can defy the heart of care
which so often rides with those who sit in
clerical saddles. We can defy the world-
weariness which is the greatest tempta-
tion of the aging clergyman."

The closing address was made by the


Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, D.D., the
Bishop of Massachusetts, a part of which
was as follows : "It was in the old college
days in Harvard that first we became in-
timate. We entered college together,
and studied and worshiped under the
same inspiration. Later in Andover
Theological School we lived, thought,
breathed, and ate theology together. We
both worked in small struggling parishes
for a time after graduation and kept in
close touch with each other, and when he
came to Springfield twenty-five years
ago we were still one in thought and
aspiration. Devotion, devotion, and yet
again devotion, is the basis on which
the work of my friend has always stood.
His persistent devotion through these
long years has found a rich reward in the
grateful hearts of his church and the com-
munity. For twenty-five years he has


been going in and out of the houses in
Springfield, tracing out men, women, and
children in their joys and sorrows, and
bringing them home. The limitation
and glory of his life has been that he has
done the hardest of the work himself.
Grateful, loving assistance he has had in
great store, but he has been the leader,
and by the very force of his ideal has
drawn his followers after him. Through
all trouble and loss he has walked with
serenity, cheerfulness, and peace, and
never in the most trying times given up
his work among the people. No man
could be what he has been to the church
and the city unless he was sound in
heart and character to the very core."

At a reception in the evening, Mr.
Brooks was presented by his parishioners
with a purse of one thousand dollars.
His response was a fitting close to the


day: "I cannot express," he said, "the
stimulus and the exhilaration which this
day has given me. The central part of
my life is finished. And I have in some
degree seen the far-away hopes and
dreams of my earlier service in Christ
Church realized in the desire of my
fellow-men, as expressed to-day. I ac-
cept this gift as an outer and visible sign
of that intangible devotion, loyalty, and
love which is in your hearts toward me.
What shall I do with such a gift as repre-
sents the heart of a parish ? My service
with you has not been a duty, but a glad,
bright service in living in you and making
Christ live in your hearts. May Christ
at last show us that larger service, and
bring us all into the common service
of mankind."




THE year following the twenty-fifth
anniversary of Mr. Brooks' ministry he
began to show signs of failing health. In
the fall he attended the General Conven-
tion at Boston, as a delegate. Returning
to Springfield he was unable to work, and
spent a few weeks at Atlantic City. The
following year he was obliged to cease
his former activity in parish work, and
remained some time away from Spring-
field. He passed the summer of 1906
at Camden, Maine, and while there he
underwent a slight operation, from which
he seemed to recuperate. He spent the
days out of doors, rowing and taking
long walks, yet when the time came for


him to return to Springfield he had lost
rather than gained in health. One of his
vestrymen, Mr. Henry H. Skinner, went
to Camden to find out about his health,
with the result that a six months' vaca-
tion was offered him. Mr. Brooks ac-
cepted the offer and prepared at once for a
winter abroad with his younger daughter,
Harriette. Before he returned to Spring-
field, he wrote the following letter.


DEAR MRS. : I am going to ask you a

question, to which I want a good, honest, unusu-
ally honest, answer. You are always very good in
being willing to entertain stray clergymen, even
Congregationalists, I remember, and I wonder,
therefore, whether you would be willing to take
one in for a few days this week. He is one in
whom I am specially interested, namely myself.

You have heard already, I presume, of the very
kind offer of a vacation of six months from the
vestry to me, and I am coming home to arrange


to sail for Europe, and the rectory is closed to me.
Now I do not often write this kind of a letter, and
it is very rare and valuable, and you must appre-
ciate it very much, and not be offended with me
for presuming to write it.

His request was quickly granted, and
he came back to spend the last few days
in Springfield. On Sunday he did not
preach, but made a short address from
the chancel. The visit with his friends
was a bright and happy one. The last
evening, his last in America, he sat about
the fireplace, talking and laughing with
his usual interest. He talked of the
parish, how proud he was of it, and what
noble men made up the vestry, for this
had always been a matter of pride with
him, to his vestrymen he had been
loyal, as they had been to him. On the
following day, as he was about to sail,
his affection for them was revealed, when


he spoke again of their goodness in al-
lowing him to take such a long vacation.
So he spent his last evening in Spring-
field, talking to and of his people, how
much they had been to him and what he
thought of them. "We have the very
finest poor in the parish that there are in
town," he said. "And to think that
there is n't anybody I have to explain or
make apologies for in all the parish."
There is a depth of satisfaction in know-
ing that his last days in America were
spent so happily among his own people.
So he left his parish, after assuring him-
self that his new assistant would continue
in charge until he returned.

Christ Church was now a parish num-
bering over twelve hundred communi-
cants and free from debt. The in-
vested funds amounted to over fifty-five
thousand dollars, and the annual ex-


penditures exceeded fifteen thousand
dollars. Financially he was leaving his
house in order.

On the twenty -fourth day of September,
1906, a few of his friends came to the " S. S.
Winifredian," at East Boston, to bid him

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Online LibraryJames Clement SharpJohn Cotton Brooks → online text (page 6 of 7)