Jonathan Leavitt Jenkins.

A sermon, preached at the funeral of Hon. Thomas Allen, in the First church, Pittsfield, Mass., April 11, 1882 online

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Online LibraryJonathan Leavitt JenkinsA sermon, preached at the funeral of Hon. Thomas Allen, in the First church, Pittsfield, Mass., April 11, 1882 → online text (page 1 of 1)
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APEIL 11, 1883.



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1 SAMUEL, 25: 1.


Not since Moses, who died four hundred years before, had
there been in Israel so great a man as Samuel. In troublesome
times he preserved order, administered justice. He consolidated
the nation, founded schools, served faithfully and wisely for
thirty years in high positions. He died ; and, dying, received
the most generous appreciation and homage.

The means by which these were expressed are mentioned. I
dwell for a moment upon each in order : —

1st. "All the Israelites were gathered together." Says Mr.
Stanley : " We are told with a peculiar emphasis of expression
that all the Israelites, not one portion or fragment only, ae
might have been expected in that time of division and confu-
sion, but all were gathered together around him who had been
the benefactor of all." A time had come when men of all sec-
tions and factions were constrained to recognize eminent servi-
ces and eminent ability and eminent worth. They stopped
their dissensions, forgot party allegiance, put by local prejudi-
ces, personal grievances. Men who forced Samuel from office,
and men who would keep him in it, met at his grave and alike
honored him. It was a generous tribute, this gathering of all
the Israelites at the burial of Samuel. From the extremes of

the kingdom, from its chief cities men came to a quiet village
that, by their presence, they might express their appreciation
of the labors and worth of the man who had died.

2d. " They lamented him." Grief soon becomes conven-
tional. There are prescribed ways for manifesting it, a period
fixed during which signs of sorrow are exposed. When, in
Europe, a member of a royal family dies, other courts go into
mourning for a specified time. Among us, I believe, there are
rules respecting the matter. Black is to be worn so long, dis-
placed so gradually. We early find traces of such convention-
alities. Aaron and Moses were mourned for thirty days. Of
Samuel it is simply said, " they lamented him." The plain,
unqualified statement testifies to the genuineness of the sorrow.
.V sorrow superior to ceremonies and demanding its own free,
unrestricted indulgence ! What heartier tribute was possible !
" They lamented him."

:'.. " They buried him in his house at Ramah." In his house
means probably in the court or garden attached to his house.
We have another account of Samuel's burial. " All Israel had
lamented him and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.
Evidently the great simple man's preferences were regarded.
Sorrow for him was t<snder, as it was genuine and universal.
They buried him in his own house at Ramah — his own city.
There were more famous places — Gibeah, the royal residence,
was one. Saul, who was fond of processions and display, might
have arranged a splendid funeral pagent, and brought crowds
to his Capital. Daring, impulsive as he was, he could not vio-
late the intrinsic propriety which demanded the burial of the
simple, stem prophet in the village where he was born and
lived. So he was buried in Ramah, his own city.

This Ramah had the power of awakening strong localattach-
ments. It- probable site was a hill top. now easily seen from

Jerusalem, looking to the northeast. It commanded fine views
—its people were intelligent and good, if Samuel's parents rep-
resent them. Here he was born and carefully nurtured by
his wise and pious mother. Here he made his own home when
a man, here he located a school of the prophets, "here," a s
Matthew Henry expresses it, "he enjoyed himself and his God
in his advanced years," and here, in the place he had served and
made illustrious, he was buried.

The power of awakening strong local attachment long con-
tinued to Ramah. A thousand years after Samuel's death, the
little village is made famous again by a worthy citizen who
could not be tempted from it by all the splendors of a great
city and capital. Joseph, the honorable councillor, who went
in boldly to Pilate and begged the Lord's body and fitly buried
it, was known as Joseph of Arimathea, another name for Ra-
mah, a resident, if not a native of the place where Samuel was
born and lived and was. buried.

To be lamented as Samuel was by all his countrymen, to be
mourned for a very great number of days, to be peacefully
buried in his own quiet and loved village, were there not here
ample compensations for years of industry and public service.
Not till men are gone are they known. Under such condition
do we live. Our lives here are such that what is best is seldom
most conspicuous. Here influences that warp and distort judg-
ments are many and strong. Here occasions for misunderstand-
ings, for conflict, for alienations, are so frequent that perfect
concord is impossible. Wise men do not expect it, What is
possible, what may be reasonably expected, is that when a man
dies, then his fellows will be quick to see and confess his worth
and the worth of his services. If, under the great illumination
which death diffuses, men remain blind and wt'u>r to see the
excellencies made apparent, we are forced to n-cognize the

presence and power of inveterate prejudice or wicked hate. If,
od the other hand, when men die and in their ascension lose the
disfigurements and imperfections belonging to the earthly life,
and they who are spectators exult in the new clear revelations
of truth and beauty, and long to abide under them ever more,
what worthier tribute to the dead can there be, and what con-
duct worthier of the living.

We often hear the homage paid the dead disparaged, under-
valued. It is called cheap, and a poor substitute for the just
treatment of the living. To me it seems very precious. Very
precious, for the act embodies the best sentiments and wisest
judgments of men. Men see clearly and feel rightly at the
grave as no where else. Here clouds and mists rise and disap-
pear, prejudices are carried off, all the spiritual forces are at
liberty to act freely, without hindrance. Hence the real, sub-
stantia] worth of the homage paid the dead. Men do nothing
of tiner quality. Estimates made at the grave partake of the
clemency and justice of heaven. It was not cheap and mean-
ingless, this gathering of all the Israelites at Kamah, the mourn-
ing for Samuel for a very great number of days, and his quiet
burial in lii> own city. The whole world held then nothing of
greater value. Here were love, gratitude, veneration. No
costlier offerings could be. There was almost infinite worth in
them. So when about any grave friends and acquaintances
gather, when men come from afar to he present, when every
available means is used for expressing affection, respect, the
homage is not cheap and meaningless. It i> precious and sig-

That burial in Raman three thousand years ago, when friends
and fellow citizens gathered and lamented and buried a faithful,
good man, has had innumerable repetitions, '• being repeated
now and here.

Thomas Allen was horn in this town August 29, L813, in a
house standing on the site, where, in 1858, lie built the one
from which we have just brought his body. His father was
Jonathan Allen. He was named for his grandfather, Thomas
Allen, the first pastor of this Church. His mother was Eunice
Williams Lamed, grand-daughter of Col. Israel Williams of
Hatfield. So that it has been said, Mr. allien " derived his de-
scent on one side from one of the Revolutionary Whigs most
noted for his uncompromising zeal, and on the other from one
of the staunchest American adherents to the British Crown."'
His ancestry was not a weak one. The chances were there
would he in him a double portion of strength. It is man's first
and most lasting advantage to be well born. To inherit a good
ody, full of vitality, a sound mind, firm will, a controlling
moral sense. There was once in New England a generation
able to transmit these valuable legacies, — it could not give chil-
dren great riches, great honors— it could and did give what was
of greater worth, health, intellect, determination, conscience.
Into a large inheritance of these Mr. Allen was born. His ed-
ucation began formally in the schools of this town, in which he
continued till he entered Union College in 1829.

His purposed destination was the law. In 1835 he was ad-
mitted to the New York bar. His career was not to be that of
a lawyer. He began early to write — wrote so much that it was
said of him at twenty-one that no young man in the country,
of his age, had written so much. His vocation seemed found ;
he was to be an editor. It proved not to be his calling.

He betrayed early a taste for politics. His mind was suited
to grave, public questions. He had the power to influence by
strong, persuasive speech. But his life work was not to he that
of the mere partisan politician. After various essays in different
directions, he was guided to his assigned task. Devout believ-


ers in God find marks of his wisdom in the orderly migrations <
of birds and beasts. Devout students of history see God in em-
igrations, in colonizations, in the grand movements by which
the world's population is transferred from one scene of effort to
another. This large faith bears reduction, and individualiza-
tion. The steps of a man are ordered by God. There are al-
ways foreordinations requiring the birth to be in the proper
Bethlehem, the preparatory life in Nazareth, the years of active
service in busy, growing Capernaum. Men do not determine
their own careers. They fulfill them. We are all God-led as
truly as were the Israelites. What I am asserting was true of
Mi'. Allen. There were years of uncertainty, of attempts, of
experiments. He was feeling after the track he was to pursue
through the wilderness of this world ; he was seeking after the
work given him to do. His seeking was in time rewarded.

The workman and the work came together. The work was a
great work. We all learn early the famous saying of Lord Ba-
con, to the effect that the most heroical of works is the founding
a colony. He is called to grand tasks who has to do with
shaping the destiny of a great State. A first necessity is its en-
richment by the discovery and use of its own resources, by the
easy introduction of needed supplies from without. Changes
have come over the world. Forts, defences, are not a primal
need. Populations are not now to be kept out of given territo-
ries. They are to be tempted into them. It is high service
those do who cast up highways in the wilderness; who redeem
the fruitful earth from barrenness; who expose the treasures of
its mines; who, in the biblical sense of the word, " Subdue
the earth." These are your true conquerors. They come up
out of Edoms, their garments not rolled in blood, but fragrant
with the odors of field and vineyard. They mark their progress
not by ruin and desolation, hut by the waste places they build.

The pean chanted over their conquests, is without wall or sigh,
is the merry shout of harvesters, the undisturbed laughter of
children in village streets.

A new type of heroes is appearing. The old traditional type
is becoming extinct. The man, sure of honor, is the explorer,
the inventor, the discoverer who enriches human life, and adds
to the well being of mankind ; who makes States strong not in
fortresses, but in the resources supporting great populations, and
in the means whereby great populations are made intelligent.
virtuous, pious. He is called to a supreme work who has to do
with shaping the destiny of a great Commonwealth. That is
an heroical work whose end is public enrichment and strength-
ening of a State. Men do not blunder upon such works. God
girds men for them. It was so with Mr. Allen. He was raised
up for a work and so found it. He was led from this his native
village, with many wanderings, half across the continent to a
spot predestined to be the seat of empire, early christened with
a most sovereign name. He saw possibilities others saw not.
and so was a prophet. He had the voice of a prophet, and
aroused the people. He had the compelling force of a prophet,
and his bidding was more or less heeded. Thus under a Divine
guidance, and because of a Divine endowment, did Mr. Allen
find the great, grand work of his life. It might be that a man
should be led to his assigned work, and be unconscious of the
leading. He might think the work a discovery of his own, or
he might think nothing of it. Neither was possible to Mr. Al-
len. He had what men of his class commonly have, faith in
God. It is not the unbeliever that, Abraham like, leaves coun-
try and home and friends for an unknown land. Faith has
wrought civilizations, and only faith. The world's best workers
have been and must be believers. Mr. Allen was a believer in
God. " I know not," he said, " how it is with other men. " but


[ have been a man of prayer all my life. I havealways before
important decisions sought guidance from God." lie believed
the ordering of his steps was with God.

His aims were t<> make his labors promotive of Divine ends.
I am not claiming that he did not seek his own profit in what
he did ; I am not supposing that Mr. Allen was devoted to the
special service of God as the early Jesuit preachers and mis-
sionaries were. I am, however, very certain that it was his aim
to promote on the earth the kingdom of God. For this phrase
is a large one. The devoted Jesuit did not understand it fully.
Perhaps not so well as the energetic, far-seeing, man of busi-
ness. That which is natural is first. A State must have a ma-
terial basis — good society must have physical resources. \t is a
Divine work to find and supply these. Manna no longer falls
from heaven. Ravens no longer bring food. The kingdom of
God may not be meat and drink, but it would soon. so far as
the earth is concerned, come to an end without them. Mr. Al-
len did not confine his efforts to merely material results. By an
early and always indulged impulse, lie was a man of varied and
pronounced scholarly tastes. He was. as has been said, an' ef-
fective writer. It is possible to make a valuable volume of the
papers prepared by him on different subjects. He was inter-
ested in and promoted the sciences. He was the wise patron of
education. His wisdom, his insight, are conspicuous in his gift
to his native town. He could do nothing better for it, than en-
courage the habit of good reading among it- people. The
beautiful building, whose doorway is fittingly draped in mourn-
ing to-day, will not only perpetuate here the memory ot his
name, but will he a testimony to his wisdom.

I have not intended any studied analysis of .Mr. Allen's char,
acter. I think the hasty sketch given reveals him. He was
well born, had and found a work, a work that could he done


only by a man rarely gifted. He did his work well. He did
a great work well. There were once Princes in Europe ruling
a smaller territory than Mr. Allen managed, a smaller num-
ber of subjects, than he had men under him, handling no such
sums of money as he handled. 1 nis great work he did, and
did well. And it is measure and indication of the rare powers
in him. Besides these great executive abilities he had other
rare gifts. Not every great worker is a scholar. Air. Allen
was. Not every great worker is a man of large heart. Mr.
Allen w T as. He had two homes, lie did the impossible, he
served two masters. We know he loved Pittsfield. He came
hack when able and bought his birth-place, built here for him-
self a home, delighted to come to it. And here lie was in-
terested in our local affairs. Would have our burial place
beautified. Among his last gifts was one towards the improve-
ment of the interior of this church. He attended the meetings
of the County Historical Society, prepared and read papers !"■
fore it. Was President of the Board of Trustees of the Athe-
naeum. And here he is brought for hnrial that he might rest
with his forefathers. Pittsfield did not engross all Mr. Allen's
affection, interest. He loved the city, which was hishome,and
whose prosperity lie so wisely and successfully promoted. Here
he was loved, respected. It did not seem to us a strange thing
when his fellow citizens elected him member of Congress. I
think we all rejoiced in their act. Not only that it honored one
of us. hut because it was an honor most worthily bestowed.
Here where he was known, where the discipline of his life was
known: here where bis firm devotion to the union was known,
here it was felt that a new and strong man was putting his hand
upon the national government, and that therefore it would he
the more stable. To his adopted home Mr. Allen was a- loyal
as to his birth-place. " 1 would like." he said in his last sick-


ness, "to live a few years longer. There are some things 1
would like to do for Missouri." He died in her service. In
her loss we share. Our hope for her is that other men, as able,
as good, may be found to serve her, and lead her on to greater
and greater prosperity.

There was in Mr. Allen a strong moral sense. He had that
which has been in the past rather characteristic of New En-
gland. We have not always excelled in fine maimers, in many
elegancies, but we have had a robust sense of what was right
and wrong. Hence reforms have so easily gotten and kept
a foothold here. We are growing practical, are being practiced
in matters of expediency, and yet we believe wrong is wrong
and right is right, that they are contrary one to the other, as far
apart, as irreconcilable, as light and darkness, heaven and hell.
This New England conscientiousness was in Mr. Allen. He dis-
criminated. He felt the imperative claim of the right. He
revolted from the wrong. At the base of his character Mas this
firm rock. Allied to his moral sensitiveness was Mr. Allen's
faith in God. He had this, not as an inheritance, but as a con-
viction, and not as a useless conviction. God was an intelligent
person to him, a being from whom direction could be received, '
to whom service was due. Mr. Allen believed in immortatitv.
He may well have believed in it. He could not easily conclude
that a force which had been what his personal will and energy
had been, should suddenly cease. He never supposed it would.
In the long sickness which he suffered from, his mind was nat-
urally much engaged with the supreme problems of life and
death. He was able to think calmly and protractedly. His
thoughts were high. He had. he said, during his illness, reve-
lations. Yes, revelations of God, and in many ways. Evi-
dently God was in his thoughts much. So in those weeks,
months, of pain, of confinement, as he was drawing nearer to
God, God drew near to him. And at last he was not, for God
had taken him.


013 787 541 A


Online LibraryJonathan Leavitt JenkinsA sermon, preached at the funeral of Hon. Thomas Allen, in the First church, Pittsfield, Mass., April 11, 1882 → online text (page 1 of 1)