Page images

His body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. He burns and shines with love divine. He does the work of Christ. He obeys the word and will of Christ. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill can not be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giv. eth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Thus all of God's elect people are “chosen in Christ that they may be holy.” “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” It matters not whether our lamp be of clay or of gold, whether it be of rude or classic shape, if it is but filled with the pure oil of grace and is kept trimmed and burning by “ him who walketh among the seven golden candlesticks." One may carry but a little light, a mere taper; another may burn like a flaming torch; another may branch out like the golden candlestick of the temple; but the Church and angels rejoice in them all. The lights of the Church universal are innumerable as the stars in the firmament, and of every order and rank; but all blend their rays together to make the night light about us, while “the sun rules by day.” Our rejoicing in these lights is not boastful, not selfish, not as Nebuchadnezzar gloated over the great Babylon which he had built, but it is the rejoicing of humble, thankful hearts which praise the Lord and cry: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake.” And when our Lord takes these “burning and shining lights” away from the Church on earth, they go not out in endless night, but he transfers them to the temple that is not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." He takes them from a lower to a higher place where they burn and shine forever with brighter lustre and with purer flame.

My brethren and friends, in this spirit let us now turn to see the illustration of these truths in the character and death and influences of that eminent servant of the Lord for whom we la. ment, and yet praise God to-day.

The object of this discourse is not to present a biographical sketch nor to attempt a full-length portrait of our “American Wilberforce," but simply to exhibit some of those characteristics which have made him for more than a generation "a burning and a shining light” in the Church and in the nation. Against the dark background of our unhappy times his character stands in bright and bold relief, admired by millions, and beloved by all who knew the man and his native and gracious worth.

An old writer has said that “grace does not run in the blood, although corruption does." But there is something in ancestry;

and of all people in the world a Christian is not the one to undervalue a descent from godly forefathers. The ancestors of Theodore Frelinghuysen, both in this country and in Holland, were eminent for their love of liberty, their independence of spirit, and their intelligent attachment to the truth of God. Several of them were ministers of the Gospel, full of the principles of the Reformation, and animated by the utmost fearlessness and zeal in the prosecution of their work. The first of these, who came over to this country in 1719, and whose ministry was alike memorable for its success and power, declared in the face of great opposition: “I would sooner die a thousand deaths than not preach the truth.” Inheriting. these noble qualities of his honored line, Mr. Frelinghuysen adorned and illustrated them all during a lifetime of great usefulness in the Church and in the State. "His father was a distinguished lawyer of New-Jersey, an officer in the army of the Revolution, afterward major.general, and then senator of the United States." Thus in character, religion, and statesmanship, his lineage was equally honorable and blessed of God, who has made him the most illustrious of his name.

Let me now speak to you of his character. By the concurrent testimony of the whole nation as expressed in private and public, in the pulpit and at the forum, and through the press," he was a burning and a shining light," and "we rejoiced for a season in his light."

It would be hard to say what particular gifts and traits made that light so bright. He was a man of eminent intellectual gifts, and of scholarly tastes ; an orator of no mean fame and of classic eloquence; a lawyer who adorned the able bar of his native State; a Senator who stood high in the front ranks when the Senate of the United States contained its greatest lights. But it was the fine balance of his powers, the beautiful adjustment of intellectual and moral qualities with refinement of culture, admirable judg. ment, and unique individuality of character, speech and action, which constituted the general excellence of the man.

In this happy combination of characteristics without the striking prepon. derance of any one intellectual gift, he was not unlike our matchless Washington. His was no amiable insipidity, nor negative virtue. He was a positive, spirited, direct, energetic man, full of a latent fire which often burned from the depths of his soul through all his movements, and set the hearts of those around him in a flame. At times his power was like the discharge of an electric battery, instantaneous and over-mastering. Yet a more gentle spirit never moved in human breast. He was the true gentleman, in the classic sense of the word, by birth and in behavior, in manners and in mind, in private and in public life. He was distinguished for his sterling honesty, thorough conscientious. ness, unbending integrity, and great self-possession, with kind con.


sideration for others, and generous, large-hearted sympathy, and large-minded views of men and things. Few men enjoyed so rare à reputation for these essential virtues amid the temptations of professional and public life. While some of his eminent compeers were hopelessly ruined by the vices of the capital; while he moved amid the same exciting scenes, at a very critical period of our congressional history, his senatorial robes were always white, and his example was lustrous with undiminished moral and religious light for all. Yet he was a very humble man.

He did not appear to "think of himself more highly than he ought to think." He did not take the highest place at the feast, but waited until the Master of the feast came and said to him: “Friend, come up higher."

Perhaps the best designation of his character would be its purity. No miser's covetousness wrote its bateful legends on his calm brow. Nobody looked in his shadow for "treason, stratagems, and spoils;" for lurking cunning, nor for that peculiar malice with which hardened age sometimes steels its withered nerves. He was like the crystal, solid but translucent. You could see through him, and love him, because he unconsciously sought and bore the test of sunlight. Like Nathanael, when he came to Jesus, he was Israelite indeed in whom there was no guile.”

But it was the religion of Jesus Christ which gave to Mr. Frelinghuysen his chief distinction. I doubt much if since he took his public stand as a Christian, he was ever thought of apart from that character. He was the Christian lawyer, the Christian senator, the Christian philanthropist, the Christian gentleman, the Christian always and every where. His honesty and integrity, his eloquence and his power were all, like himself, “ baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." “The blood of sprinkling" was on the posts of his doors, on his family, his calling, on every service that he rendered to the country or to the cause of Christ.

I know no finer instance of the vast increase of power which religion gives to a man of intellect and education. With natural powers which were surpassed by some of his great compeers, and equaled by many, it is safe to say that no man, not even the greatest of them all, exerted the same kind of lofty and permanent influence which he did by the sheer force of his well-known consistent religious character. “ As an honest man,” (says one of his friends,)“ as well as a learned and able advocate, he came to possess such power over juries, that his opinion at the bar was regarded with profounder reverence than that of the judge or the bench ; and when, as Attorney-General, it became his duty to pros. ecute a criminal, a conviction was considered absolutely certain if Mr. Frelinghuysen declared his belief that the man was guilty."*

* New-York Observer, from which also we take the following anecdote: “More

The same writer states that when his name was proposed in the caucus of the National Convention, for Vice-President, on the same ticket with Henry Clay, a distinguished Southern lawyer opposed it in these words: “I know him well; I admire and love him: if I were searching the world over for a man to be my pastor, my spiritual guide, I would seek Theodore Frelinghuysen of all men living; but to drag him through the mire of party politics at the tail of a presidential ticket, I will never consent to itnever, never!" Still he was nominated, and failed of an election that would have placed in the second office of the nation one of the purest of statesmen.

It may serve to bring out the brightness of this shining character, in contrast with political tactics, to mention the following inci. dent. When the tidings of the nomination reached New-York, one of the most celebrated scholars of our country, who narrated the fact to your preacher, said to the leading editor of the same political party: “How do you like the nomination of Mr. Frelinghuysen ?" He replied: "It will never do! It will never do! He is too much mixed up with the Bible Society." "Well, sir," said the scholar referred to, "if it has come to this—that, because a man is a Christian, and president of a Bible Society, he can not be elected to high office—it is time that we should know it."

But God had better things in store for his honored servant. Both before and after his retiracy from political life, he was the most eminent living American representative of the great moral, philanthropic and religious institutions of the age. Nothing that concerned the welfare of humanity and the kingdom of Christ, was foreign to him. More than thirty years ago, the late Dr. J. W. Alexander, then at Trenton, wrote to his friend and biographer: “Mr. Frelinghuysen is here at this time, full of the subject of temperance. He is a singular instance of a man zealously devoted to every good enterprise without the slightest eccentri

"* The character which he then bore at forty-three years of age, grew until it ripened for the harvest at seventy-five. Philanthropy has had no more noble advocate, Christianity no more devout pattern of its graces, and of its broad, deep, genuine catho. licity. He was a member, an elder, and a presiding officer of than forty years ago, and in the northern part of the State of New York, we heard one man say to another: 'If I knew where there was an honest lawyer, I would go a thousand miles to see him. Another man replied: 'If you go to New-Jersey and ask for Theodore Frelinghuysen, you will find the man.' Such was his reputation at that early period of his shining career.”

Another writer gives a similar illustration in the Standard and Presbyterian Expositor: A man came into Newark, one day, and asked the innkeeper to direct him to a first-rate lawyer. “Well," said Boniface, "if you have a good cause, go to Frelinghuysen, he is an honest lawyer, and never undertakes any other kind; but if you want a keen, sharp lawyer, that sticks at nothing, go to Lawyer -." He watched the way the stranger went, and be went straight to Lawyer

* Forty Years Familiar Letters of J. W. Alexander, D.D. Vol. i. p. 147.


some of the Boards of my own Church. We have not another like him to lose. During a lengthened period of his life, before there was a church of our order in Newark, he was a member and elder of the Presbyterian Church in that place, where his first confession of Christ was made. But he belonged not to us, nor to our sister Church. The whole Church of Christ in these United States claims him as the type, embodiment and representative of Christian Union, and of that “unity of the Spirit” which is "the bond of peace" and

'of perfectness. No better proof of this can be named than the singular fact that at one time he held the office of President in those three great national and catholic institutions, the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society, and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The first of these he retained until his death. It is also stated in the public prints that he was President of the American and Foreign Christian Union, and of the American Temperance Union. Yet no man ever loved more beartily, or held with greater tenacity, the creed and polity of his own mother Church. He was a theologian of ample acquirements, of rigid evangelical views, and of tborough orthodoxy according to the Calvinistic standard of Dordrecht and Westminster All bis ancestral, traditional, and local associations, his constitutional tendencies, his education, and his conscientious convictions, united to make him a living type of "the good old ways of the Reformation." He was neither a bigot nor a latitudinarian. He stood upon the highest ground of unsectarian Christianity, and yet like a good soldier of Jesus Christ he obeyed that apostolic injunction :

stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity." (1 Cor. 16 : 13, 14.)

His peculiar powers of eloquent speech were often developed on the anniversary occasions of our great national religious institutions, and with wonderful effect. Thus I remember how, a few years ago, when some converted Indians were introduced at one of the sessions of the American Board of Foreign Missions, he wel. comed them in an impromptu address which thrilled the vast assembly, and so paralyzed the utterance of others, that even one of the most eminent pulpit orators of our time, who was to follow him, only apologized and exclaiming, “But who can come after the king ?" sat down among the tearful multitude. His faith, and his love for Christ and his cause, were measured by the world, the Bible, and the Cross. With him “there was neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female: for all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28.)

He was a regular attendant of the union daily prayer.meetings which were held in New-Brunswick during and since the late revival, and took a leading part in the exercises, and an humble seat among the lowly. For many years during his legal practice

Watch ye,

« PreviousContinue »