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humility before God-he studied with deep love the character of Christ-he labored to bring men to a sense of religious dependence and submission to the will of heaven. . To that will he bowed humbly down-and whether it ordained death or life, he patiently submitted. Submission was with him a habit of soul. And when bigots undertake to narrow the Christian world down to the limits of their party, and deny the Christian name to those who do not believe with them and adopt their technics—I would calmly lean on my knowledge of that venerable saint. No one who knew him ever dared to question that he was a Christian. No one could ever ask, “Whose image and superscription is this?". The image of Jesus was stamped on his brow. A life of love, of self-denial, of selfsacrifice made all take knowledge of him that he had been with Jesus. There was a resemblance between them which struck every one. Having known him therefore, I am fully armed against the arguments of worldlings, sceptics, and bigots. I may say then, in the words of a French writer, “others have exercised a greater influence over my mind and my ideas. He has shown me a truly Christian character. I therefore owe the most to him.”
Such being the influence which the character of Dr. Freeman has exercised over my own mind, I feel as if I should be doing you no little service by describing as well as I can the leading traits of his character and life. I would lay this poor wreath upon the tomb of one who was the guide and teacher of my youth; more than a father in tenderness and affection; and a friend such as I can never hope to see again in this world. Providence ordained that I should not stand at his dying bed, nor precede that multitude which accompanied his body to its last resting place, nor partake of the solemn impression which the departure of a good man leaves on the mind of all who witness it. I was removed a thousand miles from that scene, and remained for a week unconscious of my loss. But I would not, though distant, let such an incident pass by, without seeking to draw from it that lesson which Providence means to teach us in every earthly trial.
But it is not merely the remarkable character of Dr. Freeman, or my own near relation to him, which induces me to speak of his death thus publicly. He was the father of liberal and rational Christianity, as we understand it, in the United States.
He was the first who ever dared declare his belief in the simple unity of God. He was not the first who held the opinion--but he was the first who ever openly declared it, and
took the brunt of the opposition and enmity so excited. I have not the documents to refer to, but I suppose it was about the year 1780, that he, being reader in an Episcopal church, called King's Chapel, in Boston, founded by the king long before the Revolution-preached a sermon in which he denied the Trinity, and declared with the Apostle, “To us there is but one God, the Father.”—His expectation was, that he should be immediately dismissed-but instead of that, the society asked him to preach farther—finally with the exception of a few individuals, declared themselves of his opinion,-they altered their Liturgy so far as to omit all Trinitarian doxologies and allusions, and retain it to this day with these alterations. He stood alone, suspected and avoided by all parties for many years—but the attachment of his society consoled him for this. He might say with Paul, “at my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me-I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge--notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me—that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that the Gentiles might hear, and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."
He stood alone--but not long. One by one, the congregational churches who were not fettered to old opinions, either by liturgies or creeds, and to whom it was easier than it had been for him to change, came out and declared for the
pure worship of the Bible. He had looked into the perfect law of liberty, and continued therein-he had persevered—and he was blessed in his deed--he was rewarded by seeing before his death one hundred churches in the single state of Massachusetts, running up the standard of a common faith with him;—other men, and younger, followed him, and he was surrounded by a host of ardent and active intellects, in whose labors he truly rejoiced. He was the Patriarch of a host, among whom were such men as Buckminster, Channing, Ware, Palfrey, Dewey, Furness, and many others. All these men came to ask counsel of him, and reverently to ponder whatever came from the lips of that venerable man. Had he remained in the Episcopal church, he would doubtless have been Bishop of that Diocese—but seldom has a Bishop, I think, enjoyed the love and reverence of such a numerous band of ministers, as surrounded him. He had the thing without the name, which was better than the condition of many, who have the name, but not the thing. During the fifty-five years that his ministry lasted, he wept over the graves of all the companions of his youth. But the generation which came up in their places learned to love him as well, and respect him more, than their fathers
did. His colleague, the Rev. F. W. P. Greenwood, a man of great intellect and taste, has expressed the sentiment of the community so well, that I must quote the passage.
There are those here who will remember the deep stillness which pervaded the audience which crowded the building where he was preaching the sermon at my ordination, when he began to speak of Dr. Freeman in the following language:
"In this regard,” said he, “an example of faith and perseverance will readily present itself to your mind as it does to mine;—the example of that venerable man who has stood to you in the double relation of pastor and parent-to me, of pastor and colleague. For years, he too, worked alone in this very city, the only minister in the city and neighborhood, I might say the only minister in the whole country, who openly preached that faith. But he worked calmly on, never fearing, never despairing, full of hope in the God of hope,—and now -how changed the scene, and the prospect;—and how can any of us fear for our faith, when we look on those times, and on these. While you bear with you his hopeful intrepidity, you will not forget to take with you also his charity. Though you consider your own as the purest and best form, you will not hold it to be the only form of Christianity—but you will consider every preacher of righteousness, every one who is striving to turn sinners from the error of their ways, as your fellow worker, your Christian brother, and not your enemy."
But it was not as a Controversialist that he was chiefly known. He hardly ever preached a word, and never published a line of doctrinal matter. It was the practice of Christianity in which he excelled, not its theory. His motto seemed to be—“Knowest thou this, ( vain man, that faith without works is dead? When his faith was considered a deadly heresy, he opened his mouth boldly, and declared it, and defended it—but when it became popular in his neighborhood, he left it to others to defend it by argument—to Channing, Ware, Norton, Worcester, and Whitman he left the cause, and busied himself in erecting a better argument than their sharp logic, profound reason, or extensive learning could rear -namely, a life full of the fruits of the spirit.
But when I undertake to describe that life, I pause with doubt-I know not where to begin. The very remarkable point in his character—that which gave him his extraordinary influence over society and individuals, was not the prominence of any one trait, but the equal and harmonious development of all. It was the singular balance of faculties, the exact proportion of character-the entire harmony which pervaded his
being, the completeness, the perfectness, the unity of his life. It was the absence of all disturbing tendencies, and jarring powers—the sweet and placid peace which passed all understanding-here was the charm and fascination which worked on all who came near him. All felt themselves better and happier, they knew not why, in his presence. Their hearts burned within them as they talked with him by the way, like those disciples who walked with their risen Master to Emmaus.
The leading trait, however, of his character, was probably that which Paul considered a more excellent
any gifts of miracles, or healings, and greater than the mighty powers of faith and of hope—namely, Love. He loved all men with the expansive love of Christianity-not in name, and word only, but in deed and in truth. He remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said it was better to give than receive—and he acted accordingly. He was a doer of that word, and not a forgetful hearer, if ever man was so. He entered with a ready interest into the affairs of all—and made them his own. None were too great or small, too rich or poor, too young or old, wise or innocent, talented or imbecile, virtuous or depraved, pious or irreligious, for the expansive grasp of his active sympathy. Not that he loved al alike, though the servant and minister of all. He had his preferences--and for some individuals, particularly among the young and ignorant-the bright child, the blossoming girl full of purity--the manly lad, the soul of honor—these, he seemed almost to reverence-he seemed to look on them as Jesus did when he said, “Take heed how ye despise one of these little ones, for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father.” The death of some of these, cut off in the midst of their promise, affected him so deeply, that he never mentioned them without tears. Over one, in particular, a classmate of my own, who died by an accident when in his second collegiate year, he mourned as he would over a national loss, or the death of an only son. He always considered it a peculiar duty to encourage and help the young -he constantly rebuked the carelessness and disdain which would mortify them. There is many a man, distinguished in society, who was first taken by the hand and brought forward by him. But his whole life was a display of disinterested love acts of goodness which looked for no return beyond the pleasure of the act—the pleasure arising from the sight of happiness. What are called sacrifices, he was ever making; sacrifices of his time, his purposes, his private aims and wishes
and this was by no means mere good nature; it flowed from a deeper principle than a yielding disposition. He never would yield to a mere wish—he would frequently oppose the wishes of others with an adamantine firmness, while he was laboring to do them real good, and give them what he knew they wanted. That his benevolence was no result of a sympathising disposition is evident, from its not being accompanied with the faults of such a disposition. Such a benevolence is apt to be accompanied with a want of faithfulness and integrity—it is apt to promise more than it can perform—and yield to the solicitation of those who are present, to the injury of others who are not present to enforce their claims. Such was by no means the character of Dr. Freeman. He was inflexibly tenacious of his word, and scrupulously exact in the performance of every engagement. He was accustomed to say, that genuine honesty was a rare virtue—and a truly honest man always had his respect.
I might make out a list of striking and extraordinary acts of disinterestedness in my departed friend and father; but it has been well observed by a kindred spirit, that the largest portion of a good man's life is made up of the
“Little, nameless, UNREMEMBERED acts
And Jesus has made the giving of a cup of cold water the test of discipleship. In such acts as these, his love displayed itself; acts of love which soften the rugged walks of lifeallay the harshness of intercourse—which, like the drop of oil on the surface of the lake, smooth every wrinkle which the gusts of temper may have caused.
The best proof and evidence of his devotion to others is to be found in the wonderful affection which was manifested toward him by all who knew him. His old friends, the companions of his youth and manhood, were fastened to him by bands, stronger than brass or iron. They remembered how he had for long years, entered into their sorrows and joysunderstood their secret sufferings, and that bitterness which they hid from the eye of all the world but him. They had felt too, how blessed they were in such a spiritual father, under whose mild guidance they had learned to love religion, and obey Christ—who had planted in their hearts, and in those of their children, seeds of piety and holiness which will bear fruit in life eternal.
His society showed themselves a truly attached and devoted flock, such as is rarely to be found in these days of ecclesiastical dispute and difficulty, when the