« AnteriorContinuar »
GRANDPA AT REST.
We w onder how many of the little readers of Sunshine have a dear old, white-haired grandpa? Some of them, we know, have not, and we feel sorry for them. Those who have, and love him dearly, will feel and know how much some little children here in Philadelphia have lost when we tell them that their dear grandpa has left them, and gone to live in heaven. He it was who used to send this little paper, Sunshine, to the boys and girls every Sunday.
Now his busy brain, heart and hand are at rest. Only a month ago—one bright, sunny morning in May—he kissed his little pets good-bye, and said: "Be good children till grandpa comes back." But he will not come back to these merry little hearts, who are yet too young to know and feel their loss. He was taken sick far, far away from his home and loved ones, and there, surrounded by kind and dear friends, he closed his eyes to all on earth, and opened them to see the glories of heaven, and the loved ones who had gone before.
His body w as taken to Chambersburg, and laid beside his only daughter—she who first started Sunshine on its mission of love to the little ones. There they both sleep in the old churchyard, side by side, and we, taking up their work, will continue it, hoping and trusting, with the help of Him who is above, to still send Sunshine into all the homes and hearts of the little ones they loved so well.
Dare to change your mind, confess your error, and alter your conduct, when you are convinced you are wrong; it is manly, it is Scriptural.
Dr. Samuel R. Fisher.
BY THE EDITOR.
I have just returned from the grave of this venerable servant of the Reformed Church. . Some fifteen ministers and quite a number of his friends and associates gathered around his bier in the Zion's Reformed Church of Charobersburg, Pa. During twenty-five of his most active years he worshipped in this church; in its pulpit he often preached, and at its communion altar he often communed. It was fitting that before burial, his remains should once more be borne hither. To-day his strong, bass voice, which I had often heard so prominently here amid the worshipping congregation, is silent. Yonder pew, where he and his family sat for many years, and where for several years I sat by his side every Sunday, to my eye looks sad in dreary vacancy. Of the four of his family who used to sit in that pew, three are now at rest. For several years I was his pastor here and learned what a charitable, patient rearer he was. Four of his ministerial friends Bpoke words of tenderness and loving appreciation. We prayed and sang with softened hearts. He lay calmly in his neat, narrow house, his face bore the impress of peace, and his long, white beard lay gracefully over a heart now cold and pulseless in death.
He was borne to his rest amid a heavy shower of rain. For several hours the windows of heaven seemed to have been fluag wide open; and as we pronounced the last solemn r,ite of burial over his lowered remains, the rain literally poured down upon the assembly and into his open grave. There beneath graceful evergreen trees he was laid to rest among his dear ones who had gone before. All save his surviving
son, Rev. C. G. Fisher, are now grouped together iu this beautiful God's acre. The son and three venerable brothers, old, gray-beaded men, were the nearest kin at his grave.
The most of our readers have before this read sketches of his busy life, and the particulars of his death. Just now, with the impressions of his funeral still fresh in my miud, so many characteristics and incidents of his life crowd upon my memory, that I must needs tell some of them to the readers of the Guardian.
Dr. Fisher was born at .Norristown, Pa. His parents were pious American Germans, descendants of refugees from the Palatinate, in Germany. He was piously trained, and confirmed as a member of the Reformed Church, as were his six brothers. From a little boy he had a vivid impression that God wanted him to enter the ministry. An' uncle, Rev. George Wack, instructed him privately for a season. A charge in the neighborhood happened to be vacant, and pressed him to become its pastor. After some deliberation it occurred to hirn that his limited education disqualified him for the sacred office. His mind was seized with an irrepressible desire to take a full College and Seminary course. Bjth his father and his teacher opposed his purpose in this direction. The former had been unfortunate in his worldly interes's and could not give him the needed support. Besides, at that time in 1829, there were very few College-bred ministers in the Reformed Church. The prevailing sentiment did not yet see the importance of a thoroughly educated minLtry. The founding of a College was then only under consideration. The father at last partially consented, the teacher withheld his consent for a while longer. Meanwhile his characteristic determination and energy came into play. He felt that
it ought to be done, and so he began his t fforts to get a start. He had no money; not even as much as to begin with. He and his youngest brother John, each bought a wood-horse and a saw. They went from house to house in Norri3town, and sawed all the cord wood they could get. Ou the street, in wood-sheds, and in cellars the two brothers battled in manly humility for the good cause. Thus for a considerable time the younger brother helped him to earn money to begin his College studies. Then, with a meagre wardrobe he started afoot, and walked three hundred miles to Jefferson College, in Cannonsburg, Pa. There at the age of twenty years he began his collegiate course. Meanwhile he improved fragments of leieure, as agent of fhe American Bible Society, and sometimes he earned means by farming small plots of ground near the village. In various ways he succeeded in procuring means of support by hia own industry. For years he walked sixteen miles every Sunday during the College term, to superintend two Sunday-schools in the country. It is said that despite his extra exertions to provide an honest living he stood well in his class; he was noted for his accuracy in Greek and Latin, and especially excelled in mathematics.
Dr. Fisher spent only some three or four years in the active pastorate, as pastor of the Emmiteburg Charge, Md. During more than forty years he was connected with the publication interests of the Reformed Church. During the whole of this period he served as stated clerk of the mother Synod of the Church, in which office he acquired a more accurate knowledge of the proceedings and current history of our Church Fathers than any other person in the denomination. As was said by one of the speakers at his funeral: "He received and answered more letters, was more frequently consulted on points of constitutional law and synodical proceedings by ministers and members, young and old, he personally knew more of our ministers and members, than any ten men n our Church." Inexperienced young pastors would almost always ask him for counsel in their doubts about congregational government, and hundreds can testify with what kindness and patience he would answer every
letter of this kind, no matter how overcrowded he was with work. By common consent he was called "the expounder of the constitution," and the great work of his last years was as chairman of a commiitee of the General Synod on the revision of the Constitution of the Reformed Church. It was this work chiefly that took him on his last journey to attend the meeting of the General Synod in Tiffin, Ohio, where he died on June 5. Even on his death bed his mind continued to grapple with this undertaking. He seemed to look forward to the Synod with pleasing hope, where he reported what he had done. His serious illness obliged him to have this report read by another member of the committee.
He had the faculty of calmly working out a vast multitude of worrying little details, without discomfort or embarrassment. As the business manager of the Publication affairs he performed an immense amount of mere clerical work and business correspondence, giving detailed statements of private accounts, which few men could have endured. And along with purely business drudgery he wrote his weekly portion for the Messenger, and served many years on different Boards of the Church, and as Treasurer of the Publication Board. He rarely ceased from work before midnight. His long habit of working late and early, trained his system to shift with comparatively little sleep. But when in bed he was a sound sleeper. Often he would work in his office in the second story of the backbuilding of the Mansion house at Chambersburg, until his family, at midnight, became alarmed about his safety.
My memory calls him up in a few characteristic postures. At his study table I always think of him holding the end of his pen handle between his teeth, his glasses perched downward toward the tip of his nose, leafing leisurely over a large ledger which lies half buried among a confused mass of papers large and small. Like most hard-working men he greatly enjoyed recreation when he would enter and throw his whole soul into the affair.
During my association with him at Chaiuberaburg, we were in the habit of taking rides a horseback together of an afternoon, for recreation. Dr. Fisher had a bay horse of which he was justly a little proud. As was his habit, with man or beast, once he took one into his confidence, he stuck to him at all hazards and treated his faults charitably. He could not brook the slightest insinuation that "Bill" had any defects. Now I knew better, although I scarcely ventured to hint ray views on this subject. Riding down a steep hill one day, Bill's fore legs, which were somewhat sprung, suddenly gave way, down went the horse, pitching his rider head foremost over his head, with a violence that filled me with terror. How relieved I felt when he arose, picked up his hat, wiped off the earth from his clothing, and muttered something about the horse having tramped on a loose stone. He mounted again and after silently riding along at a walk I at length feebly suggested that " Bill's" knee-sprung joints had given way. With characteristic emphasis, his thoughts outrunning his capacity of articulation peculiar to him when under excitement, he denied the charge and did his utmost to clear the faithful horse from all blame or def ct.
These rides familiarized me with all the shaded lanes and byways around C'hambereburg. He always had a seat for me in his carriage, along with his family. After our return I would have a welcome place at his hospitable board. Those cosy groups are green spots in my Chambersburg experience. How Judge F. Kimmel, Dr. James Kennedy and family, Dr. B. 8. Schneck and wife, and other?, are still set with unfaded freshness in the picture of those little social gatherings I fondly remember. When around his own fireside the hardworking brother forgot his burdens and mingled with innocent glee in the chat and cheer of social intercourse.
These horseback rides sometimes led us beyond the bounds of moderation, at least so far as speed was concerned. Four of us constituted ourselves informally into a sort of a riding club. Dr. Fisher, G. R. Messersmith, cashier of the Chambersburg Bank, myself and sometimes Dr. Schneck would be with us, each had his own horse. The cashier was a capital rider, and had the best horse; still each of us thought we were
equal to him in the former respect. JHis was a natural pacer, and quite fleetfooted at that. For miles our horses
| walked nimbly along, whilst their riders discussed matters gay and grave. Coming to a level piece of road we would spur them on a little; whilst the banker's bay would amble faster and faster in a sort of bantering way, ours would lope. Who could resist such a challenge. It was not long until the three horses were put to their utmost speed, each of the riders with hand and voice urging his animal onward, whilst the women and children of many houses
| along the road rushed to their front doors, eome who knew us expressing their astonishment at so unusual a sight. What a thorough shaking up of every joint, muscle and fibre of the body those harmless rival feats in horsemanship used to give us. Few remedies are so recuperating after six or eight hours hard mental work, as one or two hours' ride on a trotting or even galloping horse. Alas! time of the four riders now lie buried under the cypress shades of Chambersburg cemeterits. The last letter I received from the cashier contained a very pressing invitation to pay him a visit; and remembering my weakness, he said that his horse, " one of ti e best and handsomest animals in the county, full of action and life," should be at my disposal.
When General Lee, at the invasion of Pennsylvania, took possession of Chambersburg, Dr. Fisher, as the head of the printing establishment, was asked to do their printing for his army. Should he do job work for the enemy of the Union? It caused his peculiarly unyielding integrity a severe struggle. But what could he do? The order was: "Either you will do this work for us, or we will seize your establishment and do it ourselves. The latter may cause you much more loss than the former." He had quite a valuable stock of paper on hand, which he feared might be confiscated; besides to let inexperienced and irresponsible soldiers run the press would seriously damage it. He did the unwelcome work, and saved the property from further losses.
At the burning of Chambersburg his almost superhuman exertions saved his home in a part of the town where only