網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

of dead lions. The present aroused him. I have often tried to stir up the eloquence of by-gone days by repeating to him some recital of oppression in the South, but without success. He would listen attentively while I was speaking, and then would exclaim, “Horrible! Horrible !" and with the next breath would inquire : “Do you happen to have in your library Dean Burgon's article on the Revision of the Bible, or any of Herbert Spencer's works?" Here is where he was to be found. The new phases of religious thought appealed to his mind and provoked intense opposition. He could not tolerate them. With busy pen he was engaged day and night in efforts to meet the arguments which he regarded as dangerous, and to establish the doctrines whose divine origin was the faith of his entire life. Thus, in addition to many articles for the press, he published three large volumes upon these themes, viz.: “ Faith, Doubt, and Evidence,” “God's Timepiece for Man's Eternity," and " The Voyage to the Celestial Country.” It is understood that he left numerous manuscripts, which contain his best thoughts on the great subjects of present interest.

Since the death of Mrs. Cheever—now four years ago–his literary activity has been confined to the preparation of a memorial which might serve at once as the story of her life and his own. The work was completed and in the printer's hand,s when his failing strength admonished him that he must lay aside his pen. It will soon be published, and will doubtless be read with interest by many friends and admirers.

Dr. Cheever preached frequently. His sermons were delivered with his accustomed energy, and never failed to interest and edify his hearers. They were his old Gospel sermons, which have seldom been equalled, never surpassed, in the American pulpit. His analyses of sin and his presentations of the glories of redemption had about them the terrific power of Isaiah with the gentle loveliness of John. As pastor emeritus of the Church of the Puritans in New York, he met the duties by a special lectureship on the evidences of Christianity for two or three years, but his unwillingness to be away from home inclined him soon to give up all public duties in the city, and to confine himself to work at his desk and in the neighboring pulpits.

The fruitfulness of his old age was appreciated by every one who shared Dr. Cheever's hospitality. At his own table he was always genial, entertaining, and instructive. It was his pleasure to bring together men and women of keen intelligence and large sympathies; and then, in apparent unconsciousness, he would become the centre of the little group, pouring out his earnest thoughts in strong, terse sentences, and often forgetful of the physical necessities of his guests in the enthusiasm which would possess him. Arresting the service of an entertainment, dropping the knife and fork with which he was carving at the table, he would lose himself completely in discourse, until some pleasant reminder of his wife would recall him to things material and the proper demands of the hour. No one who has been welcomed by him

will fail to remember this unusual but most cordial hospitality. His table-talk, if it had been recorded, would rank with Luther's or Coleridge's.

Meanwhile his character, through these years, was mellowing. He loved everybody here, and everybody loved him. Strangers who had heard of the bitterness which he had once aroused could hardly believe that this gentle old man was a volcano over which grass and flowers had begun to grow. Yet they had only to provoke or arouse him a little to hear the roaring of internal fires and to see the flashes which evidenced the presence of volcanic heat.

Only a week or two before he died we went to his room to attend to some necessary business. After the business had been satisfactorily adjusted he was extremely weak; his head was thrown back upon the pillow and his eyes were closed. It was suggested that prayer should be offered. To this he gave earnest assent. Before engaging in prayer, his pastor repeated the beautiful verses in St. Peter's first epistle, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc. (1 Peter, i. 3). Dr. Cheever listened eagerly and with an evident desire to speak. As soon as the pastor ceased speaking his eyes flashed, and he exclaimed : “ How precious ! how precious! And those words of St. Paul, God was manifest in the flesh,'” etc. (1 Tim., iii. 16). “Doctor,” said his pastor, “you believe that the true reading there is Beos rather than ős, do you not ?" The eyes of the old scholar opened quickly, and they flashed with indignation as his voice sounded out in thundertones, “ Of course I do!”

The Rev. Dr. Wise, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who has resided in Englewood for the entire time of Dr. Cheever's residence, has remarked that he was an unusual combination of the Puritan for strength, the woman for gentleness, and the child for simplicity. This combination gave rare interest to his advancing years, and in his home it was always apparent.

During their entire married life he presented a poem to his wife npon each anniversary of their wedding day. His poetry was devout and Christian, expressive of intense reverence for the Creator as seen in the wonders of nature, which he was always keen to admire. Tennyson's remark, “What an imagination God must have!" might have come from his lips during his many walks over the Palisades.

His book of Alpine travel, “ The Wanderings of a Pilgrim,” has rare gems, which should have a permanent place in our literature. The same is true of his “ Lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress," and his “Voices of Nature," and his “Wanderings by the River of the Water of Life.” He was often mystical, without being mystic. He had the touch of an artist, although his fame is that of a reformer.

The growth of this fruitfulness brings one into contact with busy years. Dr. Cheever was a young man, unknown and unappreciated, when he wrote the famous article, “Inquire at Amos Giles's Distillery.” This was one of the boldest

acts of his life. The distilling interest was strongly intrenched in New England, and it required a hero's pluck and resolution to lead a young man to take his stand in opposition thus to public sentiment in church and state. But the yonng man never hesitated. The article was written and published, and its author was assaulted on the streets and cast into jail, only to find that he had made himself famous. His persecution gave the case publicity. The temperance reform appealed to the public conscience; and now there are few men in Church or State who are ready to press the advantages of unlimited, distilling or to withhold assent to the proposition that the drinking customs of society are largely responsible for crime, pauperism, and degradation. He lived to see the success of his efforts and to rejoice in the steady onward progress of temperance views.

With this reform inaugurated, he turned his attention to questions of liberty-the freedom of speech, the freedom of the Bible, and the freedom of the slave. New York, and other cities of the Union, heard his voice for years in advocacy of freedom. He was denounced and threatened and persecuted, but he held on his way.

The church on Union Square became famous. He was a recognized champion. No sooner had emancipation been declared than he insisted upon suffrage for the freedman and then for civil rights. Not until the protective laws were on the statutebooks did he arrest his earnest, vehement appeals. Then he felt that his life-work was accomplished, and he came to Englewood to rest.

« 上一頁繼續 »