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Here God gave him this happy old age, during which he must often have looked with gratitude upon the fair land whose flag floats over the freemen free to go and come, free to read and reflect, free to speak and act-and from this land to others the influence of freedom has gone, so that oppressions are ceasing and men are beginning to realize their manhood, as children of our Father God. His has been a supreme service. With men likeminded ; grandly equipped ; he has led the way, and we have followed. His advance has become our inheritance. We stand, with one consent, where he and others stood in solitude and agony of spirit. God be praised for giving us such men for such a crisis! God be praised that this brave prophet was permitted to see the desire of his heart in the prevalence of liberty!
The planting of this growth and fruitfulness was in New England, where he was born at Hallowell, Me., April 17, 1807. His father was a publisher of books, and his grandfather was a soldier-patriot, whose blood was the first that was shed in the War of the Revolution. Early consecrated, the boy soon consecrated himself to Christ. His life was sanctified. God's grace refined it. What it would have been if he had not become a Christian, no one can say. But this may be said, that without grace it would have lost its quality of richness and beauty, whose fruitfulness has made old age attractive. God's grace must explain His servant's graces.
Young Cheever was at Bowdoin College in the famous class of 1825 with Longfellow, Abbott,
Hawthorne, Cilley, Sawtelle, Bradbury, and other distinguished men. He went from college to the seminary at Andover, and thence to preaching service in Newburyport, Boston, and Salem, where he ultimately settled. After a visit to Europe he was called to New York in 1839, and there he remained, in different positions of usefulness, for nearly forty. years.
In an important sense he was ever a man of one idea, and that one idea was the burning application of God's truth to human conditions. His intellectual powers were at their best when he was able to focus them upon a great wrong. The denunciations which then poured from his lips were terrific, lashing the consciences of men like a scourge of of loaded thongs. Evil-doers hated him. Horace Greeley said, on introducing him upon one occasion, that “ he was the man who made sinners miserable."
The Bible was God's message to him. He accepted its verbal inspiration. A “thus saith the Lord” was an end of all controversy. He was a diligent Biblical student, exhibiting an acquaintance with the letter and the spirit, especially of the Old Testament, which appeared even in his familiar conversation. When he visited President Lincoln, at the head of a committee, his manner drew from the President the remark : “ We seem, to-day, to have a delegation from Jehovah.” But this intensity of belief was the strength of his conviction, and with the Bible in his hand he was irresistible.
Longfellow once said : “Cheever can write better poetry than I can.” However that may be, his
poetry is more than rhyme. He had the poet's sympathy, and a most interesting collection of poems and hymns might be formed from his fugitive pieces which are scattered about his desk.
But he has passed away, and his works do follow him. What an entrance into heaven must his have been ! Men jeered him and threatened him here below. He was reproached and assailed. Oftentimes his devoted wife and God, his Lord and Master, seemed to be his only friends. But now the end has come—the hero is ready for his crown-the celestial gate is reached. The angels bid him welcome, and God, even his own God, whose he is and whom he has served, is saying : “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And so he realizes that the light afflictions, which are but for a moment, have worked for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
NOTE. The will of Rev. Dr. Cheever was proved and filed in the surrogate's office of Bergen County, Hackensack, N. J., October 15, 1890. It bequeaths the sum of $40,100 as follows: $14,000 to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; $3000 to the American Home Missionary Society; $2000 to the American Missionary Association: $2000 to the American Seamen's Friend Society; $1000 to the Children's Aid Society for Friendless Boys; legacies to his brother, sister, and four nieces to the amount of $12,500; $2600 to personal friends and servants; for the expense of reprinting certain works of the author, $3000. The homestead real estate is given to the minor son of a nephew of the testator's deceased wife, under the condition that if he die before reaching the age of twenty-five years, the estate is to go with all its accumulations to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The residuary legatees are the only brother and sister of the testator. Executrix of the estate, Mrs. Elizabeth Cheever Washburn; her attorney, Rev. Henry T. Cheever,
INVOCATION AND PRELUDE.
O Giver of all grace, through Christ, Thy Son,
By His dear Presence, make His Life our own ;Without such bliss left homeless and forlorn,
As if Heaven's melodies were all withdrawn! FORLORN! The word is like a tragic bell,
Muffled and tolled as for the Funeral knell, What time the dying, slow vibrations tell
Of an angelic being, loved too well:
Of that Immortal Essence in the earth,
Lord, let the memory of so dear a spirit,
Snatch'd from our sight, Thy glory to inherit, Draw us away from every love but Thine,
That, though still mourning, we may not repine ; But each may say, To Thee I all resign,
And make the songs of guardian angels mine. They ring us out, they ring us in,
Where years of endless life begin, With peals of melody around,
To bear us on their waves of sound Up to the gates where anthems rise
That waft us into Paradise.
Those requiem bells, those sacred flowers,
Memorials of such blissful hours
Of endless life beyond the tomb-
Where never sin or death can come, Where God is our ETERNAL HOME.