As my

preacbing on the occasion was not present. I was pressed to fill his place with an extemporaneous address. I had just been reading some treatises respecting the intimate and affectionate relation of the man Christ Jesus to the Father ; the tender love the Father must have felt for him as personally united to his eternal Son, and the great sacrifice he consequently must have made in surrendering him to the shameful and agonizing death of the cross. mind was full of the theme, I concluded to make it the subject of my remarks. Up to this time I had known little of Dr. Woodbridge except as a fellow-townsman much older than myself, and whom from boyhood I had occasionally seen in the pulpit. He was now upwards of sixty, and his hair silvery white. When I had announced the subject and begun to unfold it, I observed the serious face of the venerable man upturned with fixed attention. Soon I saw him put his handkerchief to his eyes and hastily wipe his cheeks, down which the tears were streaming. IIe instantly fixed his eyes again upon the speaker. In a minute or two up went the handkerchief. He again fastened his eyes, and again with a quick motion the handkerchief was brought into requisition ; and thus the process went on till the address was closed, when the deep seriousness and flush of bis cheeks told how deeply his feelings had been moved. The writer has no distinct recollection that other eyes in the assembly were equally moistened. The effect he always supposed attributable alone to the theme the divine tenderness and glory displayed in the atonement, combined with the dignity of the divine Sufferer, whose memorial supper we were about to celebrate.

The writer frequently preached before him afterwards, and seldom without seeing the venerable man in tears ; especially if the theme discussed related to the goodness and majesty of God as the sovereign Lord of creation, or the atoning sacrifice and glory of Christ. Even in the retirement of his study, when in serious conversation on the high

themes of the divine government and the redemptive work, he has seen his eyes swim with tears and his lips tremble with emotion.

His daughter says: “On Thanksgiving mornings papa often read the last of David's psalms with much emotion, and often with a gush of tears.”'

It may here be remarked that, as expressive of his worshipful feelings towards Christ, he used to say that if any earthly tune were sung in heaven, it would be “Coronation."

In the far advance of his years one of his friends* observed that his cane was a little too short for him. He determined to present him with a new one. When he had procured it, the thought occurred to him that it would be appropriate to engrave upon it some passage of Scripture which the Doctor might select. Meeting him one day, he said to him, “ Dr. Woodbridge, what is your favorite passage of Scripture? I mean that which you value more than any other." Thinking a moment, he replied in his decisive way, The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." It was engraven on the head of the cane and given to him. A fine passage surely for any one to lean upon. This little incident reveals the ruling thought of Dr. Woodbridge, flashing forth on that occasion, and flashing a flood of light into the depths of his hidden life. This continued to be the governing principle of his intellect and his heart, increasing and becoming more tender as he approached the time of his translation. Not long before he passed away, his daughter one day met him in the hall coming from his own apartment with an open Bible in his hand, “and tears of joy in his eyes.” As he saw her he exclaimed, “I have just been reading this passage, ‘As I live, saith the Lord, the earth shall be full of my glory.'” The thought seemed so glorious, he must communicate his joy.

This is the highest form of Christian experience, and when fully realized, the most ravishing.

* E. W. Blatchford, Esq.



“ Its holy flame forever burneth,
From heaven it came, to heaven returneth ;

Too oft on earth a troubled guest."

A profounder poet has represented its possessor as singing,

“ His will is a spirit within my spirit,

A portion of the being I inherit.
His will is mine obedience. I resemble
A flame all undefiled though it tremble.

God! God!
O spirit of my spirit! who movest
Through seraph veins in burning Deity
To light the quenchless pulses!” Thou pourest
“ The depths of love in thy peculiar being"
Into mine.

The influence of such a type of piety, a type whose first and strongest germ is the experience of the central thought of the moral universe ; constantly breathed forth in public prayers, in sermons, in conference-meetings, and by the fireside, must be profound and pervasive. Being the root of all the graces, it gives character to all; imparts tone, depth, and energy to every sense of obligation. While it directs, it intensifies Christian zeal. A fountain in the soul, it hourly breaks out in new currents of Christian activity answering to occasions. It yields the most precious fruit unto God in self-renouncing lives. It evokes the spirit of harmony and good-will ; diffusing a placid sunshine, not only through the soul of the possessor, but through the community. It starts the inquiry, not,“ Does this remark or act of the pastor or of the brethren please me?" but, “ Does it glorify God?" thereby contributing both to the permanency of the pastoral relation and to its spiritual efficiency. It so completely fills and subsidizes the several faculties and susceptibilities of the soul, that it neither leaves room for motives of selfishness to operate, nor opportunity to diffuse its cramping and belittling influence; weakening, if not paralyzing, the power of both the pulpit and the church. Such a self-renouncing and God-glorifying spirit, subtle and diffusive, lying in the depths of many minds and hearts, perhaps half unconscious

ly, yet mighty in its secret workings ; moving unnumbered trains of thought and suggesting unnumbered Christian activities ; suffusing and modifying all with the spirit of its source,

the throne and the cross, must send forth a subduing influence which no finite intelligence can estimate. Omniscience alone can observe its myriad currents ; Omniscience alone fairly count up its final results.





Having heard so much for years of manner in the pulpit, it may be refreshing to pause a moment, and reflect on the importance of scriptural thought, affectionately and pungently enforced, as an element of pulpit power.

The spirit and subject-matter of Dr. Woodbridge's preaching were in strictest harmony with his doctrinal belief and profoundest Christian experience. What the IIoly Spirit had written both on his intellect and heart his lips uttered. Looking up to the throne he never said, “ I cannot speak to a sinful world what Thou art speaking to me.” On the contrary, his love and reverence for Him who sitteth thereon, made the publication of it one of his purest pleasures.

The whole structure of Dr. Woodbridge's mind led him to inquire, “What is truth?” with persistent earnestness. Neither the demands of his reason, nor the cravings of his emotional nature, were met, till in the light of his best judgment he thought himself standing on the Rock. Ile could say with De Quincey, “ The finest sound on this earth, and which rises like an orchestra above all the uproars of earth and the babels of earthly languages, is truth - absolute truth ; and the hatefullest is conscious falsehood." His lore of sacred truth was still more intense and of a finer tone, it being suffused with his reverential love of God and



holiness. If natural truth was beautiful to him as the diamond, sacred truth shone upon him as the same diamond sparkling in the noonday sun. It brought the radiance of joy to bis heart; a joy that kindled a still higher joy in heralding it forth. The very pursuit of what is morally loved increases both the ardor of pursuit and the sense of obligation to continue it. The longer and deeper we delve in the mines of the Inspired Word, the stronger becomes our sense of responsibility to work them. This was eminently true of Dr. Woodbridge. His love of these soulinspiring communications which came direct from heaven, and the obligation imposed upon him to meditate upon them till they burned on his heart, constraining him to proclaim them, were prolonged, even intensified, through the succes: sive years of his ministry. These God bade him understand. These God bade him defend ; and to do it became the strongest desire of his heart. Everything incompatible with this must give way. His daughter says: “Whatever his motives for entering the ministry, to fulfil the duties of it became the master-passion of his soul. He could truly say, * The word of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver ;' and also those other words of David, • How amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord God of hosts.' • Thine altars, Lord God of hosts, my King and my God.'

. One great object, the proclamation of the truth in its simplicity, ruled my father's life. For this he labored and prayed, and made sacrifices; and no life of him could represent him fairly where this did not constantly appear.” A memorable remark he once made to a friend reveals the high estimation in which he held the gospel ministry. It was just after he had preached his “ Two Discourses on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of his Ordination.” They were conversing in his study respecting that event and the close of his long ministry. With the common feeling that the part of life we have travelled over appears short and often indistinct, his friend said, “Well, Doctor, now this long ininistry, with its labors and pleasures, is past, I suppose it seems to

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »