« ElőzőTovább »
unveil. There it is before me, in the fading light of that summer afternoon, the broad, green plain sparkling with raindrops, and my father and mother passing onward toward the beautiful arch. Is it a picture, or a reality? Is it not a type, at least, of that golden portal through which, after the storms of life, they have passed so safely, to the home of the happy and pure in heart?”
In training with Christian fidelity his numerous family, Dr. Woodbridge was opening rich sources of intellectual and religious enjoyment for himself in advancing years ; creating a genial Christian society to relieve the gathering sorrows of decrepitude, when the pleasures of home become almost one of the necessities of life. Professor Tyler remarks : " His afternoons and evenings he gave to his family and friends, and my most delightful associations with him are in the midst of his hospitable and happy family, with his excellent wife and accomplished daughters around him, at the tea-table and the fireside, in an old-fashioned evening visit. He was interested in all that concerned his family, his friends, the community, the country, the church, and the world. But even at home in a social visit, it might be said, literally and with emphasis, that his conversation was in heaven. The word of God, the doctrines of the gospel, the experience of the Christian, the joys and glories of heaven — these were his favorite themes. For example, he once remarked of the Psalms of David, that however deep the lamentation and wail with which they may begin, they are sure to end with a song of triumph and exultation. It was a remark which interested me at the time as characteristic of the piety of the Doctor's old age, and my wife has always remembered it, and often spoken of it since in connection with her reading of the Psalms. I have never been in any circle, in which the conversation so fully answered to Cowper's ideal and description of that between Christ and his disciples on the way to Emmaus.''
This filial love was especially tender and assiduous after the wife and mother had gone to her rest, and the father was
HIS PERSONAL APPEARANCE.
left to travel the weariest part of his journey without her supporting band and cheering smile. At that lonely period, while varying in light and shade according to character, yet blending like the soft and delicate tints of the rainbow, it shone forth with peculiar loveliness, strengthening his trembling footsteps; son and daughters alike vied with each other in offices of regard and kindness to soothe the last ebbings of a life so precious to them all.
In personal appearance Dr. Woodbridge, in the maturity of life, was rather striking, and fitted to draw the attention even of strangers. He was about the medium height; his frame was firmly knit, round and full, though never corpulent. His form was erect; some used pleasantly to say, symbolizing the perpendicularity of his character. His head was large, his intellectual powers finely developing themselves in his massive forehead ; his comparison preponderating over his causality ; bis ideality and benevolence were noticeably prominent. His eyes were light-blue, large and keen, varying with his changing thoughts and emotions ; and when animated in conversation, or kindled with the excitement of public address, shone as if enwrapping hidden fire. His countenance, when not clouded with thought or sombre with care, was full of vivacity, open as the day ; no one looking into it would ever suspect that treachery or intrigue could lurk there ; while its lines of thought indicated the scholar, it was alive with energy, and the occasionally compressed lips bespoke a firmness and decision which could not be easily subdued or resisted. When not walking slowly in a muse, his step was strong and quick, and his general movement indicative of a live man. A stranger would say of him, “ That man has a purpose, and what he undertakes will be accomplished." His hair early turned gray, which gave him an appearance of venerableness when but little past the meridian. His dress showed neatness and propriety, and yet not seldom carelessness;
suggesting the suspicion that while he had arrayed himself with care in the morning, he thought not of his attire again till he put it off at night. In manners he was dignified and gentlemanly, though sometimes wanting in suavity. He occasionally threw off flashes of pleasant wit which laughed in his eye; but more frequently sparks of sarcasm which knit his brow. Those who formed their first acquaintance with him when in the latter mood, would be likely to deem him severe, harsh, capable of sawing a man in two without compunction. Something like this was occasionally his appearance in the pulpit, which doubtless hindered his usefulness. But when you sat alone with him in familiar conversation, all this vanished ; an intelligent benignity assumed its place, a cheerful vivacity illumined every feature ; unless some character, or characteristic, was mentioned, fitted to call forth those half-feelings of contempt, which, in a mind like his, usually stimulate sarcasm ; then, his lip curled for a moment, and his eyebrows contracted. The true dignity and amiableness of his countenance only appeared when in conversation you touched on some grand scriptural theme, such as the perfection and glory of God, of his holiness and sovereignty, of Christ, the God-man Mediator, the Holy One, especially his majesty and tender love and all-sufficient grace; then every feature would assume a subdued expression, and tears not unfrequently suffuse his cheeks. No man ever revealed in his face more legibly the ever-varying workings of his thoughts and emotions. When old, his appearance was very venerable.
" Every one seemed impressed by it. A lady at Waukegan told me that one Sunday, as he entered the pulpit of the Presbyterian church there, her little child, sitting beside her, turned to her and said, “Mamma, is that God ?'"
It may seem irreverent to repeat this; but it is mentioned to show the impression which his appearance made.
“Mr. Healy, who painted his portrait when he was about
eighty years of age, seemed struck with admiration at his venerable and saintly head.
This portrait was hung, for a time, in the Crosby Gallery at Chicago, and has been much admired.
One who saw a copy of it said, “ He looks like the inhabitant of another world."
CHAPTER X VII.
THE CLOSING PERIOD; HIS LAST SICKNESS, DEATH,
The tenacious principle of life began at last to yield. About four years previous to his death he was smitten with paralysis, which much enfeebled him. His daughter says: “I entered his chamber soon after the attack, and found him lying upon his bed, apparently unconscious of all that was passing. Drawing near him, I heard him murmur, ' Father, glorify thy name ; Father, build up thy kingdom.' Then, lifting both hands feebly, 'Hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling-place. A few minutes after, he said, 'When all thy mercies, O my God.' There he paused, and soon fell into a long sleep, from which we thought he would never awake."
His step now became tottering, his flesh wasted, his cheek grew pale. He, however, became comfortable ; but the strong man was bowed. He had the appearance of extreme old age. But the inner life decayed not. This was kindled at the fountain of all life, and had a vigor which no wastings of the body could weaken. It had long been growing, and with more rapidity the longer it grew. The few past years had seen a perceptible advance. It now shone out with the softened splendors of the setting day. “ The last years of his life,” says one of his family, passed almost wholly in the retirement of his chamber in reading the Scriptures and in prayer; yet he usually went to the house of the Lord on the Sabbath, and enjoyed the public worship of God.”