Andrew Fuller Friday: In Memory of a Dear Friend

Who died in the sixty-third year of his age, on March 13th, 1791.

And is my much-respected friend no more?
How painful are the tidings to my heart!
And is that light extinguished which so long
Has burned with brightest lustre, and diffused,
Through all his loved connexions round about,
Pure rays of evangelic light and joy?
Is all that stock of true substantial worth
Become as water spilt upon the ground?—
That universal knowledge, which embraced
A compass wide and large, of men and things?—
That well-known solid wisdom, which, improved
By long experience, made his face to shine?—
That uprightness of character, by which
He lived down slander, and of foes made friends?—
That ardent and affectionate concern
For truth, for righteousness, for Zion’s good,
Which, with a social kindness, long endeared
His name, and renders him a public loss?—
That grace that ruled and seasoned all his soul,
And as with sacred unction filled his lips,
In which as life declined he ripened fast,
And shone still more and more to perfect day?—
That tender sympathy that often soothed
The sorrowing heart, and wiped the mourner’s tear,
That sweet humility, and self-abasement,
With which we heard him oft invoke his God;
Which ne’er assumed, though first in counsel skilled,
The lordly look, or proud dictator’s chair?—
That guiltless pleasantry that brightened up
Each countenance, and cheered the social hour?
(If he were there, it seemed that all were there:
If he were missing, none could fill his place.)
That store of excellence, in short, to which
(As to a ship well fraught) one might repair,
And be enriched with treasures new and old?—
Is all, as by a kind of fatal wreck,
Destroyed, and sunk at once to rise no more?
Dear friend, (for still I fain would talk to thee!)
Shall I discern thy cheering face no more?
And must thy gladdening voice no more be heard?
And, when I visit thy much-loved abode,
Shall I not find thee there as heretofore!
Nor sit, nor walk, as erst with pleasure wont,
Nor mingle souls beneath the friendly bower?
No … this is past … nor aught seems left for me,
Except to walk, and sigh upon thy stone!
Dear friend! I saw thee burdened years ago
With heavy loads of complicated grief;
And grief more complicate, though less intense,
I’m told thou didst in earlier days endure;
But tribulation patience in thee wrought,
And such a stock of rich experience this,
That few like thee could reach the mourner’s case,
Or ease the burdens of the labouring heart.
We saw thee ripen in thy later years,
As when rich-laden autumn droops her head:
That theme on which thy thoughts of late were penned,*
None knew like thee, nor could have touched so well;
It seemed thy element, the native air
Thy holy soul had long been used to breathe.
Such things we saw with sacred pleasure; ye
’Twas pleasure tinged with painful fear, lest these
(As fruit when ripe is quickly gathered in)
Should only prove portentous of thy end.
O thou great Arbiter of life and death!
Thy ways are just, and true, and wise, and good;
Though clouds and darkness compass thee around,
Justice and judgment still support thy throne.
Had it been left to us, he still had lived,
And lived for years to come, and blessed us still;
But thus ’tis not; thy thoughts are not as ours.
Had poor short-sighted mortals had their will,
The great Redeemer had not bled, or died.
Teach us to say, “Thy will, not ours, be done,”
To drink the cup thou givest us to drink.
Dear relatives and friends, his special charge!
Bereaved at once of him whose life was spent
In unremitted labours for your good,
We must not call on you to mourn, but try
To stem the tide, or wipe the o’erflowing tear.
’Tis true his course is finished, and your ears
Shall hear no more the long-accustomed sound;
But ’tis as he desired, when late we heard
Drop from his lips, what seemed his last farewell.
The prize for which he counted life not dear
Is fully gained; his course with joy he closed.
What did I say? the ship was wrecked and lost!
No, it is not; ’tis safe arrived in port,
And all the precious cargo too is safe;
His knowledge, wisdom, love, and every grace.
Are not extinct, but gloriously matured,
Beyond whate’er he grasped in this frail state.
A fit companion now for purer minds,—
For patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and for those
Whom once he knew, and loved, who went before;
For Him whose name was dear to him on earth,
And whose sweet presence now creates his heaven.
Nor is all lost to those who yet survive:
Though he is gone, his mantle’s left behind.—
Kind memory may recall his words, and deeds,
And prayers, and counsels; and conviction aid
Or cheer the heart, or guide the doubtful feet,
Or prompt to imitate his holy life.
Nor memory alone, the faithful page
Is charged with some remains, in which the man
And his communications yet are seen;
In these, though he be dead, he speaketh still
Yes, here’s Elijah’s mantle: may there too
A double portion of his spirit rest
Upon us all; and, might I be indulged
In one more special wish, that wish should be,
That he who fills his father’s sacred trust
Might share the blessings of his lather’s God,
And tread his steps; that all may see and say,
“Elijah’s spirit on Elisha rests.”

Fuller, A. G. (1988). “To the Memory of a Dear and Venerable Friend, Rev. Robert Hall” in Fugitive Pieces. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 3, pp. 815–817). Sprinkle Publications.

By |July 6th, 2023|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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