From The Connecticut Observer
MEMOIR OF REV. DR. CORNELIUS.
A few week since we gave an outline of the character of this lamented servant of Christ. The following extract is from the Sermon of Rev. Dr. Hawes at his funeral. We omit the particulars contained in the former account.
His death was sudden. In less than a week after he entered my family, the rapid progress of his disease terminated; and his spirit took its upward flight. But though the summons for departure came to him suddenly, it found him not unprepared; he was at his post, engaged upon the will of the Lord and had he foreseen the event that was approaching, he could scarcely have been more actively devoted to the service of his Savior, than he was some weeks before his death. From the commencement of his sickness, he appeared in a state of mind peculiarly serene and heavenly. His divine Master had accidently been preparing him for the hour that was at hand. No apprehension was entertained of his being in immediate danger till the day of his decease. About 12 o'clock on Saturday last, it became apparent that the disease was seating itself in his brain and preparing to attack the springs of life.- After having suffered severely from one of those terrible spasms which finally exhausted and broke down the firm frame work of his soul, he called me to his bed-side and with great deliberation and calmness, said, that he felt himself to be near his end; that for three days, the impression had been on his mind, that it was his last sickness; and he blessed God, that he could look on the change with composure and hope. I feel, said he, that I am a poor sinner; I need to be washed from head to foot in the blood of atonement, but I hope that I may be saved through Christ, who is an all sufficient and merciful Savior. Within the last year, and especially of late, Christ has been becoming more and more precious to my soul, and I feel that I can commit immortal all to him. And here, he added, I wish to leave my dying testimony that I go to the judgment relying on nothing by the blood of Jesus Christ. Without this I should have no hope. He then proceeded to give me his dying message to his beloved family and absent friends. Tell my dear wife that I praise God and hope she will praise him, that he gives me peace, and I trust, a humble penitent thankful frame of mind in this tiring hour. Tell her not to indulge immoderate grief lest she sin against God. If she could see the glorious plan as God sees it, she would bless his holy name for removing me now. He will take care of her and of the dear children. I have no doubt of it.
He then spoke of the cause of missions with great tenderness and affection and said that he had determined to write to the missionaries at the different stations, to engage them to observe the Friday preceding the monthly concert, as a day of fasting and prayer, for higher moral qualifications in themselves and a higher tone of piety in Christians throughout the world. The thing which now stand in the way of the conversion of the world is the want of primitive piety-a higher standard of religious feeling and action in the church. I have hoped, he said, that if it should please God to remove me now, it may be the means of promoting his cause more among the heathen than if my life should be preserved. It is needful that the church should feel more deeply her dependence o God, and pray to him with more fervor and faith for the advancement of his cause on earth. Send my best love, he added, to my dear brethren at the missionary rooms tell them to gird on the whole armor of God, and to go forth with confidence to their work it is good work and God will prosper it.
He then mentioned many of his near relatives and friends calling them by name, and expressing his kind wishes for their present and future happiness. Give my thanks, he said, to the good people in this place for their kindness to me for Jesus sake,-referring as I supposed, not only to the personal attentions that had been shown him, but also to the contribution that had been given him at different times, in aid of the benevolent operations of the day. Tell your own dear people from me, that they hear for eternity. Last Monday I was in the world active, but now am dying. So it may be with any of them. O if they would but realize the solemn import of the fact that they bear for eternity it would rouse them all from slumber and cause them to attend without delay to the things which belong to eternal peace. Tell Christians he added to aim at higher standard of piety ' to live more to Christ and his cause.- When one comes to die he feels that there is an immeasurable disparity between the standard of piety as it now is and as it ought to be.
The conversation, which I have now stated, as near as I can recollect, in his own words, took place at two different times during the last afternoon and evening of his life. At the close of our last interview, supposing that he had the impression that he should continue but a few hours, I said to him: the conversations my dear brother, which we have had together, have been abundantly gratifying to my heart, and it is proper that you should prepare for the change which you apprehend to be near; but there is still hope in your case; and I wish you to admit to our bosom all the hope there is, and to lie like a little child in the hands of God. Never can I forget his reply. His look, his voice, at that moment so tender and solemn, have left an impression on my mind that can never be effaced. Nay, brother, there is one thing more I wish to say: if it please God to bring me thus far, and then to say, tarry thou here awhile longer, or to take me away now, let his glorious will be done.
Shortly after this, his spasms returned, in the violence of which his mind wandered. Yet at intervals, during the night, he had his reason and appeared reposed and tranquil, and engaged in prayer. He expired about 8 o'clock on Sabbath morning, in the 38th year of his age, and was welcomed, we cannot doubt, by the gracious Savior whom he loved and served into the everlasting joys of his kingdom.
So lived and so dies our beloved brother. Extensively known in the country, and universally loved by those who knew him, there is scarcely a village in the land where his death will not be felt to be a great public loss. His life beneficent, his career bright, his death hallowed, his end peace; what remains for us, who mourn his loss, but to magnify the grace of God that made him what he was, and to pray, that the sanctified results of his early removal may be witnessed in ourselves, and in all who know his worth and deplore his death.
Nothing like a full portrait of the character of our deceased friend can be expected of me on the present occasion. This, I trust, will be done by some abler hand, and with more leisure than has been allowed me, in the few hurried and sorrowful hours that I have been able to devote to this preparation. All that I shall attempt is to present a few brief notices designed, not so much to make those acquainted with him who knew him not, as to assist the grateful recollections of those who knew and loves him.
There was a transparency and openness in the character of Mr. Cornelius, which made it easily understood. It had nothing disguised or equivocal in it. He was what he appeared to be,-open, frank, generous, decided; so obviously so, that everyone felt. even from a short interview with him, that he was entirely above everything low, awful, or disingenuous; and that confidence reposed in him would never be disappointed. It was this trait of character, connected with great kindness of nature and urbanity of manners that gave him such ready access to the hearts of men, and made him one of the most successful of advocates in pleading the cause of Christian benevolence. Such were the spirit and manner of his appeals that they rarely gave offence, and could not well be refuted; and instead of exhausting they tended rather to enlarge the heart of Christian charity and to prepare the way for more liberal aid on a renewed application .
His intellectual qualities were of a superior order,- well cultivated; well balanced; prompt to act; and with all allied to a most generous and noble heart, which far, from allowing him to spend his strength in idle musings or empty speculations, consecrated all his powers and attainments to the service of God and the good of mankind. He was eminently a practical man,-fruitful in devices for doing good; apt to see and to seize upon opportunities of usefulness; persevering of purpose,and peculiarly successful in carrying into effect his plans of benevolence. He naturally possessed great ardor of feeling. The current of his emotions was strong and deep. This had a powerful influence on his whole religion, character, and imparted great interest and effect to his conversation and public addresses. His sensibilities were tenderly alive to suffering of every description; and when he came under the influence of religious principles,the spiritual miseries of mankind excited his deepest compassion and drew forth unwearied efforts for their relief.
But though his feelings were thus ardent and easily excited, he united with them an uncommonly sound judgment. Says one, who had the best opportunity of knowing him, for several years as a helper in labor.--'I do not know of a single injudicious step, which he has taken, of any considerable importance, since he was connected with the American Education Society.'- This is to be attributed in no small part to his close connection with Worcester and Evarts, who were eminent models of Christian wisdom and prudence,-to his custom of candidly and frequently asking the opinions of judicious men, in all important questions which he was called to decide;' more than all, to his habit of ascertaining, by earnest prayer, and a faithful examination of the scriptures, what the mind of Christ was. It was an expression, that was constantly on his lips.- Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And he, who humbly asks wisdom of God, has the promise of being guided in judgement.
Another remarkable trait in the character of Mr. Cornelius was comprehensiveness of mind. He had a largeness of soul, that looked abroad upon society and upon the world, and took a lively interest in everything that was calculated to ameliorate the condition of man and advance the empire of Christ. His knowledge of the state of this country and of the world was very comprehensive and thorough. He had an acquaintance with public men and public institutions more exclusive, perhaps than that of any other man of his age.--This enabled him to form large plans of usefulness and to bring into operation the proper means of accomplishing them. He had a power of forming and executing such plans that has rarely been surpassed. He possessed a singular capacity for business; and as essential to this, his habits of order and arrangement were admirable, extending to the minutest particulars. These traits of character, combined with a wide and wakeful benevolence, and a vigor of constitution, which it seemed as if nothing could weary or overwork, enabled him to accomplish a great deal in a short time, and very few men, it is believed who have been called a way at so early a period of life, have left behind them more abundant fruits of well doing. He rests from his labors but his works follow him; and the influence which he exerted in the cause of benevolence, especially in behalf of the American Education Society, will continue to be felt, throughout this country and the world, long after the present generation has passed away.
His views of the Christian doctrines were decidedly evangelical-comprehensive and practical, rather than minute and critical; and yet, as some of his publications abundantly show, he was able, when occasion required, to bring to the discussion of doctrinal subjects, a degree of critical skill and force of argument, that is by no means common. As in the practice, so in the theory of religion, his views were exceedingly large and liberal. He derived his principles of action, his motives to obedience, and his spiritual consolation and hopes, very much from contemplating Christianity as a system, a system of grace and truth designed for the recovery of fallen man from the ruins of sin, and fitted to make him happy only as it makes him holy. There was nothing in his feelings and sentiments like sectarianism or bigotry. He was liberal in the truest sense of the word-loving all who loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; cooperating with them in ever good work, and rejoicing in the success of whatever efforts were made, in the spirit of the gospel in advance the cause of truth and holiness on earth.
All these things taken together, accompanied as they were by a fascinating personal address, and a bodily form of great beauty and asymmetry, and animated by an ardent love to Christ and the soul of men, made him as an advocate an agent and a director of our benevolent societies, useful and successful, to a degree that was very great, and, perhaps unequalled.
In private life, Mr. Cornelius exhibited an example of rare excellence. As a son, a brother, a father, a husband, he was everything that is amiable and engaging; cheerful, affectionate, tender, indulgent,-but I must not intrude into the domestic circle, sacred at this moment by the depth and freshness of its sorrow.- Those who compose this circle, best know how much he loved there, and how much he was beloved.
As a man he was ardent, enterprising, bold, and energetic--possessing in a large measure, what one calls the brotherhood of our nature, and qualified, therefore to feel and produce strong and lasting attachments.
As a friend, he was warn-hearted, disinterested, active, constant. He was indeed formed for friendship; it was an element congenial to his affectionate benevolent heart; and those who had the happiness to know him in this relation, need not be told how easy, unstudied and overflowing were the expressions of his kindness and love.
As a Christian, he was cheerful without levity, devote without moroseness, firm without obstinacy;- intent upon knowing and fearless to doing his duty; quietly resigned to the will of Providence, and manifesting on all occasions, an untiring willingness to spend and be spent in promoting the salvation of his fellow men,-while at the same time, under a deep experimental sense of personal guilt and personal deed, he threw himself, without pretension and without reserve, upon the atonement of the Redeemer as the only ground on which he could look for pardon and acceptance with his God. This was his hope in life; this sustained him in the hour of sickness and death; and this conveyed him in peace through the dark valley into the presence of his Lord and Savior.
As a minister and herald of the everlasting gospel, he was deservedly held in high estimation. His appearance in the pulpit was dignified, solemn, appropriate. His voice, one of great power and compass, enabled him to utter his sentiments with thrilling effect; and often when warmed with some great theme of christian benevolence, he rose to a higher strain of impassioned and persuasive eloquence. While state orator of the Tabernacle Church in Salem, he improved in an unwanted measure the confidence and affection of his people; and many, under his ministry, were brought to embrace the Savior, who will be his joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord.
Such is an imperfect sketch of the life and character of him whose early departure we are this day lamenting, and shall long have reason to lament with deep and unfeigned sorrow. I have not dwelt upon his faults; for I know not what they were, except those that are common to our nature, and to portray these, is no part of the duty appropriate to this occasion. Whatever they were, death has thrown over them its mantle; and it only remains for us to embalm his virtues in our memory, and to follow him as he followed Christ.