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Recollections of a Long Life - An Autobiography
by Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
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What has been the outcome of these thirty years of happy pastorate? As far as the results can be tabulated the following is a brief summary:—During my pastorate here I have preached about 2,750 discourses, have delivered a very large number of public addresses in behalf of Sunday Schools, Young Men's Associations, the temperance reform, and kindred enterprises for advancing human welfare. I have officiated at 682 marriages. I have baptized 962 children. The total number received into the membership of this church during this time has been 4,223. Of this number 1,920 have united by a confession of their faith in Jesus Christ. An army, you see, an army of nearly two thousand souls, have enlisted under the banner of King Jesus, and taken their "sacramentum," or vow of loyalty, before this pulpit. What is our crown of rejoicing? Are not even they in the presence of Christ at His coming?

It is due to you that I should commend your liberality in gifts to God's treasury. During these thirty years over $640,000 have been contributed for ecclesiastical and benevolent purposes, and about $700,000 for the maintenance of the sanctuary, its worship, and its work. Over a million and a quarter of dollars have passed through these two channels. The successive boards of trustees have managed our financial affairs carefully and efficiently. The architecture of this noble edifice is not disfigured by any mortgage. I hope it never will be.

There is one department of ministerial labor that has had a peculiar attraction to me and afforded me peculiar joy. Pastoral work has always been my passion. It has been my rule to know everybody in this congregation, if possible, and seldom have I allowed a day to pass without a visit to some of your homes. I fancied that you cared more to have a warm-hearted pastor than a cold-blooded preacher, however intellectual. To carry out thoroughly a system of personal oversight, to visit every family, to stand by the sick and dying beds, to put one's self into sympathy with aching hearts and bereaved households, is a process that has swallowed up time, and I tell you it has strained the nerves prodigiously. Costly as the process has been, it has paid. If I have given sermons to you, I have got sermons from you. The closest tie that binds us together is that sacred tie that has been wound around the cribs in your nurseries, the couches in your sick chambers, the chairs at your fireside, and even the coffins that have borne away your precious dead. My fondest hope is that however much you may honor and love my successor in this pulpit, you will evermore keep a warm place in the chimney-corner of your hearts for the man that gave the best thirty years of his life to your service.

Here let me bespeak for my successor the most kind and reasonable allowance as to pastoral labors. Do not expect too much from him. Very few ministers have the peculiar passion for pastoral service that I have had; and if Christ's ambassador who shall occupy this pulpit proclaims faithfully the whole Gospel of God and brings a sympathetic heart to your houses, do not criticize him unjustly because he may not attempt to make twenty-five thousand pastoral visits in thirty years. House to house visitation has only been one hemisphere of the pastor's work. I have accordingly endeavored to guard the door of yonder study so that I might give undivided energy to preparation for this pulpit.

You know, my dear people, how I have preached and what I have preached. In spite of many interruptions, I have honestly handled each topic as best I could. The minister that foolishly runs races with himself is doomed to an early suicide. All that I claim for my sermons is that they have been true to God's Book and the cross of Jesus Christ—have been simple enough for a child to understand, and have been preached in full view of the judgment seat. I have aimed to keep this pulpit abreast of all great moral reforms and human progress, and the majestic marchings of the kingdom of King Jesus. The preparation of my sermons has been an unspeakable delight. The manna fell fresh every morning, and it had to me the sweetness of angels' food. Ah, there are many sharp pangs before me. None will be sharper than the hour that bids farewell to yonder blessed and beloved study. For twenty-eight years it has been my daily home—one of the dearest spots this side of Heaven. From its walls have looked down upon me the inspiring faces of Chalmers, Charles Wesley, Spurgeon, Lincoln and Gladstone; Adams, Storrs, Guthrie, Newman Hall, and my beloved teachers, Charles Hodge and the Alexanders of Princeton. Thither your infant children have been brought on Sabbath mornings, awaiting their baptism. Thither your older children have come by hundreds to converse with me about the welfare of their souls. Thither have come all the candidates for admission to the fellowship of this church, and have made there their confession of faith and their allegiance to Christ. Oh, what blessed interviews with inquirers have been held there! What sweet and happy fellowship with my successive bands of helpers, some of whom have joined the general assembly of the redeemed in glory. That hallowed study has been to me sometimes a Bochim of tears, and sometimes a Hermon, when the vision was of no man save Jesus only. And the work there has been a wider one for a far wider multitude than these walls contain this morning. I have written there nearly all the hundreds of articles which have gone out through the religious press, over this country, over Great Britain, over Europe, over Australia, Canada, India, and New Zealand. During my ministry I have published about 3,200 of these articles. Many of them have been gathered into books, many of them translated into Swedish, Spanish, Dutch, and other foreign tongues. They have made the scratch of a very humble pen audible to Christendom. The consecrated pen may be more powerful than the consecrated tongue. I devoutly thank God for having condescended to use my humble pen to the spread of his Gospel; and I purpose with His help to spend much of the brief remainder of my life in preaching His glorious Gospel through the press.

I am sincerely sorry that the necessities of this hour seem to require so personal a discourse this morning; but I must hide behind the example of the great Apostle who gave me my text. Because He reviewed His ministry among His spiritual children of Thessalonica, I may be allowed to review my own, too—standing here this morning under such peculiar circumstances. These thirty years have been to me years of unbounded joy. Sorrow I have had, when death paid four visits to my house; but the sorrow taught sympathy with the grief of others. Sins I have committed—too many of them; your patient love has never cast a stone. The faults of my ministry have been my own. The successes of my ministry have been largely due under God, to your co-operation, and, above all, to the amazing goodness of our Heavenly Father. Looking my long pastorate squarely in the face, I think I can honestly say that I have been no man's man; I have never courted the rich, nor wilfully neglected the poor; I have never blunted the sword of the Spirit lest it should cut your consciences, or concealed a truth that might save a soul. In no large church is there a perfect unanimity of tastes as to preaching. I do not doubt that there are some of you that are quite ready for the experiment of a new face in this pulpit, and perhaps there may be some who are lusting after the fat quail of elaborate or philosophic discourse. For thirty years I have tried to feed you on "nothing but manna." Whatever the difference of taste, you have always stood by me, true as steel. This has been your spiritual home; and you have loved your home, and you have drunk every Sunday from your own well, and though the water of life has not always been passed up to you in a richly embossed silver cup, it has drawn up the undiluted Gospel from the inspired fountain-head. To hear the truth, to heed the truth, to "back" the truth with prayer and toil, has been the delight of the stanchest members of this church. Oh, the children of this church are inexpressibly dear to me! There are hundreds here to-day that never had any other home, nor ever knew any other pastor. I think I can say that "every baptism has baptized us into closer fellowship, every marriage has married us into closer union, every funeral that bore away your beloved dead, only bound us more strongly to the living." Every invitation from another church—and I have had some very attractive ones that I never told you about—every invitation from another church has always been promptly declined; for I long ago determined never to be pastor of any other than Lafayette Avenue Church.

What is my joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye—ye—in the presence of Christ at His coming? Why, then, sunder a tie that is bound to every fibre of my inmost heart? I will answer you frankly. There must be no concealment or false pretexts between us. In the first place, as I told you two months ago, I had determined to make my thirtieth anniversary the terminal point of my present pastorate. I determined not to outstay my fullest capacity for the enormous work demanded here. The extent of that demanded work increases every twelve months. The requirements of preaching twice every Sunday, to visit the vast number of families directly connected with this church, attending funeral services, conferring with committees about Christian work of various kinds, and numberless other duties—all these requirements are prodigious. Thus far, by the Divine help, I have carried that load. My health to-day is as firm as usual; and I thank God that such forces of heart and brain as He has given me are unabated. The chronic catarrh that long ago muffled my ears to many a strain of sweet music, has never made me too deaf to hear the sweet accents of your love. But I understand my constitution well enough to know that I could not carry the undivided load of this great church a great while longer without the risk of breaking down; and there must be no risk run with you or with myself. I also desire to assist you in transferring this magnificent vessel to the next pilot whom God shall appoint; and I wish to transfer it while it is well-manned, well-equipped, and on the clear sea of an unbroken financial and spiritual prosperity. No man shall ever say that I so far presumed on the generous kindness of this dear church as to linger here until I had outlived my usefulness.

For these reasons I present to-day my resignation of this sacred, precious charge. It is my honest desire and purpose that this day must terminate my present pastorate. For presenting this resignation I alone am responsible before God, before this church and before the world. When you shall have accepted my resignation, the whole responsibility for the welfare of this beloved church will rest on your shoulders—not on mine. My earnest prayer is that you may soon be directed to the right man to be your minister, to one who shall unite all hearts and all hands, and carry forward the high and holy mission to which God has called you. He will find in me not a jealous critic, but a hearty ally in everything that he may regard for the welfare of this church.

As for myself I do not propose to sit down on the veranda and watch the sun of life wheel downward in the west. The labors of a pen and of a ministry at large will afford me no lack of employment. The welfare of this church is inexpressibly dear to me—nothing is dearer to me this side of heaven. If, therefore, while this flock remains shepherdless, and in search of my successor, I can be of actual service to you in supplying at any time this pulpit or performing pastoral labor, that service, beloved, shall be performed cheerfully.

The first thought, the only thought with all of us, is this church, this church, THIS CHURCH. I call no man my friend, you must call no man your friend that does not stand by the interests of Lafayette Avenue Church. It is now called to meet a great emergency. For the first time in twenty-eight years this church is subjected to a severe strain. During all these years you had very smooth sailing. You have never been crippled by debt; you have never been distracted with quarrels, and you have never been without a pastor in your pulpit or your homes when you needed him. And I suppose no church in Brooklyn has ever been subjected to less strain than this one. Now you are called upon to face a new condition of things, perhaps a new danger—certainly a new duty. The duty overrides the danger. To meet that duty you are strong in numbers. There are 2,350 names on your church register. Of these many are young children, many are non-residents who have never asked a dismission to other churches; but a great army of church members three Sabbaths ago rose up before that sacramental table. You are strong in a holy harmony. Let no man, no woman, break the ranks! You are strong in the protection of that great Shepherd who never resigns and who never grows old. "Lo! I am with you always! Lo! I am with you always! Lo! I am with you always!" seems to greet me this morning from every wall of this sanctuary. I confidently expect to see Lafayette Avenue Church move steadily forward with unbroken column led by the Captain of our salvation. All eyes are upon you. The eye that never slumbers or sleeps is watching over you. If you are all true to conscience, true to your covenants, true to Christ, the future of this dear church may be as glorious as its past. And when another thirty years have rolled away, it may still be a strong tower of the truth on which the smile of God shall rest like the light of the morning. By as much as you love me, I entreat you not to sadden my life or break my heart by ever deserting these walls, or letting the fire of devotion burn down on these sacred altars.

The hands of the clock warn me to close. This is one of the most trying hours of my whole life. It is an hour when tears are only endurable by being rainbowed with the memory of tender mercies and holy joys. When my feet descend those steps to-day, this will no longer be my pulpit. I surrender it back before God into your hands. One of my chiefest sorrows is that I leave some of my beloved hearers out of Christ. Oh, you have been faithfully warned here, and you have been lovingly invited here; and once more, as though God did beseech you by me, I implore you in Christ's name to be reconciled to God. This dear pulpit, whose teachings are based on the Rock of Ages, will stand long after the lips that now address you have turned to dust. It will be visible from the judgment seat; and its witness will be that I determined to know not anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. To-day I write the last page in the record of thirty bright, happy, Heaven-blessed years among you. What is written is written. I shall fold up the book and lay it away with all its many faults; and it will not lose its fragrance while between its leaves are the pressed flowers of your love. When my closing eyes shall look on that record for the last time, I hope to discover there only one name—the name that is above every name, the name of Him whose glory crowns this Eastern morn with radiant splendor, the name of Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of lords. And the last words I utter in this sacred spot are unto Him that loves us and delivers us from sin with His precious blood; and unto God be all the praise and thanks and dominion and glory for ever and ever. Amen.



INDEX.

A

Adams, Dr. William, 201-205. Albert, Prince, 32. Alexander, Archibald, 82, 191-3. Alexander, Dr. James W, 9. Alexander, Dr. Joseph Addison, 82, 193-5. Alexander, Stephen, 9. Allen, Mr. Alexander, 314. Allison, William J, 121. American Seamen's Friend Society, 255. Anderson, Captain James, 146, 149. Armstrong, Samuel C, 158. Astor, John Jacob, 273, 275-6. Aurora, birthplace, I.

B

Bailey, Joshua, 57. Baillie, Mrs. Joanna, 30-1. Barnes, Albert, 195. Batcheler, General, 231. Beecher, Henry Ward, 150, 152, 213-15, 295. Beecher, Miss Catherine, 231. Binney, Thomas, 170-172. Blair, General Francis P., 10. Bonar, Dr. Horatius, 40, 42. Booth, Mrs. Catherine, 265. Booth, General, 265. Bowring, Sir John, 39-40. Bright, John, 27, 134, 316. Brown, Dr. John, 105, 109, 147. Brooks, Phillips, 195. Burns, Robert, 12, 17-19, 26. Bushnell, Horace, 190-1. Byron, Lord, 13.

C

Campbell, Thomas, 31. Carlyle, Thomas, 23-9. Carnaham, Dr., President of Princeton, 9. Carnegie, Andrew, 59-60, 275. Cary, Edward, 301. Cass, General Lewis, 34. Channing, Dr. Ellery, 31. Chauncey, Charles, 63. Cheeseman, Dr. William, 322. Chi Alpha Society, 319. Christian Endeavor (See Young People's Society of, etc.). Clark, Rev. Francis E., 87, 247, 258. Comstock, Anthony, 264. Cook, Joseph, 231. Cox, Dr. Samuel Hanson, 209-13. Crosby, Fanny, 43. Cunningham, Professor, 13. Cuyler, Benjamin Ledyard, Dr. Cuyler's father, 2; died, 3. Cuyler, General, 2. Cuyler, Dr., ancestry, 1, 2; childhood, 3; farm life, 4; early religious training and reading, 5; preparation for college, 8; college memories, 9-11; visits England and France, Wordsworth, Dickens, Carlyle, Mrs. Baillie, the Young Queen, Napoleon, 12-36; first public address, 1842, 49, 50; visits Stockholm, 46; delivers his first address in New York, 54; President National Temperance Society, 57; views on temperance, 58-59; chooses the ministry, 61; at Princeton Seminary, 62; first pastorate, 62, 83; preaches at Saratoga, 64; methods of preaching, 64-73; changes in pulpit methods, 75-81; preaches five months at Wyoming Valley, 83, 84; work in New York, 85, 86; Lafayette Avenue, 1860, 86; methods of church work, 87-90; first literary contributions, 93; origin of "Under the Catalpa," 95; extent of literary labors, 95; first book, 96; inspiration of "The Empty Crib," 96; inspiration of "God's Light on Dark Clouds," 97; visits to famous people abroad, Gladstone, 99-104, Dr. John Brown, 105-109; Dean Stanley, 109-115; Earl Shaftesbury, 116, 117, interviews with famous people at home—Irving, 118-121; Whittier, 121-125; Webster, 125-132; Greeley, 132-137; Civil War, 138, services to "The Christian Commission," 130; at Washington, 131; first meeting with Lincoln, 142; to Europe in 1862, 145-149; at Edinburgh, 146-147; at Paris, 148; address on Emancipation, 149-150; trip to Charleston, Fort Sumter, 151; views on pastoral work, 159-169; British pastors—Binney, 170-72; Hamilton, 172-3, Guthrie, 175-76; Hall, 177-181; Spurgeon, 181-86; Duff, 187-89; reminiscences of Princeton Seminary preachers, 191, reminiscences of famous American preachers—Phillips Brooks, 190; Horace Bushnell, 191-2, Archibald Alexander, 191-3; Joseph Addison Alexander, 193-5; Albert Barnes, 195, Dr. William B. Sprague, 196-197; Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, 197-200, Dr. William Adams, 201-5; Samuel Hanson Cox, 209-13; Henry Ward Beecher, 213-15; Rev. Charles G. Finney, 216-220; Dr. Benjamin M. Palmer, 221-223; summering at Saratoga, 224-232; meets leading Methodists—Bishop Jaynes, Bishop Simpson, Bishop Peck, etc, 227-8, Bishop Haven, 229-31; summering at Mohonk, 232; Dr. Schaff, 235; Dr. McCosh, 237-9; Mr. Smiley, 240; Indian Conferences at Mohonk, 240; "Arbitration Conference," 240; letter from President Harrison, 242, preservation of health, 243, growth of church fellowship and diminution of sectarianism, 244-9; exchanging pulpits, 246-9, women in the pulpit—Miss Smiley, 249-50; foreign missions, 251-254; Young Men's Christian Association, 255-57; Christian Endeavor Society, 258; missionary work in New York, 260-268; missionary work in Brooklyn, 268-272; views on the modern novel, 281-82; views on the new theology, 285-87; ministry in Burlington and Trenton, N J, 288, marriage, 289; his wife, 289-292; Market Street Dutch Reformed Church of New York, 292-294; calls to various churches, 292; Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 294; Brooklyn, 298; house, 302-303; death of his mother, 304, death of his daughter, 304-5; celebration of quarter century of ministry at Lafayette Church, 306; resignation from the church, 307-09; travels, 314-317; commemoration of 80th birthday, 317-20, valedictory sermon, delivered at Lafayette Avenue Church, 325-46. Cuyler, Theodore Ledyard, Jr., 323.

D

Dayton, Hon. William L, 148. Delano, Captain Joseph C, 12. Dickens, Charles, 20-22. Dix, General, 57. Dod, Albert B, 9. Dod, Hon. Amzi, 11. Dodge, Hon William E, 56, 57, 275. Dow, Neal, 53-55. Drummond, Henry, 303. Duff, Dr. Alexander, 187-89. Duffield, John T., 10.

F

Faraday, Sir Michael, 10. Farrar, Archdeacon, 248. Finney, Rev. Charles G., 76, 216-220.

G

Girard, Stephen, 273. Gladstone, William E., 99, 104, 272. Gough, Hon. John B, 51-53. Gould, Miss Helen M., 251. Greeley, Horace, 132-137. Gregg, Rev. Dr. David, 312. Grellet, Stephen, 121. Gurney, Mrs. Joseph John, 121. Guthrie, Dr. Thomas, 175-176.

H

Hackett, Horatio B., 231. Hall, Rev Newman, 26, 177-181. Hamilton College, 2 Hamilton, Dr. James, 172-3 Harrison, President Benjamin, letter to Dr. Cuyler, 242. Harvey, Sir George, 107 Hatfield, Dr. Edward F., 47. Haven, Bishop, 229-31. Hayes, President R.B., 235. Henry, Joseph, 9, 10, 140. Hodge, Archibald Alexander, 10. Hodge, Dr. Charles, 82. Hopkins, Dr. Mark, 57 Howard, General O.O., 57. Hoxie, Judge, 151, 152. Huntington, Daniel, 259

I

Irving, Washington, 118-121.

J

James, John Angell, 174 Jaynes, Bishop, 227-8 Jesup, Morris K., 274 Judson, Adoniram, 253.

K

Kirk, Rev. Edward N, 73.

L

Ledyard, General Benjamin, Dr. Cuyler's grandfather, 1. Ledyard, Hon Henry, 34. Ledyard, Mary Forman, Dr. Cuyler's grandmother, 2. Lewis, Senator Dixon H., 127. Lincoln, Abraham, 141-146, 152-157, 229. Little, Mr., founder of the "Living Age," 205. Livingstone, David, 174. Longfellow, Henry Wordsworth, 24.

M

Mandeville, Rev. Gerrit, 8. Marquand, Frederick, 256. Mason, Dr. Lowell, 43, 44. Mathew, Father Theobald, 49-51. Mathiot, Annie E., Dr. Cuyler's wife, 289. Melvill, Henry, 170. Miller, Dr. Samuel, 82. Moffat, Robert, 174. Mohonk, 224, 232-42. Mohonk Lake Mountain House, 232-242. Montgomery, James, 37-8. Montgomery, Satan, 38. Moody, Dwight L., 90-91, 216, 247. Morrell, Charles Horton, 4. Morrell, Louise Frances, Dr. Cuyler's mother, 2. Mott, Richard, 121. Muhlenberg, Dr. William Augustus, 45-6. McBurney, Robert, 256. McChyne, Robert Murray, 315. McCosh, President of Princeton, 237-9. McSloane, Bishop Charles P., 247. McKelway, Dr. St. Clair, 301. McLaren, Dr. Alexander, 66, 73, 172. McLean, "Uncle Johnny," 9.

N

Napoleon, Grand Army of, 35. Napoleon's Tomb, 35-6. National Temperance Society and Publication House, 55, 57. Nixon, John T., 10.

P

Palmer, Dr. Benjamin M., 221-223. Palmer, Dr. Ray, 43-5. Park, Edwards A., Professor, 209. Pease, Rev. L.M., 260. Peck, Bishop, 228 Phillipe, Louis, 34 Pierpont, John, 231. Pratt, Charles, 274 Prentiss, Mrs. Elizabeth Payson, 47.

R

Raffles, Dr., 12. Renwick, Professor, 13. Robertson, Frederick W., 73. Rockefeller, John D., 274. Roe, Robert, 317

S

Salvation Army, 265-7 Sankey, Ira D., 91 Saratoga, 224-26 Schaff, Dr. Philip, 235-7. Schlieman, Dr., 316 Scott, Sir Walter, 16, 17, 30. Scudder, Edward W., 10. Seward, William H., 323. Shaftesbury, Earl, 116-117. Sloane, Rev. M., 42 Simpson, Bishop Matthew, 228-9 Smiley, Mr., Indian and Arbitration Conferences, 240-1. Smiley, Miss Sara F., 249. Smith, Dr. Samuel F., 46-47 Society for the Prevention of Vice, 264, Southey, Robert, 16. Spalding, Levi, 251. Spurgeon, Charles H., 181-86. Spurgeon, Rev. Thomas, 186 Sprague, Dr. William B., 196-197. Stanley, Dean, 109-115 Stitt, Dr., 255. Storrs, Dr. Richard S., 205-209 Strong's, Dr., Remedial Institute at Saratoga, 227.

T

Temple, Dr., 248 Thompson, Rev. Charles Lemuel, 319. Torrey, Dr. John, 9 Tweedie, William, 317 Tyng, Dr. Stephen H., 197-200

V

Valedictory Sermon, 325-46 Van Buren, President Martin, 231. Van Rensellaer, 93 Vickers, Mr., 37-8 Victoria, Queen, 32-4.

W

Walker, Richard W., 10 Washington, Booker T., 158 Webster, Daniel, 125-132 Wells College, 3 Whitcomb, Miss Mary, 51. Whittier, John G., 121-125. Wilberforce, William, 22 Willard, Frances E., 231. Williams, Sir George, 116, 246-7, 255. Wilson, Professor, "Christopher North," 13. Wilson, Vice-President Henry, 231. Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 60. Wordsworth, William, 13-16.

Y

Young Men's Christian Association, 246-7, 255. Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, 246-7

THE END

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