BIBLICAL LITERATURE IN THE GENERAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
PRINTED BY EDWARD O. JENKINS,
20 NORTH WILLIAM STREET.
How wonderfully the lights and shadows of this, our mortal life, are intermingled! To-day we find ourselves in the midst of the Holy Place,--already decorated with its festive green, [* It was the day before Christmas.] with its symbols of joy and immortality but we come in the train of death, and in the character of mourners! We suspend preparation for our Christmas song, that we may perform funeral rites over the mortal remains of our departed Brother!
And yet all is well. To us, indeed, the loss is great. But this is a death in which there is no gloom. The good and faithful man, who has gone from us, had passed the three score years and ten! His ministry had very nearly reached to the half of a century. His labors in the great duty to which he had dedicated his life, had been extended beyond the usual term of active service for one generation. He had lived to hear the Advent call: "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed--the night is far spent; the day is at hand!" He had preached in yonder familiar chapel (the place that had so long known him, but shall know him no [3/4] more), his earnest, tender, Advent sermon: The Lord coming to "sit as a refiner and purifier of Silver!" [* The subject of his sermon.] He had introduced another band of youthful pupils into the study of the Holy Gospels, and had led them far on their way. He remained long enough to see the East beginning to glow with the light of the coming Nativity; and then, gently, quickly, almost as it were by stealth, he departed, to be with Christ!--not staying to celebrate his birth here again amid the infirmities of the flesh and the shadows of this lower world,--not waiting to gaze once more with the dim eye of faith upon the far-off manger of Bethlehem, but exalted suddenly to the blessed privilege of being "delivered from the burden of the flesh," that he might be forever "in joy and felicity with God!"
It is not often that we are allowed to stand at a closing scene so full of all that can give a Christian content. It is not often that we have the privilege of looking back upon a life which has been so singularly favored with opportunities of usefulness, and in which those opportunities have been so faithfully and so largely improved. Forty-three years ago our departed Friend began to be employed in giving instruction to candidates for the sacred ministry; and from that distant day to the present time his name has been conspicuously associated with theological education in the church in this country. His pupils are numerously dispersed through every diocese in the Union; and I think I may confidently affirm that there is not one among them all who does not look back to his kind paternal care with gratitude: to his character as a Christian [4/5] gentleman, scholar, and teacher, with affection and reverence. If you wish to see his monument, look around at the ministry of the Church in this country; if you wish to listen to his Eulogy, go visit any one of the four or five hundred of Christian Pastors, whom he has assisted in preparing for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, and you will hear him pronounce with deep feeling, that the days passed by him in the General Theological Seminary, were among the pleasantest and most profitable of his life, and that no small share of the pleasure and profit of those days was due to the faithful and pleasant instruction, to the kind bearing, the judicious advice, the bright, sunny character of the "Professor of Biblical Learning and the Interpretation of Scripture."
It is now a little more than thirty-five years since I came to this city almost a stranger, glowing with youthful ardor in the pursuit of knowledge, full of the hopes and the fears with which every young man of any reflection must look forward to the work of the sacred ministry: and presented myself first to the Rev. Dr. Turner, to be examined and admitted into the Seminary. The impression of his kindness, of the cheerful courtesy and benignity of his manner, can never be effaced from my heart. At that early day I was privileged to see him frequently in his own home; a home not yet darkened by sorrow; a home brightened by the presence of one whose person and manners shed a grace and a charm over every thing about her! Through all the changeful years that have passed since that period, that cheerful Christian home has been a solace and a refreshment to many a youthful [5/6] student, when weary, lonely, and discouraged. It has been to many a young man an image of what a Christian home should be, and may be, and at the same time it has warmed the heart to a more fervent love of the beauty of holiness.
It is not for me to attempt to give utterance to the feelings of his Pupils, now present. They have lost a friend, a father, a beloved teacher, all in one. They will cherish the memory of his virtues, of his earnest, affectionate faithfulness, and they will endeavor to show themselves worthy to have been his pupils by striving to be "followers together of him, and to walk so as they have him for an ensample."
To speak in detail of the learning and the labors of our departed Brother, of his published writings, of the influence of his life on theological education in this country, of his usefulness in other departments of Christian enterprise, would be unsuited to the solemnities of this hour, as it would be to undertake a task altogether too great for the opportunities afforded by this unexpected summons.
Nor, my brethren, is there any need that I enlarge upon the lesson to be read in this event: "Let me die the death of the righteous; and let my last end be like his!" Let my last look backward over the life rest upon a record as pure, as blameless, as full of the beauty of holiness, as full of trust in the blessed Redeemer, and, as useful as did his. "Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them." We need not repine, nor grieve that he rests in peace, that he has been delivered from the burden of the flesh, that [6/7] he has been "taken away from the evil to come," that he has been advanced to the companionship of the blessed, that he is forever in "joy and felicity with God." Look, my brethren, upon that coffin, and you shall see there such a promise of peace, and of blessedness as you cannot see out amid the fiery passions and huge convulsions of the world. May that peace, and that blessedness be ours! ours in the hour of death, ours in the day of judgment, and through all the life that comes after judgment.
SERMON. "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him,
"Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"--St. John i. 47.
IT is not always easy, my brethren, to select a text or a name, by which to express or illustrate the character of a beloved and distinguished man. But this passage of Holy Scripture struck me, at first sight, as being so just and true, and so singularly real in its application to the revered Christian, Scholar, and Friend, whose honorable memorial is the subject of our thoughts, that it recommended itself and secured its place at once. Of not a few indeed these words might be spoken fairly, and to them the name be reasonably given; for it is a part of the work of God's changing and renewing grace to create within the earnest believer the heart of the little child; and to give him the victory over the spirit of pretension and guile. But they are applied here very distinctly and emphatically, with the summons "behold," arresting and concentrating our thoughts, as if to something unusual, and beyond the common range. Our Lord himself pronounces and applies them. He uses strong words of affirmation and closest words of exclusion. There are many of whom they might be spoken, but not so peculiarly and strenuously. And I say it without fear of contradiction, and without intention of reproach, that there are good persons of a certain mental or moral constitution or habit, who unite superior intelligence with a genius naturally subtle, moving on with indirection, and covertly or cunningly, [11/12] equivocal in assertion, slippery in argument, uncertain in action, to whom the words of this special commendation would be inappropriate; while to have them quoted and applied with personal intention to some, would be felt as a cruel satire. But with regard to him, they fall as if meant for him; as peerless words purposely chosen or naturally belonging; which might have been uttered by the same blessed lips to him as to the other--owned as fitting by each one of us who knew him. Is it, when an exquisite sentence is thus selected and appropriated, that the imagination plays with its favorite, fondly discovering or multiplying the corresponding traits; or is it, as the philosopher says, that history is constantly reproducing itself, and the same type of the man comes up again in actual life? Certainly here the comparison is one abounding in many respects in fortunate coincidences. Nathanael is surnamed Bar-Tholomew, suggesting an honored parent; an eminent master at whose feet he sat as scholar; or a religious school or class which claimed him as an ornament. It is evident that he was studious of the Scriptures, accustomed to read and mark them carefully; that these studies were largely concerning the great Messiah who was to come; and that for the Messianic argument, parallel passages had been compared, even "what Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write;" and that he valued associate labors of scholars interested in the same questions of religion. It is intimated that he lived much in the Evangelical Idea, waiting for Him who was to be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel: "an Israelite indeed," and so of a pure heart, and engaged in the welfare of Israel and her children, and in her sacred language and lore. In noting particular traits of character, this is observable, [12/13] that he was not possessed of that instinctively confiding, welcoming spirit, which would lead him to attach himself to the objects of faith at once, intuitively, at their very presentation; but that his natural temper was one which at first hesitated, suggested inquiry, lingered, and rather repelled advances, even when made by the one his soul most earnestly embraced, when doubt was over; ready to arrest commendation which struck him as unwarranted, or the fond words of one who would be officious; meeting even our Lord's gracious welcome with that sharp and sudden question, "whence knowest thou me?" but that even before belief, he was ready to "come and see," and examine impartially; responsive to conviction, and immediately to a clear conviction; responsive decidedly and pronouncingly, accepting and asserting the consequences of his conviction: also, that his mind was quick to discern and combine minor signs of probability, and sensitive to the value of internal evidence and personal consciousness and experience; ready meanwhile to gather in confirmation strong from "greater things than these," as God should "open" them to his servant; thus possessing a faith real and asserted, yet not stationary; but growing in grace and knowledge, more rich, more comprehensive, more resulting, even to his life's end: not unsubject to a prejudice, and so giving it expression in the famed saying, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" yet overruling it so far as not to allow it to interfere with free and calm investigation.
In the rendering suggested by an ancient father, "a good thing may come even out of Nazareth," there is still an admission of the popular prejudice, "out of [13/14] Galilee ariseth no prophet." Yet, in his lips it seems also to betray another trait, a pleasant one, frequently solicited but not found in many, that of a genuine, playful, lively humor; an agreeable gift of nature, illuminating thought, enlivening intercourse, telling in effect. Nathanael himself was of Cana, a little town of Galilee; Philip his friend was also of Bethsaida, of Galilee; they would hardly accept, or if admitting, countenance to its full extent this disparagement of their native province; they had probably their own quiet, genial talk about the proverb, remembering Jonah and Nahum; and musing of Elijah and Elisha and Hosea and Habakkuk. And when the one named to the other "Jesus of Nazareth," as HIM of whom Moses and the Prophets had written, am I wrong in the imagination which suggests Nathanael by his friend's side, looking him in the eye and putting the question "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" in all the recognized consciousness that they both were Galileans; not disowning altogether the improbability, for he knew the prophecy concerning Bethlehem; not defying the prejudice; yet with a certain inimitable expression which we are all familiar with, which real humor alone can seize and convey, putting the question just in the very way to intimate doubt and the contradiction of doubt together. From the words "when thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee," commentators suggest his secret devotions, or private plans of charity, indicating devotional temper and habit; unobtrusive and bountiful kindness; goodness not unreservedly exercised before men; but known by "our Father which seeth in secret." I add no more, except that ancients gave him the honor of being a doctor of the law; that [14/15] he labored diligently and for many years in the work of the Christian ministry; that he carried along with him the earliest Evangelist history in the Hebrew language; that he lived usefully and died manfully; and that his burial was with abounding honors, and his name a cherished memory forever. In the fond old tradition which distributed among the twelve Apostles the Articles of the Creed, it was well conceived to assign to Bartholomew the words, "He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God," in view of the Beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!"
My brethren, I should not have dwelt so long upon this history, detaining you from him who is the direct subject of discourse, had I not felt that in almost every word I said, you would recognize it as literally corresponding as well to the one as to the other.
To his particular history, I would now reverently approach.
Samuel Hulbeart Turner was born in the city of Philadelphia, on the 23d of January 1790. His father, the Rev. Joseph Turner, was born in Devonshire, England, in 1742; came to America when he was seventeen; stayed several years, and returned to England, where he married Elizabeth Mason; then came back to America to settle permanently, in 1768. "Raised by the liberality of his uncle Philip Hulbeart, above the necessity of any professional exertions," he became interested in the study of theology, applied to Bishop White for Holy Orders, and was ordained in 1791, laboring for twenty-five years as Rector of St. Martin's church, near Philadelphia, assisting in the Swedish Episcopal Church, frequently officiating in St. Paul's [15/16] church, Philadelphia, of which church he and his family were members, and engaging in many of those laborious and kindly pastoral services so constantly called for in a populous city. His wife died in 1818, and he, on the 26th day of July, 1821. Suffice it to say of him that he was eminently a holy and useful man, and was blessed in his ministry. Commanding the respect and love of all, he was especially the friend and pastor of the poor. He was largely acquainted among them. To him they came freely for counsel and sympathy. He baptized and married them in such large numbers that his private Record is considered a clerical curiosity.
Brought up under home's selecter influences, with sisters eminently intelligent and religious, his son, as a youth, early displayed those excellent traits which marked one who is favored of the Lord. He was educated in the best schools of his native city, and graduated at its University. His Rector was the Rev. Dr. Pilmore, the friend and long the fellow-laborer of Wesley, under whose warm Evangelical preaching, the great realities of man's lost and ruined state, of his need of the Adorable Saviour to atone and save, of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten, to change, to sanctify, were so impressed upon his tender and earnest mind, as never to be obliterated. Encouraged by Christian counselors, who saw in him a Samuel indeed, whom grace had disposed and was preparing for the work of the ministry and fortified by their verdict, he entered upon his course of Theological study, under the direction and instructions of Bishop White, than whom he could hardly have had a more religious, learned, and sagacious adviser. Here admitted [16/17] to intimate personal privilege of intercourse, he formed that very strong and lasting attachment for him, and reverence for his person and name, which abided to the last. Bringing with him a more feeling and impassioned piety, which had been living on the great Redemptive truths of the Gospel, its Atonement and its Grace, he combined with it most of those moderate and guarded views, with regard to religious culture, affection, and movement, the instrumentalities of good, the character of the ministerial office, and the free probation of man under a system of grace, which distinguished his wise and eminent instructor; whom though he followed with no servile spirit, differing from him on some important subjects, he was yet fond of naming as more than any other man, his authority, exclaiming in his discourse on his fortieth anniversary, (this is its very day, my brethren,) "our own ecclesiastical Washington--the wise, noble, and most venerable Bishop White, whom, if ungratefully I forget, 'let my right hand forget her cunning,' and my heart cease to beat its natural impulses!"
His course as a candidate for Holy Orders was marked by diligence, good judgment, quickness of perception, and the talent to discriminate; and his character was that of a deep religiousness. Doddridge's Rise and Progress was at this time a favorite book for his devotional reading. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop White, in St. Paul's church, Philadelphia, 27th of January, 1811, only four days after he came of age. When twenty-four, on his birthday, he was ordained priest, at the same time with our beloved Bishop Kemper, here present. After his ordination as Deacon, he spent the greater part of the year at home, [17/18] officiating occasionally in the city churches, visiting New York, and spending some time in Swedesborough, New Jersey, and that vicinity, where the Rev. Simon Wilmer was Rector, frequently officiating in his parishes: here he formed an intimate acquaintance with the Rev. William H. Wilmer, and became his successor. Thus it was on the 16th day of December, 1811, he received a call to become the Rector of Chester Parish, Kent County, Maryland, and began to perform his duties on the first of February. This (Chestertown) was his first and only parish. He ministered occasionally also at St. Paul's Parish, seven miles distant. He was an attentive, earnest, and successful pastor. The chief burden of his preaching was "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Careful to instruct the young, and vigilant for their welfare, he established one of the earliest Sunday schools in our country. Desirous to secure wide and prompt circulation of the Scriptures, he preferred to use the instrumentality of a general Bible Society, and formed one for the County in which he resided, and I might add here, that he continued an earnest and working member of the American Bible Society as long as he lived, served on some of its important committees, and lent his time and learned labors to its undertakings. In his parish he was highly appreciated and beloved; and in its intelligent and cultivated circle he made friends, who were friends for life.
In August, 1817, compelled by his delicate state of health to seek a more northern climate, he officiated for some months in St. John's church, Elizabethtown, New Jersey, during the absence of its Rector in Europe, and also in Grace church in the city of New York. Meanwhile the fame of his uncommon studiousness [18/19] and acquirements had directed public attention to him as one suitable to guide students of Theology in their course of preparation. And he was the more disposed to enter upon such duty, because his voice was feeble and his constitution far from robust. An appointment as superintendent of theological learning in the diocese of Pennsylvania, was made for him "by the Society of the Protestant Episcopal church for the advancement of Christianity" in that diocese. But just then all the thoughts and efforts of the church were concentrating upon a General Theological Seminary, to be established by all the dioceses, when represented in the General Convention. This plan was carried into effect in the General Convention of 1817.
It was in the city of New York, in Trinity church, on Tuesday, the 27th of May 1817, in the morning, that the General Theological Seminary was born.
In 1818, on the 8th of October (again this very day), at the city of Philadelphia, Mr. Turner received the appointment of "Professor of Historic Theology," in the General Theological Seminary. With him were to be associated as Professors, the Rev. Drs. Wharton and Jarvis. On the first of May, 1819, in the city of New York, he entered upon his duties. Dr. Wharton declining, the two others held their recitations regularly in some private room. The first class consisted of six members, Lawson Carter, James P. F. Clarke, George Washington Doane, Benjamin Dorr, Manton Eastburn, and William Hinckley Mitchell. On the 22d of May, 1820, it was decided to remove the Seminary to New Haven, where it was reopened early in September. As Dr. Jarvis resigned, all the duties of instruction now devolved upon the young professor; [19/20] and thirteen students were in attendance. Nobly did he gird himself for his strenuous duties, and his successful accomplishment was remarkable. Fortunately, the students were all in one class, pursuing the same studies. But he labored under the disadvantage of having learned Hebrew without the vowel points, and he had to familiarize himself with their mysteries, as he went along. His previous teaching made him at home in the "Historic," and the questions which that course involved; but in all the other subjects, he came to his work simply as the well-trained intellectual clergyman. I have heard him say that he never studied more severely, and that seldom had he been happier. He found time to attend even then to the students in extra-official service, meeting with their "Society" on its religious occasions, and its literary exercises; all which taxed his time, his studies, and his thoughts. He presided at their debates, and weighed their arguments and criticized their dissertations; and frequently on the Sunday evening preached to the students in the recitation-room. This, I know, that he established himself firmly in the confidence and regard of us all. There was an affectionate reverence for his person, combined with a high intellectual esteem, which was almost enthusiastic, and which I have seldom seen equalled.
It was in 1820 he received the honor of D.D., from Union College, at the early age of thirty. When the Seminary was reopened in the city of New York, in February 1822, the duties of instruction were largely distributed amongst the Professors; and he thenceforward gave himself to the great subject of "Biblical learning, and the Interpretation of Scripture"--as [20/21] Professor of which, on the 19th of December 1821, he was designated by the Trustees. Forty years devoted to this great study were but just accomplished when he died. I doubt whether anywhere in England or America, you can find one who for so long a period has bent the energies of a superior mind in that single direction or one better qualified to contribute, from his stores of thought and learning, his long experience, and his natural acumen, to the treasury of his sacred department.
In the Seminary, with continuous study, with regular fidelity, he abided his three and forty years--to the last exceedingly honored, exceedingly beloved, securing the reverence and affection of all. If sometimes he held a student uneasy at his first approach, as questioning of his fitness, yet without fail his loving sympathy was soon in motion towards him. If sometimes the new student doubted whether the sudden, close questioner could have a heart warm towards himself, and tender of his welfare, in a very little time he was quite sure to find him out. The Seminary was his home, and he was identified with it and it almost with him. When the first building was completed, he removed to its West end in 1826, and when the west building was ready, he removed to its East end in 1836. This last residence was arranged according to his own plan, and at considerable private expense to himself. His very book-cases were planned and fitted in at the original construction of the room which he made his Study and there in their costly finish they will stay, a memorial of his studious hours and of the man. All his children were born after his removal to the Seminary building, and all but one within its very [21/22] walls. There his long years were spent, and there he died. And when he died, it was with harness on, all his great faculties unimpaired, his attention quick, his hearing good, his memory true, his fine social qualities fresh as ever, his heart as warm, his will as prompt, his humor as sprightly, his fancy as bright, his tongue as eloquent, his industry, I think, augmented, and his eye as undimmed, though by accident and infirmity his natural force for bodily movement was abated. His interest in his Seminary work, and in caring for the students, was manifest to the last, even in the hours of his brief and exhausting illness. He continued at his duties till one week before he died. Even in his sickness he was for some days resolute to deliver, as the Dean, the annual Matriculation discourse, lest he should burden another, and that he might accomplish his appointed duty. Brave old man! and I might say it here, as well as elsewhere in my discourse, brave in his studies, brave in his work, and brave as a man of firm principle and pure conscientiousness! He may have been sometimes mistaken; but he stood out as a champion for what he deemed right and true and best. And when one remembers his feeble make, his nervous sensitiveness, his modesty, his scrupulousness, the gentle elements which all combined in him, and the way in which he met resolutely and painfully what he interpreted to be the call of duty, I venture to say there have been few braver men than he.
He died some few hours after the Matriculation sermon was ended. Oh! would that he could have preached it! Would it not have been almost as the voice from that better world, on the verge of which he [22/23] stood? Would it not have been a discourse memorable and never to be forgotten? Yet it was almost as this, when, for the last time in the Seminary chapel, on the evening of the 6th of December, he preached before the Professors and Students that great Advent Sermon, which so moved all our hearts. But it was here in St. Peter's Church--it was in this pulpit where I now stand and speak concerning him--he stood and preached his last sermon. It was here--here where my hand presses, and where this sermon to his memory now lies--that his last sermon was laid. His text was: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ!"
But I must not omit certain previous events of his history. In 1826 he married the second daughter of Burrage Beach, Esq., of Cheshire, Connecticut; in whom refinement and elevation of Christian character, quick intelligence, delicate and cultivated taste, with personal attractions, sweet manners, and genial disposition, were singularly blended. I cannot here enlarge, and shall only say that she was one, as "the elect lady," who in all graces, human and divine, exceeded. Her death, in 1839, was an inexpressible calamity, and to the last stirred his deepest emotions. Two daughters died when young; a daughter and two sons survive.
His death fell suddenly and unexpectedly. He had been better than usual, and had as the Dean been active and interested. The Saturday a week before he died was a very pleasant day, on which he felt remarkably well, and had gone over to the Bible House to his friend, the Rev. S. D. Denison, the Secretary of the Foreign Committee of the Board of Missions. A severe chill came on that evening, the precursor of the [23/24] fatal typhoid. In his sickness he thought himself very feeble, but manifested no apprehension of the danger. He even rose from his bed on the Tuesday morning, and nearly dressed himself; but his exhaustion soon compelled him to return. And when the disease developed itself, and pressed heavily, it prostrated him effectually. He breathed his last without a struggle, as in placid sleep, in the presence of his family, and of his old and well-beloved friend, the Rev. Dr. Cruse.
The news of his death was received with the deepest feeling and solemnity. His attached and devoted friends crowded up in sorrow and alarm. Multitudes of letters from the clergy and the laity, expressed the wide-extended feeling of grief, and of profound respect. All the religious Societies with which he held relations, passed honoring resolutions to his memory. Students, Professors, Alumni, Trustees, Committees, gave the same expression of their reverence, of their love. He died on St. Thomas' day, on an Ember day, the day of the annual Matriculation of the Seminary, on the 21st of December, at 10 minutes before 6 o'clock in the afternoon. His age was 71 years, 10 months, and 28 days. The funeral, with largest attendance, was here at St. Peter's church, of which he and his sainted compeer of blessed memory, the Rev. Dr. Bird Wilson, had been, we may say, the earliest founders; and where he had always regularly attended with his family. The coffin was borne into the church by students of the Seminary. His aged venerated friend and colleague, Dr. Clement C. Moore, with the Rev. Drs. Muhlenberg, McVickar, and others, were pall-bearers.
The Psalm was chanted by students led by one of his most favorite Alumni. The Rector and the professors [24/25] performed the solemn service. The Bishop delivered an Address of touching beauty, felt to be a perfect memorial in itself. His body reposed one night in St. Peter's; on the next night, met at New Haven by the Rev. Dr. Harwood the Rector, it was laid in Trinity church, where in the earlier history of the Seminary he had so often worshiped and preached; and on the 26th of December, after the repetition of solemn words of the service, in the presence of his sons and village friends assembled, it was consigned to its rest, at the side of his family monument, near his beloved wife and children, in the church-yard of St. Peter's church Cheshire, where the Rev. H. Bryant, the Rector, attended, and my own privileged hand reverently cast in "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
Such was his history. Turn now upon his traits and his labors.
As a man, Dr. Turner would have ranked high anywhere, and under almost all circumstances. He was so good, his intellect was so clear, his kindness so great, his intentions were so upright, his decisions so judicious, he was so capable, so diligent, so willing, that he was formed to secure a firm hold upon the esteem of those among whom he mingled, and to exert a wide and happy influence around him. He was singularly modest and unpretending, truthful and real; and though he was so kindly in general, his nature shrank so instinctively from pretension, disingenuousness, misstatements, or tricky argument, that here, if anywhere, he was wont to be severe, and to prove that his keen and ready wit, which played so gracefully and harmlessly, could sometimes sting where it alighted. Such was his aversion here, that demonstrative smartness, adroitness [25/26] and the like, favorably regarded by others, were apt to move his suspicion and mistrust.
In business he was exact and attentive. Punctuality he was careful to observe and to urge upon others as a principle; and often directed the students to Bishop White's memorable words concerning it. [* "Commentaries suited to occasions of Ordination," near the end.] His judgment generally, and in business matters, was very superior; his common sense, was great instinctively, and his nice, large and rapid power of comparison, gave him great advantage in coming to his conclusions. By the constitution of his mind he was nervously sensitive; and when a subject was suddenly and unpleasantly sprung, would at the start manifest uneasiness and impatience; but his firmness of principle, his amiable constructions, his habit of looking calmly at every matter all around, his truthfulness, very soon restored the equilibrium; and his decision and action were unaffected by his earliest attitude of suspicion or repugnancy. In his personal habits and his family arrangements he was plain and simple, yet liberal in providing; but in his charities he was lavish to a fault. His tender heart responded to the appeal of the sick, the poor, the miserable; and he was really unhappy when he could not meet the exaction or the necessity. He was very faithful in his friendships, and he secured friends who were steadfast and unforgetting. Though his habits were unexpensive, his position and his benevolence cost him much. One considerable item of expense was the publication of his volumes. Solid theology seldom pays its charges, save at long return; often it involves much loss, hardly ever brings gain. But it must always be ready for a large proportionate outlay at the beginning. There [26/27] should be in learned and literary institutions some provision of income to meet such necessity, either by advances of a loan or by a gift. I doubt not had liberal help been ready, the valuable contributions of Dr. Turner to the press had been doubled; certainly if admiring and loyal friends had exercised a liberality at all correspondent to their professed esteem, the large and elaborate volumes of our great Church theologian, Bishop White, all prepared for publication, would have enriched our libraries many years ago. [* See Memoirs of Bishop White, by the Rev. Bird Wilson, p. 305.] It is not too late for the Church to redeem its reputation in the one case or the other.
This naturally leads me to speak of the published writings of Dr. Turner. These were numerous, although he did not send out an original volume until he had reached the age of fifty-one. True, his miscellaneous contributions to the periodical literature of the Church were begun in the first years of his ministry; and were frequent in the earlier years of his Professorship--essays generally on difficult passages of scripture. All through his life he was in the habit of furnishing practical, doctrinal, and learned contributions to the weekly religious newspaper, to the monthly magazine, or to the weightier quarterly. The Protestant Churchman speaks of "these columns so often enriched by his gifted pen." To the Parish Visitor he sent simplest instructions, regularly contributed; which form a great portion of his excellent volume, entitled "the Teachings of the Master." Undoubtedly Essays collected from the Churchman's Magazine, the Gospel Advocate, the Theological Repertory, the Episcopal Observer, &c. would form a volume or two which would [27/28] be a valuable addition to our stores. He published, also, nine or ten sermons, and about as many occasional pamphlets. In 1824 he published Notes on the Epistle to the Romans, a large pamphlet intended as a manual for his class, now superseded by his larger comment. In 1827, associated in the work with the Rev. W. R. Whittingham, now Bishop of Maryland, be published a translation of Jahn's Introduction to the Old Testament, with notes additional, an octavo volume of six hundred pages. A volume of Biblical Essays, chiefly translations from the Latin and the German, in which three of his pupils, Eastburn, Schroeder, and Whittingham took part, was printed in 1829. In 1834 he published his translation from the German of Planck's Introduction to Sacred Philology and Interpretation, adding one hundred and twenty pages of original matter. In 1841 he published his work on the book of Genesis, replete with rare learning and acute observation, no common-place gathering from ordinary fields of comment. In 1847 his Biographical notices of some of the Jewish Rabbies appeared, showing that he had wandered into some remote and unusual paths of study and research. So in the course of years, but mainly after 1850, came on successively his greater critical commentaries on the Epistles to the Romans, Hebrews, Galatians, and Ephesians with his favorite work of parallel passages in Scripture, enlarged in his later volume, entitled "Spiritual things;" his celebrated essay on the sixth chapter of John, which, though often excepted to, he never considered as fairly taken up, or closely met, and as not at all refuted; his acute strictures, in 1851, on Archdeacon Wilberforce's work on the Incarnation, where his quick eye detected every slip of a writer not [28/29] at all exact. In 1852 he published a volume on Prophecy, which received high commendation, as singularly thoughtful, sagacious, and profound. His sketch of St. Paul's life and character in the imposing volume, "The Saviour with his Apostles and Prophets," edited by Bishop Wainwright and published by Appleton, furnishes a specimen of his power to succeed in the more ornate and eloquent style, when he saw fit to attempt it. The Chronicon of Eusebius closed the list; and he had several other works nearly ready for the press. Among his manuscripts, his full, exact, and elaborate exposition of Messianic texts; his large notes upon the Gospels; his notes upon the Epistles to the Corinthians, with other portions unfolded, and single difficult passages interpreted, besides many elaborate sermons, involving important discussions, with a memoir of certain passages of his personal theological history, must all combine to furnish much valuable material for future publication.
Although his volumes involved expense and sometimes loss, yet they were well rewarded with honorable fame, and were welcomed with more than ordinary acceptation. Important Reviews like the North American, and authors of reputation like T. Hartwell Horne, in England, and Dr. James Murdock, in America, with generally all the leading members of the Clergy and the Press, spoke of them in a gratifying way: "able, learned, lucid, candid, acute, full, masterly," such are the epithets they use: "discrimination, ripe scholarship, accuracy, unostentatious affluence, sound judgment, intimate acquaintance with German theology, but in no respects tainted by its neology," such are the expressions they indulge in. Nor was his reputation [29/30] only American, or even Anglican, but Continental also. The German scholars seldom refer to English expositors; but one of the latest elaborate productions of learned and prolific Germany, a Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, by Van Hengel, published in 1859, in Leipsic, in three octavo volumes, makes frequent references to Dr. Turner's name and writings; and it strikes the eye of our student pleasingly yet strangely as he reads the words "cum Griesbachio, Scholzio, Turnero legendum;" or "probatur Grotii, Bosweldii, Turneri sententia."
And his works richly deserve the praise. Great and careful study of the subject; wide reference to learned authors ancient and modern, scholars of Germany and England, and fullness of discourse, characterize them. A very quick eye to detect the various shades of meaning, a great good sense, and a clear manly statement; plain, honest and expressive words,--these were natural to him. He had a great dislike to what he conceived to be forced, gratuitous, or fantastic interpretations of Scripture. He had no patience with certain foreign visitant lecturers, who would draw a world of mysterious, unreasonable meanings out of an original Hebrew word, and chase them up in the Greek and Latin and English corresponding term besides. He said of a sermon he had just read, "it turned the Bible into riddles, and might prove any thing and nothing." In very reverence, he could not abide such an irreverent plaything made of holy Scripture. In his great distaste for this, he was thought by some to have gone occasionally too far, and to have included some sounder and warrantable interpretations. You may have seen, my brethren, the tree reflected in the placid waters [30/31] so perfectly, that each particular twig and leaf came out most clearly to the sight, more so in the image than in the object even. Again you may have seen, in the morning mist, just as it was passing off, that same reflection made dim and uncertain, yet beautified by the haze. With him it was the clear reflection. In his discourse there was no dreamy beauty of the mist, nor its uncertainty.
The learning of Professor Turner was not only large and various in the ordinary fields where divines are wont to travel; but some of it was rare and out of the common course. He was a member of the Oriental Society, interested in its discoveries, contributions, and labors, himself adding to its stores. He was fond of Rabbinic studies; and his memoirs of some of the leading Rabbies, show his interest in that direction. When he would consult the Samaritan text, the Syrian version, the Chaldee Paraphrase, the page of Maimonides, it was not to the translation, but to the original he referred. In my ignorance, I am not prepared to judge or speak of his acquirements here myself. But fortunately, his student friend, the Rev. Dr. Cruse, fond of the same studies, sharing his researches, and excelling in that very line, whose practiced eye interprets to us within the Seminary the unmanageable letter in Rabbinic or Arabian character, which Bohemian Rabbi, or Oriental wanderer may send along, has at my request furnished me with a well considered statement to this effect: "Dr. Turner first became acquainted with me thirty-two years since, being interested in the translation of Vater's Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldee Grammar, which I was then purposing to prepare for the press. He was then much engaged in the study [31/32] of the Oriental Dialects, Arabic and Syriac, together with the Chaldee and the Rabbinical Hebrew. He had already acquired sufficient knowledge of the German to make a translation of Planck's Philology. Of the cognate languages he attached most importance to the Rabbinical, chiefly for the sake of the Commentaries on the Hebrew of the Old Testament, e. g. Aben Ezra, Abarbanel, Kimchi, Jarchi. These he valued for the sole purpose of exegetical elucidation, and that not only of the Old Testament but of the New, the language of which might be called an Hebraistic Greek. In occasional consultation with him on the import of some passages, I was led to observe the accuracy of his construction. His reading in the Rabbinical was of course more enlarged than in other branches of the Semitic stock, simply because it was more available for the exegetical department. His own studies in all collateral branches were judiciously measured by the demands of his department; yet it is but just to remark that his proficiency in all was beyond the moderation of his pretensions. His object was practical."
I may mention here, in connection with his learning in Hebrew lore, that he took great interest in the Jews, in their history, and in their nation. In consequence, he either sought for individual Jews, or they sought for him; every Jewish convert seemed to find him out, and many a one has by him been liberally aided. When strangers of Israel invaded the retired premises in our beautiful and rural Seminary Square, it was for Dr. Turner they were looking; and their search was not unrewarded. He never forgot that St. Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews; that our blessed Redeemer was of Israel.
 Let us look now somewhat into his Doctrinal Theology. In taking his stand among the different classes of Ecclesiastical or doctrinal sentiment in the Church, and of an accordant policy, or perhaps I should say in having his place assigned him, Dr. Turner was found amongst those who are distinguished by the fortunate name of "Evangelical." Not that he followed party, or even those he admired, or accorded with, in any inconsiderate servility. He valued individual research, and came to his conclusion independently. But his lot was mainly cast with them; by them has he been always claimed; and with them most usually associated and identified. His conclusions, moderate and conservative as they might be, free from any radical extreme, generally fell on that side and not upon the other. And it is but justice to name it; for they whose views are sustained by one so wise and good, are entitled to the honor and the benefit--and both to all admeasurement of reciprocal results.
Dr. Turner was not an advocate of Calvinism. He often argues against it--often asserts its contradiction. Yet he holds not the views of Bishop White and of Faber, for he pronounces that "we cannot limit election and its kindred terms to the outward covenant relation, as members of Christ's visible Church." He applies them to the everlasting state of the saved. Neither does he present the Arminian scheme, that God in foreknowledge of man's good works, predestines the obedient to grace and glory. He represents Christ Himself as The One Elect, predestined in God's love to his Redeeming work, his victory and everlasting triumph--the one promised Seed; and his people simply regarded as in Him and of Him. But how they come [33/34] to be in Him, whether called because they loved, or loved because called, St. Paul does not say one word. Thus would he avoid the legal aspect of the Arminian, looking to the merit of the man; and yet would deny the interpretations of the Predestinarian. In his view, the predestination starts with the fact of being in Christ already, not of becoming his.
The great Atonement, through the Blood and Righteousness of Christ, was the spiritual fact and the truth which he held to be most signally important, the very substance and life of Christian Doctrine. This was most precious to his very soul; he lived upon it, even in the joy of that blessed word, "In Him we have Redemption through His blood;" and that Christ Jesus is "The Lord our Righteousness." The absolute necessity of the grace of God prevenient and co-operating all along, purchased by the precious blood of Christ, and freely offered and made available to man, was in his view a truth kindred to the other. And that man was guilty, depraved, lost, and utterly undone, capable of recovery only because of the love of the Father, through the Atonement of Christ, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, was to him a doctrine necessarily consequent; on the human side the very ground for the merciful interference. He regarded the Church of Christ, with its sacraments and services, as the great system of means of grace divinely provided for man's help and spiritual training. He held the Incarnation simply as necessary for the Atonement; the Son of God became man, that he might offer Himself up in that nature which had offended. This single view of the Incarnation did not bring in its positive virtue as the element by which our inferior nature is elevated to a diviner [34/35] level; nor recognize our farther engrafting into Christ's Body. Of course it did not bring in those sacramental ideas which come from the Incarnation of Christ considered as a basis for the quickening Spirit, the Resurrection life, and the more abundant entrance into the kingdom of glory. And so the Baptismal Regeneration, largely discoursed upon and strongly urged by his theological teacher, Bishop White, was not felt as a logical necessity in the scheme of his disciple. It would follow almost of course, that while he recognized the Order of the Church as Apostolic and primitive, and valued the advantage thus secured by our Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States as being on the old foundation, he would not be compelled to any severe conclusions in regard to bodies non-Episcopal.
As a Controversialist, Dr. Turner was able and successful, and bravely did he bear his banner up. Without venturing to pronounce upon the subjects of debate, it is evident that his firm confidence in his own view of the case, his plain, direct, unsophisticated manner of argument, and his strong conscientiousness, gave him great advantage with the reader. His information was so full, and his determinations were so exact, as to create the conviction that he had closely examined the subject, that he understood its details even to its minor points, and that he was contending not for victory, but for fact and truth. He was a dangerous opponent withal; for if any part was weak, his quick eye discovered it; if a bold or rash assertion was made, he was prompt to deny and ready to expose it; if the unfortunate divine tripped by quoting a passage or a word in a sense it could not justly bear, his critical acumen [35/36] saw the mistake; he wheeled around his parallel batteries, and brought up all the lines of counteraction, and after an exhausting conflict of argument, seldom gave the impression that it was a drawn battle. In a challenge of exact question of interpretation, or a challenge of wit, he came not off the second best.
His love of our Liturgy was very strong, and his spiritual tastes and habitual exercises gratefully moved along and among its prepared pathways and pastures. He ever took delight in conducting the public services of the Church; and while his health allowed, he assisted his clerical brethren, and the congregations within his reach, extensively. His reading of the Scriptures, the portion of the service he preferred to take, was very impressive and very striking. It was a comment in itself. We used to say in the Seminary, that if St. Paul could read his own Epistles to an audience, he would read them as Dr. Turner read them, knowing the meaning of every phrase, and the pregnancy of every word. In the Prayers he was very solemn and devout, and uttered them as with a spirit thoroughly engaged. "The beauty of his family devotions elicited expressions of admiration from brother clergymen." He mainly used the form in the Book of Common Prayer, often just as it is, and more frequently as a kind of framework, enlarging, varying, introducing, and adapting the petitions, "as need might require or occasion be given." His manner was very simple, reverent, spiritual.
As a Preacher, he spoke with distinct articulation and just emphasis, with much feeling and tenderness, and with more than usual animation. In smaller churches, where he could be easily heard, he was a decided favorite. [36/37] In the Seminary at New Haven, amongst the students, we rather thought there was no one like him. And amongst the students of the Seminary to the very last, his preaching was always welcome; and he was so revered, that with them it was almost as the voice of a prophet.
In the official life of the Seminary, he simply devoted himself to his special charge, his studies, and his classes. In cases of discipline, though considerate and kind, he was firm. In his intercourse with the Professors he was cautious and courteous. If he conceived that duty summoned him in some peculiar case to interfere, or if opposing views brought even Professors into collision, he was resolute but respectful. He had no spirit of the agitator. In all the twelve years of my own residence in the Seminary, each Professor has been perfectly independent in his own sphere, attending conscientiously to his own department, and keeping within his own lines. No one was more sensitive of official interference, and no one could be more careful to avoid it, than he. Thus our Seminary life has been free and independent; and we all genial, friendly, and loving together.
In the grand question and struggle which is now agonizing our noble country, Dr. Turner was a firm adherent to the Union. He deemed those who would violate its integrity greatly in the wrong. It is not unusual to point to some eminent and religious leader in our Church, who has sustained and glorified the opposing cause, and claim for his voice almost prophetic sanction. Well may we point to his words and to his example. He said to me, "Have you seen that letter from Virginia? Why, it is wrong in its facts; and if [37/38] the facts were so, it is wrong in its conclusions." The type of Dr. Turner's saintliness was a better one than that of any man of fierce extremes. There was more in it of the "gentleness of Christ;" more truth, more love in it. I should look for the true echo of the voice of God far more in his pure, calm, firm decision and expression, than in the inflexible iron will and hero voice of the other.
In the work of the Church in its various departments Dr. Turner was always interested, especially in that of its Missions. He took every opportunity of encouraging missionary feeling and movement amongst the students of the Seminary. He was a zealous advocate of Foreign Missions as well as Domestic. For eighteen years, he was a member of the Foreign Committee of our Missionary Board;--an attentive, engaged, working and liberal member. The Committee testify of him "as one who habitually presided over our deliberations, in whose right-mindedness and impartiality we could always confide, and whose dignified simplicity made him revered as well as beloved: and as one who exhibited always the truest zeal for the Missionary work, whose counsels were always wise, his measures discreet, and his policy just and clear."
I have not made mention of his tastes so cultivated and refined; his passion for music, at once his exquisite enjoyment, and his solace and repose. Neither have I dwelt upon his taste for the beauty and finish of Nature and of Art. He knew how to appreciate the landscape, the gem, and the master's hand. His Library was rich and rare and large; selected and gathered with long, careful, and liberal endeavor. Oh! to see the noble library, the fine product of years of [38/39] anxious gathering; and to know that it rests in its solitude, and that the great scholar who owned it will look at it, will handle it no more--that fills the student's heart with sadness and foreboding!
Several likenesses of Dr. Turner are in the possession of the family. His portrait, painted by the artist Huntington, adorns our Seminary walls--a sacred treasure, by the side of the portrait of the meek and holy Dr. Bird Wilson, and not far from that of Dr. Clement C. Moore, whose venerable and venerated form still moves among us--three Professors of our Institution, each worthy of the others and of it, long associated there as scholars, divines, and Christians, in the great and blessed duty of preparing candidates of the ministry for their high and solemn work. We lose our faithful and beloved fathers; but say, brethren of the clergy, and fellow Alumni, have we not been blessed, have we not been honored, to have had them?
But enough. When man's solid character and worth come to the test, if the word be given, 'sweep away the merely speculative and the language; sweep away the merely emotional and the poetry; strip off the harness, the setting, the circumstantial; scatter the mist, the haze, the unreal,' how little will be left of some whom man makes much of. But with him, so modest, so true, so real, we all abide in the firm belief that the gracious residuum of faith, and wisdom, and sanctified fruit, will be abounding.
My brethren, I have done. I have detained you long, and I fear that I have not succeeded well in doing justice to my theme. I loved my departed friend, and my reverence was equal to my love. I felt a kind of gratified emotion in having this sacred duty assigned [39/40] to me. I thought it was as level to my powers, as it was congenial to my heart. But I have hardly found it so. I have strangely lingered and brooded over what I deemed my blessed task, with a kind of paralyzed endeavoring. And in the work, if grace survived, yet nature has consciously drooped and failed. But if his exquisite worth is appreciated, if his honors are all untarnished, if his name and labors are gratefully distinguished, if his sterling works live and are widely studied, enshrined and multiplied, to be a treasure to those who come after; if those who love him and are of him can pardon and allow my offering; above all, if our glorious Redeemer's name be sanctified, I have no more to seek. Though this memorial be least, seldom has a subject been one so worthy of the best.