PREACHED IN TRINITY CHURCH
ON SUNDAY, JULY 23d, 1893
SUNDAY FOLLOWING THE FUNERAL SERVICES OF
RICHARD TYLDEN AUCHMUTY
SENIOR WARDEN OF THE PARISH
WILLIAM M. GROSVENOR
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
EPHESIANS vi. 10.
THE most striking characteristic both of the life and the writings of St. Paul is strength. When the gospel of Jesus Christ enters consciously into the heart and life of a man, it always finds certain elements of character with which it has to work. The marvelous thing about the truth of Christ is its capacity of reaching people of such varying traits, and of transforming such different natures into the same image. When the faith of Jesus came to this man Saul, it found a nature that was essentially vigorous. It was not an impulsive nature, but, as St. Paul himself described it, it was zealous. Christ never destroyed personality, He uplifted and transformed it. That blind, ignorant zeal was simply made intelligent, Christly zeal. All the strength remained, but was purified [3/4] and rightly directed. The conversion did not replace vigor with inefficiency, boldness with timidity, zeal with lukewarmness. Christ came to him and claimed him as His own. The soldier of the high priest was no less a soldier when he became the soldier of Jesus Christ. All the strength that he before expended in the service of the synagogue and the temple, he needed and he used with greater need and larger use in the service of his Lord. So as we read the story of his Christian life and the testimony of his epistles, we find that thread of sterling strength running clearly through them all. The Christian life was no weak, aesthetic sentiment. To be a disciple and apostle of the Master meant much more than sweetness and light. It meant conflict, battle, vigorous antagonisms, sturdy independence, always the cross of sacrifice. Whether it was the personal inward life of the man himself, he found it was through much tribulation that he entered into the realization of the kingdom of heaven; or the outward life of the Church, it was through anxious care and bitter persecution that victory was achieved. Both the [4/5] outward and the inward life was branded, burnt, with the stigmata of the Lord Jesus. Every experience, into which Christ led him, called out and tested to the utmost his strength. Let us look at some of St. Paul's words and deeds that reveal elements of this strength of his.
First of all, will-power. Pauline theology is the storehouse of the theology of the will. That ego, the I, that which looks in upon itself and finds the two laws warring on the battlefield of its life; the "I" that would and could not, that ought and must and did not and did; that cried out, "O wretched man," and then in the next breath, "I thank God through Jesus Christ;" the will that wrestled with a rebellious nature, that stood like a rock, and withstood St. Peter to the face because he was to be blamed; that outfaced the Ephesian mob, and went boldly into the temple in the very teeth of an angered, priest-incited populace--that will certainly was at the basis of all the after strength.
And St. Paul was also the apostle of the conscience. "And herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offense [5/6] toward God and toward man." Conscientiousness was an essential element of his strength. The conscience was the law of God written in the mind and heart. This belonged to all men, for "the Gentiles . . . having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness [or better, confirming by its testimony], and their thoughts accusing or perhaps excusing." So the will in this apostle, strong as it was, found its true freedom when it became the servant of a sensitive conscience that was always alive to every movement of the will of God.
The third element of St. Paul's strength was his intense activity. He was not restless. He did not merely fly about accomplishing nothing, but one marvels at the vast amount of actual work crowded into that busy life. The most casual glance at the events of his life, as given us, reveals an almost bewildering variety and rapidity of work; and then we are reminded that much is left unrecorded, that the details of whole periods of his life are unknown to us. To be a missionary alone, or [6/7] a theologian, or a great author, or to have the care of all the churches, one would imagine, were enough for any man; but when we add the four together, and see him working at his trade of tent-making that he might be free from charge to the Church, then in some vague way we realize the work he did. It is sometimes strength to sit still; the years in Arabia and that breathing time of the imprisonments at Rome were rich in precious results. But theory held simply as theory; feeling, sentiment, motive, purpose, held closely within themselves, are always weak, like the useless tears shed over some hero of fiction. To become strong they must be spoken or written or done, or, best of all, they must be lived. That which was given to the mind and heart of the Apostle was never selfishly held, but was forthwith used for the uplifting of the world.
There is another element in this strength of the Apostle--gentleness. It is he who writes the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the wondrous psalm of love. It is the manly, vigorous missionary, who had known life on every side, and had forced his way through [7/8] obstacles mountain high, who, in touching entreaty, writes Philemon in behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus, whose cause he makes his own. "If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself." "If he hath wronged thee or oweth thee ought, put that on my account."
Power of will, conscientiousness, activity, gentleness, these contributed to his strength; but, after all, the true source of that strength was found in his faith. It is never the negative life that is strong. To find an abiding strength we must find truth and hold it. The men who have profound and positive convictions are alone able to pass through the impeding obstacles of life and win the real battle. But faith to St. Paul is a most simple thing. It is a deep, childlike trust in God; the absolute confidence that God had claimed his total life, and that all he was he must give to God. It was faith that molded, inspired, and mastered him. In the earlier days of ignorance his zeal had been misdirected, but still it was faith that led him on. When Christ revealed Himself as the risen Lord, all this deep and [8/9] rich trustfulness, this intensity of service, was laid at the Master's feet. His faith in Christ was a fire kindled, burning ever more and more, till it seemed to consume him. Christ became each day closer and closer to him, until assent became conviction, and conviction became identification. "I live, and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The turbulent will was slowly mastered by Jesus. Christ was the guide of conscience. Christ was the reason for and the inspiration of every effort, and the love of Christ so constrained him that he became gentle toward all men.
"Be strong in the Lord." These words have connected themselves very closely in my mind with the life that has gone out of our midst this past week. Those who knew him through long years of intimate friendship will say of Colonel Auchmuty what I cannot. Other tributes to that life have been and will be paid, and they will be much more worthy and just than I can hope to give. I come into this presence to-day only with the memories that have grown out of the intimate relations of my three years' rectorship in Lenox; but those [9/10] memories are so precious, and Colonel Auchmuty permitted me to come so closely to him, that I must bring my tribute, and bear witness to the value of his life.
The qualities of manhood and of Christly character, found supremely in the lives of the saints of old, are in lesser degree seen perpetuating themselves in the lives of modern disciples of the Master. The type persists all through the ages, varying in degree. Colonel Auchmuty's characteristic seems to me to have been strength. His was no weak, sentimental life, lived easily in refined vacuities. There was in him, long before his country called him to her aid, the soldier spirit. There was will power, vigorous, forceful, brave. He feared no foe. He evaded no issue. He was unmoved by cajolement or flattery or intimidation. Like the rocks of New England, he could endure. The whole body of trade unionism could never thwart him. He was their truest friend, but they did not know it. Their ignorance was a spur to his tenacity. Having put his hand to the plow, he never turned back. So to every cause to which he gave his heart, he became a tower of strength.
 Many men have missed the true source of this will power of his. It was always the servant of a supreme conscientiousness. Never have I met a man more thoroughly conscientious. Everything that came to him was at once lifted out of the region of the non-essential, and was given an ethical value. I do not suppose there is a man among us who more often asks himself, as he did, Is this right? Is it my duty? And that once settled, the matter was ended, The conscience directed the will, and the thing was done. We clergy often see the deeper, richer sides of men's natures. We enter into the holy place in men's lives; into the court that lies just without the holy of holies where only the great high priest can go. The real man is found not in the misjudged outward form, but in the essential spirit. No man ever walked among these hills, or trod the streets of the great metropolis, with a truer heart and a higher sense of duty than he whom we commemorate to-day.
These powers of his life were never allowed to be idle. The theory became fact. The sense of duty always issued in deed. His [11/12] was a most busy life. It need not have been. Therein lies much of its glory. It was hard work, but all for others. It was not content to write books or magazine articles, or propound panaceas, about this greatest of modern questions, the relations of labor to our social and industrial work. He did not sit in his home and discuss these great issues of American life; he went down into the arena, took hold of every most knotty detail, and has offered the best solution I have yet seen. Teach men how to support themselves, and then give them a fair and free field to work in. The easiest way of satisfying our conscientious qualms about the poor is to throw a loaf of bread to the hungry, or a coin to the beggar. But in that way the problem is untouched. The hunger will return, and the begging be perpetual. Help men to help themselves. Give men not a cup of water only, but show them where they will find a spring. Colonel Auchmuty did that for the workingman, and then, when the tyranny of the unions cut off all freedom of work, his conscience was all afire with duty, and his will all ablaze with determination. He fought the [12/13] battle of freedom once more, not this time for the slave of the South, but for the boys of America who might soon be made slaves. He was the champion of the dignity and the rights of labor, and with practical and forceful effort he led the way toward its emancipation. Organization, whether of capital or of labor, he did not oppose, but against the tyranny of either his protest was hurled.
There was in Colonel Auchmuty's strength gentleness. He was thoroughly democratic, with all the quiet dignity of the true gentleman. He was too genuine to be superficially pretentious; too modest to be supercilious; too confident of his manhood to be afraid of knowing any honest man. There was withal a gentleness about him that was high born and utterly unconscious of self; a sweetness of humor behind the vigor, which drew all who felt it very closely toward him. Nothing could have been more gentle and considerate than many things he has done for me, and never will I forget some of those conversations which I have had at his bedside, when the deep conscientiousness and the profound modesty [13/14] made him at times almost morbidly introspective. Life meant so much to him, that he knew his shortcomings. His ideal was so high, that attainment seemed far off.
Energy of will, intense conscientiousness, constant activity, gentleness of heart, all these made up his strength, but could never account for it. Through them all there was deep faith.
It is characteristic of the piety of the Church that it is essentially modest and retiring. Sometimes it is not demonstrative enough. The effusive, emotional nature that thinks true religion must always assert itself in noisy proclamation, or prove itself in officious questioning of others' faith, is apt to doubt the piety of the man who wishes to walk humbly with his God. Colonel Auchmuty was a simple-hearted Christian. He was by inheritance and conviction a strong, broad-minded, consistent Churchman. He believed in the Church of Christ, in its divine foundation, in its orders, its sacraments, its works. He knew what he believed, and had a reason for the faith that was in him. He honored all good men. He respected every true and loyal effort. He found what we all seek [14/15] to attain--the possibility of holding "the faith once delivered to the saints " with a broad and tolerant respect for those who differ from us. He was ever ready to give of his thought, his time, his prayers, his money, for the many interests to which she called him. His faith uttered itself in action; and his service to the parish of his fathers, and to the church among his loved Berkshire hills, was most valuable and unremitting. Behind all that he did, there was always a deep personal religion. His faith was not content with action: it was first of all the standing in the presence of his God, and then the going out from that presence into the world.
We can ill afford to lose such men to-day. Whatever may have been true of the earlier New England life, we have lost much of that stern vigor, that forcefulness of will that achieves so much that is of value in our world. The thoroughly conscientious men who will sacrifice policy to duty, pleasure to right, comfort to laborious work, they are not so abundant. We are slowly coming to the condition of things that has for some time obtained in other lands. [15/16] There exists, and is growing up, among us a large leisure class. Let me remind you that professional and business work is not the only work to be done in this world of infinite opportunity. We are entering into times full of anxious problems, of many and ever enlarging needs. Your life and mine are set in the very center of ever multiplying possibilities. The world is calling for your work. Colonel Auchmuty's life may give you here great inspiration.
The late Earl of Derby was a man of very large fortune, and of great versatility and energy. Archdeacon Farrar, in pronouncing his eulogy this spring, quoted as characteristic of the man some words which, as Lord Rector of Glasgow, Derby had addressed to the students. I repeat them from the archdeacon's address. He urged upon them work and manly social usefulness as true elements of rational happiness. "What is the secret," he asked, "of the low amusements, the pleasure which is not pleasure, with which so many unhappy men contrive at once to waste and to shorten their lives? They are merely the resources to get rid of the intolerable weariness of unemployed [16/17] existence. Whether the bent of a man's mind be study or business, let him throw himself heartily into it. I do not believe that an unemployed man, however amiable and otherwise irreproachable, ever was or ever can be really happy. Our work is our life; it is the best preventive of vicious tastes; it is also the best preventive against petty anxieties, and the annoyances which arise out of indulged self-love. . . . I think a scrupulous and high-minded man, and especially if he be wealthy, will always feel that to pass out of the world in the world's debt, to have consumed much and produced nothing, to have sat down, as it were, at the feast and gone away without paying the reckoning, is not--to put it in the mildest way--a satisfactory transaction." Take to yourselves, young men, these words of a rich man who need have done nothing, and the living example of him whom, in the midst of his great usefulness, God has taken to his heavenly home.
Jesus Christ, and faith in Him as your living Master, will help you "to work while it is day," and be ready for the night that cometh when earthly work is done.