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´╗┐Title: Memorial of Mrs. Lucy Gilpatrick Marsh delivered June 22, 1868.
Author: Thompson, A. C.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Memorial of Mrs. Lucy Gilpatrick Marsh delivered June 22, 1868." ***

Transcriber's Notes: Words in italics in the original are surrounded by
_underscores_. A row of asterisks represents a thought break.



                     MRS. LUCY GILPATRICK MARSH.

                          A FUNERAL ADDRESS
                        MONDAY, JUNE 22, 1868.


                      REV. A. C. THOMPSON, D.D.

                        CITY MISSION SOCIETY.

                          GOULD AND LINCOLN,
                        59 WASHINGTON STREET.


When the Lord removed his servant Moses, there was but one mourner, and
that mourner was all Israel. To-day a whole community is the mourner. A
mother--may I not say, _the_ mother--in Israel has been taken from us. A
woman, a whole woman, an aged woman, a thoroughly Christian woman,--one
worthy to have sat with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary "over against
the sepulchre," to have returned with them, that she might assist in
preparing sweet spices, and, when the Sabbath was past, to have come
back again to the tomb,--is herself to be laid away to-day. We glance at
her career and character.

It is of small moment where she was born,--it was in the town of
Biddeford, Maine; of small moment that it was on July 3d, 1792; of small
moment that she was the youngest of twelve children, none of whom now
survive. But it is a point of interest to us, that, when a little past
twenty years of age, she became by renewing grace a child of God; that
the chief reason for leaving home, fifty years ago, was a persistent
opposition, on the part of friends, to her Christian activity; that
afterwards she left for a time her field of usefulness in this city to
attend upon her mother in her last sickness, and then had the
satisfaction of rejoicing over the conversion of that parent at the same
age she has now herself departed this life. Still later, and under the
same circumstances, she performed a similar kind service for her father
in his closing sickness, and was cheered by the hope of his conversion
too, when just verging upon fourscore. Being in Biddeford at that time
for ten months, she established a female prayer-meeting, and several
conversions followed. She also, after much opposition, opened a Sabbath
school, having obtained permission to occupy a school-house, but at the
same time being forbidden to use wood belonging to the town. That, it
was supposed, would prevent the attendance of children. But the noble
woman was not to be baffled thus. In her own arms she carried fuel from
her house. Of course the Sabbath school was a success.

She had previously had tempting offers, to the extent even of the
homestead to be secured to her, if she would remain there; but
Providence, as she believed, evidently called her to Christian labors in
this city, and to her mind that was decisive. Pecuniary considerations
might not divert her from the Master's service here. How far from a
sinecure was that! While acting indefatigably as matron of a reformatory
institution, she attended the prayer-meetings of the church to which she
belonged, and a private devotional meeting preparatory to each of them.
In addition to her regular Sabbath-school exercise, she once a week
taught a class of colored children, and spent Saturday afternoons in
visiting members of the same, besides paying weekly visits to persons in
the House of Correction.

One of the senior members of this church hands me, by request, the
following memorandum:[Footnote: Rev R. Anderson, D.D.]--

"I have known Mrs. Marsh since the year 1820, or about forty-eight
years. In that year I came to Boston from the Andover Seminary, with
several classmates, to spend a vacation in missionary labors, and made
my home at a religious boarding-house, kept by Miss Witham and Miss
Gilpatrick. As I recollect Miss Gilpatrick,--and I well recollect
her,--she was the same sort of a Christian woman then that we have known
her to be of late years, only without that grand development, which time
and the grace of God have given her, placing her among the more
remarkable Christian women of her generation. Miss Witham was married,
not long after, to the Rev. Amos Bingham, brother of the missionary,
and, at a later period, Miss Gilpatrick was married to the Rev.
Christopher Marsh, pastor of the Congregational Church in West Roxbury.
For several years before her marriage she had filled a responsible
station in one of the most self-denying departments of the religious
charities in Boston; and always, as I have understood, with the
unbounded confidence of those who knew her, in her ability, integrity,
and devotedness to the cause of her Redeemer, and in her unwearied
efforts for the salvation of those placed under her care. Since that
time she has been a striking illustration of an humble, devoted,
self-denying, intelligent, useful follower of the Lord Jesus."

       *       *       *       *       *

What might be expected of such a one as parishioner? Just what her
pastor at Jamaica Plain,[Footnote: Rev A. H. Quint, D.D.] and other
friends there testify. The church in that place, then struggling into
existence, was not a little indebted to her. It was her constant
endeavor to promote sociability in the congregation; she made it an
invariable practice to call on all new-comers, and to request others to
do the same. Never did she, except under necessity, absent herself from
church meetings, nor omit to speak a kind word and also a faithful word
to those whom she met, when suitable occasions presented. Her spirit and
ways were peculiarly motherly. During her residence here, I have never
looked upon her as a parishioner so much as a colleague, my senior, and
one that may well be accounted a model.

       *       *       *       *       *

What might be expected of such a one as pastor's wife? I indulge in no
vague and conjectural portrait-painting, nor yield to any professional
bias, but give the deliberate judgment of those acquainted, and
qualified to speak. In the delicate relation now referred to, she was
greatly beloved at West Roxbury;[Footnote: 1831-1850.] her life there
was that of a missionary laboring in the by-ways for miles around. It
was very much owing to her truly self-denying and most energetic
efforts, that a place of worship was built, for which, as for the
communion service, she solicited funds. She collected the Sabbath
school, and for a time superintended it herself. She gathered a female
prayer-meeting, and a meeting of mothers, both of which she sustained
almost unaided. Her kind attentions to the sick and afflicted, to the
aged and the young, were unwearied.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1838, the Rev. Mr. Marsh, finding his health improved, was invited
to settle again over the church in Sanford, Me., where he had first been
a pastor. Soon after, there began a remarkable work of grace in that
town, and during the short ministry there, till death closed her
husband's labors, Mrs. Marsh toiled and prayed, and rejoiced over a
spiritual harvest. It is not too much to say there will be weeping
throughout the town of Sanford, where these remains are to be taken,
when the news of her decease shall reach the place. What she was as a
mother, faithful and tender, there are those present who can testify.

What now might be expected of one, with such a character and such
antecedents, on becoming our city missionary? Precisely what we delight
to record of her. In September, 1861, she began that labor amongst us.
Singular devotedness, fidelity, and good judgment have marked her whole
ministry here. Not long since she mentioned to a friend that she had
taken this passage for her daily resting-place,--"Be careful for
nothing." Of nothing that pertained to herself--ease, strength, or
health--was she careful. The cause of the poor, and those spiritually
perishing, she made her own. She gathered, and chiefly maintained, two
or more series of weekly prayer-meetings, and a mother's meeting; she
taught a Bible-class in the mission Sabbath school; and that school, by
their tearful presence, now attest the deep regard which they entertain
for her.

       *       *       *       *       *

A sewing school, during the colder season, was one favorite method of
usefulness. The first intimation of her coming in was the signal of a
general brightening of faces, and her smiles, bestowed upon all, gave
fullest satisfaction. While interested in providing employment for each
scholar during the session, her chief thought seemed to be, "How can I
benefit these immortal souls?" To the utmost would she strive to win
their attention to God's Word, to a hymn, or valuable story. Though
coming to the school, often weary with labors elsewhere, she would still
listen with great patience to the many questions asked, and would bear
up cheerfully under the multiplied cares of the hour.

But her chief vocation was to visit from house to house. Go out with her
into the region assigned. It is no fancy sketch that I draw. Those who
have accompanied Mrs. Marsh supply the materials, if not the colors. In
her walks through by-ways, after her character had become manifest,
words of greeting would everywhere meet her from the little child and
from older persons. The young were drawn to her, and for all she had a
kind word and a wise word. In the sick-room her presence acted like a
charm; the languid eye would brighten, and the name of Jesus was sure to
be whispered in the ear. It was as easy for her to pray to our heavenly
Father as to speak to any friend; her prayers were earnest, simple,
confiding, and appropriate to the occasion and the person.

       *       *       *       *       *

Her peculiar field presents phases quite varied, and which quite
decisively test character. The concurrent testimony of those who have
been associated with Mrs. Marsh more or less intimately, and have seen
her in the different departments of Christian work, is that they cannot
name a fault in her; that they have been deeply impressed with her
singular fitness for such service; that they have found her always calm
and collected; that she never seemed surprised at any scene of
destitution, or any amount of complaint poured into her patient ear;
that she showed herself forbearing and sympathizing, yet watchful and
decided; and that, if occasion required,--as occasion sometimes did
require,--they found she could be stern.

She understood human nature well; character seemed to lie open to her
eye. Attempts at concealment or deceit were almost always futile. One
had need be master of chicanery to impose upon her.

Very few here know what courage there was in that heart. Never otherwise
than womanly, never weakly feminine, she exhibited, when there was need,
true heroism, a masculine daring of benevolence. She never boasted,--no
truly courageous person is ever boastful,--she seldom spoke of what she
had done; but there are persons living who know somewhat of a history,
in former years especially, that shows the highest style of undaunted,
self-forgetting intrepidity.

Another characteristic of Mrs. Marsh--and far from being
unimportant--was her habit of great exactness in making a written record
of articles sent in for gratuitous distribution, and in keeping a
detailed account, even to every two-cent purchase, from her "Poor's
Purse," which was entirely separate from the mission treasury.

       *       *       *       *       *

Her industry was remarkable. It was not fragmentary, occasional,
spasmodic; but maintained month by month, year after year, in heat and
cold, in rain, snow, and tempest, in weariness, and often in great
discomfort walking a long way from her home that she might minister to
those in need. After visiting thus from house to house all day, she has
frequently sewed till the neighborhood of midnight preparing garments
for the destitute. If there are any two stars symbolizing activity and
perseverance, it must have been under their conjunction that she was
born. Growing old and growing indolent had no affinity in her. It should
be borne in mind that almost the whole of this good work amongst us has
been performed on borrowed time, since the period of three-score and ten
had been reached,--a period which by universal consent is allowed and is
usually taken for repose, for remission of all laborious effort. At the
hour of her decease last Saturday morning, Mrs. Marsh lacked only
thirteen days of being seventy-six.

Look at her record for the last year only. Besides being almoner of
other comforts and delicacies for the sick and destitute, she
distributed more than one thousand two hundred garments and other
articles to the needy; more than two thousand religious tracts, papers,
books, and the like; and made rising of three thousand visits; which,
owing to lameness, was a number less by one thousand than that of the
year previous.

It should be stated that in early life her constitution and her health
seemed not to be firm; and that frequently her toils have been
prosecuted amidst no small amount of weakness and even suffering. Hers
is one of the cases going to show that nothing conduces more to
longevity than benevolent industry.

It should also be stated that this perseverance in Christian toil did
not stand connected with personal necessities. Children had urged her to
withdraw from these labors, and at more than one of their homes is an
apartment called "Mother's Room," which has for years stood waiting for
her. Loyalty to the Master demanded, as she believed, that all remaining
strength should, no less than in former years, be devoted to him. Her
life was, to its close, a protest against the prevailing spirit of
self-indulgence. Though fully aware that the hour of departure hastened
on, she could not bring herself to the pitiful work of merely saving her
own soul. There are certain of woman's rights which she strenuously yet
modestly vindicated,--her right to quiet benevolent activity, her right
to be a ministering angel. You may have noticed that trees and plants,
when they feel the approach of decay, sometimes seem to hasten their
fruitage just at the last. She was aware that her time was short, and
she hastened to make the most of it. And it would be an important
omission if the statement were not made that in her views of duty and in
her Christian sympathies there was no narrowness. This work of city
evangelization was no pet employment. It proceeded from genuine
principle, which is always expansive and liberalizing. Her heart went
out with special interest to the Home Missionary Society, and yet more
toward the foreign fields of the American Board.

       *       *       *       *       *

Had our deceased friend the weakness--the comparatively pardonable
weakness of vanity? Had the characteristic infirmity of old age come
upon her,--a fondness for recounting earlier or more recent labors and
successes? From what has been said, you who are strangers to her would
hardly expect it, for you have noticed that it is the lighter ears of
grain that hold their heads highest, and wave about most freely. Mrs.
Marsh was a branch so laden with fruit as to hang low; she was clothed
with humility. She sat at the Master's feet. She did not talk about
meekness or modesty,--she illustrated them. Moses probably did not know
how his face shone as he came down from the mount; our friend seemed not
to know how radiant hers was with benevolence; nor how busy were her own
feet in errands of kindness. All agree in testifying that this grace of
humility shed a sweet, calm lustre over all her other virtues. The only
one's faithfulness that she hesitated to speak of was her own; her
uniform estimate of herself was, "I am an unprofitable servant." Who
ever suspected her of vainglory? Who will say that she was not
accustomed to give all glory and praise to God?

This quality was too genuine to admit of a sombre tinge. There seemed to
be no trace of false spirituality. She exhibited a fine combination of
cheerfulness and seriousness. In fact, she had no time for despondency
about herself or others. Heart, lips, and hands were too full of
something else to admit of moodiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Marsh had often expressed a desire that, if it pleased God, she
might not outlive active usefulness; that she might die in the harness,
might die here amongst us. When two years ago a city missionary in
Boston[Footnote: Deacon Wilder.] died suddenly, she said she would like
to go in the same way. God has substantially gratified her wish.

Now, in all the relations at which we have glanced, and positions as
daughter, as head of a family, as head of a charitable institution, as
private church-member, as a helpmeet for a Christian minister, and as
city missionary, she exhibited the highest order of conscientiousness,
and of consecration to God. Have you ever known one who walked more
nearly in the steps of our Lord and Saviour, one who did less to please
self? Do you recall an acquaintance who appeared to act less from
impulse, or more uniformly from an abiding sense of duty, in all
quietness and steadfastness doing with her might what the hands found to
do? A friend, who has known her intimately for forty years, states,--"I
never knew Mrs. Marsh lukewarm or with a cold heart. Her life has been a
chain of well doing all along, without one breakage."

       *       *       *       *       *

The impression with us is deep, that the character of our deceased
friend was in its type a very uncommon one; that by the grace of God it
attained to a moral grandeur seldom witnessed. Such concentration, such
unselfishness, such devout persistency in endeavors to honor our Lord
Jesus Christ raise her to a lofty level.

We would institute no comparison between her and the votaries of
fashion,--the frivolous, selfish beings, whose thoughts centre chiefly
on personal accomplishments and position. "She that liveth in pleasure
is dead while she liveth." But for a moment bring to mind those of a
more elevated grade, who, by the pen, the pencil, or in the departments
of sculpture and music, minister to ├Žsthetic enjoyment, and the mental
improvement of a community. Select, if you please, one who attained to
the same age with our departed friend, a woman of undoubted talents, of
unimpeached morals, the most distinguished tragic actress that England
ever produced, and who was applauded to the skies. Let Sarah Kemble
Siddons march grandly up that aisle. Ah, to what nothingness does she
shrivel in the presence of this heavenly woman, around whom the light of
the cross and the glories of eternity gather! Let the present Roman
Pontiff, born the same year with this humble city missionary, enter in
all his regalia; how does his triple crown grow dim before the crown of
righteousness that adorns her head!

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten days ago, at the last meeting of the Eliot City Mission Society,
Mrs. Marsh, in view of failing strength, sent in her resignation. A
committee were appointed to wait upon her, and convey an expression of
the general appreciation in which she and her labors are held. They have
as yet had no opportunity to do so. They are now present, and will
briefly perform the duty assigned them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beloved Friend,--"beloved Persis, who hast labored much in the
Lord,"--we speak in behalf of ourselves, and we speak in behalf of
multitudes. A church to whom you are endeared, a missionary association
bearing an apostolic name, an affectionate and indebted Sabbath school,
who are here at this hour, a whole section of our city, many scores of
sick-rooms,--German mothers, Holland mothers, mothers from England and
Scotland,--bid us say, We all respect you, we love you, we thank God for
your coming amongst us. Your prayers have strengthened us; your wise and
motherly ministrations have relieved us. The very stones of this rocky
place have been worn to smoothness by your busy footsteps. The very dust
of our streets is hallowed. Tears fall apace; yet we praise the Lord
that there remaineth a rest for his people.

                 "Rest, weary head;
     Lie down to slumber in the peaceful tomb;
     Light from above has broken through its gloom;
     Here in the place where once thy Saviour lay,
     Where he shall wake thee on a future day,--
     Like a tired child upon its mother's breast,--
                 Rest, sweetly rest.

                 "Rest, spirit free,
     In the green pastures of the heavenly shore,
     Where sin and sorrow can approach no more;
     With all the flock by the Good Shepherd fed,
     Beside the streams of life eternal led,
     Forever with thy God and Saviour blest,
                 Rest, sweetly rest."

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Memorial of Mrs. Lucy Gilpatrick Marsh delivered June 22, 1868." ***

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