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Title: John Chambers - Servant of Christ and Master of Hearts and His Ministry in Philadelphia
Author: Griffis, William Elliot
Language: English
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   Verbeck of Japan; A Citizen of No Country. A Story of Foundation
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     Japan, in History, Folk-lore, and Art. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)

   In the Mikado's Service. A Story of Two Battle Summers in China.
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                          AMERICAN HISTORY.

   The Romance of Discovery; A Thousand Years of Exploration and
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   The Romance of American Colonization. How the Foundations of Our
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   John Chambers, and His Ministry in Philadelphia. 1 vol. 8vo.
     Pp. 172, with two portraits, index, etc. Price, one dollar,
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   Sunny Memories of Three Pastorates, in (Schenectady, Boston, and
     Ithaca), with a Selection of Sermons and Essays. 1 vol. Illust.
     Price, $1. Ithaca, N. Y. (Andrus & Church.)


   The Lily Among Thorns. A Study of the Biblical Drama Entitled,
     "The Song of Songs." (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)

                            JOHN CHAMBERS




  [Illustration: JOHN CHAMBERS.

  About 1873.]

                            JOHN CHAMBERS





                REV. WM. ELLIOT GRIFFIS, D.D., L.H.D.

                   HOMES", "VERBECK OF JAPAN", Etc.

                            ITHACA, N. Y.
                           ANDRUS & CHURCH

                           COPYRIGHT, 1903
                           ANDRUS & CHURCH

                               PRESS OF
                           ANDRUS & CHURCH
                            ITHACA, N. Y.


                            PSALM CXXXIII

    Behold how good and how pleasant it is
        For brethren to dwell together in unity!

    It is like the precious ointment upon the head,
        That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard:
            That went down to the skirts of his garments:

    As the dew of Hermon,
        And as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:
    For there the Lord commanded the blessing,
                    Even life forevermore.


                         ALL MY FELLOW ALUMNI

                              MEMBERS OF


                           OF PHILADELPHIA






                     I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK


John Chambers was one of the first among popular preachers of the
nineteenth century in Philadelphia, and the pastor for fifty years of
one congregation.

Not alone to delight those with vivid memories, who knew, loved and
honored John Chambers, have I undertaken this work of filial piety,
but to tell to young men of to-day the story of a consecrated,
strenuous, and successful life, the secret of which was self-conquest
and strength in God.

One great purpose and benefit of biography is lost if it does not
clearly reveal the growth of character, and, in the case of a
beautiful and successful life, a personality worthy of being held
up as an example. It ought to show also self-conquest, ripening in
wisdom, the philosophic mind that comes with years, and the maturing
and sweetening influences of honored old age. It would be of little
help to young men, struggling against their own besetting weaknesses
to gain self-mastery and attainment to true Christian manhood, to
picture only the John Chambers, as we knew him,--in the serene
evening of life, when passions had cooled and reason reigned, and
the gray light of Heaven's morning had settled on his head. I have
tried to show in the typical Irishman, the creature of heredity and
the passionate patriot, the aspiring Christian and the child of God,
educated by unseen but potent influences, winning steadfast victory
over sin and self, becoming king of men and master of hearts, leading
a host to triumph along the pathway to Heaven, able to do all things
through Christ his helper.

The wonderful character and personality of John Chambers were not
sudden creations. They were growths. He himself believed that
while justification was instant, sanctification was gradual. He
laughed at the man who professed never to have made mistakes. He had
always patience with those who slipped and fell. He showed us how
to neutralize the results of our missteps and gain new strength by
painful and humiliating experiences.

I return my hearty thanks to one and all of the friends, fellow alumni
of the old First Independent Church of Philadelphia, who have aided
me with reminiscences, asking pardon for omissions and indulgence for
possible errors.

                                                              W. E. G.

Ithaca, N. Y., July 20, 1903.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS

    CHAPTER                                           PAGE

        I. PHILADELPHIA. THE HISTORIC SITE               1

       II. IRELAND. A BONNIE BAIRN                       7

      III. OHIO. LIFE IN A LOG CABIN                    14


        V. NEWTOWN. REJECTED OF MEN                     25


      VII. HOME AND CHURCH. LOVE AND WORK               42


       IX. THE MASTER OF HEARTS                         61


       XI. THE MASTER OF ASSEMBLIES                     81

      XII. TRUE YOKE-FELLOWS                            94


      XIV. THE CIVIL WAR                               111

       XV. LIGHT AT EVENING TIME                       127



    XVIII. THE CHILDREN OF THE MOTHER                  144

                              CHAPTER I.


Throngs of people daily pass along two of Philadelphia's most imposing
highways. Broad Street spans the entire city from north to south.
Chestnut Street is the Quaker City's most brilliant thoroughfare,
stretching between the Delaware and the Schuylkill. Those who traverse
either may see the great twenty story building wherein is made and
published the _North American_, the oldest daily newspaper on the
continent. Northward from Broad and Chestnut, rise the imposing
municipal buildings, on the crest of whose mountain of stone and peak
of metal is visible the bronze statue of William Penn, founder of the
City of Brotherly Love. Though this son of a Dutch mother was the
beginner of the City of Homes, yet there have been many other makers
of Philadelphia.

Not least among those who have builded the unseen but nobler city,
and who have stamped their names indelibly upon human hearts and
lives, even unto the third and fourth generation of its citizens, is
John Chambers. During forty-eight years he was pastor of the First
Independent Church, whose second edifice stood from 1831 to 1899 on
the site of the twenty-storied "sky-scraper" at Broad and Sansom

Happily, in the eternal fitness of things, history and sentiment
were not ignored in the uprearing of the mighty structure, whose
cornice is not far from the clouds. In the two lower stories of the
façade is a happy reminder of the old brown stone church of pillared
front. Most felicitously does memory find here a sermon in stone and
a stimulus in architecture. Indeed, a former worshipper walking on
the other side of the street, who chanced to look no higher than the
old familiar altitudes, might imagine that the house of prayer, with
its Ionic columns, still stood to bless its worshippers. Even of the
same hue and tint as in childhood's days, eight columns of fluted
brown sandstone renew in verisimilitude the old architecture. Thus
the mighty edifice enshrines upon its front, in imperishable masonry,
suggestions, at least, of former history.

To be exact, whereas there were in old times six round fluted Ionic
columns, resting on high square bases, supporting a simple but
imposing pediment, there are to-day eight front columns supporting an
architrave, with two mightier upholding pillars within.

At first thought, men might be tempted to see in this colossal
structure, whose roof is so much nearer the sky a symbol of "the
power of the press," which is alleged to be more influential than the
pulpit. One political gentleman whom I knew well--even he who in 1893,
raised the stars and stripes over Hawaii--affirmed in my hearing, that
"one newspaper was equal to three pulpits". Yes, but that depends on
which newspaper and which pulpit. It is certain that in the eyes of
some, printing machinery and type, and daily square miles of inked
paper, for which whole forests have been destroyed, have more moral
potency than worship, prayer, and preaching. Yet against this modern
parable of the mustard seed become a tree, phenomenal and imposing,
we have happily also the Master's parable of the leaven, or of might
unseen, of a kingdom coming "without observation". "Things seen",
even when dazzling are not really as potent as those which transform
the life. It could add little or nothing to the reputation of John
Chambers, to put on paper with ink his words that kindled our souls.
Yet, "did not our hearts burn within us" when we heard? Can we forget
them? Was not his a life unto life? "He being dead yet speaketh."

So then, whether standing in the shadow of the great edifice--typical
of the soaring twentieth century--or setting foot on its roof
high in air, many fathoms higher in the deeps of space than where
once we sat or stood, and thence gazing upon the sea of humanity
beneath, or over the great city set between the two silver streams,
and ever fascinating and beautiful with boyhood's memories, let us
stop to recall the past. Let us think of that busy and potent life
of John Chambers (1797-1875), and of that First Independent Church
(1825-1873), which, like a spiritual storage battery, still supplies
the power that pulses in many thousand souls. Man and edifice, though
vanished from earth, give by their visible potencies or inspiring
memories, in churches and Sunday Schools, in hallowed homes and
beautiful careers of men and women, even to the fourth generation, the
shining and convincing evidence of an earthly immortality, of life
unto life. In the ever widening circles of eternity, that unspent
influence will be felt.

Let us now descend from the mountain to the plain. Until the first
early autumn of the twentieth century, one could see also on the east
side of Thirteenth Street, north of Market and within a few feet of
Filbert Street, a four-sided, plain gray stone or marble post, in
which even a casual passer-by could detect a survival. It was an
old-timer, battered, rubbed, and chipped. Evidently it had once been
a hitching post. Then, after sundry paintings and daubings, it had
served for various advertising purposes, setting forth the changing
business carried on in the dwelling place itself, in front of which it
stood, or, in the cellar of the same. The Belgian block pavements, the
flagstone sidewalks, the great Reading Railway Terminal, not far away,
and the lofty business edifices of steel and stone, with a thousand
modern suggestions, all seem by their contrast to suggest antiquity in
that horse post, and possibly its descent from once more noble uses.

When, however, to the evidence of eyesight, was added the play of
memory and imagination, then there rose upon the mind's vision the
little brick church, the Church of the Vow, that stood directly
opposite, where John Chambers, master of hearts and transformer of
human lives, wrought and taught. Within its now vanished walls the
sunny pastor, the shining ornament in social life, the soul-stirring
preacher, the unquailing soldier, who fought evil in every form,
prayed, preached, and labored with men. Here he communicated
quickening impulses not yet spent, but ever urging on to vaster
issues. Yes, there is where the old church stood.

But this old battered horse-post,--so close by the curb stone as to
wear ever fresh marks of tar and grease from passing wagon wheel
hubs--what has it to do with John Chambers and the First Independent
Church of Philadelphia, which is almost forgotten before a brood of
lusty children and vigorous grandchildren that now train thousands in
the ways of holiness? Especially may we ask the question, since the
church and the post were on opposite sides of the street, here a few
feet wide.

Well, hereto hangs not only a tale, but literally, there hung a
chain, with associations. Before the First Independent Church--that
church which, according to scripture and reality, though not in
common parlance, is not an edifice, but a company of believers--was
formed, in 1825, there stood at Thirteenth and Filbert streets, a
comparatively new building. It had been reared in fulfilment of a vow
made during a storm on the Atlantic by a holy woman of prayer, whose
life was saved. Those who carried out her purpose were Irish refugees,
seeking freedom in America. Being intense Sabbatarians, they would
have no sound of passing wheel or hoof on the Lord's Day, for theirs
was the age, also, of Delaware river cobble stones, and of iron
tires. No pneumatic or sound deadening rubber-swathed wheels existed
then. Hence, to warn off all matutinal disturbers of the solemnity of
worship, and evening passers on wheels, an iron chain was stretched
across the street, guarding either side, north or south, of the holy
edifice. Thus, in quiet, the people within could worship God. The same
rule held in other neighborhoods as in this congregation, and in front
of the Presbyterian church edifice at Fourth and Arch, as the pictures
show, a similar stout iron chain was stretched. It was the rule in
Sabbath-keeping Philadelphia, according to the vigorous law of 1798.

Philadelphia was, early in the last century, a little place, of only
tens of thousands, and so long as there were but few churches, the
chains seemed appropriate. As the city grew, the problem for the
firemen, mail wagons, and ambulances increased. In time not a single
street running north or south, even in case of a fire, was open to the
firemen, who were apt to make quick work in removing obstacles. A snow
storm of petitions, for and against the repeal of the Acts of 1798 and
the removal of the street chains, fell on the legislature and the law
ceased to be operative, March 15, 1830. The old stone posts remained
and occasionally one may be recognized by the keen-eyed antiquarian in
dear old Philadelphia.

Both the first and second edifices, in which John Chambers labored
in the Gospel, have been levelled and their sites built upon. That
old post, effective Sabbath guardian, has gone; the First Independent
Church, in edifice or organization, is no more. Nevertheless, its
spirit lives. Like Huldah's home, our old church in its "second
quarter" was a "college," and, fellow alumni, we shall try to tell the
story of our Alma Mater, "mother of us all," and sketch the life and
work of the great and good man, with whom the First Independent Church
began, continued, and ended. Both church and pastor have become as
leaven that transforms, and in leavening is itself transformed,--lost
to form and view, while yet potent. "The eagle's cry is heard even
after its form disappears behind the mountain," says the Chinese

The "three measures of meal" still abide. From them is still supplied
the bread of life to thousands. To change from metaphor to facts
that are as hard as stone, and as enduring as human character, there
are, first in point of time, the Bethany Mission Sunday-school and
the Bethany Presbyterian Church; the John Chambers Memorial Church,
an offshoot and outgrowth from the Bethany Church; the Presbyterian
Church at Rutledge, Pa.; the St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in West
Philadelphia; and the magnificent edifice and active congregation
of the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church on Broad below Pine Street,
which enshrines the name not only of John Chambers, but of T. W. J.
Wylie--two noble preachers of the gospel, sons of thunder and also of

Shall we attempt to measure influence, by even suggesting how three
churches, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, and one Lutheran grew up out
of the early prayer meetings before 1840, sustained chiefly by John
Chambers' young men? Shall we hint at the missionary and educational
impulses given at "the ends of the earth" by missionaries, or of
lives nourished or transformed in our home land by the forty or more
ministers of the gospel, who call John Chambers their father in God?

Nay, our dear under-shepherd himself, were he with us, would say, "Not
unto us O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy
mercy and thy truth's sake."

_Nisi Dominus Frustra._

                             CHAPTER II.

                       IRELAND. A BONNY BAIRN.

Many a chairman, clerical or lay brother, in introducing John Chambers
to an always delighted audience, referred to his "big Irish heart,"
and indeed he had in him all the winning and fascinating elements
which make the jolly Irishman. He was emotional, clear-brained, rich
in personal magnetism, and in general a "good fellow". He had in him
also those traits which characterize the strong, clean, God-fearing
and man-loving Puritan, whose career so often illustrates the highest
type of manhood. Of superb and commanding figure, six feet high,
and the most imposing individual known in the Chambers clan, he had
an open illuminated face, and eyes that penetrated one's inmost
nature. He was skilled in the handshake or shoulder pat, that warmed
one's entire being into personal loyalty and were inspirations to
friendship for the man and his Master. His face made you believe in
the immortality of the soul. To these physical traits may be added an
absolutely fearless mien and a flashing eye, that made his enemies
fear him, even when they most hated his ways and words. With leonine
countenance and majestic presence, was a tongue that beat the blarney
stone, and yet was made, under God, a unerring instrument in winning
souls. Some one has written of "The Pastor as Praiser". John Chambers
by praising a boy made him a hero. Often a word from him came as
Paul's clarion call, "Stand fast".

In brief, John Chambers possessed in person, bearing, and
characteristics, the noble heritages of that Scottish race which
settled in north Ireland, and which has shown itself, especially
in America, one of the most distinctive of stocks, rich in mental
initiative and nervous energy, with power of manifold adaptation and
persistency. In America the Scotch-Irish have certainly influenced,
with power second to that of no other strain or nationality, the
making of the American republic.

The people of north Ireland were noted for their Calvinism, which
in practice is only another word for an inextinguishable love of
freedom and democracy. Their faith fruited in free schools, popular
education, family worship, familiarity with the Bible, hatred of
priest-craft, Romanism, and British cruelty and oppression. In their
Christianity, some Jewish notions in survival were perhaps put on a
level with the teachings of Jesus, and their passionate devotion to
Sabbath-keeping seemed sometimes to run into idolatry. They were not
at all disinclined to controversy, and many of them were rather fond
of a bit of a fight. Among the less sanctified, religion of a certain
narrow sort and the contents of the whiskey bottle were very much in

Naturally the British government with its aristocracy and political
church, its absentee-landlordism and its corrupt parliament--which in
the eighteenth century represented land rather than people--had much
trouble with this insular people of many virtues and some glaring
defects. The more oppressive measures of the first half and middle of
the eighteenth century sent tens of thousands of emigrants to America,
where they settled, especially in New Hampshire, the Carolinas, and
western Pennsylvania. Only too glad to take up arms against the
British, they furnished from their ranks for the Continental army and
patriot partisan bodies, probably a larger proportion of soldiers than
those of any other nationality among the colonists.[1] Many thousands
of the "Yankees" of New England were Irishmen. In North Carolina
they were the Regulators whom "Bloody Billy" Tryon slaughtered. In
Sullivan's Expedition of 1779, one of the most important campaigns of
the Revolution, four of the five generals, and possibly a majority
of the rank and file, were born in Ireland, or were of Irish stock.
At the banquet held in the forest, on the Chemung River on the site
of Elmira, N. Y., on Saturday September 25, 1779, in the pavilion of
greenery, one of the thirteen toasts drunk was this,--"May Ireland
merit a stripe in the American standard."[2]

[Footnote 1: See Romance of American Colonization. Boston, 1898, p.

[Footnote 2: See the Pathfinders of the Revolution. Boston, 1900, p.

The general dissatisfaction in Ireland, not only among the Catholics
who suffered from oppressive penal statutes, but also among the
Protestants, broke out in 1798 into a rebellion fomented by the
numerous secret societies then in the island. To read this page of
history brings us to the parentage and birth of John Chambers, who
sprung not from "illiterate" folk, as some have ignorantly imagined,
but from intelligent and educated as well as patriotic parentage and

William Chambers, the father of our American John, was born in
1768 of fairly well-to-do parents, and had a good education. One
of his ancestors was an officer in the British navy. When about
twenty-seven years of age, he married a Miss Smythe, or Smith, who was
traditionally descended from Robert the Bruce, being one of a family
which has furnished a long succession of Presbyterian ministers in
Scotland, Ireland, and the United States. Their first son and eldest
child, they named James. Their second son, John, is the subject
of our biography. John Chambers was born on September 19, 1797 in
Stewartstown, Tyrone county, Ireland.

There are four towns of this name in the United States, settled
probably by Irishmen, and the original place in Ireland, in 1880,
contained 931 souls.

William Chambers was a hot-headed, impulsive man of great physical
vigor, a superb horseman, and a leader in athletic sports. In early
manhood he was powerfully influenced in his political opinions and
action by the ideas exploited in both the American and the French
Revolutions. A fierce patriot, he became a follower of the famous Wolf
Tone, and in their ups and downs on the wheel of politics, both master
and disciple found themselves in prison within a few days of each
other. William Chambers by some means escaped, but was soon involved
in trouble with the British authorities, and so engaged passage to

Theobald Wolf Tone (1763-1798), orator and advocate of the freedom of
Ireland, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He wrote pamphlets
exposing British misgovernment, joined Protestants and Catholics
in political fraternity, and founded at Belfast the first Society
of United Irishmen, which William Chambers promptly joined. It is
believed that at this time the green flag of Ireland was adopted, by
uniting the orange and the blue. It is certain that at this time,
green became the national color, although an emerald green standard
was used in the sixteenth century.

One of these United Irishmen was Samuel Brown Wylie, who became the
celebrated pastor, preacher, and Doctor of Divinity in Philadelphia.
He left Ireland in 1797. In God's providence, exactly one century
afterwards, the names of Chambers and Wylie were united in
Philadelphia in that of a memorial church.

Wolf Tone, as secretary of the Roman Catholic committee, had already
entered into secret negotiations with France and had to fly to the
United States in 1795. He was afterwards captured on one of the ships
of the French squadron, which was to invade Ireland.

The French having occupied Holland, had had a great fleet built in the
Zuyder Zee to co-operate with the United Irishmen, but at the battle
of Camperduin, off the coast of North Holland, October 11th, 1797, the
British Admiral Duncan destroyed the French and Dutch fleet, and the
high hopes of those who looked for Irish independence were dashed to
the ground. Hundreds of them fled.

Tried and sentenced to death, Wolf Tone committed suicide in his cell,
November 19th, 1798. His son afterwards served in the armies of France
and the United States and wrote the biography of his father. Ever
since 1797, the British navy has had a ship named "Camperdown".

In Scotland I have had the pleasure of visiting the Duncan estate near
Dundee, and in Holland of seeing Camperduin and its vicinity, both of
land and water.

The defeat of the French fleet and the imprisonment, trial, and
sentence of their leader, Wolf Tone, drove the United Irishmen into an
insurrection of despair. At the battle of Vinegar Hill, in May, 1798,
the revolt was crushed and the French general Humbert surrendered.
Forthwith the British constables began their hunt for each one and all
of the United Irishmen to land them in prison.

William Chambers was, as we have seen, arrested and thrown into prison
at Stewartstown. In some way he escaped and eluded those who were
seeking him, until he made his way down to the ship, on which his
family was leaving Ireland for America. Besides his wife with her
little boys, James and John, the latter an infant of three months at
the breast, were other emigrants on board. In the hold, there was a
stock of cabbages and down among these vegetables the refugee father
hid himself. The British officers came on board and searched the ship
from stem to stern to find their man, but his wife had encouraged him
to get so deeply under the material for sauerkraut, and had covered
him up so well, that, unable to find him, they imagined he must have
fled elsewhere. It was not until the ship was well out at sea that
William Chambers rose up from among the cabbages and made himself
visible. In later years, John Chambers visited the Stewartstown prison
in which his father had been incarcerated.

In the slow ship they were knocked about on the wintry Atlantic during
a stormy voyage of fourteen weeks, but happily arrived in the Delaware
Bay, just when the buds were bursting, and the landscape of spring
time putting on its fresh mantle of green. After their sea weariness
the peach-orchards of Delaware must have looked as "fair as a garden
of the Lord."

The Mayflower, which in 1620 bore the Pilgrims to America, was bound
for the same beautiful region, then vaguely called "Virginia" but
these people in 1799 were pilgrims bound to the forests of Ohio, the
first of the Pilgrim states beyond the Alleghenies.[3]

[Footnote 3: See the Pilgrims in their Three Homes, Boston, 1898.]

Landing at Newcastle, William Chambers and his little family soon
joined a great party of emigrants who were turning their faces
westward. Ohio was then, except for the river valleys and old maize
lands of the Indians, an almost unbroken forest. In those days, when
there was neither canal, railway nor trolley, such roads as existed,
traversed chiefly the long stretches of dark woods. They were made of
corduroy, or logs laid crosswise, with a surface covering of earth.
Very few counties were as yet named or laid out in the Buckeye State,
for it was only five years after General Anthony Wayne's great victory
at Maumee Rapids over the Indians, and many of the red men were still
in the land. Frontier life was still very rough, both as respects
material comfort and the relations of the settlers with the Indians.
The second stage of territorial life was entered upon in this same
year, 1799, and the State Legislature had met for the first time in

Slowly and painfully the caravan of home seekers made its way through
Pennsylvania over the great road through Harrisburg and the Juniata
valley, Hollidaysburg and Pittsburg, where Scotchmen and Irishmen were
still very numerous. Thence floating down the Ohio River, they reached
the first county on the western side, which was later named after
Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. The Irish
pioneer from Stewartstown helped to lay out the original townships of
the county, in which Warren Ridge was situated, often going ahead to
blaze some trees along the future road. Later, in 1799, he settled
at Smithfield, and ultimately at Mount Pleasant. It was to this last
named place that the visits of John Chambers, notably in 1843 and
1861, were made.

                             CHAPTER III.

                      OHIO. LIFE IN A LOG CABIN.

The little baby boy John's first American home was a log cabin and
his cradle was made of part of a hollowed-out tree trunk. When he
began noticing things from the doorway, his eyes took in a great space
filled with a multitude of stumps, the dark and lonely forest, the new
and strange fields of Indian corn, the tender green of spring, the
gold of autumn, and the great white landscape of winter. When he was
but three years old, Ohio became a state.

Remembering the witticism, so common a generation ago, that "some men
are born great, and some are born in Ohio", we may believe that John
Chambers came very near a double inheritance, though failing in but
one share; for, to the end of his days, he boasted that he was by
birth an Irishman.

Among his earliest playthings were the "buckeyes", or horse-chestnuts,
from the particular tree, so plentiful in the new land. As the Bible
was then, besides being in supreme honor as the Word of God, the one
familiar volume, library, reference, and text-book, source of literary
and intellectual recreation, John, as he learned to read, was as
much delighted to find the _popular_ name of "Ohio" in the Bible, as
American tourists in Japan are, to hear the sound of this good State's
name, in the Japanese for "good morning".[4]

[Footnote 4: See I. Chronicles VI:5, about Bukki, the father of Uzzi.]

In after years, in the freshness of his metropolitan fame, John
Chambers visited several times his old home, the log cabin in which he
grew up. The house is now a weather-boarded dwelling place, but in the
wooden walls is still to be seen the little hollow place or alcove,
where were kept the decanters or glasses, containing cherry brandy
and whiskey, which were so popular and in such general use in those
early days before teetotalism, or prohibition or no license was known.
During the war of 1812, this house was used as a recruiting station
for volunteers, and here the young soldiers pledged their glass in
token of their patriotism and comradeship. Against this phase of
social life, the boy John set his face from the first.

William Chambers lived the life of a pioneer in the American forest.
He gained his bread by tilling the soil, and a little ready money by
burning the timber and leaching the potash out of the ashes, and by
other industries common to the forest. Indian cooking was soon learned
and the food of the red man became popular. In fact there are very
few purely American dishes, which are not evolutions from the Indian
originals. Sugar was plentiful from the maple trees, but salt was very
costly and hard to get. By boring wells, brine was found from which
good salt could be made.

Life on the frontier was necessarily rude in some points, especially
in moral relations with the Indians. As pretty much all Irishmen
are very fond of religion and whiskey and a bit of a fight, there
were often rough scenes. William Chambers was a strong character and
his hot temper was easily roused, but his wife, an equally strong
character, but with finer strength, was cool-headed and made a good
balance for her husband. She was a noted nurse and especially skillful
in the sickroom. Hence she was often called upon for help by both
friends and strangers in time of pain and misfortune. Malaria and
homesickness were common woes. Devoutly pious, she trained up her
children in the fear and love of God, and by them and even by later
generations her memory is treasured.

The religion of these pioneers may have been narrow, but it was strong
and deep. It was based on a first-hand knowledge of the English
Bible. Even in his early life, as I remember Mr. Chambers saying, he
revolted against bigotry and the kind of religion that was not rich in
love to one's neighbor. These were psalm-singers and not hymn-using
Christians, but the Methodist preachers and Christians of other sorts
than Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were in the land. The boy John once
heard an old gentleman say that he would as soon sit down to the
Lord's Supper with a horse-thief, as with a man who sang Dr. Watts'
version of the Psalms.

Little John also refused to touch liquor, for he saw the awful effects
of its use, and grew to have a hatred of it. On one occasion, the
little fellow rebuked a crowd of men, including his own father, for
their drinking habits whereby the parent, William Chambers was greatly
affected. "The heart of the child three years old is in the heart of
the sage of sixty," as says the Japanese proverb, was true of John
Chambers, the metropolitan preacher, but it was in childhood that
God began to shape this bonnie bairn for a long life of usefulness.
The boy in the Ohio forests was a hearty hater of all bickering and
squabbling. He was often called upon to settle differences. He came to
be known among neighbors and friends as "the little peacemaker." "The
child is father to the man," and all his life John Chambers was mighty
as a reconciler.

John Chambers's boyhood was thus spent in the wilderness in continuous
hard work, by which he toughened his thews and kept his cheeks rosy,
rising into brave, pure, and clean manhood. He took his part in the
hard work of the farm, even to clearing the forest. He knew what it
was to "lift up axes against thick trees." With his other brothers
and sisters, he enjoyed life to the full. Politically, in this
Jeffersonian era, his parents took the Democratic view of things,
so that their offspring had the spirit of democracy in their veins.
All his life the intensely patriotic John followed the faith of his
father, and was, as he called himself, a Constitutional State-Rights

He was taught to read and write at home, but with that true
instinct for education, which is inborn with Calvinists and the
Scotch-Irishmen, his parents wished to have him better educated.
They sent him, therefore, when he was but fifteen years of age, to
Baltimore, where lived some of their relatives. A journey over the
mountains in the early nineteenth century was like a trip to the
Philippines in our days, but John gladly set out on horseback, with a
party, in the spring of 1813, to the city on the Patapsco.

It seems that he had no special purpose of remaining permanently
there, but Providence made his a stay of twelve years. After some
experience at school, he decided to learn the jeweler's trade. Thus
with business, and later with love, and then a call to the ministry,
Baltimore was to be the city in which his mind was shaped, and which
all his life was to him, socially, as magnet and star.

Patriotism, too, had something to do with making the Monumental City
his home. It was war time, and the second struggle with Great Britain
was on. As a municipality, the young city, but sixteen years old, had
already become a famous place for the building of ships, the timber
being floated down from the heart of New York state and from northern
Pennsylvania, along the old line of Sullivan's march of 1779, by
way of the Susquehanna River. Immediately on the declaration of war
by Congress, a swarm of privateers sailed out of the Patapsco and
Chesapeake to prey on Great Britain's commerce, especially in the West
Indies. Hence the British government early decided that one of the
first places to be occupied was Baltimore. The stalwart youth from
Ohio arrived in good time to hold a shovel and dig earth to throw up
entrenchments, over which waved "The Star-Spangled Banner". He worked
several days in the trenches. In September, 1814, the British forces
made their attack under Col. Ross, a veteran under Sir John Moore
and Wellington. Their commander was killed and the assault given
up. The next day Admiral Cockburn's fleet bombarded Fort McHenry in
vain. The attack from ship by water was as ignominious a failure as
was the attempt by land. The happy result was the deliverance of the
city and the birth of America's national song, "The Star-Spangled
Banner". Francis Scott Key, detained against his will on the deck
of the British man-of-war Minden, was an indignant spectator of the
bombardment, but in the morning of September 14th, saw his country's
flag "in full glory reflected ... on the stream". In 1876 a bronze
statue to his memory was erected and Old Defenders' Day keeps alive
the stirring memories of September 11th, 1813.

                             CHAPTER IV.


Soon after coming to Baltimore John Chambers became a member of the
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, of which the Rev. John Mason
Duncan was pastor. Under the preaching of this eminent prophet, the
mind of the young man expanded. Indeed it was so shaped and moulded
by Dr. Duncan, that we may consider him as the greatest of all John
Chambers' teachers, and his direct influence as greater than all
subsequent schools and teachings. "My honored father in Christ" was
Mr. Chambers' designation. Dr. Duncan saw in the young Ohio lad "an
eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures". He persuaded him to study
for the ministry, which John, soon after uniting with the church,
determined to do.

In pursuance of his plan, the lad entered the Classical Academy of the
Rev. James Gray, D.D., formerly of Philadelphia, who had established
in Baltimore one of the numerous first-class schools in the South,
almost every one of which was founded by people of Scotch-Irish
descent. When it came to the study of theology and practical training
for the pastorate, John Chambers followed the method which was then
the common one in America. Very few theological seminaries then
existed in the country. That at New Brunswick, N. J., probably the
oldest, was scarcely fifteen years of age; that at Princeton hardly
over two years old. There were one or two in New England. For a young
man having the ministry in view, it was the usual custom to study
under his own pastor, a method not without great benefits, especially
in this instance, as Dr. Duncan was one of the most eloquent ministers
in the country. John Chambers learned how to preach by preaching. He
was successful with human beings because he knew them so well. He
was a master of the scriptures "in the original English". Only those
who afterward sat for years under John Chambers' preaching so long as
to be saturated with his ideas, to know the basic principles of his
thought and the workings of his mind, and have also read and studied
Dr. Duncan's works, can realize how greatly the pupil was indebted to
his great master.

In fact it was John Mason Duncan who gave the keynote of the gospel
message as to its form, and it was John Chambers who filled out
the strain. The theme was set in Baltimore, the variations given
in Philadelphia. The pupil followed the master very closely in
practical organization and discipline also. Dr. Duncan was suspicious
of all creeds and confessions of faith when made instruments of
ecclesiastical power. His trust in the people was sincere, profound,
intense, and practical. In theology he ever laid stress on "the
mediatorial reign of Christ and his absolute ability and willingness
to save all mankind", which willingness it was his delight to
demonstrate from the Scriptures and "to rescue the Gospel call from
false philosophy". Dr. Duncan was jealous, almost to hostility, of
theological seminaries, and also of the growing usurpations of power
by synods. He dubbed America "the land of synods". He wrote at the
time when even the liberty of the presbyteries seemed endangered by
the centralizing power of the synods: "To persevere in such a course
is to raise up a class of men who, from the nature of the case, must
be destitute of sympathy with the people; who will rise above the
people as being their superiors and governors, and who will ultimately
distract and divide the church by their philosophic subtleties and
literary distinction".

Verily the writer of those words was a prophet.

Dr. Duncan's trust in the people was so great because, as he believed
and taught, "the Bible is addressed to the people".

All of this John Chambers believed, carrying out, even to a fuller
logical conclusion, his teacher's doctrines.

In his book entitled "An Essay on the Origin, Character and the
Tendency of Creeds and Confessions of Faith as Instruments of
Ecclesiastical Power", Dr. Duncan showed in his first chapter that
"the intention of this essay, strictly political in character,
involves the great question of human liberty to think, speak, to
write, to act". He delivered also a course of lectures on "The General
Principles in Moral Government", as they are exhibited in the first
three chapters of Genesis, in which the same ideas are more fully
carried out.

Here is one of his passages:

"Supposing then a minister--blameless, faithful, apt to teach,
believing in the great truths now defined, _i.e._ 'the Word made
flesh'--should come to preach, who has a right to prevent him, or to
refuse to recognize him as a true bishop and to stigmatize him as a
heretic? The apostle John says he is of God, and any trial to which
the statute in question would subject him must result in the equivocal
recognition of that fact. Presbyteries, as they are now constructed,
will not and cannot admit such a man to ministerial and church
fellowship without violating the principles of their party. They will
not and cannot ordain such a man without something more.... What
mischief would the most extensive liberality produce?"

In a biography of John Chambers we shall see the pertinence of this
quotation when we come to the story of his ordination.

The instructor of young Chambers was the Rev. James Gray, D.D., who
published a book entitled "The Mediatorial Reign of the Son of God,
or the Absolute Ability and Willingness of Jesus Christ to Save all
Mankind, Demonstrated from the Scriptures--an Attempt to Rescue the
Gospel Call from False Philosophy", in which the grandeur, glory and
all-embracing nature of the divine call to salvation is set forth.

This Dr. Gray, born in Ireland on Christmas day, 1770, had come
to America in 1797, two years before his pupil, John Chambers.
Probably he had been one of the United Irishmen. After preaching
at Washington, N. Y., he settled, in 1808, in Philadelphia, over
the Spruce Street Associate Reformed Church. In the Quaker City he
became a very popular leader in many good things. He helped to found
the Philadelphia Bible Society and received the degree of Doctor of
Divinity from the University of Pennsylvania. With Rev. S. B. Wylie
(father of the Dr. Wylie, whose name is embalmed in the title of the
Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church), he opened a Classical Academy which
became famous. After a few years he removed to Baltimore. Besides his
study of theology and writing of the book on which his reputation
rests--the Mediatorial Reign of the Son of God--(a favorite phrase
of Mr. Chambers, even as the book was known by heart), he started a
theological review which lived but a year. He died at Gettysburg, Pa.,
September 20, 1824.

It will be easily seen that under such teachers as Duncan and Gray,
men of national repute, the Ohio boy received no mean training. On
Garfield's theory, that a seat on a log, at the other end of which
Mark Hopkins was teacher, might outrank the most showy university and
apparatus, John Chambers was a college bred man. Under such direct,
constant and personal influence as the Ohio boy in Baltimore received,
the value of the quality of his education cannot be over estimated.
It is very certain that no number of brick or stone edifices on a
university campus, or profusion of apparatus in the laboratories, or
comforts and luxuries in the student's room of to-day, can take the
place of the personal influence of great teachers. Nor can these turn
out men who excel in character and abilities the leaders of men in the
United States of America in the early nineteenth century, among whom
the home-bred John Chambers was a characteristic specimen.

Yet, though favored with such acute, learned, and inspiring teachers,
and kindled by fervor with ideas that made heat as well as light in
his soul, John Chambers' idea of the religion of Jesus was, that
first of all it must be practical. There was no special division of
it called "applied Christianity." To him it was all application. How
it could ever be printed in a catechism and exist apart from life, he
refused to see. He scorned professions of orthodoxy or of doctrine
that did not quickly and permanently bear fruit in holy living, and in
service for souls. With five or six other young men, he started prayer
meetings and evangelistic labors.

When ready for examination for the ministry Mr. Chambers made his
appearance before the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia, and in May,
1824, received his license to preach the Gospel and to accept a call
to the pastorate. This body of ministers and elders which licensed
him was dissolved in the autumn of 1824, and Mr. Chambers was then
received as a licentiate under the care of the Presbytery of Baltimore.

It was about ten months after his first visit to Philadelphia to
receive license, that is in March, 1825, that Mr. Chambers was invited
to preach in the Margaret Duncan (Associate Reformed) Church in
Philadelphia. The little brick edifice had been erected in compliance
with the will of, and as a gift from, the grandmother of Dr. John
Mason Duncan, and the latter as well as Mr. Chambers' preceptor, Dr.
James Mason Gray, had taken part in the dedicatory services in 1815.

The church itself at this time, 1825, was a struggling one. The
edifice was in a poor and thinly inhabited part of the city. There was
no fund for the support of the building, and the Associate Reformed
denomination in the United States was weak and poor, with a scarcity
of ministers. Happily other Presbyterians gave assistance and supplied
the pulpit; otherwise, the building would have been often closed for
long periods at a time. The first regular pastor was the Rev. Thomas
Gilfillan McInnis, who was called to the service early in 1822. He
died on the 26th of August, 1824, and the flock was left shepherdless.
There was even better provision for the dead than for the living. On
the 7th of October, 1824, Robert A. Caldcleugh and wife presented to
the minister, elders, and fifty-two church members, a lot of ground,
on the South side of Race street between what was the "Schuylkill
Third" and "Schuylkill Fourth" streets, now Nineteenth and Twentieth,
for a cemetery. This lot is eighteen feet six inches wide and one
hundred and twenty-nine feet deep.

This was the situation, when Mr. Chambers was called, in March, 1825,
to preach as a candidate. He came on from Baltimore and on two Sundays
in April told the people of God's love in Christ Jesus. His sermons
were as a mighty stack of fuel, with the breath of the Lord on the
first Sabbath kindling it, and the wind of the Holy Spirit on the
second Lord's Day turning it into vehement flame. A triple fire of
love to God, of the people to the young pastor, and of his young heart
to them began its glow, which paled not until after fifty years of
beacon glory it was quenched by death.

    "The flashes thereof are as flashes of fire
        A very flame of Jehovah
    Many waters cannot quench love,
        Neither can floods drown it."

                              CHAPTER V.

                      NEWTOWN. REJECTED OF MEN.

Since out of the Margaret Duncan Church, or "Church of the Vow", have
grown, it is believed, at least ten other churches, and since the
tradition of her ocean experiences has taken varied shapes and forms
in its transmission, we shall give a narrative which is probably the
most in accordance with fact.

Mrs. Margaret Duncan, on the death of her husband, a prosperous
merchant of Philadelphia, determined to visit old friends in
Stewartstown, Tyrone County, Ireland, in which she had been born. She
took with her her little grandson, who was to become the famous Dr.
John Mason Duncan. Returning across the ocean in the autumn of 1798,
the ship sailing from Belfast, Ireland, was loaded heavily with many
passengers, most of them poor emigrants, but had little cargo in the
hold. It is said that the captain had never crossed the Atlantic.
The compass was out of order, and with head winds and wet and foggy
weather, the voyage was dangerously prolonged. The passengers were put
on short allowance and there was no water. It is even said that in
a severe storm the captain and crew deserted the vessel. The people
suffered from agonizing thirst. They even talked of drawing lots to
see who should be put to death and give his own flesh as food to the

Mrs. Duncan was then a woman between seventy and eighty years of age.
Late tradition says the lot was drawn and she drew it and expected to
be a victim. Mr. Chambers, though often referring to her experiences
on the sea, makes no mention of the lot or of this dire extremity.
Going into her cabin she gave herself to prayer, and vowed before God
that if He would avert the impending blow and in mercy save her life
and the ship's company she would forever consecrate herself and all
that she had to His service; that she would erect a church edifice for
the congregation of the Associate Reformed people in Philadelphia with
whom she worshipped, and that she would give and educate her little
grandson for the Gospel ministry.

Not long after this, rain fell, and the agonizing thirst of those
in the ship was relieved. Soon the shout, "sail ho" was heard from
the man aloft. A vessel hove in sight and rescued them all. The ship
entered the Delaware river and all reached Philadelphia in safety.

True to her vows, Margaret Duncan educated her grandson John Mason
Duncan to preach the good news of God. Dying Nov. 16th, 1802, she
left her money by will for the erection of a house of worship, which
she minutely described, specifying that it was to be of the Associate
Reformed communion. By various names, the "Margaret Duncan Church," or
"The Vow Church," or "Saint Margaret's Church," the brick edifice on
Thirteenth street near Filbert on the west side, stood until some time
in the fifties. I can remember as a little boy going to see the debris
of the ruins, the piled up old brick partially cleaned of mortar, the
dust and the broken bits of lime, and the great hollow place where the
cellar had been. In 1875, Mr. Chambers spoke of "the little church
where we worshipped so long.... It is a shame that the church was ever
destroyed. However it was torn down, and we have nothing more to do
with it".

His was the language of affection. As matter of cold fact, the "house
was of plain brick, without the least trace of ornament and for many
years was one of the gloomiest looking churches in the city. The
dimensions were fifty by sixty feet." The edifice was opened for
worship on the 26th of November, 1815. The dedication sermon was
preached by the son of the vow, and the grandson of her who made it,
Rev. John Mason Duncan. As before stated, Rev. James Gray, D.D., then
with Dr. Wylie at the head of a classical school in Philadelphia, also
took part.

Having been called to be the pastor of this church, Mr. Chambers
surveyed his field to see what resources there were for sustaining
permanent gospel work. He found no organized effort. There was no
prayer-meeting, no Sunday School, not a man to lead in public prayer,
and the three elders were all superannuated. The congregation was made
up of humble people, poor, hard-working, industrious, with only here
and there one among them who might be called rich; nor was there a
family in which family worship was held. It was necessary therefore
that the young man from Baltimore, who did not know ten people in
Philadelphia when he first arrived, should borrow two devout men,
Presbyterians, Wilfrid Hall and Hiram Ayres, to help him in meetings
for social prayer. He then made application to Mr. Hall for the use of
a room on Market street near what is now Seventeenth, in a district of
vacant lots. Very few people were then living west of Broad street,
and most of the streets now well known were not yet "cut through". He
knew not whether any one would come to the meeting called for prayer,
but God gave him a gracious surprise. When he arrived near the hour,
"there was scarcely a spot for a human being to stand on". There and
then began the Holy Spirit's workings which resulted in a whole family
of Christian churches.

These prayer meetings were begun, according to due announcement,
on the fourth Sunday in May. Their good influences were seen in
the immediate enlargement of the church audience. By the beginning
of July, there were four men ready to speak or lead in prayer. By
August 1st, over forty persons, many of them young men and women, had
declared their faith in Christ, and were ready for Christian work. Mr.
Chambers found a friend in Rev. Dr. Stiles Ely, a New England man, the
principal founder of the Jefferson Medical College, and editor of _The
Philadelphian_. From 1801 he had been pastor of the old Pine street
Church, and was at that time moderator of the Presbyterian General
Assembly. As Mr. Chambers was not yet ordained, Dr. Ely preached the
sermon and administered the Lord's Supper, when the new converts were

As Dr. Chambers told the story in 1875, "The next move was for a
Sabbath School, and the marvel was with what eagerness they took hold
of it ... and carried it on with vigor, procured rooms and Sabbath
School scholars and teachers and entered their names, and we went on
and on from that very day after the institution of the prayer meeting,
and the consequence was that we very soon felt that God was with us".

When the people of the Ninth Presbyterian, or Margaret Duncan Church
on Thirteenth street, met together to vote a call to John Chambers, it
was under the care of the First Presbytery of Philadelphia. Of course,
therefore, the call must be approved at the regular meeting of the
presbytery, and only after the usual examination of the candidate.
Mr. Chambers came on from Baltimore, having accepted the call, and
began his work as pastor and preacher-elect on the 9th day, or second
Sabbath, in May, 1825. The presbytery was to meet in October in its
semi-annual gathering. By a strange coincidence this was at Newtown,
near the Neshaminy stream, in Bucks county, Pa.--the field of the
evangelical and revival labors of the ancestor of his betrothed, of
whom more anon. Was the young preacher's imagination busy with the
scenes of a century before?

The glories of autumn made lovely the landscape of this affluent
agricultural county lying along the bend of the Delaware, rich
in fruit, in Pennsylvania Germans, in English Quakers, and in
Scotch-Irish people. Its name, that of Penn's county in England,
is suggestive of the old world, and it is historically famous for
being on the line of Washington's march to his great victory over
the Hessians at Trenton, and through it part of Sullivan's men had
moved for the chastisement of the Iroquois tribes at Newtown, near
Elmira, N. Y., in 1779. Yet the historical associations uppermost
in the mind of the young licentiate must have been those with the
great-grandfather of his betrothed, who in this very region and near
this very house of worship, had labored with Gilbert Tennant in the

The young minister's call and the letter announcing it, from the
hands of the elders of the Ninth Church, Messrs. Ross, Hogg, and
Reed, in the name of the congregation, was handed in to the assembled
authorities. No doubt the document was on genuine honest rag paper,
the only kind then known, and on a letter sheet, folded and dovetailed
together and closed with sealing wax or wafer, without an envelope,
directed on the outside and carried to him by stage coach. No doubt he
himself had to go to the office in Baltimore to get it. In compliance
with its request, the young licentiate's journey would be by stage
through Elkton and Wilmington to Philadelphia. From Philadelphia to
Newtown, twenty-seven miles northeast of Philadelphia, the route would
probably be up the well-known road crossing the Neshaminy Creek.

The young licentiate, accustomed to do his own thinking, appeared with
clean papers from the Presbytery of Baltimore, and asked that he might
be taken under the care of the First Presbytery of Philadelphia, with
a view to ordination and installation as pastor of the Ninth Church.
Nevertheless, although he might be punctual and his papers clean,
Dame Rumor had arrived before him. Several of her thousand tongues
had declared, and even asseverated vehemently, that John Chambers was
that strange, curious, and ever-changing thing called a "heretic."
Often that undefined thing is a babe thrust into the cradle, while the
orthodoxy of yesterday is turned out. A "heretic," as Saint Paul was
once called, even as Jesus was before him, is very apt to be crucified
to-day and glorified to-morrow. Indeed, "heresy" is almost as protean
and as undefinable as "orthodoxy" itself. We shall see what kind of
a "heretic" John Chambers was. His life for fifty years revealed the

Within that little company gathered at Newtown there was, in the
language of old times many a "heresio-mastix" or scourger of heresy,
and a majority of the ministers present were already pre-determined
to "hereticate" the young licentiate, who had already made the bounds
of the little brick church on Thirteenth street too small to hold his
hearers. Nevertheless our sympathies go out to all church bishops,
whose duty it is to show that sudden popularity is no proof of fitness
or character.

It developed during the examination that the head and front of the
young man's offending was his belief in the Bible as an all sufficient
rule of faith and practice. In this position, he was confirmed by
the fact that the Westminster standards, the Confession of Faith,
the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, teach that the Bible is the only
infallible rule of faith and obedience. These all unite in declaring
that the Scriptures are "given by inspiration of God to be the rule
of faith and life", "the rule of worship", the only rule of faith and
obedience; which teach "what man is to believe concerning God, and
what duty God requires of man", and form "the rule given us of God to
direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him."

In a word, to an independent thinker, loyal to the Bible as the word
of God, as John Chambers was, the Westminster standards contain their
own _reductio ad absurdum_ to any one who puts creed, catechism, or
confession above the Holy Scriptures, or who makes certain parts, or
even a collection of parts, greater than the whole. Mr. Chambers,
using his own words, believed that nothing could exceed infallibility,
and was therefore satisfied with the infallible rule of the
Scriptures. There was not then the freedom of faith, and the liberty
of private interpretation of Holy Scripture and the Westminster
symbols that is now happily the rule in the Presbyterian churches. The
fault, if fault it were, was not solely on the young man's part.

The eyes of the "fathers and brethren" were opened and the "heretic"
stood revealed. One of the members, the Rev. Dr. Ely, then proposed
that the moderator should ask Mr. Chambers whether at the time of his
licensure he subscribed to the Confession of Faith. He answered that
he did not. When the second question was proposed, "Are you prepared
to do so now?" he answered firmly, "I am not".

A motion was then made by Dr. Ely that Mr. Chambers and his papers be
referred back to the Presbytery of Baltimore, and that the pulpit of
the Ninth Church be declared vacant. Rev. Messrs. Patterson and Hoff
were appointed a committee to perform the duty.

On Thursday evening of the same week, which was the regular evening
for the weekly lecture, the committee of the Presbytery, which had met
at Newtown, appeared at the church.

Although there were no telegraphs in those days, it was quickly
known in Philadelphia, and to all the people of the Ninth Church,
that Mr. Chambers, the man whom they had learned to love, had been
rejected by the Presbytery. The preaching of the young minister had
already resulted, under God, in a deep and strong religious interest.
Consequently there was a large attendance and not a little excitement
in the little brick edifice, so much so, indeed, that some of the
congregation had quietly resolved to put the committee out in the
street should they attempt to go into the pulpit.

Punctuality with the young pastor had already settled into what proved
to be a life-long habit. He was at the church in good season. Finding
the committee already there, he explained to the two men the situation
and told them what the consequences would be if they attempted to
fulfil their mission. Happily, however, both gentlemen being more
concerned with the coming of the kingdom of God than about obeying
the letter of their orders, did indeed go into the pulpit, but it was
at the request of Mr. Chambers, who made them his firm friends for
life. When there they co-operated with him, assisting to conduct the
services, and not a word was said about the pulpit being vacant. Thus
God, through his servant, quieted the Irishmen, and then and there
magnified this man who had a genius for friendship and was an expert
peacemaker; all of which was for the coming of the kingdom and the
good of souls.

As days passed by, the people of the congregation, realizing that if
they wanted to have a minister they would have to be an independent
church, took prompt action. After due notice had been given, a
congregational meeting was held. By a vote of four to one the people
declared themselves independent of all church courts, with only Christ
as their Master. By another vote, equally large, they resolved to
retain John Chambers as their minister.

The minority, led by Mr. Moses Reed, one of the elders, withdrew,
and in a room on Race street organized themselves as the Ninth
Presbyterian Church. In the law suit that followed, the seceders won
their case. With the edifice, given up in 1830, went the possession of
the small burying ground on Race street, above Nineteenth, in which
sleeps the dust of the Ross family and the father of the renowned
soldier's friend, Miss Anna Ross, whom defenders of the Union from
1861 to 1865, and the survivors of the Grand Army remember so well. In
the writer's memory her name and face are not forgotten, for she was
his Sunday School teacher.

                             CHAPTER VI.


In Nevins' Presbyterian Encyclopedia, which contains a brief sketch
of the career of John Chambers and a wood-cut portrait of him in his
prime, it is stated, that "When Mr. Duncan about this time renounced
the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church into which the Associate
Reformed, with Dr. Mason and others had been merged, Dr. Chambers
followed his example, from sympathy with his teacher". Was the pupil's
"sympathy" stronger than were the preacher's convictions?

Meanwhile the young minister, then twenty-seven years old, returned
to Baltimore to meet the Presbytery and seek ordination. Here again
another obstacle arose. The theologians on the Patapsco declared that
Mr. Chambers was no longer a licentiate under their care, and handed
him back his papers. Again was John Chambers preacher of the gospel
rejected of men. Was ecclesiasticism good order in this case? Did the
true cause of this rather rough treatment lie in this, that he had
been a pupil of John Mason Duncan, the independent?

What should the young man do? Disowned of presbyteries and looked at
suspiciously by the fathers and lords in the church, where should he
go? As he himself wrote on his fiftieth anniversary, May 9th, 1875:

"The prospect, therefore, was rather chilly. I had left my home
of many years in the city of Baltimore, where I received all the
education that ever was bestowed upon me, and where I sat at the
feet of that Gamaliel, the Reverend John Mason Duncan, to whom under
God, I am indebted, entirely by His grace, for the position I occupy
to-day. My heart had been much interested in religious matters for
two or three years before I left Baltimore. There were five or six of
us young men, as students of Mr. Duncan, and we had organized some
meetings through the city of Baltimore, and God was with us; and
the warm heart--if I had any warm heart at all--that I brought to
Philadelphia, was kindled at the altar of those dear young brethren.
How much we are indebted to God for young men! How much, my brethren,
are the eldership, are you, am I, indebted to young men!" Dr.
Chambers's last words in this paragraph are especially appropriate,
because it is the tendency of most theologians and elderly men to
teach that God _was_, not that he is. With young men, God's existence
is more likely to be in the present tense.

The ecclesiastical orphan, thus cast fatherless and friendless
upon the wide world, began to inquire whither he should go to seek
ordination. Happily there were other bodies of Christians and a
living church of Christ, besides the one which had withheld its
blessing. Happily too, there were men in the Presbyterian Churches
of Philadelphia, warm friends, who were able to direct him wisely,
one of them being the large-hearted scholar, James Patriot Wilson,
D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, predecessor of Albert
Barnes, and then fifty-six years old. The other was Rev. Thomas
Harvey Skinner, D.D., pastor of the Fifth Presbyterian Church in
Locust street, and who, twenty-six years afterwards, became the
famous professor in Union Theological Seminary of New York City.
Both of these men were in hearty sympathy with those views of truth
afterwards called the "New School". These brethren with Dr. Duncan,
advised Mr. Chambers to go into Yankee land and there be ordained
by Congregational clergymen. They gave him letters of introduction
to the Rev. Nathaniel W. Taylor, the famous exponent of "the new
divinity" and then of the theological department of Yale College.

It was not Presbyterianism only that was at this era being rocked on
the waves of progress by the gales of the Spirit. About this time, or
shortly afterwards, Connecticut Congregationalism was being excited
and lifted out of torpor and routine by the breezy discussions of
"Taylorism" and "Tylerism". The former expressed the views of Dr.
Nathaniel William Taylor, the successor of Moses Stuart, and then
holding the Dwight professorship in the Theological Department of
Yale College. The young seminary opened in 1822 was therefore but
three years old when Mr. Chambers appeared to be ordained. Whatever
may be the true label we put upon Dr. N. W. Taylor, he was one of the
greatest of America's theologians when the appeal was being taken from
Calvin to Christ. He taught a modification of Hopkinsism which many
Presbyterians regarded as hostile to Calvinism and many New Englanders
as "unsound". As Mr. Chambers had already done, Dr. Taylor repudiated
the words "predestinate" and "decreed" and used the word "purposed"
concerning God's desire to save men. Before he died, in 1858, he had
trained over seven hundred ministers. Ex-President Dwight, in his
recent book on Men and Memories of Yale, presents him felicitously in
word and picture.

About the time also of rising "Taylorism" the new methods of preaching
and revival used by Rev. C. G. Finney, afterwards president of
Oberlin College, excited much alarm among the men of the old school.
How strange are the variations and how curious is the progress
of orthodoxy! Most of the great revivalists of this country were
nourished in the Congregational churches; and, from Finney to Moody,
they were at first looked upon with suspicion. Later they were
welcomed and lauded as the saviors of orthodoxy. Verily the "earthen
vessel" is sometimes more in evidence than the "heavenly treasure".

To combat the views of Dr. Taylor, Dr. Bennett Tyler, ex-president of
Dartmouth College, and then pastor at Portland, Me., was hailed as the
champion by all the leading spirits among the "conservatives", though
both of these great teachers had modified the original Calvinism. Of
Dr. Tyler it has been well said that "In forming his system he began
not with mind, but with the Bible, and he looked for no advances in
theology except such as come from a richer Christian experience". Dr.
Tyler founded a theological institute at East Windsor, Conn., in 1834,
so long and ably presided over by the cultured Philadelphian, Chester
D. Hartranft, D.D., brother of Pennsylvania's soldier and governor.

The monuments of these controversies between "Taylorism" and
"Tylerism", now forgotten, are seen in the superb theological
seminaries of New Haven and Hartford, but the points of difference,
as now discoverable only under the microscope of research, are of
no practical importance. Hardly any one except the hair-splitting
philosophers can state them. They have been forgotten in the larger
vision of advancing Christianity. So will it be with most of the
controversies of to-day, especially those centering in the "higher

It was to Dr. N. W. Taylor, that Mr. Chambers had letters, as well as
to Dr. Leonard Bacon, afterwards the famous opponent of slavery, and
author, in 1833 of the hymn,

      "O God beneath thy guiding hand
      Our exiled fathers crossed the sea,
    And when they trod the wintry strand
      With prayer and psalm they worshipped thee."

For over twenty years Dr. Bacon was pastor of the First Congregational
Church in New Haven, one of the professors in Yale Divinity School,
and the progenitor of a remarkably intellectual family. Until his
death, the day before Christmas of 1881, he was a commanding figure in
American history. Of the council which ordained Mr. Chambers he was
the scribe. It will be seen at a glance that the ecclesiastical exile
from Philadelphia and Baltimore was to stand before giants. If these
mighty men of God could give him ordination, why need he mourn the
loss of clerical favor nearer home?

Thus armed with letters of commendation, the young Irish-American
proceeded to the City of Elms, in the opening week of December, 1825.
It was the first year of John Quincy Adams's administration, and the
Erie Canal had joined the waters of the great lakes with the Atlantic.
It was an era of mighty conquests over nature, and the heart of the
young man who was thrilling with the spirit of the age and of the
ages, beat high with hope. He, too, wanted to do great things for God
and help in making the world better. He sought out those addressed,
and handed to them his letters. Two days afterwards, the Association
of Congregational ministers of the Western District of New Haven
County was called together by the Moderator, and eight ministers were
present in the assembly which was held in the Centre Church.

Of the meeting, the following official record was copied out for the
biographer, at the request of Rev. Dr. T. T. Munger, author of The
Freedom of Faith, and through the courtesy of Rev. Franklin Dexter,
librarian of Yale University.

"At a Special Meeting of the Association of the Western District of
New Haven County, convened by letters from the Moderator and holden in
New Haven, December 7th, 1825.

Present--Messrs. S. W. Stebbins, J. Day, D.D., E. Scranton, S. Merwin,
J. Allen, E. T. Fitch and L. Bacon.

Mr. Stebbins was chosen Moderator, and Mr. Bacon, Scribe. The session
was opened with prayer.

Mr. John Chambers, a licentiate of the late second Presbytery of
Philadelphia, now dissolved, being introduced to the Association by
Mr. Merwin, requested to be ordained to the ministry of the Gospel,
and producing proper testimonials of his standing as a member of
the church of Christ; of his regular license to preach the Gospel,
and of his having passed through a period of probation, with proper
acceptance, the Association, after examining him as to his belief
in the doctrines of the Gospel, his experimental acquaintance with
religion, and his motives in desiring the work of the ministry,

_Voted_ to proceed to his ordination this evening at half-past six

_Voted_ that the parts be performed as follows: The introductory
prayer to be offered by Mr. Scranton; the sermon to be preached by
Professor Fitch; the ordaining prayer to be offered by Mr. Merwin,
during which Messrs. Stebbins, Fitch and Merwin to impose hands; the
charge to be given by Mr. Stebbins; the right hand of fellowship by
Mr. Bacon; the concluding prayer to be offered by Mr. Allen. Adjourned
to meet in the Centre Meeting-house at half-past six o'clock.

Met according to adjournment. The ordination took place according to
the preceding votes.

Mr. Chambers, at his request, was admitted a member of the Association.

The minutes were read and accepted.

    [TEST]       LEONARD BACON, Scribe."

The ordination sermon was duly preached in the evening by the Rev.
Professor Eleazer T. Fitch, D.D., Livingstone Professor of Divinity
in Yale College, and then Mr. Chambers was ordained by the laying on
of hands of the three appointed ministers of the Association.

According to Congregational usage an Association of ministers does
not ordain to the ministry, but a Council does. The Association may
transform itself into a Council for the time being. In Connecticut
the Consociation, or standing council, performed this function. In
any event, John Chambers was properly ordained to the Gospel ministry
according to due Congregational call, form, and precedent.

Furthermore, by his own request, he became a member of the
Association. This did not make him a "Congregationalist", but it
showed his hearty sympathy with the principles and ideas of his
fellow members. For forty-eight years, his only ministerial standing
and connection was in the Congregational body as an independent
minister, though his church was governed according to Presbyterian
form and usage. So strong and deep was his faith in the validity of
non-Episcopal and non-Presbyterian ordination that he showed it all
his life by his works. He ordained during the course of his ministry
several young men to the work of the gospel. One of these impressive
ceremonies I myself witnessed, probably about 1859. After preaching a
sermon and reading the papers or certificates of the candidate, Mr.
Chambers called his elders, those grand men of God, Burtis, Luther,
Steinmetz, and Walton around him. Then upon the head of the kneeling
young man he and they laid their hands, solemnly ordaining him to the
gospel in true apostolic style.

Years afterwards, in 1892, one of his own boys, even the biographer,
delivered the Dudleian lecture at Harvard University in Appleton
Chapel on "The Validity of non-Episcopal Ordination", or, more
exactly, the validity of ordination by the congregation, according
to the method of the primitive Christian Churches[5]. By a strange
coincidence, it was on the same night, Dec. 7, on which Mr. Chambers
was ordained, and thus the sixty-seventh anniversary of his ordination.

[Footnote 5: See the Bibliotheca Sacra, for October, 1893.]

Mr. Chambers left New Haven the next morning, Dec. 8th, 1825. The
elms were leafless, but his heart was happy and his face radiant
with joy. Coming back to minister to his constantly increasing
flock, he baptized on the first Sunday in January, 1826, several new
communicants and administered for the first time the memorial supper
of Jesus. It was a day long to be remembered, for between seventy and
eighty souls were on this occasion added to the church, and the young
pastor, in the joy of his initial service, baptized the first child
that ever received the dedicating waters from his hands, John Chambers
Arrison, the first of a mighty host.

In 1875, the white-haired pastor who had welcomed 3,585 members into
his church, said: "Thus it seemed that the tide of God's favor was
taken at the flood, and it has brought us to where we are to-day".

                             CHAPTER VII.

                   HOME AND CHURCH. LOVE AND WORK.

Let us now look into John Chambers's inner life,--of the heart as
well as the intellect. We have seen how the vigorous and lusty twig
which grew up in the classical academy of Baltimore began to bend
away from certain statements and formulæ in the Westminster symbols,
_as then interpreted to him_, which gave the afterwards robust and
widespreading tree a tremendous inclination. "As a man thinketh in his
heart, so is he." John Chambers's convictions shaped his message and
colored all his preaching. There were probably reasons, other than
those merely intellectual, for the young man's tremendous antipathy
to the idea that the fullness of the Christian life and the message
of Jesus could be compressed into the mathematical statements made at
Westminster during the days of the British Commonwealth.

When I was a student at Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey,
from 1865 to 1869, I was asked, as an incoming freshman, by the
president, Rev. William H. Campbell, D.D., LL.D., concerning my
religious training. I told him how much I owed to John Chambers in
Philadelphia. A bland light overspread the full expanse of that face,
so seamed with thought and studious toil and which nothing but warm
affection could call handsome. Indeed, it seemed as though every
wrinkle was smoothed out, as a prairie-like smile suffused its whole
area. Then, laughing heartily, he said, "Well, I can remember when
he had orthodoxy taught him with the sole of a slipper." Evidently
then, according to the accepted and supposedly wholesome custom of the
times, the future preacher received at intervals what was expected
to be a physical aid to faith, though in reality the result was the
reverse of what was expected. Whether the slipper was applied to the
lad before or after intellectual defection, its use induced reaction.
Whether, as is probable, the correction by leather came from the
employer to whom the apprentice was bound, or from the schoolmaster is
not known. The boy would not accept Westminsterism whole, certainly
not as then interpreted.

Above all, this young Irish-American lad had a big, warm heart. As
he read the Scriptures for himself he was early filled with that
idea, which afterwards he infused into the lives of thousands,
that the gospel is a glorious message to the individual, that the
Christian life is a Way, as well as a belief, that there are elements
in religious life and experience which do not submit to exact
definitions, and that the mercy of God is the largest factor of the
Divine life toward wrong-doing man. In this the time of his youth,
as well as all through his life, he felt deeply rather than thought
coolly. Whether we must ascribe most or all of the results to the
towering personality of his teacher, John Mason Duncan, and of his
long continued training at a most susceptible age under so forceful
a master, certainly, whatever our philosophy of the known facts may
be, he was filled with an antipathy to creeds. In a time and climate
of theological severity, and amid the rancor of controversy, he was,
among his clerical brethren who set higher value than he did, upon
"the form of sound words" or logical formulas, verily a pilgrim and
stranger upon the earth. He rejoiced to see by faith the day we live
in, even the work of the General Assembly, and of the Synods and
Presbyteries of 1903.

Ever hoping and praying for the day to come when the creeds,
especially of the Presbyterian body of churches, in which he had
been educated, would be revised, he lived and "died in faith, not
having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them
from afar". The change of theological climate, the revision of the
Westminster symbols and the simplification of theology into which we,
in this twentieth century have come, even the work of the General
Assembly, that met in New York in 1902, and in Los Angeles in 1903,
was what he in hope long ago looked for. He believed in expressing
forms of faith in the language of living men, not of dead ones, for he
ever taught not only that God was, but that He is.

To recapitulate, John Chambers left the classical academy in 1818,
after five years' instruction. He remained seven years longer in
Baltimore, active in church life and work. During this time, he was
occupied also in business, thus earning his livelihood, for he had
learned the trade of a jeweler. During these years, his life was made
rich and joyous by one who had crossed his path, and who was to be to
him his beloved wife, Miss Helen McHenry. She was the first of three
noble specimens of womanhood who were to light his household fire,
irradiate his home, double and share his joys and sorrows. How often
and how tenderly did "our pastor" refer to "the partner of his life",
the beloved "companion of his bosom!" What a refining power, what a
potent influence, stimulating to marital purity and mutual "love that
lightens all distress", was his steadfast example. It was his frequent
felicitous use of passages from the Song of Songs, that so impressed
one boy's mind that, despite his vow, registered in college, never
to write a "commentary", he composed and published "The Lily Among

[Footnote 6: The Lily Among Thorns. A Study of the Biblical Drama
entitled The Song of Songs. Boston, 1889.]

Let us look at the heredity of his affianced. As early as 1735,
Francis McHenry, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian church came
from Ireland to America and was associated with Gilbert Tennant in the
Deep Run, or Neshaminy, churches in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and
also in the beginnings of the Log College, which by direct evolution
became the great Princeton University.

His grandson was Francis Dean McHenry, a shipping merchant of
Baltimore, whose daughter Helen was born in September, 1805, when the
boy in Ohio was nearly seven years old. When he met her in Baltimore,
he had the lover's "three T's" or elements of success--propinquity,
opportunity, and importunity. Those who knew John Chambers in later
life will not marvel why he won her, rather might they wonder how
any maiden could resist the urgency of the warm-hearted and handsome
youth, who was the largest and handsomest of the Chambers family. As
matter of fact, she made capitulation in due time and was led to the

It was but a very short time after John Chambers had reached the first
stadium in his successful career and was an ordained minister, that
the marriage took place in Baltimore, March 14th, 1826.

The young preacher brought his bride to Philadelphia and enjoyed just
three years and six months of wedded happiness with the companion of
his youth. Those who remember Mrs. Chambers speak of her beauty and
animation, and of her whole-hearted sympathy with her husband's work,
but her life was destined to be brief. The first child born of the
union was John Mason Duncan Chambers, whom the happy father joyfully
named after his spiritual father, under whom his soul life had opened
and ripened in Baltimore. His second child, a daughter, Helen Frances
Chambers, now Mrs. James Hackett, living at Pomfret Centre, Conn.,
still survives him.

John Mason Duncan Chambers, born March 15, 1827, married Miss Emma
Ward of Winchester, Virginia, in October, 1851. He died November,
1857, leaving three children, of whom Helen McHenry is the only
survivor. She is married to Mr. George Lothrop Bradley, of Pomfret
Centre, Conn., and Washington, D. C.

Helen Frances Chambers, born April 25, 1829, was married July 17,
1849, to Mr. James Hackett, of Baltimore. Their one surviving child,
Helen McHenry Hackett, married George F. Miles. With Mrs. Hackett,
these two grandchildren are the only descendants of John Chambers.

The pastor, elect and ordained, brought his bride to Philadelphia
and took a house on Thirteenth street, below Walnut, and there began
his home. Being on the same street as his church, he had not been
many months at work before scores of people living on Thirteenth,
or streets parallel and crossing it, were attracted to become
worshippers with him as their pastor. As one lady, still lovely in
her eighty years of life, tells the story from girlhood's memories,
the "Chamberites", as they were at first called, were every Sunday
morning seen to be moving with their faces set northward toward "the
Church of the Vow"; and the preacher, being from the first the soul of
promptness, "led the procession".

Between Thirteenth and Broad streets and Walnut and Locust, had grown
up "the Village", where for lack of accommodation in the church
edifice, the Sunday School was established. On Sabbath afternoons, the
whole school adjourned bodily to the church, walking up Thirteenth
street to Filbert.

Yet even with a growing Sunday School and enlarging church membership,
the way of the young pastor was far from smooth, and the First
Independent Church of Philadelphia was in no danger of being
smothered with kindness. Almost as a matter of course, an industrious
army of prophets arose to foretell failure to a church founded on
the Bible alone. Rather, instead of "prophets", we should say a
busy host of fortune-tellers, since the Hebrew and Biblical word,
prophet, does not mean predicter, but the utterer of truth. The little
ecclesiastical infant, rather foundling, needed much warmth of prayer
and devotion, certainly during its first decade. With shakings of the
head and emphatic use of the hands in dreadful warning of calamity,
the Philadelphia variety of soothsayers declared that in two or three
years, the First Independent Church would go to pieces. Both laymen
and ministers were loud in declaring that such a church, without a
"creed," (though the Bible is a very library of creeds), could not
thrive or live. The idea of success in rearing a church, with the
Holy Scriptures only as a rule of faith and practice, was scoffed at.
In our day, it does indeed seem strange that Protestant ministers
should so talk, but experience, the great teacher, showed "the divine
sufficiency of the Bible as a rule of faith and practice, and ... also
a bond of union holding together a large and flourishing congregation
in Christian love and harmony". So wrote John Chambers in 1859.

However, "liberal", or, rather scriptural, in his theological
opinions, the young minister was, since especially he cared nothing
for any man's boasted "predestination" or "election" to eternal life,
unless that same man showed the fruits of faith in holy living, he
was anything but liberal in his ideas of morals, or as related to
amusements, or the keeping of the Christian day of rest. We shall see
this clearly when we note how he dealt with one of his theatre-going

In his fortieth anniversary sermon, May 14th, 1865, which was printed,
Mr. Chambers referred to this experience, stating that during the
two-score years of his ministry no word of disagreement, or of an
unpleasant character with his fellow-presbyters, had ever been spoken,
with the exception that we are about to describe, and which, in order
to make a perfectly correct record, Mr. Chambers himself would not

Shortly after administering his first communion, the young pastor
found that "one of the original elders was in the habit of attending
theatrical amusements and of taking his children with him". What
resulted from this discovery is given in his own words:

"This conduct was so directly in opposition to what were then my
convictions of what was right, and which opinion I still hold--so
directly in the face of the teachings of the Bible, that I could not
remain silent under it, but at once sought Mr. ----, in order that we
might have a mutual explanation of our views. Upon my putting the
question to him, as to whether he thought his course was a proper
one--whether it was the love of Christ which induced him to frequent
such places, and if in so doing he was bringing up his children in
the nurture and admonition of the Lord by making them his companions
on such occasions, I found that he was obstinate in his determination
to adhere to his own course of action. I referred him to Second
Corinthians, sixth chapter, fourteenth to eighteenth verse, and then
told him that I could not and would not serve with him in the Session;
that either he or I must resign, and proposed that it should be left
to the vote of the Church. If the Church advocated or permitted
indulgence in theatrical amusements, if it was considered a means of
grace and the proper school in which children were to be trained up
for God, there was but one path for me to pursue--to dissolve my
connection with them at once. If on the contrary they sustained me in
my views, Mr. ---- must resign. He was unwilling to submit the matter
to the vote of the congregation, knowing only too well that their
standard of piety was a high one, and that his conduct would meet with
their severe displeasure. Consequently he resigned his office of elder
in the spring of 1826, and from that day to this neither elder nor lay
member has advocated visits to the theatre as the way to heaven, and I
am sure with the Bible as their rule of life, never will".

  [Illustration: JOHN CHAMBERS. About 1856.]

It soon became very evident that the young minister and his people
were Separatists of a strict sort. They believed in being "in the
world", but not "of the world". The passages in Corinthians which had
been quoted, "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate",
was one on which the pastor preached many times in the course of his
ministry. His insistence was from the first that Christian people
ought to find their enjoyment in religion and be visibly different
from those who had no scruples against cards, dancing, gaming, or the

Was not John Chambers right? He had a just fear of the real influence
of these methods of killing time. Furthermore, those who can remember
the Chestnut street, of even as late as the sixties, need not wonder
at his earnest and pointed preaching--for every sermon-bullet of John
Chambers hit the target, and usually the bull's eye. In language not
to be mistaken and often with tears, he called upon young men and
women to rise upon higher levels into a more spiritual life than
was then common. A realistic description of the vice, that openly
flaunted itself on Philadelphia's gayest street, would not here be in
good taste, or be relished if given; but it was something horrible.
Whether the world, on the whole, is getting better or worse, it is
quite certain that the houses of ill-fame, the midnight street-walkers
and the pictures once visible in public places and in the saloons,
inexpressibly obscene as they were, are not found at the present time,
or if so, are much more concealed, for they have at least been driven
to cover. It seemed to be the idea of the young minister that he ought
to know what was going on in the world, and to teach his people to
know, while yet choosing the pure, and avoiding the impure. He was
liberal enough in his attitude to his brethren of other names, always
working with them in practical religion.

Some of the years of his first marriage were spent on Arch street,
near 13th street. In later years he lived on Walnut above Broad on
the south side. From about the time of "the war" and until his death,
he dwelt at the corner of 12th and Girard street north of Chestnut.
Thus his whole pastoral life was spent in the very heart of the city,
seeing things as they were, and with his eyes open to the manner in
which the people amused themselves.

                            CHAPTER VIII.


A large number, and probably a majority of the large congregation
which soon gathered around John Chambers, were people from Scotland or
Scottish-Ireland, and, like most of this sturdy race, were very fond
of both religion and whiskey. The customs of society in the thirties
made the social glass very frequent. The chief decoration of the
sideboard was usually a decanter and glasses. Even a funeral was not
considered complete in all its appointments, unless there was plenty
of liquor drunk before the corpse was taken out of the house, much
more being consumed when the company came back.

From the very first, the young pastor took a firm stand against
indulgence in any intoxicating liquor, and spoke his mind most freely,
in favor not only of temperance but also of total abstinence. He
determined to use his oratorical talents in arousing public sentiment
against the drinking habits of his day, and he presided over the first
public temperance meeting held in Philadelphia. He went further.
He gave notice from his pulpit that he should enter no house where
liquors were provided, not even to hold services over the dead.

This announcement made a tremendous sensation, and no doubt some
thought that the foundations of society were endangered. Soon after
this ultimatum, the pastor repaired to a house to conduct services
over the dead, and found that liquors were being served. Instantly
going out doors, he remained standing in a drenching rain, refusing to
officiate, until the corpse had been brought to him.

Throughout his long ministry, he continued this work, seeking by
sermons, addresses, prayers, the taking of pledges, the assistance of
reformed inebriates, the training of young men, and by every other
lawful means to promote temperance and total abstinence. Not always
abstemious in his language, he made bitter enemies among the liquor
dealers, but although of superb physical frame and excellent muscular
power he used no physical force or carnal methods of defence, with
possibly one exception. Once a publican seized him by the collar, as
he was walking along the street, and swore vociferously at him. Pretty
soon he had abused his victim so exhaustively, that he was himself out
of breath. At the end of this verbal discharge, Mr. Chambers who had
listened quietly, lifted his hat, thanked him, said "good morning,"
and went his way. In 1849 he was introduced to an audience as "the
war-horse of the temperance cause." Ever after this he was known as
"the war-horse." One elder left his church on this liquor issue.

It began to look as if an independent church (which is very far from
being a Congregational Church) was, as some had predicted, "anything
that John Chambers chose to make it." Certainly under the dominating
personality of so bold and yet so tender a soldier of Christ, the
church quickly rose to be one of the most aggressive in the city of

After ten or fifteen years of service, when his congregation had
increased and lads and lassies were multiplied, he organized in 1840
the Youth's Temperance Society. It was made up of young people. Once
a month or every two months, alternating with the Missionary Society,
the afternoon Sunday School service took the form of a temperance
meeting; at which, besides prayer and singing, addresses were made
by speakers, either from the congregation or without. There were
also occasionally recitations, but the crowning event of the year,
for which preparations were made often weeks in advance, was the
anniversary. This was held on the evening of Washington's Birthday,
February 22d, either in the church edifice or at Concert Hall on
Chestnut Street, which is now occupied by the Public Library.

Exquisitely lovely in memory rises the scene, when after duly
committing to memory and practicing, cutting down to the right length
and repeatedly rehearsing the speeches, the dialogues and the musical
parts, the boys and the girls, in a glow of excitement, gathered in
the rooms below the stage. The little maidens in their best clothes
and most bewitching adornments in hair and dress and slippers, seemed
to me most radiantly lovely. The boys who were to be speakers had
on their coats a rosette of quilled ribbon, in the center of which
was a tinsel star, from which gushed forth a cataract of red, white,
and blue satin pendants or streamers. How gay and happy we all were!
How heaven-like it all appeared! Except for the thumping of one's
heart under his ribs, it seemed positive rapture to hear one's
name announced by the superintendent, Aaron H. Burtis--that superb
re-incarnation, as we thought, of George Washington. To make one's bow
before a thousand human beings, to speak his piece with high pulse
and magnetic thrills, were delights that filled a few triumphant
moments. Stirring are the memories of the genial pastor, ever ready to
cheer the boys, the portly form of Robert Luther, the happy faces of
John Yard, Francis Newland, Daniel Steinmetz and Rudolph S. Walton,
and the younger but constantly efficient Robert H. Hinckley, Jr. The
Youth's Temperance Society flourished until the close of Mr. Chambers'
ministry. Although all of the lads trained under John Chambers did
not as they grew up, become Prohibitionists, yet a small army of
good citizens, earnest in temperance reform, owe their strength of
conviction to their noble pastor.

In this temperance work as in his preaching, and his attacks on evil
of any sort John Chambers was as bold as a lion. He spent much time
and travelled to many places in order to take part in temperance
meetings and encourage the workers. In Neil Dow's reminiscences,
page 416, is an account of a great temperance meeting in New York on
February 19th, 1852, at which the Philadelphia pastor was present. Dr.
Crowell tells of another held at Chester, Pa. Dr. A. A. Willetts and
Dr. Theodore Cuyler were often with the "War Horse" in his campaigns.

On one occasion when a barkeeper repeatedly sold liquor to one who
was near and dear to the pastor and already a victim to physical
decay and disease, induced by his drinking habits, Mr. Chambers went
into the saloon, stated the exact case to the barkeeper and warned
him not to sell any more liquor to the patient. Escaping from his
nurse, the wretched man entered the saloon, again procured liquor
and became decidedly worse. Finding what had been done, Mr. Chambers
went to the barkeeper in fiery anger and said: "Didn't I warn you not
to sell liquor to ----?" Then seizing him by his shoulders, he gave
the publican a vigorous shaking, and again warned him, threatening a
severe penalty. The barkeeper was so mightily impressed, that he is
said to have sold no more to the patient.

During all these early years, Mr. Chambers kept his young men busy in
active evangelical work, especially in the holding of neighborhood
prayer meetings on what were then the outskirts of the city. In 1875,
Rev. J. J. Baker, pastor of a Baptist Church at Navesink, N. J.,
testified at the jubilee meeting to the intense activity of the young
men of the church, with which he had united in 1829. Four whom he
named, Summers, Burnham, Hunterson, and Town entered the ministry.
He told of the zeal and activity of elders Hibbert and Arrison. "The
young men of that time were interested in two prayer meetings, one
held in the 'old frame,' as it was called--a barn down town, out of
which effort grew 'The Cedar Street Presbyterian Church.' The other
prayer meeting was held in 'The Girard School House,' out of which
grew two churches, one Lutheran and one Baptist."

John Chambers was also a rigid Sabbatarian, and in this, it was
not difficult to find an enthusiastic following, for main in
his congregation, who remembered the strictness and severity of
sabbath-keeping in the old countries, warmly seconded his efforts to
train the young people after their ideas of how the Lord's day should
be kept in America. Doubtless in the majority of the thousands of this
Israel, the usual custom was to have baths, washings, the polishing
of boots, and the preparation of outer clothing done on Saturday; but
a still grander triumph was won by the new pastor and a precedent set
for fifty years to come. Sunday funerals had been the rule, even to
occasional disgusting excesses, both in prolonging the preservation by
"icing" the corpse, and in the intemperate feasting and drinking after
the return of the "mourners"--often a very mixed company.

John Chambers saw the folly and the wickedness of unnecessary Sunday
funerals. He exposed their true inwardness and refused to attend
them. This, of course, angered some of his people, and a few left the
church. But how could they stay away? Out of love to Christ and for
the good of the working man and of horses, John Chambers had acted.
His motives were pure. He went after his offended brethren and won
them back. So the peacemaker, true child of God, led his flock--so
well indeed that "his boys", when pastors, had to do the same thing.
They couldn't help it. History repeated itself. It was first firmness
in the pulpit, then offense, next fair scripture argument and personal
appeal, followed by reconciliation, with the result that God and His
Sabbath were honored. It was God's pathetic appeal with Jonah over
again--"and also much cattle." Even a horse should rest on Sunday. The
fullness of energy could thus be given to divine worship and to the
complete enjoyment of a day, so different from all the other six days.

The Sabbath, as I remember it in church and home, was a rubric on our
week's page. The normal family in the Chambers church, of which ours
was one, were all ready at home on Sunday morning so as to be punctual
at church. After a good breakfast, including the traditional "Dutch
cake and coffee" for the elders and grownups, and plenty of the same
sweet and nourishing food, saving the Mocha, for the young folks,
we started off from home so as to be at Sunday school a few minutes
before nine o'clock. The session lasted until quarter past ten, which
gave ample time for the breaking up and dismissing of the classes, the
social greetings of friends, and a comfortable interval for getting
into the larger auditorium above, where service began punctually at

The Sunday school had been started as a novelty in the days of the old
Thirteenth Street Church by the pastor shortly after his coming to
Philadelphia. Although I do not remember that he ever taught a class
himself, or ever heard of his doing so, yet there was one feature
of his connection with and interest in the Sunday School which has
been to me and to many an inspiration for life. Not long after the
preliminary devotional exercises were over, our handsome leader, of
stately port and mien, appeared on the scene. Going to each class he
shook hands heartily with each and every teacher, and often saluted,
or in some way noticed, the children of the class, speaking a pleasant
word, or inquiring after sister or brother, parent or relative. Often
to their delight he called the pupils by their first names, for he
was able to do this. Both teachers and scholars would look for the
appearing of this grand man as regularly as they awaited the sunlight.
The pastor kept ever in vital touch with the Sunday School, generally
remaining until near the time for his engagement upstairs. Thus he
inaugurated a custom which was life-long and inspiring, and which many
another active pastor has followed in true apostolical succession.

Would my readers wish to have a specimen of John Chambers's preaching
even in his early days? To do this by presenting simply ink and paper
is not to reveal "thoughts that breathe and words that burn". It
is simply to point to a pressed flower, bleached of its tints and
with all its perfume exhaled, for the sermon was the man himself.
Nevertheless, a faded and time-stained pamphlet of fifteen pages,
entitled "Sermon by the Rev. Mr. John Chambers, delivered at the
Presbyterian Church in Thirteenth Street, Philadelphia, on the evening
of December 2, 1827", when Universalism was then new and in the air,
from these words, "Ye shall not surely die", gives some idea of the
general style and quality of the young preacher. The discourse was
"taken in shorthand by M. T. C. Gould, Stenographer".

Let us in imagination take our seat in the little brick church among
his audience and listen to the discourse. Even the stenographer, owing
to the crowd, was, as he says, in "a very unfavorable position for
hearing." But who could not hear such a voice?

The sermon is a vigorous setting forth of religion in the genuine
old-fashioned style, in a torrent of emotional and not particularly
logical oratory. It is an assault upon the notions of those "who would
persuade you that the idea of future punishment is only the visionary
dream of fanatics". The especial reference is to "those emissaries who
are so industriously engaged in seeking to destroy the souls of men:
they are laboring by all the ingenuity of the arch fiend himself, who
first presented the forbidden fruit under such bewitching charms".

The new pastor believes that this system "leads to the destruction
of all morality and religion". By him the Eden narrative is read
as a literal fact. The young orator quotes from Montesquieu, Lord
Bolingbroke (though the reporter could not catch either the point or
the words) and Hume, by which he would prove that "this system leads
to the destruction of civil society and civil government". Warming to
his theme, he declares that "all vice is the immediate offspring of
the dogmas of Universalism.... The doctrine of universal salvation
leads to all the vices and abominations under heaven". Reference is
made to the fact that "New York tells a mournful tale in consequence
of this doctrine"--the allusion being to a recent duel between a
citizen of New York and a citizen of Philadelphia. The preacher even
declares that "a man holding such sentiments should never be entrusted
with any civil office".[7]

[Footnote 7: Was this the duel of Midshipman Hunter and the brilliant
young Philadelphia lawyer, Miller, the latter losing his life and the
former becoming the famous "Alvarado" Hunter told of in the life of
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, (Boston, 1887) p. 239?]

Against the background of "fire and brimstone and an horrible tempest
upon the wicked and ungodly" he pressed the invitation to come to "the
Redeeming Saviour, the Divine Saviour, the Glorified Saviour". The
eloquent preacher closes his discourse, which is from beginning to end
directed to the conscience, with a good, warm, direct appeal to his
hearers for personal decision.

Enough of proof is here given that from the first, even to the last
year, if not the latest moment of his life, John Chambers never lost
sight of the needy, sinful, human soul, and that he always closed
with a tender and affectionate personal appeal. Men might be as
steel against his logic, but their hearts melted under his winning

One great landmark in John Chambers's life was his visit to Europe
in 1830. His excessive labors and long-continued use of his voice in
public discourse compelled him to cease both preaching and pastoral
work. As he said in 1875:

"In the year 1830 I lost my voice so that I could not have been heard
twenty paces from where I am now if you had given me the world. My
physician ordered me away and I was gone fourteen months. When the
announcement was made to my brethren that I had to go they instantly
made arrangements. They put into my purse twenty-five hundred dollars,
and into the hand of my dear friend and brother, Rev. Dr. Ludlow, the
father of Judge Ludlow, one thousand dollars to preach on the Sabbath
for one year, making thirty-five hundred dollars down at once. It was
a noble and generous act on their part".

Such generosity was as surprising to the young pastor as it was
creditable to the people themselves. To see the great ocean and
the Old World at a time of the fullness of his manly vigor and
professional success, travelling in a first-class steamer, compelled
contrast with his first crossing of the ocean as a helpless baby and
with a father who was an exile and political refugee. In England he
was so fortunate as to see the royal maiden who had just been in 1830
made heiress presumptive to the Crown on the accession of William IV.
Possibly it was at this time that he made the acquaintance of Richard
Vaux, then secretary of the American legation, whom I remember well in
his later life as a prominent Democratic politician and mayor of the
city of Philadelphia. With his long, flowing, curled hair,--pronounced
dress and astonishing necktie, Mr. Vaux was a picturesque figure in
the Quaker City. He often boasted of having danced with the lady who
became Queen Victoria, though this was before she assumed the crown
on June 28th, 1838. While in Scotland Mr. Chambers visited the Free
Mason's lodges and enjoyed the mysteries of the Scottish rite. In
Ireland he visited his native place, Stewartstown, the house in which
he was born, and the prison in which his father had been incarcerated
and from which he escaped. He was absent in all fourteen months, and
came back refreshed in body and enlarged in mind.

In physical righteousness John Chambers stood before his boys and
young men as an inspiring exemplar. He neither "drank, chewed, smoked,
or swore." For fifty years he put to confusion those who preached the
necessity or justified the use of alcohol or tobacco. Over six feet
high, in superb health and vigor, always invitingly clean in person,
he reinforced every day the teaching of good fathers and mothers who
strove to lead their sons to noble manhood.

                             CHAPTER IX.

                        THE MASTER OF HEARTS.

In John Chambers, sanctified common sense was combined with spiritual
fervor. As a young pastor, he had right ideas about finance and the
honest support of a church. Money was needed for the salaries and
expenses of keeping the edifice comfortable and in repair. Before the
first year had passed by, it was evident to the "Chamberites", that
a new building would be necessary, even if the law suit had gone in
their favor. The voices of the croakers and prophets of evil, at first
loud and thunderous, had sunk to the "peep and mutter" stage and were
rapidly approaching silence.

In a new field, larger financial resources would be necessary, but
from the first, only manly, honorable, and truly scriptural methods of
providing revenue were employed. Never in all the history of the First
Independent Church was there a fair or supper to which admittance
was charged. Those methods of raising money, too often associated
with religious societies, to the scandal of faith, the equipment
of the jester, and the furnishing of the ungodly with excuse for
self-righteousness, were tabooed by Mr. Chambers. He believed both
that the laborer was worthy of his hire, and that men ought to pay
for their religious privileges. He was so successful in this policy
that within six years, having paid all debts, his people in the spring
of 1830 bought at Broad and George (now Sansom) streets, that lot of
land for four hundred dollars, which afterwards was sold for over
four hundred thousand dollars. The land and house of worship, the
subsequent enlargement and repairs, as well as the running expenses
of the church, so long as it was independent, were paid for by
subscriptions. "We have never in our lives," said John Chambers in
1875, "gone abroad for means to help us."

The region west of Broad street was then "out in the country". Green
fields, or vacant lots, stretched to the Schuylkill River. At Broad
and Market were the Water Works. When afterwards these were removed
and the pumps and reservoir were established at Fairmount, four small
parks, with their trees and green sward, made one of the city's
breathing spaces. Even then Broad Street was considered the western
boundary of the city of Philadelphia.

Bright and happy was that February morning of 1830 when the young
pastor, with many of his flock around him, took his place on the green
sward at Broad and Sansom streets. With his long hair brushed into
lively motion by the matin breezes, he poured out a prayer to Heaven
for the blessing of the triune God. "Like all Irishmen, John Chambers
knew how to handle the spade", and handle it well he did on that day
when he turned up the first spadeful of earth. After the diggers
came the masons, who built honestly a solid foundation, and then the
corner-stone laying in March, 1830, and finally the dedication in
June, 1831. Dr. John Mason Duncan preached first in the new house in
the morning and the sermon was royally long. One little boy, now an
honored pastor of eighty, remembers that it ended at half-past one!
Alas, that Saint Paul's faults, like that at Troas, should be more
imitated by us preachers than his virtues! In the afternoon Rev. James
Arbuckle preached. "The house was crowded to excess all day."

How one family, and indeed a group of families allied by blood or
marriage, came to be life-long supporters of and worshippers in the
First Independent Church, we must now tell. We shall speak of one
member named Mary.

It was in 1832, the winter in which the famous English actress, Fannie
Kemball, sister of Mrs. Sartoris (whose grandson, in our day, married
Nellie, the daughter of General Grant) was starring in Philadelphia in
the old Chestnut street theatre, on the South side of Philadelphia's
most fashionable street, above Sixth. Mary had spent a winter of great
gaiety, revelling in the joys of the dance, the theatre and every sort
of worldly amusement--much to the grief of her mother, a woman of
unaffected piety, who was praying that her daughter might look less at
things perishing and more at the eternal.

Yet no message from the Unseen, sent through a human preacher, had
yet reached the ears of Mary's inner being. It was while the anxious
mother was most earnestly praying, that Mary was invited by a maiden
friend, whom she had met at a picnic and with whom she had formed
a warm friendship, to visit her and go to hear the new minister on
Thirteenth street. Mary came, and saw, and heard, and was conquered.
At the first sermon she hung spell-bound on the lips of the emotional
and electrifying young orator, who during all his ministrations had
also that peculiar unction, without which, preaching, however logical
and learned, avails little.

On coming home, after the service in the new church on Broad street,
Mary told her mother that she would never go to the theatre again; she
had heard the grandest speaker that she had ever looked upon in her
life; who outshone every actor she had ever seen, and whose message
had more charms for her than the theatre itself. Soon after this Mr.
Chambers with his wife made his first pastoral call at Mary's home.

About this time, late in the winter and toward the spring, there was
a revivalist assisting Mr. Chambers, who to eloquence and magnetic
power, added the power of the draughtsman. He was an artist in words
and with the chalk also. He drew a cross on the blackboard, and
without the element of color, but with the aid of music moved the
emotions mightily. He called upon the congregation, led by sweet
voices, to sing, "Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed". His appeals, tender
and powerful, were responded to. Many were brought "under conviction"
and declared themselves from that time followers of Jesus Christ. On
the day that Mary united with the church, one hundred persons were
received at the communion table and into membership.

This is one sample picture of many of dissolving views of souls in
Mr. Chambers's ever enlarging congregation. His ministry was from the
first one of direct appeal. It was emotional, the personal element
being powerful always, but there was no leaving of the converts
to themselves or to neglect. Behind and above the Celtic fire and
enthusiasm of John Chambers, was the life of the Spirit moving them
through him. The converts were looked after. They were personally
warned, exhorted, instructed, and taught. During this first year, yes,
during fifty years, John Chambers seemed an incarnation of Paul's
scripture: "Whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus". No extra or
special meetings were held in these early years, and none that we can
recall in the later days, but the regular services were steadily "the
occasions of converting power."

I have intimated that the secret of the great preacher's power cannot
be discovered by mere logical analysis. One might as well try to
explain John Chambers's influence over human hearts and lives by
his printed words alone or through mere description, as to attempt
to show, by a simple knowledge of the properties of lead alone, the
astounding effects of a Krag army rifle. The venerable Dr. Henry Clay
Trumbull, veteran editor of the Sunday School Times, writes under date
of June 11, 1903:

"An orator's or a preacher's power sometimes depends largely on his
intensity of utterance or of manner. He can actually throw himself
into his hearers so that they will, for the time, think or feel as
he does, even beyond the meaning of his words. Thus it was said of
Whitefield as a preacher that he could move an audience to tears by
saying the word 'Mesopotamia'. One who has felt the power of some
preachers can understand the force of that statement.

"Rev. John Chambers was a man of power in this line beyond any other
of the preachers I have heard in my more than seventy years. I
sometimes came from Hartford to Philadelphia to hear him in his church
on Broad street. His voice would ring out with such intensity, and his
words would so thrill through every nerve of my being that it seemed
to me that a more than human being was making an appeal. On more than
one occasion I have taken out my pencil to note such an utterance
which had seemed to be inspired, but there was actually nothing to
write down. No period could give the ring or the thrill. It was simply
George Whitefield saying 'Mesopotamia'. It was an element of John
Chambers's power. But I love to tell of that power".

The communion seasons were from the first occasions of the
manifestation of spiritual power. Often the minister himself would be
almost overcome by his own feelings, or, perhaps we should say, by the
vividness of his vision of the crucified Lover of our souls. Often in
such a case it was his habit, during a pause in the rush of feeling
to sit down upon his chair, throw his head back and completely cover
his face with his handkerchief, his hands resting upon the arms of
his chair until his tears and the storm of emotion had swept by. These
over, he emerged as the embodiment of quiet grace, dignity, and calm
strength, the master of the assembly.

After the darkening of his home through the removal from it by death
of his wife, Mr. Chambers, left with two little children, found
consolation in even profounder consecration to the work of leading
souls into the Way. His own spiritual life was deepened and his
sympathies with suffering humanity widened by his own sorrows. He had
always a message for those, who like himself, knew the weight of known
griefs or secretly borne crosses. In later years he was to lose his
only son. My own recollections of the young physician, whom my pastor
always so tenderly referred to as "my son Duncan", are of a handsome
and promising man, whose life was all too short. I remember how keen
and warm were the sympathies of great congregations, during the time
when the father's heart was wrung with grief, as the telegrams and
letters told of the ravages of disease and the approaching end.

The biographer never saw the first Mrs. Chambers, who is described
by those who knew her as very lovely in person and manner, but her
children and the other "partners in life"--his favorite phrase--are
well remembered.

The second marriage of Mr. Chambers was on September 30th, 1834, to
Martha, the widow of Silas E. Weir, a merchant of Philadelphia and the
daughter of Alexander Henry, a merchant in Philadelphia, and aunt to
Mayor Alexander Henry.

My impressions of Martha Chambers extend from the month of March,
1855, until a short time before her death, on Friday, March 16, 1860.
I have dim remembrances of my being a very little boy, when an august
lady, who wore her hair in bands low down on her cheeks, as the
fashion then was, with a very sweet smile, spoke kindly to me in the
Broad street Church. I recall how every Sunday morning and afternoon,
the stately man of God with his "companion in life", a lady of equally
imposing appearance with himself moved up the middle aisle and, if I
am not mistaken, often arm in arm, until reaching the space opposite
the pew. Then the pastor would with his left hand, open the door.
After ceremoniously seeing his consort well inside, he would shut the
pew door and then move briskly forward and up the pulpit steps to the

Thus happy in his home life, rich in sweet domestic influences having
ever a true "help meet for him", John Chambers, during most of his
mature life, was helped not only of God but by woman's finer strength.
He was the master of hearts also in his home, having Browning's
"two soul sides". Martha Chambers once told my mother that she
envied even the washerwoman that washed her husband's clothes. In
Philadelphia to-day there are many daughters and grand-daughters that
do excellently, and they have "Martha Chambers" in their name.

Of each one of three noble specimens of womanhood, in their
appropriate time and sphere, it could be said,

"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders
of the land".

                              CHAPTER X.

                         BOYHOOD'S MEMORIES.

My earliest remembrances of the first church edifice on Broad
street, except the grand pulpit and a general glory of galleries and
chandeliers, are rather dim. The auditorium seemed to be a vast and
awful place, where a little boy would not like to be left alone in
the twilight or the darkness. Nevertheless all my daylight memories
of it are of the most genial sort. The great middle aisle, so
well-fitted for a marriage or wedding parade, but which afterwards,
when as a preacher, from the marble memorial pulpit, I looked down
into its sheer length and emptiness, I considered as a tunnel of
waste space, was carpeted red. The enamel-white pew-doors, with white
porcelain number plates, bright red pew facings and cushions, and
the lines of black silk hats of the gentlemen, laid just outside the
pew doors, made a morning picture in which color was not lacking. In
the afternoons, the aisles, occupied by eager hearers, were crowded
with settees and chairs, so the silk hats of pew owners had to be
kept, literally, indoors. On week nights I was often a witness of
the ceremonies, in which several of the twenty-five hundred or
more couples which were yoked in wedlock by John Chambers during
his pastorate, received the nuptial benediction, and the bride the
pastor's kiss.

At the orient end of the aisle, before the enlargement of 1853, rose
the great mahogany pulpit, which swelled out in its capacious center
and then rounded out with a still more generous curve at either end,
from which rose two short pillars, as imposing to my youthful mind
as those of Hercules. I remember how much I wondered, my infantile
intellect being confused, when my father pointed out the "pillars" on
the Spanish silver dollars, that two things so different, coin marks
and pulpit ornaments should be called by the same name. On the top of
these pillars at first was a globe lamp filled with oil, though in the
march of progress, wick and chimney gave way to gas burners. Even to
this day, my mental associations of the "lamps", in the parable of the
ten virgins, are those of my boyhood's days in Chambers Church. Great
crimson velvet curtains hung from near the ceilings, and shining brass
bands on the carpet of the pulpit stairs are also in my recollection.

My next impression of the dear old house of worship was in 1853, when
not quite ten years old, and living on Girard avenue, in the northern
part of the city, I was taken "down town" to the sacred edifice when
it was undergoing a process of enlargement and change. The fashions
of 1831 were to give way to those of 1853. There was another great
curtain, this time not of velvet, but, if I remember right, of coarse
canvas, which separated from, but also allowed a partial view into a
space in which masons, plasterers and carpenters were at that time
more familiar than were sitters and worshippers.

In the twenty-one years of its history, the large building erected
in 1831 had become too strait. By resolution of the annual meeting
in April, 1853, the old pulpit had been taken away, the eastern wall
knocked out, and the whole edifice changed in appearance by making an
oriental extension of fifteen feet, while in front, on Broad street,
the portico, with its imposing platforms, pillars and pediment were
added. During the interim, when homeless, the congregation worshipped
in Concert Hall, on Chestnut street. When I saw again the old church
home, simplicity had given away to luxury. It was like the exchange
from Ben Franklin's two-penny earthen porringer and pewter spoon for
china and silver.

The enlargement at both ends gave fifty-four additional pews in the
audience chamber and more abundant space in the new Sunday School
room, which, though a basement, was well lighted through plenty of
windows on three sides. There was also a large "infant school" room,
or primary department, over which my mother presided for several
years, besides the large committee room, afterwards used for meetings
of the Session, and also as a Bible class conducted during many years
by Mr. Rudolph S. Walton. These rooms fronted on Sansom Street. On the
north side, lighted from the alley, _straatje_, or little street, as
the Dutch would say, were the library rooms.

In a word, the building had been modernized, with improved furnaces
and gas lighting apparatus, new carpets, new cushions and large
galleries, etc., so that when again I saw the edifice some months
later it seemed not only a new and more gorgeous house of worship,
with the glory as of the second temple, but everything was so shining
and and clean, that it struck me as being an unusual sin to do what
the small boy is so tempted to do,--to scratch the varnish on the pew
backs. It is true that the very brightness of that varnish challenged
the average urchin to see if he had not about him a pin, or the nib
of a broken steel pen, to make his initials visible, or possibly
some music. No carpet, or terry, or pew cushions ever seen on earth
before, as I imagined, could be of a richer red, and beside the
white enamelled front of the pulpit platform, nothing ever appeared
whiter or glossier. The pulpit itself was carved in foliations,
all as glistening white as if, though in reality wood, it were
polished marble. In later years this altar-like pulpit gave way to a
square structure of more massive dimensions, Doric in outline and
simplicity, that extended across the whole space between the columns.

That end of the sacred edifice to which our eyes first turned
and longest dwelt, seemed to have passed through a veritable
transfiguration. My boyish fancy, struck by the biblical phrase,
suggested its shining whiteness as having been blanched by "fuller's
earth"--to me an entirely unknown and mystic substance. As for the
red velvet, on which the big Bible lay open, nothing before or since
seemed to have richer gloss or texture, or more strikingly huge
tassels. Two fluted white marble Ionic columns rose from the pulpit
floor space to the ceiling. Back against the wall, instead of the old
sofa, ten or twelve feet long, of veneered mahogany, with cushions
covered with horse hair cloth, was a modern and more jauntily carved
article of half the old length and apparently less comfortable. But
what has comfort to say, as against fashion? Hanging beside the sofa,
against the wall, on a white porcelain knob, was the very large oval
fan of crow feathers, which, while to the ungodly it represented a
rather narrow handled ace of spades, was then the thoroughly orthodox
ornament of a pulpit, with which the preacher was expected to cool his
brow without chilling his zeal on hot days in summer. Indeed there
were some very hot days, when, glued to the overheated cushion, the
small boy envied "the freedom of irreligion of the flies." As to the
physical activity of the pastor, while preaching it was very vigorous,
but it was too graceful to approach closely the reputed ideal of
Abraham Lincoln, who liked to have a parson discourse "as if he were
fighting bees". Nevertheless the fan, at restful moments, when he
was seated, came into requisition as often as did the historic white
handkerchief in time of oratorical action.

To the right and left of the pulpit were two high windows, with panes
of colored glass. Rather long and narrow, each consisted of two
upright sashes or divisions, like casements, which could be easily
opened in summer for ventilation. So much color, even to frivolity in
the eyes of some, looked positively gay and suggested modern luxury
more than ancestral simplicity.

Above the level of the floor and middle aisle was a large platform
two steps high and probably six or eight feet wide, on which was
marshalled the range of chairs for the pastor and his elders, who had
ample room on it, even with the communion table set about the middle
of the stage. At either end of this platform was a line of pews, five
or six in number, at right angles with the eastern wall and entered
from the west. In later years, these gave way to a screen of white
painted wood and ground glass, covering stairways into the lower
room. As for the ceiling, it was truly imposing in its great central
countersunk rotunda and depressed squares, which showed how grandly
the architect had treated this portion of the edifice.

The cost of the improvements was nearly fifteen thousand dollars,
but the number of pews became 242 and the capacity, including the
galleries, had increased so as to seat fifteen hundred persons.
Nevertheless, for many years, it was not uncommon, as I clearly
remember, to pack together under the one roof twenty-five hundred
auditors. This was done by sitting and standing, by stowing away the
children upon laps and down on hassocks, filling the aisles with
seats, having rows of human wall flowers blooming upright all along
the gallery, aisles, passage ways, and steps, and by cramming the
vestibule, which was often completely occupied by settees or with a
standing crowd. Happily no fire broke out or panic ensued during these
dangerous jams. After the benediction the trustees, church officers,
and boys and men were only too glad to volunteer as ushers, sextons,
or laborers. "Amen, Jacob, carry out the benches", was less a jest
than a reality which we boys liked. Give a boy some muscular as well
as spiritual occupation and he can stand the long services.

The most impressive scenes in the regular church services were those
of the last Sundays in March, June, September, and December, when the
memorial supper of the Lord, as instituted by Him, was enjoyed. This
celebration of Holy Communion was an intensely dramatic as well as a
moving scene. Indeed, sometimes, on the highly wrought imagination,
and under the melting appeals of the man who saw, felt, and lived the
truth, it was powerfully remindful of the ultimate division between
the sheep and the goats. All the lower part of the church was reserved
for and occupied by the communicants. In addition, as I remember
seeing more than once, the aisles were thronged even to the pulpit
stairs. Of the thirteen hundred and more members the overwhelming
majority was likely to be present at communion seasons. The gallery
was reserved and usually filled, yes, often packed, with the
"sinners", to whom, in the course of the services, with streaming eyes
and imploring hands, John Chambers would make intensely personal and
moving appeals, which, perhaps in hundreds of cases, wrought decision.
To this day "the galleries" in any edifice have to me a suggestion of
impenitence about them. Nevertheless how, and particularly why, as I
read, the king was "held captive in the galleries" (Song vii., 5), was
utterly beyond my boyish comprehension.

One of these seasons, which marked my own first participation in the
sacrament, I well remember, being but fourteen years old, the number
uniting at this time being about forty-four. We made two lines along
the pew fronts on either side of the aisle.

Another famous occasion was that of June, 1858, in the time of the
great revival which swept over the land, and especially Philadelphia.
Of seventy new members added, twenty-seven were baptized by the
pastor. Of the seventy, sixty-seven were received on first confession
of faith after examination and three by letter.

A writer in the _Christian Observer_ of Philadelphia describing the
scene, remarks: "The pastor administered the ordinance of baptism.
The charges he gave them severally, as he baptized them into the
name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were various,
scriptural, appropriate--words of hallowed counsel, touching the great
end of life--are never to be forgotten. As the seventy stood before
that immense audience, professing their faith in Christ, their ever
living, reigning Saviour, and as the pastor addressed them and the
large assembly of communicants in words of life and truth, in which
all seemed to feel a living interest, the scene was solemn, grand, and
glorious. We were ready to exclaim: 'This is none other but the house
of God and this is the gate of Heaven'. The distribution of the bread
and the wine to the thousand or twelve hundred communicants occupied
nearly an hour. The church was then briefly addressed by Dr. Converse
and again by the pastor. All were reminded that as members of the
church they were not their own; they had been bought with a price;
redeemed not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of

On his fiftieth anniversary, Dr. Chambers said: "The ordinance of the
Lord's Supper has been administered every quarter of a year for the
last fifty years, and there has been but one communion during the
whole time when there were not additions, and that was one of the
quarters when I was in Europe. We have never received at any single
time fewer than seven, and no more at one time than one hundred and
twenty to the communion. I state these facts that you see how good God
has been to us, and how great our debt is."

I am very frank to say that, as a small boy, the moment of dismission
from the church service, after three hours indoors, was a very happy
one, and the event usually awaited with pleasure as the crowning
circumstance of the function. Truth compels me to state that my
facility and celerity in covering the distance along the north side
aisle, between the pew door and the vestibule, was something that
often amazed my elders. Our pew was third from the front, but I
reached the doorway, not wholly out of breath, nor usually mixed up
in the crowd. I always did have an admiration for Elijah who could
outrun Ahab's chariot and horses. The truth also compels me to add
that my idea of happiness, at 12 M., was to join that amazingly large
"curbstone committee" of boys and men, often three or four deep, which
gathered on the edge of the pavement, among and in front of the "tree
boxes"--for Broad Street was lined with trees then--in order to see
the thousand or more people come out of the vestibule and down two
sets of steps to the pavement. This was the time when, in my eyes,
young girls were the prettiest,--even more than they have ever been
since, and nearly everything in the world was usually bright and
glorious, even though I had many boyish sorrows unknown to the world.
I must be self-righteous to confess that often it chanced, that while
I had been genuinely "at church" and inside of it, not a few of the
"curbstone committee" were young men (with some older ones) who had
not been in church at all, but had come to escort the pretty girls
home, or to meet their friends; though of course the great majority
around the "tree boxes" had been listeners, if not worshippers
within. Usually on the large stone platform, between the entrance
door and the columns, the pleasant friendly interviews and final
handshakes with pastor and parishioners and friends in general, took

It was about half past twelve when we arrived home, on Twentieth
street four doors south of Chestnut. Father, mother and seven
children, the normal family, and often with guests, enjoyed, after
due thanks to God, the bountiful fare, and the one hour of the week
when the head of the house was present at the mid-day meal. Then
about 1:40 P.M., we were off again to Sunday School which opened at
two o'clock, and which once a month took the form of a Temperance or
a Missionary meeting. At times, besides the appropriate singing and
special addresses, often from the Master's envoys abroad, but home on
a furlough, we had the missionary news from all parts of the world
read to us. I remember particularly the presence and words of two
Christian Indians from Kansas. One speaker, among many, whom I well
remember hearing, was Rev. Wilder, the founder of the Week of Prayer.
Among other enterprises, in which my boyish energies were enlisted,
was that of securing contributions in money for the equivalent of
one or more bricks in the American Sunday School Union building on
Chestnut Street. Another was the financing of two and a half shares
in the missionary ship _Morning Star_. I remember how the pastor
thrilled us with the news of the Reed treaty of 1858, saying "China
is open to the gospel". The Yedo embassy of 1861, giving me my first
sight of men from the Mikado's empire--and especially as I saw "Tommy"
and others at short range on Chestnut street--powerfully impressed my
imagination. I little knew at the time that I should be an educational
pioneer in the then distant archipelago.[8]

[Footnote 8: See The Mikado's Empire, Townsend Harris, Life of
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, Japan in History, Folk-lore and
Art, The Religions of Japan, etc.]

The afternoon Sunday School over, the preaching and worship in the
auditorium above usually attracted a much larger crowd than in the
morning. Often I have seen every available space in the aisles,
stairways, vestibule and pulpit platform taken up.

The afternoon exit to the small boy was even more interesting than in
the morning, for the pavement and "church parade" show was greater.
Hence, also, for purposes other than of strict devotion the said
small boy usually took his seat in the gallery, near the head of the
stairs. The benediction over, he was promptly on the side walk to see
the largest number of pretty girls, and other people more or less

At home, from half past five until seven o'clock was a happy time,
sitting on father's knee, while he told us stories of his voyages
to Manila or Africa, or Holland, or of his travels on different
continents, and among many kinds of people. As we grew older the
interesting library book, and the bright chat and pleasure round the
supper table made the time fly until 7:10 or 7:15, when we started
for the prayer meeting, which, year after year, was as I remember it,
held in the lower room. It was attended by from four hundred to seven
hundred people, frequently every seat being occupied, with settees
down the aisles to hold those who could not get in the cushioned pews.

The old, long and imposing mahogany pulpit from the old church
auditorium, but without its stairways, had been set into the lecture
room of the new and enlarged building. While the leader of the prayer
meeting occupied the space up and inside, Dr. Chambers sat below and
in front on a large chair, immediately outside the pulpit, his head
being just under the crimson velvet cushion on which the Bible rested.
The front row of seats, as I remember, was usually filled by a dozen
or so, more or less, of devoted women, who probably, next after God
and as His most trusted representative on earth, worshipped their
pastor. To the left, or eastward on the first seat, sat Mr. Newland,
the choir master, who started the tunes.

The storage battery of power was in the half-dozen or so pews running
north and south over in the northeast corner, at right angles to the
general line of seats. Crowded with twenty to forty out of the nearly
one hundred men in the church, young and old, who could and would take
part in the prayer meeting, they formed a reserve force of which any
pastor might be proud. Those not sitting in these special pews were
usually ranged somewhere near that famous corner, though occasionally,
for best effect, they chose seats more generally distributed
throughout the audience. Men like Burtis, Steinmetz, Smith and Walton,
as I remember, were always clear, strong, edifying, speaking out of
fullness as well as conviction. Some of their prayers will never be
forgotten. As the alabaster cruse of memory breaks from time to time
into recollection, the sweet aroma fills all the house of the soul.

Among those in this citadel and stronghold of these delightful
meetings who used most warmly to pray was an Irish brother, who once
petitioned most fervently that upon the pastor might descend "the
fullness of the godhead bodily". There were exaggerations in the old
church, but they were usually on the right side.

Bliss, Wanamaker, Seldomridge and other young men, as I see them in my
mind's eye, often sat on the western side.

Almost invariably in times of spiritual interest, which was, as
it seems to me, pretty frequent, constant and general, and almost
certainly so in the midwinter, the pastor, toward the end of the hour
would retire into the committee room--not then called "inquiry room".
Those who wished to meet him, or rather could not resist his appealing
invitations, would rise from their places and reach their waiting and
praying leader. This they did by passing westward, either through the
southern or the northern door and rooms leading out from the prayer
meeting room. After traversing some yards of a space, short and direct
on the south side, longer and more diagonal on the north side, "the
trembling sinner in whose breast a thousand thoughts revolve", reached
the friend of their souls. Sometimes, indeed, Mr. Chambers had no one
to meet him, but usually there were from two to twenty persons with
whom he had a word and perhaps a prayer. In that room hundreds of
decisions were made which affected souls for eternity. I shall never
forget my journey thither and the warm words that welcomed, warned,
and secured decision. That night the hymn was "O, to grace how great
a debtor". Nor could I, even if I would, let slip into oblivion the
meeting of the Session a few evenings later in the same room. The
decision of the boy to "turn to the right and go straight ahead",
seemed too sudden for one elder, and he spoke against immediate
reception and advised postponement. So quick a change from mischief to
seriousness seemed suspicious, if not dangerous.

God bless Rudolph S. Walton, transparent in his honesty as Japanese
crystal! How often we laughed over it afterwards--his brief mistrust
of me--as "holding forth the word of life" we cheered each other on in
the Christian Way.

Although the Sabbaths were thus filled up and strictly kept, no days
seemed more sunny and joyous. The weeknight services were the lecture
on Wednesday evening and prayer meeting on Friday. Often the first
service took the form of a big social Bible class, when in the
Socratic way, by question and answer, we learned more of God and of
His wonderful Word.

"All this work was made easy by the inspiration of our pastor....
No one could continue long a member of this church without finding
something to do."

Nor was this all. Besides "the untiring industry, the earnest manner
and the burning eloquence" of the pastor, he made us all as one
family, by his own fine manners and his training of us in sociability.
We had to be hospitable and act towards the unknown stranger, in each
case, as if we might possibly entertain an angel unawares. I remember
once seeing, about 1856, I think, a slender, bashful young man come
to our Sunday School. He carried his lunch in his pocket, so as to
attend both sessions, and church also, for between 12 and 2, there was
not time to walk to and back from his home far distant in the south
end of the city, somewhere near "the Neck." My mother spoke to him
and invited him to our house to dinner. I learned to know well, to
honor and to love the young man, looking up to him for inspiration and
cheer. He became one of John Chambers's "three big W's." He is now one
of Philadelphia's merchant princes, a maker of the new Quaker city, a
tireless worker for God and man.

                             CHAPTER XI.

                      THE MASTER OF ASSEMBLIES.

Though active in the multifarious duties of the pastorate and along
many lines of activity and reform in a large city, always foremost,
both on the firing line, or in the charge, in that unending battle
against evil, John Chambers made the pulpit his first thought. He
did this in his own way and according to his own methods. He rarely
if ever wrote out his sermons. After due preliminary study and
renewing of his strength by waiting, in prayer, upon God, he entered
the pulpit. He depended largely upon being in first class physical
condition, upon the inspiration of the moment, gaining much by
induction from his audience and the circumstances, while trusting
heartily in the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit, upon whom he
continually waited.

John Chambers believed in thorough public announcement. A true herald,
he first made sure of calling together the assembly. By this he
sometimes set as much store, as he did upon the proclamation of the
message itself. On himself he laid the responsibility of his hearers'
attention. In the main, his preaching was of the character expressed
by the New Testament Greek word _kerusso_ (proclaim), as well as by
the word _evangelizo_.

John Chambers was the first minister in Philadelphia to advertize
the subjects of his sermons as well as the hour and place of their
delivery. He thus initiated for their publishers a line of profitable
revenue. In the _Public Ledger_, especially, one may, by looking over
the files, see the range and timeliness of his discourses. The topics
were "sensational", in the best meaning of that term.

Being himself "of infinite wit", the pastor had an eye and a feeling
for the humor of some of the situations which he created by his pulpit
advertising. As a matter of course and of human nature, around so
superb a beacon, many bats and strange birds flitted. Parasites and
hangers-on, as well as men and women who wished to exploit themselves
financially and for their own glory, and rise into notoriety on his
fame, sometimes pestered him. For example, on seeing in the Saturday
morning's _Public Ledger_, that the theme of the popular preacher
in the First Independent Church was to be "On the importance of a
man's having his life insured", one youth resolved to make gain of
godliness. Mr. Chambers, while in his study, a front room in his house
at Twelfth and Girard streets, which opened into the hall near the
front door, was surprised to have ushered in upon him a young man
with a small arm load of insurance literature and advertisements.
The visitor strove to prove that a certain insurance company of
Philadelphia was the best in the world. Having expected to get Mr.
Chambers to recommend from the pulpit this particular corporation, he
went away sorrowful, for he had had great expectations. Nevertheless
from the tact, worldly wisdom, persistence and importunity of even
the average life insurance agent, what lazy Christian cannot learn a

Mr. Chambers always knew of the great preachers, not only in
Philadelphia, but in other cities. Although, very properly, he never
recommended his members to attend on the ministry of others, he did
warmly urge his nephew, Milner, when visiting Philadelphia, to go and
hear Philips Brooks, and he himself went with him to listen to Dr.

When the grand rector of Holy Trinity called on me in Boston, as he
did more than once (for he, too, loved Japan), and saw hanging on
the wall of my study a certain portrait of his Philadelphia neighbor
and friend, he cried out: "What a Grand old Roman! Did you know John
Chambers?" Then he burst forth into hearty panegyric of the old "war
horse", and seemed delighted that I was one of his boys. Later on,
when our people in the Shawmut Church helped a native missionary to
Japan and several Japanese lads from the U. S. White Squadron, then in
Boston harbor, were present, Dr. Phillips Brooks spoke to my people.

After my address in the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church on the
"Historical Night", December 11, 1901, I gave my people in Ithaca an
account of the great Philadelphia pastor. The brief notice of John
Chambers in the Cyclopedia of Temperance and Prohibition (New York,
1890), is also from the biographer.

It is only fair history to set down that in sermon preparation the
pastor and his pen were not always closely acquainted with each other.
No two men were more different in this respect than Albert Barnes
and John Chambers. Much as they loved and admired each other, their
habits were very unlike. The former spent from five o'clock until nine
every morning of his life in his study searching the oracles of God in
languages old and new. It was his habit to throw down his pen in the
middle of a sentence, or even a word, on the clock stroke. The popular
preacher made light of spending too much time in the study and urged
more personal work with men. More than once Mr. Chambers passed his
joke with the scholar.

Yet to-day Albert Barnes is still teaching the Gospel through his
commentaries, in many tongues and countries, almost "all nations",
after having educated a whole generation of American ministers and
Sunday School teachers. On the other hand John Chambers still
preaches in the lives of his disciples, in the church edifices which
they have reared, in the congregations they have gathered, and in ever
expanding circles of unseen but potent influence.

As a boy, when Albert Barnes, aged and venerable, almost blind through
his long-continued labors which had so tried his eyes, met me on the
street and asked me some question as to the place and person of the
funeral of a friend mutually dear, I remember with what reverence I
looked up to the great scholar and the fearless champion of spiritual
freedom. I realized even then the shade of difference in feeling from
that which I nourished toward my grand pastor. Nevertheless, God needs
both kinds of servants. The suggestions of Socrates, as to writing
both on the skins of animals and on the tablets of the human heart,
are in point here.

The comparison made between Albert Barnes and John Chambers is much
like that in the modern story of "Verbeck of Japan" and of Samuel R.
Brown, "A Maker of the New Orient", perhaps, also, as the parable of
the leaven in each case.

These were the days of the infidel's Bible as well as the saints' Word
of God, the era of King James's Version and of the old crude theories
of verbal inspiration. It was on such theories and on such alone, that
such unlearned men, meretricious platform speakers, and ephemeral
secularists, as Joseph Barker, Robert Ingersoll, and Charles Bradlaugh
could thrive. The climates, both of popular and orthodox theology and
of infidelity, were somewhat different from the cosmic influences of
to-day. The arguments of unfaith were, for the most part at least, the
old common, shallow, and blatant ones. The theological parasites and
bacilli were as harmful, and in God's providence as useful, then as
now, but I think popular orthodoxy and the average pulpit furnished
much of the food for the obnoxious microbes, and even made congenial
"cultures" for the peculiar varieties existing then.

The unbeliever fed his mind and starved his soul on the arguments of
Mr. Paine,--not the Thomas Paine of the American War of Independence,
when he sounded the trumpet for freedom, but the Thomas Paine of the
French Revolution, who, long after his stirring appeals to American
patriotism, wrote the Age of Reason. In view of the fact that the
little thoroughfare in old New York, named in his honor, Reason
Street, has long since become corrupted into Raisin street, (wherein
we read a parable) Mr. Paine's arguments seem jejune enough. For Paine
the patriot and public servant, all Americans should have the highest
respect. I remember that my English grand-father, Captain John L.
Griffis, of the Mariner's Society of Philadelphia which usually met
in historic Carpenters' Hall, received his certificate of membership
from Thomas Paine, the secretary. He had then no taint of theological
rancor associated with his name, which clericals, who are not
necessarily better Christians than laymen, are too apt to shorten to

There was a society of biblical critics and amateur theologians,
commonly called infidels or even "atheists", who gathered under the
name of the Sunday Institute. These worthies met together on the
Lord's Day in a hall in Sixth street above Race, and frequently
discussed the themes and sermons of Mr. Chambers, sometimes, as
it seemed, in a blasphemous as well as irreverent style. Like Mr.
Chambers, they advertised their subjects in the Public Ledger. I
remember one of them, seeing I was a "Chamberite", pointed out to me
the "discrepancies" of the Bible, such as apologists on the one hand
were in those days continually trying to "explain", while the sceptic
on the other enlarged them under his microscope. This old scorner
called my attention to the fact that "artillery" (I Samuel XX: 40)
was mentioned in the Bible as belonging to those early days. Hence it
could not be inspired of God! He prophesied that Christianity as a
delusion would soon pass away, and he recommended me to read Volney's
"Ruins". How tired such men must be waiting for the religion of Jesus
to die! Alas, for them, the corpse always fails to be ready!

Many a time have I seen in the church gallery a Voltairean looking old
gentleman, who took notes and seemed to be immensely tickled at some
of the denunciations of himself and his fellows by the pulpit orator.
Dr. Chambers was rather free in handling the English Philosopher,
whom he usually spoke of as "Tom Paine" thereby making at least one
boy determined that, if ever he became a minister, he would give, if
possible, even the devil his due and speak of doubting Thomas with his
full name.

The _Sunday Despatch_ was the first newspaper in Philadelphia to
practice seven days' journalism, thereby shocking the feelings of
those who could conscientiously read a Monday morning paper printed
during Sunday hours. Of course the preacher fulminated against this
innovation. It is a curious commentary on the change in public
sentiment and practice, that on the spot in which Sunday journalism
was so often and perhaps righteously denounced, there is published the
popular newspaper which knows no Sabbath in its issues.

The days either of the destructive higher criticism of consecrated
critical scholarship had not yet come to this side of the Atlantic,
nor had the grand work been done by Dr. Charles A. Briggs, the
pioneer, and the host of consecrated biblical scholars after him,
which has cut the ground from under the feet of Ingersollism.
Practically unanimous in brushing away the cobwebs of scholasticism
and tradition, these consecrated men have helped, by God's blessing,
to make the Bible the Heavenly Father's book as fresh as if written
yesterday. They have driven infidelity out of its old strongholds and
compelled doubt and unbelief to find new excuses and fortifications.

In the wars of the Lord the pastor liked nothing better than
opposition and obstacles, especially such as could be overcome by
spiritual weapons. With the inheritance of his fighting ancestors
he had the true Irishman's instinct for the martial fray; only his
inheritances were turned to a nobler use and grandly were they
consecrated. His preaching was just of the sort to equip his average
hearer against the insidious attacks of unbelief, the freezing effects
of conventionalism, and the paralysis of sinful pleasure. Many a
mighty blow was delivered against the literature that undermined faith
and morals. I need not speak of the obscene books and papers which had
not then met their Comstock. Against such soul-destroying devices and
their makers, John Chambers was as an unchained lion.

I remember how Renan's Life of Jesus carried captive many a weak
intellect. Though manifestly few men of discernment would be likely to
misunderstand its animus, some were mistaken as to its true import.
One lady who gave me a copy, said as she handed it to me, "Will, this
is a beautiful life of Christ. I hope it will lead you to Jesus". I
need hardly say that in my work of leading men to the Master and into
truth, I have never recommended this shallow romance, medicated with
a "religious" purpose, which turns historic reality into cunningly
devised fables. Against such insidious trash, even under so grand a
title, and the writings which were the vehicles of sensuality more
or less veiled, the great pastor guided his flock into purity and
strength of life.

Perhaps the best idea of the general scope and tenor of the stated
preaching of John Chambers in his prime, and the general method of his
presentation of truth, may be gained by collating from the advertising
columns of the _Public Ledger_, his announcements made on Saturdays,
say, from April 3rd, 1858, until the breaking out of the Civil War.
Only the afternoon subject was announced. The pastor's idea was that
in the morning edification, thorough expository preaching and pastoral
counsels to his own flock should be the rule, while the second service
might serve for stimulus, appeal to the public conscience, and the
discussion of a wider range of subjects. Usually the text was given
with the topic.

Behold here a selection of topics from the _Ledger_ announcements.
I could greatly increase the list from my own diary, but a few will
suffice as specimens:

Is the religious movement of the day, of God? Acts V.: 33, 34.

Two sermons were especially for the benefit of those likely to be
influenced by the Sunday Institute:

1. Infidels. The malignant deception of infidels against Christianity.

2. Christianity. Opposition to Christianity has always been malignant
and unreasonable. Matthew XXVII: 19, 20.

This was the year of the spiritual refreshing following, as great
revivals in America generally do, a financial panic--that of 1857.

Revival. How God's people must work that the revival cease not.

Previous to the war, John Chambers was exceedingly popular with most
of the public bodies of men, especially with the volunteer firemen.

Sermon to firemen. By request of the Y. M. C. A. in National Hall,
Sunday Evening, May 22nd.

Like all of God's true children in Christ Jesus, John Chambers longed
for the unity of the church, and, as I think, did far more by his
spirit and life for its accomplishment than most of those who talk
much on this subject.

Query. Can the world be converted until the Church is united?

Three famous June sermons were on the Divinity of Christ.

A champion of lay preaching and evangelism, he treated the question:
Is religious teaching to be confined to the ministry?

Are the objections made to persons letting their religious wants be
publicly known Scriptural?

In 1859, beginning with October, we find the following:

By request, a sermon on II Peter: II, 20. Annihilation. The doctrine
that gives great encouragement for the wicked to live in sin.

How the Apostolic Church lived and acted and the results which
followed. Acts II, 41-47.

Prayer. Whom God will hear when they pray.

Why are men so bitterly opposed to the religion of the Bible?

Early in the year 1861, when the clouds of impending civil war were
lowering to blackness, some of the sermon themes reveal the situation.
One can easily "read between the lines".

Robbery. Will a man rob God?

Liberty of Speech.

Religion. The incompatibility between Religion as taught in the Bible
and the lives of professed Christians.

Prejudice. The effects of prejudice on the interests of Christianity.

Civil War. Is there anything in the commission given by Christ to
ministers that justifies them in encouraging civil war?

In March a notable course was given on the rearing of children.

The proper training of children.

How are children to be trained?

By whom and for what are children to be trained?

If children are properly trained will they depart therefrom when old?

How are the young men and lads who congregate about dram shops, street
corners, engine houses, etc., etc., to be saved?

Not a little of his morning preaching was, as we have said, in the
line of expository discourse. This, from a coldly critical point of
view, could not be called scholarly, and was rather repetitious, but
it was thoroughly practical and characteristic, and the love which the
overwhelming majority of the people bore to their pastor made every
word tell, so that defects were largely forgotten. He had certain
pet words which he rather overworked, and, to say the least, some
mannerisms. His method was to quote frequently from the scriptures,
and, in his later days, with many a page turned down at the corners
of the big pulpit Bible. We can see him yet, as with one hand on his
eye glasses and nose near the page, he quickly found the various
texts desired to support his arguments. Mr. Chambers, as Mr. Moody
would put it, was a master of "the original English" of King James's
Version of the Scriptures. Occasionally he slipped on a word, the
double p's seeming especially to bother him at times. His particular
_bête noire_ was the tenet of the limited atonement, and if there was
anything he loved to pound at, it was this. What he gloried in was
the proclaiming and strengthening, with proof texts, of the doctrine
of the universal atonement, such as I John, ii., 2. In one instance,
after the word "propitiation" had on his, for once recalcitrant
tongue, reached no further than the first syllable, the full word came
out as "appropriation", which was not so far from the idea of the
apostle after all.

He was especially impressive in the reading of hymns, and he was so,
because as it seemed to us, he felt so deeply the sentiment expressed
in the words. Memory will never allow us to forget his frequent
rendering of "Oh to grace how great a debtor!" His favorite term for
his Best Beloved was "Our Lord and Master," but whatever name he used,
one always knew that our pastor was in close and daily touch with Him
and that was the secret of his godly life and his power for good.
Other hymns, "There is a holy city", "My days are gliding swiftly by"
(to the tune "Shining Shore") and some that are rarely heard now,
were also favorites. There is proof to the memory that "history is a

John Chambers was not only a natural orator and master in the pulpit,
but he also made an admirable presiding officer. This was not only on
account of his superb and commanding figure, his leonine countenance
and his eagle eye, but also because of his ability to understand an
audience and take in all the possibilities. He knew just at what
moment to test its powers. His glance seemed to be an individual
recognition of every face. It was not until he was well into the
fifties that he ever used spectacles or eye-glasses, and even when
his brows were frosty he was able, by employing the best oculists and
the right lenses, to see apparently everything and everybody in the
house. Many a time he turned what threatened to be a total failure of
a meeting into a brilliant success. By some witty remark, a thrilling
announcement, a touch of blarney--of which he was always easy master,
or a dramatic action accompanying some winsome invitation, he made
himself master of the assembly. By original and ingenious methods of
silencing, shortening, or politely extinguishing bores, "platform
burglars" or a long-winded or unskilful speaker, he saved the day, or
rather the night. He was always the refresher of weary audiences.

I remember when a certain one of a delegation on some really worthy
charitable enterprise, after addressing an audience not specially
interested in the matter presented to them, made the remark (in
conclusion) that "thus far what they had received had not paid their
travelling expenses". This roused the big heart of John Chambers,
and when that was warmed Christians had to look out for their
pocket-books. Striding forward from the sofa, he cried out: "Why,
brethren, this will never do! Let the trustees come right up and empty
out the baskets" [a collection had already been taken] "and go round
again". A burning plea of but two or three minutes for the cause
followed from his lips. Then the previous contribution was tumbled out
of the boxes on the carpet, and a new and magnificent offering was
made, which happily proved a superb precedent, so that the delegation
went back happy.

As to the personal appearance of the preacher, let us recall that
in my childhood the stock and rolling collar were in fashion. The
former made of black satin was stiffened and made to spring on the
neck with wire. Some of the old leathern stocks were still visible
among elderly men, many of whom still wore also the flap-front
breeches and were unable to approve of the newer style. Usually this
outer conservatism of dress, was the index of inner conservatism of
opinions, theological or otherwise. Dr. Chambers made slight change
in the cut of his clothes as he grew older, yet somehow seemed always,
as to his outer garb, a man of his age. It was the era also of gold
headed canes and of watch fob pockets in men's trousers, outside
of which hung the watch chain or ribbon, with gold buckle or seal,
which, by an Americanism, is called the fob itself. Most ministers,
and among them Mr. Chambers, wore in the pulpit, a dress coat and a
low cut vest showing considerable expanse of white shirt bosom, which
then had pleats an inch or so in width. The watch and "fob" were taken
out at the opening of the sermon, laid on the cushion and invariably
put back just before the sermon ended, a sign which we small boys of
course welcomed. As a rule, it was coarse manners to snap a hunting
case watch in John Chambers's presence, for rarely did the pastor pass
the bound of appointed time, for he believed that punctuality was
righteousness. He kept within limits and his moderation was known to
all men.

I do not remember that our pastor carried a gold headed cane, though
I think he possessed one or two. His boots were always immaculate
and shining. Standing up in black and white, a commanding figure,
with ruddy, or rather roseate face, and stroking his hand through his
magnificent hair, which in later years he wore behind his ears, the
form and mien of John Chambers are imperishable pictures in memory.
In hot weather it was his custom, on going home in the morning, to
change his underclothing, from socks to collar, throughout. Though on
oppressively hot days one might occasionally, after a service, see him
with a wilted collar, yet year in and year out, the impression derived
was of a physical personality as sweet as that attributed to Alexander
the Great, whose close acquaintance with water, in its cuticular
application, was held up to us youngsters as a delectable example.

                             CHAPTER XII.

                          TRUE YOKE-FELLOWS.

One secret of the success of John Chambers lay in the power which he
had under God of attracting good men, capable and faithful men as
helpers, and inspiring them with loyalty to himself. They followed
him as he followed Christ. Though independent in action, his was the
co-operative type of mind which was grandly shown in the continuous
and faithful toil necessary for the growth and life of a church.

The government of the First Independent Church was Presbyterian in
cast and form. Indeed it is very doubtful whether a Congregational
Church, strictly so called, could have been carried on by the people
of such intensely Presbyterian training and inheritance as most of his
people were. The congregation held a business meeting once a year and
the trustees, elected by the pew holders, took charge of the property,
the edifice, and the finances. The elders were elected for life by the
vote of the membership. There were no deacons. "All the elders added
to the eldership since 1825 have been active praying men" said our
pastor, in 1875.

Of the first elders I have no remembrance, though I think Matthew
Arrison and Thomas Hibbert, ordained to the eldership in 1827, were,
though aged men, in active service when I was a little child. I have
dim remembrances of these two veterans, and certainly from very
early days their names in our home were household words, so that I
associate them with the aroma of things happy and lovely. At the name
of Robert Buist, a dignified looking gentleman as I remember him,
and who married the sister of Mr. Chambers, there rise up visions
of seeds, bulbs, flowers, and gardens, for he kept, on Chestnut, or
Market Street, a seed warehouse; and I am bound to say (for we tried
them in our gardens), that his seeds would grow. In 1852, he removed
from the city and resigned his eldership. In 1857, two years after I
entered the Sunday School, the Session consisted of Robert Luther,
Aaron H. Burtis, John Yard, Jr., Francis Newland, Daniel Steinmetz,
and Rudolph S. Walton. After the death of Mr. Burtis, Joseph B.
Sheppard was elected to fill his place. I remember the election, on
Wednesday evening, December 19th, 1860, and that I voted for the
successful candidate, who had been nominated by Mr. Chambers. After
the resignation of four elders in 1861, Richard Smallbrook, Thomas
P. Dill, Alexander Brown and Edward H. Lawyer filled the places
left vacant. Of Messrs. Broome, Brown, and Smallbrook, I have no
clear remembrance, being, after 1861, only a visitor, though a very
interested one, at the old home church.

Robert Luther was for forty-three years elder. He was a mason and
builder with both bricks and men. My mind's photograph of him shows
a very portly man, weighty in both body and mind. My awe of his
person was tempered by a knowledge of his perpetual kindness. As
master builder of the edifice on Broad Street, he "wrought with sad
sincerity" equal to him who "groined the aisles of Christian Rome"
and, like him, "builded better than he knew". His son, Rev. Robert
Maurice Luther is the well known Baptist pastor, missionary to Burmah,
and professor of theology. He is proud, like myself, to call himself
an alumnus of the First Independent Church, and has cheered me in this
work of portraying our under-shepherd who led us to the Bishop of our

John Yard, Jr., was much smaller in figure and of quiet dignity.
Joseph B. Sheppard, always very neatly dressed, I associated with
manly repose, fine language, and a most attractive store on Chestnut
street, where beautiful lustrous Irish linens were sold. Somehow in
my childish memories, there are blended with Mr. Sheppard's name and
personality, memories of those elegant tea parties, made elegant, I
mean, by the sparkling wit and grace of the guests who gathered in my
father's home, and over which my mother presided with such ease. I can
truly boast that our modest dwelling was often irradiated by those we
were able to attract to it. At one of these occasions, on April 30,
1855, "The Young Ladies' Association" presented their "Directress",
at the hands of the pastor, with a handsome copy of "The Republican
Court"--a book which tells much of Philadelphia society in the days
of President Washington, and of those men and women of national
fame, whom not a few of the very elderly persons in our congregation
remembered. As a little boy, I always enjoyed the permission accorded
me of coming in, after the best part of the supper was over, and
listening to the conversation of the gentlemen and ladies, who seemed
to me like so many princes and princesses, and from whose intellectual
conversation, I am sure I often profited.

My mother taught during many years, a large Bible class of young
ladies, which met in the Sunday School room at the right of the
pulpit, between that and the northwest door. It afterwards grew so
large that teacher and pupils had to occupy a separate room. Looking
along the perspective of years I can think of no faces more lovely or
countenances more animated; no dresses prettier and no hats smarter
than those of these young maidens of marriageable age or near it. To
see them and their teacher when the pastor came around for his morning
greeting and handshake with the "Directress" was a sight worthy of a

I fear that my readers will charge me with putting undue emphasis upon
the material loveliness of what I saw and felt, but then we were all
taught by the grand man to be happy. He used to insist that God wanted
us to enjoy everything, and for the good reason that He had made all
things richly for us to enjoy. He believed in love and marriage, and
in happiness as a thing to be pursued and cultivated. He taught also
that the richest, deepest, most constant enjoyment was most certainly
found in a holy Christian life, and that a fruitful human career
redounded to God's glory. The blessings of the 128th Psalm were often
insisted on. He said, when fifty years a pastor: "I have married 2,329
couples. I was not responsible for their future happiness, but I
believe and trust that in the main they have all been happy. If they
were not happy the fault is their own. There is no reason why men and
women cannot be happy when they ought to be".

Concerning pre-eminence among the elders, I feel sure that none
will charge me with partiality when I record my impressions that
in physical presence, in dignity and polish of manner, and in
spirituality, Aaron H. Burtis led them all. He seemed a veritable
re-incarnation of George Washington, though possibly with more
personal magnetism and easy familiarity than even the Father of his
Country is credited with. In any company his was a marked form, while
in the gatherings for social worship his words, whether addressed to
the Heavenly Father in adoration or to the people in exhortation, or
in opening the treasury of the Scriptures, which he knew so well how
to do with point and grace, were always acceptable.

Francis Newland was long the Asaph of the house of God, and lover not
only of music but of all good things, tolerant and charitable, patient
with the silliness of the young, a noble father and friend, a most
winsome saint, having many lines of conviction diverging from those
of the pastor, liberal in his thinking, yet ever loving and beloved
by John Chambers. I may truly say that he gave out stimulating and
purifying influences like a mountain. I saw him last on earth when
in Boston he visited his daughter and the Shawmut Congregational
Church, of which I was pastor. I remember that the sermon was on
Elisha and the Shunammite woman's son. He was then nearly blind. Yet,
very curiously, he had on his retina a single spot still sensitive,
by which, holding the dial of his watch in a certain position, he
could read the time of day. In the case of Messrs. Luther, Burtis, and
Newland I felt that they were such good men largely because they had
such good wives.

Of all the elders, Daniel Steinmetz seemed to me most steadily worth
hearing in the prayer and missionary meeting. Steinmetz always had
ideas. He was a Bible student and knew how to present a thought with
admirable clearness and close practical adaptation to every day
life. He was an intense, ardent patriot, and a useful man in both
private and public life. He was one of that noble stock of cultured
Pennsylvania Germans that has so enriched our national inheritance.

Rudolph Schiller Walton was for many years my Sunday School teacher to
whom I owe a debt of gratitude, though when I grew up and could think
for myself and read the Bible in the original tongues and draw upon
the resources of scholarship, I frankly disagreed with him upon some
questions of church policy and the attitude of Christians toward that
critical scholarship which produced under Luther and Calvin one great
Reformation, and is yet to produce, by God's blessing and purpose, a
still greater one. Foreseeing easily in the early eighties what many
Presbyterian laymen could not then see, that before many years the
substance of the truth, as held in cumulative unanimity by scholars,
would be accepted by the Presbyterian Church as it has been in these
years 1902 and 1903, I could afford to wait until we should see eye
to eye. I knew him first as a teacher of a large class of unusually
wriggly and often badly behaved boys. They were such real boys that I,
with a touch of Pharasaism, believed them to be much worse, in every
way, than those who made up our class, which, for a time, was taught
by Mr. Charles Painter, a bookbinder.

When Mr. Walton in 1860, took his class out of the main school room
into the separate southwest corner room, I entered as one of his

In the afternoons we went through Old Testament history getting pretty
well through the period covered by the Book of Kings and Chronicles.
To this hour these parts of Holy Scripture are as vivid to me as
Durer's pictures, because of Rudolph S. Walton's teaching. We studied
the Bible itself, and not lesson helps. One reason to-day why there
is such a gulf between the Sunday School and the pulpit, and why the
average scholar and even teacher is so apt to be scared at the "higher
criticism"--even if indeed he knows what it is--is because he is fed,
not on the Divine Word itself, but on those dilutions of it, and those
plates of hash called lesson helps. Instead of the pure milk and meat
of the Gospel, even the teachers stuff themselves with pre-digested
food and machine-prepared aliment of all sorts.

For years while Mr. Walton lived, I often dropped in at Wanamaker's
Grand Depot at Thirteenth and Market (1876-1896), when in
Philadelphia, and always enjoyed his pleasant welcome and a handshake.
He sold hats for a living, but his calling was to serve Christ. If
ever a man loved his fellow men and wanted to do them good, it was
Rudolph S. Walton. As a benefactor, dispenser of cheer and sunshine,
helper of all good causes, and a citizen of renown, his name will
live. He died in 1902, at the age of seventy-four, leaving his fortune
to help his fellow men.

Mr. Thomas P. Dill was hard of hearing, but his spiritual hearing
was like that of Samuel or Paul. He was very tender hearted, ever
faithful and true, making every talent that he possessed, whether one
or more, tell to the glory of his Master. He seemed never to weary in
following me up, cheering and encouraging me, expressing his personal
appreciation, and joining also with me in sounding the praises of "our
pastor" and the dear old church. Whether I went to college at New
Brunswick, or came back from Japan to live in New York, or preached
the Gospel at Schenectady or in Boston, "Brother Dill", who was a
commercial traveller, always sought me out to bring sunshine and
delightful chatty news from the old bee-hive in Philadelphia.

Edward S. Lawyer was a man of God and the loving servant of his
fellow church members, and I recall his sunshiny presence. He seemed
always so buoyant in spirit, so young in his feelings, so active in
his sympathies, that it was long before I could think of him as an
"elder". Of him I have the pleasantest associations. Besides passing
the money box in making the usual collections on Sundays, he was
always active, nimble, and ready to help his pastor. As the years
increased, he seemed to grow in divine grace and in all winning human

Of John C. Hunter, modesty forbids me to speak at length, as he was
my uncle, having married Miss Sarah Clark, who in the thirties had
accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Chambers on their visit to Ohio, establishing
a union Sunday School at Mount Pleasant, the first in the place. With
his wife, Mr. Hunter became deeply interested in Chambers Church. A
man of wealth and generous in his gifts, besides being very devout
and of simple and unaffected piety, he was a valuable addition to the
board of elders and among the trustees. The son of John C. Hunter,
named after the senior elder, Aaron Burtis, entered the Episcopal
ministry, and is now, as he has been for years, the efficient
principal of St. Augustine's School, at Raleigh, N. C., the director
and manager of this industrial and religious settlement which is doing
so much to elevate the negroes.

Of Fred. J. Buck (one of that great family that came from Bucksport,
Me., one of whom I knew as a professor of Sanscrit and another as the
United States Minister to Japan) I have also pleasant recollections,
as of a family physician, and of a friendship extending through many
years, as well as of fraternal participation in the life of the
church. He was a cultivated gentleman and an able physician, as well
as helpful elder.

Of Robert H. Hinckley, Jr., who I believe at this writing is the only
surviving presbyter of the college of elders, I have memories going
back to the time when we were both boys in the Sunday School, where
he was noted always for his punctuality, activity, and willingness to
serve. Of the depth and tenacity of his friendships, of his varied
abilities, of his untiring service as a practical worker in the
Master's vineyard, of his wisdom in council, propriety forbids me to
speak in other than very general terms. After a friendship of fifty
years, we both agree, as fellow alumni of Chambers Church, in our high
estimate of the great preacher.

Other remembered friends and brethren were Mr. Purdy, Mr. Biles,
and others of whom I cannot say my recollection is very clear. Many
excellent brethren have come and gone since the time of my active
connection with the church, so I am unable to do them justice. Mr.
and Mrs. Biles had a most interesting family of sons and daughters,
who were ever faithful workers in the church. Most of them I had the
honor of knowing, and one of them, Charles, was a warm friend. Their
daughters still follow the Master in unwearying service. Another
friend and man of force in the prayer-meeting was William Smith, whose
sister is one of the good city missionaries of my native city. To this
day, I remember many of his clear and earnest words.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary or jubilee of the pastor,
in 1875, the two great white columns were festooned with greenery, and
above the pulpit desk rose a great arch of flowers and foliage with
potted plants at the base. Behind the open Bible was the pastor, the
veteran and leader, his hair a veritable crown of glory as he stood
under the arch, which was itself surmounted with a crown of fragrant
flowers. On the platform sat in the historic chair, (which is still
preserved in the Chambers-Wylie Memorial,) Francis Newland, the senior
elder and on his right hand in order, seven of the church officers,
and on his left the same number, making fifteen in all. The elders
were Messrs. Newland, Hunter, Buck, Dill, Lawyer, and Hinckley. The
trustees, (not naming those who were also elders) who served within
my recollection were George I. Young, George F. Nagle, Charles Yard,
John M. Snyder, Samuel Campbell, Harrison Purdy, James Evans, John T.
Beatty, Henry Myers, Isaac Bruce, Joseph T. Biles, Charles D. Supplee,
Eliashib Tracy, William S. Williams, Charles D. Marrott, Augustus
Somers, George Allen, Edwin West, J. B. Johnson, Henry Leslie, etc.

In his semi-centennial anniversary sermon Dr. Chambers said "We have
sent out from our church between thirty and forty young men who are in
the ministry, two of whom are in the pulpit with me this morning.... A
number of them have paid the debt of nature and gone home, after they
renounced the cross to have a crown". It was during this memorable
week that under arch and crown of greenery and between wreathed
columns, standing behind the pulpit, while his elders and trustees--a
noble band of helpers--sat or stood on the platform beneath, that the
last photograph of John Chambers was taken.

Happily for the present writer and for future historians the Session
of the Church, through their committee, Francis Newland and Robert
H. Hinckley, Jr., secured a record of the sermon and "Commemorative
Services" and published a neat volume of one hundred and three pages,
which issued from the _Inquirer_ press and was presented to the
pastor's friends as a keepsake.

Dr. Chambers' third wife Matilda, who survived him, was the widow of
Dr. Stewart, and a daughter of Peter Ellmaker. She had been reared
in the Episcopal Church. One of her sayings, told in confidence to a
friend who has told it to me, was that she admired the ritual forms
of "the church," in which she had been reared, but had known many
ecclesiastical dignitaries, who became smaller as she knew more of
them as men. It came rather as a surprise to her that in a church
where so little store was set on outward forms, human character tended
to enlarge. As for her husband, his true greatness steadily grew
upon her mind as well as affections. It was through her influence
that the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by the
Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. For a number of years, the
most attractive courses of sermons were those to medical students.
Frequently as many as twelve hundred students, by actual count, were
present on these occasions.

Yet no appraisal of the value of the services rendered by the comrades
and helpers of "the pastor" could possibly be complete, without a
warm, hearty and sincere tribute to the noble women of the First
Independent and the Chambers Presbyterian Church. It is for me to
make reference only. Justice in detail I cannot do. Without their
zeal, devotion and tireless consecration, there would have been no
such church as that which became the mighty mother of many children
in God. To-day the majority of them have "fallen asleep". A few still
remain on earth with us, in vigor of body and mind, some with the
white light of Heaven's morning on their hair. They are "only waiting"
the call of Him who has "forgotten to forget" them, or their unselfish
service of love. In His Name they toiled. In His Name they still serve
by waiting. "Faint, yet pursuing", a handful even yet follow the
Undiscouraged One, in active service for souls.

Of the old mother church it could ever be said:

    "The Lord giveth the word.
    The women that publish the tidings are a great host."

Does the reader complain that this chapter is already too long? Yet
must I not omit the pastor's assistant "at the other end"--William
Weaver. I cannot tell how long or in how many edifices, old or new, he
served as sexton, but "I knew him well and every truant knew." He had
stricter notions on the subject of behavior at any and all times than
some of us boys had, and his discipline occasionally was according to
seventeenth century spirit and methods. I cannot say that we boys made
his life a burden or shortened it untimely, for he lived to a good
old age. Honored be his name and green his memory, for he believed
in plenty of light, fresh air, comfort, cleanliness and order--the
primitive articles of a sexton's creed, and he honored his Master and
the house of God by his faithfulness.[9]

[Footnote 9: See a fuller and more detailed account in the chapter
entitled "Some Sextons I Have Known" in the forthcoming volume, "Sunny
Memories of Three Pastorates". Ithaca, 1903.]

                             CHAPTER XIII.


These were the days, also, "before the war", when expansion was the
law of woman's apparel. The hoop skirt had reached its maximum of
periphery. Many colors were mingled on the same dress. The ladies wore
"shoot-the-moon" bonnets, with small sized flower gardens stuffed
inside the brim, between face and frame, and the ribbons necessary
for adornment and fastening ran into yard lengths. Besides ribbon
on the top of the head gear, there must be great bows on either
side of the chin. Many a time I remember seeing the choir singers
untie their bonnet strings when they would praise God with the voice
and understanding; or, to be more scientific, they unlatched the
hook and eye, which really did the business of fastening, the bows
being for ornament rather than utility, reminding one of Gothic
architecture made of timber in lieu of stone. It was a grand thing,
at least one boy thought, to go to a morning or noon wedding within a
private house, where at 10 A.M. the windows were shut tight and the
gas lighted. The girls were all in voluminous circles of flounced
silks. Their bonnets spread out on the bed of the dressing room were
veritable parterres, with ribbons half a foot wide and a yard long.

Inside the house of God the fripperies of fashion were as rampant then
as now. In one stylish family, albeit, according to common rumor of
humble origin, whose pew was near ours, but further to the east, there
was the father, who was a dandy in his dress. He always sat during the
sermon and those parts of the service not calling for a bowed head
or the grasping of a hymn book, holding his ridiculous little cane,
which had for its handle a lady's foot carved in ivory. Her toes were
always in his mouth, and the diligence with which he sucked that
cane impressed a certain boy, who passes over further description, of
oiled and perfumed ringlets, amazing necktie or diamond-studded cravat
and other vanities of life. I never frankly accepted the statement of
Ecclesiastes, until I saw this gentleman's cane and neck gear. It must
be confessed that the amount of time sometimes spent by young men on
their neckties, then often three or four inches wide and made to stick
out so that the ends were continuous with the shoulders, is a secret
not to be told to the present generation lest we corrupt the youth.

But the psychical moment to the small boy was when the very stylish
daughter of the family aforesaid with her sublunar bonnet, her
gorgeous mantilla, her mighty collar of lace and resplendent brooch
sailed up the aisle, sending many a black silk hat spinning on its
richochetting way before her. When about two fathom's distance from
the pew door, which stood at right angles to the long aisle, she
would seize a handful of the various concentric steel circles of her
dress, and slightly tilting the metal bands would sail into her pew
with as little collision against the wooden sides as possible. Within
a busy period, of possibly less than five minutes, she was able to
accommodate her crinoline to the dimensions allowed and get her spirit
in tune with the sacredness of the hour and place.

Nevertheless when in later days, sorrow came to that same daughter,
now bereaved and fatherless, she rose by divine grace into a very
transfiguration of character, through sisterly and filial devotion.

Life is too short to tell of all the oddities and curious situations
into which the hoop skirt led its wearer, and one must read Edward
Everett Hale's amusing story of "The Skeleton in the Closet",
to see what dire mischief these inventions of the evil one were
capable of wreaking, even when discarded. They did indeed seem to be

What glistening starry eyes, what dewy and rosy cheeks, what lovely
faces dwelt inside of those bonnets! Even to-day in life's dusty
pathway, sweet influences like the breath of a May morning come back
with the happy memories of Sabbath days, that were as "the bridal
of the earth and sky", with the trees in white blossoms standing as
bridesmaids. In memory's glow the returning vision of youth make what
the Deuteronomist calls "the days of heaven upon earth". It was in
that wonderful training school on Broad street, that so many lovely
maidens were taught how, by divine grace, to be noble wives and
mothers, and useful women and workers for the coming of the kingdom of
heaven, and from which so many alumni went forth, young men to preach
the good news of God. On the missionary field, or at home, in bustling
cities, or in quiet country charges, many there are who to-day amid
monotony and toil, refresh their spirits at the fountains of memory,
taking inspiration from the past and its great personality, thanking
God and taking courage.

    "The traveller owns the grateful sense
    Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
    And pausing takes with forehead bare
    The benediction of the air."

They were not all sunny days for "the pastor", but rather many a
"dark and cloudy day", for not all of the seed of the sower fell into
good and honest hearts. Too many trusted in themselves and falling,
wallowed in the mire. One favorite text and a very sincere utterance
of both the Christ's first John and one of his latest disciples so
named, was this: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
walk in truth". When, on the contrary, his quondam church members
dishonored their Lord, then "the pastor's" heart was wrung--alas, too
often--with anguish.

Among memory's dissolving views is one of a young man who had been
brought into the church and for a time gave promise of manly piety
and a fruitful Christian career, but, falling into habits of worldly
pleasure he seemed to lose in girth of soul as he became larger in
body. He once boasted to me of his finely developed muscle, ascribing
his physical enlargement and, as he thought, improvement to "good
liquor and good women," saying it without a blush, and in such a
statement horribly abusing the English language as I knew and felt it.
When the war broke out he became captain in a regiment which was made
up chiefly of Roman Catholic Irish soldiers from Philadelphia, men as
devout in one way as they were reckless in another. In leading them
to the charge in their first battle, he noticed not only how their
faces turned pale as the spirit conquered the flesh, but also how each
man crossed himself, and how, as he described it, the advance of his
company into the thick of the fight could be traced by the packs of
cards which they threw away. They did not wish to lose their lives,
but they relished even less the idea of being found dead with these
instruments of pleasure and of evil in their knapsacks. The handsome
young captain, after going to moral wreck, was mortally wounded in
battle. When his body was brought home and laid in Laurel Hill, I
remember the impressive final words of his saddened and disappointed
pastor as he committed "to the care of the Resurrection and the Life"
the relics of a once noble form:

    "Alas! there are wrecks on humanity's sea
    More awful than any on ocean can be".

Yet the preacher's burning denunciations of sin and his praise of
holiness helped us all to keep step with the Infinite and hold to the
right path. Whether in formal discourse or in the reading of a hymn he
lost no opportunity to make sinners and false professors uncomfortable
and to cheer well doers.

Rev. James Crowell, D.D., writes, in 1902:

"I remember going in to hear Rev. Dr. Chambers one Sabbath afternoon,
and being much struck with a remark that he made while reading a hymn.
It was characteristic of the plain, straightforward way in which he
would sometimes rebuke what he thought was wrong among the people. He
was reading the hymn

    'My soul, be on thy guard
      Ten thousand foes arise,'

and when he came to the last verse, beginning,

    'Fight on, my soul, till death
      Shall bring thee to thy God,'

he suddenly laid down the hymn-book and said, 'Bring whom? Bring that
cruel rum-seller, who sells damnation to his fellow men for the sake
of paltry gain? Bring that lazy lounging Christian who was at church
this morning, but is now taking a nap in bed, at home, instead of
being in the house of God? No!'"

"Dr. Chambers was very active and prominent in connection with the
Noon-day prayer meeting in the old Sansom Street Baptist Church,
at the corner of Ninth and Sansom. He attended that meeting with
undeviating punctuality, always insisted upon the exercises beginning
exactly upon the hour, and upon a strict adherence to the rule which
required prayers and remarks to be limited to three minutes. He was an
inspiration in that meeting, and by his spirit and his eloquent voice
added much to its enthusiasm and success.

"I remember when I was a little boy attending school at the West
Chester Academy, an announcement was made at one time that a great
temperance meeting was to be held in Everhart's Grove, a little piece
of woods about half a mile from the end of the town. The meeting
was held on Saturday afternoon, and going down, with a few of my
schoolmates to attend the meeting, upon reaching the outskirts of the
town, when yet more than a quarter of a mile distant from the place
of meeting in the woods, I heard Dr. Chambers' clarion voice most
distinctly, as he was engaged in speaking.

"He was for many years a leader in aggressive movements in the
temperance cause, and by his faithfulness in denouncing those who were
engaged in the traffic he did much to promote the interests of that
great reform. He was also exceedingly faithful as a pastor in looking
after the absentees from worship. It was said that he could always
mark those who were absent from the House of God on the Sabbath, and
that his rule was on Monday to look them up and ascertain the reason
of their absence. He was an earnest and faithful and aggressive worker
in the cause of his Master, and by his eloquence and fervor succeeded
in retaining his hold upon the large congregation that worshipped in
the old church at the corner of Broad and Sansom streets".

I can add to Dr. Crowell's testimony my own as to Mr. Chambers's
inspiring presence at the Union prayer meetings in the Sansom Street
Baptist Church for I attended many of them. Once when the hymn "Oh for
a thousand tongues to sing" had been finished he rose up and told us
in a few burning words that we need not pray for "a thousand tongues",
but that one tongue was enough, if each used his aright. His knowledge
of the presence or absence of his parishioners was nearly infallible.
Once when a very useful lady member had been absent during several
weeks at "revival" meetings in another church, her pastor said to her
of her absence: "It was like pouring melted lead down my back". Mr.
Chambers did not believe in extra meetings, but in live ones all the

                            CHAPTER XIV.

                            THE CIVIL WAR.

The great Civil War, which divided the nation and the states, families
and households, struck the First Independent Church like a hurricane.
In a sense, the Scripture was fulfilled as to the smiting of the
shepherd and the scattering of the flock. The result was to be a
distinct lessening of John Chambers's influence upon the city of
Philadelphia, at least, and his relegation to a comparatively limited
sphere of influence. One of his alumni writes: "If he had been in
sympathy with the North in the Civil War, I believe he would have
attained a national reputation. As events turned out, his Southern
affiliations and sympathy displaced him somewhat from his niche of
peculiar influence in Philadelphia, and relegated him to a work of
lessening circumference". The biographer would gladly pass over the
whole subject, but true history requires that a just statement of the
facts should be given. Whatever be the judgment, all acknowledge that
John Chambers acted with a good conscience. _Deo Vindice._

Despite his passionate love of liberty and his democratic sympathies,
he had imbibed in Baltimore and held in Pennsylvania the general ideas
of the South concerning slavery. This "institution" was considered as
orthodoxy itself. It was defended from the pulpit and set forth as
divinely ordained. Mr. Chambers sincerely believed that the black man
must ever be "a servant of servants unto his brethren". His passionate
appeals to the supremacy of the Constitution as against the "higher
law", and his hearty profession of admiration for the law-abiding
citizen were all on the side of upholding and protecting slavery as an
American "institution" to be sacredly safe-guarded. Just before the
war, when calling at our home and finding the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
lying upon the sofa and bearing evidences of being well perused, he
condemned the reading of such a "vile" work in no measured terms.

By nature a sincere man of peace and in practical life a consummate
peacemaker, our pastor professed great abhorrence of war.
Nevertheless, these denunciations of slaughter and his oft-expressed
horror of "brethren imbruing their hands in each other's blood", were
discounted in the minds of those who knew his bitter denunciations of
all things British and monarchial, and remembered his keen interest
in the Mexican war. Some hostile critic of our national policy with
Mexico, on seeing the Philadelphia recruits marching away to serve
under General Scott, called them "dough faces". Mr. Chambers heard of
this and, on the contrary, praising warmly the bold soldier boys of
1846 said that "if the body of the man who had called such soldiers
'dough faces' were made into bread, there wouldn't be a dog in
Philadelphia that would eat a pound of it".

The slow coming events cast long and great shadows which rapidly
shortened as the year 1861 drew near. The situation was critical
and the political sky was fast gathering blackness. In politics
John Chambers was a strong Democrat, sympathizing strongly with the
president, James Buchanan, "Pennsylvania's favorite son", with whom he
was personally acquainted, as well as with his niece, Harriet Lane, of
whose decease I read in July, 1903. He spent several summers with the
president at Bedford Springs, was often a guest at Wheatland, and at
Washington was known at the White House, and once, at least, opened
the House of Representatives with prayer.

It is certain that our pastor suffered greatly in his mind over the
thought of a disruption of the Union. Thanksgiving day was the
elect season at which preachers discussed political themes, and Dr.
Chambers's sermon of November 24, 1859, was printed in a pamphlet.

I remember the occasion as if it were yesterday. His rendering of the
eighth chapter of Deuteronomy was with such impressive power that to
this day I feel as if no other chapter ought to be read on similar
occasions. He also read the second chapter of First Timothy, after
which he offered his fervent prayer. As I peruse again the printed
discourse I can hear his ringing voice and see the superb and graceful
gestures. This was his opening sentence:

"I have announced to you my purpose to relieve my heart of a burden
that has long oppressed me. As an American citizen, an American
minister of the Gospel, I love this Bible; and the God of the Bible.
My country, its constitution, and its laws, I love. As a man of peace
I have a heart for the nation.... I love it as a unit. I am ready to
live by it as a unit; and am ready to put the blood of my heart fresh
upon its altar rather than see it anything else than a unit". He then
went on to dwell on the worth of the Union to ourselves and the world
of mankind, and upon the jealousy which European nations, especially
the monarchies, and more particularly England, had of us. Their hope
of "triumphing over this Western continent was by triumphing over us".

He then dwelt upon the importance, solemnity and value of an oath,
declaring that one of the most alarming signs of the times was the
utter indifference to the value of an oath.

"Now, for example, the Constitution most positively and absolutely,
in the plainest and most unmistakable manner provides that a fugitive
from labor escaping from one state to another shall be delivered up.
This is the Constitution. I am not to-day touching slavery right or
wrong. I am looking as a practical man at things as they are." Every
citizen who winks at its evasion, "if he aids or abets the fugitive in
his flight, he is before heaven a perjured man and the waters of the
ocean could not wash out the stain."

The fugitive slave law had been often resisted in Philadelphia, as I
remember well. In the same city, the first anti-slavery society had
been formed, and within its present limits the first ecclesiastical
protest ever raised against slavery was signed in the Mennonite
meeting house in Germantown, where in summer I sometimes worshipped.
The agitation of the abolitionists, and the burning down of
Pennsylvania Hall were all matters of fresh memory to adult listeners
in 1859.

"I now take up that question of questions--can this Union be
perpetuated? I answer 'yes'. Take the Bible for our rule and guide.
Let it be the sheet anchor of our hope.... No tempest that crowned
heads or despotic sceptres can invoke will ever throw our ship upon
the lee shore or put out the light of this American Union".

After a fling, by the way, at the divine right of kings, "a right
which God gave in his wrath", he quoted the legend of Franklin's
calling for prayer in the constitutional convention, noted the
incident of Jesus and the tribute to Cæsar, and then dwelt on the
necessity of the adopted citizen, especially, keeping his oath. He
intimated that those immigrants who did not like our constitution
"had better pack up and go home.... The constitution and laws of this
country are our Cæsar and on us rests the solemn duty of obedience".
He then passed to the duties of husbands and wives, of children to
their parents, and to the duty of training the youth to speak with
respect of rulers and laws. His final exhortation was to the sacred
obligation to obey the constitution and the laws. He pointed out the
danger of the dissolution of the Union, showing that the peril was
great "unless our pulpits cease their clamor against the constitution
and the laws". Ministers must not urge "the higher law (as they call
it) of instinct, but preach God's revealed word, and cease, too, from
declaring from the altar that it is better to put into a man's hand a
rifle, a death weapon, rather than a mother's Bible". He urged that
we cease the agitation and abuse, that arrays state against state,
and that sectionalism be abandoned. The conclusion was made with
tremendous effect. "If I were on the banks of the Potomac, standing by
that vault at Mount Vernon, I would say it over the sacred dust of the
immortal Washington, the man that would labor or would wish for the
dissolution of the American Union, let him be "anathema, maranatha".

But neither rhetoric, nor eloquence, nor professions of loyalty to
the constitution could prevent secession, or that firing of the shot
on Sumter which unified the North. The news of this overt act of
hostility at once sharply divided the congregation, and a number of
the very best men and women in the church, some of them Mr. Chambers's
oldest and warmest supporters, withdrew into other churches, mostly
Presbyterian, or united themselves with the Central Congregational
Church, where they and their children and grandchildren form a notable
element in that honored church. Others, like Anna Ross, the soldiers'
friend, became actively identified with patriotic measures. The loss
to the First Independent church was a rich gain to other churches.
Four out of six of his elders, Daniel Steinmetz, Joseph B. Sheppard,
Rudolph S. Walton, and John Yard, Jr., among his ablest laymen,
withdrew into Presbyterian churches to help build them up with their
talents, generosity, and consecration, or initiated new enterprises.
Others, though they did not take away their letters of membership,
never again or rarely, worshipped in the church edifice. Probably the
number thus lost to the congregation ran into the hundreds, but the
break was because of conscience and conviction.

Nevertheless God was glorified and Christ honored even in farewells.
The partings were in friendship. These were not personal quarrels,
and the relations between man and man for Christ's sake were always
maintained. John Chambers's own testimony on this point is clear.
In 1875 he said "We did not dispute. They treated me and they have
always treated me with the greatest respect and they were among our
most useful men ... and we have been on the terms of the most perfect
friendship since.... We did not have any trouble with each other--we
parted in peace."

The most striking manifestation of the sentiment hostile to the pastor
was shown by some of the trustees, yet in a way not approved of by the
congregation. There was possibly some ground for the apprehension felt
by the trustees, as one of them told me, that Southern sympathizers
might get control of the property of the "copperhead church."
Therefore, a flagstaff was erected on the roof and the stars and
stripes were unfurled, and for some months waved in the breeze from
morning till sunset. I was passing down Chestnut street that very
morning, just as the flag was run up and a few gentlemen standing on
the tin roof gave three cheers. It was a surprise and not wholly a
pleasant one to me. This procedure hurt Mr. Chambers's feelings, but
he said little about it. Not a few others, including the biographer,
thought that peculiar kind of patriotism was, in its manifestation,
entirely unwarranted. At the next election, the trustees most
prominent in the flag pole business were quietly dropped. The
excitement about the "copperhead church" died away, and the pole was
taken down and disposed of, the flag ever remaining in honor.

On the other hand Mr. Chambers did some things which his friends
deemed highly unwise. On one occasion, it is said, he paraded publicly
with the Keystone Club, a prominent political organization, which had
been influential in the nomination of James Buchanan. None of the
young men of his church who enlisted in the Union army received any
encouragement from their pastor, who was never known in his public
prayers to pray for the success of the national cause in arms, though
always petitioning the throne of grace in behalf of the Union of the
States. One after another and sometimes groups of young patriots
together would put on the national uniform, shoulder their muskets and
march off to battle, quite frequently never to return again. On one
occasion, being called on for public prayer in the large Wednesday
night meeting, though but eighteen years of age (Mr. Chambers always
encouraged his young men to pray publicly) I petitioned the Father of
us all, as was my daily custom privately, and as some of the others
of us did occasionally in public, for the success of the Union arms
in the field, and the defeat of the slave-holder's rebellion, and
that "their covenant with death might be annulled and their agreement
with hell not stand". I meant of course slavery and slavery only, but
perhaps particular offence was taken by the pastor, because William
Lloyd Garrison had in these words characterized the Constitution of
the United States. Mr. Chambers was visibly displeased and afterwards
referred to the prayer in terms of rebuke.

It was in the first year of the war, on Sunday, May 5, that either
a company or a regiment, or portion of one--my diary says "part of
the Scott Legion and the National Guard" came to our church to
worship before going to the front. I do not know just how or why the
invitation was sent or accepted. Probably it was to draw out the exact
sentiment of John Chambers. In any event the patriots ready to die for
their country received no direct encouragement (except to maintain the
constitution and laws of the country), but rather, as we all thought,
discouragement, when the pastor told them he could not encourage them
to go forth to shed their brother's blood.

When Robert Lee, with his Confederate veterans, invaded Pennsylvania,
and was statesman as well as general enough to give battle on northern
soil at Gettysburg, Philadelphia was in a white heat of excitement.
Captain Griffiths, one of the handsomest men in the congregation,
whose pew was directly in front of ours, received his death wound in
this battle.

In June, 1863, I was in Baltimore visiting at my uncle's and trying
to recuperate after an attack of chills and fever, resulting from
spending a summer on the other side of the Delaware. (I am now
thoroughly persuaded, by the way, of the efficiency of mosquito's
as carriers of malarial poison). I had recovered, but on hearing
that Lee's army had marched towards Pennsylvania, my native state, I
immediately resolved to go home and enlist in the army. Riding into
the city and through the barricades guarded by Union soldiers, I
took the train for Philadelphia, reaching my house on late Saturday
night. Early Monday morning I enlisted in Company H of the Merchants'
Regiment, 44th Pennsylvania Militia. Within a day or two I received
uniform and arms and was on my way to Camp Curtin at Harrisburg, ready
to march to the fords of the Potomac. Before leaving I called to see
my former minister, John Chambers, to tell him what I was about to do,
hoping to receive his blessing. As yet Vicksburg seemed impregnable,
and apparently Lee was to march victoriously through Pennsylvania. Mr.
Chambers argued against the possibility of putting down the rebellion,
and descanted upon the impregnability of the terrific fortifications
at Vicksburg, which were able, as he thought, to bid defiance to any
force that could be brought against them.

Our interview was ended by the entrance of his friend the Rev.
Dr. William Swan Plumer, a handsome man of magnificent bearing,
whose white beard swept his breast and whom I had more than once
heard preach. He was a voluminous and popular writer, who had held
pastorates in Richmond, Baltimore, and Allegheney City, Pa. From
the close of the war until 1880 he was professor in the theological
seminary at Columbia, S. C. Before I had been a day in Camp Curtin at
Harrisburg, Lee was driven back from Gettysburg, and our war-governor
himself in the camp announced to us the fall of Vicksburg. Years
afterward in Ithaca, I wrote ex-governor Curtin a sympathizing letter
on the death of his daughter, Mrs. William H. Sage, of our little
city. He replied in a long letter full of appreciation and memories of

No memorial tablet was ever put up in the Chambers's church to the
memory of the young men from the congregation who gave their lives to
their country.

It is perhaps on the whole better to dwell lightly upon the record of
John Chambers during the war, partly because it is a blessed thing
to know how to forget. Even the battlefields "nature has long since
healed and reconciled to herself in the sweet oblivion of flowers".
We have now a united country, the ulcer of slavery is a thing of long
ago, and some things are seen more clearly. Possibly brethren of John
Chambers who publicly refused to shake hands with him have since
been sorry. It is also quite certain that in the days of heat and
bitterness, Mr. Chambers was held responsible for some things which
members of his family, or relatives, said or did, and not himself.
Afterwards, when charged with holding certain sentiments, or appealed
to to vindicate his reputation, he refused, as he said "to hide
himself behind a woman". He was too much of a man to say "women did

Mrs. Martha Chambers, his second wife, had died in March, 1860.
During the war or most of it, he was a widower. Within this period,
his daughter-in-law, a Virginia lady, the wife of Duncan Chambers,
presided over his household. Our pastor's nephew, Duncan Chambers
Milner (now pastor at Joliet, Ill.) a soldier in the Union army,
was wounded, and spent some time during his convalescence in his
uncle's home, afterwards entering upon the work of the United States
Christian Commission. He bears witness how his uncle, with rock-like
convictions, strove, in spite of the obloquy of enemies and the
coldness of friends, to be patriot, pastor, and Christian, bearing all
things, hoping all things, enduring all things, in a trying time, when
political slander was busy, going on with his work as usual.

In all the separations and differences between the great pastor and
some members of his flock, there was no personal bitterness or angry
word. It was only on questions of national policy that they differed.
Their brotherly regard remained the same, and God was glorified. This
certainly was true. John Chambers, the hero quailed not before threats
of being hanged at the lamp post. He went about his duties as usual.
Like most men whose lives are threatened, our pastor died quietly in
his bed.

Rev. Thomas DeWitt Talmage came to Philadelphia during the war, in
1862, and at once attracted much attention and great crowds to the
church edifice on Seventh Street above Brown. I was one of the number
who was drawn under his influence, and, from patriotic and personal
reasons, I took my letter away from the First Independent Church to
unite with the Second Reformed (Dutch) Church, of which Dr. Talmage
was pastor. I met him in camp when he was a chaplain of the Coal
Regiment, raised in Philadelphia during Lee's invasion. No one could
ever doubt Talmage's loyalty to the Federal cause. In the darkest days
of the war, when it seemed as though the slave owners' rebellion would
succeed he uttered a fervent prayer for the Union, winding up with the
petition, "Blast the Southern Confederacy". These were the days when
on each Sunday, one went to the house of God, expecting to see a new
widow in black and freshly made orphans in the congregation.

I saw Mr. Talmage first and heard him speak on the platform in Concert
Hall, where also sat John Chambers. I remember how he sent some old
ladies home to hunt for "the sixth chapter of the book of Nicodemus".
Mr. Talmage quickly found out who were the popular preachers of
Philadelphia--Phillips Brooks, Herrick Johnson, A. A. Willetts, John
Chambers, and others. He was so struck with Dr. Chambers's position of
influence that he made investigation into his methods and hired a man
to look over the files of the _Public Ledger_ to make a list of the
subjects on which he had preached in previous years. All this was very
interesting to Mr. Chambers when told him by his nephew, to whom the
facts were communicated by Mr. Talmage himself.

Famous visitors to the church and preachers in the pulpit of the First
Independent Church made variety. Some of these sermons heard I can
never forget, such as that by the Rev. Dr. Schenck, who set forth
the example of Caleb, "faithful found among the faithless, faithful
only he". The Rev. Henry Grattan Guinness impressed me more with his
fluency than his ideas. Dr. Daniel March, whose Night Scenes of the
Bible I read with delight, and who replied so spiritedly to Hepworth
Dixon's foolish charges, I met again in Boston, after his tour around
the world in the late eighties, and from him I have lately heard in
praise of his old theological friend. Dr. Plumer gave us good biblical
sermons. So did Dr. Leyburn. Dr. Neill, a Methodist, always pleased
and fed us. Professor W. G. Fisher, ever popular, and author of many
well-known tunes, was also frequently seen by us.

I have felt free to mention the faults, failings, and defects of the
man we all loved so well, partly because he himself instilled early in
us the love of absolute truth, and because his career is in itself a
mighty lesson to all young men. It is a story that shows self-conquest
and mastery of difficulties, for John Chambers was ever rising on
stepping stones of his dead self to higher things. Out of his own
faults, by God's grace, he made a ladder by which he mounted up to
God. It is because his strength was made perfect in weakness that his
life speaks even yet so powerfully. Though he has been dead much more
than a quarter of a century, his influence is to-day like wave on wave
of ever widening circles, and the force of his life is reproduced in
scores of other human lives in all parts of the earth.

Even in intellectual edification he "builded better than he knew".
When the "higher criticism" came, with its imaginary terrors, as of
hoof, horn, and teeth, I for one, felt able to tame, manage, and use
it as a faithful beast of burden, both for the history of Japan and
of Israel, largely because John Chambers used to say to me: "Will,
study the Bible, and don't be afraid of what you find there". Where
some see only the chestnut burr, I have found food and sweetness. "Out
of the eater has come forth meat, and out of the strong, sweetness,"
largely because of the atmosphere which John Chambers suffused around
my youthful head.

Mr. Chambers's fortieth anniversary sermon on May 14, 1865, was
published in a neat pamphlet, with a sketch of the history of the
church. He was then in his sixty-eighth year and in vigorous health.
About eight or ten of his original parishioners out of the seventy-one
who, in April, 1825, had voted to call him to be their pastor, still
survived. Despite the subtraction of removals, dismissals and deaths
the church rolls showed an active membership of twelve hundred. The
church edifice, on a lot seventy-six by one hundred feet, had cost,
for building and enlargement, about fifty thousand dollars, all raised
by direct subscription. About three thousand persons had been received
into membership, nine-tenths on confession of faith. Other statistics
are interesting--2,509 funerals, 6,247 sermons, 2,400 funeral
addresses, 3,000 addresses on missionary, temperance and Sunday School
subjects, and about 28,000 pastoral calls. In forty years, excepting
his absence in Europe, he had been out of the pulpit for ill health
only three times. In the foulness of strength and prosperity the
spirit of this discourse is best set forth as he expressed it, "Oh, to
grace how great a debtor" and "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us."

The salary of our pastor, at first very modest, had been increased to
$1,500, then to $2,500, and for a few later years, he received $4,000.
It was about this time, 1865, that the gentlemen of the congregation
presented him with a tea set of silver.

Almost as a matter of course, John Chambers was often approached by
pastorless church committees seeking a popular and efficient leader;
but never, for one moment, did he encourage the thought of leaving
his people for another field. Nevertheless the gossips sometimes
imagined otherwise. Concerning one particular instance, which was the
occasion of a witty and very remarkable sermon, my fellow-alumnus,
Rev. Dr. Robert Maurice Luther, writes me, under date of July 16, 1903:

"As a preacher, Dr. Chambers was, by voice and personal presence most
attractive. His voice was indescribably rich, full and sonorous. He
was frequently charged with taking lessons from celebrated actors.
This he indignantly and most emphatically denied, frequently in my
hearing. On the other hand, I more than once heard an actor of some
prominence, afterward a teacher of elocution, assert that he was in
the habit of attending the First Independent Church, for the purpose
of getting hints on the management of his voice, from Dr. Chambers's

One sermon, much criticised, I remember distinctly, to-day. It must
have been delivered about the year 1856. The occasion was a persistent
report, widely circulated, that Dr. Chambers was about to accept a
call to a more largely remunerated pastorate in Baltimore. The theme
was "The Immortality of the Scandal Monger." The text was, "It is
reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it." Neh., vi, 6. The
pastor said that Gashmu had never been heard of before, and did not
appear again, yet he was immortal.

I. How an unknown man may become immortal.

Does any one of you say that the work of the Lord offers no
compensation in the way of personal fame? He is correct in the main.
Do your work as faithfully as you may, and the probability is that you
will die, and the world will give your memory not a second thought.
Men will forget where you are buried. The newspapers will not stop
their presses long enough to record the fact of your death unless
they are paid for it. Wicked men will say, There, we told you so! That
foolish fellow who made himself, and all good fellows miserable by his
religion is dead at last. He caught a cold going to prayer-meeting,
and he is gone, religion and all. The world will not greatly concern
itself about you, or your memory. But just invent a new lie about one
of God's saints. It may be as improbable as this one which Gashmu
invented, that the Jews were about to rebel, and at once you take your
position among the famous men. Your name will go down to posterity, as
one whom the world will not willingly forget. Unborn generations will
read your name, and believe the lie which you invented.

II. How should the Christian man meet scandal?

In the way in which Nehemiah met it. He said nothing to refute the
scandal. He kept right along, doing the work of the Lord. He knew that
any attempt to answer the charge would only give advantage to the
enemy. If a dog barks at you in the street, it is bad policy to turn
round and bark back at him. The dog is always a better barker than you
are. If you lower yourself to his level, you must not complain if he
beats you at his own game. Keep on doing the Lord's work. They sent
for Nehemiah to come down and have an interview with them at one of
the villages of the plain of Ono, but he replied "O no! I am doing a
great work: I cannot come down." Imitate Nehemiah. You may not have
the immortality of Gashmu, but that is an immortality of infamy.
Better be remembered by God, than by His enemies.

The effect of this sermon was immense and immediate. The daily press
took it up, and made frequent and pungent comments, but the sharp wit
of the good preacher had forestalled all criticism.

There were many special sermons, about election time, and in civil
crises, which were equally bright and witty. It was not by these that
the reputation of the good man was made, however. None who heard, can
ever forget his sermons for the young. As a rather dull boy of nine,
or ten, I listened as if he were talking directly to me. Hearing once
a pretentious young man, criticising Dr. Chambers, and saying that he
was not an intellectual preacher, my wonder was what "intellectual"
meant: and I was greatly helped by my mother, who told me that the
young man did not know enough to be able to understand our pastor.
After all these years, I am inclined to think that my mother was
entirely right. His sermons for the culture of the Christian Life,
I have never heard equalled. He anticipated everything in this line
which Drummond afterward wrote.

After fifty years, his form, his face, his voice, are all as vividly
present as they were in my childhood, and I am sure that the spiritual
lessons of his life, survive just as strongly in the hearts of
hundreds of us boys of the old First Independent Church.

John Chambers was much more than a preacher. His pastoral work,
and his intimate personal knowledge of each member of his large
congregation, were as remarkable as his pulpit utterances. Thursday
was his day for coming to our house, and it seems to me now, that he
came every Thursday, but that is, of course, impossible. However,
we children always expected to see him on Thursday, and usually at
dinner. I well remember the homelike frankness with which he would
express his appreciation of some of the dishes which my mother, who
was a notable, and old-time housewife, would have prepared for him.
I remember even more distinctly how it seemed to me that he knew
everything that went on at our school and the events of our little
cosmos. He seemed to be as much interested in them as we boys
were. He seemed to know everything that we did. The only time in my
boyhood that I went to Welch's circus, down Walnut street, I became
disgusted with some coarse jokes of the clown, and went out before the
performance was over. I ran down the stairway from the dress circle,
out of the door, and plump into the arms of Dr. Chambers! Did he scold
me? Not much. He simply said in that voice of his, the tones of which
were like an organ, "My boy! You in that place! Come now, you did not
like it, did you? I should not think that you would care for such
things. I should think your telescope would show you finer sights than
anything you would see there."

How did he know that I had a telescope, and that I had made it myself,
and that I used to be up on the roof of our old home all night, only
creeping into bed just in time to avoid being caught? I never told
him. I went no more to the circus.

In our church life it was the same. On the Sunday on which I united
with the church, there were seventy-two who were received; yet this
great man found time to say to the boy of fifteen, as we left the
church, that he would expect me to take part, preferably by engaging
in prayer, in the Sunday night prayer service, a fortnight from that

                             CHAPTER XV.

                        LIGHT AT EVENING TIME.

In the seven or eight decades of work for the Master by John Chambers
and his alumni, besides those who have finished their work on earth
and whose names I do not remember, not having known them, or known
them but slightly, there are others, preachers of the Gospel, probably
twenty or more, still in active career. It is interesting to look down
the list of those who are, with the writer, fellow alumni of the First
Independent Church, and to see also in what varied paths of service
they follow the Master. In the list of eighteen Christian ministers
known to the writer, six are Presbyterian, two are Methodists, three
Baptists, two Congregationalists, and three Episcopal. The first
of those attracted to the gospel ministry by the pastor was Thomas
Irvine, who died about 1827 or 1828. The second was the Rev. Charles
Brown, who united with the church October 1, 1826, and was ordained
June 30, 1833. Thus began, in true apostolical succession, a line of
prophets of the good word of God.

It was one of the unanswerable proofs of the genuineness of John
Chambers's Christianity, that he taught the religion of Jesus as
something more than a set of opinions, or even of convictions. He
showed us all how to agree to disagree, to be friends, and keep "the
unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace", even when we could not see
eye to eye. He cared very little what denomination "his boys" entered
as preachers of the Gospel. What he rejoiced in was their bearing
witness to Christ. Intense as he was, in his ethical earnestness and
in the reality of religion, tenacious of his own ideas as is ivy to
the wall, he accorded the same liberty of conscience and action
to others that he allowed himself. In this, our leader was large
minded as well as big hearted. I am inclined to think that his real
generosity of mind and breadth of theological sympathy were greater
than those of many laymen, whose mental view and habits have long been
fixed. For an absolutely judicial opinion on this subject, I should
trust the men in the pulpit rather than those in the pew. If this view
seems a novelty, let us turn to the Rev. Dr. Edgar Levy, the venerable
pastor of the Berean Baptist church of West Philadelphia. Now over
four score, he united with the church about 1835. He said at the
semi-centennial or jubilee of May, 1875:

"Dr. Chambers has always been the counsellor and friend of young men.
What pastor ever had the power of drawing around him, to the same
extent, the young men of our city? Eternity alone will disclose the
army of young men who have lighted their torches at this altar, and
who have gone forth to enlighten and save a dying world.

"Many of these young men have entered other denominations; but our
pastor never seemed otherwise than glad that they had found fields of
usefulness in other directions. His only concern seemed to be that
they might be true men, useful men, faithful to God and to duty. And
here, I cannot refrain from an allusion to my own change of church
relations, as illustrative of his generosity. When I felt called upon
to leave this home of my youth and unite with another people who bear
a different name, I called on him to tell him of my purpose. And while
he could not accept of my views, I shall never forget with what a
largeness of heart he took my hand in both of his, and bade me go and
preach the everlasting Gospel to perishing men."

Our great teacher was a man of continuous spiritual growth, in his old
age ripening in the wisdom that helped and in the faith that makes
faithful. Some things were seen by himself more clearly when God had
given him the perspective of experience. This was so notable, that it
excited the surprise of those who remembered only the former fiery
days. He became less impetuous and abusive of his enemies. One alumnus
writes, "A few years before his death, I asked him (Dr. Chambers)
why he had fallen away from his strenuous and frequent utterances in
behalf of total abstinence. He replied that experience had taught him
that to make a man 'every whit whole' was almost as easy as to save
him from a single evil habit, or to correct a single fault, and that
he had come to feel that the utterance of a complete gospel was more
necessary than preaching temperance. I think that this showed Mr.
Chambers to be a less narrow-minded man than he had sometimes appeared
to be".

His nephew writes: "After I graduated at college in 1866, I went to
the Union Theological Seminary and visited him a number of times. I
was not quite clear about entering the Presbyterian ministry. He urged
me to do so and told me confidentially the plans to get his own church
into the Presbytery before his death. When I asked him how he could
advise me to subscribe to the Westminster Confession when he could not
do it himself, he said: "My son, I can swallow some things now I could
not forty years ago"!

In a word, John Chambers saw as clearly as Whittier:

    "The letter fails and systems fall,
      And every symbol wanes;
    The Spirit overbrooding all
      Eternal Love remains."

With prophetic eye he perceived also that "the individualism of the
middle of the nineteenth century" was soon to belong to the past, and
that unity and co-operation were to prevail over competition and
independency. Yet to suppose John Chambers was ever a sectarian would
be to misjudge him wholly. His very life breathed out the prayer:

    "O Lord and Master of us all!
      Whate'er our name or sign,
    We own thy sway, we hear thy call,
      We test our lives by thine."

During the last decade of his life Dr. Chambers withdrew somewhat from
public speaking outside of his own pulpit. About four years before
his death came a stroke of paralysis which somewhat weakened him.
His physician was the celebrated specialist and author who, like Dr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, has enriched both science and literature. Dr.
S. Weir Mitchell. The patient was particularly touched by the tender
solicitude of his Quaker friends, whose meeting house on Twelfth
street was just across from his home. On recovery he sent out to his
host of enquiring friends a circular containing his thanks in print as


   "For many days my mind has been exercised how I could in the
   most Christian and modest way reach the eye and ear of a very
   large number of friends whose solicitude for my restoration to
   health and continued life has been so marked. I have concluded
   that a simple card, sent out through the press, from an honest
   heart, would be acceptable to all.

   First, then, I owe a debt of undying gratitude to the Ministers
   of the Prince of Peace, who came like doves to the windows of
   my tabernacle with the inquiry late and early: 'How is he; any
   change for the better?'

   Again my gratitude is due to a large number of God's Israel, who
   called again and again without any other object than to know
   whether the light was beginning to burn brighter in the house of
   sorrow. How Christian-like was this!

   Then, again, I wish to acknowledge, as best I can, my debt of
   gratitude to that large class of my fellow-citizens, beginning
   with the learned jurist and reaching down to the humblest man of
   toil. In this enumeration I take more than ordinary pleasure in
   including a large number of the Society of Friends, especially
   the members of the Twelfth Street Meeting. While memory lasts
   those fond inquiries of old and young will not be forgotten.
   Kind words never die. As to my own beloved people I may say of
   them, as Jesus said of the faithful woman: 'They have done what
   they could'. There has been nothing left undone to relieve the
   anxiety of a pastor's heart.

   The Press, too, has been most kind and generous, for which I
   thank them. Nor can I pass unnoticed the eminent services of my
   physician, S. Weir Mitchell, M.D., whose skill and devotion,
   under God, have brought me into a state of convalescence.

   Glorious Christianity! How unlike all other systems of religion.


    Philadelphia, March 28, 1871."

On reaching his seventy-sixth year, in 1874, the young people of the
congregation planned a delightful surprise, of which he thus told,
at the semi-centennial of his pastorate: "They converted these two
figures '7--6' into gold dollars, and they presented me the '76'
beautifully made up of gold dollars, containing one hundred and eleven
in all."

"The glory of young men is their strength" and hope. It would hardly
be fair to expect an old man of seventy-two, who had borne the heat
and burden of the day, and was already broken in health and by many
sorrows, to feel as hopeful and buoyant concerning things at the end
of the earth as a young man not yet thirty. Yet none more than himself
felt humiliated and took rebukes gladly, when he realized that he had
not honored his Master by as large a measure of faith as he ought to
have done.

Late in 1870, just before leaving for Japan, to which country I had
been invited by the lord of Echizen, to organize the education of
the lads of his province according to Occidental principles and in
modern methods,[10] I called on my old pastor to receive his blessing
and take farewell. Always hearty in his welcome and kindly in his
interest, I felt that his faith was not as strong concerning the
educational and missionary conquest of the Far East, as his preaching
and long-continued interest had led me to expect. As with the war for
freedom and national life, so in the war for the Everlasting Kingdom,
it seemed to me he took a too local view of a great subject. I was
genuinely surprised that, instead of heartily cheering me, he seemed
to discourage me. He spoke gloomily of the vast masses of untouched
heathenism and said that anything I could do was only as a drop in the

[Footnote 10: See Verbeck of Japan, Chapter XI.]

Nevertheless, by the grace of God, I intended to make that drop tell,
and I felt that what man could not do, God would. I entered the
Japan, in which no native Christian dared then to make confession of
his faith, in which no more converts to Reformed Christianity than
could be enumerated on the fingers of one hand were known, and in
which descendants of the Roman Catholics of the early seventeenth
century were still in the crypts, undiscovered yet, even by the French
missionaries then on the soil. At that time, 1870, feudalism with
its mediæval ideals was the rule of society. A half dozen government
schools on Western principles, and only one or two of missionary
origin, were in their infancy. I went out to live four years in the
East, one of them as a lone exile in Fukui. This was the Japan which
Verbeck, Brown, and Hepburn by Christian teaching and healing, which
Satow, Aston, and Chamberlin through scholarship, and which Kido,
Okubo, and Iwakura by political action were reconstructing, and where
all the fascinations and horrors of the pagan world were rampant. No
life insurance company in America would then insure my life, except at
a heavy premium.

When I came back home in 1874, and in the still grandly attended
Friday night meeting spoke to Dr. Chambers' people, I told them
of Christian churches with nearly a thousand members enrolled, of
Christian schools and hospitals, and of a new Japan. I called the
attention of the now venerable pastor to this fresh illustration
of the truth he had so often proclaimed, how much greater God was
than our feeble faith, and how superbly the kingdom of heaven was
marching on. After the benediction, a hearty right hand shaken and
left shoulder patted in the ancient style, with words of glowing
friendship, made for my soul a picture set in diamonds of delight--the
last of the great man that has framed itself in my memory.

                             CHAPTER XVI.


For forty-eight years the congregation to which John Chambers
ministered had formed an Independent Church. The time had now come
when the same company of Christian believers, which had been the Ninth
Presbyterian Church, was to enter upon the third stage of its history,
and become the Chambers Presbyterian Church.

On the 9th of May, 1825, Mr. Chambers had received his call. Amid
all vicissitudes, the removing to a new neighborhood, the building
first, and then the enlarging, of the church edifice, the terrible
storm of the Civil War, and the removal of a large number of his
people elsewhere, nothing had seriously interfered with his work
or threatened its stability or continuance, but in 1874 the pastor
began to think seriously about the future of his flock. The whole
trend of population in all three directions, north, south, and
west was away from Broad and Sansom, while business was steadily
encroaching upon the neighborhood once wholly occupied by homes. John
Chambers had overstepped the limits of three score years and ten. A
stroke of paralysis was nature's first warning that the best days
of his strength were over. The time seemed now to have come when an
independent church, of the type which had for nearly half a century
demonstrated its power to live and grow, was no longer needed. It was
not self-conceit, but dire necessity that compelled John Chambers to
reflect and to ask the question whether, after the removal of his own
personality and the snapping by death of the ties which bound three
generations to him in love and loyalty, the church could exist as
an independent body. Long he pondered the matter. He breathed his
thoughts at first to no one, not even to his wife, but looked to God
for light. He waited for the vision. While he was musing, the fire
burned. He has himself told the story:

"For a whole year I did not even say to the beloved companion of
my bosom what my object was, what I was thinking about, but I was
casting around to know what was to become of this house. I thought
of that little house down at the eastern end of Girard street, where
the venerable and godly Samuel Wylie, D.D., lived and preached Jesus
Christ, and I remembered the degradation which afterward fell upon
it. I remembered the beautiful church on Seventh street, below Arch,
where our honored friend, Dr. Beadle, preached, and I remembered that
it was converted into a place for negro minstrels. I recollected the
house where my once remarkable and eloquent and noble friend, Thomas
H. Stockton, preached Christ Jesus, and how it was desecrated from the
service of Almighty God to the service of the devil, and I said one
morning, as I sat upon the summit of a hill away off yonder in the
state of New York, just as the sun was going down, and I looked out
upon that beautiful country: 'God helping me, when I go home I will
tell my brethren the conclusion I have reached after a whole year's
study and thought and prayer.' That conclusion that I had come to
was that we would go into the Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia,
we would change our charter, and we would put this church in such a
chartered position that we should never lose it, but it should stand
firm and fixed upon the immutable principles of the Lord God, firmly
consecrated to the holiness of the atonement and the blood of the
saints. We did it. We went into the Presbyterian Church. Those men of
God threw their arms around us, almost with shouts of hallelujah, in
the room just back of our house. The Presbytery met us and welcomed
us, and I had the satisfaction of seeing this church taken into
fellowship with that denomination where they are to-day, and where I
trust the church will ever abide and prosper under God's blessing.
I say devoutly that we did not lose our membership by the change. I
believe there were two communicants who took some offense. One of
them, poor fellow, has gone to Heaven, I believe, but there were but
those two who left us, and I am as certain as I can be that if that
dear brother had lived, they would have, both husband and wife, been
with us now".

It is very certain that the step was a wise one. It is still more
certain that had such a transfer taken place before, or during the
war, there would have been a much larger procession of members into
the Congregational Church, wherein scores of "Chamberites" could from
the opening of the war be counted. Deeply indoctrinated in primitive
and apostolic ideas, they who remained with the pastor until 1874
would, if the change had been made twenty years earlier, have gone
like those who in 1861 went out from the First Independent Church,
largely because of their ideas as to Union and secession, and entered
the Central Congregational Church.

The Presbytery "dealt very leniently", as a Doctor of Divinity told me
in 1903, "with the old 'War Horse'".

Dr. Herrick Johnson tells us that when, at the Presbytery's
invitation, John Chambers gave his reminiscences of fifty years'
service for God in Philadelphia, the address was a revelation and
inspiration and a benediction. We insert here his letter to Dr.
Chambers's nephew:

                                       1070 North Halsted Street,    }
                                            CHICAGO, Jan. 1st, 1903. }

    _Dear Dr. Milner_:

   My personal knowledge of the Rev. John Chambers is limited to
   the later years of his life. During my Phila. pastorate, he
   held a unique and conspicuous place in the city, as pastor of
   an independent Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian in its form of
   Government, yet independent of ecclesiastical authority.

   He grew some great men in that period. He was the sturdy
   champion of some great causes. His intense and stalwart
   contention for civic and social righteousness could always be
   counted on. The rush and force and downright abandon with which
   he flung himself against every form of evil made him a leader of
   men and a winner of victories.

   He was as bold as a lion, and had the heart of a child. His
   emotions were not born blind, and therefore, while intense, were
   under curb and bit. His preaching was often "the quiescence
   of turbulence". He himself might well be characterized "a
   phlegmatic fanatic". His talk before our ministers' meeting
   one day, after he had returned to the Presbyterian fold, and
   when he had been invited to give us some reminiscences of his
   fifty years service for God in Philadelphia, was a revelation,
   an inspiration and a benediction. We felt there was but one
   John Chambers, whom God had sent into this world, marked 'not
   transferable' and 'good for this trip only'".

                                                   HERRICK JOHNSON.

It was soon after this event, that he received the title of Doctor of
Divinity, and henceforth we called him "Doctor Chambers".

A Congregational minister, one of the alumni of John Chambers
Independent Church writes:

"I think he must have been pained when he turned his church over to
the Presbyterians. Yet here was practical wisdom. At his death there
was no longer room for an independent church in Philadelphia of the
type of the church which he had founded. He did not lack practical

                            CHAPTER XVII.


When, like Ruth leaving her native land to dwell with Naomi--mother
in love, as well as in law--John Chambers plighted his troth to the
church that became orphan for his sake; he made Ruth's words his own,
and in his heart said to his people: "The Lord do so to me and more
also, if aught but death part thee and me."

For fifty years his one congregation was his first and only love. Deaf
to all calls--and they were many--his one answer to his people was
Ruth's to Naomi, and to those seeking him, the Shunammite's, "I dwell
among mine own people." "How often have I heard him say," said Dr.
Levy in 1875, "that though you could give him only a crust of bread
and a cup of cold water, he would continue to be your pastor." Love
begets love, and "unfailing confidence, tender sympathy and ardent
love ... made this union enduring and fruitful of everything sweet and

It was in the year 1875 that, after long preparation, the pastor's
semi-centennial anniversary was celebrated. We here reproduce the
programme as printed:

                   1825                       1875

                        COMMEMORATIVE SERVICES
                                ON THE
                           OF PASTORATE OF
                       REV. JOHN CHAMBERS, D.D.
                        OVER ONE CONGREGATION

                        MAY 9TH TO 14TH, 1875

   Sabbath Day, May 9th, 10½ A.M.--Anniversary Sermon--Rev. John
     Chambers, D.D.

   Service 4 P.M., Sermon, Rev. T. J. Sheppard, D.D.

   Service 7½ P.M., Sermon, Rev. Wm. Blackwood, D.D.

   Monday Evening, May 10th, Services 7½.--Reminiscences of Early
     Days--Short addresses by Rev. Edgar Levy, D.D., Rev. Joseph
     Baker, Rev. John Bliss, Rev. Thomas J. Brown, and Rev. R. G. S.
     McNeille, who were formerly members of the church.

   Tuesday Evening, May 11th, 1875.--Sabbath School Jubilee. Half
     past seven o'clock--Singing and Addresses. Half past eight
     o'clock--Refreshments for Scholars of Sabbath School.

   Wednesday Evening, May 12th at 7 o'clock. Social Re-union with
     a Festival, for Members of the Church and Congregation, at
     Horticultural Hall.

   Thursday Evening, May 13th, 7½ o'clock. General Praise and
     Thanksgiving meeting--participated in by Ministers of different

   Friday Evening, May 14th, 8 o'clock. The Congregational Prayer
     Meeting, in the body of the church.

In a sermon marked by the usual graces of delivery, Dr. Chambers, as
he was then, recounted in a touching manner the wonderful goodness of
God enjoyed during a half century. He was surrounded by his church
officers and congregation and his young alumni in the ministry. His
old friend, Rev. Dr. T. J. Sheppard, with singular grace and power,
preached from the fitting text: "He shall be like a tree planted by
the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his
leaf also shall not wither". Monday evening was devoted to epistolary
communications or addresses by pastors who had formerly been members
of the church, such as the Rev. Charles Brown, Rev. Dr. Levy, Rev.
Joseph J. Baker, Rev. William J. Paxson, Rev. John C. Bliss, Rev. S.
P. Kelley, and Rev. R. G. S. McNeille. Tuesday evening was for the
participation of the Sunday School children in the jubilee service.
On Wednesday evening the social reunion at Horticultural Hall took
place, when besides the singing, led by Prof. William G. Fisher, and
appropriate words from Rev. Dr. Eva and Rev. William R. Stockton,
Francis Newland, the life-long friend and elder of the church,
presented in the name of the people a golden tribute in the form of
one thousand dollars. One of his young men, John Wanamaker, on the
eve of his departure for Europe, had the day before sent his pastor a
five hundred dollar bill on the United States Treasury. The audience,
numbering a thousand, after promenading and shaking hands with their
beloved minister, partook of refreshments, each lady receiving a
handsome memorial bouquet. On Thursday evening there was another feast
of reason and flow of soul in the greetings by pastors of neighboring
churches. Rev. George Dana Boardman was in the chair, and Rev. Dr.
Breed, Rev. Dr. Newton, Dr. Hatfield, and William R. Stockton showed
by word and look their love and fellowship. Dr. Breed, in the course
of his address, read the following original lines:

    A stranger boy from Erin came--
    He made our land his chosen home.
    He heard the Master's gracious call,
    He seized the banner, climbed the wall,
    He blew the trumpet, drew the sword,
    He fired the shot, he preached the word
    By grace divine, thro' toils and tears,
    With ardent hopes, defying fears,
    In holy scorn of scoffs and jeers
    He's held the fort for fifty years!
    And if the God whom we adore,
    But grant what thousand hearts implore,
    He'll hold it yet for many more!
                Amen and amen!

The time honored Friday evening prayer meeting was held this week on
May 14 in the upper auditorium and Rev. Dr. Plumer of Columbia, S.
C., and Rev. Charles Brown of Philadelphia made addresses.

It was at the "golden jubilee", as we have shown, that Dr. Chambers
having on other occasions recounted the gifts of his people to their
pastor--the furnishing of his house, the table set of silver, the
expense money for a trip to Europe, the carpeting of his house, study
and parlors by the ladies, the young people's birthday offering of
$111 in gold pieces was treated to a fresh surprise, the "golden
token"--one thousand dollars. In the grand old pastor's speech in
response to his unexpected golden shower, he made it clear "what
radiance it throws around this old man's evening of life".

Entering upon his seventy-eighth year, Dr. Chambers still kept up his
abundant labors, though it was manifest, especially after the funerals
of old and beloved parishioners and the great drain on his sympathies,
that his powers were failing fast. In the month of August, 1875,
he had an attack of paralysis of the bladder, which induced severe
inflammation of the kidneys, resulting in blood poisoning, from which
he died in his home, at Girard and Twelfth streets, after an illness
of several weeks, at 11.15 P. M., September 22, 1875. It was on
Communion Sunday, the last of the month, that asleep in God his mortal
remains awaited their burial. His body was brought to the church, and
thence from the spot where he had, a few weeks before, celebrated his
golden anniversary. The last words uttered by him and set to music
were sung by the quartet as the remains of John Chambers were taken
from the church:

    "Farewell, farewell, farewell,
    We meet no more on this side of Heaven.
    Our parting scene is o'er,
    Our last fond look is given.
    Farewell, farewell, farewell."

I have copied these words as kindly contributed by one of the original
quartet, Mr. A. Gunning.

Dr. Chambers died September 22, 1875, four months after his fiftieth
anniversary. His successors in the pastorate have been Rev. Henry C.
Westwood, D.D., 1876-1878; Rev. J. M. B. Otts, D.D., 1879-'83; Rev.
Thomas A. Hoyt, D.D., 1884-1902. On this very day, June 30, as I
finish revision of the manuscript to hand to the printer, July 1st,
1903, I read of his decease yesterday.

The executor of the estate of John Chambers, Robert H. Hinckley, Jr.,
attended to the settlement of the earthly affairs of his teacher and
friend, including the distribution among his grandchildren of the
pieces in the set of silver presented by the congregation in 1865.

In the central part of Laurel Hill Cemetery, in a small lot just off
the main driveway, with four granite posts to mark the corners, is the
very modest monument made of three blocks of granite, set one upon
another, the whole indicative of solidity, strength and symmetry. The
top piece is uninscribed. On the center piece one reads:

                          REV. JOHN CHAMBERS


                Dec. 19, 1797.      Sept. 22nd, 1875."

                 (On the ground block is inscribed,)

"They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever
                              and ever."

         (On the other side, on same block with the name is:)

                "I am the resurrection and the life."

                         "MATILDA P. CHAMBERS

                      Wife of Rev. John Chambers

                         Died March 4, 1877."

                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                     THE CHILDREN OF THE MOTHER.

John Chambers used to boast of his three big W's--Walton, Wanamaker,
and Whitaker. The two first-named are known to most of my readers. The
third, who made a vow to give to the Lord all he had or made over the
amount of sixty thousand dollars, was a generous helper of the pastor.

The first great offshoot from the mother church on Broad Street is the
Bethany Presbyterian Church, in which Messrs. Wanamaker and Walton,
were generously interested and unceasingly active.

In 1875 Mr. Chambers said, "Connected with our movements as a
church, no single event in our history exceeds in point of grandeur
or importance Bethany mission, ... A very few, some thirty, of the
young workers of our church headed by that remarkable young man, John
Wanamaker, left us and after there being a selection made in the
southwestern part of the city, they started a Sabbath School in the
working room of a little Irish shoemaker, with some ten little ragged
children to begin with, and in the course of a very few weeks they
had to take all the room in the little Irishman's home, pretty much,
and then they had not enough. A tent was erected that would contain
some four or five hundred, and then the congregation agreed that there
should be a house put up, and a one-story house was put up that would
contain some five or six hundred".

It seems almost like a fairy tale when one contrasts the condition of
things in the Bethany neighborhood, as I first saw it in 1855, and as
it is now. After our family had moved from Girard Avenue to the house
on 20th street four doors below Chestnut on the east side, my mother
took me one day to enter the public school situated, I believe,
at 22nd and Shippen. Just as we turned the corner at Twentieth and
Pine Street, I looked across to the southwest. For many hundred of
acres, there was an expanse of vacant lots occupied here and there
with squatters' cabins, goose pastures and roaming cows, the streets
not being yet "cut through". Still in the days of the volunteer
fire company, with all its lawlessness and also of abundance, yes,
superabundance, of liquor saloons, it seemed one of the least
promising portions of the city. Now, it is densely built up with
elegant homes and is the center of wealth, comfort, and culture.

I remember well, too, when the first band of workers went out from
the mother church and on the 14th of February, 1858, in two second
story rooms of the house at No. 2135 South Street, began a Sunday
School, with twenty-seven scholars and two teachers, the seating
capacity being eked out, if I remember rightly, with rough scantling
brought up out of the cellar and laid upon bricks. Long before hot
weather, the rooms, halls, and stairway were crowded, so on the 18th
of July a tent was set up on the North side of South street. After a
summer under canvas, the corner stone for a chapel was laid on the
18th of October, Dr. Chambers with his brethren, Leyburn, Brainerd,
and McLeod making addresses. The chapel which measured 40 by 60 feet
was dedicated on January 27th, 1859, and on January 4th, 1862, Rev.
Augustus Blauvelt began his labors as city missionary, becoming after
a year a missionary to China. I remember him as preaching a remarkable
sermon on the kingdom of Satan. He died in April, 1900.

The growth of Bethany was continuous and surprising. I remember how
those most interested conversed with each other about the name of the
child now fully born and ready for its clothing and christening. The
walks and talks and experiences by the way, in going from the old home
to the new enterprise, called up the words of the Scripture: "He led
them out as far as Bethany and lifted up his hands and blessed them".
So the name of Bethany was decided upon.

On September 25, 1865, the enterprise was organized into a
Presbyterian Church under the care of the Presbytery of Philadelphia,
Old School. The lot at the southeast corner of Twenty-second and
Bainbridge streets, 112 by 138½ feet, was purchased, and on February
13, 1870, the new and commodious edifice was dedicated.

To-day, with its large eldership, boards of trustees and deacons, its
doormen and tithemen, its leaders of Christian bands, its college
established in 1881--the first of its kind in Philadelphia, and of
which for many years its vice-president, Rudolph S. Walton, was chief
friend and benefactor, Bethany is a center of blessing to thousands.
Of the Deaconesses' Home, the Men's Friendly Inn, and other details of
the great work we have not space to speak. At his decease in November,
1900, Mr. Walton left about $200,000 for the erection of a new college

No sooner was Bethany Church grown to adult life than it began to
send forth colonies. The Bethany Mission was its first namesake. By
this time, in the twentieth century, the boy that I once knew as no
richer or poorer than the average, had become one of Philadelphia's
princely merchants, with hand ever open for gifts and help. A lot at
the northeast corner of Twenty-eighth and Morris streets, measuring
114 by 136 feet, was secured. It was far away from any human dwelling,
but it was in the direction of growth. The skilled fishers of men let
down the net just where they knew the fishes would be in shoals--a
method and policy following out that of their great teacher, Jesus
Christ, and of their earthly exemplar, John Chambers. On this lot Mr.
John Wanamaker and Mrs. Wanamaker (at whose wedding I remember being
present, as a boy), in gratitude to God for the wonderful preservation
from fire of the great Wanamaker store, have erected, since the
streets were opened, a superb edifice with all modern equipments and
furnishing. This, at the present time, serves as a church and Sunday
School and for social gatherings. The main church edifice is to be
erected later on the southern portion of the still unoccupied lot.

How gratifying this was to the Presbytery of Philadelphia is seen in
the records given below. From the minutes of October 30, 1901, we make
extracts of the


Mr. Robert H. Hinckley presented the following preamble and resolution:

"As a member of the special committee who reported June 1, 1899 (see
folio 228) on the proposed location of a church at 28th and Morris
Streets, I desire to report that in accordance with the permission
therein granted, Mr. John Wanamaker has erected and dedicated to the
memory of the late Rev. John Chambers a church building on the North
East corner of 28th and Morris Sts., which affords ample space for a
congregation of fifteen hundred worshippers, also for a large Sabbath
school and several large rooms suitable for reading rooms and for the
general purposes of an institutional church. The ground and building
cost Mr. Wanamaker over eighty thousand dollars, all of which has been
paid and the building was dedicated during the third week of October,
free of debt, as The John Chambers Memorial Church. I suggest,
therefore, that we recommend to Presbytery the following Resolution:

_Resolved_, That a special Committee of three members of this
Presbytery be appointed to wait on Mr. John Wanamaker and extend to
him the thanks and appreciation of the Presbytery for his princely
liberality and his magnificent recognition of the work and services of
one of our most devoted ministers who has long since been called to
his reward".

This was unanimously agreed to and the Committee appointed.

In the above record, the name of Robert H. Hinckley is that of
the surviving elder of the Chambers Presbyterian Church and still
an indefatigable worker in Christ's name. On Saturday afternoon
early in May, 1901, in the presence of a large gathering of Bethany
Church people and about five hundred children, ground was broken
at Twenty-eighth and Morris streets. Besides addresses from John
Wanamaker, Rev. Messrs. Wm. Patterson, John Thompson, George Van
Deurs, and the laymen Edwin Adams, Robert Boyd, and R. M. Coyle, there
were prayer and singing.

I visited this as yet unbuilt portion of the city on Friday, Jan.
23rd, 1903, which, besides being the 324th anniversary of the Union of
Utrecht, our great national precedent for federal government and the
date of the dinner of the Holland Society of Philadelphia, was for me
a veritable John Chambers day.

Starting from Thirteenth and Filbert, the site of the old Church of
the Vow, and moving through the City Hall buildings and Wanamaker's
Grand Depot and big store, I came to Broad and Sansom, where in 1830,
towards the setting sun, there were but unoccupied lots, or only a
few scanty buildings. Further down Broad Street, near Spruce, I
passed, having already studied the interior of, the new and imposing
structure, the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church. Thence southwestwardly,
I walked to Bethany Presbyterian Church which, when started, was
amid brickyards, vacant lots, and with a great area of the open
country stretching to the southwest. I then boarded a Gray's Ferry
car and rode past the United States Arsenal and into a region where
the streets had only very recently been cut through, and were but
partially paved or curbed.

I found the Church of the Love of God, the John Chambers Memorial
Church, standing alone in its glory. No human dwellings were nearer
than a quarter of a mile, though houses of worship could be discerned
rising out of the fringe of dwellings. But this pioneering, "preparing
in the desert a highway for our God", was exactly what the First
Independent Church people and the Bethany Mission colony of 1858,
had done before. It was simply planting the standard for the hosts
to follow. What grand faith to go ahead of population and to be
literally a forerunner of the gospel! Outwardly the edifice, built of
a combination of light brick, Scotch granite, and terra cotta, seemed
but little "like a church", yet only, as it were, to impress upon
the mind the absurdity of ever calling an edifice--a thing built by
masons and carpenters--a "church", which is a company of human souls
called to do God's will. Yet for such uses, and for such a company,
and intended to be helpful to the education and training of the young
in social holiness and for the worship of God, what could be better?
In the basement was a gymnasium, with generous facilities for physical
exercise, and that which is next to godliness. There were also a
great entertainment room, a kitchen, tea room, and apartments for the
janitor and his family. Upstairs, on the first or main floor was the
great Sunday School room proper, divisible, by movable partitions
and curtains, into class rooms and able to hold in unity about twelve
hundred people. Offices, reading rooms, places for mothers' meetings,
and, oh blessed modern addition--fulfilling at least one pastor's
dreams--rooms, where invalids or mothers with small children might
come, see the minister but not be seen by the congregation, stay as
long as they could and leave, whenever they wished, through a side
door without disturbing any one. Kindergarten rooms and also those for
the junior classes completed this "modern instance" of consecrated
common sense expressed in a building.

After the courteous janitor had shown me about, I went up on the roof,
whence projects many feet in the air a rotating star with electric
lights showing at night, the red, white, and blue in alternation,
while east and west along the ridge pole rises in large letters,
electrically illuminated at night, the "Church of the Love of
God"--though the corporate name of the completed enterprise is to be
the John Chambers Memorial Church. On the roof also is a great bell
cast at the McChane foundry, in Baltimore. This is the gift of Miss
Kate Wentz, who, with her aunt Miss Cousty, were as I remember, among
the most faithful worshippers during many years in the old church. Its
silvery tones made the air quiver with melody first on Christmas Eve.
Facing the south and the sunny hours is a superb stained-glass window,
with the medallion portrait of the great pastor, as he looked in his
prime, when his hair was just beginning to turn gray.

Thus, in a southwesterly line, through the city of Philadelphia, from
near the spot where to-day stands the great Reading Terminal, has
issued a chain of sweet influences, which, like those of the Pleiades,
cannot be bound.

The dedicatory services of the John Chambers Memorial Church, erected
as a thanksgiving offering to the praise and glory of God, and in
memory of the life and good works of his servant, the Rev. John
Chambers, were held during the week beginning October 19, 1902, on
entering the new house of the Lord. The published pamphlet, which is
richly illustrated with portraits and pictures of the church edifices,
is a valuable souvenir of both old times and new.

Yet this is not all. On June 9, 1898, some of the Christian workers
of Bethany Church began services in a tent in West Philadelphia,
near Baltimore avenue and Fiftieth street, and out of that beginning
has grown Saint Paul's Presbyterian Church, which flourishes with
high promise. Its edifice was dedicated March 24, 1901. Here again
the great pastor is commemorated by a superb memorial window which
sheathes the light and color that set forth most gloriously the Good
Shepherd. It has been reared to the memory of John Chambers by Mrs.
John Hunter, the widow of Mr. John C. Hunter, so long the faithful
elder in the old Broad Street Church.

The basement of Saint Paul's Church, furnished and fitted up by the
Brotherhood of Andrew and Philip, is named Walton Hall and contains a
marble tablet in memory of Rudolph S. Walton, which reads as follows:

                       IN LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF

                          RUDOLPH S. WALTON.

           A wise counsellor. A loving friend. A just man.

                  *       *       *       *       *

              Unto the life beyond--November 10th, 1900.

                  *       *       *       *       *

   "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is
   able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that

                                                   --II TIMOTHY, i:12.

Still further at Rutledge, Delaware county, Pa., is another Chambers
Memorial Church, established and carried on chiefly by young men
and women who are alumni of the First Independent Church and of the
Chambers Presbyterian Church. It has been liberally assisted by the
trustees of the Chambers-Wylie Church and contains stained glass
memorial windows in honor of the pastor and also of the elders of the
old Broad Street Church.

In the handsomely printed and illustrated pamphlet, entitled
"Dedication Souvenir of the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian
Church", prepared by Rev. Thomas A. Hoyt, D.D., pastor emeritus, and
published for the Building Committee in 1901, one will find much
interesting information concerning the two churches merged into one
and still occupying a home in the commodious edifice on Broad street,
below Spruce.

After due conference the two congregations executed formal articles
of agreement May 27, 1897, and their action was ratified by the
Presbytery. For a short time they both become one, worshipped in the
edifice of the Chambers Church, and when that was sold and torn down,
the old Epiphany Church building at Fifteenth and Chestnut streets
(wherein so long Dr. Richard Newton, a favorite writer of children's
books, ministered), then owned by Mr. John Wanamaker, was made use of.
From this temporary abiding place the united congregation moved into
their new and splendid temple, enjoying the first dedicatory services
on the Sabbath day, December 8, 1901, and continuing them during the
five succeeding evenings.


The principal dates and items of financial interest are as follows: Of
the sum of $412,500 received from the sale of the property at Broad
and Sansom Streets, the sum of $200,000 was set aside as a perpetual
endowment for the use of the Chambers-Wylie Church, and $60,000
were applied to extinguish the mortgage debt. The sum of $6,000 was
given to the Rutledge Presbyterian Church.

On December 26th, 1899, the congregation instructed the Board of
Trustees to proceed with the erection of a new church edifice,
according to an estimate submitted by J. E. & A. L. Pennock, the
cost of same to be $101,000 and in April, 1900, the erection of the
building was begun. On August 8th, 1900, the corner stone was laid
and on the first Sunday of December, 1901, the Church building was
formally dedicated, the Rev. Thomas A. Hoyt, D.D., preaching in the
morning, and Rev. Henry C. Minton, D.D., in the evening.

The entire cost of the church building was $103,915.66. The cost of
Organ, $10,000; Cost of Pews, $3,260; Pulpit Furniture, $600; Stained
Glass, $1,500; Heating System, $2,400; Carpets, $3,457.

       *       *       *       *       *

Within two years after preaching the dedication sermon, the pastor
emeritus fell asleep in God, and funeral services were held in the new

The Board of Trustees of the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church met in
the pastor's study, at noon on the same day, and passed the following

"The Rev. Thomas A. Hoyt, D.D., our Pastor Emeritus and for seventeen
years our pastor, whose death occurred in Bryn Mawr on Monday, June
29th, was beloved by us all and by the church we represent. He came
to us in 1883 and by his untiring devotion to the interests of this
church and his skill in carrying into effect the union of the two
churches now one in this present organization has made possible our
present prosperity and position of influence."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, during the pastorate of Rev. E. Trumbull Lee, with a few of the
old "Chamberites" and many new followers of the Master the work goes
on. God bless and prosper them one and all.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for
thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake."

    "Clasp, Angel of the backward look
      And folded wings of ashen gray,
      And voice of echoes far away,
    The brazen covers of thy book;
    The weird palimpsest old and vast,
    Wherein thou hid'st the spectral past;
    Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
    The characters of joy and woe;
    The monographs of outlived years,
    Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
      Green hills of life that slope to death,
    And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
    Shade off to mournful cypresses
      With the white amaranths underneath.

    Even while I look I can but heed
      The restless sands' incessant fall,
    Importunate hours that hours succeed,
    Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
      And duty keeping pace with all.

    Shut down and clasp the heavy lids;
    I hear again the voice that bids
    The dreamer leave his dream midway
    For larger hopes and graver fears;
    Life greatens in these later years
    The century's aloe flowers to-day!"


    Actors and acting, 63, 124.

    Adams, Mr. Edwin, 147.

    Allen, Mr. George, 102.

    Amusements, 48-50, 127.

    Anecdotes, 16, 25, 42, 54, 110.

    Arrison, John Chambers, 41.

    Arrison, Mr. Matthew, 55, 94.

    Ayres, Mr. Hiram, 27.

    Bacon, Rev. Leonard, 37, 38.

    Baker, Rev. J. J., 140.

    Baltimore, 17, 18, 118, 124.

    Barnes, Rev. Albert, 35, 83, 84.

    Beatty, Mr. J. T., 103.

    Bethany Church, 6, 145, 146.

    Biles, Mr. J. T., 101, 102.

    Blauvelt, Rev. Augustus, 145.

    Bliss, Rev. Dr. John, 78, 140.

    Boardman, Rev. Dr. George Dana, 141.

    Breed, Rev. Dr., 141.

    Briggs, Dr. Charles A., 86, 87.

    British, 17, 18.

    Broad Street Church, 68-80, 152.

    Brooks, Rev. Phillips, 82, 83.

    Brotherhood of Andrew and Philip, 151.

    Brown, Rev. Charles, 127.

    Bruce, Mr. I., 102.

    Buchanan, Pres. James, 112, 117.

    Buck, Dr. F. J., 101.

    Bucks county, 29.

    Burial lot, 24, 33.

    Burtis, Aaron H., 53, 97.

    Campbell, Mr. S., 102.

    Campbell, President W. H., 42.

    Camperduin, 11.

    Chains across streets, 3-5.

    Chambers, John, advertising sermons, 81;
      ancestry, 9;
      in Baltimore, 17-23;
      birth, 9;
      boyhood, 14-17;
      Broad Street Church, 61, 62;
      call, 28-33;
      calls, 124;
      children, 45;
      clothes, 92, 93;
      communion, 73;
      drinking customs, 14-16, 51;
      Doctor of Divinity, 103;
      education, 19-23;
      emotions, 65;
      Europe visited, 59;
      fiftieth jubilee anniversary, 102;
      finances, 61, 123;
      first communion and baptism, 41;
      fortieth anniversary, 123;
      funerals, 55;
      grandchildren, 46;
      growth in character, 122;
      health, 123;
      heretic, 30;
      hymn reading, 91, 109;
      illness, 130, 131;
      infancy, 11;
      jubilee anniversary, 102;
      last words, 142;
      licensed, 23;
      marriage, 44, 66;
      marrying couples, 97;
      memorial churches, 147-153;
      ordaining of ministers, 40;
      ordination at New Haven, 38-41;
      pastor, 110, 126;
      peacemaker, 16, chapter xiii;
      personal appearance, 7;
      physique, 7, 60;
      platform, 91, 92;
      politics, 17, 63, 64;
      prayer meetings, 77-79, 110;
      preaching, 99, 100;
      Presbytery, 30, 31;
      pulpit manner, 90, 91;
      punctuality, 32;
      residences, 50;
      rejected of Presbytery, 31, 34;
      Sabbath, 55, 56;
      salary, 123;
      sermonizing, 81;
      sermons printed, 57, 113;
      sermon subjects, 88-90;
      sorrows, 107-108;
      Sunday School, 46, 96;
      teachers, 19-23;
      temperance, 15;
      theatre, 48-50;
      theology, 20, 23, 43, 47;
      tomb, 145;
      visits Ohio, 14;
      voice, 124;
      wit, 123-125;
      wartime, 112-120.

    Chambers, J. M. Duncan, 45, 46, 66, 120.

    Chambers, Martha, 66, 67, 120.

    Chambers, Matilda, 103, 143.

    Chambers, William, 9-15.

    Chambers-Wylie Memorial Church, 6, 83, 152, 153.

    China, 76.

    Church of the Love of God, 147-150.

    Church on 13th Street, 4, 5, 25, 26.

    Church on Broad Street, 60-62.

    Church government, 94.

    Concert Hall, 69.

    Congregational Church, 52, 115, 137.

    Congregational council, 40.

    Coyle, Mr. R. M., 147.

    Crowell, Rev. James 109.

    Curtin, Governor, 119.

    Cuyler, Rev. T., 55.

    Cyclopedia of Temperance, 83.

    Dexter, Rev. Franklin, 38.

    Dill, Mr. T. P., 100.

    Drummond, Professor, 126.

    Dudleian lecture, 40.

    Duelling, 58.

    Duncan Margaret, 25, 26.

    Duncan, Rev. John Mason, 19-21, 27, 34.

    Elders, 40, 53.

    Ely, Rev. Dr. Stiles, 28, 31.

    Evans, Mr. J., 102.

    Fashions, 92, 93, 105.

    Fisher, Prof. W. G., 122, 141.

    Flag on church, 116.

    Friends, Society of, 131.

    Fugitive Slave Law, 114.

    Funerals, 51, 55.

    Garrison, Wm. Lloyd, 117.

    Gashmu, 124.

    General Assembly, 44.

    Gettysburg, 118.

    Gray, Rev. James, 19, 21, 22, 27.

    Griffis, Capt. John L., 85.

    Griffiths, Captain, 118.

    Hackett, Mr. James, 46.

    Hale, Edward Everett, 106.

    Hall, Wilfrid, 27.

    Hartranft, Rev. P. D., 37.

    Hatfield, Rev. Dr. 141.

    Hibbert, Mr. Thomas, 55, 94.

    Higher Criticism, 37, 99, 122.

    Hinckley, Mr. R. H., 53, 101, 147.

    Hoyt, Rev. Dr. Thomas A., 152, 153.

    Huldah, 4.

    Hunter, Rev. A. B., 101.

    Hunter, Mr. John C., 100, 151.

    Hymns, 16, 109, 110.

    Ireland, 8, 10.

    Irvine, Rev. Thomas, 127.

    Japan, 16, 76, 130.

    Johnson, Rev. Dr. Herrick, 137, 138.

    Johnson, Mr. J. B., 102.

    Kelley, Rev. Samuel P., 140.

    Lawyer, Mr. E. S., 100.

    Ledger, Public, 81, 82, 85, 88, 121.

    Lee, Rev. Dr. E. Trumbull, 153.

    Leslie, Mr. Henry, 102.

    Levy, Rev. Edgar, 129.

    Leyburn, Rev. Dr., 122, 145.

    Luther, Robert, 40, 53, 95.

    Luther, Rev. Robert Maurice, 95, 124-127.

    McHenry family, 44, 45.

    McLeod, Rev. Dr., 145.

    McNeille, Rev. R. G. S., 140.

    March, Rev. Daniel, 122.

    Marrott, Mr. C. D., 102.

    Mary, 63.

    Milner, Rev. Dr. Duncan C., 120, 137.

    Minton, Rev. Henry C., 153.

    Mitchell, Dr. S. Weir, 130, 131.

    Money raising, 61.

    Moody, Mr., 90.

    Mount Pleasant, 13, 100.

    Munger, Rev. T. T., 38.

    Myers, Mr. Henry, 102.

    Nagle, Mr. G. F., 102.

    Neill, Rev., 122.

    Newland, Francis, 97, 98, 141.

    Newton, Rev. Dr. Richard, 152.

    Newton, Pa., 28.

    North American building, 1-3.

    Ohio, 12-16.

    Otts, Rev. J. M. B., 143.

    Paine, Thomas, 85, 86.

    Painter, Mr. Charles, 99.

    Patterson, Rev. Wm., 147.

    Penn, Wm., 1.

    Pennock, architects, 153.

    Philadelphia in old time, 5, 24, 49.

    Plumer, Rev. Wm., 119, 122, 141.

    Post with chain, 3, 4.

    Prayer meetings, 27, 54, 55, 141.

    Presbyterian encyclopedia, 34.

    Presbytery of Baltimore, 34.

    Presbytery of Philadelphia, 23, 28.

    Princeton, 19.

    Pulpit, 70, 71.

    Pulpit, power of, 2.

    Purdy, Mr. Harrison, 101, 102.

    Reed, Mr. Moses, 33.

    Renan's Life of Jesus, 87.

    Revivalists, 36, 63.

    Ross, Miss Anna, 33, 113.

    Rutledge Church, 6, 152.

    Sabbath-keeping, 3, 4, 55-57.

    Sacraments, 73, 74.

    St. Paul's Pres. Church, 151.

    Schenck, Rev. Dr., 121.

    Scotch-Irish, 8.

    Scott Legion, 117.

    Scott's soldiers, 112.

    Scripture references, 5.

    Sexton, 104.

    Sheppard, Joseph B., 95, 96, 113.

    Sheppard, Rev. T. J., 140.

    Skinner, Rev. Harvey, 35.

    Smith, Mr. William, 102.

    Snyder, Mr. J. M., 102.

    Socrates, 84.

    Somers, Mr. A., 102.

    Song of Songs, 24, 44.

    Steinmetz, Daniel, 98, 113.

    Stewartstown, 9, 12.

    Stockton, Rev. William R., 141.

    St. Paul's Pres. Church, 6.

    Sullivan's Expedition of 1779, 9, 17.

    Sunday Despatch, 86.

    Sunday School, 46, 56, 140.

    Supplee, Mr. C. D., 102.

    Synods, 20.

    Talmage, Rev. T. D., 82, 120, 121.

    Taylor, Rev. N. W., 36.

    Temperance, 51-54.

    Theological Seminaries, 19.

    Theology, 20-22.

    Thirteenth Street, 35, 46.

    Thirteenth Street Church, 23, 24.

    Thompson, Rev. Dr. John, 148.

    Tone, T. Wolf, 10.

    Tracy, Mr. E., 102.

    Trumbull, Dr. Henry Clay, 65.

    Tyler, Rev. Bennett, 37.

    Union Theological Seminary, 129.

    United Irishmen, 10, 11, 22.

    Universalism, 58.

    Van Deurs, Dr. George, 147.

    Vaux, Richard, 60.

    Vicksburg, 119.

    Village, The, 46.

    Walton, Rudolph S., 70, 79, 98, 99, 113, 146, 151.

    Wanamaker, John, 78, 80, 147, 148.

    War, Civil, Chapter XIII.

    War, Mexican, 112.

    War of 1812, 17.

    Washington's Birthday, 53.

    Weaver, Mr. William, 104.

    Weddings, 105.

    Wentz, Miss K., 150.

    West, Mr. Edwin, 102.

    Westminster symbols, 30, 31, 42, 130.

    Westwood, Rev. Dr. Henry C., 143.

    Whitaker, Mr., 144.

    Whitefield, 65.

    Whittier quoted, 107, 155.

    Wilder, Rev., 76.

    Willetts, Rev. Dr. A. A., 54.

    Williams, Mr. W. S., 102.

    Wilson, Rev. James P., 35.

    Women of First Independent Church, 104.

    Wylie, Rev. S. B., 10, 22.

    Yard, Mr. John, 95, 113.

    Young, Mr. G. I., 102.

    Young Ladies' Association, 96.

    Youths' Temperance Society, 53.

Transcriber's Notes:

 1. Obvious printer's and spelling mistakes have been corrected.

 2. Page 18: The name Thomas Scott Key has been replaced by the correct
    name of Francis Scott Key.

 3. Italics are shown as _text_.

 4. Hyphens have been left in the words "to-day" and "to-morrow", as in
    the original.

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