« PreviousContinue »
that the young
what he could do to feed so many. But he added, that as his Master on that memorable occasion made use of the lad as an instrument, so he would strive to be likewise an instrument for distributing spiritual food and giving instruction to the multitude. Nor is it too much to say that, in looking back to that beginning of a career in which confidence and love between minister and congregation grew stronger year by year, no one who heard him then would fail to
say pastor had faithfully adhered to his promise to devote his life to the canse of the New Church and the spread of the knowledge of her doctrines.
The nine years that have passed since Mr. Hyde's appointment at Peter Street were the most active and important of his life, and his duties in connection with his own Society were only a small part of the work he did for the Church. Three times he was elected President of the Conference; no one ever fulfilled the duties of this onerous and honourable position with more tact or with greater industry and zeal, and there were few useful works initiated either in or out of Conference in which Mr. Hyde was not actually concerned. He wrote the “Child's Catechism," he was the compiler of the “Supplement to the Hymn Book," for which, as well as for the new School Hymn Book, he wrote a considerable number of hymns, and he was one of the most active members of the Committee for compiling the New Liturgy. In fact, either in or out of Conference, whenever a subject was brought forward which demanded judgment and forethought or readiness in action, Mr. Hyde's services were certain to be thought of, and assuredly they were never asked in vain. For the Manchester Tract Society he wrote a series of interesting and useful tracts, and though he had no great love for polemics he more than once had occasion to prove his remarkable powers as a theological controversialist. His brilliant success as a lecturer was not limited to any one class of subject. Frequently in his own Society, and occasionally in other towns, he delivered masterly addresses on secular subjects; one of the ablest and most eloquent of these was a reply to Professor Tyndall's famous Belfast address.
Perhaps to the majority of the members of the Church Mr. Hyde will be best remembered by the elaborate and logical lectures in defence of the doctrines to which reference has already been made, but to those who were accustomed to hear him regularly the lessons of his less ambitious sermons and lectures will be retained still more vividly, and suggest even sweeter recollections ; and in the shorter courses of lectures delivered to his own congregation, he was also invariably and strikingly happy.
It is generally known that Mr. Hyde took part in political and
social movements both in Derby and Manchester. He considered it part of his duty indeed to make himself acquainted with the history of passing events, and, as far as possible, with contemporary literature. He was thus often enabled to illustrate the subject of his discourse by forcible references to events about which he knew the minds of his hearers must have been occupied during the week, and many instances might be offered of his pointing a powerful moral, or intensify. ing the lesson of an accident or other calamity by defining the laws of Divine permission, or by indicating the warnings of Providence on these occasions. Though it was seldom Mr. Hyde's custom to make direct reference to his own personal experience, no one could hear him preach without realizing that he spoke from the experience of his own heart, and whether he was tender or pathetic ; in the calm discussion of an argument, or in his most touching appeals to the feelings, he was never unmindful of the dignity of his position as a teacher and a preacher. In exposition he was singularly clear, and he had the faculty of adapting himself to the comprehension of the simple without violating the essential conditions of intellectual instruction. He was unfailingly graphic and picturesque in description ; in argument few were more persuasive, and even fewer were so incisire and so vigorous in logical discussion. A man of wonderfully quick perception, he was enabled to take a rapid survey of a new subject in a surprisingly short time; he sometimes said that he was a rapid and ready, rather than a profound thinker, but if ever after a hasty generalization further investigation convinced him that his first impressions were either inadequate or incorrect, he never hesitated, no matter how far he had committed himself by private or even public expression, to avow and correct his mistakes. This courageous candour was indeed one of his most striking characteristics as a public man, and his willingness to understand all sides of a question, and the absence of anything like overweening confidence in his own judgment must have been noticed by all who had more than slight acquaintance with him. And like many other highly-gifted and accomplished men, he was essentially modest. Without the vanity which leads some men to force the subject of their own deeds or utterances on the consideration of their friends, he was nevertheless always ready to receive suggestions, and more than willing to be told of the comparatively weak points, or what might seem such, in his speeches and sermons. There were few men more happy in addressing children, and whether in narrative or in exhortation, in counsel or instruction, he knew how to secure and sustain their attention.
Of his more important published works we need say little, as they are probably all known to the majority of our readers. One of the
ablest of them consisted mainly of articles written for this magazine ; and for many years past Mr. Hyde regularly contributed essays, reviews, and other articles to the Intellectual Repository. He was no less fluent as a writer than as a speaker, but in both cases his rapidity was always subordinate to systematic preliminary thought and to orderly and effective preparation. From a boy he was devoted to literary pursuit, and in addition to his numerous religious books, &c., he had considerable experience as a writer of poetry and fiction. was also the author of several successful papers on Education, and his essay on International Arbitration, read at a conference in the Manchester Town Hall, was pronounced by a high authority one of the most exhaustive considerations of the subject ever written.
It is much less easy to speak of Mr. Hyde's private than of his public virtues, nor would it be possible for his most intimate friends to define completely the charm that endeared him to them. It may be truly said, however, that those who knew him the best loved him the most, and that the honesty, frankness, and geniality so apparent in all the phases of his public capacity were even more apparent in the relations of his social and domestic life.
Mr. Hyde had enjoyed generally excellent health up to the spring of the present year, and when after a few weeks' illness, commencing last Easter, it was announced that fears were entertained that his sickness was “to death,” at first it seemed impossible to realize that they were well founded, and even after it was known that the strong and vigorous man in the prime of his life, and in what seemed the noun of a career of active usefulness, was afflicted with a disease from which there was no hope of recovery, many of his friends could not resist the alluring hopes with which Mr. Hyde himself was occasionally flattered almost to the last. The recollection of his physical strength, of his intellectual vigour, and the force of his vitality, almost precluded the idea of his speedy passing away. But in spite of all that the most devoted loving care and tender attention could accomplish, the fatal disease made rapid strides, and within a month of his departure his eyesight almost entirely failed him. Even when his hopes were fading his
and his trust sustained him. Yet within six weeks of the date of his death, at a time when many of his friends were altogether hopeless, he was so confident of his recovery that he ventured to predict his return to his duties in the following August. His hope of being able to preach in Manchester on the first Sunday in August was indeed so strong that he even selected his text and wrote down a few preliminary notes. The text is worth remembering, and few thoughts are more suggestive or may be more helpful to those who reflect on the passing away of this kindly and true-hearted man than his desire to preach to his own congregation from the words, “O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence and be no more."
When he had given up all hopes of being present at the Conference, he did not cease to take an interest in its proceedings. At the meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evening messages of sympathy and love from him were read, and to his private friends be frequently expressed his interest in the welfare and prosperity of the Church. He passed away on the afternoon of the 18th of August, only a few (lays after the end of the meeting of Conference. His end was peace ful and gentle, and he was conscious until within a short time of the beginning of his eternal rest.
His friends in Manchester had thought that they were prepared for the worst, but the announcement that all was over nevertheless came with something like a shock. When they heard that the funeral would take place in Manchester, arrangements were made for a service in the Peter Street Church, in order that the New Church service might be read as well as that of the Anglican Church at St. Luke's, Cheetham Hill Road, where Mr. Hyde had owned a grave. Although there was only time to summon the friends by an informal advertisement in the newspapers, there was a large congregation; the Rev. J. Presland read the service, and the impressive solemnity of the scene will not soon be forgotten by those who were present. The service at St. Luke's was ead, at his own request, by the Rev. John Henn, rector of St. John's, Manchester. Mr. Henn is the secretary of the Hospital Sunday Committee in Manchester, of which Mr. Hyde had been an active member, and to some his presence on this occasion was otherwise interesting. St. John's is almost within a stone's-throw of Peter Street, and it was at least interesting to know that a successor of John Clowes was officiating at the funeral of John Hyde. In the funeral procession there were, in addition to members of Mr. Hyde's family and other very dear friends, representatives of New Church Societies near and distant. The ministers were there lamenting the loss of one of the best-beloved of their brethren, the Conference was represented by its Council, and members of the Church from Manchester, Salford, and other Societies went to join in the last mark of respect to one who had been so dear to them. On the following Sunday sermons in reference to the occasion were preached by Mr. Presland to congregations which crowded the Peter Street Church both morning and evening. The text of the morning's sermon was the verse included by Mr. Hyde in one of his messages to Conference, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm cxxii. 6); and in the course of his impressive discourse, Mr. Presland gave an admirable summary of Mr. Hyde's career, and a just and sympathetic estimate of his character.
And if, in addition to the consolation which those who were dearest to our departed friend can have in the knowledge that, both during his active career and in the course of his last illness, he never ceased to appreciate their unfailing love and their tender care, the sympathy and respect of a multitude of friends in the circle of those who were near and dear in the next degree can afford them consolation, of that they may indeed be assured.
We cannot, perhaps, more appropriately finish this notice than by quoting the concluding words of Mr. Hyde's address on the occasion of his baptism into the New Church in 1858. It is the record of a promise and a determination; and if those to whom the promise was made were asked whether it had been fulfilled by the deeds of his afterlife, no one could possibly doubt about the reply :-“Before you,” he said, “whom henceforth I shall delight to regard as my brethren and sisters in the Lord, by virtue of a holy and divine adoption before you all, I here covenant that this people shall be my people, that their God shall be my God, that whither they go I will go, that their sublime faith, their transcendent hopes, their delightful toil, their glorious anticipations of triumph, shall be the hope and the toil and the faith into which I pray that God may abundantly induct me and preserve me faithful to the end."
IN MEMORIA M. How sad it is to sit in the old room, surrounded with the familiar things of everyday life, yet miss the face that shed its spirit of life and beauty around. The world goes on in the same way it did in the past, but where to us is its source of enjoyment? Buried in the grave that seems remorselessly to have taken away everything that was dear. The beauty of Nature seems shorn of its glory when the one is absent who shared it with us; the happiness of home seems rent away when the icy hand of Death has grasped and carried away home's central figure ; the pleasures of life seem to pall on our senses when the laugh and the smile of one we loved are gone. What compensation have we for love? Riches may remain, but they cannot give sympathy; position and power may remain, but they cannot awaken loving thoughts ; intellectual pleasures may remain, but they cannot elevate and gladden the heart, like the voice, and looks, and actions of mother, father, husband, wife, or child.