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losing their authority. Men inquired if anything would be left. The answer was, all that is remains; nothing has been lost except what is illusory. But after all something precious had gone or was threatened, and the loss or fear was full of pain. ... It was the early stage of that transition in Christian theology of which we have not yet seen the end. Something of this you must have in mind, if you would understand the difficulty of his (Mr. Hall's) position, or appreciate the fearless and gentle wisdom, the loving and considerate spirit and the unfailing courtesy and tact, which marked the delivery of his message. For him the past was gone; its religious experiences were not adequate to contain the larger thought of life and God and duty. For many in his congregation whom he most respected, the familiar ideas and phrases were infinitely dear and satisfying. Under such conditions it would be too much to expect and more than the truth would warrant, to say that there was a complete understanding from the first. Yet so evident was his sincerity, so profound and reverent were his convictions, that he soon had the entire confidence of his parishioners. . . . Mr. Hall was fortunate in having a people who were accustomed to think and weigh evidence, and little by little his impressive utterance had its effect and drew men to his side in loyal and admiring support.
After thirteen years he received an invitation to become the minister of the First Parish in Cambridge, as successor to the Rev. Francis Greenwood Peabody. Partly through a conviction that a minister could not for much more than ten years prepare sermons which would be of fresh and helpful interest to the same body of people, but partly also because of a modesty which prevented him from realizing how strong a hold he had upon the affection of his Worcester church and the community, he decided to accept this invitation. But "he left a sorrowing church behind him; he went away in spite of the entreaties and amid the tears of all, old and young.”
He was installed at Cambridge March 30, 1882. Here again he won increasingly the respect and affection of his people, and again it was in spite of protests and entreaties that he resigned, March 31, 1893. In the more personal relations with his parishioners he had “by his simplicity and unaffected sympathy with those to whom he ministered,” the Rev. George Batchelor wrote in the Christian Register of February 29, 1912, "attracted and bound to himself many, and especially young people. Although he was never married, he made his home a social centre which was attractive even to the children of the parish.” The party at his house each year, to which the invitations were given in the name of a favorite collie whose birthday was to be celebrated, was an occasion to which the children looked forward eagerly and of which the pleasure will never be forgotten. As regarded his preaching, the years were bringing a more general understanding and acceptance of the newer aspects of faith, and he could present them with increasing confidence in the sympathy and appreciation of his hearers. But the same “fearless wisdom” which had characterized his earlier doctrinal utterances was still in evidence, finding perhaps its most vigorous expression in the sermons on questions of public duty which he preached from time to time as he saw the need of reform in one direction or another. For "no reformer of our time,” to quote Dr. Batchelor's words again, “had more severe ideals of public and private morality (or was] more faithful in the expression of that which was righteous and of sharp rebuke for everything that seemed to him mean, treacherous or injurious to the common cause."
Thus in the sermon for Memorial Sunday included in the volume of Discourses published in 1893, he attacks the abuses incident to our national pension system with a definiteness and vigor and a warmth of indignation which are not less effective when one bears in mind that the speaker has been with his regiment at the front and is a member of the Loyal Legion.
I am anxious to leave upon you the impression (he concludes) that the entire pension legislation of the last ten years is the most disreputable business in which an honorable nation could possibly engage, that it carries in itself all the elements of corruption, hypocrisy and demoralization, that it is not called for by patriotism, by charity, or by statesmanship, that it is a burlesque upon statesmanship, that it is a libel upon charity, and that it strikes the most cruel blow at patriotism which that noble sentiment ever received. So far as its further encroachments are concerned, we seem for the moment to be powerless; yet this makes it all the more important that the present inexplicable apathy should somehow be shaken, so that the beautiful anniversary which has just passed may resume once more its ancient charm, and we may be able to enter again, as tenderly as twenty-five years ago, into the pathos of the words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.”
Similarly in a sermon on “Justice to the Laborer,” he says:
The point at which the lover of his race should aim, is to treat the suffering classes not as classes, but as men; to secure for them not peculiar privileges, but the common rights of humanity. Less than this can never satisfy them, and ought not to; more than this they cannot hope to receive. I am the more urgent upon this point because there is one flagrant wrong demanding our attention just now for which we have all made ourselves virtually responsible. I have long felt that, if I were to lead any crusade to-day, I should make myself the champion of unorganized labor. I have no quarrel with organized labor in itself, ... but I cannot forget that ... there is a vaster body of laborers, more needy ... and far more friendless, whom their privileged brethren treat only with disdain, and toward whom the world at large seems absolutely indifferent. i . . The thousands who have power to compel it receive our attention; the millions who have no prestige, and can urge no claims but their needs, receive none. Nor can any one wonder at the effect of this strange favoritism upon its recipients, or the growing insolence and tyranny with which they employ the power which the community thus confers upon them. What American heart, unless dulled by long submission to such outrages, can help throbbing with indignation when for four months an entire American community is held in terror, and hundreds of industrious workmen subjected to violence and peril of their lives, solely because the privileged class of laborers do not choose to have any competitors in the field. Surely, it was not for this that the American republic came into existence or American freedom was fought for and won. In our broad territories there is room enough for all; and the man who will not trust to his own merits, but seeks his advancement by robbing his brother of his chance, deserves no toleration whatever. The shame of it is not so much that such a thing as I have just described can happen, as that it can happen and no protest be heard. The evil of this ignoble tyranny is that it works such degradation in the community which submits to it, and postpones so long the final triumph of humanity. For the day of humanity comes when there are no tyrants and no oppressed, but when equal justice is done to all.
Soon after his resignation from the Cambridge parish he went to Europe for travel and study. On his return to this country he made his home at first at Brookline, Massachusetts, but later removed to Cambridge, and for the last fourteen years or so lived in the house, number 14 Craigie Street, where he died. During these later years he preached sometimes, though not frequently, and was called upon from time to time to officiate at marriages and funerals in the families of former parishioners who turned to him as in a very real sense still their minister. During the academic year 1899–1900 he was lecturer on the History of Christian Doctrine in the Harvard Divinity School. But for the most part he was occupied in study and writing, in an attendance conscientiously regular at the meetings of the numerous organizations of which he was a member, and in a companionship with kindred and friends which he greatly valued, and in which his learning, his kindly humor, his ready wit, and his tender and loyal affection found their freest outlet. In 1874, during his Worcester pastorate, he had published a volume entitled Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Christian Church, and in 1885, while he was minister of the Cambridge parish, Lessons on the Life of St. Paul. When he resigned the Cambridge pastorate a committee of Cambridge "friends and parishioners” obtained his consent, up to that time refused, to print a selection from his sermons in the volume entitled Discourses to which reference has been made. In 1899 he published Papias and his Contemporaries, and in 1906 Paul the Apostle. His various essays in church history were marked by the accuracy and thoroughness, the breadth and honesty and independence which were characteristic of all his work. He received the degree of S. T. D. from Harvard in 1902 at the hands of President Charles W. Eliot, one of his Cambridge parishioners, as "army chaplain in the Civil War, pastor, preacher, candid student of early Christian history, independent, outspoken citizen.”
From the time of his election as a Resident Member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, in January, 1900, he was an interested and constant attendant at its meetings. In November, 1903, he was elected a member of the Council for three years. Besides the memoir of his college classmate and friend, George Otis Shattuck, communicated at the November meeting of the Society 1902, he contributed in March, 1904, a paper on the Origin of Congregationalism ? and in March, 1911, a paper on the Relations between the First Church of Hartford and the First Church in Cambridge.
1 Publications, viii. 7-12. ? viji. 326-333.
In his outward person his strong, clear-cut features, his dignified, vigorous, half military bearing, made him a distinguished figure wherever he was seen. Fond of outdoor life, a lover of animals, he rode his horse the very summer before his death, when already in his eighty-first year. Even more fully he kept to the very last the keen and alert vigor of his mind. Sensitive but fearless, gentle but strong, aristocratic in culture and taste, but in all deep human sympathies most democratic, he will be remembered and cherished by all who have ever known him as indeed “a veray parfit gentil knight."
1 xiii. 273-277.