It was a grand tribute to Phillips Brooks that even the storm could not keep St. John's Memorial Chapel from being filled last evening, when Bishop Clark of Rhode Island spoke of Phillips Brooks as he had known him in the pulpit, in the bishopric, in his life as a man.
"Phillips Brooks needs no epitaph, "said Bishop Clark, "His name is already inscribed on the hearts of thousands. Though he was not a man whose office would make him respected by all men alike, yet when the news of his death was made known, all men were alike stunned. Men of all creeds and men of no creed exclaimed: 'What a man was this' Business of state and city and the private individual was suspended during the hour of his funeral. The whole land honored him, and through him itself, for it recognized a type of true and mighty manhood.
As a preacher Phillips Brooks was most conspicuous, for here he was unique. He did not copy, he could not be copied. He entered little into questions of doctrine; his aim was to open the windows of man's heart, and leave it better than he found it. Though not pretending to the art of elocution, he held all men's attention, and for that all elocution strives. He could preach because he liked to preach. Whenever he spoke, whether to high or low, he always ennobled his hearers. He cared not for creed or doctrinal controversy so long as he could feed the hungry soul He wanted all men to come to know Christ so well that they could not be shaken. Thousands have stopped at his words and have obeyed his personality, thousands have been led by him to better lives.
If Bishop Brooks was sensitive upon any one point, it was upon other men's estimate of his executive powers. Many thought he was too good a preacher to be a good manager, but any who have observed know full well that never did a man perform more completely the routine of his office. The only trouble is that he was too faithful. He wore out, not from thinking, but from working.
As a man, Bishop Brooks was never unhappy. When subject to the severest criticism he never lost his cheerful smile. Just criticism in fact, could not disdisplease him, though he never explained when criticised, but left it to time to correct misconception. When once decided, he was difficult to persuade, for he grounded his opinions well and felt secure in them.
It is strange what a warm heart he had, and how he sympathized with the poor and desolate. He never had had any hardship, or any personal sorrow, yet his was the kindest heart and his the tenderest words to the sorrowful. It is the poor who mourn him most of all, and feel that only God is left for them.
Surely such a man cannot die. He still lives in the hearts of all whom he has left behind. Nor yet is he idle. He has only gone to a larger and nobler field.