It is matter of joyful congratulation that he was permitted to finish the usual term of man’s years in the missionary field. Others of our eminent men, such as Abeel, Thompson, Doty, and Pohlman, were cut off in the midst of their days. But he spent a full lifetime, dying not by violence or accident, but only when the bodily frame had been worn out in the natural course of events. Our Church has been signally favored of God in the gifts and character and work of the men she has sent into the foreign field—and this not merely in the partial judgment of their denominational brethren, but in the deliberate opinion of such competent and experienced observers as the late Dr. Anderson, of the American Board, and the late S. Wells Williams, the famous Chinese scholar; [One remark of Dr. S. Wells Williams is worth reproducing: “I think, myself, after more than forty years’ personal acquaintance with hundreds of missionaries in China, that David Abeel was facile princeps among them all.”—Presb. Review, ii. 49.] but I think that none of them, neither Abeel nor Thompson, surpassed Dr. Talmage in any of the qualities, natural or acquired, which go to make an accomplished missionary of the cross. I enjoyed the personal acquaintance of them all, having been familiar with the progress of the work from the time when (October, 1832) our Board of Foreign Missions was established, and therefore am able to form an intelligent opinion. Our departed brother can no more raise his voice, either at home or abroad, but his work remains, and his memory will never die. For long years to come his name will be fragrant in the hearts of our people; and his lifelong consecration to the enterprise of the world’s conversion will prove an example and a stimulus to this and the coming generation. The equipoise of his mind, the solidity of his character, the strength of his faith, the brightness of his hope, the simple, steadfast fidelity of his devotion to the Master, will speak trumpet-tongued to multitudes who never saw his face in the flesh. The unadorned story of his life, what he was and what he did by the grace of God, will cheer the hearts of all the friends of foreign missions, and win others to a just esteem of the cause which could attract such a man to its service and animate him to such a conspicuous and blessed career.
By Rev. John M. Ferris, D.D.,
[Editor of the “Christian Intelligencer” and ex-Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the American Reformed Church.]