But not in that way was Powell the teacher of hope and of peace and of joy to us. He showed the way of the cross and all the morning light of hope, because he himself had found it! And how lustrous and mighty and winning did his own way of life serve to make all this way appear to be.
O face, all radiant with light
O eyes, so laughing in their tenderness.
So quick to read the language of distress;
O lips, so touched with flame as from above—
We have seen that sweet vision, and all the way before us shall be the clearer, and we the stronger, because of it. And the sweet memory of our brother shall remain to us.
Like some clear large star,
At their back leave, and see not always;
Yet wheresoever they list, may turn,
And with its glories gild their faces still!
For himself, he has ascended to the mountains of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, and has seen the day break and the shadows flee away. But, brothers, let us cherish no such idle notion as though James Powell had now forgotten, or has ceased to be interested in the Chinaman, the Indian and the Negro, in America.
If there is any special fitness in inviting me to speak on this occasion, it lies in the fact that Dr. Powell was an intimate friend of mine. Outside of the circle of my own home, there was no one with whom I ever held such close and familiar relationship as with him. Our acquaintance began in the early days of college life, when our nation was in the throes of a civil war. We were not members of the same class, but were brought together quite frequently through the literary society to which we both belonged. During this period our relations were simply cordial. Unconsciously the advice of that witty old divine, Thomas Fuller, was being followed: “Let friendship creep gently to a height; if it rush to it, it may soon run itself out of breath.”
Dr. Powell graduated from Dartmouth College in the class of 1866, while my graduation took place the previous year, in the class of 1865. My first year out of college was spent in teaching in my native town. When the decision was reached of entering the Theological Seminary, it was mutually agreed that we should go to Andover and room together. From that time on our intimacy grew apace. We passed three years together as chums; but that relation did not cease when we separated and each went his own way to the field of labor where the Lord had appointed. The last letter that I received from him, (and I have been informed that it was the last letter that he ever wrote, which reached me only the day before the despatch that apprised me of his death), began in that same old familiar fashion, “My dear Chum.” I have thus made reference to matters somewhat personal, that the standpoint from which I speak may be more clearly understood. I have “summered and wintered him;” I have been permitted to know him within and without; I have been with him in season and out of season; I have studied with him; I have prayed with him; I have loved him as a brother.