“It was said once by an eminent writer that when Abraham Lincoln, the forest-born liberator, entered Heaven, he threw down at God’s throne three million yokes as the trophies of his great act of emancipation; as great as that was, I think it was small, indeed, compared with the tens of thousands of souls Talmage redeemed from the yokes of sin and shame by the glorious Gospel preached with such fervour and power of the Holy Ghost. What a mighty army stood ready to greet him at the gates of the heavenly city as the warrior passed in to be crowned by his Sovereign and King!”
The funeral services were held at the Church of the Covenant, Washington, on April 15th. The ceremony began at 5 p.m., with the “Dead March from Saul,” and lasted considerably over an hour. The coffin rested immediately in front of the pulpit, and over it was a massive bed of violets. On a silver plate was the inscription:
THOMAS DEWITT TALMAGE,
JANUARY 7TH, 1832-APRIL 12TH, 1902
The floral offerings were numerous, including a wreath of white roses and lilies of the valley sent by President and Mrs. Roosevelt. The officiating clergymen were the Rev. Dr. T.S. Hamlin, pastor of the Church; the Rev. Dr. T. Chalmers Easton, of Washington; and the Rev. Drs. S.J. Nicols, and James Demarest, of Brooklyn. A male quartette sang: “Lead, Kindly Light,” a favourite hymn of Dr. Talmage; “Beyond the Smiling and the Weeping”; and “It is well with my Soul.” The addresses of the Reverend Doctors were eulogistic of the dead preacher, of whom they had been intimate friends for more than a quarter of a century. The body lay in state four hours, during which thousands passed in review around it.
At midnight the remains of Dr. Talmage were conveyed by private train to Brooklyn, where the burial took place in Greenwood Cemetery. The funeral cortege arrived about ten o’clock in the morning; hundreds were already in the cemetery, waiting to behold the last rites paid to one they revered and loved. The Episcopal burial service was read by the Rev. Dr. Howard Suydam, an old friend and classmate of Dr. Talmage, who made a brief address, and concluded the simple ceremonies by the recital of the Lord’s Prayer.
Tributes were paid to the illustrious dead all over the civilised world, and in many languages; while thousands of letters of condolence and telegrams assured the family in those days of affliction that human hearts were throbbing with ours and fain would comfort us. One wrote feelingly:
“When Dr. Talmage described the Heavenly Jerusalem, he seemed to feel all the ecstatic fervour of a Bernard of Cluny, writing:
’For thee, O dear, dear
Mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love beholding
Thy holy name, they weep.’”
And it seems to me that I cannot better close this altogether unworthy sketch of Dr. Talmage than by offering the reader as a parting remembrance, in its simple beauty, his “Celestial Dream”: