A Commentary on the Apocalypse
A Historical Sketch of the Exegesis of the Apocalypse (PDF)
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- 1831: Sermon on Jewish Conversion (PDF)
- 1833: Walter Balfour – Letters to Moses Stuart “The following letters, were published in the Universalist Magazine, in the years 1820, and 1821, and signed ‘ An Inquirer after truth They were addressed to MoSes Stuart, associate Professor of Sacred Literature, in the Theological Seminary at Andover. In presenting them to the public, now in a small book, and with my real name affixed to them, a brief statement of the circumstances which gave rise to them, seems to be necessary. Without this, some might suppose, they were written since I became a Universalist, whereas they were expressly written to avoid becoming one.” (Pastoral partner of the earliest known FP author, Robert Townley, who converted to Preterist Universalism shortly after the publication of his book in 1845. (PDF File)
- 1842: Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy // 1851 Edition
- 1843: George Duffield: Millenarianism Defended: Reply to Prof. Stuart’s “Strictures on the Rev. G. Duffield’s Recent Work on the Second Coming of Christ” (PDF) “Now, after all this, what shall we think of those who will tell us UNFULFILLED PROPHECY needs not to be studied—is of no use, but dangerous–— till the events have fulfilled them ? Assuredly such instructors deserve reproof, and to be sent back to their Bibles, themselves to study, more carefully, lest they should mislead others. They have reason to fear that the charge, and censure of the Saviour, for hypocrisy may be applicable ;” and in proof of this statement, I have shown that it was the very circumstances of the Pharisees’ neglecting prophecy, on which the Saviour founded his charge of hypocrisy against them.”
- 1845: Apocalypse, Volume One // Apocalypse, Volume Two (PDF) // A Historical Sketch of the Exegesis of the Apocalypse: An Excerpt from A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Volume 1 (1845 PDF)
- 1847: Rev. Edward Beecher: Remarks on Stuart’s Commentary on the Apocalypse (PDF) “But when we come to consider the fundamental principles of prophetic interpretation, and raise the inquiry, has the interpretation of our fathers been radically and thoroughly overthrown, and ought the German interpretation to supersede it, then we must beg leave to demur. We do not believe that the fundamental idea in the interpretation of our fathers has been overthrown, or that it can be. And this last and greatest effort of Professor Stuart has the more confirmed us in that belief. The reasons of this conviction we proceed to assign.”
“The fact is, that our Saviour had frequently and solemnly admonished his disciples respecting such a war, and plainly and definitely predicted the issue of the contest, Matt. xxiv. At the same time, he had strictly charged them to flee from the country, whenever the Roman invasion should take place. Can there be any reasonable doubt that Christian in general obeyed this injunction? On every ground we may presume that this was speedily done, after Vespasian had marched his overwhelming army into the region of Galilee, early in the Spring of A.D. 67.” (Apocalypse, 2nd th., p. 487)
A Commentary on the Book of Daniel “Now in what part of the Roman invasion did all this happen ? When did they suspend the temple services ? And where shall we find the three and a half years of suspension ? And above all, where, after the suspension, are we to find the restoration of the temple-services ? for this is implied in Daniel. The Roman suspension remains from that day to this. Last, but not least, the desolator in this case is given over to a decreed destruction, to take place soon after the three and a half years were ended. Was this true, now, of either Vespasian or Titus ? Not at all. Both died a natural death, and in peaceful circumstances, Vespasian A. D. 79 and Titus in 82. Both were greatly beloved and honored as princes. What resemblance did either of them bear to the abhorred tyrant in Dan. 9: 26, 27?
The answer then to that exegesis which makes the Roman power to be the fourth dynasty in Daniel, is, that history contradicts such an application of his predictions. That fourth power is of Greek origin; its sphere of action is oriental ground ; its acts are consummated in Epiphanes, (so far as prophecy has any concern with it) ; and the leading tyrant of that dynasty is the enemy and blasphemer of God, and is cut down in the midst of his career by divine vengeance, shortly after the temple desolations were completed. Which of all these things now is applicable either to Vespasian or to Titus ? And above all, what are we to do with the suspension of templeservices for three and a half years, and for this period only ?
But enough. It is impossible to carry through the views of Hengstenberg and Havcrnick, in relation to Dan. 9: 25—27, and make them comport either with history or with the design of the prophet. Events that precede the Messianic kingdom are the objects of Daniel’s vision. Through and through he tells us, that the new and perpetual kingdom, i. e. the fifth dynasty, is built upon the complete destruction of the other four dynasties. Was the Roman power destroyed then, when the Messiah’s kingdom began ? This simple question brings the whole matter to a conclusion.
I see no way of making out a prophecy of Roman invasion in Daniel, unless we force a double sense upon the passage in question; a thing which neither Hengstenberg nor Havernick admitted to be done, when their books were written. And indeed it cannot be done without great violence.
(On Luke 21:24 ; Revelation 11:1)
“In Rev. 11:2, the time during which the Romans are to tread down the holy city, (in this case the capital is, as usual in the Jewish Scripture, the representation of the country), is said to be forty-two months = three and a half years. The active invasion of Judea continued almost exactly this length of time, being at the most only a few days more; so few that they need not, and would not, enter into symbolic computation of time.” (Stuart, p. 279)
“Forty and two months. After all the investigation which I have been able to make I feel compelled to believe that the writer refers to a literal and definite period, although not so exact that a singly day, or even a few days, or variation from it would interfere with the object he has in view. It is certain that the invasion of the Romans lasted just about the length of the period named, until Jerusalem was taken. And although the city was not besieged so long, yet the metropolis in this case, as in innumerable others in both Testaments, appears to stand for the country of Judea. During the invasion of Judea by the Romans the faithful testimony of the persecuted witnesses for Christianity is continued, while at last they are slain. The patience of God in deferring so long the destruction of the persecutors is displayed by this, and especially His mercy in continuing to warn and reprove them. This is a natural, simple, and easy method of interpretation, to say the least, and one which, although it is not difficult to raise objections against it, I feel constrained to adopt.”
(On Hebrews 9:26)
“But now, at the close of the [Jewish] dispensation, He has once for all made His appearance.”
(On Hebrews 10:37)
“The Messiah will speedily come, and, by destroying the Jewish power, put an end to the suffering which your persecutors inflict upon you.” (Commentary on Hebrews, in loc.)
(On Hebrews 12:25-29, and the New Heavens and Earth)
“That the passage has respect to the changes which would be introduced by the coming of the Messiah, and the new dispensation which he would commence, is evident from Haggai ii. 7-9. Such figurative language is frequent in the Scriptures, and denotes great changes which are to take place. So the apostle explains it here, in the very next verse. (Comp. Isa. 13:13; Haggai 2:21,22; Joel 3:16; Matt. 24:29-37). (Hebrews, in loc.)
(On the Early Date of Revelation)
“If now the number of the witnesses were the only thing which should control our judgment in relation to the question proposed, we must, so far as external evidence is concerned, yield the palm to those who fix upon the time of Domitian. But a careful examination of this matter shows, that the whole concatenation of witnesses in favour of this position hangs upon the testimony of Irenaeus, and their evidence is little more than a mere repetition of what he has said. Eusebius and Jerome most plainly depend on him; and others seem to have had in view his authority, or else that of Eusebius.” (Ibid. 2:269..)
“I say this, with full recognition of the weight and value of Irenaeus’s testimony, as to any matters of fact with which he was acquainted, or as to the common tradition of the churches. But in view of what Origen has said. . . , how can we well suppose, that the opinion of Irenaeus, as recorded in Cont. Haeres, V. 30 was formed in any other way, than by his own interpretation of Rev. 1:9. (1:281)
“If there be anything certain in the principles of hermeneutics, it is certain that they decide in favour of a reference to Judea and its capital in Rev. vi – xi. The very fact, moreover, that the destruction of Jerusalem (chap. xi) is depicted in such outlines and mere sketches, shows that it was then sure, when the book was written. It is out of all question, except by mere violence, to give a different interpretation to this part of the Apocalypse.” (1:276)
“Here then, on the very front of the book, is exhibited a title-page, as it were, indicative of a conspicuous part of the contents of the work. The punishment of the unbelieving and persecuting Jew must follow the coming of the Lord; and this it is one leading object of the book to illustrate and confirm. If so, then the prediction must have preceded the event predicted.’ (1:273)
”A majority of the older critics have been inclined to adopt the opinion of Irenaeus, viz., that it was written during the reign of Domitian, i.e., during the last part of the first century, or in A.D.95 or 96. Most of the recent commentators and critics have called this opinion in question, and placed the composition of the book at an earlier period, viz., before the destruction of Jerusalem.” (A Commentary on the Apocalypse, 2 vols; Andover, MD: Allen, Morrill, and Wardwell, 1845; p. 1:263)
“The manner of the declaration here seems to decide, beyond all reasonable appeal, against a later period than about A.D.67 or 68, for the composition of the Apocalypse.” (A Commentary on the Apocalypse, 2 vols; Andover, MD: Allen, Morrill, and Wardwell, 1845; p. 2:326)
(On the timing of John’s Banishment)
“Now it strikes me, that Tertullian plainly means to class Peter, Paul, and John together, as having suffered at nearly the same time and under the same emperor. I concede that this is not a construction absolutely necessary; but I submit it to the candid, whether it is not the most probable.” (1 :284n.)
(On Nero, ‘The Beast’)
“The idea that Nero was the man of sin mentioned by Paul, and the Antichrist spoken of so often in the epistles of St. John, prevailed extensively and for a long time in the early church..”
“Augustine says: What means the declaration, that the mystery of iniquity already works?… Some suppose this to be spoken of the Roman emperor, and therefore Paul did not speak in plain words, because he would not incur the charge of calumny for having spoken evil of the Roman emperor: although he always expected that what he had said would be understood as applying to Nero.” (Excurs. iii.)
(On Revelation 1:7)
“Here then, on the very front of the book, is exhibited a title-page, as it were, indicative of a conspicuous part of the contents of the work. The punishment of the unbelieving and persecuting Jew must follow the coming of the Lord; and this it is one leading object of the book to illustrate and confirm. If so, then the prediction must have preceded the event predicted.’ (1:273)
(On Revelation 13:5-7)
“The persecution of Nero began about the middle or latter part of Nov. A.D. 64, at Rome. It ended with the death of Nero, which was on the ninth of June, A.D. 68, for on that day Galba entered Rome and was proclaimed emperor. Here again is 3 + years or 1260 days with sufficient exactness; for the precise time of forty-two months expires about the middle or end of May, and Nero died in the first part of June. . . (2:469)
“After all the investigation which I have been able to make, I feel compelled to believe that the writer refers to a literal and definite period, although not so exact that a single day, or even a few days, of variation from it would interfere with the object he has in view. It is certain that the invasion of the Romans lasted just about the length of the period named, until Jerusalem was taken. ” (2:218)
(On Revelation 17:10)
“It seems indisputably clear that the book of Revelation must be dated in the reign of Nero Caesar, and consequently before his death in June, A.D. 68. He is the sixth king; the short-lived rule of the seventh king (Galba) “has not yet come.” (2:324)
“But why only seven kings? First because the number seven is the reigning symbolic number of the book; then, secondly, because this covers the ground which the writer means specially to occupy, viz., it goes down to the period when the persecution then raging would cease. (2:325,326)
(On Origins of Praeterist View)
“Near the commencement of the seventeenth century (1614), the Spanish Jesuit Ludovicus ab Alcasar published his Vestigatio arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi, a performance distinguished by one remarkable feature, which was then new. He declared the Apocalypse to be a continuous and connected work, making regular advancement from beginning to end, as parts of one general plan in the mind of the writer. In conformity with this he brought out a result which has been of great importance to succeeding commentators. Rev. v-vi, he thinks, applies to the Jewish enemies of the Christian Church; xi-xix to heathen Rome and carnal and worldly powers, xx-xxii to the final conquests to be made by the church, and also to its rest, and its ultimate glorification. This view of the contents of the book had been merely hinted at before, by Hentenius, in the Preface to his Latin version of Arethas, Par. 1547. 8vo; and by Salmeron in his Preludia in Apoc. But no one had ever developed this idea fully, and endeavoured to illustrate and enforce it, in such a way as Alcasar … Although he puts the time of composing the Apocalypse down to the exile of John under Domitian, yet he still applies ch. v-xi to the Jews, and of course regards the book as partly embracing the past.
“It might be expected, that a commentary that thus freed the Romish church from the assaults of the Protestants, would be popular among the advocates of the papacy. Alcasar met, of course, with general approbation and reception among the Romish community. “‘(Stuart, Moses, “Commentary on the Apocalypse”, Allen, Morrill and Wardell, Andover, 1845, Volume 1, p. 464.)
II Thessalonians 2:2 (Using as proof-text that Parousia was distant)
“This interpretation (viz. The speedy advent of Christ) was formally and strenuously corrected in 2 Thess. ii. Is it not enough that Paul has explained his own words? Who can safely venture to give them a meaning different from what he gives?” (Romans, chap. 8, 11)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
STUART, Moses, Hebraist, born in Wilton, Connecticut, 26 March, 1780; died in Andover, Massachusetts, 4 January, 1852. He was graduated at Yale in 1799, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1802, but did not enter on the practice of his profession, being called to a tutorship in Yale college the same year. After two years of teaching he studied theology, and in 1806 was ordained as pastor of a Congregational church in New Haven. He gained high repute as a forcible and effective preacher, but relinquished pastoral work in 1810, when he was elected to the professorship of sacred literature in Andover seminary, although at that time he possessed but a limited knowledge of Hebrew. He applied himself dill-gently to the language, learning German in order to study the philological treatises of Friedrich H. W. Gesenius, and in 1813 completed a grammar, which was passed around in manuscript, and copied by his pupils. When he obtained type for printing the work, he could find no compositors acquainted with the Hebrew characters, and therefore began the composition with his own hands. His first Hebrew grammar, which was without the diacritical points, was superseded eight years later by his grammar with points, which became the text-book that was generally used in the United States, and was republished in England by Reverend Dr. Edward B. Pusey, regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Professor Stuart was the first to make Americans acquainted with the works of Rosenmfiller, Ewald, and other German Orientalists, and, by applying their scientific methods of philological and archaeological investigation, founded a new school of biblical exegesis. He retired from his professorship on account of advancing age and infirmities. His publications include a” Sermon” on resigning his pastoral charge (1810)and other discourses; ” Grammar of the Hebrew Language without Points” (Andover, 1813) ; “Letters to Reverend William E. Channing, containing Remarks on his Sermon recently preached and published at Baltimore” (Andover, 1.819) : ” Dissertations of Jahn and Others on the Best Method of studying the Languages of the Bible,” translated, with notes (1821) ; ” Grammar of the Hebrew Language, with a Copious Syntax and Praxis” (1821); ” Elements of Interpretation,” translated from the Latin of Johann A. Ernesti, with notes (1822);” Two Discourses on the Atonement” (1824) ; with Edward Robinson, a translation of Georg B. Winer’s ” Greek Grammar , of the New Testament” (1825) ; ” Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews” (2 vols., 1827-‘8); …. Hebrew Chrestomathy, designed as a Course of Hebrew Study” (2 vols., 1829-’30); ” Practical Rules for Greek Accents and Quantity” (1829); ” Exegetical Essays upon Several Words relating to Future Punishment” (1830); “Letter to William E. Channing on the Subject of Religious Liberty” .(Boston, 1830); ” Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, with a Translation and Various Ex-cursus” (Andover, 1832); ” Is tile Mode of Christian Baptism prescribed in the New Testament ?” (1833), to which Professor Henry J. Ripley replied (1837); ” Cicero on the Immortality of the Soul” (1833), which was severely criticised by Professor James L. Kingsley in the “American Monthly Review “; “Grammar of the New Testament Dialect” (1834) ; ” On the Discrepancies between the Sabellian and Athanasian Methods of representing the Doctrine of a Trinity in the Godhead,” translated from the German of Friedrich Schleiermacher, with notes and illustrations (1835): ” Philological View of Modern Doctrines of Geology” (1836); ” Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy” (1842); ” Critical History and Defence of the Old Testament Canon” (1845) ; ” Commentary on the Apocalypse” (Andover, 1845) ; ” Miscellanies,” coinprlsmg his letters to Channing and sermons on the atonement (1846) ; “‘ Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius, as edited by Rediget, translated, with Additions, and also a Hebrew Chrestomathy” (1846), which drew forth a volume of strictures from the first translator, Thomas J. Conant (New York, 1847) ; “A Letter to the Editor of the’ North American Review’ on Hebrew Grammar,” replying to Conant’s criticisms (1847) ; “Conscience and the Constitution, with Remarks on the Speech of Webster on Slavery,” a defence of Daniel Webster’s acquiescence in slavery and the Missouri compromise (Boston, 1850), to which Reverend Rufus W. Clark replied (1850); “Commentary on the Book of Daniel” (1850); “Commentary on Ecclesiastes” (New York, 1851); and “Commentary on the Book of Proverbs” (1852). See his ” Funeral Sermon,” preached by Reverend Edwards A. Park (Andover, 1852): and ” Discourse on the Life and Services of Moses Stuart,” by Reverend William Adams (New York, 1852).–His son, Isaac William, educator, born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1809 ; died in Hart-ford, Connecticut, 2 October, i861, was graduated at Yale in 1828, and taught in Hartford, Connecticut, till 1835, when he became professor of Greek and Roman literature in the South Carolina college, Columbia. He resigned in 1839, and subsequently resided in Hartford, where he was thrice elected to the state senate. He was the owner of the Wyllis estate, on which stood the charter oak. He was a student of Oriental literature, and became interested in Egypt-ology, publishing a translation of Abbe Henore Greppo’s ” Essai sur le systeme hidroglyphique de Champollion le jeune,” with notes and a preface by his father (Boston, 1830). While professor at South Carolina college he produced an annotated edition of the ” (Edipus Tyrannus” of Sophocles (New York, 1837). In later life he gave much attention to American history and antiquities, publishing “Hartford in the Olden Time,” by “Scmva” (Hartford, 1853); ” Life of Captain Nathan Hale, the Martyr Spy” (1856); and ” Life of Jonathan Trumbull, the Revolutionary Governor of Connecticut” (Boston, 1859). (Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM)
“Let us not forget that once in the Church’s history it was the common belief that John’s 1000 years were gone. Dorner bears witness that the Church up to Constantine understood by Antichrist chiefly the heathen state, and to some extent unbelieving Judaism (System iv.,390). Victorinus, a bishop martyred in 303, reckoned the 1000 years from the birth of Christ.
Augustine wrote his magnum opus ‘the City of God’ with a sort of dim perception of the identity of the Christian Church with the new Jerusalem. Indeed we know that the 1000 years were held to be running by the generations previous to that date, and so intense was their faith that the universal Church was in a ferment of excitement about and shortly after 1000 A.D. in expectation of the outbreak of Satanic influence. Wickliff, the reformer, believed that Satan bad been unbound at the end of the 1000 years, and was intensely active in his day. That this period in Church history is past, or now runs its course, has been the belief of a roll of eminent men too long to be chronicled on our pages of Augustine, Luther, Bossuet, Cocceius, Grotius, Hammond, Hengstenberg, Keil, Moses Stuart, Philippi, Maurice.” (Alexander Brown, Great Day of the Lord, p. 216.)
The last person connected with Old Andover whom I shall describe is my father, Moses Stuart, who was professor of Greek and Hebrew at the Seminary for nearly forty years. His home life was only an incident in his scholarly career. Seven children, three boys and four girls, soon filled his commodious house. If we could have brought, each one of us, a trail of exegetical glory from heaven, we should doubtless have met a warmer welcome; but, after all, we found the kindest and most generous of fathers, — when he remembered us. We were there, we were to be cared for, to be loved, to be educated, to want nothing that he could provide, but not to interfere with the work to which he had been called, and, children or no children, must faithfully perform.
That we, on our part, should have felt any particular interest in this work could hardly have been expected; I doubt whether, until we had left our happy childhood behind us, we had much idea what it was. We saw books printed in types unknown to us crowding the study shelves and tables. We looked with awe upon the piles of manuscript written in the neat, characteristic handwriting of our father, wondering what they could all be about. It was the Bible, of course; but why the Bible? Did God need a new interpreter? If so, and our father had been chosen, was that the reason he was named Moses, the name borne by that other Moses who wrote the Ten Commandments on those wonderful tables of stone?
I think it must have come to us early that we were born to no common lot. Andover homes were, every one of them on that sacred Hill, withdrawn in a monastic seclusion from the rest of the world. Strict Puritan rules governed every household, and yet the young life obeyed the Must and Must Not of the regime. To us as a family this was most imperative; for our mother, wisest and kindest of all mothers, kept the fact constantly before us that our father was chosen and set apart from the rest of the world to do a great and important work.
His appearance has been well described by Oliver Wendell Holmes in his reminiscences of his school-days at Andover. He writes;
” Of the noted men of Andover the one whom I remember best was Professor Moses Stuart. His house was nearly opposite the one in which I resided, and I often met him and listened to him in the chapel of the Seminary. I have seen few more striking figures in my life than his, as I remember it. Tall, lean, with strong, bold features, a keen, scholarly, accipitrine nose, thin, expressive lips, great solemnity and impressiveness of voice and manner, he was my early model of a classic orator. His air was Roman, his neck long and bare like Cicero’s, and his toga–that
is his broadcloth cloak — was carried on his arm whatever might have been the weather, with such a statue-like, rigid grace that he might have been turned into marble as he stood, and looked noble by the side of the antiques of the Vatican.” [1a]
It is a difficult, almost a hopeless, task to sketch the character of one who, with delicate, poetical, literary tastes, yet gave his whole soul to dry, grammatical exegesis until he considered the interpretation of a word, even of a vowel, to contain a truth of the utmost importance to the welfare of the sin-ridden world. It was the whole-souled earnestness of his work, his strong belief in it and its importance, that made his daily life so scholarly and set apart.
This may be better understood through a simple and familiar record of his every-day home life during his long professional work at Andover. There is little to relate of anecdote or even of the usual experiences of a quiet New England town. From his study to the chapel of the Theological Seminary, back and forth, day after day, meeting no one, but in the silence and solitude through which he walked hearing and recognizing the song of every bird that caroled on the trees; noting the changes in the elms which he had loved ever since he had seen the tiny twig planted in the rough, new ground; watching through the brief summer days for the flowers that sometimes dotted his path; over-looking no slightest thing in earth or sky that God had given,–such was his life.
He brought into his daily life many of the habits acquired when he was a farmer’s boy. He felt that every moment passed in sleep, after the most rigorous demands of nature were satisfied, was lost time. In summer at four, and in winter at five, he was astir; and the occupations of the day began. In summer his garden was his delight. To this he went when Andover Hill was still wrapped in sleep. His trim beds, whether of flowers or of vegetables, were always in luxuriant order. To bring in the earliest flowers for the breakfast-table, to surprise his family with some fine home-grown fruit, gave him keen pleasure. That these results were not obtained without difficulty is plain from a reminiscence by one of his pupils.
” I well remember,” writes Dr. Wayland, ” that on one occasion he needed a little assistance in getting in his hay, and indicated to his class that he would be gratified if some of us would help him for an hour or two. There was, of course, a general turnout. The crop was a sorry one, and as I was raking near him, I intimated to him something of the kind. I shall never forget his reply: ‘ Bah! was there ever climate and soil like this! Manure the land as much as you will, it all leaches through this gravel, and very soon not a trace of it can be seen. If you plant early, everything is liable to be cut off by the late frosts of spring. If you plant late, your crop is destroyed by the early frosts of autumn. If you escape these, the burning sun of summer scorches your crop, and it perishes by heat and drought. If none of these evils overtake you, clouds of insects eat up your crop, and, what the caterpillar leaves the canker-worm devours.’ Spoken in his deliberate and solemn utterance, I could compare it to nothing but the maledictions of one of the old prophets.” [1b]
In winter he walked to the village, if possible, or around the square. When walking or working in the open air was absolutely impossible, he took refuge in his wood-house, accomplishing in a deft and rapid manner feats an Irishman might envy. The one thing that must be accomplished was to bring his exhausted nervous system into such a condition that he could do hard mental work and do it well. To this one great end he made the most every-day incidents subordinate, and amid pain and weakness and discouragement he accomplished his purpose.
His exercise taken, he was ready for his breakfast, and woe to any mischance by which it and the whole family were not ready for him. I have pictures in my memory of sleepy little children hurrying into their clothes, and rushing pell-mell down-stairs, when his step was heard on the graveled walk in front of the house. To be late at breakfast was an offense; to be absent was not allowable except in case of illness. Breakfast was often a silent meal. The hour was still early; in winter we ate by the light of tallow candles. The exercise had, not yet recuperated Mr. Stuart’s tired nervous system, and stillness acted beneficially with the smoking food.
Then followed family prayers. These often indicated the character of the previous night. Had it been quiet and restful, there were uttered bright and hopeful as well as devout words; but had there been sleeplessness, or the hardly less distressing visions of the night, nothing found voice but the most pathetic entreaties to his God for rest and solace, ” before being taken away to be seen here no more forever.” These moods generally passed with the ” Amen.” It was as if having told all to the divine Orderer of Events, sickness and death were no longer his care, and he had nothing more to do but take up his waiting work. From family prayers he went directly to his study.
To show how entirely the life of the whole family was affected by that of its scholarly head, I may say that almost every room in the house was known, at one time or another, by the name of ” the study.” The study of later years was a large upper chamber facing south. It was not a cheerful room: old brown paper of a stiff pattern covered the walls, and four yellow maps of Palestine hung where they could be most readily used. In one corner a small bookcase stood upon a chest of drawers. The case was full of well-worn volumes, bound in Russia leather, and the chest was stored with sermons, lectures, and other professional papers. A square study table, and a high desk beside a window were both methodically arranged with implements for writing and with books wanted daily, such as lexicons and Bibles in various tongues. Near by was a large fireplace, with a plain wooden mantelpiece, crowded with books. The other furniture of the room was plain and old-fashioned, nothing
being admitted except what was indispensable. Over the mantelpiece hung a silver watch which ticked for over fifty years, measuring off days, weeks, and months, rich in God’s work.
When the door of this room was shut, it was set apart from daily life as completely as if it had been transported to another world. Immediately every member of the household began to move about on tiptoe; and whatever words were spoken were uttered in subdued tones. From that moment until twelve, only a matter of the utmost importance made permissible a knock upon the study door. Visitors, no matter from what distance or of what social and literary standing, were all denied admittance. Business exigencies were ignored; and. any Seminary student who unluckily forgot the hours was sent away with a short if not a curt reply. When two old friends asked him to marry them, the hour for the ceremony being fixed for ten o’clock, he refused, saying, ” But that is in my study hours! ” Even the ordinary housekeeping sounds were made under protest. An unlucky fall, the slamming of a blind, a second summons from the hall door, – all were received with a warning thump from the study, or a pull at its bell. ” I cannot be disturbed “; no law of Medes or Persians was ever more absolute. The task of reducing a family so full of life to this state of orderly quiet must have seemed nearly impossible, but Mrs. Stuart succeeded in accomplishing it for many long years.
Out from this closed room came first the voice of prayer. Within, one felt, a sensitive soul was wrestling with its God. Rising and swelling, broken often with emotion, his voice had a pleading, wailing cadence, touching to listen to, tender to recall. Then followed the intoning of passages from the Hebrew Psalms; and here the heart, mellowed and comforted by near intercourse with the Hebrews’ God, found full utterance. Into every room of that still house the jubilant words came ringing with their solemn joy. Then came several hours of intense intellectual labor. In the following note, sent during such a period of study to the student who was for the time the librarian at the Seminary, one can see beneath the punctilious politeness of the request the student’s utter preoccupation with his work, and his intolerance of finding his ” way blocked up,” even for a time.
MY DEAR SIR, – Unexpectedly I have come upon an exigency, this morning, wh. renders an appeal to the Coran necessary. Will you do me the kindness to send me the II Vol. of Maraccius, wh. has the Arab. text, with the Versions and Notes, (for I want both these), if I rightly remember. Should it not be so, you may send the copy of Sale’s Coran therewith.
I am sorry to trouble you; but I must find my way blocked up, unless I can make the appeal in question.
Another librarian, later the Rev. John Todd, D.D., reports:
” The rapidity with which he examined books was wonderful. The whole library was his lexicon. Being librarian during my senior year, I had occasion to marvel over, as well as to handle, the whole wheelbarrow loads he would send back on the close of every term. He took out, I think, more books than all the rest of the Seminary.”
It was always high holiday for his family when there arrived in one of the slow sailing-vessels a package of books bearing a foreign mark. For weeks, perhaps, it had been anxiously looked for. Every morning the small gilt vane on the Seminary chapel had been inspected to see whether the wind was favorable for the coming ship; every evening the last ray of daylight was used for the same purpose; and never did an adverse wind howl more loudly around our house, or a storm seem more pitiless, than when it delayed the coming of the much coveted treasures.
It would have been a study for an artist, – the face of my father, when, the books at last his, the whole family was called together to see and admire them. His eyes, usually a little dull, seemed to flash with delight. His lips, always his most expressive feature, quivered with emotion. The arrival of the books was to him like the coming of much beloved, much longed-for friends, with whom he looked forward to spending hours of delightful and congenial companionship.
Precisely as the college clock struck twelve there came an energetic pushing back of chair and footstool, and the whole family drew a long breath of relief. Morning study hours were over, and we were once more free!
Coming out of his room, always with a pale, weary face, the professor went without delay to his exercise again; seeking the garden, the grounds, the wood-pile, or the walk, as the season or the weather made most desirable. Then home just in time for the half-past-twelve dinner, which, like the breakfast, must always be on the table at the appointed moment, with the family in instant readiness to partake. As he was a thorough dyspeptic, the matter of food was of the greatest importance to him. He was not dainty, but he required and provided the very best the market afforded; and it was curious to notice how even the tones and words of the blessing he invoked were affected by what was spread before him. Good, nourishing food braced the spent nervous system, and gave tone and elasticity to the exhausted vitality, and consequent sunny views of life and its occupations.
After dinner came the social hour of the day. If we had any plans to make, any requests to proffer, now was the moment. Indeed, this was the only time when home and its needs seemed to have any place in the professor’s thoughts. Then a newspaper, a review, or some book not connected with his studies, was in his hand, but he was ready to put it down if any other object of interest presented itself. If not, the reading continued until his lecture, which was delivered in the afternoon, and occupied about an hour, or sometimes two. This duty over, came the exercise again, the early tea, and family prayers; and evening was entered upon at the first approach of twilight. Every new lamp that promised assistance was purchased as fast as invented, the scholar, with his enthusiasm for the new and convenient, considering every one, for a time, better than its predecessor.
Study was never severe during these evening hours. Now he was willing to be interrupted, and often hailed as a godsend the visit of an agreeable acquaintance. Eminently social in his literary labors, he found in nothing greater pleasure than in discussing with one of congenial tastes the work upon which he was for the time engaged; and if he absorbed the lion’s share of the conversation, his listener was never wearied, and seldom failed to go away a wiser and a better man. With a friend in whose companionship he took especial pleasure, he read Greek plays in the evening for several winters, showing all the enthusiasm of a young man, and the critical acumen of a ripe scholar.
This until nine o’clock; but the moment the hands of the old mahogany clock pointed to that hour, night with the time for needed rest had come. After nine no guest lingered who understood the regime of this student’s life.
We children would as soon have been expected to get up a dance or a card-party as to be from home or out of our beds when that hour had come. Many hairbreadth escapes we had from detection, many frights, and many awkward contretemps. Gentlemen callers from the Seminary, ignorant of the nine o’clock rule, or for some unexplainable reason unmindful of the lateness of the hour, have been timidly but urgently requested by one or another of the four daughters of the house to leave cautiously by the side door. In the main, however, the law was another of the Medes and Persians, and kept as inviolable as it could have been kept by seven young people full of occupations and amusements. Dogs and cats, window-blinds, gates, everything imaginable or unimaginable, were now under the ban of stillness. It was not a common stillness that was required; but the only stillness considered such by a man whose sleep was that of a diseased nervous system and an overtaxed brain. Often during the wakeful hours which drew their slow length along, there came from the professor’s room the same wailing prayer which had ushered in his day of work; and often he might have been met gliding around the house, seeking for rest but finding none.
When he had grown old and feeble, it was a great delight to him to have one of the young students at the Seminary come in to read to him; and the hour was often forgotten in the interest of the book. Light literature, for the first time in his life, he then indulged in freely. He would often say to his daughters when they were reading to him, ” You see the good of keeping this till you are old; it is a tonic to me now.” It was not an unusual thing for him to come quietly into the room where these books were kept, possess himself of the novel, his interest in which could not be postponed, and inform us of the denouement at the tea-table.
That the trend of his studies did not narrow his mind, or the quiet Andover life dull his sympathies toward all the great onward movements of the world, is a matter of surprise; but to the last of his busy life no one saw more quickly or enjoyed more keenly the promise of a wonderful future. Vividly comes the memory of a lovely Sunday morning when, as usual, we children, decorous in Sunday garb, surrounded him on the way to church. His Saturday night weekly newspaper had contained an account of a telescopic discovery in the moon. It was not his custom to allow a weekly paper to be read on the Sabbath ; but certain it is that on that morning he had seen the paper, had read the account of the discovery, and was too full of the story to reserve it for the profane Monday so far away. His pale face alight with his interest, looking from one to another of us, he explained rapidly what had been discovered. We listened enthusiastically, while the solemn bell of the chapel tolled unheeded reproofs. When the first steam-engine drew its train of cars through the pleasant meadows that, stretching back of his house, bordered the Shawsheen River, we were at the dinner-table. He started from his seat, and clasping his hands as if in prayer, said fervently, “Thank God! thank God I”
He seemed sometimes to put aside his usual calm judgment, and to enjoy an improbability with particular enthusiasm. It seems almost hard to think how much he lost by dying before electricity, photography, the Atlantic cable, the telephone. X-rays, and all the other modern marvels had been discovered and invented; but perhaps in that other life he pities us, that in our ignorance we should pity him.
Such days stretched out into years with little of change, and such years into half a century of work. Time mellowed the life, smoothing the rougher edges, and ripening and perfecting the Christian scholar. We children grew from childhood to maturity, and one after another dropped out from the still, monastic life of Andover Hill into the great working world. Often, however, we carried back into the seclusion of our old home the interests of our new lives, to gladden the failing days of our father. In him we always found the same enthusiasm for the new, and the same hopeful plans for fresh work yet to be accomplished. But the scholar’s task was not to be finished here. In the howling of a fierce winter storm he listened to the summons, ” Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
[1a] ” Pages from an Old Volume of Life,” p. 149. Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1891.
[1b] ” Semi-Centennial Celebration,” p. 158. Andover, 1859.
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Date:05 Mar 2005Time:11:00:08
great commentator wish he was alive today. like to get his books e-mail is snookman2000@hot mail.com