Obituary for Albert Barnes (980 words)
Rev. Albert Barnes, the distinguished divine and author of Philadelphia, died suddenly on Saturday afternoon, in the seventy-second year of his age. The Age says that he left his residence, No. 4, 402 Walnut-street, about 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon, on a visit of condolence to the family of Mr. Reed, in the Twenty-seventh Ward The distance was over a mile, and he was accompanied by his daughter. He was apparently in excellent health when leaving home, but, on the way, he experienced considerable difficulty in breathing, and was obliged to stop to recover himself. The indisposition soon passed off, and, continuing on, he reached the residence at about 4 o’clock. Mr. Reed was buried only recently, and Rev. Mr. Barnes had taken a great interest in his family, and the visit was one of condolence with the bereaved ones. On entering the parlor Mr. Barnes seated himself to await the presence of some of the household. He again experienced a difficulty in breathing, and his daughter, noticing the fact, inquired if she could in any way give him relief. The father made no response, and, throwing his head back on the chair, expired in a few minutes, passing away apparently without any pain whatever. The blow was a severe one to the daughter, as also to the occupants of the house.
From the North American we quote the following brief sketch of Mr. Barnes’ life: In the long of catalogue of able and learned clergymen whom Philadelphia has had in her pulpits, and who have influenced their respective denominations and the direction of the religious progress for many years, it is questionable whether the Presbyterians have had any one who was more widely known and extensively influential than ALBERT BARNES. He was not an attractive or an impressive preacher. He never cultivated the graces of oratory; and his effects were, therefore, won by clearness of statement, force of logic, and, above all, by a sincere belief in the truth of his argument, rather than by any of those pulpit pyrotechnics that dazzle for an instant and die into a greater darkness.
Mr. Barnes was a native of Rome, New-York, and was born in 1798. He studied three years at Fairfield, Connecticut; entered Hamilton College as a Senior, and was graduated in 1820. Religious convictions led him to desert his intended study of law for theology, and he was graduated in this at Princeton, and licensed by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown, New Jersey at Lawrenceville, April, 1823. He took charge of the Presbyterian Church at Morristown, New Jersey, after having preached at other places in that state and New-England. After four years’ service there he received a call from the First Presbyterian Church in this City, Seventh and Locus streets, and was installed June 25, 1830. After nearly forty years’ service here, increasing blindness and the weight of years led him, two years ago, to surrender the pastorate and its active duties to a coadjutor, though we believe that his personal relations to it, as pastor emeritus, were never closed. His study was in the church building, and for years, in all seasons of the year, and in every vicissitude of the weather, he was there before the sun, and there, with his commentaries, histories and concordances, spent the greater part of his time. He was not given to calling or receiving calls. He left society chiefly to itself; from no distaste for its pleasures, nor not from any disinclination to genial companionship, but because early in life he planned that great work he was enabled to complete--Notes on the Whole Bible—and this, demanding familiarity with many languages and a vast amount of study and reference, left him little time for the secondary duties of a minister, and none whatever for individual relaxation and pleasures.
This work, as is recorded in the brief summary with which very recently Mr. Barnes completed his task and bade farewell to his labors, not without a certain touching reference to the early probability of the event we record, was planned or commenced in Morristown. The early design contemplated a commentary on the Gospels for use in Sunday-schools. This swelled to the greater dimensions subsequently assumed when Rev. J.H. Alexander surrendered a similar work that he was engaged upon for the American Sunday-school Union to Mr. Barnes. The notes began with the New Testament, and covered the whole Scriptures. The great merits of the annotations are that they reject hypothesis more than most; present full topographical and historical elucidations; give the substance of others’ conclusions in brief, and reference to them, while stating simply and fairly the author’s convictions. These accord on all substantial issues with the rubric of the Presbyterians. But Mr. Barnes was not a zealot, and nowhere in his commentaries does he insist on the absolute importance of merely sectarian ideas. His views had a broad horizon, without deviating an iota from the platform of the most rigid of his denomination in fundamental issues.
In addition to his commentaries, that passed through many editions in this country and remain a standard for several denominations, and have been republished, approved and employed in Great Britain, and are referred to as embodying authority wherever orthodox doctrine is debated, Mr. Barnes published a volume on which he collected Scriptural opinions in which he collected Scriptural opinions on slavery, a manual of prayers, family prayers, revival sermons, the relations of the Church to slavery, the atonement, essays and reviews, &c. He had great theology erudition, but mastered it and was not mastered by it. His style was simple, his industry great, his honesty beyond question, and his memory will long be cherished in all the churches as pure, bright and venerated as that of the foremost divines. The cause of Mr. Barnes’ death was heart disease.
Reference: "Obituary: Sudden Death of Rev. Albert Barnes." New York Times (1857-1922), Dec 27, 1870, 5.
Obituary for Charles Finney (139 words)
Charles G. Finney, D.D., ex-President of Oberlin College, died at Oberlin, Ohio, of heart disease, yesterday. Mr. Finney’s chief distinction was gamed by his labors as an evangelist years ago. He was born in Warren, Conn., Aug. 29, 1792, thus being eighty-three years old at the time of his death. He studied law in Jefferson County, N.Y., but felt himself called rather to preaching than to law. He began his remarkable career as an Evangelist in 1824, and met everywhere with notable success. He was the Moody of his day, and great revivals followed his efforts. He became a Professor at Oberlin in 1835, and was also Pastor of the First Congregational Church there. In 1848 he went to England, and on his return, in 1852, he accepted the Presidency of Oberlin College, which position he held til 1866.
Reference: “Charles G. Finney." New York Times (1857-1922), Aug 17, 1875, 4.
In Charles Finney's obituary in 1875, the New York Times characterized him as “the Moody of his day, and great revivals followed his efforts.” Barnes, on the other hand, “was not an attractive or an impressive preacher,” according to his 1870 obituary in the New York Times. His impact was achieved by clear, forceful, and honest argument, “rather than by any of those pulpit pyrotechnics that dazzle for an instant and die into a greater darkness.” It is an interesting contrast to view these historical legacies side-by-side. Barnes’ legacy was his complete and extensive commentary on the entire Bible, entitled Notes on the Whole Bible, which marked him along with the “foremost divines” as a master of theology. Finney’s was in his preaching and New Measures of revivalism. Finney’s obituary runs just 139 words in the New York Times, but surprisingly, Barnes obituary runs seven times that at 980 words. Clearly, a century and a half removed, the modern historical evaluations of the legacies of these two men are skewed towards Finney; whereas, in the 1870s, Barnes received far more attention.
 "Charles G. Finney," New York Times (1857-1922), Aug 17, 1875, 4.
 "Obituary: Sudden Death of Rev. Albert Barnes," New York Times (1857-1922), Dec 27, 1870. 5.
 For an easily accessible historical reference, Appendix A contains Barnes’ obituary and Appendix B contains Finney’s.
Hi! I am Kent. I love history and church history. While this website is especially dedicated to Assemblies of God history, I publish a lot of church history on this blog!