Home » Mourning Literature & Custom » The Death of the Good. By Rev. R. L. Carpenter

The Death of the Good. By Rev. R. L. Carpenter

I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog. 

There was a Reverend R. L. Carpenter who was the Minister at Northgate-End Unitarian Chapel in Halifax (UK) from 1856 – 1864, perhaps this is the same man who authored this prose? His full name was Russell Lant Carpenter and he was born in 1816 and died in 1892. As a Unitarian he would not have believed Jesus was God, but was a prophet whose life was a model for mankind to follow. Logic, reason, science, and philosophy were all subjects of great interest for a Unitarian, essential to achieve a life and good, and not in conflict with a belief in God. Very interestingly, Rev. R.L. Carpenter is mentioned in an autobiography of the remarkable American man Mr Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery to become a leading figure of the 19th Century. Mr Douglass was in Ireland and Britain from 1845 – 1847.

The Death of the Good
HAD Jesus remained on earth, the minds of the apostles would not have been directed heavenwards ; and so it may be with us. The presence of those who are endeared to us by the possession of every Christian grace, may only fix our hearts more strongly on this passing scene. True, they may first have taught us to love virtue. Their hallowed tones may first have carried to our hearts the conviction of a God and a Providence. Their bright examples may have shown us the possibility of excellence. Their firm constancy to duty may have convinced us that the just are strong. their gentle cheerfulness may have led us to see that piety is not austerity ; that the ways of wisdom are the ways of pleasantness, and that its paths are peace. Their teachings may have preserved us in integrity ; or, if we have departed from it, their solemn warnings may have awakened us from our dream ; or their winning virtures may have invited us back from pleasures which were too unsubstantial to last, and which were already bringing forth their harvest of corruption ! What a blessing are holy friends and kindred ! With what earnestness should we utter our thanksggivings at the trhone of grace, that their path and ours have lain side by side ; that they have ministered to us of their spiritual gifts, and led us heavenward ! We know that it is well for those who have fascinated us, and gained our hearts, to be removed, if they walk not aright with God ; for they were taking our thoughts from him to whom they they should be given. But is this the case with the good ? Yes; it is expedient that they should go away ! Where is our virtue, if it depended upon them ? Where is our wisdom, if always we applied to them for advice ? Where is our constancy, if it ws they who kept us, and not we ourselves, in the right path? Every man must bear his own burden. They taught us how to carry it ; — it was well. They soothed us under its pressure ; — let us thank God that it was so.

2 thoughts on “The Death of the Good. By Rev. R. L. Carpenter

  1. Yes, it’s the one and the same R L Carpenter. Russell Lant Carpenter was a remarkable man who deserves to be better known. As well as being a notable Unitarian Christina, he was a fearless opponent of slavery (yet one who took the trouble to visit slave-owners and listen to their views), a supporter of women’s suffrage and property rights, against Britain’s imperial adventures, and more.

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