Testimonials to the Rev. Justin Edwards, D.D
On the offer of the resolutions in the Convention to the memory of Dr. Edwards, Christian Keener, of Maryland, arose to offer a few remarks:
"He had never been more sensibly affected on any occasion than he had when hearing the name of Dr. Edwards mentioned in this connection, and I know, said he, that no word that I can utter can do strict justice to the memory of a man so worthy. It was, indeed, in some measure the circumstances of his appearance in Maryland that enlisted my heart so fully in this cause. I would not detail all the circumstances--for they are numerous and peculiar; but it was but a short time after my attention was first drawn to the Temperance cause that Dr. Edwards came to Baltimore. I heard him there, and the words he used became riveted upon my heart, and induced me to enter into this glorious cause, ever since which I have been in it a humble laborer. In all the subsequent productions of that worthy man the same wisdom was evident. I have been associated with him on occasions similar to this. I had the honor of being with him on the Business Committee in the first Convention that was called--in 1833--in Philadelphia, and which was held in the Hall of American Independence. I witnessed there the whole progress of that Convention. There, and in subsequent Conventions where I was with him, whenever the audience brought forth adverse thoughts and views, whenever feelings were troubled or great contrariety of sentiments were evident, a word or two from his clear mind was like oil upon the troubled waters. I know I can say nothing adequate to his worth, but I do know that the memory of that man will live while ages last. Generations yet unborn will rise and call him blessed, and the beatified benediction
[p. 55]which is found in the words of Holy Writ, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord--they rest from their labors, and their works shall follow them,' shall in time and eternity apply to his labors."
Dr. Kennedy, of New York, arose and addressed the Convention.
"I cannot forego the opportunity which now offers to accord with the sentiments contained in the resolutions. We look around us and see the formidable obstacles still existing in our way, and which the venerable gentleman who has just spoken remembers, as many others do, when we put our hearts to the work. At that time I was in the State of Delaware, whither I had gone with a young heart devoted to this cause; but the suspicions of almost the entire nation were upon our movement lest it should disturb the public, and in some degree involve the churches in that which was of a political character. Indeed, in an effort to get up a temperance meeting, I had to send as far as Middletown, in Connecticut to get an advocate to come and address us. To this effort I was impelled, by a conversation with the man whose loss we now deplore, and whose spiritual labors we were so wont to admire. In my own house he encouraged me, and when he told me of the successful movement in Baltimore, where Christian Keener held his banner, my heart and soul became devoted to the work. We held the meeting, and from that day, in the little State of Delaware, the cause has prospered. There were friends of Temperance there before, but too many in the churches stood aloof; and I say now that the spirit which has animated me since then, when I endeavored, in all forbearance, and amid conflicting circumstances, to persevere in the right, is in no small degree attributable to the teachings of that good man. With these remarks, in respect to his memory, I hope the resolution will pass."
The President, pro tem., Gen. Cary, spoke as follows:
"I desire to say, as chairman of this Convention, that the name mentioned in the resolutions is a dear one to me. I learned my first temperance lessons from Justin Edwards, twenty years ago in his meetings. His virtues are recorded in the living tablets of my heart. Posterity will honor him; succeeding generations will sigh over his ashes, and the children of the future will drop tears of gratitude and plant perennial flowers over his tomb."
Mr. Cassell, of England, stated that among the many American productions in favor of the Temperance Reform, which were circulated in England, there were the productions of the pen of Dr. Edwards. His name and sentiments were well known there, and were highly appreciated, and in conclusion, he stated that his remarks could be regarded as an indication of the sentiments of all the Temperance Reformers in Great Britain.