|Birth: ||Aug. 6, 1825|
New Jersey, USA
|Death: ||Dec. 12, 1863|
Installed as Minister of the Universalist Church, Stoughton, Mass. May 26, 1854. He married Fannie E. Mussey (1826-1902).
Rev. James Woodruff Dennis died in Stoughton, Mass., December 11, 1863. He was born in Morristown, New Jersey, August 6, 1825.
Early in life he was thoughtful, especially on religious themes. Accidentally hearing a sermon from Rev. T. J. Sawyer, his mind was so favorably and strongly impressed that his thoughts were at once directed to the faith of which he was to become a bright and exemplary teacher.
His first settlement was in New London, Conn., where he labored with the Universalist society for five years. From thence he moved to Stoughton, where, after a ministry of about ten years, he died.
He had long been afflicted with a painful and fatal disease, preventing him from performing any part in his pulpit ministrations for nearly two years; had become so much reduced in strength as to be confined to his room for several weeks before his decease; and it was evident to all who saw him from day to day that his end was rapidly approaching.
His cheerful and clear-sighted faith in the providence of God, and in the blessed estate which was awaiting him on the other shore, has been often remarked by those who have enjoyed the privilege of conversation with him.
The faith which led him to repeat the apostle's exclamation, "To die is gain," with such emphasis did not desert him in his last hours. On being questioned by one of his attendants, at a moment of his severest suffering, how he felt with regard to the faith he bad preached, he replied, with all the stress of voice and force of gesture he could command, "It must be true, it must be true, I FEEL that it must he true!" and to those around him who, in their despondency and sorrow, were half inclined to disparage the evidences upon which his faith was built, he would reply, with much warmth, that he could not conceive it possible for those evidences to be regarded lightly, since, to his own mind, they carried such clear conviction, and were so full of comfort and help.
In regard to the last months of his life, his wife writes, "There was such a patient endurance of suffering through all, such a triumphant faith, that seemed not faith, but knowledge, such a perfect readiness for whatever his heavenly Father might send, that it all seems blended in my mind as a sort of peaceful dream." Thus was added another bright example to the long roll of faithful Christian witnesses, who have died with the last words of the divine Master in their hearts and on their lips: "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it."
His affection for the people to whom he had given the best years of his life was also manifested to the last. One of his final requests was to be buried by their hands, in the beautiful cemetery which his own words had helped to consecrate, as their pastor and he gave minute directions in regard to all the detai1s of the funeral ceremonies.
"It was an affecting sight," writes one, speaking of the funeral obsequies, "and a sure testimony of the profound esteem in which he was held by all who knew him. There were little children, for whom he always had a smile and a kind word, shedding their tears like rain. There were weak women, in whose homes at times of great affliction and trial his presence had been felt like a powerful charm, who seemed to feel their hearts bursting with grief as they looked upon the face of the dead. There were strong men, who had tried to emulate his pure life, who were bowed with agony, and made weak as babes standing by the casket of one whom they loved and honored. Old men, too, with thin and shining locks, wore a look of ineffable sadness, as they bade farewell to him who had been so firm a friend and help to them in their declining years. I shall never forget the appearance of one old patriarch, who approached the coffin with tottering steps, laid his hand upon the head of the deceased, and then, placing it upon his own forehead, turned away with an expression of the deepest sadness, as though he had lost a treasure that could never be replaced in this world. I saw him again at the cemetery, standing at the door of the sepulchre, with eyes suffused, his gray hairs fluttering in the wind, and his uncovered head bowed in the attitude of prayer.
Created by: David Allen Lambert
Record added: Aug 20, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6702417