The New Zealand Evangelist
Biographical Notice — The Rev. Daniel Gunn. Congregationalist Minister, of Christ-Church, Hampshire.
The Rev. Daniel Gunn. Congregationalist Minister, of Christ-Church, Hampshire.
The following Notice, it is hoped, will be interesting to a number of our readers:—
The funeral of this truly excellent man, took place at Christchurch, on Friday, the 23rd ult. Within the recollection of its inhabitants, no event ever produced such deep and painful interest. The Deacons of his Church led the melancholy procession, succeeded by an immense number of Sunday-school children (700) walking by fours with their monitors and teachers. The hearse and mourning coaches, with the usual attendants, followed and and after them a long and sorrowful train of members o his Church and of friends from neighbouring congregations. Many ministers of the county were in the mourning coaches; six of whom held the pall over his remains, as they were borne to the tomb.
The procession, as it passed along, was surrounded by a crowd of sympathyzing spectators; together, filling the streets for nearly a quarter of a mile in length. The shops were closed, and the blinds of private houses drawn through the whole line traversed, all sects joining in this testimony of respect. Well might they do so, for he has been indeed the regenerator of Christchurch. Before his coming, there was no public Day-school and one Sunday school only, in this extensive parish. Many could not read; comparatively few could write. The wealthy opposed education on the page 50 ground that it would produce discontent; and the poor, by their apathy, appeared to conclude that ignorance was bliss. His earnest, constant, laborious exertions, maintained, without relaxation, through a space of nearly thirty-three years, have conferred a blessing on his neighbourhood, the memory of which can die only with the last of his people here, while the effects must appear in many a succeeding generation.
Among the few older christians who remain, there is still a vivid recollection of the little band with whom they met in a small and thinly occupied chapel, praying (not “without faintness” at the long delay) that their Lord would appear for his Zion. They recal, as an event of but yesterday, the hope and gladness, increasing week by week, which their lamented teacher gave rise to.— Their minds are filled with loveliest pictures; the people crowding their little building every time its doors were opened, and from nine of the Sabbath morning till nine in the evening one happy service succeeding another;—the week-day village worship, when the barn and cottage room were filled to overflowing;—the affectionate zeal with which the various enlargements of their temple were undertaken and accomplished, and chapels, one after another, were planted in the different hamlets around;—the contributions of all who had aught to give, the silver and pence of the children and the poor, and the labour of those who had no money, and, above all, the fire of holy love and joy which consecrated the opening days of each;—these are scenes nothing earthly can obliterate. Nor are those less dear connected with the Sabbath school. The throngs of children trudging in and joining it on the Sabbath morning, from their country homes, three, four, and five miles distant, in summer and winter, through heat, and cold, and rain; the attachment which held them to it, in many instances, as was afterwards found, in loving disobedience to the wishes of their parents; and the reward of that attachment, as many a little one drew his half-reluctant father or mother to the house of God, and ultimately, was the means of collecting there all his home circle; the testimony in death which so many have given, and the numbers who have been added to the Church, are now pillars in his earthly temple,—there are daily causing the aged disciple to exclaim, “What hath God wrought?”
It is greatly to be regretted that the primary importance of the religious instruction of the young in connection with the Churches is not more generally perceived. The agriculturist would be thought most unwise who enplowed his chief energies on the heath, and the rock, and the sand, to the comparative neglect of the rich virgin soil; and yet in religion how often is this the case! The faithful minister who “would gladly spend and be spent” in his Master's service, labours, Sabbath after Sabath, on hearts rendered by the world's employments and associations barren of good, and filled with noisome weeds. Often he “toils at most in vain,” and has to cry at the end of the day, “Lord who hath believed our report.” And if his ministry is more than commonly blessed, he but obtains in page 51 many cases, the short remains of a life, during which a perpetual struggle must be maintained against the thraldom of cares, prejudices, and vices. The same amount of effort expended on the young might have won numbers of their tenderer hearts for the Saviour, ready to be moulded by the pastor for the various purposes of the Gospel, whether to diffuse his instructions and plans among the generation to which they belong, or to transmit them to that which will succeed it.
The Rev. Dr. Bennett, of London, most impressively performed the funeral service. In the evening solemn addresses were given by the Revs. G. Harris, of Ringwood; G. Jones, of Portsmouth; and Pearsal, of Andover. On the succeeding Sabbath, Dr. Bennett riveted the attention of crowded congregations to two most powerful discourses on the solemn event.