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'i^2^c^^>-z^ , ^^p/
A SKETCH OF THE LIFE
Edward Abiel Stevens d. d,
»^ •»• .i
PRINTED FOR PRIVATE DISTRIBUTION
HARVARD DIVTMl'Y SOBOOL
iVfre. Hoary W.Footo,
iO Maj^, 1890
PRINTED AT THE AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSION PRESS.
F. D. PHINNEY, SUPT.
THE writer was requested by the Editor of " The Indo-Burma
Evangelist," to prepare a brief memoir of the late Dr. Stevens.
The work grew into the following narrative, from which selections have
been made for the columns of that excellent periodical.
It is with much diffidence that the task, even in this simple form, has
been attempted. The writer feels the inadequateness of his effort. To
quote the words of one, who was for many years associated with
Dr. Stevens in missionary work, —
" No pen can set forth the beauty, the sweetness, the aroma, of his
pure, true, gentle spirit, coupled with his great firmness and strength
of purpose, a life so noble, so long, and so uniform in its high moral
tone, so crowded with wise and unselfish work, so replete with all
Christian graces, and so rich in culture, and in human virtue."
D. A. W. S.
EDWARD ABIEL STEVENS.
N a tomb in the old cemetery on the Isle of Shoals, New
Hampshire, U. S. A. is found the following inscription : —
$n tbe Aemons of tbe
REV. J09IAH STEPHENS.
A rAITHFUl. IN8TJIUCTOR Or YOUTH
And Pious Minister of Jebus Ckaist.
supported on this island
By The Society For Propaqatinq The Qospel.
WHO DIED JULY 2. 1804, AGED 64 YEARS.
MRS. SUSANNAH STEPHENS,
-HtS BELOVED WIPE, WHO DIED
^ DEC. 7. 1810. AGED 54 YEARS.
Oliver, the second son of tdiis missionary on the Isle of Shoals,
was the father of the subject of this sketch. Going to one of the
Southern states to look after the property of a brother, who had
been lost at sea on a voyage between New Ycwk and Savannah,
he became acquainted with Miss Eliza Sumner Winn, whose
father having on one occasion, with the we!l-known southern
hospitality, entertained a Baptist minister on his travels, was, for
this service, rewarded by a suggestion thatt the Bible should be
searched tor proof-texts to support the distinctive tenets of Pedo-
baptists. To his great surprise and disaf)pointment, after repeated
and thorough research, he could not find that for which he
sought, and fidelity to his convictions compelled him to become
The daughter, up to the time of her marriage with Mr. Oliver
Stevens, and for several years afterwards, remained a Presbyterian.
Tbe action of her honored parents could not, however, be without
its influence upon her peace of mind, and her prayer for
time was, " Oh God, i( the Presbyterians are right, let me ,
come a Baptist" It was not until afler the birth in Su
Liberty County, Geor^^a, January 23rd 1814, of Edward
that her views became settled. Soon after the christen
this, her fifth child, she, with her husband, from the sheer
of conviction, joined the Baptists. Not long thereafter cai
the United States the startling intelligence of the chan^
views of the Rev. Adoniram Judson ^nd wife, and of their 1
pation of Burma, as a mission field. His appeal to the Baj
of America to undertake the mission thus providentially thi
upon them, supported, as it was, by the persuasive eloquent
Rev. Lutfier Rice, whose views had undergone a similar cha
during his passage to India as a missionary in a different i
produced a most profound impression throughout the er
Mrs. Stevens, as her answer to the appeal, called in
pastor, and requested him, on the behalf of herself and h
band, to offer their baby boy to God, for His gracious acce
ance, for the Burman Mission. Of this incident, Dr. Stevens h
for the first time informed, when on a visit to the South in t
Winter of 1875-76. Writing in his journal soon after the da
of that visit, he says : — " This fact, as related by this lady, wi
new to me, although I had learned from both father and mothe
that in my infancy, they had expressed a willingness, if Go
should call me, to give me up to that service. And it explain
to my mind, why, at an early age, my interest was enlisted ii
that enterprise, resulting in my devotion to it, while, in a fami'lj
of nine brothers and sisters who attained to maturity, no othei
one evinced any special interest in the work. I regard the fact
as a marked illustration of the efficacy of prayer, and the accept-
ance by God, as in the case of Samuel, of special dedication to
specific services in the church. Nor can it be said that the effect
^^^' respect from that of the others; and when I actually proposed
;^'- to become a missionary, my parents evinced no joy from the
'^^ fact, although they dared not, as they said, make any opposition
*^ to the proposal, for they remembered the word spoken when I
'^'f was a child. I am satisfied, in vieAv of my early exercises on the
^f* subject, that the Spirit of God wrought in me to prepare me for
^^' the work, and to ensure my entering upon it Other parents,
'?£ we know, have done the same thing with the same result."
occ. In 1827, at the early age of thirteen, Edward experienced, as
& he believed at the time, the saving change, and was baptized into
m the membership of the Baptist Church at Sunbury, in November
:ec of the same year. During his first year in Brown University, Pro-
nf: vidence, R. I., he received new and clear views of justification by
it faith, which made him doubt the reality of his conversion at the
:: earlier period. From these clearer views of justification, it might
be literally said, he had peace like a river, which flowed undis-
]f turbed, through life. In 1828, the year after his baptism, he was
li sent to the North, to the home of his mother's sister, wife of
i! Dr. H. J. Ripley of Newton, Massachusetts, under whose care
b he fitted for college. He graduated from Brown University in
the class of 1833, and from Newton Theological Institution in
1836. On June 27th of the same year, he was accepted by the
Baptist Triennial Convention, (now American Baptist Mission-
ary Union), as a missionary to Burma, and in that connection, so
happy to him, he lived but one week less than half a century.
He spent the following year in his native State, going about
among the churches to stir up in them a deeper interest in the
great work of foreign missions. On the 5 th of October, 1837,
he was married to Elizabeth Lincoln, daughter of Calvin Haven
a Boston merchant, and a member of Federal, now Clarendon
Street Church. Miss Haven was also a niece of Heman Lincoln
long the honorary treasurer of the A. B. M. Union.
On the 28th of the same month, with Rev. Messrs. Stilson and
Brayton, and their wives, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens sailed in
the little barque Rosabella^ Captain Green, for Maulmain. The
year before, this same barque had brought to India
party of six. Imagine the shock to this party of
ceeding year to learn, on their arrival, that one-half of
ceding company were already numbered among the dea<
prospect of laying down their lives at an early ag^e In the
climate, as it was then reputed, of Burma, was familiar to
but to be greeted with such a report, the sadness of whi
intensified by the intelligence of the death of three oth<
sionaries, altogether six, whose names were Camih'ar, ar
report of whose decease had not readied America on
departure, sent a chill to the hearts of that youthful com
How different, however, for themselves, was the result,
what tiieir most sanguine thought could have antidpated ; fi
that party of six, with the exception of Mrs. Stilson, who
thirteen years afterwards, in 185 1, all lived up to the pre
year, when Mr. Stilson died in March, and now, Dr. S-^even
June. Instead of one-half of the party passing away in a su
year, one-half still remain at the end of nearly fifty 3fears I
Mr. Stevens was appdnted to the Burmese department of \
Mission in Maulmain, and with special reference to the Theolc
ical School, which had been commenced in Tavoy in 1836, a
which was about to be transferred to Maulmain. Dr. Judsc
then twenty-four years in Burma without a return to his nalii
land, was in charge of tlie Burmese Church, and Mr. Ingalls (
the English Church. Mr. Stevens, while learning the lapjud:j<
assumed charge of the English Church, and from that time, wiJ
occasional intervals, until finally relieved by Rev. L J. Dench
field of the care of the English Baptist Church in 1882, he gave
a portion of his time to the Engli^ speaking communities, first
of Maulmain, and afterwards of Rangoon.
After being engaged a few years in the instruction of Bur-
mese candidates for the ministry, he became convinced that the
time was not yet ripe for such an institution, the majority of
those who gave evidence of a call to the mintstiy, bdng^ elderly
men with families looking to them for support, who would find
" it impracticable to enter upon a systematic course of instruction.
i These, however, it was his habit, as it has been of nearly all the
! Burman missionaries, to gather into classes for Bible study, dur-
ix\g the rainy season months, when itinerating among the hea-
i then is made impossible by the continual rain.
if After his return to Burma, in 1876, nearly forty years later, a
most hopeful beginning of what Dr. Stevens designed should
grow into a Burmese Theological Seminary was made, for the
support of which funds placed at his disposal by a friend, were
: available ; and not a few Burmese preachers and pastors from
c different stations in Burma, refer gratefully to the benefit received
from successive seasons spent in systematic study with Dr.
During this first period of his foreign mission work, the pasto-
ral care of the Pgho Karen Church in Dongyan fell upon him
for the space of five or six years. His visits to this church could
be only occasional, but it was his custom to remain a small por-
tion of each year with them. He became deeply interested in the
work among the Karens, and it was his privilege to baptize a
large number in connection with the Dongyan Church. He par-
tially acquired the language and was, at one time, very strongly
urged by some of his brethren, to transfer himself to the Karen
During the absence of Dr. Judson in the United States in
1845-46, and again, after his decease in 1850, the pastoral care of
the Burmese Church, and the general supervision of the Burmese
work in Maulmain, devolved upon him, up to the time of his
own return to America, which took place in 1854, after a term
of sixteen years in the country.
Dr. Stevens considered it one of the blessings of his life that
he was, during his early missionary years, for more than a
decade intimately associated with Dr. Judson. His estimation
of Dr. Judson's eminent abilities, and his often expressed admi-
ration of the superior excellencies of his work, constantly in-
creased, as he became more and more capable of judging* of thci
On account of a disastrous fire, which destroyed his books ar
manuscripts, on the night of February 19th, 1847, tliere an
no journals of his early years remaining; and it is an interestinj
circumstance that the only volume which is left, opens with 1850
in daily records of the last days of Dr. Judson in Maulmaini
the embarkation for Bourbon, and his own frequent visits to the
ship, while it remained in the river, accompanying Mrs. Judson
as she took her daily farewells.
Dr. Stevens very soon acquired the Burmese language, and at-
tained to an unusual facility in conveying his thoughts with ac-
curacy, and so as to be readily apprehended by a Burmese
audience. His pronunciation was admirable. It was often re-
marked by Burmans that by those who should hear without seeing
him, he would not be suspected of being a foreigner. Books
prepared by him in the Burmese language, whether translations
or original productions, are pronounced by Burmese readers,
(and Karen also), as remarkably lucid. In speech, he was the
" golden-mouthed ;" and in conveying niceties of thought, whe-
ther in speech or writing, he was unsurpassed. In the latter, he
was a worthy successor of Dr. Judson. It was to Mr. Stevens
that Dr. Judson committed for completion and publication, the
manuscripts of his Burmese Dictionary, which was issued from
the Press in 1852, after the death of its distinguished author.
At the urgent request of J. R. Colvin, Esq., then Commissioner
of Tennasserim, Mr. Stevens translated, for the use of schools,
from the " Instructor," the " Elements of General History," in
two volumes octavo, aggregating upwards of 400 pages. Besides
a number of tracts, some of which have been and still are very
much in request, Dr. Stevens prepared commentaries on Mat-
thew, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, the only commentaries
on the Scriptures ever printed in the Burmese language, a
translation of Dr. Barth's " Church History," and a small volume
entitled "Scripture Lands." In addition to the above, the
^* Religious Herald," a monthly paper now called " The Burman
Messenger," was commenced by him, in association with others,
in 1 842, and sustained by his almost unassisted efforts, while in
the country, until his last illness. Indeed, one number, he pre-
pared and issued, during that illness.
The Burmese Hymn-book contains eighty-four hymns bearing
his initials. Many of these are translations of hymns dear to all
Christians who sing in the English tongue, such as,
" Rock of ages cleft for me,"
" There is a fountain filled with blood,"
" My dear Redeemer and my Lord,"
" Jesus, Lover of my soul,"
" Jerusalem the golden,"
" All hail the power of Jesus' name," etc.,
The proofs of this hymn-book, in its many editions, as well as
many editions of the New Testament, one with references, were
corrected by him, as they passed through the press. For the last
thirty years, few pages in Burmese have left the Mission Press,
whether tract, Bible, text-book, or periodical, which had not been
submitted to his scrutiny one or more times. A Concordance
on the whole Bible, on which Dr. Stevens had been working
at intervals of leisure for many years, was completed in
1880. Indeed, it was only at intervals of so-called leisure,
that all this literary work was accomplished. Dr. Stevens was
not what could be called a man of" the study," during any
portion of his long career. It was as a preacher, a pastor, a
teacher, and an itinerant, that he impressed himself upon those
among whom he labored.
The secret of the amount of literary work which he was able to
accomplish, was his methodical and indefatigable industry. He
was blessed, too, with a temperament of remarkable evenness ; he
was not easily ruffled or confused by the pressure of a variety of
demands urging themselves upon him at the same moment. In
no other way can we understand how, for a succession of years,
he bore burdens which would have crushed almost any other two
Soon after his return to Burma, in 1857, and his settling* in
Rangoon, he was invited to become the pastor of the recently
estabh'shed Church of English-speaking Baptists. In connection
with this pastorate which continued uninterrupted until 1874,
and which was resumed again in 1877, Dr. Stevens was in the
habit of preaching Sabbath evening, of conducting a prayer-
meeting on Wednesday evening, and of visiting the sick, the
dying, the bereaved, the backslidden. Less than this he would not
do and more he could not, without encroaching on what he ever
kept before him as his chief and chosen occupation in Burma,
the evangelizing of the heathen and the building up of the
native churches. Indeed, the care of the English Church he ever
regarded as only an incidental, though very precious and
important service, which the Providence of God made incumbent
For several years of this time. Dr. Stevens was also Mission
Treasurer, a work the onerousness of which can be understood
only by those who have tried it.
During the rainy seasons, four and a half days of every week
were given to the instruction of preachers* and assistants' classes,
and the dry seasons to itinerating among the villages. This he
was enabled to do by the uniform kindness of his brethren in
supplying the pulpit of the English Church, during his absence.
Nor, should it be said, was it only when Dr. Stevens was absent
from town, that his brethren assisted him in the English pulpit.
Those whose business brought them from other stations to Rangoon,
were most cordial in giving him an evening of rest, and the con-
gregation the benefit of a change of voice. For periods, too, longer
or shorter, his missionary brethren in Rangoon would divide with
him, the work of preaching. To Dr. Binney and Dr. Rose, the
Rangoon Church was especially indebted during successive years,
for sharing that service with Dr. Stevens. The intervals of home-
coming were crowded with arrears of proof-reading, and editing,
and the duties of his office as Mission Treasurer. Besides all the
g^bove, a Taniil and Telugu Church had been growing up in con-
nection with the English work. This was subsequently organized
in 1880, with ninety members, into a distinct body, and this new
Church and its pastor, continued to look to him as their guide. It
is no wonder that under such a constant pressure, the overtaxed
system should rebel. In 1873, he experienced the first of a
series of attacks, at first with long intervals, and towards the end
more frequent, the last of which in complication with heart trouble,
hastened his decease in 1886.
In 1874, after a second term of service which consisted of
eighteen years in Burma, he felt the need of change and rest,
and in March of that year, he turned his face homeward to
make his second and last visit to his native land. It was his
privilege to leave behind him in Burma a son and a daughter,
who had already been engaged for several years in mission work
in their respective stations of Prome and Henthada.
During his two and a half years at home, though ostensibly
resting, his pen was not idle. It was during this interval that he
translated the Church History and revised his commentaries on
the New Testament.
Near the end of 1876, Dr. Stevens returned to Burma. He
parted from his children and relatives in America, with the im-
pression that he should see their faces no more. Not that he had
a presentiment that the remainder of his career would be brief, but
because he considered it extremely improbable that circumstances
would ever make it desirable for him to return to his native land.
He at once applied himself to the routine of Mission work with
as much zest and effectiveness, as if his age were two-score and
two, instead of three-score and three.
In the spring of 1883, he suffered another of the attacks above
referred to, and for a while, it seemed as if his work must be near
its end. But from this he recovered, and, with his usual elasticity
of temperament, resumed his labors, relinquishing only that part
which would take him into the district where surgical help could
not be obtained, when suddenly needed.
He was relieved, for a few months in 1880, of the pastoral care of
the English Church, by the coming of Rev. W. R. Manley, and
again in the latter part of the same year for a few months, by
Rev. W. I. Price. He was not finally released, however, until
the Rains of 1882. At that time, Dr. Gushing, in anticipation of
the arrival of Rev. L. J. Denchfield in November as a permanent
pastor, very kindly accepted the responsibility, and gave himself,
with his well-known energy and tact, to the rallying of the Bap-
tists, who had become scattered through the frequency of pastoral
changes, and other causes.
The long, patient, and successful work of Dr. Stevens in con-
nection with the English Baptist Church, dating from its form-
ation in 1859, for twenty-three years, will make his name fragrant
in the annaTs of that Church. The writer first became acquaint-
ed with the work of Dr. Stevens, in 1864, and at that time, the
modest chapel at the corner of Merchant and Phayre Streets,
in its crowded Sunday evening congregations, was a sight to give
joy to angels. Between that time and 1881, two new congrega-
tions, the Presbyterian and the Methodist, were largely formed of
those who had been habitual attendants upon Dr. Stevens* preach-
ing, and yet the chapel continued to attract a goodly audience.
The Church membership was always small, but also, was always
fluctuating, as had been that of the English Church in Maulmain,
owing to a constantly changing military and mercantile commun-
ity. Communities are rarely permanent in India. But in this
way little colonies have established themselves in other places,
from which other churches have grown. Conspicuous among
these is the Baptist Church in Madras, which was formed when
the 84th Regiment reached that place from Maulmain. General
Sir David Russell, then Captain Russell, with a good number of
privates in that regiment, was baptized by Mr. Stevens in 1843.
These with other officers of the 84th Regiment, converted and
baptized while in Burma, led in a movement to form a Baptist
Church, and to build for it an edifice, for which latter, Captain
Russell, being a man of some means, provided in large measure
the requisite funds.
As an illustration of the value of this work among the English
and of its subsequent advantage to the Burmese work itself,
many years after, while serving in Canada as Commander-in-
Chief of her Majesty's forces there, this same Sir David Russell,
at a large meeting of representatives of Young Men's Christian
Associations in the U.S.A. and Canada, which was held in Mon-
treal, and over which he presided, took the opportunity to ac-
knowledge his sense of personal indebtedness to the Christian
effort of the American Missionaries in Burma ; and still further,
in 1877, Sir David entrusted Dr. Stevens with the sum of Rs.
16,000, to be used for the support and training of native evan-
gelists in Burma,*
Thus, though at any given period, the membership of the Ran-
goon Baptist Church was small, yet of many may it be said, ** this
and that man was born in her," and of many more, that in
that humble building, the claims of the Gospel were by Dr. Stevens,
for more than a score of years, tenderly, faithfully, and urgently
laid before them.
While Dr. Stevens was preeminently a preaching missionary,
he was not indifferent to the claims of education. As an auxili-
ary in evangelistic labor, and especially, as an indispensable
condition of permanency and progress in the native church-
es, he always accorded a high place to schools of every grade. He
felt himself, however, unable to personally engage in school work.
The multiplicity of his engagements was a sufficient excuse for
this apparent neglect. It was this, and no lack of interest, that
he pleaded as his excuse for declining an invitation from Mr., now
Sir Charles Bernard, to accept the position of vice-president of the
Educational Syndicate, established in 1881. He did accept how-
ever, as less incompatible with his engagements, the office of pre-
sident of the Board of Trustees of the Rangoon Baptist College,
and in that institution, he always evinced a lively interest. Often
* This sum was used freely, during the life-time of Dr. Stevens, in both the Karen
and Burmese departments, and the unexpended balance, invested in " Russell
Place," was entrusted shortly before his death, to his son and son-in-law in Burma,
to be used by them in accordance with the intention of the distinguished donor..
also, has the writer heard him, when returning from one of his
stated preaching services in the Kemendine Girls' School, express
his gratitude to God that there was such an institution in Burma,
where hundreds of Burmese girls of both christian and heathen
families, could be kept constantly under the elevating and sanctify-
ing influences of christian training.
Although a Georgian by birth and warmly attached to the
South, yet his sympathies extended over the whole of his beloved
country. He loved the North and the South, and none rejoiced
more than he, in the return of union between them in 1865, and
in the extinction of the deplorable cause of the alienation which
had existed between the two sections.
The separation of the Southern churches from the Baptist
Triennial Convention in 1846, was a sore trial to him. Up to
that time, he felt that at least a part of his commission and of his
support, came from the churches of his own loved South. And
this regret was mutual, for when at home in 1854-6, the secretary
of the Southern Board, desirous of continuing to have a share in his
support, and also in the Burmese mission, their first-love also
in the Foreign work, offered to provide his salary and to allow
him to retain his connection with Burma, and to work under
the general direction of the Northern Board, provided that
he could be counted among the missionaries of the Southern
Board. The matter was referred to the secretary of the Northern
Board ; but as it was feared that, in view of the dissatisfaction
of a few missionaries about that time, for whom was formed the
Free Mission Society, his leaving the Board at Boston might be
misunderstood, the whole subject was dropped.
Towards the close of December 1885, he was attacked by
what seemed to be a severe cold, but soon, more alarming symp-
toms manifested themselves, and medical help was summoned.
It was on a Wednesday evening at dusk, the last Wednesday
in the year, when the alarming announcement was made that
the heart was seriously affected, and his condition critical.
Well does the writer remember taking the sad tidings to the
weekly Karen prayer-meeting which was at that moment assem-
bling in the Seminary chapel, and asking that prayer should be
offered for that valuable life. During the following months,
much prayer was offered by his missionary associates at this
and other stations, and by the churches of all the races who
loved his name. So sudden was the breaking down at last, that
on the following Friday, Dr. Stevens had promised to make
the address in Burmese, at the New Year's day union meeting
of all the congregations of Baptist Christians in Rangoon ;
and a half finished outline of a sermon, suited for the last Sab-
bath of the year, was lying on his desk, from the text, sadly, and
yet, for this good and faithful steward, not sadly significant,
" Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no
Though sudden to those about him. Dr. Stevens had felt the
heart difficulty growing upon him for a year or more, so that he
was not wholly unprepared for the decision in which the three
doctors consulted concurred, that his active work was done.
It was still hoped however, by his friends, that by the extreme
quiet which was almost the only thing which the physicians
could prescribe, his usefulness might be prolonged at his study
table if not elsewhere. At times, from January till June, he
had intervals when he was quite comfortable, and his children
in America could be cheered by the tidings of improvement ;
but each attack left him weaker than its predecessor, and all
around him felt that he was nearing heaven. Yet his own
hopefulness continued until June 14th, when he for the first time
said, " I am going." "It was at the close of a day of great suffer-
ing," writes his daughter, " a continual struggle for breath. We
supposed he would never speak or recognize us again, when he
broke forth into a long, earnest, beautiful prayer, much of it
clothed in the language of Scripture. He commenced by saying
how gladly he would continue in his much loved work ; 'I have
served Thee a long time, but if Thou sayest it is enough, Thy
will be done.' Then he prayed for this household. * Bless us
as individuals; bless us as a household ; grant that every one,
every one, may be wholly consecrated, wholly consecrated, wholly
consecrated, to the service of the Lord/ He prayed for his
children and grandchildren that all, everyone, might learn the
joy of leading souls to Christ, and that they might esteem His
service of higher honor than any possible earthly honor. * The
world does not so regard Thy service ; but we are not of the
world.' — He remembered Burma. * Up there, all will be of
one mind, of one mind, and that the mind of Christ/ and closed
with uttering strong assurances in Scripture language, of the
ultimate triumph of that * Name, which is above every name.*
He reiterated with great fervor the plea of Moses, which he
had urged many times before, * For the glory of Thy name,'
repeating that phrase, * His name, for the honor of His name,
to the glory of His name.' He spoke some endearing words to
mother, taking her hand, and then added, * I am going.' After a
little, his mind seemed to wander, and he said, * It must be time
to go to bed ; let us have prayers,' and turning to Mr. Freiday,
whose tender night-watchings during that eventful week, are
gratefully remembered, he requested that he would offer prayer."
This memorable prayer seemed the more remarkable to his
family from the fact that it was his first audible prayer, since
1886 had commenced. The weakness of his voice, and the
violent agitation of his heart, caused by speaking more than a
few words at a time, had deprived him and his family of the
privilege he and they had ever so much enjoyed.
" On Tuesday evening," Mrs. Smith's letter continues, " when
the Seminary students sang in their evening worship at the
chapel, dear father aroused, and said, * How sweet such sounds
in a land like this.' The hymn, the strains of which came float-
ing into the chamber of sickness, was the beautiful one entitled,
* It is well with my soul.' "
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday passed ; loving hands of
his own family and of missionary friends, ministered to his wants ;
but these were few. He slept heavily, and it was difficult to
arouse him sufficiently to take needed refreshment. His work
was ended, his last word had been spoken, his last prayer offered.
Early on Saturday A.M., of the 19th day of June, his failing pulse
indicated the near approach of the great change, and at 4.45, just
at break of day, his pure spirit took its flight. We bowed around
his couch, while Mr. Brayton, his fellow voyager in the " Rosa-
bella!* nearly fifty years before, and his dear and life-long friend,
led our hearts in prayer to the " Father of mercies and God of
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, after a brief
service at the house, conducted by Rev. Mr. Brayton, at the tolling
of the Seminary chapel bell and the bell of the adjoining S. P. G.
S. John's College, the funeral cortege wended its way through
the thronged and busy city, passing the Burmese chapel at
Lammadau, whose walls were never more to echo to the sound of
his voice, and on to the English Baptist Church, where a dense
congregation awaited the obsequies. Devout men tenderly
bore him into the Church. The services, which were conducted
in the Burmese and English languages, commenced with the
singing in Burmese of the hymn, a translation of which was made
by Dr. Stevens for the funeral of Ko En, for many years pastor of
the Burmese Church,
" Servant of God, well done !
Rest from thy loved employ ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy ! "
This hymn was most beautifully and feelingly rendered by a
choir composed of a selection of Burmese girls from the Kemen-
dine Girls* School, where he had so often preached, and was follow-
ed by the reading, interspersed with remarks, of a choice selection
of Scripture passages by Rev. Dr. Rose, and prayer by Ko Shway
Oung, an aged Burmese preacher, for many years associated with
Dr. Stevens in Christian work.
The services were continued with an affectionate address in
English, by Rev. L. J. Denchfield, the pastor, on the words, "And
they took up the body and buried it ; and went and told Jesus."
After the services in the Church, the body was accompanied
by a vast concourse to the cemetery, where repose so many
of the sainted missionary dead ; Wade, and Mason, and
Ingalls, and Bennett, and others, for many years associated
with him in work ; and now to be together in the repose
of death, until the morning of the Resurrection. There too, for
many years, have reposed the ashes of two little girls, his
dear grandchildren ; and all around, are the graves of those
of many races, to whom he ministered in life, as pastor and
We laid him away in full and joyful hope of a blessed
Little, in respect to Dr. Stevens' character, remains to be added
to what has already been indicated. When, at his funeral. Dr.
Rose, in his Burmese address, referred to the description of Barna-
bas in Acts xi. 24., as summarizing for us in a few words the
character of Dr. Stevens, the appropriateness of the reference
received the assent of the congregation. " He was a good man
and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith."
He was a man of prayer. He spent much time in prayer.
Secret prayer was his delight ; and on two occasions in his life, the
Lord was pleased to reveal Himself to him in an overwhelming
manner. He could never refer to those two Bethel experiences,
without the deepest emotion. Much of the sweetness and even-
ness of his temper and life, were due to those seasons of daily
communion with his Saviour, with which no engagements were al-
lowed to interfere. He was fond of social prayer and of the place
of public worship. The stated seasons of worship, whether on the
Sabbath or week days, whether the worship was conducted in a
known or unknown tongue, were sacredly observed by him,
throughout his entire life. He felt that even where he could
not join intelligently in the worship, by his presence he indicat-
ed his sympathy with the object of the service, and he was un-
willing to forego a single opportunity of showing his attachment
tp Christ, and his love for the ordinances of Christ's house.
He believed in the benefit of association in Christian work,
and in the communion of the saints. He was the father of associa-
tional gatherings in Burma, being, we are informed, the originator
in 1843, of the old Maulmain Karen and Burmese Association.
The Pegu Association, which included all the Burmese
Churches on the Rangoon side of the Gulf of Martaban,
owed its origin to him, in i860. The annual gatherings
of this Association he greatly enjoyed, and while in the country,
was never absent, until at the last one in Henthada, in Feb-
ruary of this year. He sent to it, however, his Christian
greeting, and was present in spirit, though absent in body. How
much he was missed, and how affectionately he was remember-
ed, is pleasantly described by Dr. Jameson in a published letter,
from which a single paragraph is taken.
" Our senior missionary to the Burmans, Dr. Stevens of Ran-
goon, who has always attended the meetings of the Associa-
tionj was, this year, not only unable to be present, but was
confined to his bed at home, in very feeble health. I asked one
native brother whether he was enjoying himself. He said he
was ; but he missed Dr. Stevens all the time. While a motion
was being made to unite in special prayer for Dr. Stevens and
Mrs. Bennett, also in infirm health, a telegram arrived, with a
salutation from Dr. Stevens, and an appropriate Scripture refer-
ence, I Cor. 15 : 58, * Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stead-
fast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the
Lord.' The attention of the meeting was called to the great
debt of the Burman Christians to Dr. Stevens, in view of his
valuable commentaries on different books of the Bible, which
are such a means of spiritual knowledge to many scattered dis-
ciples, who have no missionary or native preacher to explain to
them the word of God. We united in prayer as proposed, and
sent a telegram with a reference to 3rd John, 2, * Beloved, I wish
above all things, that thou mayest prosper and be in health,
even as thy soul prospereth.' "
He was one of the constituent members of the Burma Bap-
tist Missionary Convention, and was more often elected to
the office of president of that body, than any other man.
His urbanity, his impartiality, his patience, his animation, and
his superb command of the Burmese language, made him a
favorite presiding officer. At the same time, he was destitute of
all desire for pre-eminence. He seemed unaware of his own
excellencies, and accepted offices not as distinctions, but as op-
portunities for greater usefulness, which he dared not refuse.
Another characteristic of Dr. Stevens was his " diligence in
business, serving the Lord." He carefully gathered up rem-
nants of time, for extra toils. Some work or other was always
on hand, with which to fill up the interstices. His was a busy
life. When at Mergui, in 1844, for a few months, on account of
sickness in his family, he studied and reduced 'to writing the
language of the Salongs. As already referred to, when at home
in 1874-76, he prepared several important works in the Burmese
language. Constituted as he was, rest for him, was change of
He had no time therefore to brood over misfortunes, fancied or
real. This contributed to the cheerfulness of his disposition, and
that again to the health given him in such large measure,
throughout his long career. The latter was promoted also by
the regular exercise, consisting principally in morning and even-
ing walks, which he commenced while at College, and conscien-
tiously kept up, to the last year of his life.
Dr. Stevens had much of " the grace" of liberality. From
principle, a tenth of his income was always set apart, and
from the remaining nine-tenths also, he indulged his generous
soul in quiet, unostentatious giving. Nor was he backward in his
efforts to develop the same grace in the churches committed to
his oversight. Much grief did he feel that the native Christians did
not more fully emulate their heathen neighbors ; yet he had rea-
son to rejoice that to a large extent, they responded to the calls
made upon them, in connection with Christian work for them-
selves and the heathen around them. The Irberality of the
Burmese Church in Rangoon, bears testimony to the soundness
of his views on self-support. For many years, besides the sup-
port of its own pastor and current Church expenses, they
pensioned a superannuated pastor, repaired and kept in order
their Chapel, and sustained an evangelist at Pegu, until a Church
was gathered there, large enough to provide for its own sup-
port, when the evangelist received ordination and was settled
as pastor of the newly formed Church, and the Rangoon Church
turned its attention to a similar work in another heathen com-
munity. At his instance, the Rangoon Missionary Society was
formed, to receive contributions which he was in the habit of
of soliciting from the English speaking community ; and through
this society, many evangelists and Bible women have been
supported in Christian work, among the heathen. It is pecu-
liarly pleasant to give this testimony to Dr. Stevens* successful
efforts in training disciples in the habit of self-support, because
of the impression which has been created by recently published
Tracts, that self-supporting Christian communities are limited
to the Karen department of the Missions in Burma. It should
be added also that Dr. Stevens was not alone in this, others of
his brethren, who labor among the Burmans, having been equally
The consistency and rigidness with which he held his distinct-
ive views as a strict Baptist, not infrequently gave offence, and,
perhaps, sometimes alienated from him those, whose views were
more elastic. This would grieve, but could not move him.
Loyalty to the truth made him firm, while the example and
words of the apostle both cheered and confirmed him, " For if I
yet pleased men, I should not be a servant ot Christ." At the
same time he was destitute of all bitterness of feeling towards
those who differed with him. He gave them full credit for con-
scientiousness, and thanked God for the good that he could find
and enjoy in them. This great charity combined with unyield-
ing adherence to what he conceived to be the mind of Christ,
was happily illustrated in the difficulties in the Burmese Church
under his care, which clouded the last year of his life. The
adoption of " premillennial views," he did not regard as a cause
for Church discipline. His own views at one period in his life,
were premillennial. His chief objection to them, in addition to
their believed unsoundness, was that the principles of interpre-
tation, which are relied upon to justify those views, make it
easy for the unlearned and unstable to adopt other doctrines,
which are positively pernicious in their tendencies and results.
Further specification is unnecessary ; but it is believed that these
errors of interpretation are by none more deeply regretted, than
by premillennial leaders, whose higher mental and spiritual dis-
cipline, enable them to preserve the due proportion of truth.
These distortions of interpretation, persistently held and offen-
sively urged upon others, led to a schism in the Burmese
Church ; but for those erring ones. Dr. Stevens ever felt the
tenderest pity. " I have nourished and brought up children,"
he used sometimes sorrowfully to say of them, " and they have
rebelled against me."
In the evangelistic work of other Christian denominations, he
ever felt the liveliest interest. When the Methodists commenc-
ed their work in Rangoon, he opened the Baptist chapel to Dr.
Thoburn for his preaching services, and rejoiced in the hope-
ful conversions which resulted. He was glad, when the Presby-
terians felt strong enough to attempt an independent church
work, although thereby, the Baptist chapel lost some of its most
constant and intelligent attendants.
He rejoiced in the school and church work of the S. P. G.
Missionaries, and expressed his thankfulness for the work
of the Roman Catholics, in view of some of the cardinal
truths of our religion, which are disseminated by them.
In 1864, Brown University, his Alma Mater conferred upon
him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, a degree which he was too
modest either to seek or to decline.
T^^ C4.^^gj^g» Missionary life in Burma covered a period of forty
eight years and three months. Gladly would he, if permitted, have
toiled on, another decade. He had strong faith in the ultimate
victory which was to crown the labors of Christ's servants, in this
and all heathen lands. However untoward present circumstances
might be, he would not, could not be discouraged. His face was
ever toward the sun-rising. His eye was fixed upon the Star of
Bethlehem, and that, to him, was the Morning Star of the mil-
lennial day. He looked wistfully at the door which opened into
Upper Burma on the first day of January, 1886 ; and though it
then seemed to those about him a vain hope, yet, less than a
month before his departure, his face pale with weakness but
lighted up with the energy of hope, he exclaimed, " Who knows ?
I may yet be permitted to preach in Mandalay !"
And until the autumn of 1885, it might well have been anti-
cipated that this would be his privilege. One who listen-
ed to his last sermon in the Burmese Chapel at Lamma-
dau, near the close of that year, remembers thinking at the
time, " how strong and clear that voice ! How full of promise
for years to come !" Until the last six months of weakness and
suffering, his hair had become but slightly silvered, and his step
had lost but little of its elasticity, nor had his manners lost any
of his life-long thoughtful attention to the graceful amenities of
family and social life.
" He rests from his labors." But it is the kind of rest he took
on earth ; a change of work. There " they rest not day and
By loving hands, a palm has been planted at the foot of his
grave, fit emblem for one whose life of cheerful, hopeful toil and
conflict, is crowned at length with the victor's joy.
As a fitting completion of these pages, we may quote as appli-
cable to the life thus briefly and imperfectly sketched, the
closing sentences in the remarks of Dr. H. M. King, to the
memory of Dr. Ripley, whom Dr. Stevens ever regarded as a
second father, and whom, in character, he remarkably re-
" He was one of the purest, gentlest, saintliest of men, en-
dowed richly with that love which vaunteth not itself, is not
puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her
own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Humbly and
without ostentation, he filled the honorable place which Provid-
ence assigned to him. His spirit showed an unmistakable and
beautiful likeness to Him with Whom he lived in constant com-
munion. He seemed ever to move in the atmosphere of heaven.
His smile was a perpetual benediction. His peaceful end was
the fitting termination of a life which was pervaded with the
calm and sanctifying trust of the Gospel of Christ. Few have
been taken from the scenes of earth to the abodes of the re-
deemed, who have been so completely clad in the ' robe of readi-
" Of such as he was, there be few on earth ;
Of such as he is, there be many in heaven ;
And life is all the sweeter that he lived ;
And all he loved more sacred for his sake ;
And death is all the brighter that he died ;
And heaven is all the happier that he's there."
Since the above sketch went to Press, the attention of the writer has
been drawn to a copy of the " Minutes of the Sixteenth Anniversary of
the Georgia Baptist Convention, held at Ruckersville, Georgia, on the
5th, 6th, and 8th of May 1837," from which the following extract is
" Sabbath ?nomtngy May y.
This was a solemn day, and forms an important eta in the history of
this body. In conformity to previous notice, a large congregation as-
sembled at 9 o'clock in the Baptist Church, to witness the ordination
of our beloved brother, Edward A. Stevens, as a Minister of the Gospel
and a Missionary to the perishing heathen, in compliance with the
request of the Sunbury Baptist Church. It was a deeply interesting
occasion; every heart seemed to be affected, and when this devoted youth
presented himself before the Presbytery, almost every eye wept, and the
breathing of many pious souls was poured forth that the blessings of
God might abide with him at home, amid the dangers of the ocean,
and in the dreary and desolate field for which he is destined.
The sermon was delivered by Elder J. Mercer, from Luke 6 : 39, 40,
' Can the blind lead the blind,' etc. The examination was conducted by
Elder V. R. Thornton. It was clear and entirely satisfactory, both in
relation to Christian Experience, and the motives which influenced him,
doctrine and qualifications. The charge was given by Elder I. L.
Brooks, of South Carolina. Prayer by Elder C. D. Mallary, and the
right hand of* fellowship by Elder A. T. Holmes."