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We may read love's shining letter
In the rainbow of the spray,
When the mists have cleared away.
' If we err in human blindness
And forget that we are dust,
When we struggle to be just ;
All the pain that hides away,
And the mists have cleared away.
As our Father knows His own,
We shall know as we are known.
Floats the golden fringe of day,
Till the mists are cleared away.
We too, then, shall meet sweet Angel guides, who will take us by the hand and say, Come hither, come hither, ye faithful soldiers of the New Jerusalem, and we will show you the Bride. Behold there, behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is there that for you also the Lord Jehovah has commanded the blessing of life for evermore. Amen.
THE REV. JOHN HYDE.
In our last number we briefly recorded the death of the Rev. John Hyde, which took place on the 18th of August at the residence of his brother-in-law, Derwent House, near Derby. And it is quite conceir. able that some friends might think that the simple record of the fact would be sufficient; Mr. Hyde's place in the affections and thoughts of the members of the Church was so large, his usefulness so extensives and his genial and gentle nature so universally appreciated, that by them no memoir could be required to make his labours known, and no survey of his character could be deemed more trustworthy than the estimate established in the memory of his contemporaries. But on the other hand the deep sympathy so generally felt, the grief for the loss of a beloved personal friend which in this case is almost co-extensive with regret for the loss of a useful and eloquent advocate of the truth, finds satisfaction in dwelling on the details of his career, and for this, if for no other reason, we should have been ready to offer a biographical sketch of our departed friend more extended than the short obituary notices to which we are generally limited in these pages. But most of all are we encouraged to attempt this sorrowful duty by the knowledge that a true narrative of so noble and useful a life would be scarcely less useful and helpful than acceptable as a memento.
John Hyde was born in London on the 26th February 1833. Since his death many even of his friends have been surprised that he was only forty-two years old, but it was a consolation to him in his last illness to reflect that his days had not been idle. Those who remember Mr. Hyde in his early years speak of him as a bright and happy boy, ardent and active in temperament, gentle and affectionate in disposition. He was educated at a school in Hackney, but he himself looked back to the supplementary instructions given by his father in the early mornings and late evenings of his school-days, as having been chiefly active in developing and directing his youthful intellect. As a boy he attended a Wesleyan Sunday school and Bible class, but he never became a member of any Wesleyan society. As a child he took great delight in the study of the Bible, and theology had attractions for him at a comparatively early age. Logical exercises were also amongst his boyish delights, and nothing gratified him more than to gain a place in the Law Courts where he could listen to the forensic struggles of eminent barristers. Even in these days he was ready to apply his talents to the defence of religion, and it is remembered that at the age of sixteen he took the affirmative side in debates on the authenticity of the Scriptures, holding his own against practised deistical debaters, and astonishing the audience by the fluency and power of his speech. He never regretted his experience with the Wesleyans, and he was always ready to acknowledge the benefits he derived from his early initiation into habits of external piety.
It was about this time that Mr. Hyde's family joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Mr. Hyde sometimes said that he was surprised that his former association with the Mormonites had not excited greater prejudice against him in the New Church, and he added that he thought he might himself, had he been born a New Churchman, have entertained some such prejudice in a similar case. “It must exist," he once said, “and I shall only attempt to dissipate it by the argument of a good life.” But wherever Mr. Hyde went he invariably won confidence and esteem, and we do not refer now to his Mormonite experience because we suppose there remained any want of sympathy for Mr. Hyde on account of it. This page in his biography requires neither apology nor explanation; on the contrary, speaking from knowledge gained not merely by direct communications from himself, but from those who knew him intimately before, during the time of, and after his experience in America, we have no hesitation in saying that the period may be looked back to as one of the noblest and most admirable passages of his life. He was only a boy when he first heard the Mormonite doctrines preached, and what first attracted him was the remarkable manner in which they appeared to be confirmed by the letter of Scripture. He was captivated by the zeal of the enthusiastie promulgators of the faith, some of whom, we believe, were earnest, conscientious men. At that time the features of Mormonism, which at the present day excite so much horror, were never proclaimed by the English advocates, who indeed honestly denied them when they were first mentioned. Under the influence of the elder members of his family, and excited by the powerful appeals of his new friends, Mr. Hyde began to preach the new doctrines. He believed that God was preparing a refuge of peace and security from the wickedness and snares of the world in the Western Continent. He was sent on a mission to France, and though unacquainted with the language, he soon acquired it, and was able to address audiences in the French language. In 1853 he left England for America, and the fatigues and dangers of a weary pilgrimage through the wilderness were cheerfully overcome, under the influence of the enthusiastic hope that he was on his way to another promised land. But when he settled in the Salt Lake City, when the excitement of travel and toil had passed away, and when his boyish imagination was tempered by the more developed rational faculty of the man; when he could not remain blind to incidents that alarmed him, and was compelled to reflect on what he saw around him, terrible disappointment and painful doubts began to afflict him. He was shocked at the wickedness of some of the so-called Saints, and he carried his doubts to the ablest leaders of the movement. He was met by specious reasonings, and warned against what these men called the injustice of condemning the system on account of the backsliding of its supporters. But though unwilling to abandon the illusion for which he had
sacrificed so much, Mr. Hyde continued restless and unhappy. He was horrified at the worst phases of the system, and at length he was told that he was getting into darkness because he had abandoned his active work as a teacher. Accordingly he was sent on a preaching mission to the Sandwich Islands, but, detained by a serious accident to his hand in San Francisco, he was thrown on his own resources, and, removed from the subtle influences of his enthusiastic associates, he calmly and searchingly re-investigated the bases of the faith he had embraced. The wrench from his old beliefs and hopes was not effected without a painful struggle, but at last he became thoroughly convinced that he had been the subject and advocate of a dangerous and deceptive heresy; to use his own words : “ As a boy I embraced it; as a man I renounced it;" and once satisfied, he did not hesitate about what he ought to do. He followed his former friends to the Sandwich Islands, but he felt it his duty immediately to explain his position, and he gave a lecture at Honolulu, in which he stated the reasons why he could not fulfil the mission assigned to him. More than this, he felt that it was incumbent on him to endeavour to undo the effect of some of the false views he had been engaged in promoting. He wrote a book against the Mormon doctrines, which he published in America, and he lectured against the system in some of the great cities of the United States. He was only twentythree years of age when he separated himself from the Mormons, and when he returned to England, in the early part of 1858, his first work was to continue the crusade against the Mormon system which he had commenced in America. But, as will readily be believed by all his friends, this negative kind of work did not long satisfy Mr. Hyde's active aspirations, and though during the long and painful mental struggle which followed the heroic repudiation of his former opinions he had been unable to rest upon solid religious convictions, he never found consolation in negative philosophy. Sometimes he almost despaired of discovering the solution of the great problems that troubled him, but at length the hope dawned upon him that God would lead him to a right understanding of His truth, and as he himself said, “ in this hope the works of the New Church met him.”
He heard of Swedenborg for the first time in America, but he did not make his first practical acquaintance with the New Church views until after his return to England. He was, however, so much impressed by the first work of Swedenborg that he did read, that he determined to make a careful and elaborate examination of the doctrines, and the more he studied the more he was satisfied with the consistency of the philosophy, the practical character of the doctrinal teachings, and, above all, he was affected by the doctrine of cor
respondences, which enabled him to turn once more with the confidence of faith to the Bible.
He was shortly afterwards introduced to Dr. Bayley, who, at once perceived and appreciated the mental power and earnestness of the young convert, and encouraged him to study for the New Church ministry. On the 24th of October 1858, Mr. Hyde was baptized by Dr. Bayley at Argyle Square Church, and from this time he determined to devote himself to the work of the ministry of the New Church. He immediately began a course of active usefulness in connection with the Argyle Square Society, and even at this early period his publie addresses were as much admired for their insight into New Church truth as for their vigorous and eloquent delivery. In 1859 he was engaged as Leader of the Society at Brightlingsea, and in the course of two or three years he was recognized as one of the ablest and most successful preachers in the Church. At Brightlingsea his ministry was immediately successful, and when, after he had at the beginning of 1861 accepted a call for a wider sphere of usefulness in Derby, he found, on separating himself from his Essex friends, that their distress in losing him was so great that he said he feared, had he known how much they had loved him, he could never have consented to leave them. On the 29th September 1861 he was ordained at Derby, where he remained for five years, and in 1866 he accepted a cordial invitation from Manchester; from this time, and until his lamented death, he was the minister of the Peter Street Society. Although still a young man, he had already become one of the most popular and eloquent advocates, of New Church truth. His lectures on the Resurrection, on Swedenborg: on the Serpent that beguiled Eve, amongst others, which have happily been made permanent by publication, are conspicuous examples of his ability as an expounder and of his eloquence as a speaker. He was even then well known to the majority of New Church Societies, and the cordiality with which he had been received at Derby, if not more intense, was more extensively manifested when he was first received as minister of the Society by a crowded meeting in the Peter Street school-room, Manchester. It was on this occasion that, after speaking of the kindness of his friends, of their perfect confidence in his character and ability, and in referring to his own sense of responsibility, he said he was reminded of the time when Jesus said unto Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" and when “Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said unto Him, There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes; but what are they among so many ?" And with unaffected humility, in addressing his new friends, he said he felt that he was literally a lad there amongst them, and wondered