The Collected Works of Theodore Parker/Volume 03/Discourse 15

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Much-valued Friends,

When I first found myself unable to speak to you again, and medical men bade me be silent, and flee off for my life to a more genial clime, I determined, before I went, to make ready and publish my New-year's Sermon, the last I ever preached; and the one which was to follow it, the last I ever wrote, lying there yet unspoken; and also to prepare a letter to you, reviewing our past intercourse of now nearly fifteen years.

The phonographer's swift pen made the first work easy, and the last sermon lies printed before you : the next I soon laid aside, reserving my forces for the last. But alas! the thought, and still more the emotion, requisite for such a letter, under such circumstances, are quite too much for me now. So, with much regret, I find myself compelled by necessity to forego the attempt:—nay, rather, I trust, only to postpone it for a few weeks.

Now I can but write this note in parting, to thank you for the patience with which you have heard me so long; for the open-handed generosity which has provided for my unexpected needs; for the continued affection which so many of you have always shown me, and now more tenderly than ever; and yet above all for the joy it has given me to see the great ideas and emotions of true religion spring up in your field with such signs of promise. If my labours were to end to-day, I should still say, " Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," for I think few men have seen larger results follow such