ELDER ROBERT C. LEACHMAN

HAS FALLEN ASLEEP.

Scarcely had we announced in our last paper the latest intelligence we had received, when we received the painful tidings that he was supposed to be dying, with a summons to hasten to his bedside. We took the first train on Friday morning the 9th, at 5 o’clock a.m., at about the very minute he breathed his last. We reached Alexandria, Va., at about 7 p.m. of the same day, where we were informed that his spirit had departed, and as we could get no farther that night, we took the train the next morning with many sorrowing brethren and sisters from Alexandria and Washington, and arrived at his house at Manassas, Prince Wm. Co., at about 11 o’clock a.m., and found arrangements were made for his funeral to be attended at half past one o’clock on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Our dear brother Leachman was born of the flesh, and born again of the incorruptible word, was baptized by the late Elder Samuel Trott, in the fellowship of the Bethlehem church, in about the year 1837, licensed to preach the gospel in 1838, and ordained to the work of the ministry, at Bethlehem, in 1839, and continued to hold his residence, except what time he was driven from his home during the late war, and finally died, all within five miles of the place of his birth. As a minister of the gospel he was truly one of Zion’s sons that had grown up in his youth, and polished after the similitude of a palace. From the time of his first connection with the church of God, no blemish has soiled his character; as an humble devoted follower of the Lamb, and servant of the church, no one could be more devoted or indefatigable. Regardless of his own ease or pecuniary interests, he labored more abundantly than any of his contemporaries. Besides the pastoral charge of all the churches in Fairfax, Alexandria, Prince William., Fauquier and Loudoun counties [after the death of our lamented brother Trott], he traveled very extensively attending associations and other meetings in many and distant states.

All who are acquainted with him concede that his gifts for the ministry were of the very highest order. His manner was bold and fearless of man, and at the same time as meek, humble and tender in his feelings as any one we have ever known. His gift for arguments, illustration and elucidation of the doctrine were powerful, clear and unanswerable, and his address easy, and remarkably engaging. Thousands even of those who did not love the doctrine were fond of hearing him, and respected him for his talents while they had no relish for the truth which he so forcibly proclaimed.

During the late cruel war his house and farm were alternately occupied by the belligerent armies of the North and South, and he was driven from his home and his buildings destroyed, and he was reduced from comfortable circumstances, to an exile without where to lay his head. Although a man of peace, and opposed to strife and bloodshed, he was arrested by the Federal powers, and incarcerated in loathsome and filthy prisons, because he could not conscientiously take an oath which they who demanded it of him would not allow him keep inviolate. After being liberated from prison he spent his time chiefly in the bounds of our churches in North Carolina until the war was over, and then returned to the churches of his pastoral charge, faithfully serving them until released from his excessive labors by death. Notwithstanding all the depressing circumstances he had to encounter, the churches greatly prospered under his labors, and now are left in a very destitute condition. But one ordained minister remains among the churches in that whole region. Our young brother, A.B. Francis, who was ordained to the work last August, whose standing and gifts are promising; but the field is exceedingly wide for one to occupy alone. May the Lord strengthen and sustain him and send others to his assistance.

Brother Leachman took a violent cold from riding on horseback some twenty-five or thirty miles through a very tedious storm, in January, which prostrated him and developed alarming symptoms, but from this prostration he partially recovered, and ventured out in the yard of his house to do some work which was needed; as the ground was wet, and the weather uncomfortable, he was taken down with more alarming symptoms than before, congestion and inflammation of the bowels, in which for weeks he could retain no nourishing food on his stomach. He suffered severe pain, and became very much reduced both in flesh and strength. But very slight hopes were entertained of his recovery for several weeks. Through his illness his mind was stayed on God, his hope and confidence were firm and unshaken to the end, and he remarked to us, when on our former visit, that during his sickness his principal comfort had been in the contemplation of the sovereignty of God. Before his death he selected to be sung at his funeral the 15th hymn of our Baptist Book:

“Keep silence, all created things,
And wait your Maker’s nod,” etc.

He said to a brother, he had heard much said about it being hard to die; but he found it harder to live.

“Fearless he entered death’s cold flood,
In peace of conscience closed his eyes;
His only trust was Jesus’ blood,
In sure and certain hope to rise.”

Sister Leachman, who had not left his bedside scarcely for a moment, seems broken down with grief and exhaustion. May God sustain and comfort her in this hour of deep affliction, and may those who so dearly loved our brother, remember his widow, and see that she lacks no comfort they are able to supply.

He leaves one brother, who attended faithfully on him, and two sisters, one of whom is in Georgia, the other has been with him throughout his sickness, showing a sisterly regard and rendering all the service in her power. He had no children. Of his other relatives in the flesh our knowledge is limited. But in the churches of our faith, no one has occupied a higher place, and his death has overwhelmed many in grief and sorrow.

At his funeral, in submission to the wishes expressed by the deceased and his family, we preached to a solemn assembly, from Revelation 20:11,12. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in those books, according to their works.”

We have been intimately acquainted with our dead departed brother ever since he became a Baptist, about thirty years ago, and we are the only surviving minister who set him apart by solemn ordination to the gospel ministry more than thirty years ago. We have traveled thousands of miles in company, and, with the exception of the dark days of the late war, there has no year passed in which we have not been together at several of our associations. It has never been our unhappy lot to differ on any point of doctrine or order, nor has there ever existed between us the least dissatisfaction or abatement of sincere love and fellowship. Our dear brother was, since January, in the 58th year of his age.

Middletown, N.Y.
March 1, 1869.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 366 – 370