TUCKY, ON THE 24TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, A.D.
1884, IN CHRIST CHURCH, LOUISVILLE.
BISHOP OF DELAWARE.
JOHN P. MORTON & CO., PRINTERS.
"PETER, SEEING HIM, SAITH TO JESUS, LORD, AND WHAT SHALL THIS MAN DO? JESUS SAITH UNTO HIM, IF I WILL THAT HE TARRY TILL I COME, WHAT IS THAT TO THEE?"--John xxi, 21, 22.
The Apostle John, in his great age, must have remarkably attracted the interest and veneration of his fellow Christians. After all his brother Apostles had finished their course, and, so far as we can ascertain, sealed their devotion to their Master with their blood; after all, with scarce an exception, who had seen Jesus in the flesh, had gone to the grave; nay, after the city of Jerusalem had been visited with that fearful desolation, and of the once glorious Temple not one stone was left upon another, St. John still lingered. What sacred and heart-stirring associations must have gathered around this intimate companion, this favored Apostle, this bosom friend, this Disciple whom Jesus loved, this sole representative of the age in which the Incarnate Son of God tabernacled upon the earth. As he continued with the Church year after year, there seemed to be confirmation given to the traditional interpretation of the words spoken by the risen Saviour in that remarkable manifestation on the shore of the lake of Galilee: "Then went this saying abroad among the brethren that that Disciple should not die. Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"' Tradition, even though it can be traced to Apostolic days, is not to be relied upon for the transmission of truth, and therefore the Lord has taken care that the great things pertaining to His life and work and kingdom should be preserved in written records, and the aged John was among those selected for this important duty. He is careful to inform his readers that he did not himself so understand his Saviour. He might have thought that his days would be prolonged until the advent of the Lord Jesus in His Glory, as Judge and King. That event seemed to Christians of his day to be impending. Or he might have applied our Saviour's words to His preliminary coming in the great judgment which swept away Judaism with all its institutions, polity, priesthood, temple, city, altar, and sacrifice, in order that the new kingdom of grace and world-wide salvation might be set up. "Tarry till I come." The distinguished commentator, Dr. Westcott, writes, "The exact force of the original is rather, 'While I am coming."' The coming is not regarded as a definite point in future time, but rather as a fact which is in slow and continuous realization. The prominent idea is of the interval to be passed over rather than of the end to be reached. "Tarrying" is the correlative to "following," and according to the manifold significance of this word it expresses the calm waiting for further light, the patient resting in a fixed position, the continuance in life. The coming of the Lord is primarily the second coming (parousia), but at the same time the idea of Christ's coming includes thoughts of His personal coming in death to each believer. And, yet further, the coming of Christ to the Society is not absolutely one. He came in the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus St. John did tarry till the great coming; nor is there any thing fanciful in seeing an allusion to the course of the history of the Church under the image of the history of the Apostles. The type of doctrine and character represented by St. John is the last in the order of development. In this sense he tarries still.
This certainly, we conceive, was within the scope of the prophetic utterance. While other Apostles should press on rapidly in the blood-stained path, labor with great energy and effect during a brief, busy day, to St. John would be allotted years of patient waiting and holy contemplation. While they were contending in the heat and rush of the battle, he would be with the Lord on the Mount, beholding the glory of the Only-begotten. Active following would be Peter's task until other hands should seize him and carry him whither he would not. Calm and trustful tarrying would be John's duty, while the Lord was developing his great purposes and preparing for His reign of righteousness. The manifold [2/3] wisdom of God is shown in the allotment to His servants of their various positions and duties. To the burning zeal and unwearied energy of Paul and Peter is owing the rapid extension of Christianity and planting of the Church in many lands. To the tranquil flow of John's lengthened years the Church of all climes and ages owes that precious Gospel, radiant with the splendor of Heaven. The like manner of administration still continues. The eye of the Master is upon the whole field. To each servant his appointed place and work. It is a source of unspeakable satisfaction to the servant, especially in trial times, to know that the choice of the position and of the task was not left to himself. That man labors cheerfully and hopefully who believes that a wisdom superior to that of earth hath marked out his course, and that a mighty unseen Hand is his constant support. And as the sphere of duty so the duration, longer or shorter, some called to follow with hurried steps, others bidden to wait and watch. The life-work of one crowded into a brief space, that of another protracted beyond expectation. It is not, for the most part, according to our calculations. The strong runner drops on the race-course, the standard-bearer fainteth in the rush of the battle, while many who appeared frail and incapable of bearing the burden and heat of the day are still at their post when evening shadows are falling.
The beloved and venerated man whose memory this Diocese gratefully cherishes--her first Bishop--was an illustration of some of the thoughts suggested by the text. He was appointed by the Lord to tarry while His great plans are advancing toward their consummation. Like the blessed Apostle, he outlived his generation. He continued among us, the representative of a former age, connecting the Church of his own day with that of the beginning of this century. For years he was the only living Bishop upon whose head were laid the trembling hands of White. He was the pupil of the meek and holy Griswold. He acted his part in early pioneer work with godly men, of whom none remain unto this day. He was Bishop of the Church in Kentucky when it was a frontier Diocese, just being reclaimed from the wilderness. He was one of the founders and the first secretary of our General Missionary Board. And as, like St. John, he was the surviving representative of a by-gone age, so, I think I am warranted in saying that he was not unlike that Apostle in the temper and disposition of his mind. Faith working by love was his governing principle--the ground-work of his character. In him the charity which is the bond of peace and of all virtues shone brightly. He accomplished his work by the loving heart and the persuasive [3/4] tongue rather than by the strong arm. He stood forth pleading with men in the spirit of Christ. He was not one to seek his own and push his way by main strength. But his teacher was One meek and lowly of heart, and in his case before honor was humility. I am not presuming, therefore, too much when I find a parallel between his benignant, affectionate longevity, in which his name stood for so many years at the head of our Episcopate, and that of the Beloved Apostle, around whom clustered the reverent sympathies of the earliest times of Christianity.
Benjamin Bosworth Smith, son of Stephen Smith and Ruth Bosworth, was born in Bristol, R. I., June 13, 1794, in the house built by his ancestor, Richard Smith. The vestiges of his childhood and youth are scanty, and the principal source from whence can be gathered the early development of his Christian life, to which I have had access, is a brief autobiographical sketch, penned by himself in his eighty-seventh year, for the gratification of his nephew, Bishop Howe, of Central Pennsylvania. This revival, after four score years, of early impressions and memories--this heart-voice summoning up the past--is of vastly more interest than a formal record of dates, settlements, removals and noticeable events, and the latter are left mainly for an appendix. Let the Lord's servant present in his own unstudied, simple style, the influences that affected his youth and tended to form his character. The sketch is headed:
Self-Made Man. MATTHEW III, 9; LUKE III, 8.
"He was the child of parents descended from a long line of pious ancestors, of whom records exist since the year 1672. His father dying when he was only five years old, no impression was derived from him but that which must always come from the example, precepts, and prayers of such ancestors as his, however remote. In his mother shone a few of their sterner virtues, perfect honesty and truth, exemplary patience, self sacrifice, and perseverance; but what most distinguished her was her depth of piety, warm affections, and the sweet influence she exerted, not only over her children, but over all who knew her. When eight years old, his mother put him upon a course of reading of English literature and history. Thus he became acquainted with Addison and authors of that type, and dragged through many volumes of Gibbon--dull reading for that time of life. [4/5] The volumes were drawn from the town library, of which his uncle was librarian. Some years later he was drawn by his eldest sister into the green fields of lighter reading and poetry. He soon became enamored with Shakespeare, Milton, and especially Cowper, who became his bosom companion for many years. Before he was eighteen he had picked up here and there some scraps of Greek and Latin, by the help of which, in the year 1813, he was able to enter Sophomore in Brown University, Providence, from which he graduated with far less classical and mathematical lore than can be found among the average students in Eton or Rugby. We would not say that that man was a self-made man who was altogether the creature of circumstances. He must at least have some little control over them. Still it must be admitted that circumstances have a very great influence over us all. About the age of eighteen the subject of this paper experienced a transforming influence from on high, constraining him to be right and to desire to do good. As soon as he entered college he assisted in establishing around the chancel of St. John's Church the first Sunday-school in Providence, and one of the first in the country. Soon he was drawn into attendance at evening meetings, and by degrees to take a leading part, trying to guide inquirers (and they were many) into the right way of getting good, and being good, and then of doing good. Shortly, he very naturally determined to become an Episcopal Clergyman. The lack of Clergy was so great that, by the advice of his Bishop and his Rector, he began the then usual course of theological studies, and at odd hours, during his last two years in college, had advanced so far that with eight months' hard study, after graduating in September, 18I6, he was prepared for an over-indulgent examination, and was admitted to Deacon's orders. The next year was broken into many fragments, but still was a somewhat studious year, and the next June he was ordained a Presbyter. Almost immediately thereafter he received an unexpected and sad summons to Southern Virginia, which changed the whole current of his ministerial life. There, and in Upper Virginia, he endured hardships and gained experience for four years as a country Clergyman which were of incalculable service to him in after years. Returning to New England, in 1823, he was settled for five years in Middlebury, Vermont, the best years for study he ever enjoyed. During his last year in college he obtained a Hebrew dictionary and a Hebrew Bible without points. By these poor means he obtained a very scanty knowledge of Hebrew, sufficient, however, to enable him to appreciate criticisms based upon Hebrew idioms. [5/6] He undertook some little critical study of the Greek New Testament by the help of Rosenmüller and other German critics. His time, however, was chiefly directed to Church history. He devoured Hooker, Mosheim, and Milner, and all books of the kind accessible, but he was far more indebted to a copy of Bingham, which about this time fell into his possession, and was for many years after consulted upon every point of Ecclesiastical history which from time to time would come up.
About this time the question was agitated of separating Vermont from the Eastern Diocese and making it an independent Diocese. For the purpose of advocating this, he started a small paper, The Episcopal Register. It was so far acceptable, there and elsewhere, that he was invited to become the editor of The Philadelphia Recorder, the only large central Church paper at that time. To escape the severity of the climate in Vermont, which was becoming dangerous to him, he gladly accepted it, and this changed the whole current of his after life.
He had been editor only two years when, in 1830, he was invited to become Rector of Christ Church, Lexington, Kentucky, and this led to his being consecrated, in 1832, the first Bishop of Kentucky.
The first years of his ministry in Lexington in this double capacity were remarkably harmonious and successful.
Thus far he speaks of himself. He does not mention that during this period the city was visited with that fearful scourge, the Asiatic cholera. During its prevalence he remained steadfast at his post, and the faithfulness and Christian heroism which he displayed were admirable. With characteristic humility he omits all reference in his own sketch to his bearing in this exigency. He not only suffered in sympathy with his stricken parishioners and fellow citizens, but he was called to endure the heaviest private sorrow which had ever fallen upon him, in the death of his beloved wife, who was one of the victims of the pestilence, and expired in his arms. This heart-rending event had so deeply pierced him that he seems unwilling to dwell upon it in the sketch referred to. I therefore interrupt his own memorial to introduce a brief account of these trial times from the hand of a member of his family. "Every one," it is stated, "who knows any thing of his history, will recall that episode of it, embalmed in the memories of those who knew him best, the part he took in alleviating the horrors of the cholera summer in Lexington. With the Roman Catholic priest, Gen. Leslie Coombs, and one or two physicians, he bore the [6/7] brunt of the storm, and day after day he went forth, leaving anxious wife and little children, to nurse the sick, shroud and carry out the dead and bury them in hastily prepared graves. I well remember that a young theological student, who was buried at the same time with our mother, was carried to the grave in a common cart, the hearses being otherwise engaged and not to be had, so dread was the mortality. A set of silver engraved with the text, "I was sick, and ye visited me," was the token of the appreciation of his services by the citizens of Lexington."
From this touching reference to his pastoral fidelity, I go back to an earlier period. While in the brief autobiography he makes mention of his struggles to procure an education, and to the crisis in his spiritual life when the great truths of redemption by Jesus Christ burst upon his soul with living reality, he omits to mention the steps by which he was led into the communion of the Episcopal Church. This was a departure from the principles of his ancestors, of whose godliness he ever spoke with reverence and gratitude. Such a change commonly involves more or less of mental trial. To what extent he may have felt this, and in what particular aspect the Church commended herself to his preference, we have no means of knowing. That his convictions were decided and his affection strong for the Church in which he labored so long and faithfully, he gave abundant evidence. A devoted, earnest ministry of sixty-seven years with no small share of toils and trials, conflicts and crosses, is a proof seldom given of self-sacrificing adherence.
The period at which Bishop Smith took this step was one of the Church's lowest depression. To one judging by outward appearance, she must have presented at that time comparatively small attractions. The great upheaval of the Revolution had immediate disastrous effects upon the Church, from which it took more than a generation to recover. The feelings of a large number of the Colonial Clergy were not unnaturally in favor of the Mother Country, so identified in their minds with their Mother Church. Nearly one half of them were Missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and were mainly dependent upon its aid for the support of their families. In consequence, a large number left their homes and Parishes, and of those who remained a considerable portion were not allowed to officiate in public. Without going into the motives that determined their course, it suffices to notice the historical fact that churches were closed, ministers were silenced or emigrated, and flocks were scattered. Prejudices previously existing were aggravated, and proved [7/8] formidable obstructions to the revival of the Church. The remnant who continued attached to her principles, among whom were some leading patriots, took measures, soon after the establishment of American independence, to rebuild the shattered edifice. Deputies from seven States organized a General Convention, and a branch of the Episcopate was planted on American soil. But it required long years of labor and patience ere the declension was arrested and symptoms of resuscitation became apparent. In 1761, according to reports made to the Bishop of London, there were some two hundred and fifty Clergymen officiating in those Colonies which afterward became the United States, about ninety of whom were Missionaries. In the Journal of General Convention of 1804, the number on the roll is two hundred and eighteen; in that of 1811 there are but one hundred and eighty, although no returns were then made from Virginia and Delaware. The tone of most of the Diocesan Reports in the early Journals is far from cheering. When, therefore, your first Bishop joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, it was with a feeble and apparently declining body that he identified himself. The Church was small in numbers, laboring under popular distrust and dislike, and not very attractive in ceremonial, according to the taste of the present day. Zeal was languid, the spiritual life feeble, and the prevalent style of preaching controversial or ethical, with scanty unction, fervor, or power.
To this repelling aspect of the Church there were, however, exceptions. There were oases in the arid desert. And, in the providence of God, the lot of the man of whom I am speaking was cast near one of these green places. In 1804 the Rev. Alexander V. Griswold became Rector of the Church in, Bristol, and in the year 1811 he was elected Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, comprising the whole of New England except the State of Connecticut. He presented the great truths of the Gospel with a directness and fervor then little known, and magnified Christ by his life as well as by his teaching. Under his ministration the little flock which called him to be their pastor became a strong and flourishing Church. The town was blessed with a remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit, if we may judge of the fountain by the stream; very many were awakened to righteousness, and not a few of those who began a new life attached themselves to the Church of which Bishop Griswold was Rector. As this season of general interest in spiritual things and great enlargement of the Episcopal Church in his native town borders on the period of which Bishop Smith speaks, in alluding to the beginning of his religious history, [8/9] there can be little doubt that he was greatly indebted to Bishop Griswold's ministry, both for his decision to become a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and his choice of the Episcopal Church as his spiritual home, and of her ministry as his calling. From the example and influence of that apostolic man he learned, as did hundreds of others, to love and venerate the Church which he represented. Under the same wise and faithful guidance he pursued his theological, studies, and was trained in early evangelistic work, Bishop Griswold's students being employed by him as helpers in pastoral duties. The character and spirit of the instructor were naturally the model of the pupil, and in his subsequent protracted ministry the scholar was the master's epistle. Among the fellow-students of Bishop Smith, during his preparatory course, were the Rev. J. J. Robertson, afterward our Missionary in Greece; Stephen H. Tyng, so eminent as a preacher; and James Wallis Eastburn, elder brother of the late Bishop Eastburn, of Massachusetts, and author of the Trinity hymn,
"O holy, holy, holy Lord,
Bright in Thy deeds and in Thy name."
It was in connection with the latter intimate friend that Bishop Smith speaks of "an unexpected and sad call to Virginia." This was occasioned by the failure of Mr. Eastburn's health, leading him to resign his Parish and to have recourse to a sea voyage, from which he never returned. Mr. Smith took charge of his Church at Onancock, Virginia, and afterward of Charlestown, in the same Diocese.
Proceeding to the elevation of Mr. Smith to the Episcopate, we observe that this order of the ministry had not been exempt from the unfavorable influences that had been felt in the Church at large. Three Bishops had been consecrated in England and one in Scotland, and yet Bishop White says that "in 1811 the Convention met under very serious and well-founded apprehensions that the American Church would be again subjected to the necessity of having recourse to the Mother Church for the Episcopacy, or else of continuing it without the canonical number, which might be productive of great disorder in the future." In 1808 two only were present in the House of Bishops--White and Claggett, the latter of whom had well-nigh been prevented from attending by severe indisposition. In 1811 Bishop Claggett was arrested by illness on his way to the Convention and was compelled to return. Bishop Moore, of New York, had been visited with a paralytic stroke, and was confined to his chamber. Bishop Provost was unable to journey, but promised, if possible, to [9/10] assist if the consecration were held in the city of New York. With this expectation, Bishops White and Jarvis, who composed the House, after the rising of the Convention came to that city, as did the two Bishops elect--Hobart and Griswold. To the last hour there was danger of disappointment. Bishop Provost had suffered a relapse; but finally he found himself strong enough to attend, and thus the business was happily accomplished."
This consecration was not only memorable inasmuch as it obviated the necessity of a renewed application to the Church abroad, but also on account of the character of the men who were then invested with the Episcopal Office. Bishops Hobart and Griswold, both men of mark, while strongly contrasted in many respects, were alike in zealous and energetic devotion to their work, and in the decided impression which was made by their lives and labors. From that period, partly we may suppose through their efforts, though other influences and other men were at work to produce a favorable change, the Protestant Episcopal Church began to revive. The ebb tide had run out and the current began to flow in an opposite direction. From many of her pulpits there came no uncertain sound, and a new spirit of hope and courage dawned upon the long depressed Zion. But this reanimation was limited in its extent, spreading very slowly and not far beyond the old Dioceses on the Atlantic border. The country beyond the Alleghany Mountains was terra incognita, associated in the Eastern mind with vast forests, mighty rivers, and roaming savages. Little was attempted in the way of Missionary exploration. The Church had been more engaged in strengthening the things that remained that were ready to die, than in pushing her conquests into new fields. Timid and hesitating were the first movements Westward. In 1811 Bishop White writes, "On the Journal of the last Triennial Convention, the providing for an Episcopacy in the Western States was held out as a desirable object. Circumstances having prevented the acting on this business, it was again held out as a matter to be kept in view." "The hindrances to the carrying into effect the design were the difficulty of selecting a suitable person and that of supporting him." And these difficulties continued to be so formidable that if the Eastern Church kept the matter in view it did nothing more for twenty years. Philander Chase, in the spirit of a true Missionary, threw himself into the wilderness, and became Bishop of Ohio and the Pioneer of Western Episcopacy. But his bold venture, so stimulating and productive of subsequent fruit, was individual and spontaneous. With the General Convention of 1832 a new [10/11] era dawned. The unprecedented event of the consecration of four Bishops took place in the city of New York. Two of these were for Western Dioceses, and one of them was the subject of this memorial discourse. On the 31st day of October, 1832, in St. Paul's Chapel, in the city of New York, Benjamin Bosworth Smith was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky by Bishop White, assisted by Bishops Brownell, of Connecticut, and H. U. Onderdonk, Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania. Of the removal of Mr. Smith to Kentucky and his early ministry at Lexington I have already spoken. In this transfer, as well as in his acceptance of the Episcopal office, he was undoubtedly governed by the principles which he afterward inculcated upon young men preparing for the ministry. "My instructions to the theological students under my care were never to bring about a change by their own action--to labor to fill their office in the station God had assigned them--to fill it to overflowing, and a blessing would surely follow either there or in a larger field." In such advice he evidently spoke his own deep conviction, and it must have been in consequence of his belief in a Divine call which he dared not refuse, that he assumed the burdens of an overseer of the flock. In truth there was then not much to attract a self seeking or ambitious mind in the office to which he was elected. The dignity was of little account to a worldly judgment, while the toils, self-denials, anxieties, and discouragements were obvious. Hard work, slender compensation, few helpers, scanty means, inveterate prejudice opposing every step and thwarting his best endeavors, and often darkening transient gleams of success, were bound up with the charge. Indifference, ungodliness, and vice were of course to be encountered, and to the great majority of the religiously disposed the aspect of Christianity presented by his Church was unacceptable. In his own words, "Patient of results and persevering through all difficulties, he was in some measure prepared for the arduous and exposing duties of a Missionary Bishop. In a State almost wholly unsupplied with good roads or public conveyances, and in parts very wild and rough, and among inhabitants more entirely alienated from our Mother than the people of any other State in the Union, he entered upon them and persevered in them for forty years, through many difficulties and discouragements, but not wholly without some little success, thank God."
At the time of Bishop Smith's election there were in the Diocese seven officiating Presbyters, six Candidates for Orders, seven organized Parishes, three buildings for public worship, three more in prospect-communicants, a little over two hundred. For the many years [11/12] following, until infirmities precluded active services, Bishop Smith was "in labors more abundant." He made many of his journeys on horseback, not unfrequently on foot, penetrating into the remotest parts of the State in the discharge of Episcopal duties, and of those of Superintendent of Common Schools, to which office he had been appointed. This mode of itinerancy involved, of course, much hardship and fatigue, but these toils and travels conduced to the improvement of his health and strength, and no doubt contributed to his length of days. His duties in connection with public education were rendered with conscientious fidelity, and much of his time was subsequently given to the work of instruction in large female schools, admirably conducted by his wife and daughters.
In Episcopal visitations the Bishop's affectionate disposition, genial manners, and interest in children, a noted trait of character, made him a welcome guest in the house, while his services in the Church were solemn and impressive. He presented the word of life as one who had himself felt its power, and realized the weight of the message with which he was intrusted. In all that he did in his ministrations, public and private, his heart was thoroughly engaged. He was a man in earnest, working under the Master's eye, and watching for souls as one that was to give account. Gentle and unassuming in his deportment, he was resolute in the performance of duty, and was bold in rebuke as well as affectionate in exhortation. He spake the truth in love, but at any cost or risk of offending spake the truth. The fruits of a godly ministry, continued for more than a generation, are not to be measured by immediate and apparent results. Whatever he was himself permitted to see with his own eyes of good accomplished was but a small part of the ultimate results. The seed is committed to the furrow. What immediate harvest the sower may find is but the first fruits, an earnest of the final ingathering. They who follow him will certainly reap many a full ear, and in the great day "he that went forth weeping, sowing the precious seed, shall doubtless return with joy, bringing his sheaves with him." Not the least part of the good effected by such a man is that wrought by holy example, the living sermon, the unstudied outflow of religion, pure and undefiled.
Much of the period of Bishop Smith's resident Episcopate was eventful and troublous. Both in the Church and in the nation there were storms and convulsions. Religious controversies were intense and acrimonious, and of the tremendous conflict that shook the land I need not speak. No one, who was man enough to have convictions and express them, could be thrown into the midst of such agitations, [12/13] and not sometimes offend those who differed from him in opinion, or feel himself aggrieved. Sensitive and averse from contention, he was a man to suffer keenly from such wounds; but not to resent them. When he thought himself harshly judged he committed himself to Him who judgeth righteously. When with lapse of time excitements, ecclesiastical and civil, subsided, old friendships and former intimacies were renewed. His closing years were those of reconciliation and harmony. The mellow sunset was unobscured by any clouds of estrangement and distrust. And the trial, which for the moment pressed heavily upon his spirit, conduced to the ripening of his Christian graces and rendered him more meet for the inheritance.
In private life the subject of this discourse was one to draw forth all that is pleasant and delightful. His home was animated by tenderness and cheerfulness. There was no restraint in the domestic sanctuary to the flow of affections and sympathies. There his patience and love shed around him an atmosphere of peace, and his pleasant words were as a honey-comb. His family being a large one, and his life so prolonged, sorrow and death could not be excluded. If himself spared beyond the usual limit, it could only be on the condition of resigning beloved ones to the tomb. Repeatedly was his dwelling a house of mourning. Among the all things working for his good were frequent death-bed partings and many tears. But the chastening did its work and drew him nearer to God.
As an evidence of the high estimation in which Bishop Smith was held, outside' of his own household of faith, I quote a few lines from a tribute to his memory from the Necrology of Brown University for 1883-4, published in the Providence Journal of June 18, 1884. "In all the various positions which Bishop Smith held during his long life, he gained and kept the confidence and affectionate esteem of all who knew him by his kindly and benevolent disposition, his integrity and fidelity in the discharge of every duty, and the excellence of his character. Not only in his public and official relations was he efficient and faithful, but also in private and social life he was ever busied in doing good with mind and heart and hand. One incident has recently come to the knowledge of the writer of this sketch, which illustrates his truly Christian passion for doing good to all men, as he followed in the footsteps of his Master. It illustrates too the impression which every where he quietly made by his Christian character and life. In 1857, he sailed for Europe, intending to spend some months abroad for the recovery of his health. During the voyage he conducted divine service on board the steamship and also gave lectures [13/14] during the week. He took a kindly interest in all whose acquaintance he made on board. and especially sought out among the steerage passengers those who were ill or in needy circumstances, and was for the time a pastor to them. In particular he became interested in an English family of several children, the mother of whom had recently lost her husband in this country, and was returning to England quite destitute of means, and with only money enough for the passage to Liverpool. Bishop Smith called the passengers together and told the story of need, and asked that a purse might be made up for the family, and the sum of eighty dollars was collected on the spot. After this had taken place a gentleman arose and told the Bishop that he had a few words to say to him on behalf of his fellow passengers. He went on to express the sense of obligation they all felt for his services as their minister during the voyage, and for the benefits they had received from his intercourse, and asked him to accept a present from them, which might perhaps enable him to prolong a little his stay in Europe. With these words he handed him a purse containing eighty pounds sterling, so that the good Bishop unexpectedly received from this, his Parish on board the ship, and as if in return for the good deed done to the poor family, a pound for every dollar he had raised for them."
A note-book of his early ministry was concluded with the words, indicative of his hopeful disposition, "I desire to thank God for three supreme mercies of my life-first, for giving me a saintly mother; next, for having called me by His grace to the sacred ministry; and, lastly, that He has blessed me through a chequered life with a cheerful, hopeful faith, which has enabled me to rise above the present clouds and darkness and see better days in the future." One of his family dwells upon "the tenacity with which he held his convictions when once founded on the basis of truth and reason, his catholic embrace of the whole wide world of religion and literature, his intense belief in the triumph of good, even when things looked darkest. How often was he heard to utter the sentiment that this is a beautiful world, in which exists more good than evil, more beauty than deformity, more innocent than noxious animals and plants."
In 1868, upon the death of Bishop Hopkins, who had been consecrated with him, according to the rule of seniority adopted by the House of Bishops, Bishop Smith became Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. His growing infirmities disabling him from active labors, he had been relieved in his Diocesan work by the election of an Assistant Bishop in 1866. He soon after took up his residence with one of his daughters in the city [14/15] of New York, and from this time--parted from his Diocese in body, not in spirit--was mainly occupied with his duties as Presiding Bishop. In this capacity he took order for the consecration of forty-nine Bishops, from Bishop Beckwith, of Georgia, to Bishop Watson, of East Carolina, nearly five times the number composing the House at the time of his own consecration. The last occasion on which he himself acted as consecrator was on the 20th of October, 1883, when Dr. Henry C. Potter was consecrated Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of New York. For several General Conventions prior to the last, he was able to do little more than preside at the opening of each day's session of the House of Bishops and conduct the devotions. At the closing service of the Convention of 1880, he read the Pastoral Letter with his usual strong voice and distinct enunciation. The Convention of 1883 was opened with what might be considered a Centennial Memorial service in Christ Church, Philadelphia, and it was cause of sincere congratulation that the venerable Presiding Bishop could attend, although but for a brief time. He pronounced the declaration of absolution, and at one of the morning sessions in Holy Trinity Church the benediction.
The completion of fifty years of his Episcopate was signalized by an appropriate religious service on the 31st of October, 1882, in St. Paul's Church, New York, where his consecration took place. On this occasion there was presented to him a congratulatory address signed by fifty-five of his brother Bishops, a like address from the Board of Managers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, and one from the Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of New York, engrossed and illuminated on vellum, recounting his services to the Church. The last public duty in which he took part was at a special meeting of the House of Bishops, on the 24th of April, in the city of New York, called for the purpose of filling vacant Missionary Jurisdictions in Africa and China. It being found that the House lacked two members in order to form a quorum, a meeting was held at the residence of the Senior Bishop of New York, himself an invalid, which Bishop Smith attended and closed with his farewell benediction. On the morning of the same day he partook of the Holy Communion, in his own house, in company with three of his brethren in the Episcopate and several members of his family. This service was manifestly a most "Divine and comfortable thing" to his spirit. His manner was that of one lying at the gate called Beautiful, waiting for the everlasting doors to open. This uniting in the action of the House of Bishops, on the 24th of April, was the last time of [15/16] leaving his dwelling until the day when he was carried out in his coffin. He went to his bed breathing the "Nunc dimitis" of Simeon. Eagerly, but not impatiently, "In the confidence of a certain faith, in the comfort of a reasonable, religious and holy hope, in favor with God, and in perfect charity with the world," he waited for the summons, retaining to the last the full possession of his mental faculties. On the 31st day of May, 1884, surrounded by those who loved him, he resigned his ransomed soul "into the hands of a faithful Creator and most merciful Savior."
It needs not that I should add to this lengthened tribute aught in the style of a studied eulogium. My aim has been to present him as he really was, let him sit for his own portrait, and exhibit his own character. That character was guileless and transparent. None can mistake the man, or fail to love and honor the Bishop. Through years to come I can not doubt that, amid the hills and valleys of this fair State, his memory will be fragrant, and by coming generations be always pronounced with reverence and love the name of the first Bishop of Kentucky.