Sanctity and Other Sermons
by the Rev. Ferdinand Cartwright Ewer, S.T.D.
New York: E. & J. B. Young & Co, 1884
Memoir of the Reverend Ferdinand Cartwright Ewer, S.T.D.
By Charles Taber Congdon.
FERDINAND CARTWRIGHT EWER was born in the town of Nantucket, in the island of the same name, and in the State of Massachusetts, on the twenty-second day of May in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and twenty-six. The place of his birth had the usual insular characteristics. If there was a certain narrowness, there was also a considerable activity, particularly of religious thought. Isolated communities, especially when they are of an original religious foundation, not uncommonly lapse into bigotry or latitude of speculation. In Nantucket the influence of the Society of Friends, if not predominant, was at least marked; and if it had been different, the maternal grandparents were Quakers, Dr. Ewer's mother being ("if anything," he says) a Unitarian. His paternal grandparents were Unitarian Quakers, followers, we may presume, of that well-known schismatic, Elias Hicks. The period of Dr. Ewer's birth was one of what is called religious inquiry, especially in Massachusetts, and the Unitarian controversy, the natural result of the theology of Calvin, only came after several generations of the clergy of the State had fallen either into doubt or indifference. As a child, at a time when men had become more intellectually interested in such matters, Dr. Ewer must have listened to many discussions of the doctrines of the Trinity, of the Atonement, of Original Sin, of Predestination, and of Conversion; and it is not improbable that these early experiences gave him a taste for doctrinal speculation, which afterward developed into something much higher and more important. The father of Dr. Ewer was Peter Folger Ewer, an eminent merchant of Nantucket. His mother was Mary (Cartwright) Ewer. He was the first child born of a second marriage. "When he was three years old his father determined to remove to Providence, R. L, there to engage in commercial business. With this city his earliest memories were connected, and his affection for it lasted through his life. In after years, when travelling, he would go out of his way to visit it; he thought it, as he says, "the most charming place on the face of the earth." He mentions that here, when he was about five years old, his mother taught him the Lord's Prayer. He was put early to school, and made the usual progress. He says, curiously enough, "my principal amusement was to play church ('Episcopal Church,' of course). My mother humored me in allowing me to arrange the furniture in my room for a permanent pulpit, reading-desk, and chancel; also in preparing for me a surplice and stole, and sometimes in allowing me light for an evening service." The child was, indeed, the father of the man. Another amusing circumstance which Dr. Ewer mentions in his notes is that when a boy he had such an invincible repugnance to declamation that, for two months, without the knowledge of his family, he absented himself from school rather than attempt it. This was certainly a singular beginning for one of the most accomplished pulpit orators of his time.
The family of Dr. Ewer again removed, in 1834, from Providence to the city of New York. He says that he set up his church establishment in his new quarters. He was put into a school on East Broadway, kept by a Frenchman, where he learned nothing except a few French words and "the origin of the names of the days of the week." He was soon transferred to another school, kept by Solomon Jenners, in Henry Street, where he made good progress in the elementary branches, except spelling, which he "found an intellectual impossibility to master," adding frankly that he has not yet mastered it. He used occasionally to attend service at St. Thomas' Church, at the corner of Houston Street and Broadway, of which Rev. Dr. Hawks was rector. More frequently he went to All Saints' Church, in Henry Street, and occasionally to the Friends' Meeting-house, in Rose Street, which he found "an unendurable place." No pains were taken with his religious education, though his moral training was attended to. Now and then his mother would see that he said his prayers at night. He grew up with "Unitarian impressions," casually received, whatever they may be.
In 1836, when he was nine years old, young Ewer was placed at the boarding-school of Charles G. Greene, at Jamaica Plains, near Boston. He seems to have made good progress in his arithmetical studies, and he composed and delivered a speech upon "Our Forefathers"a fair specimen of juvenile rhetoric. The boys had a speaking society, as a member of which he began "to spread his elocutionary wings." He left Jamaica Plains in 1838, when, going back to Nantucket, he was placed in the school of Mr. James B. Thompson, author of a once popular treatise on the Higher Mathematics. The subsequent winter was spent by the family in Providence, where the lad attended the Greene Street school, in which Margaret Fuller was either then or afterward an assistant teacher. He returned in 1839 to Nantucket, where he spent the next five years. About this time he began "to collect books," and as illustrative of his love of preserving everything, it may be mentioned that some of the volumes then acquired stand to-day upon the shelves of his library. The preparation for college had begun, for a college training had been resolved upon. To the study of the classics he appears to have come with very little of avidity; but having changed his teacher, and with an impression that the time for trifling had gone by, lie applied himself resolutely to the study of Greek and Latin with good success. Now, too, at the age of sixteen years, his natural interest in religious matters, already noticed, was by no means abated. He has left upon record some account of his thoughts and speculations at that time, and in that rarefied atmosphere of Unitarianism. He was at first astonished to find the whole body of Unitarians so very small; he began, with the assistance of the Bible, to investigate for himself; and he found himself quite unable to reconcile the Unitarian hypothesis with Holy Writ. Historical study also softened his opinion of the Roman Catholic Church. Then the question of baptism coming in, he decided against immersion. Even then he thought that the Episcopalians had the best of the historical argument. Then, having determined to be baptized somewhere, he went to the Rev. F. W. Pollard, Rector of Trinity Church, Nantucket, asked for the administration of the rite, and was received into the Church, on the 24th of March, 1843. He has left a partial list of the books which he read at the timean extraordinary one, it must be admitted, for a boy of sixteen years. He mentions Pierson on the Creed; Burnett on the Thirty-nine Articles; Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History; D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation; the Confessions of St. Augustine; Whately on Common Prayer. Unquestionably this early reading gave a bent to the mind of Dr. Ewer, and a taste for theological inquiry which it never lost. He was right in afterward saying that this was an important era of his life. It was certainly one of intellectual activity. He was studying theology; he was editing a MS. newspaper; he was preparing for college; and he was undoubtedly reading all the time on general literature. Residence in his island-home had given him intellectual habits, and this he always cheerfully acknowledged.
Dr. Ewer was matriculated at Harvard University in 1844. He was a regular and methodical student, and little seems to have occurred to break the routine of his university pursuits. One tendency of his mind is shown by his preference for mathematics, when selecting from the elective studies. He had also a special liking for other branches of scientific knowledge. His researches in German Literature about this time had brought back some of his old skeptical notions. He began to doubt the inspiration of Scripture, and in his style he seems to have caught something of the affectations of Carlyle, as many college lads did at that day. All his religious belief had been based upon his acknowledgment of the plenary inspiration of the Bible, and when this was withdrawn, everything else went with it. He was, to use his own words, "left at loose upon the sea of unbelief."
The quiet of his university life was, during his Junior year, unpleasantly interrupted. Financial reverses overtook his father, and his withdrawal from Harvard seemed a necessary consequence. There was a proposition that he should go on with his studies at "West Point. For this plan he had no relish, and though he reluctantly acquiesced, he was never called upon to make the sacrifice. Some arrangement was made by which he was enabled to remain at the university until his graduation, in 1848. In a class of sixty, he graduated eighteenth, delivering upon Commencement Day a disquisition on "The Indian Race." He has recorded under this date the continued fluctuations of his religious opinions; his determination to sever himself from the Church, and his confidence that "Nature" would satisfy all the aspirations of his soul, and answer all troublesome questions, if it was proper that they should be answered. There is a sincerity evident in this sciolism which entitles it to respect. The time for earnest and settled faith had not yet come. It may be harmless to quote from his Diary kept at this time, the following passage: "This day I formally sunder the bonds which have for five or six years connected me with the Protestant Episcopal Church. And now my soul swings from all forms, creeds, and books. I sweep all away and start for myself. I know nothing but the outward and the inward, viz., Nature and my Soul. The universe is my body which is to educate my soul forno one knows; for something, for Nature says nothing is without a purpose. "What do I know of Bibles? Do I wish for an answer, I will go to Nature. If it is proper for me to know, she will answer. This is no sudden step of mine. But this day I formally take that step which in practice I had taken long ago. This is the record." Such an avowal as this is valuable as showing the religious activity of Dr. Ewer's mind. When he wrote these words he was nearer than he thought to Christianity. He was thinking, it is true, very inaccurately, but with perfect honesty and sincerity.
After graduation came the difficult question of a profession. Dr. Ewer's first impulse was to become a teacher, a calling to which he felt specially drawn, and for which all who knew him will acknowledge that he had a special and natural fitness. Something he was compelled to do, for he had become dependent upon his own exertions. He thought of opening a school for young ladies, and afterward endeavored to procure a position as instructor of a school; but he was compelled to abandon these plans. He determined at last to become a civil engineer, and entered an office, in Boston, to prepare himself for the business. But his prospects were not very encouraging, and just at this time (1849) he turned his eyes, with so many others, toward California. "I have no gold fever," he says pathetically in his Diary, "I only desire not to starve." He found friends whose assistance enabled him to join one of the numerous companies of emigrants then so common. He sailed for San Francisco in April, 1849, arriving in September of that year, where he found his father, who had preceded him. Several plans for going into business proved abortive. For a little while he was in a surveyor's office drafting maps. Then he quite accidentally drifted into The Pacific News, of which he soon became the editor. This post, for creditable reasons, he soon resigned, becoming editor and part proprietor of The Sacramento Transcript. The enterprise, however, soon failed, leaving Dr. Ewer in debt. He returned to San Francisco "without a penny in the world." An attempt to establish a Sunday newspaper called The Despatch was another failure, and he accepted (having no money) a position as reporter for The Alta Californian. In this he remained until early in 1852. He admits in the Diary above quoted that he saw "a great deal of wild life, and was in the lowest depths of infidelity and atheism;" but this statement must be received with a considerable degree of allowance. Through various vicissitudes and mental and spiritual experiences he still struggled on; but it is proper that he should tell in his own language the interesting story of his return to a belief in Christianity. The following is extracted from a record of his life, under date of January, 1852:
"This is a very important year. For this winter the whole tenor of my life was changed, principally by a single remark of a friend, Mr. Louis K. Lull, who one day about this time joined our club table, at Randall's, at which I was present, of course, on my occasional visits to San Francisco from the Legislature. I was and had long been an infidel. I was always trying to make converts. 1 attacked Mr. Lull, at table, on the subject of Christianity. One day he stopped me with the remark that he did not wish to hold any conversation with me on the subject; that he knew I was a follower of Locke and an atheist. I told him such was a strange position for a man of sense to assume; that I was after truth, as every man should be; that if I had it, and he had it not, he surely should be willing to be set right. If he had it, and I had it not, I surely should be willing to be set right. He said if I was not bound up in the chains of inevitable prejudice I had better read Cousin's 'Psychology.' This was one of our textbooks in college, but I had not really studied it properly. I told him I should do so. . . . As I read and thought and studied, I found my whole belief irredeemably tumbled into ruins. I was thrown back to Christianity. I gave up 'seeing life,' began attending Trinity Church, where, every Sunday, I sat in Henry Meiggs's pew. I ceased, of course, my infidel conversations, for I was confounded.
"There was one more chance remark made by a friend that had a marked and effectual influence in changing the tenor of my whole subsequent life. The circumstances were as follows: During the spring of 1853 I was at Marysville for a few days. Rev. Mr. Bell, a Presbyterian clergyman, was at the same hotel with me. We were shut up by an inundation of the Yuba River. As we were sitting together at a stove in the bar-room, I asked him playfully how it happened that such a glorious good fellow as he should have thought of the staid profession of a clergyman. He said: 'I reasoned, Mr. Ewer, in this way: I belong to God by the highest of all titlesthe divine right of creation. As that is so, I am bound to do his service, bound to give my efforts in his cause.' This went like a bullet into my mind, and it rested there. I changed the conversation, but the remark weighed within me till I at last had given myself to His cause." The momentous conclusion of this, Dr. Ewer sums up as follows: "I decided to return to the Church, and to become a clergyman if God was willing to accept me." Dr. Ewer was then twenty-five years of age.
In July, 1853, Dr. Ewer was appointed to a place as warehouse clerk, in the San Francisco Custom-house. This made his circumstances comparatively easy, as he continued to report for The Times and Transcript, and for The Price Current. He records that, at this time, he paid up all his college debts with compound interest.
In January, 1854, Dr. Ewer, in connection with Mr. William H. J. Brooks, issued the first number of The Pioneer, a monthly magazine. He says, with quite pardonable complacency, "I was, indeed, quite a pioneer editor now, having edited and brought out the first political and Democratic newspaper on the Pacific coast, the first tri-weekly, the first daily in the interior of California; the first political and Democratic newspaper in the interior; the first literary weekly on the Pacific coast, and the first monthly magazine." The Pioneer, a very creditable publication, was never remunerative, and Dr. Ewer soon disposed of most of his pecuniary interest in it.
On December 9, 1854, in Grace Church, San Francisco, by the Right Rev. Bishop Kip, Dr. Ewer was married to Miss Sophia Mandell Congdon, formerly of New Bedford, Mass.
All this time Dr. Ewer's resolution to become a priest of the Church was sedulously maintained. In this he did not receive much encouragement, until he laid his plans before Bishop Kip, whose first advice to him was to return at once to the holy communion. His first application to be admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders was so coldly received by the Standing Committee of the Diocese, that, mortified and abashed, he withdrew it. He determined, however, to pursue a course of theological study; and in this he seems to have failed, at first, in obtaining any direction from those who were most competent to afford it. He went from rector to bishop, and from bishop to rector, but all were too busy to point out to him the way to the priesthood which he was afterward to adorn. But something may be forgiven the priest who condescended to recommend him to begin with "Horne's Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures." It was good advice at least, however grudgingly given; but it was acted upon instantly and with a will. Home was bought, and those theological studies began which ended only with the student's life. To Horne Dr. Ewer devoted a year, but it must be remembered that he was all this time attending to the duties of his position in the Custom-house. Bishop Kip began to be impressed by the persistent labors of this young man, so bent upon entering the ministry of the Church. Matters were at once made easy for his first examination, which he passed creditably, as he did subsequently the second and third. He tells us that he wrote his first sermon in February, 1857, from the text Joshua i. 9. He had probably himself found personal comfort in the words: "Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest." He was ordained deacon in Grace Church on the Sunday before Easter, by Bishop Kip, and preached his first sermonit was upon "Prayer" on Easter Day in the same church.
He said, at this time, to his bishop, that he was ready, nay, eager for work; that he did not desire a farthing from the diocese, but would support himself; but might he not go down to the southern part of San Francisco, hire a hall, and there establish a free church dependent only upon the Sunday offerings? But the bishop answered, "No; I have need of you elsewhere," and he then learned that his destination was Petaluma, a little agricultural town of 4,000 inhabitants. This, however, was abandoned. The bishop was also rector of Grace Church, and he wished to leave Dr. Ewer in charge as assistant minister. A resignation of the place in the Custom-house followed, and Dr. Ewer assumed his new office with the full assent of the vestry. "My clerical life is now begun," he writes in his Diary: "God send his grace upon my feeble efforts. Amen." Bishop Kip, in December, 1857 resigned the rectorship, to which Dr. Ewer was unanimously elected. He was ordained priest, January 17, 1858. He celebrated the Holy Eucharist for the first time on February 9, 1858, in private, at the bedside of a sick person. Dr. Ewer was elected one of the Standing Committee of the Diocese in June, 1858, and the next year was appointed its secretary. There is an abundant evidence of the success of Dr. Ewer as a clergyman in San Francisco. He won a very high reputation as a preacher, and his church was always crowded. In 1859, he was elected a delegate to the General Triennial Convention of the American Church. He had intended to visit the East, but so strong was the opposition to it in the church, that he abandoned, for the present, his plan, to be resumed during the following year. He was exceedingly anxious to visit the East, for there were very many who were very dear to him; his aged mother, from whom he had so long been parted, his sister, and others to whom he was fondly attached. His health, too, was precarious, and it must be remembered for how many years he had been an exile from the scenes of his youth. He offered a resignation of his rectorship, which the vestry refused to accept, and affairs were in this condition when he left California. He, with his family, left San Francisco, not without a premonition that he might never return, and this was destined to be fulfilled. But between himself and Grace Church there was only the kindliest feeling, and the future remained in the hands of Divine Providence. It is proper that the following resolution adopted by the vestry should be placed upon record:
"Resolved, That the letter of Mr. Ewer be entered on the minutes, and that his resignation as rector be not accepted, but remain subject to such action thereon as
in the judgment of the vestry may hereafter be deemed
"That the sincere regards of the vestry be tendered to Reverend Mr. Ewer, and that he be assured that the good wishes of the parish will attend him and his family wherever in the dispensation of Providence he may be called to labor."
In Bishop Kip's Annual Address to the California Convention, in May, 1860, he spoke as follows:
"I regret to state that the Rev. F. C. Ewer, Rector of Grace Church, San Francisco, has been obliged to return to the East by indisposition. At his first outset in the ministry, taking an important parish, he was most abundant in labors, and the work has proved too much for his constitution. We trust, however, that a few months will restore him, entirely recovered, to a congregation by whom he is so highly prized, and the diocese in which he holds so honorable a place."
Dr. Ewer arrived in New York, the scene of his future labors, May 12, 1860. He was thirty-four years old; more than half his life was spent, yet the life before him, how full was it to be of growth and accomplishment and great experiences! His first clerical work, apart from some accidental preaching, began at St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes, in New York, of which the Rev. Dr. Gallaudet was rector. His first engagement here was only for two months, during which time the offerings, upon which the church was mainly dependent, greatly increased. At the expiration of the engagement it was extended for six months. His popularity as a preacher continued to increase, and if he had desired mere worldly praise and success, he might have had both to his heart's content; but even at this time, he seems to have set little value upon either. Since his return to the East he had received many calls from important churches, which he declined with no more thought than was necessary for a conscientious decision. The duty at St. Ann's interested him, and he made himself somewhat acquainted with the sign language, that he might use it in leading the devotions of the peculiar and unfortunate parishioners. He cast many longing lingering looks back to his old parish in San Francisco, which was eagerly expecting his return. But there were many considerations, and among others that of his health, which residence at the East had greatly improved. Dr. Ewer's Diary shows that he gave to the matter of his return anxious and prayerful reflection. He felt that his prayers were answered, and that he must not go back. He was a very long while in coming to this decision, but he never repented it. The whole matter is recorded in particular detail in his Diary, but what is here given will be sufficient for the public eye.
Dr. Ewer still remained at St. Ann's. There was some effort made to found a new parish expressly for his ministry, but the Civil War had deprived men of means, the subscriptions lagged, and the project was finally abandoned. What was to come next? Dr. Ewer wrote in his Diary: "This was the darkest time of my whole life. God was trying me. What should I do with my poor family? One hundred and thirty-three dollars was all I had left in the world. It would not support us more than three weeks. But God was in the heavens, and the very hairs of our head were numbered by him. He knewHe knewand that was enough."
On the 5th of May, 1861, Dr. Ewer preached in St. Ann's his sermon on "The National Crisis," which by general request was published. The connection with St. Ann's was renewed for another half year. His old California friends in the First California Regiment wanted him for their chaplain, but though his "war fever" was high, he felt obliged to decline the appointment. Several times during the war he received similar offers. In October, 1861, the connection with St. Ann's was renewed for a third period of six months. Zealous in all good works, he read about this time a paper before the Sanitary Association of New York, which was published by the Association. On the 22d of February, 1862, he delivered, in the Academy of Music, an oration on "The World's Obligation to War," under the auspices of the New York Seventh Regiment. About a fortnight after, the oration was repeated, by request, in Clinton Hall. He also visited at this time the Army of the Potomac. A call to the Church of the Holy Communion he felt obliged to decline.
In November, 1862, Dr. Ewer was called to the rectorship of Christ Church in New York City. The vestry of St. Ann's in accepting his resignation as assistant minister, wrote to him as follows: "Your name will ever be held in grateful remembrance in this parish, for you have been instrumental in a special manner in contributing to its present prosperity. Your sympathy with deaf-mutes and the readiness with which you have co-operated with the rector in all his efforts to extend Church privileges among them, have endeared you to all with whom you have been so long associated."
Dr. Ewer was instituted Rector of Christ Church on the third Sunday after Advent (December 14, 1862). The sermon, on this occasion, was preached by the Right Reverend Bishop Potter. It is an evidence of his pulpit popularity at this time, that all the pews in the house were immediately rented, and the church was usually so crowded that the aisles were filled with listeners. There never was a ministry begun under auspices apparently more favorable. He entered at once into the work of the parish with the greatest ardor, and showed then, as he showed afterward, that mere preaching could not satisfy him. His first labor almost was to organize an association for the support of Christ Church Parish School, and a Ladies' Charitable Association. In September, 1864, he delivered his well-known sermon against political preaching, which attracted great attention. It was printed at length in many newspapers, and was universally regarded as both eloquent and logical. A single memorandum in Dr. Ewer's Diary will show how he was otherwise engaged. It is as follows: "I commenced this month (December, 1864) to raise $12,000 to pay for a new organ and to liquidate the floating debt of the church. I succeeded (spring of 1865) in raising the amount;" and it was through labors like these conscientiously, though most imprudently undertaken, that he wore out his life and went so early to his reward. At the very time above mentioned he had gathered together five hundred children in the Sunday-school, the Parish School for the Poor, the Mission School, and the Industrial School. Meanwhile his services as a lecturer and speaker were everywhere in demand, and his vacations meant only opportunities for varying his work. In August, 1865, when he should have been resting, he delivered an oration before the High School Alumni of Nantucketa very full and philosophical exposition of the dignity and the duty of the teacher's vocation.
Upon the death of Bishop Elliot, in 1867, Dr. Ewer was frequently spoken of as his probable successor in the Diocese of Georgia. He carefully considered the matter, and became convinced that he ought not to be even a candidate for the place.
In 1867 Dr. Ewer received from Columbia College the honorary degree of S.T.D.
Meanwhile the work at Christ Church went on. Under Dr. Ewer's supervision the interior of the edifice was beautifully decorated. He had his own views of a neglected and commonplace sanctuary, and then, as afterward, believed in giving the best to the Lord. On the Sunday after Ascension, 1868, Dr. Ewer preached before the Bishop Seabury Association of Brown University, a sermon on the "Logical Impossibility of any Compromise between the Church and the Sects."
In the year 1868 Dr. Ewer preached in Christ Church his well-known sermons on the "Failure of Protestantism." Of these the Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix, in an admirable article in The American Church Review, says: "They cost him a large measure of his popularity, and prepared the way for the more serious loss of his rectorship. The outburst of indignation with which they were received in many quarters might be likened to the sweep of a cyclone. However widely men may differ as to their contents, on one point all must agree: the utterance of such sentiments was the act of a brave and fearless man. I wish that they might now have a fresh and calmer reading; without indorsing everything that they contain, I say that they abound in strong common-sense, and give many a needful note of warning. There is no reason for growing angry over these discourses; rather let us honor such dauntless expression of unpopular sentiments; and moreover, let me insist upon another point, that whatever may be thought of the force of his objections to that which he assailed, the specific Protestantism of the anti-sacramental, anti-sacerdotal, non-episcopal, and rationalistic type, there is not in all these discourses one word of defence of any distinctively Romish doctrine, or of disloyalty to the Church of which he was a priest." Dr. Dix does not overestimate the excitement which these sermons created. They especially provoked an amount of comment, more or less ignorant, in the secular newspapers which was quite appalling. Nor were the religious newspapers much more intelligent or tolerant. The Protestant pulpit also stood upon its defence; and for a time it seemed as if the storm would never abate. The Protestant preachers all went deliberately to work to prove that Protestantism was not a failure, as if the refutation, if there could be one, were not palpable and before all men's eyes. But Dr. Ewer was "a reverend assailer of the faith of his fathers," and as such he was pilloried, alas! it must be admitted, in the pulpits even of his own beloved Church. He took the matter very calmly; he revised the obnoxious sermons, and having printed them in a book, he left them to be judged hereafter, when the wrath which his utterances excited had abated. Such sermons as these could hardly fail to create some excitement in the church in which they were delivered. Yet we have Dr. Ewer's word for it, that the main doctrines of these sermons had been preached over and over again in Christ Church for seven years, without eliciting a word of protest or complaint. It was only when he endeavored to substantiate them by liturgical propriety of worship that those who did not much care for the prosperity and advancement of the Church found in the discourses a pretext for dissatisfaction. Then some of the parish, singularly enough, united with the Roman Catholics and the Dissenters in loudly condemning them. It was some compensation for this that from every quarter, from clergy and laity, from strangers and from friends, came words of encouragement and sympathy. But Dr. Ewer's main interest was of course in his own Church, and this was unhappily divided. But he had many stanch friends within the pale, and many not less stanch without. His correspondence shows how far the influence of these sermons had extended. At the same time he was subjected to much ridicule in sectarian newspapers, some of it of an exceedingly ill-bred type. What does the reader, considering the solemnity of the discussion, say to the following, from a Lutheran newspaper: "This Mr. Ewer, of whom few ever heard before, has attracted attention very much as a monkey draws the boys and loungers on the streets. The very absurdity of the man and his sermons have gained a general notoriety, very much as any grotesque phenomenon will make a sensation in society. His propositions are so ridiculous in their assertions that all sensible people wonder at the fatuity of the man who could make them." And this was expected to prove that Protestantism had been a success! How little could the writer have known this singularly modest man who said, in The Baptist Quarterly, that Dr. Ewer had undertaken "a new movement, with himself as the leading apostle! "
If it were possible or desirable here to tell the true story of Dr. Ewer's resignation, in 1871, of the rectorship of Christ Church, there would be nothing in the narrative discreditable to his memory. It was his own wish that the remembrance of the circumstances which led him to leave the altar which he so much loved should not be perpetuated, and he destroyed many documents which would have thrown much light upon the story. He was impelled by two motives: he wanted peace, and he desired that his office, which he never ceased, however humbly, to magnify, should be respected. Undoubtedly, so far as the feelings of a majority of the Church were concerned, there was no necessity for this. He had been preaching to specially large congregations, and the temporal affairs of the Church were never in so prosperous a condition. But he hungered for greater latitude, and a larger amount of freedom. Those who loved and trusted him were prompt to follow him, for they, too, did not care to submit to mere secular dictation. Time might, indeed, have reconciled all differences; but Dr. Ewer was anxious to be working without let or hindrance elsewhere, and he made great sacrifices to that end. He boldly faced all merely worldly consequences, and left his old pulpit with a self-rewarding serenity of conscience which perhaps his opponents did not share. It is of record that he was willing to make all reasonable concessions. But never for a moment did he give up the point, that he must teach the truth according to what he believed the Church to set forth. He would not admit himself answerable to the vestry or other laity of the parish for the character of the faith which God had sent him to teach, while he confessed his responsibility to his bishop and the ecclesiastical courts. He would listen to no direction as to the Faith and Doctrine which he should preach, but he was willing to unify the Regular Sunday Services and the Catholic Services by raising the one and lowering the other.
This honest effort at conciliation failed, as any effort of a like kind must have failed. Those who were troubling the peace of Christ Church did not really desire its restoration. They were influenced by motives and purposes of which nothing can here be written, except that they were not of a religious character, and were of a strictly secular and even of a personal nature. Nothing remained to Dr. Ewer but the dreaded resignation; but when it became a duty he met it fearlessly, and assumed the great responsibility even of severing the parish. So much it is necessary to say, but Christian charity forbids the recital of many unpleasant details.
For a very short time Dr. Ewer, with those of his old Christ Church parishioners who had withdrawn with him, worshipped in the Church of the Holy Light. The Church of St. Ignatius was organized under the canonical authority of the Bishop of New York. For this the vestry secured the structure on West Fortieth Street. It was speedily altered to adapt it to the services of the Church, which were celebrated in it, for the first time, on Easter Sunday, 1872. The new parish started vigorously, with a large number of families and communicants. What money was needed for the new enterprise was raised without the least difficulty. There was a general feeling that Dr. Ewer had placed himself where he should have been three or four years earlier. It is a significant fact that this little parish raised for the support of the Church, during its first year, not less than $17,000. Under such auspices the last period of Dr. Ewer's spiritual labor had begun, and it was begun in earnest. It was to be full of difficulties; but difficulties he felt it to be the business of his life to surmount, if possible, or bear with patience and resignation should they prove insurmountable.
The services at the Church of St. Ignatius, arranged and settled as they were under Dr. Ewer's direction and supervision, were undoubtedly what the world, for want of a better title, had been pleased to call Ritualistica word which he did not like, although he might sometimes be compelled to use it for the sake of convenience. He was at great pains to explain his views upon this subject, both in the pulpit and afterward in the newspapers, when fit occasion offered. He held the arrangement and ceremonial of the altar to be the mere expression of the Real Objective Presence. On what principle, he asked, can the ornaments of the altar or the dress of the priest be considered puerile if the Prayer-Book of the Church commands them? He was accustomed to hold that if there were unanimity of faith in the Church, there would be no wrangling about the ritual. He was accustomed also to point to the great changes in a ritualistic direction of the services in all the churches of his faith in New York, except two; and he might well ask why his own practices should be selected for special animadversion. He showed that these changes had been going on gradually for sixty years without provoking special condemnation; and there was hardly a peculiarity in the ceremonial at St Ignatius' which did not have the directly expressed sanction of the historical Church and the implied approbation of the General Convention. It would be a great mistake to suppose that Dr. Ewer regarded ritualism as of the first importance; but he did regard the recognition of the Real Presence as vital nor would he abandon any rite or ceremony which recognized it, or kept it fully before the minds of the people. Without keeping in constant recollection his firm hold upon the doctrine of the Real Objective Presence, the life and work of Dr. Ewer cannot be understood.
He used to smilingly characterize ritual, "on its very lowest ground," as "object-teaching." He had, of course, higher motives, but he waited for an answer to this simplest of explanations, and he waited in vain.
The new temple in which he had recommenced his work, might indeed have been considered the Home of the Sacraments. It was for these, and for his entire and unreserved acceptance of them, that he was always ready to do battle; and here, as well as anywhere, his controversy with Bishop Williams, of the Diocese of Connecticut, may appropriately be referred to. He had preached, on the 30th of January, 1870, at East Hartford, upon these Sacraments, and his teachings were not entirely agreeable to the Bishop of Connecticut, who wrote to Dr. Ewer, asking for an explanation of the following words contained in the sermon: "There were yet customs, and doctrines, and other Sacraments set down in the Prayer-Book and Homilies, as truly part and parcel of our Church as was the Atonement, or the Apostolical Succession, or Baptism, or the Eucharist;" and also of these: "There was the whole supernatural system of the Church, with the Sacramental Grace of Confirmation, and Ordination, Penance, and Marriage, and Unction, and there was the doctrine of the Real Presence and of Catholic Authority, all neglected, but all really held up for acceptance by our Church." Bishop Williams, before proceeding to present Dr. Ewer for heresy, put to him the following among other questions:
"When you speak of 'other Sacraments' besides Baptism and the Eucharist, in what sense do you use the word sacraments, and to what besides these would you apply it?"
"In what sense do you intend to present Ordination and Confirmation as Sacraments?"
"Do you intend to speak of the 'Sacramental Grace' of 'Penance, Marriage, and Unction,' and if so, what am I to understand you as meaning by the term?"
"What am I to understand you as meaning by Penance and Unction, and how do you intend to present them as 'held up for acceptance by our Church?'"
Dr. Ewer was prompt and explicit in his answers to these questions. He pointed out to the bishop that the Church in the Homily "of Common Prayer and Sacraments" gives two distinct definitions of a Sacrament. The first she calls the exact signification of a Sacrament; the second she calls the general acceptance of the term. Her exact signification is, "Visible signs, expressly commanded in the New Testament, whereby is annexed the promise of the free forgiveness of our sin, and of our holiness, and joining in Christ." But he went on to show, that according to the Homily "in a general acceptation, the name of Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby a holy thing is signified." He goes on to say, that the ancient writers have at least given this name "to the other five, commonly, of late years, taken and used for supplying the number of the seven Sacraments." "I therefore," said Dr. Ewer, "hold, in the language of the Catechism, that Christ hath ordained in His Church two Sacraments only as generally necessary to salvationthat is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. But I also therefore hold that in some sense of the wordviz., 'under its general acceptation,' under which 'the name of Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby a holy thing is signified'there are other Sacraments besides the said two of Baptism and the Lord's Supper." Could any answer be more complete, made from the Church's standpoint? There was literally no reply to this. In the matter of Confession he stood with Jeremy Taylor, Archbishop Seeker, Hooker, and many other Fathers of the Church. He had equal authority for Unction. The answer to Bishop "Williams was perhaps one of the completest scholarly works which ever came from his hands. The correspondence was prolonged, but the matter was settled in Dr. Ewer's first letter. There was something humorous in the way in which he called Bishop Williams' attention to a card distributed through the Parish of St. John's, East Hartford, in which the very doctrine of the Sacraments which he advocated was urged upon the minds of the laity. No reference would be made to this controversy did it not illustrate Dr. Ewer's method of debate. It was easy to sneer at his learning, as Roman priests were wont to do when they could do nothing else; it was easy for Protestant newspapers to speak of him as a mere pulpit declaimer; but those who engaged with him in theological controversy usually found that he had quite enough learning for his purposes, and much more than they found it easy to grapple with.
The public has a general idea of the work, benevolent and religious, done in St. Ignatius' Parish, under the constant and untiring supervision of Dr. Ewer; but only those connected with it, or who have examined it, know how great and varied it was. It was the Church Service which was most familiar to the community, for this was often brought to its notice through the medium of the public journals. But in addition to this, Dr. Ewer was one to whom many, doubting or despondent, in all parts of the country, came for advice and for encouragement, making many and heavy demands upon his mind and conscience. The letters which he received were almost innumerable, and they were always promptly and faithfully answered. But there were also labors of a widely different kind. The church building on Fortieth Street was originally hired, in 1872, for one year, at the large annual rent of $5,000. The property was then valued at $70,000. To meet the rent and current expenses was a daily care. The parish met with a severe blow in 1873, in the sudden death of the Senior Wardena thorough churchman and an expert financier. This, for a time, brought great depression on the new church organization. The executive ability of the rector was severely taxed to provide ways and means for perpetuating the very existence of St. Ignatius'. The vestry, and many of the laymen, were untiring in their assistance; but at times there was hardly anything to do but watch and pray, for failure was imminent. In 1875, during a great financial panic, real estate property in the city so depreciated in value that the church building and land were offered for $50,000. By the great exertion of Dr. Ewer the interest of personal friends and of his parishioners was aroused, and $15,000 were raised, secured by church bonds paying seven per cent, interest. The remainder of the purchase money was secured by mortgages on the property. The interest on the bonds and mortgages was promptly paid semi-annually, and to-day the property is valued at $65,000. Thus Dr. Ewer, by his untiring energy and practical good sense, actually secured to the parish a profit of $15,000. Just before his death, with the same unflagging zeal, he had raised money enough to pay off the bonds, amounting to $15,000, while he also obtained subscriptions to a considerable amount toward paying off the general church debt. And all this labor was accomplished at a time when he was prostrated in health. He literally sank under his burdens, and the only wonder is that he was so long spared.
All this time, and while these temporal difficulties were demanding his attention, the work of the parish went steadily on, and all the organizations connected with it, with the rector at the head of each, maintained their active usefulness. Each looked to him as its ruling spirit. The Sunday-school and Industrial School flourished in proportion to the size of the parish; confirmation classes were instructed by the rector with the assistance of his teachers; and much was accomplished by the Guild of St. Ignatius', with its thirteen different wards, each doing a different work. A full account of the guild may be found in The Church Eclectic for April, 1877. The plan has been adopted by several parishes with great success. Many poor families received relief from physical want, and obtained spiritual teaching from the Mothers' Meeting system, which was borrowed from England, where it originated with the Catholic portion of the Anglican Church.
St. Saviour's Ward of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, of which body Dr. Ewer was Superior, came under his direct supervision. One evening of each week, through several seasons, was devoted to answering questions of Church matters, of doctrine, history, and ceremonial. These were handed to him in writing, without the name of the querist, and he replied to them at once. This was a continuation of a similar institution organized by him at Christ Church, under the title of "St. James' Union."
In all this labor up to 1880 Dr. Ewer had no regular assistant. Transient aid was rendered by Seminary students, but substantially he conducted the whole work of St. Ignatius'. As it stands to-day it is somewhat less than his monument. His congregation was always larger than his parish; numbers who thronged his church, attracted by its earnest services, were not enrolled among its hearty workers. Yet it has held its own from the beginning. It began with a hope that those who loved Christ for His sake alone, might be drawn into its courts, and labor to secure its temporal welfare, thus reaping its high spiritual benefits. If the rector, and those who heartily aided him, had an ambition, it was that the young, rich and poor, should be attracted by the spiritual privileges which were offered, and be influenced by spiritual motives rather than by the allurements of the Martha part, which, as a great Church writer has said, "receives lavish praise for her worldly minded clubs and bazaars, soup kitchens and highly secular but appetizing school treats, and choral festivals, and all the rest of it, not omitting her painful examinations wearisome to contemplate." Catholic principles do not draw crowds who love to carry them out to the end, and sacrifice their substance to pay the debt commanded by the Lord for the maintenance of His house. These were not popular principles. It is too true of many churchmen that, however they were enticed to join the elevating services of St. Ignatius', they were reluctant to enroll themselves as actual servants of the Catholic cause. So the parish does not boast to-day of masses of members, of scholars, of zealous workers in the guild. The rector had always a dislike of the ordinary methods of raising money for Church purposes. If he sometimes tolerated them it was with great reluctance and in concession to the views of others, for the help which he most loved was that which was proffered through a sense of religious duty and in accordance with scriptural injunction. Again, many most devoted to the Catholic cause were removed by circumstances from the city; and in some instances distant residence in the city was a hindrance.
Differences of opinion in families affected many. Death made fewer the faithful few; and many were kept away by various and undefinable influences. St. Ignatius' Church was surrounded, too, by a wall of prejudices which did not crumble easily away to let in the throngs eager to worship and give of their substance.
The result of all this is that as St. Ignatius' Parish now stands, after all its trials and struggles, it does not appear to be what it has been, or what it was intended to be. The devoted friends of the Catholic cause who knew Dr. Ewer and his labors best, do not consider it a monument of his work. They rather regard it as a point from which he has sent forth in all directions a most important influence. His example, his positive adherence to the truth of the Church, his arguments in defence of that truth which men of judicial reputation have pronounced irrefragable, his written works, strong enough to bear .the test of analytical criticism as regards the Faith, Doctrine, and Practice of the Primitive Church, his ardent preaching, his own spiritual life known through his spiritual letters and pure daily walkall these will some time accomplish the end that Providence desired to accomplish through his life and death. The parish is the Lord's and He will protect it.
The work and the sacred services at St. Ignatius' Church naturally attracted no little public attention, and Dr. Ewer himself, just as naturally, was a good deal in the public eye. This led, undoubtedly, to some misapprehension of his tastes and feelings, but those who had the best opportunity of observing him knew how little he cared for the world's approbation or censure. For religious truth, as he had received it, he did care with his whole mind and heart, soul, spirit, and strength; and such a man as he was has no need of seeking notice, for it comes to him unsought. Moreover, Dr. Ewer had been a journalist, and a successful one, before he assumed the great responsibilities of priesthood, and he understood the value of newspapers in reaching the ears of great masses of men who were quite beyond the sound of his voice. From the beginning of his ministry in New York, his sermons were fully and constantly reported in the public journals, the columns of which he did not hesitate to use freely in correcting error, in clearing up misapprehension, and in refuting misrepresentation. The reporter who came to talk with him found him genial, candid, obliging, and patient. He recognized the right of society to trustworthy intelligence respecting the cause in which he was laboriously engaged. Precise himself, it was his business to see that others were not misled. This sufficiently accounts for his frequent appearance in print, and apparent love of controversy. If he chanced to be wrong, nothing gave him greater pleasure than to be set right, and he never could understand why other men, upon being good-naturedly corrected, should not experience a similar satisfaction. Yet in the heat of battle, he was always courteous, even when receiving scant courtesy from others, and he gave many a clerical adversary and religious editor a lesson in politeness, which was not always appreciated and improved.
Dr. Ewer's main work was at home, yet he was ever heedful of the cry, "Come over and help us." In 1878, at the request of thirty laymen, of different parishes, in Newark, N. J., he gave in that city a series of six "Conferences" upon the subject of Catholicity, Protestantism, and Romanism, or, more definitely to use the words of those who made the request, on "The Church as the Custodian and Teacher of Divine Truth in opposition to ultra-Protestantism, and the anti-Catholic claims of the Papal Church." In these Conferences he reiterated the opinions long before expressed. In the first he undertook to show Catholicity to be a continent of certainty, and Protestantism an ocean of conjecture. In the second he set forth Catholicity as a life and an organizer, and Protestantism as a disorganizer and a death. In the third he pursued the same subject, setting forth the true position of the Anglican Church "as a double witness against Protestantism and Rome." The fourth was a bold and unsparing attack upon the Papacy, and this was the subject also of the fifth and sixth. These Conferences have been collected and published in a volume, and this meagre statement of their character must here suffice. They were fully reported in the newspapers as they were delivered, and were the occasion of many replies from both Protestant and Roman Catholic pulpits. They were soon followed by a series of four addresses also given in Newark, in the House of Prayer, on "The Functions of The Holy Spirit." These also have been published in a volume.
Dr. Ewer preached about this time, in Newport, R. I., his sermon on "The Object and Meaning of the Catholic Movement in the Anglican Church." In September, 1880, occurred Dr. Ewer's controversy with a Catholic priest upon the Doctrine of Intention, especially in the Eucharist, in which he held that "Catholicity teaches, in opposition to Rome, the comforting truth that so long as the man is publicly recognized by the Church as her priestly agent, so long the people can depend upon it that the Sacraments he formally administers are Sacraments of God and valid. For then validity depends on the priest's ministerial and not on his personal acts." Dr. Ewer's first article provoked a reply in The Catholic World kindly entitled "Dr. Ewer's Blunders," the old favorite way of refuting him adopted by Roman priests, who always find the retort of ignorance convenient. Having called Dr. Ewer a cobbler, and by implication, if not directly, a liar, the answer was of course complete. Dr. Ewer returned to his charge that it is a matter of uncertainty as to whether a layman receives any sacrament in the Roman Church; and in the opinion of lawyers and logicians proved what he said. In the same year Dr. Ewer published his "Grammar of Theology." It was intended as a Manual of Instruction in Churchmanship, to be used either before or after Confirmation, individually or in classes. Although denounced by several Low Church journals, the book is still much used, and has passed through several editions. It provoked, especially from Southern quarters, loud demands for his trial for heresy; but these did not mean much and soon subsided. The "Grammar of Theology" was highly recommended in England by the London Church papers, and has to-day a large sale in that country. In December, 1880, Dr. Ewer preached in St. Ignatius' Church, a sermon on the imprisonment of the English priests, Messrs. Dale and Enraght, charged with a violation of ecclesiastical law, in not yielding points of ceremonial commanded by the rubric. This sermon he soon after repeated in Trinity Chapel, at the special request of the Rev. Dr. Dix, when the blunders and persecutions of the English law courts were still more thoroughly discussed as a plain violation of the provisions of Magna Charta.
In 1881, before the Seventh Church Congress, which met in Providence, R. I., Dr. Ewer read a paper on "The Education of Divinity Students," as fitting them for their office as spiritual advisers, and especially for hearing confessions. He held that the study of dogmatic theology was not enough, but that priests should be trained in a knowledge of the human soul.
In July, 1883, Dr. Ewer contributed to Leslie's Sunday Magazine a paper in answer to the question, "What is the Anglican Church?" which, of course, he presented as the One Catholic Church, while its doctrines, history, and practices were set forth in a clear, precise, and popular way. This article was reprinted in pamphlet form, passed through several editions, attracted much attention, and had a wide circulation.
We are now approaching the last literary work for the Church which Dr. Ewer was permitted to accomplish. With a Christian fairness and liberality worthy of the highest praise, the Right Reverend Dr. Huntington, Bishop of Central New York, had asked Dr. Ewer, in a friendly letter, to make a clear statement of the special beliefs and objects of the men in the Church "sometimes called Anglicans, and sometimes Ritualists." The bishop continued: "So you often hear it said, "To be sure we don't see anything bad in these ritualists, but then we see only the entering wedge. They are going somewhere, to Rome or somewhere else!' Thus a definition of the terminus ad quem has been much needed. Out with it, the whole of it, the worst of it, and then we shall know what to deal with." Such a request as this, coming from a source so worthy of respect, could not fail to give Dr. Ewer the profoundest satisfaction. He was in ill-health; he was just going to the country for rest and recreation, but he at once girded himself for the task of answering Bishop Huntington's letter. He began by affirming that the Catholic movement was of God, and that no man could control it. He made haste to declare that so far from being Romanizing in its tendency, it was exercising an important and salutary influence in keeping its children from drifting Romanward. What was "God's final design in it," he would not presume to say. What Catholics most fervently desired was a reunion of the scattered fragments of the Churcha desire at present without any strong hope of fulfilment. But he held that to-day the foremost opponents of Rome are the Anglican Catholics. They are really fighting the practical battle against the Papacy. Whatever of truth they may find there they accept, not because it is there but because it is truth. They offer prayers for the dead, because they believe that the dead may be in an intermediate state, and not yet fit for the final resurrection and the Beatific Presence; they accept the Real Objective Presence; they hold that the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and not the Morning Prayer, should be the main service of the Church; and that the plain English rubric provides that the Eucharist should be surrounded with its respectful and fitting and expressive adjuncts of vestments, lights, incense, song, and adoration; they adhere to the mixed chalice because Christ instituted it; they would worship Christ wherever he is by outward acts; that the Eucharist is a commemorative sacrifice as well as a sacrament and a communion. So they claim the right of religious orders; to hold retreats and missions; to make and hear voluntary confessions; they do not rank Confirmation, Orders, Absolution, Marriage and Unction with the two great Sacraments, but they admit their sacramental character; and they do not reject the apostolical command to anoint the sick.
The letter to Bishop Huntington was a very plain and simple exposition of the opinions and practices of Catholic churchmen. Accepting the historical premises of the Anglican Church it is a logical sequitur, and however much it may have been abused and misrepresented, it has never been answered. Certain church newspapers continued to speak of his "soul-destroying errors," as if such phrases, pretty well worn at the best, were arguments. The Church was entreated to rid itself of this "false teacher," but the Church seemed to be in no haste to do so; for at no period of his ministry was he held in such affection, both by those who agreed and those who disagreed with him, as at the time of his departure.
The publication of the Open Letter brought innumerable letters of thanks and of congratulations, both from the clergy and laity in all parts of the country. There was a feeling, to use the words of one correspondent, that "it ought to accomplish much toward the pacification of the Church"and no suggestion could have been more pleasant to Dr. Ewer. So, too, an eminent judge of the city of New York wrote: "I wish others would more violently attack your exposition that it may acquire the greatest attention. There is no satisfactory denial of your argument. It is the truth." Those who did not care for peace still continued to talk of his heresies and Romanizing, and yet a Presbyterian pastor could write to The Living Church: "I am particularly pleased with the attitude of Dr. Ewer toward Rome. Here he may be plainly seen, and from this point his voice gives no uncertain sound."
In England, also, the Open Letter attracted much attention and favorable comment. It was curious to find several American newspapers, of the "religious" sort, warning their readers against Dr. Ewer's "mild tone and gentle sophistries," for these very journals not long before had been cautioning the public against his controversial spirit and passionate polemics. Such people it was not very easy to satisfy.
In the summer of 1883 Dr. Ewer sought a renewal of health and strength at Jefferson, N. H. In this locality he had usually found an alleviation of the asthma, from which for many years he had so grievously suffered. But on this occasion he did not recuperate as he should, and it was painfully evident that his general health was greatly shaken. If he could have been persuaded to abandon work altogether, it is possible that his life might have been prolonged, but constitutionally he could not be idle. He put by one pursuit only to engage in another, and study which he called recreation seemed only a continuation of his toil to those about him. Of course his whole heart was in his religious duties, and his mind was continually reverting to the affairs of his church, in Kew York, and to the flock which he loved so well. For its sake he had not spared himself, and he could not banish it from his memory now, though for a little while away from it. If he was not studying he was still thinking, and although he was out of his library, he carried wherever he went the knowledge gained in it. His pastime was in the mathematical studies to which he was so much attached. There was a local newspaper, and if he could write for nothing else, he could, and would, and did write for it. He made maps and he measured mountains. He kept up his correspondence with absent friends, and could not for an hour forget the cause to which he had given his manly strength. If by some interposition of Providence he could have been forced to abandon writing, reading, drawing, thinking, for a sufficient period of time, it is not inconceivable that a portion at least of his physical force might have been regained. He had, indeed, the higher peace of mind which left all resignedly to God; but he could not escape his delicate sense of earthly responsibility and an admonition of duty which was constantly with him. He may have had a presentiment that the end was near; indeed there is some reason to believe that he had, and it was quite consistent with the moral energy and the self-devotion of his nature that he should prefer to be called while he was yet laboring in the vineyard. Earthly rest was little to him while he was striving for endless repose as the great crown of his endurance to the end.
Early in October Dr. Ewer left Jefferson for Montreal, where he had many and dear friends, and where he had also promised, if possible, to preach in the Church of St. John the Evangelist, where he had been heard before with pleasure and profit. He was still feeble, and in one sense this determination was not a wise one. But when he felt himself called he was not in the habit of disobeying the summons. The announcement of his preaching gathered an unusually large congregation. He had selected for the occasion the sermon which will be found in this volume, the text being from Philippians iii. 26: "For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. p. 8). He was speaking of the popular instinct which recognizes the features of heavenly citizenship, when he was observed to falter and to grasp the sides of the pulpit. He then said with great difficulty: "You will excuse me, dear brethren. I came here, though very ill, to speak to you, but" Here his voice failed him, and he sank helplessly down in the pulpit. A medical man, Dr. Fenwick, who was in the congregation, and whose tender professional services are here most gratefully acknowledged, hastened to the side of the prostrate preacher, who was carried to the vestry. He was still conscious, and \vas strengthened to receive the consolation of the Holy Eucharist, at which, as was natural, he expressed the greatest satisfaction. The wife whom he had loved so long and so well was also with him. He was placed in an ambulance and carried to St. Lawrence Hall Hotel, where he was until the end assiduously cared for by the Sisters of St. John. His daughter, who had hastened from New York, was also with him before his departure; and he would have been glad, could he have known it, of the presence of his old friend and brother, the Rev. Father Brown, of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, in New York. He soon, however, relapsed into unconsciousness, and thus lingering, expired on the 10th of October.
The sad intelligence was soon communicated to his many friends and anxious parishioners in New York, who had been constant in their inquiries at the rectory for intelligence. His death was felt to be a public loss, and was noticed at great length in the public journals of the city, most of which, in addition to the usual obituary notices, published leading articles reviewing his life, labors, and character, and fully recognizing his devotion as a rector, his force and ability as a preacher, and his fidelity to his convictions. From many pulpits not in fellowship with the Church came words of kindness, sympathy, and appreciation. The old controversies were forgotten over his bier, and only a kind remembrance of the man remained.
The funeral of Dr. Ewer took place at the Church of St. Ignatius on the 13th of October. It was very largely attended both by the clergy and laity, the edifice being filled to its utmost capacity. The service was celebrated by the Rev. Thomas McKee Brown. In the chancel were present the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter, Assistant Bishop of New York; Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix, Rev. Dr. H. G. Batterson, Rev. Heber Newton, and others; and in the body of the church about one hundred clergymen in their surplices. The singing was by the united choirs of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Ignatius. After the Burial Service there was a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The Lesson was read by Rev. Dr. Dix, the Epistle by Rev. Dr. Batterson, the Gospel by Assistant Bishop Potter. Among other particulars it may be mentioned that the body, enclosed in an oaken coffin, was clad in full eucharistic vestments, a chalice and paten being placed in the hands; while upon the breast lay a crucifix and the medal of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.
It may be also mentioned that among those present was a delegation from the Independent Royal Arch Chapter of Masons, headed by Claudius F. Beatty. Dr. Ewer was much interested in the benevolent work of the fraternity, and at one time held the office of Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New York. Fifteen members of the Chapter accompanied the remains to the place of interment at Woodlawn Cemetery. The pall-bearers were the following vestrymen of St. Ignatius' Church: J. R. Morewood, John W. Emerson, J. Fisher Reese, H. Sylvester Bosworth, Kelson Millerd, Charles L. Brown, Richard Withington, and John Long.
The death of Dr. Ewer was tenderly and affectionately noticed by Catholic churches and associations throughout the country. It is impossible to recount all the commemorative services which it occasioned. Those at Newark, N. J., in the House of Prayer, where he had been so often and satisfactorily heard, and where, outside of his own church, he was perhaps best known and appreciated, are specially worthy of mention here. The sermon was preached by the Rev. A. L. Wood, followed by some remarks by Rev. H. Goodwin.
On November 13th a Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York, at which the Rev. T. McK. Brown acted as celebrant, the Rev. II. G. Batterson, D.D., deacon, and the Rev. J. C, Kerr, subdeacon. Dr. Batterson also preached a memorial sermon.
The St. Margaret Ward of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, at Brighton, Mass., adopted sympathetic resolutions. The bereaved family of Dr. Ewer received from every quarter letters which were a great comfort and consolation, and which showed how widespread had been the influence of his religious teaching. They came from all classes and were of a various character; but all of them spoke in one tone of the love which he had awakened in so many hearts, and of the friendship which had a common and precious faith for its foundation; and all of them recognized the death of such a man, at such a time, as a dark and mysterious dispensation of Divine Providence. Many of these letters came from those who had not known Dr. Ewer personally, and who had come to love and trust him only through the perusal of his published writings.
These private expressions of loving remembrance would have been very grateful to the heart of the departed; nor would he less have appreciated those which came with an official authority from the church of which he was the devoted servant. The following finds an appropriate place, and should be perpetuated here:
Minute of the Committee appointed to prepare the same by the Assistant Bishop-elect, the Rev. Henry C. Potter, D.D., LL.D., at a meeting of the clergy held at St. Ignatius' Church after the funeral of the Rev. Dr. Ewer, Saturday, October 13, 1883.
It having pleased Almighty God in His wise providence to take to Himself in the rest of Paradise, where no torment can touch it, the soul of our dear brother, the Rev. Ferdinand C. Ewer, S.T.D., late Hector of St. Ignatius' Church, in the city of New York; we, his brethren of the clergy, while bowing submissively to the ever-blessed will of God our Heavenly Father, and giving thanks to His most holy Name for the joy and felicity into which, we trust, He has brought our brother departed, deeply mourn for our own present loss in that we shall see his face and hear his voice no more on earth.
We desire to bear witness to his many excellent natural gifts; to his good and varied learning; to his power in word and deed exercised for the glory of God: that he was a man of large and tender heart, who loved the Church of Jesus and the souls of men; who knew whereof he affirmed, and whose was always the courage of his convictions; that he was a faithful pastor and priest; diligent in preaching the Word of God and in administering the Sacraments of the Gospel, keeping the faith which he taughtwho though dead yet speaketh in that which he hath left for our learning. We would offer to his family and to his flock our tender and respectful sympathy, and bid them find consolation with ourselves in the sweet and comforting remembrance that living while here as one whose citizenship was in Heaven, when summoned to depart hence and go into his own country, he was found in his place and ready with his loins girded and his light burning.
The Lord Jesus cherish him in the pleasant land of Paradise, and daily renew and strengthen us in all holiness of living.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labors."
GEORGE H. HOUGHTON,
CHAS. W. MORRILL,
E. S. HOWLAND,
WM. J. SEABUBY,
The following is the testimony of the church to which Dr. Ewer so faithfully ministered:
At a meeting of the Warden sand Vestry of St. Ignatius' Church, of the city of New York, held October 15, 1883, the following minute was adopted and ordered to be entered on the records of the parish. The clerk of the vestry was also instructed to forward an engrossed copy of the same to the family of our deceased rector.
It is with a deep sense of our personal loss that we, the wardens and vestrymen of St. Ignatius' Church, are now called upon to record the death of our beloved rector and friend, Rev. Ferdinand C. Ewer, S.T.D., who entered into rest at Montreal, on October 10, 1883.
There was a special sadness as well as a special fitness in the time and manner of his death. Stricken down while in the act of preaching in a distant city, and at the very time when his parishioners and friends were looking forward to his return among them, after his summer absence, the tidings came to us with a sudden shock of an unexpected sorrow. But it was eminently fitting that to so earnest and faithful a soldier of the Cross the summons should have come while he was actively engaged in his Master's service, delivering his Master's message, and the theme of that his last sermon, unfinished here on earth, sounds now as a prophet's word: "Our citizenship is in heaven."
"Well and widely known as was Dr. Ewer, he needs no lengthened eulogy from us. His praise is in all the churches. Saintly in his character, kind and courteous in all his intercourse with others, tender and unfailing in his sympathy with every form of trial or affliction, he has left behind him a loving memory in the hearts of all who knew him, and most especially of those who last shared his pastoral care. But beyond and above all this was the uncompromising boldness with which he earnestly contended for the faith once delivered to the saints. His was no uncertain voice, no timid utterance of half truths when the whole truth might be unpopular. He was ever ready to spend and be spent in his Master's service, and to sacrifice worldly position and worldly popularity rather than abate one jot or one tittle from the faith of the "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" which he loved and served.
"In hoc signo, pale nor dim,
Lit life's battle-field for him;
And the prize he sought and won,
Was the crown for duty done."
To his widow and family we offer our heartfelt sympathy, praying that our Heavenly Father, who alone can, will comfort and sustain them in this their heavy sorrow.
J. B. MOBEWOOD,
J. FISHER EEESE,
RICHARD W. WITHINGTON,
Committee of the Vestry.
J. B. MOEEWOOD,
H. SYLVESTER BOSWORTH,
JOHN W. EMERSON,
W. A. SHERMAN,
J. FISHER BEESE,
CHAS. L. BROWNE,
RICHARD W. WITHINGTON,
The later years of the life of Dr. Ewer were, as is well known, almost exclusively devoted to the duties of his sacred profession. He put aside for the most part, the merely literary work of his earlier years, and the general reading in which he had so much delighted. Allusion has already been made to his connection with The Pioneer, a monthly magazine published in San Francisco. In the September (1850) number of this was published Dr. Ewer's remarkable paper entitled "The Eventful Nights of August 20th and 21st." This professed to be an account of the death of one John F. Lane, and of certain spiritual communications received from him by the writer. It is somewhat singular that these revelations should have been regarded by many persons as an authentic narrative, especially as they bear upon their face evidence quite sufficient of their imaginative character. The Spiritualists, whose foibles and fancies the story was intended in some measure to expose, insisted that the writer must have been influenced at least by some spirit in writing it. One of them immediately wrote to a San Francisco newspaper demanding further investigation. People at once began to write to Dr. Ewer to inquire whether "the story was really true, or merely a dream, or something of that kind." One of them wished to be informed if the narrative was "a simple, honest statement of what occurred." "If there be any truth in your record of the 'Eventful Nights' you certainly are in duty bound," writes another, "to make it known to the public by a candid avowal of the facts." Among these letters came one from Judge J. W. Edmonds, the well-known Spiritualist of New York, stating his interest in Dr. Ewer's "experience," and the information that the writer had been favored with an interview with Mr. Lane. "It was," so the Judge wrote, "very characteristic of the mind which communed with you. He desired to open a communication between you and me through him." He added that he had reprinted the article in The Sacred Circle, a magazine edited by himself. Finding that the belief in the truth of the fiction was steadily increasing, especially in spiritual circles, Dr. Ewer wrote to the New York Herald, stating the true character of the story, and avowing its sole authorship, without any aid from any medium whatever. Judge Edmonds replied, in the same journal, that he "had been fool enough to receive the revelations as truth," and he had, after making inquiries, believed Mr. Ewer "incapable of perpetrating such a fraud." He admitted that he had been entirely deceived, and the necessity of exercising hereafter greater caution. The Spiritualistic journals saw fit to charge Dr. Ewer with want of veracity, as if a writer of fiction were necessarily open to such an accusation, which would apply equally well to De Foe or Dr. Swift. Indeed, there was more feeling exhibited than the facts justified, but at the same time this was perhaps natural. One of the most curious facts of the whole matter was that there was a real John F. Lane, Colonel of United States dragoons, who committed suicide in 1836, and Judge Edmonds discovered that this soldier's spirit did really impress Dr. Ewer to write "The Eventful Nights." It was an easy expedient to declare Dr. Ewer to be a medium, and a writing medium, without knowing it.
We have thought it right to give as succinctly as possible the history of this literary mystification, which for a time attracted so much attention. It is only just to his memory to mention that Dr. Ewer took no pride in his part of the affair. He felt, indeed, that perhaps he had done Judge Edmonds an unnecessary and gratuitous injury by diminishing the public confidence in him as a judicial officer. His course was characteristic. Happening to meet him one morning in New York, in a quiet street, though personally unacquainted with him, he accosted him and asked to be forgiven for having been the means of adding to his worldly embarrassment by misleading him in "The Eventful Nights." He was sorry and grieved that a young man's folly had brought a good, kind, and single-hearted man into trouble. He found Judge Edmonds amiable and gentle, and quite ready to forget and forgive. He admitted that just at the time of the controversy he was afflicted by the death of his wife, to which was added the public doubt of his capacity as a Judge, to which his mistake gave rise. There was undoubtedly an entire establishment of good feeling, and the relation between a daughter of the Judge and Dr. Ewer became a friendly and confidential one.
In 1855 Dr. Ewer took a lively interest in the establishment of the Public School system of San Francisco. In that year he was chosen a member of the Board of Education of that city. There had been a previous provision for a division of the school moneys between the Protestant and Roman Catholic schools. When Know-Nothing politics were in the ascendant every teacher of foreign birth had been discharged, and it was as an opponent of this act of injustice that Dr. Ewer was nominated by the Democrats and elected a member of the Board. The plan proposed by Dr. Ewer was to declare a vacation of the schools, to abolish all the schools of the city, both ward and district, to divide the city into separate school districts, and generally to reorganize the schools. All the old teachers, Roman Catholic and Protestant, it was determined to re-examine. When this was done, all who were deemed worthy were reappointed. Dr. Ewer, bent upon giving the Roman Catholics a fair chance, was violently attacked in some of the public journals. He had no object but an equitable adjustment of the controversy, and this, at least, he secured, as well as an evening school for adults, in which he volunteered himself to teach until a suitable teacher could be obtained. A High School for instruction in classical learning was also established. He was for a time a candidate for the principalship of the school, but withdrew in favor of his opponent. The system which he thus largely assisted to organize was highly successful, and was in operation not long ago, even if it has been at all changed.
In the contemplation of the life, of which an account altogether too cursory has here been given, we are specially struck by its earnestness, its self-abnegation, the rigid conscientiousness which marked, the genial love which illustrated it. From childhood until his earthly career was so suddenly terminated, Dr. Ewer was an untiring worker. He was a thinker and a speculator in his teens. His first love was a love of books; and his first tastes took a literary direction. As soon as he could write at all, he was content only with original composition. He early manifested an eager appetite for knowledge and for knowledge of a peculiar character. He put everything to the test of an intuitive logic, and was satisfied with nothing short of a demonstration. This demand for conviction he adhered to through life; and those who knew him only as a pulpit orator little imagined with what toilsome painstaking he had settled his theological system. The Objective Presence was as real to him as a problem of Euclid. The next life \vas something more certain to him than the very life which he was leading upon earth. He had reached the altar at which he ministered through many a tangled thicket of doubt and over many a stony and narrow pathway leading he hardly knew whither; and when the goal was won, go far as it could be by mortal feet, in the poetical exuberance, which was also a part of his nature, he sought by the splendor of outward signs and observances to afford to those committed to his charge some faint conception of the sublime truth which to him was infinitely more than all that is usually called knowledge in this world. The shallow and the careless could not or would not comprehend of how little importance in his eyes were the outward and the visible; but he went on with his work, sorry indeed to be misunderstood, but patient alike of frivolous censure and ill-natured historical prejudice. Yet fixed with scientific precision, as were his own theological opinions, there was not a morsel of malice or acerbity in his nature. He had a faith in the superabundant grace of God which took all the bitterness out of his polemics, and made him sweet and tender toward those who disagreed with him. He was the most chary of priests in employing the terrors of the law; he sought rather to persuade than to frighten; he spoke oftener in love than in anger. Men who did not comprehend him were sometimes misled by his uncompromising sincerity into an idea that he was uncharitable, while those whose views of church organization were of a strictly corporate character, reprehended his course as if he were mismanaging a business enterprise. They could not understand that fidelity to his faith was with him a matter of life and death. They thought his higher wisdom unwise, while to him their practical infidelity was a grief as well as a discouragement. If he censured, it was with pity; if he was forced to rebuke, it was with reluctance and regret.
But if he was so kindly in his official relations, it was in the social circle that he showed how much he enjoyed the company of his fellow-men. Pie loved harmless pleasantry; he heartily relished wit and humor; he never lost his interest in public affairs, which he was fond of discussing; he made himself particularly well informed of what was going on in the world; he kept up with the advancement of science; and he acquainted himself respecting whatever was new in literature and worth knowing. Devoted as he was to his calling, there was nothing professional in his manner, and he endeared himself to all classes and conditions by a suavity which it took much to repress, and an interest in the wants and troubles of others which he made at once his own. He brought to the work of his church a rare capacity for organization. All its affairs were methodically conducted; all its enterprises, religious and benevolent, were carefully arranged; all its temporal interests were assiduously cared for. A full record of the whole history of the parish, from the most important to the most minute details, was kept with scrupulous regularity. No church member was forgottennone drifted away without being looked after. The many services of the altar were maintained with persistent regularity, and often celebrated by Dr. Ewer, when in failing health, without the least regard for prudence. It is safe to say that no man in any calling in this great city toiled more terribly.
It was a peculiarity of Dr. Ewer's teaching that he was always ahead of those about him in his thinking, or at least in the bold and candid expression of his thought. When he spoke of Protestantism as a failure, not meaning that the truth in it was a failure, but that the principles upon which the Reformation was conducted had their natural result in setting private judgment above the Church and Revelation, what a storm of angry reprobation he provoked! Now, when all these years have gone by, we find a man like Professor Alien saying to a class of divinity students: "Protestantism gave rise to great excesses, and modern skepticism lay at the basis of it." Again, we find another Protestant preacher saying that Quakerism is "the logical result of Protestant principles""no Church, no ministry, no sacraments, nothing but the inner light."
Take again the conflict, real or supposed, existing between Science and Christianity. Long ago, when he was preaching in Christ Church, Dr. Ewer undertook to persuade churchmen that it was useless, and worse than useless, to contemptuously disregard the investigations of men of science. He denied that there was any necessary opposition of Science to Revelation, and he declared it to be the duty of the priests of the Anglican Church to investigate for themselves the discoveries of scientists, and to determine how far they might agree with our holy religion. He himself created some dissatisfaction in certain quarters by delivering a lecture on the theories of Dr. Darwin, not necessarily accepting them all, but seeking to find out which of them coincided with biblical truth, and which of them did not. He sought to draw into the Church a large and valuable class, instead of wantonly frightening it away. He was rewarded by reproof, covert insinuations, and openly expressed dissatisfaction. Fifteen years after, came the sermon by Dr. Pusey, affirming that in his opinion the Anglican Church had been too hasty in condemning the conclusions of the scientists, and advising all true Catholics to inquire whether after all Science and Revelation might not agree. When intelligence of this sermon was brought by a friend to Dr. Ewer, he said: "Did I not tell you the same thing fifteen years ago, when you would hardly listen to me, and much less believe me? You have waited all this time to get the truth from the other side of the water." Then he took down his own sermons and justified his assertion by documentary evidence.
Again, long before the labor troubles had reached their present pitch of importunity, in a vigorous discourse he predicted a coming state of social disorder, the possibility of a practical assertion of their rights by the producing class, and a transfer of communistic troubles to this country. Soon after its delivery the sermon brought to him the editor of a communist journal, who expected, vainly of course, to find a man who would aid him in his enterprises. The Pittsburg riots followed, and what has followed these is known to every reader.
In conclusion, it may be said that this brief narrative has been written in vain, if it now requires any special moral conclusion. Every detail of it tells the story of an earnest, devoted, enthusiastic nature, fully awakened to a sense of the highest responsibility, and equally bent upon fidelity to its convictions. His modesty would have shrunk from the comparison, but it may be said that there was something in this man of the spirit of the old martyrs. He was not called directly, as they were, to give the last and highest public proof of his adherence to his religious convictions; but he suffered much and he sacrificed much for them, and those who knew him knew that he would have been cheerfully ready to sacrifice much more. The history of the phase through which the Catholic Church is passing in this country cannot be written without perpetuating the memory of his labors; and this it is grateful now to believe, although he has passed to a reward which makes all earthly recompense seem infinitely insignificant.