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Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008


IN the vast stream of existence that flows on perpetually into the world beyond our sight, a single mortal is but as a ripple, or even a drop, upon the surface. But never can we think, as we witness the solemn ceremonial of the grave, that a life, even the briefest, the lowliest, or the most unhappy, has mingled itself with eternity, and not feel that the pomps and glories of this world are fading from our inward sight, and that God is near. Were this but the burial of the babe born a week since, or of the nameless stranger washed by shipwreck upon our shores, all would still stand before the coffin with the same sentiment which has just uttered itself: "Let me know my end;" "Teach us to number our days"!

But here, in the house of the Lord, for the last time, the form of a Christian full of years is present, and the venerated countenance lies covered which we shall see no more till we see, indeed, face to face. From the [2/3] midst of this community has departed one of those citizens to whose honored retirement in great age men look as to a temple. Those who now are parents and grandparents have associated him from their childhood with blamelessness and virtue, with gracious words and righteous deeds. A most united and warmly affectionate family have cherished his declining days; the conjugal love and joy which had ever been the light of his home faded not then; and his children have inherited from him the blessing of the commandment with promise. That head, which was as a crown of glory, is laid on its last pillow; the shock of ripe grain has been gathered in, not till its season. The time is filled; the work is done; faith has endured to the end, and the volume of an unspotted history is closed and clasped amidst the reverence of all men.

But the voice which now for the first time is silent within these walls is one which was lifted up, not only in the devout response, but in leading the prayers of the people, in preaching the word of life, and in authorized benediction. Though many years have passed since its full volume and cadence were echoed back, there are yet many who recall the clearness of its flow while it enunciated the truth of Christ, its equable solemnity in devotion, and its occasional throb and break when the chord of emotion vibrated too tenderly. A Christian [3/4] minister of excellent gifts, of long and varied experience, and of honored service, is borne from the sanctuary to the sepulchre. He has kept the faith; and the charge of the Apostle is, concerning such, "Remember them which have," or, which had, "the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."

It is a Father in God whose loss we mourn, and for whose example we give thanks over his bier. At more than a hundred altars, I presume, prayers have been made in his behalf; and at almost every one of them he has been remembered as he was accustomed to come to them and stretch forth his hands in blessing, even when his eye had somewhat become dim, and his youthful strength was abated. Upon scarcely less than fifteen thousand heads those hands of his have been imposed in the hallowed moment of Confirmation. The clergy of his Diocese, of whom almost all have received, or are the successors of such as had received, their ordination at those hands, are gathered here under one filial feeling. So long had he presided over this ancient Diocese, that his assistant and successor, not called to his aid till threescore years and twelve had brought their infirmities, is already a prelate of protracted labors and ample experience, and looks back with affectionate gratitude on thirteen years of most unbroken harmony while he has [4/5] been with him as a son in the Gospel. An Episcopate of forty-five years has hitherto been allotted in our country to the first patriarchal Bishop of Pennsylvania alone, and in the Church of England has occurred but seven times since the Reformation.

[*Bishop John Thornborough, of Limerick, 1593-1603, of Bristol, 1603-1616, and of Worcester, 1616-1641, presided forty-eight years; Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, Bishop of Oxford, 1671-1674, and of Durham, 1674-1721, fifty years; Bishop Thomas Wilson, of Sodor and Man, 1698-1755, fifty-seven years; Bishop Shute Barrington, of Llandaff, 1769-1782, of Salisbury, 1782-1791, and of Durham, 1791-1826, fifty-seven years; Bishop Brownlow, North of Lichfield and Coventry, 1771-1774, of Worcester, 1774-1781, and of Winchester, 1781-1820, forty-nine years; Edward Venables Vernon, afterwards Harcourt, Bishop of Carlisle, 1791-1807, and Archbishop of York, 1807-1847, fifty-six years; Bishop George Murray, of Sodor and Man, 1814-1828, and of Rochester, 1828-1860, forty-six years.]

Such an Episcopate is embraced in the review which goes back from this day to that on which, in Trinity Church, New Haven, your late Bishop was consecrated by Bishops White, Hobart, and Griswold. On that day the venerable Mansfield still survived, a Presbyter of Connecticut of seventy years standing in his Rectorship. Two of the Priests who were present had been received to the Diaconate at the first ordination held by the first Bishop in the United States. [* The Rev. Ashbel Baldwin and the Rev. Philo Shelton. Bishop Brownell admitted a hundred and eighty-one persons to the Diaconate, and, no doubt, about the same number to the Priesthood.] Of forty other clergymen who were there, four honored names alone remain in the catalogues of the living ministry.

[6] But between that day and this, how many who then welcomed the Bishop whom they soon learned to love, and how many who afterwards rejoiced to defer to his counsels and to strengthen him in his task, rise up in memory, and seem to surround him now! Bronson and Burhans, the Croswells, father and son, Jarvis and Todd, Rutledge and Jewett, Judd and Paddock, Hall and Watson; Wainwright and Wheaton, successive occupants of this desk; and from the company of devout laymen, Smith and Johnson, Putnam and McDonough, Peters, Adams, Beers, Scovill; or within these walls, Sigourney, Nichols, Beach, Tudor, the Morgans, Sumner, Imlay, Ripley, they all have gone before him, and others, and still others, have stood in their stead. The present generation is ever more numerous than the last; and they who live to honor the dead are far more than were they who greeted or upheld his earlier career. They are not within his charge alone; but far and wide, throughout the land, the hearts are with us of those who grew up under his eye, those whom he confirmed, those whom he admitted to the Holy Orders of Deacons or of Priests, from him who, within the last month, has been set apart to rule and serve the infant church of Kansas, to him whose powers have been still more recently vowed to the same duties on a more tilled and more fruitful soil; both of them reminded, then, how they had knelt to God [6/7] before him to take authority for their ministry; both of them, perhaps, now, as they see themselves filling up the rank which has been broken, mindful that they are "consecrated for the dead!" [* The Right Rev. Thomas Hubbard Vail, D. D., was ordained Deacon by Bishop Brownell, on the 29th of June, 1835; and the Right Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe, D. D., was admitted by Bishop Brownell, on the 25th of September, 1842, to the order of Priests.] The image of a pure and a long Episcopate, left on the most sacred recollections in so many parish churches, in so many Christian families, in so many chambers of prayer, and in so many secret hearts, is something which an angel might almost emulate. What care or toil, what sacrifice or burden, would it not recompense!

Not merely as the Chief Shepherd of his own Diocese was your late Father in God, known to the Church of his generation. It fell to his lot to visit the remote Southwest, and there to build up, if not to organize, those since flourishing Dioceses on which the foot of civil war, so madly courted, has so fiercely trampled. By several publications, for which his name and ability secured a wide circulation, he brought to many clergymen and their congregations valuable and timely assistance in the study of the Scriptures, and the promotion of the religion of the heart and life; and his "Commentary on the Prayer-Book," especially, became a guide for intelligent [7/8] households, teaching them to worship God with the spirit and with the understanding, and in the beauty of holiness. But chiefly, beyond his strictly pastoral work, must he be recorded as the founder, the first President, and so long the soul of Trinity College,--the College of this Diocese and this city. He had drawn from his academic experience the just appreciation of the importance of such an institution, and the qualifications for giving it honorable reputation as a seat of right training and scholarship. He carried it through the weakness of its infancy, and has watched over it during all its fortunes. The professional men whom it has educated; the large body of ministers whom it has given to the Church; the able instructors whom, from time to time, it has gathered for the service of the cause of learning and piety; the Divinity School which has arisen from it to expand its holiest usefulness,--all speak of him; all will there transmit the history of his episcopate to a future which must contain greater things than the present or the past.

All these reflections have led us, step by step, to that thought of him which, in these later days of his life, has been the most commanding. He died, as for twelve years he had lived, the Senior and Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. That relation has brought him far nearer to the hearts of multitudes [8/9] who never saw his face, and who yet feel themselves, at this moment, bereaved in your bereavement. It has often been doubted whether the provision, which devolves important though seldom onerous duties in behalf of the whole Church on the oldest of its Bishops in the order of consecration, might not be wisely modified, in consideration of the frequent infirmities and seclusion of old age. But the common feeling of all, the sentiment which associates the highest point of the mount of pious years with nearness to the skies, the wish to revere, and the certainty that length of days is a title to such reverence which none can question, have thus far made our senior Bishops the primates of our affectionate choice, even more than of our laws or customs. Providence has wonderfully cherished this reverential regard, by giving us in succession, for nearly seventy years, those four alone who have held that chair: the undisputed eminence of the first, as, more than any other man, the framer and expounder of our ecclesiastical organization; the gravity, godly prudence, and meek dignity of the second; the strong, high heart of the third, with all its sympathies, majestic as it would have been in the poorest cottage and the humblest seat; and now, the calm and catholic wisdom of the fourth, his equity and his charity. He was the last of our Bishops who were born before the national independence was finally established, or the Episcopate [9/10] was secured to our country. He linked us to the first generation of our clergy. It was something to feel, that one, whom his very years withheld from journeys, from scenes of debate, and even at length from the house of prayer, was still here to lend the sanction of his assent and countenance to all which the Church might undertake in a spirit of harmony. There was a blessing still in the example of such an old age of religious peace; a blessing which diffused itself over all our household of faith, as the long life of a father binds always his children together under the sense of one common duty and reverence. That bond it is which constrains us who are here to feel, that, in giving God thanks for the dead, and in remembering with honor and affection him who has so long had the rule over us, we come, in the name of the whole Church, and speak with the voice of a mighty multitude.

Here, then, in no tone of eulogistic praise towards one whose great account in his office is now made up, to be presented before the sovereign Bishop of souls, but in devout remembrance of the goodness of God, from whose gift alone it is that His Church can ever rejoice in the blessings imparted through His servants, let us meditate a few moments more on the endowments which in our deceased Father in God, as a man, as a Christian, as a minister of Christ, as the Bishop of this Diocese, as one whose episcopal [10/11] influence extended for good over a still wider sphere, and as the Presiding Bishop of our communion, glorified not him, but the Lord.

He was endued with those natural attributes, physical and mental, which form the completeness of manhood, and come only from Him who made us, not from ourselves. The endurance and vitality of his frame he shared with a very numerous family of brothers and sisters, not one of whom died till an advanced period of maturity. In him it resisted, through fourscore and five years, the encroachments of decay, bending, at all times, rather than breaking, under every assault of disease. A manly stature, an attractive person, a noble aspect and voice, were easily united with a dignified bearing, a kindly manner, and a graceful elocution. The mind, corresponding with the outward frame, uttered itself in calm and lucid thought, in harmonious sentences, and in perspicuous arguments. These qualities were due to the direct gift of the Creator, in his very nature, or to the blessing which attended such a nature under the usual process of educational culture.

The Providence that designed him for the work which he has done gave him his first education under the roof of a father who exemplified the ancient, sober religion of New England. His collegiate course, pursued at two institutions, was accomplished at an age when he was ripe for all its benefits; and he soon became, and long continued [11/12] a member of the Faculty of Union College. It was not till the age of thirty-six that he took Holy Orders; and he came to the ministry with an intellect so well furnished through this preparatory discipline, with a judgment so singularly correct, and with so well developed a power of guiding the minds of men, that it seemed no surprise to see him, under the special commendation of so discerning a judge as Bishop Hobart, carried in three years and a half from his admission into the Diaconate to the charge and administration of this Diocese, in the seat of Seabury. Valuable as is the sympathy with pastoral labors which is acquired in pastoral labors, it has yet been sometimes found, that clergymen who have been much employed in the higher departments of education, have brought with them to the Episcopate a peculiar wisdom and discernment, which has proved even more effective in the work of ecclesiastical government than qualities which are more especially exercised in the immediate care of souls. His equability, his sagacity, the impartiality of his determinations, the largeness of his views, the avoidance of needless collisions, the decision of his conduct, when decision became needful, had their result in this strong and united and confiding Diocese. He sought no constrained uniformity. He entertained no fanciful ideal. He leaned towards no extreme tendency. He was steadfast, because his mind was clear. He brushed away [12/13] all that was not essential to any question or purpose, or smiled, and suffered it to pass by. He recognized the rights of all. No one had cause to suppose himself wronged with him by any prejudice; and when, "swift to hear, slow to speak, and very slow to wrath," he spoke at length; the Church listened and was satisfied.

Whatever he owed to a happy natural organization, whatever to the training of earlier life, God alone gave both these, and the heart to offer both to His service and glory. But emphatically was it the grace of God only that could create the manifest bloom of faith, of hope, and, greatest of all, of charity. We must praise God that the truth which He intrusted to His servant was never imperilled in his hands, and had the deep conviction and reliance of his heart, and the control of all his ways. We must bless our merciful Lord for the spectacle of the ever cheerful patience and glad trust which made his days flow so gently; which enabled him to feel and say, that the last months of his life had been as happy as any period in all the past, and which failed not to his last farewells and his dying hour. We must adore that blessed Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace, for the example which, in that foremost place, we so long have witnessed of all which was kindly, forbearing, compassionate, generous, conciliating; of gratitude towards God, and benevolence towards mankind; of the beatitude [13/14] of the meek and the peacemaker; of a conversation out of which the memory of much intercourse can recall no word that seemed to indicate an uncharitable thought; and of a conduct which scarcely, at any time, drew on itself a severer reproach than that of unwillingness to wound. Wise as he was, and learned and able and honored, yet the first title which will attend him to his grave, springing everywhere most readily from the lips of those who saw him most nearly, will be that of "the good Bishop;" and for the love and the peace which dwelt in him, and to which that spontaneous tribute bears witness, God's holy name be praised !

Brethren of the Church in this city, and of the Clergy and Laity of this Diocese, and you, my brethren in the Episcopate, and you who, in a still nearer and more tender sense, are mourners to-day, we cannot lament; except as we always lament that we shall see a beloved face no more. The time had arrived; and every prayer was granted. It is only left to us now, with all signs of reverence, of thankfulness, and of faith, to accompany that which was mortal to its resting-place. There, in full view of the resurrection of the just and unjust, of the reward of him who is found steadfast to the end, and of the woe on such as withdraw their hand through unbelief, let us rise to the measure of the work which we have still to do for our Lord on earth. So, in the holiness and [14/15] prosperity of the Church, and in our own faithfulness and salvation, may be built, through the grace of God, the most grateful monument to the memory of all the blessing which He has sent us in His servant, now with Him!



ON the day of the BISHOP'S demise the following Circular was issued:--

HARTFORD, Jan. 13th, 1865.

"Dear Brethren,--It is my painful duty to announce to you that GOD has been pleased to take out of this world the soul of our revered and beloved Diocesan, the Rt. Rev. THOMAS CHURCH BROWNELL, D. D., LL. D.

"He entered into rest at an early hour this morning, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; 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.

"The funeral services will take place in Christ Church, in this city, on Tuesday, the 17th inst., at one o'clock, P. M.

"Let me affectionately ask your prayers for the bereaved family, for the Diocese, and for myself.

"Commending you to the blessing of Almighty GOD,

"I am your brother and servant in the Lord,

[17]At nine o'clock on the morning of the day appointed for the funeral solemnities, the remains of the late BISHOP were carried, by several of the Wardens and Vestrymen of the parishes in Hartford,--accompanied by Bishops Williams, and Potter of New York, together with a number of the Clergy of the city, to Christ Church. The coffin bore the following inscription:--

D. D., LL. D.,

The remains, clothed in the Episcopal habit, were placed on a catafalque in front of the chancel, and were seen, during the day, by thousands of persons, who thronged the Church till the hour when the doors were closed.

Shortly after noon prayers were read at the residence of the deceased BISHOP, by the Rev. George H. Clark, D. D., Rector of Christ Church, and the Family, the Bishops, Pall-bearers, and Clergy of the city, then proceeded to the Church. Here Bishop Eastburn read the sentences as the procession entered, Bishop Hopkins the Burial Anthem, and Bishop Clark the Lesson. After the Address, by Bishop Burgess, a hymn was sung, and collects were read by Bishop Eastburn. The procession then formed in the following order:--

[18] USHERS.

Messrs. James Goodwin and Thomas Belknap.
The Right Rev. Bishop Hopkins, The Right Rev. Bishop Eastburn,
The Right Rev. Bishop Burgess, The Right Rev. Bishop Potter,
The Right Rev. Bishop Clark, The Rev. Dr. Clark, of Christ Church.


Z. Preston, Ebenezer Flower, R. D. Hubbard, Hez. Huntington,
James G. Wells, Geo. G. Sill, Elisha Johnson, Timothy C. Allyn.

George Beach, Allyn S. Stillman, James Bolter, Wm. T. Lee,
Edward Goodman, L. B. Goodman, F. A. Brown, Lucius J. Hendee.

Gen. N. M. Waterman, in charge of body.
George Brinley, Esq., in charge of funeral.


The Rev. Dr. Mead, The Rev. Dr. Hallam, The Rev. Dr. Holcomb,
The Rev. Dr. Clark, The Rev. Dr. Goodwin, The Rev. Dr. Fuller,
The Rev. Dr. Beardsley, The Rev. Dr. Camp, The Rev. Dr. Short,
The Rev. Dr. T. W. Coit, The Rev. Mr. Willey, The Rev. Mr. Jarvis,
The Rev. Dr. Emery, The Rev. Mr. Fisher, The Rev. Mr. Yarrington,
The Rev. Mr. Huntington.

Family and Friends.
Bishop Williams,
with the President of Trinity College, and the Parochial Clergy of Hartford.
Clergy of the Diocese.

[19] Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ, St. John's, Trinity, and St. Paul's Churches, Hartford.
Faculty and Students of Trinity College.
Faculty and Students of the Berkeley Divinity School.
Officers of the Retreat for the Insane.

As the long procession passed on to the Cemetery, the snow fell thickly on the pall, changing its blackness to the purest white.

The Service at the tomb was said by Bishops Hopkins, and Potter of New York; and the mortal remains of a wise, godly, and beloved FATHER in the Church of GOD, were laid down, in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection in the last day.

From the Cemetery the procession returned to the Chapel of Christ Church, where Bishop Williams called the meeting to order, and proposed that Bishop Hopkins--now Presiding Bishop--should take the Chair; which being done, the Rev. J. M. Willey, of Bridgeport, was appointed Secretary.

A Committee, consisting of Bishops Hopkins, Burgess, and Potter of New York, and Drs. Mead, of Connecticut, Haight, of New York, and Bolles, of Boston, reported the following Minute, which was adopted:--

"It having pleased GOD, in His wisdom, to remove from his earthly labors, after an Episcopate of forty-five years, the late venerable Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut, the Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, we cannot separate without recording an expression of our feelings on the bereavement which the Church has sustained [19/20] by his decease, and of our gratitude to our Heavenly Father, who has for so many years permitted us to enjoy his Episcopal services.

"In the Episcopate of Bishop BROWNELL we have witnessed, in an unusual degree, zeal tempered by prudence, knowledge displayed without ostentation, and an administration which, while not too remiss, was not forgetful of mercy.

"Sound in the faith, wise in counsel, diligent in the duties of his holy office, while his health permitted, he has been to the flock of Christ committed to his care, a faithful shepherd.

"We tender our sincere condolence to the widow and children of the departed Bishop, commending them to the religious consolations, which, to the last, were his unfailing support.

"To the Diocese of Connecticut, over which he has so wisely, kindly, and effectively exercised his Episcopate, the fruits of which are strikingly manifest in its prosperity and harmony, we would express our deep sympathy in their loss, and fervently pray that GOD may bestow on his successor grace to sustain him in carrying on the work of the Church of Christ, so well begun by Bishop Seabury, and continued under the ministration of Bishop Jarvis, and the good Bishop whose loss we now mourn.

"With the other Dioceses of our Church who have honored and revered Bishop BROWNELL for a series of years as their Presiding Bishop, discharging the duties of his high office with singular dignity, unfailing gentleness and courtesy, and a heart ever alive to all that appertained to the peace and welfare of the Church,--while with them we mourn his loss as of one eminently qualified for the oversight to which he was called, we would at the same time express our gratitude to the Great Head of the Church [20/21] for the many blessings enjoyed during the period of his administration.

"Instructing the officers of this meeting to communicate this Minute to the widow and family of the deceased, and, through the Church periodicals, to give the same to the Clergy and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the Diocese of Connecticut, and of the United States of America, we commend them all to the care of Almighty GOD, our Heavenly Father, and of His SON Jesus Christ, and to the consolations of the Holy and ever blessed SPIRIT, the undivided TRINITY and UNITY." Amen.

On motion of Dr. Hallam, Bishop Burgess was respectfully requested to furnish a copy of his Address for publication, and the meeting adjourned.



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