Power and Peace: The Sermon, Preached at the Requiem Eucharist, November 17, A.D. 1902 (Month's Mind) in S. Stephen's Church, Providence, Rhode Island in Memory of the Rev. Evelyn Pierrepont Bartow, M.A., Priest and Former Curate of the Parish.
By George McClellan Fiske.
Providence: Printed by S. Martha's Society, S. Barbara's Guild and Other Friends, 1902.
“The meek-spirited shall possess the earth, and shall be refreshed in the multitude of peace.” Ps. 37 ii.
The world has few words, and no time, to waste upon the meek-spirited and the unassuming. The people that are in evidence, that talk much and are talked much of, who can attract attention, are the people in whom the world is interested.
But the world to come is altogether interested in the humble and the meek. Mary, Virgin, of low estate in Galilee, Lazarus, the beggar, David, the Shepherd boy, are dear to God and His Holy Angels. The Bible, the Holy Ghost, and our Blessed Lord are occupied with the notice and the praise of quietness and hiddenness and silence. The souls who make no noise, who have no trumpets sounded before them, are often the Lord’s delight, for they fear Him, and put their trust in His Mercy.
Their simplicity and childlikeness are pleasant in the eyes of their Father Who is in Heaven.
Of such, truly, is the Kingdom of GOD.
Such an one was Evelyn Pierrepont Bartow, Priest.
Because he was such, and because he was a Priest, tried and true, faithful unto death, I feel that he is worthy of our most serious and affectionate regard. I believe that any Priest, who finishes his course in faith and honour, deserves public eulogy and thankful tribute. The vocation of the priest is supernatural. It is of GOD. His position is a perilous one. He has many a subtle temptation. If he be conscious of his calling and estate, if he cherish and try to live up to his office and order, he will have scant sympathy, he will be much [3/4] misunderstood, he will not be appreciated, even by good people—he will live a lonelier life than most men ever have to lead. And so when a priest has stood fast and firm, when he has been patient and courageous to the last, it is a triumph of the grace of GOD. And it ought to be magnified as such. It is now a little over seven years since the Priest, whom we commemorate, ceased to minister in this Church, and from that time we saw his face here no more, nor shall we ever see it here again. Once only, and that some five years ago, have I, myself, seen him, although we have been constant correspondents. Yet all of us, who were here in his time, can see before us—as if this very moment—that quaint little figure, so dignified and truly reverend. We can see him, as he passed up and down these aisles, as he stood in his stall at Matins, and Evensong—as he celebrated the Holy Mysteries at the Altar.
The Altar is the place where we can see him most distinctly, and with it, above all other places, he would wish us to associate him in our visions and recollections. As a Celebrant he excelled. His perfect repose of manner, his grace, and earnest solemn utterance could not fail to impress beholders and hearers and to heighten their devotion.
Few persons who saw this reserved and self-contained man, of few words, and unobtrusive demeanour, would suspect what a personality was there. He was no surface character. He was strong and positive, with a mind and a will all his very own. He observed and thought on many things. He was as Solomon says—like deep water—and it took men of understanding to draw him out. He did not give himself away to every comer. In the likeness of His Lord he did not commit himself. He conversed and walked with GOD. He communed with his own heart, and in his chamber, and was still. In these days of more reading, and less thinking, he was a man of reflection. His opinions and ideas, when he disclosed them, were clear and decided, wise and sensible, and often quite original. I have been astonished, more than once, by his understanding and [4/5] answers. For nearly nine years this godly Priest, this holy, unworldly, uncommon man, travelled in our company, in the pilgrimage of life, attending the Ark of GOD. Whence came he? Holy Scripture seems to make much of lineage, descent, antecedents of those whom it records. The lives of the sons are ever glancing backward to the fathers. GOD prepares, out of one generation, instruments to glorify Him in a succeeding one. Evelyn Pierrepont Bartow seemed, like the saints of the Bible, to have been prepared by his ancestry and rearing for the immediate service of GOD. He came of a long line of good people in favour with GOD and man. Few, speaking after the manner of men, are better born than he. His kindred, a wide-spreading relationship, crowded with names eminent in the history of this country, was trained and refined and hallowed by the best gifts of Heaven and earth.
Our Priest was the son of Edgar J. Bartow and Harriet Constable Pierrepont, his wife, and was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., on June 13, 1846.
Mr. Edgar Bartow was a very religious man, who consecrated his abundant wealth, in an unusual degree, to the glory of GOD. His monument is the important parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, which he and his wife built, at their own cost, as an offering to the Lord.
Evelyn Pierrepont was the first child baptized in that Church. He was truly a child of GOD. His sister tells me—“From his earliest childhood he knew the Holy Scriptures, and when a tiny boy had his regular vestments, that he might read the Service for my Mother, who was an invalid.” A very old friend of his parents says: “I recall him lying on the floor in his Mother’s room, studying the Bible.” In due time he received Confirmation, and lived thenceforth on the Bread of Life, always having a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. After careful preparation in the best schools of Brooklyn, he was admitted to Columbia College, from which he was graduated, as a Bachelor of Arts, in 1869.
 He then entered the General Theological Seminary, and, completing the full three years course, was ordained Deacon by Bishop Horatio Potter, on June 30,1872.
This same year he received in course, from Columbia College, the degree of Master of Arts. He was advanced to the Priesthood, by Bishop Potter, on S. Peter’s Day, 1873.
It was while he was yet a student in the Seminary, and I was a Candidate for Holy Orders, studying elsewhere, that I first heard, from his fellow-students, his friends and mine, of Evelyn Bartow. He was spoken of with the most profound respect, as man and scholar. I soon heard more of him, after his ordination, when he became a Priest of Mt. Calvary Parish, Baltimore, where he served under the lamented Fr. Joseph Richey, one of the finest Priests the American Church ever had—and later, under one whom we all know and love, the Rev. Robert H. Paine. Fr. Bartow’s repute among the clergy was always the very highest.
He was esteemed as one of the truest Priests, replenished with learning and truth of GOD’S doctrine, and endued with innocency of life. His service in Baltimore was about nine years in length. Then he became Latin Master, in S. Austin’s School, Staten Island, and a little later, Rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter, Rahway, New Jersey.
On the first of January, 1886, he began to minister as Curate of this Parish, where he remained until October 1, 1895.
Those were happy years for the Rector, and the people to whom he was a Pastor. And such a Pastor as he was! Those who were entrusted to his oversight will never forget his faithful friendship, his loving thoughtfulness, his watchful care for their souls and bodies, his frequent and regular visits. They will never be without his prayers. He was a good Shepherd. He knew his sheep. He called them all by their names. He kept them in mind. I have never met a Priest who went after people and followed them up—young and [6/7] old—high and low—rich and poor—with such system and such assiduous attention. He had the true love of souls. He loved our Lord—and so, of course, he loved the Church and the Sacraments. He loved to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. He loved to Baptize. He felt and believed that in bringing souls to Baptism he was carrying out Christ’s directions and His Will. And what numbers he did baptize! People of S. Stephen’s—you may live a hundred years and have Priest after Priest here—and you will never get one, who as a true Priest—as a real every day—and all days—missionary of Christ and His Church—will surpass in diligence, fidelity, and enduring results, Evelyn Pierrepont Bartow. He kept track of every soul he had to do with. He never let it go. He kept it always before GOD. He kept a careful register of everybody he baptized, and he prayed for each one by name. I never had a letter from him in which he did not make many personal inquiries. He would often say that he did not speak of all those of whom he would know, because it would take me too long to reply about so many. He always watched the Confirmation lists, published in S. Stephen, for the names of those whom he had baptized. I have never known so painstaking and minute and far-reaching a love for human souls. His labours here were blessed. He went about,—like Christ—doing good. As Warden of the Sunday-school, he promoted its spiritual life, and increased its numbers. As Founder and Chaplain of S. Martha’s Society, and of S. Barbara’s Guild, he had an influence, and did a work, which will bring forth a harvest, unto Life Eternal. He was a good Confessor and a real Counsellor. Simply and with good Christian common sense he guided and illuminated those who sought him. A former Chorister and Acolyte, now a man grown and useful in a parish in another Diocese, writes to me: “It is with deep regret that I read of the death of the Rev. Fr. Bartow, and I send you my testimony of the great help that his advice and his kind words and deeds have been to me. I always found in him a true friend, with godly counsel, and a kind word at all times.”
 As a preacher, Fr. Bartow was extremely plain, practical, and brief. None was more fully aware than himself that he had not the gift of preaching, and yet I never listened to him without being interested and helped, and I verily believe that his sermons did far more good than a great many that are rated more highly and more applauded. He always preached the Catholic Faith, with no uncertain sound. He was a Scriptural preacher. The Bible was with him—as it is to the Church—the Word of GOD; and I believe that no one could listen to him as they should, without being strengthened in Faith and Conduct. Some of his sermons I shall never forget. His addresses at the seven o’clock Service on Good Friday, and Courses of Lent Lectures on the History of the Church, and on the Psalms, were most admirable, and nothing could have been better for their time and purpose and hearers. And so the years went on here, rich in the valuable help he bore in the upbuilding of the Church in this Parish. In the winter of 1892 he married, under the happiest circumstances, and had, for less than two years—what apparently the stern Providence of GOD had for long denied him—a home. That episode was a tragedy in its pathos.
The sudden death of Mrs. Bartow—in the Autumn of 1894—once more made him a solitary, and all the more one for the momentary glimpse of domestic happiness permitted him. Anxiety and grief undermined his health to a greater degree than we realized or even suspected—and in September, 1895, he left Providence, never to return. In the summer of 1897 it was a great pleasure to me to be instrumental in having Fr. Bartow invited to the Rectorship of S. Mark’s, Hammonton, New Jersey, in which I began my own ministry in 1874.
Here he was beloved of the people—and his work was greatly blessed. He found it, however, beyond his strength, and after a year, to the sorrow of his parishioners, resigned, and returned to Utica, where he has since resided—assisting constantly in the Services of S. George’s Church, from which, after the Offering of the [8/9] Holy Sacrifice, his body was borne forth to be laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery, along with those he loved.
This is the story of this life. An uneventful life, as men would account it. He attained no conspicuous place in the Church. He acquired no flattering titles. He enjoyed no emoluments or dignities. What men call honours were not for him? He went his way in meekness all his life through. He was not disturbed by irritating ambitions. He was content to take the lowest place—and pass unnoticed while others attracted the attention and bore the names of distinction and enjoyed the praise. He was never for one moment deceived by the world into even the subtle kind of worldliness which creeps over ecclesiastics—the seeking for place, and the seeking of self. His one desire was to serve GOD, as a Priest, and to be a father to the souls of sinful men. How many things in those Epistles of S. Paul for Pastors—the Epistles to SS. Timothy and Titus—must rise to our minds as we observe this Priest—how he was a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith, and of good doctrine, how he was an example of the believers in word and conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity; how he, as a man of GOD, followed after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness; how he in all things showed himself a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that can not be condemned. What a blessed record to have left behind him—of having been one in whom those sayings have come true.
He was meek-spirited, going on in the homely path of duty in patience, silence, humility, bearing all things, hoping all things, en-enduring all things, keeping an even mind—neither elated nor depressed. He was a real Christian philosopher, as the meek-spirited always are. And such possess the earth. They are its real proprietors, because their characters and examples and influences and mem-ones pervade society, like an atmosphere in which alone true life can be sustained. The alabaster box was shattered, but the perfume of [9/10] the ointment filled the house. The meek-spirited go from us. They die and their bodies are turned to dust—but what they were, the spirit in which they lived among us, enters into all our perceptions and our thoughts. We see and feel how good they were. The power of their personalities takes possession of us, and affects us to gratitude, admiration, and the desire to imitate them. The talk, the show, the parade and pomp of life, all die away, but the meek spirit lasts.
Such a life as this we have been considering ought to make us think more, and judge more carefully, and avoid vulgar or superficial standards of worth. What a perpetual rebuke is that which has been written down in regard to S. Paul. They said—the world—the Christian world of that day, said: “His presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” They were punished simply by having their shallow, foolish judgment thus preserved for comparison with the judgment of the Church of GOD. They are reproached thus for all time. They are put up in the pillory exposed to the scorn of all ages. This experience of S. Paul ought to be a lesson to all followers of the Bible, to be more cautious in our estimates of men—to try to look less on the outward appearance, and to forbear saying things, and making criticisms of others, which we should be ashamed to have preserved as what we said. Let us value more the qualities which GOD loves— meekness, lowliness of mind, humbleness, fidelity, and loyalty to Christ and His Church. These qualities win and hold in the long run. Their effects are wide and lasting. They subdue and enter into the hearts of men, and so possess the earth.
I have said nothing of Mr. Bartow’s position as a Churchman. He was a Catholic in the fullest and best sense of the name. He accepted wholly the Faith of the Undivided Church, and was convinced that the Anglo-Catholic Communion in which he was born and reared was in its great principles true to the Divine Body, the Holy Church throughout all the world, the Church of the early ages, even if from force of circumstances it had seemed to fail in carrying out these principles. He was a careful student, and he knew that the [10/11] Book of Common Prayer is a Catholic formulary in which the Catholic Faith, its theory of worship and the Sacramental System, are unmistakably contained.
He was a master of Church history, old and new. He had surveyed the field with the true instinct of the judicial historian, and he saw all in its proper perspective. I have frequently admired in him his power to put himself in the place of those who differed, his ability to grasp the point of view of Protestants and those who failed to accept the full teaching of the Church. He could make allowances for their position, and he could and did praise heartily the good and the truth they held and lived by, even though he felt it to be a disproportioned holding of the truth. I shall scarcely find again one from whom I shall learn more than I learned from him in our intercourse of nine years.
Let us always cherish the name and character of our Priest departed. And let us pray, as he would wish, that he may be more and more refreshed in the multitude of peace.