Project Canterbury

The Great-Hearted Shepherd.

The Sermon in Memory of
the Right Reverend George Washington Doane, D.D., LL. D.,
Late Bishop of the Diocese of New-Jersey.

By the Rev. Milo Mahan, D.D.

New York: Pudney and Russell, 1859.

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." ST. JOHN, xxi: 17.

WHAT a picture, my brethren, is here presented to us in a few living words! It is the good Shepherd—the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls—proving the heart of a frail mortal man, sitting over it as a Refiner and Purifier, moulding it, as it were, anew, and so fitting the owner to become, like Himself, a shepherd—a great-hearted shepherd—a shepherd after His own heart. And what a lesson we learn as to the way in which God chooses the noblest instruments of His bounty! Judged merely by his faults, Simon, the son of Jonas, was perhaps the least promising of all the disciples of our Lord. He was seemingly, at all events, the least consistent. Not a virtue of his is recorded without some corresponding defect; not an instance of faith without the counterbalancing mention of at least a momentary unbelief. His merits and short-comings, his strength and weakness, his glory and shame are set so impartially, the one against the other, in the broad light of the Word of Divine Truth, that if we were to form our judgment of his character by mere rules of arithmetic, we might be at a loss to decide, whether on the whole the evil or the good, the flesh or the spirit, had the pretating power. But his Judge was one not governed by rules of arithmetic. He saw what was in the heart of man, and judged by what He saw. To Him, therefore, it was not necessary to make a nice balance of the good and evil deeds of His servant,—to set his firm confession at one moment against his fleshly opposition the next; his walking the waters through faith, against his miserable sinking through unbelief; his mighty preaching in Jerusalem, against his weak dissimulation at Antioch: behind all contradictions of this kind the divine Master saw what was true, essential, and abiding in the character of His disciple. At the moment of his deepest self-abasement the latter could fearlessly appeal to Him, and say, "Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee" And the appeal was both heard, and approved. "Feed my lambs—feed my sheep—feed my sheep"—was the gracious answer to it. The trust, which of all others implies the greatest confidence, and demands the finest qualities both of head and heart, was commended with special emphasis to the ardent and devoted, but seemingly inconsistent, Simon.

And the judgment of our Lord in that case is the judgment of every true heart in all similar cases to the end of time. To know a really good and great man is a matter of direct spiritual insight, rather than of labored calculation. It is an instinctive judgment of the heart. It is attained only by contemplating the man as a living whole. On the other hand, where there is real greatness or goodness, the first opportunity afforded of thus contemplating it as a whole, enables every candid person to see and acknowledge it. Hence the meaning of that noble spectacle so creditable to our common humanity, when men who have been opposed through life lay aside their hostilities at the grave; when the uncompromising foe of yesterday becomes to-day the warm and enthusiastic admirer. In such cases there is no real change in the parties themselves. It is merely a change of relation. During life we see one another in arms, as it were. We judge one another by salient, and it may be offensive, points. But when death comes, it strips off the terrors of the nodding crest; it quenches the Gorgon glare of the stained and battered shield; it reveals the man to us as he is in himself; and by one whole judgment of the heart we correct the many fractional and superficial judgments, by which we may have been led astray. It is in more than one sense, therefore, that we say over the graves of the departed, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." With the earthly half of our beloved we bury whatever is merely earthly, and accidental, in their life and character. We fix our minds wholly upon the essential and abiding part. As our Lord, in His examination, or (as I might call it) His vindication of Simon, deemed it enough to have a clear answer to the question, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" so, in our estimate of all benefactors of our race, if we know what they loved, we know what they lived for; and if we know what they lived for, we have a key to the interpretation of all the problems of their lives.

These reflections, my brethren, will, I trust, not be deemed inappropriate to the noble but difficult subject, which, in compliance with a request that I feel not at liberty to decline, and trusting to the favorable allowance of my hearers, I have undertaken to bring before you at this time and place. George Washington Doane, for twenty-seven years the Bishop of this Diocese, was like the great Apostle in a certain peculiar ardor of genius and of temper; like him, he held a position of the highest and most sacred trust; like him, he was constantly thrown by his own promptness and decision, into that foremost rank among his peers, which is the post of peril as well as of honor; and like him, he was led, by the instincts of his heart and by the guiding of God's good Providence, to make that command of the great Shepherd—feed my lambs, feed my sheep—the controlling principle of his manifold labors and efforts. To speak all in one word, Bishop Doane was eminently a public man. He was eminently a Shepherd. History, I doubt not, will enroll his name among the wise and great-hearted Shepherds of the Flock of Christ.

He was eminently a Shepherd; a shepherd in character, as well as in position. He had skill to guide and feed, tenderness to heal, watchfulness to guard, promptitude and courage to defend, the flock. He had, in fact, all the divinely noted marks of a true Shepherd. He cared for the sheep. Could that great heart, which now lies in St. Mary's churchyard, be opened to our spiritual sight, we should be amazed, not at the number merely, but at the freshness and distinctness of the images indelibly stamped upon it; images of individuals, old and young, rich and poor, ever present before his mind, the thread of whose lives had, by the exercise of a constant solicitude on his part, become inwoven, as it were, into the very texture of his life. Bishop Doane had in all things, as we know, a strong memory: but where that memory was aided by his sympathy for the sheep of Christ, it was almost preternaturally strong. In the same way,—to take another mark of the true Shepherd,—it may blossom and fruit, in his case, sprang side by as it were, on the self-same bough; and his poetical powers, like his practical, continued fresh and vigorous to the last. And this, indeed, was eminently characteristic of the man. He allowed none of his gifts to fall into rust or decay. In small things, as in great, he imposed upon himself a law of steady and untiring self-improvement. In every department of his genius, his last efforts were unquestionably among his best. What sermons of his were more solid, more powerful, than some of those he preached on his last visitations? What oration, of the many he has delivered on the same theme, had more of patriotic inspiration, or of living force, than the one recently uttered here in Burlington on the subject of Washington? What address to the fair daughters of St. Mary's Hall was ever more sparkling, more imaginative, and yet more profound amid its play of sunny wit and wisdom, than that exquisite legacy he bequeathed to the last graduating class?

At this moment, my brethren, I have before me the first Episcopal address, delivered by Bishop Doane before the Convention of this Diocese in the year 1833. It is a favorable sample of the earlier productions of his pen. I will venture to say, however, that whoever will take the pains to compare it in point of style, or thought, with his later efforts of the same kind, will have before him the best proof possible, that the postmeridian of man's life is not necessarily a period of decline. With Bishop Doane it was certainly the reverse. His motto, Right onward, was never more present to him, than when he fell with harness on in the midst of the field of his labors.

But it is none the less true, as we may learn from a glance at the particulars of the Bishop's life, that the foundation of this solid work of self-improvement was laid at the period in which alone it can be well laid,—the critical period of early education.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, May 27, A. D. 1799, he removed with his parents to New York while yet a boy, and was put under the instruction of that most amiable and excellent of men, whom afterwards he so much delighted to honor, the Rev. Dr. Barry. We find him next in Geneva, preparing for College under Mr. Hubbell. Here he showed his zeal for the principles instilled into him from childhood, by declining to learn his Christian duties from any other catechism than that of the Church. For this he was whipped and disgraced, But the firmness of the boy-martyr rallied many of his companions around him; and in the end those who preferred the Church .catechism were allowed to use it. In 1816 he entered the Fall term of the Sophomore year in Union College, About this time he seems to have formed that habit of working late at night, which doubtless took something from the length, hut added more to the intensity and efficiency, of his after-life. He usually studied till 12 o'clock, four of the hours thus gained being given to extra-collegiate reading. Graduating in 1818, and returning to New York where his family were still living, he began the study of the law; but this proving on trial distasteful to him, he gave it up after a few months, and read for Holy Orders, in a class which constituted the germ of the General Theological Seminary, under Bishop Hobart, Dr. Brownell, and Dr. Jarvis. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop Hobart in 1821; Priest in 1823; became Assistant in Trinity Church, New York; taught a very successful boys' school; and found time among other engagements to aid the Rev. Mr. Upfold (now Bishop of Indiana) in founding St. Luke's Church, the first services being held in a watch-house.

In 1824 he was elected Professor of Belles Lettres in Washington (now Trinity) College, Hartford, and travelled, raising funds for the College, all through the South. In this place began his deep-rooted intimacy, so tender and so enduring, with that noble Christian pastor and soldier of the Cross, the Rev. Dr. Croswell. Here also he made time for the editing of a staunch Church periodical, the Episcopal Watchman.

In 1828 he removed to Boston, being chosen Assistant to Dr. Gardiner, Rector of Trinity Church. On the death of the Rector, he was elected into his place; and the Rev. Mr. Hopkins, now Bishop of Vermont, became Assistant. In Boston he married, and had two sons, both still living. Here for the first time in his life he was in a position to pursue a career of usefulness and honor, entirely free from the embarrassment of pecuniary straits, and with as many advantages and as few hindrances, on the whole, as any man this side of the grave can reasonably expect. It was not the design of Providence, however, that such a man should rest in any easy position. On the 3rd of October, 1832, he was suddenly, and "without the slightest intimation," called out of it by the voice of the Diocese of New Jersey. The time of General Convention was near at hand. Less than twelve days were allowed for deliberation. Under these circumstances, "convinced," as he expresses it, "on principles which have been long since deliberately adopted as the rules of my life, and by the concurring judgments of those who were best fitted to form an accurate decision in the premises, that such was my duty to His Church, whose soldier and servant I am—I communicated to the Committee ...... my letter of acceptance; and on the 31st day of the same month was consecrated to the office of a Bishop in the Church of God, by the Rt. Rev. Dr. White, the presiding Bishop, assisted by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Onderdonk, of New York, and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Ives, of North Carolina. That the solemnities of that day may he propitious to this our portion of the vineyard of the Lord, and promotive now and hereafter of the kingdom and glory of our divine Redeemer, let me have, brethren, as I most truly need, your fervent and continued prayers." In this spirit he entered on the trials and triumphs that awaited him in the Diocese of New Jersey. What those trials and what those triumphs have been, my brethren, it were needless at this time and place to attempt to describe. Bishop Doane now belongs to history: and history will do him justice. Suffice it to say, then, by way of brief summary, that, born the 27th of May, 1799, he died the 27th of April,. 1859, in the 27th year of his episcopate. So far as earthly profit goes, the balance of his life is easily struck. He came into the world with no means beyond those of a solid education. He passed through it with ample ability and opportunity, but no disposition, to accumulate wealth. He left it not owning one inch of land, or any other property whatever. But this indifference to accumulation was shown with regard to money only. In reference to all higher interests, the desire of increase, the joy a thrifty man feels in seeing things grow and prosper, was almost a ruling passion of his life. Thus in boyhood, while at College, he pinched himself to the utmost in gathering around him the nucleus of a library. In later years the same thrifty disposition was shown in a way already mentioned,—in the extraordinary diligence, namely, with which he improved his gifts to the last, and added something daily to the stores of his varied knowledge. His extensive correspondence, so long and steadily kept up, with men of the highest worth, both in this country and in England, is a further illustration of the same admirable trait of character. And the same thing was shown in his management of parochial, diocesan, and educational affairs. No shepherd ever counted his sheep more carefully day by day, no merchant was ever more solicitous to be adding something constantly to his stock in trade, than Bishop Doane was to have each year's report of his diocese, his parish, his schools, an improvement, if possible, upon all preceding years. And this honorable desire of his was abundantly rewarded. In the sorest pressure of his life, under the heaviest buffetings of adversity, however things might go with himself, he had always the consolation of seeing his work thrive. In the diocese of New Jersey there were doubtless difficulties at times. But amid all difficulties there was work, and there was growth. There was never a day when Bishop Doane could not have said to the Church here, as Jacob said to the master he had so patiently served, "Thy cattle was little, which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude: and the Lord hath blessed thee since my coming."'* With regard to these difficulties which troubled, though happily without clouding or embittering, the latter years of his life, a word, at least, of allusion to the line of conduct he so inflexibly pursued, seems to be demanded by the nature of my subject. Our Bishop, as everybody knows, has been the butt of accusations as gross as those which in the fourth century caused St. Athanasius to be twice condemned by synods of his peers, and drove him at least five times into exile from his home and see. Unlike the great champion of antiquity, however, Bishop Doane, though accused, has never been condemned. The charges brought against him were solemnly dismissed by his peers. This, on all acknowledged principles of equity, ought to be the end of the matter. A man who lives for the public, whether in Church or State, who is much in the public eye, whose heart and brain are continually overtasked in the public service, labors, so far as his own good fame is concerned, under a double disadvantage. He is more exposed than other men to the shafts of calumny: he is less able than other men to guard and defend himself. Every hour that he gives to self-vindication, is so much taken from the cause to which all his time is devoted. For this reason, the true public man is bound in conscience to endure in magnanimous silence, what to other men would seem simply unendurable. A sentinel cannot leave his post to chastise the insolence of the mob. A shepherd cannot leave his flock to answer the challenge of the wolf. In the same way, a public man, when he is assailed by accusations, true or false, is at liberty to meet them only in one way, and on one spot. He cannot go forth to meet them. They must come and meet him. They must come before him in a legally binding, responsible, and authoritative shape. Thus our Lord, before Caiaphas, answered never a word, till solemnly adjured by the living God; and, when questioned by Pilate, declined answering, till fully assured whether Pilate spake of himself—-that is, magisterially—or merely uttered the idle questions of others. On the same principle St. Polycarp declined to plead his cause before the crowd, because, as he alleged, they had no lawful commission to judge him. The public man, in fact, has a public cause to sustain. To that he is wholly pledged. His own cause, therefore, except so far as the vindication of it is forced upon him by due process of legal adjuration, he leaves to God, to time, to the sure though slow instinct of justice in the human heart.

This, my brethren, is the principle on which I believe Bishop Doane to have acted from the beginning to the end of that storm of accusation, which has of late years raged against him. For one, I thank God that he saw the importance of this principle so clearly; that he acted on it so firmly. At a time when irresponsible accusation is becoming more and more a great power in the land, the man who refuses to bow to it, who at his own peril holds up against it the standard of time-honored law, is doing good service both to the Church and country.

Bishop Doane saw this. And when, in the face of a wide-spread clamor, and even against the wishes of many of his friends, he declared that he would do what he could to make the trial of a Bishop hard, he may, indeed, have injured his own cause for a while in public opinion, but he at the same time delivered his own soul: he expressed honestly and boldly a settled and sound conviction.

So far, my brethren, I have spoken of our Bishop chiefly as a Shepherd, or leader in the Church. In what remains to be said, time admonishes me that I must be brief. As it would be improper, however, to dismiss such a subject without some mention of the special talents and virtues by which his character was adorned, I will entreat your attention a little while longer, to a few of his most prominent and best known traits.

Bishop Doane was a mighty Preacher. Of him it might eminently be said, that his preaching was not in word only, hut in power. Mighty in the Scriptures, he had hardly a thought, varied and original as all his thoughts were, which did not spontaneously arm itself, as it were, in the panoply of Inspiration. And the theme of his preaching was always Christ—Christ crucified, Christ risen; Christ the meritorious Cause of Salvation, Christ the living Power; Christ the Alpha and Omega, Christ the All in All. No one could recur more frequently than he, none more naturally, none with greater force of thought or variety of illustration, to that sacred basis of all pulpit power.

He was an able and skilful Teacher. Preaching and Teaching—preaching the Gospel, and teaching all that Christ hath commanded—were with him complementary to one another. The few massive Truths, which he announced from the pulpit in all their solid weight and strength, he could analyse from the desk, and divide into their most minute and varied applications. In Catechising, also, he had a tact universally admired. By a well put question he could open a child's mind, and deposit a living truth there, so skilfully and with so delicate a touch, that it would seem to have sprung up from the soil itself. This beautiful art he cultivated, like all his other gifts, with the utmost care. But his peculiar talent for teaching, his intense love of children, and his pliability of mind in dealing with young- persons generally, were only branches, after all, from one great stem —- a stem that could not possibly have sprung from any other soil than that of a wise and good heart—his appreciation of the importance, and entire devotion to the cause, of Christian education. Had Bishop Doane no other title to a fair fame among men, the work that has been done within a few rods of Riverside would be amply sufficient. Were there no other proof that he was a wise and good man, it would be amply enough to say, that he lived and labored twenty years under the scrutiny of those keen young eyes; that the more he was scrutinized by them, the more he was admired; that to the last day of his life St. Mary's Hall and Burlington College believed in him, and loved him, with a confidence never shaken for a moment. Put an unreal man into a situation such as that. In a year, he would tire of it; in less than a year, it would be thoroughly tired of him. I regard it, therefore, as Bishop Doane's peculiar glory, his most solid title to the name of a true Shepherd, that all his life long, he fed the lambs of Christ; that all his life long, the lambs heard his voice, and followed him without fear. And his noblest service to the diocese of New Jersey is, that he has imbued it with the same spirit. In this diocese, catechising is at least respected. The Parish School is at least recommended. Not boys only, but girls, are regarded as fit subjects of solid Christian education. My brethren, let us cherish this legacy of our departed Bishop. Instead of the mere senseless slab, or marble column, those monuments of dead faith which men raise to the memory of departed greatness, let us rear to its topmost stone that work of living faith, the foundations of which have, with such patience of hope, and unwearied labor of love, been already laid among us. Let the work of our Bishop live, and his memory will live.

In conclusion, my brethren, I pass by many other points of our Bishop's greatness, his influence, for example, in General or Diocesan Convention; his soundness as a theologian; his admirable skill in seizing and presenting the living heart of a great truth, without entangling himself in over-nice distinctions; his earnest and constant interest in all movements of the day, whether civil, social, ecclesiastical, or political; his remarkable catholicity of heart and mind; his boundless benevolence; his wonderful industry and patience;—all this I am forced to pass over, that I may bring him before you in two sacred spheres, in which depth and reality of character are most thoroughly approved:—that I may show what he was in God's House, and what he was in his own house.

With regard to the House of God:—It is an advantage of our Common Prayer, that it is an inspiring, but not by any means a stimulating service. To use it daily, without weariness, the heart must be habitually lifted up. To prevent its becoming insipid to the taste, those who make it their daily food must learn to have salt in themselves. The constant use of such a service, therefore, is a means of constant self-examination; it is a touch-stone, as it were, of the state of our spiritual affections. Now, that Bishop Doane found time, in the midst of his innumerable and pressing cares, to be in the House of God daily,—that twice, or thrice, or, as often happened, five times a day, he took part in the solemn services of the sanctuary,—is enough to show that, in his case, those services were truly a solace and delight. Indeed, we have his solemn declaration to that effect, repeated on many occasions. And especially, my brethren, in that great agony of his final conflict, during that hour of trial in which it pleased God to strip his mind for a season of its habit of self-control: at that moment, in his sublime delirium, he bore a most impressive witness to the utility of daily public worship: vindicating it by argument, and eloquent appeals, as a fountain of health, an unfailing source of wide-spread spiritual blessing. In this he revealed the secret of his own strength. He was a man of prayer. He believed in prayer. That buoyancy of spirit, which never failed him in the darkest times, or under the most crushing trials; which enabled him habitually to do the work of five men with as much disengagedness of manner as if he had nothing on his mind: he drew from the still but living wells to which he so constantly resorted.

In his own house:—Bishop Doane, like the ardent and impetuous Simon, was a man of warm, and tender, and sympathetic affections. Like the same great Apostle, he was a domestic man. St. Peter is twice thus mentioned in the New Testament; and his wife, we are told in ecclesiastical tradition, smoothed the path of martyrdom for him, by courageously entering it before him. It may be doubted whether a Pastor, in the full sense of the word, can ordinarily be formed in any other sphere. At all events, the only full-length portrait of a Bishop given in the New Testament makes the father and husband particularly conspicuous. A Bishop, as sketched by St. Paul, is a man of home duties, home ties, home affections; a man given to hospitality; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. "The more children in a house," says the German proverb, "the more pater-nosters." The dove, the symbol of the Spirit, is a bird that loves its nest. The Abba, Father, the voice of the Spirit, is a household word. In short, my brethren, the head of a family may not be necessarily the most faultless man; that he is apt to be, however, the most sympathetic, the most tender, the most largely thoughtful for others, is a matter of almost universal experience. Now Bishop Doane's qualities in that genial sphere,—his steadfastness as a friend, his cordial bearing as a host, the reverence and affection he inspired as a husband, a father, a master, his devotion as a son, his fidelity as a brother,—these things are too well known to need any formal description. That house at Riverside was open to the eyes of all. There was domestic life there, but little of the seclusion of private life. I will only say, therefore,—and in this I utter the testimony of thousands of competent judges,—that when Riverside rises before my mind's eye, the wide-open door; the cheerful hum of lighthearted industry, absorbed in works of benevolence or of public utility; the sunshine of a conversation free and sparkling, but in which gossip and evil-speaking were allowed no part; and, pervading all this, an atmosphere redolent of praise; are the images that most naturally present themselves, as descriptive of that bright and hospitable home. It is said, in an old German fable, that at the christening of a certain princess one of the fairies chanced to be uninvited, and ever thereafter harbored a deep grudge for the imagined slight. If any fairy was thus absent from the christening of Bishop Doane, it was the fairy of malice and evil-speaking. His own heart was full of charity and magnanimity. Charity, magnanimity, good will to all men, were inscribed upon the posts, and painted upon the walls, of his house.

That such a man had faults, that he had his full share of human errors and infirmities, may readily be granted, by his firmest friends. Those who loved Bishop Doane best, knew that they loved, not an angel, but a man. They loved a man, I may even say, who was strongly, manifoldly, perilously human. He had an excess of nervous energy, a redundancy of life, which led him continually to overtask his powers. From an intense reality of character, he was too little careful of appearances,—not sufficiently on his guard against misconstruction. He had no vis inertiae in his composition. Self-control and moderation, therefore, were among his acquired, rather than his natural, virtues. He was easily moved, especially on the side of his affections: but he was singularly prompt in recovering his balance. In this respect he might be compared to a well-modelled ship, which sits the waters so lightly, that a zephyr may lay her on her side; and yet so securely, that a tempest fails to overturn her. In short, whatever his faults may have been, the Bishop was a man of faith, a man of prayer, a man of heart, a man of sore conflicts from without and from within. He was a man of great joys, a man of unutterable sorrows.

My brethren, the latter end of such a man is the only point of view from which his life and character can be equitably judged. Let us thank God that Bishop Doane's latter end was in the presence of his brethren, and was seen to be in every way worthy of the Christian, the Soldier, the Poet, the Shepherd. That in every particular he witnessed a good confession to the last; that time was allowed him for all the details of that sober preparation which devout hearts so naturally desire; that home sympathies were around him to smoothe his pillow; that Mother Church smiled upon him with her Easter smile; that mother Nature mingled sunshine and spring-blossoms with the tears that were showered into his grave; that, in short, a great heart-movement in society proved how large a place he held in the hearts of his fellow-men: for these things, my brethren, let us give God the praise. Let us take them as an earnest of greater things to follow. Let us cherish them as an encouragement to ourselves. Let us draw from them a fresh impulse to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.


The following items, from a tabular statement of the statistics of the Diocese, shows the steady increase of Church growth during the twenty-seven years of Bishop Doane's Episcopate, and especially during the last ten years.

   In 1832  In 1840  In 1850  In 1859
 Clergymen  18  38  59  99
 Ordinations  2  3  2  9
 Candidates for Orders  1  7  6  12
 Confirmed  77  220  290  500
 Baptized  240  360  587  1241
 Communicants  631  1542  3054  4691
 Marriages  71  143  137  183
 Burials  140  194  237  467


The Bishop's well-known power of labor and endurance has been the leading theme of several discourses; especially of the admirable sermons of Dr. Ogilby and Dr. Van Rensselaer, preached in Burlington the Sunday after the funeral, and since published. The former bears the testimony of a devoted and long tried friend; the latter that of an earnest, but generous antagonist, opposed to the Bishop on theological grounds, of a different communion, and at one time a sharer in the prejudices and misconceptions which were so industriously diffused against him. In speaking of the Bishop's working power, he compares it to a mighty locomotive dragging a heavy train of cars; a comparison that does justice to its might and facility, but hardly to its variety of application. To form a right conception of the latter, it must be remembered that Bishop Doane was not only in charge of a Diocese, a Parish and two Institutions of learning, founded and sustained by his own efforts mainly, but was always ready for the overwhelming demands upon his time, to which the variety of his talents, and his well known character as a friendly, hospitable, neighborly, benevolent, public-spirited man continually exposed him. To meet all these claims he worked with prodigious rapidity, and required little sleep. He had the happy faculty of being able to put his work down or take it up, or to turn from one employment to another, at any moment. He had also a marvellous power of unbending. He could extract more of recuperative virtue from an hours romp with a child, than most persons can draw from a sea-voyage, or from a month at a watering-place. Except in the pulpit, or on special occasions demanding concentrated effort, his ease and disengagedness of manner were among the most remarkable of his peculiarities. With regard to his labors, and still more with regard to his sufferings, he was singularly reserved. His copious vocabulary supplied him with no language of complaint. In fact, he felt a grief, or a slight, too keenly, to trust himself to talk much about it; he preferred, therefore, to arm himself on this side with the resources of a religious and philosophical silence. Hence it often happened, that when troubles and accusations were accumulating upon him with a sudden, and seemingly overwhelming rush, a little gem of verse in the papers with the well-known signature, G. W. D., or a series of discourses of unusual power from the Pulpit, would be the only sign to the public that the Bishop was awake to the impending danger.


He was taken with a violent cold, aggravated into a fever by his persistent labors, during the Vernal Visitation of the Diocese; and returned home, as he believed, a dying man. From the first he had no expectation of recovery. The fever, assuming typhoid symptoms, reached its height during Holy Week; and for three days he was in a state of delirium—surrounded by many friends, but totally absorbed (in his "fine phrenzy") in Parochial and Diocesan affairs, arguing, remonstrating, preaching, pleading, praying, blessing, and, in short, eloquently and dramatically rëenacting all the stirring passages of his life. As Easter came in, it found him conscious once more, quiet, gentle, affectionate, submissive, for the first time in his life longing for rest, and awakening the hopes of his friends by momentary flashes of his old playfulness of manner. He received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, spake his farewells, left kind messages to the absent, expressed his charity for all, uttered noble and characteristic confessions of his faith, and with parting benedictions fell asleep on Wednesday, and was buried on Saturday of Easter Week. Those who knew his love for the harmonies of nature, hardly inferior to his zeal for the order and beauty of God's House, could not but be affected by the circumstance, that the Festal Season which took him to his rest was one of those sudden, glorious, delicious outbursts of Spring, the glory of our climate, which are nowhere seen in finer perfection than in Burlington, along the green banks of the Delaware, or under the shadow of the tall spire of St. Mary's Church.

Among his last words was this noble confession of his faith:

"I die in the Faith of the Son of God, and in the Confidence of his one Catholic and Apostolic Church. I have no merits—no man has—but by Trust is in the Mercy of Jesus."

From a common misapprehension of the tenets of High Church men (so called) this last sentence has already been represented by some as a kind of after-thought in the Bishop's creed, a late concession, as it were, to Evangelical sentiments. Those who knew Bishop Doane have no need to be informed that it was pre-eminently the creed of his life, the key-note of all his preaching and teaching. No one delighted more than he, to magnify the grace of God, and the Name of JESUS.

Project Canterbury