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"A Preacher and an Apostle"











Rt. Rev. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, D. D., LL. D.


First Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania





Delivered at the request of his successor and the Standing Committee of the Diocese









Transcribed by Wayne Kempton 2007

In Memoriam


Rt. Rev.

M. A. DeWolfe Howe

D.D., LL. D.

[1] At a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, held in Reading on the 13th of November, the Rt. Rev. N. S. Rulison, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese, being in the chair, it was unanimously

"Resolved, That thanks of this Committee, acting on behalf of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, be tendered to the Rt. Rev. Henry C. Potter, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Diocese of New York, for the very able and instructive sermon delivered by him this morning at the service held in memory of the late Rt. Rev. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, D.D., LL.D., first Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

"Resolved, That a copy of the same be respectfully requested for publication."

(Signed) M. A. TOLMAN,

From the minutes.







Holy Communion Office.

Processional Hymn 397--Ancient Plain-Song--"Oh, what the joy and the glory must be."

Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for All Saints' Day.

Hymn 175, Stainer--"The Saints of God, their conflict past."

Sermon, 2 Timothy, i. 11--"A preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."

Offertory Anthem, Woodward--"The Sun shall be no more thy light by day," &c.

Isaiah, lx. 19.

Communion Hymn 224, S. Gee, R.A. M.--"Bread of heaven, on Thee we feed."

Recessional Hymn 176, Barnby--"For all thy saints who from their labors rest."

Organ Postlude--Solemn March--Horsely, in E flat.


"A preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."
2 Timothy, i. 11.

This is St. Paul's description of his calling as he himself understood it. It could not well be more characteristic, or more complete. It is characteristic, for it sets in the forefront of all his work, his office as a messenger. More than once, as you will remember, he speaks of that vocation as dominating all the rest. He had not been sent to baptize, to organize, to rule, half so much as, in his own expressive phrase, "to preach the Gospel." The miracle of his calling, the character of his training, the nature of his gifts, the memory of his past--all these pledged and constrained him in a pre-eminent and peculiar way to tell men of One who had so strangely revealed Himself to him, and who had chosen him to proclaim Him to the world. We look back ordinarily at this incomparable man as occupying that matchless preeminence which he must forever hold, most of all as one of the FOUNDERS of the Christian Church. We read his Pastoral Epistles in which, with such rare and far-seeing wisdom, he guides the men who were [7/8] planting, amid various and difficult conditions, the infant kingdom of his Master. We recall the singular and unerring wisdom in the matter of such delicate and perplexing questions as those presented in the Epistles to the Corinthians, with which he steers his own way, and points out theirs of whom he was the Chief Shepherd. And as we do so we exclaim, "Here is the man of all others whom the story of the genesis of the Church reveals to us as ordained to be a RULER." But he himself puts first, as in all his work he kept it foremost, his office and calling as a messenger. "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher."

And yet he was also a ruler, a founder, a builder, a true EpiskopoV; and he was not minded to forget it. "Appointed a preacher," he says. Yes, but also, "an apostle." The two gifts are not often united, and, ordinarily, it is not to be expected. A primary condition of a great preacher, I should be disposed to say, is that he should have what may be called "the preacher's temperament," and the preacher's temperament must be sensitive, responsive, imaginative, ardent in speech and in action, eager and affluent. But qualities of that nature are not apt to be united to those others which make a great ruler or a great administrator. These require a cool judgment, a chastened imagination, a strong instinct of equity, tolerance, patience, above all comprehensiveness. Such gifts were pre-eminently needed by an apostle, for it was the office of the first Apostles to rear a new religion upon the failure or incompleteness of an old one, and to adjust its organized life to a complex civilization, [8/9] and an often unwilling people. And these gifts St. Paul unfailingly illustrated in matchless and unfailing measure. Called to plant the Church in communities as diverse as Rome and Ephesus, as Corinth and Philippi, as Collossae and Galatia, he everywhere revealed himself as large enough in vision, and acute enough in discrimination to deal with each community and each emergency, as in turn he confronted them, with a wisdom that was all but unerring, and a courage and patience that never faltered or flagged. Does some one remind me that he was an inspired man? Yes, most surely, with native gifts that the heavenly in-breathing touched and transformed; but never for one instant effaced.

But his calling, as he tells us, was not only that of a preacher and an apostle, it was that also of a "teacher of the Gentiles." The distinction which is here made may not at the first glance seem quite obvious, but it is none the less real and important. Indeed, in some aspects of it, it reminds us of a characteristic of St. Paul's almost more interesting and individual than any other. An apostle was a founder, a builder, an organizer, and one may easily be all these in a very pre-eminent way, and be little more besides. Again, a preacher is an evangelist, a messenger, a missionary; and one may be all these, awakening the careless, arousing the indifferent, convicting the guilty, inspiring the despairing--carrying all before him, it may be, with the strong tide of some passionate appeal, and kindling the white heat of an ennobling purpose by the lava-like torrent of his [9/10] resistless eloquence--all this, and yet not be a teacher. The teacher's gift is another and quite distinct--a rarer gift, I am disposed to think, and one, at any rate, which few men have ever possessed as did he, who, true pupil and apt scholar, had once sat at the feet of the great Gamaliel. One scene in illustration of what I mean will serve as well as a score. It is that which discovers him on Mars Hill. Has it ever occurred to you that, in such a presence, impassioned oratory, fervid appeal, vehement exhortation, would all alike have been impotent? Have you ever seen an advocate tear a passion to tatters before some judge who watched him with grim and immobile features, or languid and long-enduring indifference? Think of the men to whom these Athenians had listened! Pericles, Socrates, Alcibiades, Demosthenes! No, it was not oratory that they waited for but something wiser, and more persuasive, and larger immeasurably! And one day, all unexpectedly, it came to them, first of all that single touch, so fine and strong and sure, "Ye men of Athens, as I passed by and beheld your devotions I found an altar with this inscription, 'To the Unknown God,'" and then all the rest that followed it. I need not rehearse it here. But what is it that makes it so great but this that he seized with such unerring wisdom the one key that could unlock those reluctant minds and then, with a delicacy so rare, with a learning so affluent, and with a humaneness so irresistible, turned it this way and that until it had unlocked the listening hearts before him! It is the same high art, let us not hesitate [10/11 to call it so, which marks his teaching everywhere. Called to step out of his Hebrew narrowness into the vast arena of that Pagan empire that everywhere engirdled him, how he touched and stirred, and awakened it--do we say? Yes, but how everywhere he guided and instructed and illumined it!

"A preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." You will not wonder, I think, that I have taken these words as describing him of whom we are here to think and to speak to-day. It is a far call from the first century to the nineteenth; and a Christian Bishop in America has verily, in every way, very different tasks, under very difficult conditions, from a Hebrew Apostle in Asia Minor. But we dismiss the drapery of time and place, and the essential situation is the same. Still, the world waits preeminently, most surely, in the case of him who is called to be a Bishop--for the gifts and the character which make him "a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."

The circumstances which surrounded the childhood and youth of the first Bishop of this Diocese had, undoubtedly, much to do with developing them. Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, in the year of our Lord 1809. That is a very bald record, but it is a very pregnant one, for it involved the consequences of an early training and of personal influences, in many particulars, quite exceptional. I may not attempt within these narrow limits, to trace the story of a boy's life in an old and picturesque [11/12] New England town--to return upon the trail of his ancestry, or to recount the incidents of his youth. He began life in a community in many respects wholly unlike the narrower and more provincial towns and villages about it. It touched the sea by way of the beautiful Narragansett Bay, and it touched the whole round world by way of the sea. There was plenty of romance, plenty of wild adventure, reckless daring, sudden prosperity, strangely-gotten wealth, to create a somewhat intoxicating atmosphere for a lad beginning life with the beginning of this century in Bristol. But there were two personalities there, so marked, so individual, so wholly dissimilar, but both alike so spiritual and so positive, that touched the life of young Mark Howe, that to the end of his days he never lost their impress. One of them was Stephen Higginson Tyng, the boy's first teacher after he had left a dame's school, and one of the most remarkable figures that our American pulpit has ever known. I speak to a generation that never knew the great Rector of St. Paul's and the Epiphany in Philadelphia, and of St. George's Church, New York, and I speak as one who himself, only knew him as a lad, and when he was no longer in the fullness of his unrivaled powers. But even a boy could understand what it would be in that strong and incandescent personality that must have touched another boy's imagination, conscience, purpose, will. Dr. Tyng's fire glowed, slumbrous and fitful in its manifestations, but when it burst forth it was never to be forgotten. I do not believe that your first Bishop ever forgot it, or the hidden power of which it was the visible manifestation.

[13] Another there was in Bristol of a very different type. There are legends about Bishop Griswold which I am told are as wholly legendary as any of the apocryphal Gospels, but I imagine that the question of their literal accuracy is one of the very smallest consequence. I have heard many of them, as doubtless some of you have. They all alike disclosed one man--meek, simple, single-minded, sagacious, immovable in the matter of a conviction, devout, evangelical in the best sense, and apostolic, also, in the best sense, which is that of the New Testament itself. Bishop Griswold baptized Bishop Howe, twenty-three years later ordained him to the Diaconate, and, later still, to the Priesthood. That single statement implies an influence, more or less constant, direct, increasing, extending from infancy to mature manhood. As a matter of fact I suppose that it was so, and whatever may have been Bishop Howe's individual or inherited characteristics, he himself, I apprehend, would have been the first to say that much that was best in him was due to the teaching and the example of a most rare man and saintly Bishop, Alexander Viets Griswold.

To another great teacher, Francis Wayland, then President of Brown University, he was not backward to own, also, his large indebtedness. I have called Dr. Wayland a great teacher, but he was great in all ways, and would have been a leading and columnar figure in any walk of life. A writer, as those who remember his "Moral Philosophy" will bear me witness, of singular clearness and power, a college president of massive and virile manhood, a counsellor of [13/14] young men of benign and sympathetic temper; to have been a pupil of Dr. Wayland's was itself an experience never to be wholly outgrown.

There were thus strong men behind the youth of the lad who in St. Michael's, Bristol, turned his face toward the ministry, and the spell of their touch remained with him in all the years that were to follow. I may not attempt here to trace their story in detail--the ministry first in St. Matthew's, South Boston, and then in St. James', Roxbury; after that for a little in Christ Church, Cambridge, and later, once more, and for thirteen years in St. James', Roxbury. These were preparatory studies, so to speak, for the great pastoral work of his life which covered the quarter of a century from the year 1846 to the year 1871, during which he was Rector of St. Luke's Church, Philadelphia. It is now all but a quarter of a century since he surrendered that charge to assume another and still larger one; but the memory of his ministry in St. Luke's is as vivid among those who survive to remember it, as the day he laid it down. The reasons for this are largely a disclosure of the man. He was, first of all, like his great prototype, a preacher. I have observed in the allusions to his preaching which have appeared in connection with his departure, a tone which was now and then half-apologetic, as though the late Bishop of Central Pennsylvania belonged to a school now somewhat archaic and outgrown. If so, I can only say, that for the Church's sake, I am sorry for it! He certainly was not what I have recently heard the modern, youthful preacher felicitously described as being, viz., [14/15] a "Lecturneer"--a personage who without manuscript or note delivers a rambling exhortation from the Lecturn--too often without substance, coherence, or other evidence of any serious preparation; but as little was he merely formal, didactic, or scholastic. His sermons had body, the evidence of wide reading, cogency, and best of all, a high spiritual purpose. As a rule they were written, and as such, marked with a certain stateliness of style, and, now and then, the touch of poetic quality which gave them a distinct and individual charm. But they were not always written; and some of the most noteworthy that I can remember were preached without any notes whatever. I recall at this moment an occasion when the preacher for the morning, a foreign Missionary Bishop, was taken ill during the service, and when Dr. Howe, without a moment's warning, found himself constrained to ascend the pulpit and take his place. And I can also recall the thrill of interest and surprise with which those who were present followed him, as without an instant's faltering he took his text from the Gospel for the day and delivered one of the most well-reasoned and forcible discourses to which they had ever listened.

Greater still than these qualities of his preaching were those which made it quickening, persuasive, edifying, a true upbuilding of the spiritual life of those to whom he spoke.

But the time was to come when he found himself called upon to illustrate gifts of a wholly different character. They did not fail him. As the Bishop of a newly organized Diocese he found himself with [15/16] tasks which were doubly untried, and which called for the largest wisdom and the most various aptitudes of leadership and guidance. And here it was that much that his difficult and responsible pastorate in a great city had taught him found its best sphere. Wrote one who knew him intimately, and wrought with him long and successfully, "As rector of St. Luke's he was the embodiment of my ideal of a parish priest; with that wonderful executive ability which discovered the latent possibilities of work in the members of his congregation; *** and, with this, that more subtle and rare gift of making people feel that they were carrying out their own ideal, and working out their own plans whilst they were really being guided and developed by him."* [Miss E. N. Biddle] There could not be a more felicitous description of that which is a primary requirement in the work and office of a Bishop. As the first Apostles chose their instruments Barnabas, Mark, Titus, Timothy, and the rest, each so individual, and unlike the other--showed them their work, and then left them with a large freedom in the doing of it, so will a wise Bishop a true successor of these be careful to do to-day. It is not as easy as it seems. The training and habits that make a good parish priest and that educate one to responsibility for, and devotion to, details as well as wholes, when carried over into the Episcopate have often become the rule of a doctrinaire and the fussiness of a martinet. From both of these the first Bishop of this Diocese was singularly and signally free. A man of strongly pronounced convictions, [16/17] and with definite and most potent traditions, he yet could illustrate the largest patience and the most considerate charity. Differing from much that has during the last half-century become a part of the life of the Church, he could yet recognize earnestness and honesty of purpose wherever he found them, and rejoice in the success of work whose methods were often distasteful to him. And in that large habit of outlook and ready sympathy with every wise endeavor for carrying forward the work of the Church in all its various departments he revealed the genius of a true administrator, ruler, leader. He was conservative; it was characteristic of his temperament and his training that he should be so; but he was never prejudiced or obstructive; and his clergy found in him in every good work a wise counsellor and a steadfast and open-minded friend. His experience as Rector of a large parish had educated him to recognize the value of various instrumentalities, and of the creation from time to time of new and more flexible mechanisms; and when he came to be a Bishop he taught his Diocese to count upon him as a leader, in all the various departments of parochial and Diocesan life, with a candid judgment and a hospitable mind.

And more than this. He was not only a preacher and an apostle, he was a teacher of the Gentiles. The Church in modern as in ancient days has been confronted with the problem of dealing if not with the Gentile races yet with the Gentile mind. For the Gentile mind, I suppose, is that in any community which, while perhaps within the pale of a traditional [17/18] Christianity, is outside of any personal conviction or fealty in regard to it. Paganism is not alone of the first century, but of all centuries; and no man can adequately understand it or speak to it who has not the culture of the scholar, the patience of the thinker, and the sympathy of a true man. That brotherhood of man of which we talk so much and understand so little, demands in its higher spheres, a certain largeness of experience and a quality of restrained and temperate judgment that have in them the essential attributes of what we call, and rightly, statesmanship. These were your Bishop's, if not in such resplendent manifestation as has sometimes been seen, yet constant, consistent, adequate. They made men lean upon him and trust him, and they made his Episcopate a force for good larger than could be measured by Diocesan confines or "Official acts."

And behind all these, though I have left myself little room to speak of them, were his personal qualities as a man. Into the inner sanctuary of his personal religious life I may not venture here to penetrate; but who that knew him could doubt that it was rooted in a strong faith, in a clear conviction of the fundamental verities of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in a most real and complete dependence upon the grace and guidance of the Holy Ghost? But beyond the realm to which these things more nearly belong, was that other in which he lived and walked and wrought, as a man among his fellow-men. I wonder if I shall seem to be to anybody unmindful of what belongs to the dignity of this place and this occasion, if I say that he was, before all things, a gentleman? Who that ever [18/19] knew it will forget the charm of his rare blending of dignity with urbanity; of courtesy with kindliness, of a certain stately quality of speech and bearing, with the quiet humor, the winning smile, the apt quotation or allusion that made his company and his conversation so invariably delightful?

And no less was he a cultivated man. He loved literature other and more various than that which belonged to his immediate profession, and his mind was stored with much of its best fruits. Himself a poet of no mean excellence, his singularly retentive memory was a treasury of verse which, to the latest day of his life, he recited with rare accuracy and charm of tone and emphasis.

He was a patriot, whose staunch loyalty flowed out in days when, in Philadelphia, it cost a man something to give more than a hesitating adherence to the cause of the Union.

And finally, he was a man of convictions, clear, steadfast, resolute, unswerving to the end. The stripling who drove on a winter's night, through the New England snows with the thermometer at 20 degrees below zero, sixty miles, in order that his uncle, the late Bishop of Kentucky, might not be without the paper with which to print and issue a Journal of the Church with which he was then identified, had stuff in him of no flaccid or flimsy fibre. He showed it to the end. He was no fierce controversialist, no narrow and contentious ecclesiastic, no obstinate and unprogressive prelate. But, underneath all that he did and said, there was the token of essential substance, solid, steadfast, enduring to the last.

[20] No wonder that, with such gifts and such a temperament, he grew old late and slowly, and loosened his grasp upon his work in its various forms with a certain pathetic reluctance. His son and brother, assistant and coadjutor--it matters little, looking back to that long and loyal relation, what we call him--recognized a very natural instinct of a strong character, and bore himself--even his presence here shall not deny me the pleasure of saying so--with scrupulous and consistent chivalry.

But the end came, as he himself wished it to come, with gentle and serene steps, and so he was not, for God took him.

May the memory of his work endure to be an inspiration to those who are to come after him! One there is--may he venture to repeat here what he said to his own Diocese?--who will most surely never forget him. A wayward youth sitting once in St. Luke's Church in Philadelphia hears the man who was your first Bishop preach a sermon from the text, "Young man, I say unto thee arise!" Its impression never left him--the clear, close, faithful message, searching, personal, awakening, starting in him a train of thought and emotion that, touched a little later by another hand, changed the whole current of his life. Is it violating the most delicate reserve if he recalls that debt to-day, and owns that he has been glad and thankful for the privilege of coming here and laying thus the tribute of his love and gratitude upon your Bishop's grave! "A preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." For this, so good a gift, God's holy name be praised!

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