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Text provided by Margaret Smith, Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, 2007.
Transcription by Project Canterbury staff.

The following sermon was delivered by Bishop Williams, in St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, on the twenty-fourth day of January, 1892. It is published, with the accompanying minutes and resolutions, by the authority of the wardens and vestry of the parish.

St. Thomas's Church, New Haven.
April, 1892.


Born at Stepney, Connecticut, Jan. 8, 1808

Graduated from Washington (now Trinity) College, 1832

Studied for the ministry at Hartford, in connection with his duties as Tutor in College, 1833-1835.

Ordained Deacon in Christ Church, Hartford, by Bishop Brownell, Aug. 11, 1835.

Ordained Priest in St. Peter's Church, Cheshire, by Bishop Brownell, Oct. 24, 1836

Became Rector of St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, Easter, Apr. 23, 1848

Continued Rector thereof until he died at New Haven, St. Thomas's Day, Dec. 21, 1891

PSALM LXXXIV: 5, 6, 7.


THE imagery of this 84th Psalm is derived from the journey of a Levite going up to the temple for his appointed service, or else from that of a pilgrim on his way to the Holy City and the House of God. It matters little which view we take, for the bearing and instruction of the Psalm will be the same; and it seems to me I can properly use it in discharging the duty which brings me here to-day.

The Levite or the pilgrim, then, with his heart and mind filled with the vision of the beauty and the glory of the House of God, almost envying the very birds that find a home and a shelter beneath its eaves, seeing it with the eye of faith nearer and still nearer to him, advances on his way. If his pathway leads him beside waters of refreshment, that which he sees before him is fairer than all that spreads around him. If his footsteps hasten over scorching sands, the [5/6] absorbing thought of his heart is like a fresh spring of water even then. Each onward step makes the next step easier. His strength becomes stronger as the end draws nearer, and when that end is reached at last it is with the joyous cry, "One day in Thy courts is better than a thousand."

And now let me turn to that portion of the Psalm which forms my text, if we may take it, and I think we may, as presenting to us a sort of allegory of a Christian's pilgrimage to that eternal city whose builder and maker is God, and in which there remains a rest for his people. Two conditions of such a pilgrim are brought before us. In the one we see him in the midst of encouragements and incitements, with nothing to obscure the vision that leads him on, with every thing to cheer and strengthen. In the other he has come upon some valley of Baca, some vale of trial and affliction, parched and dry it may be, where still amid all the trial and all the affliction strength and comfort come to him, "the parched ground becomes a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water."

Is not this, dear brethren, an epitome of every human life, at least of every Christian's life? Well has it been said that there is never here on earth a line of joy, but a line of sorrow runs beside it. With equal truth it may be said never does a night of sorrow darken a believer's life, but there shall dawn upon it a morning of rejoicing.

How many a soul has felt, when some dark cloud overshadowed its way of life, that there was nothing but gloom left for it, and lo! almost before the words that spoke the inner thought had taken shape, the bow of God's promise arched the cloud without which it could not have been.

[7] "My soul were dark
But for the golden light and rainbow hue
That, sweeping heaven with their triumphal arc,
Break on the view.

Enough to feel
That God is good! enough to know
Without the gloomy clouds He could reveal
No beauteous bow."

My dear brethren, we stand together, to-day, in a valley of Baca where, in very deed, earthly sorrow and heavenly consolations are joined in a blessed union. The head of a devoted household; the pastor of an attached and loyal parish; a foremost presbyter of our ancient Diocese; one honored throughout our entire Church, and that not in our own land only; one who had won for himself an honored place in the world of letters; a citizen who had the respect and confidence of the entire community; a man of God, in the truest sense of that meaning phrase, has been taken away from us, and the feeling of loss is deep and real. There is a vacant place in a family, a parish, at God's altar, in the councils of the Church, in the community, and he who once filled those places shall know them, and they shall know him, no more forever. We are not forbidden, God's Word does not forbid us, to sorrow under such bereavement, only we may not sorrow "as others who have no hope." Yes! sorrow has its place and its prerogative in every life, and not least in a Christian life. And so, dear brethren, I am here with you to share this trial and to bear my humble witness to that consistent life, the memory of which in one way deepens, yet in another way--and oh how much!--lightens the burden and the grief. Does this give me the right to say a few words touching personal relations? I hope you will feel as I do that it does.

[8] For almost threescore years I had known, and for the larger part of the time in intimate relations, your late rector. For twice a score of years those relations had been most intimate, and the strong friendship that grew out of them, had literally gone " from strength to strength;" so that I may venture to put my sense of loss beside that of his parish, and almost beside that of his family, and it is in the sympathies and the bonds which that sense of loss brings out into fresher and fuller life that I am trying to speak to you, what it is hard to find adequate words to utter.

"From strength to strength." This is God's law of life for every thing that is really living. It is the test and criterion of a real life as against a simulated one. It is found working in things inanimate as well as things animate; in things irrational as well as in rational beings; in human bodies and in human souls; in the intellectual and spiritual parts of our complex nature; it is, indeed, God's universal law. Where things do not advance they go backward, where there is no growth there we find decay.

Illustrations of this great law are abundant on every side. Look at the tiny blade just peeping above the awakening earth in springtide, and see how it strengthens onward and upward through stalk and ear to the "full corn in the ear." Look at the helpless infant in its mother's arms, and watch the development of the physical life, till the full strength of manhood stands before you. Listen to the broken lispings of childish lips, and follow the strengthening mind and the stronger utterance, till you find yourself hearkening to words that are to sway the destinies of individuals and of nations.

[9] This same law holds in the spiritual life, which takes hold not merely on the things of time but on those also of eternity. We talk, indeed, of natural and supernatural laws; but are we quite sure that there is more than one law after all, working on different planes, under different conditions, by different forces, and with different surroundings? Be this as it may, the law of spiritual growth is just as clearly revealed, and just as distinctly exhibited in actual life, as any other law of God. There is no need to multiply passages in proof of what is here said. Let those great words of St. Paul to his Ephesian converts suffice: " That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." What a picture is here presented to us! The little child whispering its half comprehended prayer at its mother's knee--the penitent beginner of a new life scarcely daring to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner"--the feeble follower fainting at every step and feeling ever the pressure of a law of duty--each of these grown up into the well formed, well rounded Christian character, blinded up unto "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;" to that condition in which the law of duty has been transformed into the life of duty, in which in the very highest sense one becomes " dead to the law," not because the law has ceased to regulate the life, but because it 'is so absorbed into the life, that the [9/10] thought of law has vanished from the memory of him who lives it.

Were I asked, beloved, to sum up in fewest words the characteristic of the life of my dear friend and brother because of whose life and death I stand here to-day, I should need no other words than those which I have tried somewhat to open out and set before you. He went "from strength to strength." Look at his personal life or his official life the story is still the same, "from strength to strength"--blessed be God that we may add those other words, which tell that he has appeared in Zion before God!

I do not suppose there ever was a time from his earliest childhood when your late rector was not treading in the ways of godliness; that there ever was a point at which he could say, that he turned his face from all that had gone before and began a new and previously unknown course of life. Not all can say this; not of all can it be said; but, surely, they are happy of whom it can be. It builds up the best style of character, one that is indeed founded on a rock.

And there is another thing that I always noticed in him that may well be mentioned just here. It was well said long ago by a wise and thoughtful man, "that one great sign of a well regulated character is not merely to be equal to its daily task, but to be satisfied with it, and not to be starting off in all directions in search of something else to do." Such a character is not likely to furnish sensations and surprises to a sensation and surprise-loving generation. But it does furnish something vastly better. It conies to men like the quiet sunshine and the gentle rain under which the beneficent operations of nature go [10/11] vigorously on in spite of lightning and tempest, wind and storm.

Now this characteristic was prominent in all my brother's life, personal and official. In his daily life, in his parochial life, in the councils of the Church, the day sufficed for the day, and he was contented that it should. How much this helped to make his life a power for good; how much it helped to give roundness and fullness to his character. To it under God you owe, my brethren, that lengthened rectorship the memories of which gather around us now as the bright clouds of evening gather round the setting sun.

"From strength to strength." If ever there was a man on earth in whom constitutional tendency, continuous training, habits of thought and favorite pursuits all united to make him an uncompromising and immovable conservator of things as they have been, my dear brother was such a man. And yet, he was too strong for all these bonds: they did not hold him in an unreasonable clinging to what had been simply because it had been. To the one Faith of the Church of God, the great principles of its Order, its Discipline, its Worship, he clung with undeviating firmness. Change for the sake of change he utterly resisted. But he was ready to recognize "the diversity of countries, times and manners," as giving sufficient reasons for changes that did not contradict God's Word, nor touch fundamental and essential principles. He had no sympathy with that lawlessness which makes each minister or layman a Congregation of Rites for himself, but he was ready to yield a loyal obedience to what was "approved by common authority," whatever his individual preferences might be.

[12] Shall I speak of his individual, personal, Christian life t You know and I know that here too he went "from strength to strength," and I will not invade those sacred precincts, of which we may think in private and for which in our heart of hearts we may bless and magnify God's holy Name, but which are not to be dragged out into the garish light of day.

And so that life went on; full of loving labors; of good deeds and works of charity known chiefly to God; of pastoral work; of the studies of the minister of Christ; giving to the Church in works that will ever hold an honored place in her literature, the story of her eventful past; furnishing to more than you or I know or can speak of the wise counselor and the true friend; until, at last, after more than fourscore years, not in his case bringing "labor and sorrow," but leaving him "with his eye not dim nor his natural force abated," God pleased that he should rest from his labors.

I have spoken of the law of life, and in imperfect words have tried to speak of its outcome in one life near and dear to us. There is, now, one closing thought of which I wish to say a word. All the growth of every earthly life comes to an end. The fullest harvests wither and die; the strongest forests decay and fall; the most vigorous physical frames weaken and are dissolved. But the spiritual life--what of that? That never fails--that "like seasoned timber never gives "--that when the universal frame passes away "then chiefly lives." So let it be in our thoughts here and now, and then it will not be in vain that we have come together. For then we can feel and say for those whom God has taken:

[13] Far better they should sleep awhile
Within the Church's shade,
Nor wake, until new heaven, new earth,
Meet for their new immortal birth
For their abiding-place be made,

Than wander back to life, and lean
On our frail love once more.
'Tis sweet, as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store.

Then pass, ye mourners, cheerly on,
Through prayer unto the tomb,
Still, as ye watch life's falling leaf,
Gathering from every loss and grief
Hope of new spring and endless home.



The wardens and vestry of the parish of St. Thomas's Church have, on behalf of the parish, entered on their minutes this record in memory of their deceased rector.

The sense of the loss which we as individuals have sustained in the death of our much-loved rector fills our hearts with sorrow and lamentation. We have known no other pastor; we have always looked to him as our leader. His guidance, his ministrations, his sympathy and his example have been our dependence, our help and our encouragement. He has taught us the Christian faith, lived among us the Christian life and exhibited the beauty of a manly Christian character. In our joys he has shared; in our griefs he has sorrowed; our fainting spirits he has sustained. As one after another of those, who gathered about him in the early days of his ministry here, entered into rest, be soothed their dying moments, and those, who were left, he cheered and incited to fresh zeal. And now God has called him, almost the last of those faithful souls, away from his work and the world, to that heavenly home where his labors have an end and all is joy and peace.

The extent of the loss which this parish suffers in the death of its rector cannot be adequately expressed. From the beginning of its history, more than forty-three years ago, he has watched over it with untiring zeal, rare judgment and parental affection. He gave most freely of his love and labor to its support, and had the happiness of seeing it grow from a feeble but devoted band to a strong organization, advancing and extending the cause of Christ in the community in which it stands. To his breadth of view and wisely directed energy that result has, under God, been mainly due.

Faithful in preaching, judicious in counsel, earnest in every undertaking, affectionate and considerate in his intercourse with his people, our rector has been to the parish a tower of strength, and his influence can no more cease among us than his memory perish.

His labors for Christ and His Church in a wider sphere were none the less fruitful and valuable. For a generation he, more than any other presbyter in the Diocese, helped to mould its legislation and shape its policy. He was connected with almost every board, to whose hands [15/16] the control of diocesan affairs was committed, and he was the leading spirit in their deliberations. The Church at large felt his power and appreciated his virtues. Old men sought his counsel, young men his guidance.

Nor was his character and ability manifested in the affairs of the Church alone. He occupied positions of trust and responsibility in temporal matters, requiring wise foresight and large executive ability, and he administered their duties with integrity and faithfulness.

With gratitude to God for his example of loyal, Christian discipleship, and for his life of usefulness and honor, we with the tenderest love for hint, reverently bow to the Master's call, which he so calmly awaited,--"Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world."

To his daughter and the other members of his household we offer our sincere sympathy. May the Lord who gave and the Lord who hath taken away guide, support and comfort them.

"For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.

"The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes the rest;
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blessed.

New Haven, December 23, 1891.


The Rector's Aid Society of St. Thomas's Church desires to express upon its minutes its regard for, and appreciation of, the reverend rector of the parish, who died on the evening of St. Thomas's Day, Dec. 21, 1891.

His rectorship, co-existent with the life of the parish, covers also the history of the society. He was for the most of the time its president, and always its faithful friend, ever solicitous for its advancement and watchful over its interests. He was an affectionate guide, a generous giver and a wise counsellor.

We testify, with a deep sense of gratitude and veneration, to the works, which, through God's goodness, during the many years of his ministrations, he brought to a successful issue, and are thankful that this society has been permitted to join with its beloved rector in their fulfillment, and to share with him in their enjoyment.

Whether we labored in the missionary field or in the narrower limits of our own parochial organization, he always supported and directed us. No work within our province was too small for him to consider, none too large for him to undertake.

[17] The bond of mutual love and dependence, which has held us together so long, is now broken. How great was its strength, how lovely its simplicity. As we go on with the work he would have us do, how beautiful will be its memory and how inspiring its gentle influence.

"May God grant him eternal rest and let light perpetual shine upon him."

New Haven, December 31, 1891.


The rector, wardens and vestry of the parish of Trinity Church, in New Haven, have learned with great regret, of the decease of the Rev'd E. E. Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., the venerable rector of St. Thomas's Church in this city, after a long and honored rectorship, and they have, in meeting assembled, adopted the following resolutions:

Resolved. That the wardens, vestrymen and parishioners of St. Thomas's Church, have our sincere sympathy in their bereavement and loss.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the wardens and vestrymen of St. Thomas's Church, and to the family of the late Dr. Beardsley.


Attest: EDWARD C. BEECHER, Clerk.
December 22, 1891.


At a special meeting of the vestry of St. Paul's Church, held in the parish house, Wednesday evening, December 23, 1891, at 7.30 o'clock, the following minute was unanimously passed, viz:

The rector, wardens and vestrymen of St. Paul's Church, have heard with sincere sorrow of the death of Rev. E. Edwards Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., rector of St. Thomas's Church. They desire to place upon their records a minute expressing their sense of loss, and to send to the parishioners and family of the deceased, the assurance of their sincere sympathy.

The long and useful life of Dr. Beardsley and his great services to the Church, make his death a common sorrow in all our parishes. The officers and parishioners of St. Paul's mourn with his own people and with those who stood nearest to him, the death of one who had made the whole Church his debtor.

Clerk pro tem.


Whereas, Almighty God in His all-wise providence has seen fit to suddenly remove from among us the Rev. Dr. E. E. Beardsley, therefore in acknowledgment that we have lost a true and beloved friend, be it

Resolved, That we, the vestry of St. Luke's Church representing the parish of the same, sincerely lamenting our loss, do extend to his sorrowing family our deepest sympathy, and furthermore,

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the bereaved family.

JNO. W. MERRIMAN, Committee.

New Haven, December 23, 1891.


The members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Connecticut, assembled for the burial of their late president, the Rev. E. Edwards Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., record their sense of a great personal bereavement, and of the great loss the Committee has sustained in its official relation to the Diocese and to the Church.

For thirty-two and a half years (since June 1859), Dr. Beardsley has been a member of this Committee, and for eighteen and a half years (since June 1873), its president. The position has entailed many cares and labors, both in the discharge of the duties directly involved, and also in bringing hint into close relation with the difficulties and perplexities of diocesan and parochial affairs. In these, he was the trusted counsellor of the Bishop, and the sympathetic adviser of very many of his brethren in the ministry, whose confidence he deserved and had.

In this Committee, while he had very definite opinions on the matters which came up for consideration, he was conspicuously fair and open-minded to the opinions and suggestions of others. He was in every fibre of his being a Connecticut Churchman, and did not readily admit the idea of change in ecclesiastical ideas and methods. But he did admit it. He had a large share of that practical wisdom which recognizes when changes are desirable or inevitable. He was a safe counsellor, cautious but not obstructive, as we who were associated with him in counsel have good reason to know.

Next to his wisdom, the prime quality of a counsellor, we recognize his sympathy and charity. The judgments he formed of conduct were just, and he was seldom at fault as to character, but there was withal a great tenderness in judging of motive, and in allowing for human [18/19] nature. He was averse to severity, and hopeful about men sometimes when others saw but little reason for hopefulness.

His love for the Church, and confidence in her principles and their ultimate vindication, was unbounded. His early years were passed among men who had gone through the struggle for very life, which characterized the early history of the Episcopal Church in this country, and he was well-grounded in her theology, familiar as few now are with the details of her history, courageous in the face of opposition, yet prudent about needlessly evoking it. With eighty-four years behind him he had an appreciative sense of the value of time in laying burning questions to rest. It was his privilege to see the Church of his love occupying a very different position in the community from that in which he found it in his youth, and his still greater privilege to have contributed to its advancement.

His patience and industry made him a safe and reliable historian, and his work as such will endure as a heritage for future generations of intelligent Churchmen. There were few matters of interest in American Church affairs on which he could not throw light from the past into the present, for he sympathized with both.

In view of the advantage they have derived from his wide knowledge, his large experience, his excellent judgment, his kindly nature, and of the precious privilege of his personal friendship, the members of this Committee have great reason to thank God for the long years that he was spared to them, and will cherish his memory with deep affection and respect.


St. Stephen's Day, A. D. 1891.


The Rev. E. Edwards Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., was buried in New Haven, St. Stephen's Day, Dec. 26, 1891. A meeting of the clergy present at the services was convened that day under the presidency of the Bishop, and the subscribers were appointed a committee to prepare a simple statement expressive of their high esteem and respect and of the loss which has been sustained in the departure of their aged and honored brother.

The prolonged manhood of Dr. Beardsley was spent with rare and exclusive devotion to the ministry of the Gospel, and to the interests of the Church, especially in the Diocese of Connecticut. By inheritance a Churchman, by instinct and habit a conservative, gifted with a sound and penetrating judgment, during the last forty years he has been [19/20] closely identified with all the agencies and offices of the Diocese which come within the province of a presbyter. He has been, for a long while, a member and president of the Standing Committee, a trustee of Trinity College, of the Cheshire Academy, of St. Margaret's Diocesan School, of the Episcopal Fund, and one of the examining chaplains. He had a place, and his influence was felt, in all important diocesan committees. It is difficult to determine where his advice and counsel were not solicited.

Beyond the limits of the Diocese he was felt in the General Convention of the Church, of which he has been a member since 1868. Twice he served as president of the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies. His industry in the discharge of all his duties as a member of the General Convention was universally recognized.

But Dr. Beardsley's heart was in Connecticut. His "History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut" became at once a standard. His biographical works were all given to Connecticut men, to the first Bishop and to the two Johnsons--father and son--and the last thing he did was to prepare a circular in the interests of the old Episcopal Academy at Cheshire.

To his parish, in New Haven, he was everything. He was its sole and only rector. He labored incessantly for the interests of St. Thomas's Church. His relation to his people was intimate and personal; they never questioned his wisdom in the administration of the affairs of the parish, and he never doubted their confidence and loyalty. Their loss now seems irreparable.

Dr. Beardsley died as he wished to die. Though he had nearly completed his eighty-fourth year, and was the oldest presbyter of the Church in the full exercise of public duty and responsibility, his judgment was absolutely unimpaired, and his interest in all that pertained to the life of the Church had not become sluggish or dull. He was essentially a man of peace and prudence, not of storm and passion. His life was tranquil, and time touched him very gently. He was among the very last of the elder clergy, and he adhered with great tenacity to the ideas and beliefs of his earlier life. He had but scant sympathy with the latest ways and methods of church life, and his personal faith rested securely upon the "one foundation."

To his family he has left the legacy of an honored name, to his parish the memory of long, devoted service, and to the Church at large the example of a faithful, steadfast minister of the Gospel of the Son of God.

"He rests from his labors, and his works do follow him."



The Convocation of New Haven County assembled in St. Thomas's Church in New Haven, records its sense of an uncommon loss in the death of the late rector of the parish, the Rev. Dr. Beardsley.

He was the last of the original members of this body, and his whole ministry had been fulfilled within its territorial limits. He had doubtless known personally every one of its members, and his name had been familiar, his face and voice welcome, in their various congregations before some of them were born. By the removal of the element which he furnished to our collective life the character of the Convocation is changed to a degree which will become more and more apparent, but we shall none the less enjoy for years to come many of the benefits of those qualities by which he acquired his great and just influence within this county as well as beyond it, We value the privilege of uniting with others of the clergy and laity in commemorating his wisdom as a counsellor, his large acquaintance with ecclesiastical affairs, his invaluable labors in history and biography, his high place among the presbyters of the American Church. But it is our peculiar privilege, in virtue of the closer contact with him into which we have been brought as members of this Convocation, to bear witness to the traits which, above all others, won our attachment, his brotherly kindness, combined with no less brotherly faithfulness, his love of justice, his ability to cherish good will and confidence towards those with whom he differed widely in matters of opinion.

He will be remembered here, by some with fraternal, by more with filial, affection for countless acts of helpfulness, and for the daily benediction of a sober, righteous and godly life.


New Haven, January 12, 1892.

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