Project Canterbury

William Rufus Nicholson, D.D.

Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

[No place:] Printed for private distribution, [1903]


This pamphlet consists in large part of articles which have appeared in the Episcopal Recorder since the death of Bishop Nicholson. Most of them are printed entire, some have been abridged for the sake of brevity. While to most of them the names of the writers are prefixed, one of them appeared anonymously as editorial in the same paper. All of them are from the pens of those who knew and loved the departed, and possess especial value as setting forth the estimate in which he was held by his contemporaries.

The object of this memorial will be attained if it enables those who read it to preserve in collected form the testimony borne by those who were best qualified to pronounce judgment upon a character as lovely as it was strong, and if it enables the reader to realize the foundation upon which that character was erected.

May all who read it enjoy that simple childlike faith in Christ as a personal Saviour, and that assurance of hope springing from absolute dependence upon His substitutionary work of atonement, which made Bishop Nicholson what he was.


William Rufus Nicholson was born in Green County, Mississippi, January 8th, 1822. His father, Honorable Isaac Rozelle Nicholson, was a judge in the county court. His mother was Miss Gilmer, of South Carolina.

He was the oldest of a family of twelve children. His young days were passed on his father's plantation.

The strong devotional character of his mother influenced him greatly, and his early religious development was marked. He was trained in the Methodist Church, and preached his first sermon at the age of fourteen.

At the age of twenty, he was ordained a minister, immediately after his graduation from La Grange College, Alabama. From this time until 1847, when he joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, he was actively engaged as a pastor in this, the denomination of his boyhood.

On Sunday, February 14th, 1847, he was ordained as deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church, by Bishop Polk.

In April, 1847, he was ordained to the presbyterate by Bishop Polk, in Christ Church, New Orleans, Rev. Dr. Hawks, Rev. Messrs. Litton and Giles concurring in laying on of hands, and Bishop Freeman preaching the sermon.

He became rector of Grace Church, New Orleans, and here passed through an epidemic of yellow fever, being one of the few clergymen who did not flee the town on the appearance of the pest. For his devotion to duty at this time he suffered an attack of this dread disease.

He removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, in June, 1849, and became rector of St. John's Church.

In 1857, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Kenyon College, Ohio.

He was successively rector of St. Paul's Church, Boston, Massachusetts, for thirteen years; and of Trinity [5/6] Church, Newark, New Jersey, three years, which rectorship he resigned to join the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The reasons for this radical change do not need recapitulation here. Many still live who clearly remember that period, as a time of severance of life-long friendships, for truth's sake and conscience. Dr. Nicholson felt keenly the giving up of old ties. Aside from obedience to the dictates of an enlightened conscience, there was no reason for him to desire a change. Respected as he was throughout the Church, prominent in its highest councils, still he found that it was impossible for him truthfully to remain in the Protestant Episcopal Church, and although at that time he had passed life's meridian, and therefore had reached a period when to most men it becomes impossible to view a radical change with equanimity, he nevertheless here, as always, obeyed the mandates of his conscience, and nailed up his proclamation, as did Luther of old. None but his intimates of that time knew what the change cost him. He alone knew what it actually meant, and yet if anything in this world may be looked on as certain, it is that he never regretted the step.

When he joined the Reformed Episcopal Church, he became rector of the Second, now St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia. Two years later, in 1876, he was consecrated Bishop of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia; and at the foundation of the Seminary, he was appointed Dean of the faculty, and was elected to the chair of Exegesis and Pastoral Theology.

For years he bore the burden of these multitudinous responsibilities, until, in 1898. he felt that the time had come for him to lay down a portion of the weight. He therefore resigned the rectorship of St. Paul's Church, continuing even to the time of his death, though close to fourscore years, in the active discharge of his duties in connection with the Bishopric and the Seminary.

His first serious illness, aside from a weak heart, which many years ago threatened to interfere with his usefulness, but which providentially was never permitted to do so, occurred in last January. Owing to his splendid physique, he recovered at that time and continued in [6/7] moderately good health until the latter part of May, when he was again stricken. Again he rallied, and his recovery seemed assured when suddenly alarming symptoms presented themselves, and after an acute illness of only four days, he passed away.

He had long passed the allotted threescore years and ten, and had almost reached his full fourscore; yet there are many among those who knew him best who felt that, except for some slight decrease in bodily vigor, time was dealing so gently with him that there seemed ground for the hope that he might be spared many years longer. This, however, under the providence of God, was not to be; his work was finished, he was needed elsewhere, and so "God took him."

He is survived by his widow and five children.

The Funeral Service.

The funeral of Bishop Nicholson was held in St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia, on Tuesday, June 11th, at two P. M.

Before the services proper in the church, the Rev. Forrest E. Dager, D. D., the rector of St. Paul's, met the family and the pall bearers at the Bishop's late residence, and held a short private service, consisting of selections from the Scriptures and a peculiarly touching and appropriate prayer.

The casket was met at the church by the officiating clergymen and the clergy of the Synod. They were immediately followed by the pall bearers, the body and the family. The pall bearers were: Samuel Ashhurst, M. D., Joseph K. Wheeler, Josiah H. Penniman, Ph. D., William H. Allen, Charles M. Morton, all of Philadelphia, and Charles D. Kellogg, of New York, and Thomas L. Berry, of Baltimore.

During the entrance of the funeral party, Chopin's funeral march was rendered upon the organ; and during the services Mendelssohn's march was also played.

Various floral tributes from personal friends of the Bishop were placed in the chancel, upon the desks and communion table, and one from a clergyman who had been especially close to him was placed in the chair which he had been accustomed to occupy during the time of his pastorate. The clergy of the Synod had sent as a testimonial of their love and respect a most beautiful floral tribute, its design being a large wreath and harp, resting upon an easel covered with smilax. This was placed outside the chancel rail, at the head of the coffin.

The services in the church consisted of the office for the burial of the dead, and were conducted by Bishop James A. Latané, D. D., Presiding Bishop; Bishop Chas. Edward Cheney, of the Synod of Chicago; Rev. Wm. T. Sabine, D. D., of New York, and the Rev. J. Howard-Smith, D. D., Vice-Dean of the Seminary.

[9] After the completion of the regular order of service, during which Dr. Howard-Smith offered a most earnest extempore prayer, in which his feeling of personal loss and sympathy for the bereaved family found affectionate expression, there were addresses by Dr. Sabine, Bishop Cheney and Bishop Latané, in the order given.

All the speakers bore testimony to the fact of their personal loss, and also to the loss sustained by the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Dr. Sabine spoke of his early acquaintance with Bishop Nicholson, and of the early days, in which active and most virulent opposition was made to those joining the denomination. He particularly called attention to the fearlessness of the late Bishop in matters pertaining to his conscience, and made reference to the fact that in leaving the Protestant Episcopal Church he severed life-long friendships and turned his back upon a communion, by the members of which he had been held in the greatest respect, and from whom he had every reason to expect—indeed, had even then been offered—greater honors. He also told of the difficulty which was experienced in prevailing upon Dr. Nicholson to accept the office of the bishopric.

Bishop Cheney presented the sympathy of the Synod of Chicago, and bore testimony to the Christian character of his departed brother, and to his greatness as a man, closing very beautifully and affectingly by addressing the Bishop's family, and saying that they, too, could use the words of Joseph's brethren, "The old man our father still lives."

Bishop Latané's speech was full of deep feeling, and dwelt upon the exalted Christian character, personal traits and pulpit eloquence of the Bishop.

After the services were at an end, the coffin was opened, and those in the congregation who desired it were given an opportunity to look on his face. This invitation was accepted by the majority of those in the crowded church, among whom were many personal friends of the Bishop not connected with the denomination.

After all had had an opportunity to bid farewell, the casket was closed, and the family left the church, [9/10] members of the clergy remaining with the body until it was placed upon the train for Boston.

The final service of interment was conducted at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, by the Rev. D. M. Stearns, of the Church of the Atonement, Germantown, Philadelphia. His prayer at the grave, and his sympathy, will never be forgotten by the family and friends.

The last resting place of the Bishop is. in one of the most beautiful spots in this most beautiful city of the dead.

Address of Rev. W. T. Sabine, D. D.


We are here to-day facing a great loss—a loss to ourselves, the churches of the Synod, and the Church at large—as is so eloquently, if silently, testified by that empty chair. Yet if this is a time for tears, it is also a time for smiles; if this is a place for sighs, it is also a place for songs, for here we witness to the triumphing of Christian faith and the noble ending of an honored and eminently useful Christian life.

David said of Abner, the son of Ner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"

In the aptness of this old book, which has evermore a word ready to the occasion, what was true for David and Israel so many centuries ago, is as true for us and our churches to-day and here. Our dear departed friend and Bishop was a man greatly gifted of God.

He was gifted in intellectual power. Who of us has not realized this as we have listened at times to his marvellous unfolding of Divine truth, developing hidden and unsuspected meanings in a way at once delightful, impressive and inspiring? For this gift he was renowned far and wide, not only in churches of his own, but of other denominations. No man could have held so prominent a pulpit as St. Paul's Church, Boston, for sixteen years, without brains and a high order of intelligence.

He was gifted with a commanding and persuasive eloquence. Such gift of speech, such ability to illuminate, convince and persuade, is one of the grandest of Divine [10/11] bestowments. And he had it. To a fine personal presence he united a flow of language, a grace of rhetoric, and a vigor and force of expression, which at once engaged attention and stimulated thought.

Looking back into the past, to days of childhood and youth, when an attendant at St. George's Church, New York, under the ministry of the elder Tyng, I recall occasions when announcement would be made from the desk that on the morning or evening of the next Lord's Day the Rev. Dr. W. R. Nicholson, of St. Paul's, Boston, would preach, perhaps in advocacy of some important evangelical cause. Such announcements were received with pleasure by that great congregation, and were always understood to assure a well filled church.

And who of us here but once and again has been moved and thrilled by his eloquence? Some of us will recall that remarkable sermon on "The Deification of Man," delivered before the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, at West Chester, Pa., in October, 1899, and that singularly felicitous and splendid enforcement of the claims of foreign missions on the Church of Christ at the last meeting of the Synod in Christ Memorial Church, Philadelphia.

But there occurs to remembrance now one occasion which will always stand but unique and surpassing. It was when Bishop Nicholson stepped to the head of the centre aisle of Christ Church, Chicago, to advocate the final adoption of our Thirty-five Articles of Religion, and standing there, pleaded for the great truths of the Gospel with a fervor of utterance, a majesty of statement, and a passion of conviction, united with a rush of feeling and tenderness, which seemed at once to unite the graces and power of the very highest eloquence.

It could not have been excelled by Edward Everett, E. H. Chapin, Charles Sumner, Roscoe Conkling, Henry Ward Beecher, Wendell Philips, or John B. Gough, and these men we all know were masters of the silver tongue.

But our beloved Bishop had yet higher gifts. He was gifted. in a supreme loyalty to conscience and truth. Younger brethren can have hut small conception of the cost involved for a man like Bishop Nicholson in entering [11/12] our young and struggling Church at its beginnings. It was a heavy cost. For him it meant the sundering of precious ties; it meant the breaking up of the associations of half a life-time; the abandonment of a position of opportunity, influence and assured support, and facing a future not altogether bright or free from very trying and precarious problems, to say nothing of the taunt and scorn which it involved. No one can ever know—not even his companions in that brave venture of faith and devotion—not even his nearest and dearest—no one but God can ever know the fierce trials through which lie passed to that royal decision; cost what it might, to stand by his convictions in defence of God's truth. It was a tremendous ordeal; but he passed it triumphantly. Thank God, things have changed, and those who come after us will have no such struggle to encounter.

Thinking of him, one calls to mind Milton's splendid tribute to the Seraph Abdiel:

"Faithful found among the faithless,
His loyalty he kept,
His love, his zeal.
Nor numbers, nor example, with him wrought
To swerve from truth or change his constant mind,
Though single."

We are grateful for this manly, Christian witnessing. If it was ever needed, it is needed now in this materialistic, ease-loving, self-indulgent age.

Our departed leader and friend was further gifted beyond most in a clear perception of the order and relation of the great doctrines of the Gospel, the reality and preciousness of which were to him matters of personal insight and gracious experience.

He was a workman not needing to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. With him the Cross was ever central, and he loved to preach a present salvation through the Blood of the Crucified.

We cannot be too thankful that one who has always been a recognized leader among us, and whose name and teaching were honored in all our sister Churches, was in this day of declensions ever so true to the truth.

But beyond this, our dear Bishop was eminently gifted in the spirit of Christ, in that childlikeness, simplicity, [12/13] humility which so distinguished his Divine Master. The more I think of him, the more I am impressed with this. If any one ever supposed that hauteur, superciliousness and an air of condescension, were necessary and inevitable accompaniments of the Episcopal office, a day's acquaintance with Bishop Nicholson would have disarmed their fears. Whoever would have thought of calling him "My Lord Bishop;" or could imagine that he would tolerate the designation? He did ,not want to be a bishop. If ever a man cried, "Nolo Episcopari!" he did. Here the Office sought the Man, and not the Man the Office. It was forced upon him, and I know it was accepted with tears; yet being made bishop, how kindly he was in his consideration for his brethren, how generous in his estimates, how gentle in his ways. You felt it in the pressure of his hand. You saw it in the expression of his face. One cannot but think of him as an eminent illustration of that word of our Lord, "Except ye be converted and become as little children."

And all of these noble gifts, of which he would have been the first to acknowledge that they were none of his own gettings or deservings, but all of God's grace—all these noble gifts he laid, in subservience to his Master, upon the altar of devotion to the Reformed Episcopal Church—when? Not in his callow youth, before life's friendships had been formed, or life's responsibilities assumed; not when he had little, but when he had most to give, in the prime of his manhood, in the fullness of his maturity and influence. And he rejoiced thus to yield his best.

There were many, impelled by the same convictions, who made this very condition an excuse for holding back. "It cost too much," they said, "this call of duty! What, sunder these ties! Break off these pleasant and comfortable relations! It is too much to ask! If we were younger and less encompassed, we might come, but not now!"

But he came—though his sun had already passed its meridian and begun its westering, and his powers, opportunities and expanding influence in the denomination to which he belonged were at their height; and when, if he [13/14] had stifled conviction and remained where he was, he might probably have secured any office he desired in the gift of the Church.

Oh, he was a great man, and ours is a great loss; but we have a thousand reasons to thank God to-day that He gifted His servant with such rare gifts and then gave him to us.

His influence survives. His memory is shrined in loving hearts. Being dead, he yet shall speak to us.

"Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ.
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy!"

Address of Bishop James A. Latané, D. D.

The words which I may add shall be very few and very simple.

The last time I was privileged to be with our brother, a few weeks since, he had occasion to quote the words of St. Paul, "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." And though there was not a word to intimate it, yet the impression made at the time was very strong that the words were uttered with somewhat of a personal feeling and a personal reference.

And when the tidings of his death came, the first thought was, "Departed to be with Christ." It is the thought which has lingered, and abides still. And it is a comforting, cheering thought.

The word used by St. Paul, which is translated "to depart." has a very deep significance for the Christian. The idea is not that of departing—setting out on a journey—in the ordinary sense of the word, but of being released, set free, liberated. In classic usage, the word has always this sense. For instance, it is used to describe the loosing of the yoke, the lifting it from the necks of the oxen, after they have borne the heat and burden of the day and their day's work is done. So again, it is used to describe the lifting of the anchor of a ship and the setting of the ship free from all that binds it to the foreign shore, so that it may sail away, across seas, home to the haven where it would be.

[15] And thus the word depart, in its true meaning and as applied to the death of the believer in Christ, is full of thoughts of release, of rest, of home.

It is a release from the temptations and burdens and sorrows of this mortal life. It is an escape from all its trials and struggles and strifes. It is a weighing of the anchor for the homeward voyage. It is the poet's idea in the familiar words:

"Beyond the smiling and the weeping,
Beyond the waking and the sleeping,
Beyond the sowing and the reaping,
Rest, peace and home!"

This is the one side of death, "to depart." The other is "to be with Christ." Ay, to be with Christ, where He is: to be with Christ, and see Him as He is: to look into His face, to sit at His feet, to follow His steps, whithersoever He goeth, and to talk with Him by the way: and above all, to know His love.

This is the hope which the Christian has in death: and this is the hope—the assured hope—in all its fulness, which we are privileged to cherish to-day in thinking of our beloved brother as "departed to be with Christ"

This is not the occasion for any attempted eulogy, or for any studied analysis of the character and work of Bishop Nicholson: We are here only to perform the last sad office and to pay the last sad tribute—a tribute on the part of some, as all know, of most tender and devoted affection; on the part of others, of long, and warm, and cherished friendship; and on the part of all of this large assembly of sincere respect and confidence, and honor and reverence.

Could I find fitting words, I would like to speak of him, first of all, as a man—large-hearted, warm-hearted, generous-hearted, and true.

Then I would like to speak of him as a Christian. The simplicity and sincerity of his faith in Christ as his personal Saviour, was a very marked characteristic. He was ready enough to acknowledge that, in himself and of himself, he had been full of weakness and ignorance and ingratitude and unfaithfulness and sin: but Jesus wag his hope; and washed in His blood, and justified by His [15/16] righteousness, and sanctified by His grace, he lived and walked in peace with God.

And then I would like to speak of him as a preacher. Preaching was his calling in life. He was a man of one business. He was ever about that business. He gave himself wholly to it, and to preparation for it. He was always ready to preach. He loved his work—loved to preach. And he preached nothing but the pure Gospel of Christ—the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. And he preached it because in his heart of hearts he believed it. It was his invariable theme in the pulpit. The last time he preached in my church in Baltimore—six months ago, when he was nearing fourscore years—his theme was the same, the old, old story. His text was, "When I see the blood," and the sermon made a wonderful impression. Various persons spoke of it for days afterwards; and within the last few weeks a lady from a distant city, who happened in the church that day, wrote to ask if the sermon had ever been published, or if there were any means by which she could get a copy of it, saying that she had never heard the Gospel preached so sweetly, and with such clearness, and with such power, as by Bishop Nicholson on that occasion.

And then I would like to speak of his love for the Holy Scriptures. He believed them to be verily the Word of God; he accepted them as of Divine authority; he studied them diligently and meditated in them day and night. He went to them as the pure fountain of spiritual truth, and his constant study of them made him, as we know he was, mighty in the Scriptures, and gave a singular freshness to all His expositions of the Word.

I will not detain you to suggest other illustrations of his character, or of his faith, or of his work, or of what the grace of God did for him.

Still less can I attempt to-day to speak special words of comfort to those to whom this great loss has come nearest. I can only remind them that we share their sorrow and mingle our tears with theirs, and that they have the prayers and the sympathies of us all.

And now, in grateful memory of our beloved Bishop, and of the blessed hopes which cluster around the thought [16/17] of his departure to be with Christ, may we not all "thank God and take courage?"

It is a blessed thing to be assured, by the example of such a life, of what the grace of God can do for us. It is a blessed thing, also, to be assured of the everlasting rest and the everlasting joys, in the presence of Christ our Saviour, into the possession of which those who die in the Lord at once enter.

These blessed truths should reconcile us who are left behind to the trials and sorrows of life, and to the hardships and the weariness, at times, of our present state of warfare; and should stimulate us to work, while life lasts, with all our might, for Him who bath loved us and redeemed us unto Himself with His own precious blood, and with whom, together with the loved ones gone before, we are to spend a blest eternity. Amen!

A Vision.

Out from the warm June sunlight,
Through his loved church's door,
Wide-flung in loyal greeting,
Enters its head once more.

Onward in state they bear him,
His brethren, dark-robed, grave,
Unto the chancel railing,
Beneath the dim-lit nave.

Softly the organ's requiem
Swells out the note of woe;
Filing down the crowded aisles,
Weeping, the people go.

Passing in long procession,
Fresh from the toil and strife,
Before that still, calm figure;
Death in the midst of life.

Ended at last the service,
Over the prayer and song;
Back to the city's bustle
Departs the mourning throng.

Empty the sanctuary,
Only the lilies' breath
Whispers of joys immortal,
Life in the midst of death.

Faintly the odorous blossoms
Scatter their perfume rare;
Thickest above the bowed ones,
Guarding the vacant chair.

[18] Slowly the evening shadows
Lengthen along the aisles
Slanting athwart the chancel,
A lingering sunbeam smiles.

Piercing the gloom that gathers
Above that darksome bier
Where lies the Bishop, keeping
A wakeless vigil near.

Dim-seen, a haloed radiance
Glows round a Presence there,
Whose voice, the echoes waking,
Falls on the startled air:

"Go forth, and claim thy goodly heritage,
O Church beloved of God! His light illumes
Thy pathway; shrink not, then, but onward press,
And claim the prize reserved in heaven for those
Who do His will on earth. Where darkness lies
Over a sin-lost world, there preach the Word,
Instant in season, pointing still to Christ,
Head of the Church, our great High Priest on high;
Who gave Himself a ransom for the sins
Of the whole world, a world redeemed by blood.
O precious blood! a theme for angels' tongues,
Yet given to us to know and tell below:
For not your own are ye, bought with a price.
Oh, ever, then, stand faithful, firm and true,
Unto the Truth, to Him, the Way, the Life.
So will His Spirit dwell with, comfort thee,
Give thee the victory that belongs to faith,
The victory that overcomes the world,
And takes it for the Lord."

The voice sinks into silence—
Into the twilight gray
Fades out that golden sunbeam,
The vision melts away.



The Committee charged, by a meeting of Reformed Episcopal clergy, held at St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia, June 11th, 1901, immediately after the funeral services, with the preparation and publication of a suitable minute in relation to the death of Bishop Nicholson, issue the following for insertion in the EPISCOPAL RECORDER and the Evangelical Episcopalian, and for presentation to the family of our deceased Bishop:

We cherish with loving reverence and great satisfaction the name and memory of our beloved Bishop, William R. Nicholson, D. D., as that of a true son and servant of [18/19] God, greatly gifted by our Lord for the work of the Gospel ministry.

We admired and honored him for his nobility of character and consistency of life, for the strength of his intellect and the graces of his eloquence, for his singularly clear insight into doctrinal truths, particularly the great central truth of atonement for sin by the blood of the cross; and his ability in unfolding and presenting these truths in their varied relations as revealed in the Divine Word; no less than for his readiness and boldness in their defence.

We respect him especially for his unflinching loyalty to conscientious convictions—not seldom at cost of suffering and of great personal sacrifice.

We loved him for his lovableness of word and demeanor, for his affection and generous interest in the needs and trials, the disappointments and successes of his brethren, and his concern for the welfare, temporal and spiritual, of the churches, as also for that childlikeness and simplicity of spirit in which he so sweetly reflected the mind of our Master, Christ.

We mourn his departure from among us as a real loss personally and to the Church at large.

We thank God for his long, useful and honored life, and bless Him for giving our Church, in its early history, a man so eminent in his ability and attainments, and so commanding in his worth and influence.

We pray that we ourselves may have grace given to follow him as he sought to follow his Divine Lord.

We tender to his bereaved family our heartfelt sympathy, mingling our tears with theirs. May "the God of all comfort" hold all its members in His safe and holy keeping, and through the riches of His grace in Christ, at length reunite them to the sainted husband and father, in that dear home where sorrow, separation, pain and death are forevermore unknown.

H. S. HOFFMAN, Committee.


I knew of Bishop Nicholson long before I had ever met him personally. One of my college friends who had been profoundly impressed by a sermon to which he had listened in St. John's Church, Cincinnati, had given me not only a verbal description of Dr. Nicholson and his appearance and manner in the pulpit, but also a striking engraving, which was for many years on the walls of my study.

My first personal acquaintance must have been as early as 1865 or 1866, when we met at the conferences of the Evangelical Party, which had then become an outgrowth of the annual meetings of the three great evangelical societies. The impression which he then produced upon my mind was never either effaced or altered by the frequent intercourse and official relations incident to our work in the Reformed Episcopal Church.

I would say that the very first idea with which Bishop Nicholson impressed me was that of unusual power. Possibly his grand physical frame, towering stature, and almost majestic presence, contributed to this result. But when one came to hear him in public address, there was a massive force in his marshalling of his arguments, and a sledge-hammer weight in his reasoning, which made the listener, whether he agreed or disagreed with his conclusions, feel that whatever else Bishop Nicholson was, he was an intellectual athlete, a spiritually strong man.

Next in order was the conviction that he was unfailingly loyal to the Word of God. From its decisions he knew of no appeal. Once satisfied that the Bible taught a certain truth, nothing could swerve him from a reverent acceptance and earnest propagation of that truth. There was no reservation and no compromise in his firm belief that the Bible was the sole authority to which the Christian must bow. It was this which led him to turn a deaf ear to the seductive special-pleading of the so-called "higher critics."

[21] To say that his interpretations of the Bible were unvaryingly correct, would be to ascribe to him an infallibility which he would have been far from claiming. The writer himself has frequently felt compelled to differ from Bishop Nicholson in his exegesis of passages of Scripture. But it is safe to assert that his intense study of the Word, and the reverence with which he regarded it, made him an expositor whose views necessarily commanded respect.

Lastly, it was impossible to know Bishop Nicholson without the consciousness that he was saturated with that system of doctrinal belief which we characterize by the distinctive term, "Evangelical." The great fundamental principles of that system—the corruption of our nature by sin, the redemption by the precious blood of Christ, the application of the atoning sacrifice by faith alone, and the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification—were wrought into the very warp and woof of his religion. The central cross shed its light on every department of his teaching. As in the days of the Roman Empire it was said, "Every road leads to Rome," so with this preacher of the Gospel, every sermon led to Christ.

We may in future years have preachers equally learned and scholarly, equally eloquent and forcible in speech, but we shall have none more faithful to God's truth as he conceived it, or more loyal to the doctrines of the English Reformation, than William Rufus Nicholson.


The Reformed Episcopal Church is under a debt of gratitude to Bishop Nicholson to which there is no statute of limitation. Although having very pronounced beliefs on certain theological and eschatological points, on which many of us differed from him, he yet made room for us in the comprehensive Church., he helped to establish, by his truly catholic concessions to the opinions which we entertained.

The famous Seventeenth Article, on "Predestination" after long and earnest discussion, was so moulded by his hand that both Calvinists and Arminians were able to subscribe to it, and thus work side by side in proclaiming [21/22] the great truths of God's absolute sovereignty and man's uncoerced free will.

While, as a preacher, he was by no means devoid of the graces of rhetoric, language and illustration were subordinated to the clear, forcible and logical presentation of the truth as he held it. If his premises were granted, the conclusion he reached was undeniable. The sermon he preached on "The Priesthood of Believers," at my consecration as Bishop, was a classic. It was a matchless manifesto of the Christian's rights and privileges through the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.

His talent as a debater was of a very high order. Although tenacious and insistent in discussion, he was always courteous. If he found himself with the minority, he gracefully accepted the situation and cherished no unkind feelings toward his opponents. If measures were adopted by the General Council which seemed unwise to him, he yet loyally carried them out as a Bishop of the Church. He filled out a long and laborious life in the service of his Divine Master with honor and esteem, and like a shock of corn fully ripe in his season, has been gathered home to the heavenly garner.


A prince in Israel has fallen! In the death of Bishop W. R. Nicholson, our whole Church has experienced a great loss, which will be felt far beyond her own borders. A ripe scholar, a profound thinker, a logical reasoner, a thoroughly evangelical believer, a fluent speaker, he was always a forcible and impressive preacher of the blessed Gospel, his fine personal appearance giving additional charm to his address.

May the great Bishop of the Church raise up for us a successor worthy to take his place, and cheer us who grieve for his departure, while we rejoice for the crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge has called him to receive.


The departure from this earthly communion of our beloved brother and fellow-servant, Bishop Nicholson, [22/23] is to me, though so far away, like a personal loss. My communications with him, though brief, have left impressions on my mind not soon to be effaced.

At the Convention of our Church at Ottawa in 1876, we were fellow-guests in the same family. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company. It is one of my most pleasant reminiscences that his hands were laid upon my head on a most solemn occasion; while his personal address to myself in the presence of the large congregation then and there assembled, speaking beyond all my deserts of my testimony in these parts, was to me both humbling and encouraging in the highest degree.

Next to our tender sympathy with his bereaved ones left behind, the predominant feeling in all our minds is the bereavement of the Church. That is indeed great. His government will be missed by not a few, his instructions by all. "Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." For our Church we mourn, for such men are not too common....


... From our first interview, he won my heart's esteem—nay, more, its love. His smile was a benediction; his words fraught with wisdom; and his counsel greatly valued. I thank God I ever knew the beloved brother. If I live till next month, I shall enter upon my eightysecond year; yet I never met with one more deserving of esteem and brotherly affection....


Every intelligent, thoughtful person, knowing Bishop Nicholson personally, and conversant with his ministerial career, must realize in his death the withdrawal of a large, strong, commanding presence from our assemblies and communion. Any such person essaying to write a brief tribute to his memory, will find it quite as difficult to decide what to omit as what to say in his record. In the effort to meet these conditions, I submit:

1. A very few words on the intellectual qualities of our Bishop. It is not enough to say he was eminently [23/24] endowed in the general, undiscriminated sense of the words. I think it not too much to say his mind was singularly analytical and logical. He never wrote in a haze. No trace of indeterminateness can be found in any of his discussions on any subject. His insight pierced through all the intricacies of the matter in hand. An eminent lawyer of New York City said to me of another member of the bar whom he sometimes retained as an adviser in large and difficult cases, that even when he was forced to differ from his written briefs, he never failed to see that he had probed the subject to its basal principles. The exegesis of Bishop Nicholson was always minute; perhaps it might seem to some too minute, but it was ever searching, thorough; and though I could not always appropriate its conclusions, I could not fail to admire its keen glance into every relation of his text or subject and its practical sequences in exposition....

3. It is perhaps only proper that I add some words on the Bishop's power as a preacher. Those who have only heard him in the later years of his ministry, marked by the cooling of fervent passion, the ebbing of vigorous freshness of conception, the subsiding of sonorous but modulated vocal power, can but very imperfectly appreciate his commanding influence in the pulpit in his earlier years. His eloquence was not that of Bishop Johns, of Virginia, in which the attractive graces of manner, the lute-like voice, the delicate courtesy to the audience, played together in the unfolding of rich evangelical truth: it was not that of Bishop McIlvaine, in which a splendid, commanding figure, a countenance only not lighted into a glare because too genial for severity, a flow of thought in which logical consistency, real throughout, was lost sight of in its splendid rhetoric sweeping finely over the congregation: it was not that of a Tyng, blazing wondrously through periods extemporal, yet with exquisite finish and throwing off brilliant jets in unstudied exuberance; nor was it that of a Brooke of Cincinnati, in which the small, boyish figure, delivering his exordium in gentle, measured tones, soon became commanding, the eye free from manuscript, setting fire to the audience and catching fire from it became electric, a fine fancy dancing over the heavier [24/25] masses of his thought, until at times, when all the lion of his Christian soul was aroused, strong men sat with clenched hands in rapt awe, and the little man seemed to tower into colossal proportions.

Bishop Nicholson's eloquence was distinguished from all such examples. Though his discourses, whether in sermon or lecture, were finished compositions, always logical, always expressed in excellent, graceful rhetoric, they were marked by a peculiar unity, and so constructed as to gather force throughout from tributary inlets, thus swelling, in his best efforts, to a broad river, carrying the audience in its resistless sweep. Dr. Sparrow, a profound thinker, a keen logician, of deep emotional nature, but emotion under educated control, after listening to one of Dr. Nicholson's great sermons in the time of his best development of power, paused repeatedly on the street to give excited expression to astonishment and admiration. I well remember an outcrying burst of excitement from a man in the midst of one of Bishop Nicholson's great lectures, an outburst in which, I suspect, the whole audience sympathized. In some of his greatest efforts, when in the prime of early manhood, the absorption of mind, the spiritual fervor that held the audience in spellbound interest, regardless of the lapse of time, rose to an intensity holding captive his entire conscious life. I remember one occasion when, at the close of a discourse of overwhelming power, I began to speak to him on the subject. It was only after some moments that the Bishop could descend to my level enough to understand my words. Those who have heard him on such occasions, can never forget the scenes and the impressions.

But enough. Bishop Nicholson has gone from us, and has left a vacancy that, for the time at least, seems almost a chasm. We shall miss his commanding presence in our councils, in our parishes, in our whole church life. But he rests from his labors—with Christ. Some of us, whose sun has long passed the zenith, will follow him before many years. May we be prepared to meet our Bishop and all the noble ones who have gone before—in the presence of that Master whose "well done" will introduce the rapture of eternal life.


[26] God's greatest gifts to men are men. And His best men are prophets, whoa have a clear vision of Divine truth, with the faculty to reveal it to others, and who, by an elevated and holy life, are the witnesses to and illustration of God's truth. Such a man was given to the world in the person of Bishop William Rufus Nicholson, D.D. He was a prophet of the highest order.

By a direct vision, he saw God's truth. He possessed an unusual apprehension of the mind and will of God. Than he few have penetrated deeper into the essence of Divine love. He learned it not from others, nor from books, though he was a most careful student of other men's thoughts. The unseen things of God were revealed to his own intuitions through painstaking waiting before God and sweet communion with his Lord and Saviour. Thus, under the intense light of spirituality, as few, he saw the inner truth and hidden glories of the Holy Scriptures. To his view the Bible was from beginning to end luminous with the splendors of the Christ. He saw in the eternal Son of God the focalized rays of God's limitless love to the race. The Bible was to him ever the infallible and only sun to reflect the knowledge and mysteries of God, as also the only rule of human conduct.

Then what a marvellous gift was his to reveal to others the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus. His vision of the truth materialized. His dreams, like Bunyan's, were capable of interpretation in the vivid language of human speech, appealing to man's deepest consciousness of need. What an uplift there was in his matchless expositions of the Word! How by his clear analysis, spiritual insight and sublime logic, he inspired faith to a wider sweep of privilege and blessing! How, as he unveiled the new beauties and immeasurable wealth of Christ, he made contagious his own personal joy and ecstacy! How by his incisive applications of the Gospel he increased the sense of human responsibility and purified the motives that underlie Christian work! How, when be opened a text or passage of Scripture, the very atmosphere became spiritualized! How under his preaching the soul was made conscious of its lost and helpless estate, and yet how, like a burst of sunshine from ominous clouds, its [26/27] great salvation shone forth as he delineated with such masterly skill the finished work wrought by Christ on the cross!

The writer of these lines recalls how his own conceptions of the blessed Lord were clarified and broadened by a series of lectures that Bishop Nicholson delivered, on the Epistle to the Colossians, more than twenty-three years ago. As long as memory holds the tablet that records past events, will I recall the Tuesday afternoon when he unfolded the glorious significance of Colossians is 13-20. My heart has ever since beaten with a new and deeper joy because of the wider view of blessedness and glory in Christ I then had given me. He gave me food for thought that afternoon upon which my heart has since been nourished. His sermons and addresses were always saturated with pure Gospel truth, and with an ecstatic and impassioned eloquence he always magnified the crucified One.

But he had not alone the intense light of truth turned upon his own mind, and the almost magical power to transfer to others his vision of the unseen things of God, but he was daily a living witness to and a striking illustration of the truth of God. Insisting in all his teachings upon a definite experience of Christ's grace, Bishop Nicholson made all feel, who came under the spell of his influence, that he had incorporated in his own life the word of Christ, and that his own acts and words were swayed and regulated by the principles of the Gospel. The truth of Christ was incarnated in his life. He lived the life of faith upon the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him.

It was his deep experience of Christ's truth that gave him the power to make spiritual things so real as to inspire in men's soup the confidence of faith and the assurance of hope. The fire in his own soul enkindled the flame of holy love in other hearts. The definite vision of the unseen that he had, caused him to cast away the trappings of ritualism, and oppose the evils of a human priesthood. Loyalty and love to Christ made him heroic to sacrifice earthly hopes and ambitions, willing to bear the reproach of an insignificant people, rather than to [27/28] enjoy the place and power of a larger, but less Protestant branch of the Church of Christ.

Endowed with rare intellectual faculties, his literary acquirements prodigious and varied, a giant among men, unswerving in his convictions, by his very presence commanding, a born leader by gifts of mind and eloquence, he yet was the personification of humility, simplicity, guilelessness and tender consideration for others. Strength and gentleness of character wonderfully blended in his personality. His life was a spiritual force, not because he possessed the gifts of a scholar and orator, but because Christ's truth was incarnated in him. By the creation of God a splendid man, by regeneration of the Holy Ghost and by consecration to God, he became an example of saintly life and spiritual power. In doctrine Calvinistic, in morality Puritanic, he yet was broad enough to fellowship with any one who recognized the headship of Christ.

We can now only partially estimate the important place that Bishop Nicholson occupied in the early history of our communion. None will bring into question the leading part that he took in shaping the doctrinal basis upon which our Church to-day rests. The Articles of Religion that stand at the front of our Prayer Book at his suggestion, instead of at its end, bear everywhere the evidence of his careful discrimination and theological accuracy. The catechism that he compiled, too lengthy, perhaps, for general use, will yet ever remain a body of divinity, for reference and the basis for scriptural instruction. His numerous apologetic articles will exert an untold influence upon the future professors of our Theological Seminary. His profound thought and deep convictions, as expressed in these pamphlets, will increasingly indicate that his place was a most important one in the formative stages of the Reformed Episcopal Church. His works will follow him for ages to come. His influence will live on among us. Such men as he never die.

May the mantle of his saintly character, purity of purpose and devotion to truth, fall upon our ministry for all time.


[29] The words to which I want to direct your attention are the words: "Believest thou this?"

As you are aware, during the past week the Bishop of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia has entered into his rest. His work was done; he was ready to go home; the Father called him; he has passed into the eternal home; to-day he forms one of the Church triumphant above.

In his departure, our Church loses one of its most prominent figures; the Church of God one of its most loyal sons; the various institutions of the kingdom of God one of their most earnest defenders and interpreters. I think that, as a communion, we have reason to thank God that, through all the changes in the past years, especially the recent years, through all the changes in the realm of theology, through all the changes in the realm of church polity, through all the changes in the realm of ritual, our Bishop stood upon the old ground, true as steel.

It is not necessary for me to remind you how loyal and true he was to the Word of God, never for one moment sympathizing with any form of thought or faith that interfered with the integrity, the wholeness, the divineness of the Word of God. To him the Bible was not an ordinary book; it was the Word of God.

Nor is it necessary for me to remind you of his loyalty to the great fundamental truths of the Gospel. Fully acquainted with all modern thought, in constant touch with all who are active in the radical school of thought, he yet adhered to the testimonies of God with marvellous fidelity, with wonderful intelligence. It is a thing to thank God for, that he who stood at the head of our Synod was not moved by the winds of the present, or disturbed by modern currents. He saw them all; but he saw beyond them all, the everlasting truth of God.

Nor is it necessary to remind you that his faith was not a faith simply of the intellect; it was not a traditional faith; it was not a faith that was outside of himself, that had no effect upon his life. His faith was real, living, experimental. No one could ever listen to him without realizing that that which was true emphatically of St. [29/30] Paul, was true of him, and when he preached the Gospel he was preaching his own experience of the power of the Gospel. Those who had the privilege of listening to his address at the funeral of the Rev. Caleb Allen, will not soon forget the note of certainty, the very tender expression of his own personal faith, the realization of what he had preached for so many years, in his own heart, and in his own life.

The poetry with which he closed his address comes back to us now with a very tender interest, and seems almost prophetic:

"Sweet to rejoice in living hope
That, when my change shall come,
Angels shall hover round my bed
And waft my spirit home."


Bishop Nicholson had a firm and unfaltering belief in Holy Scripture. To him every word in the Book was full of meaning. If the meaning was not obvious, he did not pass the matter by, but he scrutinized and compared, measuring Scripture by Scripture, until light broke. For vague and indefinite exegesis, however poetic or rhetorical, he had no relish, feeling that God's message was not to be vaporized away, but was to be accepted in its integrity, without remonstrance, evasion or demur.

His mind was logical, but to him all logic was deceptive which infringed upon the written Word. "Let God be true, though every man a liar." The strength, the vigor and the close reasoning of the seventeenth century divines reappeared in him. He felt that Christianity, however easily grasped to the saving of a soul, rested upon profound principles, the tracing of which was worth a scholar's toil. I should suppose that Christians trained by him would not be reeds shaken with the wind, but would be steadfast and sure, and would know the reason of the hope that was in them.

His judgment once given was adhered to, because it was not given without deliberation and thorough conviction. He could not bend to the storm of adverse criticism, but he could calmly take a pitiless rain, his frame [30/31] erect, his equanimity undisturbed. Not as pleasing men, but God, he lived a heroic life, and stands a stately figure among the great men of our Church, and among the Christian Reformers of the world.

I knew him only by his public utterances; the graces of his private life, the relation between him and the souls to whom he ministered, are the truest indices of a pastor's character, but I cannot speak of these.


When my life first touched the life of our departed Bishop, twenty-five years ago, I had all the conceit of a college boy, and all the imaginary Biblical knowledge of a youthful student of theology; but fifteen minutes' conversation with him convinced me that all my knowledge was disconnected and fragmentary, and that concerning the great system of revealed truth I knew nothing. Every subsequent interview with Bishop Nicholson confirmed my conviction that he knew the Book, that his grasp of the Word was the most potent factor in his influential career.

To him the Bible was not a library of sixty-six books. He had no part with those who believe that there is a magic virtue in the repetition of isolated texts, without reference to their connections. He looked upon the sacred canon as the life of Jesus the Christ. To him Moses, David, Isaiah and Ezra were as truly His biographers as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He saw the Son of Mary walking amid the Levitical sacrifices of the wilderness just as plainly as on the way from Pilate's hall to Golgotha. While many less competent minds were sitting in chariots of intellect, trying to read imaginary writers into the sublime passages of Isaiah, he, Philip-like, was pointing to the Lamb of God as the essential glory of prophetic vision. In the sacred songs of Jesse's shepherd boy he heard the sweet voice of great David's greater Son as distinctly as when it pronounced the beatitudes or gave to the disciples the great commission.

This same Jesus—the Alpha and Omega of the Word—was the beginning and ending of his own life, public and [31/32] private. However one may have differed from him in method and in manner, yet one was constrained always to feel that it was his reigning purpose to "crown Him Lord of all." His life was intensive rather than extensive. He was acquainted with the facts of general history, but he was familiar with the truths of redemption. He read the lives of great men, hut he studied the life of Jesus. The record of the world's doings challenged his attention for a moment, but the record-of inspiration was his meditation day and night.

"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, on the mouth of the Lord." What meaning in this literal translation of the familiar passage! God took Moses away and showed him all the land and talked with him; then Moses died "on the mouth of the Lord"—hanging all his future upon the words which fell from the Lord's lips.

Bishop Nicholson has passed from the camp of Israel. When we last saw him, he was walking with God; now he is not, for God has taken him. The exodus, the Red Sea, Rephidim, are passed. Pisgah, the Mount of Transfiguration, the city not made with hands, are eternally present. He died on the mouth of the Lord—resting on the everlasting promises, which to him were all "Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus."


A thousand miles away when the news came that our beloved Bishop had departed "out of this world unto the Father," it was too late for me to look, with others who loved him, on that fine and noble face for the last time before we should see him again in the coming glory.

One has few great friends in this world, though he may have many dear ones; Bishop Nicholson was dear to me, and he was great. When I was young in the Gospel ministry, and inexperienced, he seemed to believe in me, and trust me, which meant, I found, that he was prepared to stand sponsor for me, to commend me and my work to those who had the power to aid both, to advise and counsel me, to cheer and encourage me, to do valiant battle for me, to suffer for me. He was indeed the ecclesiastical [32/33] overseer whom I revered. but he was the friend who, to use his own so familiar phrase, "grappled me to him with hooks of steel." So true was he, so strong, so patient, so heroic, so able; so grandly unselfish! His scholarly attainments, his biblical learning, his exceptional eloquence, all recognized and joyfully confessed, but to me his moral qualities made him colossal. How rich he has made my life! How I praise God for him!

I have often felt that no Reformed Episcopalian knew Bishop Nicholson except those who knew him as a minister and leader of religious thought and activity in Boston. He had been gone from that city, as the rector of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, several years, before I was called there to establish the work of the Reformed Episcopal Church, but I found that his name and influence still lived. Moreover, they still live. For thirteen years or thereabouts—it was just before the personality of Philips Brooks began to loom upon the horizon—he occupied the most commanding position in the Protestant Episcopal Church, and one might almost say in any evangelical Church in the New England metropolis. St. Paul's was then at the heart of the city's life, and its stately pews were filled with its elite. The leaders in society, in commerce, in medicine and law, and in benevolence and active piety, worshipped there. Nor was this all; Bishop, then Dr. Nicholson, anticipated the more recent Monday Lectureship of Joseph Cook, striking even a higher note than he, by establishing a weekly lecture in biblical exposition for the general public. These gatherings crowded the lecture room of St. Paul's, attracting Christians of all denominations from far and near, among them many ministers. To this day I meet people, not infrequently, who are feasting at the banquet then spread before them. His lectures on Romans especially are a green and living memory.

The influence of Bishop Nicholson contributed potentially to the establishment of the Reformed Episcopal Church in Boston. Not only was its original nucleus composed chiefly of his spiritual children, nurtured under his ministry in St. Paul's, but many who subsequently united with them did so under the spell of his name. His [33/34] annual Episcopal visits were epochs in the parochial life of the church, and looked forward to as the one occasion each year, at least, when the church would be filled. To mention his coming in the daily press was enough to draw his old friends together, even from long distances, and like the waves that break upon the shore and recede, leaving their impress behind, so these annual gatherings almost invariably added afterwards to the membership, or in other ways contributed to an appreciation of our position and work before the Christian public.

But few of the many personal letters of Bishop Nicholson, received in these more than twenty years, have I been able to destroy; they were too rich in the rarest quality of friendship to admit of that. As they have been filed away from year to year, I have sometimes fancied myself an old man, looking over them again and retracing all the joy, or solace, or stimulus they meant to me in youth and middle life. But a greater happiness awaits me, through the grace of Christ, when we shall meet in His presence.


Standing in the shadow of the great loss which has fallen upon our Church in the death of our beloved Bishop, it seems impossible to adequately express my appreciation and estimate of one so highly gifted and so worthy of loving loyalty. Coming as a stranger to Philadelphia, nearly eleven years ago, I first saw Bishop Nicholson in the pulpit of St. Paul's Church, on Christmas morning, 1890. , The force of his intellect and the passion of his utterance at once captivated me, and when he called upon me, on the afternoon of the same day, the charm of his manner and the unaffected sincerity of his words won my heart. This interview was the beginning of a respectful affection, which has deepened as the years have passed, and has made loyalty to him an honor to the servant who paid it.

The last time I saw him was in the pulpit of my own church—St. Luke's, Frankford—on the last Sunday morning in April, 1901. There was manifested the sane passion for the souls, of his hearers, and the same love for truth, as on the former occasion. And though eleven [34/35] years separated the two, occasions, his strength seemed just as vigorous and apparently his natural force was not abated. Between these two occasions lie nearly eleven years of fatherly interest of the tenderest kind on his part, and a loyalty that could not waver, because it was based on a loving admiration, on my own.

Fifteen times, as the rector of this parish, it was my privilege to welcome him into our midst. We always anticipated his visits with pride and pleasure. They were a help to us. and all felt that, in being in his presence, we had been brought face to face with a "man of God." His splendid gifts of mind and heart were highly appreciated, and his expositions of Scripture often filled our minds with wonder, and furnished our hearts with the "strong meat" that befitted those "called to be saints." Many times his eloquence thrilled us. A tuneful voice, an impassioned, prophet-like utterance, words so simple that children could understand them, a grasp of truth in all its parts so masterly that the most thoughtful were filled with wonder—and the whole suffused with the glow of a burning passion for the souls of men—this is the portrait of the preacher as we knew him, a veritable messenger of God.

But not only as a preacher was he known and admired, but as a man, an elder brother among us, he was beloved. Upon all of us one characteristic of heart was impressed: "He was a good man." His constant suppression of self was only equalled by his manifestation of the gentler graces, that make the bloom upon the heart's ripe fruit. His faults, if such he had, were exaggerations of his excellencies. His own gentleness and worthiness of confidence sometimes gave his judgment bias in favor of those less worthy.

Genuine grief and personal loss were the feelings uppermost in our hearts when we heard that he had gone. And the utterance of the lip is the feeling of the heart, and, as our tribute of appreciation, we would lay this wreath upon his tomb: "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith."


[36] Those who were associated with the late Bishop W. R. Nicholson, D. D., in the work of the Reformed Episcopal Church, could not but be justly proud and profoundly grateful whenever his rare ability and masterly eloquence received fitting tribute from great assemblies. To but few in our day has it been given to reach such mountain peaks of sacred oratory as did Bishop Nicholson when, in the International Bible Students' Convention at Chicago, he discoursed on "Messiah's Kingly Glory;" and at the conference on the Holy Spirit at Baltimore, when his theme was "The Spirit of Prophecy." On both these occasions, vast numbers were lifted, as by a great tidal wave, to heights of spiritual vision till then unreached. Many more, in reading these addresses, have by their uplifting power risen to a higher plane of Christian believing and living. We thank God for these and similar manifestations of the spiritual forces that were incarnated in one who was a shining exponent of the distinctive principles of our communion, and whose splendid gifts were consecrated to proclaiming "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God." ...

In his devotion to principle, regardless of the consequence to himself, in his love for the brethren, in his sympathetic endeavors to ease their burdens, in his willingness to spend and be spent in their service, he continually reminded us of the great apostle whose writings he elucidated with such marvellous power. We praise God for his luminous ministry of blessing. As we recall its distinguishing features, during all the years in which it was our privilege to be associated with Bishop Nicholson, we know of no one who has crossed our path of whom it can be more confidently said, for him to live was Christ, and to die is gain


Other pens far more ready than mine have sketched dear Bishop Nicholson's lovely character; but I feel honored in being asked to contribute a line to his memory, inasmuch as I was more intimately associated with him than most of my ministerial brethren.

It was early in December, 1882, that he invited me to [36/37] become his assistant at the Second (now St. Paul's) Church, Philadelphia. I accepted his invitation and entered upon my duties early in 1883. For four years and a half I continued to be associated with him: those were years of blessed memory, of rich privilege, special honor. To sit under his teaching week after week was to be edified, strengthened and blessed. No seminary could compare with such a school. His expositions of Scripture were marvellous. The choice and beautiful language in which every sentence was couched, and the forceful logic and impressive delivery of his sermons made them masterpieces of eloquence and power.

I never met any one that knew the Bible as did Bishop Nicholson: go to him about any point in Old Testament or New Testament, and he was sure to make the crooked things straight and give you an insight into the Word that you did not have before.

I had the great honor of being entertained for several weeks at his hospitable home on one occasion, and it was a mountaintop season. To see the Bishop in his home every day was to see the Christian life beautifully and truly illustrated. His voice, his manner, his spirit, all told that he was God's happy child.

We had many delightful interviews, which I love to recall; they were rich in the treasures of information and experience which I gained from them.

I think if I was asked what impressed me most in Bishop Nicholson's character, I should say, his great trust in God. It was so childlike and complete. He leaned back with all his weight upon God. "He dwelt in the secret place of the Most High; he lived under the shadow of the Almighty." ...

I shall always look back to my association with him as one of God's special favors to me, and believe that I owe more, under God, to Bishop Nicholson than to any other man, for what I am as a minister of the Gospel. He was my instructor, my friend; I loved him, and shall miss him much as the years pass, but the thought is pleasant and cheering that our association, once so helpful to me, shall again be renewed, "when the morning breaks and the shadows flee away."


[38] ... The passage to his eternal rest and reward of Bishop Nicholson is not an unexpected, is yet a most unwelcome, and a serious and solemn episode in the life of our Church, the magnitude of which will not be easily calculated. The closing of his earthly career is the closing of an epoch in our Church history and the history of this Synod. The sealing of his tomb marks the beginning of another epoch. And these time marks are as the Divine voice calling us to solemn audience. Nor may we pass them heedlessly; nor have we wish to do so. Weeping, we retrospect. Uncertain look we to the future; yet not rebellious nor unhopeful.

With tearful hearts,
Thy will, O Lord, be done, We cry.
With trusting hearts,
Be Thou, O Lord, our Guide, We pray.

And our weeping we commingle with rejoicing; beholding in our spiritual vision, with the eye of faith, the great rejoicing of him who has heard his heavenly benediction; and whose faith, which was to him the very "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," is now rewarded, no longer beholding "through a glass darkly," but "face to face," knowing even as also he is known, his beloved Master and Saviour, appearing now "like Him," for he beholds "Him as He is."

The Bishop was a type, representing a school of theologians, of thinkers and of teachers, rapidly passing and giving place, alas, to a greatly inferior, though more boastful and arrogant school. Well he represented us, as a most conservative evangelical Episcopalian, who could be trusted not to lead us after fond notions. Would that there were as thorough understanding everywhere in our Church, as he possessed and represented, of the true spirit and character of evangelical Episcopalianism. As "to the manner born," no faddist, no extremist, his name known from ocean to ocean, was but another name for our cause, adding to us dignity and honor and character, rather than borrowing from us; there probably now lives no truer and better representative type of Reformed Episcopalianism as proposed by our founders and "Declaration of Principles," than was he.

[39] Four-score; his work finished; yet we would that he had tarried longer. May God give us another bishop, for character, for gifts, for power, like unto him....


When the news that our beloved Bishop Nicholson had passed to his reward reached my family last week, we all felt that we had lost not only a friend, but a pastor, for it was largely as a pastor that he had been known to the members of the family for years. When he was rector of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, Boston, one of our family became acquainted with him, and was a member of his church for a number of years. My wife always felt that her mother's pastor was, in a sense, her own as well, for his hands were placed upon her infant brow in the rite of baptism, and the same hands rested upon her head in later years in the rite of confirmation.

I well remember the first conversation that I had with Bishop Nicholson, in Boston some years ago, when I presented myself to him as a candidate for the Christian ministry. From that day until his death, Bishop Nicholson was my pastor. During my theological course at our Seminary, he was the Dean, and many of the truths and teachings that have qualified me for the sacred ministry were learned while sitting at the feet of this mighty teacher of the Word. It was upon my head that the hands of our beloved Bishop rested on the night of May 16th, 1894, when I was ordained to the diaconate. Later on, it was my privilege to be Bishop Nicholson's last assistant in St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia....

Bishop Nicholson once said of Bishop Cummins, that "he was our Luther." May we not say to-day of Bishop Nicholson, that he was our Elijah, and may not our prayer be that the mantle of this prophet in Israel may fall upon the younger members of our ministry, upon whom will devolve the carrying on of those principles for which our beloved Bishop was so staunch an advocate?

"From shoulders of our sainted dead
Let prophet mantle fall
On those who on our watch-towers stand,
Life's passing hours to call."


[40] Among the men I have met, there have been a few—a very few—in whose company there has been borne in upon me the consciousness of an attendant spiritual Presence. Bishop Nicholson was one of these. I can recall and could readily speak of special occasions verifying this statement, but a brief reference to a prominent attribute of character may prove of more general interest. I allude to his loyalty to revealed truth.

Under Divine guidance, as I sincerely believe, my life, as a young student, was thrown into contact with his, at a time when, without question, God was subjecting the true gold of an invulnerable faith to a supreme test—most searching, long sustained, and perhaps the most painful which it had ever been called upon to endure. The many appreciative estimates of the consecrated life of our Bishop have not failed to refer to his undoubted gifts as an orator and leader of men. He was a master of assemblies....

An oak has fallen—not a lithesome willow, swaying gracefully with every popular breeze. "He stood foursquare to every wind that blew."


To me, the "falling asleep" of this devoted man of God is peculiarly touching. From the time I entered his jurisdiction—in January, 1894—till then a stranger and unknown to him, to the hour we bade each other a final earthly farewell in his own home, on the 20th of May, 1900, it was my great and valued privilege to receive from Bishop Nicholson a wealth of kindness, tenderness, brotherly love, Christian sympathy and encouragement, which were then, as they will ever be, most helpful and precious to me. His letters, many, if not all, of which are still in my possession, were ever a benediction to me. One especially, written under peculiarly trying circumstances, came as a soothing balm to my then troubled heart, and for which I have never ceased to entertain feelings of profound gratitude to him.

I shall never forget his parting words. Broken in health, just relieved from the care and anxiety of an important city charge, and about to go into comparative [40/41] retirement in my distant prairie home, in another land, he grasped my hand in his and said: "My brother, while life is left you, never cease to preach 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'" How gladly was the answer given: "By the grace of God, that shall ever be my joy and rejoicing." Then the final words were spoken, so clear and so unmistakably welling up from his great, loving heart: "May our covenant keeping God ever be with you, and bless you richly." To me it was a moment of the deepest solemnity, every detail of which is indelibly graven on the tablets of my memory.

God grant that when the time shall come for the appointment of his successor, those on whom this great responsibility rests may find a man like-minded, filled with the Spirit, full of burning zeal for the advancement of the kingdom of our God, and of His Christ; with the same tender, child-like temperament and disposition, and yet firm as a rock, as, thank God, he was, as regards the plenary inspiration of The Book. The task will be no easy one, but "is anything too hard for the Lord?" Let "me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."


The departure of Bishop Nicholson has taken out of our Church a great mental and spiritual force....

When he walked into our General Councils or Synods, he always seemed to me to bring with him a weight of dignity and of intellectual and spiritual power that were unique....

At a meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, held in Chambers Presbyterian Church, of Philadelphia, he read a paper on the bearing of prophecy on the inspiration of the Scriptures. Borne along by his own marvellous conceptions, he threw his whole soul into the delivery, of his subject. The people held fast to their pews, every nerve and muscle being under tension. When he had finished, they rose to their feet all over the room, waved their hands, their handkerchiefs and hats in the air.

I heard him in New York City at a prophetic conference. For several days addresses were made by [41/42] prominent men of our country. If any equalled him, none excelled in forcible reasoning and graceful diction. In dramatic effect he was the leader.

At our Monday ministers' meetings, he was supreme. No matter what the subject under consideration might be, his analysis was final. He was always ready to explain the most difficult passages of Scripture, and seemed to have made an exhaustive examination of every part of the Word in his previous studies, and to have come to a settled conclusion.

But while in intellectual endowments he was separated from his clerical brethren of the Synod, yet how close he came to them with his warm heart. There was no air of a self-conscious superiority. His letters to us are the breathings of a loving, sympathetic, considerate spirit.

Perhaps none of us know how much he has cheered and practically helped his clergy who have struggled against the peculiar difficulties of a young and small branch of the Church. He at least understood their fields and stood by them.

Above all, we admire him for the simplicity of his faith, his reverence for the Diety, and his devotion to Christ, whom he delighted to honor in all his ministry....

For twenty-six years the people of Philadelphia did not know the greatness of this man, who lived so quietly and unobtrusively among them.

What a welcome he must have received in the presence of Christ, where such a man is best understood and appreciated.


Who will fill his place? No one. On whom will his mantle fall? On no other shoulders. Variety of ministry in the Church is as great as variety in nature. Our departed brother, like other of the Lord's servants, had his own unique qualifications for the ministry to which he was divinely called. He was of God's making and molding; nor was the mold used again. When a seer is removed, his work is done. Others are appointed and prepared for their work, but the mighty Lord needs not [42/43] to duplicate. Nevertheless, the Church suffers loss when faithful men are called home.

Bishop Nicholson was a man of rare personality; great in gift, of lofty attainment and of sterling character. Some coins are not readily distinguished from counterfeit. They lack finish. His genuineness instantly revealed itself. lie was endowed with a rich nature; child-like in lovingness, heroic to martyrdom in fealty to the truth; a panoplied crusader in defending it.

This good man was the first minister of Christ who received me on my arrival in this country, thirty years ago; he was the last of my helpers who preached in my tent last summer, in a poor district of our city; his great sermon on "Simon bearing the cross," closed that campaign. These two events stand out in bold relief in my memory, and they are filled between with a long, close, tender fellowship, which was never marred.

When I first visited these United States, a very youthful evangelist, I bore a letter of introduction from the late Rev. John Cox, of England, the great prophetic writer, to Dr. Nicholson, then rector of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, Boston. He received me very cordially, tenderly, fatherly. Immediately we drifted on to matters eschatological. I found him glowing with the blessed hope of our Lord's personal return to earth again.

There were, at that time, no Bible conferences in the country, and when I expressed regret that no one had introduced them and suggested a beginning, cheerfully and enthusiastically he supported the scheme. Soon thereafter, the first Bible conference was inaugurated in the parlors of the late Dr. Gordon, which has since been multiplied. This form of Bible study has swollen into a mighty stream of Christian life and experience. We held several of these conferences in Boston, and Bible study received a great momentum. Precious is the memory of those days, when Bishop Nicholson, Dr. A. J. Gordon, Dr. Henry M. Parsons and others like-minded, of whom Boston was not worthy, rang out the whole full-orbed Gospel of Christ. The vital doctrines of grace and of glory received due attention. A quiet, deep revival swept the city.

[44] From that beginning until he finished his course, my departed friend responded to every invitation, when at all possible, to speak at our Bible conferences. He was a chief central figure at the great interdenominational meetings of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The profound addresses which he delivered on those occasions have become historic. Some of them, we joyfully announce, are preserved in conference volumes. How he thrilled the immense audiences when setting forth in his matchless way "The Jew in prophecy," "Messiah's kingly glory," and "The bearing of prophecy on inspiration." In Baltimore, his expository lecture on the Holy Spirit occupied two hours. These addresses are eloquent in sublimity of language and redolent with exact Scripture interpretation. When the Bishop moved to Philadelphia, I urged the late D. L. Moody to hear him. He did so, and privately visited him for instruction in the Word.


I am glad that the RECORDER invites further tributes to the character of the Paul of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Such a life as his is too rich a theme for contemplation to be exhausted in a few weeks. It is not rash to predict that Bishop Nicholson will live in the religious history of our country.

Would that his sermons might be collected and published, edited by some one who has a strong instinct for order, logical progression and symmetry. So put forth, I believe that his works would prove to be a body of divinity and of Scriptural exposition worthy of equal rank with those of Charles Hodge, McIlvaine and Shedd, for Bishop Nicholson was surely great as a theologian and commentator.

His greatness was further proven by his modesty, his unfeigned humility, and his unaffected friendliness. We young men who were close to him in our student days have never ceased to feel that to him each of us was always "my son Timothy." As for me, baptized, confirmed and ordained a presbyter by Bishop Nicholson, taught by him as I sat for nearly three years under his ministry, and took notes of the only course of lectures which he gave [44/45] on the Articles in the Seminary; as for me, I counted him "my own father in the faith:" he was a living Paul to me. This was just as true when I had found myself, and knew that I was not in my place in a liturgical Church, as when I was ministering in the body whose principles I still love, and whose fellowship I still cherish. Never was Bishop Nicholson warmer in his words of kindness to me than when dismissing me with his benediction to the fellowship of the Presbyterian Church, in the doctrines of which he had given me such invaluable instruction.

Our beloved Bishop was great in the breadth of his sympathies. Whenever he touched a life that was out of Christ, he pointed him to the sure road to salvation; and wherever he touched a life that was in Christ, he gladly recognized a brother. Therefore, all the Churches that exalt Jesus Christ claim this true servant of our glorious Lord as one of their own company. His works do follow him. May his example and his remembered teachings draw us all closer to the Saviour whom he served so faithfully.


It is natural to dwell upon those incidents which connect us with great men, and to recall those things with particularity which throw light upon the characteristics which have marked their career. On this account the writer takes pleasure in remembering his first connection with Bishop Nicholson, which, as it helps to illustrate his manner of preaching, may prove of interest to readers of the RECORDER.

Some years before the establishment of the Reformed Episcopal Church, there existed in Philadelphia a Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews, of which the Rev. Louis C. Newman was the missionary, and which was remarkable for including in its board of managers Protestant Episcopal clergymen and laymen who were both high and low in their affiliations.

Before this Society, annual sermons were preached by prominent clergymen, and among the number one year was Dr. Nicholson, then residing in Boston, and it was the pleasure of the writer to listen to the sermon as [45/46] preached in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, and he will never forget the surprised interest which he experienced as he listened, and which was intensified when, as secretary of the Society, it was his duty to attend to its printing afterwards.

The subject was the appeal of Bartimaeus, and great was the surprise of one at least of the hearers to find that the leading thought of the sermon consisted in omitting the word "thou," which is not in the original, but supplied by the translators, as shown by the italic letters in which it is printed, thus emphasizing the significance of the words, "Son of David," as an official title of our Lord, involving the recognition, on the part of the blind man, of His Messiahship, with his faith in Him as the Saviour, as shown by his use of the term when appealing for mercy.

There were the words, perfectly familiar to every reader, and yet this plain surface meaning was entirely new to at least one such; and this was made plain without any effort, or display of scholarship, but simply by thoughtful analytical meditation upon their meaning as printed.

It is not worth while to follow the expository and rhetorical details of this sermon, which is familiar to many, having been repeated, and being accessible in print; it is enough to say that the impression made upon the writer was profound, and upon its conclusion he expressed to his then pastor, Rev. Richard Newton, the opinion that it was a wonderful sermon. Dr. Newton coincided in the statement, adding, "Yes, Dr. Nicholson is a great preacher."

Since then it has been his highest privilege to listen to some hundreds of sermons, chiefly expository, from the lips of the same great preacher, and the opinion then expressed by the writer has been confirmed and strengthened as time went on. Bishop Nicholson possessed the gift of oratory, but while his hearers were thrilled by his impassioned delivery and the rhetorical assemblage of terms and figures, with almost exclusively Biblical quotations, he impressed every one with the conviction that those attractions were merely casual, and that he only sought to impress upon and make clear to the understanding of [46/47] his hearers the mind of the Spirit as set forth in the inspired words of Scripture. He stood behind his text, and from it held up and proclaimed the riches of God's grace, set forth in Jesus Christ as the vicarious Saviour of sinners and saints.

Nor did he demand learning or culture on the part of his hearers. The common people heard him gladly, and nothing more was required from them than close and careful attention to his words, to make his argument plain. The highest result of thorough scholarship is to so assimilate the labors of others as will enable the preacher to speak clearly and distinctly in his own language. This Bishop Nicholson did pre-eminently, and the experience of more than twenty years only went to strengthen the conviction formed by the writer when he first listened to him in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, that he was in truth a wonderful preacher.


It is a very grateful courtesy to be asked to offer a brief tribute of esteem and memory to our beloved Bishop Nicholson. My first association with him was in or about 1859, when, as one of the young men of St. Paul's Church, Boston, I joined in a letter to him urging him to transfer his work and ministry from St. John's, Cincinnati, where he had won a high reputation as a faithful, evangelical and eloquent pastor, to St. Paul's, to assume the rectorship so grandly filled for many years by Dr. Alexander H. Vinton.

I recall that among the many testimonials which then came to us as to the high character of his ministry, a controlling one was from Judge McLean, of Ohio, one of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, then conspicuous not only for his legal attainments, but for his Christian character, who spoke of Dr. Nicholson as the most able expositor, and eloquent preacher, in all his wide acquaintance. An interregnum of nearly two years occurred after Dr. Vinton's resignation, during which time the incumbency was temporarily filled by Rev. Dr. Lucius W. Bancroft; so that Dr. Nicholson's acceptance and [47/48] transfer were hailed by the congregation of St. Paul's as pledges of renewed parish life and vigor, which pledges were most ably fulfilled by him. No one who worshipped at St. Paul's at that time can fail to recall the rich and suggestive character of his sermons, and the masterly eloquence with which they were delivered. His zeal and wisdom in all parish work, and also in the maintenance of the several evangelical societies whose activities then characterized the Protestant Episcopal Church, were effective and untiring.

Those in our Reformed Church who have listened in later years to his marvellous expositions of Scripture, and his persuasive pleadings for acceptance of and loyalty to the simple truths of the Gospel of Christ, may be able to imagine what his ministry was when the full vigor and fervor of young manhood was upon him. I retain brief notes of many of his sermons of those early years, and they are a fountain of helpful and inspiring meditation. With these memories clinging to me, it was with great satisfaction that, when I temporarily sojourned in Philadelphia, from 1878 to 1.882, it was once more my privilege to sit under his ministry and to find that his fidelity to evangelical doctrine, and the charm of his preaching, had strengthened as the years had increased.

Of these later years, from the date of his adherence to the Reformed Episcopal Church, I must leave his professional brethren, who have wrought beside and with him, to speak. Through all his career, few have equalled him in loyalty to his convictions of duty, in his masterly grasp and elucidation of the Word of God, or in his devotion to the spiritual welfare of those under his pastoral or Episcopal care; and none have surpassed him in the warmth and fidelity of his personal friendships.


Bishop Nicholson, who but yesterday was with us, has been summoned to another sphere, and has quietly vanished from our mortal sight.

It is fitting that, with solemn service and grief-laden hearts, we should pay the last tribute of respect and [48/49] affection to his memory, when laying away in the silence of the tomb the sacred body that had for so long a period been the fleshly tabernacle of one who was endeared to many, because of qualities of mind and heart that fairly won their loyalty and admiration. We had enjoyed his presence amongst us for so long a time, and he was such a component part of our church life, that we had quite forgotten to think of any change, notwithstanding the passing years had admonished us that we could not expect to have continued to us for all time the advantage and the privilege of the wise spiritual counsel, the thoughtful teaching and the exalted preaching of one who was exceptional in respect to those forces of the mind and fruit of the brain that produce the highest result to the acceptance of our common Master, before whose unerring oversight all our work is performed.

Talents and spiritual endowments wonderfully great in the line of the peculiar work as a teacher and preacher, to which he was called, and devoted to wholly, well became this occupant of the Episcopal office in our communion.

"Blessings brighten as they take their flight," and it is now we can appreciate the superior dignity and grace with which the office of spiritual overseer in this Synod was administered. We allowed our vision to be obscured by a too exacting requirement in the matter of business routine merely, and in our near-sighted search we failed lamentably to recognize the true worth of the teacher that went in and out amongst us, who, in his single-eyed and consecrated service, struck a lofty key as a commissioner of Jesus Christ, administering a portion of His kingdom upon the earth; maintaining the topmost standard of learning, combined with trusting and unquestioning faith in expounding the Word of God, in which work there is no doubt he excelled to a most remarkable degree, and withal so plain and simple did he make his subject that even the dullard could understand. The reverent handling of the Holy Scriptures by this master workman was in marked contrast to many in the pulpits of to-day, who essay to preach, but, alas, too often only bring discredit upon the cause they profess to serve by the [49/50] apologetic tone with which they pay deference to modern doubters.

By contrast, what a comfort it is to a poor pilgrim to hear a prophet with a message of which he is not ashamed, and when to this is added evidence of a deeper insight, more profound research, a pure, elegant and chaste diction, with a command of the vernacular that was superb, combined with a sincerity of purpose that was convincing, it easily placed our departed friend and counsellor in the front rank of Christian teachers, and what is more to the purpose, in fulfilling his mission, he was an acceptable workman, that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth and so feeding the flock for which Jesus died.

The great majority in and out of Christ's kingdom are the plain, common people, and the teacher who, blessed of God and equipped with the weapons provided by the Holy Ghost, shall do most to teach and to lead these, is the man who is fulfilling his commission to preach the Gospel in the highest sense; the common people are edified and their faith increased—this is success, indeed.

Notwithstanding his attainments, and, indeed, because of them, the Bishop was most affable and kind in personal intercourse with the poor and lowly; no one was too obscure or too poor to receive his cordial greeting, as occasion required, and the humblest had the greatest respect accorded them, without reference to the meagreness of their house or the leanness of their larder.

To those who are looking at the "two pictures"—the mortal and the immortal—the life and labors of Bishop Nicholson will appear as a grand success, for it is only in the light of eternity that we can rightly judge of the deeds done in the body. It is the heavenly inquisition that judges character, that subtle something which is growing with our growth, and endures beyond the confines of the pilgrimage period, and survives the mortal; the petty things that belong solely to the earth, earthy, art left behind, as the dross in the refiner's fire; the soul, the man, that lives on forever, shall have an imperishable fame, for he served his Master during the allotted time, and in the day of the summons hence, we may be sure he [50/51] was not confounded, for he knew whom he had believed, and like a shock of corn fully ripe, he went home. And we may well be comforted by the assurance of his reception into the glory that shall be revealed in all those who love the appearing of Jesus Christ.


"They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever," Daniel xii: 2. 3.

A leader in the army of the cross
Has fallen with the sword clasp'd in his hand,
The Spirit's sword, that he has wielded true
Against the enemy of God and man.
Its flashing light sent many a piercing ray
Of hope in Christ where all was gloom before.
We call it fallen when a soldier dies
Upon the battle field in midst of days
That have not reached th' appointed span of life;
His work for his dear country is cut off.
Not so with this dear servant of the Lord,
For he was full of years, his work was done,
And he was waiting for the King's command
To come up higher, to receive the crown
That only those who overcome can wear.
We know not what its radiance must be,
But we are told that he who turns dark souls
To lives of righteousness, shall shine as stars
Forever and forever in God's sight.
And as we gaze upon the heavens above,
And through the darkness watch the starry gleam,
We thank our God that He to us has given
A never dying picture of His love,
In that pure, peaceful, heavenly world of stars,
A type of those who, faithful unto death,
Are shining e'en midst heaven's glorious light,
With light reflected from the Morning Star.
To heaven's service his own Master called,
There was a place that only he could fill;
We know not what it is, but we do know
That weariness and toil have there no place,
For the redeemed, from hearts that thrill with joy,
Worship the Lamb that once for them was slain,
Singing His praise forever and forever.

We sing the victor's triumph as we gaze
Upon Christ's soldier who has gone above,
To hear the words from his Redeemer's lips,
"Well done, thou faithful servant, welcome home!"
And those whom he bath led to Jesus' feet
In his long years of Christian ministry,
Who early entered into that bright home,
Are there to greet him as he enters in;
[52] They are the jewels in his heavenly crown,
Won for his Lord from sin and Satan's power.

But to this heavenly vision of his joy
There is a background of the earthly loss
In the home and hearts that have a vacant place,
An aching void, that none on earth can fill,
But Jesus knows, and He doth speak His peace,
And call His troubled ones on Him to lean,
Till through the cloud God's light doth once more shine.

God knew His servant, and He gave him care
Of many churches in his earthly life.
He trusted him with gifts to lead men's hearts
To see the Saviour through the Bible's page;
He loved it, and the Holy Spirit touched
His soul with fire, that his own words might reach
The souls of men and lead them to the Lord.
He gave a voice so beautiful and rich,
The hymns he read breathed forth a deeper thought
Of worship, joy and peace to human hearts,
And lifted them close to the Lord and heaven.

He will be missed in Church, in home, in hearts,
To all he gave so freely of his gifts;
But should we grieve when to our loved and lost
Our loving Father gives His very best?
With Him no unrest, sorrow, toil and pain,
But strength, and rest, and joy, and peace untold,
The angel host, the songs of blissful praise,
And over all the beauty of our King,
Upon whose face he looks forevermore,
And in that glance his heart is satisfied.
O Spirit! breathe to those who love him most,
When he has Christ and heaven, 'tis God's best gift.


"For I had much joy and comfort in thy love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through thee," Philemon 7, R. V.

As one of the original members of Bishop Nicholson's church in Philadelphia, I feel moved to write these lines of loving and grateful remembrance. It was our privilege to receive him as a. guest in our home before he was settled here with his family. His theme in conversation was the Gospel of Christ, and we were held, fascinated and thrilled, forgetful of the hour for retiring. Our hearts were touched and our minds enlightened while he dwelt on the deep teachings of the Word..

In our intercourse during these many years, I have [52/53] always found him the same dignified, refined Christian gentleman, a warm friend, a loving husband and father. Happiest when preaching, teaching or conversing of Christ, he was mercifully permitted to do so almost to the last. We may say of him, that "He walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."

While sorely missing him and realizing the great loss to our Church and to his devoted family, we praise God for his long and useful life, and pray that his mantle may fall on a worthy successor.

C. T. E.

A beautiful painting lies before me, fresh from the master hand. The exquisite tint of its clouds, the fineness of its detail, even to the petals of each delicate flower, are all there, and one touch of an unskilled hand may mar its perfect symmetry and spoil the true and beautiful picture, which the eye and heart of the beholder carries away from its first gaze. The added touch of the novice in the art has disturbed its beauty. Such is the feeling one may well have when asked to add more to what has already been said regarding our beloved Bishop Nicholson. Memory furnishes many a glowing tint to the sketches already drawn of a life which, in its whole-hearted consecration to the Master, was a sermon in itself. He was a friend like unto that old time Jonathan, for who among those honored with his friendship have not felt, with David, that this friend "strengthened his hand in God?"

One could not be long in the presence of Bishop Nicholson without feeling the unconscious beauty of the character of the man, or without seeing the stamp of the soul's nobility. One can almost hear again the lingering tenderness of inflection in his voice, caught, as it were, from his intercourse with heaven, as memory rings with the words, "Defend. O Lord, this Thy child with Thy heavenly grace; that he may continue Thine for ever; and daily increase in Thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come into Thy everlasting kingdom. Amen."

It was as if he would lift that particular child of God into God's very presence, that he might be "kept by the power of God" through all the surging billows of earth's trials and temptations, until that day when, earth passed [53/54] and heaven gained, the former things would have gone forever. The prayer will always bring back this picture, as it hangs upon the glowing walls of memory, adding but another golden link in the chain that binds the heart to our beautiful liturgy, which has voiced the souls of the countless myriads of that part of the Church which has now become the Church Triumphant.

There is a beauty and depth to every Christian life which deepens as the years go on. We go into a cave, and the wonderful stalactites dropping here and there, the beautiful formations of ages, give one glimpses into depths of which we little dreamed. So who can tell the power of a truly consecrated life? Surely it is like the hidden forces within the mighty river, that turn the great wheels of industry along its banks, and sweep ever on to the blue depths of the ocean beyond.

In my Bible are texts marked during the years that have gone, as having been the subjects preached upon by Bishop Nicholson, and into whose minutest detail he threw the clear light of his interpretation and the results of his own study and prayerful reflection. One in particular seems to stand out—that on the text, "And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."

The divisions and main subject matter of the sermon have long since gone, but memory brings to mind the special emphasis laid upon the last clause of the verse, regarding the face of Stephen. Surely such a light shone upon the face of our dear friend, and that radiance lighted the smile with which he passed into the presence of the same Saviour for whom Stephen suffered and died.

What are some of the lessons that we can draw from such a life as the one that has gone from us? It was said of the Master, that He left us "an example, that" we "should follow His steps." So we should be able to find lessons in the lives of His followers which will help us to reflect more of heaven's glory in our lives.

One of the characteristics of Bishop Nicholson was his fearless adherence to the truth. It was no light sacrifice that he made in laying aside preferment and friends in the mother Church and settling as pastor of a mere [54/55] handful of people, with no church, in a new denomination; yet he made the sacrifice for truth's sake, and amid all the "isms" and false teachings of the day, he ever proclaimed the Gospel in its simple purity and truth. His learning and scholarship were consecrated to the work of saving souls, and of instructing men in the way of righteousness.

Another ray of brightness in this life was his unsuspiciousness of evil in others. True, good and highminded himself, he looked for the same qualities in other men. Truly, like Nathanael, he was a man in whom there was "no guile."

His tenderness and gentle, loving kindness in dealing with men was yet another lesson that we may well emulate. His preaching and even the very inflections of his voice rang with love.

Then, as an added lesson to the Reformed Episcopal Church, he was ever one of her staunchest children. Once convinced of the fact that she held within her the true evangelical principles, he threw energy, life, enthusiasm, whole-hearted support into his work in and through her instrumentality, and always showed his colors in all places and under all circumstances.

These are a few of the lessons that one can draw from the life of Bishop Nicholson. There are more—some, doubtless, known only to the hearts of his very nearest and dearest—some known only to the Saviour in whose presence he rejoices to-day.

The perfume of such a life is like the sweet incense offered to the Creator in the chalice of a human soul that has been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and robed in the spotless righteousness of Him who, by the right of redemption, bath purchased us unto Himself forever.


Many have essayed to set forth the characteristics of Bishop Nicholson, and our columns have borne witness to the high esteem in which he was held by those who knew him most intimately; but it is somewhat remarkable that no one has dwelt upon his attitude towards a doctrine which he probably valued more highly than any other, [55/56] which is not essential to the doctrines of grace. We refer to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, to which Bishop Nicholson was devotedly attached, concerning which he held very positive and definite views, and which he never failed to regard as pre-eminently the blessed hope of the Church militant and expectant.

To this subject Bishop Nicholson devoted much close study, and long ago took his position with those who, among students of unfulfilled prophecy, are known as futurists—a school of which the late Benjamin Wills Newton, in Great Britain, and Dr. Nathaniel West, in this country, were conspicuous exponents. Those holding this view, who have increased in number of late years, regard the closely parallel prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse as dealing with events yet to take place, and the assurance that it is God's will that the glorious appearing of the Lord shall be prefaced by a general decline of faith in the professing Church, raised Bishop Nicholson up above anxiety at the prevalence of very many things that he deplored.

But while Bishop Nicholson held with absolute confidence the view referred to, and while it could be detected as a governing principle in every prayer he uttered and in many sermons he preached, he did not devote much time to speculating upon the correspondence between current events and those which constitute the burden of many prophecies; he was satisfied to recognize the general drift of this world's history as being in accord with his understanding of Scripture, as revealing the purpose of the Almighty. He felt no responsibility for those events, nor did he expect to alter the current of affairs, being enabled, with childlike and almost unswerving faith, to leave them in the hands of perfect wisdom and power, and to rejoice in the presence of his Father's will.

Bishop Nicholson did not expect to reform the world, nor look for the conversion of all men in the present dispensation, but he did feel a tremendous responsibility to be a faithful witness for the whole truth as laid down in an inerrant Bible, plenarily inspired. That was the object and aim of all his preaching, and the reason for his insistence upon the close and minute study of the written [56/57] Word, in dependence upon the illuminating power of the Holy Ghost. That he might be used as an. instrument to awaken sleeping souls and to aid in the preparation of a people for the coming of the Lord, was the end of his ministry. It was this desire to be in accord with the Divine will in gathering souls into the kingdom and in raising up witnesses for Christ, which made him an enthusiastic advocate of the cause of foreign missions, that the Word, being preached in all the world for a witness, the coming of the Lord might be hastened.

Reference has been made in these pages to Bishop Nicholson's profound interest in the Jews. It was in keeping with his views on the last things. For them he ever manifested the warmest sympathy, and for the promotion of Christianity among them he was always ready and anxious to labor. Meeting them on every page of the prophetic volume, and looking for their eventual restoration to Palestine in unbelief, in league with Antichrist, their conversion at the appearing of the Lord they had pierced, and their after agency as the evangelists of the coming age, their marvellous history and preservation, possessed for him that fascination which many other students of Scripture have shared, and while he went not beyond what is written, there was no subject which so kindled his enthusiasm.

The most eloquent address we ever heard from his lips was one delivered at a Bible conference in Philadelphia on this subject, which was very generally delegated to him by those who had the management of such gatherings, and were acquainted with his special fitness to illuminate the theme. On this occasion, Bishop Nicholson was the last speaker, and some of those present were leaving the church to catch their trains, when the orator, knowing that under the constraining attractions of his subject he had prepared a lengthy paper, woke up to the consciousness that the time was short. He accordingly spoke not only with his accustomed energy and intensity, but with a rapidity equal to that of Phillips Brooks. The effect was greater than any display of platform eloquence to which the writer has ever listened. Nor was this a judgment based upon or influenced by personal attachment [57/58] and interest; it was shared by others, and among them were those the independence and competency of whose criticism would not have been called in question among the most accomplished Biblical scholars of the day.

But fundamental and prominent as were the premillennial views of this great preacher, underlying his every opinion and influencing almost every exposition, Bishop Nicholson did not fall into the too common error of dwelling too frequently upon that in which he delighted. Like the good housekeeper, he brought forth from his treasury of Scriptural knowledge things both new and old, and divided the bread of life to all equally. His loyalty to the Book, as the very Word of God, was too great to permit him to yield to the leadings of his delighted imagination, but from fields clothed in heavenly bloom he gathered each flower that he saw, and explained it and dwelt upon its value, because it was placed there by infinite wisdom and love. While he unfolded to listening saints the riches of grace in store for them, he never failed to contrast them with the infinite loss awaiting those who did not secure an interest in the coming glory by acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour by simple faith.


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