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A Memorial of William Henry Odenheimer, D.D.
at the service in commemoration of this faithful servant of God,
in Grace Church, Newark, Sept. 4, 1879.
by Wm. Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany

Newark: Advertiser Steam Printing House, 1879. 18 pp.


Coming here to discharge a duty which, in all its sadness, is a grateful labor of love, I am tempted first to express my thanks to those who laid the labor on me, quickened to positive pleasure, as I know that the Standing Committee has expressed the wish of the lonely widow whose mourning is tempered, while it is deepened, by the memories of forty years of closest companionship with the man whose memorial we are to make, with sorrowing hearts, to-day.

It was a strange coincidence that brought me, in the providence of God, to commit to the keeping of the "faithful Creator and merciful Saviour" all that was mortal of my father's life-long friend and last successor in office. There was a wealth of sorrow in the world that Monday, with the weeping skies and the drenched earth, that seemed in harmony with those who gathered there; and told still more of storms and sorrows, out of which the Lord had delivered the soul of His servant into rest and peace. And out of the memories which that day awoke I come, not to Pretend that your bishop was a faultless man; but in the assurance of our common sorrow, to leave his faults where they have been forgiven and where they may well be forgotten, and to think of the merits which were his, through and of his share and trust in the merits of his Master and ours. Medical autopsy has for its avowed purpose the discovery of the disease of which a man has died. A memorial sketch like this seeks rather to trace out the graces in which, and the Grace by which, he lived.

It is, in my judgment, not a part of any preacher's duty to apologize for the shortcomings of such a sermon as this, but this much I may say, that the necessity of making this record, at brief notice and away from home, has left me no time to weave a careful wreath of chosen leaves for that most honored grave. I could only gather here and there a branch of willow and of cypress and of laurel, as my heart went back and wandered through the forests of earlier memories, of which he made so large a part.

It has not seemed to me amiss, thinking, with that sort of sharp and sudden intentness which quick recollections bring, of your late bishop's life and death, to recall, as the thread on which to string my words, the language of the great apostle, who was, I think, alike in doctrine and in character, largely his pattern and ideal: "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

Circumstances, therefore, have given the only shape they could take to the loving words of sympathy I have to speak to you to-day, since time and possibilities were wanting to gather more fitting records of a brief but busy life. And in this holy house, whose holiness none reverenced more profoundly than he, and gathering at the Holy Feast, whose manifold offices none more than he keenly felt and devoutly loved, it is more in keeping with what my old bishop would have wished, to lay aside the thought of either the sharp and accurate pencil of biography, or the warm and glowing brush of eulogy, and learn the leading lessons of his most honorable life.

There are not many earlier memories of my youth than those which gather about Dr. Odenheimer as the rector of St. Peter's church, Philadelphia. The old life at Riverside, in my father's time, was bright with all that goes to make a happy home. But his coming always brightened even its sunshine, and no more welcome guest ever entered its wide-open door. It -is a touching tribute to him, of which I only heard since his death, and of which I must speak in passing, that my. mother, in distant Italy, where she is sleeping now, spoke of him as the person whom, rather than any other, she would prefer to see in my father's place. Of his character in his earlier life, I can only say that, with all its genial and gracious attractiveness, he impressed me, as a boy, with the intensest realization of the priestly office. His dress was truly the habit of his life, and no one could be with him often, without feeling the atmospheric presence and the atmospheric pressure of his personal religious life and of his ministerial office. I have suggested St. Paul as the ideal of his life, and truly to "magnify his office" was the necessity of his nature. I speak of it as a solemn legacy of his example. Nowhere and never may the ordained man be or do what may make men mistake his calling; and yet it is too much the fashion of our day, growing with younger men, to lay aside the clerical character at times; to feel that vacations are to be taken from the restraints and limitations of the priesthood; to forget the indelibility of orders in the desire to find recreations, amusements, pastimes in the intervals of work; and inevitably this unclericalness creeps back into the daily life, as full tides drive poisonous gases back into our homes. It lowers the estimate men have of the office, and deteriorates the spirituality of the man. It is a common and a humiliating sight to see the priest playing layman. Dr. Odenheimer never, as priest or bishop, laid aside the dress or the demeanor of an ambassador of Christ. A favorite of men, the friend of women, the companion of boys, he was always the representative of his Master. Partly the outcome of a nature, which his boyhood's friends remember as pure, like a woman's, as "ingenuous not only, but innocent," it was the stamp of his ordination, set, not like a vestment upon his shoulders, but like a seal into his soul. His pastoral character, in its lower function as a priest, and in its higher exercise as a bishop, was an outgrowth from within. It was the grace, the gift, of orders which are far more than the " authority to minister in holy things." I can fancy that to smaller men a character like this may have seemed arrogant with personal pride. But to those who were about him and knew the sweetness and simplicity of his nature, the humility of his constant dependence upon God, the freedom of his intercourse with men, his lowliness with the poor, his childlikeness with children, it was only the recognition of the reality of his orders, the " magnifying of his office." No one knew more than he that the " treasure " was in " earthen vessels," that "the excellency of the power was of God." But he knew, too, the richness of the "treasure" and "the excellency of the power." "Least among the apostles " he would have owned himself, and yet he knew himself an apostle; not the elected superintendent of certain congregations or the chosen president of an assembly, or the executive officer of a convention to do its bidding and its will; but an ambassador of Christ, an apostolos, one "sent out" and "thrust out," commissioned, enabled, authorized to act for Him; holding the highest and most awful honor to which man can be called, a "bishop in the Church of God." It was his full sense of this position which gave him strength to stand in quiet firmness, far in advance of his time, in the early freshness of his pastoral life, against the accusation of disturbing the settled system of the venerable parish where -he spent all his parochial life. When the daily service and the weekly Eucharist, the very oldest antiquities of Christendom, were introduced into St. Peter's church, Philadelphia, an honored friend, whose idea of ecclesiastical age reached at the utmost no further than the English reformation, remonstrated with him upon the impropriety of so young a man introducing "novelties" into so old a parish. To whom he quietly replied, "But I am 1841 years old!" A prominent priest, who paid this tribute to the bishop in a farewell sermon to his congregation "I learned my theology, when little more than a child, from the rector of St. Peter's, Philadelphia; with no additions to please modern fancy, and no abatements to suit modern prejudice," writes thus since his death: "It is astonishing what obloquy, reproach, and positive persecution he underwent in establishing the daily service. The very triumph he won is scarcely recognized, because it was so complete. But few now think of disputing what he contended for. His answer, when asked whether he was not sometimes discouraged at the smallness of the congregation in the week, was grand, 'I never look.' "His feeling about the episcopate was strongly set forth in the sermon which he so kindly preached at my own consecration, that "the stars," which are "the angels of the churches," are in "the right hand" of Him who is "the First and the Last, that liveth, was dead, and is alive forever more."

It may be fitting here to say a word of the position which my dear brother occupied in the various conflicts and changes of opinions in the American Church, not in detail, but in general statement. Coming to the exercise of his ministry in 1838, just when the minds and souls of men were stirred with the mighty movement by which God, the Holy Ghost, roused the Church of England to a realization of her duties and her powers, he stood with very few people upon the great principles of the Oxford men. It is to be remembered that they were principles then of doctrine, of order, of liturgical devoutness. He was a man of the minority at that time, and greatly in advance of his generation. Young as he was, he had so thoroughly the clearness and the courage of his convictions, and in the three years of his diaconate had won so completely the confidence of his parishioners, that he established, among the very first in America, the daily service of Morning and Evening Prayer, and the celebration of the Holy Communion on every Lord's day and holy day. I believe St. Peter's was for years the only parish church in America that kept the Octaves. The bitterness of outside attacks only led to make plain the groundwork of his principles in the three books published in the first years of his priesthood. The copies, which I have before me as I write, of these three books, "The Origin and Compilation of the Prayer Book," "The True Catholic No Romanist," and "The Young Churchman Catechised," bear date, the latest of them, more than thirty years ago. It was when men were first beginning to stand in the old ways and ask for the old paths. And the same feet which years later walked with such reverent tread over the ground the Master's feet had made" the Holy Land "were among the first in England or America to walk about Zion, "telling her towers" and "marking well her bulwarks" of apostolic order, of evangelical truth, of liturgical purity, that he might "tell them which come after." Full of careful and original research, written with a concise force which breaks at times into very eloquent beauty, they are to-day the very best tracts I know of to refresh the recollections of candidates and clergy as to "the first principles" of the doctrine and discipline of Christ. And no candidates for confirmation ought to be without the knowledge which they contain, in a most complete and attractive form. Their republication and recirculation would tend to correct what is to-day the most threatening evil to the American Church, the transfer of its control from Churchmen bred and born into the hands of a laity uncatechised in childhood, who have chosen the Church instead of being chosen by her, and know her only as the Church of their choice, aesthetic, political, or social; who are impatient simply because they are ignorant of distinctive doctrine or of definite truth. If I had the choice of a memorial to-day of the late Bishop

of Northern New Jersey by which his memory might live and grow, I would make it in a large reprint for perpetual use and wide distribution of these three books, as an antidote to sentimentalism in religion, to spurious catholicity, and to the easy-going looseness of the license that passes for liberality. This was the work of the young man who signed himself at first "Diaconus Catholicus." And while his character deepened intensely as the years went on and his convictions strengthened; while his constant studies led him to enlarge and enrich his religious sympathies, he stood through the whole of his episcopate where he stood in the first years of his ministry. Men came up to him till his early principles became popular and powerful; and men went beyond him, not in a straight line, however, and not always in advance. But, if the long reverence of my boyhood and the closer companionship of my priestly life, and the tender tie which no man not a bishop knows, that held us together in the episcopate, give me any warrant to speak, I believe that Bishop Odenheimer was side by side with his predecessor in the doctrines and practices, whose advocacy my father began as early as 1826, and which were carried out and crystalized in the well-known teachings and Churchmanship of New Jersey. As years go on, and I compare my father from new standpoints with the men of his time and my own, my loving and reverent admiration for him grows every day. And Dr. De Lancey, whom Dr. Odenheimer succeeded in St. Peter's church, was certainly "a prince and a great man" among the American bishops. It fell to the lot of your bishop to stand in and to fill the footprints of two such men. I am the more moved to say this here and now because twenty years ago personal circumstances and personal convictions, which the dear bishop knew and accepted at the time, led me to prefer another's election to his own. The first year of his episcopate convinced me that in sympathy and similarity of aim and purpose, in comprehension of the foundations which had been laid by a wise master-builder, and in ability to build on them, he was fitted, as few men could have been, "to sit in my father's seat." However others may interpret this, I shall, at least, be understood in this presence to mean, out of my filial pride and love, only the warmest praise.

I have not the data, and if I had, it would be useless for me here to enlarge upon the records and results of Bishop Odenheimer's admirable administration of the undivided Diocese of New Jersey. He was, I remember, in the first days of his episcopate, intensely interested in reviving the old parishes and missions, which changing populations and poverty of missionary funds had left, in many instances, almost to die. And his familiarity with Holy Scripture, partly the result of his continuous studies, partly the blessed heritage of any man who carries out the Church's rule of the daily offices in public or in private--his familiarity with Holy Scripture furnished him, in his first Address, I think, with one of those illustrations which is in itself an argument: "And Isaac digged again the wells of water which they had digged in the days of Abraham, his father." His labor for the Church's extension in the diocese and outside of it was untiring. The vision of his ascending Lord, widening till it passed from Jerusalem to Judea, and to "the uttermost parts of the earth," was the governing principle of his missionary zeal. As he settled down to the fuller knowledge and easier administration of his diocesan work, he came fully to realize the value and importance of the New Jersey Church schools, and he grew, year by year, more important and essential to them. Strangely different in temperament from my father, far more careful to avoid or to disarm opposition, and coming to the work, not to create and carry it through and over all resistance, but to smooth the advance which had become irresistible, he began from the first a policy of conciliation, which lessened, perhaps, the intensity of individual followings and friendships, but widened and increased his influence. He asserted very boldly a principle, which needs, I think, qualification to be acted on with safety, that in the transitoriness of the parochial ministry, owing to the practical itinerancy of the clergy, the bishop and the laymen should be considered the only permanent factors of the diocese. In practice I believe that he included, as I should, in the statement of the case, the clergy in the bishop, as being, by their orders, one with him.

With all the untiring energy of his parochial work, his incessant rounds of pastoral visits, his continuous services, and his constant sermons as a parish priest; through all the exits and the entrances of his laborious visitations of his diocese as a bishop he made the time for close and accurate study always in the divine science of theology. The massive and masterly learning of his first Charge to his Convention, " The sacred Scriptures the inspired record of the glory of the Holy Trinity," bears evidence to his rare power of exegesis, his familiarity with the original text of the Old Testament, and to that double gift, so essential to an expounder of the Holy Word, the scientific insight which digs with deep and devout hands among the roots, and the poetic power which recognizes and revels in the sweet beauty of the flowers, of inspired language. To this day there remains fresh in my mind the memory of a morning in the old library at Riverside, when he talked with me of his thought, fresh and full of force, and I believe true, of a revelation of the Holy Trinity in the Hebrew of Genesis iii. 8, '"The Word of the Lord God walking in the garden, "with the Spirit of the Day." I recall, too, as if it were yesterday, the volume of the Hebrew Psalter, rich with his annotations, which was his constant companion in the Holy Land; and I remember well the delight with which, just before his Eastern journey in 1853, he refreshed his knowledge of the sacred language. And while probably not ever to take rank among the first contemporaneous theologians of the Church in America, with Whittingham and Williams, two things are eminently true of him, beside the absolutely balanced soundness of his theology: first the conscientious accuracy and carefulness of his writings and secondly, the freshness and freedom with which he loved to talk theology, to advance new ideas of interpretation, and with a real mightiness in the Scriptures to illustrate and elucidate their rich depths of meaning. His earlier writings, of which I have already spoken, his "Clergyman's Assistant in Reading the Liturgy," and the care of pronunciation of the "proper names of Holy Scripture," are fair illustrations of his accurate scholarship which lives more freshly still in the hearts and minds o those who have been privileged, as candidates or clergy, or in the congregations, to listen to his teachings. And w have in permanent preservation his lectures on Jerusalem which set forth admirably his reverence and his richness of knowledge in holy things, which so well furnished him for a religious teacher. I cannot pass by the title and the whole argument of his second Charge, in whose words one ca hear still the clearness and positiveness of his voice and manner, the old evangelical theology and practice, not new machinery, the want of the Church in the latter days." It sounds so like him, in his constant determination to rescue that good word "evangelical" from any narrowness of party prostitution; and it is sufficient proof, if proof were needed, that he stood firmly, among passing fashions, upon the principles and practices of his earliest ministry.

From these more public and more widely known and recognized features of your bishop's work one turns with no little hesitation to speak of his private history and life. That such a character could have been formed but by full gifts of the divine Grace working upon a rare and lovely nature needs not to be said. And that these gifts came to one who lived very near to God, who was instant in prayer, and constant in the use of all the appointed means of grace, as true as it is inevitable. He was eminently a man of nrayer all his life through, not merely in the habitual observance, for forty-four years at least, of the daily public services of the Church, but, I believe, in the keeping of the Hours when he could; and I know, from the one who only could know it, beside God, in filling "with silent prayer the short pauses in writing, reading, or speaking at the Striking of each hour." And the outcome of this was the strength of which St. Paul's humble trustfulness speaks: "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

It was not long after his consecration that he met with the first accident which disabled him from the full physical activity and strength that had been part of the beauty and honor of his manly dignity. It was truly a "thorn in the flesh," from which even his prayers could bring him only the relief they brought the great apostle, of "grace sufficient," and of "strength made perfect in weakness." That any man, used to incessant labors, and with a demand for even larger exercises of strength, could have submitted with entire patience and uncomplaining resignation to such a visitation of God, and that, in spite of all physical infirmity, he should have carried on the laborious duties of visitations, of confirmations, of preachings, of correspondence, uninterruptedly, almost to the last, is the simple record of this repeated truth, "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Measuring work by amount, and by the difficulty of its accomplishment, never were labors more abundant than his. I was instantly and constantly with him after the first accident, and learned a deeper love and admiration for him than I had before. When for a second time he fractured his patella, he said to the faithful priest, almost his son, who hastened to his side, "It is all right; it is God's will." And after the accident " he was driven ten miles, with the limb unset, to meet an appointment at South Amboy, where he confirmed twelve persons before he took the special train to Burlington, reaching home at midnight, to place himself under the surgical treatment so bravely delayed for duty's sake." The hampering of this physical disability, increased by the attack of mortal disease years before he died, was a sore sorrow to such a man. It drew to him the tenderness of everybody, who hastened to help him, and were all overpaid by the gracious gratitude of his smile and his words. But even it was as nothing to the sorrows that broke his large and loving heart in its tenderest place, his great love for his children-One after another, till only two are left, they were taken from him. Those knew, who knew him, how the iron entered, rusted with tears and roughened with the added pang of suddenness, into his very soul. And yet he came out from these deserts, into which "the Lord took him aside," with the spring gone, and the blush of full happiness taken away, strong in the true and tender human love that was left to him and is so desolate now; stronger in the divine Love, on which he leaned; brave, gentle, faithful, constant to duty, piteously patient, and with a heroism, not of endurance only, nor of resignation, but of ready acceptance of the will of God, that was simply and supremely sublime. "Patient in tribulation," the tribulation that ground out and cast away the chaff and left the wheat, which God has garnered now--"patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer," she writes me, who knew him best, "might be most fitly graven in granite to tell the story of his life."

Partly, perhaps, because of the blinding light, but partly because men are busy through the day, and the sun busier still about its gracious task of shedding light and warmth upon the world, it comes to pass that few take much note of the sun itself in the broad day-time, however they may rejoice in its sweet influences. But when the evening falls, and the sun sinks behind the little horizon of our narrow sight to shine on other worlds; and when the poor trifles that we call our work are over, we have time to look and wonder at the sunsets. And some are dull and leaden, like a life that dies out in blank despair. And some are lowering and stormy, like the struggle of a penitent for rest. And some are hidden behind clouds, like the sad ends of men who "die and leave no sign." And some are merely yellow glares of shadeless light, fading unnoticed into gray, as common lives sink insignificantly out of sight. But the gorgeous and the glorious sunsets that live in memory and defy the artist's highest skill to catch on canvas--the gorgeous and the glorious sunsets are those which gathered clouds break loose from, that they may borrow of their glowing colors to make the dying hour sublime. And these clouds that make the sunset beautiful, these clouds transfigured with robes and gems of splendor, are the types and tokens of God's use at the last, and of God's lesson at the last, of the tears and toils and trials through which His children pass in their allotted place of duty; till the time comes when they shall reflect in lustrous brilliancy the lives, and transfigure into foretastes of reward the deaths, of "His sons brought unto glory," as was the Captain of their salvation, being "made perfect through sufferings." So I have seen the life of my dear brother, in the composure of the calmest courage, work out its duty through the clouds that gathered about him when the noon had passed, irradiating every one, till, when the evening time drew on, sorrows and sufferings passed from him, made beautiful by the clear faith and the heroic patience of his character, and lingering in celestial colors as the Nimbus, "the bright cloud, about his sainted head."

It cannot be forgotten that we are commemorating here not merely the ending of a single life, not only the death of an individual bishop, but the close of a period in the ecclesiastical history of this State. It is part of the honor of my brother's life that God so blessed his abundant labors as to make needful the doubling of the bishops in the diocese.

But while we pray God to speed the Bishop of the new New Jersey and the new Bishop of Northern New Jersey that is to be, we remember, too, that the episcopal succession of the undivided diocese is ended now beyond the danger of dimming or depreciation. The last Bishop of the old New Jersey that my father loved is dead; the last who will ever make dear old Burlington, beyond all other cities in America, a cathedral town; the last who ever will dignify its episcopate with the glory of the academic interest and influence of the schools; the last to whom the simple spaciousness of Riverside will furnish the fitting place for a bishop to live in and to die in; the last to fill the throne that made dear old St. Mary's, to all practical intents, a cathedral; the last to be borne of right to rest in sweet St. Mary's church-yard, twice a shrine now for pilgrim feet, and hearts that stay at home, to wander to. The last Bishop of the old New Jersey is dead; dead in Riverside; sleeping near my father's grave; his only successor: "Oh, Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, I thank thee for the good examples of these thy servants who have finished their course in faith and do now rest from their labors."

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