Ernest Lewis Hazelius: A Biographical Sketch

“Twenty-three years have passed since I first met and beheld the lively, intelligent and pleasant countenance of this well beloved friend. Gettysburg was made the more dear to me on his account. As a poor student, I often found comfort in his presence, because he knew how to sympathize with me. More than once was my heart made glad, when he met me with a fatherly smile, asking me, ‘how are you getting along, young friend? Have you means wherewith to live?’ If I answered,‘No!’ he said, ‘I’ll see to it.’ The impressions I received from his conversation and godly walk, have ever been of much use to me, and will never be forgotten.”

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Ernest Lewis Hazelius, D. D.

Quidquid ex eo amavimus, quidquid mirati sumus, manet mansurumque est in animis hominum, in ceternitate temporum, fama rerum.

The subject of our present narrative is justly entitled to a place in our series of departed worthies. It would be a violation of Christian gratitude, an act of injustice to the church itself, if the excellencies of our revered friend, who was not only loved, but honored, whilst he lived, and who, for more than fifty years was engaged in preparing young men for the sacred office, received from us no notice. The church has produced few men more deserving of its entire veneration and love, than the man whose life and services this sketch is designed to commemorate. His name, embalmed in many hearts, will always be pronounced with reverence and gratitude. The precious memory of his virtues and his labors, is the precious legacy the grace of God permitted him to leave for the comfort of the church, and the edification of believers. Such an example is as a sacred halo that lingers after “the sunset of the tomb,” to shed light and blessing on the bereaved community. It should ever live, and be held up to succeeding generations for imitation.

Early Life

Ernest Lewis Hazelius was the son of Eric and Christiana Hazelius, and was born September 6th, 1777, in Neusalz,in the province of Silesia, Prussia. He was descended, on the paternal side, from a long and honored line of Lutheran ministers,

  …atavis edite regibus
O et presidium ei dulce decus meum,

extending as far back as the days of the Swedish king, Gustavus Vasa, through whose pious exertions the Reformed religion was established in Sweden, early in the history of the Reformation. To this enlightened and Christian prince, one of his ancestors served as Chaplain. Hence, though a native of Germany himself, the family from which Dr. Hazelius sprang, belonged to Sweden. His father was designed, and had been educated at the University of Upsal for the ministry, but his plans were changed, and his attention subsequently turned to secular pursuits, as he thought he had no divine call to the work. He therefore gave up the profession to a younger brother, for in some parts of Sweden, the ministerial office is hereditary, and descends from father to son. Taking his departure from the land of his birth, and traveling for a season, he finally determined to settle in Neusalz, having in the meantime united with the Moravian church, and married a pious woman of that society.

Young Ernest was faithfully instructed under the direction of these pious parents, who, whilst they were careful to cultivate his intellect, were still more solicitous to lead him to the Savior, as the sinner’s only hope. He was early imbued with the elements of that consistent and ardent Christian piety, which so strongly marked and beautifully adorned his subsequent life. The permanent characteristics of his riper years were, at tin’s time, eminently conspicuous. The sequel shows that, in the further development and progress of his character, the classical rule was not disregarded:

  servetur ad imum,
Qualis ab incepto processerit et sibi constet.

Of both his parents he was deprived before he had reached his sixteenth year, yet the impression of parental example, and the influence of early religious instruction, were never forgotten. These were the instruments, through the divinely renovating power of the Spirit, for his recovery front sin, and his return to God.

As we have, from time to time, proceeded in our researches, how often have we been reminded of the connection between early religious training and mature piety! The memory of parental instruction has again and again been the means of reclaiming the wandering prodigal, and of bringing him back to his father’s house, often after the lips that uttered the instruction have mouldered into dust. You can scarcely select the biography of a distinguished and useful man in the church, which is not an illustration of the efficiency of faithful parental effort. As the stone hurled from the sling, takes its direction, and finds its resting place in obedience to the hand that wields it, so the child goes forward and finds its grave in peace or sorrow, according to the impulse, which it received at the fireside. Let, therefore, the ark of God be brought into the house, and it will be blessed as that of Obed-edom, and:

…the voice of rejoicing and salvation shall be in the tabernacles of the righteous.”

“Those that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God; they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing, to show that the Lord is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

How true it is,

“Our most important are our earlier years!”

Experience and revelation teach us, that early piety and a steady, earnest, faithful devotion to the duties of the position in which, in the providence of God, we ate called to labor, invariably lead to a useful life, and secure peace of mind for us in old age. The habits we form in youth accompany us and cling to us in mature life. The impressions we then receive become strong and fixed. They cannot be shaken off. They are found chiseled into the enduring character, as with the point of a diamond upon the rock forever.

“The childhood shows the man,
 As morning shows the day.”

A Formative Incident

It is proper here to introduce an incident, the disposal of which, no doubt, exerted a controlling influence on the future destiny of the subject of our sketch. It seems that his mother, who was a native of Stetten, attended the same school, and was on terms of great intimacy with the Princess Sophia of Anhalt Zerbst, better known to the world as the Empress Catharine II of Russia. One of the few good traits in the character of this princess was, that in the days of her greatest elevation, she never forgot her former friends. She granted to the brother of her early friend, Captain Brahts, the privilege of bringing goods, free of duty, to St. Petersburg, and whenever his vessel was in port, invited him to dine with her, always evincing the deepest interest, and making the most minute inquiries in reference to the companion of her school days. When she heard of the birth of young Ernest, she wrote to the mother for the boy, proposing to adopt him as her own son, and promising to cherish him with the most affectionate care. His pious parents scarcely knew what to reply, but they finally concluded not to give the Empress an immediate answer, but to wait until the child was old enough to decide for himself. Several letters were, in the meantime, interchanged, but there was nothing decisive, until Ernest had reached his twelfth year, when another communication came from the Empress, demanding a prompt reply to the question which had long been the subject of interest and correspondence.

“Dear Christiana,” (writes Catharine,) “give your consent, and I will be a mother to your boy.”

The question was now referred to young Ernest for final decision, his parents believing that God would grant unto him, in his choice, “that wisdom which is profitable to direct.” The lad had, from his earliest childhood, given evidence of uncommon piety, and had determined, if he lived, to become a preacher of the Gospel. His predilection for this vocation was probably, in some measure, influenced by the fact that his paternal ancestors, for several generations, had been ministers of the Gospel, but a circumstance that occurred, when he was only five years old, made an abiding impression upon his mind, and seemed, under the direction of an overruling providence, the turning point in his life. His parents, with him, made a visit to Herrnhut, and whilst there, Bishop Muller, a venerable minister of the Moravian church, after having catechized the child, took him into his arms, blessed him, and solemnly devoted him to the ministry of reconciliation.

The occasion of that impressive scene, and the words of the dedication service, in after days rang through his ears, nor were they ever forgotten; for when he was an old man, he would still repeat them in the language they were first uttered. His desire for the sacred office was strengthened from year to year, and whenever the subject of Russia was mentioned in his presence, he manifested the greatest aversion to the proposition of the Empress. He felt that his was a higher calling, that his time and services were required for a more important work, that it was his duty to labor as an ambassador of Christ, in extending the interests of his kingdom. When, therefore, the Empress wrote for a final answer, and the decision was placed in his hands, the youth had no hesitation in giving a peremptory negative to the application. Often in after life did he refer to this incident in his life, and in his decision recognize the providence of God, which watches with parental care over all our ways. “Had I accepted Catharine’s offer,” he would say, “how different would have been my life — how changed my lot! Who knows but perhaps I might even now be languishing in the mines of Siberia, as many of the former favorites of the Czars have been.”

Studies

The studies of young Hazelius were commenced at Neusalz, his native place. They were for some time continued at Kleinwelke, when he entered the institution at Barby, at which his academic course was completed. In the thorough classical and scientific training he received, he laid the foundation of his future usefulness, and of that success which followed his future career as an instructor. His theological studies he pursued at Niesky, a Moravian institution, under the superintendence of Bishop Anders, the senior Bishop of the Conference, after which he was furnished by the authorities of the church with a license as a candidate to preach the Gospel. In the year 1800 he received an appointment as classical teacher for the Moravian Seminary at Nazareth, Pennsylvania. This he accepted, notwithstanding the opposition of his friends, and the fact that many eligible situations had been offered him in his native land.

Emigration To America

Thus, in the providence of God, he was brought to this country, which became the scene of his labors for more than half a century. His attention, in this new field, was first directed to the acquisition of the English language. The same application and perseverance, which distinguished all his efforts, were brought to bear upon this undertaking, and not without the most successful results. He soon secured such an acquaintance with the language, as was necessary to imparting instruction in the institution. In this situation he continued to labor for eight years with great efficiency, having, during the period, been appointed head teacher and professor of Theology in the Theological department. It is a little remarkable, that the first three divinity students he had at Nazareth, became Bishops in the Moravian church.

Left The Moravians For The Lutheran Church

Differing, however, from his brethren, in their views of church government and discipline, and influenced also by other considerations, Dr. Hazelius resolved to sever his connection with the Seminary, and to change his ecclesiastical relations. He felt an earnest desire to unite with the Lutheran church, in whose service his fathers had, for so many years, lived and labored. Whilst he had the highest respect for the church which his father had adopted, and under whose influences he had been reared, yet he cherished a still greater veneration for that church, at whose altars his ancestors for centuries had worshipped. Without any disparagement, therefore, to his Moravian brethren, who adhered to the same symbol of Christian faith, and to whose interests he was strongly attached, he regarded it his duty to return to the church endeared to him by so many hallowed associations, and to labor, under her auspices, for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. He left them in peace, bearing with him the highest testimonials of his abilities as a teacher, and his character as a man and a Christian.

In the spring of 1809 he returned to Philadelphia, and for a season, gave instruction in a private classical school. His duties here he discharged with his accustomed energy and success. But he did not occupy the position very long. Having been, in the fall of the year, invited to take charge of the united congregations in New Germantown, German Valley and Spruce Run, Hunterdon county, in the state of New Jersey, he accepted the call. As he had previously preached only as a licentiate, he was ordained by the ministerium of New York, and then entered upon his pastoral duties. In this situation he also faithfully labored, and with the blessing of God resting upon him. He was never found wanting in the performance of any of his obligations. The labors of the Sabbath required him to go from seven to fifteen miles to his distant congregations, in one of which he preached every two weeks, and the other once in four weeks. When he resigned his charge, he left the congregations all in a flourishing condition. At New Germantown, the place in which he lived, he also conducted a classical Academy, from which some idea may be formed of the extent of labor he performed, and the amount of industry he possessed.

Professor of Christian Theology, Hartwick

In 1815 the institution at Hartwick went into operation, and Dr. Hazelius was selected by the Vice-Executor of Mr. Hartwig’s will as Professor of Christian theology, and Principal of the classical department. The appointment was confirmed by the New York ministerium, and the Professor immediately entered upon the work assigned him. This institution he served for fifteen years, discharging with great fidelity and ability his various and arduous duties. It was owing to his active exertions that the Seminary was established on a solid basis, and obtained a celebrity as deserved as it was extended. In addition to his labors as an instructor, he was also compelled to perform regular pulpit service, and to act as Pastor of the village congregation. During his residence here he was associated with the various interests of education and religion, and labored in every way to promote the welfare of Zion. His name is very dear to the churches and synods connected with Hartwick Seminary, and his memory is cherished with much affection b’ the brethren, that were educated here under his direction.

Professor At Lutheran Theological Seminary At Gettysburg

In the spring of 1830 having been elected Professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature, and of the German language in our Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, he decided to accept the appointment, as he supposed the position would furnish him a field of increased usefulness in the church. The following September he was solemnly inducted into office in the presence of the Board of Directors and a large assembly of the people, J. D. Kurtz, D. D. of Baltimore delivering the charge to the Professor, who after having read and signed the declaration required, pronounced an interesting discourse on the history of our church in this country. His connection with this Seminary was, however, very brief. He resigned his chair in 1833, very much to the regret of the Directors, who in their minutes testify to the zeal and industry, with which he had discharged the duties of his office.

The Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina

The Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina had been deprived by death of the services of Professor Schwartz, who had excited the most promising expectations in reference to his future usefulness to our churches in the south, and in their bereavement the guardians of this infant institution anxiously turned their eyes to Professor Hazelius as particularly fitted, by his varied qualification and experience in teaching, for the station. When the unanimous wishes of the Board were communicated to him, and the wants of the Seminary so urgently pressed upon his attention, he could not resist the earnest appeal, although the acceptance of the appointment involved some pecuniary sacrifice. Regarding it as a call of Providence, he wrote to the brethren, that he would come. As soon as he could make his arrangements, he started for his new field of labor, and on the 1st day of January, 1834, entered upon the duties of his office.

In the summer of 1842 he revisited his native land, and the scenes of his youth. He met with a most cordial reception and was flattered and caressed by the noble and the great. The strongest influences were exerted and the most tempting offers made to induce him to return with his family to the country of his birth, but without effect. The king of Prussia offered him a lucrative situation, but the land of his adoption and his little Seminary in the backwoods of Carolina had become too dear to him to relinquish for any other considerations.

In this position he spent the remainder of his active and useful life, watching over the interest of the institution, with the most tender solicitude, and devoting to it his best energies and influence. Hopeful and zealous, patient and persevering, he never despaired or relaxed his efforts for the elevation and advancement of the school confided to his care.

The Seminary was firmly established. It continued to flourish and its usefulness was increased. Its facilities for instruction were extended, so as to meet the want and interest of the church. The influence of the Professor was salutary, not only in fitting young men for the ministry of reconciliation, but in building up and strengthening our southern Zion, in introducing wholesome discipline into the churches, and in laboring faithfully and efficiently to advance the welfare of the people. During a period of nineteen years his connection with this institution continued. And finally, when, at his own request and in consequence of increased age and growing infirmities, his resignation was accepted and another appointed to take his place, he did not cease, till the last, to divide with his successor the duties of instruction in the institutionIt was only four days preceding his death that exhausted nature compelled him to bid a final adieu to the students in the capacity of their instructor.

Scarcely had he quitted his post when the summons came to him to relinquish these earthly scenes and this tenement of clay, in which he had been a lodger beyond the ordinary term of human life. He died on Sabbath, February 20th, 1853, in the 76th year of his age, after a few days’ illness. He had taken cold, most probably from change in the weather, which produced some derangement in his system, and his constitution being feeble and frail, death was the result. He had a kind of presentiment before he was taken sick, that he would shortly die, and for a year or more he endeavored to prepare his family for his departure by frequent allusions to the subject. He tranquilly descended to the grave, without a fear, full of thankfulness for God’s mercies, and gladdened by the prospects of a glorious immortality. There was no doubt in his death. He had prepared to meet his God, and when his strength failed, God was the strength of his heart and his portion for ever.

“I saw him in his last moments,” says Dr. Eichelberger, “and never knew I a Christian to die more calmly and sweetly.” He peacefully departed from his labors on earth to the enjoyment of his reward on high.’ Those who marked the perfect man and beheld the upright, saw that the end of that man was peace.

  “Eye hath not seen,
Ear hath not heard, nor can the human heart
Those joys conceive, which blissful heritage
Christ for his faithful votaries prepares.”

His remains repose on the grounds intermediate between the dwelling he occupied, and the lecture room of the Seminary, a spot endeared to him in life, and rendered now more precious to his friends, by the associations which still cluster around it. His funeral was attended by a large concourse of people, who came to show their affection for the deceased, and their grief for the loss they had sustained. From distant points the young and the aged, the learned and the honored came to the house of mourning, all feeling themselves personally bereaved, and knowing “that a prince and a great man had fallen in Israel.” An appropriate discourse was delivered by Rev. Dr. Bachman, who had been on terms of the most intimate intercourse with him for upwards of forty years, from the words:

“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.”

Rev. Dr. Eichelberger, Professor Berly, and Rev. E. B. Hort were also present, and participated in the solemnities of the occasion.

Thus passed away from among us, one of our most useful, purest and best men, who had labored long and faithfully in the service of the church. Always in his place, and ready for every good work, he was to us, by his example, his counsel and his prayers, an inestimable blessing. Whether we consider him in his public or private life, as a minister of the Gospel, or an instructor of the young, in his official or social relations, his was a character of rare worth. He was a great and a good man, endowed with noble qualities of heart and mind.

Scholar and Man of Letters

As a scholar and a man of letters, Dr. Hazelius occupied a high rank. He received the Doctorate simultaneously from Union, and Columbia College, N. Y., in the year 1824. He was invited to a Professorship in Lafayette College, Easton, Pa., and also at Princeton, in the College of New Jersey. His attainments in literature were varied and extensive. He was intimately acquainted with the Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as with several modern languages. He was very familiar with ecclesiastical and general history, and had given considerable attention to exegetical studies. As a theologian, he was learned and sound, as a preacher, respectable and faithful, solid rather than showy, anxious to instruct his hearers, rather than to gratify their fancy. As an author he accomplished much, considering his numerous engagements and multiplied labors. Some of the works he prepared for the press, he translated from the German, others were original; some of them have been already published, others are yet in manuscript. The following list embraces those that have been published: Life of Luther; Life of Stilling; Augsburg Confession with annotations; Materials for Catechization on passages of Scripture; Church History; History of the Lutheran Church in America. He was also for some time Editor of the Evangelische Magazine, published at Gettysburg, Pa.

His Theology

In his theological views, Dr. Hazelius was very evangelical, yet his doctrinal position was liberal. The Augsburg Confession he adopted as his creed, but did not give an ex animo subscription to all its articles. He was disposed to be very tolerant towards those who differed from him on those points which are not considered fundamental. His motto was, In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. In his annotations on the Augsburg Confession, he uses the following language:

“If, therefore, any departure from the literal sense of the Augsburg Confession, amounts to a dereliction of Lutheranism, it is certainly a source of congratulation and joy to those who have thus departed, that Luther and Melanchthon have set them the example. Those heroes of the Reformation never intended that Christians should follow them in all respects, for even they differed among themselves, in regard to some opinions concerning the Lord’s Supper; but they demanded that Christians should prayerfully study the Bible, and consider the authority of that book as paramount to all human wisdom and philosophy. On this broad basis of Protestantism, the American Lutheran churches are still standing; charitable and liberal in matters of minor importance, they are willing to aid in leveling down the partition walls, which are now separating protestant from protestant. But we firmly embrace the word of God as contained in the Scriptures, as his divine power to the salvation of every one who believeth.”

Again he says:

“If then, according to the testimony of the reformers, their aim in composing this Confession, rather was to show what doctrines they could conscientiously profess, in common with the Papists, and wherein they could not agree with them, than that every word should be considered by posterity as an undeviating rule of faith, we ought not to give this Confession a greater importance in our day than the heroes of the Reformation claimed for their performance. The main principle of the Reformation is not a slavish adherence to every sentiment of those great and learned men, who had to shape their course according to circumstances beyond their control, but it is that the Bible is paramount to every human authority, and the only rule of faith and practice to the Christian.”

After expressing his views on the Lord’s Supper, which differ in no material point from those entertained by the other protestant churches on the subject, he adds:

“If any of our brethren should entertain sentiments apparently more conformable to the views and language held forth in the Augsburg Confession, and other writings of the first reformers, we do not desire or wish to disturb him in that opinion, inasmuch as we know that the main point in this, as well as in every other religious observance, is the heart; if this is hungry and thirsty after the blessing which Christ will impart to the believer in his sacrament, he may rest assured that blessing shall be his, whatever may be his individual view of the mode of communion with Christ at his table. For however much individual professors or churches may differ as regards minor and non-essential features in the Christian system, all agree in professing one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Around the table of their common Lord and Master, they may meet in the hallowed exercise of Christian love. At the table of Christ they may forget their minor differences, and commune in sweet and endearing fellowship with each other and the Lord.”

Christian Charity

In his intercourse with Christians of other denominations, he always evinced a most catholic spirit, never inclined to contend for his own Shibboleth, or to unchurch those who differed from him in their religious belief. Sect could not confine the charity of his feeling, or restrain the kindness of bis heart. No church could claim him as entirely its own. He belonged to humanity and to the world, because he belonged to God and to Christ.

As An Instructor

To the office of instructor Dr. Hazelius brought uncommon qualifications. His abilities in this direction all acknowledged. His pupils, who are scattered through the country, occupying important positions, either as ministers of the Gospel, or of a political or civil character, furnish the same testimony on this subject. Some of our most active and useful clergymen were prepared by him for the Christian ministry. During the thirty-seven years he occupied the place of Professor in our schools of the prophets, the Lutheran church increased tenfold, and he was honored by his Master in contributing a considerable material to this increase. Although his body now sleeps in the silent tomb, the work of bringing lost and ruined men to the cross of Christ, through his instrumentality, will still go forward to the latest period of time, and when the last trump shall sound to wake the sleeping dead, eternity alone shall reveal the great and everlasting good.

He loved the work in which he was engaged. His devotion to teaching often rose to enthusiasm. Its duties to him were never irksome, or hung heavily upon his hands. In the young he took a deep and tender interest, and did all that lay in his power to assist them. He had the faculty of adapting himself to their feelings, and of entering into their frame of mind. Familiar and affectionate as a father, he secured their confidence, inspired them with something of his own earnestness, while he commanded their warm regard by his magnanimity, and held their sympathies by the deep sincerity of his religious feeling. He swayed equally with the law of kindness and the law of firmness, his tenderness was corrective, his rebukes were healing, his very gentleness was the charm of his power.

“His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile
 Played on his lips; and in his speech was heard
 Paternal sweetness, dignity and love.
 The occupation dearest to his heart
 Was to encourage goodness.”

We believe that all who ever sustained to him the relation of pupil, without a single exception, were most devoted in their attachment to him. Writes one, on hearing the intelligence of his death:1

“Twenty-three years have passed since I first met and beheld the lively, intelligent and pleasant countenance of this well beloved friend. Gettysburg was made the more dear to me on his account. As a poor student, I often found comfort in his presence, because he knew how to sympathize with me. More than once was my heart made glad, when he met me with a fatherly smile, asking me, ‘how are you getting along, young friend? Have you means wherewith to live?’ If I answered,‘No!’ he said, ‘I’ll see to it.’ The impressions I received from his conversation and godly walk, have ever been of much use to me, and will never be forgotten.”

Says another, who was also his pupil: 2

“He still lives in the grateful recollection of us all — in the multiplied blessings which survive him, and in works which, following him through time, will greet him in eternity. We cannot — we would not — forget him as long as we live: in our best thoughts, in our noblest sentiments, in our holiest emotions he lives in us. His eulogy is engraven in monuments more enduring than brass or precious stones; in human influences as indestructible as eternity — as glorious as immortal hopes.”

Indefatigable Industry

Dr. Hazelius was a man of indefatigable industry, and performed with great thoroughness, anything he undertook. His active mind was never at rest. It was always devising and executing some useful scheme. While he was yet at Hartwick, he employed his summer vacations in visiting congregations, unsupplied with the ministrations of the word, in different parts of the State, and performing the labors of a home missionary. It is supposed that in this way he preserved some of our congregations from extinction, by his faithful labors. He never shrank from any effort, or became weary in well doing.

There was something very beautiful and attractive in Dr. Hazelius’ private character. His heart was under the dominion of an expansive and disinterested benevolence. It was as warm and as kind as a child’s, and as true as steel. He was an Israelite in whom there was no guile. Every thought he uttered came from his inmost soul. His countenance was an index of his heart, open, generous and pure. He was one of the last men to be guilty of disingenuous cunning, or dishonorable dealing in any way. He had no talent for intrigue, no aptitude for reaching his ends by circuitous or subterranean processes of any kind. He never smiled on what he disapproved, or connived at what he knew to be wrong. In real kindness of nature, and depth and tenderness of feeling, no one surpassed him. He was a man of sterling integrity, of striking simplicity, which never allowed any trace of superior dignity to appear, of unaffected, cheerful piety, honest in all his purposes, and fixed and steady in their execution. His whole deportment was so bland and condescending, that even the most timid and diffident felt no embarrassment in his presence. When he mingled in society, instead of being gloomy, silent or reserved, he was uniformly social, affable and communicative. All approached him with the freedom and affection of children. His conversation was pleasing and instructive, and few ever spent an hour with him, who were not delighted and edified. In all the relations of life he was honored, cherished, beloved, esteemed and admired.

“Oh! who can speak his praise. Great humble man.”

His sympathy with those in trouble and distress, with the suffering, the sick, the bereaved, the tried and the desponding, was most profound and active. His sheltering arms were spread wide with a generous welcome, to overshadow all who needed refuge. In his visits of mercy, ministering to the body as well as the soul, he was unremitting and faithful. He had a kind word, fitly spoken, for every one with whom he came in contact, an encouraging or consoling remark to guide and strengthen the child of affliction or sorrow:

“It is a little thing to speak a phrase
 Of common comfort, which by daily use
 Hath almost lost its sense; but on the ear
 Of him who thought to die unmourned, ‘twill fall
 Like richest music.”

We do not say that the subject of our sketch was faultless. He himself laid no claim to exemption from the frailties of human nature. He had his infirmities —

“But e’en his failings leaned to virtue’s side.”

His was no negative character. “He had some prejudices, and was somewhat hasty at times,” says Dr. Miller, “which might make, on such as did not know him intimately, an unfavorable impression, but to his friends it was a mere foil to his noble qualities of heart and mind.” None doubted the sincerity of his Christian principle. His piety was seen in all that he did, in all that he said. No trumpet, no phylactery was necessary to announce its presence. His suavity, his cheerfulness, his overflowing kindness, the whole tone of his conversation and conduct, betrayed the identity of his soul with heaven, and produced the conviction, “Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.”

In the contemplation of his life, in its great usefulness, its completeness, and the crowning glory of its purity in obedience to God, which, through faith, terminated so calmly, we feel that with him all is well, and as the voice, to which friends so often listened, is hushed in death, we can cordially exclaim:

“Why weep ye then for him, who having won
 The bound of man’s appointed years, at last
 Life’s blessings all enjoyed — life’s labors done,
 Serenely to his final rest has passed;
 While the soft memory of his virtues yet
 Lingers like twilight hues, when the bright sun is set.”

Reminiscences of Lutheran Ministers Series

"Among our earlier ministers, the fathers of the American Lutheran Church… we can point to many bright names, which Christians of any denomination might be proud to recognize as their own… "Men distinguished for high talent, great learning, devoted piety, ardent zeal and noble spirit, who were appreciated by their contemporaries, and labored assiduously for the elevation of the race, and the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom." – Charles Krauth

To request a printable copy [PDF] send an email to: editor@lutheranlibrary.org with the title of this post.

Lutheran Biographical Sketch

Publication Information

  • Author: “Krauth, Charles P.”, Editor.
  • Journal: “The Evangelical Review.”
  • Originally Published: 1856.
  • Lutheran Library Edition: 2019
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0

  1. Rev. S. Ritz, of Tipton, Iowa. ^
  2. J. D. Husbands, Esq., of Buffalo, N. Y. ^

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