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Preface 5 

Biographical Note 7 

Address by Professor C. C. Everett, D.D 9 

Address by Rev. Augustus Woodbury 16 

Address by Rev. A. P. Peabody 19 

Address by Professor Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D. ... 28 
Memorial Tributes : 

From Academical and LiTfiRARY Bodies 61 

From Personal Sources 64 

List of his Publications 69 

Correction 74 


By a vote of the officers and Business Committee of the Alumni 
Association of the Harvard Divinity School, it was resolved that, 
in place of the usual address at the annual meeting of the Associa- 
tion, a service should be held in memory of the late Ezra Abbot, 
Bussey Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation 
in the Divinity School of Harvard University. The service thus 
arranged was held June 24, 1884, in the First Parish Church, 
Cambridge. It consisted of devotional exercises, an introductory 
address by the President of the Alumni Association, the Rev. 
Augustus Woodbury, and addresses by the Rev. A. P. Peabody, 
D.D., and Professor J. Henry Thayer, D.D. At the conclusion 
of the service, it was unanimously voted by the Alumni that the 
Faculty be requested to print the memorial addresses delivered 
on that day. By a subsequent vote of the officers of the Associa- 
tion, Professor C. C. Everett, D.D., was requested to permit his 
address, delivered at the funeral of Dr. Abbot, to be printed from 
the phonographic report. 

In accordance with these resolutions of the Alumni, the ad- 
dresses mentioned have been gathered and arranged in the order 
of their delivery. Owing to lack of time. Professor Thayer was 
obliged to omit portions of his essay at the memorial service. It 
is here printed in full. A list of Dr. Abbot's publications, so far 
as they are known, has been added, with various resolutions of 
academic and literary bodies and a few tributes from personal 
sources. The heliotype, made from a faithful likeness by William 
Aitken of Boston, will be to many a grateful feature of the book. 

This sheaf of kindly tributes is offered by the Alumni, through 
the co-operation of the Faculty, as a befitting memorial of a rare 

and much loved teacher. It is gratifying to know that — by the 
kindness of Mrs. Abbot, who has generously given the large and 
valuable library of her husband to the Divinity School — future 
students are to enjoy another memorial of Dr. Abbot which shall 
be a perpetual reminder of the ties which bound him to that 
institution. In recording this ample and welcome gift, the Secre- 
tary feels that he does not transcend the duties of his office in 
expressing the gratitude with which the Alumni will receive the 


Secretary of the Alumni Association 

of the Harvard Divinity School. 

Ezra Abbot, eldest child of Ezra and Phebe (Abbot) 
Abbot, was born in Jackson, Waldo County, Maine, April 
28, 1 8 19; was fitted for college at Phillips (Exeter) Acad- 
emy; graduated at Bowdoin College in 1840, and received 
its degree of A.M. in 1843 5 removed to Cambridge in 1847 ; 
after some time spent in teaching, in pursuing private stud- 
ies, and in rendering service in the libraries of Harvard 
College and the Boston Athenaeum, was appointed in 1856 
Assistant Librarian of Harvard College; and in 1872 
Bussey Professor of New Testament Criticism and Inter- 
pretation in the Divinity School. 

He was elected in 1852 a member of the American Ori- 
ental Society, and from 1853 its Recording Secretary; in 
1 86 1, a member of the American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences; in 1871 appointed University Lecturer on the 
Textual Criticism of the New Testament ; in the same 
year chosen a member of the New Testament' Company 
for the revision of our English Bible. He was also a 
member of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 
and of the Harvard Biblical Club. 

In 1 86 1, he received from Harvard College the honorary 
degree of A.M. ; in 1869 that of LL.D. from Yale College, 
and the same from Bowdoin College in 1878 ; in 1872 from 
Harvard College that of S.T.D. ; and he was tendered the 
degree of D.D. by the University of Edinburgh at its recent 
tercentenary, but passed away before the date of the cele- 

He died at his home in Cambridge at 5.30 P.M., on 
Friday, March 21, 1884. 




We may realize the fact of our bereavement, as we gather 
to speak and hear words of eulogy of one whose loving 
presence would have made such words impossible. I shall 
strive to moderate my words by the thought of his shrink- 
ing modesty, and, so far as possible, make them such as 
would not offend his ear. 

It is pleasant to go back to the boyhood of Ezra Abbot, 
and to find even in his childhood the elements which united 
to make up his life. He was born in a thinly populated 
farming town in Maine. His mother died while he was still 
a child : his father lived a retired life, devoted to his books. 
The house stood in a wood a little way from the travelled 
street. Here, he learned that love of nature which followed 
him through life. From his father, doubtless, he got his 
love of retirement and books ; and it may be that his mother 
left him that light gayety of spirit which marked him as a 
child, his buoyant love of the things about him, of wander- 
ing in the forest in the pursuit of the natural beauty. 

As he grew in years, his love of study and his success in 
it became more marked. At Bowdoin College, where he 
graduated, he took an honorable position as a scholar. 
After that, he taught school in Maine. It is a striking 
coincidence that his partner in this labor died a few weeks 
ago. This work of teaching he most heartily enjoyed. 
Shrinking and retiring by nature, he was always fond of 

♦Delivered in Appleton Chapel, Cambridge, at the funeral of Dr. Abbot, March 25, 1884, and 
phonographically reported. 


children ; and, here, he had children that were eager to learn, 
and returned his love with an answering love. 

It was about this time that Andrews Norton was publish- 
ing those works, which marked an epoch in the history of 
Biblical and theological science in our country. Ezra Abbot 
was, as I have said, shrinking and retiring ; but he was 
always bold in the matter of truth. He wrote a letter to 
Andrews Norton, expressing his delight in his work on the 
Trinity, stating that he had formed- an index of it, and, if 
tradition is correct, taking issue with Prof. Norton in some 
point of interpretation. This tradition I have not been able 
to verify, but I think it has the likelihood of probability. 
Andrews Norton was delighted with the letter, and invited 
the writer to visit him ; and this was the introduction of 
Ezra Abbot to Cambridge. 

He first took the High School in Cambridgeport. This 
was probably the only work in his life that was distasteful 
to him, but he sweetened it by congenial labor. He made a 
catalogue of the library of the school, and the work was so 
perfectly done that it opened to him a career in what was for 
a time the occupation of his life. It procured for him an in- 
troduction to the force of the library of the Boston Athenaeum. 
Afterward, he was transferred to an honorable position in 
the Harvard College Library. He possessed many qualities 
that fitted him for the life of a librarian, — his patience, his 
industry, his rapidity of work, his power of classification and 
arrangement, his tenacity of memory. If his ideal was so 
high as to be unapproachable, it was nevertheless an ideal- 
which brought inspiration ; and all the work done toward 
reaching that ideal was useful work. It was a delight to him 
that his work was among books, but still it was not the most 
congenial work. His leisure was occupied in the study of 
the New Testament, which, it seems, he began in his early 
youth. I speak of his leisure : this leisure was largely a 
mosaic made up of moments which others would have thrown 
away, but it was nevertheless leisure sufficient for his work. 

But it was doubtless with joy that he found himself trans- 
ferred to a labor more congenial, when he accepted the chair 


of the newly founded professorship of the study of the New 
Testament in the Divinity School of Harvard University. 
Here, the great passion of his life found free scope. When 
I think of his devotion to the study of the New Testament, 
it reminds me of some movement in a grand musical com- 
position that at first is faint and fitful, but which gains power 
and continuity as the work proceeds, and at last swells out 
and controls the whole. At last, he was able to give himself 
wholly to the study of the New Testament. The work of 
teaching he always enjoyed. He brought to the students 
profound learning that won their confidence, accuracy and 
clearness of teaching that instructed their minds, and a 
beauty of spirit that won their love. 

His work as a teacher occupied but a small portion of his 
time. The rest was given to independent study in his 
chosen line of work. Those familiar with the work of the 
Committee for the revision of the translation of the New 
Testament will know what his service was in that direction. 
It was in these years that he began to devote himself more 
and more to what became the specialty of his life : I mean 
the study of the textual criticism of the New Testament. 
While his power was recognized in all the departments of his 
chosen field, in this he stood, in this country at least, con- 
fessedly without a rival. All American scholars rejoiced in 
the lustre which his scholarship shed upon this country. As 
he had no equal here, it is doubtful if he had a superior any- 

When I consider his life thus devoted more and more 
earnestly, and more and more completely, to the object of 
his choice, I think that we must pronounce it to have been 
a happy one. I know that there are many who feel that 
indeed it might have been a happy life ; but that this life 
among books is happiness that is reserved for those whose 
natures are of such a sort that they can enjoy no other; 
that there are natures, unlike the robust men and women 
about them, who because they have no other pleasures can 
afford to live upon this nutriment. This was not so with 
Ezra Abbot. The world opened to him many inviting paths. 


Although he lived so much alone, there were none more 
fond than he of meeting those who were congenial to him, 
none more fond than he of the sports of life. That buoyant 
gayety that marked his childhood accompanied him to the 
very closing days of his life. I like to think of his eager 
pleasure upon the play-ground, his accuracy of hand and eye, 
equal to that accuracy of mind which served him in his 
study. I like even to recall his playful shout of victory or 

The love of nature which he learned in his forest home 
never left him. No poet watched with more joy than he 
for the first opening of the buds in the spring-time. None 
rejoiced more than he to trace the wild flowers to their 
secret home in the forest. 

His heart was not only a gay and buoyant heart, it was a 
loving heart. No one took more joy in his friends than he. 
It was a great thing for a man to be a friend of Ezra Abbot ; 
for his affection surrounded him with a halo that, coming 
from such a source, one was almost tempted to think might 
be real. 

He was a generous man. It was not so much that he was 
generous with his money, he was generous with that which 
scholars value more than money : he was generous with his 
time. He was generous with that which many scholars 
value more than time : he was generous with his work. It 
mattered very little, apparently, under whose name his work 
appeared or under what form. His enthusiasm was for his 
work ; and, when that was done, he was satisfied. If he had 
any special pride that can be called individual, any personal 
interest in the triumph of his work, I think it was the suc- 
cess and triumph of American scholarship. In that, I think, 
was his great pride rather than in anything that he had done. 

He was devoted to his duty. There was something noble 
in the manner in which he felt his duty ; in the way in 
which his feeble form could force itself to his accustomed 
place in the lecture room, until his own conscience absolved 
him from further work. 

The world, as I have said, opened to him inviting paths 


in many lines. If he chose to devote himself to study, it 
was not because that was his only passion : it was because 
it was an all-absorbing, conquering passion, — not because 
that was all he had, but because that was what he prized 
more than anything else. And so I repeat that we may 
call his life a happy one. I do not mean to unveil the 
sweet and sacred enjoyments of home. I do not forget his 
last years of weakness and suffering; but still, in spite of 
all, I think we may give to his life that crown which I have 
named ; for it was the absorbing, the successful, the com- 
plete surrender of a man to the object of his passion. 

The work to which Mr. Abbot devoted himself was one 
which involved many pleasures of its own. We need hardly 
speak of the joy of accuracy, of the joy which every intel- 
lectual power finds in its fulfilment. There was much in 
the joy of mastery, especially in a nature so modest as his 
own. It was very interesting to see the hesitation with 
which he would speak upon any subject, no matter how 
much he had studied it, if it lay outside of his chosen path ; 
and to see the confidence with which he would speak, in 
spite of any authority, concerning any subject which he had 
made his work. I think we must admit that he liked the 
joy of combat. I think he found a joy in a certain kind of 
controversy. I think he liked to puncture conceit ; but his 
only weapon was facts, with, perhaps, sometimes that deli- 
cate irony which he knew so well how to use. 

He rejoiced in the companionship which his chosen work 
brought him, for it brought him very close to men whose 
whole spirit as well as whose whole occupation were in 
sympathy with his. 

Biblical science, the science of the New Testament, is 
becoming indeed a science. The textual criticism of the 
New Testament is, perhaps, in a special way scientific : even 
the interpretation of the New Testament is approaching 
this position. The result of this is that men do not stand 
within the limits of their special sects, twisting texts of 
Scripture to suit their special needs : they work together 
upon a common foundation and toward a common end. 


Thus, Ezra Abbot rejoiced to find himself working conge- 
nially with men of the widest difference in habits of thought 
and belief. 

He enjoyed success. In spite of his modesty, he enjoyed 
recognition. He enjoyed this recognition of his work, 
when it was from some source whose judgment could be 
accepted as judicial. He cared nothing for any cheaper 
praise ; but, when the " well done " came from one who was 
entitled to pronounce the verdict, then he received it with 
a childlike and honorable joy. 

But his work brought him, indeed, nobler companionship 
than any I have named. It must be remembered that his 
work was the study of the New Testament. This book he 
studied not from without alone. He did not lose himself in 
the technicalities of his theme. He was a man who was 
saturated through and through with the New Testament. 
He knew all about it that any man can know : of its out- 
ward history, of its meaning, and further than that he was 
saturated with its spirit. The more he studied these out- 
ward expressions, this outward history, the more he seemed 
to catch the inner spirit. For a man like him it was a joy 
to live thus in the companionship of his Master, to make it 
the business of his life to understand his words, to draw as 
near as he could into sympathy with him. 

Such was the joy of his life. And yet, as we look upon 
his work, we feel how incomplete it was. Indeed, when we 
consider his spirit such as I have described it, and consider 
his work as he has left it, I think none of us who knew him 
with any intimacy feel as though one had left us who had 
passed the prime of life. He was approaching rapidly three- 
score years and ten ; and yet such was his buoyancy, his 
enthusiasm, such the condition of his labor, that I think we 
all feel as we should toward one who was smitten down in 
the very prime of life. For it seemed as if his materials 
were just being brought into that shape in which they could 
be put to the most effective use, as if moments were coming 
in which the labor of these years would at last reach a 
climax of fruition. Of course, at any moment there would 


be much before him to be completed ; but it seems to those 
who knew him as if it were a young man taken in the very 
midst of the freshness of his youth, before his work was 

There may be some who think that, after all, a busy life 
among men, a stirring life that influences men and women, 
may be the best life. As I think of this life of Ezra Abbot, 
I am reminded of some piece of sculpture that has been 
wrought secretly and quietly until at last it has been com- 
pleted ; and then the screens are cast aside, and it stands 
out, calling forth the exultation and delight of men. So his 
life was wrought out in secret. How few of those living 
very near him knew much about him ! They saw him pass 
and repass, and that was all. But, at last, it is completed. 
It stands forth before the eyes of men. Those who have 
seen him thus for years wonder to see its beauty, wonder at 
the appreciation and applause which comes to it from every 
land in which the New Testament is studied. They find it 
was a life that has borne rich fruits in the results of its labors, 
rich fruits in the recognition that it received. And the 
saintly lesson that may come from such a modest, earnest, 
self-forgetful life as this may outweigh the influence which 
many active, stirring men may add to the life that is about 




Brethren, — We come to this service with feelings both 
of sorrow and gratitude. Love and friendship are bowed 
down by the burden of personal grief. The world of sacred 
letters — that large community of scholars who are engaged 
in searching, with the aid of the Spirit, the deep things of 
God and divine truth — is touched with the sense of a great 
bereavement. The Christian Church — by whatever name 
the different branches of the great vine may be known — 
mourns the death of a devout and reverent disciple, who 
added to his rare wealth of learning the priceless riches 
of the wisdom that is from above. This University, beloved 
by all of us who have been blessed by its fostering care, 
sadly strikes from its roll of living instructors the name of 
one at whose feet the wisest have been glad to sit. 

Yet are we sincerely grateful that God gave to our friend 
and brother those gifts which he used so faithfully for the 
benefit of his fellow-men. Such lives as his make the 
world sweet and clean, and life itself more worth living. 
Those who came into personal companionship with him, as 
friend or pupil or fellow-laborer in the service of the truth, 
must ever cherish his memory with a feeling of thanks- 
giving for their association with this gentle and kindly 
spirit ; while those who only knew him through the enjoy- 
ment of the fruits of his learning must rejoice that he has 
lived to cultivate the wide field in which he was engaged, 
and bring its products to maturity. Truly, an abundant 


harvest, in the growth of which he assiduously and unself- 
ishly labored, glad to know that not himself but others 
were to reap ! 

It is my province this afternoon to say but a few simple 
words of introduction. The associate of Dr. Abbot and 
the successor to his vacant chair in the Divinity School 
will speak at length of the character and services of the 
deceased scholar. An older member of our association, 
with ready sympathy with the studies and pursuits of this 
servant of God, will give voice to the sentiments of his 
brethren in the ministry. It suffices for me to express the 
profound appreciation which you must feel with myself 
of the value of this life which has ceased its activity upon 
earth to renew it in a wider and higher sphere of being. 
I can well remember when Dr. Abbot began his career at 
Cambridge in connection with the University. He seemed 
then fully equipped for any duty, and then as ever after- 
wards he was most generous and helpful to all who asked 
his aid. A faithful student then and always, his ceaseless 
diligence bore its fruits in after years in the unquestioned 
accuracy of the scholar. Let no one cast reproach upon 
American learning in the highest walks of literature and 
life. It would be enough — if we could mention no other 
honored names among us — that Ezra Abbot has lived and 
wrought. We make no narrow claim, for the republic of 
letters has no boundaries. But we would set him forth as 
an illustrious example of that liberal culture of mind and 
heart which an American university can afford, and which, 
in the spirit of American institutions, finds in superior 
attainments the superior opportunity of benefiting man- 
kind. For Dr. Abbot did not sit down to enjoy his gath- 
ered wealth, like a miser gloating over the treasure he had 
hoarded, but freely opened his coffers, and with lavish pro- 
fusion poured out his gifts to all who were in need. The 
value of his contributions to sacred learning is beyond com- 
putation. We may well believe that it will be more and 
more appreciated as successive generations come to know 
how faithfully this modest, thorough, accurate scholar has 
done his work. 


That the spirit of an earnest and sincere faith aided Dr. 
Abbot in his labor we can confidently be assured. For here 
was no mere textual critic, dealing with the letter that 
killeth. The text was the medium and instrument, the 
form and record. But through them breathed the spirit of 
a warm and fervent piety, a devotion to divine truth rarely 
equalled ; and by the light which thus shone from his pure 
and trustful heart the text and the record were illumined as 
though by the divine glory. A tender and unselfish love 
made his home the scene of a serene happiness, and the 
communications of friendship an unalloyed delight. It is not 
for us to intrude upon the privacy of domestic sorrow. But, 
with full and appreciative hearts, we can express our cordial 
sympathy with those who mourn the bereavement of their 
best affections. 

Can such a man die ? Has God no further employment 
for this well-furnished mind and reverent spirit ? To have 
lived thus would be a sufficient crown and satisfaction to 
any one's ambition. But it is yet only the preparation for 
higher duties and serener joys. Still, the spirit searches 
the truth and sounds the deeps. Going forward in the 
heavenly ways, it must still make its eternal progress, 
changing but from glory to glory in its growth to holiness. 
Immortality becomes clearer to our spiritual vision, and 
heaven is nearer and brighter to our hope. For if because 
of him the life below is of greater value, because of him 
also the life above draws us to itself with stronger force. 

" Nor blame I Death, because he bare 
The use of virtue out of earth : 
I know transplanted human worth 
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere." 



On the list of Professors of Sacred Literature our Cata- 
logue bears but three names, the duties of the office having 
been, for more than thirty years after the resignation of the 
second Professor, annexed to those of the Professor of 
Hebrew. The three names are those of Andrews Norton, 
John Gorham Palfrey, and Ezra Abbot. The first two were 
my teachers ; the second, while I was nominally his pastor 
for more than twenty years, was much more truly my pastor, 
to whom I looked as a guide and exemplar in all that apper- 
tains to the Christian life and character. They are both 
well worthy of our commemoration, while we pay our special 
tribute to him whose recent departure from us has made us 
all mourners. 

Andrews Norton was, in the literal and best sense of the 
word, a sceptic, a wary inlooker into whatever claimed to be 
believed, one who sought adequate evidence, and rejected 
whatever lacked credentials. At the side of his risen Lord, 
he would have played the part of Thomas ; but, once con- 
vinced, no power of earth or hell could have shaken his 
loyalty. He was not deficient in sentiment or in creative 
imagination ; but he suffered himself to feel only what he 
first knew, — he built only with materials that he had thor- 
oughly tested. He was a stout iconoclast as to many old 
beliefs, but an earnest seeker of the truth ; and to him the 
truth that he recognized was as the present God. None 
who heard him could ever forget either his bold, unsparing 
excision of whatever bore not the unmistakable stamp of 
genuineness in the sacred record, or the profound reverence 
with which he approached and handled what he regarded as 
divine oracles. I never have been in a more solemn place 
than his lecture-room ; and, if a student uttered so much 


as a flippant word of comment or question, his indignant 
rebuke made it certain that the offence would never be re- 
peated. His argument for the Genuineness of the Gospels 
has lost none of its validity ; for he bases his reasoning on 
the admissions of those who claim a late authorship for the 
Gospels, throws over the first post-apostolic century a mas- 
sive bridge of circumstantial evidence, and then quietly fills 
in the chasm by substantiating the intervening testimony 
which he has already shown to be superfluous. As for him- 
self, I doubt whether he had a firmer conviction of his own 
being than he had of the life eternal and of the divine 
mission of him in whom that life is revealed and made 

Dr. Palfrey was a more ready believer ; but an intensely 
tender," keen, and imperative conscience would not suffer 
him to leave any vital question unexamined or any essential 
testimony unverified. He gave the most hospitable recep- 
tion to inquiry, to diversity of opinion, to honest doubt ; 
welcomed new light from whatever quarter, and bestowed 
unresting diligence on his work equally as a learner and as 
a teacher. With him, too, study deepened conviction and 
strengthened faith. A closer follower of Christ I have 
never known, nor have I ever seen years of infirmity and 
suffering irradiated as his were by what seemed open vision 
of things divine and eternal. 

My intimacy with both these worthily eminent men 
impressed strongly upon my mind, first, the necessity of 
special fitnesses for the office which they bore, and, sec- 
ondly, the tendency of that office, fitly borne, to intensify 
the faith which it implies. 

In the preparation for the work, I include not merely the 
scholarly aptitude, the linguistic training, the conversance 
with the Hebrew language and Scriptures and with cognate 
dialects, the lack of which would of course denote utter and 
absolute unfitness, but equally a profound sense of the 
transcendent worth of these sacred records as the world's 
manual of truth and duty. This last requisite has its intel- 
lectual no less than its spiritual significance. No man is 


a fit critic of that with which he is not in full sympathy. 
Bentley was the most learned man of his time ; but he made 
a fool of himself by his attempted emendations of the Para- 
dise Lost, simply because he had no poetry in his soul, and 
no knowledge of words or" metres could bring his mind into 
relation with Milton's. A great deal of (so-called) Biblical 
criticism has been, for like reason, equally learned and 
worthless. Reliance has been placed on the critical feeling, 
which is always deserving of confidence when the feeling 
has reference to that which is under criticism, but otherwise 
is mere conceit and caprice. If the New Testament is 
an outgrown record of doubtful origin and still more ques- 
tionable authenticity, on the same plane with the Alcoran, 
the Vedas, and the legends of Buddha, it is not worth a 
professorship, or even a place among the elective studies of 
a divinity school which shall train men to preach each his 
own gospel. It is only for its religious validity and worth 
that it claims its essential and foremost place in the educa- 
tion of religious teachers ; and, so long as it holds that place, 
it should have for its interpreters those who regard it with 
reverence and love. Even questions as to its external his- 
tory cannot be fairly considered by one not thus disposed. 
An ignorant and stupid mind will of course believe just 
what it wants to believe. But he whose mind is alert and 
active will not let his faith rest on a plausible uncertainty. 
He will try the witnesses, and all of them, with the most 
careful research and thorough diligence, and the more so 
because he is deeply concerned and profoundly interested, 
just as an able and acute lawyer would employ double 
caution as well as industry in determining the validity of 
the title to his own estate. I would have inquiry free 
and thorough ; but it is worthy of notice that Christianity 
and its sacred books are the only subjects of intellectual 
and scholarly activity on which it is ever imagined that a 
deep personal interest is unfavorable to free and thorough 

The interpretation of the New Testament, on the part of 
equally honest, single-minded, and devout critics, may take 


legitimately two unlike directions, and may make Christi- 
anity either distinctly evangelical or preponderatingly Paul- 
ine in its type. It is maintained, on the one hand, that we 
have in the words and life of Christ the whole of his relig- 
ion, that he did not intend to transmit as religious truth 
aught to which he did not give utterance or expression, 
and that St. Paul's seemingly technical phraseology is but 
the mode in which he shapes the simple verities of the 
gospel to meet the cavils and objections of the Judaizing 
converts, in the same way in which we, in combating a 
religious system of the present day, should use many terms 
which we should not employ in the non-controversial treat- 
ment of our own beliefs. I think that our friends of the 
Augustinian theology will readily admit that their specific 
dogmas are not derived immediately from Christ, and jvould 
never have taken shape but for St. Paul. But they, in their 
own full right and on grounds that will admit of clear 
exposition and not unreasonable defence, maintain that, in 
accordance with Christ's own purpose, Christianity has in 
St. Paul's Epistles a fuller development than in the Gospels, 
and that these Epistles, therefore, are to be interpreted, not 
as the application to peculiar cases and circumstances of the 
truth recorded as in Christ's own words, but as teaching, on 
the authority of an inspired apostle, dogmas which would 
not have been necessarily inferred from the Gospels, had 
they been the only canonical scriptures. Critics of either 
school are so kept prolongedly under the word-fall from the 
lips of him who spoke as never man spake beside, and 
when they turn from his express record find themselves in 
such intimate converse with the greatest of his followers, in 
whom was pre-eminently the mind of Christ, that the course 
of study begun with a believing heart ought of necessity to 
issue in an ever firmer faith and" an ever more loving disci- 

Dr. Abbot's method and work as a critic will be more 
particularly described by the one man whom those who 
knew them both could not fail to designate and welcome as 
his successor. In the few words that I have yet to say, I 


want to speak of the spirit which Dr. Abbot brought to his 
office and of what his office did for him. 

His very name suggests special aptitudes. St. Paul's 
doctrine of heredity, implied in his mention of Timothy's 
grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, has had its 
manifold illustration in some of our old New England fami- 
lies, of which the membership is almost a credential. The 
various branches of the Abbot family have been singularly 
fruitful in lovers of the divine word, in men whose lives 
have been an interpretation of the gospel, in scholarly men, 
too, and often in those whose marked ability and learning 
would have been commemorated, had they not been cast 
into the shade by the more exceeding lustre of their piety. 

Dr. Abbot's deep personal interest in the'Christian Script- 
ures must have given a tone to his early life as a student. 
We have testimony to the religious trend of his college 
course, in which a mind like his can have slighted nothing, 
yet must undoubtedly have levied a large tribute for 
sacred uses from almost every part of the college curricu- 
lum. There is reason to suppose that, had he remained 
near his native home, he would have been none the less a 
Biblical student, though with a restricted range of materials 
and opportunities. But the Providence which shapes men's 
ends so often without their forethought led him to Prof. 
Norton at the very time when the professor's waning life 
and unfinished work made a skilled and earnest assistant a 
special godsend, while his influence was adapted to intensify 
the already prominent traits of mind and heart of his des- 
tined successor, — the heir equally of his intrepid research 
and of his reverent spirit. 

In every department of knowledge, the learner must be 
the asker. Qne finds only what he seeks ; and one's moral 
qualities and spiritual habitudes, so far as they are distinct 
and strong, are interrogative. Alongside of that which can 
nourish and satisfy them, they are questionings and crav- 
ings. They can find in the gospel a vast deal that would 
escape the eye of a mere linguistic student. Dr. Abbot 
brought to the New Testament a spiritual nature which 


yearned for what it found there, which could assimilate and 
convert into its own substance the bread from heaven there 
bestowed, and which could only increase its hunger by 
feeding it. He wanted for himself what he read in Christ's 
earthly record. There was in him a rare blending of the 
stronger and the finer elements of character. He had a 
vigorous grasp and an unrelaxing hold on opinions once 
formed, on conclusions fairly reached. He was not satisfied 
with belief where knowledge was attainable, and in whatever 
admitted of doubt his beliefs were brought into as close 
kindred with knowledge as the means of inquiry rendered 
possible. He had strong confidence in his own opinions, 
for the sufficient reason that he had omitted no means 
within his reach for forming and verifying them. But 
among these means, and no less availing than the critical 
apparatus at his full command, were those tentacles of heart 
and soul, which could not but lay hold on the great truths 
of religion which it is their very nature to apprehend, and 
which must of necessity fasten on all that is vital in the 
gospel, if it be indeed the record of a veritable theophany. 
The tenderness, gentleness, sweetness, simplicity, modesty, 
which made his life lovely, were cognitive faculties in his 
special department. They brought him into relation with 
Jesus Christ. They revealed to him else hidden depths of 
meaning in the Saviour's teachings and life. They multi- 
plied for him points of receptivity for the informing and 
pervading spirit of the Divine Master. 

These traits, which sometimes exist in so loose and fluent 
a form as to be feelings rather than principles, were in him 
solidified, yet without being chilled, by rigid, conscientious 
integrity. His spiritual insight and sympathy might open 
meanings to him else unperceived ; but they could not 
warp his judgment or mcfdify his decision, as to matters 
of evidence- or interpretation. He could see in a text of 
Scripture what he would have preferred not to see ; and, 
in such a case, he would have reported precisely what he 
saw, without the slightest reserve or qualification. With 
his religious opinions as firmly fixed as those of any fallible 


man ought to be, and with these opinions held as precious 
and cherished elements of his own interior life, they were 
never his reasons for the exegesis of a disputed text, still 
less for his preference of a disputed reading. 

This perfect impartiality was of peculiar worth in the 
textual criticism of the New Testament, which may be re- 
garded as his specialty. It may be safely said that, in all 
his printed discussions of the various readings of disputed 
texts, it would be impossible to find an instance in which 
his theological predilections have been suffered to affect 
the statement of evidence as derived from manuscripts, ver- 
sions, and quotations, or in which one who had reached a 
different conclusion from his could impeach his perfect fair- 
ness in dealing with the authorities on which the decision 

There were yet other traits, not expressly spiritual, which 
bore their part in fitting him for his work. Though long 
practice perfected the gift, nature must have endowed him 
with a singularly clear and keen mental vision. Not every 
mind — not every able and vigorous mind — can train itself 
as his mind was trained to trace minute distinctions, to dis- 
criminate where differences are almost infinitesimal, to 
mark the slightest deviation from the equipoise of balanced 
testimonies or arguments. There are eyes of the under- 
standing that are natively microscopic, while none the less 
telescopic. Such eyes the Biblical critic needs, conversant 
as he ought to be equally with minutiae which, except in the 
sacred records, would be insignificant, and with truths broad 
and vast as the universe. 

I cannot but trace also an aptness for Dr. Abbot's work 
in the native vein of wit and humor, which cropped out so 
gladsomely in his rare and brief seasons of relaxation. Wit 
and wisdom are close of kin. Wit depends on the quick 
and delicate perception of likenesses and differences between 
words and their respective meanings. It is precisely the 
same faculty in its more serious exercise that constitutes 
the acumen, skill, divination of the accomplished critic ; 
and the coincidence of these two phases — the mirthful and 


the grave — of the same faculty, is on record in not a few 
remarkable instances, including even that grim Coryphaeus 
of Apocalyptic and prophetic interpretation, Joseph Mede, 
and that sternest of moralists, John Foster. 

Dr. Abbot's was a place of privilege no less than of ser- 
vice. It was good for him to be thus intimately conversant 
with the Divine Humanity whose record was at once his 
work and his joy. As we look back upon his life, we see 
that he grew constantly into the image so familiar to his 
study and contemplation. His virtues were those of the 
Beatitudes. In his lowliness of spirit, he had no ambition 
to shine ; yet his light shone far, because it was so pure 
and bright that it could not be hidden. While he was the 
cynosure of admiring love for those in his nearer circle, 
none came within the sphere of his influence who did not 
feel in him the irresistibly attractive power of an unselfish 
soul, consecrated to the service of God and man. His 
light shines on, none the less bright now that he has gone, 
and that we can number up the tokens of benignity, kind- 
ness, and helpfulness, strown all along his life-way, which 
he never made known, but which are recalled at this time 
in cumulative memory and with loving gratitude. When 
we consider his constant professional engagements, his 
extended correspondence, the large amount of his own 
finished work, it gives us a new sense of the elasticity of 
time to find how many there were who were enriched by 
his painstaking generosity, enabled through his aid to ren- 
der valuable contributions to the cause of sacred literature, 
indebted to him for materials and for their efficient use, 
dependent on him for the completeness, correction, revision 
of what, but for him, would have failed in great part of its 
destined purpose, — services for which there was no earthly 
inducement, often not even due recognition, but rendered 
only in the Master's name and in the Master's spirit. 

Then, too, we cannot but remember the burden of fre- 
quent and long bodily infirmity, sustained with more than 
submission, — with a cheerful courage that kept the spirit 
strong and brave, kind and helpful, too, under the close im- 


pending shadow of death, the outward man perishing while 
the inward man was renewed day by day. Such a body, 
wan, wasted, lingering so long on the very brink of the 
grave; such a soul, full of light and love and peace, — what 
so sure pledge can we have this side of heaven of those 
words of the Lord, " He that believeth on me, though he 
were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liveth and 
believeth in me shall never die" ? 



The embarrassment besetting any one presuming to speak 
publicly in commendation of a man whose modesty and 
reserve were extreme is augmented on the present occasion 
by the fact that he has already been commemorated, ten- 
derly and truthfully, by both tongue and pen. Not that the 
last word about Ezra Abbot has been spoken : admiration 
for scholarship and love for guileless excellence must per- 
ish before that time comes to us who knew him ; but, when 
summoned by those who did r^^ot enjoy this privilege to tell 
them what it was which entitles this feeble and secluded 
scholar to an exalted place among great men, we are half- 
disconcerted by the summons for the moment. There are 
American authors whose books can be reckoned up by the 
score, and their circulation by scores of thousands of cop- 
ies. The largest work which Dr. Abbot wrote is an essay 
rather than a treatise, a monograph barely exceeding one 
hundred pages, known and prized by few persons except 
scholars. There are American teachers whose quickening 
words are heard annually by hundreds that spread their 
fame through the length and breadth of the land. Prof. 
Abbot spoke year after year to less than a score of pupils. 
There are American scholars in whom wealth of learning 
is so wedded to skill in public address that the great multi- 
tude confess the enchantment of their words. Dr. Abbot 
probably never made an unpremeditated public speech in 
his life, and was physically incapable of making himself 
easily heard in a crowded assembly for half an hour. Yet 
the eloquent speaker, the successful teacher, the voluminous 
writer appear but as ordinary men by the side of the excep- 
tional gifts and achievements of this retired, erudite, labori- 
ous, disinterested Christian scholar. 


The glimpses given us of his childhood disclose in a rudi- 
mentary stage many of those qualities which distinguished his 
mature years, but his precocity seems to have been quite 
free from the pertness which generally renders youthful prod- 
igies repulsive. At nineteen months, he knew his letters ; 
and, when in church the usual sedative of a book was given 
him, he broke out in self-forgetful exclamations of joy at 
some success in deciphering. At five, he is promoted into 
the first class in reading, although, to equalize his diminu- 
tiveness with the average stature, he is required to stand 
upon the bench. At seven, he has finished his arithmetic, 
and gained the name of being wonderfully fond of books. 
He is found reading Rollin's Ancient History, and declares 
it to be very interesting, — a pleasant incident for lovers of 
Rollin to come upon. 

Under the primitive regulations of the frontier ' school 
which he attended, the pupils were left to set their own les- 
sons, making them longer or shorter as ability or pleasure 
dictated. On one occasion, he instigated a bright compan- 
ion to offer the whole of "old Murray" at a recitation. 
Recitations of this sort taxed the power of the teacher more 
than that of his pupil. The hearing of them was accordingly 
delegated to some of the older scholars. Once, having 
asked the miss that sat next him how to spell *' mosquito'' 
and been answered by the nimble-witted little ignoramus, 
"You can spell it a dozen ways," our infant philologer sets 
himself to work and tabulates just twelve different spellings 
with their several vouchers. In these early days, too, he 
gets access to Shakspere and Scott, and finds them more 
entertaining than play. But he is not a bit priggish : enters 
into all the childish games with all a child's glee ; can run 
faster than any other boy in the school except one ; is an 
expert at catching trout ; a capital story-teller, and such 
good company generally as to prompt the cousin, at whose 
father's house he was accustomed to stay when the severity 
of the winter in Maine forbade him to take his three-mile 
walk to his home, to pray for rough weather. 

Once, when the two take refuge under a bridge from a 


thunder-shower, he holds forth upon electricity, and con- 
cludes his lecture with the consolatory assurance that, if 
they are struck and not killed, but only stunned, they will 
revive on falling into the water. 

In the routine of farm-life, he generally reads while he 
rides his loaded horse to and from the mill ; yet he is enter- 
prising in agriculture, fond of experiment, dissatisfied with 
himself unless he accomplishes as much as his more robust 
and less studious associates. 

Having exhausted the scanty resources for getting an 
education which the vicinity of his home affords, he is sent 
to continue his studies with his mother's brother, the Rev. 
Abiel Abbot, of Peterboro. The reverend gentleman, like 
all the lad's other teachers, is so impressed with his "won- 
derful accuracy of knowledge " and his eagerness for books 
that he adds his advice to that of the rest, and induces the 
father to surrender his cherished hope of having his son 
follow his own calling, and to consent to his entering Phil- 
lips Exeter Academy and preparing for college. His fellow- 
students at Bowdoin soon recognized his superiority, and 
predicted for him the distinction as a scholar which he 
afterwards gained. A living instructor recalls the admi- 
ration stirred in him as the young student (in the familiar- 
ity of the academic life of those days) put to him a casual 
question about a passage in Livy, and thus gave him the 
sight of a text-book the margin of which was crowded with 
scholarly annotations in a chirography like copperplate. 
His room-mate, still surviving, gives an interesting account 
of the avocations of the young recluse, for such the average, 
easy-going collegian esteemed him : his botanical strolls of a 
Saturday afternoon through the fields and woods ; his volun- 
tary excursions, too, into fields of literature not traversed 
by the college curriculum. The De Officiis is one of the 
books these unfledged critics read and annotate together, and 
then exchange their copies ; and, in the repeated discussions 
they hold respecting the accuracy of the renderings in our 
English New Testament, it is interesting to learn that the 
late Prof. Henry B. Smith, then a tutor at Bowdoin and after- 


wards associated with Dr. Abbot — although, alas ! only in 
name — upon the American Board of Revisers, is frequently 
called in as umpire. 

But biographical details belonging to his subsequent ca- 
reer as a teacher, a librarian, a professor, must be passed 
over, that I may not weary your patience in speaking of his 
work as a Biblical scholar. 

For his early interest in the sacred Scriptures, he seems 
to have been mainly indebted to his mother, — a woman of 
an active mind, who followed keenly the discussion of the 
theological questions which stirred New England thought 
in those days, whose little collection of works on controver- 
sial divinity is believed to have shaped the doctrinal prefer- 
ences of her son, and whose personal thirst for knowledge at 
first hand may be inferred from the fact that in her young 
maternal life — cut off at the end of seven years — she 
learned Greek, that she might read for herself the writings 
of the apostles in their vernacular. No wonder the son of 
such a mother used to spend the intermission between the 
Sunday services in studying his Greek Testament ; used to 
translate from the original, as he conducted the devotional 
meetings in college ; read the same precious book in after 
years as he sat in his pew awaiting the opening of public 
worship ; travelled with a copy of it in his pocket ; could 
quote it almost at pleasure, and refer an inquirer often to 
the very chapter and verse where a desired passage was to 
be found. Dr. Abbot's learning in all its vastness centred 
in, radiated from, was tributary to the Sacred Record. Com- 
mend me to the man of one book, especially if that be the 
Book of books ! 

When Dr. Abbot began to write on textual subjects, the 
time was not in all respects propitious. The curiosity which 
sacred criticism had aroused in its earlier stages had mainly 
died away. Its results, as familiarized to clerical minds by 
the current reprints of Griesbach's text, had elicited the 
confession on all hands that, as respects the substance of 
our sacred records, there is little to choose between the latest 


printed copy and the oldest manuscript exemplars. The 
peculiarities of the latter, therefore, were rendered by this 
admission more and more matters of antiquarian interest. 
The average student cared little about them. By the unin- 
structed public, on the other hand, they were regarded with 
disfavor. For, to the ordinary Christian believer, his Eng- 
lish Bible was the final authority. Its language was ac- 
cepted, exactly as it stood, with unquestioning deference. 
Every jot and tittle of its text carried to his mind the au- 
thority of a "Thus saith the Lord." Its very words could 
hardly have been more sacred had they been taken down as 
they fell from the lips of our Lord and his apostles, and 
printed — to borrow the phrase of Bentley respecting the 
Greek text of Stephens — by an angel acting as compositor. 
Indeed, little more than twenty-five years have yet elapsed 
since, as will be remembered, our National Bible Society — 
after having devoted three years and a half, by a committee 
under the supervision of such judicious Biblical scholars 
as Prof. Edward Robinson and Samuel H. Turner, to rid- 
ding our current English Bibles of the twenty-four thousand 
or more variations, chiefly of a typographical nature, which 
had crept into them — found itself compelled to revoke its 
action, under clamoring charges of " tinkering up " the sacred 
text and "debasing the standard." And the prevalent senti- 
ment of the times in the scholarly world, even, may be 
judged of from the nafvete of the statement of Alford, who, 
in publishing the first edition of his Greek Testament, con- 
fesses that he gives only a ^'provisional text, the one best 
suited to the intended use of his edition under present cir- 
cumstances " ; one "which may be regarded as an experi- 
ment how far the public mind in England may be disposed 
to receive even the first and plainest results of the now ad- 
vanced state of textual criticism." 

In New England, to be sure, the ignorance on textual 
subjects was less dense ; but its jealousy was intensified by 
the circumstance that theological feeling ran high, and that 
the passages of special interest to the textual critic were the 
battle-ground of the champions of the rival doctrinal sys- 


terns then dividing the community. The question of the 
truth or falsity of Orthodoxy seemed, to the average dis- 
putant of those days, to turn on the number of unequivocal 
proof-texts, more or less, that could be brought forward on 
the one side or the other. Anything which called in question 
the validity of a passage for use as an orthodox argument 
was looked on with suspicion and dislike. The very names 
of Wetstein, Griesbach, and the rest became odious. Proba- 
bly not a few persons of that day supposed them to be the 
names of men who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and 
repudiated the ''faith once delivered to the saints." Any 
one interested in exposing the dubiousness of a doctrinal read- 
ing hitherto accredited was suspected of covert hostility or 
partisanship, as though he created the facts which he made 

Such suspicions Dr. Abbot took no pains to shun. The 
first results of any considerable magnitude of his critical 
studies were given to the world in connection with the 
publications of Prof. Norton, confessedly one of the fore- 
most and most indexible advocates of what was known 
as "liberal Christianity," little as he liked the name of 
" Unitarian." Appended to the first volume of Mr. Norton's 
Translation of the Gospels, with Notes, published (in 2 vols., 
8vo, in 1855) under the editorial supervision of the author's 
son and Dr. Abbot, is an extended Table prepared by the 
latter, exhibiting the various readings adopted in that 
translation in preference to those followed in the Common 
Version ; and, throughout the volume of notes, there are 
scattered evidences of his scholarly vigilance which abun- 
dantly warrant the commendation passed by a contemporary 
who professed to " know something of the diligent and con- 
scientious pains spent by the editors, by day and by night, 
for many months in the work." Similar care was expended 
by him upon the second edition of Norton's Statement of 
Reasons for not believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians, a 
book which appeared the next year, equipped with copious 
indexes prepared by Dr. Abbot, and enlarged with many 
references and notes from his hand, more especially one 


extending to nearly fifty closely printed pages, and devoted 
to a consideration of the various readings in certain pas- 
sages supposed to have a bearing on the doctrine of the 
Trinity. In the animated discussions, also, which a few 
years later engaged the religious journals of this part of 
the State over the sermon on the Trinity preached by one 
who then held the Plummer Professorship in our Univer- 
sity, Dr. Abbot took part on the Unitarian side ; restricting 
himself, however, in the main to matters of history and 
Biblical interpretation. About this same time, he reprinted 
and furnished with notes and an appendix Orme's Memoir 
of the Controversy respecting the Three Heavenly Witnesses, 
More than once, too, — if I mistake not, — in the ten or 
twelve years intervening between this time and the first 
assembling of the American Committee for the Revision 
of our English Bible, he participated, through the columns 
of the New York Independetit and perhaps of other journals, 
in doctrinal controversy involving some point of textual or 
patristic learning.* 

Naturally enough, therefore, when the spirit of the times 
is considered, together^ with the sharpness and skill which 
characterized our friend as a disputant, his name may have 
passed, with many who had no personal knowledge of him, 
as that of a wary and learned yet partisan and pugnacious 

If such was the man any members of the revising body — 
or, I may add, any other Christian scholars at any time — 
expected to meet in Dr. Abbot, there was in store for them 
a most agreeable disappointment. His physical character- 
istics, even, — his slight frame, mild eye, tenuous voice, — his 
quietness of manner, his intellectual courtesy, — all the more 
conspicuous because of his occasional absorbed forgetful- 
ness of some petty punctilio of conventional etiquette, — his 
deferential attention to what others might say, his delicate 

* See Appendix, List of Publications. 

t A similar misjudgment, arising from his theological associations, seems to have biassed Dr. 
Tregelles's estimate of his exhibition of authorities concerning the text in John i., i8: see 
Home's Introduction, etc., nth ed., vol. iv. (Introduction to the New Testament, edited by 
S. Prideaux Trcgelles), p. 780, seq., note, and compare Dr. Abbot's re-examination of the passage 
in the Bibliotfuca Sacra for October, 1861, pp. 840-872. 


avoidance of everything offensive in his manner of opposing 
them and in the statement of his own views, above all his 
conspicuous desire to bring out the whole truth on a point 
of controversy, whether the disclosure made for or against 
his own position, soon convinced all that they were asso- 
ciating with a model Christian scholar. 

The discussions around the revision table naturally 
involved in due course the passages which had played 
a prominent part in the Unitarian controversy. But there, 
as elsewhere, debate moved on such a level as to call out no 
suggestion of a disputant's personal faith ; while so thorough 
was Dr. Abbot's mastery of critical details, so impartial his 
method of handling them, that by common consent he was 
once and again requested to give the evidence, sustaining 
a conclusion reached by the company, its form for trans- 
mission to the revisers across the ocean. 

Minute details are evidently out of place here. Persons 
interested in such discussions will find themselves rewarded 
by examining his essays on the much controverted texts 
alluded to, as they have been given to the public in the 
pages of the Bibliotheca Sacra, the Unitarian Review, the 
Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 
and the Appendix to Norton's Statement of Reasons, already 
mentioned. His more striking characteristics, however, as 
a critic may be briefly specified. 

Foremost among them stands a quality which may, per- 
haps, be called originality, — originality not in the sense of 
inventiveness, a sense in which it has but a very limited or 
doubtful application to a science busied mainly with the 
collection and presentation of evidence, but originality as 
opposed to the practice of borrowing knowledge at second- 
hand. He brought forward no hearsay testimony, but held 
a personal interview with every witness he summoned, heard 
and sifted his story in private before adducing it as evidence. 
It may surprise some persons that this practice should be 
mentioned as an especial merit : it is so obviously the dic- 
tate of honesty that its neglect might seem to savor of 
inveracity. But so numerous are the testimonies, and rec- 


ondite and cumbersome and difficult of access to the average 
scholar and dubious of interpretation often when found, that 
the practice of taking the statements respecting a text or 
a Father, which are given by the laborious collectors from 
Mill to Tischendorf, has become far more common than it 
is excusable. Dr. Abbot's practice was the reverse. He 
used not the eyes of others but his own. Even in his last 
illness, he politely declined a friend's offer to ascertain for 
him the evidence of a certain Father respecting a passage 
in debate, and requested that the book be brought him from 
the library. 

As might be anticipated, his next characteristic was 
accuracy. Indeed, that accuracy which scholars came to 
count upon in everything bearing his name was largely 
secured by this practice of going to the primary authorities 
for himself. Editors and critics, through the decades, have 
blindly copied one another, and been liberally aided by the 
inadvertence and ignorance or — what is quite as dangerous 
— the fancied wisdom of the printers, till the number of 
errors respecting the authorities professedly cited is almost 
incredible. Dr. Abbot's labors contributed nothing to mul- 
tiply, little or nothing, I believe, to perpetuate — on the con- 
trary, very much to expose and correct — these errors. In 
printing an article of importance, it was his practice to test 
the type-setter's accuracy, not by his manuscript, but by 
re-verification. The services rendered by Dr. Abbot in 
correcting oversights in the work of others, as well as by 
avoiding the like in his own, have been many and great, 
and, it gives me pleasure to add after an inspection of his 
copy of Scrivener's Introduction, are not, as I believe, 
wholly ended. 

A third excellence conspicuous in Dr. Abbot's work as a 
critic is its thoroughness. His research was almost unlimited. 
It was his standing maxim to "go to the bottom" of a sub- 
ject. Any confusion or conflict of testimony made and kept 
him uneasy till he had cleared it up. Hours, days, yes, the 
leisure sometimes of weeks, has he spent in settling a claim 
to priority, the accuracy of a reference, the meaning of an 


abbreviation, even the correct spelling of a name. The 
hope of untying some critical knot would kindle his zeal 
to a white heat. The patience of his exploration, its in- 
genuity, its fertility, its quickness in detecting and adroit- 
ness in pursuing any clew, were marvellous ; and the fresh 
spontaneousness of his joy at discovery as contagious as it 
was charming. A dubious reading was to him a summons 
to study. A question which baffled him at the moment 
was not dismissed, but kept, standing. He sought infor- 
mation indefatigably. More than once, when the libraries 
of this country have failed him, has he sent to Europe for 
some needed book. More than once has he availed himself 
of the courtesy of foreign librarians and scholars in shedding 
light on some obscurity. Outstanding, requests of the sort, 
to be complied with as opportunity may offer, are probably 
still in the hands of other explorers besides the enterprising 
expert with whom it was his pleasure to labor in preparing 
the Prolegomena to Tischendorf's Greek Testament. 

This thoroughness of research resulted in a corresponding 
affluence of treatment. Not only does he do clean work 
within the precise field of discussion, taking his reader with 
him through every nook and hollow and thicket wherever 
anything adverse may by possibility be thought to lurk, but 
he gives him incidentally and on the way a deal of informa- 
tion about matters respecting which perhaps he has first 
stirred his interest. Hence, it comes to pass that his essays 
are replete with erudition, and often gladden a scholar by 
giving him, packed away in a foot-note, results for which he 
has long sought. 

Again, Prof. Abbot's critical work is characterized by 
good judgment. He avoided the indiscriminateness which 
often mars the results of hasty or one-sided investigators. 
He was well aware of the many and delicate considerations 
to be taken into account in making up a wise decision con- 
cerning certain kinds of critical evidence. What weight, 
for instance, is the supposed testimony of a certain Father 
entitled to in a given case 1 To answer the question, the 
genuineness of the works attributed to him must be deter- 


mined, the trustworthiness of their extant text, the validity 
of apparent quotations or allusions involving the passage 
in question when tested by the context or other parts of his 
writings, his general habit in quoting Scripture, his personal 
history and characteristics, his known opinions, and his rela- 
tions to the doctrinal disputes and ecclesiastical parties of 
his day. The ability to reach a correct decision on a ques- 
tion involving many particulars of this sort is something 
quite other than the ability to translate ancient tongues and 
ransack indexes. Dr. Abbot's friends may note with satis- 
faction that his expressed opinions respecting the character 
of the Speculum falsely ascribed to Augustine, the ungen- 
uineness of the homilies on the Acts which bear the name 
of Chrysostom, the untrustworthiness of Primasius as a 
supposed representative of the Old Latin version, and other 
points, are becoming the accepted opinions with critical 
scholars. But, quite independent of any particular opinions 
he may have expressed, there is a general calmness and dis- 
creetness and equipoise characterizing his discussions, which 
mark him as a man of singularly well-balanced judgment. 

Once more and above all, Prof. Abbot as a critic exhibits 
conspicuous candor. With all his caution, it is plain to 
every reader that he is a man of positive opinions, which he 
does not mean to disguise. But, in the advocacy of them, 
he evidently studies to be scrupulously fair. He is not 
engaged in making out a case. He does not write like 
a man who has made up his mind in advance what conclu- 
sion he will reach, and is merely engaged in looking up 
facts to support it. History with him is not dogmatics in 
disguise. Nor does he so far play the partisan as to leave 
the mention of counter-evidence to the advocates of the 
other side. When he searches an author for evidence 
affecting a disputed reading, he gives us all the evidence he 
finds. If his opponent is thereby enriched, he rejoices with 
the rejoicer. He makes it a matter of religion to avoid 
everything like approximation to that suppression of the 
truth which is only falsehood in disguise. Well do I re- 
member his sad shake of the head when a certain prominent 


disputant, on being proved to have misplaced his confidence 
in authorities, kept silence instead of making frank con- 
fession. And after reading a recent over-confident defence 
of the received text in I. Tim. iii., i6, he exclaimed, " I 
will demolish his argument ; but I must first send him three 
or four witnesses in his favor, which he has overlooked." 

In short, for a happy union of all the qualities which go 
to make up a masterly textual critic, this country certainly 
never furnished his equal ; and it is doubtful whether the 
world has seen his superior. When his opportunities and 
the resources at his command are considered, his achieve- 
ments are surprising. By the aid of the printed editions 
only of the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, together with 
those other generally accessible helps which are all our 
western world can command, he was able to expose the 
untenableness of the arguments of a foreign critic, who, 
speaking from actual inspection of both documents, contro- 
verted the opinion of Tischendorf and other palaeographers 
respecting the relative age of the two. In the same essay, 
too, he makes known several minor palaeographic facts, 
which, it is believed, had previously escaped notice. And 
the quality of his work may be judged of from the estimate 
put upon a sample of it by Prof. Hort, unquestionably the 
most acute and learned critic of England. In the preface 
to the Dissertation which the latter published in 1876 on 
the reading "only begotten God" in John i., 18, — a disser- 
tation, by the way, which advocates the opposite conclusion 
from that defended by Dr. Abbot, — he says, " Only once 
has the evidence been discussed with anything like adequate 
care and precision ; namely, in a valuable article contributed 
by Prof. Ezra Abbot to the American Bibliotheca Sacra of 
October, 1861." That discussion Dr. Abbot supplemented 
at considerable length, in 1875, in connection with the work 
of revision ; and, although the reading " God " still receives 
the preference of such critics as Tregelles and Westcott and 
Hort in England, Harnack and Weiss in Germany, there 
is reason to believe Prof. Abbot's arguments to have had 
influence in leading Tischendorf to return to the reading 


'* Son," after having adopted the other in one form of his 
text ; while the revisers as a body on both sides of the 
water decided, as you know, to let our current English 
version here remain unchanged. The independence and 
thoroughness of his investigations, the reiterated consider- 
ation he gave his problem before publishing the solution 
which seemed to him satisfactory, rendered him tenacious 
of his conclusions. That they might not commend them- 
selves at sight to the majority even of students did not 
disturb him. But when an expert, by independent study, 
reached an opposite result, — as, for example, in the case 
just mentioned, — he at once reopened for himself the 
problem and set on foot researches with a view to settle 
the obscure or variable factors in the evidence, that, if 
possible, he might win for his argument the only satisfac- 
tory token of conclusiveness ; namely, the conversion of him 
that is of the contrary part. 

But it is of the character of his work rather than of his 
conclusions and their fate that I would speak. The perusal 
of one of his thorough and impartial discussions stirs within 
the reader an impatient craving for more work from him 
of the same sort. It is not probable that any new manu- 
script evidence will come to light of such a nature as to 
change in any important passage the concurrent decision of 
critics of the school of Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and 
Hort. It would be an immense benefaction, therefore, if 
a student could have a complete and trustworthy statement 
of the present state of the facts in reference to passages 
still under debate. Such an impartial and exhaustive ex- 
hibition, even when it did not go far toward closing the 
discussion, would be invaluable as a basis for further study. 
A service of this sort, it is known possibly to some of you. 
Dr. Abbot had hoped to render in a series of essays to be 
appended to a manual edition of the Greek text. But the 
execution of the project was indefinitely postponed, partly 
on account of the engrossing character of the work contrib- 
uted by him to the Prolegomena of Tischendorf's larger 
edition, and partly in consequence of the appearance of 


Westcott and Hort's text and the turn which that has given 
for the time to critical discussion. 

In what is known as the department of '' Higher Criti- 
cism," Dr. Abbot published but a single essay, — one, but 
a lion. It was originally read, in part, at a public meeting 
of the "Ministers' Institute," held in Providence, R.I., in 
October, 1879, ^^^ is devoted to discussing "a few important 
points " only, in the external evidences for the genuineness 
of the Gospel ascribed to John. The selection of the 
points and the handling of them were largely governed 
by the anonymous work entitled Supernatural Religion, 
which had reached a seventh edition that year. A review 
of the discussion cannot be given here. Suffice it to say 
that for learning, for caution, for candor, and — I am ready 
to add — for conclusiveness, it is unsurpassed by anything 
which the protracted controversy over the Fourth Gospel 
has produced on either side of the water. As respects its 
main object, it is, I think, as decisive a piece of reasoning 
as Baur's famous essay to prove the unity of the Gospel. 
That object is not to show that Justin held the ''modern 
Orthodox faith " respecting the "inspired authority" of the 
Gospel, — strange misconception, — but to throw some light 
upon the question whether the apostolical memoirs to 
which Justin Martyr appeals about the middle of the second 
century were or were not our four Gospels. "To throw 
some light" upon it, I say, not to discuss it fully, — for even 
that would require a volume, as Dr. Abbot states, — but to 
show the falsity of the reasonings by which the author of 
Supernatural Religion and those who agree with him attempt 
to uphold the contrary opinion. The subject of Justin's quo- 
tations has already been ably discussed by Norton, Semisch, 
Westcott, Drummond, and others ; but, for lucidity and 
neatness of execution, Dr. Abbot's essay has never been 
surpassed, while, for learned research, it makes a distinct 
addition to the work of his predecessors. 

And the argument throughout is characterized by a clear- 
headed good sense, which, alas ! is sometimes missed in 


productions exhibiting no mean learning. Nothing can well 
be more felicitous or conclusive than the way in which — 
after a detailed exposition of the fallacy of the common 
assumption that, because Justin's quotation of our Lord's 
words respecting the new birth differs from the exact 
language as given in John it cannot have been derived 
from that Gospel — he clinches his argument by adducing 
nine quotations of the passage by Jeremy Taylor, which 
exemplify all the peculiarities of variation from the common 
text on which the writers of the Tiibingen school have laid 
such stress, and which, by parity of reasoning, prove that 
the eminent English divine must have used many apocryphal 

The essay was republished, I believe, in England ; and 
the commendation it called forth from specialists was abun- 
dant and emphatic. Prof. Mangold of Bonn, for instance, 
although he stands openly among those who oppose the 
genuineness of the Gospel, says, in a review of Dr. Abbot's 
essay,* "Abbot has accomplished (in the reviewer's opinion) 
the main task of liis (second) inquiry. That Justin knew 
and used the Fourth Gospel is " established ; also, that he 
employed it as being in his view a genuine writing of the 
apostle John." . . . 

Let me quote a few additional sentences from another 
notice of the essay by a German professor {Beweis des 
Glaubens for 1881, p. 94 seq.). The reviewer remarks : " The 
unfounded, crude, and hasty character of his opponent's 
representations is triumphantly exposed, with a rare wealth 
of patristic learning and an expert's familiarity with the 
recent literature. The manner in which he demonstrates, 
both from the ecclesiastical and the gnostic writers of the 
second century, that the genuineness of John's Gospel is 
universally acknowledged, — is established beyond contra- 
diction in the conviction of the Church of that period, — has 
an effect quite overpowering." In relation to Justin's quo- 
tation, the essay is declared to "give evidence of remarkable 
acuteness and a thoroughly sound judgment " ; and the 

♦See Gdttineuche gelehrte Anzeigen (Stuck i, 2, p. 48), January, 1881. 


notice closes with the hope that this ''robust scholarship 
may give birth to many other offspring, characterized by 
the like fulness of maturity and consummate beauty of 

Dr. Abbot knew — no man knew better — that the last 
word in the debate respecting the genuineness of this 
Gospel has not yet been spoken. Indeed, he says : " To 
treat the historical evidence with any thoroughness would 
require a volume ; to discuss the internal character of the 
Gospel in its bearings on the question of its genuineness 
and historical value, would require a much larger one." Of 
the first volume, he has given us but a fragment ; of the 
second, he has left, I am sorry to believe, not a line. 

Not to dwell upon other services rendered by him to the 
cause of Biblical criticism, — as in the revision and com- 
pletion of Hudson's Concordance^ and in the assistance given 
to the authors of Mitchell's Critical Handbook and Schaff's 
Companion^ etc. (works which owe a large part of their 
fulness and accuracy in the treatment of the history of the 
New Testament text to his vigilant supervision), — special 
mention must be made of the fact that his chief labor for 
years past has been expended on that monumental work 
the first half of which is now receiving the enthusiastic 
welcome of scholars, — the Prolegomena, namely, to the 
eighth edition of Tischendorfs larger Greek Testament. 

So delicate was the task of preparing it, and so scanty 
the materials for the purpose left by Prof. Tischendprf at 
his death, that for a year and a half his literary executors 
endeavored in vain to find some German scholar at once 
competent and willing to undertake the work. At length, 
an adventurous young American studying in Leipzig was 
persuaded to take charge of the enterprise, emboldened 
thereto by the promised assistance of Dr. Abbot, who had 
previously declined the honor of acting as primary. The 
consummate industry and skill exhibited in the portion just 
published have caused him to be created a Licentiate of 
Theology for honor ; and to receive the unusual, if not quite 
unprecedented, distinction, for a native of this country, of 


having his name enrolled among the teaching staff of the 
University of Leipzig. Yet this indefatigable and successful 
young scholar would derive as much pleasure as any of 
us from the acknowledgment that no small part of the 
surpassing excellence of the work is due to the departed 
one, whose name he has justly associated with his own upon 
its title-page. Every page of it passed under his critical 
eye, both in manuscript and in proof. During the last 
seven years of his life, he gave to it, and to the portion 
yet to be published, unstinted labor. For it all he neither 
received nor desired compensation. Nay, out of his limited 
private resources, he contributed hundreds of dollars 
toward defraying the frugal expenses of his fellow-laborer; 
and he devoted almost his last hours to preparing and 
sending out — as he had done once and again before — an 
appeal to the friends of sacred literature for funds to enable 
Dr. Gregory, who probably has a better acquaintance with 
New Testament palaeography than any other man living, 
by personally inspecting the manuscripts of Europe and the 
East, to give that account of the contents and value of the 
hundreds of minor authorities which the labors of all his 
predecessors have failed to furnish and which the students 
of New Testament criticism are impatient to receive. 

More helpful, to the majority of students, probably, than 
Prof. Abbot's critical labors, were his bibliographical. 

His first publication of this class, however, printed more 
than thirty years ago (1853), was not intended for general 
circulation. It is a volume of less than two hundjed and 
fifty octavo pages, containing a catalogue of the Library 
(which consisted at that time of about sixteen hundred 
volumes) belonging to the High School of this city, with 
which school, when he began to prepare the work, he was 
connected as a teacher. It is primarily a subject-catalogue, 
the subjects being distributed, according to their philo- 
sophical or scientific relations, into thirty-one classes, several 
of which have in turn numerous subdivisions, and in all 
of which the entries are alphabetical. The preface gives 


evidence that the delicate and complicated subject of cata- 
loguing, so far as it was at that time understood, had been 
thoroughly studied by him. It was no mechanical list of 
titles which he prepared ; but he was governed in his work 
by an educative aim, which the very moderate size of the 
collection enabled him to carry out, even as the inexperience 
of those for whom the catalogue was prepared made it of 
chief moment. ''It is hoped," he remarks, "that the use 
of a classed catalogue may promote the formation of those 
habits of investigation and research which are essential to 
success in the pursuit of truth. . . . When the curiosity of 
the student is excited, it is most desirable that he should 
have every facility for pursuing the inquiries to which he is 
led, that he may thus be encouraged to examine and think 
for himself." 

It is not difficult for one who inspects this thorough piece 
of work to trace many features of the system which, some 
five years later, Dr. Abbot devised for our University 
Library (to the staff of which he had in the interim been 
added), and which, by the introduction into the card cata- 
logue of an ingenious combination of the classed or scientific 
and the alphabetical arrangement, "gave," as an adept has 
said, " to Harvard College Library the first plan ever made 
for a complete alphabetical catalogue." * 

His next publication in this department was a work of 
far more general and permanent interest. It appeared at 
first (in 1864)! as an appendix to Mr. Alger's History of the 
Doctrine of the Future Life, and was subsequently issued 
separately. It is a classified and chronological Catalogue 
of Works relating to the Nature, Origin, and Destiny of the 
Soul, provided with notes and alphabetical indexes : two 
appendixes give titles of the more remarkable works relating 
to Modern Spiritualism and to the Souls of Brutes. 

* Mr. Cutter, in the Report of the Bureau of Edtication, on the " Public Libraries in the 
United States," p. 540. 

tDr. Abbot's Preface is dated Jan. i, 1862, but Mr. Alger's book is believed to have been 
printed and ready for publication in January, 1859. It is reviewed at length — and the bibliog- 
raphy also ! — in the Christian Examiner for January, 1861. There is reason to fear, too, that 
in giving the year 1864 upon the title-page, the publishers allowed themselves to follow the 
pernicious practice of post-dating a book which was actually put on sale two or three months 
earlier, if we may judge from the notices of it to be found in the journals for November and 
December of the preceding year. 


The preparation of it was a task which he at first supposed 
he could despatch "in three or four months," but which in 
the end occupied more than three years. In the prosecution 
of it, he explored not only the various public and several 
private libraries of this vicinity, but spent a number of days 
at the Astor Library in New York, and even ransacked the 
collection of a leading antiquarian bookseller, who had for 
many years made a specialty of works on the immortality 
of the soul. And deeming it, as usual, of great importance 
to speak as far as possible from actual inspection of the 
works noted, he sent to Europe for several of special rarity 
and value, as. he did when engaged in another biblio- 
graphical labor soon to be mentioned. 

Some idea of the extent of this catalogue may be gained 
from the fact that the most comprehensive work of the kind 
previously extant — namely, the Bibliotheca Psychologica pub- 
lished in 1845 by the distinguished bibliographer, Grasse — 
contains only about ten hundred and twenty-five of the more 
than five thousand three hundred titles given by Dr. Abbot. 

And the scrupulous pains expended on it is as noticeable 
as its compass. The very orthography and punctuation no 
less than the language of the titles have been preserved ; and, 
besides the place and date of publication, we have given 
to us the size of the book, the standing of its author, the 
date at which he flourished, and the place where his work 
may now be consulted, so far as the contents of ten Ameri- 
can collections and two English libraries (the Bodleian and 
the British Museum) are concerned. But most interesting 
of all are the brief notes, to be found on every page, 
and containing choice bits of pertinent bibliographical, 
literary, religious, and historical knowledge. The book in 
short affords a succinct history of opinion on the important 
topic to which it relates, and is indispensable to one who 
wishes to study that subject in any of its bearings. A man 
so thoroughly versed in such matters as Mr. Allibone, after 
having read it through from the first title to the last, 
pronounced it **one of the marvels of bibliography." And 
the characteristics of the author, as disclosed by it, almost 


justify the description of him given by a reviewer at the 
time as "a gentleman of miraculous perseverance, astute- 
ness, and accuracy" {Christian Examiner for 1861, page 27). 

Dr. Abbot's third great bibliographical labor, though 
from its nature lacking the symmetry and completeness 
which characterize the model work just described, is ser- 
viceable to a far larger number of students, — in fact, to 
every one in this country who takes interest in Biblical 
studies. I allude, of course, to the editorial additions 
which he, in conjunction with the late Prof. H. B. Hackett, 
contributed to Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

Of the more than thirteen hundred additions * with which, 
according to a hasty count, the American edition has been 
enriched, upwards of a thousand bear the initials of the 
American editors, of which more than four hundred were 
from the pen of Dr. Abbot. Many of them, to be sure, 
are devoted to correcting oversights, supplying omissions, 
supplementing information, — a kind of work making com- 
paratively little show, but for which a student or a teacher 
who wishes trustworthy statements is often inexpressibly 
grateful. To get an impression of the delicate, vigilant, 
scholarly character of this kind of revision, the admirable 
article on the New Testament may be consulted (an 
article covering more than thirty double-columned pages), 
or that upon the Septuagint, or upon the Authorized Ver- 
sion, or upon the Gospel of John. This last-named article 
also, with its more than two pages of added references to 
literature, affords a good specimen of the bibliographical 
enrichment for which the work is indebted to our friend. 
The like may be found under the head of " Gospels," and 
to some extent under every one of the several Biblical 
books ; while such articles as " Demon," "■ Demoniacs," 
" Messiah," and those on the various apocryphal books, 
show by the comments with which the added titles are 
interspersed that the writer has subjected those subjects 
to special and independent study. 

In brief, to the careful scholarship of these two American 

* Of course not all separate articles. 


Professors we are indebted for what is unquestionably the 
most accurate and serviceable work of its kind for the gen- 
eral student in any tongue. Moreover, to Dr. Abbot's 
special vigilance in reading every one of the 3652 pages in 
proof, the exceptional typographical accuracy of the work 
is largely due. He also greatly augmented its serviceable- 
ness by appending an index of the principal passages of 
Scripture illustrated, as well as by multiplying cross- 

I have dwelt so long upon Dr. Abbot's pre-eminent ser- 
vices as a textual critic and bibliographer that perhaps some 
persons may infer that he was a mere specialist, a man 
thoroughly versed in one or two narrow departments of 
knowledge, but acquainted with little besides. The in- 
ference would do him great injustice. He was well aware, 
indeed, of the necessity of concentration as the condition 
of valuable achievement ; used to deplore the current pro- 
pensity among workers in the realm of thought, as in the 
world of things, to attach more value to quantity of produc- 
tion than to quality. Hence, he did not cultivate the foible 
of omniscience. And he became so noted for his attain- 
ments in the particular and somewhat recondite branches 
of learning to which his best known publications relate that 
his broad general scholarship was often overlooked. But 
he took a lively interest his life long in many departments 
of thought with which his name is seldom associated. As 
a boy, he surprised one evening his companions in the little 
local lyceum by reading them a poem of his own composi- 
tion ; and in religious poetry, especially, he was a connois- 
seur. His youthful interest in wild flowers he never out- 
grew ; and he delighted to make excursions for them, and to 
replenish the little nursery of them which he successfully 
kept up in the corner of his grounds. His enthusiasm over 
the starry heavens was so great as, in the language of an 
early friend, to take the chill off the air of a winter night. 
Good books of every sort he was a genuine lover of. And 
the choice collection he has gathered give abundant 


evidence of having been intelligently used. Many of his 
intimates, even, seem not to be aware of the fact that to 
him we are indebted for what are probably the most accurate 
editions extant of Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living and Holy 
Dying, the text of Pickering's edition having been carefully 
revised and corrected, and the numerous quotations from 
ancient authors verified and referred to their sources. The 
purchase of a rare edition, the appearance of a new and 
attractive manual, though it were but a Hebrew grammar, 
would prompt him to take up a study anew. " Oh that I 
were only thirty years old ! " he exclaimed, on hearing that 
a rudimentary work in Assyriology was announced for pub- 
lication ; '' for it seems as though a student might get a 
tolerable mastery of a science lying as yet in so narrow 
compass, and then keep pace with its growth." The unex- 
plored fields of knowledge, whether in the intellectual realm 
or the physical, piqued his curiosity ; and he was impatient 
at any apparent indifference or timidity on the part of those 
responsible for research. Though removed as far as possi- 
ble alike by constitution and by mental habit from every- 
thing visionary or whimsical, he was outspoken in the 
opinion that the alleged phenomena of Spiritualism (for 
instance) have not yet received from physicists due scrutiny, 
whether we consider the accumulated testimony of credible 
witnesses on the one hand, or have regard for the public 
welfare on the other. The terrific tortures inflicted by stub- 
born unbelievers in the insensibility of somnambulists ; the 
easy-going incredulity of conceited scientists, who exclaim 
" Impossible ! " and turn away in contempt from phenomena 
which call for serious study ; the indifference of the great 
majority to the same until they reappear perhaps a genera- 
tion or two later under some foreign indorsement, — humili- 
ating facts like these in the history of science were often 
adduced by him in proof of the truth that bigotry and nar- 
rowness and barbarity are not the exclusive prerogatives of 

In short, when you had once convinced him that you were 
not consulting him as an authority on any given subject, 


you could be pretty sure of eliciting from him precious 
information concerning it. On the other hand, it was 
amusing sometimes to see an inquirer, thinking to use him 
as you would a dictionary, put to him a question in the hope 
of running off at once with an answer in a single sentence, 
and receive an elaborate exposition of his problem in its 
causes, origin, relations, suggestions, which convinced the 
luckless questioner that there are more things in heaven 
and earth than he ever dreamed of. 

Other particulars of Dr. Abbot's life and services I must 
content myself with little more than an allusion to. 

Not all his work was done for scholars or was concerned 
exclusively with the intellectual aspects and relations of 
truth. For a series of years, he was an efficient teacher in 
the Sunday-school connected with this church,* and gave 
to the work much more time than what .was needed for 
preparation for the weekly hour with his class. That class 
was equipped with copies of the New Testament in several 
tongues, with note-books and the various helps by which he 
knew so well how to lead pupils to look at a subject 
thoughtfully and on all sides. Many a careful and some- 
times extended paper would he write out at home in answer 
to some question which he could not satisfactorily dispose 
of on the spot. And, by the way, it was in this school 
that, if tradition is to be trusted, he was once covered with 
confusion in consequence of his inability to answer a ques- 
tion. One morning, so the story runs, before the opening 
of the session, while many were standing around, he was 
asked by a professional man " who was to preach that 
day." He replied that he did not know, and was over- 
whelmed by the rejoinder, "Good! I am glad at length to 
have discovered something that you do not know." His 
interest in the school did not terminate when his health 
compelled him to end his active connection with it. Indeed, 
the last bibliographical work of his life, I believe, was done 
upon the catalogue of its library. 

•This address was delivered in the church of the First Parish in Cambridge. 


Of Dr. Abbot's personal worth and Christian character, 
any one who knew him may safely be called upon to speak. 
He regarded himself as constitutionally hasty, but his friends 
never discovered the infirmity. His amiability and sweet- 
ness were equal to his scholarly unselfishness and his mod- 
esty ; and all, I believe, were unsurpassed. His guileless 
and outspoken language in controversial discussion pro- 
voked, on two or three occasions, the animadversion of his 
opponents. But these strictures called out from him in- 
stantly such explanations and regrets as more than effaced 
the misjudgment. In one of the most recent instances 
where his tone in controversy is sharply censured in a work 
of extensive use- in scholarly circles, the author subsequently, 
in a private letter, confesses himself "unfeignedly sorry," 
^'asks [Dr. Abbot's] forgiveness," and promises **to take an 
early opportunity of unsaying his words." 

Respecting his religious belief, I am going to venture to 
let him speak for himself, merely premising, by way of 
explanation, that in recent years he has often admitted 
me into his counsels and placed in my hands the extended 
letters with which he not infrequently favored his corre- 
spondents. One of these correspondents across the water, 
on receiving from Dr. Abbot some spontaneous suggestions 
on matters of criticism touched upon in a book he had just 
published, desired in his reply to know something more of 
our friend's position and calling, adding that he knew simply 
from the D.D. which he had somewhere seen attached to his 
name that he was by profession a clergyman. In response 
to this desire, Dr. Abbot wrote the sentences which I am 
about to quote. I ought to apologize, perhaps, for giving 
them publicity. In fact, I should have been at a loss until 
this hour to explain how it was that I took the wholly excep- 
tional liberty of extracting them. But something about 
them impressed me, as I trust it will impress you ; and, on 
this occasion, something surely will be pardoned to the spirit 
of admiring friendship. 

Dr. Abbot writes (under date of Oct. 22, 1882) : ''I am not 
one of those who deem it of little importance what a man 


believes ; but it seems to me that the power of religion over 
the heart and life depends far more on the earnestness and 
depth of conviction with which a few sublime truths are 
held fast than on the length of the creed. I am a layman, 
and have not had the advantage of instruction in any theo- 
logical school ; but I have been interested from my youth in 
the study of theology, simply because it seemed to me to 
embrace the subjects of deepest interest to man, to occupy 
itself with the very highest objects of human thought. 

** So far as I know my own heart, I have studied the New 
Testament and the early Christian writings, as well as those 
of modern theologians, with an earnest desire to ascertain 
the truth. In pursuing my inquiries, I have- always endeav- 
ored to make myself familiar with the writings of the ablest 
exponents of conflicting opinions, especially of opinions 
opposed to those toward which I felt myself inclining, and 
have tried to estimate fairly the force of their arguments. 
While I have always, as far as possible, gone to the original 
sources, and followed Dr. Routh's excellent maxim of verify- 
ing references, I have read Pearson and Bull, Grabe and 
Waterland, quite as carefully as Whiston and Whitby, Clarke 
and Jackson ; Meier and Dorner as faithfully as Martini and 
Baur ; Pye Smith and Stuart and Canon Liddon, as well as 
Belsham and Channing and Norton. 

" I believe with all my heart in the divine origin of Chris- 
tianity, — that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the 
event in human history which immeasurably transcends all 
others in importance. In him and him alone do I find God 
fully revealed as the Father of all ; in him and him alone do 
I find fully realized on earth the divine life, the life of union 
with God, which constitutes the ideal of humanity. In his 
teaching concerning God and man, in the inspiration which 
flows from his life and death of self-sacrificing love, and in 
his manifestation of the love and mercy of God, I find the 
highest conceivable motives to a life of holiness, of absolute 
consecration to God and the service of humanity. In these 
days, when the thick darkness of a dreary scepticism over- 
shadows so many minds, leaving no object of worship, of 


supreme love and gratitude and devotion, and no hope of a 
life beyond the grave, I am impressed most deeply with the 
surpassing grandeur and inestimable value of the great 
truths which all disciples of Christ, of whatever name, hold 
in common ; and I can only lament the fact that speculative 
differences on questions interesting indeed, but compara- 
tively unimportant, some of them on subjects which tran- 
scend the powers of the human mind, should break the bond 
of brotherly affection and sympathy which ought to bind 
together all who acknowledge Christ as their Master, and 
sincerely strive to walk in his steps." 

To the success of this Christian's endeavor to walk in his 
Master's footsteps, striking testimony has been given within 
these last few weeks. Three separate correspondents have 
summed up their estimate of the man as follows : '* I have 
often thought and sometimes said that I never saw any one 
who seemed to me to show more vividly in his life the life 
of Jesus" ; "I never knew," writes another, " I never knew 
a man more Christlike than dear Mr. Abbot " ; and yet once 
more, " He translated to my mind the character of Christ." 

What grander eulogy could be desired ! How does the 
glory of the matchless critic and bibliographer, the scru- 
pulous editor and reviser, the unrivalled " corrector of errors 
and collector of facts," disappear by reason of that glory 
which excelleth ! The glory of the terrestrial is one, the 
glory of the celestial is another. 

When we consider the feeble health of Dr. Abbot, and 
the fact that it was only during the last twelve years of his 
life that he was permitted to devote himself to Biblical 
studies as his main business, while even during those years 
he was adjusting himself to the demands of a new position 
and was giving much time to his duties as a member of the 
New Testament Revision Company, we are struck with his 
literary productiveness. His writings remain to stimulate 
to diligence, to thoroughness, to candor, to unflinching 
loyalty to the truth. Nor those writings alone which openly 
bear his name. His unstinted generosity, his gratuitous 


services, — so numerous that they cannot easily be reckoned 
up, for he kept no record of them, so unobtrusive that often 
they are rather to be suspected than demonstrated, — have 
caused him to enter less as a name than as a force into the 
Biblical scholarship of recent years. As with the dew and 
the light, his beneficent working is misjudged, if its results 
are looked for in isolated and palpable products. There are 
scores of scholars, I verily believe, to-day who are doing 
better work — more thorough and careful and conscien- 
tious — because Ezra Abbot has lived. There are scholars 
who by him have had their vision opened to higher fields 
of investigation, and their zeal kindled to enter upon them. 

Has his influence ended } Is it to be restricted to the 
indirect and diffused persuasiveness of a mere pattern of 
scholarship, incalculably useful though that be } 

For one, I would fain hope not. A review of his life 
shows us what a blessing was conferred upon the world 
when he was made a scholar instead of a farmer. All honor 
to the discernment of those who rescued him for Exeter and 
Bowdoin and Cambridge and Christendom ! Thanks and 
honor to those who opened the way for him to that special 
department of study for which his exceptional gifts and his 
personal tastes best fitted him ! Sir Humphry Davy, you 
remember, on being asked which of his discoveries was in 
his judgment the greatest, replied Michael Faraday. 

But what if that quarter of a century which intervened 
between Dr. Abbot's coming to Cambridge and his taking 
his seat in a professor's chair had been given without dis- 
traction to Biblical studies ! We should not to-day be 
deploring the termination of a career just as it was reaching 
the period of ripe fruitage. Our bereavement would not 
get additional poignancy from the spectacle of unfinished 
tasks of prime importance which no survivor can worthily 
take up. What if Mr. Norton, on summoning to Cambridge 
the young stranger who wrote him that memorable letter, 
had been able at once to make him master of the leisure and 
the books necessary for the prosecution of the studies for 
which his volunteer researches proved him to have rare apti- 


tude ! What an inestimable gain, if our friend could only 
have given himself to his life's work wholly and on the spot, 
instead of squandering his precious strength and mental 
powers for twenty-five years in teaching school and cata- 
loguing books ! 

Nay, further: after the Bussey professorship had been 
created for Dr. Abbot, and he had been prevailed upon to 
assume the chair, the wasteful expenditure did not cease. 
It took on, rather, another form. To a mind of very delicate 
adjustment, quick to detect differences non-existent to the 
careless perception, seeing significance and consequent 
importance in trivialities which the ordinary student holds 
as of no account, coursing to and fro along new lines of 
suggestion, — to a mind of this class, the work of teaching is 
seldom congenial. To compel such a mind to plod along by 
the side of an average understanding is like "making a 
plough-horse of Pegasus." Daily — perhaps twice a day — 
to interrupt the studies of such a mind, to distract its atten- 
tion from its kindred investigations, to force it to expend its 
nervous energy in the attempt — probably futile, possibly 
exasperating, certainly impoverishing — to impart its life to 
different clay, is wasteful prodigality. 

This prodigal expenditure of our intellectual resources we 
are used to in this country : indeed, it is almost unavoidable 
in the earlier stages of a nation's life. But it is far more 
deplorable than the burning down of the primeval forests by 
the frontier settler that he may clear the ground for his 
cabin and potato-patch. Intelligent educators are waking 
up to its extravagance. Dr. Abbot's career is a most 
impressive protest against it : yes, an appeal for the intro- 
duction of a different system, which seems to me to be more 
effective than a volume of argument. It is as affording the 
opportunity of seconding that appeal that this hour, I confess, 
has for me its main interest. 

Speaking broadly, there may be said to be three depart- 
ments of intellectual activity ; namely, the increase of knowl- 
edge, the formal impartation of knowledge, the general 
diffusion of knozvledge among the multitude. The explorer. 



the teacher, the popular writer or lecturer, are familiar 
representatives of these three distinct functions of the 
intellectual life. Now, it is coming to be recognized more 
and more that these three functions cannot wisely be com- 
bined, that division of labor increases efficiency and pro- 
motes productiveness here as elsewhere. The Christian 
minister of to-day does not undertake, as his predecessor did 
two or three generations ago, to turn his house into a theo- 
logical seminary. The student of theology, the student of 
medicine, the student of law, nowadays wisely betakes 
himself to a centre where he can come under the influence 
of specialists whose exclusive business it is to teach. 

But the work of teaching is engrossing and exhausting : 
it seldom leaves the instructor either time or strength for 
original research. Indeed, that man passes as an enter- 
prising teacher who, while treading year after year his 
monotonous round, keeps abreast with the progress of 
discovery in its relation to his own department. Only 
a limited acquaintance with the career of noted instructors 
will enable us to recall one man and another from whose 
hand the sceptre has departed for want of even this degree 
of enterprise. That now and then an exception should 
occur, like our deceased friend, only-proves the contrary 
state of things to be the rule. 

One of his acquaintances, himself a prominent New 
Testament teacher and scholar, in a letter written shortly 
after Dr. Abbot's death, utters reflections with which that 
event has burdened many a lover of Biblical learning. " It 
is surprising," he writes, " it is surprising and strange, 
indeed, that such a man should have been left in the position 
of Assistant Librarian of the Athenaeum and Harvard Col- 
lege Libraries for so many years. . . . What a pity that, to 
men who can be scholars such as he was, the colleges and 
schools offer positions only as working teachers ! " 

Now, the obvious remedy for this grievous evil consists 
in putting men of the sort into different positions ; and, as 
such positions do not now exist, in creating such positions, — 
in creating places to be filled by men whose primary, if not 


sole, duty it shall be to extend the boundaries of knowledge. 
Such men, furnished already with the present results of 
Biblical scholarship, should make it thcbusiness of their hfe 
to solve some of the many and multiplying problems of 
Biblical science. 

Fellowships we now have (and rejoice in) which enable 
their holders to prosecute study beyond the line which 
marks the goal of the average student. But these fellow- 
ships are given to young men, whose aim is not to increase 
the common stock of knowledge, but to get a broader 
acquaintance with it ; whose destiny it is not to become 
original investigators but to qualify themselves for the 
teacher's chair. The class of men I now have in mind are 
men of a higher grade and maturer attainments, men who 
(if possible) shall have won for themselves already among 
experts recognition as scholars, and whose province it shall 
be to augment the store of knowledge from which the 
teacher draws his materials. In a word, is it not time that 
investigation were recognized as a distinct and legitimate 
vocation in a well-appointed seat of learning } 

Even in the older countries of Europe, where the univer- 
sities have gathered to themselves the inheritance of centu- 
ries, where it is an acknowledged duty of the government to 
promote and subsidize learned research, and where, as is 
the case particularly in England, a wealthy and well-manned 
religious establishment furnishes many a post of com- 
parative leisure, with ample facilities for study at hand, 
more liberal assistance in the prosecution of original 
research has been repeatedly emphasized of late as one 
of the pressing wants of the period. 

Is it not time its claims in the department of theology 
met with recognition on this side of the water } 

Obviously, from its very nature, the vocation can never 
be self-supporting. Indeed, even the work of teaching is, as 
we know, chiefly dependent for its maintenance upon State 
patronage or private endowment. But the investigator 
must be lifted above the anxieties and interruptions in- 
separable from a scanty or uncertain provision for earthly 


wants. He should be able, in addition, to command every 
extant facility for the successful prosecution of his chosen 

And I need not remind you that the time is especially 
opportune for such an endowment of Biblical research as 
I am pleading for. The dominion of purely speculative 
theology is ended. The historic sciences and historic 
methods are gaining their legitimate supremacy. The 
existing unsettled state of theological opinion is due in no 
small measure to the working of the historic spirit. The 
disfavor with which even dispassionate and conservative 
statements of the results of historic research as applied to 
the Scriptures have been received in circles which have 
prided themselves on their enterprise in speculation is evi- 
dence of the prevalent ignorance of the Bible as an historic 
book, and calls for the increase as well as for the dissemina- 
tion of knowledge. The teachers themselves have need of 
being taught in this matter. And who can overlook the 
new field for exploration, full of promise for Biblical history, 
antiquities, philology, which the rising Oriental studies are 
opening ? Indeed, the experts tell us that there is not even 
a satisfactory Hebrew lexicon extant, notwithstanding the 
recent multiplication of manuals ; and New Testament lexi- 
cography, although in a better condition, looks forward 
with expectancy to the results of the years of research 
devoted to the Septuagint and later Greek by the corps of 
explorers now supported by the munificence of the Clar- 
endon Press. Shall America have no other part in these 
beneficent researches than that taken by some hard-worked 
professor who, like our lamented friend, does the work of 
two, and prosecutes researches at his own charges ? 

Do you tell me of the light esteem in which theology is 
held in these days ? But a profession is respected that 
makes itself respectable. Not the least of the inestimable 
benefactions which Ezra Abbot conferred upon this our 
University consisted in going in and out here as a living 
witness that Christian theology has valid claims upon the 
largest learning and the keenest intellect, is entitled to the 


most absorbing allegiance of head and heart and life of the 
noblest and most gifted of men. Should he, perchance, 
have been occasionally without due honor among his own 
literary household, he has done much to render Harvard 
University better known and more highly esteemed abroad. 
His neighbors, even, may have known him only by sight ; 
but there is mourning because of him in the high places of 
European scholarship to-day. 

Has he died without issue.? — at least, till some other 
man of the like exceptional gifts and with the like per- 
sistency of application, and favored by others equally skilled 
in the discerning of spirits, shall work his toilsome and tardy 
way to the like elevation of scholarly beneficence. It is for 
us, his survivors, his friends and the friends of sacred learn- 
ing, alumni of the school which he served and adorned, 
graduates and friends of the University whose honor he has 
done so much to augment and to spread,7— it is for us to 
answer the question. 

When we consider that in Cambridge and its immediate 
vicinity a scholar has access to the largest store of books 
collected in any single locality on this continent, that four 
of tlTe University's theological endowments antedate the 
organization of the Divinity School, that it was an express 
aim of the founders of that school to encourage " the seri- 
ous, impartial, unbiassed investigation of Christian truth," 
and that in furtherance of this avowed aim it differs from 
almost all other theological schools in exempting not its 
pupils only, but its professors as well, from a required assent 
to the distinctive doctrines or practices of any denomination 
of Christians ; and to that extent exempts an explorer from 
everything having a tendency to swerve or to restrain him 
unconsciously in his endeavor to ascertain the facts, and all 
the facts, and nothing but the facts, — when we consider 
these things, I submit that the privilege of the hour rises 
in the case of the friends and patrons of theological science 
here to the dignity of an obligation. 

But you are ready to ask, perhaps, whether I do not 
forget that the clergy are an impecunious race. I reply, in 


the words of the apostle, ** All things are yours." A clergy- 
man who has established himself in the confidence of his 
parishioners as a man of learning, good sense, piety, and 
disinterested benevolence, finds himself in command of pe- 
cuniary resources for every good enterprise, the extent of 
which will often surprise him, I verily believe, brethren, 
you have but to speak, and the thing is done. 

In justice to others, I ought frankly to add that this 
proposal is made without concert or conference. If any 
one, accordingly, think it to be unwise, on me alone let the 
responsibility fall. But I earnestly cherish the hope that 
the endowment suggested will commend itself to all as a 
needed subsidy to theological science, and especially as a 
monument, alike fitting and lasting, in honor of Ezra Abbot. 



At a meeting of the Faculty of the Harvard Divinity School, 
held May 2, the following resolutions were adopted : — 

Whereas, by the recent death of Professor Ezra Abbot, the Faculty 
of the Divinity School has been deprived of a most beloved and hon- 
ored member, we, his surviving associates, in the desire to place on 
record some expression of our sense of loss, hereby resolve, 

First, That in him the School has lost a teacher of unsurpassed 
fidelity, patience, clearness, and benignity ; the fraternity of Biblical 
scholars has had taken from it one who, for thoroughness, accuracy, 
learning, and candor, had no superior ; and all who knew him have been 
bereaved of a most generous, helpful, self-sacrificing friend. 

Second, That we record our devout and grateful acknowledgments 
to the Father of lights for our departed brother's birth, his laborious, 
fruitful, and disinterested life, his Christlike gentleness, humihty, and 
faith, and for his tranquil and believing death. 

Third, Lamenting our personal loss, the loss to the School and 
rising ministry, the loss to all lovers of thorough scholarship, the loss 
to the interests of BibHcal learning throughout Christendom, we offer 
our special sympathy to those who are most poignantly bereaved in 
his death. 

The following communication from Rev. A. A. Livermore, Pres- 
ident of the Meadville Theological School, was addressed to 
Professor C. C. Everett, D.D., Dean of the Faculty of the Harvard 
Divinity School : — 

Professor C. C. Everett, D.D. : — 

A meeting in commemoration of your beloved associate, the late Dr. 
Ezra Abbot, was held in the chapel of the Theological School on Tues- 
day last, the 25th inst. 

After the usual introductory exercises, addresses were made by 
A. A. Livermore and G. L. Cary, Professors, and J. Heddaeus, S. 
Hamlet, and H. T. Lyche, students, on the life, character, and labors 


of Dr. Abbot, and the invaluable services which he had rendered to 
sound learning and Biblical criticism and interpretation, and the exem- 
plification of a pure and beautiful Christian spirit. 

At the close of the exercises, a unanimous vote was passed that the 
writer should communicate to the family of the deceased and the Fac- 
ulty and students of the Cambridge Divinity School the expression of 
the sincere sympathy of the School here for the bereavement which they 
have respectively suffered, and the great loss which we all have suffered, 
in the decease of one of our greatest scholars and best men. 

Meadville, Pa., March 29, 1884. 

At a meeting of the American New Testament Revision Com- 
pany, held at the Bible House, New York, Friday, April 25, 1884, 
the following minute was unanimously adopted : — 

In the death of Professor Abbot, the New Testament Revision 
Company are summoned a third time, since the completion of their 
work, to mourn the departure of one of their number. With their asso- 
ciates of the Old Testament Company, they would reverently bow to 
the divine appointment, and thoughtfully take to heart its admonitions. 

The secluded life of Dr. Abbot, and his singularly modest and 
retiring disposition, rendered him almost, if not quite, a stranger to 
every one of us till we entered on our work together in these rooms. 
In general deliberations respecting matters of business, and particularly 
in those discussions, alike animated and delicate, which involved our 
relations to the English Revisers and the University Presses, his voice 
was heard but seldom. Yet, whenever he spoke, his characteristic clear- 
ness of apprehension, his accurate and complete recollection of facts, 
his judicial impartiality and dispassionateness, and, above all, his per- 
sonal willingness to become anything or nothing, if so be the Word of 
God in its purity might have the freer course, seldom failed to become 

His sphere of conspicuous service, however, was the Revision work. 
Always one of the first in his place at the table and one of the last to 
quit it, he brought with him thither the results of careful preparation. 
His suggestions were seldom the promptings of the moment. Hence, 
they always commanded consideration, often secured instant adoption. 
Well versed in the resources of our ancestral tongue, possessed of an* ear 
for its rhythm, and trained to a nice discrimination in his use of it, he 
rendered appreciable service in securing for the new translation certain 
felicities of expression to which its critics, amid their clamorous censure 
of its defects, have hitherto failed to render due recognition. But it was 
in questions affecting the Greek text that Dr. Abbot's exceptional gifts 
and attainments were pre-eminently helpful. Several of his essays on 


debated passages, appended to the printed reports of our proceedings 
which were forwarded from time to time to the brethren in England, are 
among the most thorough discussions of the sort which are extant, won 
immediate respect for American scholarship in this department, and had 
no small influence in determining that form of the sacred text which will 
ultimately, we believe, find acceptance with all Christian scholars. 

To his distinction as a scholar, Dr. Abbot added rare excellence as 
a Christian. Such chastened sweetness of disposition, such disciplined 
regard for the sensibilities of his associates, such studied generosity in 
debate, such patient deference when overruled, such magnanimous equa- 
nimity in victory as were habitual with him, were never surpassed among 
us. Differing from the rest of us as he did in some of his theological 
tenets, his Christlike temper rendered him a brother beloved, and lends 
a heavenly lustre to his memory. 

We, his survivors, desire to place on record our affectionate tribute 
to his worth, and to offer to his bereaved kindred a tender expression 
of our sympathy. 

At the meeting of the American Oriental Society, held May 7, 
1884, the following minute was adopted, and ordered to be spread 
on the record: — 

The American Oriental Society desires to put on record its sense of 
the great loss sustained by the world of scholars and by this Society in 
the death of Ezra Abbot, D.D., LL.D., Professor of the Criticism and 
Interpretation of the New Testament in the Harvard Divinity School, 
for more than thirty years the faithful Recording Secretary of the 
Society, who has won for himself, as a student of the textual and histor- 
ical criticism of the New Testament, an enviable reputation for exact 
and broad scholarship, and has made contributions of enduring value to 
the department of learning to which he was devoted. 

C. H. Toy, Recording Secretary. 

At a special meeting of the Harvard Biblical Club, held in 
Boston, May 10, 1884, in memory of their late associate, Dr. 
Ezra Abbot, the following minute was adopted : — 

By the death of Professor Ezra Abbot, D.D., LL.D., the Harvard 
Biblical Club has been deprived of one of its original, most useful, and 
most valued members. 

His constancy in attendance in spite of accumulating bodily infirmi- 
ties, his keen and broad interest in everything pertaining to the Sacred 
Scriptures, the thoroughness of his research, the extent and accuracy of 
his knowledge, the clearness and candor of his discussions, his modest 


estimate of himself, and his generous appreciation of the efforts of 
others, render his name for us the synonyme of scholarly and Christian 
worth, — an associate to be beloved, a scholarly example to be imitated, 
a loss to be deplored, a memory to be reverently cherished. 

George H. Whittemore, Secretary. 

At a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 
the following minute was passed: — 

The Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis desires to put upon 
record its deep sorrow at the death of Ezra Abbot, one of the founders 
of the Society, constant in his devotion to its interests, a scholar whose 
contributions added not only to the value of the Society's work, but also 
to the resources of New Testament study throughout the world, a man 
whose purity and nobleness won him the love of all his fellow-members. 

H. G. Mitchell, Secretary. 
The above minute was adopted by a rising vote. 


The circumstance that the present Memorial will find its chief 
circulation among the personal friends of Dr. Abbot will secure 
indulgence, it is hoped, for the insertion of a few of the tributes 
to him uttered in correspondence. Several of the letters which 
follow were written in acknowledgment of the official notifica- 
tion of Professor Abbot's decease. Extracts from others are but 
specimens of the words of appreciation and sympathy which his 
death called forth, — in many cases, too private in their nature to 
appear in print. 

{^Professor John A. Broadus, D.D., Louisville, A^.] 

I ask permission to express to the Faculty of the Divinity School of 
Harvard College my deep sense of loss in the death of Dr. Ezra 
Abbot. As myself a student and teacher in matters pertaining to the 
New Testament, I have long recognized that, in the text-criticism and 
in the literary history of the New Testament, he was facile princeps 
among American scholars. In breadth and exactness of general Biblical 
information, he had few equals in the world. His patience and minute 
accuracy in research commanded universal admiration. His readiness 
to give unstinted help to the literary enterprises of others was some- 
thing rare and beautiful. His conscientiousness in investigation and 
candor in stating the views of all parties showed a noble Christian 


character; and the spirit of true scholarship is seldom so completely 
exemplified. In a single interview with him some ten years ago in his 
study, I was much attracted by his easily pleasant and quietly cordial 

Alas ! we could ill afford to lose him. May the aspiring young 
scholars of our country be stimulated by the loss, not to attempt to fill 
his place, but to find and fill well their own places in the ranks of 
Biblical learning. 

{Thomas Chase, LL.D., President of Haverford College, Penn.'] 

A man of vast stores of erudition in many fields, and in New 
Testament criticism without a peer in America and without a superior 
in Europe, he was a modest gentleman, a generous friend, and a 
humble and devout Christian. The whole world of scholarship feels 
a common loss with the University in this sad and great bereavement. 

[Ex-Chancellor Howard Crosby, D.D., New York.'] 

It is greatly to my regret that my duties in New York will prevent 
my attendance at the funeral of Dr. Ezra Abbot. His exact and 
extensive scholarship and his lovely Christian character endeared him 
to us all, and made all scholars his debtors. In many years of close 
intercourse with Dr. Abbot, I never saw him other than the most 
modest of men, while all looked up to him as ultimate authority in the 
matter of Biblical criticism and research. 

His loss is a national one, for no scholar ever shed more lustre on 
the American name. 

[Professor Timothy D wight, D.D., New Haven.'] 

. . . Those who knew Dr. Abbot, whether they knew him little or 
much, for a longer time or a shorter, have but one remembrance of 
his honest, earnest, sincere, manly, beautiful Christian life. They all 
lovingly tell the same story ; and they all grieve that they themselves 
have lost such a friend, and that the world has lost out of its life such 

[Professor A. C. Kendrick, D.D., LL.D., Rochester, NV.] 

I am distressed at the tidings which your letter conveys to me of the 
death of Professor Abbot. It is the death of a great man whom we 
could ill afford to lose from the ranks of our American and the world's 
Biblical scholarship. For eight years I sat by his side in our Revision 
meetings nearly every month ; and I never found him wanting in learn. 


ing, candor, modesty, gentleness, and excellent scholarly and practical 
judgment. To know him was to love him, and to name him was to 

{Professor Howard Osgood, D,D,, LL.D., Rochester, N. K] 

. . . From the first hour of my meeting Dr. Abbot in the college yard 
some fifteen years ago, my heart has gone out to him ; and I have sat at 
his feet to learn from him with great delight. The noblest qualities of 
manhood — strength, firmness, tenderness, humility, entire self-forget- 
fulness when serving others was concerned — were in him joined with 
the noblest qualities and attainments of the scholar. 

He has been and will be a lofty model for the scholars of America. 
Of learning that was simply marvellous, of firm opinions, he was, above 
all things, fair to others, the soul of honesty, and utterly devoid of the 
pride of scholarship. 

[Professor M. B. Riddle, D.D., Hartford, Conn.'] 

How great a loss this death is to your University and to American 
scholarship the public will soon be told, though few will fully under- 
stand how much the language of the occasion means. 

To Professor Abbot's friends, the loss seems irreparable. No one 
was ever brought into close relations with him in professional studies 
without learning much from him; but, whatever the failure to profit 
by his immense learning, few can have failed to love him for his 
unselfishness, his warm desire to promote the advance of others, his 
sweetness of character and purity of motive. It is a great grief to 
lose such a man out of the circle of one's friends; but it remains a 
privilege to have had him for a friend during years of common labor. 

{Ex-President T. D. Woolsey, D.D., LL.D., New Haven, Conn.] 

. . . My acquaintance with him during our Revision work gave me 
profound respect for him as a man as well as a scholar. ... He was 
indeed a most admirable man, and one whom it has been a great privi- 
lege to know. I think his kindness to everybody who wanted his help 
was unsurpassed by that of anybody I ever met with. . . . He has had 
my full confidence, admiration, and respect beyond most men I ever 

{Dr. Oskar von Gebhardt, Gottingen {now of Berlin).] 

. . . Der Verlust, den die biblische Wissenschaft durch diesen 
Todesfall erlitten hat, ist ein unersetzlicher. Das empfinden mit mir 
alle welche auf diesem Gebiete arbeiten. Die personliche Bekannt- 
schaft des verehrten Mannes war mir versagt ; aber durch brieflichen 


Verkehr hatte ich auch seine personlichen Eigenschaften schatzen 
gelernt. So rufe auch ich ihm aus bewegtem Herzen nach: Have, 
pia anima ! 

[Z?r. Caspar Reni Gregory^ Leipzig.'] 

... In thanking you for the sad missive announcing the death of 
Professor Ezra Abbot, I shall not endeavor to swell the general tribute 
to his unequalled learning, but will only say that it has been my rare 
privilege to enjoy the benefit of his self-sacrificing devotion of that 
learning to further the work of others, and that his death deprives me 
of a constant and proven guide, counsellor, and support. 

{Professor Dr. Adolph Harnack, Giessen.] 

Indem ich fiir die giitige Anzeige des schmerzlichen Verlustes, 
welchen die Harvard University in dem Ableben Ezra Abbots erlitten 
hat, bestens danke, spreche ich zugleich meine herzliche Theilnahme 
aus : der Name Ezra Abbots wird in der Geschichte der biblischen 
Wissenschaft unverganglich sein. 

{Professor W. Sanday, D.D., Oxford.] 

I must write a few words to thank you for your kindness in inform- 
ing me of the death of Dr. Ezra Abbot, and to add one more to the 
many tributes of respect and sorrow which I know that that sad event 
will call forth. My own personal debt to Dr. Abbot is no slight one. 
I owe to him not only kind and encouraging words which came just 
at a time when such words are most valued; but I have also on my 
shelves more than one substantial proof of his generous consideration 
for younger workers in the same field. I am indebted to him for 
making me better acquainted with much admirable work which I am 
afraid might otherwise have escaped me. But the best gift that Dr. 
Abbot could leave behind was that of his own example and character. 
These were deeply impressed on all he wrote both in private and public. 
A more complete absence of all that was insincere and meretricious 
I do not think it has ever been my lot to meet with, or a more single- 
minded desire for truth and conscientious endeavor to obtain it. For 
clearness, accuracy, and precision of detail, I do not think he can have 
had a rival on either side of the Atlantic ; but it was evident that they 
were qualities which were moral as much as intellectual. My sense of 
his loss is compounded of gratitude and admiration, and of the deepest 
regret that such a career should be closed. 


[Professor B. F. Westcott, D.D.., Cambridge.'] 

The news of Dr. Ezra Abbot's death reached me at Edinburgh, and 
added an element of sadness to a commemoration which was full of the 
highest hope and faith. . . . 

It is the simple truth to say that (as far as I know) no scholar in 
America was superior to him in exactness of knowledge, breadth of 
reading, perfection of candor, and devotion to truthfulness of judgment. 
All that is said in the two most interesting papers in the Christian 
Register of his self-sacrifice is justified by my own experience. No eye 
was keener than his, and no one could be more ready to place all his 
powers at the service of others with spontaneous generosity. Such 
men effect far more than they know, and far more than their friends 
know. They keep the tradition of scholarly unselfishness fresh and 
vigorous. They help us to know a liitle better the force of the great 
life by which we are sustained. They teach us to take to ourselves the 
most cheering of promises, and to 'win our souls in patience.' 

Of the extended tributes paid to Dr. Abbot in the public 
journals, the chief, it is believed, will be found in : — 

The Daily Advertiser of March 22. 
The Christian Register of March 27 and April 3. 
The Independent of March 27, April 3, and April 10. 
The Nation of March 27. 

The Literary Worlds Harper'' s Weekly^ the Library Journal^ and 
the Christian Intelligeficer of April 5. 
Unity (Chicago) of April 16. 
The Unitarian Review and the Andover Review for May. 


1848. Use of the word " Deus " in Plautus and Terence, Christian 
Examiner for November, pp. 389-406. 

1852. Notice of Tischendorf's Greek Testament {Editio Lipsiensis 

Secunda, 1849) in the Bibliotheca Sacra (Andover, Mass.) 
for July, pp. 623-628. 

1853. A Classed Catalogue of the Library of the Cambridge High 

School, etc. pp. xvi, 239. Cambridge : John Bartlett. 

1854. Note to an article in the Christian Examiner for July, dis- 

cussing a passage in Justin Martyr's Dial, with Trypho, 
ch. 106. 

1855. He edited with notes or appendixes A Translation of the 

Gospels with Notes, by Andrews Norton. 2 vols. Bos- 
ton : Little, Brown & Co. 

1856. Edited with notes or appendixes (especially pp. 432-82) 

A Statement of Reasons for not believing the Doctrines of 
Trinitarians, etc., by Andrews Norton. Second Edition. 
Boston : American Unitarian Association. 

Three articles on "The Blood of God," Acts x., 28 (in 
^opposition to the Rev. S. W. S. Dutton), in the Christian 
Register for March 22, April 19, April 26. 

Article on "God was manifest in the flesh," I. Tim. iii., 16, 
Christian Register for March 29. 

1857. Articles on MacWhorter's Yahveh Christ, in the Christian 

Register for February 14 and March 21. 

1858. Strictures on Philip Buttmann's Greek Testament (Teubner, 

1856), in the Bibliotheca Sacra for October, pp. 877-882. 

Three articles on (the Doxology in) Rom. ix., 5, in the 

Independent for October 14, October 28, November 18. 

1859. Article on " The Doxology in the .Lord's Prayer," in the 

Daily Advertiser for March 29. 
Article on " Dr. Holmes and the Independent,'' in the 

Christian Register for June 18. 
Notice of Alford's Greek Testament, Vol. I. (New York, 


Harper & Brothers), in the Christian Examiner for July, 
pp. 142, 143. 
i860. Communications to the Christian Register from January 2 1 
to March 3, respecting Dr. Huntington's discussion of 
the Doctrine of the Trinity. Republished as a part of 
the volume entitled The New Discussion of the Trinity. 
Boston, 1867. 

Notice of Lamson's Church of the First Three Centuries^ in 
the Christian Examiner for July, pp. 465-471. 

Revised and enlarged the " Pronouncing Tables of Greek 
and Latin Proper Names" and of "Scripture Proper 
Names " for Worcester's large Dictionary of the Eng- 
lish Language. 
1861. "A Glimpse of Glory " (extracts from Meditations, etc., by 
Andrew Welwood). An article in the Christian Register 
for July 27. 

Article on the reading "only begotten God," in John i., 
18, with particular reference to the statements of Dr. 
Tregelles, Bibliotheca Sacra for October, pp. 840-872. 

1863. " Statement respecting the New Catalogues of the College 

Library," addressed to the " Gentlemen of the Commit- 
tee [appointed by the Board of Overseers] for the Exami- 
nation of the Library," and privately printed July 10. 

1864. "Literature of the Doctrine of a Future Life," etc. (pp. xii, 

224), appended to Alger's Critical History, etc. New 
York : W. J. Widdleton. 

Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living, a revised and corrected 
edition on the basis of Pickering's, the quotations veri- 
fied, references filled out, etc. Little, Brown & Co. 

Jeremy Taylor's Holy Dying (edited in the same manner 
as the above). Little, Brown & Co. 

Contributed (from p. 572, line 10 from bottom, to p. 574, 
2d paragraph) to Dr. F. H. Hedge's Review of Shedd's 
History of Christian Doctrine in the North American Re- 
view for April, p. 567 sqq. 

1865. Notes to the Revised and Enlarged Edition of Lamson's 

Church of the First Three Centuries. Boston : Reissued 
with additional notes by Henry lerson. London, 1875. 

1866. Edited with notes and an appendix a new edition of Orme's 

Memoir of the Controversy respecting the Three Heavenly 
Witnesses, L John v., 7. New York : James Miller. 


1867-70- Co-operated with Prof. H. B. Hackett in preparing the 
American edition (Hurd & Houghton) of Smith's Dic- 
tionary of the Bible. 4 vols. 

1868. Notice of Prof. C. E. Stowe's Origin and History of the 

Books of the Bible, in the North American Review for 

July, pp. 307-314. 

1869. Assisted in editing and printing Dr. George R. Noyes's 

(posthumous) Translation of the New Testament from the 
Greek Text of Tischendorf. Boston : American Unitarian 

1870. Assisted in the preparation of Charles F. Hudson's Greek 

and English Concordance of the New Testament, and added 
an appendix and supplement (containing a collation of 
Tischendorf's eighth edition). Assisted also in editing 
and perfecting the subsequent editions down to that of 
1872. Examination of the distinction between alr'm and iporati as 
given by Trench in his Synonyms of the New Testament, 
North American Review for January, pp. 1 71-189. 
" On the Comparative Antiquity of the Sinaitic and Vatican 
Manuscripts of the Greek Bible " (in opposition to the 
view of Rev. J. W. Burgon), Journ. of Amer. Orient. 
Soc, Vol. X., pp. 189-200. Cf. p. 602. 

1875. "The Late Professor Tischendorf," an article in the Unita- 

rian Review, etc., for March, pp. 217-236. 
On the reading " an only begotten God," or " God only 
begotten," John i., 18. Article (first privately printed 
for the American Bible Revision Committee) in the 
Unitarian Review, etc., for June, pp. 560-571. 
" The Late Dr. Tregelles," an article in the New York In- 
dependent iox July I, 1875. (Reprinted at Plymouth, Eng.) 

1876. On the reading "Church of God," Acts xx., 28. Article 

(first privately printed for the American Bible Revision 
Committee) in the Bibliotheca Sacra for April, pp. 313-52. 

1877. Article on the American Oriental Society (reviewing the 

controversy between Messrs. Whitney and Miiller) in the 
Bibliotheca Sacra for July, pp. 557-562. 
Privately Sprinted (for the American Bible Revision Com- 
mittee) note on John viii., 44. 

1878. Article on "Ancient Papyrus and the Mode of Making 

Paper from It," in the Library Journal for November 


(exposing the current errors respecting the nature of 
the plant and the preparation of writing material from it). 

1878. Article "Septuagint" in Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, 

etc., Vol. IV., pp. 181, 182. 

Article on " The Ne.w Testament Text : The Imperfection 
of the Greek Text of the New Testament from which 
our Common English Version was made and our Present 
Resources for its Correction," Sunday School World 
(Phil.) for October. Republished in Anglo-American 
Bible Revisiofiy New York, 1879. PP- 86-98. 

Reply to Rev. Dr. John A. Todd's strictures on the Greek 
Text of the New Revision. Article in the Christian Intel- 
ligencer for November 2 1 . 

1879. "Reply to the Letter of Dr. [John A.] Todd." Two 

articles in the Christian Intelligencer for April 17 and 
April 24. 
" I. John v., 7, and Luther's German Bible." Article in the 
Christian Intelligencer for May 15. 

1880. "The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel: External Evi- 

dences." Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, pp. 104. 

1881. "The Gospels in the New Revision." Three articles in 

the (Phil.) Sunday School Times for May 28, June 4, June 
II. That of May 28 was reprinted in Dr. Kennedy's Ely 
Lectures on the Revision. Appendix ii. (London, 1882.) 

Notice of Westcott and Hort's edition of the Greek Testa- 
ment in the Sunday School Times ^ November 5. Re- 
printed in large part in the Ely Lectures (as above), pp. 

Article on Dr. Gregory's Prolegomena to Tischendorf's 
last critical edition of the Greek Testament, in the Final 
Issue (April-July) of the Harvard Register^ pp. 322, 323. 

1882. " On the Construction of Titus ii., 13," in the Journal of 

the Society of Biblical Lit, and Exegesis for June and 
December, pp. 3-19. Also " On the Construction of 
Romans ix., 5," ibid,^ pp. 88-154. (Cf. Journal^ etc., 
for June and December, 1882. p. 160 et seq.) 
Article "Bible Text: The New Testament" (by Tischen- 
dorf and Gebhardt) in the Schaff-Herzog Cyclopaedia, 
revised and supplemented. 

1883. "A New Authority on Demonology." Article in the /«^^ 

pendent for March i. 


1883. "An Exegetical Note " (on Matt, xxii., 14). In the Chris. 

ttan /Register ior Fehru3.Ty 22. 

1884. " Recent Discussions of Romans ix., 5," in Journal of the 

Soc. of Biblical Lit. and Exegesis for June and December, 
1883. pp. 90-112. 
"Prolegomena, Pars prior," to the eighth larger edition 
of Tischendorf's Greek Testament, his name being asso- 
ciated with that of the author, Dr. C. R. Gregory, upon 
the title-page. 
1884. (Posthumous) Extract from a private letter to Dr. Isaac H. 
Hall : Gerhard von Mastricht (not van Maestricht) the 
proper spelling of the name of the Greek Testament 
editor designated by the letters " G. D. T. M. D." In 
the Unitarian Review for August, pp. 169-173. 

His aid in the preparation of many other publications is 
acknowledged by their authors. Among them may be mentioned : 

Barrows, S. J., The Doom of the Majority. Boston, 1883. 

Bissell, Dr. E. C., The Apocrypha, etc. (in Lange). 

Gary, Prof. Geo. L., Introduction to the Greek of the New Testa- 
ment. Andover, 1878. 

Huidekoper, Y., Judaism at Rome. New York, 1877. 

Huidekoper, F., Indirect Testimony to the Genuineness of the 
Gospels. New York, 1879. 

Mitchell, Dr. Edward C., Critical Handbook, etc. London Relig- 
ious Tract Society (also Andover, Mass.). 

Schaff, Dr. Ph., History of the Christian Church. Revised Edi- 
tion. Vol. I., 1882. 

Schaff, Dr. Ph., Companion to the Greek Testament, and the Eng- 
lish Version, 1883. 

Schodde, George H., The Book of Enoch, etc., 1882. 

The following titles were discovered too late to be inserted in 
their proper place in the preceding list : — 

1874. A Report on the Bucknell Library, Crozer Theological 
Seminary. Philadelphia : James B. Rodgers & Co. 

1877. A Review of Smith & Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biog- 
raphy, etc., Vol. I., in the Nation for Dec. 27, p. 399, sq. 


From more exact information, received since the preceding pages 
were printed, it appears that the statement (on page 43) respecting 
Professor Abbot's invitation to take charge of the Prolegomena goes 
too far. He was, at one stage, the choice of certain of the executors, 
and (although he never received the formal invitation) was approached 
upon the subject ; but, even had he not instantly declined, his distance 
from the press would have been regarded as fatal to the arrangement. 
(See the Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1876, p. 181.) J. H. T. 




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