Chester David Hartranft: Memorial Addresses (1915)

Memorial Addresses

UPON THE LATE

Chester David Hartranft

President of the Hartford Theological Seminary

BY

Dean Melancthon Williams Jacobus

AND

Professor Waldo Selden Pratt

February Ninth and May Twenty-fifth

Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen

DR. HARTRANFT died at his home in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, on December 30, 1914, and was buried there on January 2, 1915, the funeral services being conducted by Pastor Fischer of Holy Trinity Church and Dr. Elmer E. S. Johnson, who for more than ten years has been associated in the work of investigation and publication of the life, writings and times of Schwenckfeld.

Owing to breaks in communication occasioned by the European war, the news of this sad event did not reach Hartford until January 20th. The next day somewhat detailed notices of Dr. Hartranft’s life appeared in the Hartford papers, with several brief personal tributes.

On the evening of February 9th a simple service of commemoration was held at the Theological Seminary. President Mackenzie opened the service with a few words describing the remarkable impression which Dr. Hartranft’s personality made upon those who knew him. Prayer was offered by Dr. Rockwell Harmon Potter, pastor of the Center Church, of which Dr. Hartranft was a member. Dean Jacobus then gave the address which follows, aiming to reflect the personal feelings of the Faculty and to reveal to the students somewhat of the appreciation of his character and life in this institution felt by his colleagues and pupils.

On the afternoon of May 25th, in connection with the Eighty-first Anniversary of the Seminary, a formal Memorial Service was held, at which the address here published was given by Professor Pratt. In this service, at which President Mackenzie presided, the Rev. John A. Hawley, President of the Alumni Association, participated. Imbedded in the service were the hymns “Hark, the sound of holy voices” and “Those eternal bowers,” and also two organ meditations, the Larghetto from Schumann’s First Symphony and Gounod’s setting of the words, “Et absterget Deus omnem lachrymam ab oculis eorum.”

In the evening of the same day, at the Alumni Dinner, further tributes were paid by Rev. Dr. Charles S. Mills, of Montclair, N. J.; President Charles S. Nash, of Pacific Theological Seminary; Dr. Ernest C. Richardson, Librarian of Princeton University; the Rev. Herman F. Swartz, Associate Secretary of the Congregational Home Missionary Society; and Professor G. Walter Fiske, Dean of Oberlin Theological Seminary.

As the addresses here printed did not undertake to include an account of Dr. Hartranft’s life as a whole, a sketch of the main facts is appended at the end of this pamphlet. 


A FACULTY TRIBUTE

DEAN JACOBUS

OUR gathering tonight is a very natural one. And it is its naturalness which perhaps makes it unusual.

Were it the usual one, it would be to recite the accomplishments of a great life—the great life of one who had wrought a great idea into an institution, and so doing had brought the institution into a place of greatness through the idea, or it would be to portray the influences of a remarkable personality—the personality of one who had molded a generation of teachers and generations of pupils after something of its own type, and so created forces which, however feebly reproduced, became part of their being and living, or it might even be to display the acquisitions of a scholarship that, comprehensive and intensive as it was, hid its colossal stature behind the gentle majesty of a humble-minded simplicity that proclaimed to the world but little of what it had discovered.

We could tonight dwell at length upon all these things, and, unusual as the facts would be, make our gathering of the usual kind in memory of a great mind, a great life, a great soul. But that sort of a service belongs to the institution with which this great mind was connected, as an institution, and this institutional service, which we could not omit with a real regard to the educational world in which he lived and had his being, will come in its time, and will record, not only for ourselves, but for all who wrought with him in the fields of learning and in the tasks of training, his great and individual career.

Our gathering to-night is not this usual one—even of these unusual things—it is the natural one—all the more natural because enspirited by such unusual inspiration. We are here to close a chapter in our lives. We who sat at the feet of this great teacher, who sat at the side of this remarkable leader, who were confronted by his learning, who were compelled by his person, who had revealed to us in one and the same life complexity and simplicity, in one and the same soul tenderness and unrelenting purpose, who were swept along with visions which he showed to us, but which we could but poorly comprehend, and at the same time were held fast by clouds which we all too keenly realized hovered over him, but which he never betrayed to us—we are here to say, “It is all over.”

We doubtless failed to understand it, certainly we failed to appreciate it, while it was with us. We were young. This sort of a life and character and personality had never come within our experience. It was confusing, perplexing, inspiring, depressing. We spent our time as in a story, ever receiving impressions and knowing not how to analyze them and adjust them to ourselves, until the tale was ended. And now we have come to close the book.

Naturally, it cannot be but with joy and sadness that we look upon this ended life which we spent together—joy that such a life was possible for us, sorrow that it was so poorly entered into by us.

I imagine that those of us who were privileged to be under the instruction of this great teacher have found these mingled feelings very really present with us. It was something strange to be led into the history of the Church as he led us. Very quickly it became to us a new history and a new Church, and we wondered at what was disclosed to us. That is our joy. Our sorrow is that we failed to estimate its value to us at the time—that we complained because we did not get over all the ground we wanted to; that in the presence of this inspiration of the study we had so much of a merely vocational idea of what it should be that we considered it of more worth to us to cover the centuries of the Church than to discover its life.

It was a new thing to be taught Theology as he taught it; to be brought into contact with the great minds that had thought upon God’s revelation of His will to man; to have disclosed to us the flooding currents of truth and error, which had swept through and over the Church’s thinking; to have detected for us the dragon’s trail in the thought of the day and to have our vision lifted to theophanies that were round about us.

That surely was and still is our joy. But whether we realized it then or not, it is, I suspect, our sorrow now that at the time all this was, to us, such a mere intellectual entertainment that we discounted so much of what it might have been to our souls by making so much of what it was to our minds; that we conceded so much to the profoundness of the learning of the man and at times were so irritated by its, to us, unfathomable depths that we missed the beauty and simplicity of its spirit, which sought to bring us into communion with the heart of God; that we were seeking so much for our sermons and found so little for ourselves.

Some of us did find what he wanted us to find—for our personal living, for our scholarly careers. Some of us go back to those days to discover there the secret stirrings of the soul that remade our lives. Some of us got from him the first disclosures of scientific study that had ever come to us and that without him would doubtless never have dawned upon us. With those who were so blessed, joy to-day far out-measures sorrow; but with us all, unless I mistake the confessions which have often been made in my hearing, there is that element of regret that with all our admiration of him, all our pride in him, we knew him so little in the way he longed most to be known.

And what shall I say of those of us who sat with him in the administrative counsels of the Seminary? There again, as we look back upon those years, it is the mingling of satisfaction and regret. We were conscious of a great leader in our midst, a leader who was possessed of great ideas and was faced toward great ideals. We saw the ideas realizing themselves in reconstructions of the curriculum—correlating its courses, enriching its contents, breaking the way for all seminaries in new fields of study, upsetting the traditions of all theological training with new encyclopædias of the sciences. And we had imposed upon us more definitely with every year the ideals which lifted themselves before his vision. To say that it was a satisfaction to live in the atmosphere of such a leadership is hardly the right confession. It was an exhilaration, and it is our joy to recount it to-day.

When we so lived and planned and wrought together it was still the day of conventional theological education, and we were a small seminary, but little known outside of our portion of the country—save as our professors left us for better positions. To be in such a little place and to work with such a great leader, who year by year kept working out his plans, and realizing them, so that others had to think about them—and follow them, however little they might exalt the source from which they came—this was life, and in such living we had a joy.

But, if we will be honest with ourselves, it is with us who were his colleagues, even more than with us who were his pupils, a sorrow that, with our ignorance of what he knew and our blindness to what he saw, we resented so much of what he proposed. We felt he was ahead of his time; he doubtless was. We believed we were practical; we doubtless were. We were convinced that it was our duty to oppose some of his schemes; doubtless it was. But as we sit in quietness with the memory of those years, I imagine there comes to us the sadness of realizing how little we measured the pain of soul we caused him by our honestly conceived and so often tactlessly executed criticisms. No man who thinks for the age ahead but must live beyond the age at hand. And no such thinking and living but must stress and strain the practical conservatism of the day and generation in which it is carried on. Those who are of the generation and day in which they live and are nothing more must fail to appreciate the forward thinking and living, and failing to appreciate it, must oppose it. This is not only natural, but necessary; for this new age thought and life cannot come to realization without opposition, and the opposition cannot come without pain and sorrow to the soul of him who thinks and lives ahead. We doubtless did the duty of our old day—we doubtless did our duty for the newer day; but we know now—as we see his ideals coming to their fruition in this institution he and all of us loved—we know now the suffering we so often brought to his soul.

But there is one more memory which has come to us in these past days, perhaps the most impressive memory of all, the memory of the man—the Christian soul, so grand, so simple, so towering above us, so tender toward us, such a master of us, such a brother with us, living life with head up-lifted to the Heaven of God and yet with heart bowed down with a sorrow which he carried year by year—a sorrow so sacred that there was no one who stood not bareheaded in its presence, and yet no one who dared cross its threshold with the sympathy which welled up in his own heart. What life was to this princely heart—life crowded with sun and cloud, life borne along on the wind and beaten back with tired feet, life lifted up and crushed—none of us could ever know. But you will bear me witness that our knowledge that this was the life he had to live and from the living of which we were helpless to relieve him, brought him in those moments when he sat beside us to guide us in our problems, to counsel us in our difficulties, to comfort us in our sorrows, nearer to us—strangely nearer to us—than have come some of the truest friends we have ever had.

Now it is all over—this chapter of our life is ended—this book of our experience is closed. Never after such teaching will we need quite such another teacher. Not now, after his leadership has brought us through the throes of a struggling institutional life, will we need quite such another leader. None of us but hopes that with God’s mercy there are yet years for us to search after truth; but as we search we will carry with us the inspirations to searching which we learned of him. None of us but knows that, with the leader upon whom his mantle has fallen, a glorious day is opening up for our work, but we will not be counted lacking in devotion to him who is with us if, as we master the task of our new service to the kingdom, we still remember the visions of it which we got from him who is gone.

Surely never again will we meet quite such a royal soul—a soul that made the Christian life such  a princely thing, that seemed to gather the profoundest philosophy of God into the simplest philosophy of life, that seemed forever to make impossible that folly of the marketplace that divorces theology from religion—a soul that seemed to carry the life of the kingdom from ages past into the age in which it lived, and through the molding of them give us prophecy of the age that was coming, a soul that seemed to live in all the ages without narrowness, or smallness, or prejudice, or pride, a soul that loved the stateliness of the Church, and yet was wedded to the strenuousness of its social mission, a soul that struggled for the evangelization of this its own land, struggled for it with a yearning love that would not have hesitated to lay down life itself upon its battlefields, and yet moved out with all the enthusiasm of a soldier of the Cross to conquer the nations of the world to Christ, a soul that lived with sorrow as with its daily life, that had communion with God, while the clouds of the mysteries of the divine dealings encompassed it, a soul that with all the mastery of its grief never suffered need, or weakness, or sorrow to fall unheeded by the way.

We have learned much in our comradeship with this life. It is a strange and wonderful experience we have had in the presence of this soul. The story is ended, but not its lesson. The book is closed, but the spirit that moved through it has wrought its work upon us, and the vision that it gave us is forever now a part of our own seeing into the things of God and of his Christ. AMEN.


MEMORIAL ADDRESS

PROFESSOR PRATT

SOME twenty-five years ago a great poet, in his eightieth year and with his face turned full toward “the boundless deep,” expressed the hope that there be

“..no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea—
..no sadness of farewell
When I embark.”

There are those in connection with whose death it is not easy to quote these manly words. But to-day, as here we seek to review the life and mission of our late President, there must be no outcry of lamentation. For us there can be only an inexpressible gratitude for the gift of such a life, and a vast sense of triumph as we think what it symbolizes and foretells. We cannot altogether escape the shadow of personal deprivation as we reflect that our eyes will not again look into his eyes, that, our hands will not again clasp his, that we shall not again be greeted by that memorable voice and smile. But here, surely, “death is swallowed up in victory.” The candle of earthly life has indeed gone out. But across the darkness is written the ancient message, “They that be wise shine like the brilliance of the sky, and they that turn many to the right as the everlasting stars.” In the presence of such a life, with its boundless amplitude of achievement and its superb disclosure of immutable transcendencies, “sorrow and sighing flee away,” and we catch ourselves instinctively humming in our hearts the exultant songs of the innumerable hosts of heaven.

Nearly every one in this presence doubtless has a vivid memory of the time when first he saw the great Doctor. Most of you were pupils of his. You can recall with what peculiar stirring of the heart you came to this Seminary, were inducted into its life, and met its several professors. Many of you had your first realizing sense of him in his class-room—what is now the Students’ Social Room. All such remember the stupefying impress of his towering personality, his prodigious conceptions, his volcanic urgency, his unheard-of rhetoric and vocabulary. As the days wore on, you began to adjust yourselves to what had been utterly unexampled, and to pass from astonishment to wonder, from wonder to admiration, from admiration to an affection that not only grew, but put forth leaves and blossoms.

I wish that I had some tangible memento of my own first encounter. It was nearly thirty-five years ago, in this very room, when as a visitor I was brought to see the building and to try its little organ. We lit a few of the old gas-jets—just enough to find our way. Into that half-light came silently, from his nearby study, the tall, stalwart professor, with his eagle-like face, his piercing but sympathetic eyes, his crown of jet-black hair; and presently, as I mounted timidly upon the organ-bench, this striking figure stood back, in the shadow mostly, but with every feature of form and countenance clear. It was a scene for a Rembrandt, with its mystic chiaroscuro, its vague hint (from the place) of a Holy of Holies, and its prophetic and priestly personality on the edge of the shadow.

Of course, as I proceed to-day, you will see that I must speak from a point of view that is not quite yours. I was never Dr. Hartranft’s formal pupil, though I count him, on the whole, my best teacher.

I happened to be, if you will, the slender end of the wedge which he drove into the Seminary’s ancient form, the first permanent excrescence upon the instructional pentagon which had been ‘traditional, the unwitting protagonist in a drama of reconstruction. Thus, like others later, I came to be one of his acolytes, called to minister under him in varied mysteries, at first but slightly understood, but of whose depths he made steady disclosures. During all but the first four of his twenty-five years in Hartford I was allowed to call myself in some sense his colleague. The immense distance between us was bridged by his generous and gracious affection, until, owing to sundry circumstances, official and personal, in certain ways, I came to stand nearest to him and to be his deputy.

For at least fifteen years we had daily discussion over every detail of administration, especially after 1892, when I became the senior professor.

I think that he never left the city without charging me to act in his place during his absence.

I refer to these personal relations simply to show why it is natural that to-day, especially at this Alumni gathering, I should speak almost wholly of his function as the maker of the new Hartford Seminary, rather than of his life and character as a whole, or even of his singular power as investigator and teacher. Others have already lifted these latter topics into view. I must try to speak of other matters, delicate and difficult as they obviously are.

Dr. Hartranft came here from his New Brunswick pastorate in January, 1878. He was then somewhat over thirty-eight years old. He had behind him certain providential preparations, which we may well recall.

One was his sturdy Teutonic ancestry, with diverse roots reaching back into the virility of Silesia on the east and of the Rhenish Palatinate on the west, and with an almost contradictory mixture of Reformation tendencies, the one from Schwenckfeld the pre-reformer, the other from Luther himself, both strengthened and purified in the eighteenth century by the fire of actual persecution.

He had the blessing of a boyhood in the country, some twenty-five miles north of Philadelphia, where his father had a prosperous milling business. This was followed by many years in the city itself, where in 1856 he was graduated from the famous High School, and in 1861 from the still more famous University. In these formative days 

the vigor and versatility of his mind made him a diligent student and also an acknowledged leader. His original ambition was to be a jurist. Then his athletic and commanding gifts almost sent him into the regular army by way of West Point. Then his scholarship made him a lecturer upon Anglo-Saxon and Early English before he was out of the University. Somewhere here came the devotion to music which accompanied all his later occupations. Then he began to set his face toward the limitless domains of history in all its ramifications.

Into these aspirations, mostly scholastic, broke upon him at twenty the heavenly voice that drew him into the Dutch Reformed Church, and then sent him to its Seminary at New Brunswick and on into fourteen years in the pastorate. His whole post-graduate career was one long process of incessant enrichment, not only in historic and philosophic knowledge and in manifold practical experience, but in spiritual insight and in high Christian enthusiasm.

Early in this period, in 1864, lay the founding of his happy and brilliant home, the coming of his five children; and then, just as he crossed the threshold of his life here, the pitiful gathering of those domestic burdens and sorrows that were to be as the torture of martyrdom to his sensitive spirit.

It is not clear exactly how the eyes of this Seminary were turned toward him, or by what reasoning its managers were led to discern in him the teacher they wanted. It seems almost certain that in some way they knew of one or two addresses which he gave in 1876 and 1877, and which had been printed. Surely, if one will look these over now, he will see how strikingly they exhibited the man, the scholar and the educational statesman, ripe and ready for greater things than he had yet known.

The first of these papers which I have seen is in the form of a sermon, prepared in 1876 as part of a notable volume of discourses issued by the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in connection with the Centennial of the United States. Its topic is “The Importance of Cherishing a Historic Spirit.” Here the very first paragraph strikes full and square upon what I conceive to be the central feature of Dr. Hartranft’s entire work as student and educator.

Another paper was an address delivered before the Alumni of the New Brunswick Seminary in June, 1877, on “The Aims of a Theological Seminary.” If viewed in all its relations of time and place, this was nothing short of phenomenal, or, if you like, catastrophic, since it enunciated views of the ministry and its education that even now would be considered novel in most quarters, if not revolutionary.

There was perhaps a third paper, of which, in spite of much effort, I have been unable to get even the title. It was apparently given in Detroit, but just when and before what body, I do not know. There is a credible tradition, however, that this address attracted somewhat general notice in different circles.

It is hard not to dwell on the detail of these addresses. Their style is strikingly rich and beautiful, and they abound in epigrams and quotable passages. Their sweep of view, of course, is immense, and the affluence of reference and suggestion extreme. But, even to the ordinary mind, they are clear and cogent. At all events, they illustrate the evidence which led our Trustees to put their finger on this man as the man for this Seminary. They also enable us to understand how and why, when the call came, its coming awoke in Dr. Hartranft’s spirit a tumultuous surge of hope and aspiration. Here was the chance to teach the history wherein for years he had lived and moved and had his being, and to build himself into an institution unfettered by traditionalism. We have testimony as to the glowing enthusiasm and consecration with which he accepted.

We must remember, however, that he was summoned to Hartford only to succeed Dr. Childs as Professor of Church History. He was to be simply one angle in what I have called the instructional pentagon—which, by the way, at that moment was defective at one corner. But his advent introduced elements that were bound to disturb the static equilibrium. Though he had never been abroad, he had a familiarity with advanced European scholarship that none of his colleagues could quite match. His field was the historical, whereof in a sense other fields of learning are sections, and which, at least, compels a comprehensive breadth. Above all was the innate power of his personality, which was infinitely idealistic, originative, creative, though veiled behind a spirit profoundly humble and a manner often reticent and unobtrusive.

It is evident that at once he became a leader. It is not true that he really aspired to dominate or control, for he was wholly devoid of the common lust for sovereignty or conspicuousness. But his mind moved incessantly upon lofty, majestic planes, and dwelt in communion with commanding conceptions. By these conceptions his whole being had been mastered, and inevitably they were projected through him into the mastery of others. He felt himself to be the mouthpiece of truths which he did not originate—perhaps did not adequately comprehend—but which were evident enough and sublime enough to command universal respect and allegiance. This clear objectivity of conviction protected him from the charge of self-assertion or self-seeking. There was never a situation in which he would not have gladly retired into the background, if only the truth as he saw it was exalted. Practically, however, leadership was thrust upon him, since no one else had his vision or his patience or his faith.

One feature of his conception of an educational institution appeared at once. At the Anniversary of 1878 he was appointed Librarian, in addition to his teaching functions. The number of volumes then was less than 7,000, and their adequacy in representing theological science was small indeed. How pitiful it must have seemed to him as compared with his own private library or with that at New Brunswick, then the third largest Seminary library in the country! Just as the year before he had told the New Brunswick alumni how great increases there were imperative, so here he not only gave unstinted attention to the tiresome details of proposed purchases, but instilled such enthusiasm into those who could give that in 1884, when he ceased to be titular Librarian, the Library contained 42,000 volumes—more than six times what it had been six years earlier. And all through succeeding years this arm—or, rather, heart—of the Seminary’s intellectual life was exceeding precious in his sight. In 1888 the Librarian became a full member of the Faculty, as he has been ever since. In 1903, when Dr. Hartranft resigned, the inventory showed 83,000 volumes—fully twelve times the figure in 1878. Most of this enormous increase came by the liberality of Mr. Newton Case, who, before his death in 1889, provided for the erection of the noble building which we have now enjoyed for a quarter-century.

Another feature of Dr. Hartranft’s conception also appeared at once. He was born with a gift for music, and this gift was so diligently cultivated as to bring him when only twenty-two the first of his degrees as Doctor. At New Brunswick not only did he build up a fine choir in his church and organize recitals there, but about 1870 he founded a Conservatory in whose faculty were many men later famous, like Dr. Leopold Damrosch and Samuel P. Warren. He was himself a competent player on the organ and the violin, besides having years of experience as a choral conductor. Hence it is not strange that at once he set about developing musical interests here, including both instruction in the Seminary and the formation of a public choral society.

His urgency in this direction involved much more than the ordinary notion that it is useful for ministers to know how to sing. It was more than a shrewd guess that magnifying music might have advertizing value. It was a definite item in a consistent and far-reaching policy regarding the scope of a theological institution. Its realization here from 1881 onward much facilitated later innovations, for thus various precedents were established regarding new subjects, the graded advance of instructors to the professorate, and even the inclusion of laymen in the board of instruction.

I have chosen to mention these first two steps simply by way of illustration. We cannot take time to identify and remark upon the whole list of advances that followed, slowly during the first ten years, but, after Dr. Hartranft was made President in 1888, with cumulating acceleration. The story has often been told, never with sharper characterization or warmer sympathy than by Dr. Strong and Professor Gillett at the celebration in 1898 of his twentieth anniversary in service.

In view of these past summaries and of the appreciations publicly expressed here and elsewhere during recent months, I am impelled to attempt another point of view, and to dwell not so much upon outward happenings as upon certain inner characteristics of this great man that have grown upon me, especially in these later years. Of course, it is not for me, with my petty plumb-line, to fathom the depths of that extraordinary mind—the most capacious and indefatigable, the most virile and dynamic, that we have ever known. For purposes of complete description that mind is as hopeless as the ocean and as mysterious as the heavens on a starry night. We can only make some little notes upon special aspects and a few visible operations.

The entire circuit of Dr. Hartranft’s mental undertakings was controlled by his conception of Theology as “the queen of the sciences.” Theology, for him, was the science of God and His manifestations, so far as knowable by men. In this definition was posited a gigantic view of the entire universe of things and life, past, present and future, as the tangible expression of the personal nature and will of God—an expression in which there is no valid separation between various alleged or assumed domains, such as Creation and Providence, or Nature and Grace, or the Physical and the Spiritual, or the Secular and the Sacred, or Science and Religion. However useful for dialectic or other reasons, such distinctions are superficial. His mind rested always upon the principle that every fact of observation or experience, every event, every person, every institution—in short, everything that can be or can be thought—demands ultimately to be related to the original, supereminent and final fact of God. Hence the supreme object of knowledge is God as revealed through things, persons and history. This is Theology, which thus is seen to be not a science, but the science, not one of a series and separable from its companions, but the all-embracing science of sciences.

A School of Theology, then, for him, was ideally an institution where this principle of thought is not only asserted and defended, but actually practised educationally. If he had had his way, such a school would have been the biggest university that ever was set up or even imagined. It would have included every discipline that has been seriously undertaken—physical, technical, psychological, social, religious, philosophical. It would have stretched all the way from the regions of absolute reasoning and speculation to the most pragmatic of vocational trainings, whether mechanical, economic, artistic, political or sociological. But it would not be a mere pile of distinct and warring elements, not an aggregation of independent units. It would be rather a truly organic and unified out-growth of a single imperial conception—the conception of the world as God’s world and of man as both literally and potentially the child of God. The way in which he held this view was so far removed from the conventions of religious thought that one almost needed to pass through a special education before it could be grasped. This tremendous principle was the basis of all Dr. Hartranft’s practical action. Doubtless it had developed gradually in his mind, and there it always remained an uncompleted and uncompletable hyperbolic curve. But he had surely traced it far, and his one object in life was to sweep others into the track or orbit which he believed had been plotted for him and for them by the Supreme Designer.

No one knew better than he that his view was an ideal, the full attainment of which, under present conditions, was impossible. But, here as everywhere, his impulse was not to be turned aside by apparent difficulties or allow himself to become entangled in contradictory expediencies.            His views were often called “visionary” in a satirical sense. But it is not clear that they were as much so as some thought. For he had a singular power of understanding men and things and the trend of events, especially as illumined and set in perspective by the light of the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, what was his thought but a practical application of the essential ideality of that Gospel?

He took up his work here with infinite zest because he held that a Seminary is the natural center for the reconstruction of education on genuinely Christian lines, and because he sighted afar chances here for striking innovations. He stood in vital sympathy with the Seminary as it then was and with its whole past history. As a teacher, he was prepared to do anything, whether or not included in his department. As a counselor, he was eager to understand all his colleagues and to adapt himself to their views. As an organizer, he sought to propose only what at the moment gave promise of substantial progress on a high plane. But he never lost that quality of daring statesmanship that marked him off from all lesser workers.

Keeping always in mind the unquestionable fact, however hard for his contemporaries or critics to appreciate, that Dr. Hartranft was, as nearly as it is possible for any man to be, devoid of personal ambition, let us now try to say something of his applications of the general principle that has been stated.

One point relates to the nature of scholarship. Here he held firmly to the canon that nothing is ascertained unless derived from the primary sources, so far as these are accessible. He had only pity or contempt for those who aspired to be called scholars whose knowledge was only secondary or tertiary—or worse. He did not insist that we should begin absolutely de novo in all subjects, without regarding matters already in common stock. But he did insist that no true scholar can be formed without using the process of original research on so large a scale as to be perfectly familiar with its spirit, methods and technique, so as to be able to have recourse to it at any moment, and so as to detect its presence or absence in the work of those who are called “authorities.” A student, a teacher, a preacher, for him, was only a tyro and dabster who does not know anything about sources and is not skillful in arriving at his own conclusions from them. In short, he was a disciple—and an apostle, too—of the modern doctrine of scientific method in an intense form.

A second point needs to be set close to this. He held that the specialism engendered by the habit of research must be constantly rectified by another habit, that of reaching out after rounded system in all topics and after the relations that link topics together. Though recognizing that ultimate definitions and classifications can be reached only when inductive reasoning has done its perfect work—and so are last and not first in ideal order—he yet urged the value of adopting provisional general schemes, of incessantly improving them, of living mentally in their light and atmosphere, so as to escape the short-sightedness and distortion of over-specialization.

Still a third point is to be noted. He held that the great bulk of truth has been and is being progressively revealed by God, and is not static in nature, but genetic. Hence came his tremendous emphasis upon approaching all subjects not deductively, but inductively, not dogmatically, but historically. Here he parted company from many of the traditions of theological education, not because he disagreed with accepted conclusions, but because he believed that the mental approach was faulty and begot spiritual arrogance.

These points explain his prompt, unceasing and insistent emphasis upon Encyclopædia and Methodology as the base of all pedagogical system, and upon injecting the vital blood of historical sympathy into every branch of discipline. So far as he had an ambition in the Seminary, it was to be seated in the chair of Encyclopædia and Methodology, rather than even that of Church History in the technical sense. When called, as he was, to take part in the Exegetical, the Dogmatic and the Practical departments, he sought always to apply to them precisely the same principles that he had first carried to high potency in the department of History. His reliance upon research and his yearning after comprehensiveness involved a degree of contradiction. The one fastened microscopically upon minute details; the other peered out into limitless spaces as with a telescope. One called for endless drudgery; the other spread its wings exultingly. But these two principles of scholarship, with the third, that of a prevailingly historical approach and expectation, were all closely interwoven in his mind. Their interdependence and obligation arose from his conception of the relation of the human mind to its objects, if controlled by a Christian spirit.

The processes of the universe, including the unfolding life of man, were to him a majestic revelation of God—not a pantheistic embodiment, but a declaration through media ordained of Him. Dr. Hartranft’s passionate devotion to this conception of revelation in the broadest sense was of much the same moral texture as that of our fathers to the literal Bible as the Word of God. The larger view was in a way born of the smaller, for it rested upon the teachings of Christ. Under this larger view it is the supreme duty and privilege of man to apprehend, scrutinize and appropriate into character and conduct all that God has thus made known of Himself and His purposes in whatever way. To do this he must exert his mental and moral faculties to the utmost, first in observation, analysis and definition, and then in synthesis and comprehension. Neither extreme of this complex process of appropriation can be neglected. Without research, generalization is vague, conjectural, subject to prejudice. Without comprehensiveness, investigation becomes petty, ill-balanced, subject to perversion. And both processes must be deeply historical, since carried on by a mind which is itself growing, in a universe of men and things which is always in flux or evolution—both the student and his subject being part of a vivid drama of expression of the eternally living God.

In a sense, these canons of scholarship are commonplaces of scientific method. But there was something distinctive in Dr. Hartranft’s personal application of them to Theology. For him they were not essential necessities of the human mind, properties of the mental instrument or of the observing agent, which are self-discovered. They were accepted by him as predetermined and pre-arranged designs of the divine mind in its location of His children in His world. Putting these mental processes in operation, then, was not so much a satisfaction of logical instincts or a device for securing useful ends, as the spiritual response of the child of God to his Father’s voice. Scholarship was of the very essence of religion. Without this appropriating effort, according to the measure of one’s abilities, spirituality was almost inconceivable. Thus he would identify study with service, and culture with worship. In short, in Dr. Hartranft’s conception we see a prodigious and splendid reaction against the provincialism of disciplines in ordinary education, which war against each other as the so-called nations of the world still war against their brethren and fellow-heirs in the kingdom of God.

Let us look for a moment at the working of these ideals as regards the evolution of the curriculum and the faculty. Dr. Hartranft’s hope centered in the gradual gathering of an instructional force that should represent many of the topics that are essential or desirable. But he always worked from curriculum to professors, not from professors to curriculum. His mind focussed upon an organic, progressive, unified system, of which professors should be exponents and promoters. The Seminary in his thought was a big constructive enterprise—a business, if you will—having a possible maximum of efficiency, dependent, first of all, on the superiority of its plan and inner structure, for the carrying on of which the right agents must be discovered or raised up. He was ceaselessly working on that central problem of plan and organization. He had small care whether what was adopted was called his plan, or even exactly corresponded to his notions. But he was determined that every one in the governing bodies should appreciate that you cannot have a strong, effective, fruitful educational institution unless you adopt the best known system of internal articulation, so that the course of study shall be vital, advancing by intelligible stages, interlocking with itself at every step, and yet deploying systematically in a variety of directions. To this system all professors, including himself, were incidental. This, you observe, is the reverse of the ideal that often seems to prevail—that of yoking together as many distinguished or popular men as possible, and then trying to invent topics for them to teach. Such a way of building a curriculum and a faculty, he probably would have said, produces pedagogical architecture like that of the squatter’s hut, with its bizarre union of refuse stone, old boards and tin cans.

In his urgency about curriculum questions, he was ready enough to utilize the time-honored division of main disciplines into five large groups—though he would make four out of the original five, and would add Experiential Theology. But he held that no one of them was at all feasible for a single professor to carry. Accordingly appeared his call for the subdivision of departments into major sections. He availed himself of what was most practical in executing this subdivision, but he never lost sight of certain leading ideas in it, most of which clearly showed his long training as a historical investigator. As time went on, and if means had been forthcoming, he would have had a faculty of twenty-five or more in the Seminary, not to speak of the specializing schools that he would have radiated from it. In order to make room for the work provided, he early made clear that his ideal was a four-year course, with a preparatory year prefixed, so as to bridge over the chasm between the ordinary college course and the point where the theological curriculum ought to begin. This, he contended, was no more than what is really demanded in several other professions. That his desire for subdivision bore fruit is shown by the fact that the faculty of four into which he entered in 1878 had become in 1903 one of thirteen professors or associate professors, not to speak of at least as many lecturers and lesser instructors besides.

In the quest for professors he looked first for alumni and for young men. He was not at all rigid on these points, but he held that the chances for homogeneity and corporate enthusiasm were greatest along these lines. Out of 26 names added to the routine board of instruction during his twenty-five years, just half were from the alumni. Of the 23 of them whose ages are known to me, 9 were under thirty, and 10 more were under forty; and the average age of all was but thirty-four. That this policy was not without permanent fruit appears from the fact that, out of the 26, including those now here, 9 remained in service twenty years or more, and 5 ten years or more—the average to the present time being thirteen years. It is striking, also, that 10 of the 26 had not been in pastoral service.

Dr. Hartranft was not satisfied with the common notion that a Seminary is a vocational school, however prominent that part of its work may be. At all events, even if its purpose be vocational, its sole object is not the manning of the churches of a particular denomination with pastors. It should be frankly interdenominational, even to the point of offering alternative courses in many topics. Its advantages should be urged upon many who are not to be pastors, and its curriculum should be progressively expanded to meet the needs of such students. In this sense it should be freely inter-vocational.

This extremely expansive principle was not adopted for public effect. It grew out of a view of the world and of history that no longer followed the beaten ecclesiastical track. No one could have held a higher view of the Church than Dr. Hartranft. But he knew how far it had frittered away its power in internal frictions, and how much it had had to be bolstered up by extramural agencies which parallel or surpass it in tactical efficiency. In short, the ideal Church is no longer to be found in any one ecclesiastical body or in all of them taken together. Hence follows the proper function of a comprehensive institution like the ideal Seminary, to be, as its name suggests, a nursery-plantation where the reforestation of the whole religious, moral and cultural world can be systematically provided for by the nurture of sturdy trees of many varieties, suited for transplanting into diverse soils and climates, and selected to serve manifold uses, whether for shade or timber or fruit or healing. In this daring departure from tradition Dr. Hartranft held that it was the business of a live Seminary to adjust itself to facts rather than theories or fictions.

One step directly connected with this policy was the opening of the regular courses in the Seminary to women. If no women had come, or if those who came had found no special opening for what they got, this step would have proved unwise. But from the beginning in 1889 there has never been a dearth of candidates, and the record of our thirty-five or more women graduates has been notably fine.

Another step was the welcome extended to students who felt no call to the pastoral ministry, but wanted a broad fitting for other forms of ministry. This brought fresh impetus to the differentiation of courses, and naturally led toward the scheme for a series of radiating schools, centering in the Seminary, but devoted to specialties that the Seminary could not itself adequately treat. The two Schools actually started were those of Church Music and of Sociology, dating from 1890 and 1894, respectively. Here also belongs what is now the School of Pedagogy, drawn to Hartford from Springfield in 1902, at Dr. Hartranft’s special instigation, though not then administratively connected with the Seminary. The defect in the earlier of these attempts was the lack of means.

Probably, too, public thought was hardly ready for such innovations. There were also legal difficulties which seem now to have vanished. That larger things were in prospect than the fathers had dreamed was shown by the application in 1890 for a charter amendment allowing the institution to hold $2,000,000 of property.

Bound up with this reappraisal of the functions and field of the Seminary was the adoption in 1891 of an elaborate system of prescribed and elective studies, the former arranged in several varying groups. This system rested on two main considerations. If the Seminary is to cover the field of theological science with any fullness, its departments and their ramifications cannot possibly all find place in a single prescribed course. Insistence upon such a course always means reduction of the faculty or neglect of topics. Further, if the Seminary is to serve a varied circle of students and interests, its provision for them must be fitted to their several needs. Insistence upon a prescribed course for all would be pedagogical suicide.

Dr. Hartranft stood frankly for freedom as against authority in this matter. He held that something like the fruits of confessionalism in theology and of the union of church and state in society were liable in pedagogy if coercion was magnified in an institution like this. For himself, he often said, he would prefer that all work, after a certain point of general culture was reached, should be determined by the students’ choice. This was not quite as latitudinarian as it may sound.

He interpreted and advocated it as he would the doctrine of freedom in the Christian life. His method involved a most careful discipline of the student in the earliest stages of his course, so as to fit him to act intelligently. But, given that basis, he would respect the student’s individuality, even to the point of being tolerant of his mistakes, if mistakes were made. He held that the Seminary stood upon a different level from the common school—that it is on the plane of the university. He believed that the best preparation for the freedom and responsibility of the student after graduation comes from giving him while here a large amount of freedom and laying upon him a considerable load of responsibility.

The system that was finally adopted as a compromise between the old tradition and the new ideal was the subject of innumerable and protracted debates, which, as I have said on another occasion, seem to me one of the most significant and fruitful passages in our institutional history. In them was constantly magnified that cardinal principle of the President, that a true educational system can never be worked out with personal ambitions or even topical aspirations in the foreground. The problem must be treated in the abstract and with genuine comprehensiveness. Into the scheme, thus evolved, individual instructors and specific disciplines must be fitted without favoritism or regard to popular clamor. I do not suppose that any one was quite satisfied with the result in this particular case. But two things can be said about it.

As regards Dr. Hartranft, it showed what leadership untainted by autocracy can do. As regards the faculty, it produced a solidarity and enthusiasm in the face of a mighty problem that were superb. Even those not specially friendly admitted in those days that Hartford excelled in the “team work” of its faculty.

Sundry data might be adduced to show how the operation of his ideas affected the size and quality of the student-body. It took some faith at the outset to expect great things here, for the total number of students during Dr. Hartranft’s first five years averaged only 26. But in the second five years the average was 46, in the third five years 51, in the fourth five years 56, and in the last five years 75. In 1879-80 it was only 21, but in 1902-03 it was 83-four times greater, and the largest figure in the whole history of the Seminary. The number of full graduates in the twenty-one classes from 1883 exceeded that in the forty-seven classes that preceded. As we note these and other related facts, like the vastly greater number of colleges represented, we begin to see more clearly how Dr. Hartranft’s theories worked in practice.

Another piece of statistics may be cited here. During his twenty-five years of teaching about 450 students came under his hand, of whom about 325 completed the course. Out of this number, 27 have become professors in colleges or seminaries and 9 presidents or deans; more than 40 have taken high rank in the foreign missionary field; and many others have served in some large way as editors, secretaries or administrators.

It is safe to say that one out of every three or four of the whole number entered upon a life-work of peculiar responsibility or honor. Most of them are proud to bear Dr. Hartranft’s hallmark.

There are many other single topics on which we might speak if time permitted and necessary data were at hand.

For example, one would like to dwell upon how much of a material asset his being here was to this institution. Something emphatic probably ought to be said about his work and influence in revolutionizing the pecuniary status of the Seminary. The extant records, however, do not give just the information required. We know that our resources in 1878 were small, and that growth for a long time afterward was slow—not at all equal to the demands of expansion. Hence came agonizing difficulties for all concerned. To meet current deficits large sums were given by a variety of persons, including the Faculty. All this was taken by many as a reproach upon Dr. Hartranft’s leadership—much as the annual appeals of our missionary societies are alleged by some to be confessions of recklessness or folly. Yet, after all, this willingness to endorse daring advances and to cover them by repeated gifts is testimony to the faith in the future which he communicated to others. That this faith was not chimerical is shown by the fact that when he left in 1903 the difficulties had vanished, and the assets of the Seminary, which in 1878 were only about $250,000, had grown to not less than $1,250,000 and possibly $1,500,000. This notable increase in financial stability and resource was directly and almost wholly due to confidence in him and in his ideas.

One would like to dwell upon his relations to social and civic interests in Hartford, especially his share in projecting enterprises like the North Street Settlement, the Motherhood Club, the park system, university extension, and other movements, and his co-operation in the unfolding of the Fourth Church into a community church of a new order.

One would also like to speak of his long service in the earlier years of his life in Hartford as preacher in various churches here or not far away, where he is still affectionately remembered. Of course, a mind and spirit like his could not be adequately appreciated by any who did not live with him for long periods.  But there was a power in him that could not be escaped even in transient contacts, especially in conditions where his deeply Christian nature could express itself with freedom.

Probably something should be said about the fact that his greatness was measured elsewhere as well as here, leading to more than one overture to draw him away. Of these the most urgent came in 1888, when he was sought to take the headship of a big university enterprise, which, as I understand it, did not fully materialize because he chose to accept the Presidency here instead.

Surely, if we were here attempting to recount the annals of his life, we should devote large space to his literary work, not connected with his teaching. Except for the monumental publication, now proceeding under the name of the “Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum,” the total amount of his published writings is small. Besides the three addresses noted earlier, there are his three Inaugurals in 1878, 1888 and 1894, his singularly acute essay in 1895 on “The Incarnation Historically Considered,” his minute and laborious contribution to the series of the Post-Nicene Fathers, and some other articles. But the substance of this work is out of all proportion to its bulk.

It would be particularly interesting to trace the curious inception of his interest in Schwenckfeld, which dates from about 1882, the gradual opening in his mind of the problem of scholarship thus presented, and the final adoption, after twenty years of tentative approach, of this subject as a sacred obligation for his last years, one into which he poured himself with unstinted devotion and inflexible determination.

There are almost innumerable traits and habits, familiar to all who knew him well, over which it would be both grateful and useful to linger. You do not need to be reminded of his absolute reverence in the presence of sacred things, his impressive chapel talks, his memorable charges to graduating classes; or of his colossal industry, night and day, his omnivorousness as a reader, his alertness to current events of every description; or of his scrupulous care for minute duties and petty courtesies, his unfailing attention to the smallest items of administration, his extraordinary fidelity about correspondence; or of his absolute approachableness at all times, his instantaneous response to humor, his explosions of mirth, his readiness, too, “to weep with those that weep”; or of his zest for sport and even prodigious bodily exertion, his passion for the open air, his power to hold spiritual communion with nature in all its aspects. If this were aiming to be a portrait of the man, how we might all join in recalling one charming or monumental memory after another in these and related regions!

But to-day I have felt constrained to dwell upon the working of Dr. Hartranft’s mind upon the problem of this Seminary, because we owe him honor for his unique service here. Yet none of us would be so foolish as to picture him mainly as a thinking machine or even as the maker of an institution. He had an intellect of enormous vigor, and a will of parallel tenacity, and both intellect and will were shot through with the warmth and grace of a sensibility that often seemed mightier than either. But by just so much as he was a great and true man did his personality escape the confines of these old categories. His power lay not in separate faculties, but in his total, indivisible self. Indeed, we must go further, and say that it lay not in his abilities or genius, but in the way in which he had come into tune with a higher world, whence he caught etherial messages, by access to which he was perpetually refreshed, and toward which he would fain turn all other souls in companionship with his own.

In the process of the years, not only here, but in pastoral relations elsewhere, it came about that he was the intimate friend of a multitude of persons—not the object of admiring contemplation, nor the merely entertaining or invigorating acquaintance, but the really close friend. They did not always know him very well, but they knew that he knew them, often better than they knew them-selves. Some of them did not realize till long after what it meant to have dealt with him. Few of them, however, failed to catch the mysterious impress through him of something momentous. Many of them were more or less tongue-tied in his presence, and were puzzled over his old-fashioned courtesy toward them. But most of them trusted him like a father and leaned on him like a brother. We cannot really analyze this capacity for friendship. But let us attempt to mark one or two features in it.

The first of these was his exceptional faculty and impulse of true sympathy. Though not infallible in estimating people, usually he was intuitively acute. He noted much that the ordinary observer neglects, and his retentive memory enabled him to group impressions at long intervals. And the variety and range of his own vivid experiences gave him insight far beyond the common scope. So he saw at a glance deep into the nature of pupils and fellow-workers. Yet his was not merely the skillful scrutiny of the practised judge, or even the speculative interest of the “student of human nature.” His attitude was never detached or distant. Whenever or wherever you met him—even when he turned from the absorption of study, or came out from the agony of his own private sorrow, or paused in some mighty effort of inspiration—you rarely missed feeling that instantaneously your question or your sentiment or your need had become for him the chief thing in the world. This was no mannerism, no clever trick of diplomacy. It was the direct, instinctive rush of his spirit into contact with yours, irresistibly intimate unless you yourself checked it. He gave himself utterly to you, and identified himself with you, unworthy as you might be of such condescension.

A second point was that in this immediacy of fellowship he always seemed to estimate you higher than you deserved. This was no subtle touch of flattery or of bland optimism. It was an intuitive recognition of the noble traits latent in every man, and an indefeasible impulse to magnify and foster them. He loved men freely, not for exactly what they were, but for what lay beneath the surface, whether of ability or of genius or of virtue. And his insight was discriminating—not generic, but specific—adjusting itself indefinitely to the varieties of personality in question. Here was the root of his unrivalled power of evoking development in pupils and colleagues. He saw the best that was in them, and his whole heart went out to that best, hidden or distorted though it might be. This made him pre-eminently a molder of men, not by virtue of what he imposed upon them from himself, but by the appeal of his love to the seminal energy resident in them.

Thus contact with him was as potent as the pressure of the soil or the descent of the rain upon the seed, or the heat and light of the sun upon the tiny blade breaking through into the air.

And a third point was his power through these channels of sympathy and appreciation of communicating to you out of his own richness. By this I do not mean his ability to tell you all that was in his mind, for his talk about ideas or facts often swept clean over your head. Nor would I imply that he made much display of the wealth of his own acquisitions or experiences, for he was both excessively modest and almost exasperatingly reticent much of the time. But he did make you conscious always of the magnitude and glory of that upper world of reality in which his soul dwelt. He did not have to spend many words upon it, or to parade before you the grandeur of his conception of it. It shone through him in such a way that often for the first time in your life you perceived its light duly tempered to your eyes, so broken up into its parts that its full beauty was clear, and thus made humanly real for you. In all this he was the true revealer of things unseen, the herald of things unknown, the transmitter of a life unrealized. Doubtless all spiritually minded men serve thus. But in his case there was a singular radiance of spirituality. And the most striking fact about it was that the result in you was not so much to fasten attention upon him as the medium of impression as to stir your soul with the ictus and flow of the divine truth which had become embodied and operant in him.

In thus trying to pay tribute to Dr. Hartranft’s genius for friendship I have not lost sight of my main topic—his work in creating the new Hartford Seminary. For a quarter of a century the circle of his friends became more and more defined by his attachment to this institution. Every member of its constituency—students, instructors, trustees, alumni, friends, supporters-was dear to him, not officially, but personally. They all stood related, no doubt, to the work to which he felt himself called. But various evidences could be adduced to show that his affection was not founded on policy. In all this he builded better than perhaps he knew. For his greatest gift as a leader was the unconscious habit of binding men to him, so that through their love for him they were enabled to follow in the path of his ideality. There would have been no virtue in his constructive energy otherwise, for no leader in an enterprise like this can possibly succeed without enlisting personal respect and devotion.

It is in this realm of ideas vitalized by love that we may expect that Dr. Hartranft’s memory will longest endure. Particular points of policy may and will be laid aside, especially as other minds apply themselves to the practical problem. Very likely the Seminary is to be something quite different from his vision of it. And we are already in a generation that has not known him in any intimate way. But we may rest in the belief that God does not raise up prophets of such vision and magnetism simply to lay them aside as if wasted. It is not for us to say how his influence shall be made to abide and to apply to times beyond his own. But we may be sure that somewhere and somehow the gigantic yet humble offering of this life in eager loyalty to the kingdom of God on earth will have not simply due recognition, but persistent power. What we may say about it is of small significance. How we are ourselves to be affected by it, and how we are to shape our course in the light of it—this is important.

We can imagine, perhaps, how the great Doctor’s spirit looks down upon us here today. We can almost hear him address us as his “Young Brethren,” with the tremor in his voice of suppressed yearning and the flash in his eye of unquenchable ardor. We know that the burden of what he would say to us would not be at all, “Follow me or my thoughts,” but, “Follow the Master of us all; take upon you in all humbleness His yoke or harness; learn patiently and deeply of Him; let His redeeming and regenerating life permeate and renovate your lives; face the world as He saw it, and in His spirit; fulfill in it your share in His gracious mission; fill up, if need be, the measure of His sacrificial suffering; thus, under His guidance and by His help, fit yourselves to have part here in His triumph over all the powers and forces of evil; so that at last you, with all who are truly His, may behold Him in His eternal glory and there may indeed enter into His divine joy!”


CHESTER DAVID HARTRANFT was born on October 15, 1839, in the neighborhood of Frederick, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel and Salome (Stetler) Hartranft. His father was a manufacturer of flour. On both sides he was of German descent, his father’s ancestors coming from Silesia in 1734 and his mother’s from the Palatinate about the same time.

In 1846 the family removed to Philadelphia, where the son was graduated from the High School in 1856 and from the University of Pennsylvania in 186ı, standing third in his class. He was noted in his student days both for keen intellectual interest and for athletic prowess. ‘His aptitude for mathematics led to his nomination for a vacancy at West Point, but he was declined because he was below the age-limit. In a volunteer company raised in the University he was chosen Captain, and later he held the same rank in the 18th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, but was prevented by circumstances from seeing active service. In the University his original purpose was to become a lawyer, but later this changed to the field of history.

Although always religiously earnest, he did not avow his Christian faith until 1860, when he joined the Second Dutch Reformed Church in Philadelphia, of which Dr. John F. Berg was pastor. In 1861 he entered the Dutch Reformed Seminary at New Brunswick, being graduated in 1864. During this time Dr. Berg had become a professor in the Seminary, and soon after Mr. Hartranft’s graduation he was married to Dr. Berg’s daughter, Anna Frances, by whom he had five children. Of these only one survives, Mr. Frederick B. Hartranft of Hartford.

His first pastorate was at South Bushwick, now a part of Brooklyn, where he remained two years. For twelve years thereafter he was pastor of the First Church at New Brunswick. In both these pastorates he not only became recognized as a preacher of exceptional power, but was active in organizing many unusual forms of activity, as in the Sunday School and in regard to music. His remarkable gifts in the latter art led to his receiving, as early as 1861, the degree of Mus.D. from Rutgers College.

In 1878 he was called to Hartford Theological Seminary to succeed Dr. Thomas S. Childs as Professor of Ecclesiastical History. For six years he was also Librarian. In 1888 the office of President was revived that he might be titular head of the institution. In 1892 he was transferred to the new chair of Biblical Theology, and in 1898 to that of Ecclesiastical Dogmatics.

About 1882 he had become interested in the history of the Schwenckfelder Church in eastern Pennsylvania—the body to which his father’s progenitors belonged. This interest developed into a project on the part of that church, under his instigation, to make an exhaustive search for manuscripts and other data regarding Caspar von Schwenckfeld and his influence in the sixteenth century. On this business Dr. Hartranft made several trips abroad, and his discovery of vast amounts of unpublished material led to the collection of special funds for their publication. He was urged so strenuously to accept the editorial care of this that in 1903 he resigned his Presidency at the Seminary, and from that time made his residence in Germany. The Seminary named him Honorary President and shared in the publication work by appointing him Research Professor. Extensive details regarding all this work are given in The Schwenckfeldian for March, 1915, together with tributes from several friends. Four volumes of the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum have already been issued, and a fifth is now ready for the press.

In 1911 Dr. Hartranft was married for the second time to Ida T. Berg of Hartford, who survives him.

For two years before his death he suffered at intervals from seizures that were more or less paralytic in nature. These reduced his strength and greatly limited his activities, but did not dim the powers of his mind or break the serenity of his spirit.


Digitized in May 2022 by Richard Mammana from a personal copy.

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