Van Deusen, Rev. Edward Martin (1816-1890)
Collection of Manuscript Sermons by the Rev. Edward Martin Van Deusen, of St. Peter's Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Grace Church, Utica, New York, 1838-1883

Collection of approximately 196 manuscript sermons, nearly 4,000 pages, dated 1838-1883, with annotations to 1886. The sermons average between 16 to 24 manuscript pages each, for an approximate total of about 4,000 pages. Van Deusen numbered his sermons on the front leaf and on the rear leaf he makes notations of when he first preached the sermon, giving the date, church, and the town, or city. He also makes notations on each additional time he preached that particular sermon, when and where. The sermons were sometimes repeated a couple of times, or a half a dozen, some a dozen different times, sometimes at the same church, but a year or more later, sometimes at other churches where he may have been visiting.

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This collection includes the following: 

     1 sermon first preached at Broad Creek Church, Prince George's County, Maryland, where Van Deusen was rector for at least two years 1838 - 1841. This sermon is No. 21, and dated 1838.

      21 sermons first preached at Trinity Church, Wilmington, Delaware, where Van Deusen was rector from at least 1848-1852. These sermons are Nos. 261-279, 281-282, and dated 1851-1852.

      99 sermons first preached at St. Peter's Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Van Deusen was rector from at least 1854-1864. These sermons are Nos. 280, 283-284, 292-316, 318-345, 347-348, 350-352, 354-368, 370-377, 379-385, 387-392, and are dated 1855-1865.

      68 sermons first preached at Grace Church, Utica, New York, where Van Deusen was rector from at least 1867 to his death in 1890. These sermons are Nos. 393-457, and are dated 1867-1883.

      7 miscellaneous sermons, not dated, nor numbered, but from the ink and paper, are likely from his time when he was rector at Grace Church, Utica, late 1860s to 1890.

      Several sermons have the same numbers as other sermons, for example there are two sermons numbered 394, even though they are different sermons. This happened a couple of times in the collection.

      Rev. Edward Martin Van Deusen, D.D. (1816-1890)

      Rev. Edward Martin Van Deusen, D.D, was born on 25 February 1816, at Van Deusenville, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Laird Van Deusen (1788-1852) and Lovina L. Hart (-1843). Van Deusen's father Isaac founded the town of Van Deusenville. The Van Deusen family date back to the early Dutch families of New Netherlands, today's New York.

      The Rev. Van Deusen graduated from Washington College (now Trinity), Connecticut, in 1835. In 1866, the trustees of the college elected him President of the school. Several years after his graduation from Trinity, he married Eliza Maria Gilbert in 1838 and together the couple had at least two children, Mary Elizabeth, born in 1841 at St. John's Parish, Prince George's County, Maryland, and Edwin Gilbert, born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1844. Mary Elizabeth married Edward D. Gazzam of Utica, New York.

      We have determined, from our research, that Rev. Van Deusen was rector in at least six different churches: Broad Creek Parish, Prince George's County, Maryland, 1839-1841; St. John's Parish, Prince George's County, 1843-1844; St. Ann's Parish, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1844-1847; Trinity Church, Wilmington, Delaware, 1848-1852; St. Peter's Church, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania  from at least 1854-1864; and his final call at Grace Church, Utica, New York, at least 1867-1890, where he was installed when he died on 8 August 1890, at Baltimore, Maryland. His remains were transported to Grace Church in Utica where his funeral was held and he was buried. 

      Besides his ministries, he also was very active in the church government and the various conventions of the church, which he attended throughout his career in the Diocese of Central New York and elsewhere, he is found serving at different positions. He was a member of the General Board of Missions (1875), and served as Trustee of the General Theological Seminary (1883) for the Diocese of Central New York, and was on the Standing Committee on the Constitution and Canons and Rules of Order, amongst other positions. He served on the Board of Trustees of Western University of Pennsylvania (1857); he also served on their Education Committee, and later became its President. 

      Rev. Van Deusen’s two important posts, and his two longest, were the ones at Pittsburgh, followed by the one in Utica. His first important post was St. Peter's Church of Pittsburgh, one of Pittsburgh's more important churches in the 19th Century. It was marked by a steady revival of regular and constant conversions, increasing numbers, and with heavy financial investment by Pittsburgh's wealthier Christians, helped make the church one of the Mission power houses.

      All of this was disrupted by the dissensions brought on by the Civil War, Van Deusen favored the Union and the abolition of slavery, even preaching sermons on Lincoln, etc., which are present here in manuscript form. This led to some disruption in the church and he resigned just after the war ended, which led to his longest post at Utica, where he was posted until his death in 1890.

      Description of Sermon Collection:

      Rev. Van Deusen, along with Dr. Goodwin of the University of Pennsylvania, famously penned their response to the South in "Christianity versus Treason and Slavery: Religion Rebuking Sedition." Van Deusen was vigorously involved with the Union cause in the Civil War and the content of these sermons reflects the times. A number of sermons are directly related to the Civil War, or have content throughout them related to the civil war, slavery, and the cause of the north.

      Of the sermons offered here, 17 of them were written and preached first during the Civil War. These sermons have many references to the war and to Van Deusen's thoughts on it. Weaving Biblical verses throughout, the sermons show what war time ministers were preaching to their congregations. Other, older sermons were preached again during the war as well, these too have Biblical references to the upheavals of the day. 

     Several sermons have direct reference to the major events of the day, such as  the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Garfield. Concerning Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Van Deusen preached from Genesis 45.25-26, "Joseph is still alive." He preached this sermon at Grace Church, Utica, New York, on 1 June 1865. This is a sermon that Van Deusen originally preached at St. Peter's Church on 1 July 1860, and then preached it again making the notation on the rear life, "Preached Upon a Day of Humiliation on Account of the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln."

      There are several references to the assassination of President Garfield. Van Deusen preached twice on this, once from Psalm 46.10, "Be still and know that I am God," which he preached on 25 September, 1881, comparing his assassination with the martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln. The second time he preached on Garfield was on 2 October 1881, when he preached from Psalm 76.10, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee."

      "Fast Day at the Commencement of the Civil War" was another theme of Van Deusen, where he preached from Jeremiah 13.15-16, "The dark mountain and the shadow of death." This sermon was preached on 26 Sept 1861, at St. Peter's Church, Pittsburgh. The notation that Van Deusen writes is:  "On the National Fast Day, appointed by President Lincoln at the request of both Houses of Congress and recommended by the Governor of the State (Custin) and the Bishop (Potter) of the Diocese and Occasioned by the Civil War between the North and the South."

 

An approximate list of the titles of the sermons in the collection can be emailed on request.