HAY, Charles A.
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HAY, Charles A.—The following sketch of Charles A. Hay, D. D., father of John W., was prepared by Prof. E. S. Breidenbaugh, Sc. D., and is taken from the Lutheran Observer of July 14, 1893:

"Charles Augustus Hay was born at York, Pa., February 11, 1821. He died suddenly from heart disease, at his home, Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, June 26, 1893. He attended the schools of his native town, and was also directed in his studies by his uncle, Dr. J. G. Morris, so that he entered the sophomore class of Pennsylvania College, graduating in 1839. He pursued his theological studies at Gettysburg, and at Berlin and Halle in Germany. These years spent in Germany were peculiarly rich in benefits and in memories to Dr. Hay. He enjoyed close intimacy with Prof. Tholuck and with his fellow-pupil, afterwards Prof. Lincoln of Brown University, who has spoken to me of the manner in which his fellow-students were attracted to Mr. Hay by reason of his scholarship, his modest bearing, and amiable disposition.

Dr. Hay was licensed in 1843, and was for the greater portion of the following fifty years connected with the East Pennsylvania Synod, thus covering almost its whole history, and was one of the most influential members of the Synod.

The first pastorate of Dr. Hay was Middletown, Pa., in 1844, whence, the same year, he was called to the combined professorships of German in Pennsylvania College and in the Theological Seminary, continuing till 1848, when he served the congregation at Hanover, Pa., for one year, being now called to the charge of Zion church, Harrisburg, continuing to serve these people till 1865, when he was again called to the institutions at Gettysburg, to the Theological Seminary as professor of Hebrew and Old Testament theology, pastoral theology, and German language and literature. During the recent commencement he had tendered his resignation, to take effect at the end of the current year. During that period (1866-1892) he served as pastor of Christ (College) church, Gettysburg, in connection with his professional duties.

We knew Dr. Hay thus as pastor, teacher and also as author, curator of Historical Society, laborer in general church work, and as citizen, but above all else as a man. In a few words I will imperfectly but truthfully refer to each.

As pastor, he rounded the half century of labor; for while over half the time from licensure in 1843 he was in professional positions, during the much larger portion of this period he was at the same time pastor of a congregation. If one requires any testimony to the character of the service of Dr. Hay as pastor, let inquiries be made of the people of Harrisburg or of Gettysburg—not of Lutherans alone but of the whole community, of the church attendance and of the members of the Sunday-school. He fulfilled the injunctions of Paul, he was "gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing them that oppose," "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly divining the word of truth;" and he obeyed the word of the Lord to Paul, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace." The result in the congregations was souls saved, growth in Christian graces, and vigorous religious life, and on the death of the pastor tears that expressed but faintly the sense of a friend, a counselor, a helper, a messenger from God.

As professor, he possessed three great qualifications: he knew his subjects, he was deeply interested in his work, he was ready at all tunes to give assistance to the inquirer. Speaking from personal knowledge, he quickened the interest of the student and led him to further research. Many generations of students will bear testimony to the vaue of his service in the theological seminary, and the fruit of his teachings will never be lost in the church.

As author, Dr. Hay has made contributions to reviews on Old Testament exegesis, on codices of the Scriptures, and on historical and biographical topics, besides reviews. Hc has also prepared several biographical volumes, and has translated from German several important volumes and review articles. As an author his style was clear and definite and his discussion thorough. His translations are highly commended for clear and accurate expression of the thoughts of the original. His last translation is Luther’s Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. With Dr. H. E. Jacobs he translated and edited Schnid’s Dogmatik.

In general church work Dr. Hay was always active and influential. In his district Synod, and in the General Synod, of which he was frequently a member, secretary in 1853, and president in 1881, he was a prominent figure, and helped quietly but decidedly to place the General Synod in its very excellent doctrinal position. He was for a number of years the chairman of the beneficiary education committee of the East Pennsylvania Synod, and a member of the executive committee of the Parent Education Society. The young men receiving aid know how he was interested in their welfare and sought the prompt payment of their money, while at the same time guarding the church against unworthy recipients of aid. Dr. Hay was an efficient trustee of Pennsylvania College from 1852, and served as secretary of the board 1867-80. In many other connections he was actively employed in the benefit of his greatly beloved Lutheran Church.

In work outside of the Lutheran Church, he was always ready to co-operate with other Christian people in any good cause. In local church and benevolent work, his assistance was eagerly sought and promptly given. He was from 1870 the president of the Pennsylvania Bible Society, and for many years president, first, of the Harrisburg Bible Society and subsequently of the Bible Society of the Theological Seminary and Pennsylvania College.

Special attention is called to his very valuable, his inestimably valuable service to the Lutheran Church as curator of the library of the Historical Society of the Lutheran Church. In 1869 he was elected to this position, and with his co-laborer, Dr. J. G. Morris, president of the society, he has collected and arranged in an accessible shape a great mass of manuscript and printed documents concerning general and local church history. This collection has excited the admiration and surprise of many who had, before consulting this collection, searched in vain for important historical data. If valuable now, time will only in a rapid ratio increase the value of this work.

As a citizen, Dr. Hay was known as a conscientious, earnest supporter of all measures which were calculated to advance the welfare of the individual and of the community. He was interested in the work of our public school system, and served as a member of the school board of the city of Harrisburg. This known interest led Governor Hoyt to offer him the position of State superintendent of public schools.

Dr. Hay was an earnest advocate of the cause of the poor, and of al who were oppressed or needy; his was a broad and wise philanthropy, which while seeking large results, labored for the individual and remembered that units make up the aggregate.

The Civil war called out all the Christian patriotism of Dr. Hay. By voice and pen and example he showed himself the advocate of the Union and the friend of the soldier. Many examples occur to the writer, but space forbid their recital-how he had his congregation to help fortify Harrisburg in 1863, at Fort Washington; how he was imprisoned by General Wool for criticizing the General's leniency to rebel sympathizers; how he cared for the soldiers at Camp Curtin, and carried relief and comfort to the hospitals.

Thus Dr. Hay has left behind him many memorials, as pastor, reformer, author, laborer in the church, curator, citizen, friend but the greatest memorial is that of his personal life, a legacy begond [sic] all others to his children and to those privileged to call him friend. He was pure in thought, guileless in conduct, affectionate in manner, constant in advocacy of truth, wise in counsel, helpful to the stricken, by his very presence a discourager of vice, earnest and faithful in labor-a preacher who came with God's message to man, a pastor who was careful of the fold, a friend who sought the Christian advancement of his friends. We will miss him from the pulpit, from the altar, from the Sunday-school, from the sick room, from the social gathering, from the personal intercourse. Multitudes will rise up now and in the hereafter and call him blessed. We will say for him what his modesty would have forbidden him to appropriate for himself: He has fought a good fight, he has finished his course, he has kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give him.

Dr. Hay has left behind him a wife, three sons-Dr. John W., of Harrisburg; Rev. Charles E., of Allentown, Pa.; Rev. E. G., of Red Hook, N. Y.-and two daughters, the wives respectively of Rev. M. L. Heisler, of Harrisburg, and Prof. J. A. Himes, of Gettysburg."


Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski becky@voicenet.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.

Date of Transcription: 10 June 2001

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