Henry Ward Beecher, the eighth son of the Rev. Lyman Beecher, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, on 24th June, 1813. The brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, he was educated at the Lane Theological Seminary before becoming a Presbyterian minister in Lawrenceburg (1837-39) and Indianapolis (1839-47). His pamphlet, Seven Lectures to Young Men, was published in 1844.
Beecher moved to Plymouth Church, Brooklyn in 1847. By this time he had developed a national reputation for his oratorical skills, and drew crowds of 2,500 regularly every Sunday. He strongly opposed slavery and favoured temperance and woman's suffrage.
Beecher condemned the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska bill from his pulpit and helped to raise funds to supply weapons to those willing to oppose slavery in these territories. These rifles became known as Beecher's Bibles. John Brown and five of his sons, were some of the volunteers who headed for Kansas.
He supported the Free Soil Party in 1852 but switched to the Republican Party in 1860. During the Civil War Beecher's church raised and equipped a volunteer regiment. However, after the war, he advocated reconciliation.
Beecher edited The Independent (1861-63) and the Christian Union (1870-78) and published several books including the Summer in the Soul (1858), Life of Jesus Christ (1871), Yale Lectures on Preaching (1872) and Evolution and Religion (1885). Henry Ward Beecher died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 8th March, 1887.
Here's some quotes attributed to Henry Ward Beecher:
So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our head back on the bosom of Christ and quietly fall asleep.
Life would be a perpetual flea hunt if a man were obliged to run down all the innuendoes, inveracities, insinuations and misrepresentations which are uttered against him.
Difficulties are God's errands; and when we are sent upon them, we should esteem it a proof of God's confidence.
How many weary and starved congregations listen hopelessly to a dejected preacher who will never give them a word, a phrase, or a thought they have not heard hundreds of times.
The Bible is God's chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars.
Tears are often the telescope through which men see far into heaven.
To all who find their days declining, to all upon whom age is creeping with its infirmities, to all whose strength seems steadily to ebb....God seems to take our last things, and as it were, pack them up for our journey. These are tokens that you are approaching land. They are signs that the troubles of the sea are almost over.
Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.
It is what we get by the soul that makes us rich.
Many people wish the Bible to overawe them, as Sinai did the Israelites...who worshiped it one day and danced around a calf the next.
Walking humbly, you are more of a man than you were when you walked proudly.
The nature of God is the same to all men, but the effects are not the same on all men; because they do not all put it to the same uses.
A forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up, so that it can never be shown against the man.
The nature of God is the same to all men, but the effects are not the same on all men; because they do not put it all to the same uses.
On this side of the grave we are exiles, on that, citizens; on this side, orphans, on that, children; on this side, captives, on that, freemen.
Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.
We are always in the forge, or on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.
Do not give, as many rich men do, like a hen that lays an egg, and then cackles.
The elect are whosoever will, and the non-elect, whosoever won't.