CHARLES BEARD, B.A., LL.D. Born 27 July, 18/127. Died 9 April, 1888.

CHARLES BEARD was born at Manchester, July 27th. 1827. He entered Manchester New College in 1843. took a London B.A. degree in 1847, studied for a year (1848-49) at Berlin under Neander, and settled as Co-Pastor of Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross, in 1850. becoming sole Minister in 1854. In 1867 he undertook the ministry of Renshaw Street Chapel. Liverpool, where he died in 1888. In that year he received the degree of LL.D. from St. Andrews University.
A born orator, with a voice and presence of great charm, exceptional brain power and a habit of untiring industry, the scholar and preacher and man of action were complemental manifestations of his rich, large nature. Professor Ramsay Muir, speaking at Liverpool in 1906, said:- “A great preacher ... Charles Beard ... more than any other single man was the inspirer of the movement which led to the foundation of University College,” and again, after words of high appreciation of Dr. Beard’s historical books :- “Indeed his public work itself was a training for his historical work. That sure and balanced judgment of men and events, that unfailing sympathy with noble causes, combined with a tolerant comprehension of the causes which retarded them, could only have been learnt in the School of Experience.”
Charles Beard’s belief in the universal Fatherhood of God, and his devotion to the Christ idea issued in a cathoiicity of spirit which overleapt all denominational boundaries, and enabled him to co-operate with men of widely differing views while a passionate desire for the coming of God’s Kingdom impelled him to incessant labour for his fellow men. His belief in the power of education found expression in his work for University College, Liverpool, which has been already mentioned, and in the years of devoted service which he gave to Manchester New College, now Manchester College, Oxford.
During the American Civil War (1861-65) and the consequent distress among the Lancashire cotton operatives, he took a leading part in organizing the relief work and acted as special Correspondent to the “Daily News,” where his letters attracted national attention. From 1864 to 1879 he was Editor of the “Theological Review,” and for fifteen years was a regular contributor to the “Liverpool Daily Post.”
The constant help and sympathy which he gave to the Domestic Missions, and a successful Housing Scheme which he planned and launched in Liverpool, in co-operation with the Medical Officer, long before the question occupied the public mind, are only two examples of the many ways in which his deep desire to better the condition of the poor was shown. He left an undying memory in many hearts, inspired by his faithfulness to high ideals to “go and do likewise.”



“There is only one Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and where it dwells is plain. because darkness abideth not with it. ...A Light that was impersonate only in a single Christ, no matter how brilliant its manifestations would not be the true Light; it must be the source of all illumination that men have ever received, the single sun of the spiritual sky. I am what is called a humanitarian; I believe in the pure humanity of Christ. ...But for all that I understand what Paul meant when he said ‘And that Rock was Christ.’ ...What a man has once learnt to believe and say that Christ was strength, purity, goodness, he will not think it much if another inverts the phrase, and whenever he sees strength, purity, goodness, call them Christ.”


“All prophets are heretics in the beginning, even if all heretics are not prophets in the making. ...Be my soul - would that I were worthy! - with saintly doctors of the Church and holy outcasts from all Churches: with all who have striven to know God through whatever mist of earthly misconception; with all who, in spite of misconception, have learnt to love Him. I often think of that great word of Angelique Arnauld’s and make it my own, though possibly not precisely in her sense. ‘I am of the Church of all the Saints and all the Saints are of my Church,’ and the prerogative of the Saints is to have a very real sense of the great love of God; to be persuaded that to those who love God all things work together for good; in the strength of that faith to throw themselves with utter self-surrender, into the battle which rages ever between good and evil to meet weal and woe with equal courage; to live with joy; to die in peace.”


“I suppose that God sees, in the weakest and the worst of us the angel that is to be, when ages of discipline, punishment, labour, joy, have passed over our heads; what we need, of all things, is, if not to see it too, at least to believe that it will and must he so.” ...“No such monstrous lie was ever told for God as that any creation of His is ever wholly bad and wholly lost. There is no faithlessness so utterly without excuse as disbelief in the final victory of Gods love.”


Laying down our life in the light which streams from Christ, and looking at it there.


As age follows age, and each pours fresh wealth into the treasury of human knowledge - as men accumulate a riper experience, solving ever more perfectly the problems of life and entering upon wider possibilities - Christianity too will receive a fuller development, and mankind, with the acknowledgment of mystery and the cry of imperfection always upon its lips, will penetrate more and more deeply into the glory and wonder of God.


“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, that is the characteristic cry of Christianity. Tell me that Christianity is on the side of the despots! Tell me that Christianity is on the side of the slave-holders! Tell me that Christianity is on the side of privilege! The very nature and object of all Christianity is that every man should be independent and free, that he should govern himself, and find in the law of his own conscience the rule which will suffice to help him to follow Christ and come to God. Equality! are we not all alike before the infinite God? King and peasant they have alike immortal souls. ...Fraternity! we have all one master and we are all brethren. One Father in Heaven ... that is Chrst’s characteristic doctrine, liberty, equality, brotherhood - this is the basis upon which every new Society is to be reconstructed in God’s good time. These must always be the basis of true Christian principle, even though in time to come Christianity may be forgotten and men begin to worship God in other ways and by another name.”


“It is always the chief thing that God should speak and men should listen, because in such speech and such hearing is enfolded the secret of life.”


“If there be any bridge by which in thought and love, we can cross the silent river which flows between the living and the dead, it is built for us by this word ‘I believe in the Communion of Saints!’ ...whatever be the circumstances of that heavenly life for which we look, there can be no doubt as to its essence; love cannot change, duty is one and the same, the service of God knows no variation.”

Charles Beard’s published works include:-
Four Volumes of Sermons.
“The History of Port Royal.” 1861.
“The Reformation in the Sixteenth Century.” (Hibbert Lectures, 1883)
“Martin Luther.” 1889.

Anon. using Beard, C. (n.d.), Eminent Unitarian Teachers 11: Charles Beard, London: Lindsey Press.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful

Incidentally, I possess a copy of:

Beard, C. (1927, originally 1883), Introduction by Barker, E., The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in its Relation to Modern Thought and Knowledge, Hibbert Lectures, New Impression, London: Constable and Company.