He graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1859, and was ordained deacon by Bishop William Meade of Virginia, and assigned as rector of the Church of the Advent, Philadelphia. In 1860 he was ordained priest, and two years later, in 1862, became rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He remained here for seven years, gaining an increasing name as a preacher and patriot. He was a man of great physical bearing, standing six feet four inches tall.
During the American Civil War he upheld the cause of the North and opposed slavery. In 1869 he became rector of Trinity Church, Boston, where his memorial statue can be seen on the left exterior of the church.