Project Canterbury

Pioneer Church Work in British Columbia
Being a Memoir of the Episcopate of Acton Windeyer Sillitoe, D.D., D.C.L.
First Bishop of New Westminster.

By the Rev. Herbert H. Gowen, F.R.G.S.

London: Mowbray, 1899.


MR. GOWEN has referred in the foregoing chapters to the important part taken by Bishop Sillitoe in the organization of a General Synod of the Church in Canada, so successfully accomplished in September, 1893.

An extract from the summary of the Bishop's sermon at the Thanksgiving Service on that occasion has been quoted. His concluding words are so full of faith, and hope, and thankfulness, and so characteristically clear and to the point, that we feel sure they will interest our readers, and we here append them--

"'God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.' Graft these words inwardly in your hearts. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. Then ask and think, not according to the limited horizon of our own senses, but according to the infinitude of Divine will and power. What can we learn herefrom respecting the work that we have accomplished? Well, looking into the past, perhaps we have accomplished much. But, looking forward to the future, what is left to be done? The Church is one from east to west. Now she can speak with one voice from ocean to ocean. Now, at length, she has become a power in the land. Praise be to God for the manifestation of His grace! Praise be to Him for that! He hath given abundantly of His blessing! But He can give exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. So let our demands go up fearlessly for more grace and blessing; so let our thoughts expand in the realms of faith, unwavering, unsatisfied, till we be filled with all the fulness of God, till His whole power be manifested in His Church and in each individual soul.

"Let us believe in the mission of the Church and in the mission of each individual Churchman; let us believe in the real indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in each one of us. An indwelling of power, an indwelling of responsibility. Above all, let us believe in the possession of the Truth of God--a sacred trust in behalf of all that are in error, as well as all that are in ignorance. While we rejoice in the unity wherewith God has blessed us, let us never forget that it is not we only that are to be one, but that all are to be one, according to His will. This is our mission, and we may not be satisfied so long as it is unattained. All that we have done is not enough, so long as God has more for us to do. We have touched the outer circle of organic unity amongst ourselves. We have drawn a circumference of united action. At the centre is God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. At the centre only is perfect unity. There alone is our end; there only is the full accomplishment. Now towards this centre must every diocese converge, and every Churchman in every diocese, each one a separate ray, sparkling and bright with holy endeavour and unselfish aim, hastening on by the attractive power of the indwelling Spirit, until all shall be absorbed in the eternal being of God, and He shall be all in all."

We also gladly insert a letter from Mrs. Jephson, of Ayot St. Peter Rectory, Welwyn, which speaks for itself of the good and lasting influence left by the Bishop in this little Hertfordshire village.

The Rev. Henry Jephson and his people have for many years, with their prayers and intercessions, sent an extraordinary amount of help and sympathy to New Westminster, and have helped to cheer the hearts of many clergy and workers in that distant diocese.

Mrs. Jephson says--

"Although it is nearly twelve years since Bishop Sillitoe first spoke on Foreign Missions at Welwyn, his words are still graven on my memory, and have been the means of guiding all sorts and conditions of people, who have desired to help our missions in some way, but yet were held back by the thought that their offerings might be too small and poor.

"He always explained so well what is meant by the true 'spirit of missions,' and how useless large-sums given spasmodically were, compared with a little, done earnestly and with quiet conviction.

"Although he was always most grateful for the least thing done for his diocese or himself, he did not believe much in money given from a personal interest in himself, or in the particular part of the country in which lie worked. He used to say that at first, in the early days of the diocese, he had positively suffered from such gifts, for they gradually diminished, and at last ceased. Having a most trustful and hopeful nature, he unfortunately believed that these large subscriptions would always be forthcoming, and would embark on some cherished scheme on the strength of them. But he found that subscriptions often gradually diminish as interest flags, and the elements of novelty and romance become too familiar to attract. Direct personal appeal was only possible at long intervals.

"The Bishop gave offence several times by refusing to preach about his own diocese and its needs.

'"The pulpit is not the place,' he said, 'from which to plead any cause but the great one of the Christian's duty. That I will tell you about.'

"It was only at meetings he would enter into details of his needs, and he never thought any gathering too unimportant for his very best efforts.

"We all in Ayot remember a Sunday evening on the village green, after a hard day's work, how he stood under one of the trees surrounded by the poor people and the children, all listening eagerly to every word he spoke to them.

"His pleading tone, when speaking of his Master's work, quickly drew out the sympathies of his audience--not to himself--but to the importance and seriousness of their duty to spread the knowledge of salvation.

"He had a way of effacing himself whenever he spoke of missionary work, and I can only account for his lasting influence in this place by the very fact that he put duty and high motive so conspicuously in front of everything else. It made us all feel ashamed of anything less than heart and soul work.

"The first time he came to the Rectory, his sunny, cheery manner, and his simple ways and habits, made every one feel at home with him at once.

"Always dignified in, and conscious of, his high office, nothing could be simpler than the manner of his life. He carried usually a small valise containing just a few necessaries, and a neat case with his robes of office, which he tried to have of the very best he could afford, but for his own personal use not a luxury of any kind.

"These are perhaps but little things, but surely an index of the character of the man who laid down his life for his Master's work.

"With his dying lips he commended to us a certain part of his Indian work which he had much at heart, and which he had hoped to see started and flourishing before he was called away.

"We must always thank God for what he was allowed to do here, and is doing, for, as his teaching was not of the sort that passes away with the teacher, we may surely venture to say this."

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