KING & BAIRD, PRINTERS, NO. 607 SANSOM STREET.
PHILADELPHIA, October 4th, 1865.
On motion, it was unanimously
Resolved, That this House do hereby extend its grateful acknowledgments to the LORD BISHOP OF MONTREAL, and METROPOLITAN OF CANADA, for his most appropriate and eloquent sermon delivered at the opening of this Convention; and that his Lordship be invited to attend at his pleasure the sittings of this House, and that a seat be provided for him at the right hand of the President.
On motion, it was further unanimously
Resolved, That the Secretary be directed to request a copy of the Sermon preached by the LORD BISHOP OF MONTREAL, at the opening of the Convention, and that fifteen hundred copies of the same be printed.
GEO. M. RANDALL,
Secretary of the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies.
As objects, which we gaze at with our bodily eye, increase or diminish in apparent magnitude in proportion to their distance from us, so it is with many of the events that happen to us in the course of our lives, or that are connected with the history of the world. But whatever may be their comparative importance, there can be no question that the meridian time of this nineteenth century is teeming with incidents and abounding with speculations, that must arrest the attention of all those who take a thoughtful interest in the prospects of the human race, whether for time or for eternity. Moreover, in consequence of the general and rapid intercourse now maintained by different nations, a movement in any one quarter of the world is felt throughout all, and a thought clothed in words passes, for good or for evil, throughout all. This is specially true in all matters connected with the speculations of the intellect, with science and philosophy. But while seeing the agencies now in operation, their force and magnitude, have we no reason to dread the fatal effects they are producing, when we look out upon this creation, as made for the habitation of creatures, who are here only as strangers and sojourners, but [3/4] are all rapidly, one after another, passing away to give account to that Lord, who placed them here to occupy for him?
In addressing such an assemblage as the one gathered here this day, and on such an occasion as the present, I am warranted in assuming that, while admitting the evils that exist, while we acknowledge what has been aptly termed, "the present abnormal state of the world," so different from its condition when it first passed from the Creator's hands, and "He saw every thing that He had made, and behold it was very good;" yet we have been taught that there is now a mighty power at work for counteracting the evil. We have been taught and believe that there is "a balm in Gilead "--that there is "a physician" there; and more than this, that we as ministers, stewards, ambassadors of Him who has provided the balm, and is Himself the Great Physician, are put in trust with the publication of the means of cure, and the dispensation of those good things whereby the health of the daughter of his people is to be recovered. This applies to us, in a measure, as individuals, but still more when meeting in any of the great councils of the Church of Christ; inasmuch as we are then wielding a mightier power, and one extending its influences for weal or for woe through the whole economy of our system, and so operating upon the state and condition of all around us. It is idle to waste time in discussing the question, why sin was ever permitted to enter into the world, and death by sin: or why the remedy was not made universal, absolute and certain. The enemy is here, and we have witnessed and heard with our ears, and our fathers have [4/5] told us, how effectual the remedy provided for us has been, how precious the balm, how all powerful the Physician, when his aid is sought. It is our business now to consider, whether we can in any way make its precepts more universal, and bring home the message we have to deliver, to the ears, to the heart, and to the conscience of the multitudes of perishing sinners that are crowding the highways and the byways of this busy, thoughtless world.
The most successful example, that we have on record, of any one put in trust with the dispensation of the Gospel, was certainly the great Apostle of the Gentiles, whose words I have chosen for my text: "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." There was much in the early life and training of this great man, that peculiarly fitted him for the work to which he was called. We must, however, receive this statement with its just limitations; in being "made all things to all men," he never intended to compromise any of the great articles of "the faith," or to ignore his position and calling as an apostle and minister of Christ. "Let a man so account of us, (he says,) as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God," while in his bold opposition to St. Peter he maintained the simplicity and purity of the faith as it is in Jesus. But these points being upheld in their integrity, he then sought to make himself "servant unto all, that he might gain the more," and "was made all things -to all men, that he might by all means save some." In a well known volume on the life of St. Paul, there are some excellent remarks respecting his singular fitness for the work to which he was sent. "We cannot [5/6] help noticing those circumstances of inward and outward preparation, which fitted him for his peculiar position of standing between the Jews and Gentiles. He was not a Sadducee; he had never Hellenized. He had been educated at Jerusalem; everything conspired to give him authority when he addressed his countrymen as a Hebrew of the Hebrews. At the same time, in his apostolical relations to the Church, he was quite disconnected with the other apostles; he had come in silence to a conviction of the truth at a distance from the Judaizing Christians, and had early overcome those prejudices which impeded so many in their approaches to the heathen. He had just been long enough at Jerusalem to be recognized and welcomed by the Apostolic College, but not long enough even to be known by face 'unto the churches in Judea.' He had been withdrawn into Cilicia till the baptism of the Gentiles, and the Providence of God had directed all the steps of his life to this one result. We are called on to notice the singular fitness of the last employment in which we have seen him engaged, for assuaging the suspicious feeling which separated the two great branches of the Church of Christ. In quitting for a time his Gentile converts at Antioch, and carrying a contribution of money to the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, he was by no means leaving the higher work for the lower; he was building for after times. The interchange of mutual benevolence was a safe foundation for future confidence. Temporal comfort was given in gratitude for spiritual good received. The Church's first days were christened with charity." [Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of St. Paul, C. IV.]
 We have none amongst us in these days that, in their individual characters, can for an instant be imagined as fit to be likened to the great Apostle. But what the Apostle was in his individual capacity the collective body of the Church certainly should be in its corporate character; and while maintaining her principles, should, in all her agencies and means of influence so adapt her organization as to be "all things to all men." It is a sign of proper life in a Church, when she can see facts, catch the realities of her position and deal with them. She is not a mere relic of bygone times, resting on the past. She has gifts and powers within her, and must be ever stirring them up. Should she neglect doing this, through adherence to mere routine or customary modes of speaking, then may we well feel alarm. Surely, we must all be forced to see that there is something to be done----times are changed, and changing; the ground is shaken; the world threatens, and requires energy; heresy undermines and demands zeal and watchfulness; and we look to her as our mother-guide to gather together her wise men and councillors, that they may, under the direction of the Spirit of God, be able to provide for the present emergencies. Nor is this a too highly strained view of the Church,. if she be indeed the body of Christ, a city set on a hill, the ground and pillar of the truth, if the promises of God rest upon her, and if the powers of hell shall never prevail against her. But if God has provided such an agency for the communication of the true knowledge of Himself for the publication of the Gospel, for the maintenance of the faith and the out. pouring of good gifts to men through the administration of the Ministry, with which He has endowed His Church, [7/8] it is our business, within the spheres i which we are severally called upon to act, to see that this great work be not hindered or negligently done. This is our duty as individuals, it is specially the duty of the great councils of the Church to take oversight and provide for this. In these days there is great activity of the intellect; philosophy and science are busy, and the minds of men are excited and inquiring. On this subject I will quote a few remarks of a modern writer: he says, "Ours are times of stirring interest, perhaps more universally so than any period since that which immediately preceded the first advent of our Lord. In every department of science and philosophy, in politics and national relations, in the organizations of society, and in theoretical religion, there is a movement and an increasing agitation--an agitation, not like the every-day ebbing and flowing of the waters, but like the uneasy heaving, which warns the fisherman that he must back to his anchorage, for the spirit of the storm is arousing from his sleep in the under caverns. Strange notions are afloat of right and wrong. Doctrines are taught which, in the dark ages, men would have blushed to set their names to. Whatsoever thing is new in the place and time accords with the public taste and is held in public approval. The people of this age are fed upon a strange compound of deep research and shallow reasoning; and it is not the many but the very few that know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. There is a doubt and an uncertainty and a wavering in men's minds. They ask and they are informed, and then they question the veracity of their instructors. [8/9] They work and are not satisfied with their labor--they are idle and do not rest. An industrious instability, an energetic feebleness of purpose, it is thus seen, is the historical character preparing for the meridian time of the nineteenth century. Yet all these are but so many testimonials that truth, disturbing, oversetting, error- exterminating truth, is busy with the mind Of the mil lion. And with all this variance and change, and passing to and fro, the earth is growing old. Nature has developed the mightiness of her power; art has exhibited her endless combinations of wonder. The multitude has gazed and departed; the learned have studied and laid aside their books. Human intellect has measured the height of the high heaven, and sounded the depths of the deep sea; man's research has brought for the people the tale of the past, and they know it all, and are weary with its repeating; and they have asked a prophecy of the future, and intellect and. research have faltered and failed; and the people are restless about the future; and they ask every man his brother the interpretation of his dream. Six thousand years are nearly fulfilled since God created man the Saturday evening of the world is coming nearer and nearer; and the whisper, and the murmur, and the cry is spreading, 'What shall be on the morrow?'"
If there be any reality in such a picture, what is the present duty of the Church of the living God? Is she to shrink from the contest with any or all the powers of this world? Is she to seek for security in ignorance, or to endeavor to repress the active energy of some of the [9/10] richest gifts of God to man? She cannot if she would-- she ought not if she could. Is it not rather her office--
"Still to lead the age's great expansions,
Progressive circles towards thought's Sabbath rest,
And point beyond them to the 'many mansions,'
Where Christ is with the blest."
And whether it be in collision with the young or the old, the highly educated or the ignorant, the man of business or of leisure, the rich or the poor, the willing disciple, or in the dens of infamy and vice, the Church ought to try and have her machinery prepared for carrying on the work of sanctifying every state and condition in life-- "bringing out of her treasury things new and old"--fresh schemes, fresh adaptations, united agencies, but in all with a fifed conservation of the same great principles of faith, and obedience to the general laws and ministry of the Catholic Church.
Looking at any individual agents, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels," and hence we are taught to disclaim the merit, if any good results arise from any work to which we may have been sent; while if any failure takes place, it is not through any inefficiency of the powers offered, but from the neglect or unfaithfulness of those who have been entrusted with them.
These are grave considerations for all of us; and we all know how great an element of strength there is in unity of action and well-defined discipline, especially where large numbers are concerned. We ha all felt and acknowledged the sad effects produced by the divisions in the Church forced upon us by the corruptions and pretensions of the Church of Rome; we are conscious [10/11] of the anxious longing in so many hearts for some guiding light which might teach us how to gather up again the scattered fragments of the great human family, and bring them into close relation with each other and with God, as the living body of Christ. And when we can do anything to further this good work, without com promise of any of the principles of the Christian Church, how much are we bound to be made all things to all men! All may do something to help by their prayers, by the consistency of their own lives, by the largeness of their charity; and so from individuals to parishes, from parishes to Dioceses, from Dioceses to Provinces and National Churches, the work may grow and extend, until we can once more see something approaching to the great oecumenical Councils of primitive times, witnessing for God and eternity, and the purity and simplicity of the Catholic faith, in the midst of the strife and gainsayings of this evil world.
We have just held our third Provincial Synod of the Canadian Church, at which all the dioceses were fully represented. We have had many and serious difficulties to contend with, arising out of our past and present position. There were grave differences of opinion on some most important points; and much evil might have arisen, and was anticipated by some. But thanks be to God, through the gracious influence of His good spirit, as we believe, operating upon the hearts of His servants, and the moderation and Christian temper evinced, we were enabled to pass through the trial in the happiest manner, and have now our internal general organization established, as we trust, with the good will of the Church of the whole [11/12] Province. You, my brethren, have all gone through a far sterner and different discipline during the last few years. The wounds and troubles caused by it, to the nation and to yourselves, it is now your office, as Christians and Churchmen, as far as your influence will extend, to soothe and to settle.
A stranger, as I must be, to those intenser emotions with which you have all been affected, I yet claim to have the deepest interest in all that concerns your branch of the Church of Christ. And I claim this not merely as administering a diocese immediately bordering on your own, not merely as enjoying, with all my brethren, a communion with you in one common faith and ministry, but on grounds special to myself:, and which, I think, over and above any other reason, and as it were actually identifying me with yourselves, justify my being permitted the unusual privilege of occupying my present place on this most important occasion. And it is this--that nearly three-quarters of a century after you had originally received your Episcopate from our Mother Church of England, I was the first bishop of the Anglican Church that ever joined, with your own bishops, in laying hands on any presbyter about to be raised to the Episcopal office among you; which I did in the case of the late lamented Bishop Wainwright. On which occasion I received a letter from one of your Bishops, present here this day, saying, "I esteem it no ordinary privilege to have been a participator in the first action by which the daughter and mother churches have reinosculated their succession; and that our Episcopacy receives a fresh communication of the Apostolic grace from the parent channel."
 On this, on every ground then, I feel the deepest interest in all that can promote the peace and the strength of your communion. Your lot is cast in a nation of immense resources and influence; you yourselves occupy in that nation a very foremost position. Whatever you do, will be felt far and wide. My earnest prayer is that you may go forth again with your well-ordered company of God's sacramental host in all its full entirety, to labor as His witness before men, to leaven the masses with principles of Christian truth and love, to be "made all things to all men, that you may by all means save some." And beyond the borders of even your own great nation, you may be a powerful connecting link with the Old World, and by your influence and character do much to remove prejudices, soften heart-burnings, and promote that peace and good will, which we all must long to see flourish and abound. But if such results are ever to be accomplished--if the work of evangelizing the, world is ever really to make way, it must be by largely exhibiting that spirit of Christian love, which animated the great Apostle, and which he has himself so fully described in his Epistle to the Corinthians--a spirit which "suffereth long, and is kind--is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Yes, power may force submission--wealth may purchase service, but love, love alone will win the heart and ensure the continuance of amity and peace. "Peace I leave with you," says Christ, "my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you." And if this peace be disturbed, we know it is through the [13/14] passions and. infirmities of poor humanity. The venerable and good Hooker exclaimed on his dying bed: "I have lived to see that the world is full of perturbations;" and he longed for the peace and rest of those that depart hence in the Lord. And we who are still called to our work in it, must all too sadly re-echo his words. But, "O Lord, thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." And oh, if at peace with God, and in our own con science, then we may hope to "be at peace among our selves." And these indeed are days when they that really fear the Lord have need to speak often one to another, and to endeavor to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. And though we may never see it in this life, yet we may be assured that a day is coming, when "a King shall reign in righteousness, and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."