AN apology is due to my brethren of the Clergy for the tardiness of my compliance with their desire, most kindly expressed, that I should publish the following Charge: but I believe that they will themselves know how to make my excuse.
It may be proper to mention, that in consequence of my having been under the impression that the Charge was rather long, the whole of it was not delivered at any one time; but every part of it was delivered either in one or other of the places, where the Clergy were assembled for the visitation, and every essential part was delivered in all.
Since the following sheets were first put to press, the Report of the late Governor General and High Commissioner has been received in this country. It is impossible that any thing can more strongly and more ominously exemplify the correctness of the remarks made in pp. 10-12 of the Charge. Let the Clergy stand prepared. Let them not be parties to any surrender of what they conscientiously believe to be the claims and interests of the Church, but let them judge what may be likely to follow in the end, if statements such as those in the following extracts from the document just mentioned, should really be [iii/iv] taken as the basis of legislation, and the guide of government. Let them observe also the commendation bestowed in other quarters and withheld from themselves, upon points where I am thankful to say that He who sees all, and whose approbation is all in all, knows that they are, as a body, richly entitled to it. Let them be assured that, with the Divine blessing, I will not be wanting in any feeble endeavours of mine to procure them justice, but let them discern, in the necessity for those endeavours, the signs of the times.
No person at all acquainted with the facts of the case respecting the alleged powers of Rectors--the proceedings of the Church in the maintenance of its pretensions, the working of the voluntary principle on this side of the Atlantic, the proportion of the poorer classes who belong to the Church of England, and the exertions of the Church Clergy, not only in the field of Missionary labour, but in the Missionary character which very generally attaches to their ordinary duties, can fail to see at once how these facts are not simply at variance, but pointedly contrasted with the impressions which persons unfriendly to the Church appear to have made it their business to communicate to the mind of His Excellency, and which, through his Report, have been communicated to the British government, legislature, and people.
Marchmont, near Quebec,
* * * But the last public act of Sir John Colborne before quitting the government of the province, in 1835, which was the establishment of the fifty-seven Rectories, has completely changed the aspect of the question. It is understood that every Rector possesses all the spiritual and other privileges enjoyed by an English Rector; and that, though he may have no right to levy tithes (for even this has been made a question), he is, in all other respects, in precisely the same position as a Clergyman of the Established Church in England. * * * * * * The Church of England in Upper Canada, by numbering in its ranks all those who belong to no other sect, represents itself as being more numerous than any single denomination of Christians in the country. * *
The superiority of what is called the voluntary principle, is a question on which I may almost say that there is no difference of opinion in the United [v/vi] States, and it cannot be denied that on this, as on other points, the tone of thought prevalent in the Union has exerted a very considerable influence over the neighbouring provinces.
* * * * * * * * *
The Church, too, for which alone it is proposed that the State should provide, is the Church which, being that of the wealthy, can best provide for itself, and has the fewest poor to supply with gratuitous religious instruction. Another consideration which distinguishes the grounds on which such a question must be decided in old and new countries is, that the state of society in the latter is not susceptible of such an organization as is necessary for the efficiency of any Church Establishment of which I know, more especially of one so constituted as the Established Church of England; for the essence of the Establishment is its Parochial Clergy. The services of a Parochial Clergy are almost inapplicable to a colony, where a constantly varying population is widely scattered over the country. Any Clergy there must be rather Missionary than Parochial.
A CHARGE, &c.
AT the time when I made my Visitation of the Lower Province, for the inspection of the Churches and, the Confirmation of young persons who had been prepared for that rite, the late Bishop of Quebec was still living and I was acting simply as his delegate. [In the beginning of 1837, and for the district of Gaspé, in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, in the summer of that year.] This circumstance, to make no mention of some other considerations which conspired with it, appeared to me to dispense with the necessity, if not to forbid the propriety, of my calling together any portion of my brethren to receive the episcopal charge.
The independent administration of the Diocese having since passed into my hands, (although no appointment to the See of Quebec has taken place,) and the protraction of those negotiations which were long ago set on foot for the erection of a separate [7/8] See at Toronto, and of which the speedier issue, if successful, would have withheld me from making the Visitation of Upper Canada, having now decided me to leave that Province no longer without the personal ministrations of the Bishop, I have judged that it might be of mutual advantage that when thus engaged in completing the Visitation, I should meet my brethren in a body at those different points in the enormous extent of this Diocese, of which their convenience would indicate the choice. [They were assembled accordingly, for the Lower Province, at Quebec and Montreal. It was in compliance with the desire of the Clergy themselves in Upper Canada, a desire founded upon the obvious inconvenience of deliberating in two distinct bodies at a distance from each other, upon some matters in which it was necessary to come to one conclusion,--that the Visitation of the whole Province was fixed at Toronto, instead of being held both at that place and at Kingston.]
I have expressed the hope that our meeting may be of mutual advantage, and although I wish to say as little as possible, I must here say something which personally regards myself. If I do not despair, that, by the Divine blessing, the advice which I am now about to offer, or other more familiar suggestions made during your stay, may be of use to you in the exercise of your duties, I certainly no less anticipate that I may derive benefit from the opportunity thus afforded of our taking sweet counsel together, and walking in the house of God as friends. I see among you those to whom I might say, I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee [8/9] by the putting on of my hands, and who of course are young in the Ministry, but I pray you to believe that I am ready to receive help from all, and want all the help that I can receive. I scarcely need assure you that I am sensible how much I need your. indulgence of judgment, and your prayers that I may be guided and prospered in the task which has devolved upon feeble and unworthy hands. You will not suspect that they are words of course which I use. I do not affect to deny that I have had some experience of ecclesiastical affairs, or that there are circumstances which give me an adaptation to certain local peculiarities in the charge; and if I were not conscious, in addition to these considerations, of possessing such general qualifications as enable me in some small measure to sustain the respectability of the office,--above all, if I did not humbly trust that God has given me some concern for the grand objects of that as well as of other offices in the Christian Ministry,--I could not have been justified in accepting it, although if I had not done so, the Church in Canada, from circumstances with which you are acquainted, would have been seen for an indefinite time without a Bishop. But if I had reason to shrink beforehand from the charge, I do solemnly assure you, that in the occupation of it, I daily feel cause to tremble.
Among the difficulties now attaching to the charge, is ode circumstance which in another point of view would seem to be an eminent advantage--namely, that I have to take up and carry on the labours left to me [9/10] by such a man as the Bishop of Quebec. It is not my purpose to enlarge upon the character of that devoted servant of the Lord, whose race, in our weak apprehension, seems to have run out too soon. Upwards of a year has now elapsed since his decease, and in accordance with the voice which was lifted to lament him in every quarter where his name had been known, we have rendered our testimony, in different ways, to his zeal in the cause of that Master for whom it was his glory to spend and to be spent. We all personally loved him: many of us were specially obliged to him, and for myself I can truly say, that his long and unvarying friendship for me is among the most treasured recollections of my life. But with such a name as he had and so nobly earned, and with some advantages at his command which I do not possess, he has bequeathed to me a task in the execution of which you will feel that I can ask no fitter prayer from you than that a portion of that spirit by which he was animated may be shed down upon me from the Father of lights.
Upon this occasion of our first meeting as we now meet, it appears natural and proper that I should call upon you to contemplate with me for our own profit, the actual state both of the Church of England at large, and of that portion of it in particular, which has been planted in the Diocese of Quebec. The position of the Church, whether general or local, is in some points of view, critical, and even alarming; and a very exact application may be made to the existing [10/11] circumstances in which she is placed, of the language used by an ancient father, with reference to his own day upon the earth: "The times are difficult: those who conspire against us are many;" with the addition, as it respects too many of her professed adherents, of the words which follow,--"the genuine spirit of love has become extinct." Parties in the mother country very widely at variance with each other upon the subject of Religion, appear to have cast their heads together with one consent, and to be confederate against her; and from the character of the times, these parties are rendered formidable in a way which the merits of their cause could never make them. The ruling powers at home, perhaps in many instances feeling or conceiving their position to be one in which they can only say, non est ista nostra culpa sed temporum, are found scarcely to afford justice to interests which are identified with the cause of established authority and order, and the maintenance of what is venerable human institutions; and the ungenerous cry of those who have found their own opportunities of advancement or distinction in exciting odium against the Church, aided by the unconsidered statements of others whose war against old prejudices is in fact the great prejudice of their own minds, has been allowed to prevail too far against claims which are at once legitimate in themselves and connected with the highest interests of man.
 In this Diocese we have experienced our full share of the effect of these principles upon the prosperity and efficiency of the Church. We have risen, indeed, by the Divine blessing, since the Church first assumed a consistent form under the auspices of one whom I forbear to name,--we have risen from very feeble beginnings, to a state in which we now number considerably above a hundred Clergymen, with many orderly and devout congregations. Yet constituted as we are an integral portion of the Established Church of England, we have, from unpropitious circumstances, been left to occupy in the eye of the world a dubious position, and to appear in an equivocal character; our claims still unsettled, and the support of our Clergy partial, meagre, and precarious, to the infinite detriment of religion, and the manifest perpetuation of those very jealousies and contentions of which the apprehension has dictated this temporizing policy, but of which the existence is to be traced to the want of an avowed and decided maintenance of the Church-Establishment as it was originally planned. With you, however, my Reverend Brethren, I need not enter into particulars upon this topic. We have done, and, by God's help, shall continue to do our part, I trust in all charity and meekness, to urge and to uphold what we believe to be our own right, the glory of a Christian Government and the blessing of a land: the issue we must [12/13] confide to the hands of God. What I am anxious to bring under your notice is, first, the great comfort and ground of thankfulness which we enjoy in all the difficulties and struggles of the Church; and secondly, the peculiar responsibility which we contract under the circumstances of the time.
With reference to the first point, I do believe that there never was a period in which the Church of England, considered as a whole, presented an aspect so satisfactory as at this day. I do not mean to say that the Church-Establishment is faultless, or that any branch of the Church on earth will ever be totally and literally without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. We shall always have reason, if perfection be insisted upon, to say, as was said in a Latin distich by one who was a burning and shining light in the Church of England,
They want that the Church should be free from every speck:
This the present life denies; the future life will afford it.
[Optant ut careat maculis Ecclesia cunctis:
Praesens vita negat; vita futura dabit.--Bernard Gilpin.]
But when we see what a spirit, within the memory of living man, it has pleased God to shed down upon the Church; how many evils have been. corrected and what new life has been infused into the whole system; when we witness the sincerity and the fervour with which Christ crucified is proclaimed by the Clergy; when we behold with what true fidelity and zeal a great and still increasing portion of that [13/l4] body devote themselves to the labours of the pastoral charge, and what care is taken by the rulers of the Church to preserve a high standard of character and qualifications among her Ministers; when we contemplate the variety and the magnitude of efforts made within the Church for the diffusion of spiritual blessings at home and abroad; when we look at the prodigious multiplication of our places of worship in England, and the progressive enlargement of Associations for the promotion of education and the communication of religious light, and then turn our regards to what is done, with little aid from the State, for distant dependencies of the Empire, and darkened corners of the earth,--for Colonist, for Gentile, and for Jew; when we see what an energetic piety, what a noble munificence in religious works, what a love for the National Establishment, what a growing attachment to Church principles, is manifested among the laity as well as the Clergy, and is found often in the highest orders of the realm; when we consider that although the establishment of Colonial Bishoprics is still lamentably insufficient and most unworthy of the Empire, yet the formation of two Sees in the West Indies, and four, including Australia, in the East, has taken place within the recollection of all here present,--we have surely ground to bless the name of our God, in the synoptical survey of these interesting facts, for the mercy which [14/15] He has granted to us, with all our sins, that our Church should not fall behind in the race; and we should be encouraged to believe that He has not cast her off, but that a distinguished part is reserved for her in forwarding the blessed consummation, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.
While we are permitted, however, to exult in these thoughts, we must remember, with a heightened sense of responsibility, what interest we have in charge--THE INTEREST OF CHRIST ON EARTH, to the promotion of which "one thing" we have vowed "as much as in us lies, wholly to apply ourselves, laying aside the study of the world and of the flesh." [Ordination of Priests.] If the times are difficult and there are many adversaries; if, at the same time, a great spirit of religion has been awakened in the world, and different parties are seen emulous of each other in seeking to advance the kingdom of God; if the Clergy of the Church of England are posted in a conspicuous station, and are eminently as a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid;--if our brethren in other quarters, strong in the power of faith, are doing great things in the cause,--striving successfully against the tide of worldly opposition, and surmounting, in some instances, the threatening waves of trouble; if the present conjuncture is highly critical with reference to the ecclesiastical affairs of these provinces, and consequences of vast [15/16] importance to future generations in this rising country may depend upon the foundation now laid for the Church, then, amidst all these incitements to vigilance and zeal, it will be required of us that we be found with our loins girded and our lights burning, and like unto men that wait for their Lord. And if the signs of the times appear pregnant with great events, and the astonishing advances of science, more especially in its practical application to the purposes of international communication, seem destined, in the hands of Providence, to open the way for a new and marked era of the Gospel, which, according to the anticipations of many religious persons, may be pre L ceded and introduced by scenes of trial and sore tribulation in the Church,--then we are solemnly called upon, not simply as the soldiers of the Cross, but as the leaders of the battle, to take unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Having touched, however, upon the signs of the times, and the prospects of the universal Church of Christ, I feel it necessary to advert to the extreme diffidence and reverent caution with which we should pronounce upon yet unaccomplished prophecy; and indulge our speculations, too apt to lead to presumptuous error, upon the magnificent future of the Gospel victorious in the world. It is not for us to know the times or seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. And hence I take occasion--looking at certain incidental effects which are connected with great [16/17] efforts in religion, in modern, as they have been in earlier times, to recommend the Christian grace of moderation: a holy moderation and sobriety in all the varied exercise of ministerial duty; in the methods adopted for the propagation of the truth of God--yes, and in the very preaching of the blessed doctrines of grace. If what I recommend seem to be the cowardly accommodation to the world for which the fervent Paul would have withstood us to the face, or the lukewarmness of spirit which Christ will indignantly reject, then, my brethren, stop your ears against my words. But in that combination which is charged upon Christian teachers of the qualities of the serpent with those of the dove, great discretion and great gentleness appear to be implied: and it is known to have been a distinguishing characteristic of our own reformers that they shunned some extremes to which others in the heat of the struggle were carried away. The mild and moderate Melanchthon, among foreign reformers, was not found to turn his back in the hour of danger. In the religion of the Gospel, as well as in other things which engage the mind of man, there are certain bounds within or without which, that which is right cannot stand. Although it is most certainly true, that we can never be too religious or too devoted, yet it is equally certain that in the developement and the exercise of the [17/18] religious affections, there is often, through the infirmity of nature, a tendency to religious irregularity and to what may properly be called religious excess. In those points especially which create parties and party names within the bosom of the Church itself, the most vehement and eager spirits on either side will not be found, I believe, to be the nearest to the truth; and the approximation of parties to each other, each losing something of its own and borrowing from its opposite, is, according to my own convictions, the issue for which we should devoutly pray and for every manifestation of which (and these are not few) we should render thanks to our God.
I apprehend that there is no one doctrine of the Gospel which does not receive the tincture of error, when pushed to an extreme; and we are sometimes accused of not going far enough; when the very fact of our stopping where we do, is the evidence of our keeping step, if I may use so familiar an illustration, with the Gospel itself Truth exaggerated is not higher truth: it is rather truth deteriorated by some alloy. Instances might be given, without number, to support the justice of this remark; and we see it very plainly exemplified, if we have recourse to the stronger shades of difference among believers in Revelation upon certain points of their faith. Because one party will lower and dilute to nothing the vital doctrine of the work of the Spirit in the heart and understanding, another deals in sensible revelations and impulses, or proceeds to the extravagance of [18/19] claiming the miraculous gifts of Apostolic times:--because one party preaches the law rather than the Gospel, another seeking to magnify the covenant of grace, will tread upon the verge of Antinomian error: because one party makes religion consist in forms and ritual observances, another makes it an evidence of spirituality to depreciate, or even to dispense with, the very Sacraments themselves.
Upon similar principles, I cannot forbear from stating my opinion that we ought to manifest a wise spirit of allowance and charitable construction in some lesser matters relating to particular habits, usages, observances, or religious phraseology. Things which are often found among the accidental characteristics are thence liable to be regarded as the necessary evidences of a devoted piety and a genuine faith in Christ. There are many things in human life, many more than some religious persons are willing to allow, which must be left to the province of Christian liberty and discretion,--and of which it must be said that neither if we do them are we the better, nor if we do them not, the worse, and vice verse; what may be inexpedient for one man, may be conceded to another--nothing being insisted upon as of universal obligation, which does not carry the distinct warrant of the word of God--no burthen imposed which would not have been imposed by the Apostolic Council at Jerusalem.
Upon this subject of moderation, I am not ashamed to have recourse to the support of a female writer--the [19/20] late Mrs. Hannah More,--the preface to whose work on Practical Piety contains the following pertinent remarks:
"Would it could not be said that religion has her parties as well as politics. Those who endeavour to steer clear of all extremes in either, are in danger of being reprobated by both. It is rather a hardship for persons who have considered it as a Christian duty to cultivate a spirit of moderation in thinking, and of candour in judging, that when these dispositions are brought into action they frequently incur a harsher censure than the errors which it was their chief aim to avoid.
"Perhaps, therefore," she continues, "to that human wisdom whose leading object is human applause, it might answer best to be exclusively attached to some one party. On the protection of that party at least, it might in that case reckon; and it would then have the dislike of the opposite class alone to contend against; while those who cannot go all lengths with either, can hardly escape the disapprobation of both."
These remarks, as it appears to me, are very applicable not only to the judgments which we pronounce, but to the part which we feel called upon to take with reference to the professors of the Roman Catholic religion. I would willingly avoid this topic; but duty forbids my passing it without notice. [20/21] I conceive that it is our manifest duty, as, if we, have any love to the souls of men, it must be our earnest desire, wherever a door seems opened to. us by the hand of Providence, to propagate the simple truth of God, and to declare Jesus Christ to sinners as their Saviour, in a manner in which he cannot be presented to them by a system encumbered; with human devices,-. and, according to the language of our own Articles, plainly repugnant, in many points, to the word of God. And so far, I think, we shall be all agreed. But with respect to the most eligible and judicious mode in which we can prosecute the object of advancing the cause of Scriptural truth, a great diversity of opinion may exist among persons equally concerned for the honour of God; and it is at least a question whether more is not likely to be ultimately done towards the attainment of this object, by a prudent and moderate course of proceeding, and very often by the unobserved working of a holy leaven in the mass of society,--the indirect influence of a purer faith, as recommending itself by its fruits, and winning friends by its deportment, than by the provocation of a public challenge, or the disturbance of an impetuous assault upon the host encamped around us under the banner of Rome. [This applies to a particular portion of the Diocese--namely, that portion of Lower Canada which is inhabited by the old French population.] One thing is plain:--that our first duty is to our own followers.; our care of them, with the limited resources which we have at [21/22] command, seems likely for a long time to be more than sufficient to fill our hands, and our incursions in other quarters may be reserved till we have means and energies to spare, after supplying our own ill-provided people; at least we must take care that nothing is left undone for their direct benefit, because we are engaged in a different employment of our zeal. The Apostles, in the execution of their commission, and the choice of their field of labour, were directed by the revelations of the Spirit of God: we can only gather from circumstances what it is the will of God that we should attempt and make our experiments, seeking such light as is now vouchsafed in answer to the prayer of faith, according to the result which appearances may promise.
I desire, however, my reverend brethren, to have it well understood, that whatever charity of judgment, whatever Christian courtesy of language, whatever prudent caution of proceeding for the very sake of advancing the interests of truth, it may be proper to manifest in this behalf, I am most fully alive to the necessity of our making a resolute stand against that spirit which walks abroad, and to which, by a mere perversion of language, the name of liberality is often conceded; a spirit which confounds all distinction between truth and error, and absolutely tends to nullify the effect of revelation. Certain wonderful truths are made known to us from heaven: the correct application of. those truths furnishes the remedy for our moral and spiritual disorders, and [22/23] conveys to the soul of man the principle of everlasting life. The preservation of those truths, therefore, in their purity as well as their integrity, liable as they are, through the corruption of nature, to be obscured and debased, is among the foremost duties of the Church, and the most solemnly important concerns of human society. Any compromise of Scriptural principles of religion becomes, in this point of view, alike dangerous and sinful; and we should warn those who are spiritually under our charge, that they do not suffer themselves to be led into any such compromise from motives either of domestic ease, of social good understanding, of commercial interest, or of political expediency. In all these points the world will often be found at issue with the Gospel of God, and we must only say to them, Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. And if we encounter odium in this discharge of our duty, we must call to mind the words of an Apostle, Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you, and those of our blessed Lord himself, Ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
We should warn our people also, when we are upon the subject of political differences and agitations, of the awful responsibility which they will incur, if they are forgetful of the scenes through which we have all recently passed. The right hand of God was so conspicuously stretched forth, and in so many different ways, in the protection of the cause of loyalty, when the insurrection broke out in these [23/24] provinces, as to extort, even from the unthinking, a devout acknowledgment of Providential interposition. [In the end of 1837 and commencement of 1838.] And we had public fasts, and proclaimed thanksgivings. All must not end there. We must, as a community, rejoice with trembling in our deliverance; and remember that fresh scourges are ready in the hand of God. We must be humbled under a sense of our sins,--thankful for the mercy which we have experienced, watchful against forgetfulness of Divine judgment, fruitful in those Christian works which are prompted by all these combined considerations. And it will be happy if the Clergy can be instrumental, not only in cherishing that spirit of loyalty which must characterize the true followers of the Church, but in convincing any unthinking part of the population of the great wickedness, as well as folly, of seditious agitations in a country where, if there has been a fault chargeable upon the government, it is that of an unwise relaxation of the authority reposed in its hands for the common good. Never can,--I will not say rebellion,--but never can those proceedings which tend to rebellion be suffered to pass under the colour of the mere maintenance of a different side in politics. Where: can there be worse authors of mischief than those who, not to speak of bloodshed and devastation of property, disturb and distract it peaceful country, and blast the [24/25] rising prosperity of a people, to serve the purposes of faction?--or, if men acknowledge the authority of the word of God, what sin is there more broadly stamped with the brand of the Divine displeasure, than the sin of those who resist and despise power and are not afraid to speak evil of dignities? Warn, therefore, all who are in danger, as the messengers of God. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers; to obey magistrates; to be ready to every good work; to submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake. Charge them in the words of wisdom, My son, fear thou the Lord and the King, and meddle not with them that are given to change.
Before dismissing the subject of the uncompromising maintenance of principle in opposition to that which passes in the world for liberality, I must offer a very few observations relating to what are sometimes called the peculiarities of the Established Church. I shall not occupy your time by an endeavour to refute the shallow and unscriptural notion that Christian unity and charity consist in the establishment of a commodious sort of understanding among parties divided in religious communion, that they agree to differ. Certainly they ought to endeavour to live in peace, and in the interchange of all christian good offices; and it is equally certain that each ought to rejoice in every instance in which another may promote the cause of Christ, and be ready to put the most liberal construction, (I do not avoid the use of the word, for true liberality is a beautiful [25/26] feature of the Gospel) upon all the proceedings of separate bodies, or individuals belonging to them. We ought to honour and to imitate all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, although they walk not with us. And it would be as difficult to deny, as it would be criminal to wish to deny, that the blessing and grace of God is often with those whose ministry we regard as irregularly constituted. But with all this, I conceive that we place ourselves in a very false position, and fail to act, in one point, the part which God has assigned to us in the world, if ever we adopt that language or lend ourselves to those proceedings in which the Church is regarded as a Sect among Sects. It is quite foreign to my purpose to argue here the question of Episcopacy: but if we believe that the Apostles founded and framed an Episcopal Church; if we trace the plan of such a Church in the Scriptures; if following up our enquiries to throw light on the question by comparison of Scripture with early ecclesiastical records, we arrive at that conclusion which enables us with the incomparable Hooker to challenge the opponents of our system, that they show but one Church upon the face of the whole earth, from the Apostolic times to the Reformation, that was not episcopal; if all the remnants of ancient Churches now existing in the East have preserved this constitution from their beginning, and our own Church has opened interesting [26/27] communications with them which may be designed to lead the way to their renovation in holy communion with ourselves; if the real strength of Rome consists only in the multiplied divisions and unseemly disarray of the Protestant Churches; if this can never be cured, so long as the vicious principle is admitted that Christians may lawfully form new societies, and create new Ministries at will; if it was the singular blessing of our own, among other Churches, at the Reformation, to preserve the ancient order and the uninterrupted succession of her hierarchy; if, lastly, these principles are so pointedly recognized, so fully received and acted upon in her practice, that we accept the orders as valid, of a Romish priest who recants, although we re-ordain all Protestant Ministers who pass over to us from non-episcopal Churches, then, with this chain of facts before our eyes, I do conceive that we are wanting alike in our consistency as Churchmen, and our duty in the Church universal, if, swayed by the stream of prevailing opinion, studying an ill-understood popularity, or even prompted by an amiable spirit of conciliation, we consent to prejudice the exclusive character of our Ministry, and voluntarily descend from the ground which we occupy with our people and other Protestant Episcopalians, as a distinct and peculiar body among the Churches.
And is this to exalt ourselves, and to preach ourselves instead of Christ Jesus our Lord? Far [27/28] otherwise than this if rightly considered, our claims to Apostolic order and succession, as is well pointed out by a late excellent Colonial prelate, should humble us in the dust under a sense of the greatness of our calling so far above our worthiness and strength. [Heber.] Whatever affords a heightened view of the office which we hold, and the part which we have to sustain in the Church of God, can only--or should only,--prompt us to deeper earnestness in seeking that sufficiency which is of Him alone.
I bless God that there is not wanting good evidence among us of our having recourse to that sufficiency--but what a field is before us! how ought we each to labour that we may gather with our Lord, and how importunately to pray that more labourers may be sent forth into the ripening harvest which spreads itself around us; that larger blessing may descend upon those institutions at home, (foremost among which we must mention the venerable and munificent Societies for the Propagation of the Gospel and Promoting Christian Knowledge) and those endeavours upon the spot, of which it is the object to supply our destitute settlements. I am disposed also to think, and I shall take occasion, from our meeting, to follow up the suggestion, that we might, with much advantage, establish in this Diocese, a Church Society, similar to that which has been framed under the auspices of an able and zealous Bishop, in the neighbouring Diocese of Nova Scotia.
 In seeking to recommend the Church, according to our bounden duty, in the eyes of our own people or of others, and to give the fullest effect to the beautiful offices of her Liturgy, there is a principle to be observed of which I have taken notice upon former occasions in addressing my brethren in a different capacity, but which I am prompted briefly to touch upon, because it is in danger from local circumstances, of partially falling into disregard--I mean the principle of rendering the services of the Church more impressive by the manner of performing them, and by the exterior reverence and decorum with which they are clothed. The preface to the Common Prayer Book, the Canons and the Rubrics, more particularly in the Communion office, afford sufficient evidence of the care which was wisely taken by our holy Reformers, while they purged away from our worship the cumbrous pageantry of superstition, to preserve the utmost gravity, solemnity, and order in the public ministrations of the Church; and to shed over them a venerable air fitted to remind men of the awe with which they should approach the things of God. The forms and ceremonies of the Church, the prescribed postures of worship, the habits of those who officiate, the vessels of the Sanctuary, the several appendages and distinctions of our National Churches, are all designed to aid in this effect; and, as servants of the Church, we ought to act in the spirit, and, wherever we can, according to the letter of her regulations. [29/30] The disuse upon the ordinary occasions of life, of a distinguishing ecclesiastical dress, is a departure from wise and venerable rules, from which our Clergy ought never to take licence to depart farther than, according to the now received usage, they are obliged to do. They should never betray a disposition to secularize the character and office which they hold. And in the actual performance of any ecclesiastical function, no deviation can be justified for which the plea of necessity cannot be advanced. No needless irregularity should be suffered to creep into our performance of official duty which may settle by degrees into a precedent.
To pass, however, to considerations of a higher nature,--I would observe that among very many disadvantages attaching to our situation as a Colonial branch of the Church, we have our advantages too; and it is not the least of these that in many parts of the Diocese, we are less trammelled by circumstances in making an approach to that holy discipline, the restoration of which, according to the language of the Church herself, is "much to be wished." [Commination Office.] The existence of any such advantage ought to be turned to the utmost account. Instances have not been wanting in this Diocese in which communicants who have given scandal by some irregularity, have made public reparation to the assembled company of worshippers; and I cannot but commend the endeavour, which has been used with success by some of our [30/31] Clergy, to revive the practice enjoined in the prayerbook, that persona desirous of presenting themselves at the Lord's Supper, at least unless they are accepted and constant communicants, should intimate their purpose beforehand to their pastor.
I could enlarge upon this topic, and there are others which I could wish to notice, particularly the encouragement and the direction of Sunday Schools, were it not time that (if I may borrow the allusion,) I should draw in my sails and make for the shore. I will only say, then, in conclusion, that if, as I have intimated in the course of these observations, we stand as a distinct and peculiar body, in virtue of our being a branch of the Episcopal Church, this is not the highest or the most important peculiarity by which we should be marked. Our distinction as Episcopalians will very little avail us, unless we take heed that we are not behind others in the genuine characteristics of the people of God; a PECULIAR people, in the language of one Apostle, zealous of good works--a chosen generation; according to the description of another, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a PECULIAR people, who show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. This is the mark which we should set before our followers, and to the attainment of which we should seek to lead them on. We should keep clear and conspicuously bright the lamp of Holy Truth, which, [31/32] as the Priests of the Temple, we are appointed to watch; holding forth constantly to view (for this is the life and light of the Church, and in exact proportion as it is obscured, our Ministry fails of its purpose,) the salvation of sinners through the free Grace of God in Christ Jesus. We should magnify the love which was displayed in the rescue of a guilty race, and in the gift of the Spirit of Holiness: we should press these things home to the bosoms of our hearers, and teach men to make them their own:--we should labour night and day to awaken those who are plunged in the sleep of sin, and to dissipate the dreams of those who smooth over the Doctrines of the Cross, and are satisfied in conscience, because they satisfy the nominally Christian world: we should regard it as the business of our lives to be instrumental in turning men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. And even if it were to please God that we could turn but one, shall we not think the labour of our lives to have been better spent than in the pursuit, however successful, of any worldly object, when we remember, for our encouragement, the value of one immortal soul, as set forth in the declaration of Him who paid its ransom--that there is JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH!