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Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2009


MY REV. BRETHREN AND BRETHREN:--In the good providence of God we are again permitted to assemble in Synod to consult for the welfare of His Church, by reviewing the past, and providing for the future. It may have been expected that I should, at our last meeting, have laid before you a statement of the condition of the Diocese, its prospects and wants; but at that time (owing to my absence in England) I had not made myself sufficiently acquainted with the whole Diocese to warrant my addressing the Synod regarding our spiritual or temporal position. Indeed, under our system of working through Committees, who are expected to lay before us full and explicit reports, there is less need of my touching on the topics to which they relate in Synodical addresses, because we expect that the discussion which will arise on these reports will bring out our actual position in a thorough and intelligible manner. I wish, however, now that I am enabled, from personal observation, to speak with confidence, to lay before you, briefly, a summary of such facts relating to the Diocese, as two years of anxious oversight warrant me in bringing forward. Since the formation of the Diocese of Ontario, 18 clergymen have been added to our number, making the whole body of Clergy 73 at present, an increase for which our gratitude is due to the great head of the Church. It would have been possible for me to have added largely to this number if I had seen my way clearly to the decent maintenance of additional laborers: but it seemed to me better policy to increase our Missionaries only in the ratio of our ability to support them, rather than run the risk of encountering afterwards all the disheartening effects of a reaction and a diminution in the number of the Clergy, who would inevitably have been forced to leave the Diocese. The Mission Board, with whom greatly rests the responsibility of providing the means of augmenting our staff of Clergy, has, in my opinion, proved in its organization decidedly successful. While, of course, the labor of stimulating the Laity of the Church to increased liberality mainly devolves on the Clergy, and specially on those of them who are employed in the responsible duty of pleading for Missions as [3/4] members of Deputations, still a great deal depends on a wise and firm management and disbursement of the funds committed to the care of the Mission Board, and it is encouraging to be able to say that, throughout my intercourse with the members of the Church, I have found a unanimous approval of the machinery we have set at work, both on account of its simplicity and the impartiality with which the whole Diocese is represented, and the several Mission fields aided by the Board. I do not purpose anticipating the report which the venerable Chairman will present to the Synod, but I would merely say that, as a Diocese, we should "thank God and take courage" from considering that, although we labored under the disadvantage of employing an untried and therefore a suspected organization during two years of extreme depression from bad harvests and foreign war, yet nearly $11,000 have been entrusted to the management of our Board of Missions. Here I must observe that the Board has lately, at my suggestion, established a Permanent Investment Fund, to provide for the partial maintenance of those Missionaries, eleven in number, who are now aided by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, when that aid is withdrawn. I am not without hopes that the venerable Society may be induced to continue their grant for a longer period than that stipulated, which expires in another year, and my active exertions shall not be wanting in laying before them our pressing claims, but, nevertheless, it is incumbent on us to provide for the certain ultimate withdrawal of the grant. No part of the Mission Fund hitherto collected, except the last Whitsunday collection has been as yet appropriated to the Investment Fund, yet, I anticipate that by the end of the year there will be at least $3,000 secured for investment. This will form the nucleus of a Sustentation Fund, the foundation of which can no longer be delayed, and which, when amounting to £5000, will I believe be supplemented by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to the extent of £1000. It will be necessary to bring the wants of the Diocese as regards a Sustentation Fund systematically before the members of the Church, and this may be conveniently done by the various deputations next winter who can in their respective districts bring the subject before our people and solicit special donations to the Fund; it will be my duty to address the Diocese on this subject at the proper time, and to attend myself as many of the missionary meetings as I conveniently can, to plead for this good cause; and it [4/5] may stir up some, of both clergy and laity, to take special interest in this fund if I inform them that there are at this moment but four parishes in the Diocese where the Clergyman does not derive a part of his income from the Mission Board, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, or the Commutation Fund; these Parishes being St. George's (Kingston), Brockville, Napanee, and Pakenham.

The Church building of the Diocese keeps pace with the increase of the Clergy. There are ninety-seven Church edifices in the Diocese, of which four have been lately enlarged in consequence of the congregations requiring increased accommodation, while there are eighteen new Churches in various stages of progress; these when finished will make the total number of our Church edifices one hundred and fifteen.

Having finished my Confirmation tour through the whole Diocese, I am able to express the great satisfaction I felt at the result. While we must guard against forming too sanguine hopes of the spiritual condition of our brethren, based on the observance of any ordinance, yet we must remember that we have little else to help us to form an estimate; and whenever Church ordinances have been in any age neglected, vital religion has disappeared, while reverent compliance with the positive precepts of the Church is a homage to religion which the true servant of God rejoices to see paid and fears to see neglected. The season of Confirmation is the most solemn in the spiritual life of the young Churchman, and it is one of the most blessed opportunities for the performance of the duties of the Ministerial office. It was, therefore, with pleasurable feelings that I observed the very large congregations that witnessed the administration of this rite, and the devout demeanor and evident sincerity of purpose of the candidates. During my tour I confirmed 3,125 persons, a majority of whom were adults, and many of them converts to the Church. It is my custom to celebrate the Holy Communion on every occasion of confirmation, leaving it, of course, to the consciences of the candidates whether they will then partake of their first communion. The result, so far as man can judge, was most satisfactory, inasmuch as 2,410 persons of those confirmed, besides a very large number of persons confirmed in former years, then, for the first time, received the Lord's Supper. When we find at least 3,000 new communicants thus added to the Church, we should give thanks to Almighty God for these benefits, and make our humble prayers to Him that [5/6] through the zealous labors of the Clergy a still larger number may in future years, be gathered into the fold.

There are two questions, seriously affecting the permanent interests of the Church, which I wish to submit to the consideration of the Synod. The case of Long vs. the Bishop of Capetown, induced the Secretary of State for the Colonies to submit for the opinion of the Law officers of the Crown the question, whether any, and if so, what Metropolitan pre-eminence or jurisdiction was conveyed by the Letters Patent, dated February 12th, 1862, which constitute the Bishop of Montreal Metropolitan in the Province of Canada. The following reply was received by his Grace the Duke of Newcastle:--"We think that it was competent to the Crown to constitute his Lordship a Metropolitan, and thereby to give him pre-eminence and precedence over his suffragans, but that as to the coercive jurisdiction which the Metropolitan may exercise, and the manner in which it is to be exercised--these are matters which must be settled by the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity, in a general assembly of the Province, according to the provision of the local Legislature, 19th and 20th Victoria, cap. 121." His Grace accordingly communicated this reply, through the Governor General, to the Bishop of Montreal, adding "that it will be for his Lordship, in concert with the other authorities of the Canadian Church, to determine for themselves whether they would prefer to apply for fresh and amended letters patent, or to allow the existing instrument to remain in force, with the knowledge that so far as it assumes to invest the Metropolitan with coercive jurisdiction, it is of no effect." It is therefore for the Synod to consider whether they will instruct their representatives on this subject. Although it is known to you that by an amendment introduced into the Letters Patent as issued Fed. 12th, 1862 "the authority and jurisdiction of the Metropolitan were expressly made subject to the Rules, Regulations, and Canons that the General Assembly may, from time to time, make in respect thereof," yet it may be expedient to apply for shorter and simpler Letters Patent. The other question relates to the proposed sale of the rectories. A Bill enabling the Church Societies and incorporated Synod to sell the rectorial lands was received and read a first time last September. This Bill, as amended in a Select Committee, is now before the Legislature, and I have been frequently asked whether it meet my approval. I have refrained from replying till I had submitted a copy of the [6/7] Bill to this Synod, and ascertained the deliberate opinion of the Church.

I cannot, my brethren, refrain from noticing an event which has lately occurred in England, and which has profoundly agitated all thoughtful Churchmen, I mean the recent decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the Inspiration of the Scriptures and the eternity of future punishment. In my opinion, no more calamitous event could have occurred; but it should alleviate the disaster to feel that English Churchmen have been roused in defence of the Faith, and are prepared to meet the crisis. When divested of unnecessary details, the facts are briefly these. Two beneficed clergymen having been presented for teaching doctrines inconsistent with the Prayer-book were condemned by the Court of Arches. They then appealed to the highest Court in the realm, and the verdict of the Court below was set aside, the Court declaring, not that the charges were not proved, but that they could not condemn as penal "the expression of hope by a clergyman that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked, who are condemned in the day of judgment may be consistent with the will of God," and, moreover, affirming that "the assertion that every part of the Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not to be found in the Articles or Formularies of the Church." Now, as English Churchmen, acknowledging the Royal Supremacy, that is, admitting that there lies no appeal from Her Majesty's highest Courts in all cases Civil and Ecclesiastical, we must at once see that the late decision is final and decisive. But let us see to what that decision amounts. Let neither the taunts of Cardinal Wiseman, nor the momentary triumph of Universalists, prevent our admitting the false position in which the Church is placed, nor our using every effort to remedy the present wrong. In order that we may fully comprehend the danger impending from the recent judgment, it should be borne in mind that a vast majority of the benefices in England are in the gift of Lay Patrons; and Lord Westbury himself, who delivered the judgment, as Chancellor, presents to nearly one thousand livings. Accordingly, a clergy who shall be presented to a living may demand and obtain induction by law, although he may candidly inform the Bishop of the Diocese that he does not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and that he does believe in the ultimate pardon of the wicked in a future state. According [7/8] to the judgment, the assertion of the hope that the wicked will eventually be saved is allowable in the mouth of a clergyman of the Church of England, and if so, he may surely be allowed to give his reasons for the hope, or in other words, he may teach his people that sin may be obliterated in a future state, and thus lead the educated members of his flock into infidelity and the uneducated into Popery. Again, he may lawfully deny that the Bible is the Word of God, and content himself by saying that it contains the Word of God. Accordingly, he may give his reasons for this distinction, and teach that the book we call the Holy Scriptures contains the Word of God as the quartz contains the gold, which is a favorite illustration of such men. Can anything be more calculated to destroy the hopes we have for eternity than that the law of the Empire shall force the Church to tolerate the admission of men into her pulpits to teach her children thus--there is the Bible--a book composed of sixty-six separate documents written in different ages of the world, partly in Hebrew and partly in Greek; the Church has ever been in the habit of styling that aggregate of volumes the Word of God, but it has been a mistake; it contains the Word of God, indeed, but it is not the Word of God; therefore, let every man search for the Word of God in it, and let him decide for himself which text is gold and which is quartz. It requires but little foresight to see that this legalized distinction between being and containing the Word of God cuts away all common ground of appeal to Scripture, and breaks into fragments the Christian faith--fragments that can never be united till the natural reaction sets in, and the Popish necessity for an infallible interpreter is admitted in its worst aspect. These things, we may feel assured, have stirred the minds of churchmen to their very depths, and one of the most painful reflections arising from them is a feeling that never, since the Reformation, has the practical working of the Royal supremacy been presented in so offensive a shape. And is there no remedy? None as yet seems to have suggested itself except protestation. It is true that the lower house of Convocation have decided that there are grounds for proceeding to Synodical condemnation of the work containing the erroneous teaching; it is also true that the two Archbishops who sat in the Judicial Committee as spiritual assessors have dissented from the judgment, and in weighty Pastoral letters have explained the grounds of their dissent; it is also a just cause for [8/9] congratulation that 12,000 clergymen have presented a declaration to the Archbishop of Canterbury embodying a protest against the tenets in question. All this is encouraging as proving the body of the Church sound at heart; but what avails it, so long as an irrevocable judgment facilitates henceforward the leavening of the clerical body with denyers of inspiration and of eternal punishment? Before I suggest what seems to me the only remedy, I wish to make a few remarks on the Oxford Declaration to which I have referred. Great effort has been used to make light of that document, but I think it cannot be too highly estimated in its immense significance. Among no class of men is there more of personal independence of thought and action than among the clergy of the United Church of England and Ireland. Therefore, when 12,000 clergymen volunteer to sign a declaration which calmly but strongly protests against opinions which are undoubtedly held and patronized in quarters from which rank and emolument are dispensed, we cannot overrate the importance of the act. It is a ground for thankfulness that not more than eight or ten clergymen in four dioceses of this Province have failed to endorse the same declaration, which by no means fastens on them who signed it the belief in what is termed plenary, verbal or mechanical Inspiration--or that every jot and tittle of the authorized version were written by the finger of God. We are well aware that the text of the Bible is to be freely criticised; that there are such things as various readings, mistranslations and perhaps even interpolations, but after allowance has been made for all these, we believe that the genuine and authentic residue was written by Holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," and that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God." But although every text of the Bible is given by inspiration of God, it does not necessarily convey a Revelation. Nay, it may often be difficult to point out wherein consists the inspiration of a genealogy or a chronology, but this our ignorance must not be a stumbling block. The Book of Revelation, like the book of nature, is being still explored; the exploration of both has been going on for many centuries, and new discoveries are being made, and new beauties are being elicited from both. New light is being yearly thrown on Holy Scripture, and divines write on the glorious topic as though it were still new and fresh and inexhaustible. The little word or paragraph which former generations have read in faith without being able to see why the sacred penman [9/10] wrote it, has often been found to furnish ground for detecting an "undesigned coincidence," and has thus strengthened the belief of after ages in the truth of the narrative and the inspiration of the writer. The members of the Jewish Church received the old Testament in perfect faith that it was the inspired Word of God, and yet it was impossible for them to prove its inspiration to the satisfaction of a Gentile; till the advent of Christ it was not in their power to prove the inspiration of what seemed but allegories and symbols and types, and it may be that till the second advent the members of the Christian Church may not be able to prove the inspiration of every genuine autograph of the writers of the New Testament; still the Divine influence pervades so plainly the incomparably greater portion of the Bible that we can afford to wait in faith, believing that the only human element in the Scriptures is the paper, the ink, the mistakes of transcribers, and the imperfections of translators, and that while the Holy Scriptures were not intended to reveal physical science or teach us natural philosophy, yet that time will prove (as it is now beginning to do) that there is a direct evidence of their inspiration in the fact that though incidentally touching on such points, yet they have been providentially withheld from a contradiction of modern discoveries--in short, it is our belief that Genesis is more likely to correct geology than to be corrected by it. Indeed, "it is not at all incredible (says the profound Bishop Butler) that a book which has been so long in the possession of mankind should contain many truths as yet undiscovered," and may it not be added, that of the things yet to be discovered by the philosophic and prayerful student, the inspiration of those passages which seem most remote from the dictation of the Holy Spirit's influence may be one. Such works as Paley's Horae Paulinae, Graves on the Pentateuch, and Blunt's Undesigned Coincidences, contain discoveries unknown to older divines, and throw a flood of light on the sacred books; and yet of what do these authors treat? It is the casual remark, the undesigned hint, the simple (though apparently unimportant or unmeaning) allusion which have served to prove the honesty of the sacred writers; and thus has the present age been supplied with some proofs of the authenticity of the Bible unknown to the ancients, as if God had in his own book a reserved fund of light that every age might have an equal ground of faith, and the inspiration of unheeded texts might at length be found to consist in their being evidences of Christianity.

[11] In every age since the ascension there has been a tendency among Christians to lose sight of some one or more of the great articles of the faith. What has been the remedy? Let us turn to the Acts of the Apostles, and enquire what was the remedy, while the first Apostles guided the affairs of the Church. Even then, "certain men" taught false doctrine, and strove to narrow the limits of salvation, just as "certain men" now are teaching that salvation maybe awarded without limit to all. To meet the crisis "the Apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." Here the Church has an inspired precedent how--to meet heresy in the Church. But is it not begging the question to affirm that the precedent is inspired? We indeed, who believe that the historic narrative was written for our learning, have no hesitation in asserting that the account of the Council of Jerusalem was given by inspiration, even though we had nothing to convince us but the fact that it forms part of the Canon of Scripture, but it happens that St. Paul incidentally tells us in his Epistle to the Galatians that the events which led to the Council, though seemingly produced by a sense of human expediency, were brought about by Him, who is with His Church to the end of the world, for says He, referring to this very Council, "I went up by Revelation." Here then we have an Apostle acting in an emergency like our own by Revelation, which being obediently followed, restored peace to the Church. Therefore we cannot doubt that the history of a Council thus summoned by Revelation was penned by inspiration, while it is worth remarking that the Divine origin of the Council would have been unknown to us, but for an incidental remark in an Apostolic Epistle. In post-apostolic times the Church has ever regarded the precedent set by this Council an inspired command as to how she should act when false doctrine was to be encountered. On each appearance of the heresy, national or general Councils have met. The old truth has been reaffirmed, and men have been drawn back from the precipice to the obedience of the truth. This is the history of all creeds and articles and confessions of faith. The 39 articles of the Church were drawn up to meet the emergency of the Reformation, and were never supposed by their authors to be final or incapable of addition. On the contrary, the declaration prefixed to the articles anticipates future action as occasion may require, and says "that the Churchmen may do the work which is proper unto them, the Bishops and Clergy from time to [11/12] time in convocation, upon their humble desire, shall have license under our broad seal to deliberate of and do all such things, as shall concern the settled continuance of the doctrines of the Church of England." The irrevocable judgment of the Court of Appeal can only be neutralized by the addition of a new article or articles which shall forever render it practically impossible for anyone to obtain Ordination in the Church, who shall deny that the Bible is the word of God, or assert his belief in the ultimate pardon of the wicked who shall be condemned in the day of judgment. There are great difficulties, it is true, in the way of such a remedy, and not the least is the growing unwillingness that the convocation of a single Province should legislate for the whole Anglican communion throughout the world, but there seems no reason why the Church should not become more and more consolidated, until a national council of the English Church, with representatives from every Ecclesiastical Province in the Empire, should meet under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and reaffirm the Catholic doctrines now endangered. Not many years ago, the realization of Diocesan Synods in working order, and a Provincial Synod, under a Canadian Metropolitan, seemed more distant and unattainable than a national council of the Anglican Church should appear to us now, which may God hasten, if it be indeed, as I believe it will prove to be, the surest means of contending earnestly and successfully for the faith once delivered to the saints.

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