Project Canterbury

A Charge Delivered to the Synod of the Diocese of Ontario, 20th November, 1866

By John Travers Lewis

No place: no publisher, 1866.

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




20TH NOVEMBER, 1866,


Right Rev. J. T. LEWIS, D.D., LL.D., Lord Bishop.


In addressing you at the opening of this the fifth session of our Diocesan Synod, I feel that I enter on my duty under circumstances which call for peculiar thankfulness to Almighty God. Not only have we as a people been blessed with a bounteous return to the labors of the husbandman, but we have been rescued from what at one time seemed the dangers of a perilous invasion. We can scarcely exaggerate the atrocities which might have been perpetrated had not the wicked enterprise been frustrated at the outset, and the only gleam of satisfaction in the retrospect of the miserable affair arises from the fact that an opportunity was afforded of exhibiting the innate loyalty of our countrymen to their Queen and constitution--a loyalty that I feel assured would have been as eagerly displayed against much more formidable antagonists than a horde of unprincipled miscreants.

But in an especial manner have I reason to render thanks to God, who raised me up from what to all outward appearance seemed the bed of death, and my humble prayer is that I may show forth my thankfulness by living more to Him, so as to be "an instrument of His glory by serving Him faithfully, and doing good in my generation;" and I cannot permit this occasion, when as a Church we meet together, to pass away without gratefully acknowledging the great alleviation in my sickness which I received from the wide spread condolence which was manifested, and the many thoughtful and practical ways in which it was evinced. It was to me a matter of regret that owing to my illness the Synod could not be convened at the usual time of year, but perhaps even though I had been able to meet you last June, it might have been advisable to postpone the session in consequence of the troubled state of the Province, as was, I find, the course adopted in the case of the Synod of the neighboring Diocese of Toronto.

[2] Since our last session I have been able to complete, with the exception of a few missions, my confirmation journey through the western portion of the Diocese, during which 1039 persons were confirmed, 856 of whom were admitted at the same time to the Holy Communion. The number of our Church edifices is now one hundred and eighteen. We have lost one old missionary by death, two have been transferred to another Diocese, while one, alas! to the grief of many and the scandal of the whole Church, has been deposed from the office of the Sacred Ministry. Five candidates for holy orders have been ordained Deacons, four of whom are graduates of the University of Trinity College, and three have been admitted to the priesthood, making the whole number of the clergy in the Diocese seventy-six.

I refrain from making any detailed comments upon the state of our several Diocesan Funds, because our financial position will be discussed at length in the reports of the chairmen of the various committees. I must, however, notice with satisfaction that our Mission Fund has exceeded that of the previous year by the considerable amount of $748.13. The Sustentation Fund has not progressed as rapidly as I hoped, but this may be accounted for by the fact of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel having renewed their grant of £550 stg. for three years, which gives us more time for preparing to meet the demand which will fall heavily upon our resources when that grant is finally withdrawn. The subscriptions to the fund have reached the sum of $12,853.48, of which $11,072.11 have been invested.

Regarding our organization for the work of the Diocese, I am more and more convinced that it is as satisfactory as the most sanguine could have anticipated. I do not mean to say that improvement may not be possible in details, and to all suggestions for such improvement we shall, I trust, always be ready to lend an attentive ear; but of this I am certain, that our future success must depend on "the spirit of power and love and of a sound mind" with which we use the machinery we have, rather than on any attempts to extend or edify the Church by the mere force of system, however perfect; and I think it may reasonably be inferred that our organization has been tolerably successful, when we find the old Dioceses of Montreal and Toronto imitating our mode of procedure and taking measures for the Incorporation of their respective Synods. But while I bear my willing testimony to the increasing liberality of the members of the Church, I would seriously press upon the laity to give urgent and serious attention to the wants yet to be supplied. According to returns made to me by the clergy, I have ascertained that the total amount contributed for Church purposes for the year ending June 30th, 1866, was ninety thousand dollars, and if we take into account that these returns do not include considerable sums given by churchmen which do not come within the knowledge of their Ministers, it is not unreasonable to assume that for the year 1865 one hundred thousand dollars were raised for objects connected with the support of the Church. And if this amount of liberality could be exhibited in a year of great depression, surely with returning national prosperity we should with grateful impulse replenish the treasury of our Zion with still ampler gifts. There still remain churches to be built, parsonages to be provided, new missions to be established; and above all, there should be a generous effort to raise the stipends of our missionaries above the grinding level of six hundred dollars a year. And though I am aware how trite a subject is that of [2/3] missionary support, and how little of a new character can be added in its behalf, yet I cannot forbear from touching upon it, because I conscientiously believe that our attachment to the Church of God, our appreciation of our own spiritual advantages, our sympathy for those who are out of the way, and our sense of the importance of maintaining and even elevating the educational standard and social position of the Clergy, all may be accurately guaged by the amount of our self-denial in furtherance of the missionary cause.

Two very important Acts of Parliament have been passed during the last Session--one, An Act to enable the Synod to sell the Rectories; the other, to permit the Provincial Synod to vary, repeal, or amend the Church Temporalities Act. It will be necessary, therefore, for the Synod to provide for the carrying out of the permission to sell the Rectories wherever it shall be thought advisable to dispose of them, as it would be obviously inconvenient to convene special meetings of Synod for the consideration of each proposed sale.


For several years I have deplored the want in this Diocese of any institution where members of the Church and others could obtain for their sons the advantages of an education such as is given in the great public schools at home. As our country increases in population and material prosperity, there is a growing demand for a higher class education than is afforded in the county grammar schools, which are for the most part day schools, and do not, as I think, fulfil public expectation. In consequence of this want, it has of late years become customary for those who can afford it to send their sons to England to be educated. This I should not regret in itself, if it were not confined to the few, and if all who were educated at home returned to Canada to give us the benefit of their training; but it is a reflection on our enterprise and appreciation of educational culture if we do not strive to bring its advantages in the most perfect shape within the reach of a more numerous class. The establishment and success of two such seminaries, one 300 miles east of us and the other the same distance to the west, conclusively prove the existence of such a want as I describe, and should inspire us with a hope of founding a similar school for Central Canada with good prospect of succeeding. Circumstances on which I need not dwell at length have induced me to select Picton as the site of the proposed school. I had many inducements to do so, and among them I mention two-first, that it was possible to purchase a house and land suited for our purpose; and secondly, that the people of the county promised to subscribe $8000 of the purchase money. Altogether $14,182 have been subscribed, and notes payable in four equal annual instalments have been given by the subscribers. It had been hoped that we might have opened the school for the reception of pupils this autumn, but that is now impossible, as my long inability to engage in active business has retarded the work; but I bring the subject before the notice of the Synod because the school will be in connection with the Church as to government, patronage, and property; and I would wish to enlist the sympathy of so influential a body in promoting knowledge, which is only really blessed when it is Christian and is made the handmaid of the Church. There has been no regular canvass for funds in aid of the institution as yet; but since so [3/4] large a sum has been given in response to my own application, either personally or by circular, I am sanguine that by a little effort we may be enabled by the liberality of friends of education to open our school early next spring. And let us, while engaged in this business, recollect the untold advantages that have resulted to the mother country from the education given in successive ages in her endowed public schools. Many of them originated in feeble beginnings, but being endowed in faith they gathered strength as time rolled on, and have supplied England with her ablest sons in the arts of peace and war. The Church as a spiritual body depends on the promise of her Divine Lord that she shall continue to the end, whether endowed or unenriched with this world's wealth, but there is a sense in which a refined and liberal education (which, when fostered by the Church, will react upon her and sustain her) needs endowment for its development and perpetuity. We need security that we shall have the ablest teachers that the age can supply, and thus be independent of the whims of fashion or the fluctuations of voluntary support. To the opulent among us who know the national advantages which spring from education, I commend "Ontario College," which may, I hope, serve to reproduce in our adopted country, it may be on a small scale, an instance of a public school, inconsiderable at first, but growing with the life of the nation, and perpetuating the names of many who will become its benefactors by subscriptions or bequests.


The Church in the Mother Country is just now engaged in an acrimonious controversy regarding Ritualism. This movement has followed close upon the agitation caused by "Essays and Reviews" and Dr. Colenso, and under cover of the excitement stirred up by the revival of obsolete ritual, the far more momentous question of deadly heresy in the Church has become of secondary importance in public estimation. Indeed, it may well startle us when we find that there are multitudes who, if we may judge from the warmth of their speeches, the tone of their writings, and the violence of their acts, are much more tolerant to a Bishop or a Priest who denies the inspiration of God's word, or the eternity of future punishment, than they are to one who practises a Ritual of doubtful legality. The mass of unthinking men are ever more sensitive to a change in a ceremony than to a variation in a doctrine. But while we lament the greater facility with which zeal may be roused against an unusual ceremonial, than in defence of great doctrines of the Gospel, and while we can trace it to the natural tendency to walk by sight and not by faith, I am far from thinking that the adoption of the Ritual complained of has not the element of great danger, though I do not apprehend it from the direction to which many look in alarm. In the words which I shall address to you, my desire is to calm undue feeling and to point out what I conceive to be our own duty as regards this unhappy topic of agitation. And I think, in the first place, it will tend to reassure, as well as give us a fairer grasp of the whole question in debate, if we bear in mind the following considerations:--

1. As Christians we cannot but believe that there is nothing improper or immoral in Ritualism per se, when employed in the worship of God. The books of Moses contain an account of a highly ritualistic service, sanctioned by Divine Authority, for the Church of the old dispensation [4/5] on earth, and the Revelation of St. John gives us an insight into the gorgeous ritual of the Church in Heaven. It depends, therefore, wholly on the circumstances of the case, whether a certain Ritual in the Church Militant be right or wrong; because Ritual once possessed a divine sanction--an approval which could never have been accorded to anything wrong in itself.

II. But as Churchmen we are Ritualists; so much so that our ordinary mode of worship differs exceedingly from that of all others, and is esteemed by those who dissent from us as Ritualistic in the extreme. Uniformity in this Ritual is one of the leading principles of the Church; and that nothing should be left to the caprice of an individual minister is the necessary consequence. The directions for the celebration of our ritual are to be found in the Rubrics, which are part of the Statute Law, being confirmed by the Act of Uniformity, and consequently, according to Lord Hardwick's celebrated decision, "bind the laity." The clergy are of course bound to the observance of the Rubrics by their subscriptions of conformity and solemn declarations, and neither clergy nor laity can plead usage as justification for non-compliance with the Rubrics, because no custom can supersede the Statute Law. In the great case of Liddell vs. Westerton, the Judicial Committee affirm that "in the performance of the services, rites, and ceremonies, ordered by the Prayer book, the directions contained in it must be strictly observed; that no omissions and no additions can be permitted;" while the Prayer book itself provides "that for the resolution of all doubts concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute the things contained in this book, the parties who so doubt shall always resort to the Bishop of the Diocese, who by his discretion shall take order for the quieting and appeasing of the same." Now, although this was, and continues to be, the unquestionable state of the law, yet for generations the services of the Church were performed with little or no regard to rubrical accuracy. The carelessness of the clergy prompted, and the laxity of Bishops winked at, the most flagrant deviations from Church order, while the laity apathetically acquiesced in glaring violations of that uniformity in worship which is a leading feature of our Church. The disuse of the Offertory and daily prayer, the dismissal of the congregation immediately after the sermon was ended, the baptism of infants at any time but the prescribed time, the neglect of the Church's fasts and festivals, the curtailment of the services, may serve as glaring instances of errors of defect in ritual; while the singing of hymns at the commencement of divine service, the use of extemporaneous prayer, and dignifying one part of the service, namely, the sermon, with the extra Ritual of processions and change of vestments, are illustrations of errors of addition in unauthorized ceremonial, which widely prevailed twenty years ago, and are even yet not uncommon. Now, in the great religious awakening of our day, it was to be expected that there should be a return to first principles, and particularly to that great principle of uniformity to which the clergy are so solemnly pledged. This was not, however, attempted without much excitement and acrimonious controversy; renovation in the performance of divine services was too often mistaken for innovation, and the controversy regarding the Rubric on the "ornaments of the Church and the ministers thereof" does not now create more strife than did the subject then of Credence Tables, and Surplices and Offertory, points which have at length been definitely settled by the highest Court of [5/6] Appeal, and the use of which attracts no attention, being regarded as a matter of course. When, therefore, we find men, who, through errors of defect, break the laws of the Church in points on which there is no doubt whatever, the most vehement assailants of their Brethren, on points of doubtful legality, we are compelled to the belief that there is no remedy but a final authoritative interpretation of the highest court whereby the disputed points may be forever set at rest. They who are guilty of errors of omission, and they who are guilty of errors of commission, in the performance of divine service, are equally reprehensible, and neither can bring charges against the other with consistency. And yet they denounce each other as though excesses or defects in the observance of our Ritual were matters of taste and not matters of law, as if likings and dislikings could have any weight in a ceremonial fenced round by stringent acts of Parliament, and assented to by the clergy in the most solemn declarations. While then I have no hesitation in expressing my own belief that many Churches in the Mother Country practise a ceremonial which deserves to be condemned, I also believe the reason why it is culpable is because it is in many points illegal, and not because I have any great apprehensions that its tendency is necessarily Romish. It is incumbent on me to make my meaning on this point clear. There is nothing essentially Romish in a grand Ritual. The Oriental Church, which, as against Rome, is thoroughly Protestant as ourselves, has a ceremonial which to us would seem excessive. The Lutheran Church has a ritual compared with which our own, as ordinarily seen, seems meagre, and yet no sane person can doubt its Protestant character. The body of Christians called Irvingites rejoices in a gorgeous ritual without at all compromising the Protestantism of its members. The fact seems to be that the common sense of mankind knows that Ritual is one of the most powerful agents for embodying, impressing and perpetuating great principles; and well is this known to be the case by such organizations as the Orange and Masonic and Temperance Societies. I cannot, therefore, indulge in indiscriminate denunciations of Ritual which only becomes deserving of censure when it is contrary to law, and when the actors in it become liable to the rebuke denounced by the thirty-fourth Article against him "Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church." To this censure I greatly fear that many of our most zealous and devoted brethren at home have become obnoxious. On the legality or illegality of the practices which are most loudly condemned, it may be presumptuous to offer an opinion, since it is impossible for the most sagacious canonists to anticipate the decision of such a Court as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Such a tribunal is beyond the reach of ordinary criticism; but while it is impossible to predict the interpretation it may put on the Ritualism complained of, it is not going beyond the limits of charity to maintain the utter inexpediency of reviving some of those practices, and the prima facie illegality of others; for example, the use of services unauthorized by the Prayer Book, and the apparent straining to assimilate the celebration of the Holy Eucharist to that of the Romish mass.

But, except on the principle that "when one member suffers all the members suffer with it," we have scarcely a direct interest in this controversy. There is no probability that our Diocese will overstep the law of the Church and be guilty of illegal excess in Ritual; and my ground for [6/7] entertaining this opinion is because I believe there is a sincere desire on the part of the Clergy generally to conduct the services of the Sanctuary rubrically, that is, legally. There is no danger amongst us of a reaction from the error of laxity in Ritual, to the error of excess in Ritual, since there has always been an anxiety on the part of the majority of the Clergy to observe decency and order in their ministrations, guided, as far as our circumstances will permit, by a rigid adherence to the laws of the Church. While this is, I feel assured, the wish of the Clergy, it must be admitted that too often our Church Service is not presented to our congregations in its most attractive aspect; many a one has been rather repelled than attracted by the want of warmth and heartiness which should characterize our worship. It would not be saying too much to affirm with the Archdeacon of Winchester, who, while denouncing excess in Ritual, says, "We all confess that our Church services, at least our worshippers, need elevation. Our congregations are too wanting in fervour. Our psalmody is much below the age. We have not reached the warmth of spring tide much less of summer heat. In how many churches even in Advent and Lent, no week day service is yet found! In how many is the Holy Eucharist celebrated, only six times and even less throughout the year!" It is true these observations are, I rejoice to say, becoming less applicable to us, because, as I said, the aim of the great body of the Clergy has been to make the service rubrical, hearty and attractive, and they are not liable to the temptation of plunging into the opposite extreme of exceeding the law--a temptation which besets all who, after a period of lax and indolent disregard of their obligations, come to their senses and strive to atone for their past non-observance of the Rubrics, by going, with all the zeal of converts, beyond the plain requirements of the Rubrics.

It is besides worth observing that, even though the most objectionable practices should become legalized by judgment of the Privy Council, there is not a shadow of likelihood that they will become legal in any sense but that of becoming permissible; and should such amount of toleration lead, as some imagine, to a revision of the Book of Common Prayer in the interests of any party in the Church, we have the satisfaction of knowing that such alterations will not be binding upon us, unless the Church in Canada, in Provincial Synod assembled, solemnly ratify the same.

On review of the whole, then, while we pray that He, who is "the Author of peace and lover of concord," may speedily heal all breaches of charity and all disunion in our Zion, let us not be troubled with evil forebodings, but do our own duty in the work of Church order and ceremonial with all hearty and loyal obedience. We see in this controversy nothing but the natural reaction from the sinful neglect and the illegal omissions of past days; it is the result also of the marvellously improved taste in everything which appertains to Ecclesiastical art, which has extended to every religious community in some degree, and is a characteristic of the age in which we live. We should never have been troubled with the abuses, to which this great reaction has given birth, had Church discipline and government kept pace with religious awakening and zealous fervour of the members of the Church. That a somewhat intemperate zeal should accompany the great revival, was to be expected when for so many and grievous years fetters and restraints have been Imposed on the Church's Convocations, and her executive officers, the [7/8] Bishops, rendered powerless to correct the most flagrant abuses. The issue we now see in that lamentable want of discipline, amounting almost to anarchy; and the Church which boasted so loudly, and built so largely on her theory of uniformity, now presented to the world as utterly bewildered in the attempt to harmonize her ritualists.

I earnestly trust that I shall be supported by both Clergy and Laity in perpetuating our own immunity from excesses which only spring from transgressing the laws laid down for our guidance in the Prayer Book, and if these rules be broken, either by omission or addition, that the discipline of the Church should be vindicated with firm impartiality, will be the verdict of "all sober, peaceable and truly conscientious sons of the Church of England."


A most important Bill was introduced in the last Session of the Imperial Parliament by the Colonial Secretary and the Attorney General, styled the "Colonial Bishops' Bill." This bill was submitted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to a Committee, of which the Bishops of Oxford, Gloucester, Grahamstown, Adelaide, and Ontario were members. With some modifications it was approved, and I have no doubt would have become law, but for the resignation of the late Ministry. Some legislation evidently became necessary in order to relieve Colonially ordained Clergymen from disabilities to which they became liable in consequence of the recent judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. By an Act passed in the 59th, George III, Cap. 60, it is enacted that "No person ordained Deacon or Priest by any Colonial Bishop, not having Episcopal Jurisdiction within some Diocese, and residing therein, may hold Ecclesiastical preferment anywhere in Her Majesty's Dominions, or officiate at any place, or in any manner, as 'Minister of the Established Church of England and Ireland.'" Now, since it has been decided that Episcopal Jurisdiction was not conferred (as was intended) by the Letters Patent, all those who have been ordained by Bishops in such a position seem to be subject to these disqualifications contrary to the intention of the law, and to the very serious injury of both themselves and of many other persons. The chief object of the bill is, therefore, to give validity to appointments and ministerial Acts in case of Ordinations by Bishops not having Jurisdiction in the place of their residence, and I have good hope that the bill may become law. That some legislation on the whole question of the status of the Colonial Church will take place I have no doubt, because the authorities at home are beginning to see what I ventured to affirm a year and a half ago, "that the whole tendency of recent decisions in England is to make us drift into the status of the Episcopal Churches of America and Scotland in our relation to the United Church of England and Ireland." In fact there is a disintegrating process going on in the Church of the Empire. Many persons in England view this state of things with concern, not so much because on Scriptural and Catholic grounds they ought to work in favor of Unity, but because they fear that the spectacle of independent Colonial Churches may prove an inconvenient precedent and react on the Established Church of England; others again anticipating the time when, what are now Colonies, will contain more members of the Church, both Clerical and Lay, than England herself does at present, are naturally [8/9] anxious that this great body should be kept compacted by Law. Accordingly the Colonial Secretary has recently forwarded circulars to the several Bishops, requesting answers to certain questions relating chiefly to the organization and statistics of their Diocese, and the Lord Bishop of London, whom circumstances have closely connected with the difficult questions likely to arise, is asking information from influential members of the Colonial Church on some points to which I would direct attention. I do so because, as his Lordship says, "the connexion of the Colonial Church with the Mother Church will probably come under the serious consideration of Parliament next Session," and also because he not only wishes to know my own feeling, but what I believe to be the feeling both of the Clergy and Laity in my Diocese, on the following points:--

"First--The desirableness or otherwise of all Bishops in British Colonies receiving their Mission from the See of Canterbury, and taking the oath of Canonical obedience to the Archbishop.

"Second--Whether it is desirable that there should be an appeal in graver cases from the judgments of Church courts or decisions of Bishops or Synods in the Colonies, to any authority at home; and if so, (1) to what authority; (2) under what restrictions?

"Third--How far the Royal Supremacy, as acknowledged by the United Church of England and Ireland, can be maintained in our Colonial Churches?

"Fourth--What seems the best guarantee for maintaining unity of doctrine and discipline between the different scattered branches of our Church in the Colonies?"

To these questions I replied as follows:

KINGSTON, Canada West, Nov. 2, 1866.


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Lordship's letter of Oct. 13th, and have much pleasure in sending the information you require.

I. My own feeling is that it is most undesirable that all Bishops in British Colonies should receive their Mission from the See of Canterbury, or take the oath of Canonical obedience to the Archbishop. As a necessary consequence of the confiscation of our State endowment, and of our being (against our own will) reduced to the condition of a voluntary Society, the Church in Canada has, by means of an enabling act of the Canadian Legislature, been organized into an Ecclesiastical Province under the Bishop of Montreal as Metropolitan, and since his appointment (which does not rest on Letters Patent for its validity) three elections to the Episcopate have taken place, and two of the Bishops so elected have taken the oath of Canonical obedience to the Bishop of Montreal and his successors; the third has not yet been consecrated. I hold it, therefore, to be impossible now to merge the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada in that of Canterbury.

II. I feel that it is highly undesirable that there should be an appeal from the Metropolitical Court of Canada to any existing court at home, on any purely spiritual or doctrinal question. At present no such appeal can be prosecuted unless our Diocesan or Metropolitical Courts by their judgments affect the rights of property, or are held to be irregular in their [9/10] procedure, in which cases there is an appeal to the Civil Courts in Canada, and thence to the highest Courts in England; but on any question of heterodoxy or heresy we entertain the strongest repugnance to an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I may, however, add that it is quite possible to conceive the establishment of a spiritual Court at home, to which an appeal in spiritual cases would lie with the hearty concurrence of the Canadian Church.

III. The "Royal supremacy" is maintained and acknowledged by the Canadian Church. In the declaration which is prefixed to our Diocesan Constitutions respectively, we affirm, "In particular we uphold the ancient doctrine of our Church, that the Queen is rightfully possessed of the chief government or supremacy overall persons within her dominions in all cases, whether ecclesiastical or civil, and we desire that such supremacy should continue unimpaired." Moreover, the first article of the 36th canon is subscribed by all persons as a condition of their Ordination, Licence or Induction to a Benefice. This "Royal supremacy" is regulated here, as at home, by Law. By a Canadian Statute, assented to by the Crown, the Royal Prerogative has been curtailed, and certain powers of self-government conceded to the Canadian Church, "any rights of the Crown to the contrary notwithstanding," and this curtailment has been further extended by the Judicial Committee, which has decided that her Majesty cannot assign a territorial jurisdiction to a Bishop in a Colony possessing a Legislature of its own, and that there is no legal identity between the Church in such a Colony and the Church of England.

Were it possible (which I apprehend it is not) to annul the limitations which law now places on the exercise of the Royal Supremacy, I feel that it would be most inexpedient to attempt it.

IV. The best guarantee for maintaining unity of doctrine and discipline between the scattered branches of our Church is, in my opinion, an Anglican Council convened and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which a spiritual basis of intercommunion may be established, and certain general principles of discipline laid down, to be applied by each Colonial Church to the circumstances of its own case. Such a union I believe more intimate and powerful than any legal bonds.

I have the honor to remain,

Your Lordship's faithful Brother in Christ.


Rt. Hon. and Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of London.


In my address delivered to you, my Brethren, in June, 1864, I expressed a hope that an Anglican Council might soon be invited to assemble under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to devise means best fitted for re-assuring the minds of multitudes which were unsettled and wavering both at home and abroad, in consequence of recent decisions of the Privy Council. So strongly impressed was I with the necessity of such a measure, that I felt my duty would be unperformed if I did not make the attempt to stir up the minds of those in authority to the desirability of giving this most solemn and momentous question adequate consideration. Accordingly, at the meeting of our Provincial Synod held in Sept., 1865, I moved the adoption of an address to the Archbishop of [10/11] Canterbury, "humbly entreating His Grace to convene a National Synod of the Bishops of the Anglican Church at home and abroad, who, attended by one or more of their Presbyters or Laymen learned in Ecclesiastical Law, as their advisers, may meet together, and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost take such counsel and adopt such measures as may be best fitted to provide for the present distress." This address passed unanimously in both houses of our Provincial Synod. In reply to the address we received an answer from the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed in as encouraging terms as could be possibly anticipated; and in an interview recently afforded me, His Grace assured me of his warmest sympathy in the contemplated movement. The Provincial Synod moreover adopted a memorial on this subject to the Convocations of Canterbury and York, in consequence of which, in the Session of May last, a resolution was agreed to by the unanimous voice of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury, "that His Grace the President be respectfully requested to direct the appointment of a Committee to consider and report upon the address of the Canadian Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland." The answer to this request was the direction to appoint the Committee, who drew up an able Report, which states, "your Committee are, however, of opinion that the thing most to be desired is a Council comprising the American and Scottish Branches of the Anglican Communion, together with all the Branches of the United Church of England and Ireland, and its independent Missionary Churches. * * * *

"In the event, however, of insurmountable obstacles being found to arise in the way of assembling such a Council (which they see no sufficient cause to apprehend) your Committee are of opinion that no time should be lost in convening a Representation of the Churches in lands subject to the British Crown, for the consideration of the special difficulties affecting those Churches or some of them, at the present time, in respect of their relations to one another, and to the Mother Church."

The Report goes on to enumerate the principal advantages to be derived from the proposed Council, which appear to be these:

1. "To afford an opportunity for the Churches of the Anglican Communion to confer together upon questions or errors which may appear in these days to imperil the acceptance of 'The faith once delivered to the Saints.'

2. "To provide a broad basis upon which to found attempts to bring about intercommunion with other portions of the Church Catholic. * *

3. "The discussion and affirmation of the common principle of a right Ecclesiastical discipline as 'one of the Notes of the true Church.'

4. "The consideration of the principles upon which Constitutions and Canons applicable to the whole body of the Anglican Communion may best be framed; to be reduced into practice subsequently, as may be found advisable by each Church for itself.

5. "The taking counsel together as to the best means of sanctifying the Commerce, Emigration and Colonization of the English-speaking populations throughout the world, for the promotion among them of a Christian civilization.

6. "The consideration in what ways the Missionary action of the several Churches of the Anglican Communion may be quickened and carried forward in brotherly co-operation, harmony and fellowship."

Such topics as these would at all times form an absorbing subject for the prayerful consideration of the Church of Christ, because they may be [11/12] summed up as (1) guards against Heterodoxy, (2) Intercommunion of the Churches, (3) right Ecclesiastical discipline, and (4) the extension of Missionary work; but there is something so peculiarly embarrassing in the present aspect of many of the Colonial Churches, that the exigency of the times absolutely demands, that since the ties which once bound the Churches abroad to the Church at home, have been cut; since no legal identity any longer exists between us and the United Church of England and Ireland; since the power of appeal is gone, we must fall back upon those original principles which, when worked out in faith, are equal to any emergency, and depend upon that spiritual basis of Communion which will be stronger than Letters Patent, which is, and I pray may ever be, dearer to us than the mere accident of legal recognition, and which can only be brought to a successful issue by the meeting in Council of all the scattered Branches of our Communion after the example of the Holy Apostles and the Universal Church. And here I would draw your attention to a passage in the Report of the Committee of Convocation which illustrates in a remarkable manner how the timidity felt in so many quarters in England regarding the admission of the Lay element into Church assemblies is being somewhat modified. The Committee of course had to deal with the difficulty of the admission of a representation in an Anglican Council, in which the Lay element shall find a place, because the English Church at home can send no such representatives from her Synods. The Committee are not deterred by the gravity of the difficulty from recommending "that the true way of dealing with it is to take the Established and Non-Established Churches as they are found to be; to exercise upon all hands a generous confidence, and to throw no difficulties in the way of assembling a Council in the form it would naturally take of a representation from each Church in the form in which it may seem good to each Church to send it." This language is both significant and generous, and it is only by the whole Church in all quarters of the world becoming animated by the same spirit, that we can maintain that intimate connection with the Parent Church (which it was intended to perpetuate by other means) and by the spiritual acts which are inherent in our Office draw as closely as possible the bonds which will forever unite us to the Church of our Fathers.

It may strike some of you, my Brethren, that I am needlessly emphatic in the expression of our desire to continue in the most intimate union possible with the United Church of England and Ireland, and that I am only asserting a truism which no Canadian Churchman doubts; but I regret to say that there is a necessity for plain utterance of the facts of our case, because in some influential quarters in England our attachment to the Church at home is suspected. There is a floating, vague impression that the severance of the ties which linked us together was, if not of our own doing, yet at least tacitly approved by us. And yet what is the foundation for this suspicion, this unkind taunt at a Church which has found the State a poor shield in the day of trouble, and yet is loyal as ever in the desire to continue one with the Church at home? Were we parties to the secularization of our property which was assented to by the Crown? Was it with our consent that the union of Church and State was dissolved? Has not every link between the Church here and at home been snapped in the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council? Whence then this cruel suspicion of the sincerity of our desire to be one with the Church at home? We have incurred censure because when our property was taken [12/13] away, when every vestige of an establishment was obliterated, when our legal identity with the Church of England has been deliberately denied in the Court of final Appeal, we are found to be a self-governing body, electing our own Officers and framing our own code of discipline, "any rights of the Crown to the contrary notwithstanding." We hold that the connection of the Church with the State is an accident of her existence, and when the accident is not found, that the State fares worse than the Church. Having ceased to possess any advantages whatever from the Civil Power, we were not likely to endure any restrictions on our progress from that source. But then every act of the Canadian Church done in self-defence is perfectly compatible with the ardent wish that she may not be independent in the sense of being uncontrolled by the wisdom, moderation, earning and Standards of the Church of England. We know and realize the danger of the unestablished Colonial Churches diverging in process of time from the principles of the Parent Church, and therefore we seek to establish by voluntary compact what has been denied us by Law. And shall it be said that what has been effected by Wesleyans and Romanists, who, being free from any restrictions of law, are yet intimately connected with the Parent bodies from which they spring, cannot be achieved by the Church to which we belong? We seek then, as though living in pure and primitive times, to fall back on primitive principles, and on a voluntary and spiritual basis, erected by an Anglican Council, unite in one Communion and fellowship all the scattered Churches which hold a common faith. It may be that the trials and necessities of the Colonial Churches have been permitted for the solving of great problems abroad which could not have been tested at home without disaster, and I am sure that English colonists will rejoice even in affliction if it result in bringing the whole Anglican Church together to bear its testimony against the false claims of Rome and the baseless presumption of infidelity. If this be the issue of the famous judgment of the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council, we shall hail it with satisfaction as the "Magna Charta" of the liberties of the Colonial Churches.

But whatever may be the end of this movement, (and if it be of God it cannot be overthrown), we should feel devoutly thankful that the subject has received such candid consideration from the Committee appointed by Convocation, who conclude their report by expressing their belief "that no movement has been made, or can be made, more essential to the well-being of the churches of the Anglican Communion, and therein to the extension of the Primitive Faith and Apostolical Order throughout the world, than that which has arisen out of the address of the Church in Canada. "

And in concluding my remarks on these subjects, which have a deep interest for us all, "I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God." Amen.

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