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Farewell Letter from the Bishop of Fredericton

From The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal,
Vol II (No. XV), September 1848, pages 102-104.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008


We insert, by permission of the Bishop of Fredericton, the following admirable and affecting letter to the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

Exeter, August 23, 1848.

MY DEAR -------, Before I return to my Diocese, which I purpose to do without delay, I wish to address a few words of grateful farewell to yourself, to the Committee of the venerable Society, and to many kind friends who have given me help. Though my visit to England has not been productive of all the good to my diocese which might have been reaped from a more protracted sojourn, yet I feel sure that I leave many behind who will not forget nor desert it. Many have liberally contributed, some of their abundance, and some of their poverty. In every place I have been welcomed with words of blessing and of peace, and have never left the few or the many gathered together, without a deepening conviction that God is with us as a Church, and that, amidst all our divisions and disquietudes, an increasing number of Churchmen are everywhere working together with all their hearts for the glory of God, the good of his Church, and the salvation of souls. Rich and poor alike have seemed to realise the duty and the blessing of almsgiving; not a word has been uttered in the spirit of party, or of bitterness; and though sometimes the tone has been imperfect, it has never been inharmonious. Surely, "had the Lord been pleased to kill us, he would not have accepted this sacrifice at our hands." Were our Church become reprobate, or a cast-away, these blessed fruits of the Spirit would not abound: love and joy would not utter their glad voices throughout our borders; we should not be enlarged everywhere, and be the heralds of mercy to the uttermost parts of the earth. I am not blind to the sad, sad tokens of our unfruitfulness, our backsliding, our national guilt; but the greatest sin of all is despair of the mercy of God; and to deny his love-tokens is to "frustrate His counsel," and make our state worse than it is. Oh, let English Churchmen pray for an increase of the true spirit among all sincere persons, though they be of different views: let them give [102/103] up harsh thoughts of each other, anonymous attacks, and violent invectives, and all will yet be well. Let them not be so anxious to put down what is erroneous, as to build up what is true: the strength of Dissent lies not in the political and clamorous partisan, but in the unknown piety of its poorer members; and these will be won to us, not by violent attacks, but by fervent, unostentatious, untiring charity. Love, victorious love, will win the day at last.

I venture these remarks because many good men have been sorely disquieted by our divisions and our weakness; because some young men have harshly alienated the affections of our ill-instructed members, or have suddenly and unjustifiably withdrawn themselves from our communion to other bodies, whose position is less clear, and whose difficulties are more formidable. After a three years' absence, I see more earnestness and reverence in the English Church than when I left England for America, and I do not see that those who have gone out from us have improved their position and their usefulness. I shall return to my poor diocese benefited in many ways; personally cheered by sympathy amidst severe and unexpected trials, and assisted by men and means. Three candidates for Holy Orders are gone before me--subscriptions have been promised for five years towards the support of a travelling missionary--His Grace the Archbishop, several of my Right Rev. brethren, and many among the laity, rich and poor, "young men and maidens, old men and children," have given their kind wishes, their substantial aid, their handywork to my cathedral. And though I still need a considerable sum before it can possibly be completed, (at least 1500l. more before even the external walls and roof and spire can be finished,) yet my duty is to do each part as well as I can, and if my own means are become more limited, to put more trust in Him whose means, whose wisdom, whose mercy is unlimited.

I shall be enabled also to lay the foundation of a Cathedral Library. To the University of Oxford I owe my thanks for a grant of 100l. towards this object, to be expended in books printed at the Clarendon press; to the editors of the Library of the Fathers, and of the Anglo-Catholic Library; to the Associates of Dr. Bray, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Dr. Macbride, Mrs. Huyshe, the Rev. Dr. Parkinson, Rev. J. Dornford, Rev. Chancellor Harington, Rev. Mr. Wilson, Rev. Canon Wordsworth, the daughters of a clergyman at Rochester, and others, who have made offerings of books.

Last, but not least in comfortable hope, may come the opening of St. Augustine's College. How glad and blessed was that day, when the spiritual head of the English Church brought [103/104] together whole centuries of thought by that one act of consecration! How happy were we to be present in a building, reared on those ancient foundations of England's primitive glory, where there was not one who did not heartily sympathize in the work, not one who did not heartily respond, reverently kneel down, and humbly communicate: where the offerings were as large as the means used to obtain them were unexceptionable; where the originator of the design, and the founder of the institution, and the builder of the fabric, had all one mind and one soul; where the building was no motley collection of ill-assorted plagiarisms, but a positive creation, a real thing, which might be said to be like nothing else, and yet like everything else in Christian art.

And yet this is the least part of that most blessed work. To attain material truthfulness is hard; but to train the men who shall win souls to God throughout all lands, how very hard it is! This is your difficult, awful task, Warden and Fellows of St. Augustine's! To bring forth men dead to the world, alive to God; severely simple, but winningly attractive; frugal, yet not parsimonious; gentle, and yet firm; nursed in contemplation, but full of the fire of action; studious, and "apt to teach;" gentlemen, if not by birth, yet by Christianity; of refined taste, but neither scrupulous nor fastidious; able with their hands, if need be, to practise the Church's self-denial, with their skill to build her fabrics, with their voices to chant her psalms and prayers, with their spirit to infuse her rules, and by their words and good example to teach all her members holiness.

The good Lord increase this spirit in you who labour for us, and in us who dwell in the lands for which you labour; may He fill your house with students whose hearts He hath touched; may He raise up in all the Colonies of Great Britain like godly institutions, and may their fruits ripen in eternity, and be as the grapes of Eshcol on the borders of Canaan. Once more, my dear friend, farewell, and God be with you evermore.



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