Project Canterbury

The Life and Work of the Most Reverend John Medley, D.D.,
First Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada

By William Quintard Ketchum
Rector of St. Andrews, N.B.

Saint John, N.B.: McMillan, 1893.

Chapter VIII. St. Anne's Chapel--Laying Foundation Stone--Consecration of Chapel--Bishop's Sermon

IN the meanwhile the Bishop built the beautiful Church then known as St. Anne's Chapel, in the upper part of Fredericton.

On the 30th May, 1846, the foundation stone was laid by the Hon. John S. Saunders, who had presented the land for the site. There was a large assembly present, including His Excellency Sir William Colebrooke and the principal inhabitants of the city.

Mr. Saunders addressed the meeting in the following words:

Much as I feel gratified by your lordship's kindness in requesting me to assist in laying the foundation stone of your lordship's Chapel of St. Anne, I can assure you it affords me a far deeper feeling of satisfaction to have had it in my power to remove the difficulty you experienced in obtaining a lot, by presenting you with the ground on which it is to be erected, and to have aided in the accomplishment of so desirable an object.

The extension of Church accommodation thus afforded will be an invaluable benefit to the increasing population of this part of the city, and as we are assured that the sittings are to be free, it must, to every pious mind, be a cause of devout thankfulness to the Almighty, to know that the poor of our community will no longer be excluded from the right of attending the services of the Church and of partaking of all its holy ordinances.

The name of St. Anne, by which the place was designated when the present site of Fredericton was an Indian encampment, and the earliest settlers first erected their rude huts, and prepared to clear their way into the dense forests which surrounded them, cannot fail to give rise to recollections of deep interest at a time when we are called to aid our revered Bishop in laying the foundation of a second Church in this city...............

While assisting in this solemn ceremony, I trust I may be excused for reverting to a subject so near to our hearts--the fulfilment of that sacred pledge made to his lordship on our part--to rear to the Almighty--to His honour and glory that hallowed edifice, the Cathedral of this Diocese, an object from which none other can divert our hopes and wishes.............

We fervently trust your lordship will be long spared to us, to rejoice in all the blessed results to flow from your labours. And when the rich and poor are mingled in one common dust, even a fuller reward will, we trust, await the Apostolic labours of him who has so munificently contributed to these sacred objects, and that there will be then found many a stray member who has been gathered into the fold, to rise to the glories of the life eternal.

In the newspaper of the day it is said that his lordship made a most impressive reply, and concluded by thanking those present for their countenance to his undertaking.

This Church, though of comparatively small dimensions, is of stone, with a gable for three bells, and is perfect in its way. The cost of the erection came, it was said, largely from the Bishop's private means. It was afterwards made over to the parochial authorities as the Parish Church, thus leaving the Cathedral solely under the Bishop's control. Here, till the completion of his Cathedral, the Bishop had daily service, frequent celebrations, improved Church music, and earnest hearty services.

St. Anne's Chapel was consecrated on the 18th March, 1847. On this occasion the Bishop preached from Zechariah xi. 7: "And I will feed the flock of slaughter, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock."

In the course of a most impressive sermon the Bishop evidently alludes to some prevalent objections. "If," he says, "there be no necessary connection between external beauty and spiritual religion, is there any closer connection between spiritual religion and external deformity? ...The point for consideration is, whether the giving to holy things and to holy places the honour that belongs to them, is not more likely to promote a religious frame of mind than the withholding such honour. That there is danger in external forms there is no doubt; there is danger in every act of a Christian's life; danger in alms, lest we give them ostentatiously; danger in worship, lest we pray pharisaically; or lest we slumber over the prayers, and go to sleep over the sermon. In all we say, or do, or think, there is danger; for our adversary, the devil, ever seeks to turn our food into poison. Holiness is not ensured by the observance of external rites, but is it ensured by their neglect? Are they who despise the Church of God, and lay out all their substance in the decorations of their own houses, of necessity the most boh7? We all admit that we are in imminent danger of substituting outward acts for inward piety, and of neglecting the interior holiness of our souls. But this may be done everywhere, and no more belongs to a church adorned and comely, than to one which is less worthy of the name. The evil lies not in the building, but in the heart of man.

"The objection is sometimes repeated in other words. 'God, it is said, looks to the heart, at the heart only. Cannot God be worshipped in a plain, simple edifice, with four plain walls, seeing 'the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands?' To which we reply, 'Undoubtedly He may.' The Apostles worshipped in an upper room, because they were poor and had no other place of worship. St. Paul knelt down on the sea-shore and prayed.... God can be worshipped, and acceptably worshipped, without a house of prayer, if we have none to offer; in a plain house if we cannot provide a better; but let us be well assured that God is not the more spiritually worshipped, when our meanness refuses to offer Him the best we have, though the very best is unworthy of His Majesty. For, when the Most High directed men to build Him an house, He gave directions to build it in so costly a manner that the most gorgeous of our edifices is perfect simplicity in comparison.

"'The staff' implies authority, direction, support, and comfort. This comfort we find in the sacred words in the, Book of Common Prayer, a book so scriptural that it is full of scripture, and built upon it; so Catholic that nothing therein is found contrary to the decrees of the Apostolic--nay, the Universal Church--men's private fancies only being excluded; so comprehensive that every man finds his wants represented or his petitions anticipated; so varied that we may reap pleasure from it every time we wish; so full and frequent in its offices of prayer that, let a man be as devout as he will, he will find his devotion cannot soar to a higher pitch, if it be sober, rational, and Christian; and withal, so elevated that it leads us above the narrow views and petty prejudices of party into the calm and holy atmosphere of heaven.... While others turn aside to drink of other waters on the right hand and on the left, I desire no higher honour, blessing or happiness for myself or my children than to drink of the well of English undefiled, and to uphold in very poor measure 'the staff of Beauty and the staff of Bands,' as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

"Of the building in which we are now assembled for the first time, it becomes me to say no more than this--that it is a very simple, humble, and unworthy effort to glorify God, and to give access to His worship to all who choose to avail themselves of His ordinances, especially the poor. And as in the building of it, it is my duty not to look for human praise, so it is equally incumbent on me to give no heed to the rash and groundless censures of those who say 'Our lips are our own, we are they that ought to speak, who is Lord over us?' To the erection of this building scarcely any one has been asked to contribute. Your contributions of a larger kind are reserved for a higher edifice, in the erection of which a great number of the inhabitants of this place have pledged themselves to support me. From you, particularly, I claim this support, as your Bishop; as your friend; as one who has no interest at heart but yours; as one who, whatever may be his personal failings and defects, desires to benefit you, your city, and the people of this Province....

In this place may many a sluggish soul be quickened, many a wanderer recalled, many a consistent Christian be edified, many a mourner wipe away his tears. Here may 'the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings,' and grace and love and peace be multiplied!"

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