and Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
PRINTED BY E. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR,
BREAD STREET HILL, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET.
The Vision of Zechariah, thus interpreted, supplies our Church with an annual lesson when St. Philip and St. James are commemorated. As in the age of Zerubbabel and Joshua, as in the age of St. Philip and St. James, so also in our own age, the unchanging God governs His people through His ministers according to certain laws; and one of those laws is revealed and illustrated here.
I. In Zechariah's Vision, the seven-lighted candlestick all of gold represents the people or Church of God, as it then was,--the Jews, in the seventeenth year after their return from the Captivity,--destined to become in time the givers of true light to the whole darkened world. The oil which fills the lamps is the Spirit of God, that unction from the Holy One, Who is the only real Source of Light and Warmth, and Motion and Life. The two olive-trees, from which the candlestick is fed with oil, are Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two ministers ecclesiastical and civil who were called in God's providence to the task of governing and protecting His people in their recovered country, the task of making them, within such limits as were allowed, what the Lord of the whole earth intended His people to be--a light to lighten the Gentiles.
But there was one part of that task which at that time claimed the efforts of God's people and their rulers; viz., to [3/4] rebuild the Temple, by whose sacred rites, under God, the spiritual life of the people was sustained. Difficulties were in their way, great as mountains. Four may be mentioned:--
(1) The slowness with which the work had proceeded hitherto was of itself enough to damp and discourage farther efforts;
(2) The deplorable want of religious zeal among the Jews who cared chiefly to complete stately and comfortable homes for themselves; (3) The hostility, restless and jealous, of the Samaritans, ever aiming to thwart by intrigue or violence the erection of the Temp]e on Zion; (4) The vacillating policy of the statesmen in the distant Persian court, who, caring only to retain both Jews and Samaritans in subjection, contemptuously favoured the petitions of both alternately.
These trying circumstances naturally tempted the Jewish rulers in two ways;--either on the one hand to yield to the chilling influence of their apathetic countrymen, and the ceaseless turbulence of the Samaritans, and to postpone the work until they could accumulate greater wealth or get together more workmen; or, on the other hand, to encounter the violence of the Samaritans with greater violence, to undermine their intrigues at the Persian court by superior cunning, perhaps to lose patience with their Persian rulers and set them at defiance. Either of these courses might have been suggested by love of ease or the pride of self-reliance. The spirit of worldly wisdom would suggest them to worldly men working for worldly ends. But both were rejected; and a better course was pointed out and reiterated by the oracle of God, "This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." And again (Haggai ii. 4), "Be strong, Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts ... my Spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not."
[The Vision threw a new light on the work in which [4/5] Zerubbabel and Joshua were engaged. A humble task it might have seemed--to rear a cheap unadorned fabric on the lines of the magnificent Temple of Solomon. That seemed all they were doing to outward observation. But the Vision showed:--(1) That they were contributing to work out God's design, which was to have a peculiar people to be a light in the world, a habitation of the Holy Spirit; (2) That their own place in that design was to be in their appointed stations, as heads respectively of the civil and ecclesiastical authority, simply channels of grace, instruments in the Divine Hand; (3) That their way to perform their appointed task was not by any worldly means--by energy, arms, wealth, statecraft, policy, organization of their own,--but by following at the appointed time (Eccl. iii. 1) the guidance of the Spirit of God.] [This passage and another were omitted in delivery, in order to shorten the sermon.]
II. The Vision of Zechariah thus interpreted is an encouragement to us in the work for which we are met together to-day, which is to contribute to the stability and progress of the Church of God in the Colonies of Great Britain by adding another Bishop to that Church; and it may also be an encouragement hereafter to our brother when he has to perform in a distant land the duties for which he is now to be set apart.
Let it not be thought presumptuous to regard the progress and stability of this branch of the Church as forming a portion of a widely-extended plan of God. It is surely included in a great design long since announced, which has been gradually worked out for eighteen hundred years, and is still visibly moving towards completion. Has not the ancient prophecy told us that the uttermost parts of the earth shall be given for a possession of Christ (Ps. ii. 8)? Have we not heard that the fulness of the Gentiles shall be gathered into the Church of Christ (St. Luke xxxi. 24; Rom. xi. 25)? Was it not said by One Whose words shall never pass away, that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations (St. Matt. xxiv. 14)? Was it not the prayer of One Whose prayer must prevail, that believers may be made perfect in one, and that the world may believe that the Father sent the Son (St. John xvii. 23)? Does not the history of the last eighteen [5/6] centuries show that those Divine Voices have been listened to by the world as it pursued its troubled course, so that their import has been partly carried into effect, is now being carried farther, and wants but time for it to be carried out in its fulness? The plan of God for the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ is traced in deep lines upon the history of the past and the aspect of the present time. He Who counteth the nations as the small dust of the balance, and taketh up the isles as a very little thing (Isaiah xl. 15), seems to have assigned in His unfathomed plan, a humble but a distinct task to our nation, our island. Not indeed by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of God working through His appointed servants, it has been brought to pass that a small island holds dominion over a seventh part of the globe, that its language has become the mother-tongue of great continents, that its national Church has planted branches on every shore. Look at the rise and progress of our Church in the Colonies. You will see that it encountered difficulties of exactly the same kind as those which thwarted the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. (1) How painfully slow was its growth at first! it waited for more than two centuries for the beginning of the Colonial Episcopate. [See Chapter XVII., entitled "The Struggle for the Episcopate," in Canon Hawkins's Historical Notices of the Missions of the Church of England in the North American Colonies. 1845.] It seems ungracious, and yet it is not useless, to remember the other parallel difficulties which impeded it; (2) the lamentable apathy and want of zeal among English Churchmen; (3) the avowed hostility of other religious bodies; (4) the vacillation and indifference of statesmen at various periods. [For a candid statement of the objections raised by non-episcopal Christians, and for a model of Christian controversy, see the Answer to Dr. Mayhew's Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, published anonymously in 1764. It was written by Archbishop Seeker, and was re-published in a volume of his works, entitled Nine Sermons on Occasion of the War and Rebellion in 1745: fourth edition, 1795. See for instances the experience of Dr. Bray during the four years before he went to America (Life and Designs of Dr. Bray, second edition, 1808), and previously to procuring the Charter of the S.P.G.; and the treatment of Bishop Berkeley by Sir Robert Walpole (Life, prefixed to Works of Bishop Berkeley, page xi., edit. 1820).] Yet in the face of all [6/7] these difficulties, without any appearance of human sagacity to superintend and direct it, the Colonial Church grew up. Strangely enough the adverse views of politicians and the conflicting theories of religious parties seem in their turn to have been made to contribute to its increase. When the United States secured the beginning of their Episcopate in 1784, then English statesmen who had for eighty years obstinately refused episcopacy to America, came forward to plant bishops in Nova Scotia in 1787, and in Quebec in 1793. For twenty years there was a check, until devout Churchmen, whose zeal was kindled by the deterioration of our countrymen in the east, by the darkness of our heathen fellow-subjects, by the degradation of our slaves, procured the extension of the episcopate to Calcutta in 1814, to Jamaica in 1824, to Australia in 1836. [The extension of the Church abroad in this period was promoted efficiently by the political influence of William Wilberforce and the friends who shared his religious views. See his Life, specially Vols. II. and IV. See also Dr. Claudius Buchanan's Colonial Ecclesiastical Establishment, 1813.] Thus in 1840 there were ten bishoprics abroad all dependent on the funds of the Imperial or Colonial government. About that time a new impulse was given to the zeal of Churchmen. [The first number of the Tracts for the Times appeared in 1833.] A solitary voice was heard calling upon Englishmen to regard their bishops as successors of the Apostles, and to venerate the apostolic framework of their Church, while they devoted themselves and their substance to Him who inhabited therein. And that voice had marvellous power given to it to touch the hearts of fellow-men. Since then, in the course of the last thirty-seven years, there have been founded fifty-five bishoprics, mostly endowed by the voluntary offerings of Churchmen, and regulated by ecclesiastical constitutions; so that the whole number now amounts to sixty-five, and in these are not included the bishops of the United States. [The Colonial Bishoprics Fund was begun at Whitsuntide, 1840, and has contributed to thirty-seven additional bishoprics. The Companion to the Annual Report of S. P. G. includes a statistical account of 125 bishoprics in Foreign Parts whose origin is traced to the Church of England in the 18th and 19th centuries.] Such is the Colonial Church of England, as a candlestick of divine workmanship, drawing from God [7/8] Himself through His appointed channels its support and food, and dispensing its light and warmth through the dark places of the earth--to Africa, to India, to China, to the Pacific Islands, wherever the hand of God sets it to shine before men.
If the growth of the Colonial Church, in apparent harmony with the Divine government of the world, is thought to be a work of the Spirit in that Church, another sign may lead to the same conclusion, viz., the gifts and graces for which some of those bishops have been conspicuous. It would be wrong to praise living men in this place. But it would be ingratitude to the Giver of all good, to allow such men to pass into oblivion as Bishop Charles Inglis, the dauntless confessor for conscience sake; as Bishop Feild, the hardy apostle of fishermen; Bishop Fulford, the calm, judicious ruler; Bishop Stewart, the self-sacrificing, devout evangelist; Bishop Strachan, the paternal governor; Bishop Venables, the meek and patient shepherd of souls; Bishop Gray, the keen, far-seeing metropolitan; Bishop Armstrong, bright and warm of heart in bodily weakness; Bishop Mackenzie, the venturous martyr of simple faith; Bishop Heber, the poet, the scholar, the pastor loving and beloved; Bishop Broughton, the careful and wise administrator; [8/9] Bishop Selwyn, powerful in his gentleness and humility; Bishop Williams, the stedfast, toiling missionary; Bishop Patteson, who poured out his life for his people.
Look at the illustrious roll of these men; think of the talents with which they were entrusted; what they did; what they suffered; what memories they have left in both hemispheres, the east and the west; and you cannot resist the conviction that the work to which they gave their priceless lives was one of which the mainspring was not human power or might, but the Spirit of the Lord.
III. To follow in the train of that goodly company, our brother is to be set apart to-day. Called to undertake a weighty portion in that great work, he has a strong claim for the sympathy and the prayers of those who, whether in the country which he leaves, or in that which he adopts, are in any degree his fellow-workers.
Perhaps some of us now present are for the first time in their lives listening to the solemn words, and joining in the comprehensive prayers with which our Church consecrates her bishops. Bishops, priests, and deacons, in their threefold order are regarded by us not with superstitious veneration as though they were absolute vicegerents of some absent and unapproachable Monarch, nor yet with only the respect which would be due to delegates representing a changing congregation of men: but they are held in reverent estimation as inheritors of an office and a gift which have continued in the Church from the Apostles' time, which are conferred by lawful authority on men previously tried, approved, and sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer. The Scriptures embodied in our service show us what should be the personal character and qualifications of a Bishop (1 Tim. iii. 1, &c.); what details go to make up the daily work of Ins ministry (Acts xx. 17, &c.); what should be his object in life (St. John xxi. 15, &c.); what power is given to [9/10] him (St. John xx. 10); what authority (St. Matt, xxviii. 18, &c.); we should respect in him. And the questions by which he is publicly examined hold before him and before us a standard to which we cannot refer too often, of the reality of the call, of constant study of Holy Scripture, of opposition to error, of exemplary life, of care in procuring and sending forth teachers, of kindness and hospitality. There we have the best portraiture of a Christian bishop such as he is required to be in our generation. Good men have been who could see in a Colonial bishop merely a necessary "centre of local government," merely a person contributing "superior rank and superior acquirements to the society of a rising colony"; but we take leave to regard a bishop with a less superficial glance, to see in him what was shown in the prophet's vision--a channel of grace and a means of enlightenment to the Church in which he presides; an olive tree planted by the Creator to feed with divine food some one of the many candlesticks which God sets to give light to the world. [And thus he should be respected, not as an earthly ruler who might be obeyed with capricious irregularity, but as a chosen counsellor in perplexity, a refuge in trouble, in his diocese the pattern servant of Christ, and the chief intercessor, a sympathizing elder brother, a father in God. He should be looked up to as one who daily draws from the Living Fountain of Grace supplies for his own spiritual life, and who is enabled from the same source to contribute somewhat to supply the spiritual wants of others.]
Let us hope and pray that by the grace of God this may be the lot of our brother to be consecrated to-day. He goes across the sea to a sterile island and a poor people, to a climate of exceptional severity, where hardships, unfamiliar to us here, must be his daily portion; and though he is sure to find a warm reception and abiding attachment from a much-enduring, hospitable, Christian people, yet he will be prepared to meet with the old difficulties--tedious delay, hostility, apathy, and contempt. He takes up a part of the great plan of God in the world. He is not entering on the work of a pioneer in an untrodden region where everything has to be discovered and tried. He inherits [10/11] his office in a line from distinguished servants of God. He succeeds to a work begun by the vivacity, the refinement, the gentleness of the accomplished Bishop Spencer, work made deeper and wider, almost recast, by the strong hand, the re-served tenderness, the reverential loyalty, the far-reaching sagacity, of Bishop Feild. He succeeds to institutions reared by three master-builders, not indeed to be guarded with superstitious veneration as fit for all times and occasions, but to be modified, developed, extended, and adapted to the changes of times and of men by his wisdom and his direction, as he shall be moved, we trust, by the grace of God within him. "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." [Bishop A. G. Spencer, the first Bishop of Newfoundland, after serving the Church for some years as a Missionary of the S.P.G. at Ferryland and Trinity Bay, was consecrated in 1839; Bishop Feild in 1844; Bishop Kelly, after rendering invaluable aid as coadjutor-bishop to Bishop Feild from 1867 to 1876, and himself occupying the See for a year, was compelled by the state of his health to resign in February, 1877. The history of the Church in Newfoundland may be read in the Annual Reports of the S.P.G., from the year 1704 to the present time; in Tucker's Under His Banner, chap, xxxvii.; or in Work in the Colonies, pp. 64-71.]
May it be his lot to work patiently, faithfully, loyally as they did to whom these words were first said: and may his work prosper as theirs did, to the building up of the Church of God; to the enlightenment, elevation, and peace of mankind; and to the glory of the Lord of hosts.
The following Prayer for a Bishop and his Diocese, to be used on the anniversary of his consecration, is taken from the "Almanac of the Church in Foreign Parts."
Lord, the Shepherd of Israel, we beseech thee to send down thy heavenly blessing on thy servant the Chief Pastor of thy Church in [Newfoundland]: Endue him with the manifold gifts of thy Holy Spirit and with power, that he may be to all believers a wholesome example in word, in conduct, in purity, in love, in faith, and that he may turn to thee the hearts of unbelievers. Make him a good Shepherd to the flock of Christ, gently leading them in the way of salvation, where they may find pasture, and using the authority committed to him not to hurt but to help. So that, as a wise and faithful steward, having given to thy family their portion in due season, he may receive, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, the never-fading crown of glory.
Sanctify also the Priests and Deacons, and all Teachers ministering in [Newfoundland]. Bless them in their words and deeds, that through them the kingdom of thy dear Son may be enlarged and established.
Grant also that all to whom they minister may increase in knowledge, and be fruitful in every good work, and abound in love one toward another, and to all men: so that thy Church may hold forth the word of life in every land, and may set forward the eternal praise of thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Remember also to pray for the Church in all that quarter of the world in which Newfoundland is included,--
For the fifteen Bishops of British North America and their people, and for the fifty-seven Bishops of the Church of the United States and their people, that they may ever be united in one holy fellowship; that they may be established in every good word and work; that the emigrants from Europe may flow into their communion; that Gospel truth and apostolic order may spread throughout North America; that the heathen in the extreme north and north-west may be converted.
For the two Bishops of our Church in South America and their people; and for the conversion of the heathen in the remote south; for the extinction of unbelief and superstition; and for the propagation of the gospel in its purity and integrity throughout the land.