Project Canterbury

Principles ¿ Not Men
Chicago Times
February 2nd, 1874

transcribed by Dr Elizabeth G Mellilo
AD 2000


The Chicago Times of Saturday last gives large space to an account of the interview held by its reporter, with certain of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Wisconsin, relative to the approaching election of a bishop. Presuming that the report is accurate, I desire to make some remarks upon it.

The Rev. Dr. DeKoven evidently had the skill to put his case in the best light. Had the reporter been previously instructed to avoid all embarrassing questions, and to give him the fullest opportunity to extricate himself from an untenable position, he could not have put his interrogatories in a more favourable manner. The one point brought up was the Eucharistic speech of Dr. DeKoven in the last General Convention, and he immediately explained that it had been misunderstood and misrepresented, &c. But questions concerning the confessional, prayers for the dead, purgatory, the invocation of saints, and other well-known tenets of the Ritualistic party were carefully avoided.

There was also throughout the whole report, the assumption that there are but two parties in the Episcopal Church, the High Church and the Low Church. Dr. DeKoven claimed to be a high churchman of the "advanced" type; and the contest was represented as one only of men, and not of principles.

But with all due respect to Dr. DeKoven, this classification cannot be permitted to pass. If the question about the succession to the Episcopate of Wisconsin were only between two high churchmen, it would not create a tithe of the interest that is felt in it all over the church. The non-existence of a low church party in Wisconsin makes the election of a high churchman ¿ if there be no other party ¿ a foregone conclusion, and Dr. DeKoven is not so remarkable a man, personally, that his candidacy, apart from other considerations, would attract the attention that is being given to one of the poorest dioceses in the church.

The classification used to be high church and low church; but within a few years a third party has sprung up, distinct from either, which arrogates to itself the name of the Catholic party; but which is known by others as the Ritualistic party. Now the great interest felt in the Wisconsin election, is due entirely to the fact that it is known to be a question between the high church and the ritualistic parties. We cannot therefore permit the differences between these parties to be ignored. They are fundamental, and make, as we say, two distinct parties, and not two wings of the same party.

Outside of the ApostlesÍ and Nicene Creeds which are common to all parties, the distinctive principles of the high church party are the following:

  1. That the Church is a divine organisation.
  2. That the ministry is traced back in the line of the Apostolic succession, in a threefold order of bishops, priests, and deacons.
  3. Baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace.
The distinctive principles of the Ritualistic party are:
  1. The presence of Christ "in the elements, on the altar, after the consecration of the Bread and Wine.
  2. The use of vestments, lights, incense, &c., as accessories of Eucharistic adoration.
  3. Auricular confession, as having a sacramental character; and therefore useful for all Christians as an ordinary means of the forgiveness of sins.
  4. Prayers for the dead, with a direct reference to purgatory, in the case of the most "advanced" men.
  5. The invocation of saints and angels.
The high churchman charges the ritualists with "Romanizing," because of the above tenets. The ritualist, on the contrary, sneers at the high churchman as "high-and-dry," because he will not "advance" with him in the direction of Rome. The parties are distinct in their principles, and their aims.

The textbooks of the high churchmen are the divines of the 16th and 17th centuries; Pearson, Bull, Hooker, Andrewes, &c., and the fathers of the primitive church.

The textbooks of the ritualist are the writings of Pusey, Newman, Keble, R.I. Wilberforce, the volume of Gerard Cobb, entitled the "Kiss of Peace, or England and Rome at One," &c., MohlerÍs "Symbolik," and the scholastic divines and ritualists of the Middle Ages, translations and synopses of which issue, every now and then, from the press of this party.

As the two parties are distinct in principle, so are they in practice.

The practical results of high church teaching are:

  1. That baptised persons, being members of the church, are led to realise their calling and responsibilities as "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people."
  2. That the threefold ministry of apostolic succession is exclusive of Popes on the one side, and of unauthorised teachers on the other.
  3. That the sacramental union of the faithful with their risen Lord is at once the means and the call to holiness of heart and life.
The practical results of ritualistic teaching are:
  1. That the Eucharistic service is to be assimilated in its outward semblance, as much as possible, to the Mass celebrated in Roman Catholic churches, by means of the accessories on lights, music, incense, postures, genuflexions, and adorations.
  2. That non-recipients are to be present at the Eucharistic service, for the purpose of being benefited by the sacrifice, and of directing acts of adoration to the presence in the elements on the altar.
  3. That members of the church are to be persuaded, as an ordinary and frequent thing, to come to auricular confession and to put their consciences in "holy obedience," under the priestÍs "direction."
  4. That the Eucharist is to be offered, as a propitiatory sacrifice, for the living and the dead.
  5. That prayers for the dead, and the invocation of saints and angels, are to be practised.
These being the differences between the high church and ritualistic parties, it is evident what must be the interest felt in the Wisconsin election, when the candidate, who was claimed by the ritualistic party in the Massachusetts election, the Rev. Dr. DeKoven, is put forward in the diocese in which he resides. The Wisconsin election is a test of the relative strength of the high church and ritualistic parties, in a diocese in which there is no low church party to help it against the ritualists.

Now accepting the Rev. Dr. DeKovenÍs explanation of his position, as given in the Times report, it still remains true that Dr. DeKoven is identified with the ritualistic party, by his adoption of the words of Mr. Bennett, in the celebrated English trial, and his entrenchment of himself behind them in "adjudicated words."

Dr. DeKoven avows a presence to be adored in the elements on the altar. He claims that this is within the limits of opinion allowed by the church. But Dr. DeKoven knows as well as any one that no article, rubric, line or word authorises him to set forth that opinion as a doctrine of the church. All that the adjudication amounts to is that a man who holds this as his private opinion, is not therefore suspended or excommunicated, but for the present tolerated.

Dr. DeKoven holds his right to enter any pulpit of the Episcopal Church, only by the commission given him to teach "as our Lord hath commanded, and as this church hath received the same." But this church has given no sign, in any of her authorised formularies, that she has "received" a revelation of a presence to be adored in the elements on the altar.

Still it may be argued on behalf of Dr. DeKoven and the ritualists, that this is a merely speculative opinion, especially as the Doctor explicitly disavows a belief in transubstantiation. But unfortunately the practical results of this belief, are identical with the practical results of transubstantiation, and the difference is merely speculative and nugatory as between his belief and that of the Church of Rome. For the acts of adoration, addressed to the Presence in the elements on the altar, are precisely those addressed by the members of the Church of Rome to the host, and none other. This localisation of the Presence, implies an arrangement of the service, with lights, vestments, prostrations, non-communicant adorations, a reserved sacrament, processions of Corpus Christi, and all other incidents with which the attendants upon Roman Catholic worship are familiar, and which are foreign to our own "use." It implies an offering of Christ by the priest for the living and the dead ¿ it implies, in every respect, what the ritualists call it, the mass, and not the holy communion.

Dr. DeKoven, again, is known to recommend and practice auricular confession. In this also, he and his party make a distinction to ward off the charge of Romanizing, which is void of any practical result in distinguishing his theology from that of Rome. The distinction he makes is, that Confession with him is voluntary, while with the Romanist it is enforced. But if Confession be of that advantage which Dr. DeKoven and the Ritualistic party, with the Church of Rome, believe, they cannot consistently and conscientiously rest until they have made it enforced and not voluntary. For to leave their flocks without so great a benefit, for the want of its enforcement, must be, according to their view, a dereliction of duty. Their position with respect to the confessional is only provisional, and the "advanced" man in this direction, must necessarily be an "advancing" man, until he stands fairly and squarely with the Church of Rome.

With respect to the invocation of saints, and prayers for the dead, the position of the party and of Dr. DeKoven, is not uncertain, though less is said about these things, until they have made sure of their position upon the mass and the confessional.

If Dr. DeKoven is made Bishop of Wisconsin, the necessary tendency of his principles and associations will be, to require an arrangement of the Episcopal Cathedral, identical with that of Bishop HenniÍs Cathedral; the altar must be decorated with lights; the priest must be dressed in vestments, the people must prostrate themselves at the elevation of the host, the confessional boxes must line the walls, the people will not know whether they are in the one or the other. And if Dr. DeKoven be held back from this, by the necessity of conceding to the public opinion of his clergy and laity, he must feel trammelled and uncomfortable in the position he will hold, and the restraint will be the more irksome, the more honest and earnest he is.

I have written this, Mr. Editor, not out of any unfriendly feeling for Dr. DeKoven, of whose honesty and sincerity I have the highest appreciation; but because I believe Dr. DeKoven to be advancing in a wrong direction, and being so, to be in greater danger, the more honest and sincere he is. A dishonest man can be inconsistent, and honest man cannot. And I want the high churchmen of this diocese, if they are led by Dr. DeKovenÍs personal popularity to give him their vote, to see just what they are doing. The High Church party and the Ritualistic party are toto coelo apart, and if Dr. DeKoven permits himself to be identified with the latter, we, who are of the former, must let no personal affection or admiration for him blind us to the possible consequences.


A systematic attempt has been made to give the impression that in the approaching election of a Bishop for this Diocese, the question to be settled is simply one of men, not of doctrines and principles. The undersigned do not so regard it. They have seen an article in the Milwaukee papers, of January 31st, which they think sets forth correctly the points to be decided in the coming election. They have reprinted it in its present form for general circulation in the diocese, as a document well calculated to give a right view of the issues involved in the present contest.

February 2nd, 1874
Signed,

Lewis A. Kemper, D.D.
Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Literature at Nashotah, and Rector of Saint PaulÍs Church, Ashippun

William Adams, D.D.
Professor of Systematic Divinity at Nashotah

John H. Egar, D.D.
Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Nashotah

Robert N. Parke
Rector of Trinity Church, Oshkosh

John Wilkinson
Rector of Grace Church, Madison

Marison Byllesby
Rector of Saint James Church, Milwaukee


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