INTO THE ENGLISH BRANCH OF THE R. E. C.,
SHERREN AND SON, ''MAIN" PRINTING WORKS.
My Reverend Brethren of the Clergy, my Brethren of the Laity, our gathering together to-day has its sorrow and its joy.
We mourn that by the spread of the principles and practices of Rome in the Church of England--and alas, is the Church of Ireland free!--there should be, as there is, any need for a Reformed Episcopal Church in this country.
We sincerely rejoice that (as the need exists) there is such a Church in the realm of England, and that we are assembled in this building--for the use of which we feel much indebted to our reverend brother, the incumbent--to admit five presbyters to be fellow-workers in this good cause.
The ecclesiastical heavens appear to gather blackness. The darkness of superstition deepens in the Established Church, and without the light of the Word of God, gross darkness must cover the people. The sun of Evangelical and Protestant [3/4] religion in the Anglican Communion is on the wane. But "at evening time it shall be light," and from a branch of the Church of England herself there arises a cloud no larger than a man's hand. An Anglican bishop, (now passed into the heavens,) a modern Elijah, a second Luther, had his spirit stirred within him, and after a period of long drought, and a threatened famine of hearing the word of Jehovah, there is a sound of abundance of rain. The instrument is feeble. It is the grain of mustard seed--The reputed Carpenter's Son--The outcast man of Nazareth--The little band of fishermen. But He who by a "worm" could thresh mountains--He who by the "foolishness of preaching," could shake to its foundation the proud Empire of Rome, He can, and I believe He will use the Reformed Episcopal Church to bring about a second Reformation.
We are simply the old Church of England Reformed. We are
NOT A NEW CHURCH,
but a branch of the Holy Catholic Church of Christ, purged of those mediaeval superstitions and corruptions which brought about the first Reformation three centuries ago. Those same superstitions now, in the form of a so-called "Catholic Revival," are driving out many sober members of the Church of England from their rightful places of worship, and for those we desire to provide an ecclesiastical home, and thus strive to gather in one, the children of God which are scattered abroad. We are NOT SCHISMATICS, but as the Church of England once boldly rejected the errors of Rome and separated therefrom, so the Reformed Episcopal Church, now as boldly rejects those same errors which are destroying the spiritual fabric of the Church of England. We separate from her as she once separated from Rome. Her [4/5] reasons for her separation then are our reasons for our separation to-day: viz.--The development of superstition on the one hand, and, on the other, the desire to enjoy the Gospel of Christ upon the lines--not of medievalism, nor of the "Nicene period," but--of a churchmanship which is Evangelical, Scriptural, and in the truest sense Protestant--not merely a protest against error, but also a witness for the distinctive principles of the Gospel.
NOT ANTAGONISTIC TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
but we are opposed to the errors and superstitions of Rome which to-day leave the Church of England in open schism as "a house divided against itself."
We take our stand as Christians upon the revealed Word of Jehovah. As Churchmen we accept and adopt a Book of Common Prayer, carefully revised, not with the ruthless hand of the revolutionist, but with the calm spirit of sober and conservative Churchmen.
To those excellent and worthy Evangelical clergymen and laymen in the Church of England to-day who are striving so valiantly for true religion within her pale, I would say: "Friends we heartily wish you God speed in your noble work. You, from within the establishment, desire the same object which we seek from without; but--in our humble opinion--all your efforts to save the Church from Romanized Catholicism must be ineffectual unless you eradicate, from your Prayer Book, those seeds which are bringing forth so abundant a crop of evil deplored in common by us all."
 We rejoice at what has been done in the matter of
PRAYER BOOK REVISION
in the Church of Ireland. May God in His infinite mercy carry on the good work in that branch of His Church that she may thus be purged from the errors which are sapping the foundations of the sister Church of England.
Let me here quote some words contained in a letter which I received last week (Nov. 9, 1877,) from a lay member of the Church of England. He writes thus:
"So long as the Prayer-Book and Catechism of the Church of England are retained in their present form so long will the Ritualistic "Priest" find a hiding place within her walls; and there can be no safety for the sheep whilst the wolf is in the fold."
I do not desire now to dwell upon Baptismal Regeneration, or the Real, Actual Presence of Christ in the "Sacrifice of the Altar," or the Eastward Position, all of which are now openly taught and publicly practised as being officially and legally sanctioned in the Established Church. I do not enter upon the question of the Catechism--wherein is taught that a person is made a "member of Christ" in baptism, and that the "body and blood of Christ" are "verily and indeed taken and received" "in the Lord's Supper"--but I must allude to another phase of the same sacerdotal subject; and I give it brethren, as my humble but firm conviction that, as long as the ministers of the Church of England are officially known as "Priests;" as long as their position is spoken of as the "order of Priesthood;" as long as at their ordination each of them is told by the Bishop that he is "a Priest in the Church of God;" us long as it is declared to [6/7] him authoritatively that "whose sins thou dost forgive they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained;" as long as in the "visitation of the sick" the "Priest" is authorized to receive "a special Confession" of sins; as long as he is directed to say to the penitent in the name of "Our Lord Jesus Christ" that "by His authority committed unto me I absolve thee from ALL thy sins;" as long as language such as this is found in the Book of Common Prayer, so long will the
exist in England's Church.
The question, Brethren, which must soon be considered is this--not--Is the Church of England worth preserving? but whether of the twain is more in accordance with the Word of God, an established and state-supported system of Anglicized Romanism, or a Protestant and Evangelical Reformed Episcopal Church, stripped of all earthly honors, and free to teach the people upon the basis of the Scriptures of truth without human tradition, or the commandments of men?
To the Evangelical members of the Church of England I would again say: "You have a noble ship; her timbers are for the most part sound, but there are flaws in her 'papers.' There are many persons on board who take advantage of these flaws, and while you honestly protest in the unofficial 'staterooms' of your respective societies and associations, an active crew on deck are pulling down the Reformation-standard; the flag of a so-called 'Catholic Revival' is hoisted at the main; and by well-organized tactics, traitors to the cause of truth--banded together in what his grace of Canterbury calls a [7/8] 'conspiracy' are steering the good ship back to the port of Rome, whence--as some thought--she had altogether escaped. The vessel's course is changed, and to
'STICK TO THE SHIP'
under existing circumstances, is--as I think--consciously or unconsciously, willingly or reluctantly to be carried whither she is going. We have put off in what we believe to be a Life Boat known as the Reformed Episcopal Church. We have copied your papers, where they are good, and omitted your flaws, because they are evil. We hoist the ensign of the grand old principles brought to clearer light by the Protestant Reformation. We take God's word as our Chart. We seek the magnetic love of Christ as our compass and load-stone--the Holy Spirit as our prospering wind--immortal souls as our freight---and we trust by Jehovah's grace to reach heaven as our port of everlasting rest."
My brethren of the Reformed Episcopal Church: We recognise a real presence of Jesus in the heart of the believer but not in a wafer. We have an altar and a sacrifice, not the bread or wine upon the Lord's table, but the Lamb of God on Calvary. We rejoice in regenerating grace, not by water, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. We accept the priesthood of all believers through their union with the great High Priest above, but we deny that the Christian minister is in any sense a "Priest," (and we expunge the very word from our Prayer-Book) to offer carnal sacrifices which can never take away sin. We have a confessional, but it is the true mercy seat where Jesus reigns as a "Priest upon His throne;" and we raise our calm but solemn [8/9] protest against any theory or any Church which would pretend to exalt any man--priest or prelate--to usurp the prerogative of God who alone can pardon the guilty through the precious blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We do not exist to throw aside any old custom, ordinance, ceremony, rite, or practice, except such as be clearly and plainly subversive of the Word of God.
WE ARE AN EPISCOPAL CHURCH,
and I trust that this Episcopacy will be carefully preserved. We have our Bishops, Presbyters (not "Priests") and Deacons, in the same historical "succession" as the Church of England, through the See of Canterbury, and the highest church authorities freely admit the validity of our "orders" for the simple reason that they are the same as those possessed by the Anglican Communion." [I would here thank one of our Reverend Brethren for his very able paper upon the important ecclesiastical question of "orders" in the Catholic Church, the manuscript of which he has very courteously allowed me to see.] We are one with all evangelical churchmen, and we boldly carry out in practice what they have so long advocated in theory.
We are tired of mediaeval innovations. We are weary of strife amongst the members of the Body of Christ. We are
OLD-FASHIONED, CONSERVATIVE CHURCH PEOPLE.
We exist to restore the good "old paths" in which our fathers loved to walk. Our mission is to give back to this country the Church of England as it used to be before its foundations were [9/10] sapped by the undermining hand of Rome. We value the efforts made by every denomination to spread the glorious, gospel of the blessed God, but our more specific work is to be a home for evangelical churchmen and churchwomen--who are either expelled from England's Established Church by extreme Ritualism, or left to perish by neglect--yet, as the friend of all and the enemy of none, our great desire is to lift up that Saviour who by the attraction of His own love will draw all men to Himself.
Our Church to-day has five bishops--three of whom are Englishmen--scores of clergymen, and thousands of communicants. [P. S. (March, 1878.) The number of our Bishops has now increased to six, two of whom are resident in England, where our Clergy are already at work in nine Dioceses.] As a Church we have now our own UNIVERSITY in Chicago, richly endowed through the munificence of a layman. In it two of our bishops occupy the respective positions of Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor. This University has power to grant degrees in the various faculties, and after the plan of the London University, by examinations held in England under the supervision of your bishop and other examiners to be nominated by him, academic recognition can be fairly earned by, and honorably bestowed upon all who prove themselves worthy of the same. There is a special course in Divinity, whereby, on passing the required examinations, the usual theological degrees can be obtained, and thus an opportunity is afforded to all our candidates and clergy to reach such a locus standi as a University degree undoubtedly can give.
 My earnest wish is that we may all be fully equipped not only spiritually but also mentally, for the work which lies before us, and with this desire I commend to your careful attention
THE "UNIVERSITY OF THE CHURCH."
Although--in England--five months have not elapsed since this movement reached our shores, yet the formal admission and reception of five presbyters this day to the ministry in our branch of the Reformed Episcopal Church, I regard as a cause for deep gratitude to God, and the first-fruits and earnest of a great and mighty harvest.
We have not the glittering attractions of the Established Church, but we have, we believe, the solid gold of truth. We put not our trust in princes nor in any child of man: God is our refuge and strength, and in His name we lift up our banners. We are without the patronage and control of any earthly parliament, but we desire to be loyal servants of the court of heaven. We have not the aid of any worldly state, but we have, we believe, the approbation of the King of Kings. As British subjects we deeply love our noble Queen and Empress Victoria--may God continue to bless her, and long may she reign--but in matters purely spiritual we acknowledge only one King whose name is Jesus. We go forth not with the applause of the world, but we desire to take Christ as the Captain of our salvation; to follow Him as our Leader; to take the Word of God as our guide; and stirred by the Spirit of Jehovah, we have but one object in view:--the exaltation of His name and the blessing of immortal souls.
Very recently I stood in Oxford, close to a spot sacred to every Protestant, especially so to every Protestant Churchman. [11/12] There died at the stake (where now the "Martyrs' Memorial" stands)
LATIMER, RIDLEY, AND CRANMER,
those noble Reformers.
We exist to-day, as instruments to lift up the candle which there, more than three hundred years ago, was by God's grace lighted in our country. By God's grace that candle shall never be extinguished. We desire to hand on the light of truth to generations yet unborn, and, in the spirit of our martyred fore-fathers, to promote a second Reformation in this dear old realm of England.
When the fires at Oxford blazed around those sacred men--where then was the Church of Christ? Where then was God's kingdom in this land?
The world said it was where the bloody Queen bowed before the image of the Virgin, and where Gardiner and Bonner, with reeking hands, held up the mass to the adoration of a courtly throng. There, surely, was an old historic Church. There, the Church which gloried in a "succession" of ecclesiastical titles, rather than in one of grace. There, the Church which was recognized by law. But God and His angels saw another Church. It was where Hugh Latimer, bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, bishop of London, praised God in the fires, and Cranmer, soon to follow them to martyrdom, prayed that they might be supported to the last.
From these old gospel-loving English bishops; from these noble princes in the Church of the First born, who by God's grace kindled the torch of Protestant truth and gospel-liberty in this land; from these whose memories all evangelical [12/13] Protestants revere; from these, we as bishops, presbyters and deacons of the Reformed Episcopal Church claim the historical "succession" of our "orders." We are proud of our lineage and we rejoice that the truths for which those martyrs died, are the truths for the spread of which our Church to-day has its existence.
As the bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church appointed to the Missionary Jurisdiction of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, I cannot let this opportunity pass without thus officially recognizing our deep obligation to those reverend brethren from other Episcopal branches of Christ's Church, who by their presence and participation in our services to-day, show their sympathy with our principles and our work. Reverend brethren, we welcome you! Reverend sirs, in the name of the Reformed Episcopal Church, I thank you! By your kind co-operation to-day we shall preserve in our Church the historical succession from six, if not seven, branches of Christ's one holy Catholic Church; and above and before all, we trust that we have the true succession of apostolic doctrine and grace from God by His blessed Spirit, through the great Bishop Jesus Christ, who as a Priest sits upon His throne to bless His people for ever. Our great desire, my brethren, is, as humble instruments in God's hand, to hold forth the Word of Life, and we rely for success not on earthly might, nor on worldly power, but on the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts.
Brethren! you who are now about to be formally admitted to the sacred ministry in this, as we believe, the purest branch of the Church Catholic; we are engaged in a noble work. While
WE CLEAVE TO THE OLD BOOK
 and the "old paths" no weapon that is formed against us can prosper. We are indeed honored in being permitted to occupy the van--in England--in such a cause as this. As the apostles were men of varied gifts--the enthusiastic, the cautious, and the practical, so I think I recognize among you, my brethren, the warm hearted, the cool-headed, and also the patient worker. Let us remember that each gift which we possess has been bestowed by the gracious Spirit of God, in order that we may each in our vocation and calling, minister severally and conjointly to the advancement of the kingdom of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Never did any religious movement have such an encouraging and hopeful prospect. Our help is in the name of Him who loveth truth. The land around may be dark, and the ecclesiastical atmosphere may be dense, but the horizon is very bright; the sun is breaking through the clouds, and we can see, above, a sky which is very clear. Let us as one living band,--as an army of good soldiers of Jesus Christ, go forth in His name and for His work. With Him on our side failure is impossible, and victory is sure; and from the distant echoes of Patmos may the voice of the Son of Man be our encouragement and our stay,'--"Behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." With such a promise and relying upon such a Saviour; in the name of Jehovah, and animated by His Spirit, let us, brethren, (in the words of sainted Bishop Cummins) "go forward and do a grand work."
P.S. (March, 1878.) The "Memorial Stone" of Trinity Church, Southend-on-Sea, (the first REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH in the United Kingdom) was laid on the 3rd of December, 1877.