ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1869.
OF the following Lecture the substance was delivered in Leeds more than thirty years ago, when the object of the Lecturer was to bring the Anglo-Catholic Church under the notice of his parishioners, not as an Establishment, but as Religious Community; which, from its Divine origin and from the wisdom with which, after a season of corruption, its reformation had been conducted, had a claim upon their allegiance and might challenge their support.
In February last, he was requested to prepare a paper to be read at the Church Institute in Leeds; and at a time when the minds of many were in a state of perplexity, occasioned by the proposal to disestablish the Anglo-Catholic Church in Ireland, he thought, that by remodelling and enlarging his former lecture, he might induce some of his former friends to rise above mere party considerations, and to discuss the subject simply on its merits.
His object was, by a reference to Church Principles, to show that the question is one belonging to the politician rather than to the religionist; and that the condition of the clergy, in relation to their mission, is not of necessity improved by the close connection between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, which [iii/iv] an Establishment, in the modern acceptance of the term, implies.
This may, in part, be perceived by the line of argument adopted by many who assumed a prominence in defence of Establishments, when the subject was under debate in the House of Commons. The Church has received a mission from its Divine Head; and whether protected by the State or persecuted by the civil authorities, that mission, through evil report or through good report, it will discharge. The object that the Church has in view is not, except incidentally, to act as a teacher of morality; her business is to proclaim the glad tidings, that for fallen man, for man, by nature in a state of damnation, a Saviour has been provided Almighty to save; and that, for the Heaven opened to penitent mankind the Holy Spirit will prepare the souls of all, who seek for His sanctification through the means of grace, which no power on earth can prevent the Church from administering. The question, then, for the Churchman to ask, is simply this,--Are we assisted or impeded in the discharge of our mission by an alliance of the Church with the Civil Institutions of the country?
I confess that, after a long course of Patristic studies, at the commencement of my professional career, I came to the conclusion, that an alliance between Church and State, if regard be had simply and solely to our immediate object, is by no means an advantage to the Church. I speak with diffidence, since many who are my superiors in every sense of the word, have arrived at an opposite [iv/v] conclusion; but I cannot but remember that it was before the time of Constantine, that the Primitive Church abounded with saints and martyrs; while in the following Lecture it has been shown that the Anglo-Catholic Church in the United States of America has, since its disconnection with the State, been able to preach the truth and the whole truth as it is in Jesus, with a vigour and zeal which it had been the policy of the State antecedently to repress; and that, while providing the means of grace for the home population, her missions to the heathen, previously neglected, have at the same time been such as to provoke the Church of England herself to greater exertions. If life and health be spared, I hope to show, that similar success has attended the exertion of Churchmen in those Colonies in which, though not dissevered from the mother-country, the Church has been freed from the trammels of the State, and has been restored to primitive freedom of action.
The action of the Church, it will be seen in the following Lecture, was impeded in America by its connection with the State; and on referring, as has just been said, to the debates in the House of Commons, we find, that the power of thus impeding the legitimate operations of the Church has been adduced by advocates of Establishments as one of the great advantages resulting from its alliance with the State. These Establishmentarians have asserted truly that, in the discharge of its mission, the Church may have to act in defiance of the civil authorities,--the secular Government of the country. The Puritans, in the [v/vi] time of Charles I., and the Huguenots in France, were wrong in having recourse to the weapons of a carnal warfare, but in their resistance to the Government they acted on the Christian principle. The Christian will preach, he must preach that Saviour whom the world must hate, because the fact of His being a Saviour implies the world's condemnation. Woe were it to the Christian if he were not to preach Christ crucified, when and wherever God provides the opportunity. He may, as the Divine Author of Christianity has declared, be obliged to "set a man at variance with his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;" however much he may deplore his fate, and exclaim with the prophet, "Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth," still he must preach the Gospel, even though by so doing he sends " not peace on earth, but a sword." We may lament the fact, but there it is, a fact undeniable; and therefore, the advocates for establishments in the 19th century applaud what was done by the Walpoles and the Newcastles of the 18th century, and urge as a recommendation of religious establishments, that they tend to enslave the preachers of the Gospel, compelling them to preach not true things but smooth things. Let them be tied and bound, only let the links of their chain be of gold; let the breath be trampled out of the Church's body, only let her lie, meantime, on a bed of roses; let there be an irresistible, if not an infallible [vi/vii] Head, provided that this supreme Head hath not his abode on the Seven Hills. Certainly we may say
"Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis,
It is, sometimes, only by pushing our principles, in theory, to their logical extreme, that we can force men to see what those principles really are; but it does not follow that in so doing we wish to force them into immediate action. The pressure of the State upon the Church may, at some future time, become such as to make resistance a necessity; but when, in order to take an impartial view of the subject, we move to another stand-point, we may see grounds for regarding such a contingency with feelings of deep regret. We do not wish to see the State in subjection to the Church, as in the middle ages, but we do require justice and free scope for energetic action. When we look upon the subject from the statesman's point of view, we see the possible advantage not to the Church, but to the State, of an establishment. When the statesman points out the blessings which in England have accrued to the Realm from its alliance with the Church, we at once acquiesce in his opinion; and as patriots, we may, with perfect consistency, desire that the Church may long continue to be established in our native land. We are told that by the establishment of the Church a moral tone is imparted to general society, that a moral character is impressed upon our secular institutions; that even into our lighter literature a moral [vii/viii] feeling is imparted. Our object as citizens and subjects is to create a moral atmosphere in which the people may lead a healthy life. Although the Church has a higher aim, than to act as merely a teacher of morality; although, as we have said, her business is to bring lost man to the One and Only Saviour, yet the tidings of Salvation are glad tidings only to those who repent and believe; and in preaching repentance, the preacher of the Gospel is a preacher of morality in the highest sense, and under the most holy sanctions. As morality can never be more powerfully enforced, than when it is based on religion, we cannot but consider, that it is a great advantage to the cause of morality and civilization, to send an educated gentleman into the remotest villages; and to gain for the ordained nobleman or gentleman an admission into those palaces of wealth, where, if all we hear be true, the preacher is more needed than in the humble abodes of poverty.
All that we say is, that if it be proved to us, that those advantages do not in any particular locality ensue then there can be no reason why, as Churchmen, we should stand opposed to the disseverance of a union, which may, under one set of circumstances, be advantageous, while, under another set of circumstances, it may be the reverse. Let us repeat the assertion, that the question is one which is propounded to us not in our capacity as Churchmen, but in our relation, as citizens and subjects, to the commonwealth.
In legislating for Ireland the question has become [viii/ix] practical and urgent, whether it be conducive to the well being of that portion of the British Empire to retain the Anglo-Catholic Church as an Establishment; and in the most unequivocal manner a verdict has been returned in favour of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church.
This is a question to be decided, not by the Church but by the State; and to the voice of three kingdoms, requiring that the privileges of an establishment shall be withdrawn from the Anglo-Catholic Church in Ireland, we must submit. Some may regret this, some may think that this severance from the State will add to the efficiency of the Church; but whatever our private opinions may be, the practical question now is,--How are we to make the best of our altered circumstances?
We are not to be more favoured than any other community of Christians; but we may presume that the justice conceded to others will not be withheld from us. We are to surrender, but it is important to consider what shall be the terms of our surrender. To the Anglo-Catholic Church in Ireland, not considered as an Establishment, but regarded as a corporation invested with certain corporate rights and a certain amount of property, certain terms of surrender are proposed.
For this provision has been made. In the Bill now before Parliament, provision is made for the appointment of certain persons to negotiate with the Government in behalf of the Church.
But, antecedently to this, a question recurs, for a [ix/x] solution of which Churchmen look with anxiety, "How will the Bill be received by the Lords Spiritual in the upper House of Parliament?" Churchmen look forward with intense interest to the coming debates in the House of Lords.
I have pleasure in being able to state, what I believe to be a very prevalent opinion among the members of the Church of England, that on the bench of Bishops may be seen men who, for their learning, their energy, their practical wisdom, and their piety, deserve the respect which, in their several dioceses, is accorded to them, both by the clergy and the laity. To the opinion of some individuals among the Lords Spiritual, great deference will be paid, and is justly due.
But the Lords Spiritual,--those among the Anglican Bishops who, by right of their baronies, have seats in the House of Lords,--are not the representatives of the clergy; and while deference will be paid to the utterances in Parliament of the Lords Spiritual, yet their joint action cannot be regarded as the voice of the Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Laity of the Church of England who have had no voice in their appointment.
Among the disadvantages attendant upon the Establishment of the Church this is one,--that, although in theory her right to elect her Bishops is recognised, and although the forms of an election are still observed, yet the elections are, in point of fact, so overruled, that the Lords spiritual are the mere nominees of the Crown. This was an evil existing [x/xi] and complained of long before the Reformation; it was not, as some persons suppose, a consequence of that event. I am not prepared to say, that better appointments would be made if the Bishops were elected as in the American Republic, but I mention the fact. The bench of Bishops may be appointed by a Gallio, who may be prompted, in his nominations, by a dissenter; and it is scarcely possible to suppose that the army will place confidence in its Generals when the Generals are nominated by the enemy. Among the Lords Spiritual it is suspected, that an Erastian spirit prevails, and it is feared, that by Erastian prelates an inclination will be evinced to sacrifice the principles of the Church in order to retain, in England at least, the emoluments and dignities of an Establishment. If it is found, that there is any foundation for these suspicions, the divisions in the Church will be multiplied.
If, on the contrary, the Lords Spiritual are seen, when acting in concert, determined to uphold the Church in her principles rather than in her property; her property, as well as her principles, will be rendered more secure, a new era of legislation may ensue, and, introducing disciplinary measures, the Lords Spiritual may then have the support, instead of the opposition, of the clergy, as well as the respect of the laity.
It is to be feared, that in some quarters this is regarded as a more clerical question. As a triumph over the clergy the Bill is supported by some, and to avert such triumph it is opposed by others. But the [xi/xii] clergy can happily approach the subject apart from selfish considerations. By the wisdom of those who have introduced the Bill, vested rights are respected; and among the clergy of the present generation, some will find themselves in a better, none in a worse position in regard to their worldly circumstances, than they now are. As to the future, it were to evince-a want of faith in our principles, if we did not feel quite certain, that, under the voluntary system, modified in accordance with primitive example, the disestablished clergy of the Church of Ireland will take a higher position, than any they can hope to occupy, when forced, as at present, by a power from without, upon a hostile population.
THE subject to which I propose this day to call your attention, is the History of the Anglo-Catholic Church in the United States of America. This subject I have chosen, because it is one of peculiar interest at the present time, when the question suggests itself to many minds, What would be the position of the Church of England if that alliance between it and the State, to describe which we employ the ambiguous term of an Establishment, were dissolved and cancelled?
To the history of Scotland we may refer, if we would ascertain the position of the Church, when its emoluments and possessions have been by the State transferred from it to another community of Christians; and we refer to the history of the United States of America, if we desire to be informed, how the Church can maintain its own, when,--disestablished and disendowed, without favour or disfavour,--it takes its place among religionists of various denominations and persuasions, Popish and Reformed, Christian or Infidel.
The Reformed, the Anglo-Catholic, or as the Americans have come to style it, the Protestant [1/2] Episcopal Church, remains in North America in a condition, now when disestablished, in some respects more prosperous than it was--at least in many of the plantations--when it was theoretically allied to the State. It maintains its pre-eminence among the educated classes of society, if not in the sunshine of this world's patronage, yet free and unfettered and thus better prepared than an established Church can be, amidst internal controversies, to exercise discipline, to repel the insubordinate, and to maintain truth.
The question of establishing or of disestablishing the Church is a question of policy, not of religion. By an alliance with the Church the State may be benefited, and some advantages may at the same time accrue to the Church itself. By elevating the social position of the Clergy, a Christian tone may, undoubtedly, be given both to society and to literature, and, so to say, the national institutions may be Christianized. The very stones of the Temple may be made to speak of God to the intelligent; and in the remotest village, the church bell may not only invite to prayer, but remind the people also, that a friend resides among them, to sympathise with them in their sorrows and to teach them so to pass through things temporal as finally not to lose the things eternal.
But as regards the Church itself, if it be highly endowed, those emoluments may allure men into the ministry who are not only ignorant of the Christian religion, but hostile to it; who, yielding to an appeal made to their cupidity or their ambition, may unconsciously strengthen the hands of the enemies of the Gospel, by explaining away or undermining the principles of the Church. In their fear of the [2/3] clergy, whom in words they contemn, it may also be the policy of statesmen to reduce the Church of the realm to the condition of the Laodicean Church; oblivious of the voice which said, I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert either cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." [Rev. iii. 15, 16.]
In saying this, I have described the policy of English statesmen towards the Church, as it existed in the North American Colonies antecedently to the American Revolution.
.In the charters granted to the several Colonies, there was inserted in most instances a stipulation, that Christianity should be supported under the forms of the Church of England. And yet the Church of England in her entirety was not permitted to raise her mitred head, either in the Islands, or on the North American continent. An Episcopal Church without an Episcopus, was like the tragedy of Hamlet with the character of the Prince of Denmark omitted, No discipline could be exercised, except through the means of commissaries appointed by the Bishop of London, to whose diocese the Colonies were attached; no new parishes could be formed, no churches consecrated, no children confirmed, and no missions established for the conversion of the Indians.
The anomalous position of the Church in the Colonies attracted the notice of pious men at home who had regard, not to the political, but to the spiritual character of the Church. Most of these great men, when their attention was called to the [3/4] subject, expressed an earnest desire to procure an episcopate for America. They did not desire, that the Bishops, for permission to appoint whom they petitioned, should be invested with temporal power, for they were aware of the jealousy already beginning to show itself in the Colonies against interference with the rights of the several plantations; they simply asked for permission to carry out the principles of the Church. Archbishop Seeker, Bishops Berkeley, Butler, Sherlock, Terrick, Louth, and Gibson, some of them strong Whigs, all exerted themselves to procure the appointment of a Bishop to America to superintend the Church in Virginia, and the other Colonies where the Church was endowed; and to send clergy into those Colonies where Puritanism had triumphed over the Church, proscribed its ministrations, and persecuted its members.
Their desire was not to interfere with any of the various sects, but to enable those who desired to conform to the Church of their fathers, to enjoy the Church's ministrations, and to send forth missionaries to preach the Gospel to the Indians, for whom no provision was made, until the establishment of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Within two years of its foundation, the Gospel Society addressed the Crown in favour of an American Episcopate, and it was supported by a similar petition from the University of Oxford. In 1715, the same Society petitioned George I. to permit the Archbishop of Canterbury to establish four Bishoprics in America, two for the Islands, and two for the Continent, thus leaving three at every vacancy to [4/5] continue the succession. The income of the proposed Bishops was to be provided without any demand upon the Home or the Colonial Governments. Every Bishop of London from 1764 to 1787, remonstrated with the Government on the subject, and enforced, in turn, our clear obligations in this matter. They were backed by remonstrances from America; from the Laity of those Colonies in which an interest was taken in Church matters; and from all the Clergy engaged in earnest in their Divine Master's work. All was in vain. Foreigners occupied the Throne; the Court, including the Royal mistresses, was ruled by foreigners; and the single object of our only great Minister, until the appearance of Pitt, was to defeat the measures of the Pretender. The imbecility of Walpole's successors was proved by the loss of the Colonies.
The Ministers felt secure of the Church, and they thought it good policy to conciliate the Dissenters: and the Dissenters of every denomination and sect were opposed to the appointment of an Episcopate in America, simply from a desire it would seem, to render the Church inefficient. We often find indeed, that the votaries of toleration are themselves intolerant. The members of the Church regard certain functions, which pertain exclusively to the Episcopal office, as essential to their spiritual edification and comfort--some, which, in their opinion, whether right or wrong, are necessary to the very existence of a Church; when the persons so believing applied for permission to establish the Episcopate in America they offered every conceivable guarantee, to prevent the appointment from assuming [5/6] a political character; but the blessing they sought was denied them. The Church was not permitted to develope or even to organize itself, because it was, in theory, established.
I rather dwell upon our opponents' inconsistency than upon anything else, for I am afraid, that man is an intolerant Being; and all we can do is, on all sides, to pray, that we may be delivered from temptation. The temptation is great, when men are in possession of power to forget the golden rule, that we are to do to others as we would that they should do unto us.
The evil result, however, of this conduct on the part of the Home Government became visible in the Colonies; and in order that we may judge of the extent of the evil, we must advert to the general features of North American Colonization.
In the original charters granted to the English colonists, as I have already said, we generally, if not always, find a stipulation for the recognition of Christianity, according to the forms and principles of the Church of England; and in these cases, it was assumed, that the Church established at home was to be regarded as the established Church in the Colonies, although its endowment was in most instances left to chance, and no definition was given to enable people to understand what, under the circumstances, by an establishment was meant.
In many Colonies, the very assumption created a strong hostility to the Church, and Churchmen were in some places subjected to persecution.
The midland Colonies from the boundary of Connecticut to Maryland were originally colonized by [6/7] Dutch and Swedes, and, after the cession of those colonies to England, the bulk of the settlers remained, reinforced from time to time by emigrants from Germany, as well as from Holland and Sweden. Except in New York, the Dutch predominated; and Presbyterianism prevailed in the South Western Colonies, until a short time before the Revolution. Pennsylvania was settled by the Quakers, not then as now, a small body of peaceable religionists, forming a kind of religious aristocracy; but a sect which, though abounding with good and pious men, did not escape the sin of intolerance, into which real earnestness too often, if not carefully watched, is found to degenerate, leaving the less religious portion of the community fierce in its fanaticism.
Here let it be observed, once for all, that at all times and in all sects, there are always a large body of sober, earnest, pious Christians--people who are better than their system, even when their system is most faulty--who walking piously with their God, unknown in the world of controversy, promote, each in his own humble sphere, the glory of their Saviour, and the well-being of all whom their God brings nigh unto them. These are not the persons, whom the world praises in our time; it is the heady and the high-minded who, living in society, too often turn faith into faction, and bring disgrace not only upon their faction, but also on our common Christianity. It is not among those whose names are in every one's mouth, who declaim at public meetings; or among those who carry on a moral persecution against their opponents by anonymous contributions to the public [7/8] press, that the real children of God are to be found. God's children are for the most part working in secret, abiding the time, when He who seeth in secret will reward them openly. If by circumstances not of their own seeking, they yield to the inward impulse, and take a lead in public affairs, they are kept humble by the thought that the time is coming when many who are first shall be last.
I say this in passing, while I mention that the piety, by which those who colonized New England were at first distinguished, was, in course of time, perverted among the leaders of the Puritan party, into a zeal as fierce and fiery as that which had, in other times, lighted the fires of Smithfield, and suggested the tortures of the Inquisition. The historian Fuller, who entertained certainly no prejudice against the Puritans of his own or of any preceding period, remarks, "That they were divided into two ranks, some mild and moderate, contented to enjoy their own conscience, others fierce and fiery to disturbance of Church and State;" "accounting everything from Rome that was not from Geneva, they endeavoured to conform the English Church to the Presbyterian Reformation." [Fuller, ix. 76.] The latter class, unfortunately, obtained too early a dominion over their brethren in New England. In his commentaries upon the Constitution of the United States, Judge Story affirms, that the colonists obtained their charter under the stipulation, that provision should be made for the Church of England, which was to be the established religion. [Story, i. 49.] "If it be asked," says Anderson, "In what way have the provisions of a charter [8/9] framed with such an intent been observed by those who were so eager to obtain it? the only answer which can be returned, is one, of which the truth is indeed abundantly established by all New England historians, but which they are, for the most part, reluctant formally to avow, that, from the outset, these provisions were deliberately and systematically set at nought. Judge Story is one of the few historians who distinctly admit the fact. Having described the charter as expressly framed for the purpose of keeping up a conformity between the Colony and England, he quietly remarks:--'The first emigrants, however, paid no attention to this circumstance; and the very first church planted by them was Independent in all its forms, and repudiated every connexion with Episcopacy or the Liturgy.'" [Anderson, ii. 40.] How this proceeding was reconcilable with the common principles of honesty, it is difficult to surmise, but the powers of self-deception are proverbially great, when to deceive ourselves as well as others, we are urged by our passions: and we may suppose, that their moral instincts were blunted by their passions, their passions having certainly become inflamed. They did not hesitate to shake off the Church of England with contempt, as a despicable, schismatical, and Popish community. "The compendium of Common Prayer and Ceremonies" they described as a sinful violation of the worship of God. They went further, they declared that all "Vicars, Rectors, Deans, Priests, and Bishops, are of the Devil, are wolves, petty popes, and anti-Christian tyrants." ['Hist. of Connecticut,' i. 781.] They proclaimed it a heinous [9/10] sin, when prayers are read out of a book by a vicar or a bishop. They went further still, for they said that "the lovers of Zion had better put their ears to the mouth of Hell, and learn from the whispers of the devils what they read than the Bishops' book." ['Hist. of Connecticut,' i. 781.] They preached what Martin Marprelate had said in England: "The Bishops are proud, popish, presumptuous, paltry, pestilent, perverse prelates and usurpers." They continue the alliteration, "They are cogging and cozening--impudent, shameless, wainscot-faced prelates. Yon fat places are anti-Christian; they are limbs of Antichrist."
Bad as the religious press, so called, may still be, I think that it has improved since these times. I doubt whether amongst Protestants such language would now be tolerated. If we entertain these opinions, we should, in these days, insinuate them only in sarcastic phrases.
But the persecution, at that period, was not confined to words. As late as 1750, an old man who had long been a member of the Church, was whipped publicly for refusing to attend service at a Meeting House. An Episcopal clergyman of English birth and education was fined heavily in the same year, on the pretence, that he had broken the Sabbath by walking home too fast from church. At Hertford, one of the Judges of the County Court, assisted by the mob, pulled down a church which was being built by subscription, and with the stones erected a mansion for his son. [Ibid.]
The zeal of the Puritans, or Presbyterians, was [10/11] not directed solely against the Church. It was enacted that no food or lodgings should be allowed to a Quaker, Adamite, or other Heretic. [Blue Code, No. 13.] When banishment failed, recourse was had to other measures. Fines, imprisonment, stripes, and even death itself were among the remedies; for "God forbid," say they, "that our love of truth should be so cold, that we should tolerate error. Convicted Anabaptists were fined twenty pounds, and, as it was said, whipped unmercifully." [Ibid.] Absence from the Ministry of the Word, was treated in like manner, by men who, in the old country, had justly complained of a tyrannical enactment, by which all persons had been compelled to attend their parish churches. The Quakers were peculiarly ill-used. Of them, Cotton Mather writes, when complaining of those who troubled Israel: "There have been found among us those unhappy sectaries, namely, Quakers and Seekers, and such other Energumens, i. e., persons possessed of evil spirits." Fines were levied on all who harboured the accursed sect, while Friends were sentenced, after the first committal, to lose one ear, after the second, another, and after the third, to have the tongue bored through with a red-hot iron. If any person--says the 'Blue Code,' containing the Puritan Laws, No. 13--"if any person turns Quaker, he shall be banished, and not suffered to return again under pain of death." Nor was this an inoperative statute. "Many Quakers,'' says Neale, the Puritan historian, "were in New England put to death for the profession of their [11/12] faith, till an order carne from the Home Government which brought this violence to a close." [Neale's 'Puritans,' i. 334.]
Such was the religious liberty of Presbyterian New England.
There are many persons in this room who are, I am happy to know, acquainted with the 'History of the Church of England,' which I am publishing under the title of 'Lives of the Archbishops,' and they will remember that there, while reiterating the abhorrence which we all feel at persecution in its every form at the present time, I point out that it is a sin, of which every community of Christians has been, at one time or other, found guilty; and that, instead of cursing each other, for an offence common to all, we ought, one and all, to repent, and to take shame to ourselves for the past. It is not to excite any feelings of indignation against any class of Christians, that I have mentioned these facts,--I mention them only as facts, which it is necessary to have before our minds, if we would take into consideration the difficulties with which the Anglo-Catholic Church had to contend in North America in times anterior to the Revolution.
In Virginia an attachment to the Institutions of the mother country lingered longer than in any other of the Colonies, and here the Church of England obtained a footing and was fairly endowed. Virginia had been colonized by adventurers who had left; their native land to better their fortunes, and the Colony had been augmented by becoming the resort of Royalists flying from persecution at the Great Rebellion. The general character of society in [12/13] Maryland differed little from that of Virginia, and the same may be said of the Carolinas and Georgia, while the practice of sending young men of fortune to England for education tended to draw still closer the ties which bound them to the land of their fathers.
Here at first the Church appeared to flourish, and by the Colonists it was, as we have said, fairly endowed. But the want of a Bishop was felt in the great relaxation of discipline and in the suppression of some of the offices of the Church. The laity, at one time, joined with the clergy in petitioning for the establishment of an American Episcopate. The inconvenience arising from the existing state of things gradually became serious. The Colonies were supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London, and by him commissaries were appointed; but their authority to exercise discipline was so questionable, that they were timid to act except in extreme cases, and when evil men were driven to an extremity they defied an authority, which the courts of law were not careful to support. The ordinance of Confirmation, in the absence of a Bishop, could not be administered; and, as for ordination, candidates seeking ordination had to undertake a perilous voyage occupying six or seven weeks, and after accomplishing the voyage not a few fell victims to the pestilence which then prevailed--the small pox. The small pox is still a terrible disease; but in the last century and before the introduction of vaccination, it was a pestilence that baffled every healing art; and though it was known in America it was less prevalent there than in England, where the Americans seem to have [13/14] been peculiarly liable to contract the disease. At all events, this was supposed to be the case in the Colonies; and a dread of contracting the disease interfered with the intercourse between the two countries, and rendered abortive the most earnest efforts which faithful men on both sides of the Atlantic sought to make for the extension of their common faith.
Under these circumstances, instead of admitting into the ministry the sons of the leading persons in the Colonies, persons were sent out from England, such as the Bishop of London could persuade to expatriate themselves, at a time when emigration was by no means regarded with favour. Inferior persons, men often who desired to escape from their creditors in England, or who felt that there was no prospect of bettering their fortunes in the mother country, offered their services; and the question too often was not whether they were prepared to enter (with the enthusiasm and zeal of missionaries) on what was in truth an important mission; but simply whether their moral and intellectual character could be sustained. For exceptional work the Bishop was unfortunately obliged to be contented with ordinary qualifications.
When men assume spiritual functions without a deep abiding conviction of the awful responsibilities in which they are involved, and without the inward call, simply with the negative qualification that no breach of morality can be proved against them, they are but ill prepared against the hour of temptation. The house is swept and garnished; but if the Spirit of God be not there, thither the evil spirit, though driven out for a time, will return with [14/15] sevenfold vehemence and power. And so it was in those Colonies, especially in Virginia, where the Church was regarded as the dominant religious community. Pastor and people corrupted one another. The patron would appoint an unworthy incumbent, on condition that he would not demand all his dues, and the incumbent so appointed neglected his duty, seeking by secular speculations to replace what he had simoniacally renounced. When he was declared by the commissary to be amenable to the law, the administrator of the law having been concerned in its breach, refused to give sentence against the offender, and so the whole spiritual fabric of the Church was undermined. At one time, the laity united with the Clergy in petitioning the Home Government to permit the Primate to supply the Colonies with an Episcopate, but in this direction they were no longer inclined to move. Here idleness had done its work in demoralizing the slave-owner; and the landed proprietor would only become a sportsman in time of peace, or take his place in the English Army in the almost incessant warfare going on in the New World between England and France. In the commission of crimes and immoralities men became shameless, and a guilty Clergy were unable to censure them; except a few, who saw the decadence of the Church with grief, but who were treated as enthusiasts, to whom attention would be paid by no man of common sense. When the question of an Episcopate was now raised, the proposal was met by an hypocritical respect for the see of London. The Bishop of London had long been the Bishop of the Colonies, he had managed things [15/16] hitherto without a suffragan, and quieta non movere was the motto of the Sybarites.
I have already mentioned the difficulties, that impeded the ordination of native Americans. We understand these things the better when they are brought vividly before us in a personal history. I know nothing more interesting than the history of one who unfortunately bore the name of Samuel Johnson. I say unfortunately, because with that name we are familiar in our great lexicographer and moralist; and the lesser man is forgotten in the greater, though the lesser has a right to claim a high place among the benefactors of mankind. The fame of the provincial pales before that of a man, whose fame is European.
The Samuel Johnson of whom I am about to speak was, notwithstanding, a man of mark in his day, and must be always spoken of with respect. He became the first President of King's College in New York, was the intimate friend of Berkeley, and was selected by the illustrious Franklin himself to preside over the College which that great man established in Philadelphia. He was born at Guilford in 1696, and was educated at the College of Saybrook. Here, at the age of eighteen, he took his BA. degree. Learning was at this time, according to Dr. Chandler, at the lowest ebb in the Colonies, and the theological course was of both a meagre and a sectarian description. Calvin was the authority next to the Apostles, and in the study of commentaries upon Calvin the students inflamed their passions and wasted their time. Recommended rather by his moral excellence than by his classical attainments, Johnson was appointed [16/17] tutor of the College; and on its removal to Newhaven, where it soon after assumed the title of Yale College, Johnson was entrusted with the superintendence of it, in conjunction with his friend Brown.
It was fortunate for Johnson, that, about this time, a present of books was made to the College by certain friends of learning in the mother country. In ignorance or in negligence, the Trustees permitted the immortal works of our great English divines to be imported into their library, and Johnson became familiar with the names of Hooker, Bacon, Hall, Pearson, Bull, Usher, Jackson, Jeremy Taylor, and Sanderson. Barrow, Patrick, John Scott, Bingham, Whitby, Waterland, and Sherlock were afterwards added to the library. To Bingham, Johnson devoted much time, and was thus well acquainted with the Fathers before he made any one Father his study. Pardon the egotism, if I mention to the younger members of this Institute that he who is addressing you commenced his theological studies by reading Bingham through, which, though it was something like reading a dictionary, has been a wonderful advantage to me in my subsequent studies: therefore I mention the fact, in the hope that the example may be followed.
Johnson first availed himself of the new books to effect a revolution in the general studies of the College. Commencing with Bacon's 'Advancement of Learning,' he led on his pupils to the study of Newton and Locke. To qualify himself for the duties of his office he devoted himself to the study of Mathematics; and at first he made use of the theological authors chiefly [17/18] to prepare himself for his Sunday duties, in a chapel in which he undertook to conduct the religious services.
Educated in an abhorrence of the Church of England which was represented to him as mere Popery in disguise, he was expected to lead the congregation by engaging in extempore prayer. However necessary extempore prayer may be when approaching our Heavenly Father in private, we pour out our hearts before Him, and, in the confidence of filial love, tell Him our wants and wishes; yet extempore prayer in public was not in accordance with the religious feelings of Johnson's humble soul. It had been an exercise in College, and he had seen some of the most pious and best informed of his pupils fail through bashfulness; while others of whose character he had formed a lower estimate, and who sometimes increased their boldness by the use of stimulants, were received with applause. He determined therefore, diligently to prepare himself for the duty of addressing the King of Kings, as he would have done, even to the arrangement of his dress, had he been called upon to appear before an earthly sovereign. He found the duty more difficult than he expected. He made use of "cribs," but he was not satisfied. At length, one of his friends brought down from the newly-stocked shelves a folio volume; and Johnson looked at it. He was astonished. Here were exhortations to devotion, repeated, fervent, impressive, irresistible. Here were confessions of sin, which humbled the penitent to the dust. Here were ascriptions of praise, lifting the worshipper, as on angel's wings, to the very throne of God. Here were [18/19] abundant readings from Scripture, reminding us of the holiness and majesty of God, the frailty and duty of man, the need and efficacy of the Saviour. Why here, he exclaimed, is a composition, so condensed, so chastened in feeling, so fervent in devotion, so sublime in sentiment, so simple in language, that one would suppose the volume to be inspired. His companion whispered to him,--it is the pitch that we are told not to touch, lest we be defiled--it is the Book of Common Prayer.
No one was likely to read it, and Johnson learned the Litany by heart. The Chapel was filled; people came from a distance to hear Johnson, under inspiration, pray. They found themselves unintentionally making a response or joining with him, when he repeated: "Good Lord, deliver us." And then his selections from Scripture, so appropriate, so brief, such an admirable introduction to his sermon.
For a season Johnson kept his secret; for if he had revealed the source of his inspiration he would have been excommunicated in his congregation, and at the same time rusticated in his College.
But if the Prayer-Book was so admirable, Johnson began to think, that the writings of those who used and loved it might possibly be worth studying.
One by one, the works of our great divines came down from the shelf, and might have been found on Johnson's desk. He began to understand the via media--how it was possible to be good Protestants, and as such to protest against "the soul-destroying heresies of the Apostate Church of Rome," and yet be good Catholics--since the title of Protestant is antagonistic not to Catholic but to Romanist.
 Johnson and his friends were now in the position of the good Bereans of old. They tested what they had received by Scripture. They were not satisfied with the results of their examination, and while their minds were in a state of suspense, persons were providentially sent to them who said: Your Puritan religion is good as far as it goes, but it is defective, and through defect is partially erroneous; bear what we have to say. They again had recourse to Holy Writ, they searched the Scripture whether these things were so, and they were satisfied.
Among the things which they read, was the preface to the Ordinal of the English Church, which every English Churchman receives as part of his Prayer Book. It is evident to all men diligently reading the Holy Scripture and ancient writers, that from the Apostles' time, there have been three orders of ministers in Christ's Church--Bishops, Priests, and. Deacons."
The first question related to the order of Bishops. They diligently read the Holy Scripture and the ancient writers, comparing the two, and they found that while the discharge of certain duties devolved on Priests and Deacons, Bishops were distinguished from these two orders, by having Divine authority to govern the Church, and to transmit the commission they had themselves received from God, by ordaining others to supply their place as they died off. The Bishops were members of that body, which for this purpose had been incorporated under Christ Jesus our Lord; a body corporate, having this distinction, that although there is a constant fluctuation of its members, the body itself never dies. As in the [20/21] body natural, the atoms of which we are composed are continually changing, but, from childhood to old age, the body remains the same until it has subserved the purpose for which it was commanded into being; so is it with those incorporated societies which derive their title from the similarity of their progress and existence. Nay, further, as the body natural may, at one time, be defiled or diseased, so may it be with an incorporated society. Naaman the leper was the same person when an infant dangling on his mother's knee, or when a victim of disease; as he was, when being restored to health, he became a reformed character.
The Lord Jesus Himself, commissioned by the Father, commissioned his Apostles, who received his command, that as He sent them, so should they send others. The Apostles admitted into this order of men others, who were the Bishops in the first age of the Church, and to supply their place they ordained the next generation of Bishops, and so on, generation succeeding generation to our own times.
Or, reversing the historical stream--the Bishop of London, who acted in Johnson's time as the Bishop of the Colonies, had been ordained by three Bishops,--the Church in its carefulness in this respect, requiring not less than three Bishops for a consecration--and they by whom he had been consecrated, had themselves each been consecrated by three Bishops of the preceding generation,--as we can prove by registers duly kept,--and so on go back to Augustine, the founder, under God, of the Church of England. Augustine was consecrated by three Bishops of the Gallican Church, [21/22] who were consecrated by Bishops from the East, who had received their commission originally from the Apostles.
This the American students understood to be what is meant when the word Bishop is used. I am not arguing the point, you will observe, I only state the historical fact that such was the conclusion at which these American students arrived--and which caused them to ask a question to which they long shrank from giving an answer, because an answer could not be returned without subjecting them to great inconvenience--the question was, whether they were justified in performing the ministerial office without having first received episcopal ordination. If they should decide, that Episcopacy related not only to the bene esse, but to the esse of the Church, they would be deprived of their present subsistence and of the pleasant society in which they took a lead; and to procure episcopal ordination, they would have to make that voyage to England so much dreaded by all except an adventurous few. They carefully examined, therefore, and gave full effect to, the arguments of the anti-episcopal writers.
They only became, however, more and more perplexed. It was reported, that the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts had established a mission at Stratford; and with Mr. Tregatt, the missionary, they opened a communication. When it was noised abroad, that Johnson, in conjunction with the leading men of Yale College, were in correspondence with a minister of the Church of England, the whole province became suspicious, disturbed, and alarmed. What were the Trustees about? How [22/23] scandalously were they neglecting their duty to permit the Professors to confer with an English clergyman.
Nevertheless, in spite of all obloquy, the young men pursued their enquiries. They were not to be intimidated. At the same time, the public were not aware of the exact subject of their investigation. The dreadful report was circulated, that they were about to renounce Calvinism and to apostatise to Arminianism, of which the Church of England was regarded as the stronghold. The Commencement, as it was called,--the great day of the College,--was in September, and people, expecting something extraordinary to occur, flocked into New Haven. All was excitement; the Trustees assembled, they were all personal friends of the gentlemen who were now under suspicion of being inclined to heresy--for so they regarded the Church of England. The excited visitors, however, were disappointed, for the Commencement passed off without disturbance of any kind. The Trustees only asked Mr. Johnson and the tutors to meet them next day in the library, when they expressed their conviction that the suspected persons would be able immediately to clear themselves. Arminianism, Church of Englandism,--they were grievous offences of which they were suspected. The Trustees met in the College library; soon after Cutler, Hart, Eliot, Whitlesey, Witmore, Johnson, and Brown made their appearance. It was proposed that the investigation should assume a formal character. It was told the Trustees, that the question was whether, without receiving Holy Orders from a Bishop, they had authority to administer in sacred things.
 The accused were requested, from the youngest to the eldest, to declare their opinion upon the matter at issue. Each in turn obeyed. All agreed, that there were grave doubts as to the validity of Presbyterian ordinations, but Cutler, Johnson, Brown and Witmore went further, Johnson made a statement to this effect: That from the facts in Scripture, compared with those of the primitive Church, it appeared plain to them, that the episcopal government was universally established by the Apostles wherever they propagated Christianity; that through the first order of the ministry, called Bishops, the power of the Priesthood was to be conveyed from the great head of the Church; and although Presbyters preached and administered the sacraments, yet that no act of ordination and government, for several ages, was ever allowed to be lawful without a Bishop at the head of the Presbytery. All this appeared as evident, from the universal testimony of the Church as the true canon of Scripture itself. It was therefore impossible for them, after this enquiry, not to suspect not only the regularity, but even the lawfulness and validity of their own ordination."
The Trustees were struck with astonishment, and expressed the deepest emotion and sorrow. They desired that the declaration might be given to them in writing, and this was accordingly done. They implored them to reconsider their position, and gave them till the following October, when the general assembly would meet, for their final answer.
In the interval, Governor Saltonstall, out of personal regard to Johnson and his friends, and from a desire to avert the threatened rupture, proposed a [24/25] meeting between them and the Trustees, at which he undertook to preside. Here there was to be a further discussion on the points which had been mooted. The conference was held, but the result was only to bring out a more formal declaration by Johnson, Brown, Cutler, and Witmore of their belief that the Church of England is a true branch of the Catholic Church, and of their consequent duty of being admitted into her communion. As to Episcopacy, they made the usual statement, which was briefly stated thus: "As the Lord Jesus Christ was sent by the Father, so were the Apostles sent by Him." "As my Father hath sent me," He saith soon after his resurrection, "even so send I you." Now, how had the Father sent him? He had sent him to act as His Supreme Minister on earth, as such to appoint under him subordinate ministers, and to do what he then did when his work on earth was done,--to hand on his commission to others. The Apostles in like manner, were sent by Christ to act as his chief ministers in the Church, to appoint subordinate ministers under them, and then, as he had done, to hand on their commission to others. And on this commission, after our Lord had ascended up on high, the Apostles proceeded to act. They formed their converts into Churches; these Churches consisted of baptized believers, to officiate among whom subordinate ministers, priests, and deacons were ordained, while the Apostle, who formed any particular Church, exercised over it episcopal superintendence, holding an occasional visitation, by sending for the clergy to meet him (as St. Paul summoned to Miletus the clergy of [25/26] Ephesus), or else transmitting to them those pastoral addresses which, under the name of Epistles, form so important a portion of Holy Scripture. At length, however, it became necessary for the Apostles to proceed yet further, and to do as their Lord had empowered them to do, to hand on their commission to others, that at their own death the governors of the Church might not be extinct. Of this we have an instance in Titus, who was placed in Crete by St. Paul to act as Chief Pastor or Bishop; and another in Timothy, who was, in like manner, set over the Church of Ephesus. And when Timothy was thus appointed to the office of Chief Pastor, he was associated with St. Paul, who, in writing to the Philippians, commences his salutation thus: "Paul and Timotheus to the servants of Jesus Christ who are at Philippi with the Bishops and Deacons." Now we have here the three orders of the ministry clearly alluded to. The title of Bishop is doubtless given to the second order; but it is not for words but for things that we are to contend. Titles may be changed while offices remain--so senators exist, though they are not now of necessity old men; and most absurd would it be to contend that when we speak of the Emperor Constantine, we can mean that Constantine held no other office than that held under the Roman Republic, because we find Cicero also saluted as Emperor. So stood the matter in the first age of the Gospel, when the chief pastors of the Church were generally designated Apostles or Angels, i. e., messengers sent by God himself. In the next century, the office remaining, the designation of those who held it was changed; the title of [26/27] Apostle was confined to the original members of the College, including St. Paul; and the chief pastors who succeeded them were thenceforth called Bishops, the subordinate ministers being styled Priests and Deacons. For when the name of Bishop was given to those who had that oversight of Presbyters, which Presbyters possessed over their own flocks, it would have been manifestly inconvenient, and calculated to engender confusion, to continue the episcopal name to the second order. And thus we see, as Christ was sent by the Father, so he sent the Apostles; as the Apostles were sent by Christ, so did they send the first race of Bishops; as the first race of Bishops was sent by the Apostles, so they sent the second race of Bishops, the second the third, and so down to our present Bishops, who thus trace their spiritual descent from St. Peter and St. Paul, and prove their divine authority to govern the Churches over which they are canonically appointed to preside.
The three orders of the ministry in the New Testament. stand thus:--1st order, Apostle; 2nd order, Bishop, Presbyter or Elder; 3rd order, Deacon. Afterwards, the office remaining the same, there was a change in the title, and the ministers of Christ were designated thus:--1st order, Bishop, formerly Apostle; 2nd order, Presbyter or Elder; 3rd order, Deacon.
Thus argued Mr. Johnson and his friends; and the argument was scarcely conducted on equal terms; for Mr. Johnson and his friends had deeply, seriously, and with earnest prayer, examined the subject, whereas to the Trustees the subject was in a great measure new, and as they had not much [27/28] considered or studied the points under debate, they were easily answered; while from that circumstance, some of them were provoked to make certain irritating remarks. When the governor perceived this, he closed the conference, having acted the part of mediator, as all admitted, with candour and politeness. Indeed, making allowance for the irritating nature of the subjects under discussion, it is due to both sides to say, that it has seldom happened that a better spirit was displayed at a conference, both parties remaining firm to their convictions, while lamenting a circumstance which caused a separation between friends.
Mr. Johnson and his friends made sacrifice of their temporal interests; and with scanty means, went forward to a people among whom they had no friends, of whom from their childhood they had heard nothing but abuse. They were told, that the Bishops were proud and haughty, and that the dignitaries of the Church would treat with contempt a set of unknown provincials. Indeed, among the people of England in general, we know that the Americans were too generally contemned and turned into ridicule. This indeed was one of the remote causes which led to the Revolution. The colonists had bravely fought the English battles against the French; but even in the army they were insulted by being excluded too often from the highest promotions. But it was not so in the Church. There, for years, the leading personages had been exclusively against the Government in favour of the Colonists; and now the first object of the newly organized Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts was to render them assistance. The three friends were undaunted, Mr. [28/29] Cutler not only gave up emoluments, but a high position among his own people, for he had been President of the College, and was now obliged, with a heavy heart, to resign his office. Mr. Brown was a Tutor of the College, and he too was prepared to give up his all, while Mr. Johnson not only made a sacrifice of income, but of his affections also, for he was a tender-hearted man, and had become attached to his congregation. When he took leave of them, he told them affectionately, that if they could see reason to conform to the Church of England, he would never leave them, but, after obtaining such ordination as he thought to be necessary, that he would return to them again in the character of their minister. But with such an offer, notwithstanding their esteem for him, they were unable to comply. He expostulated with them, and urged them seriously to consider the matter. Among other things he reminded them that they had hitherto professed to admire his preaching and especially his prayers. Indeed his prayers were so much admired by people in general, that it was common for persons belonging to the neighbouring districts to come to West Haven on purpose to hear them. Johnson now informed them, that his instruction and prayers had all along been taken from the Church of England, and that they ought, of course, to be esteemed as much, after this circumstance was known, as they had been before. This declaration greatly surprised his hearers, but only four or five would promise to receive him in the orders of the Church.
After a few days, he took a sad farewell, and in company with Cutler and Brown proceeded on his [29/30] journey to Boston. At Rhode Island and at Boston, there were many members of the Church; and by them Johnson and his friends were' received with affection and respect. They were erecting a new church at Boston, of which they offered the Rectory to Cutler. They engaged also a passage for the three associates in a ship which was just ready to sail; and at their own expense, they furnished them with everything that might be needful for the voyage. After spending about a week in Boston, they embarked on the 4th of November, and after a rough and stormy passage they landed at Ramsgate on the 15th of December. They went the same day, to Canterbury, where they were obliged to wait three days for the stage-coach; and an opportunity was thus afforded them of seeing the various points of interest with which that church and city abound.
The day after their arrival, they attended divine service in the Cathedral Church. Nothing could exceed their surprise and delight on the occasion. The magnificence of the building, the solemnity of the service, and the music, all conspired to fill them with admiration. They had now, in very deed, worshipped God in the beauty of holiness. They had no introductory letters to persons of distinction in Canterbury; but, doubtful of their reception, they repaired to the Deanery. They sent in word by the servant, that three gentlemen from America, who had come over for holy orders, were desirous of paying their respects to the Dean. The Dean was no other than the great and good Dean Stanhope. He was presiding at the audit dinner, given to the prebendaries and other members [30/31] of the Cathedral Body. But instead of sending a message through a servant, down came the Dean himself--"Come in, gentlemen, come in," he said, while shaking them heartily by the hand.; come in, you are heartily welcome. Come in, and hear your own Declaration for the Church, which we had just finished reading when you were announced. Come in, and God bless you." There was much more of form and state kept up in those days than in these, but all ceremony was forgotten, and as the three Americans entered the room, every one rushed forward. to grasp their hands.
It seems that the declaration with their names attached to it had got into the London papers, and the Dean, with the prebendaries who were dining with him, were, at that instant, reading it. All the party greeted them cordially, and treated them with the respect due to confessors.
They begged them to repeat their whole story. This was circumstantially told. The evening was spent agreeably on both sides, and at family prayer the Dean commended them to the Divine mercy. Next day the Dean, who had to set out for London, took an affectionate leave of them for the present, giving them his advice and his address in London. Afterwards he did them as many kind offices as he had opportunity. While they continued in Canterbury, they were happy in the notice and friendship of the sub-dean, Mr. Gostlin, and the other prebendaries, especially Dr. Grandorge, the chaplain to the Earl of Thanet. Some time afterwards this kind man, meeting them in London, took them to his lodgings, and counted out to each of them ten guineas, which was [31/32] a present from the Earl, his patron, for the purchase of books. He afterwards procured from his lordship forty pounds more for Mr. Cutler's church.
On their arrival in London they were received with all possible kindness by the Bishop of London, and by the Society for the Propagation of' the Gospel. It was readily agreed, that Mr. Cutler should be sent to the new church in Boston, Mr. Brown to Bristol, in New England,--a mission that was vacant,--Mr. Johnson to Stratford, and that Mr. Pigot should be fixed at Providence. The two Archbishops (Dr. Wake and Sir William Dawes), the latter especially, received them with paternal affection. Many gentlemen were eager to form their acquaintance, particularly Dr. King, Master of the Charterhouse; Dr. Astry, the Treasurer of St. Paul's; Dr. Berriman, Chaplain to the Bishop of London, and the Chaplain's brother, Mr. John Berriman, a clergyman highly esteemed as a parish priest, with all of whom Mr. Johnson afterwards maintained a friendly correspondence; but more especially with Dr. Astry and Mr. Berriman. What is said of these persons is stated purposely, because it is the fashion of the present day to represent the Church as asleep during the last century, and that no man cared for it. Surely those who depreciate the divines of the last century only prove their own ignorance. The scholar may feel justly indignant, when the modern pigmies who are dependent upon mere party journals of the age for their theological information, and who confound post-Reformation Romanism with pre-Reformation Catholicism, decry and depreciate the giants of a former generation--such as Beveridge, and Bull, and Sharpe; the saintly Wilson; [32/33] the eloquent Sherlock; Butler, with his profundity of thought; Waterland, with his patristic erudition; Louth, who has instructed us in the niceties of Hebrew poetry; Berkeley, with every virtue under heaven; Secker, the instructor of our youth; Horsley, the malleus hareticorum; Horne, breathing the spirit of the sweet singer of Israel; and others, who derived their learning, not from modern abstracts, but by a deep study of the Fathers. It is not, indeed, much to ask of those who admit their ignorance of the writings of those theological giants of a former age, that they will at least abstain from dogmatising upon subjects upon which they are avowedly ignorant.
The ordination of our friends was delayed by the illness of Mr. Cutler. He was attacked by the smallpox, and had it severely, though, by God's goodness, he recovered. This caused their ordination to be deferred till the latter end of March. Immediately after their ordination as priests, they received an invitation from the academical authorities at Oxford to visit that University. Just as they were starting, the small-pox attacked Mr. Brown, to whom the disease proved fatal. He expired on Easter Eve, to the great loss of the Church, and the inexpressible grief of his two friends, especially of Mr. Johnson. He was universally allowed by all competent judges, to be one of the most promising young men that his country ever produced.
In the beginning of May, however, Mr. Cutler and Mr. Johnson went to Oxford. On their arrival, they found that their friend, Dr. Astry, had obtained a degree for each of them--that of Doctor in Divinity for Mr. Cutler, and that of Master of Arts for Mr. Johnson. [33/34] The diplomas were presented to them by Dr. Skippen, the Vice-Chancellor, with every mark of sympathy and respect. The kindness and hearty goodwill with which they were treated by the heads and fellows of the houses in general, exceeded their highest expectations. These gentlemen all seemed to study what could be done to increase the happiness of their American visitors. On this occasion, Dr. Delaune, President of St. John's College, and Dr. Burton, Fellow of Corpus Christi, with whom Mr. Johnson afterwards held a correspondence, particularly distinguished themselves by their acts of friendship. After spending a fortnight at Oxford, Dr. Cutler and Mr. Johnson returned to London, and in the beginning of June they made a visit to the University of Cambridge. Here by Dr. Snape, the Vice-Chancellor, they were admitted to similar degrees, and were received with similar kindness and respect as at Oxford. Mr. Wetmore, who had lately arrived in England, accompanied them at this time. After spending a fortnight at Cambridge, they came back to London. The rest of the time before their embarkation for America was employed in intercourse with their friends; in seeing the curiosities in and about London, and in making short excursions to Windsor, Hampton Court, Greenwich, &c. &c.
They received their letters of license from the Bishop of London, with whom they had frequent conversations on the state of the Church in the Colonies. They urged the necessity, as they had repeatedly done with other friends in London and at both the Universities, of sending Bishops to America; representing it as, in their humble opinion, a dishonour to [34/35] the Christian and Episcopal nation of England, that America, which had been planted for one hundred years, and contained a large number of Episcopal congregations, should still be without some of the most important offices of the Church, for want of an Episcopate.
The biography of Johnson is closely connected with the history of his Church, and the force of his genius changed the whole aspect of ecclesiastical affairs in America.
Until his time, the Church in Connecticut had scarcely an existence, while the stronghold of the Church was in Virginia and Maryland. We have seen how, in the last-named Colonies, the Church degenerated for lack of discipline. It was endowed, but the endowments were misapplied. It called itself Episcopal, but it never saw a Bishop; and in the absence of a Bishop some of the means of grace were for a season suspended. With a few exceptions, regarded as splendid because of the surrounding gloom, the clergy were secularised. But in Connecticut, the Church was without endowment. If the people in England regarded it as established, not so was it regarded in the Colony itself; the Society for Propagating the Gospel therefore made it the seat of its operations, and nothing could exceed the zeal, discretion, and piety exhibited by its missionaries, over whom a wholesome influence was exercised by Samuel Johnson. He lived to be an aged man, and was regarded as a patriarch, being distinguished for his hospitality, for his charity to the poor, and for providing the means of educating themselves for holy orders to the industrious and pious. He continued [35/36] to the last, to correspond with the English Bishops on the importance of establishing an Episcopate in America; and the zeal with which the Bishops, especially the Bishops of London, laboured in the cause, is above all praise.
It was urged against the appointment of Bishops in America that a fear was entertained, lest such Bishops should exercise a coercive power, adverse to the people and their governors; and that their maintenance would be a burden upon the people, and inconsistent with the form of government which in New England was in the hands of the Independents. In reply it was declared, that no coercive power was desired over the laity in any case, nor any share of temporal government; that all the authority sought for was only such, as was necessary for the control of the Clergy, and for the full enjoyment of all the ordinances of the Church by those of the laity who were her members; that the Colonies were not to be charged with the maintenance of a Bishop, and that there was no intention of settling them in provinces where government was in the hands of Nonconformists; but only that they should have the power of superintending all congregations of their own communion within such provinces.
It was in vain; Sir Robert Walpole and the Duke of Newcastle cared for none of these things; and soon after the accession of George III., the fact that there was war between the Mother country (misruled by godless men) and the Colonies, prevented those steps from being taken, which the piety of George III. might, under more favourable circumstances, have encouraged.
 When the War of Independence commenced, the want of an Episcopate was still more severely felt. Had there been Bishops, they would have held a Synod, and have decided upon the course to be pursued, whereas, now each clergyman acted as it seemed good in his own eyes; and some were at a loss to know how far it was consistent with their loyalty to pray for their country, and others how far it was consistent with their patriotism to pray for the King.
They acted for the most part according to their own political views, or to the wishes of their several con·gregations. In some places, the Church was rendered unpopular by the continuance of the State Prayers; in others, by omitting the State Prayers, the clergy drove their congregations away. In the absence of a Bishop, they had no fixed rule of action. Where the church was not endowed, the clergy and the parishioners very generally omitted these prayers, and the illustrious George Washington himself worshipped in the church of which Dr. White--who became the second Bishop of the United States--did at this time officiate as rector. But the missionaries of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, except, as in the case of Dr. White, when they were natives of America, generally adopted an opposite course. Having nothing to bind them as patriots to America, they were British subjects holding office, temporarily, in the Colonies, and they could not be expected to pray for the success of those whom England was treating in the light of rebels. But this unsatisfactory state of things terminated when, on the 30th of November 1783, the [37/38] Independence of the Colonies, now known as the United States, was recognised by Great Britain. The war had ceased, and the greatest patriot and hero the world ever saw, George Washington, resigned the command of the army he had created and led to victory, and he retired to private life a consistent Republican and Episcopalian.
Henceforth, those who refused to conform to the laws of the Republic, whether born in America or not, were regarded as foreigners, and either conformed to the Republican Institutions, or quitted the country. The Republican Churchmen, meantime, prepared to organise their Church, and to render it conformable to the civil institutions now established. The shackles by which the Church had been crippled, when it was regarded as an Establishment, were happily and for ever cast off; but still it was doubtful, whether the new American Government would really be as liberal as it declared itself to be; whether, while toleration was extended to every sect, the Anglo-Catholic Church should form a solitary exception to the rule. The conduct of Mr. Adams, the representative of the American Government at the Court of St. James's, soon showed, however, that although the Republic would not permit any Church or sect to be established, she meant what she professed, in asserting equal rights for all. Mr. Adams was prepared to render assistance to Churchmen, as well as to other classes of his countrymen.
It was a remarkable fact, that in Virginia, where the Church had peculiar advantages, there was much ignorance of the distinctive principles of the Church; [38/39] while in Connecticut Church principles were, through the preaching of the missionaries, very generally understood. Here it was that the first steps were taken for the formation of a Church, and for constructing it in consistency with a republican constitution. In Connecticut, under Dr. Seabury, there was more of Church principle and less of worldly wisdom than at Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, under the guidance of Dr. White, there was more of constitutional knowledge and patriotic feeling; but of ecclesiastical history and principle little was known. Both parties, through the Christian temper displayed by their two excellent leaders, were brought to act cordially together; and, after a few explanations and concessions on either side, each was benefited by the prevailing excellence of the other. Seabury yielded when principle was not concerned; and White was gradually brought to understand and fearlessly to maintain those Catholic principles which were necessary at that time, to guide a provincial Church, placed in an anomalous position. Dr. Seabury fairly represented a large class in the Church. During the war, he had been faithful to King George; and though he acknowledged the injustice of the Home Government, he entertained a hope that moderate counsels might at last prevail in England, so that peace might be established without the severance of the Colonies from the Mother country. The violence, the ignorance, and the injustice of the Home Government gradually alienated the hearts of this class of persons, and when the Republic was finally established, they proclaimed their readiness to be as loyal to that Republic as, [39/40] up to that time, they had been to the Monarchy. Seabury had been a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and had habituated his mind to the contemplation of the Church as entirely distinct from the State. He was seconded by a Clergy, who were placed under similar circumstances, and who knew how, as Churchmen, they ought to act. Although their principle was right, they acted, however, with too much precipitation; and, in their precipitation, they had overlooked the duty of consulting the Clergy in the other States. These States had, as colonies, and until the war, acted independently the one of the other; but henceforth they were, without sacrifice of their independent legislation, to act in concert. By the junction of many republics, they were to form one mighty empire. Dr. White saw at once, that this was precisely the position to be taken by the Church. The Churches in the several States, formed into dioceses, were to legislate for themselves, but in subordination to the one great American Church, to be represented in a general Convocation. By their not acting on this new principle (though little blame could attach to them), the Clergy of Connecticut gave offence; and unless two men of such public spirit, so elevated above selfish considerations, of such conciliatory tempers, and of such moderate views, had been at the head of affairs, there would have been a schism between the North and the South.
The principle of the Clergy of Connecticut was, nevertheless, definite, and such as would at once commend itself to the minds of those who thought more of Church principles than of political [40/41] expediency. They said, Without a Bishop there is no Church; the Bishop of London was our Bishop; but such he no longer is. Our first step, therefore, is to obtain a Bishop. Then, when we have a Bishop, we will, under his guidance, form our constitution.
Consequently, they selected Dr. Seabury, and sent him to England to seek consecration at the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his suffragans. Dr. Seabury obeyed the call. He set sail, under the conviction that the English Bishops would receive him gladly. Nothing, indeed, could be more kind, considerate, and judicious than the conduct of the English Prelates throughout these transactions. It soon, however, became apparent, that the English Prelates, by the precipitate and inconsiderate measures of the Connecticut Clergy, were placed in a situation in which it was difficult to act, and unpleasant at the same time, to refrain from acting. From all this they might have been saved, and afterwards, before the final settlement, they were saved, by a previous correspondence. But they uttered no complaint.
Here there appeared before them a man professing to be a citizen of America, and asking for consecration. By whom was he sent? The Clergy of Connecticut gave testimonials; but they were not an organised body, and so could not elect a Bishop. The reply of the English Bishops might have been: We desire to establish Episcopacy in America; when we are prepared to act, we will look out for a fit person, and as Gregory sent Augustine to, establish the Church of England, so we will commission a Bishop to lay the foundation of the Church in North [41/42] America. Then, again, the following might have been urged as a theoretical difficulty, viz., that it is not in accordance with the principles of the Church for a presbyter to ask for consecration. The Americans should petition us to send them a Bishop, it is not for them to dictate to the Archbishop. But the theoretical difficulty the English prelates left unnoticed. There was, however, a more serious practical difficulty. Bad as had been the conduct of the King and his Government before the recognition of American Independence, nothing could have been better than the frank and generous manner in which both King and people met the Americans, when the Republic was at length established. The only object then seemed to be to avoid any future collision between the two Governments, and to make ample concession to American prejudices, if such were found to exist. It was as when two friends, having quarrelled, are at length reconciled; when there is a delicate endeavour to take every opportunity for showing, that the past is forgotten as well as forgiven.
What added to these perplexities was the fact that the See of Canterbury was at this time vacant; and the English Church, therefore, was represented by the Archbishop of York, who was anxious not to do anything that it might be unpleasant to the future incumbent of the See of Canterbury to confirm.
Under this complication of circumstances the question first to be asked was, How would the consecration of a Bishop be regarded by the new American Government? How were the Bishops to know officially how the act of the Clergy of [42/43] Connecticut, one State out of thirteen, would be regarded by the Imperial Government; and then, on examination, the lawyers seemed to think, that the Primate would incur the penalties of a praemunire if, except under the protection of an Act of Parliament, he consecrated any one who would not take the oath of allegiance to King George--this was originally designed as a precaution against the Jacobites, but it would tell equally against the Republicans. There was no doubt that an Act of Parliament might be obtained to remove this impediment; but it would take both consideration and time. It was, moreover, quite certain, that the application would not be supported by the Government, until it was ascertained that the Republic would consent; and Mr. Adams had not yet received his instructions on the subject. These things ought to have been taken into consideration in Connecticut.
The great and good Bishop Berkeley had devoted his time, and mind, and money to the American Church, and his son had inherited his father's zeal for the cause of the Gospel in America; while at the same time he had kept up his connection with the poor persecuted Anglo-Catholic Church in Scotland. When, therefore, Dr. Seabury was anxious to return to America, and it was found, that a considerable delay must take place before it would be possible to effect his consecration in England, Dr. Berkeley suggested an application to the Scotch Bishops. He acted with prudence and due consideration of others. He mentioned his suggestion to Dr. Moore, when that prelate was translated to the Metropolitan See of Canterbury. The Church in [43/44] Scotland was, if not at this time absolutely persecuted, yet barely tolerated, and it would not have been decent to ask the Archbishop positively to sanction the proceeding. Dr. Berkeley, therefore, merely stated, that if the Primate were opposed to the measure, it should not go on; but if he, Dr. Berkeley, did not hear to the contrary from his Grace by a given time, he should assume, that if the Scotch Bishops were to accede to the 'proposal, and to consecrate Dr. Seabury, the act would not be considered as done in a spirit hostile to the English Church. The Archbishop gave his silent consent. Until the Revolution in 1688, the Episcopal Church had been the Established Church of Scotland. But the dissenters from it were unfortunately numerous and influential, though it is said that, up to that period, the majority of the people were friendly to the Church. But the Bishops of the Church of Scotland refused to acknowledge the right of William III. to the throne of his father-in-law, and the new King was therefore advised to deprive the Scottish Churchmen of their sanctuaries and their property and to adopt the Presbyterian communion as the State religion. The Presbyterians had always been among the most bitter enemies of the Church, condemning, indeed, the Church universal by asserting that Episcopacy was anti-Christian; and when in power, their conduct did not belie their principles. Not content with depriving Churchmen of their churches, and their estates, and all their legal rights, they obtained an Act in 1695, which prohibited the clergy of the rightful Church of Scotland from administering the Sacrament of Baptism, or from solemnising the [44/45] rite of marriage, on pain of banishment. This was hard measure; but harder yet remained, for in 1707, all the chapels of the Episcopalians were closed by order of the Government, and their clergy imprisoned. Still they continued to worship God after the manner of their fathers, and gradually new chapels were re-opened; but in 1746, the Presbyterian magistrates of Scotland headed the soldiers and the mob, by whom these chapels were burned to the ground, and an Act of Parliament was passed which ordered the imprisonment of any Scottish clergyman who should commit the sin of performing Divine Service according to the English Prayer-Book in the presence of more than five persons; and any layman who should attend such service was incapacitated to sit in Parliament, or to undertake any public office. The very religion which was established by law in England was treated as treasonable in Scotland. The persecution lasted forty years, and even then it was with great difficulty that an Act for the toleration of our religion in Scotland could be obtained. But God has laughed to scorn the devices of men. Persecution could not annihilate the old Church of Scotland. Driven sometimes to dens and caves, and often to upper rooms, the Bishops continued to consecrate fresh Fathers for the Church; discipline was canonically exercised, the Sacraments were duly administered, the services of the sanctuary were performed in an orderly and decent manner, five persons only being in the room with the officiating minister--but folding doors being opened on either side to permit large assemblies both to hear and to see. Erastians and worldlings fell [45/46] away, but the Church became purified by persecution, so that in the beautiful language of Bishop Horne, "If the great Apostle of the Gentiles were upon earth, and it were put to his choice with what denomination of Christians he would communicate, the preference would probably be given to the Episcopalians of Scotland, as most like the people he had been used to." So true are the words of St. Hilary, "Hoe habet proprium Ecclesia, dum persecutionem patitur, floret, dum opprimitur, proficit: dum laeditur, vincit: dum arguitur intelligit: tunc stat quum superare videtur." Such was the Church to which Dr. Seabury applied for assistance in his difficulties. And in an upper room, which was at that time the chapel in which the Right Reverend Dr. Skinner, Bishop of Aberdeen, ventured to officiate, Dr. Seabury was consecrated Bishop of Connecticut. In alluding to his consecration, in his primary charge on his return to America, he observes---"As under God the Bishops of the remainder of the old Episcopal Church of Scotland, which at the Revolution fell a sacrifice to the jealous apprehensions of William III., were the sole instruments in accomplishing this happy work; to them our utmost gratitude is due. And I hope the sense of the benefit we have through their hands received, will ever remain fresh in the minds of all the members of our communion to the latest posterity. Under the greatest persecutions God has preserved them, and I trust will preserve them, that there may yet be some to whom destitute Churches may apply in their spiritual wants, some faithful shepherds of Christ's flock, who are willing to give freely what [46/47] they have freely received from their Lord and Master." The pious prayer has been heard; and perhaps at the present time the Church of America is more proud of her descent from the persecuted Church of Scotland than from the same Church established and endowed in England. To that connection the American Church, in all probability, owes certain alterations in the Communion Service, which every unprejudiced Churchman must admit to be improvements. At the same time, we must honour the sentiment, which induced the majority of the Episcopalians of America still to look for the succession of their Bishops to the Mother Church of England.
In 1825, I visited the Church in Scotland, having received the high honour of being appointed to preach at the consecration of Bishop Luscombe. The Church was, at that time, in humble circumstances so far as worldly wealth was concerned. But it was represented by men of eminence, as will be seen at once when I mention Bishop Gleig, the Primus, Bishop Jolly, Bishop Sandford, and Bishop Skinner, Mr. Alison, Dr. Walker, Dr. Russell, and Mr. Terrott; all have passed, we trust, to the world of glory, except Mr. Terrott, who afterwards became, and still is, Bishop of Edinburgh. At that time, they felt a pride in contrasting the simplicity and the poverty, together with the primitive manners, of the Scotch disestablished Episcopacy with the external circumstances of the Prelates in England, who, belonging to an established Church, have their seat among princes, and, in right of their baronies, legislate for the State as well as for the Church in Parliament.
 While these things were in progress in Scotland, Conventions were held in New York and Philadelphia, which were making easy the way before the English Prelates. Their plan was, to form a constitution for one Church in the United States, of which the Churches in the several States were to be the dioceses; and then to submit their scheme to the judgment of the Primate of all England. If, on consulting his suffragans, he approved, it was suggested, that, at a second convention, three persons should be selected, whom the Archbishop and his suffragans should be requested to consecrate. This was done at the suggestion of Dr. White, who was the leader, and through whom a correspondence was carried on with the authorities in England. In this correspondence, we find, on the part of the English Prelates, a desire to meet the wishes of the Americans, while, at the same time, they acted with much prudence and forethought in firmly, though kindly, insisting on some points, which has obtained and deserves the gratitude of good Churchmen at the present hour.
In the years 1784 and 1785, Conventions of all the Clergy, except those of Connecticut, were held at New York and Philadelphia. The sanction to their proceedings, of the Civil Government of the United States was obtained to satisfy the English Ministry, that no offence would be taken, if the Archbishop of Canterbury yielded to the request of the Episcopalians, for that Episcopal succession which was necessary, according to their principles, for the constitution of a church. Although their Church was still regarded with suspicion, because it was supposed, that the members of it were secretly attached to the Mother [48/49] Country, and that they chiefly valued the Anglo-Catholic Church as an English institution--the labours of the convention were lightened by their being able to refer to Bishop Seabury, who, on his return to Connecticut, was well received by all classes of the community,--a circumstance to be attributed in part to the character of the man, but which had its influence upon public opinion. The necessary alterations in the Prayer-Book received the sanction of the Primate, and he concluded his last despatch by explaining to the Americans the grounds of that caution with which his brethren had thought it necessary to act: while he assured them at the same time of the brotherly affection of the English Bishops, and of their desire to offer every facility to the accomplishment of that end for the furtherance of which the Convention had assembled.
The difficulty was now to select the three persons upon whom the Archbishop of Canterbury and his suffragans might lay their hands. Of the fitness of Dr. White there could be no doubt. Dr. Provoost was chosen, not because of his merits as an ecclesiastic, but on account of the extreme republican opinions he held; for the assertion of which, during the war, he had been conspicuous. His election tells its own tale. The new Republicans were jealous of the Church as an institution which could not, as they thought, be brought to harmonise with the newly constituted. Republic and an answer was given by the selection for one of the Bishops, of a person who had, a few years before, ceased to officiate because he refused to pray for King George.
It may have been an act of sound policy, to elect [49/50] such a person at this particular juncture, but it retarded the progress of the Church for many years, for Bishop Provoost was deficient in that energy of character which the times particularly required.
The third person chosen was the Rev. Daniel Griffith, who was to preside over the Virginian Church: But when they were about to sail, it was found that he was too poor to pay the expenses of the voyage, and the Virginian Church had not the generosity to vote the supply which he thought sufficient. He was never consecrated; but soon after Dr. Madison was elected to supply his place, and, going to England, became the fourth American Prelate.
At length, all preliminaries being settled, Dr. William White and Dr. Samuel Provoost set sail for England on the 2nd of November 1786, to be consecrated--the former as Bishop of Pennsylvania, the second as Bishop of New York.
They felt the difficulty of their position; for the relations between the new Republic and the Mother Country, were not then as now, understood and clearly defined. On arriving in London, they waited on the American Minister, Mr. Adams. He, too, was a little doubtful how to act. By recognising the Bishops, he might give offence to the Government he represented, and from which he had not received instructions on the subject; but like an honest, large-hearted, and good man, he pursued the manly course, which was afterwards fully approved by his Government; and he went immediately with the two Doctors, to Lambeth, and there the Minister of the United States presented the Bishops elect to the Primate of [50/51] all England, declaring them to be loyal to the Republic and men of high character in their own country.
Nothing could exceed the kindness and brotherly affection with which they were welcomed by the Primate and those of the Bishops who were then in London. The Archbishop went with the Bishops elect -to Court, and with the King's permission, he presented them to his Majesty. Dr. White was prepared with an address, and thanked the King for granting his license to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to convey the Episcopal succession to the Church in America. The King graciously replied:--"His Grace has given me such an account of the gentlemen who have come over that I am glad of the present opportunity of serving the interests of religion." He addressed Dr. Provoost, by remarking that it was reported that there were many members of the Church in New York; and on receiving a reply in the affirmative, he passed on.
Dr. White was fearful lest their attendance at the Levee might give offence to his countrymen, and he explained, that they did not go to Court to ask a favour of the King; but the King having, before their arrival, granted his license to the Archbishop to consecrate foreigners, they regarded it as an act of courtesy to express their thanks.
Everything was done to facilitate their arrangements, and to enable them to return to America without loss of time.
The great day at length arrived. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Moore; the Archbishop of York, Dr. Markham; the Bishop of Bath and [51/52] Wells, Dr. Moss; the Bishop of Peterborough, Dr. Hinchcliffe, were assembled in the chapel attached to Lambeth Palace. Unfortunately, the clergyman appointed by the Archbishop to preach, and who had prepared a suitable sermon, a sketch of which had been given by his Grace, was prevented, at the last moment, from attending by the occasion of some domestic calamity. The Archbishop was, therefore, obliged to call upon his chaplain, Dr. Drake, to preach. He had not time to enter into the circumstances of the great occasion which brought them together; but he delivered a sermon, which could not fail to be useful, on the authority of the Church to ordain rites and ceremonies. With his usual simplicity and meekness, Dr. White, in describing his consecration, says:--"I hope I have felt the weight of the occasion. May God bless the meditations and recollections by which I endeavoured to prepare for it, and give them their due effect upon my temper and conduct, in the new character in which I am about to appear."
The remainder of the day was passed at Lambeth in the society of the Archbishop and the suffragans who assisted on the occasion. Every mark of respect was evinced towards the Republican Prelates. The Archbishop of York had presented them, the Archbishop of Canterbury explained to them that he had been careful to do everything that was necessary on the occasion, and not to do more, or to make a great sensation, which, in the relative position of the two Governments, would have been inexpedient. Bishop White availed himself of the opportunity, to express his hope and confident expectation that the American [52/53] Church would be ever sensible of the kindness evinced towards her by the Church of England. He stated his conviction that the American Bishops, besides the usual incentives to duty, would have this in addition, that the Church of England should never have cause to repent her act that day performed. His Grace replied that he fully believed that no such cause would exist; that to him the prospect of future intercourse was agreeable, and that he should always regard the American Church with affection. In taking leave of his guests, he requested them to write to him on their reaching home.
They sailed, and the newly consecrated Bishops arrived at New York on Easter-day, 1787--a day emblematical of the resuscitation of a Church which had been defunct rather than dormant.
There was no enthusiastic reception of the Bishops; the Republicans in general regarded them with suspicion, and the few Churchmen who welcomed their return, met them with heavy hearts and in a doubtful temper. They felt like men under a cloud, and were dispirited; whatever they did, would be misrepresented, and doings would be attributed to them which they never did.
If Bishop White still gathered around him a few friends, he had to lament the coldness of Bishop Provoost. The latter would do his duty; but he had an unpleasant feeling that he was suspected by his own party, and his political party was dearer to his heart than his Church.
Bishop White could hardly have maintained his ground, if he had not been supported by a man of more learning and more energy than himself, Bishop [53/54] Seabury, who in spite of the jealousy and tacit opposition of Bishop Provoost had, together with the Northern Clergy, been admitted to the Convention of 1786; and who ever after took an active part in the proceedings of the Church, precedence having been conceded to him, as the senior Bishop, by Bishop White. Bishop White was universally respected, and was deserving of the respect he received. He was one of those in whom common sense amounted almost to genius, though his writings clearly shew that in the depth, the fire, the intuitions of genius he was deficient. Neither was his learning sufficient to qualify him for the part he was called upon to act; but he had at hand a powerful assistant and adviser in Bishop Seabury. With him White meekly acted, and by him he was prevented from making concessions for the sake of peace, which very often would have been an unconscious surrender of principle. Two men more different in character than Seabury and White have seldom been found to act cordially together in the promotion of a common end. The one could not have done without the other; and by the combination of their talents and virtues, in the very worst of times, they laid the deep foundations of the Church of the United States.
I mention the fact of there being no great man among the founders of the American Church, for a reason similar to that which, in the history of the Reformation which I have sketched in the 'Lives of the Archbishops,' induced me to account it a blessing, that while our English Reformers were holy, and some of them really learned men, there was not among them any one of commanding genius, such as [54/55] John Calvin; the power of whose mind, in conjunction with the erudition which made him master of the principles of St. Augustine, must for ever fill with astonishment those who consult his writings, even if to his conclusions they do not always assent. Martin Luther and John Calvin were calculated not so much to act as Reformers of the Church, as to become, what they were, founders, each of them, of a school or sect. Our English Reformers, on the contrary, conducted, with consummate wisdom, the reformation of the ancient Church in which they had been baptized; they left no sectarian impress of their own minds on their work; and we in our Reformation, and our North American brethren in the foundation of their Church, give the praise to no man, but devoutly return thanks to the Almighty and Divine Head of the Church, by whose superintending Providence the minds of unruly men were controlled; so that our ancestors were able to hand down to us the best Reformed Church in Christendom, and we to hand on to our children in the New World our Protestantism in conjunction with our Catholicism.
By the co-operation of Bishops White and Seabury, the foundation was laid of the new Church, which was to be adapted, as nearly as circumstances would permit, to the new constitution of the country. The constitution of 1786 was revised in the Convention of 1789; the difficulty was great, but less from any doctrinal differences than from political considerations. Bishop White was for conceding almost anything for the sake of peace, Bishop Seabury next to nothing; and by their amicable conferences [55/56] nothing of principle was sacrificed, though some concessions were made to the prejudices of impassioned and ignorant men, which have since been regretted. The revision of the Prayer-Book was completed. In 1790, Dr. Madison, having been consecrated Bishop of Virginia, at Lambeth, there were now four bishops in America, three of the English succession, and one of the Scotch. Everything, therefore, which was requisite for the continuation and extension of the Episcopate was complete, and by the four Bishops the line of American consecration was opened in 1792, by their uniting in the consecration of Dr. Claggett, elected Bishop of Maryland. In 1795, Dr. Smith was consecrated for South Carolina, in 1797 the Rev. Edward Bass for Massachusetts, and in the same year Dr. Jarvis for Connecticut, that diocese having become vacant by the death of Bishop Seabury. From that time, the consecration of Bishops has proceeded according to the requirements of the Church, without impediment, to the present day. Thus was founded the Reformed or Anglo-Catholic Church in. America, under the title of the Protestant Episcopal Church: Protestant, as opposed to the See of Rome; Episcopal, denoting its descent from the Apostles, by the succession of its, ministers.
I have met with some sensible remarks in a work entitled 'A Voice from America,' published thirty years ago, by An American, not himself a Churchman. "As the burnt child dreads the fire," he says, "so the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, having suffered more than any other from the jealousy and early legislation of American [56/57] democracy, in consideration of the fact that she was originally the Established Church of Great Britain in the Colonies, has been extremely careful not to meddle with the politics of the country. It took a full half-century, from the date of the American Revolution, for the Church to recover a comfortable state of existence, and to begin to feel that her breath was her own. The reorganisation of her ecclesiastical polity--a thing apart from Episcopacy proper, and which may be adapted to the state of society in any country at discretion--was a duty which necessarily devolved upon this Church after the establishment of American independence and the consequent disestablishment of the Church; and it was so prudently devised as to be adapted to the popular institutions of the country as originally set up, not democratic, but republican. The American Episcopal Church, therefore, is properly and thoroughly republican in the construction and operation of its polity.
"By a scrupulous avoidance of all intermeddling with the politics of State, and a steady adherence to her own principles, the Episcopal or Anglo-Catholic Church has silently worked her way into a prominent rank among the religious denominations of the country, and though not as yet numerous, as compared with those already noticed, yet it is rapidly increasing in numbers, and growing in public favour. What she lacks in a numerical point of view, she enjoys in the respectability and wealth of her members. Her present relative position to the community and to other sects is peculiarly advantageous to herself. Compact in her organisation, [57/58] consistent in her principles, unimpeachable as to the charge of meddling with politics, and aloof from the common religious agitations of the country, she is well prepared to endure the shock which the premature and forced attempts at moral and religious reformations have brought upon the American public, and to profit by it. Tired of the religious squabbles, and disgusted with the fanaticism, which have sprung up in so many quarters, to interfere with civil rights, to disturb the public peace, and invade the domestic sanctuary, the more sober and reflecting, according as their relations in society will permit, are turning their eyes to the decent order and quietude of the Episcopal Church, as an inviting place of repose."
Such, thirty years ago, were the feelings of a man of the world; but the repose which the individual Christian must seek by faith in the Redeemer, the Church, which was to propagate, sustain, and defend that faith, can never with safety enjoy. Hers is a perpetual warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and unless the Church be up and doing, her deadly enemies will make advances against her through the destruction of souls.
The Church in America, after a short interval of repose, was roused into vigorous action in the year 1798, when John Henry Hobart was ordained to the sacred ministry. The year which saw his ordination will always be memorable in the annals of the American Church; for his voice was heard, while he was yet only a presbyter, warning mankind that Piety has something more to do than to say, "Take thine ease."
"And out of that midnight so dark and deep
His voice cried--Ho! Awaken!"
 The sleepers aroused themselves from sleep, and ever since, the eyes of the English Church have been fastened upon her American daughter; while the reciprocity of affection and good works which exists between them must tend to bind together the two branches of the great Anglo-Saxon family, which, in the Old World and the New, is gradually absorbing into itself the nations of the world. On the 2 9th of May, 1811, Hobart was consecrated Bishop of New York at the early age of thirty-six.
The people, aroused from their slumber, were not at first in the best possible humour, when they were called upon to acts of self-denial; and for several years the moral persecution which Bishop Hobart had to endure depressed his spirits, but never for a moment slackened his energies. Every kind of falsehood was invented to blacken his name, and for a time he had to fight, almost singlehanded, the battle of the Church. But by degrees, friends rallied round him; they increased in number, they gave him their confidence; he lived down his enemies. Long before his death he had the happiness--and a greater happiness man can scarcely enjoy--of counting among his supporters and friends some who had been, at one time, his bitter opponents. Even among those who still thought it their duty to pursue a course of conduct different from that which suggested itself to him, many regarded him, in private, with feelings. of friendship; and in the various denominations, which at one time had gone out of their way to oppose him, many so admired his wisdom, his foresight, and his energy, that they were now ready to admit, that they were prepared [59/60] to take him as their model, and to bring his principles of energetic action to bear on those very denominational peculiarities which he most condemned.
In 1823, worn out and fatigued with his many anxieties and cares, he visited Europe; and he was received in England with those feelings of admiration and respect which he so fully deserved.
I was, at that time, a curate in the Isle of Wight. There were no railroads, and very few steamboats, and travelling, therefore, was expensive; but, though I could ill afford it, I journeyed to London on a cold November day, on the top of the coach, to receive at the end of my journey the blessing of a man whom I admired, respected, and revered. I found him in the grandeur of his simplicity, as ready to open his full mind to a young curate as he would have been to a person of his own age and station. He prided himself, and went out of his way to show it, on being a Republican; and the mixture of Republican with high Church principles perplexed not a few among those who approached him, and who confounded the Establishment with the Church. He gave some offence by preferring his own branch of the Church to ours, on those matters of detail in which a disestablished Church must differ from an Establishment. He told me, that the cause of the Church was retarded in America at that time by the fact, that many narrow-minded persons still & It, that there must be, on the part of the Episcopalians, a secret attachment to the principles of the English Monarchy, which was treason to American Republicanism. He wished, while showing and proclaiming his devoted attachment to the Church of [60/61] England, to prove in his own person, that he could be a loyal citizen of the United States.
From that time, the progress of the Church in the United States has been rapid and satisfactory. When Bishop Hobart was consecrated, the Church was so reduced that it was doubtful whether a sufficient number of Bishops could be assembled to officiate at his consecration; Bishop White was afraid, that the Church would have again to apply to England. But from that time, a spirit of holy enterprise began to manifest itself in measures for the building up of the Church west of the Alleghany Mountains, and in other portions of the country, where heretofore it had maintained but a feeble existence. The ministry numbers in its ranks men of the highest intellectual endowments and of admirable self-devotion to the cause of the Gospel. With a steady progress, unawed by the assaults of sectarianism and the reproaches of the fanatic, the Church gradually established itself in the affections of all who came, with a spirit of candour to the examination of her claims. The blessing of her Great Head was apparent not only in the peace which adorned her councils but in the demands which were continually made for a wider extension of her influence. Hence the establishment of the General Theological Seminary by Bishop Hobart (1817-1821), and afterwards of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (1835), both of which institutions were instrumental in providing heralds of the Gospel for the distant places of the West. These were followed by the diocesan seminaries of Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky; while efforts were made for the founding of several in other dioceses. At the General [61/62] Convention of 1835, the whole Church assumed the position of one grand missionary organisation; and has already her bands of missionaries labouring in the cause of the Church in the remotest districts of the country; and her banner has been lifted up in Africa, in China, and other foreign parts.
In the year 1841, the Bishop of New Jersey, crossed the Atlantic to preach the sermon at the consecration of the parish church of Leeds. He was the first republican Bishop who officiated in England, and there are persons in this room who recollect the enthusiasm with which he was received.
The year 1852 was distinguished by remarkable demonstrations of communion between the Churches of England and America. The American Church, in token of her connection with the Mother Church, and of gratitude for benefits received from the Society for Propagating the Gospel while the American States were part of the British dominions, deputed Bishop M'Coskry of Michigan, and Bishop De Lancy of Western New York, to attend the Third Jubilee of the Society. These Bishops were received in England with cordial affection, and the Bishop of Michigan preached the Jubilee sermon in St. Paul's Cathedral. A few months later, the English Bishop Fulford, of Montreal, took part in the consecration of Dr. Wainwright,--whom some among you will remember as my honoured guest in Leeds,--Coadjutor Bishop of Eastern New York. In 1853, Bishop Spencer, Archdeacon Sinclair, and the Rev. Ernest Hawkins were deputed by the Society for Propagating the Gospel, to return the visit of the American Prelates, and were received with great cordiality by [62/63] the General Convention of the American Church. With nearly fifty Bishops, with her numerous societies for the circulation of the Bible and of the Liturgy, with her institutions of learning, and with presses constantly pouring out the light of truth, may we not predict, under the Divine protection, a day of coming prosperity, when our Zion shall be a praise in all the earth, when her temples and her altars shall be seen on the far-off shores of the Pacific, when even "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose"?
The greatest sign of the prosperity of the Anglo-Catholic Church in America was displayed when Archbishop Longley, so long your beloved Diocesan, in the largeness of his heart, invited the American Prelates to the Pan-Anglican Conference.
They came; how different their position now from that of their predecessors in the year 1787, eighty years before. Then appeared two strangers, suppliants for a gift, to the English Prelates, who acted with timidity in receiving them, while on both sides there was alarm; on the one side, lest they should be regarded as inclined to Republicanism, on the other, lest it should be supposed that they had not shaken off their Monarchical principles.
They came in 1867, to sit on an equality with the first and third personages in the English House of Lords; and they were welcomed by the nobles of the realm as brethren, whose visit to the land of their fathers was regarded as an honour.
Against that great measure of peace and brotherly love an outcry was raised--showing its real [63/64] import--among those who have evil will at our Zion; and the outcry was encouraged by the Public Press, because the reporters were excluded. The exclusion of the reporters was urged upon the Primate, not by the English, but by the American Prelates. They stated, that they were invited not to a synod, but to a friendly conference. If it had been a synod, presbyters would have been admitted to a seat in the assembly, and perhaps the laity; at all events, both presbyters and laity would have claimed a right to be present, which would have implied the presence of reporters. There would then have been set speeches, and formal resolutions, which, as legislation was not admissible, would have been a mockery. By a conference was meant an assembly in which the Bishops as friends, might take sweet counsel together, not with a view to the enactment of laws, but to consult upon the best mode of carrying out admitted principles, and of propagating the Gospel of peace.
The Public Press in this country, following the example of the leading journal, is so well conducted, that it was proposed at first, to admit reporters, who would have known when to report, and when to refrain from reporting. There is a kind of common law bearing upon the public press in England, for a transgression of which, a journal is sure to sink in public estimation. But the American Press is not under such strict regulations, nor is it amenable to this traditionary control; and it would have been inexpedient to have had the solemn truths, concerning which the prelates were seeking not to legislate but to consult, opened out to the discussion of the general [64/65] public, too apt to treat with disrespect, if not with ridicule, what the pious mind regards with feelings of profound respect, and sacred awe.
It would, I repeat it, have been far different, if the meeting had been a synod, at which authoritative conclusions would have been arrived at, and Canons passed. We have a right to hear the reasons for binding us, when obligations are imposed upon us, even by legitimate authority. But when a meeting is for friendly conference, the restraint which would be imposed upon thought, if every chance sentence uttered were immediately telegraphed to the Antipodes, ought to be withdrawn; the object being not to proceed to action, but by eliciting first thoughts, however vague, to lay the foundation for future operations, if ever it should be deemed expedient to convene not a conference but a synod.
From what has been advanced in this Lecture, you will perceive that the question of establishing or of disestablishing a Church in any portion of the British Empire, is a question to the consideration of which we ought to approach not as Churchmen but as statesmen. If we look to the Church it has its own duty to perform, to win men to Christ. At one time, this duty may be best performed where the Church is fostered by the State; at another, when the State sees fit to persecute the Church. I fully believe, that in Ireland, the Church will accomplish more good by being disestablished, than under the circumstances of an Establishment she can ever hope to effect. The first step in our progress must be to gain, by the sacrifice not of principle, but of wealth and station, the good will of the people. If [65/66] our disestablishment will conduce to peace, in God's name, let not the preachers of the Gospel of Peace offer any impediment. As in America so in Ireland, I am convinced, that the Anglo-Catholic Church will flourish in the end, because I believe that it is the banner of Truth which she unfurls; but success will be the result of patient suffering, as well as of energetic exertion.
I am aware, that the same principles here adduced may be brought to bear in favour of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in England. I trust that, if it shall be decided, at any future period, that it is for the good of the country that the Church shall be disestablished in England, the clergy will preach the Gospel to the nation by an exhibition of their disinterestedness, as well as by their zeal. But among those whom I now address, I presume that every one will agree with what was bravely said in Parliament by my right honourable friend Mr. Forster, that the establishment of the Church in England is a blessing to the country.
It is not, recollect, a question with us Englishmen whether, considered in the abstract, a republic be or be not the best form of government, or whether, if we were founding a colony, we should connect the Church with the State; the question for us is, What is best for old England, with all our historic recollections and honest prejudices? We believe that the best, if not the only form of government adapted to England, is that of a limited monarchy in union with an Established Church, a constitution in Church and State such as we have inherited it, gradually formed by the wisdom of our ancestors in different [66/67] ages, won by their valour, consecrated by their blood. We have an historic past of which we are justly proud, and we are as justly jealous of whatever tends to separate from that past the present or the future. Therefore when I conclude by repeating the words of a great poet, these words will find in the heart of every one here present a cordial response.
"Hail to the Crown by Freedom formed to grace
An English Sovereign's brow! and to the Throne
Whereon she sits, whose deep foundations lie
In veneration and the people's love,
Whose steps are equity, whose seat is law.
Hail to the State of England! and conjoin
With this a salutation as devout
Made to the spiritual fabric of her Church
Founded in truth; by blood of martyrdom
Cemented; by the hands of Wisdom reared
In 'beauty of Holiness,' with ordered pomp;
Decent and unreproved. The voice that greets
The majesty of both, shall pray for both,
That, mutually protected and sustained,
They may endure as long as sea surrounds
This favour'd land, and sunshine warms her soil."
Note.--It may be proper to state, that many pages of this Lecture were omitted when the Lecture was read, in order to bring the paper within the proper limits in regard to time.