Project Canterbury












Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2009



IN the autumn of 1916 I was sent by The Archbishop of Canterbury, along with Bishop Montgomery, to carry the greetings of the Church of England to the Episcopal Church of America assembled in the Triennial Convention at St. Louis.

This led to hearty invitations from all parts of the States to speak and preach. Time allowed me to accept only about half of these. Then some American friends asked that a few of the addresses should be published as a remembrance.

As they were given in places widely apart, some of the ideas and phrases are repeated.

Here, then, comes the little book, and if it may be taken as a token of my gratitude for an hospitality that was as full as it was delicate, I shall be less shy of my production.

Hartlebury Castle, Christmas, 1916.


THE REPLY - page 55





I thank you for the cordiality of your welcome, which, in spite of certain personal words which were all too kind, I do not accept for myself. You have extended your hands to our great Primate of Canterbury, to the Archbishop of York, to my brother Bishops and to the Church of England at large. Your words shall go on to them and they will be gratefully and affectionately received.

We in our turn greet you, our Sister Church, which speaks the same tongue, and holds the same Faith.

Your venerable President spoke with enthusiasm of the American Church, of its independence, [1/2] and of its hopes. He need never wait long for an echo from our shores to such statements: the same enthusiasm for your vocation, the same insistence on your independence, the same hopes for the future of your service to your country have always been in our hearts and often on our tongues. It was out of respect to those very attributes that our Chief and our Brethren bid Bishop Montgomery and me to brave the Atlantic and its submerged perils so as to lay their tribute at your feet.

If I may say anything in reply, it will amount to this, that I stand among brethren and I know their cares. For a quarter-century I have been in the inner working of Church life and I know the difficulties, and that they were never graver than now.

The momentous movements of thought and faith and practice, vibrating everywhere as men under the call of God to-day look for a strong, practical, virile religion, put great responsibility on those who are placed where you and I stand. Men asking for a new life in God are apt to turn almost fiercely upon some of their former usages, condemning as useless what perhaps has only been so because they themselves have never used them, demanding new method, new teaching, new forms [2/3] of worship, new unkept and heady wine to be thrust into the well-worn bottles, and we have to guide, to encourage, to temper their aspirations, without losing any soul which seeks after God. It is not an easy task, but we will not complain; we will remember that when the temple was opened in Heaven there were thunderings and voices.

But what we do need is much and frequent grave thought and counsel, making for unity, among the Bishops themselves. We who are Diocesans rightly preserve the independence of our Dioceses, but we can never obtain full wisdom or the force which comes with unity unless we are much in council.

We will no longer think of Canada, or of England, or of America, or of Africa, or of Australia, or of India as standing alone--in any sense as claiming individuality. Alone in some respects they must, for geographical or racial reasons, stand, but, please God, none will ever lose touch as members of that body wherein if one suffers the others suffer with it.

How shall we keep touch? Not by insistence on rigid similarity in things which are not essential; we will remember that there were Gallican and Spanish uses when Western Christendom was [3/4] undivided; still less by any dreams of centralization and organization. We can learn from Rome what the spiritual loss may be when one See lays itself out to compass power over the rest, but we can achieve that touch, methinks, by frequent counsel, by common aims, by caring for the links of a common origin, and we are strengthening those ties by our contact now.

I have spoken as Representative of the Church of England. Will you admit a personal word, and I have done?

Long ago I graduated from the College of which I am now an honorary Fellow--Emmanuel College, Cambridge. It was the nursing mother of Harvard and the intellectual and theological helper of New England. At that time I was offered a choice of six months' travel in the Old World or the New; it was perhaps natural that a boy from so classical a school as Winchester should choose to see Rome, to hear the yellow Tiber rush, and tread the road to Brundusium; so I missed what you had to teach.

But now, at the end, I have gravitated after all to the New World. I come to sit and hear your Church, to feel the grip of the friendly hand, and the cheer of the friendly voice of you, my brother Bishops, in your strong and stirring land.



[6] Very gratefully and proudly do I accept your words of welcome, given not to me personally (although I shall never forget the personal touch in your address), but to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Provinces of Canterbury and York, of whom I have the honour to be the momentary representative.

When the House of Bishops yesterday accorded me a like welcome, I told them how, in my early life, by the advice of Professor Fawcett, I had nearly come to America to learn the arts of citizenship. I was thinking the matter over, when I fell in love with Holy Orders, and the moment passed. Now in my old age the dream of youth is fulfilled, but, as so often happens, in a different way, and I come now to see indeed your country [5/6] of many wonders, and still learn citizenship, but more especially to learn and advocate the comradeship of the greatest community on earth, the Church of God.

There is one study which particularly holds me, and that is your management of Church Councils and Conventions. Ever since my schoolmaster and spiritual father, George Moberly, Bishop of Salisbury, put out at Oxford his Bampton Lectures on the ministration of the Holy Spirit, I have never lost a sense of the importance of the deliberations of the Church in Council when it had invoked the aid of God the Holy Ghost. He reminded the Established Church of England whence its real authority came: namely, not from its establishment, but from its possession of the Powers of the Holy Spirit. It is clear that you have grasped this truth; you have not been content with gathering the Bishops or the Priesthood alone, but you recognize that the faithful laity are also partakers in the authority pertaining to the whole body of the Church in Council.

The age in which we live will, I believe, be held historically as one which re-learnt the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. For us rather slow-moving people in England the progress has been remarkable in the direction of His action in council. In [6/7] the lifetime of men, whom as a youth I knew, there was no existing Church Council, for Convocation had been politically drugged to sleep. Only thirty years ago an English Bishop, on appointing a Rural Dean, said, "I appoint you, but you have no duties; in any case you are not to call the clergy together to talk, for on such occasions they only talk nonsense." Compare this with the brisk and growing conciliar life in England, with the vision of real parochial, ruridecanal, diocesan and provincial conciliar action, and your own great Convention, and we can see how God the Holy Ghost is leading us back to primitive conceptions of what the Church of God means.

We should have moved even more quickly if we as a Church had had unfettered legislative power, but the freehold of our clergy in their benefices, the ancient vestry rights constituted for temporal purposes, the interlacing of ecclesiastical and civil law, the loss of our cathedrals as the central workshops of our Bishops owing to the defensive entanglements and entrenchments which have been allowed to grow up around them, these and much else have made our progress as a militant Church and as a disciplined Church very slow, and not always very sure.

You may have read the recent report of the [7/8] Archbishop of Canterbury's Committee in which proposals are made for a more reasonable autonomy, but the problem of self-government along with the existence of establishment is not an easy one.

Here in America your course is plainer, and while I, for one, realize here more clearly than perhaps I did before I left England how great an asset in evangelization of any nation the status of establishment is, I can see that you have made achievements which we shall do well to study. Thus every day on this side of the Atlantic teaches me how valuable an extended counsel influenced by the Holy Spirit would be, and of how great value to us--and may I add also to you?--would be a closer comradeship between our sister Churches, and more frequent interchange of thought one with another in which each might learn something to attain and something to abandon.

But now allow me to touch on another matter which at present occupies our attention increasingly, and on which you have in your Conventions something to tell us. I mean Church Finance.

We have our ancient endowments; you have your system of voluntary offering, and central funds. With us endowments are both good and [8/9] bad. Bad when they lead the present generation to forget that it, too, has an obligation as great as that of our forefathers to make sacrifice for the support of God's ministry. Bad again because even if we pooled all our endowments and meted them out in equal portions we should still have very inadequate stipends to offer, while we should have given away the few which were adequate. But good inasmuch as they secure an honest teacher against the temptation to play for popularity, and fortify him against the arbitrary interference of any strong-willed, strong-pursed member of his so-called flock.

Forgive me, brethren of the laity, if I say that one of the greatest dangers to religion is a desire to run a successful Church. Few clergy are the better for being popular; few churches are the purer for an aim to be successful, as men count success. Perhaps in these days one of our greatest needs is a Church which clearly proclaims the truth of God, and interprets with definiteness His dealings with mankind in judgment as well as mercy.

If so, we need a Priesthood forgetful of self, absorbed in its calling, fearless of man, but fearing God.

To secure this our clergy must not be too [9/10] dependent on those whom they have to teach. Human nature is at a disadvantage if it can be starved into smooth prophesyings. So we clergy need, and must have if we are to be independent, a livelihood which is independent of pressure. This is a layman's question, because the laity would be the first to suffer spiritually from a subservient clergy.

On the other hand, there is a danger of too great independence. We clergy must not be lords of God's heritage; we have constantly to guard ourselves against priestly assumption, against confusing the greatness of the office with the greatness of the man. We have to remember for ever that a priest must be lowly if he is to stand before his Master, and that his greatest honour is to be a servant.

Thus the problem is how to secure independence and yet guard against the evils of independence. Probably it would be best solved by a combination of your system and ours.

We hope in England that some solution may come through our central Board of Finance, but as yet I confess we do not see our way very far. Perhaps your Board of Missions may show us how to maintain the independence of Diocesan action, which the faults of the Papacy have taught us to [10/11] safeguard, and at the same time to take advantage of a strong central purse.

But, Right Rev. and Reverend Fathers and faithful laity, I must pass from such questions. I could not stand here to reply to your gracious welcome without touching the things which so deeply move us at home in the great war which is searching us to the bone, for you have never shown us your brotherliness of blood and faith with such acceptableness as you are doing now in your fellow-feeling for what we have to bear and to achieve.

I am not here to touch politics for one moment. I can believe that Americans may not have approved of every move which we have had to make in our most complicated issues of war on sea and land and air, of war in the market, and war on behalf of principle.

But one thing is clear: you have always stood for justice, for humanity, for freedom, for self-government, and for the dignity of States. Well, these are the principles which seem to us to be of so much value that they justify men of peace in supporting the cause of war.

Yet it is a higher level still that I would reach to-day.

If you were in England now you would be [11/12] stirred by at least one thing: I mean the great increase of seriousness. Two years ago we had drifted very far. The value of wealth for wealth's sake and for what it would buy, apart from how it was obtained and how our fellow-men suffered in the making, had become too dominating.

The morals of the home and of society were fast weakening. Facilities for divorce, deplored by those who knew their working, were widely advocated, the root doctrines of the Faith were being impugned. The sins of the world and of the flesh and the devil were more openly flaunted than, in my long life, I can remember. God in His mercy has used the horrors of war, which He, in His absolute perfection, cannot desire, to recall us to the things which made your race and ours great; and what were these? Our determination to do our duty towards God and our duty towards man.

I do not say that this seriousness has yet produced any wide return to definite faith, but it has opened the door.

Into this door the American and English branches of the Apostolic Catholic Church can enter if they will, and in so doing they are assured of the guidance of God's Holy Spirit.

True, as your venerable President said yesterday [12/13] the American Church must be American. He would be a very foolish observer who thought otherwise. Canterbury has no desire to assume a Papacy, and could not if it tried. But there is a linking of national Church with national Church in unity of doctrine, and in the pursuit of mutual trustfulness, good-will and co-operation, which is stronger than the links of Rome, because unity of purpose is stronger than the unity which comes of discipline.

What might we not do together in the development of Anglo-Saxon-Celtic civilization and progress!

Only we must aim together at the highest ends. In Church affairs we must not look for earthly power, for popularity or wealth; we must aim at no less than the acceptance by the world of the mind of God, which is the only true ideal; and for this we must be prepared to make sacrifice.

Reverend Brothers and faithful Laymen, I must ask your pardon for keeping you too long, but the vision which I see of a world lifted to its best by the teaching of God, and of the English-speaking race as His agent, is of so great sublimity and inspires so thrilling a hope that I thought you would allow me time to lift one corner of the veil.

Grant then, O God, to the members of our two [13/14] Churches the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and ghostly strength, of knowledge and true godliness, and, in view of judgment to come (which we are so apt to forget), the spirit of Thy holy fear.

Project Canterbury