REVEREND AND DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY:
WE extend, as your chief pastor, our greetings in Christ to you assembled again in your Cathedral in Council and we reverently invoke the Holy Spirit's guidance upon your deliberations.
What we have to say may be divided into two parts. Matters relating to the interest and welfare of the Church at large, and those more particularly identified with our own Diocese.
It has been felt for a long time that the growth of both Houses constituting the General Convention embarrasses practical legislation. The remedy for this and other of our Church's hindrances that for many years has now been urged, is the division of the American Church into a few large provinces. Such provinces should be large, comprising at least ten or twelve Dioceses, in order that the comprehensiveness and balanced wisdom of the Church may be preserved. A proposed system confining provinces to state lines or small provinces, associating three or four Bishops only together, would be a far worse arrangement than the existing one of no provinces at all. Provinces must be large in order to be safe and useful. Also for the unification of sectional feeling and the advantage that comes from wide associations, the provinces should not conform territorially to our national divisions, but rather ignore them. It would not, for example, be so wise to erect New England into a province by herself as to join her to New York. For the same reason the next eastern province might consist of Pennsylvania and all the Dioceses on the sea board south, including Florida. A province of the Central States might extend from the Lakes to the Gulf, again uniting North and South together. Without saying that this would be the best arrangement, we believe that the general principle is a sound one, that the provinces should be large and each embrace different sections of our Country.
Every province should have its own Metropolitan or Archbishop, whose office should be permanently connected with one See. This latter proposition we deem every way wiser and more in conformity with ancient usage than to have the office a migratory one. The title most fitting is that of Archbishop. While the acknowledged unchurchly title of "Presiding Bishop" might be replaced by that of Primate, a title that would contrast most favorably as declaring our independent national Church position, with that of Legate, or Ablegate, which denotes a foreign headship, the title of Archbishop, which is one of rank rather than of authority as is that of Metropolitan, might be given to the first Bishop of the Province. This title, it should be remembered, is the one recommended by the late Lambeth Conference and is now being commonly adopted. We owe it to ourselves to adopt it. Its adoption is but due to the American Church as belonging to a branch of Christ's Church, inferior in its heritage of spiritual powers to none, Anglican or Latin. It would moreover bring us into conformity with the rest of the Anglican Communion, and also place our Bishops on equal terms with their brethren. Surely, if we may without arousing the discord of the theological schools use the term Archdeacon, there is no reason why our harmony should be disturbed by the use of the title Archbishop.
How, it is asked, should he be chosen? It is becoming commonly recognized that it is unwise to let the presiding officer of the Church or of any province of it be determined by the principle of seniority. It is almost cruel to place increased responsibilities upon aged men, who can care but little for the honor, and who only humbly submit to the burden, regarding the new duty imposed, as the late Bishop declared it to be, "a calamity." If, however, the Metropolitan office is to be connected with any one See of a province, it is obvious that the electors in that See should make in consequence of the dignity given their Diocese certain concessions. If they were left as free as they now are to elect any presbyter for their Bishop, then, at the time of his election, he would be the youngest of all the Bishops of a province and not one to whom the other Bishops could look up for guidance and counsel. This certainly they have a right to ask. The choice therefore of this Bishop should necessarily be limited to one of the existing Bishops or to one of three candidates nominated by the Bishops of the province. The Diocese could scarcely fail in either case to get an able man and one who would meet their needs.
The question has been pressed, what are the advantages of the provincial system? The advantages of the provincial system are that the clergy would be provided with a final court of appeal. There would also be a fairer and better scrutiny of those elected to the Episcopate, who would then be confirmed by the Standing Committees of the Province and who, being more interested in the choice, would feel their responsibility more. The smaller number of Bishops assembling together and more frequently would strengthen the fraternal relations which should exist between them. The system would also develop the educational interests and missionary spirit of the Church.
Another matter of general concern has been presented by some unfortunate occurrences concerned with Episcopal elections. The Church has been greatly pained and scandal given to the injury of its work by the introduction into Episcopal elections of methods more befitting those of political parties than with the sober and reverent spirit which should be found in Church councils. We do not think any legislation can reach the matter. The more quietly and prayerfully an election can take place, the better. We want to avoid caucusing, appeals in newspapers, hidden attacks on character, appeals to party spirit. An embittered election does great harm to a Diocese and to souls. We have thought that an ideal manner of elections for the Episcopate would be, upon the occasion of a vacancy, for each of the clergy, in consultation it may be with their vestry, to send in to the President of the Standing Committee one or three names as they saw fit and then for the three names that had the highest number of votes to be declared the only candidates for election, which should take place without speeches, save those of nomination and after silent prayer. This method would put in nomination the three persons, who apart from the political idea of expediency were thought best fitted and would give minorities a better opportunity to express their choice.
Another matter of general interest and more serious import is the steadily increasing number of depositions from the sacred ministry. When one considers the indelibility of Holy Orders and the tremendous and awful character of the vows taken by a priest, we can but be shocked when any one renounces his priesthood and is deposed. Such a one having put his hand to the plow has looked back, having once been called according to his most solemn statement, has renounced his vocation and cast away his birthright. He has run a fearful risk, for the mark of his priesthood will ever remain upon him throughout eternity, to glow with brighter joy in glory or to burn on throughout eternity with more unutterable anguish.
What we may well ask is the latent cause of these many defections, so increasing and so lightly regarded? Is the Church losing aught of the keenness of her spiritual estimate of the dignity and sacredness of the priesthood? Has aught been lacking in our theological seminaries concerning the character of a priest's vocation? Have their spiritual guides failed to instruct candidates how the call of God is to be known and tested? Surely there seems to be a fault somewhere that so large a number of men can so lightly imperil their salvation and desert so high a calling. Surely in the midst of so much admitted looseness of teaching, looseness of spiritual aim, increased worldliness of motive, all our theological seminaries ought to be brought by Canon under the supervision of the Church or their Provincial Bishops. The Church ought to have the power to inspect our theological seminaries, have some control over the text-books used, and of the discipline of those in training for the ministry.
Again it is not unbecoming in us, we hope, to refer to our own order. The greatest hindrances to the advancement of the Church are not the opposition she meets with from without. The world has always been worldly, cynical, unbelieving, indifferent. The Church has always been straightened in her resources, crippled for want of means, and feeble because her priests were few. But a greater source of weakness has often lain in her Bishops. They have been often lacking in their apprehension of the Church. They have often failed to recognize the truth, the foundation of the Catholic system, that the Episcopate is one. The great Cyprianic principle of the solidarity of the Episcopate, which enables the Church to meet the exaggerated claims of Rome and the denials of dissent, has been but too little recognized. They have acted and spoken too much as individual doctors or as identified with some school in the Church or some one branch of it. They have not always surrendered themselves to be taught and molded by the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the whole Catholic Church and to be in their place its humble utterance. No wonder that the Bishops speak with loss of influence when they shut themselves off from the only real source of their authority. For it is only as a Bishop voices the solidarity of the Episcopate existing throughout the world and through all ages that he has a claim upon our obedience. Otherwise we may respect his opinions, we may give all weight possible to his learning, but unless we know he is sincerely trying to be the utterance of the mind of the whole Church, how can we yield to him that submission which is needful for the preservation of the Church's order? Failing to subordinate themselves to the law of the whole Church, the Bishops have consequently often failed in their office of teachers. Unsupported by the authority of the past, while men of learning, they have failed in being leaders. They have too often been tainted with the desire of grasping at success at the sacrifice of principle. No wonder such men have inspired little devotion on the part of their Clergy and have failed of gaining the respect of the Laity. However Churchmen may differ in matters of opinion, all good Churchmen love one another, and they love open, straightforward, sincere characters and plainly avowed principles, for they know such men can best afford, and it is most in consonance with their nature, to be fair and liberal. The list of our Bishops is increasing very fast, and if we should keep a more careful watch over Candidates for Holy Orders, we ought more especially to do so over admissions to the Episcopate. One evil of our present system of election might, by resolution or Canon of the General Convention, be removed. There is as you know a difference of opinion respecting the function of our Standing Committees, some holding that in the case of Candidates for Holy Orders and of confirming the elections of Bishops they have but a revisatory duty to perform. They may as individuals think that the person whom they recommend is unfit for the office to which they recommend him, but that their duty is confined to seeing that the papers presented to them are made out in due form. So it comes to pass that the Bishop throws the responsibility for ordaining or consecrating upon the Standing Committees. The Standing Committees in turn throw it upon others, and what seems on its surface a system well designed to guard admission to the Sacred Ministry proves utterly ineffective. Might it not be well for the duty of the Standing Committee to be defined and, in order to guard the entrance into the Episcopate of those who are said to deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith, to require that every Bishop elect should sign a declaration of faith in the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation expressed in the language of the Athanasian Creed?
Another matter of growing importance which concerns the whole Church is the proposed legislation respecting divorce. Our present Canon is commonly admitted to be unsatisfactory. It will be impossible for us at this time to enter into the scriptural, canonical, or patristic view of the great subject of marriage. But we may say that we think that the more solemn' and durable we can make marriage, the more we are contributing to the safety of the state, the happiness of the individual, and the welfare of society. There is a radical difference between those who look upon it from a merely natural point of view and those who regard it from the Christian standpoint. As Churchmen and Christians we regard it as a sacrament symbolizing, as St. Paul tells us, the union of Christ and the Church. Like that union it should be held to be indissoluble. In all places of Holy Scripture, save one, the statement of our Lord to this effect is unquestionable. The one seeming exception allowing the marriage of the innocent party is based upon a text whose genuineness is doubtful and meaning a matter of dispute. We deem it therefore safer to take the line of construction that ignores the doubtful exception than to run the risk of allowing persons to disobey God's command. It has been contended that for the avoidance of possible sin the innocent party should be allowed to marry, but this argument would equally apply to both parties. Besides it is a law of progress, where there is more light there also is the darker shadow. The higher gifts of grace bestowed in Christianity are at the risk of greater possible sin on the part of mankind. The high ideal of Christian marriage is thus purchased at the expense of much evil. This is the law Christ revealed when He said, "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin." We must thus accept the high standard revealed to us, though it be beset with new temptations and possible evils. If it involves a hardness, this is only another portion of the Law of the Cross. By the observance of the indissolubility of marriage the Christian preaches and bears a lifelong testimony to the oneness of Christ and his Church, and will obtain in consequence, if he has to suffer, his own special reward.
Another matter which has aroused attention is "The degree of latitude permitted as to belief in Holy Scripture." The question thus propounded denotes the difference between the Church's view of Holy Scripture and that of the denominations. According to the Church's teaching Christianity is based upon a person, Jesus Christ. According to the Protestant view revealed religion is based upon a Book. The Church declares God is its Author. But the Church does not require us to believe in the Scriptures, but to believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Ghost, in the Holy Catholic Church. The relation of the Bible to the Church is this: She has separated some of her writings from other of her writings which she calls her Holy Scriptures. She determines what writings are to be put in this class and by the power of the Holy Ghost dwelling in her she interprets them. She teaches her children the faith which she has received from the beginning and she cites her Holy Scriptures as a witness to it. For the Holy Scriptures (or the Word written) and the Sacraments (or the Gospel in action) are the two living witnesses spoken of in Revelation to the Church's utterance. There is also this further difference between the Church and Denominational-ism. The Protestant believes the whole of Revelation is made through a book, and he seeks to discover what the writers intended to say. The Churchman, on the other hand, believes that religion is founded on Christ, that the Church is the organ of its transmission, and that by the Holy Spirit within her, she seeks to discover, not what the writers intended to say, but what God as their Author intended to say. She shows her children that such a reasonable interpretation can be placed upon these Holy Writings as will corroborate her teaching and show that she is faithful to her trust. In our day there has been a more scientific investigation concerning the origin of the Books of Holy Scripture than ever before. The Church has no opposition to the investigation of science in any department. Nothing has so far been demonstrated that affects the dogma she has declared essential. We may leave the higher criticism, which is so called because it concerns itself chiefly with the upper part or surface of Holy Scripture, to pursue its way, sure that nothing it can discover concerning the origin of the books or the method of their compilation can ever affect their real meaning which the deeper school of Scriptural exegetes, following the traditions of the Church, enlightened by Sacramental grace and living in the sphere of the Divine illumination, have made known.
In respect of another matter of some concern, you must be aware that the progress of the Catholic Revival has been greatly forwarded in England by certain attacks which have lately been made upon it. The discreditable sources from which these have arisen and the means resorted to have greatly aroused Churchmen in defense of their inherited rights.
The attempt to bring about parliamentary interference in the way of Church legislation has signally failed. The high Churchmen, true in their inherited principles of loyalty to the Prayer Book and obedience to the Episcopate have appealed to the Archbishops for protection. It is certainly a very great gain toward the readjustment of the relations of the Church and State that the Archbishops declared their intention to hear the appeal thus made them irrespective of the decisions of the state courts. We can sympathize with our brethren in England, oppressed by the State, in their endeavor to regain their right of self-government. But we must also congratulate ourselves that the Church in America is free from state patronage and state influence. We may also congratulate ourselves that our predecessors eliminated from the American Prayer Book the so-called Ornaments Rubric which in England has caused so much discussion. In determining the question of lawful ceremonies and ritual we are not obliged to plunge into the doubtful quagmire of archjeological research and legal disputation as to the year referred to by the Rubric, or consider what was the use in the second year of King Edward VI.
Our Church law on these matters as a happy consequence of the elimination of this Rubric from our Service Book rests on the broad ground that we are an integral portion of the one Holy Catholic Church and all its glorious heritage is ours. In the interpretation and application of the Book of Common Prayer therefore we are to be governed not by any one of the divisions which the sins of man have made, but by the mind and spirit of that whole Church which Christ made and of which we declare ourselves a part. Now the mind of the Catholic Church concerning the principles of worship, ceremonial, and ritual have been clearly expressed in her universally received customs. She has everywhere had a service, liturgical, ceremonial, ritualistic, and in her Eucharist-sacrifice used vestments, lights, incense. God had so revealed His will and the principles of conducting public worship to Moses in the old dispensation, and our Lord took in like manner St. John up into heaven and revealed them to him again in the new. They are the same principles in both dispensations because God is the same. As the Jewish Church followed the directions given to Moses, so, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the Christian Church conformed her worship to the heavenly revelation made to St. John. Persecuted as Christ's Church was in the early centuries and driven into catacombs and hidden places, and doubtless fearing lest her rites might be confounded with the worship of heathendom, she could not at first array herself in the glory that belonged to her and bear witness to the glory of heavenly worship. While therefore it is essential in matters of doctrine and Church government to show that they have the mark of the earliest antiquity upon them, it is not so in respect to the Church's devotion of the accompaniments of her worship. The test of primitive antiquity belongs to doctrine, but not in the same degree to worship. When the Church became free from the oppression of the State and was allowed to manifest herself as Christ's kingdom on earth, then, under the illuminating guidance of the Holy Ghost, she laid under contribution all that man's genius in the way of architecture and music and beauty could do to set forth the homage due to her Lord. So that we find as the result of God's declared will in the Old Testament and the New, that the Church under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, has, however much she may have become divided in other matters, been one in the great principles of a service, liturgical, ornate, choral, ceremonial, ritualistic, a service made beautiful by lights, vestments, incense, and devotionally inspired song.
THANKFUL THAT WE IN AMERICA ARE FREE FROM STATE CONTROL AND THE PERPLEXING LIMITATIONS OF THE ENGLISH RUBRIC, THAT OUR PRAYER BOOK HERE IS TO BE INTERPRETED IN CONFORMITY WITH THE TRADITIONS OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF CHRIST, AS ORDINARY, OUR OFFICIAL RULING IS, THAT THE EUCHARISTIC VESTMENTS, MIXED CHALICE, WAFER BREAD, EASTWARD POSITION, LIGHTS ON THE ALTAR OR BORNE IN PROCESSION, AND INCENSE ARE THE ALLOWED USAGE OF THE DIOCESE OF FOND DU LAC.
We need not to tell so well instructed a body of Clergy, that, following ancient precedent, Incense is used in the Divine Office at the Magnificat and in the Holy Eucharist at the Introit, Gospel, Offertory, and Canon. Nor do you need to be taught that generally by its Scriptural meaning it symbolizes prayer. As applied to things, like a building, or an Altar, or a book, it denotes their consecration to our Lord's service. As applied to persons it declares that blessed evangelical truth, that we are accepted in all we are and do, only by the application of the merits of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. In introducing this Christian symbol into your Churches our suggestion is, that first your people, being instructed, should desire it on their part, and next that it be confined at first to the great festivals.
IT IS ALSO OUR RULING THAT THE BLESSED SACRAMENT MAY BE RESERVED FOR THE SICK. A careful examination of the Rubric at the end of the Communion service shows that its intention was not to forbid it, and the legal construction shows that, according to the principles of statutory construction, it does not do so. The directions in the Communion for the sick, where the Priest is to comfort the sick, if he cannot receive by instructing him to make a spiritual Communion, does not forbid the Priest to exercise his right to bring to the dying the Sacrament if he desires to do so. Nearly 700 physicians in England have petitioned the Archbishop that this may be done. What modern science is thus claiming as a necessity, we, who have also the spiritual welfare of our people at heart, should be most ready to grant. Let love do all it can for the sick and dying. Had the Church done this, we question whether Christian Science would have made the progress it has. Wherever also your people wish the anointing prescribed by St. James, you know that the oil is consecrated yearly by us, and none need be without that authorized means of obtaining God's blessing on the means used for the body's recovery or the comforting grace it brings to the soul. As Christ loved the poor and sick and suffering, let the Church go forth on her mission, wanting in none of her divine gifts.
During the past year, the Church has lost its revered and beloved Primus, the Right Reverend John Williams, D.D., LL.D., so many years Bishop of Connecticut. It scarcely becomes us to attempt an estimate of his signal virtues or his intellectual ability or the rank which will hereafter be assigned him amongst the greater Bishops of the century. He was noted among his brethren for his wide learning, real scholarship, perspicuity of judgment, and great practical wisdom. His daily life was shrined in apostolic simplicity, and he gave with hidden hand most largely of his substance. He drew young and old to him by a singular geniality and the warm-hearted sympathy of his character. In the early years of my episcopate when much needing in difficult matters wiser counsel than mine own, it was to him I specially turned as a son might turn to his father. How generously at his own personal inconvenience he placed the treasures of his garnered wisdom and practical foresight at my disposal, I can but feebly express. We cannot feel that the Church Militant really loses when the Master calls his servant home. Yet the American Church will always treasure and guard his memory and revere among her greatest sons his honored name. May he rest in peace and advancing felicity in God's good Kingdom of the just.
Turning now to a review of our Diocese and its progress during the last year; we have continued cause of thankfulness for its developing prosperity. Our parishes and missions have never been so completely filled as they are to-day. There are only two missions which are not supplied with regular services, and these we expect will not be long vacant. Though there have been some changes in our clerical staff, more this year perhaps than usual, yet their places have been supplied. The clergy are more submissively recognizing that success is intimately connected with steadfastness in our fields of labor, and the laity that God's blessing specially rests upon His Church in correspondence to their loyalty to their leaders and unity among themselves.
We have been met everywhere in our late visitations with the prevailing spirit of hopefulness and a freshly developed enthusiasm for the welfare of the Church. And we must here again formally thank the Diocese for its loving offering of a Pastoral Staff on the occasion of our tenth anniversary, and all the officers of the Diocese for their cooperation with us in our efforts for its development during the past ten years.
In conclusion, dear brethren, let us address ourselves to some practical measures. We commend to your attention the report of the committee to whom was referred the revision of the canon respecting our missionary organization. After a consultation with some of the older members of the Diocese, we find that there is a feeling that the division of the Diocese into three Archdeaconries or convocations would be useful. The duties of the Archdeacons would be to visit the various Parishes and Missions and see that the property was in good condition, find what portion of it, personal or real, belonged to the Diocese, see that the real property was secured by deeds, that the books and registers were in good order, bring the subject of Diocesan Missions to the people's attention, and perform such other functions as they might be authorized to do by the Bishop, not inconsistent with the rights of the Rector or Priest in charge.
So dividing the Diocese it would be practicable for the Clergy of each Archdeaconry to meet together once a year, and it is thought that this increased intercourse amongst the brethren would be a help and an encouragement to them in their labors.
We must urge upon both Clergy and Laity the necessity of making more personal effort on behalf of our own Diocesan Missions.
In proportion to what we have done in our own Diocese we can but think that we have given nobly towards the general Church. Sometimes the amount given by the Diocese to the Church at large, apart from that raised by the Woman's Auxiliary, has been quite as large or nearly so as what we have raised for ourselves.
We are unwilling to conclude without a word of exhortation to our Clergy. You have often, we know, hard burdens to bear. A Priest's life is one of many trials. You will again and again be assaulted by the temptation to leave your work for what may seem a more promising field, but if God has called any of us to some special sacrifice he has called us to a special reward. "Tarry ye the Lord's leisure."
With increasing devotion in courage and faith let us press on the Kingdom.
To you, my dear brethren of the Laity, let us put the following questions:
Are you striving more fully to enter into the rich heritage you have received from your spiritual forefathers? Every instructed Churchman becomes a power in his community. We may all differ in unessential matters amongst ourselves, but we should stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart in all Church work. You have received an anointing from on high and are Kings and Priests unto God. It will be by the example of your own lives, consecrated and sealed as they are in Confirmation, that you will draw others to the Church. The characteristics of a Churchman should be, his manliness, high sense of honor, integrity in his dealings, sobriety in his speech, beauty of his family life, intelligent patriotism, humility before God, and love of His worship.
Let us ask, do you give of your means as you might in support of your Master's service? Do you give as a matter of principle? Do you give in proportion to what you expend upon your own comforts and personal luxuries? Have you found it to be a pleasure to give to God? Do you give with generous hearts? Have you provided for the support of your Parish by some provision for it in your wills?
You must bear with us, dear brethren of the Clergy and Laity, if we press your responsibilities and these questions home upon you to-day. We do it with a deep feeling of our own infirmities and shortcomings, yet with great trust in your loyalty and love.
Asking ever your indulgent consideration, and a remembrance in your prayers, we commend you to His dear keeping, and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, who maketh all His servants to be of one mind in His house.