REVEREND AND DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND OUR WELL BELOVED OF THE LAITY:
THE Grace and Peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. May He, the Son of God Incarnate, true God and true Man, consubstantial with the Father as touching His Godhead, Man of the substance of the Blessed and Ever-Virgin Mary, His Mother, make through the Holy Spirit His Presence manifest among us, ruling our hearts and minds in all the deliberations of this Council according to His Most Holy will.
THE POLISH CATHOLIC PETITION
During the year we had the honor of presenting to the House of Bishops a letter from the Right Reverend Dr. Kozlowski, the Polish Catholic Bishop, asking, under the terms put forth by the Lambeth Conference and the General Convention, for Christian recognition and fellowship. Bishop Kozlowski was consecrated in Europe by the Old Catholic Bishops, with whom, in the person of Bishop Hertzog, our Church has long been in friendly intercourse and with whom at the meetings held at Berne and elsewhere our Bishops have met in Conference.
Bishop Kozlowski is an ecclesiastic of recognized scholarship and high standing in the Communion to which he belongs. The self-denying and holy life he leads bears witness to the integrity and nobility of his character. The work among the Poles in which he is engaged is one of great importance and fraught with most fruitful consequences. There are at least twenty if not more ecclesiastics under him, and a staff of teachers and sisters are engaged in his hospital and school work at Chicago. The movement in which he is engaged is of wide extent, and more than sixty thousand Poles have turned to him for spiritual guidance. Responding to the invitation of our church, he asks not for absorption into our Communion, but for Christian fellowship and intercommunion. He stands, as do the Old Catholics in Europe, on the broad principles of Catholicity and the Faith as set forth in the ancient Creeds and recognized Ecumenical Councils. One with us and the Eastern, Russian, and Greek Churches, he repudiates the Roman papacy and its modern additions to the faith. He is reforming the Latin liturgy and putting it into the language spoken by his people. To the objection sometimes made that the Old Catholics in Europe are, in consequence of separation from Rome, in schism, our reply is that the sin of schism in the case of a separation always lies with that party which demands uncanonical and un-scriptural terms for communion; and as modern Rome does this, she is in schism everywhere. It is Rome that is the schismatical body, not the Old Catholics. If ever there was a man raised up by God to do a reforming work in the Roman Church in this Country, we believe he is to be found in this brave, noble-hearted, and sincere follower of Jesus Christ. Of course his work will be subjected to every kind of misrepresentation, and everything that malice and intrigue can effect will be done to hinder it. It needs not only our sympathy and response, but the aid which a rich Church like ours should give. Not being a party movement, it ought to appeal to all Churchmen. It is here in America that the greatest religious struggle for Apostolic order and evangelical truth, against papal error and sectarian loss, is going on, and in helping this brave Bishop we shall most efficiently aid Christ's work. God forbid, that to those who are struggling up out of the mists of medieval darkness and seeking release from the shackles of papal bondage, the voice and the hand that refuses Christian recognition and help comes from our Church.
INTERCOURSE WITH THE EASTERN CHURCH
It has been our privilege during the past year to attend by invitation of his Right Reverence, Bishop Tikhon, Bishop of the Russian Church in America, the consecration of the Churches lately built in Chicago and New York. It was also a spiritual privilege to be with him and take part in their services on Good Friday. We would here bear witness of the more than kindly greetings we received from this holy Bishop and his Clergy. Comparatively little is known by our people of those great Eastern Churches, who have stood for nine hundred years and more as a bulwark against the papacy, and who, however oppressed in parts by Mohammedan rule, have grown to more than one hundred millions of adherents and carried the gospel throughout the northern portion of the Asiatic Continent. While Rome, breaking away from unity by its assertion of the papacy, has lost the northern nations of Europe and England, the East has held Christians in separated nationalities together by keeping to the Apostolic Order of Church government and the inherited Catholic Faith. Her majestic and solemn Liturgy, rilled with the inspired words of Scripture, and antiphones and Cherubic hymns, with interspersed Litanies, which, before the closed Royal doors of the Iconostasis, seem to be storming with their intercessions the Gate of Heaven, reveals to us Westerns with our impaired rites something of the glories of the ancient worship when St. Chrysostom, the golden mouthed, preached, and St. Basil gathered up the liturgical treasures of ancient and apostolic times. Let us hope and pray that the Christian union and fellowship for which our Lord prayed and man's sin has marred, may again be restored. If this is in the Divine Counsels, we humbly believe that the union will be consummated first through established fellowship with the Old Catholics and the East.
"If for one hour Christendom were one, what in that hour might it not achieve!" If this ever comes, it will come, not by the adopting of each other's errors, not by the servile copying of each other's defects, nor yet by agreeing to call diversity agreement, and palpable schism unity. It will come by searching reformation of each communion for itself and by itself; it will come by the turning, "not merely to each other," but of each and all to the common center, Christ.
CHANGE OF CHURCH TITLE
Let us now ask your consideration of the proposed change in our Church's Prayer Book Title. A joint Committee of five Bishops, five Presbyters, and five Laymen was appointed at the last General Convention to report upon this matter. In pursuance of duty it has asked the separate Dioceses in Council assembled to inform the Committee whether it desires "that the name of The Protestant Episcopal Church shall be changed at this time, and if it does so desire, what name it wishes substituted therefor?"
It is well first to notice that there is nothing here proposed that is in any way revolutionary. It is not a question that relates to the government, or polity or doctrine or discipline or worship of the Church. There is nothing involved in it that should cause any alarm or raise any partisan spirit. It is much like the advisability of renumbering the houses of a street, those old numbers by reason of a large addition of residences having become misleading and inaccurate. While certainly it is a subject of interest, it is not a matter of such importance as to cause any apprehension or alarm. If all unworthy suspicions as regarding others' motives and purposes could be laid aside and it could be judged in a plain, practical business way, and as business men would look at a question of this kind, it would not only be settled in favor of a change, but with the development of a more brotherly feeling amongst us all.
In regard to it, we must first make this distinction. We are not seeking to change the Name of the Church so much as its Title. Let me by a common illustration make this distinction clear. You often see on the door of a city residence both the name of the person who resides there and the number of the house. It sometimes happens that the owner, who cannot change his patronymic, is obliged by the law to alter the number of his dwelling. This illustrates the question before us. It is not to change the name properly belonging to the Church, but simply the title or designating number of our residence. Of course, so far as the name is concerned, it is unalterable. It is as when you enter a dwelling house, whose number has been altered. You greet there your friend, the owner, by his own name and are welcomed by him. You say, whatever the new number may be on the front door, "This is the same house, and this the same old friend." In the same way if we readjust the title of the Church, its name will remain as it was before. For as we pass the portal and enter within, we find there Christ's Bride, the Holy Catholic Church. It is the Name officially declared in every recitation of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. It is in "the Communion of the Holy Catholic Church" we pray that we may die, and offering up in Church our praises to God, we sing (hymn 492):
Head of Thy Church beneath,
The Catholic, the true.
Therefore the Name of our Church, the glorious Name which we have inherited and in which we hope to live and die, is the "Catholic Church." All that we are now asked to do is to make the title on the front door of our Prayer Book better correspond with the Name of the Church, the Bride of Christ who dwells within.
There is another preliminary matter which should precede our discussion of the question. The title Protestant Episcopal has already been eliminated from many of our Dioceses. If you look at the Journals of some of our Diocesan Conventions, you will find the name Protestant Episcopal is no longer to be found there. The Title is often The Journal of the Church in such and such a Diocese. In Rhode Island the word "Protestant" has been dropped. It also has been left out of Diocesan Canons and from Bishops' official documents. For there is an admitted right in each Diocese, as a separate unit, of the one Body, thus to regulate its own affairs and nomenclature. Now it is not proposed to interfere with this inherent Diocesan right, but rather to preserve it. If this were commonly understood, we believe a great objection to the change of title would be removed. Churchmen in some Dioceses are extremely wedded to the title Protestant Episcopal. They fear it would distress souls if taken away. They fear its removal would be misunderstood. We can sympathize with them. By all means and in all charity let them retain it. No matter what action is eventually taken by the General Convention, the Dioceses of Virginia and others will still be entitled to place "Protestant Episcopal" on their Journals and to use it in their Canons. It is not proposed thus to disturb the Church or limit inherited Diocesan rights. All that is proposed is that on the title page of the Prayer Book, or where it therein occurs, it should be removed. Now the title page is not, as Canonists have said, a part of the Book any more than the title of a Statute is a part of a Statute. When therefore it is understood that neither doctrine nor discipline nor worship is touched by the proposal, that the name of the Church is unalterable, that the Prayer Book is not to be changed, that the right to use the old title will remain to Dioceses who choose to use it, that the proposal comes from no one party in the Church (Dr. Huntington of New York and the late Bishop Cox having proposed it), and leading low, broad, and high churchmen, having united in desiring it, the reasonableness of a change in our title will commonly be accepted.
This is no new matter for our Diocese. Bishop Brown brought it to the notice of the Council in his very first address in 1877 and said "a time would come when a more exact name would better serve the purposes of truth." The Council whereupon adopted the following resolution, viz.:
"Whereas the name 'Protestant Episcopal' as applied to our branch of the Church Catholic is without that dignity which should characterize its nomenclature among its sister branches, and is comparatively meaningless as indicating its true extent and object, and tends to lower her just estimation and claims, not only among strangers to her Faith, government, and service, but also among her own children;
Therefore be it Resolved: That the Deputies to the General Convention from this Diocese be requested to further and aid any movement which may tend to the removal of this misnomer."
The objections to a rectification are such as these: "We don't like any changes," "we like the old title." This is the common argument of inert conservatism. Conservatism is a true principle and dear to our Church. But there is a distinction between a wise conservatism and a foolish conservatism. A wise conservatism desires to preserve those things which are good in themselves, and are for their own intrinsic goodness desirable. We would not therefore touch the government, doctrines, or discipline of the Church. This is a wise conservatism. But there is a foolish conservatism that says, "I don't like it," "I have not been accustomed to it," "It was not the way I was brought up." This is not only a foolish conservatism, but a selfish one. It is a conservatism that thinks only about one's own feelings, opinions, and ideas. It is "a conservatism," to quote my revered predecessor, "so stiff in resisting change and growth as to lead on to the grave." Now the title Protestant Episcopal has only been used a short time, viz. for about one hundred and thirteen years. It is not the old original family name of the Church. We should not therefore consider our own private wishes or feelings, but, looking ahead and building for the centuries to come, make our title to correspond with our inherited name which declares our ancient and Apostolic descent.
Another objection takes this form: "We are protestants and do not wish to give up the title. Protestantism is a word associated with the ideas of religious liberty and progress. It was used in Reformation times to discriminate Churchmen on the one hand from Romans and the Puritans on the other, and we do not wish to give it up." If indeed the proposal involved any change in our protestant attitude to Rome, we too should be opposed to it. It is because by a change we can more effectively express our opposition to Rome and make our protest more apparent that leads us to favor it. For the word protestant has two significations. It is used sometimes in contradistinction to "secession." Whenever a difference concerning its policy arises in a society, two courses are open to an objector: he can either secede from the society, or remain within it and record his protest. Thus at the Reformation we did not secede from the Catholic Church, but remained within it, recording our protest in our reformed Prayer Book against the errors connected with the papacy. In this sense protestant is a good and noble word, and we would not do anything to alter our position in respect of what we believe to be the unscriptural and uncanonical doctrines of the papacy.
But words in a living language often change their meaning. Protestant in its popular acceptation began to mean something different than when it was used by the Reformers. It was used at one time to discriminate Churchmen from Puritans. When, after King William's accession, the new Bishops in 1689 desired to present an address from the clergy to the crown in which the title Protestant was appended to the Church, the Lower House of Convocation, regarding the Bishops' reasons as unsatisfactory, demurred and expunged it. If then the title was deemed an obnoxious one, much more, with its more developed modern meaning, must it now be so regarded. For it does not now mean the Christian liberty and freedom asserted by the Reformers against Roman tyranny and error, but a rebellion against all authority and the so-called tyranny of all Churches and creeds. Protestantism covers now all those forms of error that are wrecking Christianity, by new revelations, or which by rationalistic processes are sapping the foundations of the faith.
But if we are to give up the title protestant because it now embraces Spiritualists, Mormons, etc., ought we not for the same reason to give up the name of "Christian"? Not so. For "Christian" is the individual name of every baptized follower of Christ, and we are not logically bound to give it up because all baptized followers of Christ do not believe as we do. We do not by the use of it identify ourselves with them in their errors. But the term "Protestant," when applied to a corporate Christian body, does identify it, in the popular estimation, with all those misbeliefs from which by God's Providence we are free. The boasted progress of Protestantism is not that of the Church. The Church regards the Incarnate Son of God as the embodiment of progress, and the priesthood and sacraments as the marks of the true progressive Church. But the progressive protestantism of to-day is like that of the swine in the Gospel (fitting type of our sensual and luxurious age) who, inhabited by demons, made progress indeed, but progress by rushing violently down a steep place and so perished in the waters. This is the kind of progress now covered by the word Protestantism, and do we wish any longer, by retaining a title which has lost its old meaning, to give countenance to it?
Another reason in favor of dropping the present title is that as defining our position it is no longer necessary. However wise it may have been to take it at the beginning of our work in this Country, it is no longer needed. Our protestant position is a secure and recognized one. We differ from Rome in these five points: In Church Government, in our Rule of Faith, in matters of Doctrine, in our Discipline and Worship. We do not believe in the papal supremacy, the papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, the penal fires of purgatory, the doctrine of indulgences, the enforced celibacy of the clergy, enforced confession, the withholding of the chalice, the worship in an unknown tongue. We teach personal responsibility. Our faith is Catholic and Evangelical. We believe in one Mediator and the saving efficacy of the Atonement, the need of conversion by the Holy Spirit, and a dependence on the merits of Christ for our acceptance. The belief in priesthood, altar, and sacrifice and the Real Presence of our Lord as the Catholic Church has ever held, and our Reformers preserved in our Prayer Book, we hold. It is no longer necessary for us to display our antagonism to Rome on our title page than for the Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Methodist bodies to do so. No one can question the protestantism of the Lutheran Body, yet in Germany it has given up its former title of "Protestant" for "Evangelical." If Lutherans can do it without loss to their recognized protestant position, certainly we can.
Another reason that should weigh with us is, that the title Protestant Episcopal is unlike that of any other of the confederated Churches which compose the Anglican Communion. Why should we be peculiar? There is a growing union between all these National Churches, and if the Anglican Church has the great future before it we believe it has, we should for its better usefulness help to make it more uniform.
Another and a practical reason in favor of change is, the losses we sustain by our present title. One of our Bishops said that he had known of many thousands in his Diocese who had come over from England and had joined, not our Church, but the Methodist. Why? These simple people had never heard in England of such a Church as the "Protestant Episcopal," but they had heard of the Methodist Church, and so coming here they entered it. It is the Missionary Dioceses that feel this loss most, and for the sake of the missionary work they ask for a change, a change which cannot hurt the East, but which will greatly help us in the West. The present title hinders also missionary work in foreign countries. Our missionaries find it most difficult to make their position understood. The title is an admitted embarrassment and hindrance. They have said it was so impossible to translate it satisfactorily that they have given up the attempt.
Another reason is, the present title stands in the way of home Christian union. There is a great desire in the hearts of many that Christians should be more united. You cannot expect our separated brethren who have built up strong sectarian organizations ever to become absorbed in what appears to them only another sect. If we desire union we must be willing to give up our sectarian name. We must manifest our charity by making union for our fellow-Christians easier. The term "Catholic," which once roused their prejudice because associated with Romanism, is now freely used in its wider signification. Many educated sectarians are beginning also to adopt our forms of service. They are drawing nearer to us and we to them. From their religious papers we are led to think, while they object to Protestant Episcopal, they have no objection to the title American Catholic.
Again, a change would also help on the union of organic Christendom. The great Eastern Churches with their one hundred million adherents are extending kindly salutations to us. They object to our retaining the Filioque in the creed, not so much as containing heretical doctrine, for it is capable, according to their own teaching, of being interpreted in an orthodox sense, but on account of its uncanonical introduction into the creed. But there is one other thing which stands in the way of more formal recognition and fellowship. In the Council at Bethlehem, the Eastern Church condemned Protestantism as a heresy because it meant to them the doctrines and negations of Calvin and Luther. And our Church in America was supposed to be something different from that of the Church in England in consequence of its employment of this name. A change of title would thus remove one barrier that keeps us now apart.
Further, this present title hinders our general progress and development in America. We live in a time of much religious unsettlement. A cleavage is taking place everywhere between the conservatives and radicals. It is a transition period. The rationalizing school is parting with the Incarnate God, Bible and Creed. The conservative minded are looking for some better assurance of the inherited Faith than their own organizations can give. Here the Roman Church has a great advantage over us. It claims to be exclusively the Catholic Church and sole guardian of the Ancient Faith. Where, they say to inquirers, did you ever hear of a Protestant Episcopal Church in early times. And so we lose persons who, if we took our rightful title, might come to us.
Again, a change of title will remove an almost universal misunderstanding as to our Church. To most Christians outside of our body the Protestant Episcopal Church is looked upon as a body professing Christianity indeed, but with some additions and peculiarities attached to it, in the way of government and worship. It is Christianity plus something else. What is true is, that our government is of Apostolic origin, and our Liturgy and worship is based on Holy Scripture. We stand for the pure, simple, unadulterated Gospel, as revealed by Christ, and for the whole of it. Our title ought not to obscure that claim, and Protestant Episcopal does.
Finally there is another reason which should have weight with us. We agree fully with those who feel we should more than ever, yet with all charity, maintain our true position against Rome. We did not at the Reformation break with Catholicity, but with Papacy. Our Reformers asserted they were forming no new Church nor breaking with the ancient Catholic Faith. It is most important that this our protestant position should be made emphatic. How can we best do this? Cardinal Gibbons, the distinguished prelate, who presides over the Roman Communion in this country, has said, "If they," the Protestant Episcopalians, "think they have any just claim to the name Catholic, why not come out openly and write it on the title page of their Prayer Book?" He says, "You do not do this because you do not dare to openly proclaim what only vainly and privately you call yourselves." He thus throws down the gauntlet. An issue is now raised before the American people which we cannot avoid meeting if we would, and which we can only meet in one way without permanent dishonor and disgrace. If you wish to be on the side of Romanism, then vote against a change. But if. anything of the noble courage and wisdom of the Fathers and Reformers is in you, you will vote for it. The whole matter has been so well summed up by the Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago, in his address, that we will end with his words. He urges a change because the present title is controversial, because it is a mere negation, because it is out of harmony with the nomenclature of the churches with whom we are in communion, and out of harmony with historic Christendom, because it does not fit in with the official language of the Church's creeds and worship, because it is denominational and sectarian, because it is unhis-toric and inconsistent with our constant appeal to history, because it is absolutely misleading, because it is narrow and unworthy of our broad platform, because it is unstatesmanlike and unprogressive, because it is behind the times, because it is a caricature of the grandeur of the historic past, because it is not prophetic of the future that we believe is in store for us; for all these reasons we favor dropping "Protestant Episcopal" at the earliest possible moment.
Dear Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, called of God to bear witness to the Faith of our forefathers, we have no doubt as to what your action will be. If we wish to know what the name ought to be, it is not a difficult problem. We must not begin by thinking what would please our fancy or suit our theological views. We must choose as a matter of principle. We must act on the principle that governs our Anglican Church. We must act on the principles that we have inherited from the Reformers. What did the Reformers when questions arose for decision? They appealed to antiquity. They asked themselves what was the custom of primitive times. What has come down to us from the Fathers?. Our Church stands upon the past. So Christ walked and taught in Solomon's Porch, the only remaining portion of the ancient Temple. Therefore we should ask ourselves what was the name of the Church in the past. What did the Fathers give it? What did the Holy Ghost give it?
The followers of Christ were called Christians at Antioch. That was their name as individuals. The Church of Smyrna and the Church of Thessalonica were local designations. But when the Church extended then we learn, from Fathers like St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius, that its title was the Catholic Church. And so, if we are to be guided by Scripture, antiquity, and the spirit of the Reformers we shall take as our title that of the American Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church in the United States.
Dear Brethren, in concluding, indulge me with a thought in connection with the festival we keep. We are living in the last time or dispensation of the Holy Spirit. As you look around or look back on the history of the Diocese you perceive many encouraging tokens of His Presence. The past has been full of toil and trial, successes mingled with failures, disappointments which have turned to blessings. But the noble lives of those who walked through our former forests and endured poverty and hardness have borne their promised fruit. Many a time they felt the seeming neglect of the richer portion of the Church as they in vain asked for help. Many a time you have felt a harder burden than poverty, and have had your sad hours and dark days. Surrounded by religious indifference and sectarian opposition and half-hearted churchman-ship, no wonder the hearts of Christ's servants sometimes sink. We must beware of the temptations which in such times beset us. Temptations to leave our fields of labor. Temptations to take some lower standard of life. Temptations to advance the kingdom by conformity to the world's ideas of what Christianity should be, or by any other means than those symbolized by the Cross. Lift up your eyes, my brother, look with the eye of faith, and see the field is ripe for the harvest. Lift up your eyes, O toiler, weary and burdened with cares, behold, it is Christ who is coming to thee on the waters. Take courage, O Christian soul, gird thee anew to the contest. The victory is assured to the humbly meek. Heaven with all its glories is before you. Christ the King and Eternal Victor is ever at thy side.