DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY:
PEACE be with you. May the Grace of God unite you more and more to Christ and to one another, and fill you with Divine Love and zeal for His service!
Every year seems more fruitful of blessings, and encouragement for the future. Every year seems to bring us nearer and closer together and fill us with new inspirations.
The call of God grows louder and louder as His Providence opens new vistas of service. The work is large. Time is pressing. We must be up and doing. It is the accepted hour for fresh consecration, the day of renewed self-sacrificing devotion.
May the Holy Spirit bless this Council and guide you in your deliberations for the Church's welfare.
In the year 1909, I shall have been your Bishop for twenty years, and completed the fiftieth year in the priesthood. I shall have been a Bishop in Wisconsin for a longer time than any of my predecessors in the Dioceses of this state. We Bishops are exposed to a strain of labor of a peculiar kind, which tells upon the nervous system as no other professional work does, especially in these poor Dioceses. This Diocese has had devoted Bishops and a remarkable development. It would be a noble work in return for what God has done for us, if we churchmen could unite in an effort to secure by my anniversary a suitable Episcopal Endowment Fund. We know it is in the hearts of many of you to do this, and we hope that the thank-offering then to be made by gift or pledge may be worthy of our standing as churchmen and a real token of our gratitude to God.
THE GENERAL CONVENTION
During the last year, my duty called me to attend the General Convention at Richmond. By the Convention five amendments to the Constitution received a preliminary assent. It is required by our Constitution that these amendments should be made known to each Diocesan Convention and then reconsidered at the next General Convention. The Church requires for any change in her Constitution a delay of three years, and that notice should be given to every Diocese. It implies that the minds and judgment of every Diocese should be formally expressed. In our hasty way of legislation not only is this overlooked, but our diocesan rights are ignored. We want to know what these amendments are to so solemn a compact as is the Constitution. I believe that the General Convention, which is a popular body affected by waves of feeling and political excitement, is often wanting in the solemn deliberation and learning which may be found in our diocesan bodies. Our own Diocese is not influenced by its wealth, God has blessed it with poverty; but for a body of instructed laymen and scholarly clergy it is not surpassed by any. Its opinion should have weight with the Church. I recommend that the five changes in our Constitution relating to a preamble to our Constitution, to suffragan bishops, the trial of a bishop, etc., as well as the Canon XIX, be referred to a committee to report to our next Council.
THE UNCTION OF THE SICK
At the General Convention a committee was appointed to prepare an Office for the Anointing of the Sick. We have the Scriptural authority for this in the New Testament in the Epistle of St. James, where St. James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, gave order concerning its administration. Our reformers placed an Office for this purpose in the first reformed prayer book. It was lost by subsequent Puritan influence. Its absence has been in a measure supplied by action of individual bishops. It has ever been the custom of this Diocese, established by my predecessor and continued by myself. The present action of the Church is confirmatory of the wisdom of this action and will provide for general future use. In our day the loss of Unction has been witnessed by the rise of the sect called Christian Science. It is only another instance of the loss by the Church of some neglected doctrine or practise by a great truth becoming obscured. Christ came to redeem and restore both our bodies and souls through union with His Incarnate Nature. As Christ provided by sacerdotal absolution for the healing of the Christian soul when it falls into sin, so He provided a means for the restoration of the body when it falls under the power of disease. There are the remedies the physician applies, and there is the restoring life-gift of God, by a blessing on the means properly used, and help bestowed through prayer and by Anointing. Unction thus comes in our sickness to comfort, assure, and cheer the soul, to help it to a recovery or to smooth its passage to the other world.
CHANGE OF TITLE
Another action of the late Convention was the permission given to print an edition of the Book of Common Prayer, eliminating the name "Protestant Episcopal" from its title page. This action was taken chiefly at the instance of our foreign missionary bishops, who, laboring in foreign countries, found the title "Protestant" a hindrance to their work. "Protestant" rightly understood is a good term. It means we protest against the additions made by Rome and all the subtractions Sectarians have made from it. But it has received an evil interpretation from those who reject the Apostolic government and the Church's teaching. It is to be hoped, therefore, that a general and non-partisan movement will be made at the next General Convention for the eliminating of this title and so make the editions of the Prayer Book uniform at home and abroad.
THE CANON NOT AN "OPEN PULPIT"
A word of explanation may be made concerning an addition to one of our general Canons which relates to persons, "not ministers of the Church, officiating in any congregation therein." It is not an open pulpit provision. According to the Canon as previously existing, no one was allowed to officiate who was not duly licensed or ordained to minister in this Church. The addition made to the Canon at the last Convention allows the Bishop to license Christian laymen to make addresses on special occasions. It is to be noted that only the Bishop can do this, that the persons licensed must be Christian men, that all these can do is to make an address--not deliver sermons--and that it must be on special occasions, i.e. one other than those of the Church's service. As legally construed the Canon was harmless, but this amendment has, however, been construed in some of our Dioceses as to allow sectarian ministers on ordinary occasions to preach in our pulpits. This interpretation, I believe, is contrary to the Faith as our Church has received it. It is unconstitutional. For the Canons and Ordinal of our Church allow in the ministry those only who have been examined and approved by the Standing Committee of the Diocese, and ordained by Bishops according to the form set forth in our Prayer Book. It is unconstitutional to allow Bishops by a mere license to put any one not so authenticated and ordained, to preach his own ideas in our pulpit, and act as religious instructor to our people. It does no good to any one, the sectarians or churchmen, and it is not within the province of a Bishop to authorize a layman to preach.
It has been said in reply that the Bishop can license a Lay Reader, but the Lay Reader is a confirmed communicant, and moreover he can only read and does not preach sermons of his own composition, but those already approved of by our Church, while the sectarian minister, who might be asked to preach in our pulpits, is pledged to the promulgation of doctrines which the Church repudiates. It is true that a Bishop gives a license to a Deacon to preach, but the Deacon preaches by virtue, not of the license, but of his ordination. For each one of the three orders of the ministry represents in a special way the three offices of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.
The characteristic of the Episcopate is its governing power, that of the Presbyters is its priestly office, that of the Deacon is that of the prophet. The license, therefore, given by a Bishop to a Deacon, does not confer an extra power by license, but is rather in the way of restriction; just as the Priest has an inherent right to absolve, but may be restrained in the exercise of this office to persons and places by license.
The amendment as it has been misused is thus seen to be of an unconstitutional, untheological, un-churchly, and dangerous character. It has needlessly disturbed the Church, been unsettling to many, led to secessions, been of no advantage to the spiritual life, or helped the cause of Christian fellowship.
We earnestly hope that the remonstrance against this amendment will be so vigorous and widespread as to lead to its speedy amendment or repeal. Why should our Church be rent in twain? Is not the preservation of union and peace among ourselves our first duty?
THE PRO-ROMAN MOVEMENT
Let me bring before you another matter: During the past few years an agitation has begun, though supported by no weight of authority or learning, in favor of a corporate union with Rome. The great Catholic movement within the Anglican Communion has had for its "terminus ad quern" the revival within the Church of the Catholic Faith and practises enshrined in her Book of Common Prayer. It was but natural with the movement's progress that the Anglican Communion should realize that she was not a church complete in herself, but one of a group of Communions which together made up the Holy Catholic Church militant.
In the divided state of Christendom persons began to pray for a restoration and recognition of Christian fellowship with both the Eastern Orthodox branches and the Roman Latin one. But so far as union with Rome is concerned, she, rejecting the advances made by pious individuals, like Pusey and Lord Halifax, has steadily raised barriers which render the project of a reunion an impossibility. She has added new dogmas to the faith and denied the validity of our Orders. An impassable gulf apparently divides us from Rome.
Along with the Eastern Orthodox Church, we differ now from Rome in our form of Church government; in our Rule of Faith; in matters of doctrine; in our church discipline and in our form of worship.
The Church of Rome presents to us an absolute monarchial form of government of which the Pope is the Head, claiming to be the source of all jurisdiction, the appointee of all Bishops, without whose concurrence no legislative action can take place, and without communion with whom none is in the Church. This is not the ancient Catholic Faith. For Saints, recognized to be such by Rome, have lived and died out of the Roman Communion. The Papacy cannot be proved by Holy Scripture as interpreted by the Fathers. The Fathers in their interpretation of the passage in XVIth Chapter of St. Matthew refer "the Rock" to Christ or the confession of His Divinity, and while some hold that a special office in the Apostolic College was given to St. Peter, it was a personal gift which had no successor. If we are as Catholic-minded Churchmen governed by the Fathers' interpretation of Holy Scripture, we shall not submit to the modern monarchial Papacy.
HOW WE DIFFER FROM OUR ROMAN BRETHREN
Again, Rome has, as an essential element of its Rule of Faith, the infallible utterance of the Pope, who, apart from General Councils, claims when teaching the Church, to be infallible. The action of the ancient Church, in resorting to General Councils in time of need, and not to the supposed infallibility of a Pope, shows that it did not know it to exist. I do not know of any Father for the first six hundred years who explicitly says that the Pope is infallible. How modern this doctrine is, may be shown from an extract from Keenan's Roman Catholic Catechism, put forth by authority of Archbishop Hughes. "Is the Pope Infallible?" is the question. The answer given is, "No, this is a protestant invention." This was the authorized teaching of the Roman Church in 1850. Believing that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church to enable it to preserve by definitions the revelation given in Christ, but not to add to the Faith once delivered, in the interests of a true Catholicity we reject as dogmas that of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and the infallibility of the Pope.
Again believing that Christ made on Calvary a full satisfaction to God for sin, we also reject the popular doctrine of a penal and suffering purgatory where souls for forgiven sins must pay a penalty to satisfy a debt still due to the Justice of God. Our Heavenly Father's justice does not need any further satisfaction than Christ made, and man is incapable of making any. The souls of the Faithful, having knowledge of their acceptance, are in peace and felicity, but as imperfect, they need a remedial purification for their attainment to the life of Glory and the Beatific Vision.
In our discipline, we allow of married clergy, and believe it has tended to godliness, and while offering the blessing of personal absolution to every one, we leave it to the conscience of each person to use it as he finds best.
In our worship, we give the Blessed Sacrament after the method of the ancient and undivided Church for the first one thousand years, in both kinds, and we use in our Liturgy a language understood by the people. Thus we keep, while admitting our own imperfections, the ancient way.
THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION'S REVIVAL
While in the last century the Holy Spirit has presented the issue to our Communion whether it would recover its true Catholicity or sink back into a rationalizing Protestantism, our Church, under God's guidance, has progressively, with emphasis, declared its choice of Catholicity. She has again put on her beautiful garments, reordered her worship, developed her saintly life, and gone forth with an enthusiastic missionary spirit. While, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit, having presented to Rome, through her own children, the issue whether she would return to ancient Catholicity or continue Papal, she has more and more rejected that Catholicity in favor of a temporal power, a monarchial papalism which has been obviously the development of forgeries, a worldly spirit, the love of power, and been the chief cause of the loss of unity and the division of Christendom.
Why should American Catholics be called to support the papal court, when the Italian government guarantees its independency and grants it six hundred thousand dollars a year?
UNION WITH ROME IMPOSSIBLE
It is as foolish a conception that the Anglican Bishops would ever give up their recovered freedom and place themselves again under the tyranny of the Papacy, as that our blacks would vote themselves back into slavery; or England's free people tear up their Bill of Rights and go back to Tudor despotism. The Anglican Church and Rome can never be united so long as the Papacy continues as it is. Reunion is impossible. Individual secession, involving as it does the denial of our most certain Orders and sacraments, and the desertion of our posts, is the resort only of faithless souls and the most grievous of spiritual sins.
Say not, the struggle nought availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
THE FAITH AND SCIENCE
Again, in our day, the Catholic Faith has been challenged by science and what has been called the "Higher Criticism." There is a great difference between what science has discovered in the realm of Nature and that system of interpretation of Scripture which is called "Higher Criticism." There is nothing modern science has discovered which affects the Christian dogmatic teaching any more than the discoveries of science in the sixteenth century. Persons once thought that if the Copernican theory of our Solar system was found to be true and the earth had a daily revolution, then the Scriptures were thereby proved to be untrue. But as the discovery was found not to affect the Christian religion or its dogmas, so the discovery of modern geologists that the world was not made in six days does not affect the Christian Faith. The Bible never said it was made in six days of twenty-four hours. Again: the glorious discovery of the Law of Evolution in the last century has only gone to show the method in which the Divine Mind developed the present organization. It has added a proof that the progressive and intelligent development seen in the Universe is the result of an omnipotent power and intelligent Will. If there is thus an intelligent and omnipotent power, no intelligent theist can object to the possibility of miracles. We find, therefore, no real opposition between the ascertained facts of science and the revelation in God's Word.
THE HIGHER CRITICISM
Concerning the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament Scriptures; there has been much study concerning its formation, just as there has been concerning the formation of the material world. In regard to the Scriptures, it is immaterial whether the early chapters of Genesis are historical or allegorical. It is immaterial whether there was one Isaiah or two; whether the Pentateuch was written by Moses alone, or by the aid of several others. What as Christians we reject is any theory that casts doubt on the validity and truth of Our Master's teaching. We cannot, for instance, accept the theory that the Patriarchs were fictitious beings when Our Blessed Lord based His argument of the immortality of the soul on the real existence of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We cannot believe that the accounts in Deuteronomy of the establishment of a Tabernacle in the Wilderness was a fiction written up after the return to Babylon. We believe on Our Lord's authority that there was an actual Deluge, that David was the author of the 110th Psalm, and that, through Moses, God revealed the Law.
In respect of the New Testament, the tradition and consciousness of the Catholic Church bears witness to the authorship of the Gospels and the truthfulness of their record. The Holy Ghost dwells in the Church, and we must censure those, who, rejecting its traditions, seek to learn the teaching of Christ, from persons living outside the sphere of the Church's Divine illumination. The Holy Scriptures can only be rightly understood by those who are living members of the Holy Body in which the Holy Spirit dwells, who is the author of those Holy Writings. It is only by the saints the writings of the saints are comprehended. Thus there are two kinds of Biblical scholars--the merely intellectual, who criticize the Bible like any other book, and the spiritually illuminated, who know it to be the awful and profound Word of God. Only the latter are true scholars; the opinions of the others are of no value.
THE GOSPELS AND ST. JOHN
Concerning Our Lord's life; it could not be written after the fashion of modern historical research. His life was divine, marvelous, sublime. There could be no data given, by mere record of eyewitnesses, which would enable any person unassisted by the Holy Ghost to write it. For the Holy Gospels are no less than the life of God upon the earth, written by His Holy Spirit. St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, being divinely illuminated and controlled, set forth, unconsciously to themselves, the kingly, prophetical, and priestly offices of Christ. They wrote of Christ, but Christ by His Spirit wrote through them. They declared His Messianic offices, His public and the official side of His life. St. John reveals the awfulness of His Godhead and His relation to His Father. The author of the Fourth Gospel had necessarily a peculiar and special training and enlightenment, and could have been none other than the disciple who leaned on Jesus' bosom and to whom was revealed Christ in Glory. The Fourth Gospel was necessary, to complete the Revelation of the Incarnate Son of God, of whom no mortal could by earthly wisdom reveal the height or breadth or length. O Marvelous Mind of Infinite Love. O wonderful revelation of Infinite Holiness. O Burning Bush of Divine Wisdom. Put we our shoes off our feet and bow we down to Christ in the Gospel. Far away be the disputing of the unilluminated and unspiritual. Silent be the din of controversy and novelties of these latter and evil days. Hushed be the sounds of Earth, the babblings of the schools, the noise of all passing and fleeting things. Hushed be all the rebellions of mind and heart, that we may as children listen to the Word of God that abideth forever.
THE TWO ANTAGONISTS OF SOCIALISM AND MODERNISM
In the latter days, the Church of God is. assaulted by two forces, one in the political sphere and the other in the religious world. These two are known as "Socialism" and "Modernism." It does not belong to me here to treat of the former. It is a rising popular and political force. It is divided into two schools, one of which calls itself Christian Socialism. Both have a common basis, however, in their belief, and they have both popular arguments in their favor. Socialism appeals to our sympathies by its proposed relief of the burdens of the poor and laboring classes. It asks for the government ownership of all the chief productions of wealth. In the claimed advantages to be bestowed upon the many, however, it minimizes the rights of the individual. It can only accomplish the ends it seeks by a large surrender of individual rights and the elevation of some "man on horseback."
It thus singularly foreshadows the uprising of the last and great final Anti-Christ, a counterfeit Christ, who, filled with philanthropic ideas, promising the improvement of mankind, will demand for their accomplishment an imperial and tyrannous power. The Anti-Christ will pose as a great reformer and favor a morality of his own. He may be a prohibitionist but in favor of easy divorce, a bestower of old age pensions, and a chloroformer of the insane and confirmed criminals, an eight or six hours a day for the laborer, and a limitation of the accumulation of wealth, a worship of nature and not of a personal God and a practical disbelief in a future. I will only, here, point out that the Christian religion, while it aids civilization, does not make civilization its end. The Gospel has a higher end than to save man individually, nor did Christ come by His religion to make this world a good world. He came to evolve a new world out of this present one, and one that should be filled with righteousness and last forever. This new world is His mystical Body, the holy Church; and as He said, after having done His work in the World, "I pray not for the World, but for those Thou hast given Me." Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it, and it is by the creation of the Church God's wisdom is manifested in creating and His Glory declared by its final result.
"Modernism" in theology is a revival of cultured paganism. It rejects everything that cannot bear the tests of experiment and of modern historical methods. It shuns or does not accept the supernatural. In its critical phase, it rejects the historical value of the Gospel of St. John. The historical Christ fades away before its solvents. It comes to reject the historical Christ as He has been presented to us in the Church and replaces it by a distillation of His doctrines which it calls the essential Christ. It rejects the Church's definitions concerning Christ's deity, His two Natures, two Wills and one Person. It argues for a morality without a real Christ or effective sacraments uniting us to Him. It has much of rhetorical fervor about the elevation of mankind, its dignity and happiness, and is full of philanthropic schemes for man's improvement.
Dear Brethren, we are thus in the presence, in this twentieth century, of two forces: socialism in politics, and modernism in religion. I believe both have their inspiration in the human spirit, rather than that of the Holy Ghost. Let us as faithful men hold fast the Faith once delivered, undisturbed by modern criticism, in trustful faith and looking for the glorious and triumphant coming of Our Lord.
THE DIVISIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Again: the sad divisions of the Western Church gave rise to the Protestant system. The term "Protestant" has originally a good signification. I would not deny that the Reformation was forced on by the evils existing in the Latin Church. Cardinals and Councils had again and again cried out for a Reformation in the Head of the Church and its members. Refused and repressed, an explosion was the necessary consequence. It would have come if a Luther or a Henry VIII had never existed. There was indeed a great difference between the Revolution which took place in the northern part of Europe, and the Reformation of the Church, by the Church, in the Church, which took place in England.
In England, the continuity of the Church and the Catholic Faith, the priesthood and the sacraments, were preserved. It is an idle, unscholarly statement that the Church in England began, or was founded, by Henry VIII. The Church of Christ was founded in Britain early in the second century, independently of Rome. The two came into unity, and the Church of England became part of the system of Western Christendom. Finding itself politically and otherwise oppressed, in the sixteenth century, along with the great Eastern Churches, it rejected the Papal jurisdiction as being of divine right. No separation took place, however, until the time of Queen Elizabeth, when the Pope called on his followers to withdraw and so began what is now known as the Roman Catholic Church in England.
The Church, thus reformed and free from Rome, found herself, however, assaulted by Puritanism, which soon expressed itself in various sects. Persons who were once members of the Church went out from her and formed sectarian bodies by themselves and are known as Independents or Congregationalists, Unitarians, Baptists, Methodists, and others. Thus all these who were the Church's children have, upon various grounds, strayed away from her. We do not mean to say that the Church was without fault. But breaking away from the authority of the Church, they took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was the sole basis of the Faith. The fact that printing was not invented till the fifteenth century, and therefore it could not have been in the hands of the people generally, is one proof that Christ did not intend that His religion should be so known.
Rejecting the Church's authority and traditions and governing themselves by the individual interpretation of the Scriptures, they became hopelessly divided into various sects, holding beliefs which are absolutely contradictory.
They lost, moreover, the ancient Apostolic government, and so have no longer an Apostolic priesthood. It is not illiberal to say they have not what they do not claim to have. We love them as fellow-Christians should love one another; but see what they have lost, and their efforts to regain a liturgical service and the Christian Year show this. Rejecting the sacramental system of the Church, they regard the sacraments, such as they have, merely as types, seals, pledges, signs of Christ. And in this, unconsciously, they go back to Judaism, which was a system without sacraments, but had only signs and pledges of the covenanted and coming Lord. Living without and not knowing the Church life and power, they do not realize the spirituality of those who devoutly use its sacraments. They know nothing of the special grace given in Confirmation. The absolving, cleansing, invigorating power of sacerdotal absolution, of the awful grandeur, dignity, and power of the Real Objective Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, of the sacrifice of the Holy Altar. Their system, for the most part, ends in the assurance of peace and acceptance, and is influenced by popular statements, such as that we are Romanists or ceremonialists; so they deprive themselves of the fuller gifts of grace with which Christ has endowed His Church and are their Christian inheritance.
O! dear Brethren; I feel most keenly that it is not by word or by argument that we can lure our separated brethren into the Fold. No! It can only be by our lives as living examples of the marvelous truths and grace which we possess. O! let us go forth to live the Catholic Faith in union with our Blessed Lord, and then the Holy Ghost will so speak through us that many shall say, "We will go with you, for we see that you can do us good."
In conclusion let me bid you be of good cheer. Beware of any desponding or panicky feeling. "Panics," as Liddon said "are the last infirmity of believing souls." They are to be deprecated and quelled because "they betray a distrust of the overruling and living Presence of the Lord." Archeological research is establishing the historical accounts of the Old Testament. Science, in the province of Physics, is making a theistic belief in the origin of the Universe a logical necessity. Indifference, no more rife now than in days gone by, is giving way to a recognized necessity of religion as a support of morality. Sectism is losing its hold, under a sense of its failures, and the growing desire for Christian union. One barrier to union and spirituality is the ignorance and jealousy Christians have of one another. How little for example is it known that our Church stands for a true Catholicity, at once conservative and liberal, that our American Episcopacy is unlike that of a foreign derived absolutism, that our Bishops are assisted in their offices by clerical and lay counselors, chosen by the Diocese. How little is the Church's spiritual life known, as seen in so many consecrated souls and religious walking in the way of perfection.
We have our own imperfections, and are embarrassed by our temporary trials. But our Church is being benefited thereby and strengthened and becoming more consolidated. The faith of her children rises triumphantly in the midst of her trials. Her candlestick stands securely fixed. The storm may rise and the waves lash against the ship, but she rides in safety, because Christ is in her, the source of her invincible strength. It is only by increasing prayer to Him that we can evoke His saving power. Go we forth therefore, bravely, courageously, truthfully, knowing Heaven is before us and Christ is at our side.
A PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOP TO THE CLERGY AND LAITY OF THE DIOCESE OF FOND DU LAC
WE extend to you as fellow-workers and brethren our loving salutation in the Lord and send you our Episcopal benediction. May peace, hope, and joy abound in you, and rule your hearts, and unite you more and more closely in Christian fellowship in the service of the Lord.
As no united pastoral letter was issued at the time of the General Convention, we have deemed it not amiss to send you at the beginning of this New Year a word of Christian greeting and encouragement.
It may be well first to notice the missionary enthusiasm and hearty good-will manifested in the late Convention by the large donation of $1,000,000 as the United Thank Offering for the three hundred years of the Church's ministration in our land.
It will cheer you to know, and we hope stimulate you to generous effort, that we have lately secured $10,000 from outside the Diocese as an addition to our Episcopal Fund. This fund has increased from about $9000 when we were consecrated to now a little more than $32,000. We need about double this sum to put the Diocese on a fair financial footing; thus providing for the support of the Episcopate and relieving the burden now resting on the parishes, and enabling them to give more largely to the support of our missionary work. Will not all take part in the effort to raise this fund by present gifts, by life insurance, or by leaving money in their wills?
In the year 1909, I shall have been your Bishop for twenty years, and completed my fiftieth year in the priesthood. I shall have been a Bishop in Wisconsin for a longer time than any of my predecessors in the Dioceses of the State. This Diocese has had a remarkable development. It would be a noble work in return for what God has done for us if we churchmen could unite in an effort to secure by that time a suitable Episcopal Endowment Fund. We know it is in the hearts of many of you to do this, and we hope that the Thank Offering then to be made by gift or pledge may be worthy of our standing as churchmen and a real token of our gratitude to God.
Amongst smaller but hopeful signs at the General Convention, we note that the Russian Archbishop Platon, who ministers in America for the adherents of the Orthodox Russian Church, sent his fraternal greeting to the House of Bishops, to which they responded in courteous and loving terms. These two communions, representing such different nationalities and traditions, can never be brought into organic relation together under one government, but it is possible that recognized Christian fellowship and partially allowed intercommunion, in cases of need, might be established between the two churches. This can only come when it is formally recognized that our Christian Faith is practically the same, though our methods of worship and ceremonies may differ. For the bringing about of such fellowship a better understanding on both sides is necessary, together with that enlarged charity which seeks to minimize rather than intensify differences. For one, we should be willing (it seems to me), on our side, to allow of the omission of the recitation of the Filioque from the creed, and so restore it as originally promulgated by Ecumenical Councils. This would remove the greatest existing barrier to restored intercommunion. More especially it is our duty to accept and teach the dogmas of the Catholic Faith as they have been received from the beginning. But for all this, we must be content to wait and work in patience and faith, if need be for a hundred years. "He that believeth shall not make haste." At the General Convention, a committee was appointed to prepare an Office for the Anointing of the Sick. We have the Scriptural authority for this in the New Testament in the Epistle of St. James, where St. James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, gave order concerning its administration. Our reformers placed an Office for this purpose in the first Prayer Book.
Its subsequent absence has in a measure been supplied by action of individual bishops. It has ever been the custom of this Diocese, established by my predecessor and continued by myself. The present action of the Church is confirmatory of the wisdom of this action and will provide for general future use.
The ministration of Unction testifies to the truth that Christ came to redeem and restore both our bodies and souls through union with His Incarnate Nature.
Protestantism, in its various sectarian forms, seems to have lost sight of this principle. The Church, however, teaches us that "our bodies are to be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed with His Most Precious Blood." And as He has provided by sacerdotal absolution for the healing of the Christian soul when it falls into sin, so He provided a means for the restoration of the body (when it is His will), when it falls under the power of disease. The means for the latter are of a twofold character. There are the remedies the physician applies, for "God giveth medicine to heal our sickness." There is also the purification of the soul by absolution; bringing it into harmony with God, that He may the better work through it to the healing of the body. Then there is the restoring life-gift of God, by the blessing on the means used, and bestowed through prayer and by the Anointing. Unction thus comes in our sickness to comfort, assure, and cheer the soul, to help it to a recovery or to smooth its passage to the other world.
Another action of the late Convention was the permission given to print an Edition of the Book of Common Prayer, eliminating the name "Protestant Episcopal" from its title page. This action was taken chiefly at the instance of our foreign missionary Bishops, who, laboring in foreign countries, found the title "Protestant" a hindrance to their work. This comes from the word Protestant having two separate meanings. It is used by those who, objecting to the action of any society of which they are members, instead of withdrawing from it, record their protest. It is in this sense that the Anglican Church is a protesting Church in that, while remaining part of the Catholic Church, it protests against the claims of the Papal Supremacy. But now the word "Protestant" is a common name for all sects and kinds of religions, including those who do not believe in the Deity of Christ. It is assumed by those who are followers of new teachers like Sweden-borg, Irving, Campbell, Smith, Dowie, and Eddy and who often give their names to their respective sects. The term therefore is admitted to be for us Churchmen a misleading title and has been found a hindrance to our missionary work. This led the General Convention to take this action. It is to be observed that the reason given for the change applies equally to the United States, surrounded as we are by a babel of conflicting sects, with which the popular mind identifies us. It is to be hoped, therefore, that a general and non-partisan movement will be made at the next General Convention for the eliminating of this title and so make the editions of the Prayer Book uniform at home and abroad.
It was a significant feature of the Convention that the Holy Eucharist was twice reverently offered daily by Bishops and Priests assigned to the duty. It marks an increased recognition of the place and function of the Holy Sacrifice in the ministrations of the Church. As a copy of the Holy Scriptures, being the Word of God written, is always placed open in some dignified position in the House of Bishops, so it is fitting that the Word Incarnate, in its most significant action, should be set forth during the sessions of the Convention, in the Holy Eucharist. And we Anglican Catholics, as true believers in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, cannot be too thankful for the action of our Reformers in eliminating from the liturgy "those inexplicable passages which are so hard to reconcile with the doctrine of the Real Presence" and which Roman writers admit "it is not easy to explain." Liturgical scholars have found that there are prayers in the Roman Mass which, if they were in ours, would lay us open to the charge that we did not hold the Real Presence. Our Reformers wisely struck them out. We define not the process while we assert the fact. We know that the whole transaction of Consecration and Communion takes place in the spiritual body of Christ and is governed by its own spiritual laws. In this divine mystery Christ makes the elements what His word declares them to be and communicates Himself to His people.
It is a great spiritual advance, when, as part of the program of our General Convention, the daily Eucharist is thus made a special feature of it. It is a lesson, more potent than any words, of the increasing realization of Christ's abiding Presence in His Church, and the efficacy of this Holy Sacrifice. And it is of this and its place in our worship we would lovingly remind you. In the Holy Communion, we do not merely receive the gift of Christ's Body and Blood. It is first of all a sacrifice and an offering made to God. It is the offering we make to God and His returning gift to us. It is first a sacrifice and secondly a feast upon it. It is the one Gospel service ordained by Christ. If you will devoutly enter into its meaning, you will not desire Morning Prayer as a substitute, for, in the Eucharist, Christ is present as He is not in Morning Prayer. Moreover, the Eucharist sets forth and pleads the Atoning action of Christ on Calvary. In order to obtain the benefits of this Offering we must not only believe that there He made it, but we must plead it in the ordained way and by communion be identified with it. Again, by offering the Holy Eucharist, we specially glorify God. For God is glorified more by the Offering of His Son on Calvary, which we present in the Eucharist, than He is wronged or insulted by all the sins of the world put together. Thus the pleading of Christ's Sacrifice fills the heart of God with joy as nothing else can and brings down special blessings upon every worshiper. Try and make the Holy Eucharist the great act of your Sunday worship.
At the Convention a Preamble to the Constitution was passed. It will have to be ratified at a succeeding Convention before it can be adopted and become part of the Constitution. It omits the term "Protestant Episcopal" and calls our Church, "This American Church" which was planted by representatives of the ancient Church of England. It acknowledges the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God, the record of God's revelation of Himself in His Son, and to contain all things necessary to salvation. It holds the Catholic Creeds, to wit, the Apostles' and the Nicene Creed, to be a sufficient statement of the Christian Faith. It maintains the Orders of the sacred ministry in such form as from the Apostles' time it received the same. It reverently conserves the Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself. The only danger concerning this Preamble, which is otherwise excellent, is that it might be assumed to be a limitation of the Church's doctrines and practises to the things therein stated, and so be applied as a principle of construction to the doctrines as set forth in the Prayer Book and Articles.
Our Church professes in her Creed to be Catholic and as such holds the whole Catholic Faith, as the Bishop of London said lately, "We are Anglican, not Roman, Catholics." We differ from Rome in five great particulars.
I. In our form of Church government.
II. In our Rule of Faith.
III. In various matters of Doctrine.
IV. In our Church discipline.
V. And Worship.
The Church of Rome presents to us an absolute monarchial form of government of which the Pope is the head, claiming to be the source of all jurisdiction, the appointee of all Bishops, without whose concurrence no legislative action can take place, and without communion with whom none is in the Church. This is not the Catholic Faith. Our belief in the Church's government is that it is a confederation of Dioceses, each ruled by its own Bishop, and united in General Councils under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Rome has as an essential element of its Rule of Faith the infallible utterance of the Pope, who, apart from General Councils, claims when teaching the Church to be infallible.
The action of the ancient Church, in resorting to General Councils in time of need, and not to the supposed infallibility of a Pope, shows that it did not know it to exist. Moreover, Rome has added dogmas to the Faith which the General Councils forbade. We believe that the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, is the Revelation of God to man. In what He was, what He did, what He taught, and what He instituted, we have the whole Revelation. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church to enable it to preserve the revelation by definitions of doctrine when necessary, but not to add to the Faith once delivered. In the interests of a true Catholicity therefore we reject the modern dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and the Infallibility of the Pope, while ' maintaining the ancient Faith.
In our discipline and worship, it has been one of the blessings of the Reformation, that, rejecting the medieval supremacy of Rome, the Episcopate has recovered the fulness of its powers and its rightful privileges. It is as foolish a conception that the Anglican Bishops would ever give up their recovered freedom and place themselves again under the tyranny of the Papacy, as that our blacks would vote themselves back into slavery or England's free people tear up their Bill of Rights and go back to Tudor despotism. The Anglican Church and Rome can never be united so long as the Papacy continues as it is.
We may have lost, dear brethren, somewhat of our realization of the Communion of Saints, the sense of the supernatural world, the guardianship of angels, our intercourse with the whole church, the prayers for the Departed, and the love and honor due to the Ever-Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, but in our Book of Common Prayer and our noble Liturgy in the common tongue, and our threefold ministry and Sacraments, the Church is still the Mother of Saints.
A word of explanation may be made respecting an addition to one of our general Canons which relates to persons, "not ministers of the Church, officiating in any congregation therein." According to the Canon no one is allowed to officiate who is not duly licensed or ordained to minister in this Church. Officiating includes preaching. Canon 15 of the edition of 1895 says, "No one who is not a minister of this Church shall officiate either by preaching, reading prayers in public, worship, etc." The Canon not only forbids officiating in the Church building, but in the "congregation." It therefore applies not only to services held in the Church, but when the congregation assembles for regular service in guild halls or parish buildings. The addition made to the Canon at the last Convention allows the Bishop to license Christian laymen to make addresses on special occasions. It is to be noted that only the Bishop can do this, that the persons licensed must be Christian men, all these can do is to make an address--not deliver a sermon, and that it must be on a special occasion, i.e. one other than those of the Church's service. In the language of Bishop Paret of Maryland, "I affectionately ask the clergy of my Diocese that they will help me in trying to conform to the condition with which the Church strives to safeguard the preaching of the Gospel."
In conclusion, taking a wider view of the whole of Christendom, we cannot but notice the movements of the Holy Spirit in its different branches. Protestantism, feeling the force of the attack on its basic principle of "the Bible and the Bible only" as a system of theology, is gradually breaking up, and many earnest men amongst the sects are crying out for a new catholicity as furnishing a better basis for belief. The Holy Spirit has been working in our own communion, presenting to it the issue whether it would become protestant or regain its inherited catholicity as enshrined in the Prayer Book, and there has been a progressive advance in respect to the latter. The Holy Spirit in Western Europe seems to have been pleading with the Roman Communion and presenting to it the issue whether it would return to ancient catholicity or become more papal. By the additions it has made to the Faith, its decree of papal infallibility, denial of Anglican Orders, driving out of the Old Catholics, its response has been increasingly determined in favor of papal-ism. In England our Church is struggling with the necessary readjustment of the relation of Church and State. We believe in time the practical wisdom of the English people will be able to solve the problem. While there are existing differences of theological opinions, yet the oppression of the State, the action of Rome in denying our orders, and the increasing spirituality are drawing all parties together in more loving accord. There is no danger or likelihood because there are parties in it that the Church of England any more than the nation will ever become divided. Churchmen are separated, as the waves of the sea are, but, holding together in their fundamental beliefs and kept united by the Book of Common Prayer, they are one as the ocean is one. Here in America we are free from state control, and questions of ceremonial do not call for separation. The Church has in her offices and Holy Eucharist both a synagogue and a temple form of worship. The Church is the richer for the beautiful evangelical spirit of the old low Churchmen, better for the conservative spirit of those high Churchmen who recognize that Christ gave to us the Gospel in the form of an institution, and something is due to those of broadmindedness who are seeking to state the inherited Christian faith in the terms of modern thought. Each school has its dangers as it neglects the wisdom of the others. But under God we believe our Church is growing in a better understanding of differences and in mutual trust and Christian fellowship. What indeed is most to be desired is the development of spirituality, of devotion to our Blessed Lord, of growth in holiness, of missionary zeal, of the spirit of self-sacrifice, and of love to God and our fellow-men.
May the Holy Spirit bless and keep you and our Diocese in the knowledge of the Faith and in loving conformity to it.
Your Bishop and Father in God,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.