I NEED not stay long to remind you that the Kingdom for the coming of which we are here taught to pray is that kingdom of grace of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head--the kingdom which He is gradually forming by the Holy Spirit from out of this world; and which will increase and prosper until the number of the elect shall have been accomplished. It is that vast company of Christian people dispersed throughout the world, believing and baptized persons, continuing steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and the prayers. To this kingdom are added daily those that are being saved, who become members of the same Church by being built upon the same foundation, by adhering to the same doctrines, and receiving the same Sacraments which have been taught and ministered from the beginning. We do not see the whole of this kingdom. Vast numbers of its members have put off their earthly tabernacle of this body, and have passed into the invisible world. [5/6] But still they are all one with us, a part of this same kingdom, though invisible to the eye of sense. They have for the present passed out of our sight, like a long procession, moving onwards through a winding mountain pass, of which the part in advance is out of the sight of those who follow. But still it is all one. They who are no longer present to our sense are still united with us by the communication of the same Spirit, and by union with the same Head--a union which not even death itself can sever. They who have died "in the true faith of Christ's holy Name" are all safe with Him in Paradise, and will be brought together with Him when He comes in His kingdom.
But what hinders the coming of this kingdom? It is the antagonistic power of the kingdom of Satan, of the kingdom of darkness and of evil. Therefore every one who is a believer in, and really desires the coming of Christ's kingdom, must earnestly labour for the spread of the knowledge of His truth throughout the world. And with these efforts must be united constant and earnest prayer. We are taught everywhere in the Bible that prayer is an effort, a continued and earnest effort. Our Lord instructs us by His own example, as well as by the parables of the friend at midnight and of the unjust judge, that God is well pleased with the importunity of His servants, and that a fervent and sustained petition will win [6/7] the blessing which is denied to a listless, mechanical prayer.
If we regard prayer only with regard to its moral influence upon ourselves, its advantages are very great. He who has acquired the habit of praying earnestly has disciplined himself to concentrated thought, and so has strengthened his intellectual faculties. He has also acquired habits of self-control, decision of character, calmness, unselfishness. But when we regard prayer as an instrument that prevails with God; when we remember that, though but a breath, it is, nevertheless--
"A breath that fleets beyond this iron world,
And touches Him that made it"--
[Tennyson's "Harold," p. 97.]
then does it assume an importance which we cannot contemplate without awe. Let us fix it in our minds as a truth which cannot be questioned by a believer in revelation, that God answers a faithful prayer offered to Him through Jesus Christ, if not always in the way which we most expect, at least in the way which is most expedient for us, and most helpful towards the progress of His kingdom.
With these thoughts upon my mind, I have now to ask your patient consideration of the circumstances which have drawn us hither this morning. The occasion is one of deep interest, full of hope, and pregnant, as I think, with [7/8] blessing for the whole Anglican Communion. We meet together to witness with prayerful sympathy the adaptation of another link to the chain of succession of Bishops representing the Church of England in Jerusalem; not, you observe, of Bishops of Jerusalem. That title belongs exclusively to the Patriarchs of the holy city Jerusalem and of the whole of Palestine. The Bishopric of the English Church in Jerusalem owes its origin to the brother of the present German Emperor, the late King William of Prussia. It appears that King William had from his early youth cherished the idea of amending, if possible, the condition of the Christian inhabitants of the Holy Land, where, as indeed throughout the Turkish Empire, their position was most deplorable. King William's first object was to obtain a union of all Christian powers, with a view to committing the Holy Places in Palestine into Christian hands, without prejudice to the Turkish supremacy in that country. But failing in this his first scheme, he resolved to make an effort alone; and he at length came to the conclusion that Jerusalem, the historical centre of Judaism and of Christianity, was the spot, of all others in the world, on which to exhibit the true unity and catholicity of the Church of Christ.
It so happened that at this time, about A.D. 1840, the Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, which had already planted a mission [8/9] in their behalf in Palestine, was engaged in building a church in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion; and the King resolved to make this, if possible, the centre of a combined effort for promoting Christianity in Palestine and the East. He further made known his wish to endow a Bishopric at Jerusalem, provided that the Church of England would accept his offer, and would send out a Bishop to reside in the Holy City. For this purpose he offered £15,000 as an Endowment Fund. His proposal was warmly recommended by the late Baron de Bunsen, at that time Prussian Ambassador at St. James's, whose ability and learning were very helpful in removing difficulties during the negotiations. Our Queen was favourable to the proposal. The two Archbishops of Canterbury and York at that time (Dr. Howley and Dr. Harcourt), and the Bishop of London (Dr. Blomfield), entered heartily into the scheme; and the late Earl of Shaftesbury brought not only his own influence, but that of his numerous friends, to bear upon the enterprise. It was determined that the Bishop who might be appointed should conduct his administration as nearly as possible according to the laws, customs, and canons of the Church of England; but that he should have power to frame particular rules and orders for the special needs of his mission. It was on February 10, 1840, that the first stone of Christ Church was laid on Mount Zion. But, [9/10] owing to various hindrances, the church was not consecrated until January 21, 1849.
Meanwhile, the preparations went on at home for the appointment of a Bishop; and on November 6, 1841, the Queen's licence was issued for the consecration of Dr. Alexander, a British subject, to be Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland in Jerusalem. The same licence also empowered Bishop Alexander to exercise spiritual jurisdiction in Syria, Chaldaea, Egypt, and Abyssinia.
It was on January 21, 1842, that Bishop Alexander entered Jerusalem; and the first anniversary of that day was dedicated to prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, when, we are told, no less than 9000 parishes observed the day in Prussia.
It is interesting to remember that, according to Eusebius, the first fifteen Bishops of Jerusalem were all of them Hebrews of the circumcision, beginning with James, the Lord's brother. This succession lasted till A.D. 133. Seventeen centuries afterwards, Bishop Alexander was consecrated. He died in November, 1845, and was succeeded by Bishop Gobat, the nominee of Prussia, in July, 1846. He died January 11, 1879, after an episcopate of nearly thirty-three years. Then followed Bishop Barclay, whose death took place in October, 1881, after a brief tenure of little more than two years. Since that time this Bishopric has been in abeyance till now. [10/11] According to the original arrangement, the presentations to this Bishopric were to alternate between England and Germany. But, Germany having declined to continue the payment originally promised to the See, and being unwilling in consequence to nominate to the Bishopric, a new settlement became necessary; and the formal steps for giving effect to this arrangement were not completed until quite recently.
The two Archbishops and the Bishop of London are the Trustees, for the time being, of the Bishopric, and the appointment rests with them; the Mandate for the consecration coming from the Crown. The Treasurers of the Fund are a different body from the Trustees of the Bishopric. The grant which was originally made by Germany towards the support of this Bishopric having now been withdrawn, it has been replaced by two of our Home Societies, the Church Missionary Society and the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, each of which contributes £300 a year. It must, however, be remembered that this money will be paid by them, not directly to the Bishop, but to the Treasurers of the Jerusalem Bishopric Fund. The Societies will have no control over the Bishop. His independence is secured, not only by the mode of his appointment, but also by his own intelligent appreciation of his position and by his own high character. The true interests of our own Church, and of the Orthodox Greek Church, [11/12] will be safe in his hands; nor is there any fear of local or financial pressure being employed to encourage the system of proselytizing amongst the orthodox Churches. Such a system has doubtless been encouraged, and it has gained strength through the lack of that responsible superintendence which will henceforth be exercised by him whom our Church is sending forth this day.
The Bishopric is, moreover, now--happily, as I think--independent also of Germany, and indeed of any foreign influence. It is, in fact, reconstructed upon a sound Church basis, such as I earnestly hope will soon win the approval of all schools of thought in our Church. Let me repeat that the Bishop, nominated for this office by our two Archbishops and the Bishop of London, and approved by the Queen, and now about to be consecrated, will assume no territorial title or rights. At the particular request of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, he will no longer be called Bishop of Jerusalem, as heretofore, but Bishop of the Church of England in Jerusalem and the East. He will, in fact, be a Missionary Bishop, like the Bishops of the Niger, of Central Africa, of Madagascar, of Japan, and others. The German element constituted a difficulty under the old arrangement; and the territorial title assumed by former Bishops, no less than the proselytizing system which prevailed, made the position of the English Bishop in Jerusalem a difficult and questionable one. Not, [12/13] indeed, that they were to blame in the matter. The relations of one branch of the Catholic Church to another in Christendom were not so well understood fifty years ago as they are now; and I am full of hope that, whatever apprehensions may have been felt heretofore by some of the most distinguished and loyal sons of our Church, those apprehensions will disappear as they observe the progress of this Bishopric under its new administration, and that they will at least follow the new Bishop with their sympathies and their prayers.
I may add that the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine has recently written a very remarkable letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the contents of which I have, by favour of his Grace, become acquainted. That letter abounds with expressions of warm affection for our Archbishop, and for the great Anglican Communion of which, in the language of the Patriarch, his Grace is the "Exarch." The Patriarch approves of the proposals with regard to the English Bishopric in Jerusalem. He assures the Archbishop that he is "kindled with a burning desire to see a greater approach to union on the part of the two Churches," namely, the orthodox Eastern Church and the Anglican; and he repeats his earnest wish, already expressed to persons of distinction, both Clergy and Laity, that a duly qualified Bishop of the Church of England should be placed "in the [13/14] Holy City, and not in Beyrout." In all this, the Patriarch is only repeating with additional emphasis the kindly feeling of the Greek Church towards our own communion, which has prevailed for many years past.
I cannot refrain from quoting in this place some weighty words which fell from the late Archbishop Tait, in his Charge delivered at Croydon on August 31, 1880. His Grace says, "The Churches of the East, one after another--Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean, Nestorian--implore our aid. The boon asked of us by some of these communities is, that we give them help to raise themselves by education, and to secure for them that respect from their persecutors which they believe the very name of a connection with England will ensure. Blessed fruit of that great position to which the kindness of God has raised our Nation that even in these remote regions the public opinion of Christian England is not without its force; and that people who are known to have a Clergyman of the English Church among them feel nearly as secure as if they were under the protection of some regular representative of the English State." This consideration alone constitutes a powerful argument for placing an English Bishop in the heart of Palestine, who, sound in the faith, and loyal to the Church which sends him forth, can soar above all party influences and prejudices, and, going forth from Lambeth in [14/15] the character of an independent Missionary Bishop, can direct the energies of our National Church into wise and healthy action, wherever his influence may reach.
There is one other point of view from which I regard the reconstitution of this Bishopric with special interest; I mean the increased influence which, under its new administration, it is likely to exercise over God's ancient people, the Jews. Here, indeed, outside the range of controversy, the prospect is truly bright and hopeful. The attention which the Jews in London, and elsewhere in England, are now giving to Christianity, is a remarkable sign of the times; and it corresponds with that which they are giving on the Continent, in India, in Burmah, and other parts of the world. They are, for the most part, kindly disposed towards the Church of England, both here and elsewhere. The Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, and the Committee of management of the Parochial Missions to the Jews Fund, alike bear witness to this. Nor can we doubt that the numbers of Jews now flocking to Palestine share in this feeling. A few years ago their number in Palestine was about 4000; now they are more than 20,000. Many of them are refugees; many of them are very poor. But there is, I am told, no precedent for the attention which they are now giving to Christianity.
We read that "Jerusalem shall be trodden [15/16] down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" [St. Luke xxi. 24.] and that "blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." [Rom. xi. 25.] These passages carry on the prophetic announcements through our own times, and beyond them, even close to the days of the end. And if the future of the Christian Church is so intimately linked with the future of the Jews, that their embracing of Christianity will be as "life from the dead," then, however distant according to human reckoning that glorious consummation may be, and however slightly it may affect the present generation, it is impossible not to feel that any favourable movement on the part of the Jews may be of the utmost value to the Church, and should be carefully noted and encouraged.
We have risen from having been simply the Church of England to be the great Anglican Communion, co-extensive with our far-reaching Empire. We are thrown into proximity with the Jewish people in all parts of the world. And it should surely encourage us, as Christians, to promote to the utmost the knowledge of Christianity amongst our Jewish brethren, when we remember that they are destined in the providence of God to be a mighty lever to lift the nations to the obedience of Christ.
Most earnestly do I hope that, whatever [16/17] mistakes may have been made in the past, they will be remembered no more; and that henceforth there may be but one feeling, and that a feeling of sympathy and confidence towards the new Bishop and his anxious but hopeful work. He goes forth with the love of Christ in his heart, and with strong faith in the reality of his mission. He goes forth as a thoroughly loyal son of our Church, holding fast the Catholic faith, and sympathizing fully with the formularies of the Church of England. He goes forth filled with "the spirit of power, and of love, and of discipline." [Swfronismou, 2 Tim. i. 7.]
It is an interesting thought that in this ancient historical Chapel of Lambeth, so full of memories dear to every English Churchman, no less than 325 consecrations of Bishops and Archbishops have taken place during the last six centuries; and that in the year 1494, in this same Chapel, was consecrated John Blyth, an ancestor of him in whom our interests centre this day.
Moreover, I think it a happy omen that the reconstitution of this Bishopric upon a sound Catholic basis should have taken place in this auspicious year--the Jubilee year of the reign of our loved and honoured Queen. Her Majesty has always shown a kindly interest in this Bishopric and that interest will, we doubt not, be increased, now that it has been remodelled in conformity with the principles upon which our Missionary [17/18] Bishoprics in other parts of the world have been established. In this instance, the new Bishop will go directly from Lambeth, as in a special sense the Archbishop's representative, his legatus à latere, with reference, not only to the Greek Church in Palestine, but to the Greek Churches generally in the East. For my own part, I am sanguine enough to believe that from this auspicious date our Jerusalem Bishopric will receive new blessings from God; and I trust that our Queen may long live to see the fruit of the seed to be sown in faith this day. "O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee."
Finally, I would venture to say to you, my brother in Christ Jesus, that you are going forth--I use the words of Bishop Taylor--"to cement governments, to establish peace, to propagate the kingdom of Christ; to hurt no man, to do good to every man; that is, so to minister, that religion and charity, public peace and private blessings, may ho in their exaltation." May God be ever with you! May He so bless you and help you in this great and holy enterprise, that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away. Amen.