Psalm 37:3. Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good; dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
This morning, beloved, we invite your kind attention to the history of an enterprise of faith, which seems to illustrate in a remarkable manner these words of the Psalmist. To place this history the more clearly before you, we would recall to your memory the extent of population westward in the years 1841-42. Even then, the tide of emigration had been for several years flowing toward the Northwest. At one time, the frontier line was between Albany and Buffalo. It soon reached Lake Erie, and passed along its southern shore. It moved rapidly across the lower peninsula of Michigan. In 1841-42 this frontier line was leaving the western shore of Lake Michigan. Where now stand the cities of Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan and Chicago, but few roofs could be seen, and the region west of them was just beginning to show some signs of civilized labor.
In the autumn of 1841, three young men from the General Theological Seminary, in New York City, sought the frontier for Missionary work. They desired to place themselves upon the very frontier, as Missionaries of our Church, and find their first field of labor where the last emigrant had chosen his new home. In September, of 1841, they came to Waukesha, then called Prairieville, and commenced their Missionary labors; going to the west as far as population for a time required; to the north and to the south as far as their strength permitted; to the east, as far as Lake Michigan. In the autumn of 1842 they removed from Waukesha, and made this place, Nashotah, their permanent center of operations, going from it in all directions, sowing the good seed, the word of God. The last great day only, will make known the good done to the souls of men. These Missionaries were here upon the frontier, almost in the wilderness, welcoming the emigrant, teaching his children the catechism, encouraging him amid his trials, sympathizing with him in his misfortunes, consoling him when sickness and death came near. The history of the Church in no age can present us labors more self-denying, more full of real, true Christian heroism, more happy in results, more productive of blessed consequences, than the toils of these Missionaries from 1841 to 1850.
They employed two instruments for the extension of Christ's kingdom. One was the administration of Christ's sacraments and the preaching of the pure word of God. The other was the training and educating of pious young men for the Ministry.
The Lord alone can measure the blessings disseminated by their preaching, baptizing, and breaking of bread. It merely indicates the reality and the greatness of these blessings, to state, that the parish of St. John's in the Wilderness, Elkhorn, was organized in October, 1841, while the Missionaries were at Waukesha. The parish of St. Alban's, Sussex, Lisbon, was organized October 2d, 1842; that of St. Matthias', Waukesha, February 24th, 1844; the Scandinavian parish, Pine Lake, March 3d, 1844; St. Olof's, Ashippun, December 8th, 1844; St. Sylvanus, Nashotah Lakes, February 24th, 1846; Zion Church, Oconomowoc, August, 1846; St. George's Church, North Prairie, November 22d, 1846. Of these eight parishes, five remain--fountains, well-springs of grace and blessing to the communities wherein they are sustained. The changes of population inevitable in a new country, have terminated the existence of only three. St. Olof's, Ashippun, the Scandinavian parish, Pine Lake, and St. George's, North Prairie, are no longer known in the councils of the Church, while their territory is in great measure occupied by other and stronger parishes. Indeed, the whole region around, abounds with illustrations of the words of the Lord by His prophet: "As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper."
The second instrument, the preparing young men for the Ministry, was in the mind of these Missionaries from the very first. If it had not been, their very position would have forced it upon them. The frontier was passing on beyond the Mississippi. A great territory, abounding with places like Elkhorn, Waukesha, Lisbon and Oconomowoc, called for Missionaries. The increasing population of these villages, claimed resident Pastors. What more natural, than to invite proper young men to Nashotah, to be trained for Ordination? As early as May 28th, 1845, one was ordained, and by 1850, twelve were sent forth to their great work.
The hardships and labors of the years from 1842 to 1850 were blessed of God, and justly claim the highest praise of men. The teachers and the taught were a garrison of faithful soldiers, far a-field in the enemy's country, holding the land for their ascended Lord, against the world, the flesh and the devil. Can we not even now see them, on Saturday, and Sunday morning, going forth to their various appointments, to catechise, to read service, to preach, to administer the Holy Communion? Can we not picture the return, as the sun goes down on the Lord's Day, and during Monday? Can we not hear their morning and evening prayers, their psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, mingled with study and recitation during the week?
Let us pause a few moments in our narrative. We have traced the work from 1841 to 1850. It is time to tell you who these brave men were. They are now known in the Church as the Rev. Drs. HOBART, BRECK and ADAMS. The Rev. Dr. HOBART returned to the East early in this period; the Rev. Dr. BRECK went on to Minnesota in 1850; the Rev. Dr. ADAMS has said the Litany with you this morning.
What has this narrative to do with our text? "Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good; dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." How, beloved, were these Missionaries and their students sustained during these years? They obeyed literally the direction of the Psalmist. When, toward the close of the day in the autumn of 1842, the first occupants of the Mission knelt upon a spot covered probably by this Chapel, and asked the Lord to bless their endeavors, they had nothing in hand for the morrow. It was a venture of faith. They had come to do good--they dwelt in the land. The Lord, in whom they trusted, opened the hearts and hands of His people. He, that fed Elijah by the brook Cherith, that gave manna to Israel in the wilderness, brought help to His servants in the daily mail.
What a blessed awakening was made in the Church by this example of simple faith! Up to this time there had been more or less recognition of the duty of extending the kingdom of Christ over the earth. Eloquent and pious resolutions were offered, discussed and passed with edifying unanimity, yet little was done. Many could sit in heavenly places and vote the Gospel to all nations; very few obeyed the command, "Go, preach."
The "High and dry" believed themselves safely in the Holy Catholic Church, and had no doubt about Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The "Low and slow" had no doubt that Calvin and Luther, Knox and Wesley, and Roger Williams were as sure guides to eternal life as the Apostles of the Lord Jesus. All this was wonderfully disturbed by the Te Deum of the faithful in Nashotah. The prayer offered under these trees was graciously answered. The Church owes much of her present activity, her progress, advance and life, to the leaven of HOBART, BRECK and ADAMS.
In 1850 the Rev. Dr. BRECK went on to Minnesota. He left large foundations for another to build upon. He designed to have three great Institutions side by side, upon the lands of Nashotah. He had procured from the Territorial Legislature of 1847 a most liberal act of incorporation for Nashotah House, an institution of piety and learning. Under its ample provisions, he had commenced an Academy, in a building still standing not far to the south of this site. Here, he had in working order a Theological Seminary. Upon a site north of this, more beautiful than this, he proposed to have a College. When it pleased the Lord to place me here in 1850, I could not but feel unfeigned regret that he had not remained to carry out his great plan. If the beneficence of the Church, that beneficence which he had himself been instrumental in calling into activity, had remained concentrated upon Nashotah, Academy, Theological School and College might have been the germ and the stalk from the seed already sown, while a Church University might have been the ripe corn in the full ear to another generation.
We were placed here to build upon the foundations another had laid. Necessity compelled the Trustees to make Nashotah more strictly a Theological Seminary. The one work was to prepare young men for Ordination. This work consists of two parts. One part is preparing the young man to become a Candidate for Holy Orders; the other, is the preparing the Candidate for Ordination. Recent legislation in the Church has assigned to those preparing for Candidateship the name of Postulants.
The annual term for 1850-'51 opened near the middle of September, 1850, with ten Candidates and four Postulants. Dr. ADAMS and myself were the only Professors, while several of the students assisted in teaching. It seems, beloved, but yesterday--that first year at Nashotah. Two things are especially vivid in my memory. One is the wonderful beauty of the place, as on the first morning of my residence I stood near the chancel of the old Chapel, and surveyed the scene. There are but few here to-day, to whom the various buildings that then met the eye can be recalled. As I looked north, the Blue House was then standing where this Chapel now stands. A little way to the east of it was a long one-story structure, relieved by one part midway in its length, being a little higher, wherein were kitchen, dining-room, store-rooms and rooms for students. Parallel with this long structure, on the south, was the old Chapel; some distance to the east the carpenter's shop, and still further east a small building with rooms for three students. A slight look of decay rested upon the whole. There was nothing insurable, save the library, which was in one small room in a very limited building near the center of the Campus. More of the old trees than now cast their shadows upon the buildings. With the touch of decay, there was also another and a far different tint in the whole atmosphere, an indescribable tone, as though Nashotah was the house of God and the gate of heaven; angels ascending with our prayers, and angels descending with unspeakable blessings.
The other memory of that first year, is the strangeness of the change from ordinary parochial work, to the new and peculiar task of caring for the great interests so unexpectedly entrusted to me. In the parish, there was some prospect of daily support; here, there was nothing for the morrow. Not only myself and family thus situated, but also my brother Professor and his household, and the fourteen students; the daily bread for us all to come to myself in the daily mail. And if the gifts of the Church did not come to me, whose fault would it be? You well know, beloved, whenever any one builds upon another man's foundation, he is most peculiarly situated. If he build successfully, it is not to his credit--success is the natural result of the foundation laid. If he fail, the blame is wholly his--an aggravated blame, because he has not only missed of success, but also brought ruin upon the well-matured plans of his predecessor. I very soon saw this feature of my position. The only possible good result to any amount of exertion would be the bare escape from blame, as far as man and this world are concerned. At the same time I was utterly helpless, except as the Lord in His mercy might aid me. My only comfort and support were in the divine promise in our text: "Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good; dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." How can I sufficiently honor that Lord in whom I trusted? How can I adequately glorify His Name, who, that first year and all the years since, has blessed and prospered Nashotah ! " Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give the praise; for thy loving mercy and for thy truth's sake."
The daily mail supplied our daily needs. As the year passed on, another danger presented itself. Four of the ten Candidates were to be ordained on Trinity Sunday, reducing the number of students to ten. April of 1851 had opened with its tokens of approaching spring, and no one had applied to enter Nashotah. Gifts might come; but if new students did not come, it was failure still. Here also I was utterly helpless. The Lord only could direct young men to Nashotah. One April day the showers were succeeding each other rapidly.--How beautiful were the intervals of sunshine! I was standing near this very place, looking eastward. There came under the trees a stranger. The sun never shone so bright before. It was Nashotah's first new student. In due time he graduated, and is now Rector of a large parish in San Francisco, California. He proved the advance guard of a number, so that, though the four were ordained on Trinity Sunday of 1851, the annual term for 1851 and '52 opened with twelve Candidates and seven Postulants.
The dangers of the first year being thus passed, the number continued to increase each year, notwithstanding Ordinations every Trinity Sunday, so that in 1859 the numbers were 28 Candidates and 31 Postulants--59 in all. In 1858 ten had been ordained; Bishops KEMPER, UPFOLD and McCOSKRY officiating--Bishop McCOSKRY preaching the sermon. In 1859, five were ordained; the same Bishops officiating--Dr. (now Bishop) CLARKSON preaching the sermon. This year of 1859 is unusually rich in interesting incidents. On the 9th of September, Bishop PAYNE of Africa, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, moved the first earth for the erection of this Chapel. On the 29th day of the same month Bishop KEMPER laid the corner stone, in the name of the Holy, Blessed and Glorious Trinity. On that same day occurred an event of the greatest importance. The hive had become so full and crowded that, of necessity, it swarmed. A colony went forth to occupy the buildings of Racine College--twenty-five of the Postulants, under the charge of Rev. Messrs. DEKOVEN and SHAW, to begin anew that institution.
In 1860-'61 Nashotah provided for 62 students, 32 Candidates here and 30 Postulants at Racine. During these two annual terms (1859-60, '60-'61), Nashotah gave Racine College both moral and financial support. $12,000 were paid for the shelter, tuition and board of the Postulants there. Thus to Nashotah is the Church in the Northwest indebted for that home of literature and science, that center of learning and piety. May it ever continue to be a "fruitful bough; even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall."
The financial condition of the country in 1861 compelled Nashotah to diminish her number. Ten graduated that Trinity Sunday. The annual term of 1861-62 opened with 19 Candidates, and 18 Postulants at Racine College. From that time the number of Postulants at Racine College diminished, until in 1871 the connection between Nashotah House and Racine College ended. At the same time the number of Postulants here increased again, year by year, so that, during the annual term ending on the 29th of last June, there were 30 Postulants and 18 Candidates.
Since 1862, when Nashotah had but 30 students, there has been an increasing number, year by year. The average number graduating each of these thirteen years has been 9; still the number of students increased from 30 to 40, then from 40 to 50. The next annual term the number will again approach 60. While there has been during these twenty-five years this increase above the 14 students of 1850, the corps of teachers has also increased, from two Professors then, to four Professors and one Tutor now; the graduates from 12 to 174; while more than fifty beside, now in the Ministry, or resting from their labors, passed, some one, some two years under our roofs.
Has the Missionary work been forgotten? Have so many Clergy and young men, professing themselves led by the Holy Spirit towards Holy Orders, lived here, and not sought to do good to the people around--done nothing for their salvation? By the Lord's blessing, beside the Nashotah Chapel, which has been always open for daily prayer, and weekly Communion, there have been built within the territory immediately around, Zion Church, Oconomowoc, Chapel of the Holy Innocents', Pine Lake, Grace Chapel, Hartland, St. Athanasius' Chapel (purchased), Summit Four Corners, St. Mary's Chapel, South Side. These are direct results of the Missionary energy, that belongs to the Nashotah of HOBART, BRECK and ADAMS--a Missionary energy that ought not to, or rather, can not cease. Less direct results are St. John Chrysostom's, Delafield, St. Peter's, North Lake, St. Paul's, Ashippun; the last taking to some extent, the place of St. Olof's parish, organized in 1844. It is sufficient index of continued Missionary enterprise to say that this year, on nearly every Lord's Day, nine congregations are supplied with the services of the Church by members of Nashotah House.
To these immediate tokens of Missionary life, may be added the fact that the graduates of Nashotah are not only in the home Missionary fields, such as Washington Territory, Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, but also in Cuba, Africa and Japan. Nashotah's Missionary energy extends not only from Merton to Ottawa, not only across the continent, from ocean to ocean, but also embraces the foreign fields of the Church, supplying part of the forlorn hope which, under Bishop Williams, assails the strongholds of idolatry in the empire of Japan.
These twenty-five years have had obstacles to overcome, as well as work to do.
When we first came to Nashotah in 1850, there was a loud cry of "Puseyism" against the work. There is always some party cry, of use perhaps to those who either cannot or will not do anything to extend the Church of Christ. It may embarrass the honest worker for the salvation of men, but ought also to encourage him, for, if he were doing nothing, he would attract no such attention. It was customary then, if a Pastor had many baptisms, many confirmations, daily services, frequent communions, or was in any wise blessed in his work, to call him "a Puseyite." We experienced this, when by the Lord's blessing, a new Church was built in our parish in Michigan. We found the name connected with Nashotah. As far as it had any doctrinal significance, it meant, that those thus branded, believed the doctrine taught by Christ and the Apostles, and most clearly revealed in Holy Scripture, that God, the Holy Ghost, regenerates in Baptism. This doctrine has received from the Rev. Dr. ADAMS a full investigation and a complete vindication in his treatise upon the subject. It is a part of the history of Nashotah, as well as of his own scholarly life, that he has written a book which the Church cannot let die, and which does for this part of Christian truth effectual service.
As the cry of Puseyism passed away, other party cries took its place. They are of very little matter to us, for we stand firm beside the Prayer Book. We hold nothing not taught therein. The straight path of truth, therein marked out for us, we have by the grace of God continued to pursue. Any one who follows such a path, is as the traveler upon the prairie, who turns neither to the right hand nor to the left. Those in the same line with him know that his course is undeviating. Those to the left, think him far to the right; those to the right, deem him gone to the left. Thus, he who stands by the Prayer Book seems a Puritan to the wanderer toward Rome, while to the Puritan, he seems ready to become a Papist. He that stands by the Prayer Book has frequent reason to say with the Psalmist, "I am become as it were a monster unto many, but my sure trust is in thee, O Lord."
These party cries of course have some effect upon our receipts; for our Church people have really nothing to give to, have no desire to aid, either Puritan or Papist.
In 1850, Nashotah was $2,200 in debt. This soon disappeared. For several years we were so blessed, that the Church sent to Nashotah only as many young men as she sent gifts to sustain. More recently, the number of students has been too great for Nashotah's share of the Church's beneficence. The very life which Nashotah has been to a great extent the means of awakening, has so increased throughout the Church, as to interfere with the amount sent in the daily mail. Everywhere, the exceptions being few and far between, parishes have in hand great works for the Church, congregations are providing appliances to do good to the bodies and souls of men. The home demand upon givers has become so great, that while the aggregate of givers is about the same, the aggregate of gifts has not for several years been adequate to our needs. Other institutions have entered upon the same work of preparing young men for the Holy Ministry, and claim very properly their share of the resources of the Church. The Church, when she sends young men to Nashotah, ought also to support them. We are merely the agent for the Church, and have never felt ourselves at liberty to refuse a suitable student, any more than to refuse an offering. The desire to serve the Church to the utmost, has caused us to hope that any deficiency might be made up. So that to-day the liabilities of Nashotah House, the aggregate of several years, difference between the work done and the amount given, equal a large part of her personal property. If Nashotah closed her doors to-day and paid her debts, her real estate and $25,000 would still be hers. Can she close her doors?
To answer this question, let us pass on from the past and present of Nashotah, to her future--and first, of her immediate future.
We are expecting to welcome to such crowded shelter as can be given, sixty students on the 29th of this month. We are hoping, as we have hoped in years past, to receive from the open hearts and hands of the Lord's people, means to give these aspirants for the Holy Ministry, tuition, board, fuel and lights. For all these things, we must depend upon the daily gifts of those interested in our work. There are two exceptions. One exception is the salary of one Professor secured by endowment. On Trinity Sunday, 1871, this one endowment of $25,000, was laid upon the altar in this Chapel by a dear friend now in Paradise. The other exception is the interest on an aggregate of $25,000, invested at various times during these twenty-five years. Calling this income $2,500, we can measure the responsibility assumed each year by the President of Nashotah House--the great risk he is compelled to make. He ventures to hope that the salaries of three Professors and the Tutor, together with the board, fuel and lights of the students, all the repairs, insurance, interest, every needful expense beside one salary and $2500, will in some way come to him during the year. What if it does not come--who is blamed? This venture he has made year after year, he has tried to do good, and the existence of Nashotah shows the truth of our text.
Suppose there is an excess of expenditure over receipts another year. Must the President stop all this work? Does not his very position compel him to go on, hoping for the best? If, on the first of next July, he is two or three or more thousands of dollars in arrears, and there is a prospect of having 70 students in 1876-'77, what shall he do? If these arrears increase still more, and in 1877 a still larger number desire to come, must Nashotah dissolve?
We have, brethren, fully considered these contingencies, have thought over every possible course of procedure, and have concluded to go on, until, perchance, in some January, the teachers and the taught are compelled to seek bread and shelter wherever they can, telling to all the strange apathy of our Church. A strange apathy, indeed, when a Church needing more hundreds of Clergy in her Mission fields than there are tens of aspirants here--a Church amply able to sustain ten times as many young men, permits Nashotah to close her doors.
Such is the immediate future of Nashotah, differing in no wise from the past, save that the great venture, the enormous risk of the President increases. Can he do otherwise than go on? The commanding officer of a steamship, having placed his vessel upon the right course, must go on, trusting in the Lord for a safe result. Stopping is as dangerous as steering right onward. If he goes down, he goes down a full ship at highest speed.
Suppose that within five years it be thus with Nashotah? Has her existence been for naught? Having moulded more or less the minds and the teachings of more than two hundred Clergy spread over the world, can it be for naught? She may disappear from the eyes of men, but the leaven of her example, of her faith, of her teachings, can never cease!
We cheer ourselves amid the perplexities of the present, by anticipations of a far different future--a more remote future, after our day has ended. We picture to ourselves a great center of theological learning, built up with adequate and enduring structures, filled with students, abounding with professors, provided with a library unexcelled in its intellectual wealth, surrounded by a population refined and elevated by the hallowing influences of the Gospel. A population with a home upon every five acres of this beautiful country--a population crowding glorious temples built upon the sites of the Churches and Chapels around.
We see the opening term of a future century. Sixty Bishops from the Wisconsin of the sainted Kemper gathering here with their Clergy, their Candidates, their Postulants. The mitred and surpliced procession fills the land with its song of praise.
We see a graduating class of more than an hundred, separating for all time as they go forth to the utmost parts of the earth, drawing nearer to each other by drawing nearer to God, and meeting at last with the trophies of their conflict within the gates of the eternal city.
We see also another, and the closing scene of all--the Chapel crowded with students-the faithful Priest celebrating the Holy Communion. As he shows forth the Lord's death, the trump of God is heard and the voice of the Archangel, the dead in Christ arise, and with them this School of the Sons of Prophets is caught up to meet the Lord in the air.