The following Sermon, which may be called an Idea of a Colonial College, was preached in the College Chapel of St. John the Divine, Bishops' Auckland, on the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 1847, being the Sunday in Ember Week. On the following Sunday, Messrs. FISHER, HUTTON, and PURCHAS were ordained Deacons at St. Paul's Church, Auckland, for the service of the College and its surrounding district; Mr. TUDOR, Deacon, to serve under Archdeacon WILLIAM WILLIAMS, in the Turonga district. The Rev. H. BUTT, was also admitted to the Holy Office of the Priesthood, after three years service as a Deacon in the district of Nelson, and there he will still continue to labour. Besides all the Collegiate body, a considerable number of the Clergy in connection with the Church Mission Society wee present at the delivery of this Sermon, having been assembled at the Meeting of the Central Committee. It is now published, as the fullest exhibition which the Bishop of New Zealand has ever given, after five years of patient trial, of what he thinks the Colonial College System ought to be, rather than as an actual statement of what that of St. John's now is, though it is daily tending to the fuller development of this idea. With the object then of making the Bishop's mind known, and that in his own words, these pages are dedicated to the Members of the Windsor and Eton Church Union. The Editor had the happiness of watching, with the Bishop, the growth of the Society in its early days, and though prevented by illness from taking a part in the proceedings of the Annual Meeting in 1848, was still, he trusts, "present in spirit, though absent in body."
W. C. C.
ST. PETER'S DAY,
Prayer for St. John's College, to be used daily after the Prayer for the
Clergy, in Morning and Evening Service.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thine unworthy servants beseech thee to bless this College of St. John, and ever member of the same, both absent and present. Knit all our hearts in one, after the example of our Blessed Lord and the beloved disciple; and grant that true religion, useful learning, and honest industry may here for ever flourish and abound, to the glory of thy Holy Name, the good of thy Church, and the salvation of our own souls, through the same thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN.
And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied. Wherefore they say, is Saul also among the prophets? 1 SAM. xix. 20-24.
The beauty and majesty of true religion are the arms which God has given it, wherewith to subdue its enemies, and advance its dominion. The servants of Christ have no need to fight, because His kingdom is not of this world;--in quietness and confidence is their strength. Christ gives to His Church the power which He exercises Himself--the power of overawing opposition by patience, by dignity, and repose. When the chief Priests asked the officers whom they had sent to take Him, "Why have ye not brought Him," they answered, "Never man spake like this man." John vii, 45, 46. So also, when Judas came to apprehend Him with a band of men and officers, as soon as He had told them "I am He," they went backward and fell to the ground. In a still more striking manner, when He stood before Pilate, and had spoken words which, coming from any other man, would have offended the pride of the Roman [5/6] Governor, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given the from above;" "from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him." The same majesty of character remained to Him even on the cross, and constrained the centurion to cry out, "Certainly this was a righteous man. Truly this man was the Son of God." It is true, that an appeal to other powers was sometimes made in defence of the ministers of God; the bears out of the wood tore forty and two children that had mocked Elisha: the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the two captains and their companies of fifty who went to apprehend Elijah. But when James and John desired to inflict the same punishment upon the inhabitants of that Samaritan village, who would not receive their Lord, they received this rebuke,--"Ye know not what spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." This is the true form and influence of the Christian character,--the victory by which the Gospel has overcome the world."
It was in Samuel's school of the prophets at Naioth in Ramah, that David sought for refuge from the persecutions of Saul: the Spirit of the Lord had at that place united together the company of prophets, over whom Samuel was set by God. From that central home, which was his cathedral, he went forth on his annual circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places; and his return was to Ramah, where he had built an altar unto the Lord.
To this asylum, in which David had taken refuge, Saul sent messengers to take him; but "when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God as upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. Then, [6/7] went he also to Ramah . . . . . .. . . . and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he wet on and prophesied." From this we learn what is the true Spirit of the Christian ministry; that it is not theirs to destroy men's lives, but to save them; it has a character of majesty and awe which is more powerful than armies, to confound the adversary, and oftimes to convert him to faith. Such was the reverence and awe with which Alexander met the High Priest Joddus, with his long train of priests and Levites, and for his sake was the Holy City spared. Such also was the power of religion on the hordes of northern barbarians, who destroyed the Empire of Rome, yet, almost in the hour of victory, received the Gospel of peace, and bowed the knee to Christ.
Our own experience also proves to us the truth of what history has taught. For thirty years the peaceful ministers of Christ have lived securely in the midst of wars and bloodshed; not a hair of their heads has fallen to the ground; not a bone of them has been broken, as the Psalmist says; and not only have they lived in safety, but they have also gone forth to conquer; they have subdued a nation, which armies could not have overcome, with no other weapon than the "Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Some of those who now hear me have seen the counterpart of that history, which has been read as the text. The bands of unbelievers, that came for violence and rapine, have often remained to hear and to pray. They saw the ministers of God discharging their sacred functions, they heard their hymns, their prayers, and their praises, and the Spirit of the Lord fell on them also, and they too were converted, and worshipped the true God. Then at last, when men of lower degree had led the way, the chief would come, like Saul, to seek after his messengers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him also, and he too believed and was baptized.
The same story applies still more strictly to the case of our own [7/8] brethren and countrymen; for they are not ignorant of the true God, like the heathen, but like Saul imperfectly instructed, and perhaps disobedient to His commandments. The state of outward circumstances also may be against they; they live in the midst of wars and rumours of wars; the country is in an unsettled state; the power of religion upon their hearts is weakened by the daily anxieties of their lives; the ark of the covenant is as good as lost; the temple is not yet built; the Priests of the true God are few in number, while he idolatry of mammon is established in all its strength. In every new country, therefore, there must be some place of holy rest, and yet of charitable energy; where men may live together, whose strength is to sit still, and yet whose faith worketh by love; where the prophets may assemble under their appointed head, to sing their daily praises, and to offer up their daily prayers, as but a small acknowledgement of the vast [illegible] both of prayer and praise, which goes on increasing in the troubled world around them. Their work is intercession, to pray for those who neglect to pray for themselves; for those who travel by land or sea; for those who are distracted by the cars of government; for those whose religion still dwells in tents, who as yet have no home in which to plant their domestic Church; for those Marthas who are troubled with much serving; for those unbelievers who have not yet confessed Christ, and those who, having once believed, have now denied Him; for all those of contrite heart who for shame and sorrow cannot lift up their voices; for all in short; and how many they are in every new country, who cannot, or will not, or dare not pray, the company of the prophets performs the office of intercession. There, in the midst of his brethren, some Abraham must stand, to make intercession for sinful and godless cities, and there, some Samuel, standing among the prophets as appointed over them must set forth the holy duty of daily prayer--"God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you."
 To that centre of Holy Light the men of the world, and sinners, the violent, the extortioner, the godless, are drawn as irresistibly as the soldiers, the publicans, and the sinners to John the Baptist in the wilderness. There is an affinity of opposition, no less than of likeness;--the night moth cannot withstand the attractions of the candle; the bat, the night-hawk, the owl, all come to the light; they know not why. It seems strange that they who fly in darkness should be so ready to come to the light, but so it is. The same is true light of the Gospel. They come to gaze, perhaps even to mock,--but they remain to pray. They come by companies, first the messengers, then the king, till all are converted; first some humble slave, some poor fisherman; them some kinsman, who is about the palaces; then the senators and the nobles; till at last a Saul, or a Constantine, is numbered amongst the prophets, and kings become the nursing fathers, and queens the nursing mothers of a Church.
Hence it is evident that the school of the prophets must have a distinctive character. It must neither be separated from the world, nor confounded with it; it must have its own proper work, its own habits, its own thoughts, its own discipline; but it must have a fellow feeling in the world, in the acknowledgement of the same besetting sins, the same tendency to corruption and decay. It must not boast of having attained anything beyond other men, but avow only a stronger sense of its need of grace, and its resolution, both itself to seek it earnestly, and also to aid others in the search. Its principle of union is not an assumption of superior holiness, but a confession of weakness; as the sheep must herd together, while the lion and the bear range alone. Its daily prayer, and its frequent communion must attest its sense of its own need of grace, to renew, and strengthen, and refresh its spiritual life.
The establishment of this distinctive character is the first great difficulty in the work. To be different from other men, without [9/10] ostentation of self-righteousness, is the difficult course which lies before ever single clergyman: there must be a difference, but the ground and principle of this difference must be clearly understood. In one word, we must aim at making it appear that there is no difference between us in and other men in nature, or in state, but only in conviction, and in work. What men do because they are sinners, we abstain from because they are worldly, we persist in because we also have the same worldly tendencies. We are all alike diseased; the only difference is this;--some deny their sickness, we avow it--some avoid their Physician, we seek unto Him.
It is difficult no doubt to draw the exact line between religion and the world. More especially is it difficult, when we have to plant the first seed of such a principle in the midst of a field already entangled with thorns and briers. He who plants an acorn must plant it in faith. He believes that there is within it the germ of an oak; he believes that the rain will not fail to water it; he believes also that he has power to save it from being choked by thorns, and trampled under the foot of beasts. The first is a faith in the nature of the acorn: the second a faith in the providence of God: the third a faith in the ministration of man. Unless all these three agree together, it is better to sow only the annual flower, which each man in his own life time may plant, and water, and protect, [may see shoot up, bud, blossom, and then wither away.]
But as the tree of the forest is nobler than the flower of the field, so is it a higher duty to take thought for future ages, than to train up each a prophets gourd for himself to sit under. Can we waste our regard upon that which only concerns ourselves, which lasts but one life, which comes up in a night, and perishes in a night; and care nothing for the great city, the whole Jerusalem of God, with its six score thousand persons, who cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and the thousand ten times thousand children yet unborn, who might have sheltered [10/11] themselves under the branches of our oak of Mamre, if we had but planted the acorn, instead of training up the gourd?
First then we must have faith in the very nature of our work. The school of the prophets cannot be planted, unless we know the nature of a prophet's office, and have faith in the promise of a prophet's reward. A prophet's office is not in the courts of kings, nor in rich men's houses, where men wear soft clothing and fare sumptuously every day. John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; yet Herod, from the midst of his palace, heard the fame of his preaching in the wilderness, and listened to his reproof, and respected his character. His great prototype, Elijah the Tishbite, put not on his courtly gad to wait upon Ahab, but bound hairy garment about his loins, with his leathern girdle, and went to meet him at Samaria, and preached to him of the judgments of God. His successor Elisha, called from the plough to receive the mantle of Elijah, assumed to himself no pride of office, but for ten years ministered to his master's wants, till he saw him caught up to heaven, and received a double portion of his spirit. Amos was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruits; yet the Lord took him as he followed the flock, and the Lord said unto him, "Go, prophesy unto my people Israel." Zechariah speaks of the true prophet as one who disclaims all glory of his office, and says "I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth." Yet to him the wounds of Christ were revealed, with which He was wounded in the house of his friends, by His own people Israel. God chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds, to feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. The shepherds of Bethlehem were in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, when they were guided by the light of heaven, and called by the voice of angels, to be the first preachers of the new born Saviour. The shepherds, the sitters at the receipt of custom, the yoke of oxen, the fisher's coat, the tattered nets, and [11/12] leaky boats, the mission of the seventy without purse or scrip, when even the devils were subject to them in their Master's name, are signs and badges of the order out of which Christ chose and called His Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles. We have this faith therefore, in the nature of the Prophets office, that it needs not worldly aid to give it its effect, neither wealth, nor honour, nor talents, nor station; it needs only the calling of God, and a willing heart in him who is called.
Still more firmly does our faith rest upon the Providence of God, that he will give an increase to all that Paul may plant, and Apollos water, that the healthful spirit of His grace will be shed upon all bishops, curates, and all congregations committed to their charge; and that he will pour upon them the continual dew of His blessing that they may truly please Him. We trust also that the same blessing will be granted to all who may succeed us in our sacred office, all places of sound learning, and religious education, which like the schools of the prophets, supply fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of the Church.
All then that admits of a doubt is, the administration of man. And yet, with a prophet's reward before his eyes, when he can be otherwise than willing to devote al his powers of body and mind to the ministry of Christ? What work is there but this, which has the promise both of the life that now is, and of that which is to be done? What work is there in which the hope of is so strong, and the promise of reward so sure? And if one work of the ministry be more hopeful than another, what can be so full of hope, as that of searching far and wide for every prophet's son, and for every one who, though like Amos, neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, still sews in early youth the signs which point to his future calling to the ministry? Whether it be the blessing of God granted in a mother's prayers, as in the case of Samuel; or, as in that of the Baptist, the blessing of the Spirit from his mother's womb, as in [12/13] the calling and election of God; whatever be the moving power that guides the youthful heart to higher thoughts and holier desires, it is the same seed out of God's storehouse, which He gives into our hands to rear. It is now the least of all seeds, but who can tell how many souls it may be ordained to save, when it shall have increased and multiplied and borne fruit an hundred fold.
The present occasion is the first in which I have been called upon to ordain in a body those, who are to be the future guardians and instructors of this school of the prophets. It is a solemn season for us all, but especially for me; because it is natural that I should see more clearly how much risk of failure there is in all such efforts as these. I cannot forget, that when Samuel was old, and had made his sons judges over Israel, they walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Before you enter upon the holy obligations which you are about to undertake, I must not disguise from you the peculiar danger to which your work will be exposed. It is a fearful subject of reflection to think that Eli, at whose feet Samuel had sat from his youth up, had sons who made themselves vile, and he restrained them not; and that Samuel, while he lived among the sons of the prophets, as appointed over them, had sons that walked not in the way of their father.
We must then take warning in time, that no outward system, no gathering of the prophets, can secure our own children from the temptations of Satan: that there is need of constant vigilance, and earnest prayer, and, above all, of the daily remembrance of Christ, to give a tone to all our corporate character, which may impress itself upon the youngest child intrusted to our care. We must live one for another, and above all, for those who are as yet babes in Christ; we must watch over them with more than a father's or a brother's love; we must trace the first signs of falling away; a look, a word, a gesture is enough to shew that Satan has entered into the heart, and that the work of corruption has begun. Then, at [13/14] the very first, the word of counsel must be gently poured into the ears, while the conscience is still awake, and answers to the reproof; no formal complaint, no tell-tale accusation, but the whispered warning of an elder brother to the Joseph and the Benjamin whom he loves. Above all, our care must be, that not a soul be lost, of those whom God has given into our hand. The question is not whose duty it is to speak;--the first that sees the fault must be the first to admonish. There must be no false reserve, where souls are at stake. We must all feel it as a reproach, if there be one who comes among us, as placed under our care, and who still remains unimproved, or falls and is lost.
As then we commune with God in our own hearts, and in our chamber, and as we here walk daily as friends in the house of God, so let us open our hearts one to another freely, in all that concerns the spiritual well-being of our children. We have a work before us which no eye can see, which even the mind can but imperfectly conceive. That school of the prophets which Samuel founded at Ramah, received the first outpouring of that Spirit which was not withdrawn during 700 years, till it ceased with Malachi. It is not for us to enquire into the purposes of God;--we are bound to act as if the highest range of promise were already revealed. We know not what may befall this school of the prophets, which God has enabled us to found; but we must brace up every nerve of the soul, and summon up every godly resolution, to do, and work to the uttermost, whatever may be its issue. If it were to fail to-morrow, our duty would still be the same for to-day. It was no argument to St. John to be slack in preaching the Gospel to the seven Churches of Asia, that in a few hundred years their candlesticks were to be removed. It was no hindrance to Samuel's efforts for his school of the prophets, that ten tribes out of the twelve would soon be lost, and scattered throughout the world. Our work is in our own hands; the issue is in the Hands of God.
 And yet it is possible, and perhaps it may not be presumptuous to think of this seed which God permits us to plant, and by faith to behold it grow into a tree. When God shall have poured upon us the blessing of His Spirit in answer to our prayers; when many bands of messengers shall have come to gaze, and shall have remained to pray; when rulers shall have felt the solemn influence of an unworldly life, and in the midst of cares shall have sought for comfort here, to sanctify their thoughts in their council chambers, and their judgment halls; when the sick, that came here for the body's health, shall have gone back better both in body and soul; when the young from every part, and of every race, shall have been here mingled in the same course of Christian education, and yielded a tithe of their number to the ministry of the Church; when men of god shall have come in from the plough and from the sheepfold, from the receipt of custom and the fisher's net, and shall have put on the prophet's mantle and received their portion of the Spirit of God; when those whom god does not call to the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, shall have become the Abrahams of their own families and districts, commanding their children, and their servants after them to keep the way of the Lord;--then, from a land replenished with faithful Ministers and godly Laymen, the stream of the Gospel may flow forth to the dark islands that lie under our northern sky, the nearest to the sun, but still far from God. Then may this island become the Britain of the southern Hemisphere,--the centre of Gospel light to evangelize the southern Seas. Here is the seed--within it is the oak.--God will water it, and give it increase; but we must guard it, "lest the boar out of the wood waste it, and the wild beasts of the field devour it." Ps. lxxx. 13.
Doxa tw Qew.