J. WHITAKER, 41, PALL MALL.
EDINBURGH: R. GRANT AND SON, AND R. LENDRUM AND CO.
To all the Faithful in Christ Jesus, in my own Diocese, and elsewhere.
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
HE Who founded the Church, founded It for all time; and therefore He so constituted It, as that It should be able to adapt Itself to the wants of all ages, and all countries.
It is among the foremost duties of those who are the Bishops and overlookers of the Lord's heritage, to watch the signs of the times, and to take heed that those wants be met, in such a manner, as that the Church should ever be presented before the eyes of men, as being in every sense a Mother--God's appointed instrument for their nurture, discipline, and comfort. As such, She has in Her the capacity to suit Herself to all emergencies, even as She has the tenderness and affection, which make Her eager to provide against them. And, as in times past, She was not found wanting, when exposed to reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses--so, likewise, has [3/4] She the elasticity which will enable Her to accommodate Herself to all the changes brought about by advancing civilization, increasing population, and the extension of national power and prosperity.
Further, She is militant here upon earth, and therefore those who, for the time, are leaders of Her hosts, are bound to look out for, and secure such new vantage-ground, as may enable Her to show the strongest front against the hosts of evil, under their ever-varying forms of attack.
And those have been the most valued champions in the Church's cause, who, with forecast and far-sightedness, have anticipated the wants of the age; who, by being themselves in advance of it, have (like Joseph in Egypt) prepared in time of plenty for a season of dearth; or (like Elisha in Samaria) in a season of dearth for a time of plenty.
And those have been the brightest pages in the Church's annals, in which the Clergy and Laity are pourtrayed as working together in holy emulation in the cause of God; labouring for posterity rather than for themselves, sowing good seed in order that a happier age might reap the harvest; or lengthening the cords, and strengthening the stakes, that so the tents of Jacob might be enlarged, and adapted for an ampler occupancy than their own.
It is my belief, that to the want of such foresight and co-operation in the last generation, the difficulties; and sorrows now agitating the Church of England are principally owing. It is my settled conviction, that such qualities exhibited and brought to bear [4/5] among ourselves, at the present time, will, with God's blessing, lead to the most happy results. And under such a conviction, I make my present address to you.
Time was, when, under persecution, and the harassing effects of penal enactments, the Bishops and Clergy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland were prevented from acting with anything like concert, in their corporate capacity, and were compelled to minister to their scattered flocks beneath whatever sordid roof seemed to offer the best chance of security, and freedom from interruption.
By God's mercy, these trials have ceased. Though still stripped of all that, in the eyes of the world, gives an imposing effect to religion--though hampered by want of means, and crippled by the limited number of our Clergy--we no longer worship the God of our Fathers under threat of pains and penalties; and the State lays no yoke upon our neck, which can pre vent us from co-operating together, for promoting the general efficiency of the Church.
The prostrate Trunk has been lightened, and the Tree has sprung back to Its place. Nevertheless, the storms that have passed over It have shattered It, and It needs all that devoted care, and patience, and self- denying service can bestow, to enable It to put forth Its former vigour, and offer the fulness of much-needed shelter to those who would rest under the shadow of Its Branches.
And day by day the number of such is increasing. The deepened sense of religious responsibility discernible among all classes--the spread of religious enquiry, [5/6] and demand for religious instruction--the readiness with which increased opportunities of devotion are accepted, and multiplied services are attended--the desire felt, that the houses of God, and the ritual of the Church, should no longer wear the appearance of slovenliness, and neglect, and beggary--these, and many other things of like tendency, are very significant tokens, that the Church has need to adapt Herself to a new epoch, to another phase of the world's chequered history; that it behoves Her to prepare to meet the wants of the age, to rise from the dust, and put on Her strength--to build up Her old waste places, to raise up the foundations of many generations, and to vindicate to Herself, once more, Her ancient title, and Her ancient office, as the "Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of paths to dwell in."
And called, as I have been, by the Providence of God, to be a chief Pastor, and Steward, and Watch man of the Lord among you, how can I see our deficiencies and wants, and not seek to supply them? How can I be otherwise than deeply anxious, not only that the machinery by which the Church has ever worked most effectually in winning souls to Christ should be in the best working order, but that all improvements and additions, which experience has suggested, or the altered circumstances of our age require, should be adapted thereto?
In machinery, a failure of any part impedes the action of the whole; and if the best machinery be not used, power is certain to be wasted. It is because our machinery is defective, that our Church suffers loss.
And this is the evil which, so far as my own Diocese is concerned, I now seek to remove, by proposing the restoration of my Cathedral, and the institution of that Corporate Body, whose revival would enable me to administer the affairs of the Diocese with the best security for present efficiency, and with the best hope of future progress.
A Bishop without a Chapter for his Council, Assessors, and Coadjutors in the labour of the Diocese, is without that which, in the best ages of the Church, was always held to be essential to the welfare of every Diocese, as affording the best check on individual ambition, or individual sloth, the best earthly sup port to the Bishop in times of difficulty, and the most efficient means of superintending and administering the ecclesiastical affairs of the Diocese; and this in addition to the advantage which he derived from the Diocesan Synod. [Stillingfleet, Iren. ii. c. 7. p. 358, thinks that the Archipresbyteri were much of the same nature with the Deans in Cathedral Churches, as the College of Presbyters was the Chapter. The College of Presbyters was the Bishop's Council, and the Archipresbyter took charge of all things relating to the Church in the Bishop's absence. S. Jerome is the first who mentions such an officer. See Bingham, i. 275.] The merit of the Cathedral system lies in bringing together into one spot, and into constant communication with each other, those persons who are most eminent for piety and learning, as the habitual advisers of the Bishop. The Cathedral, with its Bishop and its Chapter, should be the living heart of the Diocese. To such a centre, as to the heart, the best life-blood should be attracted, and from it [7/8] propelled for the invigoration and support of the whole body.
I do not set before me the present aspect of Cathedral institutions in the South, as the model which I would seek to follow. Those venerable and noble institutions have suffered, and most grievously suffered, from an influence which cannot reach us, as an unestablished Church. It is impossible, indeed, to estimate too highly "the rich blessings bequeathed to England by the pious founders of our ancient Cathedrals." [Life of Ken, p. 9. Pickering. The entire passage is so beautiful in itself, and bears so directly upon the object of this letter, that I cannot refrain from giving it:--"Who can estimate the rich blessings bequeathed to England by the pious founders of our ancient Cathedrals? Our greatness as a nation is inseparable from the dignity and holiness of the Church which, amid all troubles, bas been the Palladium of the Monarchy, and thereby of British freedom. "Where, now, in this reluctant age, shall we find one great-hearted man to lay even the first stone of such a temple, in faith, that future servants would be raised up to carry on the work? Vast heaps of wealth, untold revenues, lofty palaces, multiply through the land; while our Parish churches, even within the domains of the great and noble, fall to decay. God has poured into our lap the treasures of the world; but, alas our hearts lie in our coffers, and cannot wing their way to the bright inheritance of a truer wealth above. One by one the possessors, rich in all but faith, are summoned to their reckoning, and drop into oblivion; but where are the recording angels to hear to heaven the registry of their deeds of self-denying love? Not the very crumbs from their fulness not so much as a poor legacy, for ever-enduring works of Christian charity."] But an influence has been at work, during a long period, of years, which has well-nigh sapped their very foundations. Their past history tells us how Cathedral preferments have, in many instances, [8/9] been the rewards of political subserviency, and how, like the Tulchan Bishops of our own Scottish Church, such holders of ecclesiastical appointments have suffered themselves to be the tools of unscrupulous and designing politicians. It is no marvel that, under such circumstances, Cathedral institutions should not have contributed, as they might have done, to the efficiency of the Diocesan system, nor that the amplest means and opportunities should have been neglected or abused; nor, while labouring under such an incubus, that they should have failed to effect all the purposes for which they were founded.
Such a state of things, however, I believe to be impossible among ourselves, both from our poverty and our freedom from State interference.
Having no fears on that point, and being fully satisfied of the value of Cathedral institutions on all other grounds, I have no object so near my heart as the establishment of a Chapter for my Diocese.
The men, first of all; the rest in God's good time.
Men must be found, who will give themselves to the Church's work in the Church's way, with undivided hearts; hard-working men who, as Canons of the Cathedral, will make the DIOCESE their Parish; who will labour in and for the Diocese, as for their Parish, and who will be the Bishop's right hand in all efforts--missionary, educational, charitable.
But in order that such men may work in concert, they must feel themselves to be in reality members of one body; they must be, as much as possible, [9/10] associated together under one roof; be worshippers in and ministers of one temple.
It is no great matter, perhaps, so far as the individuals are concerned, what that structure is. Probably the glorious pile of Glastonbury had never in its days of splendour more devoted hearts than those who first watched, prayed, fasted, preached within its first oratory of wattled osiers; "high meditations," as old Fuller expresses it, "under a low roof and large hearts betwixt narrow walls."
And yet, if it is not a matter affecting the being of the Church, that her Cathedral should not be altogether unworthy of the associations which that name calls up, it is one which deeply affects her well-being.
We have to work with men as they are, and for men as they are--susceptible, impulsive, ever ready to judge by outward appearance--and, therefore, solid materials, stone and iron, are the only fitting materials for the buildings raised by the Church in a Christian land. If the Church's office is to last to the end of time, there should be nothing paltry or unsubstantial in edifices which will be needed till the Lord shall come.
And the character of a work which is the holiest on which the skill of man can be engaged, should have something about it to give it, in the eyes of men, an aspect of the beauty of holiness.
The Cathedral, as affording the pattern to be followed in ritual matters throughout the Diocese, should excel the other churches therein in dignity and meetness of arrangement, if not in size. The [10/11] mother should be, obviously, an example for her children. That which ought to be a model for imitation, must, so far as possible, be made one. And the residences of the members of the Cathedral body, how ever humble in themselves, should, in the aggregate, form an imposing mass, and have so much of an ecclesiastical character about them, as that the eye of the stranger should at once recognize their purpose.
I desire no splendours for myself. Those who have tried it say, that cloth of tissue will fret the skin more rapidly than sackcloth. But I would give the LORD the honour due unto His name: I would pro vide all outward means for worshipping Him with a holy and reverential worship. And I would speak to the poor and little ones of Christ through objects which should teach through the senses, and be to them a "Biblia pauperum."
And who, indeed, that should be called to the office which I hold, could stand amid the ruins of Elgin, for instance, and not feel the earnest desire kindling within him to renew the vow of David, and never to rest till he had found out a place for the "Temple of the Lord." Small consolation is it to feast the eye on the graceful outline of that once noble pile; for is it not the Lord's house which is thus desolate? And is not that mouldering mass the very Cathedral, the want of which we daily feel more and more?--the very structure which Andrew de Moraviâ founded, and dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity, and "ordained to be the Cathedral of Moray for ever"? [July 15, 1224]
 Had that house not been ruined and left to decay, Elgin might have held its place as a populous and prosperous Cathedral city; but be this as it may, Elgin is no longer, from the altered circumstances of our Diocese, the spot most suited for the Cathedral, nor the most convenient centre for ecclesiastical purposes. The same may be said of Fortrose, in Ross-shire, whose ruined Cathedral marks the ancient seat of the Bishops of Ross.
Under such circumstances, it seems desirable to adopt the wise policy of the Church's rulers in past times, which scrupled not to transfer the Cathedral from one place to another, according to the political or commercial changes of the population.
As in the South, the Episcopal seat founded at Elmham was removed to Thetford, and thence to Norwich; as among ourselves Abernethy once held the rank now occupied by S. Andrews; and as Birnham gave way to Elgin, so now, in order best to meet the requirements of the time and the altered circumstances of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, it is considered by many (and I concur in the opinion) that not at Elgin, but Inverness, should the Cathedral Church of this Diocese be reared.
Inverness is, and promises to be yet more, the metropolis of the north of Scotland. From its facility of access, its large population, its central position, it seems admirably suited for the site of a Cathedral. And therefore, with God's blessing, I purpose to raise funds for building and endowing a Cathedral at Inverness, [12/13] which shall be legally secured to the Episcopal Church of Scotland, as the future seat of the Bishops of Moray and Ross. [A beautiful site has already been given by a noble-hearted layman.]
There I purpose to fix the residence of the Bishop and his Chapter; and there I hope such schools and kindred institutions will be reared as ought ever to be gathered round the chief Church of a Diocese.
This is my ultimate object. But as I have already said, my intention is not first to rear the buildings and then look out for the men who are to give them life, but to commence by finding the men, gathering them round me, and working with them and through them for my Diocese.
But they who are to preach the Gospel must live by the Gospel. I must, therefore, in the first place, obtain endowments for their support; for a Dean at an annual income of not less than £200, and for four Canons at £100 each.
These obtained, I should have a body of Clergy constantly associating with me, and giving me the benefit of their advice and experience; and who, appointed by me, and responsible to me, would, as need should be, go forth to minister to the Episcopalian families scattered through the Diocese, and would gather into congregations those who for years have been deprived of the services of their Church; or, remaining at home, would superintend our schools and choir, visit the sick, and maintain the daily course of prayer and praise in the Cathedral. Thus, of the members of this corporation, some would be always living with the Bishop in his city, while others would [13/14] be labouring at a distance, but all with one object; and so the Cathedral would be the centre of all missionary, educational, and charitable exertion; while, of the Chapter, each member would have his allotted sphere of Diocesan work, and yet each bear his part in the Bishop's Council.
The cost of such endowments, and of residences for the Clergy, will not come short of £20,000.
When this has been secured, (or sooner, if friends be raised up to contribute to such specific works, as the building of the Cathedral, the erection and endowment of Schools, &c.,) it may be hoped that funds will not be wanting to complete the proposed work, and that those who have been trained to appreciate the services of the sanctuary, will not be backward in helping to rear the material edifice, which shall be known, in time to come, as the CATHEDRAL OF INVERNESS.
One soweth, and another reapeth. I can but hope for the privilege of taking the initiative in such a work. But to this, God being my helper, I devote myself: towards the accomplishment of this I shall work on in faith. I do not underrate my difficulties. I need a large sum--so large, that many will think it mere madness to attempt to raise it. But I am not mad, and only speak the words of truth and soberness, when I say, that as every day the blessedness of being permitted to spend, and be spent for God, is more and more recognized among us, so are the means of giving to Him made or found. I invite the rich to give me of their abundance. I invite the poor to aid me out of their poverty. I beseech all to help me with their prayers.
And then the event will not be uncertain. The waste places will be builded up: the foundations of many generations will be raised.
"Turn Thee again, thou God of Hosts, look down from heaven: behold and visit this vine. And the place of the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted: and the branch that Thou madest so strong for Thyself."
"Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts: show the light of Thy countenance, and we shall be whole!"