THE BISHOP OF CONNECTICUT,
IN WHOSE PRESENCE IT WAS PREACHED.
BELNKAP & HAMMERSLEY.
THIS Sermon, though produced in the ordinary routine of parochial duty, is committed to the press at the request of several of the preacher's respected parishioners, and by the unsolicited advice of his Diocesan, the Rt. Rev. THE BISHOP OF CONNECTICUT.
With such high sanction, the preacher cannot but indulge the hope, that the publication may afford some support to a Mission which has enlisted his warmest sympathy, and for which he would gladly do anything to engage the prayers and alms of all Christian people.
A. C. C.
October 16, 1846.
WHAT? CAME THE WORD OF GOD OUT FROM YOU? OR CAME IT UNTO YOU ONLY? I. Cor. xiv. 36.
THE offerings which you are to make to GOD this day are to help the old Churches which are in Asia and Levantine Europe, and to attest to them your brotherly charity, and sympathy with their low estate. As He who redeemed us and them, left us a dying command that we should love one another, so ye are to show this day that ye feel the constraining power of our Lord's injunction in behalf of brethren from whom we have been too long estranged, but who in poverty and oppression and ignorance, ask of us the light which we originally received from them.
It is to this fact that I call your attention at once, as the important fact. [See Note A] Our brethren of the ancient Churches ask of us the means of reforming the evils which have accumulated upon them during ages, in which the hard yoke of the heathen has pressed them to the earth. I beg you to observe that the question is not now as to the propriety of offering help to them. Were it so, I might perhaps think that we are not the ones to go into such a work, or make an offer involving such [5/6] large responsibilities. But this is not the question. Wisely, or unwisely, we have already made the offer. We have gone--perhaps officiously--to the venerable Churches from which we were originally evangelized, and have told them they were fallen very low, and needed to be reformed. We have professed to know the blessings of a reformation, in ourselves; and have volunteered our help in extending it to them. They have asked us what we suppose them to need; and have listened to our prescription of a return to primitive purity. They have asked how this is to be accomplished; and we have told them--by awakening and informing their clergy; by reviving a spirit of undefiled religion among their flocks; by training their children; by preaching and exhortation; by holding communion with our Western Churches; by restoring the charity of ancient times; by the might of prayer; and by giving to priest and to people the word of GOD, with the witness of His Church. To induce them to this great work, I say, we have solemnly proffered our unsolicited help; and, blessed be GOD, they have accepted our proposals! It is a thing done. We have held out the hand and it has been grasped. We are taken at our word; and we have sealed that word by a pledge, the most solemn that could be given; by invoking the HOLY GHOST to consecrate an apostle for the purpose, and by sending him forth in GOD'S name, to the work whereunto the SPIRIT OF GOD has separated him.
Let us then seriously observe just how we stand in this matter. Led, as I trust, by the SPIRIT of Counsel and of Might, to greater things than we dreamed of [6/7] doing; but, at all events, assuming the solemn consequences, by interfering with offers of help that was not claimed of us, we have excited our brethren in the East to some healthful hunger and thirst after the good gifts with which we abound. What we have offered, we have also promised; what we promised we have confirmed by an oath; we have gained the childlike confidence we courted; and now, it is not too much to say, those ancient Churches depend upon us, under GOD, for restoration to their primitive purity, zeal, and fruitful works in the Gospel. At the gate of our humble mission-house in Constantinople stand the chief shepherds of those desolated flocks, knocking and imploring aid. They ask to see and share the fulness of bread of which we have boasted. They ask to be instructed in our Church's faith and customs; they ask to compare our purer prayers with their own; they ask us to help feed their sheep; they bring their children and beseech us to help feed the lambs which the Good Shepherd has put into their folds. And does any one ask why this charge is laid at our doors; why they thus knock at our gates? I answer, does he think we have been only playing at Missions these last ten years? Does he startle to find that we are taken in earnest? Before GOD, we know they ask because we have promised them aid for the asking; and, before GOD, let us remember that our guilt, if we now refuse it, will be even blacker than our infamy with men.
I thus set forth the case, at the outset, lest your minds, my brethren, should fail to keep to the point, which is now the point at issue. It is--let me ask you to hear it [7/8] again--not as to making offers; not as to undertaking enterprises; but as to abiding by offers already made; fulfilling contracts, redeeming pledges, keeping oath and covenant with GOD! Our compact is with none other. We invoked His Holy SPIRIT on our good faith and serious intent, when the Veni Creator was said over a new Bishop, consecrated for this work, two years ago. That was not playing. It was a fearfully earnest thing to do. It was binding a Bishop, soul and body, to the life-long service of CHRIST'S poor in the East; and it was binding ourselves, in him, to care for the souls of those poor all the days of our life. Believe it, it will be no trifle, having thus said to the Master, I go Sir, to turn aside from the vineyard before it is fairly entered. If it be wo to offend one of CHRIST'S little ones, it were better that a millstone were hanged about our neck, than that we should thus forswear ourselves, and put a stumbling-block in the way of whole Churches of CHRIST. For a stumbling-block it will be, if we now teach our Eastern brethren that it is part of our boasted purity to be truce-breakers; if we thus show ourselves without natural affection; if we lead them to believe that there is no dependence upon our most solemn assurances of love, and our most deliberate proposals of succor; if, having taunted them by officious displays of our abundance, till they ask for bread, we now mock their aggravated hunger with a stone. Whether it be possible for us to sin so basely and so deeply, is a solemn question, which ye, beloved, must take your share in deciding, this day.
We shall perhaps be better able to determine our [8/9] duty in this matter, by learning our true relations to the Churches of the East, the nature of our obligations to them, and the affections with which GOD would have us regard them and ourselves. To this end I ask your considerate hearing of the doctrine and text, What? came the word of GOD out from you; or came it unto you only?
The Church at Corinth, as you heard in the Epistle for this day, was indeed rich in the manifold gifts of GOD'S grace; and yet, for their abuse of these blessings, they were subjected to the inspired rebuke of the Apostle. [I. Cor. i. 4.] The apparently commendatory terms in which he opens his Epistle, are rather praises of what GOD had done for them, than of any thing which they had done to improve thereby: and these praises are but the preface to an immediate, consequent and protracted strain of reproof. They were in a sad state of spiritual blindness, and yet not the less puffed up, with a conceit that they were the greatest saints, if not the only ones, in the Earth. [1. Cor. v. 2.] The Epistle, however, goes on to show how the Lord regarded them, and it exhibits a very different estimate. In the first place, they are rebuked as carnal instead of spiritual, as being disorderly and quarrelsome. [I. Cor. i. 11, iii. 3.] They were separated into factions, and almost into schisms, following this or that favourite pastor, or eloquent doctor. [I. Cor. iii. 4.] For the ministry, in itself, they had a mean account; valuing it, not as the stewardship of CHRIST'S mysteries, but only when associated with enticing words of man's wisdom. [I. Cor. iv. 1, ii. 1. 4.] Discipline was in a very low state among them, so that the holy ordinance of Matrimony had been profaned, [9/10] and incest tolerated without rebuke. [1. Cor. v. 1.] Boasting the gift of tongues, they had sacrificed the more excellent gift of charity. [1. Cor. xii.] While every one had a psalm, a prophecy, or interpretation of his own, [1. Cor. xiv. 26.] they had become very contemptuous towards the witness of older Churches, [I. Cor. xi. 16.] and even of the Apostles themselves. [II. Cor. x. 8.] They followed and admired many false and heretical teachers, and preferred them as more spiritual, more devoted, more edifying, more successful, and less arrogant and assuming than St. Paul, against whom they had been duped to entertain many malicious charges and lying insinuations. [II. Cor. x.; xi.] With high views of their own spirituality, they had very imperfect notions of the spiritual grace of Baptism, [I. Cor. vi. 15, 19.] and had come to think so meanly of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, that they partook of it as of a common meal, and one was hungry and another inebriate. [I. Cor. xi. 21.] Of the communion of saints they had little conception: [I. Cor. xii.] concerning the resurrection of the flesh, they had given ear to profane and vain babblings. [I. Cor. xv. 12.] Withal, they had sunk themselves to so great a breach of decorum in the worship of Got), that the Apostle, under inspiration of the HOLY SPIRIT, was obliged to enter upon such matters as how they should conduct themselves in prayer; how women should dress their heads, and refrain their tongues; and how the unlearned should not be deprived of the privilege of understanding the prayers, and saying Amen. [I. Cor. xi; xiv.] Strange that with all this spiritual nakedness they should have fancied that they were the [10/11] model of Churches, and the favourites of CHRIST! Yet so it was; and the Apostle's terrible rebuke is directed, almost with sarcasm, against their pretended spirituality, in the words, "if any man think himself to be spiritual it him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you, are the commandments of the Lord." [I. Cor. xiv. 37.] With this severe reproof, are associated two others, which in substance are one; the first admonishing them of their departure from Catholic usages: "We have no such custom, neither the Churches of GOD;" and the second, teaching them to know their place: "What? came the word of GOD out from you? or came it unto you only?" [I. Cor. xi. 16.]
I have thus explained the connections of the text, because, as you must have perceived, it needs only to be set in its own light to teach us also, an humbling, but a very necessary view of ourselves, as in many respects imitating the Corinthians, rather than other Apostolic Churches. The text is full of doctrine, as well as of rhetoric and power. It teaches the sin of despising the witness of earlier Churches to Apostolic institutions; and the shame of forgetting the humility which ought to characterize the daughter towards the mother Churches, as well as the gratitude and regard which should never be lost by evangelized men for those by whom they received the Gospel. Hence it fairly implies an obligation on the part of such, to yield the Mother Churches not only deference, so far as they exhibit Apostolic precept or example; but sympathy, and that readiness to communicate in all good things, without which, all [11/12] expressions of brotherly love are declared, by St. James, to be vain and dead. [St. James ii. 15, 26.]
It is this general implication of the text that I would mainly present to your consciences. I might indeed argue that as we have but received the Gospel, and not originally imparted it, there may be many things for us to copy in the Apostolic branches of the Church. But waiving this, and conceding what our Oriental brethren themselves allow, that in many things they are fallen, by afflicting providences, far below ourselves; I urge the general argument only. What are our relations to other and older Churches? What is the nature of our obligations to them? How should we regard them, and how ourselves? Are we the original trustees and dispensers of the word and grace of Got)? If, on the other hand we are partakers only, to whom are we debtors, and what do we owe? Deriving our very existence from other depositaries of the Divine commission, is it more than what CHRIST requires that we should render back our help, if at any time our elder brothers are reduced to seek fruit from trees of their own planting? Or supposing the obligation is doubled by the fact of our having induced the demand, by our own volunteering; have we a right to qualify our offers by determining how soon, and how far, they shall first help themselves, before we help them? Are we, then, lords over the light of the world which CHRIST has set in our candlestick? Having nothing that we did not ourselves receive; and having freely received, in order that we may freely give, are we to stint, or refuse, the grace of [12/13] GOD according to our whims, and self-conceit? In other words, CHRIST having many sons, and we the youngest of them, and his word being the common heritage of the whole family, are we to keep the children's bread from the elder brethren who generously put it into our hands! Or having other favourite ways of bestowing it, are we thus to cry Corban to our fathers and mothers? Came the word of GOD out from us, that we may thus conduct ourselves as its proprietors; or came it only unto us, to load us with perpetual obligation to those who first published our peace, and with the glorious privilege of becoming parents in our turn, to nations which shall be born? Such seems to be the fair development of a text, originally designed to teach a proud and boastful Church its humble relations to other members of the Apostolic household, and its duties resulting therefrom.
My brethren, that state of things among us, which makes our duty to the old Churches a question at issue this day, shows that we need the same lesson and rebuke. Not only have we been long guilty of acting as if there were no Churches in Christendom save our own; that is, as if the ancient Churches, because of their degradation, were not worth considering: but we have almost utterly forgotten that the word of Gen came unto us only, and that so far from originating with us, we owe our evangelization to the zeal and devotedness of those very members of CHRIST, whom we now almost despise, and whose cruel poverty, and cries for help, we are ready to disregard. I ask you, brethren, have we not ceased to realize our true position with reference to other [13/14] Churches, and borne ourselves towards them, as if the word of GOD came from us to them, instead of from them to us!
For here I must remind you, brethren, that the Churches which we now stand pledged to aid in their efforts to shake themselves from the dust, are the Churches from which our forefathers received not only the Episcopate, the Liturgy, the Feasts and Ordinances, but even the light of the Gospel. [See Note B.] Besides this, they are Churches, with which, had we maintained our correspondence, we had never fallen under the sinful usurpations of the Bishop of Rome. They are Churches, which in all their feebleness and exposure to both bribes and blows, have always given us the example of resolute adherence to the Apostolic Episcopate, instead of succumbing to an Italian papacy; and they are Churches which, if they now need help from us, are in that condition, because for ages they have supplied almost the only martyrs, and have maintained the faith under the yoke of heathen task-masters, who have drained their life-blood like another daughter of the horseleech, and loaded their backs with burdens too heavy to be borne. What, then is our real position towards these Churches? Are we better than they? Better than those first Churches of His love, among whose golden candlesticks, still walks the Son of Man, sparing them as a man spareth his own child, and knowing where they dwell, even where Satan's seat is! [Rev. ii. 13.] Better than the sees which Apostles planted, which martyrs watered, and where GOD gave the increase of such [14/15] witnesses as first uttered with one mouth, the Nicene Confession! Better than the Churches that bred Basil and Gregory; that heard the sermons and felt the prayers of the golden mouthed-preacher; and that saw the life-long faith unto death of the good angel of the Church of Smyrna! I do not speak these names because they are fragrant and musical; but to remind you how dear, on their account, those Churches must be to Him, who declares even of obstinate Jews, that they are beloved for the sake of their fathers! Are we then better than they? Who are they, and who are we? We shall know if we will answer the question, What? came the word of GOD out from you, or came it unto you only?
If I have at all succeeded in applying this text, we now understand our relations to those, for whom a common Redeemer claims our offerings this day. We owe a debt; we are urged by a claim; we are bound by love, by gratitude, by promises, and virtually by oaths. Depend upon it, we cannot withdraw our Mission from the East, without a combination of sins, of which the catalogue is fearful; without perfidy to our Missionary Bishop, and injury to those to whom he has borne our offer of succour; without a breach of that charity which is the very bond of peace and of all virtues; without mockery of GOD. For let us reflect that in giving up this work, we cannot but inflict positive injury, where we are sworn to send help. We cannot leave things as they were before we ventured to interfere in these affairs. We shall actually put back the restoration which we have professed to desire and to assist. Consider what a [15/16] state of things we shall ensure. They once knew not of our existence; they will hereafter know us as perfidious and officious intermeddlers. They once were ignorant that there were Churches boasting a purer ritual, and more spiritual teaching; they will hereafter associate that boast with men whose faith must be judged by deceitful works. They have long misunderstood the Anglican reformation; they will hereafter detest it, as imagining that they see in our discord, irresolution, and inability to fulfill our promises, all those miserable fruits, which have long been ascribed to it, by the emissaries of Rome. I stop not to insist that Rome and Geneva together will exult in our disgrace, saying with the cajoled Orientals, "these men began to build and were not able to finish;" but I ask, having begun to have a name to live among our Eastern brethren, shall we now prove ourselves twice dead? The joy with which they begin to detect, in us, the family features--shall it give place to the indignant scowl of contempt for an impostor! The child-like confidence with which they reach out their hands to receive our offerings--shall we change it to a bitter sense of injury and a sullen spirit of suspicion! In a word, shall the East now arise by our aid, and with us rebuke the arrogance of Rome, and turn the sword of the SPIRIT against the hordes of the false-prophet,--or shall we leave it to sink still lower beneath the contempt of the infidel; or at best, a prey to the persevering Jesuit, who will triumph in our failure, and trumpet it as another proof that we are no Church, and no Christians, and that he alone brings substantial offers of benefit, brotherly charity, and restoration [16/17] to primitive purity, glory, and the way of salvation!
I have thus exhibited, at some length, the sin and consequences of abandoning the great work which we have assumed, because, alas, it has not been unsuggested by some of our brethren; not because I believe they will be prevalent, unless we are supine; nor because I believe that ye, beloved, need the admonitions, save as an answer to gainsayers. Yet since I have undertaken to review objections, there may be a few remaining ones which are worth a word or two of notice. Is it pretended that we are poor. Shameful! but if true, it should have been thought of before we contracted the debt. Is it said, that these Churches are sadly corrupt? Then have they more need of a physician. That our Mission is unfruitful? Never was ingratitude to GOD coined into a misrepresentation more manifestly false. What fruits have we expected? What seed have we sown? Two years ago--nay, not so long--the Bishop who presides over that mission, stood in this very pulpit, a frank, warm-hearted man, who stood before his friends to exhort him to good works, with no calmer front than that with which he had faced his enemies, and put them to shame. What then were his honest declarations of the nature of the work we had given him to do? Did he not forewarn us that it must be a long and laborious one? Did he not discourage a greediness for immediate and exciting details of success, so contrary to the analogies of the Gospel which came not with observation? Did he not inform us of obstacles to be removed, before the work could be fairly commenced, [17/18] and show us that they were serious and hard to be reached? Did he not tell us of fears and suspicions with which our Eastern brethren had been taught to regard us? Of their ignorance of our worship, doctrine, and history; of their false impressions with regard to the Church of England; and of all the difficulty consequent to such a state of things in persuading them to learn of us, or to believe that we can do them good? Did he not remind us how slow was the work of our own reformation, and tell us in substance, that an age will be hardly sufficient to reform the corruptions of ages! You will recollect that such were the discouragements which he fairly represented to us; and how then can any Christian have a heart to withhold his wonder and praise to GOD, that the face of things has, in a few months, so signally changed. [See Note C.] Already they are sharing our solemn worship, ascending in another tongue to GOD, and daily celebrated before their eyes; [See Note D.] already they read our Liturgy in their own language, and eagerly compare it with their own; already they beg us for the Scriptures; bring their Clergy to be taught of ours; take sweet counsel with our Bishop, in their sorrows and sufferings; and in many things already see eye to eye with us. The first Bishop of Connecticut, though more than a half century in his rest, is preaching to-day, by his translated exhortations, on both shores of the Bosphorus, to men who sit in the seats of Chrysostom, of Polycarp and of Timothy. [See Note E.] And, under counsel of our embassage, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople is instituting a reform in discipline, and [18/19] expounding the limits of spiritual penalties, [See Note F.] with a clearness of interpretation, and a moderation towards the persons of heretics, of which Cranmer and his associates never dreamed; which his successors for a hundred years did not attain; which was never practically learned by the Church of England till her reformation was a century old, and she herself had passed through fire; [See Note G.] which is far beyond the letter of her law even as it stands this day, [See Note H.] and which in every particular of mercy and of meekness, affords a signal contrast to the notorious codes and practices of those who severed themselves from our Mother Church, through pretended abhorrence of spiritual domination. [See Note I.] I say then, without fear of contradiction, that the very sparing seed we have sowed in that field, is, by GOD'S blessing, already bearing a hundred fold beyond our deserts or expectations. And if, worst plea of all, we are to recall our labourers, and undo the work which GOD has blessed, simply because there are those in the same field who would fain have it so; then consistency requires us to pull down our Churches and desert our Bishops here; for here it is the same. In keeping aloof from the religious operations of our dissenting brethren, our Missionary Bishop does in Constantinople no more than our own Diocesan does in Connecticut; and if one is the object of assault abroad, the other is no less so at home. [See Note J.] Such a plea, therefore, would shut up every Church of our communion, and destroy every Priest in our land, who adheres to the laws to which he has sworn obedience, and who prefers principle to popular applause.
 Brethren, I thank God such objections did not originate, nor have they been current, among you. This putting the hand to the plough and looking back, is not characteristic of the flock of which the Chief Shepherd has given me happy charge. Yet I would not close your eyes to the fact that objections, thus answerable in one honest breath, have already assumed the shape of dangers and threaten to destroy one of the noblest charities of our Church. The friends of this embassage of love, are officially challenged to come forward to its rescue; [See Note K.] and your offerings this day, are to show your faithfulness or faithlessness to obligations which our whole Church has assumed. To you, then, throwing the poor pretences I have noticed, under foot, I can address motives of persuasive encouragement. You know, brethren, that I have heretofore exhorted you to stand by all our missions in actual existence, [See Note L.] on the ground that to establish such a work is a solemn obligation assumed before GOD, from which we cannot shrink without sin. I repeat the exhortation again. Sustain all our missions as fixed and established undertakings, if only to teach the Church that a mission is too sacred a thing to be started in the spirit of venturous experiment, or abandoned with rash desperation. Let the fix'd be fix'd. Let GOD alone revoke, by manifest tokens of His will. To take past measures in earnest, is the only way to save us from the appearance of having turned into a farce our commission to evangelize the world. It is the only way to make future action deliberate, and to secure for the history of our missions, the seriousness of true devotion to the [20/21] souls of men, and the dignity of zeal which is according to knowledge. Having said thus much for all our Missions, I may now, without prejudice to others, say something of the peculiar claims of the Mission to Constantinople.
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all Men," says the Apostle, but he adds, "especially unto them who are of the household of faith." With this clear intimation of duty; with the knowledge that they who ask our aid are of this holy household; and with the great principle "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;" we conclude at once, that the last mission which our Church should abandon is this to our sister Churches in the East. If it were to convert Turks that we had sent out a missionary, who would dare give up the work as hopeless in two years, without involving in the same destruction our far more hopeless and expensive attempt to evangelize the Chinese Empire, with one bishop, and a mere apology for a mission; especially when the latter work seems so providentially laid at the door of a far abler Church than ours? But I would not have you dare the one, I would not have you do the other; since now we are committed to work on, and to wait His blessing who is not limited to save by many or by few. Only I now remind you that our communication with the "household of faith" in the Levant, is at the same time the only efficient mission we could plant among the Turks. Reform the Eastern Churches, and you have thousands of missionaries among them, by life, and by doctrine [21/22] preaching CHRIST Crucified to the followers of Mohammed; and that, with full knowledge of their language and habits of mind, and with natural accommodation to climate and manner of life. It is to those our brethren that GOD has given the responsibility of being Evangelists to the Turks; but not to those our brethren while Turks can "say unto them the proverb, physician heal thyself "--but only when washed again in the pool of Siloam, and sent in the vigour and integrity of their earliest achievements for CHRIST, to regain the seven Churches, and plant the cross once more in the city of Constantine. It is ours to be the repairer of the breach, the reviver of a nation of missionaries. By opening their hearts to us, GOD has opened our way: by loosing the iron port of the Ottoman Empire, to the professed heralds of the Crucified, he has called them like another Cyrus, to enter in, and displayed the handwriting on the wall, till the Turk trembles like another Belshazzar. [See Note M.] To them, and to us--one household, one army--the common Captain of our Salvation, thus makes the "signs of the times" his banner, and bids us repossess the waste places of many generations.
To this exhilarating truth may be added another motive as inspiring. Is it not CHRIST'S dearest token to our times that something should have been already effected for the restoration of that Christian Unity, without which the world is not to know that the Father sent the Son? When we see a Bishop of our own Church taking sweet counsel with the aboriginal Clergy of the East; sitting, and kneeling, side by side with bishops and [22/23] priests from Jerusalem, Ephesus, and Smyrna; mingling with them, not as an insidious emissary, gaining their confidence to rend and destroy their flocks, but as a helper of their faith, and a supporter of their legitimate authority; when we see the representatives of such venerable sees humbling themselves to desire from us, what, were they less child-like, they would spurn from the Church of half-a-century; what more need I suggest than the joy which it must give the Crucified, in high Heaven, to see East and West embrace each other; to see His long estranged children thus meet and love, in Him? 1 might indeed--were I disposed to inflame your imagination, enlarge upon the beauty of seeing our little Church, thus ministering, already, life and love to her time-honoured sisters; and I might remind you of the loveliness of such piety, by mention of a picture which has charmed the world, pourtraying as it does, the story of a young and blooming daughter, who gave her nursing breast to the famished mouth of an old imprisoned father, and rendered back to the source of her own being, health and preservation. But I would rather appeal to your faith; to your love of Him whose dying prayer it was, that we might all be one. Remember too, the words of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive; and, after ages of rich experience of the lesser, let us crown our Church with the nobler blessing also, giving out the word of GOD, to those from whom, as yet, it came unto us only.
What an inspiring thought, might we dwell upon it, to think of the East restored by our help, and cemented forever with us, in the holiest union of heart and spirit! [23/24] I can only suggest it; and must waive, moreover, the recapitulation of motives which have been touched in answering objections. But remember how much has been already done, with our paltry and grudged expenditure. It would be ingratitude to GOD not to notice the unmistakeable marks by which he has distinguished the Church, in the field where her adversaries have signally failed. I say it not boastfully--not rejoicing over others--but I say it in gratitude to GOD, for a new note that we are His, and that His ancient commission has still the prerogative of His message to the Churches. For fifteen years have other labourers been on the same ground, professedly engaged in the same work, exhausting large appropriations of money, and putting forth, if we may credit them, untiring effort. Yet all this while they have gained not an inch on the confidence or regard of those Churches: [See Note N.] till at last--lest they should seem to have been idle--they have abandoned the plan of operations which has long been their vaunt and their apology, and disclosing themselves as open fomenters of schism, have "drawn away disciples after them," and now exhibit a beggarly retinue of a few score separatists from their legitimate pastors, as all the fruits of their long and costly exertions. [See Note O.] Brethren, to whose distinguishing hand do we owe it, that our mission has been as instinctively recognized, and accepted, as the other has been suspected and declined? To whom do we owe it, that with too little effort on our part, we have established a mission in Constantinople, from which the Levantine Christians crave, what from others they could not [24/25] confidently receive--the word of GOD. Who inspires this confidence, and shows the cross on our foreheads that makes us known as his accepted rebuilders and reformers? It has not been a professed difference in our policy: for, let it not yet be forgotten, that our much censured course of action, is that which our adversaries chose for themselves, and which, until lately, they were pledged to follow. [See Note P.] Till this very year, their promise was regarded as solemn, that they would not interfere with the polity or integrity of those ancient Churches, but simply strive to enlighten them. If so solemn a pledge has been at last thrown to the winds, in despair of success; if now it is as openly annulled, as it has long been secretly violated; [See Note Q.] what is not our encouragement to take the work, in which we now have no competitors, as put into our hands by GOD; and the more zealously to stand by those our brethren, to whose inveterate afflictions have thus been added, that desolating form of schism, of which we ourselves have long and bitter experience at home!
Alas! then, they that cry down with it! down with it to the ground! are now laying seige to the few bulwarks that remain of those glorious cities of GOD, from which of old went forth such armies of Christian Evangelists, to baptize the nations! Brethren, we are not of those who would pluck up, and destroy; but rather of those who "think upon those stones," and whom "it pitieth to see them in the dust!" Let us recognise then, our duty to "strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." This is Scriptural; this is Christ-like! And so by our offerings before the Lord this day, let us not only [25/26] show our readiness to "distribute to the necessities of Saints," but attest to the world, and to the Church of GOD, how deliberately and solemnly we have begun, and how steadfastly we will maintain a work, which the first and fullest law of our religion--love to CHRIST, and to the brotherhood--has inspired and laid upon us; and to which, distinguishing manifestations of the hand of GOD have set the seal and charter of the Kingdom of Heaven.
NOTES. NOTE A.
THE Letters and Circulars of Bishop Southgate fully support this postulate. See also "Spirit of Missions," August, 1846.
See Chapin's Primitive Church, p. 291. Fuller's Church History, Book II. p. 61.
"I did not anticipate, within the first year of my Episcopal residence, anything like the influence which has accrued to the mission from the course which events have taken, as I was far enough from anticipating the events themselves."--Bishop Southgate's Letter in Christian Witness, Sept. 18, 1846.
The Syrian Bishop of Jerusalem was present in the chancel at the Consecration of the Mission Chapel; no mere schismatical titular, such as the "Bishop of Damascus," who lately figured at the Consecration of St. Giles', Cheadle, (See London Tablet) but the genuine representative of an aboriginal Church. The Sunday Evening Service and Sermon, at the Chapel, are in Turkish. See Report in "Spirit of Missions," Aug. 1846.
For the facts here alluded to, see the Letters and Circulars of Bishop Southgate. The Sermon of Bishop Seabury on "Christian Unity," has been translated and circulated extensively. See "Report," 1846.
See Letter of Archbishop Matthew, to Bishop Southgate, April 17, O. S. 1846, which fully sustains this remark, and answers the outcry of persecution which has been raised against him. On this point, Bishop Southgate's corroborative testimony is important.
"The patriarch has strictly forbidden all violence and ill-usage [27/28] towards the dissenters, and has repeatedly interfered to prevent it. I think there can be no doubt, however, that some of them have suffered in their temporal interests, and some have even been beaten by their former comrades and associates. This has arisen from the fact, that most of the seceders are from the lower ranks of life, and are thus brought in contact with those who would have the least scruple about deeds of violence. Men of respectable standing could not be so treated. It arises from the lawless disposition of the lower orders, and puts in a very strong light the evil of exciting vain janglings among those who, as an intelligent and pious Armenian expressed it to me a day or two ago, 'are still in the A B C of religious knowledge.' There has also been, as I have formerly mentioned, an instance of corporal punishment inflicted by a vartabed. In this case the patriarch promptly interfered, and threatened with excommunication any such act, as contrary both to the spirit of the gospel and the laws of the Church."--Letter in Christian Witness.
Only two years since, Bishop Southgate himself was represented as having brought about "the Massacre of the Nestorians": a slander which has hardly evaporated before another, as shameless, is brought against the Patriarch, and, by implication, against him.
The charge that the Patriarch has forced subscriptions to corrupt confessions, is thus noticed by Bishop Southgate:
"I am happy to say, that I have seen no disposition in the Patriarch to enforce more than the standards of our own Church recognise as scriptural and primitive. But there have been, I am told, confessions put forth which are not consistent with such standards. None of these have emanated from the Patriarch; but I have reason to believe that ignorant priests in the interior have set forth forms, to which they required the accession of seceders, which forms contain things not enjoined by the Armenian Church, but, unhappily, practised to some extent among the people, and which the patriarch and others, both of the clergy and laity, wish to get rid of."--Ibid.
We should remember that Archbishop Cranmer's first reforms, to which he compelled subscription, were far from being pure; and expect no more from Greek Reformers than from our own. Creamer never attained such correct views of toleration as those exhibited in Abp. Matthew's beautiful Letter.
When Jeremy Taylor's "Liberty of Prophesying" first appeared, it was condemned as heresy, not by prelates and Churchmen, but by the Puritan Parliament then in power. Probably, at their instance, it was denounced as heresy by one Rotherford; on which Milton turned upon his fellow Puritans in defence of the [28/29] Bishop, and wrote that stinging little poem "On the new forcers of conscience under the Long Parliament." See Heber 's Life of Taylor, ii. 203.
It is a curious fact that while Archbishop Matthew regards it as an insult to Turkish Law, to suppose the Sultan would allow him to follow excommunication by temporal penalties, the letter of English Law allows the Archbishop of Canterbury to do so, to this day: For in the state concessions to the Church, as an establishment, the State engages by the law De excommunicato capiendo, that "on receiving due notice of the excommunication of any given person, he shall be arrested, and put in prison until he is absolved." What would the Patriarch think of that; when he regards the imputation of such powers to him as a calumny against His Royal Highness, the Sultan and his Laws! See Letter.
The Congregational Missionaries consider the Orientals as "benighted souls," (see Bp. Southgate's Reply, p. 15) but seem to forget that they must not then be judged by our standards. Compare the Patriarch's letter, with the opinions, on the same subject, of Cranmer and his most learned cotemporaries; and remember that in privilege and learning the Patriarch is far behind our Reformers, while in practical wisdom in this matter, he is a century before them. I purposely forbear instituting a comparison, which might be thought odious, between the Patriarch and the Puritans of New England. But let no such comparison be provoked.
Our own venerable Diocesan was not less furiously assailed in 1843, than Bishop Southgate is at present. I need only refer to the Review of his Charge, which appeared in the pages of the New Englander.
Alluding to the call of the Board of Missions, at their late meeting, (June, 1846) upon the friends of the mission to Constantinople.
The Ember-weeks are observed at St. John's, Hartford, with special reference to Missions; and during the last Ember-week the Rector urged upon his parishioners the support of the Missions to China and Africa, as well as of that to Constantinople. It is due them to add that they have always liberally contributed to the former, and have allowed no private preferences to interfere with [29/30] performing their duty to the Church at large. Had all our parishes acted on this principle there would have been no lack of funds to sustain Bp. Southgate.
The allusion is to the toleration which has been granted by the Porte to persons renouncing the religion of the Koran: a deathblow to that superstition, for which we owe everything, under GOD, to the Christian Diplomacy of England.
In proof of this, see the Patriarch's Letter before cited.
"And now why do these missionaries thrust themselves into a Church which acknowledges Christ as its only head, and receives the Holy Scriptures and the Faith of the Universal Church? Why do they treat us as if we were heathen? * * * Far better would it have been if their labours for the last fifteen years had been given to the heathen."
Such are some of his simple, but earnest complainings.
I refer again to the Patriarch.
"The missionaries in fifteen years, have gained about sixty partizans, including men, women and children. It appears, therefore, most astonishing, that they multiply these to "thousands." But if we consider well, we shall see that they are obliged to make such statements; for they know well that were they to tell the plain truth, every one would be surprised, and their supporters, changing their minds, would say, 'Ye are idle.' But where are the thousands of whom they speak? Where, in the whole Turkish Empire, are they to be found? Who will show these multitudes to him who desires to see them? They say that 'not a few,' oppressed by the danger of poverty, have returned to their obediance to the Patriarch. Yet if these also were numbered with their partizans, they could only reckon some two hundred persons. Forty-eight alone have been excommunicated. And have those who have returned, indeed come back from danger of poverty I It is certain that conviction and a love of their Church have brought them back; for they have affirmed under their own signatures that they were seduced to wander. I have also learned the motives of those whom they affirm to be persecuted. They have themselves told me, 'We receive from the missionaries four times as much as we did from our own nation. We gain an easy livelihood. How, then, shall we return to our Church and poverty? I was sad and silent at their departure, for I saw that they were actuated by pecuniary motives."
 This charge of BRIBERY and CORRUPTION, appears incredible. But I am compelled to believe it probable by the following extraordinary testimony of a Congregational Minister:
"But what will the Churches say, when told, as I now tell them, that Mar Gabriel was literally bribed and bought off from the Papists to the Mission; and that his is not the only case in which Nestorian ecclesiastics have been bought up, for months and years together, by the payment of a regular salary, as a mere sinecure! I wrote to the returned Missionary referred to above, respecting these matters. In reply, among other things he says: * * In regard to salarying Nestorian Bishops, on my congratulating Dr. Anderson last spring that these sinecures had been dropped, he replied that 'he presumed the Mission managed this matter now by presents.'"
This remarkable disclosure is from "the Religious Recorder," with signature and date, "A. A. Phelps, Aug. 22, 1846."
From Mr. Phelps' letter I quote the following facts: which he relates as proof of an awful connivance, on the part of the Congregational Board, with almost heathen corruptions.
"In the instructions to Mr. Hamlin, (Herald, 1839, page 41,) the Secretaries say: You are not sent among those churches to proselyte. Let the Armenian remain an Armenian if he will, and the Greek a Greek, and the Nestorian a Nestorian, and the Oriental an Oriental. * * * * * They bear the Christian name. They have borne it since it was first given at Antioch. They have steadfastly endured terrible persecution on account of it. Of that therefore it would be the height of injustice and cruelty to deprive them. The means to be used, then, are the means for reforming a degenerate Christian Church."
Mr. Phelps adds: "I have now in my possession the original copy of a letter written at 'Beyroot, Jan. 9, 1837,' by the Rev. J. D. Paxton, and addressed to the Rev. Josiah Brewer, then a missionary at Smyrna. Mr. Paxton says: 'The present plan, as I saw it practically at work, seems to be to avoid very much, if not altogether, touching those points which we consider the most fatal errors, and which we really wish to correct; as praying to the Virgin and Saints, worshipping pictures, obtaining pardon of sins by the priests, relying on fasting as meritorious, holding to baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, &c. * * * The plan is gradually and almost insensibly to reach the evil and effect the reform. * * * The plan embraces the idea of not separating persons from those corrupt Churches, but keeping them in them, not pulling down or injuring those Churches, as it is called, but working in them, purifying and reforming them.'"
This is all very well; in fact nearly identical with the much [31/32] reviled Instructions drawn up by the late Bp. Griswold, as the course marked out for our own Missionary. But all this has now been exploded by the Congregational Missionaries, whose "infant Church," and "Confession," or new Creed, may be seen in black and white in the "Missionary Herald; Sept. 1846. Bishop Southgate remarks on this movement:
"Our brethren of the American Board have now distinctly taken the ground of schism, and have, within the last two weeks, completed the work of separation, by setting over their adherents one of the number as pastor. They henceforth appear only in the position of opponents to the Eastern Churches, and their labor is simply one of destruction, and re-edification into Presbyterian or Congregational communities. The Roman Catholics do the same. Their work is purely one of proselytism. There remains no body of Christians besides the Anglican Church, to promote an Anglican reformation. There remains none else to approach the Oriental communions in love, and take them by the hand, and, in the spirit of fraternal faithfulness, lead them on to the purer light, and the revived holiness of their former days."--Letter of July 17, 1846. Christian Witness.
I say "secretly violated," because Bishop Southgate tells us "This is not the first time that schism has been attempted. It was in full force when I came to the country in 1836. But the disaffected then, have all, so far as I know, with a single exception, repented of their design, and returned to the Church." Besides this, the plan now discarded, though so fair in appearance, is characterized by Mr. Goodell, (one of the Missionaries) by a name which fully sustains my words--"The Sapping and Mining System." See Phelps' Letters and references to "Missionary Herald," April, 1835.