The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.--Acts xi. 26.
This text opens the record of Universal Evangelization. It announces the Christian Era, which, beginning with the Incarnation as its epoch, becomes the base for computing time among enlightened nations. He from whom we are thus named had been "the desire of nations." From the inspired lyrics of Isaiah the Sibyl had caught and diffused the prophecy. Borrowing from both, the genius of Virgil enlarged it, not knowing what he sung. In justifiable paraphrase he seems to say:
"Comes that last time of the Gunman hymn;
Begins afresh a grand career of ages;
Returns the Virgin and the Golden Realm;
From highest heaven descends a Seed sublime,
And from His birth the mighty months move on.
Now wanes the Iron Rule. O'er all the world
Rises a sunlit race; the Day-Star reigns,"
In the great psalm of Redemption which the suffering Saviour adopted as His own upon the Cross, He claims "a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made." This is the Sun gilded race--the gens aurea of Virgil. ["Teste David et Sibylla."] "So David and the Sibyl say." This is the people "called Christians first at Antioch." On such a text I purpose to speak of the Catholic religion, and to commend it to the American people. May I say nothing unworthy, lest I should be profane [3/4] and break the Third Commandment when I invoke of the Thrice Holy Name. Amen.
Let the Psalmist complete the prophecy of his own Imperial Child, as the Light of the World: "It goeth forth from the utter-most part of the heaven, and runneth about unto the end of it again, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." From Antioch to Minneapolis; to San Francisco, and thence to the Orient again; over the Pacific, shines on every meridian the Sun of Righteousness. St. Paul appropriates the Psalmist's words, and claims their intent for the Apostolic mission: "Their sound is gone out into all lands and their words unto the ends of the world." Even so, dear Lord! And here this day are thy servants, witnesses of Thy power to promise and to fulfil. There was "a handful of corn, high upon hills," when He left the Eleven and ascended from Olivet; behold how it "shakes like Lebanon" and is green, in fruitfulness o'er all the earth! Well nigh nineteen ages have passed, and as the first century touches the twentieth, here are we, the same people who were "called Christians first at Antioch." Among all Catholic Churches God has made the Anglican communion the truest representative of those Christians. Our solemn worship, the Apostolic priesthood, and the pure Oblation are here unchanged. Identical by conservation of form and continuity of transmission, no other ministry is ours than that of men like Timotheus and Titus, who were charged to hand it down. The divine assurance has proved true: the gates of Sheol have not prevailed against it. Were the Christians of Antioch with us to-day, in bodily presence, nothing essential in our liturgic rites would be to them new or strange. In Psalter and Litany and Eucharist they would recognize the traditions of Jerusalem, where with one accord "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers." Are there any other Christians in America who can say the same? God be praised if there are. Marvellous fidelity of Christ to Christians! To Him be all the glory.
 It is, as I suppose, the last opportunity of my life to exhort my brethren in solemn council assembled, and I must indulge myself for a moment in words not conventionally demanded, but dictated by every instinct of my heart. I feel the greatness of the occasion and the exceptional dignity of those to whom I speak. No such assembly as this is elsewhere to be found in America--Catholic Christians, enjoying in a superlative degree all the blessings of the primitive Christianity; without the sufferings which ennobled the first confessors of the faith, it is true, but in humble measure ready, I trust, to shew their faith by their deeds. This many of you are doing--the laity in largeness of bounty and devout work, the clergy in the poverty and trials of missionaries; the Episcopate in the struggles and sorrows inseparable from "the care of all the Churches."
Brethren, beloved in the Lord, you are here to endow your country with the Nicene Faith and with the Catholic religion. It is yours to reconstruct a chaotic and inorganic Christianity--to enrich the people with the Athanasian idea of God; with the institutes of Church polity formulated by Cyprian; with those principles of the primitive Christianity which Franklin eulogized as fundamental for civil constitutions. All these have been commended to American thought by patriotic and learned Americans. [I refer to John Fiske, Jefferson, and Dr. Franklin.] Oh! the duties and privileges which are ours in this ancient communion. in this Church of Bede and Alcuin, of Oswald and of Alfred; of the grand succession of bishops and presbyters who, with faithful laymen, laid the foundation of English and American freedom, and whose lives and characters were reproduced in our Colonial presbyters and laity; in our Washington and Jay, our White and Seabury, in our Hobart and Whittingham, our Ravenscroft and Doane and Atkinson, our Muhlenberg, Breck and Tucker.
I give you joy of your glorious calling to enter into their labors, and to perpetuate their triumphs as soldiers of the Cross. In life, in death, and for evermore, may we be good and faithful servants, like those from whom we have derived the unspeakable blessing of our holy religion.
 1. Discipleship. If we are Christians like those at Antioch, it is because we, like them, are "disciples," instructed by the lively oracles wherein is the pattern of the Mount. To get the Scriptures first, and then to understand them aright, we must be "followers of the Churches of God," which in Judea were made the normal example for conformity, and a tribunal of appeal against innovation. Concerning all novelties in faith it is enough to say: "We have no such custom, neither the Churches of God." By this rule was recognized and settled the Canon of the New-Testament Scriptures, and by the same rule must be accepted the Apostolic Episcopate. The maxim of Vincent of Lerins is Scriptural in all its points. The unalterable Creed is "the faith once delivered to the saints," and that only is Catholic in doctrine and discipline which goes back to Antioch. Not by local example of any partriarchal see, not by general acceptance in Orient or Occident severally, but by Christians "everywhere." Not by some Christians everywhere, but "by all" the faithful in all Churches. Not for any matter, however good in itself, can Catholicity be claimed. if it cannot stand this crucial test--"always." Nothing can be imposed upon or required of any, as terms of Catholic communion, which is not sustained by these three conditions. Nothing whatever, which falls short of even one of them can be Catholic. The Quod semper is therefore an ultimate test. For Catholicity dates from Jerusalem and Antioch, and everything that claims such character must be historically proved as a doctrine, or a rule of worship, that was always received by the consent of all. In the earliest legislation at Nicaea, the Gospels were enthroned, in token of the presence of the Holy Ghost, Christ's only Vicar; and this was the absolute law--viz.: "Let the ancient customs prevail." The Nicene Creed meets these conditions. A novel Creed, manufactured only three hundred years ago, and developed by recent additions, is therefore a mere counterfeit. To call it Catholic is a vulgar misnomer. Instead of "always," it is of yesterday. Instead of "everywhere," it is Roman. Instead of "by all," it is the product of a lawless conventicle of Italians. In America it has no claim [6/7] to Mission; and we are here to show in a glorious contrast what Catholicity means, and who are the Catholics.
This majestic word "Catholicity" means what the Apostles "ordained everywhere in all the churches." Or, again, it means what St. Paul reduced to a pattern in himself and Apollos whose example was also that of other Apostles; so that he could say, over and over again, "Be followers of me, even as I of Christ." [I. Cor. iv. 6.] And against all novelties in religion, how comprehensive it makes this rule when he adds: "that ye might learn in us not to think above that which is written!" "Written," that is in my Epistle, and in what I now reduce to a proverb--to wit: ".Be not puffed up, one against another." He refers to what he had said just before, in strong reproof: "Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided?" There was no sect in Antioch when the disciples were first called Christians. Nor can there ever be any unity where one sets himself up as a separatist, on pretext of Peter against Paul, while another boasts himself as exclusively of Christ. Catholicity means the "Word of God," and the "Way of God." [Acts xviii, 26.] What, then, does the text teach us, if not that the disciples of Antioch were Catholic and Apostolic, and that such should ever be the people called Christians?
2. "Called Christians." Here is the glorious idea of Christendom. Let me linger awhile on the almost confounding thoughts suggested by the conjunction of such names as Antioch and Minneapolis, the Mississippi and the Orontes. What a geographical marvel--or, historically, what a composite of novelty raw and recent with antiquity the most stale and effete! But how much it is a greater thing to recite the Psalter here, or here to rehearse the Nicene Creed, than ever it was in Syria or Bithynia! With us is the triumphant fact. There it was but the "patience of hope." For them, Catholicity was a limited expression. The "ends of the earth" meant the Ganges on one side, and the Pillars of Hercules on the other. But here, nineteen hundred years later, in regions remote beyond their utmost dream, and which, with domains [7/8] yet farther West, we have added to Christendom within our own lifetime--here with what rapture the Militant Church may sing: "His dominion shall be from sea to sea; from the river unto the ends of the earth: and all the earth shall be filled with His majesty!" Yes, and with what a shout should we add the Psalmist's response: "Amen and amen!"
To these ejeculations are appended remarkable words: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Is this but a leaden note--a mere colophon to signify the exhaustion of the poet, or the close of his contributions to Holy Writ? Nay, rather this is a golden climax--"words that burn;" but more, they are "thoughts that breathe." They are inspiration superlatively uplifted. The wings of the Heavenly Dove hover over the singer as he turns from his harp and, like the floods, claps his hands with reiterated Amens." I venture to interpret this solemn epigraph by what an English poet imagines in a far less majestic conception. A bard is foretelling the progress and unconquerable mastery of poesy over mind. Like the Sibyl, he is in a frenzy of foresight. He sees and hears something that strikes him dumb. In prophetic rapture there come to him, from the far future, the lyric notes of bards unborn. Indistinct, indeed, and from utmost realms as it were from one of our own poets singing of the Minnehaha:
"Their distant warblings lessen on his ear,
And, lost in long futurity, expire.
So King David. He has outlined the eternal Empire of his greater son. He has foreseen and heard before, in prophetic inspiration, something of the Te Deum, or the Creed of the Christian Church. What he has prayed for and foretold is more than realized: "All the earth shall be filled with His majesty." Yes; but what is this? Suddenly from far beyond the capes of Europe and Africa, from over wastes of waters, there come upon his ear, out of "long futurity"--perhaps our own worship of this day--the hymns and confessions of a people which was "to be born, whom the Lord hath made." He is overwhelmed by what [8/9] he foresees, and faints in his marvellous illumination. He seems, like the Apostle, "caught up into Paradise:"
"Visions of glory, spare my aching sight!
Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul!"
The daughter of David shall take up his forsaken harp and tell the rest in her Magnificat; but "the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." He can ask no more.
3. "Antioch," says the text. It surprises us at first that the Holy City should so soon give place to the wicked capi tal of the Seleucids, and that this should be made by Apostolic inspiration the radiating centre of the Gospel. But consider what this implies. The Apostles' task was the pulling down of strongholds, the taming of barbarians to submit to the easy yoke of Christ. This movement indicates their reliance upon the power of the Spirit, and a sublime confidence in their resources as partakers of His manifold gifts. They begin with the citadel of Asiatic infamies, where priests like those of Astarte and of Moloch still disseminated the doctrines of devils and multiplied their lascivious and cruel devotions. Even the city of the Caesars was less pestilential than the Syrian metropolis. The Latin satirist, as you recollect, affects, to regard the Tiber as fouled from the Orontes, which poured into Rome a torrent of foreign pollutions worse than any influx that had defiled it before. Antioch was indeed the sewer of the Eastern races, concentrating all the abominations which Joshua was sent to punish. Their Greek culture had degenerated into effeminacy, and a Babel of mongrel populations, in their barbarous dialects, continually offended the Most High by religious rites which were blasphemies. But St. Luke's own calling was that of the heroic profession which seeks the raging epidemic, and he well understood the maxim of the great Healer, "They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick." With what intrepid faith in the salt of the Gospel the little company of Apostolic missionaries undertook a healing of the waters at the source! From the port of Antioch issued the mission of Barnabas and Saul, and soon the Tiber itself ran limpid from the infusion. Seek [9/10] no further the solution of the paradox, when we reflect how soon, in spite of persecutions most cruel and persistent, Antioch realizes Samson's riddle: "Out of the eater comes forth meat, and sweetness from that which was rank." In immediate succession to the Apostolic age, it had, for its bishop, Ignatius, the dauntless martyr, who goes triumphing to Rome, to be thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. There, too, St. Chrysostom succeeds him, and preaches under the shadow of Mt. Silpius, where the Christian oblation has deposed the idolatrous incense of which the last whiff had been wafted from its summit--the expiring breath of an extinguished Polytheism.
4. Reflect, moreover, that the Judaism which St. James was burying with honour, in Jerusalem, was now to give place to Catholicity. Bloody sacrifices were to vanish before the Eucharist. I say the Holy Eucharist, viewed in its liturgic features--Godward--and not merely in its administration manward; for in Antioch, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi concerning the universal worship of the New Testament, their prophets and teachers fasted and "ministered unto the Lord." [Mal. i. 11. Acts xiii, 2, and St. John ii. 23] The "times of the Gentiles" were thus inaugurated. When we recall the tenacity of life with which the perishing ritual of the Law encumbered and hindered the growth of the Gospel--how even the blessed Peter, forgetting his miraculous discipline at Joppa, was proved deficient in the plenitude of that anointing which was the singular endowment of the Apostle of the Gentiles; when we reflect how Cephas was rebuked by that "vessel of election" whose patriarchate we are illustrating by our presence here, and are extending from California to China and Japan, and when we take to heart this glorious idea of a religion in its cradle, of which the scope and promised empire was the universe--Antioch startles no more. The Jew and the Greek were already one in the Catholic Church. Of St. Peter's primacy in the Apostolic College, while yet the Gospel was to the Jew first, as afterward to the Gentile, this was the consummation. To [10/11] Cephas was now adjudged the limited apostleship of the Circumcision, and while St. James presided at Jerusalem, he took his way over the great road that opened from Syria to the Euphrates, where he ministered to Parthians and Medes and Elamites, whom he had baptized at the first Pentecost. From Babylon he dates his letter to Hebrews of the Dispersion in Asia Minor. In another, who was "not a whit behind this chiefest of the Apostles," in one who had been last, were now fulfilled Christ's words, and St. Paul was made first. To him in worldwide commission, all the Gentiles were committed by the Master Himself. It is he who plants the Cross on the Acropolis. It is his to gather the inorganic congregation of Jews and proselytes in Italy, and to found the Church upon the Palatine. He presses to the utmost bounds of the West--evangelizes Spain, and, either personally or by his immediate converts, makes even Britain a trophy of the Cross. To him our own and all the Latin Churches, with the possible exception of Milan, trace their origin. To him we owe it, in the far-reaching purpose of the Master, that we are Christians and are gathered here today, where the name of this Apostle is so providentially set in the adjacent city of "St. Paul." Let it remind us that the vast Catholic communion of which we are members is pre-eminently the Pauline school of the modern age. Such it will prove itself, I trust in God, in the century which is about to open. And as it will open with many tokens of promise and hope to all mankind, let it be our sole ambition in this council in all humility to do our appointed work and leave results to God.
5. Antioch necessarily introduces Ignatius. He was a contemporary of the Apostles, and the earliest witness to what they established as the constitution of the Catholic Church. From the Orontes he follows St. Paul to the Tiber, preaching the same Gospel, maintaining the same system of corporate unity which is embodied in St. Paul's Epistles; and dying, like St. Paul, a witness to the Roman world, he is devoured by wild beasts in the Coliseum, that epitome of Rome's grandeur and her crimes. It is not the gladiator that I see before [11/12] me in that majestic amphitheatre. I see Christ's martyr--butchered, indeed, "to make a Roman holiday," but a conqueror because a victim; with his last breath dooming the whole estate of Roman idolatry to perish where he died, and its Caesars to perish also, that Christ alone might reign in universal empire.
Now, what does Antioch teach us in the testimony of Ignatius? He teaches the infant Church to beware of divisions and philosophic schools, and "false brethren unawares brought in." He assumes that Christ had not left His doctrine, like another Socrates, to be shaped by academies and tortured by sophists, each one "drawing disciples after him." Christ was a living King--reigning as the Son of David, enthroned in our humanity in the heavens, but present everywhere by his Vicar, the Holy Ghost, with a corporate fellowship, His visible Church. The Apostles were all gone to their blest repose, but the success of their institutions was now apparent in the organized unity of all the Churches. The martyr warns them against factions and separatists. In his view, apostles, presbyters, and deacons were the Lord's gifts unto men for the work of the ministry. In steadfast communion with these, the believer is safe in the Body of Christ --a body "fitly joined together, and compacted in every part." In antagonism to the sect-spirit, and the individualism of "many masters," here is the Church-idea, and it comes to us from primitive Antioch. Our only Master is Christ, His only Vicar the Holy Ghost, speaking infallibly in the Holy Scriptures, of which the witness and keeper is the Apostolic Church. In that one communion, every local church holding the one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, professes the faith once delivered to the saints, which is unchangeable and always to be maintained by fidelity to the great canon: "But ye, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of Christ." In the Second Epistle of St. Peter, and in the Epistle of St. Jude, we have the same rule of faith which is formulated by St. Vincent of Lerins: "The Holy Scriptures as interpreted everywhere, always, and by all." This is the Gospel once delivered, and not to be altered. We [12/13] are here to reassert these principles, as those more or less forcibly maintained by Anglicans from the earliest times, and finally made the base of that Catholic restoration which was effected by our martyrs and confessors in the sixteenth century.
If an angel from heaven should presume to pervert the Apostolic Gospel, or to preach any other than that which he had preached, "let him be anathema," says St. Paul; and, waxing warm over the very thought, he affirms that they had received the whole Gospel, and reiterates this terrible anathema. One word about this form of inspired discipline. It is borrowed from Antioch. In his First Epistle to the Corinthians, he subjoins his characteristic autograph, and as a token that it is Paul that is speaking, and none other than the missionary from Antioch, he adopts an Aramaic formula, learned in the Church of the first Christians. As if Mount Ebal rang again, he subjoins: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema maran-atha." May the city of St. Paul, in Minnesota, be a witness forever to the corner-stone of all truth of which this Apostolic commination is the eternal safeguard.
6. "Physician, heal thyself." Everybody has a right to rebuke our inefficiency, and the manifold defects of our character as stewards of such ineffable treasures, which it is our duty to give to all people. Faithful are such wounds; let us accept them always. God forgive us! We are unprofitable servants, and deserve such censure as Christ himself uttered against Laodicea. But even Laodicea had all that Christ bestowed upon the Apostles, and their successors, with the keys of the Kingdom, and this American Church has the same. Let us "be zealous and repent," and we, too, shall be blest with all that was promised to Smyrna by the Head of the Church. No abuse of the powers so solemnly bestowed, no enormities by which they have been made to minister to sin and not to edification, no corruptions by which they have been defiled, in anywise render it less our duty, but rather the reverse, to bear our testimony as His Apostles did from the beginning. Teaching the Ephesians, St. Paul could [13/14] affirm that he had "kept back nothing profitable." The Christians of Antioch were not too proud to be learners; they were "the disciples." When men find "the Word of God," they become practical Christians by learning "the Way of God." Both are clearly revealed and closely conjoined in Scripture; in the two together we have the Catholic religion. "Go and make disciples"--there is our commission; and we are here to fulfil it. Americans are largely a Christian people, blessed with the Scriptures, and with many an eloquent and mighty Apollos to teach them much of its practical meaning. But as to the "Way of God" they are at the mercy of many masters, crying: "Lo, here, and lo, there!' It is our mission to persuade them, as Aquila and Priscilla did a greater preacher than all their eloquent doctors, to sit at the feet even of mere catechists who can teach them "the way of God more perfectly."
And for this sort of catechetical work we are well prepared. We are a royal priesthood; and every man, woman and child among us has a means at hand by which Apollos can learn how to be magnified from a herald preaching the gospel, into something like St. Paul who asserts that he is a "priest sacrificially ministering the Gospel" as well as preaching it. [See the Revised Version, but especially the Greek, of Rom. xv. 16.] Here is the Book of Common Prayer. I affirm, what nobody can logically refute, that as a practical compend of the Catholic religion, whole and entire, it is the grandest, clearest, and most comprehensive answer that can be given to every one that asketh, What and where is the Catholic religion? Everybody that uses it and loves it, even if deficient in appreciation of the fact, is a Catholic Christian; if he does so as an intelligent and well instructed Christian, he is a Catholic theologian of no mean attainments. And every such Christian who knows how to commend it to others, and who does so by his holy living and beneficent works of faith, is, like Aquila and Priscilla, a Catholic missionary, speaking the truth in love and persuading all Christians to return to the Apostolic traditions for which St. Paul pleads: "Speaking the same things, and striving together for the faith of the [14/15] Gospel." Blessed Lord! how can any Christian, in view of the inefficiency, the scattering and waste of forces which disgrace American Christianity, withhold his heart and hand from this work of restoration?
7. Among Christians who have received like precious faith with us, and who accept with us the Scriptures, the Creed, the Sacraments, what hinders a return to unity? Is it not, when reduced to ultimate analysis, the love of father and mother, of kinsfolk and acquaintance--in short, of personal relations?--a love so amiable, dutiful and praiseworthy in itself that nobody can marvel at it, much less censure it, save only when the love of Christ constrains us to love Him more than all these. For suppose Christian unity could regain all the resources of men and means now engaged in local rivalries, if not in wraths, strifes and pernicious emulations; suppose it might show all our faith and works concentrated on the evangelization of the heterogeneous populations of our great republic--who can refrain from the conviction that angels would sing alleluias over thousands born in a day, instead of only now and then, here and there, "over one sinner that repenteth?"
The irreligion and destitution of millions, for which Christians are largely responsible, may react on us and quench our candle, if it be not taken from under the bushel where we hide it. I forbear to enlarge upon negro destitution and heathenism in the desolated South. We place a dozen preachers in one petty village and, for want of the superfluous eleven, leave as many of our newer settlements without any ministrations whatever. Even in our older states the farming districts are lapsing into utter indifference and neglect of religion. The last days seem to have come, and "the perilous times" are upon us. The Apostle's terrible portraiture of final apostasy is paralleled by what comes to us in journals as every day's report. The "new woman," scorning the glory of maternity and the beautiful realm of a Christian home; loathsome theatricals and operas, with the ballet on the stage, and equal indecency in the boxes; shameless nudity in bathing and semi-nudity [15/16] in evening attire, with lascivious dances, once banished by Christian decorum from social life, are flagrantly characteristic of American manners. [See the ethical teachings of Clement of Alexandria.] Suicides, murders, outrages too awful to be named; scandalous marriages; husbands and wives slaying each other. or seeking divorces which even heathen lawgivers would not tolerate; the decay of family ties. beginning with "disobedience to parents," and the loss of "natural affection;" all this, leading to scorn of law, contempt for magistrates, lawless revenges and cruel retributions; the decay of conscience in public men; the corruption of whole legislatures; socialistic anarchy and threats of a warfare upon society, with torch and dynamite, and with nameless inventions, the product of our boasted science--such are the staple of journalism of which its constant "evil communications corrupt good manners," or aggravate what is already bad. Worse than all, in some respects, is the chronic cowardice which has settled upon men who should be watchmen to discover and martyrs to reform. To what are we drifting so rapidly? "Behold a nation," says one, "rotten before it is ripe." A critic of immense credit heretofore has said: "All canvass and no ballast;" and he predicts a total wreck.
But I am not a pessimist. Remembering the ten righteous who might have saved Sodom, in answer to the intercessions of one faithful "friend of God," why despair of a country where millions intercede, and are among the salt of the earth?
8. The most rabid of our antagonists, the brilliant but fanatical De Maistre, in words which are now familiar to us all, recognized the Anglican communion as the motive power in Christendom from which restored unity must proceed. The movement he predicted has begun. The Lambeth appeal has reached the Christian conscience in many lands. But it was modestly instituted by us, in Chicago, nine years ago. It is, therefore, our mission to keep it before the Christians of our beloved country. We speak to the best and wisest and most learned men in the nation, who, though great and mighty in the Scriptures, like Apollos the eloquent preacher, [16/17] would yet become dearer to Christ if, like the same Apollos, they might condescend to sit at the feet of Aquila, to learn "the way of God more perfectly." It is not with arrogance (God forbid!) that I venture thus to put the case to men more learned, more wise, and more godly than myself; men who stand before the nation in vastly more popular and intimate relations. Quite the reverse, God knoweth. [May the writer venture to recall attention to his little book--"Apollos or the Way of God"--published by Parker, Oxford; and by Lippincott. Philadelphia.] It is just because they are all this that I entreat them to use their glorious faculties for the noblest ends, after the unselfish example of the Apostles. Christ can multiply and feed the souls of starving millions out of the basket which a disciple of Antioch may chance to bear; but before He works miracles He will enjoin organization. He will make the men "sit down in companies;" He will give apostolic men to be their ministers; and, so brought into order and system, thousands will be fed who are famishing now. What hinders? Are the unhappy divisions of American Christians bred of convictions that there is no common faith? or that a particular Gospel is the heritage of some one particular sect? or that a divided and particolored Gospel, held in rags and tatters between them all, is good enough for America?
Is the seamlesss raiment thus rent forever? Or, if it is really believed that we are substantially one already, why then perpetuate divisions that so absolutely hinder the triumphs of the Gospel in foreign missions, and not less in our beloved country?
It is supposed to be a forcible answer when it is said: "Very good! You come over to us, and all will be well." But we are the only Christians that never propose this to others. In our appeal there is nothing for ourselves as a local Church: we are speaking for the Catholic Church of the Creed. Reconstruct your relations with that; you will then vastly outnumber us and we must join you; for we cannot, without sin, perpetuate separation with any genuine Catholics. Could anything be more unselfish than such proposals? If Melanchthon, if Calvin, if Baxter, if Wesley were living, [17/18] what would they advise their followers to do? In their books they all testify to this consummation as devoutly to be desired. To their honour, none of them considered their reformations as complete. To their followers they bequeathed an unfinished work, with exhortations not to leave it in the imperfect state enforced on them by evil days and cruel wars; nay in Calvin's instance, with anathemas on those who should refuse a restored episcopate of our primitive sort. Everything they desiderated is found with us. But we do not press that consideration. The Swedes and Finlanders and our venerated Moravian brethren are said to possess the historic episcopate. If their claims are dubious, in any degree, let them turn to "the Old Catholics," by whom the end of the controversy on this matter might be legitimately supplied. We do not covet such an office: it would look ungracious to propose it; we sympathize with great and good men who dread what might seem to our countrymen a humiliating surrender. Let them settle all these things for themselves. It will take time to heal the disorders of time. But every step in the right direction draws us nearer together. Let the Moravians, for example, complete the labours of their pure and learned and lovely De Schweinitz, demonstrate the reality of their inheritance, and wake up to their responsibility for possessing gifts too long unvalued and unimparted. They may be "healers of the breach and restorers of paths to dwell in." Gracious Lord, what glories await such restorers!
9. When the Synod of Dort received the English bishops as visitors they were welcomed with lamentations over the contrast between the local reformation in Holland and that of the English Church, which was a restoration to the primitive Catholicity. Their president said: "We, however, have not been so greatly blessed." They had forfeited, to say the least, many of those secondary privileges which are happily preserved to us--privileges which, to appropriate the eloquence of Tully, "if they be only regarded as a refreshment to the mind and senses, are of all such delights the most humane and the most ennobling. No other pleasures are so equally suitable to all places, all ages, and all times. The [18/19] Prayer Book itself is a literature which educates the young and consoles the aged, affords us the ornament of our prosperity, and our resource and consolation in affliction. The charm of our homes, it is no disadvantage abroad. It beguiles the watches of the night; we take it with us when we voyage; in our country retreats of the summer it is our companion still." Who does not recognize these, apart from higher considerations, as the rich advantages of a Churchman's life? The Synod of Dort at least deserves the credit which Cicero assigns to some when he adds: "Ah! if indeed we ourselves are not so blessed, nor permitted to possess so much, nevertheless, it is something to appreciate the happiness of others, and to admire what we see them so richly enjoy." Would to God no American believer had the misfortune to feel the forfeiture of such treasures, and to adopt the sigh of Dordrecht: "It is not ours to be so greatly blest!" When we reflect on the proportions of poetry in the Scriptures, surely we must not be blamed because we enjoy in so many forms all the poetry of Christianity. That great layman and statesman, Edmund Burke, whose purity of taste is sustained in his "Essay on the sublime and Beautiful," recognizes his Anglican mother as the King's daughter who is "all glorious within," who adorns herself externally with the chaste ornaments of a spouse and matron. It appears, as he portrays it, "in buildings, in music, in decoration, in speech and in dignity of persons, with modest splendor, with unassuming state, with mild majesty and sober pomp." Note the adjectives--"modest," "unassuming," "mild," and "sober." Whatever is the reverse of these in religion is meretricious: it marks the harlot, not the bride.
We urge our appeal, it is true, on no sentimental grounds, but because we retain ordinances of Christ and of the original Christians which many lack. Who will deny me the privilege of commending to the American people even the secondary advantages of Catholic Christianity? True to Christ as the atoning Saviour, first of all, His church would be in its comprehensive unity, most precious as a standard of morals and a base of social unity; as a fortress of truth [19/20] against the assaults of Jesuits on the one hand, and of skeptics on the other, and, at the same time, as the only bond of organic fellowship with all historic churches, "if ever such a blessing shall be mercifully restored to Christendom." [Baxter and the Presbyterians of A. D. 1660.]
It is noteworthy that the eloquent Lactantius predicts an obliteration of natural beauties from the earth as one token of the last days, when they approach. Look at the ugliness inflicted everywhere on natural scenery, and the wanton injury done to the charms of landscape, by eyesores which advertise offensively vile wares of the market, but far more strikingly denote bad taste and a lack o f public self-respect. But shall "the beauty of holiness" be banished as ruthlessly? And may we not love the worship which promotes the love of God as our Father, and of His Church as our Mother? How blest would be the unity of true believers in America in keeping with one heart and voice the sweet succession of feasts and fasts that beautify the Christian year; in maintaining the unities of worship, in which all might join; in making every place where Christians are gathered to keep holyday a common home for all; and finally, in obliterating forever the hideous aspect of chaotic sects, by which the power of the Gospel is paralyzed and the minds of the masses so distracted about the existence of truth that they lapse into indifference and irreligion. Alas! why should such scandals be tolerated by professed followers of a common Master and Redeemer?
10. Do we dictate as conditions of fellowship any confessions or formulas that go back no further than to the days of Luther and Calvin and Laynez? [Laynez was the founder of the modern Roman sect. A. D. 1564.] If others who call themselves Catholics have formulated a new creed as necessary to salvation, and have added to it, even in our own times, the most startling novelties, not so has this Church overlaid the Gospel. Maintaining the succession, with scrupulous fidelity to the canons of Nicaea, after obtaining it with conscientious effort against formidable difficulties, from the mother Church, which of all churches has been its most faithful custodian, [20/21] we are the only American Christians qualified to meet the ancient Churches of Europe and Asia upon equal grounds of antiquity, and with stronger claims to primitive purity. So much it is our duty to affirm, not as our dignity, but as Christ's fidelity to His Ascension gifts and promises. He is pledged to be with the succession He created to the end of time. Nothwithstanding our infirmities, we are, perhaps, not so far fallen as those who "sat in Moses' seat," in the days when our Lord Himself referred the people to their testimony. Even then "salvation was of the Jews." In these days ours is the whole counsel of God which the primitive Christians were charged to diffuse throughout the world. Neither palliating nor magnifying our faults, let me then point out the fact of our fidelity as the earliest and most persistent witness to the traditions of Antioch on this continent.
But here, as a parenthesis, I must reluctantly say a word about the sect of Laynez, in its relations with this new world. Before the Trent Council adopted his creed, a Papal Mission was started in San Domingo, and for four hundred years it has been supreme in that island; with what result? Most of its population are yet heathen, and their cannibal orgies still subsist. The new religion, defined as such by a new creed, the subversion of the episcopate and the transfer of all Synodical powers to the Society of Jesuits, started with a missionary organization for America, unprecedented in Christian history. To Don Philip II, of Spain, the Papacy sold out the regimen of all religious affairs in the Antilles and the Americas, and all that is fabulously said about Henry VIII, was realized in the Vice-Papacy of Philip. [Robertson's History of America contains a succinct account of this transaction.] Detestable as was the character of Henry, and little as we are beholden to him (for he would have burned every bishop here present at the stake), still more to be abhorred are his contemporary popes; the monster Borgia more especially, who gave the new world to Portugal and Spain. And far more abhorrent to every Christian instinct, is the character of Don Philip who undertook to propagate the new sect, as its chief [21/22] apostle. How did he operate? In his own Spain, by the terrible Inquisition; against England by the Armada, named "Invincible" by the pontiff, but dashed to pieces by the hand of God; against the Low Countries by the awful massacres of Alva; in America, by the cruelties of the Spaniards and their remorseless butcheries in the lands of the Incas and the Montezumas. Thank God such a propaganda had no relations with true Christianity.
The sale of pontificial powers to a sovereign whose greed of gold subordinated all things spiritual to this appetite, and who soothed his conscience by fanatical devotion, and the art of conversion by torture, explains the actual condition of nominal Christians at this day, in Mexico and South America. And this is all that the Americas owe to Laynez, to the Jesuits, and to the schismatical sect they founded.
11. It is well nigh three hundred and fifty years since, for his fidelity to Christ, and for asserting the Catholic faith of the Church of England in Vera Cruz, Robert Thompson, an English layman, suffered persecution, with his companions, and was for three years a prisoner of the Inquisition in Spain. [Anderson's "Colonial Church," Vol. I., p. 43.]
In 1557, Wulfall celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the northern limit of explorations, a true hero and saintly confessor, "venturing his life for the profit of his flock," of whose ministrations a contemporary records: "This celebration of the Divine Mystery was the first sign, seal and confirmation of Christ's Name, Death and Passion ever known in these quarters."
In 1579, Francis Fletcher first officiated in California, in territory now covered by the American flag, on St. John Baptist's Day, celebrating the Holy Eucharist and instituting apparently the daily service.
Under the crumbling walls of an ancient church on the James, in Virginia, rests the body of Robert Hunt, one of the greatest benefactors of the American people, who in 1608 laid the foundations there not only of this American Church, but of Colonial civilization and of all that prepared that [22/23] "Old Dominion" to be what she was in the formation of our Republic. From these early epochs until now, what has been our testimony? Have we ever shut up the gates of the Kingdom against others by adding to the ancient faith any novel terms of communion? Have we ever worshipped without affirming our Catholic and Apostolic character in the use of the Creed?
12. For the first time in the annals of our great triennial council, we are convened at the head of the Valley of the Mississippi--that mighty basin which drains alike the Alleghanies and the Rockies, and stretches well nigh a thousand leagues from East to West through a "land which the rivers have spoiled." Looking back to a scene of which I ventured to remind our Board of Missions, three years ago, I recur to it briefly, for a momentary comparison of past and present. A contemporary of Bishop White in my, boyhood, I am spared beyond all anticipation to refer again to him as I saw him in '32, when our House of Bishops surrounded their primate at the altar of St. Paul's in New York--a college of apostles, most venerable, indeed, but truly "a little one" for so great a field. The eloquent Coadjutor-Bishop of Pennsylvania was then reminding them that there was "yet very much land to be possessed;" but it never entered my imagination that in '95 the little one could have already become thousands, much less that the same great triennial council would be gathered to day at the Falls of St. Anthony, at that time rarely heard of except as beyond the limits of ordinary travel and even of adventurous exploration. Neither my good angel whispered, nor did any inward conception of my own suggest, that at such a date as this, and in parts then unknown, it might be mine to stand, as the preacher stood that day, to fulfill a similar task. If the retrospect overwhelms me with personal emotions which it would be unbecoming to particularize, I may yet give vent to my gratitude and joy, when I find myself here speaking to deputies, lay and clerical, who represent every State and Territory of the Republic, and the divers jurisdictions of their several bishops now conterminous with its entire [23/24] domain. And turning to you, my venerated fathers and brethren in the episcopate, what do my eyes behold, under the presidency of Seabury's worthy successor--a prelate preeminently gifted with many of his characteristics, and not less with those which graced the patriarchal White? Here are bishops threescore and ten, whose zealous ministrations are not only extended from Florida to Alaska, but over oceans East and West, to Africa and Asia. In '32 only eight bishops, all consecrated by his hands, were grouped about their president. Foreign missions were not as yet organic features of our work. But that very year this fruitful vine beside the well of life began to emulate the blessing of Joseph, and now its "branches run over the wall." Bishop Doane, of New Jersey, consecrated at that time, was nobly instrumental in changing the voluntary societies of the day, into a general system, including every baptized member of the Church. We are gathered, then, at a point most favorable for solemn reviewals of the past, and I had almost said for a Pisgah-prospect of our future. Here, at the sources of that river, "the Father of Waters," we look southward, along the meridian of our riparian dioceses, toward the Gulf, a thousand miles below--a monitor to us that there is half a continent beyond Darien, and that the two Americas must yet be made one in Christ, by Nicene conformity and true evangelization. To this effort, as by the man of Macedonia, we are beckoned by the Southern Cross that shines below the equator over redeemed souls, and reminds us who dwell under the Northern Crown that "the heavens declare the glory of God." In these constellations the firmament is lettered as with the Creed. It displays the suffering Lamb of God, and not less the conquering Messiah, "on whose Head are many crowns." Here, too, while the Eastward view of our older dioceses helps us to measure our progress and calls us to augment our resources for a larger supply of men and means, we turn to the Westward survey with more profound ideas of our responsibilities. We have extended the mission from Antioch to this ninetieth meridian. But we halt not here. Our faithful pioneers have [24/25] scaled the Rockies, met the Russo Greeks in Alaska, and along the coast have planted outposts toward Mexico.
How wonderful the thought that from the Golden Gate of our farthest west the Antiochian mission has been carried over the Pacific till the Orient is found once more in Asia! There our bishops are offering to Japan and China the same Gospel, and in all respects the same religion, which was ministered by Paul and Barnabas. Once more we find new beauty in the Psalmist's prophecy of the Son of Righteousness coming forth like a giant to run His course: "From the uttermost parts of the heavens it runneth about to the end of it again." I thank God, then, that here we are met, like a bannered host, face to face with the foes of God, confronting the perils of campaigns and counting their cost. I am persuaded that to some forms of primitive soldiership we must resort again--among them to the holy celibate of volunteers, making no rash vows, but accepting the gentle appeal of the Great Captain: "He that is able let him receive it." Glorious examples we have had of this sort. Minnesota and Wisconsin were penetrated by missionaries, who bore the cross along Indian trails and planted the parish and the parsonage, not for themselves, but for others. Is heroism like this to be found no more? Is there not a call for enlistments on such principles--for deacons and younger presbyters to consecrate at least, their youthful energies, to fields that are white for the harvest, while laborers are few? But God direct us all to know, each one, his personal duty, while we pray: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" And in this spirit may the council that now opens be directed to practical results! In revising our organic and functional canons, "may the ancient customs prevail" over whatever may have been found in our system no longer expedient, though pardonable as the experiment of a Church greatly reduced in strength, and emerging from a furnace of afflictions, a hundred years ago. And may the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers in those days when they beheld our altars in the dust, our resources confiscate, and our flocks as sheep without a shepherd! Happy if we shall meet the [25/26] necessities of our times as those venerable men met theirs; happy if children's children shall rise up and call us blessed, with such good reasons as now turn our own hearts to our fathers with gratitude and love unfeigned; happy if we may share with them the Master's "Well done!" in that day when the just who live by faith, and lose their lives to find them, shall receive their great reward. Thank God, we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.