Bishop of Vermont,
THIS Sermon was preached by its author, under a profound conviction of duty, and he has reason to believe it was well received by those to whom it was addressed, as well adapted to the times. Still he wishes to bear the whole responsibility of its positions and to say that none of it is shared by those who have requested its publication.
SEE-HOUSE, BUFFALO, June, 1868.
THE Feast of Pentecost, in the season of which we are gathered together, reminds us, by its collect, of the vast importance of a right judgment in all things. The need of practical wisdom, the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, is thus brought, before the Church as a primary requisite of the human soul, and of the Church as a body. The Epistle to the Colossians, of which the text is part, conveys an instructive lesson as to the well-governing of the Church, in all times. And it has seemed to me a most fitting text for this day's work and solemnity, on many accounts; for it is no private message to private men, but a precept of the Holy Ghost to the Phrygian Church, with a view to its successful work among Jews and Gentiles. The Apostle first asks the prayers of that remote Diocese for himself at Rome, that he may have wisdom to make the Gospel manifest, as he ought to speak; and then, implying that the same Spirit of wisdom is requisite in Colosse, he adds the injunction: "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." It teaches, therefore, that tact and discretion, that economy and self-adaptation, in witnessing for truth, of which S. Paul himself was so wonderful an exemplar. Recall that Apostle's masterly [3/4] comprehension of times and circumstances; of men and manners; of what was possible and what was impossible; of what he preferred for himself and what he judged to be expedient for others. [See, e.g., the argument of I. Cor. viii, 4-12.] If we would get the meaning of the text, look at S. Paul; see him at Jerusalem, at Athens, at Rome. In a noble sense, involving no cunning, nor any compromise of principle, he was "all things to all men." And yet, who more intrepid than he in displaying the cross, in defeating its adversaries, in keeping the faith?
We are gathered together, venerable fathers and dear brethren, at a fitting time to survey our work. This is a year of jubilee. It was observed by the late Bishop of Maine, that not till many years after we received our Episcopate and began to exist as a National Church, did we show any vitality as such, or any tokens of power to sustain our independent existence. [See Episcopal Quarterly, April, 1858.] From the time of the Revolution to the time of Bishop Hobart's consecration, the Colonial Church seemed to be dying out: no upgrowth was visible. During one whole year not a candidate for Orders was received. In 1818, appeared the first considerable accession in this respect: and only from that date the American Church, as such, began her independent life and history. This, therefore, is the Jubilee year. The man who is fifty years old to-day, affords us a fair standard of what has been done; for while his life is yet unspent, and while, probably, he is not yet a grandfather--that is to say, while yet the third generation has not begun; while the second is yet in its prime--we behold our Church, in its Bishops, Dioceses and Missions, increased and multiplied beyond all that our Fathers ventured to hope, or even dared to imagine. [4/5] Yet, in point of fact, even this statement falls below the truth. From the year 1818 until 1830, when Bishop Hobart died, our Church did little more than recover herself. She had hardly begun to grow, although Bishop Chase was our hardy pioneer beyond the Alleghanies. It was not till 1832 that our Missionary system was organized and this was, in fact, the beginning of our new life. Our subsequent experience confirms the rule that the Missionary spirit is essential to life, and that they who would be watered themselves, must seek this blessing by watering others. It was at that time, and at the same Council, that the First Bishop of Vermont was consecrated. Pardon me for recalling the fact that I was present at that solemnity, and stood, in the crowd, so near your late Diocesan that I might have touched his rochet as he knelt at the chancel rail. I remember well the appearance of the aged Bishop White, as he recited the Veni Creator; he seemed to my boyish admiration like another S. John, lingering with the Church to bid us "love one another." I remember, too, the anthem which pealed through the Church after the Sermon--"Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be brought low." It was like a prophetic voice, heralding our Missionary work; for two, of the four Bishops consecrated that day, were to go beyond the mountains. I had, also, the great privilege of being presented to your Bishop, and of being taken by his hand, when so many wished him god-speed with fervent emotion. How strongly that scene recurs to me, as I take my part in this. From that day, our Church has been felt to be aggressive, and destined to become powerful in the Nation. She has been growing into her Catholic position, and asserting her mission among the people. And now as we proceed to the consecration of another Bishop of [5/6] Vermont, I ask you to pause and survey what God bath done for us already, and to ask what we ought to regard as our work and mission for the future.
Have we reason to exult in what has been achieved? Other bodies have increased more rapidly; some, by favour of immigration; others, by force of long preoccupation of the popular mind; others, by adapting themselves to the rude tastes, the uncultivated habits, and even the vulgar prejudices of our nomadic pioneers. When we reflect that our actual growth is the fruit of a single generation; that every inch of ground we occupy has been fought for; that the schools, the journalism, the publishing-houses, and the active capital of the land have always been combined against us; that politicians have courted our antagonists and endowed our enemies, and that few and feeble, indeed, have been the accidents that have favoured us; surely we see something to wonder at, and for which to magnify the Lord. But, above all, when we recall the utter prostration from which we so slowly recovered; the popular ignorance that associated us, so long, with the British Government and with monarchy; and the embittered religious odium that has been excited against us, year after year, without abatement, from the beginning until now; I say, when e look at all this, and then behold what we are this day, by the good hand of our God upon us, we certainly have no reason to despond; and warm should be our tribute of love and gratitude to our departed clergy, whose sufferings and privations have been those of confessors, and whose trials were so patiently borne, that we might enter into their labours, and praise God, as we do, this day, for the wonderful contrast, between then and now.
But there is another way of viewing the matter, which, I confess, is to my mind more just and more worthy of [6/7] Catholic Christians. Are we a petty sect, that we should thus reckon up our increase like a shopkeeper in Cheapside, and feel satisfied with a fair and growing business? Or are we the Catholic Church in America, which should be the mother of millions, gathering the nation at her knees, and causing all its children to he taught of the Lord? Alas! if this is our due character, then bitterly should we mourn and weep to see how little this is understood; how far we have come short of impressing the popular mind with the truth of our history, and with the Scriptural and Evangelical character of our constitution as a Church. Something is not as it should be, venerable Fathers, and you my reverend and beloved brethren of the Clergy and Laity. Our policy and work are not properly defined: and every moment that we lose in fitting ourselves for nobler action, endangers the ultimate surrender of the land to other influences; if not-- as may be reasonably feared--to the Gog and Magog of a final apostacy from Christ, and a deadly warfare against the Christian name.
Let us not delude ourselves, Fathers and Brethren, with our merely relative success. When I look at the mental activity, the learning and the piety of many of those who are arrayed against us, I own that it is, to me, simply unaccountable, how such men can satisfy their enlightened minds, with the narrow and unhistoric theologies and polities, within the bounds of which they cabin and confine their thoughts and actions. How ill-defined, how provincial, how unsatisfying are their systems, to the spirit of the believer, who reads and ponders the words of Christ about an universal kingdom, and one absolutely continuous, from His own personal ministry, in one living, identical and organic body. When I see then, what Cod has set before their eyes in this [7/8] venerable and historic Church of their own forefathers, of their own language and of their own history; when I reflect how absolutely she challenges the respect and the study of all educated men; when I recall the mighty names and the uanswerable works of our old divines, from the days of Hooker to the present time; when I think upon our Church's claims to the love of all who love Christ, in view of her primitive ordinances, her Christian year, and her most Scriptural Liturgy; and further, when I realize in my own heart and see everywhere in others, the peace and joy with which our holy religion invests the life of a Christian family, and develops the spiritual life of the individual soul; when I feel all this, in some tender moment of private or of public worship, or on some great occasion like this that connects us so closely with past ages, and with the hands and the voice of the Master Himself--then, I smite my breast and cry out, Dear Lord, what is our sin, and what the unfaithfulness of Thy ministers, that we have failed to reach our Christian brethren, and to make them know and feel with us, the depth and height, the length and breadth of that organic fellowship with Thee, which cannot be fully enjoyed except in communion with the same Apostolic Church which Thou hast founded on the Rock. And the more I reflect upon it, the more I feel that ours is, in great measure, the fault. A true mother prefers to take the blame to herself and to plead for her untoward children: and so let us do this day, in all humility. It requires no "voluntary humility," I suspect, to accept this proposal. For what have we done worthy of the Pentecostal gifts we claim? Where are our tokens of plans well-laid and of a noble aggression upon the swarming masses of the American people?
 Several times, during the past thirty years, there have been grand opportunities in the progress of Theological Thought and amid the dissensions of our brethren without for a masterly and successful movement to bring them within. Even now what is known as the Evangelical Religion of our country, presents to our activity little more than a negative opposition. Old Puritanism has passed away; its principles have perished it perpetuates nothing but its prejudices: among the congregations which preserve its name, our Offices are borrowed; our Festivals and Fasts are observed; and yet, in many respects, the antagonism of these our brethren is more bitter than ever. They come to us constantly, one by one; but there is no movement to unite with us in the mass. What is the stumbling-block? I say it with humility, it is our own unwisdom. What is mostly seen and known in America of the great Anglican movement, of the past thirty years, is only the fact of its disgraceful reactions. The people have been told, over and over again, that a constant stream of perversions has been setting towards Rome; they see a recreant priest assuming the style and titles of an English Archbishop and dictating to his countrymen, as a Cardinal, if not as a Papal Legate, and as if the days of Wolsey were renewed. They know, also, only too well, that a body of men has appeared in the Church of England who openly deride our great Reformers and as openly struggle to restore the Papal yoke; who accept the doctrines and ape the ceremonies of the Trent religion. All this, I say, is known; and alas! we know it ourselves; and yet, an Apostle might say unto us, with just severity, "Ye are puffed up and hare not rather mourned that this might be taken away from among you." On the contrary, so far as those see us "who are without" and to [9/10] whom God has sent us with His message, we are responsible for all this. Such is the popular opinion concerning us: a partial mistake, 'tis true, but a mistake for which we may thank ourselves, since so few speak out for Truth, so few take pains to make evident our true position. It is, alike, criminal and impolitic to say we can attend to our own business, and that it is none of theirs. Thank God, it is their business, and they feel it to be such. One of our Catholic tokens is this fact, that our Christian brethren will not permit us to be a mere sect. They feel, though they know not why, that our concerns are their concerns; and if we fail to admit this, then we take the position of a paltry human society. Our Divine Mission obliges us to "walk in wisdom" towards them. We have no right to mystify them by uncertain signs and sounds. Yet, what is the fact? I know, by sore experiences in my own missionary work, that we have contrived to inspire thousands, who might have been won to us, with the deepest misgivings. There are Christians in this land, of primitive spirit and exemplary piety and learning, who feel themselves strongly drawn towards us, and who are yet repelled by what they, see and hear of our recreance to the grand principles of the Anglican Reformation. Our record in the land, so far as they can see it, does not inspire confidence. The mere looker-on believes that a retrograde spirit has taken possession of us; that we do not love and revere our grand old heroes and martyrs; that we are not profoundly in sympathy with our own historic position. What stops the way and threatens us with a stinted growth, for the next half century, is just this. If we are not true to our antecedents, we are nothing if the standard of our Reformation was not Catholic and Apostolic, we are annihilated. I know that such is the [10/11] general feeling but, I ask, why have we failed to make others understand it? Why have we not grasped the advantage given us, by their reverence for our Reformers, to show them the grand principle of their work, as contrasted with that of Luther and Calvin? Why have we not gloried in that work as the Restoration of Catholicity in the West? Why have we not forced upon the popular mind the great truth, that as our Reformers did not die in their beds, but in the flames of martyrdom, so, always, the opposition we must make to Romanism is far more real and earnest than that of a negative Protestantism? Why do we fail to make men see and feel that we occupy the historic position of the Greek Churches, in this respect; the position they have held for a thousand years and that organic Catholicity must, necessarily be the most uncompromising enemy of the Papacy and of all its additions to the creed of Christians?
We who have lived through all the trying scenes of the past generation, and who know the interior workings of our Church, at home and abroad, are able to answer such questions to ourselves, it is true; but it is time that we should answer them to those who are without. We know that the Church is sound to the core; and it is, in fact because of this conviction that we treat with so much quiet indifference the things which afford the public so much food for prejudice, if not for sorrow and alarm. We know and trust the great deep of true and religious Churchmanship which feels so little of the ruffled surface; and when we behold its nobler tides and movements, we smile at the fears and disregard the croakings of popular credulity. But, when popular credulity becomes a great bar to our work and Mission, is such self-complacency the part of Wisdom? If life were given us [11/12] for inaction, if we were not part of a Militant Church, then we might scorn a vulgar delusion, like philosophers, and enjoy our own blessings with an utter contempt for the fallacies of human judgment. But is this delicious optimism the vocation of any one who is "chosen to be a soldier?" Is it in this world that we are to rest from our labours? For one, I have no taste for controversy. If I could reconcile it with duty, the Lord knoweth I would gladly betake myself to my own vine and fig tree, and leave the mad world to its folly. But, would this be duty? When I see thirty millions of my countrymen lacking those means and instrumentalities which God designed for their spiritual life and unity, can I give sleep to mine eyes or slumber to mine eyelids, till I have done all that is in my power, at least to take the stumbling-blocks out of their way? Can these souls be reached by supine and self-complacent quietism? Look at this wonderful people of the Great Republic! Can they be sanctified and saved except by Truth? And where is Truth's great "witness and keeper," the Catholic and Apostolic Church? What are we doing for the children of the Nation, and to rescue the land from utter apostacy and unbelief? I press the inquiry, Fathers and Brethren, because it must be answered very soon, decisively, or our candlestick will cease to shine, and the Nation must perish between the invasions of Romanism and Infidelity. Then out of the anarchy, the chaos, that must follow, may be raised up a people more "zealous of good works," to whom God will give the ultimate privilege of establishing His Gospel in the land. Let nobody smile at my predictions unless he is quite sure that the lessons of history and those of Holy Writ are fatal to my inferences. If it be so, I shall rejoice in the derision which I invoke by the solemn expression of my own convictions. [12/13] But I see that you do not smile at them. Everybody who reflects at all feels sobered by the awful problems of the Nation. Everybody feels that if anything can be done to save it from itself, it must be done with prompt and energetic action. Now, I firmly believe that ours is the standard which the Lord has lifted up against the flood of iniquity which is pouring in upon us. What should be done? I recur to the Apostle's words, "redeeming the time," which may be rendered as "redeeming, for yourselves, the opportunity out of the hands of the Evil One; taking it by the forelock and making it your own." Much time has been more than wasted by our internal feuds. Yet, even these would cease were it not that many within our pale are puzzled and distressed like those without. Let those who understand the great principles of the Church exhibit them in consistent and successful operation on the minds of the masses, and all our intestine humours will disappear. The life of faction in the Church is derived, from the practical mistakes of sounder parties. We shall redeem much time, then, from idle disputes in our own household, by "walking in wisdom towards them that are without." But, I ask, is not this idea practically unknown to many otherwise good men? Do we not often use words and take no pains to define them, so as to become barbarians to those who hear, and so as to make them barbarians to us? How utterly degraded is the word Catholic, which many, even of our own people, apply constantly to the great Anti-Catholic Schism, and which many of our clergy so use as to perplex and confound the minds which God sent them to teach in all condescension and with all long suffering. So too, with the phrases, Regeneration in Baptism and the Real Presence--[13/14] most blessed truths, and not unacceptable when rightly explained--how constantly are they employed so as to convey to the popular mind notions which nobody, in his senses, maintains or wishes to propagate. Yet, the unwise preacher would say, "What is that to us?" He talks a language unintelligible to those without and delights to startle rather than to convince their understandings and to win their hearts. He forgets that "those without" are the souls for which Christ died, and to which we are sent, to feed them, if need be, "with milk," surely not with stones. Observe the Apostle's commands in this Epistle to the Colossians. I am struck with its applicability to our own times. The Phrygian Church was disturbed with vain philosophy on the one hand and with "worshipping of angels" on the other: and "those without" were partly heathen and partly Jews. Against both evils he directs his warning, in view of Pagans who affected philosophy and of the Jews who required a sign. Are we not in a like position? Does not wisdom towards the American people require from us as absolute a rebuke of the "rudiments of this world," and a position as well defined against the Judaism which "intrudes into things unseen" and subjects the soul to ordinances, to will-worship, and to mere bodily exercises? [See Wordsworth's Introduction to the Epistle to the Colossians.]
It is our duty then, I submit, to assume, more absolutely, our substantial and historical character as Catholic, because reformed. Our extreme factions are tossing words between them, which might well sustain the idea that our Church is a mere shuttlecock between Romanism and Puritanism: but the great body of our people take no part in this by-play. We have a history of which the Reformation is part; and we [14/15] understand that but for that Reformation we should have been mere Papists, while, because of it, we are Catholics. But has this been fairly set before the popular mind? In the nature of things Truth must be seen in opposite extremes, by those who occupy extreme positions, for Truth is equally distant from both. I admit, therefore, the great difficulties of our position, between the radical Protestantism and the increasing Romanism of this country. But such difficulties the text presupposes No need of wisdom towards them that are without, if Truth is in no peril, or may be compromised. Wisdom consists not in changing Truth's substance, but, in divesting it of all false appearances, and so setting it in its own light, and its proper colours, before eyes that are dull of seeing. I suppose then that a more difficult work can hardly be given to men, than that which is made ours, in this plain practical land and in this unbelieving generation. How shall we so exhibit the Truth, which is the deposit of God, with us, as to win and not to alienate, the more earnest minds and consciences of our countrymen? I answer, by taking and holding, with fidelity and with genuine love for "them that are without," our true historical position; that which God has given us, as ours; that which He blows how to adapt to His own wise ends, provided we are faithful to our trust.
I can render no more fitting tribute to the great prelate, whose mantle falls this day, upon the shoulders of another, than to assert that this is the chief lesson which is taught us by that event, which owed so much to his foresight and to his counsels, the Conference at Lambeth. Whatever were the fears and anxieties which attended the calling of that assembly, no churchman can now fail to see in its work, a token that the Lord God is with us, as He was with our fathers. [15/16] It came with the natural ripening of events; but, wherefore, in the Providence of God? Can any one doubt as to the reply, in view of what is going on, at this moment, in the Mother Land? The Legislation of England abjures the Church: the Church to which it owes everything that has made England what it is. Her infatuated statesmen are pulling away the props of the noblest political fabric the world has ever seen. It is bad for dear old England; an old nation cannot afford to inaugurate revolutions. But, thank God, it is not her Church that will suffer; the Church cannot now receive a greater blessing than that of restoration to her ancient freedom. The Irish Church is to be free; the days of all establishments are numbered; and again I say, thank God. It is now we begin to see how our own providential history has been made for a light and a lesson to our Mother Church. It is now we begin to see why the Lambeth Conference was held. It was not for the bare assertion of the Church's rights before a capricious Prince as at Hampton Court; it was not to repair the desolations of our inheritance, as at the Savoy. The Lambeth Conference restores England and her Sister Churches to their rightful Catholic position before the world, and paves the way to a world-wide work and mission. It has fitted the Church for her future place in Christendom and has forever deinsulated her. She asks no more the favour of princes; she needs no patronage from Parliaments. She throws off the gilded chains she has too long been enforced to bear, and is ready for a Catholic work, if the Lord will, among ancient Churches, and especially among all the peoples and nations which speak the English tongue.
Now, all that I have characterized as wisdom toward them that are without, is embodied in the Synodical Letter, the [16/17] coice of that Conference to the Churches. It is brief, like an Inspired Epistle, and like Canonical Scripture it seems instinct with life, in every word. But, observe two great facts which are one: the Conference distinctly reasserts the principles of the Anglican Reformation and, not less clearly, but most logically, it professes the Catholic faith, and identifies Catholic religion, with that of the Six Councils. This is the ancient position of the Anglican Church; not set up in the Sixteenth Century, as an after-thought, but, asserted promptly in the Eighth Century, at the Council of Frankfort, when her Bishops repudiated the "Seventh Council," falsely so called, and with it the pretensions of the nascent Papacy, which had accepted that Council. This all-important fact has never been properly magnified. True to its record, then, the whole Anglican Episcopate, defines Catholicity in 1867, as in 794. Far from yielding anything to those blind guides who would have dictated concessions to the modern apostacy of Trent, our Church sends forth a voice, "yea, and that a mighty voice," to remind the nations what Catholicity is: the Gospel of Christ, as recorded in the Scriptures and witnessed by the Six Councils. This was precisely the principle of the English Reformation; and thus, true to herself, and to her Lord, the ancient Church of Britain, and the Church of the Anglo-Saxons, reappears as the Church of "the most vigorous races of the earth "--and, after three hundred years of her reformed career, renews at Lambeth, the identical appeal to the Catholic Councils, for which her old Archbishop witnessed a good confession, not indeed from that palace on the Thames, but amid the blazing faggots at Oxford.
Far be it from me, my venerable Fathers and you my brethren, of the Clergy and Laity, to originate a policy or to [17/18] commend a plan of nay own, as that of practical wisdom, for the Church. But, I feel no reluctance to paint out that which Divine Providence has set before us, in the Encyclical Letter of a Council, which, informal as it was, is worthy of being known and accepted as a true Synod of Catholic Bishops, because, in the spirit of the ancient Councils, the Holy Scriptures were enthroned in the midst of it; because to those oracles of the Blessed Spirit its deliberations were referred, and because from that Spirit, we may therefore believe its judgment was enlightened. Henceforth, we can never give an uncertain sound, if we be true to the instructions of that Synod. Surely I may say this, who took no part in it, as did your own departed Bishop. Let me merely contend that the labours of others be not suffered to become fruitless. Accept the voice from Lambeth, as an oracle, I beseech you. Expound, by it, the Catholic Faith, and rally your countrymen to its Catholic Standard. Show them how to confront the pseudo-Catholicity of Trent. Rescue the Catholic Name from the degrading associations which the Papacy has given it, in the West. Shew to a multiform and discordant Protestantism, how to return to unity and how to oppose positive Truth, instead of bare negations, to the false pretensions of Romanism. Behold your glorious opportunity. The Lord forbid that we should shew ourselves unequal to the work, and be denied the wisdom to perceive and the force of principle to grasp the advantages of the time.
He must be blind, indeed, who does not foresee that the conflicts of the Old World are to be revived in America. We have not been prepared for it: it never occurred to us, till of late, that we, too, might be called to battles and to martyrdoms for the Truth of Christ. But, how is it now? [18/19] Can any man deny the palpable warfare already waged by Romanism in America, against our dearest rights and liberties? Is it not evident that political Jesuitism is already in conflict, and is provoking open war, with the spirit of our people? At this moment, the Jesuit is master of the great Metropolis, of its peace, and of its treasures. Already has he made its streets run with the blood of massacre and its roofs consume with insurrectionary fires. He sways the Legislature, too, of "the Empire State;" he endows his schools and convents from the public purse; he parades with effrontery, in the public streets; he insults the quiet citizen with his Sunday pageantry and noise, and disturbs the sober worship of his neighbours by beating drums and blowing sonorous metal around their houses of prayer. Not very cautiously does he hide his lust of power. The late Pope could not suppress his delight, on discovering that America has none of those safeguards which Romish countries find it necessary to erect against him: In Europe, the prediction is openly made by the Jesuit party, that at no distant day, a foreign potentate will control the American people. Apparently things are all tending to this: but are they really so? Jesuitism has always been wise for the moment, but foolish beyond all conception, with reference to ultimate issues. [Take the reign of James the Second, of England as an illustration. The History of Europe abounds with like examples.] It is playing, here, the same game which, after temporary success, has defeated and destroyed it, in every country of the Old World. It is first political, and so powerful, and then it perishes in the recoil which it provokes. For one, I thank God, for the startling rapidity of its successes in America. A wiser policy would have ensured to it a less ephemeral triumph. By greater caution, the Jesuit [19/20] might have stolen more, without alarming the house. But, the astonishing apathy and defencelessness of the American people have inebriated him, and he forgets his own maxims of reserve. He throws off his disguise too soon. lit has snatched a shadow, and forfeited the substance. Thank God, for that unalterable law, by which the prosperity of fools is their destruction.
Already there is alarm and a rising spirit with which the enemy must soon come to a reckoning. And what will be his ultimate fortune, in America? Does any man, in his senses, imagine that what Italy abhors, and Austria compels her Sovereign to abjure, is to be taken up and placed on her shoulders, by America? I say, again, that man must have the eyes of a mole who fails to see a great conflict at hand, between Romanism and the spirit of the American people. [Since this sermon was preached, outrages of a high-handed character, have attended the laying of a Romish corner-stone, in Brooklyn, on the Lord's Day, June 21, 1868.]
Is this a time, then, to permit "those that are without" to entertain any doubt as to where we may be found, in such a conflict? Is this a time to sink out of sight the Reformation principles of our Church? Or, can we at this juncture, afford to puzzle the popular mind by the adoption of habits and ceremonies, absolutely novel, in which those without can see nothing but a concession to Romanism? Is this a time for resorting to Gallican sources for our books of devotion, and for rules of practical piety? God has placed us here, at such a crisis, as if on purpose to give us a covetable opportunity to make our real character known and felt. Now, if we are true to our historic position, all men may have a chance to see the abysmal depths that lie between the religion of a Catholic and the superstitions of a Papist. [20/21] Perhaps, nothing less alarming would ever have directed the indifferent popular mind to the vast importance of finding out what is meant by "the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." We have a great opportunity. The popular religionism of America is rapidly falling to pieces. It fails to hold its own. It cannot withstand the inroads of Irreligion, much less those of Jesuitism. Intelligent men will soon be forced to revert to first principles and to undertake the study of Primitive Christianity, as the only way to solve the problems of the age. And if we are to lead the mind of the Nation, instead of Contributing to its petty controversies and ignoble confusions, we should lose not a moment in securing a marked character, before the people, in close Conformity with our glorious antecedents Providentially we are opulent in resources that meet the wants of the times. We have only to direct attention to our great thinkers of the past three centuries; but, that must be seen in us which is seen in their immoral works, namely, a firm hostility to Romanism, grounded on the ancient Laws and Institutions of the Catholic Church.
Is this a time to forget the examples and to forsake the position of such men as Andrewes, and Bull, and Taylor and Bingham, and Wilson? Why, then, are our younger clergy so ignorant of their writings--so little imbued with their spirit? It is time to return to common-sense and to occupy our strongholds. If we do this at once, there can be no doubt as to the result. We shall command universal respect and force the Nation to follow our lead. If, on the contrary, we adopt the sickly Gallicanism which now thrusts itself so ostentatiously upon public attention as our line of progress and development, we shall inevitably excite contempt, and perish in that threatened chaos of irreligion from which [21/22] nothing but our genuine historic principles can rescue the religion of America.
Let no man suppose I am counselling a vulgar crusade against Popery. I would watch it, and construct barriers against it, and subsidize everything that may be legitimately opposed to its progress. But, let us primarily develop our own inherent powers and forces over against it, so that every eye may see the difference between the true and the false, the Primitive and the Mediaeval, the Nicene and the Trentine Systems. Let us bring out Christ and Him Crucified, and the whole Evangelical System, in all the richness and harmony of our Liturgy and our Christian Year and make our countrymen feel that if Christ's Gospel is to be found and enjoyed and felt and lived anywhere, it is in our "good old paths." Thus let us cling to our one work of saving and edifying the souls of men with Christ and His doctrine; and let us leave to others their chosen topics of sensation, their political harangues, their social lectures, their efforts to tell "some new thing."
As a subordinate policy, just as we have been forced to bring forward our oppositions to Puritanism, let us hereafter be careful to make clear and palpable our organic and irreconcilable antagonism to Rome. Heretofore, we have contended, almost exclusively, with one class of errours. We have fought for a Liturgy, for the Scriptural Orders of the Ministry, for the principle of a historical Church. I submit, that this battle is gained, and our position is perfectly comprehended, on all these points. What is not understood, in any considerable degree, even by thoughtful and studious men, is the fundamental differences between us and Rome, and the utter inability of Romanism to gain any headway where these are clearly [22/23] exhibited. Romanism knows this: it never ventures to meet us on our own grounds. We may challenge the whole conclave of their prelates to answer Bishop Bull's Vindication of the Church of England, or his Letter to the Bishop of Meaux. Why have these fortified positions been so feebly defended, in our days? Where is the spirit of our fathers? To the lasting disgrace of those who undertook to be the guides of English thought, thirty years ago, they soon betrayed these positions, because they had never comprehended their value. They were weak, though pious men, reared in the school of Simeon and Wilberforce, and unused to other than the fallacious defences of popular Protestantism. When these failed them; as they had always confounded the Catholic Church of the creed with the impostures of Treat, they became an easy prey to Romish artifices. Could this have happened with the divines of the seventeenth century, or with any thoroughbred disciple of that immortal phalanx of Primitive theologians? Who that has been reared in their school, has any doubt as to their grand colossal system of Orthodoxy, or of its essential identity with that of Holy Scripture and the Six Councils? These are the masters from whom we may learn Catholicity, and who have taught us to regard Rome as the greatest enemy of Catholic Truth and of the Catholic Church. It is from them, as from the Apostles, that I have learned to "use great plainness of speech." I am not ashamed to adopt the language of Bishop Bull. Listen to the confession of the noblest victim that was ever enticed from our ranks, and who never could have been so enticed, had not his theological education subjected him to a violent re action; had he not been trained in the feeble Protestantism which takes it for granted that Popery and Catholicity [23/24] are the same thing. He confesses, what he found out too late, that "Bishop Bull's theology is the only theology on which the English Church can stand." I take this honey from the dead lion. He adds: "Opposition to the Church of Rome is part of that theology." More honey out of the dead lion! And I thank him, not less, for what he goes on to say: "No true divine of the English Church, bishop or incumbent, can be otherwise than in hostility to the Church of Rome."
Shall I offer any apology, then, for my words this day? I plant myself on this consistent and historical ground, and I implore you to make it understood, throughout America. Let the people know where they may find the true idea of Reformation, and those grand principles of Catholicity, which are its only sure defence; principles, which, had they been adopted on the continent, would have ensured the triumph of the Reformation in France and in Germany, and for want of which, save only in England, the Reformation in Europe has been a failure, alike fatal to its religious and to its political regeneration.
Just as we have met Puritanism and mastered it, with Hooker, I insist then that we must now turn round and meet Romanism, with Field and Jackson. This is a nobler conflict, and a golden opportunity. For, in the first place, it will prove the charge of Popery, which Puritanism has so long made against us, to be false; it will answer such charges in the best way. Then, just as soon as this is seen clearly, we shall rally thousands of good and honest men to our standard. We may thus regain the Methodists, in a body. And, besides, if there be any purity of character, and any genuine learning among the Romish immigrants themselves, we shall surely start a Reformation among them. In the [24/25] Providence of God, I regard their coming hither as of two-fold importance to Truth; first, as enabling us to set forth a genuine Catholicity in the strongest contrasts; and next, as affording to them, the means of reformation, which only a genuine Catholicity can supply. I have already hinted that they are sent here by Providence for another purpose: to alarm the popular mind, and to drive all true followers of Christ into unity. I am sure it will be our own fault if we fail to utilize darkness in bringing out the full-orbed splendour of Truth; to make the Romish tinsel a foil to the lustre of genuine Catholicity.
Over against the spurious, then let us set the genuine; to that "miserable Convention of Trent," as Bishop Bull justly regards it, let us oppose the Catholicity of the great councils: that of Chalcedon and Ephesus, of Constantinople and Nicaea. Let us make every school-boy understand that this is but religion, that this alone is ancient and the other a modern invention To this conflict are we driven by the issues of the day. Our enemy will not permit us to be at peace. He laughs at popular Protestantism, but the Catholic antagonism of the Church of England has been, for three centuries, the bane of his existence. It is amazing that any Churchman should misunderstand the true relations of Popery to the Truths which it professes to preserve. Because it enfolds the Nicene Creed, in its Trentine confession, there are those who still concede to it something of the Catholic spirit. Alas! is it not as the serpent enfolds the prey which it crushes and destroys? What cares Rome for that Nicene Creed which is common to Christendom? Are not all her thoughts given to that Trentine Confession which she has forged for herself? Would not Athanasius himself be excommunicated by her, [25/26] and all the saints of Antiquity, should they now rise from the dead and contend, as of old, "for the Faith once delivered to the Saints?" If that faith, then, is ours, let us be sure there can be nothing but war between us. The two systems cannot possibly co-exist. Rome has many advantages. Its gross unscrupulousness, its worldly intrigues, its snake-like artifices, give it great temporary successes: but Truth is ours, and God is with us. Let our appeal be to enlightened conscience and to every pious heart, and let us accept the conflict with confidence. Let our trumpet give no uncertain sound; and by God's blessing we shall make all men know the difference between the chaste Spouse of Christ, and that painted Harlot of the Seven Hills.
Some, indeed, may imagine that these are not the immediate perils, here, in New England. But, the Republic is one; and so electric are our inter-communications that we have a common cause from Maine to California. Besides, it is here, in New England, more particularly, that the old stale prejudice lingers; and many, who would not hesitate to subject their children to the degrading influences of Convent education, are still never weary of objecting to us that we are "all one with the Roman Catholics." It is astonishing to what an extent this stupid prejudice blocks the way. Such as it is, however, we must meet it patiently. Show them how little a Church which has a Common Prayer resembles the superstition which mumbles a Mass in an unknown tongue; how little a worship which abounds in Scripture-readings, to an extent unknown among Sectarians, is like a Latin Rite, in which no intelligible word of Holy Scripture meets the ear of the attendant; how fundamentally a worship rendered wholly unto God differs from that in [26/27] which the creature is more glorified than the Creator; in short how great is the dissimilarity between the scrupulously Scriptural character of everything we say or do, in our Services, and the utter contempt for Scripture which is displayed in the entire Romish System. Surely, when these things are made clear to the acute intelligence of New England, we shall revolutionize its thought and enlist its effort, in our behalf. It is in this way, with no further direct attack, that its best elements are to be absolved. And till these lessons are clearly and faithfully imparted, we may be sure that our Catholic claims are repulsive, because they are necessarily misunderstood. In fact, much that we say is so unintelligible, to minds prejudiced or at least unprepared that it sounds unreal and conveys none other than Romish ideas to the Popular sense. We are forced, therefore, to the distasteful work of teaching truth by its contrasts. When we expound the Episcopate, we must show that Rome has no Episcopate, at all, in any Catholic acceptation of the term; when we urge the importance of a Liturgy, we must remind the disciple that Rome has no proper Liturgy, because the use of an unknown tongue is irreconcileable with the idea of Liturgical worship; and when we enforce unity, and shew that the Episcopate was ever recognized as its hinge, by the Primitive Church, we must shew that the rise of the Papacy was the first breach of unity and the source of all the disorders of Christendom. Who does not perceive that when such simple truths and facts of history once gain a place in the schools of New England, in its colleges and centres of theological thought, we shall receive again, "like life from the dead," into the bosom of the Church, a noble army of fellow-labourers, capable of disseminating our principles throughout the [27/28] land! God give us the Wisdom to arouse and to command their attention to these things: God send His Holy Spirit to quicken us from mere routine and from petty internal controversies, that we may perform our true work in America, reviving the Reformation and directing it; over mastering the indifference and sluggish irreligion which now paralyze the popular life, and compelling the disintegrated and jarring elements of its piety to organization and harmony, on the deathless principles of Nicene Christianity.
In the spirit of these remarks, let us consider the solemnity before us. I have not deemed it worth while, as it might have been, fifty years ago, to preach a sermon on "Bishops, priests and deacons." All this has been tolerably well expounded. But, I have tried to meet the actual wants of the times and to face the real enemy. Here we are, engaged in a work which ought to interest every Christian in Vermont, but which perhaps nine-tenths of even its religious people suppose to be a mere Popish ceremony. Now, so long as they are thus prejudiced, it is in vain that we attempt to reach their hearts. We may prove "bishops, priests and deacons," to be as ancient as Christianity itself, but so long as they identify all this with Popery, they draw no other conclusion, than, that if so, Popery must be as old as Christianity. It is thus that the popular mind is working; and so it will work till we draw the distinctions before their eyes, as with red-letters. How important then, to make them understand that the Papacy denies that there is any other bishop in Christendom save one at Rome; asserts that the Apostles have no successor save in the Pope, and regards the act of ordaining a bishop, as a direct assault upon itself. How many of the popular divines in America are aware of the fact that since the Council of Trent, the Order of [28/29] Bishops has been abolished by Rome, and that nobody is ever ordained a bishop in the Romish Church? Observe, the Apostolic Church has always ordained bishops; that is, raised them above the order of Presbyters, and made them successors of the Apostles. In order to exalt the Pope, as the only bishop, Rome refuses to ordain; she only consecrates a bishop, just as she consecrates bells, and vestments, and candlesticks. She asserts what is supposed to be Calvin's theory that presbyters are the highest Order in the Ministry. To certain presbyters, the Pope gives Episcopal functions, but not the Episcopal Order. He only empowers such presbyters to exercise his authority, not Christ's, in certain places. There is not a bishop, therefore, in all the Romish dominion, that would have been recognized as such by Cyprian, or by Gregory the Great who was not a pope though he was a bishop of Rome. He it was who denounced as "a forerunner of Anti-Christ" any bishop who should presume to lord it thus over his brethren, or to deny he universal equality of bishops, as the order in which the Church's unity exists, by divine appointment. As a matter of fact, then, Rome has abolished the Episcopate, as an Order and has left only the name to certain of her priests, whom she clothes only with the worldly powers of Papal vicars. And so consistent is she, in this iniquitous system, that she contrives to render a number of her clergy, in every Diocese, entirely independent of their nominal Bishop. The Jesuits are, in fact, the masters of their "bishops" in every Romish Diocese in this country. They watch over their nominal "overseers;" report them to Rome, when they show signs of independence, and keep them under [29/30] their own generalship, at all times. Should not this be made known to our countrymen? [A dignitary, formerly resident at Detroit, is said to have suffered in the Roman Inquisition. Where and how he died is a mystery.] Should they not be allowed to see through the machinery that begins to disturb and to control our elections? And should not our own people be better taught that the solemnity to which we now proceed, that of ordaining, as well as consecrating a bishop, is one which Romanism has utterly lost?
In the fulness of our charity, we are accustomed to allow, though, to my mind, it is a concession which admits of a doubt, that here and there a surviving word in their ceremony, just saves it from emptiness and enables it to convey a valid order, in spite of their own disavowal. But, if it be so, let us observe that it is an order from which their bishops suspend themselves, even in receiving it, because they disclaim and abjure it. Hence, they are void of Mission and Jurisdiction, and are in the position of a deposed bishop, at the best. Ours, then, is the only genuine Episcopate, and the Romish pretenders have not a shadow of claim to the name or rights of Catholic bishops. I ask, is it not our duty to make this known, in fidelity to Christ, and to the commission we bear, by His authority? Is it not high time to awaken the American mind to our true character, and to that of a rival and an invading body? Is it not time that they should know what was meant by the old dogma Ecclesia in Episcopo, and how fatal that dogma is to the Papacy? Is it not time to let our Presbyterian brethren know that they, and not we, are in accord with Romanism, in this question; and that in point of fact, Calvin's views of the parity of ministers, like Cranmer's first mistakes in this matter, were derived from his scholastic training, as a Romish theologian? Is it not plain, that our only hope of teaching Catholic doctrines, is in making all men see clearly [30/31] how widely they differ from Romanism? And therefore, instead of presenting truth, as we have done, habitually, in contrast with an effete Puritanism, is it not time, as I have urged, to present it in its contrasts with an invading and menacing Romanism? We have just heard, in the Epistle for this Office, how S. Paul, warned the Ephesians, "for the space of three years, night and day, with tears," against the "grievous wolves" that were about to enter in and tear the flock. With such an example, before me, shall I be ashamed of the emotion and the earnestness with which I press my convictions upon the Church in this matter? I assure you, reverend and beloved brethren, that "with me it is a very small thing to be judged of you or of any man's judgment." There is something in the position and experiences of an American Bishop, and my dear brother, the Bishop elect will soon find it out, which is so real and Apostolic, that it enables a man to be very fearless and resolute. It may seem to some a fine thing to wear the lawn and to bear such dignities; but, any one who is filled with the spirit of this office soon finds in the care of the churches and in the daily burthen of his work, a sense of responsibility, in which all else disappears. The shortness of life; the bar of Christ; the stewardship in which it is required that a man be found faithful; these are the realities which daily press upon the heart and spirit of a true Bishop; and who that feels all this habitually can make much account of the rash judgment of dying men? Oh, if only one can make sure of the Master's approval and of the final plaudit, "Thou hast been faithful in a few things!" It is this principle that emboldens me to-day. I speak out of the most tender love for the Church and the most anxious solicitude for her welfare. Besides, I have studied my commission in the words [31/32] of Christ. I observe the honour He came down from heaven to bestow on an ancient Bishop who had "tried those who said they were Apostles and were not, and had found them liars." It was to an Episcopate thus faithful to itself that He promised that "power over the nations"--which He afterwards gave at Nicaea. It was of such a Bishop that He said, "I will give him the Morning Star."
Here, then, my Reverend Brother elected, you stand before the Church and before the people of Vermont, to take upon you the burthen of that office, and ministry which is called, in Scripture, "the Apostleship of the Churches and the glory of Christ." Your work is before you; clearly draughted by the great Master-Builder's hand, as elsewhere, so especially in what He came from Heaven to say to "the angels" of the Seven Churches of Asia. The Holy Ghost has also given you your instructions in those Pastoral Epistles, to Timothy and Titus, which are only to be interpreted on the principles of our Ordinal. "Whether they will hear or whether they will forbear," you must magnify your office, therefore, according to the Scriptures, preaching Christ and winning souls to Him--reproving, rebuking and exhorting with all authority, and "letting no man despise thee." Your calling is not to a "Lordship over God's heritage," but to a Mission for the salvation of men, through the Blood of Jesus. It is a Divine Mission--not of man, in any sense, though you receive it by men, as S. Paul did not. There is "a gift" from the Holy Ghost, which is now to be committed to you, but that gift is "by the putting on of hands." If this be not Scriptural Truth, we are engaged in a solemn mockery, at this moment: if it be the Truth of God, who can withstand it? Surely no man, if you have grace given you to go forth, "speaking the truth in Jove," and magnifying the Lord Jesus. [32/33] Him only, through good report, and evil report. You will succeed a truly, great man, a Master in Israel; one whose varied attainments none of his countrymen have surpassed whose genuine and commanding eloquence, few, in any age, have equalled. I know well the unfeigned humility, which led you, in the first surprise of your election, to say to me how unequal you felt to take his place and appear before his admiring flock as his successor. But, as knowing your work, in the Diocese to which you have given the benefit of your labours and your example for so many years, let me say to the people of Vermont, in the words which were used, in the acclamations of the Laity, at ancient consecrations,--"He is worthy, he is greatly worthy." Yes, brother, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." I can bear witness to the meekness and unselfishness, with which, for so long a time, you have laboured for the salvation of souls, as a parish-priest, in Western New York. To-day, the Diocese that lent you to us, calls back her son, to become her father. Take him, dear brethren of this Diocese, as "greatly worthy:" take him with our loving thanks that you spared him to us so long: take him as one, who "as a son with a father," served under the immediate eye, and enjoyed the constant benefit of the example and counsels of the spotless DeLancey: take him, as one ripened and well-fitted for his work, by competent learning and ability, and above all, by an unpretending but a most practical godliness. And you, dear brother, forgive my words of eulogy, at such a moment, when I am sure you feel your own weakness and insufficiency. But courage, brother; "our sufficiency is of Christ; His strength shall be perfected in your infirmity. Courage, my dear brother; "receive the Holy Ghost," and in His might take up your pastoral staff and go your way to seek [33/34] the wandering and lost sheep of Christ, the souls for whom He died--amid these hills and vales--in this rugged but most attractive Diocese, where, indeed, your feet shall be "beautiful upon the mountains" as you preach "the glad tidings and publish peace." How, like a token of promise, were these Green Mountains glorified to-day by the rising sun, that seemed to gild them for our solemn Feast! I know, your true heart, brother; I know you will "give your life for the sheep:" I feel sure that if there be a charm in the simple love of souls, and of their Saviour, it will appear in all your preaching: and I am sure, that, in this confidence, the hands now to be laid upon your head, will be laid there by loving hearts, and with the sweet assurance that this day's work is to bear much fruit, if it please God, for many years. Yes, be of good courage, brother: we are all about to kneel down, and in full responsive Litany, as with "groanings that cannot be uttered," to entreat the Lord in your behalf. And if your "flesh and your heart" seem to fail, as you come to the solemn moment of your vows, I beseech you--look to Jesus; accept His strength as sufficient for you, and, by faith, appropriate His promise to a Bishop of old time: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God."
NOTE.--The author ventures to refer the reader to his little treatise, "The Criterion: a Means of Distinguishing Truth from Error, in Questions of the Times," (Durand, New York) and also to "The Churchman's Calendar" (Annual) for a view of the actual Catholic Church, in all its branches.