THE RIGHT REVEREND WILLIAM D. WALKER was consecrated Bishop of North Dakota on Thursday, December 20th, 1883, in Calvary Church, New York, the Right Reverend Thomas M. Clark, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Rhode Island, presiding as consecrator; the Right Reverend A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Western New York, preacher; the Right Reverend Robert Harper Clarkson, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Nebraska, and the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, D.D., LL.D., Assistant Bishop of New York, presenters; the Right Reverend Benjamin W. Morris, D.D., Missionary Bishop of Oregon, the Right Reverend Abram N. Littlejohn, D.D., DCL., Bishop of Long Island, and the Right Reverend Benjamin Henry Paddock, D.D., Bishop of Massachusetts, present and assisting.
References to our colonial history which have been made in this sermon may be verified generally in Anderson's work, The History of the Church of England in the Colonies and Foreign Dependencies of the British Empire; London, Rivingtons, 1856. It ought to be republished with notes and additional details, by a first-rate editor, and should be found in every library of American history. It is fascinating in its style and materials, and while no Mission station should be without it, it is worthy of study by all the clergy.
A memorable year hastens to its end. Appropriately, it has been observed as the hundredth year of our National Church, and this maternal diocese has marked it by the choice of a coadjutor bishop, a most worthy aid to its venerable diocesan. And how remarkable is the fact that the aged primate who has officially ordered the solemnities of this day, has survived the fiftieth year of his episcopate, and that two such official lives span the first century of our independent history: his own and that of his consecrator, the patriarchal White. This fact illustrates the truth that the entire history of the Christian Church is vertebrated by the succession from St. John of four and thirty of those "apostles of the Churches" who were commissioned by "the apostles of Christ." Seventeen such human lives as are not infrequently observed, carry us back to apostolic times and only twice that number of consecrations are requisite to the authentication of the commission which our brother-elect is about to receive. Let us reflect that no page of the New Testament rests on evidence so clear and definite as that of the due [5/6] transmission of the episcopal order, and that the canon of Scripture itself depends upon testimony of the succession of bishops in primitive Churches. We are gathered together this day to perpetuate that succession, and to extend its blessings into those "desolate heritages" which are spoken of in the text. Having prepared for her own household, this diocese now gives one of her honoured sons to extend her Catholic inheritance to others. Far beyond the limits embraced in the most extravagant hopes of Seabury and his contemporaries, this Church has advanced her outposts, and it is only to a midway station that a new bishop is sent forth this day. Yet, as I shall endeavour to show, the promise of the text is an epistle to him from the Master it expounds our Lord's own promise to be with His witnesses even to the uttermost parts of the earth. And God grant that it may quicken in all our hearts to-day an inspiring confidence in our work. It is no work of private enterprise nor of human origin. The Scriptures prove that it was in the mind of our Great High Priest from the foundation of the earth.
I shall speak of the Missionary Episcopate in America as invested with this peculiar dignity: that its very existence interprets the mind of Christ when He included these long unknown regions of the earth in the express words of His promise. If it was glorious for St. Paul to pierce to the utmost limits of Europe, think of those who in our day are bearing the same pure Gospel, in the continuity [6/7] and identity of the same commission, to the shores of the Pacific, and beyond the setting sun around again to the East. Let us turn to the text and its context and observe how all this was chartered and provided for seven hundred years before the Incarnation; and when the new Missionary shall kneel down to receive his mission, reflect that this was in the prophetic vision when Isaiah sung the lyric of which the text is part. For he begins with an apostrophe to lands beyond sea, saying, "Hearken ye people from far." Then, speaking to the promised Messiah, "It is a light thing that Thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."
Wisely does the Bride of Christ reserve the Prophet Isaiah for the Advent season, for in that very fact she accentuates it and gives it the true interpretation. It is a Catholic maxim that "the law of praying is the law of teaching," and her doctrine of the written Word, expressed in the Collect for the second Sunday in this season, is harmonized with her teaching concerning "the Word made Flesh." Doubtless there is a human element in the one, as in the other, but who can analyze it, who can separate it from the divine In both elements we have the one Christ; and so the one Scripture, of which no man can assail a jot or a tittle without impiety. And it seems to me that the nature of prophetic inspiration has not [7/8] been sufficiently illustrated by those memorable prophecies of a Gentile Church which no Hebrew could ever have conceived of, and against which even the blessed apostles were blinded; which nothing but repeated miracles enabled them to comprehend. Such were all those predictions which make the ancient Israel "alight thing" in comparison, and which extend the covenant of Abraham to all the tribes of the human race. Take this whole chapter of the text, and observe how it conflicts with every instinct of the Israelite, so that even its preservation by the Jewish scribes is almost a miracle. Think of its strange omens to them, when it speaks of another and a greater Israel; nay, of heirs and children of Abraham among the heathen. And then reflect how Isaiah connects all this with the foresight of a rejected Epiphany of God, of a despised and cruelly murdered and mangled Messiah. Such a prospect was shocking to every feeling of the chosen people.. Surely it was God, who spake by the prophets, when the text was given to Israel. Who but the Spirit of prophecy could thus portray the far future of history; the refusal of the Jews to accept the Son of David; the combination of rulers and princes against him; the intellectual scorn with which the Greeks and other Gentiles should hear of Jesus and the resurrection, and in spite of all this, the triumph of the Gospel among all nations, and to the uttermost parts of the earth? But the context foretells it all. The earth is to be built up and established, and its desolate heritages [8/9] occupied by the faithful. Nay, great physical changes are spoken of. Mountains are to be made a highway, and valleys overarched to give free course to the Gospel of peace. And into the new heritages, thus opened for civilized men, a vast immigration shall be gathered from the most distant countries. St. Paul bears this very passage in mind, and refers to it, in pleading with the Corinthians; but, if it was his encouragement, in pressing westward, even perhaps to Britain, how much more should it cheer our own Missionaries to complete the circuit of the earth, seeing it is in America, and in the regions stretching to the coast of the Pacific, that the minute particulars of the promise are realized and fulfilled by the material inventions of our own times. Let me read, then, in paraphrase, what I have no time to expound any further. Remember, it is the Father speaking to the promised Messiah, "persecuted by rulers, despised by the human intellect and abhorred by his own nation." He says, notwithstanding: ". . . I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the Gentiles, to inherit the whole earth and establish it by laws of righteousness and truth. Thou shalt go forth even into the desolate heritages, to remote and vacant wildernesses, causing them to be inhabited and enlightened. . . . Yea, I will make a way over the mountains and span the valleys with highways, and will call populations from afar into these waste places; some from the North, and some from the West, and some from the land of China." Yes, China! for the learned tell us that so we [9/10] should render Sinim. See how these pledges are made good to us in America how emphatically they are realized in what is the daily experience of Northern Dakota.
But let us now review our own history in the light of such prophecy. In our late celebrations we have been so occupied with thoughts of the century and its results that I fear we have lost sight of two historical points, which are indispensable to a correct estimate of our own progress. I mean (I) the Missionary centuries that went before, and (2) the very brief period of our upgrowth as the Church of a Nation. One whole century of Missionary enterprise has been almost forgotten. It was a period of individual heroism unsustained by organized ecclesiastical system, that brought the Gospel to this continent, in the ark of its apostolic ministry. Think of the holy adventure of Richard Seymour, who planted the Cross on the wild coast of Maine think of Robert Hunt, the martyr of Jamestown, and of Whittaker who founded Letters while he preached the Gospel in Virginia. Recall, I say, those confessors of Jesus who through the dreary century that well-nigh extinguished the Church's coal in England kept alive its flickering spark in these colonies. Then came the three-score years and ten of that nursing care and enlarged effort with which we gratefully credit the Mother Church. Through all these years, however, the Church was a hidden seed; a thousand leagues removed from its bishops imperfectly served, and little [10/11] understood, and unjustly hated. But, what faith, what patience, what perseverance of the saints were illustrated by these years into the fruits of which we have entered! Reverting to such examples of heroic Missionary crusading, is it a great thing the Church exacts of her sons, when she bids them go forth to the "desolate heritages" which yet remain--but which are already traversed by the promised highways "where many run to and fro," and by which "knowledge is increased?" Oh what faith was required, and what sacrifice of everything the heart cherishes in its natural instincts, when the lone presbyter embarked from Gravesend in 1608, in a crazy galleon for the wilds of Virginia. We admire our intrepid Missionaries in Utah, in Oregon, in California, but they would blush to be compared with those men of our early colonial history, to whom we owe all that makes life worth living. Gratefully let us remember them. Let us animate our own less earnest spirits by the examples they have set us, and by the facts we see though they could not anticipate them, proving that the Lord was with them and in them, and that their "labour was not in vain in the Lord."
But again, we have too little appreciated the fact that what we now see of increase and progress is by no means the product of the past century but only of the past fifty years. For there was no immediate upgrowth after we obtained the episcopate and became a National Church. For many years we steadily declined. In Virginia we were supposed to be twice [11/12] dead, and by the unrighteous seizure of our glebelands we seemed plucked up by the roots. The old Colonial clergy died, and there were no young men to take their places. It was not till the day when our present Primus, with three other bishops, was consecrated, that our vitality became apparent and life seemed given us from the dead. To the efforts and to the apostolic spirit of Bishop Hobart--truly a great and memorable name--this diocese and the whole Church owe conspicuously a great impulse, which was thus powerful after he had rested from his labours and which others augmented and organized when, in 1835, the American Church became professedly a Missionary Church, and began to take the whole land for a possession. Then, but not till that day when we first recognized our duty to be Missionaries, every one of us, in spirit if not in name, this Church began to grow, to be felt and to become a refuge and a resource to thousands of troubled spirits, emancipated from the trammels of sect.
After the pioneer work of many resolute confessors and evangelists our Missionary Episcopate was founded in the person of the saintly Kemper, who became the apostle of the Great Northwest, and in whom the promise of the text concerning "desolate heritages" was made a living token of the Master's presence and of His readiness to work out His promises by our feeble instrumentality.
The Missionary Episcopate, then, must be viewed in the light of prophecy if we would justly estimate [12/13] its dignity and the claims established thereby upon our co-operative effort. Consider these promises also as the secret of its power. Nothing in colonial days gave promise of great increase. And now, our Missions are daily doing more for the people of America than our feeble resources seem adequate to ensure. Our gifts and offerings amount to little more than the five loaves and the two fishes, yet this Church already feeds the souls of millions. Millions beyond her pale gather the fragments of her store. And daily, more and more, our countrymen come to our altars. Recall that scene in Philadelphia in last October, and ask what Hunt and Whittaker would have said could any one have foretold that such a Council, however remotely, should have been the product of their faith and sufferings. Yet it was they who founded Virginia. It was they who reared the mothers of Virginia, whose institutions created the possibility of such a character as Washington, and so they founded the nation. It is not less noteworthy how largely the little leaven of our Missions is now leavening the whole lump of conscience and intelligence found in unorganized religous elements through all the land. The ten righteous may yet prevail with God to save even that Sodom of the Salt-Lake, where Tuttle is an Antij3as. Let us not forget another pioneer, still living, though in years, who in comparative youth bore the Nicene standard to the Pacific Coast. Let us sometimes give just credit to living men, and suffer me thus to remind you of a son of this diocese, [13/14] Bishop Kip, whose ill-requited labours have been fruitful in good, if only for the testimony he has borne, from the first, to the sanctity of marriage. Who can estimate the value to the social estate of California of that testimony he has so consistently maintained against the gross licentiousness of divorce and the legalized degradation of the name of wife and of woman? Others rise before me, dear for their work's sake, who are equally present, lam sure, to your own thoughts and in your prayers; bishops and priests and deacons and holy women who put us to shame in their ventures for Christ, jeoparding their lives in the high places of the field, while we seem to linger here among sheepfolds to hear the bleatings of the flocks. Alas where is young enthusiasm to do more? I recall the burning zeal of Whittingham, and how it kindled the spirit that founded Nashotah and made real Missionaries even of those whose vocation proved less soldier-like, less daring. The whole Church resounded then with a crusading earnestness that somehow is less apparent now that somehow seems to sleep, but which is by no means dead. It will never die, for the breath of the Lord of Hosts is in the Church's wheels and revolving cycles, and His promise must be fulfilled in us or in happier men that shall yet be born.
It must be apparent that the Missionary Episcopate demands not only the holiest devotion, but also the most excellent gifts. The loftiest character may find here the fullest scope for its [14/15] exercise. The most gifted priest may well covet such a work, and such a one who would get the most out of his life does well when he accepts a Missionary bishopric. The diocesan form of episcopacy appears to me to have been developed in the apostolic age, and recognized in the Scriptures. But the apostles were Missionary bishops, and such were some of those secondary apostles with whom they shared their jurisdictions. In the middle ages we find regionary bishops, as they were called, renewing the Missionary spirit that lay buried in the ashes of primitive unity. But in the revival of that holy fire, in our own day, I find at once the most animating proof of Christ's enduring presence in His Church, and the most solemn admonition that the Latter Day is at hand.
To our Missionary bishops, as they sit in the councils of the Church I habitually look up and feel that these are they on whom rests the power of Elijah, with the mantle of the apostles; these are they, fore-known in the moment of His Ascension, who are Christ's witnesses to the ends of the earth; these are they by whom this land is made in all her waste places to "blossom as the rose;" these are they to whom "future sons and children yet unborn" shall look back to call them blessed, to imitate their piety and their labours, and to give them continuity and extension.
"Faith is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
To scorn delights and live laborious days."
Yes, who can doubt that in those now "desolate [15/16] heritages," there will be raised up many soldiers of Christ who with such feelings as animate us to-day, will take part in future ordinations and new Missionary efforts, extending perhaps to the interior of Asia, where the light that is in them is darkness--and truly, how great is that darkness. Men may babble and sentimentalize over those asteroids of heathendom which prove the vitality of primitive truths among even the apostate races derived from Noah, but, what save effrontery unabashed can compare them with that Light of Men, which is life and resurrection? All that ever came before Him, as lights to the human soul, are "thieves and robbers." "The world lieth in wickedness," according to the apostles' estimate. The Gentiles were sitting in the shadow of death. Alas! they are a people still walking in darkness--Egyptian darkness, awaiting the Sun of Righteousness--the only Light that can possibly enlighten any man that cometh into the world.
It is also noteworthy, how unconsciously men fulfil the prophecies and make land and sea a highway for the Gospel. All these things were foreseen and foreshown the illumination of this Continent; the evangelization of the isles; and not less the ingenuities and inventions of men, who are led to help on the progress of the Gospel while only seeking selfish ends. The iron road which now traverses Dakota and of which the popular mind conceives nothing more than what it will do for trade and for national wealth, is seen, by faith, as the way of the evangelist [16/17] to new tribes and races beyond our western shores, to the isles of the Pacific and to "the land of Sinim." But, considered only in its relations to the Republic, Dakota is a heritage of magnificent promise, at once animating to our hopes and appalling to our sense of responsibility. Look at its position on the map the very heart of North America; a future State stretching gigantic arms towards East and West. The Missouri, which splits the continent, is in fact a great Mediterranean, doubling the coast-line of our country, and opening to commerce what would otherwise be an inaccessible Arcadia, three thousand miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It gives ports of entry to interior regions further away from the brine of ocean than Liverpool from New York. It may take the harvests and the pasturing herds of Montana and Wyoming, and bear them without transhipment to any seaport in the world. On the other hand, Europe and Asia give forth their tribes to people these waste places. A thousand souls often swarm into Dakota in a single day. If the mere politician, with views always superficial, exults over such a development of our territory, the more thoughtful must recognize in it much occasion for anxiety if not for alarm. These invading armies come with something more formidable than bayonets we put ballots into their hands and give to alien and ignorant hordes the mastery of our future. We are prodigal of our inheritance; nay, we are profligates in the recklessness with which we cast the franchise of citizenship to paupers and outcasts and [17/18] criminals. The facts are portentous and the patriot ought to be despondent; but the Christian, in the light of prophecy, waxes earnest and grows hopeful. God sends them here to fulfil His promises, and we know how to deal with them. St. Paul, quoting part of the very passage that has supplied the text, gives us this encouragement: "We then, as workers together with Christ, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain--for He saith, I have heard thee in an acceptable time." He goes on to portray a successful and faithful worker with Christ, and detailing every element of character that qualifies a true Missionary Bishop, he gives us the secret of his power and the assurance of his triumph. Let these be the consolations of the Missionary in his heroic adventure. He is a mere instrument in the hands of One who has sworn to make his way known upon earth and his saving health among all nations. Our labours cannot fail of success, so far. as they are faithful and devoted. Blessed be His name that, by such as we are He is pleased to work His miracles of grace; sowing the word of truth in human hearts, and raising the dead in sin to newness of life, and bidding whole nations to be born in a day; born again in Christ, to bring forth the fruits of faith in the hope of glory.
My Reverend Brother: We are fellow-workers with Christ; He makes us "fishers of men." "We take our captives," says St. Augustine, "not like other fishers; they destroy, but we save; they draw them out of the water that they may perish; we put [18/19] them into the water that they may live forever." But in your faithful labours heretofore, you have been, as it were, but one of those who "cast angle into brooks," or who sweep the quiet mere with their nets. To-day the Master bids you launch forth into the deep. The same apostolic toil must be enlarged upon a scale immense, and for which nothing but His gifts of special grace, in answer to diligent prayer, can fit any man, no matter what his natural endowments.
You enter the Missionary Episcopate in the day of its noble revival; at a period which has already immortalized it with the precious memories of Selwyn and Patteson. When I look at such adventurous spirits I recall the eloquent tribute of Burke to the hardy fishermen of Colonial America. With only slight accommodation one may appropriate his very words to the heroic adventures of English and American Missionaries who have rendered our age illustrious by their apostolic examples. Open the map of the world on Mercator's projection, and mark the realms they have opened if not conquered for Christ. We may follow them amid tumbling mountains of ice, penetrating the frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay; or, while we seek them under the Arctic circle, we learn that they have pierced the opposite region of polar cold and are toiling beneath the Southern Cross. No sea that is not penetrated by their enterprise, no climate that is not witness to their toil. They rival the daring hardihood of those who hurl [19/20] the harpoon on the coasts of Labrador; who pursue their gigantic game along the shores of Brazil, and make the Falkland isle a mere halting-place in the progress of their victorious industry towards the antipodes or the Antarctic pole. To the goodly fellowship of heroes, such as these, you are called this day, and if your heart faints within you, and your knees tremble, as you think of the greatness and difficulty of your work, I disguise it not that well you may; for who is sufficient for these things? But courage, brother; you are to receive new power, in the grace that is sufficient for you, and the gift that shall be in you by the putting on of apostolic hands. We believe in the charismata. We, your brethren in the episcopate, are not here to perform a mere ceremony, but to carry on the work which apostles began when Matthias was numbered with the eleven, when Barnabas and Silas were added, when Timothy and Titus were made angels of the Churches. We, bishops, are here to-day to impart a definite gift, by the Holy Ghost; that same gift of which St. Paul said to one of his successors, "Remember that thou stir it up." The same blessed Spirit that has made fruitful your earlier ministry in this great metropolis will work mightily in you and for you in your greater work. "As thy days so shall thy strength be." While all your brethren here assembled bear witness to your efficient toil in the past, few know as well as I do, with what simplicity and devotion you have given yourself to duty in Christ's name. My heart goes [20/21] back with emotions that I can hardly suppress, to blessed days when we worked together in this parish, when we ministered, side by side beneath this sacred roof, and when I often felt that my younger brother gave me a pattern and a stimulus in his zeal and fidelity. Let it be so, when I look to your example as my brother bishop. Go forth to your noble warfare, the same man that you have been in your quiet but laborious mission here. You shall be followed in the persevering prayers of your brethren; and long after the hands now to be laid upon your head are folded to their rest, may you live to recall our day as "the day of small things," and to commit to others, whom the Lord shall call to greater works than ours, the commission that is given to you. The Lord hasten His kingdom, and prepare us all to give account to Him, as humble but faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God.