POPULAR attention has been arrested by the late trial of the Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, Jr., to an unprecedented degree; and the real point at issue has been misrepresented by a portion of the public press, and very naturally misunderstood by nearly all the remainder. In a few cases—but only a very few—has there been sufficient strength of common sense to master the truth, and sufficient manly candor to utter it.
The point at issue is simply this: Does the law of the Church limit the jurisdiction of her Ministers, or leave it entirely undefined? Is a Clergyman of the Church perfectly at liberty to exercise his office wherever and whenever he may choose?
The Church, from the beginning, has given to every man his own sphere. St. Peter and St. Paul, to prevent collisions, so divided the work, that the one preached chiefly to the Jews and the other to the Gentiles. St. Paul was unwilling even to appear to intrude upon another man's ground in the work of preaching the Gospel. Each Bishop has his own Diocese, and must confine the exorcise of his office rigidly to that Diocese, unless he has the express warrant of law for going beyond it. In like manner, every Priest must have a definite sphere of labor of his own, before he can be ordained at all; and the priestly commission is given him with this express limitation:
"Take thou authority to preach the word of God, and to minister the Holy Sacraments, in the Congregation where thou shall be lawfully appointed thereunto."
There has never boon any Branch of the Church of Christ, in any age, which has not embodied this essential limitation in its Canons.
The same principle pervades nearly all denominations of professing Christians, as it docs every organized body of men whatsoever. Presbyterians and Methodists are as familiar with it as anybody else; and the Church, in these United States, from her first organization, contained this fundamental regulation, which has been made from time to time more full and clear, until now it reads as follows:
"No Minister belonging to this Church shall officiate, either by preaching, reading prayers, or otherwise, in the Parish, or within the Parochial Cure, of another Clergyman, unless he have received express permission for that purpose from the Minister of the Parish or Cure, or, in his absence, from the Churchwardens and Vestrymen, or Trustees of the Congregation, or a majority of them."
And, immediately after these words, the Canon goes on to declare what shall be the boundaries of a Parish, "for the purposes of this section,'' as follows:
"Parochial boundaries shall be the limits, as now fixed by law, of any village, town, township, incorporated borough, city, or the limits of some division thereof, which may have been recognised by the Bishop, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, as constituting the boundaries of a Parish."
"If there be but one Church or Congregation within the limits of such village, town, township, borough, city, or such division of a city or town, as herein provided, the same shall be deemed the Parochial Cure of the Minister having charge thereof; if there be two or more Congregations or Churches therein, it shall be deemed the Cure of the Ministers thereof; and the assent of a majority of such Ministers shall be necessary."—[Digest, § VI., Can. 12, Title I.]
Such being the law, and the grounds of it in theory and practice, in human nature and in history, let us come to the facts of the recent trial of the Rev. Mr. Tyng.
There is a small section or school of persons in the Church, who set themselves up above all their brethren, as being the only ones who "preach the Gospel." They declare that all the others "do not preach the Gospel," or, "preach another Gospel." They claim that the duty of " preaching the Gospel" is paramount to the obligation of obeying the Canons; and that they have a clear right to invade the Parishes of all their brother Clergy who, in their opinion, do not "preach the Gospel," and themselves proclaim the everlasting Gospel to the parishioners of these unevangelical brethren. The evils likely to flow from this exaggeration of differences on minor points, may easily be imagined, and would be far greater but for the general intelligence and sound sense of Church people. What would have become of the Army of the United States during the war, if a small knot of Colonels had formed themselves into a sort of voluntary Loyal League, and claimed that any one of their number had the right to go into any other regiment and harangue the men in order to prove to them that their own Colonel was not loyal to the Government of the United States? and should insist that any Colonel complaining of such denunciation in his own regiment, must certainly be in sympathy with the enemy? Or is religion the only subject in regard to which there is no absurdity too gross to be "popular?"
Mr. Tyng is professedly one of those who thus denounce brethren who have precisely the same priestly commission with themselves, and, therefore, have precisely the same canonical rights, and the same claim to general confidence. His father, the Rev. Dr. Tyng, is another of them; Dr. Dyer, Dr. Canfield, Dr. Newton—all the clerical witnesses brought forward by them in the late trial—belong, so far as this subject is concerned, to the same small section with themselves. But neither Dr. Stubbs nor Dr. Boggs belong to that section. Hence, according to the principles of the "Declaration" lately signed by the two Messrs. Tyng, and others of that section, they claim the right to go to New-Brunswick, and "preach the Gospel" to every creature there, including the parishioners of Dr. Stubbs and Dr. Boggs. So great, in fact, was the prejudice already instilled by Mr. Tyng into the minds of his people against these brethren, that a number of his communicants, in coming for the summer to New-Brunswick, did not attend the services of their own Church at all, but worshipped with the Methodists; and his accepting their invitation to come down and preach for them in the Methodist House of Worship, was an act of direct aid to the Methodists, as in opposition to those two brother priests of his own Church, "who did not preach the Gospel." It was, in effect, a public proclamation to all New-Brunswick, that the two Church Clergymen settled there were so far removed from "preaching the Gospel," that it was a matter of conscientious duty to ignore their priestly commission and their canonical rights altogether.
Now both Dr. Stubbs and Dr. Boggs would have been willing to open their pulpits to Mr. Tyng, if he wished to preach to their people. They were as ready to recognise the validity of Mr. Tyng's priestly commission as he was to cast contempt upon theirs. But this mode of preaching could hardly have been used against the very men who courteously gave the invitation, without exciting disgust instead of enthusiasm. It would, as Dr. Tyng declared under oath, have been "the basest of all possible intrusions." It would, moreover, have been a practical declaration of the unity of the Clergy of the Church in preaching the Gospel; and, therefore, it would not have answered the object of the "Declaration" which was to produce distrust in the minds of the people against their own settled Clergy.
The deliberate intent with which this act was done is evident from the preliminary facts connected with the case. Dr. Boggs had under his charge a free mission enterprise, founded by the zeal of the mother Parish of which Dr. Stubbs is Rector; and it is yet in a struggling condition, easy to be disturbed or injured by a local commotion. It was for this part of the field that Dr. Stubbs was solicitous, more than for his own. St. James' (Methodist) Church was the chief rival to be apprehended in building up the little free Church. Let us look at the facts:
On the 10th day of June, the Rev. Dr. McClintock, an eminent and very able Methodist Minister, and personally well acquainted with the Bishop of New-Jersey, wrote to him as follows:
"Our Methodist Church, (St. James',) of this town, needs a supply for the month of August. A Presbyter of your Church would be willing to take the service; but he says that your Canons are executed in New-Jersey more strictly than in some other Dioceses, and make it impossible. Is this so? Can you not relax these terrible rules? Please let me know."
This shows clearly enough that it was well known that the course proposed was contrary to the Canon. The only question was, whether the Canons would be "strictly executed," or whether they would be "relaxed." The Bishop immediately wrote to Dr. Stubbs, as the Rector of the mother Parish of New-Brunswick, asking:
"What does Dr. McClintock mean? Will he have a Church Clergyman to take possession of a Methodist building and Congregation, conduct the Church's worship, and teach them the truth as the Church holds it, prepare for Confirmation, and restore in all ways the wandering sheep? If so, and you (the Rector of the Parish) consent, I will look into my friend's proposition, and communicate with you again. Thinking that you know more of the case than appears on the surface of Dr. McClintock's letter, I have written thus to you."
Dr. Stubbs replied, that he did not think it was Dr. McClintock's purpose to bring back the Methodist Congregation to the Church's worship and service, but rather to build up the Methodist Congregation at the expense of the Church; for he knew that this Methodist Congregation had lately been received into connection with the Conference. The Bishop, accordingly, referred Dr. McClintock to Dr. Stubbs, as Rector of the Parish, for consultation on the proposed scheme, saying, in his letter, "Dr. Stubbs is in charge of the Parish within which the services you request would be held. I refer yon, therefore, to him, as authorized to settle the matter, at this stage of the proceedings."
In reply to a written request from Dr. McClintock, Dr. Stubbs accordingly responded with great plainness, as follows:
"As you are, I know, a peace-loving man, and would be the last to make discord among brethren, I would recommend that the experiment be not tried to which you have referred. No Clergyman of the Church can perform the service to the letter, without additions, mutilations, or recognition of any other ministration, and in surplice and stole, without giving great offence to the Congregation in Bayard-street," (the Methodist Church, St. James';) "and if he should take occasion, as he might be required to do by Ecclesiastical Authority, to warn them, in the words of old John Wesley, against 'the sin of separating from the Church,' what a tumult would ensue! 'Away with such a fellow!' would be the cry. Would not all this be too cool, even in hot weather?"
"On the other hand, should a Clergyman of the Church attempt to perform any service here without permission; or should he not do so to the strictness of the letter, abjuring every service but his own, in strict accordance with the law prescribed by rubric and custom, he would certainly be indicted and presented for trial. Now would you like to see a poor fellow, who came here as your friend, exposed to such usage? You would not wish, I am sure, to disturb the peaceful relations of a community which has treated you with courtesy arid kindness, and in the name of religion break the bond of Christian love. I am persuaded that in such a case I need do no more than appeal to the honor of a Christian gentleman."
In Dr. McClintock's reply, dated July 5th, he says:
"You may rest assured that I shall not break the peace, or even induce you to break it, by having our friend of your communion to minister at our altar. I trust you fully understand the ground of my letters to you and to Bishop Odenheimer. The points are: (1.) Our Church will have no Pastor in August; (2.) one of your Presbyters, of another Diocese, is willing to do the work, which would not be held unlawful or create, any disturbance in his own Diocese; (3.) he will not do it here, if the authorities here administer the law differently; (4.) my laymen wish me to get his services, if I can; (5.) I go to the Bishop, and the Bishop sends me to you. This is the whole history. How I could do better, I do not see."
The letter closed with expressions of friendly regard, and Dr. Stubbs immediately replied:
"I deeply regret differing from you in any respect, especially as to the best method of doing good in this evil world; but we see our duty in different lights, and each one is responsible to the great Lord of all for acting in accordance with his own conscience. Did you take the same view of the Church of God that I do, you would thrust your right hand into the tire before you would stand by and see one of its laws broken. Neither Bishop Odenheimer nor myself can permit these laws, which we have sworn at God's altar to maintain, to be violated with impunity; yet why should either of us be forced into the odious position of a prosecuting attorney? The friend to whom you allude can have the opportunity, if he wishes it, to officiate in either of the Episcopal Churches in New-Brunswick; why, then, should he go out of his may to create commotion and discord? I appeal to your own impartial judgment in the case."
In full reliance upon Dr. McClintock's assurance that no Clergyman of the Church would be asked to officiate in the Methodist Congregation in violation of the Canons, Dr. Stubbs felt no further apprehension on the subject. He was, therefore, greatly surprised on Friday, July 12th, when he first learned that Mr. Tyng was advertised to officiate, both morning and evening, of the Sunday following, in St. James', Bayard-street. It was at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, that he first heard this, being there to assist at an Ordination. He consulted with the Bishop and some of the Clergy present, and then returned to New-Brunswick, where he sent to Mr. Tyng (then the guest of Mr. Christopher Meyer) the following letter:
Princeton, July 12th.
Rev. STEPHEN H. TYNG, Jr.:
Rev. and Dear Sir: Information was given me this morning, by the Rev. Edward Boggs, D. D., whom I met at an Ordination service in this neighborhood, that he had seen a notice, published in the New-Brunswick paper, that you would officiate on Sunday next, in New-Brunswick, for a Congregation of the Methodist Society.
On consulting with the Bishop of the Diocese, he authorized me to say, that he would not suffer the laws of the Church to be violated with impunity, and I beg you, therefore, to desist from that service, which is plainly forbidden by the Twelfth Canon.
You will, I trust, readily comply with this request, prompted as it, is by the earnest desire to preserve the unity and peace of the Church, and to promote concord among brethren.
I remain, dear sir, very sincerely yours,
To this letter Mr. Tyng made no reply; but the next day he officiated, both morning and evening, for the Methodist Congregation, as if the express consent of the two settled Clergy had been given, instead of having been expressly refused. He did not use the whole of the appointed service in the Prayer Book; and he officiated, (to use the language of the Methodist Minister, Dr. Tiffany, in his testimony,) "in a bob-tail coat," without surplice or stole, and in conjunction with Ministers whose orders the Church does not recognise, and who are not of her communion.
In accordance with a clear sense of duty, Dr. Stubbs, in connection with Dr. Boggs, the next day sent to the Bishop of New-Jersey a formal complaint, presenting Mr. Tyng for having violated the law of the Church, to the great detriment of her order and peace; and the Bishop forwarded the papers to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of New-York, to which Mr. Tyng belongs.
The Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of New-York, on receiving the papers, issued a Commission of Inquiry, which, after examination, resulted in the presentment of Mr. Tyng, for a clear violation of the Twelfth Canon.
The result of the trial, growing out of this presentment, is now well known. Mr. Tyng was found guilty of the violation of the Twelfth Canon, and sentenced to be admonished—the lightest sentence which it was in the power of the court to inflict.
From this recital of facts, the importance of the issue involved and the object of the whole proceeding can be clearly understood. The importance of the principles involved may, perhaps, be well stated in the words of Mr. Tyng himself. Ina letter, read at a meeting held under the auspices of the "New-York Sunday School Missionary Union," under date of December 13th, 1867, he writes: "The charge preferred against me involves the accusation of moral perjury. For, if I have offended this voluntarily assumed law of the Protestant Episcopal Church, then have I violated sacred engagements and a solemn oath."
That Mr. Tyng also fully appreciated the magnitude of the issues involved, and did not look upon the charges preferred against him as trifling, or merely personal to himself, appears from his language in the same letter. He says: "The question at issue is one of principle, which concerns all evangelical men in the Episcopal Church as well as myself. * * * To prepare a suitable and exhaustive defence in this action will require all the time that I can possibly spare from my extended parochial work. The question at issue cannot be superficially settled."
The real question involved then, as Mr. Tyng himself understood it, is simply this, whether one, who voluntarily assumes the Ministry of the Church, and promises, under the most solemn sanctions, obedience to her laws, is at liberty to violate those vows and to break those laws, whensoever, in his judgment, it may be desirable so to do? To grant this, it will readily be seen, would be to destroy at once the obligations of all law, human and divine. It is not a question whether this or that law is a good and a wise law, but simply whether, being a law, it is to be obeyed. The object of the trial, therefore, is clearly shown to be, not an attempt to thrust any man out of the Church on account of his sympathies with any peculiar style of churchmanship; not to persecute or punish Mr. Tyng in particular; not to discipline him for "preaching the Gospel;" not to arraign him for "preaching in a Methodist Church;" not a desire to administer Church law so that it shall bear hardly on one party in the Church and not at all upon another; but simply to secure the practical observance of a rule of common decency and common sense, winch prevails among all organizations of men, and nearly all bodies of professing Christians, and is clearly embodied and set forth in the Canons of the Church; to place on record a judicial decision that Canon Twelfth really means what it clearly says; and to ensure that Clergymen of one school in the Church shall show as much respect for the position and rights of Clergymen of another school as they expect to be shown for their own. The orders of the Clergy of both parties are the same. The laws are the same for both. The laws mean the same for both. It is now settled that all are equally bound to obey them; and that no section of the Clergy, no matter how loudly they may boast their own superior piety, shall assert it as an unquestioned privilege, that they can set the laws of their own Church at defiance with impunity.
The undersigned, as the Presbyters selected by you "to constitute a Court for the trial of the Presentment made against the Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, Junior, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, New-York, for certain offences alleged in a complaint preferred against him from the Diocese of New-Jersey," having performed the duty to which you called them, hereby declare their decision on the charge contained in the said Presentment.
The charge and specification are as follows:
CHARGE.—Violation of Section 6 of Canon 12 of Title I. of the Digest of the Canons for the government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, passed and adopted in General Convention in Richmond, Virginia, October, 1859, by which Section of the said Canons it is provided, that "No Minister belonging to this Church shall officiate cither by preaching, reading prayers or otherwise, in the Parish, or within the Parochial Cure of another Clergyman, unless he have received express permission for that purpose from the Minister of the Parish or Cure, or, in his absence, from the Church Wardens and Vestrymen, or Trustees of the Congregation, or a majority of them."
Specification 1.—In this, that the said, the Reverend Stephen H. Tyng, Junior, did, on the morning of Sunday, the 14th day of July, 1867, within the corporate bounds of the city of New-Brunswick, in the Diocese of New-Jersey, which city then constituted the Parochial Cure of the Reverend Alfred Stubbs, D. D., and the Reverend Edward B. Boggs, D. D., Ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church, duly settled and in charge of congregations in said city, officiate by preaching and by reading prayers within the said Parochial Cure of the said, the Reverend Alfred Stubbs, D. D., and of the said, the Reverend Edward B. Boggs, B. D., without their permission, or the permission of either of them, or of the Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees of either of their congregations, or of a majority of such Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees.
Specification 2.—In this, that the said, the Reverend Stephen H. Tyng, Junior, did, in the evening of the day aforesaid, within the corporate bounds of the city aforesaid, officiate by preaching and by reading prayers within the said Parochial Cure of the said Alfred Stubbs and Edward B. Boggs, without their permission, or the permission of either of them, or of the Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees of either of their congregations, or a majority of such Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees.
It is proved by the testimony, as you will see in the evidence herewith delivered, that the Reverend Stephen H. Tyng, Jr., did, both on the morning and in the evening of Sunday, the 14th day of July, 1867, officiate by preaching and by reading prayers within the corporate bounds of the City of New-Brunswick, in the Diocese of New-Jersey.
It is also proved that the Reverend Alfred Stubbs, D. D., and the Reverend Edward B. Boggs, D. D., Ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church, were, at that time, duly settled, and in charge of Churches or congregations in said city, and that these were the only Protestant Episcopal congregations or Churches within the corporate bounds of said city.
The Reverend Mr. Tyng officiated on both the aforementioned occasions without having received the "express permission" of either of the above named Ministers, or of the Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees of either of their congregations, or a majority of such Church Wardens and Vestrymen or Trustees.
These facts are fully established. The decision of this case, therefore, depends entirely on the interpretation to be put upon the section of the Canon alleged to have been violated.
It is claimed on the part of the accused, that the words "Parish" and "Parochial Cure," in this section of the Canon, cannot properly be interpreted as meaning a territorial division, or locality defined by territorial boundaries or limits, but that they are to be taken as simply designating the people who actually attend the ministrations of a Clergyman in his Church edifice, or whose names the Minister of such Church shall have put on his list of families and adult persons, according to the requirement of the fifth section of Canon 12, Title I.
The undersigned cannot take this view of the Canon now in question, for the simple reason that the Canon itself plainly forbids it, by going on to define its own meaning in the following clear and positive language:
"Where Parish boundaries are not defined by law, or settled by Diocesan authority under the second section of Canon V. of Title III. of this Digest, or are not otherwise settled, they shall, for the purposes of this section, be defined by the civil divisions of the State, as follows:
"Parochial boundaries shall be the limits, as now fixed by law, of any village, town, township, incorporated borough, city, or the limits of some division thereof which may have been recognised by the Bishop, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, as constituting the boundaries of a parish,
"If there be but one Church or congregation within the limits of such village, town, township, borough, city, or such division of a city or town as herein provided, the same shall be deemed the Parochial Cure of the Minister having charge thereof. If there be two or more congregations or Churches therein, it shall be deemed the Cure of the Ministers thereof, and the assent of a majority of such Ministers shall be necessary."
It would be impossible to find language that could more clearly and distinctly declare that a Minister's "Parish" signifies not the people merely who worship in his Church, or whose names are on his list, but the division of territory within which, as fixed by law, or recognised by the Bishop as above recited, his Church or congregation is situated.
Within this territory, while our Church claims no jurisdiction over, and undertakes no legislation for bodies of professing Christians other than her own, yet, in every place her own Ministers are subject to her authority and amenable to her laws. Into whatsoever abode, into whatsoever house of worship, under whatsoever roof they may go, they are still Ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and as such, bound by her rule, and answerable to her constituted authorities.
Whatever doubt may have previously existed, if any doubt did exist upon this point, it was most certainly intended to be set at rest by the enactment of Canon VII. of 1829, as is fully shown by the history of that Canon, as related in Hawks' "Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States," pages 291 and 292. In the case there referred to, a Minister of our Church claimed the right to address Presbyterians or Congregationalists in their own house of worship, and against the remonstrance of the Rector of the only Protestant Episcopal Church in the place, on the ground that they were not within his "Parochial Cure." It was this circumstance which gave rise to the Canon of 1829, making it still more clear, if possible, that the Church, in this part of her legislation, intends by the terms "Parish" or "Parochial Cure," a district or territory defined by local boundaries. It undoubtedly follows that no presence of a Minister's parishioners within the Parish or Parochial Cure of another, can give to that Minister a canonical right to officiate therein, even for them, without the permission of the Minister of that Parish. There may be localities, as in large cities, where the observance of this rule might be impracticable; but in the Church at large it is not impracticable, nor, in the opinion of the undersigned, unnecessary.
This Board of Presbyters must take the law as they find it; and, so doing, they cannot but regard the whole territory embraced within the corporate bounds of the City of New-Brunswick, in the Diocese of New-Jersey, as the Cure of the Reverend Dr. Stubbs and the Reverend Dr. Boggs, who, at the time of the alleged violation of the Canon, were the Ministers of the only two Protestant Episcopal Congregations or Churches therein.
It is claimed on the part of the accused, in this case, that the object sought by the legislation of the Church, which led to the enactment of this Canon, was solely to guard a Clergyman in his charge from efforts to supplant him in the affections and respect of his people, through a spirit of injurious rivalry and unholy competition.
In the opinion of the undersigned, however, the intent of the Canon, so far as it has any bearing of this sort, is not so much to remedy the mischief which flows from an unholy spirit of rivalry, as to prevent it. Rivalry implies some degree of possession, some foothold already obtained, such, at least, as gives place and power for competition and strife for the object sought, or for emulation. But the evident purpose of the Canon is to prevent the gaining of any such possession or foothold as would afford an opportunity for rivalry. The surest way to prevent rivalry would be to forbid intrusion: and this is precisely the point to which, in the opinion of the undersigned, according to the best knowledge they have been able to derive from a careful examination of the whole subject, the law of the Church is directed. Whatever may have been the condition or necessities of Ministers or of Parishes at the time when legislation upon this subject began in our branch of the Church, in 1792, it is plain to them, as they think it must be to every unbiased person who will follow down the action of the Church with reference to this law, to the enactment of the present Canon, that the whole purpose and intent have been to prevent intrusion altogether. It began by saying, in general terms, (Canon VI., 1792,) "No clergyman belonging to this Church shall officiate, either by preaching or reading prayers in the Parish, or within the Parochial Cure of another Clergyman, unless he have received express permission for that purpose from the Minister of the Parish or Cure, or, in his absence, from the Church Wardens, Vestrymen, or Trustees of the Congregation." In the General Convention of 1795, it was enacted, (Canon VII.,) that "Whereas, there is no provision made in the sixth Canon of 1792, for the case of such a vicinity of two or more Churches, as that there can be no local boundaries drawn between their respective Cures, it is hereby ordained that in every such case, no Minister of this Church, other than the Parochial Clergy of the said Cures, shall preach within the common limits of the same, in any other place than in one of the Churches thereof, without the consent of the major number of the Parochial Clergy of the said Churches." Every revision of the Canon from that day to this has simply aimed to declare and give effect to its original purpose, by such further provisions as experience and the expansion of the Church seemed to demand. Parish boundaries have been more accurately defined, and ministrations by another than the Minister in charge have been more specifically prohibited, in order that every Minister should have his proper sphere of labor, and be held accountable in that sphere; that so, each working with the consent of the rest, all might conspire together in unity of mind to promote the edification of the Church and the glory of God.
It is not for this Board of Presbyters to enter into a defence of the wisdom or propriety of this legislation, or of the existing Canon. With this, in the performance of their present duty, they have nothing to do. They may remark, however, that such legislation and such regulations are as old as the Church itself, based upon that principle of order and propriety, which we find so distinctly enunciated by the great Apostle St. Paul, in the 15th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, 20th and 21st verses: "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But, as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard shall understand."
Some of the witnesses, as will be found in the evidence which we herewith deliver to you, testified that in their own Ministry and in that of other Clergymen, so far as their observation has extended, the requirements of this Canon have not been complied with, nor sought to be enforced.
In the present case, and in their present relation to this case, the undersigned do not see how this testimony, giving to it whatever weight may be claimed for it, can determine or help to determine for them either the meaning or the obligation of the Canon. Surely the habitual or general ignorance or disregard of a law is not to be taken as settling its true interpretation. Nor can the number or respectability of those who set its requirements aside, render the breach of it less certain.
It is true that this Canon is one of those enactments, an appeal to which should not be made without great and good reason. But it is to be presumed that he who does appeal to it has such reason. It is not likely that any three Presbyters would be found willing to draw up and address to their Bishop a presentment specifying, as offences, acts which common sense and common courtesy would allow, and still less probable is it that the Bishop would permit such a presentment to go to trial. And this is deemed by the undersigned a sufficient provision against any ridiculous or vexatious extreme into which a strict interpretation of this Canon might be supposed to lead.
Still, however, while the undersigned, for the reasons above given, cannot look upon the alleged disregard of this Canon as fixing its true interpretation, so as to put the present case beyond the scope of its intention, they are not unwilling to admit the fact of such disregard in mitigation of the offence committed in this case.
At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the act here complained of was done in open defiance of the Episcopal Authority of the Diocese of New-Jersey, and in face of a kind remonstrance.
The undersigned, constituting the Board of Presbyters for the trial of the Presentments against the Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, Junior, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, New-York, do, therefore, unanimously declare that the said Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, Junior, is GUILTY of the charges and specifications contained in the said presentment, and that Admonition is the sentence which, in their opinion, should be pronounced upon him.
In witness whereof, the undersigned have hereunto set their hands, this 24th day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.
ALFRED B. BEACH, D. D.
ISAAC H. TUTTLE, D. D.
EUGENE AUGS. HOFFMAN, D. D.
W. H. MOORE.
THE Board of Presbyters, appointed for the Trial of the Reverend STEPHEN H. TYNG, Jr., having delivered to the Bishop of the Diocese their Decision on the Charge contained in the Presentment, together with the Evidence, stating that the said Reverend STEPHEN H. TYNG, Jr., is guilty; and also stating that, in their opinion, the Sentence of Admonition should be pronounced; the Bishop, pursuant to the Canon, summoned the Accused and several of the Clergy to meet him on Saturday, the fourteenth day of March, A. D. 1868, at Noon, in the Church of the Transfiguration, in the City of New-York, and did then and there publicly pronounce the Sentence aforesaid, as follows:
STEPHEN H. TYNG, JR., Presbyter,
Reverend Brother in the Lord:
We are here to-day, in obedience to the law of the Church, for the performance of a painful duty.
It is to pronounce upon you the Canonical Sentence which has been recommended by the Board of Presbyters, duly appointed to try the Presentment found against you for certain acts of yours complained of in the Diocese of New-Jersey.
It appears that on Sunday, the 14th day of July, 1867, you officiated, by preaching and reading prayers in the morning, and again in the evening, in a Methodist Meeting-house, in the City of New-Brunswick, in the Diocese of New-Jersey; and that you did thus officiate, not only without the permission of the two Presbyters, whose joint Cure, by the terms of the Canon, included the whole of said City of New-Brunswick, but in defiance of their protest, and in disregard of the warning conveyed to you from the Bishop of the Diocese. The complaint of the two Presbyters of New-Brunswick having been laid before their Bishop, was by him duly forwarded to the Ecclesiastical Authority of this Diocese, according to the provisions of the Canon applicable to such cases.
The Ecclesiastical Authority of this Diocese, (being at that time, in the absence of the Bishop, the Standing Committee,) appointed according to the 17th Canon of this Diocese, a Committee of Inquiry, consisting of three clergymen and two laymen, to examine the facts of the case.
The said Committee of Inquiry unanimously reported a Presentment against you for a violation of Section 6 of Canon 12, Title 1, of the Canons of the General Convention. That Presentment was allowed by the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority for the time being; and twelve Presbyters were named to you, that you might, if desirous to exorcise the privilege, select the names of five Presbyters to constitute the Board for the trial of the Presentment.
You having declined, after some delay, to exercise the privilege of selection, that duty was performed by the Bishop, who accordingly gave notice to five Presbyters—Presbyters who were among the most intelligent, calm and dispassionate of their order in this Diocese, that they were selected to constitute a Board for the trial of the Presentment found against you.
The Board discharged their duty with great patience, and with a fairness and judgment that will be generally recognised when the case comes to be fully understood. They allowed to you a large number of able counsel, and they listened with commendable forbearance to arguments and discussions, which carried freedom of speech to its utmost limits, and left no form of appeal to popular prejudice and passion untried.
After careful consideration, the Board reported to us their conclusions, and the reasons for them;—conclusions and reasons which we believe will commend themselves to the judgment and right feeling of the great body of the Church in this country.
They were unanimous in finding you guilty of the offence charged, of violating the Canon already referred to; and they were also unanimous in stating Admonition as the sentence which, in their opinion, should be pronounced upon you. Having taken ample time for review and consideration, and allowed sufficient opportunity for further pleas in your behalf, and for the examination of them, we have now to express our approval of the finding of the Board of Triers: and We do here, in virtue of the authority conferred upon us by the great Head of the Church, and in accordance with the recommendation of the Board of Presbyters appointed by us, deliver to you this, our Admonition, for the offence of which you have been found guilty by your brother Presbyters: the offence of officiating, in violation of the law of this Church, within the joint parochial cure of two Presbyters of a neighboring Diocese, in opposition to their expressed wishes, and in disregard of the warning of the Bishop of that Diocese.
We have said that this is the performance of a painful duty. It is so, not because \ve deem the law of the Church, which has been violated, harsh or unreasonable; nor on account of any want of fairness, or want of thoroughness in the proceedings which have resulted in this sad conclusion; but, because of the grief which we feel in finding ourselves constrained to utter words of censure where we would so gladly speak only in the voice of loving commendation. But in administering our weighty office, we are bound, no less than others, to be guided by the requirements of law, and we have to take heed that we do not allow feelings of tenderness for individuals, to interfere with lawful and necessary measures for preserving the order and discipline of the Church.
We believe we do not exceed the limits of a widely recognised truth, when we express our conviction, that scarcely any Bishop in this country has exercised in equal measure towards a Presbyter, the kindness, forbearance and generosity which have been shown by the present Bishop of the Diocese toward you, and toward those connected with you. In reviewing the past, we feel no regret that gentleness and kindness have been thus conspicuous in our bearing toward you. And while we are free to say, that we do not mean to allow discipline in the Church in this Diocese to perish through our neglect, or through our tenderness toward individuals; yet, we do mean to continue to make it our earnest endeavor, with humble prayer for the assistance of God's grace, to stand ever in a kindly paternal relation to all our clergy; to keep out of our mind all bitterness of feeling; all undue harshness of judgment toward those who deal inconsiderately with the doctrines, or with the order and law of this Church. We mean to distinguish, so far as may be possible, between the individual and his official acts; to make allowance for the erroneous views and wrong impulses which have resulted in part from education and other partial influences; to cordially recognise every good quality and really useful service; thus keeping ourselves in a condition to be just in our judgments, and kind in our personal feelings, in spite of all waywardness of individual tempers, but at the same time holding ourselves ready to be firm in the exercise of whatever discipline may be called for by the law of the Church, and rendered necessary for the maintenance of its order and well being.
The interpretation of the Canon under which the complaint was lodged against you in the Diocese of New-Jersey, and under which in this Diocese you have been presented, tried, and found guilty, has been with great vehemence disputed, but disputed, as we think, with very little reason. The Bishop of New- Jersey; the Standing Committee of this Diocese, which, in the absence of the Bishop, received the complaint from New-Jersey, and acted upon it in the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry; the Committee of Inquiry itself, which unanimously presented you for the violation of that Canon; and the Board of Presbyters appointed to try you, and which unanimously found you guilty, all concurred,—as it is believed, that a very large proportion of the whole Church in this country would concur—in the same plain and obvious interpretation. The history of the Canon and its language, as well as the reason of the thing, make it clear that the Church designed, in Sec. 6, Canon 12, Title 1, to confer upon Rectors exclusive territorial jurisdiction, so far as might be necessary to protect them from intrusion and disturbance by other ministers of this Church. In all ages the Church has taken care to protect her ministers from unreasonable conflict and aggression; requiring that each pastor shall be left in quiet and security in this discharge of his ordinary duties in his own proper sphere. The Canon just referred to provides "that no minister belonging to this Church shall officiate, cither by preaching, reading prayers or otherwise, in the Parish, or within the Parochial Cure of another Clergyman, unless he have received express permission for that purpose from the minister of the Parish or Cure, or in his absence from the Church Wardens and Vestrymen, or Trustees of the congregation, or a majority of them." And it goes on to declare, (in reference to a previous paragraph respecting Parish "boundaries and subdivisions of towns, &c.,) that if there be but one Church or congregation within the limits of such village, town, township, borough, city, or such division of a city or town as herein provided, the same shall be deemed the Parochial Cure of the minister having charge thereof. If there be two or more congregations or Churches therein, it shall be deemed the cure of the ministers thereof, and the assent of the majority of such ministers shall be necessary."
Now, in the City of New-Brunswick, where the acts complained of were done, there were two Churches or Congregations, and a minister in charge of each of them. By the terms of the Canon nothing can be more clear than that the City of New-Brunswick, for all the purposes of this Canon, was the joint parochial cure of these two ministers, so that no Clergyman of this Church could rightfully officiate in any part of that city without their consent. It is obvious, both from the terms-of the Canon, and from the reason of the thing, that if a Clergyman, of another place, desired to officiate in one of the two Parish Churches in New-Brunswick, the assent of the minister of that Church would be sufficient; but if he desired to officiate in some other place within the City of New-Brunswick, which was not one of the Parish Churches, nor an edifice especially appertaining to the charge of one of those ministers, but a place wholly unrecognised by this Church, then he must have the assent of both the ministers in that city. The Canon law of this Church is for the ministers and people of this Church, and has no relation whatever to the ministers and people of other religious bodies. To say that the literal, natural, and usual interpretation of the Canon in question, ascribing to the two ministers of this Church in New-Brunswick a jurisdiction over the whole of that city, for the purposes of the Canon, is to claim for them an absolute jurisdiction over all the people and over all the religious houses of that city, is to say something so flagrantly unreasonable and unfounded, that only persons who wish to be deceived, can be deceived by it. As well might we say that the Canon law of this Diocese, because it extends over all the territory of this Diocese, so far as the Clergy and parishes of this Church are concerned, must therefore be considered as applicable to all the ministers and people of other religious bodies within the geographical limits of this Diocese. Such a perversion of plain facts may possibly answer the purpose of an appeal to headlong popular prejudice and passion; but surely it is unworthy of consideration before an intelligent Board of Presbyters of this Church, engaged in the grave duty of inquiring into the law of this Church, and into the conduct of one of her ministers. The Canon in question is designed to prevent intrusion by one minister into the parochial cure of another. It is intended to prevent disturbance, from rivalry and conflict, and from the officiating of a strange Clergyman under circumstances calculated to give trouble to a peaceful minister, and to interfere with the quiet and order of his parish. We know from history that this was the design of the Canon in its present form, and that its later modifications were suggested by the rude action of a minister of this Church in another Diocese, who refused the invitation of the Parish Clergyman to officiate in his Parish Church, and persisted, in spite of his remonstrance, in going to officiate in a neighboring place of worship of another religious body.
But if this Canon, be designed to afford protection from intrusion and disturbance, how could it do so, if it allowed a minister of this Church to go into a city like New-Brunswick, and preach in any place he could find open to him, in spite of the protest of the two Rectors, and in spite also of the kindly warning of the Bishop, provided only he did not push violently into one of the Parochial Churches, nor into one of the houses of the recognised parishioners?
Suppose that a young clergyman, with the rashness so natural to youth and a fiery temper, and to narrow views of Christian truth, should determine in his own mind that the two ministers in New-Brunswick were not preaching the pure Gospel of Christ, and that it was his duty to go into that city, and regardless of fear or favor, to lift up the true standard of the Cross. Suppose he should betake himself to a Methodist Meeting-house in the near neighborhood of the two ministers of that city, for the purpose of using that edifice from time to time as a secure citadel from which ho might launch forth his burning arrows—send out his more than ambiguous words to destroy, if possible, the confidence of the people in their Pastor—to turn their heads with newfangled ideas of religion, to inflame their passions, and in time to stir up and organize a violent opposition against the peaceful, steady-going ministers of God's Church. Would such a thing be proper to be allowed? And knowing what we do of human nature, and of certain phases of religious opinion and character, could we give that Church credit for wisdom and foresight which provided no safeguard against such a peril—which did nothing in advance to check and restrain turbulent and heady tempers? If there were no such Canon in existence in this Church, it would be her duty to enact one with the least possible delay. So long as she should continue without it, she would be an exception to all the true branches of the one Catholic and Apostolic Church since the time of the Apostles. She would be leaving both her shepherds and her sheep exposed to wolves. And still further we may say, that if the Church had no Canon on this subject, or if it were really one of doubtful interpretation, it would yet be the duty of a minister of this Church to abstain from acts, which must needs be regarded as intrusive, disturbing and impertinent toward his brethren.
Had a clergyman of this Church a hundred times the amount of talent and energy usually found in any one man, he might yet expend all his talent and all his energy to the extremest bounds of his power, in recognised and lawful fields of effort and duty, without once violating any Canonical law, or over-passing any one limit of fraternal courtesy or Christian kindness.
The Apostle exhorts us to be "courteous," to "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others"—"to let nothing be done through strife or vainglory:"—and we may fully recognise any plea of zeal and self-devotion, and yet affirm that there is nothing in the Gospel which requires or encourages Christian ministers to be rude and intrusive toward each other. But, if we have a Canon which in the most express terms meets the peril just referred to, and provides a safeguard against it;—a Canon which has history, explicit phraseology and cogent reasons, all pointing to one obvious interpretation;—then what are we to think of the clamor with which that interpretation has been assailed? What are we to think of the Christian judgment arid temper of those who have chosen to denounce Bishops and Clergy, and all in both Dioceses connected with these proceedings:—proceedings entered upon with much reluctance, and simply to vindicate the law, and to maintain the needful discipline and order of the Church—what, we say, are we to think of those who denounce Bishops and Clergy, Complainers, Presenters and Triers, as if they cared nothing for the law and order of the Church; as if they had no conscience, no rectitude; and as if their one great object had been to persecute and humble an opponent? Such imputations in such a case, would be little creditable to the rude conflicts of a secular court. Coming from Clergymen they excited our special wonder. When the letter of the law, and the reason and necessity of the case supply a very obvious justification of the action of Christian men, the imputing of evil motives simply implies that prejudice and passion have blinded the judgment, if they have not done something still worse.
It is no doubt true, that offences against this Canon have sometimes been allowed to pass without notice.
Such offences may be committed through inadvertence and inconsideration, and form no part of a settled design or purpose. They may not be done in defiance of protest and warning; or they may occur at a time when the individual offending stands almost alone in his disposition to trifle with the settled law and order of the Church.
The law may have been thought difficult of application in a great city such as this, where Parish boundaries are almost obliterated, and where the effect of an irregular act, in disturbing the peace of neighboring Parishes, is almost lost in the vastness of the crowd of ministers, churches and people. In such cases, and in others like them, Presbyters may not have cared to complain, and the authorities of the Church may not have thought it necessary to interpose. But no one had any right to infer, from such omissions to complain or to prosecute, that the law was regarded as obsolete, or as virtually abrogated. There is abundant evidence that the law was not generally looked upon in the Church as a nullity; and that it was considered as intended to apply to precisely such cases as that which was complained of in New-Brunswick.
But if some irregularities may be borne with, and allowed to pass without notice in times when there is nothing like organized effort to break through the settled principles and usages of the Church, the case is altogether different when there is an avowed determination to ignore, or to change those principles and usages. Then it becomes the imperative duty of those who are charged with the care of the discipline of the Church, to see to it that her laws are respected. Then it becomes a grave question, whether the private fancies, the self-will and passion of a few individuals shall be allowed to overrule the principle and government of the Church, or whether that government shall be maintained, at whatever cost to the misguided individuals who seek to trouble it.
And if individuals suffer from these proceedings, or if the tranquillity of the Church is temporarily disturbed by them, who is responsible for the suffering or for the disturbance? Surely those who, by their violations of law and order, have made an appeal to formal tribunals necessary, and not those who have merely yielded and yielded reluctantly to the obligation forced upon them to take measures for the maintenance of the Church's order and discipline.
Were it not for the studied efforts which have been made to mislead the popular judgment, it would be quite unnecessary to remind you that you are not censured for preaching the Gospel; that you are not censured for preaching the Gospel in another religious edifice than one expressly devoted to the use of this Church. Had that edifice been in a remote rural district, far distant from any Clergyman or place of worship of this Church, and had you accepted an invitation to occupy the edifice for one or more services in order to afford the ministrations of the Church to that neighborhood, there would have been no law to condemn you for doing so, and no reason for complaining of you.
You are censured for intruding into the Parochial Cure of your brother Presbyters, in spite of their rightful protest, and contrary to the law of this Church.
It may be said that this is severe punishment to inflict, and that these, are troublesome proceedings to disturb the Church with, on account of so trifling an act as that of preaching in a Methodist Meeting-house, or on account of a single act of irregularity. That is a very superficial way of estimating the meaning and uses of punishment and discipline. You are arraigned and censured, not merely because of the inherent importance of that one act taken by itself, but you are arraigned and censured in order that acts of that kind may not become common in the Church, in order that her peace may not be permanently destroyed, her discipline overthrown, and her laws recklessly trampled under foot.
Such objects are important enough to justify severer measures, and more troublesome proceedings than even these have been, should they become necessary to maintain the government and order of the Church.
In the course of the discussions and appeals connected with this case, a great deal has been said about the unrestricted liberty of preaching the Gospel, and the imperative duty of preaching it under any and all circumstances. These are fine sounding words, which find a ready entrance into the ears of unthinking people. But, as often happens with such harangues, they have in them very little reason. In every state of society in which we may be placed, whether civil or ecclesiastical, we find ourselves abridged of some of our natural liberty. There can be no society without law and order, and if we would enjoy the blessings of the society, we must comply with its conditions,—we must conform to its rules. We cannot take refuge in our neighbor's house, nor sit down to refresh ourselves at his table without his permission. To appropriate to ourselves any thing in which he has acquired a property, is to expose ourselves to condemnation and punishment. If we become members of the Church of God, and much more, if we become its Ministers, we must conform to its truth, its order, its discipline. Our liberty is restrained. We are no longer independent thinkers, free to follow any wayward fancy of our own. We are not loft at liberty to preach any kind of doctrine which our narrow and partial minds may invent. The main parts of our duty in the priesthood are all plainly and precisely set forth for us, and we are required to keep within the limits prescribed to us. Under as solemn circumstances as any in which man can be placed in this world: that is, when we are before the altar, just previous to the imposition of hands for the holy priesthood, we make our vow, that "by the help of the Lord we will give our faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and Sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded and as this Church hath received the same."
"As the Church hath received the same!" We are tied up to that—we are not free! If we cannot teach her doctrine fairly and justly, as it is deduced from her formularies, and taught by her great divines, without false glosses and distorted interpretations of our own, then we are bound to renounce her ministry. And again; if we cannot submit to her law, in regard to the methods and limitations of our agency as her ministers; if we cannot preach where she ordains us to preach, and abstain from preaching where she forbids us to preach; (forbids, because even the preaching of the gospel may be turned by men's passions into disorder and sin,—may, under certain circumstances, become a breach of charity, and an offence against God;) if we cannot minister in a spirit of dutiful reverence and obedience, keeping far within the limits of law and order, " giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed," then better a thousand times would it be for us, and for the Church, that we should turn aside from the ministry of peace, and expend our energies upon the obscurest and lowliest mechanical craft. The fortunes of any individual or set of individuals, in any one age or country, are of trifling importance compared with the permanent order and well being of the great spiritual Body of Christ. How many glorious saints of God have made full proof of their faith and love and self-devotion, in every age of the Christian Church, and left their bright examples for the joy and consolation of the faithful in all after times. They shrank from no self-sacrifice; they braved every peril; they were mighty in their labors and often in their sufferings; but they found ample verge and room enough for their almost superhuman exertions, without violating any law of the Church, and without exalting themselves above that precept which enjoins us to be "courteous" toward our brethren, and indeed toward all men.
These observations, extended much further than would have been necessary, but for the efforts that have been made to confuse a very plain question of order and discipline, must now be brought to a conclusion. We have felt ourselves obliged to be distinct and emphatic, but we have had no wish to be severe. We have no feeling in our heart that would prompt us to be so. If there be any severity in appearance, it is the severity in which the Truth, in its application to particular individuals and cases, will sometimes, clothe itself. You will utterly mistake the whole character of these proceedings from beginning to end, the motive in which they originated, and the spirit in Which they have been conducted and concluded, if you attribute them to any unkind personal feeling, or to any sinister motive connected with theological opinion, or party conflict. Indeed, the judgment and temper which could ignore the plain facts and principles of this case, and ascribe all these measures to narrow personal or party passions, would be little to be envied. Should you find it consistent with your views and feelings, as we earnestly hope and pray you may, to prosecute your work in a spirit of loyalty to the principles, discipline and usages of the Church of which you are a minister, we, for our part, and we believe we speak the mind of the whole Church, would find only unmixed satisfaction in extending sympathy, encouragement and hearty commendation to every useful effort you might be enabled to make.
In regard to the future stability of our Branch of the Church—in all her great features—her doctrines, ministry, worship and discipline—we have the unspeakable comfort of resting in quiet in the fullest assurance.
The ephemeral excitements of to-day are forgotten to-morrow. The shortlived and feeble individuals who fancy that they are inaugurating great changes, if not great revolutions, quickly pass away, and the City of God is seen standing unharmed; every wall and bulwark and tower unmutilated; only rising and expanding, and extending herself with a strange miraculous growth; peopled with myriads of busy hearts and hands; animated with the working of lofty spirits; vocal with praise; bright with a Divine peace and joy; and becoming, beyond all human anticipation, a mighty power in the earth. For the Church we have no fear. She is safe under the care of her Lord, and in the strength of her great principles.
But for individuals, we are often moved with an anxious concern; how much eifort may be wasted, how much good may be marred, how much individual Christian peace may be ruined, how much character may be lost in passionate undertakings, which have a show of zeal and self-devotion, but which have a fatal defect as being misdirected and wrong in principle.
With a paternal interest and affection, which we have never ceased to feel for you since the day when we had the satisfaction of receiving you into the sacred ministry, we would express our hope, as we are very ready to intimate our trust, that your future career in your high and most holy calling will be blameless and harmless; bright and long continued in ever increasing usefulness and honor, full of the fruits of righteousness to the glory of God, and to the enlargement of His blessed kingdom on earth. Be assured that we shall ever be ready to sympathize with you in your trials, and to uphold you in every rightful endeavor to accomplish the work given you to do. Every feeling we have in our heart toward you will prompt us to rejoice when you rejoice—to weep with you when you weep. The all merciful Lord grant that your days of sorrow may be few—your days of joy and thankfulness may be many—very many.
And now the God of Peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the Blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight: through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.