OF THE DIOCESE OF ILLINOIS
STANFORD & SWORDS.
In delivering this DISCOURSE, several passages were omitted for want of time.
The following SERMON (kindly granted by its author) is published as a tribute of respect to its high Christian sentiment and peculiar adaptation to the wants of the Times, and as a Memorial of the occasion of its delivery--on the Consecration of their late esteemed Rector.
BY THE VESTRY
OF ST. THOMAS'S, NEW YORK
NEW YORK, Dec. 1851.
2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Four times does St Paul appear before us in the New Testament in the act of counselling those whose office it is to minister in holy things--once in a farewell charge from his own lips to the Elders or Presbyters of the church which he had planted at Ephesus, and thrice in Letters or Epistles which he addressed to individuals. Of these Epistles, two were addressed to his own son in the faith, his dearly-beloved, his work-fellow, Timothy, whom he had besought to abide at Ephesus, that he might oversee both its pastors and people. The third was directed to Titus, whom, in like manner, the Apostle had left at Crete that he might ordain elders in every city, and set in order things that were wanting. In the first of these charges, we learn what counsels and exhortations the clergy ought to receive from those who are over them in the Lord; and in the remainder, we are taught how even they may be addressed who are invested with the highest authority in Christ's Church. [5/6] Happy they who, in attempting to copy such models, are enabled to catch a portion of the Apostle's own spirit.--thrice happy they who can plead in fitting words, and with something of his own solemn and majestic pathos, the cause in which he gloried, and who can do it with the same inward witness that, in exhorting others, they are not condemning themselves.
The circumstances which surround us to-day, Brethren, how they stand contrasted with those that surrounded St. Paul when he indited the words of my text! He was then not only Paul the aged, he was Paul a prisoner of the Lord--i. e. for the Lord's sake. Nor was he a prisoner only--he was a prisoner at Rome, where the machinations of the tyrant Nero had inflamed the people almost to madness in their hatred of Christians. After fighting the battles of the faith for thirty years in a spirit the most magnanimous and with results the most grateful, he finds himself now, in the evening of his days, closely imprisoned and almost forsaken. His master's experience is become his own. Arraigned before the imperial tribunal, he stands alone. At my first answer, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. Still later, when his toil-worn but unblenching hand traced these his last lines only Luke was with him. Demas had forsaken him, having loved the present world, and was departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia; Titus unto Dalmatia. His hour of martyrdom draws on. He is now ready to be offered, and the time of his departure is at hand.
Not quite eighteen hundred years have since passed by. The Church of Christ; then planted in a few cities and struggling for life against relentless persecution, now [6/7] overspreads the fairest portions of the globe. Where civilization has done its best work; where industry is dispensing its richest rewards to the millions it employs; where laws are most equal and most equally administered; where science and letters, commerce and the arts, civility and charity most abound, there does the faith of the Crucified, in its purest forms, prevail. Here too, in this far-off land,--unknown to the wisest of the sages and the most ambitious of the heroes who lived when Paul lived, on a continent where neither the sun of civilization nor the sun of righteousness had then shone,--Christ is now owned. They who here profess and call themselves Christians, are numbered by tens of millions; and in their great commercial centre, with one eye on the old world, and the other on the opening and ever expanding new one, we meet to-day in Christ's name and in Christ's behalf. We come to set apart one, who, like Timothy and Titus, is to join with his ministry of the Word and Sacraments, that still more momentous ministry which involves the power of ordination and the power of government. The fifty-fourth of those who, on this Western Hemisphere, have received a like commission from the same source and through the same channel, he is to exercise his apostleship in a distant Diocese and in conjunction with one, who, like venerable Paul, feels that the time of his departure is at hand. As far as Rome was from Ephesus, so far is the scene of this high solemnity from that in which our brother beloved is to labor, and laboring is to earn his reward. We have gathered here this morning to bid him God speed, and to join with our benedictions a few hasty words of counsel and admonition. [7/8] Would that he were present, [* Bishop Chase, of Illinois] whose heart yearns so warmly towards his future work-fellow, and who from the fulness of his watchful care and foresight, from the abundance of his love towards the flock, could speak in more fitting words. As it is, I can but strive to reproduce the counsels of St. Paul. Though dead, he yet speaketh; and our wisdom at a time like this, surely lies in teaching even as he taught. And since we can hardly fail to feel that, though bloodthirsty foes no longer track the church; though Christians have risen from the place of a despised sect everywhere spoken against to be the arbiters of the world's destiny; though smiles now greet the Rulers of the Christian fold, as they take their official rounds, still we must feel that there are dangers impending--dangers to ourselves--dangers to those over whom we are placed as overseers. Let us, therefore, listen to the apostle; let us imagine him present even here and now, while in his words and in the name of the Church he loved and served, we charge our brother before God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, to preach the Word; to be instant in season and out of season; to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Something we would say--first, of the duties which devolve on the Episcopate always; and secondly, something of those which pertain to it more especially in our own time and land.
I. Something of those duties which devolve on the Episcopate always.
 1. First among these in order, and second to none in real dignity and importance, is the duty of ministering in the Word and Sacraments. Preach the Word, says the Apostle; be instant in season, out of season; reprove [or repel false teachers], rebuke [evil livers], exhort with all long-suffering [though they seem to heed thee not,] and with all doctrine [* Whitby's Paraphrase] [as need shall require or occasion shall be given.]
In no way is the church of Christ more distinguished from that which went before it, in the order of divine appointment, than in the pre-eminence which it assigns to teaching. As in Pagan religions, the ministering Priest was rarely, if ever, an instructor of the people, so in that which God himself established through Moses, rite and ceremony, sacrifice and oblation, were the main, and through a large part of its history, the sole care of those who bore the sacerdotal office. It was reserved for the Christian dispensation to recognise the paramount value of truth as an instrument in the Divine band for awakening men from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, and for sealing them over to the obedience of faith. The dispensation of Sacraments and ministrations of praise and prayer, became thenceforth joined with what, if we may judge from the precepts or the example of Christ and his Apostles, is now to be counted a yet higher work. Do we go abroad as heralds of Christ's gospel, and ministering servants of his Church? Is it not because we would comply with his last command to his disciples, and through them to all who bear his name--[9/10] Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: and when in obedience to this commission, we minister in the sanctuary, or go breaking the bread of life from house to house, or scatter the good seed among those who are in the highways and by-paths, neglected of men and forsaken of God--in each of these cases, by what means are we to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God? Is it not, according to St. Paul, by manifestation of the truth? How are we to be unworthy instruments of salvation to them that believe? Is it not by the foolishness of preaching? How cause them to be born again--not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible--is it not by the Word of God? How build them up and give them an inheritance among them that are sanctified? Is it not by the Word of His grace? Or, in fine, how enable them at last to come off conquerors and more than conquerors?---is it not through the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? Sacraments--alms-deeds--devotions--these are great and blessed parts of our ministering service; but greater still is the office we sustain, when, as Ambassadors of God, we entreat men to become reconciled to Him; when before saint and sinner, we unfold the infinite riches of His grace in Christ Jesus.
Brethren, let us thank our Master, that it is our privilege to serve in a teaching church--in one that bids us go before the people, not with sealed instructions, but with credentials, and a mission as open as day. Let us adore His wisdom and His goodness, too, that where we minister, we are bound to give attendance to reading--that we are not permitted to speak our own words, [10/11] however they may be words of soberness and truth, till first we have recited in the presence of all who hear us, two portions of inspired teaching--one from the Old Testament, the other from the New; that we are commended to the Bereans' as a noble example, because they searched the Scriptures daily, that thus they might estimate the value and justness even of Apostolic teaching; and that we are emboldened to hope that unworthy as we are of such a trust, it shall be ours to speak with saving effect even in demonstration of the spirit and of power to the souls of men, if we only speak the truth as it is in Christ.
Never, then, be this ordinance of reading and preaching God's Word neglected or disparaged. Especially now, when on every hand the intellect of men is assailed by natural truth, let the full radiance of that which is supernatural descend upon them. Now that books are so multiplied; now that schools make reading and thinking all but universal; now, when on every other subject, it is deemed praiseworthy that we are ready to give a reason for our convictions, and a warrant for our hopes;--is this, Brethren, a time, when we who serve at His Altar who is the Light that would enlighten every man that cometh into the world,--is this a time when it becomes us, or is safe for our cause, to require of men that they forego their reason; that they receive dogmas which relate to their highest and most enduring welfare, merely on our authority, or in deference to our wishes? Modesty and ingenuous self-distrust, we are always to cultivate ourselves, we are always and earnestly to enjoin on others; but the right and duty of considering well the grounds of our faith, [11/12] are points not less sacred and important. It is a right which we can never waive; it is a duty which we can never cast behind us without being recreant to the first principles of our Reformed Faith, without proving ourselves unworthy heirs of that glorious inheritance which our fathers bought even with their blood.
2. Again: The teachings of a Christian Bishop should always be enforced by his life and example.
The ark of God is rarely in such danger, as when unworthy hands are stretched forth to uphold it. Men are not often so tempted to distrust Christianity and renounce its control, as when those among its officers who are foremost in dignity, are foremost also in pride and worldliness of temper. When, on the other hand, like St. Paul, we can call all men to witness that we are pure from their blood; that we have kept back nothing that was profitable for them, but have taught them publicly and from house to house; when we can challenge their testimony to our disinterested and self sacrificing zeal--that we have coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel; that our own hands have ministered to our necessities, and to them that were with us; and that thus we have recommended to them by our example, the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, "it is more blessed to give than to receive,"--he who thus follows Paul, even as Paul followed Christ, will win a sublime power over the hearts and consciences of men. Hence the solemnity and urgency with which the Apostle presses this duty upon Timothy and Titus. To him who presided over the church of the Ephesians, he says: Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit (or spirituality), in faith, in purity. [12/13] Thou, 0 man of God, flee these things, i. e. covetousness; follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness--fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. To him whom he had left in Crete, he says: Shew thyself in all things a pattern of good works, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Still more explicitly (though indirectly), does St. Paul enjoin on Bishops this duty of being ensamples to the flock, when he describes on whom alone they should lay hands; when he sketches that ideal towards which every candidate for Holy Orders, and every minister, even of the lowest grade, should aspire. Is it of Deacons that the Apostle writes, he declares (and if of them, how much more of Bishops), that they should not be covetous, not greedy of filthy lucre; not given to much wine; not double-tongued. Would he represent what they should be, he says, Deacons must be blameless; and if Deacons, how much more they who sustain the highest place in the Sacred Hierarchy? Deacons, again, must be grave; must rule their children and their own houses well; must hold the mystery of the faith in a good conscience. And so of Elders, or, as in the language of our day and Church, we should term them, Presbyters. They, are to be no brawlers; how much less those who are over them in the Lord They are not to be greedy of gain; they are not to be given to wine; they are not to be accused of riot; not unruly; no novices; not self-willed; not soon angry: On the other hand, what in St, Paul's estimation should Presbyters strive to be in all godly conversation? They, and since the inferior orders subsist in the superior, [13/14] Bishops must be under at least equal obligations: they must be vigilant; sober; patient; just; holy; temperate; blameless; lovers of hospitality; lovers of good men--ruling well their own houses; apt to teach--having a good report of them that are without.
Sad will it be for the church when these moral qualifications are not exacted of our ministry more stringently than we exact even talent or learning; and still more sad and ominous of ill will be the day, when it shall be thought that our appointed rulers and constituted heads are not under an obligation to cultivate such virtues--more solemn and more binding than any which can rest on Presbyters or Deacons. "It cannot be denied," says Lord Bacon, when writing of the Controversies of the Church, "but that the imperfections in the conversation and government of those who have chief place in the church, have ever been principal causes and motives of schisms and divisions. For whilst the Bishops and governors of the church continue full of knowledge and good works; whilst they feed the flock indeed; whilst they deal with secular states in all liberty and resolution, according to the majesty of their calling and the precious care of souls imposed upon them, so long the church is situated as it were upon a hill--no man maketh question of it, or seeketh to depart from it; but when these virtues in the fathers and leaders of the church have lost their light, and that they wax worldly, lovers of themselves and pleasers of men, then men begin to grope for the church as in the dark. They are in doubt whether they are successors of the Apostles or of the Pharisees. Yea, however they sit in Moses' seat, they can never [14/15] speak as having authority, because they have lost their reputation in the consciences of men by declining their steps from the way which they trace out to others, so as men had need continually have sounding in their ears this same 'go not out,' so ready are they to depart from the church upon every voice; and therefore it is truly noted by one, who did write as a natural man, that the humility of the friars did for a great time maintain and bear out the irreligion of Bishops and prelates."
3. Thus far, we have spoken of duties which pertain both to Presbyters and Bishops, but which devolve on the latter with greater weight of obligation, inasmuch as they are charged with more of dignity and authority. I come now to say one word of duties which are peculiar to the Episcopate, and which the Apostle designates in language like this: Commit that which thou hast heard to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Lay hands suddenly on no man, lest thou be partaker of other men's sins. Charge them, i e. Elders, that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies and contentions and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. Against an elder, receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others may fear; not preferring one before the other, doing nothing by partiality. Count them worthy of double honor who rule well, especially they who labor in word and doctrine. These passages recognise all the duties which are peculiar to the Episcopal office,--the power of ordination in respect to the clergy, and powers of discipline and supervision in respect to both clergy and people.
 In proportion as the welfare of the church depends on the number and qualifications of its clergy, in the same proportion does the training of candidates for the ministry, their consecration to the sacred office, and their subsequent direction, become one of the most momentous of a Bishop's duties. This duty, enjoined by Scripture, is still more circumstantially defined in ancient Canons and in the legislation of our own and our mother church. And never, my friends, was the duty more urgent than now. The restless activity which now possesses the minds of men; the celerity with which public opinion forms itself, and the unexampled power with which it acts in every scene and relation of life, require that ministers of the sanctuary should be multiplied, and that they should be men of robust minds and unspotted virtue. In our own land, the amazing progress of our native population; the vast influx of those reared under other institutions; the constant expansion of our enterprise and industry; the ever growing extent of our territory, make this demand yet more pressing and imperative. What must befall the faith and order of a church which has no ministry able to cope with the emergencies of our position, and how can such a ministry be hoped for, unless the Bishops and Fathers of the church are bent through prayers and pains in Christ upon obtaining it? Do we not suffer greatly for want of more laborers to reap fields, whitening to the harvest? Do we not suffer still more for want of laborers who can endure hardness--who combine the requisite force and fortitude with prudence; with sagacity; with humble faith in God? Oh, then, for prayers to the Lord of the harvest, that He [16/17] would send forth laborers into His harvest! Oh, for diligence and discrimination on the part of pastors in seeking out and inclining towards the ministry those whom nature and grace seem to have rendered meet for it. And, Oh, that we who have been charged with the duty of "ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon others," might be stirred up to greater diligence in so momentous a work! "We are not only watchmen (says another), to watch over the flock, but likewise over the watchmen themselves. We keep the door of the sanctuary, and will have much to answer for, if through our remissness or feeble easiness--if by trusting the examination of those we ordain to others, and yielding to intercession and importunity, we bring any into the service of the church who are not duly qualified for it. In this, we must harden ourselves and become inexorable, if we will not partake in other men's sins, and in the mischiefs that these may bring upon the church. It is a false pity, and a cruel compassion, if we suffer any considerations to prevail upon us in this matter, but those which the Gospel directs. The longer that we know them before we ordain them; the more that we sift them; and the greater variety of trials through which we may make them pass, we do, thereby, both secure the quiet of our own consciences the more, as well as the dignity of holy things and the true interest of religion and the church: for these two interests must never be separated; they are but one and the same in themselves; and what God has joined together, we must never set asunder.
"We must be setting constantly before our clergy their obligations to the several parts of their duty; we must [17/18] lay these upon them when we institute or collate them to churches in the solemnest manner, and with the weightiest words we can find. We must then lay the importance of the care of souls before them, and adjure them, as they will answer to God in the great day, in which we must appear to witness against them, that they will seriously consider and observe their ordination vows, and that they will apply themselves wholly to that one thing. We must keep an eye upon them continually, and be applying reproofs, exhortations, and encouragements, as occasion offers; we must enter into all their concerns, and espouse every interest of that part of the church that is assigned to their care; we must see them as oft as we can, and encourage them to come frequently to us, and must live in all things with them as a father with his children. And that everything we say to stir them up to their duty may have its due weight, we must take care so to order ourselves, that they may evidently see that we are careful to do our own. We must enter into all the parts of the worship of God with them; not thinking ourselves too good for any piece of service that may be done; visiting the sick, admitting poor and indigent persons, or such as are troubled in mind, to come to us; preaching oft, catechising, and confirming frequently; and living in all things like men that study to fulfil their ministry, and to do the work of evangelists.
"There has been of late an opinion much favored by some great men in our church, that the Bishop is the sole pastor of his diocese; that the care of all the souls is singly in him, and that all the incumbents in churches [18/19] are only his curates in the different parts of his parish (which was the ancient designation of his diocese). I know there are a great many passages brought from antiquity to favor this: I will not enter into the question--No! not so far as to give my own opinion of it. This is certain, that such as are persuaded of it, ought thereby to consider themselves as under very great and strict obligations to constant labor and diligence; otherwise it will be thought that they only favor this opinion because it increases their authority without considering that necessary consequence that follows upon it.
"But I will go no further upon this subject at this time, having said so much only that I may not fall under that heavy censure of our Saviour's with relation to the Scribes and Pharisees, that they did bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, upon others; and laid them upon men's shoulders, when they themselves would not move them with one of their fingers. I must leave the whole matter with my readers. I have now laid together with great simplicity, what has been the chief subject of my thoughts for above 30 years. I was formed to them by a Bishop [*Archbishop Leighton] that had the greatest elevation of soul; the largest compass of knowledge; the most mortified and most heavenly disposition, that I ever yet saw in mortal; that had the greatest parts, as well as virtues, with the perfectest humility, that I ever saw in man; and had a sublime strain in preaching, with so grave a gesture, and such a majesty of thought and language, and of pronunciation, that I never once saw a [19/20] wandering eye where he preached, and have seen whole assemblies often melt into tears before him; and of whom I can say with great truth, that in a free and frequent conversation with him, for above two and twenty years, I never knew him say an idle word (that had not a direct tendency to edification); and I never once saw him in any other temper, but that which I wished to be in, in the last minutes of my life. For that pattern which I saw in him, and for that conversation which I had with him, I know how much I have to answer to God; and though my reflecting on that which I knew in him, gives me just cause of being deeply humbled in myself, and before God; yet I feel no more sensible pleasure in anything, than in going over in my thoughts all that I saw and observed in him." [* Bennett's (sic) Pastoral Care]
II. We have thus spoken of duties which pertain to the office of a Bishop, everywhere and through all time. I come now, to speak of those which seem to be imposed by the condition in which we are placed by the providence of God in this country. Time will not permit me to enlarge upon this topic as I would; but there are four qualities, which ought, as it seems to me, to distinguish our clergy of every grade, but which they ought to possess in a pre-eminent degree, who are overseers of the flock.
The first of these is earnestness of mind. If ever there was an age, or a land, where the Christian church needed not drones, but workers,--not idle dreamers, but stern and enthusiastic doers of the word, it is surely here [20/21] and now. Inquiry--action--progress, are the watchwords of our day. What revolutions have not the last fifty years achieved in the science, philosophy, the material condition of all Christian and civilized nations? What vicissitudes still more stupendous and eventful, have not transpired in the social and political condition of those who dwell on this newly found continent? Everywhere around us, the human mind is astir. Opinions, the most conflicting, ferment and strive for mastery. Questions long thought to be settled are re-opened, and debated with intense eagerness. Freest scope is afforded for discussion and action in every sphere, and all under the influence of hopes and anticipations more brilliant and aspiring, than have moved the world for ages. The time seems now to have come, when the honors of the world wait upon the workers of the world--upon those who are indeed workers; who tax their noblest powers to reach the truth and to apprehend aright their duty, and who then summon all their energies to "fulfil the same."
Who can look over the present and the impending future of this continent, and not feel at his heart the spirit-stirring call to rise and show himself a man? Who can look at the clear mission of our own church, and not own that the next twenty years are to decide its position and its influence, for generations to come--especially its position amidst the valleys and prairies of the West? And even here, in our Atlantic states, has she not a momentous duty assigned to her? Through literature, she is to leaven many a leading mind. Through her ministrations, she is to form many an [21/22] individual and family of wealth and refinement, to the service of error, or to the honor and obedience of the truth. She is to leave educated and cultivated multitudes in the slumbers of a torpid dreamy faith, or she is to rouse them to do valiantly for God. She is to teach the rich their fearful obligation to God's poor, and to the gospel of Christ, and to every good word and work; or she is to consign them over to a still more insane and reckless pursuit of the world's baubles. She is to put on her robes of mercy, and go forth to the outcast multitudes, who, even here, in this Christian city, are living as much without God, and as far estranged from sabbath and sanctuary, as though they dwelt in Pagan darkness; or she is to take to her soul the flattering unction, that she was not sent forth to preach the Gospel to every creature, but only in ears polite, to audiences on cushioned seats, in gorgeous temples, beneath imposing spectacles of art. Brethren, look forth over the hundreds of thousands of immortal beings who are around you, who are hastening to the bar of God; hastening to make report, to Him who is their Lord and our Lord; not of themselves alone, but of us too, and think for how many of them no sabbath sun arises, no house of prayer is opened. Think of the immigrants, who each week touch for the first time your shores with no man to care for their souls, with little but the sense of utter loneliness, and the fear lest they perish for lack of food. Think who it is that compose our Christian congregations. Women and children are there! But where are the men? Where are those who guide the commerce and ply the trades, and practise the liberal professions, and move and [22/23] control the great heart of this community? How small a proportion of our young men--those who even now wield a vast influence, and who, a few years hence, are to direct the most momentous of your material and social interests, are gathered on the Lord's day to hear the teachings of the Lord's house! And then, when we come within that house, what do we find? Is it elevation of faith, such as becomes those who call themselves Christians? Is it sublime abstraction from the cares and perplexities of life? Is it a simple, whole-hearted purpose to do all the will of God, and have within us the mind of Christ? Is it a devotion that ascends from hearts full of love for all goodness, and righteousness, and truth?--which breathes alike glory to God in the highest, and good will towards all conditions and estates of men? Know we not, Brethren, that churches may rise; that splendid ornaments may deck their walls or chancels; that sea and land may be compassed to make one proselyte; that multitudes may crowd towards the sacred mysteries of our religion; that at the impulse of mere earth-born zeal, ease and property may be sacrificed, and even our bodies given to be bound, and yet true charity be so wanting that all shall be as sounding brass, and as tinkling cymbal?
Here, then, is the state of things by which we are all surrounded; and who will not say that it calls for earnest and heroic treatment? We want not the fitful fires which flash up with a momentary zeal. We need the steady, high-hearted enthusiasm which can breast itself against neglect of scorn; which can brook long delays, and stand undismayed, even though the people rage, or the [23/24] kings of the earth imagine a vain thing. We need the fervor and constancy of soul, which can be sustained by nothing but a simple trust in God, and a simple looking towards the recompense of our final reward. It must have root in prayer. It must be fed by manly and persevering studies. It must gather power by wrestling with the perverseness of men, and the obstructions of nature and Providence. "It must be no fugitive and cloistered virtue [* Milton] unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and seeks her adversary, but slinks out of the race, when that immortal garland is to be run for not without dust and heat." "In this theatre of man's life," says Bacon, "it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on." It is our part, not to say, "Be ye warned, and be ye fed, while we give them not those things which are needful." It is ours to do our diligence to give to all who need, whether their lack be of meat that perishes, or of that which endureth; whether it have respect to disease of body, or to plague-spot upon the heart; whether it be knowledge that lights our pathway through life, or that which gilds with the sunshine of a blessed hope our last departing hour. Oh, then, for Pastors and Bishops of the flock who shall be instant in season and out of season; who, with all long-suffering, and yet with all authority, shall reprove, rebuke, exhort; who shall do this, to use the words of Chrysostom, "not only when they are in the church, but also in their house; not only in times of peace and safety, but also [24/25] when they are in prison; not only when in time of health, but even when they are about to die."
2. But if earnest, so also they should be sober-minded. In whatever proportion activity becomes intense and general, in the same proportion it needs to be thoughtful and forecasting. If we would have our earnestness tell for the welfare of mankind, and the lasting honor of the church, we must surely not forget that there is but a step between true earnestness and the aberrations of a morbid enthusiasm, or the fires of a senseless fanaticism. When imagination and passion are greatly exalted, then men are always in danger of misconceiving the true ends of effort, and still more in danger of overlooking its appropriate means and conditions. It is with difficulty they can then wait on the tardy movements of Providence, or press calmly on, cheered by no shouts of applause, exasperated by no cries of opposition. It is at such seasons that expedients abound in the religious as in the active world, which must be spurious, because they are easy and compendious; which must be unpleasing to God because, in derogation of all his plans, they would buy us blessings without the appointed price. Patience, prayer, and humble constant effort, Brethren, are the conditions without which no great or lasting good can be achieved for ourselves or for others. If to them we add the wisdom that foresees, and the prudence that provides for every emergency; if reason, self-possessed and looking before and after with large discourse, hold the helm; if conscience, clear-eyed and serene in her sovereignty, preside over the way; if imagination is invoked only to raise the actual into a fairer and more benignant ideal, [25/26] and the heart, inflamed with generous desire, urge us to bring that ideal down to men's business and bosoms that it may gradually mould them to its own shape--that so our hearths may reflect a holier charity, and our neighborhoods be filled with more of peace and good will, and our land abound yet more and more with all righteousness and truth--in such case, need I say, that action, the most earnest and fervid, will be fraught with blessing. To all, then, we would, in this age and country, address the counsel given by the great English moralist:
"Pour forth thy fervors for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions and a will resigned;
For love which scarce collective man can fill;
For patience sovereign o'er transmuted ill;
For faith, that panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind nature's signal for retreat,
These goods for man, the laws of Heaven ordain;
These goods he grants who grants the power to gain.
With these, celestial Wisdom calms the mind,
And makes the happiness she does not find."
But if this soberness of mind be needed by all, yet more is it needed by those who have the care and oversight of Christ's flock. Everything around them calls for wisdom and circumspection--for the calm spirit of Him who made it his meat and drink to do his Father's will, but who vented his burning zeal in no transports of excitement. We stand between the past with its mournful but instructive vicissitudes, and the future which seems big with unknown and eventful revolutions. We behold the world bent on change, and intoxicated with visions of a day which shall be brighter and better than any that has passed. We see the church of our [26/27] fatherland convulsed even to its centre, through the struggle of principles which must learn to dwell together and be at peace, unless the world is to be given over on the one side to the wildest anarchy, or on the other, to the most unmitigated despotism and superstition. The same awful and momentous conflict, we see waging throughout the states of Europe, and not a stranger in our own. And when, in the attempt to meet our duty, we summon the church to gird herself for some glorious work of piety or benevolence, what opposing tastes and tendencies do we not encounter? What contradictory theories? On the one hand, what professed scorn for all that characterizes the present, and what undistinguishing reverence for the usages and doctrines of the past? On the other hand, what blind submission to the spirit of the age, and what profound faith in that which styles itself the destiny of our Republic? Here, a theory of education which would denounce all change in the methods or instruments of culture, and there a theory which would explode the well-tried systems of our predecessors, and put out boldly without chart or compass on the sea of experiment. Here, a scheme of pastoral care and religious training, which rests its whole hope on the renewal of catechetical instruction, or on the practical recognition of the sacraments as the all but exclusive means of grace; there a scheme which holds as stale and unprofitable every method of spiritual culture, which does not begin and end with dogmatic teaching, or with the machinery of associated effort. Here, principles for the regulation of Christian beneficence which would merge all consideration of means in one agonizing effort to reach the end; there, principles which [27/28] condemn all charity that presumes to scrutinize some of the sorest ills that flesh is heir to, which will tolerate nothing that can move deeply the sensibilities or disturb the interests of classes, and which is almost tempted to maintain that whatever is, is right.
Surely, he needs sobriety of mind who would himself steer, or who would conduct those who have a right to claim guidance at his hands, through such a sea of storm and quicksands; who would hold fast all that is good in the past, and yet be thankful for every boon which the present can bestow; who cannot vote as obsolete the wisdom of the ancients, or as impertinent the discoveries of the moderns; who does not think that the education of the child, nor the moral and spiritual improvement of the man, nor the advancement of society in happiness and virtue, is to be secured by any mere systems, however just or comprehensive; whose faith rests at once on the good providence of God, and on the unfailing wellspring of intelligent conscientious activity, which the Creator planted deep in each human soul; and who holds that the grand desideratum, in all these spheres of Christian beneficence, is that the rock in the wilderness,--the torpid intellect; the yet awakened, undeveloped heart; the uneducated conscience, be so struck by a skilful and faithful hand, and by God's grace, that the streams of voluntary self-directed effort shall break forth, and what before was desert, shall begin to bloom and blossom with a freshness and beauty of its own creation. It is not what we do for the child, or for the man, that is to bless them permanently and effectually; it is rather what we move and assist them to do for themselves.
3.  But I hasten to another point. As they who are charged with the highest authority in the church should be earnest, and yet sober men, so in the third place, they should be men of large minds. They should be large-minded in respect to things secular, as well as in respect to those which are sacred. They should, for instance, be able to discern, and not unwilling to appreciate, the part which, other agencies, besides those of the church, are bearing in the great work of forming a nation's mind and heart. Science--Philosophy--Letters--here are powers in the movements of our age, and they are powers which ought to be actively engaged in the service of Christ and his gospel. To recognise in each then, as it now manifests itself, its proper merits and defects; to accept from each, gladly and thankfully, whatever help it can afford, in moving our race forward towards a higher state, and to war boldly yet discreetly against whatever in each arrays itself against the integrity of the faith, or the welfare of society--this, surely, is the duty of all who would be wise in winning souls.
Do we look, then, towards Science? This claims to be the interpreter of that great Book in which God has drawn clear traces of his eternal power and majesty; in which he has engraven memorials of the physical history of our globe, and on every page of which the devout and thoughtful mind can find fresh occasion for gratitude and adoration. It is a book whose scroll is yet but partially unrolled, and in which many characters are found that no human sagacity has been able to decypher. We may not wonder then, if its students, like those who pore over another holier volume, sometimes mistake as [29/30] divine their own crude or presumptuous conjectures. The teachings of that Book, when once they come to be read aright will be found to blend harmoniously with the real teachings of the Book of grace, and all will tell of the moral as well as natural perfections of a personal God; of One who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever; who is glorious in his holiness, and yet a Father, full of compassion to the children of men. To Science, we owe unmeasured and immeasurable thanks, for the material and moral blessings which it has shed on mankind through its alliance with industry. To Science we owe gratitude also, because it is gradually training us to juster notions of criticism and interpretation in respect to the Bible. But we must guard against its tendency to divorce itself from a simple faith in God. We must watch lest a base counterfeit (Science falsely so called) intrude into its seat; and we must be suspicious of all its oracles, when they so set forth laws as to obscure our perception of the great Law-maker; when they so expound the material mechanism of the universe as to dispense with the providence of God, or treat as fabulous the notion of miraculous intervention.
Do we look, again, towards Philosophy? If we see much in its present state to regret, the Christian minister may find in it also much to commend. Compared with its condition fifty years since, it is more spiritual and more comprehensive. It discerns more clearly the existence and supremacy of that in man which is immaterial, self-conscious, self-determined; it recognises more decidedly and cordially the interior moral force which is the glory of our nature, and treats us less as if we [30/31] were the unresisting recipients, or the mere aggregate results of outward forces. It has extended its researches to every part of our nature. It has ascended from the seen to the unseen world of truths and ideas. It has descended again to the mysterious links that unite together so closely our bodies and our souls. It has inquired how matter is working with mind in the development of our highest and holiest powers, and it has urged the necessity of reaching continually towards notions of the Eternal and Absolute--notions, which, though they sometimes resolve themselves into pantheistic conceptions, are still preparatory to a juster theism than was commonly accepted among the wits and philosophers of the last age.
These are grounds for thankfulness; but there are others, alas! which can occasion only grief and alarm. It is not to be doubted that a subtle scepticism has been engendered by these studies now--as will always be the case, when they are not pursued in the fear of God, and are not continually submitted to searching practical tests. This scepticism spares neither the records of Revelation nor the conclusions of Natural Theology; and whether it take the form of a positive or of a high metaphysical philosophy, it is destined, no doubt, to make frightful havoc among many gifted but misguided minds. The disease is deplorable; but he needs a skillful and a tender hand, who would eradicate it; and great will be the debt--incalculable the blessing, which they will confer on Christendom, who shall qualify themselves to deal with it in all its disguises, and who shall conduct its [31/32] blinded, but often sincere votaries, to the rock of a child-like Christian faith.
In fine, do we turn to our Literature? It is wielding a mighty power alike over the many and over the few. It penetrates everywhere under the guidance of the press, and of popular education; and it speaks with a directness and force which have rarely been surpassed. It deals too with the most momentous social and political problems, and discusses them often with a reckless and ignorant audacity. Let us at the same time acknowledge that, in its better forms, it breathes a spirit of more genial humanity, and manifests a truer reverence for the moral and spiritual capabilities of our race than it once did. Even its poetry and fiction now plead for social amelioration. Its daily labors send light into the dark places of crime and immorality, and it causes its voice to be heard as it cries aloud in behalf of the poor and down trodden. Would that we could see in it a due appreciation of the origin and causes of those ills under which mankind still groan. Would that it dealt more wisely and anxiously with the reconstruction of institutions on which it draws a displeasure that may prove simply destructive; that it probed with searching hand the great spiritual disease that affects our whole race; and that it saw with earnest heart and taught with impressive power, the utter insufficiency of all social palliatives and all political reforms, which do not include as their ground and ultimate aim, repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be it ours, Brethren, as God may give us strength to [32/33] supply this great and essential defect. For all that Literature is doing to subserve human progress, let us be thankful. Let us emulate the comprehensive and severe scrutiny with which it explores the hardships that press on those who are not blessed with property or educations and let us resolve that it shall not be our fault if the light and consolations of the Gospel do not find entrance where the press thus leads the way. We are ambassadors of Him who, when full of the Holy Ghost, went forth to encounter Satan and triumphed over him gloriously. We are His ambassadors who, returning from that memorable victory, went down, as we are told, in the spirit into Galilee, and, entering into a synagogue, selected for comment this passage: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, BECAUSE he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor; to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison doors unto them that are bound." Where the anointing of the Spirit is, in its proper life and energy, there, brethren beloved, will ministrations to the poor and afflicted of this world be reckoned among the highest of honors as well as duties.
And if we are to deal in this enlarged spirit with other studies, how much more with our own. Theology is now vibrating between the past and present--between theories which would abnegate the sense of personal responsibility and the right of private judgment, and theories which put the intuitions or reasonings of the individual not only before the authority of the church, but even before the letter and plain sense of Scripture. Between these opposite and distant errors, lies a vast [33/34] variety of opinions, which in an active and earnest age must all conduce, somewhat, to strife. Does it not become the fathers of the church, however, while they hold fast the doctrine which is according to godliness, while they cling to all that seems accordant with Scripture and time-hallowed usage, still to do it with such meekness and moderation, that they shall lead others to imitate their example? A large-minded theologian cannot look on the limitation of human faculties and on their extreme fallibility, without perceiving that in religion, as elsewhere, diversities of opinion are unavoidable, and he will feel that the discussion of such diversities is neither to be prevented nor condemned. He will see that controversies which, in times of persecution, respect the very existence of the faith, will in more peaceful days turn on the interpretation of it, and he will hope that their blasts may contribute to sift and winnow men's opinions. He will always distinguish, however, mere strifes about words, from those which involve great and sacred principles, and he will be as impatient of the one as he is tolerant towards the other. He will be anxious that all Christians act on the Apostolic maxim, be swift to hear, slow to speak--inasmuch as readiness to listen, and indisposition to reply, will often serve of themselves to close the most angry debates. He will, above all, desire that all parties be slow to wrath; that each disputant suppress its first risings in his own breast, and carefully shun whatever in word or deed would be likely to arouse it in others; that, while he contends earnestly for the faith, it shall never be with bitter invective nor with licentious wit. On his own part, and on the part of [34/35] those with whom he acts, he will be ready to amend whatever is justly obnoxious to censure, and when he sees in others that which he cannot but condemn, he will beware lest his aversion carry him to some opposite and not less pernicious extreme. He will strive to discover that residuum of good which can generally be found in the most erroneous opinions, and he will use this as a means for winning them back to a more excellent way. And, finally, when they who have erred and gone astray, whether in doctrine or practice, shall appear to relent, he will welcome the first sign of misgiving, and will hasten forth to meet the returning prodigal--imposing no humiliating conditions, nor exacting that in form which may cheerfully be yielded in substance. Are these, Brethren, principles which commend themselves at once to our reason and our hearts? Is their soothing influence needed greatly among us at this time? Be it ours, then, to contribute, as we may, to their diffusion. Be it ours to cultivate in our own minds, and to impress on others, larger views of theology as a science, and juster conceptions of the constitution and economy of the mind of man. Let us not indulge the thought that true unity is inconsistent with all differences of opinion and all diversities of practice; and above all let us have done with the unjust and ungenerous supposition, that he only dissents from our views who is weak in understanding or wicked at heart.
4. In the fourth and last place, we need Bishops who have large hearts--expansive and active sympathies. Manifold causes are now at work to bring us into closer relations with those of our own kind throughout the [35/36] world. The moral and physical condition of all sorts of men is opening more and more to view and we are pressed importunately to consider their claims, especially, who are poor or degraded. Philanthropy is busy; and though not always wise in counsel, nor lowly of spirit, nor reverent of right, she still warms with a generous wish to ameliorate the condition of mankind. Ancient and powerful kingdoms, too, exhibit portentous signs of impending revolution, which prove that there is evil abroad--evil in that against which the many so war--evil too in the temper and means with which the warfare is waged. At such a time, the church is false to herself and to her most sacred trust, if she does not show that she is alive to the claims and interests of all. The interests of education; the interests of labor; the rights and interests of property; liberty for the oppressed; elevation for those cast down; spiritual regeneration for all men,--none of these should be forgotten or treated lightly. The rich should not be abandoned as hopeless, nor should the poor be sent for sympathy and guidance to those who fear not God nor regard man. If it be the reproach of too many efforts to raise the fallen and emancipate the imprisoned, that they are allied with infidelity, let that reproach be regarded as one that belongs, in some degree at least, to those whose part it is to see that the lost and despairing never are given over to the tender mercies of the wicked. Christianity is a religion of love and good works--a gospel of promise, above all, to the suffering and sorrowing. For the just rights of all, she enjoins the most sacred respect. In behalf of established authority, she claims obedience; [36/37] but her eye of compassion seeks not out first Scribes and Pharisees and principal men. She goes on her errands of pity and saving grace where sorrow dwells--she goes not merely to dispense alms, not merely to indulge the luxury of commiseration; or to make parade of sympathy--she goes even to those most abject and lost, hoping all things, enduring all things, believing all things, and she is never wanting, at fitting times, in fitting efforts:--
Were we as rich in charity of deeds
As gold--what rock would bloom not with the seed?
We give our alms, and cry "what can we more?"
One hour of time were worth a load of gold!
Give to the ignorant our own wisdom!--give
Sorrow our comfort! lend to those who live
In crime, the counsels of our virtue!--share
With souls our souls, and Satan shall despair!
Alas! what converts one man would take
The cross and staff, and house with Guilt, could make.
A counsellor of a great kingdom in Europe, charged with the superintendence of its public instruction, of Education for the People, thus expresses the inspiring guiding idea under which he worked. "I promised God," says he, "that I would look upon every Prussian peasant child as a being who could complain of me before God if I did not provide for him the best education as a man and a Christian, which it was possible for me to provide." Noble purpose! and is it not one that it well becomes each one of us to form, who would glorify God by improving man's estate? He who goes forth to guide and rule the flock of Christ, should he not say, "I will hold myself accountable for all of sorrow and evil [37/38] which I am not honestly and heartily endeavoring to remove; my duty is bounded only by my ability!"
Is irreligion rife throughout the land? Then let me count myself irresponsible only when, in person and through the voice and efforts of all whom I can inspire by my example, or move by my remonstrance, I have labored to the utmost, that God's ways may be honored, and his saving health known and accepted by all.
Is there crime in our highways, and even in our homes? Is there dark depravity and sensuality in our lanes and alleys? Let me never protest, in respect to it, my innocence before Heaven, until I have done all that in me lies, to educate and humanize the young, to reclaim the mature in age, and to shut off all the parent sources of this iniquity.
Does, pauperism in squalid form and garb stalk around us, pressing upon our industry, and eating as doth a canker into the heart of the body politic? Let me as a Christian minister, and above all, as a Christian Bishop, claim not to be guiltless in regard to that stain upon our civilization, until I have labored, to the utmost to prevent it on the one hand, and to relieve it on the other.
Are there social usages which still prove, as they always have proved, abounding sources of immorality and crime? Let me not hold myself acquitted before God, unless I have done, by precept and example, all that I might have done, to protest against their continuance.
Is there idolatry of wealth and pageantry--senseless servitude to the tyrannical fashions of the day? Let me not hold myself innocent, unless I have steadily and [38/39] urgently recommended a nobler service; unless I have been myself a model of simplicity and frugality.
In one word, let me resolve like Dinter, that I will regard every human being, old and young, gentle and simple, who may be reached and benefited by my prayers and exertions, as one who can complain of me before God, if I have not done him good at every opportunity and by every means.
My dear Brother--I now bid you welcome to the office with which you are to be clothed. It has toils and trials. Nowhere in this country, and least of all in the region where you will minister, is it without weighty and sometimes depressing cares. But it is not without its solace and supports. For the faithful incumbent, it has even here and now its abundant recompense. The sweet consciousness that you live not for yourself alone; the animating thought that you are helping on your master's yet unfinished work; the ennobling assurance that you are encompassed by a cloud of unseen witnesses who have trod the same path, and are now with God, but who still bend with sympathy over your steps; the solemn yet consoling reflection that His eye who waits even yet that he may see the travail of his soul, rests on you beaming with love, and owning you as son--as brother--these shall be your best reward.
The scene that opens before you is enough to rouse the noblest enthusiasm; it is enough too to provoke the deepest self-distrust. When one stands on an eminence in the city, which is soon to offer you a home; when [39/40] he reflects how the territory over which your official duties will carry you, and among whose earnest, enterprising people your influence will now be felt--when he sees how this territory is watered on the north and on the south; how its expanse is little less than one great fruitful field; how beneath its surface exhaustless treasures are hidden, and how every movement of our industry and enterprise tends to place it more and more on the high-way of this continent,--at such a spectacle, one cannot but feel that here is a theatre of usefulness large enough and lofty enough to satisfy the most aspiring and generous ambition.
Scarcely ten years have passed since its population was but the half of what it now is. Since sixteen years, when our venerable father, soon to be your associate, built his log hut, and laid beside it the foundation of his college, and held his jubilee festival, its numbers have quadrupled; and our little communion, which then numbered scarcely five clergymen, has that number six times told. A short time more, and its population, now nearly one million, will have risen to two; wealth will have increased still more; knowledge will have spread and grown apace, and the signs and elements of almost imperial greatness will be around you. Be instant, Brother, in season and out of season. Preach the Word. Train up the young in wisdom's ways. Multiply from among sons of the soil, candidates for the sacred ministry. Cherish that infant seminary of Arts and Religion, which the wise hand of your brave old associate has planted on a foundation so broad, and which he has nourished with a care so tender. Summon to its aid the wealth of [40/41] those whom God has blessed in their basket and store. Gather round it learned and holy men who shall be able to teach well and wisely the future stewards and watchmen of the Lord. Carry with you even from those who are here, some pledge that the fond desire and prayer to God of our senior Bishop, for this the child of his old age, shall not be in vain.
You go where morals are to be conserved. You go where reverence for law is to be inculcated. You go where universal education is to be promoted. You go where the fireside virtues are to be strengthened; where men's thoughts are to be raised above material cares and interests; and, above all, you go where honor is to be won to Christ and his Apostolic church upreared. Go, then, and May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ go with you. Reprove--rebuke--exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. A few years more, and the mantle of Elijah will have descended on Elisha. May you receive with it a double portion of his own self-sacrificing, indomitable spirit. May your life be so spotless, and your labors so abundant and so full of love, that men shall say of you, as has been said by Fuller in his portrait of the Good Bishop, "he is an overseer of a flock of Shepherds as a good minister of a flock of God's sheep. His life is so spotless, that malice is angry with him because she can find no just cause to accuse him. With his honor, his holiness and his humility doth increase. The meanest minister of God's word may have free access unto him. Whosoever brings a good cause brings his own welcome with him. The pious [41/42] poor may enter at his wide gates when not so much as his wicket shall open to wealthy unworthiness."
But a few more years will have rolled away before we shall no more be seen among the living. Let us keep that, the all eventful hour in our soul's history, ever in view. Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, then; they are not absent, Brother; they are here; in their presence; in the presence of these your brethren, who wait to see you advanced to a higher ministry in Christ's Church; in the presence of my associates who, with me, are impatient to bid you welcome to our ranks; before this vast assemblage, I charge you in the name of God, on Christ's behalf; keep that which is committed to you. So live that when you come to die, your name and memory shall for ever be embalmed in the hearts of a grateful and affectionate people. So live that when you come to meet all those among whom you have gone preaching and laboring, you shall find in every soul a witness to your fidelity. And in your last earthly hour, when the world fades from your view, and God alone can be the strength of your heart, then may you be able to say with Paul in holy confidence: "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith."