SERMON AND REPORT
PARISH OF THE ADVENT,
The First Sunday in Advent,
THE REV. JAMES A. BOLLES, D.D.,
SERMON AND REPORT.
Acts 1; 11. YE MEN OF GALILEE, WHY STAND YE GAZING UP INTO HEAVEN? THIS SAME JESUS WHO IS TAKEN UP FROM YOU INTO HEAVEN, SHALL SO COME, IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN.
NOT long ago, in a religious periodical of very extensive circulation among the sects, I saw it stated that four Episcopal Churches of Boston had contributed, within the year, more than one hundred thousand dollars for various purposes of benevolence. [New York Observer.] At the head of the list, and as contributing the most, was the Church of the Advent. I have not examined the official reports of the different Parishes, in order to verify the newspaper statement; but my heart leaped for joy, to find that our Parish occupied a position of such eminence among her Sister Parishes of the Diocese, Nor could I imagine it wrong in me, as your Rector, that I should have the highest ambition that we should maintain this eminence, not merely in our contributions of money for benevolent purposes of every kind, but more especially that we should excel “in whatsoever things are true, in whatsoever things are honest, in whatsoever things are just, in whatsoever things are pure, in whatsoever things are lovely, in whatsoever things are of good report," so that “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise," we might think of them and possess them.
 Statistics from Advent 1865 to Advent 1866:--
Baptisms—Infants and children, 44; adults, 29. Total, 73. Confirmed, 65. Most of the Confirmed have been added to the Communion.
Sunday School Teachers, 12; Scholars 80.
The children are examined once a month in the Church Catechism, and every Sunday afternoon, after Evening Prayer, in the Bible. Holy Communion celebrated on all Sundays and Holy Days.
From Advent to Lent, average attendance, 21. Litany days, 44. During Lent, exclusive of Passion Week, 116. From Easter to Trinity, 30; Litany days, 44. From Trinity to Advent, 18; Litany days, 28. Sermons preached, 165.
For purposes within the Parish
$9,240 02 For purposes outside the Parish $2,907 02 Total $12,147 04
Outside the Parish the Offerings have been appropriated as follows:—
$510 15 Domestic Board 289 87 Minnesota 39 00 Nashotah 49 00 Colorado, Bishop Randall 50 00 Arkansas, Bishop Lay 138 00 Tennessee, Bishop Quintard 167 00 South Carolina 108 00 Church, Pittsfield, N.H. 7 00 Church, Exeter, N.H. 17 00 Church, Halifax, Va. 39 00 Church, Jacksonville 2 00 Church, Melrose, Mass. 50 00 Church, Medfield 75 00 Church, Amherst, Mass. 20 00 Memorial Church of Bishop DeLancy 50 00 Southern District Association 35 00 St. Stephen's, Portland 59 35 Foreign Missions 112 00 Bishop of Honolulu 200 00 Margaret Coffin, P. B. S. 152 85 Sunday School Union 10 00 Society for Widows and Orphans 73 50 Freedmen's Commission 140 65 Increase of the Ministry 5 00 Christmas Offerings for the Poor 334 00 Christmas Dinner for the Poor 72 75 Hospitality 100 00 Italian Mission 1 00 Receipts in Alms Chest, exclusive of Christmas Offerings 1,622 15 Total $4,529 27
COLLECTED FROM INDIVIDUALS
Church in Melrose
$44 00 Freedmen's Commission 100 00 Church, East Medway 500 00
Rev. Mr. Cooly
120 00 Bishop Gregg, Texas 250 00 Church in N. H. (Rev. Mr. Smith) 250 00
Church in Maine (Rev. Mr. Frost)
40 00 Church in Holyoke, Mass. 103 00 Bureau of Relief 100 00
Church Book Society
30 00 North Carolina (Rev. Mr. Greer) 100 00 Louisiana (Rev. Mr. Dunn) 100 00
Bishop Lay, for poor Clergyman
30 00 Church in Mobile,—Col'd. 25 00
20 00 Middlebury, Vermont 60 00 Roxbury Chapel 100 00 Church, Suspension Bridge, N.Y. 25 00 St. Stephen's Church, Portland 100 00 Society for the increase of Ministry 100 00 Memorial Window, Bishop DeLancy 20 00 St. Stephen's Home 1,248 00
A Benevolent Ch. Institution
404 00 Orphan's Home 25 00 Memorial Tablet, Dr. Coale 175 00 Monument, Rev. G. W. D. Copeland
For Industrial Department in Clothing,—not less than 300 00 Minnesota 100 00 Children's Festival 65 00 For Hospital St. Louis, Rev. Dr. Canon 50 00 Boston Episcopal Charitable Society 80 00 Church, Exeter, N.H. 100 00 Margaret Coffin P. B. S. 347 00 Free Church of St. Mary 44 00 For the Poor of the City 1,000 00 Legacy of Miss Lucy F. Stone, the interest for the Poor of the Parish 1,0000 00 Total from all sources $21,424 27
Such is the best record which I have been able to make, and though the gross amount of offerings is not equal to last year, yet, excluding extraordinary efforts, as for a new organ, the Parish has never done so well. Comparatively, I know that I have been able to gather up but little of what has actually been done, simply because so much is given in many ways, not only to individual applicants but for the Institutions of the Church, without any church record, and simply as individuals. I have heard of some large amounts to such institutions, but there being no record I have not felt myself at liberty to make enquiry. On this subject, I ask attention to the remarks in my last report on the subject of “The Offertory." Moreover, I wish to add that the Free Church, or open church, system is now on trial, and it seems to me that every churchman who has any faith in that system, and especially every member of this Pioneer Free Church Parish, should strive, with all his might, to act upon its principles; that the statistical facts may tell a thousand fold stronger upon the public mind than the most forcible and elaborate arguments. Our Bishops and our Clergy are already convinced of the Scriptural and Catholic principle. What they want is statistical facts to show that it can work in this country. Can it do what it has done in other ages and in other countries, for the building and endowment of churches, hospitals, schools, colleges, and the maintenance of missions? Can free-will offerings brought to the altar and consecrated to God, and made a special obligation of every Christian, rich or poor, be relied upon as a moral and spiritual power in the Church, all-sufficient to sustain her services, to extend her missions, and build up her multiplied institutions of charity? That is the question. That is the reason, in addition to the consideration in my last report, why I am so earnest about the Offertory. “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish," I am determined to stand by the Offertory. I believe it the only power which can touch the heart and awaken its sympathies, and break the grasp of Mammon upon the soul. What illustrations of this truth have we had during the past year? I speak not of the amount of offerings. But a little girl found in the street the sum of eight dollars,—she endeavored in vain to ascertain the owner, and, not succeeding, she placed it in the alms chest, to be laid upon the altar, desiring it to be given to the sick. I have not the slightest idea who the child was, but I see the blessing of the Offertory, touching the heart of that child and leading her to consecrate that unexpected possession to God. An estimable lady of the Parish, reduced in circumstances and in many ways dependent, has left almost her all for the benefit of the poor. I need not pronounce a eulogy upon her memory. I need not say what a model she was of Christian piety, simplicity and devotion. Her name may be forgotten on earth; but in all coming time, the consecration which she has made of her substance to God for the benefit of the poor, will redound to her praise and happiness in heaven.
These were free-will offerings, not given for worldly applause, and, though we might mention many others, yet they are enough to illustrate the power and the blessings of the Offertory.
My brethren, it is now the Twenty-second Anniversary of our Parish. God, in His providence, has enabled me to be your Rector for a little longer period of time than either of my predecessors in office, and it seems to me not improper that I should make, on this occasion, a full and frank statement of the principles by which I have endeavored to be governed in my government of the Parish. I say by which I have endeavored to be governed, for it is one of my greatest comforts to know and feel that “I am a man under authority," and though “having soldiers under me," yet myself responsible to my Bishop and other chief ministers, who, according to the canons of the Church, may have the charge and government over me," and that I am bound by my ordination vows to “follow with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and to submit myself to their godly judgments." [Ordination Offices]
For reasons which I need not explain, the charge is industriously circulated, either openly or by inuendo, that the Parish of the Advent is a schismatical Society, recognized indeed by the Protestant Episcopal Church and in union with the Convention, but not loyal to it, and not maintaining its principles and its Faith. Now we not only deny the charge, but we challenge investigation, and are ready to be put upon our defence. For myself, you will bear me witness, that no single word has ever fallen from my lips, not in defence of, or in accordance with the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of that branch of the Catholic Church of which we are members; and that never have I said any thing which could be tortured by any human being into a justification of Heresy and Schism. Notwithstanding the prevalence and the popularity of these peculiar sins, I have [10/11] warned you against them as against others; nor have I hesitated to proclaim in your hearing the language of the Primitive Fathers,--that such persons are in some sense “murderers," because they “strike at the body of Christ," and in some sense “parricides," because they “plunge a sword into the heart of the mother that bare them," and in some sense worse than the soldiers at the cross, because, in the language of the noble Patriarch of Alexandria, in the days of Arius, “these men have dared to rend asunder that seamless garment which the Roman soldiers would not divide." On this occasion, therefore, I propose to place myself and my Parish upon our defence.
1. There is no doubt that we differ from most of the Parishes of this Diocese, not from all, in that our seats are not sold or rented. In no respect can it be said that we “make merchandise of the house of God." From the first moment of the Organization of the Parish to the present time, not only has there been no selling or renting of the pews, but with the exception of the Clergy, the Choir, and the Wardens, there has been no appropriation of seats. Not one single individual or family has any peculiar rights or privileges in this house of God, no matter how much or how little they may contribute to its support, and no matter what may be their social position in the world. There are families who sit together, and individuals who commonly occupy the same seats, and I wish it might be so generally, for then the Rector could better know his own people; but for this privilege all are dependent entirely upon Christian courtesy, and there is no other rule.
Thus far it has been sufficient. The time may come when the Corporation may find it necessary to make some appropriation of seats to those who are bona-fide parishioners. But under no circumstances can the Corporation sell or rent the seats, or change that fundamental principle of its organization, by which the Church of the Advent must [11/12] for ever be free to every human being who chooses to come and worship within its walls. The moment he passes the threshold all social distinction vanishes, so far as any peculiar rights or privileges are concerned, and every individual, whether he be rich or poor, learned or ignorant, bond or free, is compelled to feel that all are equal in the House of God, all must sink together in the dust of self-abasement as sinners before the Majesty on High; all must offer up the same prayers for mercy and forgiveness, pardon and peace; all must occupy the seats which Christian kindness and courtesy have provided for all, and so “the brother of low degree is made to rejoice in that he is exalted, and the rich in that he is made low."
But can it be pretended that there is any violation, in this respect, of any of the rules or canons of that branch of the Church to which we belong, or of any of the principles of the Catholic Church of God? So far from it, that not only are all the services of the Book of Common Prayer based upon the equality of all men in the house of God, but, perhaps, there is no one thing in all the practices of modern sectarism which is more at variance with the universal practice of the Church of God in all ages, than the renting or selling of seats. How abhorrent it must be to the mind of our Saviour, any individual may see who will read the account of His purification of the Temple and His driving therefrom the buyers and the sellers, as contained in the Gospel for this day—how abhorrent to the Apostles, any individual may see who will read the 2d chap. of the Epistle of St. James, and consider its application to this prevailing custom of our day. How far from all the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, all know who will think for a moment, that nothing of the kind ever existed in any branch for almost sixteen centuries of the Christian era. In all the schemes of Rome for making money, in her most degenerate days, there was no selling or renting [12/13] of seats in the House of God as there is now. [The Church of Rome now sells or rents the sittings in the House of God, not only annually, like the Puritans, but more or less every Sunday, like the theatres.] We not only deny, therefore, in this respect, that we are heretics and schismatics, but we claim to be both Reformers and Catholics standing upon the old platform of the Church in her best and purest days, and doing all we can to bring our brethren back from their Puritan wanderings, to the solid foundation of faith in God, for all the men and all the money which His Church may need, to sustain His worship and to carry on His mission.
I have not intended here to enter into any special argument for the Free Church System, but only to justify our position. I embrace the occasion, however, to reiterate my conviction, that if our Bishops, Clergy, and Laity would throw themselves upon this system, or rather upon God, and resolve to carry out that system of free public worship which was sanctioned from the beginning and for so many ages, they would find it not only the best and the most productive of large results, but the only one which can touch the hearts of the people, and open the long-sealed fountains of Christian benevolence, sympathy, and love. [I do not mean here to deny that the early Christians were obliged to assemble secretly, in caves and catacombs, but that they never sold or rented the seats, nor had money power enough to exclude any Christian.] I do not now speak of Free Church Parishes as isolated members of the body, but of the Free Church System in all its parts, having the Bishop and his cathedral at its head, and the people taught, as of old, to “bring their offerings to the Apostles' feet." God be praised that we have one Diocese in which that system has been adopted,--I refer to the Diocese of Minnesota, and I commend it especially to the sympathies of my Parish.
2. But we differ from many parishes in our mode of [13/14] raising money for the support of our worship, and for all our purposes of benevolence. Not only do we ignore the selling or renting of pews, but we never have, and we never have had, any fairs, or shows, or bazaars, or raffles, or tableaux, or balls, or theatrical entertainments of any kind, for any object whatever. [As individuals the members of our Parish are under no vows or professions of superior sanctity, but, as a Parish, we never resort to the fashionable ways for raising money.] From the beginning the Parish of the Advent has relied entirely for its support upon the “free-will offerings" of God's people, “laid by in store weekly" as the Apostle enjoins, and then brought to the Church, placed upon the altar and solemnly consecrated to God. [I. Cor. xvi, 2; Matth. v, 22.] Is there anything heretical or schismatical in this? Is there any violation of any canons ancient or modern? So flu- from it, that this is the only mode of raising money which is recognized in the Book of Common Prayer, [Offertory.]—the only mode which can be found in the Bible, whether you search the Old Testament or the New--the only mode which was practised in the Primitive Church, and the only mode by which the Church, in her most triumphant days, could persuade and constrain her people to sacrifice their worldly goods for Christ and His Gospel.
In this respect, therefore, we have planted ourselves upon the Bible; we have planted ourselves upon the express injunction of our Saviour and His apostles; we have planted ourselves upon Catholic antiquity; and though we have had many trials and some unusual experiences of human nature, yet we have lived, and are living, stronger to-day, notwithstanding all our sad losses and removals, than we ever were before. And if all the members of our Parish would but act conscientiously upon this principle, if they would but bring their “gifts to the altar," for every object, recognizing their Parish obligations and the importance of [14/15] the principle, we could no doubt report to-day at least double the amount which we have reported. One great trouble is, that our people generally are cosmopolitans,— they are at home here for a part of the year, and at home anywhere, sustaining many different Parishes, and contributing their money without any special regard to their Parochial relations. Of course all this must be expected in a Diocese where there is no organized system, and where everything is left to voluntary action; but I feel it my duty again, as I have often done before, to implore you to make your gifts and offerings for every object, through the constituted authorities of your own Parish, and so to testify your regard for principle above all the fashions of the day, remembering that our system of offerings upon the altar is the true Catholic system of the Church. I know that it is encompassed with many difficulties, but it seems to me the most simple and the most direct, and if I were a layman I think I should be greatly relieved from the importunity of all special applicants, if I could simply say to them,—Go to the authorities of my Parish; all that I can give, and at least one tenth of my income, I lay upon the Altar of my Parish Church, the authorities of which will examine your claims and do what they can. And could this system be carried out by all our Parishes, as it once was and must again be, there would be no special applicants, no travelling agents; every Parish or every Diocese would be provided with means for responding to special appeals, as well as to all Church objects, including the support of the poor, and both Laity and Clergy would be vastly relieved. In that case, the grand question would be, not what should I give or must I give for this object or for that, but what does God require of me as a Christian man? That much I lay upon His altar, and there my responsibility ceases. In that case there might be less of worldly applause, but a vast deal more of Christian satisfaction, and of inward peace of mind and conscience in the management of wealth.
 3. But we differ from many of the Parishes of this Diocese--not from all--in that we have the daily Morning and Evening Prayer. Can any one pretend that this is an innovation or a schismatical proceeding? On the contrary, was not the worship of the Temple a daily worship? Did not our Saviour go daily to the Temple and attend its worship? Was it not daily to the Temple where the Apostles went and continued with one accord? Was not the primitive worship a daily worship? Let Bingham answer. The Church had her daily sacrifices whenever it was possible to have them;" and then he goes on to cite the ancient canons by which “every clergyman was indispensably obliged to attend, and that under pain of suspension and deprivation, whether it was his duty to officiate or not." [See Bingham, p. 212.]
Then what is the teaching of our own Branch of the Catholic Church? Look at the Book of Common Prayer. “The Order for Daily Morning Prayer"--"The Order for Daily Evening Prayer." Can this be once a week, or can it be an order not to be obeyed on week days? Then look at the Preface, in the Prayer Book of the Church of England, and see what the Reformers Said. Not only that “All Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer, either privately or openly, not being let by sickness or some other urgent cause; “but “the Curates in every Parish Church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the Parish Church or Chapel, and shall cause a bell to be toiled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's word, and to pray with him." [See Preface to the Prayer Book of the Church of England.]
Can there be any doubt as to the express and positive teaching of that branch of the Catholic Church of which we are members! And when we remember that the Sects [16/17] have appointed their daily Prayer Meetings, can there be any doubt that the Church of God should be open for His daily Worship, not in forms of human invention, but in those Forms of Daily, Morning and Evening Prayer which have come down to us from the Apostles, and which the best of men, in all Denominations, have acknowledged to be “the purest Forms of Devotion in the Church of God." [For the necessity and importance of agreement in our prayers, see Matt. xviii. 19. Can there be any doubt as to the efficacy of prayer in which the whole Church, in all ages, are agreed?]
Where then do we stand? So far as the Daily Worship is concerned, we stand upon the practice of the Jewish Church as commanded by God; we stand upon the example of our Saviour; we stand upon His Apostles; we stand upon the Primitive Church; we stand upon the Reformers of the Church of England; we stand upon the Book of Common Prayer; for all speak with one heart and one voice.
4. We differ from most of the Parishes of the Diocese, perhaps from all, in that we celebrate the Holy Communion every Sunday and on all Holy Days, for the celebration of which provision has been made in the Book of Common Prayer. But is there anything heretical or schismatical in this? Did not our Saviour at the time of its original institution, in the very language which He used, expect and anticipate, and therefore so enjoin, that it should be celebrated often. [See I. Cor. xi. 23-25.] Was it not the practice of the Apostles to celebrate the Holy Communion not merely on Sunday, but daily in every Christian assembly? Let the Acts of the Apostles answer. [Acts, ii. 46; vi. 1. 3] Was it not instituted for “the perpetual memorial," and ''continual remembrance of the sacrifice and death of Christ until His coming again"? Let the Catechism answer the language of which I have quoted. Was it not to take the place of “the continual burnt offering," [17/18] and “the sacrifices which day by day" were “continually" offered as a type of the Great Sacrifice? And shall the type be more precious than the reality, the shadow than the substance? Let the Epistle to the Hebrews answer.
Was it not a law of the primitive Church that, “all the faithful who come in and hear the Scriptures, but do not stay for the Prayers and the Holy Communion shall be excommunicated"? [The Apostolical Canons from which I have quoted were compiled during the second and third centuries. Some trace them to Clement of Rome and through him to the Apostles.] Let the Apostolical Canons answer. Was it not the universal custom of the Church in the first three centuries to celebrate the Holy Eucharist at least on all Sundays and Holy Days? and did it not constitute the crowning act of Christian Worship? Let Bingham answer, to whose authority in “the Antiquities of the Christian Church" our opponents will not object. [See Bingham’s Antiquities, p. 849.] Nay more, the Heathen Pliny, in his celebrated Letter to Trajan, bears testimony to the fact that the early Christians met together daily for the worship of Christ, and bound themselves together by the ever-living “sacramentum." Was it not the gradual exclusion of the Laity from the full communion of the bread and wine, and the gradual introduction of the custom of solitary masses by the Clergy alone, which brought upon the Church the heaviest load of corruption, and changed her whole life and character? Let the history of the middle ages answer. [See Bingham, p. 809.]
Did not the Reformers of the Church of England expressly declare their intention to restore, in this respect, the practice of the primitive Church, and did they not make provision therefore for the Daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist? Let the first Prayer Book of King Edward answer, in which the “Daily Celebration” is expressly [18/19] mentioned and commended. Let the American Prayer Book answer, in which provision is not only made for its celebration on all Sundays and Holy Days, but in which it is made the special duty of all ministers to “exhort their Parishioners to the often receiving of the Holy Communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ." Is not the prevailing custom of throwing the Eucharist into the background, making it only an occasional feast and an occasional remembrancer, and changing its character from a sacrament into a mere memorial, altogether a Roman and a Puritan combination, the one making it a show to be gazed at, and the other a mere test of profession? and both conspiring to divest the Church of the highest glory of Christian worship and the central truth of “Christ and Him crucified"? Let the facts answer, which every man can see who will open his eyes to see the fatal consequences of such prevailing errors.
What, then, are we endeavoring to do? Would we divide the Church, even upon this most important subject of the frequent celebration of the Holy Communion? Not at all. All we ask and all we want to do is simply to be allowed the blessed privilege of acting upon the teachings of Christ and His Apostles, as those teachings were understood and practised in the Primitive Church, and as they have been embodied in the Book of Common Prayer. We think that in such a city as Boston it should be rather a matter of rejoicing than of complaint, that there is one Parish Church at least, in which there is a full celebration of all the Christian Festivals of the Ecclesiastical Year, as they were originally celebrated with the Holy Communion, and as they were required to be celebrated by the Reformers of the Church of England. [The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel are a part of the Communion Office, which is always mutilated when there is no actual celebration of the Holy Communion.]
 5. But another particular in which we differ from some other Parishes, is this, that in our estimation the Worship of the Church, including the prayers and the sacraments, is of more importance than the preaching, and if one or the other must give way, we much prefer to omit the Sermon rather than to abridge in any particular the appointed worship. Not that we would depreciate in the mind of any individual the divine ordinance of preaching, but that we would not exalt it out of its place—that we would not make it the principal attraction—that we would not imagine for a moment, that it can he as important or necessary as the Prayers and the Sacraments. But is there anything heretical or schismatical in this? On the contrary, is not that the whole teaching of the Bible and the Church? Was it not mainly for worship that the Old Temple was erected, as any one may see who will read the prayer of Solomon at the Dedication? Did not our Saviour declare that His House should be known in all ages as a HOUSE OF PRAYER? not to display the arts and ingenuities of the human mind, not for the pomp and circumstance of human oratory, but emphatically for PRAYER, for calm and holy worship, for the prostration of man at the footstool of Infinite Mercy, that the Lord alone may be exalted. And is it not one of the highest objects and designs of preaching to bring the people, in penitence and faith, to the prayers and sacraments of the Church, that they may have “fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ"?
Are there any human words at all to be compared with the pure word of God, or which can take the place of those prayers which have been framed out of the Word of God, and which have been used by all generations of Christians to pour out their hearts in supplications and thanksgivings? Can any sermon, however eloquent and impressive, proclaim “the sacrifice of the death of Christ" as it is proclaimed by the ordained WITNESS and constituted FEAST, ordained [20/21] and constituted by Christ Himself, expressly for the purpose of “shewing forth His death, until His coming again"? In all the sermons which were ever preached, can there he any such convincing and overpowering demonstration of the Saviour's presence, and of the reality of His sacrifice, as in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist,—an office which not only carries us back at once to Him and to all the mysteries of Calvary, but attesting by its continued celebration in this nineteenth century, that He is the ever living Prophet, Priest, and King of His Church and people? Have we not reason to believe that the modern idea of preaching as of more importance than the prayers and the sacraments, has been productive of a vast amount of disputation and of infidelity, and that the true way to bring the people upon their knees is to set them an example of prayer, and to show them that our worship is a reality and not a sham and that we have more faith in God than in men, no matter how eloquent they may be?
6. But another particular in which we differ from some other Parishes, is that we are governed in our Worship by the Canons and Rubrics of the Church, and never, knowingly, allow them to be violated. As, for instance, Canon xx. declares that “every Minister shall, before all Sermons and Lectures and on all other occasions of Public Worship, use the Book of Common Prayer, as the same is or may be established by the authority of the General Convention of this Church, and in performing such Service no other prayers shall be used than those prescribed by the said Book." Such is the Canon, and I do not believe it has ever been violated in this Church from the time that the Parish was organized to this present moment.
The Rubrics are evidently all framed to make the Worship reverential and solemn. In some parts of the Service, they require the people to kneel in prayer and stand in praise, and our seats, therefore, are so arranged that they [21/22] can do so—they can actually kneel in prayer, and generally do—they can stand in praise, and, unless hindered by sickness or some other infirmity, generally do. They require the office of Holy Baptism to be used “immediately after the last Lesson at Morning Prayer or the last Lesson at Evening Prayer"; and that is the practice of this Parish. They make it the duty of the Minister to “declare to the people what Holy Days or Fasting Days are in the week following to be observed," and that is always done.
They require that “the alms for the poor or other devotions of the people shall be reverently brought to the Priest in a basin," and that “he shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table," and that is always complied with. They require that the Priest shall then place upon the Table so much bread and wine as he shall think sufficient," and that is always done. They require that “if any of the consecrated bread and wine remain after the Communion, it shall not be carried out of the Church, but the Minister and other Communicants, shall immediately after the Blessing reverently eat and drink the same," and that is always done; and, so far as I know, there is no Rubric of the Church which is ever violated in our Worship.
There are some things which we do, which the Rubrics do not positively require, but which seem to me in accordance with their spirit and letter. As, for instance, there is no Rubric requiring the men to be uncovered in the House of God, but common decency demands it, and it is generally done. There is no Rubric to tell us how the Clergy and Chorister shall come into the Church, and, therefore, we have adopted the old Catholic custom of a processional entrance into the House of God. There is no Rubric to tell the people what they shall do when the procession enters, and therefore they follow the natural instincts of propriety, and by consent of the Rector they generally rise. There is no Rubric requiring ministers and people to kneel [22/23] together for silent prayer before commencing the worship, but we generally do it, not only because it is not forbidden, but because it is a Church custom, recognized in the Book of Common Prayer on some occasions, and is reverential and solemn. There is no Rubric telling the people what they must do when their alms are “reverently brought to the Priest," and when he “humbly presents and places them upon the Holy Table," and, therefore, as a dictate of nature and a joint act of worship, they generally rise. [There is no Rubric telling the Priest that he must not place his pocket-handkerchief upon the Holy Table, but as he would not allow it upon his own dinner or supper-table, we do not think it wrong not to practise it upon the Table of the Lord.] There are no Rubrics prescribing the kind of dress in which the Clergy and Choristers must officiate, and therefore we have laid aside the black gown, and have adopted the surplice as the most ecclesiastical, at the same time acknowledging that there are other vestments, sanctioned by the Church, and not forbidden by any Canonical or Rubrical Law.
There are no Rubrics requiring either Priest or People to turn to the altar except in some parts of the Communion office and especially in a Trisagion—but it is our custom to do so, in the Creeds and in the Glorias, not because we would introduce anything new, but because that practice has the sanction of the Catholic Church in all ages, and because in a faithless age it makes a distinction between that part of the Service which is merely social and devotional, and that which proclaims the everlasting and indestructible faith. [All know that the practice of turning to the altar in saying the Creed is universal in the Church of England, and why not also in the Glorias? We must face somewhere, and it certainly seems much more reverent and proper that Priests and People should all turn to the altar, rather than that they should face each other.] There is no Rubric prescribing the place where the Litany is to be said, but the law of the Church [23/24] of England in the time of Edward and Elizabeth, both, required that the Priest and Choir should change their position and go down among the people, and “kneel in the midst of the Church and sing or say the Litany." The officiating Priest with us, therefore, changes his position when he comes to the Litany, and goes to the chancel rail, not because it is the proper place, but because, most unfortunately, for our chancel arrangements, we have no Faldstool, and the chancel rail is almost the lowest part of the Church, and more “in the midst of the Church" than the Clergy-stalls, at all events it is “between the Porch and the Altar." But for the custom of changing position and making the Litany a separate and more lowly service, we have the undoubted sanction of all Catholic antiquity, and the teaching of the Litany itself, as a distinct, separate and more lowly act of devotion than any other part of the Liturgy.
Such are the Ritual practices, or innovations as some persons choose to call them, of the Church of the Advent. There is no violation of any Rubric or Canon—nothing which has not the plainest sanction of the Bible and the Church. Can it be thought that there is anything heretical or schismatic in this? Not surely unless it be heretical or schismatical to make the Worship of the Church as solemn and as reverential as we can—not unless it be heretical or schismatical to restore and to make alive.
7. But another particular in which we differ from most of the Parishes in this Diocese is, that we have a Choral Service and a Surpliced Choir. No doubt there are some persons to whom this mode of celebrating the service is entirely new and strange; something to which they have not been accustomed, and therefore they think it must be wrong. But if there is any one fact established beyond all question or cavil, by the universal, practice of the Church in her best and purest days, by the positive sanction of the [24/25] Reformation, and by the whole frame-work of the Liturgy, it is that the Choral Worship is altogether the highest, the most orderly, the most harmonious, the most impressive, the most angelic, and the most heavenly.
However, it is not my intention here to offer an argument in its favor, for the Choral Service is proving itself and making its way as rapidly as its warmest advocates can desire. But I protest against any representation of it as heretical or schismatical. And I have no doubt the time is not far distant when the great mass of our people will wonder how they could so long have borne with “the prosaic readings, the whispered responses, and quartette warblings” of the grand old Worship of the Church. [See Appendix on a “Surpliced Choir" and Choral Worship.]
8. But another particular in which we differ from some of the Parishes of this Diocese is, that any Ordained Minister of the Church in good and regular standing is received by us and invited to his place among the Clergy, no matter what may be his party ties or predilections. So in relation to applications for aid, we receive them all and give them all a chance to be heard, no matter from what quarter they come, or whether the applicant is high church or low church, broad church or narrow. The only question we ever presume to ask is whether the applicant is acting under the authority of the Church, nor do we intend that our benefactions shall be limited by any sectional or party ties. 'We do not indeed make collection for any missionary or other societies which have been expressly organized for party purposes and which come in conflict with those which have been established by the General Convention or by the authority of Diocesan Councils, (for that would seem to us schismatical), but there is no church object, having the authority of the Church, to which we do not endeavor to respond.
9. But another particular in which we may possibly [25/26] differ from some of the Parishes of this Diocese is, that we hang out our colors as Catholic Churchmen, and stand to them. I mean by this to say that we do not profess to be what we are not. We do not profess to have any special sympathy for any of the errors of the Sects, no matter how “evangelical” they may be, nor do we profess to have any special sympathy for any of the additions or corruptions of Rome, no matter how new or how old they may be. We are not afraid to define our position both positively and negatively, and to say as plainly as we can, both what we are and what we are not. We claim that we are not Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists or any other sect, no matter what the name, though we are not insensible to their many virtues and excellencies of Christian character, and though we honor them for whatever part of “the faith once delivered to the saints" they have been able to hold on to, in the wreck.
But we deny that we belong to them. We say that the word “sect," from seco, to cut off, does not properly apply to us; for we have never cut ourselves off from the Catholic Church of all ages, nor have we ever been “cut off" by any competent authority. We claim that that Branch of the Church of which we are members is THE TRUE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THIS NATION; and this, not only because it is historically identified with the Apostles, through the succession of its ministry, but because it is the only Body of Christians, in this country, which proclaims the same unchangeable faith, and defends the same unchangeable discipline, and maintains the same unchangeable worship; and which, at the same time, is thoroughly American as holding no political connection with the State at home or abroad. In these particulars the Protestant Episcopal Church stands out from all other bodies and sects whether Romish or Protestant. And we think it her duty not only to define her position and to make known her claims, but to [26/27] court inquiry and challenge investigation. Nor do we think it possible for her to grow in any community, when her ministers and members have only the sect idea of what the Church is, and that she is only one of a thousand different conflicting and clashing bodies, each and all representing the one Body of Christ, and each and all proclaiming as many different and opposing systems of faith. Moreover we think the time has come when she should take her stand; when she should gird herself with her Saviour's strength, and buckling on His armor, should go forth to battle. And when I think of Sectarianism on the one hand and of Romanism on the other, both defining their position, boldly and independently, and when I remember, and think I know, that there is one body among us, neither sectarian nor Romish, neither bigoted nor superstitious, as apostolic as the Apostles and as liberal and Catholic as the Apostles' Creed, representing none of the schisms of Arius or Sabellius, of Luther or Calvin, or of any human doctor ancient or modern, and nothing but the ancient “faith as it was once delivered to the saints; “I confess that my soul is amazed at the apathy of those Churchmen who are members of that body, and who yet do not seem to realize their position nor their responsibilities as the only living representatives in this land of “The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Rather than that we should remain in this condition of apathy I would court persecution, almost anything to make us stand to our arms and stand to our guns, and if possible, not by words only but by tears and blood, I would that we might be compelled to testify, proclaim, and defend “the Apostolic Faith of the Apostolic Church." In all this, I am sure there is no heresy or schism, nor can I imagine how it is possible for that man who loves the Church and Kingdom and Bride and Body and Spouse of Christ, in their visible relations to Him, to be less attached to Christ Himself, than the man who professes to love Him [27/28] so much as to pour contempt upon His visible Church and His visible Sacraments. In these respects we may differ from some of our brethren, but we are brethren still, and neither heretics nor schismatics.
10. Finally, it may be that we differ from some of the Parishes of this Diocese, in the great and solemn event which the Church witnesses and proclaims to-day, the second coming of Christ. For though the corporate and legal name of our Parish, is, “The Parish of the Advent," yet we have no connection whatsoever with any of the socalled Second Advent and millennarian speculations and schemes of doctrine ancient or modern. We believe, proclaim, and defend the angelic announcement, that “this Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." We believe in its literal fulfillment—that He will come again and come visibly as He was seen to go into heaven.
But when we proclaim the design and objects of His Second Coming, we proclaim nothing more and nothing less than the old faith of the Church as contained in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed,—”that He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead,"—not to reign in worldly splendor for a thousand years, but to “judge both the quick and the dead." Nor do we give any fanciful or any Calvinistic interpretation to the words, the “quick and the dead." We believe that it includes, not the impenitent only, not the unconverted only, not those only who do not belong to the election—but all mankind, "the living and the dead"--bishops, priests, deacons, laymen, Jews, Turks, infidels, heretics, rich and poor, statesmen and peasants, kings and. subjects, sovereigns and people, old and young—all must stand before God and be judged “according to their works," by “the things written in the Book"—the everlasting Book of Remembrance. Such is the fact, and we announce it as a fact, [28/29] not as an opinion, not as a speculation, but as the faith of the Church Universal. There may be a restoration of the Jews before, there may be an offering of universal incense by the Gentile nations before, there may be an overthrow of Anti-Christ before, there may be a resurrection of departed saints before and a transformation of living ones, there may be a binding of Satan for a thousand years and a general millennium; but all these are matters of private speculation and private opinion; they are not articles of the Christian faith; the Church has nowhere embodied them in her creeds; and, for the most part, all such speculations have only distracted and divided the Church and been productive of infidelity. They may be enjoyed in private if any one chooses to enjoy them. But no Minister of the Church Catholic, as it seems to me, is authorized to proclaim anything more upon this awful and mysterious subject than the great and most important fact, that “God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained," and that “every one of us must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ." That is the great fact, the most penetrating and awakening fact to every Christian soul; a thousand times more important than any speculations upon its signs and wonders; and, therefore, we exhort you to follow the example of the faithful of old, and to be “ever looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
On Saturday, November 17, 1866, the Parish was greatly afflicted by the death of Dr. William E. Townsend. He was attacked with Asiatic cholera on Friday afternoon, and died on Saturday after an illness of only eighteen or twenty hours, aged forty-six years. On the Sunday morning following, I read from the chancel the following
TRIBUTE TO HIS MEMORY.
THE DEATH OF DR. TOWNSEND.
Brethren beloved,—The painfully sudden and afflictive death of William Edward Townsend, M. D., has not only cast a pall of gloom over a large circle of bereaved and weeping relatives, but has opened afresh the fountains of sympathy and sorrow in all our hearts.
In his death our parish has not only lost a faithful communicant and an active and influential member of its corporation, but one of our most earnest and energetic workers for Christ and His church.
In his death the medical profession has lost not a successful practitioner only, but an ornament, and one who seemed to be destined, had his life been spared, to become in it, like his venerable father, a crown of glory.
In his death the city of Boston has lost not only a good citizen and an honest man, but a devoted son, whose heart vibrated responsively to everything which concerns her interest and her honor.
We all feel that it is one of the strangest and most mysterious of the dispensations of Divine Providence—that a young man, in the vigor of life, in the faithful discharge of his duties, and surrounded by a family of the young, dependent on his care and protection, should be so suddenly arrested in his career of usefulness, and prostrated to the dust of death. But our religion is full of comfort and of consolation. [31/32] “What we know not now we shall know hereafter." We, therefore, bow in submission to the will of God, not able indeed to fathom the reasons, but knowing that it is ordered in love, and more than all, knowing that, though “the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved," our beloved brother has “a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
For sanitary reasons most thoughtfully expressed by the deceased himself, and illustrating his character, the funeral will be strictly private, and none but the nearest relatives and friends are expected to attend. We cannot, therefore, all unite, as we would like to do, in the sad funeral solemnities, but we can commemorate the event, we can pray for the bereaved widow and orphans, we can pray for ourselves that we may be also ready, and we can also pray that “we with him, and he with us, may have our perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul, in God's eternal and everlasting glory."
A LETTER TO RIGHT REV. DR. RANDALL,
Boston, May 12, 1866.
My Dear Bishop.—I remember hearing that some years ago a distinguished Presbyter of the Diocese of Massachusetts was much horrified by the use of flowers upon the altar, and he wrote an article, in his usual strong style, for the purpose of "arresting a growing practice which he believed decidedly wrong." However, the practice went on, has more and more increased, so that the Presbyter himself has not only succumbed to it, but is probably now as much pleased with flowers upon the altar as anybody else. Now I predict the same result with your efforts to arrest the growing practice of “Surpliced Choirs." The practice will go on, you will fall into it yourself, and finding it so much more decent, more devotional, more Scriptural and more Catholic than the prevailing custom, you will wonder how you could have written such an article as that which was printed in the Witness of the 27th ult. Let me give you a few of my reasons for this opinion.
1. Your objections are altogether original, as you must acknowledge. I do not mean that I have not heard the same expressed by clergymen of our Church, but I mean that no writer of any note, and no Ritualist of any authority in the Church, can be found to sustain you in these objections. The practice of Surpliced Choristers is certainly as old as the consecration of the Temple of Solomon, has always existed in the Church of England, was retained by the Reformers, was never abolished, excepting by the Puritans in the reign of Cromwell, and has never been [32/33] objected to by any authority upon the grounds advocated in your article. To a plain man, therefore, who is disposed to stand by the universal practice of the Church in all ages, the presumption is, that you must be wrong, even though he might not be able to detect your fallacies. For it is never safe to go against the voice of the Church in matters of common and ordinary ritual, nor is it to be supposed that her voice would sanction any practice, for so many ages, if, as you maintain, it has so palpably invaded the rights of the clergy, nor can it be imagined as possible that you have made upon this subject an entirely new discovery.
II. Your article is opposed to almost the only feature in that Catholic movement which commenced a few, years ago in England—the influence of which we have felt—which has enlisted the sympathy and support there of men of all parties, whether “high Church" or "low Church “or “broad Church." That feature is the music of the Church, the change and improvement of which all acknowledge, and which is owing, as all confess, to the introduction of “singing men and singing boys," arrayed in white linen as in the time of Solomon, placed in the “Choir of the Church," sustaining and animating the worship of Priests and people. "Instead of the single Parson and Clerk or Minister and Quartette, the people have seen, especially at the Festivals,"—I am quoting the testimony of the Arch Deacon of Exeter,—”the choral worship, conducted by a multitude of the clergy and by hundreds or thousands of the white-robed choir, and they have felt, as they never felt before, the grandeur of such a service, and its correspondence to the glimpses of heavenly worship disclosed to us by Holy Scripture. . . . And the larger gatherings at which these things were done have reacted upon the more limited and ordinary parochial services. Their proper object was so to react in respect of musical proficiency only; but they have influenced, at the same time, the whole outward form and order of things." I could quote much more testimony, and from men of all parties, to the blessedness of this movement. And yet you seek to arrest it, as you say, "upon principle," not because of any authority in ancient or modern canon laws or in the practice of the Church, but upon principle, a newly discovered principle, that the “Surplice is a Priestly vestment and belongs exclusively to the clergy." Moreover, you connect with this principle another new discovery, that these singers ought not to be "placed in that part of the chancel end of the church occupied by the clergy," and which has always been called "the choir." Now my dear Sir, my prediction is, that the movement will arrest you, and knowing your Catholic heart, you will rejoice to be arrested by it. Besides, I have no doubt that upon the subject of "Priestly Vestments" and the Chancel," as well as some other matters contained in your article, you will, upon more thorough investigation, entirely change your mind.
III. Your article will not stand the test of examination, and you [33/34] have made in it some very unfortunate and fundamental mistakes. Let us examine it seriatim. You say “God has once expressly revealed His will, that His ministers, when officiating in the service of His House, should be arrayed in sacred vestments, i. e., they should wear a dress peculiar to their holy office, while performing its duties, and which they were not to wear at other times, and which other persons were not to wear on any occasion. From that period to the present, so far as we know, the practice obtained in all dispensations of the Jewish Church, and in the Christian Church, varying in form and color, in different ages and in different branches of the church."
The italics are your own. It is observable that you do not say the Priests, but "His Ministers, when officiating in the service of His House." But whom do you mean by "His Ministers "? Would you exclude the Sexton, or the Wardens and vestry, or the choristers, or even the whole body of His people, as in one sense “a royal Priesthood in the Christian Church"? All certainly officiate in His House and are His Ministers and servants; and if what you say is true, which I do not deny, then all should be “arrayed in sacred vestments “appropriate to the different offices which they are required to discharge Such has been, to some extent the practice of the Church; each and all have had their appropriate dress or insignia for the House of God; even "the holy women" laying aside their worldly apparel, and being "adorned," at least, in His House, as "women professing godliness." But evidently you mean to confine "the sacred vestments" to the Priesthood, as you say that “the surplice is a Priestly vestment, and belongs exclusively to the clergy." But the Levites, who did not officiate as Priests, and by whom principally the music was conducted, were arrayed in white, and David, who belonged to neither, sometimes wore the ephod.
Again, you say, "following this ancient and authorized practice, as highly proper, our own church has adopted the surplice, a plain garment made of 'pure white linen,' as nearly as possible in the form of the Jewish ephod. This pattern is as near as we can now attain to that which God himself set forth in the Old Testament, while the material, emblematic of the righteousness of the saints, resembles that wherewith the redeemed are robed in the church triumphant, as revealed in the New Testament."
“Our own church has adopted the surplice!" Well, we rejoice that the surplice is becoming such a general favorite, and we hope the time is not far distant, when it may be generally used in this Diocese by all the clergy, especially on all occasions of ordination, and the consecration of churches, but that time has not yet come. To say, however, that “our church has adopted it," in any other sense than that it has gradually come into general use, is a mistake. There is no law upon the subject, as you acknowledge, and therefore it is not impossible that custom may yet introduce something better, and something which will mark more strongly the distinction between the officiating Priests and [34/35] the officiating choristers. That, in fact, is the great question which your article has opened, and you have put an argument in the hands of those who are seeking to introduce something else on the express ground that the surplice is not the true Priestly vestment.
But how could you compare the Surplice to the Jewish ephod! In the 28th chapter of Exodus, at the 6th verse, you will find a description of the ephod. "And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work. It shall have the two shoulder-pieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together. And the curious girdle of the ephod which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen," &c. Such is a description of the ephod, by an authority which will not be questioned. Hence Calmet says, "It was an ornamental part of the dress worn by the Hebrew Priests "; that it was “worn above the Tunic and Robe, was without sleeves, and open below the arms on each side, joind together on the shoulders by golden buckles, set with gems, having a girdle by which it was bound to the body." Robinson thinks there were two kinds of ephod, one plainer than the other, worn by the Priests, and the other embroidered for the High Priest. But the plain one was that described above, and then for the High Priest was added the “onyx stones and the names of the twelve tribes," &e. Probably the ephod worn by the Singers, by David and others, was more plain and simple than either of them, just as the Surplice worn by our choristers is plainer than that worn by the clergy and differently made, and only called an ephod because resembling it and used in the worship of the Temple. But what mistake could be greater than to speak of the Surplice “as nearly as possible in the form of the Jewish ephod."
Again, you say that “the Protestant Episcopal Church has no other clerical vestment than the surplice." You then go on to speak rather disrespectfully of the black gown as altogether a Romish affair, "introduced by the Black Friars," and even “the stole “or scarf falls under your condemnation as “emblematic of sin." What those brethren may say of these strictures who have not yet laid aside the black gown, and among whom it made the special emblem of an evangelical preacher, or what all may say who regard an ordinary black dress as becoming the clergy, I do not know. But when you say that "the Protestant Episcopal Church has no other clerical vestment than the surplice," it seems to me you must have slightly forgotten some things which you have lately seen and felt. You certainly will not deny that the Bishop is a clergyman, and has he no other clerical vestment than a surplice, or are the Bishop's robes not clerical? Moreover, you must also know that many of the clergy, when ministering at the altar, are accustomed to wear the alb and chasuble as the true priestly vestment, and for this they have the best of human authority—the authority of the English church, and the express words of her best liturgical writers, who say, that "the [35/36] surplice is the choral, the alb the sacrificial ministering robe." And hence the first prayer book of Edward VI., now binding upon the English elegy, and why not upon us, required that “the priests at the time of the Holy Communion should wear the alb with a vestment or cope, though in the saying or singing of matin or even song," a surplice was commanded.
Again, after inveighing against what you call "the holy vestments," by "putting them upon a company of men and boys who are picked up and brought into the church because they can sing, with no moral or spiritual qualification for the services of God's house," . . . "profane, thoughtless, faithless, godless," you say:—
“What a comment upon such a desecration of the use of sacred vestments is the fact, that a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ stands up to perform the service, habited in his priestly vestments, and within a few feet of him stands a man in precisely the sane habit, whom every member of the congregation knows to be on undisguised infidel, but who has a voice, and is willing to sing in a Christian church for money! It is true the scarf, a piece of black silk, emblematic of sin, distinguishes the minister."
Now, may I be permitted to make a different application of your vehement expostulation? What a desecration, not of sacred vestments, but of the whole worship of God's house, and the most solemn words of Holy Scripture, that a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ stands up to perform the service, and yet before him in the organ-loft perhaps, there is a company of “undisguised infidels," upon whom he is dependent for the performance of the most devotional and the most seraphic parts of that service—a company who have voices to sing and “are willing to sing in a Christian church for money," and yet entirely removed from the control of minister and people, talking, laughing, playing at cards, or rushing out into an ante-room when the prayers commence, coming back for the hymn and running out again when the sermon commences! What an awful desecration of the worship of the Most High God! And then what hope can there be that such a company of performers will ever be converted and reconciled to God by the blood of the cross!! Have I not as much ground and vastly more for malting this expostulation, than you have for the other? Neither of us would reflect unkindly upon the singers in our churches, whether in the chancel or the organloft; for we know that many of them are among the most devout and unselfish of all our worshippers, and even those who are paid for their services, are dependent upon that pay for their daily bread.
I think that such persons should be paid and paid well, just as the clergy should be paid and paid well; not because they serve the church for hire, but because the church is bound to support those who minister in her service and at her altars. Were it possible, as I hope it may ere long be, my choir of boys should belong to the Parochial School under the charge of the Rector of the Parish, and not one member compelled, by the necessities of his daily bread, to sing for the amusement of the [36/37] people—all attending the daily service, as well as the Sunday and festival worship, and all loved, cared for and sustained for their “work's sake." But you know, as well as myself, the untold evils of voluntary singers and hired singers in by-places and organ lofts, and in my judgment the only remedy is the introduction of “singing men and singing boys “in their proper place, in the “choir of the Church," under the eye of minister and people, not behind a screen, but arrayed in those white vestments which proclaim to all the sacredness of their office as choristers,—an office which gives them a position in the Church, and which cannot but make them feel, and the people feel, that they should be pure in heart and life. I say that this is the only remedy for that awful desecration to which I have referred, and over which all of us have mourned and wept—for the following reasons, as briefly expressed as I know how to express them: 1st. Because it is God's remedy, as seen in the worship of the Temple and in that of the Christian Church in all ages. 2d. Because, under this system, minister and people are compelled to act upon principle, not hiring "undisguised infidels," &c., but opening the door-way to those who have the heart to come under discipline, and who love the worship of the Church, or can be trained to love it. 3d. Because “undisguised infidels," with some lingering feelings of shame and self-respect, are generally opposed to the system, and shrink from it. 4th. Because, as a general rule, the "boys" employed do not hire themselves out for money, for the pay would not clothe them, but they are brought to us by their parents for the sake of the discipline and instruction. 5th. Because they are boys, mere boys from seven to twelve and fourteen years of age, not profane and hardened infidels, as you seem to fancy, but just at that tender age when they can be moulded, changed and transformed into new creatures in Christ Jesus; and such has been the result, scarcely a boy belonging to my choir who has not become a faithful communicant of the Church, and not a few either ministers of the Gospel, or now studying for the ministry. 6th. Because the system is one which attracts the support and cooperation of devout men, most of whom give their services voluntarily, and here, as in England, many of the clergy, when not otherwise engaged, take their places in the choir as choristers. I could give many other reasons, derived from experience, why “the surpliced choir" is the only remedy for that lamented desecration of the worship of God's house which is so common; but these are enough for the present.
But again, you make a strong, though as it seems to me, a very deceptive argument from the fact, that even candidates for Orders, when they act as Lay Readers, are not allowed to wear the surplice. You say: “Take the parishes, and there are quite a number where the choirs wear surplices; would the Rector of such a parish, if a candidate for Holy Orders were to assist him in the Service, allow this religious layman to put on a surplice? Even though this candidate may have been a long time a devoted Christian, and perhaps for many years [37/38] a zealous preacher in some denomination, yet that very Rector allows a man whom he knows to be an infidel to put on that holy garment in his presence, which belongs exclusively to God's minister, and denies it to a man who preached 'Christ crucified,' before this singing infidel was born into the world."
Now, though I acknowledge that this argument is exceedingly specious and its fallacy not easily detected, yet I am surprised you did not yourself discard it after it was penned; for it seems to me a very unkind argument, addressed to the populace, and not at all to the subject in question. I know you would have been the very last person to use it, had it appeared to you, in any particular, as it does to me. In the first place, you arraign some of your brethren of the clergy for a very great sin, and then you proceed to aggravate that sin by the mention of circumstances, over which, if true, they have no control. Is it true that the Rector of any church where there is a “surpliced choir," would "allow a man whom he knows to be an infidel to put on that holy garment in his presence?" For my part, I am happy to say that I do not know of any such Rector, nor do I believe that any such Rector can be found. There has never been any individual in my choir, wearing the surplice, whom I have known to be an infidel, or other than a devout worshipper. But supposing such a Rector to be found, is it true that he would or could deny the surplice to “a man who preached Christ crucified before this singing infidel was born," simply because he is a lay reader, and not a chorister?
Surely in this you have overstepped the bounds of Christian fairness and moderation. For you know perfectly well, and no man knows better than you, that the General Convention, by Canon Law, has made a distinction between “candidates for orders," and other layman, in the matter of reading the service. Any ordinary layman may read the service, but not any candidate for orders, without a license from the Bishop, or if there be no Bishop, from the clerical members of the standing committee. Nor could any Bishop or rector, with or without a surpliced choir, place upon him any dress appropriate to the clergy, when reading the service. Why the Church has thought fit to make this distinction between candidates for orders and other laymen, in reading the Church service, is obvious enough, but for the life of me I cannot see its bearing upon the question of a "surpliced choir." As well might it be argued from this distinction, that laymen who are not candidates for Orders, have had Episcopal Ordination or consecration, simply because they can do in the church service what candidates for orders cannot. At all events there is no Canon Law forbidding either class from officiating in the choir and in the appropriate vestments of the choir.
Again you say, that you have “taken up your pen in defence of the rights of the Priesthood." But what have you done? Most unwittingly, you have assailed the rights of the Priesthood and the rights of the [38/39] Bishop of California. No churchman can doubt, as it seems to me, that Bishop Kip has a right to recommend a choral worship and a "surpliced choir “in his Diocese, and when you say that “no Bishop, Priest, Deacon, or Layman has this right," you arraign the great body of the English Bishops, and the great body of the American Bishops, and all the Bishops of the whole Catholic Church in all ages, by whom this right has been exercised. More than all you assail the undoubted rights of the Rector of every parish. For if there be any one thing which is and ought to be, by Rubric and Canon Law, under the control of the Rector, it is the music of the church, not only to “suppress all light and unseemly music," but to require that his choristers shall be placed in that part of the church which has always been known as “the choir," and that they shall appear, not in fancy dresses, but in that decent and comely apparel which the Church in all ages has sanctioned and recommended by her practice.
Your position that "the surplice worn by our choristers is a priestly vestment and therefore belongs exclusively to the clergy," is as pointblank a violation of fact, as it would be to maintain that a black coat or white cravat are “priestly," and therefore belong exclusively to the clergy, or that nothing is saintly or priestly which does not belong exclusively to the clergy. As well might you object to the white robes of the infant brought to the font, or the white robes of the candidates for baptism, in the primitive church, as a violation of the rights of the clergy. Scarcely in any other part of the world could such a position be taken. What would be thought of it in England, where not only every student in the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge must bring his “surplice," but every scholar in every institution having a religious foundation, from those most anciently established down to the last, the College established by the Bishop of St. Andrews in Scotland? What would be thought of it in Wisconsin, where, in the principal College of that Diocese, not less than forty or fifty students are daily arrayed in surplices in the worship of the daily service? In short, I can imagine no other stand-point in all Christendom, where such an idea could have entered into the mind, but the stand-point of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
Again, you seem to imagine that the white surplice is not so much an official garment, sacred to the offices of religion, as it is a professional and emblematic robe, proclaiming the greater purity and sanctity of the clergy, as though when the clergyman puts on his surplice, he then says to the people, “I am holier than thou." Now, I have no doubt that the fine linen is emblematic of “the righteousness of the saints," but are the clergy the only saints? And if the object in wearing it is to proclaim the righteousness of the saints," then all Christians should wear it, and the whiter the surplice, the purer the saint. No, my dear Bishop, the surplice, as I understand, is an Ecclesiastical garment, to be worn by all persons engaged officially in the Choral worship of the Church, [39/40] and denoting, not so much the personal purity of character of those who wear it, as the sacredness of the duties which they are called upon to discharge. And hence I could not but think, when reading that part of your article which speaks of "undisguised infidels” employed in the worship, that it would be better, if by accident such persons are employed, that they should be disguised, at least in Church.
In conclusion, may I not express the hope that in the new and most important Diocese to which you are about departing, with the love, sympathy and prayers of all your brethren and the whole Church, you may ere long be enabled to rejoice over the erection of a grand Cathedral, in which you may have the Daily Service, and the full Cathedral Worship of the Church; and as the sainted Croswell said:—
“There let the organ and the strain devout,
Make every stone in sympathy cry out,
Like some harmonious fabric of the Lord's,
‘Whose vaults are shells and pillars tuneful chords.'
There let the surpliced priests in order stand,
And why not, white-robed choirs on either hand?
With the assurance of my sympathy and love,
Truly and affectionately yours,
JAMES A. BOLLES.To the RT. REV. DR. RANDALL.