Project Canterbury

















In October last the writer received an invitation from the Pastor of the Church of the Messiah to present, in his pulpit, a statement of the history and claims of the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was not unwilling to present in a Unitarian congregation, on a request so courteously made, a statement of the Church's principles. The following lecture is the result. A thronged and apparently interested assemblage of nearly fifteen hundred persons, after joining in the Apostles' Creed, and some collects, gave a close attention to the end. Being requested to allow a publication of the lecture, the writer does not feel at liberty to refuse. He only prays that to some it may be of use. C. F. R.

St. Louis, February 26, 1878.

I am to speak to you to-night, at the courteous request of the pastor of this church, on the history and claims of the body which is known in this country as the Protestant Episcopal Church. It has been represented to me that there is a wide desire to have a definite and positive statement on these matters. What I shall say will not be in the spirit of controversy, but a contribution, as just and fair-minded as possible, towards the elucidation of a matter which must, for all thoughtful persons, be possessed of deep interest. I do not, of course, affect to be wholly impartial in my judgments on this subject. My affections, and the habits of reading, and cast of thought of all my mature years, give, of course, a degree of bias to my views. The time at my disposal and my disposition will incline me to state, with all possible conciseness, positive facts and conclusions, rather than to wander off to attack the belief of others.


As a Churchman, I hold that the origin of the Church and of all its characteristic features of belief and life are divine; and that in it, to an extent not found in any ether communion, the conditions are supplied, which are demanded alike by an historic inquiry, and for the maintenance of a broad, healthy and enduring Christian life. Still, of course, it goes without saying, that there [3/4] have been and are religious experiences, nourished altogether without our fold, which have been of the saintliest character, and, in comparison with which, much of our own average Christian living is poor and cheap.

I speak, too, with a full sense of the magnitude of the theme which is to engage our attention. I do not conceal from myself the fact that the Church is but a means to an end greater and higher than itself, even the blessing and saving of men in Christ for a better and purer life here and hereafter.


But we are not compelled to explain or defend the existence of the Church on any a priori grounds. We find it at the very threshold of the Gospel founded and equipped, in all the essentials of an organized, visible and permanent body, by its Divine Head and Master. Furnished with officers; with initiatory and other rites and sacraments; with a definite faith into which neophytes were to be engrafted; with a pattern and definite principles of life by which its adherents were to be distinguished; with a power of discipline by which the unworthy were to be cast forth from its communion with a promise of the Divine presence with it evermore even unto the end of the world; thus the Church appears as an organized, concrete fact at the outset, in the sacred writings.

It is the body of Christ; the company of the faithful; in the world and of the world, and yet above the world; the agent under its Divine Master, and during His absence for carrying on His work; made up of sinful men and women, and yet animated with a divine life; the pillar and ground of the truth; the keeper and the witness of holy writ, the body which antedates the Scriptures and which has guarded their safety and purity all through the ages; the flock into which are folded those who in [4/5] penitence are longing to lead a better life; and in which, under divine sanctions, all their good impulses and energies are to be organized and directed to the widest result. According to the Apostle's figure, even in his day, it was a body, visible, ordered and compacted, and with distributed functions, at work already, blessing, elevating and reforming the disordered relations of individual and social life.

We start with the Church, therefore, as a fact in history, and not as the last term of an intellectual process; founded and equipped by Christ for its work, and already in the times of His Apostles entering as a factor into social questions.

As, according to our Lord's words, "all power had been given to Him," so He gives of His fullness to those whom He had chosen to be His Apostles. "Even so send I you; go ye into all the world, and make disciples." They fill up their number upon their Master's departure, and, after Pentecost, inflamed with zeal, go forth to the work for which they had been commissioned. Out of the plenitude of their power, the Apostles, as the actual needs arose, developed the lower orders of Deacon, and Elder or Priest. We already see in the Epistles references to the prayers, and to the beginnings of a liturgical system, to which indeed most of the new converts had been accustomed, in temple worship, and also to a body of beliefs called the faith, the amplification of the formula of baptism given by Christ.


The Apostles, accompanied by other Christian ministers, using the courses of trade, went forth in the enlarged numbers to which their widening work had compelled them, and with practical good sense first planted the Church strongly in the larger cities, and organized their converts in them into Churches, under their own headship, in thorough unity and communion [5/6] with each other, but with entire local independence otherwise. Thus the Churches spread in other directions as well, but forth also from Asia Minor, westwardly along the shores of the Mediterranean sea, compassing-Greece, reaching Rome, and carried by St. Paul himself to Spain or beyond.


Time will not allow me to elaborate the proof of the fact, which the New Testament gives presumptively its voice for, and which all the authorities for 400 years after Christ, and most nearly contemporaneous with the sacred writers attest, that all Bishops, by which name, after the Apostles' death, the chief ministers came to be called, in the Church as such had equal authority. Very soon, for evident reasons, those Bishops over the larger cities came to have an influence greater than those who presided over the smaller places; just as, with us, the Bishop of New York, while no more a Bishop, would be more deferred to than the Bishop of Little Rock.


And so, too, as Bishops increased, for convenience, one Bishop was conceded a precedence. He, the Bishop, of the largest or oldest See, convened the Synod, and presided at its sessions. In this way at length Archbishops were created.

And so, as Archbishops became more numerous, a primacy among them grew up, and Metropolitans arose;. and of these at length five of the oldest and largest sees became Patriarchates. And of these, in the Western Church, which concerns us mainly, the one Patriarch,, as being the Bishop of the capital of the empire, and of a Church founded by the Apostles, was the Bishop of Rome.

Notice the feature which was from the beginning: the-equality, as such, of all the Bishops. As Cyprian, at [6/7] the close of the third century, declared: "Episcopatus unus est, cujus a singulis in solidum pars tenetur," or, as St. Jerome at the end of the fourth century affirms: "Whenever there is a Bishop, whether at Rome, or at Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, or Tani, he is of the same worth. Neither the power of riches, nor the humility of poverty, maketh a Bishop to be higher or lower; they are all successors of the Apostles."

And then note also the subsequent gradations of honor and convenience among the Bishops, occasioned by the growth of the Church. In this way the Church in Rome and the Bishop of Rome, as being in the seat of wealth and power, came to have accorded to them a primacy of honor; while yet, for hundreds of years, any encroachment upon their rights was, even by the near Italian Bishops, stoutly resisted.


The Church always took out early charter parties on the ships which thought they sailed wholly for commerce. The gospel which came into Gaul, or France, from Asia Minor within fifty years after the death of St. John, spread from thence into Britain. There comes out of the early records the fact that, as Britain was an important colony, with which for centuries trade with the East had been maintained for its tin and other products, so there, possibly in the first century, certainly in the second or third, Christianity had been firmly established. And it was, in our first glimpses of it, organized of course after the apostolic pattern, with Bishops, and dioceses, and gradations in the ministry. At the Council of Arles, in 314, we find three Bishops in attendance, one from each of the civil provinces of England,


I draw attention to the interesting fact that [7/8] Christianity, as it had come from the East to Rome, and as in. Rome, for the first century or more, was Eastern, as shown by the language of its formularies and the names of its Bishops; so I say Christianity came to Britain, not from Rome, but from the older Christian centers in Asia Minor. The proof of this is complete, although perhaps of a nature which could be best seen by an illustration. We find traces in the words and local names in England showing a Celtic, a Danish, a Saxon and a Norman origin; and we find, in this, proof of the successive incursions and domination of these peoples. In the architecture of St. Mark's, Venice, we see broadly the marks of the Byzantine style, in entire contrast with the use in the other Italian cities; and in Spain we come upon the well-known characteristics of Moorish art. And the evidence of this is absolute in our minds of close mercantile intimacy in the one case, and of conquest in the other. We read off the history in the monuments which are left.


And just so, to one who has studied the matter of liturgies, there are certain marks which denote what has been the origin and history of the liturgy that is used in any country. The Gallican liturgy, so-called, or that of St. John and of Ephesus, was markedly different from the Roman liturgy. The constituent parts were different, and there was a different arrangement.

Now, when the Bishop of Rome, the Gregory who repudiated the title of universal Bishop, at the close of the sixth century, sent Augustine to convert the Britains, Augustine found the Church already established there, and furnished with Bishops, and in the use of a liturgy wholly different from the one in which he had been accustomed. In the matter of the time at which Easter was kept, and the rites of baptism, and in several other things, Augustine found a church possessing the ground, which, by its liturgy, showed that it [8/9]


From that from which he came. And when Augustine desired that the British Bishops should acknowledge him as their head, as coming from the Bishop of Rome, they sturdily refused, and asserted their own independence. When, coming to the Synod, they found that Augustine received them sitting, they resented the affront, and said that " the British Chuches owe the deference of brotherly kindness and charity to the Church of God, and to the Pope of Rome, and to all Christians. But other obedience than this they did not know to be due to him whom they called Pope."


The first century had not passed before we see what a ferment, not merely spiritual, but also intellectual, was produced by the life and teachings of our Lord. Different views were taken of the mighty questions which were soon found to be wrapped up in the person and mission of Jesus Christ. Views hardened into parties, and the parties came to think that they had an exclusive monopoly of the truth. And herein arose heresies, which word signifies the seizing of a portion or a phase of the truth, and holding it as though it were the whole. In this emergency the Church, as the guardian of the Holy Scripture, and the witness to the truth, found itself called upon to draw forth into more precise language, to meet new forms of error, the faith which had once for all been delivered.

And so, as Christianity had now become the recognized religion of the empire, the Emperor, in the year 325, summoned Bishops from all parts of the then Christianized world to meet in Council at Nice, in Asia Minor, not to devise new terms of belief, but to bear witness as to what had evermore been held with regard to the person and nature of our Lord, in their several dioceses.

The Church, in referring, as it does, frequently to [9/10] early authorities, does not by this imply that, as being-older, they were better in their lives, or more likely to be correct in commenting upon the Scriptures. The Church uses them simply as witnesses, and of value as giving the meaning, as held at the time, of disputed questions. This is constantly done in the interpretation of the law. A dispute is had over the meaning of a law; neither side will accept the understanding of the other. It is, then, of critical importance to secure a witness contemporary, or as nearly so as possible, to testify as to what was then understood by the terms in question. He may be learned otherwise or not; he may have erroneous opinions on other subjects; but this does not injure his value as a witness.

This was precisely the case with the General Councils. In the disputes which had arisen, the Bishops, reflecting the entire sense of the Christian Church as to what was the understanding of the faith, assembled to bear witness as to what the real sense from the beginning had been. This was next to having Christ and the Apostles again on earth to explain the terms which they had used. They could import no new meaning into the faith; that was complete Their office was only to unwrap what was already in it.

And so the undogmatic Apostles's Creed was supplemented by the Creed of Nicaea, as this was completed at the later Council of Constantinople, in 381.


But it may be asked how this formulation of the faith into this authoritative symbol can be distinguished from the putting forth of new dogmas from age to age, by the process, as it is called, of development? I say that the development which is thought to justify the Pope in adding new definitions to the deposit of the faith is an increase of revealed truth itself; while the other is a more explicit statement, made and received by the entire, undivided Church, of truth, already, once for all, revealed by God.

[11] The child's face widens out into the features of a man but that is no legitimate growth which would add features never known in the child, the deformity of a second1 nose or a third eye, of which there had before been no hint. Development is an addition of what did not heretofore-exist as revealed truth; the action of the Church in putting forth its creed at the beginning was the normal unfolding of what had ever existed in the germ.

The precept, "Be ye merciful," had in its seed-shell all the ameliorating laws which have been enacted since. The declaration by Jesus of His oneness with the Father called forth, when the occasion arose, all the definitions of the creed.

There is a wide margin left; the Church does not define on every minute point; but, with liberty of opinion as to matters beyond, on the great fundamental facts of the creed, the Church proposes no newer terms of communion or salvation than had existed from the beginning; and in standing on its historical creeds it appeals from the reason of the individual--be he the private Christian or the Pope--up to the consenting voice of the entire Church, the body of Christ, in which are gathered up in their fullness the gifts of the Spirit.


It was at this first General Council at Nice that the canon was passed which assures the independence of national churches, by securing that all matters relating to the ordination of Bishops shall be settled in their respective provinces. And so in the Second General Council, of Constantinople, Bishops were forbidden to enter upon churches without their borders, and so bring in confusion. This same tendency to usurpation was denounced at the Fourth General Council, at which an honorary primacy was declared to be accorded to Rome, because it was the imperial city, with the second place of honor given to Constantinople, as being the new capital, with no mention of any original or divinely instituted pre-eminence. As [11/12] though conscious of this restricted right--as no one, of course, has ever assumed to show that Britain was in the province of Rome--Gregory, in sending Augustine to England, and directing him to create two Metropolitans, the one to confirm the appointment of the other, ordered that the confirmation of the Roman See was not to be waited for. And, as a mere matter of history, up to the twelfth century only two of the Archbishops of Canterbury had been consecrated by the Bishop of Rome.


Of course, during the middle ages the Church shared the ignorance of the times. It was, in the midst of the violence, and rudeness, and ignorance of those days, a humanizing, elevating and spiritualizing agency. In the vast task of converting and Christianizing the vast hordes of barbarians, it imbibed many superstitions; its tone became lowered; its ritual became ornate and tawdry; pious fancies gradually hardened into an accumulating mass of strange beliefs.


In the war of kings against kings, bishops against bishops, and the princes against the Church, appeals were constantly being made to the Bishop of Rome to act as umpire in their disputes. Precedent soon hardens into law, and each litigant would outvie the other in pledges of devotion, and in laudations of the power whose favor they besought. History shows the gradual, steady rise of assumption and concession.


With this, constantly, on the other hand, were the protests against their invaded rights, made not merely by the Bishops and Archbishops, but also by the Kings of England, as well as by those of other countries. Did time permit, examples might be cited in every century against the intrusion of legates, against appeals being [12/13] taken to the Pope out of the kingdom, against the introduction of Papal candidates for bishoprics, to the prejudice of the original rights of the diocesan and provincial synods; against the accumulation of property, which paid no taxes, in the hands of Italian ecclesiastics beyond the realm.


The movement which we call the Reformation did not arise by accident, nor from any one cause, not did it belong to one nation, or to a single century. Confining ourselves to Britain, on its secular side, it was a movement of self-assertion on the part of the now consolidated Kingdom of England, after the War of the Roses, against the tendency to establish an imperium in imperio, to withdraw property from its liability to the State, and persons from amenability to the laws. The statutes of provisors, praemunire and mortmain, which broke the Pope's power in England, were the retaliatory acts of a civil power which found all its resources being filched away.

On its intellectual side the Reformation was largely caused by the ferment which was occasioned by the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in the middle of the fifteenth century, and the invention of printing shortly after. The taking of the Eastern metropolis scattered through Europe learned Greeks, who multiplied and quickened interest in the study of the manuscripts of the Greek Testament and the early Fathers. Then the printing press multiplied the copies of the newly-found Scriptures, and quickly drove out the monkish legends which for ages had been the sole religious reading of the people. There could not fail to result from all this a discontent with, and at length a repudiation, of, what was seen to have become such a caricature of the simple religion of Jesus Christ.

We are all, perhaps, better acquainted with the religious causes leading to the Reformation; of the [13/14] corruptions in morals of clergy and people; of the pernicious effects following upon certain doctrines, especially, perhaps, those of indulgences and the celibacy of the clergy. The need of reform was so urgent, and the call for it was so wide, that the demand could not be paltered with. Long before any open rupture in England, the Councils of Pisa and Florence, of Basle and Constance, called by the Popes to effect reforms, showed that they saw how urgent the crisis for the Church had become.


In England the general movement was precipitated by the imperious temper of King Henry VIII, who, in the question of divorce from his wife, broke with the Pope in the matter of ecclesiastical causes being carried out of the kingdom for settlement. The sturdy, English, Tudor temper could not brook the concessions which had been tamely submitted to by Stephen and John. Starting from this there were other resistances in matters more distinctly religious; but in doctrinal matters, as Henry was still substantially at one with the Pope, there were, during his reign, no changes beyond the rendering of the Litany and some simple manuals into English.

But the Bishops, and clergy generally, conformed to the resistance made to the Pope, in behalf of the obedience due and always rendered--except for a comparatively short period--to their ecclesiastical head, the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was, it ought to be distinctly understood, no break nor lapse, as has been sometimes supposed. When occasional vacancies occurred, others were ordained with the forms unchanged, except with headship pledged to their King and Archbishop, instead of the Pope.

Under Edward the Reformation as a religious movement became more assured, and in 1549 the Prayer Book was set forth in English, being compiled in large [14/15] part from the ancient service books of the Church, portions dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries and earlier. It has been revised since several times, but it is substantially the same book now as then.


There was naturally much sympathy between the German and English reformers in their common opposition to the corruptions and usurpations of the Roman power; but while in Germany, Switzerland and Prance the movement broke away from all local ecclesiastical moorings, and failed to ally itself to any of the Bishops, and so, to a large extent, became individual and sporadic; in England the movement was national and organized, and had the leadership of those who rightly bore rule in the Church. In the other countries doctrinal reform was, in the first instance, sought, with less regard to regularity, and the continuity of authority; but in England while, as has been proved, the faith was quite as well conserved, all care was taken to guard sacredly the transmission of ministerial authority.

During the short reign of Mary the royal power was used to stamp out, so far as it was able, the purpose of reform; many were put to death, and numbers of the Bishops, who would not yield, resorted to the continent, returning, however, so soon as Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558. In her time the Reformation in England became thoroughly settled and permanent. A sufficient number of Bishops, ordained in the earlier reigns, and the validity of whose orders could not therefore be questioned, united in the consecration of the Archbishop and other Bishops, the records of which, fortunately, are as exact and full as that of any State transaction.


In 1554, Pope Julius III, in his brief to Cardinal Pole, had said that the only thing required for the Bishops in England, in the "use of the gift of consecration already [15/16] bestowed upon them," as he conceded, was that they should be reconciled to him. In 1560, Pope Pius XV made overtures for a reconciliation, offering to accept the English Reformation and approve of the Prayer Book, on condition of the recognition of his supremacy, acknowledging that the book contained nothing contrary to the truth, while it comprehended all that is necessary to salvation. In the next year the same Pope sent another Nuncio to Elizabeth, urging her to send Bishops to the Council of Trent, and assuring her of giving them such satisfaction as might open the way to a further accommodation. She declined, declaring- that it was the Emperor's, and not the Pope's, privilege to call a Council, and that she did not think that Prelate had any authority above another Bishop.


It was not until 1570, in the eleventh year of Elizabeth's reign, and after all these attempted overtures had failed, that the Pope denounced Elizabeth, and set up his separate congregations in England. That is the date of the origin of the present intruding Roman Church in England, which has schismatically set up hostile altars in the midst of a Church, the validity of whose ministry their own Popes have repeatedly acknowledged. It is not of the last importance, of course, what the Roman Church thinks of our orders; and the matter would not have justified even this mention, except as the foolish Nag's Head fable, invented sixty years after the events themselves, repudiated by their more intelligent historians, continues even still in obscure quarters to be revamped.

Certainly Julius III, and Paul IV, and Cardinal Pope, acting with their sanction, did accept English orders under Mary's reign without reordination by whatever ordinal conferred, whenever the person so ordained submitted and was reconciled to the Pope. Cardinal [16/17] Wiseman, it may suffice to say, laid all objections aside and rested his case against the English Church on the ground of jurisdiction. Du Pin, the great Roman historian, felt no difficulty as to its jurisdiction. Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux, declared that the "very late monition that Bishops receive their jurisdiction from the Pope, and are, as it were, vicars of him, ought to be banished from Christian schools as unheard of for twelve centuries."


It was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth that English churchmen in large numbers came to this country. They had their clergymen, who, before the Revolution were under the charge of the Bishop of London, who sent over from time to time commissaries to represent him. Persons to be ordained had to resort to England, and confirmation, of course, could not be administered. Several efforts were made before the Revolution, but to no purpose, to induce the consecration of Bishops for this country. Naturally, discipline was very much relaxed. While, for several causes, there was much popular prejudice against the old Church on account of its supposed affiliation with England, it was found, when the emergency arose, that a very large proportion of those whose names appear on the Declaration of Independence, and who deserved well of their country in the field, had received their religious instruction from the Prayer Book.


No sooner, however, had the Revolutionary war closed than, in 1784, representatives from the scattered Church congregations assembled, and then--and in more formal Conventions afterward--took order for the revision of the Liturgy, to meet the altered circumstances of the Church in this country, and to secure from England a properly constituted succession of authority. With the [17/18] declaration that the Church here did not propose to depart from the Church in England in any essential point of doctrine or worship, the Liturgy was made more simple, and adapted to this national Church. The connection with the State being but an accidental feature, the entire absence of it here did not affect the intercommunion of the Churches. Dr. Seabury was consecrated Bishop in Scotland in 1784, and Drs. "White, Provoost and Madison in London--the first two in 1787, and the last in 1790--and from these the bishops and clergy in this country jhave derived their orders. It was the ship which brought the fourth of these bishops back to this country which brought the first Roman Catholic Bishop here. And it was to the second of these, Bishop Whitey to whom the first Methodist Bishop, Dr. Coke, applied to receive what he conceived to be a more valid consecration.

The Church, therefore, which was associated with the beginning of our national history, to which, in 1629, the Pilgrims, looking back, called their "Dear mother, from whose bosom," they said, "they had received what part and hope they had obtained in the common salvation;" the Church whose services were the first ever held in New England and Virginia, and the petitions of whose Prayer Book formed the first prayer in Congress; this Church, organized, rehabilitated, squared itself to its vast work in this land with the very birth of our national life.

Without any strained effort to that end, its legislative action was conformed closely to the pattern of our National and State Legislatures; so that, to the completeness of all common action, the presence and the concurrence of all the orders, bishops, clergy and laity, are required, with balanced, distributed and constitutional responsibilities and safeguards.


So accordant have all the principles of the Church [18/19] seemed with the genius of our American life, as otherwise its spirit has been so high and conservative that the natural result, has followed. As in all our communities, a noticeably large proportion of the cultured and dominant persons are attached to the old Church, and find the religious nurture that their tastes and principles crave in the historic body which has been at home in all the ages; so, too, those who in this country have borne rule and been representative men have, with a curious unanimity, come forth from those whose piety found its best expression in the Prayer Book.

Of the Continental Congress, from Peyton to Randolph, the majority of its presidents were Churchmen. Washington, and two-thirds of the Presidents of the United States since his day, have been Churchmen. The same has been true of three-fourths of all the Secretaries of State. The most eminent and influential of all our statesmen have been the same; Franklin, Clinton, Jay, Morris, Livingston, Patrick Henry, Hoffman, Schuyler, Randolph, Duane, Wirt, Cass, Clay, Benton, Webster. To say that the same is true of the commanders of our army and navy would be to catalogue the names of almost every one who has attained to eminence. The Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, from John Jay and John Marshall down to Justice Waite, have generally been Churchmen.

All this did not come by accident. The Church's training, its decent, orderly, reverent worship, and the width and moderation of its principles, call forth and develop those virtues that the stability and progress of the State demand. They are, too, a constant attraction to those who, having been reared under other influences, come at length to recognize in the Church that age, and poise, and unaffected piety, and facilities for religious culture and breadth of principle, for which they had long been groping around for an exponent. The Church [19/20] has certainly been proved to be the nursing mother of brave men and statesmen.


In adapting itself to its proper work, the Church has conformed itself for convenience to the civil division of the country into States and Territories. In each of these is the old ecclesiastical unit of the diocese, with, its bishop and diocesan organization for missionary and charitable work. This arrangement has been modified in the larger States, by the necessity for their subdivision into several dioceses, as it has appeared that the business of oversight has been too great for a single bishop to perform. New York, for instance, has five dioceses, Pennsylvania and Illinois have three, and in several States there are two dioceses each.

The Western Territories, too, are grouped into jurisdictions, under the care of missionary bishops, who are chosen and sustained by the whole Church. With a comprehensive care the whole extent of the United States is under the oversight of some one or other of the bishops of the Church, and that connection being for life, there ensues an intimacy of acquaintance with the wants and resources of the jurisdiction which greatly increases their usefulness and influence.


Now, here is the Church in this land. On what does it base its claim, in the presence of the clear, sharp intelligence of the time, to the adhesion of those who, desirous of reaching the highest ends of life here and hereafter, would desire to find the home in which there are the fullest conditions for cultivating the religious character? Where can be had, amid the din and trouble of life, a sense of the peace and rest of duty best fulfilled?


I answer, in the first place, that this old Church [20/21] commends itself to the historical sense, which is present in everyone to a degree, but which becomes stronger as the intelligence of a community increases, and it is seen that all life is not gathered up in the present moment. I say, therefore, that this Church being the historical body, which has, amid all the vicissitudes of the ages, maintained a visible, unbroken unity with the Church of the middle and Apostolic ages, and, as such, the only body which has in this land maintained the simple faith of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as terms of communion; and which has entered upon and possesses with indefeasible right the memories, and traditions, and wealth of precedents and worship of that long past; such a Church, I say, possessed of such singular advantages, has a vast presumption on its side. It is, of course, an inheritance of corresponding responsibilities, no less than privileges; but I am ready to affirm that the Church is measurably meeting those responsibilities.


We look forth anxiously upon the evils in the world, individual and social, for which the religion of Jesus Christ proposes the only ultimate and sufficing remedies. We have a yearning sympathy with those well meant efforts at reform, which, however, we know must be imperfect and short lived; because they do not go deep enough to find the true causes of the evil, nor do they in proposing remedies, furnish motives which are abiding. In this hunger and thirst, therefore, to be of use, it has been again and again seen how men have lost in not allying their efforts with the order, and methods, and sanctions of the Church. Not in a scattering, diffusive, guerilla warfare for reform and against sin will, in the end, the greatest good be done, even with the most in tense zeal and with the best of motives. It will rather come to more, although perhaps with less demonstration, when, recognizing the ultimate cause of any special form of sin in the alienation of affection from [21/22] God, we seek to arouse to a better life in this, as in all other matters, by presenting Christ most affectingly as the truth, and the way, and the life; by using the old means of grace; by working in an authorized sphere and within historic lines.

It is, therefore, with this thought in mind, not merely for the Church's sake, but for the high, sacred work that we all desire most effectually to accomplish, that I affirm that we shall not be free from responsibility if we disregard the increment of our power, which will come from the alliance of our efforts to do good, with the Church of Christ, which alone in this land holds, without addition or diminution, the faith of the Apostles with the order of the Apostles, and is in historic connection with the Church of the New Testament.

The bishop of Louisiana was telling me of a conversation which he had with some Methodist ministers in a town on the Mississippi river where a Conference had been held. They were saying that they were all engaged in the same work, and seeking the same heaven, and, after all, it didn't make much difference which way they took to get there. The river was out of its banks, and was tearing along its destructive course over the country toward the Gulf. The Bishop simply replied: "All this water is going to the Gulf, but it does make some difference how it gets there. A river is always most usefully employed when it keeps within its banks."


He would indeed be a rash man who would speak in this matter beyond what the word of God, or the well considered standards of this Church would warrant. I thank God for all the work doing for his honor and for the good of men, even by those who walk not with us. I use no words of denunciation or proscription. Such are foreign to the spirit, and may be looked, in vain for among the utterances of this Church. To their own Master they stand or fall who seem to have broken the unity of the Church [22/23] or added to the faith which was once for all delivered. I do not determine their cause; while, however, I must affirmatively declare that grave suggestions of duty lie in the fact that our Lord did establish a Church on earth which he designed to be the home of his faithful ones; that he prayed that it evermore might be one, and those who caused divisions in it were to be marked; and that that Church, with its old historic notes, is still existing here, doing its evangelical work.

"Christian theology," as an eminent Presbyterian divine recently said, "must have its roots in the past, and its life from above, if it is to bear those leaves which are for the healing of the nations. Theology divorced from history runs out into bare abstractions, and history separated from theology becomes naturalistic and humanitarian. The marriage of the two makes theology more real and history to be sacred."

This Church, therefore, emphasizes the idea of the unity of the Church; it gathers up and retains the results of the religious life of the past; it represents the Christian life, not as disconnected and only individual, but as running back to Christ and his Apostles.


Another reason for which eminently this Church stands forth and claims the adhesion of men, is because of the satisfaction which it supplies to the devotional wants of our nature. This is not a feature which can be manufactured and put on arbitrarily, like paper flowers on a Christmas tree. A Liturgy can not be made; it grows. This feature, therefore, is an efflorescence of the historical life of the Church. By this mention of worship I do not mean to undervalue the power and results of preaching, the advantages of which others share in common with us. But a feature which, perhaps, stands most in our way with those who are strangers to the Church is that which afterward is most highly valued; [23/24] and that is the restfulness, and the capacity for deep, fervent, religious expression, furnished in the Church's Liturgy, with its accessories of the Christian year, and the appointments to which the churchman is accustomed. The mode in which the public devotion of God's people before our Lord's time had been rendered by--prearranged forms--was, by a natural presumption,, that into which the later Christian practice fell, and which has, until comparatively recent times, been the universal method. And now, together with those which the Holy Scripture furnish, the liturgical treasures of the Church have, as the ages have gone on, been continually enriching, the best, by the survival of the fittest, being retained; so that our services are a resultant of all the experience of the past. We are using as the vehicles of our aspirations, our penitence, and our intercessions, prayers, litanies, hymns, which have the added consecration of having been used by those who had seen the face of their Lord, by those who were sealing their faith by their blood.


We would have to be dull, indeed, if the sentiment of noblesse oblige, of being in the use of such precious heirlooms, did not tend to elevate the worship, and make those who used it more gentle, and reverent, and of finer perceptions as to what is due from man to God. It is a matter of common experience how the entrance of the Church's services into a place have an influence all through the community, to raise and dignify the ideas-and habits of worship. We all of us know how certain portions of the Church's service, particularly for marriage, and burial, have, on account of their beauty and impressiveness, come to be used widely outside of our own borders. The calm, impersonal burial service has been a vast help in raising the thought of the [24/25] resurrection up out of the weak sentiment which otherwise is apt to surround the grave.

And yet, with all this, the worship of the spirit is a worship of the understanding also. There is no turning the back upon the present as though the highest wisdom was only to look back into and use the language of the past. All is done in a language understanded of the people, in a Saxon so terse and vigorous, as makes the Prayer Book one of the classics of the language.


And, as adding to the effect of all this, the Church has always planted herself on the principle--and this, too, at a time when it was not yet popular to do it--that it was legitimate to use for the worship of God all those-adjuncts which will solemnize the mind and prepare it for a ready entrance of the truths of God. Music, therefore, the most tender and elevating, architecture the most majestic and commanding, vestments appropriate to the offices of the divine worship, are used as worthy aids to the devotions of the people. The Holy Scriptures are read through every year in orderly course, that all may gain a well proportioned and balanced knowledge of the divine oracles. The child is received into the family of God, and being trained up there to a pious youth, by means which the Church provides, is confirmed by Apostolic blessing, and thus, soberly and intelligently, is admitted to the communion of the Church. Helps all along the way--the gathered wisdom of this "heir of all the ages in the foremost files of time"--are all furnished for the use of the struggling, faithful, but favored servant of God.


And no inefficient aid in this is the Christian year, which transfigures the common calendar of time, and makes it the illumined panorama of the life of our [25/26] Lord, alternating its brightness of Christmas, and Easter, and the Whitsuntide, with the sombre shades of its Lents and Good Fridays. About this Sun of our Righteousness, the central Luminary of the Church's whole system, we go every twelve months, gazing at the wondrous sight of that Divine Life, and appropriating, as one feature after the other of it comes forward, the warmth and the glow of that example and those teachings.

Only those who have tried it can understand what vividness and opportunities are afforded to religious influence by the recurring seasons of the Christian year, what full orbed symmetry they tend to give to spiritual culture. And with what distinctness they strike the imagination, and lay hold of the affection of children and others may be seen in the wide, if only partial, but still steadily growing appropriation of the advantages of the system by many who formerly were violently opposed to it.


I name, also, as another feature by which the Church challenges the adhesion of men, the breadth and inclu-siveness of the fundamental articles of its belief. The test by which, in respect of their faith, men are confronted, when they seek admission to its fold, is belief in the articles of the Christian faith, as contained in the Apostles' Creed. I name with all emphasis this note, while at the same time drawing a sharp distinction between this tolerance and an indifference to all fixed principles. It comes of the fact that this is the historical Church, which antedates all sect divisions, that it conditions the reception of its spiritual privileges upon a devout belief in those basal verities which were affirmed from the beginning, and upon these alone; there being supplied, of course, a godly penitence, and purpose to lead a new life.

[27] The faith was once for all delivered; it cannot be added to or diminished from. The terms of salvation, which were sufficient at the beginning, ought to suffice now. The voice which speaks from the city church or the country chapel, admitting to spiritual fellowship, is the voice of the same old Church, which was old when the new terms, formulated at Trent, and Geneva, and Westminster, and Dort, were first proposed. As against the tendency to adjust and readjust the creed, whether this be by Papal decree and council, or by the illumination of Swedenborg or Mormon, or by the caprice of some popular preacher, this Church respects its own history, and the natural rights of men, and proposes the same terms now as of old.


There is a broad difference between belief and opinion in religion, and the Church recognizes and respects it. As to the belief, in which all must agree, as a pledge to God and a concordat with each other, the terms must be few if the Church is to be one; for historically each new refinement has produced a new sect. And the terms must be very simple and intelligible, if the Church is to be catholic and include those of untechnical knowledge. To use philosophical terms is to exclude from the Church simple persons, or to make their profession of belief an unreality.

Beyond our articles of belief is the region of opinion, in which Churchmen may allowably differ among themselves. Of course the natural result of this is an apparent divergence into schools of thought, which to many persons outside of us is inconsistent with the idea of the unity of the Church.


But unity is one thing and uniformity is another. Certainly the more intensely the sect spirit prevails, the [27/28] greater a precision in details of belief, and worship, and1 life will be sought for and found. But just as in nature, under the same genus, along with a general unity of life and form, there is scarcely ever to be found a precise duplication of details, so in the Church the ideal is unity in the faith, together with human diversities of opinion dwelling peaceably together in the same household.

For the lack of perception of this the newspapers of the land, before each of our General Conventions, have proclaimed that now for certain the old Church was about to be rent in twain; as, in their experience, it was-not possible in a body where schools of thought so freely spoke out their minds that there could still be unity. They little knew the Church. So far from dividing, along with strong expressions of personal convictions, love for the old Church, the roof-tree under which they had been reared, and enjoyed their constitutional liberties; a love for the old Prayer Book, in which each one found his chartered rights, glowed brightly, and burned up all minor differences, and the Church was one in a better sense than ever.

I do not argue for this inclusiveness as though it were a feature of the Church which had been invented or imported into it on purpose. I only draw attention to it, and ask your admiration of it, as a necessary note of the historic Church. With us it is not optional; it could not be otherwise. With our past we could not shrink into the proportions or the habits of a sect. Within our fold dwell now at peace many who had their training in narrower places, but who have now all the best that they want of their old past, and more with it.


The alternative to this is that the mind on which is imposed, as of equal sacredness, the primal, revealed verities, and all the refinements of theological subtlety, little matters and great equally de fide, will revolt at [28/29] everything. The weak will be abject devotees; the strong will believe in nothing. You may have heard of the Minister of Marine in France, who stared with surprise when it was suggested that a chaplain should be attached to a certain ship of war. " Why," said he, "there are to be no women on board."


As following from this I name, as the only other feature which I will emphasize, and which might well justify the attention of thoughtful men, that the type of character and life which the Church's system normally produces is one which cannot but be deemed attractive and elevated. And this, not from any one or two causes, but from the combined influence of all those features of which I have before spoken. And I need hardly remind you that this after all is the supreme test of any system; not, in the first instance, what its belief or worship is, but what is the quality of life which is its unconscious outcome.

I do not stop to say that many characters, reared beyond our influence, rise far above those of many Churchmen who do not appropriate widely their advantages. But you will bear with my, perhaps partial, judgment, when I state my conviction that the manifold felicities of the Church's system tend, in a wide view, to produce an average of character which is exceptionally high.

Test this by the examples of those in whom these influences have had full sway; test it by the type of civilization and life where the Church has its strength. There is stalwart piety, and yet without cant; there is faith, and yet independence; there is religion yoked with and glorifying art, and giving it its fairest fields, and incentives for development; there are motives of action placed high and securely in the next life, and yet without sacrificing duties and culture in this. There is engrossment in present life, and yet such a resting [29/30] upon the past as gives an easy poise, and represses the restless, assertive and parvenu spirit of the day. It binds the generations together with the golden cord of religious care, by the vow which the parent makes on behalf of the child at the font. It furnishes the channels into which the daily devotions of its people may flow, and gives incentives for their exercise.


What better pattern for a steadfast, enduring, practical, every-day religion can be furnished than that which has for hundreds of years been supplied by the English nation?--with its quiet, humble, earnest piety among the men no lass than among the women; glorifying, and at home in the highest stations as well as the lowest; with the parish priest, of the best of their people, passing in and out for all his lifetime, the trusted counselor, the revered friend. You all remember the warm eulogium uttered in that unexpected quarter, by Father Hyacinthe, upon the superior sanctity of the English Sunday, and how he inferred all of the sturdy, intrepid virtues of that nation from its sacred observance of that day; predicting that there never could come stability to France until the like reverence should be shown there.


Wherever the Anglo-Saxon race has found its way, on continent and island of the sea, there, in some branch of it, is found this Church, the Church, by eminence, of that forceful race with which lies so largely the destinies of the world.


I have thus, with such brevity as was possible, complied with the invitation to speak on the history and claims of this old, historic Church. It has been necessary, [30/31] in doing so, to lead your thoughts through many countries and times far different from our own. Like the great river which sweeps majestically past our city, and which, while it has been steadily flowing, has witnessed the rise and passing away of races and civilizations almost forgotten; so this old Church, whose daily services and work are so familiar, has been quietly and steadily uttering its prayers, bearing its witness, executing its Master's commission, from the day of Pentecost until now--flowing through and influencing nations and civilizations now only known in history.


And yet the Church is not old in any sense which: indicates decaying strength or faltering powers. Its Episcopate, Apostolic in authority, and with Apostolic spirit, now numbered by hundreds, is foremost in the van, whether it be at the centres of power and culture, or among the Indians of our Western frontier, or thousands of miles in the interior of Asia or Africa. Its ministers, personally humble, and yet confident in. the commission that they bear, hold forth the love of an atoning and risen Saviour as the only hope of a careless world. Its faithful people in this country alone last year laid on the altars of the Church seven millions of their money as a tribute of their love and devotion.

Strong in its past and with a divine and inappeasable hunger for souls, the Church has yet a still vaster destiny before it in the future, in rallying the scattered forces of Christendom to the primitive faith and Apostolic order: and in presenting before a world, which is impatient of unrealities, a religion which has authority, and is simple, and affecting, and manly.

Project Canterbury