The preacher, on such an occasion as this, has a peculiarly solemn and dignified duty to perform, and yet it should be exceedingly simple in its scope. Not his is it to add anything to the instruction of the Seminary course, not his to enter upon subjects of controversy, not his to essay lofty flights into regions of speculation, or to indulge in rhetorical periods.
The occasion is too holy for some of these, too limited for others.
Here stands a group of young men, well equipped in all those things which human effort can supply, ready of heart, too, and with purpose fully set to do the will of GOD, their faces looking out hopefully over the untried way, their eagerness to start on scarce restrained until the final words are said.
And to them comes an older pilgrim, not so old that he has forgotten or lost all his youthful fire, not so young as to be without much helpful experience. And his words should be simply fraternal words of greeting, of counsel, of warning, of encouragement; telling his younger brethren how the road seems as one gets on, what the difficulties are, why the golden dreams of anticipation so often turn into iron realities or entirely fade away, and how one may keep one's courage, though [3/4] the way seems long and weary, and feet and heart alike be sore.
And it is thus that I desire to address you to-night, my young brothers, as one who comes back a distance to tell you what the journey is, and who, with loins girded and staff in hand, has but a few hurried words to utter ere he starts on again to finish the pilgrimage for himself which you for yourselves are just beginning.
And it is true that there is nothing new to say. What can be rightly said, that shall not be the echo of the Master's words: "Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
The text suggests the topic which may profitably engage our attention. Several times does it occur in the solemn commission of the Prophet Ezekiel:
"Thou, son of man, shall speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; and they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. Speak unto them and tell them, Thus saith the LORD GOD: whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. He that heareth, let him hear, and he that forbeareth, let him forbear."
From which it appears that the aim of the messenger of GOD is not to be success, but fidelity; that to bear faithful witness, whatever the earthly results, is the prophet's one duty and his glory. And I come to tell you that experience fully attests this; that your hopes and anticipations must be modified by it; that your resolutions for the future must be made in view of the warning that inheres in the words of the text; that youthful ideas of what constitutes success must needs be altered as you start on your journey, or else lamentable will be the disappointment, and well nigh unavailing much of the work which you attempt to do.
 Theoretically you may accept the statement, but practically none of us thoroughly endorses it. It is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn. The Church, in innumerable cases, fails to act upon it, and the world utterly scouts the idea, except in poetry and romance. Gore's thoughts are not as ours, His methods far different from the world's, His standard of success as diverse from that of this age of the world as day from night.
How wonderful has always been the victory of GOD by minorities, the carrying on of His plans by witness bearing. From the time of Enoch and Noah, a preacher of righteousness, through the history of Abram, called from Haran to be the progenitor of a chosen seed, through the record of the Patriarchs and the long history of the Jewish people, down to the time of CHRIST: the truth always appearing, that by the minority, by the remnant, by trustees, representatives, witnesses for the truth in the face of a caviling and unbelieving world, GOD gains His victories, establishes His Kingdom, works out His plans.
No better example, nor one more full of comfort, can be given than the LORD JESUS CHRIST Himself, whose ministry we are called upon to share. Surely, if ever a religious teacher could be expected to win a grand success, as the world accounts success, it might well be the wonderful prophet of Nazareth, who spake as never man spake, and who, by His miracles of love and power, could attach to His person and His cause a multitude of followers--increasingly numerous, enthusiastic and influential. Yet there came a day when of the few that companied with Him, all forsook Him and fled, and He stood, abject in appearance, apparently desperate in cause, absolutely friendless and alone before Pilate. And when Pilate asked Him the sneering question, "Art thou a King, then?" you remember His reply, which has consecrated forever every word spoken, every deed done, on the side of truth, though hopelessly ineffectual and even [5/6] ridiculous in the sight of men. The Master answered with marvelous dignity and solemnity, "Thou sayest that I am a King, and my charter of royalty is this: to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth."
Success was His even at that moment of desolation and seeming defeat. Success was His when a few hours later He gave up His precious life, hanging between two malefactors on Calvary. His was the successful cause, although only one hundred and twenty disciples (or at the most, five hundred) were the result of His ministry, even after the resurrection and ascension.
Exhaustless consolation and courage flow forth from this truth concerning our LORD, for we have His own words to assure us, "that the Disciple is not above his Master, but he that is perfect shall be as his Master." As He was "the Son of GOD in disguise," as one has aptly phrased it, so must we, His Church, be in the world, "a Divine Institution in disguise, covered with human and material habiliments, and with spiritual gifts hidden beneath outward signs," not known and recognized naturally by carnal eyes--a witness not generally accepted. [Bishop Seymour.]
And, indeed, what other story can the Church tell of her progress through the centuries? Great as her advance has been, manifold as her triumphs, nevertheless, in this nineteenth century of grace, much more than half of the world still lies in Pagan darkness, while even in Christian lands, here in this metropolis, with its thousands of agencies for good, the great majority remain unconverted, unenlightened, unsaved. The history of the Old Testament repeats itself, a chosen few holding Divine truth as a trust for the rest, and bearing witness to it. The experience of the Head of the [6/7] Church repeated in the members over and over again. Success not to be counted by numbers, but to be judged equivalent to fidelity. Faithfulness of conviction and of utterance, the full measure of duty--whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear.
It is a law of GOD that the means should thus be in reality the end, that the result arrived at and hoped for should, after all, be the means for the attainment of character, which, in the Divine estimation, far overvalues results which men call great.
"All the while, the goal toward which we strain--
Up hill and down, in sunshine and in rain,
Heedless of toil, if so we may attain,
"Is but a hire, a heavenly-set decoy,
To exercise endeavor, full employ
Of every power, which is man's highest joy.
"And work becomes the end; reward the means
To woo us from our idleness and dreams,
And each is truly what the other seems.
"We do not guess the secret sweet device
Which lures us on and upward to the skies,
And makes each toil its own reward and prize.
"To give our little selves to Thee, to blend
Our weakness with Thy strength, O LORD, our friend,
This is life's truest privilege and end."
Much need have we, brethren of the apostolic ministry--much need have we of the comfort and strength which such thoughts convey. There is no system of religion in this land to-day that meets so much prejudice, opposition, hate and malicious misrepresentation as this Church, whose cause we believe to be the cause of CHRIST Himself. I hold it to be one of the clearest proofs of the Divine origin and character of the testimony which we are called upon to bear, that everywhere it is spoken against; because the carnal mind is at enmity only against the [7/8] truth. Logically, the multitude should oppose every religious organization, if all are equally right in their presentation of the Gospel. But every Bishop in a Missionary Diocese (and such pre-eminently is the character of mine) knows full well, by repeated experiences, that no other system than that of the Church arouses direct and widespread opposition in any community.
True as this is, particularly in our newer settlements, it is also true in the larger cities, and even in England, under the very shadow of the English Church. Multitudes flock to the support of the new corner, if he be non-Episcopal. It seems to be taken for granted on every hand, that Christianity is just what these various systems have proclaimed it. And even if men do not actually join the movement, they do not actively oppose it.
Rapid progress is made, multitudes of names are added, immense structures are reared, and we know the general estimate of these things from the unseemly and unworthy comparisons and contrasts of numerals, to which we listen, or which are laboriously compiled and laid before our eyes. As if GOD's truth went by majorities; as if the little band of faithful ones in the upper room at Jerusalem were not the chosen witnesses, notwithstanding the overwhelming might and number of the gainsayers; as if Athanasius contra mundum were not a magnificent sight, instead of a disgrace to Athanasius; as if it were not always to be the Church's glory and privilege to stand by the side of her LORD, always in partibus infidelium, misunderstood, despised, forsaken; and to take His words upon her lips: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear."
Even Matthew Arnold, to whom we should not naturally turn for counsel in such matters, in his lecture on "The Remnant," emphasized a lesson which Christian [8/9] men of small faith and timid spirit might do well to heed.
It so happens, that this Church must necessarily bear witness to truths most unaccustomed and unwelcome to our American religious life. The very office which we hold, an ambassadorship and a priesthood, seems to array itself against the popular idea of personal independence.
The whole system of "the Faith," speaking with authority, and venerable with age, does not appeal to a generation steeped in the notion that truth is only what each one can discover for himself, with many helps, or few helps, or none at all.
The grand conception of an organized Christianity, having its roots deeply embedded in the past, and holding a continuous life through all time, bearing fruit because partaking of the Divine energy, and outlasting every plant, however vigorous, which the Heavenly Father hath not planted; this conception is far from the popular mind, which is well nigh a blank on the subject of historic Christianity.
I affirm, with an emphasis justified by much experience and observation, that the practice of public worship--the very idea of worship--is almost unknown among the masses of the people in the country districts. There is more manifestation of real "religion" among Pagans than among the average congregations assembled for "preaching" at the cross-roads and in the hamlets of the land. The word reverence is apparently obliterated from their vocabulary. The sense of reality in things Divine seems to be almost entirely lacking.
The great doctrine of the Incarnation, the foundation of all true theology and true living, is grievously neglected, if not entirely ignored, in the religious teaching of many Christian pulpits.
The office of the Sacraments is greatly misunderstood, and their value continually depreciated. I frequently [9/10] officiate in houses of worship where neither Baptism nor the LORD's Supper has any visible token of recognition.
There are in Western Pennsylvania (at least) towns of six hundred inhabitants, of whom more than half are unbaptized.
The duty of Christian unity, based upon one LORD, one faith and one baptism, is, as we all know, sadly ignored; yea, sometimes, even bitterly spoken against.
The whole subject of Christian nurture, the grafting into CHRIST, the growing up unto Him, the abiding in Him, the bringing forth fruit; how grotesque and unscriptural are the views concerning it advanced on every hand!
The too common divorce of religion and character, the mistaken and misshapen theories as to the future life; all these, and many more, seem to us far removed from the teaching of the truth.
In a word, the witness which we must bear is totally opposed to the general trend of most of the religious feeling of the community. So that, in addition to the work of contending with sins of every sort, and with the powerful presence of the Roman Church, and with the fancied oppositions of science, and with the arguments of rationalism and philosophy, this Church must overcome prejudice and ignorance and misrepresentation among professedly Christian people, and endure much reviling from every side.
Nevertheless, her message is the same as her "Master's," and "is truth, and is no lie." If not true, we have no commission to preach it, and our lips should be sealed in silence.
The Church is put into the world and commissioned to proclaim CHRIST, but it is her solemn privilege to do much more than that, to represent Him, to bring Him near to men in all His Divine offices, as Prophet, Priest and King, still exercising all those offices in His name, and by their means saving men and bringing them onto perfection.
 The world has largely forgotten Him as still the King whose right it is to reign. The Protestant world seems to be losing more and more the clear apprehension of what His Priesthood involves, while, in the prevalent disregard of the voice of antiquity, the office of CHRIST, as the Prophet of His people, is sadly obscured.
To bear witness to the CHRIST, as now and every day present in the Church, to be and to do exactly that which He did when on the earth, only with greater fulness of blessing for His people, because the Holy Ghost has come and abides; this is the great privilege to which we are called, an honor inestimable, and a grand success, if we be faithful, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear.
Are you prepared to meet the rebuffs of the world, my dear young brethren? Are you willing to accept the Master's definition of success? Are you ready to assume the position, which calls for the exercise of some such steadfastness and faith and self-denial as were manifested by the martyrs, saints and confessors of old?
But mere self-consecration and enthusiasm are not sufficient preparation. There is a certain temper of mind and heart which is the result of a quiet, intelligent Christian outlook over the path about to be attempted--a temper of mind and heart which I beg to commend to you as briefly as possible, and with the utmost earnestness.
The due preparation for that which lies before you, and the ability to accomplish the journey rightly, even unto the end, must come first of all from a true appreciation of the Ordination gift.
"The ministry is a vocation; but before that it is a gift of the Holy Ghost." * "To rise to its level requires an effort that overtasks even the devoutest minds. To bring it down to our own level is the inevitable and often the successful temptation pressing [11/12] heavily upon us all." How, then, do we conceive of it? As a profession, as a calling, as a function? "Is it in reality to us, not only CHRIST's chosen ambassadorship to humanity, but also the living voice of His Eternal Priesthood among men? Is it verily, in our habitual thought, the appointed instrument by which the Holy Ghost brings to bear on this world the hidden power of the world to come? In the long run, the ministry will rise no higher as a practical power than our conception of it; it will take the color, breathe the spirit, wear the garments of those who exercise it. Though of GOD and for GOD, it becomes in our keeping what we are ourselves." Therefore, we must always and consistently magnify our office in our own eyes, and by GOD's grace stir up the gift that is bestowed upon us. As one has said: "A good share of our patience under difficulties, and our courage amid opposition, must arise from our holding fast a conception of the office which the world refuses to accept. In our own thinking and feeling we cannot take too high ground with regard to it. Sin does not cease to be sin because fools mock at it; neither does what is Divine in the holy office (of the priesthood) collapse because the outside crowd doubt or deny or sneer at it. It matters not in what ways the spirit of this age may attempt to dwarf, or dilute, or altogether set it aside as incompatible with the prevailing individualism in religion; its hold on the world is as indestructible as that of the Kingdom of GOD itself. The whole scheme of Christian redemption must dissolve and perish before the priesthood can pass away." [Bishop Littlejohn--"Conciones ad clerum."]
It is the proper sense of having been the recipient of this Divine gift which is to balance the sense of natural infirmity, which is to render us, not self-sufficient in our ignorance, but anxious, prayerful in preparation for our work, bold and earnest in utterance, and, at the same time, never failing in forbearance and charity.
 A proper sense, I say. There have been those who, brandishing their Letters of Orders, have descended among the people; not as sheep in the midst of wolves, but as wolves in the midst of sheep. Not such as they can be efficient witness bearers by the side of the holy Jesus, or in His name.
But he who lives consciously and devoutly in the possession of this Holy gift, by daily act of faith and consecration linking on his priesthood to the Eternal Priest within the Veil, will manifest in three ways that temper of mind and heart of which I spoke:
I. Most assuredly his ministry will be exercised, and his witness borne with the utmost reverence for authority. He will remember that the one great sin of the world is lawlessness; that the existing chaos in things secular and religious alike is due to disregard for lawful authority; that the great evil of sectarianism and disunion which he goes out into the world to face is entirely traceable to disobedience. Manifest in social and domestic life, an intelligent observer sees clearly the same ill-doing, hatred for authority, a breaking away from restraint, rampant individualism, self-will and independence.
How shall he meet and overcome at all this prevalent antagonism to law and order? Certainly not by joining the ranks of the law-breakers, by assaulting old-time traditions and ignoring venerable sanctions; certainly not by setting the example before a lawless community of disregarding the authority of the Church, while he rebukes men on every hand for doing the same thing. The maxim, "Quod semper, ubique et ab omnibus," has most remarkable exceptions when the priest permits himself to forget the high privilege which is his of sharing in CHRIST'S priesthood by authority. Surely there is a better way.
The individual priest must not be isolated from the [13/14] collective priesthood, "nor the priesthood of any one age from the gathered experience and accumulated wisdom of the priesthood of all the Christian centuries. No member of the order fit to be such but has contributed his quota in some form to the common stock. How forlorn, how pitiful, how hopelessly weak that Priest of GOD who, amid his awful responsibilities, drifts off from the great body of his brethren, living and dead, and lapses into some solitary corner of the vast field--a soldier severed from the army to which he belongs, and uncheered by the standard which he has so often led to victory--a member of an order peerlessly rich in its own history, and unspeakably so in the blessing and honor of its eternal Head, and yet cut off from the common heritage." [Bishop Littlejohn.]
Self-will and lawlessness thus often separate, dishearten and destroy the priest who appreciates not, at its full value, the transcendent holiness of the gift which, through the Church, CHRIST JESUS has ministered unto him. One whose voice is familiar and most dear to this Diocese, lately said: "Believe me, men are sick and tired of that enormous egotism of which happily the Church is at any rate relatively so largely free, which treats all the past, all institutions, all sacred books, all constituted authority, all venerable usage, as if it were so much musty impertinence; and if we would give to the sons and daughters of the Church to-day one great and glad surprise, I believe we could do it in no other way so effectually as by saying: 'We will remember the Fifth Commandment, and loyally honor and obey our dear Mother, the Church. We will cherish the Prayer-Book, and do its bidding, until we get a better one. We will make the best and not the worst of our Bishops and other chief ministers; we will build up and not pull down our brother's work; or, if we [14/15] must need's rebuke, we will do it with love and not with envenomed innuendo; we will, in one word, cultivate a vision which strives to see the whole Church rather than a part, and whose animating spirit is one which loses and is content to lose itself in the cause to which it is pledged.'" [Bishop Potter's charge, "Law and Loyalty."]
It is our chiefest glory, when we appeal to the disaffected and rebellious, that we ourselves are loyal; only the consciousness of this can keep us faithful and full of courage, whether men hear, or whether they forbear.
II. Shall I be accused of uttering only platitudes, when I say that if witness is to be duly borne we must have minds saturated with the words and principles of Holy Scripture? Yet there are signs of the times which indicate that such exhortation is not without its appropriateness. Our ministry has to be exercised in a day when it is more than ever necessary that we should speak with. no stammering tongue, when we should ourselves know accurately that which we affirm, and teach it clearly, definitely and firmly. Men will not be content with vague, meaningless utterances; "the days for wordy nothingness are past."
I am not one of those who think that the written word has lost its power to touch, enlighten and save the men for whose sake it was committed to the Church's keeping. He that is of the truth will hear GOD's words now as ever. A ministry which does not lean heavily for support upon this staff, will lose its power in itself, and its influence over the people among whom it comes.
Mental stimulus, moral courage, freshness of diction, a certain robustness of character, all these and more are the benefits resulting from the constant study of the Scriptures.
 The Holy Bible, studied critically, theologically, devotionally, what an armory it is for the defence of the truth, for the proclamation of our message, for the solace and edification of the people of GOD, for the rebuke and conviction of the gainsayers. And when we add to this the diligent prosecution of "such studies as help to the knowledge of the same," we ensure for our ministry a hearing wherever there is a docile mind, and that honest and good heart which the Master declares to be the good soil for the reception of the seed.
How can we hope to bear faithful witness if we cannot say definitely concerning every part of our message, Thus saith the LORD, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear?
Says the late Lord Bishop of Ely, speaking of the haziness which often attends the sermons in our Parish Churches: "The preacher is afraid to state the doctrine clearly, broadly, firmly, because he is secretly conscious that he himself only half understands it; not being quite sure of his ground, he walks hesitatingly, wanderingly; he guards and counterguards his sentences till, instead of having taught his people, he has only puzzled and confused them; and sent them away not knowing what the preacher meant, or what they are themselves to believe. And hence the value of theological study of the Bible as a part of our continued work; not that it is to show itself in the exhibition of curious knowledge, but because it will make a man bold and decided in his statements, and, therefore, enable him so to speak as to lay hold of the mind of the least instructed, and bear on it a definite idea. The deepest theologian is likely to be the clearest village preacher."
My exhortation to my younger brothers in the ministry is: Dare to be experts and specialists in your work, as the physician, the lawyer, the scientist are in theirs; [16/17] give no heed to the current talk that the ambassador of GOD must "keep abreast of the times," by knowing and reading everything more assiduously than the one great department to which his life is known to be devoted. Superficiality must follow, if, in these days, any man attempts more than the limited area in which GOD's providence and his own devotion of himself have placed him; and superficiality means shallowness. The minister who essays to universal information and widely varied culture "diffuses and dilutes himself until a certain weakness overtakes him in everything. He is neither strong in the pulpit, nor strong in scholarship, nor strong in exact knowledge of anything." The one thing for which he is commissioned is to bear witness for GOD's revealed truth--GOD's word written and GOD's word incarnate--whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear.
The other method may fill churches with auditors, but not with self-consecrated worshippers. It may attract, but not build men up in their most holy faith. It may gain adherents to a man, but it will not finally fasten them to CHRIST. It is not the success which the Master promises. Fidelity to the trust committed to us is all He asks--faithfulness in bearing witness.
"It is enough that we do that well unto which we were set apart, finding in it our strength and our joy, meanwhile neither coveting nor despising other men's goods."
III. Lastly, the temper of mind and heart which best fits us for a truly successful ministry of witness bearing must necessarily have, as an important element, an unwearying patience, which knows no limit.
If the ministry calls for self-sacrifice, then, of course, it implies unwearied patience; for hope deferred, and the postponement of self, and the enduring as seeing Him who is invisible, are the elements of sacrifice most indispensable.
 If success is to be looked for, not in visible results, but in steady and sometimes apparently hopeless adherence to principle, then, without the heavenly gift of patience, the life of the witness for CHRIST would be intolerable.
The word itself, upomonh tells a story of the difficulty and abidingness (so to speak) of this grace. It is a prolongation of a virtue, an acquiescence in suffering long continued, a voluntary and cheerful remaining under it, endurance like His who "endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself."
Our Saviour's exhortation, several times recorded, as to the need of enduring unto the end, brings out clearly the essence of the requirement.
The course of GOD's providence depends on ten thousand occurrences, which produce delay, and we may have to wait long for results which we might have expected to see brought about speedily.
Moreover, it is impossible that the faithful witness bearer in the apostolic company should escape reproach and misunderstanding, and it is a perpetually humiliating experience, which attends every faithful ministry, that one's best efforts and most honest self-denying work are misjudged, and perhaps held in low estimate sometimes by those whose faithful and helpful judgment we most crave. Then how trying to our temper, in this hurrying, bustling age, is that Divine law which governs in spiritual matters, "to let real, abiding work grow slowly, suffer checks and retrogression, make progress out of sight, by a sort of preparatory stage for visible results, the seed lying buried beneath the soil till the conditions of active life shall be furnished it, the fibres and roots (on which all will subsequently depend) pushing their way secretly," out of sight, long, long before even the tiny blade appears. [Chancellor Swayne--"The Minister of Christ," &c.]
 It is impatience which embitters the lives of many of our brethren, turning their early enthusiasm into gall, destroying the beauty and sweetness of their character and their ministry alike. It is impatience which sends so many wandering from Parish to Parish, seeking just the place where visible results and increased personal ease may be found together. It is impatience which suggests restless experiments with all sorts of new expedients, warranted to achieve quickly that which, after all, reason, experience and Scripture alike tell us can fully be attained only by unwearied continuance in well-doing in old and consecrated ways.
Patience means unwearying trust, a quiet confidence in GOD's promises, GOD's Church and GOD's truth--a confidence which naught can shake!
It implies broad sympathies for others, a tolerant appreciation of the strength of others' convictions, a catholic minded view of truth and of error; willing to wait for the ignorant, the prejudiced, the misguided; gentle towards all, speaking the truth in love, and never out of temper.
He that believeth shall not make haste. He receives more and more abundantly of that peace of GOD which passeth all understanding.
It was a favorite project of the late beloved and lamented Bishop of Easton to re-print and widely scatter that thoughtful sermon of Archer Butler, entitled "Church Principles not inconsistent with Universal Christian sympathy." Read that sermon and imbibe its "profoundly philosophical" spirit. It will assist much in developing that appreciation of others' convictions, that true tolerance, which, while steadfast in the faith, speaks the truth in love, and wins victories which, though slow to come, are lasting and sure.
I know of nothing more valuable for the witness bearers' comfort and encouragement than this virtue of [19/20] patience--"the patience of the Saints"--which shall not fail nor be discouraged, but, like the Master's, continues steadfast and full of hope, whether men hear, or whether they forbear.
Gentlemen of the Graduating Class:
Such counsel must one give who, having made some progress in the work, comes back to tell you of its difficulties and of your needs. Whether the counsel shall be helpful or not, lies entirely with you who bear. These are solemn times in which you take your staff in hand and gird up your loins for the fulfilment of your ministry, in the behalf of CHRIST.
[A Layman, in a recent utterance, thus gave his estimate of the scope of the ministry: "It is sometimes hard to appreciate what is familiar. It is almost impossible for us who live in the midst of it to recognise the magnitude of the work that lies at the very door of the Christian Church. It would be appalling if we could picture to ourselves the demands of Christian civilization and of the age, and we could only endure the strain by repeating to ourselves the familiar and homely advice of the dial to the pendulum, that, although there are millions of strokes, only one is to be executed at any one moment; if there be a stroke to swing, there is always an instant in which to swing it. Temperance, social purity, honest dealing, wholesome and sensible charity, straightforwardness and open-mindedness of every day conduct, the sweet certainties of a lofty character, faith and purpose, the uplifting of the soul into its native air, the diffusion of the mists of fable and unbelief, the inspiration of faith and courage and purpose, the right relation of power to service, of capacity to labor, of brain to muscle, of man to GOD and to conscience and to the Church--this is the field, the great field which you are about to enter. Is not this field large enough to awake the enthusiasm of the young man who looks for an avenue to enter life?"]
May the Blessed Master fully enable you by His Spirit to understand the significance of that witness which you are called upon to bear. As you represent Him in all His offices of grace, may you also learn to represent Him more and more in that reverence for [20/21] authority, in that loyalty to the truth, in that unwearying long suffering, which made His perfect ministry so glorious even in defeat. May the Holy Ghost come upon you with power from on high that you may tell to every soul in His own language the wonderful works of GOD.
Said a good Bishop to another such class of candidates for Holy Orders:
"The Ministry of the Church Catholic! it is a coast strewn with wrecks. From Judas downwards it is marked by failures and the shame of the untrue, the shallow hearted, the careless, the self-indulgent. It is marked, too, by a long line of burning and shining lights--men who in the power of that grace which comes with the imposition of hands, have won mighty victories over self and the world; men who went down to the grave the lamented of their own age; men who shall stand at the last, crowned with a diadem which no angel or archangel shall wear, the star-like crown which belongs to those who have turned many to righteousness." [Bishop Woodford.]
May that crown be yours, when the treasury is opened at the last, and the King dispenses to His servants every one the diadem reserved for him who was faithful in little or in much--a faithful witness, whether men gave heed or turned away in scorn.