IF one should ask who was the greatest product of the American Church during the century and more of its existence, the answer of one informed would almost certainly be, James DeKoven.
He was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on the 19th day of September, 1831. He graduated at Columbia College, New York, in 1851, and at the General Theological Seminary in 1854. He was a classmate in the seminary, of Bishops Seymour, Brown and Knight; of Dr. Hodges, of Baltimore; Dr. Stevens Parker, his own successor at Racine; Dr. Lance, afterward of Wisconsin; and Dr. Richey, professor at the General Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the diaconate by the present Bishop of Connecticut (Williams), soon after his graduation, and came West at once to become tutor of Ecclesiastical History at Nashotah, and rector of the little church of S. John Chrysostom, Delafield, Wisconsin. So early as that, his diaconate, he declined a call to Brooklyn and another to a beautiful parish on the Hudson, in order to take up work in Wisconsin.
Soon after he began at Nashotah Seminary, of which Dr. Cole, the successor of Breck, was president, Mr. DeKoven established a preparatory school at Delafield, called S. John's Hall, which was intended as a, feeder to Nashotah. After his first year, he was advanced to the priesthood by Bishop Kemper, at Delafield, on September 23d, 1855.
Racine College, at Racine, as far south of Milwaukee as Nashotah is west of it, had been established in 1852, as a Church college and grammar school, and was under the charge of the Rev. Roswell Park, D.D. Dr. Cole, of Nashotah, had been largely instrumental in its foundation. The institution had been fairly successful in its early years, until the financial crisis of 1857-58 almost wrecked it. In 1859, DeKoven was called to the wardenship, and S. John's Hall was merged into the preparatory department of Racine College. Dr. Park, the founder, retained his connection with the school as chancellor, but retired from administration. Dr. DeKoven assumed the full responsibility.
James DeKoven was just twenty-eight years of age, and four years a priest, when he became the head of Racine College. Yet even so early as this, his genius and fame gave the college a wide reputation. Notwithstanding that civil war was raging and that all the colleges in the country were suffering from a consequent dearth of students, and that the college had no endowment whatever, Racine steadily advanced. It was chiefly as preparatory to the theological seminary at Nashotah, that the course was at first directed. But Dr. DeKoven was ambitious to make Racine what he afterward described it, "the Church University of the West and Northwest." In 1865, the statement of theological preparation disappears from the catalogues, and, though for a number of years afterward, the greater number of students passed through Nashotah and received ordination, the number of students who did not, steadily increased.
The immediate connection of the college with the Diocese of Wisconsin as a diocesan institution, was changed in 1868, and Racine became a general institution, under the charge of Bishops and others, from several adjoining States. The university scheme was developed in 1875, when the college was more distinctly separated from the grammar school, and new collegiate departments were established. But it must be admitted, that the original intention of Racine College, and the plan in placing Dr. DeKoven at the head, was rather to make Racine preparatory to Nashotah, than to form an independent university.
The personal influence of the Warden on the students, is perhaps unparalleled in any college. Said the Rev. Dr. Locke of him, in a memorial sermon:
"He had no trouble in gaining any young man's confidence, for he inspired immediately the feeling that such confidence would be given to a true man, with a loving heart actuated only by the purest motives, and with the sincerest desire to aid and strengthen the young and forming nature. He sought this confidence, for he thought it the basis of all influence; and he has sometimes been faulted for it, and ugly things about 'confessionals' were put out in the newspapers. But as a father I thank him for the interest he took in my boy's spiritual nature, and hundreds of fathers will do the same. When I think how little my instructors knew or cared about the struggles of my heart, and the character of my temptations, I thank God that this man did so greatly care for those who fell under his charge." [Church Eclectic, May, 1879.]
Nor was his interest in them confined to their souls. He was probably the first college president to make provision among the students for billiard and card playing, thus removing from them temptation to those amusements in questionable places. He had also a very happy gift of story-telling, and the book "Dorchester Polytechnic Academy" was first told to "his boys" as a continued story.
When Dr. DeKoven became widely known as a champion of what was vulgarly called "Ritualism," the services at the college chapel were much misrepresented. The service was always reverent, but at no time was the ritual ornate or unusual. Every detail of the service received the consent of the Board of Trustees, many of whom were not wholly in sympathy with Dr. DeKoven's theological convictions.
At the height of its prosperity, during Dr. DeKoven's administration, the college comprised seventy students, and the grammar school about 150. The college itself never paid expenses, but the deficit was paid from the profits of the grammar school. After DeKoven's death, the attendance of students in both departments fell off, and finally it became necessary to close the collegiate department entirely. How unfortunate it is that this, DeKoven's special work, should come to naught, may appear when the balance of this chapter has shown what manner of man he was. Racine still exists and is again on the upward path, but the collegiate department is still under suspension (1892).
The General Convention of 1868 was the first to which Dr. DeKoven was a deputy. This he attended, representing the Diocese of Wisconsin, together with the Rev. Dr. Adams, the Rev. Dr. Beers, and the Rev. F. R. Haff, as clerical deputies. Dr. DeKoven was appointed chairman of the Committee on Christian Education, and as such endeavored to secure the passage of a series of resolutions favoring the opening of grammar schools in all cities and towns. Such resolutions passed the lower House, but the House of Bishops concurred only in a general recommendation of "the establishment of Christian schools in every parish where it may be practicable."
"Ritualism" was the topic of greatest interest coming before the convention. For two or three years before, the subject had been agitating the Church. The publication of Bishop Hopkins' "Law of Ritualism," had, as we have seen, called forth much opposition as well as many indorsements.
Just what was meant by "Ritualism," as the term was used by its opponents, was never distinctly defined. The influence of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England had permeated the whole Church, and was now bearing fruit in a deeper spirituality and a closer approach to the devotional standards of the primitive Church. Manuals for the altar were more widely distributed, the Blessed Sacrament was more highly venerated, and reverence for holy things, and particularly for the ornaments of the altar, was more observed. With these improvements, came of necessity a desire to enrich the services of the Church more plentifully, and to make the "beauty of holiness" apparent to all worshippers. Thus, in many churches, old slipshod methods gave way to better and more reverent usages. Churches were better adorned, the ecclesiastical colors were observed, priestly vestments received more care, flowers and lights beautified the altar.
But while these improvements were thoroughly in accord with the early traditions of the Church, they were strenuously opposed by some who forgot that the Reformation of the English Church, instead of establishing a new religion, was a return to customs formally prevailing in days of greater purity in religion. A dignified ritual always characterized the services of the early Church. So, it was rightfully urged, should it be in the Church in America to-day.
Dr. DeKoven was an earnest advocate of a return to the Catholic principle of beautifying worship. Therefore, though in General Convention for the first time in 1868, he was very active in opposition to every measure that would prohibit such a return.
The three years that followed were years of violent controversy in the Church, on this subject. When the General Convention of 1871 met, in Baltimore, excitement was at a fever heat. Dr. DeKoven was now the acknowledged leader of those commonly called "Ritualists"--those, that is, who lay special stress on the Catholicity of the Church. A committee of Bishops, of whom the Bishop of Delaware (Lee) was chairman, submitted an elaborate report recommending the prohibition, by canon, of a considerable number of ritual acts, etc. The report was referred to a joint committee of both houses, of which the Bishop of Maryland (Whittingham) was chairman. Their report was awaited with great eagerness. At length the report was made, embodying an opposed canon which declared that "the provisions for Ritual in this Church are," the Book of Common Prayer, the "Canons of the Church of England agreed upon in 1603, and in use in the American Provinces and States before the year 1789, and not subsequently altered or repealed," and the canonical or other legislation of the American Church. The canon seemed fair. But at once question arose as to what were the Canons of 1603; and especially, what parts were "in use" in the American Provinces; and what it meant to be "in use." Dr. DeKoven spoke on the subject but once. He first alluded to the different constructions which would certainly be placed upon the words "in use." Again he convulsed the house by reading from one of the "Canons of 1603" a long description of what should be the apparel of a clergyman, including minute directions concerning long buttons, light-colored stockings, and nightcaps! After thus ridiculing the proposition, be became serious, and said:
"Mr. President, I believe that this Church of ours is going to wake up to another question than those that are agitating us now, and is waking up to it--the question of how it shall do its work in this land. And now I beg leave to ask this House whether this is a day and a time for us to be legislating about ceremonies, legislating against reverence, legislating against men who claim and believe that they are seeking the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it too much reverence that is the curse of this land? Is it too much ceremony? Is it too great devotion? Go where you will, Mr. President, and the congregations, so far from being too reverent, are very wretchedly and dreadfully irreverent, and irreverent on principle; that is to say, they have paid choirs to tickle their ears, and to sing the service of Almighty God for them. They do not kneel in church; they have not any incense. But I will tell you what you will find--women filling themselves with incense, so that there is an odor going up through the church, very sweet to smell, not for the honor and glory of Almighty God, but for the honor and glory of men and women!" [Debates in General Convention, 1871.]
DeKoven accomplished his purpose.
The canon which had passed the House of Bishops while it was being considered in the lower House, failed in the House of Deputies on a final vote. Bat the battle was not yet over.
The day before the close of the session, the friends of the "advanced" movement in the Church were surprised at a proposed canon passed by the House of Bishops, and sent to the House of Deputies, which was vastly more dangerous than that which had been defeated before. It was one to forbid those reverential acts in the celebration of the Holy Communion which imply a belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. The proposed canon was not even introduced in the House of Bishops until the day before final adjournment, when it was presented by the Bishop of Florida (Young). It was evidently a surprise to the Bishops. The Bishop of Alabama (Wilmer) attempted to have the matter laid over until another convention, but without avail. The proposition was reported from the committee later on the same day, and passed the House of Bishops by a vote of 22 to 15. An attempt to add to it a condemnation of altar lights and incense, made by the Bishop of Nebraska (Clark-son), was not successful.
When the proposed canon was received in the House of Deputies, many had already gone home. Those still remaining were taken greatly by surprise. Dr. DeKoven protested against its consideration in such a light house, but without avail. The question had been "sprung" on the House, and must be met at once.
Dr. DeKoven was equal to the emergency. He first protested against the manifest unfairness of considering the matter so late in the session. Then, after his time had been extended (each deputy was only entitled to speak ten minutes under the rules) by a vote of 104 to 61, Dr. DeKoven answered the doctrinal objections. He showed that the custom of Eucharistic Adoration (worship of our Lord present in the Sacrament) had prevailed in the Church long before the doctrine of Transubstantiation had ever been held. He showed the difference between the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence and the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation. He said plainly:
"I believe in the Real, Actual Presence of our Lord, under the form of bread and wine, upon the altars of our churches. I myself adore, and would, if it were necessary or my duty, teach my people to adore, Christ present in the elements under the form of bread and wine." [Debates in General Convention, 1871.]
These words had been expressly ruled by the highest ecclesiastical court in England to be not contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England.
Dr. DeKoven proceeded to distinguish between Transubstantiation and the Real Presence. Speaking of the reverential acts of the faithful in the Holy Eucharist, he said:
"They symbolize the Real, Spiritual Presence of Christ. The eloquent deputy from Massachusetts (Dr. A. Vinton) said that if he believed there was a material Presence of Christ upon our altars, there was no position too humble for him to occupy. If I believe in a spiritual Presence, is there any position too humble for me to occupy? Am I to be less humble in a spiritual Presence than he would be in a material Presence? Believe it, the difference between us is only this, that God gives to us who believe in the Spiritual Presence more faith. And if I prostrate myself--I do not do it--but were I to prostrate myself before the altar, it would only be because I see, hidden behind all material forms, Him, my own Saviour, Whom I believe in, and love, and adore. And if I place upon head, upon lip, and upon breast, the sign of the Cross, it is only to remind me of Him and His crucifixion. And if I place upon the altar the lights that blaze and glow, it is only because they typify here on earth the seven lamps of fire which burn before the throne of God, which no Canons and no General Conventions can ever put out; for there, Mr. President, there, is the worship of Heaven! Strip this Church, if you will, of its glorious symbols; I will tell you what it will remain. In that awful fire at Chicago the other day, the papers told us of one poor soul who, all blackened and scarred, was still found in the attitude of prayer. [This refers to the great Chicago fire which occurred while the General Convention was in session.] Blacken and scar this Church, if you will; still, with outstretched hands upreaching, she will implore Him Who lives amidst the eternal worship of Heaven, where angels bear the vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints! [Debates in General Convention, 1871.]
His peroration was truly grand:
"This question before us, believe me, is not a question of Ritualism or anti-Ritualism, but a question of the grand forward march and movement of the Church of God, which is meant to be, not a Church for to-day, but a Church forever--the American Catholic Church. Ah! as I see the triumphal march and swing with which I believe that Church will do her work in this country, my heart beats with a quicker throb, and the giddy blood goes coursing through my veins. I see her marching on across those broad, wide lands of the West, beyond those prairies of Iowa, beyond the plains of Nebraska, beyond the Sierra Nevada, until she stretches out her hands to the far-off East, where the world is waiting for conversion. And this Church of ours is to stretch out her hands on this side and on that, not in any narrow way. How our hearts thrilled when the Bishop of Lichfield spoke of the Anglo-Saxon race as destined to be the race which would give peace to the world! Why may not this Church of ours give peace to the divided branches of Christ's Church?--on this side stretching out her hands to the Protestant bodies, saying to them,' We, too, are Protestant in certain senses; we disbelieve in the supremacy of the Pope; we disbelieve in his infallibility; we disbelieve in the shutting up of Scripture in a tongue not understanded of the people; we believe in a Liturgy that can be read and known of all men; we do not believe in a compulsory celibacy; we do not believe in enforced confession; we only believe in the Grand Catholic doctrines.' And then, on the other hand, to say to people: 'The ceremonies of the broad world, the ceremonies that typify Christ, the ceremonies that tell of Him, the ceremonies that teach me to believe, not in any material Presence, but in Him Whom by faith I see: these, these shall be the ceremonies of our branch of the Catholic Church of Christ."
The battle was fought. The House of Deputies refused to concur with the House of Bishops. The danger was over.
Dr. DeKoven was now the central figure in the American Church. No name more frequently appeared in the Church papers; no one received equal attention.
It was not strange, therefore, that when there was a vacancy in the episcopate in Massachusetts in 1873, caused by the death of Bishop Eastburn and, subsequently, by the declination of the Rev. Benjamin T. Haight, D. D., LL. D., of Trinity Church, New York, who was elected in his place, Dr. DeKoven was one immediately thought of. He was accordingly nominated in the convention by the Rev. Alexander Burgess, D. D., afterward Bishop of Quincy, and received a liberal support. But though the number of votes given him was nearly a majority, a few were lacking and DeKoven was defeated, the Rev. B. H. Paddock, D. D., being elected.
The close vote showed, however, how strong Dr. DeKoven's supporters were, and it may be believed, opened the eyes of his opponents who had belittled the "advanced" movement.
The crisis of the whole of DeKoven's history now came, and the eyes of the whole Church were turned toward Wisconsin.
On the 7th of December, 1873, Bishop Armitage passed to his rest, in the prime of his manhood, when apparently he was at the period of his greatest usefulness. A special council to elect a successor, was called to meet at the Cathedral in Milwaukee (the purchase of which had been one of Bishop Armitage's last and most notable acts) in February. The preliminary campaign was both bitter and vigorous. It was characterized by a series of letters to the daily papers, for and against the candidacy of Dr. DeKoven. That the chiefest of these were anonymous, was discreditable to both sides. None of them were from the pen of DeKoven. The Church papers in the East, too, took an active part in the contest.
The campaign was opened by the Chicago Times with a series of interviews with a number of clergy in the diocese, including Dr. DeKoven. The latter gave it as his opinion that the contest would be rather between men of the same theological stripe, than between those of opposing principles. A few days later, a Milwaukee paper contained a long anonymous letter in criticism of Dr. DeKoven's several answers to his interviewer, charging DeKoven with various extreme practices and views, misrepresenting him (as was claimed) in a number of particulars, and appealing to the popular prejudice against Rome to defeat him as a "Romanizer." The paper was afterward issued in pamphlet form over the signatures of six clergymen, with the title "Principles, not Men" prefixed.
As the day of the council drew near, excitement reached a high pitch, and column after column of the daily papers was given up to discussions of the coming election.
On the night before the council met, a service in commemoration of the late Bishop Armitage, was held by appointment at the Cathedral, which was draped in black, and Dr. DeKoven preached the memorial sermon. It was a most remarkable discourse. As it is contained in the sole volume of Dr. DeKoven's published sermons, no extracts need be given here. [DeKoven's Sermons, pages 225-250.]
Next day, Thursday, February 12th, the council met at the Cathedral. It was the centre of interest for the whole community. Secular papers of New York, Boston and Chicago had special correspondents present to wire them full particulars of the proceedings. Never before or since had a diocesan Church convention in America ever attracted such widespread attention. The opening service occupied the greater portion of the morning, and the afternoon was spent in wrangling over the roll of parishes entitled to vote. This, it might be remarked here, is a question which invariably causes confusion at an episcopal election, and which ought to be definitely settled by legislation in each diocese.
In the evening came the formal nominations. The first name presented was that of the Rev. Lewis A. Kemper, D. D., professor at Nashotah, and son of Wisconsin's first Bishop. Dr. Kemper replied by withdrawing his name, and presenting that of the Rev. Eugene A. Hoffman, D. D., rector of S. Mark's Church, Philadelphia. The nomination was seconded by the Rev. W. P. TenBroeck, rector of La Crosse.
Then followed a long and exceedingly unfortunate debate upon the availability and merits of Dr. Hoffman, who was less widely known in the Church than he is to-day. The debates in full may be found in the secular papers of the next day. They are certainly lacking in many of the characteristics of a Christian convention, and an abstract of them would not be profitable here. At length, after a very disorderly session in the Cathedral itself, a recess was taken until next morning.
The second day opened with undiminished interest. The chairman, the Rev. Dr. Ashley, made at the opening some timely remarks on the decorum proper to be observed in the deliberations. The Rev. Dr. Everhart, chaplain of Kemper Hall, followed with an eloquent and calm address, presenting the name of the Rev. James DeKoven, D. D., to the council. The Rev. Dr. Falk, a professor at Racine. College, seconded the nomination and replied to the anticipated objections to the gentleman, on the grounds of doctrine and "Ritualism."
Then ensued a repetition of the disorderly scenes of the evening before. Excitement was at fever heat when the Rev. Robert N. Parke, one of the six signers of the document "Principles, not Men," publicly withdrew his signature. The very full report of the proceedings in the Milwaukee Sentinel thus gives a portion of his remarks:
"He (Mr. Parke) came here three years ago from a purer moral atmosphere than he found here. He was frank to say that he differed from Dr. DeKoven as to certain points. On certain other points in the document he did not know whether the Doctor holds the views implicated to Dr. DeKoven; and after prayerful consideration he wished to stand before the convention and relieve himself of that part of the accusation made without his personal knowledge. He desired to make an humble apology." [Sentinel, February 14,1874.]
Fain would we draw a pen over the records of the remainder of the morning. But words spoken on earth, by whomsoever said, are words recorded in Heaven for the weal or the woe of him who speaks them. He who takes up his pen to write history, must write with absolute impartiality, and neither add to, nor subtract from, the exact occurrences.
The next speaker was the Rev. Edward B. Spalding, head master of the grammar school at Racine College. In the course of his remarks, he produced and read statements in writing from four students at Nashotah, to the effect that they had themselves heard the author and one of the signers of the document "Principles, not Men" admit--
"That it was an exaggeration intended to influence the laity against Dr. DeKoven--an article of political intrigue; and that no such results would follow from the election of Dr. DeKoven as he had therein stated. Dr. E-------- excused himself by saying that in newspapers such articles were lawful."
The next column of the published report is not desirable matter to be reproduced. But that exact justice may be done, the defense of the gentleman against whom the students' charges were made is here given:
"After a certain document, which was subsequently signed in my name and the names of others, as published in a communication in the Milwaukee Sentinel, came to Nashotah, it was taken up as an anonymous communication at the table at which these gentlemen and I sat. It was treated facetiously, and bandied about until it accidentally came out that I wrote the thing. Those things that were stated facetiously have been put in here, that it was intended to have political effect, etc. It was commented upon as having political effect, perhaps by myself, and perhaps by them. I do not remember stating that it was for political effect.
The thing that was brought here, was a dinner-table conversation. It was charged at that dinner-table, before the authorship of it was avowed, that that article stated what was not true in this particular, that it did not state that the High-Church party believed in the doctrine of the Real Presence. In the course of the dinner-table talk it was stated this article conveyed an evil impression, because it did not assert on the part of the High-Church party, a doctrine of the Real Presence."
When the council came together, after the noon recess, the pending question was on limiting debate. An acrimonious discussion followed, in which gentlemen more and more appeared to forget the sanctity of the edifice in which they were gathered and of the work they had to do. The afternoon debate surpassed all that had preceded it, in disorder, malignity and discourtesy. Extracts could hardly be culled from it that would form proper reading for this place.
At length Dr. DeKoven took the floor to make his long-looked-for defense, and silence fell over the house.
After stating the reluctance with which he stood before them, arraigned, as he was, before the whole Church, he commenced an examination of the document "Principles, not Men." He criticised the opening clause as insincere: "The undersigned have seen an article in the Milwaukee papers," etc., when one of them had admitted the authorship of it. After a brief interruption, the Doctor proceeded to state his belief in the doctrine of the Real Presence, repeating and explaining at length his language used in the General Convention of 1871, and before quoted. He showed that the words used were those which had been declared lawful in England by the Court of Arches, in the Bennett case.
"Now the question," said he, "is, is such a doctrine tolerated by the Church of England? And here I must say a few words about the doctrine of the Eucharist. I cannot enter into that with any fullness. There are three questions which may be asked in regard to the Holy Eucharist:
"I. What is present?
"II. Where is it present?
"III. How is it present?
"To each one of these interrogatories, three answers may be given: First, How is it present? The Roman Catholic answers, by Transubstantiation. The Lutheran answers, by Consubstantiation. The Zwinglian answers, Figuratively. The Churchman denies the three, and when pressed to say how Christ is present, he answers, 'I cannot tell how; it is a mystery, and I believe and adore.' "
He declared an answer to the question, "Where is it (the Body and Blood of Christ) present to be:
"After consecration and before reception, in sacramental union with the consecrated elements. This is my own view; I cannot say how it is present. I deny that it is by Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, or any other device of human reason. As to what is present, I say it is the Body and Blood of Christ; and as to where it is present, I assert that it is in sacramental union with the consecrated elements, to be the spiritual food of the faithful.
"The view is expressed in a speech made by one of my accusers, the Rev. Dr. Egar, in the General Convention of 1871 (p. 464 of Debates):--
"How can gentlemen deny that there is a Real Presence if they have ever learned their Church catechism? ****** Now, when you define a Sacrament that is to consist of two parts, one of which is the Body and Blood, I do not see how you can eliminate from that the one part and leave the other part alone. I object, then, to the doctrinal basis on which this argument has been conducted. I say the gentlemen who have given the definition of a Ritualist which it is designed to put down, are going in the face of the catechism, and are going in the face of the whole of the doctrine of this Church. That is to say, so far as they have given us a definition of the thing as a tangible thing, they tell you that if you admit that doctrine, which the great majority of us here do admit, all these other things follow logically from it.' "
After thus showing the identity of his belief on the Real Presence with that of Dr. Egar, his leading opponent, Dr. DeKoven proceeded to vindicate that doctrine by extensive quotations from the standard English divines. The doctrine of Eucharistic Adoration, or Worship of our Lord in the Sacrament, he showed to flow logically from the former belief, and strengthened his statement, as before, by copious extracts. He also quoted from the remarks of another of his opponents, the Rev. Dr. Adams, who, in the General Convention of 1871, had said:
"The doctrine which Dr. DeKoven holds, I believe, is the same as that of Dr. Pusey. It is identical, more or less, with the old doctrine of Consubstantiation. I do not wish the clergy and laity of this house to get scared and talk about a difficult question, and get into an excitement and imagine that Dr. DeKoven is coming here and speaking heresy. ***** My colleague (Dr. DeKoven) is not a heretic in any shape or form."
Leaving the subject of the Eucharist, Dr. DeKoven continued:
"Now, Mr. President, I have, as fully as the circumstances admit of, stated the doctrine of the Eucharist which I hold. So far as this document has not misrepresented it, I have no fault to find. I come now to its utter unfairness, as found in the following paragraph:
"'Still it may be argued, on behalf of Dr. DeKoven and the Ritualists, that this is merely a speculative opinion, especially as the Dr. explicitly disavows a belief in Transubstantiation. But, unfortunately, the practical results of this belief are identical with the practical results of Transubstantiation, and the difference is merely speculative and nugatory as between his belief and that of the Church of Rome. For the acts of adoration addressed to the Presence in the elements on the altar, are precisely those addressed by the members of the Church of Rome to the Host, and none other. This localization of the Presence, implies an arrangement of the service, with lights, vestments, prostrations, non-communicant adorations, a reserved Sacrament, processions of Corpus Christi, and all other incidents with which the attendants on Roman Catholic worship are familiar, and which are foreign to our own "use." It implies an offering of Christ by the priest for the living and the dead; it implies, in every respect, what the Ritualists call it, the Mass, and not the Holy Communion.' [' Principles, not Men.'] ******
"Fully to investigate the accusation and to explain its grievous wrong, allow me to arrange these various sorts of ritual in three divisions:
"1. 'Lights and vestments.'
"2. 'Incense and prostrations.'
"3. 'A reserved Sacrament' (for purposes of worship). Processions of Corpus Christi.' 'All other incidents with which the attendants upon Roman Catholic worship are familiar;' including, I suppose, the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the forty hours' exposition, etc., etc.
"I classify them in this way to show the skill with which the paragraph is framed. Those under the third class alone are distinctly Roman. The Lutherans, who certainly are Protestant enough, have both lights and vestments. The Greek Church, and the Communions who have separated from it, the Nestorian and Jacobite Churches, have lights, vestments, incense and prostrations. The Lutheran Church holds the doctrine known as Consubstantiation. The Greek Church holds the Catholic faith of all ages as to the Eucharist. Accused as she is sometimes of holding Transubstantiation, it can only be said of her that she uses the term 'metoiuiosis,' but denies that it is to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord. [Neale's Int. to Hist. of the Holy E. Ch., p. 1173, note.] One would reasonably argue, therefore, that these four things were not necessarily the ritual of Transubstantiation. There is proof, however, on the matter which to a member of the Anglican Communion is absolutely unanswerable.
"The doctrine of Transubstantiation was imposed upon the Western Church by the Fourth Lateran Council, A. D. 1215. The great Anglican Theologians prove most conclusively that this doctrine was a new one and cannot be proved by Scripture or the Fathers. Lights, incense and vestments date back at least to the fifth century, and probably to a far earlier period. I take the latest date. The Jacobite and Nestorian Communions separated from the Eastern Church in that century, and probably have not since changed their usages. Both the orthodox Communions and these heretical bodies had them then, and retain them still. The use of them is seven hundred years and more older than Transubstantiation. Now mark the argument. If they be necessarily the ritual of Transubstantiation, all the arguments of our theologians go for nothing, and the doctrine, instead of being a corruption of the Middle Ages, is at least as old as the age of the undisputed General Councils. So do these gentlemen, in their eager zeal, play into the hands of Rome.
"Holding this view, namely, that they are not necessarily the ritual of Transubstantiation, but simply the ritual of the Real Presence, I have been the pastor of a college chapel. In such a service large liberties have always been allowed. The Rev. Dr. Kemper might have taken in the savour of incense, and I know not what besides, in his boyhood at Dr. Muhlenberg's famous school at College Point. Nay, the chapel of Racine College has never been consecrated. It has no legal position as a church. It is nothing more than a private room. Subject always to the authority of the trustees, so far as ecclesiastical authority was concerned, I might have had the 'use of Sarum' had I desired to do so.
"Now, mark me, Mr. President, when I say that with all this, the ritual at Racine does not materially differ, as these gentlemen well know, from that which prevails at Nashotah Chapel, which is a parish church; and is not so advanced in its character as the ritual in Trinity Church New York, and its chapels.
"The Rev. Mr. Wilkinson, from some remark of mine, has insinuated to this body that this moderation has been due to policy or timidity. [The Rev. John Wilkinson, rector of Grace Church, Madison, one of the signers of "Principles, not Men."] Let me state to what principles of action it has been due:
"1. While I hold that every rubric of the Prayer Book must be obeyed, I do not believe the Prayer Book to be a book of full ritual directions.
"2. I do not believe that by adding to the Prayer Book some vague notion of usage, the law of the Church on the subject of ritual is to be found.
"3. I do not think that the Church has a distinct and clear law of ritual.
"4. I hope the day may come when we can approach the question of what that law must be, in a spirit of charity; and when we do, I hope we shall find room for both lofty ceremonial and for simple services.
"5. Meanwhile individual action, and sometimes irregular action, has preceded, as it always does, corporate action.
"I, myself, in adopting any ornament or ceremony, have been governed by five distinct practical ideas:
"1. That it should not contradict any doctrine of the Church.
"2. That it should have common sense in its favour.
"3. That it should not provoke vehement controversy among those for whose benefit it was intended.
"4. That it should not be unreal, but for the good of souls.
"5. That it should not be against the command of the Bishop.
"Inasmuch, therefore, as my principles do not necessarily involve any one of the ceremonies which are distinctly and exclusively Roman, inasmuch as with the exception of lights on the altar at early celebrations, and on some great festivals at a late one, I have never practised any one of the three classes of ceremonies enumerated, I charge my brethren with grave misrepresentation in this paragraph. [A-white linen alb and chasuble are used at the celebration of the Lord's Supper in the chapel of Racine College. This was a foot-note in the Theological Defense.]
Dr. DeKoven then spoke upon "Confession,'' quoting extensively, as before, from the Fathers, particularly those of the English Church. He referred to the charges against him, as follows:
"All this does not need to be proved to any theologian. The six Presbyters [The signers of the pamphlet, "Principles, not Men."] are as well aware of it as I am, but the laity whom they have addressed are not. They have been scared with a word. This has been the first injustice. A graver wrong is to be found in the three following passages of 'Principles, not Men':
"1. That I teach 'Auricular confession as having a sacramental character, and therefore useful for all Christians as an ordinary means of the forgiveness of sins.'
"2. That 'The members of the Church are to be persuaded, as an ordinary and frequent thing, to come to auricular confession and to put their consciences in "holy obedience" under the priest's "direction."'
"3. 'If Dr. DeKoven is made Bishop of Wisconsin, the necessary tendency of his principles and associations will be to require an arrangement of the Episcopal Cathedral identical with that of Bishop Henni's Cathedral; the altar must be decorated with lights; the priest must be dressed in vestments, the people must prostrate themselves at the elevation of the Host, the confessional boxes must line the walls, the people will not know whether they are in one or the other,' etc. [Bishop Henni was the Roman Bishop of Milwaukee.]
"If the last paragraph be so overstrained that it naturally produces laughter, none the less do the three passages make a charge against me of utter disloyalty and unfaithfulness to the Church. I have quoted the views and practices of a long line of divines of the Church of England. Any controversialist, by examining the writings of some of them, notably of Hooker, Ussher and Jeremy Taylor, can bring forward the strongest language against Confession. And why? Because the Church of England has a distinct doctrine on the subject of confession, which clearly distinguishes it from that of Rome. When they advocate confession, they mean the confession their own Church permits, approves and advises. When they speak against confession, they mean the system which the Reformation reformed.
"There are five chief points in which the Church of England differs from that of Rome:
"DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROME AND ENGLAND ON CONFESSION.
"1. Rome believes that imperfect sorrow or attrition becomes contrition or perfect sorrow by means of confession.
"The Church of England denies this as a necessary consequence; and so do I.
"2. Rome teaches that there are two kinds of punishment due to sin, eternal and temporal. It subdivides the latter into the punishments to be borne in this life, and those in purgatory. Absolutions remit the former; the latter are taken away by Penances. Hence sprang up the necessity of' numbering sins,' and the whole theory of indulgences.
"The Church of England denies this, and so do I, regarding with her, acts of penance as useful and desirable only as a means of deepening repentance, and as a test of its genuineness.
"3. The Church of Rome permits, at least, the addition of direction to confession, namely, the laying bare of heart and motives, that the priest may guide the life.
"Believing in the desirability of confession, accepting, too, the principle of such necessary guidance as scrupulous persons may require, or extraordinary contingencies demand, I abhor the very notion of 'direction.'
"4. The Church of Rome enforces confession; the Church of England makes it voluntary, and so do I.
"5. And most important, the Church of Rome regards confession as necessary to the forgiveness of sins and therefore enforces it.
"The Church of England, on the other hand, regards the voluntariness of confession as a necessary element in its usefulness, because, though often necessary to penitence and relief of the burdened soul, it is not necessary to the forgiveness of sins; and as the Church teaches, so do I.
"Do I need say more upon this subject? Let me ask you to consider that the only proof which has been brought forward on this floor of these unfair statements, is an accusation that in 1870, or thereabouts, I heard certain confessions at Nashotah--the object being to show that I intruded into the cure of souls, and usurped a jurisdiction to which I had no right.
"Mr. President, to accuse me of wrong towards Nashotah, is like 'seething a kid in its mother's milk.' I came to this diocese, from home and friends, a newly ordained Deacon, drawn hither by the saintly story of Nashotah House. For five years I was a tutor there, and reorganized the Preparatory Department, which was a very necessary part of the work of the Seminary. In 1859, I moved to Racine College, which for about ten years after, continued to be the Preparatory Department of Nashotah.
"I was bound to Nashotah by every tie. I had given it love, labour and self-denial. The youths to whom I had been father, friend and pastor, and whom I loved as my own soul, and they me, were there as candidates. Was it surprising that now and then one whom I had trained and guided should look to me for spiritual help? In the course of years there came one or two others, who were recommended to me by their own pastors, and at last two who perhaps could not be thus classified. The Rev. Dr. Cole, then and now president and pastor of Nashotah, has informed you on this floor, that whatever I did, I did with his knowledge, consent and approval, and that I did no wrong. Do I need further justification?"
These were Dr. DeKoven's closing remarks:
"But, in conclusion, let me ask, Mr. President, are these things after all the dangers of the Church of Wisconsin? Do we need to warn our. people against Confession, Eucharistical Adoration, and too much reverence? Is Milwaukee full of penitents? Are the rural districts of Wisconsin inclined to superstition? Must I say that even I, who am supposed to embody all this idea of overmuch religion--outside of my own College, and some few directly or indirectly connected with it, as before mentioned--have never heard the confession of a lay man or a lay woman in the whole Diocese of Wisconsin? Nay, under whatever circumstances I have been thrown in a ministry of nearly 20 years, outside of the same limits, I have not heard the confessions of more than twenty persons, clerical and lay, in this whole land. The average of one a year may be surely sufficiently exceptional.
"My brethren, I see before me the mighty work the Church of God might do. I hear the cries of pain and anguish that go up to Heaven. This terrible record of crime and misery, this story of lost and ruined souls we do not save, rends my heart. I know that the chief dangers of the day do not lie in too many confessions, or overwrought devotion, or too high an appreciation of the Sacraments of the Church. They are rather to be found in unbelief and sin, in corruption and dishonour, in covetousness, lust and irreverence, in inaction, and stagnation, and quaking timidity, and ye all know it!
"But from such thoughts as these, from all that has passed in these sad days, from a bitterness I have not deserved, nay, even from these warm hearts whose human sympathy has sustained me in this, my time of trial, I turn myself away. I lift my heart to Him on Whose Almighty Arm I lean, and in Whose mighty power even my weakness is strong, and louder than the din of angry words, nay, because of the prayers that so many have lovingly prayed, I hear the gracious promise:
"'Commit thy way unto the Lord, and He will bring it to pass.'
"'He will make thy righteousness as clear as the light, and thy just dealing as the noon day.'" [The quotations from Dr. DeKoven's speech are, for the most part, taken from his "Theological Defense," which comprised his remarks afterward reduced to writing by himself. A stenographic report of the speech, as originally delivered, appears in the Sentinel of next day, and differs in no material respect from its written and published form.]
Balloting took place in the evening, the clergy voting first. On the first ballot, 35 votes were necessary for a choice, and Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Hoffman each received 32. On the fourth ballot, the clergy elected Dr. DeKoven by a vote of 35, to 33 cast for Dr. Hoffman.
The roll of parishes was then called for the lay vote. Fifteen parishes voted to approve, 31 to disapprove, and 5 were divided. So the laity refused to elect James DeKoven as Bishop of Wisconsin. This practically ended the special session of the council and the question of the election of a Bishop went over to the next regular council, which met in June.
The war was now carried on by means of pamphlets. Dr. DeKoven's "Theological Defense," his remarks in the council, was published, with the document "Principles, not Men," as an appendix. The Rev. Dr. Egar published a defense of himself and of his views, under the title of "The Eucharistic Controversy and the Episcopate of Wisconsin"--a lengthy pamphlet of 84 pages. Dr. DeKoven's defense was further examined by the Rev. Samuel Buel, D. D., a professor in the General Theological Seminary of New York, in a bulky theological treatise entitled "Eucharistic Presence, Eucharistic Sacrifice, and Eucharistic Adoration: being an Examination of 'A Theological Defense,' etc." The Rev. Dr. Adams published "Three Letters upon the Confessional, to James DeKoven, D. D., with the Resolutions of the Faculty of Nashotah, and a Speech upon Eucharistic Adoration, read before the Special Council, held in February, 1874. By William Adams, D. D." After these had all been circulated, Dr. DeKoven reviewed and demolished them all in a paper entitled "The Eucharistic Controversy," published in The Church and The World for October, 1874.
When the regular council met in June, excitement was still at a fever heat. Dr. DeKoven would not permit his friends to continue to vote for him. At a conference of those who had voted for him, Dr. DeKoven named three clergymen, any one of whom would be perfectly satisfactory to him as Bishop. These were the Rev. John Vaughan Lewis, D. D., the Rev. Walter Ayrault, D. D., and the Rev. John Henry Hobart Brown. The names of the persons present were then called, for their votes. Dr. DeKoven voted for Dr. Ayrault, but a majority favored the Rev. J. H. Hobart Brown, rector of S. John's Church, Cohoes, New York--afterward Bishop of Fond du Lac. Mr. Brown bad shortly before received and declined an urgent call to the rectorship of S. James' Church, Milwaukee, a parish whose rector and lay deputies were numbered among the opponents of DeKoven. It was believed, therefore, that Mr. Brown's candidacy would unite the discordant elements, and so the friends of Dr. DeKoven resolved to support him.
The opponents of Dr. DeKoven also held a conference, at which they resolved to vote for the Rev. Lewis A. Kemper, S. T. D., son of Bishop Kemper, a professor at Nashotah, and one of the signers of the document "Principles, not Men."
When the hour for nominations came, the Rev. George M. Everhart, D. D., the same who had at the previous council nominated Dr. DeKoven, presented the name of the Rev. A. D. Cole, D. D., president of Nashotah, Dr. Falk, of Racine, seconding the nomination. Dr. Cole at once declined, and placed in nomination the Rev. Mr. Brown, as determined at the conference.
Four times, in the afternoon, did the clergy elect Mr. Brown, and the laity decline to confirm the election. It became evident that the deadlock could not be broken without a mutual conference. Accordingly, at the opening of the evening session, Mr. J. P. McGregor, a deputy from Portage, and an opponent of DeKoven, with the knowledge and approbation of Dr. DeKoven and of his friends, as well as of the opposing party, moved--
"That the special order of the day, namely, the election of a Bishop, be postponed, and that the Rev. Dr. DeKoven and the Rev. Dr. Kemper each select two discreet presbyters and two laymen, to form, with themselves, a Committee of Conference to agree upon a candidate for Bishop." [Journal, Diocese of Wisconsin, 1874, page 23.]
This resolution was passed. Dr. DeKoven accordingly named the Rev. A. D. Cole, D. D., Rev. William Bliss Ashley, D. D., Mr. J. B. Doe, and Mr. J. A. Helfenstein. Dr. Kemper named the Rev. William Adams, D. D., Rev. Wm. P. TenBroeck, Mr. Angus Cameron, and Mr. D. Worthington.
Late in the same evening, this Committee of Conference reported through the Rev. Dr. Ashley, that--
"On motion of the Rev. Dr. DeKoven, seconded by the Rev. Dr. Kemper, it was unanimously
"Resolved, That this Committee recommend the Rev. Edward R. Welles, D. D., for the episcopate of Wisconsin." [Ibid, page 27.]
Speeches of nomination of Dr. Welles were then made by Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Kemper. The ballot was taken, and 69 out of the 72 votes of the clergy were cast for Dr. Welles. Of the laity, every one of the 54 parishes represented, voted to approve. The election was then made unanimous, and the whole council united in singing the Gloria in Excelsis.
Seldom has the finger of the Holy Ghost been more plainly visible than in the result of this council. The deliberations were not marked by a God-like spirit throughout; they were painfully lacking in reverence, even in courtesy. But the overruling power of the Holy Ghost, who "presided in the councils of the Apostles," worked even through such a discordant element, and the result was Wisconsin's third Bishop.
Bishop Welles could not be called a great man. He was neither an eloquent preacher, a profound scholar, nor a great organizer. His was the power that comes from an inward purity of character; from a sole desire to do the work of his Master upon earth. His first few years in the diocese were spent in simply picking up the diverse threads of its affairs. When he had fully mastered every situation, he threw himself heartily into the work of the Cathedral--Bishop Armitage's special legacy to his successor--and made that work his own.
Frequent as were the calls on Dr. DeKoven for work in the Church at large, special sermons, papers, advice on an infinite variety of subjects, service at General Convention and on general Church commissions, with the daily round of duty at Racine College, no one was more attached to his Bishop and the work of the diocese, than was James DeKoven. He was perhaps the chiefest and most trusted counsellor and adviser of Bishop Welles.
Before the opening of the General Convention of 1874, several events had transpired to make that a session of unusual importance.
During the years 1873 and 1874 a movement had been made by a few of the more radical of the Low-Church party, to secede from the Church and found a separate organization to be known as the ''Reformed Episcopal Church.'' The Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, Dr. Cummins, and the rector of Christ Church, Chicago, Mr. Cheney, were the leaders of the movement--indeed, the only influential persons involved in it. A sectarian organization had been effected, on the basis nominally of the "Proposed Prayer Book" of 1785. The sect denied the doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration, of the Apostolical Succession, of Sacramental Grace, of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and several others of the tenets of the Church. Worse even than these denials, perhaps, the sin of schism was committed, and the members of the sect abandoned the communion of the Church. Bishop Cummins was deposed by the Presiding Bishop (Smith) who, being Bishop of Kentucky, was also his diocesan. Mr. Cheney was deposed in Illinois.
When General Convention met, in October, 1874, much apprehension was felt as to the possible extent of this movement. The failure of previous conventions to enact laws to suppress Ritualism, the alleged Ritualistic practices of DeKoven and Racine College--a charge utterly without foundation--and the strength of the Ritualistic party, as shown in the Massachusetts and Wisconsin elections, were among the reasons assigned for the secession. The seceders were very hopeful, and made loud claims. The great Low-Church dioceses of Virginia and Ohio were expected by them to withdraw bodily from the American Church and join the new sect. Pennsylvania, Kentucky and the South were expected to send large numbers of adherents. In fact, they believed that ultimately the whole Low-Church party would go with them.
Accordingly, the deputies in 1874 went to General Convention in New York with the profound conviction that "something must be done." Something--anything. DeKoven must be put down! Ritualism must be crushed out!
The first chance came early in the session. Bishop Whitehouse had died in the preceding August and the convention of the Diocese of Illinois had elected as their Bishop, the Rev. George Franklin Seymour, D. D., Dean of the General Theological Seminary. The election had occurred only a few days before General Convention met. The testimonials of the new Bishop-elect were presented in the House of Deputies on the second day of the session.
Dr. Seymour was a classmate of Dr. DeKoven, and had always been his staunch friend. He was believed, rightly, to hold to the same beliefs that DeKoven held. To elect him Bishop in Illinois, was to indorse DeKoven, it was said. Accordingly, word was passed around that Dr. Seymour's election must not be confirmed.
For eight days the debate was carried on in secret session. Dr. DeKoven did not speak, yielding to the persuasions of his friends, who believed that his advocacy would hurt rather than help the cause. The result was defeat. The House declined to confirm Dr. Seymour's election, and thus a sop had been thrown to Reformed Episcopalianism and a blow given to DeKoven. It was a blow which he felt keenly, as it was without doubt his close friendship with Dr. Seymour that led to the defeat of the latter. Dr. Welles, Bishop-elect of Wisconsin, a man of entire agreement theologically with DeKoven and Seymour, was confirmed unanimously on the motion of a deputy from Virginia. That the defeat was intended to be personal to DeKoven, was evident. That it was in the nature of a panic, is shown by the fact that Dr. Seymour himself was consecrated Bishop of Springfield less than four years later--an office that he still fills with great ability, and nobody has been "driven to Rome" in consequence.
The subject of Ritualism came before the General Convention in the shape of a number of memorials from dioceses praying that some restrictive action would be taken to "stamp it out." An elaborate report from the Committee on Canons, included a proposed canon which prohibited the use of incense and crucifixes and certain acts of adoration of "the elements in the Holy Communion." That some action would be taken was evident. Men had come to convention resolved to stamp out "Ritualism" at any cost.
Dr. DeKoven's speech was one of great eloquence. On the question of the prohibition of incense he said:
"Are we to understand that incense, symbolizing the pure Eucharistic offering, symbolizes false doctrine? Or again--and this is something more awful--when Aaron stood between the dead and the living with the censer in his hands, and the smoke of the incense was wafted to heaven, the people were saved; what did he typify but that Eternal Son of God Who alone stands between the dead and the living, and Whose mediation for the souls of men forever ascends to the right hand of God? And that ascending incense symbolized the atoning Sacrifice and the everlasting Mediation. And is this Church, then, prepared to say that the eternal Mediation and the awful atoning Sacrifice are false doctrines? Or, when the priest, on the great Day of Atonement, went before the Mercy Seat, and clouds of incense covered it, typifying the ceaseless intercession of the Son of God, is this Church prepared to say that such a use of incense symbolized false doctrines? But this canon, if it be passed as it stands, makes it so."
Of Eucharistic Adoration, he said: "You may take away from us, if you will, every external ceremony. You may take away altars, super-altars, and lights, and incense, and vestments. You may take away every possible ceremony, and you may command us to celebrate at the altar of God without any external symbolism whatever. You may give us the most barren of all observances, and we will submit to you. If this Church commands us to have no ceremonies, we will obey. But, gentlemen, the very moment any one says we shall not adore our Lord present in the Eucharist, then from a thousand hearts will come the answer, 'Let me die in my own country, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother!' For to adore Christ's Person in His Sacrament, that is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart. How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies with which we do it, are utterly, utterly indifferent. The thing itself is what we plead for, and I know I should not plead to unkind or unfeeling hearts."
His final appeal was a wonderful outburst of eloquence:
"Mr. President, we live in troublous times, and around us are all sorts of terrible questions. It does seem to me the day is not now to legislate on nice points of doctrine, or to prescribe exactly the measure of a genuflexion, or the angle of inclination which can express an orthodox devotion. The answer to all this panic and all this outcry is one and one only: It is work--work for the cause of Christ; work for the souls of men; a fuller, deeper, more noble sense of the obligation of the Church, developing its powers and sending it forth to mould and form this nation of ours, and to give new life and vigor to every effort it makes for the salvation of men. I see the storm-cloud gathering. I see the lightnings flash. I hear the thunder roll afar. I hear the trumpet call. In my ears the bugle-blast is ringing. And I call you, brethren, in a time like this, not to narrow-hearted legislation, but to broad, Catholic, tolerant charity, and to work, as men never worked before, for the souls of those for whom the Saviour died." [Debates in General Convention, 1874.]
The canon passed; but not until all reference to incense and crucifixes had been omitted.
That the canon, as it stands, is unconstitutional, almost no one doubts. No priest was ever condemned under it, no one ever disturbed in his devotions by its provisions. The canon was passed as a result of the scare of the moment. It is as dead to-day as though it had been wiped out of the statute book.
The refusal of the House of Deputies of General Convention to consent to the consecration of Dr. Seymour, caused much disappointment in Illinois. A special convention was held in February, 1875, to consider the next step. Dr. Seymour wisely refused to permit his name to be again used. The convention adopted strong resolutions of protest against the refusal of the House of Deputies, declared their warm indorsement of Dr. Seymour, and proceeded to elect Dr. DeKoven to the Bishopric.
When a Bishop is elected during the recess of General Convention, the testimonials are first laid before the Standing Committee of each diocese in the country. If approved by a majority of these, the Bishops are then called on for their assent, before a Bishop may be consecrated.
A protest against his consecration was issued by a minority of the Illinois convention, who represented that Dr. DeKoven was not sound in the Faith; that his consecration in Illinois, the centre of the Reformed Episcopal movement, would greatly strengthen that movement; and that certain technical flaws in the election presented grave doubts as to its validity.
The election of Dr. DeKoven, after Dr. Seymour had been rejected, was considered by his enemies outside of Illinois to be a sublime act of insolence on the part of that diocese. Had not "Ritualism" been condemned? Why did it not die?
The contest was waged very sharply, and the result was long in doubt. At length it became evident that DeKoven would be rejected by the Standing Committees. The choice of the Diocese of Illinois was again refused, not by Bishops, but by the representatives of the clergy and laity. In order to save the diocese from embarrassment, Dr. DeKoven at length recalled his acceptance of his election, which had of course been contingent on the election being confirmed by the Church at large. His letter contained a lengthy and calm statement of his position in reply to the doctrinal objections raised against him. The result was that when the Illinois Convention again met, on September 14th and 15th, the Rev. W. E. McLaren, D. D., was elected to the episcopate.
Dr. McLaren had been in orders but little more than three years, having previously been a Presbyterian minister. He was at the time of his election rector of Trinity Church, Cleveland, one of the oldest parishes in the Diocese of Ohio, which at that time was under the influence of the extreme Low-Church wing, and the deputation from which had been among the most bitter opponents of Dr. DeKoven in General Convention. Dr. McLaren, however, was sound in the Faith, and, theologically, differed little, if any, from Drs. DeKoven and Seymour. For all these reasons, it was felt that his election would not only be confirmed, but would also tend to unify the warring elements in Illinois.
The result has been as had been anticipated. Dr. McLaren's election was confirmed without serious opposition, and the threatened danger of schism, of which so much had been said, was averted.
So the Church passed through those troublous years with the secession of only a mere handful to the Reformed Episcopal schism. Whether the defeat of the canon on Ritualism and the consecration of Dr. Seymour or of Dr. DeKoven to the episcopate, would have increased the number of perverts, may well be doubted. But many true Churchmen at the time believed that the Church was in great danger, both from Ritualism and from the new schism. That the first was not the danger it was generally believed to be, is now admitted on all sides. The greatest champions of the Anglican position as opposed to that of Rome, have been the very men in the front of the Ritualistic (more properly styled the Catholic) movement. Of these, none has been more useful, than Bishop Seymour himself. [See Bishop Seymour's "What is Modern Romanism?"]
The panic that had passed over the Church now began to lessen. Men began to perceive the intense loyalty of the Catholic school, and educated persons no longer spoke of its adherents as "Romanizers." The popular craze against Ritualism subsided. Other matters now occupied the attention of the Church.
One such matter that began now to receive serious attention, was the name of the American branch of the Church Catholic.
The name "Protestant Episcopal" is open to very serious objections. The word Protestant is popularly supposed to mean not Catholic. In that sense, it is untrue as applied to the Church. It is undignified, as perpetuating the memory of the unhappy quarrel with Rome, which, far-reaching as are the results of that quarrel, hardly need to be incorporated in the very name of the Church. It breaks the continuity of the Church's title by introducing into it a new proposition--and one merely negative at that--after fifteen hundred years of the Church's work. Imagine S. Paul or S. John, S. Polycarp, S. Athanasius or S. Augustine, posing as Protestant Episcopalians! It is Romish, as apparently admitting the Romish claims, that the communion of Rome is the only Catholic Church, and that all who are not Romanists are not Catholics. Let Rome call herself Protestant where she disagrees with us. Let her protest against what she conceives to be error in us. But let us stand upon the dignified platform of positive Catholic truth, and let those who dissent from our Catholicity, protest if they will.
To be sure, the name of the Church cannot affect or alter her identity. The Church is as truly Catholic as though she proclaimed it in her legal title. Mr. Little well says in his admirable "Reasons for Being a Churchman ":
"We might call ourselves The Prayer-Bookers, or The Anti-Atheistic Ecclesiastical Church Militant here upon Earth, as a civil designation. It would, of course, be disrespectful to our Holy Mother; but we would none the less continue to be the Catholic Church in the United States of America." [Little's "Reasons for Being a Churchman," page 176.]
Bishop Welles, of Wisconsin, alluded to the subject in his conciliar address in 1877--probably the first to take official notice of it. He said, after suggesting a change of name:
"Some of the wisest Bishops of old dioceses, who desire a return to a simpler style of nomenclature, as 'The Church in the United States of America,' will undoubtedly move in this matter, and I think it would be well for our own diocese, for such I think is the mind of the diocese, to put herself on record as favoring such a movement, leaving the details of the plan to be shaped by the wisdom of the General Convention." [Journal of the Diocese of Wisconsin, 1877, page 35.]
The matter was brought before the council by the Rev. E. R. Ward, one of the Cathedral staff, and a clergyman of more than usual erudition and ability. Mr. Ward offered the following:
"Whereas, The American Branch of the Holy Church Universal includes within her membership, all baptized persons in this land; and
"Whereas, The various bodies of professing Christians, owing to her first legal title, do not realize that the Church known in law as the Protestant Episcopal Church, is in very deed and truth, the American Branch of the One Catholic Church of God; therefore be it
"Resolved, That the Diocese of Wisconsin, sympathizing with the efforts being made to remove the words 'Protestant Episcopal' from the legal title of the Church, do request its deputies to the General Convention, to aid any and all efforts looking towards the restoration of her Catholic and Apostolic title as the Church in America." [Ibid, page xxv.]
There was some discussion on the matter, and the resolution passed finally took the following shape, drawn up by Dr. DeKoven himself:
"Resolved, That the deputies to General Convention from this diocese be requested to ask of the General Convention the appointment of a Constitutional Commission, to which the question of a change in the legal title of the Church, as well as similar questions, may be referred."
The General Convention of 1877 met in Boston, and was marked by less bitter controversy and a more friendly spirit, than any that had been held for many years.
The past, however, had not been forgotten. New York had responded to Dr. Seymour's former defeat, by electing him as one of the deputies from that diocese. Dr. DeKoven sat, as previously, in the Wisconsin delegation. His clerical colleagues were Drs. Cole and Adams, of Nashotah, and Dr. John Fulton, rector of S. Paul's Church, Milwaukee, who had recently come into the diocese, and who had sat in the General Convention of 1874 as a deputy from Alabama. At the organization of the house, the Rev. Alexander Burgess, D. D., of Massachusetts, was elected president, and the Rev. Charles L. Hutchins, of the same diocese, secretary. Dr. Burgess was the one who had nominated Dr. DeKoven for the Bishopric of Massachusetts, in 1873, and Mr. Hutchins had been one of his supporters in the same election. It was clear, that Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Seymour were vindicated.
On the third day of the session, Dr. DeKoven presented the Wisconsin resolutions relating to a Constitutional Commission and the change of name, and moved their reference to the appropriate committee--the usual course taken on matters presented as memorials from dioceses. So great was the opposition that even the courtesy of referring the matter to a committee would have been refused by some; but a better sentiment prevailed, and the resolutions were referred.
The great debate was on the twelfth day of the session. The committee had reported that the appointment of a Constitutional Commission was inexpedient. A lay deputy from New York (the Hon. Hamilton Fish, LL. D.), who spoke in behalf of the committee, summarized the convictions of the committee in the following terse paragraph:
"Of the two subjects (a change of name and a Constitutional Commission), I think the one is as much too late as the other is too early. It is too late, sir, for this Church to undertake to change the name of' Protestant Episcopal.' (Applause.) That name came to us before our Constitution came. It was inherited. It is inherent. It is fixed in the hearts of the people of this Church. Sir, if we are not Protestant, we are nothing. It is too late, therefore, to consider that question of change. Whatever might have been expedient at the first, we cannot now turn the dial backward." [The Churchman, Daily Edition, 1877, page 129.]
In 1886, only nine years later, a resolution to expunge the words "Protestant Episcopal" from the title-page of the Prayer Book, obtained a vote of nearly two-thirds of the clergy, but failed by non-concurrence of the laity. Had the dial begun to turn backward? [The last test vote on the subject, was that taken in 1886. In 1892, a lay deputy from the Diocese of Milwaukee, moved a similar resolution; but it was hampered by a constitutional question as to the legality of a change in the title page by the action of one convention, and so the vote was in no sense a test on the subject matter of the resolution.]
Dr. DeKoven's remarks in favor of a Constitutional Commission to adjust some of the inequalities of the Constitution, were very lengthy and were characterized by his usual ability. Twice was his time unanimously extended. Only once did he refer to the change of name, and that briefly:
"I hope that we may call ourselves 'Protestant Episcopal' just so long as it actually represents our condition. Let us be true, whatever else we are. It may be in accordance with our state of mind to give a name to our Church which represents one feature in our manifold organization, and which represents one feature alone. It may suit our present condition to describe ourselves by that process whereby, in the course of its history, the Anglican Church washed its face! That may suit our present condition; but I believe that the day will come when this Church will demand, not that an accident of its organization should represent it to the world, but that its immortal lineage, which dates back to the time of our Saviour's sending the Holy Ghost upon His Church, shall truly represent it." [Ibid, page 127.]
The final vote on the change of name was on the resolution reported by the committee:
"Resolved, That no change be made in the name of this Church, as used in the Constitution."
The roll of dioceses is always called alphabetically to record a vote by orders. When, in this case, Alabama was called at the head of the roll, three clergy voted aye, and one, the Rev. George H. Hunt, voted nay. All through the rest of the long roll not another negative vote was cast until Wisconsin was reached, at the foot of the list, when Dr. DeKoven and Dr. Cole voted nay. Dr. Fulton voted aye, and Dr. Adams was not present when the vote was taken. Not a single layman voted against the committee's resolution, though Mr. Judd, of Illinois, explained that he favored the main principle, but was opposed to change at the present time. He need not have hesitated to vote according to his principles--the change would not then be made! Dr. DeKoven's staunchest, friends forsook him at the vote. Even Dr. Seymour, who had been so closely associated with DeKoven in the popular mind, voted nay. So did his associates in the New York delegation, Drs. Dix and Cady. So did the Illinois delegation, who had been so indignant at the rejection of DeKoven when elected as their Bishop--Drs. Chase, Harris, Locke and Leffingwell. So did the Massachusetts delegation, part of whom had tried so hard to elect DeKoven in Massachusetts, including Dr. Burgess, who had nominated DeKoven for Bishop, and had been elected President of the House of Deputies as DeKoven's friend. So did every one else, who believed in the change--or was supposed to--as thoroughly as did DeKoven. Only Dr. Cole was excepted--brave, sturdy, grand Dr. Cole! Wisconsin made a grand confession in General Convention that day. It was establishing a principle in the face of almost unanimous opposition.
Honor be to the clerical deputy from Alabama who voted nay at the start! Perhaps he voted so because he believed it to be right, and did not know that others would vote on expediency!
Defeated again! Defeated almost unanimously! But DeKoven's strength was not in his immediate successes. He was pre-eminently a leader. If others did not follow, it did not cause him to draw back. He was twenty years ahead of his colleagues. Some have not yet caught up.
Other matters of legislation in which Dr. DeKoven was especially interested at this time, were a canon on Sisterhoods, which, though nominally intended to help them, really cast upon them such restrictions as to be a great hindrance; and permission to use the new English lectionary for three years, on trial. The former was killed, as he desired it should be, and the latter was adopted nearly unanimously.
On the whole, the spirit of the General Convention of 1877 was very good indeed. It was the last one that DeKoven ever attended. His friend, the late Dr. John Henry Hopkins, says of him at this time:
"In walking from our hospitable quarters to General Convention he would take my arm, and now and then, notwithstanding his smiling face and cheerful talk, I felt an uncontrollable nervous twitch in his arm. On speaking to him about it he said he could not help it; and then, in language I can never forget, he said that no one could realize the weight of the burden that was perpetually upon his mind and heart and conscience. The entire work of Racine College rested upon him--educational, religious, disciplinary and financial. And besides this was the share he had been driven to take in the affairs of the diocese and the general controversies of the Church. 'God alone knows,' said he, 'how long I shall be able to stand it!' It was not long; this was his last General Convention; but when, at last, the cord of life, so long overstrained, snapped in an instant, I, at least, was not surprised." [In a series of short Reminiscences of DeKoven, published in the Nashotah Scholiast in 1885, page 151.]
We are approaching now to the last days of our saint and hero. His fame was now second to none in the whole American Church. He had declined a call to important work in Trinity parish, New York; to the rectorship of the Church of the Advent, Boston; to the first parish in Cincinnati, and, only the day before his death, he wrote a letter declining a call to S. Mark's Church, Philadelphia.
His last diocesan or general work was at the Wisconsin council of 1878, which was postponed until November by reason of Bishop Welles' absence from the country, enforced by ill health.
The diocese of Wisconsin was suffering from a violent controversy in its midst, over the establishment of the Cathedral. We have already seen that the first action toward securing a Cathedral for the diocese, had been taken in the latter years of the administration of Bishop Kemper. It was Bishop Armitage, however, who commenced the active work of developing the Cathedral, and who purchased the present Cathedral structure. On Bishop Welles' succession to the episcopate, he had, after learning by observation all that the movement meant, thrown himself actively into the Cathedral work. The matter had several times been warmly discussed at the council, but there had been no legislation on the subject. The administration of the Cathedral had been entrusted by the Bishop, under his own direction, to the Rev. Erastus W. Spalding, D. D., an able canonist, organizer and administrator, afterward its first Dean. The opposition to this movement was intense, particularly on the part of the old established parishes in Milwaukee. Time has shown that the contention against the Cathedral as tending to infringe on the rights of parishes, was unfounded; but at the time of which we speak, there was a very bitter feeling.
During the Bishop's absence, a pamphlet was circulated bearing the signatures of the lay deputies to the council from three parishes in Milwaukee, addressed to their several rectors, enquiring their views as to the cathedral. In reply to this, was issued by the rectors of the same parishes, a pamphlet bearing the title of "The See Principle and the Cathedral Church in the Diocese of Wisconsin." This document arraigned the whole Cathedral movement and its supporters, chief of whom was the Bishop, in the strongest terms.
Bishop Welles was essentially a man of peace. His was not the forte of a controversialist. The attack on his work, which he could but feel to be an attack upon himself, coming as the culmination of a conflict of several years, was a heavy blow which his sensitive nature felt bitterly. He declined, however, to make any reply in person, though he considered the Cathedral movement very fully in his annual address to the council of that year.
It was then that Dr. DeKoven performed his last public work. With the knowledge and approval of the Bishop, [See Burleson's Memoir of Bishop Welles, page xlii.] DeKoven took the floor and defended the Bishop completely from the attack against him. Says Mr. Burleson of this speech of DeKoven's:
"It was an unsparing exposure of misquotations from history, misconceptions of primitive usage, and malicious subtlety in logical deduction, contained in the pamphlet. It defended the Bishop against the charge of the diversion of means from the missionary staff, and enumerated and sustained the principle that a Cathedral church, in its inception and work, must be to the fullest extent diocesan in its character, and not merely urban or local."
It was a great strain on Dr. DeKoven, for his work was nearly at an end.
"On the morning of the 21st," continues Mr. Burleson, "he (DeKoven) rapped at the door of the Bishop's sleeping room [Bishop Welles lived simply at the Cathedral clergy house, occupying a single room, as did the other Cathedral clergy.] and asked permission to enter. The Bishop, who had not yet arisen, gave the permission. The Doctor entered and said: 'Bishop, I did not close my eyes last night. This strain and worry is more than I am able to bear. I must go home. I do not believe that I shall be able to come to a council again.' The words seemed almost prophetic, for before the next council he was, in the words which he used concerning Bishop Armitage, in answer to the Rectors' pamphlet, 'at rest, where the Church is no longer militant; in Paradise there are no parishes, and only one cathedral, which needs no candle, neither light of the sun, because of the resplendent radiance of the Lamb without spot or blemish.'"
During the winter following, Dr. DeKoven appeared to be regaining his health, and it seemed as though he would be restored to his former usefulness; but an accident occurred to him while in Milwaukee, late in the winter. He slipped and fell, on an icy sidewalk on Cass street, breaking his leg. It was a serious matter. He was removed, after a little, to his home in Racine, but only to die. On the 19th day of March, 1879, he breathed his last. Truly, the Church Militant mourned her most powerful champion!
On the 22d he was laid to rest, in the shadow of the chapel of the college he so dearly loved. A driving snowstorm did not prevent the attendance of many friends, whose grief was as though they had lost a family friend. There were three celebrations of the Holy Communion, at the last of which Bishop Welles was celebrant, making of it a solemn requiem service. The funeral service was read at eleven o'clock. Eight Bishops, a large number of other clergy and of the laity, a committee of the Legislature of the State of Illinois, the Mayor and City Council of Racine, and "his boys," the students of the college, were among those gathered together. Never before or since, perhaps, in all the history of the American Church, was such a concourse gathered at the burial of a priest.
His death attracted wide notice. The State Legislature of Illinois adopted resolutions of mourning and sent a committee to attend the funeral. Similar resolutions were adopted by the Wisconsin Legislature. Seldom in America did a political body ever take action on the death of a clergyman who lived in the same State. Never before, it is believed, did such a body take such action for a clergyman resident in another State. In Racine, the day was made one of public mourning by proclamation of the Mayor. So was James DeKoven esteemed by his fellow citizens.
A memorial service was held at All Saints' Cathedral, Milwaukee--the same Cathedral which he had so strongly defended so shortly before--during the session of the council of 1879, in June. The preacher was the Rev. Fayette Durlin. From the remarkable sermon then preached, we extract the following: [The sermon was printed in the Nashotah Scholiast for July and August, 1885.]
"But we do not need his learning and his eloquence nearly so much as we need him--the ennobling, elevating, inspiring influence of his personality--his living, speaking, loving presence. Oh! we are bereaved indeed in the loss of this, for where shall we look for its like? Who can fill this great void?
"Yes, but remember we did not know him, never should have known him, excepting for his defeat, and defeat, and defeat. The world in its blindness would not, could not, cannot let such a man alone. He is sure to be assailed on all sides and with all the weapons of its savage warfare. Oh! how the blind giant will rage against the unresisting meekness, and purity, and love, and holiness of such an one! He won a great victory, and he won it as all the saints have and must, by and through the world's victory over them.
"But, you say, the world had no quarrel with James DeKoven, did not oppose him, did not fight against him, did not defeat him; the Church did that. He suffered in the house of his friends. Yes, but the weapons that were used against him, were the weapons of this world. They were forged in its fires, sharpened on its files, and wielded with the strength of its own vindictiveness."
Seven years passed by. In 1886, the General Convention met in Chicago, the first time it had ever gathered in the West. On the 16th of October, that august body made a special visit to Racine College, by invitation of the warden, the Rev. Albert Zabriskie Gray, S.T.D. Eighteen Bishops and a large number of clerical and lay deputies, many of them accompanied by their wives, made up the party. One could not fail to compare the gathering, at the life-work and the tomb of DeKoven, with that at shrines of old, to which saintly pilgrims journeyed to offer their prayers.
Said Dr. Gray, in welcoming the guests:
"And lastly, there is another welcome--let me speak it with bowed head and reverent breath. I welcome you in the name of him beneath whose portrait I stand; in the name of one who loved you all and the dear Church which you represent; in the name of one who labored with you, as he labored for us, and died in the holy cause of Catholic education; in the name of one whose remains sleep in peace beneath the shadow of our chancel; in the sainted name of James DeKoven, I welcome you to his loved Racine."
The Bishop of New Jersey (Scarborough) said, in replying:
"There are two shrines--one on this side, one on the other side of the water--which always appeal to the hearts of Churchmen. One is the shrine of John Keble, in England; and the other is the shrine of James DeKoven, in America." (Applause.)
The Mayor of Racine, the Hon. James R. Doolittle, also referred to DeKoven, in these words:
"I have lived by the side of this institution when it was under the control and direction of Dr. DeKoven, that man most extraordinary among all teachers (applause), having a power over young men which I have never seen equalled by any professor, in my life."
It was a wonderful scene to one who remembered the past--the General Convention doing homage to DeKoven, and gathering around his tomb. Ask, if you will, where was DeKoven's secret power, that such things were come to pass? *********
Six years more passed by. In 1892, the second successor of Bishop Welles in the episcopate of Wisconsin, the Rt. Rev. I. L. Nicholson, S. T. D., in his annual address to the council, speaking in the hall adjoining the Cathedral, in Milwaukee, the same Cathedral in which, eighteen years before, DeKoven had stood to make his immortal defense, and yet had been defeated, said:
"Once James DeKoven was thought, in the judgment of a certain council of this diocese, not fit to be a Bishop in the Church of God. Perhaps no more painful wound was ever inflicted upon a great and wonderful and almost majestic soul. All the more remarkable was that action, when since that day, three men, all of lesser light and smaller influence, but all following exactly in the same theological lines of DeKoven, have been elected and have been counted as fit! One of them speaks to you this moment, feeling himself to be so infinitely beneath the standard of that great master in Israel--one who feels himself as not fit even to unloose the latchet of DeKoven's shoes! Yet--it seems almost a marvel--you now call him fit, and welcome him to your midst as your leader and Bishop! Surely, the lees longs to be blessed of the greater! And I do not know of any higher privilege, any loftier pleasure, that can fall to me in my future work in this diocese of Milwaukee, than that which now comes to me, to speak again, and speak aloud, for Racine College; and plead for its restoration, even for its permanent endowment. Let us work for this end, and make our reparations, around DeKoven's tomb, for the deed that once was wrongly done. I doubt not, some blight came upon this diocese, because of that madly partisan deed--and the blight is only now recovering. We will together make our reparations, and hope and pray some day to see DeKoven's great Memorial where it should be, where his large soul and prophetic eye saw it to be, the great Church University in our teeming Northwest."
And what more? He, the greatest of American Churchmen, lies beneath the shadow of the chapel of the college that was to him so dear. But if you would see his memorial, look upon the Church to-day. See the new life in her, everywhere. See the increased reverence in services, the more frequent celebrations of the Holy Eucharist everywhere, and behold the vindication of DeKoven, as he stood like adamant in 1871 and 1874. See the Church in Wisconsin and in Illinois, grand in her own true conception of her Catholicity, and behold DeKoven vindicated by time, as he stood when in the Cathedral of Milwaukee he defended himself in 1874, and again to the Churchmen of Illinois, by letter, when he had been rejected, in 1875. See the increased vote to discard the shameful note of protestantism from the Church's name; and then see the apologetic report on the same subject, and the large vote favoring the change, in 1886, and behold DeKoven vindicated, as, almost alone, with a practically unanimous vote against him, he stood in 1877. See the episcopate of Milwaukee, crowned with its present leader in sound Catholic Churchmanship, and its Cathedral, the centre from which the Catholic idea of true worship is exemplified, and behold DeKoven vindicated, as he stood in 1879 and defended his Bishop and his Bishop's Cathedral against the malignant assaults of men who would have wrecked both. Scan all these signs of the times, and answer the question, was DeKoven defeated? Or was his defeat but the first skirmish in the great battle which was to come?
Saints are not developed in a day. It takes a lifetime of fashioning in God's moulds, to form the saintly character. Neither does the close view of men reveal true sanctity. It is like a grand, large painting in oil, which requires some distance in which to behold it in the true relation of its parts. More truly, human sanctity is like a planet shining steadily in God's great firmament; which, could we behold it at close range, would be but as the material organism of this earth; but, viewed in the starry heavens from afar, it shines out with a brilliantly reflected light from the sun. So the saintly life is not most perfectly viewed by those close to it, but by those who come after, and who behold it irradiated and encircled with a halo, from the immense splendour of the Sun of Righteousness Himself.
Thus may it be truly said of James DeKoven, as it was said of a saint of old:
"He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light."