THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED;
REV. FRANCIS VINTON, S.T.D.,
ASSISTANT MINISTER OF TRINITY CHURCH, NEW-YORK.
St. Paul’s Chapel, New York
ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE
CELEBRATION OF ITS CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY,
SUNDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 28, 1866,
"AND Jesus said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."—ST. MARK 4: 30, 31, 32.
THIS parable of the mustard seed illustrates the beginning and growth of the Catholic Church of Christ.
Beginning at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, the seed took root in the hearts of the three thousand who were first to receive Christian baptism, and was carried by them throughout a wondrous circuit of the civilized world. The souls of apostles themselves were then first fired with the mysterious flame of the Holy Ghost, who warmed into life and power "the truth as it is in Jesus," which was planted in their minds by the Lord Himself during His abiding with them. And through the apostolic age the marvel of the prophecy in the parable was verified in fresh roots springing up and growing and becoming great, and furnishing repose to the nations of weary and heavy-laden sinners who found "the peace of God, which passeth understanding," in believing in Jesus.
He, the heavenly Seed, whose eternal generation was "in the bosom of the Father," was quickened in our humanity by the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was born [3/4] into this world the least of all the sons of woman. And, in a life of humiliation, "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," He passed His sojourn here to its consummation on the cross amongst malefactors.
From the manger in Bethlehem to the Garden of Gethsemane "He had not a place where to lay His head," and, though "Son of man," He was content to be the least of the sons of men; though Lord and Creator of all, He humbled Himself to be the Servant of all.
And yet, this lowly Seed, "less than all the seeds that be in the earth, when it was sown in the earth, groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."
The Catholic Church is thus Christ reproduced in every regenerate soul; "the blessed company of all faithful people," who, "holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." (Col. 2 : 119.)
This is "the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all (vouchsafed) wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." (Col. 1: 26-28.) "Christ is all and in all." He, the Head: He, the Body, His Church.
That Eastern tree, whose branches become roots, thus propagating itself all over the field; many yet one, is [4/5] a symbol of the Catholic Church. Christ is like that tree.
The humble strawberry-vine, whose runners become roots till the one vine covers the bed, is a symbol of the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ is the Vine—the whole Vine. The first branches are the Apostles; and thence Apostles; and thence Apostles, till the Episcopal roots dot the earth; according to the Lord's promise, "I am with you always, in all the world, even unto the end." Such is, in fact, the Catholic Church. Its indefectibility is the Life of Christ in It.
It is "the Kingdom of God," which the Lord likens to the mustard seed, "which, when it is sown in the earth, groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."
The same analogy is, therefore, true of each branch of the Catholic Church.
That Branch which took root in England stretched across the Atlantic, and was radicated in this land.
The phases of the history of the Church in the United States are aptly illustrated in the parable.
There is, first, The Sowing of the Seed; next, The Rooting; next, The Growing Up; next, The Becoming Great; next, The Shooting Out of Great Branches; now, The Giving Shelter to All.
This centennial anniversary of St. Paul's Chapel suggests the propriety and the order of my Sermon.
I. THE SOWING OF THE SEED.
The first minister of the Church of England, who preached in New-York, was the Rev. Joseph Hanmer. He was a paternal ancestor of the Ludlows, a distinguished family, who have continuously illustrated the [5/6] Apostolic faith, in which they have been constantly reared.
We obtain this fact from the records and tradition of the Ludlow genealogy.
Whether the Rev. Mr. Hanmer was chaplain to the land forces or to the navy does not appear. But it is more probable that he was attached to the garrison at the Fort, then situated near the Bowling Green.
For the New-York Colonial Records inform us that, "when this province was taken by the English in the year 1664, there was left in it a small garrison of English soldiers, who had a chaplain allowed upon the establishment. In the Fort at New-York (the seat of our Governors) was a large church, wherein the Dutch inhabitants, in their own way and language, performed their worship. That ended, the chaplain read divine service according to the Liturgy of the Church of England to the Governor and Garrison, in the same place. And this was all the footing that the Church of England, as by law established, had in this province until 1693; about which time the Governor granted to the Dutch Elders and Deacons in New-York a charter of incorporation, and for the free exercise of their own worship, and persuaded them to build a church for themselves out of the Fort, which they did. About the same time, he prevailed with the Assembly to make provision by an act for the maintenance of one good sufficient Protestant minister for this place at £100 per annum; to which £60 per annum has been since added, (in 1714.) And in that bill the election of ten Vestrymen and two Church Wardens, to be chosen by the freeholders, for putting said act in execution, was provided for."
The Colonial Document goes on to say: "In the year 1697, Col. Fletcher, the Governor, by his example [6/7] and countenance, promoted the building of Trinity Church in New-York by voluntary contribution, and placed in it the present incumbent, (1714) Mr. Vesey, who was at that time a dissenting preacher on Long Island. He had received his education in Harvard College; under that rigid Independent, Increase Mather, and was sent from thence by him to confirm the minds of those who had removed, for their convenience, from New-England to this Province. For Mr. Mather, having advice that there was a minister of the Established Church of England, come over in quality of chaplain to the forces, and fearing that the Common Prayer and the hated ceremonies of our Church might gain ground, he spared no pains or care to spread the warmest of his emissaries through this Province. But Col. Fletcher, who saw into this design, took off Mr. Vesey, by an invitation to this (Rectory) Living, and a promise to advance his stipend considerably, and to recommend him for Holy Orders to your Lordship's (the Bishop of London's) predecessor; all which was performed accordingly, and Mr. Vesey returned from England in Priests' Orders." [This and more will be found in the Documentary History of New-York, vol. iii. p. 264, etc.] Thus it appears that the first Rector of Trinity Church was, like Saul of Tarsus, commissioned by its enemies to destroy the faith; but, by the grace of God, was converted to disseminate the faith. The seed was planted here, as less than all the seeds that are in the earth. In like manner, the seed was sown in Jamestown, Virginia, (before the landing of the Pilgrims;) in Boston, Mass.; in Stratford, Ct.; in Newport, R. I.; in Philadelphia, Pa.; in Baltimore, Md.; in Charleston, S. C.; in New-Brunswick, N. J.; in Portsmouth, N. H.; and in other spots in the colonies.
 This was the first period of the "Sowing of the Seed."
II. And it was followed, by the Seed's TAKING ROOT.
The seed took root by men's treading upon it, and through the blessing of God it sprouted in the soil. The Church, as in the beginning, was persecuted. The priests of Christ, posted, here and there, in the land, were, like their Lord, "despised and rejected of men." Sectarian spite and fear, like that of Increase Mather, worried the shepherds and their flocks. In New-York, the enemy perfected his foulest blasphemy, desecrated the humble sanctuary, profaned the Holy Book of Common Prayer, and rent in pieces the sacred garments of the priesthood, befouling them with human ordure and miscreant blood.
These villainies were perpetrated on Shrove Tuesday night, on the 9th-10th of February, 1713, in the old Trinity Church, and are set forth in the Documentary History of New-York, vol. iii. p. 269.
The "hellish devices," as they are stigmatized in Gov. Hunter's proclamation, evoked the sympathy of the Reformed Dutch Church and the Reformed French Church with the persecuted Episcopal Church.
That Ash Wednesday following the night of diabolical deeds was indeed a day of humiliation and distress. But it was crowned by an Easter-tide of joy. The Cross was the stepping-stone to the Crown. The Church which the heathen would pull down to the ground was established in the city, taking root in the gentle sympathies of the best of the people, and shaming into darkness the mocking emissaries of the devil.
During this period of the history of the Episcopal Church, in the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, all that was hoped for and demanded was, simply, [8/9] TOLERATION. Yet it suffered persecution by a league of foes. Herod and Pontius Pilate were made friends again over the body of Christ. In the language of the Churchmen of that time, as set forth in their complaint, (see Doc. History New-York, vol. iii. p. 264,) "The Presbyterian, the Anabaptist, the Independent, and the Quaker have each a large lot in this continent, and such seems to be the combination amongst them (however they may differ in other matters) that they do not willingly suffer any other plants to take root here."
The Episcopal churches were scattered and stood alone, without concert of action, and only theoretically organized by their common obedience to the Bishop of London as their Diocesan. They were counted as "a communion of strangers in the land, and as if their worship were of such a foreign growth that it alone wanted the support of a royal hand." (Doc. History, vol. iii. p. 264.)
Yet, even during this dark day, when Episcopal ministers were denounced as "pestilent fellows," and the Church was a "sect everywhere spoken against," the light of the Gospel shone forth through the missionary zeal of the clergy. Two ministers of Trinity Church, Barclay and Ogilvie, were called from their mission to the Mohawk Indians, in whose spiritual welfare they continued their service to their dying day. The churches organized by them still live in that Christian community in Canada, whither the Mohawks migrated; and during this very summer, several of our own clergy accompanied their Bishop in his visitation to them, and communicated with them in the Holy Sacrament, where the sacred vessels of the altar are the ponderous silver communion service presented to them by Queen Ann, of blessed memory. [The Rev. Dr. Pitkin, of Buffalo, was one of these clergymen, who acquainted me with the high veneration in which the names and the works of Barclay and Ogilvie are cherished by the Mohawks.]
 This second era closed in the exhaustion of tired persecution, collapsing into the languor of toleration.
A hundred years ago this beautiful Chapel of St. Paul was finished, evincing that the Church had taken root in the land. St. George's Chapel, in 1754, had been erected in evidence of the same truth, and was flourishing in green promise of its future greatness.
The times were unquiet, though the surface was unruffled. It was the calm preceding the storm. The Colonies, while professing, and, I may say, feeling the motions of loyalty to the Crown of Great Britain, were protesting against the unconstitutional edicts of Parliament and the ministry. British troops garrisoned the strongholds of the disaffected country, keeping ward and watch against the outbreak of revolutionary excesses. In 1766, General Gage commanded the forces at New York; and is mentioned as being present, with his staff, at the first opening service in St. Paul's Chapel.
It was just ten years before the Declaration of Independence, the period of the birth-throes of a nation.
The picture of the procession to this church, with the names and titles of those dignitaries who celebrated the only Consecration which it has, as yet, received, (as the contemporary annals describe the pageant,) revealed to the populace that the mustard seed had taken root. But what the Sanballats and the Tobiahs and Geshems once despised and mocked at, they now hated and feared, but yet respected.
In the political discussions throughout the Colonies, Churchmen were as decided as the sectarians in their opposition to the British misrule. Among the clergy [10/11] of the Church, there was doubtless a prevailing habit of allegiance to England; but the Episcopal laity were among the foremost advocates of independence.
The succeeding years of the Revolution, and during the subsequent era of the Confederation of the United States, the second period of the Church's annals terminated. It was the period of persecution and toleration—the season of the seed while "taking root."
III. The next period is THE GROWING UP.
Almost coeval with the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, the complete organization of the Church takes date. The first Bishop, Seabury, of Connecticut; then White, of Pennsylvania; Provoost, of New-York; and Madison, of Virginia, were the College of Apostles, whence the unbroken succession was transmitted to this day, from Jesus Christ. One after another of the thirteen States had received its Bishop, and organized in union into the General Convention of the Church.
That august body is the Council of the National Church, to all who are admitted into that pure Communion—the same which the book of Acts of the Apostles describes in the New Testament.
But as "the kingdom of God cometh without observation," so the early assemblages of the General Convention were probably unnoticed in the land. Its work was indeed vast and difficult. It was to remodel the worship of generations, so as to conform to the altered condition of public affairs. It was to enact Canons on general principles which should be enduring. It was to create a system, which, while framed after the pattern of the Primitive Church, should coalesce with the republican habits and ideas of the new-born nation. It was to establish a polity which should be divorced from all the [11/12] corruptions of mediaeval and monarchical times, and reproduce the amiable and lovely aspect of the Church when Bishops were not lords, and Priests were not lofty, and Laymen were not ignorant; but where all, with one accord, should be imitators of Him "who went about doing good," and learners of Him who was "meek and lowly of heart." It was to present "the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" as a pure and true Branch of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, in Faith, Ministry, and Sacraments, whole and undefiled.
This was their work, and they have done it well.
When I contemplate the men whom God raised up for this great work of reconstruction, I think of Moses and Aaron and Nehemiah and Ezra; and Paul and Peter and James and John; and Ignatius and Polycarp and Augustine and Cyprian and Leo and Gregory and Cranmer and Ridley and Rogers; lawgivers and priests and prophets and confessors and martyrs and reformers—among whom the first Bishops, Clergy, and Laymen in our General Conventions are worthy to be enrolled.
The Common Prayer Book, containing the worship, the faith and doctrines, the usages and forms and offices of Christianity, wherein generation after generation of children and men and women were trained up and taught in "the truth as it is in Jesus," is the legacy to us from the fathers.
And so thoroughly and (shall I not say?) divinely is their work done, that the pious instinct of the Church, and the sober reasoning of an intelligent people, conspire to preserve the Liturgy in the Common Prayer Book, like the Bible, untouched by novelties, unmolested by experiments. This era of the Episcopal Church of "the growing up of the seed" [12/13] passed out of the period of Toleration into that of APOLOGY.
In the Church nomenclature, Apology is equivalent to Defence. The early Christian Apologies were treatises defending and explaining the Christian Religion to gainsayers and to the heathen. And so, during the generation of those who participated in the reconstruction of the Episcopal Church, the controversies with opponents took the complexion of Apologies for a Liturgical Form of Worship, and a Defence of the Common Prayer Book. Extempore prayer prevailed among the "denominations," notwithstanding the founders of those sects had prescribed some written form, especially in their order for Holy Communion. But individuality and independence were so ingrained into their self-consciousness as to render them impatient under law and order. A prayer-book put shackles on the Holy Ghost, who, as they claimed, gave them utterance. They would fain "pray with the Spirit," and not in men's precomposed words; forgetting meanwhile that they ought, consistently, to "sing with the Spirit," and abolish their hymn-books.
That Liturgic controversy came to an end; and its issue is now witnessed by almost every denomination creating a prayer-book for themselves, in order to protect their doctrines from corruption, and to infuse their worship with dignity.
But while the Apologies for a Liturgy were drawing to a close, the Episcopal ministry became the subject of attack and defence. The fundamental question of authority to preach and to administer sacraments for the remission of sins, and to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in His threefold office among men, was a further token of "the growing up of the seed."
This controversy sprang up in the days of Bishop Hobart, [13/14] who, without disparagement to other defenders, is acknowledged to have been the champion of the Church.
The question of the Permanency of the Apostolic Office was known as that of "The Apostolic Succession."
Though the question whether Jesus Christ our Lord established a ministry of Apostles for all nations and for all time, with whom He promised to be present unto the end of the world, may be settled by simply inspecting the last chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel; and though the promise of the permanency and universality of the apostolic officers leaves no room for any other authorized ministry according to the Gospel, yet the statement of the sacred text has not silenced the controversialist.
It shames an argument to attempt to prove that a permanent office, to endure in all nations and to be filled by mortal men, must everywhere be filled by the succession of ministers.
The statement is the proof of the proposition, while reasoning "darkens counsel with words without knowledge." Notwithstanding, the opposers of the Apostolic ministry were fertile in their gainsaying, even to the citing of spurious authorities and false decretals.
This question has ceased to be debated in the Church, and lives only in the perverse or ignorant practice of the sects. But the practical issue of the debate is evinced in the numbers of those who have returned into the Church, renouncing the mistakes of their fathers, as well as in the example of those Bishops and Clergy in the Church, who were born among Dissenters and were reared in schism. No one in the Church of our day presumes to deny or to doubt the Apostolic Succession; or, if he does deny it in words or in practice, [14/15] he is marked and distrusted, and mourned over for his ignorance or for his contumacy.
Thus, the mustard seed continued to grow up in an era which I may characterize as the period of Apology or Defence.
IV. The following phase of the Divine Plant was, THE BECOMING GREAT.
And this characteristic of the Church appeared when the General Convention (in 1835) announced the missionary character of the Church of Christ, and proclaimed that each baptized person in the Episcopal Church was a Missionary by virtue of his being "in baptism made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."
That proclamation was like the trumpet of God. It astonished. It elated. It swelled the heart. It bent the knee. It humbled the Church in prayer, and exalted the Church in faith, and hope, and charity.
From that time forth the Church was great, not in the blandishments of earthly power, not in the pride of superiority, not in the purpose of obtaining influence among secular estates; but great in the consciousness of having received a Commission from the Most High.
Though the Christian Bodies around her had already entered the missionary field, and had set an example of self-sacrifice and zeal in the persons of devoted missionaries, yet the abiding conviction of her apostolicity and unity as Christ's Body taught her that, like the mustard seed, growing to be "greater than all herbs," her ministries would be the most effectual in evangelizing and civilizing the world.
At once the eye of the Church was fixed on the outlying territories of this vast continent.
 Her gaze extended to the hot clime of Southern Africa, and beheld, also, in the midst of her, the enslaved children of Ham, enveloped in ignorance and fettered in slavery. She saw, likewise, the teeming population of China, and felt unwonted sympathy with the depressed Churches in the East.
And in view of this field of the World she remembered her apostolic mission, and the words of her Lord, and her duty, and her Strength; and so in her very "weakness she became strong," "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;" and she entered upon the work of missions resolved to persevere "until every thought was brought into captivity unto the obedience of Christ."
This was the dawn of the Church's GREATNESS. It was the period of Missionary Expansion.
V. And then was introduced the fifth, phase of her "SHOOTING OUT GREAT BRANCHES."
"The little one had become a thousand." The great Western territory received Bishops with the missionary jurisdiction of an empire. Apostles were consecrated for Africa and China, and to communicate with the Oriental Churches.
A warm zeal was lighted up in every parish, flickering, indeed, compared with the fire of Pentecost, but still burning with pure flames that the Holy Ghost had lighted. Much was there to deplore of shortcomings and backslidings, but much more to hope in the future of her history.
Meanwhile the masses of poor, and sick, and needy were lying at her gates, asking for the crumbs that fell from her table. That which the National Church was [16/17] doing at arm's length, each parish was bound to do at hand.
And accordingly there was a mighty heaving in the Church's bosom. There sprang up, first in England, "great thoughts of heart." It was a divine movement, though some men counted it as deserving of reprobation. It was the thought of "What the Church is:" "What is the meaning of her Sacraments?" "What is the character and office of the Church Militant here on earth?"
That internal commotion is known as "The Oxford Tract Controversy." It was an inquiry into the significance of those things in Christianity which men had always seen, and handled and observed in practice, but which they had not considered nor much thought of.
And when the conviction of the nature of the Church, as the Kingdom of God, grew into a faith; when the consciousness that every member of the Church was a representative of Jesus, and bound to walk in His footsteps, doing good to the bodies as well as to the souls of poor, human, sinning, suffering brethren, then the Church began to "shoot out great branches" in Institutions of Charity, in Hospitals, in Church Charity Foundations, in Homes for the Aged and the Orphan, in City Missions, and Houses of Mercy, and Asylums for the Desolate. The mustard seed began to ramify and to shoot out great branches, and to bear the fruits of Christian love.
This, my brethren, is the era in which we have been living. It is a time of work. The voice of the Master is resounding to all of us, "Go work in my vineyard." The Church is becoming greater than all churches in preaching the Gospel and in works of charity; ministering to the souls and bodies of men.
 The mighty century in which this Chapel of Trinity Church has been standing is the grandest century in the history of the world. Whether you contemplate human progress in the exact sciences, or in mechanical art, or in experimental philosophy, or in the means of intercommunication through the mystic meshes of electric wires and through the breathing processes of the steam engine; in government in education, in intelligence diffused by the printing-press; in the elevation of the democracy and the downfall of kings; in the inventions of machinery for culture of the soil, and the manufacture of fabrics, and the development of mines; in the artillery of war and iron-clad defences; in the birth of this Republic and the spread of its dominion from the rock-rent coast where the rude Atlantic rages, to the shore where, in gentle ripples, the Pacific Ocean bathes and kisses the sands, smiling its welcome on the dimpled waters; and in other achievements of human energy, thought, and skill, this is the Grandest Century of Time.
And this church-building, this venerable St. Paul's, among the oldest in New-York, is the eloquent but mute witness of all this growth. And during this last year of its centenary life, the mustard seed has shot out great branches through the land, till at last every foot of territory under the flag of our country is shaped into Dioceses, with Bishops laboring and presiding in them all. The General Convention of last year completed the work of organization everywhere in the United States. The goodly boughs of the tree cover the land. And we enter on a fresh century with a Church coextensive with the people. The mustard seed is become greater than all herbs, and has put forth great branches.
VI. And all this introduces the sixth aspect of the mustard seed. (1) It was sown; (2) it took root; (3) it grew up; (4) it became greater than all herbs; (5) it put forth great branches; (6) so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
The present epoch introduces the Church into its holy, catholic, and apostolic purpose of THE GIVING SHELTER TO ALL.
And to this final end of the establishment of the kingdom of God, we perceive the operation of means for addressing the whole nature of man through the Beautiful, in conjunction with the didactic and the evangelic means of grace. As "God made all things beautiful in His time," so Beauty is the perfection of nature. Beauty crowns the Church, "laying its top stone with shouts of Grace, Grace unto it." Ecclesiastic architecture; Sacred Music of man's best conception; Ritualistic observances to augment the honor due to God—all the resources of Christian art are subsidized to distinguish "the House of God and the Gate of heaven" from the secular habitations of mankind.
When Moses arranged the Tabernacle and its sacred rites, he followed "the pattern which God showed him in the mount." When Israel was settled in the promised land, Solomon built the Temple by God's command, and adorned it with gold and precious things, after the type of the Tabernacle.
When David spake to Araunah to buy the threshing-floor to build an altar, which Araunah would fain have given for nothing, he said, "Surely I will buy it of thee for a price: neither will I make offering unto the Lord my God of that which cost me nothing." "All these things did David and Araunah, as a king, unto THE KING." (2 Sam. 24: 22-24.)
 It appears, hence, that in the history of the Church, when its office is to give Shelter to all and to offer to mankind every thing which their nature craves, there is an Aesthetic Era, distinguished above all others for self-sacrifices and piety, evinced in giving to the service of Christ the best and the most precious. It is "the alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious," poured out in honor of the Saviour, by Humility, sitting at His feet.
And did He, the meek and lowly One, repel the offering of Love? Did He disclaim the tribute which Piety sacrificed on His sacred head? Did He repel the sweet-smelling savor which Penitence thankfully poured upon Him? Nay! He proclaimed that, "wheresoever the Gospel should be preached, this that this woman hath done shall be told as a memorial of her!"
We must conclude, therefore, that as the growth of the Church has culminated in the glorious divine service of worship, and as none but a Simon or a Judas is recorded in Scripture objecting to costly things in honor of God, so the Ritual movement of the present time is to be cherished and hailed with pleasure. Trinity Church and Parish has led the way in doing this reverence to the Almighty and most gracious Saviour. And in this sacred advancement in Ritual, she is sedulous to follow the reverend usages of the Mother Church, and to develope the "beauty of holiness" inculcated in the Prayer-Book and the Bible.
But while we tread in the footsteps of our fathers, who in throwing off the incubus of Popery and discharging from the Ritual all that appertained to that corruption, yet retained what was primitive and catholic in the worship of the Church, we must beware that we do not step aside after the tinsel allurements of mediaeval Christianity, [20/21] and, in adopting that false symbolism, glide into those perilous corruptions.
Reverence and superstition have imperceptible limits, contiguous and subtle. There is danger of being "religious overmuch," and to count that to be piety which is only "will worship." If the Primitive Church lapsed into Popery, we may be warned of the same tendency of feeble men in our communion, if so be that our polity is remodelled after the Primitive Church.
But while we watch and pray lest we fall into temptation, we are assured of protection and safety under the shadow of Almighty Love.
Thus, our Church shall continue to be the ark of refuge to the tossed mariners on life's tempestuous sea. We shall be known of all men as the Catholic Church of God. We shall train the young, and instruct the mature, and nourish souls with the bread of heaven and the waters that spring up unto everlasting life. We shall help the weak and nurse the sick, and welcome the stranger and protect the helpless, and sanctify human life from the cradle to the tomb. We shall cherish the Beautiful, and make appeal to the sentiments of the soul in the charms of worship and the joys of holiness. Like the mustard tree, we shall provide a REFUGE, so that the fowls of the air may (if they will) lodge under the shadow of it.
Let me now conclude by a summary of the argument of this Sermon.
The history of the Catholic Church, as foretold by our Lord in the parable of the mustard seed, is verified also in the annals of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as a Branch of the Catholic Church, in this country, and especially in the biography of Trinity Church in New-York.
1st. The Planting of the Church was, like the sowing of the mustard seed—the least of all seeds—without [21/22] observation, in the chaplaincy of military forces, in A.D. 1664.
2d. The Rooting of the Seed was a period of Persecution and Toleration of the Church: the phase of Persecution extending to A.D. 1713, and passing thenceforward into the phase of mere Toleration until A.D. 1786.
3d. The Growing up of the Seed was evinced in the full organization of the Church through the consecration of the Bishops and organization of the General Convention, and the publication of the Common Prayer Book. This period I have characterized as the epoch of Apology or Defence: first, the Defence of Liturgical Worship as against the custom of extempore prayers; and, second, the Defence of the Apostolic Succession, against the claims of schismatic and unauthorized ministrations of the Gospel, prolonged to A.D. 1835.
4th. The Becoming Great of the Seed was when the Church proclaimed to her children their Missionary obligations to our country and to the world, and her subsequent expansion into fresh Dioceses.
5th. The Shooting out of Great Branches from the Seed was indicated by the Consecration of Foreign and Domestic Missionary Bishops, and by the Oxford Tract movements, whence the souls and bodies of men were cared for, in preaching the Gospel and in works of charity. These characteristic times reach to this our day in A.D. 1866.
6th. The Giving Shelter to All, that illustrated the full and perfect maturity of the mustard seed, is marked in the history of the Church by her provisions for ministering to the whole nature of mankind, by applying Christian Art in subservience to piety, and subsidizing the Beautiful to adorn Religion.
I venture to name this as the Aesthetic Era, when [22/23] Architecture, and Music, and the Ritual claim particular prominence.
In this complete aspect of the Church we discern the operation of all the spiritual forces of the former periods, just as in the mustard tree the life of the seed pervaded all stages of its growth unto perfection.
This is the glorious era, brethren, on which the Church has just entered, and which future annalists may note as contemporary with this celebration of the Centennial of St. Paul's Chapel.
For one hundred of the two hundred years of the Church in this land, this venerable and beautiful Sanctuary has been "a pillar of witness" to the verity, and providence, and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When, from 1855 to 1860, your preacher had the principal charge of St. Paul's Chapel in this parish of Trinity Church, it was not infrequent that aged persons casually worshipped here who were worshippers here in their youth. One of them announced to me his impressions. There was the same pulpit and canopy, surmounted by the Prince of Wales's feather; there the same altar; there the same two tables of the law and the clouds of Sinai; there the same organ, and there the same pews; there was General Washington's seat, marked by the same old escutcheon of the United States, but wanting the canopy which used to distinguish it; there the Governor's pew, and the arms of the State of New-York over it.
All was familiar. And memory was busy in peopling the church with its former worshippers. Here sat his father and mother, and brothers and sisters; and here he sat a boy. Around him were kinsfolk and friends; some unknown to fame, some whose names are become historical.
 The Old Church had been preaching to him, he said, and not the Living Voice of the preacher of that day.
O these voices of the Past! How they do thrill the soul with the mute eloquence of memory! The Century that is just now departing, how it is filled with the precious freight of associations, with the dead who have worshipped here in uttered prayer and praise! How often has the one faith been professed in the Catholic Creeds! How many have been Baptized, Confirmed, received into the Holy Communion, Married, Buried here, by the one Apostolic Ministry, serving the one Altar of the Church.
"A great cloud of witnesses" have been sheltered under the shadow of this tree, who are now in glory in the upper Paradise of God. The lowly Washington has bent the knee in yonder pew where the proud servants of the crown of Great Britain knelt in colonial times.
This Chapel has outstood the changes of empires, while the one old Liturgic Worship has been continually verifying the steadfastness of the Kingdom of God, which has foundations on the Rock of Ages. This Chapel, built a century ago in the outskirts of the town, which had a population of twenty thousand souls, has seen the city grow for miles above, stretching from river to river, and destined to cover the island with the edifices of a republican civilization for two millions of people. It is now venerable, but yet fresh. And by God's grace and blessing it will stand and flourish a Century longer, to be a Shelter and a Home to all who may seek the shadow of it: to be "the house of God and the gate of heaven" to all who will be faithful and obedient to the truth of the Gospel here proclaimed and ministered.
 But of this Coming Century who of us may speak? We must soon join the departed. We must be buried out of sight. We must enter where "time shall be no longer." Eternity! Eternity! Grant us, O God, to join the blessed ones under the shadow of Thy Almightiness, and to praise Thee and the Lamb, around the throne, in the New Jerusalem, saying: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
And now let us ascribe all glory, power, dominion, and might to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, one God in ever blessed Trinity, world without end. AMEN.