THE LOVE OF ZION:
PREACHED IN ST. JAMES' CHURCH, RICHMOND,
ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 1859,
AT THE CONSECRATION OF
THE REV. HENRY BENJAMIN WHIPPLE, D.D.
AS BISHOP OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH, IN THE
RIGHT REV. GEORGE BURGESS, D.D.
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF MAINE.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE DEPUTATION FROM MINNESOTA.
The Sessions of the General Convention in 1859 were happily interrupted by the setting apart of Thursday, the 13th of October, for the Consecration of four Bishops of the Church, the Bishop of New Jersey, the Assistant Bishop of Ohio, the Bishop of Texas, and the Bishop of Minnesota. An intense interest was felt in this solemn service, and all felt that this would be vastly increased by the union of the several consecrations, and the assembling of all the Bishops of the Church with the members of the Convention in one place. There was no Church edifice in the City of Richmond large enough to receive the crowds eager to assist in the solemnity. It was at first proposed, and indeed determined on by those who had the matter in special charge, to accept from the City authorities the use of the Public Square, and to gather the multitude around the Monument which bears aloft Crawford's noble Equestrian Statue of George Washington. This plan was, for obvious reasons, promptly abandoned, and the only alternative, that of separate Services in three different Churches, adopted.
The Rev. Dr. ODENHEIMER and the Rev. Dr. BEDELL, were consecrated in St, Paul's Church, the Rev. ALEXANDER GREGG was consecrated for Texas in the Monumental Church, and the Rev. Dr. WHIPPLE, for Minnesota, in St. James' Church.
It was a soft and sunny day in Richmond, and in delightful harmony with the spirit of rejoicing hope which animated the hearts of Churchmen, great numbers of whom had come from a distance to share the enjoyment and the blessing of the occasion.
 St. James' Church, of which Rev. Mr. Peterkin is Rector, stands somewhat retired from the noise and bustle of the busier parts of the town, and at an early hour the congregation gathered and took their seats in devout quietness. The Bishops and Clergy assembled also early in the Vestry and the spacious Chapel attached to St. James'. Every thing, the bright skies, the balmy air, the Sabbath quietness, and the freshness of tree and shrub in the beautiful City, conspired to heighten the interest of the occasion, and to lift the mind to the fullest realization of the sense of the presence and the manifold gifts and power of the "Creator Spirit," to he invoked in the Consecration.
A record of the order of the Service, and of the persons taking part in it, is given below. The Deputation from Minnesota, all of whom were of course present, return their warm thanks to the Rector for his sympathy in what so nearly concerned them, and the arrangements which contributed so greatly to the solemn interest of the occasion, as well as for his cheerful assent to the appropriation of the Offertory to the Church in Minnesota.
It is also well worth recording that the Bishop of Western New York, who, with Bishop Whitehouse, presented the Candidate for Consecration; and with the others laid his hands on him in the conveyance of the Apostolic Office, had confirmed him, and ordained him both to the Diaconate and Priesthood, while the Rev. Dr. Wilson, his instructor in Theology, now assisted in putting on his Episcopal vestments. The deepest solemnity pervaded the assembly during the entire Service; the Singing was the voice of the entire congregation; the performance of the Organ and the Choir religious and without display; while the subdued and solemn tone in which, from a full heart, the Preacher addressed to us all the unaffected expression and commendation of "the love of Zion," in the Sermon, moved all to tears.
It was a day of sacred joy in Richmond, to the hearts of Churchmen, and will be remembered by the brethren from Minnesota, and many another Diocese, as recalling the hospitality and the warm Christian sympathy of the Bishops, the Clergy and the Churchmen of Virginia.
The following was the Order of the Services:--
Morning Prayer was said by the Rev. E. G. Gear and the [4/5] Rev. Dr. Van Ingen. The Psalter for the day (the 13th) was touchingly appropriate. The Lessons were from the Institution Office, Ezekiel xxxiii. 1–10, John x. 1–19. The last three verses of Selection 99, and a portion of I3ymn 100, were sung in the most animated manner.
The Bishop of Alabama began the Communion Service; the Epistle (the first of those prescribed) was read by the Missionary Bishop of Oregon and Washington, and the Gospel by the Bishop of Iowa. The Sermon was preached by the Bishop of Maine. The Offertory and Exhortation were read by the Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania.
The Bishops of Western New York and Illinois presented the elected Bishop.
The Testimonials were read by the Rev. Dr. Randall.
The Presiding Bishop, the venerable Bishop Kemper, then "moved the congregation to pray."
The Bishop of Rhode Island now proceeded with the Litany.
After the solemn promises in the Consecration Office, the Candidate was assisted in "putting on the rest of the Episcopal habit," by the Rev. Drs. Wilson, of Western New York, and Paterson of Minnesota. All the Bishops present united in the laying on of hands after the invocation "Veni Creator Spiritus."
The Presiding Bishop then proceeded in the Communion Service, and a large portion of the congregation "communicated," while nearly all tarried until the conclusion of the Service.
The final Benediction was pronounced by the Presiding Bishop, when the Bishops and very many others affectionately congratulated the new Bishop, bidding him "God speed!"
The whole scene was the crowning act of the long Missionary Episcopate of the venerated Prelate who presided on the occasion.
PSALM cxxii. 9.--"Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good."
WHY should we love the Church, the visible Church of God? The Psalmist did love it, as it was when it sat enthroned upon Mount Zion; and he said, with the authority of the Holy Spirit by which he spake, "they shall prosper that love thee." The pious Israelites went up to Jerusalem and to the Temple with delight; and as they went they sang. Their hearts gushed out with gladness, when, after many a hill and valley had been passed, they saw before them the shining walls of the sacred city. Then burst forth the hymn of many a troop of pilgrims: "1 was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord! Our feet shall stand in thy gates, O Jerusalem!" "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces! For my brethren and companions' sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee! Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good!" Thus sang they; and their psalm, wafted down the tide of ages; still echoed back from the worship of those who serve God under the new covenant, and look for a city which hath foundations.
 The love of Zion was a sentiment which God approved. It was one which Jesus felt, when, gazing on the walls of Jerusalem, he wept to think of their approaching doom. Jerusalem was so dear, because it represented the chosen nation, the Church of Israel. There is no outward Jerusalem for Christians, no sacred city, with its towers and ramparts; but we involuntarily apply all which we read of that devout patriotism of the Hebrews. That which we love is the Church, with all its institutions, with its fellowship, its worship, its liturgies, its psalms and hymns, its creeds, its laws, its sacraments, its holy days, its circling year, its doctrines, its departed saints, its living members. These make the Church which we love. Why is it that we should love it—and that, loving it, we should have a blessing?
"Because of the house of the Lord our God," is the answer of the text. He has chosen her to be His habitation. "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." He has established His abode with His Church on earth, as of old in the sanctuary on Mount Moriah, within the walls of Zion. Where two or three are met in His name, He is there. Where His word is preached, He speaks to men with all His authority. Where faith in Christ is professed, that ensign is set up to which He will gather the nations. The sacraments are the pledges of His presence in power and love. Every true servant of God is a living temple. So many of them as there are, so many are the seats more holy than Zion of old, in which the favor and the glory of the Lord are manifest. That which He loves is loved by those who love Him. He loves the Church which He has called, established, purchased and endowed with manifold gifts; and none who revere His name and desire His honor, can [8/9] look without affectionate reverence on the city which the Lord hath thus chosen.
By what words and figures of transcendent praise and endearment has the Word of God declared the closeness of that love by which the Lord is bound to His Church, and His Church to Him. Its members are His members. He is the Vine, and they are His branches. They are one with Him, and He with them. No nearer union can be expressed by any language of man, or by any comparison drawn from objects within human knowledge. We who have held, as Christian Presbyters, the ministry for souls, were admonished at our ordination, that, "the Church and congregation whom we must serve, was the spouse and body of Christ, which he bought with His death." In one of the portions of Scripture appointed for Epistles for the several services of this morning, the like charge of St. Paul to the Elders of Miletus is repeated as addressed to those who are called to a still higher eldership; "take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood." The apostolic remonstrance against trifling with the conscientious fears of the brethren is, "through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" He is the Shepherd of the flock; He is the Master of the house; He is the Lord of the vineyard; and His sheep and lambs, His household, His cherished plants, are worthy of that love from us which from Him they have received. So precious in His sight are His redeemed people, that all imagery is thus exhausted to show them as His own; and these are they who are here associated in the .fellowship and under the ordinances of His Church; they form and are His Church, [9/10] organized as they are, and arranged, and furnished with all means of grace. Say not that the visible Church embraces the evil as well as the good; it embraces the good as well as the evil. It embraces all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and understand and honor His commandments; and these would not be the less dear to Him, and must not be the less dear to us, even if they were mingled with hosts of hypocrites.
When you enter a vast, majestic temple of the Most High, where all is fitted to impress on the soul the sanctity of the spot; when you east your eyes around over the broad space which is thronged with bending worshippers; when the swell of many voices, united to the harmonious hymn or glorious anthem, goes up to heaven; when you see the holy table spread, and the priests, in pure white raiment, offering the sacrifice of praise; emotions of solemn joy and sacred awe possess your bosoms, and you say, "it is good to be here!" There are scenes, too, in which all nature seems to form such a temple; the skies, the ocean, the forests, the mountains. They were such to the Psalmist, when the sea rejoiced, and the trees seemed to clap their hands. With like feelings, but only the more exalted and the more glowing, we behold the Church, which is composed of living stones, gathered from every shore; gathered from every mountain and valley of this broad land, and of all Christian lands; the animated temple which the Creator made for Himself in His own image. His hand is there; His fatherly likeness, will and purpose, are every where seen in all its parts; and every pious heart looks to the Church as the house and throne of God on earth, and so loves the place where His honor dwelleth, and seeks its good for His blessed sake.
We love the Church, in the next place, for its sacred [10/11] history and recollections. It connects us with all the holiness of former ages, from Paradise downward. It links us, with an unbroken chain, not only ministerial, but universal; not only through the laying on of hands, but through the washing of water, and through the transmission of the Scriptures and their doctrines, as well as of the sacraments, to the Apostles and our Savior; and between, is the Long succession of the wise and good: the martyrs who died for their Lord; the evangelists who first bore the Gospel to every land; the heroes of the Cross; the holy and humble men of heart; the pure saints who now follow the Lamb whithersoever lie goeth. It leads back even beyond the incarnation; and the prophets and the patriarchs are our fellow-citizens as well as our examples. All men know well how the glorious remembrances of national history warm up their Tove for their country; but there is no story like that of the Church of the Lord through all its generations. If the temple at Jerusalem were now standing, with what sacred gladness and solemnity would men tread within its courts, thinking of all which it had witnessed! Here, we should say, did David offer his sacrifice on the spot where the angel of the pestilence withdrew his sword. Here, Solomon arose from his knees, after he had offered the prayer of dedication, on that day when the glory of the Lord so filled the house that the priests could not minister. Yonder, the bloody Athaliah was hurried forth to death. Yonder it was that the high priest, Azariah, repelled Uzziah the king, when he was determined to .offer incense with his own hands, the leprosy rose into his forehead and he owned the present power of God. Through yonder gates broke in the soldiers of Babylon, and bore away the consecrated silver and gold, shedding the blood [11/12] of their guardians. Here rose the mingled shouts and lamentations of the aged men who returned from the captivity, saw the restoration of the sanctuary, and recalled its former glory. Here Haggai prophesied of the greater glory that should fill this house when the Desire of all nations should come. Here, when He came, and had been presented as a little child, He walked, He taught, He worshipped, He healed; driving hence the changers of money, accepting the hosannas of the children, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. The footsteps of the aged Simeon and Anna; of Peter and John, and the lame man at the Beautiful Gate; of Paul, amidst his persecutors; and of all the Apostles, just as the angel brought them from the prison; all would be traced by the enkindled imagination within those hallowed precincts. We have lingered there in thought too long; but if such would be the associations of one most holy structure, what must be those of the great spiritual building, of which that temple was the outward symbol! All times and places contribute to this treasure of recollections; and nothing is there which was ever performed by faith and love that is not recorded in the unseen history of the kingdom in which we, if we are Christians, have our inheritance. If at this hour we should but limit ourselves to the remembrance of those holy men to whom, from age to age, the episcopal crook has been assigned, yet what a catalogue would be there, from Timothy and Ignatius, down by Cyprian and Athanasius and Ambrose and Augustin and Chrysostom, and so onward by the Gregories and the Anselms, to the Cranmers, the Jewels, the Taylors, the Beveridges, the Wilsons, we seem to see before us the hoary flowing locks of your venerable Moore, laying his hands upon the hands of those whose [12/13] hands to-day consecrate others for regions which to were but the wildest wildernesses! For the sake of such remembrances, we love the Church, and rejoice to think that we too are its children.
We love it for what it has brought to us, and still brings; source as it is, of all which we ought most to prize in life, as we must in death. To the Church were committed the oracles of God; it is the perpetual keeper and witness of the Scriptures, leading them on to successive ages, guarding them from changes, and bearing testimony to their meaning. The Church is the continual teacher, both through the ministers whom it ordains, through the volumes which its influence inspires, through the schools which it plants and upholds, and through the creeds in which it utters forever its good confession. It is the Church that maintains all divine worship on the Lord's day, and on all those festivals in which it commemorates the mighty works of God in the redemption of the would. The Church gives us psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs; all the sweet music and the sweet poetry which, consecrated to the service of the Gospel, exercise such sway over the soul, and speak to it so persuasively of the heavenly land. The Church surrounds us with its holy agencies, from the very arms of our parents to the grave. It takes the little child, baptizes him into its own fellowship in the thrice holy name; signs him with the sign of the cross; trains him up in the knowledge of all which a Christian ought to know and believe; lays on his head the hands of its chief ministers in blessing, when at its call he comes up and assumes the vows of the covenant; then leads him on, blessing his marriage, blessing his home, blessing his children, blessing his daily walk, blessing his weekly rest, praying with him and for [13/14] him, in his journeys, in his afflictions, in his sickness, and in his chamber of death; and lays him at last in his last resting-place, with the proclamation of the name of Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life. Were but the Church withdrawn from the midst of men, with all its ordinances and its usages, its houses of prayer, its Sabbaths and Sabbath bells, and Sabbath schools and Sabbath congregations, its ministers, its instructions, and all its "line upon line and precept upon precept," what would be left? A moral wilderness, even though it were a scene of flourishing wealth and of intellectual cultivation; and these would soon cease. Let no man imagine that religion without the Church could live and prosper, and bring men to the waters of salvation. Religion is learned from the Church, lives in the Church, and would die with the Church; for Christ our Lord united them when he sent forth his apostles, and never have they been parted. It is one and the same Lord who created us, and endowed us with conscience; who revealed to us His holy will, and who ordained the Church and gave it His word and sacraments, and placed within the circle of its influence all those things which administer to life and godliness, to glory and virtue. Without it, we could never have heard of the eternal world, nor of the love of God in Christ, but had been strangers to the covenant of promise, without hope and without God, rejoicing only as the heathen may, and sorrowing as the heathen do, still having no hope. Who of us, having once lived as we do, where the light of the gospel has shined, and where even those who have not believed from the heart, and given themselves up to the service of the Lord, still look forward always to a time when they may be at peace in Jesus, who of us could bear to think of living and dying, or to think that his children [14/15] should live and die, in that deep darkness of the Pagan? From it we have been brought, solely through the Church of Christ; it is only the existence of the Church of Christ amongst us that distinguishes us from the Pagan; this makes our country a Christian land, our cities Christian communities, our families Christian households, our children holy, who else were unclean. It is the spiritual house of the Lord that brings all these blessings to us, and must bring them to all mankind; for the streams which, in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, went forth from the threshold of the house, and signified the fertilizing course of the word of life, passed on into every desert and miry place; and along the banks grew the trees whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. And all these blessings go with the faithful Bishop and Missionary, who goes to dwell beyond "the father of waters," and to seek there for Christ's dispersed sheep. Oh, if he but have grace to be true to his calling, how beautiful shall be his feet! How surely and how Long shall his name be a dear and blessed sound with those who, from amidst a hundred churches, shall come to his grave and say, "there sleeps the first bishop of our soil, and God be blessed for all that he brought and planted!"
Because it is so dear to God our Savior; because it has such a bright and holy history; because it is to us and to all men the fountain of such boundless blessings for this life and for eternity, we love the Church, and sing with all our hearts the songs of David in the praise of Zion. But, the Church is even more than all which has as yet been told; it is the outer court of the heavenly temple. In it, we join the worship of the celestial hosts; from it, we pass into their society. If I should say that the Church is heaven on earth, I should exaggerate only [15/16] but not falsify; for its members are the heirs of heaven; its employments are the occupations of heaven; its head is the Prince of heaven; its spirit is the temper of heaven; its joys are the felicity of heaven. It is, so to speak, the heavenly side of this earth; it is that portion of the world which borders on heaven, which looks out towards heaven, and breathes much of the same air, and to which and from which angels who are ministering spirits come and go on messages of love. Were but the Church all pure and holy and without blemish, nothing else would be wanting to make it heaven, except its removal from the society of the ungodly, and the utter abolition of death and all its attendant train of sorrows; and this is soon to be. But, its design and its true character is that it should be thus blameless; and that which we look for in the Church, that which we revere and love, is not the sin and defilement which man mingles with all which he touches, but the ordinance of God, the fellowship which He intended, the blessed company of His faithful people. Of this we say, that it is all but heaven on earth; heaven, with nothing wanting but its freedom from sin and its perfect immortality. He cannot love the kingdom of God as it is beyond the grave, who does not love that kingdom as it is here; for, these are essentially one. The Church is simply the great company of men throughout the world who serve God, and strive to do His will as it is done in heaven; and what more than this is the society of heaven itself? The faculties of beings in a higher state are higher; the joy of those who shall die no more, is free from every cloud; nothing is wanting there which can delight the innocent; the absence of all that defileth, makes their bliss perfect; but the life, the vital principle, the soul of all, is but the same. "We are fellow-citizens [16/17] of the saints, and of the household of God." "We are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first born which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." O city of our God, "they shall prosper that love thee!"
Wherever there is “a Company of faithful men, among whom the word of God is preached, and the sacraments are administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all necessary things," there is the Church of Christ; such is the declaration of our Church: and there, are His presence and His promises. No doubt or shadow hangs oven the transmission of these necessary things in their pureness, through the creeds, the ritual and the ministry of our catholic and reformed communion. "Because of the house of the Lord our God, we will seek her good;" because of the house of the Lord our God, we rejoice that her consecrated Line is to-day not only to be carried on, but to stretch itself out to remoter regions. Only God grant that they who bear it may be clean! "A bishop must be blameless." Let them feel that as is the honor of their charge, and the bliss of doing well their work, such also is the shame and such the woe, if they draw back the hand that was put forth to the plough, or if through their sin the offence cometh. Let them be well aware, too, of their peculiar perils. A bishop is not much exposed to the allurements of heresy in doctrine; not very liable to lose all regard to ecclesiastical order; not in imminent danger, in a country like ours, of falling into a life of slothful ease. But the absence of direct responsibility to any superior, and of frequent collision with equals, does favor a habit of confidence, a pride of authority, and an [17/18] undue reliance on the mere determinations of a strong, decided will. The prospect of life-long permanence of station, may give birth to indifference towards that good will of our brethren, without which our influence will be smaller than that of the humblest pastors whom His people love. The habit of being placed in the foremost rank and in the highest seat, may minister, for so frail is man, to a poor vanity. The loss of the sweet ties of parochial instructions, where these are necessarily relinquished, removes one of the most precious aids to daily personal seriousness of thought and sanctity of life, as these are learned in intercourse with awakened hearts or with deathbeds. The press of business, the hurry of much travel, the hospitality of the affluent, all concur with the increased familiarity with the holiest acts of religion, to make it more than possible that the bishop may become less than before the man of the closet and the study, of watchfulness over his own heart, of careful conscientiousness, of godly sincerity and of holy humility. And if he fall or fail; if these long venerated robes be draggled in the dust of worldliness and frivolity, of wrath and discord, of luxury and excess; if he be a brawler, or given to wine, or greedy of filthy lucre, or a novice, lifted up with pride; if in any other manner he betray the command which he holds in the army of the Lord; what tears of his, (should he even be brought to shed such tears, and so find mercy,) can wash away the stain, or repair the treason? WATCH! WATCH! WATCH! what the Savior says unto all, he says, very reverend and dear brethren in the Lord, most emphatically to such as you and me, WATCH!
Because of the house of the Lord, you are now to go out, seeking the good of Zion in places where it cannot indeed be said, in the presence of some who are here, [18/19] that you enter into no man's labors, but where you will still be, to a large extent, the first and foremost of the company of her preachers. You will need varied wisdom, firm fidelity and enduring patience. The sternest bleakness of our Northern winter differs scarcely so much from these soft skies as, I presume, the meagre rudeness and scanty numbers amidst which you must often lay toilsome foundations, from these thronged courts, ringing with the one song of the thousands whose prayers and salutations surround you and your three brethren at this hour. Yet kneel, strong in faith and in hope. It is a happiness to praise God here. It is a happiness, too, and one unspeakably greater, to brace ourselves to His work, where we may be like Him who brings home the sheep lost upon the mountains. Go in the cheerful strength which becomes your still youthful maturity, and may your years of labor be prolonged, if it he God's will, you also, at threescore and ten, may say like Jacob, or like him who has first exercised the office of a Protestant bishop beyond the great river of the West, "with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands!" If a shorter ministry await you, yet so pray and so live, that, whether richly honored with success, or only holding out in patience to the end, you may have no record on earth or on high but that which justly belongs to a Christian bishop, blameless before men, and through the Lamb, our Righteousness, blameless also before God. So, may it be given to you and to all who pray for you and with you, to meet at last the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and be found in Him!