"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
A Bishop is looking back, when near his end, over his career, and he sums it up in these words, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith," that is in
(2) Perseverance, and
And then he looks forward to the final accounting before the Judge of quick and dead in the [5/6] last great day, and he adds, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
It is a prudent thing, it is a blessed thing, for any one, who would give completeness to his life, to set the end before him at the beginning. Then he has a purpose, he knows whither he is going, and he steers his frail bark of mortality across the waves of "this troublesome world" towards "the haven, where he would be."
It makes all the difference between a man, who lives and acts for the occasion, a mere opportunist, and one, who lives and acts from principle. an athlete, who sees the goal, "and presses toward the mark of his high calling." In the latter case the life is a unit, and may be summed up in a clear, precise, definite result; in the former it is fragmentary, and can never be gathered together in one. It is a parcel of fractions, having no common denominator, and brought together, if at all, as a heterogeneous mass of atoms around a human life, which was lived without principle and without vocation. Alas! for any one, who so lives, and dies, leaving a record behind him, which was without aim as a whole, save to secure from the present opportunity what he considered the best for [6/7] himself for the time, as this world esteems and counts, the best. But sad as it is for a mere secular man thus to live and die, how transcendently worse for a Bishop in the Church of God to make such an awful mistake.
Hence, it is salutary for us, who are met here to consecrate and ordain a man to be a Bishop, to look at one, who could say of himself with truth, in the midst of his career, "I press towards the mark of the high calling, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord," and when near the end, could look back upon his official life as a minister of Christ in the chiefest place, and in sober, earnest truth could say of himself, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
The times, dear brethren, pre-eminently need such Bishops, and example and precept must help us to secure them. In the man, Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, we have the splendid example; in the text, and similar passages occurring in his speeches and epistles, we have the precepts ringing in our ears with epigrammatic terseness and clearness.
 Let us give good heed to both precept and example as a fitting preparation to the great function of this day, as a help to our dear Brother, who is to receive so weighty a charge, as the burden of the Episcopate in its responsibilities and duties, under the awful sanction of an oath to be loyal, and faithful to the end.
When Saul of Tarsus was called from Heaven by the voice of our Lord, and bidden, as His chosen vessel, to go far hence to the Gentiles," the world was lying in spiritual darkness, the darkness of civilized heathenism, of which ignorance was a very large ingredient. The Apostle was given as equipment for his work what we possess, the grace of God as a personal gift, and an official investiture, He was made the recipient of the Faith, "the Gospel," as he calls it when he quotes three articles, as we have them in the Creed, and he was placed in charge, as a "steward," of sacraments and means of grace, which he felicitously terms, "mysteries of God."
We stand before the world today with the same gifts and treasures in possession, but how different a world. It lies in darkness, but its wickedness, which is darkness, has not the apology in anything like the same degree of ignorance. It is not worth our while to consume time in discussing which is the worse from a moral and spiritual [8/9] point of view, the first century or the nineteenth. It is quite enough to describe this age in St. Paul's language, and say of it, whether it be near as man counts nearness, the end of human history or not, "in the last days perilous times shall come, men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." As we listen to this frightful arraignment we recognise the features as represented in society today. St. Paul confronted what meets us, and he had the same supply for his warfare, which is provided for us. God is with us in our office, His grace makes our sacraments His "mysteries," and if we lean only on His support, He is sufficient for us, to make us strong and brave, and able ministers of Jesus Christ.
Can we reach the same glorious results, which crowned St. Paul's labors and warfare? We can, if we discipline ourselves personally, to be what he was, brave, steadfast, loyal.
The root of spiritual bravery is unworldliness, a disregard of all earthly things in the discharge of [9/10] duty to God, and the counting all things as worthless in comparison with the riches of Christ.
Such bravery is not the courage of impulse, but the sustained fortitude of principle. It is not a flash which burns for a moment and then goes out, but it is a steady flame which illumines character and shines along the pathway of life, growing brighter and brighter to the end.
It is easy to be brave on an occasion, for an exhibition, to be seen and admired of men; such bravery is not rare. The stimulus of popular applause, the prospective triumphal march along the "via sacra" made many a Roman valiant, who otherwise would have quailed, and fled from the battle, but the courage, which kept St. Paul with face fixed like a flint all along the line of march from the noonday summons on the road to Damascus to the martyrdom at Rome, is quite a different thing. St. Paul was tempted. Kings and rulers, and the splendor even of the Imperial Court were in his way, blocking his progress. But neither provincial governors nor Nero's palace could blind his eye to the Cross. "God forbid," he says, "that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Compare such facts with the lives of many Bishops in later days, and see how wealth and [10/11] luxury, and the prospect of promotion made cowards of them all. How in Arian times, and later in Nestorian, and Eutychian times, prelates disowned the Nicene Faith at the bidding of princes, and reaffirmed it when told to do so. This is not fighting a good fight. It is shameful desertion, it is foul treason. Let us summon from the past a glorious imitator of St. Paul in fighting the good fight, and exhibit him as an example, which is an inspiration. The Arian Emperor Constantius bade St. Basil surrender the Catholic Faith, and deny the eternity of our Lord's Person. He refused. The Emperor strove to reason with him. He failed. Then Constantius had recourse to threats. He told the Saint he would confiscate his goods if he did not yield, but St. Basil rejoined, I have nothing but a sheepskin, and you may have that in welcome." Then the Emperor said he would banish him. St. Basil answered, "It is not within your Majesty's power to make me an exile, the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and I am always at home with God." Then, in a rage, Constantius said he would kill him, but St. Basil meekly replied, "Thanks, O Sire, for me 'to depart and be with Christ is far better.' "
Imagine Honorius, Leo X, or Wolsey, in such a position, and answer whether you think the fight would have been a good one, as St. Basil's was?
 All along the line St. Paul fought for the faith without the slightest regard to consequences. He used all the means at his command to conciliate and explain, but he never surrendered the truth. In the conflict with a Jew, he stood firm and unflinching for the freedom of the Gentile, resisting St. Peter even to the issue of a personal quarrel. In the heresies about the resurrection he maintained the truth against the scientific wise men of his time, and we owe to such men as abound now, the wonderful, the masterly, the convincing and conclusive discourse on the resurrection of the body in the 15th Chapter of his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. In the assaults upon the faith, so many and repeated, as they are now, he first did himself what he advised St. Timothy and St. Titus to do, "hold fast the sacred deposit," to continue in the things which he had learned, to avoid disputings of science falsely so called." How needful, we may say in parenthesis, are such admonitions for our day and our contemporaries. St. Paul fought the same good fight whether he was in a Jewish Synagogue, on Mars' Hill, in the midst of a Gentile mob, in the presence of princes, or at Caesar's tribunal. His voice was always the same in affirming the fundamental verities of the faith. It was a good fight, because it was not intermitted in the company of men and women of high degree, and in the [12/13] presence of an angry and opposing crowd. Would that we had more consistency of this exalted kind.
Mark the course of Bishops in later days, when they blew hot or cold and in all degrees of temperature between to suit the occasion, and adapt themselves to circumstances. They were and are as this world counts them, wise men; they were and are as the phrase is, "Statesmen-Bishops, and Bishops-Statesmen;" they represented and represent, or thought that they did and do, vain delusion, God and Mammon. "An impossibility, "our Lord says.
Equally outspoken and consistent was St. Paul in his fight for good morals, as for soundness in the faith. Policy was out of the question, when the issue was adultery and incest. The wealthy Church of Corinth is a witness to St. Paul's relentless warfare against vileness in the social circle, and among those professing and calling themselves Christians, though they were the wealthiest and the highest. Can you bring yourselves to imagine Prelates of the last century or the present in quarters where iniquity abounds going with the courage of St. John Baptist, and saying at tremendous worldly cost to themselves, and as they blindly think to their dioceses, and saying, "it is not lawful for thee to have her or him?" Rather they dine with such people and affect to enjoy their elegant [13/14] hospitality. They become in truth, "partakers with the adulterers." What a frightful picture did the last century, and even the present, exhibit of Bishops in England who purchased advancement by condoning iniquity and monstrous sin. Is this century wanting in such examples?
Let the light of the Catholic faith and of sound morals fall upon St. Paul, and he will be seen ever, in every place and with all foes, "fighting the good fight," standing with adamantine firmness against Jewish sectary, and Gentile sophist, against lewdness in Ephesus, and adultery in Corinth. O, blessed example. Look at Paul the aged, and hear him say, as he is about to die the martyr's death, "I have fought a good fight." O, noble athlete, glorious warrior, noble champion of the Faith and good morals, your claim is just, you have fought a good fight, and your poor body, prematurely old and worn out, is a witness to its truth, since it exhibits plainly to every eye "the marks of the Lord Jesus."
(II.) "I have finished my course." One alone could say, "it is finished." The next best thing to be entitled to utter, is what the great Bishop says, "I have finished my course," my lifework on earth is done. I have run well. I have reached the goal. My vocation has been followed, my ministry has been fulfilled. I am near the end; [14/15] I am scarred all over with the wounds of many battles; I am worn out with labors and anxieties; I am feeble, and I long to be released, and depart, and be with Christ, for this is far better. I have not attained, but I press forward. By the grace of God I am what I am," and "His grace is sufficient for me," that I should finish my course with joy, for to me, "to die is gain."
"It is finished, "is the supreme proclamation from the Cross by the Blessed Redeemer, that the work, which the Father gave the Son to do, is done. The plan of redemption is completed, not one jot or one tittle of the majestic scheme has been passed over or forgotten. The law has been fulfilled, the prophecies have been accomplished, the thousand things, which centre in Christ, even to the gall and the vinegar, have been verified, and when there remained not any one thing of the ten thousand, which were to be done, undone, then our Saviour, as the night fell upon Him, and from the supernatural darkness, which shrouded Calvary, cried, "It is finished." He had wrought the works of the Father, Who sent Him, while it was called today, and then when the night came, even though it arrived at noon, He was ready, and could say, "It is finished." This is the summing up of human history. Everything, past, present and future, received its measure from the Cross. The pivot of [15/16] every life was lifted up, and all things were to be complete or incomplete, as they stood related to it in obedience, or rebellion, in submission to its blessed burden, or proud forgetfulness of its claims, or scornful trampling of it under foot. Christ alone could say, and for our sakes He said it, "It is finished." In Him, who strengthens us by His grace, we can say, when we draw near to the end, if we persevere, as the great Apostle said, "I have finished my course." Perseverance is a rare and a hard virtue. The race course has many a golden apple, it has many a concealed pitfall, many a deceptive curve, and unsuspected turning. The struggle wearies, the spirit faints, the courage fails. The stimulus of youth is lost, the zest of fresh endeavor departs, and the siren voices of rest and ease, and compromise, and earthly reward grow louder, or fall upon a more attentive ear, and the runner relaxes his exertions, not from lack of strength, but because he loses by degrees his faith, and spiritual paralysis steals in upon his soul and deadens his will. He goes aside from the straight and narrow way, which leadeth unto life, and turns at length into the broad way, which leadeth to destruction. Alas for him. He began well, but he did not persevere to the end, and life for him is a failure. He finishes no course, his past has no meaning as he looks back with agony over the track; its bright [16/17] beginning he has cancelled with the treason of later years, and the guilt of disobedience, and sloth, and possibly, probably, worse sins. He finishes no course, he ends life in remorse or despair. The old heathen proverb, "Perseverantia vincit omnia" is lighted with a spark of truth from the altar of God. Even in a bad cause perseverance imparts a tremendous power to win. But when the cause is good, success must crown the labors, and efforts, and faith of those who wait, who persevere to win. God is on their side, and they are mightier with His help than all beside.
Look back once more and see the model Bishop as he is ready to be offered, and hear him tell you, I have finished my course." God the Holy Ghost has flashed the bright beams of His light upon that checkered career, and we see it in the Acts of the Holy Apostles, and the Epistles of the Saint. Tortuous it is, and meandering. It reaches from Judaea to Illyricum; it makes a circuit of Asia Minor, and it crosses the IEgean to Greece; it goes over to Macedonia, and it ends in Rome. But though that course goes up and down, and hither and thither in earthly journeys, it is strait and narrow in its heavenly aspect, it leads from Jesus, as He gives the Bishop his great commission, direct onward upward to the goal of martyrdom beneath the headsman's sword in the imperial city. That line of obedience and duty is [17/18] white, and glistering, and it binds the blessed beginning to the blessed end; and would you know the name of that glorious highway from earth's trials and toils, and disappointments, and sufferings to Paradise, and rest, and heaven, and glory, it is "perseverance in the path of obedience and duty." This is the path for every man to follow, this is the path pre-eminently for every Bishop to tread. St. Paul becomes a stimulating example to incite and help others to follow in his footsteps, for the obvious reasons, that he is so much in our sight, and that he endured in labors, afflictions and persecutions, as few beside have ever suffered. Temptations were not wanting to lure him into the by-paths of this world with Demas, and to be numbered with the wise men, as science falsely so called accounts wisdom, but he swerved not either in the courts of princes or amid the wealth of Corinth, or the learning of Athens. In the Cross of Christ St. Paul was crucified to the world. In the foolishness of the Gospel he was blind to the claims of earth's philosophies, and in the sufficiency of grace he was insensible to the allurements of luxury or the subtle influences of wealth.
Christianity was too early in its career to possess as an organization institutions of its own, such as schools, colleges, universities, splendid churches and cathedrals, in St. Paul's day. It was "the sect everywhere spoken against." It was battling [18/19] for its existence, and a place amid the religions of earth to live, and move, and have a being." Hence the great Bishop was not exposed to the temptation, which falls upon his successors in these days, to sell more than their manhood, their religion and their souls, to buy endowments at the cost of temporising with the Faith to the verge of denying it, and condoning immorality to the point of becoming partakers with the adulterers. But we are at no loss to imagine our great exemplar Bishop's course in the courts of modern kings, and potentates, and the parlors and drawing-rooms of immoral and voluptuous millionaires. His adamantine virtue appeals to us from every scar; and his long imprisonment, when a bribe would have set him free, tells the story of his unshaken integrity. He finished his course, he ran the race, he reached the goal, he won the crown, and has left us his example as an inspiration to strengthen, to brace, to stimulate us to follow it.
(III) I have kept the Faith."
A splendid claim. It lays all generations since under obligations of gratitude to St. Paul, who received the deposit, for it is a definite concrete body of revealed truth, of which he speaks, "the Faith." It lays them under a weight of obligation that can never be adequately repaid, that he kept it, and handed it over as a trust to his sons and [19/20] successors in the Episcopal office, to keep, and guard, and transmit in turn to others.
The Bishops are pre-eminently the keepers of the Faith, and the custodians of good morals. They have laid upon their souls at consecration, before the altar, and in the presence of the bread and wine, soon to be set apart by priestly benediction, as the divinely appointed conveyancers of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, they have laid upon their souls at this solemn juncture, and amid these awful solemnities, the sanction of an oath, binding them to be loyal and true, as trustees for God in keeping "the Faith" pure and undefiled; and as sponsors for mankind, that they will maintain as their guardians, good morals and set forward as far as in them lieth godly living.
I would not diminish in any degree the binding obligation of vows and promises, but I would emphasize with all the force I can the terrible strength of an oath.
An oath binds the personality of man to the personality of God. The man, who swears, challenges the eye, the ear, the mind, and heart of a personal God, and in His awful presence he lays upon himself the obligation embodied in his oath to be loyal and true.
Woe be to him, if he prove unfaithful. There is no sin more heinous; there is no sin, as Holy Scripture teaches, which exposes the culprit to more [20/21] fearful punishment at the hand of God. The law and the Gospel alike guard the sanctity of an oath; the law with a threat, the Gospel with prayer. "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh His Name in vain,' says the law. "Hallowed be Thy Name," says the Gospel, as our Lord teaches us how to pray. With this petition we must begin our prayers. Think of the awful impiety of any man, who commits perjury, but can we bear to think of a Bishop, who lives a life of perjury, whose breath, and meat, and drink, is falsehood to his God, and disloyalty to man. Whose lips, one would think, would refuse to utter the petition, in which he must so often lead, "Hallowed be Thy Name" There have been such Bishops in every age, and there are. Bishops are men, and men are often bad, and wherever there are any number of men associated together in any corporation, or order, there will be, with barely an exception bad men, unworthy men, in the body. Judas was one of "the twelve." It is highly probable that one of the seven deacons was like Balaam. In the Episcopate of England during the last century there were many members, whose official lives will not bear scrutiny, and whose private walk and conversation, were not above suspicion. They betrayed the faith. They sold themselves to secularity, to ease, luxury, ambition, the devil, they were [21/22] bad, often worse than bad, unclean. It may be that the present age in this respect is unlike any that has preceeded it, and that inventions, and discoveries, and human progress have lifted the curse from our shoulders, and that we have no bad men among us. Well, it may be so, but let me utter the warning of Holy Scripture, "let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
"I have kept the faith." The Apostle leaves us in no doubt as to what he means by "the faith." The main object of his recorded speeches is to proclaim it. The chief purpose of his epistles is to discuss, explain and enforce it; and the grand consummation of his life was to keep it, and hand it on and down to his successors as St. Timothy, and St. Titus, and others, and to us, to keep and hand on and down, as he did, that we may be able with truth to say, when "the time of our departure is at hand," "we have kept the faith."
St. Paul tells us explicitly what the faith is, when for example he says to the Corinthians, (i Cor. XV., I, 4) "Brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was [22/23] buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Here St. Paul calls "the faith," "the Gospel," and quotes three verities taken out of the midst of "the form of sound words," or the Creed, namely the atoning death of Christ, His burial, and resurrection, as an illustration of his meaning. These articles, be it observed, are culled from the body of the Creed, and necessarily imply what goes before, and follows, and moreover the very form of expression, which forever ties the Creed to the Bible, and which we use today, is employed, "according to the Scriptures." This fact is remarkable and most felicitous, since it indisputably shows us the basis, on which St. Paul and the first followers of Christ believed the Faith to rest, God's inspired Word. Hence it is, that our model Bishop, echoing the command of our Lord, "Search the Scriptures, for they are they, which testify of Me," admonishes us, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
"I have kept the faith," alleges St. Paul, and with faith he stands as the champion of Holy Scripture, which is bound up with that Faith. There were not wanting then, as there are living today many, who seek to deprave God's word, and many who discredit it in whole or in part, and make [23/24] merry over it, as they plume themselves wise men in laughing at what they call its silly childish stories. Science falsely so called plays its part in this blasphemous business, and learned men in this world's learning have more influence with many outside the Church, (this is not surprising,) but most marvelous, within the fold, including, if one can believe it, even Bishops; have more influence with them, than the eye-witnesses of the sufferings of Christ, and of His resurrection. The spell, which Satan throws upon men, is inexplicable. He has a charm for every class and condition, exactly suited to their estate; for the ignorant, the halflearned, and the learned; for the poor, the middle classes, and the rich; for the sensual, the phlegmatic, and the intellectual. For each the devil has his pill compounded to suit their taste and his purpose, and unless they are forewarned, and fortified by the grace of God, they swallow it, and are intoxicated, each after his kind, and like the drunken man, think that they are sober, while they are really drunk.
Alas, that the devil's tricks should still be played with success even with our clergy. Is it not enough that the shore of time for a century back should be strown with the wrecks of lives, which ought to have been saintly, but which went to pieces on the rocks of lax faith, and loose morals, or were swallowed up in the quicksands of [24/25] ambition, or voluptuousness? Is it not enough that the infidelity of Simon Magus, and Celsus, and Porphyry, and Abelard, and the Albigenses, and Priestly, and Tom Paine, should run each its course and come to naught, and leave its votaries discredited, and remembered only to be pitied? Is it so, that while the word of God standeth fast; and the "Faith," the Creed, lifts its head, like the eternal rock in mid ocean, against which the waves beat ceaselessly, and a thousand storms have dashed over it in vain, is it so, that there should be found still men wearing the livery of Christ's ministers, who prefer instead to repose their confidence in German Professors, who have nobody and nothing behind them, and on English and American scholars, whose letters of credit come from Teutonic schools, and are dated in the present decade? Alas, that it should be so, and that it should be hinted that even Bishops should swallow the devil's pill, and prefer to be considered wise and learned with semi-infidel teachers of the present day, rather than incur the charge of being accounted with St. Paul, "fools." The Cross was a "stumbling-block" to the Jew, and to the Greek, "foolishness." The one would substitute his own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ, and the other with the pride of intellect looked down with supercilious contempt and scorn upon the shame of self-abasement and penitential discipline. [25/26] Woe, woe, to the Church when her Bishops rank intellect before morals, and allow learning to condone falsehood in taking Holy Orders.
"I have kept the Faith," proclaims our exemplar Bishop. This he did, as one who runs may read, against addition and denial. The Jew sought to add his system, which had served its blessed purpose, as a preparation for the Gospel, as the acorn holds in germ the oak, the Jew sought to add Judaism to Christianity, and so overload and vitiate it and stunt its growth. St. Paul resisted this effort at the cost of unpopularity, and the risk of life. St. Peter winced and fell a victim like a "Statesman-Bishop and a Bishop-Statesman" to the temper of the times, the spirit of the age. St. Paul resisted him, even to the face. St. Peter was an opportunist in that trial, St. Paul was a Christlike man, an example to the flock of Christ, a model Bishop.
Modern Rome in theology attempts to do, what ancient Jerusalem tried to accomplish, make additions to "the faith once delivered to the saints." Her organization on mere human authority is a copy of the divine plan, which was, as God willed it, temporary, to serve a purpose, as the acorn, and pass away. Rome would perpetuate this organization, and give us Italy for Judea, Rome for Jerusalem, the Vatican for the Temple, and the Pope for the High Priest, and then she [26/27] would enlarge the Creed with her own late additions of Pius IV. and Pius IX. These additions rest upon no warrant of Holy Scripture, nor concensus of the primitive Church, and they must be resisted and refused with the bravery of St. Paul.
Again, in St. Paul's day, as in our own, many sought to deprave the faith, evade its teaching, explain or interpret its truth out of its statements, or deny it. On this line, as on the other, St. Paul stood like adamant to resist the gainsayer, and the infidel. It will be sufficient to point to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, or of the flesh. Witness his magnificent defence of this fundamental verity in the 15th Chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is well for our Church that that Chapter is read at the burial of the dead. The solemnities of the occasion are calculated to impress its teaching upon the minds of all who hear. "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," is God's declaration, and St. Paul, in the face of all gainsayers, declares that dust, the body buried, or cremated, or scattered to the winds, is the basis on which God builds the resurrection, the seed corn from which by divine power He will bring forth the harvest of the glorifled body at the last great day.
It matters not whether Alexander, the coppersmith, did him much harm, or Demas forsook him, or all left his side and fled, he, by the grace of [27/28] God, stood firm, resolute, unyielding, an example to the Bishops of all ages, and pre-eminently to the Bishops of this age, and this land, to be loyal and true, amid the babel of confusion, which is harmonized only by one note, the denial of one or more, or all the articles of the "the faith once delivered to the saints," until the climax is reached in Pantheism or Atheism. Behold St. Paul confronting every heresy, as he stands upon the foundation of the faith built upon Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the head corner stone, and resisting to bonds, and imprisonment, and even to death; and, thank God, dear Brethren, as I have for many a year and do, for the splendid Christian athlete, the invincible gladiator, the spiritual hero, the model Bishop, who, when he was ready to be offered as a martyr on the altar of Jesus Christ, was enabled by the grace of God, to paint his own picture, and for our sakes to present the ideal of a Bishop in the words, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
From the model Bishop, St. Paul, let me turn to you, dear Brother, who are soon, within the hour, to become a Bishop in the Church of God by the laying on of Episcopal hands, let me turn to you and say a few words of most loving greeting and affectionate counsel.
You are relatively where Saul of Tarsus was, when he was called from Heaven by the voice of [28/29] Jesus to be "His chosen vessel, to bear His name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel." You will soon be where Paul, the great Apostle and Bishop, was when he wrote the text, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure' is at hand."
Between these points, dear Brother, lies your Apostleship, your Episcopate, your term of service as a Bishop in the Church of God.
I covet for you the best things. I cannot control the length of your official career; that is wholly in God's hands, but I may be able to influence its character; that is partly in God's hands, and partly in yours. In this sphere God allows us to work with Him. He always does His part completely for every one of us, His grace is sufficient for us, and He expects us to do our part nobly and well.
This is what I am anxious to secure for you, that when you draw near to your end, you may finish your course with joy because you have wrought with God.
There are helps to aid us in this line of endeavor, and now I desire to dwell upon two.
Of course, it is taken for granted, that a man, who leads a holy life, sets God always before himself. He recognizes as the underlying principle of his conscious existence, that "in God he lives, and moves, and has his being." He cries [29/30] from the profoundest depths of his soul with Hagar, "Thou God seest me." But leaving the necessary factors in the religious life, there are exercises and suggestions, which stimulate and quicken, and intensify the spiritual instincts, and help them to bring into subjection the natural man with his passions, and ambitions, and desires.
St. Paul brings into view two, which preeminently helped to influence his life, and make him what he became, the model Bishop for all time and for all Bishops to imitate.
First, St. Paul lived with death ever in his sight. I die daily," he wrote. The times brought death near to every Christian then. The world was mad to persecute and kill them. They knew not what an hour might bring forth. They were hated as a class, and not as individuals, the most dreadful kind of hatred, since it cannot be appeased with any kind of sacrifice, save the renunciation of one's belief and principles. "Deny Christ or die," was the alternative. "To the lions," "to the flames," "to the rack," were the cries, and Christians died by the scores, and the hundreds, and swelled the ranks of the noble army of martyrs. It needed not in those days to remind one's self of mortality, as the mediaeval Bishops occasionally did, by erecting a tomb in their cathedrals at the time of their consecration, and placing upon it a cadaver, a corpse, representing [30/31] themselves in the emaciation of death, and the habiliments of the grave. To visit this, and contemplate it habitually as a reminder of the end of all earthly things, was salutary discipline, and a wholesome restraint upon worldliness, and ambition, and an evil heart of unbelief. This was not necessary for St. Paul and his contemporaries, since persecution supplied the terrible spectacles of confessors' agonies, and martyrs' deaths, and the pathetic lesson was driven down into the depths of their souls, which found expression in the cry, "I die daily."
I do not ask you, dear Brother, to erect a tomb and make a cadaver, but I advise and urge that you should engrave for yourself two mottos, and place the one in imagination at your feet to meet your gaze when you look down, and it is this, "I die daily;" and then the second above your head, to meet your gaze when you look up, and it is this, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." The first will humble you, and help you to put the proper discount on all earthly joys, and honors and success, and teach you that as your Lord, the great Bishop of our souls, descended first before He went up to glory, so you must die before you receive you reward. The second will [31/32] supply to you what must have been a potent factor in St. Paul's experience, to brace him, and sustain him to the end, the vision of his call, the sight of the glorified Saviour; and the revelations of Paradise, when he was caught up to the third heaven. When you look up you will see Paul the aged, the splendid Bishop, shining in the lustre of true bravery, heroic perseverance and unshaken fidelity, and you will hear him say, and the words will be your daily inspiration to nerve you to copy his example, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Then, dear Brother, when the end comes, as it must, when all around you and with you, and under you, clergy and people will mourn and weep because so good and valiant a leader must be taken from them, you will smile and rejoice in the confidence of a true faith, and say, "farewell, dear friends, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that love His appearing." Brother, hear the Master's words to you, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."