DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY OF THE DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD:
Our inclination prompts us to avail ourselves of the provisions of the Canons, that a Bishop, from time to time as he deems occasion requires, shall address his flock upon such subjects as in his judgment may be of advantage to them.
The times are full of trouble in the State as well as in the Church. Among our people generally as well as in the body of the faithful, the same spirit of insubordination, disobedience to law, disloyalty to truth and honour animates alike the nation and what are called religious people.
It is upon this subject we wish at the present time to address you, namely, the untruthfulness of the age, specifically manifested within the Communion of our own Church.
It is our privilege and blessing to be members of the great Anglican branch of the Catholic Church. As such we rest upon the foundation of the settlement made by the entire Christian Body through the undisputed General Councils, before schism rent asunder the Body of Christ.
This settlement concerns the Catholic Faith as embodied in the Apostles' and Nicene Creed, the summary of "the Faith once delivered to the Saints." This settlement unites us with all the branches of the Catholic Church throughout the world to-day, however else we may be separated as [3/4] regards subordinate doctrines and national or ecclesiastical practices. They are one with us in repeating substantially the same form of sound words, in living under the same ecclesiastical government, and in being nourished by the same Sacramental system of Grace.
This we call the Catholic Settlement, the foundation on which the fabric of the Church throughout the world rests, namely, on such fundamental verities as, the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead, the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, His one Personality as the Son of God, and his two natures joined in hypostatic union in His Divine Personality, the Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, the Forgiveness of Sins, the Resurrection of the Flesh, and the Life Everlasting. This body of Divine Truth arranged and formulated by the Universal Church, and affirmed by her to be proved by most certain warrant of Holy Scripture, with her polity of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and her Sacramental system of Divine gifts through outward means, constitutes the foundation on which she stands.
Secondly, as members of the Anglican Communion we rest upon a subordinate settlement, which we may properly term the Reformation Settlement. This concerns as regards its jurisdiction the Anglican Communion only. In general terms it deals with corruptions in doctrine and abuses in practice, which had grown up during the Middle Ages in the Western Patriarchate, and which were rejected by our Mother, the Church of England, at the Reformation, and on the other hand with errors in teaching and life and manners, which were the product of the Protestant individualism of that day, and which still continue to disfigure and injure the cause of Christ. These abuses and corruptions of the mediaeval Church did not directly deprave or destroy any of the fundamental verities of the Christian Faith, they simply overlaid, perverted and sometimes distorted the truth of the Gospel in its application to the needs of men.
 Now these two settlements, the Catholic Settlement which unites us with all branches of the Church of Christ and rests upon the fundamental teachings of Holy Scripture, and the Reformation Settlement which concerns only our own communion and deals with only subordinate matters, are both assailed at the present time by men of position and influence within our communion.
The former assault is transcendently more perilous than the latter because in the first place, it attacks the heart of Christianity, and if its blow succeeds in doing its deadly work, the heart will cease to beat. Jesus Christ will be dethroned as the Redeemer of mankind, and a false philanthropy, which takes into view simply the needs of the present life, will take its place upon the plane of Epicureanism, Sadduceeism and a lax and meaningless Christianity, which uses the nomenclature of the Gospel and behind its mere names has no substance for them to rest upon.
In the second place it is more dangerous because it includes among its votaries a very large number of able, influential and wealthy men, and behind such leadership there follows the great mass of men, who always prefer Universalism as a finality, and a lax low and broad system of teaching as regards faith and morals for the present life.
On these accounts and for others which might be named this assault is transcendently the more dangerous of the two, and for this reason we have hitherto dealt with it alone in such publications as our last Pastoral Letter which we had the privilege of addressing to you entitled "Closed Questions", in our "Open Letter" to the Bishop of Albany, in our Addresses to our Synods of 1892 and 1893 and in our "Danger Signals" just issued from the press.
Inasmuch as it has been supposed that we are indifferent to the other assault because we have not hitherto spoken upon the subject, we desire to say in the first place, that we are limited in our capacity for work and cannot single handed deal with all assailants of the faith and practice [5/6] of the Church at once, and in the second place, in our efforts to protect the Church we have had in mind the relative importance of the assaults. The one attacks the foundation on which the building rests, the other assails the windows and the roof, and perhaps would disturb the furniture within. If the foundation is undermined then the whole fabric must fall into ruins. If the roof and windows and furniture are disturbed or destroyed they can be repaired or renewed, hence we chose the former as the object of our defence of the Church when we found ourselves unequal to the task of protecting at once foundation, windows, roof and furniture. And moreover there have been in the field,. as there always are, a large number of brave champions to fight for the Reformation, so that our services were the less needed in its defence, while for the Catholic Settlement there have been, and are very few to venture their lives, and fortunes, to draw their swords, or raise their voices.
We, have not been insensible to the gravity of the second assault, and we are aware that it is generated by the samespirit of insincerity, untruthfulness and disloyalty as in the former case, only the excuse may be made for those who are indulging in it, that they deceive themselves with the idea that as they are loyal to the foundation settlement which is final, because it is secured by the "Semper", the "Ubique" and the "Ab Omnibus" that they are justified in tampering with the second, the Reformation Settlement, which is not a finality, because it concerns only our own communion, with the hope that they may accomplish, as they would call it, a further reformation in accordance with their own views.
Looking at this movement to overthrow the Reformation Settlement in its moral aspect it rests, so far as we can see,. upon no justifiable ground of support, and in the brief examination which we propose to give to it we shall confine ourselves to one or two particulars only.
In the first place it is right to state that the rubrical system of our Church came in the first generation to a [6/7] people whose experience and practice enabled them to administer and apply it with the help of traditions which they inherited from the past. This fact must never be forgotten that the system of the Church in administration and practice is an inheritance from the past and brings with it the traditions of the past to supply needed explanations and remedy unavoidable defects and inconsistencies in details. It is not a spontaneous product of the present, generated out of men's minds and fancies now to be interpreted as they think right and applied as they deem convenient. This misconception has led to a great many serious mistakes and consequent irritation and misunderstanding on the part of bretheren.
Again, the Reformation, as we have already said, and as the Bishop of New York also said in his excellent letter to the late Bishop Lee of Delaware on the occasion of his receiving by profession the Rev. Fr. Huntington into the Order of the Holy Cross, "the Reformation is not a finality." It was in many respects tentative and was controlled and shaped by the chances and changes of those troublous times.
Many would have gone much farther on almost all the lines of reform, many would not have gone so far. Its course was directed, checked and modified in 1549, 1553, 1559, and again in 1662, in the successive revisions of the Liturgy, and for us some change has been made in our completed Prayer Book of 1892. In the very nature of things therefore the Reformation movement in its practical expression in the form of public worship as guided by our Prayer Book is not and cannot be regarded as a finality in reference to the subordinate matters and details which it touches.
Let it be remembered that no reformation can invade the essential doctrine and polity of the Church of Christ. These are gifts of God to us and that is enough, it settles the question forever. But the Reformation Settlement might be reopened and reconsidered, in no case however could this [7/8] be done, it seems to us, unless it were in a lawful assembly, duly convened under authority representing the entire Anglican Communion. It would be a mistake, we think, for any portion of that Communion, even though it regarded itself as a branch of the Catholic Church, such as the English, the Irish, the Scotch, the American, or the Colonial Churches to attempt to deal independently with questions of doctrine and the administration of Sacraments. It is however within the power of the Anglican Communion to reconsider the Reformation Settlement and make such changes as in its judgment might seem to be desirable and proper. Even here however it must be remembered in whatever action it might take touching any question of doctrine or practice. it must do nothing which would be in violation of the analogy of the faith once delivered to the saints, or in conflict with the definitions and decrees of the undisputed General Councils of the Church.
Another question presents itself in reference to the omissions which have, from time to time, been made in the successive revisions of the Liturgy. We are not referring to the omissions which are covered by the renunciation of false teaching expressly laid down in the Articles and authoritative declarations of the Anglican Communion in her lawful synods, but to omissions which may be in part accounted for by carelessness, in part by the desire to shorten services, and the residue must remain, so far as we know, unexplained. Now the question arises, do such omissions aside from those which are made in consequence of expressed and positive prohibition, carry with them the force of prohibition? It would seem not, and that such a position as would make any omission necessarily a prohibition could not successfully be maintained. For in that case, to illustrate the different classes of omissions by examples, the LI Psalm could not be used on Ash Wednesday until the last revision of our Prayer Book was concluded, owing to the fact that it was accidentally omitted when the Commination Service was thrown out on the adoption of our American Prayer Book in 1789. Again [8/9] the omissions in the Marriage Service in the American Church would prohibit parties from entering into the holy estate of Matrimony, except for causes other than those which are specified in the English Prayer Book. And again, in the celebration of the Holy Communion we would be obliged to use other bread than "such as is usual to be eaten" and must have recourse to some other kind of bread, because the English rubric has been omitted in our Book of Common Prayer. These instances will suffice to show that such a doctrine as is embodied in the statement, "that omission amounts to prohibition," cannot be insisted upon as a hard and fast rule, but in such eases where doubt reasonably arises, reference should be had to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese or jurisdiction.
We are brought then by these reflections to consider the Reformation Settlement under which, as a Church, we are living and growing. We are not required to accept it as a system which in all respects or indeed in many respects corresponds precisely with what we would have made it, had it been in our power to devise and arrange and complete the settlement, but we are obliged by every consideration of honesty and integrity and loyalty to truth, in case we find that we can conscientiously accept it with all its drawbacks as we esteem them, and so enter voluntarily the ministry, we are bound to administer it fairly and squarely in accordance with its laws expressed in any legitimate form, whether of rubric or canon. This statement does not imply that the details specified in every rubric must be literally fulfilled, because the rubrical system of the Prayer Book is not perfect, and there are minute inconsistencies which cannot be reconciled, but it does imply that no one who has taken Holy Orders in our Communion. with the subscription and binding force of his vows holding him, can, as an honest man, revolutionize an Office of the Church, and change it essentially in its character, and make it practically precisely what time Reformation Settlement intended it should not be. It does imply that no right minded man can teach his people to assist him in [9/10] creating a revolution in the public services of the Church, nay in her chief and most solemn service, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is absolutely irreconcilable with the rubrical directions, which lawfully guide and control that service.
There are inexplicable phenomena in life, but amongst them there is no one more mysterious to us than drat which is presented at the present time by men whom we are convinced are, aside from the point which we criticise, unspotted in character, holy in life and excellent in morals, who seem to turn their backs upon their profession, promises, vows, and even oaths, and practically repudiate them in their teaching and the exercise of their office, which they have secured, and could only have secured by making those vows and oaths.
How can it be that men who occupy the highest positions in the Church can say with the awful solemnity of the public, recital of the Creed, that they believe that Jesus Christ is "of the same substance with the Father," that is eternal in His Personality. and go directly out from such a public proclamation of their faith in the sight of God and men and give the right hand of fellowship, their wish of God speed and their benediction of peace to men who deny that Jesus Christ is God and assert that He is a mere creature? How is it that such men can condone the most frightful heresies, too revolting almost to put in print, which smirch the character of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph and make our Lord an illegitimate child in denying His supernatural conception and birth? How is it that such men can assert that they believe in the resurrection of the body in the Creed and implicitly deny this truth in their sermons? How is it that such men can promise that they will administer the Sacraments as this Church hath received the same and in accordance with her order and form, and yet deliberately mutilate those Offices, change them, transform them and make them differ in principle from what they are as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer? How [10/11] is it that men, whom otherwise we hold in high esteem and venerate, can thus shock our moral sense by such conduct as appears to us to be absolutely immoral?
We confess we are at a loss for an explanation, The only approach to a solution that has ever been suggested in our experience (and it goes only a little way in that direction) we will draw from a reminiscence of the past. We met in Cambridge, England, many years ago, a venerable priest in English Orders who had come up to the University to cast his vote as a member of the governing body to which he belonged. In the course of conversation he developed the fact that he was a Unitarian, he denied explicitly the eternity of Christ's Person. We asked him in amazement, how as a priest in the English Church he could conscientiously repeat the Nicene Creed, "Why," said he, 'that is easy enough, I can do it without the slightest difficulty, the Church, my young friend, (we were young then,) is a department of the State and I am an officer of the Church, the State puts in my hand, by her statute law, what she calls the Prayer Book and bids me use it in my public ministrations. I do it as an obedient son of the State, and it is a matter of no consequence to me what it contains. I am not responsible for its truth or falsehood, I simply act under the direction of the State, precisely as I would were I in the military service of my country. Suppose, for example, I were an officer in the army and I was ordered to go and fight for the Mohammedans in Turkey and against the Christians in Russia, I would not stop to enquire whether I personally thought it right to help the cause of the false prophet and fight in his behalf against the Christians, but I would instantly obey, and go to the war and do the best that I could whether the cause of my country was in my opinion righteous or wicked. So precisely now I shelter myself under the protection of the crown of England. I don't believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, but the State enjoins upon me, as her officer, to say that I do believe in it, and so I go on as a loyal and obedient son of the State, in [11/12] proclaiming to the world, that I do believe in that and a great many other things in which I do not believe." In this frightful exhibition of anomia, which has never ceased to thrill us with horror for thirty years and more, you have, beloved brethren, the only possible explanation that we can give of the conduct of these men, who embrace the Catholic Settlement and the Reformation Settlement with their lips and repudiate them with their acts.
Brethren beloved, let us warn you with all the earnestness we can, as one of the chief Pastors under Him Who is "the Way the Truth and the Life," against such evil examples, whether you see them in bishops, priests, deacons or laymen. Let us warn the clergy against insincerity and evasion and sophistry in seeking to lift the obligation of their ordination vows. Let us admonish them that for them the Creed of Christendom, the definitions and decrees of the undisputed General Councils as interpreting and applying Holy Scripture, and embodied substantially in our Liturgy, bind them to the Catholic Settlement. Let us admonish them that the Offices of our Prayer Book with their rubrical directions, and the Thirty-Nine Articles, bind them to the Reformation Settlement. Let us suggest that the Catholic Settlement is a finality and cannot be undone, but that the Reformation Settlement is one that may in time to come be amended, and modified, possibly improved, but that this may not be done, cannot be done by individual will or caprice, since in that case it could not be well done; but it must await in God's good time the action of the great Anglican Patriarchate deliberating under authority in lawful synod duly convened to adjust such grave matters. Let us beg of our brethren to remember that the Thirty-Nine Articles guard us on the right hand and on the left. If they have made provision, and they have in abundance, to guard against the corruptions and abuses of mediaeval Romanism, they have as many safeguards against the vagaries in doctrine and practice of modern Protestant sects. If for example they forbid "the Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, [12/13] Worshipping and Adoration as well of Images as of Reliques, and also Invocation of Saints," so on the other hand they forbid the irregular services of men not lawfully called to minister at God's altar, the errors of the Pelagians and the Anabaptists and the host of sects which were the product of the Reformation period. Thus our Thirty-Nine Articles while they are not perfect in form, as indeed is true of the entire Reformation Settlement, still they are a, blessed heritage from our mother the Church of England, and we must guard them as our protection against mediaeval corruption in doctrine and practice and protestant misbelieve and unbelief and wild individualism.
There are many things, dear brethren, we would fain say to you, but we must confine ourselves to what is paramount in importance. We must leave others to discuss trifling matters of dress and decoration, but when the very foundation of Christ's Church is threatened and assailed it is our part and duty, yours and ours, to stand for the defence of Christ and His Church.
We cannot close more appropriately than by thanking you from the depths of our heart for your generous and cordial endorsement of our course in reference to the issues of the day, which you embodied in a preamble and resolution at our last synod and gracefully sent to us as an expression of your sympathy and pledged support.
Thanking you for this, dear brethren, and your many other kindnesses to us, and commending you to God's Grace, we remain faithfully your Bishop and Brother in Christ,
GEORGE F. SEYMOUR,
Bishop of Springfield.
AUGUST 1st, 1894.
 NOTE.--Extract from the minutes of the Sixteenth Annual Synod of the Diocese of Springfield, pp. 27, 28.
Resolution unanimously passed by the Synod, expressing its sympathy with the Bishop, and pledging him its support in his efforts to defend the Faith.
"The Rev. J. C. White then offered the following resolution:
Be it Resolved, By the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Springfield, in Synod assembled, that we desire to record our entire sympathy with our beloved Bishop in his earnest struggle for and maintenance of the Catholic Faith against the encroachments of those who depreciate that Faith, and would bring reproach upon our dear Mother, the Church, and that we hereby pledge him our prayers and support.
The President called the Bishop of Cairo to the Chair, and retired.
The resolution was strongly and loyally supported by many members of the House, both Clerical and Lay, and adopted by a unanimous standing vote."