gress, for the Conversion of the World.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM A. HALL.
BALTIMORE, 21ST April, 1860.
REV. AND DEAR SIR,
THE Protestant Episcopal Brotherhood, at a special meeting, unanimously passed the following resolution:--
"Resolved, that the President be requested to convey to the Rev. Dr. Randall the special thanks of the Brotherhood, for the very able and instructive discourse delivered before them, as well as their high appreciation of the same, and respectfully to ask a copy thereof, for publication."
In accordance with which I have the honor to transmit the same to you, trusting you will comply with the request therein contained,--believing, as we do, that a more extensive circulation of your excellent discourse will tend greatly to the extension of Christ's
Kingdom, in awakening the Church to its primitive working, under the three distinct Orders of the Ministry, established by our blessed Lord Himself, and which He promised to be with, to the end of the world.
With great respect,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
E. S. COURTNEY,
President of the Pro. Episcopal Brotherhood.
To REV. GEO. M. RANDALL, D.D.,
BOSTON, May 8, 1660.
MY DEAR SIR,
Your letter in behalf of the Brotherhood, requesting a copy of my sermon for publication, was duly received.
Deferring to their judgment, I comply with their request, trusting that the Great Head of the Church will bless its publication, to the promotion of His glory, in the increase of His Kingdom.
Very truly yours,
GEO. M. RANDALL.
E. S. COURTNEY, Esq.,
President, &c., Baltimore.
"THEREFORE, MY BELOVED BRETHREN, BE YE STEADFAST, UNMOVEABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, FORASMUCH AS YE KNOW THAT YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN IN THE LORD."--1 COR. XV. 58.
ST. PAUL sometimes wrote to ministers, and told them their duty, and how to perform it. At other times he wrote to laymen, and set forth the great doctrines of the Gospel, as truths to be believed,--duties to be done,--promises to be enjoyed,--and blessings to be, by them, conferred upon others.
As an application of his inspired argument for the resurrection of the body, he addressed the brethren of the Church at Corinth, in the words of admonition and of promise, which I have just read. From the tenor of this language, it is evident that the apostle clearly saw, in the Kingdom of Christ, a living element of evangelical power residing in the great body of believers. He speaks of a "work" to be done, and that "work" was "the work of the Lord;" and His disciples were to do it, and they were so to do it as to "abound in it," [3/4] and that "always." There would never be an age of the world, nor a condition of the Church, when that work would not press upon the people of God, and demand, not merely their countenance, but their constant and consistent co-operation; so that this "work of the Lord" should never be too high for them, nor they too high for it. He connects this admonition with the assurance, that such "labor will not be in vain in the Lord." In other words, the divinity of the plan will secure the humanity of the instrument from all possibility of failure, in consequence of its inherent imperfection. Thus Christ committed to His Kingdom a power essential to the success of His cause, which he lodged in the hands and hearts of the "brethren;" that is: He gave the laity something to do, and commanded them to do it, and promised to bless the doing of it to His own glory in the triumph of His Gospel.
That the Church does not now have that measure of success, which crowned the life and labors of God's ministry and people in her earliest and purest age, is a fact which nobody denies. Why is it, that, in these days, with facilities for publishing the truth, and sending missionaries of the Cross to the ends of the earth, such as the world has never known before, so little comparative progress has been made? "God is the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever,"--and so is His Son,--and so is His Gospel. Truth changes not, nor does God's grace. The Holy Spirit is the same in its offices and in its fruits, as in the apostolic age. The human heart in its hardness, the mind in its dulness, the will in its stubbornness, are the same that they ever [4/5] were. Now if God be the same, and human nature the same, and the Gospel the same, and yet there is a wide difference in the measure of the Church's success, then the cause of this failure must be found somewhere in the instrumentality--either in the means themselves or in the mode of their employment. It becomes us to discover, if possible, where the fault lies, that in its removal, Zion may arise from the dust of her apathy and go forth to her work, with renewed strength and ghostly courage.
We must find our way to the fault, by following out the great principles on which the Kingdom of Christ has been founded, and by which alone it is to accomplish its mighty purposes of grace.
In the first place, God has ordained His Church to be the sole means for the world's conversion. In this work, therefore, it can have no rival. Having organised it with its ministry and ordinances, and having promised to be with it, to the end of the world, He has made it the instrument of its own extension. He wrought miracles in its foundation, but He has never promised to do any such thing in the erection of the superstructure. As the means are exclusive, i. e., no other can answer the end, so also the mode of their use is exclusive, because the mode is divine, since it is a matter of revelation. Although no man may be so mad as to attempt to regenerate the world, independently of the Church of Christ, yet intelligent and well meaning Christians may make a sad if not a fatal mistake, touching the method by which the ordained means are to be employed. While they zealously hold to the [5/6] divinity of the instrumentality, they neutralise its results by a misuse of it. For example: It is not enough to have a Church; we must have a ministry as well. But a Church and ministry would not answer the end without Sacraments. Nor could a Church, with only a Ministry and Sacraments, fulfil the conditions so as to secure the divine approval, in the form of success, without a preached Word. Again the fact of a ministry is not sufficient. It must be a ministry such as Christ has ordained, in respect to its Orders: their number, and their relative authority and duties. If he has ordained Three Orders, then the world will never be converted by One nor by Two. If the Church make the experiment of attempting to conquer the adversary by any thing less or by any thing more, then, though she may maintain an organic existence, her activities will be little else than a staggering struggle, with no advance. So, also, if there be any other element of power, which the Divine Head of the Church has woven into the texture of the Constitution of His Kingdom on earth, then it cannot consummate its glorious commission, if that element be entirely wanting or be essentially impaired. These powers and appliances must not only be, but each must have its proper place and due relation to every other, and to all. When this relationship is disturbed, then, as a natural consequence, progress is hindered.
But our instrumentality is complete. We must therefore look for the failure of the Church to reach the measure of the primitive success somewhere in its administration. We shall not find it in our Orders of [6/7] the ministry, for we have Bishops, PRIESTS AND DEACONS. But may we not find it, at least in part, in the mode of that ministry.
We have BISHOPS, but are they after the primitive pattern, except in the single fact that their authority is Apostolic and their character Godly? Is the office, in its practical administration, such as it was in the first ages of the Church? When the office of a Bishop was made a part of the Christian ministry, was it for the mere functional purpose of laying on of hands? Or was the chief minister to be simply an executive officer--a man appointed to do the hard thinking and the hard labor of a good Governor? Surely not. His commission was that of an apostle, clothed with power to send others to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments; a chief Pastor to look after and feed the flock of Christ. Now a flock does not consist of shepherds, but of sheep; and while the Bishop was to have the oversight of the shepherds, he was, like the great and good Shepherd, in some measure, "to know the sheep." His duty was to go in and out among the flock, and see how they do--how they were fed and how they fared.
God saw from the beginning that just such a ministry was a necessity. The Church needed it;--the welfare of souls required it, and so He ordained it, and therefore there can be no possible substitute for it, since nothing that is divine can be improved upon by any thing that is human. Every act of an Omniscient Being must in so far partake of His own infallible wisdom as not to admit of amendment. That this was the [7/8] mind of the Great Master, in the apostolic constitution of the ministry, is seen from the practice of the primitive Church. The very limited extent of the dioceses of the early Church, and the pastoral mode of their administration, is a conclusive testimony as to what was the meaning of such a ministry in the minds of the apostles, and how it was to be a means for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. This was the Episcopacy of the primitive Church; what was their success we know very well. Now, what is our Episcopacy, and what is our success? These, also, we know equally well. We know that while we have the apostolic succession of the Episcopate, its administration is far enough from the apostolic model. The Bishop of our times is not so much a Pastor as a President. So far from that fraternal familiarity which would enable him to "call the sheep by name," in some of our dioceses, big enough for a kingdom, he is hardly able to call all the shepherds by name. How can it be otherwise, when only once in one or two years he makes a hurried visit to a parish of a few hours, and then is off to another point, to make another visit, equally hurried, official and functional. A few of the lambs come near enough to him to receive "the laying on of hands," but the flock are at a distance, and so remain. They see him and he sees them, and this is the beginning and end of his "pastoral" visit, until he comes again in the course of another year, to make another such visitation. The extent of his diocese, and the executive duties of the office pressing upon him at home, do not allow him to do more. This is surely a very wide departure from the [8/9] practice which obtained in the apostolic age. If the primitive Episcopacy was in accordance with the will of the Great Head of the Church, and the primitive practice was a just exponent of that will, then it is evident that in this regard, we are not using the divinely ordained means in that mode, which is in accordance with the will of God, and to which He has promised His blessing.
Again. God has ordained a third ORDER OF MINISTERS, denominated DEACONS. They were appointed to preach, baptize, and "serve tables." They were to be men distinguished not so much for learning as for "honest report." They were and they were to be a distinct Order of men. Their duties were defined. Their qualifications corresponded with the nature of their duties. This office, though subordinate, was nevertheless important; so important that the Christian ministry was not complete without it; and its practical operation, in the work of the world's conversion, is not complete without it. There is no evidence that the first Seven Deacons were ever any thing but Deacons. As such they lived, labored and died, and went to their reward. It matters not that human reason may fail to perceive and appreciate the need of such a ministry in the Church. It is enough for us to know the fact, that such an Order has been ordained by Divine Authority. The propriety, the purpose and the profit of such a class of ministers have been placed beyond the reach of the cavil of curious Christians or skeptical philosophers.
As the Diaconate has been thus divinely constituted, [9/10] so it must be not only perpetuated, but it must be maintained just as it was ordained to be. As it has an entity, so it must have an office, so much its own that it cannot as well be performed by either Bishops or Presbyters. How, then, does our practice in this regard correspond with the primitive usage? Where, I ask, is our Order of Deacons, as an Order? Where is that distinct body of men who are especially set apart to preach, baptize, and serve tables? The same God who made the Levites a subordinate ministry in the Jewish Church, made Deacons a subordinate ministry in the Christian Church. We have indeed some clerical candidates for the Priesthood, not many, performing the duties of Pastors of Churches, but where is the DIACONATE, seen and known as such, doing the duties of that office? We have Bishops, and can readily point to them as a distinct body of men, known by the fact of their consecration, and by the performance of the specific duties of their apostolic office.
We have a body of Presbyters, known to the Church and known to the world as such, by their ordination, and by the duties of their Order, and when challenged, we can readily point them out. But when those who differ from us, in the matter of a three-fold ministry, ask us to show them our "third Order" of the ministry, we are not a little embarrassed. Our departure from primitive practice has involved us in a humiliating dilemma. We may, perhaps, point to a single Deacon, if we are fortunate enough to find him, somewhere in the Diocese, occupying a Presbyter's place, and trying to do a Presbyter's work; but as a body of ordained [10/11] men, constituting a distinct order of the ministry, with their own specific duties, we cannot point them out, for the reason that there is no such distinct and distinguishable Order in the Church.
Are we not making the experiment of attempting to convert the world, by an instrumentality something less than that, which God has ordained to this end? Have we succeeded? Shall we succeed?
Ours is an Episcopal Church, but is it not a fact, strange as it is startling, that in consequence of such a departure from the apostolic principles of the early Church, in regard to the first and third Orders of the ministry, we are actually endeavoring to carry forward. the Kingdom of God by an immense Presbyterial force, marshalled under an Episcopal banner? But if the conquest of the world is to be achieved by the great army of the PRESBYTERS, then why have any Bishops? If all the work is to be done by the second Order, then why not dispense with the first and third, and so have credit for the consistency of a theory somewhat in accordance with our practice? Can we rightly or reasonably hope for success, in the use of an instrumentality so wanting in that apostolic adjustment of its respective parts, as to make its practical operation palpably contradictory of the Gospel system? Are we then surprised at our want of success? The fault is not surely in our polity; not in the Orders of the ministry; not entirely in the want of holiness and zeal on the part of the ministers; not in the evangelical provisions of a Scriptural Liturgy. Does not our own observation indicate the point of departure, and [11/12] may we not from this point, trace the slow progress of the Church in its modern mission, to extend the Redeemer's Kingdom among men? If we were to return to the primitive practice in respect to the size of our dioceses, and in the strictly pastoral character of our Episcopacy, so that the Bishop, as the Chief Shepherd, should be the first missionary in his diocese, [Note A.] and should know and love his flock, and so identify himself with every department of the work of which he is the overseer, as to make its interests his own; going in and out among them more as a "Father in God," than a Ruler in the Church,--should we not behold a change coming over our communion, which would reveal itself to all, as the returning sunlight of that blessing, which has been for ages kept back by a wrong use of right means? We may be assured that with a return to primitive usage, there would be,--other things being equal,--a return to primitive success.
So, again, in regard to the third Order of the ministry. If DEACONS, as such, were not needed,--if they were not essential, they would never have been ordained. If the labor of laymen would have answered the end equally well, then the Diaconate would not have been made a part of the ministry. If "serving tables" had not a great deal to do with serving the Lord, in connection with preaching and baptizing, then such an order of ministers would never have been constituted by Christ. The Church, by her practice, has virtually ignored this feature of the Gospel economy. She is making the more than awkward [12/13] experiment of endeavoring to carry the Ark of the Lord over the earth, on one main wheel, in place of three, duly adjusted by a Divine hand. The consequences are just what intelligent men ought to have expected.
Another question, quite germain to this subject, finds its pertinency in the present state of the Church. Do the LAITY justify the position assigned them in Christ's Kingdom "by doing the work of the Lord;" by "abounding it," and that "always?" These three things are to be verified in the faithfulness of the faithful. Certain it is, that if they fail in either or in all of these, that failure will become a detriment to the cause of the Gospel, whose chariot wheels will drag heavily, and the Divine Word will not "have free course and be glorified." The present prevailing spiritual lethargy compels us to look in this direction, for some of the causes that are producing and perpetuating this sad state of things. The notion has but too commonly obtained, that because God has ordained a ministry to preach His Gospel and govern His Church, the great body of the brethren are little more than a sort of passive material, to be wrought as living stones in the Temple, by the hand of the clergy,--that to fill up and adorn that Temple was their main mission, and consequently, having submitted to the will of God in the matter of their own salvation, they had little more to do, than to abide and grow; content with this, because anything more would be out of place, and might be regarded as an encroachment upon the prerogatives of the clergy. This may be spiritual modesty, but it is not vital Christianity. [13/14] There is no such evangelical inertia in the Kingdom of Christ. That Kingdom is a camp filled with living soldiers, surrounded by a living enemy, with whom a great battle is to be fought,--over whom a great victory is to be achieved. But this enemy is too strong, the field too wide, the issues too momentous, to admit the supposition that a few feeble men, with an ambassador's commission in their hands, with no army of well organized and well disciplined soldiers at their command, are to gain this victory, and reclaim the heritage of God from the dominion of the devil. Nor can they accomplish this more certainly or more readily, if they have a muster-roll mighty for the number of those who have been "signed with the sign of the Cross, and made the soldiers of Jesus." The archadversary will never be much scared by a formidable array of names. If the great communion of the brethren are soldiers only in "THE SIGN OF THE CROSS," and are valiant only in the records of the Church, then, as to all practical effectiveness, Christ's Kingdom has but a "standing army,"--an army that has stood so long as to be encased in the dust of their own rusty weapons. It is true, that all activity is not entirely wanting. In every branch of the Church the "brethren" are more or less busy. But is their labor "the work of the Lord," done in the Lord's way? If it be wanting in either or both of these particulars, it will fail to further the cause and Kingdom of Christ.
"The work" of the ministry is no part of "the work" of the laity. If, therefore, laymen become zealously engaged in doing that which properly [14/15] belongs to the authorized ambassadors of Christ, then we have no right to look for God's blessing, since, though it be His work, it is not done in his way.
The past history and present condition of the Christian Church, afford abundant illustrations of the error, which has done so much to neutralize that element of power entrusted to the people of God as a talent, for purposes connected with the prosperity of the cause of Christ. Take, for example, the policy and practice of the Romish Church. In every age whole armies of her ablest laity have been buried alive in her monastic sepulchres. So far from girding on the whole armor of God, and going boldly forth, like good soldiers, to mingle in the thickest of the fight, they have been encouraged to hide their heads and hearts, lest they should be wounded by a fiery dart of the wicked, and so for spiritual safety they seek, retirement, at the very moment, when, for efficient usefulness, they should seek and sustain an exposed activity. It may be said that in such hiding-places they have done much good. No doubt they have. This is not the point. The question is, are the followers of Christ, whoever and wherever they may be, fulfilling the vows of Christian baptism,--rightfully and manfully contending against the world, the flesh, and the devil, as good soldiers, sealed to the service of the Great Captain of their salvation, in a war which is to end only with life,--when they are seeking ease and obscurity, that they may keep their souls free from the contaminating atmosphere of a wicked world? Religion is a reality, and so is its "work." Its regenerated life does not consist in simply [15/16] sleeping in a hospice, nor in standing sentry in a cloister, to watch the light of the world's learning, that it do not go out. Indolence is no part of Godliness. To retire from the world for fear of it, is a degree of cowardice of which a Christian soldier should be ashamed.
On the other hand, among the various Protestant denominations, the laity are more or less active. In some of them they do the work which more properly belongs to the ministry, in the matter of conducting public religious services. Exhortation is a marvellously easy method of doing a Christian duty; requiring but little labor and still less self-denial. Words are cheap. Not unfrequently there is a manifest discrepancy between the precepts and the practice of men, who are given to much hortatory labor, which has the effect to hinder rather than to hasten the work of the Lord. All such activity is a waste of power, and contributes but little to the true progress of Christ's Kingdom.
But how stands the case in our own branch of the Church catholic? The lay element is here distinctly recognized, and in legislative and executive matters the primitive theory is well carried out. The laymen of our Communion control the parishes. They have co-ordinate power with the clergy in our general and diocesan councils. They hold prominent places in the boards of Church institutions. They have much to do with the machinery of missions. In no part of Christendom do they occupy so important a position, or exert so great an influence in all matters pertaining to [16/17] the faith, worship, polity and practice of the Church, alike in her broader and more minute operations for the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of the world. We have carefully enough avoided the monasticism of the Romanists on the one side, and the semi-ministerial office of the Protestant denominations on the other; but in all this we have fallen far short of realizing the full measure of the true influence of the laity, as an clement of power in connection with the progress of the truth. We must indeed have a government of law. There must be order in the Church, or the Church can never cure the disorder there is in the world. There must be general, diocesan and parochial organizations, or there could be no unity of action. While this is needful and absolutely essential, it is not all that we must have, in order to that efficiency which will secure success.
The ability of a country to extend its dominion by overcoming its enemies, does not lie wholly or chiefly in its congress, however wise or worthy its senators. That body may have, as it ought to have, the war-making power, but these able legislators do not constitute the rank and file of that army, which must take the field and fight the battles, that are to crown the contest with victory. Thus it is and must be in the Church. The "work" of the brethren to which St. Paul refers in the text, so closely linked to the success of the Gospel, is not simply the work of making rubrics, enacting canons, and doing the duties of' a parish vestry. While these labors are not only proper but essential, they are but the modes of effectiveness, [17/18] the regulating power which acts as a balance-wheel to the ecclesiastical machinery connected with the Church's progress, and are therefore not the work itself. Yet this is well nigh all we have, which is indeed acceptable and profitable as far as it goes, but as everybody must see, is very far short of that "work of the Lord" in which every layman of the Lord should be engaged, with all his mind and might. If, therefore, our Church is in any degree failing to fulfil her great mission, by not meeting either the requirements of her Divine Head or the necessities of a dying world, may we not look for one cause of this failure in the fact that the brethren,--the body of baptized believers,--that consecrated host who have been "signed with the sign of the Cross,"--are not doing the Lord's work, in the Lord's way? We are at no loss for illustrations as to what the world understands by "work," and the mode of successfully doing it. The merchant, who aims to accumulate a fortune, does not rest content with good laws nor with a just and wise administration of them. Without these, he might not be able to succeed; but with them, there must be that individual interest and personal effort,--that direct attention to business,--that intelligent and untiring activity,--which have been made the price he must pay for the boon which he seeks. The philosophy of the whole matter is simply the employment of certain means to produce a given result, in accordance with the provisions of a well-known law. It is thus in every department of this lower life. On the basis of this general principle is the Christian to act, in relation to [18/19] the end which he proposes to reach, which is, the triumph of truth, the conquest of a common enemy, the complete possession of what that enemy has, and its consecration to the service of God. Does anybody suppose, that the disciple can make this gain by merely looking after the legislative and executive affairs of Christ's Kingdom on earth? Wise laws are profitable; parish business is important; and neither should be neglected. But if that power which Christ bath committed to the brethren, for the furtherance of his cause is to be dwarfed into dimensions so narrow, and is to be thus spoiled of its effectiveness, we shall be compelled to look for a long time, before we find such a blessing upon a talent in a napkin, as will satisfy the longing eyes of the faithful, and fill heaven and earth with the hallelujahs of a redeemed people.
We are prone to point with pride to the polity of our Church, in distinction from that of other communions around us, as possessing an element of preeminent excellence, in giving to the laity so much influence in the government of the Church, whereby they have not only a voice in the enactment of its laws, but in the admission of ministers to Holy Orders, and even in the election and consecration of Bishops. Now this very excellence may prove a snare, by serving to beguile us into the indulgence of a spirit of self-complacency and of consequent inefficiency.
With the exception of contributing more or less liberally to the cause of missions, to the erection of churches, and to the support of church institutions, what are the brethren doing as a body of laborers, [19/20] whose vocation is that of soldiers and servants? These are indeed significant names by which the disciples of Christ are called. If, then, they are "soldiers," made such by the Great Captain of their salvation, where is the field, and where is the fight? If they are "servants," made such by Him, who "Himself was among His people as one that serveth," where are the toils of a willing obedience and the trials of a self-denying service? It has only the force of folly to point to our matchless polity,--the beauty of our theory and the perfection of our machinery, working so harmoniously, and alas, so noiselessly, that the world does not hear it, and the enemy is no where startled by it,--when this is all we have to show. We may continue to go on thus, and possibly work out our own individual salvation, but it will take many ages at this rate, to work out the world's salvation. I am discussing no new point. This alarming deficiency in the employment of powers which Christ has committed to his Church, has been long seen and long lamented, but it remains unremedied. This conviction led the late General Convention to attempt to recover, what the Church has lost by her neglect. That Convention appointed a large and highly respectable committee, consisting of one layman from each diocese in the country, to bring about a reform. In the success of this scheme, I confess to some doubt. Here is a huge evil weighing upon the Church and checking her progress. This measure looks like an attempt to dislodge it by seizing upon the short end of the lever. We have no lack of legislative machinery. Conventional endorsements and [20/21] canonical provisions are not the want of the Church. Of these, we have and always have had an abundance. What the Church wants, and what the world needs, is just precisely what the vows of our Christian profession demand, viz.: individual activity,--conscientious, systematic and sanctified effort on the part of every "member of Christ." We want that intelligent zeal which is kindled by love, and burns by faith, and brings forth the fruits of the Spirit. We want an army, baptized with the Holy Ghost, that shall move with serried ranks, in one direction, as one man,--a regenerated body whose heart beats with one pulse, who thinks with one mind, and aims at one end. To have this, we must begin at the foundation. Our parishes must be the scene of the commencement and the consummation of this reform. "The work of the Lord" is to be done by "the people of the Lord."
When shall we accomplish a purpose so vitally connected with the Church's prosperity? I answer, not until the laity realize that baptismal obligations are as comprehensive and as binding upon them as they are upon the ministry,--that in the seal of the covenant they were as much made the soldiers of Christ as they were, who have been ordained to preach the Gospel, and that in the matter of self-consecration and self-denial the Gospel makes no manner of distinction between the ministers of Christ and the people of Christ. Ordination vows simply change the soldier into an officer. They add nothing to the verity of his allegiance. They create a difference only in the mode of obedience, none whatever in the nature or the degree [21/22] of its obligation. While he who ministers at the altar is to do the work of the Lord which pertains to his office, because he is a servant of the Lord, so the disciple, in his sphere, is to do the work of the Lord, because he too, in like manner, is the servant of the Lord. There is to both the same cause, the same Captain, the same contest, the same pledged victory, and both are to share the same promised rewards. This entire work for the conquest of the world, is the work to which the Christian is dedicated from the very moment he becomes "the child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven;" a work which he is sworn to do, "in that state of life to which it shall please God to call him." He need not step aside from that calling to do it, and that, too, in the most effectual manner. It is a part of the divine plan, that the disciple shall be a light to shine just precisely in that spot where God graciously gives him his habitation. His time, talents and opportunities are all ordered and adjusted, in God's providence, in reference to his adaptation to the work which has been given him to do, and his success in it. The fact that God does not call him to preach, is no evidence that He does not call him to act an important part, in carrying on His great purpose of love and life. The want of a commission to command is no excuse for his neglecting to serve in the ranks, throughout that campaign which Christ has commenced, and which his people are to carry on, against the enemy of God and man. It was in reference to this duty which we owe to our fellow men, that Christ gave the second great commandment, to "love [22/23] our neighbor as ourselves." If a Christian man's duty began and ended in his own salvation, then to love God supremely would be the sum of his religion and the measure of his service. But God has not so ordered. When the Christian professes his faith before men, he enters into new relations to all the world. This great principle the Church recognizes and carries out in her baptismal service. She takes the infant, and "baptizes him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" thus his dedication to God is made complete. But she does not give that child back into its mother's arms, until she has signed him with the sign of the cross, and thereby made him "a soldier and servant of Jesus Christ, unto his life's end;" thereby making the baptismal service to forever and precisely correspond to the great law of the Christian's life.
Thus in the very beginning, the cross is laid by the hand of the Saviour upon every child in his adopted family, and that child must carry that cross to his grave, or cast it aside by the way. He cannot lighten the load by sharing it with another. Nor can he hope, by bearing only the lighter end of it, to make his Christian life a pilgrimage of pleasure, which shall be rewarded at last by a crown of glory. There can be no such compromise in this spiritual service. To this end, the brethren must realize that they are not their own; that "they have been bought with a price;" that neither what they are nor what they have is their own. Christ has paid the ransom in his own blood, and therefore they are his by purchase. They do not [23/24] belong to the world; they do not belong to their friends; they do not belong to themselves. To live for the world--its possessions or its pursuits, its distinctions or its diversions--is a denial of the obligation of their Christian calling, a contradiction of their religious profession, a repudiation of their baptismal vows. It is "in their bodies and in their spirits that they are to glorify God;" so that "whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they are to do all to His glory." It is in the fulness of this consecration that the true idea of Christian stewardship is apprehended and appreciated.
Much of that foundation fault which we are in search of, is to be traced to the want of the conviction, that every Christian is a steward of Christ; that his goods, many or few, his wealth of mind, large or small, his circle of influence, wide or narrow, are talents entrusted to him for a special purpose, and for a limited time, and for their use he must render an account. "Every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." These gifts differ in their nature, number and degree. They have been discriminately bestowed by the hand of an Omniscient God. There is no such thing as a chance-lot in His Kingdom of Grace or Providence. What a man has, God gives him, and that for a purpose. It is bestowed with direct reference to what that person is capable of doing, "in that state of life to which his Creator has called him." If every Christian is a steward, because he has a talent, then every Christian has something to do, and something to answer for.
 His talents consist of whatever he is, or has, or is capable of acquiring, which can be used for the benefit of himself, the good of others, and the glory of his Redeemer. It is simply a giving to others what God has given to us, for their benefit and His praise. It is offering to Him, as a sacrifice, what He has bestowed upon us as a gift.
The laity must see all this, and they must feel it, before they will fill the measure of their duty, and show to the world what part God has given them in the work of the world's conversion.
We live in a prosperous land, and (as almost a necessary consequence,) in a selfish age. MAMMON is mighty with the multitude. Alas ! it is the god which great multitudes swear by and live for. The atmosphere, tainted by the presence of this spirit of idolatry, steals into the Church, and her members feel the palsying power of its poison. When the love of Christ shall completely cast out the spirit of Mammon from the heart, and make itself supreme there, then the silver and the gold will be inventoried as belonging to the Lord, and the rich steward will no longer be testified against by the rust of his riches. He will not compel the Church to wait until he is dead, for another to distribute that, which can no longer avail for himself; but he will be his own executor, and with his own hand will bestow his Christian charities, and with his own eyes behold the results of his religious benefactions.
In order to the full development of that power which Christ has lodged with the laity for the advancement [25/26] of His Kingdom, there must be, in connection with a true conviction of Christian obligation, the cultivation of a high standard of personal holiness. PIETY has been commonly regarded only in connection with a subjective holiness, as a constituent of Christian charter. It has never been rightly understood and duly appreciated, as an element of power. Godliness in itself, has great weight with the ungodly. It imparts to him who has it such a mastery over the minds and manners of men, as silences skepticism, disarms violence, calms the cowardly, cheers the desponding, and gives good courage to them who are afraid, and inspires the lowly with confidence. Personal piety is a celestial light shining in a dark place. It helps the sinner see himself, and the saints to see each other. It lights up the road to Heaven, and reveals the beauties of the way, to all who are looking for it. When Christ accepts the homage of a regenerated child, He puts a lamp into his hands, and promises to fill it with the oil of his Grace, and bids the young traveller trim it, and go on his way to his upper home, with an injunction to keep it burning, until its, brightness is lost in the blaze of celestial day.
Personal holiness not only exerts this great influence by virtue of its inherent excellence, as a divine thing, but it clothes every means of grace with a fresh energy. It imparts to the prayer of faith that force that sends it up through the skies to that throne whence come all the blessings which the dying need. It gives weight to the word of the believer, and an unearthly charm to his example, which render both effectual for good. It [26/27] opens his hand and makes him liberal with his wealth. It softens his heart, and fills it with charity. It makes him abundant in labors, and converts those labors into a delight. It loads him with crosses, and then makes them joyous. It crowds his life with good works, which attest the genuineness of his faith, while they contribute to the conquest of the world.
If the primitive standard of holiness now obtained, might we not confidently hope for the primitive progress of the Gospel? In that age when men were signed with the sign of the cross in full view of the stake; when to be a Christian was almost equivalent to being a martyr, then the world witnessed a type of piety that was a power, before which the enemy fell, and in which the truth triumphed.
But to make even personal holiness entirely effective in this age, there must be the united energies of organized effort. Isolated labors, however devoted, will never accomplish the end. Valor is an indispensable quality in the character of a good soldier · yet it would avail nothing without that discipline which alone can make great numbers effective in securing great victories. This systematic action must pervade every part of the Church. There must be unity of purpose, and oneness of interest. In the earliest ages, the unsparing lash of persecution served to keep the little band of the faithful in the bonds of a true and truthful love, and made them all a unit in the cause of Christ. They not only "held the faith in the unity of spirit," but they maintained and propagated it by the unity of action.
 We may essentially develop the spiritual efficiency of the laity, in a practical form, by parochial organizations. If every Rector in the land would call his parishioners about him, and--impressing them with the fact that they are, every one of them, laborers in the Lord's Vineyard, stewards of Christ, with talents entrusted to them; that their Master has given them something to do, and expects them to do it; and that he will soon call for an account of their stewardship--should form them into distinct organizations, for the purpose of the more effectually prosecuting the various works pertaining to the progress of the Church, he would thereby take an important step in developing that power, which Christ has committed to the brethren for the extension of His Kingdom. [Note A.] These brethren must be brought together and taught to work. Their minister must unite them in this labor of love, and thus turn his parish into a training school for both Earth and Heaven. The members of the Church never can do, as isolated disciples, what they can easily and happily accomplish as a united band of brethren, acting in concert, and under the pleasant impulses which spring from the interest that pertains to the unity of fraternal love and labor.
Again; the power of God's people will never reach its full development as an instrument for extending Christ's Kingdom, until all they do is done as CHRISTIANS. There is a broad distinction between moral and even religious duties, and Christian duties. If a Christian be honest, temperate, and charitable, as a man, a [28/29] neighbor, or a citizen, the Gospel of Christ gains but little from that man's character and conduct. Temperance is a Christian virtue, but if he who practices it is recognized by the world simply as a Temperance man, and not as a Christian man, his practice of this virtue will not, in itself, set forward the cause of the Redeemer, because every body sees that a Deist may do, and does do, as much. In this regard it is not a Gospel, but a worldly virtue which is practiced and commended.
So in respect to Charity. It matters but little how much a man may give to the poor; how abundant his labors for the relief of the suffering, if he do all this in any other relation than that of a follower of Jesus. The poor may indeed be fed, and the wretched relieved, and herein we may be thankful; but the cause of Christ is not promoted by his abundant alms-deeds. He is not recognized in this labor of love, by a watching world, as walking in the footsteps of his Divine Master, but rather as acting from the impulse of a generous nature, or in accordance with the sentiment of a popular morality. The world may call it, as it certainly does call such doings, religious, but certain it is that they are not looked upon as Christian; and for this reason they bring no praise to the Gospel, as the great reforming power which God, in His Grace, has ordained to this end, and consequently no accession to the Church of Christ. In the apostolic age, when the Gospel was preached in the face of Jewry, who hated it, and in the heart of a Heathendom that despised it; when every professor of it perilled his life in that [29/30] profession; when his character as a Christian was not a light to be loved, but a mark to be shot at, then every grace he had, and every virtue he practiced, were seen and known of all men, to be Christian graces, and Christian virtues. Every one of them, major and minor, told directly and strongly upon the cause of Christianity, and thus they contributed to commend the principles of the Gospel. Not so now. Multitudes of the followers of the Saviour do much that is religious, not as Christian men, as members of God's Kingdom. Suppose that all the charities of the members of the Church, and all the labor they do, in promoting ends that are good, were to be withdrawn from the thousand human instrumentalities in which they are now directed, and were to be consecrated within Church channels, so as to be known by all the world to be purely Christian, what a mighty impulse would be instantly given to the cause and Kingdom of our Blessed Lord! [Note B.]
How much have the free hospitals of the Romanists done to make their system popular with the unbelieving; how much of the progress of that corrupt communion may be traced to the conviction which such a charity begets in the minds of men, that they who practice it must be largely imbued with the mind of Him "who went about doing good?" This charity is known as theirs. They so completely surround it with the signs and symbols of their faith, that Protestants may never fail to recognize it at once and always as a deed of piety--the fruit of papacy. No one thing, [30/31] perhaps, has done so much to commend Quakerism to the toleration, if not the approbation of men, than the fact that they maintain their own poor, as an essential feature of their religious system, thus exhibiting to the world the tangible fruits of their faith.
If the Church would reap to the utmost, the fruits of that power for progress which her great Head has lodged with the laity, then the complete organization of her members for doing good must be alike Christian in name and Christian in nature. Their good deeds must be identified with the Gospel, as the results of the Gospel. Every Rector must feel that he has about him a Godly band of the faithful, pledged to each other, and more than pledged to their common Master, to pray and to do; whose lives testify that they live to love--and they love that they may live, ready for every good word and work, because it is for the glory of God and the good of men, and therefore they are glad to do and endure for Christ's sake and for the world's sake; men who show, in the doings of their daily life, that they have "the faith" within them, the "Cross" upon them, and a "crown" above them, and are thus making the pilgrimage of earth to their home in Heaven.
Where, we may anxiously ask, are our great Church Charities--the demonstrations of that "living faith which works by love," and which "overcomes that world" which is waiting to witness these fruits of a new life? This power of the brethren, which might be made marvellously mighty in breaking down the opposition of a selfish unbelief, and in effectually silencing [31/32] the clamors of a noisy infidelity, has as yet been but partially developed. Within a few years, HOSPITALS for the sick, and HOMES for orphans, and AsYEu3Is for the aged, have been established in some of our dioceses, and have been endowed as Church Charities. This is, indeed, an important step; an indication full of promise. Such a charity will be universally recognized as the fruits of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Among other cheering signs in this direction, are such associations of the Laity as the Society whose anniversary we celebrate to-night. Associations of Laymen, which recognize the great Brotherhood of God's people, for ends which relate to the great law of Christian love, intended to do a work which is a fruit of Gospel faith, indicate a revival of something of that spirit which filled the Church in the apostolic age, when no disciple said "that aught of the things which he possessed was his own." The beauty and the blessing of such an organization as this, is, that it is a CHRISTIAN association; its members are "members of Christ," united in a labor of Christian love. The result of its labor will be, not simply the relief of the needy, and the comfort of such as need comfort, but that will show forth to the world, in part at least, what Christianity is and does, when its principles become the rule of life, in those who profess to hold its truth, and hope to share its blessings. The obstinate enmity of the unrenewed heart is proof against all earthly power but LOVE. Before the steady brightness of its light, and the glowing warmth of its divinity, the hardest heart ultimately relents, and the truth triumphs in a [32/33] new conversion. Every work of Christian love is vitally related to that power which is to evangelize the dead in sin. When the Church's Charities shall manifest the fulness of her divine life, then she will strike that blow for the conquest of the world, which will be crowned by results that will surprise herself. When every virtue that adorns the character of God's people; when every grace that dignifies the life of the followers of Christ, shall be known and read of all men, as Christian virtues and Christian graces, then we may well hope, that there will be a joyous resurrection of that long-buried power of the "Brethren," which shall come forth to be of essential service in extending the Kingdom of Christ.
It is a common mistake of many well-meaning Christians, that RELIGION is a profession, rather than a life; something which is assumed, and worn as a badge, which serves to distinguish God's people from the people of the world. Every disciple of Jesus should be careful to correct that error, by seeking to realize more and more, that Religion is the life of God in the soul, sanctifying all its relations, and is professed before men, only because it exists in the heart, and therefore must manifest itself in the outward form of a holy obedience. When such convictions and principles fill the minds and hearts of the Brethren, then may we confidently expect to see such a movement in the Church as has not been witnessed in modern times. When the Body of Christ's great Brotherhood shall thus arise to do the work of the Lord, in His name, and in His strength, and for His glory, then shall we [33/34] behold the ranks of the ministry suddenly swelled by multitudes of willing men, ready for the work of preaching the Gospel to a perishing world. Armies of fresh missionaries will be seen marching over the deserts of earth, to attack the enemy in his darkest strongholds. The banner of the Cross will be planted upon every mountain-top, and will wave over every island of the sea. The works of Christian benevolence will fill the earth, and everywhere make glad the hearts of the children of sorrow. Zion will rise from the dust, and put on her beautiful garments, and go forth to the victory of life. God's altars will be loaded with the offerings of a regenerated people, who will realize that the silver and the gold are His, whom they serve and seek to honor.
Never has there been a period in the Church's history, richer in rare and remarkable opportunities for doing the work of the Lord by the people of the Lord. The gates of empires that have been for ages closed against the Gospel are opening, as if by an unseen hand, after a manner which may make even an unbelieving world marvel. Never was there a wider or a whiter field for the Protestant Episcopal Church, than is to be found this day, in this country. Never before has there been such a turning with longing eyes: towards our own Zion, on the part of multitudes who have been long and zealously attached to other ecclesiastical organizations.
"Every member of Christ, every child of God" may do something to further this great mission, at this eventful period. You have not a talent which may [34/35] not be profitably employed in doing the work of the Lord. Let it be the aim and effort of all, to develop into a vital and vigorous activity, this ministry which Christ has entrusted to all his followers. Let it no longer be suffered to slumber in the Church, a hindrance to the Gospel.
When shall we fully realize what untold power lies in the Church's four great forces: the EPISCOPATE, the PRIESTHOOD, the DIACONATE, and the LAITY? When will the Church see and forsake the faults which now so nearly neutralize the effectiveness of these forces in the work of her progress? When shall we sec the experiment made, of carrying out thoroughly her apostolic system, in strict accordance with her established polity, and her own acknowledged principles? When will she be true to herself, to her Divine Head, and to a perishing world? Should we not pray that God will raise up in our Communion some man, made mighty by the Holy Ghost, who shall come forth in the spirit of the apostolic times, and, content with a diocese of primitive dimensions, shall make the Episcopate a true pastorate, and, as a Bishop, shall be the Chief missionary in his diocese; who, in the spirit of the old reformers, shall dare, in a fearless faith, to carry out the apostolic system, and, with a steady boldness, without the violation of a canon or a rubric, marshal the Church's forces in their primitive order, and lead them onward in all their fulness to do the Church's work?--a Bishop who shall make the DIACONATE a reality; who will not hesitate to say to the "Brethren, look ye out among you men of [35/36] honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom I may appoint over this business;" and who shall thus make the Order of Deacons a living Order of earnest men, to be seen and known as such in every part of his diocese, doing diligently the duties of their apostolic office, and making full proof of their subordinate ministry; [Note C.] a Bishop who shall feed lambs as well as sheep, and who will both know them and love them, and who can "call them by name;" who, by the example of his self-denying life, by the fire of his fervent spirit, by the force of his untiring labors, shall kindle in the lives of the laity that love for the labor of their calling, which will impel them to give themselves to the work of the Lord, by laying upon the altar of his Church their souls and bodies a living sacrifice. Would not the experiment of such an Episcopate, administered after the primitive pattern--if experiment it could be called--be hailed as the dawn of that day, which shall mark a new and a glorious era in the history of the Church?
Let every Godly man be known of all other men as a Christian man, who knows and uses the power of prayer; let every disciple of Christ make his life and all that pertains to it, of business or of pleasure, a ministry for Christ and His Church, and then will a waiting world witness that sublime exhibition of the triumph of God's sovereign grace in the regeneration, the reformation and salvation of the world, which shall surely crown the Lord's work, when done by His own people, in His own way.
NOTE A.--The mode of our missionary operations may have had something to do with the slow progress of the Church's work. In this country we have been compelled to encounter strong and deeply rooted prejudices. They are, indeed, less violent than formerly; yet they still exist among Christians of the various denominations around us. Our aim should be, to dislodge and remove these prejudices, as the first step towards planting our apostolic institutions. There is reason to believe that the mode of our missions, especially in the older dioceses, may have had a contrary effect. A young clergyman, with little or no experience as a parish minister, is sent as a missionary to a place where the services of the Church are almost entirely unknown. He becomes, of course, the authorized representative of the Church. In the eyes of the people he is the very exponent of Episcopacy. What lie says and does, is with them the sayings and doings of the Episcopal Church. All his idiosyncracies, indiscretions and ignorances, are regarded by these uninformed people as "the Church." They know that we have BISHOPS, and they have been taught that a Bishop is a man who "lords it over God's heritage;" "is fond of power," and perhaps proud withal, and so is, in his office, very offensive to their ideas of spiritual liberty. But they have never seen such a personage, and have only heard unfavorable accounts of him, as a Ruler in the Church, to whom intelligent Christians are very foolish to submit.
If the young missionary should succeed in establishing the Church, the next news the people hear, is that the Bisuor, of whom they have heard, is coming among them. At the time appointed, he appears in his Episcopal robes, confirms the candidates, makes an address and disappears. Perhaps he came into town after dark, and he is off again soon after light the next morning. Now let me ask, and leave it to the reader to answer, whether such an Episcopal visitation has reduced or increased the prejudices of the people against Episcopacy? In the course of one or two years, the Bishop again comes and goes in like manner. Those who have not seen him, attend the service and gratify their curiosity. How much, we may ask, do such-like labors accomplish towards removing opposition and establishing the Church in new localities? Is this the way the "children of this world" do? If an army is to be raised for the purpose of conquering a new territory, is that army [37/38] sent forth, to do the difficult work of conquest, in a strange land; among a hostile people, under the command of young and inexperienced officers, while the General remains at home, and is only seen on the field after the fight is mostly over, and has come in his splendid uniform, that makes the people stare, to celebrate the conquest, and give his sanction to what has been achieved? They do no such thing. Very few victories would there be, if they did.
Now let us suppose that our dioceses were of such primitive dimensions, that the Bishop might be and should be the first missionary in his diocese. That he was the first minister to break ground in every new place, and therefore the first and most enduring impressions which the people should receive in regard to the Episcopal Church, would be associated with the Bishop of the diocese, who came among them to preach the Gospel, wherever there was an opening for him, whether in a barn, a school-house, court-house, meeting house, in a tent, or under a tree. They see in him the godly, discreet, zealous, self-denying, hardworking, humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their prejudices would vanish like the morning cloud. They would think no more of the power or the pride of Episcopacy, as an objection to the Church. After he had thus opened the way, he could send the Presbyter, or even the Deacon, to carry on the work which he had commenced, and by frequent visits, on Sundays and week-days, by diligently cultivating an acquaintance with the people, and exhibiting an interest in their best welfare, he would speedily put to flight their hostility. How completely such a course would disarm all opposition of its violence, and replace it by a friendship and a fondness that would rise into enthusiasm. To do this, it may be said, would be beneath the dignity of a Bishop. If so, I can only say, that it is not below the example of Christ.
NOTE A. p. 28.--The clergy can develop this power in a practical form by parochial organizations. I know it is objected by some, that it is not well to have much machinery in a parish. The evils of too much legislation is no argument against all legislation. A great waterfall without wheels, would still be a very great power, but a very useless one. It is vain to talk of the "Brethren" as a "force" in the Church of Christ, and not to bring it into action. A force always in reserve, and nowhere organized, never will make much impression upon an enemy. System is necessary to efficiency. If every Rector in the land would call his Laity about him, especially the younger portion of them, and impress them with the fact that they are laborer in the Lord's Vineyard, made such by His adoption and by their own profession, and that their Master has accordingly given them something to do, and expects them to do it, and that He will soon call for an account of their stewardship, which they must [38/39] render to their endless joy or sorrow, an important step would be taken in the right direction.
The members of a parish could be readily divided into working circles or associations, with distinct organizations, all under the general supervision of the Rector. As, for example, there might be a committee on SUNDAY SCHOOLS, to whom would be committed the interests of that branch of parochial labor, such as seeking new scholars, and securing good teachers, and increasing the library, and promoting the interests and efficiency of the school in every way. A committee on MISSIONS, who by the circulation of the "Spirit of Missions" and other missionary publications, and by a systematic collection of contributions from every member of the parish, should seek to promote a true missionary spirit. A committee on CHARITY, whose duty it would be to look after the poor, and supply their wants, visit them in their obscure and comfortless abodes, and by making their cases known, seek to interest others in their temporal and spiritual welfare. A Committee of young men to look after other young men, who may be "Strangers in the Church;" who shall take their post at the Church door, to meet and greet such as may come to the Church, as hundreds do, without any acquaintance in the congregation. Much complaint has been made against our Church, as being wanting in this species of "hospitality to strangers." We have suffered much loss on this account. Let young men be sent out to bring in young men. Let them make it their religious business to do this, and we should see our ranks rapidly filling with recruits, who would soon become the flower of the army. Then there might be a Committee for the distribution of EPISCOPAL PUBLICATIONS, who should see that every family in the parish is furnished with some Church paper or publication; who will take measures for procuring and circulating books that are distinctively Episcopal; and who shall have the charge of the parish library. A TRACT committee, who shall attend to raising money for religious Tracts, and pursue a systematic plan in their distribution.
The Ladies could become, in the best sense of the words, "Sisters of Charity," in the work pertaining to the relief of the poor, and render essential aid, by their organized efforts, in furthering all the labors of love which should abound in a well-regulated parish.
NOTE B.--Churchmen should ever bear in mind that all which is religious is not necessarily CHRISTIAN. A man may do many things that are strictly moral and religious, and yet they may not be Christian acts, and will not necessarily contribute to the cause and Kingdom of Christ. An Atheist may be a moral man, a Deist may be a religious man, but neither is a CHRISTIAN man. A Heathen, a Mahometan, and a Jew, may be very religious, in their way, but [39/40] Christlike in no way. So a nominal Christian may do what is moral and religious, and yet thereby contribute nothing to the real work of the Church's progress. A Christian man must profess Christian virtues, and must practice them, as such. His grace, as a disciple of Jesus, must shine out of his life, and have so much of the brightness and beauty of Heaven in them, that nobody shall mistake them for anything else but "the fruits of the Spirit." It is only when we do, as CHRISTIANS, all that we attempt to do for the Church, that we employ to the utmost, the power that Christ has committed to us, for the extension of his Kingdom on earth.
NOTE C.--It must be evident to all, that the provisions of the present canon should be boldly carried out, or else it should be repealed; otherwise it will serve to breed mischief, and that continually. Let the Church establish a real Diaconate, an "Order," and she will then protect the Priesthood from the intrusion of ministers who are not properly qualified for their office. As the canon is now executed, in many dioceses, it affords an easy entrance upon the Diaconate, and ultimately to the Priesthood, to persons who are barely qualified for the first, and not at all for the second Order of the ministry.