THE Consecration of the Rev. CHARLES FRANKLIN ROBERTSON, D. D., to the Episcopate of Missouri, took place on the morning of the twentieth Sunday after Trinity, October 25th, A. D. 1868, at Grace Church, in the city of New York. Prayers were read by the Rev. JOSIAH P. TUSTIN, D. D., of the Diocese of Michigan, assisted by the Rev. SIDNEY CORBETT, of the Diocese of Illinois, and the Rev. JOHN C. MIDDLETON, of the Diocese of Connecticut.
The testimonials of the Bishop elect were read by the Rev. WILLIAM STEVENS PERRY, Secretary of the House of Clinical and Lay Deputies, and the Rev. HENRY C. POTTER, D. D., Secretary of the House of Bishops. The Clergy in attendance from the Diocese of Missouri were the Rev. EDWARD F. BERKLEY, D. D., of St. Louis, and the Rev. WILLIAM B. CORBYN, D. D., of Palmyra. The presiding Bishop was assisted in the services by the Bishops of Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, and New York. The Sermon was preached by the Missionary Bishop of Arkansas. A large attendance of the Clerical and Lay Deputies of the General Convention, together with a congregation filling every portion of the spacious Church chosen for this interesting ceremony, attested a wide spread interest in these services, which were to add another to the number of our Bishops, and give to a bereaved Diocese its chosen head. The Holy Communion was administered to a large number of the Clergy and Laity.
At the close of services, the presiding Bishop having called the Bishops and Clergy to order, on motion of the Rev. WILLIAM STEVENS PERRY, the thanks of the Bishops and Clergy in attendance were unanimously tendered to the Right Rev. Dr. LAY, for the discourse just delivered, and a copy of the same respectfully requested for publication.
"When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." 1 PETER v. 4.
THE names and titles of our Blessed Lord have ever furnished to devout minds themes of pleasant meditation. No one epithet can adequately describe Him; and thus prophet and psalmist, apostle and evangelist, the angel of the annunciation and the Exile of Patmos, have united to ransack the stores of language, to draw from them its sublimest words and its most endearing epithets, thus accumulating around the person of our Lord every title of worth and dignity, until His name, in itself secret and incommunicable, is poured forth as ointment and diffused throughout His Church in the hundred varying titles which express His majesty and His mercy.
Seldom, indeed, does the Church make mention of her Lord without adding some word expressive of her reverence and affection. She has no sympathy with the unseemly familiarity which utters commonly the name of Jesus with no added word of honor; she invokes Him ever by some sacred title; she speaks to us of Him with some reverent description of His person or of His work; she varies that description. On the occasion of her speech at the bedside of the sufferer, Christ is "the Saviour of the world, who by His cross and [5/6] passion has redeemed us." Beside the open grave, He is "The Resurrection and the Life;" and yet again in the Institution office and in the Ordinal, she adopts the language favorite with St. Peter; she pleads "Thy merits, O Blessed Jesus, Thou gracious BISHOP AND SHEPHERD of our souls!" She encourages her newly-consecrated Bishop with the prayer that "When the CHIEF SHEPHERD shall appear," he may receive the never-fading crown of glory.
Times there are, my brethren, in the experience of life, when one or another of our Lord's titles falls upon the ear with singular sweetness. Times there are of new trial and added responsibility, when there flashes upon us the true force and meaning of some word that has been familiar to the ear and often upon the lips. Thus is it with the name before us. While every Christian delights to say "The Lord is my Shepherd," who can as the Shepherd and the Bishop of Christ's flock, realize the comfort and the awfulness of the thought, that there is One who is himself Bishop and Chief Shepherd; One who has exercised in person the ministry and oversight entrusted to us; One in whose steps we tread, and at whose feet each pastoral staff is presently to be laid. Our Lord's life on earth is the fair pattern, which none of us indeed can equal, but which in every station must strive to copy and reproduce. Woe is unto us, if we accept as our ideal anything below His sinless example and His finished work! Our little children find in Him the example of filial duty; to Him we are wont to direct the eyes of the worker and the sufferer. And is there no special lesson in that life for those to whom chiefly He has confided the interests dearest to His heart? As man, [6/7] we present Him as the example for all men to follow; as Bishop and chief Pastor will we present Him to ourselves. Well may the Church, in forming her estimate of the Episcopal office, and in determining the qualifications which should belong to the chief Pastors, keep ever in her view the Holy One, her Chief Shepherd and the Bishop of our souls.
OUR LORD, THE PATTERN TO THE BISHOPS OF HIS CHURCH. Such is the lesson which we attempt to unfold to-day; a theme so sacred and so beautiful, that we approach it tremblingly and with awe. Far be it from us, like the unbelievers or half-believers of the day, to criticize the sacred story, and self-complacently to express our approbation of the words and methods of the matter; no! we stand in the presence of an incarnate wisdom too vast for us to judge: and upon bended knee we follow the traces of its march on earth, happy if we may unquestioning tread where Christ's sacred feet have left their impress.
In our Lord's work as in His person, the human and the divine so shade into each other that we can draw no absolute line of demarcation. Without pretending to divide, we may yet distinguish two elements in the office He discharged towards His infant Church. He was its Bishop and its Paraclete. When He went away to Heaven, the divine function was assumed by that other Comforter, that ever-blessed Creator-Spirit, whose living presence in the Church gives to the consecration in which we are presently to engage all its energy and truth; and the human function, the earthly Episcopate, was conferred upon the College of the Apostles and their successors in office until the end of the world.
 We may not even for a moment leave out of mind that divinity which separates by so vast an interval the Chief Shepherd from those who are now set to feed His flock; but we may yet, I trust, without irreverence, fasten our thoughts upon the human aspect of our Lord's work on earth, and analyze the character of His Episcopate, as furnishing that true ideal which the Church should ever seek to realize.
Let us then recall our Lord's Episcopate in His intercourse with His Pastors, in the guidance of the Laity, and yet again in its personal characteristics. We are to consider,
I.--THE CHIEF SHEPHERD AMONG HIS PASTORS.
And here we are reminded at once, what unceasing care, and labor, and diligence, our Master expended upon His subordinates in the sacred ministry; a care almost disproportionate, one might say, in view of the multitudes who thronged His path and hung upon His words. Careful He was to select from among the believers such as He deemed competent to this sacred function. How imperatively He summoned the fisherman from his net and the publican from his engagements! and how distinctly He repelled the proffered service of such as would volunteer in His cause, without realizing its responsibilities and trials!
To say that He was accessible to His clergy would be a weak statement. He kept them habitually about His person, He was seldom separated from them; and this although He was doubtless often weary of company, and longed for the repose of solitude and the society of His uninterrupted thought. He did not merely instruct then in the duties of their office; He carried them with [8/9] Him; He shewed them by example how ignorance should be enlightened, how suffering should be relieved, how favor should be borne, how agony should be endured.
With what marvellous skill did He train and strengthen them for usefulness! as they made progress in Christian virtue, detaching them from His person, yet even then only for brief periods, and in little companies, so that one might strengthen another; leading them from one responsibility to another, from lesser trials to greater, now exposing them to danger with Himself in the bark, and presently dismissing them to buffet the storm alone, unknowing that He upon the mountain top watched for their safety: thus leading them on step by step until that sorrowful moment when His visible presence was altogether withdrawn.
Wonderfully considerate was the Chief Shepherd of His co-laborers. He would not overwork them. "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile; for there were coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." Wonderfully patient was He with their defects of understanding and their infirmities of spirit. How did He bear with the unintelligence of Philip, the melancholy of Thomas, the impetuosity of Peter! and then what mingled familiarity and dignity in His intercourse with them all! He treated them as friends rather than as subordinates! and yet there was a line of reverence which they might not over-pass.
If Peter, over-zealous for His Master's reputation, undertakes that He shall pay His quota towards sustaining the services of the Temple, He rebukes him for the concession of the claim, while yet He works a miracle [9/10] rather than expose His disciple to the mortification of failing to meet the engagement. And then, how beautiful the picture of John leaning on the Chief Shepherd's bosom! In that holy familiarity, how marvellously do we see the profoundest reverence reconciled with the most genial friendship.
In view of these things, we do not fear to affirm that every Christian Bishop should regard himself first and chiefly as the Pastor of Pastors; and among his varied responsibilities and duties should set in the foremost place, those which appertain to the calling of men to sacred ministries, preparing them for their work, directing them in its prosecution, sustaining them under its trials. Not content to accept such as come to him, to preside over their deliberations, to interpose when some great mischief impends, he who patterns after that perfect example will identify himself with those in holy orders, and expend upon them the chief of his strength and the wealth of his affections.
There is much complaint in these days of the deficiency of clergymen. We have need to exhort parents to consecrate their children to the service of the altar, and the laity in general to facilitate theological education and to sustain the clergy. But we must not forget that ordaining, sending and laying hands upon others is peculiarly the function of the Bishop. It is his special duty to make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry; to suggest its claims to young men before their profession is chosen, to call into its ranks such as seem adapted for its holy employments. What if it seem cruel to separate the sons of Zebedee from an aged parent! what though the world may deem it extravagant to summon men from lucrative [10/11] employments to comparative poverty! The Gospel must be preached, and we must send the men to preach it. Surely we do not err, if, following our Lord's example, we break in upon men's repose; now demanding, authoritatively, Go thou and preach the Gospel; now entreating, lovingly, Come with us, and he with us fishers of men.
The Bishop should be the friend and father of his clergy, extending to them a larger measure of confidence and sympathy than it is possible to give to all the members of the flock. Nor is this any disadvantage to the flock; for each instruction and consolation afforded the clergymen, is diffused through him to hundreds within his care. How much do pastors need a Pastor! How instinctively does the Priest or the Deacon in his doubts and anxieties, in distress and need, look to his Bishop! How little does the world know of the filial confidence and the fatherly benignity, the touching story of mortifications and trials told without reserve, the gentle pity and manly encouragement, which have often characterized the correspondence between the Bishops and their clergy! Oh, how wondrous is the power of a Bishop who is a true father to his clergy! How does he mould the opinions of the helpers, and impart to them his methods, and infuse his own great thought into the minds of others!
The Chief Shepherd had ever patience with His apostles. He explained things to them when they were alone together. He rebuked them, and sharply too, sometimes, but never, that I can recollect, in the presence of the people, where their credit might be impaired. He wrung the very soul of Peter once with His rebuke, and yet while He rebuked, renewed the [11/12] expression of His confidence and uttered no harsher word than "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" And oh, brethren, a Bishop after this pattern; who stands in the centre of the sacred order; not afraid to take responsibility, but serene and firm, teaching men of less experience and more timid nature; the Bishop who under no conceivable circumstances will admit that any competition of interests can exist between himself and his brethren, and in the midst of forwardness thinks only how to bring about a better mind; the Bishop who can enlighten ignorance without wounding self-respect, who can direct energies without fettering them by undue interference, whose ready sympathy never wearies, whose cordial affection sustains his clergy in all their troubles; such a Bishop may be after all but an earthen vessel, but in that poor earth men will recognize the outline and the likeness of Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
How can we fail to observe the persistence with which our Lord sought to elevate His chosen ones in their self-estimate and in the esteem of the people! When He fed multitudes, did He not give them an important share in that work of love? Did He not advise with them when He himself knew what He would do? Did He not leave it to them to baptize the converts to the faith? Did He not within limits admit them into the mystery of His own griefs and troubles? With such an example well may the Bishop learn to make much of his clergy: studiously to honor them before the people; to choose from among them his confidants, and to invite the same sympathy which he is so often called upon to extend. But, brethren, all this is [12/13] impracticable unless there be something of dignified reserve, some recognitions of official superiority. We dare not claim for ourselves such reverence, such obedience, as the sinless One did rightly claim. But as rulers in God's family, and in the following of Christ's example, the Bishop should know how to assert the dignity of his office, how to repel unwarrantable freedoms, and how to keep easy and confidential friendship from slipping down into unseemly familiarity.
But I may not dwell further upon this theme which has rather been suggested than expounded. Let us consider,
II.--THE CHIEF SHEPHERD AMONG HIS PEOPLE.
If we regard our Lord as a Bishop among His people, we recognize at once the fact that He was the chief preacher within His self-appointed diocese of Judea. If we think of Him as the missionary Bishop (for such He truly was), how great the activity of His personal ministry! The sermons and the labors which are recorded are but specimens of his toil. Had the whole been written, St. John intimates that the volumes of that record would have been innumerable. In public and in private, by the sea-side and on the mount, at the rich man's table, in the synagogue and in the porches of the temple, He ceased not to teach and to preach. He drove back His sorrows resolutely into His own breast, and taught still in His trouble. In the very presence of death He kept not silence but spake still of the Comforter.
Think of the long journeys, the villages visited in succession, the long-continued speech to attentive crowds, the patient dealing with an individual soul, [13/14] the pause to bless the little babes, the thoughtfulness that, encouraged Zaccheus to stand forth and speak out his religious purpose. Brethren, how plain is this instruction! Make all allowance necessary to be made for a religion in its infancy which could be spread only by the living voice; grant that in our day the Bishop must often sit alone and think; must plan and organize and shape work for other hands; and still there stands plain before us the lesson that the Bishop must go about doing good, and as he goes must preach. He cannot do all the work himself; it were vain to attempt it; but he can lead the way: he can show his willingness to share in whatever toils and hardships belong to the clergy; he can by his example teach others how to recognize an opportunity and then how to use it; by his dealing with an individual soul he can instruct the unexperienced man of God, as books would never teach him, how to silence the disputatious, to cheer the penitent, to comfort the mourner.
And this reminds us of that wondrous prudence which characterized our Master's ministrations among the people. What contradiction of sinners against Himself did He endure! What a throng of captious, prejudiced, unreasonable men surrounded Him. But He aroused no unnecessary prejudice; again and again he stayed His speech or withdrew His person to avoid tumult. If men addressed Him with artful words intending to entrap Him, He did not hesitate to avoid the false issue, and to retort upon them the sharp question. How often did He make men who pretended ignorance, answer themselves, and turn away self-condemned by the exposure of their insincerity! How varied his teaching according to circumstances and persons! In his [14/15] example we find no warrant for that narrowness which utters ever the same formula and the same doctrine to all sorts of people. To the self-complacent Pharisee He held up the better example of the half-heathen Samaritan, while presently conversing with the Samaritan He identifies Himself with the Jews, and affirms the authority of the Jewish Church. He taught the doctrine of the new birth of man's nature to one halfhearted and secret enquirer--while to Nathanael He uttered words of commendation only. I need not multiply illustrations. These things assure us that the Christian Bishop should, while valiant for the truth, be wise enough to avoid useless controversy; while doing good to others, be careful to protect himself from needless animadversion. They tell us that the Bishop should be large-minded in his work; not going out furnished with a few set phrases on favorite dogmas, thrown out without discrimination; but richly stored with all true doctrine and all right words, rightly dividing the blessed truth; giving to each man his portion--urging repentance upon one, confession upon another; now persuading a man to believe and now to do some act of self-sacrifice; now rising in indignation at the profanation of holy things, and now protesting against the lading of unnecessary burdens upon the conscience of the faithful. There is nothing in our Lord's life and example to encourage a narrow partyism. How wondrously different, some might say almost contradictory, were His utterances according to the occasion that prompted His speech! Persistently did He press the deep and spiritual truths of religion, yet did He not hesitate to give His testimony to the value of things external. There is a singular humanness in our Lord's [15/16] hovering around the temple during that sad week of expectancy which preceded His death. We know how a certain restlessness comes over men when death is near, and who, though they have wandered far, they come home to die. And as we read the story of the brief road so often traversed between Bethany and Jerusalem, the lingering in the temple, the pause in the twilight, and the musing eye fixed still on Zion, we recognize the truth that our Lord not only loved His Father, but held also in affection His Father's house.
The Bishop, least of all men, should be the slave of party or of prejudices. Sobriety of judgment, love of truth, should characterize all his ministrations. No ridicule should avail to make him ashamed of the system which he administers, to hide its true features, or to explain it away to meet the demands of' miscalled charity; while no admiration of a system or a method should restrain him from keeping always in the foreground the great essential truths destined to survive when all systems shall have passed away.
If we analyze in its human aspects that influence which our Lord wielded over the masses, we cannot fail to observe that it was largely due to the commingling of gentleness with severity; oftenest He was gentle; most full of pity, affable and ready to make allowance; oftenest but not always. He was the Lamb of God, but when occasion demanded He showed Himself in the majesty of holy wrath, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Strange that a speech so full of gentleness should rise at times into so fearful an invocation. But who save the habitually gentle can rightly be severe? what wrath can so terrify the evil-doer as the wrath of the [16/17] Lamb? Listen to that fearful denunciation: "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Woe follows upon woe, anathema upon anathema, straining our hearts as He approaches the climax, and almost alarming us lest when it be reached He shall remand them all into the hands of inexorable justice. But when all that torrent of burning words has been uttered, and while the threat of "the damnation of hell" rings into our ears and thrills the inmost soul, there succeeds by most abrupt transition the wail of pity, a cry of anguish such as defiance itself can scarce resist: "O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem!" The world has enough of stern critics, and bitter censors; but oh, sweet pity! angel of healing and of consolation! If thou hast a home on earth, it should be in the breast of a Christian Bishop, causing him, like his Master, as he looks upon the guilty city, to weep over it, teaching him where men disclose only the sin, to recognize the sorrows, where men condemn, to utter words of absolution. Gentle pity! be thou in our hearts, and how tenderly shall we bind up the spiritual wound, and how patiently will the sufferer endure the pains of healing! and then in the presence of wrong and outrage, of veiled hypocrisy and shameless effrontery, who can as the pitiful and the gentle abash the scorner and terrify the wrong-doer, while he denounces against them the judgments of the Most High! Such is the example afforded by this Chief Bishop among His flock! ruling His people prudently, with all His power, yet gentle among them even as a nurse cherisheth her children.
I pass on to consider--
 III.--THE CHIEF SHEPHERD, WITH REVERENCE BE IT SPOKEN, IN THE PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS EPISCOPATE.
How overwhelming is the thought that He, the sinless one, used self-discipline; the discipline of fastings, watchings and voluntary retirement; that He, the all-wise, chose not the twelve but after a night spent in prayer! that He illustrated by His example what He taught us in precept, of certain fierce professions, "this kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting."
How single-minded was He in His work! What cared He for on earth save the welfare of His infant church? What were meat and drink to Him save as they strengthened Him for this gracious task? and yet how void was He of all asceticism! He came eating and drinking like other men; He dined with the rich man on the Sabbath day; He was known as the friend of publicans and sinners; He disregarded the ablutions and artificial tests of piety, of which the religionists of that day made so much. We are not left without numerous intimations of a constant regard to the welfare of His flock in His life and conduct. Recall such passages as these: "For their sakes I sanctify Myself;" "Notwithstanding lest we offend them." Do thus and so. "The good shepherd" (He seems here as in soliloquy, to utter the secret of His own pastorate), "when he putteth forth his own sheep, goeth before them." "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in My name." These and the like utterances assure us how deeply the chief Pastor realized the responsibility laid upon Him in the guidance of the flock, and how He ordered all His life with reference to that responsibility.
 Thus, brethren beloved in the Lord, have I attempted to speak to you of a theme which I am not able to expound. But thus much, perchance, our poor words may have impressed upon you for a moment, that the blessed Jesus, King, and Priest, and Prophet, is our Bishop too; One who has borne the pastoral staff on earth, and who did thus bear it, not only in love for the flock, but for the guidance of such as He should set over them in the latter days. Well may we study this pattern! and well may the church seek to put in her chief places Bishops eminent for those qualities which makes them most like the Chief Bishop; men of lofty self-consecration, men of gentle hearts, men of prudence and discretion; men who will take heed to themselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers.
Into this company of Pastors, my Brother elect, it is now my privilege to welcome you. We have diligently enquired concerning you; and however severe may be the ordeal, let none complain that the Church should be jealous in behalf of her Episcopate, and should carefully scrutinize the qualifications of such as are presented to her for so holy a trust.
I am bold to say to you that the results of this enquiry have been satisfactory. God has not left you destitute of His manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them for His honor and glory in your ministry heretofore. Well may we, in view of the past, anticipate for you an Episcopate of solid merit and of steadily increasing usefulness.
You go forth to a new country, an untried office, among a stranger flock. You are to diffuse abroad that Gospel which teaches as its sublimest truth that [19/20] there is sympathy in heaven for man. Let that same word be your comfort in every trouble! Henceforth there is to be another bond of sympathy between you and your blessed Lord. He himself was Bishop upon earth; He knows the trial and the burden of the office. In becoming a Bishop, you pass in some things beyond the limits of ordinary sympathies, but you go up into a nearer and closer intimacy and communion with Him who gathered first the flock and guided them a little way with His own hand before He resigned them to our care. It is not presumptuous to affirm that He has a special tenderness for His faithful copartners in this work, and that when we reach the farther shore He will stand ready to greet us with peculiar rewards of grace.
Lean then upon the Chief Shepherd, and take His Episcopate in its great features as the pattern of your own. No human art can make a good and efficient Bishop. That man will most excel who, with child-like simplicity, copies the one perfect exemplar.
Oh, my Brother! take good heed to the three things which stand forth so plainly in the chief ministry of the Son of God. Cherish your clergy. Be the chief missionary within your Diocese. Show yourself a pattern of good works, and you will not live in vain. The erring shall be brought into the fold of Christ. Brethren shall dwell together in unity. Your Diocese shall increase in strength and saintliness, and at the last when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away!