My Brethren of the Clergy and of the Laity:
Once more, and probably for the last time, the Representatives of the Church within the present limits of the Diocese of New York, are assembled together for united counsel as members of the same Diocese. For thirty years, that is, since the erection of the Western Diocese out of a part of the old Diocese of New York, we have been accustomed to meet annually, to listen to reports of the progress of the Church, to provide more efficient means for promoting its growth, to take order in things pertaining to its government and discipline, and at the same time, to renew our affectionate interest in each other, as we met face to face, hand to hand, commingling in devotion to the dearest and most sacred of all objects. From the banks of the St. Lawrence, and from the borders of Lake Champlain, from the valleys of the Susquehannah, the Delaware, the Mohawk, from the old counties that send their tributaries to the Hudson, and from the two islands that stand sentinels at the gate of our magnificent harbor, our brethren, Clerical and Lay, have once every year flocked together that they might see each other's faces once more, and take part in the Council of their beloved Church.
And, my brethren, if at times in the course of all these years, there have, been honest differences of opinion, on subordinate questions, as there may legitimately be in every ecclesiastical body, however at unity in great things, and if those differences of opinion sometimes gave rise to earnest and even sharp debate, making public the divergency of thought and feeling; yet all those public and visible collisions were as nothing compared with the unnumbered outpourings of heart to heart in private, the glowing salutations, the loving conferences, the histories exchanged of the year's labors, trials, joys, sorrows,--the unseen cementing together of individual souls as they touched in secret upon their common duties, responsibilities, aims, affections, hopes,--I say that compared with this gracious work, which went on in private--all unseen, untrumpeted to the world--this reunion and glowing communion of kindred souls, in which affections were warmed, elevated., purified, in which the thoughts were enlarged, in which the courage and appetite for work were renewed, compared with that mighty hidden dealing of heart with heart for good, the occasional public collisions, however noisy and however much to be deprecated, were in reality of little account.
But the outward and visible collisions were things of which the world could take note. They were things which the world is always on the watch to discover and proclaim, and which the world is very apt to exaggerate and misinterpret. But the private communings of heart with heart, which attended each one of those gathered councils, were things veiled from the observation of the world. To the public reporter, to the exterior and distant spectator, they were unknown; they were as if they had never been. A few outward and exceptional manifestations, these were seized upon to make a part of the news of the day--these supplied an exciting theme for public and private comment--were treated as if they were all the things needful to be known, in order to fully comprehend the spirit of the Body; while the great and precious things that took place in private were unthought of, absolutely unknown, and of course could enter in no way into the estimate formed by the world of the Church's character and of the influence of her Councils.
And it must be added, that even of things which were public and visible, as making part of the public proceedings--even of them those features which were least important were apt to be most noticed. The doings which were mostly casual and ephemeral, but which presented salient points, points in some degree intelligible to the uninformed observer; they were the things most apt to be seized upon and held up before the public for discussion, while the quiet, yet vital, work of the Body--that which gave it life and power--seemed of little interest, much of it obscure, scarcely worthy of notice.
So is it ever. The hidden things, or the things which escape notice, as being matters of course, are ever more important than the exceptional things, which make themselves conspicuously visible upon the surface. It is so in the natural world. It is so in national life. Beneath the surface, in the things which are mostly private, in the ongoings of domestic life, in the moral tone and texture of the everyday work and business of the million, in the common sentiments respecting truth and duty, which pervade the whole social atmosphere,--the atmosphere in. which the young live and move and have their being as they grow up,--in these there is something more potential in forming the heart of the nation, in ensuring its tranquillity and greatness, or in preparing it for weakness, misery, and ruin, than in any of those political contests, which attract so much attention, and from time to time so agitate the surface of the nation's life. And so superficial observers, looking away from their own to another nation, are ever prone to form grossly erroneous estimates of the significance of political events in that nation and of the real character of its life. They see the bubbles on the surface, but not the untroubled depths beneath, nor the treasures they contain.
How true this is of the Church, no one needs to be reminded. Her vitality and her strength are mostly in things which in their essence and influence are hidden from the views of the exterior observers. Her daily ministrations, her quiet and orderly worship, which, unconsciously to the recipient, works truth and sober lessons of duty into the very heart and conscience of her children, her means of grace, instinct with a divine power, the spirit of loving faith and assurance in which her worshippers are trained more by her inward life than by her express teaching, which loving faith and assurance keeps them quiet and. unmoved amid the excitements and changes that solicit their notice, the settled conviction widespread among her people, that in the Truth and Church of God are verities fixed and immutable, resting upon better foundations than the judgment of any individual or of any generation,--verities no longer needing to be scrutinized and demonstrated anew day by day, but standing like an eternal rock in the midst of the surging billows of this world; these are the things which make the Church what it is,--things with which no stranger can intermeddle,--things which in their operation and influence are to the exterior observer veiled mysteries; and yet they are things which must be rightly understood before any one can form an intelligent judgment of the probable effect of trials, great and small, that come upon the Church. What wonder then that the Church should be forever a mystery to the world, her principles misinterpreted, her policy misjudged, or that her onward progress should be over and through the midst of prophecies of decay, division, and dissolution, prophecies forever reproduced, and forever refuted by the event. Let us be humble, let us be charitable and loving toward all within and toward all without; let us be patient, after the example of Him who rules over the Church; but let us work on, each one in his own proper sphere, with a serene and lofty confidence that if we are faithful the same Divine power, the same immutable principles that have been our salvation in the past shall continue to be our all-sufficient security in the future!
These reflections, too far extended, perhaps, have been suggested by a glance at the history of the Church in this Diocese, during the thirty years of work and growth and communion carried on within our present limits. In a few months these limits will probably be changed, and new organizations will have been formed. At the close of this present conference we separate, some of us never to meet again, it is to be presumed, as members of the same Diocese. Many of the Clergy and of the Laity, who have met here so often, will meet here no more. You will not finally separate, my brethren, however much you may approve of the new arrangements, without some friendly regrets. And for myself, cordially as I concur in the measures now about to be consummated, I cannot think of the beloved Clergy and Laity of the districts about to be separated from us; I cannot think of the numerous parishes, which for nearly fourteen years I have visited again and again, with so much interest and so much pleasure; of the kind hearts ever ready with a cordial welcome, the interesting families, the engaging characters, never to be met but with pleasure and profit, the places which nature and art have made so lovely, and which precious memories have made so dear, I cannot think of visiting them no more, of having seen most of them for the last time without emotions which fill the heart full, but which I must seek to restrain rather than to express. God most merciful pour out His blessings--the rich blessings of His providence and the richer blessings of His grace upon all those beloved Clergy and Lay people--upon all those parishes, those families, and give them peace, make the sunshine of His love and favor to rest upon all their dwellings. The gracious Lord cause them to rejoice in His salvation, and to find comfort through the Holy Ghost in the day when trouble and sorrow shall darken their windows! Blessed and adorable Saviour, be Thou their light, be Thou their stay, their refuge!
To visit all the interior portions of the Diocese during the Summer that is now past--and especially every parish and mission station in the districts now to be separated from us--was, through the last Winter and Spring, among my most decided and cherished purposes. I wished to make my parting visit particularly minute and thorough. But Providence had other things in store for me, and I was forced to relinquish, at least for the time, a considerable portion of my intended work. At length the day came when I could only turn again to my Episcopal duty with such strength as the Master might give; and I employed myself in visiting most of the parishes in the extreme northern and western sections of the Diocese, until it became needful to withdraw from public visitations, in order to arrange and prepare matters of business for this and the General Convention.
These later visitations were necessarily at short notice. Owing to this circumstance a few of them failed; but the clergy did all that the nature of the case allowed, and in most instances the results were highly gratifying. As they were considered to be valedictory visitations, and as they were made at a period when the sensitive nature could not but be doubly susceptible, they were sorely trying, all the more so from the extreme kindness of the Clergy and of the people. The good Lord show them kindness in the great day of His coming!
The future is all uncertain. The shadows are lengthening. Schemes of earthly enjoyment are futile. But were I inclined to indulge in any visions of temporal gratification, I should be tempted most of all to please myself with the thought of returning some day to those familiar places,--not officially, but as an old friend and former Bishop,--to renew the impressions of the past, and to taste again the soothing and refreshing kindness so often experienced in the years that as a shadow have passed away!
[The Bishop here gave in general the sum of the visitations, confirmations, etc., etc., of the past year. The accurate details will appear in the Address as contained in the Journal of Convention.]
During the past year two of our Bishops have been removed by death: the Right Reverend John Henry Hopkins, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Vermont, and Presiding Bishop; and the Right Reverend Cicero S. Hawks, D.D., Bishop of Missouri. On the 3d day of June I had the satisfaction of assisting at the consecration of the Rev. W. H. A. Bissell, D.D., as Bishop of Vermont,--an office which there is every reason to believe that he will fill with satisfaction to his Diocese, and with usefulness to the Church at large. The Diocese of Missouri having failed to induce the Bishop of Montana, Idaho, and Utah to leave his severe missionary field, have made choice for their new Bishop of the Rev. C. F. Robertson, who for the last six years has been the very earnest and successful rector of S. Mark's, Malone, and who at the time of his election to the Episcopate of Missouri was about removing to Batavia, in the Western Diocese. This most unsought for and unexpected call to an arduous and responsible post I trust he will be induced to accept. He has not yet numbered many years in the sacred ministry of the Church, but he has been well tried as to his judgment and capacity, and as to his power of organizing and pushing on Church work, not only in his own parish, but also in neighboring places. As a man of prayer, living with a supreme devotion to the salvation of the souls within reach of his ministry; sound and scholarly in his theology; too comprehensive in his sympathies, and too elevated in his spirit to provoke party animosity,--unless, indeed, it be a kind of party feeling that will insist on being provoked;--believing him to be such a man, I shall rejoice to see him carrying his loving earnestness through a vast Diocese like that of Missouri. I shall rejoice to see him, young as he is, sitting in our House of Bishops.
Reference has been made to the history of the Church in this Diocese during the last thirty years, the period during which it has been contained within its present limits. In 1838, the time of the formation of the western portion of the State into a separate Diocese, there remained in this present Diocese of New York, 249 clergymen and 235 parishes and mission stations. There are now 420 clergymen and 333 parishes and mission stations. In 1854, when I was called to the charge of the Diocese,--fourteen years ago,--there were 304 clergymen and 252 parishes and mission stations; showing an increase in this last period of 116 clergymen and 98 parishes and mission stations.
There has been not only growth in the Church, along with the increase of the population, but there has been in many quarters a greatly improved feeling from without toward the Church, and a much more frequent expression of desire to obtain its ministrations in places where before they had been unknown. A few months since a clergyman residing in a rural county where the Church had been until recently little known, observed to me that twenty years ago it was almost impossible in that county to obtain a hearing for the Church; and that now almost every little village was evincing a desire to gain access to its services.
And under what circumstances, my brethren, has this growth of the Church, and this increased esteem for her ministrations and order, taken place? Certainly not at a time when there was absolute quiet and unbroken unity of sentiment on all points within the Church! Certainly not at a period when there were none within her to proclaim her children corrupt in doctrine; none without her to denounce her system as wanting both the form and the power of godliness! Certainly not in happy years, when there were no mistakes, no deficiencies, for a candid and earnest Churchman to lament. Far from it. We have had our trials and our deficiencies. And now, for many years, we have been made the witnesses of a most remarkable spectacle. A certain amount of unfavorable comment in the non-Episcopal religious press, involving gross misconceptions and unintentional misrepresentations of our Church and its doings, is always to be expected. And within our Church, as there are honest differences of opinion on matters of doctrine, no reasonable person can be surprised that there should continue to be at times, as there always has been, considerable warmth of discussion. But we have seen for several years something more than this. We have seen within our own Church a combined and desperate effort, made in the press and in the pulpit, to fasten upon a large portion of the clergy and of the laity a charge of holding false and deadly doctrine,--doctrine false to the standards of our Church, unscriptural, and ruinous to the souls of men. Any candid person, who should examine certain of our Church newspapers (so-called) from week to week for a few months, would find himself amazed at observing how very large a proportion of every number was devoted to the work of agitation,--to putting the worst possible construction upon the teachings and measures of their brethren in the same household of faith,--to sowing distrust and dissension among the laity, among the great body of quiet people in the Church, who ought to be made to hear and think of nothing but how to serve God and do their duty. A reader not particularly discriminating, and not particularly well informed in regard to the fundamental principles of the Church, and looking habitually to one of these papers for most of his knowledge of things passing in the Church, could hardly fail to be persuaded that the Church was all but ruined and lost! He might well come to believe, as no doubt some people do, that some of the most faithful, laborious, self-denying, and most useful of the clergy of the Church are most false to her principles, and most injurious to her good estate. To propagate these clamorous aspersions, to carry them everywhere, no pains and no expense have been spared.
With such a state of things within the Church, ought it to be any matter of wonder if the whole outside world should look upon us with distrust and dislike, and accepting the testimony that comes from within our own household, should keep far away from us, as an infected and distracted flock, given over to destruction! But the contrary is the fact, and that is the real wonder: The Church grows! People from without come flocking to her courts like doves to their windows. In not a few places, half of the candidates whom I confirm, have come from other religious bodies within a few years, and they have come in a large proportion of cases with a real love for the Church's ways, and a full acceptance of her principles. As I intimated in the opening of my remarks on this subject, new places are calling for the services of the Church faster than we can supply them! God be praised for His mercies! Now in this experience there is a great lesson of encouragement, encouragement not to answer railing with railing,--Spirit of Grace forbid it!--encouragement not to ecclesiastical pride and vanity, not to contempt of others, wherever they may be, but encouragement to go on quietly, peacefully, earnestly, lovingly, with our ministrations, not dealing much in controversy, not assailing others, not wasting our strength upon negations, but putting forth in a positive way, and most lovingly, with a single eye to the salvation of souls, "the truth as it is in Jesus," making the Church's worship alive with unaffected devotion, visiting the sick and the afflicted, conferring tenderly with the thoughtful, speaking gently to the young, and making it everywhere and by all means the supreme object of our efforts to awaken, reclaim, instruct, animate, admonish, console all who may be within reach of our pastoral care, so that, if possible, they may be saved through Christ forever. O! a living, well ordered parish, glowing with Christian truth and Christian work, full of peace, going on steadily from year to year, untroubled by narrow schemes or foolish inventions, such a parish cannot but be a light in the world; it cannot but gain insensibly upon the esteem of surrounding observers; it cannot but appear to multitudes of weary, unsatisfied souls in the world without as a spiritual paradise, as a heavenly resting place, as a garden of the Lord, having in it celestial beauty and celestial fruit, and so be continually winning to itself admiring and loving adherents.
It should be our joy and our encouragement that these blessed effects of the ministrations of the Church result not from vehement dogmatism, not from efforts made in a spirit of propagandism, but from a ministry quietly yet most lovingly devoted to tending and feeding the flock of Christ, according to the order of His Church. And, if through such influences the Church will grow: as we have seen even in a day of trouble and rebuke, even when voices are loud within her, which might have, and to some extent do have, the effect of warning people without against her, what might we not hope for in the way of growth and spiritual edification were all quiet, peaceful, and loving within, were no differences exaggerated, were no views or measures of brethren, seen through an excited medium, misconceived and misrepresented, were none of the strength of the Pulpit and the Press expended in giving' brethren an ill name, and in creating unreal suspicion and alarm.
But, my brethren, let us be careful how we judge one side without judging the other. Let us look on all sides. Let us be candid, and hold the scales evenly, if it may be permitted to human infirmity to do so. We think there has been too much denunciation, too much launching of accusations of false doctrine and false ritual against brethren, too much violent clamor, of a nature to do injustice to the views actually held within the Church, calculated to lower its morale, to disturb unnecessarily the minds of her quiet people, and to impair her just influence in the world. We think so!
But, my brethren, has there been no cause? I do not ask whether there has been a cause sufficient to justify the severity of the charges, the virulence of the tone, or the amount of time, space, and effort devoted to the propagation of those charges. But have there been no indiscretions,, in speech and action, which might very well give occasion to some complaint and to some uneasiness? I fear we must admit that there have been; fewer, no doubt, confined to much narrower circles, and, when properly explained and understood, involving much less resembling error, than was popularly charged, but still some things which every person of enlightened, well-balanced judgment as to what the Church is,. in her principles, in her history, in her offices, must. regret and disapprove of: hasty and extravagant expressions, thrown out almost as if with the intention of startling and giving offence; ill-considered statements of doctrine, forms of ceremonial, postures and gestures, which look too much like an imitation of foreign services, and which come too near to a representation of questionable doctrine. These things are few and far between. A great many things which are perfectly harmless, are blown up by rumor into horrid monstrosities; and I believe that, in almost every instance, if the individual doing or saying these questionable things were called upon in private for a calm exposition of his principles, he would make statements with entire sincerity, which would be found quite within the limits of the allowed teaching of our Church. Nevertheless, I repeat, that there have been acts, and there have been expressions, which are to be regretted, and which have done much to give occasion for the clamor of which we have been speaking. These errors ought to be guarded against.
In making these observations, I am by no means unmindful of the comprehensive character of the Church. It is a fact to be not only admitted but strongly affirmed, well known indeed to every intelligent theologian, that between the limits of decided error on the one side, and decided error on the other side, there is a wide field occupied by the Church, the whole of it under the protection of her authority, and in which there is room for very different phases of thought and for considerable variety of ritual--varieties suited to different habits of mind, yet quite within the limits of the Church's law, properly interpreted. Ever since the Reformation-we may almost say ever since the days of the Apostles, these two schools have been in the Church, have been tolerated, as being within the limits of allowable liberty of thought and action. And, my brethren, within reasonable limits, within very wide limits, my feelings are all in favor of toleration. There are devoted men in the Church whose notions of the Church's teaching and of some matters of Christian doctrine are very different from mine; but to whom personally I am warmly attached, and with whose labors I warmly sympathize. I say, "God bless them and prosper them," with all my heart. Let these different schools teach and work each in their own way, yet within the limits of the Church's law, with a single eye to the glory of God, in a spirit of charity and unity toward their brethren, and we need not be too much troubled that their thoughts are cast in somewhat different moulds. But the folly and the mischief begin when either of these schools seek to narrow the Church down to its own measure, or to exterminate or drive the others out. Such efforts are vain. They will never succeed in the future any more than they have succeeded in the past. And if the members of the Church are wise, if they do not wish to live and die under the influence of the most narrow and unworthy conceptions of their own spiritual household, they will judge of all questions and all events within the Church with constant reference to this her comprehensive character. But, while I thus speak in favor of toleration and of charitable and liberal judgments of men and things, I repeat again that there have been, here and there, some expressions in teaching, and some forms in Divine services, that are to be deprecated. Not all things, certainly, that any one may choose to complain of, are to be censured. But expressions and acts which are adventurous, which are extreme, which tread closely upon the borders of error, which give occasion unnecessarily to suspicion and alarm, which can, without much violence of interpretation, be made to appear false to the Church's teaching, they are worthy of censure.
My brethren, in such days as these, to say nothing of other things, something is due to Charity. And I think, they violate the laws of Charity who unnecessarily provoke suspicion and agitation in the Church. They sin against Charity who by their wilfulness and recklessness cause their "good to be evil spoken of," who so teach the Truth as to make it odious--unnecessarily obnoxious to the prejudices of the hearers. They do something more than offend against Charity who arrogate to themselves the prerogative of arranging their public services without any regard to the existing authorities of their own branch of the Church, and without any regard to its recognized limits of allowed practice.
If such things are undutiful and mischievous at all times, they are most especially inconsiderate and injurious in times of nervous uneasiness and jealousy like the present. They disturb a vast number of sober-minded people within the Church, who ought to be allowed to seek spiritual edification and to say their prayers in quiet. They make it more difficult to teach the real Truth--the old Truth of the Church, than it need be. They strengthen the hands of those who do not believe the Church's Formularies, who seek to fasten upon them a non-natural sense, and some of whom at length openly express a wish to change them.
We sometimes meet a Teacher in the world who seems to take a real pleasure in saying startling things. There is in his temper a little perverseness and a little conceit of bravery which makes him love to go beyond the common, to use strange and bold expressions in his statements, to despise those limitations, those qusdi1ications, those explanations which would make the real truth appear clear, and not only inoffensive but engaging and edifying. Such a temper is very apt to make itself manifest also in some way, more or less significant, in the ordering of the Services. Very different from this is the spirit of the loving and considerate Pastor. He shrinks from no proper indication or defence of important truth. He passes over no point of useful instruction. But he is so occupied with the thought of winning souls to Christ and of building them up in His most holy Faith, he is so full of the gentleness, tenderness, and sympathy of his divine Master, that he is incapable of doing anything needlessly to offend or turn aside even so much as one from the view of that Master's love, or from the power of His grace. Different gifts belong to different persons; and no doubt much must be conceded to diversities of temperament and mental constitution.
But it does seem to me, after much reflection, that in these days of suspicion and feverish excitement, it is the duty of a Chief Pastor in the Church of God to put his brethren of the Clergy in mind of what great and especial need there is at the present time for caution, mode ration, and charity. I believe you to be faithful to the Truth, and most affectionately devoted to the tending and feeding of your flocks. But there is a call for more than ordinary circumspection. If there have been some things calculated to provoke suspicion and jealousy in the Church, and if there are those who think it their duty to make the most of everything that can be impeached, surely it should be a warning to every one of us to be circumspect in thought, word, and deed, "giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed." And there is another warning which every Christian Pastor, whatever be his rank or position, may very well lay to heart: to take care that he do not become too onesided in his views, that he be not carried along by an insensible current until he becomes, in his reading and thinking, and in his feelings, first narrow and partial--wholly occupied with views looking one way--I say first narrow and partial, and then extreme and intolerant! It was by such a mental drift that Mr. Newman was carried out of the Church on one side, and such men as Mr. Baptist Noel on the other! It is easy for an ardent mind to become onesided, exclusively devoted to reading and thinking and active effort in one direction, until the one view, which at the first, held in moderation, had some truth in it, becomes a passion, takes possession of the whole man, makes him insensible to truth from the opposite pole, and hurries him into grevious error. What a peril for one admitted to a holy office, and Divinely appointed to be a teacher and a guide to others!
As something has been said against certain eccentric changes in the manner of celebrating the Services of the Church, perhaps the question will be asked, "Are, then, all changes of every kind in the mode of conducting the worship of the Church, in whatever place, and under whatever circumstances, to be considered inadmissible? Is there no liberty for improvement, where improvement is much needed? In parishes where, for a long series of years, the Services have been conducted in a sordid and slovenly manner, without proper appointments, in a mode which is really out of harmony with the better general practice of the Church, are such Services to be fastened upon the Church forever, merely because, in a day of imperfect things, they chanced to be so begun? As our church edifices are improved; and as we are gradually emancipated from the narrow circumstances and the some what narrow views under which our Church in this country commenced its independent existence, are all our services to be still tied down to the absolute form and measure of our first and crudest years? If our Prayer Book affords opportunity, where circumstances are favorable, for a more beautiful, more animated, more exalted and inspiring worship,--a worship more becoming as the offering of a great congregation; and if such nobler worship is abundantly exemplified and sanctioned in the long recognized use of the Mother Church, are we to be denied the privilege of making improvements in the Services in some degree corresponding to the improvements that have taken place in our church edifices?--it being always understood that the form of our Services, as well as the structure of our churches, shall be kept in harmony with our Prayer Book, and of course with the principles and spirit of our Church, intelligently interpreted. We freely admit (we may suppose the questioner to say), we freely admit that our Church, as compared with medieval forms, inclines to simplicity. The highest cathedral service in England is in fact very simple, compared with medieval services, or as compared with the Eastern or Roman services of the present day. We heartily approve of our own greater simplicity, but still. we desire to know whether, with such a Prayer Book in our hands, and with such examples of its possible and allowable use before us, the door is to be absolutely and forever closed against every kind of change and improvement?
The answer to these questions will rise up before almost every mind so soon as they are stated. We cannot exclude all improvements within the limits of Law, if we would; and certainly we ought not, if we could. An attempt to keep all our churches and all our services forever conformed to the standard of what were the average forms sixty years ago would have been a monstrous absurdity, and it would have been just as impossible as to prevent the rising of the ocean tides. Could an exact image of the average services of the Church as they were celebrated sixty years ago be made palpable to our view, there is not one Churchman or Churchwoman in an hundred in this Diocese who would desire to recall them.
We revere the Bishops and Clergy of those days. They did all that the circumstances of the Church and country permitted or required. But the Church of England in that and the preceding age was not seeing her best days; and when we consider under what disabilities our Church in this country labored previous to and during the Revolution, and indeed for many years after it, and that she took her first impress from the Mother Church, when that Church was by no means the glowing, working Church that she has been since, we can easily see that to take our Church as she was in her first feeble and crude days in this country, and make it an absolute pattern, even in subordinate things, for all future ages, would have been of all things most shortsighted and fatal.
And we can easily see, too, if our General Convention in those early days had undertaken to engage in minute restrictive legislation in regard to Ritual, absolutely tying down all our services to precisely the form and manner which alone entered into their conceptions; I say, if they had attempted to do that, we can easily see what a piece of work they would have made of it! Let, then, the wisdom of the past, whether deliberate or accidental, be a lesson for the future! At the present day it seems to me that the General Convention could scarcely engage in a more perilous and mischievous undertaking than would be that of seeking by legislation to abridge the just liberty of the Clergy. It is not required for the legitimate government of the Church, and it cannot be carried to any such extent as would give anything like respectability to the attempt without the gravest inconveniences and dangers.
I say restrictive legislation in regard to Ritual is not required in the Church in this country, and for two reasons:--
First.Excessive ritualism (so-called) as it is seen in some places in England has not transferred itself to this country to any extent worthy of notice. It has never from the first had vitality enough on this side of the ocean to propagate itself. It is ten years or more since the first alarm was raised, since certain features appeared for the first time in one or two small churches in this Diocese. These ten years have passed away, and still everything that can possibly be charged as real excess is confined to two or three small churches. For to speak of such services as those of Trinity Church as worthy of grave censure,--to treat choral services, and surpliced choirs, and processional psalms and hymns as things perilous to the Church,--is a puerility hardly entitled to serious consideration. We can hardly presume to cut ourselves off from all reference to the authority and example of the Mother Church from which we are descended; and in the Church of England most people know that choral services and surpliced choirs and processions have been familiar things ever since the Reformation. Particular individuals, being unused to these things, may not find them helps to devotion, and may prefer to attend a worship which is differently ordered. This they are perfectly at liberty to do; but for them to attempt to deprive others of the services which they do not choose for themselves, for them to denounce those services as unlawful and wicked and perilous to the souls of men, and to seek to have them put under a ban throughout the whole Church, is scarcely consistent with Christian moderation and charity--scarcely consistent with the comprehensive character of the great Communion to which they belong. I say, then, that real excesses in Ritual have appeared in this country only to an extent which is insignificant, that they evince no power to propagate themselves, and therefore call for no restrictive legislation,--for,
In the second place, such as they are, they may be safely left to the authorities of the Diocese in which they occur. And, if those authorities are wise, they will act in all such matters with great reserve and moderation, whatever their own individual views may happen to be. The real limits to which services may be carried without violation of what may be called law and usage in the Church, and without symbolizing false doctrine, are somewhat vague. It is some eight or ten years since I remarked in a conventional Address, that if in the discharge of my duty I visited a church where the services were somewhat peculiar, and if I did so without special remark upon the services, it was not to be inferred that they were altogether to my taste, or that I entirely approved of them; that if those services by a liberal construction could be brought within the limits of the law and usage of the Church, it did not seem to me to become a Bishop to attempt to rule them by the measure of his own individual idiosyncrasies. I think so still. And I think, moreover, that a Bishop had better in many such things be slow to act. Many evils are of a nature to cure themselves, and a microscopic vision and hasty and imperious action are by no means the best securities for ecclesiastical order.
Enough has been said in the preceding part of this Address to show that the Bishop of this Diocese is very far from being friendly to excessive Ritual, as, on the other hand, he is equally far removed from partiality to a narrow and restrictive system in regard to the worship of the Church. That within the last twenty years there has been upon the whole a great change for the better in the form and style of our holy places, in the treatment of them, and in the more careful ordering of the services, especially in many of the smaller parishes, few candid and well-informed persons will be inclined to deny. And if these changes have tended to increase of visible reverence for everything pertaining to the public worship of Almighty God, if in many respects they have been of a nature to interest and engage the young, and if these changes (changes not in substance, but in a few particulars of manner,--of outward expression), if these changes have in no way interfered with the preaching of the "Truth as it is in Jesus," or with Church work, it seems to me that they need not greatly alarm us.
This is not the place in which to attempt a full discussion of the nature and influence of outward and visible things, such as form and ceremonial in religion. The question which we in this branch of the Church have to consider in regard to the form and manner of conducting Divine services is, of course, not an abstract and original question as to what kind of Ritual would be most conducive to devotion and to the maintainance of Divine Truth in its purity, had we everything to create anew; the question is, what is consistent with our Prayer Book? What is consistent with the law and usage of this branch of the Church or of the Anglican Communion as a whole? And within the limits of allowed usage, what are the comparative merits of the simpler and the more ornate, or more expressive services? On the general question, I detain you with only one observation. There is a vague notion prevalent in a large portion of the popular religious world, which constitutes the main staple of certain arguments and denunciations in regard to ceremonial, sometimes launched against the Church from without, and still more frequently used within by one portion of the Church against the other. It is a notion of such general prevalence and use that it has passed into a kind of stereotyped formula, forever repeated in the Pulpit, forever reechoed from the Press; it is to this effect: that there is a necessary and irreconcilable antagonism between the outward and visible and the inward and spiritual; that in proportion as we are influenced by the former, we are withdrawn from the influence of the latter; that they who make much of the outward and visible, make little of the inward and spiritual. Of course this naked and unqualified statement would be denied by the class of persons now referred to. They would say, "We also believe in some use of the outward and visible, as may be seen in our practice. What we object to is an excessive use of the outward, which we hold to be unfavorable to the attention and susceptibility of the soul to the spiritual." Of course "excessive use," in the meaning of each such individual, would be that which exceeds what may chance to have been the custom with him,--the custom in his sphere of action and observation. But it cannot be doubted that in the unguarded popular way in which such views are usually stated, things outward and visible are placed in direct antagonism to things inward and spiritual, and the idea is strongly inculcated that interest in the outward deadens the interest of the soul in the spiritual.
No doubt there are religious services in other portions of, the Christian world, which appear to our unaccustomed eyes to be altogether overburdened with elaborate ceremonial. But what a gross fallacy is involved in the popular notion that outward expression stands in the way of inward feeling! What are the senses made for, but that outward things may have an avenue through which they may act upon and stir up the affections of the soul? When the Psalmist rejoiced that the heavens declare the glory of God," that "the firmament showeth forth His handiwork," he seemed to think that the magnificence of the visible creation could not but move the intelligent beholder to adoration and praise; he more than anticipated the later, saying that "the undevout astronomer is mad." Let me not abuse your patience by taking up time to prove what every one knows: that, more than in almost any other way, the soul is reached and excited by impressions derived from external things: the visible helps us to realize the invisible. I never heard that impressive funeral ceremonies were supposed to detract from the reverence felt for the departed. When political parties, on the eve of an election, light their fires, and parade with banners their immense torchlight processions, they seem not to have learned, from their many years' experience, that these outward displays are of a nature to lessen the inward enthusiasm and devotion of their followers. When the commander of a great army, as the hour of battle approaches, collects around him his splendid retinue of glittering sabres and nodding plumes, and passes along the front of his line,--banners lowered, trumpets sounding, until the blood of every soldier boils in his veins with martial excitement,--it surely implies no apprehension on his part that this preparatory ceremonial will take off their thoughts from the mighty struggle before them, or detract from their heroic determination. I have heard rugged men speak of the effect produced upon them as the procession of Clergy and Laity moved up the aisle at the consecration of a church, repeating the sublime anthem: they, said they could not repress their tears. As majesty and beauty in the House of the Lord impress the mind with awe, and predispose it to devotion, so a certain degree of order, dignity, beauty in the worship, whether addressed to the eye, or to the ear, if bearing the impress of reverence, helps to touch and elevate the soul,--unless, indeed, there be invincible prejudices standing in the way!
Novelties introduced into the customary order of Divine services, whether in the way of addition or of omission in the outward ceremonial, will no doubt at first jostle the mind of the worshipper and disturb in some measure his devotion, more or less, according as he is more or less a creature of prejudice and easily offended. But it is a mistake to suppose that in places where the services are always of the same general character, no matter how striking in outward ceremonial, the ordinary attendant is much occupied with conscious attention to outward details. Accompany a devout person who is accustomed to worship in one of the most magnificent cathedrals of England, you will see him as much abstracted as if he were sitting in a Quaker meeting. The impressive things about him are too familiar to be able to fasten his attention absolutely upon themselves. Unconsciously he is warmed and animated, and lifted up by their influence, but without their becoming distinct and separate objects of thought in any such way as to take off his mind from his devotions. Quite the contrary. In such a cathedral I have seen the humblest and plainest of the poor absorbed in their Prayer Books and their devotions, apparently without the slightest thought or recollection that there was anything remarkable around them.
And these observations bring into view one great reason why, in the same place, the services should be, as far as possible, uniform. If they be of a uniform character, the worshippers will become accustomed to them whatever they may be, and cease to give any conscious attention to the details. But, as we have seen, our Church is a comprehensive Church, and our services, within reasonable limits, may be expected to exhibit, in different times and places, considerable varieties, reaching from the simplest worship of the village church up to the highest and most animated service known to the cathedrals of England. And I confess, it seems to me that that member of the Church is in an unhappy state of mind, who cannot meet a service of any tone, included within the reasonable limits referred to, without being offended at it, or without denouncing it in the public papers as unfaithful to the Church and to the Truth. Such a person may find a service which he encounters, agreeing more or less with his individual preferences, but that any lawful service should have the power of disturbing his devotions or his equanimity, implies that the mischief is more in the mind of the individual than in the form of the worship. Surely a little more breadth of mind, a little more largeness of view, a little more habitual recognition of the fact that a slightly different mode of celebrating our one Service may be just as edifying to another person as the particular mode we prefer is to us, would be good for any member of our Communion. It would make him more happy, more charitable, and less apt to assist in disturbing the Church with groundless alarms.
My brethren, you will not mistake my object in detaining you with these observations on the use of external things in Religion. Nothing could be further from my purpose than any wish to encourage or to vindicate unnecessary changes in the mode of conducting the Services of the Church, or to encourage or vindicate anything like excessive ceremonial. Very far from it. The contrary plainly appears in many parts of this Address. For myself personally, I can worship without disturbance amid all the allowed varieties in our Church, though I confess my own tastes and habits rather incline to the simple than to the more florid. It seems to me that the duty of the Clergy, in times like the present, is most manifest and most imperative. Do not sacrifice the peace and edification of your flocks for any subordinate object. Do not convulse a parish for the sake of an inconsiderable improvement, which, after all, is not vital in the worship of your Church. Trust to time and gentle. influences and a slowly dawning reason to enable you to do every thing needful for reverence and true devotion, without offence to the feeblest of the little ones of your spiritual charge. Beware of passionate devotion to anything which is not vital to the souls of your people, and above all beware of the approaches of insidious error, in whatever garb it may clothe itself.
So much for the duty of the Clergy. I believe they are not insensible to it. But, my brethren of the Laity, what is the lesson for you? Is there no call to you in the considerations just presented, to look to your ways and your duty in the Church of God? If this Church be a comprehensive Church, as plainly appears in her history and in her formularies; if her Prayer Book provides ample room for very considerable variety in the style of her public worship; if all these different varieties of style (and really, when analyzed, they amount to very little), if they have all been recognized and sanctioned in different parts of the Church, and have all in their turn been used and loved by the holiest men. the world has seen; if a considerable use of outward ceremonial in public worship be not necessarily inimical to spiritual religion, but often a great and necessary help to devotion; then is it quite becoming in this individual or that individual, among the Laity, to seek to cast suspicion upon his brethren and to create disturbance in the Church, because the worship of the Church in his parish or in his neighborhood, has put on some features which happen to be new and strange to him, though by no means new or strange in other parts of the Church? Would it not be better to recognize the fact, that these things are indifferent--matters of taste or matters of opinion, like some matters of opinion in. doctrine--and all to be included among things allowed and tolerated in the Church? Would it not be better to dismiss violent prejudices and violent resentments against things which for ages have made a part of the recognized system of the Church? If we could all cultivate a spirit more in harmony with the breadth and comprehensiveness of our great Communion, would it not be better for the peace and dignity of the Church as a whole, better for the spiritual health and comfort and growth in grace of each individual member?
We are on the very eve of another Triennal meeting of the General Convention of our Church. At all times the assembling of such a Council is an occasion of great interest and importance. The approaching session will be one of perhaps more than ordinary interest. For the first time since 1859 all the Dioceses will probably be represented. Three years ago the material obstacles previously existing in the country had been so recently removed that time and opportunity allowed only a few of our Southern brethren to resume their places among us. We are now indulging the grateful anticipation that next Wednesday, if we shall be permitted to see it, we shall witness a happy reunion of Chief Pastors and of Clerical and Lay Deputies from all the widely extended portions of our vast country. I believe I only give voice to the universal feeling among the devout members of our Communion, North and South, East and West, when I give expression to the earnest prayer,--the confident hope, that in that great assembly, whatever other differences may appear (and some minor differences of opinion may always be expected in such a Body), there will be, as between the representatives of remote Dioceses, nothing but the most fraternal spirit; only a generous and loving rivalry on all sides, who shall do most to promote unity of feeling and harmonious cooperation, no hasty unpremeditated word being allowed to escape to give pain, where there was no thought of giving pain; no word to mar the genial, healing influences of the fraternal intercommunion, or to lower in the eyes of the Church and of the country the moral dignity of the scene!
Upon the assembling of such a body as the General Convention of our Church, which convenes only once in three years, it would be strange if its doors were not besieged by a number of ingenious proposals and plausible inventions. We have had some. experience in that way in the past, and we are not likely to lack a continuance of it in the future. There is a fair prospect that the approaching Convention will have its full share of general questions presented for debate. Happily the great body of the Church is conservative in its spirit and habits; steadfast in its adherence to certain great fundamental principles; very little apt to be carried away with enthusiasm for new schemes; and the usual experience of our General Conventions is, that a great m any things are discussed, while comparatively few things are approved and adopted. This is altogether satisfactory, and I certainly trust that in these respects the coming Convention will follow the precedents.
We hear that it is proposed to ask for a revision of the Creed. It is to be presumed, too, that there will be some questions touching our relations with certain foreign Churches. ' And there will probably be a petition for a measure of general legislation, calculated to effect a fundamental change in the very reasonable and long established order and discipline of this Church. In regard to this last proposition, I may of course be mistaken, but I think it right to say, in this public manner, that I have not the remotest idea that the Church will allow herself to be moved one hair's breadth from the old foundations, on which, in accordance with her principles and all her antecedents, she was established by our Fathers.
As respects such undertakings as a critical revision of the Creed, no matter in how slight particulars, and busying ourselves with the matter of our relations with foreign Churches, I confess,--and I say it with every feeling of respect for the opinion of others,--I think the less we have to do with such things at present, in our collective capacity as a legislative body, the better it will be for us. Every right-minded Christian will deplore the existing divisions in the Body of Christ, and will long and pray for the coming on of a day of better mutual understanding among all the scattered and dissevered branches of the One Holy Catholic Church,--among all the dispersed followers of the One Lord and Saviour. O it would be a blessed day which should see in each separate part of Christendom less self-complacency in itself, and less misinterpretation and scorn of others,--less of the spirit of the Pharisee, crying "God, I thank Thee that 1 am not as other men are,"--and more of the spirit of the Publican, saying " God be merciful to me a sinner"! It would be good for the intelligence and for the wisdom, as well as for the charity of the whole Christian world, if each separate portion could be endowed with a power of spiritual discernment and sympathy enabling it to recognize and love real faith and real goodness in others, though appearing under forms and habitudes totally different from its own. But such a divine gift and faculty, how very far it seems yet to be removed from us! Few signs can be recognized in the heavens or in the earth that it is beginning to descend upon us! A few faint tokens there are indeed, here and there, that some widely separated Christian hearts feebly palpitate, ever and anon in the gloom, with better thoughts and better hopes. But each separate portion has yet a great deal to learn, a great deal to change,--none more than ourselves, before we can begin to make the least real approach to mutual good understanding and sympathy. If we ourselves cannot understand each other in the same Household of Faith, how can we understand or sympathize with strangers of another Household, who are dimly seen very far off, veiled to us under strange forms and costumes? No spasmodic action, no exceptional movement, will do much toward drawing together the dissevered parts of Christendom, or toward recreating among them a spirit of unity and feelings of sympathy. And sometimes premature advances on the part of bodies of inferior age, magnitude, and standing have the effect of exciting distrust, and so of retarding rather than advancing their object.
We ought never to forget that great movements tending to improvement, whether in ecclesiastical or social systems, come less frequently from the foresight and contrivance of man, than from unexpected openings of divine Providence. If we do our duty,--the duty that is nearest to us, and most incumbent upon us in that state of life to which it hath pleased God to call us,--with hatred toward none, with charity toward all, daily praying from the heart the prayer of our Lord, "Our Father! Hallowed be Thy Name! Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven I "--we shall be best doing our part toward supplying the conditions on which alone the adorable Head of the Church, whose work it is, will ever make the alienated portions of His flock of one mind and one heart.
It is to be feared that we do not always remember what our position is as a branch of the Church in the vast domain of Christendom; nor even in the great Anglican Communion, of which, as represented last year at Lambeth, we form a part. As an independent nation, and as a separate ecclesiastic organization, we have only attained to an age extending a very few years beyond the full three score years and ten of the life of man. There are those yet living who were born into the world before us!
And then, when we began our career, in our very first years, we took some liberties with the Prayer Book of our Mother Church, which we found in our hands. Nothing vital was changed. No article of the Faith, no essential point of order was touched. In some things the work of revision was fortunate; in others not so very happy. Our changes, slight as they were, excited anxiety in the Mother Church; and abundant and satisfactory as have been the testimonies of sympathy and regard received by us from that Church since, I am afraid it must be confessed that those feelings of solicitude--of distrust, if you please,--have never yet been entirely removed from the mind of all her members. There are not a few devout and enlightened persons in the Church of England who have yet to be emancipated from the illusion (if it be one) that the organization of our Church is an experiment.
Let not our pride be too easily irritated. Let us be modest and patient, let us be prudent and reserved,--slow to engage" in adventurous enterprises. If, for example, our magnificent English version of the Holy Scriptures should ever seem to call for revision, let us not attempt to move without the concurrence and cooperation of the whole Anglican Communion. Let us leave it to our Mother Church to take the lead. Or if we become smitten with an irresistible conviction of conscience that we must deal critically with one of the Catholic Creeds, that we must agitate the old question of the Filioque; still let us first take counsel with our venerable mother; or, at least, consider whether it would not be unwise for us in such a matter to take precedence of her. Or again, if we desire to enter into closer relations with a foreign Church, and by correspondence and acts of intercommunion determine certain debateable questions respecting her history and principles, is it not for the same reason worthy of consideration whether it would not be safer for us, as well as more becoming in us, to wait for the action of a Body which has so much more age and experience, and so much more learning? And if the Mother Church be notoriously slow to move in such matters, so much the better; we shall be the less liable to be misled by inconsiderate action.
These observations will probably encounter some national prejudices, and possibly in some quarters irritate a little the pride which every warm-hearted Churchman must feel in his own spiritual Household. They have been made after much reflection, and from a deep conviction that our safety, our dignity and respectability as an independent branch of the Church,--our chance of future influence and usefulness in any such general council of the whole Anglican Communion as that which was convened at Lambeth last year,--will depend more than we are apt to suspect, upon our prudence in council, our modesty and reserve in action, our habitual disinclination to embark in novel and adventurous schemes! O! at home, in the vast, ever-extending field which Providence has given us to cultivate, we have enough and more than enough to tax to the very uttermost our wisdom in council, our courage, self-devotion, and energy in Christian enterprise and Christian work. God most merciful help us to be faithful in this great work! give us a spirit of unity, wisdom, zeal, and love! and teach us how to enthrone His truth and His grace in all-prevailing might upon every height, and in every valley, over every city, every hamlet, every separate dwelling-place from the Atlantic to the Pacific!
When I landed on these shores in the Autumn of 1852, on my return from Europe, one of the first persons whom I met was the late Bishop of Montreal, afterwards Metropolitan of all Canada. As an act of Christian courtesy, and to encourage friendly intercommunion between the two branches of the Church, he had come down from his Diocese to unite in the consecration of my lamented predecessor. Only two years later,--in November, 1854,--the Episcopal seat in this Diocese, so soon made vacant by death, had to be filled by another consecration. At my request, seconded by the authorities of this Diocese, the Bishop of Montreal had the great kindness to come to us again, to preach and to unite in the imposition of hands at my consecration. In the following Winter I accepted his invitation to attend his Church anniversaries in Montreal, and be with him at the triennial meeting of his Clergy. It was easy to see with what wisdom he was organizing the work of his Diocese; and no one could be with him for a day in the midst of such scenes without being won by the engaging sweetness and benignity of his character. At the opening services of our last General Convention he again appeared, in response to our call, as the preacher. With what persuasive wisdom he discharged the somewhat delicate duty many in this present assembly can bear witness. In the House of Bishops, where he sat for some days, and everywhere in society, he left the most pleasing impressions,--impressions which have done good in many ways. In the Conference at Lambeth, where I last saw him seated on one side of the Primate among his brother Metropolitans, he was the same gentle, elevated, Christian Bishop,--most unaffected in his bearing, most sagacious and prudent in counsel. Most unexpectedly the Church has lost him. I count it a personal loss; and such was my feeling toward him, and my estimate of his character, that it seems to me (I say it without disparagement to others) almost as if the light of the Canadian Church had been taken away.
In our own Diocese we have to record the death of the Rev. Henry H. Bates; the Rev. William G. Heyer; the Rev. Ormond H. Dutton, who,. in a brief ministry in this parish, had made himself so warmly beloved; the Rev. John Grigg; and very recently the Rev. George H. Crowe, a Deacon.
One venerable and honored Presbyter of this Diocese, oppressed with the weight of years, but not chilled in his love for the Church or in his devotion to duty, retires from the official station which he has so long and ably filled as President of the Standing Committee--the Rev. John McVickar, D.D., for half a century a Professor in Columbia College. What a historical name in this Diocese! How steadfast in his principle, how far-reaching in his views, and how elevated in all his thoughts and sentiments! May the rays of that Sun which never sets to the Christian heart shine brightly and cheerily along his path, and in his chamber, until faith, hope, and love change in the bliss and glory of the perfect day!
I beg to return my warmest thanks to those brethren of the Clergy and Laity from various parts of the Diocese who have united in efforts to send some small measure of relief to our suffering brethren in the South. Compared with the frightful extent of the destitution and distress, the amount of our offerings, after all our previous efforts, and amidst the multitude of claims that are ever pressing upon us, was necessarily quite limited. But such relief as we were able to send was most gratefully and repeatedly acknowledged; and I have abundant assurance that it carried some gleams of comfort to many desolate homes.
During the session of the approaching General Convention the attention of the Church will probably be called to the great need of some special provision for female education at the South. Owing to the widespread rain, there is danger that thousands of parents will have superadded to their other sorrows, the distress of seeing their daughters growing up almost wholly deprived of the advantages enjoyed by their mothers. There is a Church stepping in to make extensive provision for good and cheap female education. If our loud professions of zeal for a pure faith and worship are anything better than loud professions, there ought to be no difficulty in securing for the future mothers of the South an education which shall be within their means, and at the same time healthful alike to the intellect and the conscience. I can only bespeak your earnest attention to the subject whenever it shall be presented, and also to the Freedman's Commission of our Church.
And, my brethren, I do most earnestly hope that means will be found to assist our noble-hearted Southern Bishops in the efforts they are making to secure maintainance for their Clergy,--to prevent their Dioceses from being given over to spiritual desolation. Churches are closed because the means of support cannot be found for the minister of the Church of God! Brethren, these things ought not so to be.
I have great satisfaction in stating that in our General Theological Seminary the attendance during the past year has been large, while the instruction has been distinguished by ability and thoroughness, and at the same time by the depth and moderation which belong to the well-tried, staunch, old theology of our mother Church.
One word only in conclusion, in reference to the new Dioceses about to be formed out of portions of the Diocese of New York. Without anticipating the report of the Committee, now soon to be presented, I trust I only express the general feeling of this part of the Diocese when I say that the remaining and old Diocese of New York ought ever to cherish a warm interest in those whom she is now dismissing to a separate and independent existence. Especially ought this to be so in regard to the new Diocese in the North. For a long time to come her feeble parishes and mission stations will be numerous in proportion to her self-supporting and wealthy parishes. She has been willing to make this venture of faith; and undoubtedly in every such case, the true interest and dignity of a Diocese will be best promoted, in the long run, by cultivating a spirit of independence and sell-reliance. Nevertheless they are our brethren, with whom we have long taken sweet counsel, and I trust that our hearts will ever be open to reasonable appeals in behalf of their pious and charitable works. It will be remembered that at the last annual Convention a Committee was appointed to endeavor to raise an endowment of forty thousand dollars in addition to the endowment of forty thousand dollars for the Episcopate to be raised in the North. So long as the success of the Northern effort was matter of doubt, it was impossible for the Committee to make any progress with their work in this part of the Diocese. Now that the success in the North and the organization of a Diocese there are become a certainty, I hope that further efforts here may be more prosperous. Trinity Church encourages these efforts by offering $5,000, on condition that the entire sum of $40,000 be made up in this part of the Diocese. I would recommend that the Committee appointed at the last Convention be continued, with a view to a renewal of their efforts, and I would most heartily commend them to the good-will and liberality of our brethren in this section of the Diocese.
With regard to the future support of missions in the new Diocese in the North, I think our action ought to be liberal, and at the same time circumspect. This body, as at present constituted, is obviously not the proper body to pass any vote pledging future support to northern missions. For, in the first place, those members of this Convention which belong to Long Island, will soon leave us; they will, not be here to assist us in redeeming our pledge, and therefore it would be obviously improper for them to assist by their votes in binding us to any such pledge. And in the second place, those members of this Convention, who will belong to the new Diocese in the North, will not only not be with us to assist us in paying what we should promise to pay, but they are the very persons who are to receive whatever we might engage to pay, and therefore it would hardly be delicate or reasonable for them to cast their weight into any vote in this present body on that subject. The utmost extent to which it seems to me proper for this present Convention to go, is to pass a resolution authorizing the Missionary Committee to pay the missionaries in the northern section their promised stipends up to the close of the present year of their appointment, the first day of April, and then further authorizing the Committee to pay over to the Treasurer of the Mission Fund of the new Diocese for the use of their missions, such sums (until our next annual Convention,) as shall be consistent with their means, but not exceeding the present gross sum paid by our Missionary Committee to the missionaries now within that northern section. Any further action by us in reference to future years should I think be reserved for our next annual Convention, when our Convention will consist only of those members who will have to assist in meeting whatever obligations we assume.
What we may think it right to do at our next annual Convention, we can better determine when the time shall arrive. If our situation should not be materially changed in the meantime, I think I should be inclined to propose at our next annual Convention, that we under-take to pay to the northern Diocese for their internal missions certain sums for four or five years, beginning with say $4,000 or $5,000, and diminishing each year until at the end of the fifth year, they should cease altogether. I say such is my present view, and I believe it would meet the present views of this portion of the Diocese. But it is easy to see that circumstances might so change as to make such an arrangement neither expedient nor equitable.
Of my feelings towards those portions of the Diocese which are soon to be separated from us, I have already said enough in the early pages of this Address. I shall love to see them prosperous, peaceful, and happy. May that unity which for more than twenty years I delighted to recognize among the Clergy of the North continue to be their blessed portion. And everywhere may the greatness of our work, and the blessedness of our hope, and the substantial identity of our aims and associations, and an all-constraining love for our dear Lord and Saviour, the one supreme desire of all our souls, bind us together more and more in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace,--insensibly sealing us up and making us ready, through His merits and His grace, for the eternal and ineffable joys of His adorable presence.