THE late Pastoral Letter, from the Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New-York, as was anticipated by the writer, has "exposed him to hard thoughts from within the (this?) Church," as well as to severe criticism from without. We are told, from a quarter which claims a high position: "This Pastoral has a history, and is one of the most important documents ever issued by an American Bishop." It seems likely to have a subsequent, if it had no antecedent history. Its real history, in the Protestant Church, dates back to the days of Laud. Its principles are those of a party which has been more or less active and powerful in the English Church and in our own since that period: but the enforcement of these party views, as the law of our Church, is a new and certainly a bold policy; a measure so novel and essentially revolutionary, that it very naturally excites astonishment, and challenges the most careful and thorough examination. There is, with this exception, nothing to which we are unaccustomed in this paper. We are familiar with its principles, spirit, and mode of reasoning. Dogmatism, instead of proof; assumption, in lieu of facts; hasty and false conclusions from correct premises, and, wide inferences from narrow premises, have ever characterized the party whose views are here represented. The same opinions and notions, if published anonymously, would have attracted very little attention; or, if they had been presented to the public as the views of one of our clergymen, would have excited but little interest or comment. The general feeling would have been that the Protestant Episcopal Church, in that tolerant and comprehensive spirit which so characterizes her standards and has marked her history, permits, in all unessential matters, great variety of opinion and even of corresponding practice; and that, in the exercise of that liberty, even [3/4] these extreme views might be tolerated as matters of private judgment. To many, they might appear to violate the law of Christian charity, and to be inconsistent with the principles of our reformers, and the facts of our own history as a Church; but while such would be thankful for the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and be careful not to become "entangled again with the yoke of bondage," they would still bear in mind the inquiry, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" knowing that "to his own master he standeth or falleth."
But the Pastoral comes before us from the head of the Diocese, not only with the weight of the Bishop's character and position, but as an official and authoritative document. This is obvious from its address, from the title affixed to the signature, and from the whole tone and language of the paper.
In that form and view, it calls for some definite notice. It is this which alone gives it any serious importance. It is styled: "A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of New-York from the Bishop." While it is thus addressed to all, care is taken at the outset to state that but few of the clergy need it. It is designed, therefore, for but these "few." There is no canonical authority for such a proceeding.
By Section X., Canon xiii. (title 1,) the Bishop is recommended "to deliver a charge to the clergy of his Diocese at least once in three years, and also from time to time to address to the people of his diocese Pastoral Letters, on some points of Christian doctrine, worship, or manners." This is neither a charge delivered to the clergy, nor a pastoral addressed to the people. If the Bishop desired to give advice or suggest a warning to the "few who he hoped had acted hastily," it could easily have been done in private, and any friendly counsel thus given would have been welcomed, and allowed to have its due influence; but the document before us is obviously of another character. So all understand it, and so it was doubtless intended that it should be regarded. It judges of facts, it renders a verdict, it interprets the canons, it passes sentences of judgment--it does all this officially, without any legal inquiry as to the facts, without notice to the accused, without any canonical authority to do, or pretend to do a single one of these things. If a minister of this Church shall be accused by public rumor of any offence punishable by canon, the Bishop is directed to see that an inquiry be instituted as to the truth of such public rumor, and, in case of the individual's being proceeded against and convicted, according to the prescribed rules [4/5] and process, to inflict suitable punishment. He is not left to the exercise of his discretion or indiscretion in the premises. This is the exercise of discipline, according "to the authority of God's Word, and by the order of this Church," which every Bishop is required to promise at his consecration. In the language of the Pastoral Letter, "He is as much under the guidance and control of the law of the (this?) Church as any other clergyman;" and yet, while refusing to follow the direction of the canon, by the course here pursued, he virtually prefers charges, tries, convicts, and inflicts penalties, without any authority, and in a way of his own invention. If he believes that "things have occurred in the way of clerical action which are contrary to the law of the (this?) Church, and injurious to its peace and good order," and if these things constitute so "flagrant a violation of the spirit and intent of our law" as to call forth a "severity of judgment" against the offenders, as men who act from "the mere promptings of sentiment and self-will, which disregard the paramount obligations of obedience," then the canons plainly prescribe his course of duty. They leave him no choice. They do this for the protection of the clergy against the offensive action of individual caprice, prejudice, or misconception, as well as to punish offenders. It would be an unworthy evasion to say that no names are mentioned, and that therefore no particular persons are aimed at or officially reproved.
The inferences and arguments of the Pastoral stand on their own merits. The Bishop has the same right to hold his private opinions, and even to publish them as such, as any other man or minister; but the assumption of authority which this document involves is startling. A student of history or of human nature cannot fail to see whither all this tends. Very few, even of the extremists, in our Church are ready to say, "Ecclesia in Episcopo," in such a sense as to abolish our constitution and written law, and lodge all power in the irresponsible will of the Bishop. In the hands of our present Diocesan, it might never be injudiciously exercised, but the principle involved in it is the essence of despotism.
The document itself is thus, not only unauthorized by any law of our Church, but in it, the Bishop virtually assumes to exercise judicial and other powers, which our standards of discipline do not confer upon him, while it avowedly confesses to a plain disregard of the most obvious directions of our Canons on the part of its author.
 Let us now turn to the Pastoral itself. Its title-page, and the signature at the end of the letter, are singular, and, in their relations, highly significant. I should have been disposed to regard them as elliptical, and put in their apparently general and vague form for the sake of brevity, were it not for their peculiar and striking harmony with the doctrine of the Letter itself, with the manner in which terms are employed throughout the document, and with the extravagant and exclusive claims of the narrow party it represents.
It is addressed: "To the Clergy of the Diocese of New-York." Who are they? "The Diocese of New-York" has certain territorial boundaries. "The Clergy" within its limits are here designated. Are Presbyterian and other Protestant clergymen included? Or if their recognition, as clergymen, is out of the question, is the letter addressed to the Romish clergy? There is nothing on the title-page to forbid this interpretation, or to indicate that it was designed for any particular branch of the household of faith. When we examine it more closely, to learn from whom it emanates, our information is no more exact in regard to its authorship, than in respect to the parties for whom it was written. We are simply told that it is "from the Bishop." We are still in the dark. Several persons in the Diocese of New-York claim to be Bishops. We supposed there was one who claimed to be "the Bishop," but he is accustomed to prefix to his signature "+," as his distinguishing mark. What Bishop has issued this letter? As it is addressed "To the Clergy of the Diocese of New-York," the inference is natural that the author of the letter is "the Bishop" of the Diocese of New-York. We turn to the signature, and there learn that his title is "Bishop of New-York." This, if possible, is broader and less definite than the title-page. The name, to those who are well instructed in ecclesiastical matters, discloses a circumstance, which one ignorant of the facts would be puzzled to infer from the titles used, that he who assumes to be the "Bishop of New-York," is only "the Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New-York." This is his proper legal title. From the name of the author, we conclude that the Pastoral "To the Clergy of the Diocese of New York" is meant for the clergy of that particular branch of the Church over which he canonically presides, and that it should have been addressed: "To the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New-York." This is by no means mere verbal or captious criticism. We should be disposed to regard [6/7] this singular omission to designate his own clergy in the address, and to indicate properly his own office in the signature, as an oversight, if the same exclusive and inclusive assumptions did not characterize the entire paper. The obstinate pertinacity, or the uniformity and the blindness with which this is done are remarkable. It certainly has the merit of consistency with itself, if not with the standards of worship and discipline from which it makes quotations. There is, throughout the letter, a systematic refusal to apply the word Church to any non-Episcopal denomination of Christians, while the Protestant Episcopal Church is called "the Church." In the Prayer-Book and the Canons it is always designated as "this Church," or, the full legal title is given. In the letter before us, the words "this Church" are employed nine times in the Canons that are cited, and twice in the preface to the ordinal which is quoted in full. The term "the Church" is not found in either, and yet the Bishop persistently uses the term "the Church," repeating it thirty-four times in immediate connection with these citations, to signify that which our standards with equal persistency call "this Church." It is hardly conceivable that this should be undesigned. Take the following illustration. Immediately after quoting from the Prayer-Book--"To the intent that these orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church," etc.--the letter says: "Then the Church proceeds, according to that declaration, to enact, in her very first Canon, that, 'in this Church, there shall always be three orders in the ministry.' " Our Church is especially favored, on this hypothesis, in having the Church to legislate for her. It would hardly be respectful to the Bishop to suppose that he believed the terms synonymous and interchangeable. He must know that a part of a thing is not the whole of it, and that the language of our standards plainly proves that the Protestant Episcopal Church does not claim to be the Church, but a Church--one of the many churches of Christendom, which, in the aggregate, constitute the Church visible.
Any schoolboy knows that the distinction between the term used by the Bishop and that employed by our Church is plain and broad; and all who are well informed in regard to the recent Oxford controversy, know that it is not only important but fundamental. There is nothing new in all this. This misuse and perversion of titles and terms, is characteristic of that party, which scrupulously ignores and denies the orders and church status of all [7/8] Christian bodies, except such as have an episcopally constituted and derived ministry.
It pervades the literature of this school. The Prayer-Book calls them churches, they say dissenters or the sects, or, "non-Episcopal bodies; "the Prayer-Book says table, they say altar; the Prayer-Book says this Church, they say the Church; the law says, "the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New-York;" our Diocesan writes, "Bishop of New-York." Words are things. They are used in the Pastoral Letter with discrimination and care. I have not given undue importance to that which might appear, to a superficial observer, a trifling matter. These "non-Episcopal bodies" may hold the faith in every essential point of doctrine; the graces and fruits of the Spirit may be clearly and powerfully illustrated in the lives of their members; their ministry may be eminent for its holiness, and its success in the conversion of sinners, and in the edification of the Christian; they may preach "the pure word of God" and minister "the sacraments according to Christ's ordinance in all those things which of necessity are requisite to the same," but, because they lack a certain ecclesiastical pedigree, of which their own standards say nothing--a pedigree running through all the darkness, corruptions, and idolatries of the middle ages, through the convulsions and decay of the Roman Empire, back to the Apostles--they are not entitled to be called a Church, they have no claim to the promises of the Gospel, and no interest in the covenant of grace.
On the other hand, an "episcopal body," may "err in their living, manner of ceremonies, and in matters of faith; vainly invent doctrines repugnant to the Word of God," introduce "idolatries, superstitions, blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits," and yet find a full atonement for all, in the fact that its ministry is, or claims to be, in a certain line of outward succession. Its covenant with life and peace is unbroken, because, forsooth, paganized priests who teach these heresies, and outrage the adorable Trinity by their idolatries, their monstrous usurpations of Divine prerogatives, and their prohibited oblations, claim to be lineally descended from the Apostles. This is the logic of the Pastoral Letter. It is painful, and to me a sore humiliation, to find the chosen head of our Church, whom I have always respected and loved, not only identifying himself with the views of such a party, but seeking to force their apparent indorsement upon all his clergy.
We shall find the preceding observations fully sustained by a careful examination of the statements and inferences of the Letter, [8/9] and by a comparison of them with the language of our standards and the history of our Church. Before proceeding to this examination, the introductory observations of the Pastoral call for a passing remark. Although the letter is issued on the hypothesis that its strictures are applicable to "but few among a large number of our clergymen in the Diocese," I suspect that if their history was known, "many" would be found wanting when weighed in such a balance, and "but few " discovered who would precisely fit the Procrustean bed here provided for them. However this may be, there are, doubtless, "a few clergymen in the Diocese who are conscious to themselves that there has been something in their official proceedings which may have had some influence in suggesting these present observations," although they are not able to perceive "their propriety, and even necessity." As these few men are not only Christian gentlemen, some of them of long experience and wide reputation, but also personal friends of the Bishop, who were instrumental in placing him in his present position, and have stood firmly in his defence when others caballed and intrigued to oppose him, it certainly would have been singular, to say the least, if he had failed in "personal kindness and manifestation of personal respect and regard toward them." Any thing less than this, toward any of his clergy, would have been unbecoming his high position and sacred relations.
The fact that "his administration of the Diocese had not been marked by any disposition, on his part, to impose needless restraints upon the official conduct of the clergy, or to interfere in any way, without necessity, with their freedom of action," heightened, each year, their regard for and confidence in him as a ruler, and their respect and affection for him as a Christian man. It is because he here "steps forth in an unusual" and uncanonical way, not only to make a striking exception to this wise rule which he has observed for a decade of years, but to set forth "the discipline of Christ as the Lord hath" not "commanded," and as this Church has not "received the same," that many "yield with reluctance to the sense of duty which impels them," for the first time, to take a position antagonistic to their Diocesan. "Upon a candid and serious review of their obligations and duties," they are unable to "change their view of what is right for them to do as Ministers of this Church." They are as honestly desirous as any can be to "throw the influence of their judgment and example upon the side of order and unity in their own fold," but they can not consent, for the sake of securing a constrained outward uniformity, [9/10] to sacrifice what they regard as vital principles, and put a yoke upon themselves and their brethren which our Church has never imposed, which they never assumed, and which few would be willing or able to bear.
The Pastoral Letter proceeds, after the introduction thus referred to, to present "some of the principles and laws of the (our?) Church;" citing, first, the declaration subscribed before ordination:
1. "I do believe the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation: and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrines and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States." The Letter next quotes from the ordination service the following:
2. "Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your Cure and Charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?"
Answer. "I will do so, by the help of the Lord."
It would seem almost incredible, that, without inquiry, authority, or proof, a Bishop would publicly and officially charge a number of his clergy with a disregard and violation of these solemn engagements and vows. This is the natural inference of the public. While there is no hint elsewhere, in the Letter, that this was not designed, there is much to confirm this inference.
3. Then follows: "Let us now see what are the Doctrines, Discipline, and Worship of this Church."
One would naturally expect a learned divine to turn first to the Creeds and Articles in quest of the doctrines, to the Rubrics and Canons for the Discipline, and to the various Offices of devotion for the Worship of our Church. There are points of contact and relationship, it is true, in which these sources of authority are sometimes intermingled and conjoined. The Creeds and Articles, in a general way cover and embrace all the principles that are more particularly evolved and illustrated in the Offices, Rubrics, and Canons. The Offices incidentally teach doctrines, and the Rubrics and Canons in the same way, often confirm or illustrate the principles that are set forth in the Articles, Creeds, and Offices. But to ascertain and settle definitely the Doctrines of our Church, we go first to the Creeds and Articles. For this purpose, their statements are supreme. These, however, are entirely overlooked [10/11] by the Bishop, who is in quest of our Doctrine in regard to what constitutes the visible Church, and also ministerial authority in that body. The principles involved in the answer to these inquiries are obviously all that he is here contending for. This is plainly seen in his distinction between the Presbyterian and the Greek churches, and his treatment of each. He has a theory in regard to both these questions, which makes a certain outward organization "the Church," and a ministry episcopally constituted and derived, its only lawful ministry. He here sets it forth, both positively in regard to our own and the Greek Church, and negatively in regard to "non-episcopal bodies," and claims that our Worship and Discipline were designed to teach this exclusive theory, for confessedly it is not found in the Creeds or Articles.
The Apostles' Creed sets forth, as an article of faith, "the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints," and the Nicene Creed, "one Catholic and Apostolic Church;" but, as non-Episcopalians believe them as unreservedly as we do, and as the Bishop is in search of points of difference between us, which will "erect an effectual barrier between" us and them, he naturally passes this by, as containing nothing to his purpose. He treats the Articles in the same way, doubtless for the same reason, although they have formally set forth our doctrines on this subject, in the same language, for three hundred years.
The Nineteenth Article defines "the visible Church" in these words:
"The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
"As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith." (How unlike some of our modern definitions!)
No natural and honest interpretation can find a feature in it which is wanting in any of the orthodox non-Episcopal churches. They accept it as their description of the visible Church, and no one denies their full conformity to all the definition requires. It emanated from, and was designed to represent no narrow sectarian views. It is as Catholic as the Creeds, as liberal as the spirit of the New Testament.
What is the plain, natural, grammatical sense of this language? We search in vain for the slightest allusion to Episcopacy, or any [11/12] particular form of outward government. Standing by itself, no human ingenuity could pervert or torture it into an indorsement of the exclusive validity of Episcopal orders; much less could it be compelled, by any possible construction, to teach such a doctrine. Even if it were as historically true, as it is historically false, that the framers of this Article held this narrow theory, in the way of private opinion; no honest and unprejudiced mind can fail to perceive that they did not venture to set it forth as the doctrine of the Church of England. That must present a definition which is scriptural, comprehensive, and catholic.
The Article, accordingly, is as faithful a description of most of the orthodox "non-Episcopal bodies," as it is of own Church. Every part and parcel of the definition applies to them as well as to us. Nothing is more "evident" to any one acquainted with the history of the Reformation and the views of the Reformers, than that their individual opinions were as liberal as the standards they established. If any deny this, it is worse than useless; it is a foolish waste of time to argue with them. They would deny any historical fact which did not happen to suit their purpose.
The language of the Article teaches, what its framers believed, what they acted upon, and what they designed to impose upon the conscience of every man who, "with all the solemnities of an oath," promises "so to minister the doctrine of Christ as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same." Wherever a minister of this Church finds a society of Christian people, acknowledging Christ as their common Lord, professing the true faith, officered by a ministry which they recognize, and incorporated under the due administration of the sacraments, there he is bound, by his ordination vows, to recognize a true Church. These "non-episcopal bodies" believe in the creeds, and even in the doctrines taught in the Thirty-nine Articles, as honestly and firmly as they are held by our own people and clergy. They have a ministry which preaches what we must admit to be the true faith, if we hold it ourselves; and also which is competent to the due administration of the sacraments, unless we deny that many of our bishops and clergy, and a large portion of our laity, have ever been baptized. Next to preaching the Gospel, baptism is the highest official and ministerial act known to the visible Church. It is administered once for all. It was enjoined upon his Apostles by our Lord as an essential and distinguishing part of their ministerial work; it is laid down repeatedly as of universal and perpetual obligation; it constitutes its recipients [13/14] members of the visible fold of Christ, and guarantees to them all the privileges and advantages of that relation, whatever they may be. It is nowhere declared in Scripture or in our standards, that it can be administered by any but a lawful minister of the visible Church. It lies at the very foundation of the visibility of the Church. The ministerial authority which is valid for the administration of this ordinance, is certainly as valid for that of the Lord's Supper, which is a memorial service that is often repeated, and, compared with the former, is much less prominent in the New Testament, which nowhere prescribes the presence of a lawful ministry in its celebration.
There might, with good reason, be doubts, in some minds, and they have existed in many, whether according to this Article, the Eastern Church and that of Rome were properly entitled to be called churches; but it leaves the ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church no ground for hesitation or option in regard to the church status of those "non-Episcopal bodies," which our Prayer-Book expressly calls churches; which Hooker speaks of as those "churches which have not the government that is by Bishops; which defect," he adds, "I had much rather lament than exagitate." The Twenty-third Article is even more directly to the point before us, although each, by necessary inference, involves the other. This, let it be remembered, authoritatively sets forth what every minister, "with much solemnity," professes to believe and promises to teach, in regard to the very question which underlies and is the foundation of the Pastoral Letter.
Having ascertained our doctrine in regard to the essential elements of the visible Church, let us see what our Church teaches as necessary to constitute ministerial authority in that body. This is found in her Twenty-third Article, "Of Ministering in the Congregation."
"It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard."
We find here no allusion to a succession in the ministry, and no hint of its episcopal derivation. Comment upon it can hardly make it more obvious than the language as it stands. The truth is as plain on its face, as in contemporaneous history, that this [13/14] Article is carefully worded so as to acknowledge the validity of the ministry of the Scottish and foreign non-episcopal churches.
Archbishop Bancroft has been accused of inventing the exclusive theory, to which the framers of our Articles seem to have been strangers; but this seems hardly consistent with the fact, that in 1607, Thomas Rogers, his chaplain, published an Exposition of the Articles, with this title: "The Faith, Doctrine, and Religion, etc., expressed in Thirty-nine Articles, etc.; the said Articles analyzed into propositions, and the propositions proved to be agreeable both to the written word of God and to the extant confessions of all the neighbor churches Christianly reformed." 1607. 4to.
This was "perused, and by the lawful authority of the Church of England allowed to be public," and all the parishes in the province of the Archbishop were ordered by him to provide it for their use. He finds in this Article the following propositions:
"1. None publicly may preach but such as thereunto are authorized. 2. They must not be silent who, by office, are bound to preach. 3. The sacraments may not be administered in the congregation but by a lawful minister. 4. There is a lawful ministry in the Church. 5. They are lawful ministers which be ordained by men lawfully appointed to the calling and sending forth of ministers. 6. Before ministers are to be ordained, they are to be chosen and called."
He then shows that all of the foreign reformed non-episcopal Churches maintain the truth of all these propositions in their standards of doctrine and discipline. This not only confirms the natural sense of the Articles, but proves how the authorities of the Church of England regarded them. Bishop Burnet, who stands about midway in the history of the Church of England, between the time of Bancroft and the present, prepared an exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, which was carefully read and highly approved by three Archbishops, several learned Bishops, and "a great many learned divines of the Church of England," before it was published.
This is the only work on the Thirty-nine Articles which is set forth to be studied by candidates for the ministry in the "course of ecclesiastical studies, established by the House of Bishops in the Convention of 1804, in pursuance of a resolution of the preceding General Convention." It has the same authoritative indorsement to the present time. Commenting on the Article before us, the right reverend author says:
 "If a company of Christians find the public worship where they live to be so defiled that they cannot, with a good conscience, join in it, and if they do not know of any place to which they can conveniently go, where they may worship God purely and in a regular way--if, I say, such a body, finding some that have been Ordained, though to the lower functions, should submit itself entirely to their conduct, or finding none of those, should by a common consent desire some of their own number to minister to them in holy things, and should upon that beginning grow up to a regulated constitution, . . . when this grows to a constitution, and when it was begun by the consent of a body, who are supposed to have an authority in such an extraordinary case, whatever some hotter spirits have thought of this since that time, yet we are very sure, that not only those who penned the Articles, but the body of this Church for above half an age after, did, notwithstanding those irregularities, acknowledge the foreign churches, so constituted, to be true churches as to all the essentials of a church, though they had been at first irregularly formed, and continued still to be in an imperfect state. And therefore the general words in which this part of the Article is framed, seemed to have been designed on purpose not to exclude them." (Burnet's Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, 5th ed. 1746.)
In strict accordance with these views, the validity of these non-Episcopal orders was recognized in the Church of England for upward of one hundred years, by allowing those thus ordained to hold livings, to preach, and to administer the sacraments in that Church. Strype, referring to an act passed in the thirteenth year of Elizabeth, 1571, says: "By this, the ordinations of the foreign reformed churches were made valid, and those who had no other orders were made of the same capacity with others to enjoy any place in the ministry, within England, merely on their subscribing the Articles." Bishop Cosin, in his letter to Cordel, writes: "If at any time a minister, so ordained in these French churches, came to incorporate himself in ours, and to receive a public charge or cure of souls among us, in the Church of England, (as I have known some of them to do of late, and can instance in many others before my time,) our bishops did not reordain him before they admitted him to his charge; as they must have done if his former ordination in France had been void. Nor did our laws require more of him than to declare his public consent to the religion received among us, and to subscribe the Articles established."
Bishop Burnet writes: "No bishop in Scotland did so much as [15/16] desire any of the Presbyterians to be reordained." Not a single Archbishop, from Cranmer to the present day, except Laud, and perhaps Potter, has held this exclusive theory; and the same is demonstrable of the leading divines both of England and this country. The testimony of Cranmer, Parker, Grindal, Jewel, Whittingham, Andrews, Whitgift, Field, Hooker, Bramhall, Danevant, Hall, Usher, Tillotson, Wake, Secker, and a host of others on both sides of the Atlantic, might be adduced to confirm this statement. All this teaching of the Articles, and this almost unanimous consent of divines, is overlooked by the advocates of the exclusive scheme, while they appeal to the preface to the ordinal, and to one of the Canons, to convict the Articles of teaching false doctrine, or to prove that the natural and commonly received interpretation of them, plainly expressed by words and actions for three hundred years, is erroneous, and a violation of principles "generally deemed sacred." Even granting that the authority of the ordinal and the Canons on questions of doctrine is supreme, I am unable to perceive that such an inference, from these premises, is natural, logical, or necessary; but as they stand, if I was compelled to admit that they could bear no other construction, I should feel bound to reject the doctrine, on the ground, that an inference from a rubrical and canonical direction respecting the outward regulation of our particular branch of the household of faith, cannot release one of our clergy from his solemn obligation to believe and teach what he is persuaded is scriptural, and plainly set forth in our standards of doctrine. In matters of doctrine, the offices and canons must be subordinate to the Articles. We shall find that they are, in fact, harmonious; that the conclusions of the Pastoral Letter are forced and unnatural, and that in no other way can our Worship and Discipline be arrayed in antagonism against our Doctrine.
I have, I trust, abundantly proved that the theory of the exclusive validity of episcopal orders is not only unsupported by our Articles, but that they plainly contradict it, and also that it was not the doctrine of the Reformers or of the leading English divines. The Bishop, therefore, very naturally ignores their statement of doctrine on this question, and flies, first to the preface to the ordinal, in search of a foundation for his scheme, and then to the Canons for its support. I quote all of the preface which bears upon the point before us:
"It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been [16/17] these orders of ministers in Christ's Church--Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. . . . And therefore, to the intent that these orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination."
The Bishop infers from this language that there can be no church without these three orders, episcopally derived in a certain line of succession. He does not say this in these words, but it is cited as an unanswerable argument, that the exclusive theory is the doctrine of our Church. He might, with nothing but this preface before him, just as naturally have inferred the affirmative as the negative proposition. The truth is, it teaches nothing more in regard to the abstract question of ordination and ministerial authority in the visible Church, than the historical fact, that three orders have always existed in it, and that this circumstance is sufficient to warrant their continuance in this particular branch of the visible body of Christ.
Suppose we were to find, prefixed to the ceremony prescribed for the coronation of the monarch of a particular kingdom, the following statement: It is evident unto all men diligently reading ancient authors and modern history, that from the days of Solomon there have been kings, who have ruled among the nations of the earth; which royal office has evermore been held in such reverend estimation, that no man might presume to execute the same unless he were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful authority. And therefore, to the intent that this office may be continued and reverently used. and esteemed in this realm, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful king in this nation, or suffered to execute any of the functions of royalty in this kingdom, except he first be duly crowned according to the ceremony following, or has been duly crowned as king in some other monarchy.
I am ashamed to ask the question, whether any man of common-sense would regard this as affirming that there can be no lawful government except a monarchy? whether it forbids its king and subjects to recognize nations otherwise, governed, as established states, and requires them to regard their officers as pretenders and usurpers? It is simply monstrous; and yet this is precisely the logic of those who infer the exclusive dogma from the preface in contemplation. When we add to this plain assumption [17/18] (for the relation of the premise to the conclusion is not sufficiently intimate to call it an inference) the fact, that no such notion could possibly have been in the minds of those who framed and adopted it, I am utterly unable to understand how an intelligent man can regard it as in any way touching the abstract question, which is definitely determined by the Articles. On its face, in the light of history, reason, and common-sense, it is simply a rule for the government of one particular Church, in regard to a matter of outward order, and a justification of it by precedents. It is nothing more. Some claim that the enactments of Parliament in 1662 are decisive as to the doctrine of the Church of England. The truth is, "The Act of Uniformity," requiring all admitted to any ecclesiastical promotion or dignity in the Church of England to have had episcopal ordination; and the addition at the same time to the preface under consideration, of the words, "or hath had episcopal ordination or consecration," proves nothing as to this question. It implies, what history records, that up to this time there had been no exclusion from the ministrations of the Church of England of the ministers of the foreign non-episcopal churches, and that a converted Romish priest was no longer required to be reordained to enter her ministry. The act was one of expediency and self-defence, and was passed "at a time when the benefices of the Church were filled by men attached to the Presbyterian form of church government, and the Episcopal ministers ejected from them." In the following section of the same Act, there is a distinct recognition of the "non-episcopal bodies" thus excluded as "the foreign reformed churches." No change was made or proposed in the formal declarations of the Articles, because none was desired or intended in regard to the doctrines of the Church. It was a civil act, dictated by state policy. Consequently, since that period the Church status of these bodies and the validity of their ministry have been recognized by the Church of England as before, with the exception of the restrictions imposed by the Act of Uniformity. Outside of the civil jurisdiction of England, "The Church Missionary Society," "The Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel," and "The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," some of them under the direction of the entire Bench of Bishops, and others under the sanction of a portion of them, have for more than a hundred years sent missionaries to "teach all nations, preach the Gospel to them, and baptize them," who have had no other than Presbyterian ordination. This, in their estimation, gave full validity [18/19] to their ministerial acts, although it did not entitle them to assume the character and sustain the relations of a minister in the Established Church of England. Not only the practice, but the writings of her leading divines show that the Act of Uniformity, and the addition of the concluding sentence to the preface, were not regarded as affecting the doctrinal views of that Church on this question, as they were "formally and authoritatively" set forth in the Article. A catena of testimony to this effect is easily found.
Bishop Stillingfleet, in his Irenicum--"a book," says Bishop White, "much talked against, but never answered"--maintains, with Hooker, of the Elizabethan period, that the particular form of church government, however important, is unessential; that "the episcopal form is not founded upon any unalterable divine right," and points to the fact that the stoutest champions for episcopacy confess "that ordination performed by presbyters in case of necessity is valid."
Dean Sherlock uses this language:
"I do allow episcopacy to be an apostolical institution, and the truly ancient and catholic government of the Church, of which more hereafter; but yet in this very book I prove industriously and at large, that in case of necessity, when bishops cannot be had, a church may be a truly catholic church, and such as we may and ought to communicate with, without bishops, in vindication of some foreign reformed churches who have none; and therefore I do not make episcopacy so absolutely necessary to catholic communions as to unchurch all churches which have it not." "The Church of England does not deny but that, in case of necessity, the ordination of presbyters may be valid." (Vindic. of some Prot. Principles, etc., reprinted in Gibson's Preserv. vol. iii. pp. 410, 432.)
Dr. Claget, in his Notes of the Church, writes:
"The Church of England doth not unchurch those parts of Christendom that hold the unity of the faith."
Archbishop Wake, in 1719, says: "I bless God that I was born and have been bred in an Episcopal Church, which, I am convinced, has been the government established in the Christian Church from the very times of the Apostles. But I should be unwilling to affirm that where the ministry is not episcopal there is no true church, nor any true administration of the sacraments. Very many there are among us who are very zealous for the [19/20] Episcopacy, and yet they dare not go so far as to annul the ordinances of God performed by any other ministry."
Archbishop Secker, in 1764, writes as follows: "The Church of England pretends not indeed to be the Catholic Church, but is undoubtedly a sound, excellent member of it. Christ's Church is the whole number of those who believe in him. . . . Our inclination is to live in friendship with all the Protestant churches. We assist and protect those on the continent of Europe as well as we are able. We show our regard to that of Scotland as often as we have an opportunity." In one of his sermons he employs this language:
"Supposing we had even acted without, and separated from, our Church governors, as our Protestant brethren abroad were forced to do; was there not a cause? When the Word of God was hidden from men . . . when Church authority, by supporting such things as these, became inconsistent with the ends for which it was established, what remedy was there but to throw it of and form new establishments. If in these there were any irregularities, they were the faults of those who forced men into them, and are of no consequence in comparison with the reason that made a change necessary." (Serm. vol. vi. pp. 400, 401.)
Bishop Tomline, still later, in his learned exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, in the spirit of Burnet, quoted in a former page, in regard to the same point, says:
"I readily acknowledge that there is no precept in the New Testament which commands that every church should be governed by bishops. No church can exist without some government; but though there must be rules and orders for the proper discharge of the offices of public worship, though there must be fixed regulations concerning the appointment of ministers; and though a subordination among them is expedient in the highest degree, yet it does not follow that all these things must be precisely the same in every Christian country; they may vary with the other varying circumstances of human society, with the extent of a country, the manner of its inhabitants, the nature of its civil government, and many other peculiarities which might be specified. As it has not pleased our Almighty Father to prescribe any particular form of civil government for the security of temporal comforts to his rational creatures, so neither has he prescribed any particular form of ecclesiastical polity as absolutely necessary to the attainment of eternal happiness. . . . As the Scriptures do not prescribe any definite form of church government, so they [20/21] contain no directions concerning the establishment of a power by which ministers are to be admitted to their sacred office." And, therefore, though he advocates episcopal ordination as "instituted by the Apostles," he does not maintain it as necessary. (Expos. of Art. xxiii; ed. 1799, pp. 396, 398.)
Volumes of a similar character could be cited, from English divines, since the addition to the Ordinal, which only affected those who had been already episcopally ordained.
It is assuming too much to say, in a total disregard of the Articles, and of all this history, that in the preface to the Ordinal, "the Church sets forth her principles and her law in regard to the sacred ministry in the most clear, formal, and authoritative way." She does nothing of the kind. It would be difficult to find in the same compass more unfounded assumptions than this passage contains. The truth is, it is not set forth by "the Church," but by our Church, which never claims to be "the Church." It was not designed to teach the principles and the laws of the Church, but to lay down a rule for the outward government, in a single particular, of OUR CHURCH. It says nothing in regard to the sacred ministry of the Church, it merely states what is required to become ministers in OUR CHURCH. It is "clear, formal, and authoritative," for that specific purpose, and for no other. It is a rule of discipline for ourselves, in distinction from other churches, not an enunciation of general principles or of abstract doctrine.
We have shown that the Preface to the Ordinal teaches nothing, and was not designed to teach any thing, in regard to the abstract question of the Church or the ministry.
It does plainly declare, as the law of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, that those who have not had episcopal ordination shall not "be accounted, or taken to be lawful ministers" therein, nor "suffered to execute any of the functions of a bishop, priest, or deacon," in this particular denomination. This alone, would seem to imply that ministers of the Greek, Romish, English, Methodist, and Moravian churches, having been episcopally ordained, may lawfully execute these functions in this body. (It is quite an instructive fact, that neither in the Ordinal nor in the Canons is any allusion made to Episcopal succession. It is implied from our law and services that the ministry is to be transmitted on that principle, but nothing more.) If there were no canonical provisions to limit or explain it, this would be a natural inference. But Canon ii. Title i., if it applies to ministers at all, shuts them all out, declaring: "No person shall be [21/22] permitted to officiate in any congregation of this Church, without first producing the evidence that he is a minister thereof." According to the terms of the Ordinal, a vestry might occasionally invite a Methodist, or a clergyman of the Church of England, to "execute the functions" of a priest or deacon in a particular church. According to this rule, thus applied, both are alike excluded until they have complied with the requirements of the Canon ix. Title i., "Of the admission of ministers ordained by bishops not in communion with this Church."
With this construction, if there is any doubt as to the kind of ministers that are excluded by the Ordinal, that uncertainty is removed by the Canon. Uniting the two, we find that "no person is permitted to officiate in any congregation of this Church, or execute any of the functions of a lawful bishop, priest, or deacon therein, who is not a minister thereof." This language seems plain. What is its natural, obvious meaning? The answers will vary with the preconceived views of those who make them. This is natural, if not inevitable. Some would instinctively recoil from a construction which to them would appear to violate the law of Christian courtesy and the spirit of the Gospel, condemn the formally declared principles as well as the frequent practice of their own Church, and place a stumbling-block in their own way, as well as prove offensive to others. They would naturally suppose that the most liberal interpretation the language could fairly bear should be given to it. Others, of different temperament and habit, desirous of confirming an exclusive theory which they have adopted, long and fondly cherished, and consistently maintained, would as naturally limit it to as rigid and stringent a construction as the terms will permit. To illustrate this proposition, as well as the Canon, let us take a case in regard to which the mind is unbiassed by any prejudice or self-interest. Let us suppose that the act of incorporation, or charter of a particular seminary of learning, provides that its officers shall be a President, Professors, and Tutors, and that no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful President, Professor, or Tutor in this institution, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be admitted thereunto by the Board of Trustees; and, further, that the Trustees and Faculty enact a by-law, declaring that no person shall officiate in any department of this institution unless he is an officer thereof. Would this be regarded, by any unprejudiced person as prohibiting an officer's invitation of a learned professor of another institution, to be present in his recitation-room [22/23] on some special occasion, which in no way interfered with the prescribed routine of duty, and read a lecture to his class on some special subject? Would this prohibit the loaning of the lecture-room, "at a time when it was not required for the ordinary use of the institution, to an officer of another seminary, for a specific purpose, and the attendance of its officers and students? Would it be unlawful under such a rule for an officer, in case of sickness or under any emergency, to invite a suitable person, not an officer of the institution, to supply temporarily his place? Would this be legally and technically "officiating in one of the departments" of the institution? The answer is apparent. If we apply the common principles of interpretation to this Canon, we must give it a still more liberal construction.
It is generally conceded that the section under consideration was originally designed to apply to impostors, and the section following to persons under ecclesiastical discipline. The title of the Canon, "Of persons not ministers officiating," confirms this interpretation. The Canons elsewhere call clergymen of other churches--non-Episcopal as well as those ordained by bishops--"ministers." As this Canon applies to those who are not ministers, it very properly forbids, not ministers, but "persons" falsely claiming to be ministers of this Church, officiating in any congregation of the same.
Again, it has never been considered unlawful for a layman to read the service and a sermon in any of these congregations. Is this "officiating or executing ministerial functions in this Church"? Obviously not in the sense prohibited by the Canon and the Ordinal. The idea prevails that this is only lawful when the lay reader has obtained a license to do so from the Bishop, or, where there is no Bishop, from the standing committee of the Diocese. This, however, applies only to candidates for orders, who, as semi-ecclesiastics, are subject to episcopal supervision and canonical rule. Nearly thirty years ago, under an erroneous impression in regard to the law, I applied to Bishop H. U. Onderdonk, of Pennsylvania, for a license to act as lay-reader in a vacant parish in that diocese. His reply was: "You are not a candidate for orders; I have no authority to grant your request. You are at perfect liberty to read the service in any congregation where you have the opportunity, and also such sermons as you choose." I did as he suggested for some time, to regular congregations of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in duly consecrated edifices, both in that diocese and in New-Jersey. I was not a "minister." [23/24] I was not even a candidate for orders, acting under a bishop's license. I was simply a "person," who, by the canon, is forbidden to "officiate." I was not sure that Bishop Doane knew what I had done until, months afterward, he thanked me for the service I had in this way rendered to a parish not three miles from his own residence. I did what is often done. Did I "officiate in any congregation of this Church"? Did one of these Bishops direct me to break the law, and the other thank me for doing it? The truth is, the Canon was not originally intended to apply to ministers, and if it now does, according to a large historical interpretation, it does not regard the reading of the service and a sermon, in an exceptional case, as "officiating." "To officiate in any congregation," in the sense prohibited, the person must assume to act as a minister of this Church, or perform acts which would naturally imply that he sustained that relation. May not a non-Episcopal minister do that which it is lawful for a layman to do? Where is the law that forbids it, or hints at such a prohibition? Even this, however, in deference, not to canonical prohibition, but to the opposing views and tastes of individuals, seems to have been avoided; for no charge of such conduct is made in the Letter. The acts complained of as a violation of this Canon are, loaning our churches to associations, or for the use of promiscuous congregations, and "uniting with the ministers of other bodies in the services." This is alleged to be "a gross innovation, and a flagrant violation of the spirit and intent of our law, and of the principles of our Church, as interpreted by the general practice and the unvarying judgment of the great body of our divines, both English and. American." If the Bishop had written, "A violation of the spirit and intent of the Laudean and Hobart party, and of the principles of this school, as interpreted by their practice in England and America," no objection could reasonably have been made to the statement; but, as it stands, it certainly does not appear to be sustained, either by our standards of doctrine or discipline, or by the history of our Church in this country, or by the practice or views of the divines of the Church of England. My own observations, which extend over nearly half a century, and to various sections of the country, and my information from the former generation, as well as from authentic sources of history, lead my mind to a different conclusion. I cannot, of course, know the full extent of his ignorance in regard to facts in my possession; but they certainly do not warrant the language which the Bishop here employs as to "the unvarying [24/25] judgment of the great body of our divines, both English and American."
The " irregularities," so called, condemned by the Pastoral thus far, are not declared to be a violation of the letter, but of the spirit and intent of the law and principles of our Church. I have proved, I trust, that while the acts complained of are in full harmony with our doctrines and principles, they are not inconsistent with the spirit of our law, which cannot be supposed to conflict with our doctrines and principles, and would not be binding if it did. I need not waste words on the last proposition. The Letter has, however, a charge of a more serious and aggravated nature, inasmuch as it is alleged to be a plain violation of the letter as well as the spirit of the law. After quoting the Canon entitled, "Of persons not ministers officiating," it proceeds:
"Having thus provided that none but episcopally ordained clergymen shall minister" (the Canon says "officiate") "in any of her congregations, this Church next prescribes, with the utmost care and precision, the form of worship to which they are to conform.
"In her Twentieth Canon, (Title I.,) she ordains: 'That every minister shall, before all sermons and lectures, and on all other occasions of public worship, use the Book of Common Prayer, as the same is or may be established by the authority of the General Convention of this Church; and in performing such service no other prayers shall be used than those prescribed by the said Book.'"
If the foregoing had not been written under the influence of preconceived views, the pen could hardly have been restrained from adding, at the conclusion of the first paragraph, after "conform"--when officiating in said congregations. It would never have occurred to me that the writer did not mean to imply this, if I had not read in another part of the Letter the following facts set forth as a violation of this Canon: "Ministers of this Church went to non-Episcopal places of worship and preached, without the due performance of the devotional service enjoined by the law of the Church." This puts a new aspect upon the charge. The Canon has a broad application, while its spirit is narrow. Though I had heard it occasionally from ill-informed non-Episcopalians before, as a proof of our illiberality--to which I uniformly replied that such a notion was a proof of their ignorance and prejudice--it is the first time I ever heard this construction from a minister of our Church. The observation and knowledge of the [25/26] Bishop can hardly be so limited as to have concealed from him the fact, that a usage, by no means limited, has, with obvious propriety and naturalness, interpreted this Canon as applying to the worship which our Church provides and secures to her own congregations, and as a law to her ministers in conducting that worship; but not as assuming to legislate for non-Episcopal bodies in this matter, nor as designed to forbid her ministers to preach, except to such congregations as will adopt and can use this prescribed service to edification.
According to this view, ministers have felt at liberty to consult their taste and be governed by their views of expediency as to the use of the Prayer-Book, when officiating "in any congregation" not "of this Church." Such conduct has never been declared a violation of the Canon by any proper authority. The Bishop admits this, but argues that because it has not been arraigned and censured, we are not to infer that it has "obtained authoritative recognition in the (this?) Church." It would be well to remember that general usage makes common law, and that if this does not amount to an "authoritative recognition," it is a practice which is so general and of such long duration that it may, at least, be regarded as lawful, until it has obtained an "authoritative" condemnation.
We have, however, one case which may properly claim to be authoritative in regard to the construction of this Canon. A few months since, a specific charge was formally made against the Rev. Dr. Cracraft, of Ohio, upon which he was canonically "presented" to the Standing Committee of that Diocese for examination and trial in these words: "Preaching in a Congregational church, without using the Prayer-Book or vestment."
For the credit of our Church, it ought to be stated in this connection that, although the practice which is here charged as an offence, punishable by law, is quite common, this is believed to be the only instance in which a man has been canonically arraigned for the act; and also that, in this case, the accusation seems to have been made more for the purpose of annoying and persecuting the accused person than with any idea of proving him to be guilty of a legal offence. The charge was confessed in full, without any apology or explanation.
The official record of the Court is: "Not considered a ground of presentment." There is no appeal from this decision. This is a judicial interpretation of the meaning of the Canon, and a judicial promulgation of that decision in Ohio. The same Canon [26/27] is equally the law in New-York and all over the United States. Can it have various significations--meanings that shall be not only diverse but antagonistic? Can a general law condemn and punish in one diocese what it allows in another? There is no danger of this in regard to the rule before us. This "authoritative recognition" of an Episcopal minister's right to preach the Gospel, even to those who do not, or cannot, or will not use the Prayer-Book, occurred some six months since. In justice to Bishop Potter, it ought to be known, however, that the decision was not made public until after his Pastoral Letter was printed. The explanation of the unique Russo-Greek performance at Trinity Chapel, and the principles which that explanation involves, as well as several other particulars presented in this Letter, are marked for a notice; but as it is not my design to review the Pastoral further than it seems necessary to defend our beloved and venerable Church against its strange and injurious assumptions, and as this reply has already been extended much beyond my original design, they may pass.
I cannot conclude, however, without a brief reference to one feature of this party view, which I am forced to regard as unphilosophical, unscriptural, and, in a high degree, at variance with the genius of the Gospel. It is that notion which makes a particular outward form of Church government, and a particular mode of transmitting the ministry, of more importance than "the faith," the casket more valuable than the jewel it was made to preserve, and that spirit which, to the great injury of our Church, sets this unscriptural dogma before the world as her doctrine.
"Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis
The Word of God guards the essentials of the faith with a watchful jealousy which it evinces in nothing else. Each member of the Church is to "examine himself continually, whether he be in the faith," and all are to "contend earnestly, striving together for the faith of the Gospel." The chief requirement in regard to the ministry is, that it should be committed to men who are "sound in the faith." The ministry, the sacraments, the visible Church, would have neither meaning nor value without the faith. The supremacy of the faith over all outward things, is seen in all those passages in the New Testament, which describe or define a local Church. (1 Cor. 1 : 3, et passim.) Ministers of envy and strife preached Christ of contention, for the express purpose of [27/28] adding affliction to the Apostle's bonds, thus most wickedly and grossly violating all outward order, and yet he rejoices that Christ is preached. Some openly denied his ministerial authority and claims; but though they rejected the servant, they acknowledged the Master, and in this recognition he found a bond of union which no outward circumstances could sever.
The gracious benedictions of the apostles, spurning all outward distinctions, at a time when parties and distractions were rife, were: "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." Their sentence of excommunication is of the same tenor: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema." The early Christians were to judge the claims of the ministry by their "soundness in the faith," while they were expressly forbidden to receive or welcome any "who preached strange doctrine," whatever outward commission he might bear. Even the great chosen Apostle to the Gentiles writes: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed." This is no mere extravagance of language. It is so essential and vital, that he emphasizes it by repeating it immediately, in nearly the identical words. In the Epistles to the Seven Churches they are commended or blamed, not for preserving or neglecting outward order, but for maintaining or neglecting the faith. This is the spirit of the New Testament. Need we wonder at its denunciation of that Diotrephian spirit "which loves to have the preeminence, neither doth it itself, receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the Church."
The manner in which the positions of the Letter are laid down, is also worthy of notice. It seems to be indigenous with a certain school of theology. The autobiography of the late Professor Turner is replete with valuable facts and instruction on this particular point.
On page 97, referring to his sermon preached on the occasion of opening the Theological Seminary at New-Haven, he says: "Bishop Hobart, like all Churchmen of similar views with whom I have ever happened to converse on the subject, assumed that, if episcopacy was of divine origin, it must necessarily be permanent; whereas, this is the very point to be proved. The same principle, assumed by Cartwright and other Puritans, is examined and refuted by Hooker." Again on pp. 210-211, alluding to the Oxford Tracts, and to "the cant in common use among a certain class of persons," he says: "Thus, as has always been the case in such [28/29] controversy, the thing to be proved was taken for granted." This, as well as the true spirit of this party, are strikingly exhibited in the seventh chapter of the Memoir, which contains the history of the famous pastoral letter from Bishop Hobart, issued in 1829, and of the controversy it provoked. The same mode of conducting a controversy, and the same spirit, have come down to our times, and are abundantly illustrated in the late Pastoral Letter of our Diocesan. It is perhaps natural that a narrow and exclusive spirit should be sustained and encouraged by assumptions, as there is nothing else to support "the mere promptings of sentiment and self-will." In the letter before us, without any legal inquiry, certain facts are assumed: not only without, but against proof, it is assumed that our worship and discipline teach certain exclusive principles; in the face of an opposite historical interpretation, it is assumed, that one man's private opinions of the meaning of the Canons, is the law of our Church, although it opposes and defies all usage, and even judicial decisions. It assumes what has been "the practice of the great body of bishops, clergy, and people;" and then, upon this, bases the further assumption, that their neglect or refusal to exercise their lawful liberty, legally restrains others from transcending their unbecoming example; it assumes that conduct, which well-known, honorable, intelligent, and conscientious men honestly regard as strictly within the line of their canonical privileges, and even enjoined by their responsibility to God, is "trifling with the truth of God," "a violation of obligations solemnly assumed and of engagements generally deemed sacred." On these and other assumptions, charges are made against a large number, not a "few," of the clergy, of the gravest character; charges of which it has been well said: "I do not see how, in respectful terms, you could intensify their solemnity." All this "severity of judgment" is pronounced, without the palliating hint or admission; that the accused suppose or pretend that their acts are justified by the principles, the law, and the practice of their Church. It assumes their deliberate and conscious criminality, and charges these crimes to "the mere promptings of sentiment and self-will, which disregard the paramount obligations of obedience." Far be it from me to reply to these "railing accusations" with a reviling spirit. I would fain have covered them with the mantle of oblivion; but the honor and the moral character of a large number of his clergy are publicly assailed by their Diocesan, and the doctrines and principles of their Church, as they believe, are misrepresented in connection with [29/30] this as ault. Self-respect and fidelity to their principles and vows forbid them to be silent. If there had been nothing but a sense of personal injustice to be borne, they might have consented without a word, to allow the congregations they serve, and the community in which they are known, to decide upon the propriety of these imputations. If the difference had been a mere matter of opinion as to the construction of our Canon law, it could easily have been adjusted, without opening the fountains whence flow the bitter waters of strife. But the Pastoral Letter goes beyond this. It assails personal character, and in order to do this, it repudiates some of the very principles on which the Reformation hinged. The first is obvious on the face of the Letter; the second is equally plain to any historical student. In brief it amounts to the following summary:
These "considerations touching the law of the Church" are sent to all the clergy, though "but few" need them, because the author "fears" these few have broken the law and disturbed "the peace and good order of the Church;" because he has frequently been urged to interpose, and especially because he hopes in this way to change the minds and conduct of his clergy, who are virtually charged with being lawless, disorderly, and seditious--whom, however, he has always treated with kindness, and never interfered with before. The solemn obligations and vows assumed, and professions and promises made, in connection with the ordination of these gross offenders, are offensively set forth, as if they were forgotten or unheeded; and then, purporting to appeal to the standards of our Church for her doctrines, discipline, and worship, the creeds and the articles which formally teach her doctrines on the particular question which underlies and is the sole foundation of the Letter, are entirely ignored, and principles are sought to be derived from our standards of discipline by a construction which is unnecessary, unnatural, and illogical; principles which are inconsistent with our technically expressed doctrine, and with the well-known views and practice of this and the Mother Church for three hundred years; and this is done, for the purpose of confirming a party scheme of doctrine and discipline which this Church has never received, and under threats of pains and penalties enforcing their outward acknowledgment upon the Church over which the author presides.
A few years since the late Archbishop of Canterbury was rudely assailed by the Tractarian party, for his emphatic repudiation of the exclusive theory of this Pastoral Letter. The controversy [30/31] that followed, proved that the exclusive party were few in numbers, and ignorant of the facts which candid minds confessed settled the question in favor of the Primate. Some of this class, among whom was the Chaplain to the famous Bishop of Exeter, discovering that the so-called "Church principles" which they had been taught were not held by the Church of England, seceded to Rome, honestly declaring that the facts and the argument were against the Tractarian party. Many, however, refused to see the facts, or to follow them to their logical conclusions.
The language then employed by a learned divine, in regard to these circumstances, is not altogether inappropriate to the present controversy:
"Under the thin veil of high sounding phrases--'the Church,' 'Catholic consent,' and such like, the Romish dreams of hotheaded or prejudiced, and often very ill-informed individuals, are urged upon the public as indubitable verities, which it were a sin to suppose that our Church does not hold, and by which all who differ from them, from the highest to the lowest, are to be judged. We say deliberately, even as to the heads of the party, very ill-informed individuals; and on this ground, that whatever may be their learning in other respects, (and it is too often to be seen principally in the trifles of the Church ceremonial,) they seem rather to avoid than examine those sources of information which best show what the doctrine of our Church really is, as was abundantly proved in the Gorham case; and palm upon our Church views and doctrines which they have gathered by their private judgment from antiquity. We deeply regret that our Church should be continually suffering from these internal dissensions; but we fear that, if she is still to remain a witness for Protestant truth, a conflict awaits her, both from internal and external foes, more severe than any she has yet encountered. Would that we could see a more lively consciousness of this coming struggle manifested among those, lay and clerical, who, under God, must be the instruments for her preservation. Few, however, seem to realize the true character of the present times."
I have endeavored to vindicate my Church and many of my brethren from the charges of the Pastoral Letter. So far as I could do so consistently with this end in view, I have sought to divest the discussion of its personal relations, and regard the questions before us abstractly, and on their own merits. If I have betrayed any apparent want of proper respect and regard for my venerable Diocesan in this paper, it has not been by wilful design. [31/32] Nothing short of the most solemn and imperative sense of duty could have induced me to take up my pen in controversy with my canonical superior, whose official and personal relations to me have uniformly been characterized by the most paternal kindness and by many tokens of confidence and affectionate regard.
I am sure he would not willingly teach what he knew to be error, and that he has no love of domination for its own sake. I have no doubt that he is as honest in the views which he holds as I am in mine. In the language of Chillingworth: "I will take no man's liberty of judgment from him; neither shall any man take mine from me. I will think no man the worse man, nor the worse Christian, I will love no man the less, for differing in opinion from me. And what measure I mete to others I expect from them again." But I shall never willingly surrender my Christian liberty and my lawful rights, that an individual may convert a comprehensive and Catholic Church into an engine for enforcing his private opinions, or the views of any party.
I yield to no man in sincere and affectionate regard for 'the Church of my inheritance and my honest choice. She is preëminently fitted for any service. I have an abiding confidence in the success of her exalted mission. I could be satisfied nowhere else. She is richly freighted with scriptural truth, and, as I believe, governed according to Apostolic order. It is because I love her scriptural order, her comprehensive and catholic spirit, her liberal policy, her inimitable worship, consecrated by the use of piety for centuries, and above all, her soundness in the faith, that I have here undertaken to defend her from what I believe to be some of the most unjust and injurious charges that could be preferred against any Christian body. In addition to the foregoing objections to the Pastoral Letter, I regret and lament its publication for the following reasons:
It encourages busy-bodies to meddle with matters beyond their province.
It awakens discord and bitter feelings among brethren.
It feeds party spirit and party animosities.
It is needlessly offensive to a great majority of our fellow Christians in this country.
It is calculated to repel from us the sympathies of Protestant Christendom.
It violates "the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
It fosters dissension in parishes.
It encourages infidelity. [32/33]
It diverts the minds and the activities of the sacred ministry from their great work of preaching the Gospel and edifying the Church, to that of self-defence on the one hand and of party persecutions on the other.
It withdraws the minds of Christians from their spiritual life, and fixes them on outward forms.
It weakens the influence, both within and without our fold, and to that extent diminishes the opportunity for usefulness, of our Diocesan.
It repels from our body the earnest Christian men and women who are much needed among us, and from our ministry many of those who are burning and shining lights in other communions.
It makes us contemptible in the eyes of the world.
It confirms our non-Episcopal brethren in their inherited and cherished prejudices against us, and in their misconceptions of our doctrines and principles.
It represents our Church, which more than any other has a claim to be called the Church, as narrower than any of the sects around us.
It is going backward, instead of forward with the spirit of the age.