RIGHT REV. AND DEAR BISHOP:--In the Pastoral Letter recently addressed by you to the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York, you sum up the irregularities of which you complain under two heads. The first of these is thus stated: "Ministers of this Church are understood to have united with ministers of non-episcopal bodies in holding services in churches in this Diocese." I am conscious that I am one of a number of clergymen of whom this statement is true; and I understand, moreover, from your own declaration to me, that an act of this kind, which I have performed, in my own church, is regarded by you as a violation of ecclesiastical law. I avail myself, therefore, of the earliest opportunity, and in the only way which now seems open to me, to explain the true character and vindicate the lawfulness of the act to which I have referred. As the question at issue is one merely of interpretation of Church law, and as I do not understand you as intimating that I have consciously violated any rule or principle of the Church, I have no personal feeling whatever about it. I believe that the Pastoral was written under an imperative sense of duty. I believe, too, that the course which you have pursued has been dictated by kindness (though I consider it a mistaken kindness) towards those whose acts have been the subject of complaint, and in order to shield them from the ecclesiastical proceedings which were threatened. The present aspect of our relations, therefore, [3/4] disturbs, in no degree, the feelings which it has been my privilege to entertain towards you, and I do not intend that any word or act of mine shall diminish the kindly sentiments which you have been pleased to cherish towards me. So far from regretting the shape which this matter has assumed, I rejoice that the question has come up in a form which will lead to its thorough discussion and settlement.
My claim is, as you would naturally suppose, that I have done nothing, in my official capacity, which is contrary either to the letter or the spirit of our ecclesiastical law, and have acted only in accordance with principles which have either been recognized as legitimate, or have controlled the sentiment and action of the Church. The question is simply as to what the principles and laws of the Church really are; and to decide that point and pass judgment upon it, before adjudication upon the facts, and the verdict of a legal tribunal, is, it seems to me, to assume the very things in dispute, and beg the very question at issue. I shall endeavor to state my view of the principles and laws of our Church as bearing upon the act which I have performed. In doing this I shall suggest many considerations which are perfectly familiar to your mind, and I may perhaps, in other respects, seem to depart from what might be deemed strictly suitable in a letter to my Bishop. I beg to assure you, therefore, that it arises simply from the fact that this letter is designed as a vindication of my position to others as well as yourself.
Suffer me, in the first place, to state the circumstances under which the act in question was performed.
On the evening of Easter Sunday, after the due celebration of Divine service during the day, morning and afternoon, the Rev. Dr. William Adams, a distinguished Presbyterian divine, in compliance with an earnest invitation from me, preached in my church to a large and promiscuous congregation, assembled by public and general notice. I placed the entire services of the evening at his disposal, and in accordance with his wish the service was read by the Rev. Drs. Muhlenberg and Dyer, of the Episcopal Church. It is but justice to Dr. Adams to [4/5] say, that he had no claims to urge in this matter, but at the same time complied most courteously with my request. After the sermon I stated to the congregation that the service was intended as a testimony of fellowship with all believers in the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection of our Lord. On the morning of the same day I stated to my own people that, in my judgment, there were very peculiar and unusual circumstances which rendered such a special service desirable, that I had therefore requested that it might be held, and had offered my own church for the purpose.
I have no apology to make for this service, and shall resort to no mere technicalities in its defence, but shall rest it upon what I hold to be, in the light of history and common sense, a fair and candid interpretation of the law and standards of our Church.
As this discussion involves the question of the Episcopal Constitution of our Church, it is not right that I should labor under any disadvantage arising from a suspicion that I do not heartily approve of that Constitution. I hold it to be essential to the well-being of the Church. I have no expectation that there will ever be any real or structural union in the Church of Christ, except upon the basis of Apostolic Episcopacy. So far from sympathizing with denominationalism and the sect-spirit among Christians, I have always contended against them, and striven especially that our Church should not descend from her catholic position to that of a denomination or sect. But for the very reason that I do hold this, I would take exactly the stand which, in my opinion, our Church has taken, recognizing the present abnormal state of Christendom, admitting that the various evangelical denominations have the essential characteristics of the Church and the ministry, and thus disarm them of those prejudices which arise from the exclusive theory and position. I have perfect confidence in what I understand to be the system of our Church. The more our services are seen, side by side with other services, the better it will be for us. But if, instead of leaving the Church to speak for herself, we hedge her around with walls of exclusiveness, [5/6] and trammel liberty of action, and proscribe freedom of opinion, we shall be left far behind in the world's great progress, and become a laughing-stock among Christian people.
Claiming then, as I do, to approve, as strongly as yourself, of the principles and laws of the Church, to be as satisfied as yourself with her constitution and usages, to feel as entire confidence as you do in her system, and to be as willing as you are to be bound by her authority, it devolves upon me to justify the act which I have performed.
Let me, then, in the first place, refer to the several principles and laws of the Church, which you have adduced as bearing upon this case. In the Ordination Service those who are to be ordained "solemnly engage to conform to the doctrines and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States." Besides this, in the same service the same persons promise to give "faithful diligence, always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments and discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same."
There is certainly here no point in question. Have I ever denied that I am bound to conform to the doctrines and worship of this Church? or have I ever failed to "minister the doctrine and sacraments and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded and as this Church," according to accepted systems of interpretation, "hath received the same"? I cannot but feel that it would be better to omit these considerations in dealing with men who are above the suspicion of trifling with their ordination vows.
But let us see what are the "doctrines, discipline, and worship of this Church," so far as they have any bearing upon the present case.
In Canon 1 it is enacted that "IN THIS CHURCH there shall always be three orders in the ministry, viz., Bishops, Priests, and Deacons." In the sixth section of Canon 5, Title I., as compared with Canon 10, Title I., we have the law of the Church discriminating between those who have been acknowledged as ordained ministers in any other denomination of Christians, and those who have been ordained by a Bishop not [6/7] in communion with this Church. Of the former she requires, before they can become ministers of this Church, that they shall be admitted to deacon's orders, at the expiration of not less than six months, and after the examinations in such case provided. The latter may be admitted as deacons or priests in this Church, after due inquiry and examination, a probation of six months, and a declaration of conformity, without reordination. From all which it appears that no one can become a minister of THIS CHURCH without episcopal ordination. A clear distinction is made between ministers of other Churches who have, and those who have not been episcopally ordained, but the distinction relates only to the method by which they shall enter our ministry. It manifestly does not touch the question whether services can ever be lawfully held in our places of worship by those who are not ministers of this Church.
But we come now to laws which stand in closer relation to the present case.
In the Preface to the Ordinal it is said,--"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 there-unto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had episcopal ordination or consecration." In Canon 11, Title I., it is enacted that "no person shall be permitted to officiate in ANY CONGREGATION OF THIS CHURCH without first producing the evidence of his being a minister thereof."
It has always been my view that the general law of the Church, and this Canon in particular, do not prohibit the holding of special services in our churches, by those who are not ministers of this Church. Knowing, however, that there is a different interpretation of the law prevalent in this Diocese, and unwilling even to seem to do anything in its violation, I have avoided acting upon my own view of its meaning. Your own position and course, my dear Bishop, placed the matter in a different light before me, and led me to pursue a different course of action. I hailed the first indication of the liberal [7/8] and comprehensive construction of the law of the Church, which you seemed to have adopted, with delight, admiration, and gratitude. The usual course of things, in this Diocese, was first interrupted by your sanction of the preaching of the Rev. Dr. Schaff, a German Reformed divine, in the Church of the Holy Communion. Then a German Lutheran, as I have understood, preached with the same sanction in the same place. Some time after this an invitation was extended by you, as has been publicly stated, to all the priests who accompanied the Russian expedition, to officiate in any of the churches of your Diocese. This was followed by your sanction, in a letter published in the secular and religious papers, of the officiating of a person purporting to be a priest of the Russo-Greek, or of some Oriental Church, in Trinity Chapel of this city. Few facts in the history of the Church, in my brief experience, have given me more joy than these. I regarded them as high authority for my own views. I felt that the time had come when by outward act we could testify our fellowship with those who, outside of our own fold, are the disciples and ministers of Jesus. All the arrangements were made for such a testimony, when I heard, to my great disappointment, that you had recalled your course so far as non-episcopal divines were concerned, and were determined that they should not henceforth be admitted into our places of worship. I called upon you, learned that you could not consent to my proposed arrangement, but that you would interpose no episcopal prohibition. You said nothing which altered my view of the law of the Church, and I went away to carry into effect the arrangement which I had already made, and in the manner which I have already described.
In view of all the circumstances of the case, am I not warranted in taking exception, with all respect, to the course which you have pursued? For, see what it involves. I find you practically carrying out some of my own cherished principles and ideas, and this not only once, but again and again. I find the example which you have set followed repeatedly by others. I avail myself of it to show my fellowship with those, [8/9] outside of our fold, who are working in the cause of our Master. I learn the change in your own position when it is too late, even if I had been disposed, to recall what I had designed to do, and with your assurance that you interposed no episcopal prohibition, I carry out the plan contemplated; and ere long I find myself and others, who have only followed your own guidance and example, virtually held up before the Church as violators of its law and as faithless to our ordination vows.
But this has a bearing only upon the course which you have pursued: it does not meet the allegation that the act complained of is a violation of the law of the Church. That is the point which is now to be considered. The question is, whether the Preface to the Ordinal and Canon 11, Title I., (for these are the only laws which you adduce, except those to which I have already referred,) prohibit the holding of services in our churches, under any circumstances, by those who are not ministers of this Church, or in case such services may lawfully be held, the participating of our clergy in them.
Take first the Preface to the Ordinal. This Preface stands now substantially as it has stood ever since the Reformation. Some changes of expression were introduced into it in 1661, but in its actual requirements it has remained unaltered. A new and exclusive interpretation began to be put upon it at that time by the followers of Archbishop Laud; and this interpretation is the one which we are required to accept, instead of that of the Reformers, by whom the Preface itself was composed. Now I am not willing, for one, to accept any interpretation of this Preface which brings it nearer than its plain, grammatical sense requires, to the spirit and theory of Archbishop Laud. A man who, notwithstanding his admitted piety and devotion, could contemplate the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope by the Church of England, who actually hesitated whether he should accept a cardinal's hat from Rome, and who was executed as a traitor to the liberties of his country, is not the man, in my opinion, whose principles are to determine the interpretation of the standards of our Church.
History shows us, conclusively, the interpretation which was [9/10] put upon the Preface to the Ordinal during the century that succeeded the Reformation. There was no exclusion of ministers from officiating in churches because they were not episcopally ordained. The ministers of the Scotch Church, and of the Protestant churches on the Continent, were expressly recognized. Practices involving this recognition were indeed suppressed by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, but the Act of Uniformity, I need not remind you, is not in force in the United States. (Note A.)
There are abundant facts, also, to show that no such exclusive interpretation is authoritatively put upon the Preface to the Ordinal in England at the present day. It is true that, by act of Parliament, dissenting ministers are disqualified from officiating in the churches of the Establishment; just as in Scotland, by the same authority, episcopal ministers are disqualified from officiating in the Kirk. It is, therefore, not a question of episcopacy or non-episcopacy. It is a law of the State, and not the Preface to the Ordinal, which prevents the dissenting clergy from officiating in the Church of England. That this is so, is shown still further by the fact that there is no such exclusion, practically, in the case of foreign non-episcopal divines. In a recent speech by the Bishop of London, he tells us that there is a monthly Presbyterian service held in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, and that in the Chapel of St. James there is a German pastor, (non-episcopal, of course,) although the dean of the chapel is a Bishop. In the bill for the union of benefices in the city of London, the Bishop inserted a clause which reserves to the Diocesan the power to grant the use of any churches which might remain standing, under the operation of the act, to any denomination of foreign Protestants who might apply for it. In Bishop Gobat's Cathedral at Jerusalem, the Prussian Legation regularly enjoys the privilege of its own worship. And at the time of the Great Exhibition numbers of foreign non-episcopal clergymen officiated in the churches of the Establishment. The objections which have been urged against these proceedings have not been thought of sufficient importance to be regarded.
 It is therefore manifestly not a question in England of episcopacy and non-episcopacy merely. The same power which admits foreign non-episcopal ministers to hold occasional services would exclude the ministers even of any other episcopal Church, if it should establish itself in Great Britain. It is simply a question between the Establishment and dissent, and nothing could be more absurd than for us, in this country, to imitate the exclusiveness which grows out of the civil relations of the Church of England. It is impossible to arrive at any true conception of this subject without taking into account the Erastian views which, from the time of Cranmer, have prevailed to a greater or less degree in that Church. The majority of Englishmen regard dissent as culpable, not so much because it is separation from the episcopal constitution of the Church as because it rejects the ecclesiastical system established by the State. And this accounts for the entire difference in the relations of the Church of England with non-episcopal Churches at home and non-episcopal Churches abroad. And the point to be noticed here is, that these relations with the foreign non-episcopal Churches and the admission of their services into the churches of the Establishment, although exceptional in their character, show conclusively that the opinion that the Preface to the Ordinal has no reference to such special services, is, to say the least, an allowable opinion in the Church of England.
The practice of holding meetings and services of various kinds in our churches, in which non-episcopal ministers have participated,--to say nothing of the innumerable cases in which they have had for the time the entire control of the service and the building,--has prevailed to so great an extent in this country, that I had supposed it was a recognized liberty in the Church. [* Dr. Tyng's Reply to the Pastoral furnishes most conclusive evidence of the exercise of this liberty, and the recognition of it, by the most eminent Bishops and clergymen of our Church.] Especially as the House of Bishops has officially declared its opinion that such a use of our churches, under certain circumstances, is lawful, [* "It does not prohibitthe lending of any church to any respectable congregation upon any occasion of emergency."--Journal House of Bishops, 1820, p. 58.] and no ecclesiastical [11/12] proceedings have ever been instituted against any one for acting in this matter according to that opinion, I had come to regard it as settled that the Preface to the Ordinal was not to be urged against such a practice here, any more than in England; and that its plain, unmistakable meaning is simply this, that no man shall assume the character of a bishop, priest, or deacon in this Church, and, in that character execute any of the "said functions," unless he has had episcopal ordination or consecration. The history of the Ordinal, the view which has been held of it, the practice under it, and the opinion of the House of Bishops, all combine to establish the point for which I am contending, that it does not bear upon such a case as the one in question.
The only law to which you refer, which now remains to be considered, is Canon 11, Title I. It has already been given. Literally understood, it prohibits any person from officiating in ANY CONGREGATION of this Church, unless he shall first produce evidence that he is a minister thereof. Suffer me here respectfully to remark upon a variation between the language in which you state the alleged irregularity and the language of this Canon, which it is supposed to violate. You speak of "non-episcopal ministers," as if they were the only ones who are excluded from ministering in our congregations. Now the Canon, in the sense in which it excludes any, excludes all who are not ministers of this Church, even if they have been episcopally ordained. Just so far as it excludes Presbyterians or Methodists, it excludes priests of the Roman and Greek communions, and also the clergy of the Church of England until they have complied with certain canonical requisitions; in short, it excludes all persons, clerical, or lay, without exception, who are not ministers of this Church, from officiating in any congregation of this Church. It is sometimes urged, by those who advocate a liberal construction of this Canon, that "officiating" here does not refer to an occasional act, but to a permanent performance of ministerial functions; but this does not seem to me to be so, for the Canon evidently contemplates the case of a congregation where there is a settled minister, and where any one whom it is proposed to have officiate, for the time being, of course, must first produce evidence that he is a minister of this Church. Lay readers (except in the case of candidates for orders, licensed by the Bishop) can be relieved from the operation of this Canon, only on the ground that reading the service or a sermon in public is not "officiating." The history of the Canon shows indeed that it was originally designed to protect our congregations from impostors, pretending to be ministers of this Church, and that there was no intention to make it exclusive in the sense now attributed to it. It read originally "no strangers," and it required that cases of clerical imposture should be published. It was changed from "strangers" to "persons," to meet the case of those who had been displaced from the ministry, but still claimed to be "ministers of this Church." This, together with the wording of the Canon, requiring, as it does, the producing of evidence, shows that it is designed wholly for those who falsely pretend to be ministers of this Church. But although this is so, and ought to be distinctly understood for the credit of our Church, I am willing to accept the most literal interpretation of the Canon. I hold it accordingly to be my duty, on the Lord's Day, to furnish to my people all the services which the Church has provided for that purpose, and the ministrations in the pulpit of those who are appointed to minister in this Church. But beyond this, to congregations gathered from our own parishes or those of the various Christian communions, I have the right, it seems clear to me, to furnish in my church whatever ministrations I may select, and for whatever purposes I may think proper, with nothing but my own sense of propriety and duty, and the necessary influence of public opinion, to qualify my perfect liberty of action. The Canon only imposes its requisitions upon me in relation to a regularly constituted "congregation of this Church."
This view of the Canon, one would suppose, might satisfy all concerned. It corresponds literally to the language of the Canon. It secures to our congregations, in full measure, the services and ministrations of our Church, and having done this, [13/14] it leaves us free to unite in general and promiscuous assemblies with the clergy of other Churches, in testimony of our fellowship, or in the interest of some great cause of Christian benevolence, or for any other purpose which, in a discreet use of our liberty, may be thought desirable.
I wish now to say that the congregation to which Dr. Adams preached, on the occasion we are considering, was not in any sense the congregation of the Ascension. The regular services for the day had been held. The public were invited through the newspapers to be present in the church in the evening. This was done not to evade the law, but to comply with it honestly and fully, both in the letter and the spirit. Since the Canon expressly limits its prohibition to a congregation of this Church, where is the prohibition in regard to a congregation not of this Church?
I am entitled, of course, to avail myself of the opinion of the House of Bishops, already referred to, as to the use of churches by "respectable congregations" on "any occasion of emergency." But this opinion is not needed for a case so clear as this; for manifestly, if it is not a "congregation of this Church," no matter whether it is a "respectable congregation" or not, or whether it is "any occasion of emergency" or not, it is not touched at all by the Canon, and the course of the minister is unfettered by any restriction.
It has been objected by some, that such a service does not, after all, answer the purpose of a testimony of fellowship, since it is not in a regular congregation of this Church. I confess that it is not all in this respect which I could desire. But at the same time I think it better, in this as in all matters, to go no further than the letter of the law will allow. Such a service at least subserves this most important purpose,--it shows that our Church is no more exclusive in this respect in regard to non-episcopal ministers, than to episcopal ministers not of our Church. And, at all events, it is at least as satisfactory, as a testimony, as the Greek service in Trinity Chapel, which has your sanction, as a testimony of fellowship with the Russo-Greek Church.
 Some, however, may claim that the admission of a non-episcopal divine into one of our churches might be lawful, under certain circumstances, but that it is rendered unlawful if any of the clergy of this Church participate in the services. But if non-episcopal ministers can be admitted into our churches at all, where is the law which forbids our clergy from performing any service which would be proper under other circumstances? If it is lawful for me to grant the use of my church for a special service, and invite Dr. Adams to preach, just as the Rector of Trinity, with your sanction, granted the use of Trinity Chapel, and invited an Oriental priest to officiate; what law is there to restrain me from being present and performing any service, as a clergyman of the Church, just as a number of our clergy were present in their official capacity at the celebration of the Greek service, and participated in it? Is it the mere uniting with non-episcopal clergymen that is condemned? But I suppose no one will deny that I might lawfully have Dr. Adams read service for me, and then preach myself. No law is violated, although here is a decided union of services. What law was violated by the two clergymen who read service in my church when Dr. Adams preached? and if they violated no law, how can their act, in uniting in the service, render my act, in granting the use of my church for the purpose, unlawful?
Suffer me to say a word in regard to the expediency of such a service at that time, or, if the opinion of the House of Bishops is thought to be important in this connection, the "emergency" under which I acted. This I shall do with the utmost frankness, only premising that since no one else is appointed to judge of the "emergency," it must be done by the minister in charge. The "emergency" did not arise from the want of places of worship on the part of the people there assembled. The preacher, on that occasion, has one of the most capacious and splendid churches in the city. But there are such timings as moral emergencies, and in my opinion such an emergency existed at that time. The service of the Russo-Greek Church had just been performed in Trinity Chapel, and repeated in St. John's Chapel. The emergency which justified it was [15/16] not the want of room for the few adherents of the Oriental Churches in this city. They had sufficiently large and convenient accommodations afforded them by the generosity of Trinity Church in the school-room of St. John's Chapel. The emergency consisted in the opportunity of extending an act of courtesy to the Church of the Russian empire. The feeling which prompted the act was admirable. The act itself, in my view, was perfectly lawful. (Note B.) But this act standing alone presented our Church in this community in a false light. It naturally made the impression that the Church has drawn a distinction in regard to such special services, just where she has carefully avoided doing so, that is, between non-episcopal ministers and episcopal ministers not of this Church. It warranted the inference that the Protestant Episcopal Church is more closely affiliated with the Churches of the East than with the non-episcopal Churches of evangelic faith, here at home. This inference, so naturally drawn, and yet so unjust, was exciting, as might be expected, a host of prejudices against our Church. How could it be better met than by a similar act of courtesy, testifying our sympathy with the Christian brethren around us? And what could be better calculated to display the truly comprehensive and catholic spirit of our Church than two such acts, springing from widely, divergent sentiments and tendencies, and yet both lawfully exercised and charitably regarded in the same communion?
Were it not that you regret your own act, in consenting that Dr. Schaff should hold a service in one of our churches, and declare that it shall never be repeated, I should suppose it impossible that you could regard it in all cases as unlawful for such a service by a non-episcopal minister to be allowed. But your position renders such a conclusion inevitable, for surely, if there ever was an "emergency,", it existed in the case of Dr. Schaff; and if even that will not avail, nothing can ever be considered as warranting such services, and the decision of the House of Bishops covers no cases which can possibly occur. And yet in the same letter in which you regret your consent in this case and admit that you are liable to censure, [16/17] you justify the invitation of the Oriental priest into Trinity Chapel as a testimony of fellowship with the Greek Church.
I am of course entitled, in replying to the Pastoral, to avail myself of your expressed view of the law, and to justify myself upon principles which you yourself have admitted. Now I do not see why this act on my part, now under consideration, is not exactly parallel, in a legal point of view, with the invitation given by the rector of Trinity Church, with your sanction, to the Oriental priest to celebrate divine service in Trinity Chapel. It appears from the Pastoral that you discriminate between this act and the invitation to Dr. Schaff, and that this act still has your approval. On comparing the two cases under consideration, it is evident that if the Canon prohibits the one, it prohibits the other, for neither Father Agapius nor Dr. Adams is a minister of this Church. The congregation at the Greek service was composed of a few of the members of that communion and a large number of our own people. The congregation at the Ascension was even more promiscuous. At the Greek service several ministers of this Church were present in their vestments, in the place where prayers are usually read, and participated in the services, even to the repetition of the Nicene Creed without the "filioque." At the Ascension certain ministers of this Church also united in the services. The rector of Trinity Church acted upon what he considered an "emergency." I only claim for myself the same freedom to act, and the same right to judge what constitutes an "emergency," that he has exercised.
I will not urge the parallel between the case I am now considering, and your sanction of the invitation given to Dr. Schaff to hold a service in the Church of the Holy Communion, for you have expressed your regret at the course which in that case you pursued. But am I not warranted in urging that this sanction was either lawful or unlawful? If it was lawful, the point for which I am contending is established. If it was unlawful, and you were not clearly aware of its unlawfulness at the time, it follows that there are at least great obscurity and doubtfulness about the law, and that there may be [17/18] perhaps a reasonable difference of opinion as to what constitutes its violation.
The discrimination which you make between these two cases, and the whole tenor of the Pastoral, lead irresistibly to the conclusion, that it is not the officiating in our churches of those who are not ministers of this Church which you regard as unlawful, but the officiating of non-episcopal ministers. This distinction must rest, necessarily, on the assertion of the invalidity of non-episcopal orders, and the unlawfulness of their recognition. Since there is no element of difference between the Greek service and the service at the Ascension, so far as the law is concerned, unless this recognition of non-episcopal orders is one, it follows that, in your opinion, the service at the Ascension would have been a lawful one, had it not involved such a recognition. Now, as there is no written law of the Church which has any bearing upon this point, it must be your view that such a recognition is inconsistent with the spirit of the Church. Although this is a very vague charge, I have no wish to evade it, and do not hesitate to claim, with all respect and deference, that the recognition of the validity of non-episcopal orders is in accordance with the spirit, the history, and the standards of our Church.
Our Church makes a "fundamental distinction," in her Canons, between laymen and non-episcopal ministers. She calls the latter "ministers," and she puts them upon an entirely different footing from laymen in respect to her own orders,--prescribing a different process by which they come into the ministry of this Church. Now what constitutes this difference except the ministerial status of such persons? She reordains them, it is true, but that is because they have never been ordained to minister in the Episcopal Church,--just as the Churches of Geneva formerly reordained those who went from one Church to another. In the Preface to the Prayer-Book she calls the various communions in which they minister, "Churches,"--and this not merely by courtesy, but in a document setting forth as clearly as possible the character and position of this Church. The compilers of our Liturgy and [18/19] the framers of our Articles held this liberal view most decidedly. The definitions of the Church and the ministry, in the Thirty-nine Articles, were purposely drawn up so as to include non-episcopal Churches and ministers. And certainly they could not be better adapted for that purpose. Nothing but this supposition, even if there were not the most conclusive historical evidence on the subject, can explain the fact, that in the articles of faith of an Episcopal Church, defining the Church and the ministry, there is not the remotest allusion to episcopacy or episcopal ordination.
The 19th Article defines the Church: "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 which are of necessity requisite to the same." [* See the footnote at the end of the Appendix] Here is not one word of episcopacy as a note, of the Church, and yet am I not solemnly bound to regard and recognize that as a Church which corresponds to this definition? The 23d Article is entitled, "Of Ministering in the Congregation": "It is not [19/20] 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 power given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard." There is not one word here as to episcopal ordination, and yet I am solemnly bound by my ordination vows to regard all those as lawful ministers who answer to this description, although I am not to account them to be lawful ministers, in the Episcopal Church, unless they have been episcopally ordained.
So far is such a recognition from being inconsistent with the spirit and history of our Church, that we find it constantly in the works of most of those venerable men who have been the glory of the Church of England. Mr. Keble himself admits, in his preface to Hooker, speaking of Jewel, Whitgift, Cooper, and others, (and the list might be indefinitely extended,) that "It is enough with them to show, that the government by archbishops and bishops is ancient and allowable; they never venture to urge its exclusive claim, or to connect the succession with the validity of the holy sacraments." I do not refer to these opinions of our divines as approving them in all cases. Some of them take far too low views of episcopacy. I refer to them only to show that the recognition of the validity of non-episcopal orders has ever been held, to say the least, to be within the circle of lawful opinions in the Church. [* For most of the quotations which follow I am indebted to Mr. Wm. Goode's Work--Vindication of the Doctrine of the Church of England on the Validity of the Orders of the Scotch and Foreign Non-Episcopal Churches.]
In the "Institution of a Christian Man," issued by the bishops and clergy in 1537, we find this language: "The truth is, that in the New Testament there is no mention of any degrees or distinctions in orders, but only of deacons or ministers, and of priests or bishops."
The views of Cranmer, on this subject, are so well known that any quotation from his works is unnecessary. In 1563 [20/21] Dr. Pilkington, Bishop of Durham, says: "The privileges and superiorities which bishops have above other ministers, are rather granted by men for maintaining of better order and quietness in commonwealths, than commanded by God in His Word." [Confut. Of an Addition. Works, ed. Parker Soc. P. 493] Archbishop Whitgift says: "That any one kind of government is so necessary that without it the Church cannot be saved, or that it may not be altered into some other kind, thought to be more expedient, I utterly deny; and the reasons that move me so to do be these. The first is because I find no one certain and perfect kind of government prescribed or commanded in the Scriptures to the Church of Christ. Secondly, because the essential notes of the Church be these only,--the true preaching of the Word of God, and the right administration of the sacraments." [Def. of Ans. To Adm., 1574, p.81] Hooker says: "There may be sometimes very just and sufficient reason to allow ordination made without a bishop." [Eccl. Pol. vii. 14.] Saravia says: "This also is true, that in such a state of confusion in the Church, when all the bishops fall away from the true worship of God into idolatry, without any violation of the government of the Church, the whole authority of the episcopal government is devolved upon the pious and orthodox presbyters, so that a presbyter clearly may ordain presbyters." [Defens. Tract de div. Ev. gradibus gc ch.. ii. p. 32 from the Latin] Lord Bacon, though a layman, is an important witness to the prevalent opinion in his time. He says: "Some indiscreet persons have been bold in open preaching to use dishonorable and derogatory speech and censure of the Churches abroad; and that so far as some of our men, as I have heard, ordained in foreign parts, have been pronounced to be no lawful ministers." [Works, by Basil Montagu. London, 1827. vol. vii. p. 48] Bishop Andrews says: "Though our government be of divine right, it follows not either that there is no salvation, or that a Church cannot stand without it. He must needs be stone-blind that sees not Churches standing without it." [Wordsw. Christ. Instit. v. iii p. 239] Archbishop Bramhall says: "Many Protestant Churches [21/22] lived under kings and bishops of another communion; others had particular reasons why they could not continue or introduce bishops." "I know that there is great difference between a VALID and a REGULAR ordination." [Works of, ed. Vol. iii. Pp. 475,476] Archbishop Bancroft, when it was proposed that certain candidates for the Scotch Episcopate should first be ordained presbyters, as not having been ordained by a bishop, replied: "That thereof there was no necessity, seeing where bishops could not be had, the ordination given by presbyters must be esteemed lawful." [Spotiswood's Hist. Church and State of Scotland, 4th ed., 1677, folio, p. 514] Archbishop Usher says: "I do protest that with like affection, I should receive the blessed sacrament at the hands of the Dutch ministers, if I were in Holland, as I should at the hands of the French ministers, if I were in Charentone." [Judg. of Archbishop of Armagh, c, London, 1657, p. 127] Bishop Hall says: "Blessed be God, there is no difference in any essential matter betwixt the Church of England and her sisters of the Reformation." "The only difference is in the form of outward administration, wherein also we are so far agreed, as that we all profess this form not to be essential to the being of a Church." [The Peacemaker, 6, 1647. Works, by Pratt, vol. viii. p. 56] Bishop Morton says: "Where the bishops degenerate into wolves, there the presbyters regain their ancient right of ordaining." [Apol. Cathol. pt. 1, lib. 1, c, 21, 2d ed., London, 1606, 8vo, p. 74] Dean Field says: "And who knoweth not, that all presbyters, in cases of necessity, may absolve and reconcile penitents, a thing in ordinary course appropriated unto bishops? And why not, by the same reason ordain presbyters and deacons in cases of like necessity? [Of the Church, ed. 1628, lib. 3. c. 39, p. 156] Dean Cosin says: "I do not see but that both you and others that are with you may (either in case of necessity, when you cannot have the sacrament among yourselves, or in regard of declaring your unity in professing the same religion, which you and they do) go otherwhiles to communicate reverently with them of the French Church." [Conclusion of a Letter written from Parish, in 1650, to a Mr. Cordel] Bishop Stillingfleet, in Irenicum, maintains that the stoutest [22/23] champions for Episcopacy had admitted that ordination by presbyters in case of necessity is valid. Dean Sherlock says: "I do not make Episcopacy so absolutely necessary to Catholic communion as to unchurch all Churches which have it not." [Vindication of Protestant Principles. Gibson's Preserv. vol. iii. p. 410] Archbishop Sancroft exhorts his clergy to "warmly and affectionally exhort them (the Protestant Dissenters) to join with us in daily fervent prayer to the God of peace for the universal blessed union of all Reformed Churches, both at home and abroad, against our common enemies." [D'Oyly's Life of Sancroft, I, 325] Archbishop Wake says: "Ecclesias Reformatas etsi in aliquibus a nostra Anglicana dissentientes, libenter amplector." [Mosheim, by Maclaine, vol. vi. p. 184, ed. 1826] Archbishop Seeker says: "Our inclination is to live in friendship with all the Protestant Churches...We show our regard to that of Scotland as often as we have opportunity." [Answer to Mayhew, p. 68] Bishop Tomline says: "I readily acknowledge that there is no precept in the New Testament which commands that every Church should be governed by bishops."[Exposition of Art. 23, ed. 1799, p. 397] Archbishop Howley speaks of the foreign Reformed Churches as "the less perfectly constituted of the Protestant Churches of Europe." [Statement respecting Jerusalem Bishopric, p. 5] Archbishop Sumner, as is well known from the recent controversies on the subject, declared his belief in the validity of non-episcopal ordination. Besides this, to say nothing of the practice of the Church Missionary Society, the whole bench of bishops has had for more than a century the direction of the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and with its sanction this society has constantly sent forth to preach the Word and administer the sacraments, those who have had only non-episcopal ordination.
So far also were the Reformers and divines of our Church from holding that non-episcopal divines were "incompetent to teach" our people, that Cranmer invited Martyr and Bucer to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to train up the [23/24] clergy; and the Convocation of Canterbury, with Archbishop Whitgift at its head, appointed only one book besides the Bible to be studied by the clergy, and that was a work by Bullinger, of Zurich, a non-episcopal divine.[Preface to Bullinger's Decades, ed. Parker Soc.]
With such testimony as this, who can reasonably deny that the recognition of non-episcopal orders is in accordance with the spirit, the history, and the standards of our Church?
I regret that the Pastoral has placed this subject on ground which renders acquiescence in it impossible. For it does not merely express an opinion that no orders but episcopal are valid. Such an expression of opinion would interfere with no one's liberty. It does not merely claim that this Church has the right to regulate her own internal affairs, and to exclude all ministries but her own. That could have been admitted without any sacrifice of principle. The Pastoral goes further. It takes two cases analogous in all points, so far as the law of the Church is concerned, and it admits the one and rejects the other, simply because in the latter case there is an implied recognition of non-episcopal orders. It pronounces the one lawful and the other unlawful. The inevitable conclusion is that it is not lawful for one of our clergy to express, by an act in itself lawful, his opinion that non-episcopal orders are valid; nay more, it pronounces the opinion itself unlawful, for how can it be lawful to hold an opinion which cannot be expressed by lawful acts? And if this opinion is not lawful, then we are bound to all the logical consequences which its denial involves,--to the monstrous assumption that this Church is the Church of Christ in this land, that in her alone are treasured up the covenanted blessings of grace, and that all outside of her fold are left to the uncovenanted mercies of God. It is impossible in this country, and in this nineteenth century, to accept such a position and such consequences as these.
If I have established the points which I proposed to consider, it follows that it is allowable, in this Church, to recognize, by any lawful act, the validity of non-episcopal orders; that the admission into our churches of non-episcopal ministers, [24/25] with such congregations as may assemble, on any "emergency," is a lawful act; that the minister of the Church is the proper judge of what constitutes an "emergency"; that what would otherwise constitute an "emergency" is not vitiated by the fact that a recognition of non-episcopal orders is involved; and, finally, that it is lawful (there being no law prohibiting it) for the ministers of this Church to participate in such services.
So satisfied am I that this view of the law is correct, and that it is impossible to bring the present case within its prohibition, that I venture to predict that an effort will be made in the next General Convention--perhaps successfully--to enact a canon which will prevent anything of the kind in future. While I should regret any such action, as tending to present our Church as needlessly exclusive, it would still be a yielding of the whole ground for which I am contending, viz., that the admission of non-episcopal services into our churches on special occasions is not a violation of the present law of the Church. And I venture also, to predict, that, if any such canon is passed, it will make no distinction between non-episcopal ministers and episcopal ministers not in communion with this Church. I cannot believe that the Episcopal Church in this country is prepared for such an excess of exclusiveness as such a distinction involves. But if the spirit of our Church has indeed become thus exclusive and intolerant, and we have ceased to hold the views and cherish the feelings of our Reformers and greatest divines, let it be known, and exhibited in our laws, so that we may no longer receive a credit for liberality which, in that case, we so poorly deserve.
I have felt it to be necessary, my dear Bishop, to meet the charge contained in your Pastoral, that the act now under discussion is contrary to the law and to the spirit of our Church. I trust that this has been thoroughly and successfully accomplished. But a far greater importance attaches itself to this subject than that which belongs to a mere question of ecclesiastical law, or even of the spirit of our Church. It has its roots far down in the very substratum of Christianity itself. The [25/26] prominent idea in the Pastoral is the exclusive validity of episcopal orders. Even when this is not expressly asserted, the refusal to recognize the validity of any other orders is practically to assert the exclusive validity of our own. Now this exclusive validity may be regarded as a mere arbitrary arrangement established by Christ through His Apostles, and designed to be permanent in the Church. As thus held, though it is wanting in historical evidence, and is unphilosophical, not to say unscriptural, in its character, it may be comparatively harmless. But a theory held on such grounds would not be likely to excite any great enthusiasm in its defence. This theory has been held of late years in far different relations, and defended upon far different grounds. It has been, and is now, allied with principles hostile to the plainest and most fundamental of the truths of the Gospel. I do not mean to say that this alliance is obvious to all those by whom this theory is held; but I affirm the natural, not to say necessary, connection of this theory with principles which are subversive of the whole plan of salvation. Let us look at this view of the subject for a moment. When the absolute necessity of episcopal ordination is strenuously insisted upon, the natural conclusion will be that it is regarded not as a merely arbitrary arrangement, but as resting upon some great principle in the Christian system. The writers of the "Tracts for the Times" have told us what this principle is. They assert that the succession from the Apostles in the line of bishops is essential to the valid administration of the Eucharist, and that the Eucharist is necessary to salvation. This claim, then,--and it is the only one which gives any dignity to the assertion of the exclusive validity of episcopal ordination,--is a claim that, to a certain class or order of men is intrusted a power upon the exercise of which the salvation of others is made to depend. We can see at once why a class, claiming to be endowed with such awful attributes, should scrupulously guard their transmission, and reserve to itself all the privileges and powers which such a lineage confers. We can understand at once what a terrible engine of temporal and spiritual despotism [26/27] such a class must become, if it can only impose upon the credulity of mankind. But more than this, these are the very claims of a mediatorial priesthood. To give these claims a wider scope and greater dignity, the priest must himself offer an atoning sacrifice, and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper becomes a repetition of the sacrifice upon the cross. To extend still further the sphere of these monstrous prerogatives, various ceremonies are elevated to a mystical and sacramental character, and every stage in the soul's salvation is subjected to priestly intervention. It is impossible not to see how completely this system repudiates the whole idea of justification by faith, and shuts out Christ from the soul. And that I do not over-estimate the natural alliance of these claims of a mediatorial priesthood with the claim of the exclusive validity of episcopal orders, will, I think, be plain from the following quotation from the celebrated letter of Mr. Perceval to the editor of the "Irish Ecclesiastical Journal." This letter informs us, on the very best authority, what were the real views and purposes of the writers of the "Tracts for the Times." They say themselves, as quoted by Mr. Perceval, "Considering, 1. That the only way of salvation is the partaking of the body and blood of our sacrificed Redeemer; 2. That the mean expressly authorized by Him for that purpose is the holy sacrament of His Supper; 3. That the security by Him, no less expressly authorized, for the continuance and due application of that sacrament, is the apostolical commission of the bishops, and under them the presbyters of the ChurchWe desire to pledge ourselves one to another, reserving our canonical obedience, as follows: 1. To be on the watch for all opportunities of inculcating, on all committed to our charge, a due sense of the inestimable privilege of communion with our Lord, through the successors of the Apostles," &c., &c.
Upon this foundation the whole superstructure of the Tractarian theology is built. I freely confess that I cannot but regard it with grief and alarm, as a whole, or in its various parts, by whomsoever it is held, or with whatever learning or piety it is allied. And although this system has been shattered [27/28] by the sturdy defenders of the faith, its disjointed fragments are still so formidable as seriously to obstruct the progress of the Gospel and the Church; there are snares at our feet in which we are in danger of being involved, and it is solemnly incumbent upon us now, as ever, to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and to be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
I have no wish that the opinions and principles which I have advanced, and which are so widely accepted in this Church, should be imposed in any way upon those who dissent from them. If I had the power to-day, I would not restrict, in the slightest degree, the advocacy, by word or act, of opinions the opposite of these. Truth does not need the aid of pains and penalties to secure its triumph. I have more than once had occasion to plead for the toleration of practices which I believe to be inconsistent with the spirit of our Church. I have done this simply because no man or assembly of men can claim to be as catholic as the Church itself. I claim the same toleration for my own opinions and for the expression of them, not only by word, but by any act which, in itself, is lawful.
I trust, my revered and beloved Bishop, that the explanation which I have given of the act in question may present the circumstances under which it was performed in a new light to your mind, and satisfy you that it is not contrary to the law of the Church. Your expressions of sincere respect and affectionate regard for those for whom your Pastoral is specially intended are most gratifying to me. I trust that I may do more to deserve them, and that I may long continue to enjoy the delightful personal and official intercourse with you, which has been my privilege since I have been in this Diocese. And now, asking your blessing upon myself and my labors in the Lord's vineyard,
I am, with great respect and affection,
Faithfully yours in the Church,
JOHN COTTON SMITH.
RECTORY OF THE ASCENSION,
My attention has just been called to an extract in the "Christian Times" from De Foe's "History of the Plague of London." According to this, it seems that since the passage of the Act of Uniformity, during the prevalence of the plague, the pulpits of the Establishment were in many cases occupied by Dissenting clergymen, the ministers of the Church gladly uniting with them, and availing themselves of their assistance. Will it be contended that this is an extreme case, wrong in principle, and only to be justified as an exception which "proves the general rule"? It is strange, indeed, that the awful presence of death should warrant "violations of law" and "faithlessness to ordination vows"; and that ministers who are "incompetent to teach" our people in health, should be able to prepare them for death and eternity. It would be well if we were at all times more sensible of the nearness of another world, and if those acts which we all feel to be suitable under such circumstances were in a far greater degree the acts of our daily life. De Foe well says: "Here we may observe, and I hope it will not be amiss to take notice of it, that a near view of death would soon reconcile men of good principles one to another, and that it is chiefly owing to our easy situation in life, and our putting these things far from us, that our breaches are fomented, ill-blood continued, prejudices, breach of charity and of Christian union so much kept up and so far carried on among us as it is. Another plague-year would reconcile all these differences; a close conversing with death, or with diseases that threaten death, would scum off the gall from our tempers, remove the animosities among us, and bring us to see with different eyes than those which we looked on things with before."
NOTE B--p. 16.
My excellent friend, Dr. Muhlenberg, while referring most kindly to my "Plea for Liberty in the Church," takes exception to my opinion that the holding of the Greek Service in Trinity Chapel was lawful. His argument seems to me perfectly conclusive, so far as the holding of such a service in one of our congregations is concerned, but I do not see that it applies to the lending of a church for that purpose. In considering the lawfulness of this service, I do not think any subsequent revelations as to the ecclesiastical position of the officiating priest, or the character of the service itself, should be taken into account. It is no more than fair to those who were concerned in this service, that what they supposed to be the facts in the case should be considered. They had every reason to suppose that the priest was what he purported to be, and that the service was free from all "superstitious observances." This being the case, and the Russo-Greek Church having so many claims upon our interest, I do consider the motives which prompted the act as admirable, and the act itself as lawful.
It is interesting to notice the agreement of this article with those of the continental churches on the same subject.
Quae (sc. ecclesia) quidem quum solius Del sit occulis nota, externis tamen quibusdam ritibus ab ipso Christo institutis, et verbo Dei velut publica legitimaque disciplina non solum cernitur cognosciturque; sed ita constituitur, ut in hac sine his nemo, nisi singulari Del privilegio censeatur. Harm. Conf. Sect. x. p. 9. Conf. Helv. Prior. Art. XIVsed illam docemus vere esse ecclesiam, in qua signa vel notae inveniuntur ecclesiae verae. Imprimis vero verbi Del legitima vel sincera praedicatio, &cSimul et participiant sacramentis a Christo institutis et ab apostolis traditis.--Ib. p. 6, Conf. Helv. Post. cap. XVIIubi tamen sit (ecclesia) quam minime contaminataetam de infra scriptis signis cognosci potest, nimirum ubicunque Christus in concionibus sacris docetur, sancti evangelii doctrina pure pleneque annuntiatur, sacramenta de Christi institutione et mandato, sententia et voluntate administrantur, &cIb. pp. 10, 11, Conf. Bohem. cap. VIII..simul etiam palam affirmamus ubi verburn Dei non recipitur nec ulla est professio obedientiae quae illi debetur, nec ullus sacramentorum usus, ibi proprie loquendo, non posse nos judicare ullam esse ecclesiam.--Ib. p. 15, Conf. Gall. Art. XXVIII. Dicimus igitur ecelesiam visibilem in hac vita coetum esse amplectentium evangelium Christi, et recte utentium sacramentis, &c.--Ib. p. 21, Conf. Saxon. Art. XI. Arbitramurecclesiamin eo esse loco aut gente ubi evangelion Christi sinceriter praedicatur, et sacramenta ejus recte, juxta institutionem Christi, administrantur.--Ib. p. 27, Conf. Virtem. Art. XXXIIubicunque sacrosanctum evangelium et sacramenta exercentur, facile inde scire poterit ubi et qui sint christiana ecclesia.--Ib. p. 30, Conf. Suev. Art. XV.