WITH the organization of the Church complete, and with a system of synodical and legislative machinery set in motion, with a service-book of its own (which matters will receive treatment in later chapters) the American Church took its place, not predominating above other Christian organizations as is the more familiar situationxjf the various branches of the Church Catholic in other lands, but side by side with numerous other Christian bodies. All were in some degree in antagonism with each other. This was due in a measure in each case to chapters in the early history of each body. The American Church, a truth which must be emphasized continually, was handicapped from the first by these prejudices against it. From the end of the eighteenth century the Church in the United States has been under challenge to uphold her claims to be Catholic and not Protestant by showing her adaptability to all circumstances and conditions for supplying the full religious needs of individuals. The few who study with anything like open minds the claims of the Church as based upon history are able to arrive at conclusions which go far to substantiate these claims. The many either study and interpret the past with prejudice and with little knowledge of religion and theology, or they do not take the past into account at all. The principle of the survival of the fittest has a strong hold upon the individual who judges only by certain apparent results which he deems sufficient evidence.
There are, however, other criteria which may be applied when the history of a body covers sufficient time to admit of an exhibition of real development. In the case of Christian bodies such questions are: Has the particular body persisted in the face of difficulties and obstacles which were not of its own making? Has it remained through periods of stress unaltered in essential characteristics? Has it maintained actual integrity of life in contrast with the disintegration of other religious bodies living and working by its side? Has it really developed extensively in the way of missionary expansion on its own and on foreign ground, and has it exhibited an intensive life and power which deepens and strengthens itself and its individual members, and in such way as to influence the religious and national life around it? Has it been able to cope with problems not easy to foresee until the necessity of solution was imminent? Some of these matters will now be brought under consideration.
It may be suggestive to bring before the mind the condition of the American Church at the opening of the nineteenth century. The number of bishops was, in 1801, seven, scattered over the entire Atlantic seaboard and not extending their jurisdictions into the interior. The clergy numbered probably not much over two hundred. At the first General Convention, in 1801, only four out of seven bishops were present, together with nineteen clerical and nine lay deputies. Other statistics are of the same nature. The Church was undeniably weak. Eapid growth could not be expected from within itself alone, Some increase would come by the immigration of English Churchmen into the United States. The Church in Canada for a long time increased steadily in this way and continues to do so. The Church in the United States has never gained proportionately in this way. Other bodies, as for example the Methodist, have been steadily added to by immigration, and the Roman Catholic Church owes its great strength in America to the influx from a score of countries where it is the prevailing religion. The American Church, moreover, because of the difficulty of keeping pace with the rapid extension of settlements from the Atlantic to the Pacific, an area 3000 miles from east to west and 2000 from north to south, has suffered continual loss by its members becoming isolated or being absorbed into other religious affiliations. As a matter of fact, its largest growth has in all probability been by drawing into its communion members from all other religious communions, Roman, Protestant, and non-Christian. This feature of growth has been characteristic from the beginning to the present day and must be borne in mind as of special significance in showing the attractive power which the Church exerts in every direction. A clergyman, born and educated in England but ordained in the United States, once remarked that it was ill-advised to elect to the episcopate or to other high offices any but those born and reared in the Church. He was met with the response that had any such policy been adhered to, there would have been very few priests and only a small aggregate of laity in the American Church, so largely and continuously has its numerical and official strength been recruited from outside. This consideration is put forward and stressed at this stage of the narrative because it helps to account for several phases which meet us and call for explanation. For example, two classes of communicants are to be met with continually and widely, one consisting of those whose answer to the question: "Why are you a Churchman?" would be, "Because my parents were Churchmen"; the other made up of those who would reply to the same query, "Because I am convinced that all the privileges and gifts of Christianity are to be found and received within its communion". Between these two may be found those who have no particular answer and whose religious position is not based on any very positive grounds. But to the first-mentioned class has been due much of what is conservative and stereotyped in American Church life, while to the other, the Churchmen from conviction who have struggled to obtain the totality of Church blessings, is due, in a very large measure, the spirit of initiative whereby the richness of Church life in every department tends to be more and more realized and developed.
But at the outset of the nineteenth century Anglican Christianity was in one of its periods of lethargy, and the reflex effects on the trans-Atlantic Church among English-speaking people is clearly seen. The school of theological thought to which Bishop Seabury, together with a considerable group of northern clergy, belonged, corresponded in many ways to the type in theology which Hooker and Andrewes and the Non-jurors of the later seventeenth century represent. The evangelical type tended to predominate in other quarters and to exercise a controlling and dominating influence on the Church at large during the first quarter of the century. The "liberal" theology was practically not represented in the first seventy-five years of the American Church. Those who tended towards the deistic position which had deadened the English Church in the eighteenth century found a refuge in the organized and influential Unitarian body, the stronghold and centre of which was, and continues to be in, New England in general and Massachusetts in particular. Two exemplifications of this Unitarianism are to be seen in Harvard College, the founder of which was a Churchman, while the institution has for a long time stood decisively for the non-Catholic and rationalistic position; the other example being King's Chapel in Boston, which was originally, as the name implies, a "Chapel Royal" under the auspices of the Church of England, but has passed over by measures doubtfully equitable into the status of a Unitarian meeting-house.
Party spirit did not run high in the early years of the XlXth century. The evangelical tendency appeared more in the movements for extending the Church to keep pace with the westward movement of the population. The school of stronger Churchmanship operated in the direction of laying the foundations more and more securely by the establishment of educational institutions under the direct auspices of the Church and by interpreting Church life more fully to the religious population in general. Probably the most important achievement of the first part of the century was the establishment and opening of a divinity school for the training of men for the Ministry--the General Theological Seminary, located and working since 1819 in the city of New York. The traditions of this institution have always been markedly on the side of positive and Catholic Churchmanship, though it has never been distinctively a partisan institution.
Only one who has visited and travelled "to some extent in the western part of the United States or Canada, or who has been able from studies in colonization and topography to visualize the gradual settlement of these vast areas, can grasp the nature of the task which the Church had to face in its efforts to reach out to its people in these distant and sparsely-settled regions. Wherever settlers went, there the Church was found represented. But never has the missionary work of the Church "caught up" with the advance of the tide of extension. At first, large areas were grouped in one field. The New England States formed the "Eastern Diocese," which quite early hecame divided into a number of other dioceses, each coterminous with a State. Then the settling of the Middle West, including the territory east of the Mississippi River, called for some spiritual provision, and a Bishop was sent to that field, the Right Rev. Philander Chase. In 1835 the immense territory lying to the west of the Mississippi already settled was provided for and the Right Rev. Jackson Kemper was sent to be Bishop of the north-west, more picturesquely described as the "Bishop of all outdoors". By the year 1859 the spread of the population and of the Church had become so wide that the General Convention provided that the entire expanse of the United States should be placed under episcopal supervision and control. Thus was exhibited a statesmanship and an ideal that has never been receded from amidst all the difficulties involved. The result is that the Church in the United States, viewed as a whole rather than judged by a minority of populous and concentrated dioceses, presents still the aspect of a missionary Church. Later on some statistics illustrating this aspect will emphasize the fact.
With the period in the life of the English Church known as the Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival the American Church entered a corresponding era of experience and development. All the phases of that movement in England were reproduced on a smaller scale in the United States. Objections to candidates for ordination on the ground of doubtful orthodoxy, wars of pamphlets, strictures of Bishops on arrangements of Church buildings and Altars, charges of "ritualism," all indicate that the Church in the new country had drifted into much the same state as in the old country, and was reacting in a similar way towards the true fulness of Church life. The subjoined extract from a standard history is given as affording an impersonal estimate of the confusion of the times:--
"As showing the condition of the ecclesiastical mind of this period, a complaint may he cited which some Pennsylvania laynaen made to the Bishop concerning their rector. It was because the rector used what the laymen styled 'an altar card,' which was simply a piece of paste-board with the Prayer of Consecration printed upon it. In writing to the Bishop concerning the matter, the rector remarked: 'The same persons who have talked about the above were greatly facetious about the surplice, and perfectly clamorous at the introduction of chants'. Among other things that then caused alarm and controversy, were the decoration of Churches at Christmas with evergreens, stained glass with figures for church windows, reading the Ante-Communion service at the Altar instead of at the reading-desk. The introduction of lecterns, and prayer-desks at the sides of the chancel, were also obstinately resisted. When the Venite was first chanted, it was called 'singing prose,' and the people mimicked the tune. The people generally sat during the chanting and singing, except at the Gloria Patri. No wonder if under such circumstances a writer (1840), in advocating more frequent celebrations, was forced to say, ' Monthly Communion is perhaps nearly all that we can accomplish in the present state of things'."
This description indicates that though the underlying circumstances in England and America were identical, the details were different. Such has been the subsequent history of the "revival "in the American Church. The matters at issue have always been connected with the putting foremost of the Church's full sacramental system with the proper accompaniments of significant ceremonial and proper adjuncts in worship; the Ministry of the Church as possessing supernatural gifts and powers derived by authoritative transmission through the successors of the Apostles; the authority of the Catholic Creeds as interpreted by the whole Church; and the discipline of the Christian life set forth under the divine guidance of the Church as to what tends best in different ages to promote personal holiness.
The differences which characterize the American Revival are, however, of significance and interest. Foremost stands the fact that the State has nothing at all to do with such matters in America. The questions involved are for ecclesiastical authorities alone to settle. The civil courts can have no jurisdiction in the matters involved. Broad general legislation which is not contrary to the Constitution of the American Church may be proposed for consideration by the General Convention. In case there is no legislation to cover specific cases, the Bishop of the diocese has a certain regulative power which must be consistent with existing general canons. Even then there maybe an appeal from the Bishop. Hence, certain of the complications, which are inevitable where Church and State are associated to any extent in ecclesiastical procedure, are impossible in a nation where the Church bears no legal relation to the State.
On the other hand, the absence of local tradition and long current use explains why some phases of divergence in the arrangement of churches and of services arose in the American Church in connection with the Revival, while others were absent. Such features as stained glass windows with figures, or the use of lecterns and of vested choirmen, were never brought into controversy in the English movement, while in the United States these adjuncts did come in for bitter antipathies. To use another illustration, while an American Bishop might and did rule personally against any form of Altar which was not a "table with palpable legs," no objection of special force was raised against the use of stone as the material for such an Altar. Stained glass windows with figures were so familiar to English Church people from old and widespread use and the objections to them so identified with Puritan vandalism that no one thought of them as idolatrous. Statues or carved relief work in stone or wood, however, were treated as questionable and reqxu'ring a "faculty". In the United States, where perforce sacred art was of very slow development, the introduction of figures in windows was interpreted in a sense which caused them to be viewed with suspicion. This suspicion rapidly disappeared, partly because people became accustomed to the English uses being regarded as harmless, and it was quickly perceived that there is no difference in principle between figures in windows and figures in the reredos of an Altar. Consequently the appearance in churches of the reredos with statues in niches has caused no widespread antagonism or bitterness.
The high water-mark of legislation against full Catholic doctrine and ceremonial was reached in the General Conventions held successively in 1868, 1871, and 1874. Doctrinal teaching on the Holy Eucharist was becoming strong and widespread, as the very heart and reason for worship and ceremonial. The more hostile and the more timid joined forces in the attempt to limit both teaching and practice by means of drastic legislation. Many Bishops and other clergy, some of them of really sound Churchmansbip but deprecatory and fearful of the laity, were thrown into a state of panic over possible developments. A committee actually brought forward a report recommending the prohibition by canon of the use of incense and of the crucifix, processional crosses, Altar lights except when necessary for illumination, the mixed chalice and post-communion ablutions in sight of the congregation, and lay acolytes assisting in the Communion service, together with other limits set to regulate the length of surplices and cassocks, the use of coloured stoles, vested choirs and choral services.
In the Convention of 1871 the issue was boldly denned in the speech in the House of Deputies delivered by Dr. James De Koven, a leading theologian and a thorough scholar, at the time Warden of Racine College in Wisconsin. At the conclusion of his address he stated without compromise his position on Eucharistic doctrine and challenged trial for his theology if it was held to be inconsistent with his ordination vows. The famous passage which contains the statement is as follows: "I believe in the Real, Actual Presence of our Lord under the form of bread and wine upon the Altars of our churches. I myself adore, and would, if it were necessary or my duty, teach my people to adore Christ in the Elements under the form of bread and wine. And I use these words because they are a bold statement of the doctrine of the Real Presence. But I use them for another reason: they are adjudicated words. They are words which, used by a divine of the Church of England, have been tried in the highest ecclesiastical Court of England, and have been decided by that Court to come within the limits of the truth held in the Church of England." The priest who uttered this challenge was never tried, but, later, when elected to the episcopate, failed to receive from the standing Committees of the dioceses the requisite consent to his consecration.
The Convention of 1874, however, passed a canon by which Bishops were empowered to bring to trial any priest brought before his diocesan on the charge of introducing unauthorized ceremonies, or practices setting forth erroneous or doubtful doctrines, the cases specifically mentioned being: the elevation of the Elements in the Holy Communion in such manner as to expose them to the view of the people as objects towards which adoration is to be made; any acts of adoration of or towards the Elements in the Holy Communion, such as bowings, prostrations, or genuflections; and all other acts not authorized by the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. The panic-stricken state of mind which had possessed the legislators is evident in the inconsistent wording of the canon. It was perceived immediately that the canon was abortive until decisions had been reached and set forth as to what constituted "erroneous and strange doctrines," and that wide-spread and non-partisan ceremonial acts such as bowing at the sacred human Name in the Creed might be brought under the ban as well as the genuflection before the Altar after the consecration of the Elements. The canon was by many considered to be unconstitutional, and became practically a dead letter for lack of any authoritative and consistent interpretation. Nevertheless it remained among the official canons until, at the Convention of 1907, it was repealed and expunged.
Many amusing anecdotes could be told of the practices and uses considered to be dangerous innovations at one time or another. One Bishop solemnly warned a young clergyman of his diocese that the wearing of a black stole embroidered with a black cross was liable to interfere with his usefulness in the ministry. Over against this instance it should be recorded that in the "pro-cathedral of the same diocese and under the same Bishop the transition took place with the consent of the diocesan from a bare Altar and the north-end position of the celebrant, the unmixed chalice, and the long, old-fashioned surplice and black stole at the Altar, to an Altar ornamented with Cross, two Eucharistic lights and six vesper lights, the Eucharistic vestments, mixed chalice, unleavened bread, accompanied by other significant developments."
Since the repeal of the above-mentioned canon the matter of lawful and unlawful ceremonial has occupied a very small place in the affairs of the American Church as a whole. Individual bishops and individual parishes have from time to time entered upon controversies relative to such practices. For the most part very elaborate ceremonial is to be found only in a comparatively small number of city parishes where the introduction and use have accorded with the preference of individuals. A moderate and reverent ceremonial is fairly common. Certain practices in use are held to have passed outside the range of dispute, e.g. the Altar Cross, the Cross on the spire and gables of Church buildings, and the sign of the Cross in personal devotion and in blessing, the reverence to the Altar in entering and leaving the Church, the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist and of the Eucharistic lights on the Altar.
It is probably true that teaching has not kept pace with practice, and that the aesthetic use of ceremonial rather than its dogmatic significance is too often the basis of "advanced" services. At the same time a certain warmth and richness, with appeal to the imagination, which rightfully should have its part in worship, has entered in a wholesome way into the general life of the Church in the United States.
On its doctrinal side the Catholic Revival has had a growth and an influence in proportion to the care with which the Church has fulfilled its office of teacher per-severingly and in a painstaking way. It is the exception not to find the Sunday and Holyday celebration of the Holy Eucharist in parish churches, irrespective of the school of thought. Only a few sections of the country and districts where the clergy are insufficient fall short of this average. The practice of sacramental confession is wide-spread wherever the teaching and opportunity are afforded. Retreats, Quiet days, Missions, Children's Eucharists are in use as parts of the Church's methods for those who desire the proper foundation and deepening of the spiritual life. All these are based upon the full and complete teaching of the content of the Creeds. The purely "ritualistic" parish is rarely found. On the other hand, in the overwhelming number of cases where there is but one parish and church building in a town or village, the general form of service tends to be of a very moderate type. Also, it is never safe to judge the type of Churchmanship merely by the outward indications in the ornaments in use. A daily Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice put in its proper place as the chief service will be frequently encountered where outward manifestations scarcely suggest such a desirable state of things. On the whole it may be asserted that few parts of the American Church have been left untouched and unchanged by the application of the principles for which Keble and Pusey stood.
A great crisis in the unity of the Church throughout the land had to be faced in the period of the Civil War, between 1861 and 1865, when the country was sharply divided between North and South in the conflict. The questions involved, viz. State Rights and the associated matter of slavery, brought about a sectional war wherein the Church in each section inevitably took sides. There was no formal division proclaimed and no official schism. The clergy and people on each side, however, found themselves practically separated, and hostile to one another. As in the days of the War of Independence, for some the prayers for the President of the United States were impossible when another confederacy and its chief executive were just what they were fighting for. This hostility could hardly be kept out of ecclesiastical affairs, especially when some bishops on the Southern side were actively engaged in military operations. The General Convention of 1862 which assembled in New York City ignored officially the condition of the Church arising out of the war and chose to act as though delegates from the South were not deliberately but accidentally absent from its sessions. No legislation was passed which could be construed as a judgment or censure upon the Church in the Southern States. On the other hand, the latter met and organized under the title:--"The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America," and caused a special edition of the Prayer Book to be printed with the single alteration of the name of the Church from that of the United to that of the Confederate States. The Committee on the State of the Church, appointed by the Southern body in Convention, declared that "though now found within different political boundaries, the Church remains substantially one". Thus the situation continued for another three years. With the meeting of the next regular General Convention in 1865, in Philadelphia, the real crisis came. By that time the war had ended and the integrity of the United States had been restored. Had the Southern Bishops and other official members of the Convention failed or refused to appear, a permanent schism could not have been easily avoided. Other Christian bodies, separated into two sections by the war, remain apart to this day in formal organization. The Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, each have a northern and a southern section. This might easily have been the outcome with the American Episcopal Church, but with more disastrous consequences on account of the questions of polity and jurisdiction involved. The Northern Bishops personally made advances towards the Southern Bishops to induce them to resume attendance at the Convention of the whole American Church, and with such success that two of the Bishops from the Southern States presented themselves and were received with cordiality and assurances that they need not fear any act or word of reproof. Several technicalities were dealt with as such. One Bishop, Dr. Wilmer, had been consecrated during the war by the members of the southern episcopate. His consecration was made regular on his promise of conformity, according to the Ordinal of the Prayer Book, to the Church in the United States. Another Bishop had taken up arms as a General in the southern forces having had training at the Military Academy at West Point. Providentially he had been killed during the war and the Church was thus relieved of any need for taking canonical action. The Convention at its conclusion participated in a special service of thanksgiving to God for having "granted peace to the country and unity to the Church."
This avoidance of a threatened schism was exceptionally noteworthy. But the American Church has not in its brief life as an independent Church escaped altogether the experience of a permanent separation of a portion from the main body. Although the separation took place twenty-five years after the Gorham Judgment in England, which was concerned with the question of the obligation of the clergy to teach Baptismal Regeneration, the issues involved, which led to the "Reformed Episcopal" schism from the American Church, were the same. Probably it is true that in turn every point of essential Christian doctrine comes up for challenge and re-affirmation in each distinct portion of the Church. In the United States, Eucharistic teaching was very much to the fore in the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth century. Almost inevitably sacramental truth and rites were all found to be involved. The general controversy shifted for a time to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The particular point at issue was the meaning of the terms regenerate and regeneration in the Baptismal offices of the Book of Common Prayer. The difficulty probably arose over the prevalent confusion which has been wide-spread for the past three hundred years, one of the mischievous products of the Protestant reformation under Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, whereby the spiritual experiences of conversion and sanctification are wrongly identified with the "new birth" and "inward, spiritual grace" of Holy Baptism, or at least not carefully distinguished therefrom. Surrounded as the Church in America has always been by militant Protestantism, involved in just such confusion of doctrine, the hold upon the clear theology of the sacramental explanations in the Church Catechism, and other portions of the Prayer Book, is continually liable to be loosened.
A priest of the diocese of Illinois, Charles E. Cheney, had, in the administration of Holy Baptism, omitted the words--regenerate (" Seeing, now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate," and in several other passages); and regeneration, (" that he, coming to thy holy Baptism, may receive remission of sin, by spiritual regeneration"). For doing so he had been brought to trial and suspended from the exercise of his Ministry by the Bishop of Illinois, Dr. Whitehouse. The declaration of forty-eight Bishops that, in their opinion, in the office for Baptism of Infants "the word regenerate is not there so used to determine that a moral change in the subject of baptism is wrought by the sacrament," was not effective in quieting the controversy. A leader was found in the Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, the Right Rev. George D. Cummins. This Bishop had already taken open issue with the principles of the Catholic Revival by participation in a communion service under the auspices of the "Evangelical Alliance," in which members of Protestant bodies joined. For this action he had been adversely criticised, and in retort had signified to the Bishop of Kentucky, his diocesan, who also was at that time the Presiding Bishop, that he, Bishop Cummins, was deeply dissatisfied with the sacramental teaching of the Prayer Book and with other doctrinal teaching contained therein, and that also he disapproved of "the services customary in ritualistic churches". Accordingly, Bishop Cummins served notice that he had in mind to change his religious affiliation and exercise his office elsewhere. The course of action on which he had fixed was made clear when a few days later Bishop Cummins summoned a meeting in New York City for the purpose of "organising an Episcopal Church on the bases of the (proposed) Prayer-Book of 1785". This act, contemplating formal separation from the Communion in which he was an officer under canonical vows, necessitated the steps successively taken by the Bishop of Kentucky. On December 1, 1873, notice was given that Bishop Cummins had been presented for trial, and that any episcopal act of his while these proceedings were going forward would be null and void. The reply to this came in the organizing on the following day of the "Reformed Episcopal Church" and the election of Bishop Cummins to be its "Presiding Bishop". The adherents to this schismatically organized body included a number of clergy who had already been deposed from the ministry of the American Church. On the twelfth day of the same month the Presiding Bishop withdrew from the schismatical Bishop all such episcopal authority as had been committed to him while "Assistant Bishop" of Kentucky, thus taking away all jurisdiction. With equal promptness the suspended Bishop proceeded to consecrate to the episcopate the Rev. Dr. Cheney, who had been deposed from the priesthood by the Bishop of Illinois. When the six months of grace granted to Bishop Cummins in which to abjure his acts and return to his allegiance had expired he was duly deposed. On the part of the proper authorities of the American Church the action of the Presiding Bishop received the sanction of a majority of all the Bishops and was later ratified by the House of Bishops.
Two years later the leader in the schism died, but the "Reformed Episcopal Church" has lived on without much increase in strength to the present day, maintaining a succession of its Bishops of certain irregularity and overwhelmingly doubtful validity. At the latest religious census, statistics given report the total number of communicants as 8,455 with the number of Church buildings as 84 spread over twelve States. The localities where the "Reformed Episcopal Church "has the greatest strength are Illinois and Pennsylvania, and in South Carolina, where its adherents are reported as "coloured," that is, African negroes. Its Bishops number four, its other clergy eighty-three, and its communicants 10,800. The body has reached across the border into Canada.
As a matter of interest in connection with this sole instance, to date, of a formal schism from the American Church, the declaration of principles adopted by the Reformed Episcopal Church at its inception in 1873 is subjoined. A point of considerable suggestiveness is found in comparing the positions set forth with the general position of the "Liberal" school of thought in the Church at the present day.
These principles were as follows:--
1. The Reformed Episcopal Church, holding "the faith once delivered to the saints," declares its belief in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God and the sole rule of faith and practice; in the creed "commonly called the Apostles' Creed"; in the divine institution of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; and in the doctrines of grace substantially set as they are set forth in the thirty-nine Articles of Religion.
2. This church recognizes and adheres to Episcopacy, not as of divine right, but as a very ancient and desirable form of church polity.
3. This church, retaining a liturgy which shall not be imperative or repressive of freedom in prayer, accepts the Book of Common Prayer, as it was revised, proposed, and recommended for use by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, A.D. 1785, reserving full liberty to alter, abridge, enlarge, and amend the same, as may seem most conducive to the edification of the people, "provided that the substance of the faith be kept entire ".
4. This Church condemns and rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word.
First, that the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of polity;
Second, that Christian ministers are "priests" in another sense than that in which all believers are "a royal priesthood";
Third, that the Lord's Table is an altar on which the oblation of the body and blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father;
Fourth, that the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of bread and wine;
Fifth, that regeneration is inseparably connected with baptism.
It is to be noted that the actual position of episcopacy in the Reformed Episcopal polity is substantially the same as among Methodist Episcopalians and in the Danish Church. The episcopate is regarded as an office, not an order. Two orders only are recognized, presbyters and deacons. The Bishop is a presiding and administrative officer, not the channel of transmission of gifts and authority.
Since the Reformed Episcopal separation no violent upheaval has on a large scale disturbed the life of the American Church. There have been numerous cases of clergy and lay people leaving their affiliation with the Anglican Communion, to which the American Church belongs, and entering the communion of the Roman Catholic Church. Those thus "'verting" to the Roman Church have included Bishops and other dignitaries, as well as parish clergy and lay people, and, in short, come from every rank and condition. The reasons advanced for such change have been the usual reasons--individual disaffection, discouragement or lack of balance in the face of difficulties and disquieting actions or proposals on the part of those in ecclesiastical authority, ignorance of the fact that the full sacramental system and all privileges of worship may be found within the American Communion, the exploiting of the claims of the papacy with the characteristic Roman unfairness which presumes upon the ignorance of those who are being proselytised. The drift is continual but is in both directions. As nearly as figures can be gathered, in all probability more individuals annually leave the Roman communion for the American, than pass in the opposite direction. While in the earlier years of the United States those who "went over to Rome" often were advanced to positions of some importance, the papal authorities now seem convinced that such are liable to be fickle and unstable in their new ecclesiastical home, and having had previous alleged defects in their status as priests or communicants made good by reiteration of rites, hypothetically or otherwise, may complicate the situation by returning to their first allegiance or continuing to drift.
In this connection the position of the Roman Catholic communion in the United States needs brief attention. This communion entered with early settlements in different parts of the sea-coast colonies as well as from Louisiana and other territory that afterwards passed into the possession of the United States. The Roman Church, however, remained without a Bishop resident on American soil, and the American Church had three Bishops consecrated and at work before the arrival of the first Roman Catholic Bishop. This first Bishop of the Roman obedience was John Carroll, consecrated in England in the private chapel of a Roman Catholic layman, Mr. Weld, at Lulworth Castle, by a single Bishop, the Right Rev. Charles Walmesley, Senior Vicar Apostolic of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England, acting under special dispensation from Pius IX. The Roman Church has increased with tremendous rapidity largely through the immigration from all nations of Europe that give allegiance to the papacy, and of late from Lower Canada populated by the French Canadians. The overwhelming preponderance of Romanists in almost every section of the United States has increased the difficulty for the American Church of making clear to the mind of the average man, little trained in history, theology, and logic, that a Church may be Catholic without being papal, and anti-papal without being Protestant. The discrimination is becoming increasingly clear to intelligent and fair-minded American-born Romanists and is personally and unofficially admitted in some degree where the two communions find themselves standing together in defence of such questions as Christian Marriage and encroachment upon the prerogatives of the Church by the State, e.g. in legislation against the use of true wine for sacramental purposes. The recognition that both communions stand solidly for the Incarnation and all its safeguards in the Virgin Birth and the bodily Resurrection and Ascension, as against the loose, erroneous, and positively heretical theology around them, increasingly tends to draw them together in defence against the common foes of revealed truth. At the same time the immensity of the Roman Catholic aggregate and its wide distribution appear to have an almost negligible effect upon Protestantism in the United States as a whole. The American Church of Anglo-Catholic derivation thus has come to occupy an extraordinary and delicate position which is neither a via media of compromise nor a position of assent to papal claims and Protestant negations, but is a historically tenable position of unqualified catholicity. As the American Church expresses more clearly its catholicity, and the papacy comes, as seems inevitable, to be regarded more as an accidental and traditional feature of organization, the possibility of wider recognition of the fact that both parts of the One Church hold and offer the same priceless treasures of grace and truth is likely to strengthen the common bulwark against infidelity and partial truth.
The missionary extension of the Church, under the auspices of the American communion, to lands outside the United States is an outstanding feature of the last half-century. This expansion has been on three lines. First of all stand the foreign missionary efforts in fulfilment of Christ's injunctions: "The Gospel must first be preached to all nations and then shall the end come"; and, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature". On this line the Church in its sionary capacity has reached out to China, Japan, and Africa, founding fully organized dioceses, with Bishops, theological and other institutions, clerical, lay, and medical missionaries. Another line of missionary expansion has been in connection with territory acquired by the United States through purchase, such as Alaska, and through military occupation or other political developments, including the Philippine Islands, Cuba, and Porto Eico. Still a third phase of missionary work has been in countries where it was held that the religious condition of the native population, notwithstanding the fact that Christian Missions in some form were among them, was nevertheless such as called for fresh efforts on the part of an English-speaking branch of the Church. Countries in this class are Brazil and Mexico, each of which has a Bishop sent out from the United States, although to some minds with debatable propriety. The United States has, strictly speaking, no colonies more or less independent and autonomous, like the English "Dominions" of Canada and Australia. Hence, there are as yet no independent and affiliated Churches resulting from missionary activities. All the foreign missionary work of the American Church is directed and supported by the Church at home. The tendency in Japan and China is in the direction of "daughter churches" with native clergy and their own synodal machinery, but so far no such tendency has crystallized into fact.
A considerable portion of the territory of the United States in America is still for all practical purposes purely in the missionary status, the rapidly-growing settlements, or in some cases the sections which fluctuate in population continually, not having reached the point of self-support and diocesan organization. Work in connection with the racial populations of the country will be considered among the peculiar problems which the American Church has to solve.
At the end of more than a century and a quarter of independent existence and work the history of the Church in the United States is taking on much the aspect of the Church in other lands. The sluggishness which attended her early days and the strong impetus which was felt when the securing of the episcopate completed her equipment, and the temporary lethargy into which she with other parts of the English-speaking religious world fell at the opening of the last century, have passed into the stage of ordinary growth and deepening, with recurring internal struggles that witness to her attainment, along with the nation itself, of the practical position' of a national Church--the pure, Catholic Church organized within the confines of a distinct people and nation.