TWO ADDRESSES Delivered at a Service of
Thanksgiving to Almighty God
for the Life and Work of
JOHN HENRY HOBART THIRD BISHOP OF NEW YORK
SEVENTH RECTOR OF THE
PARISH OF TRINITY CHURCH
OBIT 1830 A.D.
AT TRINITY CHURCH, NEW YORK WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1930
ADDRESS delivered by the Right Reverend William T. Manning, D.D., Bishop of New York
WE are here to thank God for the memory and example of one of the noblest Christians and one of the greatest Bishops that our Church in this land has known--John Henry Hobart, Rector of Trinity Church and Bishop of the Diocese of New York.
To me this anniversary speaks with special significance for, most unworthily, it has been my lot to hold the same two offices that Bishop Hobart held and which he used so mightily for the benefit of the Church and the building of the Kingdom of God.
Bishop Hobart's life and influence have left a deeper impress upon the life of our Church than that of any other Bishop in our history. We do not sufficiently appreciate what the Church in this land and in this Diocese owes to him.
He was the restorer and rebuilder of the Church at a time when she stood disheartened and discouraged, when her own children were declaring that she had no future, and she seemed to be in a state of decay.
His Episcopate has been called justly the turning point of the history of the Church in this land. The qualities which stood out in the life of Bishop Hobart were his unusual force and vigour of mind and character, his entire devotion to duty, and his unwavering courage and strength of conviction. The key note of his character was strength, sincerity, genuineness, loyalty and magnanimity.
No one could accuse Bishop Hobart of being a time server or a popularity seeker. Men differed from him honestly and strongly but many of those who did so not only respected him but loved him. In his personal faith and public teaching he anticipated and proclaimed all the principles of that great spiritual revival in the Church of England known as the Oxford Movement which took its formal beginning in England in 1833, three years after his death.
It was John Henry Hobart who gave us that great watchword which sums up in a sentence our faith as Churchmen "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order", and with that watchword he awoke the Church and brought it back to faith and life.
The supreme influence in Bishop Hobart's life was his full and living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. With his whole mind and soul he believed the Catholic Faith as this
Church hath received the same, and as it is set forth in the Creeds, the Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer.
It was this that gave him his great power to serve the Church, and it is this that brings life and power to the Church today. It makes all the difference in the world whether we believe only that God sent a messenger to us or whether we believe that out of His great love God came to us Himself in Jesus Christ.
If we believe the Christian Gospel that God came to us Himself, if Jesus Christ on the Throne of God is real to us, this carries with it everything that the Creed declares about Him, everything that the Scriptures tell us of Him, everything that is taught about him in the Prayer Book, the Worship and the Sacraments of the Church.
If Jesus Christ is real to us our hearts will be filled with kindness and tolerance and charity for our fellowmen, but it will not be that false tolerance which will take no stand for the truth and sees no difference between good and evil.
If Jesus Christ is real to us we shall not be indifferent about questions of social righteousness and economic justice and unemployment, nor apathetic in the face of such a situation as that which is now casting a shadow on the integrity of our Courts and on the good name of our City.
In the Sacristy adjoining this Church is Bishop Hobart's monument and the inscription on it tells us with literal truth that he was "the faithful and valiant soldier of Christ who on all occasions stood forth the able and intrepid champion of the Church of God."
God give us today Bishops, Priests and People with faith to believe and courage to uphold the Christian Faith and the Christian standard of life as this was upheld and witnessed to in his day by Bishop John Henry Hobart.
ADDRESS delivered by the Reverend E. Clowes Chorley, D.D., Historiographer of the Diocese of New York
Owing to the limitations of time parts of this sermon were omitted in delivery.
"And he is the head of the body, the church." Colossians I. 18.
On the 29th day of May 1811, John Henry Lord, 1833, John Keble preached a sermon in the university pulpit at Oxford on "National Apostasy". Later, in his Apologia, Newman wrote, "I have ever considered and kept the day as the start of the religious movement of 1833".
Oil the 29th day of May, 1811, John Henry Hobart was consecrated Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of New York, and at the same service Alexander Viets Griswold was consecrated for the Eastern Diocese which embraced the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.
There is a close kinship between these two events. On July 14, 1833, the Tractarian movement came to birth; on May 29, 1811, the American Church was reborn. Both events were turning points in history. The Oxford movement arrested the decline of the Church of England, and at Hobart's consecration dormant forces were liberated which recreated this church. The altar fire which had burned so dimly, flamed again, and from that day to this, it has never gone out.
In addition, that historic occasion marked the emergence into the clear light of day of those two great movements--the High Church and the Evangelical--which were so influential throughout the succeeding years in moulding and shaping the life and thought of this branch of the Catholic Church. Griswold, as silent as he was saintly, was an Evangelical; Hobart, strong and ardent, was--to use his own phrase--a High Churchman.
Under their leadership, the two movements dwelt together in the one household of faith, each bearing its distinctive witness to differing aspects of the one faith of the gospel, and, be it remembered with thankfulness, bearing that witness without strife and bitterness. It was not until after Hobart's death that the house was divided against itself.
It is impossible to estimate the value of John Henry Hobart's contribution to the development of this church without some understanding of the background of the early years of the nineteenth century, for that is the period covered both by his parochial ministry and his episcopate. And within the limits of this occasion that background cannot be adequately sketched.
When Hobart passed from the puritan and calvinistic atmosphere of Princeton college into the priesthood in I 798, the American Church was at the point to die. Even so wise an observer as Bishop White expressed a doubt of her ability to survive. Apparently exhausted by her prolonged effort to secure the episcopate, create a constitution and adapt the Book of Common Prayer to changed political conditions, she had sunk into a state of inertia. The years between 1789 and 1811 have been accurately described as a "period of suspended animation". In the popular mind the church was still associated with the British Crown; the episcopate was regarded as a menace to liberty, and the temper of the time was definitely hostile to religion. In face of such a combination the Church seemed to be well nigh helpless. Little was attempted; less was accomplished. The few bishops there were abdicated leadership. Without exception they were heads of parishes or colleges, and in every case parish or college came first. Bishop White vigorously protested against & desire for more frequent episcopal visitations on the ground that they were inconsistent with a learned episcopate as well as an injustice to the bishop's family. Madison made but one visitation in his diocese of Virginia and then retired to the cloistered seclusion of William and Mary College of which he was president. The first Bishop of South Carolina never once administered confirmation, even in his own parish; he received no candidates for Holy Orders and of course there were no ordinations. Yet, at his death, it is recorded that he administered the office of bishop "respectably"; but for the ensuing eleven years South Carolina was without a bishop, as was Massachusetts for seven years after the death of Bishop Parker.
The clergy took pattern from their fathers in God, and followed the line of least resistance. There was no missionary spirit. The Episcopal Church ministered to a small and privileged group with neither thought nor care for them that were without. The essential qualification for association with the church was to be "respectable". As a leading Boston rector of that day said, "the Episcopal Church is the place for ladies and gentlemen".
The preaching of the times was, as a Virginia evangelical had put it, "in no wise calculated to disturb the carnal repose". Sermons were essays in morality; academic and cold. It was said of Bishop White that "he regarded with no favor stimulating methods" in the pulpit. Strong and plain speech was not tolerated, and the good
bishop always spoke of the devil as "that personage", just as in later years Bishop Manton East-burn described the "broad road" as "that vast arena frequented by far the largest numerical majority". When William Meade preached for Bishop White in Christ Church, Philadelphia, and by his plain speech made the complacent congregation tremble, he was politely told in the vestry that "they were not accustomed to that kind of preaching". The first Bishop of New York complained that those whom he was pleased to call "the lower members of the church" were tainted by bigotry and enthusiasm. The early bishops and clergy feared fervor and sternly repressed it in their pulpit ministrations. Correctness was the cardinal virtue.
Such were the conditions when Hobart began his ministry. His advent was like a breath of new life from the heights wind-swept by the Spirit of God. Where others were timid, he was bold. He did not hesitate to carry the war into the camp of the enemy. When occasion demanded, he did not shrink from controversy. He had the spirit of the crusader. Dispensing with manuscript in the pulpit, he preached with such force, fervor and freedom that by some he was dubbed a "methodist", and others seriously doubted the possibility of his soundness in the faith.
First and foremost Hobart was a High Churchman. Perhaps not more so than Bishop Samuel Seabury, but he had qualities which Seabury lacked. He has been aptly described "as a larger Seabury, touched with emotion, awake to the necessities and responsive to the spirit of the time". Yet his High Churchmanship must be interpreted in the light of his own chosen words. Those words are to be found in two Charges delivered to the Diocese of New York. The first is entitled The Churchman, delivered in 1819; the second The High Churchman Vindicated, in 1826. In these two official pronouncements Hobart defines High Churchmanship in terms of singular clarity. As Hobart saw it, the Low Churchman was one who "deprecates the distinguishing characteristics of the Church; or is lukewarm or indifferent in advancing them". And he defines the term High Churchman as "denoting an eminent degree of attachment to the essential characteristics of the Church, and zeal for their advancement". This definition he expanded in his Charge of 1826 when he said, "High Churchmen then, in the view which has been exhibited of it, is that term which designates those who insist on the ministrations and ordinances of the Church, as constituted by Christ and his apostles, because they are the means and pledges to the faithful of that salvation which is derived through the merits, and intercession, and sanctifying grace of a divine Redeemer; and who love and adhere to the Liturgy as embodying, and powerfully exhibiting evangelical truth and duty in the purest and most fervent language of devotion," and, he added, "The principles which it covers, are those of the first and purest ages of Christianity, of the age of apostles, of martyrs, and of confessors."
In a letter written in 1817 to his old instructor at Princeton, Stanhope Smith, Hobart said, and said truly, "And yet High Churchman as I am, I think I am a stranger to bigotry of heart." To him bigotry did not consist in "maintaining exclusive opinions," but rather in "the spirit in which they are held, and the manner and the means by which they are avowed and advanced." Hence in the Charge, The High Churchman Vindicated, he says the High Churchman "So far indeed from confining salvation to a state of visible union with Christ's mystical body, he extends the benefits of the Redeemer's merits and grace to the pious and sincere of all sects, and of all nations". At the same time, the High Churchman loves "supremely the Church in that form of doctrine, ministry, sacraments, and worship, under which he believes it was constituted by this its divine Head".
To his own definition of High Churchmanship Hobart strictly conformed through evil and good report. For his outstanding characteristic was a profound love for and unswerving loyalty to that Church which is the Body and Bride of Christ; the pillar and ground of truth. With all the ardor of a splendid nature he believed in a divinely constituted Church, with an apostolic ministry, and in the sacraments as the ordained channels of the grace of God. In season and out of season he taught--I quote his own words--that "The Church is a divinely constituted society of which Jesus Christ is the head; that union with this Church is the appointed method of salvation . . . and that this visible society is made by divine appointment, the regular and ordinary channel by which the blessings of mercy, grace and eternal life, in Jesus Christ, are conveyed to a fallen world".
The intensity of his churchly conviction is illustrated in the closing words of his sermon preached at the consecration of Henry U. Onderdonk as Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania, when he said,
"Yes, could I send my voice into every part of our Zion, I would send it with this holy watchword--The Church, in her faith, her ministry, her order, her worship, in all her great distinctive principles--Maintain her at all hazards. For amidst the agitations and tumults of error and enthusiasm, she is the asylum of the wise and the good; amidst the conflicts of heresy and schism, she is the safeguard of the truth as it is in Jesus, of all that he and his apostles ordained to advance the salvation of a lost world."
It was a new and appealing note for the American Church; and Hobart flung it far and wide. Contemporary conditions made it needful for him to lay large emphasis on the faith and order of the Church both in his sermons and in his writings. Episcopacy was bitterly assailed by leading ministers of other denominations through the medium of the public press, and Hobart sprang to the defence of the Church and her ministry and sacraments in his Apology for Apostolic Order. He richly earned the tribute carved on his tomb stone which describes him as "on all occasions the able and intrepid champion of the Church of God".
It was this intense conviction of the divine institution of the Church which inspired his antipathy to what he called "liberal" religion. He describes the "liberal Latitudinarian" as one "who widens the enclosures of charity, so as to embrace those who believe the most, and those who scarcely believe anything". Such an attitude he could not tolerate and he denounced it with a vigor which commanded respect even when it did not meet with approval.
His Conception of a true churchman was one "who rejects equally papal corruptions and protestant errors, and adheres, in all essential points to the faith, the ministry and worship which distinguished the apostolic and primitive Church and particularly to the constitution of the Christian ministry under its three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons."
His love for the Liturgy was second only to his love for the Church, and it is worthy of more than passing note that this love for liturgical forms of worship was grounded in his conviction that the Liturgy of the Church "exhibited the whole system of evangelical doctrine with unrivalled simplicity, strength and clearness". It embodied for him the essence of the evangel. It is true that in his later years he exhibited a marked intolerance of freer forms of devotion, but this was born of a fear that the supremacy of the Book of Common Prayer might be impaired. Nor must it be forgotten that his Companion to the Altar was the first book of devotion to be issued in the American Church.
And now we come, by what may well seem a devious path, to the secret of John Henry Hobart's strength and enduring influence; that which has left an abiding mark on this Church.
It was that he believed profoundly and equally in Evangelical truth and Apostolic Order.
"My banner is," he wrote, "Evangelical truth, Apostolic Order". If, at times, the emphasis leaned to Order, it was because necessity was laid upon him to contend for the Faith. What Canon Bright wrote of St. Athanasius is true of Bishop Hobart:
'Twas not the mere polemic zeal
For Council or for Creed.
For both he set his face like steel
To serve the Church's need.
But all were loved for His dear sake
Whose rights were in that strife at stake."
High Churchman as Hobart was, the evangelical note runs through all his writings. In his work on The Nature and Constitution of the Church he lays down the fundamental principles which alike shaped his teaching and moulded his life. He declared: "That we are saved from the guilt and dominion of sin by the merits and grace of the crucified Redeemer; and that the merits and grace of this Redeemer are applied to the soul of the believer by devout and humble participation in the Ordinances of the Church". This he amplified in his Charge of 1815 when he said,
"There is often an invidious distinction made between the doctrine and institutions of the gospel; and yet they both have a divine origin, and they are inseparably connected as means to the same end--the salvation of men. Justification by a living faith in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and through the sanctification of the Divine Spirit, is a fundamental doctrine of the gospel. It pervades all the articles, and animates all the offices of our Church; and her ministers should make it the basis of all their instructions and preaching.
But it hath pleased God to constitute a visible Church, and to make its ministry and ordinances the means and pledges of this justification. 'The Lord added to the Church', we are told, 'the saved'. Believers are always spoken of as members of Christ's mystical body; and it is the Church which Christ hath purchased with his blood, and which he sanctifies by his spirit.
But if you destroy the ministry, what becomes of the visible Church? If you render an external commission unnecessary, what becomes of the ministry? And if you change the mode originally constituted for conveying this commission from the divine Head of the Church, what assurance can we have that we enjoy it?"
Again and again Hobart emphasized the doctrines of the gospel, as in the Charge of 1819 when he said: "It is this doctrine of justification and salvation only through the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, his divine Lord and Redeemer, which the Churchman daily and constantly cherishes as the only solace of his wounded conscience, and the only ground on which he can hope for acceptance at the tribunal of his Almighty Judge, and for advancement to the celestial glories which infinitely transcend the merit of his best works." By his equal insistence on Evangelical truth and Apostolic Order Hobart kept the proportion of the Faith.
His tireless activity matched his strong convictions. It has been said that Samuel Wilberforce recreated the English episcopate. Hobart performed the same great service for the American episcopate. He was in labors oft; a true missionary bishop. In a diocese covering 46,000 square miles, without a single railroad, he went through the entire state like a flame of fire. Ordinations and consecration of churches multiplied. Missionaries were sent to the far flung borders. The number of confirmations was unprecedented. In seventeen years the clergy grew from 27 to 12 3 and in eight years congregations increased from 72 to 163. The dry bones sprang into life and the desert blossomed as the rose. Under his creative touch the General Theological Seminary, Hobart College, the Episcopal Press, the Theological Society, the Sunday School Society, the New York Bible and Common Prayer Book Society and kindred organizations were created, and he kept a vigilant eye on Columbia College at a time when her association with the Church, as laid down in her charter, was seriously threatened. Of his contributions to theological literature time does not permit to speak.
Stricken with mortal disease while on a visitation at Auburn, he requested the solace of the Blessed Sacrament, and at the age of fifty-five died in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in favor with God, and in perfect charity with the world.
So today we sing our solemn Te Deum in thankfulness not only for the work and witness of this valiant spirit, but also because this American Church which he loved and for which he labored is more and more embodying the Hobart tradition. After long, weary and barren years of wandering in the wilderness of party strife we are coming to a larger comprehension of true catholicity. There is no real antagonism between Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order. They are complementary. Without the warmth of evangelical truth, apostolic order might degenerate into cold traditionalism; without the apostolic order, evangelical truth might become a welter of emotionalism. Hobart anticipated Dr. Muhlenberg's felicitious description of a true churchman as an "Evangelical Catholic". The modern churchman is becoming Evangelical; yet truly Catholic; Catholic yet truly Evangelical. The night of bitter contention is far spent; the day when our Zion shall be at unity in itself is at hand. Meanwhile,
"Remember: of the thousand ages past
We are the heirs.
Today the task is ours
To trim the lamps, and guard
Great Zion's towers.
So, grant us Lord, thy noblest work to do.
Our children may perchance
Thy glory view.
Hobart's teaching on the Church is, in the main, embodied in the following Charges:
1. A Charge to the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New York. October 3, 1815.
2. The Corruptions of the Church of Rome contrasted with certain Protestant Errors: In a Charge, delivered October, 1817.
3. The Churchman. The Principles of the Churchman Stated and Explained in distinction from the Corruptions of the Church of Rome, and from the Errors of Certain Protestant Sects. Third Charge, delivered October, 1819.
4. The High Churchman Vindicated: in a Fourth Charge. Delivered October 17, 1826.
In addition there should be noted the following:
1. Companion to the Festivals and Fasts of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Particularly the chapter entitled "Preliminary Instructions concerning the Church". 1804.
2. The footnotes and contributions signed "Detector" and "Vindex" in the volume entitled "A Collection of Essays on the Subject of Episcopacy". 1806.
3. An Apology for Apostolic Order and its Advocates. 1807.