ESSENTIALS OF ORDINATION
BISHOP HOBART'S CONSECRATION.
JOHN BOWDEN, D. D.
PROFESSOR OF MORAL SCIENCE, AND BELLES-LETTRES,
IN COLUMBIA COLLEGE.
Quam necis artifices arte perire sua.
PRINTED BY JAMES ORAM;
NOTHING lies deeper in my heart, than an earnest desire to promote the peace and prosperity of the Church, to which I have the happiness to belong. Introduced, as I was by the holy rite of baptism within her sacred inclosure; and manifesting, as I think I have done for many years, a lively interest in all her concerns; I cannot for a moment indulge the supposition, that, any reasonable man will ascribe an attempt to vindicate her principles and her acts, to any unworthy motive, or to any unchristian passion. If I know myself, I have a much stronger desire to rescue her from dishonour, than to criminate those, who, in my view of things, have greatly contributed to spread a shade over her respectable character, and to fix a blot on her fame for distinguished regularity, and amicable decision. Were my object, in this letter, to give you a full and adequate view of the conduct of Mr. Jones and his associates, in the unhappy dispute which has subsisted for several months, in a Church long a stranger to dissention; I might, perhaps, from the keenness of feeling, be led to ascribe too much to the virulence of malice, and allow too little to the weakness of nature. But, from this embarrassment, I am fortunately preserved; as my intention is, merely to vindicate the purity and validity of Bishop Hobart's consecration, and to show the gross misconceptions of those, who have [3/4] endeavored to excite doubts in the minds of the uninformed on this important question.
Two writers have obtruded themselves upon the public, for the laudable purpose of proving, that, no ordination can be valid, unless, at the time of imposing hands the Holy Trinity be explicitly named. No matter how often before, or after the imposition, glory, and honor, and praise, and salvation be ascribed to the Godhead in three Persons; it must be done while the Bishop's hands lie on the head of the person kneeling before him, otherwise the ordination is good for nothing. Nor is it sufficient, it would seem, to ascribe the authority conveyed, to the Holy Ghost; although the Scriptures assure us that, He is the Author of every gift both of grace, and of office, in the Church of Christ. The act must be explicitly declared to be performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost at the precise moment of imposing hands. This, I am persuaded, you will think with me, is perfectly new doctrine--never before heard of in the Christian Church in any age, or in any country. But, as it comes from two very learned divines, always distinguished for the depth of their theological knowledge, and for that tenderness of conscience which they have ever discovered in rigidly adhering to Rubrics and Canons, it merits particular consideration.
That it is not necessary to name the Trinity, at the time of imposing hands, I prove by the following argument, to which I request your patient attention.
My first position is--That no form of words, at the time of imposing hands, nor the naming of the Trinity in that stage of the Consecration, is prescribed by our Lord, or by his Apostles.
In the 20th c. of the Gospel by St. John, we have the following words.--"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Here, our Saviour does not give the most distant intimation, that these words are to be used in the act of ordaining. But if he had explicitly enjoined it, it would not answer the [4/5] purpose of our objectors, as there is no declaration that he performed the act in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In the 28th c. of the Gospel by St. Matthew, it is said--"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."--Here direction is given to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, but not a syllable is said about ordaining formally in that holy name.
In the 14th c. of the "Acts of the Apostles," and 20th v. it is said, "And when they" (Paul and Barnabas) "had ordained them elders in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they recommended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."--No intimation is given what words Paul and Barnabas used, when they "ordained them elders in every Church."
St. Paul in his 1st Ep. to Timothy, 5th c. and 22d v. says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man"--but he gives no direction to Timothy, what words he should use, when "he laid on hands." That he appears to leave entirely to himself.
There are no other passages in the New Testament (so far as I can recollect) which speak of the ordination of Elders. It is then beyond controversy, that every Church is left at liberty to use what words it may think proper, at the time of imposing hands.
My second position is, That the primitive Church universally maintained this doctrine, and practised accordingly.
"Because," says the learned Comber, "there are no forms prescribed in Scripture, every Church hath taken the liberty to complete its own formularies. It would suffice (saith Pope Innocent) if the ordainer only said--Be thou a Priest, or a Deacon!" [* On the Common Prayer, p. 245. v. 2.]
"All ecclesiastical writers, fathers, historians, and collectors of councils," says the same author, "use the laying on of hands for conferring holy orders, as might be [5/6] proved (if it were necessary) by innumerable instances; but in a matter so very plain, we will content ourselves with a few, which will suffice to show this was an apostolical and primitive right, and an essential part of ordination. The ancient author under the name of Dionysius saith--The imposition of hands gives the priestly character and power; and St. Basil saith, By laying on of hands they receive the spiritual gift!--A priest is made, (as another hath it) by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the Bishop's voice, and laying on of his right hand.--The ordination of the Clergy (as St. Hierom speaks) is completed by two things, laying on of hands, and a prayer of the lips. The same is also affirmed by all the schoolmen, who generally make this imposition of hands necessary to the conferring of holy orders; and the canon law decrees, if it have been omitted, it must be supplied cautiously afterwards, with out repeating the whole office." [* Comb. v. 2. p. 243.]
The learned Bingham also speaks to the same effect. He shows that every Church made use of what words it pleased, and that every Bishop made his own form of prayer. He observes, "As to the manner and form of ordaining a Bishop, it is thus briefly described by one of the councils of Carthage. When a Bishop is ordained two Bishops shall hold the book of the Gospels over his head, and whilst one pronounces the blessing, or consecration prayer, all the rest of the Bishops that are present, shall lay their hands upon his head." [* Antiq. v. 1. p. 151.] He then gives one of the ancient forms of prayer, taken from the Apostolical Constitutions; the words of which prayer are totally different from those used in our Church, and from those used by our Saviour, as you will see by consulting the place.
He also observes with respect to the ancient form of ordaining Presbyters, "That it is described in the Canon of the Council of Carthage before cited, and in the author under the name of Dionysius, who represents it in this manner.--The person to be ordained kneeled before the Bishop at the altar, and he laying his hand upon his head, did consecrate him with an holy prayer" [* V. 1. p. 255.] As this prayer is not long, I will give it to you as it is in Bingham.
"Look, O Lord, upon this thy servant, who is chosen [6/7] into the presbytery by the suffrage and judgment of all the clergy, and fill him with the spirit of grace and counsel, that he may help and govern thy people with a pure heart: In like manner as thou hadst respect to thy chosen people, commanding Moses to make choice of elders, whom thou didst replenish with thy Spirit. And now, Lord, do the same thing, preserving in us the never failing spirit of thy grace; that he being full of healing powers and instructive discourse, may with meekness teach thy people, and serve thee sincerely with a pure mind, and willing soul, and unblameably perform the sacred services for thy people, through Christ, &c." [* V. 1. p. 256.] This also is totally different from the words which our Saviour used, and which we use; nor is there any express declaration that the priestly character was conveyed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. This was always understood to be the case in the Catholic Church.
Bishop Burnet, in his Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles, has the following words. "We affirm, that Christ appointed a succession of pastors in different ranks to be continued in his Church for the work of the Gospel, and the care of souls; and that as the Apostles settled the Churches, they appointed different orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. And we believe that, all who are dedicated to serve in these ministries, after they are examined and judged worthy of them, ought to be separated to them by the imposition of hands, and of prayer. These were the only rites that we find practised by the Apostles. For many ages the Church of God used no other." [* p. 284.]
Again: "In the Greek Church," says the Bishop, "the words that do accompany the imposition of hands, are only declaratory--The grace of God that perfects the feeble and heals the weak, promotes this man to be a Deacon, a Priest, or a Bishop--let us therefore pray for him." [* p. 284.]--Let this be particularly attended to.
The Rev. Mr. Williams, in his reply to Ward, a fiery Papist, and a most furious assailant of the Church of England, observes, after reciting the words used, by our Saviour when he ordained his Apostles, as described by St. John--"This was our Saviour's manner of ordination; but we [7/8] do not find that the Apostles strictly followed it. For in their ordinations, we find nothing mentioned besides prayer and imposition of hands; which practice, in conferring orders of what kind soever, always prevailed in the Church in all ages; so that imposition of hands, and a prayer suitable to the order conferred, is undoubtedly all that is essentially requisite in ordination; for that imperative form used by our Saviour, Take the Holy Ghost, &c. was not observed for many ages in the primitive Church. [* Success. Prot. Bishops asserted. p. 21.]
Again: "I think it sufficient," says he, "if prayers suitable to the occasion, together with the imposition of hands, be used in all ordinations; for it is this only which appeareth to me to have had the universal suffrage of all antiquity, and which hath always been reputed the essential parts of ordination." [* Ibid. p. 25.]
Father Courayer, a learned Priest of the Church of Rome, in his Defence of the Validity of the English Ordinations, says, "Imposition of hands and prayer in general; that is to say, the invocation of the Holy Ghost to supply the Bishop elect with all the graces necessary for his worthy discharge of the functions of his ministry, are of themselves alone the matter and essential form of the sacrament of orders. [* Let it be remembered that he uses the language of the Church of Rome, which Church esteems Orders a sacrament.] This appears evidently from the Rituals and Pontificals, both Greek and Latin, which antiquity hath transmitted down to us, and from the testimonies of the Ancients, who confirm the observations we make from such liturgical monuments as are extant." [* p. 95.]
Again: "In ordination, two things are necessary, viz. what was practised in all times and in all places; these were the imposition of hands and prayer, to request of God to pour down his Spirit upon the person to receive orders, and that he would enable him to discharge worthily the duties of his function." [* p. 171, 172.]
Once more:--"The Scripture does not clearly and distinctly determine the matter and form of ordination but yet, it declares imposition of hands and prayer, and nothing else. This declaration is supported by the testimony of Fathers and Councils; and that which is [8/9] peremptory is, that the practice of the Church represented in the ancient Pontificals, and other ecclesiastical books, is found to be conformable to these testimonies, not leaving any the least probability of the necessity of any thing else." [* p. 233.]
It is needless to multiply authorities. The case is so clear, and so conformable to the opinion of both ancient and modern divines, that, I think our objectors will not have the hardihood to contest it.
Two links in the chain of our argument have now been completely secured. My third position is--That the Church of Rome, at the time of imposing hands in the consecration of a Bishop, does not use the name of the Trinity.
Mr. Williams, in his controversy with Ward, says, [* p. 15.] "The forms used by the Church of Rome and us, at the imposition of hands, are these." He first gives the English form, as it was in the reign of Edward VI and then the Roman form, which is simply this, while hands are imposed--Take the Holy Ghost. After the hands of the Bishops are removed, several ceremonies take place; power is given "to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate masses, both for the living and the dead, in the name of the Lord;" but let it be remarked that, at the time of imposing hands, the Trinity is not named. [* Pontificale Romanum, p. 80. quoted by the Rev. Daniel Williams, p. 15.]
Nor does the Roman Pontifical name the Trinity, at the time of imposing hands to convey the Priestly character. It ends with--"whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained." [* Williams, p. 10. Pont. R. p. 62.]
Father Courayer confirms the above testimony. As to the ordination of Bishops, says he, there are no other words joined to the imposition of hands in the Roman Pontifical, but these only--"Receive thou the Holy Ghost." [Def. p. 100.]
I have now established another important fact, and I beg that the consequence may be particularly attended to.
If it is essential to a valid episcopacy, that the Trinity be named at the imposing of hands, then the Church of Rome has no valid Episcopacy; and as Cranmer, [9/10] Ridley, and the other reformed Bishops were consecrated by the Roman Ordinal, which was used till the reign of Edward VI the Church of England also has none, and consequently, we have none.
After this, it cannot make the matter either better or worse, to lay it down as a fourth position, That--
Even in the reformed Ordinal in the reign of Edward VI no mention is made of the Trinity at the time of imposing hands.
Sparrow, in his Collection of Articles, &c. which is now before me, gives us the Form of Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. From that Collection it appears, that the Form then used runs thus--
"Take the Holy Ghost, and remember that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by imposition of hands: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and soberness."
This Form, in which the Trinity is not named at the imposition of hands, was used during the reign of Edward VI. Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I. and no alteration was made in it till the reign of Charles II. a period of nearly one hundred years. So that the numerous Bishops, who were consecrated by it, were not, according to the principle of our objectors, valid Bishops.--Can extravagance be carried to a greater length than this?
Every denomination of the Reformed, so far as I know, maintain that nothing is essential to a valid ordination, but prayer and imposition of hands. The Dutch Church, which is respectable for its learning and regularity, undoubtedly maintains this doctrine. In its Liturgy, page 178, 179, are these words--"Then the Minister who did demand those questions of him [the person to be ordained] or another, if there are more present, shall lay his hands on his head, And say, "God our heavenly Father, who hath called thee to this holy ministry, enlighten thee with his Holy Spirit, strengthen thee with his hand, and so govern thee in thy ministry, that thou mayest decently and fruitfully walk therein, to the glory of his name, and to the propagation of the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ, Amen." Not a word is here said about the Trinity. The Presbyterian [10/11] Church, which is also respectable for its learning and regularity, in its Form of Church Government, page 297, thus speaks. "Then the presiding Bishop shall by prayer, and with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, according to the apostolic example, solemnly ordain to the holy office of the gospel ministry. Prayer being ended, he shall rise from his knees, &c." Here also, the Trinity is not required to be named at the time of imposing hands.
I have now closed my argument, and the amount is this:--
1. There is no direction in the New Testament, what Form of words is to be used at the time of imposing hands in ordination, nor is there any direction, that the Trinity shall be then named.
2. This was universally the doctrine of the primitive Church; and accordingly, every Bishop used what words he thought proper.
3. Nothing was deemed essential to a valid ordination but imposition of hands and prayer; and the words used by our Saviour when he ordained his Apostles, were not introduced till many ages after the christian aera; and then only by the Romish Church.
The Church of Rome, neither in the consecration of a Bishop, nor in the ordination of a Priest, uses the name of the Trinity, at the time of imposing hands; and yet, no one ever doubted the validity of her orders.
Lastly--The reformed Ordinal of Edward VI does not name the Trinity in the consecration of a Bishop, when hands are imposed; and this Ordinal was used for nearly one hundred years. Nor do the Dutch and Presbyterian Churches require the name of the Trinity to be used at the time of imposing hands.
The inevitable consequence from the evidence now adduced is, that, if our objectors be right, we have no valid Episcopacy in our own Church, nor has the Church of England any, nor the Greek Church, nor the Romish Church, nor the primitive Church in any age, or in any country; nor were the Apostles themselves Bishops; for our Lord did not explicitly name the Trinity when he ordained them.
In this way have our learned opponents got rid of the [11/12] Episcopacy of Bishop Hobart, and of Bishop Griswold; for the presiding Bishop, at the imposition of hands on him too, inadvertently omitted the name of the Trinity. [* Two Clergymen who were particularly attentive, noticed the omission when hands were laid on Bishop Hobart, and their attention was then particularly excited to notice whether the same omission would take place in the imposition of hands afterwards on Bishop Griswold. They distinctly recollect that the same omission took place in his case. And yet, Bishop Griswold's name in this whole affair, has never been once mentioned. The motive is very obvious.] It is to be sure a desperate mode; but if they have succeeded, let the good men have all the credit of it.
I have observed several times, on ancient and modern authorities, and on the authority of the sacred scripture, that, nothing is essential to a valid ordination but prayer and the imposition of hands. Now on this universally admitted position, Bishop Hobart's consecration is as valid as any in the Christian Church. He was consecrated too in the name of the Trinity, as much as any man ever was. The whole of the Consecration service, from first to last, is performed in that holy name.
Thus, the prayer beginning--"Almighty God, giver of all things," ends thus--"through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, world without end." Thus also, the verses repeated by the Bishop and Presbyters, end with an acknowledgment of the Trinity--
"Praise to thy eternal merit,
"Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
The prayer following makes the same acknowledgment--"through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. The last prayer concludes nearly in the same manner; and the benediction concluding the whole solemn scene, is in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Nor is this all. The first words used at the time of imposing hands, imply an acknowledgment of the Trinity, and that the Bishop elect, is consecrated in that Holy name. The words--"Receive the Holy Ghost"--that is, the authority derived from the Holy Ghost, is an explicit declaration, that the commission is of divine [12/13] origin; for as the Holy Ghost is the third person in the Trinity, according to the doctrine of our Church, and of the Catholic Church, there must of necessity be a first and second person; and consequently, the whole office and consecration were performed in the name of the Trinity.
The power and grace of priesthood are derived from the Holy Ghost. He it was by whose anointing our Lord himself was invested with his mediatorial office. "And," says Archbishop Potter, "the authority and special grace, whereby the Apostles and Church officers execute their respective functions, are, in the same manner ascribed to the Spirit. This was expressed in the very form of the Apostle's ordination--"Receive the Holy Ghost." [* C. Govt.] This being the true state of the case, the consecration of Bishop Hobart is as valid as the consecration of the Apostles themselves.
Although it is not necessary to take any notice of what has been said on this subject in one of the public prints, yet, to show you to what gross misrepresentations, and puerile reasoning our opponents have had recourse, I will make a few observations on the strongest points which they have adduced.
The first thing that I shall notice is, a very incorrect statement in the public paper of February 4th, by a writer signing himself, A Churchman. He says, "But the necessity of giving these voluminous quotations is happily superceded by a late official acknowledgment, that Dr. Hobart's consecration is null and void, in consequence of the alleged omission; and it is proposed to consecrate him privately, whenever the requisite number of Bishops can be convened for that purpose."
Now to this, take the following letter from Bishop White to Bishop Hobart.
Philadelphia, January 30, 1812.
Right Rev. and Dear Sir,
You have given me the following information, concerning my omitting the name of the Holy Trinity, on the occasion of your consecration. [13/14]
"A report is now circulated, that Dr. Moore has received a letter from Dr. Pilmore; in which it is stated, that you acknowledged the omission to him; and deemed it of so much importance, that you were ready to come and join in a private consecration."
As to the acknowledgment, it must be on my faith in the testimony of others. On that ground I have no doubt of the fact; and suppose it must have been owing to my attention being drawn off by a gentleman outside of the rails; who, by a motion of his hand, notified, that one of my Right Reverend Brethren had not yet come forwards.
But as to my deeming the omission of the importance implied in the report, Dr. Pilmore distinctly remembers, that then and at other times, I declared to him an opinion directly to the contrary. In the conversation alluded to, the expedient was suggested by him, in consequence of a letter from New-York. My readiness to come to New-York for the purpose stated, originated in his suggestion; and hung on the condition of its being likely to prevent clamour; of which others and not we were the best judges.
It is said in one of your news-papers, that soon after the consecration, the hope was expressed by me, of the matter's passing unobserved. If I said this, it must have been owing to my reluctancy to being supposed to have wantonly altered the service, by a congregation nearly all strangers to me. Never did it cross my mind that any person would think the validity of the consecration affected by the omission, until informed of such a fancy some months after.
Your affectionate Brother,
In a subsequent letter of February 10th, speaking of the fact that in the reformed liturgy of Edward VI. the Trinity was not named at the time of imposing hands. Bishop White observes--"The inference is too obvious to be overlooked--that is, the argument brought against your consecration, applies equally to all the present Bishops in England. Scotland, and Ireland;" and he might have added, to every Bishop in the Christian Church.
 In the print alluded to, of January 1st, the following questions are asked.
1. Was Dr. Hobart consecrated in the name of William White, (the officiating Bishop,) or in the name of The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? To this silly question I shall answer by asking--Were Cranmer, Ridley, and others, in the reign of Henry VIII consecrated in the name of the presiding Bishops, or in the name of the Father, &c. Were the numerous Bishops in the reign of Edward VI and in the three successive reigns, consecrated in the names of the presiding Bishops, or in the name of the Father, &c.? Were the innumerable Bishops in the Greek and Roman Churches, consecrated the names of the ordainers, or in the name of the Father, &c.? Were all the Bishops in every age and every country, so far as we have historical documents, consecrated in he names of the ordainers, or in the name of the Father, &c.? Let our sagacious inquirer answer these questions at his leisure?
The next question is, "Were the last solemn words, [the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost] actually omitted in the service of consecration? Certainly not. They were several times used in the consecration service; but just at the time of imposing hands [I do not speak from my own knowledge] they were through inadvertently omitted.
The third question is, "Are these words essential to a valid consecration?" I answer, not in the smallest degree, at the time of imposing hands; for if they are, there never was a Bishop from the first consecration down to the present day.
In the paper of January 16th, another number appears, signed, "A Churchman." In that number are the following words--"Upon consulting the works of Bishop Beveridge, to whom your correspondent refers, I find the following passage; which ought to carry conviction to the bosom of every one who sets a proper value on the productions of that pious and learned prelate."
"The Bishop pronounceth the words, and so confers the order, not in his own name, but in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, whose [15/16] vicegerent he is, in ordaining persons to minister to his Divine Majesty."
These words are undoubtedly in Bishop Beveridge's third sermon; but they are not of the least value to our scrupulous Churchman. For--
If the Bishop meant to say, that it is essential to a valid consecration, that the ordainer ascribe the act, at the time of imposing hands, to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, then he destroyed his own Episcopal character, and that of the Church to which he belonged; for he knew very well, that the name of the Trinity was not used at the imposition of hands, till the reign of Charles II at which time it was added for the sake of greater solemnity. The sense therefore given by "A Churchman" to the words of Beveridge, by proving too much, according to a rule of logic, proves nothing. This consideration alone is decisive of the point.
But the words of Beveridge, do not imply any such thing as the Churchman would have them imply. He does not say that it is essential to a valid consecration, that, the Trinity be named when the Bishops impose their hands. He says, just what he would have said, when Cranmer, and Ridley, and others, were consecrated by the Roman Ordinal, which does not mention the Trinity at the time of laying on hands--what he would have said, when Cranmer ordained Bishops by the Reformed Ordinal of Edward VI which does not name the Trinity at that time--what, in short, he would have said, in every consecration down to the reign of Charles II.--that is, he would have said, that the Bishops were God's vicegerents, and that they acted in the name of the Trinity, because it was an avowed principle of his Church, and because the whole consecration service, from first to last, is performed in that holy name.
That Beveridge does not make the name of the Trinity at the time of imposing hands, essential to a valid ordination, is not only evident from what has been said, but also from the following passages in his second sermon. "And now were the keys of the kingdom of heaven, according to the promise before mentioned, given to the Apostles. And therefore our Lord, after he had breathed upon them, saying, 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost,' presently adds, [16/17] "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them ; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Here the Trinity is not named, and yet the Bishop observes, "Whereby all sacerdotal power was now conferred upon the Apostles, even whatsoever is necessary to the government and edification of the Church, to the world's end."
Speaking of the ordination of the seven Deacons, he says, the "seven being set before the Apostles, they prayed, and then laid their hands on them. By which imposition of hands, they received power, not only to look after the widows and poor; but also to baptize and preach the gospel. Yet the Trinity on that occasion was not named."--It is needless to quote any thing more from Bishop Beveridge.
The writer then observes that, "It is expressly ordered that the Bishop shall say these words." This sentence is printed in Italic, and connected as it is, you would suppose they are the words of Beveridge; but there are no such words in him, at least that I can see. But by whom is it expressly ordered? Certainly not by Christ or his Apostles. The Rubric indeed directs them to be said, but not on the principle of their being essential, for that principle, as I have before observed, would destroy Episcopacy altogether. The omission then is, if you please, unrubrical; but that is a totally different thing from being invalid--a distinction which this writer takes care never to make.
The Churchman next quotes Archbishop Potter, but with as much success as he quotes Bishop Beveridge. Potter's object is to prove the indelible character of holy orders; and this he does by showing that, both baptism and ordination devote the person baptized, and ordained, to the perpetual service of God; and as the minister of baptism acts in the name of God, so also does the minister of ordination. "Consequently," says the Archbishop, "since God has no where signified, that the character which he confers on persons admitted into orders, shall expire before their death; we might safely conclude, though we had no farther reason for it, that it is perpetual."--Now what has this to do with the present question? Bishop Hobart was as much consecrated by persons acting in the name of God throughout the whole service, [17/18] as the Archbishop himself was; and if the ordination of the former is not valid, most assuredly that of the latter was not; for Potter derived his Episcopate from those who were consecrated by the Ordinal of Edward VI, that is, were consecrated just as Bishop Hobart was.--What a shameful thing it is to garble passages, and give them a totally different sense from what the author intended!
The Churchman next quotes the Council of Seville; "which," says he, "understanding that a Bishop, at the ordination of one Priest and two Deacons, laid his hands upon them, but being troubled with sore eyes so that he could not read, a Priest did by his direction read the words of consecration; they judged the whole action to be void, and that the persons who should have been ordained did not receive consecrationis titulum sed ignominiae potius elogia--not the title of consecration, but a monument of ignominious irregularity, and therefore were not entitled to be reputed among the clergy."
I cannot conceive for what purpose this quotation is given. It has no more to do with the present question, than with the question, Is man a free agent, or a machine? The only proper inference is that which Bingham makes--This "shows that then they did not allow Bishops so much as to delegate or commission Presbyters to ordain in their name, but reserved this entirely to the Episcopal function." [* Vol. 1. p. 84] Did a Presbyter pronounce the words at the imposition of hands at the late consecration? The Churchman must certainly know that no such thing occurred.
Another writer, or probably the same, in the public print, which has been the vehicle of these learned disquisitions, comes forward in the genteel attitude of a Clincher. He argues that Bishop Hobart is not a valid Bishop, because the Rubric before the form of consecration requires, that no one shall be so accounted, unless he be admitted to his office "according to the prescribed form," and in this form, the name of the Trinity is required to be used at the imposition of hands.
Now, what is the construction which common sense would put upon these words of the Rubric? Obviously, that in all things essential, the use of the form is necessary [18/19] to constitute a valid Bishop. It would be in the highest degree absurd to contend that, the omission of things not essential, affected the validity of a consecration. If a Bishop should through forgetfulness, or inadvertency, omit a prayer, or part of a prayer, or change some of the words or phrases, the consecration would not be strictly "according to the form prescribed." And then, if Clincher be correct, the consecration would not be lawful. What is the consequence? Undoubtedly, that innumerable consecrations, or ordinations, have been invalid. For is it to be supposed that in innumerable instances, some omissions, or changes of words or phrases in the prescribed form, have not taken place? The only question then must be--Is naming the Trinity at the imposition of hands, essential to a valid consecration? In the foregoing pages it has been abundantly proved, both from Scripture and general practice in ancient and modern times, not to be so.
Thus then, even admitting the correctness of the statement of Clincher, his argument is weak and contemptible. But the fact is that with that shameful unfairness, by which he and his co-adjutors have attempted to impose upon the public, he has not quoted the whole of the sentence in the Rubric; but has omitted the very part which, at once, defeats his whole argument. The part which relates to this point is as follows:
"No man shall be accounted or taken to be, a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following." Thus far Clincher quotes. But he omits the words which immediately follow--"Or hath had episcopal consecration or ordination." From this it is evident that, the Rubric expressly admits episcopal consecration or ordination, according to any form. The object of the Church is to prevent ordination by Presbyters--let only Bishops do the business, and the form in the eye of the Rubric is of no value.
The Rubric is the same before the ordination offices of the Church of England. And if the use of the form in every particular be necessary to a valid consecration, then Bishop White and Bishop Provost are not valid Bishops. For parts of the office were omitted by the Archbishop of [19/20] Canterbury, in their consecration, without any legal authority. On this point, Bishop White in a letter to Bishop Hobart observes--"If the precise use of the words of the Form are essential to the consecration, I know not how mine and Bishop Provost's can stand. If you will look at the act of Parliament, under which the Archbishop consecrated, you will perceive that there were some minute points of a civil nature in the English service, not attended to in the act. Now I well remember, and have no doubt of Bishop Provost's remembering, that the Archbishop, as to these points, accommodated the service to the circumstances of this country."
I do not see any thing else worth noticing. It is now I think proved beyond all contradiction, that Bishop Hobart's consecration is as valid as that of any Bishop's in the Church of Christ.
And now, what shall we say of those divines, who have given themselves so much liberty on this subject? What would Cranmer, and Ridley, and Latimer, those martyred Bishops, say to them were they now living? And what a pity, our ingenious objectors cannot call up the shades of Cartwright, and Prynne, and Bostwick, and Neal, and give them the delightful intelligence, that by a nostrum lately invented, Episcopacy is completely destroyed. What stupid men were those bitter opposers of our Church never once to imagine, that King Edward's Ordinal was essentially deficient.
See what it is to possess rare genius!--
--illi galinae filii albae,
Nos viles pulli nati infelicibus ovis! [* Juvenal Sat. 13.]
--They are the white hen's chicks indeed!
And we, from sorrier eggs, a spurious breed!
But this is not all. It is not so much their want of information on the subject, which they have brought before the public that we complain of, the antidote to the poison being so easily administered; but it is the railing and bitterness which they have substituted in the place of modest inquiry, and candid disquisition. It is the unhallowed tempers [20/21] and passions, which are continually pouring out invective and abuse that we complain of. We complain of that petulence, which delights in wanton mischief--of that ribaldry, which loves to wound the feelings of the correct and virtuous--of that vanity, which swells with assumed importance; of that confidence which reposes on the figments of illusion;--in short, of all those bad principles which they have discovered, and which want no irritation but their own native depravity.
Never has man been more abused than Bishop Hobart. He, to whom, in the most solemn manner, the State and General Conventions gave the high recommendation which the Canons require, has been abused with a bitterness of invective, and a wantonness of malice, that has been scarcely ever equalled. But he knows full well that--
"No might, nor greatness in mortality,
Can censure 'scape: backwounding calumny,
The whitest virtue strikes."--
[*Mr. Jones and some others have propagated the story, that Doctor Hobart was not originally an Episcopalian, and this is echoed in a late number signed Tocsin. This, if true, is certainly no discredit to him. But the truth is that Doctor Hobart's parents were Episcopalians. He was baptized in his infancy by the Reverend Mr. Duche, then one of the Ministers of Christ Church, Philadelphia; and was confirmed by Bishop White, from whom he received Deacon's orders.]
I have now, Sir, given such proofs of the validity of Bishop Hobart's consecration, as will, I have no doubt, give you, and every reasonable man, entire satisfaction.
I am, with much esteem,
Your obedient humble servant,
P. S. It is almost necessary to apologize to the public for obtruding myself upon their notice on this occasion. So weak are the observations of "A Churchman" on this subject, that with difficulty I have prevailed on myself to make a reply. But such is the [21/22] assurance with which objections have been reiterated by that licentious writer, that it has been deemed, on the whole, expedient to point out their weakness, to save the uninformed from misconception and error.
February 17th, 1812.