[The following sermon--which is here given as a sample of Dr. Breck's teaching--was preached before the Convention of the Diocese of Minnesota, at the time of his bidding farewell to that Diocese for his new work of faith in California.]
IN addressing you to-day, my beloved Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, my object is not so much to expound a text as to present to you some of the great landmarks of the Catholic Church, which can never, without loss, become less than CHRIST, the Great Head of us all, made them.
They are landmarks primarily for the whole Church. Thence they descend, in regular gradation, and characterize the Church Catholic in particular countries for the distinct nations of the earth. And thence continuing to descend, the same Catholic features distinguish the Church of Provinces, and at length of Dioceses or individual Sees; and as we continue to individualize, we find it giving character to the Episcopal, parochial, and all educational and benevolent work; and indeed the Catholic Church for a dying world hath, for its humblest layman, features as distinguishing as it hath for the Cathedral of a Diocese.
The SEED of the woman, promised to the race of" man in the first Adam, was for the whole world. This was the normal state of the Church. It only became abnormal in the Israelitish Economy, to bring in again its normal state in the SECOND ADAM. And now we behold in CHRIST JESUS, "who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," the REGENERATOR of our race, typified in Adam, in the real and priestly Melchizedek, and in the Aaronical priesthood. We behold this SAVIOUR of the whole world making His Church Catholic to embrace all nations of men, and amply sufficient to save to the uttermost all who would come unto Him.
He chooses first His College of Apostles. He commissions' them to preach the Gospel, to disciple all nations, and to baptize them in the Name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST. He anoints them with the HOLY GHOST, in order to make their work for man's salvation, GOD'S work; and He pledges His Presence and aid to them to the end of the world. Herein was the grain of mustard-seed, the least of all seeds, which was to grow and overshadow the whole earth. And we must believe, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the GOD-MAN, who said that the gates of hell should never prevail against His Church, knew what He said, and knew of the necessity for saying it. And loyalty to CHRIST must make and keep us loyal to His Church. And this loyalty should be of the type, such as will embrace all that has ever been Catholic from the beginning. Otherwise we are in danger of narrowing down our particular National Church to the proportions of a Sect, and believe in it as the "Episcopal," and not, as it must ever be, the Catholic Church. Man's nationality must never lose sight of the common humanity of the races.
And now that, in the wonderful Providence of GOD over His Church, He has suffered us to become an American Catholic Church, we must never allow the first of these titles to cover up, much less deny, any of the great outline features of the second. It would betray great ignorance, if not worse, to maintain that the first planting of the Church on American soil was in Catholic harmony with the Great Commission of the LORD, or with the progress of His Church through the world, as it had been for ages after the Commission was given. And we, the children of the Church, are not to be afraid to look this thing steadily in the face; for whilst the vessel is all right in the main, we must not be so wedded to it, as to refuse to behold any of its deformity or losses, which it may have suffered in terrible storms of tempestuous wind and waves. And it is not to be presumed that we have yet reached that point wherein the full beauty of holiness hath been made to appear, or attained that masculine strength of power to fight the LORD'S battles, wherein the Church is "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."
When the Church was transplanted to America, it was unquestionably in a very defective state. There was not, with that first transplanting, any portion of that undying part of the original Commission. It was simply a Presbyter Church. It had no vitality to generate itself. If the mighty deep might not be passed for further transplanting, it must all have assuredly perished. It could only be regarded (as, alas I was true for more than two entire centuries) as members of the English Church in America. And so fast hold had this suicidal measure of England taken of this Western World (such as would not have been tolerated in the Old World across even the British Channel) that, even after the civil independence of this country was acknowledged by the whole civilized world, so difficult was it to find a slip even of the original Catholic trunk for a Continent, that by some, high in authority, it was seriously contemplated that we must be content with a mere Presbyter Superintendency! And when at length the most stinted supply was given us, it was done with the ill grace that we could have no more!--as though that original stock was still The Twelve only, and that, by taking from it, the strength of the Commission for the Old World necessarily was diluted.
After long years of waiting on Heaven-commissioned men, who ought to have acted for us with alacrity, we at length obtained the Episcopate for America! But the condition of things here had been so long that of a Presbyter-Church, it was not an easy matter to put the Bishop in his right place. He had been imported for only two things, Ordination and Confirmation! He had no cure in a Diocese beyond these, except he went down to the rank of a Priest, in which case he could become the Rector of a Parish. But he had no rights over any other parish, saving such as were in harmony with those things for which he had been imported. And so tenacious has been this uncatholic Presbyter-Church that, even to our day, the great work of our General Triennial Council has been to make Canons enough, and strong enough, to govern the Bishops!--as though they were a dangerous element in the Church, and to be guarded against, and tolerated only as a necessary evil. And so conscious has this Order become of its narrowed limits in spiritual authority, though enjoying, each of them, the territorial range of an Empire, that in turn they have been most unwilling to part with aught of their earthly domain, lest they should thereby be diminishing something of the power which a Presbyter-Church had given them.
This state of things, like an iceberg, held in being only by the cold with which it is surrounded, is only now beginning to dissolve into its original parts, by the life and heat of Missionary enterprise. In the year 1835, the General Convention sent forth the first Missionary Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper; but he was to go forth little different from any Presbyter Missionary, saving the vast extent of territory he was to travel over, viz.: Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Territories adjacent. It was expected that members of the second Order of the Ministry would join him; but it was likewise understood that he would distribute and locate these at isolated points, where young cities were likely to spring up, and the Bishop, as a Superintendent, would visit them in their isolation.
How different the present plan of operation with our lately appointed Missionary Bishops, may clearly be seen; and it will not be thought presuming if I allude somewhat to it, and to that which awakened it in the mind of the American Church.
The first aim of the new Bishop now, is centralization. He does not count his forces as formerly, and distribute them asunder as wide as the poles, but he looks over his field to find the proper fulcrum; and establishing himself upon it, he proceeds to rally his men at this centre, and here puts them to work, and from this they radiate, along with him, over the whole Diocese. This is vulgarly called "The Associate Mission;" but the thing itself has come so rapidly with this return to Catholic usage, that the alarm of Cathedral no longer shocks the sensibilities of the most nervous among us.
After eighty-five years of an American Episcopate, "Cathedral" and "Associate Mission" have become convertible terms. And the best compliment paid to Associate Missions, and the best hope of a return to a Primitive Episcopacy, is this very fact, that it was this development of Associate Missionary work that put the Bishop in his right place. Cathedral is the Bishop's See or Seat, and it does not depend on what that seat is made of, whether he can be seated there. It is not many years past when it was thought that Bishops must be lords, and that kings and Bishops were necessarily related to one another. But the American Episcopacy has proved the absurdity of this, and only now in the year 1867, do we find that a Bishop of Apostolic lineage can be securely and honorably seated within his Cathedra, that is built of wood at a cost of less than $3000! He is not ashamed to leave his Presbyter-Parish Church, however grand, for such a Bishop's See, when it is to be surrounded with all that blessed work, which alone is the glory of the Episcopal Throne.
The first Associate Mission of the American Church was planted at Nashotah in 1841, just twenty-six years ago, and met with contumely and reproach because it was a step aside from the solitary-presbyter system of this country. But when it was found that a threefold cord was not easily broken, they rallied in favor of the system, but attacked the faith it defended.
It began, necessarily, a presbyter Associate Mission, because there was not a Bishop in the Church who felt prepared to adopt what it taught. And now, after quarter of a century it has become rooted in the soil of the Church, is recommended by the General Convention, adopted by the Board of Missions, and hereafter every Bishop, who loves aggressive work, will have his Cathedral, which is essentially the association of laborers for all manner of Churchly work.
This associated plan for evangelizing a country such as ours, or any heathen land, was adopted by Nashotah because it was primitive and Catholic. It lacked an Episcopal head to live at once in the midst of it; but it never ignored such a head,--the rather lamented that it could have none: and yet, within three years, it drew the Bishop to it from a thousand miles away. And the same venerable Prelate is with it to this day!
The same is true of the Associate Mission for this Diocese. At once, its Presbyter members, in the most cordial manner, invited the Bishop of your "choice to become its head. And only the immensely momentous future of this Diocese can estimate the growth which is to come of it! So completely did its Presbyters understand the necessity for the Bishop to be its central sun, they told him there could not be two centres in the same circle; and had he founded his work elsewhere, they would have abandoned their own work at Faribault for it, or for some other field. And if we could look through the vista of another quarter of a century, any man would be called a visionary indeed, who should put upon paper the exact outgrowth of this Primitive, Apostolic, and Catholic system of Church extension.
True as it is that History reproduces itself, this is true, that the day is nigh at hand when all the working system of the Early Church will be back again, and necessarily so, to convert this age from the infidelity of Puritanism, and to reach the masses, that modern Episcopacy has never reached, and can never reach. No matter what our prejudices may have been or may be, we are a dying Branch of the True Vine whenever we turn aside from, and neglect, the uses of the Primitive aggressive system. Look at England's poor and middle classes, and where are they at this day? Look at lamentable Wales! They are as good as lost to the Church; and except the Church awakens to the uses of the means employed by the Primitive Church, barbarism will overrun that land! The only hope of the English Church to become the Catholic Church for England, is her return to the Primitive and Catholic work for the masses. Her empty cathedrals, a mockery of what they once were, must become Associate Missions again. Her parish churches must become the poor man's home, through the sympathy of Christ-like work, and to this must much be added to the "Dearly beloved Brethren" and a prosy sermon at our twelfth hour of the day!
Sects are thorns in the Church's side, to goad her on to duty. It is self-evident to any thinking mind, that for Religion to cover the ground of the masses, whether in Great Britain or in America, the sects are necessary, if the Church continues as contracted in her work as she has been. Her stiffened, corpse-like joints and bands have had until lately only the appearance of a highly-conservative and respectable denomination, This is alV that the masses have beheld in her. And it is a question to be settled by the Bishops and Clergy of the Church, whether we shall refuse the growth of the Church of Primitive times, and remain simply the balance-power between what is Puritanism and what is Romanism, or accept of that Catholic growth of this Church which brought whole nations, from the king to the peasant, into loving and loyal adherence to her.
As one of the senior Clergy of the Diocese, I may call your attention to some points of the upward growth of the Church in England and America in the last twenty-five years, and ask whether we should be willing to go back to the dead and heartless services of the Church in our childhood's days? I can distinctly call to mind the character of such services in my boyhood. The two church edifices I refer to, were in Pennsylvania, built of massive stone by the Colonists, and first ministered to by English Missionaries. As a boy, I worshipped in these buildings. As a man, I have visited the old churchyards which surround them, but the old churches were not there. Churches new, and altogether different in style, have been substituted. The question naturally arises, why was this done? Both churches were in rural districts and among a people proverbially stubborn against changes. It was not that the old churches were likely to crumble, for they were massive enough to last a century or two. It was not that the people had become worldly-minded, and wanted a modernized and fashionable-looking building. They go to church still, much as they did, in a plain sort of way, on foot many, and in country wagons! And their pastors are plain old-fashioned clergymen, as we might term them.
I remember several things about these old Pennsylvania churches. There were the high-backed pews, over which boys could not well look, although they could see the towering pulpit, reached by a steep ascent of stairs, and all surmounted by a sounding-board, which appeared necessary to bring the voice of the preacher down to the hearing of his people. At the opposite end of the church, and fully as high up, was a gallery, where was placed a hand-organ, which turned out about a dozen tunes, to fit to the different metres! This was not a church in the backwoods; but a church near Philadelphia, and called "All Saints," and where Bishop Hobart was once Rector. As for chancel and altar, they were so contracted and small as not to be known to be there or to have any Christian significance, saving to the most practised eye. The Communion alms were received once a month at the doors, as the congregation left the church. And as for font, an earthen bowl, placed for the occasion on the LORD'S table, was considered quite in taste for the Sacrament of Baptism. Chanting was unknown, and so were a good many other things. The Christmas decorations were highly suggestive of something beyond the comprehension of boys, for they were a few twigs stuck in the high-backed pews, where there happened to be openings or cracks to receive them! All these and many other things happened in the dark ages of the Anglican and American Churches! What could, spiritually and doctrinally, have been darker, compared with the light we now enjoy, I know not.
Now the question is, Would these Pennsylvania Episcopalians go back to the meeting-house-looking churches of twenty-five years ago? Would they be willing, for any pretence whatever of religion, to go back to the naked walls, and the white glass windows, and barricaded pews, and the three elevations of LORD'S table, reading-desk, and pulpit, and the lugubrious psalm-singing, of those days? Why, the very sects about us would ridicule such backsliding! They, too, have had their growth, and thank GOD for it, and it is the Church's glory that she has led the vanguard in this holy aggression, for had she remained in her stiffened conservatism, she would have become--what was fast threatening her--a body without life, spiritually dead. And this was the continuous thrust of the sects,--that she had no vital piety in her.
But who in these days hears any such aspersions from any intelligent people? Who hears, from Presbyterian pulpits, onslaughts any longer upon "forms of prayer?" Is it not notorious, that their preachers are craving after liturgical worship, and have already in use, in many places, rubrical and other observances, with borrowed plumes? They may go on and borrow more, and this they will do; and we will lend to them all they require, and ask nothing back: on the contrary, the. Catholic Church will ever have enough left for her children, even though they should take to themselves the whole of our Sacramental as well as Liturgical system. Neither can they, in turn, refrain from borrowing; for if they should refuse the aesthetical, their people would abandon them more rapidly than now, and find brotherhood with CHRIST in His Church.
Who longer hears from Methodism objections to an educated Ministry? Have they not departed from their simplicity in many things? Would they not be offended by our calling their places of public worship "Meeting Houses?" Do they longer style the organ "the Devil's bag-pipe?" Are they not becoming fond of "the dim religious light" down the broad aisle? Are not their human inventions of anxious seats and the like beginning to yield to the teaching of CHRIST'S own Sacraments? Look even here in the West at the rapid return of all the sects to the Christmas observances for children. It reminds me of a fact of recent occurrence, wherein a Congregationalist preacher went to one of our Clergy as Christmas drew on, and asked him for some story to tell his Sunday-school children at their Christmas Tree, "for," said he, "you know we have adopted your customs, but I am unacquainted with the stories of the olden times for Christmas." "Oh, yes!" replied the clergyman, "I have just the story you want, and it is an old one, and I wonder you have never seen it, for it is in a very old book." And with this he took up the Bible and turned to the second chapter of St. Luke's Gospel.
And who is there in the whole land that now mistakes Good Friday for the Birth-Day of CHRIST, or Easter for the Crucifixion?
I say, beloved, there is an awakening, and we must thank GOD for it, throughout the nation, for higher views and sounder views of the Doctrines and Worship of the Catholic Church.
I have purposely omitted Discipline, in the sense of the spiritual teaching and control of the individual members of the Church. Hut this must come too, and undoubtedly will come. Now that we have the Church in its rightful ecclesiological position, whereby the face and not the back of the living worshipper is turned towards the East, where CHRIST is to appear at His second Coming;--now that the Altar is in its rightful place, and preaching no longer supersedes the Sacraments;--now that everything is chaste and beautiful in the House of GOD: it becomes a solemn charge with the Clergy that they rightly instruct the people in not only the significance of these things, but in their practical uses; and that they are not things outside of themselves, like pictures, but things to be incorporated with themselves, and they with them. If CHRIST is in us, and we in CHRIST, the same is to be true of His Body, the Church. There is not a Christian symbol that is not the teacher of a great living truth; and when we symbolize that truth, we do it in order the better to imbibe the truth itself: so that, whilst there is a return to Catholic doctrine and Primitive worship, we must have, to make these vital, a living personal return to Discipline.
And in this I desire, beloved brethren of the Clergy, to-day to leave with you my fraternal parting admonitions. You have a glorious Diocese in which to work. You are blessed with a Bishop who loves and labors for growth. You are yourselves a body of workers, of which the Church is not ashamed. You have everywhere a people, willing listeners and willing learners of the good old paths of the Church. And now your duty is to teach them how to walk in these paths. The Pulpit was once thought to be sufficient. The people were everywhere impressed with the notion, that oratory was the grand instrumentality for the conversion of souls, and this was the basis of the price paid for filling the pulpit. But that conspicuous pulpit has been lowered from its towering height, and in the place thereof the Sacraments have gone up. This true aesthetical teaching of CHRIST is now to be followed up by a like true teaching of the Sacraments, with the subordinate teachings of the Pulpit. This is to be done by Discipline. To know the great need of this, it is readily discoverable by looking into the common practice of the Clergy in the admission of persons to Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Communion. In the first place, the Adult Baptism and Confirmation are so blended in point of time, as not unfrequently to be both received by persons upon the self-same day and even at the same service, as though there were many gradations in the Christian life, and the people must be hurried through them. There is not a human society nor a Masonic lodge in which lifeless degrees are thus rapidly administered. But here are divine appointments, full of life and of eminently progressive teaching, given to men and women on the merest expression of faith, before they can tell, in spiritual things, their right hand from their left. The Clergy take too much for granted. These unbaptized people are uneducated in the school of CHRIST, and assuredly it is dishonoring CHRIST to hasten such with this rapidity from the world into the Church! And the evil stops not here; but, without any direct teachings of the Eucharist, they are again rushed into the VERY PRESENCE of their LORD; and, without knowledge or discernment of the LORD'S BODY, we endanger their souls with the peril of which St. Paul speaks when he warns us: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself, not discerning the LORD'S BODY." So that, beloved brethren of the Clergy, we have a very grave responsibility here, and one that we should look well in the face, and not excuse ourselves, on vain pleas, this unnecessary haste. I think brethren will bear me witness, that it is not unfrequently true, that the Pastor does not know, even the night before the Confirmation, fully who are to be confirmed; nay, more, that he often has not the names of the class fully made out to present to his Bishop, until the very hour of the service. It does seem to me, that this overhaste must be the occasion of many becoming sickly and dead to the truth of the religion of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. There is a foolish pride, too often, in the endeavor to present a large class for Confirmation; and, in the hurry, many are admitted who know next to nothing of the Doctrines and Worship of the Church. It must needs be so when, within one week's time, a man finds himself admitted to all the highest means and privileges of grace. The law of the English Church is, I think, still this, that no adult shall receive Baptism until examination hath been had by the Bishop; and our law in the Rubric is, too, very explicit: "When any such Persons as are of riper years are to be Baptized, timely notice shall be given to the Minister; that so due care may be taken for their examination, whether they be sufficiently instructed in the Principles of the Christian Religion; and that they may be exhorted to prepare themselves, with Prayers and Fasting, for the receiving of this Holy Sacrament."
Now, instead of this patient teaching and training and discipline, the man is told only in the most vague terms, of what he must do upon the embrace of the Christian life by Holy Baptism. And instead of any discipline before the assumption of the Baptismal vows in Confirmation, the Pastor gives a few lectures, often in a tongue not understood by the people, on account of their great ignorance of the first principles of the doctrine of CHRIST, and without the first question, put personally to the candidates, although the Catechism is there, in that Preface, stated to be necessary to be learned. There may be feelings, religious sentiment, good faith, on the part of those who come to be confirmed: but knowledge they have not; and once in the Church on such a basis, it is only the rare exception that knowledge comes after. Too often, presumption or a cold neglect of Religion is the legitimate fruit.
How much better for the people, how much better for the clergyman, how much better for the honor of religion, that they should be held back, and be encouraged to receive the full culture of CHRIST as a disciple and learner in His schools! How often is it that very doubtful Baptism (on many grounds so, other than the invalidity of Lay Baptism) is accepted, and the person thus irregularly or invalidly baptized is asked: "Do ye here, in the Presence of GOD, and of this Congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that ye made, or that was made in your name, at your Baptism? "--when neither they, nor any one else, ever made any promises at all for them at Baptism! The very allowable practice, where the foreign Baptism or its regularity is not questioned, is this;--let such persons come forward, and make the promises, and be received into the Congregation by the usual method of signing them with the sign of the Cross. This at least makes the question at Confirmation a valid and a meaning one.
This subject of Discipline has been the great study and practice of all my Ministry; and I am convinced more and more of its importance and necessity. It is useful equally for the learned and the unlearned, for the children of the Church and for Catechumens from the Sects. My rule has been, to bring all to the stature of "little children," in order that all may, through the gate of humility before GOD, enter His Fold. Neither riches, nor position in society, nor learning, can ever excuse this requirement of the LORD of the Church to become like unto little children. And in all my experience, I have never found a person to refuse this Discipline, which in its completeness requires, for each Sacrament, nine weeks of weekly personal instruction by the Priest, and all this while, on the part of the Candidate, a daily use of appointed Scriptural readings, appointed self-examination, and appointed prayer: and this preparation is wholesome to the soul in a degree beyond any earthly computation. The satisfaction to the clergyman, that he has faithfully and fully prepared his people, is one that is beyond all price.
If the' Clergy of one Diocese should thus resolve to instruct their people for ten years, agreeably with one such strong Discipline, it would give a depth of religious character to the Church of that Diocese, such as would do more for reaching the masses, now dying in sin and in utter ignorance of the CHRIST of their souls, than all the preaching of a century. I am not afraid of any contradiction, when I say, no five clergymen of the present day--aye, and no three clergymen--can be found, who agree upon any certain method of instructing candidates for the Holy Sacraments. They begin by guess-work, and go on guessing and neglecting to the end of their ministry. I have heard a Bishop ask learned Doctors of Divinity how they prepare persons for Confirmation, and, after a great deal of hesitancy, they replied with a vagueness that brought shame to my cheeks. The Church may increase numerically, by reason of the people's disgust with sectarian excesses and their unscriptural requirements, for people will have some Religion: but there is that increaseth, and yet scattereth; and, unless Discipline is looked to, it will yet be found so, to the sorrow of the Clergy.
The irregularity and insufficiency of preparation for Baptism and Confirmation are bad enough; but to admit to the Sacrament of the Blessed Body and Blood of the Redeemer without any definite preparation, beyond a few words of explanation and advice, is soul-ruinous to a degree little imagined by the otherwise faithful Parish Priest. Where is the clergyman that knows, before the Celebration, who will receive the Eucharist? The English law requires, if I mistake not, that such as intend to communicate shall beforehand notify the Pastor of their intention. If this has become a dead letter in the English Church, it is only an added shame and an added danger, in laying aside this vital Discipline. The Scandinavian Church requires all who intend to commune, to meet the Priest in an open (general) confession of sins before the Sunday, receive godly counsel, advice, and absolution (even to an imposition of Priestly hands), which I have witnessed in this country,--the actor being a Swedish Priest, and the venerable Prelate of Wisconsin present and consenting to it, prior to his own administration of the Sacrament
What are the facts of the case in default of this Discipline? The American Bishop and the American Priest know nothing beforehand,--who is to receive and who is not to receive. In a large parish, it is purely accidental with the Priest as to the knowledge he may have of the frequency and infrequency of the participation of many of the Communicants. A year, and years, may pass by without a participation, or with very irregular participation. And yet the charge at our Ordination "is a very solemn and indeed awful one, when we are told:--"The Church and Congregation whom you must serve, is the Spouse and the Body of CHRIST. And if it shall happen that the same Church, or any member thereof, do take any hurt or hindrance by reason of your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue. Wherefore, consider with yourselves the end of the Ministry towards the children of GOD, towards the Spouse and Body of CHRIST; and see that ye never cease your labor, your care and diligence.......that there be no place left among you, either for error in Religion, or for viciousness in life."
Nor is the danger of infrequency of participation the only one that appertains to the LORD'S SUPPER, but there is another very grave one, and--in my judgment as a Priest--the gravest of all: the hasty and dangerous approach to the Sacrament on the part of thoughtless, and worldly-minded, and uninstructed communicants. How impossible is it for the Priest to refuse the Body and Blood of CHRIST to a person who already is kneeling at the Chancel! It is too great a violation of his own pious thoughts at the time, as well as distractive to the whole Service, to pause now! The simple fact is this:--by reason of our neglect of Discipline (which any Bishop and Synod of a Diocese can reinstate) we are compelled to administer the Eucharist to any and every one who presents himself there, no matter what may be his error in Religion or viciousness of life.
And it is not the truth that we, as Priests, are irresponsible to whom we will administer, and that the responsibility before GOD rests with the person who presents himself! This may be a get out of the difficulty; but it removes not an iota of the difficulty nevertheless. It is there an inconsistency, of the same measurement, and worse, than that which accepts of the Baptism of every unauthorized and heretical man, who presumes to intrude into the sacred precincts of Religion! Not one such, who dares to baptize, but likewise dares to preach, and dares to administer the LORD'S Supper, and the government of CHRIST over His Church. And we, through faint-heartedness, accept the baptism; and along with it we are compelled, on the same ground of timidity, to receive persons, so baptized, to the Eucharist, whilst we are powerless to exercise Discipline over them. The early Church was right in her protection of the DIVINE MYSTERIES by excluding all uncommunicate persons from being present even, at their administration. Our return to the primitive administration of this holy solemnity, would indeed protect it from all the difficulties we now experience. The clergyman would know beforehand all who would communicate, and it would impress the people with the obligations and needful preparation for participation, such as at present nowhere exists. The obligation of the Church is, to offer Salvation to all sorts and conditions of men; but Discipline for the Sacraments alone will teach and impress them.
And now, beloved, bear with me in a few closing words on the subject of reaching the masses. There are instrumentalities, such as the organization of men and women for a variety of pious works, which alone will enable us to reach the people of our own or any country. This aggressive step is rapidly impressing every thoughtful mind of the Church. An opposition of twenty-five years ago has all vanished. There must be Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods to meet the wants of the people. Impossible is it for isolated Pastors to do all the work required for the ministry of souls. There must be helps from every possible source, to meet the multiplied forms of wickedness that is in the world. Holy women must be organized. Men--clerical and lay--must be organized. The orphans of the land must be cared for. The sick and the aged poor must be looked after. Asylums, Hospitals, and Parish Schools must be largely cared for, by the self-denying and devoted lives of such as would live wholly for CHRIST. The world is to be won to CHRIST by these manifest and striking proofs of love for the souls of men. The wages of such will be paid them in the world to come.
And here let me speak a word about that which is practical for every Parish Clergyman and Missionary,--such as he can adopt as his own private organism for his own special work, in whatever portion of the Vineyard his lot may be cast. We want that which can be inaugurated before there is money, and where there is no money. We believe there is the material ready at hand everywhere throughout the land, such as the Parish Priest or Missionary may employ to accomplish the great ends of the Church of CHRIST, for relieving sufferers, whether from spiritual, mental, or bodily maladies. This material is Christian Discipline, whether of men for brotherhoods or women for sisterhoods. It is the visible Body of CHRIST, wherever there are the two or three disciples, enlivened by the Spiritual PRESENCE of their LORD. This is, after all, the real, living CHRIST for a world lying in sin. The Parish itself is only an organism of this living CHRIST for a living end. But Vestrymen and Wardens, such as they have been, are too much of a mere corporation for attaining the fulness of spiritual ends for the masses. Now that which is nearer the sympathy of CHRIST for fallen humanity, is the Brotherhood and Sisterhood. Both are practical now. They are practical everywhere. They are wanted now as they have never been wanted so much before. The Church of the Nineteenth Century must thus, through Discipline and by the organism of all its parts, reach the masses, if it would attain at all unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of CHRIST for a dying world.
By organizing the communicants, and by districting the Parish, and by planning work, every feeble member of the Parish will be known and cared for, and will have something to do; and like the feeble and less honored members of this body of ours, they will receive honor in return. The poor will be found out. The sick will be visited. The profane and the ungodly will be warned. The neglected of the street will be invited. And thus every soul of the cure within the Parish bounds will be addressed by the clergyman, or by some of the people who represent him; and in so doing, the Parish and the Priest will have reached the ends of that Divine Institution on earth, called The CHURCH of the LIVING GOD!
In conclusion, in now going forth from you, I go with the blessed consciousness that I leave a field and a fold at unity in itself. The Bishop is, as he ought to be, the chief Missionary of the Diocese. He has your own love, as he has mine, for the much solemn truth we have learned from his earnest lips. For one, I can truly say, my indebtedness to him for deeper insight into my poor sinful heart, can only be repaid by giving to the DIVINE MASTER of us all, yet greater devotion to the upbuilding of that Kingdom among Men, for which CHRIST both bled and died a Ransom on the Cross. Your own estimate of the Episcopal Head of this Diocese has not been concealed from him or the Church at large. You and your people must be ever the Aaron and the Hur, to hold up his hands under every burden which threatens to crush him to the earth. In thus strengthening him, you will strengthen a Diocese already the glory of the Church. And, my brethren of the Clergy, let us remember that rest ought not to be expected or sought for by us on this side of the grave. All toil and all self-denial and suffering here will be amply repaid us by the Rest--the Rest prepared for the Saints in Glory,--which shall be awarded to all who aim, as the Minister of GOD must ever aim, at filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of CHRIST in our flesh, for His BODY'S sake, which is the CHURCH. And now, &c.
J. LL. B. June, 1867.