STANFORD AND SWORDS, 137, BROADWAY
 "THE ONLY REALLY STRONG OBJECTION TO THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, IS THE INCONSISTENCY OF THE LIVES AND ACTS OF ITS PROFESSORS, WITH THE TRUTHS THEY PROFESS TO BELIEVE."
"THE TRUE GLORY OF THE CHURCH IS FREEDOM FROM THE ABUSES BOTH OF AUTHORITY AND OF LIBERTY, SO THAT THERE SHALL BE NO USURPATION TO OPPRESS, AND NO NEEDLESS SCHISM TO DIVIDE, WHILE THERE SHALL PREVAIL, AT THE SAME TIME, THE UNION OF HOLINESS AND BROTHERLY LOVE, SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY, THE PURSUIT OF PEACE, AND THE DEDICATION OF THE BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT TO GOD."
 "WE ARE ALL FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE SAME BODY MYSTICAL, WHEREOF JESUS CHRIST IS THE HEAD; NOW AS THERE IS A SYMPATHY IN THE BODY NATURAL BETWEEN THE MEMBERS, SO OUGHT IT BE AMONGST CHRISTIANS; FOR WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST AND MEMBERS IN PARTICULAR AS THE APOSTLE SPEAKS, 1 COR. xii., 26, 27. WHAT A STRANGE UNSEEMLY THING WERE IT FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY TO MAKE AN INSURRECTION ONE AGAINST ANOTHER! FOR THE HAND TO PLUCK OUT THE EYE; OR FOR ONE HAND TO CUT OFF ANOTHER! ALIKE UNSEEMLY IS IT FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNITED TOGETHER IN THE SAME BODY OF CHRIST, TO BE DIVIDED IN THEIR AFFECTIONS OR PRACTICES, OR TO REND AND TEAR ONE ANOTHER. THIS HATH BEEN THE GREAT SIN AND UNHAPPINESS OF OUR DAYS; ONE LIMB OF CHRIST HATH TORN OFF ANOTHER, AS A LIMB OF ANTICHRIST; THE WEAK HAVE CENSURED THE STRONG; AND THE STRONG DESPISED THE WEAK; AND, UPON SUCH PETTY DIFFERENCES IN JUDGMENT AND OPINION HAVE ARISEN SUCH VAST BREACHES IN LOVE AND CHARITY; AS IF IT WERE SUFFICIENT GROUND FOR QUARREL THAT ONE LIMB IS NOT JUST OF THE SAME MAKE, SIZE, AND PROPORTION WITH THE OTHERS. FOR SHAME, CHRISTIANS! LET US ALL WHO HOLD THE SAME HEAD, CHRIST JESUS, BE ALL UNITED TOGETHER IN THE SAME SPIRIT, AND EXERCISE MUTUAL LOVE AND FORBEARANCE. OR ELSE, BELIEVE IT, IF THE SHEEP DIVIDE AMONGST THEMSELVES AND SEPARATE AND SCATTER, THE GREAT SHEPHERD WILL SEND IN THOSE DOGS OR WOLVES AMONG THEM, THAT WILL MAKE THEM RUN TOGETHER AGAIN."
 SERMON ROMANS XIV. 19.
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify another."
WE are here met together, brethren of the clergy and of the laity, to take counsel, and, peradventure, to act in a matter which must exert a mighty power for weal or for woe upon the coming history of this Diocese. I cannot doubt that we have come up hither with the Apostle's desire glowing in our hearts, even if it have not already found its expression from our lips.
The whole chapter with which the text is connected seems to me peculiarly adapted to our present condition. It utters counsels and warnings never out of season, but now especially seasonable: counsels and warnings which the members of a Church amongst whom there have been serious differences of opinion and painful collisions should meekly hear and devoutly ponder. This chapter, says one of our best practical commentators, "rightly understood, made use of and lived up to, would set things to rights and heal us all." God in his boundless [5/6] mercy grant that our thoughts may now tend to so blessed a consequence.
A thorough examination of the whole of the Apostle's argument, fitting and useful though it were, could not be accomplished within the allotted hour; nor would it consist with due regard to chiefer points, on which I shall pray your indulgent attention. Some few observations, however, to set forth the connexion of my text with the whole chapter, will aid us in its direct application to ourselves.
The Apostle Paul, addressing converts at Rome, would naturally, in the course of his Epistle, allude to disputes or difficulties that troubled their social life, and would interpose his advice and authority to remove such hindrances to peace. The pretext for want of unanimity and brotherly love between the members of the Church in the imperial city was this. The new-made Christians consisted of two distinct classes of persons who were originally widely separated, namely, the converts from Judaism, and those who had once been Gentiles and idolaters. The first brought with them many opinions and practices of the old faith, touching the observance of Holy-days and abstinence from certain kinds of animal food, while the latter held all these things in contempt. The Gentiles had not, like the Jews, been taught from their youth to revere the Passover, Pentecost, new moons, or the feast of Tabernacles, nor had they been accustomed to regulate their diet by [6/7] the law of Moses. They bought their meat openly in the market-place, alike regardless whether it had been slaughtered by the humane process prescribed in the Mosaic ritual, or whether it had been first offered in sacrifice before an idol temple. Hence, therefore, arose altercations between these two descriptions of converts, who were yet under the influence of early association, and did not understand the fullness of the freedom of the Christian covenant. The Jewish disciple would inveigh bitterly against the Gentile as a law breaker, a contemner of sacred seasons and a friend to idols. But the Gentile would reply, thou art a superstitious slave to worn-out ceremonies. The Apostle, therefore, with words of wisdom and peace, strives to heal these unhappy wounds, and to forestall contention by enlightening the minds and consciences of the conflicting parties. He shows that they were at variance upon questions of no vital importance, and that the practice of each individual might be safely regulated by his own conscience. "One believeth that he may eat all things;" for under the gospel there is no longer a distinction between things clean and unclean. "Another, who is weak," who has not this clear and strong conviction, lest he should offend in the matter of meats, "eateth herbs." "One man esteemeth one day above another," he keeps up the ancient system of festivals and fasts; "another esteemeth every day alike."
As then liberty of choice was permitted in these [7/8] particulars, neither Christ, nor the Church to which he had given His own power for discipline, having prescribed any rules in regard to them, "every man was to be fully persuaded in his own mind." But this liberty, though an absolute right, for his use of which no man could be judged by his brother, but by God alone, was yet to be subject to the end of Christianity, the greater charity. This paramount law knows no reckless disregard of the opinions or even the weaknesses of our brethren. "If, therefore, thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably." Remember his soul and its price. "Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."
This is the enlarged, unselfish, generous rule by which mere rights and privileges are to be interpreted and exercised. In things indifferent let each entertain his own opinion, but when he comes to action let him violate no charity. This law demands even reverence for the scruples, the prejudices, and the temptations of our weaker brethren. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink;" its life is not in a system of outward observances, but it is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,"--righteousness, or the being justified through faith in the atoning blood of Christ,--peace, such as Christ gave when He said, "My peace I give unto you;" and such as He prayed for to the Father, when he said "that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may he one in us;"--joy in the Holy Ghost, that spiritual joy shed abroad in all [8/9] sanctified hearts by the influences of the Blessed Spirit. These are the foundation, and whoso builds hereupon, edifieth the body of Christ.
Upon a foundation, then, so broad, reasonable, and comprehensive, does the Apostle ground his exhortation, "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace and the things wherewith one may edify another."
Peace in the Church of Christ has been, therefore, from the earliest times, the desire, hope, and prayer of the faithful. It is an object of contemplation thus devoutly cherished by the true disciples of the blessed Redeemer, not only as congenial with their hallowed affections, but as giving the promise of higher degrees of spiritual edification. That a sincere and well-established peace, obtained without concessions destructive of doctrinal truth or godly discipline, would both extend the foundations, and elevate and adorn the superstructure of the Church, there can be no doubt. But thus far it has pleased God to suffer his work to be carried on by other means; sometimes even by the battle of the warrior and by garments rolled in blood. There have indeed been periods when the angry sounds of controversial warfare have ceased over portions, nay, throughout the domain of Christendom. But this seeming peace has proved a baneful slumber, and while, its torpors have weighed upon the spiritual life of the Church, the enemy has been actively undermining, destroying, and building up again with strange materials, [9/10] specious to look at, but unsound and unsafe; and thus the venerable edifice has been transformed, in part, if not through its whole extent, into a palace of superstition. After a while zeal for God's House kindling in the hearts of the "few found faithful," has spread abroad and roused the age to bitter controversy, and even cruel warfare. During such seasons false defences have been thrown down, foundations have been re-examined with jealous scrutiny, gilded but rotten portions have been torn away, and replaced by blocks hewn after the similitude of the chief corner-stone, which had never been shaken. Thus a temple has been reared, less extensive, indeed, and less gorgeous than that palace of lies, but firmer, safer, and after the pattern showed in the Mount. So the spiritual like the earthly Jerusalem has required for its builders warrior-workmen. When Nehemiah, in obedience to the Divine command, set about restoring the walls of Zion, he was compassed about by jealous enemies who conspired together to hinder the work. Stone after stone was quarried and lifted to its place amidst threatenings and strife; and Salem, whose name is Peace, again became beautiful and strong through the labors of men ready at any moment for the battle. "They that builded on the wall, and they, that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held a weapon. For the builders every one had his sword by his side, and so builded."
 Is a state of warfare, then, we may ask in sorrow and dismay, the ordained and unalterable condition of the Church's growth, purity and permanence? Are we for ever doomed to despair of the time when its members, while enjoying around and within them the blessings of peace, shall live to build up one another in their most holy faith? We cannot so believe--we will not thus despair. Peace and edification are not of necessity antagonistic states of the Redeemer's Kingdom. Else would he have borne the title Prince of Peace? Would he have left to his followers a fallacious legacy--"Peace I leave with you--my peace I give unto you?" This, indeed, in its first significance is a personal bequest, and has reached and consoles multitudes, who, once at war with heaven, have been atoned by the blood of the cross, but in its large and ultimate meaning, this heritage of the saints has not yet been enjoyed. It is a legacy deferred, and to the intent the Church should not despond through long delay, the Divine Benefactor gave emphatic and timely warning: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a sword." These words, so contradictory in their literal meaning to his gracious promise, when translated out of their ancient idiom, are only the prophecy of what has come to pass, and of what must still continue on the earth while the conflict is pending between truth and error, righteousness and sin.
In view, then, of the past history of the Church, [11/12] and of its actual state, questions of vast moment touching the unity of faith, discipline and worship being the subjects of warm controversy, have we any ground to expect, and may we be encouraged to follow after peace and edification?
To this question I am prepared, without all doubt; to reply, that though the prospect of so cheering a result to Christendom may be ever so far distant, and though to indulge such a wish may seem almost like hoping against hope, yet not so when our attention centres upon that more limited section in which we are, and wherein our duties are to be discharged. Our unceasing prayer must be the echo of our blessed Lord's, that all who believe in his name may be one. But while the prayer itself may cover the world, our labors and influence can reach only a small part of that field. That part, for this time, is our own Diocese. Within these limits then, are the elements of discord, so many and irreconcileable, that we must despair of united action and co-operation, in carrying forward the work entrusted to us? God forbid. There are yet measures of conciliation that have not been tried to the uttermost; mutual concessions that have not been frankly and fearlessly ventured upon; efforts which have not as yet been boldly put forth. And while we have all, without doubt, cherished the sentiment which may be drawn from the text, as a hope, we have not received it, in its full import, as an exhortation to duty. We are not to wait listlessly for peace, or be ready meekly [12/13] to accept it when offered, but we are to follow after it. And this word follow after is feeble compared with the strong original. We must not simply follow after peace, as leading us the way, we must pursue her, as an object of chase; and if even she seem to fly from us, we must still press forward, nor stop until we behold her face, and rest at her feet.
This, then, is the race that is now set before us. We, too, are compassed about with a great cloud, not only of heavenly, but also of earthly witnesses; the communion of saints above and below. Doth it not behoove us, therefore, to "lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and to run with patience, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith"? What are these weights, and what is this besetting sin, that cripples and holds us back from the pursuit of peace? Are not the weights individual opinions fondly entertained, but which form no part of the faith; and practices in themselves indifferent, yet injurious as offending the consciences of weaker brethren? And the sin that doth so easily beset us, is it not the temper of mind we bring to the discussion of questions whereon we differ?
In considering the first of these topics, it may not perhaps be necessary, but it is safe, to premise that in the successful pursuit of peace no man can be required, nor should he consent, in order to render his course easier to himself or more acceptable to his fellows, to throw aside any principle which he conscientiously [13/14] holds. His principles he must carry with him throughout, nor drop them for a moment, and in respect to these Christian fellowship demands mutual tolerance. But I will ask, have not the causes of our disagreements, in many instances, arisen upon questions that ought not to be considered as fundamental, but which should rather be placed in the same category with those disputes which the Apostle Paul sought to allay amongst the Roman converts? Such are differences of opinion and practice as to the arrangements for celebrating Divine worship, and as to the appropriate dress for the altar or the pulpit. Are these points upon which a Christian brotherhood should be split into opposite factions and go to war? Should the great truths of salvation be placed in jeopardy by such external observances? Is not our individual choice in such matters a part of the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and upon which his Church has put no restraint? These, it seems to me, are to be examined by the rules laid down by St. Paul touching meats and days. If it be weakness on the one hand to be scandalized by such practices, is it not want of charity on the other to be pertinacious in maintaining them? Decide these questions as to their propriety and their conformity with ancient custom which way you please, and what article of faith is endangered thereby? Let us listen to the suggestions of one of the most learned and pious prelates of our mother Church. "So long as there is sound agreement in fundamental truths [14/15] and in the simplicity of the gospel, we ought rather to deny our wits and to silence our disputes in matters merely notional and curious, which have no necessary influence unto faith and godly living, than by spending our precious hours in such contentions for gain of a small truth to shipwreck a great deal of love."
Other differences there are between us similar to those I have noticed, but which it is needless to enumerate. Why have they been magnified into an importance which they do not deserve? Let us hear the answer of a presbyter of the Church of England, in his valuable treatise upon Parochial work. His authority with some would perhaps acquire weight and by others would be more lightly esteemed, when he is acknowledged to be a co-worker with the men foremost in that movement which takes its name from the University of Oxford. His expostulations and reproofs can originate in no unkind feeling, as they are expressly addressed to and designed for his own associates. But whatever be his relations in the Church, or his motives in writing, if his words be not words of truth and soberness, let them fall unheeded. "There seem to be," he says, "some striking defects in the character of those clergy who have aided the Church movement of our own day, which call for a passing remark in such an essay as this. There is a want of manliness in many, and that bold independent pursuit of the great object which characterizes the men of the world; there is an attention [15/16] to minutiae, a singularity of regard to minor points, a frittering away of the power of their minds in conventional expressions and practices which tend to lower the general tone and cast of the man; and the form which the character results in, is very objectionable to that peculiarly manly spirit which marks the English people and the English poor. The use of conventional phrases will always tend to produce this result; it shuts up the moral and mental tendencies within too close and rigid limits, which destroy that boldness which is an essential feature of true Christian manliness. The whole life of discipline and rule, and the being bound down by dogmatic theology, tends to reduce within limits that kind of independence of mind and thought which characterizes the world; and this is in itself wholesome and healthy; but there is no need to dwarf and cripple the energies and character by the recognition of limitations and forms which are not essential, by which originality of conception, boldness of action, and freedom of thought, are crippled and nearly destroyed; it is a striking and painful fact that we find almost less originality and bold individual action among the clergy than any other body of men; a greater willingness to tread in paths marked out by custom, even when that custom is manifestly weak and infirm; or when any step is taken towards a more original line, it too often ends in a result in which the smaller and less bold parts of the moral constitution are called into play. The clergy have [16/17] not got their position in the world, and are not gaining the amount of respect they should. We want heroism and the most real self-sacrifice among us; we want bold ventures; we want hazardous and decisive lines of action, to meet alarming and appalling evils which are the subject matter of our vocation. If men would a little allow their work to be their guide, and the wants and condition of their people to be the index of their labors, instead of thinking it at all times necessary to follow in a line already laid out by others, the result would satisfy them; we want men to be rather less anxious to do exactly the thing which is right according to certain customary rule, than to attain the main object of their work, the salvation of souls; and when once the mind is free from this kind of trammel, the mode of operation will be at once simplified, as men will themselves daily and hourly suggest the best mode of their own treatment. Human nature is so variable, so dependent on circumstances, so ever changing and fluctuating, that it is impossible to meet it except by a system of work which is elastic, and capable of adaptation to the wants of the mind and soul."
These remarks are not perhaps so strictly applicable to us as to those for whose admonition they were specially designed. But do they not suggest to us some of the causes of our clinging to weights which it were better to lay aside, and of which if we were well lightened, our pursuit of peace would be easier, and our overtaking it more certain?
 But this result would be surer and more quickly attained could we rid ourselves of the besetting sin. It is the temper of mind, a selfish cherishing of our own views and purposes, and a forgetfulness of the love we owe each to the other as members of one body, that principally foments and perpetuates discord amongst brethren. This we clearly see and readily acknowledge in worldly concerns. Disputes, jealousies, and angry contentions, arise almost universally from a selfish devotion to interests that must end with life. Did men look upon each other as fellow heirs of the kingdom of heaven, could they possibly contend as they often do with so bitter and exclusive a spirit for their real or fancied share of temporal rights and possessions? And that same spirit which shows itself in so many hateful forms amongst worldly men, can it not also be often detected in the disputes which arise between professing Christians? Is it always the love of truth for truth's sake; is it always a deep and soul-stirring anxiety for the salvation of men that excites and sustains polemical strife? Do we not often hear sacred themes discussed in a spirit and in the use of a language that partakes little of the character of Him who said, "learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart?" Were peace and edification the great objects, would not many a contest be ended ere it had well begun? and if carried on, would not blessings, and prayers, and charities, soften its sometimes needed asperities? Why, then, should denunciations [18/19] and bitter words aggravate them? Oh, how lamentable is it to see the holy themes of salvation tarnished and soiled with the smoke and dust of a worldly warfare; and its weapons handled on such occasions with that cruel and exterminating spirit which ill becomes the sons of peace? "Consider, beloved," are the words of an ancient Prelate of our mother Church, when rebuking the errors of his own times, "consider that we are brethren; that we have one body, one spirit, one faith, one hope, one baptism, one calling; brought out of the same womb of common ignorance; heirs of the same common salvation; partakers of a like precious faith; sealed with the same sacraments; fed with the same manna; ransomed with the same price; comforted with the same promises. Whosoever, therefore, by pride, or faction, or schism, or ambition, or novel fancies, or arrogance, or ignorance, or sedition, or popularity, or vain glory, or envy, or discontent, or correspondence, or any other carnal reason shall rend the seamless coat of Christ, and cause divisions and offences; I shall need load him with no other guilt than the Apostle doth. That he is not the servant of Christ. For how can he, who is without peace or love, serve that God who is the God of peace; whose name is love; and whose law is love? Besides this, we are brethren, and there is a special tie upon us to be no strikers; not to strike our fellow laborers with an eye of scorn, or a tongue of censure, or a spirit of neglect, or a pen of gall and calumny. We need not in any controversy [19/20] flee to stones so long as our reason and learning holdeth out; not to strike the people of God either with the rod of Circe to stupify and benumb them in sensual security; crying peace, peace, when there is no peace; or with unreasonable and misapplied terrors, as the Apostle speaks, to wound the conscience and to make sad the heart of those whom the Lord hath not made sad. Christ, our master, was consecrated to this office by the Spirit in the shape of a dove; an emblem of that meekness which was in Him; and which from Him should descend upon all His subordinate officers."
But are these remonstrances directed against all disputation and controversy as inconsistent with the meek and forbearing temper manifested by our blessed Lord? Is ungodliness of life, or error in doctrine, or are even opinions and practices which are honestly believed to be of injurious tendency, to be patiently endured, or to be resisted only by rare and spiritless expostulations? By no means. We have seen that He whose title was Prince of Peace forewarned us that He came not to send peace but a sword, and till His reign be universally established over the hearts of men we dare not nullify the true meaning of His declaration. We must remember, too, that a Holy Apostle, when exhorting the soldiers of this Prince, who is also the Captain of our salvation, to zeal and perseverance, said, "earnestly contend for the faith;" and another, when closing his own glorious career, triumphed in the language of a combatant [20/21]--"I have fought a good fight." By every true Christian must a warfare be waged, and a victory won. A warfare not merely with the sinful passions and propensities that strive against him in his own breast, a victory not only over the wiles of the adversary that assaults him from without,--but, as a good soldier for his master's cause, he must also do battle bravely with the men of the world. He must never sink down into a state of peace and alliance with them. Error he must resist and sin he must rebuke. And this he must do after the measure of inward grace or the personal power that have been given him. Upon some the only responsibility may be laid to exert the quiet but fruitful force of a holy example, and to inspirit those within the camp, whilst others are to march forth and fight the battles of the Lord against the mighty. But whatever station may be assigned to the soldier of the Cross, let his leader's spirit animate his heart, and his master's example be the model of his conduct. This was the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and love--this the example of Him who "was reviled, but reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." The self-discipline of every Christian should aim at the cultivation of this temper; and while he prays that he may be enabled "constantly to speak the truth and boldly to rebuke vice," he must not neglect to ask that he may also have strength "patiently to suffer for the truth's sake"--to suffer in [21/22] the only way in which he can now be called upon while the days of martyrdom are suspended--by unrequited labors, by unrepining poverty, by bearing obloquy, denunciation, imputation of evil motives, and all the missiles of angry and ungodly controversy. While conscious that his sincere object is the building up of Christ's holy Church, he need not fear to enter into the conflict, if occasion urge, for on his part it will be carried on under the banner of Christian love; and he will strive not for victory over the gainsayers, but to bring erring men to truth, and the unity of the faith.
We have seen that in times past the edifying of Christ's Church was thus promoted. Wise and holy men could not forbear and be at peace. When sound doctrine, godly precept, or saintly practice had become neglected, obscured, and almost forgotten; and when error, entering by one or other of these avenues, threatened to gain a dangerous strength and prevalence, then were there watchmen upon the towers of Zion who sounded the alarm and roused the faithful to the combat. To have cried peace then, or to have prolonged the truce, would have been treason; as though the guardians of the fortress had stood idle, with folded arms, while the foundations were undermined and the enemy preparing to lay the citadel itself in ruins.
Who that cares for the Church can be so uninformed of passing events as not to see that even now there has come upon us, in the Providence of God, [22/23] a similar period. Differences of opinion there are, and even active controversies upon points of the deepest moment. As heretofore, so now, edification may be promoted by such contention, and a godly warfare may be the readiest way of arriving at a state of real and lasting peace. Let the building up of each other in the faith of Christians be the object of our unceasing prayers and exertions, and then, if this can be accomplished by peaceful means, or if we have rather to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, we shall be equally in the way of duty, and may trust that we are equally securing the approbation of the Great Head of the Church.
In concluding this topic, then, we are compelled to confess the unhappy necessity for controversy in the present state of the neglect, the perversion, or the partial acceptance of great fundamental truths; but let not those who conduct it seek to "call down fire from heaven" to consume even such as reject the Lord, much less such as believe in and worship Him. Let them rather seek "to know what manner of spirit they are of," and remember that "the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
The necessity for controversy, and its consistency with brotherly love between those who engage in it, with right tempers, being thus affirmed, an important consideration now presents itself. Is this a time for us to yield so easily as we have been apt to do to [23/24] that necessity? Are we not, on the contrary, most solemnly admonished to assuage if we cannot heal internal dissensions by the presence of external foes? Never were we more loudly called upon to be at peace amongst ourselves, if we would offer an impregnable front in a warfare that seems inevitable. A subtle and watchful foe, alas that we are constrained so to call any who bear the Christian name; but thus it is, a subtle and watchful foe, often discomfitted and once well nigh vanquished, has risen up again and begins to make bold advances. Unabashed by frequent defeat, unchastened by past adversity, and now encouraged by long-continued divisions in the ranks of the reformed, the Church of Rome once more arrays herself against the host of God's elect. If then, the principle of love is not strong enough to bring us and bind us together, shall not the fearful declaration of our Lord Himself constrain us--"a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand?"
But let us not lose sight of another thought that concerns us even more nearly. In seasons of affliction especially the Christian is called upon to consider and to amend his ways. Neglecting them, we despise the mercy and long suffering of God, who thus chastens us for our advantage. Now who will deny that for six years past we have been an afflicted Diocese? I need not recount the sorrows which many have felt, the mortifications and discomforts to which all have been exposed. It behooves us to inquire [24/25] what use we have made of this period of trial, and how far we have been aroused to more faithful and self-denying labors. Could we have foreseen our adversity, what effects ought we honestly to have anticipated? Let us faithfully put this question to ourselves. Affliction is the rule of the cross, for Christ himself was not made perfect but by sufferings. God has not deserted us; for God has afflicted us. The cloud has been around us indeed, and has wrapped us in its mists and folds, but the pillar of fire is beyond. It is the glory and privilege of Christians to grow great by endurance. Let me trust, then, that we have not lost our opportunity; but have used the great blessing of a sore affliction to a greater growth in grace, to a more expansive charity, to a more victorious faith.
We meet each other face to face, we salute each other as members of the one Body of Christ, we have offered up a Common Prayer, we are to feast together at one Table of Love, and shall we not go to our momentous work, speaking to each other from the depth of a true heart, "Let us follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify another?" Such a result will I hope for, such a result have I prayed for, and according to the very humble measure of grace and wisdom given me, for such a result have I now counselled. Would God that another and abler mind, and a more devout and loving heart, had been here to discharge a duty which has weighed upon me painfully and heavily. But I [25/26] have not stood in my own strength, and have gained courage to speak at all only in the conviction that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, I have endeavored to utter the truth in love.