Project Canterbury




The Sermon


Convention of the Diocese of Connecticut



June 9, 1885

In Commemoration of the Episcopate





Rt. Rev. J. WILLIAMS, D.D.,



Text provided by Margaret Smith, Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, 2007.
Transcription by Project Canterbury staff.




The seventy-eighth psalm contains a rapid review of the history of the chosen people from the day when God led them out of Egypt "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm," down to the time of David. The record of provocation and transgression on the side of Israel, and of mingled mercy and judgment on the side of Jehovah, ends with the reign of the shepherd-king. He who watched his flock as, centuries after, other shepherds watched theirs, on the hill-sides of Bethlehem; he who had risked his own life that he might deliver his charge "out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear," was now called "from among the sheepfolds" to the throne of Israel and Judah. He who had been "faithful over a few things" was made "ruler over many things " in a kingdom which was itself but a type of a mightier kingdom, in which One who was not only the Son of David but the Son of God should reign forever and ever.

In describing the character of David as a ruler, which is done in the text of this discourse, it will be observed that the same qualities are emphasized that marked his shepherd-life. What he was in the narrower field, that he was, also, in the wider. What he had been in Bethlehem, that he continued to be in Jerusalem. What he had done for his flock, that he did for his people. "He fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." Integrity in purpose and discretion in action are the two qualities here emphasized. The former without the latter makes the impracticable blunderer. The latter without the former makes the time-serving schemer. The two together make the wise ruler of men. Unless I greatly err, we shall see these two qualities strikingly illustrated in the story of that episcopate of which I am now to speak to you.

[4] We must still linger for a while with the newly consecrated bishop, in that city on the German ocean where we last beheld him. For his consecration is not the only thing which occurred there that was to have an abiding influence on the future of our National Church.

On the day following the consecration (Nov. 15th, 1784) the Scottish bishops present and their American brother united in signing the important document known as the "Concordats." While this is not the place to speak of it at length, some of its positions and agreements ought not, in view of opinions then prevalent in Great Britain and of events soon to occur in this country, to pass unnoticed.

First of all, the document opens with a full and clear statement of the necessity, "before all things," of holding the "One Faith." As the Lord declared that on Himself, as confessed by His apostle, He would build His Church; as St. Paul when he has spoken of "one Lord" speaks next of " one faith," so the framers of the "Concordate"--invoking "the blessing of the great and glorious Head of the Church"--declare their "earnest and united desire to maintain the analogy of the faith once delivered to the saints, and happily preserved in the Church of Christ."

This all-important and fundamental truth having been asserted, the document proceeds to declare that the Church of Christ is "a spiritual society," the powers and authority of which come from God and not from man; and which, as they are not given and cannot be given by any civil government, so neither can any civil government take them away.

Does this statement seem a truism to us? Then let us remember that it was no truism in the days when it was made. "The Church as by law established," was then a phrase on everybody's lips in Great Britain; and, strangely enough, it meant, and still means, one thing in England and a very different thing in Scotland. Nor was that all; we may well fear that to many minds the weightiest and most important part of the phrase lay in the words "by law established" rather than in the preceding words "the Church;" so that in many instances, a mere accident in the Church's history displaced the remembrance of its divine constitution, and led on to the folly [4/5] of supposing that the act of the State, human law, could create and constitute a Church! To assert the truth against so patent a delusion was timely, and indeed needful, a century ago. Would that it were needful nowhere now.

Following this declaration was the agreement that no "communion in sacred offices" should be held with clergy, of whatever ordination, who were officiating in Scotland without recognizing, or being recognized by, the national episcopate.

Finally, passing from doctrine and organization to worship, the Scottish bishops, after speaking of the desirableness of "as near a conformity in worship and discipline between the two Churches as is consistent with the different circumstances and customs of nations," go on to say, that inasmuch as "the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or the administration of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, is the principal bond of union among Christians, as well as the most solemn act of worship in the Christian Church, . . . though they are far from prescribing to their brethren in this matter, they cannot help ardently wishing that Bishop Seabury would endeavor all he can, consistently with peace and prudence, to make the celebration of this venerable Mystery conformable to the most primitive doctrine and practice." So far the Scottish bishops. On his part, the newly consecrated bishop agreed "to take a serious view of the Communion Office recommended by his brethren, and, if found agreeable to the genuine standards of antiquity, to give his sanction to it, and by gentle methods of argument and persuasion, to endeavor, as they have done, to introduce it by degrees into practice, without the compulsion of authority on the one side, or the prejudice of former custom on the other."

These are all weighty, wise and noble words. I have quoted them at some length for two reasons. In the first place, they embody just those things which come to the front in St. Luke's description of the Apostolic Church in the full glow of its pentecostal life: "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers." The more carefully the document and the inspired statement are compared, the more clearly is this remarkable agreement seen. If this is the result of a conscious [5/6] reference to the words of St. Luke, it shows how faithfully the venerable framers of the Concordate went back to the very sources of the Church's organic life. If the reference is unconscious, it shows, even more strikingly, how thoroughly they were imbued with the spirit of the apostolic age.

In the second place, unless I have greatly misread history, our first bishop, both in his work in this diocese and also in the part he took in bringing about for our whole Church the happy settlement of 1789, followed on the line of action indicated in the Concordate, patiently and unswervingly; and in following it, he was guided by that integrity in purpose and discretion in action which characterize the wise and efficient ruler.

Had Bishop Seabury carried out his original purpose, he would have sailed for his native land "in the ship Triumph, commanded by Captain Stout." Be was, however, detained in London, and from that city he addressed what has been called "his first pastoral letter" to the representatives of the clergy of Connecticut.

His detention was largely, probably not wholly, due to the necessity which came upon him of making, if possible, some provision for the future maintenance of the clergy. What little property he had acquired had all been expended in his two years' absence from his family and his residence in England; and the question whether or not the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel would or could continue the stipends hitherto appropriated to the clergy in Connecticut was a very pressing one. His admirable letter to the secretary of the society--a letter which thoroughly reveals the man--is too long to be given here, while it cannot be adequately represented by any quotations. He does not attempt to conceal the fact that the continuance of his own stipend would be a great relief to his anxieties, but he frankly adds that if it is not continued he "can have no right to complain." And then putting himself, as he always did, entirely to one side, and saying, what seems to have been ever in his mind, that "the fate of individuals is of inferior moment when compared with that of the whole Church," he draws attention to the calamity it will be: if proper steps be not taken to secure to the Church various [6/7] property of lands, etc., in the different States (now indeed of small value, but gradually increasing), to which the society alone has a legal claim."

Under the terms of their charter, the society could employ missionaries only in "the plantations, colonies and factories belonging to the kingdom of Great Britain;" while they seem not to have been ready to consider the question touching the lands. The timidity or the lack of appreciation of the purely spiritual and ecclesiastical character of the episcopate, as such, which then prevailed, is painfully noticeable in the fact that, in the letter which communicated the decision of the society, the secretary addressed the bishop as he would have done before his consecration--the Rev. Dr. Seabury.

On other trials and difficulties which he met in London I do not care to dwell. They all grew out of political jealousies, confused notions concerning connections of Church and State, or fears, which proved to be groundless, that the consecration sermon, to say nothing of the consecration itself, might, somehow, be disadvantageous to the Scottish episcopate. One charge alleged is to us in this day, simply amusing, namely, that the bishop had been "precipitate" in his application to Scotland. A precipitancy which patiently waits and labors for more than thirteen months to obtain the episcopate in England, and only when all hope of so obtaining it is at an end, applies for it in Scotland is, to say the least, a very deliberate sort of precipitancy. And now we may pass from the old world to the new.

"Bishop Seabury landed at Newport, R. I."--where Berkeley had landed more than half a century before--"after a voyage of three months, [This period, however, includes some stay in Nova Scotia.] on Monday, June 20th, 1785, and the next Sunday he preached in Trinity church the first sermon of an American bishop in this country." [The text was Heb. xii. 1-2. The sermon was afterwards published in the bishop's "Discourses on Several Subjects," vol. ii.. serm. xvi., "The Christian Race.'] On the 29th he reached New London, which from that time was to be his home. While he was still at sea a Boston newspaper, which had received the intelligence of his consecration, exclaimed, "Two [7/8] wonders of the world, a stamp act in Boston and a bishop in Connecticut!" [Boston Gazette, May 30th, 1785.]

Two things instantly demanded the most careful attention and most earnest efforts of the one American bishop; the condition and needs of his own diocese, and the all-important question as to the future of the scattered congregations of what had been the Church of England in the thirteen colonies. The stoutest heart might well quail before the difficulties that rose up before him on every side. But Seabury's principle of action was ever found in the twofold rule always to "do the next thing," and when all cannot be done that one fain would do, then to do the best one can. And that twofold rule will enable any man who acts under it, in the fear and strength of God, to overcome difficulties by patient perseverance, or to accept disappointments in unrepining submission. Faith and patience may not make their voice heard much in the streets, but they accomplish results at last.

Did he look at his own diocese? There he saw many obstacles and few, very few, encouragements. Five, at least, of the small number of the clergy and considerable numbers of the laity had "emigrated, or were soon to emigrate, to Nova Scotia and the adjoining territory." Aside, then, from those whom he might ordain, not more than eleven clergymen, and with them not more than two hundred and eighty families, composed the diocese. It is due to this ancient State, and it should ever be remembered to her praise, that the loyalists within her borders suffered no political oppression after the war of the Revolution had ended. Nor can we forget that she sent as a. delegate to the Continental Congress, in 1784, and afterwards, in 1787, to the convention which framed our federal constitution, one who in 1779 had been, however, unreasonably, arrested for treason to the United Colonies, William Samuel Johnson. Still it is none the less true, and it can occasion little wonder, that loyalists, and therefore Churchmen, "were not in good repute with the public authorities, and scorn was likely to attend many of them for years to come."

To these diminished numbers of clergy and people must be added the loss of the stipends hitherto allowed by the society [8/9] in England, and the poverty which made it next to impossible to replace them. Add, moreover, to these things the doubts and uncertainties, the break up of old associations and habitudes, the manifold perplexities of which we now know nothing, and which we could not enumerate if we did know them, and what a troubled scene was that on which our first bishop, who stood alone in his order in these United States, cast an anxious eye! "The children were come to the birth," but would there be "strength to bring them forth?"

One discouragement--and that would have been greater than all the others--Seabury was not called to meet. He did not come to a disunited and divided body. His diocese stood together as a unit. They stood where they did because of convictions, than which none could be stronger or more abiding. When they said: " I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," they uttered no unreal words, no words that habits of careless utterance had made unmeaning. They meant just what they said. And that strong and united conviction gave hope and comfort for the future. Clouds and darkness were about them. But on those clouds there was seen the bow of promise, while beyond them stood--what they might obscure but could not remove--the "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

On Wednesday, the third day of August, the bishop met his clergy at Middletown, received their address of congratulation and recognition, and made his reply to it. [The Rev. Dr. Moore, of New York was also present, but not apparently, in any representative capacity.] On this day was also held the first ordination administered by a bishop within the limits of the United States. On the day following the Rev. Samuel Parker, who came as the appointed representative of the clergy in Massachusetts, made a communication which, we are told; "was received with the warmest expressions of welcome," setting forth his instructions "to collect the sentiments of the Connecticut clergy in respect of Dr. Seabury's episcopal consecration, and the regulation of his episcopal jurisdiction," and intimating the intention of those who sent him to connect themselves with their brethren here by coming under the charge of their bishop. On this day, also, Bishop [9/10] Seabury delivered his first charge. In it, after rehearsing with earnest expressions of gratitude to the bishops of Scotland the steps which he had taken to secure the episcopate, and modestly referring to his own new position, declaring that next to the grace of God he relies, in carrying on the work committed to him, on the "advice and assistance" of his brethren, he dwells on three important topics. First, he urges on himself and them the duty of taking "heed unto the doctrine" as well as to themselves, saying, in words which are not unneeded now, "The first instance of fidelity is, that the pure doctrines of the Gospel be fairly, earnestly, and affectionately proposed, explained, and inculcated, and that we suffer nothing else to usurp their place and become the subject of our preaching." Next, he presses carefulness in recommending persons for ordination, enlarging not so much on "literary accomplishments, though these are not to be neglected, as aptitude for the work of the ministry." And, lastly, for obvious reasons; he treats at length "of the old and sacred rite, handed down to us from the apostolic age by the primitive Church--the laying on of hands." The document shows, so far as a document can, that its writer possessed in himself the qualifications which he regarded as necessary "to make a useful clergyman--good temper, prudence, diligence, capacity, and aptitude to teach."

On the third day of its session, the convocation appointed a "committee to consider of and make with the bishop some alterations in the Liturgy needful for the present use of the Church." [Mr. Parker, of Massachusetts, was appointed on this committee.] The matter was entered on with caution, and the only changes then and there ordered were those which changed political relations, made necessary in the State prayers and services. These were immediately set forth by the bishop in an "injunction," by which he "authorized and required" the clergy to follow them. Some other changes were proposed and reserved for future consideration; but as nothing seems to have been done about them in this diocese, they need no special mention.

The bishop, however, was not unmindful of his promise given in the Concordate, and in the year following (1786) published his adaptation of the Scottish Communion Office. This [10/11] he did not, as in the case of the alterations agreed to in convocation, "enjoin" or "require." He simply "recommended it to the Episcopal congregations in Connecticut."

I am quite conscious that this is a very brief summary, a very meagre outline of acts and events, each one of which is most important and suggestive. It is all, however, that time and space allow, and it brings into strong relief some things which ought not to be forgotten.

The reverent care and caution with which the Offices of sacred worship are approached are apparent. These are no signs of a hesitancy which is doubtful of its position. They indicate rather the strength of assurance which hesitates to touch the gift entrusted to it lest touching may end in tampering. In the same year in which these careful steps were taken, another convention, in six days, revised the entire Book of Common Prayer, with all its Offices and with the "Articles of Religion;" the result being a book which underwent amendments in four States, had its ratification postponed in another, was rejected in still another, and was not considered at all in five. The contrast in results is quite as striking as that in spirit and methods of action.

We also see, unless I greatly err, in his action in regard to the changes in the State prayers and his own office for the Holy Communion, Bishop Seabury's ideal of the position of a bishop in the Church of God. And this view is confirmed by the entire course of his episcopate. What was established by competent authority, he "required." What was not so established, however much his own heart might be set upon it, he "recommended." When the first great Bishop of New Zealand met his first synod, he uttered these noble words: "I believe the monarchical idea of the episcopate to be as foreign to the true mind of the Church as it is adverse to the Gospel doctrine of humility. I would rather resign my office than be reduced to act as a single isolated being. It remains, then, to define by some general principle the terms of our cooperation. They are simply these: that neither will I act without you, nor can you apt without me." Of course, a bishop who takes this line must lay his account with the charge that he seeks to avoid responsibility. But he may comfort himself with the [11/12] recollection that had he taken the other line, the same persons who lament his timidity would be sure to charge him with arrogant assumption. If Seabury did not utter Selwyn's very words, he acted them. Nor is it more or less than the very truth to say that in all his episcopate he exemplified the counsel of the Son of Sirach, "If thou be made the master, lift not thyself up, but be among them as one of the rest." [Ecclus. xxxii. 1.]

The story of that episcopate cannot be told here. It has been written in a faithful record accessible to all, and with which most of us must be familiar. For almost twelve years the parish priest in New London did his pastor's work, the humble-minded bishop went, in homely ways, in and out among his people, feeding the flock "according to the integrity of his heart, and guiding them by the skilfulness of his hands." [In a book published some years ago, it was said that all clergymen in Connecticut traveled, at the period spoken of, on horseback, "except, perhaps, Bishop Seabury, who rode in a coach." He may have "ridden" in a stage-coach, or in a coach belonging to some wealthy layman; but the only vehicle which he ever possessed was a "one-horse chaise."] And when God took him to his rest, the mourning of his diocese was like the "mourning in the floor of Atad," and the poor and suffering, the widow and the fatherless followed him to his grave, and wrote his epitaph in their tears.

The power and value of an episcopate like his cannot be measured by immediate results--though such results were not lacking--which are visible along its progress and at its close. Not only was it not his peacefully to build on undisturbed foundations, it was not even his to lay in peace original foundations. His was the harder, the more hopeless task to re-lay foundations which had been torn up and scattered, and then begin to build upon them. And. under what discouragements was the task to be undertaken and prosecuted; with diminished and diminishing numbers of fellow-workers; with narrow resources and restricted means; amid manifold and unexpected difficulties; amid jealousies that not infrequently deepened into scornful enmity. How often must he have cried from the depths of his heart, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?" Only a brave and genuine man, [12/13] a man of prayer, and faith, and love, could have borne up under such wearying burdens. But he was all that, and even more than that. And, therefore, to us who look back upon our history as a diocese from the close of one century, to those who shall look back upon it from the close of another, nay, in all time, its central figure must be that massive one with which the limner's skill has made us all familiar, as it stands facing wind and storm, supported on the Word of God, which, in its turn, rests on the everlasting rock; the figure of him by whom the God of our fathers said to our "Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." [Isaiah xliv. 28.]

But it is time to turn to the second of the two things of which mention was just now male, the future, namely of the scattered fragments of what had been the Church of England in the thirteen colonies. To unite and consolidate these into one National Church was the difficult problem to be solved; a problem, we may say with reverent thankfulness, that never could have been solved had there not come to the solution a stronger than any human strength, and a wiser than any human wisdom. To bring about this blessed consummation, the first two bishops consecrated for America labored--if not always with accordant views, yet ever with united hearts. The time has long gone by, and it ought never to have been, when to give his due meed of praise to Bishop Seabury, and to recognize his share in the great work accomplished, could be thought in any way to carry with it disparagement to the' eminent services of Bishop White. Nothing can ever change or obscure his prominence in the history of this Church. Surviving as he did the darkest days of her trial and depression, living to see her enter on wider lines and vaster fields of action, and enter on them with a deepened spiritual life, he went to his rest in an old age that was brightened with the reverent love of "all the churches," and from which there was shed upon those churches the gracious light of a gentleness, a meekness, and a charity, the memories of which will never pass away. He is, he always must be, to us our St. John.

The two great obstacles in the minds of Bishop Seabury and his clergy--and I think I may add the clergy of New England [13/14] generally--to the union and consolidation so earnestly desired, were found in certain omissions in what was known as "The Proposed Book," adopted at a convention, composed of deputies from seven States, in 1785, and published in 1786; and in certain provisions of an "Ecclesiastical Constitution" first agreed to in the same convention of 1785, and afterwards altered, in some particulars, in 1786. [The seven States represented were: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. No deputies were present from New England.]

The insurmountable difficulties arising out of the "Proposed Book" were the entire omission of the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed, and the equally entire omission of the article, "He descended into hell," in the Apostles' Creed. I do not at all mean to say that these omissions constituted the only objections in the minds of Bishop Seabury and those who acted with him. But these were fatal. As long as these omissions remained, it was useless to consider any other matters. Our fathers could never have united with any body which deliberately rejected the Catholic Faith. For, as has been well said, "A Church is not Catholic merely from having an Apostolic ministry. The Catholic Faith is as essential as Catholic Institutions." Nay, I think we may say even more than that, namely, that to put the ministry first and the faith next is to reverse the order established by the Lord. For surely, of those to whom was given the commission to " make disciples of all nations, baptising them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," it can never be said that the Name, which is the original and the summary of every Catholic Creed, was given for and because of them, but rather, it must be said that they were instituted for and because of it. To reverse this order is to make the messenger of more importance than the message; is to make the vase that holds the perfume of more importance than the perfume held.

Happily the difficulty was not long in its continuance. In the course of the negotiations for the episcopate, which began in October, 1785, it became very evident that the bishops of England were not inclined to accede to the application for it so long as the omission and mutilation just mentioned were [14/15] adhered to. Accordingly, on the 11th of October, 1786, in a convention held at Wilmington, Del., the omitted clause was restored in the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene Creed was reinstated in its proper place.

The other obstacle, however, remained untouched; and, in fact, it was twofold. In the constitution agreed upon by the representatives from seven States, in 1785, there was not only no provision for a House of Bishops, but it was not even provided that the one House should be presided over by a bishop, if one of that order were present. The episcopate was utterly ignored. Besides this extraordinary omission, every clergyman, of whatever order, was made amenable to the convention of the diocese to which he belonged in regard to "suspension or removal from office," while, for all that appeared, the sentence of suspension or deposition must have been pronounced by the convention itself.

In a Church regulated by rules and ordinances like these, there might be a nominal episcopate, but it would be only nominal. The Ordinal might be retained, but it would cease to have any meaning. The Primitive Church might be spoken of, but every trace of primitive order and administration would have disappeared.

It has often been said that Bishop Seabury objected to any admission of the laity to the councils of the Church. But his is one of the cases in which, unless we distinguish things that differ, we shall certainly go far astray. Legislation is one thing, the judicial exercise of discipline in the Church is quite another thing. Now, I do not find that Bishop Seabury was set against recognizing the right of the laity to a share in the legislation of the Church, on the principle laid down by Hooker, that laws which are to bind all orders should have the consent of all orders. On the contrary, he admitted the principle when he set his name to the constitution of 1789, which provided for this very thing; a provision the value of which has been fully demonstrated by the first century of our history as a national Church.

Touching his views concerning the judicial exercise of discipline, I need only cite his own words: "I cannot conceive that the laity can with any propriety be admitted to sit in [15/16] judgment on bishops and presbyters, especially when deposition may be the event; because they cannot take away a character which they cannot confer. It is incongruous with every idea of episcopal government. That authority which confers power can, for proper reasons, take it away. But where there is no authority to confer power, there can be none to disannul it. Wherever, therefore, the power of ordination is lodged, the power of deprivation is lodged also."

Concerning the absolute irrecognition of the episcopate, as entitled to any share in either legislation or discipline, by the constitution of 1785, I need only cite, again, the bishop's words: " In so essential a matter as Church government is, no alterations should be made that affect its foundation. If a man be called a bishop who has not the episcopal powers of government, he is called by a wrong name, even though he should have the power of ordination and confirmation."

The position assumed by our first bishop in regard to both these matters was justified and sustained by the action of this Church in 1789, when the constitution, as amended, was made to provide for a house of bishops, "with power to originate and propose acts," and also for the administration of discipline by the episcopate alone. This was the constitution to which" on a dingy half sheet of paper"--Bishop Seabury and Drs. Jarvis and Hubbard, as representatives from Connecticut, and Dr. Parker, as deputy from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, set their hands in October, 1789, and by their act effected the consolidation of our Church.

I will not say that a victory was thus gained, for it was not victory that was sought. But we may say that something far better than a victory was attained, in that a great principle was accepted. Nor has the lapse of time raised any doubt as to the rightfulness and wisdom of the acceptance.

[It is worth while to state the steps by which final action was reached:

[I. The constitution adopted in 1785 took no account of the episcopate as a possible component part of the General Convention. In 1786 provision was made that "a bishop should always preside in general convention, if any of the episcopal order were present." In August, 1789, it was agreed, with certain limitations and restrictions, that "the bishops of tins Church, when there shall be three or more, shall, whenever a General Convention shall be held, form a House of Revision; and when any proposed act shall have passed in the General Convention, the same shall be transmitted to the House of Revision for their concurrence." Obviously the House of Revision is not here regarded as a component part of the General Convention. Finally, in October, 1789, it was ordered that "the bishops of this Church, when there shall be three or more, shall, whenever general conventions are held, form a separate house, with a right to originate and propose acts for the concurrence of the House of Deputies, composed of clergy and laity." Certain restrictions, which have since been modified, were added. But clearly the great principle contended for by Bishop Seabury and those who acted with him is here admitted.

[II. As to the other point insisted on: In 1785, article viii. of the constitution read, "Every clergyman, whether bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, shall be amenable to the authority of the convention in the State to which he belongs, so far as relates to suspension or removal from office; and the convention in each State shall institute rules for their conduct, and an equitable mode of trial. Here there is not even an allusion to the episcopate and each convention is recognized as absolutely supreme. In June, 1786, the following sentence was added to article viii. of 1785: "And at every trial of a bishop there shall be one or more of the episcopal order present, and none but a bishop shall pronounce sentence of deposition or degradation from the ministry on any clergyman, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon." Here is an advance in the right direction. In August, 1789, the first sentence of the foregoing article disappears, and in its place we read: "In every State the mode of trying clergymen shall be instituted by the convention of the Church therein." The last sentence of the article remains unchanged, and the second principle contended for is accepted.]

[17] While the years between 1785 and 1789, with their discussions, doubts, and difficulties, were wearing away, the general acceptance of the great principles on which I have been dwelling seemed always uncertain, and sometimes hopeless. Steps were accordingly taken to provide for a possible emergency of rejection--an emergency which cannot be contemplated without a shudder. It was decided in the convocation which met at Wallingford in February, 1787, to send, should it become necessary, a "presbyter to Scotland for consecration, as coadjutor to Dr. Seabury." The purpose, no doubt was, should such necessity arise, to secure the number of bishops canonically requisite to continue the succession. It was wise to provide for all contingencies; but it was equally wise, and as much a matter of duty, to take no actual steps till contingencies arose, and, meantime, to make all possible endeavors to avert them. The prudent counsels of the Scottish bishops, and the conciliatory and patient action of Bishop White on the one side and Bishop Seabury on the other, did avert the contingency; and by the year 1789 all danger of the separation, so much feared and deprecated, had passed away.

[18] It was of God's good providence that, in the General Convention of that most memorable year, 1789, there was found in the House of Bishops no root of bitterness, no disturbing element growing out of political prejudice or personal animosity. When, on the fifth day of October, the House was, for the first time, constituted, Bishops Seabury and White composed its membership.

The great subject which occupied the attention of the bishops, as well as that of the House of Deputies, was the Book of Common Prayer. This is neither the time nor place to speak at length of what was then accomplished. But I must not omit to state, even at the risk of saying what is familiar to us all, that in that book, as we then received and still have it, the Order of the Holy Communion stands--and, please God, will ever stand--the great memorial of Seabury's share in framing our sacred offices, the memorial, also, of the faithfulness with which--if not in the very letter, yet substantially and in spirit, he redeemed the pledge which he had given in the Concordate. Let me also add Bishop White's own words touching the intercourse, for in a house consisting of two members, one can hardly speak of debates--of himself and his brother of Connecticut. He says: "To this day there are recollected with satisfaction the hours which were spent with Bishop Seabury on the important subjects which came before them, and especially the Christian temper which he manifested all along." For the results of that memorable Convention, in which so much was gained--may we not say so little lost?--we are mainly indebted, under the overruling wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to the steadfast gentleness of Bishop White and the gentle steadfastness of Bishop Seabury.

And here, since mention has been already made of Seabury's work in his own diocese, and of his departure, when "he was not found" because God had taken him, this historical review may end. Does it not tell what he was? Does it not clearly reveal his character? If it does not, then no words of mine can do it. Strong in faith, patient in hope, humble and self-sacrificing in charity, he stands out as a man "that had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do;" as a builder able to "revive the stones out of 'the heaps of rubbish [18/19] which were burned;" as a wise ruler who "fed" those over whom the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer, "according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." Therefore for him and for his work, we praise and magnify God's Holy Name

I cannot close without some mention of two scenes, in both of which it was my privilege to share. More than fifty years had passed since our first bishop was borne to his grave. In the town in which, during his entire episcopate, he had fulfilled the lowlier duties of a parish priest, a stately church had replaced the humble temple in which he ministered, and it was felt in all our borders that under its altar his honored remains should find their final resting-place, Reverently gathered, they were carried by the clergy through crowded streets, and laid down where we trust they may abide till the judgment of the great day. [Ut in loco quietis ultimo usque ad magni diei judicium," are the words of the epitaph on the altar tomb in St. James's, New London.] As we stood around his sepulchre there rose from every lip the words of the symbol of Nicaea, for which he had striven so faithfully, and which he had urged his clergy as faithfully to teach, saying, in words which now seem prophetic, that he foresaw the day when in New England there would come a widespread lapse from the ancient faith. That was a scene which none who shared in it can forget.

A hundred years had gone. In that city where he sought his consecration to the episcopate the little upper room had disappeared, and six churches had arisen. In one of these, the successor of the humble "oratory in the house of Bishop Skinner," there are gathered seventeen bishops and near two hundred clergy, together with a vast congregation of the faithful. What do they represent? Not what those who came together a century before had represented; not one Church brought almost to the verge of extinction and another threatened with even deeper ruin. No! but they represent a Church that has emerged from the darkness that shrouded it, in Scotland; a Church that has risen from what seemed but shattered fragments in the United States; the great Mother Church of England; the National Church of Ireland; and the Churches in communion with them on the Continent of Europe, in the [19/20] dependencies and colonies of the empire of Great Britain, on this Western Continent, in India, Australia, Southern Africa, and the islands of the sea. "A little one has become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation."

What has brought them together? Not merely to do honor to the memory of one man or of several men, though their memories are inseparably blended with the thoughts and associations of the occasion. "In many centenaries the dominant interest is the personal. The birthday of the 'monk that shook the world' is a handy peg on which to hang the whole of his marvellous career, and the missive personality of the man is never absent from the view. But in the consecration of Bishop Seabury the Churchman beholds, not the preponderance of an individual, but the birthday of a Church. The difference is suggestive, and illustrates the radical divergence between the Catholic and the sectarian frame of mind. When the ideal of the one Body of Christ is strongly realized, the Church will overshadow the individual: when it is little cherished, the individual will eclipse the Church. We may be content to be of those who think that, as the State is greater than its worthiest citizen, so the Church should take precedence of its greatest member." [These admirable words are quoted from the "Scottish Church Review" for November, 1884, p. 749.] Who would have more gladly owned all this, who, would have been more thankful for it, than he who gave its name to that centenary? For, indeed, it was this which swelled the tide of emotion to its height. It was because of this, that men felt in their hearts, and said with their lips, "Glorious things are spoken of Thee, O City of God."

One closing word, dear brethren, and the duty that from time to time you have laid upon me will be accomplished; not as it should have been, but as I have been able to accomplish it. The great principles on which they of whom I have been. speaking placed themselves, are as lasting and as unchangeable as the everlasting hills. The lines on which they wrought have borne the trial and stood the test of all the Christian ages. Are we tempted in a spirit of self-sufficiency, or of doubt, or of impatience to forsake them? Then let us put the temptation firmly to one side. Only by so doing shall we maintain for [20/21] ourselves, and hand on to others, who shall then in coming years rise up and call us blessed, the precious deposit that has come down to us, and for which we bless those who have gone before us. Christianity is not one of the religions of the world, but it is the one religion for the world. Jesus Christ, our Prophet, Priest and King, our sufficing sacrifice and our living Lord, is not the ideal man, the product of the growth, circumstances, and conditions of one nation or of the whole human race, but He is the " Son of God with power," miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost, miraculously born of the Virgin Mary, dying for our sins and rising again for our justification. "A Christianity," I use the words of Coleridge, "without a Church exercising spiritual authority, is vanity and dissolution." ["Aids to Reflection," p. 224. Note, fourth edition.] The Church is not an aggregation of persons agreeing in certain doctrines or practices, but it is the "Body of Christ," perpetuated in accordance with the laws of its organism. "The fellowship of kindred minds" is not the Communion of saints. A. certain "continuity of Christian thought" is not the same thing as the Faith once and forever given to the saints.

If we fling away these truths to which our predecessors clung so firmly, if they who shall come after us fling them away, then on us and on them will come the shame and the woe of making the well-ordered "city of the living God," the walls of which are salvation and its gates praise, to be "like a city that is broken down and without walls." On the other hand if we, and they who shall come after us, hold them, teach them, act on them, then, and only then, shall we and they, in very deed, "grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love."

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