Project Canterbury


By the Rev. William McGarvey, D.D.
Rector of St. Elisabeth's Church, Phila.

Philadelphia, 1908
[no publisher given, 14 pp]

In the whole history of the Episcopal Church there has been no Convention so reckless of traditions and so radical in its enactments as the General Convention of 1907. [1] It is triumphantly asserted by The Churchman that "the Richmond Convention has changed the American Church." [2] This is no exaggeration, but is the statement of an obvious fact. The Episcopal Church has been changed, and will never again be what it once was, or what it once appeared to be. The change, which will be apparent more and more as time goes on, has been accomplished by the passage of measures so revolutionary in their underlying principles and logically so destructive of all that heretofore has been supposed to be distinctive of the Episcopal Church, that we who are identified with the Tractarian, or High Church Movement, are face to face with a situation the seriousness of which cannot be exaggerated. Of these revolutionary measures, the chief is the canon providing for "the open pulpit," the doctrinal and practical significance of which demands our most serious consideration. At the outset it will be well to remind ourselves of certain fundamental truths.


Divine revelation was given gradually. It increased in volume and explicitness as the ages rolled on. Each prophet, whose words are recorded in the canon of the Old Testament, was raised up to be the vehicle of an additional message to God's chosen people. At length in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son." The words of the Eternal Wisdom were the culmination and completion of all that had been spoken before. They were God's full and final message to the world. That revelation will never pass away, and to it no new word will ever be added until the consummation of all things.

This revelation in all its fullness has been committed to the Catholic Church as a divine deposit. She does not look to those without her pale for any additional message of revealed truth, for the simple reason that she herself possesses the truth in all its final completeness. Whatever of religious truth is held by those outside the communion of the Church, is but a fragment of that whole which she holds in its entirety.

The first and all important duty of the Church is to preserve and perpetuate this truth without diminution. In the measure that any part of the Church jealously guards that truth and faithfully sets it before men, in that measure she fulfills her mission, and according to that measure alone has she any claim to be considered or called the Church of Jesus Christ. If she compromises the truth or throws it away, she becomes a dead thing, a stench in the nostrils of God, however much she may be decked with this world's wisdom and wealth, or however many of the great men of the earth may be gathered about her.


As instruments for the promulgation of His revelation, Christ has constituted in His Church the episcopate, and, in dependence upon the episcopate, the other orders of the sacred ministry. The ministry is the same as He Himself fulfilled while visibly here on earth. As He exercised the functions of prophet, of priest, and of king, so the Christian priest by virtue of ordination exercises the office of teaching, of sacrificing and of ruling in the Church of God. All these offices are committed to every priest when he is set to minister to the faithful. He is made minister of Christ's discipline, and minister of Christ's sacraments, but in the first place he is made minister of Christ's Word.

His office of preaching and teaching, sometimes called the prophetical office, is of as high a dignity as his sacramental functions, and has an equally divine origin and authorization. Christ not only commanded His ministers "shepherd my sheep," "Do this in remembrance of Me," and "Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted,'' but He also gave them authority to "go teach all nations." The purpose of the teaching was to lead the hearers "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." They were to deliver a body of truth which had its origin, not from themselves, hut from the mind of the Eternal Wisdom. Of that Wisdom they were to be but the mouthpieces to the world: "He that heareth you, heareth Me."

The tradition of this divine deposit of truth was to be perpetuated to the end of time by the Apostolic Succession of the ministry. The insistence upon the necessity of ordination in unbroken line from the Apostles is not for the sake of preserving a mere historical continuity with the past, nor is it only for conferring power to administer Sacraments, but it is for transmitting from one generation of priests to another the original revelation of truth, and for imparting the original commission, "Go, teach all nations." The Christian hierarchy, therefore, constitutes the teaching Church, to whom the lord says, "As my Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." No such mission and authority were ever granted to the laity. They are the hearers of the Word the ecclesia discens. And if at any time the Church employs any of the laity in a teaching capacity, it is only in entire subordination to, and under the direction of the clergy, the divinely appointed guardians of the divine deposit of truth, through whom the Holy Spirit is ever speaking to the world.

All this is the certain teaching of the Catholic religion, and High Churchmen have assumed that it was also, and would always be, the teaching of the Episcopal Church. Acting upon this assumption, they have studied for her ministry, made their promise of conformity to her doctrine, and accepted her Orders.


In distinct opposition to this whole doctrinal position we began to hear, for more than a year preceding the last General Convention, of the supposed distinction between the prophet and priest in the Christian ministry. About the same time bishops here and there, notably the Bishop of Albany, began to invite Protestant ministers into the pulpits of their dioceses. It all looked very much like a concerted movement to break with one of the most distinctive traditions of the Anglican Communion, and to throw down the barriers which heretofore had separated us from the non-Episcopalian bodies about us. It filled High Churchmen with the most serious alarm and the gravest misgiving, and yet no one supposed that the General Convention would ever endorse any measure looking toward an open pulpit in the Episcopal Church. But what was least expected is precisely what has taken place. The "prophet and priest" theory was gravely expounded by speakers in the General Convention as a wonderful discovery in the interests of Church unity, and as a complete justification of the enactment of provisions for an open pulpit. We were then informed, and the information has been repeated ever since, that the prophetical office is something which ordination does not confer at all, but is possessed by the Christian laity generally, including all the non-Episcopalian ministers, and that opportunity should be allowed to these hitherto neglected prophets to deliver their messages to our people.

If this extraordinary theory be true, then the Church of England had done very much better if she had left the old offices of ordination as they were, for she has made the stupendous blunder of accentuating a function—the prophetical office—which, according to our new teachers, ordination does not confer, and of eliminating formulae and ceremonies expressive of the only powers which it does confer! Consistently, if not avowedly, with this new theory, the Episcopal Church has by a canon made provision whereby ministers of the various Protestant bodies may teach publicly within her churches. The practical reason for this new and radical departure from Anglican traditions is the assumption that these ministers have a message of truth which our people ought to hear and which, presumably, the ministry of the Episcopal Church either do not possess or are unable to impart. Such official action of the Episcopal Church herself forces upon High Churchmen the question, whether the exclusive claims which they have put forward in behalf of the Episcopal Church and of her ministry are really expressive of her mind and supported by her authority, so that the teaching of them can have logical justification any longer. This question cannot be ignored. Sooner or later every High Churchman must face it and answer it, for our only authority for teaching anything as ministers of religion must be derived from the Church which we represent. The open pulpit canon, therefore, challenges our most serious attention.

This canon reads as follows: "No minister in charge of any congregation of this church, or in case of vacancy or absence, no Church Wardens, Vestrymen or Trustees of the congregation, shall permit any person to officiate therein, without sufficient evidence of his being duly licensed or ordained to minister in this Church; provided, that nothing herein shall be so construed as to forbid communicants of the Church to act as Lay Readers, or to prevent the Bishop of any Diocese or Missionary District from giving permission to Christian men who are not Ministers of this Church, to make addresses in the Church on special occasions."

The words which we have placed in italics [*] is the amendment made to the canon by the last General Convention, and is the part of the canon with which we are now concerned. Let us consider carefully its provisions.


It will be observed at once that the canon does, beyond all question, permit the Bishops to authorize non-Episcopalian ministers and laymen to teach in our churches, provided they have the one single qualification of being in some sense Christian men. If the canon merely allowed communicants of this Church to make addresses, the provision might perhaps be tolerated; because our own laymen would be under the authority of the clergy and subject to some sort of restraint and discipline. But such a provision would not have satisfied the Convention. What was wanted was a law couched in such general terms as would allow Protestant ministers of any denomination to teach from our pulpits. And what the Convention wanted it has most certainly secured. Although the present wording of the clause differs from the form originally proposed, and also from the one which first passed the House of Deputies, the general principle of allowing Protestant ministers to instruct the people remains the same. "I felt," says the mover of the original resolution, "that those who favored the opening of the pulpit were contending for a principle; that the only vital thing was to get the principle recognized; and that when the principle was recognized the details would sooner or later adapt themselves.'' [3] Throughout the whole debate in the House of Deputies, from the first introduction of the resolution until the final vote, "the speeches of those who favored the amendment and of those who opposed it shewed that this intention was clearly understood by all." [4] And the speech of one of the deputies from the Diocese of Pennsylvania [5] (which every one recognizes was what determined, more than anything else that was said, the vote in the House of Deputies, and which had its influence in the House of Bishops also), urged the acceptance of the amendment on this very ground that it would open our pulpits to the non-Episcopalians: "We cannot look around us," he said, "at the work being done by our brethren of other names without being convinced that the Spirit of God is speaking to the world through them. And if these brethren have any word of instruction or exhortation for the people, then in God's name let us vote aye." [6] The same consideration was urged in the House of Bishops. Both Houses of the Convention knew perfectly well what was the purpose of the proposed amendment to canon 19, and with eyes wide open they deliberately accepted the principle of the open pulpit, and incorporated it into the discipline of the Episcopal Church.

The profound significance of the Convention's action, as it appears to almost everyone, has been frankly stated by one of the deputies: "While all churches naturally and rightly have ministers of their own name to minister to their people, there is no reason why we should not help each other from time to time in the teaching of God’s truth. Feeling this, and being assured that the time for action had come, the Convention decided that there was no cause why Christian men not ministers of the Episcopal Church should not on special occasions speak from the pulpits of her churches words of help, of warning and of instruction, and she so declared. . . . That the Church which has sometimes been called exclusive should lead in this thing is certainly a cause for rejoicing." [7] It is perfectly useless in the face of many such statements, made within and without the Convention, by those acquainted with the facts surrounding the passage of this clause of the canon, for anyone to undertake to explain away the permission which the Church has so expressly given in words which have not a shadow of ambiguity. The canon clearly authorizes the Bishop to permit non-Episcopalian ministers and laymen to teach from our pulpits, ''to a degree never before allowed or even anticipated." [8]


One of the most inexplicable questions, of the many inexplicable questions, which the proceedings in the Convention of 1907 suggest is this: How did it ever come to pass that the High Church Bishops could bring themselves to vote for such an enactment as the open pulpit canon? It is contrary to every principle for which they are supposed to stand, and yet not one of them cast his vote against it. Was it because they had forgotten all history and all theology? Was it simply a lack of courage to stand up against the crowd? Or was it, as has been suggested, that, like the Deputies, they were brought to see, that what they had regarded as convictions were, after all, only prejudices which they felt it was their duty to yield to the will of the majority? Whatever the explanation may be, it is pathetic now to read their efforts at explanation and exculpation. Among other considerations, they are pointing out how the canon has been safeguarded from abuse by the fact that they so amended it that the whole responsibility of the open pulpit is placed in the hands of the Bishop. This they think makes everything satisfactory and Catholic! Cannot these Bishops see that the canon is wrong in principle? It makes possible the admission to our pulpits of heretical ministers as the teachers of the souls for whom Christ died. So far from the Bishop's permission neutralizing this pernicious principle, it only commits the Episcopal Church the more completely to it, and leaves no ground for excuse or apology. The fact of a Bishop, or of a hundred Bishops, authorizing what is essentially wrong cannot make the wrong to become right. One might just as well argue, as some do, that an act which our Lord pronounced to be adultery—"Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery"—is no adultery at all, because, forsooth, a bishop has pronounced it as coming within the indulgence allowed by a canon of the Episcopal Church! So likewise, although Saint John bids us not to receive an heretic into the house, nor to bid him God-speed, nevertheless we are being told that if we only get the permission of the Bishop, acting under canon 19, we may receive an heretic not only into our houses, but into our pulpits, and bid him God-speed in addressing the faithful. This is the sort of argument by which some are trying to justify the open pulpit canon, and to soothe the distressed and scandalized minds of the laity.


The non-Episcopalian to be invited to exercise his homiletical skill upon our poor people may be anyone whom the Bishop thinks can be brought under the very vague designation of a "Christian man." We all know perfectly well how this will be interpreted. There are those amongst us, some of them occupying high places of authority, who regard Quakers, unbaptized Baptists, and Unitarians, as Christian men. And there were among the deputies of the Convention those who did not hesitate publicly to avow their conviction on this point. [9] So that there is really no telling what sort of a man a Bishop and a Rector may choose to set as a teacher over a congregation on some special occasion.

Of course, the persons who will be sought for, and for whom this clause of the canon was specially framed, are the ministers of the various Protestant bodies. They are supposed to possess in a pre-eminent degree the gift of prophesying. Now who are these ministers or prophets? No doubt very many of them are men of education and in many ways estimable persons. But we are not considering them in their personal characters, but as official teachers to whom the Episcopal Church has now opened her pulpits. They are ministers of sects whose very existence was the result of the rejection of the teaching and authority of the very Church to which we belong—sects which deny what we hitherto, if no longer, have regarded as fundamentally essential to the integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These are the men to whom our pulpits have been thrown open, whom we permit the Bishop to set as teachers over our people, and who have already entered our churches and preached from our pulpits, clad, in some instances, in the accustomed vestments of our clergy! What a spectacle! The Episcopal Church now seated at the feet of those who scoffed at her Orders and her authority, and lifted up their heels against her!


The canon does not restrict such invitations to the ministers of the so-called Evangelical bodies who are supposed to believe in the divinity of our Lord. A Unitarian minister, the avowed blasphemer of the divinity of the Son of God, may, under this canon, be legally invited into our pulpits. Such a possibility was pointed out on the floor of the Convention, but no provision was made against it. More than that, it was explicitely declared, while the canon was under consideration, that it would "enable the clergy to return courtesies and hospitalities in a regular and recognized way." [10] Now, only the Sunday before the courtesies and hospitalities of the various meeting houses in Richmond had been extended to and accepted by our Bishops and clergy. Among others. the Unitarian pulpit was filled by one of the reverend deputies, a Canon of the Cathedral Church wherein sits the Presiding Bishop. [11] So that the Convention had before it the kind of returns of pulpit courtesies which the canon would render possible "in a regular and recognized way."

Let no one say, that the Bishops at least could have had no thought of the canon being made use of to invite a Unitarian to address our people. The possibility of such a use of the canon was indicated to them by their own Committee on Canons. In its report on the canon as sent up by the deputies the Committee, by its recommendations, drew the attention of the Bishops to the wideness of the permission which would allow a Bishop to invite any Christian man, without qualification, to address our people. They proposed that the persons to be invited should be limited to those "confessing the Nicene Creed." One would have thought, that such a perfectly reasonable recommendation would have at once met with instant approval by any company of orthodox believers. But precisely the contrary was the fact. The Bishops did not adopt this recommendation of their committee, but instead, upon the motion of the Bishop of Tennessee, they adopted as a substitute the wording as it now stands, in which no mention of "confessing the Nicene Creed" appears! This most significant fact has only been brought to light by the publication of the Journal. Who will now dare to assert that there is, upon any reasonable construction of the words of the canon, any legal prohibition to a Unitarian being allowed to make addresses in our Church?

It is answered that, although the canon is unfortunately wide enough to allow the presence of a Swedenborgian or a Unitarian in our pulpits, yet we can trust the Bishops to see to it that no use is made of the large liberty allowed by the canon. What an extraordinary apology. The General Convention makes possible the widest legal liberty as to whom shall be invited to teach from our pulpits, and we are then told that we need have no alarms, because the Bishops will not allow all that the canon makes possible. But it was the Bishops themselves who closed their ears to the recommendation that only men "confessing the Nicene Creed" should be allowed in our pulpits! It was the Bishops themselves who without a dissenting vote adopted the present canon, which makes possible the admission of a Unitarian as a teacher in our midst! What reason, then, have we for supposing that they who enacted the canon will never allow the exercise of the liberty so generously provided by the canon?

Furthermore, there are Bishops who openly set at naught the explicit law of the Prayer Book, admit to the Communion those who are not even nominal adherents of the Episcopal Church, and counsel and direct their clergy to do likewise. More than that, instances are reported of a Bishop publicly communicating members of the Unitarian sect. With these facts in mind, have we the slightest reason for assuming that such Bishops will read into the canon a restriction upon their licensing power which is not in the canon, and which they would not put into the canon, although it was proposed as a necessary safeguard; or that they will have any scruple of admitting to the pulpit the same persons whom they deem worthy to be admitted to the Holy Communion? We certainly have none.

As a matter of fact, the widest possibilities of the amendment have already been realized. Unitarian and Universalist ministers have been admitted to our chancels. A non-Episcopalian layman has at the Sunday evening service in one of our churches expounded the gospel of Victor Hugo. And a presbyter, whom we had deposed for Unitarianism, has been admitted to the pulpit as a teacher of our people. So for form’s sake we put a heretic out of the pulpit by one door, and then provide another door for his immediate readmission. It is a significant sequence to all the talk and stir that was made over the deposition of Dr. Crapsey, that the very next General Convention should enact a canon, with the unanimous consent of the Bishops, whereby it is made possible for any Bishop to permit him to resume once more his office of public teacher in our midst.


When the Protestant minister gets into the pulpit, the canon says he may deliver "addresses." Some High Churchmen are comforting themselves with the consideration that the canon makes no mention of "sermons." They think that this straw saves the day. But it is foolish to suppose that the canon by permitting addresses thereby excludes sermons. "Addresses" is the general term under which is classed sermons, lectures and instructions, and therefore the canon in allowing an address makes possible every form of utterance which can come under that head. If, however, this unreal distinction between a sermon and an address is going to be insisted upon, the invited minister has only to call his sermon an address, and into the pulpit he goes. In actual practice, however, as The Church Standard well observes, "it will be difficult to make people understand that a sermon is not a sermon simply by calling it an address.'' [13] And Bishop Doane sweeps aside the inconsequent distinction with the remark, "I am not much concerned with the shades of ambiguity which some people have discovered as to the difference between the sermon and an address, or between the floor of the pulpit and the steps of the chancel." [14] As a matter of fact, non-Episcopalian ministers have already under this canon stood in our pulpits and delivered sermons to our people.

Let it be noted that the invited minister is not confined to one only address. The Bishop may ask him to give a number of "addresses" on some occasion, which occasion may include many days. As, for example, some outside minister may legally be authorized to fill the pulpit for several Sundays during a vacant rectorship, or to be the preacher in some mission station. Or the Bishop may authorize him to give a mission, or perhaps to conduct a retreat for the clergy or for a religious community, since a mission or a retreat is but a series of "addresses." And if the Bishop chose to do this he would be entirely within the power granted to him by this canon. To avoid any legal quibble one of our own clergy could be present to say the one or two prayers and to announce the hymns.


As to the time when the outside minister may be permitted to feed the people, the canon requires that it must be a "special occasion," whatever that may mean. This, of course, presents no real restrictive difficulty. He would surely be a stupid bishop or rector who could not get up a special occasion when he may have the opportunity of sitting at the feet of some non-Episcopalian preacher. So far as the wording of the canon goes, the special occasion "need not be other than the stated services of the Church. if they are made coincident. as they frequently are." [15]

It is quite useless to say that this would be an abuse of the canon. It would be nothing of the sort. The Committee on Canons in the House of Bishops drew attention to the possibility of just such a use of the canon, recommending that it should be guarded against by the insertion of the restrictive words, "not as a part of any regular service of the church." But the Bishops did not think well to adopt any such restriction. There can be no question that the wording of the canon does not preclude a non-Episcopalian making an address at a prescribed service of the Prayer Book. And already we have had examples of sermons or addresses being delivered by such persons at Morning and Evening Prayer, and even during the celebration of the Holy Communion.


Whatever may be the kind of utterance which the Protestant minister has been invited to deliver, whether it be called a sermon or an address, or whatever may be the occasion, it is certain that the minister himself will take it for granted that he has been invited, and is there in that pulpit, for the purpose of teaching, and that is the only point of any consequence. And what will he teach? Anything he pleases. The canon places no restrictions upon him. If he be an honest man with strong convictions, he may regard the occasion as an opportunity for setting forth his own religious principles. So that one of our congregations may have in turn the Baptist minister explaining the foolishness of infant baptism, the Presbyterian demonstrating the novelty of episcopacy, the Quaker shewing the uselessness of all Sacraments, the Unitarian emptying the Scriptures of all witness to the divinity of Christ, and the Universalist comforting the bewildered Episcopalian with the assurance that, however great may be his confusion now, he has at least nothing to fear beyond the grave. And if the invited minister should think well to deliver his own peculiar message, we shall have no cause for complaint. We certainly could not expect that he would be so lacking in self-respect as for the time to divest himself of his denominational office and principles, and to play the part of an Episcopalian clergyman. Moreover, was it not avowed in the General Convention that the purpose of the canon was to give our people the opportunity of hearing the words of instruction and exhortation of these ministers, through whom the Spirit of God is supposed to speak to the world? Bishop Doane leaves us in no doubt on this point: The canon "does mean that there are men not in our Orders, not authorized in any technical sense to officiate in our churches, who have a message to deliver, a message from God which our people need to hear, and can now, without any apparent violation of our canon law or any interference with the teaching of the preface to the ordinal." [16] Imagine Augustine thinking that a Donatist could have a message from God for the faithful of Hippo; or Athanasius admitting a Semi-Arian to one of the pulpits of Alexandria; or Saint John asking a Gnostic to say some word of exhortation; or our blessed Lord inviting a Samaritan Rabbi to expound some precept of the law in a Jewish synagogue!


What sort of conclusions is the plain honest man in the pew going to draw after he has come to understand this "open pulpit" canon, and has seen its practical operations? He will surely conclude, notwithstanding all the efforts of a few Episcopal clergymen to explain away the canon, that the Episcopal Church herself does not regard her clergy as having any message to deliver to him other than that which the Protestant ministers generally can deliver quite as well; that the average teaching of the denominations is ail that is to be believed; and that the ministerial status of our clergy is on precisely the same level as that of the Presbyterian or Methodist Church.

He will conclude still further that if the Protestant minister may instruct and edify him in the Episcopal Church, the edification will be no less if he attends the Minister's ministrations in the Presbyterian, Unitarian or other church, or if he permanently attaches himself to the sect which the minister represents. Why not? It will be quite useless to try to retain the man in the Episcopal Church by gravely drawing distinctions between the prophetical and priestly functions. All that his common sense will sweep away as so much verbal nonsense. And he will tell you plainly that, whatever may be the theories of this or that little group of High Churchmen, it has become perfectly clear to him that those theories are not endorsed by the Episcopal Church, that she really regards the sectarian preacher as truly a minister of the Word as she does her own clergy; and that she evidently takes it for granted that the faith which she holds is precisely the same as that which is professed by the Protestant denominations. For does she not admit these ministers to her pulpits as public teachers of her children, and that, too, with the Bishop's license which a special canon authorizes him to grant? And has she not by her cordial thanksgiving for the declaration of the Shanghai Conference identified herself with the Children of the Reformation as her true kith and kin?

These conclusions of the laity are inevitable as soon as the significance of the canon is understood. And the time is not far distant, if the canon be not speedily repealed, when the High Churchman, who still preaches Apostolic Succession, and undertakes to draw distinctions between the ministerial status of the clergy of the Episcopal Church and those of the Presbyterian or Methodist Church, will be the laughing stock of both Protestants and Roman Catholics as a man altogether lacking in logical sense. Already the logical plight created by the canon is appreciated not only by the fautors of the open pulpit, but also by all High Churchmen who are honestly facing facts, and are not trying to hide from themselves the real situation. And that situation is for us High Churchmen painful and humiliating, and is not one in which any of us would have willingly placed ourselves.


Of course, for awhile, in order to allay the fears of the High Churchman, it will be said—but so that the invited minister shall not hear us—that we only regard the Protestant minister as a prophet, and that it is as such that we invite him into our pulpits, but that we do not recognize him as possessing any sacramental authority whatever. Afterward, when the simple High Churchmen have been lulled into sleep by this kind of soothing comfort, or their ears have become accustomed to hearing of the Methodist minister preaching in this Episcopal Church, the Baptist minister in that one, and the Unitarian in some other one, so that all their churchly feeling has been reduced to insensibility, every subterfuge will be thrown aside, and the equality of the non-Episcopalian ministers with our clergy will be boldly assumed and practically acted upon. The logical terminus ad quem of the Open Pulpit movement, as was said on the floor of the House of Deputies, is practically "to abolish the Apostolic Succession" with all that it implies. Indeed already, as the Bishop of Michigan City has observed, among the Protestant bodies "the notion prevails that ultimately, for the sake of unity, the Episcopal Church will surrender one after another of its pet ideas and in proper language go over to the Protestant position in all their matters. I am not prepared," adds the Bishop, "to take the first step in this course of progressive apostacy.'' [17]

Throughout the whole history of the Episcopal Church, never was there such a condition of affairs as now confronts us. Our supply of clergy is diminishing at an appalling rate, and our moral influence is waning in places where once it was strongest. And now; instead of all this bringing us to our knees in penitence, we think to save the day by inaugurating some sort of alliance with the Protestant denominations. Vain hope! The Episcopal Church is but lowering herself in the eyes of those she desires to win, destroying her raison d'etre before the world, and distressing the hearts and paralyzing the hands of her most faithful children. Already a situation has been created by the enactment of the "open pulpit" canon of the most serious import, and the Bishops, who are the ones chiefly responsible for the measure, need to give heed, if it is not now too late, to the reported warning of the venerable Doctor Hodges of Baltimore, that this "open pulpit" provision in its outcome "would be most disastrous and would shake the fealty of many members of the Church." [18]

There are a few men who are thinking to gloss over the whole matter and to save the day, by blandly assuring the distressed laity that the canon is entirely restrictive and so unobjectionable. How anyone can bring himself to suppose that the wording, "Nothing herein shall be so construed as . . . to prevent the Bishop," etc., indicates restrictive legislation, is hard to imagine. "So far as I can recall," says one of the deputies from Pennsylvania, "no such idea was hinted at in the debate." [19] If, however, these men really believe that the canon is restrictive, they owe it to themselves, and they owe it as a duty to the Episcopal Church, that they at once inaugurate legal proceedings which will demonstrate the legality of their interpretations, and bring to an end the practical use the Bishops are now making of this canon. I do not believe that they will venture upon any such course, or that they have any desire to subject their curious interpretation to a serious legal test. Whether we like it, or whether we do not like it, the 'open pulpit' in the Episcopal Church is a fact patent to the world. And, say what we will, we shall not in the end be able to hide its practical application or its theological significance from any one within or without the Episcopal Church. Its principles are now in active operation and are bound to work themselves out to their logical and inevitable conclusion before the eyes of all men.


[1] It "is the simple truth that this Convention was the most liberal in the history of the Church."--The Church Standard, Nov. 2, 1907.

[2] Nov. 26, 1907.

[*] All other italics throughout this article are also the writer's.

[3] Rev. Cyrus T. Brady in The Living Church, Dec. 7, 1907.

[4] Rev. Thos. J. Garland in The Church Standard, Jan. 11, 1908.

[5] Mr. George Wharton Pepper.

[6] The Church Standard, Jan. 11, 1908.

[7] Rev. Dr Tomkins in The Public Ledger, Phila., Oct. 28, 1907.

[8] The Church Standard, Nov. 30, 1907.

[9] The Churchman, Oct. 19, 1907.

[10] The Churchman, Oct. 26, 1907.

[11] The Churchman, Oct. 19, 1907.

[12] The Amendment to Canon 19, as recommended by the Committee on Canons in the House of Bishops, reads as follows: "or to prevent the minister in charge of any congregation of this Church, when authorized by his Bishops, from permitting therein, but not as a part of any regular service of the Church, an address by any Christian man confessing the Nicene Creed, who may be approved by the Bishop." (Journal, p. 168).

[13] Nov. 30, 1907, p. 149.

[14] The Churchman, Jan. 18, 1908.

[15] The Church Standard, Nov. 30, 1907, p. 149.

[16] The Churchman, Nov. 30, 1907.

[17] Address of the Rt. Rev. John Hazen White to his Convention.

[18] The Times-Despatch, Richmond, Oct. 20, 1907.

[19] Mr. Francis A. Lewis in The Living Church, Dec. 7, 1907.

Project Canterbury