The Parentage of American High Churchmanship: Third Reinicker Lecture for 1898-’99.
By W. G. Andrews
Reprinted from The Protestant Episcopal Review for January, 1899.
ABOUT two hundred and fifty years ago (July 7, 1647), Thomas Hooker, first pastor of Hartford, Connecticut, lay dying. A friend at his bedside, calling to mind his services to Church and Commonwealth—for he was a kind of Moses to that democratic Israel—said to him through his tears, “Sir you are going to receive the reward of all your labors.” But Hooker replied, “Brother, I am going to receive mercy!” He held, of course, the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith; it was the essence of that doctrine, the Catholic truth, having a far greater ethical than dogmatic value, that we cannot pay God for what he gives us, which found utterance in this beautiful humility. The same Thomas Hooker had written not long before that discipline, that is, Church polity or government, is “a fundamental point of religion.” [Mather’s Magnalia, London, 1702; Book III, First Part, Appendix; Hooker’s Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline, Part I, pp. 5-7] And thus, as you see, he almost put an outward thing, the form, or constitution of the visible Church, on a level with the great spiritual fact of salvation by grace. And he meant to put the two in the same class, for he began his treatise on polity by saying, “When we speak of spiritual things we desire to speak in words which the wisdom of the Holy Ghost teacheth.” All this, if it serves no other purpose, as I hope it may, will serve to illustrate the thought, familiar enough now, but proper to be kept in mind in our [3/4] study this morning, that to hold a very high doctrine about the Church is quite compatible with holding in life and death the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and especially with believing what ll faithful hearts must perceive more or less distinctly, that
“—merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.”
But perhaps I should ask you to pardon me for thinking it necessary to say even so much as this in a diocese which owes the renewal of its religious life so largely to God’s blessing on the work of the Evangelical High Churchman, Richard Channing Moore.
In speaking of the parentage of American High Churchmanship, I inquire only whence the High Church principle had its birth, and, I may add its best nursing, as a strong force within our communion. But what is the High Church principle, and is there but one? But one, I think which can in the strict sense be called distinctive. Thus, high doctrine about the sacraments has been held by professed Low Churchmen; very high doctrine is held by Christians, who, like many Lutherans, care little about the constitution of the Church. The doctrine of Apostolical Succession, again, means too many things to be of much use as a test. Perhaps the majority of conservative Christians accept it, or have accepted it, within a generation, under one of its various forms, that of a conveyance of the ministerial commission in an orderly way, through ministers, from the days of the Apostles. And men may even believe that bishops are apostles and still be Low Churchmen, for Bishop McIlvaine believed this, and the sermon in which he taught it (in 1838) received the enthusiastic approval of Bishop Meade. [American Church Review, October, 1855, pp. 410-14; Life of Charles Hodge, D.D., LL.D., New York, 1880, pp. 413-8] Bishop Meade’s approval did not necessarily involve his unqualified assent to every statement in the sermon, and he certainly indicated later something very much like dissent from this particular opinion. But in giving at the same time an account of the [4/5] opinions which he absolutely rejected he omits this one. And that which he so rejected covers what I take to be the differentia of High Churchmanship, namely this, that Episcopacy is in such a sense of “Divine appointment” as to “admit of no change whatever. [Convention Address of 1851, in Dashiell’s Digest of the Councils in the Diocese of Virginia, pp. 220-5.] Here, however, are really two points, first, the establishment by Christ of a particular form of ecclesiastical polity; and secondly, the unalterable character of what is thus established. It is not unnatural to assume that the second position follows from the first, and that a divine institution must be immutable. But it is well known that the illustrious Anglican, Richard Hooker, taught that positive laws, of whatever origin, may be subject to change, in changed conditions, and that, believing bishops to be Apostles, and therefore invested with an office established by Christ, he denied the absolute necessity of the office in order to the perpetuity of the Church. [Ecclesiastical Polity, I. xv.; III. x.; VII. iv. etc.] Whether Hooker be right or wrong, it is clearly possible to believe that a law, or an institution, is divine, and is so in virtue of our Lord’s own declaration, without believing it to be unalterable. It is therefore the latter position, the belief that a particular polity cannot be altered, but must be maintained everywhere and always, which seems to be the essential and thoroughly distinctive principle of High Churchmanship. This is the “unchurching dogma,” making every other polity unlawful, its ministers laymen, its Eucharist, perhaps, a love-feast. The recognition of lay-baptism, common among our own High Churchmen, leaves to Christians living under an unauthorized constitution the sacrament of initiation, and permits them to regard themselves as members of the Church universal, but their society is not a Church; it is a sect. This exclusive attitude has undoubtedly more than anything else marked High Churchmen as being such, in the eyes of the religious public, and it better differentiates their position than theological opinions, however obnoxious; which can be held, and have been held, without unchurching anybody.
 In the application of their principle, I need hardly remind you, High Churchmen differ. widely. An illustration is at hand once more in the case of the Low Churchman, William Meade, whom Bishop Moore, an avowed High Churchman, eagerly desired as his assistant, while Bishop Ravenscroft, of North Carolina, agreeing with his brother of Virginia in his Church principles, preaching the same doctrine of redemption with the same fervor, and equally loving and revering Meade, would have no part whatever in raising Meade to the Episcopate. The attitude towards non-Episcopalians to which the principle before us generally leads is expressed in a letter written to Dr. Meade by a friend before his election, to the effect that while Presbyterian orders must be invalid, “God, no doubt, will always accept the religious services of all who serve Him in the best manner they know how.” More striking are the language and conduct of that prince among High Churchmen, Bishop Whittingham, of Maryland. He even denied the validity of baptism apart from episcopal ordination, and yet believed that when honestly administered, it is, by God’s mercy, “in thousands of instances ... made available for all the ends of the sacrament.” He could also most gladly share the “patriarchal worship” of a Christian family abroad with whom he could not go to their communion. I must be pardoned for adding a more noteworthy illustration of the instinctive recognition of the household rights of all God’s children, furnished by a beautiful incident in the life of Bishop Lay, of Easton, and recorded by himself. He once persuaded a Presbyterian elder [6/7] to obtain the admission of his young daughter, whose life was most Christian, to the Lord’s Supper, as administered in the Presbyterian Church, in full confidence, undoubtedly, that whatever authority the rite might lack, it would contain a blessing from the Lord for her. [Churchman, May 7, 1871.] What is possible in the opposite direction is shown by the story, if it be true, as I hope it is not, of one whose acceptance of the principle of an unalterable polity tempted him to ascribe to Satan the virtues and graces so constantly seen in Christians of other communions.
The principle of which I speak, it will be observed, may be held by the adherent of any ecclesiastical system. It lies back of the questions at issue between Episcopalians and Presbyterians or Congregationalists. It simply answers in the affirmative, the question whether our Lord has fixed, for all time, any particular constitution of His Church. Those who say that such a constitution is “exactly described” in the Bible, and is to remain the same until Christ’s return, so that none may “add, or diminish, or alter” anything therein, are High Churchmen, whatever else they call themselves.
Pursuing now our search for the parentage of this principle as a force in our own communion, and moving backwards after the manner of genealogists, we are struck by the vigor and energy, during the middle years of this century, of the party which upheld the principle, and which was for at least a generation, the majority in the Church. And when it is announced, as it was a little more than a month ago, in a quarter from which I have been accustomed to look for the utterances of an enlightened High Churchmanship, not only that both the old parties are dead, but that if they could be revived, “the Low Church party would include an overwhelming majority of the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church” [Church Standard, Nov. 12, 1898] and when, furthermore, we call to mind the unquestioned fact that Low Churchmen of the Tillotson type (very different, it is true, from the later one), were the overwhelming majority in the Colonial Church of England, then, [7/8] not only does the question how this extraordinary growth of High Churchmanship, within the national period, was brought about, become extremely interesting in itself, but a right answer may be helpful to us in our farther quest. To find a faithful and well-qualified foster-mother should be one step towards finding the real parent.
The time when the High Church party became dominant was apparently not long after the year 1830. It would seem that in 1827 and 1832 the two parties were already very evenly balanced, while in 1835 the High Churchmen are supposed to have secured an important advantage by the virtual assignment to them of the home missionary work of the Church, which no doubt enabled them to gain many adherents in the new territories. But they must have increased rapidly long before that, in order to have been in a position to deal on equal terms with their rivals, since they were certainly insignificant in numbers at the beginning of the century. [Perry’s History of the American Episcopal Church, Boston. 1885, i. 134-5; McConnell’s History of the American Episcopal Church, New York, 1890, pp. 320–3; Tiffany’s History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, New York, 1895, pp. 456-74; The Life of Bishop Hopkins, by one of his sons, New York, 1873, p. 152, etc.; Stone’s Memoir of the Life of the Rt. Rev. Alexander Viets Griswold, D. D., Philadelphia, 1844, pp. 370-1, etc.; Memoir of Bishop Meade, pp. 198-202.] And it is, I suppose, admitted on all hands that a very powerful impulse was given to High Churchmanship by Bishop Hobart, of New York, who died in 1830, with the co-operation of other strong men, notably, in the South, of Bishop Ravenscroft, who died in the same year. To Bishop Hobart, as to others, the threefold ministry was Christ’s institution, to be guarded by Christ’s good soldiers along with His Gospel. That man should set it aside or alter it was to him unendurable, and he fought for it with dauntless courage and untiring zeal, and with powers of mind at least great enough to make him a foeman worthy to encounter any who opposed him. But the secret of his power lay deeper. His ardent devotion to what was for him Christ’s immutable order was only one aspect of a passionate loyalty to Christ as his Redeemer from in and guilt. [8/9] Hobart’s inner life was in essence, and to a large extent in form, such as was fostered by the teaching of the Evangelical school. His watchword, “Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order,” had, all of it, its fullest meaning, and what he put first was first with him; the Gospel was greater than the Church. When he began his ministry in New York, at the opening of this century, the easy-going Latitudinarians around him wondered whether he were a High Churchman or a Methodist, either name being a bad name to their thinking. Bishop Moore’s biographer, Bishop Henshaw, writing twelve years after Hobart’s death, describes him as proclaiming, “not the morals of Seneca, but the doctrines of redemption,” and declares that he was the peer of the most eloquent of his antagonists “as a preacher of Christ crucified.” [Memoir of Moore, p. 74.] The testimonies to this effect are far too numerous to be cited; it is certain that with his zeal for an ecclesiastical institution, Hobart combined the utmost fervor of religious affections and the firmest grasp of the doctrines which inspired the Evangelical Movement. [See Hobart’s biographies, by Berrian, McVickar and Schroeder; Sprague’s Annals, v. 440-53; the histories of Perry, McConnell and Tiffany, etc., etc.] And to this combination, then nearly or quite unprecedented, his biographer, Dr. McVickar, rightly ascribes his extraordinary success. [Professional Years of Hobart, New York, 1836, p. 66.] What was true of him was true, within a less extensive sphere, of Ravenscroft, and through such men, as truly as through others of a different school, the spirit of the Great Revival poured into and reanimated their Church. In 1842 it was Dr. Tyng’s belief that two-thirds of the clergy were Evangelical, though much less than half could then have been Low Churchmen. And the Presbyterian, Dr. Robert Baird, writing in 1844, thought the same to be true of “not a few of the High Churchmen,” including two-thirds of the bishops. [Baird’s Religion in America, New York, 1845, p. 223.] And if to be Evangelical means to have outgrown the old legal views of Christianity so prevalent in the eighteenth century, and to have learned to think of salvation, alike in its [9/10] character of a release from penalty, and of transformation into God’s likeness, as a free gift to the undeserving, then I am sure that the estimates of Dr. Baird and Dr. Tyng fall far below the truth. And the presence of this new force promoted the growth of High Churchmanship quite independently of a strong personal influence like Hobart’s. Results wholly analogous, if not similar, were apparent in other communions during about the same period, or later. It must be remembered that although the Evangelical Movement in this country began in 1740, and produced immense effects outside of our Church, it was followed by a general reaction and decline. And when the new awakening came, and was felt for the first time on a large scale amongst ourselves, it found most Churches in a spiritually sluggish state, and was perhaps equally significant for all. An early result was to draw Christians closer together, and to engage them in common tasks, such as were undertaken by the great “union societies.” But before many years a very different result, tending for awhile to division rather than to union, became apparent almost everywhere. The fresh interest kindled in all that pertained to religion, began to attach itself naturally to modes of applying religion, and to those particular modes in which the fathers had wrought great things for God. In each communion there was a quickening of its own historic life, a desire to repossess its own inheritance in the past. In most cases there were, nevertheless, some to whom the forms of thought and action, imposed by the Revival, seemed so sacred that they cared for little else, and in them the new tendency found its antagonists. Accordingly, we see Congregationalists becoming more Congregational, and Presbyterians more Presbyterian; and these two bodies, almost organically one when the century opened, cut loose from one another, while the Presbyterian Church suffered a schism. The Reformed churches, transplanted from the continent of Europe, from Holland and Germany, and actually united before the Revolution, revived their distinctive traditions in doctrine and worship, and underwent development in wholly unlike directions, while the German [10/11] Church narrowly escaped a schism. Not quite so early the Lutherans betook themselves to the study and defence of their great Confession, and some of them found it to separate them from their fellow Christians, both at the desk and at the altar, as well as to open a gulf, perhaps quite as wide, between them and fellow Lutherans. The middle of this century was a stormy time without as well as within the Protestant Episcopal Church. Since then, though denominational feeling may have strengthened, and the prospect of union by uniformity have become more remote, sectarian feeling has been abating, and the vision of the one Catholic Church has been growing fairer to many eyes; fairer still, it may be, for the unity in diversity which it must display, as becoming one out of many, the many not lost in but strengthening the one.
It would have been strange had not our Church, with its reviving life, felt the same impulse to seek the old paths; if it had not become more conscious of a mission of its own in behalf of the Church of God, to be fulfilled in calling all to walk with it in those older paths, half forgotten by them, but known to the spiritual fathers of us all in a past more august than the sixteenth century; if it had not been inspired with new enthusiasm for its historic ministry, sacred with the light of the Christian dawn, its liturgy, precious as the “golden vial’s full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.” And it would not have been very strange if these treasures had seemed even holier than they are, and entitled to be watched as by the jealous, fiery guardians of a shrine. Something like this must have come to pass had there been no Hobart or Ravenscroft to hasten it. Or, rather, in such conditions, such men must have arisen to lead those who were eager to be led. .
That the Oxford Movement contributed to the growth of the High Church party in this country can only be admitted with serious limitations. The High Church party was vigorous and active here long before the movement began, and its firstaeader, Bishop Hobart, was known and admired by English High Churchmen a quarter of a century before. Among [11/12] his warmest admirers, as early as 1823, was Hugh James Rose, at whose house the chief promoters of the movement gathered in July, 1833, and whom Dean Church regards as at the outset the most conspicuous of them all. [Berrian’s Life, pp. 123-6, 205-9, 233-40, 282, 319-21, 350-4, etc., etc.; Oxford Movement, pp. 84-5, 110.] The doctrines of the earlier Tracts were substantially those which Hobart had advocated, and when his adherents read them they wondered what there was in them to frighten Englishmen. And they themselves were frightened by the teaching of the later Tracts. Their teaching about justification, as nearly everybody understood it, seems to have been accepted by nobody in 1841. [Memoir of Griswold, pp. 423-4.] If some High Churchmen did accept it, it was because they had persuaded themselves, like Newman and Keble, that the difference is largely one of words. [Church, p. 306; Keble’s preface to Hooker’s Works, i. p. xlix. Am. ed.; cf. Ranke’s History of the Popes, pp. 61-2, Am. ed., 1844.] And, at all events, the obnoxious doctrine (that of Bishop Bull) was not new in America, for Samuel Johnson had preached it in Connecticut a hundred years before. [MS. Sermon.] The Oxford Movement ultimately produced important effects in America, many of them beneficent. It was a part of the great Catholic Movement, characteristic of this century, which tends towards, even though it should never reach, the goal of Catholic unity, and which has been felt throughout American Christianity. But as our High Church party did not owe its vigorous early growth to the Tracts, so Tractarianism for a long time probably did more to check than to promote its growth.
We have found, then, the foster-mother of American High Churchmanship in what High Churchmen, perhaps disdainfully, and, if so, undutifully, have called Evangelicalism. And in our search we have seen how one strong impulse has moved a multitude of Christians of many names, names often worn with pride instead of shame, as badges of division, and have therein seen another proof of that spiritual unity which cannot be broken, maintained by the one indivisible life [12/13] which flows and throbs in many channels throughout the One Body of the Lord. But we have also found all this in the very force which inspired those among us to whom the inward, spiritual unity has sometimes seemed enough, because only things inward and spiritual are priceless, those for whom in our Church as in others what was distinctive of the Evangelical Movement, continued to be the chief recognized motive in their service of Christ. That movement was essentially the effort of the Christian heart to recover its birthright in religion. And that birthright is the vision of God as Love, as a Father, giving, not selling, His benefits. It is surely a “beatific vision,” filling the soul with gladness, a gladness which may be overvalued, as it is if it is more prized than righteousness, but which is God’s gift, whereby He would “keep heart and mind through Christ Jesus;” it is “the peace of God which passeth understanding.” Such peace these “Evangelical men” solemnly bade all men find “through Christ Jesus,” and they dreaded lest by imperfect knowledge of the Gospel they should miss their way,
Some landward path unto an island shore.”
It is well that there should be such warnings, even if we believe that God has better gifts than peace, and the debt which we owe to teachers of this class cannot be measured, and is freely acknowledged by the highest of High Churchmen.
It may seem coming short of the truth to call Low Churchmanship, as we have known it, the foster-child of Evangelicalism, and not rather its offspring. The Low Churchmen of the eighteenth century, though often godly men (for William White classed himself among them) [Life of Bishop Hopkins, p. 106.] were so different from those of the nineteenth, being in fact a kind of Broad Churchmen, that one hesitates about putting them in the same category. But be this as it may, the party now so styled owes its vigor and influence almost entirely to the Evangelical Movement as renewed about a hundred [13/14] years ago. There were of course Evangelical clergymen earlier, and the honored Virginian, Devereux Jarratt, can never be forgotten. And yet as late as 1820, according to Bishop McIlvaine’s recollection, there were but four such among the thirty-six clerical members of the General Convention. It would appear that there were six, but even these formed an insignificant minority. [Perry’s History, ii. 193.] From that time they increased so rapidly that in twelve years or less they could command at least the support of half the Church. Our two great parties, then, drew their nourishment at the same hour, from the same bosom, and when they quarreled it was like the strife of twin sisters. And since the leaders of both parties at once preached the Gospel and upheld the Church, the difference might often have passed for a difference of emphasis. But they were upon the whole distinguishable enough, like the white rose and the red, which furnish the devices upon clashing shields, though growing in one garden bed, with soil and rain and sunshine the same for both, even shedding like fragrance in temple and in secret chamber, before the windows opened towards Jerusalem. And it is pleasant for me to remember, here, that when, in 1871, the emblazoned shields began to form one “far-flung battleline,” and the Bishop of Connecticut could tell his clergy that in the House of Bishops parties had disappeared, it was the Bishop of Virginia whose voice had sounded the “keynote of a loving unity,” that to which “the love of Christ constraineth us.” [Perry’s History, ii. 195; II Cor., v. 13, 14; the text of Bishop Johns’s sermon at the opening of the General Convention.]
If such was the nurture of American High Churchmanship, supplied by a type of Christianity very far removed from formalism or legality, it is easy to believe that it came of good stock; it is likely to have been born when and where men were in deep earnest about religion. And if we were obliged to find its American origin in the acceptance by John Henry Hobart of High Church convictions, we should have at least some excuse for [14/15] giving the honor of its parentage to the godly Presbyterians of Princeton. Hobart certainly did not learn his doctrine of the Church from his spiritual father, Bishop White, and he clearly implies that he did learn it during the four years preceding his ordination in 1798, and while he was a tutor in the College of New Jersey. [Apology for Apostolic Order, New York, 1856, Letter V. p. 35; Schroeder, p. xlvi; McVickar, p. 142-3.] In Princeton, apparently, his whole religious life was enlarged and deepened, and a more distinctively Evangelical cast given to his piety, and if so his new conception of an unalterable order established by Christ in the household of God would have been hallowed by his new experience. [Apology for Apostolic Order, New York, 1856, Letter V. p. 35; Schroeder, p. xxviii; Berrian, pp. 26-8, etc.] It may be, as Dr. Berrian suggests, that in defending Episcopacy in friendly discussions, his zeal for it was strengthened, and if so he would have studied with a more receptive mind the arguments by which Anglican divines have maintained its permanent obligations. [Berrian, 89.] But it is probable enough that he now encountered, as he certainly did not long afterwards, the doctrine of divine right as urged in behalf of Presbyterianism, and saw, as others had seen two hundred years before, that it might do good service on his own side. But, in fact, High Churchmanship, in its Episcopalian form, had existed in America long before Hobart was born, the commonwealth of Connecticut being its stronghold. And effective as his championship was, the doctrine was slowly spreading before 1 e became its champion. Two representatives of the Connecticut school long served New Jersey congregations, and one of them, Dr. Thomas Bradbury Chandler, was one of the ablest :defenders of the rights of the colonial Church. Ten years after Chandler’s death his daughter became the wife of Hobart (1800), and she is described as “well instructed: in the doctrines of primitive Episcopacy.” [Schroeder, p. xxxviii.] One of Hobart’s first literary tasks was the publication of Chandler’s “Life of the “Father of Episcopacy in Connecticut,” [15/16] Dr. Samuel Johnson, written about thirty years before. He thus became familiar, early in his ministry, with the story of the Connecticut Episcopalians, and it could not but enlist his warmest sympathy. And probably enough his inclination to do battle for Episcopacy was increased by means of his relations to the Chandler family, while his own descent, presumably through his father and mother, from New England ancestors, perhaps counted for something in stimulating his devotion to ideas at that time almost confined to the Episcopalians of a New England State. To that State, at all events, we must turn for farther light on the subject of our inquiry. When I became a candidate for orders, nearly forty years ago, and, as it happened, in Princeton, I was gratified to learn that “Connecticut Churchmanship” was then regarded by High Churchmen elsewhere as a standard, and though I have reason to suspect that this is no longer the case, the fact that it was so once may encourage our search in that quarter.
That the churchmen of Connecticut did, when the Protestant Episcopal Church was organized, after the Revolution, stand apart in virtue of their beliefs about Episcopacy, lies on the surface of our history. The general organization was substantially effected in 1785, without the assistance of bishops, but with the active co-operation of laymen, and under the leadership of the man (William White, of Pennsylvania) who had horrified Connecticut by proposing in 1782, in the presence of what seemed for the moment to be an absolute necessity, that ministers should be ordained by presbyters. Connecticut, on the contrary, would “do nothing without the bishop,” and the clergy proceeded to choose one in 1783 without even the knowledge of the laity, in the person of Samuel Seabury. And when he had returned to them in 1785 with a Scottish consecration (not then recognized in England), they remained for four years longer practically a separate Church. But it is particularly to be observed that the failure on the part of the clergy, few in number, of the other New England States, to unite promptly with the Protestant Episcopal Church, was originally due far more to their [16/17] geographical position than to strong sympathy with the High Churchmen of Connecticut. They seem to have attached rather more importance to the presence of a bishop than their brethren to the southward (or than some of them), but this did not prevent their giving formal approval to the action of the latter, and only the expense, which must have been borne by one or two congregations, stood in the way of their sending representatives to the General Convention of 1785. They evidently much desired that the Episcopate should be obtained from England rather than from Scotland, they recognized the right of the laity to take part in ecclesiastical legislation, and they were more willing to assent to changes in the liturgy than the clergy, much more willing than the laity, of Connecticut. And although after the arrival of Bishop Seabury they naturally acted as far as possible in concert with him and his clergy, yet even as late as July, 1787, only two of the six clergy of Massachusetts were in full sympathy with their next-door neighbors. [Beardsley’s Life and Correspondence of Samuel Seabury, D.D., Boston, 1881, p. 311.] They did not sympathize with the hostility to Seabury shown in some quarters, and they were most useful in the task of mediating between the two parties. But it is quite certain, and it is important to bear in mind, that the attitude of Connecticut was quite unlike that, not only of the Middle States and the South, but of the other New England States. Connecticut, and Connecticut alone, was committed to thorough-going High Churchmanship. [See Hawks’ and Perry’s General Convention Journals, i. 427-37, 459-69, 475-7.] Connecticut, however, was heartily desirous of union, and her High Churchmen could and did make serious sacrifices of feeling in order to secure it. Seabury himself showed both magnanimity and good sense, and bore himself throughout like the true Christian that he was. In consenting to the union, moreover, he and his clergy accepted; for the sake of unity, the position of a comparatively small minority, while their brethren, by admitting them, voluntarily introduced an active and resolute minority into what had been a tolerably unanimous body of Low [17/18] Churchmen of the old type. Both parties set an excellent example of brotherly confidence to their successors.
But why was it that Connecticut stood thus apart? Can we find anything in the history of the Church of England in that commonwealth which will explain the very exceptional tendency to High Church opinions which we find among its clergy? One fact, whether it have any significance or not, at once arrests the student’s attention. It is the fact that the colonial Church in Connecticut was exceptional in having an almost purely native clergy. Exact information as to the nativity of the Anglican ministers in America is probably unattainable. Some inferences of limited value can be drawn from the study of the fifth volume of Dr. Sprague’s “Annals of the American Pulpit,” which is devoted to our communion. With a good deal of hesitation, I assign an American nativity to about one-third of those’ mentioned in Sprague’s text and notes as having become colonial clergymen before 1750, those mentioned being perhaps one-tenth of the whole number. Of this one-third, with rather less hesitation, I assign to four-fifths a birth-place in New England. The more exact information which I have had time to gather from other sources is too scanty, but points in the same direction. It is plain that most of the colonies long depended on Europe for their clergy, and that as we approach the time of the Revolution ministers of American birth slowly became more numerous. As to particular colonies outside of New England, I can speak more definitely of but two. We are told of South Carolina that the first native of the province was ordained in 1795, long after the Declaration of Independence. [Dalcho’s Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Charleston, 1820, pp. 432-6, etc.] Some were ordained earlier as residents, though born elsewhere, and several of its clergy were from New England. In Virginia it would appear that the first clergyman of colonial birth must have begun his ministry after 1727. Towards the middle of the century graduates of William and Mary College began to “go home” for orders, and were sought after by the vestries. But when the war began [18/19] a very large number were still Europeans. At the very beginning Englishmen were sent also to New England, but in Connecticut, after 1722, colonists began to hold most of the parishes, there having been but one to hold before that date. In this respect, again, Massachusetts differs from Connecticut. In the year 1748 there were eleven parishes in the larger colony, while there were seventeen in the smaller; in the same year seven out of eleven clergymen in Massachusetts were foreigners, and seven out of eight in Connecticut were natives. The principal cause of this difference was, briefly, that in Massachusetts the Church of England was regarded as the Church of foreign officials, and was therefore very unpopular, and continued to be a feeble exotic until long after the Revolution. Connecticut had few foreign officials, and never a royal governor, save for a few months under James II., while the colony, suffering little from interference with its affairs, was rather conspicuously loyal. Here a colonial Church of England sprang up almost spontaneously, because it supplied what great numbers of the people lacked, or could obtain only under a kind of stigma, “the administration of God’s ... sacraments.” And so, while remaining a small minority, it had a vigorous growth, and a native clergy was easily produced.
And what influence had this fact on the quality of Connecticut churchmanship? Let us ask first what were the influences which made the foreign-born clergy, and the colonial clergy trained under them, so largely what Bishop Perry says they were, Erastians, or believers in such a government for the Church as might please the State? [Perry’s History, ii, 194] The mass of the English parish priests continued to be Tories and High Churchmen after the eighteenth century opened, but the [19/20] bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries, like the great officers of the State, were largely Whigs and Low Churchmen, or latitudinarians. And even High Churchmen were more and more such in virtue of their politics; like Addison’s fox-hunter, who considered a respectable church-going country gentleman “a fanatical cur,” because he had been told that in Queen Anne’s time he had twice spoken against taking off the duties on claret. Such High Churchmanship (though of course this picture is a caricature), had not much to live for, and it is not surprising that a hundred years later genuine High Churchmanship was thought to be nearly dead; or that things were tending far towards Erastianism; or that the Bishop of London in the second quarter of this century said that belief in Apostolical Succession went out with the nonjurors. [Abbey’s English Church and its Bishops, 1700-1800, i. 180. 188, 369, note, 370-1 and note; ii. 80, note; Freeholder, No. 22; Church’s Oxford Movement, 891, pp. 17, note, 89-90, 91-2; Abbey and Overton’s English Church in the Eighteenth Century, passim.] Naturally enough the Whig bishops and others in high places wished to keep Tories, who might be Jacobites, and High Churchmen, who might be Jesuits, from going to the colonies, where they would very likely do mischief before they were found out. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which began its operations here in 1702, and which cared much more about the good character of its missionaries than about their politics, yet thought it necessary to insist that they have “affection to the established government.” [Anderson’s Colonial Church of England, second ed., iii. 63, 585.] The dismissal by the Society of one of its best missionaries, John Talbot, of Burlington, New Jersey, on charges of disaffection, probably false, well illustrates its solicitude, and that of the authorities in England, about this matter. [Anderson, iii. 240-1; Hills’s History of the Church in Burlington, and Monograph on Talbot; Fulton’s Monograph on “The Non-juring Bishops in America,” in Perry’s Hist., i. 541-60, etc., etc.] Virginia and Maryland did not need the help of the Society, and there must have been less care taken in England about the qualifications of the clergy who came to those provinces. Nevertheless their politics received some [20/21] attention, and it was reported from Virginia in 1755 that “none ... in America” could “be better affected ... to the present establishment in Church and State.” [Perry’s Hist. Coll. Va., p. 438; cf. as to general feeling in Va., Anderson, i. 24; Bancroft, Cent. ed., i. 121, 123, 145; Cooke’s Virginia, pp. 112-5, 192, 200-1; Hawks, Virginia, p. 147, etc.] In Maryland there were few friends of the Stuarts among the clergy in 1723 and later. The official view of Tories and Whigs, respectively, appears from a report sent to England from Maryland in the previous year. Of twenty-two clergymen named, seventeen of whom are classified, only five are called Tories. One of these is described as “a Grand Tory and a Rake”; another as “an Idiot and Tory.” On the other hand we find, “a Whig and one of the best of men”; “a Whig and a good Christian”; “a Whig and a truly good man.” [Anderson, iii.189; Perry, Hist. Coll. Md., pp. 128-9.] Of course we cannot be sure that all these virtuous Whigs and other well-affected persons were Erastians, but it is reasonably certain that most of them were Low Churchmen of some sort. On the other hand we may be pretty sure that not all the Tories were High Churchmen in any proper sense, though there were admirable men of that class in Maryland and elsewhere.
But when we see how few were the conditions either in America or in England which favored the development of genuine High Churchmanship, it becomes the more remarkable that it should have been developed in its purity, practically separated from political learnings of any kind and under the most imperative sense of religious obligation, in the little agricultural colony of Connecticut. It would appear that there must have been something in local beliefs and traditions to induce a tendency so powerful and yet so limited in its sphere of action. And this brings us back to the fact of Connecticut, or New England, nativity, and the question of its significance. These native clergymen of Connecticut were nearly all reared as Congregationalists. Now pure Congregationalism seems as remote as possible from [21/22] High Churchmanship. It sets aside Apostolical Succession, because a minister receives his outward call not through other ministers, but through the choice of the Christian people, gathered by covenant into a Church. For the same reason it cannot assert the exclusive validity of any particular form of ordination, because it is not ordination, whether by the elders or the brethren, which makes a minister, but the act of the brethren in electing him. [Cambridge Platform, IV. 3, 4; IX. 2.] The essence of the system lay in the principle, growing out of a holy zeal for the purity of God’s House, that a true Church can come into existence only by a mutual covenant on the part of persons presumed to be sincere Christians, to walk together according to God’s ordinances, and the further principle that such a Church can be subject only to Christ, and not to any external ecclesiastical control. And it was with such a polity in their minds that the religions fathers of New England declared in 1648, in the document known as the Cambridge Platform, that “the parts of Church Government are all of them exactly described in the Word of God, ... and therefore to continue one and the same, unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... so that it is not left in the power of men, officers, Churches, or any State in the world to add or diminish, or alter anything in the least measure therein.” [Cambridge Platform, I. 3.] These words are, as far as I know, the earliest official statement of the High Church doctrine made in America. Earlier ones had been made in England in behalf of both Congregationalism and Presbyterianism, as in 1596, in 1582 and 1570, while in 1589 one was made in behalf of Episcopacy by Bishop Bancroft. But before that time, Episcopalians had repudiated the doctrine, and Archbishop Whitgift named first in a list of “dangerous and seditious propositions” laid down by the Presbyterian High Churchman, Thomas Cartwright, (who believed Church Government to be a “part of the Gospel”), the proposition that “in reforming the Church it is necessary to reduce all [22/23] things to the apostolical institution.” [Walker’s Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, N.Y., 1893, pp. 18 and note, 65; Tulloch’s Rational Theology in England in the Seventeenth Century, i. 50 and note; Neal’s History of the Puritans, London, 1837, i. 173; Canon Perry’s History of the Church of England, N.Y., 1879, pp. 342-9.] The doctrine is in fact distinctly Puritan in its spirit. As the historian Green says, the Puritan searched the Scriptures in order to “discover a divine will, which in all things, great or small, he might implicitly obey.” His “system rested on the assumption that an immutable rule for human action in all matters relating to religion, to worship and to the discipline and constitution of the Church, was laid down, and only laid down, in the words of Scripture.” [History of the English People, N.Y., 1880, iii. 16-7, 30.] This is perfectly true. Puritanism was created by a quickened instinct of obedience, it was the assertion by the Christian conscience, as Evangelicalism was the assertion by the Christian heart, of its rights in religion. Accordingly in its proper form, and except almost by accident in New England, it promoted sober views of Christian experience, and insisted less on an emotional crisis than on a solemn, humble purpose to serve the Lord Christ. In its exaggerated types it was given to a very vexatious multiplication of commandments, but that can hardly be called an excessive zeal for obedience which looks for a divine plan to be laid down in the Bible for a divine institution like the Christian Church—if only it were a little easier to be sure what the plan is.
The High Church Congregationalists of New England did not draw from their doctrine all the results which might seem to flow from it logically; few High Churchmen ever do that. They were accused, like other adherents of the same principle, of teaching that there were “no churches in the world” save theirs, and they pronounced this “an unworthy and ungrounded aspersion.” [Hooker’s Survey, Pt. I. pp. 47-48, quoted by Walker, p. 143, note.] With less energy, but to similar effect, Archbishop Laud denied that be had “absolutely unchurched” continental Christians. [Neal, ii. 323-4; cf. McVickar, p. 365.] Perhaps they yielded [23/24] too much in not requiring Congregationalists to depart “forthwith” from Presbyterian churches, bidding them rather first show the Presbyterians “their sinful defects,” and then wait a reasonable time “for their reformation” [Preface to Cambridge Platform.]
Before the days of the Connecticut conversions to Episcopacy, in the first quarter of the last century, it had become necessary both in New and in Old England to make the Puritan principle of a divine and unalterable polity cover both the Puritan forms of polity, the Congregational, and the Presbyterian, and one feels that the effort to do this brought a severe strain upon the principle. But in setting forth the Saybrook Platform, constructed in Connecticut in 1708 with this object in view, the doctrine was still affirmed. The elders and messengers gathered at Saybrook declared it to have been the glory of their fathers that they sought a rule in the Holy Scriptures for “the whole administration of the house of Christ.” [Preface to Confession of Faith, in Congregational Order, Middletown, 1843, pp. 156-7.]
Much more might be said, and perhaps should be said, in the way of explanation and illustration. But I hope that I have shown it to be at least a reasonable belief that American High Churchmanship, nourished to its brilliant maturity by Evangelicalism, is the lawful child of Puritanism. A son of the Puritans cannot be expected to think this a parentage to be ashamed of. That other than Puritan influences have acted in the later development of this theory among us, nay, that something more than the simple appeal of Puritanism to the Bible, weighed with the scholars who studied the question in the Yale library, is beyond dispute. But that it was their faith in the Puritan conception of an unchangeable polity established by Christ which made it natural for them, as for so few of their contemporaries, to find the conception supported, with a different application, by history and Catholic consent is, I think, equally beyond dispute.
It is an interesting fact that in his early manhood Bishop Hobart fell in love with Virginia, a very easy and [24/25] delightful thing to do. A visit to an intimate friend here made a profound impression upon him, and the charm of a generous and graceful hospitality, of mingled refinement and simplicity, so kindled his imagination that one of his brightest dreams was that of a parish in Virginia. One wonders what else would have happened if this had come to pass. Men of my age may not cherish dreams of that nature, as you will probably learn some day, if you do not know it now. And yet “old men shall dream dreams,” and I have much faith in my own concerning Virginia and Connecticut. I think myself well entitled to cherish it, because, with a Connecticut pedigree as long as the history of the State admits of, a few years since a host of Virginians became my ancestors by affinity; and also because I am rector of a Connecticut parish which draws part of its income from Virginia in virtue of the bequest of a resident of Richmond, for many years, if I mistake not, the Treasurer of your Diocesan Convention, but born in Connecticut. And you and I have in common our affection for the man who in fifteen years built up one of the strongest parishes in Connecticut, and who now, in the home of his fathers, is teaching you how to defend the ancient faith which both dioceses cherish, with all the aids of a sound scholarship of which neither diocese is afraid. But, apart from such personal considerations, Virginia and Connecticut themselves, so unlike under many aspects, have much in common. It is much that Virginia, “the First Republic in America,” and Connecticut, governed by its own free citizens, before and after the Revolution, according to the spirit of the first of written constitutions, share the same English blood, with its inheritance, from Saxon Alfred down through the Norman barons of Runnimede, of the love of truth, and of justice, and of liberty, under law. Of course others shared that blood; it made New England. But I know not where it so showed its quality, warm with devotion to English kings, on fire when falsehood or injustice turned kings to tyrants, as in each of those most loyal colonies, which were yet so jealous for the rights [25/26] of men as English freemen, and for the rights of States as members of an empire. In each, again, was conspicuous the ancestral spirit of fairness, even of generosity, towards an adversary, as in Virginia in the kindly attitude of loyalists and commonwealth’s men in Cromwell’s time, in Connecticut in the acknowledged gentleness of Whigs towards Tories after the Revolution. But there is perhaps a more interesting point of likeness in those aspects of social life where the contrast seems sharpest. Virginia had her ruling class in an aristocracy of birth and wealth which produced most of her noble array of soldiers and statesmen. Primitive Connecticut had and was proud of her own well-defined body of gentlefolk, but local conditions led to a rapid mingling of classes, and the maintenance of an aristocracy of birth, the creation of an aristocracy of wealth, were almost impossible, though what had been was not so soon forgotten. But another aristocracy arose, in some degree peculiar to Connecticut, which even the splendid patricians of colonial Virginia might have admired. To indicate its character I make use of a tribute to colonial Connecticut which her children may modestly accept since a Massachusetts man offers it, to the effect that her government was “probably one of the best the world has ever seen.” [Lodge’s English Colonies in America, p. 382.] If so, it was because it was a “government of the best,” the true aristocracy. In Connecticut, as nowhere else, save in Rhode Island, even the highest officials, notably the Governor, the Deputy-Governor and the Council, were chosen by the people, and, although they were chosen every year, the same men were for the most part yearly chosen anew to the chief positions, as indeed very often to lower ones. And why? Because that Puritan people believed of Connecticut what Alexander Whittaker believed of Virginia: “the Plantation is God’s.” [Anderson, i. 237.] To them magistracy was sacred as the organ of a divine work, and they dared not commit it to unclean hands. The worthiest, for virtue and ability and intelligence, were almost [26/27] invariably chosen to high office: those whose native dignity compelled others to look up to them with a moral compulsion gladly felt and freely yielded to. If their fathers had deserved the like honors, so much the better; if their sons deserved them they should have them when there were any to bestow, and to displace them after they had been proved fit for a holy service would have been equally a folly and a sin. A good choice was therefore of course adhered to, and became practically a choice for life. The high officials of Connecticut thus became, not the whole but the nucleus, of an aristocracy, which was even half hereditary, and yet was nurtured in the soil of democracy, and without large wealth, not divided by any gulf from the mass of the people, fulfilled for them its proper task of exalting and beautifying life. But a little more than fifty years ago, a description was written from close personal knowledge of such an aristocrat, a former Governor of the State, as “one of the last survivors of a once numerous class,” recalling the time “when almost every village had its optimates, its guiding-lights and centres of influence.” Here you will observe an approach to a rural gentry, in contact with the whole population, like that of Virginia. This man had enjoyed a finer culture than some of his class, and probably had larger wealth, if not a more distinguished ancestry, than many of them. He was more widely known than most of them, and the fact may well be mentioned here that when in Congress he had won the admiration and respect of the great Virginian, John Randolph, in the face of political antagonism, and that he counted it an honor to be known as one of “the real disciples of Washington.” But he was like numbers of his peers in that “vice stood abashed and insolence rebuked in his presence,” and that “the tone of manners and morals was elevated by his example.” The aristocracy of Virginia, which furnished its rulers, and the aristocracy of Connecticut, furnished by its rulers, both served the people well, and both proved in different ways that a commonwealth, that any community, is better and happier for the presence of a class which displays the common manhood under those “stately and beautiful forms” [27/28] which “are the fit embodiment of high and honorable feelings.”
And now I can tell my dream. Perhaps you know that under old charters from English kings, Virginia and Connecticut once lay side by side from the foot-hills of the Alleghenies to the banks of the Mississippi, and that could those charters have availed so early against French and Spanish occupation, Virginia and Connecticut would still have stretched side by side to the shores of the Pacific. And my dream is this, that in the principles and traditions which they represent, they do stretch on together, and that “the wilderness and the solitary place are glad for them, and the desert doth rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
W. G. Andrews.