RECTOR OF ST. LUKE'S CHURCH PHILADELPHIA.
J. S. McCALLA, PR., 237 DOCK STREET.
MAY 25, 1859--5 P. M.
On motion of the Rev. Mr. BUCHANAN,
Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention be presented to the Rev. Dr. HOWE for his able, interesting, and appropriate sermon delivered this morning, and that he be requested to furnish a copy to the Convention for publication.
JNO. CLAYTON, Secretary.
JOHN CLAYTON, Esq., Secretary of the Convention.
My Dear Sir:--The Sermon which I had the honor of preaching before the Convention, although prepared in haste, and in my own judgment, unworthy of publication, is, I conceive, no longer in my own power, and I therefore--grateful for the kindness with which it was received--commit the manuscript into your official hands.
Your obd't Servant,
M. A. DEWOLFE HOWE.
CLINTON AND ELEVENTH STREETS May 30th, 1859.
IT is not to be accounted among the least of the advantages of these annual assemblies of the scattered ministers and members of the flock of Christ, that they afford us an occasion to greet one another as "friends and brethren dear." Many of us dwell in desolate places, where, after long isolation, a sense of utter solitude, at times, steals upon the spirit, and the Lord's Prophet is well-nigh ready to complain with one of old, "I, even I only am left." Even they who have a more goodly heritage--who could find congenial hearts, if they had leisure for social interchange, are many of them so engrossed with duties peculiar to their spheres, that the Communion of Saints becomes to them, in this regard, rather an item of faith than a matter of experience. So that all are conscious of a glow of satisfaction, a quickened pulse of brotherhood, when, from the loneliness of remote and solitary labor, or from the confinement of that which, in a post of manifold cares and studies, dooms each to seclusion, even in the midst of society, we meet in one Sanctuary, blend our voices in the same prayers and praises--and together, in familiar words and with a fulness of tone [3/4] which is music at once to the ear and the heart, declare our common faith in the great Redeemer, and in the precious doctrines which he has revealed to make us "wise unto salvation."
We thus gain a grateful realization that our faith and worship are not a whimsical conceit, of which a few here and there are tenacious--but an heritage of precious truth and propriety, shared by a family of God's people, of whose character and whose numbers we have no cause to be ashamed. Nor can it be doubted that the remembrance of an occasion like this--its demonstration of our united strength,--its pledges of personal friendship and sympathy--its deliberate measures for the extension and upbuilding of Zion shall serve to inspire and cheer our individual labors, when, after taking "sweet counsel together and going to the House of God as friends," we return to our respective fields of duty, and, single-handed, attempt the work which the Lord of the Harvest has given us to do.
It will be but a poor result of our assembling if there be nothing done for the furtherance of our Master's cause, save that which shall be recorded on the journal of our legislative proceedings. Surely, brethren, there are spiritual interests which underlie and make necessary the mechanism of Canons, and the choice of executors, that are to all this outward framework and agency what the soul is to the body--the vital principle, without whose indwelling and energizing power it is nothing better than the ground we tread upon. Let us aim to [4/5] secure not only better appliances for our service in the work of Christ, but a wiser appreciation of the nature and dignity and importance of that work, a deeper principle of devotion to it, a more enlarged and Scriptural conception of the true sources of power--whereby the Church of our love may become, through God's blessing upon our feeble, and of themselves, impotent labors, "a name and a praise in all the earth."
A moment's attention is due to the observance of the occasion on which the text was written. "By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?"
Under the elder economy, the chosen people, to whom pertained "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises," were often called, and especially by the prophets "Jacob" or "Israel," the names of their common ancestor. They were the Church of God, under its preparatory dispensation--deriving all its life and hope from a Saviour yet to be revealed, as the Church of the latter day subsists on Christ now made known. All the complicated machinery of their worship, their sacrifices and oblations, their sacred relics, their priestly offices and vestments, had some typical character representative of the work of Christ. Their very history, as a nation, was one grand allegory foreshadowing the condition, vicissitudes, and discipline of that great family of the faithful, whom, "a Prophet like unto Moses," has been raised up to bring out of the bondage of Satan--by the way of the waters--through a wilderness of sin--beset by enemies [5/6] on the right and on the left--in pilgrimage to the land of promise:--and, in the earthly possession of that yet typical heritage, to leave them still probationers for a better country even an Heavenly; in the midst of privilege, to test whether they will improve it; in the face of dangers to try if they will brave them; in the lures of temptation, to prove if they will resist it.
Most of the predictions of the Prophet Amos refer to events which were destined to occur during the reign of Jeroboam, son of Joash, over Israel. During the time of the father, Israel had been grievously oppressed by Hazael, King of Syria. In his latter years, indeed, some advantages had been gained by Joash; and in all the forty-one years of the dominion of Jeroboam, by persistent revolt against the tyranny of the oppressor, that monarch had succeeded in breaking his yoke and recovering to the kingdom of Israel most of the territory which had before been wrested from it. Protracted wars had, of course, left the realm, though enlarged in extent, yet impoverished in resources, and unsettled in feeling. It was like a field from which the first growth of the season had been just mown away; the verdure was ready to be renewed again, under favoring skies, at the juncture of the king's death. But, no sooner was his sceptre laid down than factions arose in the State, and years elapsed before his son was established on the throne of his fathers, and that, alas! but for a short reign. This uprising of rebellious spirits within the borders of the kingdom, before it had recovered from the desolation [6/7] which had been brought upon it by foreign pillage and by wars of resistance, the prophet is believed to have had in view, in the predictions which introduce our text; "Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me, and behold he formed grasshoppers, in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings; and it came to pass that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then said I, O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee. By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" If this has been rightly understood, "the king's mowings" were the exhausting wars which had swept over Israel. The "latter growth" was the national peace and prosperity for which they had been longing, and which seemed about to flourish once more when these wars were suspended; and "the grasshoppers" which then were formed on the very soil from which the reapers of death had been driven off, were those contending factions which hindered the settlement of the kingdom. In a mood of perplexity at trials so manifold, and yet, with deprecation of God's anger because he put such an inquiry, the Prophet importunately asked in the text, "By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" There must have been many junctures in the history of God's ancient Israel, when it required a lofty faith to maintain the conviction that the God of Abraham was indeed their covenant Father and Friend. Assailed and humbled by their Gentile adversaries, scourged with pestilence, blight, and mildew, committed often to the rule of wicked, cruel, and idolatrous princes, the nation [7/8] seemed at times abandoned of God, and there was nothing left for the devout believer but to look away from these ominous facts, and to fix the regard of the soul steadily, and with implicit faith, upon "the covenant of promise."
In the experiences of the Church of Christ, as in that of her individual members, these foreshadowings of trial shown to the elder saints have been often realized. Nothing could seem more improbable, if the problem were tried by the standard of ordinary human enterprise, than that the doctrines of eternal life, as brought to light in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, should ever have obtained the extension and influence which they now have in the world. Think where they were first promulgated--not in Athens, the home of the ancient sages; not in Rome, the social and imperial mistress of the world, but in an obscure and humiliated province. Remember that the author of the system was the reputed son of a poor carpenter, born in a contemptible village, with no advantages of station, wealth, or learning, who lived in contempt and sorrow, and died in ignominy. Take note that his associates and abettors were simple fishermen, whose testimony was discredited by all the magnates of their time, who were driven out by their own nation, accounted deceivers wherever they went, and, in divers places, with scarce an exception, brought to an untimely and violent end. Think when, despite all these untoward circumstances of its origin, this Church of Christ, planted in the low places of the world with labor, and travail, and watered with tears of blood, had taken root so that [8/9] it covered the land, how it became endangered by the overshadowing influence and protection of earthly power. How its fruits grew unsightly, bitter, and diminished; how the very ministers of religion became forgetful or ignorant of its doctrines and duties: and as they lost the knowledge or the love of the truth, brought forth in its stead carnal observances, onerous exactions of bodily chastisement, or pecuniary contribution, until it came to be a problem in Christendom whether the despotism of government or the administration of religion were the greater and more grievous burden. Think of the unprecedented strife, and turmoil, and social convulsion which racked the civilized world, when, in the providence of God, it was given to a portion of his people to cast off these abominations, and to bring out again for the temporal and eternal benefit of mankind the doctrines, and sacraments, and ministry of the Gospel as the Lord had of old appointed the same. How passing strange to human comprehension, the survival of the Word and Church of Christ through all these vicissitudes! And then, consider the tenor and spirit of the system itself, so offensive to human pride--so fraught with censure upon the character and conduct of mankind,--so unlike in its rules of living, and in its revelations of future reward and punishment to all the tastes and notions of men,--so diverse from every scheme which earthly wisdom had devised or common hope and desire had dreamed of! Why has not something lapsed from such a theory of religion, in the long succession of ages in which it has been [9/10] wrought upon by influences like these? Is it possible that the aversion of the natural heart, resisting in every human bosom the doctrine of "Christ, and Him crucified," has been unable to blot it out from the records of the world? Human philosophy cannot account for it, that kings and princes, however combined, could not crush out the infant Church; that the vices of its traitorous adherents could not pollute its fountains of truth nor fatally tarnish its character; that neither the carelessness, the ignorance, nor the dishonesty of the keepers of Holy Writ, and of the institutions, ordinances, and offices through which the lively oracles were to be transmitted, illustrated, and made effectual, have been able to impair either the Book or the instrumentalities through which God will have it delivered to every generation of men!
Some presumptuous skeptics (take the Jewish rulers, who knew all the wonders of Christ's life, and yet stood before him on Calvary and said, "Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him"), some skeptics ask for continuous miracles to prove the Gospel to be "the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Why, we are bold to aver, that there is no miracle on record in the Gospel more marvelous, more variant from the common experiences of man, more contradictory to the laws of nature, as we know them, than this perpetual sign and wonder, to wit--the continuance of this unmutilated Gospel; the spread of this man-abasing religion; the unfailing repetition of these sacramental links coupling the Saints of all ages in one communion and fellowship; the succession [10/11] of this ministry, whose triple chord neither the stagnant corruption of the middle ages could dissolve, nor the fury of modern fanaticism can break. In these consecrated walls he who craves a preternatural sign of the sanction of the Almighty on the system of truth which Jesus taught and enacted, and his Apostles, by commission, developed and embodied, may witness to-day a miracle fresh and patent to his own senses, in this representative assemblage of a Church (not which has adopted, but) which retains, by descent from primitive times, the preaching of the pure Word of God, the due ministration of the Sacraments according to Christ's ordinance and the Orders which Apostles received by the breath of their ascending Lord, certified with His promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world!"
There has been many a juncture in the centuries which the Church of Christ (in all its essential and divinely appointed characteristics), has survived, wherein it seemed, in some vital particular, to have become extinct. But the loss was only apparent, so Israel, captive in Babylon, offered to the speculative mind, no token of a prolonged existence and a brighter destiny. But the being of the covenant people, and the enjoyment of all their immunities as children of promise, were as certain facts under the iron heel of Nebuchadnezzar as under the golden sceptre of Solomon! "Jacob" was never abandoned, although sometimes brought low, and moved, in the consciousness of his own utter insufficiency, to cry out, "By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" There is [11/12] something encouraging, brethren, in this remembrance of how it fared with the typical Church. The assurance may be gleaned out of the history of the Flock, both before and since the great Shepherd came to repair and enlarge the borders of his fold, that he will not fail the children of his anointed, though "he visit their offences with the rod, and their sin with scourges." The past forbids the question, whether "Jacob" shall survive; it sanctions and helps us to answer the query, "By whom shall he arise?"
The posture and mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this land is a subject-matter on which not only the thoughtful members of this Church, but all reflecting men who either love their country or their Saviour, are constrained to look with lively interest. This interest arises in no degree from the numerical strength of our Communion, for there are many bodies professing faith in our common Redeemer, and drawing their views of doctrine and duty from his Gospel, who far surpass us in numbers. Nor yet would it be becoming to attribute the general concern in our attitude and proceedings to the eminent respectability of the persons who, in every community where our worship is introduced, are drawn by taste or religious affinity, to attend upon its ministration; for there are men of other names no whit behind them in personal merit and in social esteem. Rather the distinctive features of the Church itself; the way in which its doctrines are set forth in its formularies; the simple purity and beauty of its liturgical worship, and [12/13] the spirit (we speak not boastfully, as if we claimed for our people a singular holiness), but the calm conservative spirit with which it infuses its members; these are the occasions which command for a comparatively small Body, among the many that profess and call themselves Christians, a large, and respectful, and inquisitive consideration.
It was natural when a nation was being moulded upon a new continent, and by men who had left their ancient homes in disgust with the social evils which long use had made too sacred for change, that there should prevail in the public mind an inclination to make a fresh experiment in all things--in religion, as well as government. It was a thing of course, that the Church which in pomp and power had been closely associated with an aristocracy whose oppressions, fancied or real, had driven them out from the Father-land, should have been specially distasteful to the vigorous and strong-willed pilgrims who laid the foundations of this social structure, and gave its original bent to the public sentiment. The Church of England was, indeed, implanted here in the times of the early settlers; but it was rather to meet the wishes of a few disappointed and decayed families, who had sought these distant shores to hide the decline of their fortunes, and to catch a chance for their recovery, than to answer the demands of the masses of the young and enterprising who came out for love of adventure, and for freedom to gain a social position and power which it were hopeless to wait for at home. These longed for new institutions [13/14] in Church and State; and the experiment of perfect religious independency, not only of freedom from hierarchal authority, but from traditional usage, and venerable associations has surely here been tried as never before, on the face of the earth. Whether that experiment has brought out, or is now foreshadowing its ultimate results, we need not here declare. Suffice it to say, that there is some wholesome reaction now apparent in the public mind. Reflecting men, of all shades of religious opinion, are beginning to ask themselves, whether the institutions of Christianity--a scheme of Divine revelation--are, after all, left to be found out, like the proper structure of civil government, by long, and often disastrous experiments; whether all the probabilities of the case do not suggest, that he who gave to mankind this system of Heavenly truth, and required all who should embrace it to band themselves together as a peculiar people, must have given also the constitution of that brotherhood, designated the officers who should preside over it, and provided for their perpetuation. Experience is teaching some social economists even, who stand outside the pale of the Church, that a great people, whatever be their freedom of political action, need some conservative element, so to chasten liberty that it shall not decline into licentiousness--that the ship of state requires ballast as well as sail. The conviction, I am persuaded, is gaining ground that this element of stability is to be found in the institutions of religion: and, therefore, that a Church which claims to have an Apostolic formula of Faith,--a system of [14/15] Worship, yea, words of devotion, that are embalmed in the deathless spicery and myrrh of that early piety, whose secret is almost lost upon earth,--a ministry not only constituted after the primitive model, but subsisting by Divine authority transmitted through Apostles' hands, that such a Church, breathing throughout its membership the spirit of its institutions, is, whether great or small, eminently worthy of respectful consideration.
The Church of our affections has the honor and the responsibility of wearing these insignia before the people of this land. "Be not high-minded, but fear," it becomes us to write on all our phylacteries. The distinctive features of the Church's system (all of them time-honored--some of them Divine), it is the duty of her children to guard with filial care; not because they are characteristic of her, not for the sake of marking her separation from others,--but for the common good, that the savor of her conservatism may diffuse itself somewhat in the religious world, and restrain or rebuke the extravagances of sectarism. It is not a time, brethren, in which we can with justice to ourselves, or charity to any who "name the name of Christ," ignore or disparage even the usages of the Sanctuary, which were begun in purer ages long past, and have been consecrated by the practice of generations of the holy since. When wistful eyes are looking to our Ark, as a house of refuge from impending and imminent dangers, it is not for us to break up the covering, and open it on all sides, till it will neither shelter ourselves, nor offer a covert to them who [15/16] would flee to it. To "keep up with the times," in the style of their religion, is the vain attempt of some who love the Saviour and desire the good of men no less than we. The scheme is an awful fallacy--it subordinates the agency of God to the caprices of men. To keep back with the times was just as incumbent upon the Church when it went in advance of a sluggish age, as now to catch the spirit of its adventure. "I change not," is the voice of the Almighty out of Heaven; something of his stability should appear in that which claims to represent him on earth.
And yet, in the effort to be conservative, how easy it is to decline into lifelessness--to lavish attention upon the fitness of the structure, till we forget to inquire whether the spirit for whose habitation it was reared have not ceased to occupy it--to be zealous for the institution, and starve out the living thought which fashioned it, for practical use and not for fanciful display. Religion, we trust, is not dead, and therefore the Church is not needed for its monument. The Church is an admirable structure, but it is wanted only for the activities of religion; not as a substitute for, but an appliance of, life. The fossil of a mastodon may be very grand, and indicative of surpassing strength once possessed; but the form of a living mouse has more actual power. Brethren, if we would have "Jacob arise," and "the small one become a strong nation," we must not only maintain the distinctive Doctrines, Discipline, and Worship of the Church, but also be careful that they be vitalized by a spirit of [16/17] fervent piety. And, that they are susceptible of the most faithful use, when the flame of devotion is most ardent, the religious experience of other times, if not of our own, will certify. "The form of Godliness" without "the power," cannot edify, and religious sentiment without suitable appliances will not. The voice of all the past, alike under the Mosaic and Christian economy, teaches us that the Church of God is not to find advantage and wholesome increase in the abandonment of any distinctive truth revealed of God, or any expression of that truth, or any usage to give it significance and practical effect, adopted in primitive times, and still fragrant with the piety of the saints of all ages. We need nothing that is new to adorn or commend, or enforce the everlasting Gospel,--only a warmer spirit of love, a more fervent tone of devotion, to employ the better and the more effectively that which is old! [*A Reverend friend who heard this discourse, queried whether the author had here left himself ground enough to stand upon, as a friend of, and partaker in, the "Memorial" movement, as it is popularly called. He thinks so. In his judgment, that "Memorial," so far from pleading for novelties, asked only for a declarative act, proclaiming primitive freedom in the use of venerable forms, which prejudice rather than Canon-law now restrains; and for the more Catholic dispensation of a "power" which has been transmitted from the beginning through the Church, and "which the Lord has given to edification, and not to destruction."]
There could be no compromise, under the elder economy, of the Jews with the Samaritans. Both acknowledged the law of Moses; both worshipped the God of Abraham; [17/18] both made covenant with Him through the ordinance of Circumcision; but Jerusalem could not be abandoned for Mount Gerizim. The Temple, and other matters of visible propriety in the worship of God, were fixed facts in the Levitical economy--ordained of Heaven, or made sacred by immemorial use, and approved by unvarying experience of their advantages. No result of union could compensate for the surrender of these. But O! what a folly was it in "Jacob" to estrange, by insolence and contempt, and bitter denunciation, these natural friends and allies. What a monstrous sin to hold them in greater hatred than the worshippers of Moloch and Baal! How just it was in God, how admonitory to his covenant children in all time to come, to cut off a people who thus abused his favor and misrepresented the spirit of his oracles, and to adopt, in their stead, a nation bringing forth the fruits of righteousness!
Again, we would reply to the question, "By whom shall Jacob arise?"--using the words as an inquiry for hopeful measures whereby to advance the prosperity of our Zion,--that it cannot be done by any sort of compromise or alliance with the world. Israel of old frequently attempted to call in the help of Assyria, and to "trust in the shadow of Egypt," and thereby acquired a temporary supremacy over less formidable enemies; but these aliens always made the time of the unnatural union an occasion for finding out the wealth of their resources, and the places of its deposit. The Temple was sacked, and the golden vessels of the Sanctuary were borne away and [18/19] desecrated at the revels of treacherous Princes, who once, under pretext of friendship, took observations and made ready for that plunder! God would have his people trust in Him, and therefore brought disaster upon their every attempt to repose on human help. It was their piety that failed when they thought to aggrandize the nation by heathen alliances; and in the robbing of their religion, and its sacred utensils, they found their punishment. There is a moral in this history, for whose sake it was written, and embodied among those sacred oracles, which, to the Church in these latter days, convey the Law of God and the manner of its administration.
The apparent relations of the world to the Church are constantly changing. In one age it assumes an attitude of unmasked hostility. Persecution is visited upon the disciples of Jesus, and they are pressed together in closer fraternity, and (cut off from all earthly succor,) are driven to rest their confidence and hope only in God. In this common nearness to him, and to one another, they learn to "walk by the same rule, and to mind the same thing." Interest in a common cause makes them forgetful of minor differences which had once estranged them; and they grow "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!" Christ speaks to them out of the excellent glory, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." Satan has often in the lapse of the ages, found that he cannot quench the glory of the Church by open warfare; it is no sooner humbled before God than it becomes invincible. He [19/20] next assails it with stratagem, affects to hold it in reverent regard; instructs his subjects to render ostensible honor to its moral precepts, and to mimic its practices. He moves them to mingle freely and cordially with its members; yea, some of his own trusty ones he permits to take the oath of allegiance to Christ, and to perform some acts of devotion that have the guise of Christian loyalty. And the Lord's people are often beguiled by such devices; they are amazed to find religion so popular; the barriers to its extension seem to be all broken down; everybody is friendly to it, and there appears no reason why the Church may not set up the symbols of its supremacy everywhere, for the Cross is become the counter-sign of all people. Alas, alas, it is to be feared that we are living in a period, when the seed of Jacob are passing the ordeal of such devices. The Church, (with whatever limitations we use the title,) meets with little opposition. This, however, it may be well for us to note, that for every concession which the world makes to the Church, in the way of outward obeisance, it intends to gain, and usually effects a surrender of some spiritual grace of infinitely greater value. When it is thus insinuating, it designs to get at the sources of moral power, to learn what are the treasures of the Sanctuary, and where they are hid; and, at a time when the guardians of the City of the great King look not for it, every one of these insidious friends whom the world has coaxed into the fellowship of the Church, will stand disclosed as an armed and relentless foe!
 There is probably no body of Christians who have more to fear from the flattering approaches of the world than we of the Episcopal Communion. To the taste of the refined and intellectual, our worship is peculiarly adapted. The quiet dignity and conservatism of our whole system harmonizes well with the staid proprieties and self-respect of educated life. And there is always danger of our becoming forgetful that under the decorum of a behaviour adjusted with scrupulous regard to the niceties of time and place, there may still be hidden the "evil heart of unbelief;" and that "the natural mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Let us, brethren, by precept and example, magnify the spirituality of our faith;--let us be more careful than others to enforce and illustrate the doctrine, that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Let us repel every advance, however flattering; let us shut our eyes and steel our hearts against every hope of aggrandisement for the Church, which brings with it the condition, expressed or implied, that it shall accommodate itself to the iniquities or to the follies of the world.
And thus we are led further to remark, that "Jacob," the household of faith, can "arise" by no other human succor, than that which one member in the family can render to his fellow. O! that we could feel more the responsibilities of our position as a Church of the living God! that we could realize--that, in the distinctive tenets and practices of our communion, the features of our ecclesiastical system which have drawn us together and made [21/22] us what we are, and caused us to assume the name by which we are alike distinguished, we have an heritage of precious worth; a possession which, the more it separates us from others, invites us to a closer mutual fraternity. Have we not more in common with one another, than with all the world beside? Shall the fact that we are not pressed with persecution from without, instead of leading to the development and efficient use of our internal resources, awaken us to a keener observation of our domestic differences, and a conflict of opinion, which must be the more irritating and destructive in proportion as the contestants are near in position and bound by sacred affinities? None of the wars of the seed of Jacob were so disastrous as their intestine strifes. Judah and Israel at variance--children of the same father, worshippers of the same God, confessors of the same faith, devotees of the same ritual--they wasted one another as no foreign enemy could have done; and, the weakness to which they thus reduced themselves fitted them for that utter destruction which at last befel them both.
We do not assume that it is impossible for any recusant power to rise up within the Church, which ought to be driven out of it. Eccentric and ill-balanced minds, and wayward hearts, will bring in damnable heresies, to whom we ought not to give place, by way of subjection, even for an hour. But there are proper tribunals for the arraignment of such offenders; and perhaps even these can be often best subdued and over-ruled, as Paul proposed to quell the jealousies in the Corinthian Church, [22/23] by showing "a more excellent way," by the "charity which suffereth long and is kind;" which "vaunteth not itself; is not easily provoked;" and "doth not behave itself unseemly." It is supposable that erratic understandings, and unsanctified hearts may pervert the most simple and precious truths, like as spiders extract poison out of the sweetest flowers; but is it supposable, I ask, that any large body of intelligent and generally upright men, adopting one and the same schedule of faith, drawn out of the pure word of God, and concerning their own and others' salvation, can take (in nearly equal numbers) essentially different views of its import; so that what is vital in the one interpretation, is wholly absent from the other? Then must it be confessed, that the schedule itself was drawn with little nicety of thought or expression. No, brethren, I thank God for the belief that there is a more cordial unity of thought and feeling in the Church of our love, than we are sometimes led to apprehend. In a Church which claims to be Catholic, while there must be purity and harmony of faith, there may be diversity of opinion. Nothing else than division and subdivision can be the result, if it be the condition of fraternity, that all who may be in its bonds shall think alike. The more active we are in the work of the Lord, the more sweet will be our consciousness that there are Divine sympathies between us, which no variance of understanding can possibly dissolve. Let us come for a joint and holy purpose near enough to feel the beating of each other's heart, and we shall find with glad surprise that they [23/24] beat in unison! O, for the dawn of that promised day, when "the root of Jesse" [alone] "shall stand for an ensign of the people," when "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim!" "Then shall the offering of Judah, and of Jerusalem, be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years!"
"By whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" Thus far we have adverted to those sources of help which might seem to be at hand, and on which, under divers influences and circumstances, the Church might be inclined wisely or unwisely to lean. We shall all agree in this at least, that in the great conflict with sin and death, "vain is the help of man." "Our help cometh from the Lord who hath made Heaven and earth." Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, is the guardian and hope of his church. "Without Him we can do nothing." Strange, it seems to us, that Israel of old, whose history was all alight with the gleaming forth of his "mighty hand, and stretched out arm," ever for one moment relaxed their confidence in the God of their fathers, or placed it in any other. Stranger, does it appear to those bright spirits who look with desire unsatisfied into the fathomless depths of redeeming love, that the Church of the latter day can withdraw its eyes from the benignity and chastened light of that countenance whereon the "glory of God is revealed, even in the face of Jesus Christ," who is "the Captain of our salvation," the " Fore-runner" of his people, "Head over all things to the Church, which is his Body."
But, in turning to Christ as our all-sufficient champion, [24/25] who is "not straitened to save by many, or by few," it behoves us to remember that he offers himself not merely an object of faith outside the Church, but as a source of faith in it. To call upon Him for succor, sitting upon the throne of His glory, shall be of little avail, if the Shechinah of his constant presence be not in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Audience of Christ above, is made sure by Communion with Christ below! The Church must be bathed in all its members with His spirit, or it cannot be invulnerable. "Christ formed in us the hope of glory," leaves us nothing to desire of earthly defence or comfort--nothing to fear of earthly or of infernal assault. The Doctrine of CHRIST we have in all its fulness embodied in our formularies,--inwrought into the very texture of our worship. The Sacraments of CHRIST in their beautiful simplicity, and with every befitting word and symbol of illustration, are ours. The Ministry of CHRIST, ordained with ancient rites and due authority, wait at our altars. "Vials full of odors--the prayers of the saints," and anthems of praise such as the Angels sing, are offered to our use. Every pillar in this spiritual temple is inscribed with the name of CHRIST; every utterance of devotion breathes the savor of His grace. Great is our privilege, great are our responsibilities. Alas, if we do not meet and improve them! Mementos of Christ disregarded now, will become stings of remorse hereafter. His preciousness to the Church in the great day, shall be found to consist, not in that he was acknowledged in her forms, but in that he was [25/26] enshrined in the hearts of her individual members. Be it, then, our aim, for our own safety's sake, as well as for the glory and increase of our Zion, to be one with Christ,--to draw our faith from Him,--to fix our faith on Him, to live by Him,--to live for Him,--to live in Him. The rule of our individual life, the spirit of our common vocation,--the secret of our associate strength and increase, are found in that beautiful compend of holy Paul. "Speaking the truth in love, we may grow up unto 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."
Now, unto him that is able to do, exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church, by Christ Jesus, world without end. Amen.
 O ALMIGHTY GOD, WHO HAST BUILT THY CHURCH UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNER STONE; GRANT THAT BY THE OPERATION OF TIIE HOLY GHOST, ALL CHRISTIANS MAY BE SO JOINED TOGETHER IN UNITY OF SPIRIT, AND IN THE BOND OF PEACE, THAT THEY MAY BE AN HOLY TEMPLE ACCEPTABLE UNTO THEE. AND ESPECIALLY TO THIS CONGREGATION PRESENT GIVE THE ABUNDANCE OF THY GRACE, THAT WITH ONE HEART THEY MAY DESIRE THE PROSPERITY OF THY HOLY APOSTOLIC CHURCH, AND WITH ONE MOUTH MAY PROFESS TIIE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS. DEFEND THEM FROM THE SINS OF HERESY AND SCHISM; LET NOT THE FOOT OF PRIDE COME NIGH TO HURT THEM, NOR THE HAND OF THE UNGODLY TO CAST THEM DOWN. AND GRANT THAT THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD MAY BE SO PEACEABLY ORDERED BY THY GOVERNANCE, THAT THY CHURCH MAY JOYFULLY SERVE THEE IN ALL GODLY QUIETNESS; THAT SO THEY MAY WALK IN THE WAYS OF TRUTH AND PEACE, AND AT LAST BE NUMBERED WITH THY SAINTS IN GLORY EVERLASTING, THROUGH THY MERITS, O BLESSED JESUS, THOU GRACIOUS BISHOP AND SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS, WHO ART WITH THE FATHER, AND THE HOLY GHOST, ONE GOD, WORLD WITHOUT END. AMEN.