AND TO CHRISTENDOM.
ASSISTANT BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK,
BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY.
EDGAR PARKER, PRINTER,
TO THE RT. REV. WILLIAM HENRY ODENHEIMER, D. D., BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY:
RT. REV. AND DEAR SIR:--I ,am authorized and directed by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western New York, to solicit for publication a copy of the Sermon preached by you at the Consecration of the RT. REV. ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, Doctor in Divinity, ASSISTANT BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE. The Standing Committee believe that your compliance with this request will serve materially to promote the great objects for which the Church was founded--the Glory of its Divine Head, and the Peace of the World and of Christendom.
With the highest respect,
I am most faithfully yours,
President of the Standing Committee.
GENEVA, JAN. 5, 1865.
REV. AND DEAR DR. METCALF:
I am highly honored by the favorable judgment on my Sermon at the Consecration of the ASSISTANT BISHOP, by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Western New York.
Although my unaffected dislike to publish Sermons leads me to hope that the Committee will not adhere to the request which they have so courteously made, yet, I will forward the Manuscript, and place it at their disposal.
With sincere respect,
Very faithfully yours,
W. H. ODENHEIMER
BURLINGTON, N. J., JAN. 8th, 1865.
Hear the words of the LORD JESUS:--
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on ME through their word; That they all may be one; as THOU, FATHER, art in ME, and I in THEE, that they also may be one in US: that the world may believe that THOU hast sent ME.
St. John, XVII: 20, 21.
"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you."--St. John xx: 21.
AMONG the solemnities of the Christian Church there is none more august, none more worthy of universal interest, than the Consecration of a Bishop.
It is the addition of another link in that golden chain of love, which is grasped, in Heaven, by the hand of the Incarnate and Ascended Son of God, and which is destined to bind this redeemed earth fast to His throne, by visible tokens of His Kingly Overseership. It is the introduction of another Ruler and Pastor of pastors into the divinely appointed corporation, to which the Lord Jesus Christ, who has all power in Heaven and Earth, has committed the extension of His faith, and the government, discipline and edification of the faithful, even unto the end of the world. It is another incontrovertible evidence of the truth of Christianity, in the manifest fulfilment of His splendid promise, "On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."
Not for personal ambition, but for faith; not for the honor of man, but for the glory of God in Christ; has the Church of the living God preserved, with religious care, the Episcopate. Not for the perpetuation of discord, but for Charity: not for division, but for Unity; do we propose this day, acting under the protection of Almighty God, to [7/8] consecrate to the Order of Bishops our well-beloved and most worthy Brother elect.
We know of but one remedy, here at the end of the age, for the disorders of a sin-stricken world,--it is the old remedy, of the beginning of the age,--the Gospel of the Grace of God.
After eighteen centuries of progress in physical science, we know of but one way to extend that Gospel,--it is the old way of the first century, the way of Him who said to a specific body of men: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."
We know of but one method, in this new world beneath the setting sun, whereby Unity and Union, Charity and Sanctity can be maintained and increased; it is the very method which "originated in the old world, near the gates of the Morning, in the city where the Lord was crucified,--"they continued steadfastly, in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Right or wrong in our conscientious conviction; commended or condemned by others, we know of but one way to restore peace to the divided and rent Christendom which may yet witness the Second Advent of the Lord;--it is the old way, which secured peace for the Christendom that witnessed the First Advent of the Lord, and which is embodied in the salutation and order of Jesus Himself, in the text,--"Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
Not as a mere formal salutation, not as the world gives, did the Risen Head of the Church, utter the words "Peace be unto you;" but as conveying to the Apostolic College, that Gift of Peace which was to be perpetuated in the Episcopate, itself to be perpetuated by virtue of the order. "As My Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
I propose to you, therefore, as appropriate to the [8/9] occasion, and imploring the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to discuss this subject,
THE APOSTOLIC EPISCOPATE: A DIVINELY ORDAINED CHANNEL OF PEACE TO THE WORLD, AND, TO CHRISTENDOM.
Let us proceed to consider,
I. What we are to understand by the phrase the Apostolic Episcopate.
II. How it is the Channel of Peace to the World.
III. How it is the Channel of Peace to Christendom.
I. What are we to understand by the phrase, THE APOSTOLIC EPISCOPATE?
The phrase is used to designate the divinely appointed Ministerial body which was sent by Christ, even as He was sent by the Father, and to which, the Ascended, yet Ever Present Head of the Church committed the extension of His Gospel, and the government of His elect people, the Christian Church; that body whose members were at first designated by the title, Apostles, and afterwards Bishops, and which, by an unbroken historic succession, has been perpetuated always, everywhere, and by all Christians, until within the last three hundred years.
The Apostolic Episcopate is one corporation, of which the individual Bishops are members, enjoying their powers and rights in common, and sharing in the promises of benediction as they continue in the Unity of the divine organism.
This Episcopate is charged with the prolongation of Christ's work of love, by preaching the Gospel, and providing for the government of the faithful. It, therefore, has no power to alter in any respect the fundamental principles or constitutional laws which Christ Himself established, nor to change by addition or diminution any part of the divine depositum of faith, or order entrusted to it.
 The Promises of power and success, of authority and benediction are made to the Episcopate as a whole. The words of Him, who is the Source of all Power, are, "Go ye." "Whatsoever YE shall bind." Whose soever sins YE remit." The promise of perpetuity is made to the corporation, as such. The influence, therefore, which the Apostolic Episcopate exerts is, even in an individual member of it, the influence of the whole, and the fullness of power is exerted by the individual members, in unity with the whole. In proportion as unapostolic additions or diminutions are made in its divine order and functions, will its efficiency be impaired and its ordained function of peace be hindered.
If its Apostolic oneness, its Apostolic faith, its Apostolic humility, its Apostolic charity, its Apostolic zeal for Jesus and the Gospel, be impaired in any degree, in that degree it will fail of blessing the world or Christendom. The Apostolic Episcopate, as He originated it, is Christ's way to fulfil Christ's work in evangelizing the world. It is the medium through which, Christ would manifest Himself by the power of the Holy Ghost, as still abiding in the world to fulfil His gracious mission of saving it. That medium must remain just as He constituted it, or it cannot fulfil its office. An Episcopate which, in any way, can be shown to be unapostolical is not the body which I affirm to bear a gracious and most attractive relation to the world and Christendom. It is evident to all, that there was a body of men to whom Christ said "Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent me, even so send I you." It is evident to all, that to the same body of men he gave the authority, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven "; and again, "Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." It is evident unto all, that to this same body, the Lord said "Go ye and teach all nations, [10/11] baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Now it is to that body, as continuing to do these and all else that the Lord commanded, that I apply the phrase, the Apostolic Episcopate; and it is this body, whose head is Christ, ever present by His Holy Spirit, and preserving its identity, its unity, its gracious Gifts, its Evangelical Mission, and all its momentous functions, whose relation to the world and to Christendom is that of a divinely appointed channel of Peace.
II. Let us proceed in the second place to inquire how such an Episcopate is an ordained Channel of Peace to the WORLD.
The mysterious and power-bearing words, "As My Father hath sent me, even so send I you," addressed to the Apostolic Episcopate, lead us to inquire what relation Christ bore to the world? How did the Father send the Son--as it respects the world at large, the whole human race? In one regard, His relation as the Incarnate Son of God, the one, all-sufficient Atonement for the sins of the world, is peerless, tolerating no division nor share, and admitting no repetition nor extension. Nevertheless, the relation of Christ to the world is the key to the relation of the chosen Apostolic Episcopate to the world. Christ's relation to the world is one of peace, and love, and good will, to all without exception.
Not for anathema, but for benediction, did the great head of His Church enter this world as man. As the Father sent the Son not to condemn but to save the world, so the Son sent his Apostles as an organized body, not to condemn, but to save, their fellow men by preaching the glorious Gospel of Salvation to every creature under heaven. [11/12] The Apostolic Episcopate, therefore, is a channel of peace to the world, as bearing to all the world the glorious Gospel of Salvation through faith in the one, only, all-sufficient sacrifice of the Gross. The object of its origin and perpetuation, so far as the world is concerned, is to manifest the love of God in Christ, and to point out the only way of peace to the restless and sin disturbed souls of men, through the Cross and Passion of the Incarnate Son of God, Whatever incidental works of Grace the Episcopate may do, its great work is to hold up Jesus and the Resurrection, in all simplicity and power, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life: to teach men made in the image and likeness of God that Christ, and not Satan, is their true King, and to help them to claim their true relation to their Father in Heaven and to Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and thereby secure eternal life. The Apostolic Episcopate may have many ways of discharging its eminent and discriminating function, but that function is to preach the Gospel as it presents Christ as the Merit; faith as the qualification; the Sacraments as the means; and obedience as the test of Salvation; to protect the Gospel from all change, even though an angel from Heaven should seek to add to, or to diminish aught.
To preach Christ as the Redeemer of the world, the Revealer of God's will and the Giver of the Holy Ghost,--Christ in His natures, in His person, in His work, in His word, in His Sacramental and other gracious provisions' for blessing the world,--is the true and only way to give peace to the world.
As Christ did not come to anathematize but to save; so His Episcopate stands not for anathema but for blessing. The servant is not greater than his Lord. The Episcopate, with all its powers for discipline, is to be known by its eminent function, viz. to PREACH THE GOSPEL; and, therefore, its mission is not to denounce but to bless a world, redeemed by the precious death and passion of the Incarnate Son of God.
The last words of Jesus are still sounding forth from Olivet:--they are the perpetual law to guide the Episcopate, and the perpetual guarantee that its mission is one of peace to the world--"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." That GOSPEL is the prolongation of the first Christmas carol, "Peace on earth, good will to men." And that Gospel is for "every creature."
The Apostolic Episcopate, therefore, is the trustee to the whole world, of the Grace of God in Christ. It comes to all, in the name of Jesus, claiming authority indeed from Him to arrest the attention of all men, declaring that "as the Father sent Him, so sent He them," but using that authority, not for personal vanity or ambition, but simply and only to give emphasis to the human utterance of the gracious Master, "Peace be unto you."
III. But let us consider now, in the third place, the relation of the Apostolic Episcopate to CHRISTENDOM, and how it is a divinely appointed Channel of Peace to it.
As Christ bore a relation to those who heard His voice, and obeyed His word and followed Him, giving peace to His disciples, by being a centre of Unity, around which they could rally, and to which they might turn for authority to guide, rule, govern and build them up in their faith, so the Apostolic Episcopate; besides its other functions, perpetuates this work towards the faithful--those who profess and call themselves Christians. "As my Father hath sent me even so send I you," is the authority for the Apostolic Episcopate to become the centre of Unity to all Christendom;--the centre of Unity as the depository of the Evangelical faith; the centre of Unity as the ordained authority to continue the Evangelic Ministry. As the Episcopate [13/14] promotes the peace of the world by the zealous preaching of the Gospel; so it promotes the peace of those who hear and obey that Gospel, that is of Christendom, by being the centre of Unity, in faith, in government, in discipline.
Whatever may be the gracious will of the loving Savior of the world in reference to efforts to extend His faith, and win souls to Him, aside from the one commissioned body which He sent even as He was sent of the Father, it is evident that, the only Ministerial body, which He commissioned, was the Apostolic band to whom the text was addressed. It is equally plain from the Book of the Acts that the Church,--the assembly of those who were gathered out of the world and who by faith and baptism avowed themselves to be the disciples of Jesus,--was preserved in unity by adhering to the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and joining in the Sacraments, and worship which the Apostles, by Christ's authority, ministered and authorized.
The Apostolate was the channel of peace to the first disciples as being thus the visible centre of Unity, as the representative of the true centre of Unity, invisible, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Christendom of Apostolic times was at peace, because in doctrine, discipline, worship, and Ministerial authority there was Unity. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all--these fundamental facts, in all their essential integrity--were propagated and defended by the Apostolic Episcopate; and thus, with the widest range for opinion, and the freest liberty for discussion of non-essential points, the union of Christians was secured. Unity issuing in Union gave peace to the first Christendom, and the centre of Unity to the Ecclesiastical body then known as the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, was the Apostolic Episcopate.
As the conservators and propagators of the pure Gospel, [14/15] the ordainers of Ministers, the holders of the keys to bind or to loose, the conveyers of the Holy Ghost in the laying on of hands, the Apostolic Episcopate was and ever will be the channel of peace to Christendom, by presenting a divinely ordained centre of Unity to the faithful.
In proportion as the Episcopate departs from the Apostolic standard, in doctrine, in discipline, in authority, in proportion as it varies either by addition or diminution, in that proportion it loses the power to give or to perpetuate Peace to Christendom. The words of Jesus giving peace are inseparable from the words of Jesus giving the Apostles Authority.
If the Apostolic Episcopate can not make good its claim to be sent of Jesus even as He was sent of the Father, it has no valid claim to be a divinely ordained Channel of peace to Christendom. If there be a departure from Apostolic purity, zeal, sanctity and charity; if there be no Apostolic Gospel preached, no Apostolic discipline administered; if there be no claim to Apostolic authority, or a claim to more than Apostolic authority, there is no divine right to say to Christendom, "Peace be unto you."
It is a wholesome duty for those who maintain the importance of an Apostolic Episcopate, to review the history of the order, and to see whether the discord and strife which exist among those who profess and call themselves Christians, be not, in part, due to the failure of the Episcopate to preserve in all respects its Apostolic character. It may lead to a more equitable and charitable temper in discussing the divisions of Christendom, and may contribute something towards the restitution of Unity, by compelling the Episcopate of this day, as it exists in the various branches of the Church Catholic, to cast the beam out of its own eye whilst seeking to pull the mote out of its brother's eye. There is gracious and divinely ordained power to repair the [15/16] breaches of Christendom in the Episcopate; but then it must be a truly Apostolic and Catholic Episcopate, adhering to the Gospel of the Bishop of Bishops, neither adding to nor taking from the Creed, the Sacraments, the discipline of His appointment; one and undivided; unchanged by the rise or fall of earthly kingdoms; and which, maintaining unimpaired the divine sanctity, charity, sympathy, and humility of the God Man, can witness for Jesus and His Resurrection with the authority of an unbroken Ministerial Succession; and here, at the end of the Dispensation, can stand forth, as Christ's mouth-piece, to prolong on earth, those words whose echoes have never ceased to resound through Heaven, "Peace be unto you; as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you."
O Bishops of the Church of Christ, Members of the one divinely appointed corporation for the extension and government of the Kingdom of God on this earth; shall we not compare ourselves with the standard of Christ in His institution of our order and in His prescriptions as to its functions and mission, and see whether in "the ages all along," we have maintained, unmutilated and unimpaired, the Faith and the Sacraments, the Ordinances and Authority given unto us at the beginning? O Brothers in this Holy Office, which the Lord instituted when He said "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you," whilst we deplore the divisions of Christendom, and the ignorance of the yet unconverted and unbelieving world, let us consider what account we can give of our fidelity to the Lord's original institution when He shall come again for judgment. The night of heathen ignorance still abides on many hundreds of millions of Christ's redeemed race, and there is no peace to their sin-defiled souls; and yet we were sent to preach the Gospel to all the world, and to give peace through the blood of Jesus! Have we fulfilled our commission, and [16/17] thus proved that we were sent even as Jesus was sent of the Father? Discord and division abound among those for whom Jesus prayed, "That they all may be one;" and yet we were sent by Him, even as He by the Father, to promote Unity, Peace, Charity and Union? Have we fulfilled our commission"? Has the Apostolic Episcopate been preserved in its integrity? Are we ourselves at Unity?
The least worthy of the Order, one who is not worthy to wash your feet, calls to you, O Pope, Patriarch, Metropolitan, Bishop, and asks, for Jesus' sake, have you maintained unimpaired His Apostolic Episcopate? Let your answer be made to Him who also has authority to receive it, even to the Bishop of Bishops, the Rock below the rock, the Vicegerent of God, who still sits, though invisible, upon his Episcopal throne in the midst of His one Episcopate, uttering the warning, "Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be."
And here in closing, let me address myself to you, Brother, now to be consecrated to a share in the Apostolic Episcopate. It is not the first time that you have been called to this Holy Office, and, therefore, you have duly considered the solemn functions, the weighty responsibility and the sure blessing of this divine Ministry. Your priestly life and labors are well known to the Church of God, and your Mother the Church welcomes her faithful son to the highest Ministry, in joyful anticipation of the good work for Christ yet to be done. That work is the uncompromising preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, in all the fulness of its original revelation. CHRIST CRUCIFIED is your theme--the same changeless Gospel, which Priest, and Deacon, and layman must proclaim, according to their several functions. Not to be called of men "Rabbi, Rabbi," not for the paltry [17/18] trappings of office, do you look forward to the dignity now to be conferred, but as it is indeed, to a dignity giving authority to do harder work for Christ and His Church.
A brother in sacred song as well as in Pastoral efficiency, with Presbyters like Herbert, Keble, and Croswell; be still a brother in that heavenly gift as well as in Episcopal Authority, as you take your seat with Ambrose, Gregory Nazianzen, Ken and Doane. Win souls to Jesus by every power that God has given you, and through every avenue that He has opened to the hearts of man.
The bearer of an honored name, you will to-day consecrate anew to the Triune God the treasures of your intellect and heart, in all their varied richness, and pour them out afresh at the foot of the Cross. For the hill of Ecclesiastical eminence like Calvary of old, is crowned with THE CROSS; and they who, in God's providence, ascend through the grades of the Christian Ministry to the highest point of Churchly authority, will find themselves lifted up, not for self exaltation but for self crucifixion. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you"--these words embrace, within their mysterious scope, suffering and sacrifice, as well as authority and dignity. A Bishop's true crozier is the Cross; his Mitre the crown of thorns: his Ring the stigmata of self sacrifice; and his message of peace and good will the end as well as the beginning of his Holy Ministry.
Your loving efforts to win souls to Christ and promote Unity and Charity among all, and especially among all Christian people, will find a more authoritative sanction in the Order of the Ministry to which you are to be consecrated; for the Apostolic Episcopate has the gift of Peace for Christendom by presenting a divinely appointed centre of Unity; as it has for the world at large, by the preaching of the Gospel, and the perpetual presentation of Christ and [18/19] Him crucified. Be it your work, by the grace of the Apostolate, and even more by the grace of charity, to make good your own heart-stirring words--
"Be every Church our home,
And love the battle word!
The Saint's Communion--one--
One Lord--one Faith--one birth,
O, pray to God the Son
For all His Church on earth."
It only remains for me to congratulate you, Brother, in having your especial sphere of work assigned you in God's providence, to assist the noble and unwearied Bishop of Western New York, in ministering to the beloved people of this large and most important Diocese.
This is said not for form's sake, but with heart and memory reaching back over a personal experience of more than a quarter of a century, filled with manifestations--Academical, Priestly and Episcopal--of that Prelate's large-hearted love; and with a shorter but equally certain personal experience of the generous treatment which the clergy and laity of this Diocese accord to a Bishop.
It is a gracious work to which you are called, to uphold the hands of one who, like Moses of old, accepts of help only at the command of God, and after long continued and exhausting work for Christ and His Church. As honorable as gracious, is your work, Brother; for you will perpetuate and expand a system of Diocesan efficiency which is marked, in every detail, by tokens of the most consummate wisdom and godly zeal.
I also congratulate you--the Bishop, Clergy and Laity of this Diocese--in having secured the assistance of one so thoroughly qualified, in head and heart, for the work of the Episcopate in this jurisdiction. May the great head of the Church ratify in Heaven the solemnities of this day consummated by his authority here on earth: and may He [19/20] long spare the venerable Bishop of this Diocese, whose work of twenty-seven years in laving its foundations can not be over estimated, to enjoy the aid of the vigorous right arm on which he may now lean, as he passes on toward his final reward!
I assume no doubtful authority when in the name of our whole Church.--united in satisfaction with this consecration--I offer the salutation, GOD SPEED THE GOOD FIRST BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, AND HIS BELOVED ASSISTANT, AND BLESS THEM AND THEIR FLOCK WITH PEACE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.