CHICAGO, October 29, 1886.
I hereby certify that the following is the official copy of the Pastoral Letter set forth this day by the House of Bishops.
Attest: W. TATLOCK, SECRETARY.
Brethren, beloved of the Clergy and Laity, grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The assemblage of this great Council of our Church, always an occasion of very deep interest, becomes increasingly impressive and important, with the growth and extension of the Church, and the added duties and claims of the day. Life is now so active and intense, the world moves on with such rapidity, that three years cannot elapse without changes of magnitude. The Church, like a mighty river issuing in the remote past from the everlasting hills, flows onward from age to age, through unfamiliar regions and amid varying scenery.
Of the progress made by our country we are impressively reminded by the spectacle presented to us in this great city, with its magnificent buildings, hurrying crowds, and immense business transactions. Standing here where, within the memory of living men, the wilderness was almost untrodden except by the foot of the savage, the marvelous increase, whereof this is a specimen, which astonishes the stranger, and which is contemplated by the citizen with pride and exultation, may well awaken the anxiety of the patriot and the solicitude of the Christian. In what a momentous period of the world are we living! In what a land is our lot cast! What immense responsibilities press upon the Church! In these novel circumstances and untried conditions she is brought face to face with new emergencies and perplexing problems. She has opportunities of unexampled usefulness, claims multiplying and cogent, a stewardship solemn and tremendous.
Shall these broad and fertile regions be the abode of an intelligent, righteous, and Christian people, united not only under one form of government and assimilated in various social agreements, but also bound together by faith in one Redeemer and by the principles which He came from heaven to establish? Shall there be a power for good contending constantly and successfully against the various forms of evil, and tendencies to corruption, that are already working with baneful potency, and which, unchecked, will develop with terrific energy? Can the national heart be kept sound and the national life pure, where there are influences abroad so fraught with danger?
Among the most obvious and alarming of these perils we instance the temptations incident to a rapid increase of wealth, the contempt of lawful authority, and the spread of unbelief. That the increase of riches and the means of indulgence consequent thereupon are hazardous, not only to the spiritual life of the Church, but also to the tone of public morality and the highest interests in the state, needs little argument to prove. History [3/4] abundantly confirms and illustrates the warnings of the Divine word. Great nations, intoxicated with success, lifted up with pride, enervated by luxury, inflamed with covetousness, have fallen from their early and purer state into corruption, decay, and ruin. Under the conditions of modern civilization new dangers spring from the inequalities of the social state, the increase of poverty, discontent. and pride being as marked as the accumulation of fortunes and the growth of luxury. How shall this discontent and misery be remedied, wealth recognize its stewardship, affluence own the brotherhood of man, and the less favored and successful of the community be rendered cheerful and contented with their lot?
As a people we glory in liberty. Largest freedom inspires our institutions and our policy. Before the law all are equal. No invidious distinctions or privileged classes are recognized.
But liberty is not lawlessness. Nay, disregard of law and right is productive of the worst of tyrannies, whether it be exercised by an autocrat or by a multitude. How vitally important that this freedom, which we so dearly prize, be kept inviolate, and that people who have the right of self-government be capable of governing themselves and acquire those habits of self-restraint and cheerful submission to authority which are indispensable to security, order, peace, and stable prosperity!
With the enlargement of knowledge, scientific discoveries, activity of the press, fearless speculation and facility of propounding and urging the wildest theories, it is no marvel that unbelief should be rife and widespread. A period of prosperity and sensual indulgence tends naturally to irreligion and materialism. It is not surprising, therefore, that infidelity should raise its head, should vaunt its superiority to what it represents as the fables of an ignorant age, seek to subvert men's faith in the word of God, declaim against the institutions of Christianity, and venture to question the very existence of the Lord God Omnipotent.
Neither is it the open enemy that we have most cause to dread, but the insidious, lurking foe, creeping into our schools, colleges, and homes, infecting to a large extent the literature of the day, and spreading its latent poison in many unsuspected ways.
These and other unhealthy influences, which will be presented for our fuller consideration, threaten our peace and life. When we look them fairly in the face, we might well tremble for the Church and the country if we had only human weapons to wield in this warfare. But, blessed be God, we have something better than the ann of flesh in which to trust, something better than philosophy, education, learning, policy, or physical force. We have the word and spirit of the living God. There is one agency that has encountered successfully enemies as mighty as those now arrayed, and triumphed over difficulties and obstacles as formidable as those with which we are now confronted. The [4/5] Gospel has not lost its power. The Son of God is riding forth, conquering and to conquer. He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. And to the task set before us, as a part of the Church of Jesus Christ, to extend His reign over this fair, broad land, and to make this American republic submissive to His sway, we address ourselves hopefully, because we trust and believe that He is present with us. We feel as did the Holy Apostle at Ephesus, "a great door and effectual is opened unto me of the Lord, and there are many adversaries." The door is great indeed. Never was a church called to a nobler work or impelled by sublimer motives. How much of the future destiny of this mighty nation may depend upon our fidelity, our diligence, our godliness and zeal, our consecration of energies, endowments, capacities of teaching and impressing the masses of our land! This great door and effectual is opened to us by the Lord, and all the powers of darkness cannot close it. Shall we draw back and decline to enter, or retreat before these adversaries? In the past we confess that we have fallen far below the measure of our duty. We have been unprofitable servants. The Lord might have closed the door and removed the candlestick, and our mouth would have been stopped.
Instead He has been graciously pleased to accept our imperfect service, to give a large increase for the seed sown, to double our talents, and open a still wider door. Surely we serve a kind and bountiful master. Let us not mock Him with the mere promise and semblance of obedience, and while, to the call to work to-day in the vineyard, we answer, "I go, Sir," in reality, go not.
In our warfare with the adversaries of the Gospel, and with the growing evils of our time, we have imperfectly used many instrumentalities within our reach; but among them all none has been so much neglected as the Family. We have worked for and through the Church. Our care has been for the individual, or for society as an aggregate of individuals, or for the State as representing the order of society. Meanwhile the Family has been so loosely guarded that our hold upon it has been enfeebled, and its Christian tone has degenerated.
As the original mold in which all human life is cast, and within which authority blending with love first touches the will and lays the foundation of character, the Family, not the individual, is the true unit of society and of the Church. As such both reason and revelation require ur. to treat it. Unfortunately for it, and for the Church and the Nation, we have not done so. Overmastered or beguiled by the spirit of the age, we have drifted out passively on the current of individualism, until we are now called to face the consequences of a wrong theory and a worse practice touching the very source of the strongest formative elements of the Church and of the State.
That household religion and morality have changed, and are still changing, for the worse, is recognized by all Christian people as one of the dark [5/6] omens of the time. The causes are not far to seek. Two theories starting from opposite premises, but both alike the product of the anti-Christian and secular tendency of the day, have been eating like moth and rust into the domestic conscience, and thus sapping the very foundations of home life. The one theory declares the individual to be the supreme unit of society, and so demands for every individual complete and equal freedom. It affirms all discriminating legislation based upon differences of sex to be degrading and tyrannical. It teaches that, as the only ground of marriage is the consent of the contracting parties, so the continuance of marriage is rightfully dependent on the continuance of mutual agreement. It declares that any other view of marriage converts it into the worst bondage known to our law. Admitting no power or privilege or disability in one sex not common to the other, and claiming for woman an absolute control over her patrimony and acquisitions, as well as over her person, it does not hesitate to affirm as one of its ultimate dogmas that there is "no more reason why the woman should take her husband's name in marriage than why he should take hers." Thus the Christian law of the household is not only disparaged, but denounced as a degradation of woman and a social tyranny.
The other theory--an outgrowth of a school of political economy rather than of any settled philosophy of social life--starts from the radically opposite principle of the subordination of the individual to the State, and insists upon a modern equivalent to the old pagan doctrine formulated by the speculations of Plato, which place marriage absolutely under the sanction and supervision of the State. Both theories substitute the idea of contract for that of moral law as embodied in a solemn covenant, the former turning upon the freedom of the contracting parties to define and limit obligation; the latter upon the inherent subject matter of the agreement as defining the duty and prescribing the duration of the covenant. Both theories encourage an unlimited facility of divorce. Both theories loosen the ligaments and corrupt the inmost fibers of home life by robbing it of its religious sanction.
Separation in any form should be regarded, and is regarded by the Church, as a last and dreadful expedient, only to be justified by the gravest considerations, and, as it were, conceded to the unfortunate beings whose position constrains the grant of such relief. But no separation carries with it the right to seek another alliance; nor, except in one case, can a subsequent marriage be permitted. After parties have been lawfully joined together, according to the will of God, divorce with permission to marry again is not conceded by the Church, unless the ground of divorce be adultery, and in that case the guilty party is absolutely excluded from marrying again during the lifetime of the other, and to the innocent party only is permission conceded to contract another marriage.
Another cause of domestic degeneracy is to be found in that gross [6/7] materialism of the time which rises to fever heat in the greed for riches, and for the things that riches command. This "accursed hunger," this consuming fire has in countless homes burnt up the habit, and burnt out the heart, of prayer, and with these even the inherited traditions of Christian living. Fathers have become too busy in the service of Mammon to serve God as priests in their own households; and mothers are learning to think more of "a social career," than of the divine beauty and tenderness and power of Christian motherhood. Parental authority stripped of its nobler attributes, with no Christ in it to guide, no worship to consecrate it, gradually abandons the cares and duties of home discipline, and the children grow up obedient to no law but that of passion and caprice, devoted to no ends in life beyond the range of their own selfishness. With this drift of the family, this loosening of its sacred bonds, this drying up of the sources of its parent inspirations, this matter-ofcourse surrender of the life of the spirit to the life of the world, the flesh, and the devil, we cannot wonder that, in spite of all our stupendous accumulations. of wealth, the impoverished Missionary treasury of the Church threatens a. reduction of the already meager stipends of the pioneers of the Cross; we cannot wonder that we search in vain among our Christian households for candidates for Holy Orders who shall recruit the wasting ranks of our Clergy; nor that our young men nurtured by such a parentage, instead of being attracted by the sacrifices inseparable from a true priesthood in the Church of God, are, like so many Demases, turned away from it by the love of the present world; nor further that the commandments of the law of righteousness are forgotten, or that the Lord's Day is profaned, or that intemperance and licentiousness reap their harvest of death at the very heart of a civilization, so many of whose homes, whose schools, whose riches, and even so much of whose poverty, know not God.
Verily there is a cry on the earth, in the air, and from the heavens, to work while it is called to-day, before the night cometh wherein no man can work. Fellow laborers with Christ, it is well that we see clearly on what lines we are to work in His name, and how we are to wield the power of His truth and the grace of His kingdom. Society at large, the State, the Church, are indeed to be the objects of our solicitude. In and through the Church we are to leaven all life with the Incarnate Word. But just now because of past neglect of its claims and of its safeguards, as well as because of its inmost hold upon all that lies beyond it, whether Society or the Church, our first and most urgent call is to care for the Family, and to build it up anew on the foundations originally built of God and consecrated by the Saviour of men. To this end these are the things we are to do. In opposition to the false theories concerning the relations of the sexes and the nature of the marriage bond, the people of God must be taught, as they have not been, that the Family, not the individual, is the unit of Society, and that the Family creates the State, rather [7/8] than the State the Family. Without citizens there can be no State, and without the Family there can be no citizens. The law of the household must determine, not be determined by, legislation of the State which affects the well being of the Family. The essentials of domestic life have been ordained and established by the will of God, and underlie the constitution of society. These it is the function of civil government to protect and regulate. but not to change.
Again, parents are responsible to God first, and to the State afterward, for their children. There must be authority in the household commensurate with this responsibility, and neither Church nor State may rightfully or safely interfere with that authority or with the responsibility bound up with it. How far the State has done so, and with what results, it does not fall within our province to inquire. But of the Church's action in this regard it is our duty to speak. It has been her purpose in all the agencies she has sanctioned for the religious training of her children to provide helps, not substitutes, for fathers and mothers in the foremost task which God has laid upon them. That these helps have ceased to be what they were intended to be, and have become something else, thereby devolving upon others outside the home the work which God means shall be done inside the home, very largely explains the widespread decay of domestic religion and morality now so pregnant with disaster to the Church and to the Nation. To stop this decay, to plant again in the old soil of home the germs of a healthier growth, to restore the Family to the divine orbit of its power, to re-adjust on the old basis its relations to the Church and to the State, is by every consideration the most pressing problem of the day. As one way of dealing with this problem, the time has cone when the Church of God must change her attitude, must take higher, stronger, more definite ground in regard to the education of the young life intrusted to her, as well as of the young life in the broader sphere of the Nation. She has a message to deliver, a duty to discharge in this matter. Too long already have both been held in abeyance. At the close of this first century of her own and of the country's history, so full of solemn warnings, as well as of great achievements, let her voice go forth, declaring that, whatever others may do, she cannot, without protest and resistance, allow the salt of Christ's Gospel to be cast out, little by little, from the education of the children of this land; that she cannot without utter disloyalty to her divine commission acquiesce in what has grown to be the policy of the day on this subject, which, because of its inability to agree upon the fundamentals of religion to be taught in the public schools, has lapsed into the perilous heresy of modern secularism, that these schools can best do their proper work when giving no religious teaching whatever. We are the friends of these schools, sustained by such liberal expenditure; and because we are so, we desire all the more to see them placed on the only basis which will be at once enduring [8/9] and beneficent. It is not to be denied that we are confronted with tendencies in the training of the children of the Church and of the Nation which indicate changes in the feeling and opinion of this generation as dangerous as they are profound; changes which strike at the Church's hold upon the loyalty and love of the children now being nurtured in her bosom, and threaten to inflict an incurable wound upon the moral interests of the Nation. We are drifting into an apostacy from the eternal law of righteousness, the supreme factor in the making of public and private character, which can end only in an eclipse of the noblest hopes and franchises of a humanity redeemed by the precious blood of the Son of God.
There are those who regard the present widening divorce between education and religion as so general and pronounced as to render it a hopeless task to resist it. They seem to think that the thing which is, is that which shall he. We do not accept this conclusion. Already the secular spirit has gone far enough to disturb the equilibrium of the Nation's life, to say nothing of that of the Church's life. The day of reaction is inevitable. The old forces in the training of mankind and the old proportions in which these forces must sooner or later combine, will re-assert themselves. Man cannot live by bread alone, nor by brain power alone. Any citizenship, however cunningly built upon its material and intellectual side, must topple over and go to pieces, if it refuse to recognize the image of God in the soul, and to obey the law of education which God has rooted in that image and clothed with a supreme sovereignty over the life of the flesh and the life of the intellect.
With hearty thanks to Almighty God your Bishops recognize an increasing desire among Christian people for that unity for which our Lord prayed on the night before His crucifixion, and which He declared to be the visible evidence before men of the truth of His Gospel.
For this unity the Church has never ceased to labor and to pray, and now, especially, she is called upon to stand with open arms and earnest pleading, ready to yield to the utmost in any matter of human ordering or any choice of human will, so that she may join heart to heart with all who desire to stand upon the unchanging basis, without which no external unity is possible and with which, amid great diversities, unity is founded as on a rock--that is the unchangeable faith as expressed in the Creed of Nicea, the two divine Sacraments, the open Bible, and that Apostolic Order, which is the witness and keeper of these to the end of time.
These things are the deposit committed to the Church of God, not for her own sake, but for the sake of all men. For all men she holds them in trust, and in these latter days, pleads anew in deep love and all humility, that all who name themselves with the name of Christ would draw near and see, and with one mouth pray for that Apostolic unity and peace which is found alone [9/10] in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and rests secure upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the head cornerstone.
And yet your Bishops feel keenly that the differences which separate Christian folk are not the things which lie nigh the heart of the people. Thousands are asking in doubt--some of them in despair--Is there any Revelation? Is there any guide? Is there a God? We fear that much of the strife which has arrayed class against class is the result of the teaching of misguided men, that the Bible is a myth, God a name, and religion a superstition; and feeling a profound sympathy for these men of toil who have filled our cities with creations of beauty, we know that they cannot afford to give up the Gospel of the Son of God. Their wildest dream of brotherhood has never compassed anything so surpassingly beautiful as that, by the appointment of God Himself, the poorest laborer may become "a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven." This brotherhood gives to the poorest man the inalienable right to appeal from the injustice of man to that God and Father who always hears the cry of His suffering children. It tells the rich man that the very condition of his fellowship with Jesus Christ is that he shall become the poor man's brother. The Gospel has not one law for capital and another law for labor. The truest political economy sustains the noble maxim of St. Paul, that "No man liveth unto himself." The voice of our divine Master speaks through all the centuries; "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Our time, our talents, our wealth, are a sacred trust, not to be used in idle luxury, in wanton waste, or selfish indulgence, but used by us as stewards who must give an account to God. The problem which perplexes the wisest is solved by the divine law, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." These are not days to preach platitudes about doctrine, or to philosophize about religion. The Church must, in the spirit of Christ, be the mediator to reunite these sundered bonds. The rights of labor are primary rights, with which neither the tyranny of mobs nor the oppressions of capital may interfere. The rights of capital are not less sacred, to enjoy the reward of honest labor and wise forethought, and use it for the benefit of others. Every form of misfortune has, by virtue of the Incarnation, a claim to the help of its prosperous brother. We cannot know how far-reaching is that awful truth until that day when our Lord shall say to each one of us, "Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me."
Brethren of the clergy, an awful responsibility rests upon us. Our office is an offense to men and an insult to God, if we forget that the very terms of our commission are to represent Jesus Christ. The burdens which rest heavily on the people are not the gains which have repaid business ventures, but the vice, the crime which follows in the train of sin, and which costs this [10/11] Nation more than all its schools, charities. and churches. Sin, and the evil which flows from it, can be cured only by the Gospel of the Son of God. For a time bayonets and police may protect our property and guard our homes. But no nation has ever survived the loss of religion. 1Vhenever the tie which binds man to God is broken, all other ties are snapped asunder. Take from men all sense of accountability to an unseen power, all obligation to an eternal and unchangeable standard of right, limit men's horizon by the grave, admit no tie between man and man but selfishness, and then might will be right, and the armed force, which alone can protect the inalienable rights of the freeman, shall itself be constant menace to his liberty. Your Bishops are devoutly grateful for all which loving hearts are doing to bind up these wounds and heal this strife. We affectionately urge those over whom the Lord has made us shepherds to give personal service, personal efforts, to stay this flood of infidelity which is sweeping over our land. We cannot silence these gainsayers by arguments about religion. They have scoffed, and will scoff, against Christ and His Church. But the Christ who dwells in your hearts, the Christ who speaks through and works with you, none can gainsay or deny.
We rejoice, beloved in the Lord, that during the session of our General Convention now closing, so much time has been given to the consideration of the subject of Missions, for beyond a controversy, this is the great work laid upon the Church by her Lord, and therefore this the subject of paramount importance to be considered by her leaders in council. You will learn from this our Epistle, as from other sources, the measures we have been led to adopt for the furtherance of our work at home and abroad. We have amended the Constitution of our Missionary Society, we have provided for the appointment of a special Commission for the conduct of our work among the colored people of our country; we believe that our machinery is well ordered, but alas! what we need is not more, or more perfect, machinery, but fire, the moving power of an earnest spirit which will give time and care and money to make success possible. Must we not in honesty confess that during the past triennium of our Church's life the action of this missionary spirit has not been so powerful or so constant, so regular or so vigorous, as to keep the wheels ever in motion, and to justify larger enterprise of Missions. At the beginning of the current fiscal year of our Society, its Managers, our agents, men who have given long and faithful service in the conduct of our Missionary affairs, found it necessary to reduce the scanty stipends of our devoted Missionaries, because, taught by experience, they feared their inability to pay them if continued at their former rate. True, the fear was groundless, true that in response to the earnest appeals of the Board of Managers the flagging interest of the Church was aroused, and the contributions before the year ended showed no falling off, but an increase in the amount given, and, better still, in the number of [11/12] Parishes contributing. Yet the Managers have acted as honest trustees were bound to act. They could not make appropriations of money which the Church had failed to put in their hands. And the result has been necessarily a contraction of our Missionary work, and we cannot but fear positive suffering in the homes of many brave and self-denying men.
Men of Israel, help! Soldiers and servants of the Prince who has prevailed with God for our salvation, arouse to the consciousness of the crisis that is upon us. and do all that in you lies, that before this first quarter of our year shall have ended, the treasury shall receive such gifts that its custodians may be enabled again to provide for the support of the Missionaries who have been withdrawn from the field, and to restore to the good soldiers of Jesus Christ the part of their ration which necessity completed to be taken away.
Among cheering evidences of interest in this great cause, we are happy to notice the effort made by zealous Laymen to commemorate our centennial year by the pledging of the sum of one million dollars, by individual subscriptions of five dollars each. Such an addition to our Missionary treasury would be productive of immense good at this time, and be a fitting thank-offering on the part of a Church so highly favored. We commend the Missionary Enrollment Fund to the general and hearty cooperation of our people.
Brethren of the clergy, suffer the special word of exhortation to you in this behalf. It is because our people know so little of the details of our missionary work that their interest in its progress is so slight, and in consequence their offerings so small. Labor, we beseech you, to inform this ignorance; regularly, at stated intervals, preach to your largest congregation of the battle and the soldiers; seek to place our Missionary periodicals in every family; that so our people may come to realize that the Missionaries are but the advance guard of the one great army to which we all belong. Then will their welfare and success be watched for and prayed for, and helped by hands that are willing, because hearts are aflame. Interest in Missions can come only from knowledge of Missions, and knowledge must come from the painstaking instruction of the pastor to his flock.
We must not fail to make further mention of the great enterprise of Missionary work among the colored people of our country, on which we have hardly entered. We bid you, beloved, to try to realize that there are now nearly eight millions of these people, our fellow citizens, nay, our brethren, the children of our Father, the redeemed of our Saviour, to whom we must carry the blessed Gospel which has made us free, and the mother love and care of that Church which has taught us how to live. We bid you realize that their ignorance is dense, that their helplessness is absolute. While we rejoice to believe that God has given them many teachers, who though walking not [12/13] with us, have by His Spirit done miracles in His Name in bringing great numbers to the knowledge of the truth; yet is it still true of the larger number that they are blind followers of blind guides, and are, alas! satisfied wanderers in a wilderness of superstitious folly, believing themselves in the way of righteousness. They need, though it may be the multitude of them know it not, they need to be taught the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to be trained as little children in the habits of Christian living.
Shall we not, must we not, if we love our country, if we love our kind, above all if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, must we not go to them and gather them into the Church which He builded for all men?
The work bristles with difficulties, and yet the Bishops and Clergy of the southern Dioceses, in which these people in largest number live, are, we believe, eager to minister unto them, if the Church will give them the means.
Remember, beloved, that this great work of evangelization is too great for the resources of the Dioceses of the South; nay, is too great for the resources of our whole Church, and that only by the earnest cooperation of all can it be done in any measure. We ask that the rich will give of their abundance and the poor of their poverty; that the Churchmen of the North will give trustful sympathy to the laborers, and largest donations for their support; that the Churchmen of the South will give the personal sympathy and service which they can best give, and which can alone constrain them to come to our gospel feast; that the Missionaries among these people may be held in special honor by their brethren everywhere; and that all will make unceasing prayer that a multitude of those for whom we ask your sympathy may come to share with us the treasures of the ancient faith and the precious ordinances of the Church.
One word more on this point. Within the triennium just completed, a Liberian has been consecrated as Bishop of our African Mission. Shall we not believe that our faithful ministrations to the colored race in America will raise up a great company of fittest helpers to the Bishop of Cape Palmas, in the work of evangelizing the dark continent? Shall we not recognize that in these children of exiles from their own land God would have us find the future Missionaries who, made ready by our teaching, shall go home to their own people to tell the wonderful things that God bath done for them here; that so shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands unto God"?
Among the incidents of these gatherings, that would greatly sadden our hearts but for the hopes and promises of the gospel of Christ, are the voids made by death during the period intervening since our last assemblage. We miss from this Convention men long and favorably known in our counsels, whose voices were gladly heard, and whose characters commanded respect and confidence. Both houses have been thus deprived of members who were [13/14] the ornaments and guides of their respective bodies. Gratefully we remember their former services, affectionately do we cherish their memories, and earnestly do we pray for grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be inheritors of the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour. Among those thus taken from us was the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, for many years our Presiding Bishop. The sole survivor of those upon whom had been laid the hands of William White, he was a visible link between the present generation and the past, the two episcopates all but spanning the first century of our existence as an independent National Church. After a lengthened course of official duty, full of years, universally loved and respected, on the 31st day of May, 1884, he calmly laid down his charge and his burdens, and entered into rest.
We bid you farewell, dear brethren, with sincerest affection, and pronounce the benediction you crave, with our whole hearts. Many of us, in the ordinary course of divine Providence, will not meet each other again in future Council. May we part in undissembled love and good will, and with earnest purpose to give ourselves more fully to our Saviour's work. In our respective spheres of duty, may we look with an eye single to our great Exemplar, and when the Master of the house cometh and knocketh, be ready to open unto Him immediately.
Finally, brethren, we commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to grant you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.