THE BISHOP SEABURY ASSOCIATION OF BROWN UNIVERSITY, under whose auspices the following Sermons are now published, had its origin in 1865. In that year the meetings for devotional exercises, which had existed among the students for several years, became somewhat disturbed by the introduction of theories belonging to the (so-called) doctrine of Perfection. Those meetings, in their best estate, would never much commend themselves to the taste of a Churchman, conducted as they usually are, in ways so alien from the history and genius and traditions of our Communion. A devout member of the Episcopal Church, whose training had given him a familiarity with, and an attachment to, her ancient Liturgic treasures--their Saxon simplicity of language, and their spirit of profound yet filial reverence--might well be excused if he often found himself out of sympathy with forms of worship that were dependent on the idiosyncrasies of each individual who might chance to lead the devotions of the circle about him. And when (as was the case three years ago), the members of such a circle would be expected to say Amen to some prayer which embodied Perfectionist ideas, and before separating, to say Amen to another prayer in which those same ideas are condemned, the whole scene became simply intolerable. It was in such a state of things that a few Church students in the College conferred together on the expediency of a separate organization, in which their spiritual culture and usefulness might be better promoted during their academic life. It was on the Eve of Ascension Day that this Conference was held. Without fully deciding the question of organization, they agreed to meet the next morning to join in the Services of the Ascension Festival, and more especially to partake together of the Holy Eucharist. The proposed organization was finally determined upon. It was intended to embrace all members of the Church belonging to the University, whether communicants or not. It was provided that they should meet weekly for devotional purposes, and monthly for the transaction of business, and for hearing Essays read, to be prepared by the members in turn. The Association took the name of "BISHOP SEABURY," in honor of the first American Bishop who exercised jurisdiction in Rhode Island, and also in grateful recognition of the interest manifested in the Association by one of his successors, the present Bishop of Connecticut. Agreeably to an Article of the Constitution, such of the members as are communicants attend in a body the Services of S. Stephen's Church on the Feast, of the Ascension, and kneel together to feed on the Broken Bread and the Cup of Blessing. They who have witnessed the interesting scene will long remember it.
The Association, at an early date, placed themselves at the disposal of the Bishop of the Diocese for the performance of such Mission work as he might assign them. Several of its members have been licensed to act as lay-Readers, and have been very useful in that, capacity. The thriving Mission at South Providence, now grown into a parochial organization, with its parish priest and its beautiful chapel, was originally and largely indebted to the active labors of the Bishop Seabury Association. We trust that its future history will be marked with the same "ready mind and will" for Christian work; and the affection of its members for the Church's principles and spirit will thus avouch itself to be a practical substantial reality.
It is a rule of the Association to have an annual sermon preached before them. The first one (in 1860) was by Bishop Williams; and we much regret the circumstances which have prevented him from furnishing a copy for the press. The Sermons for 1867 and 1868, by Drs. Dix and Ewer, are now presented to the reader. The topics embraced therein are engaging, at present, the attention of many thoughtful minds; and the treatment of those topics in the following discourses will amply repay a careful examination. Whatever exceptions may be taken to any given portions of them, we venture to claim for each of the discourses, as a whole, that it contains wholesome doctrine well suited to these times. We invite thereto the reader's best consideration.
PROVIDENCE, September, 1868.
THE ASSOCIATION deeply regret that their first Annual Sermon cannot he published with the others. It was a Sermon which contained much interesting material respecting the early history of the Church in this country, especially such as related to the saintly and apostolic Seabury. It was of special interest to the Association, not only as containing many words of kindly council from their earliest friend and adviser, but as preached also by one who had succeeded to the Mitre of their great namesake. We give below the reply of the Bishop of Connecticut to the request of the Committee that the Sermon should be furnished for publication.
GEORGE E. CRANSTON,
GALBRAITH B. PERRY, Committee.
MIDDLETOWN, August 12, 1868.
I SHOULD very gladly comply with the request of your Committee, were it in my power, but it is not.
The Address--for it was, you remember, an Address, rather than a Sermon--which I made before the Association in 1866, was based upon a paper drawn up many years ago, and, in part, published at the time. So much, however, was added when I addressed the Association, which was not there, and has never since been written, and so much which was written was omitted, that to give you the Address is impossible. It would not, however, add anything to the value of your proposed publication.
With every good wish for the Association, and with pleasant remembrances of my own services connected with it, I am ever,
Very truly yours.
To GEORGE E. CRANSTON, WILLIAM BLODGET, and GALBRAITH B. PERRY, Committee.