Report of Commemorative Services with the Sermons and Addresses
at the Seabury Centenary, 1883–1885, with an Appendix.
New York: J. Pott, 1885.
Centenary of Bishop Seabury's Election:
Thanksgiving, Easter–Day, March 25, 1883, Service at Woodbury, March 27, 1883
Bishop Williams's Address,
Dr. Beardsley's Address, Diocesan Convention, 1883,
Bishop Williams's Sermon,
Centenary of Bishop Seabury's Consecration:
Diocesan Convention, 1884,
Bishop Williams's Sermon, Service at Hartford, November 14, 1884,
Dr. Tatlock's Address,
The Bishop's Reply,
Dr. Beardsley's Address,
Mr. Nichols's Address,
Mr. Hart's Address,
Bishop Williams's Address,
Exhibition of Seabury Relics,
Centenary of Bishop Seabury's Return:
Diocesan Convention, 1885,
Bishop Williams's Sermon, Service at Middletown, August 3, 1885,
Bishop Williams's Address,
Dr. Beardsley's Historical Sketch,
Appendix—Commemoration at Aberdeen, 1884:
Bishop Williams's Sermon,
Presentation of Paten and Chalice,
Presentation of Address and Reply,
Presentation of Pastoral Staff,
Dr. Beardsley's Address,
Address from St. Andrew's Church,
Deus, Auribus Nostris Audivimus, Patres Nostri Annuntiaverunt Nobis, Opus Quod Operatus Es in Diebus Eorum, Et in Diebus Antiquis.
In his address to the Diocesan Convention of 1881, Bishop Williams suggested the appointment of a committee to provide for the appropriate commemoration of the centenary of the election of the first Bishop of Connecticut in the last week of March, 1783. On motion of the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, this suggestion was referred to a committee of three clergymen and two laymen, with the Bishop as chairman. The Bishop appointed on the committee the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, the Rev. Samuel Hart, the Hon. F. J. Kingsbury, and the Hon, H. B. Harrison.
At the Convention of 1882, on recommendation of this committee, the following resolutions were adopted:
Resolved, That the Bishop be requested to set forth a special thanksgiving to be used throughout the Diocese on the one-hundredth anniversary of the election of Bishop Seabury, March 25th, 1883, being Easter–Day and also the Festival of the Annunciation. Resolved, That a memorial service, with addresses, be held in St. Paul's Church, Woodbury, on Tuesday in Easter-week, March 27th, 1883, for which the Bishop be desired to make the necessary arrangements.
Resolved, That the Bishop be further requested to provide for a commemorative service with an historical discourse at the opening of the Annual Convention of 1883.
It was also, on motion of the Rev. S. F. Jarvis,
Resolved, That a committee consisting of the Bishop, three priests, and two laymen be appointed,.....to present to the Diocesan Conventions of 1883 and 1884, if they shall deem it expedient, a detailed plan or plans for the further special observances as a Diocese of the centenary commemoration of Dr. Seabury's Consecration, of the first Convocation summoned by him, of the first Ordination on this continent, and of any ecclesiastical events which are specially and historically connected with this Diocese and which it may be deemed desirable to celebrate.
The committee appointed under this resolution was the same as that appointed in 1882. In accordance with resolutions recommended by this committee in 1883 and 1884, the Convention requested the Bishop to make arrangements for commemorative services on the fourteenth day of November, 1884, the hundredth anniversary of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury, and on the third day of August, 1885, the hundredth anniversary of the first ordination held by him.
The Bishop having delivered an historical discourse at the opening of the Convention of 1883, commemorative of the election of Bishop Seabury, on motion of the Rev. Dr. Giesy, the thanks of the Convention were tendered to him, and he was "respectfully and earnestly requested" to preach a sermon at the next Convention in commemoration of Bishop Seabury's Consecration. A like vote was passed in 1884, desiring the Bishop "to supplement the sermons delivered at this and the preceding Conventions with a third at the Convention of 1885, necessary to the historical completion by the same hand of the centenary commemoration of the Consecration of the Rev. Samuel Seabury, D.D., as the first Bishop of Connecticut."
This volume contains a report of the Centenary Commemorative Services held in accordance with the resolutions, and also the historical sermons preached by the Bishop at the request of the Convention. In the Appendix will be found Bishop Williams's sermon preached at the commemoration in Aberdeen in October, 1884, with an account of the part which the delegation from Connecticut took in that commemoration, including the Rev. Dr. Beardsley's paper on "Seabury as a Bishop."
"Novi Orbis Apostoli Sit Nomen Perenne."
Centenary Commemoration of the Election of Bishop Seabury.
The Rev. Samuel Seabury, D.D. Was Elected First Bishop of Connecticut at Woodbury, March 25, 1783.
The one-hundredth anniversary of the election of Bishop Seabury fell on Easter-Day (being also the Festival of the Annunciation), 1883. In accordance with the request of the Diocesan Convention, the Bishop set forth the following special Thanksgiving to be used throughout the Diocese, immediately after the General Thanksgiving at Morning and Evening Prayer on that day:
Almighty God, Who by Thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers orders of ministers in Thy Church, we give unto Thee high praise and hearty thanks, that Thou didst put it into the hearts of our fathers and brethren to elect, on this day, to the work and ministry of a Bishop in Thy Church, Thy servant, to whom the charge of this Diocese was first committed; and that Thou didst so replenish him with the truth of Thy doctrine and endue him with innocency of life, that he was enabled, both by word and deed, faithfully to serve Thee in this office, to the glory of Thy name, and the edifying and well-governing of Thy Church. For this so great mercy, and for ail the blessings which, in Thy good Providence, it brought to this portion of the flock of Christ, we offer unto Thee our unfeigned thanks, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
On Tuesday in Easter–Week, March 27th (the day of the week on which the Festival of the Annunciation fell in 1783), a commemorative service was held in St. Paul's Church, Woodbury, at 11 o'clock A.M. The Bishop began the Communion-service, the Rev. S. O. Seymour of Litchfield reading the Epistle, and the Rev. E. E. Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., of New Haven reading the Gospel. After the Nicene Creed, a part of the 99th hymn in the old Prayer–Book collection was sung; and the Bishop then made an address based on the closing words of the Epistle: "I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
The Bishop spoke of the faith and the courage which inspired the clergymen who met a hundred years ago in that quiet village to elect the first bishop of Connecticut. They felt that they owed a sacred duty to God; and, not stopping to speculate upon the needs of some imaginary Church of the future, they did what was specially needed for the welfare of the Church in their own day. At the beginning of the war of independence there had been twenty missionaries of the mother Church of England laboring in the colony. They were in great part supported by the Venerable Society in England, and they were under oaths of loyalty to the Crown; it was not strange, therefore, that their sympathies were not on the popular side. They were obliged to suffer great hardships; and the end of the war found the Church in Connecticut in a very depressed condition, with the clergy and people scattered and some of the parishes quite broken up. Fourteen clergymen were left, and of these ten met in the study of the Rev. John Rutgers Marshall on the Festival of the Annunciation in 1783, to take counsel as to what was to be done. Peace had not been proclaimed, but it was known that the war was at an end; and the circumstances of the times were such that they thought it necessary to take action at as early a day as possible. And they instructed their candidate that if he should fail to obtain consecration in England, he should seek it at the hands of the bishops of the disestablished church of Scotland.
Men had very real thoughts about Holy Orders then, when they were obliged to cross the ocean for what they believed to be valid ordination, and when one man out of every five who sought ordination in England lost his life from shipwreck or disease. The results of their faithfulness have been far greater and more wide-reaching than they could have imagined. They would not have believed it possible that at the end of a century there would be in Connecticut nearly two hundred clergymen and twenty-two thousand communicants, the Book of Common Prayer being used by devout congregations throughout the limits of the State; and that not only would this Diocese bear witness to God's blessing on their faithfulness, but that there would be a united and prosperous Church throughout the land, owing to them much of its unity and prosperity. The lesson which we learn from them is that Christ's work is to be done in Christ's own way, and that, thus done, it will certainly abide.
The Rev. Dr. Beardsley, after a brief introduction, added substantially as follows:
It is very evident that the clergy who met here on the Festival of the Annunciation, 1783, were full of earnestness and the spirit of self-sacrifice in their efforts to organize the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and provide for her completeness and continuance under a changed form of civil government. The seven years' struggle of the Thirteen Colonies for independence of the power of Great Britain was ended, and the poor people exhausted on every side, were at a loss to know what methods should be adopted to rise from their depression and recover in any degree their former prosperity. The Missionaries of the Church of England—of whom fourteen were left in Connecticut at the close of the Revolutionary War—had been aided by stipends from the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, but these stipends, by the Constitution of the Society, ceased when the separation finally took place. Of the fourteen Missionaries, all save two [The Rev. John Rutgers Marshall was born in the city of New York, 1743, was an alumnus of Columbia College, ordained 1771, and died 1789. The Rev. Daniel Fogg was a native of New Hampshire, a graduate of Harvard College, ordained 1770, and died 1815.]
The full list includes the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Andrews of Wallingford, Gideon Bostwick of Great Barrington (reckoned ecclesiastically as in Connecticut), Richard Samuel Clarke of New Milford, Ebenezer Dibblee of Stamford, Daniel Fogg of Brooklyn, Bela Hubbard of New Haven, Abraham Jarvis of Middletown, Richard Mansfield of Derby, John Rutgers Marshall of Woodbury, Christopher Newton of Ripton, James Nichols of Plymouth. James Scovill of Waterbury, John Tyler of Norwich, and Roger Viets of Simsbury. ] were born in the Colony of Connecticut, and all had been compelled to cross the ocean to obtain Holy Orders—there being no bishop in this country—though the boon had often been solicited from the English Church and as often denied. The trammels of State alliance and the policy of preferring political expediency to religious right prevented the authorities from venturing upon a spiritual act and granting the prayer of the petitioners. The clergy had ministered to their flocks all along in the face of intolerance and bitter opposition from the Puritan body, and the war for independence had subjected them to peculiar trials and reduced them to the verge of ruin. But, without thinking of themselves, or how they should be supported in the broken and disastrous condition of their cures, their first effort or chief anxiety was to provide for the now entirely headless Church; and so in Mid–Lent, on the Festival of the Annunciation, March 25th, one hundred years ago, ten of the fourteen clergy remaining in Connecticut quietly assembled in this place, and, after careful, and, we must believe, the most prayerful deliberation, they selected two persons—the Rev. Jeremiah Leaming being the first choice, and then the Rev. Samuel Seabury—as suitable, either of them, to go to England and obtain, if possible, Episcopal consecration. It was a secret meeting so far as giving any public notice of it was concerned, and it was confined to the clergy, perhaps, among other reasons, for fear of reviving the former opposition on this side to an American Episcopate, and thus of defeating their plan to complete the organization of the Church and secure its inherent perpetuity in this country. The times were troubled, and the establishment of peace with a foreign power did not necessarily produce tranquillity and happiness at home. Mischiefs and jealousies still lingered with those who had contended for liberty, and the chief Protestant sects, which have all erected their banners and had their camping-ground in the Church of England, were ready to welcome her weakness and overthrow because her priests and her people, for the most part, had been on the side of the Crown during the long struggle for independence. But it is not possible to destroy what God holds in His hand. The passions of men work vast evil till, in calmer moments, they subside and a better light shines through their principles and their actions.
The outcome of the meeting at Woodbury, after many hindrances and perplexities, was the consecration by the non-juring Bishops of the Church of Scotland of the Rev. Samuel Seabury as the first Bishop of Connecticut and of the Episcopal Church in the United States. We owe to this consecration some of the best features of our Book of Common Prayer. We owe to it the compactness and unity of our great American Communion, and surely it was well to have what we used on Sunday last—a form of thanksgiving for this our hundredth anniversary of the election of Bishop Seabury that God did "so replenish him with the truth of His doctrine and endue him with innocency of life that he was enabled, both by word and deed, faithfully to serve Him in the office of a bishop to the glory of His name and the edifying and well-governing of His Church."
The Bishop then proceeded with the office of the Holy Communion, being assisted in the service by the Rev. Professor Hart of Trinity College, and in the administration to the clergy and a large number of the laity by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, the Rev. T. B. Fogg of Brooklyn, and the Rev. J. F. George, rector of the parish. Before the benediction, the Bishop read the special thanksgiving set forth for Easter–Day.
After the service the clergy and other visitors were hospitably entertained by the ladies of St. Paul's parish in the house in which the Rev. J. R. Marshall lived in 1783, and in the very room in which the ten clergymen met to elect the first Bishop of Connecticut.
The following is a list of the clergymen who were present:
The Rt. Rev. the Bishop; the Rev. Dr. E. E. Beardsley, New Haven; the Rev. Messrs. H. A. Adams, Wethersfield; R. R. M. Converse, Waterbury; W. C. Cooley, Roxbury; T. B. Fogg, Brooklyn; J. F. George, Woodbury; Prof. Samuel Hart, Hartford; J. G. Jacocks, New Haven; E. S. Lines, New Haven; R. W. Micou, Waterbury; S. O. Seymour, Litchfield; James Stoddard, Watertown; Hiram Stone, Bantam Falls; Elisha Whittlesey, Hartford; Alex. Mackay–Smith, New York City.
On the twelfth day of June, 1883, the annual Convention of the Diocese met in Trinity Church, New Haven. The opening service was made a formal commemoration of the election of Bishop Seabury.
Morning Prayer was begun by the Rev. Samuel Fermor Jarvis, Rector of Trinity Church, Brooklyn, grandson of the Rev. Abraham Jarvis who was Secretary of the Convention in 1783 and afterwards the second Bishop of the Diocese; the First Lesson (Isaiah lxi.) was read by the Rev. George Dowdall Johnson, of the Diocese of New York, great-grandson of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, "the Father of Episcopacy in Connecticut"; the Second Lesson (Ephesians iv. to verse 17), by the Rev. Thomas Brinley Fogg of Brooklyn, grandson of the Rev. Daniel Fogg who was one of the electors of Bishop Seabury; and the Nicene Creed and the Prayers, including a special Thanksgiving, by the Rev. Samuel Hart, Seabury Professor in Trinity College, great-great-great-grandson of one of the five who with Johnson and Cutler signed the paper touching their ordination, which was presented to the "Fathers and Brethren" in the Library of Yale College on the thirteenth day of September, 1722. The Bishop began the office of the Holy Communion, using the Collect for St. Simon and St. Jude's Day; the Epistle (that for St. Matthew's Day) was read by the Rev. Edwin Harwood, D.D., Rector of Trinity Church, and the Gospel (that for St. Barnabas's Day), by the Rev. E. E. Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., Rector of St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, Historian of the Diocese and Biographer of its first Bishop. The Sermon was preached by Bishop Williams, as follows:
Men for the Times. I. Chron. xii. 32.
Men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.
I know no better words than these to give direction to our thoughts in the service of this day. It is a service of deepest thankfulness and of most sacred memories. It takes us back over the years of a century. It brings to our remembrance the story of the more than threescore previous years which led up to the event that we commemorate. It awakens hope and trust for a coming and unknown future. It binds those memories of the past and those hopes for the future into one living body of thanksgiving, which, for all who have gone before us, for ourselves, and for those who are to follow us, must find utterance in the words of the Psalmist: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give the praise, for Thy loving mercy and for Thy truth's sake."
Go back with me, brethren, in your thoughts, to the beginning of the century the close of which we commemorate. It is the Festival of the Annunciation in 1783; and we find ourselves in an inland village of what was, ere long, to become the Diocese of Connecticut, the village of Woodbury. It was not then the village of our time, the long street of which, with its venerable elms and well-kept homesteads, nestles beneath the craggy heights that overlook it, or spreads out in peaceful loveliness towards stream and valley. Things were on a smaller scale then, rougher and ruder than they now are. One house, at least, still stands that was standing then; and if we enter it we shall find ourselves in the "glebe-house" which is the abode of the missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and in the presence of ten of the fourteen clergy of Connecticut who were ministering in their cures at the close of the War of the Revolution. Neither history nor tradition has preserved to us all the names of these true-hearted men. We know, however, from written records, that Marshall, in whose house they met, Jarvis of Middletown, who was their secretary, and Fogg of Brooklyn, whose correspondence tells us what we should not otherwise have known, were among them. [It is more than probable, I think, that Mansfield of Derby, Hubbard of New Haven, Newton of Ripton, Scovill of Waterbury, Clark of New Milford, Andrews of Wallingford, and Tyler of Norwich were also present.] Beyond these we are left to conjecture.
We may imagine, though we can never fully enter into, the deep anxiety of the hour, with all its doubts and fears so far surpassing its hopes and encouragements. We remember how they felt themselves compelled to meet in the utmost secrecy, not, as has been sometimes unworthily intimated, because they feared their own people, but because they knew not what interference might befall them from the powers that were should their purpose be made known. We think of them as, on that Festival of the Incarnation, they knelt down in an isolation and desolation of which we can have no knowledge, to implore the guidance of the Heavenly Wisdom in their counsels and efforts for that Divine Institution which, because of the Incarnation, is the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. We recognize what a venture of faith they were about to make in sending one forth to seek consecration to the Episcopate, that so he might discharge the office of the Bishop in the Church of God to a flock weak and despised, "scattered and peeled"; and what a greater venture of faith he would make who should go forth on that errand, so doubtful and uncertain. We picture to ourselves all the conditions of difficulty and discouragement by which they were surrounded. We remember that the story of succeeding years, familiar as household words to us, was hidden from them in the darkness that veiled an unknown future. We know that they could not even have dreamed of all that was to come out of that day's doings. We think of all these things and many others, which I will not attempt even to suggest, leaving it to your own thoughts to fill out details that are omitted, and the one conclusion to which all our thoughts and all our ponderings must bring us is, that those ten men of whom the great world knew nothing then, of whom it takes no thought now, were, nevertheless, "men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do."
The two events round which all the memories, the associations, the details, of this and next year's commemorations group themselves, are the election of our first Bishop in 1783, and his consecration at Aberdeen in 1784. It seems to be my duty, today, to limit myself strictly to the first of these; to what led up to it and to the event itself; leaving it to whoever shall preach the sermon of next year to speak of what followed the election, of the consecration itself, and of its outcomes for this Church.
It seems a narrow field—that to which I find myself limited—but, unless I am greatly deceived, it presents to us topics which will deserve careful consideration.
First, then, let me say something of what led up to the election of 1783. In doing so I must go back to the primordia of the Church in this Diocese.
It ought never to be forgotten that the first missionary—if I may so speak—of our Church in Connecticut was the Book of Common Prayer. Keith and Talbot had, indeed, preached at New London in 1702. Muirson had organized the few churchmen at Stratford into a parish in 1707. Different clergymen had, from time to time, through the watchful care of Caleb Heathcote—a name that we ought never to forget—ministered to that little band in their sore trials and vexations. One, Francis Phillips, had come to them and, after six months of neglect and carelessness, departed, leaving only confusion behind him. But long before anything like permanent ministration was begun at Stratford by George Pigot on Trinity Sunday in 1722, Samuel Johnson at Guilford had been diligently studying the Book of Common Prayer put into his hands by Smithson— another name never to be forgotten—and in those studies we find, it seems to me, the true beginnings of what was to become the Diocese of Connecticut. The old Faith enshrined in the historic creeds of the Prayer–Book; the law and life of worship embodied in its formularies, all leading up to and centering in the highest act of Christian worship, the Holy Eucharist; its ideal of the Christian life taught in its Catechism and carried out in all its offices from baptism to burial; on these foundations, no broader and no narrower, was our Church here built up. God grant that on these foundations it may stand till time shall end!
I protest against the narrow and unhistoric idea that Johnson and those who labored with and after him conformed to the Church of England only because of their convictions touching Holy Orders. No doubt those convictions were a factor, a most important factor, in the change they made. But there was a great deal more involved than that one question. Men who had gone from the dry bones of Ames's Medulla and Wollebius to the "fresh springs" of Hooker and Bull and Pearson, must have found how utterly unlike to the Catholic Faith which they there were taught, were the "distributions and definitions" of that "theoretical divinity" in which they had been trained. It was indeed, as one of them said, "emerging from the glimmer of twilight into the full sunshine of open day." Men who had unlearned their prejudices against "pre-composed forms of prayer" by the study of such books as King's Inventions of Men in the Worship of God and the fifth Book of Hooker's immortal work, and above all of the Book of Common Prayer itself, must have reached another and a loftier ideal of worship than any they had known before. Men who had passed from the narrow, cramped, and often conventional theories of Christian living to which they were accustomed, to the reading of Scott's Christian Life [ I have often been told, by the late Dr. Jarvis, that Scott's Christian Life was a favorite book with our early clergy, especially with Johnson and Beach.] and the works of Hammond and Ken, had, surely, found something totally different from anything to which they were wonted. The question, as it presented itself to them, took on no narrow shape, ran in no single groove. It covered the Orders, the Faith, the Worship of the Church of God, and it took in with them the ideal of the Christian Life. It was no narrower than that; and they who assume that it was, contradict the conclusions of reason and the testimony of history. The pioneers of our Church were sometimes, in their own days, called by their opponents "covenant-breakers." If, however, they withdrew from covenants entered into by men with each other, it was only that they might attain the fulness of the New Covenant in the Blood of the Incarnate Son of God.
I cannot refrain from quoting here the words of the able author of the History of the Colonial Church. Looking back to the period of which I have been speaking, he says: "The feeling which prevails over every other, at this present moment, and which alone I wish to leave on record, is the feeling of deepest gratitude to those men of Connecticut, who, not from a mere hereditary attachment to the Church of England, or indolent acquiescence in her teachings, but from a deep abiding conviction of the truth that she is a faithful ‘Keeper and Witness of Holy Writ,' have shown to her ministers in every age and country, "the way in which they can best promote the glory of their Heavenly Master's name, and enlarge the borders of His Kingdom." [ Anderson's History of the Colonial Church, iii. 444.]
While, however, the question of ordination was only one out of many things that drew our fathers and pioneers back to the Church from which their fathers had gone out, it must, from the very exigencies of the case, have come into great and constant prominence. It could not be otherwise. The relations of our missionaries to the Bishop of London—who had, by what may almost be called an accident, acquired jurisdiction over English congregations outside of England [ It was obtained by Laud in 1634; see Anderson, i. 410.]—was little more than nominal. There could be no "well-governing of the Church." If Orders were sought, "the dangers of the sea, sickness, and the violence of enemies" must be incurred, and one in every five that went out sacrificed his life in the attempt to obtain his ministerial commission. Confirmation was an impossibility; and our clergy and people were taunted with the solemn mockery—for it was hardly less—of reading the direction to bring baptized children to the bishop when there was no bishop to whom they could be brought.
That there was no bishop in America was not due to our clergy or people here. [ Possibly Virginia and Maryland are to be excepted.] The reason must be sought elsewhere. In the second year of its existence, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had entertained the idea of sending a Suffragan to America; and, even then, the bishops of Scotland "were regarded as the channel through which that assistance could most readily be obtained." [ Anderson, iii. 36.] The project came to no result. If there is any truth in the tradition that, had it been carried out, Dean Swift would have been sent as Bishop of Virginia, we may be thankful that it failed.
It was renewed from time to time, from the reign of Queen Anne to that of George III., but always without result. Petition after petition, appeal after appeal was sent from America; the Episcopate of England was implored to secure the appointment of "one or more resident bishops in the colonies, for the exercise of offices purely episcopal—offices to which the members of the Church of England have an undoubted claim, and from which they cannot be precluded without manifest injustice and oppression." [ Bishop Lowth, Sermon before the Venerable Society.] The colonial churchmen found, indeed, some zealous friends in the English Episcopate; and one's heart warms as one reads the names of Sharpe and Berkeley and Butler, of Gibson and Sherlock and Seeker. But I fear it might be truly said of the majority of the bishops of England in those days, "that they thought more of the Acts of Parliament than they did of the Acts of the Apostles."
From Parliament or the English Ministry nothing could be hoped, so long as Sir Robert Walpole or the Duke of Newcastle controlled the action of the State; the name of the first of whom is the synonyme of private profligacy and public faithlessness, while of the latter an English historian [ Lord Macaulay. Nor was much, if any, more to be hoped for from Pitt, afterwards first Earl of Chatham.] has said that his selfish ambition "was so intense a passion, that it supplied the place of talents and inspired even fatuity with cunning." Not under such auspices was the Episcopate to be given to America.
To these causes of failure must, doubtless, be added the opposition of the dominant religious bodies in the colonies. But here it must, I think, in all fairness be said, that this opposition was largely due to the fear that, were bishops sent to America, they would, somehow and at some time, be "invested with a power of erecting courts to take cognizance of all affairs testamentary and matrimonial, and to enquire into and punish all offences of scandal"; [ See Minutes of Convention of Delegates from the Synod of New York and Philadelphia and from the Associations of Connecticut, held annually from 1766 to 1775 inclusive (Hartford, 1843). It is now a rare pamphlet, but very valuable for its revelations touching men and measures.] in other words, that they would be, or would become, officers of the State as well as bishops in the Church. No such purpose, it is almost needless to say, was in the minds of those who sought the establishment of a colonial Episcopate. All they desired was a bishop or bishops invested with those powers—and no others— which were recognized in "Holy Scripture and the ancient Canons." But this was just what some would not, and many others could not, be brought to understand. The idea of the officer of State, invested with civil powers and functions, was the vision that disturbed more minds than we can readily imagine now. Says the elder Adams, writing in 1815: "Where is the man to be found who will believe... that the apprehension of Episcopacy contributed, fifty years ago, as much as any other cause, to arouse the attention, not only of the inquiring mind, but of the common people, and urge them to close thinking on the constitutional authority of Parliament over the colonies?" [ All parties agreed that bishops could be sent out only under an act of Parliament; and there seems to have been no doubt that by such an act they would be divested of all civil powers and functions. But it was said, that such an act could be at any time repealed; and if it were repealed, then, under the common law of England, bishops in the colonies might hold their courts, and exercise such functions as were ordinarily exercised by them in the mother country. The danger may have been largely imaginary; but it was certainly within the limits of possibility, and must, in all candor, be fairly considered.]
Under all the circumstances, then, it is no wonder that when the War of the Revolution ended, and the question came to the minds of thoughtful churchmen how the Church should strengthen "the things that remained that were ready to die," their first thought should have been for the Episcopate. The Faith of the Universal Church they had in the historic Creeds. Its Worship was preserved for them in the Book of Common Prayer, But how to provide for the perpetuation of the "Doctrine and Sacraments and the Discipline of Christ as the Lord had commanded and as this Church had received the same," that was the great practical pressing question with which they were brought face to face. Ordination, Confirmation, and the government of the Church must of need be secured. Nor can we greatly wonder if what no entreaties had been able to obtain while the colonies were a part of the British Empire, seemed now to many an almost hopeless undertaking. The surrender at Yorktown in 1781 was to many American churchmen the death-blow to their hopes for an American Episcopate. There were men enough to see the difficulties and discouragements, to talk and write and speculate about them; but where should those men be found who would grapple with them, and by grappling with them overcome them? I answer, they were found in those ten clergymen who met at Woodbury in 1783, "Men that had understanding of the times." And is it not always somewhat after this sort, when any great step is to be taken, and there are manifold difficulties in the way? Do not men dwell on the difficulties, and exaggerate the dangers, and suggest expedients and makeshifts, till some one, without fuss or noise, takes the step, and lo! the mountain has been levelled and the way lies open? Depend upon it, there is a wealth of wisdom in these simple lines:
"From an old English parsonage down by the sea, There came in the twilight a message to me; Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven, Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven; And all through the hours the quiet words ring, Like a low inspiration: ‘Doe the nexte thynge.'"
And what the next thing was for this Church when these western colonies became a nation, we have already seen.
The need of some decided and vigorous action was made more obvious by the fact that one of those makeshifts, just alluded to, by which difficulties are evaded and not met, had been proposed in the emergency, and was not unlikely to be adopted. In the summer of 1782 a pamphlet had been published in Philadelphia, the author of which, impressed with "the impossibility and present undesirableness of attempting to obtain the Episcopate from England," proposed "the combining of the clergy and of representatives of the congregations in convenient districts with a representative body of the whole." This representative body was to issue "a declaration approving of Episcopacy, and professing a determination to possess the succession when it could be obtained"; but, meantime, permanent presidents were to be elected from among the clergy with powers of supervision and ordination. "An exigence of necessity" was pleaded in justification of this extraordinary proposition.
On what possible ground an "exigence of necessity" could be asserted or assumed when no attempt to obtain the Episcopate had been made, it is very difficult to see. How completely is the fallacy and unwisdom of the assumption exposed by the clear, straightforward words of the reply sent from Woodbury on that memorable twenty-fifth of March: "Could necessity warrant a deviation from the law of Christ and the immemorial usage of the Church, yet what necessity can we plead? Can we plead necessity with any propriety till we have been rejected? We conceive the present to be a more favorable opportunity for the introduction of bishops than this country has before seen. However dangerous bishops might have been thought to the civil rights of these States, this danger has now vanished, for such superiors will have no civil authority. They will be purely ecclesiastics... equally under the control of civil law with other clergymen; no danger, then, can now be feared from bishops but such as may be feared from presbyters." And then they further say, how wisely! "Should we consent to a temporary departure from Episcopacy, there would be very little propriety in asking for it afterwards, and as little reason ever to expect it in America."
The men who wrote those words grasped the real exigency as they who spoke loudest about exigencies and impossibilities did not. They foresaw, moreover, with the intuition of true wisdom, the danger of resorting to the temporary expedient that had been proposed. For, in truth, all history proves that such expedients and makeshifts always exhibit a tendency to become permanent, and very soon challenge for themselves a character, as legitimate and ultimate, which is not claimed for them when they are adopted. Then that thing, whatever it may be, to which they profess to lead men up, drops out of sight, and they themselves fill the field of vision. Had the plan of the Philadelphia pamphlet been adopted, such I fully believe, such the clergy of Woodbury believed, must inevitably have been the result. That it was not adopted, that the dangers inherent in it were avoided, was largely owing to the action of the day which we commemorate.
In what simplicity and godly sincerity of heart they took the step that lay right before them, met the difficulty from which others shrank, did "the next thing," and, therefore, wrought for a marvellous future! Says a thoughtful writer: [ Aubrey de Vere, Sketches in Greece and Turkey.] "Men of ambitious imaginations retire into their study and devise some magnum opus which, like the world itself, is to be created out of nothing, and to hang self-balanced on its own centre; after much puffing, however, the world which they produce is apt to turn out but a well-sized bubble. Men of another order labor but to provide for some practical need; and their work, humble, perhaps occasional, in its design, is found to contain the elements that make human toils indestructible."
It was fortunate for all who were to come after them that those men of whom I speak were no dreamers or doctrinaires, and rode no "half-saddled hobbies" of their own construction. They did not undertake to formulate a creed adapted to the wants of the American mind and the demands of the eighteenth century; they had that which was for every mind and all time, in the One "Faith once delivered to the Saints." They did not attempt to compose a Liturgy or Forms for Sacred Rites and Services; these they also had, capable (doubtless) of adaptation and change "according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners," but still complete for all purposes of worship or ministration, being, indeed, the growth of all the Christian ages. They did not set themselves to create a new Church, or even to reason out just what might possibly be dispensed with here or omitted there because of "the present distress"; all they had to do, in that little secluded room where they were assembled, was to provide what was lacking in that organization which they had received; even as in that secluded "upper room" in Jerusalem where the eleven were assembled with the disciples, the vacant place in the Apostolate was filled up in anticipation of the mighty Pentecostal gift. And because they were humble enough, and therefore wise enough, to do just what they did, they "builded better than they knew"; builded on that only foundation that can be laid, even Jesus Christ; builded, also, as "wise master-builders," not with the "wood, hay, stubble" of man's gathering, but with the "gold, silver, precious stones" of the "New Jerusalem that cometh down from heaven."
There is another thought that ought not be passed by. Says an old Father, speaking of the Episcopate: "Nomen oneris non honoris"; "It is the name of a burden rather than of an honor." So here, the question was not, To whom shall we give the honor? but, Who can best take up and bear the burden? And what a burden it was! The wearisome quest for consecration, sure to be protracted and doubtful as to its result; the insufficient provision—if indeed any provision at all was made—for the maintenance of the bishop-elect during the period of his anxious waiting; Bishop Seabury wrote under date of Jan. 5, 1785: "Two years' absence from my family, and expenses of residence here, have more than expended all I had."] the return, if unsuccessful, with the certainty of being told that another might have succeeded where he had failed; if successful, with the alternative certainty of coming to a weak and despised Church, poor in this world's goods and "everywhere spoken against"; the life-long struggle with its tremendous uncertainties; surely, he who should undertake the burden of these things and many more besides, would need not only the "robur et aes triplex circa pectus" of the heathen poet, but the faith that "could remove mountains" also. Who was to be the man?
"All eyes were turned to the venerable Jeremiah Leaming, who had defended the Church with his pen, and suffered for her in mind, body, and estate," and he was the first choice of the clergy at Woodbury. It was felt, however, that his acceptance was doubtful, and the difficulties which might prevent it were fully recognized. The original draught of the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury places the election and the recognition of the difficulties attending it beyond all doubt, by a passage, which, when Leaming declined the undertaking, was, of course, omitted. These are the words: "His age and infirmities, we confess, were objections on his part we felt the force of. His yielding to our desires, to encounter the fatigues and dangers of such a voyage, which (free from all motives for personal ambition, for which in our situation there is very little temptation) nothing but a zeal almost primitive would lead him to do, much the more endears him to us. He is indeed a tried servant of the Church, and bears about him in a degree the marks of a Confessor." [That Leaming was the first choice of the clergy at Woodbury has been questioned. But three things put it beyond doubt: (1) The original letter quoted in the text; (2) Bishop Jarvis's sermon, preached before a Special Convention, May 5, 1796, called to elect a successor to Bishop Seabury, in which the fact is distinctly asserted; (3) Bishop Seabury's letter to Dr. Morice, Secretary of the Venerable Society, under date Feb. 27, 1785, which, when read in the light thrown on it by the original letter and the sermon, can admit of only one interpretation.]
Leaming was not there to speak for himself; and the contingency of his declining to accept the burden was too pressing not to be provided against. Wherefore another was designated, one whose name is forever shrined in the deep love and reverence of this Diocese, and held in grateful remembrance in this Church, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Seabury. Who doubts that in this two-fold designation earnest prayer was made to Him "Who knoweth the hearts of all men"? Who doubts that though no lots were cast, it was left to the ordering of Providence to "show whether of those two the Lord had chosen"? That ordering, as we all know, laid the burden upon Seabury. The brave step was taken, the venture of faith was made. God provided the man to assume the weighty charge; and for that and all that came of it, we offer him today "high laud and hearty thanks."
The same wise and prudent forecast which provided against one possible contingency provided also against another, and in its provision exhibited a truer comprehension of what the Church of Christ, as a spiritual Kingdom, really was than any statesman and many prelates in England seem to have then attained. Says one who was present at Woodbury, writing to a friend who became the second Bishop of Massachusetts: "We clergy have even gone so far as to instruct Dr. Seabury, if none of the regular bishops of the Church of England will ordain him, to go down to Scotland and receive ordination from a non-juring bishop." [Letter of the Rev. Daniel Fogg to the Rev. Samuel Parker; Connecticut Church Documents, ii. 213.] I am in no wise concerned to deny that the thought of applying to the Scottish bishops may have been an entirely original thought in the mind of more than one person in England in the years 1783 and 1784. But there can be no doubt—for the fact is proved, not by unwritten reminiscences after a lapse of years, but by contemporary documents—that this purpose was in the minds of our clergy long before it could have been conceived in England; before, indeed, it was known there that Seabury would seek consecration at the hands of the English prelacy.
The line and limits which I have prescribed to myself in this discourse forbid me to speak as I fain would speak of my great predecessor. That privilege will belong to the preacher of next year. But I may say, and say it with all reverence, that if ever in our eventful history the guiding hand of God appears, it seems to me to manifest itself in the election of our first bishop. Doubtless brave men lived before Agamemnon, but Agamemnon was not the less brave for that. Doubtless there were strong men and true men here before Seabury—had there not been, there would have been no place for him—but there was none stronger and none truer than himself. He was misrepresented by some and misunderstood by others in his lifetime. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented since. But all that is over. Thanks to his careful biographer and to his own unstudied revelations of himself, men know him better now. The voice of detraction is silent, and there are none to contradict us when we say of him: "His body is buried in peace, but his name liveth forevermore."
My brethren, we shall have lingered to little purpose among these memories of the past, unless we take away with us something for the present hour with its duties and responsibilities. Two thoughts seem to me to rise prominently to view from the survey we have been making; two voices speak to us from those past years.
First we learn the lesson—it has already been spoken of—that only by the true-hearted and faithful discharge of the lowly duty, can we rise up to, or make real, the lofty aim. Said pious George Herbert:
"Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high, So shalt thou humble and magnanimous be."
The roots and foundations of all great things, in nature or in the buildings that man rears, lie underground and out of sight. Thoughtless gazers may think little of them; but no towering oak, no stately temple, can stand without them. Above all, in the Church of God, he who works on any other rule than this will lose his labor, it may be will lose himself, and find written at last over his most cherished plans the woeful words: "All is vanity."
Another thought presents itself, another voice is heard full of the inspiration of faith and hope, telling us of the abiding presence of the Lord with His Church, carrying us back to those two unfailing promises: "I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever"; "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world!" In very truth, in that day of doubt and dismay this Church was "as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." To-day we look upon her as "she hath sent out her boughs unto the sea and her branches unto the river," and we bless God for the greatness of "His goodness" and the greatness of "His beauty."
Do we rejoice, dear brethren, in all this with trembling? Do we seem to hear, from the not distant horizon, the muttering of storms which are gathering around us and may burst upon us? Do we see tokens not only of assault from without, but of betrayal from within? Then let us take courage from our past; let us do what those who went before us did; let us, like them, "keep that which is committed to our trust"; and if "evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," let us, as they did, "continue in the things which we have learned, knowing of whom we have learned them."
And finally, let us give these thoughts—the lesson of the one and the inspiration, not without warning, of the other—shape and utterance in the prayer, more full of meaning to us than it could have been to the people of the elder covenant:
"The Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers; let Him not leave us nor forsake us; that He may incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments which He commanded our fathers."
The Bishop then proceeded with the Communion-office, being assisted in the service by the Rev. William Jones Seabury, D.D., Professor in the General Theological Seminary and Rector of the Church of the Annunciation, New York, great-grandson of Bishop Seabury, and in the administration by the Rev. Drs. Beardsley, Harwood, and Seabury, and the Rev. Dr. W. E. Vibbert, Rector of St. James's Church, Fair Haven. Among the sacred vessels used in the service were the Paten and Chalice used by Bishop Seabury in St. James's Church, New London.
Centenary Commemoration of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury. 1884.
the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury, D.D.
Was Consecrated First Bishop of Connecticut at Aberdeen,
November 14, 1784.
The Diocesan Convention of 1884 met on the tenth day of June in St. James's Church, New London.
Morning Prayer was read at 9 o'clock by the Rev. William B. Buckingham, Rector of the Parish, the Rev. Samuel H. Giesy, D.D., Rector of Christ Church, Norwich, and the Rev. Storrs O. Seymour, Rector of Trinity Church, Hartford. At 10–1/2 o'clock, after the singing of the 138th Hymn, the service of the Holy Communion was begun. The Bishop was assisted in the service by the Rector of the Parish, the Rev. E. E. Beardsley, D.D., Lld., Rector of St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, Rector of Trinity Church, Brooklyn, and the Rev. James Stoddard, Rector of Christ Church, Watertown. After the Nicene Creed the Bishop preached the Sermon as follows:
the Stones Revived. Nehemiah IV. 2.
What do these feeble Jews? Will they fortify themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they make an end in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?
It is difficult to imagine a more hopeless undertaking—as men's eyes looked on it—than the attempt to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple at the close of the captivity. For seventy years their ruins had lain in the condition which Isaiah describes in such impressive words: "Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation; our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire; and all our pleasant places are laid waste." Jerusalem was indeed "a heap of stones."
And who were they that should undertake to bring beauty, strength, and order out of all this ruin and desolation? A small and despised remnant of a once powerful people straggling back, as it might seem, in handfuls, from their seventy years' captivity.
Follow Nehemiah in his lonely night-ride as he makes his solitary circuit around the broken walls. Look at the scattered companies of the re-builders as they set about their work; so separated from each other, on that long line of ruined towers and bulwarks, that a trumpet must be sounded to gather them together, should they be attacked by enemies. Think of the sinking of heart with which the first stone to be relaid must have been lifted; think of the scorn with which they who hoped to see the failure of the forlorn attempt must have looked on him who lifted it; and you can then make real to yourselves the greatness of the undertaking and the apparently hopeless inadequacy of the means at hand for its accomplishment. No wonder that the enemies of Judah and Jerusalem cried, "What do these feeble Jews?" No wonder that "Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall." No wonder that the provincial Jews—as they have been termed—sent "ten times" to recall their brethren aiding those who were laboring at Jerusalem, No wonder that Nehemiah "made his prayer unto God," and said, "Hear, O our God, for we are despised!"
Taking up, as I am to do today, the narrative of the events which followed on, and were the outcome of, the election of our first Bishop of which I spoke to you last year, and which gather round, and centre in, his consecration at Aberdeen a hundred years ago, I seem, as I try to reproduce those days and make them real to our minds, to hear Words uttered so like to those which have just been brought together that they appear to be the very echoes of that far distant past. Enemies are crying, "What do these feeble Jews?" Timid friends are saying, "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed"—we cannot do the work. But brave hearts and loving hearts murmured to themselves, "Our God shall fight for us"; and among them all there was no truer, braver heart than that of Seabury, as, taking up the burden laid on him, he set forth on his quest—nobler than the knightliest of olden times—for that sacred Deposit which he was to bear to our western world.
How fared he in his quest? In the answer to this question we shall find the topic that invites attention now. And first of all, something must be said of the documents and testimonials which he carried with him. These were, so far as the clergy of Connecticut were concerned, prepared by the secretary of the meeting held at Woodbury (afterwards our second bishop), the Rev. Abraham Jarvis. They are quite too long for reading here; but it must be said of them that they are admirably conceived and expressed, and set forth a much truer and sounder ideal of the Church of God in its obligation to the State on the one side, and its spiritual duties, under the one Headship of Him Whose "kingdom is not of this world," on the other, than seems to have then prevailed in the mother country. Two passages from the letter of our clergy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, I venture to quote in proof of what has just been said.
"America is now severed from the British empire; by that separation we cease to be a part of the national Church. But, although political changes affect and dissolve our external connection, and cut us off from the powers of the State, yet, we hope, a door still remains open for access to the governors of the Church; and what they might not do for us, without the permission of government, while we were bound as subjects to ask favors and receive them under its auspices and sanctions, they may, in right of their inherent spiritual powers, grant and exercise in favor of a Church planted and nurtured by their hand, and now subjected to other powers.".... "Permit us to suggest, with all deference, our firm persuasion that a sense of the sacred Deposit committed by the great Head of the Church to her bishops, is so awfully impressed on your Grace's mind, as not to leave a moment's doubt in us of your being heartily disposed to rescue the American Church from the distress and danger which now, more than ever, threaten her for want of an Episcopate."
To the same purpose they spoke in their letter to the Archbishop of York. "This part of America is at length dismembered from the British empire; but, notwithstanding the dissolution of our civil connection with the parent State, we still hope to retain our religious polity, the primitive and evangelical doctrine and discipline, which at the Reformation were restored and established in the Church of England." And then they go on to say that, to complete and perpetuate this polity, "an American Episcopate" must be secured.
How clearly the men who used this language shewed that they fully comprehended the position and rights of a National Church; the obedience which "in all things temporal" the Church owes to the powers that are ordained of God; her complete independence and autonomy "in things purely spiritual"; and the great fact that by no political changes was this Church severed from the Church of England or from the historic Church of all the ages, so long as she continued "stedfast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of the bread and the prayers!"
The testimonials and letters thus furnished by the clergy of Connecticut were strengthened by similar documents signed by the venerable Leaming and by the rector and the assistant minister of Trinity Church, New York, and others. [ These testimonials, bearing date April 21, 1783, have misled some persons into the idea that Seabury was elected on that day in New York. This is a mistake easily made if one carelessly glances at the documents, but impossible if the documents are read.] Armed with these testimonials, and bearing a letter from the clergy of Connecticut to the Venerable Society imploring the continuance, at least for a time, of their stipends, the Bishop-elect reached London on the seventh day of July, 1783.
And now began the wearisome and wearing delay of all those slowly-passing months, during which the postulant for the Episcopate was hoping against hope for an enabling act of Parliament, under which the bishops of England might proceed to consecrate him to the office of a Bishop in the Church of God.
It forms no part of my purpose to enter into all the details of that most unattractive period; but I may not pass by the different obstacles to action which presented themselves, or were presented with whatsoever purpose, as those months dragged their slow length along. I know how difficult it is to carry one's self back into a distant period of time and to surround one's self with its real circumstances and conditions, especially when these are connected with what were then new and perplexing civil and ecclesiastical relations. But I cannot wonder that, looking back on so many failures in regard to an American Episcopate, and the apparent inability of those whose aid was invoked to grasp the issue presented with all its grand possibilities—I cannot wonder that the clergy of Connecticut should have said: "We hope that the successors of the Apostles in the Church of England have sufficient reasons to justify themselves to the world and to God. We, however, know of none such, nor can our imagination frame any." [ Address of the Connecticut Clergy to Bishop Seabury, 1785.]
I name first, among the difficulties urged, the fear "that there would be no adequate support for a bishop"; and I name it first simply because it was, probably, the least. The answer to it that came from our clergy was dignified and conclusive. "We can contemplate," they said, "no other support for a bishop than what is to be derived from voluntary contracts, and subscriptions and contributions, directed by the good will and zeal of the members of a Church who are taught, and do believe, that a bishop is the chief minister in the kingdom of Christ on earth.... A bishop in Connecticut must, in some degree, be of the primitive style. With patience, and a share of primitive zeal, he must rest for support on the Church which he serves, unornamented with temporal dignity, and without the props of secular power." Whether the English prelacy did or did not grasp, and acquiesce in, this ideal of a bishop and his office, I cannot find that they pressed this objection further.
A second obstacle was thus expressed: "It would be sending a bishop to Connecticut, which they [the bishops of England] have no right to do without the consent of the State, and such a bishop would not be received in Connecticut." The phrase "consent of the State" is ambiguous. It may refer to the Continental Congress or to the authorities of the particular State concerned. If, however, there were any who gave to the phrase the first of these interpretations, they appear to have speedily abandoned it and to have adopted the second. Apparently they supposed that the civil authority in Connecticut might claim the right, and exercise the power, to forbid a bishop to come within the limits of the State, and to set him adrift with "the wide world before him where to choose," a veritable bishop in partibus, without home, habitation, or name. There can be little doubt that these fancies were pressed by, if they did not originate with, persons belonging to the so-called "Standing Order" in New England, under the lead of a prominent minister in Connecticut.
To meet the difficulty, it was stated that a committee of the Convention of the clergy of Connecticut had consulted with leading members of both Houses of Assembly touching the "need, the propriety, or the prudence of an application to government for the admission of a bishop into the State," and that the result of the conference showed that no such Act was needed, inasmuch as the Assembly had already given all needful "legal rights and powers" to all bodies of Christians of whatever name, and, therefore, to the Church among them; that, if not needed, there could be no propriety in applying for it; and, finally, that any such application would be imprudent and unwise, in that "there were some who would oppose it, and would labor to excite opposition among the people, who, if unalarmed by any jealousies, would probably remain quiet." How far these wise and reasonable conclusions commended themselves to the bishops of England I am unable to state.
A third difficulty remained; and this, it must be owned, had more substance to it than those just considered. It related to the oaths in the Ordination Office. These could not, of course, be taken by the person seeking consecration; nor could the consecrating bishops dispense with them on their own authority; nor would the dispensation of the sovereign suffice, even should it be given, unless with, at least, the concurrence of the Privy Council, or—and this seems to have been the final conclusion—an Act of Parliament.
When we remember how potent an element in bringing on the Revolution of 1688—a revolution which had placed the House of Hanover on the throne of Great Britain—the question as to the sovereign's dispensing power had been; what an engine of tyranny in the State and of destruction to the Church James II. had intended to make it; and how offensive, if not dangerous, any revival of it might well appear, we need not wonder that the bishops of England should have declined to act under it, or that the sovereign should have declined to give it, unless it could be guarded and supported by forms and sanctions of unquestionable legality.
All this is clear enough. But what does not appear is, why a more hearty and earnest effort was not made to secure the needed legislation. No such effort could have been expected from the authorities of the State. They who cared nothing for an Episcopate in America before the War of the Revolution, were not likely to care more for it after the war was ended. If, as they had all along been led to believe, the idea of an Episcopate was offensive to the Colonies, it could hardly, they would say, be less offensive to the States in the first flush of their acknowledged independence. Nor were influences lacking, either in England or in America, which were brought to bear in blocking that legislation without which the English Prelacy declined to act. It is, therefore, easy to understand the apathy of government. But it is not so easy to understand, and it is far less easy to justify, the apparent apathy of those who, it might justly have been thought, "in view of the sacred deposit committed by the great Head of the Church to her bishops," would have been heartily disposed to avert the dangers which darkened the future of the Church in America. What makes the inaction more inexplicable is, that while these negotiations were pending, an Act of Parliament was actually passed which enabled "the Bishop of London to admit foreign candidates to the order of deacon or priest, but gave no permission to consecrate a bishop for Connecticut or for any of the American States." Who can wonder that Seabury was, at last, driven to say, "This is certainly the worst country in the world to do business in; I wonder how they get along at any rate"! [ Letter to Mr. Jarvis, May 24, 1784.]
As I have read, time and again, the record of that weary waiting, the story of that hope perpetually deferred, I have always risen from the reading with the profound impression that I have been brought into contact with a bravely patient and an utterly unselfish man.
Alone in what was now to him a foreign land, separated from his family which had been left here in New London, seeing his worldly means which were "all embarked in this enterprise" rapidly wasting away, without any influence to back him but the righteousness of his cause, with his very loyalty to the crown made an objection to him where one might have expected the precise opposite, he never bated one jot of effort—however it may have been as to heart and hope—but met difficulties, answered objections, dealt with obstacles with a brave patience that marks him as a veritable hero. [ A story was set about by Granville Sharpe, whose prejudices led him to be unjustly credulous, that at his first interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Seabury, in answer to the objections raised by his Grace, turned abruptly on his heel, saying, "If your Grace will not grant me consecration, I know where I can get it"; and so set off for Scotland. There is no truth whatever in the story. Seabury's letters, as well as all the circumstances, completely disprove it. Nor does the fact that Sharpe believed it, excuse his biographer, who might have known better, for giving it currency.]
Nor was this the persistence of a self-seeking and ambitious man, bent on attaining something for himself. It occurred to him, not unnaturally, that possibly if the State of Connecticut were to be asked to give permission for a bishop to reside within its borders, it might be easier to secure such permission for another than for one who had been imprisoned in New Haven for his loyalty. Accordingly he wrote to his friends here: "I beg that no clergyman in Connecticut will hesitate a moment on my account; the point is to get the Episcopal authority into that country"; and then he went on to say that, if another is designated, "he shall have every assistance in my power." These are not the words of a self-seeking man—a man of low ambitions. But they are the words of a man filled with a great purpose, inspired with a great thought, ready to do and to bear and to wait, so the purpose can be accomplished and the thought take shape. All is summed up by him in a single sentence: "Believe me, there is nothing that is not base that I would not do, nor any risk that I would not run, nor any inconvenience to myself that I would not encounter, to carry this business into effect." [ While these negotiations in England were in progress, an application was made, without Seabury's knowledge, to Cartwright of Shrewsbury, an irregular non-juring bishop. As, however, this was subsequent to the opening of negotiations with Scotland, nothing, fortunately, came of it. It has been said that an application was made to, or an offer received from, the Danish government, looking to a consecration by Danish bishops. This, however, is a mistake. No application was ever made for consecration in Denmark; while the offer of the Danish government, made through Mr. Adams, our then Minister to England, related only to the ordination of candidates for the diaconate and priesthood. The passage of the Act of Parliament, mentioned above, prevented the necessity of acting on the offer; and fortunately so, for the Danish Episcopate is only titular.]
Nearly fourteen months had now elapsed since Seabury arrived in London. It was clear that consecration must, if obtained at all, be obtained elsewhere than in England, and naturally his thoughts reverted to Scotland. So careful, however, was he to consult in all things those who had elected him, that he would take no decisive step—notwithstanding the instructions given from Woodbury in March, 1783—till they had been communicated with, and their views obtained; so that it was not till August 31, 1784, that he wrote to Dr. Myles Cooper. The letter is creditable alike to his head and his heart. No word of personal disappointment and vexation, no line of reproach finds place in it is the letter of a manly man, too strong in faith and purpose to waste time in complaints and repinings. He applies through his friend to the bishops of Scotland, and adds: "I hope I shall not apply in vain. If they consent to impart the Episcopal succession to the Church of Connecticut, they will, I think, do a good work, and the blessing of thousands will attend them. And perhaps for this cause, among others, God's providence has supported them and continued their succession under various and great difficulties; that a free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical Episcopacy may from them pass into the Western world."
Let me pause, just here, to remind you that this was the third time that men's minds were turned to the Scottish bishops in connection with an American Episcopate.
When, in 1703, the Venerable Society had it in mind to send out to America a Suffragan to the Bishop of London, it was thought that consecration could be most readily obtained from the bishops of Scotland.
In the autumn of 1782, one year after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown—an event which practically settled the question of the independence of the thirteen colonies—the Rev. Dr. George Berkeley, a son of that great prelate who sang of the "westward course of empire," addressed a letter to Bishop Skinner, coadjutor to the Primus of the Scottish Church, suggesting that the bishops of Scotland should consecrate a bishop for America, and saying, "had my honored father's scheme for planting an Episcopal College, whereof he was to have been president, in the Summer Islands, not been sacrificed by the worst minister that Britain ever saw, probably under a mild monarch (who loves the Church of England as much as I believe his grandfather hated it) Episcopacy would have been established in America by a succession from the English Church, unattended by any invidious temporal rank or power."
No doubt the question thus proposed to the Scottish bishops was carefully considered, but the result was unfavorable to Dr. Berkeley's wishes. Bishop Skinner wrote: "Nothing can be done in the affair with safety on our side, till the independence of America be fully and irrevocably recognized by the government of Britain; and even then the enemies of our Church might make a handle of our correspondence with the colonies as a proof that we always wished to fish in troubled waters, and we have little need to give any ground for an imputation of this kind,"
No one who recalls the frightful provisions of the penal acts of Parliament passed in 1746 and 1748, which were plainly intended to annihilate the Scottish Church, and were unrepeated when Bishop Skinner wrote the words just quoted, can wonder at the hesitation of the Scottish bishops. For in executing these laws in days not long passed, "so vigilantly were the Scottish Episcopal clergy watched...that it was with the utmost difficulty they could celebrate any of the services of religion. There are instances of individual clergymen performing public worship no less than sixteen times in one day.....The service was often performed in farm-houses, or in the out-houses of the farmhouse, if these were conveniently constructed. In either case the clergyman, the family, and four persons were in the apartment, and dozens or hundreds of others stationed themselves in as favorable positions as they could, to listen to the prayers of the Church. Sometimes divine service was celebrated under a shed, in which was the number allowed by law, while the people stood at a small distance in the open air. At times, again, when there was no apparent danger; pastor and people met in the recesses of woods, in secluded glens, and on the sides of sequestered mountains, where the vault of heaven was their covering, the moss turfs their humble altar, and perhaps a solitary seat their pulpit." [ John Parker Lawson's History of the Scottish Episcopal Church, pp. 300–302. See also the Rev. W. Walker's most interesting Life of John Skinner of Linshirt, chap. iii. To make the general statements in the text plainer, I add, in a foot-note, some details which time forbade me to introduce into the sermon. By the Act of 1746, "every person exercising the function of a pastor or minister in any Episcopal meeting in Scotland, without registering his letters of orders, and taking all the oaths prescribed by law, and praying for his Majesty King George and the royal family by name" was "for the first offence to suffer six months' imprisonment; and for the second, or any subsequent offence, was to be transported to some of his Majesty's plantations in America for life; and in case of his return to Great Britain, to suffer imprisonment for life." All chapels were to be closed; and even in a private house only four persons besides the family were allowed to be present at any service. In 1748, no letters of orders, not given by some bishop of England or Ireland, were allowed in Scotland; and no persons were allowed to officiate as chaplains in private families, or to preach or perform any divine services in houses of which they were not the masters, unless they belonged to the Presbyterian establishment. These atrocious acts were, undoubtedly, intended to destroy "root and branch" the Scottish Church. Happily some laws are so stringent that their very stringency prevents their thorough execution. It should never be forgotten that the English Episcopate unanimously opposed the Act of 1748 in the House of Lords.] In very truth, so far as the worship of God was concerned, "they wandered"—these churchmen of Scotland—"in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth."
We may not sympathize with the political scruples of the non-jurors of Scotland. But any men who so possess the courage of their convictions as not to shrink from loss of goods and danger of life, and who accept the trials of martyrdom without posing as martyrs in personal comfort and security, deserve and will receive the veneration of all true-hearted and right-minded men. And in this matter, "let all history declare whether in any age or in any cause, as followers of Knox or of Montrose, as Cameronians or as Jacobites, the men—aye and the women—of Scotland have quailed from any degree of sacrifice or suffering." [ Lord Stanhope, History of England, in. 210.]
To return:—The correspondence between Bishop Skinner and Dr. Berkeley was continued through the winter of 1782–1783, but without any actual result. [ Scottish Church Review, i. 36–43.] In the autumn of 1783—some four months after Seabury's arrival in England—a letter was sent to the Scottish Primus by Mr. Elphinstone, a man of literary reputation, the son of a Scottish clergyman, in which the following question was put: "Can consecration be obtained in Scotland for an already dignified and well vouched American clergyman, now in London, for the purpose of perpetuating the Episcopal reformed Church in America, particularly in Connecticut?" [ Wilberforce, American Church, p. 205.] At the same time Dr. Berkeley renewed his correspondence with Bishop Skinner in these words: "I have this day [Nov. 24] heard (I need not add with the sincerest pleasure) that a respectable Presbyter, well recommended from America, hath arrived in London, seeking what it seems in the present state of affairs he cannot expect to receive in our Church. Surely, dear sir, the Scotch prelates, who are not shackled by any Erastian connexion, will not send this suppliant empty away. .... I scruple not to give it as my decided opinion that the king, some of his cabinet counsellors, all our bishops (except, peradventure, the Bishop of St. Asaph [ Dr. Jonathan Shipley.]), all the learned and respectable clergy of our Church, will at least secretly rejoice if a Protestant bishop be sent from Scotland to America—more especially if Connecticut is to be the scene of his ministry." [ Scottish Church Review, i. 106; where the rest of the correspondence is also given.]
The question now brought before the Scottish bishops, was, as will be readily seen, a different one from that proposed nearly two years before. Then they were asked to originate action and to send out a bishop, selected by themselves, to take his chances of being received by the clergy and church-people in America. Now the proposition was to complete action already begun, and to invest with the Episcopal character a person selected in America and sent out to obtain consecration. Wisely did the Scottish prelates decline to take the former course, which could only have increased the difficulties of the situation. As wisely, and with a noble recognition of the importance of what they clearly regarded as the great responsibility and solemn duty laid upon them, did they decide to adopt the latter. Said one of them: "Considering the great Depositum committed to us, I do not see how we can account to our great Lord and Master, if we neglect such an opportunity of promoting His truth and enlarging the borders of His Church. "These words have in them the ring of a firm conviction of duty, and a thorough understanding of the true character and position of Christ's kingdom upon earth.
Still, ready as they were to take the responsibility, and even the possible dangers, of consecrating the applicant for the Episcopate, there were some further questions to be asked, and at least one doubt to be removed. They owed it to themselves, and to the Church of God, to be well assured of "the candidate's learning, piety, and principles," and also "to know whether the proposal was only from himself, or if it was a plan laid with his American brethren, and if he was recommended and his consecration solicited by them." It is needless to say that ample and entire satisfaction was given on both these points.
One thing—and it brings out the doubt just alluded to-the Scottish bishops could not quite comprehend. Says Bishop Skinner, speaking for his brethren as well as for himself: "I should be glad to know why he [Dr. Seabury] has been refused consecration in England; as I cannot conceive any good reason for denying this, after what Government has already yielded to the United States. The Bishop of London, I presume, does not now think of exercising any spiritual jurisdiction where the secular power of Britain is no longer acknowledged. And if all the respectable characters you mention would secretly rejoice at the establishment of Protestant Episcopacy in America, even through Scotland, there must be some ostensible reason for their withholding that confidence and support they would otherwise give to this proposal." [ Letter to Dr. Berkeley, under date of Nov. 29, 1783.]
Long years of suffering had taught the Scottish bishops caution, nor can it be wondered at that while they were "keenly alive to the necessity of preserving the Scottish Church from the odium that would have been incurred by any hasty or mistaken step," they were also "utterly at a loss to understand why considerations of a purely political kind should have had such enervating influence on the English bishops as to render them passive spectators of the destitution of their American children." Brave men, men ready to run needful risks and meet unavoidable dangers, are not the men who are willing to be made cat's-paws. How the doubt was resolved I am unable to say. That it was resolved is certain; since on the 8th of December, 1783, it was known that consecration could be obtained in Scotland.
Just here the questions arise: Why, if the Scottish bishops were ready to proceed to consecration in December of 1783, was that solemn act deferred for near a twelve-month—till November of the following year? And why did Seabury himself delay his application to Scotland till August of the same year? The answer is found in Seabury's own letter of August, 1784, already quoted, in which he formally applies to the bishops of Scotland. He says: "With regard to myself, it is not my fault that I have not done it before, but I thought it my duty to pursue the plan marked out for me by the clergy of Connecticut, as long as there was a probable chance of succeeding." [ Seabury's letter to Dr. Cooper of August 31, 1784. On the back of this letter there is a note, written either by Bishop Skinner or, more probably, by his father, the Rev. John Skinner of Linshart, in these words: "Dr. Berkeley, in consequence of some fear suggested by Bishop Skinner, wrote the present Archbishop of Canterbury [Dr. John Moore] that application had been made by Dr. Seabury to the Scottish bishops for consecration, and begged that if his Grace thought the bishops here ran any hazard in complying with Seabury's request, he would be so good as to give Dr. Berkeley notice immediately; but if his Grace was satisfied that there was no danger, there was no occasion to give any answer. No answer came." Scottish Church Review, i. 113. In view of all these facts and circumstances, how utterly preposterous is the gossiping story retailed by Granville Sharpe!]
The explanation was satisfactory, and on the 2nd of October, Bishop Kilgour, the Scottish Primus, wrote: "Dr. Seabury's long silence, after it had been signified to him that the bishops of this Church would comply with his proposals, made them all think that the affair was dropped, and that he did not choose to be connected with them; but his letter, and the manner in which he accounts for his conduct, give such satisfaction, that I have the pleasure to inform you that we are still willing to comply with his proposal to clothe him with the Episcopal character, and thereby convey to the Western world the blessing of a free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical Episcopacy; not doubting that he will so agree with us in doctrine and discipline, as that he and the Church under his charge in Connecticut will hold communion with us and the Church here on catholic and primitive principles; and so that the members of both may with freedom communicate together in all the offices of religion." Reasons are also given why the consecration should take place in Aberdeen.
To this letter of the Primus, Seabury replied at once, expressing to the Scottish bishops his thankfulness "for the ready and willing mind which they manifested in this important affair," and giving utterance to the prayer—how wonderfully answered!—"May God accept and reward their piety, and grant that this whole business may terminate to the glory of His name and the prosperity of His Church!"
The way seemed now to be cleared; and the 5th of November found Seabury in Aberdeen. One might reasonably have supposed that all difficulties were now surmounted. But it was not so. It is not necessary to go into details; they would simply set forth a painful story of human infirmity and self-seeking. It is enough to say that while Seabury was travelling northward a letter—inspired at least by a clergyman in America—was sent from London to the Scottish Primus, containing a personal attack on the bishop-elect, and warning the Scottish bishops of the unknown evils that would follow on his consecration. The manly uprightness and good sense of Bishop Skinner dispersed these unsubstantial mists of detraction if not of malice, and he thus disposed of the unworthy attempt to injure Seabury and intimidate his consecrators: "I cannot help considering the whole of this intelligence as a mean and silly artifice of some enemy to Dr. Seabury, who secretly envies us the introducing such a worthy man into America in the character of a bishop, a character I am fully satisfied he is in every way qualified to support with honor to himself and all concerned with him. For if there be truth and candor in man, I honestly declare I think it is in Dr. Seabury." [ The letter to the Primus with the other correspondence is given in the Scottish Church Review, i. 111–118.]
We have reached, at length, the consummation of this more than knightly quest, this veritable pilgrimage, the story of which I have tried to tell. When I began it last year, I asked you to go with me, in thought, to a secluded inland village in our own Diocese. Now I must ask you to go with me to a grey old city, the capital of northern Scotland, which looks out upon the German ocean. It is a place of old renown, for it had a name before one civilized man had set foot on this northern continent. Did time permit, much might be said about it; for it was once the home of Hector Boethius, praised by the great Erasmus, and in far later times the home, also, of Forbes of Corse and Henry Scougal; and its clergy and people in 1639 refused the "solemn League and Covenant" until it was forced upon them at the point of the sword, and renounced it when the pressure was withdrawn. It is sometimes called "the city of Bon–Accord," from the legend of its arms. And that legend must always for us have a higher than any earthly application, for it must always speak to us of "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Nor ought another thing to be forgotten today. The first place in which a clergyman in English orders ever officiated in Connecticut—as a clergyman of the Church of England—was here in New London, destined to be the home of our first bishop; and that clergyman was the Rev. George Keith, a native of Aberdeen. [ He was the guest of the Rev. Gurdon Saltonstall, minister of the town, who afterwards presided at the discussion in the Library of Yale College in 1722. The service in New London was Sept. 13, 1702.]
Passing into the part of New Aberdeen known as the Long Acre, and ascending to "a large upper room" in the house occupied by the Coadjutor–Bishop of the Diocese, we find ourselves in the midst of a large congregation of the clergy and the faithful and in the presence of the three officiating prelates. Two [ Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen, and Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Moray. ] are men far on in years; one [ John Skinner, Coadjutor of Aberdeen.] is in the full maturity of his manhood, and to him is committed the office of the preacher. As the sermon ends, we hear the words of the concluding verses of the ninetieth Psalm, in the version of Tate and Brady—the last two of which, as we read them with the story of the succeeding century in mind, may also seem a prophecy:
"To all Thy servants, Lord, let this Thy wondrous work be known; And to our offspring yet unborn, Thy glorious power be shewn
"Let thy bright rays upon us shine, Give Thou our work success; The glorious work we have in hand, Do Thou vouchsafe to bless,"
The supreme point of the solemn office is reached. A young priest, who has not yet seen thirty summers, holds the book from which the aged Primus reads the awful sentence of ordination and the charge which follows it; that youthful priest is Alexander Jolly, afterwards the saintly Bishop of Moray. The imposition of Apostolic hands is given; the work begun here in 1783 is consummated, and our Diocese rejoices in its first bishop.
Nor is this all. The golden chain of the succession that starts from the Master's hand is stretched westward across an ocean. The
"Church of Jesus Christ, The blessed Banyan of our God,"
sends out a branch to root itself in our western world; a branch which our eyes have seen "rise, and spread, and droop, and root again," until in its self-repeating life it has crossed this continent, and is firmly rooted on our, then unknown, Pacific coast.
"Long as the world itself shall last, The sacred Banyan still shall spread; From clime to clime, from age to age, Its sheltering shadow shall be shed; Nations shall seek its pillared shade, Its leaves shall for their healing be; The circling flood that feeds its life, The blood that crimsoned Calvary."' [ Bishop Doane of New Jersey; Ficus Religiosa.]
And here I pause today. Another year, please God, we must bring to remembrance what followed the consecration in Scotland, the newly-consecrated bishop's return to America, and the share that he and his Diocese had in organizing this Church in the United States.
Here and now it is enough to have told the story—not as it should be told, but as I have had power to tell it—of his consecration. Standing above the honored sepulchre [ Bishop Seabury's remains rest under the chancel of St. James's Church, New London. ] that holds the mouldered remains of him who a hundred years ago knelt down in that distant land to receive the warrant of his high commission in the Church of God; in this fair temple, which replaces the far humbler one in which he ministered as a parish priest; beside that monument, which attests the loving gratitude of a Diocese that will never let his memory be forgotten; two thoughts—bringing with them a thankfulness too deep for utterance—fill mind and heart alike: the first, the thought of that brave, patient, self-sacrificing soldier of the Cross, who dared all and gave all, that he might win for us the precious gift that binds us to the historic Church and through it to the great day of Pentecost and the mount of the Ascension; the second, of those venerable fathers who, to communicate this gift, rose above all personal considerations, and put aside possibilities that might have daunted many a brave soul, because on their hearts was written—as with a pen of iron on living rock—that charge to all Christ's ministers which comprehends and covers all duties and responsibilities: "It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful."
the Centenary of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury was commemorated in Aberdeen by services on the seventh and eighth days of October, 1884, at which the Bishop of Connecticut and a delegation of the clergy attended. In the appendix will be found an account of these services, including Bishop Williams's sermon, Dr. Beardsley's historical paper, and other addresses.
The anniversary was observed by the Diocese of Connecticut on the fourteenth day of November, 1884, at Christ Church, Hartford. The Church was decorated with flowers and ferns; Bishop Seabury's mitre was placed on the right of the Chancel, and a facsimile of the Concordate which he made with his consecrators was hung opposite. At 11 o'clock a long procession of the clergy entered the Church, followed by Bishop Paddock of Massachusetts and Bishop Williams, before whom the Rev. W. F. Nichols carried the pastoral staff presented to him at Aberdeen; the processional hymn was "The Church's One Foundation." Bishop Williams began the Communion-office, using as a Collect that for St. Simon and St. Jude's Day. The Epistle (that for St. Mark's Day) was read by the Rev. W. B. Buckingham, successor of Bishop Seabury as Rector of St. James's Church, New London (wearing a surplice which once belonged to Bishop Seabury); and the Gospel (that for St. James's Day) was read by the Rev. J. J. McCook, Rector of St. John's Church, East Hartford. After the Nicene Creed, the latter part of the old metrical version of the ninetieth psalm was sung, as it had been sung at Aberdeen a hundred years before:—
To satisfy and cheer our souls, Thy early mercy send; That we may in all our days to come In joy and comfort spend.
To all Thy servants, Lord, let this Thy wondrous work be known; And to our offspring yet unborn, Thy glorious power be shown.
Let Thy bright rays upon us shine, Give Thou our work success; The glorious work we have in hand Do Thou vouchsafe to bless.
Dr. Tatlock's Address.
After the hymn, the Rev. William Tatlock, D.D., Rector of St. John's Church, Stamford, a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese, and during Dr. Beardsley's absence its President, addressed the Bishop as follows:
The clergy of your diocese, assembled to welcome you on your return from Scotland, can find no better words in which to do it than some which were used on the similar occasion one hundred years ago. "We embrace with pleasure this early opportunity of congratulating you on your safe return to your native country, and on the accomplishment of that enterprise in which, at our desire, you engaged. Devoutly do we adore and reverently thank the great Head of the Church that He has been pleased to preserve you." The voyage today is neither "long" nor "dangerous," but we have followed you with our prayers, and have rendered our thanksgivings that He has conducted you in safety to the haven where you would be. We are glad to know that the voyage was more prosperous than a century ago it was wont to be, and that you and the four honored brethren who accompanied you have not experienced the old proportion of fatalities. We greet them and welcome them with you. We appreciate most warmly the courtesy with which you were received—how could it have been otherwise, indeed?—and the greeting you have had from those who in this generation bear the historic names of Nelson and Douglas and Gordon; and that Wordsworth and Harold Browne have met with the master in theology at whose feet so many of the American clergy have sat. The desire has at last been gratified, which of late years has been so generally-felt, that the mother churches of Scotland and England might have opportunity to receive and welcome you as the representative, duly accredited by her bishops, of the Church in America; that one who does not seek occasions, but whom occasions seek, should speak for her on this worthy occasion in commemoration of the great founder of her Episcopate. We believe that this interchange of courtesies and sympathies, especially between the Churches in Scotland and Connecticut, will gladden and strengthen both in their common work for the Master through the century to come.
If a regret may properly be expressed on this occasion of rejoicing, it is that the Primus of Scotland and the Primate of all England were hindered from personal participation in an occasion which had their warmest sympathies, Seabury's consecration will always be the poetic incident in American Church history, and it would have been a sweet revenge of time to have had them united in the ratification of an act of piety and charity which the predecessor of the one did not dare, and of the other dared to do. Of that act and its momentous issues so much has been and will be said, and more fittingly, both here and elsewhere today, that it is enough if the churchmen of Connecticut be permitted now to say through me, that it is a privilege for which they are deeply grateful to have been instrumental in bringing about the very first movement of the Church in Britain from an insular to a Catholic position; in demonstrating—to quote the words of Lord Nelson uttered in your hearing at Aberdeen—"that establishment and endowment are not necessary to Church life." For it is to be remembered that not only was there not an Anglican bishop exercising acknowledged jurisdiction in America before Seabury, but there was not an Anglican bishop anywhere outside of the British Isles. Our fathers, sending Seabury for consecration, awakened the English Church to the consciousness that it had a duty to the world in extending its episcopacy beyond the shadow of its cathedrals and palaces. For this great result, "so far beyond what they had hoped for," of their wise and holy enterprise, we humbly adore the great Head of the Church on this hundreth anniversary of its inception in the consecration of the first bishop of Connecticut.
For thirty-three years, dear Bishop, chief pastor of the first American diocese, you have carried on wisely and well the work which Seabury began, going in and out among us with the pastoral spirit in your heart, of which the graceful gift of the Scottish Church to you is the expressive symbol: "To the flock of Christ a shepherd." We welcome you once more to your home and to ours; to the diocese you love and serve; to the parishes which love and reverence you; and to the institutions you have founded and fostered. You have been absent from us long enough for our comfort and, as we gladly believe, for yours. Fourscore and four years of the eighteenth century Connecticut endured to have its bishop on the other side of the Atlantic. Three months is enough in the nineteenth. May the twentieth find you here, with pastoral staff in hand, and loyal hearts and sustaining hands of clergy and laity all around you, and half a century of episcopal work behind you—a golden track of useful and honored years; and before you the large reward—"not of debt but of grace"—for the due use of the many talents and the fulfilment of the large responsibilities entrusted to the fourth bishop of Connecticut.
And with this welcome to you and your companions—our representatives—we would renew the expression of the pious hope with which a hundred years ago the clergy of Connecticut concluded their address of welcome to their first bishop: "Wherever the American Episcopal Church shall be mentioned in the world, may this good deed, which the Scottish Church has done for us, be spoken of for a memorial of her!"
the Bishop's Reply.
Bishop Williams replied:
I cannot express to you, my dear brother and my dear brethren, the thankfulness—and I think I may speak for my brethren of the delegation to Scotland—with which your kind words fill my heart. I can truly say that I saw no brighter day than that on which I returned to my own diocese, my clergy, and my people. And I say this with a full recognition of the great joy and gladness of those days in Aberdeen, the memory of which must abide while life shall last.
The memories of the past, the blessings of the present, the hopes of the future, all centred there, roused all souls, sank into all hearts. It was a great sight to behold the Churches in Scotland, England, Ireland, and America, together with those of the dependencies of Great Britain, and from the islands of the sea, lands that no one knew of a hundred years ago. It told its own story, made its own impression of unity and brotherly love, "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
No description can tell you sufficiently of the warmth of our welcome and the abounding hospitality which met us. You must have heard the kindly word, and looked into the beaming eye, and felt the hearty hand-grasp, to make those things real. And far down underneath all, giving life to all, was the deep sense of that communion in which by the fourfold Apostolic bond we were bound together in Christ Jesus.
I have asked the brethren whom you so kindly sent with me to say something to you, one of the past as contrasted with the present, another of the first day, and another still of the second day of the commemoration at Aberdeen.
Dr. Beardsley's Address.
The Rev. E. E. Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., rector of St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, historian of the diocese and biographer of Bishop Seabury, then made the following address:
So much has been written and spoken about the consecration of Bishop Seabury, that it must be well understood by all intelligent Connecticut churchmen, if not by all American churchmen. It is quite unnecessary to take you over the familiar ground; but I have been sometimes asked; "What was the Scottish Episcopal Church, that her bishops a century ago should venture an act which the bishops of the Church of England declined to undertake?" The question involves an answer which goes back a century farther, even to the time when Episcopacy was established in Scotland as a state religion under the reign of the Stuart kings. The revolution of 1688 caused the fall of James II., king of Great Britain and second son of Charles I., and with him fell the Episcopal Church in Scotland, as an establishment William, the Prince of Orange, had married his daughter Mary, and fitting out an expedition when the people were ripe for a change, he invaded England, and seizing the throne, was crowned with his wife to the sovereignty of the realm. The Church of England took a prominent part in forwarding this revolution, which was a religious one in its origin, and in transferring the crown, on the abdication of James II., to the heads of William and Mary. The Anglo–Saxon mind combines with love of liberty a veneration for national institutions and traditions. It resisted in this instance the determination of the king to render himself absolute and restore the Roman Catholic religion in England. Hence the English Church as a whole felt herself bound to cast off allegiance to him, for, in addition to the various oppressions which he had heaped upon her, he had sought in the character of supreme governor to force upon her the adoption of doctrines and ceremonies contrary to those which she was under the most sacred obligations to hold and defend.
But it was not so with the Scottish Church. James had never tyrannized over her or harassed her with oppressions, and therefore she continued to assert her allegiance to him, and, of course, to recognize the claims of his descendants. The Scottish bishops were in the English line of succession from leel-with orders as valid as those of the Archbishop of Canterbury—but, because they cast in their lot with the house of Stuart and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new sovereign or to pray for him in their liturgy, they and their flocks were put under disabilities and subjected to the severest penalties, without producing the effect, however, of changing in the slightest degree their religious or political sentiments. Three times within the next half century a part of the Scottish people rose in arms against the king of England in favor of the exiled Stuart family, the last formidable rising being in 1745, under Charles Edward, the Pretender, who was disastrously defeated at the battle of Culloden; and then the worst horrors of civil war followed; parsonages and places of worship were destroyed, more stringent laws were enacted against the sympathizers with the Stuart dynasty, and the Episcopal clergy were forbidden to officiate except in private houses, and then only for four persons besides those of the household, or if in an uninhabited building for a number not exceeding four. For a first offense they were subject to imprisonment for six months, and for a second to transportation for life to the American plantations. Laymen attending a prohibited meeting were liable to a fine of five pounds for the first offense and an imprisonment of two years for the second.
This was the state of things when Seabury (afterwards bishop) embarked in mid-summer, 1752, for Scotland to attend a course of medical lectures at the University of Edinburgh, and upon its completion to proceed to London and receive Holy Orders in the Church of England. On the morning of the Sunday after his arrival in Edinburgh, he inquired of his host where he might find an Episcopal service, and was answered: "I will show you; take your hat and follow me; but keep barely in my sight, for we are closely watched and with jealousy by the Presbyterians." He followed him through narrow, dirty lanes and unfrequented streets, and finally disappeared in an old building several stories high, and ascended to an upper room where a little band of faithful churchmen had gathered to worship God in the forms of the liturgy and according to the dictates of their conscience. That building stood until a few years ago. A friend in Edinburgh gave me a photograph of it, which is valuable as showing the uninviting quarters to which the poor Episcopalians were driven in those days to find freedom in their religious services. The upper room where they met was acquired by purchase in 1741, and the tradition is that the person who sold it, being an invalid churchman, reserved to himself the right to occupy an apartment on the same floor with a window opening into it that he might hear and share in the service. A new church, retaining the old name, St. Paul's, Carubber's Close, has been built on the ancient site with space for future enlargement, and it was my privilege to preach in this church last September, and a very attentive congregation helped to brighten for both myself and Professor Hart, who accompanied me, the interesting historic associations.
Well, two and thirty years pass away and the same Seabury who joined in the worship offered there under such discouraging circumstances has crossed the Tweed and appears in an upper-room in Long–Acre, Aberdeen, to receive a spiritual gift which for reasons of state had been refused him by the bishops of the Church of England.
The old Scottish Church, sometimes called the catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland, differed in no essential particular from the Church of England except that she did not lean upon apolitical Episcopacy—an Episcopacy directed and controlled by parliamentary legislation. She was now in the lowest depths of depression and adversity. Her bishops had become reduced to four and her clergy to forty, and these ministered, it is true without molestation for the most part, to the little remnants of faithful churchmen scattered through the cities and villages of the land. Probably the feeling among outsiders was that the Scottish Episcopal Church would never again have much influence or attract many adherents. Three of the four bishops, however, when duly applied to, took the matter of raising Dr. Seabury to the apostolic office into immediate and solemn consideration and consecrated him without delay. One of them said: "I do not see how we can account to our great Lord and Master, if we neglect such an opportunity of promoting His truth and enlarging the borders of His Church."
And for whom did they consecrate this bishop, but for Connecticut, whose clergy with far-seeing wisdom had taken the earliest steps after the independence of the colonies to secure the Episcopacy— a boon which, though greatly desired and needed in this country, had long been sought for to no purpose? The Church in Connecticut, and indeed in all the American colonies, was at this time in a critical, headless condition—living, yet on the verge of death, and something must be done to save and restore what was so broken and disordered. I suppose there could not have been more than two hundred Episcopal clergymen, if there were as many, in all the colonies at that date, and fourteen of them were in Connecticut ministering to weak and diminished flocks that had more to hope and pray for than in human probability they were likely to realize.
How much did that simple consecration service in the upper-room in Long–Acre, Aberdeen, open up for Churches of the one faith! If the act was not sublime in itself, it was the beginning of a sublime history, and the English Church thereupon awoke to a sense of her duty to the child she had long nursed in the colonies and now left friendless and forlorn, as well as to a more decent recognition of the poor, down-trodden Scottish communion. The offensive laws which had been for some time comparatively inoperative were soon repealed or modified by act of Parliament; and the laity, more than the clergy, felt the advantage of the relief gained, which was fully secured to them by legislative enactments half a century later. The House of Hanover was entirely accepted and prayed for in the Scottish as in the English liturgy. Then the Episcopal Church in Scotland began to rise from the dust, and today she has seven bishops and two hundred and seventy clergymen, with a zealous and hearty laity who are not content to possess spiritual privileges without making them practically useful. We were all struck with the reverence among the Scottish people for the fourth commandment, and with the spectacle of goodly numbers of every religious denomination going to the house of God in company. I am sure they quite surpass the Americans in the regularity of their attendance upon public worship, and a Scotch mist, which oftentimes is about equal to a New England rain, seems not to be considered a sufficient excuse for staying at home when the Lord invites us into His sanctuaries. The external improvement, or rather advancement, of the Scottish Church is seen in various things. Her decayed and barn-like churches have been succeeded by substantial and appropriate, and in many cases beautiful edifices, and altogether she is now in a better condition, with brighter prospects, than at any period in her previous history.
But leaving Scotland, how does the contrast stand with the American Church as placed along with her condition one hundred years ago? Connecticut has her one bishop, but her fourteen clergy have increased to nearly two hundred, and her parishes have fourfolded in numbers, and more than fourfolded in strength, activity, and generosity. When Leaming preached the sermon before the convention of the clergy in Middletown at the welcome given to Seabury on his return from Scotland, the Church was so insignificant in the State that no notice was taken of the occasion in the contemporary prints, and she was so poor that it was a problem how the parishes could decently support their rectors, now that the stipends of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had been withdrawn. Seabury himself, writing to a Scottish bishop three years later, said: "We have now sixteen presbyters in this diocese and four deacons who will soon be in priests' orders. Four more—i. e., twenty-four in the whole—will be as many as the present ability of the Church can support. It does, however, grow, and converts from Presbyterianism are not unfrequent." The growth has been so great that at our last annual convention in this diocese the reported contributions, including parochial expenses and salaries, amounted to upwards of $620,000, and if there had been no omissions to make returns the aggregate would have—been considerably larger. If we give a moment's attention to the whole Church in the country, we find that we have sixty-six living bishops, the list from Seabury down numbering one hundred and thirty-four; and the clergy in all the dioceses and missionary jurisdictions must be well nigh on to four thousand.
It is in no spirit of boasting that we make this comparison. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give the praise, for Thy loving mercy and for Thy truth's sake." Yet it is becoming on this one-hundredth anniversary of the consecration of the first bishop of Connecticut to remember that results under God have flowed from it so vast in extent that no human eye could have forseen them at the time; no human heart could have believed that the Episcopal Church in America, cemented in one body and carrying with united zeal her doctrines and ritual into every part of our great republic, would so soon verify in a broader sense than he used them the words of the ancient seer: "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted." It is becoming also on this anniversary to remember with profound gratitude that we live in an age when happily persecution for the sake of religion has passed away, and when the ever old but ever new commandment of peace and love rises above sectarian strife and projects its influence into whole communities of earnest and believing souls. The responsibilities entailed upon us by our position and our prosperity are to be read in the light of history, and fulfilled in the fear of God and in the faith of "the Church which is the pillar and ground of the truth."
Rev. Mr. Nichols's Address.
The Rev. W. F. Nichols, Rector of Christ Church, Hartford, and chaplain to Bishop Williams in his recent visit abroad, spoke of the first day of the commemoration at Aberdeen:
He said it would be useless to deny that there was an individual pleasure in having this welcome to round out the happiness of getting back to one's home and one's work, as there was an individual pleasure at the honor the diocese had put upon those whom it had sent with the bishop to Aberdeen, and an individual appreciation of the prayers that had been offered on both sides of the Atlantic, in private as well as in public, for preservation on the journeyings by water and by land—an individual appreciation, too, of what it was to have around the family altars and the church altars in Scotland as well as in our own country, voices joining with those on shipboard in the lines:
"O hear us when we cry to Thee For those in peril on the sea";
and so he ventured personally to thank him who had so kindly spoken the words of welcome and through him the diocese.
But he did not forget that this was not a welcome to which he should reply as an individual, but one extended to an embassy returning from a sacred mission. An embassy responding to its welcome would naturally refer to two things: the one, the immediate facts and occurrences of its visit; and the other, the bearings of the visit upon the relations between the two countries concerned, Others would do this fully on more general lines; it had been assigned him to speak more especially of one of the days of the celebration at Aberdeen, and that was Tuesday, October 7th. Taking up the first of the two things which an embassy would naturally report upon, he spoke of the events of the day—the Holy Communion in the six churches of Aberdeen and in private chapels at 8 o'clock; the principal service at St. Andrew's Church at 10 1/2 o'clock, with the sermon by our own Bishop from Isaiah lx. 5; the two hundred clergy (including eighteen bishops from Scotland, America, England, Ireland, and the colonies), the large congregation, the use of the Scotch Office for the Holy Communion, both at the early and the later services; and also, briefly, of St. Andrew's Church and its decorations. In speaking of the photograph of the clergy who were present, which was taken at the close of the service, he pointed out two curious facts about the groups: without any prearrangement, part of an American flag had been taken on the plate; and then the only clerical descendant of Bishop Skinner present—the Rev. J. Skinner Wilson—stood by the side of the only clerical descendant present of Bishop Seabury— the Rev. Dr. W. J. Seabury of New York city.
He gave some description of the banquet held at Music Hall in the afternoon, and of the speeches of those who proposed and those who responded to the toasts, especially the toast to "The Church in America," proposed by Dr. Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, and responded to by our own Bishop. He referred to some letters which those who had read the Aberdeen papers sent home had seen, in which there was discussion of the phrasing of the toast "The Church in Scotland." He said it did not become him to comment on the discussion at such a time, only if they should think of making any change in the phrasing at the next centenary it occurred to him that "Scotland in the Church" might be tried.
After speaking of another morning commemorative service, at which Canon Body of Durham preached an able and appropriate sermon, and giving passing reference to an enthusiastic meeting of the Scotch "Free and Open Church Association" held in the evening as an accompaniment to, rather than as a part of, the day's commemoration, he passed on to speak of the second thing upon which an embassy would naturally report, and that was the bearings of the day's events upon the relations between the two Churches. In this connection he spoke of the sermon and the use of the Scotch Communion-office of the morning and the hospitality of the afternoon, which, like the hospitality of the whole stay in Aberdeen, showed that while the latitude of the place was that of the far north—it was opposite the northern part of Labrador—the latitude of the atmosphere and hearts within was most truly that of the warm and sunny south. In conclusion, he spoke of the unifying impetus given, both social and spiritual, and expressed his belief that while the embassy thanked the diocese for the welcome, all could before God's altar and in that highest sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving with which they were keeping the anniversary of the consecration of the first bishop of our diocese and the American Church, thank Him Who has purchased to Himself an universal Church by the precious Blood of His dear Son, that as He was with the ministers of apostolical succession in their highest office to make the great venture of faith one hundred years ago, so He has ever been with their successors. Let all realize how much of that purchase of the Son of God has already been rendered up to Him since 1784, and how in 1884 we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to extend the Church of Christ more and more, not in Scotland only, not in America only, but in the whole world!
Rev. Mr. Hart's Address.
The Rev. Professor Hart of Trinity College then gave an account of the second day of the commemoration at Aberdeen:
I am to try to give in a few words an account of the many events of the second day of the commemoration at Aberdeen; they shall be as far as possible the very words which were used in the addresses which were read and delivered there. The Holy Communion was celebrated at an early hour in all the churches of the city; and the special service of the day was held in St. Andrew's Church. Before the service began, the Rector of Christ Church, Hartford, on behalf of a considerable number of the clergy and laity of Connecticut, presented to the Bishop of Aberdeen, as representing the Scotch Church, a handsome silver paten and chalice, to be used by himself and his successors. The written address which he read, prefacing it with a few words, recognized the two-fold gift of a century ago—an Episcopate which, in words so often used at the time, was "free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical," and a Eucharistic Office embodying catholic and primitive principles. The Bishop of Aberdeen accepted the gift as a witness of faith in God's promises, of the love of the brethren, and of unity of worship, as well in the past and the future as in the present. He then proceeded to celebrate the Holy Communion according to the English rite, which the Scotch canons now require to be used at all synods and ordinations, two other Scotch bishops assisting him, and the vessels just presented being employed both in the consecration and in the administration.
At the close of the service the six Scotch bishops present—the venerable Primus being still confined to his house by illness—met in Synod, when, after prayer and proclamation, the record of the acts of the Synod of a hundred years ago and the copy of the Concordate which was left in Scotland were laid upon the table. Our bishop then, in accordance with an appointment given him by the House of Bishops of our Church, presented and read an address prepared, on behalf of that house, by the Presiding Bishop and the Bishops of New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Minnesota. In it, after expressing their affectionate regards towards the Scotch bishops for the heroic act of their predecessors, they called attention to the fact that the name of Bishop Seabury now stands at the head of a list of over a hundred and thirty bishops; and that, though our Church is grateful for the direct connection of her Episcopate with that of the Church of England, she is glad to remember that, through Bishop Seabury, the Scotch succession has been transmitted to every bishop consecrated in this land and will be so transmitted to the end of time. They also expressed our Church's gratitude for the shaping of her office of the Holy Communion in such a way as to make it in harmony with the primitive liturgies. And so, offering warm thanks for offices rendered, for sympathy expressed, and for examples set, they gratefully acknowledged the close spiritual and ecclesiastical relationship which binds the two Churches together. The Bishop of St. Andrews—Dr. Charles Wordsworth—read the reply, which was understood to have been framed by the venerable Primus. It alluded to the former sufferings of the Scotch Church, and to the fact that those who consecrated Bishop Seabury rendered themselves liable by that act to felon banishment, but that they did not count their liberty dear to themselves so that they might do something for the sake of Christ. It bore witness to the catholic spirit shown by Dr. Seabury and those whom he represented, when they confessed that by no temporal misfortunes could the grace of Orders be affected, thus showing that the low estate of the Scotch bishops was to them no offense, their poverty no stumbling-block. Then, recalling God's favor as shown to both Churches, the reply used those words which God's people have never forgotten to use in their joy and their prosperity—and in reading them the voice of the venerable Bishop quivered with emotion— "Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam."
The Rector of St. Thomas's Church, New Haven, attended by the other clergy of the delegation, then read an address prepared on behalf of the Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut in Convention assembled, by a committee of which the Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, was chairman. It bore witness to the fidelity and bravery of the Scotch bishops of a century ago in equipping the Church in our diocese for the work it has since done and the witness it has borne; and, repeating the words of the reply which the Connecticut clergy returned to the letter which Bishop Seabury brought from his consecrators, acknowledged our indebtedness to them and our gratitude to God, and promised that we would act with our bishop in maintaining unity of faith, doctrine, discipline, and worship with the Church from which we received our Episcopate. Referring to the depressed state of both Churches a hundred years ago and to their better condition now, we assured them that we still cling to the ancient faith and order, and that we shall never forget our debt of gratitude or fail to recognize and cherish the bond of Christian fellowship sealed in the Concordate even as our fathers have done. The Bishop of St. Andrews read a reply from the Scotch bishops to this address. It spoke of their special pleasure in having Bishop Seabury's successor present at that time, attended by some of the faithful of his diocese. It adopted the words of the saintly Bishop Jolly in saying that Connecticut is to them all a word of peculiar endearment, as the name of its first bishop ever excites their warmest veneration. And, in the language of one of the psalms for this fourteenth day of the month, it thanked God for bringing the Scotch Church to comparative honor and comforting it on every side.
The Bishop of Aberdeen then, in behalf of a large number of contributors, presented to our Bishop the pastoral staff which was borne before him in the procession this morning, calling his attention to the figures upon it, of St. Andrew, the patron-saint of Scotland, St. Ninian, one of the early Celtic evangelists, St. Augustine of Canterbury, as representing the English succession, St. John, to whom the Scotch Communion office (and with it our own) is traced, Bishop Kilgour, the senior consecrator of Bishop Seabury, and Bishop Seabury himself. Our own Bishop replied in words which I will not undertake to report in his presence.
In the afternoon two papers were read: one by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley on "Seabury as a Bishop," giving a sketch of his life and work, testifying to his fidelity to convictions and his successful efforts to promote peace, by which he brought about the unity of the Church in this land; and one by Professor Grub of the University of Aberdeen, tracing the historic connection between the Scotch and the American Churches. The discussion which followed was remarkable for the representative character of those who took part in it—our own Bishop, the Bishop of Gibraltar, Canon Trevor of York, Canon White of New South Wales, and Dr. Aberigh–Mackay of Paris (once of Connecticut).
I can do no more than allude to the crowded meeting at the Music Hall in the evening, which was addressed in noble speeches by the Bishop of Minnesota, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rev. Mr. Danson of Aberdeen, Mr. Speir—a prominent Scotch layman,—and the Bishop of Albany. There was a wonderful unity of sentiment in what was said, and nothing was more noticeable than the way in which the speakers all referred to the impulse given to Church work by the event which we were commemorating. There was a marvellous inspiration in the volume of voice in which the great assembly recited the Nicene Creed; and the dignified and scholarly language of one of the foremost of English prelates, the earnest and practical words of the Scotch clergyman and layman, the touching eloquence of our great missionary bishop, and the impassioned and bold utterances of the other bishop, who is honored abroad for his father's sake as well as for his own, all sustained and heightened the enthusiasm which had been kindled by the services of these days and the memories and hopes which they had awakened.
Bishop Williams's Address.
At the close of these addresses Bishop Williams said:
You have now heard, my dear brethren, the report of the pilgrims whom you sent on a pilgrimage of love to that old city where our succession begins. Visible memorials of all that came together in Aberdeen in the first week of last month are before you or in your thoughts. There is the Mitre which tells you of the transmitted Episcopate; there hangs the Concordate which speaks to you of our Communion-office. Across the water they have received the holy Sacrament of the Body and the Blood from the Chalice and Paten which you sent, and standing here you see this Pastoral Staff— gifts the interchange of which attests that the pledges and the gifts of that elder day are not forgotten, but live and will live while time shall last. The dear old Church of Scotland! How it has lived through trials deep and wearing and in the face of "dungeon, fire, and sword!"
They have kept this day which we are keeping now and here, in Aberdeen; they have kept it in London, in St. Paul's Cathedral, where the Primate of all England was the preacher. So has the triple, bond been—I will not say knit again, but—recognized anew. So be it forever! I will only add what I said in Aberdeen to the blessed Church of Scotland, having now in mind all the national Churches of the English succession, as they are all one in Christ: "Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will wish thee prosperity. Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good."
The Bishop then proceeded with the Communion-service, announcing that the offerings would be for the benefit of St. Thomas's Church, Hartford, a memorial to Bishop Brownell, of whom he said that the longer he lived the more he was impressed with the value to the diocese of the long and faithful episcopate of his revered predecessor. Bishop Williams was assisted in the service by the Bishop of Massachusetts. In consecrating the elements a paten and chalice were used which once belonged to Bishop Seabury and are now the property of the Berkeley Divinity School; and for the administration of the elements two patens were used which were left by Bishop Seabury to St. James's Church, New London. The Rev. Dr. Giesy of Norwich, and the Rev. Messrs. McCook, Buckingham, and Nichols assisted in the administration, a large number of clergy and laity receiving the Holy Sacrament. Bishop Williams gave the benediction, holding his pastoral staff. At the close of the service the clergy left the church, singing the old version of the first part of the ninetieth psalm, beginning "O God, our help in ages past."
After the service the clergy were entertained by the Churchwomen of Hartford in the parish-rooms of Christ Church.
The following is a nearly complete list of the clergymen who were present:
From Connecticut: The Rt. Rev. the Bishop; The Rev. Messrs. C. G. Adams, Southport; H. A. Adams, Wethersfield; W. G. Andrews, Guilford; E. W. Babcock, New Haven; J. H. Barbour, Hartford; E. E. Beardsley, D.D., LL.D., New Haven; A. E. Beeman, Unionville; J. H. Betts, South Glastonbury; Prof. John Binney, Middletown; L. P. Bissell, Litchfield; C. W. Boylston, Greeneville; J. W. Bradin, Hartford; F. W. Brathwaite, Stamford; George Buck, North Haven; W. B. Buckingham, New London; W. H. Bulkley, Tashua; C. C. Camp, New Haven; H. S. Clapp, Norwalk; C. W. Colton, Pine Meadow; Prof. H. Ferguson, Hartford; J. H. Fitzgerald, Milford; T. B. Fogg, Brooklyn; Louis French, Darien; E. C. Gardiner, Naugatuck; Prof. F. Gardiner, D.D., Middletown; J. F. George, Thompsonville; J. H. George, Salisbury; Samuel Giesy, D.D., Norwich; Alfred Goldsborough, Yantic; J. B. Goodrich, Windsor; Francis Goodwin, Hartford; Prof. Samuel Hart, Hartford; J. E. Heald, Tariffville; S. J. Horton, D.D., Cheshire; J. T. Huntington, Hartford; J. W. Hyde, West Hartford; Prof. W. A. Johnson, Middletown; W. E. Johnson, Bristol; J. R. Lambert, Glastonbury; W. H. Larom, Stafford Springs; E. S. Lines, New Haven; T. D. Martin, Meriden; J. J. McCook, Hartford; W. H. Moreland, Hartford; W. F. Nichols, Hartford; J. L. Parks, Middletown; W. L. Peck, Windsor Locks; C. I. Potter, Stratford; A. T. Randall, Meriden; J. B. Robinson, Hazardville; J. H. Rogers, New Britain; J. L. Scott, Wallingford; S. O. Seymour, Hartford; Prest. G. W. Smith, D.D., Hartford; James Stoddard, Watertown; Jacob Streibert, West Haven; Henry Tarrant, Huntington; William Tatlock, D.D., Stamford; J. A. Ticknor, Collinsville; T. O. Tongue, Bloomfield; John Townsend, Middletown; R. H. Tuttle, Windsor; W. E. Vibbert, D.D., Fair Haven; Millidge Walker, East Bridgeport; J. H. Watson, Hartford; P. H. Whaley, Hartford; Elisha Whittlesey, Hartford; J. E. Wildman, Wallingford; C. E. Woodcock, New Haven.
From other dioceses: The Rt. Rev. Bishop Niles, New Hampshire; the Rt. Rev. Bishop Paddock, Massachusetts; the Rev. Messrs. G. F. Flichtner, Thomas Gallaudet, D.D., Joshua Kimber, G. S. Mallory, D.D., New York City; W. M. Chapin, Barrington, R. I.; F. B. Chetwood, Elizabeth, N. J.; G. B. Cooke, Petersburg, Va.; E. M. Gushee, Cambridge, Mass.; W. A, Holbrooke, L. I.; R. M. Kirby, Potsdam, N. Y.
Exhibition of Seabury Relics, Etc.
In one of the parish rooms of Christ Church was a large exhibit of articles of interest in connection with the centenary commemoration of the consecration of Bishop Seabury. They were contributed partly from the archives of the diocese and the library of Trinity College, and partly from the private collections of Bishop Williams, the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, the Rev. Professor Hart, C. J. Hoadly, Esq., Jared Starr, Esq., Mrs. Dr. Starr, and others. Among those of especial interest were Bishop Seabury's mitre, of black satin with purple strings, having the Cross in a glory on the front, and the crown of thorns on the back, embroidered in gold; the original of the letter on vellum from the Scotch bishops who consecrated Bishop Seabury to the clergy of Connecticut, testifying to the fact of the consecration and commending him to them; fac-similes of his Letters of Orders and of Consecration and of the Concordate between him and his consecrators; portraits of Bishop John Skinner, of Bishop Jolly who held the book, of Bishop Seabury himself, and of one of his electors, Dr. Mansfield; the manuscript records of ordinations by Bishops Seabury and Jarvis; the manuscript records of the convocation of the clergy of Connecticut, open at the vote accepting the Prayer–Book of 1789; a manuscript fac-simile of a volume of Bishop Seabury's journal; the sermon preached by Bishop Skinner at the consecration; a large collection of Bishop Seabury's works, including one of his loyalist pamphlets which he wrote at the breaking out of the Revolution under the name of "A. W. Farmer," his charges, occasional sermons, volumes of discourses, etc.; one of his manuscript sermons and two or three letters, copies of his Communion-office, and a copy (in his own writing) of his Service for the Burial of Infants; a copy of his edition of the Psalter, etc.; his surplice and two patens left by him to St. James's Church, New London; his official seal, still used by his successor; volumes of The Courant and of The Gentleman's Magazine with notices of Bishop Seabury; sermons relating to later bishops of Connecticut; the Scotch Prayer–Book of 1637 (known as Laud's) and its reprint of 1712; Scotch Communion-offices of 1717, 1774, and later dates; the proposed American Prayer–Book of 1785 (both American and English editions), and the first edition of the adopted Prayer–Book of 1789; a Hebrew Psalter used by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson in conferring degrees at King's College, New York; a bit of the robe in which Bishop White was consecrated; a manuscript letter of Bishop Jolly's; two programmes of Yale College Commencements, in one of which (before 1784) the ministers of the Congregational churches are called pastores, while in the other (of 1785) they are called episcopi; photographs of the clergy present at the late commemoration in Aberdeen, and programmes, etc., relating to it; pictures of old churches in Edinburgh and Aberdeen; and other matters of interest. Bishop Williams's pastoral staff was also exhibited. The exhibit was under the care of the Registrar of the Diocese, who was kindly assisted by the Rev. J. H. Barbour, Librarian of Trinity College.
of the Return of
Bishop Seabury. 1885
the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury, D.D.
First Bishop of Connecticut,
Held His First Ordination at Middletown,
August 3, 1785.
On the ninth day of June, 1885, the Diocesan Convention met in Hartford. Morning Prayer was read in Christ Church at 9 o'clock by the Rev. W. E. Vibbert, D.D., Rector of St. James's Church, Fair Haven, and the Rev. J. E. Heald, Rector of Trinity Church, Tariffville. The Holy Communion was celebrated in St. John's Church, the service beginning at 10–1/2 o'clock after the singing of the 138th Hymn. The Bishop was assisted in the service by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley of New Haven, the Rev. Dr. Seabury of New York, the Rev. Dr. Vibbert of Fair Haven, and the Rev. J. W. Bradin, Rector of the Parish. The sermon was preached by Bishop Williams, as follows:
the Wise Ruler.
Psalm lxxviii. 72.
"So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands."
The seventy-eighth psalm contains a rapid review of the history of the chosen people from the day when God led them out of Egypt "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm," down to the time of David. The record of provocation and transgression on the side of Israel, and of mingled mercy and judgment on the side of Jehovah, ends with the reign of the shepherd-king. He who watched his flock as, centuries after, other shepherds watched theirs, on the hill-sides of Bethlehem; he who had risked his own life that he might deliver his charge "out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear," was now called "from among the sheep-folds" to the throne of Israel and Judah. He who had been "faithful over a few things" was made "ruler over many things" in a kingdom which was itself but a type of a mightier Kingdom wherein One who was not only the Son of David but the Son of God should reign forever and ever.
In describing the character of David as a ruler, which is done in the text of this discourse, it will be observed that the same qualities are emphasized that marked his shepherd-life. What he was in the narrower field, that he was also in the wider. What he had been in Bethlehem, that he continued to be in Jerusalem. What he had done for his flock, that he did for his people. "He fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." Integrity in purpose and discretion in action are the two qualities here emphasized. The former without the latter makes the impracticable blunderer; the latter without the former makes the time-serving schemer; the two together make the wise ruler of men. Unless I greatly err, we shall see these two qualities strikingly illustrated in the story of that Episcopate of which I am now to speak to you.
We must still linger for a while with the newly consecrated bishop in that city on the German ocean where we last beheld him. For his consecration is not the only thing which occurred there that was to have an abiding influence on the future of our national Church. On the day following the consecration (Nov. 15th, 1784), the Scottish bishops present and their American brother united in signing the important document known as the "Concordate." While this is not the place to speak of it at length, some of its positions and agreements ought not, in view of opinions then prevalent in Great Britain and of events soon to occur in this country, to pass unnoticed.
First of all, the document opens with a full and clear statement of the necessity, "before all things," of holding the "One Faith." As the Lord declared that on Himself, as confessed by His apostle, He would build His Church; as St. Paul, when he has spoken of "one Lord," speaks next of "one faith," so the framers of the "Concordate"—invoking "the blessing of the great and glorious Head of the Church"—declare their "earnest and united desire to maintain the analogy of the faith once delivered to the saints, and happily preserved in the Church of Christ."
This all-important and fundamental truth having been asserted, the document proceeds to declare that the Church of Christ is "a spiritual society," the powers and authority of which come from God and not from man; and which, as they are not given and cannot be given by any civil government, so neither can any civil government take away.
Does this statement seem a truism to us? Then let us remember that it was no truism in the days when it was made. "The Church as by law established" was then a phrase on everybody's lips in Great Britain; and, strangely enough, it meant, and still means, one thing in England and a very different thing in Scotland. Nor was that all;—we may well fear that to many minds the weightiest and most important part of the phrase, lay in the words "by law established" rather than in the preceding words "the Church"; so that, in many instances, a mere accident in the Church's history displaced the remembrance of its divine constitution, and led on to the folly of supposing that the act of the State, human law, could create and constitute a Church! To assert the truth against so patent a delusion was timely, and indeed needful, a century ago. Would that it were needful nowhere now!
Following this declaration was the agreement that no "communion in sacred offices" should be held with clergy, of whatever ordination, who were officiating in Scotland without recognizing, or being recognized by, the national Episcopate.
Finally, passing from doctrine and organization to worship, the Scottish bishops, after speaking of the desirableness of "as near a conformity in worship and discipline between the two Churches as is consistent with the different circumstances and customs of nations," go on to say that, inasmuch as "the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or the administration of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, is the principal bond of union among Christians, as well as the most solemn act of worship in the Christian Church,... though they are far from prescribing to their brethren in this matter, they cannot help ardently wishing that Bishop Seabury would endeavor all he can, consistently with peace and prudence, to make the celebration of this venerable Mystery conformable to the most primitive doctrine and practice." So far the Scottish bishops. On his part, the newly consecrated bishop agreed "to take a serious view of the Communion-office recommended by his brethren, and, if found agreeable to the genuine standards of antiquity, to give his sanction to it, and by gentle methods of argument and persuasion to endeavor, as they have done, to introduce it by degrees into practice, without the compulsion of authority on the one side or the prejudice of former custom on the other."
These are all weighty, wise, and noble words. I have quoted them at some length for two reasons. In the first place, they embody just those things which come to the front in St. Luke's description of the Apostolic Church in the full glow of its Pentecostal life: "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers." The more carefully the document and the inspired statement are compared, the more clearly is this remarkable agreement seen. If this is the result of a conscious reference to the words of St. Luke, it shows how faithfully the venerable framers of the Concordate went back to the very sources of the Church's organic life. If the reference is unconscious, it shows, even more strikingly, how thoroughly they were imbued with the spirit of the apostolic age.
In the second place, unless I have greatly misread history, our first bishop, both in his work in this diocese and also in the part he took in bringing about for our whole Church the happy settlement of 1789, followed on the line of action indicated in the Concordate, patiently and unswervingly; and in following it, he was guided by that integrity in purpose and discretion in action which characterize the wise and efficient ruler.
Had Bishop Seabury carried out his original purpose, he would have sailed for his native land "in the ship Triumph, commanded by Captain Stout." He was, however, detained in London, and from that city he addressed what has been called "his first pastoral letter" to the representatives of the clergy of Connecticut. His detention was largely, probably not wholly, due to the necessity which came upon him of making, if possible, some provision for the future maintenance of the clergy. What little property he had acquired had all been expended in his two years' absence from his family and his residence in England; and the question whether or not the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel would or could continue the stipends hitherto appropriated to the clergy in Connecticut was a very pressing one. His admirable letter to the secretary of the society—a letter which thoroughly reveals the man—is too long to be given here, while it cannot be adequately represented by any quotations. He does not attempt to conceal the fact that the continuance of his own stipend would be a great relief to his anxieties, but he frankly adds that if it is "not continued" he "can have no right to complain." And then putting himself, as he always did, entirely to one side, and saying, what seems to have been ever in his mind, that "the fate of individuals is of inferior moment when compared with that of the whole Church," he draws attention to the calamity it will be "if proper steps be not taken to secure to the Church various property of lands, etc., in the different States (now indeed of small value, but gradually increasing), to which the society alone has a legal claim."
Under the terms of their charter, the society could employ missionaries only in "the plantations, colonies, and factories belonging to the kingdom of Great Britain"; while they seem not to have been ready to consider the question touching the lands. The timidity or the lack of appreciation of the purely spiritual and ecclesiastical character of the Episcopate as such, which then prevailed, is painfully noticeable in the fact that, in the letter which communicated the decision of the society, the secretary addressed the bishop as he would have done before his consecration— "the Rev. Dr. Seabury."
On other trials and difficulties which he met in London I do not care to dwell. They all grew out of political jealousies, confused notions concerning connections of Church and State, or fears, which proved to be groundless, that the consecration sermon, to say nothing of the consecration itself, might somehow be disadvantageous to the Scottish Episcopate. One charge alleged is to us in this day simply amusing; namely, that the bishop had been "precipitate" in his application to Scotland. A precipitancy which patiently waits and labors for more than thirteen months to obtain the Episcopate in England, and only when all hope of so obtaining it is at an end applies for it in Scotland, is, to say the least, a very deliberate sort of precipitancy. And now we may pass from the old world to the new.
"Bishop Seabury landed at Newport, R. I."—where Berkeley had landed more than half a century before—"after a voyage of three months,[ This period, however, includes some stay in Nova Scotia.] on Monday, June 20th, 1785, and the next Sunday he preached in Trinity Church the first sermon of an American bishop in this country." [ The text was Heb. xii. 1, 2. The sermon was afterwards published in the Bishop's Discourses on Several Subjects, vol. ii., serm. xvi., "The Christian Race." ] On the 29th he reached New London, which from that time was to be his home. While he was still at sea a Boston newspaper, which had received the intelligence of his consecration, exclaimed: "Two wonders of the world, a Stamp Act in Boston and a Bishop in Connecticut!" [ Boston Gazette, May 30, 1785. ]
Two things instantly demanded the most careful attention and most earnest efforts of the one American bishop: the condition and needs of his own diocese, and the all-important question as to the future of the scattered congregations of what had been the Church of England in the thirteen colonies. The stoutest heart might well quail before the difficulties that rose up before him on every side. But Seabury's principle of action was ever found in the twofold rule always to "do the next thing," and when all cannot be done that one fain would do, then to do the best one can. And that twofold rule will enable any man who acts under it, in the fear and strength of God, to overcome difficulties by patient perseverance or to accept disappointments in unrepining submission. Faith and patience may not make their voice heard much in the streets, but they accomplish results at last.
Did he look at his own diocese? There he saw many obstacles and few, very few, encouragements. Five, at least, of the small number of the clergy and considerable numbers of the laity had "emigrated, or were soon to emigrate, to Nova Scotia and the adjoining territory." Aside, then, from those whom he might ordain, not more than eleven clergymen, and with them not more than two hundred and eighty families, composed the diocese. It is due to this ancient State, and it should ever be remembered to her praise, that the loyalists within her borders suffered no political oppression after the war of the Revolution had ended. Nor can we forget that she sent as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1784, and afterwards, in 1787, to the convention which framed our federal constitution, one who in 1779 had been, however unreasonably, arrested for treason to the United Colonies, William Samuel Johnson. Still it is none the less true, and it can occasion little wonder, that loyalists, and therefore Churchmen, "were not in good repute with the public authorities, and scorn was likely to attend many of them for years to come."
To these diminished numbers of clergy and people must be added the loss of the stipends hitherto allowed by the Society in England, and the poverty which made it next to impossible to replace them. Add, moreover, to these things the doubts and uncertainties, the break-up of old associations and habitudes, the manifold perplexities of which we now know nothing, and which we could not enumerate if we did know them, and what a troubled scene was that on which our first bishop, who stood alone in his order in these United States, cast an anxious eye! "The children were come to the birth," but would there be "strength to bring them forth"?
One discouragement—and that would have been greater than all the others—Seabury was not called to meet. He did not come to a disunited and divided body. His diocese stood together as a unit. They stood where they did because of convictions, than which none could be stronger or more abiding. When they said: "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," they uttered no unreal words, no words that habits of careless utterance had made unmeaning. They meant just what they said. And that strong and united conviction gave hope and comfort for the future. Clouds and darkness were about them. But on those clouds there was seen the bow of promise, while beyond them stood—what they might obscure but could not remove— the "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
On Wednesday, the third day of August, the bishop met his clergy at Middletown, received their address of congratulation and recognition, and made his reply to it. On this day was also held the first ordination administered by a bishop within the limits of the United States. On the day following, the Rev. Samuel Parker, who came as the appointed representative of the clergy in Massachusetts, [ The Rev. Dr. Moore of New York was also present, but not, apparently, in any representative capacity.] made a communication which, we are told, "was received with the warmest expressions of welcome," setting forth his instructions "to collect the sentiments of the Connecticut clergy in respect of Dr. Seabury's episcopal consecration and the regulation of his episcopal jurisdiction," and intimating the intention of those who sent him to connect themselves with their brethren here by coming under the charge of their bishop.
On this day, also, Bishop Seabury delivered his first charge. In it, after rehearsing with earnest expressions of gratitude to the bishops of Scotland the steps which he had taken to secure the Episcopate, and modestly referring to his own new position, declaring that next to the grace of God he relies, in carrying on the work committed to him, on the "advice and assistance" of his brethren, he dwells on three important topics. First, he urges on himself and them the duty of taking "heed unto the doctrine" as well as to themselves, saying, in words which are not unneeded how: "The first instance of fidelity is, that the pure doctrines of the Gospel be fairly, earnestly, and affectionately proposed, explained, and inculcated, and that we suffer nothing else to usurp their place and become the subject of our preaching." Next, he presses carefulness in recommending persons for ordination, enlarging not so much on "literary accomplishments, though these are not to be neglected, as aptitude for the work of the ministry." And, lastly, for obvious reasons, he treats, at length, "of the old and sacred rite, handed down to us from the apostolic age by the primitive Church—the laying-on of hands." The document shows, so far as a document can, that its writer possessed in himself the qualifications which he regarded as necessary "to make a useful clergyman—good temper, prudence, diligence, capacity, and aptitude to teach."
On the third day of its session, the convocation appointed a "committee to consider of and make with the bishop some alterations in the Liturgy needful for the present use of the Church." [ Mr. Parker of Massachusetts was appointed on this committee.] The matter was entered on with caution, and the only changes then and there ordered were those which changed political relations made necessary in the State prayers and services. These were immediately set forth by the bishop in an "injunction," by which he "authorized and required" the clergy to follow them. Some other changes were proposed and reserved for future consideration; but as nothing seems to have been done about them in this diocese, they need no special mention.
The bishop, however, was not unmindful of his promise given in the Concordate, and in the year following (1786) published his adaptation of the Scottish Communion-office. This he did not, as in the case of the alterations agreed to in convocation, "enjoin" or "require." He simply "recommended it to the Episcopal congregations in Connecticut."
I am quite conscious that this is a very brief summary, a very meagre outline, of acts and events each one of which is most important and suggestive. It is all, however, that time and space allow, and it brings into strong relief some things which ought not to be forgotten.
The reverent care and caution with which the offices of sacred worship are approached are apparent. These are no signs of a hesitancy which is doubtful of its position. They indicate rather the strength of assurance which hesitates to touch the gift entrusted to it lest touching may end in tampering. In the same year in which these careful steps were taken, another convention, in six days, revised the entire Book of Common Prayer, with all its Offices and with the "Articles of Religion"; the result being a book which underwent amendments in four States, had its ratification postponed in another, was rejected in still another, and was not considered at all in five. The contrast in results is quite as striking as that in spirit and methods of action.
We also see, unless I greatly err, in his action in regard to the changes in the State prayers and his own office for the Holy Communion, Bishop Seabury's ideal of the position of a bishop in the Church of God. And this view is confirmed by the entire course of his Episcopate. What was established by competent authority, he "required." What was not so established, however much his own heart might be set upon it, he "recommended." When the first great Bishop of New Zealand met his first synod, he uttered these noble words: "I believe the monarchical idea of the Episcopate to be as foreign to the true mind of the Church as it is adverse to the Gospel doctrine of humility. I would rather resign my office than be reduced to act as a single isolated being. It remains, then, to define by some general principle the terms of our co-operation. They are simply these: that neither will I act without you, nor can you act without me." Of course, a bishop who takes this line must lay his account with the charge that he seeks to avoid responsibility. But he may comfort himself with the recollection that had he taken the other line, the same persons who lament his timidity would be sure to charge him with arrogant assumption. If Seabury did not utter Selwyn's very words, he acted them. Nor is it more or less than the very truth to say that in all his Episcopate he exemplified the counsel of the Son of Sirach: "If thou be made the master, lift not thyself up, but be among them as one of the rest" [Ecclus. xxii. I.]
The story of that Episcopate cannot be told here. It has been written in a faithful record accessible to all, and with which most of us must be familiar. For almost twelve years the parish priest in New London did his pastor's work, the humble-minded bishop went, in homely ways, [In a book published some years ago, it was said that all clergymen in Connecticut travelled, at the period spoken of, on horseback, "except, perhaps, Bishop Seabury, who rode in a coach," He may have "ridden" in a stage-coach, or in a coach belonging to some wealthy layman; but the only vehicle which he ever possessed was a "one-horse chaise."] in and out among his people, feeding the flock "according to the integrity of his heart, and guiding them by the skilfulness of his hands." And when God took him to his rest, the mourning of his diocese was like the "mourning in the floor of Atad," and the poor and the suffering, the widow and the fatherless followed him to his grave, and wrote his epitaph in their tears.
The power and value of an Episcopate like his cannot be measured by immediate results—though such results were not lacking—which are visible along its progress and at its close. Not only was it not his peacefully to build on undisturbed foundations; it was not even his to lay in peace original foundations. His was the harder, the more hopeless task, to re-lay foundations which had been torn up and scattered, and then begin to build upon them. And under what discouragements was the task to be undertaken and prosecuted: with diminished and diminishing numbers of fellow-workers; with narrow resources and restricted means; amid manifold and unexpected difficulties; amid jealousies that not infrequently deepened into scornful enmity! How often must he have cried from the depths of his heart: "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?" Only a brave and genuine man, a man of prayer and faith and love, could have borne up under such wearying burdens. But he was all that, and even more than that. And, therefore, to us who look back upon our history as a diocese from the close of one century, to those who shall look back upon it from the close of another, nay, in all time, its central figure must be that massive one with which the limner's skill has made us all familiar, as it stands facing wind and storm, supported by the Word of God, which, in its turn, rests on the everlasting rock; the figure of him by whom the God of our fathers said to our "Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." [Isaiah xliv]
But it is time to turn to the second of the two things of which mention was just now made; the future, namely, of the scattered fragments of what had been the Church of England in the thirteen colonies. To unite and consolidate these into one national Church was the difficult problem to be solved; a problem, we may say with reverent thankfulness, that never could have been solved had there not come to the solution a stronger than any human strength, and a wiser than any human wisdom. To bring about this blessed consummation, the first two bishops consecrated for America labored, if not always with accordant views, yet ever with united hearts. The time has long gone by. and it ought never to have been, when to give his due meed of praise to Bishop Seabury, and to recognize his share in the great work accomplished, could be thought in any way to carry with it disparagement to the eminent services of Bishop White. Nothing can ever change or obscure his prominence in the history of this Church. Surviving as he did the darkest days of her trial and depression, living to see her enter on wider lines and vaster fields of action, and enter on them with a deepened spiritual life, he went to his rest in an old age that was brightened with the reverent love of "all the churches," and from which there was shed upon those churches the gracious light of a gentleness, a meekness, and a charity, the memories of which will never pass away. He is, he always must be, our St. John.
The two great obstacles in the minds of Bishop Seabury and his clergy—and I think I may add the clergy of New England generally— to the union and consolidation so earnestly desired, were found in certain omissions in what was known as "The Proposed Book," adopted at a convention composed of deputies from seven States in 1785, [ The seven States represented were: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. No deputies were present from New England.] and published in 1786; and in certain provisions of an "Ecclesiastical Constitution" first agreed to in the same convention of 1785, and afterwards altered in some particulars in 1786.
The insurmountable difficulties which arose out of the Proposed Book were the entire omission of the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed, and the equally entire omission of the article, "He descended into hell," in the Apostles' Creed. I do not at all mean to say that these omissions constituted the only objections in the minds of Bishop Seabury and those who acted with him. But these were fatal. As long as these omissions remained, it was useless to consider any other matters. Our fathers could never have united with any body which deliberately rejected the Catholic Faith. For, as has been well said, "a Church is not Catholic merely from having an Apostolic ministry; the Catholic Faith is as essential as Catholic Institutions." Nay, I think we may say even more than that; namely, that to put the ministry first and the faith next is to reverse the order established by the Lord. For surely, of those to whom was given the commission to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," it can never be said that the Name, which is the original and the summary of every Catholic Creed, was given for and because of them, but rather it must be said that they were instituted for and because of it. To reverse this order is to make the messenger of more importance than the message; is to make the vase that holds the perfume of more importance than the perfume held.
Happily the difficulty was not long in its continuance. In the course of the negotiations for the Episcopate, which began in October, 1785, it became very evident that the bishops of England were not inclined to accede to the application for it so long as the omission and mutilation just mentioned were adhered to. Accordingly, on the 11th of October, 1786, in a convention held at Wilmington, Delaware, the omitted clause was restored in the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene Creed was reinstated in its proper place.
The other obstacle, however, remained untouched; and, in fact, it was twofold. In the Constitution agreed upon by the representatives from seven States in 1785, there was not only no provision for a House of Bishops, but it was not even provided that the one House should be presided over by a bishop, if one of that order were present. The Episcopate was utterly ignored. Besides this extraordinary omission, every clergyman, of whatever order, was made amenable to the convention of the diocese to which he belonged in regard to "suspension or removal from office," while, for all that appeared, the sentence of suspension or deposition must have been pronounced by the convention itself. In a Church regulated by rules and ordinances like these, there might be a nominal Episcopate, but it would be only nominal. The Ordinal might be retained, but it would cease to have any meaning. The Primitive Church might be spoken of, but every trace of primitive order and administration would have disappeared.
It has often been said that Bishop Seabury objected to any admission of the laity to the councils of the Church. But this is one of the cases in which, unless we distinguish things that differ, we shall certainly go far astray. Legislation is one thing; the judicial exercise of discipline in the Church is quite another thing. Now, I do not find that Bishop Seabury was set against recognizing the right of the laity to a share in the legislation of the Church, on the principle laid down by Hooker, that laws which are to bind all orders should have the consent of all orders. On the contrary, he admitted the principle when he set his name to the Constitution of 1789 which provided for this very thing; a provision the value of which has been fully demonstrated by the first century of our history as a national Church.
Touching his views concerning the judicial exercise of discipline, I need only cite his own words: "I cannot conceive that the laity can with any propriety be admitted to sit in judgment on bishops and presbyters, especially when deposition may be the event; because they cannot take away a character which they cannot confer. It is incongruous with every idea of episcopal government. That authority which confers power can, for proper reasons, take it away. But where there is no authority to confer power, there can be none to disannul it. Wherever, therefore, the power of ordination is lodged, the power of deprivation is lodged also." Concerning the absolute irrecognition of the Episcopate, as entitled to any share in either legislation or discipline, by the Constitution of 1785, I need only cite, again, the bishop's words: "In so essential a matter as Church government is, no alterations should be made that affect its foundation. If a man be called a bishop who has not the episcopal powers of government, he is called by a wrong name, even though he should have the power of ordination and confirmation."
The position assumed by our first bishop in regard to both these matters was justified and sustained by the action of this Church in 1789, when the Constitution, as amended, was made to provide for a House of Bishops, "with power to originate and propose acts," and also for the administration of discipline by the Episcopate alone. This was the Constitution to which—"on a dingy half sheet of paper"—Bishop Seabury and Drs. Jarvis and Hubbard, as representatives from Connecticut, and Dr. Parker, as deputy from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, set their hands in October, 1789, and by their act effected the consolidation of our Church.
I will not say that a victory was thus gained, for it was not victory that was sought. But we may say that something far better than a victory was attained, in that a great principle was accepted. Nor has the lapse of time raised any doubt as to the rightfulness and wisdom of the acceptance. [ It is worth while to state the steps by which final action was reached:
1. The Constitution adopted in 1785 took no account of the Episcopate as a possible component part of the General Convention. In 1786 provision was made that "a bishop should always preside in General Convention, if any of the episcopal order were present." In August, 1789, it was agreed, with certain limitations and restrictions, that "the bishops of this Church, when there shall be three or more, shall, whenever a General Convention shall be held, form a House of Revision; and when any proposed act shall have passed in the General Convention, the same shall be transmitted to the House of Revision for their concurrence." Obviously the House of Revision is not here regarded as a component part of the General Convention. Finally, in October, 1789, it was ordered that "the bishops of this Church, when there shall be three or more, shall, whenever General Conventions are held, form a separate house, with a right to originate and propose acts for the concurrence of the House of Deputies, composed of clergy and laity." Certain restrictions, which have since been modified, were added. But clearly the great principle contended for by Bishop Seabury and those who acted with him is here admitted.
2. As to the other point insisted on: In 1785, article viii. of the Constitution read: "Every clergyman, whether bishop or presbyter or deacon, shall be amenable to the authority of the convention in the State to which he belongs, so far as relates to suspension or removal from office; and the convention in each State shall institute rules for their conduct, and an equitable mode of trial." Here there is not even an allusion to the Episcopate, and each convention is recognized as absolutely supreme. In June, 1786, the following sentence was added to article viii. of 1785: "And at every trial of a bishop there shall be one or more of the episcopal order present, and none but a bishop shall pronounce sentence of deposition or degradation from the ministry on any clergyman, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon." Here is an advance in the right direction. In August, 1789, the first sentence of the foregoing article disappears, and in its place we read: "In every State the mode of trying clergymen shall be instituted by the convention of the Church therein." The last sentence of the article remains unchanged, and the second principle contended for is accepted.]
While the years between 1785 and 1789, with their discussions, doubts, and difficulties, were wearing away, the general acceptance of the great principles on which I have been dwelling seemed always uncertain, and sometimes hopeless. Steps were accordingly taken to provide for a possible emergency of rejection—an emergency which cannot be contemplated without a shudder. It was decided in the convocation which met at Wallingford in February, 1787, to send, should it become necessary, a "presbyter to Scotland for consecration, as coadjutor to Dr. Seabury." The purpose no doubt was, should such necessity arise, to secure the number of bishops canonically requisite to continue the succession. It was wise to provide for all contingencies; but it was equally wise, and as much a matter of duty, to take no actual steps till contingencies arose, and, meantime, to make all possible endeavors to avert them. The prudent counsels of the Scottish bishops, and the conciliatory and patient action of Bishop White on the one side and Bishop Seabury on the other, did avert the contingency; and by the year 1789 all danger of the separation, so much feared and deprecated, had passed away. It was of God's good providence that, in the General Convention of that most memorable year, 1789, there was found in the House of Bishops no root of bitterness, no disturbing element growing out of political prejudice or personal animosity. When, on the fifth day of October, the House was, for the first time, constituted, Bishops Seabury and White composed its membership.
The great subject which occupied the attention of the bishops, as well as that of the House of Deputies, was the Book of Common Prayer. This is neither the time nor the place to speak at length of what was then accomplished. But I must not omit to state, even at the risk of saying what is familiar to us all, that in that book, as we then received and still have it, the Order of the Holy Communion stands—and, please God, will ever stand—the great memorial of Seabury's share in framing our sacred offices, the memorial, also, of the faithfulness with which, if not in the very letter, yet substantially and in spirit, he redeemed the pledge which he had given in the Concordate. Let me also add Bishop White's own words touching the intercourse—for in a house consisting of two members, one can hardly speak of debates—of himself and his brother of Connecticut. He says: "To this day are there recollected with satisfaction the hours which were spent with Bishop Seabury on the important subjects which came before them, and especially the Christian temper which he manifested all along." For the results of that memorable Convention, in which so much was gained—may we not say so little lost?—we are mainly indebted, under the overruling wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to the stedfast gentleness of Bishop White and the gentle stedfastness of Bishop Seabury.
And here, since mention has been already made of Seabury's work in his own diocese, and of his departure, when "he was not found" because God had taken him, this historical review may end. Does it not tell what he was? Does it not clearly reveal his character? If it does not, then no words of mine can do it. Strong in faith, patient in hope, humble and self-sacrificing in charity, he stands out as a man "that had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do"; as a builder able to "revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which were burned"; as a wise ruler who "fed" those over whom the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer, "according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." Therefore for him and for his work, we praise and magnify God's holy Name!
I cannot close without some mention of two scenes, in both of which it was my privilege to share, More than fifty years had passed since our first bishop was borne to his grave. In the town in which, during his entire Episcopate, he had fulfilled the lowlier duties of a parish priest, a stately church had replaced the humble temple in which he ministered, and it was felt in all our borders that under its altar his honored remains should find their final resting-place. Reverently gathered, they were carried by the clergy through crowded streets, and laid down where we trust they may abide till the judgment of the great day. ["Ut in loco quietis ultimo usque ad magni diei judicium," are the words of the epitaph on the altar-tomb in St. James's Church, New London.] As we stood around his sepulchre there rose from every lip the words of the symbol of Nicaea, for which he had striven so faithfully, and which he had urged his clergy as faithfully to teach, saying, in words which now seem prophetic, that he foresaw the day when in New England there would come a widespread lapse from the ancient faith. That was a scene which none who shared in it can forget.
A hundred years had gone. In that city where he sought his consecration to the Episcopate the little upper room had disappeared, and six churches had arisen. In one of these, the successor of the humble "oratory in the house of Bishop Skinner," there are gathered seventeen bishops and near two hundred clergy, together with a vast congregation of the faithful. What do they represent? Not what those who came together a century before had represented; not one Church brought almost to the verge of extinction, and another threatened with even deeper ruin. No! but they represent a Church that has emerged from the darkness that shrouded it in Scotland; a Church that has risen from what seemed but shattered fragments in the United States; the great Mother Church of England; the national Church of Ireland; and the Churches in communion with them on the Continent of Europe, in the dependencies and colonies of the empire of Great Britain, on this Western Continent, in India, Australia, Southern Africa, and the islands of the sea. "A little one has become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation."
What has brought them together? Not merely to do honor to the memory of one man or of several men, though their memories are inseparably blended with the thoughts and associations of the occasion. "In many centenaries the dominant interest is the personal. The birthday of the ‘monk that shook the world' is a handy peg on which to hang the whole of his marvellous career, and the massive personality of the man is never absent from view. But in the consecration of Bishop Seabury the Churchman beholds, not the preponderance of an individual, but the birthday of a Church. The difference is suggestive, and illustrates the radical divergence between the Catholic and the sectarian frame of mind. When the ideal of the one Body of Christ is strongly realized, the Church will overshadow the individual; when it is little cherished, the individual will eclipse the Church. We may be content to be of those who think that, as the State is greater than its worthiest citizen, so the Church should take precedence of its greatest member."[ These admirable words are quoted from the Scottish Church Review for November, 1884, p. 749.] Who would have more gladly owned all this, who would have been more thankful for it, than he who gave its name to that centenary? For, indeed, it was this which swelled the tide of emotion to its height. It was because of this that men felt in their hearts, and said with their lips, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou City of God."
One closing word, dear brethren, and the duty that from time to time you have laid upon me will be accomplished; not as it should have been, but as I have been able to accomplish it. The great principles on which they of whom I have been speaking placed themselves, are as lasting and as unchangeable as the everlasting hills. The lines on which they wrought have borne the trial and stood the test of all the Christian ages. Are we tempted, in a spirit of self-sufficiency or of doubt or of impatience, to forsake them? Then let us put the temptation firmly to one side. Only by so doing shall we maintain for ourselves, and hand on to others, who shall then in coming years rise up and call us blessed, the precious deposit that has come down to us, and for which we bless those who have gone before us. Christianity is not one of the religions of the world, but it is the one religion for the world. Jesus Christ, our Prophet, Priest, and King, our sufficing Sacrifice and our living Lord, is not the ideal man, the product of the growth, circumstances, and conditions of one nation or of the whole human race, but He is the "Son of God with power," miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost, miraculously born of the Virgin Mary, dying for our sins and rising again for our justification. "A Christianity," I use the words of Coleridge, "without a Church exercising spiritual authority, is vanity and dissolution."[ Aids to Reflection, p. 224, note (fourth edition).] The Church is not an aggregation of persons agreeing in certain doctrines or practices, but it is the "Body of Christ," perpetuated in accordance with the laws of its organism. "The fellowship of kindred minds" is not the Communion of saints. A certain "continuity of Christian thought" is not the same thing as the Faith once and forever given to the saints.
If we fling away these truths to which our predecessors clung so firmly, if they who shall come after us fling them away, then on us and on them will come the shame and the woe of making the well-ordered "city of the living God," the walls of which are salvation and its gates praise, to be "like a city that is broken down and without walls." On the other hand, if we, and they who shall come after us, hold them, teach them, act on them, then, and only then, shall we and they, in very deed, "grow up into 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."
a Special service was held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Middletown, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the first Ordination held by Bishop Seabury, August 3, 1885, at 11 o'clock A. M. The processional hymn being ended, Bishop Williams began the Communion-service, the Collect being that for St. Simon and St. Jude's Day. The Epistle (that for St. Mark's Day) was read by the Rev. Prof. Samuel Hart of Trinity College, and the Gospel (that for St. Matthias's Day), by the Rev. Sylvester Clarke, Rector of Trinity Church, Bridgeport. After the Creed, the Bishop delivered this address:
The third of August, 1785, was a memorable day for this diocese and for our whole Church. For the first time an American Bishop was to hold an ordination in the United States. The event carries us back, in thought, to Apostolic days. The first act of ordination by the Apostles at Jerusalem, after the miracle of Pentecost, was the laying on of hands upon the seven deacons. The first ordination ministered by him who first bore the Apostolic commission to this nation, was an ordination—not of seven indeed, but of four—to the diaconate. The authority, the ministration, and the order imparted were in both cases the same, separated though the acts were by the great chasm of seventeen centuries. It is good to commemorate such an event. It is right to commemorate it in the place in which it occurred. Such a commemoration fitly ends the series of centenary observances which we began in Woodbury in the spring-tide of 1883. For the act of this day certified our fathers that what they had sought and cried out for through long and weary years was gained at last; that no longer did three thousand miles of ocean separate them from the possibility of admission to the "ministry of Christ, and the stewardship of the mysteries of God."
Let me, first, say something of the place in which the service of ordination, and all the services and acts connected with it, were held. There stood, at that time, on what used to be called the South Green in this city, a small wooden church known as Christ Church. There are not many persons, probably, now living who remember it, but a rough sketch of it, which has been preserved, has given many who never saw it an idea at least of what it was. It was not an altogether ungraceful building with its arched windows—regarded by many in those days as indicating Romeward tendencies—and its pointed spire. And it had nothing in common with those hideous combinations of packing-box and Grecian portico, which prevailed many years later on; but which decay and fire and other merciful interferences and visitations have made things of the past.
It had a story of its own, too—that old church—to tell; a story of trial, perseverance, and success; a story exactly parallel to that of the clergy, and especially the bishop, who came together within its walls. About the middle of the last century, a number of persons who, in the exercise of that "freedom to worship God," which has been claimed as the peculiar glory of New England, had declared themselves to be attached to the Church of England, petitioned the town authorities to grant them a piece of ground on which they might erect a church. Their application was refused. After a time it was renewed, and refused again. At last, a building-place was granted them, the situation of which has just been mentioned. It was a marshy spot, on which few persons believed that any building could ever be erected. It is strangely noticeable, however, that a great many things which never can be done, are nevertheless somehow brought about, especially in the progress of the Church. So it was here. Careful drainage overcame the natural lack of adaptation, and, though the work met with delays and drawbacks, the church was completed in 1755. It is a tradition of the time that when the frame of the building was raised, the shout that burst from the lips of those engaged in or watching the work was so loud and joyous that it might have been heard for the distance of a mile. Verily, good people of this parish, if your predecessors could not say that they had been brought "through fire," they could at least say that they had been "brought through water to a wealthy place"; wealthy, not in this world's goods, but in those spiritual gifts which are the eternal dowry of the Bride of Christ.
So much for the place. Next let us look at those who came together. If the place of meeting had been hardly won, those men had "endured hardness as good soldiers of Christ." Foremost, in the full maturity of his manhood, stands the newly consecrated bishop. He is in his fifty-sixth year. And inasmuch as the picture with which we are all familiar was painted while he was in London, we no doubt see him there as he was here in Middletown, a century ago. And a goodly sight it is; the sight of one who looked, and was, every inch a bishop.
Jeremiah Learning comes next to view. But for his advanced age, and the fact that imprisonment in a damp and noisome cell had made him a cripple for life, he would have stood in Seabury's place as our first bishop. He is now in his sixty-eighth year, having been born in Durham in 1717. He lived to the age of nearly eighty-eight, and one who remembered him In his latest years says: "He rises to my mind the very ideal of age and decrepitude—a small, emaciated old man, very lame, his ashen and withered features surmounted sometimes by a cap, and sometimes by a small wig—always quiet and gentle in his manner." Such a condition as is here described is still, however, in the future for him. He is still vigorous enough to preside in the convention of the clergy, until the new bishop takes that place, and to preach what was called, in the quaint phraseology of the day, "a well adapted" ordination sermon.
We turn to the secretary of the convention, Abraham Jarvis, who will in time become the second bishop of this diocese. He has just entered on the twenty-first year of his rectorship of this parish, a position which he will hold for fourteen more years. He is described, by one who knew him, as having "an uncommon tact at public business, and in a talent at drafting petitions, memorials, etc., having few, if any, superiors."
Most, if not all, of the excellent papers connected with the negotiations for the Episcopate were drawn up by him, and on him devolved nearly all the correspondence to which the negotiations gave rise. Nine others of the clergy of the diocese were present, and with them two from other places—the Rev. Benjamin Moore of New York, who came in no official capacity, and the Rev. Samuel Parker of Boston, who appeared as representing the clergy of Massachusetts. Dr. Moore was afterwards the second Bishop of New York, and Dr. Parker the second Bishop of Massachusetts. The clergy had assembled on the day previous, August 2nd, and Bishop Seabury had presented his letters of consecration. On the day we are commemorating, the services began with the reception and recognition of the bishop. Four of the clergy repaired to the parsonage, which stood nearly where the house of the Hon. Benjamin Douglas now stands, bearing with them the declaration of the clergy then convened, that "they confirmed their former election, and acknowledged and received Dr. Seabury as their Episcopal head. Two of the four immediately carried back to the convention the answer of acceptance by the bishop, while the other two followed in attendance upon him, and conducted him to the church." Here, sitting near the Holy Table, with the clergy gathered before him, he listened to their address, which was read by the Rev. Dr. Hubbard of New Haven. I quote from it three striking passages. Their recognition of their new bishop was made in these words: "We, in the presence of Almighty God, declare to the world, that we do unanimously and voluntarily accept and receive you to be our Bishop, supreme in the government of the Church, and in the administration of all ecclesiastical offices. And we do solemnly engage to render you all that respect, duty, and submission, which we believe do belong and are due to your high office, and which, we understand, were given by the presbyters to their bishop in the Primitive Church while, in her native purity, she was unconnected with, and uncontrolled by, any secular power."
After describing the earnest attempts to obtain the Episcopate from England, and the final failure of the attempts, they add: "We hope that the successors of the Apostles in the Church of England have sufficient reasons to justify themselves to the world and to God. We, however, know of none such, nor can our imagination frame any."
At the close of the address, after blessing God for the way opened in Scotland, whose bishops had freely given what they had freely received, they add, out of their full hearts, burning words of gratitude, and say: "Wherever the American Episcopal Church shall be mentioned in the world, may this good deed which they have done for us, be spoken of for a memorial of them."
To this address the bishop made a brief, but sufficient and dignified reply, expressing, among other things, his reliance on the "ready advice and assistance" of the clergy in the discharge of his office; so foreshadowing the character of his Episcopate.
The ordination was then proceeded with, and the four deacons were ordained. Dr. Leaming preached the sermon, as I have already said, and Mr. Jarvis "officiated as archdeacon" and presented the candidates. The order of service differed somewhat in arrangement, but in nothing else, from our order as it stands today. But the changes are not material enough to require any mention.
The ordination ended, the bishop dissolved the convention and directed the clergy to meet him in convocation at a later hour. This was the first convocation of the clergy of this diocese. They had before come together by their own agreement; now they were called together by their chief pastor. These meetings of the clergy continued till within my own memory, though they had ceased before I was consecrated, nor do I remember ever to have attended one as either deacon or presbyter. They were usually held. I believe, in connection with the sessions of the Diocesan Convention.
Of those who were admitted on that third of August to the diaconate, another will speak to you as I could not, so that little remains for me to add.
We can scarcely now imagine to ourselves the mingled joy and doubt, hopes and fears, thankfulness and uncertainty, that filled the minds and agitated the hearts of those who came together here a hundred years ago. The great point, no doubt, was gained; but what was to follow? Would the consecration of Seabury be everywhere accepted? or would there be those who would reject it because an Act of Parliament had established Presbyterianism in Scotland, and other Acts of Parliament had proscribed the Scotch Episcopate? Would all churchmen in all the thirteen States of the Confederation be united in one body? Or were there such discordant elements, that they who held to the Apostolic Faith and Order would be thrust out? Was there vitality enough in the Church in Connecticut to live and grow? Or, when they who composed it then were gone, would it dwindle and die out? No man could have answered those questions then; God has answered them since. And as we run back along the story of the years that have written out the answer which we read this day, we come at last to that day, so truly memorable, and to the bishop, the clergy, the candidates, who then assembled to take their several parts in the first Episcopal Ordination in America.
In the library of Trinity College is preserved—many of us must have seen it—Bishop Seabury's Mitre. I am sure I cannot better express what may be called our culminating thought today, than by quoting some lines written by the Bishop of Western New York on that venerable relic:
"The rod that from Jerusalem
Went forth so strong of yore,
That rod of David's royal stem,
Whose hand the farthest bore?
St. Paul to seek the setting sun,
They say, to Britain prest;
St. Andrew to old Calidon,
But who still farther West?
"Go ask! a thousand tongues shall tell
His name and dear renown,
Where altar, font, and holy bell
Are gifts he handed down;
A thousand hearts keep warm the name,
Which share those gifts so blest;
Yet even this may tell the same,
First mitre of the West!
"Aye! keep it for this mighty West
Till truth shall glorious be,
And good old Samuel's is confest
Columbia's primal see.
'Tis better than a diadem,
The crown that Bishop wore,
Whose hand the rod of Jesse's stem
The farthest westward bore!"
The Rev. Dr. Beardsley then read the following biographical account of the four candidates admitted to the diaconate by Bishop Seabury at his first ordination:
Of the candidates ordained in Middletown on the third of August, 1785, Colin Ferguson was the only one not of Connecticut. He came from Maryland, and the testimonials recommending him were signed by the Rev. Dr. William Smith, afterwards president of the House of Deputies, and others of that State. He was born in Kent County, and was the son of a Scotsman who emigrated to this country and maintained a respectable character but never rose to affluent circumstances. An opportunity occurred for the youth to accompany a Scottish schoolmaster about to return to Edinburgh, and he gladly availed himself of it and thus obtained a classical education without expense to his father. After several years spent at the University of Edinburgh, he came back to America with a good reputation for scholarship, but it does not appear that he had the ministry in mind so early as this. He found employment as an instructor, and upon the establishment of Washington College, Chestertown, Md., in 1782, he was chosen a professor in it, and held the place until Dr. Smith, the president or principal, returned to Philadelphia, when he was promoted to the headship of the institution. It was under the direction of Dr. Smith that he studied theology, and his ministerial labors were chiefly limited to St. Paul's Parish, Kent County, of which for sometime he had the charge in addition to his college duties. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him shortly after his ordination by the institution with which he was connected, and was a deserved honor on the score of learning. He was a member of the August General Convention of 1789, and signed as one of the delegation from Maryland the "Resolves" of that body which led to the final union and settlement of the Church in all the States.
About the year 1804, the Legislature of Maryland passed enactments which deprived the college of the means of a liberal support, and Dr. Ferguson thereupon resigned his office and "retired to his farm in the vicinity of Georgetown Cross Roads, where he spent the remainder of his life." He died of paralysis on the 10th of March, 1806, in the 55th year of his age.
"As a preacher," says one [ P. Worth, in Sprague's Annals of the American Episcopal Pulpit, p. 344.] who was his pupil for seven years and had constant opportunities to make observations upon his character, "I cannot say he possessed any remarkable power. His sermons, as specimens of composition, were of a high order, creditable to him as a scholar and a writer, but they were not strongly marked by an evangelical tone. Perhaps I should not do him injustice, if I was to say that his sermons, in this respect, were not very unlike those of the celebrated Dr. Hugh Blair."
I take the names of the candidates in the order in which they lie in the Registry Book of Bishop Seabury—not that this order determines the actual order of ordination, for I am confident it does not.
Henry Van Dyck was born in the city of New York in 1744, and was the only son of his parents. He graduated from King's (now Columbia) College in 1761, when the institution was in charge of its first president, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson. After graduating, he studied law and located himself in Stratford, Conn., whither the family had removed and become settled. He married Huldah Lewis of that place, August 9, 1767, and on the sixth day of the ensuing month, he and his wife were admitted as communicants in Christ Church, which was then under the rectorship of Dr. Johnson for the second time, he having resigned the college and returned to Stratford.
It does not appear that he had much success in the legal profession, and he wrote his discouragements to William Samuel Johnson, special colonial agent from Connecticut, then in London, who confided in his integrity and had entrusted him with the collection of some debts that were his due. In his reply, Johnson said: "It gives me concern to find that you have not met with that obliging behaviour from the profession which you expected; those men at the bar have, I believe, most of them experienced the friendly assistance of those who have gone before them, and should not therefore in point of gratitude refuse it to help those who are coming forward and to succeed them, not to mention that it is exceedingly ungenerous and illiberal to endeavour to cramp rising genius, or use any attempts to monopolize a profession which should be ever open to men of merit, and especially those who enter into it in the regular methods of education. You will find, however, that nothing will so effectually overcome any difficulties, prejudices, or inconveniences of this nature as the course you say you are in, and in which therefore you will by all means persevere, of an assiduous, careful attention to your business and an upright, diligent conduct in every branch of your profession. This will secure you in the possession of the business you have, and increase it, enable you to transact it with ease and honor, and by degrees enforce the complaisance at least, if not the esteem, of those who by some slights and little negligences wished to have depressed you, and by that means perhaps secured to themselves a greater proportion of business.
"I sincerely give you and Mrs. Van Dyck joy upon your marriage, and hope you will long, very long, enjoy all the blessings of the connubial state, which I have ever esteemed essential to human happiness. It would have given me an additional pleasure to have known that your father had consented to it, and though it seems he would not, I still hope he may yet see such happy effects of the measure as to approve it and be convinced by its consequences that he ought not to have been so inflexibly averse to it." [Ms. Letter, November 23, 1767.]
Mr. Van Dyck continued the practice of law until about the time of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He was brought forward as a lay-reader under the auspices of the Rev. Ebenezer Kneeland, successor in the Church at Stratford to the Rev. Dr. Johnson whose granddaughter, Charity, he had married. From the records of the Episcopal Church in the adjoining town of Milford, it appears that at a vestry meeting, held April 17, 1776, after electing wardens and vestrymen, Mr. Kneeland being present, it was "voted that Mr. Henry Van Dyke be desired to read prayers on such Sundays as Dr. Kneeland shall be absent, and that we will see him rewarded for his trouble." This was done with entire unanimity by the advice and consent of Mr. Kneeland. An item in a publication of the time, under date of August, 1779, though incorrect in reporting him as a clergyman, gives evidence that he had ceased to pursue the legal profession: "The Rev. Henry Van Dyke is at Norwalk, and wants to go to Long Island with his family."
After the independence of the colonies had been declared, the full use of the liturgy of the Church of England was no longer tolerated, and for ten years there was seldom any assembling for prayers or preaching or any new choice of officers in the Church at Milford. But in January, 1786, Mr. Van Dyck, being then in Holy Orders, proposed to take the care of the churches in Milford and West Haven, and his proposition was acceded to at a salary of 90 pounds per annum; Milford agreeing to pay two-thirds of it and West Haven the remainder. He removed with his family to Milford in the May following, and the church thought itself happily provided with a "pasture" for life.
In this, however, there was disappointment, for in February, 1787, "the appearance of a committee from Poughkeepsie" to secure him as rector in that place and Fishkill, made the people of Milford and West Haven somewhat indignant. They claimed that his engagement with them was for a longer period, while he affirmed that it terminated at the end of the year. He had been in treaty with the Church at Poughkeepsie for some time, and visited and officiated in it before he was in Holy Orders. The records show that he conducted divine service in Christ Church as early as June, 1784, and that the congregation desired the vestry to adopt such measures in conjunction with their brethren of Trinity Church, Fishkill, as might be proper for the settlement of Mr. Van Dyck. The arrangement was completed by offering him as compensation the use of the glebe, containing more than two hundred and fifty acres, and, 80 pounds New York currency from the parish in Poughkeepsie and 40 pounds from Fishkill. They wished him to come whether in orders or not, but nothing more was heard of him till he addressed a letter dated Stratford, May 22, 1785, to the vestry of Christ Church, requesting certificates and testimonials which would entitle him to ordination by Bishop Seabury who was already in Nova Scotia and "momentarily expected" in Connecticut.
"Our ordination," he said, "will take place immediately on his arrival, for which we are making all possible preparation, after which we shall repair to our several congregations as soon as we can." The preparation was probably under the direction and oversight of the Rev. Mr. Learning, the first choice of the clergy of Connecticut for bishop.
On the second Sunday after his ordination, in fulfilment of a promise which he had made, the Rev. Mr. Van Dyck visited the church in Fishkill, but he was only a bird of passage in doing this. His private affairs were in the way. He had become indebted to a gentleman in New York to the amount of L125, and under the trespass law of the State, if he entered it and remained, he was liable to arrest and imprisonment. The Legislature, by vote, permitted him to return, and finally an amicable adjustment was effected with the creditor through the agency of the vestry in Poughkeepsie, and he was established as rector of Christ Church, Whitsunday, May 27, 1787, and continued in charge till 1791. He then removed to New Jersey and became rector of St. Peter's Church, Amboy, and Christ Church, New Brunswick; but in July, 1793, he accepted the rectorship of St. Mary's, Burlington, which he held for three years. His residence in this place was saddened by painful domestic afflictions. The death of his widowed mother, who had been an inmate of his family for many years, followed by that of two of his daughters under peculiarly sorrowful circumstances, must have made him quite willing to leave Burlington, and assume, in 1797, the charge of St. James's Church, Newtown, L. I. Here he continued to officiate for five years, and he is said to have been the first clergyman who devoted his entire services to that parish. This was his last and longest rectorship, for he left Newtown in 1802, and on the 12th of September in that year he conducted the services in Grace Church, Jamaica, then vacant, "and offered to officiate further."
Davis [ John Davis, Travels of four Years and a half in the United States (1798–1802), p. 155.], in his travels in the United States, speaks thus vividly of a visit he made to Newtown, and of his entertainment in the place: "I was fortunate enough to procure lodgings at Newtown under the roof of the Episcopal minister, Mr. Vandyke. The parsonage-house was not unpleasantly situated. The porch was shaded by a couple of huge locust trees, and accommodated with a long bench. Here I often sat with my host, who like Parson Adams always wore the cassock; but he did not read AEschylus. Mr. Vandyke was at least sixty; yet if a colt, a pig, or any other quadruped entered his paddock, he sprang from his seat with more than youthful agility, and vociferously chased the intruder from his domain. I could not but smile to behold the parson running after a pig and mingling his cries with those of the animal."
The New York Evening Post of September 17, 1804, contained this obituary: "Died early this morning, the Rev. Henry Van Dyck, aged sixty, one of the clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and formerly rector of St. James's Church, Newtown. He was possessed of an affectionate heart and excellent understanding. He discharged with zeal, fidelity, and ability, the duties of his calling. In private life he was esteemed by all to whom he was known. Funeral this afternoon at five o'clock from his house, No. 4 Cedar street, New York, where his friends and acquaintances are invited to attend."
It is stated in the Rev. Dr. Hills's History of the Church in Burlington, p. 339, that two children survived him—"a son and a daughter; Richard Vandyke married, had a large family, and lived to a good old age. He died in 1856." The death of the daughter, who never married, occurred thirty years earlier.
Ashbel Baldwin was born in a farm-house on the hills of Litchfield, Connecticut, March 7, 1757. His father, Isaac Baldwin, was a graduate of Yale College in the class of 1735, and an older brother, who bore the paternal name, was graduated in 1774. Ashbel was later, graduating in 1776, the year of the Declaration of American Independence. Isaac Baldwin the senior, on leaving college, began the study of theology and was licensed as a Congregational minister, and preached for a time in what is now the town of Washington, Conn. [ Dexter's Yale Biographies and Annals, 1701–1745; p. 523.] But he soon relinquished the study, and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, settling upon a farm in Litchfield, and becoming an eminently useful official in the public affairs of the town and county.
His son Ashbel contracted a lameness in boyhood by going into the water and imprudently exposing himself to a cold, which stiffened and shortened one of his limbs and made his gait ever afterward unequal and limping. He had not relinquished his attachment to the Congregational order when he graduated and subsequently took a temporary tutorship in a Church family in New York. Stanch churchmen in those days, if for any cause the parish church was closed on Sunday, turned their parlors into chapels, and had in private the full morning service. Mr. Baldwin, being the educated member of the household, was required to act as lay-reader, and not knowing how to use the Prayer–Book, and yet ashamed to confess his ignorance to the head of the family, he sought the assistance and friendship of the gardener, who gave him the necessary instructions, and very soon love and admiration of the Liturgy and conversion to the Church followed. How long he continued in his private tutorship is unknown.
For two or three years during the Revolutionary War he held the appointment of a quartermaster in the Continental army, and was stationed for a time at Litchfield, where there was a large depository of military stores, "principally taken at the surrender of General Burgoyne," and guarded by a considerable detachment of soldiers. For his services in this capacity he received a pension from government, which became his principal means of support in the last year of his life.
Upon the cessation of hostilities and the acknowledgment of Independence, he applied himself to theological studies, and though but a candidate for Holy Orders, he was an interested spectator at the meeting of the clergy in Woodbury on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1783, when choice was made of the first bishop of Connecticut.
On Monday, June 20, 1785, Bishop Seabury arrived at Newport, R.I., after a voyage from London of three months, including his stay in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and reaching his future home in Connecticut a week later, preparations were immediately begun to meet his clergy and hold his first ordination. Of the four candidates admitted by him to the diaconate in this city a century ago today, Van Dyck, Baldwin, and Shelton belonged to Connecticut, and were recommended by its clergy, of whom in convention assembled the Rev. Jeremiah Leaming was president. Mr. Baldwin was sent at once to his native place, and continued in charge of St. Michael's Church, Litchfield, till 1793, when he resigned and accepted the rectorship of the venerable parish at Stratford. He was instrumental in awakening the zeal of the Episcopalians of Litchfield county, and leading them to re-open their churches after the desolations of the war as well as to project new ones. His recognized position in the diocese was early one of influence and responsibility, and his energy and facility in the dispatch of business made him especially useful in the deliberative and legislative assemblies of the Church. He was chosen Secretary of the Convention of the Diocese of Connecticut in 1796, and continued to discharge the duties of that office for a period of nearly thirty years. He was a deputy to the General Convention for an equally long period, and held the office of Secretary in the House of Deputies, from which he retired in 1823 with the thanks of that body "for his long and faithful services."
As the General Convention of 1799 was the first which Mr. Baldwin attended in the capacity of a deputy, so that of 1823 was the last. He was conspicuous in that council for remarkable self-possession, and promptness and facility in giving expression to his opinions. The type of his theology led him to take the "old paths," and reverence for the memory of the bishop who ordained him held him up to a high standard of legislation for the Church. He would have her doctrines and discipline well defined and guarded, and his first action in the House of Deputies was to move a resolution to take into consideration the propriety of framing Articles of Religion. He lived at a period when Puritanism was rife in New England, especially in Connecticut, and while it was his policy to avoid being drawn into controversy, his devotion to the interests of the Episcopal Church never faltered or became doubtful under any pressure of circumstances. He was a parson without the smallest trace of bigotry, and attracted and retained the affections of all who was privileged to know him well in his private and official capacity. He was a good reader of the Liturgy, an instructive, if not a learned preacher, and had a clear, sonorous voice, and a persuasive manner which rendered his discourses acceptable to all classes of people. His best and happiest days were passed in Stratford, where for over thirty years he held the rectorship of the parish which had been served by those two eminent divines, Johnson and Leaming.
For a portion of the time he had this parish in connection with the neighboring one at Tashua, ministering to the latter every third Sunday, and holding frequent services in school-houses and private dwellings. His mode of travelling was in a chaise, and on one occasion he drove up rather hurriedly to meet an appointment at a house where the people had already assembled, and stepping nimbly down from his seat he was accosted by the host who was not a churchman: "I suppose, Mr. Baldwin, as it is the season of Lent, you will not take any refreshments before beginning the service." "No, nothing for me," was the reply; "but my horse is a Presbyterian; he must be fed."
Mr. Baldwin was a man of keen discernment, quick apprehensions, and ready retort. In social intercourse he had wonderful powers of adapting himself to circumstances, and was alike an acceptable visitor in the families of the wealthy and refined, the humble and the uneducated, and a welcome guest at their tables. It was his practice, as it was the practice of many of the clergy in that day, to administer baptism in private houses, using the occasion of a lecture to make the office a public one. Very often whole households were baptized in this way, and sometimes their connection with the Church was afterwards unfortunately lost through neglect to exercise a proper degree of vigilance and care.
Mr. Baldwin married Miss Clarissa Johnson of Guilford, a grand-niece of his predecessor in Stratford, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson. She died childless many years before him, and he never married again. He was in the full possession of his mental faculties and blessed with a fair degree of health when he resigned, in 1824, the Rectorship of Christ Church. For a time he lingered in the neighborhood of Stratford, but could not be idle, and was soon in charge of the parish in Meriden, and afterwards officiated in several places, as Tashua, Wallingford, North Haven, Oxford, and Quakers' Farms. Ten years were thus passed, doing what he could for the Church which he had served so faithfully and loved so much; but in 1834 failure of eyesight and other infirmities obliged him to cease from all public service and go into retirement. It was natural for him to dwell for the rest of his days among or near his old parishioners, and for many years, as it suited his convenience, he resided at New Haven, Bridgeport, and Stratford. He was at the latter place in 1837, when he addressed a letter to Bishop Brownell, taking an affectionate leave of the Diocesan Convention then sitting in New Haven, and resigning the only office of trust in its gift which he had continued to hold.
The letter was characteristic of the man, chaste and beautiful in its style, and pathetic in its allusions. The concluding paragraph read:
"My dear Sir, when I first entered the Church her condition was not very flattering. Surrounded by enemies on every side, and opposed with much virulence, her safety and even her very existence were at times somewhat questionable; but by the united and zealous exertions of the clergy, attended by the blessings of her great Founder, she has been preserved in safety through every storm, and now presents herself with astonishment to every beholder, not as a grain of mustard seed, but as a beautiful tree, spreading its salubrious branches over our whole country. The Church, by a strict adherence to its ancient landmarks, its priesthood, its liturgy, and its government, has been preserved from those schisms which seem to threaten the peace of a very respectable body of Christians in our country. May the same unanimity and zeal which animated our fathers, still be preserved in the Church. My days of pilgrimage, I know, are almost closed, and I can do no more than to be in readiness, by the grace of God, to leave the Church militant in peace. May I be permitted, Sir, to ask the prayers of my bishop and his clergy, that my last days may be happy."
Mr. Baldwin went to Rochester, N.Y., a few years later, and became an inmate in the family of one who had removed thither from Connecticut, and who was under special obligations to him for kindness and care bestowed in previous years. He died in that city on Sunday, February 8, 1846, lacking twenty-seven days to complete his eighty-ninth year. There is a memorial window erected to him in the chancel of Grace Church, Long Hill, Conn., which occupies ground included in the scene of his early ministration.
Philo Shelton was a grandson of Daniel Shelton, the founder of the New England branch of the Shelton family in America. He was one of a family of fourteen children, and was born in Ripton (now Huntington) on the 7th of May, 1754. He received a classical education, and was the first alumnus of Yale College who bore the name of Shelton. He graduated in 1775, just after the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, and soon, as a candidate for Holy Orders, he acted in the capacity of a lay-reader in several places until his ordination. When a British expedition under the command of Gen. Tryon was fitted out at New York in 1779, to subdue the shore-towns of Connecticut, Fairfield was one of the places invaded, the torch was applied to the dwellings of the rich and the poor, and the Episcopal church there, the parsonage, and other property belonging to the parish were consumed in the general conflagration. This destruction impoverished and depressed the people as a whole, and many of them fled; but the few churchmen who remained rallied from all discouragement, rebuilt their houses, and met in them on Sundays to worship God according to the forms of the old liturgy, Philo Shelton having been secured for a lay-reader. He read at the same time for the Episcopalians at Stratfield, where a wooden church was built as early as 1748, and also for those in Weston, where the flock had not been broken up by the disasters of the Revolution.
While waiting for ordination, he settled in life and married, April 20, 1781, Lucy, daughter of Philip Nichols, Esq., of Stratfield (now Bridgeport), [ The marriage was undoubtedly solemnized by the Rev. Christopher Newton of Ripton, the only Church clergyman in the vicinity, and still Mr. Shelton's rector. He baptized the first child, Lucy, born June 27, 1782.] strong churchman and first lay-delegate chosen to represent the Diocese of Connecticut in the General Convention. In February, 1785, a formal arrangement was made that his services in each of the three places should be proportioned to the number of churchmen residing in them respectively, and until he should be in Orders it was stipulated to pay him twenty shillings lawful money for each day that he officiated. Ashbel Baldwin, his nearest neighbor in parochial work, and most intimate friend and associate in efforts to build up the Church in Connecticut, used to say that the hands of Bishop Seabury were first laid upon the head of Mr. Shelton on the 3d of August, 1785, so that his name really begins the long list of clergy who have had ordination in this country by bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the Diocesan Convention, under an established rule of that body, he invariably outranked Mr. Baldwin, and so was frequently the presiding officer in the absence of the Bishop, which is another proof that he was his senior by ordination as well as in years. At the first convocation of the clergy after the death of Bishop Jarvis, held in Stratford, June 1, 1813, Mr. Baldwin, as Secretary, entered the names of twenty-nine who were present, and then recorded: "The Rev. Doctor Mansfield desired to be excused from serving as President on account of his age and infirmities; which excuse was accepted by the brethren. The Rev. Philo Shelton, being the next oldest presbyter, took the chair." Should it be said that this does not refer to the diaconate, it may be answered that the obituary notice of his widow, who died in 1838, speaks of him as "the first clergyman ordained by the first American Bishop."
After his admission to Holy Orders, according to his own statement, Mr. Shelton took full "pastoral charge of the cure of Fairfield, including Stratfield and Weston, dividing his time equally between the three churches, with a salary of one hundred pounds per annum from the congregations and the use of what lands belonged to the cure." It was a small living for a clergyman who already had a wife and two children, but the Revolutionary War had so reduced the people and their resources, that it could not well be made larger. Five years passed away before the enterprise of building a new church in Fairfield was really begun, and then it was erected about a mile west of the site where the old one stood, and was only inclosed and made fit for occupancy at the time, and not finished and consecrated till 1798.
The population was drifting from Stratfield toward the borough of Bridgeport, and in 1801 it was deemed advisable to demolish the old church and build a new one in a more central situation. Mr. Shelton saw the wisdom of this movement and encouraged it, though it was attended very naturally with some painful considerations, and took away a pleasing picture from the landscape which filled the vision of Dr. Dwight when he wrote his poem entitled "Greenfield Hill":
"Here, sky-encircled, Stratford's churches beam, And Stratfield's turrets greet the roving eye."
The new church in the borough was so far completed as to be used for public worship in the beginning of Advent, 1801, and two years later "the ground floor was sold at public vendue for the purpose of building the pews and seats thereon, and finishing the church; and the money raised in the sale amounted to between six and seven hundred dollars." The cost of the building—about thirty-five hundred dollars—was over and above this, and was met by the voluntary contributions of the people. Mr. Shelton, in speaking of the completion of the whole work, said: "It has been conducted in harmony, with good prudence, strict economy, and a degree of elegance and taste which does honor to the committee, and adds respectability to the place."
For nearly forty years the scene of his ministerial labors was undisturbed, and he dwelt among his people in quietness and confidence, and had the satisfaction of seeing them attain to a high degree of worldly prosperity, and St. John's Church in Bridgeport, especially, to be one of the strongest and most flourishing in the diocese. The silent influence of a good life carried him along smoothly, and left its gentle impress wherever he was known. "A faithful pastor, a guileless and godly man," is a part of the inscription upon the marble monument erected over his ashes in the Mountain Grove Cemetery at Bridgeport, a few years since, by his son William, and these words sum up very appropriately his ministerial and Christian character.
While he confined himself closely to the duties of his cure, he shrank not from work put upon him by the diocese, and was for twenty-four years a member of the standing committee, and a firm supporter of ecclesiastical authority in seasons of trial and trouble. He was also several times chosen a deputy to the General Convention, and never failed to attend its sessions.
There were things that gave him great pain towards the end of his days, and "put his confidence in the providence of God to a severe test." He and Mr. Baldwin, so long earnest and friendly workers in adjoining fields of labor, appear to have reached the same determination at the same time, and probably they conferred together before resigning their respective rectorships, which they both did in 1824. Bishop Brownell, referring to this action in his address to the annual convention of that year said: "These clergymen were admitted to their ministry at the first Episcopal ordination ever held in America, and have served their respective parishes for more than thirty years. They have labored faithfully in the Church in this diocese during its darkest periods of depression, and through the progressive stages of its advancement they have taken an important part in its councils. They have ‘borne the burden and heat of the day,' and are entitled to the gratitude of all those who enjoy the fruits of their counsels and labors."
Mr. Shelton confined his services after this wholly to the Church in Fairfield, but he did not long survive the change. He died on the 27th of February, 1825, and was buried under the chancel of the old church in Mill Plain, Fairfield, where he had ministered so many years, including his time as lay-reader, and a marble tablet was provided by the congregation to mark his resting-place, on which among other things were inscribed the date of his birth, graduation, admission to Holy Orders, and the words: "being the first clergyman episcopally ordained in the United States."
In 1842 the parishioners of Trinity Church, Fairfield, voted to remove all the public services to the chapel, which had been built seven years before in the borough of Southport, about a mile and a half distant from Mill Plain, and to transfer the site, title, and rights of the parish to that edifice. The old church was afterwards taken down and parts of it used to build the rectory in Southport. The memorial tablet was also transferred, but on the afternoon of March 11, 1854, the Southport Church was accidentally burnt, and the tablet destroyed. The remains of Mr. Shelton now have a final resting-place with his sainted wife and two of his daughters in the cemetery before mentioned. A monumental tablet in the wall of St. John's Church, Bridgeport, "bears an affectionate testimony to his Christian worth and ministerial fidelity." Bishop Brownell, in his address to the Annual Convention of the Diocese, said of him very truly: "He has faithfully and successfully labored for almost forty years in the parish from which his Divine Master has now called him to his rest. He has taken an important part in the ecclesiastical concerns of the diocese, from the period of its first organization, and the moderation and prudence of his counsels have contributed, in no small degree, to the welfare of the Church. For simplicity of character, amiable manners, unaffected piety, and a faithful devotion to the duties of the ministerial office, he has left an example by which all his surviving brethren may profit, and which few of them can hope to surpass."
His widow survived him thirteen years—an intelligent and devout churchwoman who, as it has been said, "left a name only to be loved and honored by her friends." Two of his sons entered the ministry. The younger of them, George Augustus Shelton, a graduate of Yale College, died in 1863, Rector of St. James's Church, Newtown, L. I. The other, the late William Shelton, D. D., succeeded his father for a time in Fairfield, and then went to Buffalo, where for more than half a century he was the distinguished Rector of St. Paul's Church, the oldest parish in that city. Both died childless, and the name of Shelton has disappeared from the list of our clergy.
The Bishop then proceeded with the service, being assisted in the administration by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley and the Rev. Messrs. Francis Goodwin and S. O. Seymour of Hartford. After the service, the churchwomen of Middletown entertained the clergy and visitors at the Berkeley Divinity School.
The following is a list of the clergymen who were present:
The Right Rev. the Bishop; the Rev. Dr. Beardsley of New Haven; the Rev. Messrs. E. W. Babcock, New Haven; Prof. John Binney, Middletown; J. W. Bradin, Hartford; Sylvester Clarke, Bridgeport; Francis Goodwin, Hartford; F. D. Harriman, Middle Haddam; Prof. Samuel Hart, Hartford; J. W. Hyde, West Hartford; Prof. W. A. Johnson, Middletown; W. F. Nichols, Hartford; J. L. Parks, Middletown; Prof. F. T. Russell, Waterbury; B. S. Sanderson, Wethersfield; S. O. Seymour, Hartford; John Townsend, Middletown; S. H. Watkins. Bristol; W. W. Webb, Middletown; Charles Westermann, Middle Haddam; Henry Edwards, Hagerstown, Md.: W. B. Walker, Augusta, Ga.
Commemoration at Aberdeen,
October 7–8, 1884.
In his address to the Diocesan Convention of 1884, Bishop Williams said:
"I have received an invitation to be present at Aberdeen, Scotland, during the first week in October next, and to take part in the celebration of the centenary of the consecration of our first Bishop. This invitation I have, after much hesitation, decided, with your consent, my brethren, to accept. And inasmuch as the month of August and early September are not very available for visitations of the parishes, as it is more than forty years since I was in Great Britain, and as it is very unlikely that I shall ever visit it again, I have also determined, again with your consent, to sail for England, if so God wills, on the nineteenth of July, hoping to be permitted to return hither as soon as the services of the Commemoration are ended.
"I am to be the bearer of an address to the Episcopate of Scotland from the House of Bishops in this country; and it would be peculiarly gratifying to my feelings, as well as most seemly in itself considered, could I also carry out an Address from our own Convention. If our whole Church owes a debt of gratitude to the venerable prelates who laid hands on Seabury, surely this Diocese has especial cause to acknowledge to their successors the obligations under which the loving kindness of those prelates has placed those who have gone before us, ourselves, and those who shall come after us to the latest generations."
This part of the Bishop's address was referred to a special committee, on whose recommendation—their report being presented by their chairman, the Rev. Dr. Harwood—the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That this Convention has heard with great satisfaction that the Bishop has received and accepted an invitation to be present at Aberdeen in October next, to take part in the centenary commemoration of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury; and that, in giving its assent to the Bishop's request for leave of absence, the Convention assures him that the best wishes and prayers of the Diocese will go with him.
Resolved, That the Rev. Dr. E. E. Beardsley, the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, the Rev. Samuel Hart, and the Rev. William F. Nichols, be and they are hereby commissioned to present to the Scottish Bishops an Address in the name of this Convention; and that the Secretary be instructed to furnish them with a certificate of their appointment.
Resolved, That this Committee have permission to sit after the adjournment of this Convention, to prepare the Address.
At a meeting held after the adjournment of the Convention, the Rev. Dr. Beardsley being called to the chair, it was resolved, on motion of the Rev. J. J. McCook, to take measures for procuring a suitable memorial of the gratitude of the Diocese of Connecticut to be presented to the Church in Scotland at the approaching centenary commemoration; and to that end the chairman appointed as a Committee, with power, the Rev. Messrs. John Townsend, John J. McCook, and William F. Nichols. The Committee determined that the memorial should take the form of a Paten and Chalice, and subscriptions for the same in small amounts were solicited and received from clergymen and lay persons throughout the Diocese.
the Bishop of Connecticut and the four Presbyters appointed by the Convention attended the commemorative service at St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, on the seventh day of October. [ The Rev. Howard S. Clapp and the Rev. Gouverneur M. Wilkins were also present from Connecticut.
Duplicate copies of the special minutes of the Episcopal Synod recording the proceedings at the Centenary in Aberdeen and of the official record of the meeting of the Synod on the eighth of October, have been forwarded to the Bishop of Connecticut for preservation in the Archives of the Diocese. They are authenticated by the signatures of five of the Scottish Bishops and attested by Hugh James Rollo, Esq., W. S., Registrar to the Primus and Assistant Lay–Clerk to the College of Bishops.] The Holy Communion was celebrated according to the Scottish rite; and, in the presence of a large congregation, including Bishops of the Scottish, English, Irish, American, and Colonial Churches, about two hundred clergymen, and a large body of the faithful laity, Bishop Williams preached the following sermon:
Isaiah 1x. 5.—"Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee."
The stirring prophecy which contains these words presents to us, as does many another prophecy, the Divine ideal of the Church of God. It shows us what that Church would be, even here in "the progress of time, while, living by faith, she sojourns" in a world lying in wickedness, had not man's folly and sin marred that Divine ideal. It points us forward to the day when "in the stability of that eternal seat which—now she patiently awaits, she shall attain the final victory and the perfect peace." [ St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei., Lib. i., Preface.]
The entire prophecy, as it runs through the several chapters from the first of which the text is taken, finds its two horizons, so to speak, in the First and Second Advents of our Lord. Its theme is the period that lies between them. That period it describes as one long year of Jubilee, the period of the new creation redressing the confusions and desolations of the older one, in the power and abiding presence of the same Holy Spirit That once moved "upon the face of the waters," and is now, "by the washing of regeneration" and in His own renewing life, "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." As the story of that older creation began with the fiat "Let there be light," so the prophecy of this new one begins with the words, "Arise, shine, for thy light is come." As that creation found its consummation in the Paradise wherein grew "every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food," and in which unfallen man was placed, so this finds its consummation in the new Paradise "in the midst" of which stands the tree of life whose "leaves are for the healing of the nations"; the dwellers in which are "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord"; while itself is called "sought out, a city not forsaken."
So much for the whole prophecy; and time forbids me to say more, if indeed more were needed. Let us turn to that integral portion which the text contains; and I venture, for the moment, to reverse the order of its wording and to speak of its last clause first.
"The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee." Growth is the normal law of the Church's life. It may not always and at any given time be growth in numbers, though, if other growth be not lacking, that is sure to come. But growth there must be; growth "in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"; growth "into Him in all things Which is the Head, even Christ"; growth upon and in "the chief Corner-stone, in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." And such growth does—it must—lead on directly to the gathering in of souls into the Lord's kingdom; it must arouse that which we call the missionary spirit in the Church, which was illustrated, as never before nor since, in the life and example of Him Who came "to seek and to save that which was lost"; which was inculcated by Him when He bade the Twelve to "disciple all nations"; which was the burden of the last words, "unto the uttermost part of the earth," that fell on the ears of the adoring Apostles as He entered into the bright cloud of the Ascension; and to which the miracle of Pentecost had such direct and solemn reference. [ Baton's Bampton Lectures, 1872, p. 363.]
When this normal law becomes a living conviction in the minds and hearts of the Church's members, and, therefore, in the mind and heart of the Church herself, then those two things follow which the first part of my text (though, indeed, it is the illation from the latter portion) brings before us, when it says that because of the conversion of "the abundance of the sea," and because of the incoming of "the Gentiles," "thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear and be enlarged."
First, "thou shalt see, and flow together"; or, as it might better read, "thou shalt see and be enlightened." As the mind takes in those latest words of the Lord, "unto the uttermost part of the earth," as the eye beholds the Church spreading outward from its one centre in Jerusalem, "the vision and the faculty divine," if not created, are at least sharpened and strengthened. We learn how God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." We understand, as never before, "what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of
[ Eaton's Bampton Lectures 1872, p. 363] the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ."
So it fared with St. Peter, after that vision of the great sheet coming down from heaven had fully opened to him the universality of the Church of God. Then his "delusive dream of temporal deliverance became a real assurance of eternal redemption." Then his "narrow estimate of the Divine Covenant with his own nation expanded, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, into the sublime conception of the ‘Israel of God.'" [ Lee On Inspiration, p. 249 (American edition).]
"Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged." The fear surely is not that of shivering dread or slavish terror. But it is that subduing awe which always accompanies great joyfulness, and enters into it in such a mysterious and perplexing way; even as God says, by Jeremiah, that when all the nations of the earth shall hear of the good which He will do unto Israel, "they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I procure unto it." So when Jacob, awaking from the sleep in which he learned of the new Covenant with God through the Incarnation of Christ, exclaimed: "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!" And then, as the unbounded love and mercy of the Father of all spirits comes to be understood, the heart is in very deed "enlarged," as St. Paul's heart was toward his Corinthian children; and it goes along, in loving, active sympathy with the great purpose of God, "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him."
Thus as the "Vision of peace, the blessed city Jerusalem" has dawned upon our sight; as we have watched, its ever-spreading walls and rising towers; as we have seen it builded up with living stones, which are human souls redeemed and sanctified; we have entered with a keener insight into, we have come to comprehend more truly and more fully, "the length and breadth and depth and height" of that "manifold wisdom of God" which is made "known by the Church" even to "the principalities and powers in heavenly places"; and our hearts have kindled into that constraining love of Christ, in which we rejoice, with joy unspeakable, to work together with Him in bringing men to the knowledge of the one way of salvation, while, in the same deep love, we also endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Fathers and brethren, honored and beloved in the Lord! as I stand here, this day, with a full heart but with trembling lips, the unworthy successor of him who, in this city of old renown, received a century ago the sacred deposit which he bore to the Western world; as I look on this truly august gathering which tells, as no words can tell, how God has blessed the vine planted in early, possibly in Apostolic, days in "Britain divided from the world," enabling her "to stretch out her branches unto the sea, and her boughs unto the river"; as I think of all that has come and gone in those hundred years in the marvellous growth and the awakened inner life, acting and reacting on each other, of the mother and the daughter Churches—for we all spring from one and the same noble stock—I can find no better words in which to sum up memories, thoughts, forecastings, than those which I have endeavored somewhat to unfold: "Then thou shalt see, and be enlightened, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee."
And yet, one cannot but remember how far beyond all possible anticipations of those brave hearts that once made such a venture for Christ and His Church, are the things which our eyes look upon, and which are a part of our everyday life and experience.
When those ten presbyters, whose priesthood had not been gained without trials and perils which only the deepest convictions could have nerved them to bear, met in that secluded unknown New England town, on the Festival of the Annunciation, in 1783, and laid the burden of seeking for the Episcopate on Seabury, what could they have seen about them but the disorganized elements of an apparently decaying life? When, on the 14th of November, 1784, in that upper room in this good city, those venerable prelates (whose names are today household words through all the length and breadth of what has been called "The Greater Britain of the Western World") handed on the high commission they had received in trust, what could their eyes have looked upon but scattered flocks under their few shepherds, which must meet, if they met at all, in uncertainty and peril, to worship God as their fathers had worshipped before them? Still, if they saw little around them to encourage and support, theirs (we may well believe) was the eye of faith that is strengthened to pierce the future. If they heard few words of cheer from men, there came upon their ears, from a Greater than man, words of strong hope and glorious promise. In that Transatlantic gathering, small and unnoticed as it was, the ten who came together heard, in the Gospel of the Annunciation, that "with God nothing is impossible," and in the song of the Blessed Virgin they were bidden to bethink themselves how "God remembered His mercy and truth toward the House of Israel," exalting "the humble and meek," filling "the hungry with good things," and helping "His servant Israel." Here in Aberdeen, on that memorable day of November, they said in the morning Psalter: "O what great troubles and adversities hast Thou showed me! and yet didst Thou turn and refresh me; yea, and broughtest me from the deep of the earth again"; and then, as the strain of praise swelled higher, higher still, while the vision of the City of God in all its grandeur broke on the eye of faith, there came the inspiring words—how their hearts must have thrilled as they uttered them!—"He shall deliver the poor when he crieth, the needy also, and him that hath no helper... He shall be favourable to the simple and needy, and shall preserve the souls of the poor.... There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills; his fruit shall shake like Libanus, and shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth."
Words like these carry with them unwonted power on occasions like those of which I have been speaking. To us they come like special prophecies of what we look on as a century now closing. To those others they came freighted with hope for an indefinite and unknown future. And what an inspiration they must have given to the venture they were making; a venture so entirely one of faith, that it is not too much to say of those who made it that they take their places in that long line of faithful ones, mentioned with such distinguished honor in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who, though they only saw "the promises afar off," still "were persuaded of them and embraced them," and therefore "obtained a good report." Can we imagine, dear brethren, a more striking illustration of the different aspect which things wear to the eye of sense on the one hand, and the eye of faith on the other, than that which the election and consecration of the first bishop for America present to us? All honor, then, to those brave hearts that accomplished them! Men may have counted "their lives madness and their end to be without honor." We know, blessed be the God of all grace and power! that they are "numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints."
The temptation is strong to linger on the simple but impressive scene of the consecration: to try to picture that secluded oratory in the house of the Coadjutor–Bishop of this faithful diocese; to endeavor to bring back the congregation gathered in it, and the ministering prelates; to recall the form of the youthful priest who held the book from which the awful words of ordination were recited, Alexander Jolly, afterwards the sainted Bishop of Moray; to speak of this ancient city of Aberdeen, associated for all time in the memories of Churchmen with the names of John Forbes of Corse and Henry Scougal and the remembrance of its orthodox and learned doctors; but time forbids more than this briefest mention.
We behold—and it is a sight to stir the heart with "thoughts too deep for words"—we behold a suffering and a witnessing Church, in the depth of a long and wasting depression, reaching out the hand of love to a Church suffering and witnessing also, and trembling, to human seeming, on the verge of utter extinction. Perhaps—is it too much to say it?—it was because of this patient suffering and faithful witness that God gave to this Church the distinguished privilege of sending its first Apostle to the new world beyond the ocean. I cannot refrain from quoting here the admirable words of one of your own Scottish bishops. Speaking of the act which we commemorate, he says: "Mark, my brethren, how for the accomplishment of this work—according to the full measure of the gifts of the Spirit and of Apostolic order—it pleased God, as at the first, to choose the weak things of the world, and things that were despised, yea, and things which in the eye of man had ceased to be. To our Scottish Church with its hierarchy, which had formerly consisted of two Archbishops and twelve Bishops, then reduced to four; with its pastoral charge, which had once comprehended the care of every parish in the land, then shrunk to little mere than a score or two of scattered congregations—yea, and at the very time when an act of the civil legislature had declared all ecclesiastical orders conferred by her to be null and void; at such a time, to the poor persecuted remnant of the Church in Scotland was this grace given, that she should impart to the United States, now no longer dependent upon England, the first seed of the Episcopate which England had withheld. Yes, the first bishop who set foot on the continent of North America, the first bishop who went forth to a foreign land bearing the full blessings of our reformed Church, was consecrated to his Apostolic office, not amid the solemn pomp and august ceremonial of an English minister, no, nor in the privacy of an episcopal palace, but in the obscurity of an upper chamber in a common dwelling-house in Aberdeen." [ Bishop of St. Andrews; Mending of the Nets, p.17 (ed. 1884).] If, as has sometimes been generously said, this noble act of faith and charity has afforded a new and signal illustration of our Lord's own words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," that does not make the act a whit less noble, nor diminish by one jot the obligation of undying gratitude on the part of those who received the gift it gave.
If we look at its immediate results, besides what has just been named, it assuredly gave an impulse to that action of the State in England, in consequence of which, within five years, three bishops of the English line were given to as many dioceses in the United States. It was the means, also, of joining in the American Episcopate the Scottish and the English lines of succession in a union that will endure while the world shall last. For though the prelate consecrated here ministered in only one consecration of a bishop after his return—that of the first Bishop of Maryland— yet, since that day, there has not been (and there can never be in time to come) a bishop in our American Episcopate, who, as he traces back his lineage through the network—for I surely need not say, here and now, that the succession is a network and not a chain of single links—will not find in it the name of that Bishop of Maryland, by whom he is connected with Seabury, and then, by him, with "the Catholic remainder of the Church of Scotland." Nor need one ask, nor could he have, if he did ask it, a nobler spiritual lineage than he has received in that double succession, which indeed becomes single again if we go back for a little more than another century.
Then, again, this deed of Christian charity did, no doubt, bring out from its obscurity into the light of day, the witnessing remnant of the ancient Church of Scotland, and was, perhaps, the first step towards the removal of those civil disabilities which had pressed her into the dust. How must the iron of suffering have entered into the soul of many a faithful priest in those dark days of trial, when, we are told, the clergy had given up the hope that any successors would come after them, and on the monument of one of them were written the despairing words, "Ultime Scotorum!" [ Epitaph by the Rev. J. Skinner on the tombstone of the Rev. Mr. Keith, Presbyter at Cruden: "Ultime Scotorum in Crudenanis, Keithe, Sacerdos."]
How strangely similar were the conditions of those who sought the Episcopate and those who courageously gave it in those days of doubt and darkness! How fitting it seems that, in the ordering of God's providence, one suffering Church, stripped of its worldly honors and its earthly wealth, should give to another, "scattered and peeled" and apparently on the verge of extinction, that deposit which it had maintained in the face of dangers that might well seem worse than death itself! They who have lived together under the shadows and in the sharing of life's tragedies and woes, know full well that there is no bond of union half so strong as the bond of common suffering; know full well that they whose hearts have touched each other only in hours of joy and gladness, can never be so bound together as those who have wept beside beds of death, or clasped each other's hands over open graves. Why should it not so be with bodies of men as with individuals? Above all, why should it not so be with sister Churches, bound together in the highest of all bonds? Was it not so here a century ago? When the kindly hand was outstretched here to help, when the loving word, carrying the very life of love, went across the ocean to those who were indeed "minished and brought low," was not the channel of Christian sympathy deepened, was not its flow made fuller and more strong by the conditions of which I have just spoken? And if it has pleased God, in His great mercy, to send brighter days, greater peace, better hopes to each of us, shall not the bond, once welded by suffering, still keep its strength? God grant it may! God grant that, till the Lord shall come to give His universal Church its final triumph, these Churches, so marvellously united, "may stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel, and in nothing terrified by adversaries."
It would be more than ungrateful, it would be inexcusable, to omit here the recognition of the agency by which, under God, it came to pass that there were in what had been the colonies of Great Britain, and were now independent States, those who sought the Episcopate as essential to the full organization of an autonomous Church. That agency is found in the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts—a society to which American Churchmen must always look with undying gratitude, for to its noble labors they largely owe all that they were when Seabury was sent upon his mission of faith, and much of what they enjoy today.
It was no fault of that Society that there was not, in America, an Episcopate before the war of the Revolution. Had the godly counsels and the strong appeals of the bishops, clergy, and faithful laity who shared in its plans and operations, been listened to, American Churchmen would have had no need to seek the Apostolic office outside the limits of their own country. This is not the time nor is this the place to consider, in detail, the reasons—if reasons in any proper sense of the word there were— why the Episcopate, so strongly desired, had not been given. But it is worthy of notice that where the labors of the Society had been the most abundant and its missionaries most numerous, there the need of the Episcopate was most deeply felt and the call for it was loudest. Indeed, the only two colonies from which any opposition to sending bishops to America before the Revolution came, were Maryland and Virginia; and to those colonies, because in them the maintenance of the clergy was otherwise provided for, the Society sent few, if any, missionaries.
No part of all the Western world received more of the Society's fostering aid than the New England colonies; and to none of them was more help extended than to the colony of Connecticut. From the day when the foundations of the Church were laid in that colony on to the outbreak of the Revolution, the benefactions that came from England were abundant and unceasing. With possibly a single exception, all the clergy in the colony were missionaries of the Society. They were also sons of the soil, who, because of convictions too strong to be resisted, went back to the Church from which their fathers had gone out, and in doing so incurred odium and reproach, scorn and contempt, the loss of much that gives earthly comfort and rejoicing, and sometimes the sundering of ties that seemed to be a part of life itself. They were taught, too, by the bitter experience of half a century, the difficulties and dangers attendant on a voyage to England to obtain Holy Orders; difficulties and dangers then so great that one in every five of all sent out for ordination perished by sickness or by shipwreck, and saw his native land no more. Theirs may be inglorious confessorships, unknown to or forgotten by men, but confessorships they are, and we cannot doubt that they find their place in the Book of God's remembrance.
It can cause no wonder that men thus trained and tried should, when the severance of the mother country and its colonies was complete, have turned their first thoughts to the means of perpetuating that stewardship "of the mysteries of God," which they had so hardly won; that they should have held that to be the first step, and refused to take another till they had taken that. For, indeed, if the Church is to be rightly perpetuated under the conditions of a normal growth, it can only be perpetuated according to the original and organic law of its existence. When He to Whom in His resurrection "all power was given in heaven and in earth," committed to the Apostolic Ministry the tradition of the Apostolic Doctrine, in that great baptismal formula which is alike the source and summary of the Catholic Faith, He joined two things together that man may never put asunder. He may try the separation if he will—he has tried it, alas! more than once—but the end, the inevitable end, has always been the loss of the Apostolic Doctrine.
Then, on the other hand, the gift of the Apostolic Ministry without the most wisely guarded guarantees that there shall be a steadfast continuance in the "doctrine of the Apostles, and in the breaking of bread, and the prayers," is a gift of more than doubtful value. Men seem to think today, that they can leave out what parts they please from the original and divine organism of the Church, and still work the rest at will. The attempt, believe me, is just as futile as it would be to undertake to deal in like fashion with one of those huge machines that work, all about us, with such life-like power, and attempt to make it do its work, when some portion of its complex mechanism had been removed. We cannot be too thankful for the merciful guiding that kept our fathers, a hundred years ago, from so fatal a mistake as that. For here, as well as in England, guarantees were demanded and given, so far as it was possible to give them, before the succession was communicated.
I turn to that venerable document known to us as the Concordate, one copy of which is preserved in the Episcopal archives here in Scotland, and its duplicate in America, and I read words which it is well to remember today: words which speak of the due maintenance "of the analogy of the common Faith once given to the Saints, and happily preserved in the Church of Christ"; which declare, in terms of unmistakable clearness, "that the spiritual authority and jurisdiction" of Christ's ministers "cannot be affected by any lay deprivation"; which provide, so far as provision could be made, for the full communion with the Church in Scotland of the newly consecrated bishop, his successors, and his diocese, a communion which, as this day's service so solemnly attests, has come to embrace not that single diocese alone, but the entire Church in the United States; words, finally, which pledge the bishop then sent forth, to endeavor, "by gentle methods of argument and persuasion," to bring about a substantial agreement between the two Churches, in "the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist—the principal bond of union among Christians, as well as the most solemn act of worship in the Christian Church." How that pledge was, under the manifest and wonderful leadings of God's providence, fulfilled, not for one diocese, but for a national Church, our American Book of Common Prayer declares and will declare in all coming time.
I have spoken, fathers and brethren, of the past, for to it our thoughts naturally and chiefly direct themselves today. Its grand venture of faith, the brave hearts that made it, the generous givers of the precious gift, the undaunted receiver of the gift who bore it across the ocean—for all he knew, to stormier seas than the Atlantic's billows—these fill up the foreground of the picture on which our eyes are resting. As I turn from it, and from the figures of those venerable prelates who stand foremost in it, I remember (and I repeat, speaking for generations that have passed away and for generations that are to come) the words that were sent to them from hearts that burned with grateful love: "Wherever the American Episcopal Church shall be mentioned in the world, may this good deed which they have done for us be spoken of for a memorial of them!"
If, however, there is a past for which the deepest thankfulness is due, there is also a present which we may not forget, for in it our thankfulness, if it is real, must culminate. What a change has a century wrought for us! How unlike is 1884 to 1784! I do not much believe, my brethren, in numbering the people. I am sure that any boastful or vain-glorious numbering is but an evil thing. But surely when "a little one" has "become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation," we may gratefully recognize the merciful guidance and blessing of the Lord, Who has "hastened it in his time." In 1784, we see one single bishop of our communion, and one only, outside the realm of Great Britain and Ireland; and him with an unformed diocese and a future on which rested more clouds than sunshine. In 1884 time would fail him who should undertake to read the roll of regions occupied and churches organized. An American statesman once said, in words that have been often quoted, that England's drum-beat never ceased as it passed around the world. We can say that our English Te Deum, with its "Day by day we magnify Thee," rolls round the world as well, in unceasing and ever-increasing volume.
Of the vast regions to which that solitary bishop went in 1785, there is no part or portion which is not now an organized diocese or a missionary jurisdiction, and the increase has been thirty, sixty, yea, an hundred-fold. Here the things that seemed ready to die have been so strengthened by Him "without Whom nothing is strong," that a bright and blessed present points to an even brighter and more blessed future; while, if we look to that great Church from which our successions ultimately come, we find her outgoings and advances limited only by the limits of the world itself. In the name of her Lord and King she has indeed taken "the heathen for His inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for His possession."
Shall we dare from such a past and such a present to look forward through the years of a coming century? Those years are in the hand of God, and what they may bring to us it is not for us to know, nor need we ask. But we do know this, and it is enough for us to know, that if these Churches, holding fast "the form of sound words," and "holding forth the word of life," shall rise to the full measure of their opportunities and duty, in sole reliance on the power of Him Who died and yet liveth for evermore; in services of holy worship; in the proclamation of the remission of sins in Jesus Christ; in the tradition of His holy sacraments; in faithful, loving ministries to the bodies and the souls of men; if they shall so strive, then they shall have a work given them to do in the latter days, before the view of which the heart dies down in awe, and the voice is hushed in unutterable thankfulness.
"Visions of glory, spare my aching sight;
Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul!"
One word remains to be uttered here—the word of love and gratitude to this venerated Scottish Church, from the far-off Western world:
"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces! For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will wish thee prosperity! Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good!"
A reception banquet was held on the afternoon of the same day, at which Bishop Williams replied to the toast of "The Church in America."
On the eighth day of October, a large congregation being assembled in St. Andrew's Church for the opening service of the Synod of the Bishops of the Scottish Church, at the close of the processional hymn, the Rev. William F. Nichols presented to the Bishop of Aberdeen the memorial Paten and Chalice, the latter bearing this inscription: [ The Chalice stands eleven inches high, and is of massive silver. The base is broad and heavily moulded. From above the base mouldings spring eight arched panels. The front one contains a crucifix, the cross and the figure of our Lord being in full relief. In the panel to the left are the arms of the See of Connecticut, resting on branches of oak. In the one to the right are the arms of the Bishop of Aberdeen, encircled by branches of the thistle. In the panel opposite that containing the crucifix are the emblems of St. Peter and St. Paul. The remaining four panels are filled with the emblems of the four Evangelists. From this part of the base rises a richly moulded plinth, supporting the lower shaft, which is worked in diaper tracery. The knop of the shaft is encircled with eight elaborately wrought bosses, ornamented with garnets and sapphires in gold settings. Above the knop the shaft has simpler treatment, being worked with quatrefoils in square panels, all in relief. From this rises the bowl of the chalice, which shows solid gilt, enriched with an outer cup of delicately chased silver work, divided into eight sections, to correspond with those of the stem and of the foot. The section above the crucifix shows the Alpha and Omega, entwined by passion-flowers. The next one to the left contains the IHS, entwined with the grape-vine. The next one to the right contains the X P, with sheaves of wheat. Beginning with the panel next to the right of this, the several ones are filled as follows:—the Greek cross with the thistle; next, the pelican with the rose of Sharon; next, the emblem of the Holy Trinity with the clover-leaf; next, the emblem of the Holy Ghost with olive branches; next, the crown of glory with palm branches. The Paten is enriched with a golden medallion on the rim, in the form of a vesica, which shows the Agnus Dei, executed in colored enamel.]
Connecticut to Scotland.
a Grateful Memorial before God
of the Episcopate and the Eucharistic Office
Transmitted by Bishops Kilgour, Petrie, and Skinner
to Seabury and the Church in America.
Think upon them, our God, for good,
according to all that they have done for this people.
In making the presentation, Mr. Nichols spoke as follows:
My Lord Bishop: It has been delegated to me by some of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Connecticut—not only those with whom it has been my privilege to share in the events of these ever-to-be-remembered days, but by many whose hearts are following us in all these services—to place in your hands this Chalice and Paten, and to read the explanatory address. By the happy foresight which has characterized the preparations for the centenary celebration, there is placed on the wall of this holy place a copy of that Concordate in which the three Bishops of your Scottish Church and the first Bishop of our American Church plighted their troth. It was indeed a "great mystery"; it spoke concerning Christ and His Church. As I sat in this chancel on Sunday last, by one of those coincidences which I believe may occur for the eye of thankful faith as well as for the eye of sentiment, the sunlight which bathed your beautiful city with its warmth, so shone its colors through that south chancel window that at the beginning of the service they fell athwart the Concordate hanging on the opposite wall. Then, beginning at that, as the service went on, and as the sun circled its daily course, when the time came for the Consecration-prayer, the light fell upon the sacred vessels of the altar. So the sunlight took its way from the Concordate which the exigencies and circumstances of that far-off time demanded, to the symbols of that perpetual concordate which exists in the one body of Christ—between the Head and the members, between the living members of that Body, between the living members and the members of that Body in Paradise. I could not but think that the brief course of the sunlight here might stand for the dial of the century gone. Exigencies and circumstances that are special, require special concordates. Both Churches then had them, and they framed that agreement. The century has led us around from those exigencies and circumstances to a condition of prosperity, in which the only thought need be of the supreme concordate in the Communion of the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May this Chalice and Paten, the symbols of the renewed troth of the Churches, be the symbols of all prosperity for both, as in the Master's work they enjoy "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Mr. Nichols then read the formal letter of presentation, as follows:
Diocese of Connecticut. July, 1884.
To the Bishop of Aberdeen, representing the Church of Scotland:
The Diocese of Connecticut has formally expressed, through its official representatives, its appreciation of the courageous and intelligent action of your predecessors one hundred years ago. But it has seemed to a few of the clergy and laity, who are confident that they represent herein the general feeling of our people, that a further memorial may be fittingly presented; and we beg you to accept, to keep, and to transmit to your successors, this Chalice and Paten, as a token of our gratitude to you and to God for the two great benefits which through you, in His providence, have come to us. Those benefits are the Episcopate and the Eucharistic Office—the former, to use the very words of your own Bishop Kilgour, "free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical;" the latter embodying features which are at once an expression and an earnest of those "catholic and primitive principles," both doctrinal and liturgical, for which the Church of Scotland has long been distinguished, and to which she has pledged the Church in Connecticut.
The gift which we offer, right reverend Sir, is great only in what it thus symbolizes and the uses to which it is consecrated. In these vessels the memorial before God will be presented, and from them the sacrament of life and unity will be dispensed. May that memorial be graciously received whensoever, by whomsoever, and for whatsoever offered. May that sacrament of unity bind together in one, us the children, with them the fathers who kept that which was entrusted to them, committing it only to faithful men, and who, having departed this life with the seal of faith, do now rest in peace.
And may the Lord accept the sacrifices and intercessions of His people everywhere, and speedily accomplish the number of His elect, that we, the living, together with them, the departed, may be made perfect in His glorious and everlasting kingdom.
Faithfully and affectionately yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the unity of His Church,
John J. McCook,
Wm. F. Nichols, Committee.
E. E. Beardsley, Chairman of the Meeting.
The Bishop of Aberdeen, in reply, said:
Right reverend father in God, my reverend brethren, and the whole Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, elect of God and precious, we receive these sacred vessels at your hands with such feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, both toward God who hath put this into your hearts, and toward yourselves, beloved in the Lord, as no utterance of our lips can ever express. In this beautiful Chalice and Paten, so graciously bestowed on us, we recognize, venerable father and dear brethren of the Church in Connecticut, the expression both of your faith toward God and of your love toward us. In this gift we behold the visible evidence of your faith in the promise of God that endureth from generation to generation: "When I see the blood I will pass over you," and your trust in the assurance of His Holy Word: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ?" And here, too, is the evidence of your love toward us, in that ye long that we should be "partakers with you in the One Bread and One Body; for we are all partakers of that One Bread." As we use these sacred gifts in our highest act of worship and nearest approach to God, we shall ever rejoice in the consciousness of your love toward us in the communion of saints, and that you share with us in the precious heritage of the great liturgy bequeathed to us by our fathers in the faith. Venerable father and dear brethren, these days of praise and thanksgiving to God and communion one with another, will assuredly leave their impression on the Church in America and Scotland for all eternity. Our Eucharistic worship today is surely blended with the same worship offered a hundred years ago by our fathers in God and your saintly predecessor in that humble upper chamber. May we who have knelt today in the unseen presence of our Divine Lord and Master, unite with them and with one another in the adoration of the unclouded glory of His visible presence for all eternity.
The Bishop of Aberdeen then proceeded with the Communion-service according to the English rite, being assisted by the Bishop of Edinburgh and the Bishop of Glasgow. The Paten and Chalice just presented were used in the consecration and administration of the sacred elements.
Divine Service being ended and the Synod having been duly constituted, after the Bishop of Connecticut had presented to the Synod an address from the Bishops of the American Church and a reply had been made by the Bishop of St. Andrews, presiding in the Synod, the Connecticut delegation presented the address from the Convention of their diocese, engrossed upon parchment, which was read by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, as follows:
to the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church: Health and Greeting in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Right Reverend Fathers:
The Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut, in Convention assembled, send to you, by the hands of faithful brethren, these presents, in glad remembrance that your predecessors in office were moved, a hundred years ago, to raise and consecrate to the Order of Bishops the Reverend Samuel Seabury, Doctor in Divinity. We do honor to their fidelity to the Church of Christ and to the purity of their motives when they declared that they had "no other object in view but the interest of the Mediator's Kingdom, no higher ambition than to do their duty as messengers of the Prince of Peace." By their act we received "the blessings of a free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical Episcopacy," and our hitherto "inorganized Church" became duly equipped for the work it has since done and the witness it has borne.
The language of the clergy of Connecticut, when they acknowledged on the sixteenth day of September, Anno Domini 1785, with "the warmest sentiments of gratitude and esteem," the pastoral letter addressed to them as a sequel to the consecration of their Bishop and the Concordate, may well be called to mind once more: "Greatly are we indebted to the venerable fathers for their kind and Christian interposition, and we heartily thank God that He did, of His mercy, put it into their hearts to consider and relieve our necessity. Our utmost exertions shall be joined with those of our Bishop to preserve the unity of faith, doctrine, discipline, and uniformity of worship with the Church from which we derived our Episcopacy, and with which it will be our praise and happiness to keep up the most intimate intercourse and communion."
At that time the Catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland and the Church in this new world were in the dust. The one was suffering from public disabilities, and the other lay prostrate from the effects of war; its churches were dismantled, its congregations scattered, and but a remnant of its clergy and people could be found to build up again the broken walls. To-day all things wear a new look. You are working with better and brighter hopes than your predecessors could possibly have; and we can assure you that the expectations of our honored forefathers in the faith have been wonderfully fulfilled, so that the Church in Connecticut has become "a fair and fruitful branch of the Church universal." Our clergy have increased tenfold, and our parishes have acquired both strength and public influence, and we stand today upon the old foundations and perpetuate the love of our early clergy and people for primitive truth and Apostolic order. The generations after us will never forget the debt of gratitude due to the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church for their helping hands in the day of our weakness and need; the bond of Christian fellowship sealed in the Concordate by your predecessors and our first Bishop will continue to be recognized and cherished, as it has been by our fathers.
Invoking the Divine blessing upon the Scottish Episcopal Church, and asking your prayers and benediction, we are, right reverend fathers, your dutiful servants in Christ Jesus.
In behalf of the Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut:
Edwin Harwood, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven;
Samuel Fermor Jarvis, M. A., Rector of Trinity Church, Brooklyn;
Samuel Hart, M. A., Presbyter and Professor in Trinity College, Hartford;
William T. Minor, LL.D., Lay Delegate, St. John's Parish, Stamford;
John C. Hollister, M. A., Lay Delegate, St. Paul's Parish, New Haven.
Dated at New London, June 10th, A. D. 1884.
The Bishop of St. Andrews read the following reply of the Synod to the address from the Diocese of Connecticut:
To the Right Reverend John Williams, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Connecticut, the Reverend the Clergy, and the faithful Laity of the Diocese, from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland in Synod assembled: Love and greeting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To receive any representatives of the American Church today and to accord them a hearty welcome must be a cause of sincere satisfaction to us; but in greeting you, dear brother, whom God has set over Seabury's own diocese of Connecticut, and those who accompany you as representing your flock, we experience a peculiar pleasure. For giving us the happiness of seeing you here today we thank you sincerely, and we thank the faithful of your diocese for providing that their Bishop, in now visiting the scene of his heroic predecessor's consecration, should not be unattended by some of their own number, whose presence should be expressive of the interest which they themselves feel in the event which we are commemorating, and also (as we are glad to believe) of their love towards the Church which gave them their first bishop.
"Connecticut," said the saintly Bishop Alexander Jolly in his letter to the Bishop of Maryland in 1816, "has been a word of peculiar endearment to me since the happy day when I had the honour and joy of being introduced to the first ever-memorable bishop of that highly favored see, whose name ever excites in my heart the warmest veneration."
The Scottish Church, dear brother, finds in these words a true expression of her own feelings—feelings which the visit which we have "the honour and joy" of receiving today from so worthy a successor of Connecticut's first bishop, will serve to intensify for the future. You will the more readily therefore believe, brother, that the words of gratitude towards our Church, which, in your own name and in the name of your diocese, have just been spoken, must be in the highest degree gratifying to us.
We cordially unite with you in your expressions of thankfulness to Almighty God for the work which he has vouchsafed to carry out through the agency of those branches of His Church which you and we respectively represent.
We rejoice to hear of the vigorous life which the Church in your diocese has manifested in the remarkable growth which the past century has seen it make. We pray that it may continue to receive God's blessing in rich abundance, and bring forth much fruit to His glory.
We have a lively sense at the same time of our Lord's great mercy to ourselves in lifting us up from our poor and despised estate, in bringing us to comparative honour, and comforting us on every side.
We trust that through His grace the work, still future, for which He has been training and strengthening us through so many generations, may be thoroughly and faithfully done by us and by those who will come after us.
You allude approvingly to the Concordate drawn up and signed by Bishop Seabury on the one part and his consecrators on the other, which was, in the language of its framers, to serve as a "bond of union between the Catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland and the now rising Church in the State of Connecticut," and you assure us that it "shall continue to be maintained and cherished by you, as it has been by your fathers."
We have heard with gratification that the desire to be closely allied in the matter of similarity of offices with our own Church, which has prevailed in your diocese ever since the American liturgy was, under your first Bishop's influence, enriched by some of the most valuable of its present features, is still strongly felt by you.
That for all time to come we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify the one and only God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is our hearty prayer and our confident hope.
To His love and blessing we commend you.
Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane;
Henry Cotterill, Bishop of Edinburgh;
Wm. S. Wilson, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway;
Hugh W. Jermyn, Bishop of Brechin;
Arthur G. Douglas, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney;
J. R. A. Chinnery-Haldane, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles;
For the Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, Primus, Robert a. Eden, M. A., Commissary."
[Seal of the Primus attached.]
Before the synod proceeded to business, the Bishop of Aberdeen presented to the Bishop of Connecticut a Pastoral Staff, the gift of Scotch Churchmen to him and his successors in office, with these words: [ The Staff is of ebony, the upper part being of silver parcel gilt. The crook proper has for its central subject our Lord's charge to St Peter, who kneels at the Saviour's feet. The pierced side of our Lord is significantly seen, as the drapery falls open. A vine is growing up behind Him bearing grapes (expressed by precious stones), and gathered at His feet are sheep and lambs. The ornamental work of the crook takes the form of thistle-leaves—in allusion to the Scotch origin of the gift—and the bossy flowers are expressed by cut amethysts. The crook is hexagonal in plan; the tower which surmounts the canopied niches immediately below the crook also takes the same shape, and accommodates the six figures introduced. This hexagonal tower has Gothic tracery, with pinnacles, pillars, and canopies, enriched with cairngorms. The figures (St. John, St. Andrew, St. Ninian, St. Augustine of Canterbury, Primus Kilgour, and Bishop Seabury) represented in the niches, are intended to illustrate the main points in the Episcopal succession and the characteristics of the Scottish Church. The tower is supported upon a carved capital with six amethysts between repousse oak-leaves, and is jointed to a circular boss surrounded with four vertical bands enriched with cairngorms, while between the bands are carbuncles set off by filigree work. There are also silver bosses at the joints of the ebony portions of the staff.]
No words of mine can convey to you the feelings of gratitude which animated the hearts of all Scottish Churchmen when they heard of your remarkable kindness in coming to our shores at this time to celebrate with us our service of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessing He has bestowed upon the work of our fathers. As a small testimony to their venerable father and to the Church of his diocese, they ask Bishop Williams to accept this pastoral staff. May I point out that there are portrayed on this staff figures which represent the history of the Church in this land, and therefore a great chapter in the history of the American Church. You will find on the staff the figure of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland; you will find also the figure of St. John, reminding you that Christianity reached Scotland from Eastern sources; you will find the figure of St. Ninian, uniting the Scottish succession and ministry with the Celtic Church; and you will find the figure of St. Augustine, signifying that act of brotherly love and communion which we received from the English Church, restoring to us the Episcopacy which in troublous times had been lost; you will also find the figure of that Primus of the Church who was the chief consecrating bishop of your venerable Seabury, and you will find also the figure of Seabury himself. In the head of this staff you will recognize the figure of the great Head of the Church giving His divine commission to St. Peter and to all others ordained and consecrated to the same sacred office: ‘Feed my sheep; feed my lambs.' I will rejoice to think that this staff, which you and your successors will carry on your confirmations and visitations and other episcopal acts, by reminding you of the sanctuary where we have just now held our great service to God, and of the figure of the Good Shepherd which stands over its altar, will not only recall to you the pastoral work in which it is your high office and privilege ever to minister, but will encourage you to seek also the blessing and the favour of the chief Bishop and Pastor of souls. In now presenting you with this emblem of your sacred office, as I have the privilege of doing on behalf of the Scottish Church, I may mention that many of the offerings that have been given towards it have been the pence of the very poorest in the land.
Bishop Williams, in acknowledging the presentation, said:
There are times and things concerning which words utterly fail and must fail to give utterance to the feelings of the heart, and this, let me say, is one of those times—a day that I can never forget, a day for which—though most unworthy of what has been given me—I must always feel the devoutest thankfulness to Almighty God. A hundred years ago you gave my great predecessor here in Scotland the office of Bishop in the Church of God, and now this day, a hundred years after, in the fulness of your loving hearts and kindly remembrances of that great act, you give Bishop Seabury's successor the sacred symbol of the same high office in the Church. I only wish it were given to worthier hands; but I can pledge myself to this, that to my successors as they follow me year after year, and, if God so wills, century after century, the staff will be handed down as a most sacred deposit and memorial. It will drop from many a hand before another hundred years go by and another gathering takes place here in this place of sacred memories, but the office of which the staff is the symbol—that office, I thank God, never dies. Men pass away, the office lives on; and though many hands that shall have held this staff may by that time be folded in the sleep of death, I trust that when the hundred years come round again, my successor may come here, as I, Bishop Seabury's successor, have come, to offer to the Bishops of the Scottish Church, to its clergy, and its faithful laity, the assurance of his deep love and undying gratitude that they were bound together in one common bond of one holy faith, and in a common love of one living Lord and of each other. I trust that that day will show the whole world, as this day has done, "how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
On the afternoon of the same day a conference was held in the Albert Hall, at which the Rev. Dr. Beardsley read the following paper:
Seabury As a Bishop.
A great deal has been said within the last week—never too much, I trust—of that grand man who left the shores of America a century ago, and came to the mother country in quest of a spiritual gift which, for reasons of state, was refused him by the Bishops of the Church of England.
In the providence of God, and under instructions from the clergy of Connecticut, who selected and sent him over, he found his way to Aberdeen, and was here duly raised to the Apostolic office, and so became the head of an anxious and long-waiting body, as well as the first Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
The many blessings which have flowed from this act of consecration by the Scottish Bishops have been recognized and recounted again and again, and it is not my purpose to dwell on them now; but rather to speak of that part of the life of Seabury which covers the exercise of his Episcopal office.
But before I proceed to do this, let me step back for a few moments under the arches of history, and make two or three references to show that our Church in America is indebted to Scotland, and especially to Aberdeen, for other favors besides the gift of Episcopacy. You gave us men who were great historic pioneers in our ecclesiastical existence. The Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was chartered in 1701, and for three-quarters of a century its chief field of labor was in New England. This fact may be ignored, but it forms an important and salient feature in its early history; and what is remarkable, the very first missionary sent out by the Society to the American colonies was a native of Aberdeen, George Keith, a school companion of the celebrated Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, whom he mentions in his "History of his own Time." And then that wonderfully numerous tribe or family, which always has its representatives in every Christian country of the wide world, furnished us William Smith, born on the banks of the river Dee, not far from this city, a man with glaring imperfections of character, but a scholar and a divine, who knelt side by side with Seabury in the chapel of Fulham Palace when they were admitted to Holy Orders, and who subsequently became a conspicuous actor in the organization and establishment of our American Church, having been the first President of the House of Deputies, and having guided that body to concurrence with the House of Bishops in revising the Book of Common Prayer and accepting the Scotch Communion-office. We might not have had this office in its present shape had he not risen to favor its adoption when signs of dissatisfaction and a disposition to reject it appeared.
Still again we are indebted to another native of Aberdeenshire, known in our history as William Smith the younger, who went to America soon after the acknowledgment of American Independence, being in Holy Orders which he received in Scotland, and, having served the Church for a time in other States of our Republic, appeared in Connecticut, and held important educational and parochial positions in that diocese. The office for the Institution or Induction of Ministers into parishes or churches, set forth in our Book of Common Prayer, was compiled by him. He was a man of much learning, ardent temperament, and quick impulses. He possessed singular versatility of talents, was a composer of church music, and a constructor of church organs. He was a pioneer in our country in chanting, and did us good service in overcoming or diminishing the popular love for a Puritan style of metrical psalm-singing.
Men of this stamp went to America when our Church was in, or passing through, a broken and disordered condition, and we have reason to be thankful to them for the aid they rendered us when we were sorely in need. I believe we are thankful. I believe there is a growing interest among our people in the Scottish Church, an increasing desire that Churches of the one faith— English, Scotch, Irish, and American—should have a closer bond of fellowship, and rejoice more heartily in each other's prosperity. It is a good thing that we have come together on this centennial occasion and mingled our congratulations. As we have met here face to face, we have learned to respect ourselves more, and, I hope, to love and respect each other more.
But let me leave these references, and draw your thoughts around Seabury in his Episcopal character. On the morning of a bleak November Sunday in 1784 we enter an "upper room" in Longacre, built and fitted for Divine worship, and find there three of the four bishops then administering the dioceses of the Scottish Church; and after prayers and a suitable sermon, they proceed to consecrate this self-sacrificing servant of God to the Apostolic office. Though the penal laws enacted against the clergy of the Scottish Church had not yet been repealed, their edge had worn away, or they had ceased altogether to be enforced, so that the service was in no manner secret. It was witnessed by a number of respectable clergymen, and a large body of laity, "on which occasion all testified great satisfaction." As the letter of Consecration reads: Presentibus tam e Clero quam e Populo Testibus idoneis. The occasion was a memorable and particularly solemn one. Seabury himself said of it: "It was the most solemn day of all my life—God grant I may never forget it."
He preached in the afternoon of the day of his consecration, and his earnestness and manner of address, accompanied with gesticulations, which appear not to have been common in Scotland at that period, made a favorable impression. On his return to London, he stopped at Edinburgh, where his friend and fellow-sufferer in the trials of the American Revolution, Dr. Myles Cooper, with others, welcomed him, and gave him hearty congratulations on the accomplishment of his mission. From this city, he wrote to the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, vicar of Epsom in Surrey, who had interested himself in his application, to acquaint him, as he had promised to do, with the success of his visit to Scotland. "The Church in Connecticut," said he, "has only done her duty in endeavoring to obtain the Episcopacy for herself, and I have only done my duty in carrying her endeavors into execution. Political reasons prevented her application from being complied with in England. It was natural in the next instance to apply to Scotland, whose Episcopacy, though now under a cloud, is the very same in every ecclesiastical sense with the English."
He had grown up and lived hitherto under the influence of the highest veneration for the Church of England, and his attachment to her was still strong, notwithstanding he considered it bad policy that his application for consecration had been rejected by the English Bishops. He began to fear, however, that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel might cease to aid him, which would be a result to be deplored for other than pecuniary reasons. "Should the Society itself," said he, "be obliged to take such a step, though I shall be sorry for it and hurt by it, I shall not be dejected. If my father and mother forsake me, if the governors of the Church and the Society discard me, I shall still be that humble pensioner of Divine Providence which I have been through my whole life. God, I trust, will take me up, continue His goodness to me, and bless my endeavors to serve the cause of His infant Church in Connecticut. I trust that it is not the loss of 50 pounds per annum that I dread—though that is an object of some importance to a man who has nothing—but the consequences that must ensue, the total alienation of regard and affection."
His path was not yet cleared of trials and perplexities, for on reaching London he found those high in authority so dissatisfied with the step he had taken that they pronounced it precipitate. "Since my return from Scotland," said he in his first pastoral letter to the clergy of Connecticut, "I have seen none of the bishops, but I have been informed that the step I have taken has displeased the two Archbishops, and it is now a matter of doubt whether I shall be continued on the Society's list. The day before I set out on my northern journey I had an interview with each of the Archbishops, when my design was avowed, so that the measure was known, though it has made no noise. My own poverty is one of the greatest discouragements I have. Two years' absence from my family, and expensive residence here, have more than expended all I had. But in so good a cause, and of such magnitude, something must be risked by somebody. To my lot it has fallen; I have done it cheerfully, and despair not of a happy issue."
All his apprehensions in regard to aid were realized, though he wrote a most admirable letter to the Venerable Society giving a concise history of his mission to England, and making a pathetic appeal for future remembrance and consideration. After a delay of two months, it was acknowledged by the Secretary without recognizing his official character, being addressed "To the Rev. Dr. Seabury, New London, Connecticut." He was told that his case was comprehended under the general rule, that the charter would not allow the Society to "employ any missionaries except in the plantations, colonies, and factories belonging to the Kingdom of Great Britain."
Bishop Seabury received from the British Government 50 pounds per annum half-pay as a chaplain in the King's American regiment during the War of the Revolution; and a few of his fast friends in England— among them Dr. Horne, then Dean of Canterbury, Rev. Jonathan Boucher, and William Stevens, Esq.—associated themselves together and engaged to send him annually 50 pounds from the date of his arrival in Connecticut. This engagement was faithfully kept to the day of his death, and was an equivalent for the stipend which had been withdrawn by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
His preparations for returning to America were now completed, and early in March, 1785, he embarked in a ship commanded by Captain Dawson, which sailed from London for Halifax. His main object in going by the way of Nova Scotia was to see the situation of that part of his family then resident in that neighborhood. He is recorded as officiating at Annapolis Royal, April, 1785, and was, therefore, the first bishop of our Church who preached in the Dominion of Canada. Mention is also made of his preaching several Sundays in St. John, New Brunswick, where a daughter with her husband was living at the time.
He landed at Newport, Rhode Island, after a voyage of three months, including his stay in Canada, Monday, June 20th; and the next Sunday he preached in Trinity Church in that place, the first sermon of an American bishop in the United States, from the text (Hebrews xii. I, 2): "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith."
More than half a century prior to this, a great dignitary of the Church of England, Dean Berkeley, after a voyage of nearly five months from Gravesend, arrived at the same port, and preached many times in the same church, which is still standing. The missions of these men had many points of resemblance; but while one, after a trial of more than two years and a half, failed to accomplish his heroic object, and returned to the land of his birth to be honored with a mitre in the see of Cloyne, the other was blessed in his work, and lived to behold the Church in America united in the adoption of a revised liturgy, and settled upon the old "foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone."
The next step of Bishop Seabury was to arrange for a meeting with his clergy, and he wrote immediately to the Rev. Mr. Jarvis, who had acted as their secretary, and invited him to New London to consult with him on the time and place. It was held in Middletown on the 2d of August, 1785—a meeting full of joy to both parties— and the clergy, in their address of congratulation and formal recognition, said among other things: "We, in the presence of Almighty God, declare to the world, that we do unanimously accept, receive, and recognize you to be our Bishop, supreme in the government of the Church, and in the administration of all ecclesiastical offices. And we do solemnly engage to render you all that respect, duty, and submission, which we believe do belong and are due to your high office, and which, we understand, were given by the presbyters to their bishop in the primitive Church, while in her native purity she was unconnected with and uncontrolled by any secular power."
The Bishop opened his reply to this address with hearty thanks to the clergy for their kind congratulations on his safe return, and cordially united with them in their joy for the accomplishment of the important business which he had been excited to undertake. His first ordination was held on this occasion, and steps were taken to make such changes in the liturgy as might be necessary to adapt it to the use of the Church in the new civil relations. But what added to the interest and significance of the occasion was the charge which he delivered to the clergy, so valuable both in its teachings and its connection with American Episcopacy. The three points which he enlarged upon in it were the obligations they were under to be very careful of "the doctrines which they preached from the pulpit or inculcated in conversation"; to be cautious about giving recommendations to candidates for Holy Orders, whose moral character, learning, and abilities were not only to be exactly inquired into, but their good temper, prudence, diligence, and everything by which their usefulness in the ministry might be affected. "A clergyman," said he, "who does no good always does hurt; there is no medium." The third point of the charge was upon the necessity of immediate attention to that old and sacred rite handed down by the primitive Church, the laying-on of hands in Confirmation—a rite which, for want of the proper officer to administer it, had hitherto been unused in the American Church.
Seabury had the double work of a bishop and a parish minister, being rector of the church in New London, and meeting its demands with the aid of one of his newly-ordained deacons. His entrance upon the public duties of his Episcopal office in Connecticut had been looked forward to with much curiosity and some prejudice by those outside of the Church. The old Puritan dread of a hierarchy, instilled into the popular mind before the independence of the Colonies, still lingered, and helped to foster the expectation that he would assume great dignity, and appear in a degree of external splendor. There was disappointment in this respect when he began the visitation of his diocese in the simplest and most primitive manner, riding on horseback or in a sulky over rough and circuitous roads, and through regions sparsely inhabited. A plain yeoman, who had never seen a bishop in his robes, and knew not how he would appear in officiating, took an early opportunity to gratify his curiosity and attend a service where he was to preach. The next morning a neighbor, who had not the boldness to follow his example, met him, and asked him what he thought of Bishop Seabury. "Was he proud?" he inquired. "Proud! Bless you, no!" was the reply. "Why, he preached in his shirt-sleeves!"
Beyond the labor of regulating and settling the Church in Connecticut upon right principles, Bishop Seabury was especially anxious that the whole Church in the United States should be so guided as to prevent any division in government, doctrine, and discipline. A Convention was about to be held in Philadelphia to adopt an ecclesiastical constitution and make application for bishops in the English line of succession; and he asked, through Dr. Smith, and renewed the expression of his sentiments in a letter to Dr. (afterwards Bishop) White a few days later, that that body would reconsider certain measures which it had hastily adopted, and which seemed to indicate a forgetfulness that "the government, sacraments, faith, and doctrines of the Church are fixed and settled." Among his words of wisdom and kindness to Dr. Smith were these: "My ground is taken, and I wish not to extend my authority beyond its present limits. But I do most earnestly wish to have our Church in all the States so settled that it may be one Church, united in government, doctrine, and discipline—that there may be no divisions among us—no opposition of interests—no clashing of opinions. And permit me to hope that you will at your approaching Convention so far recede in the points I have mentioned as to make this practicable. Your Convention will be large and very much to be respected. Its determinations will influence many of the American States, and posterity will be materially affected by them. These considerations are so many arguments for calm and cool deliberation. Human passions and prejudices, and, if possible, infirmities, should be laid aside. A wrong step will be attended with dreadful consequences. Patience and prudence must be exercised; and should there be some circumstances that press hard for a remedy, hasty decisions will not mend them. In doubtful cases they will probably have a bad effect."
The action of the Convention in setting forth what is known in American ecclesiastical history as "The Proposed Book" only made him adhere more resolutely to the convictions of his intelligent mind; and his clergy stood by him, and supported him in the sound principles which he maintained. "Depend not on rumors," said one of them, writing to a friend; "the clergy in Connecticut are well pleased with their bishop, and will run the risk of a disunion with the Southern gentry rather than forsake him, if he will stay with us. We hope, however, better things than that." And better things did come to pass. Attempts to cast discredit upon the validity of his consecration, initiated and persisted in mainly by those opposed to him on political grounds, were met in a manly and Christian spirit, and he took the necessary steps to frustrate them without using harsh words or doing more than state simple facts. His second and last formal Charge to his clergy, delivered September, 1786, whether considered in reference to the unbelief of the times, or to the movement of the clergy and laity in the Southern States to revise and alter the liturgy and government of the Church, is a production of remarkable forecast and wisdom. At this time he set forth a Communion-office, agreeably to the terms of the Concordate made with the Scottish bishops, which gradually went into use in the diocese, and traces of this particular office lingered in Connecticut for half a century. When the union of the Church in all the States was consummated in 1789, and the first real General Convention held in that year, consisting of a House of Bishops and a House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, entered upon a review of the Book of Common Prayer, the proposition to insert the Scottish form of consecration was accepted and approved, the words only "That they may become the Body and Blood of Thy most dearly beloved Son," being omitted, and those in the English office substituted.
There were now three bishops in the American Church, and efforts were made to bring them together in the consecration of a fourth, but without avail. Bishops White and Provoost considered themselves under an implied obligation not to join in any consecration until there should be the actual number of three in the English line of succession. Provoost was absent from the Convention of 1789, when the Prayer–Book was revised, and Seabury, being the senior, was made the President of the Upper House. He and Bishop White spent no time in speeches, but looked carefully at each point as it came into view. With minds and characters differently constituted and moulded, they were just the men to be brought together in such an emergency. One was frank and fearless in adhering to his settled convictions, and resolute in upholding the faith and preserving the ancient landmarks of the Church, but not so self-willed and tenacious of his opinions that he could not gracefully relinquish them where no essential principle was involved. The other had a less rigid temperament, and from natural kindness of heart, and perhaps personal inclination, he might have been led without this check to yield to the pressure of circumstances at the expense of a true conservatism. Bishop White, however, was not more gentle and generous than capable of appreciating the character of his Episcopal brother; and the testimony which he bore long years after was that he "had ever retained a pleasing recollection of the interviews of that period, and of the good sense and Christian temper of the person with whom he was associated."
In 1792 another General Convention was held, and Bishop Seabury preached the sermon, which was printed by the request of both Houses, and glowed with the true spirit of Christian love, with that perfect and comprehensive charity which tends to preserve the peace and unity of the Church under all possible circumstances.
By this time James Madison had been sent over and consecrated, in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace, Bishop of Virginia; and thus the question of having three bishops in America of the English succession before proceeding to consecrate, was put to rest.
The Church in Maryland elected the Rev. Dr. Thomas John Claggett its bishop, and deputies from that State appeared with him at this General Convention, and, with the necessary documents in hand, presented him to the House of Bishops, "requesting that his consecration might be expedited." It was a movement intended to unite Episcopalians more closely together by blending the two lines of succession and for ever preventing the possibility of a question arising in the American Church as to the relative validity of the English and Scotch Episcopacy. For the application to consecrate Dr. Claggett was not made to those only who received their authority in the Chapel at Lambeth, but the whole four were requested to join in the act, which was solemnized in Trinity Church, New York, Monday, September 17, 1792; and from that day not a bishop has been consecrated in this Church who cannot claim the succession, in part at least, through the Scottish Episcopate.
An incident connected with the consecration ought not to be withheld here, for it shows the man and his Christian spirit. It had been agreed at the last General Convention that the eldest bishop present—to be reckoned from his consecration—should be President of the House, and this rule, if unchanged, would have left Seabury to preside at the consecration. But the agreement seemed to be displeasing to Bishops Provoost and Madison, and it was proposed by them that the presidency should go by rotation, beginning from the north, which would take it away from him and give it to Provoost. "I had no inclination," says Seabury, "to contend who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore readily consented to relinquish the presidency into the hands of Bishop Provoost. I thank God for His grace on this occasion, and beseech Him that no self-exaltation or envy of others may ever lead me into debate and contention, but that I may ever be willing to be the least when the peace of His Church requires it."
Great duties were now resting upon him, for besides Connecticut he virtually had the oversight of all the Episcopal parishes in New England; and in 1790 those in Rhode Island met in Convention and formally declared him to be the bishop of the Church in that State. This necessitated long journeys and long absences from his home, and the only compensation for lack of speed and comfort in the modes of conveyance at that period was the cheerful hospitality which everywhere awaited him. In moving about from place to place he was the Christian bishop and the agreeable companion as well. His familiarity with subjects outside of theology, and his ready retort upon those who attempted now and then to draw the Church or his office into ridicule, were pleasant features of his life, treasured and handed down to us by the generation to which he belonged.
On the occasion of his first visit to Boston he called on Dr. Mather Byles, then living in retirement, who, though a Congregational divine, was yet a sturdy loyalist during the Revolution, and had a son who entered the ministry of the Church of England and was proscribed and banished for entertaining the political views of his father. Dr. Byles was a noted wit, and so ready with his puns and sarcasms that seldom did anyone try to match him in this line without coming off the worse for the conflict. When Seabury paid him the compliment of a visit, he received him very cordially, and said, with a mixture of irony: "I am happy to see in my old age a bishop on this side the Atlantic, and I hope you will not refuse to give me the right hand of fellowship." To which the Bishop replied: "As you are a left-handed brother, I think fit to give you my left hand," which he accordingly did. The conversation soon turned upon the general subject of the Church, and it being St. Mark's day, and public service as usual, the doctor inquired: "Why is it that you churchmen still keep up the old Romish practice of worshipping saints?" "We do not worship saints," was the quick reply; "we only thank God that the Church has had such worthy advocates, and pray Him to give us hearts and strength to follow their example." "Aye," exclaimed the other, "I know you are fond of traditions; but I trust we have now many good saints here in our Church, and, for my part, I would rather have one living saint than half-a-dozen dead ones." "Maybe so," rejoined the Bishop, "for I suppose you are of the same mind with Solomon, who said that ‘a living dog is better than a dead lion.'"
Enough has been said in this paper to show the admirable spirit of Seabury all through his Episcopate. "Forgetting those things which were behind, he reached forth to those before"; and if assailed for the part he took in the war of the Revolution, he let his conscientious pursuit of what he believed to be right at the time pass into history without apology or vindication. He aimed to promote peace among his brethren, and was lenient in dealing with their prejudices. One venerable presbyter of his diocese, supported by his people, was reluctant to adopt the revised Prayer–Book, and he wrote him a kind letter, and said in it: "The question is not which book is the best in itself, but which will best promote the peace and unity of the Church. Such was the temper of the people to the southward, that unity could not be had with the old book. Is not, then, the unity of the whole Church through the States a price sufficient to justify the alterations which have been made, supposing (and in this I believe you will join with me) that there is no alteration made but what is consistent with the analogy of the Christian faith? Let me, therefore, entreat you as a father to review this matter, and I have no doubt but that you will join with your brethren, and walk by the same rule in your public ministrations. This will rejoice their hearts, and mine also. May God be your director in all things, and grant that we may meet together in His own heavenly kingdom."
Signs of failing health began to appear, and symptoms of a paralytic nature came upon him, without seriously interrupting his duties. His sound and vigorous constitution, and his unimpaired mental faculties, afforded encouragement to believe that his life might be prolonged for years. This was in 1795. Late in the month of February of the next year, "Mr. Jarvis of Middletown was sitting before the fire," so says an eye-witness, "his wife near him, engaged in some domestic employment, and his little son playing about the room. A messenger entered with a letter, sealed with black wax, and handed it to Mr. Jarvis in silence. He opened it, and his hand shook like an aspen-leaf. His wife, in great alarm, hastened to him, and his son crept between his knees and looked up inquiringly into his face. He could not speak for some moments. At last he said, slowly and convulsively: ‘Bishop Seabury is dead.'"
In the evening of Thursday, the 25th of February, he walked with his daughter to the house of one of his wardens. He complained, when there, of an extreme pain in his breast, and at the moment of rising and retiring from the tea-table, fell in an apoplectic fit, and expired in forty minutes after entering the house.
He was buried from the church on Sunday; and this circumstance, and the impediments of travelling at that season of the year, joined with the few facilities for conveying intelligence, prevented the clergy of the diocese from gathering in mourning and sorrow around his grave. A single clergyman attended his funeral and preached a sermon.
Thus one who was a little more than eleven years a bishop, and who has filled the American Church and your Scottish Church with the memory of his worth, rises and stands before us in history today. What would he have thought and said, if he could have cast his vision forward a century, and comprehended the contrast between the gathering in the upper room in Longacre and the vastly greater gathering here now, to express devout thankfulness for an act which has been blessed of God to the good of so many souls! From the then poor see of Connecticut, to which he was going in faith and hope, have come his third successor in that see and a company of clerical brethren, to represent its present strength and zeal, and at the same time to show that we keep ever fresh in our remembrance the gift that we received, and are glad to join with others in congratulating you most heartily on the prospect of yet brighter days for your own Scottish Church.
Professor George Grub, LL.D., then read a paper on The Relations of the American and Scottish Churches; after which Bishop Williams and others spoke.
The exercises of the commemoration were concluded with a large and enthusiastic meeting in the evening at the Music Hall.
After his return to Connecticut, the Bishop received from the Clergy and Trustees of St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, a letter, beautifully engrossed upon parchment and illuminated, in the following words:
The Clergy and Trustees of St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, to the Right Reverend John Williams, D.D., Bishop of Connecticut. Right Reverend Father in God:
It would have given us unfeigned pleasure, as the representatives of the congregation in which your great predecessor was consecrated and in which the centenary commemoration of that happy event was celebrated, to have expressed to you and your accompanying delegates, on the occasion of your memorable visit in October, the pride with which we cherish the links that bind us to the Church of America. Sensible, however, of the incessant demands made upon your time on every day of the festival, we postponed the expression of our feelings until the approach of Christmas, when we might add to the salutations of the season our congratulations upon your safe arrival in your own diocese, a prosperous termination of your visit to Scotland for which we both publicly prayed and gave thanks to Almighty God.
Right Reverend Father, we beg you now to accept the assurance of veneration and respect with which your presence inspired us, and of gratitude for your fatherly counsel and encouragement to us and our fellow-churchmen; and we further pray you to receive the accompanying photographs of St. Andrew's, to remind you of a church so closely associated with the history of your own See.
We beg to subscribe ourselves, Right Reverend Father,
Your faithful servants in Christ,
J. M. Danson, M. A., Incumbent of St. Andrew's;
Robert Mackay, M. A., Curate;
James Chivas, Church-warden and Canonical Lay Representative;
James Thomson, Church-warden and Trustee;
R. B. Horne, Trustee and Lay Representative;
H. T. Paterson, Trustee;
Alex'r Walker, Trustee;
Jas. Turreff, Trustee;
James Taylor, Secretary.
Sit Dominus Deus Noster Nobiscum, Sicut Fuit Cum Patribus Nostris.