Project Canterbury



The Presence of God in his Church


















Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2010


THE Author of the following sermon, in complying with the request for its publication, practises the courage which he has recommended to his brethren. For he foresees that it may involve him in what he has always sought to avoid--Theological Controversy. The two doctrines of Apostolic succession and the Real-presence, are in his view inseparably united. The latter gives to the former a life and power which singly it could not possess; but while the Apostolic succession has been so frequently discussed as to have produced a general acquiescence in its truth among all who believe in the Divine Institution of Episcopacy, yet the Real-presence, from a false and perverse explanation of it is to many a subject of conscientious doubt and fear. Since the invention of the dogma of Transubstantiation, its advocates have uniformly attempted to confound it with the Real-presence; and hence it has been considered as confined only to the Eucharist. A more enlarged view will show that it belongs to Baptism as well; and this will effectually guard against the other error; for there is no more reason to believe a corporal presence of our Lord's body and blood in the Eucharist, than of the change of water into his actual blood in Baptism. Yet in both there is a Real-presence to every faithful recipient.

But the fear of being involved in controversy, as far as this subject is concerned, must be limited to the sincere and devout members of the Church. They who deride the Apostolic succession, because they do not possess it, will of course deride the Real-presence; and with such it is useless to contend.

Theological Controversy is to be avoided, because of the bad passions it is apt to engender. For this reason the Author has [3/4] never replied to any attacks made on him. After a most anxious scrutiny into the motives of his own heart, he can conscientiously declare, with the meek and learned Joseph Mede, that he "can with much patience endure a man to be contrary minded." It is only for the sake of Truth, that he has any inclination to contend; and on that account, and that only, does he avail himself of this opportunity to notice the article on Chronology in "the New Englander" for April, 1847, vol. v. p. 215.

It is well known that this is now the organ of the sect alluded to in the Sermon as having, under the usurper Cromwell, brought the monarch and primate of England to the scaffold. The Puritans had availed themselves of political discontents, to gain the ascendancy in England; and having gained it, they aimed the first blow at Strafford, the great supporter of the regal prerogative, and the second at Laud, the bulwark of Catholic Episcopacy against Popery and Presbyterianism. The Presbyterians in their turn were put down by the Independents or Congregationalists. They had killed the King, as L'Estrange wittily observes, and they left it for the Independents to kill Charles.

            "A butcher thus first binds a goat,
            Then sends his boy to cut his throat."

The Parliament would have come to terms with the king provided he would abandon Episcopacy; but Cromwell, who hated Episcopacy as bad as "the New-Englander," thought it the safer way to dispatch him at once from an earthly crown to a crown of glory.

No one can have looked into the pages of the New-Englander without seeing that hostility to the Church has ever been its leading motive. The charges of her Bishops, and the defensive writings of her Clergy, are made the subjects of unmeasured attack and abuse. But that it should attack a work purely historical, intended to clear away the difficulties of Ancient Chronology, abstaining carefully from all language which could possibly offend, and offered to every student of history with the expectation of receiving his grateful thanks, was what the writer did not expect. He is greatly surprised also, that a man of such high powers and literary acquirements as Professor Kingsley, [4/5] could have condescended to become their instrument. Time was when the writer was on intimate terms with him, and felt honoured by the society of one who was a Professor in Yale College when he himself was an humble undergraduate. But even Kingsley's gentle nature has been tinged by the gall of his bitter sect; and he must now attack as a Churchman, one whom he formerly saluted as a friend.

The writer begs leave to assure Professor Kingsley that he is not "the historiographer of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States." The attempt would be useless to make an independent of the New Haven school understand what we mean by the term Church.

            "For he a rope of sand can twist
            As tough as any Sorbonist."

The Church of which the writer, if God spares his life, is to be the historiographer, is that which began when sin rendered redemption necessary, and that which will not end till Christ shall come again in his glory. It has no connection with the minute wranglings of sects and parties, any farther than to record their miserable and lamentable existence. The central point of this Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, was the incarnation of our blessed Redeemer; and to determine with precision the place of that centre on the scale of time, and to furnish every reader of history with a sure and certain guide, in the calculation of dates, was the object of the "Chronological Introduction to the History of the Church." The use of this work will be perfectly apparent, even to the most unlettered reader of history, when the subsequent volumes shall display its practical application. In the mean time its author must content himself with the approbation of those who do not look to the pages of the New Englander, for their estimate of its worth. Several lay gentlemen in the United States of distinguished abilities and learning, have spontaneously offered to him their thanks. One of them, a lawyer of eminence, has taken the pains to examine every authority, to verify every calculation, and to weigh every argument; and he has risen from the study with so [5/6] full a conviction of its accuracy, that he declares it amounts to a demonstration.

Here it may well be asked, What object could Professor Kingsley have had, in disparaging a work of this nature? What could it be, but to prevent the readers of the New-Englander, from buying and making it their study? If its author had been a warm admirer of "the pilgrim fathers," he doubtless would have been applauded and encouraged. As it is, he must be content to endure the consequences of the New-Englander's hostility. Yet he cannot but be pleased that Professor Kingsley has been chosen to be the executioner. An old friend would be less likely than Dr. Bacon or Mr. Dutton, to put the victim to unnecessary torture; and his learning would enable him to do his work in a more dexterous manner, and at least secundum artem.

As to the learned Professor's objections to Christmas as being the day of the Nativity, the writer thinks it hardly necessary to say any thing. A sect, who appointed a fast-day on the 25th of December, when all the rest of the world were rejoicing in the commemoration of the blessed event to which we owe all our hopes of salvation, may well be allowed to enjoy their own little peculiarity. He has not answered my arguments, as any one may see who will take the pains to compare his review, with the chapter on the day of the Nativity in my work. Until the opponents of Christmas day can agree upon some other day, instead of wandering through every month in the calendar, we choose to be guided by the testimony of the Church. I shall confine my remarks therefore to the question concerning the year in which our Lord was crucified.

Professor Kingsley has expended all his strength upon two points of minor importance, the futility of which I shall presently show; and he has committed several errors, which I shall endeavour to point out as briefly as possible, hoping that his candour as a learned man, will triumph over his zeal as a sectarian.

He assumes throughout that the year 14 of the common Christian era had been acknowledged by all chronologers of note to be the [6/7] year in which Augustus died, till I had the presumption to differ from them. This assumption is totally unfounded. I lay no claim to be the discoverer of this error. It was the eminent Astronomer and profoundly learned Francis Bianchini, who in the year 1703 published his two Dissertations on the Kalendar and Cycle of Julius Caesar and the Paschal Canon of St. Hippolytus. Bianchini proved to demonstration, that the year of Caesar's war in Spain with the sons of Pompey, was the last year of confusion, and not, as Calvisius, Scaliger Petavius and others, had asserted, the year which followed it, or the first year of his reformed Calendar. This discovery alone threw back all the Consulships of that period one year. But Bianchini did not sustain his discovery by a complete examination of the succeeding Consulships; and he had recourse to a most untenable hypothesis, that in the last year of Caligula, the names of the Consuls were effaced from the public Fasti. In this way he violated the truth of history, making the reign of Caligula one year longer than it was. Had it not been for this, his correction would have been generally received. His argument was so powerful that the learned Muratori, in his edition of the works of Sigonius, published at Milan in 1732, was evidently embarrassed and would not decide the point, only because he hesitated concerning the supposed erasure in the Fasti. His note occupies nearly three closely printed folio pages. It is too long therefore for insertion here; and I can only refer the learned Professor to it, that he may correct his own blunder. To my readers I shall exhibit a few extracts which will enable them to see that the Professor's confident assertions in the Review as to "the dates fixed beyond controversy" were uttered without that careful research and consideration which the importance of the question at issue demanded. All the testimony of antiquity goes to show that our Lord's crucifixion took place in the Consulship of Lucius Rubellius Geminus and Caius Fufius Geminus. To reduce the question then to its simplest form: Did the Consulship of the two Gemini coincide with the year 28 or the year 29 of the common Christian era? If it coincided with A. D. 28, then Augustus died August 19th, A. D. 13; if it coincided [7/8] with A. D. 29, then Augustus died August 19th A. D. 14. Dion Cassius, a man of consular dignity, and a most accurate historian, asserts the fact that a total eclipse of the sun took place in the year in which Augustus died. Eusebius also records the same fact, and places it in A. D. 13. There was no such eclipse in A. D.14. Professor Kingsley, following Petavius, wishes to prove that Dion and Eusebius were mistaken, and devotes a part of two pages to this object. Again: Tacitus speaks of an eclipse of the moon in the year when Augustus died. Professor Kingsley devotes nearly five out of sixteen pages to prove that it could not have been the eclipse of A. D. 13, but must have been the eclipse of A. D. 14. What egregious trifling is all this, if it can be shown that Augustus died in A. D. 13, as must have been the fact if the Consulship of the two Gemini was in A. D. 28! I am obliged to him for the valuable evidence that a Roman army could march at the rate of from forty-five to fifty miles a day. Fine fellows to endure fatigue undoubtedly they were. Still I cannot believe that they marched seven hundred miles at this rate. Supposing they did however, what does all this help Professor Kingsley? To superficial thinkers, it may seem like a demonstration; but if Augustus really died A. U. C. 766, A. D. 13, it is labour thrown away.

But the learned Professor asserts that "the ablest Chronologers and Annalists place his death in A. D. 14," and that this is so generally admitted as to be "the common opinion." He wishes therefore to make his readers believe, that I have departed from a date "fixed beyond controversy." Iproceed then to state from Muratori's Synopsis of the Argument, what the actual opinions of the "ablest" Chronologers have been. "In the arrangement of the Consulships" he observes "Bianchini anticipates Petavius and Noris awhole year," following Sigonius and Pighius, who place the Consulship of Julius Caesar and M. Antonius in the year U. C. 709, whereas Petavius and Noris and Panvinius place this Consulship in the year U. C. 710." And again: "Pighius places the Consulship of Fufius Geminus and Rubellius Geminus in the year U. C. 781, that is in the year 28 from the common Christian era; whereas Petavius [8/9] and Noris  place this Consulship in the year U. C. 782, that is in the year of the common Christian era 29. Sigonius does not extend his Chronology beyond the year U. C. 766, but it is evident that he perfectly agrees with Pighius; for in the year 766 he places the Consuls Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius, whom Petavius and Noris place as Consuls in the year U. C. 767." It was during their consulship that Augustus died. So much for "the dates fixed beyond controversy." Professor Kingsley, it seems, has not extended his vision beyond Petavius, Noris and Panvinius, and is utterly in the dark as to Sigonius, Pighius and Bianchini.

Let us now see why Muratori was so embarrassed between these conflicting opinions. "This disagreement of Bianchini" he observes, "from Petavius, Noris, and Almeloveen, is continued to the year 41 of the common Christian era, in which year Bianchini places no Consuls, since they were erased from the Fasti, and were perhaps, as Bianchini thinks, T. Catius and P. Caellius. And hence it proceeds that after the year 41 of the common Christian era, Bianchini always agrees with Petavius, Noris, Almeloveen, and lastly with Peter Reland who agrees with Almeloveen," &c. Muratori then refers to the Notes of Bianchini, Tom. 2. p. 18 of his edition of Anastasius "which however," he says, "are not satisfactory, because they subvert the opinion of the most celebrated writers, who without hesitation make the series of Consuls continuous." Here was the stumbling block of Muratori; that Bianchini thus violently separated the series of Consuls by the untenable opinion of Consuls erased from the Fasti in A. D. 41. Every other argument of Bianchini he is disposed to admit; for he proceeds to show, that if Christ was crucified, as the Ancients agree, in the Consulship of the two Gemini, all the Astronomical computations agree with A. D. 28 and not with A. D. 29.

"In this year, (A. D. 28,) he (Bianchini,) shows from the Astronomical Tables of De la Hire, that the fourteenth day of the moon fell on Friday, the seventh before the Calends of April, (March 26th,) and the fifteenth day of the moon on Saturday, the sixth before the Calends of April, (March 27th); so that Christ ate the Lamb with his disciples on the evening of Thursday, that [9/10] is, on the eighth before the Calends of April, (March 25th,) when according to the Jewish custom, the fourteenth day of the moon began; and after his Supper he began his passion in the garden. How well the opinion of Bianchini agrees in this one truth with the testimonies of the Ancients, which concur in placing the death of Christ in the Consulship of the two Gemini, and with the opinion of St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, who relate that Christ suffered on the eighth before the Calends of April, appears from the year 4741 of the Julian period, which is assigned to the year 28 of the common era of Christ, by Bianchini and all other modern Chronologers. For the year 4741 being divided by 19, the remainder 10, is the golden number for that year to which the Epact 16 answers. The same number 4741, being divided by 28, the number 9 is left as the number of the Solar or Dominical Cycle, to which answers the double Sunday letter, D. C.;" proving it to have been a Bissextile year. Muratori then refers to certain Tables of the Sunday Letters; after which he adds: "But since from the same Table it appears that the month of March in that year began on Monday, therefore the first Sunday of the month of March, of the year 28 of our vulgar era, falls on the seventh; and so the fourteenth, the twenty-first, and the twenty-eighth of the same month and year will be Sunday." Muratori continues at some length to show that Sunday, March 21, was the tenth, Monday the eleventh, &c., and Thursday the fourteenth day of the moon, and consequently that the Paschal Lamb was slain in that evening.

He was in doubt how or why our Lord ate the Passover on the evening of Thursday, when the actual full moon was on Friday; a circumstance which proves, as I have shown, the exact truth of the gospel narrative; for the Ecclesiastical full moon fell on Thursday, and the Astronomical full moon on Friday. Christ therefore ate the Passover on the evening in which the nation observed it, and yet died on the cross, at the true time of the Paschal full moon; and this concurrence presents the strongest circumstantial evidence in favour of its being the true year. Finally, Muratori sums up his entire argument by observing that "Bianchini [10/11] seems to be right in placing the crucifixion in the Consulship of the two Gemini; and he therefore lays his opinion before the reader's judgment, that he may embrace that which seems to him most probable." [1 Car. Sigonii in Fastos Comment, Not. 33. Opera ed. Muratori Tom. I col. 67-74. fol.]

If it be asked why I did not refer to the work of Bianchini, I answer that I had it not, and had never read it, but was obliged myself to work out the whole problem. With what success, I leave those who will study my book to determine. Its merit, if merit it has, in deciding this controversy, consists in the discovery of the lost Consulship; not as Bianchini conjectured, in the year 41, but in the year 160, of the common era. After the year 160, there is no controversy; and this I think I have proved beyond the possibility of dispute.

The year 29 of the common Christian Era was the year 4742 of the Julian Period; its golden number xi. and its Solar Cycle 10, corresponding with the Sunday letter B. With these data, and the Calendar in my Introduction, (p. 87-92) the reader may easily satisfy himself that the Passover was eaten by the Jewish nation on the evening of Friday, April 15th, which, if that had been the year, would have placed the Crucifixion on Saturday, April 16th, the Jewish Sabbath! Behold the consequence of Professor Kingsley's system, if the Consulship of the two Gemini be adhered to as the year of the Crucifixion!! For this reason the Moderns, who have placed the Consulship of the two Gemini in the year 29 of the common era, have been compelled to depart from it, and to launch without a rudder on the sea of conjecture. The learned writers for example of "L'art de verifier les dates," have yielded to the force of evidence in placing the birth of our Saviour where I place it, that is in A. U. C. 747, and in the Consulship of Caius Antistius Vetus, and Decimus Laelius Balbus, which was six years earlier than the common era; and yet they place his Crucifixion on Friday, April 3d, in the year 33 of that era! This, according to their scheme, would make our Lord at that time 39 years old! How contrary this would be to the judgment of all who make his ministry embrace four passovers, I need not [11/12] add. It is true that April 3d was Friday in A. D. 33; but in that year the golden number was xv. and the Sunday letter D.; and by referring to the Calendar, the reader will find that Friday was the sixteenth and not the fifteenth of Nisan. Thus it is that a small deviation from truth, will make Chronology to halt. By settling the true arrangement of the Consulships, the only discovery which I myself claim, I have removed the discord and confusion which previously prevailed. For this I ought to have received the thanks of Professor Kingsley, and not his opposition.

He objects to my work, that it has no index; and he very kindly hopes that in my future volumes I will not forget so necessary an accompaniment. I thank him for his advice; but my Chronological Introduction was not written for people who read by indexes. If the learned Professor had done me the honour to study my work, he would have seen that from beginning to end, the argument is accumulative. His vain endeavour to prove that the old Mumpsimus is better than the new Sumpsimus; his nibbling at little points in history, as if false theories could thereby escape with impunity from all the sharp points with which truth takes captive the spawn of error; his fame as a veteran Professor in one of our oldest seats of learning; and above all, the narrow spirit of sectarianism and the bitter hatred of Episcopacy; may all conspire to give his article in the New-Englander a temporary currency. I speak with some severity, but not with unchristian feeling. It is not the first time, as I understand, for I have not seen his work to which I allude, that he has attempted by confident denial, to overpower the testimony of historic truth. He has ventured, if I am rightly informed, to deny the fact that the deed of the Gregson estate in New Haven to the Church of England, was long concealed by glueing together the leaves of the record-book which contained it. The history of Connecticut, attributed to Dr. Samuel Peters, which mentions this fact, is reviled by the Puritans under the name of "the lying history." It contains, however, more truths than they are willing to admit. In my younger days, the fact in question was often stated to me by the aged members of the Church in New Haven, [12/13] on their own knowledge, very much as it is represented in the so called lying history. I mention this only to show the influence which the spirit of a narrow sect can have over a mind naturally candid and upright. I admire the eminent abilities and learning of Professor Kingsley, and can only regret that like an English statesman of acknowledged genius, he is one

            Who, born for the universe, narrow'd his mind
            And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.




Our sufficiency is of God. Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.

THE Apostle is contrasting the ministry of Moses and the glories of the Law, with the ministry of the Apostles, and the glories of the Gospel. And it will materially assist your understanding of this passage, beloved brethren, if you will bear in mind the indubitable fact, that the Law was first given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and the Holy Ghost first descended on the Apostles, on the self same day of Pentecost! [Comp. Exod. xix. 1, 11, with Acts ii. 1.] While Moses was on the Mount, the people corrupted themselves with the idolatries and the obscene worship of the golden calf; so that when Moses descended, he broke the tables of the Law, as a token of God's displeasure, and his face shone not, though he had been with the Lord forty days and forty nights. But when the tables were renewed, God honoured his servant with such an effulgence of His presence, that the face of Moses shone like the brightness [15/16] of the sun, so that the weak vision of that sinful nation could not bear the radiance, and he covered his face as with the veil of the letter. [Exod. xxxiv. 29-35.]

But it was not so when the Holy Ghost descended to abide with His Church for ever. In that abiding presence the Father and the Son are so mysteriously united, that the Father, though we speak of him in the Litany and the Lord's prayer only as--of Heaven, and the Son, though the ever living advocate and intercessor at His right hand, are with the Spirit in the Church on Earth, in the oneness of their ineffable Unity. [St. John xiv. 9, 16, 18, 21, 23, 26.] And this personal presence of the Spirit in the Church,--not like that presence on Mount Sinai, which only "passed by" proclaiming, "the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth," [Exod. xxxiv. 6.]--is with us forever, though unseen, save in the ministrations of the Church; so that we, with open and unveiled face, looking steadfastly into the permanent mirror of the Lord's glory, may be changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, but only as all are derived from the same Lord Spirit. [2 Cor. iii. 18.] "Therefore" the Apostle adds, exhibiting the practical influence of this faith, "seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." [2 Cor. iv. 1, 2.]

The theme, dear brethren, is too lofty, and the [16/17] contemplation too overwhelming to admit of any thing like a just view of it, during the few moments in which I am permitted to address you; but I trust that you will treasure it in your hearts, and recur to it in your devout meditations, so that the same blessed Spirit may enlighten you with the bright beams of His truth, and your souls, by the same glorious contemplation, may change with increasing splendour as you advance through the Church militant to the repose of the faithful in the paradise of God.

The subject then to which I now particularly invite your attention, may be comprised under the following heads:

First, The actual presence of the Holy Ghost in the ordination of the Christian Ministry:

Secondly, The duty of that Ministry constantly to look upon His glory, that they may reflect it in their own lives and ministrations: and

Thirdly, That considering their sufficiency as thus derived from God, they are not to faint from any difficulties or discouragement thrown in their way.

I. We are first then to consider the actual presence of the Holy Ghost, and in Him of the whole blessed Trinity. Buried in sense, the "world cannot receive" the Spirit of God, "because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him." [St. John xiv. 17.] The doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE, not merely in the Eucharist, but in Baptism, in Confirmation, in the conferring of Holy Orders, nay also in the ministry of the blessed Word, and in the prayers and other offices [17/18] of the Church, is denied and ridiculed as "foolishness;" while in fact it is "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." [1 Cor. i. 24.] This REAL PRESENCE is no new doctrine; for it pervades the whole Bible. God the Father, dwelling in uncreated light, which no man can approach unto, has ever manifested himself only through the eternal Son and the eternal Spirit. [2 Cor. iv. 6.] "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself" [2. Cor. v. 19.] from the very moment in which sin rendered that reconciliation necessary. The guilty pair in paradise fled from the presence of God through a sense of guilt. [Gen. iii. 8.] Cain, when his brother's blood was upon him, went out from the presence of the LORD. [Gen. iv. 16.] He who "dwelt in the bush" was "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." [Exod. iii. 6, comp. with Deut. xxxiii. 16.] "My presence shall go with thee," said God to Moses, "and I will give thee rest." [Exod. xxxiii. 14.]  And Moses replied, "If thy presence go not with me carry us not up hence." [Ib. 8, 15.] Christ that Angel-Jehovah who spake to Moses on Mount Sinai was with the Church in the wilderness; [Acts vii. 38.] and the nation of Israel had sacraments typical of ours. [1 Cor. x. 3, 4.] They "did all eat the same spiritual meat, they did all drink the same spiritual drink," which, as the Apostle expressly tells us, flowed from "Christ." Thus did He continue his presence with them invisibly, until He took flesh, and for their, as well as our, Salvation, suffered on the cross, arose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven to be the perpetual High Priest and Intercessor for his Church. But in [18/19] thus departing bodily from his Apostles, he did not, as He assured them, leave them orphans. [St. John xiv. 18.] He promised to come to them; and this He did invisibly by the third person of the Adorable Trinity, who was to abide with them, until Christ should come again bodily and in his glorious majesty should judge the quick and the dead. There never was a time, therefore, when God was absent from his Church, neither will such time ever be. The PRESENCE differs only in the mode of its manifestation. In power and efficacy it must, and ever will be the same. Without this PRESENCE the Church cannot be God's Church. Men may assemble together and incorporate themselves by civil laws, and call themselves a Church, but all this is of mere human origin, unless God's PRESENCE go with them. These are truths, Brethren, if the Gospel be true.

The REAL PRESENCE is absolutely necessary; and it is only from mistaken views of the nature of that presence, that any, who profess and call themselves Christians, can be led to deny it. When, therefore, the Bishop lays on his hands, and when we, as Presbyters, signify our consent to the act by which a brother is added to our number, think not of it, I beseech you, as if it were a mere human ceremony, the inauguration of a man into a human office, by powers derived from man; but rather think of it as a solemn act of God the Holy Ghost, in the name and with the actual presence of the whole Trinity. The hands are the hands of man, but they are only the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace. Ordination was instituted by Christ. For He said unto his Apostles, "Peace [19/20] be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." [1 Cor. xii. 28.] He breathed on them, because as the second person of the Trinity, sent by the Father for that among other purposes, it was the most appropriate sign, as when He breathed into Adam the breath of life. When the Holy Ghost descended in person, the Apostles were directed to lay on hands. The sign was different, as was proper when creatures became the instruments; but the thing signified remained the same. Ordination is in its own nature sacramental; but in the cautious language of our Catechism, it is not "generally necessary to Salvation." [In saying that Ordination has a sacramental character, I do but utter the same sentiment which is expressed in the following words of Calvin.--Institutes. Lib. iv. c. 14. Sec. 20. "Duo Sacramenta instituta, quibus nunc Christiana Ecclesia utitur, Baptismus et Coena Domini. Loquor autem de iis quoe in usum totius Ecclesiae sunt instituta. Nam impositionem manuum qua Ecclesiae Ministri in suum munus initiantur, ut NON INVITUS PATIOR VOCARI SACRAMENTUM, ita inter ordinaria Sacramenta non numero." Opera Tom. ix. p. 347.] It confers an inward and spiritual grace; but it is a grace only for the work of the ministry, and consequently is confined to that ministry. It is not of man, though it is by man. It comes from God the Holy Ghost, in whose presence the solemn transaction takes place; and hence the Apostle says, in the passage which I have chosen as my text, "This trust or confidence we have through Christ towards God; not that we are sufficient or fit, or competent to account ourselves any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency or fitness or competence is from God, who hath made us fit or competent, to be ministers of the New Covenant or Testament." [20/21] All that we have is derived from that Blessed Spirit who "hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers." [St. John xx. 21, 22.]

Seeing then that we have a ministry much more glorious than that of the Old Covenant or Mosaic dispensation, we speak, says the Apostle, with great boldness. We have not, like Moses, a veil on our face, or like the hapless nation who have fallen from grace, and turned from the Spirit, a veil upon our heart. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; and beholding with open face, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we all are changed into the same image. And this leads me to the second head of my discourse.

II. The duty of the ministry to reflect the glory of the Spirit in their own lives and ministrations.

The allusion of St. Paul to the splendour of the face of Moses, even from a transient view of the Divine presence, is evident; and the inference he draws from the superior advantages of the Christian ministry, is no less striking. The constant presence of the Holy Ghost, and the privilege of perpetual vision, if duly pleaded, cannot fail of transforming us into the same image.

How is it then, that there are so many unworthy ministers of the gospel? How is it that so many exhibit a wretched inconsistency of conduct with their holy vocation? It arises, as it appears to me, from their not having a deep and indwelling sense of the REAL PRESENCE. Let them have a firm and practical faith that the Holy Ghost is ever beholding them; that He enters into [21/22] their most secret thoughts; that if they neglect or violate their duties, despise His warnings, and heed not His threats, He will be their accuser at the dread tribunal of the Son of man; that the very privileges they derive from Him, will be so many witnesses against them, if they do not strive to be holy themselves, and to render others holy; let such be the prevailing and uniform persuasion of their hearts and tenour of their lives, and how will it be possible for them wilfully to neglect their duties, or not to mourn incessantly and with the lowliest humility, over their infinite short-comings? To my mind it is inconceivable, that any minister, thus viewing by faith the presence of the Lord, can fail of doing that, which the Spirit commands to be done, and persuading and intreating all who are committed to his pastoral care, to practice the same means of contemplating the Spirit's glories. He who reads and meditates continually upon God's holy Word, will not he learn and inwardly digest the same? He who knows that Prayer is the food of the soul, and that the Spirit hears every sigh of the heart, will not he without ceasing, ask and seek and knock? He who feels that even in his most holy things, he sins daily and hourly, and grieves the Spirit who maketh intercession for him with groanings which cannot be uttered, [Rom. viii. 26.] will not he, with intense desire, long for those Mysteries which convey to him the comforting assurance that the body and blood of Christ, are continually applied to nourish and invigorate his soul? To such a person, the institutions of his religion are living realities, not lifeless forms. It is only the cold, and worldly, and [22/23] undiscerning minds, who do not view the presence of God, nor perceive the necessity of an intimate union with that body of Christ, over which the Comforter presides. Such only can come into the Church, and remain in it unwarmed and unillumined. Let any member of Christ's body, who seeks earnestly to be saved, begin and persevere in the practice of using all those means of holy living which the Spirit hath prescribed, and he will know of the doctrine whether it be of God. [St. John vii. 17.] The glories of the Spirit will be reflected in his own life. He will be changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, till at length this corruptible shall be swallowed up of glory, and he will enter into the joy of his Lord.

III. Seeing then, brethren, that we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not. Here is the great trial of the ministry of Apostolic succession; a trial which nothing will give us courage to endure, but this continual contemplation of God's personal presence. It is well known that this part of our country was settled by the small but energetic sect which, under the usurper Cromwell, from their hatred to Episcopacy, brought the monarch and primate of England to the scaffold. From the wounds then inflicted, the Church of England has slowly recovered. Her first danger was from that re-action which pushed men from hypocrisy to debauch, and from cant to profanity. This was naturally followed by a tendency to superstition, and then to a cold and heartless formality, governed only by [23/24] political expediency and indifference. Even so late as the close of the eighteenth century, an English Statesman distinguished for his caution, described the Church as "an honest drone, who if she did not stir herself very soon, would be stung by the wasps of the Conventicle." [Henry Addington, Lord Sidmouth.] He was mistaken, in attributing to the Church a fault which belonged only to the State. "The Clergy" as it has well been observed by a British writer, "altogether depend on the guidance, the character and the activity of their Bishops. If [ ministerial Statesmen] regard the mitre as merely a sort-of donative for their own private tutors, or the chaplains of their noble friends, or as provision for a relative, dependant, or the brother of a Treasury Clerk, they not merely degrade the office, but they paralyse the Church. It is impossible" he continues "to look upon the list of archbishops and bishops (a few excepted) during the last century, without surprise, that the inferior clergy have done so much, rather than that they have done so little. Where there was no encouragement for literary exertion, ability naturally relaxed its efforts; where preferment was lavished on heads 'that could not teach and would not learn,' disgust extinguished diligence; and where character for intelligence, practical capacity and public effect, were evidently overlooked in the calculation of professional claims, it is only in the natural course of things that their exercise should be abandoned, in fastidiousness or in contempt, in disgust or in despair. The Church was never in a more ineffective condition than at the close of the last century; and if the sin was [24/25] to be laid at the right threshold, it must have been laid at the door of Whitehall." [Lord Sidmouth's life and time, in the April No., 1847, of Blackwood's Magazine p. 485, Am. reprint.]

Though there is much truth in these remarks, viewing poor human nature as it actually is, yet the ministers of Christ who behold continually the glory of the Lord, are not to be deterred from exertion by the absence of worldly gain, or the privation of professional honours; and it was a far more exalted spirit which, when the third of another century had expired, produced what has been called the Oxford movement.

[To avoid all misapprehension, either for himself or for the clergy and laity with whom he acts, the Author states explicitly that the Oxford movement had our sympathies only so far as it tended to disenthral the Church of England from her load of State protection, and to restore the Catholic principles and practice of her Reformation. It is too soon perhaps to expect any impartial history of the twelve years from 1832 to 1844, during which the struggle lasted; but no one can understand its origin and progress unless he bears in mind that in 1832, the Bishops of England were insulted in the streets of London, their effigies carried in procession, the residence of one of them burned by a mob, and the whole bench in the House of Peers significantly told by the Premier that they had better set their houses in order. The Church of England seemed in danger of being reduced to the condition she was in from 1632 to 1648. More than 7000 of the most eminent clergy took the alarm; and the Oxford movement touched a spark in the hearts of the true sons of the Church of England which under God's blessing has rekindled the love of the nation for their ancient Church Institutions. The subsequent defection of Mr. Newman and his followers, however unhappy for themselves, and the source of grief to all right-minded Churchmen, has been in reality a blessing for the Church of England.--There must be heresies that they which are approved may be made manifest. The following concession of the Tablet, a well known organ of the English Romanists shows the actual result: "In turning over Mr. Gordon's pages we cannot help being struck with the remarkable fact that they contain scarcely any of the names of those who were looked upon as the originators of the Oxford Tractarian movement. Indeed, with the exception of Mr. Newman, it does not appear that of all those who were first known to the world as writers in behalf of this Anglican revival, any single individual who has hitherto entered the Roman Catholic Church." And again: speaking of those who in avoiding their former tendency to puritanism, had finally run into the arms of Rome, such as Ward and Oakley, and F. W. Faber and others of that same stamp, the Tablet proceeds to say: "Those writers who attracted attention before their conversion by the zeal and ability with which they advocated the Anglican theories, were not only [25/26] drawn into the system at a period subsequent to its first development, but were, perhaps, never cordially attached to its distinctive peculiarities of dogma and of practice." It then gives the following testimony with surprising candour to those firm adherents to their holy mother, who for a time were calumniated. "The crowd of authors, upon whom polemical virulence first fastened the name of Papists, are Protestants still, nor is there yet any sign that they will die otherwise than as they have lived. We cannot indeed conceal it from ourselves that there is little probability, humanly speaking, that the theological writers of whom we speak, will ever submit themselves to the Faith." By Faith, of course the Tablet means the Faith established at Trent.]

With all their errors (and it is acknowledged that they committed many) the confession is now very general, that they did incalculable service, by rousing the Church to a sense of her danger, and bringing to the rescue her faithful and warm hearted sons. In the contest with Roman and Protestant dissent, only one of these original movers has fallen; and he was unhappily caught, by the metaphysical subtlety of his own mind, in that fatal noose which dragged him from his high estate.

But with all those imperfections which attend on human exertions, what is the state of the English Church now? A late correspondent of one of our secular papers, gives, but most reluctantly, the following testimony. With regard to the government scheme of public education, he says: "To put the education of the people into the hands of the Government, is to put it at once into the hands of the Church. And this is what is virtually about to be done. The consequences of this measure seem plain enough. The whole rising generation will receive a religious Church education. The dissenters, already few, divided and without influence of any kind, will be almost if not entirely extinguished; and when the Church of England is quite ready to pass over to the Church of Rome, it will hand over at the [26/27] same time the English nation to the Ancient Religion." [Foreign correspondence of the N. Y. Herald, in paper of May 17, 1847.] Blessed be God! to the Ancient Religion, it will hand them over; but not to the Church of Rome; and I quote this silly and ignorant remark, only to show the value of the other parts of the writer's testimony. The late defeat of what is called "the Catholic Relief bill" [Foreign Correspondence of the N. Y. Herald, dated London, May 3, 1847, in the paper of May 19, 1847.] in the House of Commons, "though it was supported by the larger number of the ministry," is a proof that the Church of England in her opposition to Protestant dissent, will not be driven into Roman heresy and schism.

But while we rejoice that the Church of England is recovering her strength, we will not admit for one moment that we ourselves had any participation with this Oxford movement. We are not their pupils; for our theology was formed long before they were born; and was publicly professed and taught in the last century even when the Church of England was most ineffective. And the reason is, that we never had any worldly motives of preferment or dignity, but looked steadily with open face, for our only reward into the glory of the Holy Trinity. We have always had the same combat with the same enemies of our faith; and they who now in England have lost all their power and influence, are here in this country, diffusing themselves over its whole surface, and endeavouring to create every where the same prejudices and hatred with which the Apostolic succession, and the Divine presence in the Church have always been by them viewed. On this account it is that they stigmatize us with party names, as if our doctrines [27/28] or our practice were of modern growth, or as if we were thereby departing from the purity of the Gospel. Here then is our trial, brethren; and it is a great trial. For, as the texture and frame-work is of our American society, the rapid growth of the Church since the beginning of the present century, has given her enemies an advantage. Many are now counted as belonging to us who have never learned our doctrines or our discipline; and these, and no other, are the persons on whom this hostile influence can operate, with any possible prospect of success. I do not extenuate this evil, nor do I cease to mourn over it; but I say, that we, who have received this glorious ministry, can never faint because of any opposition if we look steadfastly at the Divine presence. The trial was infinitely greater when Seabury with his Spartan band first unfurled the Apostolic banner in this our western Thermopylae. He and they had no worldly preferments or emoluments to serve as stimulants for exertion. By England "he was neglected and abandoned; and by the country, which gave him birth, disowned; though a man of such transcendent abilities as would have been an ornament and a blessing to any country that had seen fit to patronize him." Such was the estimate of his character by a Clergyman of Virginia who knew him intimately. "Farewell poor Seabury!" he exclaims, "however neglected in life, there lives one at least who knew thy worth, and honours thy memory." [Boucher' s Sermons on the American Revolution, p. 556-7, note.] At the time when he wrote this affecting tribute, no bookseller in England could be found who would venture to reprint Seabury's Sermons! He died in faith, not having received [28/29] the promises; and lo! fifty years after his death, his Sermon on Christian unity is circulated as a tract in the Armenian language to instruct the Ancient Churches of Asia! But during his life, what did he gain for his exertions in the cause of Christ and his Church, but poverty, obloquy and reproach? Would not even his stout heart have fainted, if he had not looked with open face on the Divine presence, that he might thereby be transformed into the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity?

Well then, my dear brother who art this day to be admitted to the priesthood, may I admonish you, that this holy office is one of great trust and responsibility, but one which hath no prospect of earthly treasure, or any certain anticipation of worldly honour or distinction. I speak not as if I doubted that you have maturely weighed all this before you determined by the grace of God to devote yourself to Christ and His Church. But it is well at this time to remind you; and all who are here present, that the rewards of the Christian ministry are infinitely superior to any advantage which this world can bestow; that here our very fidelity to our Divine Master, will bring upon us persecution, obloquy and reproach; that our motives will be maligned, and our words and actions misrepresented; and that nothing but the perpetual contemplation of the Divine presence can fill our souls with holy courage to endure all the trials of our warfare. For consider, I beseech you, how much courage it must require, in the midst of so many conflicting sects and parties, and assailed by so many temptations, of the world, [29/30] the flesh and the devil, to renounce "the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Yet we must practise the hidden things of dishonesty, we must walk in craftiness, we must handle the word of God deceitfully, if, through fear or favour of man, we represent the Church other than it is. You must be fully aware, that in common acceptation, ministers of the Gospel are considered only as attornies and special pleaders of contending sects. With such debasing opinions we can have no communion. With us the ministry is viewed as divinely commissioned to act in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We have no solitary opinions to utter. Our concern is with the faith and practice of God's Church. What concord can there possibly be between such opposite principles? Should we who have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, pander to this common corruption? Should we allow ourselves to be the ministers of a sect or profess any sectarian doctrines or practice? The Church is Catholic; but not in the low and vulgar sense in which some estimate Catholicity. We are neither Romanists on the one hand, nor Latitudinarians on the other. We are Catholics in the sense of the ancient creeds. We are, what every part of the Catholic Church was, before the heresy of Arius, and the days of Constantine. It would be walking in craftiness, it would be handling the word of God deceitfully, were we with such convictions to deny what the Church plainly teaches and what we are persuaded can [30/31] be proved from the Scriptures. But this, dear brother, will necessarily expose us to obloquy--may diminish our popularity--may exclude us from places of distinction and preferment. Let it be so; but let us not faint or be discouraged. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." [ps. xlvi. 1.] The ministry we have received is too glorious to be covered with a veil, because of the frail and diseased vision of men. Let it be your constant occupation, my brother, to look steadfastly with unveiled face, and thus reflect in your life and ministrations, the glory of the Divine presence. Sensible that you are continually in that presence, be, like Apollos, "mighty in the Scriptures"--"fervent in the spirit," bold in speech and mightily convincing. Continue like the blessed Apostles daily with those of one accord in the temple. [Acts ii. 46.] As often as the present condition of the Church will allow, receive and administer the blessed sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. Retire like the blessed Jesus into the solitude of your own heart, in meditation, abstinence and prayer. Conduct your household in the faith and fear of the Lord; and teach all who are committed to your charge "the conclusion of the whole matter," [Eccles. xii. 13.] that to "fear God and keep His commandments--is the whole duty of man."

And now, dear brethren of this congregation, let me for one moment longer address myself to you. It is for your sake as much as for their own, that the ministers of Christ are required to look with open face on [31/32] the perpetual emanations of the Divine presence. It is required of them, that being transformed into the same image, they may as lesser mirrors, reflect upon you the glories of their renewed nature. Be it yours then, by calm and patient investigation, to fortify your mental vision. Examine the Church by the Holy Scriptures, according to that sense which has for its support, antiquity, universality and consent. By so doing you will never be disposed to go back from the open splendour of the Spirit to the veil of ignorance or prejudice. Accustom yourselves to unite with your ministry, in their sanctifying contemplation of the perpetual presence of God in the Church, and you will soon perceive its blessed effects upon your own souls. You also will be changed into that image and likeness of God which, was originally given to man, but lost by sin, and restored only through Jesus Christ. You will go on, even in this militant state, from glory to glory, until your ascended Lord shall come again and take you to himself, that where HE IS, THERE YE MAY BE ALSO. [St. John xiv. 3.]

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