Project Canterbury





A Sermon,












Professor of Oriental Languages and Literature in Washington College,
Hartford, Connecticut.

88 William-street.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012



THE Board of Missions having been pleased to ask for the publication of the following Sermon, “with such notes as” the author might “think proper to append,” he felt himself embarrassed by a choice of difficulties. As the resolution was presented after he had left New-York, by a lamented brother since deceased, he could obtain no explanation of its precise object. If he merely named his authorities, little or no benefit could be derived from the titles of books which are not accessible to the generality of his readers. On the other hand, if he attempted to quote largely, the topics of discourse were so various, that the notes would have far exceeded the text in quantity. He therefore determined to take up the most important points, and exhibit a concise summary of their evidence in the shape of an Appendix. As he advanced, however, his materials swelled in size and importance, and the investigation demanded an amount of time and labour of which at the first he had formed no conception. Unwilling to lay before the public any evidence which he had not himself accurately weighed, he has, during the past year, devoted all the time he could spare from professional duties to this object; and what he has written will constitute a volume, which he proposes to publish as soon as it can be completed. In the meantime he respectfully offers to the Board of Missions, and to the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church generally, the Sermon as it was preached, with such notes only as he thought might be useful and acceptable to his Brethren. S. F. J.

Hartford May 24th, 1837.




ST. JOHN xvii. 20, 21.



THE first celebration of that Holy Sacrament by which Christians are bound to live together in unity and godly love—was the occasion, Fathers and Brethren, on which these words were uttered by our divine Lord. With the prayer of which they form a part, he closed the only portion of the priestly office which he could perform on earth; and it bears an obvious analogy to that prayer for the whole state of the militant Church, which, in substance, hath ever since, in every part of the Christian world, formed a portion of the sacramental solemnity.

If I am not mistaken, the very structure of this prayer has reference to the great object, for the promotion of which we are now assembled. Our Saviour first declares his power over all mankind, and that it is the great purpose of his mediatorial kingdom to bring men to the saving knowledge of the one true God, and the “one mediator between God and men the man Christ Jesus.” He then divides all men into two classes; one whom he calls the world, meaning, as it would seem, the guilty, the corrupt, the unrepentant, and the unconverted; the other, whom he speaks of as given to him [5/6] of his Father, and whom he mentions with such tenderness, that even the false and perjured traitor himself has no other epithet than that of the lost child. These he describes as keeping God’s word, as believing in him, as being sanctified, as having, in a word, the means of grace and the hopes of glory. He speaks of others, as believing on him through their ministrations, and includes such likewise in his petitions. Having thus described, he speaks of both with deep solicitude, as being in, though not of the world, as being hated by the world, as having been protected from evil during his presence, but as needing in his absence, to be preserved by the power of God. He then prays for them, and not for the world, because its welfare was included in theirs; and the chief, and often repeated object of his petition is, that they may be one, as the Son is with the Father, and the Father with the Son.

It is impossible to analyze, and to meditate on the contents of this prayer, without being strongly impressed with the tender love of the Saviour for the souls of men; nor can we fail to perceive, that the Church is there considered as sent forth into the world, by which it is hated, and against which it must be protected; while, at the same time, THAT VERY CHURCH IS APPOINTED AS THE GREAT INSTRUMENT FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE WORLD. It must be protected, by the power of God, by the sanctifying influences of the Spirit, by the truth of his word; and the success of its efforts must mainly depend, on that unity of affection, will and purpose, by which alone it can resemble the ineffable union of the Holy Trinity.

It would seem, indeed, as if the Saviour had taken that occasion, to warn the members of his Church, with his dying [6/7] testimony, that their divisions would retard the operations of his mighty purposes. For so necessary did he consider the unity of the Church, that three times in the course of this prayer does he mention it, and twice does he assert, that without it the world will not believe and be saved. One of these assertions will be found in the twenty-third verse; the other, forms a portion of the text. Our Saviour prays, for all who should believe on him through the word of his apostles—that is, for the Church on the day of Pentecost,—for us who are here present,—for the Church which now is,—for the Church which shall be until the end of time;—that they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us—that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

I propose then to show,

First, That the ill-success of missions is owing to the want of unity;

Secondly, That those professing Christians have most reason to hope for success, who are the least guilty of violating that unity; and hence,

Thirdly, I shall proceed to suggest some considerations which may encourage us in the great work we have now undertaken.

May the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts that love of the Saviour and of our brethren, which may enable us, by promoting their salvation, to glorify his name to the ends of the earth!


The four great characteristics of that unity which our Saviour requires as necessary for the conversion of the world, are summed up in the second chapter of the Acts: “They that gladly received the word were baptized; and they continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

[8] The first characteristic is stedfastness in the Apostles’ doctrine.

St. Paul, in his Epistles to Timothy, requires of him to “take heed to THE doctrine, and to “hold fast the form of sound words;” and one of the latest of the inspired writers speaks of contending earnestly “for the faith, once delivered to the saints.” It is called ONE faith; and is supposed to be as much known and as fully recognised by Christians, as are “one God, one Lord, and one baptism.”

The second characteristic includes an adherence to the ministers of apostolic succession.

The word itself here translated fellowship, and elsewhere communion, denotes that internal union in the members of one body, which may be compared to the circulation of sap in the vegetable, or of blood in the animal kingdom. Christians are required to have communion or fellowship, with the Father; with the Son; with the Holy Ghost; with the Apostles as the sources of all ministerial authority. There is also the communion or fellowship of the prosperous with the afflicted; of those parts of the Church which are rich in the means of grace, the capacities of knowledge, and the ability to give, with those which are perishing for lack of vision. In a word, fellowship is that pervading and animating spirit which constitutes the communion of saints in the one holy catholic and apostolic church, so that “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

The third and fourth characteristics need no comment. [8/9] The former, is the constant and frequent reception together of the holy communion, called in the New Testament, the breaking of bread; the latter is the uniting together, at stated times and seasons, in the several acts of public worship. At every period of time, therefore, Christians are required to form one body, by continuing stedfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer.

Now, if we examine by this rule the state of the Primitive Church, we shall find that all these characteristics of unity were preserved till about the middle of the fifth century.

It is true that there were heresies even in the apostolic age. “They went out from us,” says St. John, “but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.” But, in comparison with the great body of Christians, these were few and inconsiderable. They proceeded, not from any mistaken views of divine truth, but from the wild reveries of a deceitful philosophy. Their very extravagance prevented any influence over sober sense, and ardent piety. They were the effervescence of human corruption, rising like bubbles to the surface, bursting there one after another, and each in its turn disappearing forever.

Even the most formidable of all departures from the apostolic doctrine, I mean the Arian and the Macedonian heresies, the one denying the divinity of the Son, the other, the personality of the Holy Ghost,—even these, violent and extended as they were for a season, had no permanent existence or influence. The penumbral varieties with which the Sun of Righteousness is obscured, may afford a grateful shelter to those who hate his beams, but even when darkest they are transitory. A deep sense of the enormity of sin, of the holiness of God, of the weakness of man, will always lead to the exaltation of the Saviour. The joy shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, and the light which the same Divine Spirit sheds over the word of God, when it is read with an humble and [9/10] teachable frame of mind, will produce the conviction that He is our divine teacher and comforter. On these points, therefore, the great body of professing Christians always have been, and always will be, orthodox. The Nicene Creed, confirmed by the Council of Constantinople, and professed by those of Ephesus and Chalcedon, was unanimously admitted in every part of the Christian Church, with the exception of one word which, in the bitterness of controversy, the Eastern, afterwards accused the Western Church of surreptitiously introducing.

The apostolic ministry, consisting of the three orders of [10/11] bishops, priests and deacons, existed every where; and all Christians, so far from thinking of separating themselves from their fellowship, would have considered such a separation as the greatest of earthly evils. “A Christian,” to use the words of Bishop Horne, “furnished with proper credentials from his bishop, might travel through the world from east to west, and from north to south, and be received to communion with his brethren, in any part of the globe then known.”

The liturgies and formularies in general use, bore so remarkable an affinity, as to induce the belief, that they could be traced even to the Apostolic Age.

I repeat it, therefore, that the Christian world, or Catholic Church, in the proper sense of that much abused term, agreed in all the essentials of Christian unity, until about the middle of the fifth century.

During this period of unity, the progress made by the Christian faith is, perhaps, the most surprising fact recorded in history. At the time of our Saviour’s birth, the decree had gone forth that all the world should be taxed. By the word rendered in our translation “the world,” was meant the Roman Empire. Its division at that time was into kingdoms, provinces, and free cities or colonies. In all these divisions, the chief cities were called metropolitan; and even a cursory inspection of the subject will show, that when the Apostles obeyed the command to “go into all the world,” their first object was, to plant a Church in every one of these [11/12] metropolitan cities. As an illustration of this remark it may be observed, that St. John has mentioned the seven cities of Asia in the order and dignity of their civil geography. And the fact is undeniable, that nearly all the colonial and free cities of the empire had churches during the Apostolic Age. If we may credit the most ancient historians, the Apostles went even beyond the bounds of the Roman empire. Not only was the Church extended through Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the principal islands of the Mediterranean, Greece, Thrace, Illyricum, and Italy, but perhaps to Spain and the British Islands on the West, to Scythia on the North, and Persia and India within the Ganges on the East. “He put on wings” says the eloquent Chrysostom, speaking of Paul the apostle, “and traversed every land which the sun surveyed; not simply travelling through it, but rooting up the thorns of wickedness and sowing the seed of religion, expelling error and introducing truth.” If this be hyperbolical with regard to the labours of St. Paul, it is good testimony as to the extent of the Church in the fourth century. Certainly by the middle of the fifth, the time I have mentioned, in addition to the countries already enumerated, may be named Gaul and Germany in Europe, Ethiopia, Nubia, Lybia, Mauritania, and indeed all that was known of [12/13] Africa, Arabia, the greater and the lesser Armenia, the regions beyond the Caspian and the Euxine, and possibly even China itself. From the letter of Constantine to the King of Persia, preserved by Eusebius, it is evident that there must have been an immense number of Christians in that kingdom. For he speaks of the finest provinces as filled with Christians; and Sozomen mentions that Adiabene, the chief province, was almost entirely Christianized. The letter of the Emperor, so far from aiding the Christians, excited political jealousies in the breast of the Persian monarch. In 330 a severe persecution began which lasted forty-three or forty-four years, and terminated only with the death of Sapor. The very circumstances of this persecution show that the Persian Church, on account of its supposed connection with the religion of the empire, was formidable for its numbers. Sozomen expressly says that Sapor forbade the fire-worshippers to exercise their fury upon common Christians. They were to select only the bishops, priests, deacons and other persons consecrated to the service of the Church. He says it would be difficult to tell how many suffered martyrdom, but that the men and women, whose names were known, amounted to sixteen thousand. From these premises we may fairly infer that the Church in Persia was extremely flourishing; and from the review of all that has been said, the assertion will not, I trust, be deemed hazardous, that the Church was in fact more extensive at the middle of the fifth century than it ever has been since.

Let us then inquire by what calamity its progress was arrested; [13/14] and why, for more than twelve centuries, the light of the gospel has been in some parts extinguished, and in others, burning dimly, while the attempts to carry it into the regions of utter darkness have been so unsuccessful.

It is, doubtless, familiar to your minds, Fathers and Brethren, that a jurisdiction which had grown up in the Church rather as a usage than as a right, was established by the sixth Canon of the Council of Nice, as belonging to the Bishops of Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome; that by the third Canon of the Council of Constantinople, the Bishop of that See, formerly so inconsiderable, was to rank next in honour to the Bishop of Rome, being thus placed over the heads of Alexandria and Antioch, for the reason assigned by the Council that Constantinople was new Rome; and consequently that the Bishop of Rome had precedence for the reason assigned at a later period, because that was the Imperial city. It is important to mark these circumstances, because they furnish us with a clue to the motives of many important transactions.

In the year 412, the ambitious and turbulent Cyril became Bishop of Alexandria; and in 428, Nestorius, a monk from Antioch, of exemplary private character, was made Bishop of Constantinople. He seems to have accepted his high office from the purest motives; but his goodness was sullied by the severity which he exercised towards the Arians. A persecutor himself, the cup of bitterness which he had forced others to taste, he was soon made to drink even to the very dregs. Condemned in 431 by the Council of Ephesus, in [14/15] which Cyril presided, deposed from his See, sent first to Arabia, then to the humble cell from which he had been elevated, and afterwards banished to an Oasis in the Lybian desert, where he died, his misfortunes entitle him to our pity, heightened, as we shall soon perceive, by the conviction of their injustice.

Cyril in his turn became the object of obloquy; and perhaps it was fortunate for his fame, that he died in 444. For Eutyches, who claimed to be his pupil, followed him in his opposition to the doctrines of Nestorius to such a degree, that in the year 451 he himself was condemned in the fourth general Council, assembled at Chalcedon. In that Council, by the influence of the Emperor, exerted to procure additional honours for Constantinople, the seeds of new dissensions were sown. By the twenty-eighth Canon, which claimed to be only explanatory of the third Canon of the second general Council, it was set forth that the city of New Rome, being honoured with Empire and a Senate, and enjoying equal privileges with ancient Imperial Rome, should also be equally exalted in ecclesiastical matters. The same Canon provided that all Bishops of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, dwelling in the countries of barbarians, that is, out of the limits of the Roman Empire, should be consecrated by the Bishop of Constantinople, and be subject to his jurisdiction. This, of course, subjected to him the Bishops of ancient Scythia or Tartary, and those of the Medes, Persians and [15/16] Parthians. This measure not only fomented the jealousy already existing between the Bishops of Old and New Rome, but it led, as we shall soon see, to other evils in the countries beyond the Roman limits.

Acacius, having been made Bishop of Constantinople in the year 471, the Emperor Zeno, by his advice, attempted to heal the existing divisions. In 482 an act of reconciliation was published, in which the doctrine of the four Councils was fully recognised, but all allusion to the Council of Chalcedon, as possessing authority, was studiously avoided.

This gave offence to Felix, who, in the year 483, became Bishop of Rome; and the next year he excommunicated Acacius, because he would not submit to his authority. Acacius, supported by the emperor, and the whole of the Greek clergy, retorted the excommunication; and thus a rupture ensued between the Greek and Roman churches, which was never after effectually healed.

Thus within the period of fifty-three years, from 431 to 484, we find the Christian Church divided into four great sects, known by the names of the Nestorians or Chaldeans; the Monophysites or Jacobites; the Greeks, or, as they are termed in the East, the Melchites; and the Romans or Latins. The Nestorians and Jacobites occupy the two patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria, and the regions east of the Roman empire; the Greeks or Melchites, the patriarchate of Constantinople; and the Latins that of Rome.

[17] Justice requires that we judge of these Christians, not by the representation of their adversaries, but by their own words and actions.

It is, to say the least, very doubtful whether Nestorius held the doctrine imputed to him. During the heats occasioned by the Arian heresy, the title of Mother of God, had been applied to the Virgin Mary, and the Patriarch began to fear that it might lead to the worship of her person. Yet in a sermon to the people he told them, that “if any well-meaning Christians took a fancy to this title, he would not object, provided they did not make a goddess of the Virgin.”—”God the Word,” said he, in another sermon, “was not different after his incarnation from what he was before. There was still in both but one person to be adored by every creature.” And so in his Epistle to Alexander, Bishop of Hierapolis, he says, “Of the two natures there is but one authority, one virtue, one power, and one person, according to one dignity.” In all this, where is there any heresy? And in what respect, I should be glad to know, does this differ from the doctrine of the Council which condemned him?

But whatever may have been the sentiments of Nestorius, the Eastern Christians who were considered as his followers rejected the title as a calumny. “Nestorius,” said they, “was not our patriarch, but the patriarch of Constantinople. He was a Greek, and we are Syrians. We do not even understand his language, nor did he ever propagate his doctrines in our territories. Why should we be called by the name of a new doctor? Our religion is most ancient and apostolic, received from the time of the Apostles who taught among us. If Nestorius believed as we do, he followed us, not we him.”

[18] Similar language is used by those called Monophysites, respecting the errors attributed to them. Assemani, the learned librarian of the Vatican, himself a Syrian, though of the Roman Communion, admits that the greater and sounder part of these sectaries, as he terms them, deserted, even, from the very beginning, the doctrines of Eutyches, relating to the confusion and blending of the two natures in Christ, and did not even scruple to pronounce against him their anathema. He admits also that the doctrine of Xenayas, and not of Eutyches, is that which the Jacobites follow even to this day; and he states the doctrine of Xenayas to be, that there is one nature in Christ, composed of the divine and human; but free from all conversion, confusion, or mixture. “Thus,” he adds, “the Son, who is one of the Trinity, hath united to himself personally in the womb of the Mother of God, a body endowed with a rational soul and mind.” What is this but to assert that Christ is perfect God, and perfect man? We cannot but lament that the adorable mystery of the Incarnation should be thus profanely made the subject of vain jangling. But, making due allowance for the imperfections of language, and the confusion of men’s minds under the influence of their passions, here is a plain recognition of the orthodox doctrine, “neither confounding the person, nor dividing the substance.” Indeed, the two bodies of Eastern Christians, of whom we are [18/19] now speaking, are not only equally Orthodox with the Greek and Roman churches, on the subjects of the Trinity and Incarnation, but, as we shall see more particularly hereafter, vastly superior to them both, in the purity with which they have preserved the ancient doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church.

There must have been, therefore, other motives to keep alive dissension; and a sufficient one is presented in the political condition of the parties. From the period when the emperors became Christian, they intermeddled, more or less, with ecclesiastical affairs. As is usual with men of worldly minds, most of them sought to make religion subservient to worldly purposes. Constantinople was to be elevated at the expense of Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome. They even attempted, through the instrumentality of religion, to legislate beyond the limits of their empire. Hence the decree of Chalcedon, requiring the Bishops resident among Barbarians to be consecrated by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and amenable to his jurisdiction. The first opposition to the Council of Ephesus was made by the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Syrian Bishops. The first refusal to accept its decrees, proceeded from the Persian School at Edessa, the Theological Seminary, if I may use a modern term, of the Church in Persia. This school was consequently suppressed by the Emperor, its buildings demolished, and its teachers and pupils banished. What was the consequence? They were received with open arms in Persia, and those teachers were [19/20] immediately made bishops. The King of Persia favoured them, for the same political reason which led the Emperor to oppress them; and his only reason for afterwards driving the Monophysites from his kingdom was, that he confounded them with the Greeks, who were branded with the odious name of Melchites, or adherents of the emperor.

I might, by a similar induction of facts, account for the jealousies which prevailed among the Monophysites; and also for the strife which began between the Greek and Roman Churches. That it had nothing to do in reality with the question of orthodoxy is evident from the fact, that all the contending parties continued to use the same Creeds, and the same Liturgies as those which were in use in their respective Churches before the schism.

Now then let us consider, what was the consequence with regard to the progress of the Gospel?

[21] From the commencement of this schism it was checked; and, instead of increasing; it declined.

The two patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, and the regions beyond the Roman Empire, included at that time an immense body of Christians. When you consider how much of Asia and Africa they comprehended, and the crowded population of those countries, the estimate will not appear to you incredible, that they far outnumbered the Christians who held communion with Constantinople. How sad is the reverse at the present day! Persecuted by the Emperors, the Monophysites joined the standard of any hostile power which could protect them from imperial fury. The Arabian Impostor adroitly took advantage of their necessities. It is reported of him that he said to his followers: “Treat the Copts of Egypt kindly; for they are united to you by birth and affinity. Whoever injures a Christian Copt injures me.” The Jacobites of Egypt therefore admitted without difficulty the Mahometan yoke, because with them it was a question only of a milder or a more severe slavery.

[22] It was so, on the other hand, with the Nestorians. Amid the shifting dynasties, which, for a time passed over the Eastern regions like clouds driven by the storm, they were, by the conquerors, protected and treated with indulgence. Why? Because they were considered as enemies of the Roman Emperor. Thus it was under the Caliphs and the Moguls, under Genghiz-chan and Tamerlane. “You must not put the Nestorians on the same footing with the Greeks,” said a great Arabian doctor to the Vizier of Bagdad, “for the Nestorians have no other Sovereign than the Arabs, whereas the Greeks are subject to a monarch who is continually waging war with the Arabs.” In consequence of such suggestions, no Greek Metropolitan was allowed to live in Bagdad, and the Patriarch or Catholic of the Nestorians only, was permitted to exercise jurisdiction over the Jacobites and Melchites.

It was not so, however, when the Caliphate passed from the hands of the Arabians, for the very obvious reason that the Christians were no longer the instruments of political ambition. About the middle of the eighth century the Turks, another horde of Tartars, broke from their fastnesses in the Caucasus, and sweeping before them all that opposed their fury, first overthrew the dominion of the Saracens, and then turned their arms against the Greek Emperor. Having embraced the Mahometan Faith, they persecuted the Christians of whatever name, with the utmost cruelty.

[23] In the mean time the miserable dissensions in the Greek Church had increased; and kept pace with the superstition of the people, the corruption of the clergy, and the profligacy of the Court. Council followed Council with contradictory decrees and mutual anathemas. The fatal controversy respecting the worship of images arose under Leo the Isaurian, and his son and successor Constantine Copronymus. Under the influence of the base Irene, the Image-worshippers gained the victory; and that Divine displeasure which always follows idolatry was now poured on the devoted Empire. Even when a relentless foe were thundering beneath their walls, the hapless Greeks were disputing within, Whether the light which surrounded the person of our blessed Lord at the transfiguration was created or eternal? Constantinople fell; and a night of thick darkness overspread three-fourths of the Christian world.

Where was Europe?—where were the Christians of the West during this frightful calamity? We all know the apathy with which that great event was regarded. Constantinople fell, unwept and unhonoured, because the Latin Church looked with a secret pleasure on the humiliation of her rivals. It was not until the formidable Ottoman power began to meditate the conquest of the West, that Europe awoke from her lethargy. The battle of Lepanto, and the defeat of the Turks by Sobieski, under the walls of Vienna, saved the Latin Church from sharing the fate of the Eastern and Greek Christians.

These events showed that the power of the Crescent had culminated. We have seen in our own days its gradual [23/24] descent towards the horizon. It will set forever, when the purposes of God are accomplished by the restoration of Christian unity.

The schism which took place in the year 484, between the Greek and Latin churches by the violent and unjustifiable proceeding of Felix, had been healed, after it had lasted thirty-five years, by the piety and prudence of Hormisda. The restoration of harmony had been attended with a blessed effect; for the only real extension of the Christian faith which took place after the first fatal division, either within the Greek or Roman limits, was in the period now named. The Saxons were converted by the missionaries of the pious Gregory in the year 596, the Scots and Picts, and some of the German nations, by St. Columban, who died in the year 615. The Abasgi between the Euxine and the Caucasus, the Heruli beyond the Danube, the Alans, Lazi and Zani near the Caspian, were added to the Church under the Patriarch of Constantinople; and subsequently by the apostleship of Methodius and Cyril, a scion of the Greek Church, was planted in Russia.

But in the year 858, the learned, though ambitious and violent Photius, became Patriarch of Constantinople, in the room of Ignatius, whom the emperor had driven into exile. Ignatius appealed to the Bishop of Rome, who, always glad of an opportunity to oppose the Emperor, and thereby increase his own authority, espoused his cause, and excommunicated Photius. The new patriarch, in the year 866, assembled a council, and flung back the excommunication upon Nicholas. From that time the schism was incurable. The fury with which the Latins treated the Greeks, during their occupation of Constantinople in the time of the Crusades, was nearly equal to that of the Mahometans themselves.

[25] We are accustomed to hear much said in favour of unity by the adherents of the Latin Church and indeed, that is the specious argument by which many a Christian soul is moved to continue in her communion, or beguiled to embrace it. But of all the violators of unity she is the greatest. The first recorded instance of unlawful excommunication was her deed; and if we trace her history from the time of the ultimate schism between her and the Greek Church, we shall find it written in characters of violence and blood. By whom were the Eastern Christians excommunicated, because they would not keep Easter always on the first day of the week? By whom was Acacius excommunicated, because he was endeavouring to heal the divisions of the Church, without appealing to the authority of Rome? By whom has excommunication been levelled at temporal princes, not on account of false doctrine, or immoral practices, but because of their refusal to submit to a usurped authority? By whom, for the same cause, have whole kingdoms been placed under interdict, and the people deprived of all the ministrations and comforts of religion, until their stubborn rulers should bow the neck under the foot of papal supremacy? By whom were the blood-hounds of the Inquisition let loose? By whom has civil persecution for errors of faith, been systematically practised and defended? Need I answer these questions? Does [25/26] not the heart of every one here present respond to me? I seek not, Fathers and Brethren, to rouse your indignation against the members of that communion. Many of them are among my nearest and dearest friends; and in the view of their holy character as it brightens before the eye of memory, I may truly say, as one of them said of a member of our communion, May my soul be with theirs when the Judge of all the earth shall weigh the motives and the actions of men. But it is impossible to refrain from speaking out the deep conviction that the Latin Church is in a state of schism which amounts to a fearful apostacy.

It was after her separation from the Greek Church, that the word was invented, and the doctrine defined, of transubstantiation; that the invocation of the Virgin and the Saints [26/27] was introduced into her ritual; that the doctrine of purgatory, was established as an article of faith,—the cup denied to [27/28] the laity,—and the worship of Images required. It was after that event, that Gregory the Seventh modelled the Church in imitation of the Feudal system; that, the Scriptures were no longer permitted to be read by the people; and to sum up all in a word, that she hung upon her own neck the mill stone of infallibility, by which the retractation of any error, once adopted, is of necessity rendered impracticable.

Rome has in fact occasioned the dissensions among the Protestants. Her schoolmen were the first to depreciate the Apostolic character by raising the question, whether Bishops were superior to Presbyters. They gravely debated, if the Pope were not properly a God upon earth; and in their zeal to exalt his character, they maintained that he alone held his office by divine right, and that all other Bishops were his creatures.

Rome has uniformly persecuted all Bishops of her communion, who have dared to maintain the independence of their order. Witness the Spanish Bishops at the Council of Trent. Witness the Jansenists of the last century. [28/29] Witness the attempts at reformation in Tuscany. [29/30] Witness the Constitutional Bishops of France; and [30/31] even in 1831, the refusal of the communion in his last moments to the virtuous and pious Bishop Gregoire, for no other reason than because he was a Jansenist, and, as such, hostile to the corruptions of the Court of Rome.

[32] And this is the power that talks to us of schism, and asks us Where our Church was before Luther, and laughs at the endless variations of the Protestants! Yes, unhappily there [32/33] are variations,—unhappily there are schisms, by which the progress of the word of God is “sore let and hindered.” But for many of those schisms, who, at the last day, will have to answer? By what fear are truly pious and conscientious men prevented from embracing primitive truth and order, but by a false association with the enormities of popery? By what sophistry are truly learned men so prejudiced as to shut their eyes against the testimony of antiquity, but that which represents it as favourable to Roman doctrine or discipline Rome, like her first Imperial persecutor, sits in purple on her seven hills, and sings over the ruins which she herself has made!

And what, since the final schism in the ninth century, has Rome accomplished for the salvation of the world? She talks of “the sterility of protestant missions;” what has she herself effected by all the vast array of her Propaganda, and the indefatigable zeal of missionaries, worthy of a better cause?

[34] She has attempted to bring back the Nestorians, the Jacobites, the Greeks, the Protestants, to her communion? What has she effected? or what will she ever be able to effect?

Her attempts on the misnamed Nestorians began as early as the year 1289; but her chief exertions were made in the sixteenth century, when the Portuguese established themselves on the coast of Malabar. At first her missionaries were received by those ancient Christians with kindness and confidence. Christian unity is so consonant with Christian love, and a sense of Christian duty, that where these prevail, and there are no opposing duties, it can hardly be hindered. But they soon found that to be united with Rome, they must violate the great principles of unity contained in the Scriptures. Gouvea, a Portuguese author, relates, that when the Jesuit Roz showed them an image of the Virgin Mary, they exclaimed, “Away with that uncleanness! We are Christians: we do not worship idols.”

They were accused of the impious errors, of not having images in their churches;—of disbelieving purgatory;—of [34/35] acknowledging but three sacraments, Baptism, Holy Orders, and the Eucharist;—of substituting the Sign of the Cross for Extreme Unction;—of requiring communion in both kinds;—of permitting their bishops, priests, and deacons to marry. After a short subjection, during which they suffered [35/36] all the rigours of the Inquisition, the greater part of them fled to the mountains and renounced all communion with Rome forever.

It was so with the Monophysites, falsely so called, in Armenia, Syria, Egypt and Abyssinia. For a season they desired a union, and the King of Abyssinia permitted Jesuits to be sent from Rome as Bishops of his kingdom. Attempts were there made, similar to those already mentioned, to introduce the Romish doctrines, and enforce the papal supremacy. But the jealousy of an absolute sovereign, and the unconquerable aversion of the nobles, clergy and people, quickly put an end to the mission.

Small indeed is the number of those who have been allured by any motive to embrace the Roman communion. With the exception of the Maronites of Mount Libanus, a few Armenians, and a few Melchites, who serve at Rome to swell the train of the Pope, and grace the pageantry of a procession, the most zealous efforts of the Latin Church to gain other Christians have been hitherto unavailing.

If we examine the progress of her missionaries in heathen countries, we shall find nearly the same results. They have been obliged to practice the arts of deception; to be silent as to their real motives; to appear only as mathematicians, naturalists, surgeons, or even as merchants. Under such [36/37] pretenses they entered China; and so long as their ultimate objects were not discovered, they enjoyed the patronage of the Emperor. The moment these objects were known, they were banished or put to death. Instead therefore of aiding the cause of Christianity, the attempts of the Roman missionaries have served only to retard its progress.

Their success among some of the Heathen forms no exception to this remark. Savage nations are struck by external splendor and imposing ceremonies; and they may easily be led to practice the latter, without any sanctification or internal change. The surprising affinity also between many of the rites of the Church of Rome, and those of some Pagan nations, deceive them into the belief that the religion they are asked to embrace is only a new variety of their own. “I have heard missionaries themselves relate,” says Chardin, “that when the Portuguese came to India, and had erected and adorned churches, the Indians ran thither in crowds, admiring with great pleasure the statues of wood, silver and gold, with which they were filled, and the draped images of our Lord and of the Holy Virgin. And they said one to another, Oh, these are our brethren, come from a new world, and having the same religion as our own; and they called the image of Jesus Christ Brahma, and that of the Holy Virgin, Daixeri.”

It is beyond contradiction, then, even from this inadequate view of the subject, that schism has been the great retarding [37/38] obstacle to the progress of the gospel; and we cannot but perceive that the emphatic words of the text are to be regarded as a solemn warning to the Church, by the prophetic voice of her Lord and head. “I pray for them—that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also maybe one in us:—THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME.”


What reason then, it may be asked, Fathers and Brethren, have we to hope that our efforts to spread the gospel may be successful? And I answer, because we are of those who are the least guilty of violating the unity of the Christian Church. Let us dwell as briefly as possible on this second head of our argument.

Every Christian who acknowledges, in the language of the Apostle, that Jesus Christ is Lord of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth; that by him all things consist, or are kept in being; and that he is head over all things for his Church; will view the political movements of the world, and the whole mechanism of second causes, with a very different eye from the mere worldly historian or statesman.

Thirty-nine years after the downfall of Constantinople, Columbus gave a new world to Leon and Castille. The Pope who began to reign the same year, with that prodigal generosity which gives what is not its own, divided this new world between Spain and Portugal, forbidding all other nations to intermeddle with their property.

Had this decree been obeyed, how different would have been our lot, and how changed the history of the world!

But a nation, of whom the Pope, when he drew his line, little thought, was rising into a mighty maritime power, and [38/39] within forty-two years released itself from papal dominion. Since that time, while Spain and Portugal have sunk into secondary and uninfluential kingdoms, England has risen to be the great colonizing power—the mother of nations.

Her dominion and her influence have been extended throughout the world. She has carried her language, her arts, her learning, her refinement, her noble and manly freedom, her morals, and above all other rich treasures, her religion, to the four corners of the earth. Who is there among my hearers, that in surveying all the blessings, civil, political, spiritual, which surround him, and contrasting them with the condition of the rude, and ignorant, and turbulent, and bigoted republics of Spanish America, does not bless God, that we, as a nation, are descended from Englishmen!

As far as it is allowed to human foresight to penetrate into the designs of Omnipotence, the vast dominions of England in India, New Holland, the Cape of Good Hope and America, are all destined to become the abode of millions and millions of civilized men, speaking her language, and possessing her institutions. The colonies of other nations have been subjected to her sway. The United States are the only colonies she has lost; and however painful the event which separated them from her, it can hardly be called a loss. For it has enabled her to turn her immense resources into other channels. It has converted a dependent into a nation, alike emulous of her fame and her charity. It has given her a coadjutor in executing the plans of Almighty wisdom, and extending to the rest of mankind the rich blessings of civil liberty and religious knowledge.

But while England and the United States are allied by the most sacred ties in the great work of doing good, there is one striking characteristic in which the two nations differ. If England is eminently a colonizing nation, we are equally remarkable for the entire absence of such a quality. We rival England in commercial enterprise, and probably surpass her in that adventurous daring which belongs to all classes of [39/40] our citizens. Go where you will, and you find Americans. But you will find them as individuals, not as colonies. To colonize, is contrary to the very spirit and theory of our government. Even the little colonies of Liberia and Cape Palmas are independent. Let us then consider what bearing this remarkable difference between the two countries must have in fitting us for the great work of evangelizing the world.

When by the gathering strength of public opinion, the movements of an obscure monk could shake to its foundation the papal throne, nowhere were so much moderation and prudence displayed as in England. Under the auspices of Cranmer and Ridley, two Bishops of most extensive learning and indefatigable industry, a very exact revision took place both of the doctrine and discipline of the Church. It is recorded of them both, that in no instance did they pronounce any tenet of the Latin Church to be heretical, until they had diligently examined all that was said on the subject by ancient authors, and were able to say with precision at what period of time it was introduced. And it deserves especially to be remarked, that the decisions of the first four general councils were then recognised as the limit to which it was designed to bring back the condition of the English Church. [40/41] In a word, their object was to go back to that period which I have named from the year 431 to the year 451, when the two last of the four councils so called, those of Ephesus and Chalcedon, took place.

I have, I trust, shown to your satisfaction, that the misnamed Nestorians and Monophysites hold the same doctrines which those two councils have defined. Consequently the decision of those four first general councils expresses the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Now in the first year of Queen Elizabeth, the act of parliament, by which the supremacy of the crown, or its ancient jurisdiction over the estate ecclesiastical and spiritual was re-established, expressly names the adjudication of the first four general councils as being the sense of the Church of England.

[42] Had the United States remained colonies of Great Britain, our Church would have grown up a sickly plant under the withering shade of state protection. We should have been the perpetual objects of jealousy and dislike to the different sects by which our land was peopled. In fact, this very jealousy of the designs of the Mother country, with regard to the establishment of Bishops in the Colonies, hastened the separation. To all human view it seemed as if the feeble communion, then known as the Church of England in America, would be annihilated by the revolution.

But “God seeth not as man seeth.” That very revolution produced a new epoch in the history of the Christian Church.

Events in this world are connected in so continuous a chain, that to estimate our own revolution properly we must [42/43] go back to the English revolution of 1688. By that, the great principle of religious toleration had been established. Divine Providence took that method of convincing mankind, that however desirable unity may be, it is not to be enforced by the penal sanctions of temporal power.

Yet there was one exception to this spirit of mild forbearance. The Episcopalians of Scotland, under the odious name of Jacobites, were hunted like the partridge on the mountains. Their worship was proscribed; their Bishops driven from their sees; their priests and deacons imprisoned, if they ventured to officiate even within the sanctuary of their own dwellings. Yet the Episcopacy of Scotland survived it all, and has still continued to flourish. Even in the moments of its deepest sorrow, it had the courage to assume a responsibility before which the English Church, or rather the English Policy, quailed. It became the honoured instrument of extending the Apostolic succession to this country in the person of her first Bishop; and within a few years it has again set the glorious and first example of sending abroad a Missionary Bishop, to oversee the multitudes of English residing on the continent of Europe, who are in perpetual danger of being allured to forsake the primitive faith. Of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, an English Bishop of the last century remarked, that, were St. Paul on earth, he would seek for communion among them. Their Liturgy, or communion service, is in its form more perfect, and more agreeable to ancient usage, than that of the Church of England, and it served as a model for ours.

[44] From the time of Constantine, the Christian Church had been so connected with the State, that men began to doubt whether it could stand without political support. That problem was first solved by the case of the Scottish Episcopalians, and still more conspicuously by ours.

When the American government was formed, the very diversity of religious belief prevented the formation of a national establishment. All the ties were severed by which the State was bound to provide maintenance for the clergy. In this way the members of the Church of England in America, were at once freed from all restrictions imposed by political power, and left to arrange their own affairs, as a spiritual community under their own bishops.

The advantage taken of this liberty was, not to rest as England did at the condition of the Church in the fifth century, but to go back to that brightest and best period of antiquity, which preceded the conversion of Constantine, and in which the blood of the martyrs was eminently the seed of the Church. While in doctrine, and in all the great essentials of Christian unity, we symbolize with England, and the ancient Eastern Christians, our discipline, and the form of our government, are carried back to the simplicity of that period, in which the apostolic prophet of Patmos, saw in the midst of the golden candlesticks, one like unto the Son of Man.

Does not even this imperfect sketch present to your view, the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and the Church of England, as the least guilty of violating the unity of the Christian Church? And consequently does it not point them out as being the most likely instruments in the hands of Providence, of executing the designs of Almighty Benevolence towards a lost and perishing world? Let me then, hasten in the last place, [44/45] to propose such considerations as may seem most suitable to encourage us in the great work we have undertaken.


It has already been observed that America differs from England in not being a colonizing nation; or rather, I might have said, that our colonies are formed within our own territory. The youth of our soil are pressing in crowds to the West. Scarcely a ship enters our ports which is not freighted with strangers flocking to our shores. The multitudes are like sheep fainting for want of spiritual food; and if we imitate our divine master, we shall be moved with compassion on them. When I say then that America is not like England a colonizing nation, I mean that she is not fitted, nor can she desire, to send colonies into foreign countries. Her own territory is already too extensive to admit of a wish for more. Were it not for the constantly increasing facilities of communication, the enlargement of her borders, even by internal emigration, would be rather a source of apprehension for the safety of our national union.

But for this very reason, the Protestant Episcopal Church of America is eminently qualified to become A MISSIONARY CHURCH. For, in the first place, foreign governments can have no reason to harbour any jealousy of our missions.

If the missionaries of Rome are sent, the head of their church is a temporal prince, and he openly assumes the right of being Lord over God’s heritage. Consequently foreign governments will always be jealous of those who are subject to his sway. Even now, there is a perpetual warfare silently carried on between him and the temporal princes of his communion, arising from their dread of his encroachments. But who can have any jealousies of an American missionary? He is totally unconnected with any political power; nor [45/46] does he seek to render the nations, to whom he bears the message of the gospel, subservient to any foreign master. Governments will see, then, that it is the love of Christ which constrains us, and not any worldly motive.

In the second place, there is an individuality in the American character, which fits us for this employment; an individuality, arising perhaps from the very circumstance, that we rely not on the influence of our nation, but on ourselves. Hence comes a disposition to assimilate ourselves with those among whom we sojourn;—to accommodate our manners to their habits, and usages, and institutions. In the American is to be seen none of that lofty bearing and cold reserve which arise perhaps from timidity, or national pride, or the distinctions of rank. From the feeling of equality which grows up with us from our cradle, we not only think ourselves on a footing with those we address, but we think them also on the same footing with us. There is a mutual reciprocity which begets kindness. The consequence is that no nation is more liked or better received than our own. Why may not this be considered as fitting us to imitate the Apostle, who “unto the Jews became as a Jew that he might gain the Jews;”—who “to the weak became as weak that he might gain the weak;”—who “was made all things to all men, that he might by all means save some.”

I need say but little of that daring and enterprising spirit of which I have spoken, and which, when sanctified by the Holy Ghost and exerted in the cause of Christ, will produce saints, and—if it be necessary—martyrs.

There is another consideration which ought to encourage us. A change has evidently taken place in the feelings of our Protestant brethren who have heretofore regarded us with an unfriendly aspect. I need not dwell on the causes of this change. Sufficient is it for us that it exists. Let us bless God, and hail it as a sign of that returning tenderness [46/47] which under a deep sense of mutual infirmities and mutual sin may exclaim,

Rise, let us no more contend, nor blame
Each other, blamed enough elsewhere, but strive
In offices of love how we may lighten
Each other’s burden.

Even the intelligent and pious laity of the Roman communion will see, we have reason to hope, that our views are truly Catholic; and that we contend, not against the great principles of Catholic verity, but against the corruptions and the despotism of Rome.

[48] May we not then indulge the belief that the time will come, when, as a nation, Americans may go forth “comely as Jerusalem”—being “at unity in itself”—and therefore “terrible [48/49] as an army with banners,” against the enemies of God. We ask not for the aid of our civil government. Oh no—no. The time will come when that government will need the aid of Christians. A dear bought experience will prove that no government can be stable which has not the Gospel for its foundation.

But if ever America is united as one Church, let its proceedings be separate from the polluting influence of worldly power or policy. The disciples of Christ are not of the world, though they are in the world; and in the language of our Divine Master, while we pray that we may be one, we pray also that God will keep us from the evil.

Wherefore, Holy Fathers and Brethren, partakers of the Heavenly calling, let us “gird up the loins of our mind,” and prepare to go forth in the service of Christ to spread the knowledge of the Gospel in heathen lands, and to aid with the light of our knowledge, those Christians who are less favoured than ourselves.

[50] Let us send out our bishops to “look how our brethren fare and to take their pledge.” Wherever we find them “holding the mystery of the Faith in a pure conscience,” let us return to the good old practice of the primitive Church, and receive from their hands the bread of life. In that way we shall show them that we come as Christian brethren, not as “Lords over God’s heritage.” A Bishop sent to explore the condition of the Eastern Christians, and another sent to the Greek Church, would, from their official character, be better received than presbyters could ever be. Each would associate with their bishops as an equal. He would learn with accuracy the condition of their churches from the Overseers of those churches, the only persons capable of giving the information we require. This would enable us the better to know and provide for their wants. As it regards the heathen, such a measure would be opening also abundant sources of information, because they who dwell near them and understand their language and their modes of thinking, will be best able to point out the path in which we can most surely and effectually walk to bear to them the light of the word.

“For Zion’s sake,” then, “let us not hold our peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake, let us not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.”

Let us go forth to the fulfilment of our high destiny.—Let us go forth to bear the name of Christ to every land which the sun survey.—Let us go forth IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY—NOR CEASE OUR EXERTIONS BUT WITH OUR LIVES, TO BEAR THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AND OF HIS CHRIST EVEN TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

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