NEWTON, ASSISTANT BISHOP OF VIRGINIA, IN THE
MONUMENTAL CHURCH, RICHMOND, VA.,
MAY 16, 1894.
That they may all 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.--ST. JOHN xvii. 2r.
THIS prayer has never yet been answered. Though nearly nineteen hundred years have passed away since the great High Priest spake this petition, standing before the altar cross, on which He would offer Himself for the redemption of the world, the world does not believe that His Father did send Him.
More than this: Nearly a thousand years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth the Lord Jehovah had revealed unto two of His servants, the prophets, that "in the last days" "the mountain of the Lord's house should be established in the top of the mountains," and "exalted above the hills" and that " all nations should flow unto it." But manifestly "the last days" are not yet, for the multitude of the nations still passeth by the very doors of the Lord's house, and refuseth to enter in because it believeth not that therein it may behold the King in His beauty; that there will He teach men of His ways, and show them His paths of safety and delight. Yes, though it be true, as it is true, that the religion of the Christ is to-day the controlling influence among men, yet, it is equally true that the slow progress of the kingdom of Jesus in overcoming and absorbing the kingdoms of this world, the ever bolder defiance of the unbelief which refuses His beneficent sovereignty, the accumulating noise of the raging waves of anti-Christian perplexity--these things are sorest trial to the faith of the disciples of to-day.
Three thousand souls, we are told, were added in one day, [3/4] that great day of Pentecost, to whose annual celebration we are just now come, to the little company of ignorant, despised Galileans, who had just come forth from the borrowed chamber wherein they have been dwelling with closed doors lest the foes of the Master may seize them for their very companionship with Him. A single sermon had been preached by one of their number, a man whom many in his audience could recognize as the braggart who was quick to draw his sword when the band led by the traitor invaded the solitude and the agony of Gethsemane; and just as quick to deny with an oath that he ever knew the man, when he stood by the fire in the court of the high priest's palace and looked from afar upon the prisoner whom he had sworn to stand by to the death. But despite the character, the known character of the preacher; despite the furious animosity of the rulers known as well; despite the consequent expectation that confession of the crucified one as the Messiah, the Christ, the King of Israel, the Son of God, would surely bring persecution, perhaps the prison and the cross, three thousand were added unto the believers that day. Within a very short time the three thousand had become five thousand; the increase is constant, "the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly," and, stranger still, "a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." Soon the multitude has grown so great that a new feature in the organization appears, because made necessary. And the Deacons are appointed by the men to whom had been given by the King supreme authority in His Kingdom. The predicted persecution is begun, and forces the regenerating Word beyond the limits of the city where it must first be spoken. Samaria is evangelized, because the preacher runs thither to escape the stones which have killed his brother Stephen; and thus by providential interference the first step is taken in the journey which must be made under the guidance of that same Spirit "unto the uttermost parts of the earth." And three hundred years thereafter--mark it, only three hundred years--the religion of the despised Galilean has become the inspiring faith of the all-conquering Roman. The eagles of the empire which had defiled the holiest place of the temple of Jehovah are no more seen at the head of [4/5] the invincible legions, but in their stead the Labarum, the ensign bearing the sign of the Cross and the sacred monogram of the name of Him who died thereon--the temple which death itself could not defile. Yes, mark it, in less than three hundred years from that day in which Simon Peter did preach the first sermon the world ever heard in the name of Jesus; from that day in which the number of the names together of believers in Jesus was one hundred and twenty; the world's master has bowed in worship before the Galilean, the victor has been vanquished, and the Church of Jesus has made a progress greater, perhaps, in view of all the circumstances of her advance, than in all the centuries which have succeeded. And the heart of the Christian of to-day is troubled, and the mind of the Christian of to-day is of necessity asking the question, Why is it so? Why is it that for five times three hundred years the Kingdom has made so small a relative advance? Why has not victory full and complete perched upon our standards? Why do not all the nations flow into the Lord's House as promised of old? Why does not the world believe that His Father did send our Lord, as in His all-prevailing intercession He did plead? The answer is given in the words of our text. He prays not that this result for men might be accomplished without the aid and instrumentality of men, by the immediate and direct interposition of the power of Jehovah, but He prays that under the controlling influence of the Paraclete, the Comforter, whom He would send from the Father, all believers in Him might be one; that so the world might believe in His true mission from the Father. "That they may all be one"--how? Manifestly in some sense visibly one, for only such unity can be the agency for the convincing of the world round about, ignorant and thoughtless. "That they may all be one"--how? As God the Father and God the Son are one, which union must surely be organic, and cannot be consistent with rivalry and jealousy, with competition for the favor of the people, with refusal to have fellowship in even the one peculiar act of Christian worship, with wasteful extravagance in men and money in the proud endeavor to maintain rival organizations in the same town. Manifestly, [5/6] the Christian unity already attained cannot be that for which Jesus prayed, because beyond a question the result has not been accomplished of which He made our oneness the means.
And yet let us not fail to recognize that there is already a unity among Christians, real and appreciable, and, I thank God that I can add, increasing. There is a unity of the spirit among those who differ most widely in opinion, in organization, in mode of worship. Perhaps 'tis to this partial and maimed unity that any progress of the Kingdom has been due in the centuries which have passed since the beginning of sorrows, the rending of the one Body by the proud opinions of men. This would seem to be proven by the word of Scripture, as also by the increase in missionary zeal and activity since the acrimony of theological and religious opinion has been measurably sweetened by the light of free discussion, by the touch of united philanthropic endeavor. Through One Body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, did the Lord pray that His Father would operate by the Holy Ghost to convince the world of His own lordship and authority; and by that Body, broken, divided, enfeebled, does this inhabiting Spirit still effect that the Body shall make increase " unto the building up of itself in love." Broken, divided, enfeebled, yet by the power of the Holy Ghost, the only agent of any veritable growth, there has been, and there is, a building up of loving fellowship among those who call themselves Christians. Let us thank God for this! Let us labor and pray that this unity of spirit among all who name that precious name may be intensified! But let us not be satisfied with that which is still so partial, so disappointing, so inadequate to accomplish the great work He has given us to do. Because the increase of spiritual unity must clear our vision to see more clearly our unhappy divisions, to see more clearly the great dangers, we are in, by reason of the furious might of our enemy, and the necessity for all the vantage which belongs to us if we shall conquer; let us recognize, let us rejoice in, let us emphasize the Christian unity which does exist despite all our divisions, for Christian unity must at last lead to Church unity, the visible [6/7] expression of the invisible life; the material agent which Christ appointed whereby the Spirit of Grace shall convince the world of the sin of refusing Him whom the Father did send, of the righteousness that is gone to the Father's throne whereof all men may share, of the judgment of their great enemy who has been conquered by the King. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. Oh, that Christian men and Christian teachers would more fully realize it. Not the elaborate completeness of organization, not the methods, new or old, of evangelistic operation; not the chaste beauty of Gothic architecture; not the eloquence of the preacher; not the glorious harmonies of the artists; not the sweet sensuous effect of the perfectly-appointed ritual; nor one nor all of these shall convince the world that His Father did send our Lord. The Spirit, the constraining Spirit alone can do this mighty work, but, according to the declaration of Jesus, using as instrument the unity of believers, unity, real and spiritual, unity in spirit and in truth, manifested in unity of action. Therefore we hear the exhortation of the greatest Apostle to the Ephesians sounding out down the ages, "Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness; with long suffering; forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Then he adds without the connecting words, "there is," inserted by our translators, "One body and one spirit." This is the full, the perfect unity of the Spirit for which the Master prayed. The spiritual life must have visible habitation. The soul dwelleth not apart from the body, here on the earth, but in the body. So the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, dwelleth in the one Body, that He may minister grace and salvation through their faith unto all men. Is it not, then, well and right that Christian men shall give thought to the existing evils of our divided state? Is not the question of Church unity, then, a very pressing and practical one to the man who believes in Jesus and in His Word, who is looking for and halting unto the completion of the redemptive work? If He did pray for the oneness of all believers as the means of accomplishing that for which He was content to die, shall I be content with [7/8] the traditional interpretation that this oneness is satisfied by the unreal, sentimental sham which goes by that name among us? Nay, rather, am I not bound by my loyal allegiance to Him to search for other meaning of His words than this which describes a condition which has produced no sufficient result to justify its claim to have been designated by the omniscient Christ? And I am guided in my quest by the recognition of the patent fact that organic unity--"one body, one spirit"--was real and actual in the period of the Church's greatest success, and that in every age progress has been proportionate to and measured by the approximation made to this ideal. Such convictions constrained the action of our Bishops at Chicago in 1886, and thereafter of the larger body, the assembly of the bishops of the whole Anglican Communion, at Lambeth, and published the now famous Chicago-Lambeth declaration, which, as was to have been expected, has been received in such varying spirit by the people to whom it was addressed. I shall not prolong this discourse by reciting in full the terms of this eirenicon. You know them, beloved brethren, as well as I. You know that the leaders of our Church gathered in council, after earnest prayer for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, have declared that in their judgment the tremendous peril of our existing condition and the consequent responsibility upon Christian leaders to strive to reunite the scattered squadrons, to recall the skirmishers to the line of defence; nay, to assemble every warrior of whatever weapon or uniform, if only he wear the Cross, to defend the very citadel which the enemy approaches to destroy. The world refuses to believe that God did send our Christ; nay, is beginning to demand that we who have confessed shall now deny Him. And because the hosts of our Israel are so divided and separated; because they have almost forgotten the one countersign of the great army and are busy with repeating those they have devised for the protection of their own little camps; because the several divisions are become almost strange to one another; nay, have been for long time in such fierce broil with their neighbors and friends that they have forgotten " that the ungodly cometh on so fast," the danger is imminent, and these veterans, albeit the commanders of but a handful [8/9] by comparison with other chieftains, are bound to cry aloud unto all who love Christ, Rally, rally on the very centre! Rally at the cross, which is our hope. Hasten back to stand where the army stood so long ago, when the battle raged fierce for three centuries and the field was ours. This is the meaning of the Chicago-Lambeth declaration, believe me, "Rally on the centre, lest the day be lost."
I affirm with all solemnity as in the sight of God, standing in this old pulpit, over which my eyes in earliest childhood did spell out the words, "Thou, God, seest me "--I affirm the honesty, the sincerity, the love for all who love our Lord Jesus Christ, which animated the men whose hands did sign this declaration. Listen carefully, my brother Christians of every name, and ye shall hear the tears falling in their voice, as they plead, at the cost of any sacrifice that loyalty to Christ will suffer them to make, for the restoration of the One Body by which the One Spirit may overcome our foes:
1. They affirm their earnest desire that the Saviour's prayer for the unity of His people may in its deepest and truest sense be speedily fulfilled.
2. They affirm the belief that all who have been duly baptized with water in the triune Name are members of the One Body.
3. They affirm their willingness to forego their preferences in all things of human ordering or human choice relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional customs.
4. They declare (will men not believe them?) that this Church does not seek to absorb other communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of the Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world.
This Church will give up anything and everything of "human ordering or human choice," but cannot give up the Holy Scriptures as the revealed Word of God, nor the ancient Creeds, one the Baptismal symbol, and the other the sufficient statement of the [9/10] Christian faith; nor the two Sacraments of Christ's appointment, ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution, and of the elements ordained by Him; nor, finally, can it give up the historic episcopate, though it may be locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
I have said that the response to this overture has varied in temper and tone from that of earnest, honest Christian willingness to labor for peace, to the scornful, contemptuous assertion in reply that it is but a new effort to aggrandize the Episcopal Church. From our own company have men arisen, speaking great swelling words of self-esteem, to tell us that they knew such response would come, and in a tone indicative of delight at the vindication of their prophetic gifts, they seem to find fulfilment of the prophecy in the fact that the doves long absent have not trooped at our bidding to the windows of the ancient house, as though the pleaders for peace had expected such immediate acceptance of the invitation. Are they disappointed, these doctrinaire dwellers in a narrow cave of ecclesiasticism, that some at least of the voices which have spoken reply are the voices of men of renown, leaders of great armies of intelligence and piety, and that they ring with hope for the reunion of God's people?
But, be it explicitly stated that, as was to have been expected, the larger part, indeed, almost all, of those who have made respectful reply, have halted firm in their approval when they have come to face the fourth term of our proposition, the acceptance of the historic episcopate as a condition of union.
Naturally this has been the case; naturally the question has been almost universal on the part of the ministers and teachers of other communions of Christians--greater, more powerful, as learned, as devout--Cui bono? If the Lord has vouchsafed the witness of His sanction and approval of our ministry in the glorious ingathering of souls, what else than vain presumption and pride of long descent can prompt this proposition that we acknowledge a deficiency which God has not marked; that we humiliate ourselves and dishonor our forefathers by the acceptance of new warrant of ministerial action, thereby conceding that [10/11] the old is valueless; nay, that we have had no warrant for the lifetime's labor, that we have all run before we were sent? If such marvellous success has crowned the enterprise of unauthorized ambassadors, far and away beyond that given to the possessors of the supposed seal of traditional authority, why shall we believe that the failure of unlimited conquest has been due to our separated condition; to the fact that our ministry may be able to trace its continued life but five hundred years, or but fifty? And our reply must be--yes, must be, if we be honest men, who look with fearless, unbiased eyes upon the facts of human history and of contemporary human life--a recognition perfect and complete of the fruits of the Spirit, hanging in round and ruddy maturity from the trees grown from seed planted by these servants whose due authority we seem not to admit. Beyond a question there are men in every denomination of Christians in America who have been equally enabled by the Spirit of Christ to live the life of Christ. And to the believer in the Word of God, whatever be his understanding of the constitution of the Church and ministry of Jesus Christ, there can be naught to surprise his intelligence in such universal manifestation. "The seed is the Word of God" and scattered by the hand of the duly-appointed steward, or dropped from the pocket of the tramp crossing the field, it will alike, falling into good ground, bring forth fruit--fruit special and peculiar--the fruit of the Spirit. Nay, more, the covenanted influences of heavenly grace--the sunshine, and the rain, and the dew, belong to the seed, wherever and by whomsoever planted. In the last days, saith God, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." "Forbid him not," said the Master to His disciples, angry that stranger and interloper, who companied not with them, did the same mighty works in His name that they were doing. "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us." "It is the spirit that quickeneth," "the flesh profiteth nothing"--the preacher, the sermon, the ritual, the absence of ritual, the shouting, the excitement, all these are "the flesh," profitless except they be quickened; and all may be quickened by the Spirit. Yes, beyond all controversy, it is the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who alone maketh efficacious any means [11/12] we may employ to convince the world that God did send His Son.
But are there not divinely designated instruments to whose due and faithful use the Spirit's gift is covenanted? Though it be true, blessed be God, that His abounding grace doth overflow all appointed channels; that, without the intervention of any agency, even by Himself ordained, God will give His Holy Spirit to all that ask Him; yet it is equally true, because resting upon the same sure Word of promise, that special assurance of heavenly bestowal is coupled to the faithful performance of designated actions. "Go, and preach the Gospel," is the parting command of the ascending Saviour; "he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved." But how shall they believe except they hear? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Therefore, go preach, and my Spirit shall go with you. But not only so: "Make disciples," He said unto them. How? "Baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and so are we not surprised that one of them proclaims to the people, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
"Do this in memory of me," is the commandment of the Christ in the last night of His mortal life, as, sitting at the borrowed table in the borrowed room, He takes in His hands the passover loaf, and the cup of praise, and gives to them, with thanksgiving, to eat and to drink. And St. Paul declares, in explanation, "The bread which we break, is it not the communion (participation) of the body of Christ? " " The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (participation) of the blood of Christ? " Here, again, He speaks: " I pray that they may all 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." And His Apostle, His greatest Apostle, the man of largest, most liberal spirit, whom no wide seas could hinder that he carry his message to farthest nation, whose thought and feeling no petty tradition of inherited ecclesiasticism could confine, who withstood his elder brother, Simon Peter, to the face when [12/13] he would narrow the liberty wherewith Christ had made man free--he expounds this oneness which shall compel belief, as "one body, one spirit."
Take away the written, the printed, the spoken Word, as a means of grace, because the Spirit who alone quickeneth can give life without the Word. Take away the element of water, which Christ has sanctified, separated unto the mystical washing away of sin, for the Spirit is surely not dependent upon any material instrument in the bestowal of His gift. Take away the bread and wine; let no eucharistic prayer be spoken, for the spiritual communion is surely as possible without as with these material adjuncts. Each demand has been made by disciples of Jesus as the centuries have passed by. Or mutilate and change, by addition or by diminution, the time-sanctioned ordinances in their material and their ministry, and yet the Spirit is given. Surely so; for, as I have said, the grace of God overfloweth all appointed channels. Just so, there is no marvel that mighty works have shown themselves as the result of the preaching of the pure Word of God, and the ministration of His holy sacraments by men who confessedly have cut themselves off from the one visible Body the historic Church, whose organic life is continued, and is proven by the regular, orderly transmission of authority from generation to generation of its rulers, according to the law of its life, determined and declared by its Founder. There is no denial of the spiritual life, of the spiritual power, of the blessed and glorious works for Christ of these our brethren. God forbid.
But there is the pleading with them that the oneness, which St. Paul delineates as that for which his Master and ours did pray, may be restored; that thereby the world may be convinced that God did send Him, and that the oneness--"one body, one spirit"--must be organic, not sentimental, the oneness of law and not of feeling, the oneness of common action and not of mere mutual admiration and good-will. But, on the other hand, remember it is not a unity of opinion, but in the faith, St. Paul and St. James being witnesses concrete and instant; nor does it involve and demand uniformity of devotional expression, as witness the varying uses of the several national divisions of the one [13/14] historic Church. Unity is not unanimity; nor yet is it uniformity. It must have a supreme allegiance to the written words of the King, and of His messengers duly accredited; these shall be the test and touchstone of all religious opinion, assuring widest liberty to honest thought in the broad fields of speculation which these confine. It must further have definition, plain, unmistakable, of the essential verities of the revelation from on high, about which there may be nor doubt, nor question, nor paltering, nor refinement; "that which hath been believed always and everywhere, and by all," as the very principle of the new life. It must have due and unfailing observance of the two simple ordinances of the King's own commandment in every minutest detail of His direction, and yet, above and beyond these details, a liberty to satisfy the varying spiritual needs of the countless worshippers. And, finally, it must have oneness of government, an organic life from the beginning, perpetuated by the transfer of authoritative rule, the rule of constitutional authority, and not of autocrat, fallible or infallible; such as Holy Scripture describes as existing in the year A.D. 45; and which Gibbon asserts to have been universally established throughout the Roman Empire before the year 200. This is the historic episcopate, the bond of a continuous life, the voice of the centuries' witness, the necessary condition of the perfect life and the sufficient witness; and yet locally adapted, again and again, yes, continually, in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
Here is nor place nor time for even the most meagre outline of the adaptations which the centuries have witnessed. The long, flowing Eastern robe of softest silk, of gorgeous colors, embroidered and braided, is not more widely different from our melancholy, tight-fitting, dusty, black garments than are the conception and the administration of his office held by John Chrysostom from those of the American Protestant bishop of to-day. The looseness and the freedom, the soft luxuriousness of the silken folds, are fitting symbols of the almost autocracy of the then ruler of the Church, torn into ribands, as it might be, by contact with rough usage, such as the self-willed emperor might deal out suddenly [14/15] to the prelate of his chief city. The close-fitting black coat of the Bishop of to-day binds sometimes very tight, and is by no means a comfortable garment for lolling ease, but it is good for the storm and the rough work of the missionary, even as the conditions of his rule, fastened about him in the shape of canons and committees are a protection to his liberty, though a hindrance to self-determined action. Nay, we need not go so far for illustration of the adaptation of the episcopate. Is it not as perfectly at home to-day in our free Republic, as in the mother isle, where for centuries it has been part and parcel of the Constitution, decorated with baronial dignity and title, and maintained in splendid opulence by the accumulated gifts of the faithful to the Church? At home, I said; yes, perfectly adapted in its methods of administration to govern a free Church in a free State, distinguished not by lordly title, or mansion, or equipage; but--may I not say it, as I stand in this place where I was born, and remember the men who have been to me and to my countrymen representatives of the historic episcopate--distinguished for self-denying devotion to the cause of Christ by unceasing labors to extend His Kingdom among men? What has been done can again be done; adaptations, manifold in almost every direction, give warrant for the assurance that other adaptations--it may be on wholly new and different lines--may be made when necessity or opportunity shall demand them for the restoration of the lost unity, for the providing of the one appointed witness for the world's conversion.
I know not, I cannot even in fancy picture to my thought, the adaptations which may be necessary to secure the longed-for unity. But this I know, that adaptation does not, may not mean destruction. The men who deride or despise our efforts are making merry just now, because in response to an invitation from the editor of a great newspaper a large number of our Bishops have plainly expressed their opinion of the unwisdom and inopportuneness of the proposition that in the interest of Church unity the Protestant Episcopal Church shall repeal its canon which forbids its ministers to interchange pulpits with ministers not episcopally ordained. Why have they thus spoken? Is their almost [15/16] unanimous opinion a denial of Christian life, and character, and graces to the men whom they declare their unwillingness to admit as occasional preachers in our pulpits? No; I answer a thousand times, no. But because they long for and labor for a real Christian union, therefore they are unwilling to advocate one that is a sham, and which is standing in the way of the coming of the true. They are not willing, Propter vitam, predere causas vivendi; they are not willing for the sake of a union which is apparent, superficial and worthless, which will and does provoke criticism of its unreality on the part of thoughtful unbelievers, and is a hindrance rather than a help to the bearing of the compelling testimony; they are not willing for the sake of this pleasing immediate result to give up one of the very principles which alone can effect a unity worthy of the name. They are content rather to wait and to pray, having done all that in them lies for the completion of the agency through which the Holy Ghost would accomplish His purpose. They can remember that when the eleven Apostles went back from the Mount of Ascension to the borrowed room in Jerusalem they did naught but fill up the vacant chair which treachery had emptied. Impatience and doubt were theirs as the days passed by without sign of the promised Paraclete, eager desire spurred them on to immediate activity; yet they waited and prayed, having done only that which they were taught to do, and at last came the rushing wind of conquest. Men and brethren, let us imitate their example. We have done all we dare to do; we hold fast to the essential principles of the Kingdom, we dare not let them go. All else, all else--religious opinion, theological theory, liturgical wealth, and ritual beauty, solemn custom and ancestral practice, disciplinary methods, even the very peculiarities of government--we have inherited from our fathers; everything of merely human choice or ordering we will give up. But these things--the Bible, the Creeds, the Sacraments, and the ministry, in their essential character--these are not ours to surrender. We will wait and pray. We will love all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. We will pray for them, that His grace may be theirs. We will strive to increase the spiritual unity already by God's grace existing among all [16/17] Christian men, that by and by it may compel its own materialization, that the expanding soul of the redeemed humanity may build for itself more stately chambers.
Adaptation there must be, and adaptation there can be, because adaptation there has been. Sometimes in visions of the night, to the soul weary with the din of controversy--controversy in general about matters of mere opinion--weary with the thought of disaster caused by division, of the slow progress of the Kingdom because of the lack of unity of movement, of the waste and weakness in the administration of Christian truth by reason of the jealous maintenance of opinions as principles, of practices and methods as the very essentials of the Gospel--to such a soul comes the vision of reunion, even here in America, of different administrations by the same Spirit, and in one Body. The Roman Bishop who has learned that his refinements of doctrine are "novelties," possibly legitimate opinions, but no part of the One Faith, and that the primacy of Peter was one of honor and not of government; the Presbyterian Bishop, with his body of Presbyter-Bishops closer about him, if he pleases, than his neighbors of the Episcopal communion stand about them, content with liberty to think with Geneva, if only he believe with Nica; the Methodist Bishop, with his conference of Elders, to whom he gives command, "saying to this man, Go, and he goeth," rejoicing in miraculous experiences such as Paul's, but not denying other paths of approach to God; the Baptist Bishop, claiming authority over but the one congregation, and insisting upon immersion as the only mode of Baptism; yet all united in one Body, meeting at long intervals in great Council to determine questions not of faith which are settled, nor yet of worship, which are local and to be determined by local authority, nor yet of Order, for it cannot be changed; but questions of practical moment how to bring the power of Christendom to bear upon the enemy it would destroy, without wasteful division and competition and failure.
In every town the church of high ritual, and of low ritual, and of no ritual, but all of the one Church, one in the Faith, if not in doctrine, and surely one in charity.
Why not? Is it not already true of the Protestant Episcopal [17/18] Church, that in the one communion are men holding differing theories of the ministry, of the Sacraments of the Church, of methods of operation, and worshipping with every different degree of ritual, ornament and ceremony?
Nay, more. Is it not true that the unchanging, the unchangeable Church of Rome permitted seats in the great Vatican Council to Bishops representing the Armenian, the Coptic and Chaldean rites, and that one most interesting feature of that great occasion to the visitor at Rome was the representation of all the various rites in one of the churches? I mention these things but as evidence of "adaptations" which have been made in the past as the pledge and guarantee of "adaptations" in methods of administration which may be made in the future. But, asks the editor of the Living Church, in the issue of last week, "Why not churches of the Unitarian rite and of the Universalist rite?" Because the historic episcopate is only one principle of unity, and the others precedent, notably "the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith," stands an immovable barrier against the entrance of any "churches of the Unitarian rite." Unity of Spirit, with unity of Body, this we seek, but it must be first and chief unity in the truth. Methods of administration may be "adapted" to secure the unity, but there can be no compromise, no slurring of any truth to secure it, for the quickening Spirit will not dwell in a Body which a lie has created, and such a Body must be dead, however it be garlanded with the flowers of eloquence and brotherly love and crowned with the jewels of popular success.
I am done. My beloved brother, one word let me speak to you ere we, thy brethren, shall stand about thee to give unto thee part of this ministry and apostleship from which Judas, by transgression, fell. It has seemed fit to me on this solemn occasion to speak to our countrymen of the declaration which the Fathers of the Church published in appeal to Christian men, to at least consider what we can do to accomplish the Lord's desire for our unity. I have desired to say what to me seems wrapped up in those words that offer adaptation of our historic episcopate to the needs of different nations and peoples, and to point to the [18/19] past as the pledge of possible adaptation in the years to come. But, dear brother, for you and for me this day let the chiefest thought be this: In one respect there can be no adaptation of the method of our administration, no matter for clamor or blandishment, ill-favor or applause. The Bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre, but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he bath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
Does your thought run back as you stand in this venerable, this historic church to-day, to Richard Channing Moore, the man who came to be its first Rector, and at the same time the bishop of the then struggling Church in Virginia? I can remember, or fancy that I remember, his stopping in his walk along one of your streets to pat on their heads some little boys busy with their marbles, and by his voice, his look, his manner to impress them that he was all that St. Paul did bid Titus to be. I can remember, as you can, the rugged simplicity, the stalwart manhood, the courage inflexible, and the unfailing tenderness of William Meade, who mourned in his youth over Virginia's Church as "lost," and lived to see it, largely by his own wise and fearless and tireless leadership, a power for God in Virginia and in the whole land. I am thinking, too, as you are, of Johns, the matchless pleader with men for God, the genial companion, the charm of the social circle, the fiery champion of what he believed true, and yet the tolerant, loving spirit who did rejoice that in any manner and by any agency Christ was preached.
I am thinking, too, of our Father, who still lives to guide Virginia's Church, to whom you are to be eyes and hands--the fitting successor he of the men who went before. Oh! my brother, there can be no change, no adaptation in obedience to any demand, of the spirit in which the episcopate of Virginia has been administered. What has that spirit been? Loyalty to Christ and the Church. Unswerving, unfaltering obedience to the law of the Church, and constant rebuke of the proud spirit of [19/20] individualism which would adapt the Church to suit the taste of the individual. Loyalty, liberty, love. These have been the watchwords of Virginia's Church, and here is no room for adaptation.
I rejoice with you this day that you are not called to give up the dear old home that you may obey the call to take the flag. Mark it well, the old flag has heard the storm of many a battle, and its staff bears evidence of the grasp of hands that would never suffer it to be lowered. Hold it higher! Let it float proudly to the breeze! 'Tis the old device. One Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all.
Watch and labor and pray that the men of the dear old State may read the inscription, because written large and free! Watch and pray and labor that from thine own example they may learn to know the meaning and the value of the true unity of the Church. Watch and labor and pray that Virginia may hold fast the old faith, the old order, and be a living example of the city foursquare, a rallying point for Christians of every name, till at last we shall all be One. Oh! God, hasten the day, for then the world shall believe that Jesus is God over all, blessed for evermore.