LONDON, PARIS, AND NEW YORK.
Most Rev. Fathers and Brethren Beloved--
It is with unfeigned diffidence that I stand before you this morning.
Deeply as I appreciate the honour of having been selected as your preacher, still more deeply am I burdened with a sense of the responsibility which rests upon me as your mouthpiece on this great occasion. Not that I am commissioned to speak your views, or declare what we have said or done, but I am your mouthpiece as guiding your thoughts in this closing hour, and summing them up in. words appropriate to the valedictory of this remarkable Conference. May the Holy Ghost so illumine my mind that I may think only those things which are right, and so touch my lips that I shall speak only that which shall be for the glory of the Triune God!
I shall not attempt to review the doings of the Conference now brought to an end. Within [3/4] this present month, and within the Library of Lambeth Palace, has been made a history, the record of which will constitute one of the most illuminated chapters in the annals of the Holy Catholic Church. Never before have so many English-speaking Bishops met together. Never before have all branches of the Anglican Communion been so fully represented in an ecclesiastical assembly. Such a gathering converges to itself the eyes of the thinking world, and such a gathering must radiate from itself a power for weal or woe that shall reach to far distant ages. The history of that Conference is made. The result of that Conference will be fully known only when the record of eternity shall be revealed. We met as standard-bearers of the Cross of Christ. That fact has been the prominent one in all our deliberations, and we separate to go back to our dioceses, more impressed than ever that it is in and through an uplifted Christfaithfully held up and fully displayed, that our work can be accomplished, and all men--men of all races, all climes, all countries--be drawn to the feet of the Crucified and to the Church, which is His Body. In this precious truth we have found not only a bond of personal union, but of real unity throughout the wide-spreading branches of our Holy Church.
Our little diversities, personal and national, as to non-essentials of faith and the accessories of [4/5] worship, look very small before the great essentials in which we all agree. We feel that we all rest on the same corner and foundation stones laid in Zion, even Christ and His Apostles, and the eternal and distinctive verities of faith revealed in God's Holy Word.
This sacred depositum intrusted to the Church as the keeper and witness of the faith once delivered to the saints, embodied in the creeds of Christendom, endorsed by the undisputed General Councils, and maintained and defended by the consensus of the undivided Church in the writings of the early Fathers, is the blessed heritage of us all, and binds us together in the oneness and unity of a living organism, operating through diverse members and by diverse functions, yet all holding to the one Divine Head--nourished by the one Divine Blood, breathing the one Divine Breath of Life.
Another fact, which has grown out of the more faithful lifting up of the Lord Jesus Christ, and which this Conference has brought prominently out, is the increase of spiritual life and work in all the branches of the Anglican Church. The reports of the Bishops from every quarter testify to this pleasing fact. Not only is this increase seen in a more widely-spread and deepertoned personal piety, but also in the gratifying increase of reverence for holy things and places, in the more life-inspiring renderings of our [5/6] beautiful Liturgy, in the more frequent celebrations of the Holy Communion, and in the multifarious forms of Church work springing up in all our dioceses and missionary jurisdictions.
It is further seen in the bringing into effective and judicious use agencies for the cultivation of personal holiness, and the better reaching of the sick and the poor, and for the wider extension of Church privileges, which have either never been used before, or which have long been disused, because abused to purposes of superstition and error. We feel, and I think rightly, that whatever has been done or used in other ages, or by other communions, which has been productive of good, even though tainted with the evils of the age, or the communion using them, ought not on that account to be set aside; but rather should be reclaimed from wrong-doing, and by wise and authoritative adaptation be made to serve the right and the true in faith and worship. Hence implements of spiritual tillage, hitherto neglected or suspected, have been remodelled and rightly utilized.
Methods of Church work, which were once looked upon with distrust, have been prudently adjusted to our own needs and times. Our Blessed Lord gave to His Church that same power of self-adjustment which in a higher and holier way He showed in His own conduct when on earth. He gave it marvellous flexibility of [6/7] circumference, combined with central fixedness and unchangeableness--flexibility, so as to conform to all the outlines of human needs, just as He has made the great ocean to flow as readily into the little cove beside the fisherman's hut as into the magnificent bays which harbour the navies of the world; and fixedness, so that the substantial body of truth shall never be changed, just as He holds the same great ocean in the hollow of His hand. The multiplied agencies which the Church has set in motion in the last half-century illustrate what I mean as to adjustment of the Church to the demands of modern society.
Specially I may mention the introduction of lay-helpers, both men and women, into the active service of the Church. The fact proves that the Church is reviving from her languid state, when it was too much the fashion to regard the clergy as the Church, and rather to frown upon lay effort as trenching upon clerical prerogative. It was this spirit which lost to the Church of England the fruit of that great uprising of zeal under the Wesleys and Whitfield, which, had it been recognized and utilized, and taught to work in Churchly channels, as it now would be, would have rooted the Church of England tenfold more in the hearts of the toiling classes, and kept them from drifting away into fragmentary divisions; would have welded together social elements which would [7/8] admirably supplement each other; and would have made the disestablishment and denationalization of the Church of England utterly impossible.
The introduction of the lay element into the councils of the Church, whether diocesan or Convocational, is a grave question, because, in some cases, encumbered with serious difficulties. Therefore each national Church must deal with it as a national question, and settle it as shall best subserve its national interests. But the patent fact is, that the bringing in of the laity as a constituent part of the various working assemblies of the Church has in the United States and in many of the Colonial provinces and dioceses been of the highest value to the cause of our holy faith. Intrust the laity with responsibility, and you secure their confidence. Make them a part of your deliberative counsels, and they will educate themselves to discharge aright the duties of their position. Let them realize that the Church leans upon their wisdom as well as upon their purse, and they will show that strong common sense, knowledge, and discretion which shall make them as powerful allies in Church legislation as they now are in Church work.
It is true that with this increase of vitality has been an increase of abnormal life, running out into excesses, both in doctrine and in ritual. In a Church made up of imperfect beings, with all possible tastes, temperaments, and idiosyncrasies, [8/9] such evils cannot well be avoided. Our Blessed Lord told us in His parables that this would be the case. St. Paul distinctly declared to the Corinthians that "there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you," thus not merely recognizing in His day, and in Apostolic Churches, the existence of this Church life running out into wrong channels of thought and action, but giving as a reason for its permissive existence, that the Lord used these heresies and these sects as a means of testing and manifesting the truemaking the true more clearly true by placing alongside of it its simulating error.
Nor has the Church of Christ ever been free from these errors, and the words of our Lord in the parable of the Tares and Wheat, "Let both grow together until the harvest," and then saying that that harvest was the end of the world, indicates with certainty that these heresies, and this schismatic spirit, will continue the earthly lifetime of the Church. Lamentable indeed are these displays, splitting off from the Church into open schism, on the one hand, or raising up factions, turbulent and menacing, within the bounds of the Church, on the other.
These evils can only be partially held in check or corrected by any legal or technical decisions of civil or ecclesiastical courts, for in some instances they have fostered more scandals than they have [9/10] allayed. The real remedy lies in another direction. It is to draw men to a common centre by preaching a great central and unifying truth. That great central truth is that which is both centred and sphered in an uplifted Christ. When men are drawn to His person, His service, and His salvation, you have a basis for that real unity which alone meets the conditions of our Lord's intercessory prayer--"That they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee." Not organically one, but one in the harmony of an interior life derived from a common source, sustained by a common faith, and having a common end and aim.
When the pure strength of Evangelical truth welling up in life-giving freshness in the Word of God shall flow more freely through the channels of Apostolic order and sacramental ordinances; when this Evangelical spirit, to which the Church of England owed its revival of life and activity in the last century, shall avail itself more of churchly agencies, and address itself more to working along Church lines, with the same zeal with which it has so well addressed itself to the maintenance and defence of doctrine, and shall thus make the clergy and the parishes alive with new-born zeal and love, showing by their own example that they are as earnest, as sincere, as self-sacrificing, as sound in the faith and as loyal to the Church as those whom they condemn--then will the spirit [10/11] of lawlessness, and erroneous and strange doctrine, and the sickly imitations of a foreign communion be met and answered by a purer faith, a more Christ-like zeal, a more obedient reverence to the powers that be as ordained of God, and a higher and holier aim--namely, the advancement, not of self nor of party, but the honour and glory of the uplifted Christ.
Looking in another direction, we find the Church confronted by critical scepticism and scientific doubt, which aim to break down the bulwarks of her faith and raze her walls of salvation to the ground. But while we survey this frowning evil, let us not be unduly alarmed, or make too hasty concessions, but be vigilant and wise in meeting it on broad and sound grounds. Holding to the Bible as our sole rule of faith and practice, we must maintain the supremacy of the Bible by placing it in its right position; and that is, that it is a perfectly completed book. The Bible of to-day is the Bible of all the centuries of the Christian era, and will be of all the centuries to come. As it came from Him, it can neither be added to nor taken from without incurring the anathema of its Author. But the science which opposes this Bible is but the science of to-day. It was not the science of the last century; it will not be of the century to come. These sciences, of whatever name, are variable and uncertain. Not one is on a fixed [11/12] and immovable basis. Not one that may not be altered, or set aside by some new discovery, or by some new generalization. It will be time enough to say whether these sciences and the Bible do agree when the perfected circle of science shall be placed on the perfected circle of the Holy Scriptures. Then only can we rightly measure each, and when that time comes it will be found that the circumference of science and the circumference of revelation have one and the same periphery, because they have one and the same Divine Centre, the same one living and true God. In the Apostle's day there were "oppositions of science falsely so-called." In every age since then the same assaults have been renewed, but the Bible has calmly held on its way. It waits patiently for confirmation as the ages roll on, and each advance of true science does bring it more into accord with revelation. What the clergy have to do is not to attempt to put on Saul's armour and go forth to fight what they would call a Philistine science with something that they have not proved and cannot wield, but to take the smooth stones out of the brook of Scripture, and in the name of the Uplifted One so hurl them that even giant defiers of the Israel of God shall fall before the simple truth, slung by the humblest shepherd of the flock. This preaching is now, as in Paul's day, to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the Greek foolishness, but it is still what it was then, and [12/13] what it ever will be, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. When the Apostles preached this uplifted Christ, they did it not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect, but with that simple plainness of men fully imbued with the truth which they heralded, and telling it out in the fulness and directness of that earnestness which all will feel who realize that they are bought with a price, even the precious blood of the uplifted Jesus.
Looking in still another direction, we find the Church in the midst of social evils which threaten alike the well-being of the Church and of the State. Can the Church deal with these manifold economical questions which at times so seriously agitate the whole framework of human society? Yes. The uplifting of Christ will do it. The most important factor in the world's history was the coming down into it of Christ our Lord. His incarnation is the axle on which turn all the wheels of human life. Any science of sociology which leaves Him out as its central and controlling power is, like a science of the solar system without the sun, erroneous at its centre and erroneous at its circumference. It is the presence of Christ in the world that has given birth to all the philanthropies of the world--is banishing its most crying evils and bringing in all that is refining and elevating in mind and heart and life. This [13/14] being so, and no student of history can truly deny it, it follows that all that is needed to meet and remove the social evils of our time is the clear, true, and forceful setting forth of Christ as the Light and Life of men. For just in proportion as they bask in His light and breathe the breath of His life will they become Christlike in mind and heart, and the prevalence of the mind of Christ and the love of Christ will change the moral and social aspect of the world.
Finally, God has set before the Church of this age an open door into the regions beyond and bidden her go in and possess the land. Never, it may truly be said, has the Church been so thoroughly equipped as now for missionary work. Geographical exploration and commercial adventure have opened up to us long unknown and almost mythical regions. Ethnology and philology have brought the varying languages and races of men into better classification. Technical art and science have put into our hands implements and skill for reforming and enlarging all the industrial pursuits of men. Thus these auxiliary forces become in the progress of time almost apostles of Christianity.
A higher and truer education in heathen lands must result in breaking down the old errors based on ignorance and superstitions. Science is already at work through manifold ways, undermining and sapping the Oriental religion--Buddhism, Brahminism, [14/15] Confucianism, Lamaism--and preparing the way for their downfall. It has not been until within a few years that we have really understood the doctrines, usages, and inner power of the dominating religions of Asia. We have known their general features, but have mostly grouped them all together in one idolatrous mass of hopeless superstition and cruel orgies, and as such have levelled our theological artillery relentlessly against them. Now, however, through the labours of men who seem to have been specially raised up for the purpose, the eight great religions of the world into which Max Muller reduces the many schemes of human worship have been studied and analyzed, and their sacred books carefully translated, annotated, and compared with our own, so that almost a new science--the science of comparative religion--has been created by the diligent and painstaking men who have made careful surveys of these Oriental religions, and enabled us to weigh, measure, and examine systems of belief which hold more than one half the human race in their moulding power. Thus Christianity is fast acquiring all those outside forces necessary to give to it a world-wide equipment for its world-wide conquest. And when the evangelistic forces of the Church shall go forth in their full power, it will be with a momentum hitherto unknown, enabling her to do in a day the work of a year, and in a year the work of centuries, [15/16] until, through these vastly-augmented agencies, blessed and utilized by the Holy Ghost, it shall be literally true as the prophet has declared, "a nation shall be born in a day."
Brethren, beloved, this is the great work which is intrusted to us in an especial manner, to proclaim in all the quarters of the world where our lot is cast an uplifted Jesus. We are to lift Him up by exalting the Divine- Scripture, in which He is enshrined; by exalting the sacrament which shows forth this uplifting until He come; by exalting the ministry appointed by Christ Himself to be His heralds and teachers; by exalting the Church, which is His mystical Body,--exalting all these things, not by exalting them above Him, of Whom and to Whom they all testify; but because they are all means and aids for getting a better, clearer, and more life-giving view of the uplifted Jesus.
All attempts to put anything between the soul of the sinner and the uplifted Christ, or to raise anything to the same level with Him, is derogatory to His honour and contrary to His Word. To what purpose would the bitten Israelite have been told to look at the serpent of brass lifted up by Moses in the wilderness if anything had been placed by Moses or the elders of Israel between the eyes of the sufferer and the object to which he was directed to look? Or if alongside of that serpent of brass had been placed other objects to [16/17] which equal efficacy was attributed and thus confused his mind and deflected his faith?
This lifting up of Christ in all the aspects of His offices as Prophet, Priest, and King can be done by us only as we are taught by the Holy Ghost, for it is His office to take of the things of Christ and to show them unto men. Dear brethren, if there is one thought more than another which presses upon me at this time, in reference especially to the work committed to us as Bishops in the Church of God, it is that we need a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit and fresh outpouring into our hearts of the love-power of the uplifted Jesus. If even Apostles, the three years' daily companions of our blessed Lord when He dwelt among men, had no power to preach the Cross of Christ until the Holy Spirit came upon them, surely we need to be sprinkled from on high, that Pentecostal grace may not merely light upon our heads in tongue-like flames, but that, like the precious ointment upon the head of Aaron that went down to the skirts of his garments, the unction that the Holy Spirit only can bestow may flow over our whole being, sanctifying our lives, enlightening our minds, giving grace to our lips, and wisdom to our acts, and power to our administration, so that it may be said of each of us as of the first martyr, St. Stephen, "He was a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost."
Our ministry of the Word and our office as [17/18] Bishops can only be duly and wisely discharged in and through the power and guidance of the Holy Ghost. Let us never forget that this is the source of all ministerial strength and grace and influence. Our constant and wrestling prayer should be that we may daily increase in that Holy Spirit more and more until we come unto His everlasting kingdom.
Let us also, dear brethren, endeavour to induce the clergy to be more diligent and distinct in setting forth this uplifted Christ as the great sunlike truth of our salvation. The real remedy for the troubles within our own Church is not by repressive, or by restrictive, or by punitive legislation; is not by courts of law, civil or ecclesiastical; is not by bandying criminous and contemptuous words, and organizing parties in battle array under standards and principles foreign to the spirit of the Gospels, but it is a more faithful setting forth of Christ.
But I must stop, though many and weighty topics rise in my mind, created by the occasion.
The day has arrived when this assembly of Anglican Bishops will separate. But before we separate, our hearts are to be re-knit together by participation in that blessed Sacrament which, while it binds each to each, binds all as one to the heart of our common Lord. From that altar we shall go away northward to the Arctic Circle, [18/19] southward to Australia, eastward to China, westward to the United States, never to meet together as a body here below. Of the seventy-six Bishops gathered at the last Lambeth Conference in 1867, thirty are dead. Death has reaped out of that assembly a rich harvest, and garnered up some of the wisest, the noblest, the holiest men, who ever bore the burden of the Episcopate. They rest together in the Paradise of God.
This thought cannot but give a tone of solemnity to this sacred hour; yet along with this under-tone of sorrow rises up our souls' Te Deum that we have been permitted to meet as brethren, to confer so long and so lovingly together, and to part with that profound respect and affection which intercourse has engendered and which love has cemented.
Speaking as an American Bishop, and in behalf of American Bishops, I feel warranted in saying that we desire thus publicly to acknowledge the manifold courtesies and civilities which have been so markedly bestowed upon us--that we appreciate and shall ever remember the unwearied kindness and loving words of our brethren of the English bench, and of all others who made up this Conference.
We have learned here lessons of wisdom and zeal which will influence all our future. We go back richer than we came, for we return with the [19/20] wealth of new friendships, new plans of usefulness, new aspirations after higher results, and the treasured memories of Church life and home life into which, as into a garden of spices, we have been so lovingly invited. Our admiration of the Church of England has been greatly increased. As we have walked around its walls, grey with antiquity, and marked well its bulwarks, scarred, but not weakened, by the conflicts of the Christian centuries; as we have associated with those who bear Episcopal rule in. this Zion, and with the band of learned and self-sacrificing clergy who work therein, and with the intelligent and, zealous and liberal laity that form the noble body of the faithful--as we have surveyed all these we may have seen here and there things that are strange to us, points that we should have altered, defects, as we might term them, that needed correction, the filling up of some crevice here, and the stripping off of some of the old ivy there; but after all we should be forced to exclaim, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is this City of our God: Her foundations are on the everlasting hills. The Lord is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early." As I behold the grand spectacle which the Anglican Church now presents--bristling with its multiplied agencies, and vigorous with re-enkindled life and earnestness, [20/21] and contrast it with the impotence of its assailers and the envy of its rivals, I recall the magnificent vision of Milton, in which he describes the rising power and glory of the Commonwealth; and substituting the word "Church" for the word "nation," I seem to find in it a description of the present aspect of the spiritual commonwealth of dear old England. "Methinks," says the blind bard, "I see, in my mind, a noble and puissant Church, rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks; methinks I see her as an eagle, renewing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam, purging and unscaling her long-abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about amazed at what she means," and, I may add, confounded at her revived greatness. And so we say, with one mouth and one heart, to the dear mother of us all, the Church of England, "Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sake, I will wish thee prosperity."
The next time, dear brethren, that we meet together will be before the Great White Throne. Such a thought warns us that we must be watching, waiting, working, until the day of death [21/22] comes; and when that shall come, may we each, through faith in the atoning blood of the uplifted Jesus, pass in through the gate into the celestial city, and hear from the lips of Him Who sitteth upon the throne, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."