"The Working Bishop."
GRACE CHURCH, BROOKLYN, N.Y.,
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1873,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
REV. BENJAMIN HENRY PADDOCK, D.D.,
AS BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Rt. Rev. Wm. Bacon Stevens, D.D., LL.D.,
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA.
This Discourse is published in compliance with the following request:
To the Rt. Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
RIGHT REV. AND DEAR SIR:
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Massachusetts, believing that your instructive, able and eloquent discourse delivered at the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Benjamin H. Paddock, D D., Bishop of Massachusetts, will be read with great interest by many who were not able to be with us to-day, and that the valuable historical information which it contains should be preserved and widely diffused, respectfully request a copy for publication.
In behalf of the Committee,
Grace Church, Brooklyn, Sept. 17, 1873.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.--2 TIMOTHY II, 15.
The standard of Episcopal character and duty set up by St. Paul in the first century, is the standard of the nineteenth century. While eighteen hundred years, as they slowly rolled by, have wrought changes in all human institutions, this Apostolic ministry remains unchanged, in its official functions, its personal qualifications, its inherent necessity, to the perfection of the Christian Church.
How such a thought as this lifts the Episcopate above the plane of things secular and transitory, and makes it stand out before the age with venerable grandeur and power, fast-rooted and immoveable as the eternal hills! In his Pastoral Epistles, St. Paul has told us what the minister of Christ should be, in life, in doctrine, in office, before men and towards God. In his personal example, he has transfigured precept into practice, and [3/4] illustrated his Epistles by his daily walk and conversation.
It is well that we have this Divine standard, and this Apostolic example. It is well that the rules which govern our official duty are not mutable, changing with the phases of morals or faith; but that they are the same in all ages, in all climes, and to all of every name or grade, who bear office in the Church of God. No civil, political or judicial officer bears to-day, the same name, discharges the same duties, is weighted with the same responsibilities, as those who ruled and judged in the Apostle's day; because the courts, the camps, the tribunals which existed then, have all passed away, or taken on new forms, and a new nomenclature. But in the Holy Catholic Church of to-day, we find the same names, the same duties, the same responsibilities, which marked the Apostolic Age; because the Church of the Unchanging God cannot charge. Its faith, its polity, its functions, were settled at its organization; and what Christ and the Apostolic College have ordered and arranged, man cannot, dare not, alter.
It is not necessary before this audience to follow [4/5] out this line of thought, and cull out from the Pastoral Epistles, the various lineaments which make up the portraiture of a Christian Bishop, and present them before you in pictorial or statuesque form and coloring.
I shall therefore omit these details, and seek to develop the underlying principle of the text, so that by the aid of the Holy Ghost, I may enforce it upon all who hear me this day, and especially upon this, our beloved brother, who stands with bowed head, and trembling heart, at the threshold of the highest order of the Christian Ministry.
That underlying principle is, that the Chief Pastor of the Church is a workman--working for God, working with God, working under His eye, and for the welfare of the immortal souls committed to his charge.
The Bishop then is a workman. This accords with what St. Paul wrote in his 1st Epistle to Timothy, when he said “If a man desireth the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work," His life and duty may be summed up in one word--work.
This implies that his life is not a rest, or a state of ease. That he is not to be a cloistered [5/6] theologian, or dwell in ecclesiastical quietism. That he is not to be a mere dignified functionary of grace and power to be dispensed only in a perfunctory manner. That he is not to be the mere figure-head of a Diocese, placed there as a simple presiding officer, and machine-like to impart the grace of confirmation and orders, in the laying on of hands.
So far from this, the Bishop is to be instinct with life and work. He is to be the Shepherd and leader of the flock--the wise ruler--the diligent teacher--the faithful counsellor--the prompter and supporter of all Churchly activities; ever holding himself ready for labor, or for sacrifice. In the New Testament the office of a Bishop, to which we shall confine ourselves at this time, is represented under various similitudes, but it is to be noted that each one of them involves the idea of work. Is he called a Fisher of Men? He must work, in casting his net, and drawing it to land; and even when, at times, he ceases to throw the net, in order that he may mend it, or wash it, even then, he is working in private that he may perfect his implements of labor, and more [6/7] effectively launch out into the deep, and let down his net for a draught.
Is he called a Builder? He must work, not only in building up himself in the most holy faith, but also seek to excel to the edifying of the Church, building it up of lively stones, on Christ the living corner-stone, so that as a wise master builder, the structure which he erects, may become the Temple of the Holy Ghost.
Is he called a Steward? He must work in administering the trust, that deposit of truth and faith, committed to him, so that he shall rightly divide the word of truth, give to each of his Lord's household his portion in due season, and bring forth, out of his treasured mysteries, things new and old.
Is he called a Herald; a Preacher? He must work in preparing and proclaiming the good tidings which he is commissioned to make known. The command of Jesus is, “Go preach the Gospel;" the injunction of the Apostle is, "Preach the Word;" "be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all Long-suffering and diligence;" but to do this, demands work of the [7/8] severest and most wearing kind, so that he may not, after having preached to others, be himself a castaway.
Is he called a Shepherd? He must work in tending the flock; now gathering them into folds, now leading them to green pastures, now seeking out the straying, now taking up the lame, now guarding from wolves, and now resting with them at noon beside the still waters. In the words of good Bishop Hall, "he must discern in his sheep between the sound and the unsound; in the unsound between the weak and the tainted; in the tainted between the nature, qualities, and degrees, of infection; and to all these, he must know how to administer a word in season."
And to mention only one other term, is he called, as our blessed Lord was, and as the Apostle termed himself, by a name which indicates the lowest order of the Ministry--a Deacon, a servant? there is in the very etymology of the word, involved the idea of work, for it means one dusty with running, one girded with the emblems of servitude, now ready to serve tables, and now to wash disciples' feet.
 We see then that a Bishop in any and every aspect of his office, is to be a workman. It is so confessedly in the lower orders of the Ministry; it is so pre-eminently in the highest; where the greater responsibilities--the wider field,--and the burdensome care of all the Churches, is something over and above what is known, and done by the Presbyter, and demands an amount of work, intellectual and physical, which taxes brain and brawn to their full capacity, and lays under contribution the whole inner and outer man.
Work is not confined to hand toil, or bodily exertion. The hardest work is sometimes done by the softest hands, and the feeblest bodies. Nerve work, is more painful and exhausting than muscle work; and the library, the office, the counting-room, the pulpit; are greater workshops than the factory, the forge, or the rolling-mill. Among the toilers of the brain, a faithful and conscientious Bishop, in a large diocese stands conspicuous as a hard-working man. A day laborer in God's vineyard.
How often has it been said by men of intense activity as Parish Priests, after they have been [9/10] advanced to the Episcopate, that they never really knew what work was, until they were made Bishops!
The visitations of a Bishop, going from parish to parish, week after week, Lord's day and workday, preaching, confirming, exhorting, advising, require much physical toil, and consequent weariness; but this part of his duty, is light and joyous compared with his work which cometh upon him daily, "the care of all the Churches." No description can do justice to this burden, which always presses with such fearful weight on the heart of the conscientious and faithful Bishop.
Under the Levitical Dispensation the High Priest, when he was arrayed in his pontifical garments, had upon the shoulder-straps of his ephod two onyx stones, on each of which were engraved the names of six of the tribes of the children of Israel; while upon his breast, was suspended a plate, a span square, in which were set twelve precious stones, and on each Stone the name of one of the twelve tribes; and these he was to bear upon his shoulders, and upon his heart, when he went into the Holy Place, as a continual [10/11] memorial before the Lord; and so the Christian Bishop bears, not visibly, indeed, but really and truly, upon his shoulders, the government of the Diocese; and upon his breast he wears the names of its tribal parishes, ever having them under his eye, ever feeling them press upon his heart, ever presenting them before the Lord, and ever praying with Moses, “Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one."
In looking after the interests of the several Churches of his Diocese, in soothing and adjusting Parochial disquiet and irritation, in supplying vacant Parishes with suitable Clergy, and unoccupied Clergy with Parishes, in opening new fields, in working out plans of City or Diocesan Missions, in taking the lead in all the departments of Church work, which are now so numerous and active, in supervising the candidates for Holy Orders, in carrying on a correspondence that covers the abstruse questions of casuistry, ritual, and theology, in adjudicating points of canon law, in taking part in the great mission work of the Church beyond his Diocese and his country, in discharging his duties as one of the Legislators [11/12] of the General Convention, in answering the hundred calls made upon his time and service for things of public interest outside the pale of the Church, in engineering the machinery of the Diocese, so that all parts shall work harmoniously, so that there shall be but little friction and complication;--to do these, and many other things, that daily come before a Bishop, call out incessant brainwork of the most erosive and anxious kind,--work that is constantly repeating itself, and which, by its very nature, must be progressive and continuous.
And when to this burden you add that, which perhaps weighs upon a Bishop's heart more than all else beside, the consciousness of unfulfilled duty on his part, of lack of wisdom, of plainly seen self-deficiencies, which ever haunt him with dismay and bow him to the dust in sorrow; when he feels and knows his wisest plans are failures, his kindest advice distorted or spurned, his paternal authority disregarded, his hopes as to Clergy and Parishes woefully blasted, his schemes of Church extension thwarted by partisan machinations; sheep straying away on the one hand by [12/13] reason of hireling shepherds, whose worldliness scatters the flock; and on the other Macedonian cries rising from amidst surrounding destitution, without the ability to send the called-for helpers; all these and many more similar trials of faith, of hope, of patience, rasp his heart and tax his moral strength, with a strain and a pain, which he could not bear, were it not that he rests upon the Divine promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee."
It may be said, that the superior dignity of the office is a sufficient compensation for its additional duties and cares. It is not so. Episcopal dignity in this land is not buttressed up with state privileges, and lordly rank; it is not hedged around with a cordon of lay and clerical officials to diminish labors and share responsibilities; it has not its throne in the canopied chair of some old Cathedral; it has not its Episcopal palaces and its liveried retinue; it is not mortised into the frame work of our political constitution, and has not its bench in the highest legislative body of the nation. Episcopal dignity in this country, depends on none of these things. It rests almost solely on personal qualities, mental and moral, [13/14] and on a wise, faithful, and comprehensive administration of the most sacred of all earthly trusts. It is the growth of confidence, it must root itself in solid attainments, sound principles, earnest convictions of truth and duty; then and then only, it brings forth the fruit of personal attachment, reverent affection, and unfeigned deference, public and private, to official and personal character, Yet it is a thing which any pert writer in a Church newspaper may hawk at; which any youthful Deacon, who is not in accord with the theological or ecclesiastical views of his Bishop, may disparage; which any self-opinionated Presbyter, may treat with disdain; which any aggrieved Parish may seek to tarnish or destroy.
Truly may we say with St. Chrysostom "The soul of a Bishop is like a vessel in a storm; lashed on every side by friends, and by foes; by one's own people, and by strangers."
The work which the Bishop has to do, demands great mental resources. He, more than most men, is brought in contact with the educated class of his day, and nation. The very nature of his duties places him on a level with people of culture and [14/15] thought. This culture and thought shows itself in our day in a many-sidedness of knowledge which reflects light from each one of its facets; and as light, striking upon a polished surface, is radiated in diverging lines, the mind of the Bishop should be so burnished with manifold culture, that, he can scatter far and wide the rays which have converged upon him, and so become a purifier and reflector of intellectual, as well as moral, light.
As far as he can, he should aim to make art and science, and literature, and education, in its broadest aspect, Minister to the Religion of Jesus Christ; doing with them., what has been done in old Rome to the treasured spoils of heathen times; put on them all, whether it be an Obelisk, a Temple, or a Coliseum; the Cross, which sanctifies to Christian use, what was once alien to our Holy Religion.
The Bishop must thus keep abreast of advancing knowledge, signing each new conquest with the sign of the Cross, and baptising it in the name, and to the service, of the triune God.
The work of the Bishop requires great courage. Courage is but another name for heart-acting. [15/16] What kind of heart-acting? The heart-acting of a man, whose heart is filled with the love of Jesus! Courage then is love for God, acting itself out in Holy zeal for his glory. It only seeks to know that God requires a duty, and it does it. It dares to do right, it braves public opinion, when that public opinion is not the echo of God's voice; and it is ready to take its stand for right and truth on little things, which may be the pivots on which great things swing, as well as on the things which are more noted by the public eye, and which would bring more fame from the public applause. Perhaps more courage is required to stand firmly at the head springs of innovations of doctrine and ceremonies, and say "thus far shalt thou come, and no farther," than it is to contend more wrestlingly with the errors, when time and opportunity have developed them into form and strength. In the latter case, the errors have become so patent and clear, that you cannot, if you would, avoid seeing them; the half riven trunk, and the half-entered wedge, tell what will soon take place, when a few more blows shall drive the wedge home. But to be so fore-casting as to see the [16/17] evil that must ensue, if the wedge of error is once inserted; and rigorously to keep out its sharp edge, despite the cry, O! it is harmless--it is but a little thing--it will soon cure itself, let it alone--it will go no further; to take a stand at this point, and fight the first sharp edges and beginnings of wrong, this requires a high order of courage--courage to act, when many see no need of action courage to do, what many cry out is needless to be done; courage to check, where many see no out-cropping error, and no ground of alarm, But remember, Brethren, that He who stands as a watchman on the walls, must be quicker to hear approaching evils, than those whom those walls protect, He is put there for the very purpose of warning of the danger before it is perilously near, He is stationed there to sound an alarm at the first sign of the approaching enemy, and the blood of souls will be found in his skirts if he does not do it. There are single words--there are single letters of the alphabet, in which are wrapped up the seeds of greatest errors. They seem little things, too little almost to notice, why should a Bishop waste his time about them? But a single [17/18] word, "Filioque," has made a branch between the Eastern and the Western Churches. A single letter, and that too the smallest of the Greek alphabet, an iota, is the point of divergence between the Orthodox faith of Athanasius (Homoousion), and the heresy of Arius (Homoiousion); and the change of a single letter, an r to an n (Agneh for Agreh) in one word of one of the sacred books of the Vedas, has kept the Hindoo Suttee burning over two thousand years, and consumed millions of widows on its lighted funeral pile. It is an act of needed courage then, to stand fast against the beginning of perversions, whether of words or deeds--whether of doctrine or ritual; and the Bishop must show a holy boldness in promptly meeting, and strongly opposing, the first incomings and beginnings of evil. Agassiz, on his "Journey in Brazil," tells us of large and lofty trees on which grows a vine called "Sipos," or tree killer, This Sipos first appears on the higher branches; thence it gradually descends, throwing out strong tendrils around the limbs, until it not only covers up the tree, but destroys it altogether, and the giant trunk that [18/19] once was clad in its own green foliage, now made sapless and lifeless, only serves to lift aloft the parasite which caused its death It is just in this way that modern Sacerdotalism (by which I mean that unscriptural exaltation of the Priesthood and the Sacraments, so as to make them conform as near as may be, to the practice and teaching of the Church of Rome), with its invariable accompaniments of false doctrine, and gaudy ritual, is seeking to encroach upon our Church. Fastening itself at first on some of the outer boughs, the younger and lither branches, and apparently adding more beauty to the foliage by its richer luxuriance; it is gradually descending, girdling in its deadly embrace one branch after another, but covering up its death-work, by the drapery of its own bright leaves; until, by and by, if unopposed, and not torn away, it will grasp the trunk in its parasitic arms, suck out its life sap, so that instead of the noble tree that once stretched up its living arms to heaven, and gathered thousands beneath its shade; there will be seen only the flaunting ritual of these soul-destroying errors, strangling all true life, and substituting the leaves of a parasite, [19/20] for those which "were for the healing of the nations."
Though this work of a Bishop requires deep piety, as its motive power; though it demands warm-heartedness, as its magnetic heart-assimilating force; though it calls for great mental breadth and culture, so as to bring him into contact with all phases of intellectual life; though it evokes the highest moral courage in standing firmly on principles, and acting with an eye that looks only to God's approbation; yet it has in it one element which permeates all, and elevates all, and gives to his work an ennobling character, that makes it tower in greatness, and in value, above all other toil, and all other professions.
When Zeuxis was asked why he was so slow and careful in drawing his lines and putting on his colors upon the canvas, he answered, "I paint for Eternity;" and the Bishop must remember that the work he does, he does for Eternity. The most exquisite creations of the chisel or the pencil; the grandest edifices of the architect; the strongest Monarchies; the most buttressed up Dynasties; the clamped and bolted confederations [20/21] of ancient Republics; all that man has done in art, in literature, in government, to buy for himself a niche in the temple of fame, or carve his name on the lintel and side posts of the gateway of History; have passed away, or will pass away, for they are of the earth, earthy, and shall perish with the earth; but the building up of the Church of the living God, which it is the work of the Bishop to oversee; the rescue of immortal souls from sin, and causing them to develope the graces of the Spirit; the spreading abroad of the glorious Gospel of the Son of God; this work, is all for Eternity and the result of most that he does, he will not know until he sees it, in the light of Eternity. But oh! what a thought of comfort, what an inspiration of soul does it give, to feel, that not an act done for Christ, not a sermon preached in the power of the Holy Ghost, not a confirmation ministered after Apostolic example; not an ordination conducted in the solemn laying on of hands, not a word of counsel delivered with official lips, not a prayer offered in faith, not a tear, not a sigh, will be in vain.
All is known, all is recorded, all will be recalled, [21/22] all will be rewarded at the last great day, when God shall say to the Angels, "call the Laborers, and give them their hire." Then will the working Bishop--who has borne the burden and heat of the day, toiling under trials that the world knows not of, worn down with fretting cares that have gnawed like Promethean Vultures into his sensitive nature; having approved himself unto God, receive the plaudit, “well done, good and faithful Servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
But this work of a Bishop, as it is for God, so must it be " approved" of God. This approval must respect alike the prompting motives, and the work itself. For, if he is a good workman, yet works from wrong motives, he is a workman that needeth to be ashamed; or, if his motives are right, but his work unskilful and imperfect, he is then, also, a workman that needeth to be ashamed, Only as he combines right motives, and true work, will he show himself "approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed."
It is a blessed thought that we are not required to approve ourselves unto men. St. Paul tells the Corinthians, “it is a very small thing that I [22/23] should be judged of you, or of man's judgment," he says in another place, “not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." Self-approbation, and man's approbation, are not to be the aims of a Christian Bishop. The more we divest ourselves of all attempts to adjust our views, and our work, to the shifting and uncertain standards of human approbation, and look with a single eye to the approving of ourselves unto God, the more thoroughly shall we do God's work, and the more effectually promote his glory.
It must be confessed that there is a great tendency at present in all the ranks of the Ministry to seek the approval of man. There is a shrinking from speaking out the truth in its fulness and power; its sharp corners are truncated, its strong doctrines are diluted, its warning voices are toned down, but this is not approving ourselves unto God.
To approve ourselves unto God, the mind must be filled with God's truth, the soul with Christ's love, and the whole man with the unction of the Holy Ghost; there must be this trine [23/24] consecration to the triune God. Where this exists the Bishop will be bold in setting forth the truth as it is in Jesus. He will be firm, and wise, in administering godly discipline; fearless in rebuking lawlessness and error. How much is this holy boldness needed now, when error of doctrine, and error of ritual, are seeking so persistently to sap the strength and purity of our Holy Church! At such a time it becomes the Bishop who would approve himself unto God, to speak out, with no uncertain sound, "to blow an alarm on God's holy mountain," and to throw the whole weight of his personal and official character and teaching, against the incoming errors, that the flock, which he is appointed to shepherdize, may know what the danger is, and how to secure exemption and safety. How strongly has St. Augustine, in one of his homilies (on the x St. John), condemned the cowardice, which is silent in the presence of soul-destroying error. "O hireling" he says, “thou sawest the wolf coming and fleddest!" Perchance he answers "Lo here I am, I have not fled," "Thou hast fled," he replies, “because thou hast held thy [24/25] peace, fear, is the flight of the mind, in body thou stoodest, in spirit thou fleddest."
There is a silence which is the height of cowardice, and a worldly-wise caution, that is traitorous to the truth. He who dallies with error, until it gains the mastery, virtually aids and abets the error, and is responsible for its spread and its evil. For a Bishop to do so, when in the most solemn moment of his life--at his consecration, he promises before God, to “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine," is to be false to his vows, faithless in his office, and a traitor before God.
He then, who would execute the office of a Bishop, to the edifying of the Church, and the glory of God, must be a workman, strong in labor, bold in truth, firm in discipline, wise in action, called of the Holy Ghost, faithful to Christ, the Church's living head, and "approved unto God."
In an age which teems with a Philosophic skepticism, which sneeringly says, with Pilate “what is truth?" and then waits not for answer; he must boldly hold up Jesus as "The Truth," and "the truth as it is in Jesus."
 In a nation which in its greed for wealth would pray Christ to depart out of its coasts, rather than loose the profitable herds of Gadara; he must boldly denounce the swine-like lusts which war against the soul, and set the land in opposition to Him who would cast them out.
In a time when rationalism, now bland as the voice of an Arnold, and now blustering as the voice of a Büchner, is crying out with the demons of Old, "Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of God;" he must fearlessly show, that in Jesus "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and that without Him, there is no salvation and eternal life.
In a day when so many outside of the Church, are crying out with "gain-saying Korah and his company," to our Apostolic Ministry, “ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them;" he should fully stand upon the scriptural and historic foundation of our Ministry, and sustain its claims as divinely commissioned for its divine work.
In an age when Romanism, dislodged from its ancient strongholds, by European revolutions, is [26/27] pouring its emissaries, and its treasures upon our shores, in the hope of establishing here, what is so tottering there; he must stand fast on the foundation principles of Scripture and antiquity, of council and creed, of liturgy and sacraments, of Apostolic doctrine and fellowship, on which our Church rests its credentials, and vindicate its claims to be Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Everything around us, in Church and State, in social and civil life, in all departments of education and science, demand that the Bishop of today should be a strong workman, a wise workman, a fearless workman, and a workman approved unto God.
Holier work, man cannot have; higher authority, man cannot receive; heavier responsibility, man cannot bear; than what pertains to the office of a Bishop in the Church of God.
Here I might close this sermon, but there are two subjects of interest, which seem to demand a brief notice on this occasion. One, relates to the Diocese over which our Brother Beloved is to preside; and the other, pertains to the day on which he is now consecrated.
 When the first planters of the Massachusetts Colony arrived in 1630, they found on a peninsula called by the natives Shawmut, and by the English from its three hills "Trimountain," (condensed into the modern phrase of "Tremont,") a solitary settler already there with a cottage and a garden plot.
This was the Rev. Wm. Blackstone, a Minister of the Church of England, a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who as Dr. Stiles says, “was a great student, and had a great library."
That spot is now covered by a city, which in honor of Rev. John Cotton, the former Vicar of St. Botolph's, in Boston, England, was named by Gov, Dudley, “Boston," thus the great commercial emporium of New England, with its Briarean arms, stretching out to every quarter of the globe; stands on the domain of the solitary Episcopal Minister, and bears the name of an old Saxon Saint.
The Puritans have been canonized by Orators and Historians, as the Apostles of Religious Liberty; and Poetry, and Painting, and Music, have been made to take part in the ceremony of Apotheosis.
 Would that there had been truth as well as beauty in the favorite lines of Mrs. Hemans:
"Aye! call it Holy Ground;
The soil where first they trod,
They have left unstained what there they found.
Freedom to worship God."
But history, written by one of the Puritan's most favored Sons, refuses to endorse this assertion, for Bancroft distinctly states, “that the first religious persecution in New England, was in 1629, by the authorities of Salem, against "the adherents of Episcopacy," who were " rebuked as separatists, their plea for toleration was reproved as sedition, their worship forbidden as mutiny," while "the leaders, John and Samuel Brown, who could not be terrified into silence, were seized like criminals, and in the returning ships transported to England." "Thus" adds Bancroft, “was Episcopacy first professed in Massachusetts, and thus was it exiled. The blessings of the promised land were to be kept for Puritanic dissenters."
In the farewell letter of Gov. Winthrop, on board of the Arbella, signed by himself, and Magistrates and Ministers, and sent to the Bishop of London and other dignitaries in Church and [29/30] State, it was stated, that the body of their company then about to embark for America, were those who esteem it an honor to call the Church of England our dear Mother;" "that such hope and part as we have obtained in the common salvation we have received in her bosom and sucked from her breast; we leave it not therefore as loathing, that milk wherewith we were nourished there, but blessing God for the Parentage and Education," and then they promise that "while we have breath we shall sincerely desire and endeavor the continuance and abundance of her welfare, with the enlargement of her bounds in the kingdom of Jesus Christ." So that according to their own confession, witnessed to by their own hands, what was good in these Massachusetts settlers with the noble Winthrop at their head, was due to the parentage and education of the Church of England. A tribute that ought not to be forgotten in setting forth the claims of our Church upon their descendents.
I wish, says Gov. Randolph, of Massachusetts, writing in 1689, “their posterity had imitated their charity, and followed their religion." Had this [30/31] declaration been acted out in good faith, what a different aspect might our Church have exhibited at the present day. But the soil was uncongenial--the adversaries many, and not 1686 was there an Episcopal Church built, and a Minister settled in the town of Boston.
A bitter and unsparing warfare against the Church of England was kept up through the 17th and the 18th centuries. Particularly during the period of our Revolutionary troubles, when the Church, and the Clergy, and the Prayer Book, were inveighed against as hostile to the public interests--anti-republican, and dangerous to the liberty of the nation.
It did seem, after the war, as though in Massachusetts at least, it would die out. But in the language of Isaiah "as a Teil tree, and as an Oak, whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof;" so the Church, though stripped of its branches, and cut down to the root, yet the root had the "holy seed" therein, as its germinating force, and through the scent of water it so revived, that in 1796 the Diocese of Massachusetts [31/32] had completed its organization, by the consecration to its Bishopric of the Rev. Dr. Edward Bass.
His feeble Episcopate of six years, only served to consolidate and give organic unity, to the Episcopal element in that, and the adjoining States. His work was rather recuperative, than aggressive or progressive. He simply sought to gather up the things that remained, that were ready to die.
Shortly after his death, in 1803, there occurred the only instance in the American Church, where a Bishopric was tendered to a Layman.
Among the honorable men of Massachusetts, there was one, who like Ambrose in the 4th century, was early intrusted with the judicial office, like him truly, godly and zealous for Christ, and to whom, as to Ambrose, was tendered a Bishopric, while yet engaged in secular duties. That man was Dudley Atkins Tyng. Ambrose, despite his reluctance, was forced to "lay down the fasces and take up the crosier," and was consecrated Bishop of Milan, Judge Tyng, however, refused the solicitation made to him, by Dr. Dehon (subsequently Bishop of South [32/33] Carolina), who waited upon him in the name, and at the request of the Clergy of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and asked him "to receive orders as Deacon and Priest, that they might with as little delay as possible elect him their Bishop."
The transaction is singularly interesting, and is honorable alike the Clergy, who proposed it, and to the Layman who declined the proffered honor. Three generations of that Judge's sons now Minister in our Holy Church.
I need not stop to speak of the brief Episcopate of Dr. Parker, who in less than three months after his Consecration was laid in his grave;--nor need I tell you of the trials of the Church there during the seven long years which intervened before Alexander Viets Griswold, was in 1811 Consecrated Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, including what are now the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The date of Bishop Griswold's Consecration marks at once the period of our Church's greatest depression and the point from which it began its wonderful rise. Elected in May, 1810, Dr. Griswold had to wait a whole year, before he was Consecrated, because three Bishops could not be gathered to officiate. The General Convention which met in New Haven, in 1811, consisted of only 2 Bishops and 17 Clergy, (just the same number of Bishops and Clergy which twenty-two years before, organized the Church in Philadelphia,) “meeting,” as Bishop White writes, “under serious and well grounded apprehensions, that we should again have to appeal to England to secure the canonical number of Bishops to carry on the American Succession.”
Yet from the 29th May, 1811, when Drs. Griswold and Hobart received in Trinity Church, at the hands of Bishop White their Apostolic Commissions as overseers of the Church of God--the tide of Church affairs took an upward turn, and to-day, five Dioceses and five Bishops occupy the then single jurisdiction of Bishop Hobart; and five Dioceses and five Bishops occupy the then single jurisdiction of Bishop Griswold; while the grandson of one of the two Bishops, on whose Consecration the fate of our Church seemed for a moment suspended, was recently Consecrated Bishop of Niobrara, being the one-hundredth [34/35] Bishop in the American Succession of the Holy Catholic Church. Thus did God, make the day of Bishop Griswold's Consecration, the turning point of the Church's destiny.
It is not necessary for me to show how wisely Bishop Griswold ruled; how humbly he walked; how meekly he bore his honors; how holily he lived; or how suddenly he fell dead at the doorstep of his Assistant and successor, translated almost without the pangs of death from toil to rest--from the sorrows of earth to joys of Paradise.
The Pastoral staff, which death took from the hands of the saintly Griswold at the door of his Assistant's house, was received by Bishop Eastburn with trembling hands.
For nearly thirty years Bishop Eastburn administered the Diocese of Massachusetts with unflinching firmness of principle--with manly outspokenness of vital truth--with utter disregard of personal considerations--and with a never-faltering aim to hold up the Lord Jesus, as the sole object of faith, and the source of the Church's life.
A generation has passed since his election. [35/36] The weak Church has become strong The little one has grown to a thousand, and to-day, amidst the spiritual deterioration, and the ecclesiastical disintegration, that is going on all over that Diocese, our Church stands up with augmenting influence, as "a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."
In no Diocese of our Church does there exist higher intellectual culture or force; nowhere more general education and intelligence; nowhere such domestic virtue and stalwart manliness; no where more searchings after truth and gropings after the right; nowhere is the public mind so detached from traditional beliefs and ancient usages; nowhere is the Bible subjected to such rationalistic tests and re-agents, or Christianity to such severe quantitative, as well as qualitative, analysis, in the laboratories of free thought. Yet these elements of character, which seem, to the superficial observer, to make against us, because they appear to run counter to an Historical Church--traditional creeds--and liturgic formulas, [36/37] are the very elements which the, Church will successfully grapple with and overcome. For, based as the Church is, upon Christ and His Apostles, as the living corner-stone and the sure foundation; deriving all its truth, its life, its light, its power from the Bible; gathering up, and concreting in its Book of Common Prayer, all soul-saving doctrine, all Church sustaining ordinances, and all those old liturgic elements that enable the congregation of the faithful to "worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness;" it satisfies the highest intellectual culture, as well as the lowest; adjusts itself to every phase of social and domestic life; combats the manifold evils of the day; tones up every public and personal virtue; develops the sturdiest manhood; and comes out of the alembic, and the crucible of the doubting Alchemist, pure, and bright, and true.
Now it is just such a power as is thus embodied in our Church, that is needed in that Diocese especially, to keep it from drifting away into the Maelstrom of giddy whirling doubt; or splintering itself against the rocks of socialism and spiritualism, and their kindred soul-wrecking errors.
 Such a Church will yet prove its superiority to all fractional creeds--all unauthorized ministries--all man-made Churches--all council-ordained Sacraments:--and though all these outside elements, will and do, plant their battering rams and set up their catapults against our walls, they cannot break them down, for "God is in the midst of her and she shall not be moved. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
The other point of interest pertains to the day on which our Brother is Consecrated to his high Office. On the 17th of September, 1792, eighty one years ago this very morning, in old Trinity Church, New York, Dr. Thomas John Claggett was Consecrated Bishop of Maryland, by Bishop Provoost, assisted by Bishops Seabury, White and Madison. Thus this day is the Anniversary of the First Consecration of an American Bishop on American soil.
Several things concurred to make this one of the most marked events in the history of our Church. It was the only Consecration at which Bishop Provoost presided and acted as Consecrator. It was the only Consecration in which [38/39] Bishop Seabury and the three English Consecrated Bishops, united in the imposition of hands, It settled a vexed question, and healed a great breach, for, from that time forth, the two lines, the Scotch and the English, united first in the person of Bishop Claggett, have descended to all the Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and will flow on together to the end of time. Most happily Chen do our services commemorate the Anniversary of that First Consecration in the United States--that first blending of Scotch and English Episcopacy--that first use of the American "Form of Ordaining or Consecrating a Bishop" on this side of the Atlantic.
Assembled in this spacious edifice, in the midst of this populous city, where eighty-one years ago there was one feeble Episcopal Church, and but a small cluster of houses grouped around the ferry; with a band of Bishops, equal in number to the original College of the Apostles, and with more Clergy than “the number of the names together" of the Disciples in the "Upper Room" in Jerusalem:--to consecrate the one hundred and second Bishop in the American line of the Holy [39/40] Catholic Church; we cannot but be impressed with the wonder-working power of God, who in four-fifths of a century, has wrought such marvelous changes and growth. On the morning of that 17th of September, there were but four Bishops in all our Union. On the morning of this 17th of September, fifty are exercising their functions oven every acre of American soil; two more are waiting consecration,--while beyond our Union, the Church, with her right hand, points to the Bishop of Cape Palmas, Africa; with her left, to the Bishop for China and Japan; and Hayti, pleading for the Episcopate, kneels at our feet.
Then, we had just come out of the Revolution so shorn and dismantled of Glebe and Church, and Rectory and Pastors, that our enemies like Sanballat in the time of Nehemiah Said, what do these feeble Churchmen? "Will they fortify themselves? Will they revive the Stones out of the heaps of rubbish, which are burned?" While others, like Tobiah, the Ammonite, reviled our efforts at re-construction, saying "that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall;" but to-day, we stand up with [40/41] forty-eight Dioceses and Missionary Jurisdictions, stretching From ocean to ocean, a great and powerful division of the sacramental host of God's elect, daily gaining in strength, and steadily moving forward in the march of conquest.
How often have I wished that some skilful artist would paint three consecration scenes.
The first, should represent the upper room of an old house in Aberdeen, Scotland, temporarily fitted up as the Chapel of Bishop Skinner, as it appeared on Sunday, November 14th, 1784. The figures in the piece should be the venerable Robert Kilgour, the Primus of the Scotch Church; on his right hand, John Skinner, his coadjutor; on the left, Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross and Moray, clad in their Episcopal robes, and laying their hands on the head of Samuel Seabury, kneeling before them to receive his Commission as the first Bishop of Connecticut, and the first Bishop in the United States.
The second painting, should depict the interior of the Chapel of the Archiepiscopal Palace of Lambeth, in London, with its walls built in the day of Coeur de Lion, and with its simple [41/42] arrangements of stalls and pews and chancel, as it looked on Sunday, February 4th, 1787. The figures in this piece should present to us the moment when Samuel Provoost and William White, vested in “their Episcopal habit," were presented by Charles Moss, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and John Hinchclif, Bishop of Peterboro, to the Most Rev. John Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England, for Consecration, (the Most Rev. William Markham, Archbishop of York; and the other Prelates assisting,) as the first American Bishops to carry to the newly founded Republic, the English Episcopate, as it has come down from the Apostles' days:--while outside and around the Chancel, should be grouped, the Archdeacon and Registrar of the Diocese of Canterbury; the Chaplains of the Bishops, and other Priests, with surplices, and university gowns, and academic hoods, witnessing and attesting the solemn ceremony.
And then between these two pictures there should be suspended a third, growing out of these two, and perpetuating both.
It should represent the inside of Old Trinity [42/43] Church, at the head of Wall Street, New York, as it was on the morning of Monday, the 17th of September, 1792. In the back ground should be seen the small chancel, with the Lord's Table prepared for the Holy Communion. It should show the reading desk, and the reading Pew occupied by the officiating Clergy, and by the Rev. William Smith, D.D., the preacher on the occasion, with the scarlet hood of his Oxford Doctorate over his gown. It should depict the eager faces of an audience gathered to a service never before witnessed in America. It should portray the short rotund figure, and full face of Samuel Provoost, the Bishop of New York--the finely chiseled features of Wm. White, the Bishop of Pennsylvania,--the spare, tall, but thoughtful James Madison, Bishop of Virginia; and towering over all, with flowing hair and open features, the large and robust, but dignified form of Samuel Seabury, Bishop of Connecticut;--and the expressive moment of the picture should be, when Bishop Provoost, his chaplain, holding the open ordinal before him, lays his hands, along with those of the other bishops, on the head of Thomas John Claggett, and utters the sentence [43/44] then first heard in the American Church: "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God."
Such a pictorial triplet would illustrate to the eye, and impress upon the mind, better than any word-painter can do,--though he had a Ruskin's skill,--the three marked historic scenes, representing the origin, the transmission, and the perpetuation of the American Episcopate, in its Scotch, its English, and its American consecration.
Beloved Brother, you come to this solemn consecration scene fully conscious of the honor which is to be conferred, and of the responsibility that will be imposed upon you. No words of mine are needed to deepen in your own soul an awful sense of the vast and holy work now to be committed to you. You have pondered these things long and well, and we all feel assured that you stand here to-day fully determined, by God's grace, to "approve yourself unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The wisdom, the fidelity, and zeal with which you have fulfilled the Tower ministries, assure us that you will carry these qualities with you into [44/45] this higher office. Your past work and success is the pledge and guarantee of your future workmanship. Yet remember, ever, that "our sufficiency is of God," and that He only, can make us "able ministers of the New Testament."
The wisdom to plan, the strength to toil, the patience to endure, the courage to oppose wrong, the ability to lay hold on the truth as it is in Jesus, and the pulpit-power to set it forth in its freeness, its freshness, its fulness, all come from God. But He has told us that he is more ready to give, than we to ask; and all his precious promises, bearing his own divine signature, are put into our hands like so many blank checks, with the accompanying words, "according to your faith be it unto you." Draw largely, draw freely, dear brother, upon this exhaustless bank of grace. God will honor every draft, and give you out of His infinite fulness grace for grace.Let me then sum up all that I can say, or all that you need to hear, in the words which the saintly Griswold used as the text of his first sermon before the convention of Massachusetts as its Bishop-elect;--in the words which were the text from which [45/46] Dr. William Smith preached the consecration sermon of Dr. Claggett, eighty-one years ago to-day; in the words which the great Apostle used, addressing the youthful Bishop of Ephesus, and which were read as the second lesson this morning: "I charge thee, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing and his kingdom, Preach the Word; Be instant, in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things. Endure afflictions--do the work of an evangelist--make full proof of thy ministry." All which may God enable you to do for Jesus Christ's sake, our Lord. Amen.