AND THE GREAT EXHIBITION.
WILLIAM BACON STEVENS, D.D.
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF PENNSYLVANIA,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
RIVINGTONS, WATERLOO PLACE;
HIGH STREET, | TRINITY STREET,
Oxford. | Cambridge.
April 29th, 1867.
RIGHT REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER,
As the Anglo-American Church in this city has been placed under the joint oversight of your Lordship and myself, and as I have thus been privileged to be associated with you in a movement designed, among other things, to show the practical unity in faith, ministry and worship between the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, I take the liberty of inscribing this Sermon, the first preached in the Anglo-American Church, to you.
Will you accept it, not only as a token of my personal regard, but also as a small tribute, expressive of the admiration for your great talents, nobly used in the highest of all work, entertained for you by
Your sincere Friend and Brother,
WILLIAM BACON STEVENS.
The Right Hon. and the Right Rev.
ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL TAIT, D.C.L.,
Lord Bishop of London.
O ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast knit together Thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of Thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow Thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which Thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for All Saints' Day.
THIS is the opening sentence of one of the most majestic of psalms. In that song of welcome to the King of Glory twice is heard the call, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in;" twice is put the question, "Who is the King of Glory?" and twice is answered, "The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, mighty in battle: the LORD of Hosts, He is the King of Glory."
Thus the last verse of this antiphonal psalm links itself with the first, and the whole seems designed to show that the God, whom Israel worshipped in His earthly tabernacle in Zion, is the same God who made the world, and swayed the sceptre of the universe.
This idea pervades the whole Bible. God declares to Moses, "All the earth is Mine." God tells Job, "Whatsoever is under the whole heaven [5/6] is Mine." God says to David, "The world is Mine, and the fulness thereof;" and we are thereby taught, that the Maker and the Owner of the world is the God, to whom is to be given the worship of the world.
It was a pious suggestion of the late Prince Consort of England to have the words, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," carved upon the forefront of the Royal Exchange in London; for they make known in the very heart of the commercial world the grand truth of God's ownership of the earth, and of them that dwell therein.
Such is the sentence with which religion should inaugurate this Great Exhibition, and teach the nations that great as they are in all that constitutes material wealth, or industrial art, or mechanical skill, or intellectual force, "He that sitteth in the heavens" is mightier, and to Him, as the Creator of all, and the Ruler of all, is due man's holiest worship.
Particularly does this line of thought seem appropriate in this place. Each civilized nation has here its compartments, in which is to be seen the pith and essence of its industry and science.
Within the circle of a few acres are collected more treasures of hand-work and brain-work, more products of mechanical ingenuity and constructive skill than were ever gathered before. So that this Exhibition becomes an epitome and digest of the toiling world.
And it is well that alongside of these great [6/7] structures, built for the exposition of results of human science and art, should be erected churches built for the exposition of the truth of Him, whose is "the earth, and the fulness thereof:" that the voice of industry should not alone be heard here; that the triumphs of man's skill should not alone be seen here; that the human mind should not alone be recognized here; but that the voice of God, the triumphs of God, and the mind of God, should also be heard, seen, and adored.
Such a line of thought, as I indicated at the beginning, is also specially appropriate to the times in which we are. Never has there been a time when so many efforts have been made to set up an antagonism between the Bible and science; to represent Christianity as stifling inquiry,--as demanding only a blind faith; and now is the time, and here a proper place, to show the false hood of such Satanic utterances,--to declare the true relation of religion and science, and to show that the Bible does not fear, but rather courts investigation, and is a supporter, not a suppresser, of true science and pure art.
If art is but an imitation of nature, and nature but another name for God, then we cannot wrench art from reverence to God, without doing violence to the principle which gives it birth. If science is but a knowing of nature,--and nature is but another name for God,--then we cannot divorce science from God without destroying the very union on which science is based. And if art and science in their highest estate are but reproductions [7/8] of, or interpretations of the varied forms and laws of physical being, and those forms and laws were made and established by God, then science and art should be God's servitors, and should stand on each side of the Christian religion, as Aaron and Hur stood on each side of Moses, and hold up its hands in the battle that is now being waged between the Amalekites of a profane philosophy and rationalistic science, on the one hand, and those sturdy defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints on the other.
There is riot, there never can be, any discord between TRUE science and TRUE religion. The Bible has nothing to fear from true science. So far from keeping them apart, I say, open the Bible freely to science; let all its light, from every possible lens, and by every possible intensifier, he thrown upon the sacred page.
Let a true exegesis dig at the root of all its words; let a true chronology veri1 its dates; let a true arch test it by all its modern discoveries; let the rules of sound interpretation be applied to all its terms; let the laws of evidence sift with sternest rigour its authenticity and genuineness;--only treat it with the same honesty that you give to the works of a Homer, or a Livy, and the Bible will come out of the testing, and seven-times heated furnace, as the three children came out of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, with not even the smell of fire upon it.
But, on the other hand, do not ask the ministers of a religion, which is based on that Bible, to [8/9] surrender it, or any portion of it, because it does not square with modern science, or fit in to all the windings of modern philosophy. For, re member, that modern science is imperfect. It is not to-day what it was ten years ago, or what it will be ten years in the future. It is ever advancing. The theories of to-day will be exploded to-morrow,----the systems which obtain credence now, will fall before new generalizations, based on broader data.
But the Bible is a book perfect and complete: its canon was closed nearly eighteen hundred years ago; and no man can add to, or take from its pages, without incurring the anathema of God, as recorded in the last chapter of Revelation. Never, never then can we permit a book, made for all time, for all people, finished and perfect, to be condemned, because it does not conform itself to the dicta of an imperfect, unfinished, ever- shifting science. Every advanced step of science brings it nearer to the Bible; and when it shall be perfect, then will true science and true religion, like mercy and truth, embrace each other, and the kiss of righteousness and peace shall pass between both.
One of the old artists has painted a picture, in which the various sciences of his day were grouped around religion, and paying to her their homage. The thought of the artist will yet be translated into action. Methinks I can see, in the not far off future, the Redeemer again surrounded by Apostles,--not those only whom He chose to be [9/10] with Him in Judea,--but the twelve Apostles of nature,--those twelve great sciences, each personified in some one representative man, and grouped around Him, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and standing there, each grasping the crown, which marks the highest triumph of its represented science; they bow the knee before Him, and casting their crowns as humble tributes at His feet, crown Him "Lord of all."
Having stated these general points, let us recur to the grand declaration of the text, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." It is His, because He made it; His, because He preserves it; His, because He governs it. By the terms, "fulness thereof," we understand all that vegetable, mineral, animal, and material wealth, which God had stored up within the compass of the world. We cannot look at the variety of natural products seen in the Exhibition, without reading a commentary on our text. For it is God who has filled the earth with those vast magazines of materials and forces, which it is the object of man to seek out and develope. All the immense re sources of earth, and air, and sea, upon which depends the comfort and life of man, are of God. He spake, and they were made. Listen to the grand apostrophe in Nehemiah: "Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein; and Thou preservest them all: and the host of heaven worshippeth Thee." [10/11] And place alongside of this that poetical synopsis of the natural history of the world, penned by the inspired Psalmist, in the 104th Psalm: "Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works;" and that other declaration, in the 49th Psalm: "Thy faithfulness is unto all gene rations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to Thine ordinances: for all are Thy servants."
But these wonderful powers and products needed to be brought out and unfolded; therefore God made man, and constituted him, in the forcible words of Bacon, the minister and interpreter of nature; and so the text says, not only "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," but adds, "they that dwell therein;" i. e. human beings, to whom He subordinated the material and animal creation. God makes the snowy pods of the cotton-plant, the blue-flowered flax-stalk, the yellow cocoon of the silk-worm, the delicate fleece of wool; and man, by his art, spins from [11/12] them the delicate thread, and weaves the varied fabrics which array a Solomon in all his glory. God makes the mines in the bowels of the earth, and the ores that vein its crust, and man sets up his engines, and forges, and furnaces, and crucibles, and there come out of them all kinds of industrial products, from the jewels that flash on the crown of kings, to the heavy castings which enter into all the departments of constructive and dynamic skill. God gives electricity to the air, and man catches it in his batteries, and sends it like a six- winged messenger to tell his thoughts across an ocean or a continent. God gives number and space, and out of these, man constructs the science of mathematics, by which he weighs the sun, triangulates the planets, and finds out the laws of the universe.
This is but a small part of what man does with the raw materials furnished by God. But we are at once led to say, if man can do all this, how great must be the mind of man! If he can take wood from the tree, brown ore from the earth, water from the spring, and fire from the hearth, and so put them together as to make a magnificent steam-ship, that can def the winds and breast the stormy deep; if he can take a few wires, and by the art of the chemist lock up i a vessel no larger than a lady's thimble force enough to send through those wires an electric message across the Atlantic; if he can take molten sand out of the furnace, and so fashion and arrange it as to become a mirror to reflect imperial beauty, or the [12/13] lens of a star-revealing telescope; if he can do this, and ten thousand times more, how great and noble must be the human intellect! And so it is.
But before we go a step further.--ask whence came this intellect? To this there is but one answer--it is the gift of God. "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.°± Most strikingly is this fact brought out in the 31st chapter of Exodus. God had given Moses directions as to the making of the Tabernacle in which He was to be worshipped; to carry out these directions required the highest powers of the mind, and the most delicate skill; and the God who ordered the Tabernacle, thus provided for its building; "See," said He unto Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezaleel, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, and in carving of timber; and behold I have given with him Aholiab, and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee."
Here all skill is referred to God; and though all workmen are not inspired as were these, yet there is no skill outside the natural faculties of the human mind, and no mind save that which is the gift of God.
And so we are carried up step by step to the [13/14] source of all mind, the fountain-head of all wisdom, to the self-existing, unchangeable "I AM." And O how should we reverence and adore such a Being, Who can do such wondrous works, Whose is the earth, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein!
We stand speechless with delight before one marble statue or one painting, and praise and almost reverence the artist, and yet think not of, and praise not God, Who has made millions of these forms, not of dead marble, but of living flesh, instinct with life, and enshrined in each a deathless soul; and Who has painted these ten thousand landscapes of nature which art vainly attempts to copy.
We give our meed of praise to the astronomer who maps out for us the starry heavens, and pilots us in our aerial voyage by the great lighthouses of the sky, and by the sounding-lead of geometry. And when such men as Le Verrier and Adams, by the pure formularies of mathematics, solve the perturbations of the solar system, by declaring the cause to be the existence of an un discovered planet; when they tell us the distance, the weight, the size, the orbit of that hitherto unknown planet; when, pointing with the index finger of science, they designate the exact spot where that then never seen star is, and call upon astronomers to turn their telescopes thither and search for it; and when they do thus seek and thus find it in its predicted position and with all its foretold elements,--when we see such a triumph [14/15] of mind over space and numbers wrought out in the upper firmament, how are we almost ready to fall down and worship powers so beyond the ordinary range of human knowledge!
Yet when our minds are all aglow with praise of the human instruments, how do we forget Him Who made the minds of these men, and Who made the planet itself, and the countless other suns and systems which spangle the vault of Heaven, each perhaps greater than our own, and each in its sphere "singing as they shine," "The hand that made us is Divine!"
Thus a consideration of the works of man will, if viewed aright, lead us to God; we should not stop short of God. All the lines of our thought, start from what point of the circumference of human knowledge they may, will, if properly followed, conduct us by direct consequence to the first great cause.
Do we recognize man as a great artificer,--should we not recognize in God, who made man, a still greater Artificer?
Do we recognize in the product of man's hand wisdom and skill,--should we not recognize in the infinitely greater product of God's hand, divine wisdom and understanding?
Do we almost deity the human mind as we mark what that unseen immaterial intellect can do, working and unfolding itself through physical organs and on gross material things, and should we not really adore that Divine Mind, which called into being and fashioned and governs all things?
 How can we consistently admire the things of the creature, and not the things of the Creator? How can we glorify a human mind, a mere unit in the myriads of minds which God has made, and not glorify the Eternal Mind, the source and end of all created intelligence in heaven and earth?
Now it is one of the objects of the Christian religion to cultivate this devout spirit which recognizes God in all things, and which ever seeks to know, to love, and to adore Him. It is the nature of true religion to refine and elevate the taste, to liberate the mind from gross lusts and passions, to lift up the heart into communion with God, to ally man by faith to Christ, and to make our souls temples of the Holy Ghost. Just in proportion as man is free from the disturbing influences of sin, enlightened by truth, made conscious of his future destiny, and brought under the influence of a life-moulding spirit of holiness; just in that proportion will he be best fitted to study the works of God as subjects of art, and the laws of God as subjects of science.
I boldly say that never will the earth be used aright, never will science fully open to us the secret springs and organisms of material things, never will art put forth its highest power and attain its true end, never will industry evoke all its richest treasures and manipulate them into sources of social comfort and national greatness, until man shall recognize, and practically act upon, the great truth that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
 When this spirit pervades the schools of science and art,--as assuredly it will,--then will the productions of the studio and the laboratory, the workshop and the lecture-room, minister, not as they now too much do, to the lust of pleasure, the lust of pride, the lust of power, the lust of wealth; but to that which is healthful and elevating, to that which will hold communities together in the bonds of peace, to that which will relieve human suffering and poverty, remove crime, educate the masses, and enable man under all circumstances to fulfil his duties to his fellow-beings and to Almighty God.
Such an end and aim of science would make a great change in the whole face of society. We should not see art prostituted, and science de based; but under such a change the gigantic forces and agencies now at work in all lands for the production of the materials of war, for perfecting instruments whereby nations may slay nations, and which occupy tens of millions of hands and brains, would be done away; and these energies, which are now worse than wasted in producing and using engines of death, would be used for the production of the implements and agencies of peace. Under such a change all the artistic skill that is now subsidized for the production of those works, which pander to base and sensual passions, would be employed on subjects that would ennoble and refine society.
Thus I might show that if science and art become,--as blessed be God they will be,--[17/18] handmaids to religion, every welfare of man would be promoted, every virtue be strengthened, and the world, which God has made, be brighter, happier, holier in all its aspects, and in all its dwellings.
Christian men, recognizing in this concourse of nations an opportunity for the spread of divine truth, have organized various services and agencies whereby to disseminate the Word of God, and herald forth salvation, through a crucified Redeemer. These various agencies constitute a marked feature of this Exhibition, and illustrate the earnestness and activity of the Christian age. It was in this spirit that a few English and American Churchmen started the enterprise, which we this day inaugurate. They thought that the Church should not he unmindful of her children in a foreign land; that, if possible, they should be gathered under her wings, and shielded by her watchfulness and care, and that some effort should be made to supply to those temporarily sojourning here, an opportunity of worshipping God according to the formularies of their respective Churches. lit was also decided to unite, if possible, in this enterprise the Mother Church of England, and the Daughter Church of America, the two greatest English-speaking branches of the Holy Catholic Church. The permission of His Imperial Majesty was graciously given; the courtesy of Baron Haussmann, the distinguished Prefect of the Seine, allotted to the enterprise this admirable position; the kind interest of one of the Imperial Princesses, a communicant of the American Church here, and [18/19] of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in England, greatly fostered the plan; the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel promptly threw the weight and means of that venerable body into immediately securing a building and a chaplain; the resident Church clergy in Paris gave to it their hearty support; and the generous and working laity entered with ardent zeal into so noble an undertaking; and to-day we present to you the Anglo-American Church as an accomplished fact.
Differing as the two nations do in government, having each a distinct nationality, dwelling in opposite hemispheres, and separated by three thousand miles of ocean, the citizens of each meet under this roof in Christian brotherhood, "in the unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace." By this act the Church, as by law established in England and Ireland, and the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, show to the assembled nations, that they are in root and essence one and the same Church;--one in their Catholic creeds,--one in their Apostolic ministry,--one in their Book of Common Prayer, and one in the central object of their love and faith. Such a spectacle as this is at once unique and sublime. It is the first instance of practical unity under the sanction of the Episcopate of both branches, and is but the precursor, I trust, of a more thorough intercommunion between all the Churches of Anglican descent, wherever found. So that, strong in our united strength, we may present an undivided front against error, and march forward in [19/20] the discharge of our high mission, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners. This fact speaks trumpet to the ear of the world, that there is a substantial unity among Protestant Christians,--that there is a living Church, which is stretching out its branches in all quarters of the globe, yet every where essentially the same, and drawing all its life-sap from the one primitive root, planted by Christ Himself.
But by inaugurating this Church here we wish to do something more than to set up a type of Church Unity, or protest against the rationalism of the day, or point out the true relations of the Bible and science; or even to uphold the grand truth of God's ownership of the world as enunciated in the text. This is all well, but we wish to do more--we specially establish this Church to preach in it an uplifted Saviour. Standing as this church does in this chief place of concourse at the entering in of the gates which lead to the gathered treasures of this great Exhibition, we hold it to be a special duty to set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour of men. Our blessed Lord Himself said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw. all men unto Me." That lifting up was the giving His life-blood on the cross, whereby He made a full atonement for sins, and secured a full pardon from, and reconciliation with, God for all who accept Him as the substitute and Saviour of their souls. This great central truth of our holy religion--salvation through the blood of the [20/21] Lamb slain on the altar of the cross--Christ crucified for us, we desire to make pre-eminent in all our services and in all our sermons. It is an uplifted Jesus that will draw all men unto him, not a Jesus laid aside or covered up by the dogmas and practices of men.
We want to hold up a Christ bleeding in our stead, and thus working out our redemption; a Christ obeying the law in our stead, and thus working out for us justifying righteousness. So that cleansed by His blood from sin, and robed in the seamless garment of His merit, we shall stand pardoned and justified before God.
This was the basis of all St. Paul's preaching. He was learned, but he spoke "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth." He was eloquent, but he came not to the churches "with excellency of speech;" for he "determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." He had whereof to glory. He was the chief of the Apostles, the most successful of the Apostles, but casting all aside, and looking to the uplifted Jesus, he bursts into the strong exclamation--"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This should be our motto and example. We love the Church, as an ecclesiastical organization, but only because it enshrines Christ; take Christ away, and it is a corpse--a body without a soul. We love the Apostolic ministry, but only because it is a "ministry of reconciliation" through the blood of Christ; take Christ away, and it is no better than a priesthood of lies. We love the [21/22] Sacraments, "the outward and visible sign of in ward and spiritual grace," but only because one grafts us into Christ, and the other feeds us "with the spiritual food of His most precious body and blood;" take away Christ, and they are empty symbols, meaningless signs. We love the Liturgy, which links us so touchingly by its prayers and praise with the Primitive Church, but chiefly be cause all its pages speak of Christ--His person--His offices--His work--so that His Name, "as ointment poured forth;" perfumes the whole Prayer Book with its divine aroma; take away Christ, and it is a casket which has lost its jewel; an alabaster box emptied of its spikenard. Blessed be God that in the standards, formularies, and ordinal of our churches, Christ is first, Christ is last, Christ is "all and in all."
This, then, is the attitude and position which we would occupy in the face of the world; and in humble dependence on the Holy Ghost as the source of all spiritual life and power, we confidently expect God's blessing on our work. And our prayer shall be that of the Psalmist, "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it."
One thought more, and I have done.
This great Exhibition will soon come to an end. Its collected treasures will be scattered, its gathered nations return to their homes, and the beautiful palace, which has arisen like fairy work at the touch of a mighty magician, will be taken down, and Mars will resume the field which he only [22/23] temporarily granted to Peace. As a dream it arose, as a dream it was enjoyed, as a dream it will vanish away.
But let me tell you of another City and another Exhibition, in comparison with which these fade into insignificance.
It is of that City which hath twelve gates, "and every several gate was of one pearl," and "at the gates twelve angels;" which bath twelve foundations, each foundation stone a precious jewel, and "in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb;" which has its streets "of pure gold, as it were transparent glass," and flowing through it the river of life, clear as crystal. It is of that City which "has no need of the sun neither of the moon to shine in it;" where there is no night, no sickness, no death; "that great City the holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God." Of the wonderful exhibition which shall be displayed in this Divine City, St. John, in the 21st chapter of the Revelation, gives this account:--"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it; and the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; and they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it; and there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
What a great and glorious Exhibition will that be! There will be collected, not the warlike [23/24] glory of nations, not the false honours of earthly kingdoms, not that which ministers to sinful passions; but moral glories, spiritual honours, such as God stamps as glory and honour, such works as are wrought by angels, such displays as befit the dwelling-place of Jehovah.
The cities of earth shall all crumble into ruins; but this City, whose maker and builder is God, is eternal in the heavens.
The exhibitions of earth shall pass away; but the display which shall be made there will remain for ever with an ever-augmenting glory. Seek then, I beseech you, to enter in through the gate into that City; Christ is the "Door" through which alone you can pass.
Seek, I pray you, to be enrolled a citizen of that City; it is faith in Christ's perfect sacrifice and finished righteousness, which registers your name in the Lamb's book of life.
Seek, I entreat you, to be a sharer of that celestial glory; it can only be secured by becoming a follower of Christ now; for they who confess Him on earth, will be confessed by Him before His holy angels; and they who take up the cross and bear it after Jesus here, shall wear the crown there, that crown of glory which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give you at that day.--Amen.