THERE has been no agency in the Church more powerful for good than that of Christian women. One of the most flourishing parishes in my diocese had for years only a handful of women to attend its services. Most of its support came from their self-denial. These faithful souls never admitted defeat nor questioned future success. The superintendent of the best Sunday School in the diocese was a woman, Mrs. B. G. Ripley, whose husband was the son of Dr. Ripley of Concord, Massachusetts.
Mr. Ripley was the chief justice in the state and a doorkeeper in the House of God. He was peculiarly fitted for the office of chief justice and was beloved and honored throughout Minnesota. After his health failed he resigned his office and removed to Concord, Massachusetts, where he resided in the Old Manse, near the battlefield of the American Revolution.
I was his guest when at the request of the citizens of Concord I delivered an address on Indian Missions. Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife spent the afternoon with us at the Manse. Mr. Emerson was profoundly interested in my story of the Indians' wrongs and of what the gospel of Christ had done for them. After my address Mr. Emerson, on behalf of the citizens of Concord, thanked me in earnest words, expressing gratitude "that God had led me to care for the Indians, upon whom the gospel had had so marvellous an effect in leading them from their heathenism."
All over my diocese women have been and are doing noble work, for which they will be repaid in that day when "He maketh up His jewels."
In my Convention address of 1879 I said of the work of deaconesses:--
I have given much thought to the question of the associated labor of Christian women in the Church. Two plans have been tried--the one associated sisterhoods, which in their corporate life and labor may be independent of diocesan authority, the other, that of deaconesses duly ordained by the bishop and working under those who have authority, mission, and jurisdiction in the Church. Any plan which enables holy women to consecrate their lives unto Christ in His work will bring 'its own reward.
The Church is a divine institution which has a oneness of organized life. The Apostolic Church, acting under the guidance of God the Holy Ghost, set apart both men and women to do eleemosynary work. The individual laymen of Jerusalem could have lightened the burden of the apostles by voluntary service in caring for the poor. It pleased God that the Church should select "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom," and bring them to the apostles to be duly ordained to the ministry. The same Apostolic Church, under Divine guidance set apart and ordained deaconesses for this work. It is with me no question of individual preference. I concede all the good which has and can be done by the associated labor of women in binding up the wounds of sin-sick and suffering humanity. But as I know of no human society which has the authority, mission, and promise of the historical Church, so no plan for the work of such Christian women commends itself as does that Divine plan which the apostles established. Every need of worship, fellowship, and government can be secured, and added thereto are the precedents and authority of the Church of the apostles.
That which was a daydream of my heart has been made a reality in the establishment of the Deaconesses' Home in St. Paul by my dear brother, the Rev. C. E. Haupt.
In some instances laymen have done noble work in my diocese. Colonel J. C. Ide of Wilton acted as lay-reader and Sunday School superintendent, and his services were attended by people reared in different communions, while his Sunday School was the nursery for many parishes.
General McLean, son of Judge McLean of the Supreme Court, was a prominent lawyer in Cincinnati at the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted and by his heroism became a general. At the close of the war he settled in Frontenac, Minnesota, where he built Christ's Church and by his life and work was a power of untold good in the community. There were few parishes which presented classes for confirmation so well trained, and no Sunday School which showed more careful instruction in Christian truth. His name, with those of Dr. Hawley of Red Wing and Mr. Longworth of Clear Lake and others, will remain a precious memory.
I believe that one great hindrance to the progress of the Church lies in the frequent change of pastorates, and that often some temporary discouragement leads to the resignation of the pastor at the very point where success awaited his efforts. As an illustration of this I mention the case of one of my clergy, the Rev. Daniel T. Booth. At the time of his ordination the only vacant place in my diocese was a mission where an attempt had been made to build a church; it was partly finished and one thousand dollars in debt. I offered to give Mr. Booth a letter to another bishop, but he said, "No, I shall stay with you." I sent him to this mission, giving him a stipend and a promise that for every dollar raised toward the debt I would give another dollar. He had a large family, and the outlook was forbidding. But' he was in earnest and his life preached daily sermons. As a border man once said to me:--
"There are two kinds of preaching, one with the lips and one with the life; and life-preaching doesn't rub out."
Mr. Booth has been in this parish where there is not a wealthy person for twenty-three years. The church, enlarged to double its original size, has been paid for, there is a comfortable rectory, and there are more communicants of the Church in proportion to the population than in any village or city in Minnesota.
In the administration of my diocese I have given the clergy my confidence and love, believing that it was a bishop's duty to protect them against unjust attacks. A layman in whom I trusted once wrote me of rumors against the character of a clergyman and advised me to secure him a call elsewhere. I kept my own counsel and spent weeks in tracing the rumors. Being finally convinced that it was a case of slander, I refused to give the man a transfer, saying: "If you go, evil report will follow you; here it will be silenced. I know that the rumors are false, and a bishop's bones will stand between them and you.
Years after that layman thanked me for the ground I had taken, saying, "If you had listened to me, one of the best clergymen in your diocese would have been ruined."
In questions of ritual I have conceded to the clergy all the liberty which the Church has given. The ritual of the Church ought to be the expression of her life. Twenty-one years ago I said in an address to my Diocesan Council:--
"It has been my earnest wish to heal the unhappy divisions of Christians and to make love the bond of union of our diocese. A Catholic Church must be broad enough for all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.
"We have no right to question the opinions of any man who holds and teaches the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds and is loyal to the Church of Christ. Loyalty is a bond of love and not a yoke of bondage. I love the Book of Common Prayer for its sincere, fervent piety, its clear declaration of the truth of the Incarnation, and because it everywhere teaches the blessed doctrine of justification alone by the merits of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I love it because it breathes a spirit of tender compassion for the erring. While its warnings are heart searching, it everywhere holds up Jesus Christ as the only hope of a lost world. There has never been a liturgy broader in its spirit, more spiritual in its teaching, or clearer in its definition of doctrine. It does not attempt to explain what God has not explained, and the doctrines over which men have bitterly contended are here stated in the very language of God's Word. I find in this my greatest comfort. I would not dare to use the words of any man to set forth the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; but I can, with an unfaltering voice, use the words which the Saviour has placed on my lips, and leave the deep spiritual meaning to Him. No other course can reunite a divided Christendom.
"There is growing up within and without the Church a deep longing for a closer union among those who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Christian men are becoming sick of the yokes of party bondage. There is much to grieve and wound, but there never has been a time when the outlook has been as hopeful as it is to-day. Never have there been so many signs of the deepening of spiritual life; never the worldwide interest in missions to heathen folk; never more willing gifts to found hospitals, schools, and works of mercy. The Lord is attuning the hearts of His children to His words in the synagogue of Nazareth:--
"' The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captive, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.'
"It is true that infidelity challenges the faith and tries to pervert science to its unholy work. Infidelity has never touched the wants of humanity; scoffs and sneers can furnish no foundations upon which men can build for time and eternity. As it has been, it shall be. The history of Christianity can be read by its triumphs and by the bones of the dead.
"The reunion of Christians will not come by truces and make-believes. It will not come by any human irenicons. It will come when the ever blessed Spirit of God shall fill all Christian hearts with His love. Then we shall love all whom He loves.
"One should be able to recognize the blessed work which Christians of different names are doing at home and in heathen lands, and to see the image of Christ wherever it is to be found.
"Of ritual I have said that I dread the strife which may come to the flock of Christ by individual alterations of the ritual of the Church. Eitual cannot regenerate the world. Unless it is the expression of a deep spiritual life hid with Christ in God, it is a worse mockery than gay garments on a corpse. Danger is not in a lack of ceremonials, but in a lack of holiness. The Church will advance in the beauty of her services as her spiritual life deepens. The ritual of the Church cannot be left to individual fancies. It must bear the Church's authority and symbolize her teaching.
"Of the blessed sacrament of the Holy Communion, our Lord's dying testament to His people, I have dwelt upon the danger of defining the mode and the manner of Christ's presence to the believer. It is deplorable when an attempt is made to lay bare Divine mysteries. In the most solemn hour of His earthly life our Blessed Lord instituted this Holy Sacrament, which has two parts--the outward and visible sign, and the inward and spiritual grace. Everything appertaining to this sacrament was ordained by One who was truly God. The substances to be set apart, the act of consecration, and the faithful reception make the Sacrament. There is not a place in the Holy Scriptures where our Blessed Lord and His apostles speak of this Sacrament that they do not enforce the faithful reception as a part of the Divine Institution. It is only when these appointments of God are fulfilled that the Sacrament is accomplished. The time at which the Sacrament becomes a Divine Mystery is when, in obedience to God's law, we have duly received it. This is the plain teaching of the Church. In the Invocation, after the Consecration, we pray:--
"'We most humbly beseech Thee, O most merciful Father, to hear us; and, of Thy Almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with Thy Word and Holy Spirit, these Thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of His death and passion, may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood.'
"Here, as in all her teaching, the Church honors the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who is sent to take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. The prayer of Invocation sets forth the doctrine which has always been held by our branch of the Church Catholic--that the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ is His gift to the worthy receiver of the blessed Sacrament. It is then that the Church places her children on their knees. It is a matter of devout thanksgiving that the Church of England and our own Church have taught of this sacrament, that which was taught for one thousand years after our Lord's Ascension; that it is a means of grace and not an object of adoration. The Church has always repeated to her children the words of St. Paul, ' The bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ? The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ?'
"Every believer must feel a deep reverence for this Holy Mystery, and his heart will be melted with contrition and his faith will look up with grateful love to the One Mediator who in His glorified humanity bears the mark of His suffering for us. He will gladly accept the truth that in this Sacrament ' We do show forth the Lord's death until He come,' and that the minister of Christ by the command of his Lord sets forth and consecrates the broken bread and poured-out wine, as the memorial and representation of that one sacrifice which our great High Priest perpetually presents unto the Father. He will humbly believe that when he rightly receives this Sacrament through the Holy Ghost he receives the benefits of Our Lord's Passion. The Holy Ghost is God's Vicegerent who keeps up the life current between disciples on earth and their ascended Lord.
"I love a beautiful ritual, but I love more the unity of the Church. There is great danger that young men of little experience with the world and a good deal of self, may repel men from the Church. Far better is it to follow the advice of the apostle:--
"'Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become an occasion of stumbling to them that are weak.' ' When ye sin so against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.'
"If a man preaches Christ, lives for Christ, works for Christ, and his heart is full of love for the footsore and weary, his ritual will not provoke cavil. If, however, ritual is placed first, his mission has been strangely forgotten. The King's Daughter may indeed be clothed in raiment of needlework, but the fair linen of the Lamb's bride is the righteousness of the Saints."
In a visit to England in 1864 I was the guest of Archbishop Tait, then the Bishop of London. After a long conversation upon the American Church, its diocesan councils and work, I expressed some surprise that with his theological views he should permit the extreme ritualistic practices of the clergy in St. George's-in-the-East. He replied:--
"My dear brother, these men are doing work for lost souls, and I cannot interfere with work done for Jesus Christ."
When the cholera came Bishop and Mrs. Tait went to St. George's-in-the-East to minister to the sick and dying.
In the autumn of the same year I was the guest of my dear friend Bishop Wilberforce at Cuddeson; and it is a sweet memory that I was permitted to see into the depths of that rare nature as never before, and afterward to better appreciate Mr. Gladstone's announcement of the bishop's death to the Queen, "Your Majesty has lost your greatest subject."
I recall a visit which I made at this time, one stormy night in November, with Mr. Robert Minturn, who was deeply interested in work for the poor, and Mr. Glynn, to a refuge filled with wretched men and women in the worst part of London. The doors were guarded by policemen to prevent noted criminals from entering. The women were in an upper hall while the men occupied a large hall on the ground floor. Each person was registered, the nationality, age, and religion recorded, and the cases were examined by district visitors. When the rooms were full, bread and coffee were distributed, after which a hymn was sung, a chapter from the gospels read, and a prayer offered. The visitors then passed from one to another with words of comfort and encouragement. I was attracted by the gentle voice of a lady dressed in mourning who seemed to have a peculiar influence upon the women, who hung upon every word that fell from her lips. I learned that she was the daughter of a prominent nobleman, and came regularly every week to minister to her wretched sisters.
As we were leaving Mr. Minturn said:--
"I suppose you do not have many Americans here?"
"No," replied Mr. Glynn, "but there is one here to-night."
Mr. Minturn asked me to see him and find out if he were a worthy object of charity. I found that the poor fellow had come from St. Louis and had an' interesting history, but misfortune had followed him until his means had become exhausted. He had pawned his coat for food, and would have been a wanderer in the street had it not been for this refuge. He described people and places in St. Louis so accurately that I believed it to be a case of honest suffering. Mr. Minturn wrote to his shipping agent in London:--
Buy A. B. a suit of clothes and send him home on the first ship. Write the New York office to give him a ticket for St. Louis.
The same evening he arranged to send two orphan children to good homes.
Mr. William H. Aspinwall, who was then in London, invited me to accompany him to Rome. We had no clergyman at that time in Rome, and during my stay I did much parish work. After a service held in the English Church outside the walls, I overheard an English woman say to another:--
"Who was the bishop who preached to-day?"
And the answer was:--
"The Bishop of Mimosa; he comes from South Africa, you know."