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Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate
Being Reminiscences and Recollections
of the Right Reverend
Henry Benjamin Whipple, D.D., LL.D.
Bishop of Minnesota

New York: The Macmillan Company, 1899.

Chapter XXXVI

IT is known that the discussions of the Lambeth Conference are held in private. The speeches which were made upon subjects which are burning questions were worthy of a council of bishops of the Church. Some of them were marked by great eloquence and power.

A proposition was made to establish for the whole Anglican Communion a Council of Advice of which the Archbishop of Canterbury should be the head. It has been my privilege to have the love and personal friendship of the four archbishops, the Most Rev. Drs. Longley, Tait, Benson, and Temple, for whom no one could have a greater admiration than I.

I opposed the establishment of such a council because I believe that national churches are the normal law of Church extension, and that in the past centralization of authority beyond national bounds has been full of mischief and has brought sorrow to the Church. In my sermon before the Lambeth Conference of 1888 I said:--

We meet as representatives of national churches, each with its own peculiar responsibilities to God for the souls entrusted to its care, each with all the rights of a national church to adapt itself to the varying conditions of human society, and each bound to preserve the order, the faith, the sacraments, and the worship of the Catholic Church for which it is a trustee.

In these words I voiced the sentiment of our late primate, Bishop "Williams, who wrote me before my departure for the Lambeth Conference, expressing the hope that in all our deliberations nothing would be done to affect the prerogatives of national churches, affirming that in the past the greatest evils which have come to the Church have come through usurpation of the rights of national churches, and that it was more important that we should maintain our primitive and apostolic position because the Church of England was allied to the State.

When the proposition was introduced into the Lambeth Conference of 1888 by some of the colonial bishops to establish a Council of Advice, after consultation with the American bishops I said that as this question alone concerned colonial bishops of the Church of England it was not our wish to participate in the discussion. In the conference of 1897 the subject came up in a more definite shape. There were some differences of views between American bishops as to the course which should be pursued, and no action was taken on our part affecting the American Church. The same proposition for the creation of a consultative body was presented to the General Convention in Washington in 1898, in a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a joint committee of both Houses made a report "recognizing the need of such a consultative body by the colonial and missionary dioceses of the Church of England. It also declared the fact that without any formal concordat, these two great English-speaking nations were plainly drawing nearer and nearer to each other in sympathy and the sense of common duty to the world. . . . But inasmuch as the suggestion emanates from a voluntary conference of bishops only, which neither claims nor asks recognition as an organic representative of the Church, the committee thinks that no action of this General Convention should be taken in regard to it, feeling that if the bishops of this Church desire any of their number to be members of this consultative body, they will undoubtedly arrange among themselves some method of accepting the courteous invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury."

Some weeks before the death of our beloved primate, I addressed him a letter in which I recalled the views presented by me at the Lambeth Conference of 1888 and spoke of my fears that any approach to centralization, or even the establishment of an advisory council as proposed, would fetter our work in the United States. In reply to this I received from his secretary the following letter:--

December 29th, 1898.

My Dear Bishop: The Bishop requests me to say in regard to the matter about which you wrote, in his opinion you are entirely right in the views you express; if nothing else, the fact that the Church of England is under Parliament would prevent a free Church from entering into embarrassing relations. He sends yourself and Mrs. Whipple his love and best wishes for a Happy and Blessed New Year.

Very truly yours,
E. H. YOUNG, Sec.

The late presiding bishop recognized, as I do, that there may be a necessity for such a council for the colonial bishops of the Church of England.

Every bishop has the right to seek the fraternal advice of any other bishop, and such advice has been and will be sought from brothers whenever the exigency demands. But to establish an authoritative Council of Advice implies that they who seek such advice shall be guided by it as the interpreter of the law of the Church. More than this, each national church has its own particular difficulties growing out of the sad divisions among Christian men, and under God it alone can solve these difficulties and heal these divisions. There is danger that this work may be hindered, if not prevented, by any appearance of the intervention of a foreign church against which unjust prejudices might be aroused.

There is, thank God, a growing recognition among all English-speaking Christians that they have a common mission in evangelizing the world. But until the race of jingoes shall have perished from the earth, I believe that an intervention of one national church in the affairs of another will certainly bring sorrow. I am sure that the influence of the Lambeth Conferences has been most helpful in all Christian work, in the defence of the faith and in the promotion of Christian unity. But I question whether the Church in the United States will ever be represented in a Lambeth Conference after the creation of such an authoritative council. Certainly not unless against the protest of the laity of our branch of the Church.

It was a matter of devout thankfulness that among the subjects presented to the Lambeth Conference for discussion were practical questions which underlie the welfare and existence of human society, such as purity, temperance, socialism, and the relations of capital and labor. The deepest sympathy for men of toil was exhibited by the speakers, and the truth was emphasized that these questions which were perplexing men's minds can be and will be solved by the teaching of Jesus Christ.

No one could have listened to the discussions of the conference without feeling that the Church is awakening to her grave responsibilities and to the fact that she has been placed in the world to represent her Master and to do the work which He did. The archbishop in burning words said in his speech on Foreign Missions that "the Church was not yet awake, that her ears were deaf to the cry of millions in heathen darkness, that the Church only exists to be a missionary Church, and that when this duty is neglected, spiritual death comes."

I missed from the conference dear and familiar faces; among them the Most Rev. Dr. Benson, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the ripest scholars who has graced that see and one of the gentlest and most loving brothers. At his request I wrote a sermon in behalf of the archbishops' mission to the Assyrian Christians. I know of no act of an Archbishop of Canterbury which has brought greater blessings to the Church than his decision in the trial of the Rt. Rev. Dr. King, Bishop of Lincoln. His life of Cyprian will always be one of the most valuable histories of our time.

Another missing face was that of Archbishop Magee, who sat next me in all the sittings of the Lambeth Conference of 1888. He was the foremost of preachers, using no notes and clothing his thoughts in words which always went straight to his listeners' hearts. There have been few men in the Church of England who have had a deeper realization of the problems which the Church has to solve. He was a charming conversationalist, and wise and witty sayings fell from his lips with the spontaneity of a bubbling spring.

Archbishop Thompson of York, who preached the closing sermon of the conference of 1888, was a remarkable platform speaker, ever welcome at the meetings of the Church Congress, and one of the rare men whose words always contained the germ of a great truth. On one occasion just before he rose to speak, a laboring man said to a companion:--

"Let us go now."

"Na, na," was the reply. "I waits for his Lordship; he allus tells me some 'at I can take awa wi' me."

Another vacant place was that of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham, who was perhaps the greatest Biblical scholar in England. He has silenced many of the sceptical objections to revealed religion which have been so widespread in our day. I was his guest at Auckland Castle at the time of the opening service of its beautiful chapel after the wonderful restoration which he accomplished. During a visit to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Baring, Bishop of Durham, in 1864, I officiated with him in this chapel when its walls were grim with the wear of centuries, at the marriage of Miss Anna Minturn and the Rev. Mr. Quick.

The present Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Westcott, owing to illness was absent from the conference, greatly to the sorrow of his brethren. He has been to me a much loved friend and his writings and personal letters are a priceless possession. Bishop Westcott has taken a very deep interest in the laboring and mining population of his diocese. In one of the fiercest strikes in the north of England both employers and employees accepted Bishop Westcott as an arbitrator, and the just terms of his decision were approved by both parties.

A wonderful tribute is paid to Bishop Lightfoot in the following letters from Bishop Westcott and Dr. Searle of Cambridge.


My dear Brother: What can I say that does not altogether fall short of what I feel! . . . Even in a very humble way I feel here how those whom we do not see are chief powers in our life. In the few weeks in which I have been allowed to work I can feel how to me and to others Bishop Lightfoot is the great present power. We all recognize him, and hear his voice, and perceive his guidance, and know that now the influence is freed from every earthly admixture. The truth was forced upon me last week when it was my duty to consecrate the Church of St. Columba, a duty which he was eagerly looking forward to, so that on his last journey to Bournemouth he took with him all the literature to prepare his sermon; and it fell to me to preach as at the twin Church of St. Ignatius, not quite a year ago, when we were full of thanksgiving for his restoration. . . . You will be constantly in our thoughts, and we are glad that you know the home that is lent to us. Perhaps you may even see us in it. It is a great thing that every one must feel that the Chapel is the heart of it. Such memories are a marvellous inheritance to be used for the whole Church, and I think that they can be used. . . . With most grateful and affectionate remembrances,

Ever yours,

ROBIN HOOD'S BAT, August 25, 1897.

My dear Bishop: One word only of farewell and thanks. The sermon I had read before, but I was very glad to have a copy from yourself. The All Saints address was new. I have read it with deep interest. How utterly unable we are to give form to the unseen, and how silent Scripture is when we consider the curiosity of man. I often think that the revelation which will meet our opened eyes is the reality of the ineffable fellowship "in Christ," a new type of life, in which the members consciously enjoy the life of the whole body through its Head. What visions open out from Eph. iii. 21, with the true reading R.V.

Though it is a great disappointment [to us not to have the pleasure of seeing you here, I cannot wonder that you have found it impossible to fit in the visit. I am glad that I was fortunate enough to meet you at St. Paul's. Still I had hoped yet once more to hear something of your work, which seemed to bring me nearer to the unseen world than anything else that I have ever known.

May the manifold blessings which you have experienced still follow you.

Ever yours affectionately,



My dear Bishop: Your sermon preached before the General Convention in October of the present year I have read with great interest and profit; many of the names of the Churchmen of olden days were new to me. I thank you again my dear Bishop, for the many noble ideas your sermon contains.

But I am writing to you on a sad day, for your Church being one with ours, will call Bishop Lightfoot your own, and to-day this greatest of prelates is being laid to rest after labors for the Church which no one has equalled. He will be buried in Auckland Chapel. I naturally should have been there .... and this has kept me at home and given me opportunity to look over many of the dear Bishop's letters and recall my last visit to Auckland. It was in August of last year, just after the visit of the Bishops to him in which he took the intensest interest, though really very ill. In the first week of August I was there and heard about you, and recollect how proud he was of the beautiful service books which the American bishops had given to the Chapel, in which all your names were written.

You must connect his death with the Pan-Anglican gathering, as you see he himself has done in the address which he last gave in October of this year. No Bishop of our Church had a larger heart for his brethren in foreign parts, and could stir us up with equal power to our duty in regard to foreign missions. 1 am told that there will be published, at least so it is hoped, not only some Commentaries on the Acts and Thessalonians, but some of the sermons, charges, and addresses.

I saw him last at Easter at Bournemouth, when he was convalescent, and as you know he seemed to have really recovered; and during the last half of this year he did a very great deal of study as well as active work, too active some of us thought, in the Diocese.

There will be a service this afternoon at Trinity for those who have not been able to get away. . . .

In bringing my letter to a close I must say that I often think of you and show your photograph to my friends. . . . Mrs. Searle joins me in every good wish for the New Year, and I remain,

With affectionate regards, yours most truly,

My last meeting with the Rt. Rev. William Walsham How, the beloved Bishop of Wakefield, was at the People's Palace in London, where with others I had been invited by the Bishop of Stepney to deliver an address, in which I referred to a mission which I had attended years before in East London where Bishop How, then Bishop of East London, preached the sermon.

Recalling the bishop's text, "They besought him to depart out of their coasts," I described the congregation gathered from the slums who hung breathlessly upon his story of the Saviour's love. I shall never forget his face as with tears in his eyes he thanked me for my tribute of love. A few days later he had entered into restj and I was one of thousands who sorrowed that we "shall see his face no more."

At the invitation of the Bishop of Rochester I delivered a missionary sermon in the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour, Southwalk, London, the collegiate church of William of Wyckham, Launcelot Andrews, and other great bishops of Rochester. It was a most impressive service, at which one hundred and twenty-five bishops were present.

The Church of St. Saviour is full of memories. It was in the Ladye Chapel that Bishop Gardner held court and condemned to be burned at the stake Bishop Farrar of Worcester, the Bishop of St. David's, John Rogers, and four priests. A window placed in the church in memory of John Bunyan, the nonconformist, who preached in the streets near by, is a sign of the happier times in which we are living.

We spent a pleasant week with Sir Richard Webster, the Attorney-General of England, who is one of her foremost laymen in loyalty to Church and in service to country.

Farnham Castle, the home of my dear friend the Bishop of Winchester, was another resting-place doubly dear to me as the scene of many happy days with Bishop Thorold and Bishop Harold Browne.

At Rochampton I preached in the Parish Church in which at my last visit I administered the Holy Communion to Mr. Junius S. Morgan and Mr. Alexander Duncan, two dear friends who gave me such blessed help in the early days of my schools and who are now in Paradise.

On the second day of August the closing services of the Lambeth Conference took place at St. Paul's Cathedral. The sermon was preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury and was a stirring presentation of the mission of the Church. The archbishop was assisted in the celebration of the Holy Communion by the Archbishop of York and by the Bishop of London and myself. It was a sweet and solemn service; and as we knelt to receive the Blessed Sacrament, our souls were full of gratitude to God for the spirit of love which pervaded all hearts, and which would make memorable the fourth Lambeth Conference.

In August we went into Scotland. Upon meeting my beloved friend, the Rev. James Macgregor, whose praise is in all the churches, he exclaimed, with his loving and characteristic hospitality, "You will promise to come and be my guests while you are in Edinburgh, or I will denounce you from every pulpit in Scotland." Of this dear servant of Christ whom I have known and loved for many years the Duke of Argyll said, "The mantle of Guthrie has fallen upon him." Whether in public addresses or private conversation he has a marvellous power of drawing all men to him. A few days before our arrival in Edinburgh a dinner was given in honor of the King of Siam, at which Dr. Macgregor, who was one of the guests, was asked by the king the secret of England's greatness; he replied: "You see here twenty of Scotland's most distinguished men. If you could look deep into the heart of each one you would find there a great love for Jesus Christ. You can keep all the good you can get from Buddha, but when you get the heart of Jesus Christ to put on top of it you will have found the secret of England's greatness." The following letters reveal his loving heart:--

INVERARAY CASTLE, 9th Jan., '91.

My dear Bishop: I heard of your welfare to-day from the Duke of Argyll, who also gave me your address and so enabling me to fulfil a long-cherished intention of writing to you.

First of all I must express my deep sympathy in the great distress which I know must be caused you by this wholesale massacre of your beloved Indians when you, their Bishop, are far away from them. There will, no doubt, as in most quarrels, be faults on both sides; and there is just as little doubt that the Indians will be the sufferers. This war will, I fear, much hasten their final disappearance from the face of the earth.

What I principally have in mind in writing you is to ask you to visit Edinburgh if possible during part of the sitting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to which I have been nominated Moderator.

I should like you before your return to witness the meeting and parting ceremonial and to be present at some of the debates, and specially to be present at the closing address and at the Moderator's dinner, when you might give us a few words. I am in hopes that our common friend the Bishop Designate of Rochester may be able to be present.

The Assembly meets on the 20th of May and closes on Monday, 1st of June. God bless you.

Your aff. friend,


My dear Bishop: I was delighted to get your kind letter this morning written from beautiful Constantinople where I spent some days in 1861, and to hear the joyful news that you are coming to our Assembly. You will get a royal welcome from us all, and your visit will do us a world of good. We want to get closer to one another. When I see the frightful evils around us on every side--the rush of our best toward materialism--it breaks my heart to think that we who are all one in Christian hopes should be so far apart.

As I write I have before me in the address of the present Moderator, my dear friend D. A. H. E. Boyd, the beautiful words you wrote to him about the meeting of the ten American Presbyterian Divines and the ten Bishops and Clergy of your Church. All I can say is--O si sic omnes!

You must give us as much of your time as possible.

God bless you and bring you safe back again. Your aff. friend,


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