DAMRELL AND UPHAM,
The Old Corner Bookstore,
283 WASHINGTON STREET.
THE APOSTOLIC COMMISSION.
"And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." St. Matthew xxviii: 18-20.
IF this Gospel were invented by man, these words would not be found in its record. The holiest man on earth dare not claim all the power which God has in heaven and on the earth. He could not give to men authority to receive other men into the fellowship of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, and promise to them his presence to the end of all the days. The only One who could speak these words was He who said "I am He that liveth and was dead, [5/6] and am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."
This, brethren, is the charter of the Church: this is the authority for her ministry. A few months past, one whose face is printed on even heart, laid down his shepherd's staff. As in the State Rulers die, but their office lives and will live until the State crumbles into dust, so here men die, the office of a Bishop in the Church of God lives and will live until He who gave it conies to receive it, the Judge of the quick and the dead.
1. The ministry is from Christ. "We are ambassadors for Christ," "we are stewards of the mysteries of God." No less authority can receive men into a covenant with God, declare His terms of grace and mercy, and dispense the Sacraments of a kingdom of which Jesus Christ is the King. The office is from God. It must either come immediately by a call from heaven, as in the case of Moses and the prophets, or else it must come mediately through a chosen line of men who have been authorized to commit it to faithful men also. If it be a direct call from God to the individual, He will accompany it with the visible witness of [6/7] His Divine power, or else the flock of Christ will be left to the mercy of every impostor who claims authority from heaven to propagate his delusions and lies.
The Church teaches her children that the minister of Christ receives his authority by a lineage of duly commissioned men. No lapse of ages can weaken it. No time can change it. Such as Christ gave it, such it will be forever. "Lo, I am with you alway, to the end of the world." If it were not so, it would be blasphemy for us to say to our brother, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
2. The message of the ministry of Jesus Christ must be His message. There are no new themes for this ministry. It is a world of wanderers away from home, and heaven, and God. For them the only message from his lips is of the love of God in Jesus Christ the Saviour. Other religions tell the story of men reaching out their hands to God for help. The Gospels tell us that God has reached out His hands to men. "All preach Jesus [7/8] Christ and Him crucified." Without this the Church may be an audience chamber where men rehearse the shifting opinions of parties and of schools, but Church of Christ it is not unless Christ be first, Christ be last, and Christ in everything. Men may change times and laws and government and society; God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The minister of Christ must tell men of the Sacraments which Christ has appointed as channels of His grace to men. It may pass man's comprehension how the grace of God is vouchsafed to a child or penitent in Holy Baptism, or how believing souls do feed on Christ in the Supper of the Lord; we have reached the end of reason when we hear the voice of God. These were not doubtful questions in the Primitive Church. They lived too near the cross to doubt their Saviour's words. There is an economy of second causes in this outer world, we know not why; we learn the law and then obey; so here, we look to Jesus Christ; He is a full and perfect Saviour; we hear His words and arise to go. It is not faith in priestly hands; it is not faith in water, or in bread and wine; it is faith in Jesus Christ, which takes His [8/9] words just as they read, and for all they mean; such faith as little children have, and then are safe in their Father's everlasting arms.
In preaching Christ crucified, in dispensing Holy Sacraments, in seeking wandering sheep, in feeding and guiding the flock, the minister of Jesus Christ must know the character of the men he is to mould, the temper of the times, and the difficulties to be overcome. The ideal man of the pastor's study is not always the actual man of the street. The Clergy must know men as they know books. They must meet them on the platform of a common humanity as children of one Father. They must know their doubts, their heart aches, and their sorrows, and how the mad world is trying to write on the doors of every house, "Eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." They may preach against the world, but they cannot stay its progress for one hour. They must guide it, reform it, win it to Jesus Christ.
3. No branch of Christ's Church has a Held of greater responsibility or more full of hope; a land laden with the bounty of God, its citizens the representatives of every nation on the earth, divers tongues and kindred called here to receive from [9/10] English-speaking people their customs, government, and laws, and under God to become a people more powerful for good or evil than any people on the earth. I reverently believe that this mission has been committed to us because the Church of the Anglo-Saxon carries in her hands an open Bible, and her condition of fellowship is faith in the Incarnate Son of God as set forth in the Catholic Creeds.
4. If I speak of difficulties and dangers, I have no doubt of the issue of the conflict. The presence of Christ in the ship did not prevent the storm, but at its height He quelled it. One great danger is in widespread unbelief; multitudes have given up all faith; to them God is a name, the Bible a tradition, and heaven and hell, fables. Of that coarse infidelity of jeers and scoffs, I will not speak. Their cavils are as old as Celsus and Julian the Apostate. The; god they hold up to ridicule and scorn is not the Christian's God. The faith which they assail is not our faith in a Risen Saviour. There are honest doubters. There are thoughtful men who have given up the Christian faith. They ought to have and they must have the deepest sympathy of every Christian heart.
 A man with ties dearer than his life, all of which will be broken, gathering treasures which will fall out of his hands like flowers out of the hands of a sick child, at the: next turn in life's way going somewhere, and yet saying, "I know of no God who loves me, no Saviour who can help me, every created thing is cared for, but I who think, who love, who suffer, I am the only orphan in the universe of God." "I have no refuge for myself and loved ones but in an answer which would thrust a witness out of every court in Christendom--'I do not know.'" I know no sadder sight to call out the sympathy of Christian hearts.
I fear some of this unbelief is a revolt from a caricature of God, who has been represented as an Almighty Ruler whose right was His infinite might, and not as a Heavenly Father whose might was His infinite right. Perhaps some of this unbelief has come from presenting to men human definitions of doctrine in the place of the simple story of Jesus Christ, and it may be that we Christian folk, in our timid fears, have had too little sympathy with the earnest souls who are reading the revelation of God's wisdom in nature, forgetting that there can be no conflict between science and [11/12] revelation; that when men have passed beyond the region of theory, all truth will be in perfect harmony. There is no sharp line between nature and revelation; for we are everywhere in the presence of God.
Some things are settled. No nation has ever survived the loss of its religion. It may have been full of superstition, but when men have lost all faith in an unseen Ruler, when they admit no standard of right but their own selfish wills, and limit, their horizon by the grave, society has perished. Sin, sorrow, and death are not the inventions of a Priest. The existence of God is a necessity of human thought. If God who has filled this world with His bounty, and who cares for every created thing, can feel pity for man, He must have provided help. The Incarnation is the outcome of the possibility that God can love. The Gospel is the revelation of a person, not of a teacher eighteen hundred years away, whose voice has grown dim through the long, weary centuries, but of a Saviour who is the same yesterday, to-day and forever.
The Gospels are the memoirs of the earthly life of Jesus. As men have written memoirs of our martyred President, each mentioning different [12/13] incidents of his life, so, guided by the blessed Spirit of God, each Evangelist has written his Gospel. There is not a scholar who doubts that the works of Aristotle were written by him, and yet for over two hundred years after his death there was not a manuscript known which bore his name. But when found, his teaching had been so incorporated in other works and handed down by so many teachers, that no one has ever doubted the genuineness and authenticity of the discovered works. Within two hundred years after the death of our Lord there was not a place on earth where the name of Jesus Christ had come, that did not receive these Gospels as the genuine and authentic writings of the Evangelists whose names they bear.
Their glory is that they teach us that if we would know God, we must look into the face of Jesus Christ. "He is the express image of the Father." "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."' The tenderness, the pity, the love of Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, who is Love. When Philip said to our Lord, "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us," Jesus answered, "Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that [13/14] hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" The best news this world has heard is that God is our Father, His Son Jesus Christ our Saviour, the Holy Ghost our Helper.
It is too late to deny Jesus Christ. Show me a place in this world where childhood is protected, where womanhood is reverenced, where old age is honored, where property and life are safe, where it is possible for a decent man to live decently, and I will show you a place hallowed by the religion of Christ. Show me a man like David Livingstone, giving his life for heathen folk. Show me a woman like Florence Nightingale, nursing the sick and comforting the dying in the hospitals of Scutari. Show me a man like Father Damien giving his life for a loathsome leper. Show me anywhere hearts and hands busy binding up the wounds of humanity, and I will show you the hand, the voice, the heart of my Master Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is a message to the heart; when the tie which bound man to God was broken, all other ties snapped asunder; so when through Jesus Christ men came back to their Father, the love which comes down from heaven makes the world [14/15] of kin. You cannot grasp the hand of Jesus and not reach out the other hand to help some one else. "Our Father" means more than gay clothing and goodly houses for rich Christians, and tracts to children crying for bread for poor Christians. The most radical book in the world is the Gospel of the Son of God, which places on kingly lips and the fisherman's tongue one salutation, "Our Father." God who breathed the breath of His own life into the dust of Adam, made of one blood all nations to dwell on the face of the earth: we are brothers of one lost family, and brothers still when begotten anew to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The evils which threaten our social life come from the violations of brotherhood.
The hard problems which confront us: the care and the elevation of the poor, the relations of capital and labor, the Indian problem, the future of the freedmen, will all find their solution in one sentence of our Master, 'Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.' We wonder why these men who have filled our cities with creations of beauty and who are the motive power of the nation, have drifted away from the Church; why they prefer their clubs, and brotherhoods, and orders. They [15/16] will have them and they ought to have them until the Church is made by Christian love their home, the house of their Father. The secret of the power of your late Bishop was not in his gifted utterances; it was in that he had learned from his Master Christ his hopefulness for humanity, and believed with all his mind and soul in the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God. It is not alms which men need; alms to-day makes paupers tomorrow; perverted sympathy will recruit an army of tramping beggars; We want the heart, the mind, the soul of the poor man's brother. We want the brains, the hand, the heart to help, to cheer, to save these poor souls who have lost faith in men and God; to cheer at every step as one step nearer home. The returning prodigal is a repentant son. We must be hopeful and trustful for humanity; we trust those who trust ourselves. St. John says, "We love Him because He first loved us."
The first lesson of the Gospel is that "No man liveth unto himself." Our time, our talents, our means, are trusts from God for others. I cannot tell you what to say or what to do. The Lord's secret is that if we give Him the will, He will find for us the way. There is one thing which [16/17] neither man nor devil can resist, and that is, love; the love which knows no weariness; which like the good shepherd seeks the lost sheep until he finds it. You may tell me they will not hear,--they will hear when the message conies with the love of Christ burning at the heart, whether the story is told by a Bishop of the Church of God or a Salvation lassie.
A great hindrance to Christian work is the divisions of the kinsmen of Christ. It will heal no divisions to say who is at fault. The sin of schism does not lie at any one door. If one has sinned by self will, the other has sinned as deeply by the lack of charity and love. There are unkind words to be taken back, alienations to be healed, and heart burnings to be forgiven. No one branch of the Church is by itself the Catholic Church. All branches need reunion in order to the completeness of the Church. No one thing has driven so many thoughtful men away from the Church as Christian strife. When the world shall say again, "See how these Christians love one another," they could not stay away.
There are blessed signs that God is quickening His children's hearts to seek for unity. Christians [17/18] of widely separated folds begin to realize the waste of division; old prejudices and hatreds are dying out; Christians long separated are drawing nearer to each other. Loving hands are reached out to help decayed Churches, and revive their primitive zeal. The Roman Catholic Church, our twin sister in Apostolic times, is bringing her policy into harmony with the progress of the age. Rival religious bodies are learning that men find salvation not in their definitions of doctrine, but in faith in a personal Saviour.
As baptized into Christ we are brothers. The truths which have been held always, everywhere, and by all, are plainly set forth in the Catholic Creeds. The doctrines which separate us, and which are hedges in the Lord's garden, are human definitions, which it is not necessary to believe in order to be saved. The Holy Spirit has passed over these human barriers and set His seal to the labors of separated brethren in Christ, and rewarded them in the salvation of many precious souls. They share with us in the long line of confessors and martyrs for Christ. They are our brothers. There will not be one of that company who have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb [18/19] who is not our own kinsman. At a time when every form of unbelief, ancient heathenism, and apostles of the false prophet seek to beguile unstable souls, we must pray as we have never prayed before, that all who love Christ may be one in the fellowship of a common faith.
I believe that God in His Providence has designed that our branch of the Church shall hold up the olive branch of His peace over this strife and say, "Sirs, ye are brethren." She brings the witness of a historical Church to Divine Revelation and the Primitive Creeds. She perplexes no man by theories. She believes in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, and in the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, but she does not weaken faith by speculations about the Trinity in Unity. She teaches that Holy Scripture was written by inspiration of God, but she has no theory of inspiration. She holds up the atonement of Jesus Christ as the hope of a lost world, but she has no philosophy about the atonement. She teaches that it is by the Holy Ghost that men are united unto Christ, and that He keeps up the life current between disciples on earth and their ascended Lord [19/20] in Heaven. She ministers the Sacraments as Christ has appointed them, but does not explain how Christ is present to penitent and believing souls in the Supper of the Lord. She does not explain what God has not explained, but calls His children to His guest chamber, and celebrates Divine mysteries as they were celebrated before there was any East and West in the Church of God.
Brothers of every Christian name, who can tell what we may do to heal the wounds of His Body? It will not be done by plans and devices of the head, but by the love of sanctified hearts. We can work and we can wait; we can rejoice whenever and wherever a lost soul is led out of the tangled wilderness of sin into the light, and life, and peace of a Father's love; we can recognize that all good deeds are done by the help of the; Spirit of God, and while we hold up the precious truths for which His Church is the trustee, we may and must love all whom He loves. We are living in the great missionary age of the Church. There is not a land on earth where we may not carry the Gospel of Christ. It is eventide; let us join hearts and hands together to win the world to Christ. There [20/21] can be no failure; the only failure; is failure to do God's work.
Brethren of the Laity: This Commonwealth is not a missionary field where a man can go out alone, and cast his burdened heart on God, and work and die a martyr's death. You who have called our brother to give up home and ease for the awful burdens of a Bishop's life, to toil and it may be die before his time, must give him your love unclouded by a doubt. You are his fellow laborers. Our Lord has laid no burdens on us which do not rest on you. Where in this blessed Book has He said that we must sacrifice and work for Him, and you may hoard and keep? "He that loveth God will love his brother also." The Bishop is the most pitiably helpless of men unless Clergy and Laity give him the love of loyal hearts.
Brother Beloved: What can I say to you to-day? Forget these Bishops. Forget this gathered congregation. Think of yourself as kneeling to receive from the pierced hands of the Saviour the office of a Shepherd of His flock which He has purchased with His blood. For long years I have known and loved you. I have often been your almoner for God. In that far West there are those whom [21/22] your gifts have sent out to preach Jesus Christ. Yes! in that Northern forest there are poor Red men whom your alms have helped heavenward and home. In your life as a parish priest, as the guide and teacher of those seeking the ministry, and in your personal relations to this Commonwealth, God has been preparing you for this work. To you the Saviour says to-day, "You have not chosen Me. I have chosen you and ordained you, that you shall go and bear fruit." You will be happier than I dare to hope if there do not come to you times, as there have to me, when you would exchange your Episcopate for the humblest parish in the land. He who sends you will go with you, and He can make your Bishop's life the happiest life God ever gave to man.
As I look back over thirty-four years of my Bishop's life, my only comfort is that He who called me taught me how to work and wait and know that He would give the harvest. He has overpaid me an hundred fold in the privilege of telling of His love to other weary souls, and in knowing that "he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Whether [22/23] your Episcopate is shorter or longer, we believe that, sustained and cheered by the love of loyal people, and with God's blessing, you will heal many alienated hearts, comfort many weary souls, and help many wandering ones home. "They that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever."