There is a touching and soul-subduing beauty in the Institution Office, which goes directly to the heart, and fills it with an overwhelming sense of responsibility and awe. Our duty who serve at the Holy Altar, and your duty over whom we are placed in solemn charge, are brought before us for review. And it becomes us to consider the subject in its double aspect. It is a fearful topic of discussion. It opens up responsibilities and duties which no man of the clergy or laity can contemplate, without great shudderings of heart and some silent rebukes of conscience, which are heard, though voiceless, in all the secret chambers of the soul.
The first coming of our Lord was announced by John the Baptist. He preached of the Baptism for repentance. He preached fearlessly, without respect of persons, as pointedly to the monarch on the throne, as to the meanest subject of the kingdom; and in all this work and labor of love, he never shunned self-sacrifice, and never for a moment abated his zeal or relaxed his energy. He traversed mountains and valleys; and as he went, coarsely clothed and meanly fed, he cried: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." From that day to this he has been a type of the courage and devotion to duty which ought to characterize those who are called to the higher ministry, and commissioned to prepare the way for the more tearful second coming of the Lord to judge the world, He died to save. This text comes in beautifully to illustrate the subject we propose to discuss. But little is known of Archippus, save that he was a fellow-helper [3/4] of St. Paul, and stood by him in the terrible fight of faith, as he bore proudly on the blood-stained banner in the face of the foe, and waved it triumphantly wherever he bore it. Epaphras, the pastor of the Colossians, was absent. St. Paul gave a public charge to Archippus, which was the more needful in the absence of the regular shepherd; and at the same time he reminded the Colossians, that they were to obey him as their pastor in the Lord. This charge is as pertinent to all the pastors of the church of Christ, in all ages, and to all the flocks over which they are called to watch, as those who must give account.
The first thing, worthy of note in tin's impressive charge, is the fact, revealed, that the ministry of the word and sacraments is from the Lord. He alone can call and commission to this holy work. He called the first preachers of the word, and commissioned them to act for Him in the things pertaining to the kingdom. He empowered them to call and commission others. "As the Father sent me, so send I you." I came to build a church, and I built it, on a foundation, that could never be overturned. I came to inaugurate a Priesthood, which was to endure through all time. As all power was given to me in heaven and earth, to send men out to baptize in my name, and feed the sheep and lambs of the one fold; so I, in virtue of this power, and the authority that is inherent in me, send others out, promising to be with them to the end of the world---with them in their office of the sending out of others in a regular line of succession, and of authoritative rule, to the end.
This is the only mode in which the ministry, which Christ first established, can be perpetuated; unless the seal of miracles were continued through all time, which is obviously not the case. So important, aye, essential to the existence of the ministry of Christ is this perpetuation of it by regular descent, that St. Paul tells us expressly in his own case, which was a [4/5] departure from the established order, that he neither received it from men, nor by men, but by direct commission from God, which was confirmed in his case by miracle.
Beloved, this is not a mere speculative opinion as some would fain consider it. Oh! no, it is a deep, vital, practical point of the highest consequence. The ministry of the Word, the stewardship of the mysteries of God, is in the Lord, and of the Lord; or it is not. It is either a divine or a human institution. Christ, in establishing a kingdom, in building a church, either set over it a body of men to rule in it, and dispense in it the mysteries of God, to baptize and consecrate the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ; or He left men power to exercise this gift of rule and Divine stewardship at their own option, without call or commission. How is it possible for us to read those wonderful words used in the first commission, and the terms of the grant of power therein conferred, "All power is given to me in heaven and earth, go out into all the world, lo, I am with you always to the end," and resist the conclusion, that He did it in virtue of the supremacy of power that was inherent in Him, and that this power was meant to be transmitted to all after times; so that the Priesthood once established should never fail? Christ built the church. He expressly said, He did. I build my church, not my church, but mou thn ekklhsian the church of Me, the Word Incarnate. Who else could build it? Who would be satisfied with a church that Christ did not build? The church deals with the things of God. Who but God could make it the vehicle of the graces, which it is His alone to dispense? Christ established a ministry. Who but Christ could do it? If the first apostles could not have traced their origin to Him as their author--if they had not received their commission in. those first words of authority, "all power is given to me, as the Father sent me, so send I you," would their ministry have been accepted? Without the seal and proof of miracle, could [5/6] it have been established? Would gifts of speech, eloquence, rhetoric, logic, holiness of life and heart, have sufficed to sustain their claim to a true apostleship? Beloved, the case is as clear as the sun at noon. The ministry of the Word is from God, or it is not. It is human or divine. There is no middle ground to occupy.
Christ sent out the first chosen twelve, with power to send others; and He pledged them His abiding presence with them in the act of doing as He did. Each link in the chain of transmission being complete, the ministry that now is, and that now and here serves the Holy Altar, in the Apostolate, traces up its power to Christ, and so is divine. God's promise was, His pledged presence to that succession, and His further pledge, that it should not fail. St. Paul is a witness not only in those magnificent Epistles to Timothy and Titus, but in the declaration he made, that in his own apostolate, he established the validity of his claim to a direct communication of it by God Himself, by the miracles he wrought. And, in the text he reminds Archippus, that his ministry was received in the Lord. A succession, in the absence of the seal of miracles, is essential then to a ministry that claims to be divine. The first ministers did not enter on their work, until Christ called and commissioned them. They gave miraculous proof of their call. They felt that they were empowered to send others, and they did it. They in their turn sent others. So history attests. Episcopally governed and perpetuated, the church has been to the present hour. Without such a succession, the church would this day be reduced to the anomalous condition of claiming to be a creation of God, that had lost the divinity of its origin. The gift of miracles is withdrawn, and those who reject a succession or cast it aside for inventions of their own, have nothing to depend upon, but eloquence, learning, zeal and holiness, which are and can be no warrantee for the exercise of Priestly functions, do not, and cannot convey Priestly authority.
 We cleave to the ancient regime. Men sometimes charge us with presumption in asking to be received as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God; whereas, we should consider ourselves guilty of the most monstrous presumption, if we dared to exercise the office without claiming it and resting our claim on the ground of a regular succession. This charge of presumption comes with exceeding ill-grace from those, who have revolutionized the system established by Christ, and the Apostles at the command of Christ, and deliberately set aside what was universally received at the .Reformation, as an indisputable fact. Let this suffice for the first branch of our subject.
"Take heed to the ministry, that thou fulfil it." Beloved, every step we take in this discussion echoes with the soundings of the last trumpet. To fulfil is to execute thoroughly. And when we remember, what there is of duty and of privilege involved in this ministry; what its functions are; how delicate and how difficult; how much of wisdom it requires, and how much of meek patience, our souls do sink within us, and we oftentimes weep bitterly. It is a fearful charge. It-touches us and you. It sweeps the chords of your hearts and ours. Our duties give birth to your responsibilities. To preach the everlasting Gospel, to preach it in its fulness and integrity, so that each one shall receive his portion of meat in due season--to hold back nothing through fear or prejudice-to advance nothing as Gospel truth, which is not clearly taught therein, or may not be proved thereby--to mingle in the message gentleness with authority--to exercise firmness without weakness, fidelity without arrogance, humility without meanness--this indeed is a terrible responsibility. Dissection of the spiritual man is our proper work, a delicate surgery, that requires steadiness of nerve and truest sympathy. It is very easy to sit down and coldly criticize the sermons preached, the mode, or the matter. But when men remember that we [7/8] preach as those who know and feel, that they must give account--when they remember that we, for the most part, weave out of our own hearts, in self-humiliation before God, the very counsellings and warnings we give them, and that each word is not unfrequently written in the tears shed; they will rather pray for us, that utterance may be given us, than seek to whet the edge of their keen and cutting criticism and biting sarcasm at our expense. Preach we must. Proclaim the message of salvation, whether men hear us or not, we must.
When from preaching, we turn to the true pastoral work of our office, the feeding the souls of our people, the seeking to recover those who have wandered off, or are in danger of wandering, the holding converse with individual consciences, and enlightening them out of the oracles of God, the soothing beds of sickness, and pouring the oil and the wine into the hearts of the sad and sorrowing, we have no less cause for deep gearchings of heart, and painful disquietude. The drooping we must encourage; the timid embolden; the presumptuous check; the tempted succor, as God may give us grace and strength. But oh! Beloved, do you not see, that these duties which weigh us down, reach over to you, and involve responsibilities, which you must share with us? You must send for us in sickness, make known to us your doubts and fears and disquietudes of conscience, put us in possession of the crosses you bear. You must sit at our feet and learn the will of God; yield us the sympathy we need, and esteem us highly for our work's sake. Oh! how frequently sickness comes, and the Priest of God knows nothing of it; and thus the golden opportunity of dropping the good seed of the kingdom into the heart made soft by the ploughshare of affliction is lost! How frequently are our messages of love permitted to fall on listless ears and hearts!
Beloved, this pastorship in the Church of God is enough to bow the strongest of us all in the dust, when we think of the [8/9] times in which we live. For ah! it must not be disguised--it must not be kept in the back ground--the reciprocity, that ought ever to exist between us of the Priesthood, and you of the Laity, is not realized or felt. Nearly all the work of watching for souls is devolved on us. Few there are to help us in the work of watching. When one hundred families, or far more, as in a parish like this, are committed to our care, and those scattered over an immense area, where one sick visit will cost us one hour at least--when the services the minister of Christ multiplies to bring him into closer heart-converse with his people, the calls to prayer, the lectures, with all the other machinery which it is necessary he should contrive and set in motion; do you wonder, as we sigh in vain for sympathy, and look in vain for outstretched hands to sustain us in our labors, and warm hearts to bid us God speed, that we are left to the weeping of the Prophet, or that our lips falter, in the utterance of words that burn?
AVrhen we review the baptized childhood of the Church, and recall to mind the solemn vows of sponsors, who not only promise that they will keep a close watch over the seed of grace that is dropped into the soul new-born, and sec to it, that by the helping grace of God, it shall yield its fruit unto holiness, but further promise, that they will bring, in the arms of a loving faith, this baptized childhood, now grown to years of accountability, to the Bishop to be confirmed, and find that but few are faithful to their vow; do we not well to mourn, that so few come to the help of the Lord in an earnest and devout coöperation with His chosen ambassadors? In all that touches the sound Christian education of our youth, (the gravest subject that can exercise the mind or heart of the Church,) we must take the lead; but how often is it the case, that we are left alone in our work, and find our energies paralyzed by the withholding from us of the popular will and the popular sympathy? If it is our duty to multiply prayers, [9/10] and guide the charities of the people, to shape and mould those instrumentalities which are most powerful for good; is it not your duty to use properly this our ministry of love, and come over to our help? When, in the Institution Office, -which is the most touching recognition, by the Church, of the tender relationship a Pastor bears to his people, that eloquent and striking symbolism is employed, the handing over of the keys to the Incumbent; has it no other significancy, than the promise of the incumbent to act the part of a faithful Shepherd over you? Is it silent, so far as your recognition of the shepherd's voice, and obedience to it is concerned? "We are set as watchmen on the Avails of Zion. ' If the wicked die in his iniquity whom we warn not, his blood will the Lord require at our hands. Just think of it. A robe stained with the blood of the lost for whom Christ died! That robe ours! May God have mercy on us. May He redouble our zeal, multiply our labors, fill our hearts with holy unction, and open up before us an easier and a more thorough access to the hearts we have to guide! We must take heed to the ministry we have received--but surely you should not withhold from us your time, your prayers, your tears, your active cooperation, as far as the opportunity is afforded you. We are ever exerting a powerful, moral, reflex influence on each other. A prayerless people make a feeble ministry. Nothing so unnerves the soul as a nerveless apathy. Folded hands and listless hearts take the spring out of the will that is ready to spend and be spent for the good of others. Souls are perishing. Every day some loved one disappears from our side, and our hearthstone is written desolate. The tramp of footsteps is ever downward to the grave. Shall they perish? Answer it to God and your own conscience! Blood may be on your skirts as well as ours. Sermons criticised may fall powerlessly on human ears, which, if only watered by your tears, and consecrated by your prayers, would have been [10/11] mighty to save. The trumpet will soon sound the cry to judgment; and now that we are here to prepare the way for the second Advent, (you of the laity and we of the clergy,) shall we hinder the great work? We, by our want of fidelity, love of ease, lack of energy, and want of sympathy--you, by your tearless indifference, prayerlessness, and selfish apathy. God help us to take heed, that we fulfil, each of us, his mission, that we may be the savor of life unto life, and not of death unto death.
A word more, before I close. This is an occasion of far more than ordinary interest. The Institution of a Priest of God is at all times, and under all circumstances, a subject for devout thanksgiving on the one hand, and deep searehings of heart on the other. It is a solemn compact between the Church on the one hand, acting through her accredited authorities, and the people and the Pastor, on the other. It seals the obligations resting on each, and throws over them the halo of sanctified principles and affections. Any cure, into which a Priest of God could be instituted, is fraught with solemnity; for no matter how contracted the sphere or humble the position it occupies, it touches eternity. Every wave of influence, that goes out from it, goes on widening the circle of its influence, as wave after wave rolls upon the shore, that is ever receding as the wave gets nearer to it. But institution into a parish so large, so wide in its influence, so venerable, and so long identified with all that has made Maryland and the Church in Maryland dear to her sons, means vastly more.
St. Paul's is literally the heart of the Church-work in Baltimore. It possesses a capacity for work that is entirely its own. It stands foremost among the other churches in this portion of the one Diocese, fills a larger area, is the Parish; and from its position it is called to exert a mightier influence. Foremost in those elements of power for good, it is incumbent on it to march boldly up to the front, in the great aggressive [11/12] war, which it becomes us to wage against the powers of darkness, and take the lead. To shrink from this responsibility would be to betray its trust. To fail to meet the demands made upon it by the suffering, bleeding humanity, that is crowded into the heart of this great city, would be not only to fail to meet its full measure of duty, but to paralyze the energies of its sister churches in that sublimest work, which claims our thoughts and the tenderest emotions of our hearts, church-extension, and church-growth, outside of the contracted parish bounds. St. Paul's is alive to the magnitude of the crisis, its opportunity and capacity for work. It is now ready, with firm step, to move right onward, and occupy and possess the land, in a sweet fraternization with its sister churches.
I congratulate my young Brother on the field of labor which has been assigned to him, which is so rich in promise, and so full of hopefulness. I rejoice, that it has been my privilege to share in this Institution service, which seals the bond that binds him to his new charge. I congratulate the Parish of St. Paul's on the choice of a Priest of God, and his exercise of headship over them, who comes to them so warmly endorsed, and so thoroughly trusted, by those who were his late co-laborers ill another part of the Master's vineyard. With youthful energies; in the warmth of u zeal, that has already yielded fruit, fragrant to the taste, and beautiful to the eye; in the spirit of love, and gentleness, and truth, he comes among you, I doubt not, to do for you what his office exacts, and to help you to do what your duty requires. In the largeness of a soul, that spurns the narrowness of a substitution of congregational effort for catholic unity and harmony, I doubt not, he comes to lift up the standard of the Lord of Hosts, and plant it wherever it can best be unfurled.
Bright memories hover over this scene and hour; bright though sad, I find myself carried back to the days, when, with just his number of years or less, I stood here on my [12/13] native soil, under the shadow of the old St. Paul's, in full view of the venerable and venerated Wyatt, clarum et venerabile nomen, under the spell of his soft, deep-toned, eloquent voice, and the sway of his calm, broad, clear, penetrating, philosophic mind, in which there was never a faculty out of its proper orbit. So wise a man I have never met. A purer man I never saw. A man of greater dignity and nerve never walked the earth. A more thoroughly Christian gentleman never served the altar. Firm in his devotion to the Church, he was thoroughly imbued with the spirit of its best and soundest theology--the theology which has, to use the language of an able divine of modern times, given to us our English Bible, the most solid expositions of the creed in Pearson and Jackson, the most solid defence of the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity in Bull, the handiest evidential compendium in Leslie, the most solid defence of our position against the ancient and a fortiori the modern claims of Rome, in the tough and vigorous sense of Bramhall, and Laud's conference with Fisher--a theology, in a word, which has gathered into its firmament such stars as Jones of Nayland, Beveridge, Andrews, Donne, Hooker, and Jewel, the two last the brightest in the cluster.
Free from all the witchery of private fancies, and never led away from the old beaten paths, on which the dew of centuries rested; our revered and lamented father in God walked before his fellow men, sublime in his consistency. He was too honest to compromise principle, and too independent to truckle to power. He was the impersonation of a wise conservatism; and he left a legacy to his younger brethren, most of whom have grown gray in the service of the Church, for which they can never be too profoundly grateful. The beauty of his mind, the more than granite firmness of his principles, the marvellous soundness of his judgment, the polish and refinement of his nature are woven in threads of gold into the texture of the recorded doings of the councils of the church, of [13/14] which he was the pride and boast. You will pardon me if I have been betrayed into an undue indulgence of the reminiscences of the past. The heart warms, and the tongue pants for utterance, when the present recalls the past--a past so truly glorious. Immediately succeeding him was the late Rector of St. Paul's, Dr. Mahan, a man of great learning and vigorous intellect, whose zeal was intense, and whose ability was equal to any duty he assumed. He died in the full vigor of his years, lamented by the Church through all its borders; and his memory will be long kept fresh and green in the hearts of his brethren.
My young Brother, you are now called to walk in the footprints of these two illustrious men, your immediate predecessors. My prayer to God for you is, that you may have grace to combine the prominent traits of each, in one magnificent whole, and so live and labor as to leave behind you, a memory as sweet and tender as theirs. May St. Paul's hold her old position of influence and dignity! Advancing ever on the principles she has already endeared to the hearts of those of us, who saw her in her first glory, may she go forward to new conquests, and give to the city of her early love an impetus in church-work and church extension, which has had no parallel in the past! St. Paul's! the home of Donalson, the Corinthian pillar, who gave so much of beauty and of grace to the church of which he was the pride and boast, the very soul of refinement, the truest type of a Christian gentleman. St. Paul's! the home of Evans, the first layman of his land--so loved and so worthy of being loved--so learned and yet so meek--so unobtrusively charitable--so full of faith, and yet so wont to live the life that was hid with Christ in God--whose words of wisdom still linger on our cars, and whose eloquence echoes still on the air, for he was eloquent, eloquent in the power of a truthful logic. St. Paul's! rich in other name:», that are no less dear, may she ever prove faithful to [14/15] her mission! Many eyes are now turned to her--many hopes are concentered on her. Many hearts wait to catch the sweet contagion of her brightest aspirations! My prayer to God is, that under wise counsels, and the blending of heart with heart, in a steady devotion to the faith of our fathers, this noble church may give back to the Diocese, in all its borders, the true light, that has ever beamed from her holy altar. Baltimore is the heart of the Diocese. St. Paul's is the centre of that heart. May the heart be faithful to fulfil its allotted functions, and the centre of the heart be as true to its--so that the whole Diocese, in all its members, may feel the life-blood as it flows, and return it back, in a sound and healthy condition, rcinvigoratcd and renewed.
Thus banded together in love, and strong in the sweet fellowship of the Saints, we shall be a power on the earth. This Diocese, around which cluster the sweetest memories of the past, strong in her conservatism, will be one of the golden links, that shall keep the ark moored to the eternal Rock. The work in Baltimore calls for banded effort--one mind, one will, one heart. The suffering poor are our common charge. The humanity, that is here gathered together in the Providence of God, is the representative of Christ, our loving Lord, which we must seek to christianize, and educate, and train for Him--educate in the faith, that was once for all delivered to the saints, and train in the peaceful ways and sublime hopes of the Zion He established on the tops of the mountains. If hand join with hand, and heart blend with heart--if in a spirit that sacrifices all minor considerations to the love of truth--truth in its simplicity and integrity--we march boldly up to the work that is before us; the ark of the Lord of Hosts will move onward, and an impulse be given to all our charities, which will gladden all our hearts. For such a consummation I devoutly pray. May the great Head of the church, the Chief Shepherd, help us to accomplish His prayer, [15/16] that we may be one, as the Father and the Son are one, that the world may sec that the Father hath sent the Son to save the world, by the cross on which He died. Beloved, this unity, holy oneness is only to be secured by the spirit of prayer and concerted effort. Exercise developes, increases, intensifies it. Working together, and acting together, in the great mission-work that is apportioned to us as the one body, animated by the one Spirit, and looking to the one end; we shall grow into the oneness, that is stamped so indelibly on the one body, and exhibit to the world, the power of the new life which is infused from above. I charge you, I implore you, I beseech you, live as brethren, work together as brethren, with one heart and mind.
What forbids this union of heart and will? The selfishness of congregational pride, the suggestions of partisan prejudices! Beloved, shall these things be allowed to stand in the way of the full accomplishment of the Church's mission--a mission that overleaps parish or congregational boundaries, and calls for the union of parishes and congregations, in a bold spirit of adventure, and a fearless onslaught on the kingdom of sin and satan, in which love is the predominent element and self-abnegation the crowning motive power? Once more, I beseech and implore you to live as brethren, and labor together as one brotherhood. Plant the Church of our fathers in every destitute nook and corner of this great city. Open the doors of asylums, made beautiful for the stricken sons and daughters of sorrow. Provide schools of the Church for the young, who are growing up in ignorance and vice in our midst. Do this, and the wilderness will blossom as the rose. In the shade of these fig trees of mercy, planted by our hand and watered by our tears, we may pass the time of our sojourning here in fear and trembling, and look up into our Father's face and smile. So strive together, and may the God of peace be with you all. Amen.