Project Canterbury



Twenty Years of a Massachusetts Rectorship










II Cor. iv: 5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

TWENTY years ago, as I was casting about for the right text from which to preach my first sermon as Rector of All Saints' Parish, these words came into my mind, and I fastened on them with eagerness. They appeared to mirror perfectly the essential features of the ministry that ought to be. Clearness of purpose, definiteness of belief, humility unfeigned, and honest warmth of heart,—all these were in them, and after what more properly than after these, I asked myself, could a shepherd of souls, just entering upon the solemn duties of his charge,

And so I took the words and brought them to you, and tried to open their meaning as best I might. I have the sermon still, and read it over to myself, the other day, hardly knowing, as I did so, whether the more to be glad or sorry at finding by how very little my estimate of St. Paul's intention in saying what he did had changed in all these years.

[4] But it would be a mistake to infer from this remark that I have come back to my first text, in the boastful temper of a man whose pride at having kept an old-time promise moves him to remind people of the precise terms in which he originally made it. How wretchedly the real pastorate, covered by these twenty years, has come short of the ideal picture then outlined in advance, how lamely the performance has all along lagged behind the desire, no one of you can possibly feel more keenly than your minister.

No, I return to the old text not in any self-congratulatory mood, God knows, but partly because the words of it call up more vividly than any others could, certain memories of which we have need to-day, and partly because I look to find the definition therein given of the functions of the Christian ministry, as useful for the purposes of retrospect, as I found it helpful by way of prospect twenty years ago.

Broadly classified, the duties of an ordained minister fall under the two heads of instruction and administration, or in other words, preaching and service, this latter branch again sub-dividing into the priestly care for the worship, and the pastoral care of the flock.

Precisely the same line of demarcation runs through the text. "We preach not ourselves," Paul [4/5] affirms, “but Christ Jesus the Lord," there is one of the two branches of the teacher's duty; "and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake," there is the other, the service, the administration. For a minister to set forth honestly and without reserve the principles that have guided him in both of these departments of his activity is to tell the real story of his life and work.

We will return to this point presently, but for the moment have patience with a few of those local and personal reminiscences in which a man may allow himself, on an anniversary like this, without coming under the suspicion of egotism.

The third day of December, 1862, fell on a Wednesday. It was a bleak, forbidding winter's day, not actually stormy, but charged with a bitter and penetrating chill. Nevertheless, hearts were warm, and faces cheerful, and the inner atmosphere of the little church on Pearl street was as inspiriting as the outer air was harsh.

That my ordination to the priesthood coincided with my entrance upon the rectorship of this parish was in a sense accidental. Ordination, as the Episcopal Church understands it, is not settlement over a particular congregation, but admission to the ministry itself, a taking of Holy Orders. It was at the special request of the Wardens and the Vestrymen of All Saints' that the then Bishop of the Diocese [5/6] appointed the ordination in Worcester rather than in Boston, where his ordinations were usually held. Both to them for making and to him for granting the petition, I have always felt personally grateful. Among the ties that have bound you and me together as pastor and people, not the least effective has been, on my part, the memory that here in your presence were said the searching and weighty vows of priesthood.

It was a sort of settlement which, from the nature of the case, could not be repeated in any other parish, for nowhere else could I be asked again the question answered then and there: "Will you maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace and love among all Christian people, and especially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?"

In view of the cordiality and good-will with which I was welcomed by the people who had chosen me for their minister, this might well have seemed of all the eight promises of ordination the one most easy to be kept.

But whether or not it seemed such in advance, such in point of fact it has turned out to be. So far as our personal relations are concerned, quietness, peace and love have abounded from the first. Too much quietness, some might say, since it is not perfectly clear that the proverb, “Blessed is the land [6/7] that has no history," applies with the same force to parishes as to nations. A certain measure of friction and of conflict are essential, perhaps, to the bringing out of all that is good in an organization. It ought never to be forgotten that quietness is as frequently the symptom of death or of trance, as of peace. The stagnant pool can boast of itself as still.

But I am mentioning a danger, not casting a reproach. As I look back at the men and women who, on that day, stood for All Saints' Church, “inactive" is one of the very last epithets that occur to me. I dare not trust myself to mention names. The roll-call would show too many gaps. But were I to do what, as I say, I cannot and therefore shall not attempt, it would be plain to all of you that the greater part, not the whole, but by far the greater part of what has been accomplished in this parish during the present rectorship, in the line of successful progress, has been the work of men and women who were not only members of the parish, but mature and experienced members of it, twenty years ago.

This has been publicly acknowledged before now, but I have so often been made to feel ashamed by hearing non-resident observers attribute to my work in Worcester a credit which does not properly belong to it, that I am more than glad to make again [7/8] an acknowledgment which simple justice and the facts of the case demand.

The real foundations of this house of God in which we are assembled, were laid long before All Saints' Parish knew anything of me or I of it.

If God of his goodness has permitted me to do any efficient service here in the direction of moulding the characters and fixing the purposes of others, the evidences of it must be looked for in the lives and deeds of those who are just coming to the front, whose childhood and youth the twenty years have covered.

And yet, after all, why need we be so very critical in this matter of the distribution of credit, [8/9] seeing that there is really so little to justify self-satisfaction on the part of either minister or people. That the parish has made progress during these twenty years past it would be an affectation of humility both on your part and on mine to deny, but the matter takes on a different aspect when we consider what has meanwhile been going on in the city at large. Whether in these years All Saints' Parish has doubled its constituency is a point open to question, but that the population of Worcester during the same period has almost trebled is beyond question.

In the whole English-speaking world there is probably not a single city of the size of ours in which the Episcopal Church is numerically so weak as here. This may sound like an extravagant statement, and yet unless I am much mistaken the census will bear me out in making it.

But it is no part of my purpose to dwell upon the statistics, whether favorable or unfavorable, encouraging or the reverse. In various ways, from time to time, the figures that tell, or try to tell as figures may, the story of our parochial life, have been put before you in print. Merely to sum up and state the aggregate of the many annual reports of baptisms and confirmations, weddings and funerals, what need of this?

To sensitive hearts that remember some one bridal [9/10] or some one burial with a distinctness that throws all others into shadow, the very suggestion has in it a certain roughness and coarseness that are repulsive. They would rather not hear of such things in the large, nor do they relish having the commercial methods of reckoning too closely followed in matters that touch the soul.

Neither shall I tell again the story of the outward fabric of the parish church, how many times before its final disappearance from the region of things seen, the old building was beautified and amplified, how long the new All Saints' seemed to be in rising, how glad we were to enter into its gates when at last it stood open to our tread, how easily we find ourselves growing to love it almost as well as we loved the humbler, but no less worthily consecrated, house of God of which it is the successor and the reminder. This vista draws us far more invitingly [10/11] than the bare statistics were able to do, but even from this I turn away, having that to speak of which connects itself with interests of a more permanent importance. As I said a moment ago, my wish is to talk with you frankly about the motives and the principles that have guided me in the two departments of teaching and administration during these twenty years of rectorship.

[The old All Saints' Church, on Pearl street, was built in 1846, Mr. Richard Upjohn of New York being the architect. Though only a small, cheap structure, of wood, the building, while it retained its original proportions, was a beautiful specimen of rural church architecture. The little church remained as it was built until 1860, when an alteration was made by which the broad aisle was given up, and the pews were rearranged for the purpose of securing additional sittings. The spire, which was never raised to its full height, had, by this time, become unsteady and was taken down, leaving, however, a sightly tower. * * * * * * * * * The old church, after having been four times re-constructed, during the twenty-eight years of its existence, was, on the night of Easter Tuesday, April 7, 1874, destroyed by fire. The origin of the fire has never been satisfactorily explained. The church itself, although not literally burnt to the ground, was so far ruined as to forbid the thought of repairs. Much, however, that had been precious to the worshippers on account of old associations was saved. The pulpit, originally built for Emmanuel Church, Boston, and presented by the authorities of that parish to All Saints' in 1871, escaped destruction; so did the font, the bishop's chair, the reading-desk, the Bible, and the chancel tablets. Most of these "relics" soon found a temporary resting place in the chapel, which having been only slightly injured by the fire was easily transformed into a miniature church, and as such did excellent service in connection with Horticultural Hall, during the interval period. * * * * Very soon after the fire several parish meetings were held, and on the 15th of May a committee was formed and empowered to build a new church and chapel. * * * * * * Ground was broken December 29, 1874, and the work of excavation continued through the winter with but little interruption. In the spring, the remaining buildings were cleared away, and on May 13, 1875, the first stone was put in place at the southwest corner of the lot, for the foundation of the chapel. The corner-stone was laid at sunset on the twenty-first day of July, with appropriate services by the Rt. Rev. Frederic D. Huntington, S. T. D., Bishop of Central New York. On Thursday, Jan. 4, 1877, the Bishop of the Diocese, the Rt. Rev. B. H. Paddock, D. D., consecrated the finished building.—Abridged from the HISTORICAL SKETCH prefixed to the Collection of Heliotype Views of the New All Saints'.]

It is not often that one has the opportunity to speak in this face-to-face way about the interior aspects of a ministry, and naturally I desire to make as much of it as time will allow. Another such confidential hour may never come to you and me.

[12] First, then, as to the teaching. I started out purposing to preach to you Christ Jesus the Lord. Upon what lines and after what methods has that purpose been prosecuted?

In general, I may say it has been done with these convictions behind me, namely: that the person and work of Jesus Christ furnish the key to human history; that He alone has in his keeping the answers to the importunate questions of the soul, and that apart from Him our whole life here on earth is a tangled web of contradictions, uncertainties, illusions.

Perfectly willing to be adjudged in this respect not "abreast of the times," I have cheerfully cast in my lot with those who hold that what is needed to-day is the re-reading rather than the re-writing of the Creed; that it is not a new Christ we want, but a better, larger and more intimate knowledge of the old Christ; that instead of dwarfing the Son of Mary into insignificance, modern discovery has really exalted Him as the Eternal Wisdom into a greatness scarcely imagined hitherto, and that so far from becoming the less a Christian on account of all this new light that has been flashed upon us from sun and star, the modern man is, by every instinct of gratitude, every dictate of sound inference, drawn anew to Him who, that He might teach us to be wise indeed, humbled Himself to be born of a Virgin.

[13] But this cosmic Gospel, as it may be called, is not of itself sufficient, to satisfy hungry-hearted men. Discourse upon God's relations to his universe at large, or even to the human race as a whole, however awe-inspiring it may be, does not, can not meet fully the demand of a soul eager to cry, "O God, thou art my God."

Alive to this personal need, its reality, its urgency, I have sought to preach Jesus Christ as able in his twofold character of Son of God and Son of Man, to instruct, to sympathize with, to absolve every soul that comes to Him seeking instruction, sympathy, absolution. Has this exaltation of the Word made flesh involved the putting of any slight upon the great truth of the fatherhood of God? The very opposite. Through no instrumentality has man ever been taught the fatherhood of God so effectively as by the doctrine of the sonship of Christ. With Him for our elder Brother, we find it possible to believe that God pities us; we take his word for it, and are content. Cut off from that glad faith, and left to convince ourselves of the fatherliness of God as best we may, from such proofs as Nature and the soul supply out of their own resources, we find believing hard indeed, and at every step of fresh discovery in the world natural we find it harder still. For evidence of Christ's right to exercise towards every one of us these high prerogatives of [13/14] sovereignty and priesthood, I have consistently pointed you to two sources of witness, his words and his works, including under this latter head his greatest work of all, modern society, and I have done this begging no question of inspiration, but simply assuming the general credibility of history, the trustworthiness of well attested tradition.

Convinced that there could be no evidence for Christ more demonstrative than Christ Himself, I have asked you to take Him at his own estimation, and have urged you, in case you could anywhere find words more plainly charged than his words with the credentials of divinity, to turn to the speaker from whose lips they had fallen rather than to the Christ.

While thus resting the appeal mainly on the attractive power resident in the Saviour's personality, as that is exhibited to us in Creed and Gospel, I have tried not to leave you in any doubt as to my convictions touching the reality and genuineness of' the historical facts upon which this faith in Jesus Christ, as our sufficient Helper, is based.

When I have come to you at Christmas with the message of the Bethlehem angels, it has been in the earnest hope that you would take it for simple truth. When, at Easter, I have met you early in the morning with the words, “He is risen! the Lord is risen indeed!" it has been because I believed [14/15] this message also, and would have you believe it too.

No greater calamity could happen to the Christian Church than that her ministers should be found repeating these announcements with the lips, while really denying them in the heart.

The head of a great and honored university thought it, on a recent occasion, not inconsistent with the dignity of his position to say:

"The main difficulty with the clerical profession to-day is that few men of business or of science think that ministers are perfectly candid." [President Charles W. Eliot, at the Hotel Vendome, Nov. 8, 1882.]

So serious an imputation as this must not pass unchallenged, and I am glad of the opportunity to bear witness that so far as my experience (confessedly limited) extends, there is nothing that ministers more covet for their preaching than that it should be understood, nothing they more earnestly desire than that the word spoken may carry to the apprehension of the listeners the very same meaning it wore in the mind from which it started.

With respect to the great question of access to God, which is one of the cardinal points in religion, my teaching has been that it is primarily to be sought through prayer, and that every prayer made out of an honest heart, and with a pure purpose, reaches the Throne.

[16] Upon the sacraments, as means of access to God, I have laid stress more in the way of persuading you to the observance of them, than by trying to make plain the reasons for their efficacy. It has always seemed to me that the sacraments might be considered as speaking for themselves; in fact, that they were instituted partly for the very purpose of saying certain things to us more eloquently and more adequately than words could do it, and that therefore to administer the sacraments faithfully was more truly the clergyman's part, than to make them the staple of his preaching. Christ gave his Apostles certain things to tell, and certain other things to do.

The sacraments are acts, and they have a persuasiveness of their own. One of them says "Come." The other says "Abide."

The pulpit cannot add anything to the power of this sign-language. It is its own interpreter. The philosophy of Holy Baptism is intricate; the command, “Arise and be baptized," singularly plain. The Holy Eucharist has never been successfully explained, but how many to their great and endless comfort have taken it unexplained, and given God thanks.

On these convictions my sacramental teaching has, from the first, been based.

With reference to the intensely fascinating [16/17] question of the origin of man, I have taken the ground that the data for precise conclusions are lacking, and that since such is the case it cannot be that God requires of us very definite beliefs upon this point as prerequisite to the saving of the soul. Science has of late been multiplying evidences of the truth that God made man of "the dust of the ground"; that her researches will ever disprove the contrasted truth asserted still earlier in Holy Scripture, that man was made "in the image of God," seems, to say the least, unlikely; for since a just critique of the early chapters of Genesis could only be written by a contemporary of the events described, demonstrative evidence on either side of the great controversy is not to be expected.

With respect to the companion problem of man's destiny, a problem of infinitely more moment as concerns ourselves than that of his origin, my aim has been to keep as closely as possible to the words of Christ. Seeking to do this, I have consistently taught that there is a heaven, and that there is a hell, and that the two are equally realities.

If my interpretation of the symbolism of fire in connection with spiritual penalty has differed from that commonly received in the Church, though nowhere insisted upon in her standards, the difference has not been due to any wish on my part to nullify or to weaken the terrible menaces of God against [17/18] sin; but rather so to report them that the sinner may see them to be credible. [The reference is to certain sermons, preached from time to time, upon the scriptural doctrine of Life and Death, and subsequently collected in a volume entitled, Conditional Immortality.] At the same time, I confess to having always felt a keener readiness to preach the promises of God, than to threaten his vengeance, Avenger though I hold Him to be.

It is needless to add much more under this head. Those who have followed my preaching with any interest will easily recall the topics that have most frequently recurred.

They have been such as these: The help afforded to clear thinking in matters spiritual by the recognition of Father, Son and Holy Ghost as the Christian Name of God; the sufficiency of the simple articles of belief summed up in the primitive creeds to form a doctrinal basis for the Church universal; the interdependence of the sacrificial and the exemplary features of the death of Christ, and our need of coupling the two together in our theologizing if we would rightly apprehend the full purport of the Cross; the intimacy of the relation between religion and morals, and the necessity for grounding ethical sanctions upon the grand affirmations of faith, rather than on mere utility, however broadly defined. Duty I have represented as something owed directly to Almighty God, not as an inference from the observed laws of political economy. Here, also, I [18/19] have been old-fashioned, but not ashamed of being so.

Again, the absolute necessity of maintaining family religion in a land where the civil policy is shaped by universal suffrage, if we expect the nation to survive; the importance of preserving the periodic day of rest as a most precious feature of our social life, even apart from all theories as to the sacred origin of the observance; the insufficiency of intellectual culture as a preservative of civilization; the Church's duty to society as almoner, and mother of all gracious charities; the solemn responsibility that rests on those who "profess and call themselves Christians" to keep on working and praying for a closer unity among themselves, a better approximation than we now see to the ideal oneness of the People of God; these, also, you will recognize as having been among the familiar,. I shall not blame you if you say the threadbare topics of my discourse.

Looking back over the pulpit experience of all these years, I can see, probably as plainly as you do, that the distribution of emphasis upon the several subjects handled has not been invariably well-judged.

One of the hardest of all laws to keep is the law of proportion. Preachers are exhorted in the New Testament "rightly to divide the word of truth," [19/20] but the doing it is a high felicity of art to which but few of us attain. Forgetting that our people have not, and cannot be expected to have an interest like our own in certain lines of thought to which our studies have accustomed us, we harp upon strings that carry no music to their souls, and leave, for the most part wholly untouched, notes to which, if we only knew it, there would, every time, be a response. A thing lacking in my sermons has been, as I am perfectly well aware, the direct personal appeal. I have trusted too implicitly to the converting power of the clear-cut features of the face of Truth. But statement is not enough. Statement, perhaps, is half the battle, it is not the whole of it. Persuasion is the weapon that wins the day.

Upon one moral question of immense practical moment it has been my misfortune to find my teaching at variance with the convictions of the greater number of the wise and good in this community. Satisfied that the use, and hence the possible abuse, of stimulants cannot be abolished by any prohibitory measure that stops short of the absolute suppression both of the manufacture and the importation of alcohol, and knowing this to be out of the question, I have held and urged that rigidly to regulate and restrict the sale of intoxicants would be a more practicable thing in a city like this, than to forbid it altogether. Least of all have I been able to [20/21] sympathize with schemes for such partial execution of prohibitory law as would sharply check the drinking usages of the laboring class while leaving the rich as much at liberty as ever to indulge their appetites without stint. In brief, I have argued that to attempt to diminish the demand for intoxicating drink is a more hopeful and reasonable line of effort than to endeavor to cut off the supply.

To find myself almost alone among the Christian ministers of the city in holding this position, has been, I confess, a pain and grief to me, and has led me again and again to re-examine the ground on which I stood. The fact that you, my people, have never doubted the sincerity of my motives or questioned the genuineness of my interest in the promotion of temperance, however seriously some of you may have regretted my course, has been an immense comfort to me in the face of much not unnatural misunderstanding.

From preaching and teaching let us turn to administration.

The present rectorship bisects, almost to a day, the whole period of our parochial existence. It was in December, 1842—that is to say, twice twenty years ago—that the service was held which resulted in the speedy organization of All Saints' Parish.

[It was in the winter of 1835-6 that the Rev. Thomas H. Vail, now the Bishop of Kansas, then a young man in Deacon's orders, was sent to Worcester to see what could be done towards the establishment of the Episcopal Church. He labored faithfully for some months, but no permanent lodgment was effected. The movement lapsed, but hope was by no means relinquished. On Christmas Day, 1842, the Rev. Fernando C. Putnam (now Rector of St. Paul's, Bergen, N. J.), held service in the Chapel on Thomas street, then owned by the Central Congregational Society, and continued to officiate regularly until succeeded by the Rev. Henry Blackaller, during whose ministry the Parish of All Saints' was duly incorporated under the statutes. Thomas Bottomly and Charles S. Ellis were the first Church Wardens, and Edwin Eaton the first Parish Clerk. At Easter, 1844, Dr. George T. Chapman, a scholarly clergyman of large experience, and widely known through his published volume of Sermons on the Church, took charge of the parish, and continued to officiate for two years, at the end of which time the Rev. George H. Clark succeeded him, and became the first regularly chosen and settled rector. In January, 1849, Mr. Clark resigned his position on account of ill-health, and was followed by the Rev. Nathaniel T. Bent. Mr. Bent's rectorship extended to the spring of 1852, when, after a brief interval, the Rev. Archibald M. Morrison succeeded him, and filled the office for a period of four years, at the end of which time he was compelled by illness in his family to retire. There followed an interval of three years, during which the parish was without a settled rector, and was cared for successively by the Rev. William H. Brooks and the Rev. Albert Patterson. In December, 1859, the Rev. E. W. Hager entered upon the rectorship, and retained it until August, 1862, when he resigned.]

In a Massachusetts town the firm establishment of the Episcopal Church is no easy task. This is not to be wondered at, nor is it reasonable ground of complaint. The men who founded Massachusetts were men of high spirit and stern determination, who had left England because they could not live contentedly in spiritual allegiance to the Church of England. The flower of the Massachusetts youth have been brought up from the cradle in the belief that in that controversy the Churchmen were [22/23] wholly wrong and the Puritans wholly right. Can we wonder, then, that those who hold, and properly hold, that the institutions of religion determine the destinies of a commonwealth, should resent, or, if resent be too strong a word, let us say mislike the reappearance here, in force, of the Church from which their forefathers fled away.

Then again, added to all this there are the unfriendly traditions of the American Revolution. Here in Massachusetts the Episcopalians were very generally Tories. To be sure Washington was a churchman, but then he was a Virginian, and on that score his churchmanship could be forgiven him. As a rule, the sympathy of the Episcopal Church in these parts was with the crown rather than with the patriots, throughout the struggle.

Handicapped with all this weight of disadvantage, the Episcopal Church, in a Massachusetts community, starts out on its course. At first there is usually a little flurry of excitement. Novelty of whatever sort always attracts, and the very unfamiliarity of our mode of worship wins for it temporary attention.

Perhaps even some of the leading people of the place, though standing personally aloof from the movement, express a kindly and charitable interest in its fortunes. An Episcopal Church, if not too aggressive, content to keep its place, will add something to the picturesqueness of the town, make it, [23/24] perhaps, a more eligible residence in the eyes of persons coming from parts of the country where Episcopacy is better known, and better liked. To this doubtful beginning there succeeds usually a prolonged period of struggle. The laboring oar falls to the lot of those who have convictions as to the grand possibilities for good that lie latent in the Church of their baptism. Discouragement follows upon discouragement. There come, perhaps, frequent changes in the rectorship, or changes still more frequent in the methods of administration.

But Anglican religion is a plant of great toughness of constitution, and once it gets fairly rooted in a soil is singularly hard to kill.

Gradually in this imagined parish, whose fortunes we are following, the number of those who have serious convictions as to the mission of the Episcopal Church in this new continent of ours increases. In the light of enquiry and experience the advantages enjoyed by an ancient historical Church, in the way both of stability and of a wise inclusiveness, come to be more clearly seen. Slowly but surely the old associations of the Church's commemorative year, and of her ritual of worship, reassert themselves, and win a place in the affections of the community. The fact transpires that in our American modification of the policy and usages of the English Church the old grievances against which the Puritans [24/25] protested have been wiped out. It is seen to be almost demonstrable that had the Church of England, under the earlier Stuart kings, been what the American Episcopal Church is to-day, the great schism need not have occurred.

All this has a tendency to remove prejudice and heal mistrust, the prospect brightens, and by and by the faithful few who toiled and waited begin to see the promise of better things to cone.

At just such a hopeful turn of the tide in the affairs of All Saints' Parish it was my happiness to come to Worcester; the critical moment had passed before my coming.

Of the principles by which I have sought to be guided in my administration of such parochial interests as the law of the Church puts under the care of a rector, I cannot speak at length for I have already overtaxed your patience. A few things, however, I should like to say.

In ordering the ritual of worship, it has been my endeavor to keep always in mind the too often forgotten truth that the Common Prayer belongs to the people just as really as to the minister, and that their rights in the liturgical heritage are precisely the same as his. In a community where there are many Episcopal churches, there may be no harm in developing the ritual in one direction in this parish, and in another direction in that, providing an ornate [25/26] service here and a severely simple service there; but a composite congregation like this of ours, having in it many men of many minds and many tastes, is likely to find most edifying the ritual which clings impartially to the plain requirements of the Book of Common Prayer.

Not that I would see the parish fastened forever to stereotyped methods or stupidly intolerant of all but the old ways.

I should be glad to be assured that twenty years from now would find this church open every day in the year, from daylight till dark, with short services provided each morning and each night for such as might value a few minutes of prayer on their way to or from their work. I should be glad to see the weekly observance of the Holy Communion established. I should be glad to know that institutions corresponding to certain departments of the Church's charitable work would be standing in that same year, 1902; an All Saints' Home, perhaps, as well as an All Saints' Church, and that a staff of clergy and of deaconesses equal to the burden of so large a responsibility, would then be found busy at their several tasks. Some of you may live to see even this. Stranger things have happened.

But what meanwhile of this Church's- relation to the community at large? It cannot be truthfully alleged that the spirit of the administration has been [26/27] one of propagandism. And yet I frankly acknowledge that, from first to last, through these years, my heart's desire has been to present the Episcopal Church in its most generous, sympathetic, comprehensive character as the best meeting-place for all honest Christian people who love peace. It has seemed perfectly possible to do this without at all slurring the distinctive features of the Church; without making fatal concessions to a creedless liberalism, for the sake of winning a cheap repute for breadth; and without taking up, in the hope of encouragement from other quarters, with that thin notion of unity which looks to find it in a confederation of evangelical sects.

I have loved the Episcopal Church, and have sought to win others to the love of it, not so much on account of what it has thus far done in this country, as on account of its manifest and marvellous, though as yet imperfectly developed capabilities.

The truth is, American Christianity is languishing to-day for the lack of a special enthusiasm, the inspiration of a definite purpose. There is a certain deadness in the air which all perceive. Now there is no rallying cry so contagious, so effective as "Unity," when once men take it up in earnest.

A Church, elastic in its methods of work, reverent in its worship, not ambiguous or double-tongued as to its message, but firm in its grasp upon [27/28] essentials while allowing the freest play of opinion as to all matters not of the essence of the faith; such is the Church for which the Republic waits, nay, towards which she moves. It has been with this conviction at the very ground of my heart that I have sought to make the administration of All Saints' Parish a catholic and many-sided one.

Dear friends, my only people, how can I thank you as I would for the loyal attachment, the firm backing, the steadfast support, you have given me from the first? To the countless shortcomings of my pastoral work, you have been ever indulgent; with my experiments, some wise, some foolish, you have been uniformly patient.

A score of years has gone; a mere hand-breadth, to be sure, judged by the standards of eternity, but of one human life no inconsiderable portion. "The days of our age are threescore years and ten," that is all, “and though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years, yet is their strength then but labor and sorrow, so soon passeth it away and we are gone."

The best of my years are yours already; you are welcome to them.




II. Cor. iv: 5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

INTO the compass of a single sentence St. Paul here condenses the whole duty of the Christian ministry, both in the pulpit and at large, as preachers and as pastors.

The most noticeable point in the advice is this, that at all times and in all things self is to be as far as possible forgotten, and only Christ remembered. “We preach not ourselves," he says, “but Christ Jesus the Lord; and when we think of ourselves it is only as servants, your servants, your servants for Jesus' sake." This declaration strikes simultaneously at the root of two great temptations that have at all times, ever since the first, sorely beset the ministers of religion; the temptation to intellectual pride, and the temptation to personal ambition. Given the vantage-ground of a pulpit, and a man will naturally incline to use it as a means of propagating his own pet notion, system, or idea. Given the external sanctity and acknowledged privileges of the priestly office, and a man, unless always on his guard, will be sadly liable to forget that [29/30] sanctity is a thing of character, not rank; and that the real meaning of the word "minister" is servant.

Let us take up separately and consider both of these vicious tendencies, seeking, at the same time, to find how each of them may be avoided. First, with regard to what I have called the temptation to intellectual pride. Every man who thinks, who makes thinking the great business of his life, is disposed to over-rate the value of his own thought, and to depreciate the worth of results which other men have reached. Thus in the endless search for truth which has been going on ever since men began to think, the great minds of the world instead of working together and in unison to produce one harmonious result, have all worked apart, each for himself, in his own favorite way, and for the sake of establishing his own particular reputation. Hence, in philosophy and science, we have what are called the various "schools," each bearing its master's name; "For," says an old author, with as much truth as severity, "even those philosophers who write about the worthlessness of fame inscribe their names upon the title-page in order that they may secure the very thing which they despise." Thus we have the schools of Aristotle and of Plato, of Bacon and Descartes, of Kant and Hegel. Hence also in religion, the various sects; each with its little scheme for explaining everything in heaven and earth; each with its complicated machinery of salvation, not a wheel missing, not a bolt or rivet loose. But was it not this very sin of selfishness and partisanship that Paul rebuked, when he said so sternly to the Corinthian Christians, “While one saith I am of Paul; and another I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? [30/31] Who then is Paul and who is Apollos but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" The duty of the Christian minister, then, is not to construct a particular scheme by which to explain all the dim problems of human life and destiny, and then to give it forth as his own and under his own name. It is not his work to chisel out a complete and symmetrical system of philosophy, which shall charm men for awhile by the beauty of its workmanship and then fall, only to add another to the broken and mildewed images that strew the past. This is not his work. His work is something at once nobler in its aim, and more lasting in its results than this. His work is to preach the gospel. It is a thing much to be regretted that those words which are in such frequent use as to form the common currency of language are wont, in process of time, to lose the force and vividness that originally belonged to them. It has most unfortunately fared thus with the word "preach." To most ears that word has little freshness, and no meaning at all beyond what is conveyed by a dozen other words supposed to be its synonyms. But in the tongue in which the New Testament was written the word "preach" stands out as one of the most picturesque and striking of all words. Its meaning, there, is not simply to teach, to instruct, or to exhort, but this, to announce, to herald. The word, in ancient times, summoned up to the mind of everyone who heard it the image of a man bearing in his hands credentials from some powerful monarch, and sounding out with the voice of a trumpet a message to the people of war or peace. This was the spirit in which those old apostles went out to preach to the nations the message [31/32] of the living God. It was not as men who thought they had constructed a new system which the world had better try,—not as individuals who aimed at founding a school of Peter, and a sect of Paul, and an order of Apollos; it was not thus that they went forth; but with their hearts full of a Saviour's love; their eyes brightened by pentecostal fire and their voices loud as the thunders of the mount, they journeyed up and down the world, east and west, north and south, to herald—what? Themselves? No, something better; not themselves, but everywhere, and to all people, Christ Jesus, both their Lord and ours. They felt that the world, as a world, as a great company of nations, had a need, a want, an unfulfilled desire, they felt that every single one of all the millions of hearts beating throughout that world, had its own particular needs, its own particular wants, its own particular unfulfilled desires. But it did not require an Apostle to feel all this; doubtless many a man, in Judea and out of it, felt it then, as many a man feels it now. The Apostles had something else to urge them on, something more than the consciousness of the want. They had, and knew they had, that which would satisfy the want, fill up the void, feed the hunger, and quench the thirst of the sinning, weary and restless hearts of men. They carried in their hands a gospel, they heralded a Saviour, they proclaimed a peace.

As it was with the first and greatest of Christian ministers, so it ought to be with the latest and the least. We of these times ought to emulate the old earnestness and the old faith. Giving up all intellectual conceit, crucifying all natural desire of fame, pushing aside whatever dims our [32/33] vision of celestial things, we ought to aim at preaching, not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord. Were the gospel which we carry only another guess, only a fresh conjecture, only a new attempt on the part of gifted men to unravel the weary mystery of the earth, I tell you frankly I would not stand up here with a commission in my hand to preach it. We have had enough of all this guess-work and hypothesis; we are weary of it, it does not satisfy us, it does not meet our want. But, my friends, because we believe that the gospel is not hypothesis, but solid truth; because we are convinced that it is something vastly more and better than any scheme or system of man's contrivance; because with all the heart God has given us we love the Saviour and want to make others love him too, for these reasons, and only these, ought we who are called Christ's heralds to dare preach. But what is it to herald the gospel? What is meant by preaching Christ? It will not do for us to take these phrases on our lips merely because they sound well, and because our using them will earn us a reputation for sanctity. If we deal with them at all we ought to know their value and significance. Let us then expand a little the Apostle's thought, "We preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord."

Three leading convictions, differently developed in different persons, in some cases so latent as to be almost imperceptible, three leading convictions, I say, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, form the groundwork of every human soul. Over against these convictions, related to them as effect is related to cause, stand three corresponding wants, or desires.

[34] The first of the three convictions, is the conviction of ignorance. Almost as soon as we begin to use our minds at all we are appalled by the immensity of the field of human knowledge, and when we go on further and learn, as every student learns early, that the whole sum of man's knowledge, boundless as it seems, bears only the same ratio to the knowledge we can conceive of, that our little earth bears to the universe of which it is a component atom, we begin to feel like blind men groping in a mist they cannot fathom, like prisoners in a darkened cave, like subjects of a vague and shadowy dream. Corresponding to this conviction and resulting from it, is the want of, the strong desire for, a Teacher, for some one to light up the darkness, to burn away the mist, to substitute clear sight for the uncertain, troubled dream. Here we have the first conviction and the first want. The conviction, darkness; the want, light.

The second conviction is the conviction of weakness, helplessness. We find ourselves the subjects of what seems at first mere chance. We can discern no law, we can make out no plan in the government of the world. Bad men are exalted, good men are debased. What happened yesterday we cannot explain, what shall come to us to-morrow we do not know. All things seem in a tangle. Our best plans miscarry, our wisest and, as we think, holiest purposes are thwarted. We feel weak, helpless, dependent on we know not what. Corresponding to this conviction we feel the want of someone to care for us, someone to love us, someone moreover who is wise enough to rule us, and for whom we feel such reverence as to be willing to be ruled by him. If merely human love could satisfy we might find that, we [34/35] do find it. The mysterious power that orders all things, whatever it may be, has surrounded us with many kindred hearts; has placed us in families and among associates and friends. But even these are of the things that may be taken, it is for these very earthly loves we want security.

Here then we have the second conviction, and the second want. The conviction is, utter helplessness; the want is, an almighty Friend.

The third conviction is, in the noblest hearts, the deepest of them all, it is the conviction of sin. Men try to explain this sense of sin away. They try to think of it as a delusion, a spectral fancy. They call it other names. They speak of it as weakness, ignorance, hereditary taint. But it will not do; we cannot shake the burden off; it clings to us as it clung to Christian struggling through the slough and up the hill. We track its presence all along the history of the race. We read the acknowledgment of it on Egyptian monuments reared in the morning twilight of the world; we discern the working of it in Greek tragedy; we hear lamentation for it and promises of redemption from it out of Hebrew prophecy. We feel it in ourselves. The still small voice will not be silenced, and its perpetual cry is “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Thus we have the third conviction and the third want. The conviction, sin—the want, a Saviour.

Now we are ready for the question, what is it to preach Christ? I answer, It is to present, to the heart of man in [35/36] the most direct, the most forcible, the most loving way, that eternal and almighty Son of God to whom only all these convictions point, and by whom only all these wants are met.

Are you ignorant and blind; in doubt and darkness; lost, bewildered? Christ says to you, "I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Are you feeling friendless and unhappy, unloving, and, as you suppose, unloved? Christ says to you, “I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine." Are you borne down by a consciousness of unforgiven and unconfessed sin, almost hopeless of God's pardon? Not Christ himself, but one who points to him exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." This, just this, was what Paul meant by preaching not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord.

We pass now to consider the second of the two errors against which the Apostle by implication warns all ministers of Christ, who shall succeed him,—the error of presuming too much on the dignity and privileges of the pastoral office.

“Ourselves your servants" he says, not "ourselves your lords;" while, in order to relieve the declaration from all appearance of a cringing and servile spirit, he adds with dignity, your servants for Jesus' sake."

In one sense it is impossible to magnify and overrate the value and importance of the ministerial office. As the ambassador of God to man, as an overseer of some portion of the flock, as a commissioned leader in the Church Militant, the Christian minister occupies a stand-point far above any [36/37] thing that merely human rank or title can afford him. But just in proportion as pride and haughtiness and self-will are suffered to come in to influence and mar the priestly character, just in that proportion the assumed dignity loses its worth and the external value of the office is debased. When the Bishop of Rome, wearing on his head the triple crown of temporal sovereignty, calls himself with his lips the servant of servants, the inconsistency is so gross we only laugh at it. But nevertheless, there is in every man, not constantly attended and governed by God's Spirit, that very instinct the indulgence of which has made Rome the tyrant of the Churches.

Constantine the Emperor, with a show of humility, and to prove his reverence for the faith he had formerly despised, trimmed his horse's bridle with the nails of the cross. But he deceived himself. There was just as much ostentation in the rusty, battered nails as there would have been in gold or silver. It would have been wiser of him had he suffered the iron of a more bitter repentance to enter into his proud and self-willed soul.

It was to guard against just this evil of Pharisaic haughtiness that our blessed Lord, bearing witness to his great and wonderful humility, washed at the Last Supper his disciples' feet. “For," said He, “I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you." And in the same spirit, in view of the same danger, Peter bids the clergy under him, to use humility, to bear 'themselves not "as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." Ourselves," says Paul, “your servants for Jesus' sake."

[38] These last three words "for Jesus' sake," do not mean, as some suppose, that the Apostle was willing to serve his Corinthian converts in a perfunctory kind of way, merely because he thought that by so doing he should please his Master, Christ; but rather this, that he was willing to serve them because he loved them, and that he loved them, because Christ had taught him that there was something in every man worth loving. Let a Christian whose religion is a duty to him not a joy go to the bedside of some sufferer with relief, and at the same time say to him, "My friend, remember, I do you this kindness not on your own account but for Jesus' sake;" and the chances are, I think, that the sufferer will feel, if he do not say, "Unless you can serve me for my own sake, and out of love for me myself, I do not want your service." No; those words, “for Jesus' sake," mean something more than love by proxy; they mean that the love of Christ has so penetrated and filled the soul that all men have become lovable as being men, as being common brethren of the one Elder Brother of us all, as being the redeemed of Christ.

[On the evening of Sunday, Dec. 3, 1882, this sermon was, without previous notice, repeated, with the interpolation at this point of the following explanatory paragraph: "I have been repeating, as I dare say some of you have more than suspected, the first sermon I ever preached as Rector of All Saints' Church. On the evening of this anniversary Sunday, I thought you would not be unwilling to listen again to sentences penned twenty years ago. These words which I am about to say are the words with which I ended this discourse on the night of that first Sunday in December, eighteen hundred and sixty-two."]

In this spirit, my friends, I desire with God's help to [38/39] come among you as your pastor, prepared to love you for Christ's sake, and for your own.

I have no demands to make of you. You have already shown me that your cordiality and good will far outrun anything I had a right to anticipate. The only thing I have to ask is this that in the best sense of the word you will let me be your servant. That you will, so far as you feel it right to do so, give me your confidence and trust; that you will bear with my shortcomings and failures, which in the beginning of a ministry must of necessity be frequent, and that you will believe, at all events, in the honesty of my purposes and the sincerity of my words. I desire to come as the pastor of my whole people, to know no artificial distinctions or land-marks whatsoever, but that which I may be to the greatest among you, to be the same also to the least. Pray for me, my people, as I shall pray for you, that we may be one in every high aim, every noble purpose, every pure ambition; one in each other, and, above all, one in that Christ who is the "Head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

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