OF BALTIMORE, MD.
October 22nd, 1883
2 AND 3 BIBLE HOUSE.
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. . . . But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy iv. 1, 2, 5).
PREFACED by language of deepest solemnity,--a form of adjuration such as might fittingly come from one who had in mind the approaching end of earth and the epiphany of the last tribunal,--coming down to us with all the importance and force of parting counsels, and giving us in brief the Apostle's solemn, dying charge to those on whom apostolic burdens and the care of the churches should be laid, how they ought to behave themselves in their rule and labor in the family of Christ,--it is Saint Paul who speaks to us to-day, as the office and administration of a Bishop in the Church of God is committed by the laying-on of hands. Ready [3/4] to be offered, the time of his departure being already at hand, the good fight having been fought, the faith kept, the course well-nigh complete, the Apostle bequeathed to the chief pastors of the Church who should come after him his last injunctions and his parting counsels. "Preach the Word"--such is the commission reiterating in other but synonymous terms the great commission of the Church's Head, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel." Preach, or, as the more literal rendering of the original word would be, proclaim the Word. Herald-like, blow the trumpet in Zion. With no uncertain sound, arouse, awaken, and alarm the dead in trespasses and sins. Tell far and wide the wondrous message, the glad tidings of the coming of the Son of God. Acquaint the ignorant, the indifferent, the impenitent, with the bidding of Christ to repent, believe, and be baptized. Announce in trumpet tones the offer of forgiveness of sin and the call to a life of holiness and love. Preach the Word--not your word, but God's Word; the words, not man's, but those of the Lord Jesus, proclaim with tireless utterance from chancels and pulpits and on the street, in homes and workshops and everywhere besides. Do this in season and out of season. Be instant, constant, ready in your heaven-assigned work. [4/5] Reprove the careless. Rebuke gainsayers. Exhort the timid and distrustful and bear the contradiction of sinners, as Christ your Master did, with all longsuffering. Mindful of the Apostle's dread adjuration, mindful of the solemn account which all must render at the manifestation of the last great day, fail not to receive and inculcate sound doctrine,--that doctrine which is revealed to those who do Christ's will,--that law of life and belief which is the outgrowth of love. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." "He that doeth My will shall know of the doctrine that it is of God." Thus, in the weighty office soon to be conferred, answering to the charge of the dying Apostle, thus fulfilling the will and words of Him Who hath called you to be a shepherd and bishop of souls, you, my beloved brother, shall make full proof of your ministry. You shall at the last join in that pan shout with which the Apostle closes up this solemn adjuration to you and to all who bear rule in the Church of God, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
 The prominence given to the preaching of the Word in this last charge of the Apostle to his son in the faith, and his successor in apostolic labors in at least a portion of his great missionary field, is certainly suggestive. The bidding of Saint Paul is peremptory and emphatic, wrung out of strong emotion and conviction, and given with intense earnestness and feeling. The command to "preach the Word" comes with awful solemnity, and the Christian Bishop must be a fearless and ceaseless preacher of this word. For it is the preaching of the word which is the chosen instrument of God for bringing the world into subjection to the Cross of Christ. The preaching of the Word is to be in the days to come as it has been ever since the Master Christ sent forth His disciples to proclaim the setting up of His Kingdom--the heaven-appointed means of awakening the affections, convincing the will, and inducing a change of life. Marvellous power! wonderful privilege! We, sinners, and the children of sinners, are made the heralds of the living God! In our feebleness, in our ignorance, in our timidity and self-distrust we are commissioned to attempt, and bidden to accomplish a work such as eloquence or might or arrogance could never effect. Ours is an office that even angels might envy. Never [6/7] were they commissioned to offer to their rebellious fellows the terms of mercy and forgiveness. Ours is a ministry far more honorable than that of patriarchs and prophets of the earlier dispensation. Only by faith could they discern the promised but still deferred salvation. Few and faint were their revelations of Messiah's mission and power. More highly favored are we than the Apostle and his beloved son in the faith, for to all they knew and taught and left on record for us we have added the blessed experiences of the long ages of the faith. We know Whom we have believed, and what the Lord has done for us we may well proclaim to others who know Him not. We are ambassadors of God. We, in Christ's stead and by His authority, plead with men to turn to Him. Our message is of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Can we too much magnify, not ourselves, but our office thus owned and honored of God Himself?
The Apostle's bidding, "preach the Word," formed part of that pastoral charge to Timothy which grew out of the assignment to the young convert of the care of a portion of the Churches founded by Saint Paul himself, and is inspired by the Apostle's deep solicitude and vehement desire to provide for the spiritual [7/8] welfare of the Church so soon to be deprived of his personal presence and fatherly love. The command "preach the Word" is primarily addressed to a class or order of men set apart in the Church as Timothy was for constant and engrossing service as caretakers and chief pastors of the flock of Christ. While it is, unquestionably, the duty of every Christian, whether man, woman, or child, to proclaim with ready, willing tongue the Word of God, to tell what the Lord hath done for their souls, to publish the unsearchable riches of Christ, there are those to whom this work is specially, formally, authoritatively committed. They are set apart for this great work. They are called of God and commissioned by His Church. In their weakness the strength sufficient for their needs is promised. In their lack of knowledge or experience, wisdom from on high is bestowed. In their self-consecration, in their humble breathing of the prayer "Here am I! send me," "Speak, for Thy servant heareth," theirs is the privilege of becoming co-workers with God in the work of man's salvation, they are made ambassadors of Christ in winning souls to the love and service of their Lord, they are entrusted with the care of the churches as under-shepherds of the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. Through their words flows [8/9] the Spirit of God to parched and thirsty souls, By their ministrations the means of spiritual grace are imparted to those who need. They represent their Lord now that He has gone into the heavens. By His authority and in His sacred Name they minister the Word and sacraments for man's present and eternal good, and the great glory of God.
The Christian Bishop is thus solemnly, imperatively, bidden to preach the Word. As other Scriptures have it, "preach the Gospel," the glad tidings of Christ; preach Christ and His coming into the world to seek and to save the lost; preach Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sin; preach as the Apostles did the Kingdom of Heaven, the setting up of Christ's Church on the earth; preach everywhere that all men should repent and believe, and keep God's holy will and commandments; preach the Christ given requirements of Holy Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
These phrases are synonymous. Preaching or proclaiming the Word includes the heralding to sinners of all Christ did and all Christ said. The Word to be proclaimed is Christ. The Christian Bishop should preach Christ. The glad tidings he is bidden to proclaim centre in Christ. He is to "preach" the incarnation and the atoning death of Christ, through [9/10] which alone we receive pardon for sin and the gift of everlasting life. The name he is to proclaim is the only name given under heaven among men, whereby we may be saved. The Word he is to preach is Christ; the way, the truth, the life--Christ our all and in all!
This preaching of Christ as the "Word" involves no reiteration of a single sermon; no unvarying presentation of a single train of thought. We preach Christ when we call upon sinners as He called them to repent, believe, and be baptized. We preach Christ when we bid men as He bade them live holy lives, give alms of their goods, and learn the lesson of doing unto others as they would that men should do unto them. We preach Christ when we inculcate the lessons of love to God and love to our neighbor, which He the Son of God and the Son of Man taught us by word and deed. We preach Christ when we urge on men the duty of self-denial, of purity, of sympathy, and a world-wide love as exemplified in the life and words and work of our Lord. We preach Christ when we bid men as He bade them take and eat His Body and drink His Blood, that they may be nourished in their souls and lives, by the Bread which cometh down from heaven, and find in His Blood the cleansing from their sins. We preach Christ when we proclaim as [10/11] He did the setting up on earth of His Kingdom, and call upon men everywhere to become members and citizens of the City of God, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. We preach Christ when we hold up before all men as He did the Church which is His Body, in which through His grace and power we may be filled with the fulness of Him who filleth all things. In its simplicity adding nothing to the words of Christ; in its fulness keeping back no part of the counsel of God; in its marvellous breadth as comprehending the needs of all men; in its severity as denouncing hypocrisy, and all forms or phases of error in doctrine or viciousness in life--the Christian Bishop must preach Christ, the Word. The Apostle who gives this charge foresaw the hindrances that were sure to arise. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." The Apostle's words were a prophecy of all time to come--preeminently of our own days. We know the impatience of many at this present time of creeds, catechisms, and symbols of faith. We know the desire of many clergymen as well as laymen [11/12] to throw off the shackles, as they deem them, of sound doctrine. We know the turning of many away from the truth of God to fables. But still the Apostle's charge to the Christian Bishop remains unchanged. He must preach the Word--God's Word, the Word of Christ, the Word as this Church hath received the same, in simplicity, in fulness, instant in season, out of season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting, watching for the Church of God in all things, enduring afflictions, doing the work, the labor, the toiling, of an evangelist, and thus make full proof of his ministry. Ah! my beloved brother, the work this day assumed by you is never to be laid down till the bidding comes from over the everlasting hills to depart and be at rest. The toil now undertaken will weigh down and wear away the mightiest frame, the stoutest heart. The labor now entered upon is such as no man is sufficient for, save as God gives grace and strength from day to day. The call is for ceaseless thought and care and pains; the demand is for complete consecration, the offering of one's self wholly, unreservedly, completely, on the altar of God. Thus alone may we in life, in labors, and by word of mouth preach the Word, do the work of an evangelist, and make full proof of the higher ministry given us of Christ.
 My brother, whom the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls has called to this office and ministry, weigh well the Apostle's charge; seek earnestly, and with ceaseless importunings of the Throne of Grace, the strength and power to fulfil the same. God has highly honored you, in bidding you undertake this weighty work for Him among your own people and to your father's house. You are sent to evangelize the soil long since consecrated to Christ. The work to which your life is henceforth to be devoted is one that may well awaken the deepest enthusiasm and secure the willing exercise of all your powers.
Three centuries will have passed the coming year since the foot of the explorer and settler first trod the virgin soil of the Virgin's land. The story of the ill-starred efforts of Raleigh, the father of American colonization, towards the close of the sixteenth century, to found on our western shores a new empire for England's queen and new fields of efforts for England's Church is familiar to all. A contemporary print contained in the chronicle of the expedition of Amidas and Barlowe is intended to represent the "arrival of Englishmen in Virginia, 1584." First and foremost in the picture is a mariner at the prow of the little ship of discovery, holding up the cross [13/14] towards the savages on the shore. It was in this spirit, the winning of a continent to Christ and His Church, that the great work of discovery and colonization was undertaken by England's statesmen and explorers.
And so the annals of Virginia are full of acts of faith marking the consecration of the very soil of the Old Dominion to Christ and His Church. The planting of the cross by that chivalrous explorer and soldier, Captain John Smith, and the daily reading of prayers and psalms on the journeys of discovery through the forests and along the watercourses of England's first successful colony; the solemn services at the Jamestown Church, where the saintly Robert Hunt ministered and gave his life and labors for the founding of the Virginia Church; the noble efforts of Whittaker, well styled the Apostle of Virginia, and that scene so full of deep and lasting interest in the little church fragrant with the cedar and pine, where the daughter of the Indian chieftain put on Christ in Holy Baptism, and later found in her English lover the wedded partner of her short, sad life; the pious efforts for the founding of a Christian college and an Indian school to which a Thorpe gave his toil and for which he laid down his life--all these attest the Christian and Churchly purposes of those old [14/15] founders of Virginia, those Christian statesmen and Churchmen who brought to these shores of ours the faith of Christ, and laid broad and deep the foundations of Church and Government on American soil.
The history of Virginia may not be written without full and frequent witness being borne to the reciprocal relations of Church and State. The name and fame of Commissary Blair, the founder of William and Mary College, and the learned expounder of the Church's divine law as well as the fearless defender of the Church's divine right, will not be forgotten among the scenes of his labors. And other names rise unbidden on our lips as we recall the merit-roll of the Virginia clergy for nearly a couple of centuries. Though there were those unworthy of their office and ministry,--and where in the Church of God have there not arisen scandals and grievous sins from time to time?--still there were those of whom the world was not worthy--men who hazarded their lives for the Lord Jesus, men worthy of being held in everlasting remembrance. And when in an age of worldliness the love of many waxed cold, we may not pass over the name of Devereux Jarratt, whose evangelistic labors bore fruit in a revived Church. At length the separation of Church [15/16] and State consequent upon the sundering of the tie binding the colony to the mother-land brought with it failing fortunes for a time to the cause of religion itself. The apostolic Griffith failed of the episcopate to which he had been so fittingly chosen, only by the lack of support and the falling away of friends. The scholarly Madison was more of a President of a college than a Bishop of the Church of God; and it was reserved to the beloved Richard Channing Moore, a man endued with the spirit of Saint John, to build anew the waste places and effect under God the revival of a Church well-nigh extinct. Marvellous was the change wrought during the episcopate of this holy man. The Church again took root. It grew apace on every side, and the influence of that apostolic life and the sweetness of that holy example are felt to-day throughout the American Church.
Bright and beautiful is the picture history gives us of the consecration of the youthful William Meade, a young man of family, of influence, and promise, to the work of the ministry in a day of rebuke. God had a work for this young soldier of the cross to do; and through a long and laborious life, under strange vicissitudes, with fearless intrepidity of soul, William Meade was faithful unto death. He [16/17] was every whit a Bishop, and life to him had but a single object--God's glory and man's good. Shall I tell of John Johns, once rector of this great parish, the silvery orator, the accomplished scholar, the earnest, faithful man of God? Here, in this city of his love and abundant labors, multitudes still rise up to call him blessed. Here, with well-nigh his latest utterances, he from this very pulpit gave the key-note of his life as he proclaimed the love of God in the presence of the great Council of the Church. And now, weary and worn with the burden of the day, the earnest, inflexible, pure-minded, devout successor of these servants of the Most High God--would that he were here to-day, in the haven where I am sure he would be!--seeks, as others similarly circumstanced have sought before, the aid of a coadjutor in his heavy work, and the choice of a new standard-bearer of the Virginia Church has been made. A son of the Virginia soil is to bear rule in the land that gave him birth; and the sixth Bishop of the, old see, the seventh for the State--for the Virginia Church has become two bands,--is solemnly set apart for his life work to-day.
My beloved brother, there comes to you to-day as it never came before, a realization of the deep earnestness, the solemn meaning, [17/18] of the Apostle's words. They have been--these glowing phrases of the pastoral epistles--the watchwords of your faithful ministry, the inspiration and source of your life-long success. But now these very exhortations, these familiar words of the Apostle, bring to you a meaning they never brought before. You who have preached the Word, simply, fully, fearlessly, and in the name of God, with singular success; you who are now surrounded with the seals of your faithfulness; you who have made full proof of your ministry--enter to-day upon a higher office and a far more responsible and important work. And so these words addressed by Saint Paul to Timothy bring to you afresh the high and holy aspirations with which you entered upon your official career in the Church of God.
See to it, my beloved brother, that, as in the past, you still preach the Word in earnestness, in its simplicity, in its fulness, in its breadth and power. It is Christ the King of glory you are to hold up to souls in need, and it is your privilege to proclaim the setting up of His Kingdom. Dwelling on the wondrous story of the Incarnation and the Nativity, the Cross and Passion, the mighty Resurrection and the glorious Ascension, you will dispense the sound doctrine approved of God; you will win [18/19] souls to Christ. In these days, when men would fain decry the supernatural element in religion, and reduce the Word of God to a level with the sacred writings of the East or the masterpieces of unassisted human genius, your doctrine, formed on Holy Scripture and fashioned with prayer, will be wholesome, that which has come down to us from the Apostles' days and has been formulated in the acknowledged creeds of Christendom. Thus may you with all faithful diligence banish and drive away from the Church of God committed to your charge all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to the truth. Nor this alone. You will be charged with the exercise of discipline in your ruling of the Church of God. The sins of teachers are the teachers of sins, as has been quaintly said; and while you deny yourself all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, showing yourself in all things an example unto others, maintaining and setting forward quietness, love, and peace among all men, you must cut off the diseased member lest the whole body take hurt from your ill-judged clemency. The apostle devoted the gainsayers and obdurate opposers of the truth to Satan, that the loss of the few might be the safety of the many; and the Christian Bishop must again and again reprove, rebuke, and [19/20] punish those who are troublers in Israel--those who in their lawlessness and individualism oppose the teachings and the truth of Christ and Christ's Church. You are also sworn to faithfulness in ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon, others. That which is committed to you, you are wisely, carefully, and in the fear of God to entrust to others. The apostolic commission is a sacred trust. Wealth may not buy it. Favor cannot claim it. The call must be from God; and when this has been sounded in the ear, yours is the privilege and power of giving the valid commission. You send forth the Lord's laborers into the Lord's harvest. You are to be gentle and merciful for Christ's sake to poor and needy people and strangers destitute of help, and the "Inasmuch as you have done it unto these, you have done it unto Me" shall be your sufficient reward. My brother, feebly as I have sketched the life and labors now opening before you, you will not have failed to recognize the dignity of your high office and the responsibilities it brings in its train. Deeply do I feel the sad and solemn parting which now must come from those among whom you have gone in and out for sixteen years, ministering in holy things. The Bishop's office is a lonely one. Its occupant is separated from the tender ties and living, loving sympathies which are the [20/21] privilege and happiness of the pastor and priest. Like the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, you must bear the burden of your people alone. Your wrestlings in prayer, your weariness under the heavy weight of responsibility, that which will come upon you daily, the care of all the churches, must now be endured alone. But yet you will not be alone, for He whom you serve will be near you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Seek His help, His abiding presence. Serve Him daily more and more. Strive to bring souls to Him. In winning souls you will be wise. In turning many to righteousness you shall shine as the stars forever and ever. Seek in faithful, ceaseless labor this glorious reward.
On this solemn anniversary of your coming to this attached people, you are called upon to part with those who have been nearer to you than words can tell, dearer than life itself. How full and crowding the memories of this Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity! But, my beloved Brother, He who came with you in His loving power so many years ago is with you still. He will go with you, He will support and strengthen you to the end. Looking unto Jesus, you will be sustained. In Him who is our all and in all you need never be ashamed.
Preach the Word; reprove, rebuke, exhort; [21/22] do the work of an evangelist; make full proof of your ministry; and you shall at the last join in the triumph note of the old and dying apostle as you cry--
"I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me in that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."