"Upon this rock I will build my Church."--St. Matthew XVI, 18. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."--St. John XX, 21.
"And we shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth."---Acts 1, 8.
"And, lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world."--St. Matthew, XXVIII, 20.
THOSE passages of holy Scripture bring before us briefly, but vividly, the mind of our Lord Jesus Christ as to His Church in this world and as to the nature and commission of its Ministry.
And we are here to take part in a service in which we believe that we are simply and faithfully carrying out His Will. It is an act of august significance in which we are now to engage and one which must appeal to the imagination as well as to the faith of all of us. For this service connects us outwardly and visibly with the life of the whole Catholic Church on earth from the first days.
Our purpose and intention here to-day is to do what the Catholic Church has done always in consecrating a Bishop.
The belief of the whole Anglican Communion, and of our own Church in this land, in regard to the Ministry is made quite clear in the Book of Common Prayer. There has just now been much discussion as to the origin of Episcopacy. In the light of all this discussion the Report presented to the recent Lambeth Conference by the Committee on the Unity of the Church says, "Without entering into the discussion of theories which divide scholars we may affirm shortly that we see no reason to doubt the statement made in the Preface to our Ordinal that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church Bishops, Priests and Deacons." "What we uphold" this Report says, "is the Episcopate maintained in successive generations by continuity of succession and consecration as it has been throughout the history of the Church from the earliest times."
In common with all the ancient Catholic Communions, which include to-day three-fourths of all Christendom, the Episcopal Church believes that when Our Lord founded His Church in this world He Himself appointed a Ministry, and that this Ministry has come down to the present time through the succession of the Bishops. The Episcopal Church stands, and rejoices to stand, in a relation of warm and brotherly fellowship at many points with Protestantism. But her own Faith and Order as judged by the standards of the early, undivided, Church are fundamentally and definitely Catholic. Her distinctive beliefs are those which have been held and taught by the Catholic Church throughout the world since the Apostles days.
The conception of the Ministry held by the Protestant Churches is in important respects different from that held by the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church holds the Catholic doctrine of the Priesthood. No one who reads, and understands, her Prayer Book can be in doubt as to this. It is this which constitutes the difference between the Ministry of the Episcopal Church and that of the Protestant Churches, not that one is a real Ministry and the other is not, the Episcopal Church holds no-such view, but that one is a Ministerial Priesthood and the other does not so regard itself, and definitely rejects the doctrine of the Priesthood. This explains the fact that a Priest of the Roman Catholic Church or of the Holy Orthodox Eastern Church or of any Catholic Communion who comes into the Ministry of the Anglican Communion is not re-ordained, whereas a Minister of any Protestant Communion however great his attainments or holy his life, and however greatly, and justly, he may be honoured and beloved among us, if he enters the Ministry of the Anglican Communion must be ordained to the Priesthood through the laying on of hands by a Bishop. This belief as to the Ministry is not, as those unfamiliar with her teachings sometimes suppose, a mere opinion or view held only by a party in the Church; it is the Church's own official teaching expressed clearly in her Prayer Book, in her Constitution and Canons, and in her practise. The Report presented to the Lambeth Conference on The Anglican Communion says "We hold the Catholic Faith in its entirety, that is to say the truth of Christ contained in Holy Scripture, stated in the Apostles and Nicene Creed, and safeguarded by the historic, threefold Order of the Ministry."
The Church which Christ Himself founded, and which His Apostles and disciples continued, evolved the New Testament, the Creed and the Historic Ministry, all under the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit. We see in this simply the way in which God
the Holy Spirit acted. As the Lambeth Conference Report says, "The Episcopate occupies a position which is, in point of historic development, analogous to that of the Canon of Scripture and of the Creeds." The unbroken succession of the Episcopate coming down to us from Apostolic times is the visible, living, witness of God's coming into this world in the Incarnation, for the Episcopate is the successor of the Apostolate, and the Apostolate was the direct representative of the Risen and Ascended Christ.
As, to-day, we consecrate another in that long living line we stand in the presence of those Divine events which brought the Christian Church into being, we hear Our Lord's own voice saying, "As my Father bath sent me even so I send you"; Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth"; And, lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world".
It is the Divine institution of the Church, and its present Divine mission and commission, which the unbroken succession of the Episcopate speaks to us of, and brings home to us.
But while the Episcopal Church bears her witness to the great fact of Apostolic Order she stands also and with her whole soul for Evangelical Truth. As one of our greatest Bishops in this Church, John Henry Hobart, so clearly proclaimed, she is as truly Evangelical as she is truly Catholic, both of these truly, and both equally. She holds that the very soul of the Christian Religion is conversion, conscious, personal, conversion to Jesus Christ. The Priesthood, the Sacraments, the Church itself, are all means to an end. Their one purpose is to bring us to Christ, and make Him real to us. Without conversion to Christ, knowledge of Him as a Person, conscious experience of Him, and of His power to change our lives; there can be no true discipleship. If Jesus on the Throne of God is real to us this gives meaning to all that we say and do in the Church. If Jesus on the Throne of God is real to us this carries with it all that we say about Him in the Creed, everything that the Scriptures tells us of Him, everything that is taught about Him in the Prayer Book, the Worship, and the Sacraments of the Church.
The Church, from the beginning, has given the supreme place to the Sacraments, and they hold their great central place in our Prayer Book, for this very reason that in them we feel the touch of Christ Himself. And on the other hand, history seems to show, and the religious situation to-day seems especially to show, that where men lose hold on the Sacraments of Christ they tend towards loss of faith in the supernatural, and in the Gospel as a Divine Revelation. And so in this Church we hold fast to our Catholic heritage, to the Divinely instituted Church, and Ministry and Sacraments, not because they are historical, or venerable, or orderly, but because they are from Christ Himself, and if we use them faithfully they bring us to Christ and keep us near to Him.
We are living in disturbed and confused times. Men are defying all the laws of earth and heaven, casting aside all the hard won experience of our race, denying those things upon which the dignity and worth of life depend, tearing away the sanctities, and the very decencies, of human life. We are seeing now that there is no other foundation for society, for morals, for conduct, but faith in God and reverence for Him and for His Law. The greatest and deepest need of human life to-day is a new vision of the supernatural, an awakening to the presence and the power of the Living God. It is Christ Who can give us this. It is Christ alone Who can save the world. But unless we know Him as a Person, unless our lives are surrendered to Him, and changed by Him, we cannot make Him known to the world. Our one great need in the Church to-day, all of us, Bishops, Priests and People, is real and full conversion to Christ.
My dear Brother:--It is for this that you are called to the office of a Bishop in the Church of God, not to bring men to know a doctrine, or a system, but a Person, no other than the Redeemer of the World. You are called to strengthen the faith of men, to show them the Way of Life. Through your own experience of Christ, your own personal knowledge of Him, you are to bring men and women and children to Christ, that they may know Him, and carry Him to others. This is the chief work of a Bishop, to be a Pastor, a Shepherd, a Guide, to the souls of men, to bring them to the knowledge and the love of Jesus.
You and I have laboured together in Christ's work for many years, and during the time, now approaching ten years, that I have served as Bishop, our relations have been still closer. I know your brotherly spirit and wide sympathy, your patience and good judgment, your deep interest in questions of social righteousness and human welfare, and I know how true and sincere is your desire to be faithful in the office in which you are now to serve.
With full trust, and with true affection, I welcome you to your place as Suffragan Bishop, and to your share in the life and work of this great Diocese. Help me to make our work in this Diocese a more living power for Christ. Our time here will not be long. Let us pray more earnestly than ever, you and Bishop Lloyd and I, that we may be given strength from above, that we may be more wholly converted, that we may ourselves be drawn nearer to Christ and so may draw others nearer to Him.
Let us pray, and let us strive, along with all our brethren of the clergy, so to bring our people to the knowledge of Christ that we may help to make His Church more truly what He means it to be, the Body in which He still lives and speaks and acts, the manifestation of Himself in the lives of His members. A Church truly and fully converted could bring this world to Christ in the present generation.
And let us keep always before us the fact the fact beyond all words to utter that He in Whom we believe is God Himself, and that to Him is given all power in heaven and in earth.
He invites us into His fellowship, He gives us the unspeakable privilege of sharing in His work, but the fulfilment of His mighty purpose is not dependent upon our use of our great privilege.
Whatever we may do, Christ's purpose in coming into this world will be fulfilled; His, Kingdom will come, His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His truth does not depend upon what we think, or feel, or choose to accept. Whether we are faithful or unfaithful, Jesus Christ reigns on the Throne of God; whether we believe in Him or not, He reigns: whether the thought of our time will receive Him or not; whether our present civilization may be saved and redeemed or not, Jesus Christ reigns, and will reign, fully, and forever and ever.