Project Canterbury

Restoration in Mexico
A Sermon Preached in Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, on the Festival of St. John Baptist, June 24th, 1879, at the Consecration of the Rev. Henry Chauncey Riley

By Arthur Cleveland Coxe.

New York: Foreign Committee on the Board of Managers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1879.

[To the Rt. Rev. The Lord Bishop of Winchester, etc., etc., etc.: I dedicate this sermon by permission, not as committing him to any of its positions, but as a token of gratitude for his earnest and yet most prudent efforts to extend the Catholic relations, and to apply the generous succors of the Church of England among sister Churches and persecuted brethren in many lands. A. C. C., Bishop of Western New York.]


"Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die."--Rev. iii. 2.

The burning and shining light of midsummer lends itself to this Feast of the great Baptizer, as if to remind us of the eulogy of his Master. He was not the light of the world; but he was sent to bear witness of that Light, and we are reminded to-day of the nature of Missionary work and of the source of its power. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness by His servant John. It is to prepare the way of the Messiah. The coming of the Sun of Righteousness is heralded by the Morning Star. He only reflects the glory of the Redeemer. Beautiful the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; but he is only the Bridegroom's friend. He ushers in the Bridegroom Himself, coming to espouse His Church, and to enlarge her with a dowry of children, whom he will “make princes in all the earth." It is the commission of the herald and of the Missionary to comfort the people, like St. John, by the Gospel-tidings: "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the Missionary; and, though our Brother-elect is to be sent to "the Valley of Mexico," let us not say, with the unbelievers of old: “The Lord is God of the hills; but He is not God of the valleys." There also, we humbly trust, God will "deliver a great multitude into his hand." And long may this good day be remembered in Mexico, as making over to her Church and people the consoling promises and the blessed example it recalls. We stand here, at the confluence of waters gathered from a thousand sources, which unite at our feet and roll on in ever accumulating volume to the great Gulf; and so a thousand providences are combined in this solemnity to create a "sea of glory" which we pray may inundate Mexico itself. And in view of the peculiar trials of the work before the new Bishop, we may trust that the Collect for this day may ever find a glorious answer in his life and ministry: “Almighty God, by Whose providence Thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of Thy Son our Saviour, by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The services of this festival give us, moreover, most cheering pledges as to the success of Missionary work. “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed." New force is given to these promises by the inventions which God has permitted man to make in these times of ours. It is not for earthly interests that He stimulates the minds of men to accomplish His purposes. When Augustus Caesar was engineering the Roman roads, by which his armies might be easily moved to the ends of the earth, it was, after all, the little Child in the carpenter's shop of Galilee for whom all this was done. Those highways were for God, and the fishermen of Galilee were to use them for nobler purposes than those of the emperor. And so now, when men pierce the isthmus, and tunnel the mountains, and stretch the telegraphic wire, and lay the iron way, and force the swift keel through the oceans by the mighty impulse of steam, we feel that the times of prophecy are close at hand. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." We see the tokens and we hear the call: "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God." Rise, then, ye soldiers and servants, to the work He commands! He makes us true humanitarians. We must live and work for the human race. For this the Son of God became a Missionary; and all history proves that there is no practical love for man that has not its foundation in the love of God and of His Christ.

The work which Alls our hearts and thoughts to-day is the spiritual regeneration of Mexico. This Lazarus lies at our own door, and we are bidden to minister to him in his wants, for he is full of sores. The text is part of those messages which the Master sends to the Churches of our day, as to those of old. In the message to Laodicea, perhaps, we find what is peculiarly applicable to ourselves. In the message to Sardis I see much that is specially appropriate to the Church in Mexico. But three great ideas run through all these messages, which fill me with admiration for the wisdom and love of Christ, as well as for His foresight, providing for the maladies of His Churches to the end of lime. To all declining and corrupt Churches He speaks, indeed, as one whose "eyes are as a flame of fire"; but, oh! with what love He recognizes all that is good, even in their lowest and most degraded estate. Even with such Churches He still condescends to remain, walking amid their candlesticks and upholding their stars. And these are the three ruling ideas to which I have referred: (1) The preciousness in the sight of Christ of even a decayed and corrupt Church, in which there is left even a little life, (2) His tenderness and consideration in the laws of reform which He prescribes, "laying on them no greater burden" than they are able to bear, requiring of them, to begin with, only a few necessary things; and then (3) setting before them, nevertheless, the law of a perfect restoration: to remember what they originally received, and to return to first works and to first love.

1. Let us look at these ideas, briefly, in detail. Sardis has a name to live, but is dead. Yet "there are a few names"--only a few, even in Sardis--"which have not defiled their garments." In these few the Master recognizes a seed of “life from the dead." They are very dear to Him. "They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." And to these He addresses His precept of reformation: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain."

Whether Melito of Sardis was the Bishop to whom the text was addressed, or only one of his successors, we see in his zeal for the Scriptures a response to such counsels. In maintaining the Canon of Inspiration he is a witness of primary importance, and his labors have profited the Church to this day.

2. And note the compassion and forbearance of Christ in His rule as to the processes of reformation. “Hold fast the memory of what thou hast received, and repent; strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God." Just so in another case: "Thou hast a little strength: hold fast that which thou hast." And in another: "I will put upon you none other burden; but that which ye have already hold fast till I come." Always this skill and wisdom of the Good Physician--not to cram the starving; but to restore him little by little. A little life is very precious. It must be tenderly dealt with. A mere spark may kindle a great fire of light and love; while a little rudeness may put it out forever. We must not exact too much. We must not expect too much. Apply the Balm of Gilead. Learn from the Great Healer; and, first of all, "strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die."

3. And, very briefly, observe the fundamental law and pattern in the Mount: “First faith, first love, first works." Go back to the primitive and the true. However gentle in the first demands, keep the standard of perfection in view. "I have not found thy works perfect"; "Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works"; "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." The process of reform may be slow. Primary steps may be incomplete, but the perfect standard must be the aim. And, withal, this is the grand idea: Reformation, to be real, must be restoration. Set up no new Creed. Make no new Gospel. Go back to the first principles enforced by St. Jude--"to the Faith once delivered to the Saints."

If we are called, then, to do a work in Mexico and for Mexico, here are laws laid down by the Master himself by which we must be guided. Alas! a divided Christianity and a wretchedly dwarfed result testify against much that was done in the sixteenth century in the name of reformation; and I think we may trace it all to a neglect of these laws. Too many of the reformers, great and good as they were, failed to see how very precious was the little life that remained in the Churches of England and France and Germany, and other Churches of Europe. They failed also in not copying the tenderness of Christ; the forbearance and love with which He is content at first to exact no great burdens, and to enforce only the holding fast and strengthening of things that remain. By more closely observing this rule, we think, according to the wisdom given unto them, the English reformers secured a grand advantage, and left a more complete and lasting work than those on the Continent. There was a time when the tides of reformation had risen above the mountains and were pouring down into Italy. They reached even Rome, and seemed to promise a baptism and a cleansing of the Vatican itself. But there was haste and impatience. Intolerance about mere trifles led to a sacrifice of grand principles; and while the reformers quarreled among themselves, the enemies of truth and light found time to rally. Thus reaction began, and the purifying tides flowed back. Half of the conquest was regained to the papacy, and ever since divided counsels and scattered forces have given over great portions of Europe to unbelief and others to reactionary superstition, of which “the last state is truly worse than the first." God grant we may profit by such sad examples, and in our own work for Mexico may free ourselves from the truly American fault of impatience. Let us avoid that fatal disposition of our people to demand quick returns, and, even in ventures of faith, to seek greedily for something to exhibit, in a spirit of vainglory.

In all I have said so far I have kept in view the great fact that we are not founding a new Church in Mexico. Much less are we planting a sect there, to impair and eat out, like a canker, the little strength that remains. We acknowledge the existence of a Church of Christ in Mexico; of a candlestick which Christ has not yet removed, and which He calls, like Sardis, to the task of restoring herself to primitive completeness.

True, this Church was not planted in primitive purity; the evils that have predominated in her history were generated with her and in her; as the disease of a leper is transmitted in all its deadliness, even with the life he communicates. But even a born leper, who is healed, must be considered as restored; and like the normal condition of humanity, in such a case, the primitive estate of all Christians must always be borne in mind.

A leprous Christianity, indeed, was that which came with the cruel hordes of Cortez; and in cruelty and ferocity was it afterward organized, according to the spirit of anti-reformation which prevailed at Trent, and which swept with fire and sword through Spain and all her colonies, to root out and to destroy truth, under the name of heresy. Yet the very violence and crimes of the Spanish Inquisition testify to the multitude of names in that Sardis who yet walked in white and were worthy. If among the victims of Torquemada and his successors there were thousands of Jews and Mohammedans, yet, surely, there were multitudes of Christians, whose only heresy was "first faith, first works, and first love." I quote a valued friend of this Mission, who says: "In Spain, for fifty years, during the middle of the sixteenth century, the full powers of the Inquisition, backed by the government, were taxed to repress the efforts for a true reformation that were made by many high in station, foremost in purity of character and in culture, and of Spain's best blood." We must not forget the Spanish doctors at Trent, who, in the spirit of their Mozarabic antiquity, fought bravely and suffered severely for a remnant of truth. God be praised, the triumphing of the wicked is not forever. The labors of Perez, De Reyna, and Valera to provide a Spanish version of the Holy Scriptures were not all ineffectual. To Valera's Bible, marvellously carried to Mexico in the melancholy expedition of Maximilian, we owe, under God, the work which we are endeavoring to strengthen this day. The evidence that God had not deserted His Church in Mexico is found in the fact that this reformation began from within. "There were a few names in Sardis" of men better than the darkness that was in them, which they had mistaken for light. To them Christ's message came: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." He showed them an open door through an open Bible. "The entrance of God's words giveth light"; and Aguilar stood forth, like Antipas, Christ's faithful martyr. Called suddenly to die, he sent for his friend, Hernandez, and pointed to the Bible. "I am sinking rapidly," he said. "Be faithful to this cause, and press it on." Hernandez answered, “With the Lord's help, I will." "I die in peace," said Aguilar. And so he expired. Then God raised up Aguas and others, and the work was pressed on. It has been given to many in Mexico, as in Philippi of old, “in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Let our Church be modest in contrast. We hardly live for Christ; they die for the testimony of Jesus. Forty martyrs are already numbered in the brief records of this restoration, and confessors by hundreds they have had from the first. The rest you know: what, by God's blessing, our Brother-elect has already accomplished; what was done by my Right Reverend and beloved Brother who presides in this Consecration; and how the feeble Church in Mexico has been, to this day, laboring to strengthen the things which remain. Truly, to her applies the language of the Blessed Jesus, "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty; but thou art rich. And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."

Now, if it be the duty of this little Church to strengthen the things which remain, I hold it to be quite clear that it is the duty of Christ's servants everywhere to remember them in love and prayer: and if to pray for them, then, surely, to help them; and if to help, then to impart to them such spiritual gifts as are lacking to their work and to its perfection. In this conviction we are here to-day to provide it with an Apostolic Episcopate; for that is now its first want, deeply felt alike in its own sore experiences of widowhood and orphanage, and recognized in our own principles of Scriptural organization.

But just here we encounter an apparent conflict between our proceeding and Catholic Constitutions. The Episcopate is governed by laws which forbid intrusion, and it may be asked, Is not Mexico already furnished with Bishops whose valid ordination may be regarded as unquestionable? Such is the scruple of some, in whose opinion it presents a Gordian knot. They see no practical solution of difficulties which arise in such movements as ours, among Churches, however corrupt, which possess an Episcopate derived in historical continuity from the Apostles, provided they hold verbally the Common Creed.

No need to cut such a knot. It is easily untied by a little patience in the application of Catholic principles and analytical thought. Let me state the case even more forcibly than it is ordinarily presented. "Let us admit," says the scruple, “that the Church in Mexico is as bad as those described in the Apocalypse, that Satan's seat is there, and the doctrine of Balaam, and abominable idolatries, and Jezebel's harlotries, and the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, which Christ hates. Admit all this; but yet the Master bore with all this in the Seven Churches of Asia, and held their stars, nevertheless, in His right hand. In a word, He recognized their Bishops, and only commanded them to repent." The inference is that we should utter a similar call to repentance, and then mind our own affairs and leave Mexico to take care of itself. It is a very plausible argument, and I have endeavored in fewest words to state it in all its force.

But, "Adam, where art thou?" Is there a Mexican Episcopate in the Mexican Church? Is there any one there, as there was, for example, in Pergamos, who recognizes his true relations to his flock, and who can be reached by a call to repentance under the great message: "Let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches"? Is there a Mexican Bishop in Mexico, having such mission and jurisdiction there as the Canons of the undivided Church, and the Laws of Christ's Gospel, enable us to identify? Is there an "Angel of the Church" there who acknowledges his immediate responsibility to our Great High Priest as his only Supreme Head? We are forced to reply in the negative.

The nominal Bishops in Mexico refuse to govern themselves by canonical law as Catholic and Scriptural Bishops of the Mexican Churches. They have abdicated and renounced alike the Apostolic order and the constitutional independence of true Bishops. They consent to hold office from a foreign usurper, who gives them mission as Presbyters; their Episcopate being merely delegated authority to be his representatives. They are, in their own profession, Presbyters only, with certain Episcopal functions; the mere vicars of one Universal Bishop, who presides at Rome, by whose permission and during whose arbitrary pleasure they continue in Mexico for the purpose of enforcing his usurpations upon a national Church--a Church which owes him no allegiance whatever, and which is entitled to the liberty wherewith Christ makes all His Churches free. There are absolutely no Bishops in Mexico such as are defined by the Scriptures and by the original Constitutions of the Catholic Church.

Let us look into the matter a little more particularly. To the superficial observer, who, like most of our popular writers, takes no pains to examine the case in the light of history, or as it is seen in careful analysis, the whole question turns upon the claims of "the Roman Catholic Church" to be a true Church. But the Catholic cannot admit that there is any such Church, except in name. No such Church appears in history till very lately. There was a Papacy lording it over certain Churches of the West, but there was no Papal Church. The ancient Councils never heard of such an anomaly. Scientifically examined, it is a modern society, formed artificially since the Council of Trent, by a fusion of National Churches and Jesuit Missions, in violation of all Canons and Constitutions. The Jesuits are its authors, and this novel corporation is based upon certain claims of the Bishop of Rome, which the Eastern Churches have always pronounced subversive of the whole system of Catholic law, as received from Holy Scripture and the four great Councils of primitive Christendom. In refusing to give this artificial system the character it claims, and in reducing it to its constituent parts for practical purposes, we stand upon the old and consistent ground of the Churches of the East, which are older than Rome, and which maintain to this day the primitive Synodical Constitutions of the Church of Christ.

These Constitutions knew nothing of a Pope, much less of any Papal supremacy; and, if possible, still less of any Papal infallibility. The corporation known as the "Roman Catholic Church" was organized in the sixteenth century, to enforce such pretensions. But nobody can be a Catholic, much less a Catholic Bishop, who, instead of the Catholic Church of the Nicene Creed, takes up with this schismatical association, and, under its remorseless yoke, carries on a persistent warfare with all Churches that adhere to the good old ways.

But, in ultimate analysis, this confederacy is found to enfold individual Churches, which may be recognized as such when considered apart from their subjection to the papacy. Thus, the Churches of France and Germany and Spain are visible churches, and so is the Church of Mexico; but none of these Churches possess a Catholic Episcopate. They have been abandoned and betrayed by their nominal shepherds; if not long before, then certainly at this late "Vatican Council," as has been made evident by the testimony and clear expositions of the Old Catholics. None of these abdicating Bishops have any position in the national Churches of Europe and America which can be maintained by Catholic laws.

To the Old Catholics all this is a recent discovery. It has been forced upon them by the working out of fallacies which they only recognize in their reduction to the absurd. But it was given to the restorers of the Anglican Church to see the results beforehand; and thoroughly are the principles on which they took their noble stand three hundred years since vindicated by the action of the late Vatican Council, which is only a logical sequel to that of Trent. We apply these principles to-day to the case of the Church in Mexico; and God hasten the time when, on similar principles, the Churches of Europe may return to primitive freedom and truth.

So, then, it is only with the Mexican Church that we are called to deal. In Mexico we have nothing to do with the Church of Rome, or any pretended Bishops who act by its authority. For what business has Rome in Mexico? Where and by what Catholic canons has an Italian Bishop any warrant to meddle with our affairs in America? Search antiquity with candles, and you will find not one word which authorizes any Bishop thus to extend his jurisdiction over foreign Churches beyond seas. The reverse is the case, as we learn from the history of the African Churches. The Church in Mexico awakes to this truth; and, with no claim of dominion nor any desire for it, we respond to her invitation to provide her with a Catholic and Scriptural Episcopate, which is willing to “hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches."

The law for such cases we have found in Holy Scripture. It is also clearly defined by Catholic antiquity. At one crisis, says Vincent of Lerins, "nearly all the Bishops of the Latin tongue, misled partly by compulsion and partly by fraud," adhered to another gospel. And in so great and universal a defection he recognizes as Catholics only the faithful few "who preferred the old Faith to the new perfidy." By this rule we identify the Catholic Church of Mexico in the faithful few who have elected our brother to be their Bishop, and who have entreated us, as Bishops of the nearest sister Church, to invest him with the Apostolic Order and Office, that he may return to them and impart to them those spiritual gifts which their necessities so imperatively require.

It was, at least by implication, on such principles that the venerable Primate of Holland lately consecrated the first Bishop of the Old Catholics in Germany. On such principles the hundred Bishops at Lambeth virtually took their stand last summer; and, in so doing, opened, as I humbly trust, a new era of Catholic restorations. For thus they only recognized the ancient landmarks and followed the great heroes of primitive triumphs over heresy and schism. Bitterly does St. Basil reproach the Western Bishops of his day for the supine spirit of apathy in which, like Meroz, they came not to "the help of the Lord against the mighty." He urges their duty to interfere on grounds essentially the same. And so the great Nazianzen hesitated not to visit the dioceses of heretical Bishops in behalf of the few scattered sheep that implored his help. He did this even in the Second See of the Christian Church; and, in so doing, he was not only sustained by the Orthodox Bishops, but, against his will, he was forced to treat the see as vacant, and to sit down in its patriarchal chair as the true and only Bishop of Constantinople.

Thus, in his person, they enthroned the living spirit of Catholic law above its dead letter. They refused to enforce canons in favor of Bishops who had betrayed their flocks and corrupted the truth which canons were enacted to support; and they left us an example to go and do likewise, whenever and wherever nominal shepherds prove themselves “wolves in sheep's clothing," devouring the very flock they were appointed to feed, to protect, and to keep safe in the true fold of Christ.

Such, then, is the law of Christ and of His Church, as applied to the "few names" in Mexico who "have not defiled their garments." In them we are bound to recognize the Catholic remainder of their National Church, and for them we must "strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die." For, observe, their nominal Bishops excommunicate and anathematize them only because they refuse to accept "the new perfidy," and thus to betray "the faith once delivered to the saints." If Chrysostom, if Augustine, if Athanasius were in Mexico, and should now teach and practice as they did in the old time, they too would be excommunicated and anathematized by the nominal Bishops. It is by such remorseless violation of all Catholic laws that these Papal Vicars enforce a creed of novelties and a discipline wholly unknown to the Primitive Church. But they who lend themselves to such a despotism only excommunicate themselves. "Woe unto thee, heretic and prevaricator," said St. Hilary to a Bishop of Rome, who had denied the Faith and anathematized the faithful: "I say unto thee, Anathema." And now shall we sit still because they who persecute our faithful brethren in Mexico call themselves Bishops? Shall we permit them to claim canonical immunities in order not only to excommunicate, but even, under pretext of extirpating heresy, to slay the innocent? Alas! under such Bishops, heretics may live in all security, and even Priests, grossly immoral in their lives, if they but accept new dogmas and submit to a foreign usurpation. It is only when Christians become witnesses for truth and righteousness in this modern Sardis that they are cast out and destroyed. And have we no duty to Christ's faithful at such a time? The house is burning, and shall we hesitate to go in and save life, because, forsooth, we might seem to

disregard the statutes against burglary? The murderer is in the field, to waylay and to destroy. Must we first consult the lawyer about trespass before we break through the hedge and rescue the threatened victim? When ties of nature bid us to succor our spiritual kindred, shall we presume to excuse ourselves by ingenious duplicity, like that of the Corban? Our neighbor has fallen among thieves. Shall we refuse to imitate the Good Samaritan because Priests and Levites have passed by on the other side, fortified, no doubt, by a scrupulous deference to the Mosaic Rubrics touching defilement? In a word, David's men are starving. Shall we palter about Holy Bread, instead of obeying Him who says, “Go ye and learn what that meaneth. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice"? Thank God, instructed by the Master Himself, we know our duty. We remember how He rebukes the Pharisee who pleads the Sabbath day in behalf of forbidding to heal; how He chastises the hypocrisy that strains out the gnat of a ritual scruple to swallow the camel of a gigantic wrong. If ever the Papal Vicars in Mexico shall abjure their partnership with the crime and false doctrine of the Vatican, or whenever they claim the character and the work of true shepherds, God knows how willingly and lovingly we shall embrace them, and retire from any field where we might embarrass or annoy. As St. Augustine was ready to deal with the Donatists, so we are ready to give up anything but our primary obligations to Christ and to His Church for their sakes. The only anathema we utter smites their chains and not them. While they curse, we bless; but till they return to a right mind, we must leave them loaded with the schism and heresy of which they are the abettors. And so, in the name of God, and as we shall answer at the great day, we proceed to do for Mexico what we are persuaded is the Master's will, for has He not ordained, “As ye would that others should do to you, even so do to them "?


My Reverend Brother, the Bishop-elect, there is an emphatic word which introduces the text, and which I have reserved for this address to you. "Be watchful." The Lord is calling you to be a watchman and to be chief among other watchmen, and what He says unto all He says unto you with special significance: "Watch." In these seven epistles--which, with those to Timothy and Titus, I venture to remind you, will be your best directory and guide in your trying post of duty --it is to be noted how this call to watchfulness is repeated; and the same Apocalypse reveals to us what we must watch for and how we must do it. Watchful over self; watchful over the flock; watchful for the Master: such is the Master's charge; and oh, how great the trust He commits with it into your hands this day! It is an overwhelming responsibility. Who is sufficient? Surely they only whose sufficiency is of Him who alone makes able ministers of the new Covenant. Yours will be a stewardship so great, and not less so because it is, indeed, the day of small things; a day of poverty and affliction. We dare not promise you grand results; yet we recognize the providences that have furnished you with exceptional gifts for this field, and we would fain believe they are like the prophecies that went before on Timothy. For the first time the Church of Christ in Mexico will see in you a Bishop of its own choice; a Bishop in all the freedom of his Apostolic Commission, and wearing no yoke of foreign bondage; a Bishop, indeed, owning no supremacy save that of the great High Priest of our profession, and invested with full power to “set in order things that are wanting, and to ordain elders in every city." For a time we hope to labor with you--not as dictators, much less as "lords over God's heritage"; but as fellow stewards and counsellors, working under a common Master, and "by one spirit," in obedience to the inspired precept: "All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." For this also we wish even your perfection; and confessedly much yet remains to be done to set in order things that are wanting. As a Bishop this will now be your appropriate task, and we are but your yoke-fellows and companions in labor.

For in all that 1 have said I have been deeply impressed with two governing thoughts: our feebleness and Christ's sufficiency. This day's work will come to naught if it be our work. If it be of Him, who can calculate its importance? With tremblings I do yet rejoice in the thought that this extension of the Catholic Episcopate to Christians of another race and another speech will give us a sister Church on this Continent to strengthen our own faith and inspire us to new endeavors in conquering new realms for Christ. I dare not, indeed, turn these longings into predictions; yet I venture to think that, in answer to prayer, this day's work may yet extend itself with regenerative force and reduplicating energy from Mexico to Cape Horn. The promise of a latter-day glory seems to be forced upon our attention by the events of our age and by the rapid developments of human progress. The Lord seems to be “hastening it in its time"; and I feel deeply, in a new and spiritual sense, what one of the world's own poets has said, in words sufficiently trite, but which I would baptize this day and edit with Christian significance:

“I feel as 'twere some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like Balboa, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific, and his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise,
Silent--upon a peak in Darien."

Nay, I am touched with a solemn awe, reflecting that, should you be spared as was our patriarchal White, you may live to see what I shall not--a Church in Mexico greater, stronger, purer, more Christian, and more Catholic than our own; a restored Church, indeed, stretching forth Christ's hand to heal, in Cuba and in South America; nay, perhaps succoring our Church, in turn, in the dark and evil days which I rear are yet before us--in the fiery trials we must expect from Him who says, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten." And what if it be God's will that the many martyrs of Castile and Arragon should find the answer to their prayers in what may yet be done by Mexico for old Spain? Who knows but your hands may yet ordain another Aguas, another Aguilar, to go back with a pure Gospel to the Iberian peninsula? to reverse the "westering wheel" of progress, and to bear over the Atlantic, eastward, the regenerating gifts of the Spirit, which may restore to herself that ancient Church, that child of St. Paul's old age, that fruit of his journey into Spain, which illuminated its coasts from Catalonia to the Tagus? Oh, grant it, gracious God! grant all this and more, establishing this day's work; yea, the work of our unworthy hands, establish thou it. Heal the divisions of Christendom and revive Thy work, as in the day when there was, indeed, one flock and one Shepherd. And upon this Thy servant, as on Elisha, send down a sevenfold portion of Thy Spirit. Work with him and with his people, O Holy Ghost, Spirit of Power. Even as with Ezra and Nehemiah, those restorers of paths to dwell in, who wrought to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down, and the gates thereof that were burned with fire. Amen.

Project Canterbury