Project Canterbury















Bishop of the said Diocese, and Professor of the Nature, Ministry, and Polity of the Church, in the General Theological
Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.




On Thursday, Oct. 6, 1831.








The Clergy of this Diocese.

IT were vain for me to attempt to express the feelings with which I rise to address you on this first occasion of our meeting in our present relative connexion. To the action of your own understandings, and the promptings of your own pious sensibilities, I would refer you for a due appreciation of the influence on my mind of considerations arising out of the extensive obligations, and weighty responsibilities, of the office to which, in the course of Divine Providence, I have been called; and of its trying peculiarity as involving succession to such a man as the great and good one, who, for nearly twenty years, was over us in the Lord. Under the oppressive burden of these considerations, it is to me a source of grateful acknowledgment to the Head of the Church, and affectionate remembrance of the extensive personal and epistolary intercourse with you, my Reverend Brethren, and with the people of your respective cures, which I have enjoyed since my consecration, that that burden has been so greatly alleviated, and my mind so much cheered, animated, and encouraged, by uniform kindness, and those sweet charities, which, going from soul to soul, leave no anxieties and solicitudes which Christian courtesy and friendship, and the most favorable construction of well intended efforts, can remove. Under any circumstances, the discharge of duty would, I trust, be ever the faithfully manifested end and aim of my being. The experience, however, which I have had, and which I should fail in duty not to acknowledge, of the disposition in the clergy and people of the diocese, to cheer and aid me in the momentous work to which I have been set apart, [3/4] sweetens the toil, and increases the alacrity with which I would, by God's help, devote to it all the powers with which he has been pleased to endow me. To that department of episcopal duty, the delivering of charges to the clergy, I would now, my Reverend Brethren, affectionately ask your attention. The particular subject proposed is, The character of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in its prominent distinctive features, considered in reference to its duties, thence resulting.

The distinctive features to be now noticed are,





No error strikes more surely at the very root of religious and moral principle, than that which ranks modes of faith as matters of indifference, or maintains the sentiment that the principles and practice of right living can long and generally prevail, where sound religious views are wanting. The dictates of reason, and the voice of fact, in the experience of the world, are directly in the face of this error. There were, among the heathens, those who imparted comparatively correct systems of morals, many of whose points bordered on the excellence of those of the Gospel. Yet, what was the received morality of heathen times? And what, to this day, is that of heathen places? Is relief sought from the humiliation and disgust which an honest answer to these inquiries cannot but create in every sound mind, and every subject of virtuous and enlightened sensibilities, in attributing the truth of the case to intellectual degradation, and the want of the lights of philosophy? None truly acquainted with the subject will seek this refuge. When reference is made to the now existing paganism, and the advocates for what is called natural religion are sent to the dismal corners of the earth, in which the victories of [4/5] the Son of God have not yet displaced her from her empire, and where she appears in her genuine character, stripped of stolen appendages from the Christian system--when, I say, reference is made to such an exhibition of the true character avid claims of boasted natural religion, the attributing of her defects to the mere want of human science, may, to the superficial, serve a turn. But when the splendid exhibition of human powers, and of the extent of human learning, in the poets, the philosophers, the historians, the mathematicians, of ancient heathen times, is contrasted with contemporary systems of religion and morals, and we dwell on the small, the almost no practical influence of the ethics of the few and far between whose more than usually serious and reflecting minds , rose somewhat above the low level to which the moral world was sunk, where, then, finds this argument its fit and proper place? Only in the narrow conceptions of the prejudiced, and the corrupted and perverted moral sense of the dishonest.

And to these exhibitions of the true extent of unaided human powers, and of the influence of mind unenlightened by revelation, sound reason will always turn for illustration of the character of that religion and morality to which man can attain without the guidance of holy writ. It is an imposition on good sense and true philosophy, to exhibit, as proofs of what mere reason can do, systems of religion and morals, formed in times and places under the illumination of the Gospel. Right easy is it to work up principles and precepts which Christianity has rendered prevalent, into systems to be denominated rational, natural, or by any other appellation which will conceal the truth. But it is an unworthy artifice. Go to your natural religion, as it once appeared, and as it now appears, in its native character, and with its unaided powers, where there was, and where there is, no Christianity to be wronged by furtive draughts upon her stores of religious and moral excellence; and welcome its disciples to all the aid which truth and honesty can thence derive in its behalf.

The result of such an appeal to facts, must be conviction that sound religion and morality can exist only under the prevalence [5/6] of the principles of the Gospel. Some of their views, and a portion of their practical influence, may linger, even where those principles are denied; but it is only where Christianity retains its hold on general confidence and assent. Let this be loosened, and all the great principles of inductive philosophy must have lost their force, and their claims to respect, if that moral and religious defection of heathenism, which the wisest heathen philosophers owned could be remedied only by revelation from heaven, gain not rapid ground, and speedy triumph.

If, then, brethren, these things are so--if the prevalence of sound religion and morality can result only from the principles of the Christian faith, it follows, as the dictate of true regard for the best interests of man, in both his individual and social capacity, that that faith be preserved in its integrity, by all the proper means within our power. I say, in its integrity. It does not do for man to select such points in the system of that faith as he may prefer, or deem the most essential and important, and pass by, or be indifferent to, the others. That faith, in all its parts, is revealed from God, and by him required of us; and what, in this exercise of his combined wisdom, mercy, and authority, he has been pleased to join, man has no right to put asunder. All is equally bounden upon us, both by the decision of sound reason, and by the claims of gratitude and duty. Whatever views the Scriptures contain of the nature and attributes of God, and of his dealings toward men, what he has wrought for us, and what he requires us to do, we are bound to admit and cherish as principles of faith, and the ground and rule of obedience. In that mercy which is his darling attribute, we cannot cherish a Christian belief, without a full acknowledgment of its revealed connexion with atonement to its sister-attribute of justice, in their behalf who otherwise would have been totally and irremediably without hope of mercy. In the divine mission of the Son of God, to bring to us the blessings of his Gospel, we cannot have the required faith, unless we receive him with an entire acquiescence in the views of his divinity, and of his gracious character as a sacrifice, in his combined humanity and [6/7] divinity, to divine holiness and justice, for man's iniquity. The doctrine of divine influence and control over the operations of intelligent moral agency, comes up to the required grade of Christian belief only by embracing the Christian view of the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, by whom that influence and control are vouchsafed, and of the appointed means whereby they may be enjoyed, and with them all the blessings of redeeming grace and mercy, and the appointed pledges of their conveyance. And so of the great principles of human responsibility; of required duty, in the pure morality, and vital piety of the Gospel; of salvation to be wrought out, on Gospel principles, and through the revealed aid, by ourselves; of Christ's mediation, as procuring that grace whereby alone the conditions of that salvation can be performed, and as alone rendering them acceptable with God, and procuring for them his blessing and reward; and of eternal punishment, as the just recompense of neglecting the mercies of God, and withholding devotion to his service. All these points, with all their legitimate bearings and consequences, and in connexion with all the resulting responsibilities, must be fully and faithfully admitted, or we have not that faith which is the only security for the prevalence of sound religion and pure morality. Christianity in the abstract is not the Gospel. Its great general principles, its essential principles, and similar epithets, as now too currently used, serve but to answer the purpose of arbitrary and presumptuous selection, from the whole counsel of God, of such parts as best suit private fancy, minister to ease in religious inquiry, promise the most extensive popularity, or serve the turn of sectarian or of party influence. Sincere and disinterested devotion to the truth as it is in Jesus knows no other rule, in the reception of that truth, than the requisitions, in all their fulness and particularity, of the religion of Jesus. And surely an humble and Christian mind, willing to be taught of God, and conscious of its entire dependence on divine teaching for all its knowledge of spiritual things, will seek the blessings promised to the true faith, only in devout reception of the whole counsel of God, as set forth in his revealed word. And in the exercise of its high [7/8] functions, as a witness and keeper of holy writ, and as set for the maintenance and defence of the Gospel, and for preserving among men the full profession, and legitimate influence, of its truths, it surely behooves the Church, publicly to set forth before the world its solemnly considered, and deliberately formed, views of those truths, and to enforce the exhibition of them on all whom she invests with the high and responsible character of public teachers of religion.

In the simplicity of the primitive days of the Gospel, little more was necessary in this line, than a general adoption of the Scriptures, and a brief exhibition, in their own terms, of the leading points of Christian principle. When, however, the unhallowed ingenuity of man began to wrest, pervert, and neutralize those Scriptures into seeming conformity with favorite theories, built on Jewish or Heathen prejudices and superstitions, or the mere wantonness of an exuberant and unsanctified fancy, it behooved the Church to make public declaration of her faith, on the points thus variously regarded, and secure, by wholesome requisitions and injunctions, the due instruction therein of all her members. This is the object of her standards of faith, and of her enforcing the exhibition and maintenance of them in the instruction of her members. And if ever the distracted state of the Christian world, and the severance of one point after another from the aggregate of Christian truth, endangering the very existence of the whole, demanded this important mean of #the preservation of its integrity, surely they do now. And one of the most formidable instruments of the increase of the evils that the Church would thus avoid, is the specious but unfounded objection to standards of faith, on the ground of their assumed hostility to a truly enlightened exercise of intellect on religious subjects. The objection is totally fallacious. It is built on the absurd hypotheses that an informed intellect cannot be an enlightened one, and that moral agency is incapable of guidance and direction. The truth is, an intelligent being has his principles and opinions, in no small degree, under his own control The mind is capable of being moulded by a due exercise of [8/9] moral agency. And hence the duty of thinking aright, as well as acting aright. Man is no more at liberty to entertain what religious views he pleases, than what moral views he pleases. Just as sound is the reasoning which would leave men without guidance in moral principle, as that which would extend no direction to religious principle. The reasoning in both cases is get aside by the stubborn fact, of such being human nature, that the human mind must have, constantly has, and in all ages, and among all nations, has had, an influence directed toward it for its guidance in religious and moral principle. The universal system of education, and especially of religious instruction, and that under the sanction of persons and sects who oppose the principle of enforcing standards of faith, is in proof of this.

Now no Christian will deny that the only true and safe criterion of sound religious principles, are the Holy Scriptures. It must therefore be the acknowledged duty of all intelligent beings to embrace their principles. They have no right of choice in the matter. Their minds are capable of information, and of being brought to an enlightened decision, and they are sacredly bound to avail themselves of that power. The means of right direction, and especially of the promised and essential illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit, are before them; and fearful indeed, is the responsibility of their neglecting them. Their right to think as they please, is a delusion. It is their duty to think, as God in his holy word requires them. And when we consider the Church, in her legitimate peculiar character, as the divinely-appointed guardian of our spiritual welfare, we see, at once, both the reasonableness and duty of her adopting all proper measures to instruct and keep her members in the profession of the true faith. This is the object of her standards of doctrine. They are not the arbitrary dicta of her rulers, designed to compel the intellectual and spiritual subjection of her members. But her public declaration of what she honestly, and upon due and solemn consideration, believes to be the truth of God's word; and what, therefore, she is bound to have taught to her children, and consequently to require to be unfolded, vindicated, and enforced, on the part of her authorized teachers. They are her views of what God requires us to believe, as [9/10] affording the principles and the foundation of practical devotion to Him. She enforces our obligation to receive it by none other than moral means, proposing it to us, providing for our being well instructed in it, urging the strong motives which should induce compliance, and then, leaving us to our moral agency, to stand or fall to our Divine master, to answer to Him who sees and knows whether we approve and adopt the right; and whether, if we do not, our error is accompanied with circumstances commending us to that sparing mercy, which will pity what is misfortune, and punish only what is fault.

And with regard to her ministers, bound as she is to secure the right teaching of her members, she binds them to inculcate her views of truth, prohibits them from enforcing any other, and rejects from admission among their number, all who will not freely devote themselves to a service thus regulated, and thus guarded. In this, she exercises no intellectual or spiritual tyranny. She compels no man to serve in her ranks. She judges no man's conscience or motives. She unfolds her demands of those who are willing, on fairly proposed conditions, to be the instructers of her people. Those who will not undertake to comply with her conditions, she leaves to dispose of themselves as they list. Of those who have undertaken, but prove faithless, or conscientiously change their views of duty, she rids herself, on the great principle of self-preservation, and in pursuance of her solemn obligation to deal truly by her members, and leaves them to the final judgment of that Higher Power to which she and they are alike responsible.

This is the only efficient means of preserving unity in the Church, and maintaining the integrity of evangelical faith. The Bible, it is true, is the only source whence that faith can be derived; and perish the thought which would establish any other. But that faith is to be drawn from the Bible. In all His requirements, God is pleased to deal with us as possessed of that moral agency with which He has characterized our nature. Religion is no exception. It never was designed to make its way into the mere passive heart of man, but to be the reward of inquiry, effort, and willing devotion. These are to be exercised upon [10/11] the Bible, with all the aids that are within our reach. Of these aids the Church avails herself under advantages which no mere individual can enjoy, and proposes the results to her members for their guidance and instruction. These results they are deliberately to weigh. They are in conscience bound to respect them, as more likely to speak the genuine sentiments of holy writ, than any systems founded on individual study, reflection, or conjecture. A refusal to accede to them may, indeed, be a duty, because the Church is not infallible, and may be a pardonable error, because accompanied with the sincere and conscientious conviction, the result of an humble and faithful effort to be right, that such is the course of duty; but it incurs a responsibility which no good man should rashly or lightly encounter.

Standards of faith, then, are a declaration to the world, on the part of the Church, of what, with her peculiar opportunities of right judging, she deems to be the truths of Holy Writ; and the enforcement of them is the exercise of her legitimate prerogative as the witness and keeper of Holy Writ, the pillar and ground of the truth, and the divinely-appointed guardian of the religion of her members.

The experience of the Christian world is fuller and stronger on no point, than on the essential connexion between the maintenance and enforcement of such standards, and unity and consistency of doctrine. Where they are lightly esteemed, feebly supported, and much more, entirely discarded, the wit of man never tires in its presumptuous experiments of the forms into which religious systems can be tortured; the very Scriptures, the preservation of whose integrity is sometimes the avowed cause of hostility to standards, are, in their turn, thrown off as an unreasonable hindrance to the independent exercise of mind; and glaring heresy, and avowed infidelity, follow as the natural and easy consequences.

Brethren, these results are not the conjurations of the fancy. They have appeared, they are daily appearing, in dreadful reality, around us. The world needs wise and wholesome counsel to direct it in the principles of action, as well as in action itself. [11/12] It is the sacred duty of the Church to give this, And if those principles are valuable and necessary which she draws from the sure teaching of God's word, on the fundamental points of his nature and attributes, our relative connexion with him, his dealings with us, his mercies in redemption and grace, the service that he requires at our hands, the infinite reward that he holds out for our encouragement, and the everlasting punishment with which he threatens disobedience--if, I say, these principles, in their full bearing on all the great and precious truths of the Gospel, are valuable and necessary, to all arguments drawn from the nature of the case, are added the strong warnings of experience, in favor of our duty to cherish those lucid and evangelical standards, our creeds, articles, and liturgy, which so truly exhibit, and so efficiently, and in so interesting a manner, sustain, the leading views of those holy Scriptures which God has caused to be written for our instruction. Not judging others, let us judge ourselves, my reverend brethren, that we be faithful to those standards, and maintain and set forward, as much as in us lies, the hallowed truths which they embrace. To this we are sacredly bound. Be the obligation never forgotten. Be it never suffered to rest idly upon us. For wo is us, if thus obligated, we shrink from the consistent, diligent, and faithful redemption of the pledge which we have given.

The great principles involved under this first head of the Charge having been mainly had in view in the general object now designed, will render less necessary much enlargement on the remaining points of worship by a prescribed form, and of the Episcopal constitution of the ministry, which were proposed to be noticed as other distinctive characteristics of our Church, involving important and seasonable considerations of duty.

The conducting of public worship by a prescribed form, has many and conclusive arguments in its favor, drawn from the nature of things, the authority of Scripture, and the great interests of evangelical truth and piety. The view of the subject the most in unison with the present design, embraces its connexion with the proper exhibition and maintenance of a standard of faith. Creeds, articles, and confessions, made only the [12/13] rule of instruction, and not themselves necessarily brought into public use, and thus made every one's Voluntarily and openly adopted rule and measure of belief, experience teaches, are insufficient long to preserve unity and consistency in any Christian body. The glosses and dogmas of individual teachers, unrestrained by the necessary exhibition of the solemn decisions of the united wisdom and piety of the Church, gain an easy ascendency, and lead captive the minds of the many. Discord, confusion, and their connected evil works, naturally and necessarily ensue. And the only remedy for the endless divisions thus created, is in such vague and indiscriminate principles of union as endanger the sacrifice of all that is peculiar and distinctive in the Gospel scheme, to the mere desire of fair show of sectarian or of party influence. The only effectual remedy is in standards which are not only proposed as rules, but are themselves brought constantly to the notice, and constantly kept in the use, of the public congregations. Such is the case with our liturgy. Besides all the other strong reasons which should commend it to our enlightened and devout regard, and our discriminating and unmeasured preference, it is a standard of faith, which makes to the world the most solemn profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and interests therein all the sensibilities, and all the warm affections, of evangelical devotion. And this is giving to that truth its proper direction, and its genuine influence. Formal confessions of faith may serve to guide the understanding, and define to the world our views of the Christian system. But the incorporation of them into our required religious exercises, the bringing of them, in solemn offering, before the throne of grace, the thus engaging in their behalf of the holiest, the purest, and the best affections of our nature, most efficiently answers the great ends for which the truths of our religion were revealed.

This position has much to recommend it to the enlightened assent of every well-directed understanding. But it is best appreciated by that renewed heart which sees, in the truths of the Gospel, man's only refuge from the guilt, dominion, and everlasting consequences, of sin, and experiences that that refuge is [13/14] all-sufficient. To such a heart, the grace of God, bringing salvation through Jesus Christ, presents a point to which not only its reasoning powers are to assent, but its best and liveliest affections are to be drawn. To it, therefore, may the appeal be most strongly made in behalf of that characteristic of our Church, by which her profession of the true faith is incorporated with the habitual devotions of her members. And to the union of such a heart, with a well-regulated and enlightened understanding, may the appeal be most powerfully made in behalf of the provisions by which the Church would secure the constant use of so well-devised a liturgy, and guard it against the deteriorating influence of the admixture of aught else by which its happy effect may be neutralized or destroyed. By positive provision, she confines the devotions of her people, on all occasions of public worship, to her pious prescriptions, and prohibits the addition to them of any other. [The language of the 34th Canon of the General Convention of 1808, is express. "Every Minister shall, before all sermons and lectures, and on all other occasions of public worship, use the Book of Common Prayer, as the same is or may be established by the authority of the General Convention of this Church. And in performing said service, no other prayer shall be used than those prescribed by the said Book." Here is a clear prohibition of our clergy delivering sermons or lectures, without first using the Book of Common Prayer; and an express obligation laid upon them, to use that Book, and no other prayer than is contained in that Book, on all occasions of public worship.] And this, my reverend brethren, is our ark of safety. If our liturgy was left to discretionary use; if it was allowed us to mingle with it any devotional exercises by which the unwary might be drawn into unfavorable comparison of required and stated forms with the more imposing show of fancied peculiar gifts; or if, on any occasion of public worship, we could substitute for its tried value and excellences, what might attract by the greater glare of novelty, and the more favorable allowance to the weakness or vanity of the human heart; one half, at least, of our present peculiar privileges and exalted blessings would be sacrificed. It is in its principle of exclusive and unmixed requirement, that our liturgy towers so much above all other existing provisions for preserving to religious societies unity and consistency of faith. Well [14/15] persuaded, then, that the strong influence thus exerted is in behalf of the genuine principles of the Gospel, be our attachment to those principles the rule and measure by which we govern our estimate of the provisions of the liturgy, and our zeal and efforts in fulfilling and maintaining them. This is no sectarian cause. It is the cause of the best interests of the Gospel, which, in the uncommon spiritual dissensions of the present day, lie bleeding in many communities, where they were wont to have been honored, for the want of due guard against the presumptuous intrusions of human frailty and folly. Fearful is the responsibility incurred by every system, and every act, which may weaken the influence of our liturgical standard of faith, or substitute aught in the regard which should be had for it alone.

In naming the episcopal constitution of the ministry, as another distinctive characteristic of our Church, involving consequent important duty, I design not to introduce either the proofs in its behalf, or any extensive consideration of its benefits. I would merely, my reverend brethren, refer to that view of it which, as exhibited by our standards, we are bound to receive as a part of that doctrine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, conformity to which was solemnly promised at our ordination. That view is comprised in the following brief summary:--That no man can lawfully preach the word, and administer the sacraments, without being duly sent, and that none are duly sent, and consequently are lawful ministers, except they have had Episcopal ordination--that is, ordination by the first of the three orders of ministers, which God himself established in his Church. [This summary is deduced from the following views of the ministry exhibited in our standards of faith:--"It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same." (Article XXIII.) "No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, except he hath had Episcopal Consecration or ordination." (Preface to Ordinal.) The expression "in this Church," here used, has been supposed to disconnect the ground taken from the general question of the validity or invalidity of orders, and to confine it simply to what will be accepted in our Church, without making any decision as to the bearing of the subject on the great doctrine of the Christian ministry. Considered, however, in its connexion with the requiring of ordination according to our form, unless Episcopal ordination has been otherwise received, the declaration here made by our standards can hardly be fairly regarded otherwise than as definitively settling the point that the Church admits no other orders than Episcopal to be valid. For example: A person applies to be enabled to exercise the ministry in our Communion. He may have been for years an able and successful preacher, and a pious and faithful pastor, with many seals to the efficiency of his holy labors; but with other than Episcopal orders. Is any value set upon his orders by our Church? Does she draw the least distinction between him and a lay applicant for ordination? In other words, does she give the least either direct or indirect ground for supposing her to act in the matter on any other principle than the non-allowance of the validity of those orders? Not the least. She makes no provision for receiving him merely into the ministry of this Church. Her ordaining officer says to him, as to every other candidate, "Take thou authority to execute the office of a Deacon in the Church of God"--"Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee." Can any thing be more obvious, than the impossibility of the Church's using such language, except on the ground of her full persuasion that the person thus set apart is not already in the ministry of the Church of God; that he has not before received the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God; or in other words, that any previous ordination which he might have had, is utterly null and void! This, her honest conviction of the bearing of evangelical truth on this important point, involves no just exposure to the charge of bigotry, intolerance, or uncharitableness. Can the same be said of the principle which will not deny the validity of other orders, and yet insists upon its being practically denied by one who would transfer his ministerial services from another Communion to ours? which denies not that he has received a commission from Christ; and yet will not receive him among our ministers, unless he treats that commission as a thing of nought? which supposes that he may have received the Holy Ghost for the work of the priesthood, and yet ventures on the show of then conferring it when the hands of a Bishop are imposed? It is also not uncommon to hear that all that our Church sets forth in her standards respecting the origin of Episcopacy, is its continuance from the apostles' times, without a distinct recognition of its divine appointment. Her views, however, ccme clearly up to this point. Witness the Collects in her ordination services. "Almighty God, who, by thy divine providence, hast appointed divers orders of ministers in thy Church." (Collect in "Ordering of Deacons.") "Almighty God, who, by thy Holy Spirit, hast appointed divers orders cf -ministers in the Church." (Collect in "Ordering of Priests.") Here the appointment of divers orders of ministers, or in other words, of the Episcopal constitution of the ministry, is clearly set forth by the standards of our Church to be divine, to be by Almighty God. This general doctrine is carried out with a particular reference to our view of the office of a Deacon, as distinguished from that which obtains in non-episcopal Communions. With us, a Deacon is an order of the ministry, with the power of preaching and baptizing. The Church declares such a diaconate to have been established by divine inspiration. "Almighty God, who didst inspire thine apostles to choose into the order of Deacons the first martyr, St. Stephen, with others; mercifully behold these thy servants, now called to the like office and administration." (Collect in "Ordering of Deacons.") The office and administration to which the persons alluded to are called, is that above mentioned of Deacons, as a grade in the ministry, with the power of preaching and baptizing. To such a diaconate, the Church solemnly professes the doctrine that the Apostles were inspired to choose St. Stephen and others. In other words, our Church maintains that the office of a Deacon, in her view of it, as connected with her general doctrine on the subject of the ministry, is of divine appointment. An appeal may now be fairly made to the candor of the reader for the bearing of those "doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church," to which every minister has solemnly engaged to conform, on the vitally important point of the Christian ministry.]

[16] The only view now designed to be taken of this doctrine, is its affording another distinctive feature of our Church, illustrating its peculiar adaptation to preserve and disseminate the [16/17] true faith of Christ. All neutralizing and unchristian compromising of views is shut out by the doctrine, on the subject of the ministry, which so broadly distinguishes us from the sects around us. Thus kept within our own pale, we are blessed with a concentration of influence most happy in its bearing on the religious character and prospects of the community. By the fundamental principle involved in the primitive and evangelical constitution of our ministry, our sanctuaries are accessible to those religious teachers only, who are trained, tried, and commissioned, by our own rules. We thus form an institution, from which, if it be not our own fault, all extraneous influence is shut out; and in our own blest spiritual privileges and advantages, we may grow up unaffected by the errors around us, and shed abroad the holy, happy influences of a safe depository of evangelical truth, a primitive pattern of evangelical order, and a concentration of the light of evangelical guidance and consolation.

And it is these views, my reverend brethren, on which I would have our minds dwell in reference to the distinguished blessings of the constitution and liturgy of our Church. Sectarian views are too low for our station in the Christian community, and too selfish for the spiritual character of the distinctive features of our Communion; and uncharitable judgment of others is a departure from our religion more than sufficient to counterbalance all our Christian privileges. The faith and piety of the Gospel, in us, around us, and to the extent of our proper influence and efforts, should be the one leading and controlling motive in our views, feelings, and exertions, in the cause of our distinctive principles. Sorely, sorely, indeed, are that [17/18] faith and piety injured by the present disjointed state of the Christian world. This is felt by the substantial good sense, and the sober seriousness, of the community. And this leads to a state of peculiar preparation in the public mind for the distinctive principles and institutions of our apostolic Church. No sacrifice or accommodation of them to extraneous views, is at all necessary. The more they appear in their genuine peculiarity, the more effectually will they do their blessed work of healing dissentions, providing a refuge from the ill influence of discord, checking the disorganizing and demoralizing spirit of fanaticism and wild misrule, and securing and restoring the holy and salutary influence of the spirit of peace, piety, and concord. Loud and lamentable, brethren, is the present call for such an influence in our Christian community; and honored is the station, and glorious the work, to which our Church, in her distinctive principles and institutions, seems destined, in the course of Providence, and in the operations of grace. With an enlightened, an ardent, a practical, a consistent devotion to those principles and institutions, let us pray and strive that we may do justice to them. They are one with the cause of God, with the blessings of Christianity, with the glory of the Redeemer, and with the living faith and piety of the Gospel. In the cherishing of that faith, and humble exhibition of that piety, be ours the devout resolve, in dependence on the grace of God, through the merits of the Saviour, to live, to labor, and if it be His will, to die, in a cause so pure, so holy, and so true.

Project Canterbury