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Address by Bishop Manning at the Regional Conference of the Catholic Congress
In Commemoration of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury
At St. Peter's Church, Westchester, November 14, 1934.

[New York]: no publisher, [1934]

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, 2007

(An extract)

The subject upon which I am asked to speak to you at this meeting is "Samuel Seabury - Bishop in the Church of God". All over the Church today we are keeping the actual anniversary of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury as the first Bishop of our Church, and the first Bishop of any Church, in our land. That statement, that Samuel Seabury was the first Bishop of any Church in our land has I see been challenged in the newspapers and therefore I repeat the statement here for it is the simple historical fact. There was no Bishop of any Church settled in the United States and holding jurisdiction therein, until in the Providence of God Samuel Seabury was Consecrated as Bishop for the Church in Connecticut.

This day on which Bishop Seabury was Consecrated ought to mean much to all the Clergy and People of our Church and it is most fitting that it should be especially observed in this Parish of St. Peter's, Westchester, for here in this Parish he was serving as Priest and Rector when the call came to him to become our first Bishop.

We ought as a Church to realise far more than we have done what we owe to Bishop Seabury, what we owe to those loyal churchmen in Connecticut who met at Woodbury and elected him, and what we owe to the Scottish Church whose Bishops Consecrated him, regardless of what this might cost them, and by their action gave to our Church in the words of Samuel Seabury himself "a free, valid, and purely [1/2] ecclesiastical Episcopacy".

At the General Convention recently held in Atlantic City, I preached a sermon on "The Gift of the Episcopate to the Church in America" as to which I may say that I have received a deluge of letters and am still receiving letters from all over the United States almost all of them agreeing with its statements, though a few of the writers seem not to know that the word Priest occurs in the Prayer Book, and many of them are from laymen asking why the position and teaching of this Church as to the Apostolic Ministry is not more constantly and clearly presented to our people.

In that sermon I dwelt upon the fact that this Church and the whole Anglican Communion throughout the world, of which this Church is a part, hold firmly to the Catholic doctrine of the Priesthood and to the necessity of Episcopal Ordination and this fact is of course indisputable in the light of the Church's own official formularies, of her official teaching in her Prayer Book, and of her unvarying practise requiring that all who enter her Ministry must be ordained to the Priesthood unless, to quote the words of the Prayer Book itself, they have already "had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination".

But today I want to speak not of the doctrine of this Church as to the Apostolic Ministry, which is plainly set forth in the Prayer Book, but of our first Bishop himself and of what we may learn from his example.

[3] We hold in highest honour the memory of Samuel Seabury, a strong, sincere and noble man, and a faithful Bishop in the Church of God. We are proud of his immovable integrity, his devotion to duty, his indomitable courage and loyalty to the Church, and we are thankful for his unfaltering, uncompromising witness for "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order" to use the phrase of one of the greatest of our own Bishops of New York, John Henry Hobart.

On this anniversary we look back at the conditions which confronted Samuel Seabury and those who with him bore their faithful witness for Christ and His Church. But we who today stand in their places are facing a still more serious situation. We are facing a spiritual and moral situation in the world, and here in our land which challenges not only our own Church but Christians of all names and of all Churches to awake from lethargy, indifference, and spiritual deadness, and to bear their witness for God.


worship, noble architecture, it is of no use for us to have the Apostolic Creed and Sacraments and Ministry if we lack the one thing that it all means, and the one thing that it all means is conversion to Jesus Christ.

Let no one think that there is any conflict between Conversion and the Sacraments. Conversion means awakening to, and using, the mighty blessings given to us in the Sacraments.

[4] Conversion does not mean belittling or undervaluing the Church, it means awakening to loyalty and enthusiasm and love for the Church, which Christ Himself loves, and which He founded to continue His work in this world.

Conversion doesn't mean mere intellectual talk about our religion, conversion means Repentance and Confession of Sin, and Faith, and hope and joy and new life in Christ. And it is this that we need in the Church today. We need in the Church a far higher level of Christian living. We need to see more miracles of Divine grace, more lives definitely changed from selfishness and godlessness to Christ-like love and power. If the world is to be greatly influenced by the Church, if the Church is to bring the world to Christ, the world must see in the Church more of the power of Christ, the world must see more that is distinctive, more that is Divine and beautiful and Christ-like in the lives of the clergy and people of the Church.

2. We need today far more clear, and loving, and fearless teaching of the Faith of the Church and the responsibility for this rests upon the Bishops and Priests of the Church. Why is it that we find men and women brought up all their lives in the Church who have only just heard of Bishop Seabury, who have evidently never read the Office for the Ordination of Priests, or the Preface to the Ordinal, and some of whom seem to be strangely unfamiliar with one of the articles of the Apostles Creed.

[5] Why is it that our boys and girls so often fall prey to the unbelieving and godless influences at work in many of our Colleges. It is because they were never brought to vital knowledge of Christ in their homes and in their parishes.

We need today in our parishes far more clear and helpful teaching of the Christian Faith.

How can men believe in the Divinely appointed Sacraments and Ministry unless they believe in the Divinely founded Church, and how can they believe in the Divinely founded Church unless they believe in Jesus Christ as God.

Our modern unbelievers, in our College Faculties and elsewhere, have not rejected the Gospel of Christ. They have never come face to face with it. The Gospel has never been brought to them in its Divine reasonableness and truth. Most of them have no idea what it is. Many of them have never read a single book by a believing Christian scholar. Some of them hold the naive notion that if a man believes the Christian Faith he cannot be a scholar or an honest thinker. And they are by no means to be wholly blamed for their attitude towards religion.

Such knowledge as they have of the Christian Gospel may have come to them in form so rationalized and diluted that it could mean little to anyone. The responsibility for their lack of faith rests heavily upon the Church. We need to call upon these men and women to hear the Gospel of Christ with open mind, and to put it to the test by living its teachings in daily life. What these men need, and what we all need, is not theories about Christ, or mere discussions about Christ, [5/6] but to be brought to Christ Himself.

3. And so we need in the Church today the preaching of the whole Gospel of Christ and His Church in all its Divine truth and power. It is this alone which has power to bring the world to God. We must hear from our pulpits now not merely of the values of Christ, or the ideals of Christ, but of Christ Himself and of His power to save us and all man-kind. No preaching is true Christian preaching unless it is converting men and women to Jesus Christ. We are sent not merely to preach the new social order but the new birth, not merely to preach culture but conversion, not merely to preach progress, or democracy, or civilization, but to preach Christ. A half converted Church cannot do Christ's work for men and cannot meet the need of the world.

The Church must come to men today in the full power of Her Divine Commission, she must come to them not as a human agency but as a Divine agency, she must come to them in the Name of Him Who still says to us "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, therefore Go ye".

We must make it clear to all men that we believe in the Catholic and Apostolic Church because we believe in Jesus the Son of God, and that we hold to the Divinely instituted Sacraments and Ministry because in them we hear the word and feel the touch of Christ Himself.

This is the message that comes to us today from the life and example of Samuel Seabury, Bishop in the Church of God.

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