COMMEMORATION AT ABERDEEN,
OCTOBER 7-8, 1884.
In his address to the Diocesan Convention of 1884, Bishop Williams said:
|I have received an invitation to be present at Aberdeen, Scotland, during the first week in October next, and to take part in the celebration of the centenary of the consecration of our first Bishop. This invitation I have, after much hesitation, decided, with your consent, my brethren, to accept. And inasmuch as the month of August and early September are not very available for visitations of the parishes, as it is more than forty years since I was in Great Britain, and as it is very unlikely that I shall ever visit it again, I have also determined, again with your consent, to sail for England, if so God wills, on the nineteenth of July, hoping to be permitted to return hither as soon as the services of the Commemoration are ended.
|I am to be the bearer of an address to the Episcopate of Scotland from the House of Bishops in this country; and it would be peculiarly gratifying to my feelings, as well as most seemly in itself considered, could I also carry out an Address from our own Convention. If our whole Church owes a debt of gratitude to the venerable prelates who laid hands on Seabury, surely this Diocese has especial cause to acknowledge to their successors the obligations under which the loving kindness of those prelates has placed those who have gone before us, ourselves, and those who shall come after us to the latest generations.|
This part of the Bishop's address was referred to a special committee, on whose recommendation -- their report being presented by their chairman, the Rev. Dr. Harwood -- the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That this Convention has heard with great satisfaction that the Bishop has received and accepted an invitation to be present at Aberdeen in October next, to take part in the centenary commemoration of the Consecration of Bishop Seabury; and that, in giving its assent to the Bishop's request for leave of absence, the Convention assures him that the best wishes and prayers of the Diocese will go with him.
Resolved, That the Rev. Dr. E. E. Beardsley, the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, the Rev. Samuel Hart, and the Rev. William F. Nichols, be and they are hereby commissioned to present to the Scottish Bishops an Address in the name of this Convention; and that the Secretary be instructed to furnish them with a certificate of their appointment.
Resolved, That this Committee have permission to sit after the adjournment of this Convention, to prepare the Address.
At a meeting held after the adjournment of the Convention, the Rev. Dr. Beardsley being called to the chair, it was resolved, on motion of the Rev. J. J. McCook, to take measures for procuring a suitable memorial of the gratitude of the Diocese of Connecticut to be presented to the Church in Scotland at the approaching centenary commemoration; and to that end the chairman appointed as a Committee, with power, the Rev. Messrs. John Townsend, John J. McCook, and William F. Nichols. The Committee determined that the memorial should take the form of a Paten and Chalice, and subscriptions for the same in small amounts were solicited and received from clergymen and lay persons throughout the Diocese.
THE Bishop of Connecticut and the four Presbyters appointed by the Convention attended the commemorative service at St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, on the seventh day of October. [Footnote: The Rev. Howard S. Clapp and the Rev. Gouverneur M. Wilkins were also present from Connecticut.
Duplicate copies of the special minutes of the Episcopal Synod recording the proceedings at the Centenary in Aberdeen and of the official record of the meeting of the Synod on the eighth of October, have been forwarded to the Bishop of Connecticut for preservation in the Archives of the Diocese. They are authenticated by the signatures of five of the Scottish Bishops and attested by Hugh James Rollo, Esq., W. S., Registrar to the Primus and Assistant Lay-Clerk to the College of Bishops.] The Holy Communion was celebrated according to the Scottish rite; and, in the presence of a large congregation, including Bishops of the Scottish, English, Irish, American, and Colonial Churches, about two hundred clergymen, and a large body of the faithful laity, Bishop Williams preached the following sermon:
ISAIAH 1x.5. -- |Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.|
The stirring prophecy which contains these words presents to us, as does many another prophecy, the Divine ideal of the Church of God. It shows us what that Church would be, even here in |the progress of time, while, living by faith, she sojourns| in a world lying in wickedness, had not man's folly and sin marred that Divine ideal. It points us forward to the day when |in the stability of that eternal seat which -- now she patiently awaits, she shall attain the final victory and the perfect peace.| [Footnote: St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei., Lib. i., Preface.]
The entire prophecy, as it runs through the several chapters from the first of which the text is taken, finds its two horizons, so to speak, in the First and Second Advents of our Lord. Its theme is the period that lies between them. That period it describes as one long year of Jubilee, the period of the new creation redressing the confusions and desolations of the older one, in the power and abiding presence of the same Holy Spirit That once moved |upon the face of the waters,| and is now, |by the washing of regeneration| and in His own renewing life, |shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.| As the story of that older creation began with the fiat |Let there be light,| so the prophecy of this new one begins with the words, |Arise, shine, for thy light is come.| As that creation found its consummation in the Paradise wherein grew |every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food,| and in which unfallen man was placed, so this finds its consummation in the new Paradise |in the midst| of which stands the tree of life whose |leaves are for the healing of the nations|; the dwellers in which are |trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord|; while itself is called |sought out, a city not forsaken.|
So much for the whole prophecy; and time forbids me to say more, if indeed more were needed. Let us turn to that integral portion which the text contains; and I venture, for the moment, to reverse the order of its wording and to speak of its last clause first.
|The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.| Growth is the normal law of the Church's life. It may not always and at any given time be growth in numbers, though, if other growth be not lacking, that is sure to come. But growth there must be; growth |in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ|; growth |into Him in all things Which is the Head, even Christ|; growth upon and in |the chief Corner-stone, in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.| And such growth does -- it must -- lead on directly to the gathering in of souls into the Lord's kingdom; it must arouse that which we call the missionary spirit in the Church, which was illustrated, as never before nor since, in the life and example of Him Who came |to seek and to save that which was lost|; which was inculcated by Him when He bade the Twelve to |disciple all nations|; which was the burden of the last words, |unto the uttermost part of the earth,| that fell on the ears of the adoring Apostles as He entered into the bright cloud of the Ascension; and to which the miracle of Pentecost had such direct and solemn reference. [Footnote: Baton's Bampton Lectures, 1872, p.363.]
When this normal law becomes a living conviction in the minds and hearts of the Church's members, and, therefore, in the mind and heart of the Church herself, then those two things follow which the first part of my text (though, indeed, it is the illation from the latter portion) brings before us, when it says that because of the conversion of |the abundance of the sea,| and because of the incoming of |the Gentiles,| |thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear and be enlarged.|
First, |thou shalt see, and flow together|; or, as it might better read, |thou shalt see and be enlightened.| As the mind takes in those latest words of the Lord, |unto the uttermost part of the earth,| as the eye beholds the Church spreading outward from its one centre in Jerusalem, |the vision and the faculty divine,| if not created, are at least sharpened and strengthened. We learn how God |hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.| We understand, as never before, |what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of
[Footnote: Eaton's Bampton Lectures 1872, p.363] the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ.|
So it fared with St. Peter, after that vision of the great sheet coming down from heaven had fully opened to him the universality of the Church of God. Then his |delusive dream of temporal deliverance became a real assurance of eternal redemption.| Then his |narrow estimate of the Divine Covenant with his own nation expanded, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, into the sublime conception of the 'Israel of God.'| [Footnote: Lee On Inspiration, p.249 (American edition).]
|Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged.| The fear surely is not that of shivering dread or slavish terror. But it is that subduing awe which always accompanies great joyfulness, and enters into it in such a mysterious and perplexing way; even as God says, by Jeremiah, that when all the nations of the earth shall hear of the good which He will do unto Israel, |they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I procure unto it.| So when Jacob, awaking from the sleep in which he learned of the new Covenant with God through the Incarnation of Christ, exclaimed: |How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!| And then, as the unbounded love and mercy of the Father of all spirits comes to be understood, the heart is in very deed |enlarged,| as St. Paul's heart was toward his Corinthian children; and it goes along, in loving, active sympathy with the great purpose of God, |that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him.|
Thus as the |Vision of peace, the blessed city Jerusalem| has dawned upon our sight; as we have watched, its ever-spreading walls and rising towers; as we have seen it builded up with living stones, which are human souls redeemed and sanctified; we have entered with a keener insight into, we have come to comprehend more truly and more fully, |the length and breadth and depth and height| of that |manifold wisdom of God| which is made |known by the Church| even to |the principalities and powers in heavenly places|; and our hearts have kindled into that constraining love of Christ, in which we rejoice, with joy unspeakable, to work together with Him in bringing men to the knowledge of the one way of salvation, while, in the same deep love, we also endeavor to |keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.|
Fathers and brethren, honored and beloved in the Lord! as I stand here, this day, with a full heart but with trembling lips, the unworthy successor of him who, in this city of old renown, received a century ago the sacred deposit which he bore to the Western world; as I look on this truly august gathering which tells, as no words can tell, how God has blessed the vine planted in early, possibly in Apostolic, days in |Britain divided from the world,| enabling her |to stretch out her branches unto the sea, and her boughs unto the river|; as I think of all that has come and gone in those hundred years in the marvellous growth and the awakened inner life, acting and reacting on each other, of the mother and the daughter Churches -- for we all spring from one and the same noble stock -- I can find no better words in which to sum up memories, thoughts, forecastings, than those which I have endeavored somewhat to unfold: |Then thou shalt see, and be enlightened, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.|
And yet, one cannot but remember how far beyond all possible anticipations of those brave hearts that once made such a venture for Christ and His Church, are the things which our eyes look upon, and which are a part of our everyday life and experience.
When those ten presbyters, whose priesthood had not been gained without trials and perils which only the deepest convictions could have nerved them to bear, met in that secluded unknown New England town, on the Festival of the Annunciation, in 1783, and laid the burden of seeking for the Episcopate on Seabury, what could they have seen about them but the disorganized elements of an apparently decaying life? When, on the 14th of November, 1784, in that upper room in this good city, those venerable prelates (whose names are to-day household words through all the length and breadth of what has been called |The Greater Britain of the Western World|) handed on the high commission they had received in trust, what could their eyes have looked upon but scattered flocks under their few shepherds, which must meet, if they met at all, in uncertainty and peril, to worship God as their fathers had worshipped before them? Still, if they saw little around them to encourage and support, theirs (we may well believe) was the eye of faith that is strengthened to pierce the future. If they heard few words of cheer from men, there came upon their ears, from a Greater than man, words of strong hope and glorious promise. In that Transatlantic gathering, small and unnoticed as it was, the ten who came together heard, in the Gospel of the Annunciation, that |with God nothing is impossible,| and in the song of the Blessed Virgin they were bidden to bethink themselves how |God remembered His mercy and truth toward the House of Israel,| exalting |the humble and meek,| filling |the hungry with good things,| and helping |His servant Israel.| Here in Aberdeen, on that memorable day of November, they said in the morning Psalter: |O what great troubles and adversities hast Thou showed me! and yet didst Thou turn and refresh me; yea, and broughtest me from the deep of the earth again|; and then, as the strain of praise swelled higher, higher still, while the vision of the City of God in all its grandeur broke on the eye of faith, there came the inspiring words -- how their hearts must have thrilled as they uttered them! -- |He shall deliver the poor when he crieth, the needy also, and him that hath no helper... He shall be favourable to the simple and needy, and shall preserve the souls of the poor.... There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills; his fruit shall shake like Libanus, and shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth.|
Words like these carry with them unwonted power on occasions like those of which I have been speaking. To us they come like special prophecies of what we look on as a century now closing. To those others they came freighted with hope for an indefinite and unknown future. And what an inspiration they must have given to the venture they were making; a venture so entirely one of faith, that it is not too much to say of those who made it that they take their places in that long line of faithful ones, mentioned with such distinguished honor in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who, though they only saw |the promises afar off,| still |were persuaded of them and embraced them,| and therefore |obtained a good report.| Can we imagine, dear brethren, a more striking illustration of the different aspect which things wear to the eye of sense on the one hand, and the eye of faith on the other, than that which the election and consecration of the first bishop for America present to us? All honor, then, to those brave hearts that accomplished them! Men may have counted |their lives madness and their end to be without honor.| We know, blessed be the God of all grace and power! that they are |numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints.|
The temptation is strong to linger on the simple but impressive scene of the consecration: to try to picture that secluded oratory in the house of the Coadjutor-Bishop of this faithful diocese; to endeavor to bring back the congregation gathered in it, and the ministering prelates; to recall the form of the youthful priest who held the book from which the awful words of ordination were recited, Alexander Jolly, afterwards the sainted Bishop of Moray; to speak of this ancient city of Aberdeen, associated for all time in the memories of Churchmen with the names of John Forbes of Corse and Henry Scougal and the remembrance of its orthodox and learned doctors; but time forbids more than this briefest mention.
We behold -- and it is a sight to stir the heart with |thoughts too deep for words| -- we behold a suffering and a witnessing Church, in the depth of a long and wasting depression, reaching out the hand of love to a Church suffering and witnessing also, and trembling, to human seeming, on the verge of utter extinction. Perhaps -- is it too much to say it? -- it was because of this patient suffering and faithful witness that God gave to this Church the distinguished privilege of sending its first Apostle to the new world beyond the ocean. I cannot refrain from quoting here the admirable words of one of your own Scottish bishops. Speaking of the act which we commemorate, he says: |Mark, my brethren, how for the accomplishment of this work -- according to the full measure of the gifts of the Spirit and of Apostolic order -- it pleased God, as at the first, to choose the weak things of the world, and things that were despised, yea, and things which in the eye of man had ceased to be. To our Scottish Church with its hierarchy, which had formerly consisted of two Archbishops and twelve Bishops, then reduced to four; with its pastoral charge, which had once comprehended the care of every parish in the land, then shrunk to little mere than a score or two of scattered congregations -- yea, and at the very time when an act of the civil legislature had declared all ecclesiastical orders conferred by her to be null and void; at such a time, to the poor persecuted remnant of the Church in Scotland was this grace given, that she should impart to the United States, now no longer dependent upon England, the first seed of the Episcopate which England had withheld. Yes, the first bishop who set foot on the continent of North America, the first bishop who went forth to a foreign land bearing the full blessings of our reformed Church, was consecrated to his Apostolic office, not amid the solemn pomp and august ceremonial of an English minister, no, nor in the privacy of an episcopal palace, but in the obscurity of an upper chamber in a common dwelling-house in Aberdeen.| [Footnote: Bishop of St. Andrews; Mending of the Nets, p.17 (ed.1884).] If, as has sometimes been generously said, this noble act of faith and charity has afforded a new and signal illustration of our Lord's own words, |It is more blessed to give than to receive,| that does not make the act a whit less noble, nor diminish by one jot the obligation of undying gratitude on the part of those who received the gift it gave.
If we look at its immediate results, besides what has just been named, it assuredly gave an impulse to that action of the State in England, in consequence of which, within five years, three bishops of the English line were given to as many dioceses in the United States. It was the means, also, of joining in the American Episcopate the Scottish and the English lines of succession in a union that will endure while the world shall last. For though the prelate consecrated here ministered in only one consecration of a bishop after his return -- that of the first Bishop of Maryland -- yet, since that day, there has not been (and there can never be in time to come) a bishop in our American Episcopate, who, as he traces back his lineage through the network -- for I surely need not say, here and now, that the succession is a network and not a chain of single links -- will not find in it the name of that Bishop of Maryland, by whom he is connected with Seabury, and then, by him, with |the Catholic remainder of the Church of Scotland.| Nor need one ask, nor could he have, if he did ask it, a nobler spiritual lineage than he has received in that double succession, which indeed becomes single again if we go back for a little more than another century.
Then, again, this deed of Christian charity did, no doubt, bring out from its obscurity into the light of day, the witnessing remnant of the ancient Church of Scotland, and was, perhaps, the first step towards the removal of those civil disabilities which had pressed her into the dust. How must the iron of suffering have entered into the soul of many a faithful priest in those dark days of trial, when, we are told, the clergy had given up the hope that any successors would come after them, and on the monument of one of them were written the despairing words, |Ultime Scotorum!| [Footnote: Epitaph by the Rev. J. Skinner on the tombstone of the Rev. Mr. Keith, Presbyter at Cruden: |Ultime Scotorum in Crudenanis, Keithe, Sacerdos.|]
How strangely similar were the conditions of those who sought the Episcopate and those who courageously gave it in those days of doubt and darkness! How fitting it seems that, in the ordering of God's providence, one suffering Church, stripped of its worldly honors and its earthly wealth, should give to another, |scattered and peeled| and apparently on the verge of extinction, that deposit which it had maintained in the face of dangers that might well seem worse than death itself! They who have lived together under the shadows and in the sharing of life's tragedies and woes, know full well that there is no bond of union half so strong as the bond of common suffering; know full well that they whose hearts have touched each other only in hours of joy and gladness, can never be so bound together as those who have wept beside beds of death, or clasped each other's hands over open graves. Why should it not so be with bodies of men as with individuals? Above all, why should it not so be with sister Churches, bound together in the highest of all bonds? Was it not so here a century ago? When the kindly hand was outstretched here to help, when the loving word, carrying the very life of love, went across the ocean to those who were indeed |minished and brought low,| was not the channel of Christian sympathy deepened, was not its flow made fuller and more strong by the conditions of which I have just spoken? And if it has pleased God, in His great mercy, to send brighter days, greater peace, better hopes to each of us, shall not the bond, once welded by suffering, still keep its strength? God grant it may! God grant that, till the Lord shall come to give His universal Church its final triumph, these Churches, so marvellously united, |may stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel, and in nothing terrified by adversaries.|
It would be more than ungrateful, it would be inexcusable, to omit here the recognition of the agency by which, under God, it came to pass that there were in what had been the colonies of Great Britain, and were now independent States, those who sought the Episcopate as essential to the full organization of an autonomous Church. That agency is found in the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts -- a society to which American Churchmen must always look with undying gratitude, for to its noble labors they largely owe all that they were when Seabury was sent upon his mission of faith, and much of what they enjoy to-day.
It was no fault of that Society that there was not, in America, an Episcopate before the war of the Revolution. Had the godly counsels and the strong appeals of the bishops, clergy, and faithful laity who shared in its plans and operations, been listened to, American Churchmen would have had no need to seek the Apostolic office outside the limits of their own country. This is not the time nor is this the place to consider, in detail, the reasons -- if reasons in any proper sense of the word there were -- why the Episcopate, so strongly desired, had not been given. But it is worthy of notice that where the labors of the Society had been the most abundant and its missionaries most numerous, there the need of the Episcopate was most deeply felt and the call for it was loudest. Indeed, the only two colonies from which any opposition to sending bishops to America before the Revolution came, were Maryland and Virginia; and to those colonies, because in them the maintenance of the clergy was otherwise provided for, the Society sent few, if any, missionaries.
No part of all the Western world received more of the Society's fostering aid than the New England colonies; and to none of them was more help extended than to the colony of Connecticut. From the day when the foundations of the Church were laid in that colony on to the outbreak of the Revolution, the benefactions that came from England were abundant and unceasing. With possibly a single exception, all the clergy in the colony were missionaries of the Society. They were also sons of the soil, who, because of convictions too strong to be resisted, went back to the Church from which their fathers had gone out, and in doing so incurred odium and reproach, scorn and contempt, the loss of much that gives earthly comfort and rejoicing, and sometimes the sundering of ties that seemed to be a part of life itself. They were taught, too, by the bitter experience of half a century, the difficulties and dangers attendant on a voyage to England to obtain Holy Orders; difficulties and dangers then so great that one in every five of all sent out for ordination perished by sickness or by shipwreck, and saw his native land no more. Theirs may be inglorious confessorships, unknown to or forgotten by men, but confessorships they are, and we cannot doubt that they find their place in the Book of God's remembrance.
It can cause no wonder that men thus trained and tried should, when the severance of the mother country and its colonies was complete, have turned their first thoughts to the means of perpetuating that stewardship |of the mysteries of God,| which they had so hardly won; that they should have held that to be the first step, and refused to take another till they had taken that. For, indeed, if the Church is to be rightly perpetuated under the conditions of a normal growth, it can only be perpetuated according to the original and organic law of its existence. When He to Whom in His resurrection |all power was given in heaven and in earth,| committed to the Apostolic Ministry the tradition of the Apostolic Doctrine, in that great baptismal formula which is alike the source and summary of the Catholic Faith, He joined two things together that man may never put asunder. He may try the separation if he will -- he has tried it, alas! more than once -- but the end, the inevitable end, has always been the loss of the Apostolic Doctrine.
Then, on the other hand, the gift of the Apostolic Ministry without the most wisely guarded guarantees that there shall be a steadfast continuance in the |doctrine of the Apostles, and in the breaking of bread, and the prayers,| is a gift of more than doubtful value. Men seem to think to-day, that they can leave out what parts they please from the original and divine organism of the Church, and still work the rest at will. The attempt, believe me, is just as futile as it would be to undertake to deal in like fashion with one of those huge machines that work, all about us, with such life-like power, and attempt to make it do its work, when some portion of its complex mechanism had been removed. We cannot be too thankful for the merciful guiding that kept our fathers, a hundred years ago, from so fatal a mistake as that. For here, as well as in England, guarantees were demanded and given, so far as it was possible to give them, before the succession was communicated.
I turn to that venerable document known to us as the Concordate, one copy of which is preserved in the Episcopal archives here in Scotland, and its duplicate in America, and I read words which it is well to remember to-day: words which speak of the due maintenance |of the analogy of the common Faith once given to the Saints, and happily preserved in the Church of Christ|; which declare, in terms of unmistakable clearness, |that the spiritual authority and jurisdiction| of Christ's ministers |cannot be affected by any lay deprivation|; which provide, so far as provision could be made, for the full communion with the Church in Scotland of the newly consecrated bishop, his successors, and his diocese, a communion which, as this day's service so solemnly attests, has come to embrace not that single diocese alone, but the entire Church in the United States; words, finally, which pledge the bishop then sent forth, to endeavor, |by gentle methods of argument and persuasion,| to bring about a substantial agreement between the two Churches, in |the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist -- the principal bond of union among Christians, as well as the most solemn act of worship in the Christian Church.| How that pledge was, under the manifest and wonderful leadings of God's providence, fulfilled, not for one diocese, but for a national Church, our American Book of Common Prayer declares and will declare in all coming time.
I have spoken, fathers and brethren, of the past, for to it our thoughts naturally and chiefly direct themselves to-day. Its grand venture of faith, the brave hearts that made it, the generous givers of the precious gift, the undaunted receiver of the gift who bore it across the ocean -- for all he knew, to stormier seas than the Atlantic's billows -- these fill up the foreground of the picture on which our eyes are resting. As I turn from it, and from the figures of those venerable prelates who stand foremost in it, I remember (and I repeat, speaking for generations that have passed away and for generations that are to come) the words that were sent to them from hearts that burned with grateful love: |Wherever the American Episcopal Church shall be mentioned in the world, may this good deed which they have done for us be spoken of for a memorial of them!|
If, however, there is a past for which the deepest thankfulness is due, there is also a present which we may not forget, for in it our thankfulness, if it is real, must culminate. What a change has a century wrought for us! How unlike is 1884 to 1784! I do not much believe, my brethren, in numbering the people. I am sure that any boastful or vain-glorious numbering is but an evil thing. But surely when |a little one| has |become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation,| we may gratefully recognize the merciful guidance and blessing of the Lord, Who has |hastened it in his time.| In 1784, we see one single bishop of our communion, and one only, outside the realm of Great Britain and Ireland; and him with an unformed diocese and a future on which rested more clouds than sunshine. In 1884 time would fail him who should undertake to read the roll of regions occupied and churches organized. An American statesman once said, in words that have been often quoted, that England's drum-beat never ceased as it passed around the world. We can say that our English Te Deum, with its |Day by day we magnify Thee,| rolls round the world as well, in unceasing and ever- increasing volume.
Of the vast regions to which that solitary bishop went in 1785, there is no part or portion which is not now an organized diocese or a missionary jurisdiction, and the increase has been thirty, sixty, yea, an hundred-fold. Here the things that seemed ready to die have been so strengthened by Him |without Whom nothing is strong,| that a bright and blessed present points to an even brighter and more blessed future; while, if we look to that great Church from which our successions ultimately come, we find her outgoings and advances limited only by the limits of the world itself. In the name of her Lord and King she has indeed taken |the heathen for His inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for His possession.|
Shall we dare from such a past and such a present to look forward through the years of a coming century? Those years are in the hand of God, and what they may bring to us it is not for us to know, nor need we ask. But we do know this, and it is enough for us to know, that if these Churches, holding fast |the form of sound words,| and |holding forth the word of life,| shall rise to the full measure of their opportunities and duty, in sole reliance on the power of Him Who died and yet liveth for evermore; in services of holy worship; in the proclamation of the remission of sins in Jesus Christ; in the tradition of His holy sacraments; in faithful, loving ministries to the bodies and the souls of men; if they shall so strive, then they shall have a work given them to do in the latter days, before the view of which the heart dies down in awe, and the voice is hushed in unutterable thankfulness.
|Visions of glory, spare my aching sight;
Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul!|
One word remains to be uttered here -- the word of love and gratitude to this venerated Scottish Church, from the far-off Western world:
|O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces! For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will wish thee prosperity! Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good!|
* * * * *
A reception banquet was held on the afternoon of the same day, at which Bishop Williams replied to the toast of |The Church in America.|
On the eighth day of October, a large congregation being assembled in St. Andrew's Church for the opening service of the Synod of the Bishops of the Scottish Church, at the close of the processional hymn, the Rev. William F. Nichols presented to the Bishop of Aberdeen the memorial Paten and Chalice, the latter bearing this inscription: [Footnote: The Chalice stands eleven inches high, and is of massive silver. The base is broad and heavily moulded. From above the base mouldings spring eight arched panels. The front one contains a crucifix, the cross and the figure of our Lord being in full relief. In the panel to the left are the arms of the See of Connecticut, resting on branches of oak. In the one to the right are the arms of the Bishop of Aberdeen, encircled by branches of the thistle. In the panel opposite that containing the crucifix are the emblems of St. Peter and St. Paul. The remaining four panels are filled with the emblems of the four Evangelists. From this part of the base rises a richly moulded plinth, supporting the lower shaft, which is worked in diaper tracery. The knop of the shaft is encircled with eight elaborately wrought bosses, ornamented with garnets and sapphires in gold settings. Above the knop the shaft has simpler treatment, being worked with quatrefoils in square panels, all in relief. From this rises the bowl of the chalice, which shows solid gilt, enriched with an outer cup of delicately chased silver work, divided into eight sections, to correspond with those of the stem and of the foot. The section above the crucifix shows the Alpha and Omega, entwined by passion-flowers. The next one to the left contains the IHS, entwined with the grape-vine. The next one to the right contains the X P, with sheaves of wheat. Beginning with the panel next to the right of this, the several ones are filled as follows: -- the Greek cross with the thistle; next, the pelican with the rose of Sharon; next, the emblem of the Holy Trinity with the clover-leaf; next, the emblem of the Holy Ghost with olive branches; next, the crown of glory with palm branches. The Paten is enriched with a golden medallion on the rim, in the form of a vesica, which shows the Agnus Dei, executed in colored enamel.]
CONNECTICUT TO SCOTLAND.
A.D.1784 -- A.D.1884
A GRATEFUL MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD
OF THE EPISCOPATE AND THE EUCHARISTIC OFFICE
TRANSMITTED BY BISHOPS KILGOUR, PETRIE, AND SKINNER TO SEABURY AND THE CHURCH IN AMERICA.
Think upon them, our God, for good,
according to all that they have done for this people.
In making the presentation, Mr. Nichols spoke as follows:
My Lord Bishop: It has been delegated to me by some of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Connecticut -- not only those with whom it has been my privilege to share in the events of these ever-to- be-remembered days, but by many whose hearts are following us in all these services -- to place in your hands this Chalice and Paten, and to read the explanatory address. By the happy foresight which has characterized the preparations for the centenary celebration, there is placed on the wall of this holy place a copy of that Concordate in which the three Bishops of your Scottish Church and the first Bishop of our American Church plighted their troth. It was indeed a |great mystery|; it spoke concerning Christ and His Church. As I sat in this chancel on Sunday last, by one of those coincidences which I believe may occur for the eye of thankful faith as well as for the eye of sentiment, the sunlight which bathed your beautiful city with its warmth, so shone its colors through that south chancel window that at the beginning of the service they fell athwart the Concordate hanging on the opposite wall. Then, beginning at that, as the service went on, and as the sun circled its daily course, when the time came for the Consecration-prayer, the light fell upon the sacred vessels of the altar. So the sunlight took its way from the Concordate which the exigencies and circumstances of that far-off time demanded, to the symbols of that perpetual concordate which exists in the one body of Christ -- between the Head and the members, between the living members of that Body, between the living members and the members of that Body in Paradise. I could not but think that the brief course of the sunlight here might stand for the dial of the century gone. Exigencies and circumstances that are special, require special concordates. Both Churches then had them, and they framed that agreement. The century has led us around from those exigencies and circumstances to a condition of prosperity, in which the only thought need be of the supreme concordate in the Communion of the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May this Chalice and Paten, the symbols of the renewed troth of the Churches, be the symbols of all prosperity for both, as in the Master's work they enjoy |the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.|
Mr. Nichols then read the formal letter of presentation, as follows:
DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT. July, 1884.
To the Bishop of Aberdeen, representing the Church of Scotland:
The Diocese of Connecticut has formally expressed, through its official representatives, its appreciation of the courageous and intelligent action of your predecessors one hundred years ago. But it has seemed to a few of the clergy and laity, who are confident that they represent herein the general feeling of our people, that a further memorial may be fittingly presented; and we beg you to accept, to keep, and to transmit to your successors, this Chalice and Paten, as a token of our gratitude to you and to God for the two great benefits which through you, in His providence, have come to us. Those benefits are the Episcopate and the Eucharistic Office -- the former, to use the very words of your own Bishop Kilgour, |free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical;| the latter embodying features which are at once an expression and an earnest of those |catholic and primitive principles,| both doctrinal and liturgical, for which the Church of Scotland has long been distinguished, and to which she has pledged the Church in Connecticut.
The gift which we offer, right reverend Sir, is great only in what it thus symbolizes and the uses to which it is consecrated. In these vessels the memorial before God will be presented, and from them the sacrament of life and unity will be dispensed. May that memorial be graciously received whensoever, by whomsoever, and for whatsoever offered. May that sacrament of unity bind together in one, us the children, with them the fathers who kept that which was entrusted to them, committing it only to faithful men, and who, having departed this life with the seal of faith, do now rest in peace.
And may the Lord accept the sacrifices and intercessions of His people everywhere, and speedily accomplish the number of His elect, that we, the living, together with them, the departed, may be made perfect in His glorious and everlasting kingdom.
Faithfully and affectionately yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the unity of His Church,
JOHN J. McCOOK,
WM. F. NICHOLS, Committee.
E. E. BEARDSLEY, Chairman of the Meeting.
The Bishop of Aberdeen, in reply, said:
Right reverend father in God, my reverend brethren, and the whole Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, elect of God and precious, we receive these sacred vessels at your hands with such feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, both toward God who hath put this into your hearts, and toward yourselves, beloved in the Lord, as no utterance of our lips can ever express. In this beautiful Chalice and Paten, so graciously bestowed on us, we recognize, venerable father and dear brethren of the Church in Connecticut, the expression both of your faith toward God and of your love toward us. In this gift we behold the visible evidence of your faith in the promise of God that endureth from generation to generation: |When I see the blood I will pass over you,| and your trust in the assurance of His Holy Word: |The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ?| And here, too, is the evidence of your love toward us, in that ye long that we should be |partakers with you in the One Bread and One Body; for we are all partakers of that One Bread.| As we use these sacred gifts in our highest act of worship and nearest approach to God, we shall ever rejoice in the consciousness of your love toward us in the communion of saints, and that you share with us in the precious heritage of the great liturgy bequeathed to us by our fathers in the faith. Venerable father and dear brethren, these days of praise and thanksgiving to God and communion one with another, will assuredly leave their impression on the Church in America and Scotland for all eternity. Our Eucharistic worship to-day is surely blended with the same worship offered a hundred years ago by our fathers in God and your saintly predecessor in that humble upper chamber. May we who have knelt to-day in the unseen presence of our Divine Lord and Master, unite with them and with one another in the adoration of the unclouded glory of His visible presence for all eternity.
The Bishop of Aberdeen then proceeded with the Communion-service according to the English rite, being assisted by the Bishop of Edinburgh and the Bishop of Glasgow. The Paten and Chalice just presented were used in the consecration and administration of the sacred elements.
Divine Service being ended and the Synod having been duly constituted, after the Bishop of Connecticut had presented to the Synod an address from the Bishops of the American Church and a reply had been made by the Bishop of St. Andrews, presiding in the Synod, the Connecticut delegation presented the address from the Convention of their diocese, engrossed upon parchment, which was read by the Rev. Dr. Beardsley, as follows:
TO THE BISHOPS OF THE SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH: HEALTH AND GREETING IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. AMEN.
Right Reverend Fathers:
The Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut, in Convention assembled, send to you, by the hands of faithful brethren, these presents, in glad remembrance that your predecessors in office were moved, a hundred years ago, to raise and consecrate to the Order of Bishops the Reverend Samuel Seabury, Doctor in Divinity. We do honor to their fidelity to the Church of Christ and to the purity of their motives when they declared that they had |no other object in view but the interest of the Mediator's Kingdom, no higher ambition than to do their duty as messengers of the Prince of Peace.| By their act we received |the blessings of a free, valid, and purely ecclesiastical Episcopacy,| and our hitherto |inorganized Church| became duly equipped for the work it has since done and the witness it has borne.
The language of the clergy of Connecticut, when they acknowledged on the sixteenth day of September, Anno Domini 1785, with |the warmest sentiments of gratitude and esteem,| the pastoral letter addressed to them as a sequel to the consecration of their Bishop and the Concordate, may well be called to mind once more: |Greatly are we indebted to the venerable fathers for their kind and Christian interposition, and we heartily thank God that He did, of His mercy, put it into their hearts to consider and relieve our necessity. Our utmost exertions shall be joined with those of our Bishop to preserve the unity of faith, doctrine, discipline, and uniformity of worship with the Church from which we derived our Episcopacy, and with which it will be our praise and happiness to keep up the most intimate intercourse and communion.|
At that time the Catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland and the Church in this new world were in the dust. The one was suffering from public disabilities, and the other lay prostrate from the effects of war; its churches were dismantled, its congregations scattered, and but a remnant of its clergy and people could be found to build up again the broken walls. To-day all things wear a new look. You are working with better and brighter hopes than your predecessors could possibly have; and we can assure you that the expectations of our honored forefathers in the faith have been wonderfully fulfilled, so that the Church in Connecticut has become |a fair and fruitful branch of the Church universal.| Our clergy have increased tenfold, and our parishes have acquired both strength and public influence, and we stand to- day upon the old foundations and perpetuate the love of our early clergy and people for primitive truth and Apostolic order. The generations after us will never forget the debt of gratitude due to the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church for their helping hands in the day of our weakness and need; the bond of Christian fellowship sealed in the Concordate by your predecessors and our first Bishop will continue to be recognized and cherished, as it has been by our fathers.
Invoking the Divine blessing upon the Scottish Episcopal Church, and asking your prayers and benediction, we are, right reverend fathers, your dutiful servants in Christ Jesus.
In behalf of the Bishop, Clergy, and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut:
EDWIN HARWOOD, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven;
SAMUEL FERMOR JARVIS, M. A., Rector of Trinity Church, Brooklyn;
SAMUEL HART, M. A., Presbyter and Professor in Trinity College, Hartford;
WILLIAM T. MINOR, LL.D., Lay Delegate, St. John's Parish, Stamford;
JOHN C. HOLLISTER, M. A., Lay Delegate, St. Paul's Parish, New Haven.
Dated at New London, June 10th, A. D.1884.
The Bishop of St. Andrews read the following reply of the Synod to the address from the Diocese of Connecticut:
To the Right Reverend John Williams, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Connecticut, the Reverend the Clergy, and the faithful Laity of the Diocese, from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland in Synod assembled: Love and greeting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To receive any representatives of the American Church to-day and to accord them a hearty welcome must be a cause of sincere satisfaction to us; but in greeting you, dear brother, whom God has set over Seabury's own diocese of Connecticut, and those who accompany you as representing your flock, we experience a peculiar pleasure. For giving us the happiness of seeing you here to-day we thank you sincerely, and we thank the faithful of your diocese for providing that their Bishop, in now visiting the scene of his heroic predecessor's consecration, should not be unattended by some of their own number, whose presence should be expressive of the interest which they themselves feel in the event which we are commemorating, and also (as we are glad to believe) of their love towards the Church which gave them their first bishop.
|Connecticut,| said the saintly Bishop Alexander Jolly in his letter to the Bishop of Maryland in 1816, |has been a word of peculiar endearment to me since the happy day when I had the honour and joy of being introduced to the first ever-memorable bishop of that highly favored see, whose name ever excites in my heart the warmest veneration.|
The Scottish Church, dear brother, finds in these words a true expression of her own feelings -- feelings which the visit which we have |the honour and joy| of receiving to-day from so worthy a successor of Connecticut's first bishop, will serve to intensify for the future. You will the more readily therefore believe, brother, that the words of gratitude towards our Church, which, in your own name and in the name of your diocese, have just been spoken, must be in the highest degree gratifying to us.
We cordially unite with you in your expressions of thankfulness to Almighty God for the work which he has vouchsafed to carry out through the agency of those branches of His Church which you and we respectively represent.
We rejoice to hear of the vigorous life which the Church in your diocese has manifested in the remarkable growth which the past century has seen it make. We pray that it may continue to receive God's blessing in rich abundance, and bring forth much fruit to His glory.
We have a lively sense at the same time of our Lord's great mercy to ourselves in lifting us up from our poor and despised estate, in bringing us to comparative honour, and comforting us on every side.
We trust that through His grace the work, still future, for which He has been training and strengthening us through so many generations, may be thoroughly and faithfully done by us and by those who will come after us.
You allude approvingly to the Concordate drawn up and signed by Bishop Seabury on the one part and his consecrators on the other, which was, in the language of its framers, to serve as a |bond of union between the Catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland and the now rising Church in the State of Connecticut,| and you assure us that it |shall continue to be maintained and cherished by you, as it has been by your fathers.|
We have heard with gratification that the desire to be closely allied in the matter of similarity of offices with our own Church, which has prevailed in your diocese ever since the American liturgy was, under your first Bishop's influence, enriched by some of the most valuable of its present features, is still strongly felt by you.
That for all time to come we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify the one and only God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is our hearty prayer and our confident hope.
To His love and blessing we commend you.
CHARLES WORDSWORTH, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane;
HENRY COTTERILL, Bishop of Edinburgh;
WM. S. WILSON, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway;
HUGH W. JERMYN, Bishop of Brechin;
ARTHUR G. DOUGLAS, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney;
J. R. A. CHINNERY-HALDANE, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles;
For the Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, Primus, ROBERT A. EDEN, M. A., Commissary.|
[Seal of the Primus attached.]
Before the synod proceeded to business, the Bishop of Aberdeen presented to the Bishop of Connecticut a Pastoral Staff, the gift of Scotch Churchmen to him and his successors in office, with these words: [Footnote: The Staff is of ebony, the upper part being of silver parcel gilt. The crook proper has for its central subject our Lord's charge to St Peter, who kneels at the Saviour's feet. The pierced side of our Lord is significantly seen, as the drapery falls open. A vine is growing up behind Him bearing grapes (expressed by precious stones), and gathered at His feet are sheep and lambs. The ornamental work of the crook takes the form of thistle-leaves -- in allusion to the Scotch origin of the gift -- and the bossy flowers are expressed by cut amethysts. The crook is hexagonal in plan; the tower which surmounts the canopied niches immediately below the crook also takes the same shape, and accommodates the six figures introduced. This hexagonal tower has Gothic tracery, with pinnacles, pillars, and canopies, enriched with cairngorms. The figures (St. John, St. Andrew, St. Ninian, St. Augustine of Canterbury, Primus Kilgour, and Bishop Seabury) represented in the niches, are intended to illustrate the main points in the Episcopal succession and the characteristics of the Scottish Church. The tower is supported upon a carved capital with six amethysts between repousse oak-leaves, and is jointed to a circular boss surrounded with four vertical bands enriched with cairngorms, while between the bands are carbuncles set off by filigree work. There are also silver bosses at the joints of the ebony portions of the staff.]
No words of mine can convey to you the feelings of gratitude which animated the hearts of all Scottish Churchmen when they heard of your remarkable kindness in coming to our shores at this time to celebrate with us our service of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessing He has bestowed upon the work of our fathers. As a small testimony to their venerable father and to the Church of his diocese, they ask Bishop Williams to accept this pastoral staff. May I point out that there are portrayed on this staff figures which represent the history of the Church in this land, and therefore a great chapter in the history of the American Church. You will find on the staff the figure of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland; you will find also the figure of St. John, reminding you that Christianity reached Scotland from Eastern sources; you will find the figure of St. Ninian, uniting the Scottish succession and ministry with the Celtic Church; and you will find the figure of St. Augustine, signifying that act of brotherly love and communion which we received from the English Church, restoring to us the Episcopacy which in troublous times had been lost; you will also find the figure of that Primus of the Church who was the chief consecrating bishop of your venerable Seabury, and you will find also the figure of Seabury himself. In the head of this staff you will recognize the figure of the great Head of the Church giving His divine commission to St. Peter and to all others ordained and consecrated to the same sacred office: 'Feed my sheep; feed my lambs.' I will rejoice to think that this staff, which you and your successors will carry on your confirmations and visitations and other episcopal acts, by reminding you of the sanctuary where we have just now held our great service to God, and of the figure of the Good Shepherd which stands over its altar, will not only recall to you the pastoral work in which it is your high office and privilege ever to minister, but will encourage you to seek also the blessing and the favour of the chief Bishop and Pastor of souls. In now presenting you with this emblem of your sacred office, as I have the privilege of doing on behalf of the Scottish Church, I may mention that many of the offerings that have been given towards it have been the pence of the very poorest in the land.
Bishop Williams, in acknowledging the presentation, said:
There are times and things concerning which words utterly fail and must fail to give utterance to the feelings of the heart, and this, let me say, is one of those times -- a day that I can never forget, a day for which -- though most unworthy of what has been given me -- I must always feel the devoutest thankfulness to Almighty God. A hundred years ago you gave my great predecessor here in Scotland the office of Bishop in the Church of God, and now this day, a hundred years after, in the fulness of your loving hearts and kindly remembrances of that great act, you give Bishop Seabury's successor the sacred symbol of the same high office in the Church. I only wish it were given to worthier hands; but I can pledge myself to this, that to my successors as they follow me year after year, and, if God so wills, century after century, the staff will be handed down as a most sacred deposit and memorial. It will drop from many a hand before another hundred years go by and another gathering takes place here in this place of sacred memories, but the office of which the staff is the symbol -- that office, I thank God, never dies. Men pass away, the office lives on; and though many hands that shall have held this staff may by that time be folded in the sleep of death, I trust that when the hundred years come round again, my successor may come here, as I, Bishop Seabury's successor, have come, to offer to the Bishops of the Scottish Church, to its clergy, and its faithful laity, the assurance of his deep love and undying gratitude that they were bound together in one common bond of one holy faith, and in a common love of one living Lord and of each other. I trust that that day will show the whole world, as this day has done, |how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.|
On the afternoon of the same day a conference was held in the Albert Hall, at which the Rev. Dr. Beardsley read the following paper:
SEABURY AS A BISHOP.
A great deal has been said within the last week -- never too much, I trust -- of that grand man who left the shores of America a century ago, and came to the mother country in quest of a spiritual gift which, for reasons of state, was refused him by the Bishops of the Church of England.
In the providence of God, and under instructions from the clergy of Connecticut, who selected and sent him over, he found his way to Aberdeen, and was here duly raised to the Apostolic office, and so became the head of an anxious and long-waiting body, as well as the first Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
The many blessings which have flowed from this act of consecration by the Scottish Bishops have been recognized and recounted again and again, and it is not my purpose to dwell on them now; but rather to speak of that part of the life of Seabury which covers the exercise of his Episcopal office.
But before I proceed to do this, let me step back for a few moments under the arches of history, and make two or three references to show that our Church in America is indebted to Scotland, and especially to Aberdeen, for other favors besides the gift of Episcopacy. You gave us men who were great historic pioneers in our ecclesiastical existence. The Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was chartered in 1701, and for three-quarters of a century its chief field of labor was in New England. This fact may be ignored, but it forms an important and salient feature in its early history; and what is remarkable, the very first missionary sent out by the Society to the American colonies was a native of Aberdeen, George Keith, a school companion of the celebrated Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, whom he mentions in his |History of his own Time.| And then that wonderfully numerous tribe or family, which always has its representatives in every Christian country of the wide world, furnished us William Smith, born on the banks of the river Dee, not far from this city, a man with glaring imperfections of character, but a scholar and a divine, who knelt side by side with Seabury in the chapel of Fulham Palace when they were admitted to Holy Orders, and who subsequently became a conspicuous actor in the organization and establishment of our American Church, having been the first President of the House of Deputies, and having guided that body to concurrence with the House of Bishops in revising the Book of Common Prayer and accepting the Scotch Communion-office. We might not have had this office in its present shape had he not risen to favor its adoption when signs of dissatisfaction and a disposition to reject it appeared.
Still again we are indebted to another native of Aberdeenshire, known in our history as William Smith the younger, who went to America soon after the acknowledgment of American Independence, being in Holy Orders which he received in Scotland, and, having served the Church for a time in other States of our Republic, appeared in Connecticut, and held important educational and parochial positions in that diocese. The office for the Institution or Induction of Ministers into parishes or churches, set forth in our Book of Common Prayer, was compiled by him. He was a man of much learning, ardent temperament, and quick impulses. He possessed singular versatility of talents, was a composer of church music, and a constructor of church organs. He was a pioneer in our country in chanting, and did us good service in overcoming or diminishing the popular love for a Puritan style of metrical psalm-singing.
Men of this stamp went to America when our Church was in, or passing through, a broken and disordered condition, and we have reason to be thankful to them for the aid they rendered us when we were sorely in need. I believe we are thankful. I believe there is a growing interest among our people in the Scottish Church, an increasing desire that Churches of the one faith -- English, Scotch, Irish, and American -- should have a closer bond of fellowship, and rejoice more heartily in each other's prosperity. It is a good thing that we have come together on this centennial occasion and mingled our congratulations. As we have met here face to face, we have learned to respect ourselves more, and, I hope, to love and respect each other more.
But let me leave these references, and draw your thoughts around Seabury in his Episcopal character. On the morning of a bleak November Sunday in 1784 we enter an |upper room| in Longacre, built and fitted for Divine worship, and find there three of the four bishops then administering the dioceses of the Scottish Church; and after prayers and a suitable sermon, they proceed to consecrate this self-sacrificing servant of God to the Apostolic office. Though the penal laws enacted against the clergy of the Scottish Church had not yet been repealed, their edge had worn away, or they had ceased altogether to be enforced, so that the service was in no manner secret. It was witnessed by a number of respectable clergymen, and a large body of laity, |on which occasion all testified great satisfaction.| As the letter of Consecration reads: Presentibus tam e Clero quam e Populo Testibus idoneis. The occasion was a memorable and particularly solemn one. Seabury himself said of it: |It was the most solemn day of all my life -- God grant I may never forget it.|
He preached in the afternoon of the day of his consecration, and his earnestness and manner of address, accompanied with gesticulations, which appear not to have been common in Scotland at that period, made a favorable impression. On his return to London, he stopped at Edinburgh, where his friend and fellow- sufferer in the trials of the American Revolution, Dr. Myles Cooper, with others, welcomed him, and gave him hearty congratulations on the accomplishment of his mission. From this city, he wrote to the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, vicar of Epsom in Surrey, who had interested himself in his application, to acquaint him, as he had promised to do, with the success of his visit to Scotland. |The Church in Connecticut,| said he, |has only done her duty in endeavoring to obtain the Episcopacy for herself, and I have only done my duty in carrying her endeavors into execution. Political reasons prevented her application from being complied with in England. It was natural in the next instance to apply to Scotland, whose Episcopacy, though now under a cloud, is the very same in every ecclesiastical sense with the English.|
He had grown up and lived hitherto under the influence of the highest veneration for the Church of England, and his attachment to her was still strong, notwithstanding he considered it bad policy that his application for consecration had been rejected by the English Bishops. He began to fear, however, that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel might cease to aid him, which would be a result to be deplored for other than pecuniary reasons. |Should the Society itself,| said he, |be obliged to take such a step, though I shall be sorry for it and hurt by it, I shall not be dejected. If my father and mother forsake me, if the governors of the Church and the Society discard me, I shall still be that humble pensioner of Divine Providence which I have been through my whole life. God, I trust, will take me up, continue His goodness to me, and bless my endeavors to serve the cause of His infant Church in Connecticut. I trust that it is not the loss of 50 pounds per annum that I dread -- though that is an object of some importance to a man who has nothing -- but the consequences that must ensue, the total alienation of regard and affection.|
His path was not yet cleared of trials and perplexities, for on reaching London he found those high in authority so dissatisfied with the step he had taken that they pronounced it precipitate. |Since my return from Scotland,| said he in his first pastoral letter to the clergy of Connecticut, |I have seen none of the bishops, but I have been informed that the step I have taken has displeased the two Archbishops, and it is now a matter of doubt whether I shall be continued on the Society's list. The day before I set out on my northern journey I had an interview with each of the Archbishops, when my design was avowed, so that the measure was known, though it has made no noise. My own poverty is one of the greatest discouragements I have. Two years' absence from my family, and expensive residence here, have more than expended all I had. But in so good a cause, and of such magnitude, something must be risked by somebody. To my lot it has fallen; I have done it cheerfully, and despair not of a happy issue.|
All his apprehensions in regard to aid were realized, though he wrote a most admirable letter to the Venerable Society giving a concise history of his mission to England, and making a pathetic appeal for future remembrance and consideration. After a delay of two months, it was acknowledged by the Secretary without recognizing his official character, being addressed |To the Rev. Dr. Seabury, New London, Connecticut.| He was told that his case was comprehended under the general rule, that the charter would not allow the Society to |employ any missionaries except in the plantations, colonies, and factories belonging to the Kingdom of Great Britain.|
Bishop Seabury received from the British Government 50 pounds per annum half-pay as a chaplain in the King's American regiment during the War of the Revolution; and a few of his fast friends in England -- among them Dr. Horne, then Dean of Canterbury, Rev. Jonathan Boucher, and William Stevens, Esq. -- associated themselves together and engaged to send him annually 50 pounds from the date of his arrival in Connecticut. This engagement was faithfully kept to the day of his death, and was an equivalent for the stipend which had been withdrawn by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
His preparations for returning to America were now completed, and early in March, 1785, he embarked in a ship commanded by Captain Dawson, which sailed from London for Halifax. His main object in going by the way of Nova Scotia was to see the situation of that part of his family then resident in that neighborhood. He is recorded as officiating at Annapolis Royal, April, 1785, and was, therefore, the first bishop of our Church who preached in the Dominion of Canada. Mention is also made of his preaching several Sundays in St. John, New Brunswick, where a daughter with her husband was living at the time.
He landed at Newport, Rhode Island, after a voyage of three months, including his stay in Canada, Monday, June 2Oth; and the next Sunday he preached in Trinity Church in that place, the first sermon of an American bishop in the United States, from the text (Hebrews xii. I, 2): |Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.|
More than half a century prior to this, a great dignitary of the Church of England, Dean Berkeley, after a voyage of nearly five months from Gravesend, arrived at the same port, and preached many times in the same church, which is still standing. The missions of these men had many points of resemblance; but while one, after a trial of more than two years and a half, failed to accomplish his heroic object, and returned to the land of his birth to be honored with a mitre in the see of Cloyne, the other was blessed in his work, and lived to behold the Church in America united in the adoption of a revised liturgy, and settled upon the old |foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone.|
The next step of Bishop Seabury was to arrange for a meeting with his clergy, and he wrote immediately to the Rev. Mr. Jarvis, who had acted as their secretary, and invited him to New London to consult with him on the time and place. It was held in Middletown on the 2d of August, 1785 -- a meeting full of joy to both parties -- and the clergy, in their address of congratulation and formal recognition, said among other things: |We, in the presence of Almighty God, declare to the world, that we do unanimously accept, receive, and recognize you to be our Bishop, supreme in the government of the Church, and in the administration of all ecclesiastical offices. And we do solemnly engage to render you all that respect, duty, and submission, which we believe do belong and are due to your high office, and which, we understand, were given by the presbyters to their bishop in the primitive Church, while in her native purity she was unconnected with and uncontrolled by any secular power.|
The Bishop opened his reply to this address with hearty thanks to the clergy for their kind congratulations on his safe return, and cordially united with them in their joy for the accomplishment of the important business which he had been excited to undertake. His first ordination was held on this occasion, and steps were taken to make such changes in the liturgy as might be necessary to adapt it to the use of the Church in the new civil relations. But what added to the interest and significance of the occasion was the charge which he delivered to the clergy, so valuable both in its teachings and its connection with American Episcopacy. The three points which he enlarged upon in it were the obligations they were under to be very careful of |the doctrines which they preached from the pulpit or inculcated in conversation|; to be cautious about giving recommendations to candidates for Holy Orders, whose moral character, learning, and abilities were not only to be exactly inquired into, but their good temper, prudence, diligence, and everything by which their usefulness in the ministry might be affected. |A clergyman,| said he, |who does no good always does hurt; there is no medium.| The third point of the charge was upon the necessity of immediate attention to that old and sacred rite handed down by the primitive Church, the laying-on of hands in Confirmation -- a rite which, for want of the proper officer to administer it, had hitherto been unused in the American Church.
Seabury had the double work of a bishop and a parish minister, being rector of the church in New London, and meeting its demands with the aid of one of his newly-ordained deacons. His entrance upon the public duties of his Episcopal office in Connecticut had been looked forward to with much curiosity and some prejudice by those outside of the Church. The old Puritan dread of a hierarchy, instilled into the popular mind before the independence of the Colonies, still lingered, and helped to foster the expectation that he would assume great dignity, and appear in a degree of external splendor. There was disappointment in this respect when he began the visitation of his diocese in the simplest and most primitive manner, riding on horseback or in a sulky over rough and circuitous roads, and through regions sparsely inhabited. A plain yeoman, who had never seen a bishop in his robes, and knew not how he would appear in officiating, took an early opportunity to gratify his curiosity and attend a service where he was to preach. The next morning a neighbor, who had not the boldness to follow his example, met him, and asked him what he thought of Bishop Seabury. |Was he proud?| he inquired. |Proud! Bless you, no!| was the reply. |Why, he preached in his shirt-sleeves!|
Beyond the labor of regulating and settling the Church in Connecticut upon right principles, Bishop Seabury was especially anxious that the whole Church in the United States should be so guided as to prevent any division in government, doctrine, and discipline. A Convention was about to be held in Philadelphia to adopt an ecclesiastical constitution and make application for bishops in the English line of succession; and he asked, through Dr. Smith, and renewed the expression of his sentiments in a letter to Dr. (afterwards Bishop) White a few days later, that that body would reconsider certain measures which it had hastily adopted, and which seemed to indicate a forgetfulness that |the government, sacraments, faith, and doctrines of the Church are fixed and settled.| Among his words of wisdom and kindness to Dr. Smith were these: |My ground is taken, and I wish not to extend my authority beyond its present limits. But I do most earnestly wish to have our Church in all the States so settled that it may be one Church, united in government, doctrine, and discipline -- that there may be no divisions among us -- no opposition of interests -- no clashing of opinions. And permit me to hope that you will at your approaching Convention so far recede in the points I have mentioned as to make this practicable. Your Convention will be large and very much to be respected. Its determinations will influence many of the American States, and posterity will be materially affected by them. These considerations are so many arguments for calm and cool deliberation. Human passions and prejudices, and, if possible, infirmities, should be laid aside. A wrong step will be attended with dreadful consequences. Patience and prudence must be exercised; and should there be some circumstances that press hard for a remedy, hasty decisions will not mend them. In doubtful cases they will probably have a bad effect.|
The action of the Convention in setting forth what is known in American ecclesiastical history as |The Proposed Book| only made him adhere more resolutely to the convictions of his intelligent mind; and his clergy stood by him, and supported him in the sound principles which he maintained. |Depend not on rumors,| said one of them, writing to a friend; |the clergy in Connecticut are well pleased with their bishop, and will run the risk of a disunion with the Southern gentry rather than forsake him, if he will stay with us. We hope, however, better things than that.| And better things did come to pass. Attempts to cast discredit upon the validity of his consecration, initiated and persisted in mainly by those opposed to him on political grounds, were met in a manly and Christian spirit, and he took the necessary steps to frustrate them without using harsh words or doing more than state simple facts. His second and last formal Charge to his clergy, delivered September, 1786, whether considered in reference to the unbelief of the times, or to the movement of the clergy and laity in the Southern States to revise and alter the liturgy and government of the Church, is a production of remarkable forecast and wisdom. At this time he set forth a Communion-office, agreeably to the terms of the Concordate made with the Scottish bishops, which gradually went into use in the diocese, and traces of this particular office lingered in Connecticut for half a century. When the union of the Church in all the States was consummated in 1789, and the first real General Convention held in that year, consisting of a House of Bishops and a House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, entered upon a review of the Book of Common Prayer, the proposition to insert the Scottish form of consecration was accepted and approved, the words only |That they may become the Body and Blood of Thy most dearly beloved Son,| being omitted, and those in the English office substituted.
There were now three bishops in the American Church, and efforts were made to bring them together in the consecration of a fourth, but without avail. Bishops White and Provoost considered themselves under an implied obligation not to join in any consecration until there should be the actual number of three in the English line of succession. Provoost was absent from the Convention of 1789, when the Prayer-Book was revised, and Seabury, being the senior, was made the President of the Upper House. He and Bishop White spent no time in speeches, but looked carefully at each point as it came into view. With minds and characters differently constituted and moulded, they were just the men to be brought together in such an emergency. One was frank and fearless in adhering to his settled convictions, and resolute in upholding the faith and preserving the ancient landmarks of the Church, but not so self-willed and tenacious of his opinions that he could not gracefully relinquish them where no essential principle was involved. The other had a less rigid temperament, and from natural kindness of heart, and perhaps personal inclination, he might have been led without this check to yield to the pressure of circumstances at the expense of a true conservatism. Bishop White, however, was not more gentle and generous than capable of appreciating the character of his Episcopal brother; and the testimony which he bore long years after was that he |had ever retained a pleasing recollection of the interviews of that period, and of the good sense and Christian temper of the person with whom he was associated.|
In 1792 another General Convention was held, and Bishop Seabury preached the sermon, which was printed by the request of both Houses, and glowed with the true spirit of Christian love, with that perfect and comprehensive charity which tends to preserve the peace and unity of the Church under all possible circumstances.
By this time James Madison had been sent over and consecrated, in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace, Bishop of Virginia; and thus the question of having three bishops in America of the English succession before proceeding to consecrate, was put to rest.
The Church in Maryland elected the Rev. Dr. Thomas John Claggett its bishop, and deputies from that State appeared with him at this General Convention, and, with the necessary documents in hand, presented him to the House of Bishops, |requesting that his consecration might be expedited.| It was a movement intended to unite Episcopalians more closely together by blending the two lines of succession and for ever preventing the possibility of a question arising in the American Church as to the relative validity of the English and Scotch Episcopacy. For the application to consecrate Dr. Claggett was not made to those only who received their authority in the Chapel at Lambeth, but the whole four were requested to join in the act, which was solemnized in Trinity Church, New York, Monday, September 17, 1792; and from that day not a bishop has been consecrated in this Church who cannot claim the succession, in part at least, through the Scottish Episcopate.
An incident connected with the consecration ought not to be withheld here, for it shows the man and his Christian spirit. It had been agreed at the last General Convention that the eldest bishop present -- to be reckoned from his consecration -- should be President of the House, and this rule, if unchanged, would have left Seabury to preside at the consecration. But the agreement seemed to be displeasing to Bishops Provoost and Madison, and it was proposed by them that the presidency should go by rotation, beginning from the north, which would take it away from him and give it to Provoost. |I had no inclination,| says Seabury, |to contend who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore readily consented to relinquish the presidency into the hands of Bishop Provoost. I thank God for His grace on this occasion, and beseech Him that no self-exaltation or envy of others may ever lead me into debate and contention, but that I may ever be willing to be the least when the peace of His Church requires it.|
Great duties were now resting upon him, for besides Connecticut he virtually had the oversight of all the Episcopal parishes in New England; and in 1790 those in Rhode Island met in Convention and formally declared him to be the bishop of the Church in that State. This necessitated long journeys and long absences from his home, and the only compensation for lack of speed and comfort in the modes of conveyance at that period was the cheerful hospitality which everywhere awaited him. In moving about from place to place he was the Christian bishop and the agreeable companion as well. His familiarity with subjects outside of theology, and his ready retort upon those who attempted now and then to draw the Church or his office into ridicule, were pleasant features of his life, treasured and handed down to us by the generation to which he belonged.
On the occasion of his first visit to Boston he called on Dr. Mather Byles, then living in retirement, who, though a Congregational divine, was yet a sturdy loyalist during the Revolution, and had a son who entered the ministry of the Church of England and was proscribed and banished for entertaining the political views of his father. Dr. Byles was a noted wit, and so ready with his puns and sarcasms that seldom did anyone try to match him in this line without coming off the worse for the conflict. When Seabury paid him the compliment of a visit, he received him very cordially, and said, with a mixture of irony: |I am happy to see in my old age a bishop on this side the Atlantic, and I hope you will not refuse to give me the right hand of fellowship.| To which the Bishop replied: |As you are a left-handed brother, I think fit to give you my left hand,| which he accordingly did. The conversation soon turned upon the general subject of the Church, and it being St. Mark's day, and public service as usual, the doctor inquired: |Why is it that you churchmen still keep up the old Romish practice of worshipping saints?| |We do not worship saints,| was the quick reply; |we only thank God that the Church has had such worthy advocates, and pray Him to give us hearts and strength to follow their example.| |Aye,| exclaimed the other, |I know you are fond of traditions; but I trust we have now many good saints here in our Church, and, for my part, I would rather have one living saint than half-a- dozen dead ones.| |Maybe so,| rejoined the Bishop, |for I suppose you are of the same mind with Solomon, who said that 'a living dog is better than a dead lion.'|
Enough has been said in this paper to show the admirable spirit of Seabury all through his Episcopate. |Forgetting those things which were behind, he reached forth to those before|; and if assailed for the part he took in the war of the Revolution, he let his conscientious pursuit of what he believed to be right at the time pass into history without apology or vindication. He aimed to promote peace among his brethren, and was lenient in dealing with their prejudices. One venerable presbyter of his diocese, supported by his people, was reluctant to adopt the revised Prayer-Book, and he wrote him a kind letter, and said in it: |The question is not which book is the best in itself, but which will best promote the peace and unity of the Church. Such was the temper of the people to the southward, that unity could not be had with the old book. Is not, then, the unity of the whole Church through the States a price sufficient to justify the alterations which have been made, supposing (and in this I believe you will join with me) that there is no alteration made but what is consistent with the analogy of the Christian faith? Let me, therefore, entreat you as a father to review this matter, and I have no doubt but that you will join with your brethren, and walk by the same rule in your public ministrations. This will rejoice their hearts, and mine also. May God be your director in all things, and grant that we may meet together in His own heavenly kingdom.|
Signs of failing health began to appear, and symptoms of a paralytic nature came upon him, without seriously interrupting his duties. His sound and vigorous constitution, and his unimpaired mental faculties, afforded encouragement to believe that his life might be prolonged for years. This was in 1795. Late in the month of February of the next year, |Mr. Jarvis of Middletown was sitting before the fire,| so says an eye-witness, |his wife near him, engaged in some domestic employment, and his little son playing about the room. A messenger entered with a letter, sealed with black wax, and handed it to Mr. Jarvis in silence. He opened it, and his hand shook like an aspen-leaf. His wife, in great alarm, hastened to him, and his son crept between his knees and looked up inquiringly into his face. He could not speak for some moments. At last he said, slowly and convulsively: 'Bishop Seabury is dead.'|
In the evening of Thursday, the 25th of February, he walked with his daughter to the house of one of his wardens. He complained, when there, of an extreme pain in his breast, and at the moment of rising and retiring from the tea-table, fell in an apoplectic fit, and expired in forty minutes after entering the house.
He was buried from the church on Sunday; and this circumstance, and the impediments of travelling at that season of the year, joined with the few facilities for conveying intelligence, prevented the clergy of the diocese from gathering in mourning and sorrow around his grave. A single clergyman attended his funeral and preached a sermon.
Thus one who was a little more than eleven years a bishop, and who has filled the American Church and your Scottish Church with the memory of his worth, rises and stands before us in history to-day. What would he have thought and said, if he could have cast his vision forward a century, and comprehended the contrast between the gathering in the upper room in Longacre and the vastly greater gathering here now, to express devout thankfulness for an act which has been blessed of God to the good of so many souls! From the then poor see of Connecticut, to which he was going in faith and hope, have come his third successor in that see and a company of clerical brethren, to represent its present strength and zeal, and at the same time to show that we keep ever fresh in our remembrance the gift that we received, and are glad to join with others in congratulating you most heartily on the prospect of yet brighter days for your own Scottish Church.
Professor George Grub, LL.D., then read a paper on The Relations of the American and Scottish Churches; after which Bishop Williams and others spoke.
The exercises of the commemoration were concluded with a large and enthusiastic meeting in the evening at the Music Hall.
After his return to Connecticut, the Bishop received from the Clergy and Trustees of St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, a letter, beautifully engrossed upon parchment and illuminated, in the following words:
The Clergy and Trustees of St. Andrew's Church, Aberdeen, to the Right Reverend John Williams, D.D., Bishop of Connecticut. Right Reverend Father in God:
It would have given us unfeigned pleasure, as the representatives of the congregation in which your great predecessor was consecrated and in which the centenary commemoration of that happy event was celebrated, to have expressed to you and your accompanying delegates, on the occasion of your memorable visit in October, the pride with which we cherish the links that bind us to the Church of America. Sensible, however, of the incessant demands made upon your time on every day of the festival, we postponed the expression of our feelings until the approach of Christmas, when we might add to the salutations of the season our congratulations upon your safe arrival in your own diocese, a prosperous termination of your visit to Scotland for which we both publicly prayed and gave thanks to Almighty God.
Right Reverend Father, we beg you now to accept the assurance of veneration and respect with which your presence inspired us, and of gratitude for your fatherly counsel and encouragement to us and our fellow-churchmen; and we further pray you to receive the accompanying photographs of St. Andrew's, to remind you of a church so closely associated with the history of your own See.
We beg to subscribe ourselves, Right Reverend Father,
Your faithful servants in Christ,
J. M. DANSON, M. A., Incumbent of St. Andrew's;
ROBERT MACKAY, M. A., Curate;
JAMES CHIVAS, Church-warden and Canonical Lay Representative;
JAMES THOMSON, Church-warden and Trustee;
R. B. HORNE, Trustee and Lay Representative;
H. T. PATERSON, Trustee;
ALEX'R WALKER, Trustee;
JAS. TURREFF, Trustee;
JAMES TAYLOR, Secretary.
SIT DOMINUS DEUS NOSTER NOBISCUM, SICUT FUIT CUM PATRIBUS NOSTRIS.