BY THE BISHOP,
AT HIS SECOND VISITATION, ON THE FEAST OF ST. MATTHEW, 1847.
The delay in printing this Charge has arisen solely from want of time to correct the manuscript. Every day has brought with it some fresh and pressing duty, which I hope will plead my excuse. In reviewing the manuscript I have been enabled to add a few notes in confirmation or explanation of my views. In other respects the Charge is the same as when you delivered VIVA VOCE, and it is submitted to you in the same spirit in which it was delivered -- in earnest hope and with fervent prayer that it may be both useful and acceptable to you.
Reverend and dear Brethren,
Your affectionate brother and servant,
Bermuda, April 3, 1849.
/5/ MY REVEREND BRETHREN,
When I met and addressed you for the first time three years ago, I could only counsel and confer with you generally on the duties of your sacred office; and chiefly on that department which (however interesting and important in itself) requires, and allows, the least consideration of circumstances -- the public Service of the Church. While, from my very short and imperfect acquaintance with yourselves and your Missionary labours, I felt incompetent to offer you any special instructions or admonitions suited to your peculiar state; I trusted that both study and experience had qualified me to propound to you the way of order and uniformity in the public prayers and administration of the Sacraments, as prescribed and practised in our dear mother Church. Moreover the time of my arrival among you was marked by much and anxious enquiry on the subject of Rubrical conformity; and I professed myself of the number of those who believed that a stricter adherence to the rules and Rubric of our Prayer-Book was the safe, and only sure (I did not say speedy) method to prevent distraction and disputation; and to preserve, or bring back, in our solemn assemblies, a Godly order and discipline. I was unwilling to suffer the first opportunity to pass, without making known to you my sentiments and inviting your concurrence in them; not as being new, or newly formed, but, as I conceived, exhibiting and upholding the way of /6/ our fathers and reformers in our ancient National Church. While I am now ready to declare that I do not repent of having drawn your attention to that subject, and that I hardly know how I could have occupied it more suitably and profitably, I may remind those who think otherwise, that, on that occasion, as I have shown you, to comment on your peculiar state and circumstances was hardly open to me, without appearing precipitate, not to say presumptuous.
An interval of three years spent in anxious endeavours to know and be known among you, during which I have visited all your Missions and Churches, ascertained your plans and employments, seen and shared (at least in spirit) your special difficulties and discouragements, so different in many respects from those of our brethren in the green pastures and beside the still waters of our dear Mother Church at home: -- such an interval of time, so spent and improved, will, I trust, qualify me, as it powerfully constrains me, to suggest topics of more immediate interest and concern to yourselves and the congregations committed to your charge. The same consideration, I mean, of our intercourse and mutual knowledge, will not, I venture to hope, indispose you to receive, and interpret favourably, my suggestions and recommendations. My aim shall be simply and sincerely, as before, to make the results of my own observation and experience useful to you, and to those whose servants we are for Christ's sake.
But before we proceed to look forward and consult for the future, it seems due to you and to myself to notice the chief events of importance to the Church in this country (and indeed they are many) crowded in this brief interval.
/7/ I would be permitted in the first place to advert to some circumstances consequent upon, or connected with, my former charge. I have already remarked that I do not repent of having on that occasion directed your attention to the rule of order and uniformity in the Services of the Church, as a subject of paramount and special importance: and I will now venture to add, that I do not repent of the instructions I then gave you, either in themselves, or for their results. My opinions were not lightly formed, or hastily propounded, and I have seen no reason either to alter them, or wish them unknown. It is very true that the few changes I recommended, in order to bring our practice into nearer conformity to our rules, were not so generally accepted by the Clergy as I desired; and, partly in consequence of this want of concurrence, did not, where attempted, succeeded in gaining on the part of the congregations general approval. I cannot doubt but if all the Clergy had acquiesced in my views, (which, I must again remind you, were strictly in accordance with the rules and Rubrics of our Prayer-Book, and in no respect of my own choice or discovery, nor yet other men's theories and inventions,) their congregations also would have more generally acquiesced; and a nearer approximation to order and uniformity have been attained and maintained. In venturing this remark, I pray not to be interpreted as hinting any condemnation or censure of such among you, as did not adopt my recommendations or wishes; for they were but wishes and recommendations -- nothing more. I did not conceal from myself, or from you, that the alterations suggested in your manner of conducting the sacred Service, (though not at variance with the rule of our Prayer-Book or ancient practice, but the reverse,) /8/ were not, by any means, of universal reception at home. I could hardly then have been justified in pressing their adoption here; neither was I, or could I, in charity or reason, be displeased with those who hesitated to adopt them. And I can safely and sincerely appeal to them, and, if it were right and necessary, to a higher tribunal, whether in reference to such hesitation or refusal on their part, I have ever acted (whatever I may have felt) differently towards them.
That liberty which was granted or left to you I found of service to myself, when I did, however reluctantly, allow or not prevent a retrograde movement: when some changes, which had been introduced on my recommendation, were again abandoned in this place. None of you, I presume, can be ignorant, how after some months' cheerful acquiescence, as it seemed, on the part of the congregation in the old Church of this Parish, a sudden and strenuous opposition arose. And it must be equally well known that I advised, or at least allowed concessions contrary to my own views and former recommendations, and readily acquiesced in them when made. I believed that the spirit which had been evoked by newspapers and other publications at home, was not likely to be quieted on other terms; and I could not bear to offend even the weakest brother by fostering a presumption, or suspicion of INNOVATING in matters of doctrine or discipline. It would, we may presume, have been sufficient, in happier times, to have shown that we did but desire an order and uniformity according to the rules of our Service; and that, instead of taking liberty to alter and innovate, we did but return to the stricter and closer observance of the Church's laws. But here was indeed the grievance; -- it was the return /9/ to a written rule, it was the appeal to law and authority that galled and terrified ill-instructed and ill- disciplined people. I feel satisfied that many of those who complained of the Prayer for the Church-militant regularly used (as our Church expressly enjoins) after the Sermon, would have been well content to listen to an extempore prayer, or a prayer of private invention, in the same place. What is the fact? While they objected to the Prayer for the Church-militant which the Church prescribes, they demanded a prayer before the Sermon, where our Church prescribes none, and where the Clergyman, as the practice now is, uses this or that Collect, or any form which he thinks convenient and suitable. It was this very liberty which was so abused, to the most shameful purposes, at the Great Rebellion: when in the Prayer before the Sermon the Puritan preachers launched forth into censures of the Government both in Church and State, under the pretence of praying for reforms and improvements; or, what was of more mischievous consequence, undertook to supply the defects of the Church's prayers and doctrine in their bold addresses to the throne of Grace. What is to prevent a similar abuse, when Clergymen may use public prayers in the Church not prescribed by authority, it is hard to conceive: and that there was danger of that abuse, nay that it was already beginning to revive; -- I mean that some Clergymen did, and do, introduce their own compositions written or extempore before the Sermon, was one cause of the desired return to the simpler and prescribed course of proceeding to the Sermon, or Homily, immediately after the Nicene Creed; and using the Prayer for the Church-militant, with one or more of the Collects, after the Sermon: -- A Prayer, which, /10/ while some in their ignorance and impatience denounced as papistical, and on that ground opposed it, our Church has so framed as purposely to contradict some cherished doctrines of the Romish faith. Should it occur to any persons to remark that, if there be danger in prayer extempore or of private composition whether in respect of false doctrine or evil exhortation, there is the same danger in the Sermon; the answer is, that while the Church allows and trusts the Clergy, or some of them, in preaching of their own head and heart, she does not allow such prayers [NOTE: It should be remembered, however, that the same Convocation which first enforced subscription on the Clergy, passed also the following Canon for the regulation of preaching throughout the Kingdom: "The Clergy shall be careful never to teach anything from the Pulpit to be religiously held and believed by the people, but what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old or New Testament, and collected out of that very same doctrine by the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops." This Canon passed in 1571, under the auspices of Archbishop Parker.]. And if there be danger, as there may be, of false teaching in Sermons, that can be no reason for a further licence and opportunity in the more solemn addresses to the Throne of Grace. I am not about to discuss the advantages, or evils, of prayers extempore, or of private composition, as compared with the Church's time-honoured and time-hallowed forms. I would hope there is no occasion for such a discussion in addressing those who are privileged to use those forms, and I hope and believe that most of you do wisely and modestly prefer one of the Collects before the Sermon to any private compositions (and with that I am perfectly content); but I wish to justify myself for recommending the omission of prayer altogether in Divine Service where none is prescribed or provided by the Church; while we more than replace it, and supply the loss, by the /11/ prescribed use of that excellent and comprehensive Prayer so well calculated for closing and summing up the whole Morning Service.
And if there be need of further justification for myself, or those Clergymen who acquiesced in my recommendations, I humbly think it is supplied in the Pastoral Letter of our venerable Primate addressed to the Clergy and laity of his Province two years ago. None of you, I am sure, will be displeased to hear, (even if you should have read them before), the words of "meekness of wisdom," which his Grace published at that time. "There have, I apprehend, at all times been clergymen who have been distressed by this inconsistency"; -- (His Grace is speaking of the deviation in practice from the directions of the Rubric,) "and of late years it has been regarded by many excellent men as inconsistent with the obligations they took upon themselves on their admission into Holy Orders. Under the influence of these scruples, they thought it right to adhere as closely as possible to the letter of the Rubric in their ministrations; whilst others of their brethren, not less conscientious, have been determined by considerations, in their estimation of great weight, to follow the usage they have found established in their respective churches. Under these circumstances a diversity of practice has arisen, which is not only inconsistent with the principle of uniformity maintained by the Church; but is sometimes associated, in the minds of the people, with peculiarities of doctrine; and gives birth to suspicions and jealousies destructive of the confidence which should always subsist between the flock and their Pastor. To prevent the increase of an evil which might terminate in actual schism, was confessedly most desirable: and the most effectual /12/ way of accomplishing the object, it has been thought, would be found in general conformity to the Rubric. UNIVERSAL CONCURRENCE IN THIS EASY AND OBVIOUS REGULATION WOULD HAVE COMBINED THE SEVERAL ADVANTAGES OF SECURING COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE CHURCH AND OF THE LAND, AND OF PUTTING A STOP TO UNAUTHORIZED INNOVATIONS, AND OF EXCLUDING PARTY DISTINCTIONS, IN THEIR CHARACTER DECIDEDLY UNCHRISTIAN, FROM THE PUBLIC WORSHIP OF GOD; AND I CANNOT BUT REGRET THAT MEASURES WHICH, WITH A VIEW TO THESE GOOD PURPOSES, HAVE BEEN RECOMMENDED BY HIGH AUTHORITIES, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RECEIVED WITH UNANIMOUS ACQUIESCENCE, AS THE MEANS OF RESTORING ORDER AND PEACE, WITHOUT ANY DEPARTURE FROM THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHURCH, OR OFFENCE TO THE MOST SCRUPULOUS CONSCIENCE." Upon these remarks, characterized by his Grace's admired and rare combination of wisdom and meekness, I would rely as my justification not merely in recommending the omission of the unauthorized prayer before the Sermon, but in pressing the general question of Rubrical conformity.
I deem it right however to explain to you, why after giving way on points of importance and relinquishing all the changes which could in any way be supposed to affect doctrine, I still approved of retaining the surplice in the Morning Sermon, and took upon myself the whole blame of so retaining it. Let it be remembered that the surplice had been used in preaching in the Morning Service before my first arrival, and I had recommended the continuance of that practice, because I believed, as I still believe, that in the Morning Sermon, which is a part of the Service, it is the right and Rubrical costume.
But, except as fulfilling the purpose of the /13/ Church, it is obvious, and admitted on all hands, that it is of no importance whether the Minister preach in black or white, in the gown or surplice. All agreed that a Sermon might be equally good in one or other, and that the hearers might edify equally well in either case, or it was their own fault. Having then conceded all points which were contended for, as matters of importance, I chose to retain the surplice for the two following reasons, besides thinking it, as I have said, the right and approved costume. First of all that I might make manifest my purpose of not ceding my authority entirely at every demand; for that, I conceive, my duty forbids, -- my duty to our common Master and to you; nay I may add, to the congregations committed to my charge. For what confidence could you, or any of our congregations repose in me as their Chief Shepherd, if, in matters of Church order and discipline, I revoked or suspended every rule and direction as soon as made, at the desire of particular parties or persons? I therefore did not shrink from persevering in a point, which, as all agreed, was of no importance, and which could create, no suspicions against me in any just and pious mind; except indeed suspicions of my intention to maintain in some things my authority; which I was not careful to contradict. But secondly, I believed it a good and just occasion of testing the parties who had promoted the movement; -- of discovering how many would be content with reasonable concessions, and assurances that no innovations in doctrine or ritual were contemplated, and how many with nothing less than a power over the clergy and their ministrations, I mean, to control and correct them, which in our Church was never put in any but the Bishop's hands: and which I believe /14/ you would as little as myself consent should be wrested from mine. Ready as I should have been, and I trust ever shall be, to become all things to all men, if by any means I might save some; I could not forget that the Apostle, whose example I would humbly follow in abasing myself, did both magnify his office, and enjoin the Bishops appointed and consecrated by him, "to command, and teach, and rebuke with all authority." (I Tim: 4, 11; 2 Tim: 4, 2; Tit: 2, 15, &c.)
We have no reason to complain of the result. If we lament that any should "have gone out from us" on such a pretext and plea, surely we may rejoice that, almost without exception, all were sooner or later satisfied with the assurances given and concessions made; and willingly left such questions of rite and service in the duly instructed, or at least duly commissioned, hands: and thus, as the Apostle speaks, "they which are approved are made manifest among you." I can assert with confidence that the proceedings of that trying time have not weakened our hands, or alienated the regard and devotion of any well-instructed members of our Communion from the Church of their fathers and their home. That many for a season were disturbed, or displeased, is to me no matter of wonder or complaint. When we add to the reports brought from England of defection and disloyalty on the part of some who had professed the desired object of order and uniformity, and had pursued that object by strict attention to Rubric and rite; -- when we add, I say, to the natural effect of such reports on sensitive minds, our own want of agreement in practice, with the small amount of instruction on such points given to the people, (I mean, on the nature and purpose of our Rubrics and Canons, and of /15/ general conformity:) we cannot wonder or complain that even the quiet and dutiful, how much more the conceited and disputatious, should find occasion of protest and resistance. That my aim was not fully attained, I mean, to adhere as closely as possible to the rules and laws of our Prayer-book; still regarding it as a means of edification and peace, I of course must deeply regret; but I am far from regretting that the attempt was made. Some advance, I think, was effected, and movements in opposite directions prevented. The rules of the Prayer-book have been more carefully and seriously considered, and they only require to be so considered by pious and honest minds to be also approved and honoured, and their enforcement in due season allowed, nay desired. Names of suspicion and distrust are less used and less regarded. It can never, I fear, be, that the stricter rule, whether of doctrine or practice, will find favour with the majority, and therefore if but a few have increased their attachment to, and attendance upon, Church ordinances and observances, as the channels and means of Grace, the result ought not to dishearten, or, I might perhaps say, to disappoint us.
While speaking, not complaining, of want of agreement among ourselves; (for, as I have already remarked, I did not give liberty without expecting that it would in some cases and particulars be more or less used, as we see done, without complaint, in other Dioceses at home) I would mention with pleasure a very general agreement in one matter which I pressed upon you as of great importance, I mean the mode of administering the Lord's Supper, and pronouncing the words in the delivery to each communicant severally. I would rather believe that practice was approved and adopted from your own /16/ conviction of its propriety and necessity, and required neither recommendation nor enforcement. Be that as it may, or whatever the cause of this agreement, I have heard but of one case of different practice, in opposition to both my most earnestly expressed wish, and the Church's general usage and doctrine; and that, as might be expected, where there was least excuse to plead on the score of numerous or increased communicants. But, my Brethren, it did not end well.
Before I dismiss these questions of rite and service, I would remark that the doubt I expressed in my former Charge of the propriety of using the Office for "Churching of Women" during Divine Service has been strengthened by further examination and enquiry. It was my opinion that the proper time of using that office is BEFORE the Morning or Evening Prayer; that the woman having expressed her solemn but separate thanks, and paid her vows for her particular mercies, might be qualified to join in the general thanksgiving and praise of the whole congregation. And I say, subsequent consideration and enquiry have confirmed this view; and therefore I would desire that this service should be performed, whenever it is possible, some little time before the Morning or Evening Prayer; and the woman be instructed to remain, that the congregation may, as it were, receive and welcome her among them, and she partake in the common petitions, praises, and thanksgivings of the Church. Only as there is no rule on the subject in our Prayer Books, I cheerfully allow the more common method of churching women before the General Thanksgiving in the Morning or Evening Service. But to perform this office AFTER the Morning or Evening Prayers, either /17/ allowing the woman to be present in the Congregation before she has qualified herself by the expression of her own particular thanks for the late mercies vouchsafed unto her, or shutting her out altogether from that opportunity of calling on the name of the LORD, and paying her vows in the presence of all His people, seems as contrary to reason, as it is without authority.
Suffer me again and more earnestly than before to call to your notice the wish and hope I expressed in my former Charge, that you might by degrees, and as quickly as possible, bring parties to be married within the Canonical hours. "And as in the absence of Parishes, it is impossible that the Banns should be duly published, there will be the greater need of making other enquiries, and using all due circumspection that you be not betrayed into solemnizing Matrimony between parties who from near affinity, or any other cause, cannot lawfully or honourably be joined together. Great shame, if I should not rather say great guilt, must attach to the Minister, who, neglecting these due and necessary enquiries, pronounces them to be man and wife together, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, who are forbidden to enter that sacred relationship by the positive denunciations of GOD'S Holy Word, or the only by one degree less awful and authoritative prohibitions of Parents and lawful Guardians." I would add one further caution -- not as of authority, but tending to decency and devotion -- that the season of our great Fast, and especially the Holy Week, be not without urgent necessity chosen, or allowed, for Marriage -- the just occasion of holy festivity and joy.
You will easily gather from these remarks, that it is still my opinion and wish that we should desire /18/ and pursue a greater approximation to order and uniformity in the Public Service, and of course in accordance with the rules and laws of our Book of Common Prayer. In short, I have no power to dispense with the strict observance of those laws in every possible case [NOTE: "In all points where the Rubrics are plain and express the Ordinary has no authority to release us from [that] obedience, as appears from the Preface concerning the Service of the Church at the beginning of the Prayer Book. In which though the Ordinary is allowed to interpret and determine the sense of the Rubric for us in all doubtful cases; yet it is with this proviso that he shall not order or determine anything that is contrary to what is contained in the Service-Book. That is, in points that are clearly expressed the Ordinary is as much prohibited from making innovations, as the meanest Parochial Minister among us. And therefore a Bishop's dispensing power will not reach those cases." SHARP ON THE RUBRICS AND CANONS: DISCOURSE 222ND.]. How far a contrary practice of long standing sanctioned, or not disallowed, by our rulers in Church and State can justify us in neglecting those laws, I am not competent, and happily not called on, to determine. That such contrary practice, so sanctioned or allowed affords large excuse in FORO CONSCIENTIAE, I readily admit, and I am far from presuming to censure any of you who rely upon it as their justification. I can appreciate also the difficulties in which you are placed through this long continued contradiction between rule and practice, and the dislike which your people will naturally and properly have to change, till they understand the reason and authority for it. But if there be, as I conceive there is and must be, an authority and reason for every rule and Rubric of our Prayer-book -- if all were made and are enjoined for edification -- I do not understand how we can rest satisfied till we have instructed our people in their sacred obligation, and manifested our readiness to comply.
At the risk of wearying you, I must set before /19/ you one instance which will explain, and I hope, justify my earnestness; for the Apostle has said, "it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing." The first Rubric or direction in the Ministration of Public Baptism is, "The people are to be admonished, that it is most convenient that Baptism should not be administered but upon Sundays, and other Holy-Days, when the most number of people come together; as well for that the congregation there present may testify the receiving them that be newly Baptized into the number of Christ's Church; as also because in the Baptism of Infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to GOD in his Baptism." And a following Rubric directs, "When there are children to be baptized, the parents shall give knowledge thereof overnight, or in the morning, before the beginning of Morning Prayer, to the Curate. And then the Godfathers and Godmothers, and the people with the children must be ready at the Font, either immediately after the last Lesson at Morning Prayer, or else immediately after the last Lesson at Evening Prayer, as the Curate by his discretion shall appoint."
Here then is a plain Rubric or Rule of the Church, with two reasons for it wisely and piously annexed; (reasons which, I am persuaded, no Minister, nay no member of our congregations, who will duly consider them, can deny to be of immense and sacred importance;) and no exception allowed but in cases of necessity, and no licence given to the Curate, but to direct the attendance of the parties concerned, either after the last Lesson at Morning Prayer, or else immediately after the last Lesson at Evening Prayer. Surely then, as Ministers of /20/ the Church, we must desire and endeavour for our part that Baptism may be administered only "upon Sundays and other Holy-days, when the most number of people come together;" and must admonish the people accordingly. And the same of every like positive rule, however practice may prevail to the contrary.
And let it not be said, though unhappily it is said, that to contend for uniformity in practice is to grasp at the shadow and let go the substance, to hold the form and deny the power of godliness; or that to admonish the people in these things, as we are commanded, is to neglect the weightier matters of the Gospel -- repentance towards GOD, and faith towards our LORD Jesus Christ. Believe it, my Brethren, it is no small matter to require and procure for conscience sake, strict obedience to the commandments and ordinances of any lawful authority in Church or State; for, "ye must needs be subject," an Apostle would teach us, "not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake:" but when we further believe, and know, that the laws of the Church are intended for edification, and will certainly edify, if any will wisely and dutifully obey them; we can hardly be satisfied with a congregation who resist or slight them. If it be granted that there MAY be no religion in the observance of Rubric and rule, it must, I fear, be granted also that there is great irreligion in wilful and determined resistance. Let me use another instance and illustration: Some clergymen insist much on the necessity of their congregations kneeling, at the prescribed times and occasions, in the Public Service. Now I can readily admit that such a practice, however strictly enjoined and observed, may be but an outward form, and if all end there, we have done nothing -- nothing /21/ at all: but then if you allow a congregation in the wilful neglect of a plain and pious duty prescribed by the Church, and practised by our LORD'S Apostles and other holy men, it is much to be feared, you have done worse than nothing -- you have not only sanctioned a wrong practice contrary to Scripture and the Church's rule, but you have suffered a congregation to suppose that a prayer to GOD may be acceptable, not merely with unbended knees, but with unhumbled hearts. For surely we cannot be wrong in concluding that continued resistance to a positive rule of the Church, pious and proper in itself, must proceed (except it be from ignorance through lack of instruction) must proceed from want of humility or docility. And here is my excuse for pleading and praying for obedience to the Church's rules; not merely because they are the Church's rules, (which consideration alone should prevail with pious and dutiful dispositions,) but because the neglect of them fosters pride and self-will, the very root of schism and separation.
Let me however again and again assure you, that I am not reflecting upon any of you, neither upon your congregations for continuing in practices which, however contrary to Rubric and rule, have been long sanctioned, or not condemned, by the Bishops and Pastors of the flock in this country and at home, and of which, it is well believed, many know not the contrariety or irregularity. But it is assuredly one part of my bounden duty to remind you and your congregations of these laws and ordinances, and to shew how their observance would tend not merely to uniformity, but to unity and general edification; while their neglect leaves us open to the reproach of apparent difficulties and dissensions, where really there may be none.
/22/ In proceeding to refer to my visits in your different Missions, I am desirous in the first place of expressing my grateful acknowledgements of the kind and dutiful attention I everywhere and on every occasion experienced at your hands. I look back upon it with feelings of sincere gratitude and pleasure. My chief object in those visits was, I trust, in some good measure accomplished, which was, to become acquainted with the nature and extent of your engagements and duties. I need not repeat my conviction often expressed, that your sphere of labour is, in almost every instance, too extended for your health and comfort, and, what I am sure you regard more, your usefulness. It is not generally that the numbers committed to your charge are too large for efficient pastoral supervision by one Clergyman (I except of course the district of St. John's): but the scattered nature of their settlements, and the difficulty, or rather impossibility, of approaching them during so large a portion of the year, make your duties exceedingly anxious and laborious, and of small effect in reference to the expenditure of strength and time. I need not however occupy your time, or depress your spirits by reminding you of difficulties too well known, and too sensibly felt. I would only wish to assure you that I can better, I will not yet say fully, appreciate your labours and trials, and make allowances for your disappointments, and (should it so fall out in any case) for apparent want of progress or success. The impossibility of knowing particularly the state of your flocks, and giving to every one his portion of meat in due season, of resisting either those grievous wolves which in your absence enter in and scatter the sheep, or those men who arise, as an Apostle foretold, in and of your own flock and congregation, /23/ speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them; -- this, I conceive, is your chief and greatest trial.
As to your personal and social difficulties and privations; without meaning at all to make light of them, which would ill become one who has had so little personal experience of them in any shape, I yet can hardly suppose that any, or all of these would be regarded, or ought to be, in comparison of the care of the Churches and the cure of souls; or, shall I not say, would, or ought to be regarded at all? Is not this the very character of the Missionary work, to which we have devoted ourselves; -- the character of it, and glory also? And shall there be none in these latter days to say, "I glory in tribulations also?" Shall there be none to take pleasure in necessities, in distresses, in privations, in persecutions, if need be, for Christ's sake? And how can we presume to make any account of our labours and trials when we read of the Missionaries and Confessors of other days, what afflictions they endured; and not merely with patience, but rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake.
Let it not be supposed that I wish to deter you from any duties or sacrifices for His Name and His Church's sake, if I proceed to remark that one labour more or less self-imposed, struck me as by no means compensating for the fatigue and anxiety attending it; I mean the third full service on the Sunday, with a sermon at each, in the same church. I am persuaded that it must, and saw plainly that it does weigh upon your spirits and tax your strength in a degree which may not be felt immediately, but which afterwards tells most injuriously upon the constitution both of body and mind. And presuming that you have time during the week in the midst of /24/ so many other occupations to prepare the three sermons; is it possible that your congregations can profitably digest such an amount of concentrated instruction whether of doctrine or practice? Is there not reason to fear that such hearing can be little more than hearing for its own sake, without much regard to our LORD'S precept, "Take heed how ye hear?" Surely it is, or should be, a solemn thing to hear a sermon at all. But I am more concerned at present with the pernicious effects of such exertions upon your health and spirits, which I have witnessed and witness daily with the deepest anxiety. I am persuaded that your congregations cannot know, cannot think of this evil consequence, or they would, for their own sakes, rise up and prevent you. I however, who do know it, partly by my own personal experience, and more from witnessing it in others -- I say in broken health and spirits -- am bound for your sakes and your congregations, to deprecate the practice. Except in towns, a Sunday evening service can hardly be necessary, or, generally speaking, tend to edification. I am not unmindful that I shall expose myself to the charge of depreciating the ordinance of preaching, for which chiefly Christ ordained and sent his Holy Apostles. But surely, on the other hand, some will believe that, because we do honour and value it, and because we do acknowledge its sacred importance, we contend for greater attention and pains in the study and preparation, than can possibly be devoted to three discourses during a week, with so many other occupations and interruptions: and that, regarding with the great German reformer the pulpit as "an awful place," (remembering in whose Name we stand there, and whose message we bring, and for what everlasting interests we plead,) we are not willing to /25/ ascend and descend, as if it were a common and easy task. The name and commendation of a "painful preacher" are not, I am sure, to be despised; and what is signified thereby, but one whose "pains" are apparent in his discourse, and who has been afraid to sacrifice to the LORD his GOD of that which cost him nothing? I am not about at present to enter upon the subject matter of your discourses or Sermons; but to defend myself, for the Church's sake, against that unfounded and injurious charge of undervaluing the ordinance of preaching, or wishing to hinder its due, and regular, and constant exercise. It is very possible, I presume, to speak doubtfully of such or such person's ability or competence as a preacher, without meaning to doubt in general the sacred necessity and blessed advantage of that Divine ordinance. May it long be the boast of our Church that she is a preaching Church; but that boast is not to be measured, or maintained, by the mere number of discourses delivered yearly or weekly in each place, but by holding fast and setting forth the form of sound words; "in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned, that they who are of the contrary part may be ashamed." (Titus: 2, 7, 8.) I have not forgotten, neither would I wish you to forget, that solemn charge of the Apostle, not only to preach the word; but to be instant in season, out of season; to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine: -- but what follows immediately? "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned to fables." (2 Tim: 4, 3, 4.)
/26/ I had occasion to remark and lament the difficulty you find in procuring religious books for the use of your people, and not merely the Holy Scriptures and our Books of Common Prayer, but other works of instruction and edification. Most of you are aware that in order (as far as possible) to meet this difficulty, I opened in St. John's a depot for the sale of the publications of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, including, of course, Bibles and Testaments of every different size and price. All these books were to be sold, and were sold, at the same price currency at which they are charged sterling in England. It was my wish and purpose to put all these useful publications, and particularly the Sacred Volume of Inspired Truth, within the reach of all classes and denominations. This plan had been in successful operation some months, when a proposal was set on foot by other parties, to establish in this Town a Branch Association or Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. On being invited to join that Association, I felt it due to you, and to myself for your sake, to publish the substance of my reply, which was forwarded, I believe, to each of you. My chief object in now referring to that circumstance is to make my acknowledgments of, and for, the large number of copies of the Sacred Scriptures circulated in this Colony through the instrumentality of the Bible Society, and of the pious and benevolent intentions of those who sent and circulated them. It was not at that time my purpose to proclaim, but I certainly had no wish to conceal, these facts; and I willingly take this opportunity of declaring that the Bible Society deserves for these benefits, long and largely bestowed, our admiration and gratitude. But these considerations do not by any means reconcile me to /27/ the Society itself, or make me regard the Association or Auxiliary in this country as either necessary or desirable. You will give me credit, I trust, for having arrived at these conclusions neither hastily or uncharitably, but with serious reflection as to my own duty, and with every allowance for those who differ from me in opinion. I refer you for my reasons against the Association, and for the reasons of wiser and more experienced persons against the Society itself, to my published statement; and I beg they may be considered in the spirit in which I have said that statement was conceived and published, -- seriously and charitably [NOTE: See the Appendix.]. In the meantime I may take this opportunity of informing you that the Depot, which was suspended upon the destruction of the premises in the fire, has been again opened in the same convenient locality, and under the same management as before. It is not conducted without considerable trouble and expense, but these will be cheerfully met, if you should be better able to provide yourselves and your flocks with the Sacred Scriptures and other religious and useful books.
In considering your circumstances with a view both to your own improvement and the instruction of your people, I was struck also by the want of sound standard books of reference on subjects connected with your sacred calling. I have endeavoured, from various sources, to augment the Clerical Library, and have the gratification of reporting not only a considerable addition to their former gifts by Dr. Bray's associates, but many valuable works from private hands, which will shortly be available for use and reference.
One misfortune of your isolated settlements, pressing heavily upon all, but with greatest weight /28/ upon those at a distance from the Capital, is the want of correspondence and intercourse with brother clergymen. How necessary, how delightful such intercourse is, or should be, for all the purposes and objects of your ministry -- for instruction, for consolation, for mutual edification -- I need not pain you by now detailing at length; nor create an appetite, which cannot be satisfied, by declaring other benefits which can only be understood by experience. To remedy in some degree this inconvenience, I have it in contemplation to appoint additional Rural Deans, who will have commission to visit the neighbouring clergy, and occasionally to assemble them for information and consultation on the state of their Missions. But no real and sufficient remedy can be supplied without a considerable increase in our numbers. And for this increase, I need hardly remind you, we ourselves in the first place, and our people with and for us, must pray the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest; and then, still expecting and desiring GOD'S help and blessing, be ready to make what exertions and sacrifices we may, for this most desired and most necessary object, -- I mean, for more labourers in GOD'S harvest, for fellow-helpers and true yoke-fellows. And this, I conceive, was the main purpose of that resolution of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, (which it has been my duty to report to you,) to reduce at no distant period the stipend of its Missionaries, with a view not so much of withdrawing immediately any portion of its aggregate grant to this Diocese, as of distributing it over a wider space and to more persons; for the purpose I have said, of maintaining, (if GOD will be pleased in answer to our prayers to prepare and send them,) an increased number of labourers and fellow-helpers in this portion of His vineyard.
/29/ The Society, however, is neither unmindful of its engagements expressed or implied, nor supposes that your stipends can, or allows that they should, be reduced; but calls upon the people to make up to each of us the amount to be taken off. And this was the occasion of the plan of general collections recommended by our late Governor, and approved by the Church Society, for which I have laboured to bespeak your attention and favour, and give it good effect. If I have appeared to press the duty of enforcing and making the collections too strongly upon you, it is from the sincerest conviction of the advantage to the people, not less than to, or for, yourselves. As to the charge of covetousness, or too much carefulness about earthly things, in pressing such a demand, let an Apostle answer it: "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your worldly things?" (I Cor. 9, 11.) I need not quote again the various other Scriptures, teaching and enforcing, by the most plain and positive injunctions, this duty. And surely, my Brethren, we need not be ashamed of a demand which an Apostle of Christ thought it right to state, if not personally to urge. It may, it must, be in many cases painful to ask a direct payment for spiritual services, and you do not like to appear in the character of beggars, and to look for alms and oblations, "now," it may be, "coldly given, now utterly refused." But we must not conceal it from ourselves, and need not, I conceive, from others, that our salaries from home are entirely made up of charitable contributions, and in many instances from the very poorest in the land. Many a poor labouring man, as I can testify and assure you, lays by his penny a week out of his hard earnings, which is received by benevolent and /30/ disinterested collectors, that you and I may have means to fulfil our ministry, and may find "things necessary and convenient for this present life." Depend therefore upon charitable contributions we now at this present do; and the question is, whether it should be more painful to exact or receive those contributions from persons -- some rich but many poor in this world's goods -- to whom we can render no return or recompense; or receive and if need be, exact a payment from those who the Scripture says are bound to honour and succour us, at least for our work's sake. There is indeed another resource, of which no Minister need be ashamed, for that also is sanctioned and sanctified by an Apostle's precept and example, "who wrought with labour and travail night and day, that he might not be chargeable." (2 Thess. 3, 8.) I say the Apostle was not, and Ministers need not, be ashamed to work, as we may be able, for our support, while fulfilling our sacred ministry and watching for souls. But the Apostle who was not ashamed himself so to act and so to teach, in a case of necessity, (and it was never intended as a general rule,) took care to shew where the real shame of such necessity would lie, and not the shame merely, but the hindrance and loss -- "Let him that is taught in the word minister unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived, GOD is not mocked, for what a man soweth that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6; 6, 7.) "Let the Elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine, for the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn: and, The labourer is worthy of his reward." (1 Tim: 5, 17, 18.) We must not therefore hesitate to tell our congregations plainly their duty in this matter, as in others more or less /31/ distasteful or burdensome, however much it may appear like pleading for ourselves and our own worldly interests.
We must not be content with representing our claims as a matter of bounty, but of strict justice, not of worldly compact, but of Divine appointment; "even so," the Apostle tells us, "the LORD hath ordained that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel," (1 Cor. 9, 14.) I do not hesitate to declare that, upon being consulted by the Society at home, I expressed my conviction that the Church-people of this colony would be found both able and willing to make up the proposed reduction; not, of course, each separate settlement to or for its own clergyman, but by contributions to a general fund, to be distributed by the Church Society under the direction of the Bishop. I am responsible for this opinion and advice tendered to the Society; but in justice to myself, (that I may not be supposed unmindful of your difficulties and necessities,) I must be permitted to state that my opinion and advice were accompanied with a suggestion that the salaries hitherto paid should be continued to present Missionaries; if there were any understanding to that effect, expressed or implied, in their engagement. In such cases the money collected in this country, instead of going to the clergyman collecting it, would be distributed in part payment of new clergymen in new Missions. There are some obvious reasons for preferring the other mode, -- I mean the reduction of all salaries to the proposed standard; the only reason, but that I confess a strong one, against it, is the fear that such deficiency might not after all be supplied through the collections. As far however as the plan has been carried out, we have no reason to complain of want of success. The season for commencing it /32/ was unfavourable in many respects; -- not merely in consequence of those great calamities of fire and tempest which affected so many parts of the colony, and not the least the Members of our own Church; but -- through vacancies in several important Missions, which prevented its general adoption. With just allowance for these hindrances, the demand, I will not say upon the liberality, but the justice of our people, (in which Englishmen are not wont to be deficient,) was cheerfully met in most places and responded to. Only two Missions of importance have refused; and in such cases I know no remedy, but either to make up some salary by uniting the stipend and duties of a Missionary with those of a school-master; or to abandon altogether the Mission. No doubt such abandonment of an important Mission would be a matter of much grief and shame; yet surely we are bound to consider whether the grief and shame are not equally great or greater, when persons consent to receive the ministrations of religion and spiritual good things without a just payment or recompense. I would simply ask, what is the object of our Mission and ministration? Not surely to behold with our eyes a large congregation of hearers only, but to teach them their duty to GOD and man, and see that they practise it: -- and this is a duty both to GOD and man, to provide for the services and ministers of GOD'S house. I know how readily such remarks and arguments may be, and, I fear, will be, turned against us; how it will be proclaimed, that we care not for the flock but the fleece, that the Church is grasping, and what not; but we never need be ashamed of pleading with an Apostle, "who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the /33/ flock." (1 Cor. 9. 7.) And there is the less reason of being ashamed or afraid to state and enforce such a demand, -- I mean, on any suspicion of covetousness, -- when it is understood that this demand is not made to increase our incomes, or enable any of us to live in luxury and ease, but to supply a reduction of our present means and keep up a bare sufficiency. Hardly therefore would the Apostolic exhortation be misplaced -- "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (1 Tim. 6, 8.) Do not suppose, my Brethren, that I am insensible to the feelings and causes of solicitude which many of you may justly have, far different from, and far greater than, those of my own state and condition. For myself I freely and sincerely declare that supported as I am by charity [NOTE: I had no intention to conceal, that in addition to the Stipend or allowance which I receive from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (which I allude to as the gift of charity,) I receive also from the Government the former salary of Archdeacon of Newfoundland -- 300 pounds a year. As Bishop of Newfoundland I receive nothing from the Government; my stipend or salary is that only of the Archdeacon; and I was expressly told by the Colonial Minister that an Archdeacon of Newfoundland might claim that Salary, and that nothing would remain for the Bishop.], and by the charity of those to whom I render no service, I receive my salary but for the benefit and interests of the Church; and should feel inexcusable in affecting or desiring a higher state than is necessary for the various duties of my office: I shall be thankful if those duties can be fulfilled at less expense. But I am painfully sensible that such of you as have the care of families pressing upon you, cannot hear of a reduction of your slender means without just apprehensions for the comfort, not to say support, of those nearest and dearest to you. I trust such apprehensions will be more than dissipated by the cheerful liberality of an affectionate people. In this District of St. John's /34/ and its outharbours there has, I am informed, been a ready and very general answer to our call, both on the part of the poor fishermen and of wealthier traders and Merchants. And, when the Churchmen of official and other fixed incomes give but in proportion to the quintal of the fisherman, that reproach of Episcopalians, that they alone in this community do not support their Ministers (which has been of late so industriously reported) will speedily be wiped away. I am not without hope that some of our wealthy merchants whose means have been either acquired or increased by the produce of these teeming seas, (drawn forth, of course, under GOD'S blessing, by the labour of the fishermen,) will be stirred up to the pious imitation of our forefathers' liberality in the building and endowment of Churches. It is not to be believed that Christian men will be content to accumulate wealth in or from a Country for the aggrandizement of families or enlargement of an estate, without being willing, nay desirous, to bestow, or return, of that wealth for the glory of the Giver, and the good of the people through whose labour they have so been enriched. I trust it will not be long before at least one Church may be partially, but permanently, endowed. In the meantime, I have to record, with pleasure and thankfulness, two recent gifts of rich and beautiful Communion Service to the Churches of Twillingate and Fogo, by the two respectable houses connected with those settlements [NOTE: It ought to be mentioned that each House has in fact presented two sets; the first sets in each case were lost with the vessel at sea and were immediately replaced by new Services, exceedingly handsome and complete.].
To the combined gifts, in the way of endowment, of wealthy individuals, and to the yearly collections, the Church must ultimately look, in this /35/ Country, as elsewhere, for her support. In Canada and other Colonies, much has been done by gifts of land; which, though at present of small value, may be expected to make some return in future years, when the fostering care of the Mother Church must be withdrawn: and this source of income, though it can be rarely, either now or hereafter, of much value in this Country, should not be overlooked. A plot of land in the neighbourhood of a settlement will often rise in value with the rise and increase of the settlement, or may be cultivated as a Glebe, if need be, by the clergyman himself.
Alas! that I am constrained, my Brethren, to occupy so much of this precious season of mutual counsel and comfort with matters apparently so secular and selfish. Gladly would I speak, and as gladly I am sure would you suffer the word of exhortation, only on those duties and services which relate directly to the honour of our Redeemer and the salvation of immortal souls. But the firm conviction that it is for the best interests of the Church and the congregations committed to our charge, that this duty of contributing freely and generously should be set forth and established once for all, at least on its just and scriptural principle, (I leave the details to another opportunity,) reconciles and constrains me to enter upon a subject which cannot be more strange and distasteful to any of you, or any of your congregations, than to me. But before I dismiss it I must be permitted to remark that it seems useless and unwise, if I should not employ a stronger term of disapprobation, to propound other schemes for the Church's maintenance, which it is well known cannot be realized; as by payment from home, because we are a branch of the national Church, or by a tax upon our people in the way of tithe. If you contend that such provision, -- I mean, /36/ by payment from home or tax in the way of tithe, -- would be more in accordance with Scriptural authority and the practice of every established or national Church, you must allow that the contributions of the people, as GOD has blessed them, are fully recognized in Holy Scripture and were demanded by CHRIST'S Apostles: and there is no other method open to us.
I would remark lastly, that in this as in the more sacred duty of our solemn Public Service, success depends upon union among ourselves, at least no success can be reasonably expected to be general and permanent without it. If, while one clergyman is labouring in this service, others make it appear that they disallow or dislike it; that they had rather live upon the charity of friends and brethren at home, than ask payment of those to whom they sow spiritual things, ("robbing," as an Apostle speaks, "other Churches to do them service,") it is easy to foretell that some will be ready to shew open resistance, and many find excuses for delay and disputation. I entreat you then, my Brethren, be agreed in this just and necessary demand; urge it not as a matter of charity and liberality, but of duty and justice: you cannot want arguments from reason, from Scripture, from the practice of the Universal Church. I feel persuaded that the people generally will love you and their Church better, when they have learned and practised this duty of contributing according to their means, and as GOD has blessed them. The weakness of the Church in this country has arisen in part from this very cause -- the small sacrifices that the people have made for it; and that, let us hope, because hitherto they have not known the duty and necessity, or have not been called on for CHRIST'S sake.
/37/ Education is a subject so intimately and necessarily connected with our calling, and of such sacred importance, that you will naturally expect some mention of it, and will hope I may be able to announce some projected or probable improvements. It was an occasion of sincere grief to me that I could not from the first cordially cooperate with the Newfoundland School Society. I was aware how much good had been effected through its instrumentality; I entertained great respect for its managers and officers, and the masters appeared generally upright and devoted men. Nevertheless while the Church-catechism was excluded, and the clergy not allowed any share in the instruction of the children, I could not recognize it as a Church Society. That I entertained towards it no determined hostility, or unreasonable jealousy, was manifested, pretty clearly, by my admitting five of the principal teachers to Deacon's orders, and extending all due attention to others as I had opportunity. You will be satisfied, I think, that I acted prudently and properly in withholding from that Society any direct countenance, when I inform you that, my objections having been kindly and impartially considered in the spirit of Christian charity, several important alterations have been made in their rules. The Church-catechism will be taught in all the Schools, the Clergy will have liberty to enter at all times to examine and report the progress of the children to the Bishop, and the Bishop is made Visitor. The masters are to receive a licence from the Bishop, and will cease to be employed, when that licence is withdrawn. For these alterations I feel deeply grateful, and I have met and acknowledged them in the same free and confiding spirit, in which, I trust, they were made. And henceforth, I anticipate, you will find much help /38/ and comfort in these Schools, and prove them in reality, what they now openly are professed and named, "Church of England Schools." We have already a good earnest that what is professed will be sincerely and effectually acted on, in the appointment of a Master and Mistress for the Central Schools of St. John's of the highest character, as regards both principles and experience. I have been much comforted and encouraged by all that I have heard and seen of them.
Of the Colonial Schools I will only now remark, that as the necessity of some division of the annual grant for their support, according to religious belief, has been recognized, (I mean in appointing separate boards for Protestants and Roman Catholics,) we may reasonably hope the division will be more fully carried out, and the Church and other denominations receive for their Schools in just proportion. That Education should be divorced from Religion, since GOD in His Holy Word, and in the hearts of all reasonable, right-minded, men, has joined them together, is a discovery of these latter days, equally, as it appears to me, unrighteous and unwise. Having these views, I declined, though not without reluctance, the place which was offered me of a Director of the St. John's Academy. There appeared to me other serious defects in the constitution of the Academy, which must render its success problematical and precarious, but that single sin of repudiating religious instruction made it impossible for me, as a Minister of religion, to lend it aid or countenance. I was therefore the more constrained to continue the School which was established under my direction on my arrival, (though I ought to add desired and projected before,) and in which Religion has been, from the first, the ground work and pervading principle. If that school has succeeded and given satisfaction, /39/ I desire thankfully to acknowledge that the success is due to the blessing of GOD sought, duly and devoutly, in the Church's prayers every day. We look not at present, or perhaps at all, for great results, but it is no small matter that peace and harmony have existed, without interruption, among the Scholars, and satisfaction has been expressed by parents and friends; and, together with the useful knowledge necessary for the business of this life, some good principles have been inculcated and impressed, of more lasting, nay we trust of everlasting, value. If any persons should be inclined to ascribe these good appearances and fair beginnings to the talents and solicitude of an excellent and well-qualified Master; while I should be the last to deny that he possesses the necessary qualifications, I would still believe and still declare, that his success is due to the Divine blessing, duly and devoutly sought, as I have told you. Why will vain men fasten their regards upon the instrument, and forget the One Hand, that moves and governs all? It has been my desire from the first that the Collegiate School should be available and valuable to you, my Brethren; that you may not, among your other cares and privations, be distressed by the impossibility of giving your sons a sound and suitable education; and I am well persuaded that you would consider no Education sound or suitable, which was not sanctified by religious knowledge and religious discipline. Another step in this direction has been made by connecting the Theological Institution with the School and bringing it under a similar discipline; and in a short time a clergyman every way competent and qualified will reside with the Students and take their entire oversight and instruction -- a measure, I need hardly say, of great, or rather the greatest, /40/ importance. By connecting the School with the Institution -- so that the more deserving Scholars may receive the Exhibitions granted to the Students by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, -- we may hope that both will be rendered a permanent blessing to the Church, and a great means of promoting and extending in the colony religious and useful knowledge. May I not expect your effectual fervent prayers for a work begun and carried on with but small help and encouragement.
We have great reason to be thankful that the din of religious controversy has not of late been heard, or has not been listened to, by us. It is one of the blessings of continual occupation in the active duties of your profession that it leaves little leisure, and I may say little relish, for controversy or dispute. What bickerings, what dissensions, what fatal separations might have been prevented in our dear Mother Church at home, if some men instead of writing, had been acting, the lives of Saints; doing their duty in that state of life to which it had pleased GOD to call them.
Shall I ascribe it to this cause, or to the intrinsic nothingness and unworthiness both of the charge and its vehicle that you were so little moved when my name was brought before the public in a so-called religious newspaper at home. Whatever might be the reason, I am truly thankful for the result, thankful to GOD and you. And I shall take advantage of this happy calm to offer you a few words of advice on some points which have been much discussed and controverted of late, and may yet be forced upon you, when you might find it difficult to escape them. The first subject of discussion and disputation, and with which, I am informed, my name has been strangely mixed up, is what is /41/ technically called baptismal regeneration. Why, or on what grounds, it should be asserted that I am an advocate of that doctrine except on the presumption that I contend for the "plain and full meaning" of the Catechism, Articles, and Offices of our Church, I really cannot conceive; for, to the best of my remembrance, I was never called on to express, and never did express, any public opinion about it. To the language and doctrine of the Prayer Book [NOTE: See Appendix B.] I have declared my unfeigned assent and consent, and used it accordingly; and I would confidently assume that there is not one of you, my Brethren, who would contradict it, or teach otherwise. Now, in this case, there must be real and substantial agreement; and if there be any difference, it is only about a word or name. If one should say, I do not receive, or understand, baptismal regeneration, but I receive what the Church teaches about baptism, and the grace of baptism, in her Catechism, Articles, and Offices: and another say, I believe a regeneration in baptism, but I believe no more than the Church has taught, and teaches us, where, I ask, or what, is the difference? Is it any more than about the meaning of a word or name? And it is well known to most persons who have examined the subject, though, I dare believe, quite unknown to numbers who speak most confidently about it, that the word Regeneration has, of late years, been used by some writers, and many talkers about it, in a different sense from that of our Reformers and the early Church.
It is therefore to little purpose to enquire whether this, or that person, holds Regeneration in baptism, because if we understand Regeneration in a different sense, the answer would convey no /42/ satisfaction, resolve no doubt, give no information. The question should be, Do we believe, with our Articles, that the "Sacraments are EFFECTUAL signs of Grace," and that "Baptism is such a sign of Regeneration or new birth"? Do we, as taught in our Catechism, profess, each for himself, that "in Baptism we were made members of CHRIST, children of GOD, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven:" that "an inward and spiritual Grace was then given us," and that grace, "a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness"? -- if we so profess, and so believe, it would matter but little by what name we describe the doctrine, had not the Church in her Office, so frequently spoken of the baptized child as regenerated, and in the Articles made "Baptized" and "Regenerate" convertible terms. It is very plain, therefore, the dispute, or difference, in every such case is about the word or name, and not about the truth of the doctrine; and surely of persons who will thus dispute, the Apostle speaks, as "doting about questions and strifes of words; whereof," he adds, "cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth:" And mark, I pray you, what follows; "From such withdraw thyself." (1 Tim. 6, 4, 5.)
The case is nearly the same, of the question, so frequently agitated, of the real presence of CHRIST in the LORD'S Supper. It is, I fully believe, as discussed and disputed in our Church, a question and strife of words. One may deny the Real Presence, and another may assert it, and yet they may perfectly agree in the true doctrine of the Church and Holy Scripture. All depends upon the meaning and application of the word "Real." They who limit the word to things carnal and visible, will rightly /43/ deny such a presence of CHRIST; but they who apply it to things Heavenly and Spiritual, may, I hope, without offence, maintain and defend that reality in the blessed Sacrament. The question then is, (though scarcely, I would hope, a question with any of us,) whether we believe, with our Articles, that "to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of CHRIST, and likewise the cup of blessing a partaking of the Blood of CHRIST," and teach, with our Catechism, that "the Body and Blood of CHRIST are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the LORD'S Supper." "Only," to use the wise and pious language of our Reformers in the Homilies, "only this much we must be sure to hold; that in the Supper of the LORD there is no vain ceremony, NO BARE SIGN, NO UNTRUE FIGURE OF A THING ABSENT; but, as the Scripture saith, the Table of the Lord, the Bread and Cup of the LORD, the memory of CHRIST, the annunciation of His death, yea the Communion of the Body and Blood of the LORD, by a marvellous incorporation, which, by the operation of the HOLY GHOST, (the very bond of our conjunction with CHRIST,) is, through faith, wrought in the souls of the faithful, whereby, not only their souls live to eternal life, but they surely trust to win their bodies a Resurrection to immortality." (Homily concerning the Sacrament, 1st part.) If you assent to this doctrine you may use, or reject, without blame, the term "Real Presence," and no pious Christians will contend about it. They, however, who use the expression, which the most cautious divines of our Church have not scrupled at [NOTE: See Appendix C.], must not be charged /44/ with teaching or allowing a corporal presence; still less that last, and most fatal, development of a materializing theology, Transubstantiation. Surely things Heavenly and spiritual are real; nay, some would say, the only realities.
I have ventured these remarks, not so much to declare my own opinion, as to convince you that the question in each case, which has been so warmly disputed by ill-educated people, is rather ETYMOLOGICAL than theological, not about the doctrine, but the name; that we are substantially agreed, if we agree in the plain teaching of the Catechism, and Articles of our Prayer Book. I shall be amazed if reasonable and pious men, who have subscribed these Forms of sound words, can suppose that there is occasion, or room, for contention and controversy, because they do not agree in the meaning or application of a particular term.
I should be most unwilling, as I am unworthy, (except in consideration of the Office I hold among you,) to occupy your time and attention with any declaration of my own sentiments and views. But in these days of not unreasonable suspicion, it may not be altogether out of place to assure you that I still, with good Bishop WILSON, "sincerely and heartily thank GOD that I was born in a Christian and PROTESTANT country." I have not, you may be satisfied, been an unconcerned observer of the disputes and dissensions, the schisms and separations which have prevailed in our dear native country, and dearer mother Church. And although my numerous and pressing avocations have, in some degree, deprived me of the leisure and desire to enter upon the whole field of controversy, I have read, or heard, whatever has been urged of most weight, and given to the different questions agitated some, and I trust, /45/ sufficient, consideration. I believe, however, we are rather to be pressed by examples, than arguments. We are told of men of learning and piety, who have gone out from us, making great sacrifices, and giving all signs of disinterested sincerity; (I am speaking of the Church at home;) and we are asked if this is not the way in which GOD leads His people? It is notorious that the majority of the deserters have confessed and alleged that they have followed one leader and guide, without pretending, or even desiring, to examine for themselves the various points in dispute. But, my Brethren, some of us can remember, (indeed little more than twenty short years have passed,) when we were pressed and invited, in like manner, by similar examples and authorities, in an opposite direction: when men of distinguished talents and undoubted piety made like sacrifices for new and rampant forms of dissent; gathered followers, created brotherhoods, and opened meeting-houses of no creed or name, which have continued, in some cases, to this very day. Yes, in these opposite directions have wandered brothers, both in the flesh and in the LORD, equally talented, equally disinterested, equally devoted to the cause of CHRIST, and the good of souls. Do we then make no account of talents and piety, of learning and a holy life? GOD forbid. But we may venture to say that these so different examples cannot be intended by GOD to guide and determine us; nay, I think, we may go farther and believe, with much confidence, that the middle point, from which both have departed to these wide extremes, is the safe resting place. And it is well known that like defections, in such opposite directions and to such opposite extremes, sad as they are strange, have, in former days, happened in similar succession; and therefore they who have studied /46/ the history of the Church view them with least surprise. However, as this appears to some the great trial of our faith at the present day, and particularly to young and generous spirits, who cannot avoid being impressed and influenced by character and example, I have felt it of importance to remind you of the antagonistic force of guides and examples on either side. Let it not, however, be supposed that there are none, or no great, examples, of learning and piety, of chastened life and extensive Theological attainments, who have remained, and remain, firm and unshaken; not merely for duty and affection to their dear mother to whom they owe in Christ their spiritual birth, but for the Truth's sake which dwelleth with her, and shall be in her, we trust, for ever. I forbear modern names; but, while we have the lives and writings of Bull, and Barrow, and Hammond, and Ken, and Wilson, and a host of learned and holy men, who sifted the whole question, and were sifted by it, now with prosecutions, now with bribes, we need not be disturbed by the authorities of these degenerate days, to whichever side they would invite us.
But to the Church of England herself, -- to her articles and homilies, her creeds and catechisms, her rules and examples of holy life, -- I willingly and entirely refer you and myself, and the souls committed to our charge: by these let us teach and be taught, in these let us live, and with and for these, if need be, we may joyfully labour, and suffer and die. "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel; according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath GOD wrought!" (Num. 23, 23.)
TO MY OWN FLOCK AND FRIENDS, AND ALL FRIENDS OF THE CHURCH IN NEWFOUNDLAND.
MY BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,
Having been invited to join the Auxiliary branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society, lately formed in Newfoundland, I think it my duty to declare to you the substance of my reply; which touched upon these two points; -- (1) The necessity for such a Society in Newfoundland; (2) The Society itself.
(1) "That the word of the LORD may have free course and be glorified" (2 Thess. 3, 1) is, or should be, as much the desire and endeavour of every Minister of Christ, as of the great Apostle himself. To proclaim, therefore, that your Ministers have neglected this sacred and important duty, and that a new Society is necessary to supply their lack of service, is no light censure: not, I would hope, intended; and not, I am sure, merited in this case.
What are the facts? During his whole ministry among you, now of six years' standing, MR. BRIDGE has, yearly and each year, procured from England large numbers of the Sacred Scriptures; and through both the Clergy and Schoolmasters, by gratuitous distribution and sale at reduced prices, in St. John's and the Outharbours, has laboured to extend their circulation, and put them within the reach of all classes and denominations of the people. Through this channel any persons might have readily, as many have constantly, received supplies; -- and, by putting money into Mr. BRIDGE'S hands for this specific purpose, the /48/ supplies might have been increased, and the cost reduced, to any amount supposed necessary. And I believe most members of the Church, both in St. John's and the Outharbours, were aware of this opportunity.
One of my first cares, on undertaking the office of your Bishop, was to provide for the regular introduction and distribution of the Holy Scriptures; with other standard religious books, as the Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies, &c.; -- confining myself for that purpose to the Catalogue of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. A supply was ordered before I left England, and since my arrival and residence among you several additional supplies have been ordered and received. These were made available to the Clergy and others, and copies of the Sacred Volume have been regularly forwarded where required, and sold at very reduced prices. In my first voyage of Visitation two large boxes of books were taken on board the Church Ship, and many Bibles and Testaments distributed; and the means of obtaining them, through the Clergy, explained and published everywhere. As, however, I was aware that to some persons it might not be convenient, and to some not agreeable to apply to the Clergy, I made arrangements, -- with considerable trouble to myself and others, and not without some expense, -- to open a Depository for public sale, where any person might at any time find and purchase, at reduced prices, various copies of the Sacred Scriptures. And to give the greater opportunity and facility to poor persons, small sums were to be received, in part payment, till the whole price of the Book could be paid up. Persons of any class or denomination may thus purchase; and no questions asked. My intention of making these arrangements was announced at the last anniversary of the Church Society, and they were made and completed accordingly before the close of /49/ last year. An office was opened at Mr. MCCOUBREY'S, the most central part of the town, and Bibles with Prayer Books, &c., exposed to sale, to all purchasers; at the same price currency for which they are sold sterling in England. No charge was added for freight or other expenses. It was my wish that all extra expenses should be met by the Church Society; but, if there had been any difficulty in that quarter, I was prepared cheerfully to defray them myself.
From this statement of facts two conclusions, I think, may certainly be drawn: -- 1st., That, whatever may have been the case in other quarters, there has been no neglect of this sacred and important service on the part of your Ministers. They have made diligent, and all necessary provision for the regular and extended circulation of the Holy Scriptures; not only among their own flocks and friends, but among all classes and denominations. They have provided the means and machinery, and GOD we trust will yet own and bless their labours, in His own way and time, and to His own glory, through Jesus Christ. 2d., That no new Society, at least for members of the Church in Newfoundland, can be requisite or desirable. It may appear like vanity, but I really do not perceive how the sale and circulation of the Holy Scriptures can be more readily and effectually promoted, than by the arrangements I have made; and it is obvious the reduction of price or gratuitous distribution may be as great as benevolent and pious persons think fit to make it. And knowing now what your Bishop and Clergy have done, and are doing in this behalf, you cannot require a new Society, upon any plea of necessity, or advantage, as regards the circulation of the Sacred Scriptures among us.
(2.) In speaking of the Bible Society itself, I choose to avail myself of the published remarks of the present Bishop of Salisbury, than whom, I believe, no /50/ person ranks higher among Churchmen for wisdom and piety. His testimony will have the greater weight because he was himself a member of that Society, and withdrew from it, not we may be sure lightly, or without a struggle with himself, and prayers for GOD'S blessing and direction. Another reason for using his remarks is that I may avoid all appearance of reflecting personally upon any individuals or classes among us.
LETTER OF THE LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY.
ON WITHDRAWING FROM THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
". . . . The following are the considerations which were mainly instrumental in leading my mind to the conclusion at which I have arrived.
"1. THE CONSTITUTION AND CHARACTER OF THE PUBLIC MEETINGS BY WHICH THE BUSINESS OF THE SOCIETY IS CARRIED ON. 2. THE MANNER IN WHICH ITS OPERATIONS FREQUENTLY INTERFERE WITH THE GOOD ORDER OF THE CHURCH, AND OBSTRUCT THE MINISTRY OF THE PAROCHIAL CLERGY. 3. THE TENDENCY OF THE SOCIETY TO OBSCURE THE OFFICE OF THE CHURCH IN RELATION TO THE WORD OF GOD.
"I will, as briefly as I can, explain what I mean on each of these points.
"Whoever has been in the habit of attending the meetings of the Bible Society is aware that they are composed of persons belonging to every variety of religious denomination, and holding every shade of opinion which is compatible with the acceptance of the Holy Scriptures as a revelation from GOD. All these persons meet together, and, from the nature of the occasion which assembles them, with an appearance of recognized equality in a matter touching upon the foundation of religious belief. The Independent, the Baptist, the Quaker, the Socinian assemble on the platform by the side of the member of the Church, on a common understanding that their differences are PRO HAC VICE to be laid /51/ aside, and their point of agreement in receiving the Bible as the word of GOD, and being zealous for its distribution, is to be alone considered. Do not let me be misunderstood as implying that a dishonourable compromise of opinion on the part of anyone is required by the constitution of the Society. On the contrary, I know that "union without compromise" is a sort of watchword in it. But what I do say is, that the necessary tendency of a meeting so composed is to magnify the point of agreement between its members, and to sink, as of comparative insignificance, their respective differences. Whoever has been in the habit of attending meetings of the Bible Society must be familiar with such expressions as that the members of the Society are only separated by `unimportant differences,' and are joined in `essential unity'; whereas an examination of what these `unimportant differences,' are, will show that, in one quarter or another, they comprise most of the chief doctrines, and all the ordinances, of the Christian religion; and are so clearly recognized in the constitution of the Society as to make it impossible for a meeting of persons assembled to promote the distribution of GOD'S word to unite in worshipping Him in prayer.
"I have felt, therefore, that the practical tendency of such meetings is to foster a spirit of indifference to the most vital doctrinal truth, as well as yet more clearly to exhibit a disregard of the distinctive character of the Church, as the body to which that truth is entrusted. A member of the Church at such meetings is always liable to hear statements made on those topics which must either be replied to at the risk of very inopportune discussion, or apparently be sanctioned by being passed over in silence.
"The second point on which I proposed to remark is the manner in which the operations of the Society /52/ frequently interfere with the good order of the Church, by being obtruded into the parishes of clergy who do not feel at liberty to take a part in them. A very great proportion of the clergy are not members of the Bible Society; but from the constitution of that body its operations are necessarily carried on without reference to this, and meetings are holden in the parishes of such clergy contrary to their wishes.
"It not infrequently happens, in such a case, that a clergyman finds that a meeting of the Bible Society is to take place in his parish. The dissenting chapel is perhaps the place of assembly. Of his own parishioners the chief supporters of the cause are the leading Dissenters. But members of the Church from other parishes, who are supporters of the Society, also attend. Perhaps some neighbouring clergy are inducted, even under such circumstances, to take part in the proceedings, which thus practically assume the appearance of giving a sanction and support to the system of dissent; tend to lower the influence of the clergyman with his parishioners; and to make the very distribution of the Scriptures a means of upholding those `erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to GOD'S word,' which every clergyman is bound by his ordination vow, `with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away.' I have had repeated and painful experience of such cases in the course of the last five years; and I have felt that, while I continue a member of the Society, the sanction of my authority was indirectly given to proceedings which I could not but regard as very detrimental to the good order of the Church, and the influence of the Clergy in their respective parishes. Reflection upon these two great practical evils in the working of the Society will, I think, show that they both proceed from the same fundamental error, that, viz., of forgetting that a body /53/ so constituted is not properly capable of performing functions which essentially appertain to the Church in her character of `witness and keeper of Holy Writ,' and are capable of being satisfactorily discharged by her alone. I mean satisfactorily discharged on the principles which a member of the Church is bound to recognize; because the indifference to positive doctrine, and the unlimited license of private judgment, both in points of faith and discipline, which it is the effect of the system of the Society to foster, are as much at variance with the spirit of the Church as they are agreeable to the views of some of the bodies that are separated from her. And this is the third ground which I mentioned as having influenced my judgment in coming to the decision I have done.
"I have now stated the reasons which have brought me to the conclusion that the British and Foreign Bible Society is not so constituted as to enable it to discharge, in the best and most satisfactory manner, the great office it has undertaken; and that, sensible as I am of the importance of the object proposed, and anxious to promote it, I cannot properly cooperate with this Society in doing so, or continue a member of it, consistently with my duty in other respects.
I have, &c., &c.,
MARCH 2, 1842.
Now, without meaning to adopt and apply these remarks in every point and particular, I may be allowed, as before, to state two conclusions or corollaries, which appear to me obvious, necessary, and of great importance.
1st. That if a Bishop of the Church, of great wisdom, piety and experience, is constrained to withdraw from the Society, knowing its nature and practical working, a younger Bishop may well be excused if he hesitates to join or support it.
/54/ 2d. If one Bishop is constrained to withdraw from the Society, and, not one but, many hesitate to join or support it, and your own Clergy, influenced by these and other reasons, all reject it; you, as Churchmen and friends of the Church, must reflect and pause; especially when you have another Society, long established, among you, pursuing the same object, sanctioned and supported by your own Bishop and Clergy, and by nearly all the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England.
Commending these remarks to your charitable and prayerful consideration,
I am, Friends and Brethren,
Your affectionate Pastor,
And servant for JESUS' sake,
ST. JOHN'S, JUNE 1846.
The Act of Uniformity provides "that every Parson, Vicar and Minister, in his Church upon some Lord's Day," within a prescribed period, "shall openly and publicly before the Congregation there assembled declare his unfeigned assent and consent to the use of all things in the said Book [of Common Prayer] contained and prescribed, in these words and no other; -- "I, A.B., do hereby declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained and prescribed in and by the Book entitled the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church," &c.
/55/ APPENDIX C.
"By REAL we understand TRUE, in opposition both to fiction and imagination; and to those shadows that were in the Mosaical dispensation, in which the manna, the rock, the brazen serpent, but most eminently, the cloud of glory, were the types and shadows of the Mesias that was to come; with whom came grace and truth, that is, a most wonderful manifestation of the mercy and grace of GOD, and a verifying of the promises made under the law: in this sense we acknowledge A REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST in the Sacrament." (Burnet's Exposition.)
"The bread and wine are not changed in their substance from being the same with that which is found at the ordinary table; but, in respect of the sacred use whereunto they are consecrated, such a change is made that they differ as much from common bread and wine, as heaven from earth. Neither are they to be accounted barely significative, but truly exhibitive also of those Heavenly things whereunto they have relation: as being appointed by GOD to be a means of conveying the same unto us, and putting us in actual possession thereof. So that in the use of this holy ordinance, as verily as a man with his bodily hand and mouth receiveth the earthly creatures, so verily doth he with his spiritual hand and mouth, (if any such he have,) receive the body and blood of CHRIST; and this is that REAL AND SUBSTANTIAL PRESENCE which are affirmed to be in the inward part of this sacred action. The truth which must be held is this, that we do not receive only the benefits that flow from CHRIST, but the very body and blood of CHRIST, that is CHRIST himself crucified. (Archbishop Usher in his Sermon before the Commons House of Parliament, A.D., 1620.)