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“ against the usurping prelates ? It is impossible. “ That bishops therefore should obtain wherever “ the Gospel did, so soon, and with such universal “ silence, cannot be accounted for in any other
way, than that the Gospel and the episcopate “ came in upon the same divine title."* Such is the rational conclusion of Mr. Reeves, in his treatise on the right use of the fathers, and if any thing was wanting to confirm its truth, it may be found in the discovery of the Syrian Christians, that venerable Church, which, originally planted by the Apostle St. Thomas, and since separated from all communication with the Christian world, has preserved, for so many hundred years, its original and apostolic form, and presents at this day, in its quiet retreat, the order, doctrine, and worship, of the Church, under that pure and primitive model for which we contend.
My brethren, in concluding this argument in favour of our Church, let it be distinctly remembered, and perfectly understood, that we do not plead for Episcopal government merely because it is that which the whole current of historic testimony presents to our view; though this were no mean evidence in its behalf.
We do not plead for it because of the veneration which, during the course of fifteen centuries, its unquestionable authority, and universal prevalence, had procured; though that were no slight reason why it should be retained.
* Reeves altered. See the original source of his remarks. Whitby, Preface to Epistle to Titus, last part.
We do not plead for it because of its preservation at this day, notwithstanding 300 years of opposing influence, and of unsparing obloquy ; though this might satisfy maný minds of the strength of its foundation, and the justice of its claims. Nor, on the other hand, do wė plead the testimony of those who abandoned Episcopacy, at the same time that they praised it; though we hold the candid testimony of an opponent to be no ordinary or despicable plea.
We do not plead for Episcopal government, that it is that under which the Church rode out the storms of persecution, and advanced under God from contumely to triumph, from caves and dens of the earth to palaces and empires, from the cross upon Calvary to the throne of the Cæsars.
We do not present it to you as being the badge of that Church in whose bosom were early nurtured many who are now enrolled among the noble army of martyrs; which, in every age, has
, contributed, from its faithful members, to swell the number of the just made perfect; and which, in later times, has produced ornaments, lights, and able defenders, of the Gospel cause, to whom the world has had none superior.
No, I rest not upon any of these truths the
claim for your devotion and respect to the Episcopal cause; neither will I plead for the sanctity of the Episcopal office, that it is that in which Clement, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, and a long succession of men, of whom the world was not worthy, felt honoured to do service to their Lord; and from the active duties of which Ignatius was conveyed to the Roman amphitheatre, and Polycarp to the consuming flame.
All these claims upon our veneration, our affection, our pride, and our attachment, we may be asked to forget. And perhaps, for the sake of Christian unity, might be willing to disregard. But there is a plea to which it were culpable to be indifferent. There is a claim which we must not cease to urge. It is the plea of conscious right. It is the claim of divine and scriptural truth. We may, indeed, forget every thing else, every appeal to our admiration, to our reverence, to our love; but we may not yield our interest in a cause which we believe to be the cause of God, and of his Church. We cannot abandon a sacred institution, traced to the very times of the apostles, and coming down to us with the sanction of the seal of our Lord, who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
Thus much, my brethren, seemed necessary to be said in behalf of the primitive ministry of our Church, when soliciting your contribution to a Vol. II.
fund,* by which it is hoped, at some future day, to release from the duties of a parish the bishop of our diocese, and to enable him to give himself wholly to the high concerns of the Episcopal office. The advantages which would thence result to the Church at large, I need not enumerate. And if, in this instance, personal motives could come into the account, we might find strong reasons for increasing that fund, and hastening its application, in our just desire to see our present diocesan released from some of his many cares and fatigues, and enabled to give all his time to the fulfilment of his arduous and responsible duties. For him, however, I do not plead. He has not derived, neither is it probable that he ever will derive, advantage from that fund, which is restrained from being applied until it has reached an amount which, for a long period to come, it cannot attain. His head will be laid low, the Church will have mourned over one of the most ardent and most faithful of her sons, and he himself will have gone to his reward, before that day arrives. Still the Church will remain; the Church which Christ has established; which he has committed to us to perpetuate and to extend; the Church into which we were baptized, and around
* Preached, agreeably to the requisition of a Canon of the Convention of the Diocese of New York, for the benefit of the Episcopal Fund of that Diocese.
which our affections are entwined; the Church in whose communion we live; in whose communion we hope to die; that Church will remain. Let us give freely and nobly to maintain her cause, and extend her influence. For our brethren and companions sake, let us wish her prosperity; yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, let us seek to do her good. 0! pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love her.