« PreviousContinue »
presenting to you this pastoral address. has followed the precept to remember the consecration of a bishop for the state
And unless a diligent study of the ori. his Creator « while the evil days come ginal languages, of sacred criticism, not"_burning with zeal to advance Christian evidences, church polity, ec- the glorious work which his Saviour clesiastical history, and systematic descended from heaven to accomplish, theology-unless the study of these can and with this view endeavouring to be supposed injurious in its tendency, make a diligent use of the talent comthis object will not be proposed in vain. mitted to his care. How greatly will In a public seminary, every thing unites his ardour be increased, and his affec to impress religion upon the heart, as tions enlarged, if he meets with kindred well as upon the understanding. Qur's spirits to encourage and aid him in his is not a faith which shrinks from exa onward course! Who then will say, mination, or suffers by enlightened re- that his progress should be checked, or search. To no one does scripture ad his aspirations repressed, by the denial dress itself so forcibly, as to him who of that which experience and observahas searched into its meaning, who has tion show to be necessary? apprehended its spirit, and imbibed its It is not here pretended, that the im. unadulterated truth. Moreover, true perfect comparison which has been inChristian emulation must naturally stituted will hold in all cases; or that exert a powerful influence in a public the disadvantages of a private educaseminary. There we see young men tion will operate universally. We have engaged in the same studies, looking
in our own country many illustrious inforward to the same pursuits, and ex stances to the contrary; and reason, pecting the same glorious reward of a equally with revelation, assures us that well-spent stewardship. And whoever the greatest difficulties may be overconsiders the influence of example, the come, through God's assistance, by perimpulse of comparison, and the efficacy severance, industry, and assiduity. But of association, will easily allow the im- still, whatsoever will tend to lessen mense importance of this. We may these difficulties, should be resorted to naturally suppose that men so situated
with alacrity, and pursued without he will urge
each other forward in the glo- sitation. That such is the tendency of rious cause; that the fire which glows a public seminary will, I think, be de in the breast of one will be communi- nied by none who have experienced its cated to others, and the same spirit ani- advantages, or attended to its effects. mate all to approve themselves in the
God, who overrules all things to the sight of God, “as workmen that need
advancement of his glorious purposes, not be ashamed.”
has proinised to prosper Thus it will happen, that knowledge though feeble endeavours of his sera and piety will be handmaids to each vants; and what he has promised, if other
, and together contribute to make we faithfully perform our parts, he the man of God perfect, thoroughly will assuredly fulfil. furnished unto all good works." To produce this, many other circumstances concur in a public seminary, besides A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and Laity those already mentioned. It is suffi of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the cient to have dwelt a little on the fact,
United States of America, from the Bi; and to have considered some of the
shops of the same, assembled in General
Convention, in St. Peter's Church, in the exceptions which are usually urged
City of Philadelphia, May, A.D. 1823. against it. Other considerations might
Brethren, be offered in favour of these institutions, of no small weight and import- with the clerical and lay deputies of one
Being assembled in General Convention, ance. The promotion of Christian feel church, from the
several sections of the and the excitement of generous ardour, on us by the foriy-fifth canon of 1868, din must result, with the divine blessing, from association for the same glorious the one that is not the episcopal body made
We congratulate large on object. See that generous youth who
during the session of this convention, by
of North-Carolina. Our prospects were, the faith and knowledge of God, and to for a long time, especially discouraging, that ripeness and perfectness of age in because of the prostration of our church in Christ, that there be no place left among that district of our civil union. Within us either for error in religion or for vithese few years, the scene had brightened, ciousness in life." Especially, the calling by deputies sent to the last three General of sinners to repentance, and the carrying Conventions, and by well attested informa of the consolations of the gospel to the tion of the increase of congregations, and bosoms, as well of those in sorrow under of renewed attention to religious institu. the sense of sin, as of those borne down by tions. Under the influence of feelings any of the calamities of life, will be, to the excited by these events, it cannot but be faithful minister, incentives to constant highly gratifying to us, to have bad peranxiety and exertion. Also, to the godly sonal agency in conveying the episcopal of every occupation, there will be motives character to a brother unanimously elect to the doing of whatever may reasonably ed for that department of the vineyard; be expected, for the encouraging of him whom we receive with confidence to parti- in his pastoral duties. cipation in our counsels ; and from whose From the same statements, we derive qualifications we hope, that under the di. the satisfaction of finding, that it has vine blessing, he will be eminently useful pleased Cod to give his blessing on the in extending the kingdom of the Redeemer. endeavours which have been put forth, as
We behold with pleasure, the accession well by individuals as by religious assoof deputies from the church in the state of ciations, for the extending of the means of Georgia, the only one of the original thir. grace, both to destitute and decaying conteen states of the union, which had hitherto gregations which had been formerly fou. borne no part in our proceedings : not, as rishing, and to the people of our commuis believed, from the not feeling of any in nion in those extensive tracts of country terest in the welfare of our church; but which have been lately subjected to culti. because of the want of suitable persons to vation; and in which, without aid from the give a beginning to energetic measures, for seats of their former residence, there is the revival of her dormant institutions. the danger of the degenerating of their
There bas been submitted to us by the posterity to utter ignorance of the truths bouse of clerical and lay deputies, an ex of our holy religion; and consequently to hibition, gathered from the reports of the licentiousness, and perhaps to barbarism. several local conventions, of the circum But while we rejoice in every instance of stances of the church within their respec. Christian zeal, put forth for the perpetutive bounds
ating of the light of the gospel wherever On the perúsal of the statements, it be it is in danger of being lost, we cannot came to us an agreeable subject of contem shut our eyes to the notorious facts that plation, that our church, throughout these the breaches made in our Zion, during for. states, is on the increase; as is attested mer years of distress, are not yet repaired; by the many new churches erected in vå. and that the growth of the new settlements rious places, and by additions to the num in population, is beyond proportion to any bers of worshippers in very many of the aids which have been administered to congregations. May God grant, that in them. Although the latter circumstance proportion as there shall be seen in her is the result of the many years of the une what verifies the promise to the church exampled prosperity of our common coun. generally, of there being “ a lengthening try; yet we foresee, that however great of the cords and a strengthening of the this blessing in itself, it calls for the alstakes of her habitations, there may be liance of religion; without which, it will found a proportionate “adorning of the eventually be a calamity, by a deterioradoctrine of our God and Saviour in all tion of the national character, poisoning things.” But while we cherish the hope the sources of public happiness. that the labours of the ministry have not It is a more unmixed source of satisface been without fruit in relation to this its tion to us, that there is visible, over the great end ; yet we are aware, that, to use face of our communion, a disposition to the language of one of our articles, " the strengthen the bonds of Christian charity; evil will ever be mingled with the good," and to avoid such questions as gender or, to use the more authoritative language strife, and often end in schism. From the of our Saviour, that “ the tares will grow beginning of our organization, this temper together with the wheat,” and that, there. of conciliation has been manifested; and fore, there will still press on ourselves, may therefore be humbly hoped to have and on all our reverend brethren, the been generated by the gracious influences charge laid on us in ordination, of “never of the great Being, who, as one of our cola ceasing our labour, our care, and our dili. lects expresses it, is "the Author of peace genee, until we have done all that lieth in and lover of concord.” That there should us, according to our bounden duty," to be occasionally differences of opinion, esbring all “such as are or shall be commit- pecially on subjects locally interesting, is ted to our charge, unto that agreement in to be expected from the imperfection and
the frailties of human nature. But they the seat of which is the city of Philadelmay stop short of material injury, if they phia. should hereafter, as heretofore, be con. Although our more immediate motive ducted with moderation, and yield to the to the combining of the two institutions in interposition of healing counsels; which, this address, is, their being coincident in under the blessing of God, may improve regard to the period of their respective orsuch occasions to the promoting of his ganization ; yet we also consider them as glory, by their being made provocatives having a bearing on one another. The to love and to good works.
theological seminary may be expected to It is no small addition to the satisfac. increase the number of labourers in the tion of “ being at peace among ourselves," Lord's vineyard; and it is owing to a defithat we are on terms of good neighbour. ciency in this particular, added to there hood and Christian sympathy, with our being so many destitute congregations in fellow Christians of other denominations. the long settled states, that so few have We promised in ordination, to “maintain felt the calls of religious ardour, or conand set forwards, as much as in us should ceived of it as a duty, to give their perlie, quietness, peace, and love among all sonal agency, in extending the influence Christian people :" and although this ob- of religion over states recently organized ject is not to be accomplished by the sur. and settled. There being a central point, rendering of gospel truth, since we are around which there will be congregated bound to “ contend for the faith once de- young men from different sections of the livered to the saints ;" yet it is a duty union, will be a mean, not only of binding which may be discharged under the con to diligence in study, but of the excitetrol of Christian meekness. Moreover, if ment of religious zeal. it should seem to any, that, for the “ fol. For some considerable time, the design lowing of peace with all men,” there of a theological seminary wavered between should be an abandonment of those pro- the scheme of its being constituted for perties of our church, which we believe to the whole union, and that of its being left have descended to us from the earliest and entirely to the discretion of any of the best ages; such compliance would not authorities in the different diocesses, in only be contrary to obligations most so which there should be felt competency lemnly assumed, but, far from promoting combined with inclination. The latter the proposed object of conciliation, would principle was favoured by considerations be more operative than any other cause not unworthy of attention, but yielding to that can be imagined, to the opening of a the advantages considered as attached to door for the hydra of religious controver the other scheme of a general seminary: sy. The wisest and the most Christian which, it is to be hoped, will be more and course that can be pursued by us, is to more developed. It has been thought not conduct the concerns of our church agree. likely, that, for the purpose of accommoably to its matured and long existing in- dation to sections distant from one anostitutions, and under the sense of respon. ther, there could be a sufficient number of sibility to its Divine Head; but without diocesses, the schools of which cold raise reference to others, professing to worship funds adequate to the giving of scope to the same God through the merits of the the talents of professors in the various game Redeemer; except to put the most branches; and provide, in other respects, favourable construction on their acts, to for what could be requisite for the suprejoice in any good resulting from them, porting of them with reputation and useand scrupulously to avoid whatever may fulness. Besides, in proportion to the have a tendency to excite angry passions, number of students, there may be expect. either in them or in ourselves.
ed a correspondent measure of excitement In our former pastoral letters, we have to study, and of information arising from freely delivered our opinions on the various the mutual exchange of sentiment in reli. points which were considered by us, at the gious conversation. Under either of the several times, as the most interesting to schemes, and within the sphere of such our communion. They are still held by us communications, there may arise differ. in the same grade of importance: but at ences of opinion issuing in controversies, present, we rather refer to those addresses, sometimes verging either to the generatas records of the sentiments which we are ing of uncharitableness, or to the opening still desirous of sustaining, and of impress- of a door to real or supposed error. If the ing on the minds of all degrees of per. issue should be the obtruding of dogmas sons within our church; in order that we alien from the great truths of religion, and may, at this time, invite your attention to threatening the peace and the orthodoxy two institutions, which were matured and of our communion, they will be more likely solemnly established by the late special to be borne down by a board of professors, convention, held in the autumn of the year and by a competent number of trustees, 1821. We mean the theological seminary enjoying the confidence of the representa located in the city of New York, and the tive body of the church, than in circumsociety for domestic and foreign missions, stances under which an equal weight of
opinion is not generally to be expected. In until lately, of undertaking their relief cases, more likely to occur, of variety of with a sufficient degree of confidence of opinion not endangering the essential interests of religion; and to which, there The time is at last come, when, in the fore, the exercise of authority should not estimation of the representative body of extend, we suppose and our opinion on our church, her energies should be put the point is independent on all considera. forth for the effectuating of the object. At tions besides the nature of the subject the meeting of the directors in the month that intolerance would be more apt to of May last, there was appointed an exeshow its head within a very limited, than cutive committee, with limited powers, within a very enlarged splrere. It were but competent to the appointing of agents much to be apprehended, that op subjects for the obtaining of funds; to be in readion which latitude is designedly tolerated ness for the choosing of missionaries at by the churcli, opposite instructions would the next anuual meeting, determined by be the standards of orthodoxy in different the constitution to be coincident with that places; the opposing parties affirming of of the present convention. their respective sentiments, that they are The agents of the executive committee fundamental.
have been industrious in the discharge of For these reasons, and for others less the duties of their appointments : but al. prominent, preference has been given to though their endeavours have not been the general plan which has been establish without the fruit of pecuniary contribu. ed by the special convention; and which tions, paid into the treasury; yet we decarries to our minds a great weight of re. pend, principally, on the zeal which they commendation, from the improvements have been the mean of exciting in various which have been made by that body, at places; and on the measures which bave the cost of the sacrifice of local partiali. been consequently put into operation, with ties. We are aware, however, of the cases the fairest prospects of success. which happen of young men, who can be Although the success of the executive supported under parental roofs, and within committee, constituted in May last, has the reach of instruction; while their means fallen short of their expectations; yet it is may be incompetent to distant journeys partly owing to a cause not to be regret. and residence. The wants of our church ted, because answering the same purpose are too many and too pressing to permit in other lines of direction--the instituting the discouragement, in reference to the of missionary societies in several states, ministry, of any persons possessed of the in which they had not before existed, for requisite qualifications, who may have the supply of the wants of destitute disbeen under the tuition of some learned and tricts in the said states respectively. So pious clergyman of our communion. far as this provision extends, it is propor
From the concerns of the theological tionably a relief of the general society: seminary, we pass to those of the society and although it is earnestly wished and for domestic and foreign missions. The hoped, that wherever there exists a local objects contemplated by it, had engaged society, there will be the concurrence of the attention of our church, at an early pe aid to the object contemplated by the Ge. riod of its organization. In the year 1789, neral Convention of our church; yet we do and in the first convention held after the not undertake, in regard to any part of 'obtaining of the episcopacy, there was the union, to calculate the comparative
brought forwards and adopted a plan for weights of the different claims : of which, the carrying of the design into effect; and in every case, the church in question in some places, there were incipient pro- should be considered as the proper judge. ceedings under it. So depressed, however, Be the determinations on those con pari. at that time, was the state of our commu sons what they may, we trust that where. nion generally; and in very many and very
ever there may be bestowed benefactions large tracts of country, so destitule had for the sending of missionaries to people the population become of the means of destitute of the means of grace, there will grace, after having formerly enjoyed them not be denied a portion of the benefit to agreeably to the ministry and the services the inhabitants of those extensive districts, of our church, that without intermediate who have especial claims from the recency revivals of our institutions, where they of their settlements, and their distances had become dormant, there was wanting a from the ministry which they look to as sufficient basis on which to construct a legitimate. machinery, the operation of which might Our western brethren stand to us in a be expected to be felt in districts recently relation like that in which the elder states subjected to cultivation, and in large states were to our parent church, before the sea rising into existence. In the mean while, verance of the political tie connecting the field for Christian zeal was continually them: or rather, the community of interest enlarging, not without exciting deep feel. is stronger in the present case, on account ing in our minds for the wants of our dis. of the nearness of neighbourhood. Of the Lant brethren; but without the prospect, aids which were extended to us, under the
excitements of the venerable prelates of deration, whether their laudable endea. that church, there are imperishable re vours may not have a pernicious effect on cords. The bishops of the American the credit of our religious institutions ; church are anxious to follow the honour. so as to lessen the probability of their beable example, which has been transmitted ing received within any sphere where to them with the episcopal succession; they may be promulged. For although and they hope that the episcopalians we do not concede that zeal is an exact throughout the union will adopt the mea measure of the truth which it may be callsure of showing themselves worthy of the ed forth to propagate; yet there may seem beneficence which was extended to their cause to doubt of the validity of tenets, forefathers, and that they will repay the which, not merely from peculiarity of benefit, not in the quarter from which it time or of place, but generally, and among came, and where it is neither wanted nor a widely extended population, do not ex. demanded; but to bodies of our fellow. cite to the spreading of the knowledge of members of the same communion; who what is supposed to be connected with possess claims similar to those which we the highest interests of mankind. know to have not been made in vain.
We are not strangers to the insufficiency It may be a question, whether, in default of many attempts, in former times put of this, the vicinity of the old states to the forth, for the extending of the religion of new, do not only not profit the latter, but the Redeemer: but we detect the princioperate to their loss. In England, there pal cause of failure, in the incompatibility have lately risen societies, some of them of the means with the end. When the composed wholly of members of the estab. sword and the cross have been beheld in lished church of that country; and others an unnatural union, for the subjecting of considerably under the influence of per. 'nations to crowns having no title to their sons of the same description, which ex- allegiance; and to a supremacy in the tend their Christian beneficence to many church, having no foundation in the scripand very remote realms. The most distant tures; it is not surprising that there parts of Asia and of Africa have felt the should either be generated deadly hatred ; effects of their zeal. What should prevent or that there should ensue a profession their taking of our western settlements decorated by the name of Christian, but under their fostering care? It may be sup having little else to constitute a title to posed that nothing would prevent it, were the character. When attempts have been applications made, and were supplies des- made under better auspices, and with pu. paired of from a nearer source, more rea rity of motive, but under such mistaken sonably looked to. God forbid that so views of the subject as to substitute evanfoul a stain should attach to the American escent feeling for “the demonstration of church and to her children.
the spirit and of power;" that is, evidence From the tenor of the reasons given in of prophecy and of miracle, with which favour of the domestic branch of the mis- the Apostles made their extensive consionary society, it cannot but appear that quests within the former dominion of heawe contemplate it as the more prominent thenism; it is no matter of wonder that object of the institution. We, however, there should be but little good accomconsider the foreign department of it, as plished, and no lasting effect of that littlc. not only enjoined on us and on all the It is to be hoped that the time is come, members of the church by the terms of when not only a more righteous, but a the constitution ; but to rest on our con more intelligent zeal has found its opensciences, as the exaction of Christian chari- ings, and is in successful progress. ty, and issuing out of the high command Although we have placed this matter “Go into all the world, and preach the in the second degree of importance ; yet Gospel to every creature.” Other denomi.
we cannot but be of opinion, that there nations of professing Christians have been are two claims of the kind, which ought before us in this work. Is it, then, that to press on us with great weight. One our standards of doctrine, or that our of them is that which comes from the modes of worship, are less worthy of pro. western coast of Africa ; and the other is pagation, or less likely to conciliate the that which reaches us from our aboriginal understandings, or to interest the feelings neighbours, in the western regions of our of persons in the darkness of heathenism? continent. It is not enough that we wit. We trust that neither of these is the fact.
ness increasing conviction and ablorrence | Why then should we be backward to take of the iniquity of the slave trade. There
our share of labour and of expense, in the should be acknowledgment of past error, great field lately opened to the zeal of the in energy to be now put forth, for the reChristian world! In regard to bodies of deeming of the injured country from idoprofessing Christians, whose principles latry and barbarism. As for the Indians differ from those of our Apostolic Church, on our borders, it is notorious that bewe respect their zeal, and rejoice in any sides the frauds sometimes practised, and good which may be achieved by it. But we the wars provoked, for the obtaining of submit, as a subject of very serious consi. the possession of their lands, the circum