[Transcribed by Michael Sampson, March 1999, from a copy in the Kenyon College Library]




Rt. Rev. M. A. De Wolfe Howe, D.D.,




by the

Rt. Rev. Gregory Thurston Bedell, D.D.,

Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Ohio,








Episcopacy: Fact and Law.

Acts xx. 28.   Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock,
over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you Overseers,
to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.

The Apostle's warning note rings like a trumpet; startling, clear, concentrated; and the echo of the ages carries it along. It is startling in its directness; clear, in its definition of responsibility; concentrated, in its wealth of truth; and the echoes of the consciousness of need, in every Christian age, have carried it to every true Pastor's heart, through all these eighteen centuries. Overseers, episkopoi, such are we Pastors. Overseers, an Episcopate; made so by the Holy Ghost. Let us take heed unto ourselves and to all the flock; for Christ hath purchased the Church of God with His own blood.

The text compresses many truths within its limits; as

An office: overseership.

Its origin: the Holy Ghost.

Its responsibilities: to feed the Church of God.

Their incentive: Christ hath purchased it with His own blood.

And each of these truths, regarded in the lights of Scripture, of history, or of experience, is crowded with suggestions. We make our selection. The occasion will not allow of many lines of thought.

1st. The office. We need sufficient light upon Episcopacy. When we enter some grand Cathedral, at the dawning of the morning, the devotion of centuries is waiting to commune with us behind the shadows, unseen. Lights of superstition on the altar, clouded by an incense of falsehoods before the altar, only make darkness visible, in the grand old pile which generations have been rearing for a House of God. But, as we wait and study, as the eye becomes accustomed to the distances, and as the morning breaks, with its helpful light, misty views of the majestic realities around us, begin to revolve themselves into aspects of truth. As yet the storied windows twist the still imperfect rays, and the carvings seem grotesque which were meant to be all gracefulness and beauty. But, when the sun has fully risen, and glorious light floods the vast Temple; when its proportions reveal themselves; when column, and capital, and arch, springing up towards heaven, give harmony of height with distance; when nave, and aisle, and transept, and chancel are seen to combine materials of strength with forms of varied loveliness; and, over them all, the sunlight spreads in every hue that now is circling the Great White Throne, the devotion of the present finds brotherhood with the devotion of the past, and is at home, where Apostles, Martyrs, and Saints of every age, have worshipped God. Then - for the light has come - experience, history, and Scripture, reveal the truth; then, the superstitions of the early morning pass away as visions of a night, remnants of dark ages. In the light of the Re-formation, the venerable pile appears, as when its stones were laid by loving hands in the First formation. And now that we see clearly, our souls worship with no reluctance, in the same old Church, where Apostles, Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons and Brethren have honored Christ, and illustrated the Gospel, throughout all the centuries.

All that we want is, light upon the subject of Episcopacy.

First, then, and chiefly to-day--


For the Church is assembled here by its representatives to perpetuate an office. We are to consecrate this godly and well learned man to the order of Bishops. Therefore, it is pertinent to inquire as to the authority of this office, and the need of perpetuating it in the Church -- an inquiry of prime import to all who shrink from the changeful temper of this age, and dread its tendency to loosen all bonds of discipline, and abjure all regimen, even though it be Divine. Therefore, I invite your attention primarily to the thought --


St. Paul reveals the germinal idea of Episcopal regimen in this text, uttered at a visitation of the Church at Ephesus. He is addressing overseers. But he is himself their overseer. The essential principle and peculiarity of this form of Church government is a graduated system of oversight, distinguished by orders in office, and degrees and limits of authority; each gradation limited by its own terms, but each order having entire responsibility within those limits. Pastors are overseers of the flock. Bishops are overseers of the pastors.

The text is evidence that such an Episcopacy existed in the Church at Ephesus. These "Elders of the Church," Presbyters, were overseers appointed by the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, an Apostle holds them responsible to himself, as their overseer. This is Episcopacy, and here is an Episcopate.

Episcopacy is a fact, to-day. Precisely as in that year of grace, so it is a fact in this year of our Lord, close to the end of 1871. There are three hundred and fifty millions of nominal Christians on the earth. Of these, two hundred and ninety-six millions are Episcopalians -- round numbers, as taken from late tables deemed of authority. Such numbers are not easily grasped, and any argument drawn from a comparison of numbers is liable to lose the true weight which belongs to it. It is not the purpose now, to draw any inference from the fact; but let the fact impress itself -- three hundred and fifty millions of souls now living, have been baptized into Christ's dear Name, and two hundred and ninety-six millions of them were baptized by ministers who were ordained by Bishops.

It will be said, "a majority of these are victims of superstition." Perhaps so. That does not alter the fact. It may be said, "Episcopacy has not preserved them in the truth." Possibly; but that does not alter the fact. And if it were not for a danger of weakening the impression of the fact, it would be easy enough to show that the absence of Episcopacy in a Church Government, does not always preserve it in the truth; and that Protestantism without an Episcopate, sometimes becomes a victim of superstition, and a prey to a liberty which is license, both in doctrine and in discipline. It would be easy to show that our Protestantism to-day, owes to the existence of Episcopacy, possession of the unmutilated Word of God, and the unvitiated truths of the Gospel, in formularies, which date to the Apostles, or to their immediate successors. It may be said, they could have been preserved without it. Perhaps so. But they were preserved within it, and it is not generous to fault, without qualification, that bark which floated our Gospel safely, over the deep and troublesome abyss of the dark ages. Possibly, that very superstition which we condemn was the means, in the strange mysteries of Providence, of preserving the elements of truth. For, when the raging waves of anti-Christianism, and of northern Barbarianism, were sweeping, in alternate tides, over the Church in Europe, in those dark centuries, returning society to chaos -- a chaos out of which the Regenerator, through the glorious Reformation, is re-creating a moral world that will welcome the coming of our Lord -- in those days, when everything that was known to be precious was swept away, and no treasure saved unless it were concealed, who shall say that God did not spare the Bible and the Gospel to the world, by means of the fact, that, many of their guardians neither knew their value, nor could point out their hiding places. And shall we forget Episcopalians, martyrs for truth, preachers of Christ crucified, Missionaries of the Cross, who, through all the darkness of those sad centuries, illustrated the Gospel within a Church stirring to its resurrection. Shall we forget Wickliffe, who, on this very day, Holy Innocents' Day, passed to his crown from officiating in this Church; Jerome of Prague; Huss; and the United Brethren (after their Church took form); the Waldenses; St. Bernard of the 12th century; Winfrid the great light of Germany, Bishop in the 8th century -- Episcopalians all?

But if we dwell upon these diversions from the line of thought you will forget the fact -- that out of 350 millions of baptized Christians in the earth today, 296 millions are Episcopalians. [1]

"Granted; but let us come to Protestantism," I hear some one say. We will come to Protestantism. There are ninety millions termed Protestants in Christendom. Of these, more than forty millions are Episcopalians. (Some tables set the number much higher.) The facts, although known, are not generally considered.

The Church in Sweden (Lutheran), exists under an Archbishop, with twelve Bishops; in Norway, five Bishops with a Primate; in Denmark, eleven Bishops under a Primate. In Scotland, the Episcopal Church has eight Bishops, with a Primus. In England there are twenty eight; Ireland, twelve; Canada, nine, under Archbishop and Metropolitans. In the United States we number fifty three, and to-day, God willing, we shall welcome another (and how gladly!) to our College. Besides these, sixty four Protestant Bishops are exercising their Apostolic functions, in the East Indies, and the West Indies, in South America, in South Africa, and West Africa, in Australia, in New Zealand, on the Pacific Coast of North America, among the islands of the Pacific Ocean, in China, Japan, on the Coast of Greenland, among the Hottentots, on the Rock of Gibraltar, and amidst the ruins of Jerusalem; dotting the Missionary world with an Episcopacy as extended as the Church itself.

Forty millions of Protestant Episcopalians. [2] But it may be said that forty millions of Protestants abjure Episcopacy; (concerning the remainder of Protestants, statistical tables being indefinite.) By no means. It is one of the salient points in this great fact which lies before us to-day, that out of these forty millions, sixteen millions have adopted the Episcopal principle, even adopting the formal name, although they do not preserve a distinct order of Bishops.

Five millions among that noble band of Methodists in this country, who more than any other Church of Christ amongst us, have carried the Gospel to the masses, have placed the oversight of their Pastors, under the responsibility of a College of Pastors, named Bishops, and clothed with more than the authority of our Episcopate.

Eleven millions of Lutherans, belonging to the Prussian Establishment, are organized into Dioceses, fifty one in Prussia proper, and three hundred and fifty one in its Provinces, over each of which a superintendent presides, called Bishop.

These sixteen millions hold the principle of graduated oversight, as St. Paul has taught it, and as we hold it; although they do not possess an historical Episcopacy. And when you except from the rest of Protestantism, those weighty and influential bodies, who adhere to government by Presbyters or Congregations, the remainder, although statistically included among Protestants, are fragments into which truth always flies away from its centre, when coherence of Church unity is lost. [3]

But this fact of the comparative prevalence of the principle of Episcopacy at the present day, and over the whole surface of Christendom, was equally a fact in every one of eighteen hundred years that have preceded. Indeed, as the student of history goes back among the centuries, concurrence in Episcopacy has fewer exceptions; until about five hundred years ago, this form of government was absolutely coextensive with the Church.

The only supposed exception is furnished by the history of the Waldensian Church -- a history which Milton has consecrated by the sacred fire of his immortal verse; a history of woe at which manhood shudders, and over which we may well weep, as we see an Episcopacy that held the truth of Christ, destroyed by an Episcopate that had denied it.

The Waldenses, in the 12th century, were still part of the Diocese of Turin. [4] Archbishop Claudius (9th century) had sympathized, in many respects, with protests against Rome, and himself fell under suspicion of the Pope; but he protected his co-religionists among the Piedmontese Alps, as long as he lived. After his death they maintained their orders, with increasing difficulty (especially after the latter part of the 12th century), but without question in public opinion, until near the age of Luther. For when the Moravians desired to establish a ministry, which could not be questioned even by their Romanist opposers, they sought orders from the Waldensian Church. Whereupon their Bishop, Stephen, with his assistants, consecrated for the Moravians, three Bishops, who had been sent to him for the purpose, by the Synod of Lhota. [5]

It is an interesting fact, that this Waldensian Church, although the historical continuity of the Episcopacy was at last destroyed under persecution, still retains the principle; for, three pastors form their governing Board of whom the President is invested with the sole power of ordination.

The main facts in the preceding statement were learned in the library of their own College, under the shadow of their own Alps, from their own histories, as I read the authorities under their own guidance.

So that, without hesitation we affirm that, five hundred years ago, Episcopacy was, not comparatively as now, but absolutely coextensive with the Church of Christ.

The facts on which we base our argument will not become more impressive by multiplication. The historical student, on the outlook for Episcopacy, has no trouble as he glances along the earlier 1000 years. As, from the Rigi, the rising sun is seen to touch each successive pinnacle of ice, in that amphitheatre of the Bearnese Oberland, from that which overlooks the Tyrol, around that which glances upon Italy, to that Tete Noir peak, which rears its solemn form towards sunny France, and the eye following these radiant witnesses, leaps across the whole of Switzerland; so the noble sponsors for Episcopacy stand, towering along the line of the horizon through those ten centuries, their feet touching each other on the Rock, and their venerable heads bathed in the sunlight of pure Evangelical truth. The eye that can see beholds the witnesses, and the ear that can hear marks loving concord, in their consenting testimony; St. Anscarius, Archbishop, who carried the Gospel to Sweden; Robert, Bishop of Worms, who made Christ known to the Bavarians; Willibrod, Missionary, then Bishop, who transferred a pure Christianity from England to Holland and Denmark; Augustine, who carried the tidings of the Gospel from France to Britain, where it was already known, and afterwards Archbishop. He was consecrated at Arles, whose Church was founded by Irenaeus, of Lyons, the friend and disciple of Polycarp; and so he was the link which united our venerated White, in Apostolic succession, to St. John; Augustine, of Hippo, the assistant Bishop, whom the aged Valerius made sharer of his duties and his throne; Augustine, whose religious experience and religious philosophy have left an indelible impression on the Church; the golden mouthed Chrysostom; the martyr Polycarp, the angel of the Church in Smyrna, like minded in gentleness and love with the Apostle John, who consecrated him to that See. And thus, across a thousand years, consenting and continuous witnesses, Bishops in the Church of God, lead us to the very presence of the Apostles. St. John's last legacy defines the responsibility of seven Bishops in the Church of Asia, of whom, according to Usher, Polycarp was one. St. Paul's Pastoral epistles to Timothy at Ephesus, and to Titus at Crete, affirm, in every line, the existence of their office as overseers of the elders. And St. Paul himself, after uttering the warning of our text, journeyed to Jerusalem, to take counsel with an Episcopal Church, which was presided over by one, who was not even among the twelve Apostles.

We cannot leave the fact there. Our Saviour familiarized His Apostles with this principle of graduated oversight and responsibility, by His own example. He laid the foundation of His Church in this form, ordaining twelve disciples, sending out seventy messengers, and over both of them presiding as the living Head. But it was not a new principle, even then. It was the established order in the Church of which Christ was a member: to which He gave this form when He talked with Moses, on Horeb, thirty five hundred years ago. Such is the fact, account for it as we may. A High Priest, Priests and Levites, was an Episcopal order thirty five hundred years ago. This was the form of Church Government under which Christ lived. [6] He repeated it as an example for His disciples. They perpetuated it as Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons. This principle links together all the Christian ages for nearly fifteen hundred years in an unbroken uniformity of regimen. And, to-day, forty millions of Protestants and two hundred and ninety-six millions of baptized Christians are Episcopalians.

Therefore, Episcopacy is a law. Therefore.

Bacon has taught us how to read the terms of a law, by induction from any series of facts that certify to uniformity of operation. Legal minds affirm that undisputed precedent is law. One master on the bench declares, that "uninterrupted precedent is absolute law." Certainly, then, we may determine the law of Christian organization, by induction, from this series of indisputable facts, which have run in one line through every generation of Christianity.

It is demonstration of the law. Nothing less than a law divinely given, divinely sanctioned, and intended to be perpetuated, can account for such a series of facts. Facts in science demonstrate a law. A law of nature is simply an historical definition of the mode in which God acts. Those actions being uniform, invariable, recurring year after year, recorded by all observers, written down in all histories, men affirm that there is a law, and base their insurance on it, and shape their mercantile adventures by it, and willingly risk their lives upon its unchangeableness. There is no law in your courts which can claim such an array of precedents as this. There is no law of nature (capable of exceptions) which shows rarer exceptions than this. There is no law of science, demonstrated by facts, which has an argument more unbroken.

God has governed His Church in this mode for 3,500 years. No certified exception is found for 3,000 years. By this rule, the Holy Ghost has wrought out the history of the kingdom of Christ. Learning, literature, arts, social progress, until the Reformation, were due to the labors of this system. And, since the Reformation, no small part of the advancement of society, in all departments, has received its impulse, if not its origination, from minds nurtured in this system. Modern missions were born within this Church, in the first years of the last century; [7] and, grand as is the record of Protestant missionary heroes, and their endeavors, no names stand higher on the roll, and no efforts have proven more permanent in results, than those which have proceeded from this divinely ordered system. To-day, the Holy Ghost is employing Episcopacy, as the means, through which He exercises His Vice-Royalty over two hundred and ninety-six millions of Christ's subjects. Perverted as the system is by most, yet this master fact stands out for our interpretation -- that, wherever Christ is named throughout the whole world, to-day, there the Holy Ghost has arranged for Himself, and holds in His own hand this system; every order complete, every detail perfect, waiting only for the touch of His regenerating grace. Then, everywhere, instantly, even where the worst corruption reigns, the Bible will be unlocked, seals will be broken from formularies rich in Gospel truth, praises and prayers now dead will spring to life, and go swift winged, full freighted, up to heaven. Then sacraments resume their blessed teaching, Elders become again overseers to feed the flock, Bishops, Pastors of the Pastors, begin again their sacred ministry, in every land which the sun touches -- not as lords over God's heritage, but as ensamples to the flock.

Is such a system not a law? Has the Holy Ghost given such shape to facts through all the Christian centuries, except by law? Listen to the judicious -- we cannot quote a more undisputed authority among scholars -- "Bishops, we say, there have been, even as long as the Church of Christ itself hath been." "The Apostles who planted it did themselves rule as Bishops over it." "A thousand five hundred years and upward, the Church of Christ hath now continued under the sacred regimen of Bishops. Neither, for so long, hath Christianity been ever planted in any kingdom throughout the world, but with this kind of government alone, which (he concludes) to have been ordained of God, I am for my own part, even so resolutely persuaded, as that any other kind of government in the world, whatsoever, is of God."

In determining a law, we argue from analogy, and in this present deduction, our conclusion strengthens itself by analogies of divine government. In the best form of civil society, whilst the faculty of legislature is exercised by many, judicial decisions are given by few, and the execution of the law is confined to one. An executive may employ a council of advice, but responsibility for action rests on him alone. Reason and history concur to show that Government is least effective, when a Legislature attempts to execute its own enactments. The Divine plan of Ecclesiastical Government avoids this error. God has carefully separated executive from other functions of His Church, and distributed the spheres of administration. Pastors are executives of parishes; Bishops of Dioceses. The whole Church represented enacts the laws: and, as in wise civil government, an executive, be he President or Monarch, is, in the last resort, amenable to public opinion and to law; so in the Christian commonwealth, both Pastors and Bishops have always been limited by Canons enacted by the Church at large, and have answered at the Church's bar for any impropriety of rule, or excess of authority. Thus, the Episcopal regimen -- this system of graduated oversight -- is consonant with God's form of Government in the State. It carries the weight of analogy. It approves itself to reason and experience, in the theory of civil society. And, although these considerations could not elevate it into law, they strengthen its obligation, since it is proved to be the law.

But, in scientific investigations, a law can never be considered settled, until exceptions are accounted for. Confidence in it increases, not only in proportion to the uniformity of the phenomena, but in proportion to the ease with which a rule reconciles all the facts, and develops the causes of exception. So our assurance in this Episcopal regimen is made finally and doubly sure, because the facts are uniform up to a well known historical era; and since that date, every exception is clearly defined, and is acknowledged to have been a voluntary (in some cases, as Calvin's, an ex necessitate, not a willing) departure from historical precedent and usage. [8] Reasons are given in every case; often weighty. Considerations are urged; circumstances of the times adduced. Men of keen wit, profoundest learning, holy lives, irreproachable conscientiousness, have defended their departure from hitherto acknowledged uniform custom. The very defense has rendered the exceptions apparent, and accounted for them. But it leaves this conclusion imprinted on Ecclesiastical literature: that Episcopal regimen, to which these are the exceptions, is the orderly and ordinary law of God for the government of His Church.

No induction of a natural law becomes more convincing, than when it is found, that exceptional cases tend toward return to the general rule. We have this satisfaction.

The Moravian Church, which, in the 14th century commenced as Congregational, in the 15th became Episcopal, and now numbers 16 Bishops.

The followers of Luther, under the spiritual impulses of that glorious Reformation, cast off error, and seized truth at every cost. But as the counter Reformation rolled on, and those separated congregations, without cohesion, and without mutual support of orderly government, found themselves weak, and liable to ever increasing disintegration, they have gradually drawn within the safeguards of an Episcopate. Five millions in Sweden and Norway; three millions in Denmark; eleven millions in Prussia, have resumed the form of Episcopal government. How far they have preserved Apostolic orders is not the important question at this place in our argument. [9] The point is this: that this divine law of form possesses such power, that nineteen millions of Protestant Christians, who once forsook it, have sheltered themselves again within its safeguards.

When the Church of England, in the last century, drove from its bosom those choice spirits who inspired Methodism, it thoughtlessly shut the door of its ancient polity against them, and sealed it. Is there no ingenuity of love in our own Church to fit a key to that lock, nor faith enough in our own system to break that seal? Wesleyanism strove for many years to maintain a Presbyterian organization within the Church; but there was too much of true Church life among them to permit success. That Church was forced towards Episcopacy. [10] Although they did not choose, and perhaps despaired of obtaining, that particular ordination which accords with the law, yet they affirmed the principle, and maintain it. Methodism might have flashed as a meteor and expired; but those living Christians, headed by their college of superintendents, thoroughly organized, earnestly engaged, giving every evidence of the Spirit's power, millions in number, a brilliant exception, have been guided back under the gravitating force of this principle into an orbit concentric with our own; grandly sweeping close beside it, reflecting the glory of our central Christ. Who can withhold the prayer, that the unity in Church principle already binding these nearly twenty five millions to the rest of Episcopal Protestantism, may be completed in form.

There is a rule in legal practice, that, in certain cases, usage becomes right, and lapse of time heals defect of title. There is a latent power in every life to take new forms when the old become impossible. Is there no such principle hidden within the common sense of our Church, and beneath its charities, capable of healing this immense breach in Christendom? At least may it not be permitted to suggest, that some admission of title, leading to unity in practical work, and some conferring and accepting of orders, leading to a gradual transformation in ecclesiastical status, without touching any peculiarity of discipline, might, within brief years, heal all defects, and remove all grounds of division by the natural result of intercourse. [11] It is significant, that England and Prussia now send Bishops to Jerusalem, under their joint protection, and their alternate appointment. The Church of England consecrates every such Bishop appointed by Prussia. Is there no possibility that we, a Church as free as in Apostolic days, may accept facts which time has rendered incapable of change, and restore inter-communication between all the Protestant Churches which hold the principles of Episcopacy? Shall not time and brotherly concord, a breaking down of our own tendency to separation, and a generous use of our Apostolic gift of orders -- shall they not remedy an evil, which else must become inveterate? What a gleam of light shoots across our dark horizon, as we think of the possibility! What a bulwark against Romanism, and a defence against Infidelity, would rise out of our fragments, if fifty five millions of Protestant Catholics could thus face the enemy of souls, with a united front!

Such an induction from facts in Church history, is demonstration of a law for Church organization. To recognize the law, is to recognize the necessity of obeying it. And therefore, we meet, to-day, to perpetuate an order which it demands.

Under such a law all offices in the Church are gifts of the Holy Ghost. Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, alike derive their functions from His grace; nor have their ministries any efficacy, except as He gives it. We need not prove a religious principle so obvious.

But the essential element of this principle (or both a logical and scriptural derivative,) is, that the value of ministerial acts depends upon the grace which the Holy Ghost Himself imparts by means of them. And this truth is very necessary to be observed and pondered, as a check to arrogance and self assertion, which are apt to follow the thought that the Holy Ghost has separated us to work for Him. A minister has no control over a fountain of grace, to unlock it at his will. A minister does not use ordinances and sacraments, which are themselves filled with grace, and thenceforth operate independently of their Divine Author, an opus operatum. But the minister is merely an instrument through whom the Holy Ghost, when He chooses, bestows Himself on waiting hearts; now by the word of prayer, now by the energy of exhortations, and now by right use of sacraments. The soul and the Gospel stand apart, even in the presence of a minister of Christ most Apostolically ordained: and even though his heart be fired by love, and his hands be full of sacraments administered with purest intentions. The soul and the Gospel stand apart, although in contact: like two gases that flow in and around each other, touching at a thousand points, but absolutely separate, until an electric spark leaps in among them, then instantly combine, dissolve in water, flow away in loving concord and inseparable union: so the soul and the Gospel stand apart, though touching; touching at a thousand points of need and succor, of disease and remedy, of woe and comfort, of fear and tranquillity, of guilt and pardon, of anxious longings and of peace; touching, yet apart, until the Holy Spirit flashes in a current of His grace, when instantly the two unite at every point, the soul finds just the Saviour that it needs, and the Gospel becomes a satisfactory remedy for every spiritual ill. The minister may be the medium of communication; the minister may bring a soul so near the heart of God that a spark of grace will leap across the chasm, but he cannot control that issue of spiritual life. Overseers of the flock, whether Pastors or Bishops, although placed in that solemn responsibility by the Holy Ghost Himself, bestow only the signs of blessing; never the thing signified.

Yet how glorious this privilege of being the instrument by which the Holy Ghost conveys Himself to souls; for ordinarily, He uses His word and ordinances only through the ministry of men. Humility, and fear, and faith, and holy joy, should fill the soul of every one whom the Holy Ghost hath made an overseer.

His responsibilities are defined by the office, and by the character of Him who appoints. They are all spiritual in their nature, and directed toward the guidance and edification of the Church of Christ.

I speak to-day only of those which characterize the order of Bishops. They are all included in the idea of superintendence, and are defined by the relation of an elder brother in the Lord.

The idea of superintendence, both as to doctrine and discipline, implies that a Bishop shall be "not a novice," lest he be lifted up with pride, and lest ignorance or instability should mar his counsels. With age comes maturity of wisdom; with experience, discreetness. Confidence grows under the tests to which society and years subject a man, if he bear them manfully; and the confidence which his brethren place in him is a main element of a Bishop's success. If their teaching is, under any circumstance, to pass beneath his review, he must be himself a student. If he is to drive away error and false religion from the Church, his doctrines must be sound and based on most certain warrant of Scripture. If he is to superintend their discipline, he must be self disciplined, prudent, patient, well poised, and firm. These qualities do not always come with age; but seldom without it. A Bishop, as representative of a Diocese, holds a place of peculiar influence in society. He is expected to lead, not to follow, opinion. Separated from political biases, and standing above the ordinary tumults of social life, his opinions have weight accordingly. Ability to cope with the difficulties of such a just expectation, generally follows, not the life of a recluse, but of one who has been tossed about by the activities of the age, and has struggled successfully with men and things. He should take his part in the settlement of principles which distract the thought of the times, which disturb religion, which sometimes threaten social order and the State; if not entering the arena for discussion, at least capable of calm self possession, when he sits to give advice. A Bishop should therefore be a man of culture, and of thoughts; not a narrow ecclesiastic, but a man of broader intelligence and many sided reflections.

Above all, he should be a Pastor. To give right guidance and right impulses, and to organize effectually lay work in a Diocese, he should have understood the principles that underlie it, and their application in the working of a Parish. Pastoral sympathies, pastoral instincts, pastoral affections, learned in the sweet round of pastoral experiences, these give genial weight to a Bishop's influence. And here he finds the happiest moments of his official duty. To comfort a brother who is tossed between necessity and ingratitude; to guide a brother whose way is dark, amongst the intricacies, where faithfulness and discretion, interlacing, form a hedge of thorns, and he is sure to be torn on one side or the other; to cheer and uphold in griefs, and to enter fully into the joys of every success, this is a Christ like labor, and every hour of it brings its reward.

Where learning is sufficient and character is without rebuke; where judgement is matured and confidence has been secured by a discreet and prudent walk; where pastoral experience is coupled with fraternal charity; where firmness is tempered by consideration, and justice acts with gentleness, the new duties of an Episcopate readily adjust themselves; the reins of discipline lie loosely in the hand; and harmony and peace wait on every footstep of the office, for they are synonyms of cordial acquiescence on the one side, to right and wisdom on the other.

Therefore, the whole Church hails this day with singular felicitations.

A third Diocese goes forth to-day, within this ancient State, complete in organization, powerful in numbers, blessed with opportunities, and presided over by one, who, approved by more than usual tests, has thoroughly secured the confidence of the Church.

It seems but yesterday! My recollections cluster round the first Bishop of our Church, and of his Diocese. [12] I see again that tall, venerable form, seated in the quaint Egyptian chair, in the chancel of St. Andrew's, listening, whilst a voice from the pulpit enunciates the Gospel with a distinctness of evangelical statement like St. Paul's, and with the sweetness of tone only surpassed by the blessedness of the news he brings, "Christ and Him crucified" to "save sinners." The Bishop's long, thin face, crowned by a few silver hairs, from which looked out a calm but most benevolent expression, and a certain majesty of mien, slightly bending under age, thus securing sympathy, where he might have created awe, impressed a child who had been taught to reverence authority. At that time, Bishop White presided over a Diocese which embraced the whole State, but was not as strong as either of its present parts.

Another recollection couples itself with our present revered Presiding Bishop. [13] We were walking from old St. Andrew's up to his new mission of Grace Church, on the outskirts of civilization (as it seemed to me), near Eleventh and Vine; I wondering not less at his love for boys, than at the self consecrating devotion which induced him to labor so far away. To-day the Missionary and the boy meet again, in the same city, in a spiritual relationship, and for a spiritual act, that did not enter their dreams. In the interval five Bishops have presided over this United Diocese; [14] and four have passed away. The fifth, whose presence we miss with deep regret, but whose cordial sympathy is with us, has been permitted to see such a development in the old Diocese, as to render division both politic and necessary; and has consummated, what Bishop Potter had prepared, the erection of both the new Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Central Pennsylvania. And now the Missionary returns, as Presiding Bishop over a Church that has grown, from twelve Dioceses, as he then knew it, to forty five; returns then from a Western, now a Central, Diocese, to unite with one Bishop [15] (representing many Bishops) of territories that then had not even a name, in consecrating one (who is dear to him as a son), the ninety ninth Bishop of our Church for the third Diocese of Pennsylvania.

What hath God wrought?

God bless this new Diocese with unity in truth and peace, for that is power!

God bless our brother, closing to-day a blessed labor of more than twenty five years in this one Church; bless, comfort, cheer, sustain, encourage him, as he leaves a noble for a nobler field; a happy Pastorate for a wider Pastorate; a leading of a flock, for the guiding of a Diocese. Solemn, but blessed ministry, if only there come with the gift of authority, increased experience of the in-dwelling grace of God the Holy Ghost, and increasing measures of the life inspiring energy of love to our dear Lord.

Here, then, as we approach the moment that shall add a Bishop to the long line of those who have guided this Church of God through the vicissitudes of eighteen centuries [16] -- on the stillness of our expectation, breaks again the Apostle's warning note. "Take heed, for Christ hath purchased this Church with His own blood."

That trumpet gave no uncertain sound. When the Man whom he knew to have been crucified, flashed upon his eyes, from the right hand of God, as the Divine Saviour, there entered into Paul's soul an idea, which no wrestlings of philosophy, nor any prejudice of Jewish schools, could unsettle. And that idea, salvation purchased by blood, propitiation offered by an all sufficient sacrifice, atonement finished by the Death of Christ -- that idea became the foundation thought, on which St. Paul built up into its complete proportions, the revelation of God's plan for the saving of sinners, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them that believed, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the Wisdom and Power of God. He bore, with no patience, the devices of the adversary, who under color, either of advanced or retroactive Christianity, attempted to shake implicit reliance on this truth. How would he have borne with liberal religion in this day, which treats the idea of a substitution of Christ for sinners, as an antiquated theory, and the precious truth that He suffered, the "just for the unjust," as monstrous? That doctrine of vicarious sacrifice and propitiation lies deeper down than the doctrine stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiae. It is the very corner stone, and there is no "justification by faith," unless that truth abide for faith to rest upon. Blessed be God! that Doctrine of Atonement gives character to all our formularies. We inherit it, through prayers and songs, and ordinals of worship, that date far back towards Apostolic times. Whatever else the Church has lost, in the lapses of ages, she has never lost the truth of the Atonement. Obscured, corrupted, often misunderstood, yet so was that doctrine of Christ crucified for sinners, inwrought with the whole system of Episcopacy, that by the very force of cohesion it was carried across the flood, where almost every other truth was wrecked.

That truth most precious; that truth which whosoever believeth shall be saved; that truth which is a repenting sinner's only hope, a faithful believer's fullest fountain of joy; that truth round which all others in the Christian system have their orbits, and toward which they gravitate, from which they gather impulse, and in whose glorious light they move; that truth rings on our ears to-day, from an Apostolic tongue, the guide and motive for our Episcopate of souls for Christ. How the remembrance of a Saviour's love stirs every affection, wakens emotion, deepens purpose, kindles ardor! These souls which He hath redeemed; this Church which He hath purchased, precious by every drop that sin wrung out; precious by every memory of sacrifice, he commits to us. What devotion can be too intense, as we consecrate ourselves in it, and to it, for Christ. What labor can be too unwearied, as we work with it, and by it, for Christ. We bend all our energies to develop every power of this Church, for the glory of Christ. And we guard every avenue of this Church against the approach of falsehood and of folly, because Christ hath purchased it with His most precious blood. On the glory of Christ, let us fasten an eye that is single. Let every prayer for success be suffused with desire, that Christ may be glorified. Nothing else is worth living for. That is worth dying for.


[1] "Out of 350 millions of Baptized Christians on the Earth to-day, 296 millions are Episcopalians."

Later statistical tables, brought to my notice since this sermon was delivered, give reasons for varying the above statement; but not for altering those proportions. The total population of the world is now stated at 1380 millions; of whom about 388 millions are nominal Christians, and about 332 millions are reckoned among the various Episcopal Churches. --(Almanach de Gotha, 1871, quoted by New York Observer Year Book, National Almanac and Annual Register.)

The Episcopal Churches are:

I. The Oriental Churches.

II. The Latin Churches.

III. The Anglican Churches.

IV. The Churches, of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

V. The Unitas Fratrum, or Moravians.

(I.) The principal oriental Patriarchates are those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, of all the Russias, Cyprus, Austria, Greece; 200 Bishops.

(II.) The principal Latin Patriarchates are Rome, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Belgium, in Asia 6 Patriarchs, in America 21 Archbishops, in Great Britain 5 Archbishops: 908 Bishops.

(III.) The Churches in communion called Anglican, are in England, Ireland, Scotland, United States, British America (Dominion), West Indies, in Asia 10 Bishops, in Africa 6, Oceania 13: 165 Bishops.

(IV.) The Churches, of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark: 31 Bishops.

(V.) The Unitas Fratrum: in Germany 7, Russia 1, England 3, United States 5, West Indies 1: 17 Bishops.

(Churchman's Calendar, 1861. Bishop Coxe. Churchman's Year Book, 1870. Appleton's Amer. Cyclop. Art. Moravians)


[2] ''Forty millions of Protestant Episcopalians."

The number is an approximation. The great body of Protestant Episcopalians is found in the National Churches.


[3] "Fragments * * when Coherence of Church Unity is lost."

It is amazing how intangible non-Episcopal Protestantism becomes, when separated from an establishment, or from the five great Protestant bodies. In Germany, Protestantism is powerful because it is an establishment; but in the rest of Europe, it is fragmentary. In the United States, five Protestant Churches are strong: the Baptist, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Congregationalist. Estimating the Baptists at 7 millions, Methodist Episcopalians at 6 millions, Presbyterians at 4 millions, Lutherans at 2 millions, Congregationalists at 2 millions, even if our own Protestant Episcopal Church should be estimated at 2 millions, there will remain 10 millions unaccounted for, among the Protestant population of our country, which is stated at 33 millions. 10 millions of Protestants are therefore to be found (if at all) among fragmentary bodies which have little coherence, organization or stability. The only exception to this remark is found in the small, but compact organization, the old "Reformed Dutch Church." An argument of no small weight in behalf of the Episcopal government might be framed out of this tendency of Protestantism to separate into fragments, except where it retains the form of Episcopacy in greater or less perfection.

(New York Observer Year Book, 1872. Appleton's Cyclopedia. National Almanac and Annual Register.)


[4] "The Waldenses in the 12th Century were still part of the Diocese of Turin."

In this, and in the following sentences, I have necessarily used brevity, in sketching what deserves to be expanded into history. In the 12th century, the Waldensian Church began to be known by that distinctive title, because Waldo was then driven from Lyons by persecution, and took refuge in Bohemia; and from that time his name was attached to those religionists, whose opinions he was supposed to represent. But the Waldenses date back (as I have represented) to the 9th century, when Caludius, their Archbishop, shared their protests against many errors prevalent in the Italian Church. Indeed, some of their historians claim, nor is there any good reason for refusing the claim, that their Church dates from nearly Apostolic times. Mosheim has thrown a doubt on the subject; but without sufficient cause.

Much confusion has arisen, because their specific title, Waldenses, connects them with Waldo. The people, however, are Piedmontese; and had inhabited the mountain slopes and valleys of Piedmont from the earliest ages. Their history begins to mingle with the current of that of European nations, in the 6th century: "Piedmont, named from the valleys of the Alps, a pede montum, was subject to the Lombards, from the year 568, until 774, when Charlemagne destroyed the monarchy." "In these valleys the Gospel was planted at an early period, and being a frontier of Italy, their religious government was that of the peninsula. But remote from the vortex of corruption, they tardily received innovations. They were still a constituent part of the Latin Church in the year 817, and subject to the religious government of that age, which was Episcopal." It was in this age that Claudius Clemens was made Bishop, and subsequently Archbishop, of Turin, by Lewis the Meek (815). He speedily came in contact with the peculiar, (because ancient and Apostolical), religious opinions of these Piedmontese Christians. Attempting to correct some that he deemed erroneous, as Du Pin represents, his honesty led him to advocate all of their opinions that he deemed Scriptural and true. Consequently he became actually a Protestant. "When, in 823, this excellent man was accused of innovation, because he ordered the images to be cast out of his Churches, he declared 'that he taught no new sect, but kept himself to the pure faith.' The truth was supported during his life, in Piedmont, against the corruptions of the Latin and Greek Churches. He lived and died the Archbishop of Turin, in full connection with the Catholic Church."

The quotation given above, as well as many facts and opinions which I shall add on this subject, are taken from a learned essay, by that very competent scholar, Rev. Dr. James P. Wilson, the predecessor of Rev. Dr. Barnes, in the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. He says, emphatically, "the Piedmontese Churches were Episcopal before, and during the life of, Claude."

Did they lose their Episcopal government during the persecutions which followed? "Sir Samuel Morland, who was sent by Cromwell, in 1658, to the Duke of Savoy, in order to mitigate his persecutions of this people, has observed, that Claude left the lamp of his doctrine to his disciples, and they to their successive generations, in the 9th and 10th centuries." Dr. Wilson says, "no persecutions appears to have been sustained by them, under their German Princes, until 1137." And from a study of one of their ancient documents, a confession of faith which he places not earlier than 1160, he concludes, at that date "they no doubt had still their Bishops and Priests." With sound logic he urges, "the followers of Claude must have retained Episcopal ordination." "The monk Rainerus names Belanzinanza of Verona, and John De Luggio, as eminent Bishops of the Waldenses about 1250." It is significant, that Du Pin, the Romanist historian, whilst entering minutely into the details of errors, for which the Waldenses were esteemed heretics, does not mention error of ecclesiastical organization, which would have been deemed a chief fault had it existed; and he states that when terms of reconciliation were offered to them, although they agreed to most of them, they would not relinquish their ministry. Yet, he makes no charge of irregularity against this ministry, although this was the place to have preferred such a charge, could any have been urged.

A similar conclusion has been arrived at by the industrious Marsden, in his history of Christian Churches. He says: "The Waldenses dated their origin from the age of the Apostles, asserting that they derived Episcopacy from them, in an uninterrupted succession, through the Paulicians in the East." Quoting Rainerus, he adds, "the sect of the Waldenses is older than any other. It existed, according to some, in the days of Pope Sylvester, in the 4th century, and according to others, even in the days of the Apostles."

Two facts seem to be indisputable, namely: first, that in the 9th century, these Piedmontese Christians were under the care of the Archbishop of Turin, apparently accepted as a portion of his jurisdiction, and no sign is given that they were addicted to any other than Episcopal regimen. Second, that early in the 15th century, a Bishop by the name of Stephen (through whom the Moravian Episcopacy descended) presided over that portion of the Waldenses which were found in Bohemia. This Bishop obtained the crown of martyrdom, for he was burned in Vienna in 1468.

A legitimate and logical connection of these two facts, is found in the theory already shown to be more than probable, that this Church continued to cherish Episcopal orders through the intervening centuries, and maintained this Ministry unbroken. It is unnecessary to seek for another explanation, as the excellent Bishop Edmund de Schweinitz has done. He has proved that the Episcopate among the Waldenses in Bohemia, was renewed by the generosity of the Calixtans in 1433. But if, as he thinks, "in their native valleys, the Waldenses were never an Episcopal, but always a Presbyterian Church," it will be very difficult to show a reason for the fact which he states, "that when their priests had nearly all died out, and a renewal of their Ministry was desirable," they turned, as if of course, to an Episcopal Church, in order to receive that ministry. Nor were they content to receive only a Presbyterate, but demanded an Episcopate. Two Waldenses were ordained priests in 1433 in the Slavonian Convent of Prague, by Bishop Nicholas; and in the summer following, (1434,) these two priests, at Basle, in a full convocation of Clergy, were consecrated Bishops, by Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. These are the Waldensian Bishops named Nemez and Wlach, by whom Bishop Stephen and his colleagues were subsequently consecrated.

It is probable, nay, it is certain (for no other theory will account for it), that the Waldenses sought a renewal of their Episcopacy, because they had been accustomed to this regimen from immemorial usage; and this theory is consonant with what scanty historical data we possess. We coincide with the strongly expressed opinion of Dr. Wilson, "the followers of Claude must have retained Episcopal ordination." We thus trace the Waldenses as an Episcopal Church, from the 6th to the 15th centuries.

Bishop Edmund de Schweinitz quotes several authors, who affirm the antiquity of the Episcopate of the Waldenses.

The General Synod of Zerawitz (1616): "The Waldenses affirmed that they had legitimate Bishops, and a legitimate and uninterrupted succession from the Apostles."

Adrian Wengersky: "The aforesaid Waldenses affirmed that they had lawful Bishops, and a lawful and uninterrupted succession from the Apostles."

The Roman Catholic "Encyclopaedia," one of the greatest modern works of the Romish Church (Kirchen-Lexicon Friedburg in Breisaug, 1848): "A body of the Waldenses has settled on the Moravian Austrian frontier, of whom the brethren knew that they had legitimate Bishops, descended from the Apostles in an unbroken succession."

(Wilson on Church government. A rare and curious treatise on the Primitive Government of Christian Churches, by the late Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, 1833. He occupies strong Presbyterian ground, but with candor towards Episcopacy, exhibiting great familiarity with ecclesiastical history. Marsden's History of Christian Churches and Sects. Du Pin's Eccl. Hist.)


[5] "When the Moravians desired to establish a Ministry, which could not be questioned even by their Romanist opposers, they sought orders from the Waldensian Church. Whereupon their Bishop Stephen, with his assistants, consecrated for the Moravians three Bishops, who had been sent to him for the purpose, by the Synod of Lhota."

Marsden writes concerning the Unitas Fratrum, or Moravians: "An ancient Episcopal Church, which was framed in Bohemia and Moravia, about the middle of the 14th century, and traces up its origin through the Waldenses to the time of the Apostles, without connection with the Church of Rome. The romantic history of this Church, the touching simplicity of its character, and the extraordinary zeal and wonderful success of its missions among the heathen, and, we may add, its cordial recognition in times past, by the Church of England, as a sister Church, entitle it to something more than a brief mention."

Several points, in the "brief mention" contained in our text, deserve elucidation.

The Synod of Lhota, in 1467, marks an era in the life of the Moravian Church. It was a period of bitter persecution; but also of the most earnest spiritual vigor. Having existed until this time, for perhaps nearly a century, as a society within the Churches, rather than as a distinct Church, (very much as Methodism existed primarily under the guidance of the Wesleys,) and experiencing the natural infelicities of such a position, they resolved to effect an organization. The Synod was an assembly of about seventy persons, including noblemen, scholars, poor peasants, and those who had acted as clergy. They were dwelling in forests, or under shelter of rocks, only kindling fires by night; but on this occasion they ventured into the village of Lhota, and there, in a private house, held council; whereat, surely there was present One unseen, whose influence and guidance ruled every decision by heavenly wisdom. They determined, first, that they needed more Ministers. These were chosen by lot, with prayer.

Marsden gives a deeply interesting account of this solemn proceeding. The Roman Catholic Encyclopaedia quoted by Schweinitz also states the same fact. Three Ministers having been thus chosen, the question arose, should they be ordained by Presbyters or by Bishops? Their existing ministry had received orders as Presbyters, from Calixtine Bishops. Could these ordain others? The council, if it decided the first question affirmatively, happily decided the second question in the negative. "They determined that Presbyterian ordination would have been inconsistent with Apostolic practice, as recorded in the New Testament, and with the use of the primitive Church. For many ages no Ordinances had been valid, or had been practiced, except Episcopal. They foresaw that their ministry would be discredited, unless it were placed on a footing with that of other Churches; and they highly reverenced the Episcopal office, in spite of the corruptions with which it had been associated. They resolved upon Episcopacy" (Marsden). Dr. Wilson says of the Moravians, "This excellent, evangelical and persecuted people, had more respect for sound doctrines than scrupulous correctness in the matter of Church government. Their prejudices have always been for the Episcopal government, even whilst groaning under the oppressions of Diocesan Episcopacy." Whatever were the reasons influencing their decision, that decision led them to seek an Episcopacy. The search was not without its difficulties.

How strangely the Episcopate has withheld the blessing of regular orders, at many an emergency in the history of spiritual struggles, when a judicious imparting of them would have prevented schism, and secured a blessed unity! One affectionate, fraternal, recognition by the Episcopate of England, would have spared Calvin the necessity, (as he deemed) of establishing a new order; perhaps, might have given Lutheranism, even then, an Episcopacy. Wesley would never have thought of organizing a Church in America, had the Bishops of England listened to his representations. They would not even ordain ministers for the Episcopal colonies, when he urged it (Whitehead's Life of Wesley). Coke would never have been satisfied with Presbyterial ordination, could he have had Episcopal, either from England, or afterward from our own White. Our own Church was very nearly thrown upon the necessity of seeking orders from Sweden, or from the Moravian Church. Have we yet learned wisdom from experience?

The Synod of Lhota, guided by the Comforter, found brotherhood among the Waldenses. Stephen appears as an Episcopal character among the Waldenses of Moravia, somewhat as Melchisidec appears among the uncertainties of patriarchal times: the one certain undisputed Ecclesiastic character, to whom all turn. The only account given of his succession is the brief one, recorded in the previous note. Schweinitz quotes Gindely as stating that Stephen was consecrated by a Waldensian Bishop, who had been consecrated by a Roman Catholic Prelate. Historians of all views agree, that he was Bishop of the Waldensian Church in 1467; and no one disputes his title. A large number of authorities are quoted by Schweinitz, in affirmation of this position. I shall quote again from Dr. Wilson: "Being cut off from ordination both from the Roman and Greek Churches, in 1467 the Brethren obtained Episcopal ordination for certain men chosen to be Seniors, or Superintendents, or Bishops, from Stephen, who was the last Bishop of the Austrian Waldenses (Vallenses), and was burned at Vienna, in 1468."

Marsden (and Schweinitz also) gives a charming account of the primitive reception by Stephen of these strangers from Lhota "in search of a Church." They related to him their sorrows, and described the unity of the Brethren. He welcomed them with cordial joy; and in turn "related the leading events in the Waldensian History, explained their constitution, and especially the succession of their Bishops. Assisted by another Bishop (whose name we do not find recorded) he then ordained the three Presbyters, as Bishops of the Brethren's Church. Melchior Bradacius is the only one whose name has been handed down to us. Of the other two deputies from the Synod of Lhota, one had previously exercised his ministry among the Waldenses (probably ordained by the Calixtines) and the other in the Romish Church."

Immediately on their return, with this precious gift of orders, another Synod was convened. The newly appointed Bishops, as a first act, ordained to the Presbyterate the three Brethren who had been previously chosen by lot; and, before the close of the session, advanced one of them to the Episcopate.

The subsequent history of the "Brethren's" Episcopacy, like their missionary history, is full of romantic interest, "hair-breadth 'scapes" from extinction, preservation almost by miracle. It is not to be wondered at, that, more than once, their Episcopate hung on the life of one man. But the Holy Ghost cherished, and watched over it.

Bishop Edmund de Scweinitz, of Bethlehem, Pa, has given the incedents of this history with minute and painstaking industry, and evidently after great research. It is desirable that his paper, written in 1865, should be widely known by the members of our Church.

An interesting account of this Episcopal Church is also given by Marsden, to whom I have frequently referred in this note. He enters into details, also, of transactions between the Church of the United Brethren, and the Church of England, which ought to be better known among us. They certainly have a very important bearing on the solution of that solemn question of formal union, which I have ventured to suggest in the sermon.

As the result of bitter animosities during the thirty years' war, the Moravian Church was almost destroyed. Their venerable Bishop Comenius, fled to Amsterdam, where he published a history of the Brethren's Church. It is dedicated with affectionate respect to the Church of England. He commends "our beloved mother" to the Church of England, "that you may take care of her, whatever it may please God to do, whether to restore her in her native land, or, when deceased there, receive her elsewhere." His hopes were realized in part about 70 years later, and more fully, exactly one hundred years later (1769). In the year 1715, some Polish refugees, arriving in England, petitioned for relief "for the Reformed Episcopal Churches in Bohemia." Archbishop Wake becoming interested in the appeal, entered into correspondence with their Bishop Jablousky; and, being satisfied, issued a brief, in the usual form, authorizing collections. This led to further intercourse. John and Charles Wesley, missionaries of the S.P.G., sailed to Georgia, in company with Bishop Nischman, of the Moravians, and learned to esteem very highly their piety and devotion. About the middle of January, 1737, Count Zinzendorf (the patron, and also Bishop of the Moravian Church) arrived in London, to obtain recognition for their Church, and a union with the Church of England in missionary operations, within the colony of Georgia. Charles Wesley interested himself much in the affair, and conferred with the Bishops of London and Oxford. The latter "bid me," says Charles Wesley, "assure the Count, we should acknowledge the Moravians as our brethren, and one Church with us." These conferences brought forth fruit. In 1749, a bill was introduced into Parliament, acknowledging the Unitas Fratrum as "and Ancient Protestant Episcopal Church," and giving legal sanction to their acts at home and abroad. Dr. Sherlock, Bishop of London, who at first opposed the bill, subsequently withdrew opposition. "On the third reading, the Bishop of Winchester stated, in his place in the House of Lords, that the measure had the approbation of the whole Episcopal Bench. It was passed unanimously, and received the royal assent." Under all the formalities of public recognition, the Moravian Church, therefore, stands in England as a sister Church, essentially one with the Church of England in polity, and in doctrine, which, as the bill states, "differs in no essential article of faith from the 39 Articles." It will be observed that this Act was passed before our Revolution, and, consequently our Church now shares the benefit of this legal recognition, and of fraternal communion with the Unitas Fratrum.

(The Moravian Episcopate, a valuable paper prepared by Bishop Edmund de Scweinitz, of Bethlehem, Pa., 1865. Marsden, History of Christian Churches. Wilson, on Church Government. Whitehead's Life of the Wesleys - a rare book. Bishop Coxe's Calendar, 1861.)


(6) "This was the form of Church Government under which Christ lived."

It has been said, that, "inasmuch as the Jewish system was a Theocracy, the parallelism here referred to cannot be maintained. This regimen in three orders of ministers, was appointed as the organization for the State, as well as for the Church; and the Sanhedrim, or Council of Seventy, was an essential part of the system. Therefore the parallelism fails"

If it be admitted that this regimen in three orders was divinely appointed for the Mosaical Church, as well as for the Israelitish State, my purpose will be answered; and the very moderate language of the text will be sufficiently defended.

The fact that this regimen served a double purpose, surely does not detract from its ecclesiastical value. Three orders existed in the ancient Jewish Church; and no other persons took part in it as ministers of religion except the High Priest, Priests, and Levites. This is the only point necessary to the argument. The Sanhedrim was an Ecclesiastical Council, having also, occasionally, civil jurisdiction. It cannot be considered a part of the ecclesiastical regimen, in a strict sense, unless we should affirm the same concerning our General Convention. Nor does the fact that a COuncil of Seventy, consisting of Chief Priests, Presbyters, and Scribes, was, at one era, the Legislature of the Church of Israel, disprove the the truth affirmed in the text, unless also, the fact, that in 1871 a Council composed of Bishops, Presbyters, and Laymen, was the Legislature for our Church, disproves the truth that our ecclesiastical regimen was Episcopal.

The Sanhedrim was originally a strictly Judicial Body. It took no part in ecclesiastical affairs under Moses; and certainly did not exercise ministerial functions. It disappeared under the Judges; but the three-fold Ministry survived; showing that the two are wholly separable. It reappeared after the return of the Jews from Babylon, and became part of the Theocratical polity under the Asmonean Princes. But during all that interval, the three-fold Ministry continued to be the unchanged divinely established order of the Jewish Church.

(Jahn | 244, with note by Michaelis. Smith's Dict. of the Bible, Sanhedrim. Calmet's Dict. (latest) Appleton's Cyclopaedia. All authorities agree in the above statements.)


[7] "Modern Missions were born within this Church, in the first years of the last Century."

Modern Protestant Missions were organized in the Church of England, in 1701, under the name of "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts."

The way for this organization was prepared by several attempts in various quarters, not permanently successful. 1555, the earliest attempt for a Protestant Foreign Mission, was made by Villegognon, a Knight of Malta, under the patronage of Henry II. of France; and under this unsuccessful effort, Calvin sent out 14 religious teachers to Brazil. The Dutch East India Company sent out Ministers; but as no natives could obtain employment under the Company, except those who professed to be converted, this is scarcely entitled to be considered as a Missionary effort, although 300,000 Cingalese were baptized about the close of the 17th century.

During this century (17th,) Cromwell devised a magnificent scheme of Missions - a Protestant Union, worthy of his great mind, and of that national enterprise which he so grandly represented. He intended to unite all Protestant Churches in one great Missionary Society. The whole earth was divided into four Missionary provinces, and each province was to have its representative in the College to be established for the Defence and Propagation of the Faith. This idea, perhaps too vast, bore fruit in the more moderate project in 1701.

The individual efforts of John Eliot, John Cotton, and the Mayhews, under the Puritan lead (1620), must never be forgotten when speaking of the history of Missions. Yet it remains true, that Modern Protestant Missions received their first real organization, and were successfully systematized as the S.P.G. of the Church of England, A.D.1701.


[8] "Departure from historical precedent and usage."

The Continental Churches were formed on a Presbyterian model, not willingly; although after having been thus formed, they continued willingly under that regimen, except in instances to which the text alludes.

Testimony to these facts is abundant; and cannot be too often repeated.

LUTHER, speaking concerning the authority which Bishops would have among the Reformers, if any of them should adopt reformed principles, says, "We would acknowledge them as our fathers, and willingly obey their authority, which we find supported by the Word of God."

MELANCTHON, after the adoption of Presbyterianism, says, "I would to God it lay in me to restore the government of Bishops; for I see what manner of Church we shall have, the ecclesiastical polity being dissolved." "By what right or law we may dissolve the ecclesiastical polity, if the Bishops will grant to us that which in reason they ought to grant; and if it were lawful for us to do so, yet surely it is not expedient. Luther was ever of this opinion." He says moreover, "Zwingle is not in his senses. At one stroke he would abolish all ceremonies, and he would have no Bishops."

MARTIN BUCER says, "by the perpetual observation of all Churches, even from the Apostles' times, we see that it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that among presbyters there should be one who should have the charge of divers Churches, and the whole Ministry be committed to him; and by reason of that charge he was above the rest; and therefore the name of Bishop was attributed peculiarly to those chief rulers."

CALVIN. Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, who favored Calvin's theological views, records, that, in looking over some papers left by his predecessor, Archbishop Parker, he found that Calvin, and others of the Protestant Churches of Germany and elsewhere, would have had Episcopacy if permitted. And he asserts, that in Edward VI. reign, Calvin wrote a letter to the English reformers on this subject, which was intercepted by Gardiner and Bonner (Popish), who returned him such a reply, writing as if in the name of the Reformers, as effectually prevented his repeating the suggestion. (Chapman's sermons, p.104. Boston, 1844.)

Calvin, even when defending the new system that he had adopted, was true to the "historical precedent." He does not deny a historical "succession," even where he writes, "nothing can be more frivolous than to place the succession in the persons, to the neglect of the doctrine." And in arguing against Romanists, employing for his purpose the fact of the existence of the Greek Church, he asserts that among them there "has never been any interruption of the succession of Bishops."

He holds (of course) the Presbyterian theory, namely: that Bishops and Presbyters are the same order. "In calling those who presided over Churches, Bishops, Elders, and Pastors, without any distinction, I have followed the usage of Scripture. For, to all who discharge the Ministry of the Word, it gives the title of Bishops." But when he is speaking as a historian, he says, "To guard against dissensions, the general consequence of equality, the presbyters in each city chose one of their own number, whom they distinguished by the title of Bishop. The Bishop, however, was not so superior to the rest in honor and dignity, as to have any dominion over his colleagues, but the functions performed by a Consul in the Senate, such as *** to preside over the rest, in the exercise of advice, admonition, and exhortation, to regulate all the proceedings by his authority, and to carry into execution whatever had been decreed by the general voice - such were the functions exercised by the Bishop in the Assembly of Presbyters." A very fair description of a Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church.

In the same passage he guards against the idea of "Divine right," quoting Jerome - "let the Bishops know their superiority to the Presbyters is more from custom than from the appointment of the Lord." But he proceeds in his defence of the "historical precedent," to show "the antiquity of this institution," by quoting from the same author (Jerome) "at Alexandria, even from Mark the Evangelist to Heraclos and Dionysius, the Presbyters always chose one of their body to preside over them, whom they called Bishop." Then, in summing up, Calvin adds, "every assembly as I have stated, for the sole purpose of preserving order and peace, was under the direction of one Bishop, who, while while he had the precedence of all others in dignity, was himself subject to the assembly of brethren."

It might be deemed important to prove that Bishops were ordained by Presbyters, if indeed they were of the same order. But Calvin, true to "historical precedent," after declaring that the ancient elections were held "by the Clergy, and submitted to the Magistrates, or Senate, not by the populace," "for the uncertain vulgar are divided by contrary inclinations," proceeds, "there is a decree of the COuncil of Nice that the Metropolitans should meet with all the Bishops of the province, to ordain him who shall have been selected: but if any be prevented by necessary cause, at least three should meet, and those who are absent should testify their consent by letters." (The rule in the Protestant Episcopal Church.) Quoting Cyprian, he adds, "for the due performance of ordinations, all the Bishops of the same province meet with the people over whom a Bishop is to be ordained." Calvin proceeds, "it was deemed sufficient if they assembled after the election was made, and upon due examination consecrated the person who had been chosen. This was the universal practice, without any exception."

We consider this testimony, of so competent a historian, to be of great value. Calvin here affirms, that, however the election of a Bishop may have been effected, or declared, his consecration never took place except by Bishops, in contradistinction to Presbyters. And he states this still more explicitly at the close of the following passage, in which he is proving that Consecration was by imposition of hands. "I read of no other ceremony practices, except that in the public assembly the Bishops had some dress to distinguish them from the rest of the Presbyters. Presbyters and Deacons also were ordained solely by the imposition of hands. But every Bishop ordained his own Presbyters, in conjunction with the assembly of the other Presbyters of his Diocese. Now, though they all united in the same act, yet, because the Bishop took the lead, and the ceremony was performed under his direction, therefore it was called his ordination. Wherefore it is often remarked by the ancient writers, that a Presbyter differs from a Bishop in no other respect, than that he does not possess the power of ordination."

The two statements now exhibited by this renowned divine, do not appear reconcilable, namely: 1st, that Bishops and Presbyters are the same order; and 2nd, that, every assembly was presided over by one Bishop who had precedence in dignity, and who exercised overseership of the Presbyters, and who was never ordained by them, but always by other Bishops; and that Presbyters differed from Bishops, in that they did not possess the power of ordination.

The historical facts stated by Calvin are undoubted: his opinions, which thus appear to be not easily reconciled, may be questioned.

(Calvin's Institutes, London, 1844; Book iv., chaps.1-4.)


[9.] "How far they have preserved Apostolic Orders, is not the important question at this place in our argument."

The text does not intend to cast the least doubt on the regularity of the Orders of these Churches. The COuncil of Nice directed, and other Councils assented, that, as a rule, three Bishops should be present at every consecration; and the almost universal acceptance of this rule has tended greatly to preserve the Apostolic succession, and has made it possible to verify almost every link in the chain, by historical or documentary evidence. But we are not aware of any Scriptural law, or of any law adopted by our Church which renders the act of consecration by one Bishop so irregular, as to invalidate the ministry derived therefrom, or even to prevent our full communion with it. It is known that, several times, in the eventful history of the Moravian Church, it Episcopacy was preserved, only through consecration by one Bishop. Yet the Parliament of Great Britain, induced by the unanimous consent of the Bench of Bishops, acknowledged a unity of the "United Church of England and Ireland" with the Moravian Church, notwithstanding this deficiency; and our Church, having been then a part of the "United Church of England and Ireland," inherits this acknowledgment of fraternal unity (vide note 5). It is also well known that the Episcopate of Sweden is derived from one Bishop, "Petrus Magni (Pater Manson), who received Episcopal orders in Rome (circa 1524), and who, on the 5th of January, 1528, and September 22d, 1528, consecrated four others, from whom the present Bishops of Sweden and Norway descend" (Churchman's Calendar, 1861, A.C.Coxe). The Church in Denmark, it is presumed, received its Episcopacy from the same hands.

The fact that such a question has arisen, and the ease with which such questions are brought to a historical test (as witness frequent passages in the history of Unitas Fratrum, vide note 5), is an item in the strong argument by which the certainty of a tactual succession of the Episcopacy is established.


[10.] "Wesleyanism strove for many years to maintain a Presbyterian organization within the Church, but was forced towards Episcopacy."

The history of the progress of Wesley's views on the subject of Church organization, and the history of the rise of Methodist Episcopacy, are instructive. The mother of the Wesleys was an Episcopalian by habit, study, and conscientious conviction; and she arrived at her conclusion on the subject, by steps taken in the order named. She was educated as a member of the Church of England. As may well be supposed, from the character of her children (Samuel, Charles and John), she exhibited remarkable strength of mind, at an early age. She was fond of study. She examined every topic that interested her, for herself. Her convictions were very decided, and she maintained them without wavering. Before she was thirteen years old she examined the questions involved in the discussions of the day, between Dissenters, as they were called, and the Established Church; and from that time she became a familiar member of the Church of England, no longer from education and habit, but from conviction. Her biographer rightly says, "such an effort at her age was singularly great, and showed uncommon resolution and strength of mind." From this conclusion, then reached, she never wavered, although tempted in a manner which must have been the severest of trials to a woman of her spirit. Her husband was a clergyman of the Church of England, of deep piety and devotion; and yet he objected to "woman's work," when Mrs. Wesley, under manifest leadings of God's providence, had given herself to it. Whilst thus engaged, she neglected no duty to her family or house. Her argument addressed to her husband in defence of the rightfulness of "Woman's Work," and her appeal for the privilege, are weighty and earnest. Still such were the prejudices of the Church, that he insisted in his prohibition and she could not continue her blessed labors. Nevertheless she continued steadfastly in her fellowship in the Church of England.

Her children were all educated in the principles of the Church of England. Charles Wesley maintained them consistently to the end. John Wesley, while maintaining them theoretically to his death, and never relaxing them, so far as Methodism was related to the Church of England as a national establishment, did yield to circumstances, and relaxed his principles, so far as related to the establishment of Methodism in the United States.

It is easy enough to show how strong were the convictions of both these noble brothers concerning Episcopacy.

In 1758, Charles Wesley expresses the sentiments of both as follows: "I think myself bound to add my testimony to my brother's (John). His twelve reasons against our ever separating from the Church of England, are mine also. I subscribe to them with all my heart. Only with regard to the first, I am quite clear, that it is neither expedient nor LAWFUL, (the underscoring is his own) for us to separate. My affection for the Church is as strong as ever; and I see clearly my calling, which is to live and die in her communion. This, therefore, I am determined to do, the Lord being my helper." Both of them did live and die in that communion. Questions of principle were brought to an issue at an early day in the life of Wesleyanism.

"A Mr. Shaw began to give disturbance, by insisting that there is no priesthood: that is, there is no order of men in the Christian Ministry, who, properly speaking, exercise the functions of a priest; that he himself (a layman) had as good right to baptize and administer the sacrament as any other man." Wesley did not object to Mr. Shaw's view, that "the Christian Ministry is not properly a priesthood;" but he says: "I tried in vain to check his rambling talk. I warned the society against schism; into which Mr. Shaw's notions must inevitably lead." "Two or three embraced these notions, and declared themselves no longer members of the Church of England. 'Now,' says Wesley, 'am I clear of them: by renouncing the Church they have discharged me.' "

Perhaps, the strongest testimony to the point is given by the result of a "Conference" in 1755. Says Wesley (John), "The point on which we desired all the preachers to speak their minds at large was, whether we should separate from the Church? What was advanced was seriously and calmly considered; and on the third day we were all firmly agreed, that, whether it was lawful or not, it was no ways expedient."

In 1784 (vide Marsden), the Conference was legalized; but among its first acts was a restriction on the appointment of Ministers to the chapels, "none except ordained Ministers of the Church of England."

In 1781 (vid. Moore's Life II.,282), John Wesley, writing to Sir Henry Trelawny, says, "you have need to be thankful * * that your prejudices against the Church of England are removing. Having had the opportunity of seeing several of the Churches abroad, and having deeply considered several sorts of dissenters at home, I am fully convinced that our own Church (the Church of England) with all her blemishes, is nearer the Scriptural plan than any in Europe."

Having these strong convictions, the Wesleys never intended to establish a new Church in England, but only a society within the Church, which should nourish and quicken the piety of its members; possibly hoping also that their own awakened zeal might react, happily, on other members of their Church.

The testimony to this point is abundant.

In 1744, John Wesley addressed a memorial to the King, assuring him of the loyalty of the Methodists. Charles Wesley objected, that it would seem to allow "that we are a body distinct from the National Church, whereas, we are only a sound part of that Church." The address was not presented.

On another occasion he writes, "ought any new preacher to be received before we know that he is grounded, not only in the doctrines we teach, but in the discipline also, and particularly in the communion of the Church of England? If we do not insist on that storge (natural affection) for our desolate mother, as a prerequisite, yet should we not be well assured that the candidate is no enemy to the Church?"

After officiating in the Church, on one occasion he uses these strong words which show his attachment to it. "I tasted the good word, while reading it. Indeed, the Scripture comes with double weight to me in the Church. If any pity me for my bigotry, I pity them for their blind prejudice, which robs them of so many blessings."

He writes to the brethren at Leeds, "Jesus hath a favor for our Church, and is wonderfully visiting and reviving his work in her. It shall be shortly said, 'Rejoice ye with Jerusalem and be glad with her, all ye that love her.' Blessed be God, you see your calling. Let nothing hinder you from going constantly to Church and Sacrament."

John Wesley urges the same, even towards the close of his Ministry. "If the people put ours in the room of the Church service, we hurt them that stay with us and ruin them that leave us. For then they will go nowhere, but lounge the Sabbath away, without any public worship." "Are we not unawares, by little and little, sliding into a separation from the Church? O, use every means to prevent this! (1) Exhort all our people to keep close to the Church and Sacrament. (3) Warn them against despising the prayers of the Church. (4) Against calling our Society the Church."

Again, "We are not Dissenters. We do not, we dare not separate from the Church. We are not Seceders; nor do we bear any resemblance to them. We set out on quite opposite principles, and we will keep in the good old way."

Notwithstanding the expression of such opinions, the Rev. John Wesley, in his later years, ordained Ministers, and set apart the Rev. Dr. Coke, by laying on of hands and prayer, as a Superintendent of the new Methodist Church in America. The inference must be, either, that he was inconsistent with himself, or that his views were misunderstood, or that his intention, in this last act, was very far short of the idea of conveying Episcopal authority.

A careful study of his biography has convinced me that both of the last two of these inferences are justifiable; but that the first is quite doubtful. I allude to the facts, the rather, because they illustrate the opinion expressed in the text, on which this note is based, namely, that "Methodism was forced towards Episcopacy."

The ecclesiastical opinions of Samuel and Charles Wesley were unquestionably formed on the idea of the divine organization of the Church as Episcopal; and the unlawfulness of any departure from its fellowship or order. But John Wesley (1784, letter to Dr. Coke) states expressly, "that for many years he had been of the opinion, that Presbyters and Bishops were of the same order, and had the same right to ordain." There is much evidence, that the exigencies of his peculiar work had led to a very considerable relaxation of the ecclesiastical principles held in his opening ministry. We explain his strong expressions concerning the Church of England, uttered even to his day of death, by his persuasion of the respect due to it as a National Church. Being the Church of the realm, he would allow no interference with its prerogatives. But John Wesley felt himself to be an instrument of Providence. He followed where he thought the Holy Spirit was leading him. We are not his judges, nor competent to measure the actions of a Minister in his position. Thrust on from step to step, sometimes unwillingly, often unintentionally, he yielded previous opinions; perhaps, yielded sometimes, his convictions to a present apparent necessity. It was thus in reference to his allowance of Lay preachers; thus in respect to his permission for Ministers not of the Church of England to administer Baptism or the Lord's Supper; thus in respect to forming an organization which bore a semblance to the form of a Church; and it was, especially under this sense of force - of Providential impulse - that he commissioned Coke to the American Superintendency.

There cannot be a moment's question that John Wesley intended this act to be only a solemn commission to a venerable coadjutor, authorizing him to become Supervisor of the new Churches in America. The idea of creating a Bishopric, was foreign to the traditions of his whole life. It is hardly necessary to quote his strong language, when he found that the new Superintendents called themselves Bishops; yet it will clearly exhibit his intention. "How can you suffer yourself to be called Bishop? I shudder at the very thought. Men may call me a knave or a fool and I am content; but they shall never by my consent call me Bishop. For my sake, for God's sake, put an end to this. Let the Presbyterians do what they please: but let the Methodists know their calling better." (Marsden)

Confirmation of these views concerning Wesley's intention when he commissioned Coke, is found in the fact, that the English Bishops did not call him (Wesley,) to account for it. Had they supposed that he intended to ordain a Bishop, they would hardly have allowed him to maintain, to the end, his position as a Presbyter of the Church of England. Nor did he allow any Ministers ordained by these Superintendents to officiate in England.

This much is stated in justice to one of the most wonderful instruments among Ministers, whom the Holy Ghost has employed in these latter days. Considering the circumstances of the times and of the Church, his own education and peculiar constitution, and the results reactive upon his own Church, and progressive for the new world opening beyond the Atlantic, there are only one or two names in the ecclesiastical history of revolutions, which are to be pronounced before that of John Wesley.

But in spite of his teachings, and against his protests, the independent Methodist Church in the United States was "forced towards Episcopacy." That which was intended as Superintendency, by the necessity of the case, became Episcopacy in all its functions.

The question intended to be suggested by the text, is, why should such an anomaly continue to exist in such a Church of Christ - the reality of the functions of office, without the possession of the order to which it belongs? If the anomaly were produced by necessity, is it continued from choice? Consecration might have been had even in Wesley's time, from the Moravians. Count Zinzendorf conferred through him with the Church of England, as to a union between those two Churches. There could have been no difficulty in procuring independent orders for the new Church, if the time had come. And now that the time is ripe, may not this great Methodist Episcopal Church, abandoning no reality of privilege, but adopting a great historical reality of form, in which there is power, and life, and unity - may it not perfect a union with the Moravians, by receiving their venerable orders, (as Bishop Coxe has proposed,) or confer with the Church of England, or our own, as to a similar union? Should it be accomplished in either manner, that Great Church, without abandoning any organic peculiarity, will re-enter the Body whose bond of unity is, an unbroken historic Episcopate.

(Whitehead's Life of Wesley. Marsden's History of Churches. Coxe's Churchman's Calendar, 1861. Moravians - Appleton.)


[11.] "Might within brief years heal all defects, and remove all grounds of division, by the natural results of intercourse."

"Questio vexata." It is a perplexing subject. However much we might desire a union with other Protestant Churches, and especially with those who maintain the principle of supervision (Episcopacy), there are, unquestionably, great practical difficulties in the way. I am not so presumptuous as to suppose that these can be easily removed. But, on such subjects, a comparison of opinions evolves the truth. Collision of thoughts may strike a spark, that shall kindle a flame, combining both of the elements, verity and charity. My thought, therefore, (for I have a distinct and clear one), is thrown out, prayerfully and hopefully. It will carry weight in proportion to the truth that is in it.

There are difficulties in the way.

(1) We have no right to suppose that any of the Churches referred to desire any closer union with us. They have not indicated such a desire. Would to God they did feel it, as much as some of us do, that thus the breach in Protestant Christendom might be healed! But some individuals in those Churches cherish the desire; as some in ours reciprocate it.

(2) Our Constitution, Canons, and Ordinal stand in the way of a conferring of orders, except under restrictions which could not be met by other Churches. But such restrictions are within the power of legislation; and legislation is possible, if public sentiment shall demand it. Further; there is an inherent power in the Episcopacy to extend itself, within the range of those Scriptural principles, by which it is bound in the act of Consecration. Certain laws govern it, in respect to the particular Church. Certain other laws govern it, in respect to the universal Church. There ought to be no conflict between them. One of the latter laws seems to affirm, that it is a duty, divinely imposed, to convey the right of ordaining, to fit persons wherever and whenever necessity shall demand. That term, "WHEREVER and whenever," is certainly not limited by the formularies of a particular or national Church. Shall we repeat in other cases the history of our own struggle to obtain an autonomy? Shall we deliver ourselves to a bondage of restriction similar to that which nearly cost us our existence? The Bishops of England found that the State had taken away their liberty to consecrate Bishops for our particular Church? But the Bishops of Scotland experienced no insurmountable difficulty in consecrating Bishop Seabury. Bishop Stephen of the Bohemian Waldensian Church experienced no difficulty in relieving the necessities of the new Church of the United Brethren, which appealed to him from Lhota. If there is any insurmountable obstacle in our way, on account of our peculiar organization, then has Episcopacy suffered loss of independence in our hands, and the General COnvention has substituted a Presbytery and Congregationalism for our original divine regimen.

(3) Churches so conforming to Episcopacy would lose their peculiarity of discipline.

Such an idea does not enter into this suggestion, except so far as an Episcopacy certainly involves a Superintendency. In a Church governed as the Methodist Episcopal Church is, nothing would be changed by the fact that the bishops had accepted our orders. Such a union does not imply an acceptance of a liturgical worship, an abandonment of itineracy, nor of Ruling Eldership, nor of the use of lay preachers, class meeting, nor Conferences. No change would be made, except that their Superintendents would become Bishops in the estimation of the Church universal; and would convey orders, that would be regarded as regular, by fort millions of their Protestant brethren.


Having thus stated frankly the difficulties, ad endeavored at least to alleviate them, the obvious suggestion follows, namely: That Churches who desire it, be urged to apply for the consecration of suitable persons as Bishops. That it shall be understood among us, that the Moravian Church, the Church of Sweden, our own Church, or the Churches of England, Ireland, Scotland or Canada, do stand ready to confer Episcopal orders on proper application. That hose persons shall be deemed suitable, who are deemed suitable by such Churches as apply. That no subscription shall be required of such candidates except as to submission to Holy Scripture, and to the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, and the fundamental doctrines of Christ's religion, which are universally held to be defined by these creeds. If any one should desire to add the authority of four general councils, for definition of error, he may at least quote the opinion of Calvin: "those ancient councils, Nice, Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, and that of Chalcedon, and others like them, which were held for the condemnation of errors, we cheerfully receive and reverence as sacred, as far as respects the articles of faith which they have defended; for they contain nothing but the pure and natural interpretation of the Scriptures."

If the "suggestion" were followed, there would result, in all such Churches, a "gradual transformation in ecclesiastical status, without trenching on any peculiarity of discipline," except those relating to Orders.

[12] "The first Bishop of our Church and of this Diocese."

Strictly speaking, Bishop Seabury was the first Bishop in our Church. Technically, however, Bishop White was the first Bishop of our Church. For this Church was not actually organized, until the three, Bishop White, Bishop Provost and Bishop Madison, had received ordination at Lambeth. The singular scruples of the Church of England, of that day, prevented that recognition of precedence, which in our view of the case, rightfully belonged to Bishop Seabury of Connecticut.

[13] "The present Presiding Bishop."

The Rt. Rev. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, D.D., was consecrated in St. Paul's Church, New York, on Oct. 31st, 1832, as Bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky, - Consecrators, Bishop White, presiding, Bishops Brownell and O.U.Onderdonk. He was elected to the Episcopate, whilst being a missionary in Philadelphia, engaged in organizing Grace Church.


[16] "Through the vicissitudes of eighteen centuries."

The mode of perpetuation sanctioned by the Holy Ghost has been tactual succession. Bishops have always been ordained by those who had received a laying on of hands for the purpose of conferring this office, in a continuous line from the Apostles. It is the fashion to deny the possibility of such a succession, and of verifying it.

It is at least a curious and interesting investigation. Considering what has been both the law and the custom of the Church, in all Christian ages, it will not be venturesome to affirm, that it is impossible that this tactual succession should have been broken. In order to prevent error on this particular point (vide Calvin's Institutes, Bk. iv., chap.iv. | xiv.) Calvin notes that "there is a decree of the Council of Nice, that the Metropolitan should meet with the Bishops of the Province, to ordain him, who shall have been elected; but that at least three should meet, and those who are absent should testify their consent by letters." "And when this Canon, from disuse, had grown obsolete, it was renewed in various Councils." The learned Genevan is sufficient authority on such a point; we need not quote another. (vide note 8.)

Calvin further affirms, as to ordination by laying on of hands (which is part of the statement we are illustrating - tactual succession), "It appears that when the apostles introduced any one into the ministry, they used no other ceremony than the imposition of hands." "Now, though there is no express precept for the imposition of hands, yet since we find it to have been constantly used by the Apostles, such a punctual observance of it by them ought to have the force of a precept with us." No other proof is needed, although abundant proof is at hand, on these two points, namely, that ordination to the Episcopacy, as to other offices, was always by laying on of hands, that is to say, tactual: and that the ancient law, at least as old as the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, required the presence of three Bishops at every ordination to the Episcopate; which law was generally observed.

The Consecration of every Bishop has been an act of public concern. Hundreds of Presbyters, and thousands of Christ's people, were interested in each such event. It has always been a matter of public record, and generally of historical comment. So clear is the law, and so uninterrupted the practice, that a recognition of the orders of the Swedish Church turns upon this question of fact. So solicitous has the Church been, that even in the troublous times of our English Reformation, and in the very crisis of the transition, every form was observed, and every document preserved, which authenticates the Consecration of Archbishop Parker. A photographic copy of these was published last year. (Cf. copy in Library of Bexley Hall, Gambier, Ohio.) So cognizant of the law were the Moravians, that they sent three Presbyters to the Waldensian Church to be Consecrated, in order that their succession might be canonical, and undisputed. And our own Church waited for more than three years, after the Consecration of two Bishops at Lambeth; not considering her organization completed, until a third was consecrated by the same English succession.

No historical record of a succession of civil governments is so perfect, as is the proof of the perpetuation of the Episcopate in Christ's Church by a succession of Consecrators, dating back to the Apostles' days. The consecration of Bishop Howe was a weaving by loving hands of another golden link in that bright chain, the first link of which bound Polycarp to St. John, when that Apostle's hands were laid upon this future martyr's head. Not in vain were the voyages of our own venerated White; for to this city and this Diocese, illustrated by his virtues and his wisdom, he returned, bearing that right of Consecration, which has admitted our Church into the fellowship of Churches of Christ, organized under His Law.

Several writers have exercised their industry in completing the chain of evidence concerning "tactual succession."

St. John ordained Polycarp of Smyrna, who ordained Pothinus, and Irenaeus, for Lyons. After them, the 32d Bishop of Lyons was Aetherius, and the 24th Bishop of Arles was Virgilius.

Both of them united in ordaining Augustine, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury. The 66th in the line, after him, was one of the Consecrators of Archbishop Cranmer, who was the 99th in order from St. John. John Moore, 19th after Cranmer, Consecrated William White, who was 119th in order from St. John. In every case, since Augustine, the record of the names of the three Consecrators is preserved. Bishop Smith is the connecting link between our first presiding Bishop and the new Bishop of Central Pennsylvania; who may, therefore, trace his line of Episcopal succession, without a missing link, to the Apostle John. Bishop Howe is 121st in the line.

(Calvin's Institutes, London, 1844. Chapin's Prim. Ch.)