Изображения страниц

ecclesiastical shadow of the older body, and holds an idea until it is strangled; and in this in respect of theology has been charac- other days this religious body has been so teristic of the Episcopal Church. It has conservative that it has done comparatively heretofore been more Anglican than Amer- little to shape the nation's conscious life. ican. It has reflected rather than originated It may seem like plain speaking to say movements. When England was under the thus much, but who can say that it is not spiritual direction of Simeon and Romaine, substantially true? What has the Episcopal America was everywhere devoutly evangelic Church done for three-quarters of a century cal. When the great church revival known but disappoint the anticipations of its best as Tractarianism began with the publication men and forge new fetters for the more of Keble's “ Christian Year," in 1827, and secure environment and repression of its the study of the early fathers was revived growing energies ? But there comes at by his notable sermon on Tradition, in 1833, length a time when if men do not speak this country was also flooded with the cele- with a living voice, the very stones cry out brated “ Tracts for the Times,” and converts and condemn them; when Samson breaks to Rome were only less numerous and dis- his bonds and goes forth in his might. tinguished here than in England. That Such a time came to the Episcopal Church revival has been transmitted in the ritualis- twenty-five years ago. tic movement which, if something artificial In 1853 the venerable Dr. Muhlenberg, and foreign here, is thoroughly congenial to then a mature man of fifty years, saw with great numbers in England, and the natural prophetic eye and felt in his prophetic soul outgrowth of religious convictions. It has that his Communion was not dealing been the fortune of the Church of England with the great moral and social necesww pass through a series of unusual contro sities of the day as it ought. “He became versies touching the deepest mysteries of more and more painfully impressed with the religion during the last fifty years. It has isolation of the Protestant Episcopal Church, reconquered the lost ground of the last cen- and he thought that some effort should be tury, but every debate, every issue, has had made to bring the Christians of this land into its restatement on this side of the Atlantic, something like fellowship, on the basis of a and the Episcopal Church has been pro- common historic faith; and while he was foundly affected by it. Schools of thought, devoting much thought and time to the subwhich are a natural outgrowth of personal ject, he suddenly, with that impulsive energy conviction, have crystallized into ecclesiasti- which comes like an inspiration to a man of cal parties, and these parties have often genius, said to a friend : •Let us prepare attempted to run what was meant for a a memorial upon this subject to the House Catholic Church purely in the line of secta- of Bishops, and if we can get no one to sign rian interests. All the isms of theology it, we will sign it ourselves and send it in.'"* have had their chance, and the Church, This was the origin of the celebrated Memowhich is infinitely larger and better than rial movement of 1856, and since it has had any of them, has been frequently narrowed a profound influence in shaping the ecclesidown to their petty issues. This accounts astical future of this Church and in enabling for what people feel to be set, formal, stiff, leading men to bring its vital principles into unyielding in the Episcopal Church. It ex- contact with the throbbing life of our own plains why there is so much narrowness of time, it deserves special attention at our action in regard to public matters; why hands. It was a wholesome and ardent there has been in other days so little adapta- protest against the cast-iron policy which tion of religion to society. It shows why, had prevailed for three-quarters of a century, when the old twins of hatred and prejudice The Memorial boldly made the inquiry, have been broken down, the really impor- whether “ the Protestant Episcopal Church, tant things which the Church is able to do with only her present canonical means and for American Christianity, have not been

In Memoriam-William A. Muhlenburg, D. D. appreciated. There is a conservatism which By Edwin Harwood, D. D.



appliances, her fixed and invariable modes Church to a consciousness of mission. The of public worship, and her traditional cus- - Diocesan Convention of Rhode Island (1856) toms and usages, is competent to the work happily stated this in a resolution which of preaching and dispensing the Gospel to declared that “we earnestly sympathize with all sorts and conditions of men, and so the wish of the Memorialists that the great adequate to do the work of the Lord in this Catholic idea of the Church of Christ may land and in this age.” It believed that the be more fully developed by more thoroughly church confined to the exercise of its pres- adapting it to all the wants of the country ent system was not sufficient to these pur- and the times." poses, that a wider door ought to be opened The Episcopal commission met six times for admission to the ministry, and that during the recess of the convention. In men in other bodies of Christians who de- their report to the Convention of 1856, they sired the Episcopal ministry should not be expressed the unanimous conviction that obliged in receiving it to renounce all the some of the most material of the improveliberty in public worship to which they had ments which are loudly called for and which been accustomed, or to have their previous commend themselves to our own judgment attainments as religious teachers count for might be attained without legislation." nothing. It looked toward a basis of unity They begged their own brethren, while all for our divided and distracted American these questions were pending, to do what Christianity. It aimed at a broader and they could personally to keep the unity of more comprehensive ecclesiastical system the Spirit in the bond of peace: than the one then administered, which should “1. By doing justice to the merits of be identical with the Episcopal Church in other systems as readily as they expose all its great principles, and yet provide for as their demerits. much freedom in opinion, discipline and 2. By repressing a spirit of self-comworship as was compatible with the essen- placency and self-laudation. tial faith and order of the Gospel.

"3. By infusing into our worship, preachdefine and act upon such a system,” it was ing and general policy, more of the ancient believed, “must sooner or later be the work and historical element on the one side, and of an American Catholic Episcopate.” The of the popular and practical on the other. Memorial expressed a widely prevalent feel- “4. By a more cordial manner towards ing and was referred in the General Con- ministers of other religious bodies who are vention of 1853 by an unusually large inquiring into the claims of our Commumajority of bishops (20 to 4) to a committee nion. of their own order, consisting of Bishops “5. By considering whether we cannot Wainwright, Otey, Doane, Alonzo Potter, safely lessen canonical impediments in the. Burgess, and Williams, with instructions to way of ministers, licentiates and others detake the subject into consideration, invite sirous of our orders, with sufficient guaranfurther communications upon it and report tees for soundness in doctrine, discipline to the convention of 1856. Bishop Potter and worship. was chiefly instrumental in gathering the “6. By fruitfulness in all good works. opinions of representative men, both within If our ministers were more fervid, self-denyand without his Church, on the subject, and ing and laborious; our people more charitathe volume entitled “The Memorial Papers," ble, exemplary and devout; if, in a word, giving the communications received, the re- we were all that we ought to be and might port of the commission of bishops, and his be from the alleged superiority of our gifts own estimate of the movement, and pub- and privileges, the attraction to the church lished by him in 1857, is one of the most would be universal and irresistible.” important, suggestive, and significant works The bishops quite unanimously accepted ever issued by the Episcopal Church in this the sentiments of this report, and adopted country. It is the distinct landmark of a resolutions to divide the three-fold morning new era. It marked the arrival of this service, to allow discretionary services for extraordinary occasions, and to provide power of inertia in the body, strangled a special agencies to meet the spiritual neces- plan as wise as it was generous. We have sities of unchurched people. They also learned the worth of our conservatism since. made provision for the appointment of a I dare hazard the judgment that had the permanent Commission on Christian Unity, Memorial prevailed, we should have been to consist of five bishops and to be renewed spared the two worst misfortunes since at each convention by ballot in both houses. befallen us.” Dr. Muhlenberg himself at

6 To

The Commission on Christian Unity was first felt keenly the outward defeat of what the only direct legislative action which re- he had most at heart, but he was permitted sulted from the Memorial. In the House to live almost to the time when it might be of Deputies, High Church, represented by said that the Memorial had inspired the the late Dr. Francis L. Hawks, was pitted whole Church with its spirit. The Convenagainst Dr. Alexander H. Vinton as the tion of 1877 was most clearly marked by the representative of the Low Church party, consciousness of Catholic mission which and it was not possible to obtain the calm twenty-five years ago thrilled Dr. Muhlendiscussion which is necessary for arranging berg's soul. He became, for his personal the preliminaries of a great movement. But qualities not less than for the inspiration of the deliberate judgment of the bishops was heart in which he was unrivaled, the beloved in favor of the Memorial. It was Bishop and untitled patriarch of his Communion. Alonzo Potter's opinion that the action of It was my privilege once to witness the volthe House of Bishops would bear its fruit untary homage to him as such. In the Congradually. He looked upon “Christianity vention of 1874 in New York, the debate as a life, not as a mere collection of doymas," was in its full tide in the lower House when and was known as one of the earliest, most a venerable man slowly crossed the vestiefficient, and most liberal friends of the bule of the church. Instantly that he enmovement. In fact he was the statesman tered the auditorium, young men and old among his brother bishops, and no man in began to gather around him, some to be inthe American Episcopate, not excepting troduced, some to greet the apostolic father Bishop Hobart, or Bishop De Lancey, or once more; and as he moved by degrees (as Bishop Burgess, has shown a more intelli- fast as the throng of friends would permit) gent sense of the Church's position, or a to the chancel end of the church, up the side larger grasp of all the questions which the aisle, the debate lost its interest, and the Memorial involved.

man who twenty years before had in vain Dr. Muhlenberg to the outward eye failed tried to lead his Church to the larger victo carry his points. But the movement tories of Christian comprehensiveness, bewhich he initiated with such a consciousness came when he approached the open space of Catholic mission was one which is best before the chancel, the center of an ovation advanced, not by resolutions and canons, so spontaneous and hearty and general that but by active discussions, by arousing the the Convention unconsciously resolved itself convictions of the clergy and the people. into a committee of the whole to pay Dr. Dr. E. A. Washburn recently said, in a Muhlenberg their voluntary respect and revbeautiful tribute to his beloved master, Dr. erence as to “an apostle by the will of Muhlenberg, that “the Memorial move- God.” ment, whatever its seeming failure, has left As to the fruits which the Memorial has its indelible mark on our history. • gradually brought forth, it may be truly said It was his [Dr. Muhlenberg's] conviction that they were more largely developed in the that our Church needed to act with all its diocese of Pennsylvania than elsewhere, but capabilities in the vast growing field of mis- most of the enlarged parochial activities sions and of ministries for all conditions which now distinguish the Episcopal Church, of men.

But the party fears on and which have been already copied to some either hand, the jealousy of the Episcopal extent by other Protestant bodies, have come authority in the lower House, and the great into life since 1853, and may be traced, in



their origin, to this movement. The Cottage exciting question to be debated, nothing but meetings conducted by deacons or laymen the unfinished business of the previous Conwith a free use of the prayer-book, the vention to be attended to. The deputies in Bible-classes for men and women, the moth- the lower House came with few instructions ers' meetings, the sewing-schools taught by from their dioceses. There was nothing to Christian women, the evangelists' service, fight about, and everybody was in the huand parochial missions, the attempts to deal mor to attend to new phases of Church life. with special classes by out-door preaching, Bishop Williams gave the key-note to the the missions to deaf mutes, and numerous Convention in the opening sermon at Trinother agencies, in which the energies of all ity church. He is the only survivor of the classes of churchmen have been enlisted, original committee of the House of Bishops show the suggestions derived from this appointed to take Dr. Muhlenberg's Memo

In fact, the Memorial movement rial in hand. That sainted man had been has at length become the aggressive and called to his rest early in the spring, and it working policy of the Episcopal Church. was eminently fitting that Dr. Williams

The General Conventions in this com- should invite attention to the practical work munion have frequently been looked for which Dr. Muhlenberg attempted to arouse ward to with misgiving. Party feeling has his church to do a quarter of a century berun high, and certain doctrinal issues have fore. The late William Welsh, always forehad to be met. The Church began with most as a lay-apostle in practical religious very low views of what the Anglican com- enterprises, persevered till the gist of this munion teaches in its prayer-book and other sermon had been embodied in a series of standards, and had it remained where it was resolutions which the Committee adopted a hundred years ago, its organization would and referred to a working committee. Then have continued defective, and in religious the unfinished business happened to involve love it would not have been sharply marked the very question which Dr. Muhlenberg off from Protestantism by the development had always insisted upon, liturgical revision of its proper Catholic life. The Episcopal or adaptation of our services to a wider Church is not the via media between Rome range of usefulness. Dr. De Koven had and Geneva, as John Henry Newman at- also come to the Convention with the pretempted to make it in the theory which he scient feeling that old issues were to be alconstructed for his own personal assurance, lowed to rest, and as one of the recognized but has a positive and definite organic life leaders of the Convention, with the convicof its own. This is never to be forgotten or tion that if the Church was to enter propignored. This had to be brought out and erly upon a new era, its constitution must maintained, in respect to ecclesiastical polity, be revised and adapted to meet the larger in respect to theological doctrines, and in and prospective wants of a national organrespect to ritual. The English Church has ization, was prepared to push matters in this been engaged for the last fifty years in re- direction. As the budget of new and pressstoring to its current life what was allowed ing questions was unfolded by the two to fall into disuse during the dreary Hanove- Houses in their separate capacity, it became rian era, and the same work has been going evident to every one that immediate legislaon here. The General Conventions have tion was not to be expected, and that the been the arenas in which the party battles Convention would largely take the character have been fought over these questions. The of a free debating society in which every Convention of 1874 was perhaps the saddest member could express himself upon the state and wickedest of them all; party issues were of the Church. This was precisely what was presented in their worst form, and the at- needed and what was done, the very questempt to stamp out ritualism was carried to tions which Dr. Muhlenberg had raised extreme lengths.

twenty-five years ago were the special points When the Convention met in Boston in of discussion. 1877, there was no preliminary scare, no Dr. De Koven would hardly like to be called Dr. Muhlenberg's successor, but in new needs. Hence it can never be at rest, prophetic vision, in the long look ahead, in never be out of a crisis; and what Matthe steady drive at things which are neces- thew Arnold with his singular truthfulness sary to enable the Episcopal Church to bring in phrases says of the English Church, is its full energies to bear upon the living is- equally true of its American daughter : “Dissues of the day, he closely resembles him. tracted as is the state of religious opinion He has, besides, that magnetic power over amongst us at this moment, in no other men which naturally qualifies him to be a great Church is there, I believe, so much leader. In the late Convention no man spoke sincere desire as there is in the Church of more wisely and none showed a greater England-in clergy as well as laity—to get range of statesman-like thought or a clearer at the truth. In no other great Church is conviction of what should be done. This there so little false pretense of assured was especially seen in a speech in which he knowledge and certainty on points where urged constitutional revision. But Dr. De there can be none.” * This testimony is Koven was not the only man who instinct supplemented by the testimony of the Rev. ively reached out to shape the coming time. J. M. Capes, who some years ago went to The leading men in the Convention were all Rome and has lately returned to the Church on one side. They favored the bringing of of England. He says: “It seems to me the Church to the people, the provision for that in the English Church as it now stands, shortened services, the measures looking freedom of thought can be united with practoward unity among the Protestant bodies. tical organization, and that this same organ

This Church has now reached a point ization supplies just that living aid which where its future will be watched with great translates thought into spiritual activity and interest by all Christian people. It has bated enables an honest man to do his duty in his nothing of its Catholic position, and not generation as God designs him to do it.” + changing its organization but increasing the The same can truly be said of the American efficiency of its methods of working, and branch of this Church. It has moved out of rising gradually to the consciousness of its its sectarianism and addressed itself to the providential position as an instrument for live issues of the day. The Church Congress strengthening our common Christianity, it was the distinct effort of churchmen to take has distinctly marched to the front as a their part in the contests of modern thought, live, progressive, and active organization for and has shown that this body was in a special the development of the Christian life. The position of advantage for such discussions. bishops and clergy have studiously avoided Its very conservatism has come in to give committing themselves to special views upon breadth of view. While others have only the minor questions of morals. They have seen things from the point of individuality, struck with practical vigor for the central there is something in the Catholic training things in religion and sought earnestly to of strong men which enables them to see a effect guidance for men and women in the subject on both sides, and this largeness of issues of daily life. It is a mark of sanity view has already commended the Congress when a religious organization is ready to as a platform for the discussion of questions confess that it bears in its body the fruits of in religion, morals, society, and the higher Adam's sin, and the Episcopal Church has politics. The two lines of strength in the not been backward of late in acknowledging Episcopal Church, as already indicated, are its short-comings. One point needs always its Catholic position as an historical body, to be remembered. The Anglican Church with a ministry whose authority Protestants seeks everywhere not to give ready-made never question and a prestige which is genanswers in religion and morals but to justify erally acknowledged, and its close affinity “ the sweet reason of Jesus” in practical life. with all the dearest interests and best phases It is the Church which attempts to recon


* Last Essays in Church and Religion, p. 176. cile religion with modern thought and soci

| Reasons for Returning to the Church of England, ety, and constantly to adapt old truths to

P. 197.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »