« ZurückWeiter »
work where Doane bad left it, Odenheimer earnestly carried it on; going in and out among the churches, harmonizing and unifying, until he saw the time had come when by God's blessing, giving the increase, the work had become too great for one bishop to superintend, the little flock had become “two bands." In 1874 a division was made, and now we have in this State two Dioceses, the Sonthern retaining the old revered name of NEW JERSEY, having, as reported to their Convention in May last, 88 clergymen, 618 confirmed, 7,140 communicants, and 72 parishes in union with the Convention. And this, our
new Diocese of NORTHERN NEW JERSEY, reporting 76 clergymen, 845 confirmed, 7,786 communicants, and 66 parishes. Thus in the whole State, in less than fifty years, the increase has been from 21 to 164 clergymen, from 31 to 138 parishes, not counting missions, 1,463 were confirmed last year, and the communicants have increased from about 800 to nearly 15,000. What great cause have we for thankfulness to the Great Head of the Church, who has given this increase.
In the providence of God it was ordered that when Bishop Odenheimer selected for himself this new Diocese, his health was so broken that he was unable at once to take charge thereof; and though foreign travel and rest restored it so far that he was afterwards able to do the routine work of confirming and ordaining, yet it was entirely out of his power to inaugurate new measures. It remains for the Bishop you are now to elect to investigate fully the needs of the Diocese, to map out and press forward its missionary work, to organize new enterprises and stir up all, clergy and laity, to new zeal in the Master's cause.
There is a glorious future before this Church, if only with united hearts and shoulder to shoulder we go at our work. Hence, the vast iniportance that laying aside party feeling, and even personal preferences, we should unite on one who we may have good reason to believe is well-fitted for the responsible position of Episcopos, overseer.
It is the Divine commission, received from Christ through the Apostles and their successors in the ininisterial office, which gives the Bishop his authority, makes him, as St. Paul's says, an “Ambassador for Christ.” This commission your election cannot bestow. You may select a man agreeable to yourselves, and ask that he may be set over you in the Lord, but you cannot make him God's Ambassador. For consecration to the Episcopal Office of the man you may elect, you and he must apply to those who, as the Article says, “have public authority given unto them to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard,” i. e., those who are already Bishops; and he, thus consecrated and thereby coinmissioned, becomes not only your Bishop, but a Bishop of the Catholic Church, one of a body or college of Bishops, responsible to a certain extent for the welfare of the whole Church, with special responsibility for that portion thereof committed to his jurisdiction. I need not dwell upon this, I remind you of it that you may feel more deeply the great importance of a right selection. Not this Diocese alone, but the whole Church is interested in your choice. Your Bishop is to be a permanent legislator, a guardian of the faith, a commander of one division of Christ's army for the conquest of the world. Armies are made up of various divisions; each brigade has its allotted place and work; its general must see that every officer is efficient and at his post, that the men are cared for, fed, armed and drilled, etc., but all this to fit bis division to act in concert with others under the commanderin-chief, for the common cause. The
of Christ is not only one of occupation, but of conquest, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,” was spoken to the whole Church, to the Bishop of Northern New Jersey just as much as to the first Apostles. For convenience sake, to avoid confusion, we make a distinction between Missionary and Diocesan Bishops, but in reality there is none. The man whom you are now to elect, when duly consecrated, will become an Apostle, one sent, a Missionary, first and chiefly to his own Diocese, but also, according to his opportunity,“ to all the world,” and, therefore, bound to take an interest in the general preservation of the Church's doctrine and discipline, in its extension, in every labor of Christian love, at home and abroad. But while this is most true, and the qualifications of learning, experience and soundness in the faith, needed for this are to be kept in view, yet it is in his own Diocese, the chief work of the Bishop must be done; and he who is most earnest and successful in his own jurisdiction will, as a rule, be most weighty in the general councils of the Church, and most useful in its general work.
In his own Diocese, to use the words of Hooker, the Bishop “has not only power of administering the word and the sacraments, but also a further power to ordain ecclesiastical persons, and a power of chiefty in government over presbyters as well as laymen; a power to be by way of jurisdiction a Pastor even to Pastors themselves."
There are certain popular errors among both clergy and laity in regard to a Bishop's work and jurisdiction, a setting forth and refutation of which may aid us in understanding what these really are, better, perhaps, than can be done more directly in the time at our disposal.
1. A Bishop is not a mere routine official for preaching, ordaining and confirming. Yet some appear to think so; and if a Bisbop spend two or three hours in a parish, preach a sermon on some usual topic, and confirm the candidates ; shake bands after service with such happy indi. viduals as may be able to approach him; bid a hurried “God bless you” to the Rector, jump into the carriage to meet another engagement, often two, the same day, they think he has performed the Episcopal duty of a Parochial visitation. So wide-spread is this notion that it requires some courage in a Bishop to break through the miserable custom. It has rendered the Bishop's visits of far less permanent value than they might be made. The custom has arisen from, and also helped to keep alive, that congregational spirit which is the bane of this Church. What wonld be thought of a general who was satisfied with
so superficial an inspection of his army as this amounts to ? What real information as to the condition of his Diocese can a Bishop obtain from such hurried visitations ? That such a rapid "passing by” is not what the Church intends by an Episcopal Visitation is shown by Title I., Canon 15, XI., of the Digest, which orders: “Every Bishop in this Church shall visit the Churches within his Diocese at least once in three years, for the purpose of examining the state of his Church, inspecting the behaviour of his clergy, administering the apostolic rite of confirmation, ministering the Word, and if he think fit, administering the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to the people committed to his charge." And in Canon 14, S IV. , it is plainly taught, that with the notice to be given by the Bishop of each visitation, there shall also be sent questions addressed to the minister, and to the warden, and vestrymen, regarding “the state of the congregation,” which they are required then to answer
, for his “ information.” We cannot think this is fulfilled by the “reports to the Convention,” for which order is given in another Canon. Now I would have you note the italicised words of the first Canon quoted. In it the Diocese is called “his," i. e., the Bishop's “ Church.”
“ Church." The whole people therein are said to be “committed to his charge." He is thus declared responsible for the spiritual instruction and supervision of all, laity as well as clergy. I would beg you especially to mark this, brethren of the laity, for it combats another error, viz. : that the jurisdiction of the Bishop is chiefly, if not solely, over the clergy. You are ready enough to admit the subordination of the clergy to their Bishop, you are not quite so willing to allow that of yourselves. If the clergy offend you in any way, you are quick to appeal against them to their Bishop, and think they onght gladly to obey “his Godly admonitions ;” but how is it if you give cause of offence to them and they ask the Bishop to protect them, and he admonish you?
And now let me endeavor to depicture a visitation of the Bishop, if fully carried out as I believe the Church intends
it should be; not, perhaps, every time he comes to a parish, but at least, once in three years.
He comes into a parish not as a spy, not to gossip or hear tales on either side, but as a Father in God, in his Master's name and by virtue of his Master's commission, “to examine the state of his Church.” Notice has been sent beforehand to rector and vestry of certain heads on which he requires information ; such as, from the rector: How many services and of what kind are held ? How many attendants usually at such services? What care is taken for the instruction of the children in the doctrines and discipline of the Church? What missionary work is going on for parish enlargement, or Church extension? What errors of doctrine or discipline seem to be threatening the souls of your people, etc.? And then from the vestry: What is the financial condition of your parish? What the salary of your rector, and is it paid? What the condition of
your church property? What are you doing to help your rector in his work—parochial and missionary? What for Diocesan and general missions, etc.?
This premised, let us suppose the Bishop to arrive at the rectory, which, as a rule, should be his home, on the Saturday early enough to have a few hours private consultation with the rector, when the subjects alluded to may be talked over, such advice or encouragement given as may seem fitting, and the blessing of the Master sought by prayer. In the evening the wardens or vestry are met, the rector being present if he so desire, and information received on the heads committed to them; advice, exhortation or encouragement given ; in fact the whole “state of the Church examined, according to the Canon. This might be followed by a social gathering of the congregation, that the Bishop may gain some personal knowledge of “ the people committed to his charge,”
Sunday morning would come the “ ministering of the Word and Sacraments." The sermon, a father's word to his flock, a feeding of Christ's sheep, inspired, perhaps, by