Thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isaiah Iviii. 12.
On S. Peter's Day, 1665, the building in which we are gathered this morning was consecrated by John Cosin85, the first bishop after the Restoration. He had been Dean of Peterborough and Master of S. Peter's College; and these two offices which he had borne may have suggested the choice of the day, as well as the dedication of the chapel. Perhaps also, as the ancient parish church of Auckland bears the name of S. Andrew, he may have seen an additional fitness in the choice of his more famous brother, as the Apostle who should give his name to this chapel.
This was not the original destination of the building. Its arcade proclaims its date. It was the ancient hall84 of the bishop's manor house of Auckland—erected about the middle of the thirteenth century, when the Palatinate was in all its glory. The old chapel had been razed to the ground during the Parliamentary troubles; and Cosin thus supplied its place, removing the ancient roof with its lantern, and throwing up the present clerestory.
This was the crowning act of Cosin's restorations. He had entered the diocese four years before, and had found the material and the spiritual fabrics of the Church alike in dilapidation and disorder, where they were not in complete ruin. At the outbreak of the troubles the aged bishop Morton86, the most exemplary and blameless of prelates, had been driven from home and office, to seek shelter in the charitable houses of friends, where he lingered on for some years, dying at the advanced age of 95, only a few months before the Restoration.
The Consecration sermon was preached by Cosin's chaplain, Davenport86. He was a man of high spiritual aims and generous impulses, notable in many ways. 'When I think,' he wrote to a friend, 'of that burden that was laid on me when I was made a priest, fearfulness and trembling take hold upon me; and in this thing God be merciful to me and to all priests.' It is a thought which will find a response in all our hearts to-day. 'I love a man,' he says in this same letter, 'that loveth the Church as well as his own flesh and blood; and I am of opinion that we priests that have no wives ought to look upon the Church and poor as our next heirs.'
The summer of 1665 was one of the hottest on record, as the summer of 1888 has been one of the coldest. The sweltering heat had nursed and fed the pestilence. The great plague was now at its height in London, and was raging elsewhere in the provinces. On the very day, when the bishop and people were assembled in this chapel for their peaceful celebration, a well-known writer87 notes in his diary, how at Whitehall he had found 'the court full of waggons and people ready to go out of town.' The plague had attacked the West End with unwonted virulence, and everyone who could was fleeing before the scourge.
The chapel was consecrated, not indeed before such a significant gathering as we witness to-day—an assemblage of bishops gathered from all quarters of the globe88—but still before a goodly concourse collected from the diocese itself, 'before the dean and prebendaries and many clergymen,' with 'abundance of gentlemen and gentlewomen.' The preacher took for his text,' He was worthy for whom he should do this, for he loveth our nation and he has built us a synagogue'—adding significantly the words which follow,' Then Jesus went with them.' At the close, he tells us, he 'moved all the clergy and laity to be persuaded by the sight of the beauty of this chapel to repair and beautify their own churches and chapels'; nay, he went so far as to 'onerate the conscience' of the bishop and other ecclesiastical officers present 'with the care of seeing it done.'
The period spanned by Cosin's lifetime was pregnant in consequences to the English-speaking people. You in America and in the Colonies, not less than we in England, feel its pulsations vibrating through every part of your political and religious life. The epoch has stamped itself in all its vicissitudes, all its reactions and contradictions, upon us for good or for evil; and the impress will probably last as long as the English race itself.
Two points I would desire especially to emphasize, as having a direct bearing on our meeting to-day.
1. There is first the diffusion of our race, more especially in its religious aspects. Politics were closely bound up with religion—more closely perhaps than at any other epoch in our history. Every political revolution was a religious revolution also. Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Independent, dominated in turn. The vast American continent offered a home to the refugees who could no longer live and worship in peace in the mother country. Thus successive waves of migration swept across the Atlantic, each carrying its own freight to people the boundless territory which had room for all.
This unhappy alliance of religion with politics was not confined to any one party; nor did it take its rise in the period with which we are concerned. But it was sealed by Laud's compact with absolutism. The divine right of settled, orderly government, as taught by S. Paul, was travestied in the divine right of kings, even of tyrants, as held by Churchmen of the Stuart period. The rude shock, which it received by the Revolution of 1688 and the Non-juring schism88, was needed to loosen its hold on the mind of the Church. Though you, the members of the American Church, are not responsible for its inception, you have suffered from its effects even more than we. When the independence of the United States was declared, you started heavily weighted in the race. The suspicion which, however unjustly, clung to you and fettered your movements, as the Church of absolutism, the Church of an alien domination, could not be thrown off in a day. Now, thank God, all is changed. It was a happy coincidence, which placed the anniversary of your Declaration of Independence90 during the session of the Lambeth Conference, and thus enabled us to break up our meeting at an earlier hour that you might pay your respects to your American Minister and exchange congratulations with him on the happy occasion. Your later developments—more especially in those western parts where the injurious tradition inherited from the past had not taken root— are full of hope. Our gathering to-day is an evidence that the Anglican type of Christianity belongs not to any one form of government or any one cast of politics, but can flourish alike under a well-ordered republic and under a constitutional monarchy.
2. This brings me to the second point of which I desire to speak, as the outcome of Cosin's age, and very largely also of Cosin's influence—the type of Christianity which is termed Anglican.
Though it is difficult to define the character of religion and theology in England during the period from the Reformation to the Restoration by any one term, where its manifestations were so various, yet looking at its general tendency we shall not be far wrong in calling it Puritan. It was a reaction—a necessary reaction—from the corruptions of medievalism; and if the pendulum, swinging back, went too far, before it settled in a position of equilibrium, this is the teaching of experience in the moral world as in the physical. The rebound from religious absolutism leads to religious license. The excessive scrupulosity about the externals of religion provokes by a reaction the spirit of irreverence and carelessness.
I would not be mistaken when I use the word Anglicanism. I desire to guard myself against any narrow interpretation. I believe that the members of the Anglican communion have yet many lessons to learn from medieval Christianity, many also from Puritan Christianity. Can it be otherwise if the type of the true disciple of Christ's kingdom held out in the Gospel—the householder producing from his stores things new and old—is truly apprehended by us? The type of Anglicanism, as it was exhibited in the Caroline era, is too narrow and rigid, too unsympathetic, too deficient in growth and adaptability. Placed as we are amidst the varied activities of an age of exceptional energy, rapid in its movements and manifold in its developments, we ought not to be slow to 'lengthen our cords,' to gather experience, to accumulate spiritual lessons from all sides. Where our opportunities are so great, shall not our acquisitions bear some proportion to them? These Lambeth Conferences, if they did nothing else, ought surely to assist us to this larger conception of Anglicanism; for they gather into a focus the experiences drawn from all lands and from every condition of civilisation and of barbarism.
But, while we 'lengthen our cords,' we must 'strengthen our stakes' likewise. Indeed this strengthening of our stakes will alone enable us to lengthen our cords with safety, when the storms are D. S. io
howling around us. We cannot afford to sacrifice any portion of the faith once delivered to the saints; we cannot surrender for any immediate advantages the threefold ministry which we have inherited from Apostolic times, and which is the historic backbone of the Church. But neither can we on the other hand return to the fables of medievalism or submit to a yoke which our fathers found too grievous to be borne—a yoke now rendered a hundredfold more oppressive to the mind and conscience, weighted as it is by recent and unwarranted impositions of doctrine.
This position was laid down for the English Church at the era of the Restoration. After much swaying to and fro of the religious pendulum, it found rest here. Accusations of Romanism were unscrupulously levelled against Cosin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. During his residence in Paris he was assiduously plied by the Jesuits. The Queen did her best to draw off her English attendants to Romanism. Never was man placed in a position where the temptations to secede were greater. Even his own son was seduced from his allegiance. But Cosin saw his position clearly as a member of the English Church, and he never yielded an inch in the direction of Rome. 'He was the Atlas,' says old Fuller91,' of the Protestant religion.' He stood out as the rallying point of the exiled remnant of the Anglican communion, whom he preserved from absorption by his watchfulness and energy. He went even farther than most English Churchmen would go in the present day towards communion with the reformed non-episcopal Churches on the Continent. Even those acts which brought upon him the greatest obloquy and suspicion were done in the interests of the English Church, as against the incentives to Romanism. His book of Devotions"2—'cozening' devotions, as it was styled by his enemies—was compiled by him, as a counteraction to the Romanist manuals which were offered to the English Court. Whatever else may have been his faults, any leaning to Rome cannot be laid to his charge.
Cosin spent the greater part of his ministerial life in the diocese of Durham. He lived at Auckland before his exile as chaplain, and after his return as bishop. He found this building a hall, and he left it a chapel. Of all places with which his name is connected, none so truly enshrines his life and work, none so fully typifies the career of the English Church in all its vicissitudes during the period of his activity as this. But it especially symbolizes the work of the Restoration, in which he took so active a part.
The Restoration is a subject on which we cannot dwell without much pain. Never had monarch greater opportunities than Charles the Second; never did monarch abuse his opportunities more miserably and shamefully. It is sad also to reflect how much brighter and nobler might have been the future of the English Church, if at this crisis English Churchmen had shown more generosity, more patience and forbearance, more sympathy and love, more of the spirit of Christ towards their opponents. We must hang our heads in shame when we remember that within a few months of the day which saw the consecration of this chapel the cruelty of the Act of Uniformity was whetted to a keener edge by the atrocities of the Conventicles Act and the Five Miles Act. I do not say that comprehension was possible without deserting that position which is the strength of the Anglican Communion as the guardian of primitive truth and of apostolic order against assailants from either side. But if time had been given, if sympathy had been shown, if relief had been afforded, if temporary concessions had been made which might safely have been made, if everything had been done to conciliate in place of exasperating, the loss and discredit to the English Church from the exclusion of so much piety, so much learning, so much conscientious self-sacrifice, on that fatal S. Bartholomew's Day might have been minimised, if it could not have been altogether averted.
But two facts must be borne in mind lest, while we condemn the offence, we do injustice to the offenders.
In the first place, we must remember that it was the age of reprisals. The Anglican clergy did not begin the conflict; they were, at least in most cases, only reinstated in positions which they had held before, and which they regarded as their rightful possession. They had been turned out of house and home; their means of subsistence had been withdrawn; their characters had been blackened; their liturgy had been prohibited; their common worship forbidden. What wonder that, when the turn of the political wheel placed them upmost, they forgot the lessons of forgiveness and charity which the Gospel should have taught them? But it was the misfortune of the English Church that this was the last of the great religious persecutions. Thus it stood out in the memories of men, while its predecessors with all their cruelties were forgotten.
I do not know that Cosin took any active part in carrying these severe measures. I would fain believe not. It is satisfactory at least to find that at the Savoy Conference811 he is singled out with one other by Baxter, as the two bishops who were willing to make moderate concessions. This not too partial critic describes him as 'of a rustic wit and carriage, so he would endure more freedom of our discourse with him, and was more affable and familiar than the rest.'
In the second place, it should not be forgotten that the laity were at least as eager as the clergy in this sad business. The Houses of Parliament were impatient with the Houses of Convocation. The Commons vied with, and even outstripped, the Lords in the stringency of their measures. Presbyterianism had been discredited in England94. 'I know very few or none,' wrote the presbyterian Sharp at this crisis, 'who desire it, much less appear for it.' 'From any observation I can make, I find the Presbyterian cause wholly given up and lost. ... A knowing minister told me this day, that if a synod should be called by the plurality of incumbents, they would infallibly carry episcopacy. There are many nominal, few real Presbyterians.' To the Independent 'new presbyter' had appeared nothing better than 'old priest writ large.' The Independents themselves had their turn, and were discredited. 'The Restoration,' says a recent writer86, 'was the work of the whole nation, not of a party. It was the victory of peace, not of loyalty. Men, wearied with confusion, exhausted by strife, frightened by military despotism, sickened by anarchy, turned to the throne and to the Church, because in them they saw not only a protection against disorder but also a guarantee for law.' Alas! that this splendid opportunity was not better used by the victors in the strife.
I do not stand here to praise Cosin at all hazards, though I am standing on his own ground. I could have wished that he had shown less harshness and more sympathy towards the dissenters in his own diocese. I would gladly throw a veil over a certain acerbity of temper, which casts an unlovely hue on his character. But allowance can surely be made to a man, who was driven into exile by the unjust accusations of his enemies—the earliest sufferer in the strife. Much infirmity of temper can be forgiven in one, who laboured under a painful disease, brought on, or at least aggravated, so it was said, by rigorous fasting in his earlier years. But by his strenuous fearlessness, by his great learning, by his unbounded munificence, by his love of order, by his patience and capacity of detail, he did a work, not only for the diocese of Durham, but for the Church of England at large, which she cannot without base ingratitude overlook. When any reproached him with his profuse generosity, which would impair the inheritance of his children, he had his ready reply, 'The Church,' he said, 'is my firstborn.' He was the principal figure among Churchmen in the great drama of the Restoration; and his impress is stamped indelibly on her richest treasure, her Book of Common Prayer.
One lesson more especially of lasting value the Restoration has bequeathed to us, the lesson of hope and confidence. It has shown, as nothing else could have shown, the tough vitality of the Anglican Church. Fuller, addressing his reader five years earlier, writes thus: 'An ingenious gentleman some months since in jest-earnest advised me to make haste with my History of the Church of England, for fear (said he) lest the Church of England be ended before the History thereof. ... Blessed be God, the Church of England is still (and long may it be) in being, though disturbed, distempered, distracted; God help and heal her sad condition86.' The Restoration came, and with it the healing which Fuller desired to see. Yet some years later the king, hearing that Waller the poet intended to give his daughter in marriage to a clergyman, sent to remonstrate with him for marrying her to a falling Church. 'Sir,' replied Waller",'the king does me very great honour to take any notice of my domestic affairs; but I have lived long enough to observe that this falling Church has got a trick of rising again.' The serious and imminent danger at this period was from Romanism— more serious than it has ever been since—Romanism in high places; and the king himself was chiefly responsible for it . This peril too the Church survived. It was this spectre, I presume, looming through the dark mists of the future, which in the life appended to the funeral sermon over Cosin himself suggested the preacher's foreboding utterance, 'Who knows but that God took him away from the evil to come?' Felix opportunitate mortis I Happy he, that he did not live to see the betrayal of that Church which he loved so dearly by that family for and with whom he had suffered so much. Again, nearly a century later, the greatest of Cosin's successors, the thoughtful and wise Butler, as is well known, declined the primacy, on the ground that 'it was too late for him to try to support a falling Church98.' The complaint which prostrated the Church at this time was wholly different from the former. There were no fatal stabs from without; there was no fever or congestion within. The Church seemed dying of atrophy. But she recovered from her prostration, and not only recovered, but started up into a new and vigorous life, of which this concourse to-day is a speaking token. Who could have believed that out of that Church trampled down, crushed, almost annihilated, as it was, under the Commonwealth, out of that poor and withered remnant which was ready to perish, would grow this mighty tree which with its boughs overspreads all lands and all oceans ?' Persecuted, but not forsaken;' 'chastened and not killed;' 'dying, and behold we live.'
From the windows and walls of this chapel" more than twelve centuries of history speak to us to-day— the history of the Northumbrian Church, the second cradle of English Christianity. Of all the Churches of Christ since the Day of Pentecost none can produce a purer record of noble work and blameless lives than the early Church of Northumbria—retaining the fragrance and freshness of her Celtic training long after her Celtic teachers had retired. The saints and heroes of this Church—our spiritual ancestors—look down upon us from the windows. There is Oswald, the true-hearted prince, who placed Christ in the forefront of all his endeavours, who would consent to conquer only under the standard of the Cross, whose first care it was, having won back his hereditary kingdom for himself, to win it also for Christ—a true nursing father, not only of the Church of Northumbria but of the Church of England—the prototype of an Alfred and a Louis, of not a few saintly kings throughout the ages. There too is Aidan, the gentlest, simplest, most sympathetic, most loving, most devoted, of missionaries—the rock whence we were hewn—the evangelist to whom before all others the Englishspeaking peoples owe not this or that benefit, but owe their very selves. There is the royal lady, the saintly Hilda, the mother who arose in our Israel, the messenger of peace in times of distraction and conflict, when every man did what was right in his own eyes, the instructress of bishops and of kings, uniting in herself the wisdom and the capacity of the man with the heart and the sympathy of the woman, diffusing the light of knowledge far and wide. There is the famous Cuthbert, the stripling called like David from the sheep-fold that he might feed the flock of God —the ascetic whose cherished home was the lonely ocean-girt rock and his favourite companions the fowls of the sea—not, it may be, the truest type of saintliness, not the type which would most impress our own age, but a man whose influence was second to none in his own and succeeding generations, and who left an example of self-renunciation which can never die. There is Benedict Biscop, from whose twin houses of Wearmouth and J arrow the light shone afar, illumining the darkness of the ages with the aurora of our Northern skies, Benedict Biscop who thought no journeys too long and no trouble too great that he might increase the appliances of education and the adornments of the sanctuary—Benedict Biscop who (if he had had no other claim on our remembrance) would have earned our unceasing gratitude as the intellectual and spiritual father of Bede. There is Bede himself, justly recognised by all succeeding ages as the Venerable, the true impersonation of the scribe instructed into the kingdom of heaven, bringing out of his treasures things new and old, gathering together vast stores of knowledge from every accessible source, and consecrating all to Christ, working on studiously, devotedly, devoutly, to the end, finishing his work only when he finished his life. JOSEPH BUTLER. Preached In Durham Cathedral On The Occasion His Own Enthronement.
These and others second only to these—your spiritual ancestors—look down upon you from the windows; and the history thus begun is continued by the architecture, by the shields, by the records which are imprinted on the building itself—through the middle ages, past the Reformation, over that critical period in the Anglican Church of which I spoke just now, till we reach our own time.
The continuity of our Church in the past is thus unfolded before you. The saints and great ones, though dead, yet speak. The stone cries out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber answers it. The dumb things are vocal of the ages gone by. But what shall I say of our Church in the present—of its diffusion, its achievements, its hopes? Is not this goodly concourse of breathing, acting, speaking men the true response to my question ?' The living, the living, they shall praise Thee, as I do this day.'
'As I do this day.' Yes, whose thanksgiving can be greater than mine—mine who am permitted to welcome you all, my brothers, and to bid you share with me this joyful festival in the dear sanctuary of the home of my fathers? Quid retribuam Domino f