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And yet the names of the absent Tribes were, as usual, officially called. Eyes wet with tears, and faces filled with sorrow, told unerringly where all hearts were, at that Convention. As little was done as possible, even in the legislation of the Church. Every thing was left undone that could be, in testimony of the hope ·and the belief that these broken ranks would be filled again; at any rate, that the bonds of Unity were not as yet hopelessly broken. The records of that Convention, and the memories of all those who were present, will bear testimony to the real sentiments of that body upon this subject. Dr. Mahan spoke the deepest convictions of the great mass of that Convention, and of the whole Church, when he said, in his speech :
“ Learn from this a lesson for the times ! The Priesthood and the Church are an Ark of safety only as they continue in their place. Let them abide by the Mercy-seat. Let them remain in the Sanctuary, under the overshadowing wings, apart from the stir and tumult of secular affairs. But if the people will draw them from their place, -if, under the pressure of patriotic excitement, the Church be drawn into offices not properly belonging to her—if we mix up things sacred and profane—then look for defeat, for humiliation, for disasters of every kind, both to Church and State!”
And so did that noble layman from Massachusetts, the Hon. R. C. Winthrop, whose words, thrilling with the true eloquence of patriotism and Christian love, can never be forgotten :
“I believe, if the Government could speak to this Convention, it would say, “Leave it to us to do the denunciation. Leave it to us to take care of the hostile proclamations. Leave it to us to apply force to those who are in arms. But, for yourselves, preserve carefully all ties of religious and fraternal sympathy that may remain; for these Christian ties, though now concealed, perhaps under duress, may once more be restored and help to bind us together in one.' If we can only restring from the spires of our Churches, the wires and ties of Christian sympathy, the electric current may once more flash along the threads of feeling; and we still do a better work toward the restoration of the Union, than all the Canons that could be passed in this house, or even all the Cannons that can be forged in the foundries or arsenals of the General Government."
And, then, that solemn Service in Old Trinity ; Bishops, and venerable Presbyters, and distinguished Laymen, were met, not to hear a sermon, but were seen bowing together before the Altar of God, in deep humiliation and fervent prayer. It was a scene of awful and solemn reality, True hearts felt it to be so. Men looked up unto God imploringly, and felt renewed confidence in Him, and in each other.
Men were silent and subdued as in the presence of a great judgment, and sought relief from Him of Whom alone cometh our help. And He that maketh men to be of one mind in an house, heard and answered their humble petitions. The Convention at last adjourned, thanking God, that, thus far, the “Unity of Spirit” and “Bond of Peace” were left undisturbed among
And now, another Convention is close upon us. Whatever fears we may have formerly entertained as to its results, and as to its influence on the welfare of the Church and the wellbeing of the Nation, those fears are passing away. As this mighty nation is to be One Nation, and as we are to be One People and not many peoples, so, unless God's wrath is to be visited upon us for our unfaithfulness, we are to be yet again One Church, knit more firmly than ever before together, to do one great blessed work, for Christ, for this nation, and for the world. The Sects about us are falling to pieces. Even the most conservative of them are rending to fragments with their internal feuds and animosities, their mutual criminations and recriminations, their fierce and angry fanatical passions. So, for God's sake, and the Church's sake, and for the souls of men, let it not be among us. Let not á haughty and scoffing Infidelity, which fills so many of the chief places of intellectual influence in this country, say, as it yet hopes to say,
There, there ! so would we have it; neither let them say, we have devoured him."
We are glad to see the public testimony of leading Southern Bishops, and to hear the same confession from many of our Southern brethren, that, up to the breaking out of the War, the Church at the North had given them no just cause of offense. Harmony, confidence, and brotherly love prevailed among us all. The action of the Church at the North, during the War, has been, as we have seen, uniform, and of the same
consistent character. We do not hesitate to express our firm conviction, that the action of the Church at the South has been, during all these trials, such as seemed to Churchmen there, best and right, under the most difficult, delicate, and perilous circumstances under which they have been placed. And now that the War is over, and that the work of reconstruction is well begun, and that the fact is assured, that National Unity is to be a reality, it is cheering to know, that, from all parts of the South, Churchmen are manifesting, not merely a readiness, but a whole-souled heartiness, in accepting the position where God in His Providence has placed us, in welcoming the olive branch, and in returning to Union and Unity with their brethren of the North, from whom their hearts had never been estranged. God's holy Name be praised.
We regret, however, to notice a single solitary instance at the North (we allude to a certain Church Newspaper) of a factious spirit, and of an apparent determination to make mischief and trouble. In what form this spirit will show itself, or whether it will dare show itself at all at the Convention, is as yet uncertain. That it will be harmless, we are positive. Such an exhibition of recklessness and of discord, ought not, perhaps, to cause surprise. But we do say, that under all the solemn circumstances under which the Church in these United States is now placed, such conduct would be characterized, in our judgment, by an intensity of meanness and wickedness which words cannot measure'nor describe. To tear open again the old wounds now just beginning to heal ! to taunt, and mock, and try to humble our brethren of the South, by going over again the terrible story of the last four years ! God forbid ! We know our brethren of the South too well, to know that they will permit any such scenes as this. This is not the reception to which they have been invited. Should, therefore, an attempt be made to introduce such angry elements into the Convention, let it be promptly met, as it deserves, with entire silence. Let there be no fierce debate, no bitter controversy, no war of words. The old sores are even now too fresh,-all hearts are yet too full of past sufferings and sorrows,—to permit calm and impartial discussion. The practical steps to be taken in the return to Union by the Church, North and South, are few in number; and they involve no points of difficulty, which the good sense and wisdom of the Convention cannot readily
Another measure which will come before the Convention, of great importance, is that of remodelling our whole Conventional System. The utter impossibility of legislating upon all those matters pertaining to the Church which are not strictly Diocesan, in a body whose members are scattered over an extent of territory reaching from ten degrees of longitude East to forty-eight longitude West, and spreading over twenty-three degrees of latitude, is a fact now universally admitted. The restoration of the Primitive Provincial System, just that, nothing less and nothing more, we must and shall have, sooner or later. The System admits of endless modifications. It will remove every difficulty in the way of the perfect and permanent Union and Unity of the Church in this country, by allowing the Church in each section to manage its own sectional matters in its own way, and without the constant annoyance of intermeddlers and busy-bodies. The stereotyped and stale objection to the Provincial System, that its tendency is toward Popery, is so historically absurd and ridiculous, that no scholar will dare to make it. The man who is still stupid enough to urge it, should be voted the gift of a dunce block, and be recommended the use of it for the remainder of his life. The Articles upon that subject, in late numbers of this Review, by several of our ablest and soundest scholars and divines, deserve careful study. With the Provincial System, comes up,
question of Smaller Dioceses, and Division of Dioceses, and SeeBishoprics ; indeed, the whole subject of the territorial jurisdiction, within which a Primitive Bishop can faithfully discharge the functions of his Office. The late language of Bishops Williams and Coxe, in their Addresses to their respective Conventions, shows that the true theory of the Episcopate is gaining ground among us. To what extent the General Convention ought to fetter and clog a movement in this direction, is a question worth discussing.
Another matter of. Church action, which will come before the Convention, is that of Communication with the Russo-Greek Church. The efficient labors of the Committee on that subject, appointed by the Convention of 1862, and the valuable Papers which they are publishing, are accomplishing, perhaps, all that is possible or even desirable just at the present moment, We ought to remember that there is something which, as a Church, we owe to ourselves. The subject, however, must soon come to be a practical one in certain quarters, especially in the Dioceses of California, and the Church on the Pacific coast, where members of our own and of the Russian Church are already meeting and mingling, and where their mutual Church relations to each other must soon be ascertained, and be formally and authoritatively decided. The series of Articles on this general subject, which have appeared in late Numbers of this Review, have awakened much interest at home and abroad ; portions of them have been reprinted in Russia ; and they should, and we trust will be republished here in a volume by themselves.
To the Convention about to assemble, there will be presented another duty, ordinarily the great and absorbing duty, The MISSIONARY WORK of the Church. The Church holds her Commission as a Church, and her promise of Christ's perpetual presence, by a bond which specifies this as her specific object. Christ gave His Commission, not to the disciples in the mass, but to the Apostles, as the representative, responsible officers and leaders of His Church. He said:
“All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on Earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. xxviii., 18-20.)
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (John xx., 22-23.)
The Church has no right, no power to delegate that duty to other hands. She is, in and of herself, a Missionary Society;