Charles Filkins Sweet.

A champion of the cross : being the life of John Henry Hopkins, S.T.D., including extracts and selections from his writings online

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marriage of priests, communion in both kinds, and the usage of
the ancient national liturgy to her converts from the Eastern
Churches ; nor have they been required to profess a belief in
purgatory, indulgences, transubstantiation, or the rest of the new
Creed of Trent. In continental Europe the Papal assent has
been given again and again to the suppression of monasteries ; to
the wholesale confiscation of Church and conventual property ;
to the reconstruction of episcopal sees and the nomination
to ecclesiastical offices by the state ; and the publishing of
no bull from Rome, even in spirituals, without the approbation
of the civil government. She has tamely pocketed, at one time,
insults and robberies which, at another, she would have resented
with her most sonorous thunders. She has permitted, or con-
nived at, and sometimes pretends to approve of, the reading

iS6S.] Life of Jo Jui Henry Hopkins. 101

of Holy Scripture in the vernacular by her people. She has sup-
pressed the Jesuits, and submitted to their expulsion even from
Rome itself.

" Rome is willing to tolerate almost every variety of instrument
and ordinance, of rite and ceremony, that can co-operate to the
one end. Her clergy are of every grade of intellect and refine-
ment, from the hedge priest to the cardinal prince. Her rites
are of every shade of simplicity and grandeur. So far is she from
any objection to reviving things ancient which may be of present
use, that she makes her chief boast of antiquity, and is yet ever
ready to adopt any new device that may offer, or drop any an-
cient usage which may have become superfluous. Voluntary so-
cieties of every kind she permits, uses, cherishes, and multiplies.
She finds room for the meditative silence of La Trappe, and work
for the restless intrusivenessand wily intermeddlings of the Jesuit.
She has the extemporary vigor of the revival system, in true
Methodist style, with her Passionist and Redemptorist Missions,
and the willing confessions of thousands of excited penitents.
She has a constantly growing list of Brotherhoods, Sisterhoods,
Confraternities, Sodalities, Conferences, and what not. Fresh
converts, no matter if they come in crowds, she is never afraid
of, but is ready to compass sea and land to make them. And in
all the vast variety of her operations, her tenacity of purpose is
only made the more brilliantly apparent by the very multitude of
the forms in which it appears, and works, and wins. It is like
the tiger, soft and glossy, lithe and springy, nothing rigid about
the whole powerful organization — excepting only those great
weapons of tenacity, the teeth, and the claws.

" Now, this flexibility- of practical system is utterly independent
of doctrinal purity. It is not necessary, to secure freedom from
superstition or error, that the Church should be made like the
figure of a stuffed tiger, rigid all over, constantly showing its long
white teeth and its protruding claws, but utterly unable to make
any use of them, for want of flexibility in the rest of the system.
We are strongly of opinion that there has been no organized se-
cession from the Church which, by a judicious concession in-
volving no yielding of principle, might not have been made from
the first a most useful stimulus of increased life and strength in
the Church ; rather than to be driven out, an indignant and vin-
dictive enemy thirsting for war to the knife against an unnatural
mother, who showed herself destitute of all feeling for her most
earnest and laborious children.

102 A Champion of the Cross. [1868.

" In the ages of chivalry the lance was the great knightly wea-
pon, and required long and steady practice before it could be
used with force and certainty of aim, from the back of a horse in
full gallop. The knights practised themselves upon the figure of
a Turk cut out of wood, turning on a perpendicular pivot, and
having a heavy club in its hand. The whole was so arranged
that, if struck on either side of the exact centre, the unlucky
marksman, as he dashed by in full career, received a revolving
rap from the Turk's club.

" Now, Truth is very much like a wooden Turk ; and the popu-
lar mind, borne on that swift but unsteady steed, the Spirit of
the Age, is, as might be expected, very little likely to strike the
centre the first time, or yet the second. It may consider itself
very lucky if it finds that even ' the third time is the charm.'

" The dilemma presented to the Church has ever had these two
sharp horns : on the one side, ' Be not conformed to the world''
— ' the friendship of the world is enmity with God; ' and on the
other, the plain duty of employing the wisdom of the serpent,
and the apostolic example of being ' all things to all men,'' that
by any means ' she might gain some. ' The result of the proper
balance of these opposite principles was that, while the Apostles
and the Church were yet fiercely persecuted by the rulers of the
Jews, i the people magnified them. 1 Indeed, the essential popu-
larity of the Christian religion throughout its first and most
wonderful three centuries of conquest, is one of the most indisput-
able facts of history, as well as one of the most active causes of
its rapid and complete success.

"After her conquest of Paganism the Church was ready to be all
things to all men in matters which did not affect the essentials of
the faith ; and accordingly, whatever pleased the people was freely
permitted and even encouraged all over Christendom. But by
the sixteenth century it was evident that the compliance which
at first was but the kindly condescension of the weak to the
strong, had grown into far other and more fatal proportions.
The Church had given away her spiritual lordship in order that
she might pluck the temporal sceptre from the hands of kings.

" Such was the result to the Church's first experiment in aim-
ing at the mark of popularizing her services. Her lance struck
too far to the right of the centre, and she herself was well-nigh
felled to the ground by the inevitable recoil.

" The Reformation has been a second trial of her skill. With
the violent reaction natural to human kind, she has done her ut-

i868.J Life of Jo Jlh Henry Hopkins. 103

most to rid herself of the dangers of that popular plasticity which
had worked so much mischief. Her present practical system was
not the result of popular clamor, and has never granted an addi-
tional inch to any popular demands for increasing her standard

" Apparently hopeless of expansion in the old direction, her
natural and noiseless change has been to sink practically lower and
lower down in the dignity and beauty of celebrating such services
as she has retained ; thus impoverishing the remains of old
energy, while coldly neglecting to provide any practicable out-
let for the new. She has viewed the people, not as her natural
allies, her favorite children, in whose hearts she reigned supreme ;
but rather as secret and sullen foes, whose every additional desire
was construed as an incipient rebellion, whose every yearning
was to be choked down, whose every movement of spontaneous
life was to be visited at once with the inexorable strait-waistcoat.
One popular movement after another has convulsed England and
England's Church, and at times it has seemed as if the day were
lost beyond recovery ; but when the tide has turned the Church
has reappeared from the midst of the chaos, in all her rigid fixity,
not a rubric rubbed out, nor the fold of a surplice ruffled, as if
an indomitable obstinacy of immobility were the highest and
most glorious perfection of that which God ordained to be the
Tabernacle of life.

" And what has been the result? It took the Church more
than ten centuries to feel the recoil of her first mistake. We can
feel ours plainly enough at the end of three. Then she was full of
popular superstitions : now she is empty with popular desertions.
Then she was the centre of the life of the world : now she is like
Art and Science, but one of the accidents of the world's life.
Then she was decked in a gorgeousness which will be popular as
long as human nature remains what it is : now her beauty is de-
parted until she has no heart any longer for even the feast which
she professes to provide for her people. Except when her con-
gregations listen in silence to the musical performances in an
organ loft, she reads her cold praises with a monotonous, muffled,
and melancholy response ; and preaches her prayers to unkneel-
ing listeners, who condescend only a mumbled, or smothered, or
a dumb Amen. And this, the general standard of her public
worship, is proved by the listless, lazy lounging of too many of
her great congregations to be no longer really, heartily popular,
even among the bulk of her own people.

104 A Champion of the Cross, [1868.

" Thus ends the second attempt of the Church's lance to touch
the centre of truth in this matter. And she is yet suffering from
the stunning deadness of the blow with which inexorable and
impartial Truth ever punishes those who miss their mark.

" But the evil, though great, must not be so exaggerated as to
dishearten her children. And there is about her now an abun-
dance of the symptoms of an awakening to greater strength and
wisdom than ever before.

"High Church principles are very respectable principles, pro-
vided men will only act them out. If the Church be the Ark
in which is the salvation of the world, and if we be the Church,
it is high time we cease to live as if the main business for which
we were placed in the Ark were to see how many pretexts we
could devise to keep other men out of it. If we have any faith
whatever in our pretensions, let us rather see how many friendly
hands we can reach out, on every side, to draw other men in."

The offering to the General Convention of Dr. Muhlenberg's
famous Memorial on the subject of reunion was the cause of the
writing of the series of leaders from which the last extracts have
been made. It was no fault of either Dr. Muhlenberg, or of Mr.
Hopkins and his associates, that the concessions to the sects
which they proposed to make failed to meet the approval of the
Church at large. The Church itself had not yet learnt how to
use her own services with freedom and elasticity. Like the pro-
posals of Bishop Hobart in 1826, they seemed admirable at first
view, but on reflection they were rejected. But the spirit of
those and similar proposals was taken and used afterward in the
Church itself, and thus the freedom and stability of the Prayer
Book worship were proved to meet all genuine needs in sectarian


True to its own feelings, the Low Church party felt the thrill
of all the popular Protestant agitations. As the anti-slavery
movement in the North grew stronger, so the feeling in all re-
ligious bodies grew more and more intense. The abolition fever
grew hotter and hotter as the fires were fed by the New England
philanthropists. Long before the war broke out, some of the Prot-
estant sects were divided upon the point of the lawfulness of slave-
holding in Christians. The virus of the wound to the Church's
life was deeply felt among the Evangelicals. Yet before the
war slavery issues were easily avoided, because the Low Church
minority could not afford to divide its forces, and Massachusetts
and South Carolina, Virginia and Ohio, were all in that minor-
ity together.

The General Convention met at Richmond in 1859, in the
midst of the excitement caused by the John Brown raid at
Harper's Ferry, and it was like the rising of a rainbow from the
angry storm-clouds menacing the nation, to see one great body
of Christians, many of whose laymen were in high places in the
State, meeting in the centre of disturbance, and not so much as
a word spoken in Convention that mentioned the obscene tumult
raging all around.

Four Bishops were consecrated at that meeting, and, so great
was the popular interest in the Convention, it was at one time
planned to have them consecrated in a great tent, to be erected
in the Capitol Square !

The Church was, indeed, a haven of peace in those days, but
when once the war had come the fever swept everything before it
in the denominations, the Methodists going so far as to insert the
oath of allegiance in their ordination service. The Low Church-
men as a body went the same way ; and during the war Church
interests were nothing to them in comparison with •• saving the
life of the nation." Hopkins never could see that splitting the

106 A Champion of the Cross. [1865-66.

Church with politics would strengthen the life of the nation.
With unwavering confidence he anticipated the triumph of the
United States and the eventful restoration of the old govern-
ment, after a longer or shorter period of suffering and trouble.
Accordingly he was unflinching in his determination to keep all
political questions and issues out of the Church, as far as he
could. By this time the Church Journal was altogether the most
influential and best supported Church newspaper. It was quite
the strongest utterance in the Church. If the faith of the Ro-
mans in their final triumph in the second Punic war was shown
in selling the very ground upon which Hannibal was encamped,
surely some note of admiration should be sounded for those true-
hearted American Churchmen, Evangelicals as well as High
Churchmen who, in the midst of a storm of reproaches and up-
braidings, persisted in believing that it was a sin to allow politi-
cal agitations to enter the Church's councils. As citizens the
Church taught her members their duty to their just rulers.

They felt that armies might bring back the Southern States ; but
the Church had no armies to operate in bringing back the South-
ern Dioceses to the General Convention. If they came back at
all, it must be of their own free will, as brothers returning to their
own place, to be welcomed once more by brethren.

The General Convention which met in 1862, the darkest time
of the whole war for the North, saw the discussion of the whole
question in all its bearings. The first introduction of the ques-
tion was tabled by a majority of three to one in both Orders.

But, unfortunately, the New York State election was near at
hand, and Horatio Seymour, the Democratic candidate for
Governor ' ' on the War Platform ' ' was a member of the House of
Clerical and Lay Deputies, as a deputy from Western New York.
The Democrats were loudly accused of insincerity in putting forth
such a platform. In order to have a favorable effect on that im-
portant election, the Democratic members of the House were more
willing to do something than they would have been at any other
time. The Republicans being clamorous for action, and the
Democrats thus persuaded, the resolutions formerly tabled were
sent to a large committee, which reported a series of resolutions
which meant next to nothing. The debate lasted more than a
week, hounded on by the daily press of both parties. In the
House Dr. Mead and Dr. Hawks, the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop,
Dr. Mahan, and others resisted the effort to pass these resolutions,
or to strengthen them, but at last the members of the House of

1865-66.] Life of Jo hit Hairy Hopkins. 107

Bishops began to yield to the strong secular pressure, and the
deputies, finding out how the current was setting, passed the mild
resolutions by a very scanty majority.

This was the highest political movement that rose in the
Church. Loyalty was the great theme of all Protestant pulpits,
and resolutions not worth the paper and ink were adopted all over
the North ; but, except in the case of three or four dioceses, all
similar manifestoes were voted down or tabled instanter on their
introduction in the Church.

When the war was ended the predominating secular interest
was still rampant among the Evangelicals, and one of their organs
demanded of the government that some of the leading Southern
bishops and clergy should be hanged, on the ground that they
had been leaders in the original movement for secession.

The Southern Church has been set up because it was felt that
ecclesiastical independence must go along with the civil indepen-
dence claimed by the seceding States.

When the war was ended it followed that ecclesiastical union
must be restored also. Then it was that the value of the influ-
ence of the Church foimial was seen. Then it was made plain
that in resisting political agitation that paper had been expressing
the highest patriotism, and, in seeking to restore full relations
with the Southern Churchmen, it had confounded all the counsels
of bitterness and hatred so freely uttered by Low Churchmen.
Some of the Southern bishops resumed their old places the very
year of the close of the war, 1865, trusting, in the noble words of
the Bishop of New York, "to the love and honor of their
brethren ; " the others came back not long after, and in less than
a year after the war was over the Church was completely re-
united. To no one man is that consummation due so much as to
John Henry Hopkins. In his " Life of Bishop Hopkins," at the
end of the chapter on the reunion of the Church (from which
most of the above account has been gathered, though in piece-
meal), he gives a letter to Bishop Hopkins from Bishop Elliott, of
Georgia, "the Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in the Southern Confederacy," wherein these lines
occur, in congratulating him upon celebrating his golden wed-
ding — "among those descendants stood my adopted son, John
Henry, of whom I feel so proud, whose wise and judicious
counsels have done more than almost any human means besides,
to bring about the reunion of the children of God at the North
and the South."

io8 A Champion of the Cross. [1865-66.

In writing of the attitude of the Church Journal as to the ex-
pediency of the Church interfering with the affairs of the nation,
it must be observed that personally Mr. Hopkins held to the
opinions of the Bishops' Pastoral letter of 1862, and so expressed
himself in the paper. And a side-light is thrown upon the mat-
ter by the following leader written the week after the assassination
of President Lincoln :

" The happy Easter which we were anticipating last week has
been horribly blurred with blood, shed by the hand of an as-
sassin. The whole land was fluttering with flags on Good Friday,
to be draped in universal mourning on Easter Day. Such over-
whelming grief, such an overshadowing sorrow, this country has
never known before. That so fearful and complicated a plot of
political assassinations should have been deliberately formed, and
so marvellously carried out, shows that demoralization has rotted
down the national character more deeply than any of us dreamed
of. It is a disgrace as well as a grief.

" To-day, simultaneous services will be held over the whole
land, while the funeral ceremonies of the murdered President are
being celebrated in Washington : and there will be a depth and
an earnestness in them far surpassing anything that has been
known since the war began.

" It is but natural, and yet it is most saddening to see,
that this detestable crime has interrupted, with a sudden black
cloud, the sunshine of good-will that was beginning to gleam
forth warmly and cheerily all over the North, ushering in appar-
ently an era of good feeling, which was encouraged by signs of
corresponding reaction at the South. Now all is dark again. No
greater misfortune to that unhappy part of our country could have
happened at this time, than the murder of President Lincoln.

"Political assassination only consecrates in the hearts of a
nation the cause which is thus foully attacked. And there could
be no greater proof of the safety of the life of the nation, than
that, in .the face of so startling a calamity, the reins of power
passed at once to the legal hands, without a shock or even a rip-
ple of disturbance or doubt. May the Providence of God bring
good out of evil ! ' '

One incident of the later years of this war may be of interest
for the bearing it has upon objects dear to John Henry Hopkins.
Napoleon III. was maintaining the hopeless Maximilian as Em-

1865-66.] Life of Jo Jui Henry Hopkins. 109

peror of Mexico, and the presence of French troops under Ba-
zaine was felt to be a covert menace to our Government, just
beginning, at the cost of enormous sums of money and of more
precious lives, to have hopes of a favorable ending of the war.
But the administration had its hands full, and could only warn in
a diplomatic way the French Government of the meaning of their
acts in Mexico. To the immense honor of Russia it should be
remembered that Alexander II., in this hour of our national peril,
when England was barely maintaining officially a cold neutrality
while expressing openly the warmest sympathy with the Southern
cause, and the French Emperor was waiting but for an unfavor-
able turn to our affairs, sent a squadron to New York, and thus
gave us his moral support.

The Russian chaplains of the ships of war were cordially re-
ceived by the Bishop of New York, and with his full consent and
approval they repeatedly celebrated the Sclavonic Liturgy in
Trinity Chapel.

This caused a great sensation in religious circles, and gave
umbrage anew to the Low Churchmen, who were just then on fire
with the idea of exchanging pulpits with the " evangelical de-

The music of the Russian choir quite enraptured Hopkins.
Of it he used to quote Mahan's words describing the music at
the Russo-Greek Chapel in Paris — " O how lovely ! To hear that
sweet and earnest Litany, becoming more and more intense at
every repetition, and seeming at times to be battering the gates
of heaven, the angels the meanwhile answering from within the
closed doors of the sanctuary, it beats all Western uses beyond
comparison ! " He transcribed the Russian Litany and set it to
the words of our English Litany. It is far sweeter and more
beautiful than the Tallis setting to which the Litany is usually
sung, and not too difficult for any ordinary choir.

The last years of Hopkins' connection with the CliurcJi
Journal saw the culmination of its influence. Whether it would
have kept its place as leader of the journals of the Church if the
alarm over the rise of " Ritualism " had not arisen it is idle to

The year 1867 saw victory for the advocates of the division
of the Diocese of New York, after a steady fight on his part for
eight years. In 1868 he sold the paper in order to give himself
up to writing the life of Bishop Hopkins, and to save his eye-
sight, seriously weakened by overwork.

no A Champion of the Cross. [1865-66.

The close of the rebellion saw the actual formation of a " Ritual-
istic parish " in New York. Such churches had been in existence
some years before that date in England. There they had been
called for by laymen. The ground lay a little differently here, and
accordingly they did not appear quite so soon in America. But
they had been expected. Long before Ritualism showed itself
here the Evangelicals had dubbed the modest revived use of the
surplice in the pulpit as a ritualistic abomination. The eastward
position of the celebrant at the altar, to this day a matter of strife
in England, and really the key to the whole position of the Cath-
olic school as to ceremonial, had been adopted and used even by
Evangelicals. Hopkins had for years advocated the full revival of
the Reformation ornaments and ceremonial, and so he was ready
for them too, and, of course, an unflinching supporter of the men
who adopted them. And yet, he was never, in the vulgar sense of
the word, a Ritualist. For one thing, he was a deacon, and had
no rights over ceremonial in any church, and he naturally, as
every gentleman will do, followed the customs of the parish
priest. He used to say, " I am not really a Ritualist ; I am a
Catholic ; but as long as the word is used as a term of reproach
of other men, better than I am, I will never disown it." To
the end of his days as a parish priest his services were the old-
fashioned " full morning service." In his church at Williams-
port he introduced the weekly and feast day celebrations, which
he always ministered fasting. At them he wore only the surplice
and stole, "taking the eastward position," elevating both the
paten and the chalice at the consecration, and inclining pro-
foundly after consecrating each kind, and by his whole bearing
seemed, especially after consecration, in a sort of ecstasy of devo-
tion and adoration.* He used to do what is so often read of,

Online LibraryCharles Filkins SweetA champion of the cross : being the life of John Henry Hopkins, S.T.D., including extracts and selections from his writings → online text (page 11 of 42)