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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anything like an admission of present anti - Catholic Roman
claims, or of her anti-Catholic and unhistorical teachings. As
long as they are made terms of communion by Rome they must
be resisted for the sake of Catholicity. But he was not discour-
aged in his efforts by the Vatican definitions of 1870, nor by the
contempt poured upon the Anglican Bishops' propositions, for
he never expected to see any appreciable approach on either
side. Herein he showed the disposition of the saints, for he
labored from the very highest motive, a desire for the manifes-
tation of our Lord's glory in the coming near of His King-
dom. That he should be allowed to work at all in so great a

1850-67.I Life of John Henry Hopkins. Si

cause was joy enough for him, and with single-heartedness he
did what he could and left the rest without fretfulness or anxiety

to God.

Nothing less than this restoration of Catholic communion is
the terminus ad quern of the Catholic movement in the Anglican



The battle against the radical wing of the evangelicals,
whose principles were really (at bottom at least) quite different
from those of the old evangelicals of Simeon's school, was,
while it lasted, one for life or death. If the radicals had then
triumphed, sooner or later not only the " Catholic party " would
have been driven away, but a very large portion indeed of the
old High Church party would have been forced out also. A
good many of both would have been driven to Rome, a good
many more would have sunk into mere liberalism. Nevertheless,
even Mr. Hopkins did not intend to force the radicals into
a schism, and his optimistic spirit refused to recognize that some
of them were so exasperated that nothing else would satisfy them
but a Church of their own. Up to the very last, and for some
time after the deposition of Dr. Cheney in 187 1, he did not see,
what was perfectly plain to almost every one else, that there
would be a schism. Probably, too, one great reason for the at-
tempts made in 1868 and 1871 to legislate on ritual and ceremonial
matters, was that the great body of the Church wished to avert
the imminent event. That would account very largely for the
sacrifice made of Drs. Seymour and De Koven. It did keep
down to virtual insignificance the members of those drawn after
Bishop Cummins and Dr. Cheney, and their associates.

In the Church Journal, and in many pamphlets, letters, and
review articles, Mr. Hopkins contended for the development of
the full power of the Church. Of course he took strong " High
Church " ground, because in his contention for the right of the
Church to exhibit its own life, there was no other ground to take.
But he was a churchman, and it was characteristic of him to
allow to every other man the liberty he claimed for himself.
Accordingly, he again and again protested for those rights.
And he was never a mere partisan.

Another thing should be considered, and that is, the way in

i868.J Life of John Henry Hopkins. 83

which he distinguished between persons and their acts. So far as
can be learnt, even in the case of one controversy where he
dealt a crushing and completely overwhelming blow, he could
never be made to believe that he was not forgiven for it ; al-
though he realized it at the last when the one who for years had
dogged his footsteps, never losing the least chance to assail,
whether openly or in secret by insinuation and innuendo, at last
(aided by cowards) delivered the stroke that well-nigh broke his
stout heart, he never bore any malice nor could understand that
any other could do so.

This habit of identifying an opponent personally with his
cause seems to be a weakness of the clerical mind. Lawyers and
statesmen understand the distinction, priests hardly ever do.

There were four united on the editorial staff of the Church
fournal. In their editorial capacity all stood on an equality,
though necessarily the greater part of the labor fell to the share of
the one who made it his chief business. These associates of Mr.
Hopkins were Rev. Drs. Howland, Hobart, and Milo Mahan.
This connection lasted till the outbreak of the Civil War.

Of all the men who influenced John Henry Hopkins, Dr.
Mahan took by far the most important place. They were men
of just enough likeness and difference to make that rare com-
bination, perfect friendship. Dr. Mahan was not so versatile
as Hopkins, nor so bright and keen and combative ; but his
mind was deeper, and there can hardly be any question that it
was owing to Mahan 's influence upon Hopkins that the latter
was led so quickly into seeing something better, truer, and richer
than a realization of even the standard of the English Reformation.
Dr. Hopkins cherished a very deep affection for his friend and
colleague, and after his death edited all his works, in three vol-
umes, prefixing to the last volume a memoir. He always spoke
of him with the utmost admiration, and reckoned him as the
very greatest clergyman, whether priest or bishop, that the
American Church had produced.

For some years after the fournal was founded there were no
great trials to the Church. The strain upon its fabric, after the
Gorham case, was lessened, men recovered from their panic, and
the quiet upbuilding of the Temple went on. There was, to be
sure, some pressure from the evangelicals, and some little trouble
from the founding of their volunteer societies.

There were sneers at " ecclesiologists," and bitter denuncia-
tions of very mild changes from the old order as popery, and

84 A Champion of the Cross. [1868.

the innovation of " preaching in a surplice" was pronounced to
be a proof of the real purpose of the ' ' conspirators against the
peace of the Church." Great revivals swept over the land, and
the evangelical clergymen lost their footing in the rush. But
their prayer-meetings and fraternizations with the denominations
affected the laity but little. They had, many of them, been
through those experiences before, and wanted none of it repeated
in Church. Of those clergymen, Bishop Alonzo Potter in 1854
wrote : "I must confess to some vexation and impatience, when
I see the golden opportunity for the growth of a truly catholic
and evangelical churchmanship endangered by men whose mis-
sion in this world seems to be to find fault with the ecclesiastical
lot which they inherit from their fathers, or to set their brethren
by the ears. Our laymen, as a general rule, will have church-
manship. They want that of a generous tolerant type ; tolerant
toward those within as well as those without. If they can't get
it, many of them will take the churchmanship and let the
toleration go ; and our friends will find themselves where hitherto
they always have been, in a minority, which deprives them of
the power of directing the legislation or policy of the Church."

But on the whole, the Church movement went on without any
serious check, and about as fast as was wholesome.

The course of the Journal was to advocate everything that
would make strength felt, to concentrate and not to scatter, and
to render every organ of the body more efficient. This is il-
lustrated by the words of Bishop Seymour : " On my ordination
I was sent by my bishop in 1854 to Annandale, where in the
good providence of God I was enabled to found and build up,
with a fair prospect of success which has since been achieved,
St. Stephen's College, a training school for the sacred ministry.
Among those who helped me with sympathy and counsel, after
I leave the Bishop of New York, Dr. McVickar, and Mr. John
Bard, the first munificent donor of land and money, I must rank
next in order Rev. John Henry Hopkins." Its whole plan was
constructive ; but in order to this it had to wake up the Church,
and it did not mince its words, or take a roundabout way. It
knew the value of agitation, and when once a matter was started
it was not dropped for good as long as there seemed any chance
to make anything out of it.

Dr. Hopkins always maintained that the Anglican Church, by
insisting so strongly that its clergy should be "gentlemen and
scholars," had lost its touch with the great mass of the people.

i868.j Life of Jo Jin Henry Hopkins. 85

The revival of the diaconate was advocated by him as a means
of remedying this defect, for defect it is. A new canon, allow-
ing the ordination of deacons who had not certain qualifications,
was adopted in 1853, and for some time he argued for the full
use of the canon. To all intents and purposes the canon is a
failure, and only offers a short cut to the priesthood. But his
arguments are still valid, and accordingly some of them are here-
in set down.

" We would have the diaconate and the priesthood stand
each on its own bottom. The diaconate, as being more diffusive,
miscellaneous, practical, necessarily requires more of ' quantity '
and less of ' quality ' than the priesthood. The priesthood, on
the other hand, as being more concentrate, more purely sacer-
dotal and prophetic, looks more to the quality of its incumbents.
One hand can find employment for five fingers. We should
deem it a poor parish, very ill provided with ' young, sick, poor,
and impotent people ' in which one active priest could not carve
out work for at least five such deacons as are contemplated by the

" The requirement that deacons should be of like 'quality'
with priests tends practically to annihilate the diaconate.

" . . . The most formidable difficulty in the way of the
practical efficiency of the canon is the question how far it ex-
poses us to the danger of lowering the style and standard of
ministerial qualifications. It may unquestionably tend to lower
the standard of /earning as a qualification for the lowest order of
the ministry. The call to preach the Gospel — we speak of
course of the ' inward call ' — -goes forth as of old among the
many. This being the case, it is manifestly the duty of the
Church to provide some way in which those having such a call
may be enabled to obey it without violating Church order. An
unlearned ministry is, and ever has been, a great power in the
world. It is certain that it is useless to forbid such a ministry.
In some form or other it will exist in the world.

" If it exists not for us, it will surely exist against us. What we
admire in ' the Ordering of Deacons ' is, that the solemn office so
clearly defines the limits within which such a ministry may be
safely and usefully permitted. It does not follow that there
would be any lowering of intellectual qualifications. The fruit
of all education is found in good sense, and the ability to use
readily and discreetly such talents as God has given. A man

86 A Champion of the Cross. [1868.

may have all these and not know a word of Latin, Greek, or

" As to the second order of the ministry, there need be no low-
ering of its style and qualifications if only the bishops, standing
committees, and others in authority are willing to do their

" The door of the priesthood is guarded by a canon requiring
not only good sense but a particular kind of learning. We
see no reason why the canon should make examiners less strict
than they have been hitherto. . . . Besides all this, nothing
tends more to the preservation of learning than a proper division
of labor. To be a learned man one must give himself mainly to
study. How impossible this is in our present system is pretty
generally understood and admitted. A few thorough scholars in
the Church will do more to create a high style of scholarship
than a slight tincture of learning equally distributed among all.
Our present evil is that everything tends to an average of
mediocrity. We have no unlearned ministers. We have none,
on the other hand, thoroughly learned. . . . Give us, if
possible, educated men ; but if educated men are not to be had,
let us have at all events men of zeal and piety and natural ability.
With an abundance of these, with strict examinations, we should
hope to see learning among our clergy of a higher style and
standing than a sparse and overworked ministry can possibly
attain. There will be found in almost every congregation one or
more earnest, devout, zealous men whose free labors have been
given for years to Sunday-school teaching, visiting, and other
duties properly belonging to the diaconate, and who if called by
the voice of authority would at once obey the call, though they
might never think of offering themselves. Our bishops have
much more power in this matter than they dream of. We
believe that the grace of Holy Orders will be given most fully to
such men. They are already to some extent doing deacon's
work : then give them the deacon's commission. When the
deacon's work is again done by a deacon we believe we shall be
justified in expecting more of God's blessing upon it than now
when it is done by laymen, or women, or not done at all. In
such men the grace of Holy Orders will strengthen and heighten
every other grace which they already possess. What is now a
voluntary service will then become a solemn duty. What is now
zeal toward men will then become a responsibility in the sight
of God. What is now the benevolence of human kindness will

1 868.] Life of John Henry Hopkins. 87

then be heightened and ennobled by the stamp of divine au-

The latter part of the quotation is a sufficient argument,
although it by no means comes up to all that is said on the
point, to overcome the theory often heard in these latter days
that laymen! s work is better for the Church than clergymen's
work. Now, as when Hopkins wrote the words, there are no
deacons : deacons are but inchoate priests.

He thus continues as to another point : " Many of the laity
are now engaged in doing some of the proper and most special
w r ork of the diaconate. And if it were not out of character in
an apostle to make his living with his own hands rather than be
burdensome to some whose faith was yet weak, much more may
our deacons support themselves by similar honest callings until
the faith and zeal of the Church shall be sufficient to support
them in the devotion of their whole life to her service ; a time
not likely to come immediately, for it is hard work as yet to
keep the priests from starving. That feeling of the sac redness of
the diaconate is certainly overstrained which practically forbids
the existence of the order amongst us at all. No order of the
ministry was so sacred but that it was meant to be used rather
than to be left alone. Others have so exalted an idea of the dig-
nity of the ministry that they fear lest this may suffer. This is a
mistake, for by giving reality to the diaconate as a distinct or-
der, the priesthood, now practically the lowest order in the min-
istry, will be raised by having a whole order laboring in manifest
subordination to it. And as to deacons themselves, their truest
dignity is to do deacon' 's work."

The tenth part of the argument is not quoted here, because
the old tradition still masters the field. It is set down, because
the making real of deacon's work was one of Dr. Hopkins'
ideas, which he never changed ; and as to his references to a
/earned ministry, the very last article he ever wrote, on his
death-bed, has these following words :

" All the honest learning that can be acquired can be made
useful in the ministry. The true question here is, how much
learning ought to be required of every man before he is suffered
to exercise any part of the ministry of the Word ?

" The Anglican tradition is that every clergyman should be ' a
gentleman and a scholar.' . . . Is it not possible that we

88 A Champion of the Cross. [1868.

have carried this thing just a little too far ? Let us look at the
fruits of the system in a large way. How has it been in other
countries ? We answer fearlessly that wherever the bulk of the
priesthood has been taken from the bulk of the population, so
that social sympathy has not been severed, that the Church has
retained her hold upon the bulk of the population, no matter
what drawbacks may have existed in any direction whatever.
There may have been evils of other sorts — ignorance, supersti-
tion, or even immorality — but no other religious organization,
on any pretext, has ever been able to get the bulk of the common
people out of the hands of the clergy of the Church.

" But how has it been in England? There, every schismat-
lcal movement, without exception, has been mainly on a lower
social level than the bulk of the National Church. And what is
the chief reason of this but the feeling that the clergy were too
much ' scholars and gentlemen ' to have real sympathy with the
common people. And the common people do not like to be
patronized by those who feel themselves above them. They are
ten times as likely to crowd after those who, as they understand
it, do not set up to be better than themselves.

" . . . How did the Methodists arise and rapidly become
so powerful ? Simply because they struck mainly into that
stratum of the population which felt (rightly or wrongly) that
they had not the sympathy of a ministry who all claimed to be
' scholars and gentlemen ! ' True enough, John Wesley and his
brother Charles, and some few others of his chief helpers, were
scholars and gentlemen ; but what shall we say of the great body
of preachers who were gathered about them, and by whom, after
all, the chief part of the actual work was done ? They were of
the common people. They were not ' scholars.' They were not
' gentlemen.' They did not pretend to be. Hardly any one of
them could have stood an examination for deacon's orders. They
did not always talk even grammatical English ; but their hearts
were on fire with zeal. They had a very respectable familiarity
with their English Bibles. They threw themselves into the work
with all their hearts and souls. They knew how to influence
men — careless, hardened, godless men. They did a wonderful
work. And if the laws of the Church of England had been as
free as those of the primitive Church, they, or most of them,
might have been in Orders in the Church, and there would have
been no schism at all.

" And to come down to our own times, how are we to account

1 868.] Life of John Henry Hopkins. 89

for the wonderful and strange work of the Salvation Army ? It
is simply the same old story over again. That army draws its
officers and its rank and file from those classes which feel that
they have no practical sympathy with a Church whose priests are
all ' scholars and gentlemen.' Practical, social sympathy is a
far more effective weapon among vast masses of men and women
than a university degree or the manners of polite and refined so-
ciety ; and in the work of propagating the Gospel among man-
kind at large, nothing can make up for the want of it. The
Church must have a priesthood in practical sympathy with all
classes, if she is to do her work among all classes. And as this
cannot be done by bringing up all priests to the same social
level, the Church must make up her mind to have priests in so-
cial sympathy with the different levels among which she is to do
her work.

" Some say that the Methodists themselves are aware of their
lack of education, and that they have been trying to make up
for it, and that there are now among them some men of very re-
spectable learning. All very true. And in proportion as they
succeed in this, they are losing precisely that singular force
among the common people which was the fountain of their orig-
inal strength. They are imitating us, and with unhappy luck
are imitating our weak points instead of our strong ones. The
noblest and holiest revenge we can take will be to learn from
them the secret of their original strength.

" Again, it may be objected that all these movements have been
on unchurchly lines, and have run into schisms. Certainly.
And what does the Lord permit schisms for, except that they
may teach His Church, when she will not learn in any other
way, what particular part of her own work she has neglected or
has performed wrongly. The Church, therefore, has something
practically to learn from every sect or schism. And the Church
in learning from the sect should be careful to ascertain precisely
that one point which originally gave it vitality.

" The great body of the common people will never be reached
by any other way than by opening the doors of the ministry
wider and wider to that class socially and intellectually which
gave to Methodism its earlier and more astonishing successes;
only those ministers must be Churchmen and not Methodists.

" But to carry out this great change effectively, other changes
also are needed. The bishop, with such a varied ministry, must
be clothed with much more of vigorous and personal adminis-

90 A Champion of the Cross. [186S.

trative power. It will not do to leave everything to be regulated
solely by written canons. And if the bishops are to have this
additional work put upon them two other changes are equally
necessary. One is, that dioceses must be made smaller, so that
the work can be handled by one man, and the mere multiplica-
tion of archdeacons and such like will not do. The other is
that provinces must be formed. ... In all this we should
simply be returning to the plain and universal practice of the
primitive Church."

John Henry Hopkins was brought up in a very torrent of en-
thusiasm for the Church — the Catholic Church. There were no
hidings in the earth of her life-giving current to his eyes. And
he saw with hopefulness for single souls, and deep love for
God, that she had the promise of all the workings of the Holy
Spirit with His love, His illuminative teaching, and His liberty.
He saw that while men might reach single men, that more by
far was needed than that. The Church is not a mere assembly
of men of like faith and hope and love, but Christ makes the
Church ; and so Hopkins saw her as the Bride adorned for her
Spouse with His own gifts ; the new Jerusalem, coming down —
the joy of the whole earth revealed from Heaven. It was not
enough to create ; men must also be kept. Yet the all-glorious,
the spotless Church, was not here, but to be hereafter when the
chaff had been winnowed from the threshing-floor.

He saw failures in the showing forth of the divine life ; great
practical corruptions in the Roman Church ; equally harmful
conservatism in the Anglican of post-reformation ideas. If
the Roman corruptions poisoned the stream, the Anglican cor-
ruptions restrained it too narrowly, and one worked as much
harm as the other. Anglican tradition was keeping things which,
in view of far greater and more precious things kept out by it,
were not worth keeping. Hopkins in setting about to work
practical reforms in the Church had to suffer ; and he deliber-
ately chose a track, because he loved the Church, which cut
across the way of her teaching at the time ; whereas, by his
powers, his talents, and goodness and zeal, if he had chosen,
without a particle of self-seeking, he might have had any office in
her gift.

Men called him a dreamer, a doctrinaire. No words were
ever more inappropriately applied to man. Plenty of men before
him, and men enough in his own times, taught very much the

iS6S.] Life of Jo Jin Henry Hopkins. 91

same things. It was because he tried to put his ideas to practice
that men suspected, or feared, or hated him. Bishop White was
the first American churchman to see that provinces must sooner
or later be formed here ; others saw it after him; but Hopkins
showed the way practically to set them up, and that was too
much for hide-bound conservatism.

Other Church agitators before him had been content to work in
a narrow track, or by themselves; they attacked weak points.
Hopkins was as fearless as he was lucid in expression. A strong
point was no more dreaded by him, if he thought he ought to
speak out, than a weak one. He even dared to point his spear
at Trinity Church herself, and challenged her to a battle a ou-
tran ce.^- He pleaded again and again for fairness in the distribu-
tion of offices in the gift of the New York Convention. In those
early days there was " a regency " of High Churchmen in the di-
ocese of New York, and what was done was done by their direc-
tion, or concession. Low Churchmen in those days of bitterness
had little chance of gaining power. Yet here Hopkins asked for
fair dealing, asserting rightly that power would bring with it the
sense of responsibility, and allay strife, and thus promote better

No man in the Church has ever advocated so constantly, so

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 9 of 42)