Henry Phillpotts.

A sermon preached by Henry Lord Bishop of Exeter : at a general ordination holden in the Cathedral Church of Exeter, on Sunday, September 24, 1843 (Volume Talbot online

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Online LibraryHenry PhillpottsA sermon preached by Henry Lord Bishop of Exeter : at a general ordination holden in the Cathedral Church of Exeter, on Sunday, September 24, 1843 (Volume Talbot → online text (page 1 of 4)
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I perceive, that the citation in p. 15, made by mistake
as from Hooker, is, in truth, from Isaac Barrow, ii. 04;
where also is what follows : — " Faith is nothing else but a
hearty embracing Christianity, which first exerteth itself by
open declaration in Baptism (when we believe with our
hearts to righteousness, and confess with our mouths to
salvation, Rom. x. 10); to that time, therefore, the act of
justification may be supposed especially to appertain : (then,
when the Evangelical covenant is solemnly ratified, the
grace thereof especially is conferred). Upon such con-
siderations, I conceive that PanPs Justification chiejlij doth
respect that act of Grace which God consigneih to us at
our Baptism.^^

Hooker's doctrine, though not equally express, is agree-
able herewith. In his " Discourse of Justification," s. 6,
he thus writes : " Christ hath merited Righteousness for as
many as are found in him. In him God findeth us, if we
be faithful ; for by Faith ice are incorporated into Christ.
Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and
unrighteous, yet even the man which is impious in himself,
full of iniquity, full of sin; him, being found in Christ
through Faith, and havimj his sin remitted throiujli repent-
ance^' (the two requisites for Baptism) ; " him God be-
lioldeth with a gracious eye, puttcth awai/ his sin by not
imputiwj it ; taketh quite away tJw punishment due t/iere-
untn hi/ pardoning if, and acceptcth liim in Jesus Christ, as
perfectly righteous, as if he had fufilled all that was com-
manded him in the law."

If there could be any doubt, whether this refers to Faith
in Baptism, that doubt would be removed by reference to
this same writer's words, in another work, Ecc. Pol. ii. s. 60,
where we thus read " Baptism is a Sacrament, which God

has instituted in his Church, to the end, that they which
receive the same might thereby he incorporated itito
Christ ; and so, through his most precious merit, obtain,
as well that saving Grace of Imputation, which taketh
away all former guiltiness, as also that infused virtue of
the Holy Ghost, which giveth to the powers of the soul
their first disposition towards future newness of life."
" When the Apostle saw men called to the participation of
Jesus Christ, after the Gospel of God embraced and the
Sacrament of Life received, he feared not then to put them
in the number of elect Saints (Eph. i. 1), he then account-
eth them delivered from death, and clean purged from all
sin (Eph. V. 8)."


In page 1, line 14, dele " as."

In page 25, line 17, before " the Clergy," insert " us."


This Sermon has received considerable adcUtions,
since it was delivered, in order that it might serve
more effectually the purpose for which it is intended,
— to assist the younger Clergy in dealing with the
subjects, which it treats.

Having seen a statement of certain words, respect-
ing Extempore PreacJdng, as delivered by me in my
private Charge to the Candidates for Holy Orders at
my late Ordination, I must express my deep concern
that any one of those Candidates should have deemed
it consistent with due regard to the solemnity of the
occasion, and to the nature of the communication
which was then passing between his Bishop and him-
self, as to report any part of it for publication in a

The report itself was grievously incorrect. It both
ascribes to me words which I did not use, and omits
all reference to the qualifications with which I ac-
companied my general advice to avoid the practice of
Extempore Preaching.

Although in these days, when newspapers are made
the repositories of all sorts of opinions on the most
sacred subjects, even on the highest mysteries of our
Holy Religion, it cannot be expected that editors
should refuse to publish, yet it surely is not too much
to hope, that clergymen will forbear to report what
may pass between their Bishop and themselves, on
such an occasion as that to which I have referred.

A S E 11 M N,

8^c. Sfc.

St. Matthew x. 16.
" Be ye, therefore, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

These words are part of the charge delivered by our Lord
himself to his twelve chosen disciples, when he sent them
forth, in his lifetime, to " preach, saying. The kingdom of
Heaven is at hand ;" and this commission extended beyond
the brief period of its first imperfect exercise, even to the
whole term of the Ministry of the Apostles, as is apparent
from many of the directions then given to them by our
Lord, — directions which would not have any scojjc or place
until the great work of Redemption should have been
accomplished, and they were to " go into all the w orld
and preach the Gospel to every creature."

That the Apostles, in all their ministry, were sus-
tained by supernatural aids; that Christ was present with
them in all their journeyings and labours; that His Holy
Spirit bore witness to the truth of all they taught "with
signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts;"*
— that their " i)reaclnng was not with enticing words of
man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of
Power ; that the faith" which they inculcated *' !^hould not
stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God ;"t
— all this is too notorious to need to be insisted on. Why,
then, do I now refer to it ? For the ])urpose of marking
the more strongly the force of our Lord's caution which I
have just read to you.

* Heb. ii. 4. \ I Cor. ii. 4, 5.


If even they, to whom the inspiration of God and power
of the Spirit were thus largely given, had yet need of the
*' wisdom of the serpent," to make their ministry as efifectual
as God's mercy designed it to be, how incalculably more
necessary must the same wisdom be to us, who have no
supernatural powers to enforce our preaching — no " mani-
festation of the Spirit* given", to us — however sure may
be the secret efficacy derived to the faithful steward of
God's Word from Him, who hath promised to be with his
ministers " alway even to the end of the world !"

Be this, then, the subject of our present meditation — the
necessity of the utmost exercise of Christian prudence to
the Christian minister. I say, of Christian prudence, for
such qualification is manifestly implied in the latter part of
the text, " harmless as doves." The wordt rendered
" harmless," might, perhaps, be more accurately rendered
" sincere, uncontaminated." But, whichever word be taken,
the meaning is clear. The' prudence, the caution, the wari-
ness of the Christian minister, must yet be simple, single-
minded, free from all admixture of deceit and guile. " Pious
frauds," as they are called, make no part of that wisdom
which is to direct our paths. If we " do evil that good may
come," we dishonour God's cause, and our " damnation is
just "J

There is another restriction, too, of the " wisdom of the
serpent," when exerted by the Christian minister. His
wariness, his caution, must not have self for its object, or,
at least, not for its ultimate object. Our prudence must
look to the success of the holy cause, in which we are
enirnged, as its single aim. Remember the word of Solomon,
" Hi that irinneth sovls is wise."§ Here is the man of
God's only worthy object ; — his highest ambition (and it is
the highest ambition that man or angel can have), is to
" win souls" to the service of God.

To win souls ! my young friends — you who are just en-

* 1 Cor. xii. 7. t uyA^aioh

X Rom. iii. 8. § Prov. xi. 30.

tering, by God's grace, on that holy course, which has been
trodden with various success by so many before you — medi-
tate, I beseech you, for one instant, on tlie great and
glorious privilege, which is held forth to you in thoi-e few
brief words. To ** win souls," is the occupation to which
you are called. What is it, to" win souls ?" It is, to work
with God and for God. It is, to labour after your measure,
aye, and beyond your measure — (for the Holy Spirit will
labour with you) — in that blessed work, which drew down
the Son of God from the bosom of His Heavenly Father,
and was deemed even by Him the fit and adequate end of
all His sufferings and all His humiliation. He *' came to
seek and to save that which was lost."

To win souls! Estimate, if you can, the value of such
an object. One single soul is worth more than all the
wealth, and power, and greatness, which all the kingdoms
of the world can boast. Souls! immortal souls! In tliat
word " immortal" is comprised the proof of what I say.
The value of one single immortal being must be felt by all
who permit themselves to feel or think on such a subject, to
be infinitely — aye, infinitely, greater — for it knows no limit
— than of all created things that shall have an end.

But if such be the worth of one soul, what is the dignity,
and what the danger, too, of that charge, to which the care
of hundreds, or it may be thousands, of souls, is confided
The thought would be overwhelming, if we undertook it in
our own strength, and had to rely only on our own wisdom.
But He, whose servants we are, hath told us in His Apostle,
that *' His grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is
made perfect in weakness"* — that " the foolishness of God
is wiser than menf" — and " of him are ye in Christ Jesus,
who of God is made unto us wisdom, as well as righteous-
ness, and sanctification, and redemption."]:

If, then. He is " made unto us wisdom," how are you to
become partakers of that wisdom ? St. James tells you the
short, the certain way — " If any of you lack wisdom, let

* 2 Cor. xii. 9. f 1 Cor. i. 9. XI Cor. i. 30.


him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally."* This
IS the only, but, thank God, it is the sure, method by which
we can attain that measure of wisdom, which is necessary
for us — prayer J humble, fervent, patient, confiding, prayer.

But, then, it is not enough fur us to pray for wisdom,
unless we strive to use the precious gift according to the
will of Him who gives it; — nor must we think, that He will
give it in ways which are inconsistent with his other^ his
natural^ gifts, as we are wont to regard them. While we
pray to God, and rely on Him to give us that wisdom, of
which we feel the lack, we must exert our own utmost dis-
cretion. Tiiis was St. Paul's rule, who preached Christ,
" warning and teaching eveiy man in all wisdom. "f He
" walked in wisdom toward them that were without," and
not less toward them that were within. He tells us of him-
self, that He "was made all things to all men, that he might
by all means save some."|

Now, in like manner, it is the duty of Christian ministers
at all times — and not least, certainly, at the present — to
exert their utmost discretion and prudence both in avoiding
unnecessary occasions of offence, and in recommending the
truths they preach to the favour of their hearers. §

* James i. 5.

I Col. i. 28.

+ Gor. ix. 22.

§ While these sheets are passing through the press, two works
have reached me, from one of which, ** The Charge of the Bishop of
Lincoln," delivered during the last summer, I may be permitted to
enrich these pages with a short extract. It speaks my own mind,
in terms which I gladly commend to the respectful attention of those
to whom this Sermon was particularly addressed, and to all others
whom it may reach.

" My object in drawing your attention to the moderation of the
Anglican Reformers, is, not to pay a tribute to their memory, but to
hold up their example to your imitation. We are told that we are
on the eve of a great religious crisis ; that a religious ferment
exists in the public mind, such as has not existed since the Reforma-
tion ; that all that our Reformers did, is to be undone ; and that
England is speedily to be unprotestantized. If the fact be so (and
we know thdt some are labouring unceasingly to effect this consum-

We have fallen on times, in which, from causes which it
is not necessary, even if it were becoming the place from
which I address you, to recount, there is a twofold danger,

mation) it becomes, my reverend brethren, the more incumbent upon
us, earnestly to pray that we may be endued with the spirit of the
Reformers; that we may be enabled to imitate their moderation;
and to emancipate ourselves, as completely as they did, from the
dominion of passion, of prejudice, of an excessive desire or an un-
reasonable dread of change. Their example may be made a subject
of profitable study by us all ; but more especially would I commend
it to the attentive consideration of the younger portion of my reve-
rend brethren. Yehemence and confidence are the characteristics
of youth — it is sanguine; it sees no difficulties; it is reckless of
consequences ; it readily adopts new theories, particularly if they
address themselves to the imagination and the affections ; having
adopted them, it is impatient of opposition, — unwilling to review its
own decisions, to listen to the arguments which may be urged on
the other side ; the very warmth and sincerity of its feelings hurry
it into extremes, and often betray it into acts which afterwards be-
come the subject of deep and unavailing regret. Most earnestly,
therefore, do I entreat the younger portion of the clergy of this dio-
cese, before they take a part in the questions which now unhappily
disturb the peace of the Church, to consult with some of their elder
brethren; in whose longer experience, more matured judgment, and
more extensive reading, they may find a salutary check to their im-
petuosity — a corrective of their own crude opinions and hasty conclu-
sions — a preservative from error."

The other work is, *• A Narrative of Events connected with the
Publication of the Tracts for the Times, by Rev. W. Palmer. M.A.,
of "Worcester College, Oxford." Of this work I am desirous of
saying to my clergy, that I deem it a most useful exposition of mat-
ters connected with an important epoch in the history of our Church
— a calm, a sound, a manly jirotcstation against grave errors in
doctrine and excesses in conduct, on the part of those with whom
the author was at one time associated. This protestation is mode-
rated, but not emasculated, by the kindest and most friendly feclinga(.
towards the party which he has been compelled to abandon. The
instruction contained in this little work, — the principles which it
eixforces, — the warnings which it holds forth — entitle it to the spe-
cial attention of thosejof the younger clergy whose generous and
unsuspecting eagerness to do justice both to unpopular truths and
to those who have laboured in reviving them, is too liable to be
misled into the adoption of extreme opinions, not always much less
unsound, or much less mischievous, than those to which they are


on opposite sides, which beset the path of ministerial duty.
On the one hand, there is a longing, on the part of many,
for a return to ancient usages and ceremonial observances,
which, however venerable for their antiquity, valuable for
their significance, and edifying when properly understood^
are yet regarded by a large portion of the people as little
better than the remnants of Popish superstition ; and the
revival of them is, therefore, resisted with warmth, often,
it may be, disproportioned to the occasion, but indicating a
jealousy for the purity of the Reformed Faith, which it is
the part of Christian discretion to respect and honour.
The "wise" minister will, therefore, see it to be his duty
rather to relinquish objects which he may, perhaps, justly
deem desirable, than to shock the prejudices, or awaken the
suspicions, of those whose confidence he cannot lose, with-
out endan^erins; the success of all his labours.

On the other hand, there is often a busy spirit of inter-
ference at work among the people, seeking to control the
minister in matters of official duty ; demanding concession to
their humours in things not indifferent, because prescribed
by lawful authority ; dictating sometimes even the tone of
doctrine to be preached, and usurping the power of super-
intending him, whom they ought to regard as " over them
in the Lord."*

Now, in cases of this kind, the general line prescribed
by Christian prudence is simple and evident. The minister
must resist the intrusion temperately, but firmly; yet he
must, if it be possible, make it manifest, that his resistance
is not the result of personal feeling, however reasonably
excited, but of a sense of duty to God, and even to the in-
truders themselves. He will " magnify his office, "t with
all meekness indeed, and humility, as regards himself; but
with all faithfulness to Him who has called him to it.
He will not be afraid of bearing testimony, if necessary, to
the sinfulness of such usurpation on the rights and duties
of his ministry ; but he will strive to make this sinfulness

* 1 Thess. y. 12. t Roni- ^i- l'^-

be discovered, and felt, by those who have ofifeiided, rather
than himself reproach them with it.

In his preaching, he will take care to set forth the truth
in its just proportion, even on those points on which they
may wish to urge him to an undue extreme. Let me
illustrate my meaning in one particular of not uncommon

I. One of the most ordinary objects of popular religious
clamour, at the present day, is Justification by Faith only
Now, the '' wise" preacher will proclaim his adherence
to this great, and, if properly understood, fundamental
principle of our reformed Church, without qualification,
and without reserve ; but while he does this, he will, at
the same time, fully set forth, what that principle really is ;
stating it in conformity to Holy Scripture, and to the for-
mularies of our Church ; and confirming his views, if
necessary, by the doctrine of our early Refoi mers.

He will tell his people, that to be justified, according
to the plain words of St. Paul, is to have rightcousnet^s
imputed to us by God; it is not to be, but to be accounted
righteous. And here is the great distinction between our
doctrine and that of Rome. That Church holds, that the
just are not only accounted^ Ijut are, righteous ; that they
are justified by a righteousness within them, a righteous-
ness which comes to them, indeed, by the gift of God,
and for the merits of our Saviour Christ, but which, never-
theless, is, by God's grace, their own. In other words, they
" trust in themselves that they are righteous."*

Now, it cannot be necessary to remind you, tiiat our
Church holds, that the righteousness, by which we are
justified, that which makes us to be accounted righteous,
is not our own, but Christ's ; that it is not properly ours,
in any sense ; that it is through our being made one iit'h
Christy and so acquiring a title to his righteousness, that we
are accounted righteous by God, and treated by Him ac-
cordingly. But how are we made one with Christ ? By

* Luke xriii. 9.


being made " members of his body." And how are we
made members of his body ? By Baptism. " For by one
spirit are we all baptized into one body,"* as St. Paul tells
the Corinthians ; and he presently adds, *' Ye are the bodv
of Christ, and members in particular."'!'

That our union with Christ is, indeed, wrought in
Baptism, the Apostle elsewhere teaches by a somewhat
different, but accordant, phrase. " For," says he to the
Galatians, " as many of you as have been baptized into
Christ, have put on Christ. "|

But if it be by Baptism, that we are made one with
Christ, and so have a title to partake of his righteousness,
how is it that our justification is hy Faith only ? Because
Faith is the condition required by God, and by Him ac-
cepted, to make us capable of the blessings conferred in
Baptism. §

For thus connecting Justification by Faith with Baptism »
we have testimonies in Holy Scripture too numerous to
recount. Let me remind you of a few.

In the passage which I have just recited from the Epistle
to the Galatians, this connexion is plainly stated. " The
law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we
might h^ justified hy Faith. But after that Faith is come,
we are no lons:er under a schoolmaster. For ve are the
children of God by faith in Christ Jesus ;"|1 and then he
immediately adds, " For as many of you as have been
baptized into Chnat, have put on Christ;" and so the end,
just before mentioned, " that we might be justified by
Faith," is attained in Baptism.

Again, to the Corinthians, " Know ye not, that the un-
righteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ?" — " And
such were some of you, but ye are washed, but 5'e are sanc-
tified, but ye are justified, (rather " Ye have been washed,

* 1 Cor. xii. 13. f 1 Cor. xii. 27.

+ Gal. iii. 27. § Barrow, Doctrine of the Sacraments, 521.

11 Gal. iii. 24—27.


ye have been sanctified, ye have been justified")* in the
name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."t

Nay, even in the Epistle to the Romans, in which Justi-
fication is so repeatedly ascribed to Faith, this justifying
Faith is manifestly that Faith which is professed in
Baptism. In the third Chapter, after saying that " by the
deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his
sight," and that " now the righteousness of God without the
law is manifested — even the righteousness of God which is
by Faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that
believe ; for all have sinned and come short of the glory
of God;" St. Paul adds, " Being justified freely by his
grace through the redemption, that is in Jesus Christ. "+
I say, that this justifying Faith is the Faith professed in
Baptism : for the very same truth is expressed by the same
A})ostle, in almost the very same words, in his Epistle, to
Titus, but with this remarkable addition, that in the latter
passage he states that in Baptism this justification, or sal-
vation, is conferred. " Not by works of righteousness which
we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by
the U'a.

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Online LibraryHenry PhillpottsA sermon preached by Henry Lord Bishop of Exeter : at a general ordination holden in the Cathedral Church of Exeter, on Sunday, September 24, 1843 (Volume Talbot → online text (page 1 of 4)