James DeKoven.

A theological defence for the Rev. James De Koven to the Council held at Milwaukee, February 11th and 12th, 1874 online

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A Theological Defence.

04 A4








The Council held at Milwaukee,

FEBRUARY llth and 12th, 1874.



In Preface p. 2, for "civiley" read "civilly."

P. 2 4,. for "Gorgoria" read "Gorgonia."

In Appendix p. 46, for "Alexader" read "Alexander."

P. 48 for "interrogaries" read "interrogatories."

P. 50 for "person" read "personal."

P. 52 for "p. 90" read "pp. 89 and 90."

P. 57 for "that" read "what."

P. 62 for prayer of Ignatius Loyola read:

Anima Christi Sanctiiica UK -
Corpus Christi Salva me
Sanguis Christi. inebria me
Aqua l.ateris Christi lava me
Passiu Christi conforta me
O bone Jesu exaudi me
Intra tua vulnera abscuniie me, &c.

P. 63 for "/w" read "borne.'"


The substance of the following defence was spoken to the
Council held in Milwaukee, February nth and i2th. I have
omitted some few personal allusions that I might, so far as I
could, wound the feelings of no one, and I have added certain
things, which either haste, or excitement, or the exigencies of
the occasion compelled me to omit, and have besides endeavoured
to make the defence as full and complete as I could, without
writing a theological treatise.

I am sure I may be pardoned for this, when I state that since
the General Convention of 1871, with the exception of a corres-
pondence between myself and the Rev. Dr. Craik of Kentucky,
a brief correspondence published in the *Appendix to this De-
fence, and a note correcting a mistake in a matter of fact of
the Rev. Dr. Andrews of Virginia ; this is the only time I have
ever published a word in my own defence.

My reasons for making my defence before the Council and
for publishing it now are as follows :

a. Immediately after the General Convention of 1871 I
was attacked in newspapers and elsewhere as an Idolater, and as
one disloyal to the church.

b. At the Massachusetts Convention I was similarly at-

c. Since then by a series of misleading hints and dexter-
ous misrepresentations in the Church Journal, I have been made
to appear as the leader of a party in the church, and responsible for
doctrines and views I do not hold, or upon which my judge-
ment has never been expressed.

See Appendix i.

d. Churchmen of Massachusetts, some of them men vener-
able in years, and eminent for holiness of life and Christian la-
bours, who, when one far better fitted than myself for the office
of Bishop could not be nominated by them, did me the honour
to give me their votes ; have been also represented as mere par-
tisans, the more to injure me.

e. The attacks in the Church Journal were followed up by
repeated attacks in secular papers in Chicago and in Milwaukee.

f. Subjected in common with many of my brethren, clerical
and lay, Dr. Kemper being of the number, to an interview
with a reporter ; and the last one waited on by him; I thought
the best way, to meet what has come to be regarded as
a licensed intrusion, was to answer as civiley and simply
as I could. Stating, what I believe my defence has proved to be
true, that the contest in this Diocese was not one of grave diff-
erence of principle ; this was made the occasion for putting forth
a document in order to disprove this assertion, and the sending
it to the clergy and laity of the Diocese, and Bishops and Stand-
ing Committees all over the country ; accusing me of doctrines
I did not hold, and practices I did not practice. I was there-
by arraigned by three Theological Professors of a well-known
Theological Seminary before the whole Church.

g. All these things were known to be simply part of a crus-
ade by an "aggressive and intolerant faction," chiefly without the
Diocese, to brand men who could not utter the new Shibboleth
which one or two Bishops had indented, as the sole test of sound
Churchmanship; and to procure the practical condemnation of
views which no competent ecclesiastical court would dare to con-

h. At the Council men came with speeches prepared
against me, and things were said and done, which they who said
and did them, must now profoundly regret.

/. Nominated for the office of Bishop on the last day of
the Council, so far as I was concerned, it was no question of an.
Episcopal Election, but I was on trial before the Diocese and the
whole land, as one disloyal to the Church of his Baptism.

/ I was placed in this difficulty. If I made no defence,
it would have been justly said, what has been said about my previ-


ous silence, that I had none to make ; and when defeated, that I,
and something more important the doctrines I hold, had been
condemned, not only by the popular voice, but by my brethren
who knew me best, in my own Diocese. I could not leave the
matter to my friends, for in matters of faith no one is content
with a second-hand statement in a man's favour, though human
nature is so constituted that it too readily accepts a second-hand
statement against him. If I withdrew my name after I had
been nominated, and then defended myself, the principle would
have been established, that Church Newspapers, and Clergymen
from without a Diocese, need only to send vehement accusing
words into that Diocese, with sufficient frequency and dexterity; to
secure the withdrawal of the name of the man they might choose
to attack. Once grant that delicacy required this on the part of the
person nominated, and a veto power would practically be given*to
the editors of church newspapers and to any faction in the Church,
upon the free nomination of a Diocese; and if unresisted in this
case, the attempt could be made elsewhere, and under other cir-

It has been said that there was no precedent for my action.
This is not a correct statement.

In the General Convention of 1844, the election of Rev.
Dr. Hawks to the Bishopric of Mississippi, came up for the can-
onical confirmation of the House of Clerical and Lay delegates.
The election had passed through one stage indeed, but it was
still undecided. Charges were made to the Lower House of
General Convention against his moral character, and Dr. Hawks
who was himself a delegate, defended himself in a speech of sev-
eral hours to the Lower House. After a resolution had been
passed declaring that his integrity had been vindicated, his elec-
tion was not confirmed. I was myself present at a meeting of the
Board of Trustees of the General Seminary when some twelve or thir-
teen Bishops and a very large company of distinguished Clergy
and Laity had met together to act upon the nomination of the
Rev. Dr. Mahan to the Professorship of Systematic Divinity. Dr.
Mahan had been publicly accused, as I have been, of holding Ro-
manizing views on the subject of Confession. Before the election,
Dr. Mahan defended himself from these charges with his usual clear-

ness and theological knowledge, and immediately afterwards, he
was elected to this important position, all but one or at most two
of the Bishops voting in his favour, and a large majority 'of
Clergy and Laity.

But had there been no precedent I would have done the
same. No such attack had ever before been made upon one nom-
inated to the Episcopate. It was stated openly that it was not
the person who was attacked but the views he held and the prac-
tices he practiced. Thus the occasion assumed an importance
which lifted it far beyond all personal considerations.

When I spoke therefore, and to this I believe the heart of
every true gentleman will beat responsive; it was for honesty and
straightforward dealing, for the rights of my order and of every
Churchman, for the truth of God and the faith of my forefathers.
NUt one moment bending to the storm, knowing that there
was no possibility of my election; knowing too, what would be
said of my action; but holding these precious rights beyond all
false delicacy, I spoke ; and had I been silent, I had been thrice
a coward.

For the same reason, I print it and send it forth, asking
those who think kindly of me to give it a patient reading, and
those who have doubted or thought ill of me, in the quiet calm
of this holy season, to weigh words, which, if they do not con-
vince, are at least sincere.

Racine College, Lent, J874-

Mr. President, and Brethren of the Council :

I really do not think, after all that has been so kindly said in
my behalf, and in view of the feeble character of the attacks upon
me, that I need to vindicate myself. I do not feel that I need
to convince to-day any honest-hearted man, in this House, that
I have been most gravely misrepresented. I would leave the
whole matter just as it is, content with your unspoken verdict,
were it not for one thing. It is not for Wisconsin alone, and .for
these kind friends whom years have only bound the closer to me,
that I speak. I am arraigned to-day before the whole Church of
the United States of America. This document, full of cruel ac-
cusations, signed by six Presbyters of this Diocese, has been sent
all over this Diocese. It has been also sent outside of this Diocese,
and has thus been scattered far and wide. It is not a question of
the election to the Episcopate. That is immaterial, and is in the
hands of God. The question is, as to whether I am an honest,
loyal clergyman of the Church, or one who professing to be so,
teaches doctrines she denies, and inculcates practices she forbids.
In addition to this, I am placed by God's providence at the head
of a Church College. Its only claim to exist, and to receive the
loving favour with which it has been blessed, is, that it loyally rep-
resents the Godly discipline, and Christian nurture, which have
.been for generations the especial glory of our mother Church.
That it is a Church College, Catholic not Protestant, Protestant
not Roman, has been the one thing that has commended it. If
the charges of my brethren are true, I have no right to be at the
head of it. Nay ; how can he who is false himself, train gentle
children and brave young men, in manly honour? Take notice
also, that the Rt. Rev. Dr. Cummins has accused me of enforc-
ing confession upon the students. His poor band of ministers,
in every sermon, now at Chicago, now at Detroit, now at Peoria
and St. Louis, and I know not where else, have even given as
one justification of their schism, that enforced confession pre-
vails at Racine College. This might be borne. One could


reasonably hope that loyal Churchmen might love the more a
Priest, whom the enemies of the Church saw fit to speak evil of.
The Church Journal also, by dexterous insinuations and mis-
leading hints, has left impressions which, while quite incorrect,
it could easily say it had never expressed in so many words. By
refusing to admit a defence, which another kindly sent, it
was made to seem as though no answer could be made. Some
anonymous correspondent had called me a "standard bearer,"
and thus it was made to appear as if I maintained every view and
practise, which any ritualist of any sort, or any society of ritual-
ists might have held, from the publication of the first tract for the
Times, down to the last issue of the Church Times. Mr. Presi-
dent, lam the "standard bearer," if you will, of every truth
the Prayer Book teaches, and of none others. I am responsible
for every word I have myself uttered ; and for every statement of
doctrine I have myself made ; but for none besides. Be they
true or false, no man can justly hold me responsible for them.

Under all this, too, lies a great principle. The Church has
provided proper safeguards if a Diocese selects a person unfitted
for the high office of Bishop. But sad will be the day, if before
an Episcopal election, Church papers can feel that they may be-
come campaign documents, and Clergymen think it their duty
to send into a mourning Diocese, bitter accusing words of some
one of their Brethren.

But in addition to this I am accused by six of my brethren, in
my own Diocese, among my own people. Believe me when I say,
that grievously wronged as I have been, I have no unkind feelings
toward these gentlemen. I think, as I have said, that they have
been wrong and done me wrong. Some of them I fancy begin to
feel it. They cannot have clear consciences about it. One of
them, indeed, (the Rev. Mr. Parke) has withdrawn his name and
expressed his sorrow for signing it. But, and here is the
difficulty, just in proportion as the virtue, and honour and ven-
erable character of some of these gentlemen are believed in, in that
proportion is the paper the heavier charge against me. With two
of them, Dr. Adams and Dr. Kemper, I have had a friendship of
twenty years, interrupted, I know, by an occasional disagree-
ment, but still, so far as I am concerned, without the loss, until


this sad occasion, of honest regard for them. This document goes
out to the Church strengthened by their supposed friendship and
long knowledge of me, and by every virtue that they possess.
And it is just so much more of a charge against me, and makes it
so much the more imperative upon me that I should defend my-

I hope however that my Brethren will remember, that I have
never made a statement on the doctrine of the Eucharist except
the one I made in the general Convention of 1871, and after-
wards in a correspondence which took place between myself and
the Rev. Dr. Craik, of Kentucky. The other matters which
have been spoken of, in the course of the speeches, but which
are not mentioned in the document, took place earlier still, be-
fore the meeting of that general Convention. These false doc-
trines of mine, if they be false, and these wrong practices, if
they be wrong, have been held and known for at least three
years, and yet this is the first time they have thought it proper
publicly to take me to task for them. At their ordination
these gentlemen promised " with all faithful diligence to banish
and drive away from the church all erroneous and strange doc-
trines contrary to God's word." The church provides a definite
way for them to do this. If I have ever held or taught some of
the views, mentioned in this document, I am liable to prosecution
for false doctrine. And, Mr. President, if any Presbyters will come
forward and present me for false doctrine on the ground that
I hold what is taught in that document, I am ready to bear my
trial, and will put no obstacles in their way. This is the legiti-
mate way ; but to wait until the question of the Episcopate comes
up, and then to circulate a series of charges against me, in such
a way too, that I cannot defend myself, this is to be an accuser
of one's Brethren, and to do that which all honourable men must

And now let me say that I have no wish to hide
from any member of the council, or any man or woman in this
diocese, just what I hold and just what I do. There are some
things that are true in this paper. If it had been all false, it
would not have been so effective. It is the skill of the document,
that it mingles the false and the true, and so mingles them that


the unskilled man would not be able to distinguish them. It is
so dexterously arranged, that I have no hesitation in saying that
the majority of laymen who have come to the council, have come
believing me to be a Romanizer, because of this document. I
therefore take up, and propose to examine the paper entitled,


First I must call your attention to the note which the six
Presbyters have signed ; they say " They have seen an article in
the Milwaukee papers of Jan. 31st," which they reprint. And yet
Dr. Egar, one of the signers of this note, has told us on this
floor, that he himself was the author of the anonymous article. In
a matter so grave as an accusation against a fellow Presbyter,
and in defence of what they must call the truth, does this seem
altogether sincere ? They speak of it as a thing they had acci-
dentally seen, as though they had not known who the author
was, and all about it. It is a sort of thing which is sometimes
done I am aware ; but scarcely with clean hands and pure lips.

Second, let me call your attention to the first and second para-
graphs of the document. It does not say in so many words, but
it carefully insinuates that the " interview" between myself and
others with the reporter of the Times was the result on my part
of "previous instructions.' ' The statement of the charge will be, I
think, to those who know me, its own refutation. I made every ef-
fort to avoid the "interview," and if it seemed to be favorable to
me, I will venture to suggest, that this was due not to political
chicanery on my part, but to the fact that the truth was on my

Third, I beg to call your attention to the question of


In the general Convention of 1871, a new Canon on
the subject of Ritual was proposed, to which in common
with many of my Brethren I was earnestly opposed. The
discussions upon the subject almost necessarily brought up the
question of the Eucharist. Men upon the floor of the house,

*See Appendix ii.


had uttered very low views upon this important subject. I felt
it my duty, boldly to state a view of the Eucharist, which the
church allowed, and which I myself held.

The Court of Arches, (which while not the highest court of
appeal in England, has nevertheless been regarded as the highest
ecclesiastical court, because it is the Archbishop's court, though
a lay Judge presides in it, as his "official Principal,") had tried
and given sentence in the case of Mr. Bennett. Mr. Bennett
on conscientious grounds had refused to appear either personally or
by counsel, and thus was totally undefended. In spite of this,
Sir Robert Phillimore, the Judge of the Court of Arches, had de-
cided that the words " the real actual presence of our Lord under
the form of bread and wine upon the altars of our churches," and
" who myself adore, and teach the people to adore Christ present
in the elements under the form of bread and wine," "did not
contravene the formularies of our Faith." He said. " If I were
to pronounce that they did so, I should be passing sentence in
my opinion, upon a long roll of illustrious Divines, who have
adorned our Universities, and fought the good fight of our
church, from Ridley to Keble from the Divine whose martyr-
dom the cross at Oxford commemorates, to the Divine in whose
honour the University has founded her last College." [Philli-
more Judgement, pp. 133 and 134.]

The case was carried up on appeal to the Judicial Committee
of the Privy Council, a court without the slightest claim to the
name of ecclesiastical, and which was so poorly constituted that
it has within the past year, in the shape in which it existed at
the time spoken of, been abolished by Parliament. It is quite
true that some of the Bishops might sit as Privy Councillors, and the
judgement of the council was written, it is said, by the Arch-
bishop of York. The judgement was given June 8th 1872, more
than six months after the general Convention. But, and here is
the point, though Mr. Bennett was again undefended by counsel
the Judicial Committee were compelled to acquit him. In other
words both courts decided that the words of Mr. Bennett could be
used, and such views be held by a Priest of the Church of England,
and not contravene the formularies of the faith. It makes no differ-
ence, that the Archbishop of York should have indulged in the


Judgement in some harsh epithets. The Judgement of the Judicial
Committee states distinctly, "It is not the part of the Court of Ar-
ches nor of this Committee, to usurp the functions of a Synod or of
a Council. Happily their duties are much more circumscribed,
namely whether certain statements are so far repugnant to, or con-
tradictory of, the language of the articles and formularies, con-
strued in their plain meaning, that they should receive judicial
condemnation." [Judgement of Judicial Committee, p. 303, in
the argument of A. J. Stephens, Q. C. See.] Everything there-
fore in it, or in the Judgement of the Court of Arches, which
went beyond the acquittal of Mr. Bennett, rests upon its own
merits. The acquittal remains, the rest are obiter dicta. I must
object here to Dr. Adams' style of reasoning, which because I have
adopted certain "adjudicated words," makes me responsible for
everything Mr. Bennett may have said in his "Plea for Toleration."
I am of course responsible for every word of Mr. Bennett's I
have adopted, but for none other.

The words were really, however, the words of Dr. Pusey
rather than of Mr. Bennett, and they were quoted by me as the
decision of a Judicial Tribunal, and cannot be so used as to in-
volve me in any other expressions of the party on trial. They
are quoted as the lawyer or the Judge when appealing to authority
cites a legal decision. This is a principle too plain to need
further enforcement. This will serve also to explain the fact
that I did not even quote Mr. Bennett's words, which were " in
the sacrament" not "in the elements." I was quoting a judicial
decision and took it as it was.

This statement will serve to correct a mistake into which many
have fallen. In the first edition of the " Plea for Toleration,"
Mr. Bennett used expressions which cannot be defended. In the
third edition he substituted for them the phrases "the real actual
Presence of our Lord under the form of bread and wine upon the
Altars of our Churches," and "who myself adore and teach the
people to adore Christ present in the Sacrament under the torm
of bread and wine." For these expressions he was tried. Sir
Robert Phillimore in his judgement substituted for Sacrament the
word Elements and adjudicated these words. He probably did
so because in Mr. Bennett's use and in Sir Robert Phillimore's


judgement the words are precisely equivalent. They are not
necessarily equivalent, but in the present case they were so. Mr.
Stephens in his argument against Mr. Bennett, before the Judi-
cial Committee, also regards them as equivalent. But whether
this be so or not is immaterial to my argument, for I was quoting
not Mr. Bennett's or Dr. Pusey's words, but a judicial decision,
and so was bound, of course, to give the very words of that de-
cision, which I did in the General Convention, quoting directly
from it, and which I do now. It must also be remembered that
the judgement of the Judicial Committee, from which people
generally quote, gives Mr. Bennett's words exactly, but as this
judgement was not given until more than six months after the
General Convention, it was impossible for me to quote it.

My own view of the Presence I have expressed throughout
the present "defence" by the words "in sacramental union
with the consecrated elements," which expresses what I mean
by "in the elements," and guards against a danger to which
those words are possibly, though not necessarily exposed. They
show, what I have always maintained, that the Presence in
the Elements is not a material, but a spiritual and Sacramental
Presence. Therefore in using the words of the " Philli-
more Judgment" I did so with the most careful explanation. I
said they were words " bolder and barer than any I would use
except in a company of theologians." I declared that I did not
believe in Transubstantiation. I asserted that the Presence in the
Holy Elements was not material or carnal, but spiritual. I even
went so far as to add something to the words of the judgement,
using instead of "who myself adore and teach my people to adore
Christ present in the elements under the form of bread and wine,"
these words : who myself adore and would, if it were necessary or
my duty, teach my people to adore, &c. I added these words,
because then and ever since I have only maintained Eucharistical
adoration, as a view rightly devotionally resulting from the Church's
doctrine of the real objective Presence, but not specifically en-
joined in any doctrinal formula.


There are three questions which may be asked in regard to
the Holy Eucharist :



1 . What is present ?

2. Where is it present?

3. How is it present ?

To each one of" these interrogatories three answers may be
given. First, How is it present ? The Roman Catholic answers ?
by Transubstantiation. The Lutheran answers, by Consubstan-
tiation. The Zwinglian answers, Figuratively. The Churchman
denies the three, and when pressed to say how Christ is present
he answers, ' I cannot tell how ; it is a mystery, and I believe

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Online LibraryJames DeKovenA theological defence for the Rev. James De Koven to the Council held at Milwaukee, February 11th and 12th, 1874 → online text (page 1 of 8)