Daily Reading for April 2 • James Lloyd Breck, Priest, 1876
After long years of waiting on Heaven-commissioned men, who ought to have acted for us with alacrity, we at length obtained the Episcopate for America! But the condition of things here had been so long that of a Presbyter-Church, it was not an easy matter to put the Bishop in his right place. He had been imported for only two things, Ordination and Confirmation! He had no cure in a Diocese beyond these, except he went down to the rank of a Priest, in which case he could become the Rector of a Parish. But he had no rights over any other parish, saving such as were in harmony with those things for which he had been imported. And so tenacious has been this uncatholic Presbyter-Church that, even to our day, the great work of our General Triennial Council has been to make Canons enough, and strong enough, to govern the Bishops!—as though they were a dangerous element in the Church, and to be guarded against, and tolerated only as a necessary evil. . . .
This state of things, like an iceberg, held in being only by the cold with which it is surrounded, is only now beginning to dissolve into its original parts, by the life and heat of Missionary enterprise. In the year 1835, the General Convention sent forth the first Missionary Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper; but he was to go forth little different from any Presbyter Missionary, saving the vast extent of territory he was to travel over, viz.: Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Territories adjacent. It was expected that members of the second Order of the Ministry would join him; but it was likewise understood that he would distribute and locate these at isolated points, where young cities were likely to spring up, and the Bishop, as a Superintendent, would visit them in their isolation.
How different the present plan of operation with our lately appointed Missionary Bishops, may clearly be seen; and it will not be thought presuming if I allude somewhat to it, and to that which awakened it in the mind of the American Church.
The first aim of the new Bishop now, is centralization. He does not count his forces as formerly, and distribute them asunder as wide as the poles, but he looks over his field to find the proper fulcrum; and establishing himself upon it, he proceeds to rally his men at this centre, and here puts them to work, and from this they radiate, along with him, over the whole Diocese. . . . [The] Cathedral is the Bishop’s See or Seat, and it does not depend on what that seat is made of, whether he can be seated there. It is not many years past when it was thought that Bishops must be lords, and that kings and Bishops were necessarily related to one another. But the American Episcopacy has proved the absurdity of this, and only now in the year 1867, do we find that a Bishop of Apostolic lineage can be securely and honorably seated within his Cathedra that is built of wood at a cost of less than $3000! He is not ashamed to leave his Presbyter-Parish Church, however grand, for such a Bishop’s See, when it is to be surrounded with all that blessed work, which alone is the glory of the Episcopal throne.
From a sermon preached by James Lloyd Breck in June 1867, before the Convention of the Diocese of Minnesota, at the time of his bidding farewell to that diocese for his new work of faith in California. Quoted in The Life of the Reverend James Lloyd Breck, D.D.; Chiefly from Letters Written by Himself, compiled by Charles Breck, D.D. (New York: E. & J. B. Young, 1883). http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/jlbreck/letters/sermon.html