Assembled as we are today, dear brethren, to assist in, or to witness one of the most solemn events, that can take place on earth, the commission of this trust of ministerial power, in its highest forms, with its heaviest responsibility, to a brother young in years for such a charge, but already known and honored by the Church, and deeply beloved by those who best know him; remembering that that trust is to be exercised by him in regions remote from the friends, by whose sympathies he has been accustomed to be soothed, and by whose counsels he has been accustomed to be assisted, in the midst of a frontier population, many of them rude, and wild, and lawless, and, to some extent, over a people of a strange tongue, a foreign race, and a corrupt and intolerant religion, nay, over the very savages themselves; with such high and arduous duties before him, entering upon them while still so young, with a frail body, gently nurtured, tenderly cared for to this hour; is there one of us who will not, in heart and spirit, come before God, and earnestly and importunately cry out to Him “to bless this, our brother, and to send His grace upon him, that he may duly execute the office whereunto he is called, to the edifying of the Church, and the honor, praise and glory of God’s great name?” And that we may pray thus the more fervently, and that he may more deeply feel the magnitude of the obligations he is about to take on himself, let us consider some of the particulars of the trust which our Lord and master is about to commit to him, by the hands of the Bishops of the Church, the successors in office of His Apostles.
He is, in the first place, to “teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine, to withstand and convince gainsayers, and to drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.” It belongs to the office of a Bishop, then, to preserve, transmit and diffuse evangelical Catholic truth, the truth as it is in Jesus. This is a function which our Blessed Lord himself did not disdain to declare to be one main object of His incarnation. “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth.” When He left the world, he bequeathed this office to His Church. The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, its monument and its foundation, proclaiming it, upholding it. This truth is of inestimable value; it is the life-blood of the souls of men. It enfranchises them from sin and death. If we believe it not says St. Paul, we shall be damned, and conversely, he tells us, we are chosen to salvation through belief of it. Being then of such high origin and such untold value, St. Paul considered himself set as its champion, planted as a warrior, with watchful eye and armed hand to guard it. For where God’s truth is, there is liberty, there is light and peace, there is purity of morals, there is solid prosperity in the blessings of this life, there is a good hope of eternal life.