God gives the growth

Daily Reading for August 27 • Thomas Gallaudet, 1902, with Henry Winter Syle, 1890

Our Saviour, being the everlasting Word by whom all things were made, could use the imagery of the natural world more strikingly and appropriately than any one else, to set forth and illustrate the great moral principles which he came to promulgate and enforce. How clearly and powerfully does he teach us, by his reference to the growth of the seed, that the doctrines of the everlasting gospel—the principles of the kingdom of God, of which he was the Head—produce their effects upon the hearts of mankind in a silent, gradual, mysterious, unfathomable manner, —that the ripe fruit of Christian character comes at length from the planting in the soul of the germ of the new spiritual life. Our Lord also doubtless intended to teach his apostles that the growth of the spiritual kingdom of the faithful, brought into outward communion by baptism, should start from feeble beginnings and have such a strangely gradual, yet vigorous growth, that they should not know how the work went on.

My brethren, I trust that it will not be considered presumptuous, if, upon this wonderful day of our own parochial life, we venture to illustrate the preceding general views by reference to our own feeble beginnings and subsequent growth. We are an integral portion of the Church of Christ, which has spread upward and outward from the grain of mustard seed. We are, therefore, subject to the same mysterious laws which have marked its growth. Though a young and humble parish, we, this day, fully and joyously, as we take possession of these beautiful and singularly appropriate consecrated courts, stand side by side with those parishes which have in time’s progress become venerable and stable, as a Christian church—as a centre of the high and holy influences which, by God’s blessing, result in that mysterious spiritual growth of which we have spoken. As we contrast our present cheering position with the one which we occupied less than seven short years ago, we are conscious of genuine, amazing growth, and yet we know not how it has taken place. We can set before our mental eyes a few striking scenes which have characterized our progress; we can speak of having used, faithfully and prayerfully, we trust, the means which God has given us; we can point to scores of earnest friends, who have successively appeared just at the right time to accomplish some very desirable end; we can tell of money flowing quietly into our treasury, in sufficient sums to sustain our gradually increasing growth; we can sketch the history of St. Ann’s Church for Deaf-Mutes, and can say that it has accomplished something for the glory of God and the good of man; —and yet, after all, we know not how our present comparative symmetry has been worked out of our inexperienced, crude beginnings. We must, with deep humility and gratitude, exclaim, that the compassionate Being who notices the fall of every sparrow, and numbers the very hairs of our heads, has worked with us, has watched over us, has blessed us; and, in conformity with his mysterious laws of growth, has brought us to this bright and happy day.

From The Sermon Delivered upon the Occasion of St. Ann’s Church for Deaf-Mutes Commencing its Services at the Church in Eighteenth Street, Near Fifth Avenue on August 7, 1859, by the Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, Rector (New York: George F. Nesbitt, 1859). Found at http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/gallaudet/opening1859.html

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