"...So the Church went down into the depths, in a paralysis which seemed to the world at large to be death. A report made to the General Convention in 1811 by a committee on the state of the Church declared that the Episcopal Church in Virginia was so hopelessly depressed that there seemed humanly speaking to be no possibility of its survival....
"The Church did not die. And, strange to say, another catastrophe in the life of Virginia, in which the lives of seventy persons were lost in the burning of the Richmond Theatre in December, 1811, brought the opportunity, and the man through whom the revival came. Monumental Church was build upon the site and over the gave of those who had perished in the fire, and in the selection of a rector for the new congregation a clergyman from outside the commonwealth was called to the double office of rector of the congregation and bishop of the Diocese of Virginia. So it was that Richard Channing Moore came in 1814 to the field of his great achievement. An earnest and powerful preacher, able leader, loving and beloved, who was followed as a man sent from God, he awoke the diocese out of its lethargy and started it upon a career of growth and influence that has continued to the present day."
Above quoted from Virginia's Mother Church and the Political Conditions Under Which It Grew, vol II; by George MacLaren Brydon; pp.506-507.
"Never was there a man more happily constituted for the peculiar work assigned him by the Divine Head of the Church, than was Bishop Moore for the trying duties of Diocesan of Virginia at the period when he entered upon that sacred office. The Episcopal Church in this State then labored under accumulated difficulties. The evils which grew out of the colonial system of ecclesiastical affairs were still felt. The want of episcopal supervision, of the administration of the episcopal functions, and of the restraining influence and discipline of executive control, had greatly retarded the prosperity of the infant Church. She had not the benefit of her own ecclesiastical government, and was too far removed from her distant mother to be much benefited by the connection which was still maintained, or much restrained by a ruling power so far distant, and consequently so inefficiently exercised. Without an executive head, there was no sufficient restraint laid upon her ministers.
"Orthodoxy in doctrine and piety and morality of life among those who were the spiritual guides and examples of the people, could only be enforced, when needed, by an impeachment on the other side of the ocean before the Bishop of London, who was the ecclesiastical head of the colonial churches. This, owing to the invidiousness of the office of accuser, the distance of the tribunal, the expense of the voyage, and the delay of justice, was rarely done. The colonies, in consequence, became the last resort of some of those bad men who in all ages and churches will intrude into the holy office, and who feared the discipline of the Church at home. Others who, from inefficiency, could not find desirable cures in the mother country, easily obtained situations in a rapidly growing community where ministers were greatly needed. From the operation of these causes the colonial Church in Virginia long labored under the infliction of the inefficiency, immorality and want of piety of some of her ministry. The disastrous influences of this great evil were widely felt. The confidence and attachment of the people were in a great degree weaned from their spiritual guides. The efforts of the good and zealous were much thwarted by the counteracting influence of evils which there was no power in the defective system of church government to eradicate.
"At this critical juncture came on the American Revolution. The strong prejudices which were excited by this event against a Church which was connected with the oppressive government of England, the jealousy which was aroused in the dissenting denominations in consequence of the possession by the Church of valuable glebe lands, the dispersion of most of her ministers, and the zealous efforts of her enemies in the use of all these means of injuring her, when added to the sore evils under which she had before groaned, constituted a burden too heavy for her strength, and she sank to the dust. An extended population being thus deprived in a great degree of their religious teachers and of moral restraints, and exposed during many years to all the distracting and demoralizing influences of war, presented, after the protracted troubles were over, an inviting field for that subtle system of infidelity which was introduced from France, and was zealously and too successful ully disseminated by men of high standing and talent.
"Added to the baleful influence of this demoralizing system, those who undertook under God the arduous task of reviving the Church in Virginia had to operate on the minds of a high-minded people, long unaccustomed to the restraints of religion. Thus infidelity, immorality, repugnance to restraint and inveterate prejudice against the Episcopal Church, produced fearful difficulties in the way of a revival of this Church. The great work, however, was begun by a little band of faithful men who trusted in God's promise that "the gates of hell should not prevail against His church."
"Still, at the time of Bishop Moore's arrival, the evils above mentioned were still widely prevalent. He seemed to have been raised up by Divine Providence to guide the Church successfully through these difficulties. He entered upon the arduous task at fifty?two years of age, though with all the vigor, animation and zeal of youth. His evangelical system of doctrine, his pure and beautiful style of preaching, the tenderness and pathos of his appeals, the gracefulness and eloquence of his delivery, aided by a venerable form, a countenance beaming with benevolence, and a heart glowing with love, rendered him to all an acceptable preacher.
"In his visitations through his new diocese, crowds everywhere assembled to hear him; and, charmed by the man, many went away disarmed of their prejudice against his office and his Church. His gentle and conciliating manner of pleading the claims of the Church of their fathers soon awakened in many families an attachment which had slumbered, but had never become extinct. The mild, forbearing, and parental manner in which he exercised the power of his office, won the hearts of his ministry. His widely spread reputation for piety and zeal soon drew to his diocese a large accession of efficient clergy. His faithful inculcation of true religion elevated the tone of piety in the Church and secured the confidence of the community. In his private and social intercourse with the families of the Church, their Bishop won all hearts.
"To the courteous and graceful manners of a well?bred gentleman he added a singularly pleasing amenity. He was kind to all, for he loved all. His benevolence overflowed toward all mankind. His venerable appearance and countenance, beaming with love, disarmed enmity; his sprightly and. entertaining conversation attracted old and young to his society. He presented religion to view in all her most pleasing and attractive graces. More austerity of manner would have failed to win back hearts long alienated from the Church. Greater sternness in the exercise of his authority would have strengthened and perpetuated the prejudices entertained toward his office. But he seemed to have been happily endowed with the very qualities as a man, a Christian and a bishop, which peculiarly fitted him for the exigencies of the Church when he entered upon the duties of her chief shepherd.
"Having guided the Church committed by the Great Shepherd to his care safely through her early difficulties, having witnessed the rebuilding of her fallen churches, the extensive revival of true religion through all her borders, the return of her formerly alienated children to her bosom, a growing esteem and respect among those without her communion, he well deserves, for her sake as well as for his own virtues, the love and reverence of all who love the Church of God. Truly God has blessed his labors and those of the godly man who has aided him of late years in the episcopal office.
"When he came to the episcopate of Virginia, there were in the diocese only four or five actively laboring ministers, now (1841) there are ninety?five, most of whom minister zealously at the sacred altar. Never, probably, was there a bishop more universally popular and more ardently loved by his ministers and all the members of the Church under his episcopal charge.
Above quoted from The Life and Character of Bishop Moore of Virginia, Written in 1841, Just After His Death; privately printed. pp.13-18.
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