A PASTORAL LETTER
CLERGY AND LAY WORKERS
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
DIOCESE OF JAPAN.
TOGETHER WITH AN APPENDIX, CONTAINING LETTERS
EDWARD BICKERSTETH, D.D.,
"With one soul striving for the faith of the Gospel."
The following is the substance of a Sermon written only for delivery, but which it has been thought may be helpful to some in a more permanent form.
S. Andrew’s House, Shiba,
April 16th, 1890.
DEAR BRETHREN,--I must not leave Japan even for so short a visit as I purpose making to England at the present time, without addressing to you a few words. The chief object of my journey is to attend the Pan-Anglican Conference, where questions will be discussed which have a most important bearing on our work in this country. Though the Conference does not claim for its decisions the force of law, yet as it is representative of the whole Anglican Communion, and has the opportunity during its sitting of hearing and comparing the opinions of many who are best acquainted with the subjects under consideration, its resolutions carry very high authority and practically govern ecclesiastical action during the succeeding decade. Your earnest prayers will, I am sure, be offered to Almighty God, that the Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel may direct its deliberations, so that the conclusions arrived at, being in accordance with His will, may promote His glory and the well-being of His Church.
 I also hope while in England to collect sufficient funds to enable me to extend the new missions which have recently been established in Tokyo. I understand that several graduate clergy are likely shortly to offer themselves to me with the view of becoming members of S. Andrew's Mission, Shiba. Also the work opening out before S. Hilda's Mission, Azabu, already requires an increase of its staff.
I shall also have the opportunity during the summer, in conjunction with the Bishop of North China, of urging the claims of Corea as a new and interesting field of evangelistic enterprise. Our brief stay in that country in October last convinced us how important it is, that now that the progress of events has set before the Church "an open door," there should be no unnecessary delay in establishing there a fully equipped mission.
You will feel how great a debt of thankfulness we owe to God for the recent increase inthe Missionary staff and for the promise of yet further increase before the end of the year. Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society are on their way to join the mission at Osaka where the Church of England Zenana Society has also just commenced work. Our sister Church in Canada hopes to establish its first mission in this country during the ensuing autumn. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel is making a specil appeal for funds to enable it to expand its operations in Tokyo and Kobe, and the Ladies' Association in connection with the same society hopes shortly to commence work in Kobe. The scheme for providing Christian teachers in Japanese schools originated by the Rev. A. Lloyd has already brought among us several well-informed educationalists and gives promise of yet greater usefulness in the near future.
 The superintendence and instruction of the Tokyo Ladies' Institute has been placed by its Japanese promoters in the hands of members of the Church of England. This movement lies outside the course of the operations of missionary societies. Were it otherwise, many who are supporting it would be debarred from doing so by their official positions. At the same time in proportion as you feel how large an influence such an institution must exercise on the future domestic life of the highest classes in Japan, it will command alike your interest and your prayers.
I look back with especial pleasure to our Conference and Synod at Osaka in February of last year. I believe that the steps which were then taken will with God's blessing have the most beneficial influence on the future of the Church. At the same time it is inevitable that some special difficulties should attend an attempt to secure united action in a way and to a degree for which there is no exact precedent. Prayer, study, and consultation will enable us to overcome them as they arise. For the present I need only remind you that no clergyman, whether Japanese or English, is released from the obligation to obey in their entirety, so far as is possible in this country, the directions of the Prayer Book. Whether a more elastic system may hereafter be possible and, if possible, desirable, is one of the many problems awaiting solution in the future.
The Japan Church Prayer Union established at the conference is I believe increasingly felt to be a real bond between us when separated in our widely distant stations. Our best thanks are due to the venerable Archdeacon Maundrell for the care with which he edits its quarterly paper. I trust that all alike may feel it a [3/4] privilege to be enabled in this way to gather the prayers of our whole Church around individual anxieties and hopes.
The conferences on union held between representatives of the various Methodist Missions in Japan and a committee appointed by the general conference at Osaka, have not I believe been without fruit. At the same time it does not seem possible to take any immediate steps towards the solution of the various practical difficulties which beset the whole question.
A resolution was passed at the Osaka Conference recommending the re-issue of the Skinko no Hata as the literary organ of the Nippon Sei Kokwai. The pressure of other work has to my regret hitherto prevented the execution of this plan. I trust it may be carried out during next winter. Meanwhile, I may mention that much good has been found to result from the circulation among isolated Christians of brief letters containing advice and sympathy, together with information of what is passing in the mission with which they have been connected.
The Committee on the Revision of the Prayer Book which sat in Tokyo during last May and June was not able to carry through the whole work during the time at its disposal. The decisions arrived at one points in which the American Prayer Book differs from our own have been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Presiding Bishop of the American Church. The new Lectionary and Tale of Special Psalms combines, I believe, some advantageous features of both Prayer Books and will be found particularly complete.
I commend to your most earnest support the Japan White Cross [4/5] Union. I trust that branches, however few members may be obtained at first, will be established in each chief centre of population. No cause has had nobler advocates both in America and our own land. In joining our efforts to theirs we are uniting ourselves with a great and beneficent movement with the success of which the progress of all religious and philanthropic work is intimately connected.
The Theological Library generously presented to us by the Society for Promoting Christian knowledge has been placed in S. Andrew's House, Shiba. The Rev. C. G. Gardner is librarian. I cannot too strongly impress upon you my sense of the importance of prayerful, systematic, life-long pursuit of Biblical and theological study. Growth in knowledge is one essential of efficiency in all ministry. In our field of work more especially, unlike some others, the progress of our general culture has entirely outrun the obedience of faith, and at the same time ecclesiastical questions of the gravest import await consideration. It follows that nowhere is there more needed than here that accuracy of teaching which comes from fulness of knowledge together with that sobriety of judgment which commonly follows on sustained and comprehensive study.
In conclusion, let me offer you my very grateful thanks for your personal kindness to myself during the past two years. To one of you I am indebted--and it is a debt which cannot be repaid--for a home during the larger part of that time, to many for most kindly hospitality, to all for sympathy and loyal cooperation. I need not assure you that you and the people to whom you minister will be continually in my thoughts and prayers during my absence. May God our Father, Almighty and All wise, grant to every congregation whether Japanese and to each individual [5/6] Christian, alike in crowded cities and the remotest country, that grace in which alone we stand and by which alone, when ministry is over, you trust to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
I commend myself to your continual intercessions.
I am, my dear Brethren,
Yours very faithfully in Christ our Lord,
S. Andrew's House, Shiba, Tokyo.
Thursday in Holy Week, 1888.
(I.) A Letter to the Reverend B. Hisayoshi Terasawa on Certain Points of Ritual, &c.
S. Andrew's House, Shiba,
December 31st, 1887.
My dear Mr. Terasawa,--I have considered carefully the resolutions of a special meeting of some of the members of the Local Council, which was held in Osaka last month after the meeting of the Council itself, and I have had the advantage of talking over the various points with you. I wish now to put on paper and to send you some thoughts with reference to them. I am the more anxious to do this as, by the regulations made last February, our opportunities of debate and discussion will henceforth be frequent, and the higher interests of Christ's Kingdom will be largely affected by the way in which our discussions are conducted. Most of the matters in debate were not of the first rank in importance; nevertheless, the right decision of them all depends on our keeping in mind certain great guiding principles. These principles are such as the following:--
I.--The Principles of Authority.--The Church as you know is a society, and as a society has authority inherent in it of three kinds, which may be called legislative authority, ministerial or executive authority, and judicial authority. The first is the authority by which laws are made, the second the authority by which they are carried out, the third the authority by which their infraction is addressed.
In our Church, according to the Constitutions and Canons agreed upon last February, the legislative authority is the Synod; the Executive authority rests, in the main, with those who are ordained to Holy Offices; the judicial authority remains still in large part to be settled, though, as you may remember, some temporary rules were agreed upon. I need not [7/8] remind you that in all cases in the Church of Christ authority is not original but delegated. It comes from Christ Himself, the only Head of the Church, whose will it is to administer the affairs of the Church earth through men.
II.--A second principle to be remembered is the Principle of Freedom. "Ye," S. Paul wrote to the COrinthian, "are a body of Christ," but he also added, "and severally members thereof (1 Cor: xii. 27). Each member therefore of the Christian Church has rights of his or her own, and, it may be added, each congregation within the whole Body, has rights of its own. And, though it may often be well that both individuals and congregations should be prepared voluntarily to surrender their rights for the sake of the gain of the whole Body, it is seldom if ever well to enforce such surrender by law. The laws of the Church should in the main deal with matters which affect the great interests of all. This is one of the distinctions between churches and sects. Small sects of necessity enforce strict uniformity in all matters. Churches, if they are wise, agree upon general principles and laws, and in minor matters allow congregations and individuals large latitude and freedom.
III.--The Principle of Union.--This is one of the cardinal points in S. Paul's teaching. He returns to it again and again. The reason why he did so was the imminent danger in the Church of the first century, that the different tempers and characteristics of the Jewish and Gentile sections of the Church should give rise to divisions. Thus he writes:--"Ye all are one man in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii., 28. "He is our peace who made both one and brake down the middle wall of partition," Eph. ii., 14. "There is one body and one spirit even as also ye were called in one hope fo your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Eph. iv., 4. Many like passages will occur to you. Further it should be noted that in the New Testament the expression "Church" or "Body of Christ" never means the clergy only or the laity only, but both together. The clergy are the hands of the Body. The whole Body, acting together may look with confidence, which if it is accompanied by humble prayer will not be misplaced, for the guidance of God's Holy Spirit in its deliberations.
I will now point out, not with the wish to attach lame to anyone, but with the view of suggesting to you how such matters may be better managed in time to come, that in the proceedings of the special meeting at Osaka these great principles were not given due prominence.
First of all, the constitution of the meeting was defective. You had no [8/9] presbyters present, and if I understand rightly, no foreigners. Thus the meeting was not a due representation of the Church in your district of Japan, in which all alike belong and in which all have equal interests. This was the more to be regretted because the matters with which you dealt were such as to require two kinds of knowledge: (1.) A knowledge of Japan and its customs and needs. (2.) A knowledge of Church history, antiquities, customs, &c. The first you were able to supply. In the second, foreign theologians and clergy are at present your best guides.
It will not be very long, I hope, before you will have an ample supply of Japanese clergy well trained in all the branches of theological science, so that you will be able tod o without foreign assistance. Such scholars and clergy will be able wisely and thoughtfully to adapt the great stores of learning and experience which have been gradually accumulated in the Church of Christ during nineteen centuries, to the special needs of Japan, just as in other sciences, the science of electricity for instance, learned Japanese are now trying to use and develop the stores of western learning under the sepcial circumstances of this country. We are Christians of the nineteenth century, not of the first, and must not neglect our heritage. But we shall not be wholly losers even under the present state of affairs, if the fact of our interdependence, as Japanese and foreigners, upon one another impresses upon us the great principle of union to which I have referred above.
Secondly, the meeting exceeded its authority. As a voluntary meeting, the only course open to it was to make a representation to the Local Council, which in turn, if it had so desired, might have sent up the same representation to the Synod. If the Synod entertained the question, its decision would have been final, and have been announced in due course to all the congregations. The resolutions of a voluntary meeting are expressions of the opinions of the persons who meet in it, but have no authority in the Church. The decisions of the Synod, which will be largely influenced by those of the Local Councils, will be binding on all the congregations, which have placed themselves under the Constitution and Canons. The decisions of the Synod may in many cases be rightly announced during divine service in church, and those of the Local Council in matters on which authority is reserved to it by the canons, but those of voluntary meetings should under no circumstances be published in this way.
It is a small matter, but still worth remembering that the decisions of a voluntary meeting should not be printed with the minutes of the Synod or [9/10] Local Council; just as, to take an illustration, the minutes of a meeting of some municipal counsellors could not be entered on the minute book of a municipal council. The latter has and the former has not the authority of the Government.
I come now to notice the different points which the meeting considered.
1.--Standing at the Entrance of the Ministers.--In some of our churches this is the practice, in some it is not. It seems to me just one of those points which should be left to be decided according to the wishes of individual clergy and congregations. Personally I prefer it. It is a mark of respect for the Ministers of Christ which accords well with the teaching of the New Testament (see for instance 1. Thess: v. 12, 13. Hebr: xiii, 17, &c.) Besides it gives an opportunity for all to kneel with the minister in private prayer before the service commences. Thoughts which have wandered to earthly things are in this way collected for the solemn duty of worshipping Almighty God.
2.--On the propriety of the second point--facing as far as possible the same way during prayer--probably all would be agreed. It would, however, be best not to make a law on the subject, which might fret some of the brethren who had been accustomed to a different use. A good custom will gradually prevail through its own goodness.
3.--Bowing at the human Name of our Lord and at the Doxology.--These are Christian customs, practised in some of our churches, not in others. They certainly should be by no means enforced, but neither should they be forbidden. To do so would cause great grief to some tender consciences. Bowing at the mention of our Lord's name in the Creed is almost universal, but even here individual liberty should be respected. Further it may be taken as a rule, that simple forms of outward devotion are an assistance, elaborate forms a hindrance to that devotion of the heart which is the one thing needful.
4, 5, 8. Again the custom to which these resolutions refer (viz., singing the responses to the commandments, singing before the gospel, and prayer by the prayer before his sermon) might well be left to the decision of congregations and individual preachers. Some preachers are very fond of saying a short extempore prayer before their sermon. I do not myself adopt the plan, but should be sorry to see others forbidden to adopt it by a law.
6.--Standing during the Offertory.--I cannot but think that the resolution [10/11] on this point was passed without due consideration. No child offers a gift to a parent or subject to a king in a sitting posture. At the offertory we give to God our Heavenly Father and King that which He designs to accept at our hands. We are surely bound to assume the outward attitude of reverence. To do so will not be without its influence on the feelings of the heart.
7, 10, 12, 13.--The alterations suggested in these resolutions are for the present precluded by the resolution of the Synod recorded between the Constitution and Canons, which accepts the Prayer Book for present use. It is very important to bear this in mind, as it is on the ground of this resolution that foreign missionary societies have, in response to our request, contributed to the funds of our Japanese Missionary Society. So long however as the rubrics themselves are unaltered, there can be no objection to certain alterations being allowed under due authority, when special circumstances demand it.
In regard to 7, on the omission of the Prayer for the Church Militant, it should be remembered that this prayer introduces into the service certain elements of worship which otherwise would be omitted, such as the clauses with reference to the offertory and the thanksgiving for the holy dead. The omission of these would be a real loss in the Sunday service.
The word "oblations" referred to in the same resolution probably has a double reference, first to the bread and wine of the Holy Communion, which it is the duty of the congregation to provide, and which just before this prayer are placed upon the holy table for use in God's service; secondly to offerings in kind made especially by poor people, who sometimes find it easier to offer of their substance than of their money. these are very common in other countries, for instance in India; and it is well that there shoud be an opportunity for them among ourselves. From either point of view it would be a loss to omit the word.
In regard to the use of the surplice (No. 10), I gathered from you that the brethren would like a special garment to be used in the service but not of a white colour. I should not be opposed to this in itself, still I cannot but hope that it will become more and more natural to us to associate the white colour not with false worships, but with the holy worship of God in Heaven, in which hereafter we hope to join (Rev. iii. 4.5. iv. 4. vi. 11, xix. 8.)
The question of one Consecration Prayer (Resolution 12) is under present circumstances one of greatest difficulty. Hereafter no doubt the Nippon Sei Kokwai will have but one prayer, possibly combining parts of [11/12] both the prayers at present in use. Meanwhile we may rejoice to remember that both prayers are founded on and in accordance with Holy Scripture.
Resolution 13 has reference to flowers and crosses on the Holy Table. Flowers, God's most beautiful works, seem fully in place in God's house, the place where our Lord deigns especially to be, and as accompaniments of the services of our religion, of which, as resting on the Resurrection, the very key note is victory and praise. The cross is a symbol used by Christians from very early times. I observe that on the outside of Churches it is common among all Christians in Japan. I should be sorry to see either the flowers or the cross discarded. At the same time if, in any place, there is a danger of giving offence either to weaker brethren or unbelievers by placing them on the Holy Table, I should feel that this was a case in which S. Paul's principle applied, as stated in 1. Cor. viii. 13, and that for the present it is better to avoid placing them in that position.
I agree with resolution 11 on the position of the font. In time to come I cannot but hope that some of our Churches may be erected on the ancient plan, a plan which was also adopted at the Church where I usually worshipped in India. According to it Christians only are admitted into the main body of the Church; unbelievers having a place assigned them in a large porch separated by a low wall or barrier from the nave itself. The font would then naturally be placed just within the nave. This plan allows unbelievers to listen to God's word preached, which by His grace may become the means of their conversion, but prevents them from seeming to belong to the congregation in which not having been baptized they have as yet no place. Catechumens should also have a special place assigned them. Experience has hsown that such arrangements are areal help to the orderly and devout conduct of God's worship and help the worshippers to realize more fully the privilege of belonging to the Church of Christ.
I have now commended on each resolution of the meeting. What I have said will I am sure have your earnest consideration.
I do not doubt that the Prayer Book will require very large modifications before it can be finally accepted as the service book of the Nippon Sei Kokwai. But successful alterations when the time for alteration comes will require much prayer, great caution, and, as I have said, long study. Without these less would be certain and gain doubtful. Even at present no one who studies and uses the Prayers will fail to have vividly impressed [12/13] upon his mind and heart certain great principles and truths which are founded on the teaching of Holy Scripture and are needed for all times. Theya re such as these, the obligation of definite belief in revealed truth, the duty of worship as the highest act of redeemed man, the authority of the threefold ministry, the reality of sacramental grace, the duty of reverence alike outward and inward in God's house and service. These and other truths our Church has been in a special way entrusted with, not for any merit in ourselves, but through God's mercy and in order that through us as time goes on they may become the common heritage of all Japanese Christians. We do not then want in any way to reduce our teaching and services to the level of what others may think right; but rather to point out, as occasion offers, that inasmuch as all our teaching and practice is founded on God's revelation and in accordance therewith, it must have a real bearing on the spiritual life and progress of all the Christian people of the land.
You will join me in the prayer that God may enable our Church to guard the heritage which He has committed to us, and while holding great truths and principles unaltered wisely to adapt their eternal embodiment to the special circumstances of your favour land--a land which we who have come hither from far, learn to love as truly as yourselves.
I am, dear Mr. Terasawa,
Your faithful Friend and Father in God,
PART OF A LETTER TO A CONGREGATION WHICH HAD DESIRED
THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF SEVERAL OF ITS MEMBERS.
The principles which should be kept in mind in such cases are these:--
I.--A Christian congregation consists of a number of persons all of whom have been baptised into God's Holy Name and all of whom, if adults, have a right by virtue of their baptism to the sacraments and other ministrations of the church.
2.--In a congregation, speakingly generally, only some at any one time are truly faithful and answer to that calling with which all have been called by God. The rest owing in worldliness, faithfulness, and other since receive God's grace in vain (II Cor vi. 1.).
No human eye can discriminate accurately the faithful and the faithless in a congregation. The attempt to do so has always as the history of the Church bears witness, led to serious evil, and is distinctly discountenanced by our Lord. "Let both grow together until the Harvest. The Harvest is the end of the world."
4.--Nevertheless there are certain flagrant and open sins which so plainly indicate an evil heart as to necessitate, alike for the sake of the congregation and the sinner, exclusion from the sacraments and rites of the Church, till they are definitely reprented of and renounced. Among these are drunkenness, immorality, &c. (see the rubic prefixed to the Order of Holy Communion.) In such cases it becomes the duty of the Presbyter in charge with the consent of the Bishop, openly to declare such persons excluded from the congregation till they repent. Such exclusion is called excommunication. How serious a matter it is may be gathered from S. Paul's naming it "a delivery to Satan" (i. Cor. v. 5.). In ancient days, though not commonly now, it was not seldom accompanied by outward judgments such as sickness (see again 1. Cor. v. 5, "the destruction of the flesh.") It must then only be resorted to after clear evidence of a sin having been committed which is a scandal to the congregation and clear proof of an impenitent heart. To resort to it without such evidence would be "to judge a brother" which our Lord forbids (S. Matt. vii. 1.).
PART OF A LETTER ON SALARIES TO THE MEMBERS OF THREE CHURCH COMMITTEES.
My dear Friends,--I have read with great interest your letter in regard to the present needs of our Church, and especially with reference to the salaries of pastors and catechists. I feel with you that we have very much reason to be thankful to God for the progress which has been made during recent years, and for the signs of His blessing upon us at the present time.
I am also quite one with you in the opinion that the future progress of our Church depends on the development of a well educated and devoted ministry. God in His great mercy has preserved to us those orders which have been in the Church from Apostolic days. This ministry is a gift of our Lord to His Church. It exists, not for its own aggrandisement or glory, but for the sake of the whole Body of the faithful, and it is our part to see that ever effort be made that fit men be trained to undertake its grave yet blessed responsibilities.
With reference to the support of the ministry, the principles to be borne in mind are these:
I.--As soon as a congregation has been gathered of sufficient size to justify the appointment and ordination of a pastor, the members of the congregation should also be prepared to contribute a sufficient sum for his support. This would generally be the case if, on the one hand, the support of a pastor was considered the first duty of a congregation and every member gave according to the Scripture rale "as God had propered him," and, on the other hand, if the pastor was ready, obeying S. Paul's injunctions, "to endure hardness with the gospel" for Christ's sake. Instances abound in the history of the Church of congregations which have given up to and, as it might have been though, beyond their ability for the support of their pastors; and on the other hand, many ministers, having only the very small salary to depend on which alone their poor people could give them, have done a great work for God.
II.--"We are members one of another." When then a group of congregations has been formed in any one place, the members of one congregation are interested in the secular affairs as well as the spiritual condition of another. The wealther congregations should therefore help the less wealthy out of Christian love and in order that none may be burdened [15/16] beyond what is needed. Further, as the Church is one in all countries, it may sometimes be possible that Churches even in distant lands should contribute to the support of the ministry in a land where the Church has been only recently established. This, however, should plainly only be the case for as short a time as possible.
Bearing then these principles in mind, we have to consider the support of the ministry in the district of .... As there is a group of Churches connected with the Nippon Sei Kokwai in this district they should, on the second principle whihc I have mentioned, assist one another in the support of their pastors, and for this end a Pastoral fund should at once be formed to which all should be invited to contribute. I hope that this question and also the rate of salary will be considered at the next meeting of the Tokyo Local Council, and also at the Synod of 1889. There can be no subject of greater importance.
May God, dear brethren, give to us all the spirit of liberality, self denial, and love; liberality which will make each Christian hold giving to be a privilege; self denial, which will both make giving possible and small means sufficient, and love whihc will bind us all together in the fellowship of Christ.
I am yours very faithfully in Christ our Lord,
S. Andrew's House, Shiba.
Tokyo, 14th February, 1888.
A Prayer on Behalf of the Pan-Anglican Conference.
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who hast purchased to Thyself an Universal Church by the Precious Blood of thy dear Son, mercifully look upon the same, and guide the minds of Thy servants, the Bishops and Pastors of Thy flock, who are to meet together in Thy Name. Be with them; enlighten their hearts by Their Presence, direct them in their works and ways, and teach them what they ought to do, that by Thy aid they may please Thee in all things. Assist them with Thy Holy Spirit, that their counsels may contribute to the extension of Thy Kingdom, the maintenance of truth, and the restoration of godly union and concord. And this we pray, through the merits and mediation of Jesus CHrist thy Son our Lord. Amen.
(Robert Gray, Bishop of Capetown, 1867.)
O Almighty and Everlasting God, unto whom the patriarchs live though they be buried in the cave of the field, and who by the resting therein of Thy Son Christ didst hallow the sepulchre which Joseph had made ready, vouchsafe to hallow and consecrate this grave that it may be a resting place for the body of Thy servant now to be laid therein, until the day when all who are in the graves shall hear Thy voice and live, through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost rest on this place continually. Amen.