Project Canterbury

Mankind and the Church
Being an Attempt to Estimate the Contribution of Great Races
To the Fulness of the Church of God

Edited by H. H. Montgomery

London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907.

Introduction: The Church of the Far West
The Right Rev. H. H. Montgomery, D.D, sometime Bishop of Tasmania

Chapter II. The Church of the Race

Duality of temperament--Disregard for logic--Dual attitude towards Means of Grace--Two theories of the Church--Advantages of dual temperament--The Catholic Church and the separated brethren--Temper of our ritual--Stability of the Church--English Church and Anglican Communion--Sense of individual and national independence--Value of it--Archbishop Temple on it--Our Mission in India--The gift of accepting all the facts--Acquiescence in mystery.

The Church of such a people if racy of the soil must have a history full of fascination for the philosopher and historian, more varied, perhaps more full of surprising situations, than any other part of the Ancient Church, and surely with something very definite to impart to other races.

Duality is written all over its life, and we seem to be able more than almost any others to balance facts one against another, cheerfully accepting them all because they seem to be true, although voices innumerable shout to us that belief in one of them is only compatible with the rejection of all others. We smile: for our characteristic attitude reminds us of the exercise of two eyes placed far apart in order to get focussing power, although others hold that the possession of one eye is infinitely superior. In the same way we believe in two feet although they must perforce advance alternately, making necessary for us an art of balancing which is difficult to learn and [xxi/xxii] seems quite a needless addition to the burdens of life, since many tell us that one leg must be far the best: yet we progress. Cheerfully we accept the existence within ourselves of two temperaments, although outsiders declare that it is destructive of all family life; we refuse to banish either the one or the other, holding that each has great merits. The noise in the house is deafening at times, but we prosper. Time after time what we call common sense steps in to check some scheme of Church Reformation, which has for its object the destruction of duality in favour of what we may call monism, and all because we insist upon remaining fully Catholic in spite of certain dangers, and yet Protestant in regard to movements contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Nothing, once again, is more racy of the soil in which this Church grows than the habit of criticizing ourselves more ruthlessly than any outsider would dare to do; the unwary foretell that a Church so full of imperfections, according to our own testimony, must be at the point of death by reason of such serious internal maladies: but we live.

All our answers are provoking because they are addressed first to one group, then to another, but in the hearing of both. Two of these are well known, and may be mentioned because of their undeniably vigorous humour. When accused of imperfections we retort, "When your chimney has smoked as long as ours, there will be some soot in it." When asked where we were before the Reformation, we answer with some rudeness, "Where were you before you gave your face such a washing this morning? "

I now proceed to enlarge on some of our peculiarities, leaving it to the reader to determine whether they are merits or limitations or a mixture of both. At least they help us to believe that we are capable of understanding many diverse races in the work of evangelization.

[xxiii] No one understands so well as the English race, upon one side of it, what I must call for lack of a better name the unimaginative, prosaic view of the life of the Church. There is a definite section of our race to whom outward ordinances, Means of Grace and systems, however venerable, or however clearly invested with sacred sanctions, have little value or meaning. It is a racial quality or defect, and nothing, in such cases, is likely to alter it. One result has been the formation of innumerable Christian Bodies, separated from us, yet full of vitality, increasing in numbers and of world-wide influence. In the world they far out-number to-day the Church of this race, are full of spiritual life and work, and yet, for many such even the Sacraments ordained by the Lord Himself seem to have little meaning except as venerable memorials commanded to be used and therefore kept in use. Their spiritual house is not built, so to speak, of stone, because there is no necessity for any permanent building of any particular type. Anything that gives shelter for the time appears to be sufficient, and each generation must be responsible for its own building, its shape and also its general arrangements. Organic continuity, succession, seem to have no interest for them since the conception of the way in which the Spirit works is not in any sense aided by any special forms or organizations or means however ancient. To one who does not sympathize with these views but has passed through the whole of them in his own life, it seems as though the Temple of God on earth is supposed by some to be built of clouds forming, dissolving, re-uniting and taking any shape, however fantastic: and clearly it is no manner of use to ask what may be the form of that Temple one thousand years hence, nor need we be responsible for it. To such minds the conception that the Church of God is a great fabric built up stone by stone by each generation, each layer being responsible for [xxiii/xxiv] all that is to rest upon it in the future, and very particularly responsible for its stability organically one thousand years hence and for all time, has no weight and perhaps no significance.

The reason for making these reflections is that this temper exists largely within our own Church, and we have to find room for it alongside of a very different attitude, reminding us once again of the duality with which, as a race, we have to reckon more than others. This tendency is not to be dismissed or treated with contempt by opposing opinions. On the contrary, at times it has been a valuable counterbalance in days of special peril. In time to come we shall discover the same temper in some of the great races whom we are helping to bring within the Christian fold. It is an attitude which has its serious danger if left to become predominant, and not merely an clement; and it is surely a great thing that we have personal experience within our own Church of this general attitude, and are thus able to deal wisely with it. So manifold are the natures and tempers of human beings, that the Church which has realized most richly their diversity is most likely to win the greatest triumphs, and to be most useful for God's work. There are numbers of our own race who are fed spiritually and, in the truest sense, without sacraments and ordinances, proving to us that God is not tied to any one means, however sacred, however plainly ordained. It is disconcerting and even provoking to be compelled to make such a confession, because it lands us in that painful, balanced, dual state which is all that is possible to those who accept all the facts. Human life is a strange and baffling study, and God Almighty knows our limitations. We have with us to-day a Christian organization world-wide in its aims, English in origin, and a solid force in its beneficent social work especially; yet it seems to live by the greatest [xxiv/xxv] amount of noise and glaring advertisement, the most complete contempt for ancient Means of Grace, and apparently with no desire for learning or refinement or reticence; yet it is doing a great work. Even what seem to most of us the root ideas of the Church of God, are not assented to by many excellent, spiritually-minded Church people, except in a half sense. Accept the fact, and your range of knowledge and of sympathy is enormously extended. The Church of the Far West has so far, it seems to me, a great advantage over the Latin or the "Orthodox." And in the continents to be vanquished for Christ's sake, there is abundant scope for every quality and all the experience we possess.

It may be considered unnecessary to dwell upon the opposite temper or attitude which we also thoroughly understand, and is what will be known as the Catholic temper. But since this is the central gift which we impart to the Churches which we are helping to create in all lands, it is necessary to describe it. It is not, in my opinion, a party view, but a question of temperament, and one which affects our attitude towards life generally both in the past, the present, and the future.

Compare the following attitude with that already given above. The purpose of the Lord was to build a Church, an organic structure to last for all time. Its form was fashioned step by step under all sorts of influences, and with many mistakes, yet in main outline its shape has been directed by the Holy Spirit as architect, with the express design that it should be stable. It is one building, with a vital and organic connection throughout its parts, but with a power of adaptation to the character of any race. Its government is not monarchical, or democratic, or oligarchic, but partakes of them all: perhaps the best designation of it is constitutional. To this stable edifice, as certain to be standing one thousand years [xxv/xxvi] hence as it stood one thousand years ago, the promise of the Lord is assured, and we rest content with this, being most unwilling to make negative propositions about other organizations. This Church, the only stable Church in our opinion till the end comes, is a teaching body--it produced the New Testament, and that Book is used as proving and testing its doctrines from age to age. Nothing that cannot be proved thereby is necessary for salvation.

The Presence of the Lord is in that Church, the supernatural is natural to its life, its chief ordinances such as the two Sacraments, and Confirmation, and Ordination, are so sacred, and such Means of Grace, that awe surrounds them and they stand apart as hallowed and unique spiritual channels. There is an atmosphere and taste about the life of this Church which is all its own. It tinges the prayers and fashions the attitude and makes the atmosphere of our spiritual life; and of late we have summed all this up in the phrase "the Historic Episcopate." For that is not a mere form of government, but as I have said, a definite attitude, atmosphere, taste, a sort of perfume almost, which you discover best when you step outside its limits. There are vast organizations, denominations, Churches, whatever may be the name they desire to be called by, outside this ancient, and, to us, stable Church. Their devotion and work has been magnificent; for all their great achievements for Christ's kingdom throughout the world we love them: we gaze upon them as one would look upon a splendid athlete winning race after race: but the old Church of this nation notes also, and with foreboding, a look of delicacy in the athlete's face: it is often so with athletes, and we ask, will he live the ordinary span of life? then we shake our heads. I can only give my own conviction, formed chiefly in regions outside the mother land, that the stability of Christianity [xxvi/xxvii] depends upon the Catholic Church and its order and temper. The only anchor that can hold till the end in spite of any storm from whatever direction, is the Catholic anchor with its long, unbroken chain. If this be so, then, since we are responsible to the fullest extent of our power for the stability of the Faith one thousand years hence, the order and temper and attitude of the Catholic Church is part of the "deposit" which is too sacred to be parted with for any consideration whatsoever, and becomes an essential part of our contribution to the races of the earth. It is possible, fortunately, to say this with unfeigned respect, with genuine affection, for those who do not agree with us. And it is possible also to say it, holding firm at the same time to the habit we have of tearing off from the building which we love so much the growths which hurt it. The chain of the anchor has to be constantly examined and carefully hosed to prevent the action of creatures that eat holes in it, or to wash away the thick incrustations of mud upon it. This is our Protestantism.

In regard to its ritual we stand in a remarkable position as to our influence upon the Churches we are creating in all lands. A characteristic note of our race is reticence in attitude, speech and gesture. We understand the love of stillness even to Quakerlike dimensions. No Moslem is more averse to emblems and figures than are many of our own Church. Some express reverence best by an attitude frozen into a statue by the realization of the Divine Presence, and they abhor all genuflexions or movements. This in part is one of our own experiences. Others delight in motion, colour, postures, varied vestments: we own to a perfect acquaintance with this temperament also and are prepared to go as far as we can to satisfy not a party but a temperament. At the same time and upon the whole I believe [xxvii/xxviii] that our own worship as a race will be characterized by a ritual which is sterner and more reticent than either that of the Latin or of the East. Early English architecture perhaps expresses our feeling better than Late Decorated. Writing as I am an Introduction to a collection of Essays on the growth of race Churches in many parts of the world, I press earnestly for this detachment of mind on the part of members of the Church of our own race in regard to the ritual of such Churches. What advice are we to give them? If we have an operative and trusted Consultative Council for the Anglican Communion, if it is to win its way by its wisdom to an authoritative Court of Appeal for our Communion, it must cultivate a detached frame of mind in regard to ritual and all outward signs of reverence. Thoughts of party txiumph must be banished. Temperament, climate, history, must be weighed. What is the appropriate ritual for the Catholic Church, part of the Anglican Communion for want of a better title at present, in China or in India? I can imagine the greatest possible differences existing between those two Churches of the future. W'e must not force temperate-clime predilections upon the equator, nor Western ideas upon Easterns. We must not recommend the Western form of Collect, for example, packed tight as it is with meaning in the smallest possible space, to the Oriental whose mouth is not compelled to be shut to keep out the cold and who loves flowing language as naturally as flowing garments. I have taken ritual as an example of a subject which is far-reaching, and chiefly in order to impress upon our race the inestimable value of our wide experience in temperaments, even to extremes, within the Church of our race, as one of our greatest assets in helping to create race Churches in all Continents. I mean, this question is not one that affects the Church of England alone within its own land, although no one can [xxviii/xxix] fail even there to realize what I have called our duality of temperament. It affects also the success or failure of our greatest work in the world, the establishment of a stable Christianity among every race. To seek to banish one temperament or the other from the Church, to pour scorn upon one side or the other, is to strike from our hands one of the best weapons we possess for some of the noblest as well as most delicate and most beneficent work we have to do in the world. As one called to scan the whole earth and its peoples and their needs in the cause of Christ's kingdom, I plead for the fullest imagination, the greatest possible power of sympathetic intuition, the assistance of all the varying temperaments of our race and in our Church to-day, not as hostile elements, but as necessary factors for the highest missionary work of the Church; and as I call attention to the wider outlook, and its lesson, to be duly weighed before any one dreams of narrowing the horizon of our life at home, it is not out of place to mention, with the high authority of Bishop Creighton, that it was a woman who first perceived that the English Church was to be more than a local Church of one race, and then it was an archbishop who met his death on the scaffold. The Bishop says--

"For some time, she (Queen Elizabeth) alone understood the difference between an English church and an Anglican Church. Owing to her resolution there was time for the lesson to be learned: and Laud was the first who fully apprehended its full significance. To him the Church of England was not, as it had been to his predecessors, an arrangement for expressing the religious consciousness of the English people. It was a system instinct with life, full of mighty possibilities with a world-wide mission peculiarly its own." ["Historical Lectures," Laud.]

Another note of the Church of our race is, of course, [xxix/xxx] its ingrained sense of national independence. It at once divides us, by what seems an impassable chasm, from the Latin Church. To us it is an axiom, born of temperament, that while the Church must be Catholic it must also be racially and nationally expressed and the government must be national, but with scope for the larger unities freely adapted. Every system has its own special dangers, a fact often forgotten by those who, while noting "some obstinacy among our own race, in regard to some of what I have called the larger unities, straightway pine for the Latin straight-jacket. Once more, as a student of missions, I ask the reader to note that if he obtained his wish, he would lose one of the best factors he possesses for the establishment of national Catholic Churches in many lands. But has not the Latin Church succeeded in fixing its straight-jacket upon every race in the world, and are they not well content to wear it? It is not for me to prophesy about the future of that marvellous engine of spiritual power, but I may suggest what, again, experience of many lands has taught me. The Time-Spirit is against the Latin Church among every race except the Latin. Slowly it is altering the extent of its influence in other than Latin regions, perhaps, unconsciously to itself. When the nations of the world have "found themselves" they will have the Catholic Church on a national foundation. Obviously, it is a much more difficult matter to educate races to be. independent, and, at the same time, to abide by great principles, than it is to hold them in some sort of pupillage. Compare the scope and difficulty of our work, politically, in India, for example, and the ideals of the Dutch in Java and Sumatra. We shall never obtain the true contribution of any Church to the Body of Christ till the Church of that land is racy of the soil while it remains Catholic.

I cannot better illustrate our own temper of personal and [xxx/xxxi] national independence than by relating the most interesting of many memorable interviews with the late Archbishop Temple. I had been asked by him to discover the best man to fill the vacancy in a certain See. I went to him with a name, saying to him at the same time, "He is one, your Grace, who needs to be definitely called by authority. If you will so call him and tell him he must go, he will obey your command. Will you call him?" The Archbishop paused, and then answered, "No." I was surprised, and ventured to inquire the reason. He answered, "Cannot go beyond the Prayer-book." I was mystified, and inquired what this opinion meant. He replied, "You see, the Prayer-book makes me ask, whenever I ordain a deacon or a priest, or when I consecrate a bishop, 'Art thou truly called?' I cannot go beyond the Prayer-book." Of course, I was exceedingly interested, as indeed every one always was with all the sayings of that great Englishman. I went home pondering the problem so presented to me, and began to concoct a theory. Was it possible that such questions were the unconscious but natural result of racial temperament? Was there any other ancient Ordinal which contained suoh questions? Was it left to the Church of the English race, when it became vocal in its own language, to add these questions, since every one of us is expected and taught to hold individual converse with his Heavenly Father, and has a right to be asked what message God has given to his individual conscience, before any one, however competent, commands him to act? In a word, is it out of the question to order a member of our race, as a general rule, to do a thing till the man himself has been consulted, for fear of defying some divine leading personal to himself? I applied to a Liturgiolist to answer the first question, and was assured by him that the questions referred to were unique, so [xxxi/xxxii] far as Ordinals of the Ancient Church were concerned. As to my theory he said it was of extreme interest. I offer it as a problem. If there is truth in it, it places another valuable asset in the hands of the Anglican Communion, and it seems to be a position clean contrary to the spirit of the Latin Communion, and a contribution of ours alone. Some day it may help us to solve one of the most serious problems of the world at this time, politically as well as ecclesiastically. Statesmen are, of course, perturbed by the action of the most advanced democratic ideals of the Western races of Europe as they touch the East, and its densely populated tropical lands. Up to the present time, it has been the custom for the clearest thinkers to prophesy that the Eastern races, especially in the tropics, as they have always been governed autocratically, will never desire any other form of government. The time has come when these certainties must be called in question; and, in the slow growth of a deeper sense of brotherhood, it may be the office of the British race, after many mistakes and much suffering to nations who to-day have no capacity for democracy, to help them to the gift of approximation to constitutional government.

But ought not the experiment to be tried first in the spiritual sphere, where the difficulties are less formidable? Ought not the Church of the race to show the way? Possibly we shall never receive the contribution of the Church of India, for example, to the Body of Christ till that Church is self-governed. No Church of the Catholic type is so fitted for such a work as ours. At the same time there are difficulties in the path of a Church on the Catholic foundation with a "deposit" of order and a definite temper, and a conception of the Kingdom of Christ as organically built up which must be conserved, which do not hamper our separated brethren. I believe it is true that after four centuries of Chinese missions the [xxxii/xxxiii] Latin Church has never ventured to consecrate a Chinese to the Episcopate. I think I am right also in asserting that in most lands no one can become a priest of the Latin Communion unless he can show three generations of Christian relatives. Obviously it is the power to transmit orders which constitutes the gravity of the problem for any part of the ancient Church. It is, of course, a remarkable fact that the Anglican Communion has begun by consecrating to the Episcopate members of an African race, and not of the great intellectual and highly civilized nations of Asia. The day has now come when the work, mainly of the splendid young athlete aforesaid, has forced to the front the question of a Church of China to be created by Chinese opinion, but obviously for the most part outside that conception of it which we hold to be essential to real stability. It is a problem to test the highest statesmanship of the bishops of our Communion in the Far East. How far can they aid in creating a Chinese Church which, in our opinion, cannot be stable doctrinally or organically? On the other hand, ought not the Church of our race to go all lengths to use its influence for the preservation of a Catholic foundation? No one approaches the problem quite as we do: not the Latin: for he does not know ecclesiastically the spirit of individual and national independence: not the separated brethren: for they do not appreciate the ancient Order of the Church, which in our opinion is the only guarantee for coming centuries of a sure hold upon the cardinal doctrines of the Faith. I cannot help applying to ourselves in the face of these tremendous problems words used of Lord Dufferin, albeit I do it with a sense of humour:--

"Civil he was and mild mannered in a sense, but one felt that there was steel beneath the velvet, and even that the velvet was rather thin. He had, so to speak, moved [xxxiii/xxxiv] about in powder mills for thirty or forty years, rarely causing an intentional (and then carefully circumscribed) explosion, but habitually correcting dangerous arrangements, and shifting lights and matches to a safe distance from the explosives." [Times Literary Supplement, February 10, 1905.]

It is not difficult to keep away from powder magazines and let them care for themselves, not generally with a successful issue: it is still easier to throw lighted matches carelessly about, disbelieving in the existence of the powder barrels. It is our special lot to have a most complete belief in the powder magazine, and also to take our share in preserving their forces for rightful purposes. Only on those terms shall we gain China's real contribution to the Church of the future.

Again, it is impossible to ignore a characteristic of our race which has been commented upon by scores of writers; I must leave it to each reader to decide whether it is a gift or a limitation. Let Admiral Mahan state the point: speaking of the British officer he says--

"To meet difficulties as they arise instead of by foresight, to learn by hard experience rather than by reflection or premeditation are national traits, just as is contempt for constitutions which are made, not evolved."

At the bottom of this attitude is our love for facts and our dislike of dreams: we call it common sense, others term it stupidity. Our respect for facts, and for facts only, as a basis of action is, I believe, one of the most precious of the contributions of the Church of the Par West to the Body of Christ. Such a temperament has obvious defects of a serious nature: but the criticism only means that our nature has to be supplemented by other qualities flung down by God in other regions where we can easily find them. Obviously our temper is a precious safeguard [xxxiv/xxxv] to the facts of the Faith upon which our religion is based. In spite of all who urge us to take refuge in ethical principles and sit loose to the facts of the Incarnation and Resurrection we answer doggedly, "If Christ hath not been raised your faith is vain." We do not believe that the Christian religion could be founded on mists or clouds, however beautiful. This is a contribution by us to the limitations of Indian thought, and without this supplement I believe a stable Church of India will never be built.

The same quality which protests against those who would turn facts into visions with a light heart makes us reject dreams added to facts as though they were facts. The Church of our race, for example, will never accept the materialization of fancy in the Latin Church, as in dogmas about the intermediate state, or the Assumption of the Virgin. We ask for proofs, and in ,'their absence we blow the dreams away, as paths built of vapour, and not macadamized roads into the unknown.

The same love of facts has its reflex action upon us, in a characteristic contentment with mystery where no facts are available. Most races, I think, are unhappy unless they possess a formulated theory about every question; and, consequently, we provoke them by what they call a stupid acquiescence in mystery and in a refusal to theorize. No English Churchman has taught us this lesson more splendidly than Dean Church: it is one of the most priceless lessons of his life that we should bravely accept all the facts of life, ignoring none of them, and when they bewilder us, just to keep on doggedly and trustfully waiting for light, conscious that the universe in whatever direction we look, intellectual, spiritual, physical, or even moral, is, perhaps, more dark than light: but the light is God's light, and what He has given is sufficient for our purposes. This is the English [xxxv/xxxvi] character raised to its finest type--the result of the highest imagination coupled with the sanest common sense. It will not be out of place to direct the reader to Dean Church's Sermon on Bishop Andrewes, in order to illustrate this subject, since his words are, I think, the most perfect representation extant of the characteristically English attitude towards the great problems of the Reformation, and, therefore, a description of the contribution of our Church to-day, to the Churches of other lands which are slowly coming to life under our guidance. ["Pascal and other Sermons."] At the same time, let us admit that it must be maddening to those who have perforce to formulate logical theories even at the expense of ignoring some facts, to be met with this dogged and to them unimaginative, temper. One Church says to us: "It is impossible to conceive of a revelation having been given us by God, without a definite infallible guide somewhere, to determine what that revelation is." We refuse to accept the logic. Another says to us: "Your Bible is not infallibly inspired word by word, therefore, you have no divine revelation." Our answer is, "We don't deal in 'therefores.'" Bishop Butler, of course, is another characteristic Englishman in his system of answering every objection against the Faith by supplying a greater difficulty in some other science. It is certainly provoking, but surely this temper must be a contribution to other Churches, who may be utterly different in mental and spiritual constitution, and who need such aid as we can give. Let us, at least, attempt to gauge some of the results already attained by the Church of our race, and I shall be pardoned if I connect with them some dreams of the future.

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