October 27th, 1874.
"CITIZEN" PRINTING AND PUBLISHING COMPANY, SPARKS STREET.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,
I have called you together at this Visitation by your own request; and my chief duty is to address you on those subjects which concern the whole Church, and are not exclusively Diocesan in their character. Indeed I could scarcely hope to throw much light on the discussion of matters pertaining to the comparatively narrow sphere of our own Diocese, because I speak to brethren who are co-workers with myself, and who are probably as well acquainted as I am with its wants and general condition. It is sufficient, therefore, to observe that the material prospects of the Diocese are such as to call for devout thankfulness, and above all, let us be thankful for that unity of spirit which continues to prevail, and is such a source of strength. Amid all the perplexities and cares of my office, I have over derived strength and courage from the knowledge that I preside over a body of Clergy who are in substantial unity with each other, and with their Bishop, who are ready to further his efforts by every means in their power, and to place the most favourable construction on his administration of the Diocese.
We can scarcely exaggerate the influence which the Church in England exercises over the Church in Canada. There is a natural desire to proceed pari passu with the Church in England, in every useful movement, and a willingness to be taught by the wider experience and the greater learning of the Mother Church. Hence arises our liability to share in her troubles, and to be taken to task for her supposed blemishes. The vibrations of the storms which disturb her are as sure to reach us, as the influence of her example in doing God's work, is sure to stimulate us. The disturbing influence popularly called Ritualism has agitated us much more by reason of apprehension lest it may be developed, than by any practical experience of its existence. The fact is, we are living in an age of intense religious and anti-religious activity. Now this activity in the Church always produces and ever will produce the cry that the Church is in danger, [3/4] from Popery, says one, from Infidelity, says another. The Church might be sick unto death from stagnation and sloth, and there never would be a voice raised, charging her with anything. Forty or fifty years ago the atmosphere of the Church was serenity itself. God forbid that she should ever again return to a similar calm. She had scarcely an existence abroad, and she was as still as death at home. That stillness is not the Church's normal state. From the days of Clemens Alexandrinus, She has been, H naus ouranodromousa, a ship sailing heavenward, never at rest, till she comes to the haven where she would be. The Church at rest is as unreal as "a painted ship upon a painted ocean." Her true position is a ship tossed upon, and buffetting with, "the boisterous waves of this troublesome world." That we live in troublous times, as is loudly stated, is no argument against the Church. It rather proves a return to her providential sphere. Contrast the Church to-day with the Church forty or fifty years ago. I cannot draw the contrast better than in the words of the late Prime Minister of England, words uttered without contradiction in the House of Commons. I wish, said he, "that every man in this House were as old as I am, for the purpose of knowing what was the condition of the Church of England forty or fifty years ago. At that time it was a scandal to Christendom. Its congregations were cold, dead, and irreverent. Its music was offensive to any one with a respect for the house of God. Its Clergy, with some numerous exceptions, belonging chiefly, though not exclusively, to what was then called the Evangelical School, its Clergy were, in numbers I should not like to mention, worldly-minded men, not conforming by their practice to the standard of their high office, but seeking to accumulate preferments with a reckless indifference to the care of the souls of the people, and on the whole continually declining in moral influence. This is the state of things from which we have escaped. And when I hear complaints as to the state of things in the present day, I cannot forget the enormous balance of good over the evils you suffer, which has been achieved by the astonishing transformation that has come over the character of the Clergymen of the Church of England. That change makes it now almost a moral certainty, that whenever you go into a parish, you will find the clergyman a man who, to the best of his ability, and with little sparing of his health, is spending morning, noon, and night upon the work of his calling, teaching the young, visiting the sick, preaching the word, and conforming, as far as he can, to the model his Master left him to follow." Such is the vivid contrast, and the splendid eulogium uttered by Mr. Gladstone; and he might have added the [4/5] astonishing practical results of this transformation of the character of the Anglican Clergy. More than nine thousand churches have been built, rebuilt, or restored, during the century. These have cost at least £18,000,000 sterling. All this was accomplished by voluntary contributions, with the exception of one million granted by Parliament at the outset. Within forty years, 3,200 new parishes have been established by the subdivision of existing ones, and more than one million and a half sterling has been contributed for their endowment from private benefactions. Five thousand one hundred new parsonage houses have been built, thus giving a clear gain of 5,100 resident clergy. Within 40 years there has been an increase of over 6,000 clergy, and according to the Privy Council Educational Report for 1873, there have been sunk in school building alone, three and a half millions of pounds, raised by voluntary contributions; while from the same Report we learn that the annual subscriptions of Churchmen for education, reach the amount of £389,769; add to this, that during the last 60 years, the National Society has dispensed one million for educational purposes, involving at least an outlay of £12,000,000 sterling in actual capital from other sources, and we have some idea what the Church has been doing for the religious education of the people. And why dwell upon the vast Missionary operations of our Mother Church, and her extension in the Colonial Empire? Strange indeed would it be, if amid such exuberance of activity there were no transgressions; amid such vitality, there were no excesses. This great reaction was too much for ill-balanced minds. All movements, where men are in earnest, have a tendency to excess. The great reformation of the last 40 years has had a tendency to ritualism, but it is as unfair to charge it with being the cause of false ritual as it would be to charge a Reform Bill with the growth of Communism. Still it cannot be denied, that there exists in the Church an active party, but numerically unimportant, who are striving to undo the principles of the English Reformation. In the controversies of our time, nothing is more remarkable than the comparative absence of reference or appeal to the practices of the Primitive Church. Extreme men of the Ritualistic School shun the appeal because they fear the process, while extreme men of the opposite school fear it for a different reason, that it would justify practices that they consider ritualistic, such as the godly discipline mentioned in the Commination Service, and the reservation of the Eucharistic Elements for the sick. But our safety for all that, consists in a return to first principles. If it be true that history repeats itself, it is more [5/6] especially true of Church history. The very same errors in the Church, and charges against her that prevailed 300 years ago, are rife at this moment, and the remedy used then, is the only remedy now, to make the doctrine and discipline of the Primitive Church the test of orthodoxy. It cannot be too seriously pondered on by ourselves, or too earnestly taught to the people, that the Anglican Reformation did not pretend for one moment to make or found the Church of England.
The want of such teaching has resulted in the popular persuasion that there is no longer such a sin as schism. Many pray to be delivered from a sin which in their religious system cannot exist. Leaving a Church nowadays amounts to no more than taking your name off a hook, or being read out of one meeting house, only to join another forthwith. More blasphemous still--it is avowed that schisms have their advantage, that various and conflicting bodies provoke each other by a wholesome rivalry, and keep one another up to the mark, in zeal and efficiency. Popular teaching goes so far as to say that our Lord's commands and prayers for unity meant only unity in essentials, but not unity in common worship or in membership of one body, and that in point of fact there is substantial unity among the various Protestant denominations, because their differences are non-essential or trivial. But surely the smaller the pretext for schism, the greater the sin, if schism be a sin at all.
In this City, not long since, a few secessionists justified their conduct by the example of Latimer and Ridley, who, as the schismatics allege, being members of the Church of Rome, became members of the Church of England, or in other words left one Church and set up another. This delusion which confounds Englishmen with Italians, and cannot draw a distinction between communion with a church abroad, and membership in the Church at home, is both wide spread and popular. And yet nothing can be plainer than the identity of the Church of. England before and after her great Reform. Ridley and Latimer were born, lived, and died members of the Church of England. The very Preface to our Prayer Book tells all the members of the Church that, "The service in this Church of England, these many years, hath been read in Latin to the people, which they understood not." These wordy were written, (probably by Cranmer), A. D. 1549, and the Pre-Reformation Church is described as "this Church of England." The Churches and their Ministers continued one and the same before and after those gradual changes which, [6/7] taken together, were not the formation but the Re-formation of the Church.
Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and others, had not the remotest idea that they were leaving the Church of Rome, and joining or forming a Church of England, but they all by their lives and deaths purified the Church of England from Papal errors, and even that which was most novel--the Liturgy in the vulgar tongue--it was so substantially identical with the old Liturgy, that Cranmer, long after the Preface to the Prayer Book was written, offered to prove that "the order of the Church of England set out by authority of Edward the Sixth, was the same that had been used in the Church for fifteen hundred years past." I am quite aware that I am speaking truths well known to you all, Brethren of the Clergy, but I desire to ask whether such obvious truth should not be taught to our children, as supplementary to the Church Catechism. I know that even among the Laity of superior knowledge in other matters, there is a lamentable confusion of ideas on this subject. Many a one would be surprised to hear that there were no members of the Church of Rome in England till the tenth year of Elizabeth, when emissaries from abroad started a Branch of the Italian Church in England.
All our Acts of Parliament, all our Formularies, all our standard Divines, unite in proving that the Reform consisted in bearing witness to old truths which had long been concealed, and in asserting old rights and liberties long unenjoyed. This distinction is very obvious in the history of our civil constitution, but is lost sight of in our religious constitution. No scholar would assert that the British constitution began with, or was created by Magna Charta, A. D. 1215. It was not a new code of law. It was no new attempt at legislation. On the contrary, it was a declaration of old laws which had been broken, and a correction of abuses which had grown out of feudal customs and the despotism of the first William and his successors. The great charter had nothing to do with creating English liberties, it simply re-established ancient, indisputable, though continually violated public rights. Now apply these facts to illustrate the operation of our religious charters at the Reformation. The Reformation commenced with the assertion of the principle that every National Church has authority to regulate its own affairs without foreign interference. It in fact only re-affirmed the first and last clauses of Magna Charta, "That the English Church shall be free, and shall have her whole rights and her liberties intact;" [7/8] and again, "Wherefore, we will and firmly enjoin that the Church of England be free." These articles of the charter were made more than 300 years before the Reformation, but had been rendered null and void through the despotism of the Bishops of Rome, exactly as the other provisions of the charter had been violated by the despotism of William the Conqueror, to the overthrow of old Saxon liberties and "free customs." As Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, by the discovery of an old charter of Henry the First, was mainly instrumental in asserting the civil liberties of the English people, so Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was a leading spirit in re-asserting the liberties of the English Church, by appealing to Primitive and Apostolical practice, as against what was Papal and Mediaeval. In short, whenever an apology was demanded for the English Reformation, the answer from Parliament and Convocation was, The Primitive Church. The New Testament itself was appealed to on the ground that it contains the earliest authentic account of the doctrine and discipline of the Primitive Church. In the legislation of Church and State in the direction of a Reformation, we find everywhere a deference to what is truly Catholic, that is, Primitive. In the Act against appeals to Rome, 24 Henry 8, c. 12; in the Act against Annates, 23 Henry 8, c. 33; in the Act against Peter pence, 25 Henry 8, c. 21, we find the name Catholic assumed and avowedly appropriated. There is no force in the objection that these Acts of Parliament were passed under Henry VIII., who was himself a Romanist, though not a Papalist. It does not detract from the value of our civil liberties that they are associated with the name of a despicable tyrant, King John; neither should we disparage our position as Catholic and Primitive Churchmen, because the assertion of that position is associated with the name of a brutal tyrant, King Henry VIII. Nis successors maintained the same ground. The Act of Uniformity (1552) which authorized the second Prayer Book of Edward VI., declares of the first book, that it was a "godly order," "agreeable to the word of God and the Primitive Church," and the word Primitive is defined by the Act passed in the first year of Ed. VI. c. 1, to mean "the space of 500 years and more after Christ's ascension." The Act touching heresy, in the reign of Elizabeth, provides that "nothing shall be adjudged to be heresie, but only such as have heretofore been determined, ordered or adjudged to be heresie by the authority of the canonical Scriptures, or by the first four General Councils, or any of them," &c., and the Act of Uniformity of Charles II., says of the order of Common Prayer in use in the reign of Elizabeth, that [8/9] it was "agreeable to the Word of God, and usage of the Primitive Church."
The legislation of the Spirituality was in exact accordance with that of the Temporality. The preface to the first book of Ed. VI., says: "Here you have an order for prayer (as touching the reading of the Holy Scriptures) much agreeable to the mind and purpose of the old Fathers." The Convention of A.D. 1571, which ordered subscription to the 39 articles, decreed that nothing should be taught as an Article of Faith, "except what is supported by Scripture and Catholic tradition." The "Apology" of Bishop Jewell may well be considered as an authorized manifesto of the principles of the Reformation, and it is based wholly on the fact that the Reformation was a return to the order of the Primitive Church. He says: "Hoc tamen unum non possunt dicere, nos vel a verbo Dei, vel ab Apostolis Christi, vel a primitiva Ecclesia descivisse." In harmony with this teaching, we find the thirtieth Canon of the Church of England affirming "that it was not the purpose of the Church of England to forsake or reject the churches of Italy, France, Spain and Germany, in all things that they held and practiced, and only departed from them in those particular points wherein they were fallen, both from themselves in their ancient integrity, and from the Apostolical Churches which were their first founders." So completely is the cause of the Anglican Reformation identified with this principle that the Puritan historian Neal is obliged to say, that "the English Reformers wished to depart no further from the Church of Rome, than she did from the Primitive Church." But I need not adduce farther proof; suffice it to say, that the Church, in the preface "Concerning the Service," justifies her Ritual by an appeal to the "godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers," in the Commination Service regrets the absence of the "Godly Discipline" of the Primitive Church, in her Ordination Service refers for proof of a threefold Ministry "to Holy Scripture and to ancient authors," and in her 24th article appeals to the Primitive Church to justify public prayer in the language understood by the people; all going to prove the accuracy of the answer made by Queen Elizabeth to the Roman Catholic Princes, "that there was no new faith propagated in England, no religion set up but that which was commanded by our Saviour, practiced by the Primitive Church, and unanimously approved by the Fathers of the best antiquity," From this grand basis of truth there is, thank God, no probability of our being removed, since the Lambeth Conference, consisting of 78 bishops of [9/10] the Anglican Church, solemnly resolved and recorded their conviction, that "Unity will be most effectually promoted by maintaining the Faith in its purity and integrity as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the Primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils." To the Primitive Church we owe the New Testament, which, I need hardly say, did rot fall down from Heaven already printed, but owes its canonicity and consequent authority to its acceptance and endorsement by the same Church and age that gave us the Creeds. To that Church therefore let us defer with humility.
I have dwelt on this subject at some length, because I believe that many of the controversies of our day would have been avoided or their bitterness greatly mitigated, had the doctrines and discipline of Primitive Christendom been kept well in view. I could understand and even sympathize with one who insisted on making it a point of conscience to maintain such practices of the Primitive Church as the Reservation of the Eucharistic elements for the sick, or the anointing enjoined by St. James, but I cannot understand how anyone can elevate to the dignity of a conscientious scruple, something that found no place in the purest and best antiquity. We should hear much less about conscientious peculiarities, if, before we pleaded conscience, we took care to inform conscience. And let me explain my meaning by a case in illustration. It may be considered a crucial test of the principles I am urging. An excitement out of all proportion to the numerical strength, or the theological weight of those who caused it, has been not long since created by a petition from English clergymen in favor of Auricular Confession. It is urged that habitual Auricular Confession and private absolution are essential to the soul's health; that the vague and indefinite Precatory Form of Absolution is almost nugatory, and that the Form in the firstperson "I absolve thee," is necessary if not to validity, yet certainly to ghostly comfort. These points are maintained with warmth, and made matters of conscience. Let us then apply the touchstone of the Primitive Church to these statements. Now if it be true, that such auricular habitual confession is essential to spiritual health, is it not an inconceivable thing that the Primitive Church should be absolutely silent regarding it? In the prime records of that Church, the New Testament, there is not a precept, a hint, a trace of any such requirement. What an injurious reflection is thrown on our Canonical rule of Faith, that it has failed to recommend such a means of grace, such a source of spiritual strength! [10/11] Fasting, almsgiving, communion, are all found to be urged, but not so much as an allusion to habitual Auricular Confession and private Absolution. And what shall I say of the disparagement of the declaratory Form of Absolution in use in the Church? Can I make it a point of conscience that the Form " Absolvo to " be used, when I know that for one thousand years after the ascension, no other was used but a precatory one? I do not mean to convey the idea that the Form "I absolve thee " is wholly objectionable, because it is allowable and allowed by the Church in the exceptional case of the visitation of the sick, but I feel. bound to protest against claiming for such a form and such doctrine, a conscientious observance, on all occasions of confession, when neither the one nor the other were ever heard of till the eleventh century, and the form in the first person has never been in use in the Eastern Church at all. Our Anglican Reformers could scarcely, on their own principles, have failed to retrace their steps in the direction of the Primitive Church on the subject of Confession and Absolution. They adopted the rule that " although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins yet ought we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together;" they decided that Confession, (with the two exceptions, of preparation for Holy Communion, or for death) should be in general terms, and in the Congregation. Their doctrine is, that when with a pure heart, a man makes a general confession of sin, and while doing so calls to mind the sins that "most easily beset him, and applies the language of the general confession to those particular and specias sins, and the Priest pronounces the declaratory Absolution, he rise, from his knees a forgiven man. Their doctrine is, that the Declaratory Form when pronounced by the Priest to such contrite hearts conveys as full and true a pardon as was ever conveyed by an Ambassador from God. Public Confession is what is everywhere recommended by the old Fathers, and. of private habitual Confession and its alleged sacramental character, I may say with the great Hooker, "they have youth in their countenance, antiquity knew them not, it never dreamed, nor thought of them."
It may however be urged, that this anti-primitive doctrine is a wholesome one and useful--one of those ceremonies of which it may be truly said, that it is not necessary that they should "be in all places one, and utterly like." But private judgment of this kind must give way to the known decision of the Church. In the office for the visitation of the sick, in the first book of Edward the 6th, the Rubric prescribing the Form of Absolution, directed "that the same [11/12] form of absolution shall be used in all 'private confessions.'" This Rubric was deliberately dropped from the Second Book of Edward, the Church thus withdrawing her sanction from a custom which was plainly repugnant to the usage of the Primitive Church.
I do not intend to endeavor to refute the arguments that are used in justification of Auricular Confession, and derived from pleas of expediency and morality, because my object is rather to illustrate the advantage of appealing to the Primitive Church in such a controversy. I cannot, however, forbear from remarking, that judging from the arguments used by the upholders of the expediency of Auricular Confession, one would imagine that the Church of England had never tried the system and found it utterly wanting. The Church certainly gave it a long trial, from the fourth Lateran Council, A.D. 1215, to the time of the Second Book of Edward VI., A.D. 1552, and the results were not satisfactory in the promotion of true religion and virtue; and if we examine into the religious and social condition of those countries where the system of private confession prevails most, such as Spain, Italy, and Austria, we cannot assert their superiority to the condition of nations where the system is almost unknown.
The Confession then, brethren, which the Church teaches, is voluntary, not compulsory; it is made in the Congregation, not in the Confessional. To these rules there are but two exceptions, in the case of those "who cannot quiet their own conscience," so as to receive Holy Communion, and of those who are about to depart this life. These few and notable exceptions prove the Church's rule to be, as regards Confession, such as f have described; and I need not add, That the ministerial office of Absolution is performed, when we Baptize "for the remission of sins," and minister God's word and sacraments.
This will content all sober-minded sons of the Church of England, who will not endeavour to impose a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear, and which (in the words of a living Bishop [Bishop of Exeter]) "in many cases fosters weakness of character, causes a terrible temptation to falsehood; sometimes leads a man to dwell on what he ought to cast out of his soul with resolute aversion; sometimes leads to very dangerous intimacies, and is perpetually running [12/13] the risk of interfering with domestic life, by bringing an outside influence between those who ought to deal directly with each other."
The demand for Auricular Confession by a few of the Clergy is but an instance of a very general blunder to which the Church is at all times liable. It is forgotten that the plan of salvation is a system as definite and regular as the starry firmament. There is the "proportion of Faith." But when a man finds some doctrine that has either been forgotten or under-valued, and when moreover, he thinks that it suits his own particular case, he dwells and broods on it everything else fades away in comparison, and he calls it the Gospel. The Wesleyan Movement at the outset, took hold of Church discipline and it became an idol. The Simeonite Movement took hold of the forgotten doctrine of the Atonement, but itself forgot that there were other important doctrines of the New Testament. In our day, some of the Clergy, finding that personal religious intercourse between Pastor and people was almost forgotten, wish to revive habanal resort to confession and private absolution. Others seeing that the awful neglect of holy Communion demanded remedy, have dwelt so long and earnestly on the benefit of that Holy Sacrament, that in their system of religion it has assumed the character of being all in all. The idolizing of the doctrine, the sermon, the man, or the sacrament, is perilous in the extreme. Fever heat is sure to be succeeded by a chill or something worse, unless the whole plan of salvation as given in. the Creeds, be kept steadily in view, in its wonderful harmony and completeness. That Church or that man which sets up an idol in his heart for monopoly of the affections, even though the idol be an item of revealed will, has erred from the Faith. A reaction against the one-sided theology is sure to set in, and what began by being idolized, ends in being contemned. For more than 300 years before the Reformation the Eucharist was held to be the great, indeed the greatest of all revealed truths, overshadowing the residue of a Christian man's belief, just as justification by faith only, became in after times the only doctrine worth holding. Well, what resulted? Two years before the first prayer book of Edward VI, profanity had reached that point, that an act of parliament was passed to protect the blessed Sacrament from profanation. The first statute of Edward VI., in enacting a penalty against speaking irreverently of the Holy Sacrament, thus speaks, "yet the said Sacrament hath been of late marvellously abused by such manner of men before rehearsed, who of wickedness or else of ignorance and want of learning, for certain abuses heretofore committed of some, in [13/14] misusing thereof, have condemned in their hearts and speech the Whole thing, and contemptuously depraved, despised or reviled the same most holy and blessed Sacrament, and not only disputed and reasoned irreverently and ungodly of that most high mystery, but also in their sermons, preachings, readings, lectures, communications, arguments, talks, rhimes, songs, plays or jests, name or call it by such vile and unseemly words as Christian ears abhor to hear rehearsed; for reformation whereof be it enacted," &c. 1 Stat. 1 Ed. 6, c. I. A. D. 1547. Now, if the highest of all the means of grace will not endure idolization, what shall be said of pious opinions like Auricular Confession and Private Absolution. But to return:
I have applied the test of the Primitive Church to a point of doctrine, let me draw your attention to a point of ritual which is made, I regret to say, a point of conscience also,--I mean the position of the Celebrant in Holy Communion. Two years ago, I ventured to assert the law on the subject, namely, that the legal position was, standing at the north end of the Lord's Table. To the legal point I shall not again refer, but I would remind you that I said also, that were the position of the Celebrant left to my private judgment, I should stand behind and not before the Holy Table, with my face to the people That was, I believe, the position in the Primitive Church, and enabled the people to see more fully one of the most beautifully symbolical acts in the whole service, the fracture of the bread; an act of so much significance that in the Primitive Church, the Holy Sacrament took its name from it, and was called "the Breaking of Bread."
It cannot be disputed, that the Holy Communion has a sacrificial aspect. There are "alms and oblations" of bread and wine, together with "ourselves, our souls and bodies" offered and presented. It is therefore a commemorative sacrifice in which we plead the merits of the One Great Sacrifice once for all offered on Calvary. We present the elements of bread and wine as a "memorial before God," and the whole act partakes of the character of a sacrifice, though the idea of death or something immolated is wholly wanting, because He who was both Victim and Priest " being raised from the dead, dieth no more." We may therefore reasonably be said to celebrate a memorial of a sacrifice, in the Eucharist, and on an altar too, for St. Paul tells us that "we have an altar of which they have no right to eat who serve the Tabernacle," and even Richard Baxter admitted that St. Paul here spoke of the Lord's table. In another place the same Apostle says "ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's [14/15] table and of the table of devils;" but the tables of devils were the heathen altars, so that the Lord's table and the Lord's altar are convertible terms. On the Lord's table there is the celebration of the Memorial of a Sacrifice, but neither the atoning propitiation, nor the repetition of the one great Sacrifice, while the spiritual and real presence of Christ intensifies the Memorial act. It is doubtless the influence of this belief that makes some of our Brethren stand "before the table," in such a way as to turn their backs to the people, because in their view, this is the appropriate position of a sacrificing Priest, and becomes therefore to them a matter of conscience. But let us see what was the position of one who offered the bloody sacrifice "to make atonement for him," under the Levitical Law? Moses commanded, "He shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord." (Lev. i. 11.) In the Tephilloth or "Daily Form of Prayers read at this day in the synagogues of the German and Polish Jews," we find in their readings, great stress laid upon the position of the offerer of sacrifice. After reciting the command to offer the two lambs, for a continual burnt offering, they add, "And he shall kill it on the altar, northward, before the Lord." On the first day of the month, they add the following: "Which are the places of sacrificing? The holy of holiest, their sacrifice was towards the north; the bullock and the goat on the day of atonement their sacrifice was in the north; and the reception of their blood in the vessel of service, in the north." The same directions are given regarding sin-offerings of persons and of the congregation, they were at the north. These injunctions were confined to the most holy sacrifices. The thank-offering and peace-offering being less holy, their sacrifice might be in any part of the court. This and much more to the same effect might be quoted to prove that under the Levitical Dispensation, at all events, the sacrificial position was at the north and not at the west side of the altar, probably because the north was the quarter from which evil was supposed to come, and the sacrifice was offered to avert it. What, however, was the usage of the Primitive Church? I said in my last charge that I believed it to be, standing behind the altar, with the face of the Celebrant towards the people. I am glad to learn that this view has been sustained by the high authority of the Bishop of Lincoln. He says, "In ancient churches, the bishop sat at the east end, in the central point of the apsis, with the Presbyters on each side of him, and with his face looking westward. The Church of St. Ambrose, at Milan, preserves this arrangement. This was the case also in the Eastern Church as well as the Western. You may remember the interesting [15/16] description of the great Christian Father, St. Basil, in his Cathedral at Caesarea on the Festival of the Epiphany, A. D. 371. The Arian Emperor Valens, attended by a guard, came to the Church in order to make an offering at the Holy Communion. Let me transcribe the account of that event from the pages of a learned Roman Catholic historian (the Duc de Broglie) whose work is preceded by a recommendation from Pope Pius IX. Ike thus writes:--"The Emperor entered the Church in which there was a large congregation, and at the end of the nave was St. Basil standing with his face to the people and his eyes fixed on the altar." There he stood in the act of consecrating the Holy Eucharist. And the writer adds, "It is well known that in the churches of that time, as in the Basilicas of Rome, the altar is so arranged that the Celebrant may have his face turned to the people, and this is the manner in which Mass is still said at Rome, in the Papal ceremonies." The Roman Basilica was the original type of the Anglo-Saxon Church. The first church which Augustine consecrated in Canterbury was an old Roman Temple, and the first cathedral of stone was built on the model of a Roman Basilica. " In imitation of St. Peter's, as it at that time existed in Rome, the altar was erected, not at the east, but at the west end of the Church, At the east end was the apse, where stood Augustine's chair, in, which each successive Archbishop sat, his Clergy arranged in a semicircle on either side. It was the ancient form of the Eastern Church, not yet discarded in the West." [Vide Hook's Lives of Archbishops of Canterbury, Vol. i. 124.] We may plainly infer, therefore, that when Augustine left his chair to consecrate the Eucharist, he must have stood behind the Altar in order to pray or consecrate eastward--in any case, he must have faced the people.
Now, if the position of the Celebrant is to be made a matter of conscience at all, have not they who consecrate at the north end, following the Levitical Church, or they who consecrate behind the Altar, following the Primitive Church, a better right to plead conscience, than they who consecrate at the west side, following a more modern usage? But, it is said, if the compilers of our Rubrics meant the north end, why did they not say so, instead of saying the north side? [The Rev. Malcolm McColl says in a letter to The Guardian, May 13, 1874. "As a matter of fact, the Purchas judgment has legalized the only position which has ever been considered as essentially a sacrificial one." He is quite right.]
We must remember that a table has four sides, and it does not [16/17] follow because two of them are narrower than the others, that they are not sides, or must be called ends. In the Prayer Book of A.D. 1637, put forth by Charles the First for use in the Church of Scot land, the Rubric at the beginning of the Communion Office is as follows: "The Presbyter standing at the north side or end thereof." Again it should be remembered that the compilers of the Rubric had to select an expression which would suit the two legal positions of the Altar itself. At the time the Rubrics were revised, in A.D. 1661, the Altar was, in most of the Parish Churches, placed "in the body of the Church" longwise, and in many, Cathedrals, "in the Chancel" crosswise. [Vide Bishop of Lincoln's Twelve Addresses.] The term therefore, north end, would not have suited both these cases, but the term north side does. There is also a good deal made out of the phrase, "before the table," but if we consult the Prayer Book put forth by the Non jurors A.D, 1718, (and they were no friends of Puritanism,) we have the following Rubric which shows how they understood the words "before the table." Note--"Whenever the Priest is directed to turn to the altar" (as he is in the Prayer of Consecration) "or to stand or kneel before it, it is always meant that he should stand or kneel on the north side thereof."
There is one other plea urged for the eastward position which I must notice--the consensus of the vast majority of Christians in its behalf--that the Anglican Church has no right to be singular in this matter, and that ever since Primitive times the great majority of Churches conformed to the position eastward.
To this I reply, that the Primitive Christians always prayed towards the east as the source of light, where the Sun of Righteousness arose, and that therefore the eastward position had no reference whatever to the Eucharist, but to all prayer. And indeed nothing can be more appropriate than that minister and people should all look in the same direction in common prayer, whether it be east or west. The minister is but the leader of a deputation into the presence of the great King, to present a petition, and therefore all should face the same way. So natural a thing is this found to be, that in many. churches, especially in Deland, when the minister says "let us pray," all the people turn round and look the same way as he does, that is, westward; the only difference being that in this case they all look the same way, with the minister behind the people, in the other case, all look the same way with the minister in front of the people. The custom therefore of standing with the back to the [17/18] people, seems to have nothing to do with the matter in hand. The Priest thus stood, not because he was consecrating or sacrificing, but because he was praying--offering up the Prayer of Consecration. But the naturalness of this position in the Prayer of Consecration is not at all so apparent as it is in Common Prayer. The Consecration is, it is true, a prayer, but it is something more. There is in it something both for God to hear, and for man to see. It is made up of prayer and of manual acts, and therefore when regarded in this light, can most appropriately be offered up at the north end of the altar, thus avoiding the unnatural position of praying towards the people, and yet allowing them to see the manual acts of Consecration. It is very true that in mediaeval times, when gross and carnal ideas of the Eucharist were prevalent, the eastward position became associated with those views, "but from the beginning it was not so." No weight then can be attached to the prevalence of the eastward position in the Church abroad, and none should be allowed to the exceptional cases of some parish churches in England, where the custom is said to have prevailed since the Reformation. This assertion may or may not be true, but the Cathedrals have preserved ecclesiastical tradition much more accurately than parish churches, and there is not, I believe, a cathedral in England where the eastward position was observed since the Reformation, till within the last ten or twelve years.
The conclusion, then, which I arrive at is, that there is no valid. ground for making the position of the Celebrant a matter of conscientious scruple at all, and I shall be rejoiced if a revision of the present Rubric shall relieve the scruples of all, by the adoption of the Rubric in the Scotch Prayer Book of A. D. 1637, which says of the Celebrant, "He shall stand at such a part of the Holy Table where he may with the more ease and decency use both his hands."
I turn now to a subject of the greatest possible importance to the Church,--the need of some machinery, whereby the Church people of our country should be taught the certainty of those things in which they have been instructed, some means whereby they shall be convinced that Church doctrine is Bible truth. How is it that the Church has lost members of long standing, to such sects as those of Darby and Cummins? I can give but one answer, ignorance of what the Church really teaches. Many a Churchman stumbles on some phrase in the Prayer Book which is quite new to him, absolution, confession, regeneration, and not having been taught the true [18/19] Catholic interpretation of these words, confounds them with Romish or Puritanical views, and becomes lost to the Church. It cannot be too much insisted on, that popular theology is seldom or never identical with standard theology. It was the great object of our blessed Lord to teach, that the popular beliefs of his day were not in harmony with the Law and the Prophets. Even in the Primitive Church we find the same phenomenon, as we may gather from Dean Stanley's Lecture on the Catacombs. Speaking of the evidences they furnish, the Dean says, "they differed widely from the representations of contemporaneous authors, and gave a striking example of the divergence that existed between the actual living popular belief; and that which was to be found in books." It has ever been so; the popular living belief of an average Romanist can scarcely be made consistent with the decrees of the Council of Trent. The common run of Presbyterians and Methodists neither know nor regard a great deal to be found in the Westminster Confession and Wesley's Sermons. It is no wonder then, if we find that an average Churchman's theology does not harmonize with the Book of Common Prayer. I may go further and say, that the average Protestant's faith has neither been derived from, nor moulded by, the New Testament. Although this is an age of extraordinary activity in printing and circulating the Scriptures, yet I believe that the religious views of the masses are derived, so far as any system is concerned, not from an intelligent study of the New Testament, but from such sources as the Pilgrim's Progress, Paradise Lost, Sectarian Tracts, and the "Times" newspaper; and this fatal error is fostered by the pulpit. To be a popular preacher, you must go with popular theology, and keep standard theology in the background. Sermons closely reasoned out of Scripture and the Fathers, are not poi;ular. Congregations insist on making the Lord's Day a day of rest for their minds, as well as for their bodies; they listen to be excited or amused, rather than to be instructed, for instruction requires a mental effort. Popularity seeking Preachers are, however, not the only ones who foster this disease; men of a loftier type forget that most of what they know themselves, on account of their special training, is quite a novelty to their hearers. St. Paul told the Hebrews that they needed that some one would instruct them in the first principles of Christianity, and there are multitudes who resemble them in the Church to-day. And an evil of great magnitude arises in consequence. People waking up for the first time to the fact that their Shibboleths cannot by possibility he made to agree with the Prayer Book, cry out for a revision of it in their [19/20] own favor. They do not know that, while the Faith delivered to the Saints has been stereotyped and fossilized in Creeds and Formularies, the phraseology of popular religion is as shifting as words that change their meaning. The term Regeneration, for instance, has not changed its meaning in the Prayer Book, but it has in popular theology, which makes it to mean conversion, a word of great popularity, though it occurs but once in the New Testament, and in neither the New Testament nor the Prayer Book is applied to Baptized Christians. [Methodists hold the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, and have adopted that part of the Church's article which refers to it. "It is a sign of the regeneration or the new birth." (Vide Doctrines and Discipline of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, page 10.) The Presbyterians hold the same doctrine "Baptism is the sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his engrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, &c.," and again, The grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the HOLY GHOST, &c." (Westminster Confession, Chapter 28, 1, 6.)] Or it may be that offence is given. through the refusal of churchmen to be classed with the common crowd of many-hued Protestants. The taunting challenge is often given, "Let them tell us whether they are Protestants or Romanists," implying that the whole Christian world must be one or the other. But the Churchman refuses positively to accept either as his appropriate designation. He certainly is not a Romanist, but then Protestant does not distinguish him from any given heretic. He thinks and justly, that he might as fairly be challenged to say whether he was a fool or a philosopher, as whether he is a Protestant or a Romanist. He hopes that he is not a fool, he knows that he is not a philosopher, but he thinks that he is a man of common sense. He declines therefore to be placed on the horns of a dilemma which no one moderately versed in Church history would have proposed. But he has stronger reasons for his position than because the challenge is illogical. The name of Protestant is associated in the popular mind with the sixteenth century. It is not older than the Diet of Spires, A.D. 1529; consequently the vulgar error that the Church of England arose at or about that time, will be fostered, if we accept Protestant as sufficiently descriptive of the Church. And it is most providential that our Formalaries have avoided the word. It is not to be found in the Book of Common Prayer. In all the Acts of Parliament from the date of Magna Charta till now, the Church has had but one title--the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. Once the word Protestant slipped into an Act of Parliament touching the Canadian Church, and the result of using such an ambiguous term was the loss of the Clergy Reserves. Do we not then protest against the errors of the [20/21] Church of Rome? In reply, we refer the questioner, if he be serious, to the 39 Articles and to Church History, and are quite willing that others shall have the name of Protestant, while we have the thing. Protesting is about as idle a business as we can be engaged in. Therefore the Church, true to her own dignity, does not enter protests, but she reaffirms old truths, and asserts that some Romish errors are "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits," and that others are "plainly repugnant to the Word of God." A faint echo to the soundness of our position in refusing a merely negative appellation, is found in the fact that the Protestant sects themselves do not adopt the name as their legal title. We do not hear of the Protestant Methodist Church, or the Protestant Presbyterian Church. It is true that our sister Church in the United States assumed as her legal title, the name of Protestant Episcopal, and therein made, in my opinion, a mistake; as the Protestantism of an Episcopal Church must be rather dubious, when we cannot assure ourselves of it without the name advertising it. But strange to say an attempted schism from that Church in Kentucky, no sooner left her for not being Protestant enough, than itself dropped the name in favor of Reformed Episcopal. Popular errors then, being greatly fostered by language which is constantly shifting in meaning, should be watched carefully, and in the instance I am considering, should be guarded against by inculcating on the minds of those committed to our care, that they are members of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND, a name than which there is none more honorable, implying Communion with that Branch of God's Church which has a legal and historical descent from the Apostolic and Primitive Church. The drift of popular religion is always toward error, making both the Word of God and Church History void through its traditions. What then is the remedy for this evil? I know of none, but that of the Clergy making their sermons more didactic in this particular, and using Bible Classes and their Sunday Schools for the same purpose. Revision will never mend the evil, and even if it could, the Provincial Synod has made such an operation as that now being attempted by the General Convention of the Irish Church, practically impossible. There would have been no demand for revision in the Irish Church, had the means I recommend to you, my Brethren, been judiciously employed; for the Prayer Book does not require to be revised, but to be explained and illustrated from the Word of God. I know that there is a class of Revisionists whose only aim is to eliminate from the Prayer Book the supernatural and mysterious, and so we find cries for Revision to be coincident with a decided growth of [21/22] scepticism. Take away, say they, all allusions to holy mysteries in the Lord's Supper, because there is no mystery about it. To them the Sacraments and Confirmation and Ordination are mere forms, and nothing more. Revisionists who are mere Formalists can never be got rid of so long as Infidelity exists. But Revisionists whom pure ignorance has blinded, may be largely reduced in number by the faithful ministrations of the Clergy in the Pulpit, the Sunday School, and the Bible Class.
In conclusion, let me express my belief that the times are hopeful for a Christian. There is immense activity for the cause of Christ and the Church, though there be mighty powers exerted against both. Philosophy falsely so called, is pre-disposing many to unbelief; but judging from the past, our belief is firm that there will be no variance found in the end, between Scripture and science. The novel dogmas propounded in our day by the Church of Rome, will drive many to total unbelief, but on the other hand there has arisen in consequence a gleam of light in Europe--the old Catholic movement--the first attempt at a Reformation of the Latin Church, on the basis of the Anglican Reformation, a Reformation from within, grounded on appeal to the Primitive Church and the undisputed General Councils. There is, too, in America, a groping after unity. Men are feeling after, if haply they may find it. Newspapers and itinerant Evangelists, Preachers and Conferences keep for ever insisting that there is no Sectarianism nor Denominationalism in the New Testament but they do not tell us, why then there are Sects and Denominations. The reason is, that while the mental vision is clear enough, the moral vision is blinded. Pride, love of singularity, self-seeking, are the fleshy lusts that war against the soul, and tempt Christians to range themselves under Paul and Cephas, Luther and Calvin, Wesley, and a multitude of minor leaders. Well did St. Paul class heresy among "the works of the flesh." Let then our prayers arise to God, that "the fruit of the Spirit" may be more and more manifested in the promotion of unity in the truth. The Great Head of the Church will hasten it in His own time; but let us have faith, though unity be deferred; faith in the promise of Christ that He will be with His Church even to the end of the age, faith in our own Branch of it, which, though harassed through her long career by fightings without and fears within, possesses a salient spring of life which will last till the Lord come. Amen.