AN APPEAL TO ANGLICANS
WITH A NOTE ON THE
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2015
THE recent discussions arising out of the proceedings at Kikuyu has led to a request, courteously granted by the proprietors of the Contemporary Review, for a reprint of this article, which they published in a slightly abridged form, in May, 1912. It had been read previously in the same year at a Conference at Cambridge in February, and at a gathering of Berkshire clergy in April. A few paragraphs have been added dealing with "The Proposed Scheme of Federation."
COMITY, CONCORD AND
THE purpose of this paper is to urge some facts, to probe some assumptions, and to examine a situation in which we acquiesce, as a rule, with too little inquiry. If in what follows some statements may seem to be put without sufficient caution, it is not through ignorance or contempt of counterbalancing considerations, but in order not to overload the argument with incessant qualifications; nor is there much doubt that some of the authors quoted would be likely to disagree with the practical conclusions drawn from their words.
The word "Church" will generally be used in the very widest sense of the whole number of those who have been baptized into the Name of the Blessed Trinity, but who are grouped in various divisions according to their different conceptions of what the organization of the Church should be, this organization being regarded not merely from an ideal, but also from a practical point of view; and we shall discuss what the relations should be between these various divisions, along the lines of Comity, Concord, and Communion.
But first let us make a short survey of the divisions.
a.  There is the large body of Christians whose organization of Patriarchates and the like is inherited from the days of the Eastern Roman Empire, but who have supplemented it by the conception of National Churches, such as those of Greece, Russia, and the various Balkan States.
b. There is an even larger body of Christians whose organization is centred in the Papacy, and who hold with more or less intelligence and enthusiasm the belief that the Pope is Christ's Vicar on earth, and that for all practical purposes unless a person is in definite relations with the Pope he is not truly called a Christian.
c. There is that large and growing Anglican Communion which bids fair to realize Archbishop Laud's dream that it should be "as diffused and Catholic as the Church of Rome."
And these three historic Churches, while holding what Mr. Silas McBee calls "the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral," are more fundamentally separated from each other and the rest of Christendom than are any other of its divisions. The Orthodox refuse to give Communion to the Latins, the Latins refuse it to the Orthodox, and both refuse to give it to any who are not of their obedience, while Anglicans have strict rules for withholding it from any who have not been confirmed.
d. And in this category we must class all the other divisions of Christendom; for though some of them, such as the Swedish, the Moravian, and Methodist Churches have Bishops, their Episcopate is not such as could be accepted under the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and their Confirmation would not be recognized by Anglicans.
Yet these non-episcopal Christians, who form so large a part of the population of Scotland, Scandinavia, North and Central Europe, and the United States of America, have also become "as diffused and Catholic as the Church of Rome," have carried [4/5] their Missions to the ends of the earth, and number among their adherents men of every clime and colour.
The question, therefore, cannot but arise, "How far, how fully, are the non-episcopal Christians members of the One Body of Christ?"
This, of course, raises the question of the validity--as it is called--of their baptism, their ministry of that sacrament by which members of the human race are made members of Christ; and it will be convenient for us to deal with it at once. For there has been a very strong tradition all through Church History that Holy Baptism might, in emergency, be ministered by Christians who were not in Holy Orders; and, of course, until the Reformation, this tradition carried with it, and was based on, the belief that the Christians who thus in emergency ministered Holy Baptism were members of a community governed by Bishops with clear succession from the Apostles. But after the Reformation we get Christians who had lost Episcopal government, or even rejected it with scorn, baptizing persons, and claiming to admit them thereby into membership of the same Body as that in which Episcopacy was deemed essential. It is not to be wondered at, that since the Reformation divergent views have been held in the English Church as to the "validity" of this non-episcopal Baptism; but controversy has always ended in its being accepted. Such Anglican authorities as Bishop Forbes and Dr. Liddon were hardly prepared to admit that there was room for controversy. Dr. Liddon wrote, for instance--and the passage reads most oddly in the preface to his sermon "A Father in Christ," in which he defends against Dr. Hatch the doctrine of the necessity of the Episcopate—"If the non-episcopal bodies have no true orders, they have unquestionably a true Baptism, supposing the matter and words of that Sacrament to be duly administered, [5/6] since lay Baptism is of undoubted validity." The words, I say, read oddly, because there is a bold, and apparently unconscious, leap over the difficulty that the lay-Baptism which is of undoubted validity is that of laymen who were in Communion with Bishops, and believed Episcopacy to be essential to the Church, whereas the Baptism of non-episcopal bodies lacked that very important qualification. A much more satisfactory statement appeared in the Church Quarterly Review for October, 1887, pp. 25-27: "If a lay-Churchman, who has never been 'sent' to baptize, nevertheless may baptize, it is but a small step further, judged merely by the authority of 'commission,' to allow that some one else who has equally not been 'sent,' may do the same. For all baptized persons are in some sense members of the Church, and dissenters may be supposed to have inherited from the mother whom they have forsaken such powers of baptizing as belong to the laity of the Church, and to be handing them on with an increased irregularity, but still with a remote kind of validity. . . . It would be an intolerable doctrine that where irregular baptism has been administered and received in all good faith, it should be rendered absolutely nugatory by an error of which neither administrator nor recipient were conscious." To me this is a much more satisfactory suggestion than that of Dr. Liddon, following St. Augustine, who says: "They may belong to the Soul, if not to the Body of Christ's Church." For Dr. Liddon seems to regard them as actually of "the Body" in a famous passage of his Bampton Lectures, where he is insisting, for a controversial purpose, on the increase of believers in Christ: "The divisions of Christ's Family, lamentable and indeed in many ways disastrous as they are, must be ended, if at all, by the warmer charity, and more fervent prayers of believing Christians. But meanwhile, do not these very divisions afford an indirect [6/7] illustration of the extraordinary vitality of the new Kingdom? Has the Kingdom ceased to enlarge its territory since the troubled times of the sixteenth century? On the contrary, it is simply a matter of fact that, since that date, its ratio of extension has been greater than at any previous period." (11th Edition p. 124)
We start, then by recognizing that those who receive non-episcopal baptism are thereby made members of the One Body of the Church, guarding ourselves against "that grave anti-Catholic error" of Cyprian's "which, in principle, withdrew the virtue of the Sacrament from the immediate ministering of Christ present, and attached it to the human agent." (Benson, "Cyprian," p. 333)
Often it has crossed my own mind that the ecclesiastical position of the non-episcopal communions may be illustrated by what we see in a thorn hedge when it is being remade and strengthened. The hedger will bring down his bill with terrific force on the thornstock, and almost sever it from the root a few inches above the ground, then press it down in a horizontal position and leave it to grow, which it does. Although connected now with the root by, it may be, the merest ribbon of bark, along that frail connection the sap travels securely, and in due course we see the stock, which had been almost severed, putting out its fresh shoots and leaves, and contributing just because of its drastic handling, to the strength of the hedge. So the Christian bodies which were severed from episcopal tradition at the time of the Reformation, retaining nothing but their inheritance of baptismal grace and its consequents, have developed their own ministerial organization both for the Word and the Sacraments, on lines similar in character, if different in name, from those of the "Historic" churches.
 Having been forced by circumstances or their experience of it to reject Episcopacy, they still have so much of the Power of the Keys left as to open the door into the Kingdom of Heaven by administering Holy Baptism, and thereby admitting their converts into the Fellowship of Christ's One Mystical Body. Does it not follow that in their membership of that Body, they should receive the Gifts of the Spirit, imparted once and for all to that Body at Pentecost, and may they not, justifiably, claim to have received His guidance in the development of their respective ministries? We may agree to this, and our honest consideration of the facts as they are seems to demand of us that we should agree to it, without thereby committing ourselves to the position taken up by advocates of the Presbyterian or Congregational theories, that their system of Church organization is the most faithful reproduction of the system which prevailed in the first century of the Church's life.
It has been necessary, in our survey, to deal at such length with the claim of the non-episcopal communions to recognition as members of the Church, in order to clear the ground for consideration of two consequent problems:--
1. If the Hand of Providence can be traced, as we seem to have been able to trace it, over-ruling the divisions, and blessing the self-extension of the non-episcopal bodies to the salvation of unnumbered souls all over the world, ought we not to accept those divisions, not as hindrances but as helps to a truer and vaster perspective of the manifold Wisdom of God in the building up of His Son's Mystical Body?
2. If we ought to recognize the Divine blessing on the non-episcopal ministry as an integral part of the Church, being used for its extension and upbuilding, ought we to take the further step, and interchange our ministry; in particular, ought we [8/9] to welcome and advocate what has been styled a "Joint Communion"?
Let us take the two problems in the order already given, and deal first with the recognition of the non-episcopal bodies as integral and living branches of the church. And here we must admit that our action has gone far ahead of our theory, especially in the Mission Field. The principle of "Comity" was inaugurated, apparently, by Bishop Selwyn, in the islands of the South Pacific, and manifested itself in the mutual recognition, by the different evangelistic agencies at work there, of specific spheres of effort, in which each should be left alone without rivalry or embarrassment from their neighbors. This principle at once made a powerful appeal to the generosity of the Christian conscience, and won approval and adoption from many who would have been startled if they had been brought up abruptly face to face with its implications. The implications are that an Independent, Baptist, or Methodist ministry is as effective as instrument for the salvation of souls as the Anglican, secure of its own validity through the apostolic succession of its Bishops.
And of course these implications are startling to those who have been brought up in such a belief about the necessity of the Episcopate as was laid down by Dr. Liddon. But to them may be commended the sentence in which the present Principal of Pusey House states the facts with courage and candour (Darwell Stone, "The Christian Church," p. 229): "The Church of England is shown by the careful pains taken to secure the continuance of an Episcopal ministry to have regarded a non-episcopal ministry as at least lacking in security, while the Twenty-Third Article [9/10] was so drawn as to avoid an explicit statement that there can be no lawful ministry without a Bishop"; and Dr. Stone goes on to say that Hooker stopped short of asserting the absolute necessity of Episcopacy and refers to passages in the "Ecclesiastical Polity," which have a direct bearing on our present argument: "Neither God's being the author of laws for the government of His Church, nor His committing them to Scripture, is any reason sufficient wherefore all Churches should for ever be bound to keep them without change." "The wisdom of God . . . shineth in the beautiful variety of all things, but most in the manifold and yet harmonious dissimilitude of those ways, whereby His Church upon earth is guided from age to age throughout all generations." "Man may be extraordinarily, yet allowably, two ways admitted unto spiritual functions in the Church. One is, when God doth of Himself raise up any, whose labour He useth without requiring that men should authorize them . . .; another. . . is when the exigence of necessity doth constrain to leave the usual ways of the Church which otherwise we would willingly keep: where the Church must needs have some ordained and neither hath nor can have possibly a bishop to ordain: in case of such necessity the ordinary institution of God hath oftentimes given and may give place" (E.P., III.x.8; xi.8; VII.xiv.11). Bishop Paget warns against building too much on this last statement of Hooker's; but it seems clear that in the sixteenth century the Church of England left open a door for some recognition of the non-episcopal ministries, some acceptance of the implications of Comity, and it might be argued that in the seventeenth century the door was propped open by the Act of Toleration. And if this implication of Comity is to be accepted in the Mission Field, from which, indeed, it would be impossible, now, to dislodge it, ought it not to be frankly accepted at home?
 Consider some of its results.
On the basis of Comity, where there was no room or justification for mutual disparagement or suspicion, it has been possible to build up a large structure of co-operation. This co-operation has been extended step by step, from its earliest and most easy experiments in translation or revision, to work in hospitals and schools, and even to the preparation of missionary agents, not excepting those who were to be ordained. The work of the S.M.V.U. has been at once the most striking fruit and the most fruitful source of the habit of co-operation based on the principle of Comity, and it has led up, through its various conferences, aided by a series of similar experiments in joint effort, to the World Missionary Conference, at Edinburgh, in 1910, which was so striking an exhibition of Christian Concord. Nor is there any indication or likelihood that the movement of spirit which was manifest at Edinburgh is to be regarded as tidal--something in which an ebb is to be expected as well as a flow. On the contrary, all the signs point to "Edinburgh" having established an ideal and set up a standard, from which it is the determination of all who were gathered there to advance.
All over the country the Edinburgh experience is being reproduced in the separate localities by their Concord Associations, which bring Christians of all types who are willing to work together into fellowship for prayer, study, and the promotion of such Christian and philanthropic enterprises as do not rouse into activity of denominational antagonisms. Of course there had been much done previously to make it easy to form these Associations, in particular the wonderful Call to Prayer on Whit-Sunday, 1905; and in view of the part which Bishop Gore took in organizing that Call to Prayer, it was not surprising that he should also assist in the Edinburgh Conference. In this action he was [11/12] only carrying out what he had laid down in his book on "Orders and Unity" (p. 206): "At home we shall make the most of our opportunities of co-operation with Nonconformists for social and philanthropic objects. We shall not only pray for ourselves, but join with our fellow-Christians in prayer, whenever we can on really neutral ground, for the promotion of the kingdom of Christ. . . . Interdenominational action is possible, but not what is undenominational. We should encourage all men to be as definitely and consistently as possible members not only of the Church of Christ in general, but also of the particular body to which in good conscience they belong." This programme of Bishop Gore's, as followed out by the Concord Associations, is the production on this side of the Atlantic of what on the other side was so well stated by Professor Du Bose ("The Gospel in the Gospels," preface pp. ix, xi). "The one great lesson that must forerun and make ready the Christian unity of the future is this: that contraries do not necessarily contradict, nor opposites always oppose. What we want is not to surrender or abolish our differences, but to unite and compose them. We need the truth of every variant opinion and the light from every opposite point of view. The least fragment is right in so far as it stands for a part of the truth. It is wrong, only when, as so often, it elevates into a ground of division from the other fragments just that which in reality fits it to unite with and supplement them. . . . So let us agree to disagree, if conscientiously we must, in all our manifold differences; and bringing all our differences together, let us see if they are not wiser than we, and if they cannot and will not of themselves find agreement in unity that is higher and vaster than we."
Thus our first question is answered; we can accept the divisions of Christendom as helps to a true understanding of the nature of Christ's Mystical Body, [12/13] and on the frank recognition of the non-episcopal bodies, as being of the Body of the Church we are able through Comity to develop Concord. The Latin and Orthodox Churches still maintain their official exclusiveness, though individual members show sympathies and aspirations after unity which register the gradual remodeling of the conception of the Church; outside these it has been found possible for groups of Christians from different communions to co-operate not only in hospital and educational committees, but in promoting Temperance, and suppressing such evils as the White Slave Tragedy and the Opium Curse. It has been found possible to co-operate in theological work, such as the Dictionary of the Bible, the International Critical Commentary, and that of the Society of Historical Theology. It has been possible to unite in prayer, not only in private for pastoral and missionary work, but publicly on such as occasion as the Coronation of the King and Queen, or, as in Oxford, in thanksgiving for their safe return from India. At these times we have felt ourselves to be receiving what we have so often asked: "Inspire continually the Universal Church with the Spirit of Truth, Unity and Concord, and grant that all they that do confess the truth of Thy Holy Name may agree in the truth of Thy Holy Word and live in unity and godly love."
But in many quarters it is felt that we still come short. However good and joyful a thing it may be to dwell together in Concord, we fall short of the Psalmist's ideal of Unity if we cannot partake together at the same time and at the same Board of the One Bread.
 There are, however, two objections which must first be met:--
1. The non-episcopal communities are not in a position to have Communion at all.
2. They do not believe that what they receive is the Gift for which we look.
To deal with the first point. Dr. Liddon, in the Preface already quoted, wrote:--
1. "That which, in our belief and to our sorrow, the non-episcopal ministries lack is a share in any of those privileges which depend upon a ministry duly constituted by Christ our Lord; especially do they lack the precious Sacrament of His Body and Blood." There is something very startling in the confidence which can thus lay down what is or is not the fact about matters which are in the hand of God; it might have been thought that just because the non-episcopal communities belonged to "the soul" of the Church they would have a share in that which is by all accounts food for the soul, the "daily Bread," the Bread which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world. Look at it from a point of view suggested to us by our Lord Himself. Here are the children of the Heavenly Father, coming as well as they know how, to do that which the Saviour commanded to be done: they are asking for the daily Bread, the living Bread which came down from heaven. Do they receive that which they seek and ask for, or does the Heavenly Father give them a stone? There can be but one answer.
This, however, it may be said, is sheer sentiment. Let us look at it now logically. Can anyone say why we should accept the claim of the non-episcopal ministries to preach and baptize, and why we should refuse their claim to administer the Communion? Let us remind ourselves that the One Body consists of all the baptized, no matter by what ministry they have been baptized, and that the properly qualified, duly accredited minister [14/15] of any denomination are so far the competent ministerial organs of that Body. If the Baptists, for instance, are an integral part of the Body of Christ, then a duly accredited Baptist minister has the functions of ministry in the One Body. The fact that his credentials are not recognized by the Anglican no more affects their regularity and power for his own flock than the fact that our Anglican credentials are not recognized by Latins or Orthodox affects their regularity and power for ministry to Anglicans. And so we apply to the non-episcopal ministries Fr. Benson's words ("Cowley Evangelist," July 1970): "I hear that some persons . . . are striving to laugh the true doctrine of our Lord's presence out of court by representing it as a miracle. Of course it is a miracle. All the operations of the Living God in the material world are a miracle. . . . It is the work of the Holy Ghost in the Body of Christ. We cannot work the miracle. It is not we who consecrate the bread and wine. There is only One Priest in the Church of God, One Victim, One Altar. The priest who celebrates can neither help the miracle nor can he nullify it. However little he believes in the Sacramental change, that change is just the same as if he believes it most fully. . . .We must realize that it is by the power of the Holy Ghost descending from heaven at Pentecost that we are called to consecrate the bread and wine, and make them channels of mediatorial grace by their identification with the mediatorial Head of the Covenant." Apply also this statement of Bishop Gore: "The Eucharist is a sacrifice because in it the Christian Church--exercises her privilege of sonship in free approach to the Father in the name of Christ." ("The Body of Christ," pp. 210-213). You see that from either side, whether you approach downwards from the Head, as Father Benson does, or upwards [15/16] from the members, as Bishop Gore does, the ministers are sheerly ministerial--nothing depends on their personal qualifications or beliefs, everything on their official position. It follows that if the Holy Communion be "the act of the whole Church" and the non-episcopal denominations are an integral part of the whole Body of the Church, then the duly accredited ministers of the non-episcopal denominations, have their place, in their own denominations, as the organs of the One Body through which, to quote Fr. Benson, "the miracle of sacramental change" is effected, and, to quote Bishop Gore, "the sacrifice of the whole Church" presented.
2. Thus the non-episcopal communities are in a position to have the Communion, and we can hardly question either the authority of their ministers, or the spiritual reality of the gifts which those ministries convey. We must allow for the truth of their experience, the sincerity of their convictions. They must know what they believe. And I have been greatly impressed in reading Spurgeon's Sermons with the incidental teaching he gave to his congregation at the Tabernacle about the Holy Communion. Let me give three quotations. In 1882 he said: "When we first of all commenced to break bread on every first day in the week, I heard some say that they thought the coming so often to the table might take away the impressiveness of the Holy Feast. Well, I have scarcely ever missed a Sabbath now these twenty years, and I never was so impressed with the solemnity and sweetness of the Master's Supper as I am now." (Sermons, vol. 28, p. 151). The importance of this statement is that weekly Communion was adopted as a regular practice at Tabernacle in 1862, the year of the consecration of SS. Philip and James', Oxford, when weekly Communion was regarded as a peculiar badge of "Romanizing" in the Established Church. But [16/17] what, Anglicans may ask, did this weekly Feast mean to Spurgeon? Here are some words of his in 1875: "That Communion Table, what means it but ‘God with us'? Oh, how often in the breaking of the bread and the pouring forth of the wine in the memory of His atoning death have we enjoyed His real presence, not in a superstitious, but in a spiritual sense, and found the Lord Jesus to be ‘God with us.'" (Sermons, vol. 21, p. 717). And in 1879, preaching from the text, "My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed," he had said: "I would have you note that our Lord must be to us meat and drink; and meat is not intended to look on, but to feed on. I heard the other day that in a certain Socinian place of worship they have gone the length of setting the bread and wine on the table for the people to look at, but they suppose that it is quite unnecessary that they should actually eat and drink. It is fittingly done of them--that is consistent with their creed. They have no Christ to feed upon. . . . If, indeed, it be true that they have exhibited the bread and wine, instead of handing it out to be eaten, it is remarkably typical of their bloodless, lifeless Gospel, their Christ Who is no deity, their Jesus Who is no sacrifice for sin." (vol. 25. p. 111).
Better known, probably, than this teaching of Spurgeon's is that given by the Presbyterian Divine, Dr. Milligan, in his book on "The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of our Lord." (p. 265): "With the exception of a comparatively small number in recent times (the) members (of the Church) have never been able to rest in the idea that the Sacrament of the Supper is simply a memorial of the death of Christ. They have beheld in it, in one sense or another, an offering which they make to God, as well as a remembrance of what God has done for them. . . . As our Lord's offering of Himself to His Heavenly Father never ends, or can end, so in that offering His [17/18] people, organically united to Him, one with Him, must be offered and must offer themselves; and this they do in the expressive and touching symbols of the Eucharist. They do not simply remember what Jesus did on earth. They bring to their remembrance as a present fact what He is doing in heaven. They commemorate, they hold communion with, they accept, and at His Table are nourished by, a living Lord--in remembrance of Me, not as I was, but as I am to the end of time. Christ Himself, spiritually present with them, is the life of their souls: His body and blood there given them are the substance of their feast; and living in Him, and obtaining in Him, pardon, peace and strength, they transact here below what He is transacting in the heavenly Sanctuary. In the Sacrament of the Supper, in short, they offer themselves in Him Who is now and for ever an offering to the Father."
It must be then with very definite qualifications that Anglicans hold to the opinion, once quoted in my hearing by Archbishop Benson, that the non-episcopal bodies of Christians "are claiming to do the Church's work, without having either the Church's calling, or the Church's Gifts." The non-episcopal Christians are themselves integral parts of the Church; within each denomination its duly accredited ministers are the organs of the One Body, and when they make the memorial commanded by the Saviour they take their part in the One offering made by the One Church, they receive that Gift which is sought for thus by His Command. They do not doubt, and we cannot doubt, the reality of their communions; and it is a fact not without significance in this connection that we should so often make use in our Communion service of the Nonconformist's Communion hymns.
Few manuals of Holy Communion have had greater popularity or wider circulation than that [18/19] drawn up by the late Bishop Walsham How, and published by S.P.C.K. In it he placed among the devotions to be used after the Prayer of Consecration, H. Bonar's hymn, which begins:
Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face,
Here faith can touch and handle things unseen;
Here would I grasp with firmer hand Thy grace,
And all my weariness upon Thee lean.
But then the question still remains, "Can we of the episcopal succession, recognizing the reality, the validity of the Lord's Supper in non-episcopal Churches, partake of It with them? We have laid down the principle of Comity with all its implications; we have established relations of Concord which are deepening and advancing. Can we not go on to the fullness of Communion?"
And my answer is that in England, at any rate, we must be content with that reality of the communion in One Bread, One Body, which each of us experiences in our own denomination. Just because we are willing to recognize in the non-episcopal ministries a duly accredited stewardship of the Divine mysteries, we must do nothing which would in any degree impair the prerogatives and responsibilities of that stewardship. And in our Lord's reply to Peter's question it was in regard to the dispensation of the Eucharist that the stewardship was chiefly to be manifest. Peter said, "Lord, speakest Thou this parable unto us, or even unto all?" And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?" (St. Luke xii. 41). It is in the Lord's Supper, when, in the beautiful old phrase, we "take the Sacrament together," that we realize and manifest that love of the brethren, which must for its principal meaning be love of those who belong to our particular denomination, our particular branch of the Vine. Loyalty to our own particular aspect of Truth is, as we learnt [19/20] from Prof. Du Bose, the most important contribution we can make to that Unity which we all desire to hasten, and it is in and through communion that we are linked together with those who have received with us the deposit of truth which is our special trust. We could not desert, without seeming to disparage, our own Communion, and the more we prize our own position, the more impossible it would be for us to take steps that would seem to weaken its unique claim upon our conscience.
In this conclusion we can fortify ourselves by a consideration of our Lord's simile of the Vine and its Branches; for as the branches each spring away from the parent stem and throw out to far distances leaves and clusters which all alike derive their life from the one root, yet never are parted from the branch on which they grow, except to die, so all the branches of the Church of Jesus Christ, parted from each other so inveterately, and each with their own functions and duties to discharge, derive their life from their union with Christ, but derive it in its fullness in their inherited and inevitable separateness. However much of air and sunshine the leaves and branches may equally receive, the sap can only reach them from the root by their own channels. And so, as it is in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood that the Mystical Union with Christ is deepened, the Ministry of that Body and Blood must be reserved by each branch to its own members. Now and again, in special circumstances, there is an exercise of "the charity of the Church," by which the members of one denomination is given Communion by another denomination, without prejudice to the claims of either body, and this love, overleaping its own barriers, is a prophecy of what shall be when we are all alike called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. But while we see in a glass darkly, and know only in part, we must accept our limitations, and train our love by the [20/21] very restraints we place upon its exercise: we must be loyal to our respective stewardships, we must safeguard our own inheritance of truth. The one act of faith and worship which must be kept tenaciously by each of the separated bodies within the Church for its own members is that of the Lord's Supper; and the restriction of Communion to their own members can be the more rigidly and the more hopefully maintained the more cordially they recognize that in the other denominations the ministers are duly called by man and graciously allowed by God to minister in the One Body, the One Bread.
But clear, as our duty may be here at "the home base," it must be allowed that the conditions and claims are entirely different in "the fighting line"; and that what would not be permissible, and might even be regarded as a betrayal of trust here at home, may be desirable and necessary in the nascent Christian communities overseas.
The overlapping and interlacing with which we are familiar here is entirely unknown where the Comity of Missions has been established either by mutual agreement between the directors of Missions or by Government action. In such a region as Eastern Equatorial Africa, where the Government prefers each missionary agency to have its separate district, the natives are not responsible for the way in which the Gospel is presented to them, but only for accepting it or rejecting it; and if they accept it and cross the vast gulf which separates heathenism from Christendom, their Christianity must in all fairness be regarded as of the fullest, highest type; it was the only type possible for them. It is not fair, e.g., to label or penalize those as [21/22] "Baptists" who have never had a chance of being "Methodists" or "Roman Catholics." If the Baptists are the only missionaries allowed to work in a particular region, their converts must be regarded as Christians rather than Baptists, and those who are communicants ought, when they move into a region which the Baptists are prohibited from entering, to be welcome as communicants there. "Many men feel that a fellow-Christian at hand is more to them than a fellow-denominationalist afar off"; and it is impossible for us in England to realize the need or the grace of Communion to those who have just abandoned heathenism, and have everything in their surroundings to pull them back, to whom the denomination is all but unintelligible, and their Saviour is their all in all.
The need and the grace are felt by the converts themselves, and it is the driving force of their conviction which has made the Federation movement progress so rapidly. Tentative steps were taken more than twenty years ago by the native Christians in the Bombay district to secure for each other such mutual recognition, and since then various forms of concordat have been set in working order in China, Japan, South India and South Africa. They may be studied, with the valuable criticisms made upon them, in the volume entitled "On Co-operation and Unity," published by the World Missionary Conference of 1910.
The point in which Kikuyu seems to mark an advance beyond anything yet attempted is in the entrance of the English Church workers into a Scheme of Federation; and those of us who are living at the home base cannot but admire the skill and caution with which the Regulations have been drafted. While paying careful regard to the standards of the Prayer Book and the Lambeth Conferences they meet with a fine courage the needs of the fighting line; and if they can be [22/23] carried out they will do much to introduce a uniform standard of instruction, discipline and worship into the various Christian communities, and so will prepare the way for a united Church of East Africa. It is inconceivable that any should wish to reproduce or perpetuate there the quarrels and schisms of European Christendom, and the result of the Federation would be to preclude such a possibility. We cannot be too thankful to the Head of the Church for such manifest tokens of His guidance to His members.
He is our peace,
Who made both one,
And brake down the middle wall of partition,
That He might create in Himself of the twain
One new man.