Project Canterbury

Duty and Conscience
Addresses Given in Parochial Retreats
At St. Mary Magdalen's, Paddington

by Edward King, D.D.

Milwaukee: The Young Churchman Company, 1911.

Lent, 1884

''For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."--I Cor. xii. 12.

IN speaking last night of the parable of the Good Samaritan, I said that our Blessed Lord intended to teach us as a first lesson, our duty towards, and love for, our neighbour, and that in so doing He showed us the extended area of brotherly love. It was to be bounded by no national prejudice, but as the only limit to be recognized, the needs of those with whom we come in contact, and our own capacity of helping. Whenever there is one who needs our aid, there is our neighbour in whatever rank they may be.

I said also that our Lord, in that parable, pointed out to us, as in a picture, the oneness of humanity. There is the one man, going on his journey from Jerusalem to Jericho, and we see humanity summed up in that one man on his journey. And what more do we see in that picture? He had fallen among thieves, and they had wounded him, and left him lying by the side of the road. And here the picture is still true of humanity as a whole. The fallen condition of humanity is represented by this one man, lying by the side of the road. This profound and essential truth, the solidarity of humanity, we know from other parts of God's Book. God made one man in the beginning, and from one man He made woman, and these He united by the bond of marriage in Paradise, and from these two made one, He peopled the whole world. This is a great truth to grasp in considering this picture, that humanity is one, the solidarity, the essential unity of mankind, that man is knit together with his fellow man in the bonds of a common nature. In Adam's fall all men fell, and in him all die. So far we went last night, and to-day we have endeavoured to look at another picture by considering the doctrine of the Resurrection, and first we tried to consider the fact itself, its reality and certainty, and we set before us the fact that as Christians we do not worship a dead Christ, but One Who lives. It is not so much that we cherish the memory of One Who is absent, but that our very existence depends on communion with, and realization of, a Real Presence.

We saw how Christ rose from the dead and lives for us, and we saw, too, that three simple results should follow on a knowledge of the fact of the Resurrection, in our own individual characters--separation, consecration and reunion.

To-night I want to point out another result of the Resurrection of Christ, not on the individual character, but on the Church as a whole. This lesson, this effect, which should follow on a true belief in the Resurrection of Christ on the Church, is unity. Our belief is that our Blessed Lord took our whole nature when He became Incarnate. In that nature He died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, as in that nature He is now sitting on the throne of His own peculiar glory, waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. This, then, is the belief which we have to make real to ourselves. Our common humanity is enthroned in heaven. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." It is the companion picture to the one we were studying in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that we saw the solidarity of humanity expressed by the man lying by the side of the road, unable to get up and reach his journey's end without help. Here we have the Resurrection of One, and in this is summed up again the solidarity of humanity, but it is the raising of humanity, the ascending and living for ever in heaven of our human nature. These are the two pictures I would leave before you. The one of fallen humanity, and we in it; the other of ascended humanity, Jesus, Very God, and Very Man, and we in Him.

And this effort to contract humanity into these two persons does no violence to the teaching of Holy Scripture. This marvellous truth is put before us by the Holy Spirit, Who puts out of all consideration the hundreds of millions of people who have lived on this earth, and speaks only of two men as worthy of consideration. Whether rich or poor, great or simple, kings and princes, all the wise men of Egypt and Babylon, all are put away, all are washed off, and only two figures are left standing on the canvas God paints for us; the first man, who is of the earth, earthy, and the Second Man, who is the Lord from heaven.

We cannot do better than try to realize this boldness of language. The first man Adam, is of the earth, earthy, fallen away, lying by the side of the road, and we in him. The Second Man is the Lord from heaven, Who died, and rose again, and ascended into glory, and we in Him.

The Body is One, for Christ is One. He is risen with the same Body which He took of the Blessed Virgin, and in it He lives. And from this we draw the lesson of unify, dear sisters and brothers in Christ. We are all apt to give up in despair even thinking about it. "We will try to be as good as we can," you will say, "but as for unity, when all around is broken to fragments, and is in such confusion, it is impossible!" Brethren, to give way to such thoughts is to put oneself out of harmony with God's will and purpose. I ask you not to give way to them, but to make it one of your efforts this Passion-tide, and one of the results of the coming Easter, to force yourselves, God helping you, to overcome them; and to face the fact that if humanity is in heaven with Christ, and if He is One, and if He is the Head of His Body the Church, as there is One Head and One Body, so there should be unity in that Body. As the natural Body of Christ is One, so is His Mystical Body, the Church, One. In Passion-tide we think much of His humiliation in Gethsemane, in the servants' hall, on the Cross. How He was reviled, spitted upon, how that Body was torn. But never for one moment did the Divine Nature leave the Body or Soul of our Lord. The Resurrection was not a new Incarnation, but a joining together of the two parts of the humanity of our Lord; not a restoration of the hypostatic union, for that was never violated.

Let us keep that truth before ourselves when we consider Him reviled, blindfolded, mocked, spitted on, buffeted--there was no separation between the Divine and human natures. Yes, and if we see the Church of Christ mocked, reviled, buffeted, torn asunder, yet remember she is not torn asunder from Him Who is her Head, for she can never be separated from Him. There is unity between Him and His Body. I want to impress this truth upon you. Do not, through sloth, or despondency, or hopeless despair, give up trying for unity. If we believe in the humanity of the One Christ in heaven, we shall also believe in the unity of His Body, the Church. Really there is much, much to give us courage.

Well, let us quietly think about this. God made all men of one blood. We see a oneness in the physical laws which govern this world, the same laws here and the other side of the world. Men have a marvellous power of holding the world in their grasp; the powers of wood, and iron, and steam, by which man has reduced the earth's space have made it more one, so that the world is not so very vast after all, not above man's power to deal with. Then all the powers of electricity; we can send a message round the earth, and so talk with one at the antipodes almost as quickly as we could face to face. God has put these powers into man's hands to eliminate space. We see in this, in these powers lying in nature, in these constant discoveries of the powers of natural forces, a sort of substructure working for unity.

So look at man's own physical nature. Men and women come into the world in the same way; they are born in the same way, and they go out of the world in the same way, by death, here and in heathen lands the other side of the globe. Coming and going is the same. Travel where you will, man has the same physical structure here as there. And there is very little difference below the surface. Affections are very much the same here as there. People are very much alike. There is the same warmth of affection, the same deep love of parents for children.

Not long ago, I was listening to the Bishop of Algoma, and he was telling us that among the native Indians there is the same depth of love. They love their children just as we do here, with the same disinterested love. And he was telling us how the cold in that country is very intense, and they have to travel by cross ways between hut and hut. The people are very much isolated when the ice breaks up, and sometimes people drift off on the ice. A mother and child were trying to cross a river after the ice began to break, and the block on which they were broke off from the rest and drifted away. The wind was bitterly cold, and though they set out very soon to try and find them, they couldn't. In the morning they found them. The mother had stripped herself of her clothing so that the child might be kept warm. The mother was dead, and she was lying so as to shield the child from the wand. The child was living. There may be variety of colour, and speech, and language, but there is' the same underlying depth of affection, and in this there is unity.

If we go a little deeper into the moral life, into what we call conscience, we find the same underlying unity. The heathen may not be able to explain what they mean by conscience, but the thing itself is there. One who has devoted his life to Mission work, far away in Melanesia, told me that if he was to take one of the lads belonging to one of those isolated islands; and ask him, "If you were to take these things; if you were to steal these candles, and take them from this hut, what would you be?" He would answer, "A thief." "Well, and if one of the animals did the same, what would he be?" He would answer again, "A thief." "Are you, then, and the animal the same?" "No, not the same." And when pressed to explain the difference in his own language he would say: "The animal has night within, and I have light." It may be only just perceptible, but still there is light in man, while there is darkness in brutes. It may be only just nickering, burning very dimly, but still it is there. And further than that, it is hardly possible, if it is possible, to take any number of men who do not rise above that, to a conscious discerning power between right and wrong, and a desire of, and a religious feeling towards some god, which is a feeling after God, if haply they might find Him.

So I say to you, do not lose heart, but, instead, look and see. The powers and capacities of the natural world tend to unity; the physical construction tends to unity. So in man, the moral and physical forces may want training to bring them to perfection, but there is unity of capacity. And this is represented in the picture of the one man fallen by the side of the road, wounded on his journey heavenward.

The heathen long for something at the end of their journey. They realize that they are on a journey, and they picture the country towards which they are travelling, as a land of fishing, hunting, shooting, or whatever affords them the highest happiness. All these underlying considerations speak for unity. We, as Christians, know more. We have received the revelation of God, we know that our Blessed Lord has taken our nature to Him, and that in that He is One with us, and that One Holy Spirit dwells in each and all of us. In the tabernacle the pillar of cloud rested on one spot where God would meet man. It was a matter of prophecy that the Presence of God, and the Spirit of God should rest, not only in one special place, but that every one should be a temple of the Holy Ghost, a separate tabernacle in which God should abide. Then there is ground enough for hope, and we may yet long for unity.

Then there is the prayer of our Blessed Lord in S. John xvii. for the unity of His Church. "That they may be one, even as we are One." There is a real unity, a real solidarity made by nature. And in the Incarnation our Blessed Lord took one human Body, and from this one Fountain streams the vivifying power which gives light and life to all.

I desire to offer you one consideration for this Passion-tide and coming Easter. If I believe that Jesus is One, and that He is now, in our very nature, living in heaven--One, not many--there must be some outcome of this faith, and let that outcome be some work for the unity of His Church.

One word or two more. You may say, "Well, we see that; we accept your two pictures--the one fallen by the side of the road, in our nature, and the companion picture, the One ascended into heaven in our nature, and we know that the Church ought to be one, but what are we to do?"

First, make it part of your business to understand what the Church of Christ is. Don't think of it as a sort of unnecessary extra. People often think, "I mean to be kind, and will support all the schemes of philanthropy I can; I want to be good, but as for the Church, no two people agree about what it is even!" Don't give way to thoughts like that. Face the truth at once, that as there is One Head, so there is one Body, the Church, and resolve to work for it. And though it is now disturbed, broken, and humbled, yet there are the old marks upon it, it is still the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Let that be the result of your belief in the One ascended Saviour, the One Head, that there is one Body, the Church. Look it all out for yourself and see. Don't give it up in despair, and think you can get on and be good without it. You are a member of His Body, and, as such, you derive your life from union with the Head. Oh, what are we losing by our unhappy divisions! If we were all one united body, there would be no revilings at one another; we who all worship One Head, One Christ, who hold one creed, and are all partakers of one Sacrament at the altar. Then would a new witness be given to the world of Him Who is One. If they saw the One Body, they would look up to the One Head. While we are divided, people are driven away from the truth. We could then go forth to the heathen with infinitely greater power than any force this world could give. The presence of a united Christendom would be better than any other argument. Study and find out. Is it true, or not, that for 1500 years no one ever thought of Christianity without bishops, priests and deacons, and the Sacraments? The claims of the Roman Church are such that in no real way could unity be given by acceding to them. Do not spare labour. Look and see. Make it clear to yourself. Search into it, till you are quite sure of the reality and unity of the Church. If you do already know and believe it, then thank God. If you have found out the oneness, and are convinced that there is One Christ and one Church, and that she is in close communion with her Head, then ask yourself, "What am I doing for the Church?" One great cause of weakness is that it is thought the clergy should do everything. Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, the clergy can't do that. If you can join the priesthood, well. We want you for home work, we want you for foreign work. If you can, come and join us, and work, and God help you. But it is not necessary to be a priest to work for the Church. To work for the Church should be the privilege and ambition of every member of the Church. You may have a good voice; join the choir and help the music of the Church. Or you may be a philanthropist, and love to build cottages, or you may be a keen politician. Well, but you must go further, and bring it higher, or else it will all lack soul; it will lack the inextinguishable fire of the thing which has made martyrs in the olden time, and would easily, easily make martyrs in the time to come, and that is the realization that the Church is the Body of Christ, and that working for her, is working for Christ. This ought to be a deliberate part of your life, "What can I do to promote the unity of Christendom?" Clergy and laity, men and women, striving to do what they can to promote the unity of the Church, not merely by doing good works, but by a distinct, conscious effort to promote the oneness of the Church of Christ, as a result of our belief in the One Christ, and in His Resurrection from the dead.

One word more only. It is true for you of the laity, as it is for us of the clergy, if you want to work for the Church, and to attract others to work for the Church, there are few ways more powerful than manifesting in our own lives that peace which we have found, that joy, that happiness, that brightness, that hope, we ourselves find because we know we are in the Church. What must have been the feelings of the poor man when the Good Samaritan placed him in the inn, and he found that all his expenses were to be paid, and that if he wanted more, when he came again it would be set right. What a condition of rest and freedom from care, and with what thankful, grateful expectation--not in fear--must he have waited for his friend to come back again! So it should be with us. We should not be too much troubled by the things of this world, but wait with restful, trustful hope in the Church militant, knowing that if we will but be patient, we shall find that this militant, suffering Church will be received into glory, and will be the Church at rest, splendidly triumphant.

See the closeness of the connection between members of the One Body in the Communion of Saints, and of each member of the Body with the Head.

O brethren, put these two pictures side by side. The one man fallen, by the side of road, and we in him, and the other the One enthroned in heaven, and let them teach us this lesson of unity, unity with one another, and of our restored unity with God.

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