THESE Four Lectures were written at Riga in February, 1914, to be delivered the month following to a mixed audience, mainly Russian but partly also drawn from the English residents, at the invitation of the Russian Society for promoting Rapprochement between the Anglican and Eastern-Orthodox Churches. They are descriptive of a state of things familiar to English Churchmen but less well known abroad. In spite of this, however, it is thought that they may meet with some readers in England also, partly out of interest in the growing friendship between the English and Russian church leaders and partly because of the importance of the subjects treated.
They are not concerned with great points of theology or history, as were those which Father Puller gave in similar circumstances in May, 1912, and has since published both in Russian and in English. [The Continuity of the English Church.] But on the basis secured by his work they attempt to make a contribution to the process of edifying of one another in love which is now happily bringing English and Russian Churchmen into closer and more brotherly relations.
The lectures were written to be read sentence by sentence alternately with a Russian translation which Mr. Nicholai Lodygensky had prepared. They are printed substantially as they were delivered, without any attempt to alter the somewhat staccato style, which was necessitated by the circumstances of the case, or to change the matter or the presentment of the position. If they are to be printed in English at all, readers will wish to know what was actually said, and how the lecturer acquitted himself of the very difficult task of trying to describe such a complex and protean life as that of the English Church of to-day.
Those who have read Father Puller's book will know what generosity awaited him in Russia and with what enthusiasm his lectures were received. His successor can testify that that enthusiasm has by no means abated, and that he himself received no less generous a welcome. Mr. Sabler, the Ober Procuror of the Holy Synod, made himself, as before, the patron of the lectures, and on each occasion the host of the evening, welcoming us to his official house, entertaining us with every manifestation of official and personal kindness: and relieving the monotony of two alternately reading voices by bringing in the Students from the Academy and the Seminary to sing at intervals some of the wonderful Russian church music, in the inimitable Russian way.
It was a great cause of regret that Archbishop Serge, of Finland, the President of the Russian Society, was prevented at the last moment by bereavement and illness from being present. But the patronage of other bishops did what was possible to fill up the gap: and we English Churchmen may well be much encouraged by the interest which was openly shewn in the Lectures and their subject by the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, and a number of the Archbishops and Bishops.
There was less occasion afforded this time than by Father Puller's course for formal conferences such as he had with clergy and professors: but those who were most keenly interested appreciated the benefits that had resulted from them and were anxious that in some degree conferences should continue. Accordingly Bishop Anatolius, one of the suffragans of the Metropolitan, was good enough to summon a small conference, and to preside for a| hours over a discussion; which, while ranging very wide, was kept within bounds by his tactful chairmanship, and led to a good deal of further mutual understanding and appreciation.
Other lectures of a less formal character were given at Riga, Polotsk, Moscow, and in the Academy at the famous Troitza Monastery: and these in most cases led to some considerable and valuable discussion. But they were not suited to the press, and the general character of what was said may be gathered from the more formal course of lectures which is here printed.
The lecturer's object was to describe an existing state of things, but also to state ideals; therefore while not disguising shortcomings, he has attempted to make a picture rather than a photograph. Such a process necessarily involves the adoption of a particular point of view and the presentment of a personal outlook: but he has done his best to secure that the outlook should not be narrow or partisan, but should combine many of the features of a very varied landscape.
The lectures may now be regarded as forming part of a series, for they succeeded Father Puller's and are now in their turn to be followed by others. For it is hoped by the English Society--The Anglican and Eastern-Orthodox Churches Union--that we may have the advantage of some lectures in England on the Russian Church given by two distinguished Russian Churchmen, as well as see the Petersburg Lectures carried on this winter by a course to be given by Dr. Darwell Stone.
This little set owes much to the help and criticism of the translator, Mr. Lodygensky, who is the heart and centre of the movement in Russia, of Mme. Alexeieff, and of Mr. Paul Mansouroff, whom the writer desires to thank very heartily, and whose friendship is among the most valuable acquisitions that he has carried away from his last visit to Russia.