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Addresses to Candidates for Ordination
On the Questions in the Ordination Service

By Samuel Wilberforce
Lord Bishop of Oxford

Oxford and London: J.H. and Jas. Parker and F. and J. Rivington, 1860.

Address XIII. Obedience to Ordinary and other Chief Ministers.

THE concluding question of the Ordination Service, which we have now reached, may not at first sight appear to afford as much matter for profitable reflection as those which have preceded it. For it deals directly with our more external obligations, and the law of obedience to ecclesiastical superiors. Still, being placed as it is amongst those questions which are solemnly put to you at one of the most important moments of your life, in the midst of the prayers, exhortation, and benedictions of this holy service; being moreover put to you in the presence and in the name of God; and yet again, the obligation incurred by your answer to jr. being one of the conditions on which you receive your orders and exercise your ministry,--it is not possible, consistently with fulfilling the course on which I have entered, to pass it by.

There is, moreover, no question which concerns more directly your own duty and practice at many turns of your ministerial life; there is perhaps none which the temper of the present times and the independence of authority which that temper produces renders it more necessary for us to study and consider before we take the obligation on ourselves.

[254] The question, then, as it stands in the offices for the Ordination of Deacons and Priests when we take them together, is this--"Will you reverently obey your ordinary and other chief ministers of the Church, unto whom is committed the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgments?"

Now, as the obligation which you will contract by making the promise contained in your answer to this question, binds you to do what you understand the imposer of that question means you to promise, it is of great moment that you should understand rightly what is herein the mind of the Church of England.

This is, of course, to be at last deduced from the plain natural and grammatical sense of the words themselves; but it may aid us in finding that sense if we first briefly trace the origin of such a question in our Ordinal. In some respects its history appears at first sight to be singular. We have no trace of any such question in the earliest times. And the absence of this may seem to imply that the rule of the first order in the Christian ministry over those below itself was not then acknowledged, and that the obedience which this promise was intended to secure was not then enforced. But when we look more closely into the matter, we shall see that nothing can be farther from the fact. The authority of the ordaining bishop over the deacon or priest whom he ordained was then at least as great as at any later time. St. Paul's directions to Timothy and Titus, and the addresses to the angels of the Church in Asia, carry up the evidence of this rule even to apostolic times. [255/246] For St. Timothy was left "at Ephesus" that he "might charge some that they teach no other doctrine," and in doing this he was both to "command and teach." He was under certain rules "to receive an accusation against an elder," and to judge him, so that if need were he should even "rebuke him before all;" and Titus was left in Crete "to set in order the things that are wanting," "to stop the mouths" of "unruly talkers," and "to rebuke with all authority," suffering "no man to despise him;" and the Bishop of the Church of Ephesus is commended in the message of the Lord because he had "tried them which said they were apostles and were not, and had found them liars;" and in all the succeeding addresses to the angels of the Churches on them is charged the lack, or in them is commended the vigour, of that discipline which it was given them to administer. And if from the scanty records of the apostolic era we pass on to the succeeding history of the early Church, we find everywhere the same rule. Those of you who have read with any care the writings of St. Ignatius, must remember how frequently repeated are his exhortations on this head, as, for instance, to the Church at Smyrna, "Let all follow the Bishop as the Apostles," [S. Ignat. Smyr., viii. p. 18.] and again, in his letter to Polycarp, "Give heed unto the Bishop, that God may give heed to you." [Id. in Epist. ad Polyc, n. vi. p. 79.] And to the same effect speak the succeeding Fathers; amongst whom, as bearing remarkably on the special point with which we are now concerned, I may remind [255/256] you of Tertullian's words, "Dandi quidem (baptismum) habet jus, summus sacerdos qui cst Episcopus: dehinc presbyteri et diaconi; non tamen sine Episcopi auctoritate;" [Tertull. de Bapt., c. xvii. Paris, 1664, p. 230, C. 3.] in which words he expresses the then universally admitted principle that the priesthood and diaconate derived their authority from the Apostolical commission, given to the Episcopate, which accordingly he traces up to St. John himself, where, speaking of the succession of Bishops, he says, "Habemus et Joannis alumnas Ecclesias .... Ordo .... Episcoporum ad originem recensus in Johannem stabit auctorem." [Tertull. adv. Marcion, lib. iv. c. v. Paris, 1664, p. 415, D. 12.] And St. Irenaeus asserts that Hyginus, Bishop of Rome, "had the ninth lot of episcopal succession from the Apostles" [Iren. contra Haereses, lib. i. e. xxvii.] and that "to Linus, when they were founding and ordering the Church, the blessed Apostles delivered the episcopate for administering the Church. [Id., lib. iii. c. 3.]

The same principle pervades others of the earliest writers; as for instance where St. Jerome, that stout maintainer of the rights of presbyters, expressly declares, "Thence it has come to pass that without the command of the Bishop neither the Presbyter nor Deacon has the right of baptizing;" [Adversus Luciferianos, vol. iv. p. 295, Par. 1706.] and St. Ambrose adds, "Though the Presbyters may have done this, yet is the beginning of their ministry from the highest priest--a summo sacerdote,"--an expression explained, as we have seen, by Tertullian to mean the Bishop. [De Sacram., lib. iii. c. 1. Paris, 1590, ii. p. 362, c.]

Accordingly, following up this principle, the bond [256/257] of duty by which the ordained was bound to the ordainer was so strict that it could be released only at his own will and by his own act. No Bishop was allowed to take from the diocese of another his priests or deacons without his entire concurrence; [See Bingham, Antiquit., lib. iv. c. vi. °Ï 4.] whilst within his diocese the bishop's rule over his clergy was subject only to canonical restrictions on its exercise, which presuppose its authority, and to the appellate jurisdiction of the metropolitan, or provincial synod. [See this at length in Bingham, above quoted, lib. ii. c. iii. § 9.] All of these details, therefore, lead us back to what was then the universal estimate of the bishop's office, namely, that it was derived from the direct appointment and mission of Christ Himself, and so was the fountain and head of the derived authority and mission of deacons and priests. Thus in each Church the presiding bishop, as one member of the undivided episcopate, was held to be the depositary of ecclesiastical power and right for that diocese; whilst the priests and deacons, and other ministers of the Church, were, in their several grades, offices, and employments, his deputies. To him in his office, it was then believed, had been committed by Christ all the powers of the ministry which He had founded; whilst from that office, under the leading of the Spirit, had been derived by the Apostles, first the Diaconate, and then the Priesthood, the holders of which orders were entrusted severally with certain parts of the bishop's office, which they were in his behalf, and in his stead, to exercise under his direction in the different districts of the diocese in which they were placed, and so to [257/258] multiply by their ministrations that service which it was impossible for him to render everywhere in his own person.

So universal, indeed, was this belief, that the proofs of it are to be found in the records of almost every successive council, general, national, or provincial, which, either by direct canons or by the whole scope of their language and action, imply the obligation of all other ecclesiastics to obey their bishops. When this was first reduced into a specific promise of obedience, such as that which we are now considering, it is not so easy to say, nor is it of great moment. For the introduction of the specific promise marks the time, not when the duty of obedience was first asserted, but when the tendency to disobedience was from various causes so far strengthened that men sought to counteract it by the introduction of a specific promise to obey.

Some marks of this having been the origin of the pledge we are now considering survive in our own Ordinal, and are yet more plain in that of the rest of the Western Church. For whilst with us the promise of the priest is fuller than that of the deacon, including the pledge of submitting himself to the godly judgments, as well as of obeying the commands of his bishop, in the common ritual of the West it is the priest alone who makes any promise. For the deacon was held to be himself bound to obey his priest, and, as that priest was subject to the bishop, still more was his inferior in the ministry. The nearness of the presbyter to the bishop, and the larger authority with which he was trusted, were what rendered needful his promise of subjection. Of an actual promise of obedience some traces may be found [258/259] as early as the year 600 after Christ, and its adoption became gradually common in the Western Church. [The Tenth Council of Toledo, seventh century, expressly declares that obedience to bishops is to be promised by all who enter into Holy Orders. The following form is from a Latin Ordinal of the fourteenth or fifteenth century:--"Epus interrogat.--'Vis Epo tuo ad cujus parochiam ordinandus os obediens esse et consentiens in licitis secundum canonica statuta?' Resp.--'Volo et hoc Deo et Sanctis ejus ita in pracsenti promitto prout scio et adimplere valeo, ita me Dous adjuvet et Sancti ejus.' Epus dicat. 'Voluntatem tuam bonam et rectam ad perfectioncm sibi beneplacitum Deus perduere dignctur.' Resp.--'Amen.'"--(Pontific. Eccles. Mogunt. circ. 1400. An. Dni.) In the Roman Ordinal there is no promise made by a deacon. A priest makes the vow in the following manner, after the ordination, so far as regards the power to consecrate and to absolve, is concluded .--"Mox unusquisque iterum ad Pontificem accedit: et genuflexus ponit manus suas junctas inter manus Pontificis dicentis cuilibet, si suus est Ordinarius, 'Promittis, mihi et successoribus meis reverentiam, et obedicntiam?' Et ille respondet, 'Promitto.' Si vero Pontifex non est suus Ordinarius '. . . dicit singulis Presbyteris secularibus:' "Promittis Pontifici Ordinario tuo, &c, &c." There is nothing more promised than what is here stated. The question then arises respecting the meaning or extent of the terms "reverentiam et obedientiam." The question has been often discussed, but that which now regulates the practice of Rome, or rather what gives expression to the Roman doctrine, is the bull of Benedict XIV., Jan. 14, 1747. The subject seems to be exhausted by a sentence in the Summa Angelica, p. 245 (b):--"Illi enim qui praeest spiritualihus obediendum est in spiritualibus necessariis ad salutem, vel ad hanc pertinentibus, sicut Episcopo et caeteris praelatis ecclesiasticis ab his qui subjiciuntur jurisdictioni eorum."] In some cases it took the form of an oath, and in that form was more than once prohibited by councils. [Thus a canon of the Council, Cabilonens. II., ann. 813, enacts:--"Dictum est do quibusdam fratribus, quod eos quos ordinaturi sunt jurare cogant, quod digni sint, et contra canones non sint facturi, ct obedientes sint Epo, qui eos ordinat, et ecclesiae in quae ordinantur. Quod juramentum quia periculosimi est, omnes una inhibendum statuimus." One of the Decretal Epistles mentions a form used in the time of Innocent III. (thirteenth century), and in which this kind of promise to the Church is distinctly made. But Innocent III. ruled, on being consulted, that the promise chiefly regarded the bishop. Decret. ad Praepos. et capit. Placent. cap. cum Clerici xix., de verb. sign.] The [259/260] ground of objection, however, to it never was that it was the claim of any new authority, or the undue extension of one formerly existing, but that it was objectionable as a needless superfluity, because the very act of ordination implied the obligation; whilst in the form in which it was administered it might become the occasion of leading him who took it into sin. [See Thomassin, De Disciplin. Eccles.]

In the Eastern Church no express form of promise was ever introduced. But the same obligation of obedience was abundantly implied. [The following quotations will serve to prove--1. That the ceremonial in the ordination of a deacon is intended to shew the reverence due on his part to his bishop; 2. the same recognition in the ordination of a priest; 3. that the inferior offices derive their power from the plenitude of the episcopate.

[261] From the earliest times, then, we may trace the presence of this principle, that in ordination the priest and deacon contracted a new obligation of obedience to their bishop; and in the West, from the year 600 after Christ, we find this principle of obedience gradually fixed in the words of some direct engagement. The remarkable fact that our Church at the Reformation retained this actual promise, when, as a common rule, she cast aside all that was not primitive, amounts to a declaration on her part that she considered the obligation as always binding, and the express promise as needful for these days.

It is highly probable that the same appreciation of the temper of those unruly times, which, as we have seen, led our reformers to introduce the preceding question, induced them also to retain this; and so to testify against that growing contempt of authority which broke out afterwards into the sins and schisms of puritanical independence. "We should therefore conclude, unless there be some reason shewn to the contrary, that she retained the question and the promise in the same sense in which they were before employed, and that sense will agree best with the natural meaning of the words themselves, which we will now go on to examine. What, then, is first promised, is a reverent obedience, in answer to the question, "Will you reverently obey your ordinary?" by which no less can be meant than an obedience for conscience sake, as a matter of reverence, and not of legal necessity. To interpret this, then, as if it meant no more than "I will [261/262] submit to such commands as can by course of law and under penalty be enforced upon me," is a manifest evasion of the words, as it is of the intention, of the promise. For there would be no object in exacting a promise of submitting to that legal force to which without any such promise we must equally submit; and such a submission would manifestly be an enforced and not a reverent submission; a submission to power and not to duty; from fear, and not from love; from necessity, and not from reverence. Next, we should notice that the words which immediately follow, explain and limit this promise. They first explain it. For the description of the "chief ministers," as those "to whom is committed the charge and government over you," at once leads our thoughts up to Him who has committed to them this charge, and thus reminds us that our obedience to them is an obedience to Him, to be rendered, not for fear, but for conscience sake. At the same time the words which follow confine this promise of obedience to that subject-matter to which alone the charge of our spiritual rulers extends, that is to say, to our conduct as ministers of the Church of Christ. Moreover, the obedience promised is itself limited by those general laws which bind the ruler as much as the ruled; so that the ruler can properly enjoin upon those under his rule only either what those laws have previously enacted or by true logical deduction imply, or such matters as the Law has left to be settled by the voice of living authority. And accordingly the words continue; "following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting ourselves to their godly judgments." Where, again, the [262/263] ready submissive temper of one acting for conscience sake, and not under legal compulsion, is distinctly expressed; and the gloss that we are bound to obey such commands only as can, if we disobey, be enforced on us by processes of law, is absolutely excluded.

But another and a most important limitation to the duty of obedience is now brought in, namely, that the admonitions and judgments to which we submit must always be "godly." Here, then, arises a new question: how far, namely, this last limitation extends, which cannot be dismissed without some more particular enquiry.

There is, indeed, no doubt thus far: that by this limitation all obedience to any command which is contrary to God's will is expressly excluded. But then arises the further questions, 1st. How far does this word 'godly' extend? and then, 2ndly, Who is to judge how far any particular command is or is not godly?

For if the decision of this question rest altogether with the Ordinary, he may command that which he esteems to be godly, though in fact it is ungodly; and so, if absolute and unquestioning obedience be our duty, we may be compelled to do what is wrong; or if, on the other side, the receiver of the command is the sole judge of what is godly in the injunctions of authority, and if there be no certain limit to the extent of the term, he may conclude that every direction which crosses his own will, or is contrary to his own judgment, is one which, not being for the true furtherance of God's cause, he may lawfully reject as an ungodly judgment. Now the solution of this question must be found in a consideration of the ground on which alone the duty of obedience rests. We are, then, to obey those who have [263/264] the rule over us, because their power is from God. For "there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." [Rom. xiii. 1, 2.]

When, therefore, we are bidden by a competent authority to do anything or to leave it undone, we have at first sight simply one course, and that is to obey; because we are bound to consider the command which comes to us from an authority placed over us by God as coming to us from God Himself. And to this there can be but one valid counter-plea, namely, that the command which comes to us from the deputy contradicts the command of Him who sends him. This was the apostles' plea under the threatening of the Jewish rulers, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." [Acts iv. 19.] And again, "Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." [Acts v. 29.] And this plea, where it is rightly grounded, is undoubtedly valid. But then it is one which can be urged only in extreme cases, and it is put forward in every instance under a fearful risk. It docs not claim for the subject of command the right of settling for himself how much of that which is commanded he shall obey, which were to abolish all real obligations to obedience, but admitting that the measure of command is in the breast of authority, it impeaches him who holds this delegated power of being guilty of unfaithfulness to the highest source of all authority, and claims on the issue [264/265] of this charge to be at last justified as one who is indeed obeying the Principal in disobeying the immediate ruler. So that it is a plea which cannot be urged in defence of our preference of one lawful course rather than another; nor of our judgment of the more expedient of two lawful courses, but then only when we can appeal to God Himself that the command which we neglect or violate is contrary to His revealed will; when we can distinctly affirm, 'This is an ungodly command, and one therefore which I must disobey, or sin against the Lord.' This ultimate licence to disobey,--used under the awful risk of appealing to the Supreme Judge to reverse the general sentence of damnation pronounced upon the disobedient--all must concede who acknowledge the supremacy of conscience as the last authority to each man. But whilst we freely concede this, we are bound to add that to concede more is, in truth, to do away with all authority. [For such universal licence must be the result of that further liberty, sometimes claimed, at least in practice, for those under command, for whom it is urged that, under shelter of this limitation of submission to such judgments only as are godly, each one may settle for himself whether any particular direction be expedient or inexpedient, and then may either act upon it or reject it according to his own conclusion. For by such a rule not only would each one be left, in truth, to act upon his own opinion, but to exact a promise of submission would simply be absurd, since where our judgment concurred with the voice of authority the promise would be needless, and where they differed it would not apply.

To this, then, we must conclude that our promise of [265/266] obedience binds us; that in respect of our exercise of that ministry into which we seek to be admitted, we will submit our will to the commands, and our practice to the judgment of our spiritual rulers, within the limits of those laws by which they as well as we are bound, subject only to the further limitation, that nothing which is contrary to God's revealed will can be by them rightly ordered, or by us lawfully obeyed.

Thus much it has seemed to me, my brethren, needful to set plainly before you, as the explanation of that promise by which you are about to bind yourselves, and for your own practical guidance hereafter. And now let me turn your thoughts to another side of this subject, on which it is far pleasanter to me to speak.

Let me, then, pray you to notice that this whole provision for authority and obedience presupposes the existence upon earth of a spiritual kingdom of Christ, in the offices of which, with their responsibilities and powers, we are placed. And this, for your comfort and for our warning, ought to remind us both of the spiritual link which binds us together, and of what, as the correlative of your obedience, you are entitled to look for from your bishop. His is no office of this world, with its cold proprieties, its sharp-eyed suspicious vigilance, its rigid exactness of discipline, and its remorseless readiness to punish. His very title of command points us to a different standard, for he is to be "the father in God" of those committed to his government. His rule is to be, in the strictest sense of the word, "Paternal." There should be in it the tender sympathy, the continual oversight, the watchful providence, the glad rejoicing in success, the counsels of affection with their truth and [266/267] wisdom, the forbearance towards infirmity, the untiring love which distinguishes a father's rule. And this of necessity presupposes affectionate intercourse, a knowledge of your persons and your work, a glad readiness to enter with you into its detail, to consider with you all questions of difficulty, to take honestly the responsibility of advising you, to help you to bear the burdens which the weight or the perplexity of your duty or the opposition of men may bring upon you. Above all, it implies a fellowship with you in your watchings, labours, prayers, and intercessions; continual supplications for you and your work; united labour and worship with you, whenever they are possible; free and full consultations with you on all greater matters, and a living sense that to him is committed by God the diocese over which he presides as one great parish, in which you, as his fellow-workers, have your special share in that common task of which he, as set over all, is to render to the Supreme Lord his general account.

Surely, beloved brethren, if this scheme of a measured subordination of commission under one paternal rule were a plan merely of man's devising, it would be, of all plans we can conceive, that which would be the best fitted to secure that combination of a vigorous heartiness of independent action with an harmonious unity of common results, which in all great works is the truest security for full success. But if, instead of being a mere scheme of man's devising, we believe that this is the appointed organization of the Church of Christ; if in acting simply on it we may look for His Presence with us in our work; if these be of the "joints and bands" [267/268] by which "all the body holding the Head" has from it "nourishment ministered," and so is "knit together" and "increaseth with the increase of God;" [Col. ii. 19.] if it be indeed thus that from Christ "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love;" [Eph. x. 16.] then we can understand something of the full strength and blessedness which must result from our cleaving to it faithfully and closely. For then we shall be able faithfully to believe in, and so be ready, each one in our several place and work, to claim the presence, and direction, and comfort, and aid of that Divine Person of the blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, whose indwelling is promised to the Church of Christ. Then, through His blessing, may we look to find amongst us those great gifts both of the spiritual life in ourselves, and of ministerial usefulness towards others, which He vouchsafes only to the union of the highest measures of earnestness and obedience; to that bowing of the individual will, combined with the quickening of the individual conscience, for which the Gospel of Christ and that alone makes provision. And this will give to our labours, in our several rooms of service, that strength which comes from knowing that we are all but several channels of the common stream of His grace, each one a living member in the living body, with our own special charge from Christ, not feeble, separate persons, weakly striving against overmastering dangers. Thus may we be kept humble if God vouchsafes us success, and undismayed if He withholds it [268/269] from our best efforts. Thus, moreover, shall we exhibit, to those without, the true aspect of Christ's unbroken army, strong in the inward unity of love, and "terrible" to all assailants "as an army with banners."

On the other hand we cannot over-estimate the degree in which the life and efficiency of the Church must be impaired by the loss or weakening of this just subordination and connexion of her several parts. For this injury to her unity disturbs the flow of those currents of divine grace on which alone depend her inner life and outward efficiency, and soon brings decay into her whole being. The highest graces of seraphic love, intense and absorbing devotions, unsullied purity, and a noble prodigality of self-sacrifice disappear first; then the lower though most blessed gifts of earnestness and zeal in action are debased, first by the intermixture of personal vanity in her clergy, and then by party spirit everywhere. Individual pastors work for themselves with a self-willed independence of choice and action. Brotherly love is weakened, and mutual confidence impaired. Then knots of men gather round self-chosen leaders, party watchwords and cruel shibboleths are framed, and these increase the evil from which they sprung. A few draw together and draw apart from others. Then follow still more straitened graces, and the loss of charity, mutual repulsions, hard judgments, hard thoughts, hard words of one another; then comes separated action, the Church's instruments must be divided, societies must rival and weaken one another, men are to be judged as they are ranged under the banner of this or that association; earthly passions, earthly motives, earthly names, are debasing and dividing the [269/270] fair heritage of Christ. Then follow open strifes and angry recriminations, whilst, like obscene birds which scent from afar the coming carnage, calumnious and malignant publications, bred of our internal discords, flock unreproved about the servants of the Prince of purity and peace. How is the gracious Spirit grieved by such fightings and divisions! How many prayers are blown aside! How many hands are weakened! How many hearts are broken! Alas! how many souls are lost, by such unholy strifes! How is the seamless coat of Christ torn! How is the Holy Name blasphemed! How are the Church's graces lost! How is her white raiment stained and the place of her candlestick endangered by their continuance and increase!

Here, then, are the certain consequences of insubordination in the camp of God. Alas! beloved brethren, can we fail to perceive, as we trace them out and then reflect upon our own condition, that we as a Church have indeed abundant reason to cry mightily to God to enable us to see the "great dangers we are in through our unhappy divisions," and to beseech Him to pour into our estranged hearts the loving spirit of His long-suffering and uniting grace?

Here surely is the hindrance which, beyond all others, prevents our working a mighty deliverance on the earth. Surely here is that which straitens our graces, weakens our power in this nation, follows us with its debilitating influence into our separate parishes, destroys the authority of our ministrations, enfeebles and contracts our own hearts, and prevents their being chosen vessels full of grace for ourselves, and rich in benedictions for our flocks.

[271] What, then, at this our ordination season, can it be more important for us to weigh well than the causes of this weakening want of unity amongst us? What can be more profitable than to consider how far it may be traced up to ourselves and our own sins? what can be more seasonable for you than that now, as you enter on your course, you should see the need of beginning and continuing it in a spirit of loving obedience and dutiful submission? For let us remember that sin on either side may make impossible those relations of paternal rule which should exist between a bishop and his clergy. If he is haughty and arrogant, as a lord over God's heritage; if he is indolent and self-indulgent, forgetting the apostle's law of "he that ruleth, with diligence," if he is cold and unsympathizing, the sin lieth at his door. But if, on the other hand, the clergy who should be working under and with him are insubordinate and wilful, claiming fiercely their own independence, acting on their own schemes without him or against him; suspicious of his motives, jealous of his authority, careless of his co-operation, and rather desiring to limit what they deem his interference to the mere performance of the functional acts of confirming the young, ordaining clergy, and judging open evil doers, than to associate him with them in all their work, then they make impossible the full exercise amongst them of the bishop's office, and by their own waywardness break up the harmonious law of Christ's ordinance into the scattered and disordered efforts of human invention.

For what, then, can it be our duty to pray more earnestly than for the spirit of meekness, and gentleness, and docility, and unity, knowing that it is with this [271/272] that the strength of God is ever present, and that whilst He resisteth the proud He giveth grace to the humble? Surely in keeping this question till the last, the Church has meant to teach us that without this grace of submissiveness for Christ's sake to His appointments, all our other gifts, be they never so many, will prove vain and useless; that knowledge will puff us up, and power make us arrogant, and zeal lead us astray, unless there be the meekness of Christian charity to keep our hearts; that amidst all the watching of Christ's faithful servant, this must be the nearest to his heart, as it is to be learned the closest to his Master's Cross, that self-sacrifice, that hardest sacrifice of all, is the universal law of His service; that His wisdom is with the lowly, and that all other labours for Him will be worse than vain, unless we are enabled in our place of service in His Church to keep "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

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