From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 4),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 182-191
A Journey Godward
of a Servant of Jesus Christ
SCRIPTURE AND THE SACRAMENTS
"I will give power unto my two witnesses."
"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth."
I MUST apologize to my readers for introducing so much instruction into my book. One could write a book full of anecdotes concerning the persons one has met and details of old controversies which have passed away. I have said enough about the facts of my own outward life to satisfy curiosity, and will try to give some notion of my spiritual one. It is only with the intent of encouraging souls, poor and weak as mortals are, and helping them on, that I have been willing to write what I have. My readers and friends must let me preach a little and not merely write for their entertainment.
There were two things which necessarily engaged my Episcopal attention. The first was the degree of latitude permitted as to belief in Holy Scripture. According to the Church's teaching, Christianity is based upon a Person, Jesus Christ. The Church declares that as God has inspired the writers of Holy Scripture, He is to be regarded as its author. But the Church does not require us to believe in the Scriptures, but to believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Ghost, in the Holy Catholic Church. The relation of the Bible to the Church is this: she has separated some of her writings from others, which she calls her Holy Scriptures. She determines what writings are to be put in this class, and by the power of the Holy Ghost dwelling in her, she interprets them. She teaches her children the Faith which she has received from the beginning, and she cites her Holy Scriptures as a witness to it.
In our day there has been a more scientific investigation concerning the origin of the Books of Holy Scripture than ever before. The Church has no opposition to the investigation of science in any department of knowledge. Nothing has so far been demonstrated that contradicts the dogmas she has declared essential. We may allow, for instance, the allegorical character of the early chapters of Genesis without denying the sinful tendency found in man's nature by reason of heredity. Man has fallen away from God.
The late papal pronouncement forbidding a denial of the literal historic account of the origin of man and woman, and the story of the serpent and the apple, is much like the condemnation of Galileo and the Copernican theory. This denial had papal sanction. Now, again, Rome goes against modern science and its discovery. To deny what is called the Darwinian theory, or the evolutionary process, is as unwise as to deny the truth of the world's diurnal revolution or orbit about the sun. The one exception the papal decree allows is that the "day" of Genesis may be an indefinite period. Now the discovery of the law of progress in the natural world, rightly understood, is in favor of the doctrine of the progressive development of man (in and through the Incarnate Lord) into a final union with God, which secures sinlessness and eternal life. The grand mistake of Rome is not only in its denial of the truth revealed in nature, and discovered by science, but in its theory that God having made a perfect and supernatural being who fell by sin away from God came and died in order to restore man to his former condition. There is a partial truth in this. But the larger one is that God, in spite of man's sinfulness, came to forgive and lift him up into a higher degree of union and life in Himself than he had before. In the Incarnate One, creation advances to its completion. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of progress, and we attain to our new union with the divine life through Him.
Again, in respect of the Holy Scriptures: the Anglican Church stands for truth. It places no ban on research into the origin of the various biblical books. It encourages priests and laymen to study God's Holy Word. Nothing that science can discover concerning the origin of the books or the method of their compilation can affect their corroborative value as to the teaching of the Church. It is by living in the Church, and primarily listening to her teaching, that the written word is best understood. What the Holy Spirit has enlightened the Church to read out of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit put into it, to be so read. Differences of interpretation may exist about different texts, but the mind of the Spirit is to be found in the Church's common and enduring consent. Further let us say that the Anglican Church, along with the Primitive, requires nothing to be held as of faith but what is so proven by the written word. The Church teaches by the living witness of her organization, by the Creeds and Sacraments, and her children, responding in life, become incorporated with the Truth and are possessed with it. By authority, Scripture, and practice, the truth is believed in and known.
The next matter of importance in my Episcopate was the teaching of the Church's Sacramental system. As in the order of nature God gives us His gifts of life and its maintenance through ordained instrumentalities, so it is in the spiritual order. The Holy Scripture and the Sacraments are the two witnesses standing before the Temple of the Church, and they, by written word and action, declare the Faith. They are two independent witnesses. The Holy Scriptures are the Word written, the Sacraments are the Gospel in action. They are the two candlesticks which give us the Gospel light, the two olive trees filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. They have power with God to bring down blessing from heaven, and if any man hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth. War will be made against them by earthly powers, and the earth will rejoice over them, and they shall be accounted as dead, but they shall arise and stand on their feet, and great fear shall fall upon their enemies.
The Sacraments have a harmony between themselves. In the order of time Baptism is the first, because to live one must be born. Confirmation is next, because, being born, one must be clothed, or protected by heavenly armor. The Eucharist is next, for we must be fed, in order to live, with the Bread from Heaven. Penance follows as the remedy for the soul's sickness. Marriage gives subjects for the Sacraments, and Holy Orders gives ministers for them. Unction comes last, being for the good of the body and for commendation of the soul to God.
The Sacraments correspond with the Church's needs. Baptism gives us spiritual children. Confirmation makes them the Church's soldiers. Penance gives them back alive to her. The Eucharist provides a sacrificial work and feast upon the sacrifice. Orders prolong the personal ministration of Christ within the Church. Marriage reveals the mystery that the Church and Christ are one. Unction declares the abiding of the Spirit and prepares the Church's children for the meeting with their Lord.
The Sacraments declare our union with Christ. In Baptism we are made members of Him. In Confirmation we are united to His Mission. In Absolution we are cleansed by His Blood. In the Eucharist we are incorporated into Himself. In Holy Orders we are united to His priesthood. In unction we receive of His health and peace. In Matrimony we are joined in Him to one another.
The Sacraments are encyclopedic in their character as witnesses of the Gospel. Baptism reveals the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Eucharist bears witness to the truth of the Incarnation and our Lord's Death and Passion. The broken Bread and the outpoured Cup declare the mystery of His Atonement. The Eucharist witnesses to Christ's abiding Presence in His Church. Union with Him is the source of all resurrection and the bond of union which makes His Church indissolubly one.
I have dealt with the legality of the Church's ceremonial in the last three chapters of my work entitled "A Catholic Atlas." My legal studies convinced me that the ornaments-rubric in the English Prayer Book refers to a time anterior to the First Prayer Book of King Edward VI. With a legal argument, which I venture to think unanswerable, I demonstrated that the only position assigned by the rubric to the priest at the Consecration of the Elements was what is popularly called the eastward position. Moreover, I have shown that the rubric at the end of the Communion Service does not, literally and legally construed, forbid the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. It is an argument which I have not seen stated elsewhere, but which I believe to be thoroughly sound and in conformity with the rules of legal construction.
Twenty-five years from now, when the inherited prejudices of our Bishops have been so broken down as to allow of an impartial judgment, I do not doubt that the legality of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament will be generally acknowledged. It was reserved in the Early Church, to which we appeal, and carried to the sick. We cannot reject this use without rejecting the authority of antiquity. It is explicitly allowed in the Scotch Liturgy, and so cannot be held to be against the teaching of the Thirty-nine Articles, which are part of the Scotch Book. Our own American Prayer Book requires the consumption of the consecrated elements that "remain after the Communion." It thus differs from the English, which refers to that which remains when the whole service is concluded. The "Communion is over, and, according to the rubric in the ordering of priests, the Communion is done" before the service is ended. The American rubric, relating to the consumption of the elements, thus refers only to those which have to do with the Communion of the people present. It does not apply to what the priests might set aside for the Communion of the absent sick. I have given my reasons why the English rubric, honestly and legally construed, was set forth for the prevention of irreverence, and not to forbid reservation, and technically construed it does not do so. There are those who, from theological reasons, do not think the Blessed Sacrament should be extended beyond its purpose of Communion. Now, Reservation for the sick does not do this. But it is to be observed that the spirit of our Prayer Book does not so limit its use. For, unlike the custom in the Roman Church of the priest consuming the Blessed Sacrament after his own Communion, the Anglican rite compels the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, not for Communion, but for purposes of devotion. She has taken the Gloria in Excelsis from its original primitive position at the beginning of the service, and her children are compelled to utter this great act of praise and prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. She reserves it thus, not for Communion, but for devotion.
In America, freed, thank God, from State influence and from questions arising under the English rubric, I officially declared to our Council that our Prayer Book was to be interpreted in conformity with the traditions of the Universal Church of Christ. Our official ruling as Ordinary, and so publicly declared, was that the Eucharistic vestments, the mixed Chalice, wafer bread, the eastward position, lights on the altar or borne in procession, and incense were the allowed usage of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. I also ruled that the Blessed Sacrament might be reserved for the sick and carried to them. Moreover, I said to my clergy: "Whenever your people wish the anointing prescribed by St. James, you know that the oil is consecrated by us, as it was by my predecessor, and so none need be without the means used for the body's recovery or the comforting grace it brings to the soul at the time of its departure."
For my own part, in conformity with a report of the committee of the House of Bishops on Episcopal vestments, which recognizes the legality of the use of cope and mitre, I adopted these in the beginning of my Episcopate, without any adverse remark on the part of my people. So it has come to pass that the present generation of churchmen have always seen the Bishop in vestments which distinctively mark his office.
In travelling about my diocese it has been my habit to present to the churches and missions the altar ornaments in places where they did not have them. I would give as memorials of my visitation: candlesticks, altar desks, altar crucifixes, cruets, lavabo bowl, censers, or gongs, Eucharistic vestments, and, whenever an altar was built or restored, I insisted that there should be a tabernacle upon it.
As a result, the five points are, with one exception, universal, and there are over twenty Masses daily offered in the diocese. Here, where sixty years ago the Indians were roaming through the forest, and Christianity was almost unknown, we have such a revival of Catholic worship and teaching as Newman in his days at St. Mary's never dreamed of as possible. It is through the daily Sacrifice of the altar and the revival of the religious life that the Church's victory is assured.
The diocese is served by a body of spiritually minded and earnest clergy, and the success of the assertion of the Church's principles, as embodied in her Prayer Book and worship, is influencing the dioceses of the Middle West. Should these words find favor in the heart of any Catholic-minded layman to whom God has intrusted much means, he may be moved to aid this work financially. We need endowments for our mission work, cathedral, our sisterhood, and women's college.
My relation to the denominations has been most friendly. They have very often placed their churches at my disposal when wanting to preach in some locality where we had no church building of our own. As a token of their friendly regard the University at Appleton, which is under Methodist administration, gave me the degree of LL.D. It has been with me a study how, without sacrifice of principle on either side, Christians can be brought into recognized fellowship. We must all admit that our divisions have been a hindrance to the extension of Christ's Kingdom. We must try to eliminate sectarian jealousy and rivalries. We must recognize all the baptized as united to Christ and so to one another in Him. We should not let differences of opinion separate us. While theological correctness without a living, loving faith fails to unite savingly to Christ, errors of belief, if not wilful, do not do so. Let conferences among the clergy take the place of pulpit controversy. Let us avoid that irritating spirit of proselyting which our Lord condemned. When persons feel that their religious body has done what it can for their spiritual growth, no one objects to their changing their religious Church connection. We shall all do most for the Kingdom by growing in personal holiness, and so, coming closer to Christ, come closer to one another.
Transcribed by David Donnell, A.D. 2001
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