From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 280-291
Addresses to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament
THE CATHOLICITY OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
THE SUPERIOR GENERAL'S ADDRESS
REVEREND AND DEAR BRETHREN OF THE CONFRATERNITY:
ALL bright blessings and joys be yours on this great festival. Surely if we can keep Thanksgiving Day for the fruits of the earth, we may well keep one for the greater gift of the Bread from Heaven. I can say nothing to you, dear Brethren, which you do not already know, and therefore my words to-day must simply be the echo of your own hearts. Let our conference be on the condition of our own Church, the contest which has arisen within her and the outlook.
What has been long foreseen has culminated in an open and organized effort to destroy the Catholicity of our Church. Under the influence of the scientific discovery of the last century men adopting the theory of evolution have questioned the divine origin of the universe and with it a revealed religion. The theory of evolution was only the discovery of a fuller process in the development of the universe, but not a discovery of origin. It does not involve the disbelief in an intellectual power working out creation's plan. The development of higher from lower forms of life was not a new idea to the Church, and had been asserted as long ago as St. Augustine's time. One of the ablest thinkers of our time, not a churchman, Prof. John Fiske, pointed out the fact that the disturbance occasioned by the discovery was not so great in religious matters as that when the Copernican system was discovered. But from the superficial presentation of the new discovery in magazines and by popular orators, the world, ever willing to escape its obligations to God, took up the lines of agnosticism.
The greater thirst for wealth developed by the spectacle of rapidly acquired and enormous fortunes also helped to paralyze men's souls to their spiritual aspirations and made them indifferent to religion. It is thus more difficult than ever to arouse degenerate human nature, inflated with the pride of its achievements in science, to a belief in God or to the offer of Heaven. The man of the world bends over his muck rake and will not lift his eyes to the Beatific vision; and the proffered crown, by his neglect here, he will lose forever. The sceptic smiles his sickly smile of cultivated scepticism and rejects the witness borne by the Christian consciousness to revelation, by the indwelling of God within the soul.
Yet, if there is not a God behind the Cosmos and we are but the results of fortuitous atoms, driven hither and thither, the sport of blind mechanical forces, then the universe is a horrible nightmare and annihilation were better than life. But our moral nature, as trustworthy as our bodily one, cries out against the theory which makes us madmen and the world a dream. The Cosmos is not a horror, but an intellectual wonder; and the Christian consciousness bears witness by its own union with its author, that there is a God. We know who He is, and that He dwells within us.
Along with this agnostic spirit there has arisen within the Church a school, that in the person of its pioneers, sought to meet this spirit of unbelief on its own grounds. The motive was commendable, but like all such movements, had its own dangers. The evangelical movement lost sight of the objective side of Christianity with the Church and its Sacraments. The Anglican was apt to forget that the Anglican communion was only a part of the Holy Catholic Church and subordinate to it.
While the Broad Churchman, governing himself by reason, neglected the Value of tradition and authority in attempting to satisfy the unbelief of the world, the school was led by its rationalism, in its extreme developments, to impute an ignorance to our Blessed Lord, which involved a denial of His Deity. With a diminished belief in the supernatural, it has largely rejected the miraculous in the Old and New Testament. It has questioned so much the authenticity and inspiration of the Gospels as to be forced to make a distinction between a rejected "historical Christ" and a creation of their own imagination, which they cared an "essential one." Along with this, as you well know, many have gone on to the further stage of unbelief and questioned our Lord's birth of the Blessed Virgin and the resur–rection of His crucified body from the tomb.
It is, moreover, contended that the Anglican Com–munion has broken with the fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, and adopted the Nestorian heresy that God took upon Himself the nature of a man, not of man. The ordinary layman does not understand the importance of the distinction. But if the Anglican Communion had decreed this, it would have apostatized and ceased to be a part of the Holy Catholic Church. No sincere believer in Christ and His Church could in safety to his soul remain in union with her. The history of the Reformation clearly shows that no such idea was in the mind of the Reformers, and there was no intention of breaking the continuity of the Church. Whatever changes were made at that time, the Church preserved the ancient Faith, ancient Priesthood and the ancient Worship. It was on this profession on the part of the Anglican Church that you and I, my Brethren, were led to give our lives and all that we have to the Church's service. We believe that the Church was honest and true in holding out to us that she was a branch of the Catholic Church, and not a deceiving harlot, endeavoring to entrap us into her embrace to ruin our lives in this world and our souls in the next. We must, therefore, with all the powers we possess, stand by her in this great emergency, and be willing, if so it is God's pleasure, to die as martyrs in her cause. Here, Christ by Ms Providence has placed us, and as it is as great an act of desertion for a soldier in battle to leave one post for another as to run away, so would it be for us to leave the position in Christ's Church assigned us by our great Commander.
We cannot be too thankful for the decision made in the Crapsey case, and the retirement from the ministry, by some of the Broad Churchmen. Their position is an illogical one and morally untenable. But, nevertheless, we must recognize the strength of this Broad Church party, that has a great many sympathizers, who cautiously, without committing themselves, uphold it. The Broad theology pleases the worldly and rationalistic mind. It makes no great demand upon faith, it presents an easy course of life, it satisfies the natural religious spirit by the philanthropic works in which it is engaged. It is championed by men of large wealth and by many of the wealthier Churches throughout the East. It has captured many sources of influence. It covers up its heresies by posing as liberal. It manifests little experience of the Gospel system of salvation or of the higher walks of the Saintly life. It is by its rationalism a formidable and threatening power to the inherited Catholicity of our Church. What, dear Brethren, in this aspect of the case shall we do?
First, let us gratefully remember the marvelous Providence of God that has watched over our own Church, for its protection in faith and its deliverance from its enemies. It is indeed marvelous to see how the hand of God has been over it, guiding and pro–tecting it. What a wonderful Providence, for in–stance, was that of the early death of King Edward the Sixth. Had that young Tudor, "Tiger Cub", as Dean Stanley called him, lived, he would, as he threatened to do, have thoroughly Protestantized the Church by his innovations. It was a costly trial to have Mary on the throne, but it was worth it to get rid of Edward the Sixth. What a merciful Providence was that which in Queen Elizabeth's time, defeated by storm, the Spanish Armada, and pre–served the Church from being brought again under the dominion of a medieval papacy. Nor was Cromwell and his Puritan hosts of fanatics able to crush or destroy the Church. It rose from its ashes resuscitated with life and faith, yet to meet a more severe trial. The withdrawal of the Saintly Non–jurors exposed the Church to the evils of an Erastian policy. We may have sometimes complained of the tyranny that closed the mouth of Convocation, which was the Church's council, for about 150 years. But when we think of the Church in that period, the character of its Bishops, its decay in doctrine and spirituality, we can be thankful that the Church in England was thus padlocked and rendered officially dumb. Again, in the last century, though it seemed at first like a blow to the Catholic cause, that it was deserted by Newman and some others, yet the great movement was protected thereby from falling under the leadership of any one man. The revival of Catholicity in the Church was seen to be of God, not of man; for man neither made nor could man mar it.
Very grateful indeed we ought to be to God, that in America the Church refused the offer made by Coke and Asbury, the superintendents of the Methodist body here, to join us and bring the followers of their society into the Episcopal Church, their proposal being that they should be made Bishops. Sometimes persons have thought that the Church lost a great opportunity. Really the Church saved herself from destruction. Had this large body of uninstructed and imperfectly formed Christians become a part of our Church they would have swamped us.
What a blessing we also have in our own American Church in the withdrawal, some years ago, under Bishop Cummins, of the Low Church party. They disbelieved in Baptismal Regeneration and the Sacramental system generally. They sought through the General Convention, just as the Broads are about to do now, to get the Prayer Book so changed that they could conscientiously say the Offices and stay in the Church. But the good God enabled the Church to stand firm and reject their proposals, and they, like honest men, withdrew from our communion. Their withdrawal and the rise of their sect is a living witness of the truth of the Catholic position and the loyalty of the Catholic-minded Churchmen to the Prayer Book.
Another notable Providence we may observe in England, where the Civil Courts fell into such deplorable contradictions respecting the Church's wor–ship. Their decisions so discredited their authority as to lead men to reject them and feel their way towards disestablishment. Until the Church there is free from State control, she can never fully recover her Catholic heritage. As it was the oppressions of Pharaoh that led to Israel's deliverance, so through the sufferings of the Church she will at last be made free. The Church is not for the glorification of any country, but for the saving and training of souls for the kingdom of Heaven.
We believe another sign of God's Providential care is to be seen in the late rejection of our orders by the papacy. It was, as we know, a mere political decision, and not a theological one. Knowing, as Anglicans do with absolute and divine certainty, that they are possessed of a priesthood and Sacraments, the Papal decision declared its own fallibility as clearly as when once the Papacy decided that the delivery of the instruments was essential to Ordination. Had the decision been in favor of our Orders it would have led to a great outburst of enthusiasm in behalf of the Papacy, and possibly the formation of a Uniat Church. God preserved our Church from thus committing suicide.
Here in America let us also be thankful for the attack made on the Church's faith by the extreme broad church rationalistic party. For many years past these dangerous errors of unbelief have been silently working, creeping like concealed fire through every department of the Church's life. It is a great mercy that an explosion took place in the McQuery and Crapsey cases. The latter roused the most slumbering conservative churchmen to the danger that threatens our Church's life. It is a cry of alarm like that that roused the sleeping prophet bound with withes. "The Philistines are upon thee." The present danger is so great that all conservative churchmen of both high and evangelical schools should draw together and make common cause against the common enemy. It becomes us, of the so-called Catholic party to avoid, as far as possible, giving any occasions of controversy or causes of alarm, and winning confidence by our loyal adhesion to the Prayer Book.
In the face of so great and unexaggerated danger, you naturally ask, "What further shall we do?" Dear Brethren, you and the Confraternity have a great mission from God. He has given you the enlightenment of the Catholic Faith and placed the great weapon of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in your hands, and you can daily plead the great memorial before the Almighty God, whose power nothing can resist. As surely as the walls of old fell before the hosts of Israel, marching with the Ark round Jericho, so will the walls of heresy fall at the persevering offerings of the Holy Eucharist. We must offer the Holy Sacrifice daily with great faith and devotion, and put our trust in the Lord.
And, as a further defense, may I again ask your interest in forwarding the development of religious Orders and Communities in our Church? They claim God's special protection and bring a special spiritual blessing and power to our communion. I took the liberty lately of sending you, my Brethren of the Clergy, an address prepared by a Religious of one of our Sisterhoods, which you might read on some occasion to your people. Church parents must be taught to realize that the highest honor Christ can do them is to call a son to the Priesthood or a daughter to the Religious life. God, who has a right to take any child away by death, has a right to call one into His service here. His call is always one to two parties, parents to give up, the child to come; and if obedient to Him, each will have part of the reward. To hinder or put obstacles in the way of a response to vocation is a grievous sin. I do not press this matter upon you more, but I feel that in a daily Eucharist and a revival of the religious life lies the safety of our Church.
We must encourage ourselves by the remembrance that we are living in the last times, and if the last final conflict with Anti-Christ is dawning upon us, we must lift up our heads, knowing our redemption draweth nigh. The Church Militant, which in answer to our Lord's prayer preserved an outward union as well as an inward unity for about 2000 years, has, like Israel before it, rich as it was in promises, become divided. The desire for a visible head or monarch led to Israel's disruption, and the same cause has led to that in the Christian Church. We see no Providential signs that the breach in Western Christendom will ever be healed. It is possible that inter-communion might be restored with the East, and it must first be restored with the East before that in the West can take place.
The types and prophecy of Christ seem, however, to point to the Church's apparent failure. "When Christ cometh will He find faith on the earth?" In every nation Christ must first be preached as a witness and then the blessed end will come. It is ours to make ready for it, by training souls in the spiritual life. Within the Church, as the time draws near, there will be a revival of saintliness and of that we see some signs. For that let us labor and in peace of mind leave the future to God.
I regret that the holding of my Diocesan Council prevents my being in bodily presence with you. I send you my sincere and loving greetings and benediction in the Lord. May He enlighten, bless and protect you in all your work for Him, in all your going out and coming in, until we all come to that blessed state where there is no more a coming in or a going out, but a rest eternal in His love and bliss.
C. C. FOND DU LAC,
Superior General, C. B. S.