From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 8),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 408-433
CHURCH PRINCIPLES AND CHURCH PARTIES
THE CHURCH OF THE ADVENT,
OCTOBER, 1904 BOSTON
Arise ye and let us go up to
unto the Lord our God. Sing with gladness. Zion
For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Their soul shall be as a watered garden
for I will turn their mourning into joy.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord. JEREMIAH xxxi.
THE assembling of the Bishops of the Church in the
, together with delegates, clerical and lay, from their dioceses, in this city, - unsurpassed in its intellectual activities and where thought is so keenly alive to every fresh aspect of religion - is an occasion of interest to all broad and liberally minded Christians. United States
It is an especial gratification to me, who owe so much to Boston, to confer with you to-day, here in this Parish Church with which as clergyman and layman for nigh twenty-four years I was connected, on our Church's heritage. The topic the occasion suggests is the American Episcopal Church, its characteristics, the parties within it, the questions before the coming Convention.
As there are many matters involved, let us fall to the consideration of our subject at once.
In speaking first of some of the characteristics of our communion, let us frankly acknowledge that if we do not dwell to-day upon its defects it is not that we are unaware of them, or unwilling to acknowledge them. If we dwell on some of our own distinctive principles and glories, it is not that we deny that other Christian religious bodies also have theirs.
The disruption of the Christian army, with the sad injuries which have resulted to every part, should make us all humble in respect of ourselves, and charitable towards all others. It would be a miserable revival of theological animosity to belie the Roman Catholic as a superstitious or an apostate church, or to regard the earnest members of Sectarian bodies as dwelling apart from covenanted grace. It would be more than churlish not to acknowledge the advantageous strictness of Rome's discipline, her firm upholding of the sacredness of marriage, her vivid realization of the unseen world, the deep spiritual teaching of her ascetic writers, the self-sacrificing lives of her priests, the inspiring beauty of her worship, the absorbing devotion and practical philanthropy of her religious orders. Nor are we to forget that Sectarians often put Churchmen to shame by the example of their personal piety and love to Christ, and how the leading evangelical bodies, much as we believe they have lost by separating themselves from their
, stand for a witness to some one great Christian truth relating either to Church government or personal religion. We pray for God's blessing on all sincere efforts made, wheresoever and by whomsoever, to advance the Kingdom of Christ, and for the benefit of our fellowmen. Mother Church
For the instruction and encouragement of our own people, let us dwell together this morning on some of the characteristic glories of our Church. " Arise ye and let us go up to
and sing with gladness for Jacob." Zion
The first glory of our church is her Continuity. She is not a sect of to-day or yesterday. She is not a man-made organization. She did not begin, as is mistakenly supposed, with King Henry VIII. He had about the same relation to her as Pontius Pilate had to Christianity. She reaches back in her history to Apostolic times. The authority and spiritual powers the Lord gave to His Apostles have been transmitted to us. The golden chain of the Apostolic succession binds our Bishops and Clergy to Christ. At the Reformation no new Church was founded. The Catholic Church in
rejected the medieval idea of the Papacy, as the great Eastern Patriarchs and the England of the East had done before. The ancient Faith as declared in the creeds and the undisputed Ecumenical Councils was retained. The appeal the Church made in the conduct of her reforms was to Holy Scripture and antiquity. While the general principle was correct, in the undertaking no doubt some mistakes' were made, and the Church while gaining much also suffered some loss. "We buy," as the statesman Burke said, "our blessings at a price." But no new Church was created, no change in Church government, save the rejection of the Papacy, was made. The priesthood and sacraments were preserved. The torch of living truth was safely handed on. One proof of this is to be found in the fact that of the 5600 clergy who had celebrated Mass under Queen Mary, only about some three hundred beneficed clergy are known to have refused to accept the Book of Common Prayer and conform under Queen Elizabeth. It is stated, on the authority of the great Chief Justice Coke, in a charge delivered by him at Orthodox Catholic Churches , that the Pope offered to allow the use of the Book of Common Prayer if the Queen would only submit to his supremacy. The able Unitarian professor, Beard, in his Hibbert lectures on this question of historic continuity, says: "There is no point at which it can be said, 'Here the old Norwich Church ends, here the new begins.'" The historian Freeman, the able Lord Chancellor Selbourne, the great statesman Gladstone, emphatically said the same. Judge Sir Robert Phillemore declared, "It is not only a religious but a legal error to suppose that a new Church was introduced into the Realm at the time of the Reformation. It is no less the language of our law than of our divinity, that the old Church was restored, not that a new one was substituted." Thus the Church, founded and organized by Christ and His Apostles, has come down to us through the ages, bearing unimpaired by any disaster the majestic treasures of the Apostolic order, the life-giving Sacraments, and the Catholic faith.
Another characteristic of our Church is seen in her government and the balanced distribution of the powers of her officers. To say she is an Episcopal Church gives but a very superficial account of her organization. There are Episcopal Churches and Episcopal Churches. If we look at the Mother Church of Jerusalem, which gave the type to which the Church in her growth naturally conformed, we find there a locally resident and presiding Apostle or Bishop
St.James, a body of Elders or Ministers of a second or subordinate order, and also a number of deacons. Here too the Apostles representing the whole Church assembled in council, and the decree they made ran in the name of no one as Supreme, but of all the Apostles, Elders, and brethren. We find here the principle of the solidarity of the Apostolate, and the coordinated authority of the several orders of the ministry.
There is a double tendency respecting governmental powers found in human society and in all nations: one to the centralization of authority in a single head; one to its distribution among the people. The principle of the one is Monarchy, of the other is Democracy. In the Church, the one expresses itself in Papalism, the other in Congregationalism. They are like the centrifugal and centripetal forces in Nature, each dangerous apart by itself, but in whose balance lies safety. In
, the Independents or Congregationalists complained that the laity had no voice in the Church's government; they objected alike to the three p's - Papacy, Prelacy and Presbyterianism. The Presbyterians objected to the practical exclusion of the Clergy from the choice of the Bishop, and that they no longer by their representatives formed a corona or advisory council, as in ancient days, about him. The Church in England has met these objections. The laity choose their own Rectors; the Clergy and laity together elect their Bishop. The Diocese makes its own canons. The Bishop governs and carries them out, aided by an elected council of advice. All the Bishops and Dioceses are bound together by the Church's ancient law, her own Constitution and Canons, the Book of Common Prayer, the living power of the Holy Ghost. So between the dangers of the two extremes, of Papal centralization with its love of power and princely worldliness and excessive dogmatism, and, on the other hand, of Individualism with its rationalistic rejection of authority and traditional government and worship, the Church preserves with balanced wisdom all her inherited powers in due and regulated subordination to each other, under Christ, her living and ever-present Head. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, He that scattered America will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. Israel
The third mark of the Church - we might almost say of the true Church - is the possession of the Right Rule of Faith. A most essential duty of the
is to teach her children how, with a reasonable certainty, they may know what Christ taught, and what they are as Christians to believe and do. We are presented in this time of division with three rules. They may be called the Protestant, Churchof Christ
the Roman, and the Catholic. The Protestant counsels us to take the Holy Scriptures and prayerfully therein make search for the truth. The Roman bids us listen to the infallible utterances, when speaking ex-cathedra, of the Pope. The Catholic tells us, in the language of Christ, to "hear the Church." Two difficulties lie in the way of accepting the first rule. Those who follow it, however earnest and conscientious, disagree, in essential matters, as to what the Bible teaches. Again, as the Bible could not have been in the hands of the people till printing was invented, it is clearly not the way our Lord ordained for coming to a knowledge of the faith. To the Roman method there are equally two objections. There are no certain tests by which it can be known when the Popes are speaking infallibly, and, as the dogma of the Papal Infallibility was not decreed until 1870, it is by some 300 years more modern than that of Protestantism. The Catholic rule for the individual is that which has existed from the beginning. It is, "Hear the Church, and acting on what thou hearest thou shalt come to know Him Who is the Way, the Life and the Truth."
The Catholic Rule for the guidance of the Church in her corporate capacity is Holy Scripture and' Catholic Tradition. Holy Scripture contains the Divine Revelation. It is the Word written. Catholic Tradition is the Word in action. It is the Gospel as manifested in its government, sacraments, practical belief and worship. It is the explanation or making plain of what Scripture contains. By Scripture and Catholic Tradition the Church is self-guided and guarded. Then she teaches, the Bible proves, Tradition confirms, the Sacraments communicate and make the truth to the individual vital and transforming.
Most errors, we may remark, have come from neglecting the Church's Rule and our Lord's injunction, "Call no man master." Led away by individuals, in olden times men followed Arius, Nestorius, and in modern times Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Wesley, and nearer to ourselves, seemingly great lights like Swedenborg and Irving. Our own country has not been free from those who, in like manner, come in their own name and so lead persons astray, like Joseph Smith, Dowie, or the Prophetess at Concord.
Do we ask where
the Church's voice is to be heard? She declares herself in her creeds, in the seven great Councils, in the living utterance of her Sacraments, in the common consent of Christendom. What is so certified and vouched for by the Holy Spirit in the common Christian consciousness and experience of the ages is her faith. All that lies beyond this certification are matters of pious opinion. This is the broad and sure foundation of the Church's teaching. It comes to us from the past, swelling with the added force of each century's experience, until as a living voice, we hear it to-day, saying, "I will lead them, I will cause them to walk in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble," "This is the truth and the way; walk ye in it."
And this brings us to another Church characteristic. It is her Comprehensiveness. She is comprehensive in two ways. First, as the Gospel net, gathering in of all kinds. She is not, as the Donatists or Puritans held, a select society of perfected souls. She is rather like a school, a reformatory, a hospital, if you will. She is the inn where the wounded soul, brought by the good Samaritan, is kept for healing. She is a school of perfection, like the house of Martha and Mary, where different souls are trained in different degrees of holiness; yet she is at the same time a flock under the care of one Loving Shepherd.
She is also comprehensive in her theology. It has ever been a mark of heresy to be intemperately logical. The Church is not illogical, but soberly recognizes the limits of reason in the domain of religion. Heresy was, in the past, ever saying, as it stated some one truth and pushed it to a one-sided logical conclusion, "Be logical."
"Be logical," said the Manichean, "evil is not derived from God, and, therefore, must be an original something independent of Him." "Be logical," said the Sabellian, "God is one and therefore cannot be three." "Be logical," said the Arian, "Jesus Christ is the son of God; a son cannot be coeval with his father." "Be logical," said the Nestorian, "Jesus Christ was man and was God, and therefore was two persons." "Be logical," said the Monothelite, "Jesus Christ was only one person, He could therefore have had but one will."
"Be logical," said the Calvinist of later times, "God predestinates, and therefore man has not free will." "Be logical," said the Lutheran, "man is justified by faith only and therefore baptism is not an instrument of justification." "Be logical," said the Zwinglian, " Christ's body is in heaven, how can it be at the same time.in the Sacrament?" "Be logical," said the Anabaptists, "the Gospel commands us to communicate our goods, therefore it does not sanction property in them." "Be logical," said the Quaker, "the Kingdom of God is within you, therefore Church and priesthood and Sacrament are needless. The Gospel enjoins meekness and love of our enemies, and therefore it forbids war."
Now the Church, in her opposition to the logic of heresy, recognizes the polarization of religious truths. There are truths and counter-truths. There are antinomies or opposites which must be held together. They look like contradictions when viewed apart. They are however like the opposing colors of the separated ends of the rainbow, which stand in reversed or opposing order, but which meet together in the great and often hidden keystone of the arch above. So evil does not emanate from God, it is not a principle in itself, but rather the lack of it. So God is One yet exists in a trinal personality. As the only begotten Son, the Son is of one substance with the Father, but as the brightness of the eternal glory He is coeval with its light. Jesus Christ was God and man. The two natures were not united after any mechanical manner, but hypostatically, and so in one Person Christ possessed two complete and perfect natures, and so had both a human and divine will. God, foreseeing, predestinates, yet forces not the human will, but leaves man free to make his choice. Justification is not only an acquittal but a making of us just; Baptism is the ordained instrument by which this gift of God is bestowed, and faith is the hand that makes it its own. Christ's humanity is at the right hand of power, in the midst of His body the Church, and He can make, by His omnipotence, that humanity manifest, without any local movement, at any time and in any and every part of that body as He will. He has ordained to do so in the Blessed Sacrament. He has bidden us to love our enemies, but He recognizes nationalities, and nations, with their respective missions and duties, must not bear the sword in vain.
Thus, in obedience to the great law of balance and proportion, the Anglican Church has held the many-sided Catholic faith in its comprehensive completeness. She is a safe guide, as a great teacher said, to all humble and willing souls. Behold, I will bring them and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame: a great company shall return thither.
Again, as another characteristic, the Church is possessed of a tender regard both to reason and authority. It is an old, old controversy, but is it not like that of the two knights, contending concerning the material of the shield suspended between them, each of whom saw only the one silver or wooden side that was presented to himself. The Church speaks with a voice of authority, because she is the authorized guardian and keeper of the faith and is enlightened and empowered by the Holy Ghost, but she teaches not with that harsh authority that would crush reason. The Church teaches with a loving, paternal authority. She teaches out of her treasure of inherited and garnered wisdom; she expects her children first to listen to her voice, as she declares the great saving message with which by her Master she has been entrusted. But then she desires her children, enlightened by their baptismal illumination, not merely to believe because taught, but by personal endeavor and investigation to be able to give a reason for the faith that is in them. Nor does she stop here. They must by practice make the truth their own, for religious truth differs from all others in this that to become a real possession it must be acted on. He that doeth His will shall know of the doctrine. And so by a daily ripening and perfecting in the faith it becomes not only a body of accepted truths but
takes a transforming possession of us. We become incorporated with it and it with us. The Gospel lives, burns, shines within us. Nay, more, it reveals a person; and Christ himself, by His spirit, more and more pervades, indwells, vivifies, glorifies us. It is a double possession; we are in Him and so saved by Him, He is in us and we are progressively transformed by His life. We advance, by each act of loving obedience and worship, more and more in the divine sonship, and in Christ become sons of God.
Let us refer to another of our Church's characteristics, namely: Her preservation of the two seemingly opposing principles of Conservatism and Progress. She has parted with neither, she keeps control of each. She finds her warrant for so doing in the life of God Himself. He is the same unchangeable Being; He is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. Yet as we tremblingly gaze into the Divine Life we see there also a law of Progress. >From all eternity He dwells in His unchangeable grandeur and all sufficingness,
yet wills the creative action. Thus time and space, ether and matter came into existence as a mirror of His own Wisdom and Beauty and Goodness and Love. The Church, which He bought with His own precious blood, evolving it out of the primal creation, He formed to exist for all Eternity. As the new creation it reflects also the two principles of His own Divine Being of fixedness and mobility. The Church, indwelt by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, is the luminous life-giving organism in which each member makes progress towards God. Like her Lord on Mt. Tabor, she is possessed of an inner Divine Light and Life which vivifies, exalts and transfigures her. As she possesses and is possessed by the Eternal Wisdom she abides in a divine constancy. The gates of hell cannot prevail against her life, the powers of evil cannot silence her witness. She may be wounded, as was her Lord and Spouse, in the house of her friends, but, however outwardly disunited, yet she will continue to proclaim the faith of the creeds. No discoveries can alter the facts they enshrine. The Church has upon her the mark thus of the constancy of God.
Yet, as a living Church with a mission to every generation of mankind, she must be alive to meet every developing need of humanity. She must enter into man's growing intellectual, moral, social life - yea, into his literary, musical, artistic one. Her mission is to mankind; to lift mankind upward and Godward; to ameliorate the condition of servitude and labor; to undo the chains of the slave; to bless every investigation and effort for the advancement of humanity; to mitigate the evils of war; to quicken all philanthropic enterprises; to enlarge men's hearts towards their fellow-men. And so in the domain of truth, while she is immovable in declaring the
faith once and for all revealed, allowing of no alteration by addition or diminution, rejecting the modern heresies of Protestantism, and the equally modern dogmas of the Papal Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception, yet she possesses the power to meet by her definitions the newer aspects of human knowledge in science and philosophy, and show how conformable they are to revealed truth. She stands thus in no conflict with the discoveries and ascertained results of modern sciences. She has to make no excuses for the condemnation of a Galileo or a Copernicus. She does not fear any established results of the higher criticism. She, in calm security, possesses her deposit of truth, knowing that every difficulty in the future, as in the past, will only confirm the Catholic faith.
Another glory of the Anglican Church is her Humanitarianism. I do not merely mean her philanthropic spirit. Thank God, that is growing in all Christian bodies. As the great motive of the Incarnation was love, so the Church, rising above the dust of her controversies, is being more enkindled with what alone can recover her effectiveness. It is being realized that charity must not be the dole of her riches, but the ministration of personal service. And so in the Church there have arisen,
among other agencies, Religious Orders and bands of men and women, more or less consecrated, and in more or less public ways, who have gone forward to speak as man to man, and to aid, by personal sympathy and counsel, their poorer and more struggling brothers. But it is also fair to say that in the great progress of civil and religious liberty the Anglican Church has played no insignificant part. We are surrounded by our great political blessings, which, in large measure, come to us through the aid and cooperation of the Church. The great act of Magna Charta in which our English forefathers asserted their liberty was secured by the cooperation of Langton, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, although it was subsequently condemned by the Pope. And may it not be remembered by us Americans, that Washington, and the large majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who took their lives in their hands by so doing, were Churchmen?
The Church thus comes to men like her Master, not merely to offer a future reward, or to save men from the penalty of sin, but to save from sin now by breaking its chains; not to offer merely a future heaven, but so elevating man that he may have a heaven within himself. She comes teaching men that in the unselfish life lies
the secret of happiness; how, emancipated from the show and ambitions of the world, to live both strenuously and simply, how to walk contentedly, happily, joyfully, as in the midst of the abiding city with angels and saints about us, and the eternal Light and Life in our hearts. I do not ask you how it is that the Church develops this interior life within us - you will all cry out, "It is by the Church's sacramental system." She not only places Christ before us in her Christian year, but brings us into active contact with His own life and being. For us Churchmen He is no historic figure, no ideal or example found in a book. He is no distant Lord enthroned on some far off throne. He is in us and we are in Him. He united us to Himself first in holy baptism, ordained and sealed us with His Spirit in confirmation, cleansed us with His precious blood in absolution, transformed us by the indwelling gift of Himself, bestowed in the Holy Eucharist. He abides in us, our life, our joy, our peace; our tranquillity, our abiding possession; our sure defense in life and death, our song and our salvation. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil. I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.
Now, let us turn to the other side of our subject: Church Parties. The term, though often used, is an unfortunate one. There are schools of thought amidst us, but few can be said to belong so exclusively to one as not in part to be in sympathy with another. Parties do not exist among us as in national life. We are first and last Churchmen, bound together by grace, by a stronger tie than makes us citizens of a country.
The differences existing relate to matters of policy, statements of doctrine, forms of worship. It is a token of our Church's strength that she does not seek to crush individual thought and action. True spiritual strength is found in union with diversity, not in an enforced lifeless uniformity.
In the coming Convention, questions of policy will be discussed, and strong conviction may express itself in strong terms. Superficial lookers-on may talk about our factions. The secular newspapers are not unlikely to regard the debates and votes as recording the triumph of one side over another. They mistakenly regard the Church synod as like unto a political convention. But the underlying principle upon which it proceeds is intrinsically different. In the political convention the object is, by the strife of debate and combination of forces, to discover the will of the majority. It is not so in a Church assembly. Our object is not to discover what is the will of the majority, but what is the mind of God. He makes His mind known to us by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and by the harmony of the various orders in the Church. For there are three distinctive bodies assembled in the Convention. There is the House of Bishops, who sit by virtue of their consecration
and as representatives of the Apostles. There are also the clergy, four sent from each diocese. They do not represent, as our members of Congress do, an equal number of constituents. They are chosen by their dioceses just as the United States Senators are chosen by the legislatures of their States; and so likewise it is with the lay delegates. The clergy and the laity, however, represent their respective degrees and orders of priesthood in the body of Christ. They come, all three together, to consult and learn what is the mind of their Divine Head. He makes His will known by the guidance of His Spirit, and by making men to be of one mind in an house. It is thus by the agreement of the several orders we humbly believe we know Christ's will.
Again there are allowed differences of ritual in the Church, the object and purpose of which allowance is often misunderstood. As an integral part of the Catholic Church, we have inherited our liturgical service, with its ancient ceremonial. The inroads of Puritanism and the chilly Erastianism of the eighteenth century impaired the Church's worship. It left the Church in the condition of a building with walls standing but somewhat burned and damaged by fire. We have simply been restoring our old homestead and recovering the
dignified furnishings of our Catholicity. "The Lord hath ransomed Jacob from the hand of him that was stronger than he." It is a foolish remark to count Ritualists as Medievalists. No sane person wishes the return of the Dark Ages. It is an equal error to
say we adopt ritual in imitation of Rome. Nor does it come from any desire for union with Rome. Union with Rome, while she maintains her present position, is impossible, indeed unthinkable. What is being done throughout the Anglican Communion, and it is the exclusive mark of no one school, is to claim our own as a true branch of the Catholic Church, and to make our services more devotional and more worthy of an offering to God.
The amount of ceremonial in any particular locality or Church must necessarily differ. We are no less one family because the costumes of its separate members are not absolutely alike. God, who makes Nature one, yet in the diversities found in every human face, in the leaf on every tree, shows that He hates uniformity. There may be a diseased desire for an absolute uniformity in matters of detail, as well as an unwise and unbridled license. Where, true to our inherited faith as enshrined in our Book of Common Prayer, the ceremonial is not so excessive as to center attention on itself, it is a useful teaching agency and an aid to the soul in its devotions. Thus the division in our Church respecting ritual is at the best but a superficial one. We may, in regard to it, quote an old saying: "We are divided superficially as the waves are divided from one another, but nevertheless are one, as the great underlying ocean is one."
There are differences of a doctrinal expression among us. This is often made a target by our critics. It is true these differences exist, but it is well to observe the theological distinction between dogmatic and systematic theology. By dogmatic theology we mean the great underlying essential facts of the Christian faith and the accredited dogmas which express and guard them. By systematic theology, the philosophical conceptions and explanations which unite them scientifically together.
Now, concerning the first, there is comparatively little difference between us. It is the grossest of slanders to say any of our Bishops do not believe in the facts of the Incarnation or Resurrection, as stated in the Creed. Our Church is practically at one in all that the creeds declare, and as a late pastoral of the Bishops stated, fixedness of interpretation is the essence of the creeds. In respect to the second as held by the great majority of Churchmen, their speculative differences do not affect the essentials of the Faith. Allow me to give a personal illustration of this. Some years ago, in conference with the great, noble, evangelical leader, Dr. Vinton, we discussed the differences between us relating to the crucial question of the Holy Eucharist. Beginning with that in which we agreed we found that we were in perfect accord on these points. We each believed that, for a valid Eucharist, it was necessary there should be an Apostolic Ministry validly ordained, together with the elements commanded by our Lord, and the serious use in public service of the words of institution and prayer. We were also at one in the necessary spiritual conditions for a rightful approach to the Great Mystery, and no one could declare more earnestly or warmly than my friend did that that which the communicant received was indeed verily and truly the Body and Blood of Christ. We were thus at one in our dogmatic belief. Where we found ourselves to be at variance
was when we attempted to explain, in philosophical language, what is indeed inexplicable, how the outward and inward parts were sacramentally identified. The schools of theology of which we are speaking were known, till late in the last century, as the High and Low, and now more popularly are called Catholic and Broad. What we would emphasize is that each stands for one element of the truth as it is in Christ. The old Low Churchman represented specially the evangelical or subjective side of religion. He dwelt upon the sinfulness of man's nature and his redemption by the atoning efficacy of Christ's cross, the necessity of conversion and a living faith. The High Churchman gave emphasis to the objective aspect of religion. Christianity had come into the world as an institution. An Apostolic Ministry was essential. The Sacraments were the ordained channels and instruments of conveying grace. The two schools were not in principle exclusive of one another. The truth lay in a wise combination. To-day we are in the
presence of two other seemingly opposite schools. There is the Broad or Rationalistic school. It is governed by the modern system of investigation. It seeks to present Christianity in accord with the discoveries of science and the demands of modern thought. It is impatient of traditionalism and trusts itself to the guidance of reason. The Catholic school, on the other hand, rests more on authority, on the guidance of the Holy Ghost as expressed in the collective wisdom and experience of Christians throughout all ages.
Now each system apart from itself, when pushed to the logical extreme has its own danger and leads into fatal error. The Subjective, or Low Church school of thought, unbalanced by the objective side of religion, leads to a denial of the Sacraments as instrumental and effective signs of grace. The Broad or Rationalistic school leads in its logical extreme to a denial of authority and the Church's inherited dogmatic faith. The extreme Catholic, or Pro-Roman one, by an excessive devotion to centralization in government and an impatience of diversity and a desire to be wise about that which is fitting, turns to the Papacy and to Western theological scholasticism.
But these errors lead to their own cure. The strong and inherent power of our Church is no more forcibly shown than in her inherent power of self-purification. She needs no inquisition or courts of law to do this. The faith is not preserved by ecclesiastical trials. Extremes tend to their own elimination. And so we have found the extreme Low Churchmen, in their denial of a true priesthood and sacramental grace, seceding from the Church, and founding a new sect called the Reformed Episcopalians. It was the honest and logical outcome of their theology. Likewise Catholics, who have become Pro-Romans, believing in the divine power of the Papacy, naturally gravitate to Rome. They go out from us because they have ceased to be Catholics, and become Papists. The Rationalistic Broad Churchmen, who deny the fundamental facts of the creed, unable to satisfy conscience and honor, by reading into them contradictions to their original meaning, find their relief, as many of them have and are doing, in abandoning the ministry. But the great mass of Churchmen, united in a common faith, one which the Church has held from the beginning and proclaims to-day throughout Christendom, grow more and more unitedly together; and aroused by the splendid mission of our race are more and more enkindled with the divine enthusiasm to press on the Kingdom of Christ. God has marvelously preserved the Anglican Communion from disruption and decay. He did not give her up in the coldness of the eighteenth century. He will not reject her now. She has a great future. She can accomplish it if divine charity unites us more closely and trustfully to one another and inflames our hearts with the spirit of heroic self-sacrifice for the service of God and our fellow-man.
The questions which will be presented before the coming Convention most interesting to the public will be the establishment of the provincial system, the rectification of the name of the Church on her title page, and the upholding of the sacredness and indissolubility of Christian marriage.
The question of marriage is perhaps the most important. The only argument of worth in favor of allowing the innocent party to re-marry in a case of divorce, is to be found in a saying of our Lord. But scholars have pronounced this text to be so uncertain that we cannot safely base an argument upon it; and if it were correct, our Lord is said not to be revealing the law governing Christians but that in relation to the Jew. Under the Gospel, Christian marriage was to bear witness to the indissolubility of Christ's union with His Church, and however hard it may be in certain cases for a Christian to bear the witness, Christ has promised that "My grace shall be sufficient for thee."
The great work of course of the Council is to quicken the missionary spirit within our Community, and to promote Christian fellowship. Follow the Council with your prayers and offer frequently the Holy Sacrifice for a blessing upon it. Let nothing discourage you, let nothing make you afraid. There have been dark days and evil days; days when men's hearts failing them for fear they have cowardly deserted their posts. Days when they were tempted to stretch forth a worldly hand to save the Ark. But there is a Heavenly Light shining within the Church. There is a Divine Power within her, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let us take courage and go forth. Offer the Holy Sacrifice and put your trust in the Lord. The great doctors of the Catholic Church, who in their day did valiantly for the faith, are with us. The departed worthies of the Anglican Church look down upon us from their thrones in glory. They send up their ardent intercessions in our behalf. The watchman on the mountain-top cries aloud: Arise ye! get ye up unto Mount Zion, unto the Lord your God! For thus saith the Lord: Fear ye not, O Israel, neither be thou dismayed. Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for I the Lord am with thee and will save thee. I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and have redeemed thee. Be glad and rejoice! And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over thee, to pluck up and to break down and to throw down, and to destroy and to afflict; so will I watch over thee to build and to plant, saith the Lord.