Project Canterbury









WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6, 1871.












"With one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel."--PHILIPPIANS i. 27.

I TRUST I address many here present with whom the study of God's Word is an habitual practice, and not merely an act of occasional caprice or momentary impulse, and who have therefore learned by blessed experience whither in these sacred pages to turn when in the moment of special need they desire to seek for the help of special grace.

Such of you, dear brethren, as are thus acquainted with the resources of Holy Writ, know, doubtless, full well the priceless value of this epistle to the Philippians from which my text is taken. You remember possibly dark seasons of conflict when the Tempter has seemed to be gaining the mastery over you by the insinuation of mean and selfish desires--when you have found yourselves acting from motives of pride and vain glory, nourishing uncharitable envious and resentful thoughts, or indulging in querulous and impatient murmurings; and when in your perplexity [3/4] and misery you have turned instinctively to this epistle and there found the special corrective for this hateful plague of latent selfishness.

Lest, however, there may be any one here to-day who has not had this experience, let me now address myself to such a one for a few moments, and say--When next you feel yourself tempted to yield to the arrogant pretensions of this tyrant Self that is striving so hard to reign within you; when the excitement of some great success is thrilling your heart with vain and ambitious thoughts; when your wounded spirit is quivering with the pain of some unexpected slight; when some unworthy jealousy is prompting you to distrust or suspect a fellow-man--or when in the agony of deferred or disappointed hopes you almost seem to hear a voice whispering that it is even time to distrust your Heavenly Father Himself; at such a moment, I say, try the experiment of submitting that fevered and throbbing heart of yours to the tranquillizing influences so richly provided for your special need in this special portion of God's holy word. Read the noble utterances of that prisoner, Paul. Hear him speaking even of his bonds with joy because having "become manifest in the Palace" they had, he says, emboldened many of the brethren to "speak the word without fear," and had thus tended "rather to the furtherance of the Gospel." Mark that large-hearted spirit, that total absence of party-feeling, that single-minded zeal for the cause of truth, which made [4/5] him rejoice that Christ was preached even though it were by those who did so of "envy and strife" and contention, supposing "to add affliction" to his bonds. Listen to the words of earnest and affectionate entreaty, in which, having thus set the example of self-sacrifice himself, he is able with double power to exhort others to "do nothing through strife or vain glory," but in "lowliness of mind" to esteem others better than themselves, and to look not only on their "own things but also on the things of others." But chiefly join with the apostle in raising the eye of faith upwards, above the tempestuous thoughts that surge and swell within your self-tormented heart; above the noisy envyings and contentions that battle around you in the outer world; and let it fix its gaze on Him who for your sake "made Himself of no reputation," who for your sake "humbled Himself" and "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;" and as you think with grateful devotion of such amazing love, surely through the power of God's Holy Spirit you will find the ennobling influence of this great example, and the "expulsive power" (as it has been well called) of this "new affection," scattering away like leaves before the wind those little troublous thoughts, those paltry vanities and envyings and complainings wherewith Self had been distracting your wretched heart! Surely you will feel it to be a blessed exchange to be rid of all these miseries, [5/6] and in their place to "let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!"

But this is not all; were these gracious influences merely to lighten your heart from its burden of fear and sin they would have done much, but they would have accomplished only half their work; for if you are to be thoroughly unselfish you must think of something more than your personal peace, or your personal holiness; you must be brought to recognize the further (and the higher, because less selfish), duty that devolves upon you as the member of a Christian Church--the duty of brotherly union with your fellow-Churchmen in the active furtherance of the Gospel of Christ. Now, brethren, the lessons contained in this Epistle are specially designed to impress upon us this solemn responsibility, and nowhere does the Apostle urge it with more force than when in the passage, which I have chosen for my text, he exhorts the members of the Philippian Church to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." [The words in the original, translated in our English version "Striving together for the faith," are rendered by Lightfoot and others "Striving in concert with the faith." The spirit of the preceding words, and the analogy of Jude 3 ("contending for the faith,") seem in favour of the present translation, which Alford supports. But even if this be not the correct version, the context "in one spirit and with one mind," is sufficient to stamp the whole passage as an incentive to unity, which is sufficient for the purpose of this sermon.]

Brethren, thank God, we, the members of the Irish Church, have the same blessed faith of the Gospel for [6/7] which to contend. How shall we best strive for it together, in one spirit and in one mind? In other words HOW SHALL CHURCH UNITY BE BEST PRESERVED in this our present crisis of difficulty and danger? This, to us of the present day, is a question of the most vital importance, and to this question I shall now, God helping me, endeavor to apply myself.

I have said that this is a question of vital importance to us, Irish Churchmen, at the present time. I do not mean thereby to imply that our Church has hitherto shown herself wanting in a spirit of unity. Very far from it! No Church ever has been free from internal divisions, and until the great Church of the future meets to chant her anthems before the eternal throne, no Church ever will be free from them; and no doubt, when we compare our Church with the ideal of what a Church ought to be, we have much cause for shame and confusion of face. But if we compare our Church with other Churches, I am bold to say, in a spirit of thankfulness, not of boasting, that she will not suffer by the comparison. Looking back especially on the ordeal through which we have passed during the last two years, and remembering that brethren wholly unused to the dangers of public debate, and wholly untrained in the discipline of mutual concession, have been suddenly called upon to discuss questions on which feeling ran high, and to settle differences which to many seemed irreconcilable, I cannot help praising God that He has to so great an extent enabled [7/8] us to preserve amongst us unharmed--nay, I would say intensified--our former feelings of brotherly love, that he has taught us so often to forget party-feeling for the sake of peace, and to sacrifice many dearly-cherished opinions for the sake of unity--in other words to "strive together" hitherto, as far as poor human nature will allow, "in one spirit and with one mind."

When, therefore, I speak of the vital importance of Church unity at the present time, I am not regretfully looking back on any deficiencies in the past, I am rather looking forward anxiously, and yet hopefully, to solemn responsibilities in the future.

Oh! brethren let us think of what those responsibilities are, so that our hearts may be stirred to labour and pray for this essential grace of unity. Let us remember the position which we claim to occupy in this land as a National Church--let us recall the sacred memories, the unbroken lineage, and above all the identity of faith which link us on to the antient Church of Ireland, that pure Episcopal Church that for so many centuries withstood the errors and pretensions of Rome, and which has left us an inheritance of fame and of duty to preserve and to hand down untarnished to our children's children!" [Appendix.] And even if such associations of the past fail to touch our hearts let us remember that we have taken upon ourselves the responsibilities of a National [8/9] Church in the present, that we have claimed the name of "The Church of Ireland," and that if that claim be not a mere hypocritical vaunt, we are resolved to make it good by retaining our occupation of every corner of the land, and by striving to make known the Gospel to all, whether of our own communion or not, whom we believe to stand in need of its blessed influences. [The following weighty words of the Archbishop of Dublin in his recent Charge, deserve the consideration of every Irish Churchman at the present time: "Some may wonder that after all which has befallen us, I should still claim this national character as belonging to it. I see no reason for letting go this word or the claim which it involves. The instinct by which, with one mind and one heart, we all resolved that, whatever else was taken from us, we would retain this, and know ourselves by no other name than 'The Church of Ireland,' has always seemed to be one of the most hopeful auguries for our future. In our territorial system, which we shall maintain in our churches, which we have never by any legal enactment estranged from the use of all, we claim the entire land for our possession, and offer to all that dwell in it the rich treasures of the Gospel of the Grace of God, which have been committed to our keeping; or, if we fail and fall short of this, it is through the inadequacy of our means, and through this alone. I see not how a Church, which is not willing to relapse into a sect, can make lower claims than these."] Let us remember too, that tide of infidelity, which seems to be coming in on every side around us as a flood, and which threatens us with even greater dangers than any with which we have yet had to contend. Oh! in the presence of such responsibilities, and in the prospect of such dangers, is it possible, I would ask, for Irish Churchmen to over-estimate the solemn duty of unity? Our merciful God who has hitherto preserved us and kept us together, is watching us to see how we shall fulfil [9/10] the trust committed to our charge,--how we shall bravely "fight the good fight of faith"--in this land. If, in the very day of battle, we should wantonly begin to wrangle among ourselves, and to break into contending sections those ranks which should go forward with serried front to meet the duties and dangers of the future, how can we escape His sore displeasure?

Brethren, I have no dread of such a result--and if I have for a moment drawn a picture of possible disunion, it is only that by the contrast we may all be led to prize the more dearly that unity, which, as I believe in my heart, we are already resolved, with God's help, to preserve!

But assuming that we are all thus earnestly resolved to perpetuate (I will not say to establish) union amongst ourselves, the question still remains--HOW BEST IS UNITY TO BE PRESERVED?

As the time remaining at my disposal is short, I shall consider this question in its connection with two only of those difficult tasks in which our Church is at present engaged; but they are the two which now engross the attention of every loyal-minded Churchman, and to the success of which a spirit of unity would seem to be essential. I allude, first, to the task of FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION; and, secondly, to the task of LITURGICAL REVISION.

As regards the former, I confess that I feel most hopeful. We have, as it seems to me, begun well. We have so far resolved upon the adoption of an [10/11] unselfish principle, that although conscious of the provision which is made for us of the present generation, by the annuities secured to the Clergy, we have, with an instinctive and almost unanimous impulse, resolved that we shall not so sin against God, or so degrade ourselves in the eyes of men, as to grasp meanly the whole of this advantage, and leave to our children the whole burden of maintaining a Church left destitute by our sordid parsimony! As individuals, we have thus, with few exceptions, abjured the principle of selfishness. May the same spirit manifest itself in our Congregations and Dioceses. May Congregations and Dioceses shrink from the narrow-hearted policy of providing only for themselves. May that ignoble principle--'Every man for himself--every Parish for itself--every Diocese for itself'--find no favour amongst us. It may, no doubt, be desirable to have separate Parochial Endowments, and it may be found necessary, though I wish it might be otherwise, to have separate Diocesan Financial Schemes; but even so, our sympathies should travel out beyond the Parish and the Diocese, and we should never forget that we are all members of one body, and that if through the greed of the stronger members any of the weaker members should suffer, our Church will not be held blameless in the sight of God! Brethren, for my part, I am, as I have said, sanguine as to the result. The discipline of giving is not to be learned in a moment; and while [11/12] our financial plans still await their perfection, some perhaps will hold back for a time who ought to cast their gifts more unhesitatingly into the common treasury; but I feel confident from all I see and hear that before very long the need and duty of giving will be more generally understood; and that then all that is wanting will be supplied--supplied too upon that principle of unselfish unity which prompts every man to "look not merely on his own things, but also on the things of others."

It only remains for me now to consider this principle of unity, in connection with that other important task in which our Church is engaged the work of LITURGICAL REVISION.

Brethren, in dealing with this difficult question, God knoweth I have no desire to speak overconfidently, or in any spirit of disrespect for the opinions of those whose views may not coincide with my own. This would indeed tend to a violation of that very spirit of unity in our Church which it is my dearest object in life to preserve. But I have deep-felt convictions as to the duty of our Church at this eventful crisis, and I should not be deserving of the position of a minister in that Church were I not to try and impress them earnestly upon my fellow Churchmen. Let me then ask for your candid attention as I approach this question by examining a statement which, if true, would indeed be very disheartening, but which seems to me to involve a strange misapprehension. [12/13] I refer to the assertion that Liturgical Revision, so far as our Church is concerned at the present time, is in itself inconsistent with the maintenance of unity. If this be so, if Revision is equivalent to disunion, it would be mere waste of time to discuss it except for the purpose of condemning it altogether. Let us therefore enquire how far there are any grounds for such a supposition.

Is Revision, let me ask in the first place, inconsistant with unity so far as our relationship to the English Church is concerned--and in order to answer this, let me ask what is the nature of that relationship?

For the first 700 years of her existence (from the fifth to the twelfth century) our Church was an independent Church. At the Synod of Cashel in 1172, she conformed herself in all Divine rites to the Anglican Church, upon condition that State Protection should be afforded to her in the collection of her tithes and other ecclesiastical dues. [See Statutes of Council quoted in King's Church History, vol. ii. 516, 518. Also Pope Alexander's letter to Bishops.--Ibid. p. 536.] The Churches that were thus ecclesiastically united under the terms of this covenant were further united beneath our Imperial Parliament by the Act of Union in 1800.

The original covenant and the Parliamentary Union have both been dissolved by the Irish Church Act, by which Act we were deprived of the protection of the State, and consequently released from any promise of conformity to the English Church conditional on that [13/14] protection. To speak, therefore, of any departure on our parts from that conformity, as approaching in the least degree to a breach of an existing covenant, appears to me to be altogether inconsistent with a correct appreciation of the terms on which that covenant was based. [No doubt it was competent for the Irish Church, when released from the conditions of the former covenant, to have voluntarily re-imposed these obligations of union and conformity on herself. But not only did she deem it inexpedient in her altered circumstances so to do, but when the principles on which her Constitution was to be based, were under the consideration of the General Convention, two propositions--one declaring that the Irish Church Act had dissolved only the Parliamentary (and not the Ecclesiastical) Union between the two Churches, the other guaranteeing the maintenance, as heretofore, of agreement with the Church of England--were negatived without a division. Upon the other hand a clause was inserted affirming the continuance of that higher bond of union which should link together all Christian Churches that agree in the essential principles of Christian faith and Apostolic order. This clause was as follows--"The Church of Ireland will maintain communion with the Sister Church of England, and with all other Christian Churches agreeing in the principles of this declaration, and will set forward, so far as in it lieth, quietness, peace, and love among all Christian people." See Journal of Convention, pp. 20, 24.]

But are we, therefore, no longer united in any sense to our Sister Church in England? God forbid! We remain united to that Church by those stronger and more lasting bonds of Christian Union which must continue to link together Churches agreeing as to the same essentials of pure doctrine and apostolic order, bonds of real unity in comparison with which any mere ritual uniformity must be counted as of little moment. And shall we say that these holier bonds of sisterly affection and doctrinal unity will be affected by a mere divergence in our liturgical forms? Has this principle ever been asserted in the annals of [14/15] Christendom? What Church, for example has ever boasted of unity as the Church of Rome has done?--And yet had not almost every Province of that Church its separate Liturgy or Sacramentary--and did not these formularies differ one from the other in points which are now by some supposed of almost essential importance? Again do we not find in the English Church, before the Reformation, not only Provinces but even Dioceses framing and using separate formularies, such as the Salisbury or Sarum use, the Hereford use, and many others of which I need scarcely remind you? Did these Provinces of the Romish Church, or these Dioceses of the Antient English Church, violate the principles of unity and degrade themselves to the level of sects by the adoption of separate formularies? Surely such a position cannot be maintained for a moment. [In the collections of antient Services contained in the great works of Morinus, Martene, and Muratori there are no less than thirty.six different Ordination Services. Yet all these were used by parts of one and the same Roman Communion. The divergence between the different "uses" in the English Church (referred to in the Preface to our Prayer Book) was in some instances very marked. For example, out of six Ordinals used in the English Church before the Reformation only one used the words "Receive the Holy Ghost" in the ordination of a Bishop.]

But take the more recent case of those English Colonists who first formed themselves into that independent community which is now known as the Episcopal Church of America, and which is acknowledged to be one of the most flourishing and powerful branches of the Anglican Communion.

[16] When these Colonists first assumed an attitude of independence they could not, as we can, lay claim to the precedent of a separate existence as a National Church in times past; their Church was moreover insignificant in regard of numbers compared with ours, and yet when pressed by the exigencies of their position, they did not consider themselves disqualified from entering upon a work of Revision involving alterations of a very important character indeed.

[For example;--the removal from the Prayer Book of the Athanasian Creed and the omission of the reference to it in the eighth Article;--the substitution (in the Service for Private Baptism) of the words "incorporated into the Christian Church" for the words "by the laver of regeneration received into the number of the children of God, &c." The substitution (in the Catechism) of the words "spiritually taken and received" for the phrase "verily and indeed taken and received;"--the omission of the Absolution in the service for the Visitation of the Sick;--and the introduction in the Ordinal of an alternative form (to be used during the imposition of hands) in which the words "Receive the Holy Ghost . . . . whose sins thou dost forgive they are forgiven" do not appear; and many other changes of no small significance.

[The following extracts from the Preface to the American Prayer Book state very clearly the principles which guided its revisers in their work:

["It is a most invaluable part of that blessed liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire. . . . . . . When in the course of Divine Providence these American States became independent, . . . the attention of this Church was first drawn to those alterations in the Liturgy which became necessary in the prayers for our Civil Rulers in consequence of the Revolution. But while these alterations were in review before the Convention, they could not but with gratitude to God embrace the happy occasion which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unrestrained by any worldly authority whatsoever) to take a further review of the Public Service and to establish such other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedient."

[How accurately some of these words describe the position of the Irish Church. Surely under similar circumstances it is not unreasonable for us to act in a similar manner.]

[17] And with what result? Have they degenerated to the level of a sect? Are they so regarded now by the Church of England? Has the principle of unity between them and the English Church been violated.? Have the bonds of Christian union, supplied by essential agreement as to doctrine and Church order, proved insufficient, in the absence of rigid liturgical uniformity, to preserve for them the respect and affection of their Mother Church?

Brethren, I will answer this question by pointing to the proceedings of the General Convention of the American Church that has just concluded its Session in Baltimore, and which was on this occasion visited by a Bishop and several Clergymen from the English Church. Some of you have, doubtless, read the account of the reception given to these visitors from the mother country. If so, you will bear me out when I say that the scene was one of thrilling interest, and that never did two Churches interchange more touching words of love, trust, and perfect unity. And yet this Daughter Church is one which has thought it right to revise her Prayer Book. Will the Sister Church be shut out from the hope of a similar intercommunion of love and sympathy, simply because she has found it necessary to do the same?'

[A deeply interesting report of these proceedings appears in the "Guardian" (English) newspaper of the 25th October last. A leading article commenting on the scene says: "To us in England this solemn assembly of a Church which draws its birth from our own, and uses with slight alteration our own Prayer Book, can never be a matter of indifference. But on the present occasion it is marked with a striking act of inter-communion." It then refers to the reception with which Bishop Selwyn and Dean Howson were greeted by the Convention, and concludes with the following words:--"we trust that the two Churches will continue to show an increasing interest in each other's labours, and that the presence of an English Bishop and Dean in an American Convention may be accepted as a true token of the deep strong bonds which. under many external and superficial distinctions unite them closely together." May the day be not far distant when, even though we too may have revised our Prayer Book, our Irish Church Synods may be honoured with the presence of similarly friendly visitors from the Sister Church. I have no doubt they will receive as hearty a welcome.

[Since writing the above I have read an account (in the Guardian of December 13) of the farewell breakfast given in honour of Bishop Selwyn a few days before his return to England. I extract the following passage from the report of the Bishop's speech on that occasion:

["The second point by which I have been impressed is the unity of the two branches of our beloved Church. Neither I nor my brother Clergymen who have come with me, can have the slightest doubt of that. We have joined with you in your General Convention. We have heard those spirited yet temperate debates in which you have discussed the most vital questions winch concern the Church's welfare. we have visited you in your homes, and taken part with you in the ministrations of the Church, have been invited to address your congregations in your pulpits, and there is not one respect in which we have not felt from day to day and from hour to hour that we are brethren united in the same Church, joined together with the same bond of charity 'the very bond of peace and of all perfectness!'"

[It is not a little remarkable that the gift then presented to the Bishop as a memorial of his visit, and as a token of "the real bond of union" between the two Churches was a copy of that very Book of Common Prayer which the American Church has thought it expedient to revise.

[18] I have, I trust, shown that Liturgical Revision is not inconsistent with the maintenance of Christian union, in its truest sense, with the Sister Church in England. I now proceed to show that it is not inconsistent with the preservation of perfect unity within our own communion.

It has, I know, been said, that there are some members of our Church who are resolved to leave her, [18/19] if any alteration whatsoever, except of a merely formal character, be made in the Prayer Book as it at present stands.

Upon the other hand, we are told of a large number of Irish Churchmen who say that a time has arrived when the Church from her independent position can remove burdens which have long pressed upon many consciences, and can provide against the spread of errors which are making fatal progress in the sister country, and that if the Church should now fail in her duty in this respect they could no longer render to her the same allegiance which she had hitherto claimed at their hands.

Now, brethren, with regard to these supposed tendencies towards disruption, whether on the one side or the other, I am free to say, that I should regard as little less than a sin the secession of any member from our Church whose own conscience was not actually burdened with such scruples as would make it impossible for him to remain. I therefore do not think that the Church, when considering the question of Revision, should be influenced by any threats of secession based upon unreasonable grounds, either on the part of those who desire alterations in the Prayer Book or of those who protest against them. But while I say this I feel very strongly that it is the duty of the Church to look fairly on all sides of the question, to give full opportunity to all parties to express their feelings on the subject, and then after having [19/20] listened to the objections of those who protest against change on the one hand, and the demands of those who ask for it on the other, to weigh all in the balance, and to make up her mind whether a wise and moderate Revision at the present time be more calculated to secure or to alienate the confidence and affection of her members at large. Now, brethren, this is just what, as it seems to me, our Church has done. In her last General Synod she asked the question, as it were, of her members--Do you desire Revision at the present time; or, such of you as do not desire it for yourselves, do you think it desirable for the sake of the peace and unity of the Church? To this question the answer was a decisive one. It is embodied in the following Resolution which was unanimously passed at the close of a lengthened debate:--"Resolved--That, in the opinion of this Synod, the time has arrived for entering upon a complete Revision of the formularies of the Church of Ireland in a cautious and reverent spirit; and that the Bishops, together with certain Representative members to be named by the Synod, be therefore requested to consider the whole subject of Revision and report upon it to the Synod of 1872." Brethren, a resolution such as that which I have just read can have only one meaning--namely, that Revision was inevitable, and that to withhold it would have been fatal to the peace and unity of our Church!

Let me, however, call your attention to a further consideration which ought not, I think, to be overlooked [20/21] in contemplating the possible results of Revision in the future.

He must indeed be a sanguine man who, looking at the present condition of the English Church, both as regards her internal and her external dangers, can fail to see that her disestablishment cannot be very far distant. However much we may deplore such a possible disaster, we cannot compel ourselves to regard it. as a remote contingency. But that which makes many look with especial pain upon such a prospect, is the fear lest disestablishment in the Sister Church should be there the prelude to disruption. The lines which there separate contending schools of thought are so marked that it seems scarcely possible to hope that our English brethren will be able to fight their way through their difficulties with unbroken ranks, as, thank God, we hitherto have been enabled to do through ours. And if not, may we not fear a further result, namely, that there might be thenceforth more than one Prayer Book in a divided English Church? Now, brethren, if such should unfortunately be the case, (may God avert it!) and if we should defer the work of Revision until such a crisis arrives, that work would never, I believe, be accomplished! For, had we, in the meantime, accustomed ourselves to look to England for guidance, the temptation to parties within our own Church to imitate the example of those who represented their views in the sister Church would I believe, in such [21/22] an event, be so strong that a similar result might follow here--in other words, there might then be more than one Prayer Book in a divided Irish Church as well. But, brethren, if before any such temptation could be thrown in our way--if now, while our common trial is binding together the hearts of Irish Churchmen--now while the necessity for combined and active exertion is diverting our minds from mere party wranglings--now while a unanimously appointed Committee, with the Bishops at its head, are entrusted with the discharge of this solemn duty--if now, I say, we could, through the gracious favour of our loving God, be so far enabled to sacrifice our personal opinions and to make mutual concessions as to find some common ground of unity on which all parties might agree to take their irrevocable stand, then might we not hope that even should such an hour of dangerous temptation as that which I have pictured arrive, we might by that time have come to love and prize our own revised Prayer Book so much, and to have found it so suitable to the wants and feelings of all, that no party within our Church would think of exchanging it for another, and of bringing thereby disruption amongst us!

Nay more, is it presumptuous even to express a hope that if we of the Irish Church could now set an example of how it is possible for men of varying opinions to find a neutral ground of agreement, [22/23] if we could demonstrate the fact--that Revision, so far from involving disruption, may become the means of averting disruption--is it, I say, presumptuous to hope, that even our brethren of the Sister Church, when their hour of difficulty arrives, might be willing to try a similar experiment, and might with God's blessing, enjoy with us a similarly successful result.

Or to indulge even a still holder hope. If at such a time of possible distress and perplexity, the thought should occur to our English brethren which has dimly presented itself even already to the minds of thoughtful men--namely the possibility of assembling the representatives of many Churches,--of the English Church, of the American Church, of the Colonial Churches, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and of our own Church, for the purpose of seeing how far the idea of a more general unity were possible in the future--if, I say, such a thought should take possession of any minds--and no doubt it is a glorious one--would not the fact of our Church having on a small scale tried successfully a similar experiment, tend materially to further this noble object, and would not our own experience assist us in forming a decision, and fit our own Representatives to take their part, should they he invited so to do, in the carrying out of so great a work?

Brethren, I trust I have succeeded in showing that the tendency of Revision is to preserve unity rather than to endanger it. I have only to add that to [23/24] preserve this unity all will depend on the nature of the Revision which shall be finally accepted by the General Synod of our Church. A merely superficial Revision consisting of alterations in the Lectionary, of the abbreviation of old, or the introduction of new services, or of any such like unimportant changes would only exasperate those whose confidence we seek to gain. On the other hand, sweeping and intolerant changes might impose burdens on the consciences of many, for whom no course would lie open but secession from a Church which they would otherwise love to serve. Now, brethren, if we are to avoid so great disasters, there must be a self-sacrificing resolve on all hands to make concessions for the sake of the common good.

It is natural for us, perhaps, at first, as we look at the question each from our own point of view, to think that it is from our side alone that concession is demanded. For example, he that objects to Revision may perhaps say, I am willing that matters should remain as they are; I do not ask for change. These formularies are dear to me, and if they be tampered with I have the power of keeping aloof from such a work of revolution, and of remaining in the old paths by simply regarding myself no longer as a member of the Irish Church but as a member of the Anglican Church,--a Church which may possibly soon have her chapels in this land. Brethren, can we not understand the force of such a temptation, and the self-sacrifice which it calls for on the part of him [24/25] who would resist it. Is there no concession required here?

But again can we not imagine the case of one who has long been looking forward to the possibility of a thorough work of Revision, and who now sees the opportunity before him of purging the Prayer Book of everything which seems to him to fall short of that perfection which he longs for in the formularies of our Church. He feels, too, that he is one of a majority in the General Synod, who, if they only chose to put forth all their strength, could attain all that they themselves desired. Now here again, I would ask, is not the temptation to refuse any compromise a strong one? Is there no concession, I ask, demanded here?

Yes, brethren, concessions are required on both sides,--concessions so great that were it not for the conviction that God is with us of a truth, and that He will by the power of His Spirit constrain us all to sacrifice everything short of principle for the sake of unity, I should indeed be disheartened at the prospect. But, brethren, I have faith in the God who hath hitherto helped us; I have faith in the loyal devotion which, amid many differences of opinion, we all bear to our common National Church; I believe that we feel a pride in contemplating the glorious memories of the past, and I believe that we are filled with a holy resolve to go forward with unbroken ranks, and hearts knit together, to meet the responsibilities, and to accomplish the tasks, that lie before us in the future!

[26] Yes, brethren, I believe that in this our hour of common trial and difficulty, we are not going to fall out together by the way; and I feel confident that such a spirit of mutual concession will be vouchsafed to us from above as will enable us to accomplish this work of Revision without any breach of unity. And if this be accomplished--if those portions of our Prayer Book which trouble some men's consciences, be so revised as to lighten their burdens without imposing similar burdens on others; if whatever has been made a pretext for the innovations of error, can be explained or removed without the loss of any one essential truth; and if all this can be done in a spirit of cautious reverence for that which is really pure and good in the precedents of antiquity;--if this can be done,--and I believe, with God's help, it can be done,--then so far from the cause of unity suffering any loss, I believe it will cone forth all the stronger and brighter from the ordeal! The members of our Church will have learned a lesson in the school of self-sacrifice which will arm them against future dangers! They will have a Prayer Book which instead of kindling contention, will serve as a common bond of brotherhood! In other words, through the blessing of our gracious God, unity will triumph, and Irish Churchmen will find themselves constrained by a new and holy motive to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel of Christ!"


I would call special attention to the following address to the Irish Church, framed by the House of Bishops, (and concurred in by the House of Deputies) of the American Church, at their recent General Convention in Baltimore. Its recognition of "the harmony" with which, thank God, we have been hitherto enabled to pass through our fiery ordeal, and its reference to the "great memories" of our Church, will justify what might perhaps otherwise seem a vain boast. Its friendly tone will also, I have no doubt, meet with a warm response on the part of every Irish Churchman, and when our next Synod gives us the opportunity, we shall not, I feel sure, lose a moment in making known, in our corporate capacity, how grateful we feel for this welcome token of sympathy.

The following is the address as reported by the Times' Philadelphia correspondent:--

"We beg to assure our beloved brethren, that we have watched with solicitude and fraternal sympathy the dangerous crisis through which recent events have obliged them to pass, and feel that seldom have graver difficulties or more painful trials been imposed upon any branch of the Church Catholic. The American Church regards it as an occasion of devout thankfulness to God that they (the Church of Ireland), were enabled by the Holy Spirit to encounter with so much Christian fortitude and courage the disasters which threatened them, and to advance thus far, and with so much harmony in effecting the permanent reorganization of the Church. The [27/28] Americans are gratified, moreover, to recognize the fact that the Church of Ireland, while earnestly witnessing to the faith once delivered to the saints, and adhering to the primitive and apostolic principles which form the common inheritance and bond of union, have adopted a form of ecclesiastical organization so nearly allied to that of the Church in America. The Americans do not fail to recognize the wisdom of retaining the ancient historic name, `the Church of Ireland,'--a name recalling great memories of the past, and justifying the hope of an auspicious future. They cannot doubt that the Church which was the last among the Western Churches to surrender its primitive rights and privileges of self government, will be found equal to the responsibilities of its present position, and will, notwithstanding embarrassments arising from the laws of its temporalities, be able to strengthen the things which remain, and to recover the influence which once made it illustrious as a defender of Evangelical truth and Apostolical order among the Churches of Europe. To these brotherly greetings are joined fervent prayers that the Church in America and the Church in Ireland, being united in one communion and fellowship of Christ, may be workers together with God for the advancement of his glory, and the salvation of men through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I cannot forbear adding to this testimony the words of the present Bishop (Wordsworth) of Lincoln, in his Sermons on the Irish Church, a book that should be in the hands of every Irish Churchman at the present day. "More than a thousand years ago," he says, "the Church of Ireland was the burning and shining light of the western world. . . . Such she was specially to us (of the English Church). We of this land must not endeavour to conceal our obligations to her. We must not be ashamed to confess that with regard to learning--and especially with regard to sacred learning, Ireland was in advance of England at that time. The sons of our nobles and gentry were sent for education thither. Ireland was the University of the West."--Occasional Sermons, pp. 71, 72. Again, having referred to the labors of St. Columba [28/29] and his followers in Scotland and England, he adds, "Let me only remind you that what was done in Scotland and England by St. Columba and his disciples, was done by another Irish teacher, St. Columbanus, and his followers on the continent of Europe, and that they were not dependant on Rome. At this day two of the Swiss Cantons, Glarus and St. Gall bear in their names the record of their zeal. Those holy men preached the glad tidings of salvation in Germany and France. They planted Churches there, and even in Italy itself."--lbid, pp. 78, 79.

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