(OCT. 20TH), 1867,
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE, THE PASTORAL ADDRESS OF THE
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, METROPOLITANS AND PRESIDING
BISHOPS ASSEMBLED AT THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE.
AND VICAR OF ST. MARY THE VIRGIN'S, OXFORD.
My dear Lord Bishop,
I beg you will allow me to dedicate to you this Sermon, (though it is but an ordinary Parochial Address,) in token of my entire and hearty sympathy with you in your present glorious struggle on behalf of God's Truth.
I crave your Blessing; and am, my dear Lord Bishop, with profound respect and admiration,
Your affectionate servant,
and dutiful son in Christ,
JOHN W. BURGON.
Oct. 24th, 1867.
STRIVE FOR THE TRUTH UNTO DEATH: AND THE LORD
SHALL FIGHT FOR THEE.
I. Daniel's Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's Dream.
II. The Fifth Kingdom of the World.
III. Popular notions concerning the Church and the Clergy.
IV. Scriptural view of the Church.
V. The World's hostile attitude towards the Church.
VI. Instanced in its behaviour on a recent occasion.
VII. The ENCYCLICAL examined and discussed. (1) Its substance: (2) Its style.
VIII. Why unacceptable in certain quarters.
IX. The LAMBETH CONFERENCE considered.
X. Actual needs and requirements of the Church of England.
Daniel ii. 44. The God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed.
I. I find it hard to believe that the generality of Mankind take the pains to set before themselves in a vivid, convincing way that striking outline of the World's history which is found in the 2nd chapter of the Book of "Daniel the Prophet." I scarcely remember ever hearing any one shew by his conversation that he was duly impressed with the august nature of his earthly citizenship,--as being a member of the Fifth Kingdom and the last: or that he was fully persuaded that there would never again arise a World-Empire,--like those Four which have passed away. A more stupendous revelation is not to be found in the whole of Scripture, than in the chapter I speak of. That eagle glance of prophetic vision, which spans the future ages of the World,--and in a few short sentences, gathers up the [3/4] sequence of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Grecian, the Roman Empires,--affords such an evidence of how the Future is mapped out like the Present before the Divine mind, as to be quite without a parallel. S. John, the beloved Disciple, has been often (and aptly) compared to Daniel,--"a man greatly beloved:" and he, in the Apocalypse, doubtless unveils the Future no less wondrously than Daniel does in the Book which bears his name. But there is this difference between their respective prophecies: that whereas the Revelation of S. John the Divine is the darkest book in the Canon,--the prophecies in the Book of Daniel,--(that about the Seventy Weeks, that about the Kings of Persia and of Grecia, and this about the Five Kingdoms),--read like actual Histories. ["I have long thought," (oracularly remarks the late Dr. Arnold,) "that the greater part of the Book of Daniel is most certainly a very late work, of the time of the Maccabees, and the pretended Prophecy" &c &c. "is mere History."] Nowhere, in short, is Bishop Butler's definition of Prophecy,--("the history of events before they come to pass,")--felt to be so true as here. [Analogy, P. II. ch. vii. (about the middle.)]
The wonder is that Daniel, when he is recalling to the remembrance of the Babylonian monarch his forgotten dream, and expounding it,--by a few discriminating touches, convinces us that he is not fastening an arbitrary interpretation on a vision of the night. We are reminded that "the head of gold" fitly represented Babylonia:--that the breast and arms of silver, aptly set forth the Persian and the Median rule:--that "the belly and thighs of brass" may reasonably stand for the Grecian Empire:--while the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron part of clay, are an admirable emblem of the Empire of Rome. The more we attend to the matter, the more it amazes us. We ask,--Was Daniel then privy to the sending of the dream? for he expounds it with the confidence of one who has occupied a place in the Council-chamber of Heaven. Further yet, a strange suspicion arises that Man, who has been called a "Microcosm," (that is, the World in little,) was framed and fashioned, in the beginning, not without [4/5] reference,--prophetic reference,--to the World which he was to inhabit, and over which he was to have dominion. Marvellous to relate, a strange and unexpected correspondence is discovered to subsist between that masterpiece of Divine contrivance, the Human Body, and the Four World-Empires, of which the body politic (as we term it) successively was the wonder of the ancients. Man's creation was not only a prophecy of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, but a prophecy of the World's History. Behold, Man's head was to be a symbol of "the golden city,"--whose intellectual greatness was even more conspicuous than its external glory: his two arms foreshewed the joint power of Media and Persia, which was to become conspicuous next: his lower parts would stand for the sensual character of Greek civilization, which was in turn to become universal: while his legs would aptly symbolize the strength and stedfastness of Rome,--the iron rule of the Fourth Empire of the World. And surely it was not an accident that, as the toes of the Body, so the Kings of the Earth, proved to be ten in number, unto whom the Roman Empire was to be in the end divided!
II. But I have dwelt too long on all this. The point to which I desire specially to invite your attention, is, that it had been foretold that "in the days of these Kings, shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed." This prophecy, as all are aware, belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven, and of God;--the Fifth Kingdom and the last. The Prophet's language concerning it is very extraordinary. The Nebuchadnezzar's dream, a stone cut out without hands had been seen to smite the Image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and break them to pieces: whereupon, "the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the Stone that smote the Image became a great mountain, and filled the whole Earth." And thus was foretold in parable, as it were, the success and ultimate universality [5/6] of Christ's Kingdom,--which should break in pieces and consume all other Kingdoms, and itself stand for ever.
Behold then, while the Roman Empire was yet in its strength,--(those legs of iron of which we have been speaking,)--and Caesar, the sovereign of imperial Rome, did
"bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus,"
Even then our Saviour Christ was born. Well might He,--the Eternal Son of the Father, miraculously taking man's nature of the substance of the Blessed Virgin,--be designated as "a stone cut out without hands!" Was not His Kingdom moreover hidden, at first? hidden like Leaven,--buried like a Seed? And did it not at last come grandly into sight,--"fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun, and terrible as an army with banners?" It was not till "the days of these Kings, that the God of heaven set up" His Kingdom, effectually: but then, the Church,--which had grown up secretly, silently amid the ruins of the Roman Empire,--revealed her grand proportions; having moulded her outward organization upon the type of the civil government: taken up into herself whatever of good and of noble she encountered: breathed a living soul into the dead frame-work of ancient life: regenerated Society. Who knows not that Woman was then for the first time restored to her rightful place; and that marriage at once became half a Sacrament? Architecture, Music, Painting,--all the Arts underwent a transfiguration, and dated from the day of Christ's Birth a new beginning. Yes, "old things passed away: behold all things became new!" It was "a new Heaven and a new Earth;" and the saying of the Prophet was exactly fulfilled. The Stone cut out without hands, smote the Image and caused it to vanish like a dream: but itself became a great Mountain, and filled the whole Earth!
III. I have introduced the Church of Christ to your notice in this particular way, because I wish you to regard that Divine Institution as it is exhibited in the clear light of Holy Scripture: not as it comes to you obscured by the mists of modern prejudice, or distorted by the haze of [6/7] popular misrepresentation. To read the newspapers, and similar publications,--(for I must speak plainly from this place, and claim an Englishman's privilege to declare my mind openly, without reserve of any kind,)--to read the newspapers, I say, or the speeches of a certain school of Politicians, and to derive one's notion of the Church from them,--it really would be thought that the Church is a function of the State: no more! A department of the Government, whose paid officials are charged with the care of the morals of the Country,--this seems to be the secular idea of the Christian Church. A superior kind of policeman,--combining the duties of a relieving-officer on a grand scale with the refined charities of a well-bred country gentleman,--something of this kind, I repeat, is the newspaper notion of a Priest of the Anglican Communion. He must always preach well,--of course: (he would be insufferable else:) but then he must never dare to confute Heresy. That would be presumptuous,--uncharitable,--illiberal,--and what not. He must be deeply learned,--of course; (for we require a learned Clergy): but he must never let his learning appear in defence of God's Truth. That would be fanatical,--pedantic,--might bring him into collision with the Law. He must give himself up to the duties of his Office,--of course: but then his duties are defined to be of the kind I began by describing. The Parish-Priest moreover, must be assiduous in ministering to his flock: but not because he is an anointed servant of the Most High. Nothing of the sort! He is not for an instant to suppose that God hath established any spiritual difference betwixt him and them. But if He hath, then let the Priest know his place, and learn to recognize in "the layman, whether squire or churchwarden," "his Father in God. . . . " [So Dean Stanley, in an Ordination Sermon, May 22, 1864, p. 13, 14.] Now, I declare, that though I have read the Bible through from end to end with great attention, I have failed hitherto to discover the slightest warrant for any such notions either of Church or of Priest. I find no shadow of pretext for such an exhibition of the nature of the one, or of the functions of the other.
IV. Keep we to the Church.--It is spoken of in Scripture as a Kingdom. As such, Daniel foretold it: the Baptist [7/8] announced its near approach: our Saviour and His Apostles proclaimed it as actually come. In this Kingdom, Christ is King,--and His Apostles "sit on Thrones,"--and there is a subordination of Officers,--and to every man is given his own appointed work. Thus, the polity is both visible and invisible: visible, in that the material shrine and ministering Servants, are familiar objects: invisible, in that its Supreme Head sitteth at the Right Hand of God,--while the gifts and graces which flow down from Him may neither be seen nor handles;--and the invisible Church outnumbers the visible by "a great multitude which no man can number."--To speak more particularly,--the Christian Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost on Simon Peter; and thenceforward it has grown, until it already covers the whole Earth. Great and precious are the promises which its Divine Founder hath bestowed upon it. "The gates of Hell" (saith He) "shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven." And "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." His Sacraments moreover, He entrusted to its Stewardship. Of His written Word, He caused it to become the Witness and Keeper. The Deposit of the Faith, in its fulness, He once for all committed to the Church's care. Above all, He promised to the Church His Divine presence for ever; and inspired her with His Holy Spirit whereby she should be guided into all Truth. Hath she not ever since done something to shew that she is not altogether unmindful of her Divine vocation, her glorious destiny, her superhuman powers? What is the meaning else of her Cathedrals, and her Minsters, and her parochial Churches,--of her Daily Sacrifice of Prayer, and her weekly Eucharist,--of her ministrations to the living,--of her Offices for the dying and the dead? Yet more. What else means her Missionary enterprise; her Colonial Episcopate; her Churches in every heathen land? And again,--her unbroken descent from the Apostles of Christ, so jealously guarded,--her impatience of innovation, [8/9]--her care for the Creeds,--her uncompromising strictness in maintaining that the Bible is none other than the very Word of God? And then, the Church's solemn meetings in Councils and in Synods;--her Convocations and her Conferences;--her glorious Liturgy, and her matchless Learning, and her long retinue of Bishops, Fathers, Doctors,--Confessors, Martyrs, Saints:--what are these all but evidences,--feeble indeed, yet real,--that she hath not by any means forgotten the great Name which is called upon her; but is still inhabited by Her Maker's Spirit; is still bent on promoting, beyond all other things, her Master's Glory?
V. But it hath come to pass in these last days,--(and this too was foreseen, and is plainly foretold in the Gospel,)--it hath come to pass, I say, that no Institution is regarded by the World with more jealousy and ill will than this same Church of Christ. A Divine Society, governed by laws and guided by principles of its own: armed with superhuman powers, and endowed with supernatural gifts: sustained by an invisible Arm, and fortified with a mysterious promise of perpetuity of being: in the World, yet not of it: holding on its way, unchanged and unchangeable, amid the billows of persecution and the conflicting currents of opinion: unconcerned at the advance of Mechanical Arts and Natural Sciences: unmoved by the subversion of dynasties and the convulsions of society:--the Church, with her inflexible Creeds, her unalterable standard, her unearthly Mission: the Church, walking by Faith, not by sight, inquiring for the old paths, and "aredently looking and longing for her Saviour's second Advent in power and glory:" the Church, acknowledging no authority but that which appeals to her in His great Name; and claiming no powers but such as are derived to her immediately from Him:--the spectacle of the Church, I say, is to the World, a thing intolerable. [Opening Address of the Archbishop at the Lambeth Conference.] Her stubborn vitality provokes, while it amazes: her mysterious gifts terrify, while they confound. Let her but fold her hands and do nothing,--and she is endured. Let her forget her own tremendous responsibility; [9/10] deny her Master, or (better still) betray Him;--and she is instantly encumbered with the World's friendship or defiled by its caress. But does she awake, as in the ancient days,--awake, and put on strength? O then, there is no measure to the World's hostility; no limit to its malice!
VI. This, I take it, this, and none other, is the true history of the vulgar and unmeasured violence with which certain organs of public opinion have for the last few weeks been assailing our venerable and revered Primate, and his recent acts. No one here present can be supposed to be in the dark on the subject I allude to. All are aware that in consequence of existing scandals in the Colonial Church, and the general trouble of the times, seventy-six of the chief pastors of the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic throughout the World, at the instance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, have lately met in solemn Conference at Lambeth: the Archbishop having been induced to call them together y the unanimous request of other Archbishops and Bishops, as well as by Addresses from both Houses of Convocation. They met for mutual counsel and sympathy; and the result of their deliberations hitherto has been an ENCYCLICAL LETTER,--(that is, a Pastoral Address which is intended to go the circuit of the Churches,)--and certain Resolutions, which have been published by authority; and this morning by desire of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, I publicly read from this place the Bishops' Address "to the faithful in Christ Jesus," Clergy and Laity alike, "in Communion with the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic."--I conceived it to be my duty then to offer a few remarks on the very extraordinary document which it was my privilege to read. I hold it to be my duty now,--considering the uniqueness of the occasion, the paramount importance of the subject, the dignity of the assembly from which this Encyclical Letter emanates, and the weight of authority with which it comes before us,--not by any means to be silent concerning it: but on the contrary,--in a spirit of dutiful obedience towards our Diocesan; of faithfulness towards the flock over which I am set in the Lord; and above all of unswerving fealty towards the Great King who hath [10/11] deigned to call me to His Service;--to draw your thoughts in the same direction; as well as to offer a few considerations which may help you to form a sound judgment concerning the Bishops' Letter: in other words, enable you to see something of its extraordinary value and importance.
VII. You will perhaps bear me witness that the general impression which it made on us when first we read it was disappointment. (1.) Was it,--(we have heard the question asked once and again)--Was it worth while for seventy-six Bishops to meet together in order to produce such a letter as this? Is it possible that certain of them should have come all the way from the Antipodes, from Earth's remotest verge,--ten thousand miles suppose,--in order to say so very little? What are we to think of it, that half the American Episcopate should have crossed the foaming Atlantic to put forth a series of familiar truths like these?--Then again, (2) This scrupulous adherence to Scripture phraseology,--why has it been observed? Might not the Bishops have expressed themselves in the popular idiom, adopted a more ordinary mode of expression, with advantage?
(1.) Now, in the first place, you are to observe that the Encyclical Letter which you have heard read, as it was not the only object, so is it not by any means the only result, of the Lambeth Conference. Far from it: very far from it indeed. But I hesitate not to declare that had the Bishops met only to put forth this one Letter, they would have met for a worthy purpose; they would have achieved a sufficiently great work. And it is precisely the disappointing nature of its contents which wraps up the secret of its great value and importance. It is precisely because this letter says so little that it signifies so much. You will have no difficulty in apprehending my meaning. It is, that the whole interest of the Encyclical consists in this,--that it enunciates the old Truths; rehearsing them not only in their integrity, but also in their simplicity: that it recapitulates the Faith once for all delivered to the Saints, without adding thereto or taking therefrom. Nay, it faithfully warns an irreverent and licentious age against subtracting from the deposit; while it temperately rebukes the Romish Branch of the [11/12] Universal Church for having overlaid Evangelical Truth with mere human inventions and new Articles of Faith.
Now, it cannot but be deemed an extraordinary circumstance,--a weighty protest against the corrupt spirit of the Day,--that when the chief Pastors of the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic meet together; (besides exhibiting before the eyes of men an evidence of their corporate Unity,--their independent existence and power of acting,--their Apostolic claims;) they should thus rehearse the Church's ancient Faith; (claiming to have received it from the primitive Age, and pledging themselves to maintain it whole and undefiled to the end;) in language which would have been familiar to the Apostles themselves; and to which Clement and Ignatius, Origen and Cyprian, Irenaeus and Athanasius, Cyril and Jerome, Basil and the Gregories, Chrysostom and Augustine, would most willingly have subscribed.
For is it indeed a light thing that, at the end of eighteen centuries, seventy-six descendants of the Apostles of the Lamb, for the most part unknown to one another by face, should meet together here in England, and with one mouth put forth before the whole World a Confession of Faith which those Apostles would have recognized as identical in every respect with their own? An Address, which their successors for four hundred years would have rejoiced in being permitted to sign? Is it nothing, that neither tract of Time, nor altered circumstances of place; neither the idiosyncrasy of the individual, nor any peculiarities in he race among whom his lot is thrown; neither accidents of education, nor inherited prejudices; neither new modes of popular thought, nor the changed condition of every other Science, every other branch of Knowledge in the world,--should have wrought either jot or tittle of alteration or discrepancy here? I freely confess that it is to me a marvel without a parallel; a phenomenon which it seems only possible to account for on one theory, and to explain in one way.
But the important thing for you all to observe is, the implied rebuke which is thus administered to those rash spirits [12/13] who are for a re-adjustment of the ancient Faith to the supposed necessities of the Age; as if some new aera were setting in. In express terms, this Encyclical Letter condemns alike the fraudulent taking away from the deposit, by the modern unbeliever; and the licentious adding thereto of new Articles of Faith by the modern Church of Rome. But it does more: for by implication it declares that after an attentive survey of the progress, tastes, habits, duties of the Age we live in,--the altered condition of the World we inhabit,--its authors can discover nothing to warrant the suspicion that our formularies (like worn-out clothes) need to be at last exchanged for new; or that fresh Articles of the Faith are wanted; or even that fresh Definitions are imperatively required, to meet any supposed new difficulties,--and seemingly novel forms of Unbelief. "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be: and there is no new thing under the sun." Let other Sciences grow by observation: undergo revolutions: become altered and improved by Time. Theological Science not so! "Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your souls." . . . . The Lord Jesus Christ, very God and very Man, ever to be adored and worshipped, who gave Himself to be a Sacrifice for the sins of the whole World,--the One only mediator between God and Man:--the Bible, the sure Word of God, to be diligently studied with prayer in the Holy Ghost: (for there has been no new discovery made,--no, nor will there ever arise any,--to diminish jot or tittle of our confidence that the Bible is,--(not contains, but is,)--the sure Word of God):--the Sacraments, as we have received them from the primitive Church at the hands of the Fathers of the English Reformation:--the Creeds, and if there be any other thing which is comprehended in the Apostolic summary of "the Faith once for all delivered to the Saints," to be religious held fast: these cardinal Truths, the Bishops assembled at Lambeth have exclusively as well as solemnly re-affirmed. Lastly, the passionate cry for Unity, which is being heard just now from so many quarters, the Bishops take up and re-echo: but they gravely point out that the best way after all to achieve this great want [13/14] of Christendom,--the only way,--is "to maintain the Faith in its purity and integrity." Stern faithfulness to Christ--not a compromise with Rome. In the meantime, they remind us that by Sacramental Communion we are in the highest sense made one; for we thereby abide in Him who is our Life, (as branches in the Vine;) and are thus all mystically united in one Body, although we see it not. Lastly, the Apostolic warning they faithfully reproduce. "The time is short." "Maran-atha." "The Lord cometh!" [1 Corinthians vii. 29; xvi. 22.]
(2.) And what if Apostolic men, when delivering an Apostolic message, see fit on so solemn an occasion as the present, to speak in the accents of the Apostolic age? It may seem to you strange at first, as all things seem strange to which we are not accustomed: but does not the thing approve itself to your sober reason? How should Scriptural thoughts and aspirations be more fitly expressed than in Scripture phrases? and how should profound sympathy with God's written Word be more intelligibly shewn, than by the adoption of its consecrated language? There is a season and a place for all things. What would be pedantic, tasteless, out of place, insufferable in you or in me, may well be the only fitting method when an Encyclical Letter is addressed "to the Faithful in Christ Jesus," by a body of men who trace their descent, every one of them, in unbroken succession from the Apostles of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
VIII. And now, it is not difficult to see why this Letter of the Bishops should be received with indifference by a great number: with avowed hostility by not a few. It asserts so much: it advances so little. It awakens in faithful ears only a familiar echo, and therefore creates no new sensation: it offends the rash innovator, by standing hopelessly in his way,--like some bluff bare headland which meets the shock of the troubled sea, and turns it into foam. The scientific sciolist is offended to see ancient formulae reproduced; old truth re-affirmed; "The Book" vaunted, at the end of all the ages, as Man's one infallible guide. He cannot understand how in this one department of knowledge, in this [14/15] one Science which nevertheless claims to be the highest of all, there should be fixedness of teaching as well as stability of interest; and his surprise finds vent in ridicule or in blasphemy. While the mere Man of the World, the purely secular spirit, rebels on a hundred pretexts. The Address (says he) "is judiciously confined to innocuous common places." Then why is he in such a passion about the Address?--Here are "a number of platitudes shrouded in antiquated phraseology." Why then does he not treat them with silent contempt?--The majority of the Bishops who sign this Encyclical are set over American and Colonial Dioceses, and therefore should not presume to speak words of authority in things spiritual to us here in England. Indeed? One would have thought that their names, added to those of our English prelates, could only serve to recommend, as well as to intensify the godly admonitions of our Spiritual Fathers, very considerably. But however that may be,--If their voices are indeed of no manner of authority, then why be so very angry about what can do no possible harm? . . . . No, no. The quarrel, (be persuaded, friends and Brethren,)--the quarrel is not so much with his Letter of the Bishops, as with the Bishops themselves: not so much them, as with the authority whereby they speak: not so much with their spiritual privileges and mysterious powers, as with Him who sends them forth to deliver this very message,--to proclaim these same unpalatable Truths? "We will not have this Man to reign over us"--is the cry of the rebellious Citizens to this very hour.
IX. I have dwelt so largely on this Letter, because it is the articulate voice, the intelligible utterance which "the Lambeth Conference" has found, and whereby it makes its appeal to ourselves. But you are requested to observe that THE CONFERENCE,--(all honour to the brave and faithful heart that called it!)--the Conference is the important thing! Marred it may have been in its work, and mutilated in its fair proportions, by undue influences from without, by sneaking sympathies with Heresy from within: but, for all that, the Conference has been held. Constrained the Primate [15/16] may have been, for peace sake, to cause the assembled Bishops to withhold the expression of one of their most important as well as most profound convictions: but it is no secret what that conviction was, and is; and the Church of England will speak it out with a voice like a trumpet by and by. The pent-up fires will over-leap their narrow prison in the end, and sweep grandly down the mountain side. [A few sentences, within brackets, were omitted in the delivery.] The "Lambeth" Conference, though it has been the first, is not by any means going to be the last; nor is it possible to define the limit of its influence for good over the Church's future. From the day when the Church was cradled in Jerusalem, it hath been her invariable practice,--whenever difficulties emerged, dangers threatened, or heresies arose,--for her "Apostles and Elders to come together for to consider of the matter." It was so from the beginning: it hath been so now: it will be so to the end. The Church must dare something if she would triumphantly ride the storm. It is precisely the scattered isolation in which all but our home Episcopate habitually live: it is this very fact of their every one dwelling a long way off, divided from their fellow men; thinking, feeling, acting, each one alone and for himself;--which is the secret of the weakness and disunion of the Church in the Colonies. The Chief Shepherds of those remote corners of the Lord's heritage must perforce occasionally meet,--meet for mutual support and edification, as well as in order to take counsel together. Men of every other class with great interests at stake are observed freely to deliberate; and for that purpose, to meet once and again. Shall the Church alone be thought to have no need of deliberation? Why should she need no longer those solemn gatherings which she has enjoyed from the beginning, and which are in fact her very birth-right?
X. There is nothing unconstitutional in the practice; still less has the Church therein any sinister motive or intention. Let no one deceive you, on this head, I charge you. God forbid that we should ever witness any severance between the Church and the State! I, for my part, would cut off this right hand sooner than promote so fatal a [16/17] mistake by word or deed. That Union conduces much to the Church's temporal efficiency and well-being: the very life of the State depends upon it. "Clergy, Lords, and Commons," are the "three Estates" of this Realm of England,--as every good lawyer knows; and to disintegrate them, would be to destroy the Constitution. [See the Guardian newspaper of Aug. 14, 1867, p. 876; and Aug. 28, p. 935.] But then, the Church, remember, is not the creature of the State,--any more than the State is the vassal of the Church. The Church's Doctrines may not be decided by Lay Tribunals,--neither are her formularies to be interpreted by secular Judges; who really, (to speak the plain truth in plain English,) do not understand them; do not so much as understand the very language in which they are written. [I am content to rest this assertion on the judgment which they delivered in the famous Gorham case.] During the last century, "when men slept," and during the first thirty years of the present century, Ecclesiastical affairs fell into shameful abeyance, and countless abuses crept in. There is still a vast deal to be done in the way of restoring to the Church her lost liberties,--her rightful privileges,--her unquestionable inheritance. A large increase of the Episcopate,--a very large increase,--is simply a measure of necessity, not of choice. You would not surely man a mighty frigate with the same number of hands which just sufficed for the management of a little boat? Why,--while every other Institution in the land is allowed freely to grow according to the laws of its own peculiar organization; and to multiply its chief officers proportionately to its own numerical increase;--for what conceivable reason is the Church alone to be forced to stand still? The population of England is far more than double what it was in 1800: yet are our English sees very nearly identical with what they were in the days of the Heptarchy! Synods are every whit as indispensable to the Church's welfare, as counsel and deliberation in times of difficulty are necessary for the safety of you and me.--A new Court of Appeal is of paramount importance; if the conservation of the Truth in its integrity is important,--not else. And the [17/18] Judges in that Court must be Theologians not Lawyers,--unless it be reasonable that the Court of Chancery should be presided over by men learned in Divinity, instead of by men learned in the Law.--All these things would be confessedly truisms, in any department but this. Here, however, men's prejudices come in, and the World's jealousy of the Kingdom of Christ overrides its reason. The attitude of the purely secular mind towards the Church is simply hostile; and the tone which it is just now assuming by some of its ablest organs is that of a Tyrant when the free-born accents of an impatient prisoner first strike his ear; and a resolute demand is made to be set free from an usurped dominion which is no longer tolerable, and which will be no longer endured.
This only I have to add, and with this I dismiss the subject: that it would be treason on the part of the Church were she to submit to her present bondage without remonstrance, without resistance, without self-help. By all lawful means must she insist on self-government in things spiritual; and on the abolition of all tyrannical restraints on her free development as a visible polity,--her unfettered exercise of the functions which God alone assigned to her, and which Man is powerless to take away, or indeed to touch. She has no choice how she will act. She has inherited a sacred trust. She has been made the Keeper of a Divine Deposit. To betray her trust, would be mere dishonesty: to surrender her Deposit would be a crime against the Majesty of Heaven,--which no doubt Almighty God would visit upon this Church and nation by removing our candlestick out of its place.
XI. Enough, and too much. I ask your pardon for having detained you so long. I do believe you will forgive me! At all events, let none when they go hence complain that the Sermon has contained but little of Doctrine, and even less of practical Exhortation. What! It is nothing to have been reminded of your membership in Christ's Kingdom,--your citizenship in the Heavenly Jerusalem? Go to! Who but yourselves are by far the greater part of that very Church concerning which I have been speaking, having been moved to speak by the Encyclical Letter of the Bishops? The Clergy are not "the Church,"--any more than the Bishops [18/19] are the Clergy: simply because the part is not the whole. What I have been saying concerns no one so much as yourselves: your privileges as subjects of that Kingdom in which Christ is King.
And be persuaded that the World is too much with you,--or you, with the World,--if you can never find time for the contemplation of that great unseen reality which all Scripture is eloquent about, but which the secularity of the Age loses no opportunity of thrusting out of your sight. I speak of the Kingdom of God,--the Fifth Kingdom and the last. Who remembers not how gloriously it is discoursed of by Prophet, and by Seer, and by Saint? "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted; behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles." "The building of the wall of it" shall be "of jasper: and the City, pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the City, garnished with all manner of precious stones."--Can such words be meaningless? Can such glowing imagery have been employed by the Holy Ghost in vain? What can these "very excellent things which are spoken of the City of God" mean but this,--that the purest ray which now lies hid in Ocean's dark unfathomed cave,--Earth's costliest ornaments, and symbols of concentrated value,--that these do but present a feeble image of the glories which are in reserve for Christ's Church hereafter? For that eye hath not seen nor ear heard,--no, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for those that love Him.
THINE EYES SHALL SEE THY TEACHERS.