THE PASTORAL OF THE FIRST OLD CATHOLIC
BISHOP OF GERMANY.
JOSEPH HUBERT REINKENS
August 11, 1873
Published in The Church Journal and Gospel Messenger
New-York, Thursday Morning, September 18, 1873
713 Broadway, New-York City
Joseph Hubert Reinkens, Catholic Bishop, to the priests and laity in the German Empire, who have continued in the Old Catholic faith, greeting in the Lord!
More than 50,000 Catholics of Germany, to whom the truth is still of incomparable and imperishable worth, have elected me as their Bishop in an unaccustomed manner, through their delegates, in concert with faithful priests; but this seemingly new way is only the old, suppressed manner, the Apostolic and truly ecclesiastical manner; wherein we, beloved in the Lord, appear to do that which is new, we have returned back to the primitive, legitimate way. For a thousand years and more—indeed, as the correspondence of St. Bernard of Clairvaux testifies, even in the twelfth century, and even in the Western Church only—such an election of a Bishop obtained as legitimate from an ecclesiastical point of view—that is, as in conformity with the order instituted by the Apostles, commissioned by Jesus Christ—as was made by the clergy and people. Certainly before this time disturbances and infringements of this Apostolic order were introduced. As the Episcopal office became more and more encircled with outward dignity, with worldly empire and princely pomp, as the posthumous sons (of the Church) began their designs of offering a price to purchase it, then the worldly powers, into whose number the Pope of Rome had also enrolled himself, made a market of it; then they robbed the congregation, the faithful people and clergy, of their vote, and gradually they usurped the right of election under various titles,—the Romish Pope for his part under the title of the exclusive vicegerency of God, whilst for many centuries past the several Bishops corporatively (each for himself and all the others as well) had called themselves vicegerents of God. After many centuries of strife, accompanied by the most grievous injuries to the existing welfare of the people, and to the Christian religion itself, we have, as the result of this in the Western Church, the complete destruction of the free election of Bishops, and therewith also the destruction of the Apostolic legitimacy of the Bishops. Catholic Princes designate the person of a new Bishop, and the Romish Pope nominates him; under non-Catholic rulers, certain clerics who are called Canons, have the privilege of election through agreement between the Pope and the Princes—who are never justified in making such an agreement without the consent of the Church,—and here also the Pope has the final nomination; in heathen lands, or where the State and Church are more or less separated, the nomination follows simply from Rome. This practice, attained and secured through usurpation and force, is now called "valid law," although this "law," created by mere human institution, has nothing in common with the Apostolic canon for the election of Bishops.
If then the great Bishops of the ancient Church—Cyprian, Hilary, Martin, Ambrose, Augustine, or the Popes in Rome, Leo I., Innocent I., Gregory I.—were suddenly to return to life among us, they would not acknowledge as legitimate the election of one single Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, now living, not even that of the Bishop of Rome, because none of them took place according to the unalterable rule of the Fathers. In their time they would never have received a Bishop into their college as a Catholic Bishop, who had not been chosen by the people and clergy, since this form of election was regarded and honored as divinely appointed, and therefore as unalterable—although, on account of his ordination, they would have esteemed such a man as truly a Bishop.
And since the sixth century it has turned out that the principles leading to the overthrow of that Apostolical Episcopal constitution, which had given expression to the unity of the people and clergy, or of the whole congregation, in the freely elected Bishop, have come to light in the excesses of certain Romish Popes, and in inventions and plain falsifications. This system, which revealed itself unnoticed, was concentrated by pseudo-Isidore into an unexampled imposture, at a time when the historical eye of Western Christendom had long closed itself, in the ninth century, and then in Rome, used as a blind for the people, clothed in a most audacious form by the Popes Gregory VII., Innocent III., Gregory IX., and Boniface VIII., victoriously defended by successive Popes, by means of the terrors of the Inquisition, excommunications, and interdicts, and through manifest outwitting of the worldly princes by so-called Concordats, in spite of every opposition of humanity and of the Christian spirit to the same, and at last, by means of the astounding activity of more than 8000 Jesuits and their innumerable accomplices, forcibly imposed as a pretended dogma of the Romish Church and her adherents in other lands, by Pius IX., as being God's Word and revelation.
Since, then, the Romish Pope and the Bishops who serve him "as their master," have definitely destroyed the divinely appointed constitution, and, moreover, have disfigured the Word of God with additions of men, despising Holy Scripture and tradition, and have also used their ecclesiastical power and office to the destruction, and not to the edification, of the congregation, therefore we—since these Bishops have set at nought all our entreaties and have threatened our conscience even to the uttermost—have been at last compelled to go back to the Apostolic form of electing a Bishop, in order to the reestablishment of an Episcopate, which obeys God rather than a man, and which acknowledges in God only "its Master."
The vote that was taken fell on me, although I had used every permissible means to prevent it. After great inward conflict, which had its occasion, not in the matter itself, but simply and solely in the knowledge of the unworthiness and insufficiency of myself personally, with respect to this exalted and all too serious task, I have accepted the election after long refusal, being decided by the very earnest requests of twenty priests and fifty-six delegates of congregations. And now, when by virtue of the election and consecration I enter upon the office, I rely not only upon the confidence placed in me so completely by thousands of the truly faithful in Germany, but also upon the legitimacy of this election, the first which, after so long an intermission, has been completed in Germany through people and clergy.
I am not nominated by the Romish Pope, I have not sought his sanction, I have sworn to him no oath. If the canonical law were in full force in the consciousness of the faithful, then every man's opinion would travel in this same direction—that the Apostolic See in Rome is not now occupied, because a Pope who continues obstinately in error must be regarded as deposed, without the necessity of any special judgment to that end. Certainly Pius IX. is involved in grievous errors, and has rebelled against the Catholic Church, in that on July 18, 1870, he ascribed to himself ecclesiatical supremacy in the ordinary "universal Episcopate" as a divine prerogative, therewith destroying the Apostolic constitution of the Church, and so he has declared that his own decisions (ex cathedra) in questions of faith and morals are irreformable (unchangeable) in themselves (ex sese), and not by virtue of the consent of the Church (or accordance with the Church—non autem ex consensu ecclesiae),—that is, the Mother, whom thus he despises. Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the Bridegroom of His Church, has placed no one in heaven or on earth over His Bride. He has authorized the Church to be the highest judge in morals, and has declared that whosoever hears not her judgment shall be to us as an heathen man and a publican (Matt. xviii. 15-17). But Pius IX. places his judgment higher than that of the Church, and maintains that he, as highest judge of morals, needs not to hear her. How can I then bind myself by an oath to the man who, in contradiction to the Lord, exalts himself above the judgment of the Church, and so would entangle me in his gift? But the absence of an oath taken to the Pope does not damage the Episcopal office, for such an oath does not exist for the Bishops of the East, and for the Bishops of the West was only introduced in the later middle ages; and moreover, in that oath, which at their full investiture with the Apostolic dignity the subjected Romish Bishops take to the Pope of Rome "as their Lord" and absolute sovereign, mention is made only of personal responsibility before God, with no syllable of religion or of duty towards the faithful, but rather, the promises are of care for the extension of the Papal rights, and of humiliations and homage and responsibility to the See of Rome. The demand of this oath is nothing else than usurpation and sin against the Church.
The legitimately elected Bishop becomes truly a Bishop, not through the Papal nomination or sanction, but through ordination, through consecration. Such is the doctrine and practice of the ancient Church for more than a thousand years. And thus the validity depends, not on the casual Church communion of the consecrating Bishop with the Bishop of Rome, but on the continuity of the imposition of hands—that is, on the unbroken succession of the Bishops who lay their hands or consecrate, from the time of the Apostles to the present day.
Into such an unbroken continuity of the imposition of hands I am now received, through the Episcopal consecration imparted to me by the Old Catholic Bishop of Deventer, Mngr. Heykamp. The injustices and acts of violence inflicted since 1700 by the Roman Curia, instigated by the Jesuits, on the Church of Utrecht, and generally on the old Church of Holland, and which for more than a century and a half have been defended by the absurd and presumptuous opinion that the Pope was universal Bishop, and so could destroy bishoprics and churches and raise them up again, as he pleased; and further, the violent intrusion, brought about in the year 1853, of a new hierarchy in Holland, blindly adhering to Rome, by which the Pope set up altar against altar, and the establishment of which was so great a tissue of lies that the Archbishop of Santen was obliged to doubt the genuineness of the so called Epistola Apostolica; and finally, the calumniation of the Utrecht Church, spread abroad in this day, with confident falsehood, that it had fallen into Jansenist errors; all this cannot change our matter. I am now in the roll of those thousands of Bishops who came and went without having the nomination of the Romish Pope, mostly without being known to him, who yet were Catholic Bishops, and as such are praised by our adversaries themselves.
I undertake therefore this office by virtue of legitimate election and Apostolic succession, and I undertake it in order to hasten to the help of the terrible conscientious need in which the faithful Catholics are placed without fault of their own. Gregory the Great has called the attempt of any one to set himself up as universal pastor or Bishop—be he Bishop of Rome or of Constantinople—"an infamous attempt against God's commandment, against the Gospel, against the law of the Church, against the constitution of the Church, against the dignity of the Bishops, an injury against the whole Church, a blasphemy."—(Ep. v. 18, and 20, 21.) With the fall of such a man the whole Church would fall together (vii. 27). Our lot then it was to see fulfilled in the Vatican Council the long premeditated and initiated "blasphemy," of which the great Pope Gregory I. warned with earnest supplication and prayer, as well as in threatening prophecy. In most flagrant contradiction to the Holy Scripture (Matt. xx. 25, &c., 1 Peter v. 2, &c.), which no sophistical art can explain away,—in contradiction also to the fact that Christ expressly forbade His disciples to be rulers, a spiritual supremacy was set up, which stifles all reason, all freedom and joy out of the Church's life, lames the noblest creative powers of men, destroys the consciousness of individual responsibility and self-decision, keeps under that sense of human and Christian dignity which protects against sin—and so wraps up in night and banishes the deepest ideas of the Gospel. The aim was evil, the means employed no better; the Roman Curia have not been able, with all their endeavors, to hide the story of the Vatican Council from the view of the faithful.
Christ, at the time when He founded a spiritual kingdom, not of this world (John xviii. 36), for the ennobling, for the moral transfiguration and quickening of men, attaining His lofty aim by the purest means, by enlightening the reason, awakening the conscience, strengthening the power for good, stood before the obstacle of a degenerate priesthood, which neglected the inward man, expressed religion in outward ceremonial observances, and, courting the favor of the people, followed egotistical, worldly, and political ends. The shepherds of the people had become untrue to their calling, and although the seat of Moses was occupied, the Lord called the people still shepherdless. He was counted more worthy than Moses (Heb. iii. 3). He was Himself the Great Shepherd of the people, that "Chief Shepherd," from whom the shepherds who truly follow Him shall receive the "imperishable crown of glory" (1 Peter v. 4); for He is the High Priest "of good things to come," "Who has passed into the heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. ix. 11-24). But before He ascended up, whither He came and whence He will return (Acts i. 11), He left behind Him shepherds taught by Himself, who, as He, should feed, not themselves, but the people. His kingdom is eternal: the shepherds pass away, there may come both good and evil, and such as have lost the power of their "first love," who "are neither cold nor hot," they dwell "where the throne of Satan is" (Rev. ii. passim), and from time to time the quickening breath of the Lord goes forth renewing through His kingdom, and then the nations rise up in religious revival, and seek the image of "the Chief Shepherd" and a pastor in the spirit of Jesus Christ. For the Roman Catholic Church such a time has now sprung up. Her hierarchy is again filled with the tendency of that degenerate Jewish priesthood, which expresses religion in many prayers and prohibitions, is always artificially creating new sins, proclaims the fundamental law of bondage, strives after political power for itself, and is insatiable in its lust after outward pomp and show.
But the degeneracy is worse than at the time of Jesus Christ: to the Jewish ceremonial observance is added a heathenish admixture, an endeavor to make the majesty of God visible, as it were, in the dignity of the priest; to divert the religious feeling of men to the bearer of that dignity, as if God had appointed a representative, who had to transfer the homage due to Himself. In the claim and promotion of this dignity-worship the shepherds, the Bishops, feed themselves. This dignity-worship is just as much heathenism as the miracle-worship through inanimate pictures.
Instead of leading the people to the pasture of Jesus Christ, the Romish hierarchy has made a pasture for itself out of the people; and this they have accomplished through their constant representation to the people, in word and writing, that they themselves are the Church, and that all valid rights, possessions, and promises of the Church are bound up in the persons of the Pope and the Bishops. The children are brought up in this claim, the worldly princes have sanctioned it, because in their conventions and concordats they did not trouble themselves about the Church, but entered upon agreements simply and solely with the Pope, and so laid the clergy and people fettered before his throne.
Thus, the hierarchs have succeeded in surrounding themselves with an unauthorised divine halo, for the symbolizing of which only the triple crown, with its presumptuous accompaniments, seemed sufficient. With this halo they have bound up law and justice; and so has it become again the same bewitchment spoken of in Gal. iii. 1, turning away many from the truth. Gold and honor they receive from the people, whom they overrule and incessantly disquiet with the demand to increase their political power, and to make the Pope king of this world, with the highest rank of sovereign of sovereigns. And the Pope does not decline this homage, as once did Jesus (John vi. 15); on the contrary, he seeks it. And what do the people receive?
Of the Gospel the faithful of the Romish Church learn but little. Instead of the Word of God they hear disputes from the pulpit, instead of Christ the Pope is preached, instead of truth and mercy invented stories of miracles, not the love of our neighbor, but hatred, and cursing instead of blessing. And if a man in his discontent longs for a true preaching of the Divine Word, or wishes to read a book which may open the same to him, then he is terrified by the pretext—He who hears or reads anything else than that which is presented by the Romish Bishops and priests, commits a mortal sin. The motto is: Prove nothing!
A corrupting practice of indulgences, combined with the grossest superstition with respect to the power of the Pope over purgatory, overgrows and stifles the life, which is in justice and holiness according to the truth, as the Apostle describes it (Eph. iv. 24). Not faith, but subjection, is praised as the root of justification. That the law of God's adoption and of love is the way to heaven is denied, contrary to the express Word of Christ, yea, love itself is dishonored in frivolous manner. Participation in the Church's treasury of grace is made to depend, partly on money, partly on conditions unheard of and incompatible with sincere faith.
The German Bishops, who in Rome bore witness to the truth, and now at home give out the Romish inventions as the Word of God, demand as the indispensable condition for the reception of all the sacraments, from Baptism to Extreme Unction, that subjection to the monstrous Vatican dogmas of July 18, 1870, which is only attained by the sacrifice of reason and of spiritual freedom. At the baptism of a child this is demanded from the father and from the sponsors.
As it was in the time of Christ, so now also is fulfilled the word of the prophet Ezekiel (xxxiv. 5, &c.), that the flock is without a shepherd, yea, that the shepherds, who feed themselves, serve for meat, and such of the flock as cleave to the Lord are found scattered abroad. Yea, today it is even worse; for if a man will gather together that which is scattered, they call upon him evil names, slandering him, as if he robbed God.
So also is now fulfilled the complaint of the prophet Jeremiah (xii. 10). They are shepherds who have destroyed the vineyard. The short space of three years has sufficed to spread abroad moral destruction to a fearful extent among the masses of the Infallibilists. The love of their neighbor they know no longer. Sacrilegious they call the holiest service of those priests, who will not lie in the sight of God, and those who die in the truth they seek to insult by the burial of suicides, just as even in life they refuse a salutation to Old Catholics, which, according to the teaching of the Saviour, should not be refused, even to heathen, and cast away all former relationships and duties, even the duty of gratitude. They deem it also to be their task to ruin their Old Catholic neighbors in their means of livelihood, and to destroy their honor with the mass of the people by calumnies of the most shameful character. They have forced a press upon their adherents—obliging in the seated courts the inexperienced to contribute to and read the same—which destroys Christian morality and gentleness in the heart, embitters and exasperates the feelings of the lowest grades of society, and kills the sense of law. And all this the clergy direct and promote in the commission, or with the understood favor of the Bishops, even under continual and open encouragement on the part of the Pope, who in the most dishonorable abuse of opponents often gives the lead. The standard of spiritual edification sinks ever lower, superstition becomes more grasping, fanaticism coarser, mockery of science greater, resistance to the temporal authority more open.
So the need is at the highest, but—God is at the nearest. Many thousands have saved themselves out of the general corruption; they are scattered on the heights, where God's Word and command still gives light, and in the valleys, where in humility it is practised. Here also will be fulfilled that other word of Ezekiel, that the Lord will exalt Himself against the shepherds, will deliver the flock out of their hand, will visit them and gather them again out of all places, whither they were scattered in the cloudy and dark day, and lead them back to the mountain of Israel, where they shall lie down in a good fold and in fat pasture.
And we all have heard His voice, which still we revere in the preaching of the Apostle Paul, in whose stead even an angel cannot establish another Gospel; we all, who believe that this preaching is directed to us, to the congregation, and not to an Italian only, who assumes alone to possess the key of knowledge for the Apostolic preaching, which he never reads; we all, whose sense is not closed to the light of the illuminating word, worthy of God and of men—"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good!" (l Thess. v. 21) "Ye are light in the Lord; walk as children of light, . . . proving what is well pleasing to the Lord." (Eph. v. 8, 10.) "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Cor. iii, 17.) "Ye are called, brethren, unto liberty." (Gal. v. 13.) "Why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" (1 Cor. x. 29.) "Whatsoever is not of conviction is sin." (Rom. xiv. 23.) These are lamps and signposts, by which we found ourselves in the right way, when we received the voice of the Good Shepherd, who sought us with the call "The truth shall make you free." "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John viii. 32-36.) It was the call of Him who is the true "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls." (l Pet. ii. 25.)
And so, in the clear consciousness of our moral responsibility before the word and command of God, we came together from village and town, and we gathered ourselves, in order again to receive the Church's treasury of grace, with unfeigned faith and pure heart and good conscience, and to fulfil "the end of the commandment, love" (1 Tim. i. 5.) When then the flock was gathered together in the Lord, they demanded of me to undertake the Episcopal office, in order that the priests who fear God rather than a man should not die out; in order that God's Word, which had become precious, should be again richly dispensed; in order that participation in the mysteries and graces should not be obliged to be brought with lies and money; in order that all disclaiming all supremacy one over the other, should practise love in full patience, and spread abroad, bring about, and strive after the operation of the law of the children of God.
And therefore I ask, what is then my office?
It pertains not to my office to erect a princely court in gorgeous array, and with pomp and pageant to serve myself. All this has been intruded from the old Imperial Court into the house of the Bishops, even the glory of color and costly stuff, silk, purple, and ermine. It pertains not to my office to receive the homage of titles and ceremonies of a religious nature, which are due to God only; above all, it is not to rule. The Lord forbade this strongly to the Apostles, and Peter warned the Bishops against it as clearly as earnestly. Bernard of Clairvaux asked Pope Eugene III if he were indeed of opinion that he had inherited from Peter the right of ruling, and he answered: "A man cannot give thee that which he does not possess. Listen to himself, 'Be not lords over the heritage (he says), but be an ensample to the flock' (1 Peter v. 3), and in order that thou shouldest not imagine that this was spoken only in humility and not also in truth (that is, according to the real relationships as Christ appointed them), therefore we have the Word of the Lord or the Gospel, 'The kings of the nations rule over them, and they who exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors' (gracious lords), and to this He added, 'But be ye not so' (Luke xxii. 25, 26). This is clear: to the Apostles it was forbidden to rule" (De Consid. ii. 6). It would indeed have been wonderful if the Lord Himself, whose glory existed with the Father, before the world was (John xvii. 5), came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Matt. xx. 28), and then should set up servants, who should have the right, as gracious lords, to rule and to be ministered unto.
St. Bernard says of a Pope, who would arrogate to himself lordship over men as a matter of faith, that "all unrighteousness would rule" over him. "I fear for thee," he cries to his Eugene III, "no poison, no sword is so difficult to overcome as our desire" (iii. 2). What, then, was not becoming for the first of the Bishops cannot be right for any Bishop. The Apostle Paul designates himself as servant of the faithful for Jesus sake (2 Cor. iv. 5). The Bishop is a servant in the house of the children of God, and no ruler over the same. "Though I be free, yet have I made myself servant unto all" (1 Cor. ix. 19).
It would be a delusion to imagine that it pertained to the Episcopal office to represent on earth the divine attributes, by virtue of a continual miracle in one's person. The Episcopal office is no personal privilege for the advancement of a few chosen ones, but it is a ministry for the faithful.
What, then, is mine office? This:—to proclaim what God has revealed to "the little ones"—to preach from the housetops what He made known to His disciples in secret places. Thereto nothing is inopportune, but everything is opportune, everything a message to be desired, not for a preferred caste, but all for all at all time. What is, then, this? No criminal code, still less a verdict of death, spoken in the form of a curse; for the debt of humanity was nailed to the Cross, and washed away in the Blood of Him Who judged no man, but gave His life for us,—but it is the Gospel, the glad message,—not the terror, but the joy of the human race,—that Truth which, since it makes free, can spread abroad its light only in freedom, and illuminate as the light of peace. Christ is this Truth, He Who at first in the gentle radiance of the Morning Star enters the heart, in order that the eye so long accustomed to night be not blinded, and then as the Sun of Righteousness streams forth into the spirit strengthened by the truth, and spreading light over heaven and earth, reveals the enigma of existence, proclaiming it as the mystery of the unending love of God. The true herald of the Gospel preaches therefore not himself, nor the interests of his order, but he knows "nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. ii. 2): he has only to proclaim that the nations must look on Him whom they pierced, and from Whose opened Heart now pours forth heavenly strength for human nature, the mysteries, the sacraments of God in humanity, by which humanity is raised to participation with the Godhead.
So also it pertains to the Episcopal office to be a steward and dispenser of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. iv. 1). Thus it is the first care that such a steward should be found faithful, faithful above all before God the Lord, that he should not seek to place himself in the stead of the Lord, as if he were the possessor of the treasury of grace. One only has the key of David, Who opens and no man shuts, not Who opens and no man opens (Rev. iii. 7); and He has intrusted the power of the keys only to the Church, and they who use it are stewards, nothing more. To dispense the treasure, not to refuse it, is their calling. The steward has, moreover, to listen to the Church, in order that he be found faithful. It is the house of God in which he ministers, and amongst the residents there are no menials, but all are children of God: for them can he prescribe no arbitrary house-rules, assuming to himself a secret unknown contract with the Holy Spirit, and thereon make the participation of the children's inheritance dependent: he dare not and cannot put forth new commands, and invent new mortal sins for their infringement, in order, under the pretence of disobedience, to offer the children of God a stone instead of bread, a serpent instead of fish, cursing instead of blessing, and thus, to hunt them out of their Father's house. And if the faithful steward truly dispenses the treasury of grace to the children, then he must be careful that the children receive of their inheritance, which they have not to purchase. He must know that what he takes freely from the kingdom of Jesus Christ, that he has to give freely, lest any one should imagine that religion was only a matter of gain. (1 Tim. vi. 5).
It pertains to the Episcopal office to establish as supreme in the spirits and hearts of the faithful the religion of Jesus Christ—that is, the kingdom of light and love. Pius IX. may indeed reiterate that it is of no avail to take the law of loving one's neighbor as the end of every act, unless one acknowledges him in his divine prerogative; the word of the Apostle Paul remains ever true and certain, "Love to one's neighbor worketh no ill: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. xiii. 8-10). This includes love to God, as it is said, "If a man say he loveth God and hateth his brother, he is a liar" (1 John iv. 20). The love of our neighbor is religion, and it is the religion of Jesus Christ. Where it does not rule, there all outward exhibition of religion is only appearance and hypocrisy. To sing hymns to God and to offer sacrifices is only of worth, when they who praise and they who sacrifice love one another. He who esteems love as of little worth, despises God, he who scorns love, or insults it by frivolous practice, blasphemes God. By the love of our neighbor shall men know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. No other mark of discipleship has Christ laid down (John xiii. 35).
Finally, the Bishop has to support and promote in the conscience of the faithful that order which is from God. Reverence towards the king, the sense of law or loyalty, love to the fatherland—these are not ethical principles or virtues by the side of the Church and Christendom, but they are truly ecclesiastical and Christian virtues. The well-known words of Christianity, "Love the brotherhood (that is, the brethren), fear God, honor the king!" proceeded from one spirit, from one Christian mind. They are found in the First Epistle of Peter ii. 17, which lays down love to God as the motive for obedience to the king and his officers. Be subject "for the Lord's sake" (ii. 13); and he demands obedience, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the severe, and he calls this a grace, because it springs from the religious conscience (ii 18, 19).
The Apostle of the Gentiles teaches the same. Among the Apostles, Paul may be called essentially the Catholic Apostle, for he grasped most deeply the idea of the catholicity of Christendom, and set forth the same most vividly in its operation: he embraced in his view and in his love the whole human race as true imitators of Jesus Christ, and his preaching was permeated by the principle of the lightenment and sanctification of human nature, not only in individuals, but also in the race. No religious bond in any department of human life escaped him; and so he also acknowledged the relationship of Christians towards the worldly authority, as one grounded in religion. The authority of law, so he teaches, is ordained by God; whosoever resists the power of authority resists the ordinance of God, and is subjected to the Divine judgment. That we are subjected to authority, he teaches, as does Peter, not only on account of the punishment of law, but also for conscience' sake (Rom. xiii. 1-5). No mental reservation is admitted, just as Christ as little permitted it, in the words "Give unto Caesar, the things which are Caesar’s" (Matt. xxii. 21). To Caesar belongs, not the territory of faith, but that of power and law, and this immediately by the appointment of God. Therefore it appertains to the Apostolic office to exhort to obedience to the worldly authority, for the Lord's sake and for conscience' sake; and the Bishop, who directs to disobedience against the conscience, becomes a traitor to his office,—he brings into disrepute the cause of Jesus Christ.
Such are the branches, springing from one root, of the office which, beloved in the Lord, I have undertaken.
In opposition to the fulfilling of my task stand two powerful foes, ecclesiastical materialism and indifference, both generated and increased by the pernicious Romanism in the Western Church.
Ecclesiastical materialism resolves religion into mental excitement and mechanical government of the Church and her rites; it binds the divine to localities and to adventitious persons, which it makes the objects of worship, and nourishes itself with the constant necessity of miracles for the superstitious taste of the people, who are artificially kept away from the Scripture and tradition. There is no longer religious life, and the spirit has fled. If we should preach to the faithful entangled in such materialism the words of Christ, “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and life” (John vi. 63), we should not be understood.
The number of the indifferent, however, is legion, who, in the bustle of the world's market, have become deaf to the heavenly story of the glories of God, as well as to the harmonies of eternal peace and of the kingdom of love, sounding forth to us in the Gospel from the world to come. They are full material for our adversaries, and them they include in their list.
Outside there stand to right and left of our path the half-and-half obstructives, from whom there come, now the cry "You are going too far for us"; and now again, "You do not go far enough for us." To such I answer—We will go just as far as the Spirit of Jesus Christ leads us, and no further; if ye believe that ye are more filled and actuated by this Spirit, then come and help us, or lead us! But that ye should stand the whole day idle, while the vineyard of the Lord is being worked, and cries out for laborers, that at any rate is sin!
With thankfulness to God we acknowledge that many who have been repelled by the materialistic in religion are already returned with joy to the Church life, where they may again pray in a worthy, truly religions manner.
And to us, beloved in the Lord, who by the grace of God have attained to full clearness, the especial task remains to bring to unopposed sway within ourselves the kingdom of God, even truth and righteousness, so that we, manifesting our spiritual life, may bring about in the sight of the people a true renewal of Christianity in its primitive light and its heart-winning beauty. Thus the elevating hope which animates us will gain assurance day by day, that at last every evil will be healed which has caused the erection of a spiritual supremacy in the Church.
One great evil is the schism between the Eastern and the Western Church, and again within the latter. The Romish rule has worked out, not unity, but manifold division, for it has dethroned love and set up violence in its stead. We strive back after unity, but in conflict, and upon our banner is inscribed, on the one side—"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, even Jesus Christ"; and on the other—"Whatsoever is not done of conviction is sin."
August 11, 1873.