THE ENGLISH CHURCH UNION OFFICE,
35, WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, W.C.
I HAVE been asked, in connection with the subject of "the Prospect of Reunion with Eastern Christendom," to say a, few words about the Russian Orthodox Church. This Church, although in full communion with the rest of the Holy Eastern Church, and agreeing absolutely with it in all its doctrines, presents certain features which are peculiar to itself; and, therefore, although I shall constantly have to speak of that which Russia and Greece hold in common, it is to the distinguishing features of the Russian Church herself and the false views concerning her which are current in the West that I shall chiefly refer. No apology is needed for the selection of this one community out of all the other Eastern Churches for special treatment. A Church which, without mentioning her missionary dioceses in Japan and North America, extends her jurisdiction over the whole of the Russian Empire, that is to say, a sixth part of the habitable globe, which, according to the latest statistics (A.D. 1890), numbers considerably over seventy-two millions of souls, which, in that same year, baptised over four million children, married more than 650,000 couples, and whose births exceeded her deaths by considerably more than a million, could never be a negligable quantity in any discussion concerning the Reunion of Christendom. But she has higher claims than this upon the attention of all those who are interested in the present and future prospects of Christianity upon earth. Whether we look at her past services to Christendom--such, for instance, as having borne the whole brunt of the Tartar invasions for 400 years and thus saving Europe--or at her present activity and influence for good, she is worthy of our highest admiration and gratitude; nor need the learning of her theologians, the eloquence of her preachers, or the zeal and success of her missionaries fear comparison with those of any other Christian community in the world. In the splendour of her sanctuaries, the solemnity of her ceremonial, and the beauty of her Liturgy and Divine Office, she stands without a rival in Christendom; while as regards the faith which she holds, it is the same which was delivered to her more than nine centuries ago from the undivided Catholic Church, without alteration, mutilation, or addition of any kind whatsoever. [The exact number given in the Report of the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod's report for 1890 is 69,350,647, but this is without reckoning the Exarchate of Georgia and two other dioceses and the Army and Fleet, which in 1888 together amounted to 2,897,564, and of course have increased since then. The exact number of deaths given for 1890 is 3,001,562, of births 4,035,438, and of marriages 657,055. The numbers are from the diocesan returns, and must be considerably under rather than over the truth.]
Now, I know that some of these statements would certainly seem to contradict the general opinion held in the West concerning the Orthodox Church, and especially concerning that portion of it about which I am speaking. It is very much the fashion amongst both Roman Catholics and Protestants to speak of the Russian Church as a corrupt, ignorant, and fossilised body, without life, without learning, without energy--in fact, as a Church which lias long been perfectly useless to Christendom, and which, unless it speedily betake itself to the various remedies suggested by its many candid friends in the West, is doomed without doubt to extinction before the march of progress and civilisation. And, inasmuch as it is from Vienna or Berlin that our newspapers obtain most of their Russian news, it is unfortunately too often the case that English Churchmen take all that comes to them from these Roman and Protestant sources, or even from the Jewish press of Germany and Austria, as if it were Gospel truth. But this, surely, is a very foolish thing for us to do. We certainly should think the Russians very credulous, and even very much wanting in ordinary Christian charity, if they were to judge of the English Church entirely from the English Nonconformist press--for instance, from "the Tablet," "the Review of Reviews," and "the Daily News," or from "the Jewish Chronicle."
Let us therefore try first of all to realise how unlikely it is that we should receive an unprejudiced account of Russia from Roman or from Protestant sources.
That the Roman Catholics should not be fond of the Russian Church is perfectly natural. From the time of the Great Schism in 1054, at which time the Russian Grand Duke was at war with Constantinople, and therefore might naturally have been expected to make cause with the Pope against the Greek Emperor, down to the present day, when their mutual dislike of the Triple Alliance might seem to offer her a favourable opportunity, Rome has not ceased to cast longing eyes at this great National Church. Many of the Popes--Gregory VII. (1075), Innocent III. (1207), just to give two famous instances--have tried to achieve their end by means of negotiations with the Russian monarchs; other Popes, more especially since the foundation of the Order of Jesuits, by means of intrigue amongst the clergy and people, as during the troubles at the end of the 16th century, or in the reigns of Catharine II., Paul, and Alexander I.; others, again, by persuading other nations, such as the Poles and Swedes, to undertake crusades against them, which expedient was especially resorted to at periods when Russia was being hard pressed by the Mohammedan Tartars from the East, as in the time of St. Alexander Nevski, or later on in Russia's wars with the Turks. But all has been in vain. Every attempt has failed; the Russian Church and nation has throughout maintained a consistent and successful resistance against all attempts to detach her from the Holy Eastern Church. Her differences with the Papacy are something much more than merely political. Her attitude towards Rome throughout her history and at the present day cannot be better described than in the words of the congratulatory letter sent her by her converts in Japan on the occasion of the celebration at Kieff in 1888 of the ninth centenary of the conversion of the Russian nation. After referring to the well-known story of that conversion--to the various envoys that were sent from different religions in order to persuade the Grand Duke Vladimir to join them, and after pointing to the fact that they, the young Japanese Orthodox Church, had made the same choice as did the Grand Duke, they go on to speak thus of the other Christian missionaries in Japan:--
"But we pray St. Vladimir, and beseech the Russian Church to intercede before God that the same choice which he made may likewise be made by our nation, and that God may not suffer the Japanese people [in forsaking their Paganism] to enter afresh upon a false religious path, but that He may enlighten them with the light of the true and divinely-given Faith. We, indeed, who have tasted of the sweet, have no desire for the bitter, either for ourselves or for our country. But at the present time there are even more who offer us the bitter under the guise of sweet than there were in the time of St. Vladimir. Behold, we have before us one set of envoys who offer their Creed for our acceptation; but to the question as to what exactly their dogmas are, how can they answer but as follows? 'To-day we hold such and such doctrines, but what may be added to them to-morrow we cannot tell; for perhaps at this very moment a man far away from here, who has authority to do so, is preparing some new dogmas, which to-morrow we shall have to accept and believe; in fact, there are many amongst us who have not yet passed the limits of middle age, and who in our youth had two dogmas less to confess than we have at present, and perhaps we shall reach old age with two, possibly more than two, dogmas to believe besides those which we have to-day.' How can these be the successors of those ambassadors, who 'did not shun to declare unto the people all the counsel of God?'"
Nothing that I could say could put the doctrinal issue between Rome and Russia more clearly than this passage, and, if taken in connection with what I have already said as to the constant ill-successes of the Popes in their endeavours to induce the Russians to change their minds upon the subject, it will be quite unnecessary, like Virgil, to invoke the Muse in order to understand the causes of the wrath in those celestial minds which serve the Vatican. It is easy to see what majesty of the latter it is which has been outraged, and has thus caused the whole Ultramontane press to attack the Russian Church, insignem pietate though even her enemies admit her to be, with a more than Junonian hatred and spite!
But let us now turn to the Protestants, and try and understand why--quo numine laeno, quidve dolens--the Protestant press in Germany and the Dissenting press in England, which is generally content to copy that of Germany, carry on a no less relentless campaign of calumny and misrepresentation against Russia, notwithstanding the fact that, after all, she is the only great Christian nation which has never submitted to the Pope. First, as to the doctrinal position of the Orthodox Church with regard to Protestantism. I think that I cannot do better than continue the letter of the Orthodox Church in Japan from the point where I stopped:--
"But behold, envoys of another kind appear before us. These answer the aforesaid question when it is pat to them (i.e., What dogmas do you hold exactly?) in a totally different manner to the former. 'To-day, our doctrine is so-and-so, but what we may drop out of it to-morrow we ourselves know not.' And as they crumble and dissolve into sects, they wipe out the truths revealed by Christ one after another, until the very first foundations of Christianity melt away. And are men such as these the successors of those ambassadors to whom it was said, 'Go ye, and teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you?'"
And then, summing up the difference between the Roman and the Protestant missionaries in Japan, and comparing the teaching of both with Orthodoxy, they continue:--
"The one set, the further they go the more do they add of 'the wood, hay, and stubble' of human imaginations and inventions which they have come across and picked up on their way, unto the 'gold, silver, and precious stones' of the Divine doctrine; the others, the further they go the more do they fritter away of the treasure of the doctrine of God. Are not both alike preparing for those who shall trust and follow after them the bitterness of error and disenchantment, as well as a fresh search for the true Faith in time to come? It is the Orthodox Church alone which can 'give to drink from the fount of the sweetness of the Word of God' to those who come to her, for she alone has preserved the Divine doctrine just as it was committed to her, and will preserve it unchanged to the end of the ages, without adding to or taking from it a single iota, inasmuch as she is 'the pillar and ground of the truth,' inasmuch as the Spirit of God which dwelleth within her preserverth her from all error."
But to return to the attitude of Gorman Protestantism towards Russia. The above quotation is quite sufficient to show how utterly alien to the Orthodox idea is the genius of Protestantism. Moreover the course of political events, especially during the last two centuries, has contributed considerably to this antagonism as far as Russia and Germany is concerned. In order to describe these events, I hope you will forgive me for making a very long digression upon the nature of the great national and religious movement of this century which is generally known under the name of Panslavism. At first, it may seem to be beside our subject, but I think that before I have done you will see that it is quite as necessary for us to understand it, as it is for Easterns who wish for Reunion to understand Tractarianism and the religious and political movements which gave birth to and accompanied it.
For historical reasons, far too complicated to describe in detail, but which may be summed up under two heads:--(1) dynastic marriages with the Protestant families of Germany, and (2) the annexation under Peter the Great of the German Baltic provinces, which together led to the admission of a large number of German Protestants into the most influential places in the State, German Protestantism during the whole period which succeeded the reforms of Peter the Great down to the middle of this century held a most advantageous position in Russia. At the present time, owing partly to that great revival of national feeling during this century which is known as the Slavophile movement, partly to the emancipation of the serfs, and the consequent weakening of the influence of the often semi-Germanised nobility, partly to the adoption of a more national and less cosmopolitan policy on the part of her rulers, this state of things is reversed. German influence, political, religious, and social, is decidedly on the decrease in Russia, and seems likely at no distant point of time to disappear altogether; while Russian ideas and interests, coupled, as they have ever been, with the aims and ideals of the Orthodox Church are supplanting them more and more every year. I hope you will not think that I am wandering away from our subject--the prospect of Reunion with Eastern Christendom--or that I am trespassing too far into the domain of politics. After all, before we begin to discuss the possibilities of Reunion, we must at least form some idea of what that Church is with which many of us would like to see our Church united, and what are its relations towards that nation of whose members it is composed. Let us, then, compare Russia with the Western nations. [It is true that the Roman clergy, both amongst the Slavonic nationalities in Austria, and in quarters nearer home, have occasionally taken an active part in the national movements of the century. But these movements, so far from committing the Church of Home as a whole, have notoriously been undertaken independently of orders from headquarters.]
The revival of national feeling which has taken place during the present century in so many parts of continental Europe, and which, in such countries as Germany and Italy is to be seen in those movements which were consummated in the restoration of national unity, is represented in Russia by what is known as the Slavophile movement. Now it is a remarkable fact that in Orthodox countries, and in Orthodox countries alone, the Church has actively co-operated with, and even led, the national movements of which we are speaking. What a contrast those who have read both will have founu between the writings of the Slavophiles of Russia, of the Aksakoffs, of Khomiakoff, Kireeffski, Danileffski, Samarin and Pobedonostzeff, and the policy which they have advocated in respect to the Church of their country, and that of the Italian patriots, Mazzini and Cavour, or of the Prussian statesmen who brought about the unity of Germany! The very first act of the Prussian monarch in the direction of German unity was an act of religious violence. It was to force his own Lutheran Church to abandon all those of its distinctive tenets which could give offence to the German Calvinists, and then to force all of the latter who resided within his kingdom to do the same thing in favour of the Lutherans, after which he proceeded to amalgamate them into one body with himself as their Summus Episcopus! As for the relations between Church and State in Italy, during and since the attainment of national unity, they are too notorious to require any description. We all know of the difficulties that Pius IX. had in the forties with his rebellious subjects; and have we not all heard of the sorrows of "the prisoner of the Vatican?" In a word, in Western Europe the national movements of this nineteenth century have certainly not worked well with the Church. How different has been the course of the national movement in Russia! The Slavophile movement, which, as far as its internal policy is concerned, may be well described in short as "Russia for the Russians, and not for the Germans or the Poles," was a distinctly religious and Orthodox, no less than a national and patriotic movement. The very same men who worked for the emancipation of the serfs in Russia, and for the emancipation of the nation from the ascendancy of foreign ideas, in many cases also wrote theological treatises of the very first importance, and carried on long and learned controversies in defence of Orthodoxy against its enemies at home and abroad: while they themselves, both in deed and in life, were the brightest ornaments of that Church which they loved so well, and for which they suffered so much. For it must be remembered, that so long as the ascendancy of foreign ideas continued in Russia, as in the earlier years of the century, it was no light thing to take up the defence of the National Church. Khomiakoff had to publish all his theological works, no less than his political writings, in foreign countries, for they were all forbidden by the Russian censorship to be printed or even read in Russia; while Samarin was actually thrown into prison in the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, in the reign of the Emperor Nicholas, for venturing to write against the German Protestants in the Baltic provinces. At the present time, all this is changed. The works of Khomiakoff are to be found in every theological seminary in the country, and his controversial writings and those of Samarin have become the standard books of reference whenever a Russian finds it necessary to defend his national religion. The Government is no longer either hostile or even apathetic; in fact, the religious movement, which began in Russia very much at the same time and for the same causes as did our Tractarian Movement, has not only gained toleration for itself in the country, but has actually been able to identify itself with, and even to guide, all the highest political aspirations of the nation. In this mighty fact lies, in my opinion, all Russia's hopes for the future, just as in the history of her Church lies the secret of all her greatness in the past. Russia, like other nations, has been deeply affected by the movements and tendencies of the nineteenth century; but whereas those tendencies elsewhere have taken the form of a godless democracy always tending towards atheism and anarchy, and at best only controlled by a brutal military despotism hardly less objectionable than anarchy itself, it is in Russia alone, of all Continental states, that the popular movement, from the very first, has been linked with, and transformed by the elevating influences of a Church which, while thoroughly national in the fullest sense of the word, at the same time holds the Faith of Catholic Christendom in its purest and most uncorrupt form. Here, and here only, the nation, without either trampling upon the clerical estate, or being domineered: over by it, has allowed itself to be guided by the very spirit of the Church, and is not ashamed to own to the fact. And is not this just as it should be? Perhaps some who are here present may remember the words of warning which Aeschylus put into the mouth of Athene, the patroness of his native city, in one of his tragedies, written just at the time when the Athenian democracy were beginning to remove the old landmarks, and were about to start headlong down the incline towards that uncontrolled form of popular government which was so swiftly followed by the destruction of their Empire:
"I counsel the citizens to reverence and maintain that which is neither anarchy nor tyranny, and not to cast forth all fear from the State; for what man among mortals that feareth nothing is righteous?" Aesch. Eum. 696-9.
These words of the Athenian poet are fully borne out in the history of the rise and fall of every nation, Christian or Pagan, which the world has yet seen. [I am aware that Aeschylus in this particular passage is referring to what we should term "constitutional checks" and not, immediately at least, to the restraints of religion. Still, if taken in context with the whole drift of the play (see, e.g., the passage quoted below) there can be no doubt that he intended to imply the restraints of religious awe, no less than of the ancient institutions of his country.]
National or political movements, no less than governments or individual rulers which cast aside to deinon--that religious awe, which, in the Holy Scriptures and even in Pagan writings is termed "the fear of God"--are sure before long to end, either in anarchy, or in mere brute despotism. Russia, it is true, is, as was the Byzantine Empire, an autocracy. But it is often forgotten that, while in many respects the form of the Imperial Government of ancient Rome remained the same after, as before, the conversion of the empire to Christianity, the theory upon which the autocracy rested was profoundly changed. The emperor was no longer "ille Deus," but became qeou diakonoV. St. John Damascene, in his defence of the sacred images, showed that the worship due to monarchs, no less than to other iueorfs of the Deity was, not that of latreia, as had been the case under the Pagan Empire, but of timhtikh proskunhsiV; while the to despotoumenon of Aeschylus is exactly reproduced in his writings by turannoV. And all this applies to "constitutional" governments no less than to monarchies. I might quote numerous passages from the Slavophile writers, in which they show the fatal effect of the separation of national and religious aspirations amongst the latest movements of Western Europe. But as this would involve too lengthy an explanation of the particular events to which we are in each case referred to, I prefer to quote once more from Aeschylus. "He, who of his own free will, and without necessity is just and righteous, shall not be unhappy; utterly destroyed, at least, he can never be. But I declare that the transgressor who ventures upon a course contrary (to righteousness) will throw all things without justice into confusion, and, in time, when trouble shall have seized his sails, and broken the rigging of his mast, he shall perish by violence. There, as he struggles in the midst of an unconquerable whirlpool, he invokes those who will listen to his prayer no more; but the Deity laughs at the rash and self-confident man, as he beholds him now no longer boasting, but bound in a calamity from which there is no escape, and trying in vain to make his way round the headland, where having dashed his former prosperity to pieces against the rock of righteousness, unwept, unknown, he perishes for ever." Aesch. Eum. 550-565.
Now, although I have never seen this passage quoted by the Slavophile writers, I believe it to represent exactly their ideas with regard to government. It tallies exactly with the writings of Danileffski and Leontieff upon the present political and religious state of Western Europe; while, with regard to Khomiakoff, the friend of Pusey, Palmer, G. Williams, and many other early leaders of the Catholic movement, I can only say that I am at present translating a poem which he wrote in 1836 upon England, in which he dwells upon those ominous symptoms in the political and religious life of our country which called forth Keble's famous sermon upon our National Apostacy, and that I am quite at a loss which line out of the words I have quoted to select as a heading to my translation, anyone of them would be so entirely appropriate. But I must dwell no longer upon this; I will only say that, before there can be any question of Reunion between the Churches, the fact of this close relation between Russian national and religious aspirations must be realised and appreciated by English Churchmen; and that, rather than abuse Russia for having solved the most difficult question of the age, and indeed of all ages--viz., the reconciliation of the secular and religious aspirations of nations, in a manner which has resulted in their being able to work together to the pre-eminent advantage of both Church and State, we ought to be glad that such is the case, and to rejoice with her. Englishmen, whatever the political difficulties which they may have with her--and I do not deny that these are from time to time anything but insignificant, though perhaps this need not be so for ever--have no reason whatever to wish to see Russia under an infidel Government, or that her Church should lose its influence in directing her destinies, or that her internal affairs should be directed according to the foreign ideas which obtained during the period of German Protestant ascendancy. I think that you will agree with me that the general feeling of the Church of England was not expressed when Mr. Shuttleworth, who formerly held a minor Canonry at St. Paul's, sent his curate last year to a meeting of the "Friends of Russian Freedom," a society founded at the suggestion of two or three well-known Nihilist refugees, to give them his views upon Russian affairs, and these views contained an expression to the effect that bombs in Russia were just as necessary as parliamentary discussion in England, and meant much the same thing. It seems a strange thing for a priest of the Church of England to have said, who, every time he celebrates the Holy Eucharist, beseeches the "Almighty and everliving God" to "save and defend all Christian kings, princes, and governors"! Anyhow, as a rule, Englishmen do not care for this sort of thing, neither have they any reason to wish to see the institutions of Russia or any other country altered in a direction contrary to the desires of the nation itself. But it can be well understood that the Germans themselves, whether in or out of Russia, are not well pleased with their loss of influence; and this accounts for the attitude of the German press towards Russian affairs. Hinc illae lacrymae. They know full well that it is because of the strength that the Church has given to the national movement that they have lost that predominating position in the counsels of the nation which they formerly possessed, and which they had almost begun to look upon as a right: and hence all their hatred and abuse is concentrated upon the Church and its officers, whether ecclesiastical or lay. Read, for instance, the German papers upon the subject of Mr. Pobedonostzeff, the chief Procurator of the Holy Synod. Any measure that may be taken by the Government which the Germans don't like, any fact about Russia, true or false, which may get into the papers, any mistake that her officials may make, or may be supposed to have made, in administering the law, any act of injustice which may, or may not, have been perpetuated in the Empire, from the Baltic to the Pacific Ocean, is attributed to him. The recent legislation in the Baltic Provinces, and the so-called persecution of the Jews, are of course all of his contrivance, although the administration of all that concerns the non-Orthodox religious bodies is, as a matter of fact, controlled by a department of the Home Office, and has nothing whatever to do with the Holy Synod. The sanitary or insanitary condition of the Siberian prisons is of course his fault, although he has just about as much to do with the prisons in Russia as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apparitor-General has with the prisons in England; in fact, in Germany he has for many years been made a sort of scapegoat for all the sins, real or imaginary, committed by the Government, or its officials, in Russia. It is extraordinary with what light heartedness even serious writers in Germany act upon the saying that "any stick is good enough to beat a dog with" in regard to this distinguished Russian Churchman. Even such a distinguished scholar as Mommsen, in a preface which he has lately written to an attack upon the Russian Government by a Belgian Professor, has not hesitated to apply the expression Torquemada ressuscité to him. When you have heard the history of this nick-name, you will be better able to judge whether it was worthy of such distinguished patronage. It was originally invented by the late editor of a Radical London evening paper, who had been to St. Petersburg in order to try and persuade Mr. Pobedonostzeff to use his influence to obtain admission for the Salvation Army into Russia. In this he naturally had failed, for the laws of Russia have never admitted foreign proselytism, and Mr. Pobedonostzeff was not likely to go out of his way to persuade the Minister of the Interior to suggest to the Emperor a new law in favour of the admission of these "quack-soul-savers," as a distinguished Russian authoress has called them; inasmuch as he, together with the vast majority of his fellow-countrymen, have as little love for spiritual as we have for medical quacks. What did Mr. Stead do upon his return? He devoted a sixth part of his book on Russia to abuse of the Russian Church, calling Mr. Pobedonostzeff the "Shadow on the Throne," the "Grand Inquisitor," "Laud Redivivus," "Torquemada Redivivus," and what not. Well, this, although rather ignorant, was perhaps natural enough in Mr. Stead's case. Nonconformist education in England as a rule does not afford much insight into the difficult problems of ecclesiastical history. He could hardly be expected to be able to distinguish between freedom of practice and belief in the case of a man's own religion, which was what Torquemada tried to prevent, but which Russia has always allowed since the time of Peter the Great (that is to say, much longer than England itself), and permission to interfere with other people's religion that is to say, permission for every grotesque ignoramus, every silly self-appointed apostle to enter Russia and experiment upon the simple-minded Russian peasantry, which is what Russia does not allow, and does not intend to allow. But all this, a serious historian like Professor Mommsen must know and be able to understand as well as anybody. And yet, in giving his imprimatur the other day to the above-mentioned book upon the Jewish question, with which Pobedonostzeff has nothing whatever to do, inasmuch as he is not the Minister of the Interior, Mommsen, the most distinguished historian now living in Germany, and Professor of the Berlin University, adopts Stead's ignorant soubriquet, and speaks of the Chief Procurator as "Torquemada ressuscité." Nothing could more clearly show how right Samarin was in saying that Russians, when they went amongst Germans, always "found themselves confronted with a sentiment of incorrigible hostility, and a contempt which had become raised, to the dignity of a national conviction." What should we think of one of our great historians, of the Bishop of Oxford or Professor Seeley for instance, if, in expressing their opinion of a German statesman (let us say, Prince Bismarck), it should turn out that the only reference quoted in making his charge against him was taken from the gutter journalism of the Paris Boulevards?
Such, then, is the attitude of German Protestantism towards Russia. I have dwelt upon it at great length, because I believe that the greatest hindrance to a growth of friendly feeling, which of course must precede any thought of ecclesiastical Reunion, is the fact that so many English Churchmen, and even high ecclesiastical dignitaries, seem to take all the so-called Russian news that is copied into our papers from the German and Austrian Press for granted, although the latter is known to be entirely in the hands of Roman Catholics, Jews, or Protestants. Of course, the Russians cannot expect every Englishman to sift the evidence for this and that statement; but they have a right at least to expect, when the highest authorities of our Church are constantly expressing a desire for Reunion with the East, that English Churchmen should not take everything that is said against their Church and country for granted. I have already said that the English Church is not committed by the eccentricities of individuals, more or less obscure, within her fold; but when some of her more responsible leaders enter upon a similar course it is difficult to persuade foreigners that the Church herself is not compromised. Few things produced a worse impression amongst Russian Churchmen than the fact that six English Bishops took part in the demonstration three years ago at the Guildhall against the so-called religious persecution of the Jews in Russia. I was in Russia a few weeks afterwards, and one constantly heard expressions such as: "Why, if the Archbishop of Canterbury really thinks that we Russian Orthodox persecute the Jews, did he write two years ago to our Metropolitan at Kieff, and say that he would like to see the Anglican and Russian Churches one en toiV desmoiV tou Euaggeliou? If he really thinks that we are a persecuting Church, why does he wish to be united with us?" As an example of how little the speakers on that occasion understood the question they were discussing, it will be sufficient to mention the Bishop of Ripon's speech at that meeting, in which he quoted as an instance of religious persecution the Sabbath candle-money (it must be remembered that it was just after the Lambeth Judgment, when the authorities of our Church came to the conclusion that the English clergy were no longer to be persecuted for the ceremonial use of candles!) whereas this and many other supposed instances of persecution which he brought forward were in reality nothing more than taxes put upon the Jews in by-gone days by their own Rabbis, and for the support of their own religious schools, which laws have since received the sanction of the State! [The earliest legislation of the Russian government upon this matter was in the year 1845. The law will be found in Levanda's "Collection of Russian laws concerning the Jews," page 631.] I remember writing at the time to a friend in Russia, who is interested in the relations between the English and Russian Churches, and trying to make some excuse for the part that some of our Church dignitaries took in the matter in their want of knowledge of Russian affairs. His answer to me was, "We in Russia think it disgraceful and shameful for a man to talk and write upon a subject of which he knows nothing." And I can't help admitting the force of the argument. Englishmen, and especially English Churchmen, should remember that, though they for the most part cannot read Russian, most educated Russians can read English as well as German and French, and therefore if they have any respect for their own dignity, or pity for that of their country, they should be careful what they say upon Russian subjects.
Let us now pass on to another point of constant misunderstanding, which must be clearly understood before there can be any thought of Reunion.
Nothing is more common in England, and especially amongst High Churchmen, than to hear the Russian Church accused of Erastianism--of being under bondage to the State. Sometimes, even amongst well-educated Church people, one hears the silly and ignorant expression "Cesaro-Papalism" made use of, which, originally invented, I believe, by a German Protestant, has been widely adopted amongst Roman Catholic writers. We have already spoken of the relations which ought to exist between the Government and the religion of every country. Now let us see what is the actual form of government of the Russian Church. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, when, with the complete sanction of the four Eastern Patriarchs, the Patriarchate of Moscow was abolished, she has been governed by a Synod of Bishops, always sitting, entitled the Most Holy Governing Synod. This body is constituted somewhat upon the model of the ancient Oecumenical Councils) but, owing to the fact that it has always to be sitting, it is of course of much smaller dimensions. The three Metropolitans of St. Petersburg, Kieff, and Moscow are ex-officio members of this body, as has also been the Exarch of Georgia since the annexation of that kingdom to the Empire. The remaining prelates are any which the Holy Synod itself chooses to summon, either as permanent members (chleny), sitting for a certain number of months every year, or as temporarily summoned to give their opinion upon some particular subject in which the Bishops in question may be experts. The number that may be summoned is not fixed, but as a rule there are eight or nine Bishops sitting at the same time. The table at which they sit, with the Emperor's throne at one end and the book of the Gospels and the Cross at the other, had, when I last saw it, places for ten arranged, but it is seldom that so many can be spared from their dioceses at the same time. As for the Emperor's throne, it means exactly as much as, and no more than, Constantine the Great presiding at the Council of Nicea, or his successors who summoned every one of those Councils which we all, Easterns and Westerns, acknowledge to be Oecumenical. [It is a fact worth noticing, that, while the seven Councils which East and West alike acknowledge as Oecumenical were all summoned by the Emperor, the additional fourteen acknowledged as such by Rome, but not by the Easterns or ourselves (with one exception, viz., that summoned at Constantinople in 869 under the auspices of the Pope in order to depose Photius, and which the Eastern Church never accepted as Oecumenical), were convoked by the Pope.] The authority of the Holy Synod itself in all purely ecclesiastical questions, or matters of doctrine and Church discipline is absolute and supreme: it is limited only by the Holy Scriptures, the decrees of the Seven Oecumenical Councils, the Creed, and the unbroken traditions of the whole Orthodox Church. The Bishops are elected in the following manner:--The Holy Synod sends at least two, and not more than three, names to the Emperor, one of which he selects. I may say in passing that only once during the present century has the Emperor chosen any but the first of the names submitted to him. The candidate's nomination then takes place in the Holy Synod, all the Bishops who happen to be in the capital taking part in the ceremony, to which the public is admitted. His consecration generally follows in the course of the next two or three days.
The Emperor, as we have said, has a throne in the room where the Holy Synod assembles; but on ordinary occasions he is represented there by a layman, whom he himself appoints, entitled the Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod, who holds very much the same position as did the Byzantine Emperor's commissioners at the meetings of the General Councils. All communications between the ecclesiastical and civil authorities have to go through him; but upon doctrinal or purely ecclesiastical questions he has no voice whatsoever, not even the right to speak, and accordingly during the sittings of the Synod, while he always has the right to be present, he sits at a separate table.
As to the charges of Cesaro-Papalism, the whole system must be judged of by the manner in which it has worked. The fact remains that, while personally several of the rulers of Russia have been by no means ill-disposed towards either Protestantism or Rationalism, no attempt has ever been made by any of them to interfere in any way with the doctrines of the Church. And if they were to do so, the history of the Byzantine Church, e.g., the Iconoclastic controversies, gives us every reason to believe that the Church would be able to hold her own. To speak of the Emperor of Russia as Head of the Church in any such sense as the Pope claims to be head of the Roman Church is absurd. In the first place, how can he possibly influence the independent Synods of Greece, Servia, Roumania, and the Austrian Orthodox communities, or of the four Patriarchs in the Turkish Empire? And yet they each, no less than Russia herself, form integral portions of the Orthodox Church, and the Russian Church no less than they, is subject to, and acknowledges the authority of the Church as a whole. If, then, it be maintained that though he is not head of the whole Orthodox Church, yet that he is head of the Russian Church, which itself is only a portion of the Orthodox Church, and not independent of it, it would follow that ho is subject to the jurisdiction of these independent Synods and Patriarchs--an obvious absurdity.
Moreover the office of Head of the Church, if understood in the Papal sense, would involve the inclusion of sacerdotal powers and claims of infallibility. But what, after all, is the Russian theory of Monarchy? The Tzar simply represents the Russian people, and his power consists of what was committed to his ancestor Michael Romanoff when, after the older dynasty had died out, he was elected by the votes of the National Assembly. But the people could only hand over to him such rights as they themselves already possessed, and I don't think that anyone has yet ventured to maintain that the Russian or any other Orthodox people ever claimed the right of governing the Church. They, like all other Orthodox nations, had a right to a share in the election of their Bishops. This was indeed the case in early times at Rome itself. And this right the Russians could hand over to the Tzar, as we have already seen that they have done. Again, the nation had the right, and indeed the duty, of seeing that the decisions of the clergy and of their councils should be upheld, and to defend their religion against all attacks of foreigners from outside or heretics from within; and all this the Tzar, as representative of his people, claims to do, both as a right and as a duty. But the people never had any right to decide questions of conscience, ecclesiastical discipline, or dogmatic teaching, nor to supervise the spiritual government of the Church; and so of course they could not hand such powers over to the Tzar. And consequently no Russian Tzar has ever claimed such rights. I have already mentioned that the deposition of a patriarch and the establishment of the Holy Synod were both considered beyond the powers of the Tzar, and had to be brought about by the representatives of the whole Orthodox Church. This in itself shows that the Tzar is not the head of the Church in the Papal sense of the word, but merely that as head of the nation he represents the people's ecclesiastical as well as civil rights.
Such then are the relations between Church and State in Russia, and upon the whole they have worked well. There have, of course, been times when the secular power has encroached upon the Church. Ivan the Terrible actually caused St. Philip, the Metropolitan of Moscow, to be driven from the Capital and murdered when he rebuked him for his tyranny and vices. According to the Papal ideal, I suppose the Tzar ought rather to have been forced either by his subjects or by foreigners to prostrate himself before St. Philip, and place his neck beneath his foot, as did Frederick Barbarossa before the Pope in the porch of St. Mark's at Venice. The Orthodox Church thinks otherwise. She openly confesses that her kingdom is not of this world. St. Gregory the Great wrote to the first Archbishop of Canterbury that "things are not to be loved for the sake of places (even of Rome itself), but places for the sake of good things done within them." And Khomiakoff observes that the Church is not "bound up with objects of inanimate nature, such as a particular place of residence, or with any particular scheme of diocesan organisation, or with a chair; for we all know who it was that at the time of the Saviour's Passion sat in the chair of Moses." The real successors of St. Peter are not those who are always picking quarrels with the secular power: on the contrary, St. Peter himself told Christian men in his first Catholic Epistle, to "submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake," and made no exception in favour of his successors or any other ecclesiastical personages however exalted. Then He Who said that His kingdom was not of this world will take good care of His Body, which is the Church. I think this is tolerably closely the teaching of the Orthodox Church upon the vexed question of Church and State, and that I could produce chapter and verse from Orthodox writers for every sentence. I don't, myself, see how a better system could be devised. As a matter of fact, we find in history that whether the Church has possessed the power of interfering in the secular affairs of a country or not, no country, either Eastern or Western, whatever its political constitution may have been, has prospered so long as the Government itself has been in the hands of irreligious men; that even if the ecclesiastical authorities go beyond the limits of their legitimate sphere of influence, and attempt in the name of their divine mission* to dictate to the secular power, they almost invariably do more harm than good; and that the Papal ideal, which seems to be either absolute submission of governments to the Pontifex Maximus, or else unceasing war between Church and State, has nowhere proved a success in the long run. [I have sometimes known Russians point to the existence of Bishops in our House of Lords as an undesirable remnant of Popery. So it would be, no doubt, if they claimed their seats jure divino, but this they do not do; while the State has a perfect right to attach certain baronies to certain sees, and the Peers Spiritual have just as much right to make use of the rights which the State has given them, as have either the Peers Temporal or the members of the House of Commons.]
I have as yet said nothing about the dogmatic difficulties which lie in the way of such of us as are anxious to bring about the Reunion of our Church with the Orthodox Church of the East. My reason has been simply this--that I am convinced that the first step towards that longed-for consummation of our desires is that we should understand Russia, constituting, as she does, the principal Eparchy of the Eastern Church, better than we have hitherto done, and that we should try and get rid of some of our more superficial prejudices against her. All doctrinal questions are as nothing compared to a desire to be at one on both sides, and this cannot truly exist as long as we are ignorant of one another. Perhaps indeed I ought to stop here; but if you have patience enough to listen to me a little longer I will go through one or two points upon which the Orthodox Church and ourselves, at any rate as far as outward appearances are concerned, seems to differ. For although, as I have said, the first thing to be gained is "a kindly affection one to another with brotherly love," I am far from saying that it is the only or even the most difficult thing. It is the purest delusion in the world to think that Reunion will ever be brought about by dogmatic compromise, or by avoiding the frank discussion of first principles. I only mean to say that, when we go forth to meet our long separated brethren, we should rather, like Jacob, try to "appease them with a present," than begin operations by pelting them with mud. If we throw mud at a man, it is not only apt to stick, and so to prevent us from seeing him as he is, but some of it is very likely to go into his eyes and prevent him seeing us so well as we should wish. And therefore mud throwing is not wise. But even when we have reached the stage of being able to hold intercourse one with another upon reasonable conditions of Christian courtesy, we must not expect the Russian Church to enter into any compromise with us upon subjects which they regard as vital truths. The Orthodox Church, however much she wishes and even prays for Unity, does not believe in undenominational Christianity, and will never play the part of poor Gretchen in Goethe's Faust, who at first protested against her lover's heterodoxy, but when he clothed his religious ideas in certain specious phrases, ending with
I have no name for it--Feeling is all;
Names are but sound and smoke
Dimming the glow of heaven.
replied that she was perfectly satisfied, and heard much the same thing from the parson in Church on Sundays,
"Nur mit ein Biszchen andern Worten,"
that is to say, "only with a slightly different way of putting it"! This sort of thing will never do for the Holy Eastern Church; and all suggestions of first entering into Communio in sacris, and leaving what exactly it is that we believe to be arranged at some future time, make the Easterns think that after all we are nothing but a Protestant sect. Communion in Faith is not only quite as necessary as Communion in Sacraments, but must in the very nature of things precede it; and certain clearly marked differences, not I hope in the Faith itself, but in ways of putting it both into language and into practice will have to be faced. For this it is necessary that we should first know one another's theological writings. I, for my part, always wish that our theologians could more often be brought into inter-communication with those of Russia. The whole conception of the Orthodox concerning the relations which exist between the science of theology and the Church, is so entirely favourable, compared with that of the Roman Catholics or Protestants, to a dispassionate and impartial discussion of doubtful points, that nothing but good can come of it. The Orthodox Church is sometimes described as illogical. She is so in one respect, inasmuch as she absolutely refuses to allow her theologians to make syllogisms out of her dogmatical definitions, with a view to creating fresh dogmas out of them. She entirely disbelieves in the modern Roman theory of the development of Christian Doctrine. Like the aged President of Magdalen, Dr. Routh, when he was asked what he thought of Newman's famous essay, she admits of a development of statement, but not of doctrine: that is to say, that she may find and authorise a definition of a doctrine held, believed in, and acted upon in the Church from the earliest ages, but she does not allow that because certain dogmas held from the beginning seem to theologians of this or that school to lead, by a logical process, to fresh dogmas, and because the advocates of this new inference may seem able to maintain their argument against all opponents, that the Church has the right to make a new dogma, and to force the result of their syllogistic deductions upon the faithful as an article of faith. Let us take, for instance, Cardinal Newman's arguments [Anglican Difficulties (Edition 1891); Vol. ii., page 26, etc.] in favour of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady. I select this particular instance purposely in order to illustrate by one example a difference which exists between the Easterns on the one hand, and both the English Church (as far at least as its popular teaching is concerned) and Rome. He tells us first that the Fathers regarded the Blessed Virgin as occupying the same place in the Divine economy for the Redemption of Man as Eve occupied in the Fall of Man. And of this, however much some people may dislike facing the fact, there can be no doubt whatsoever. The passages from St. Justin Martyr, representing Palestine, and of Tertullian representing Africa and Rome, and of St. Irenaeus who represented not merely Asia Minor and Gaul, but also the teaching of St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Evangelist, all three of whom lived in the second century after Christ, make it perfectly clear that the early Church did not look upon the position of the Blessed Virgin in the Divine economy in the same light as do the Protestants or the vast majority of Anglicans at the present day; but would with all their hearts have said, as the Eastern Church does at the present day: "We place our hopes in thee alone, O Mother of God," and, "Thou art the salvation of the Christian race." [Irenaeus, Contr. Haer, v. 19. Et si ea [Eva] inobedierat Deo; sed haec [Maria] suasa est obedire Deo, uti virginis Evae Virgo Maria fieret Advocata. Quem ad modum astrictum est morti genus humanum per Virginem, Salvatur per Virginem, &c. [Some MSS. read solvitur or solvatur, and St. Augustine quotes the passage so: of course, the original Greek word is not known, but both mean the same thing.] Again, Irenaeus, Contr. Haer, iii. 22, speaks of Mary as obediens, et sibi, et universo generi humano causa facta est salutis. This is almost exactly the same as su gar ei h swthria tou genouV twn cristianwn.] By this the Fathers would not have meant, neither does the Eastern Church mean, to substitute the Mother for her Son, but merely to enforce and to bring into the every-day round of the Christian life of prayer and praise the fact that, in so far as the purposes of God have been revealed to us, mankind owes his salvation to Mary, every bit as much as he owes his fall to Eve. No one who is not prepared to deny the freewill of man--and this, according to the teaching of St. John Damascene, would be to deny that God created man in His own image--can refuse to recognise the fact that it was through the exercise of that freewill with which God, together with the rest of His rational creation, had endowed Mary, that His purposes for our redemption were accomplished when and as they were: and that in this sense our salvation is due to Mary's correspondence with the grace that was given to her, just as the fall of Man was due to Eve's perfectly free non-correspondence with the grace which God, inasmuch as "He is faithful, and will not, suffer us to be tempted above that we are able," had undoubtedly given her. The man who would object to ascribe his redemption in one sense, but at the same time in a very real sense, to the perfectly free agency of Mary as recorded in the first chapter of St. Luke, and could not accept the statement, accepted long before the great schism by East and West alike, that in one sense Mary alone saves us (just as in one sense we English Churchmen say that we are saved by faith only): must reject the doctrine of freewill altogether. As far as statement is concerned, the East speaks as strongly, and perhaps even more strongly, than the more reserved West with regard to our Lady's place in the scheme of Redemption; but as far as doctrine is concerned, in the earliest times they agreed, and the East has not changed. Before there is any chance of Reunion with the East, the English Church will have to become very much nearer to what it was in the days which preceded the great Schism in the eleventh century than it is at present. [I may here say, in passing, that to the Easterns the idea that many Anglicans hold that the Blessed Virgin and the Saints cannot hear us when we ask them to intercede for us, appears (as Khomiakoff wrote to W. Palmer of Magdalen) too un-Christian and materialistic to be even so much as discussed. Just as if the God in whom "we live and move and have our being" could not make the Saints hear us quite as easily as He is able to make our voices intelligible to one another in ordinary conversation. Moreover they believe that if it had not been His will that this communion of prayer between the living and departed should exist, then the Church which is His Body and in which His Spirit dwells would not have permitted and encouraged such prayers.] But now with regard to Development. Cardinal Newman, in the passage to which I am referring, goes on to argue that inasmuch as the early Fathers speak of the Blessed Virgin as the second Eve, she must have had all those endowments which Eve possessed before the Fall. "Is it any violent inference." he says, "that she, who was to co-operate in the redemption of the world, at least was not less endowed with power from on high, than she who, given as a help-mate to her husband, did in the event but co-operate with him for his ruin?" And thus he attempts to show that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was a logical development from the teaching of the early Church concerning the second Eve. Now all such development of dogma--I am not speaking of theological opinion--as this the Eastern Church utterly and entirely rejects. [While Professor Damalas of Athens, and possibly some other Orthodox theologians have defended this doctrine as a lawful theological opinion, none of them hold it to be an article of Faith, while by far the greater number, including all the prominent Russian theologians, reject it entirely. See, for instance, Nicanor, Archbishop of Kherson and Odessa, in his treatise upon "The Heretical Tendencies of the Doctrine of the Roman Church," and Khomiakoff in his essay upon the "Unity of the Church.] She will not admit of the creation of fresh dogmas through the scientific investigations of theologians. She allows of development of statement and definition as occasion may require, but not of doctrine. I will quote from a very able article upon the Old Catholics which appeared last year in Russia:
The domain of the science of theology is wider than that of the Church. The Church, in that, in the matter of religion, she places no bonds on her members' freedom of will, and values above everything their voluntary (and not forced) moral-religious development, places no bonds upon the man of science, whether natural or religious, in the matter of scientific investigations. She simply bids him remember that his intellect is that of an individual man, who is exercising his faculty of learning, not in independence of the necessity of media for the cognition of the object of his learning, but on the contrary, in dependence upon a medium: that medium being his intellect; and that this medium is limited, feeble, and inadequate; and she reminds him that if, in consequence of this, he falls into error, or gets a rub (while wandering) in the foggy sphere of heterodoxy, she herself will serve for him as a torch and beacon to light him on his way, always being sensitively ready to come to the assistance of a man who is in trouble or distress, provided only that he does not brush her aside in consequence of his pride and self-conceit--that principle of pride, which first brought sin, which is the corrupter of human understanding, into the world--and placed man in a mediate instead of an immediate relation to the subject of his learning. [This passage refers to the direct or immediate knowledge which Adam originally had in God and lost by the Fall. It is stated thus in the Orthodox Confession, Question 23:--"The innocence of Adam before the Fall (was) joined with a most complete and perfect rectitude and innate justice of both will and understanding. So that in his understanding all knowledge was included.....For inasmuch as Adam had a perfect knowledge of God, therefore in knowing of God he knew all other things through God (met' ekeinon) at appeared when all creatures came to Adam to be named: for he gave them all names expressive of the several natures and dispositions which he knew, not from any experience, but from the knowledge of things which by the Grace of God he had.....But when by transgressing he had sinned ..... losing the perfection of his reason and understanding, etc."] In the indefinite and misty region of knowledge she serves in the fullest sense of the word for the man of learning as the brazen serpent, on which those of the ancient Israelites, who looked, as they journeyed in the barren and waterless desert, were cured of the poison of the serpents' bite. Go--says the Church to the man of learning--go boldly and confidently forward; do not fear the boundlessness or darkness of the domain of learning, widen out thine own sphere of knowledge, and dig down into the depth--I will always follow thee, and will answer to thy call, however far and deep down thou mayest have gone from me, no distance of space, no thickness of darkness, will conceal me from thee; I will pour out light upon thee, and will serve as a standard for thee at any distance or any depth, inasmuch as to the subject of thy personal knowledge thou hast relation through the mean of the limited and fallible understanding of man, while I will have relation to it outside any medium, and outside any error, and therefore to me alone is the true cognizance of the very essence of the subject accessible.
It is just in the fact that the theologians of the Orthodox Church are able to take a line of this kind, without feeling themselves compromised, that the chief hope lies for the two Churches ever being able to arrive within speaking distance of one another. Reunion is still very distant: quite beyond the range of practical politics for the present. Let us first understand one another. That will at least be one step, and a very great step, gained toward the cause which we all have at heart.