Project Canterbury

 

 

ARE CATHOLICS CATHOLIC?

A Sermon

PREACHED (IN PART) BEFORE A SOCIETY OF PRIESTS,

BY

J. W. HORSLEY, M.A. OXON.

Assistant Curate of St. Michael's, Shoreditch.


PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.


London:
W. KNOTT, 26, BROOKE STREET, HOLBORN, E.C.

1876.

 

  

ARE CATHOLICS CATHOLIC?

GENESIS II. 18.

"The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone."

No other text, save the primary one which tells that God is Love, seems more, to me at least, to unfold to man the mysteries of his relations, in God and for God, to his brother man. A society, a philosophy, a theology, might well be founded on these words alone.

There are many words which seem unfathomable in their depths, many texts in which, perhaps, hereafter in the light of God, all doctrine, all rules for practice, may be seen displayed in microcosmic comprehension. Is not the idea of God summed up by Himself in the name of Love? Is not the Gospel epitomized in the one word Brother? To be homo unius libri is no unworthy aim; nor will the intellectual grasp of such a man be inferior in depth or extent to that which is the result of a reading more superficial, because more varied and diffuse. In thought as well as handicraft, the proverbial deficiency of one who attempts all things may be clearly seen, if not as clearly felt; nor is it impossible that one text alone might afford the study of a lifetime, and prove the pass-key to every chamber of the royal palace wherein Theology, the Queen of Sciences; holds her court. Are not some portions of Holy Writ like ingots of virgin gold, which on the anvil of the heart expand by the impact of thought, till they gild a vast expanse of theory or practice; while others resemble rather diamonds, which, when upheld in the illuminating ray of love, flash from each separate facet a light of varied hue.

And is not this text a jewel of this kind?

Gaze on it once, and there rises before you the establishment of Home as the unit of ordinary social life, and the institution of Marriage by the hands and heart of God, to be rescued, when need arose, from the wreck of Eden, and washed in the precious Blood of Christ, to be raised by Him to the dignity of a sacrament, that it might take its place as one of the columns which are [3/4] to bear up, even to the world’s end, the edifice of regenerate humanity.

Turn it—and there streams forth a ray of light which pierces the heart-core of the world’s god Self, and brands the paralyzing loneliness of selfishness as a woe, a disease, a sin. Ubiquitous, well-nigh irrepressible self, the father and the mother alike of all heresy and schism, fostered in us by such physical causes as the insular position of our land, finding its logical result in our homeborn and homebred Pelagianism, poisoning our national characteristics of self-reliance, patriotism, and pride, till they are but infectious sources of the self-righteousness of the Laodicaean, the selfishness of Cain, and the complacent isolation of the narrowest Pharisee, whose condemnation is here uttered before the birth of Eve.

Turn it again—and behold the law of production as established by the will of God. E pluribus unum, is its voice. Strive to produce from one principle of life, one source of force alone, and thou must fail. Train the mind by reason or by sentiment as the only necessary force, and no resultant will be stable, and endure. Prayer without action is superstition, as work without prayer is presumption. Calvin and Pelagius severally repudiate this law, and the same failure results from contradictory premises. “Force constructs not,” says Dr. Beale; “it is actually opposed to construction, and before anything can be built up, the tendencies of force must be overcome by formative agency or power. Unless force is first conquered, and then regulated and directed, structure will not be evolved. Force may destroy and dissipate, but it cannot build; it may disintegrate, but it cannot fashion; it may crush, but it is powerless to create.” For “force” in this extract, read freewill, and for “formative agency” read grace; and do we not find here the Catholic theology which will convince both the Pelagian and the Calvinist of their error—or rather, bring forth life by wedding the else sterile truths which lie lonely in the hearts of these two alienated systems of thought? Adopt a sole principle, and all life is thenceforth stunted, and decays. Let there be but one principle in the life of the State, and tyranny must ensue; in Society, and behold the insularity of caste; in Religion, and no result is possible but heresy, or an undue subjectivity at the best.

Or longest thou again for some communion with the unseen world? Such meditation is neither mournful, unnecessary, nor evil. God, Who heath implanted in thy breast this yearning for the things unseen, hath said, It is not good for thee to be alone; and lest thou shouldest, by the sheer necessity of this soul-thirst, fall into a dreamy pantheism, and the adoration of the vague and unsubstantial phantoms that could not satisfy the world before the advent of Him Who alone could lift the veil and [4/5] burst the barriers against which hearts of Jew and Gentile, Greek and Barbarian, beat bleeding but in vain, He hath bidden the invisible to send forth voices and reach out helping hands; and hath sent the threefold armies of the Saints, the Angels, and the Souls in Paradise, to stand by thee in thy need, with cheering witness, unsleeping ministry, truest communion, and most effectual prayer.

Or, dost thou refuse to stir from Calvary?—art thou a Passionist, and thy one book the Crucifix? Once more descends the self-same word of God to succour thee, as thou findest thy Gethsemane and thy Cross, with the assurance that in every pang that rends the heart the Man of Sorrows had a part, and that thou art not alone in the chilling mists which fringe the valley of the shadow of death, in thy shrinking from the woe of loneliness, and to bid thee note how this cup too He drained. The gold of the Cherubim, says Baylee, and of the mercy-seat, was all one mass. Every stroke which tempered and formed the one sent its ringing sound through the other. Every stroke which vibrates through our hearts moves also that of Christ. Sympathy He hath with every form of mental pain, and kuoweth well our times of loneliness, when the words of the text seem almost to incite us to a lower life and less sacrificing aims. In those hours when the heart is thrown back upon itself; when friends are far, or the necessary companionship with minds lesser or in nowise cast in the same mould makes but the loneliness more felt; when front peculiarity of character it may be, we are never understood; when in spiritual things rare access is possible to our guide, or even to any friend likeminded whose lead shall stir the bottom of our hearts;—in all these hours, when our horizon seems to contract, and the shades are closing in upon our soul,—remote, unfriended, solitary in the village home, or lost amid the uncultured earthly masses of a town—in the study or the silent walk,—then surely it avails to look down, and see the prints of wounded Feet that have gone before us into Jordan, and to find even in the fiery furnace one like to the Son of God, Who explored every corner and fathomed every abyss of this woe; Who passed through the vale of death that we might find but its shadow there; Whose cry, Sabachthani, brought back the light, and obtained for us that never should we be forsaken or alone. Outwardly alone in every step of the Passion; with none to appreciate or sympathize with His horror of sin; His one white figure standing out in high relief against the black abysses of the wrath of God; feeling the presence of the Angel of the Agony but as the lightning-flash which deepens the darkness of the night; deserted by Apostles, while kinsmen stand afar off, and of the people there are none with Him; His solitude aggravated by the presence of the heart-pierced Mother, and intensified [5/6] by the wild sea of stormy heads; and deepest, most unfathomable woe, the dereliction of the Father, actual in sense, though impossible in fact, brought on by His own will; foreknown and felt at Bethlehem, by Jordan, on Tabor, and yet forcing forth the cry of agony that thrills the world—echoless, unique, deepest revelation at once of the holiness of God and of the abyss of sin—mark thou all this, and then what words couldest thou put in the mouth of the Father that heareth always the Beloved Son, but these once uttered for all time, “It is not good that the Man, even the Man that is My Fellow, should thus be alone?” And what words for thy part canst thou dare utter, as thou art called to touch but with thy finger this suffering also of thy Lord, save those of the Apostle, “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us?”

Or do we think of His risen and ascended life in glory, circled by the adoring hosts of Heaven, yet listening ever to the yearning desire of saints at rest, who pierce the twilight of Paradise with their cry, “How long, O Lord, how long?” in which the thrills of pain and joy plead for the companionship of sympathy, which is the bond uniting both in a brotherhood of need? Still is His heart the same, still—while one soul on earth, with that wondrous power of man’s freewill by which the Lord has been pleased to limit His own omnipotence, refuses to satisfy the thirst of God—rings on from the lips of Christ that cry so plaintive and so profound, “Give me thy heart.” Thy heart, O priest, thy heart, sinner, for thou hast a love and a companionship which thou alone canst give. Not a million-worlded nebula, peopled with Seraphim established in the fixity of their will by love, could be a substitute for that peculiar, that one and only love which thou alone canst give—without which the shadow of loneliness must yet cloud that side-altar in the great temple of My heart whereat thou alone canst serve.

Or are we striving to plead that Jesus on His death-day may not be passed by, by the frivolous crowd who “know not what they do?”

Are we inviting to their Easter Communion souls whose absence will weigh more sorely on the heart of Jesus than on that of any parish priest; what words more fit than these, “The Lord God saith, It is not good that the Man—even the Man Who as the Incarnate Wisdom saith, Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled, Who as the giver of the feast sends forth His servants to bid men come, it is not good that He should be alone?”

Desire we, again, an inspiring motto for a trades union, a guild, [6/7] or even a religious house, viewed from its human side, wherein lives, else misdirected, wasted: or destroyed, shall be cheered and strengthened by man for God?—a voice which shall redeem from Self, and claim for God, that instinct of our day which strives after combination, union of similar interests, and co-operation—surely the self-same words will stand.

Turn it again and again, and ever new will be the rays into which the one great beam of truth and love resolves itself; and freshly from the heart of man will rise the cry, “O Lord, Thy commandment is exceeding broad, Thy thoughts are very deep; yet the entrance of Thy words giveth light!”

But to-day, speaking as I do to an assembly of Catholic Priests, I would rather see how the words of the text seem to lay bare the very foundations of the distinctive character of our faith, and to afford a vantage-ground of enquiry, from which we may examine how far our practice has corresponded with the idea involved in the word Catholic.

We are Catholics, for England’s Church is Catholic, though England’s self be not. Against Ultramontanism on the hand, and heresy in all the Protean forms of its fungoid growth on the other; above all, against Infidelity, whether Christianoid or AntiChristian, we wage the war of God, and uphold the faith once delivered to the saints. But this word Catholic, it is well to remember, has a twofold use. We are careful to claim it in its theological sense as our own; are we as careful to cultivate all the relations implied in what is now its secondary sense? Is there among us a narrowness of mind, a spirit of exclusion, an inability to deal tenderly with error for the sake of the co-existent truth which the eyes of love will everywhere discern? In fact, are we Catholics Catholic? The secondary sense of the word is popular with the world. We are familiar with it in the mouths of those who will profess a reverence for all faiths, by way of excuse for adopting none. It is sometimes used as a periphrasis for blindness to all but moral error. It would fain throw wide the doors of the citadel of faith under the name of our common Christianity. The word is misused, even prostituted, in the interests of a false peace: under the pretence of union it ends in the confusion of Syncretism. Yet for all this, let us not shrink from holding fast to the innate truth thus overlaid by error, nor contract the circumference of our faith and practice because others would have us stretch it beyond the bounds of its elasticity.

For what is the bound of Catholicity? what its deepest law? I answer, The law of sympathy for all the creation of God which is not overtly, entirely, and irrecoverably opposed to His will and glory. “Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto:” so speaks, grandly enough, the Humanitarian Terence. “Theologus sum, et nihil divini a me alienum puto:” answers, or rather adds, [7/8] the illustrious Döllinger. If I must put any limit to the bounds of Catholic sympathy, it must only be in those cases (if such there be) where nothing of the divine is left in man or his works. Let our enquiry, nay, our spiritual self-examination, be then, 1. Have we this Catholic sympathy for those outside the pale, not only of Catholicity, but even of Christianity? 2. Have we full Catholic sympathy for those within the pale who walk not with us—the men of Cephas, of Apollos, and of Christ? Now the deadly foe of such a Catholic spirit is that development of selfworship which we may call One-ideaism. A danger, subtle, prevalent, and real, natural and almost inevitable to those who are firmly persuaded in themselves of the truth of their own faith: an attitude almost forced upon us by the opposition, the sneer, or the persecution of the world, and the appeal made to our humility by the Korahs of the day. This one-ideaism, which contains the already impregnated germ of fanaticism, must of necessity have a narrowing and deleterious effect upon ourselves: it will begin by persuading us to forget the innumerable concentric circles of which we are the centre, and end, logically enough, by inviting us to draw but one circle, and that on the surface of our own individual garb: while, with regard to others, it will so cause us to begin upon their outside, and strike the discords of their souls by dwelling on the points of disagreement, that we but excite their dread or hate, and have surrendered all attractive power. You cannot, said Archbishop Whateley, catch birds by throwing stones at them. Or at least, we may add, such a process will but secure men as corpses, whereas the Apostolic commission is zwgrein, to catch men alive, and so to lift up Christ that all may feel that attraction, which morally, if not etymologically, is by no means synonymous with a dragging towards an object.

Scarce can we avoid controversy in such times as these; but the means, the basis, and the end of controversy need not be discordant to the mind of Christ. Difference may remain, but love may increase: although uniformity may be a chimera—neither attainable nor desirable in the sight of a God Who is a God of variety, and hath spoken and created in many ways and divers fashions—yet unity may be granted in answer to our effort and our prayer. Stand on Mars Hill, and note how the Catholic mind of St. Paul immediately and instinctively seizes on one, perhaps well-nigh the sole, point of agreement, as he commends the Athenians for being more filled with the fear of God, albeit a servile fear, than he might have supposed. (So, surely, we should interpret deisidaimonesterouV.) He who to the Jews would have preached from the law, and confirmed his words from their Scriptures, now preaches from, their altar as a text, and confirms its teaching from Aratus and Cleanthes, He appeals to the [8/9] common pulsation of the hearts of men, and not to their epidermal variance of hue. “I am here not to deny, but to affirm,” he cries; “not to convince of untruth so much as to rescue your own truth, which is also mine, from the masses of accumulated error which environ and conceal it, and to bring it out in its unadulterated simplicity, virgin beauty, and saving power.”

From Hesiod we may quote the lines

“The utterance does not wholly perish which many people utter; for this too is of God.”

Let our enquiry, too, when facing what is external to or variant from the kingdom of God among men, be not, What is the error here? but, What is the truth—the spark which must exist or this body could not live? Not, again, What is the outward deformity? but rather, What is the inward truth and beauty? The soul of man, says Liddon, does not look onward and upward only in the hope of detecting falseholds: its deepest desire is to know, not what is not, but what is. How true the Eastern parable or legend of our Lord, which tells of Him that, arriving one evening at the gates of a certain city, He sent His disciples forward to prepare supper, while He Himself, intent on doing good, walked through the streets into the market-place; and there He saw some people gathered together and looking at an object on the ground. It was a dead dog, with a halter round its neck, by which it appeared to have been dragged through the mire; a viler, a more abject, a more unclean thing never met the eyes of man. Those who stood by were gazing with abhorrence. “Faugh!” said one, stopping his nose: “it pollutes the air.” “How long,” said another, “shall this foul beast offend our sight?” “Look at its torn hide,” said a third; “one could not even cut a shoe out of it.” “And his ears,” added another, “all draggled and bleeding.” “No doubt,” said a fifth, “it has been hanged for thieving.” Jesus, hearing their words, looked down on the dead dog, and said, “Pearls are not equal to the whiteness of its teeth.” Then said they all, “Verily, this man must be that prophet of Nazareth who findeth ever some good, some beauty in everything.” Shall we with one accord begin to go out, beginning at the eldest down to the least? Is our first thought to find the beauty in all forms of thought, whether secular or religious, refusing not the possibly laborious dissection which will alone reveal that which is not open to the view? Rich guerdon even to ourselves from such a toil! What can more firmly fix in our own hearts the reasonableness as well as the truth of the Catholic faith, than the study of false or defective religions in which we recognize elements of Catholicity, gathered not by imitation or [9/10] contact, but evolved from the moral consciousness and the sense of fitness, aided (need I add?) by the inspiration of that Holy Spirit, which bloweth as it listed), and influences even where it exists not as an ordinary and indwelling power. Thoroughly to know the powers and nature of the human body, our anatomical studies must be comparative and pathological, not merely directed to the healthy and well-developed frames of man alone.

And is such study unworthy of the highest aim of man? Shall we, who send forth our Challenger and Arctic Expedition, perfect our microscopes, our telescopes, our spectroscopes, and establish our Biological and Anthropological Societies, have no powers or time to spare for learning what is in man? Shall the Buddhist monasteries and their rules, or the Mormon life, be less interesting than Papuan hair, or the convolutions of a gorilla’s brain? What society of men, what religion, however rudimentary or grotesque, will be without interest, nay, without instruction to one who yet possesses all truth in the bosom of the Church? Some facts about the sun may surely be learned from the study of the moon and stars, or even the apparent darkness of interstellary space.

The Catholic is examining his conscience by the light of the commandments; and, standing in the Pyramids of Egypt, he finds that the justified soul in the Egyptian mythology is one who can say in the Judgment to Osiris, “I have made no one weep. I have not brought evil report on any one. I have not taken in a snare the animals of the gods. I have not neglected God in my heart. I have not been indolent. I have not robbed. I have not eaten my heart (i.e., despaired). I have not told lies. I have not multiplied my words more than necessary. I have not applauded my own words.” Is there no Divine Truth, no confirmation of the faith, in this?

He passes to Ceylon, and well-nigh wonders if Buddhism be not a corruption of Catholicity, as he holds converse in their monasteries with the priesthood of that faith, who bid him continually exercise the four volitions—(1) of friendship; thus wishing, May all beings, having received the same merit as the best, receive an equal reward: (2) of compassion; May all beings be released from the four hells, and become happy: (3) of tenderness; May all retain their happiness for ages: and (4) of equity; May all beings receive the reward of their own proper merit. They remind him next, that on a priest are laid the ten obligations which forbid the taking of life; the taking that which is not given; sexual intercourse; the saying of that which is not true; the use of intoxicants; eating solid food after mid-day; attendance upon dancing, singing, music, and masques; adorning the body with flowers, and the use of perfumes and unguents; the use of seats or couches above the prescribed height; the [10/11] receiving of gold or silver. He cannot fail either to mark the place that Buddhism assumes as a teacher of the world, by its protest, in the face of darkness, for an actual indwelling Spirit. This is its innermost secret of existence, and in its proclamation is its chief mission, as is that of Mahometanism for the Unity of God and the sacredness of the outward world, and of the Hindoo for a Divine kingdom on earth.

Change we the scene, and look into some forms of religious thought which seem far enough. removed from Catholicity; and listen first to an apostle of Spiritualism” expounding the missions of that creed. “Its object is,” he says, “to demonstrate the immortality of the soul; to dispel doubts of the efficacy of prayer; to prove the continuity of existence and personal identity in the mental condition of the departed; to revive the belief in Guardian Angels; to prove that the Prince of Darkness employs innumerable agencies; to convince the world that the powers of evil will eventually be conquered by the invisible hosts of the Almighty; to revive the practice of praying for departed friends; to prove that the state of the soul after its departure into spirit life is not fixed and stationary, but a state of progressive and eternal development; to make clear that the day of death is the day of judgment.” Good, true: a protest against Protestantism and the minimizing spirit in which it deals with the unseen world and its relation to man; but wherein are these objects or ‘missions’ new to Catholicity? Could a Catholic, feeling these needs of the soul, ever have imagined that there was no supply to this demand, save one newly created, or at least revived, by man?

Or, take one of the most interesting of all bodies outside the Catholic Church—I mean the American Shakers—and note how, emerging from the barest of Protestant sects, by their mere natural craving for Catholic truth they have evolved a system which touchingly, from this point of view, parodies even the Religious Life, and in their Constitutions and practices and hymnody express many truths of Catholicity in language hard to be distinguished from that the Church has ever used. Men tell us, forsooth, that our doctrines and practice are opposed to reason! yet here we find them established, with no tradition or example, but merely from the promptings of the true soul of humanity.

Exactly the same result will follow if we take the doctrines or practices of Catholicity, one by one. So surely are they based on the needs of man, that were Catholicity, per impossibile, destroyed, we might again construct its scheme from the various bodies and creeds of the world, who each contain, or are even based on, some distinctive doctrines of the Church. Does the world deny the doctrine or refuse the offices of a Priesthood? [11/12] Mr. Harrison in his essay on Comte, shall tell us, that “without a Priesthood of some kind, call it what we will, no Christian Church could exist, neither Jew, Turk, nor Pagan community, nay indeed, neither science, literature, nor art;” and the Shaker Constitutions will decree that “all are to regard their spiritual leaders as mediators between God and their own souls.” Is Sacrifice declared repugnant to the dignity of man, or the law of love? Obscured by ignorance profaned by cruelty, parodied even by the devil, yet shall no time, no place, be found all ignorant of this means of approaching God.

Is Ritual declared unmeaning, obsolete, unnecessary, puerile? What mote significant phenomenon in this direction, than the genesis of the Irvingite body from the cold and naked bosom of Presbyterianism? or who shall advance this charge as being free from complicity in the use of externals to express internal truth? Even its adversaries must confess with Macaulay, that “doctrines must be embodied before they can excite a strong public feeling. The multitude is more easily interested for the most unmeaning badge, or the most insignificant name, than for the most important principle.” “No principle in externals?” says peter Bayne—”Can we appraise in money worth the thin pole and torn rag around which men bleed in battle?”

Confession to man (as it is called) will never be endured by the world, we are told. True, the spirit of the world will be as opposed to this practice, as are the flesh and the devil; but the voice of humanity will demand and adopt what is based on one of the most national and universal impulses of man. “Men went to confession,” says Voltaire, “when they had to, celebrate the mysteries of Bacchus, Venus, and Adonis.” The minister of Eleusis was the confessor of Marcus Aurelius. In Thibet, the Lhamas four times a week  assemble to hear the explanation of their rule; and on these occasions the Grand Lhama, before entering the assembly, makes his confession to him whom he has entrusted with the direction of his conscience; and then, having entered the temple, recommends every one of his monks to go to confession. One of the five classes of Persian priests are set apart as licensed confessors by their Upper House of Convocation, a practice which neither they nor the nations before mentioned can be supposed to have borrowed from Judaism or from Christianity. No one that has ever made an apology can deny the benefit of auricular confession, though he may not express its peculiar advantages so clearly as do the Shakers, in words that deserve to be quoted at length, when a dignitary, popularly regarded as a theologian, has ventured to assert that “the penitent finds it far easier to unburden his soul to the priest, than to seek, day and night, with broken spirit, for pardon from God.” Far more truly do they, by the mere light of unprejudiced nature, [12/13] declare, in words that might occur in Augustine or Aquinas, “as all the secret actions of then are open and known to God therefore a confession made in secret, though professedly made to God, can bring nothing to light, and the sinner may perhaps have as little fear of God in confessing his sins in this manner as he had in committing them. And as nothing is brought to light by confessing his sins in this manner, he feels no cross in it; nor does he thereby find any mortification to that carnal nature which first led him into sin; and is therefore liable again to run into the same acts of sin as be was before his confession. But let the sinner appear in the presence of a faithful servant of Christ, and there confess honestly his every secret sin; one by one, of whatever nature and name, and faithfully lay open his whole life; without any covering or disguise, and he will then feel a humiliating sense of himself in the presence of God, in a manner which he never experienced before, He will then, in very deed, find a mortifying cross to his carnal nature, and feel the crucifixion of his lust and pride where he never did before. He will then perceive the essential difference between confessing his sins in the dark, where no mortal ear can hear him, and actually bringing his evil deeds to the light of one individual child of God; and he will then be convinced that a confession made in the light of God before one of His true witnesses can bring upon him a more awful sense of his accountability both to God and man, than all his confessions in the darkness had ever done.”

It is not then good for man, by living alone, to deprive himself of the confirmation of his faith which the presence of truth in unsuspected places will bring: not good for him to treat as alien to the faith any body wherein he may find the spark of truth which must connote a yearning and a receptivity for more.

Not good, again, that he should live alone in the presence of those forms of Christianity so easy to deride, to refute, to persecute, to ban, who yet in their starlit working shame the product of his clearer light. Not good that the priest should pass his brother by, even if he were a Samaritan. Not thus will Dissent be won. Study them, love them, respect them, seize joyfully the opportunity of some common work—aye, make the opportunity, even by the surrender of some fancied dignity we prize; above all, confess to them the faults which in the mother provoked the child to wrath. Very humbly surely must we deal with Dissent and error, when we needs must know how few the sins of schism which lie not at the door of the Catholic Church in England. I need hardly recal as instances to your minds how once she depressed the rights of the priesthood in a subservient truckling to those priests who are called Episcopi, as differing in function and rank, but not in essence, from their [13/14] brethren of the priesthood, and thereby caused the logical result of Presbyterianism. At another period, again, she ignored the rights of the royal priesthood of the laity; and the natural consequence was the Independent sect. At another, she practically blotted from the Creed the doctrine of the Communion of Saints; and we wonder not that Spiritualism arose. She depreciated asceticism, and thus produced a grotesque brood of those who deny in various ways that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” The Religious Life was well-nigh forgotten; and Shakerism and the cognate institutions arose, to remedy the defect, and to supply the need with a parody of the truth. The Church feared to proclaim the truth of any purgative process in the intermediate state, and thus opened the road to Universalism, which prostitutes God’s justice by wav of exalting His mercy, and opens a new road to heaven through hell. Professing all Apostolic doctrine and practice, she yet discontinued the Unction of the Sick; and to this we are indebted for the Peculiar People. Or, to use a generalization, she forgot that reason and sentiment are the two wings by which the soul must mount on high; and that the exclusive use of either equally cripples human nature, and thus we see the parallel though contradictory schemes of Rationalism and Revivalism. Few will hesitate to admit that our branch of the Catholic Church had at no long-past time an undue reverence for stiffness, reason, and decorum, a contempt for enthusiasm, a canonization of Oxford tone in preaching, a denial of the vitality, albeit inferior, of any body outside her bound. The doctrine of Conversion was tabooed, and its name never heard, except perhaps once a year, on the feast of St. Paul, when all the ingenuity, and none of the ingenuousness, of the Anglican was used to prove what conversion did not mean. The Church froze out the Wesleyan evangelists, and painfully are we recovering, by our missions, rules of life, and confessions, the ground then lost.

Nay, we must even ask ourselves, are we blameless with regard to Infidelity? Read the works, listen to the utterances of its chiefs, and we cannot fail to see how their attitude is but a recoil from Calvinism. They admit it; but they imagine that Calvinism is the doctrine of the Church. Whose fault is this? Had we or our fathers been true to the teaching of the Church, how could this awful error have been born? But their attitude is not merely negative. They have a mission positive enough, to wit, the proclamation of a kingdom of righteousness in this world, warmed by the enthusiasm of humanity. “Terrible it is to me,” says a dear friend of mine, who devotes much time and thought and zeal to preaching a truer gospel in the very homes and pulpits of Secularism: “terrible, that there should be men [14/15] like the Positivists, who, professing and showing great zeal for humanity, and believing in the necessity of outward worship, are yet opposed to the Church of the Perfect Man Christ Jesus. Or that our Secularists, teaching that this world demands and will repay our utmost care and attention, should think that they are by so doing Anti-Christian, and know not of the Church as the City of God, set up on earth to save men here, as well as elsewhere and hereafter. That men should be able, even professedly, to throw over Christ out of their zeal for men, argues a dreadful amount of misrepresentation of the character of Christ.”

Not however that their attitude is due to, and almost forced upon them, by one body of erroneous teachers, for you have but to purchase at their halls two pamphlets by Roman authors, which they eagerly sell as representing Christian doctrine, to see how the awful teaching and pictorial representations of a merely material Hell have caused a shuddering and not unnatural revulsion from the body which they imagine to be committed to such a gospel. In proportion to our brave upholding of the Catholic faith in love and truth, with fewer anathemas and more invitations, without addition, subtraction, or economical reserve, will these be won to our side, and bring their vigour and wide sympathy to refresh those fibres of our soul and mind which isolation in spiritual luxury may have enervated even to the verge of atrophy.

But let us now come nearer home, and passing from systems of thought external to the Church, enquire again how we apply the law of Catholic sympathy to the schools of thought within the Church. So far as we belong to a party, so far have we departed from the centre of Catholicity. We pray for unity with a promise of success, but uniformity is nowhere set before us as our aim. The Gospel is one, it is true, but fourfold still. Each gospel has its own psychological characteristic, which appeals to and thereby justifies the existence of a separate school of thought. To the man of the past, of the present, of the future, and to him who lives, so to speak, in his own interior being, the fourfold gospel has a separate voice. Truth in the school of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of Christ; teaching for the traditional Semitic, for the practical Roman, for the progressive German race, for the mystic of every time and race: so surely speak the Evangelists of God. Shall St. Matthew condemn St. John? Shall St. Mark and St. Luke have no mutual sympathy in their varying modes of thought? Shall the Catholic Church belie its glorious name, and contract its bounds by elimination, till it becomes but a sect, Ultramontane or Cismarine, that cannot be the teacher of a world, and is occupied alone in forbidding those who tread not with mathematical precision and monotonous rhythm in the footsteps of one man or one coterie alone?

[16] We Catholics in the Church of England are not and never will be the Church. To avoid the appearance of a truism in this, I would add, God forbid that this should be the case! We have our differentia, and that we shall retain. Others have their differentia as well, and we care not—nay, we rejoice in the diversity, while the genus remains intact. Pursue the labour of distinction, and what must inevitably ensue but that the genus falls apart into a cloud of individuals with no common life or love, and precisely that state is caused of which the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Men speak of parties in the Church. Why not? High, Low, and Broad, these must remain as facts, even if the names be set aside, for there is a separate soul to each that will ever retain its individuality and character. As in the nature of our Lord the Unity of Person implies not the confusion of substance, so surely in His Mystical Body must we not even desire to attain unity by confounding the instincts, the modes of thought, the ways of seeking truth—in many portions, in divers manners, with various powers and distributions of the Holy Spirit, according to His Own Will created and implanted by the hand of a Trinity Who yet is One.

One was the river that watered Eden, but parted into four separate streams. One is the Gospel, but fourfold still. Nay, may we not dare to add, One is our Blessed Lord, but under three names upheld for our imitation, reverence, and adoration, as Christ, as Jesus, as Immanuel. The Eternal, the Independent existence of God, His Essential Life in au absolute present, was the only revelation given by the name I AM to the church which was not to be Catholic: but now this revelation is developed and expanded in the Person and in the Names of His Incarnate Son. Christ is He for the world yet unconverted and untransformed. Jesus is the naive whereby the world’s conversion shall be wrought. As Immanuel, the ever-present and indwelling God, does He transform the world. Three truths, three aspects of a Person Who yet is one. Shall we be only Christians, only Jesuits, only Immanuelites? or in the Catholic faith unite them all? High, Low, and Broad, contain they not verities based on these three names, only to be reprehended when they arrogate severally to themselves the sole knowledge of the Name of God, and thereby deny the unity that should bind together this trinity of view?

Many of us, my brethren, may have borne these three names in turn. But Christians were we once, with an intellectual knowledge of a history and a life, till by His mercy we saw the dazzling light, and heard and knew the Lord as Jesus, as the personal Saviour of our souls. There perchance we remained [17/18] long time, till in our Damascus we found our Ananias, who told us of Immanuel, a God Whose Sacramental Life and operation was as real and as present as any other condition of his Eternal Existence. Then fell the scales from our eyes, and in that faith we live, and move, and have our being.

As a Catholic I may be bound (as I am fain) to press closest to my heart the name Immanuel, and that doctrine of His Sacramental Presence whereby the Incarnation is extended and applied alike to the body and soul of man; but never let me deny the truths that underlie the other names of the Son of God. My mission may be to preach Immanuel when I dwell at all on the diversity and not the unity of His nature, His office, and His life; but yet let me rejoice that others find their chief mission in the proclamation of the life of the Perfect Man as the approachable pattern and energizing motive of humanity; while others again have the Atonement as their central thought, and live in a ruby cloud which tinges all things with the Precious Blood.

Do we thus think, and speak, and act? Number our Low Church and our Broad Church friends. (Alas for Catholics, that there should be any excuse for giving the glorious title ‘Broad’ to any but themselves!) How much do we strive to understand their inmost heart? Are we not verily guilty concerning our brother, when, in the isolation of a self-satisfied heart, we care not to find our friends save among those who do but reflect ourselves? Far truer Catholics should we be, if we knew and loved more men who walk not pari passu by our side. Our zeal, our love, the outlook of our mind, would surely grow in depth as well as width, by contact with the same virtues and powers in those who are not cast in the same mould. Need we no restraint again, no corrective to the very truths which seem distinctive of our mode of thought, that so the balance and analogy of faith may be maintained? Deep is the wisdom of the words of the Persian sage, “If thou art a Mussulman, go stay with the Franks; if a Christian, join the Jews; if a Shiah, mix with the schismatics: whatever thy religion, associate with men of opposite persuasion.”

If I have seemed to look alone, though not despondently, upon diversities and isolation, let me now praise the Lord of Unity for the growing desire for true brotherhood that is the most hopeful symptom of our day. The surface waves of persecution may be loud and fierce, but in the heart of the ocean of humanity there is a widening calm that answers to the unruffled heaven above. The battle comes, but it is not one in which every man’s hand will be against his fellow. Daily are men leaving the hundred camps, that they may band together in one of the two armies, beneath the standards of Lucifer or God. Fiercer, it is true, will [17/18] wax the strife between Christ and Anti-Christ: wilder, more subtle, more envenomed, the onslaught of the powers of Evil, as they know their death draws nigh; yet in the sky we read the words, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” If nought but battle against the very heart of the Faith can drive in our outposts, and make men stand side by side against a common foe, then let the earth be shaken, let that battle come. Send round the pass-word, “Maranatha! the Lord is at hand.” Already there is a “sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees;” the echoes of God’s chariots and the booming of the waves of eternity stir our sloth. There are wars and rumours of wars, perplexity and fearful failing among men, but by our love to Humanity let us assure ourselves of our love to Him Whom, having not seen, yet we love. Let variance cease, and Ephraim and Judah vex no longer, and bid a truce to envy of their kin. While cowards fall away, and traitors sell their faith, let brave men link their arms and hearts, and, under the one Captain of the Host and His banner of love, forget distinction of brigade in the unbroken unity that marks the army of the Lord.

The nearer grows that Day, the more is it not good that man should be alone. Oh, brethren, let us on our knees before this throne of grace confess the failings of the past, and humbly pray that we may go forth, more dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, the love of love; more resolutely repressing the crotchet, the party spirit, the suspicion, and the strife; with the olive-branch, and not the branding-iron in our hands; dictating not to God how He should work in the hearts of men, nor contracting our home the Church, till it assumes the dimensions and fulfils the office of a coffin for the un-Catholic and narrow heart that has died by pride to love. Wrench off that bar, break down that fence, throw far away that private key, plane out that groove, bridge that gulf, keep open house, prepare the feast, and, in the Name of God, Go forth, seeking out where erst we have shunned, and blessing where we have cursed, more full of reverence and, sympathy and love for all,—for

“THE LORD GOD SAID, IT IS NOT GOOD THAT MAN SHOULD BE ALONE.”

 


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