The Church: One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic
By Chauncey B. Brewster
From The Fundamentals of Christian Unity, being the Washington Churchman’s League Lectures for MCMII.
No place: “The Church Militant,” 1902.
OUR subject is an article of the Christian faith. As such, it takes us into the invisible things of God. Faith is concerned with "things not seen." The Church is invisible as regards its unseen Head, the ascended Lord, and its true life which is His Spirit; invisible as regards those of its members who have been removed from earthly sight; invisible so far as it is yet an ideal far from actual realization, "a glorious Church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
The Church in some respects invisible is, however, also visible. There is the inward which is not seen. There is also the outward which is seen. Between the inward and the outward there is a distinction, but there is no necessary opposition. Throughout God's world must be recognized inward and outward together and without contradiction. Spirit takes to itself form. The human spirit is so far as we know it here, or shall know it hereafter, clothed in a body. "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." Body without spirit is a corpse; spirit without body a ghost. Spirit gives life to body; body gives manifestation to spirit. In the supreme revelation the Word was made flesh. The [103/104] Church, which is to be for men the extension of that Incarnation, must be, like man, and like the God-man, not spirit alone but also body, and, as body, visible.
The phrase "invisible Church" [ According to Dr. Archibald Robertson, "Regnum Del," pp. 178-187, 201, the idea of an invisible Church may be traced to St. Augustine.] is sometimes used to denote an inner Church the members whereof are known only to God. This some writers [ e. g. Père Gratry, "La Philosophie Du Credo," Paris 1864, pp. 176, 177.] call the soul of the Church. But the soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost. Such a doctrine of the invisible Church is not justified by Scripture or by primitive Christian writings. The Creed voices a true instinct. I believe in the Holy Ghost, and then I believe in that manifest expression of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Church, with its inward life but its outward tokens and membership.
That the life manifested in Christ should not pass with His bodily presence from the earth but abide here in potency, it was necessary that men should be its instruments, and that they should be, for perpetuity of influence, organized in a society. Such a society must be visible. Its purposes were spiritual. But, heavenly though its Godward side might be, none the less for its membership it laid hold of men here on the earth. [ Hort. "The Christian Ecclesia," 148, 149.] The ideal is not yet realized. The Church here on earth is far from being the perfect realization of the Kingdom of God. [104/105] but it is the Kingdom of God "in the making." [ Robertson, "Regnum Dei," pp. 75, 76, 358-361.] That divine ideal in process of realization is found in a visible Church with its outward sacramental signs of the inward and spiritual. "Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."
It is important to remember that Christianity was not a philosophy only. The idea was embodied in an institution. That institution was social. Christ came not to save men as single individuals, but to gather all men into one. Nor did He come merely to hide in the world a secret leaven of social principles. The principle of brotherhood must have outward shape in historic fact. The social obligation involved a society. The Son of God founded a society of the sons and daughters of God. That society was no mere loose aggregation of individuals according to the theory which would make Jerusalem an heap of stones. It was "as a city that is compact together". It was as a structure compactly built upon a foundation. "I will build my Church." It was, again, in its successive stages of realization historic. It was not a transitory "movement". It was a body, and the body had in itself a life that was unfolded after its kind in human history.
As the life of the Church historically, unfolds itself, we find it claiming and more or less fully manifesting certain characteristics which are summed up as the ancient Creeds describe the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. [105/106] These marks or notes are characteristic of the Church's life. They are not merely descriptive of something circumstantial and superficial. As a matter of fact they do not lie upon the surface. They are deeply essential attributes. As such, they are cognate with each other. The notes of the Church are not like a steamer's watertight compartments that may be shut off from each other. They are closely connected. Indeed, they are marks or aspects of a common life, and that which is truly Apostolic must be able also to lay valid claim to unity, holiness, and Catholicity.
I. The Church of Christ is one. He was the founder not of churches but of "My Church." In the writings of His Apostles the "churches" are in different provinces and cities, local branches of a common stock. In any particular place there was only the one church, embracing all the flock in that community. The church was one by reason of its origin, its worship, its common faith and hope and love.
Moreover, the Church was one because its life was one. It was the mystical body of Him who was incarnate in order that He might incorporate men in vital connection with Himself. The Church was more than an organization; it was an organism. An organism has a unity which is not that of the parts put together in a machine but which is a vital relation. An organism is a whole whose parts are related through one living principle. That principle is the life that builds up the whole body and each [106/107] particular part, living in each part and making each organ an instrument in the development of the whole. So the Church of Christ lives by the life He gave. And such organic unity belongs essentially to "the Church which is His Body." The divine life of the organism is the principle of unity. The Church's unity is the unity of the Spirit of life. There is one Body because there is one Spirit. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body."
Time forbids us to dwell here upon the theory which, satisfied with an invisible and spiritual unity, ignores the one Body; and on the other hand upon the exaggeration of external unity in a Church which is a continuation of the Roman Empire, and which, substituting for the unity of a common life governmental consolidation under a central and external authority, in that measure ignores the one Spirit.
By schisms in the Body, communion between the parts has been sadly interrupted. But within the divine organism there may be interruption of inter-communion without a real disruption of the organic unity. So long as the sacraments are rightly and duly ministered and the one divine life flows forth from Christ to visit all the parts, their lack of perfect agreement with each other may be functional disturbance and not organic disease. Unity is not destroyed while all cherish the divine object of worship, the common faith, the sacraments of unity, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." [ Eph. iv, 5, 6.]
 That Apostolic appeal for unity, however, continues: "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." There still abides a transcendent ideal of unity through that same Holy Spirit. The Church ought to exhibit a oneness in manifoldness which should be an earthly analogue of the unity of God, that communion and fellowship of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Spirit of life and love. That divine pattern of unity our Saviour beheld as He prayed, in His great High-Priestly prayer: "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: * * * that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one."
II. "Holy Church" was the language of the old Roman Symbol in the fourth century, and in this form the Article may be traced back at any rate to the early part of the third century. The first meaning of "holy" was separated, set apart and consecrated. Holy Church was a sacred institution belonging to God, not to man. It was not a voluntary association, but a divine institution, the members of which had been called by God and set apart to be His own elect people. So St. Peter calls them "a holy priesthood" and "a holy nation". [ S. Peter, ii: 5, 9.] That idea of hallowing soon adds to itself the deeper significance of spiritual consecration.
This Article of the Creed may have been [108/109] crystallized in the heated controversies of the third century about pardon. It was at first immediately followed by "The forgiveness of sins." St. Cyprian employs the language "remission of sins through holy Church ". [ Ep. 1xix 2.] Thus it is holy Church as possessing the means of grace.
The Church's holiness is grounded upon the same principle as her unity, namely, the indwelling life. The ancient Creed ran: "And in Holy Spirit, Holy Church." I believe in holy Church because I believe in Holy Spirit. Therein the body has its animating soul. The Church is holy "according to the Spirit of holiness." She holds to holy faith and holy sacraments and the great purpose to make men holy. That purpose were defeated if none except the already holy might be admitted to or retained in her membership. The Church is the school of holiness. The school must admit the unlearned and the unruly, and include scholars in various stages of attainment. We speak of an institution of learning or of a learned university because it is a school devoted to learning, although many who belong to it may be unlearned. In like manner we speak of holy Church. It is an institution devoted to holiness. All its members are called to be holy. And the divine ideal and aim is "that it should be holy and without blemish."
III. "And in one Holy Catholic Church." So ran the Article as given by St. Cyril of Jerusalem in [109/110] his Catechetical Lectures [ xviii, 22.] before the middle of the fourth century. "Catholic" is in many creeds in yet earlier times. The Church is catholic, that is, universal, by the same Spirit. The Holy Ghost makes the Holy Catholic Church. God breathed into a body of men the Spirit of life, and men became a living Church. On that Pentecostal birthday of the Church the Eternal Spirit came anew in universality of mission for a pouring forth upon all flesh.
"Catholic" implies more than world-wide extension. St. Cyril, in the lecture just referred to, goes on to explain the title as meaning not only extension over all the earth but also comprehensiveness in doctrine and universality of application. It was because she carried the Holy Spirit of universality and therefore was in purpose and essential character universal that the Church spread everywhere. That external sense of the word, Catholic, was naturally seized upon by the practical Latins and made much of in later polemics. But at the first there was this inner significance. It is not mere tautology when the account of Polycarp's martyrdom tells how he prayed for the Catholic Church throughout the world." [ 2 Cap. viii.] There was from the first in the title some premonition of a profound significance that was universal. She was the Church throughout the world because she was catholic, with a meaning for all the world, a message and a purpose for all men. Where the [110/111] title first appears, in an epistle of St. Ignatius, [ Ad Smyrn. Shorter version, viii.] the passage reads: "Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Jesus Christ, if lifted up, was to draw all men unto him. His Church was designed to be: all men drawn unto him. She is the Catholic Church because holding forth the Catholic gospel for "all men."
As she is the Church for all places, so also she is the Church for all times, the Church for all the generations, because of that everlasting Gospel, the truth that endureth from generation to generation. She is the Catholic Church because she has Catholic truth, truth in its entirety. This she has in having the Spirit of truth. "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth." [ S. John xvi. 13.] It is not that the Church explicitly confesses each and every point of the vast circumference of all truth. But implicitly she holds the whole truth. The faith once for all delivered she holds as a vast inheritance to be entered upon and developed, as the Spirit guides into all the truth.
There is a legitimate development of Catholic truth. That development has consisted, as for example in the development of the Catholic creeds, in the explicit statement of that which had before been implicitly held. The decisions of the General Councils receive their ratification in the general consent of the whole Church. And the test, at each stage of the process of development, is the rule of [111/112] St. Vincent of Lerins: "That we hold that Faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all." [ Commonit. Cap. ii.] While opposing novelties, he concedes a true development, a progressive increase "in its own kind." [ Ibid, Cap. xxiii.] And it is to be tested by universality, antiquity, general consent.
IV. The Spirit-bearing Church is Apostolic by reason of authoritative and unfailing mission. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." [ S. John xx: 21.] The institution of the Church was potentially in the institution of the Apostolate. Apostle means one sent forth. "And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that he might send them forth." "Whom also He named Apostles." [ S. Mark iii, 14; cf. St. Luke vi: 13.] On the eve of His ascension they were sent forth on a universal mission, "unto the uttermost parts of the earth." [ Acts i: 8] And to the eleven had been given the Church's charter and a commission which was to be perpetual: "Disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." [ S. Matthew xxviii, 19 : 20.]
 It is because of that Apostolic mission, universal, perpetual, that the Church is Apostolic. It is the whole Body which is Apostolic. Within the body are distinctions of function but not of caste. The whole Church is a royal priesthood, wherein every member has share by virtue of his vocation and ministry. The orders of the Apostolic Ministry were only organs, mouthpieces and instruments, of the Apostolic Body.
It was none the less a body, an organism. And for the discharge of its various functions it must have organs. They are essential to its completeness; essential, moreover, to its life. The Body of Christ has perpetuated its life in accordance with the organic law of its being. From the Apostles' time the Society has maintained its continuity, its structural identity, and its fellowship with the Apostles, through men who succeeded the Apostles. "Apostolic Succession" has been to many needlessly offensive. It is a fact writ large in history that certain functions that had been discharged by Apostles devolved upon other chief pastors in succession from them. The historic fact has the vital importance of a principle that concerns the development and reproduction of the Church's organic life. It gives the Church visible and continuous Apostolicity.
Here, then, is divine provision for human fellowship in all times and places. For the individual man, no one need be in the isolation of spiritual exile, a man [113/114] without a country, but may be a fellow-citizen with the saints. For society, there is one commonwealth of man with the organized power of brotherhood to regenerate the world. Godward, there is the great household for all the children of the one God and Father of all.
Turning to actual conditions we see another picture: schisms widening for centuries, many bodies of various names, forces bearing the same banner clashing in collision, estrangement, bitterness, and strife. But beyond the foreground with its lines of division there are vistas. We may look away to where there is shadow but also light. It is the light from afar of the holy city, having the glory of God, and its distant brightness is like unto a stone most precious, clear as crystal. The flash of that diamond lustre Christian eyes have ever and again caught. Christian hearts have dreamed of a city of God that should be more than a heavenly vision. "Coming down out of heaven," it was destined for this earth. Always above the horizon has hovered the persistent ideal of a city of God, a commonwealth of His people, which should be an earthly realization of the one kingdom of the God and Father of all, the Holy Catholic Church. In the Apostles' Creed the single word "Catholic" may be taken as embracing also the ideas of unity and Apostolicity that found expression in the later statement of the faith. And this glorious ideal of the ages may be briefly described as the Catholic ideal.
 Over against this ideal there is what, with no opprobrious reference, we may call the sect-idea. It may be worthwhile to note the radical contrast between the two principles: catholicity and sectarianism. Only let us enter upon the comparison with no feeling toward our fellow Christians save a large charity, and in all humility, remembering that the sectarian spirit is to be found among our own people and that many brethren of other names have hearts filled with the Catholic yearning. It is not persons but principles we are now to compare. The Catholic ideal is incompatible with any small ideas of Christianity. It was in recognition of this that Hooker pronounced denial of the Catholic Church a fundamental heresy, equivalent to saying that Jesus is not the Saviour of the world. [ Serm. Ii, 32.] Certainly the Catholic ideal is every way larger and more inclusive.
(1) In the Catholic Church there might be many branches with manifold variations but only one stock. The sect is a section separated from the whole.
(2) The Catholic conception of the Church is of an organism. Instead thereof has been substituted the principle of organization.
(3) The Catholic Church is an organism, a living body, whereof the members are all the baptized. The sect is an organization with inevitable limitation as to membership.
(4)  The sect looks to men as masters and leaders. On the other hand St. Vincent of Lerins in stating the notes of a Catholic warns against the genius and eloquence of individual leaders. [ Commonit. xx.]
(5) The sect is, historically, founded in human leadership; whereas the Catholic Church has a charter of higher than human authority. [ S. Matt. xxviii: 18-20.]
(6) In sectarianism may be traced an exaggeration of individualism, of the subjective element in religion. As Maurice said: "The sect chooses Christ." But Christ said "I have chosen you." The Church is chosen, the called, the elect.
(7) The sect is built up by voluntary association, and a man joins his church as he joins his political party. The Catholic conception is that by baptism one is born into a commonwealth.
(8) The sect is the association of those who agree in thinking alike upon subjects deemed of sacred importance. The Catholic conception is that the Church is not an association of those who share the same opinions but a family of those who by birth inherit a common life, many men of many minds differing it may be widely but notwithstanding differences of opinion still brethren of one household of faith.
(9) Sectarianism is based upon distinctions, and usually negations, which cause men to separate. Catholicity is based upon affirmations uniting men in spite of differences.
(10)  The sect holds its measure of truth. But it is a segment cut out from the whole circumference. The true Catholic conception includes recognition of the largeness and the mystery of all truth. Truth is not a private pond nor a walled-in reservoir. It is an ocean vast and deep. We are like children on the shore. Yet men have parcelled out and partitioned that narrow strand, and called the lands after their own names, and we hear of Hicksites, Campbellites, Wesleyans, and Lutherans. Once it was enough for the disciples to be called Christians. If more is needed, then mine be the words of St. Pacian: "Christian is my name, Catholic my surname." [ Ep. i, ad Sympronianum.]
(11) The origin of the sect has doubtless been in protest for some neglected truth. But its separation upon some narrow issue has tended to the partial and defective, to exaggeration of special tendencies and to a certain isolation and provincialism. On the other hand is the ideal of Catholicity comporting with the largeness and the fullness of the Kingdom of God. In its wide inclusiveness there is room for freedom; while the exclusiveness which began in individualism has, through magnifying of the particular tenet and insistence on the shibboleth, at length threatened individual freedom of thought and conduct and sometimes resulted in a sect-tyranny grievous to be borne.
(12) It should be observed that to-day sectarianism is largely worn away to mere denominationalism; [117/118] that is, a matter of names. But there remains division with its manifest evils: a broken front against the enemy, competition and an incalculable waste of power, confusion of tongues, a not unnatural but deplorable weariness of dogmatic teaching, and a widespread doubt of what is truth.
Meanwhile there is the ideal. The oneness of all in Christ Jesus is involved in His revelation as an essential part of His truth. Fellowship with the Father includes the fellowship of Christian brotherhood. It is an encouragement to remember the reality of spiritual unity. All who participate in Christ as their life are one in Him.
But this spiritual oneness is not to remain a hidden secret. It must have outward manifestation. The visible Church, for the sake of its divinely purposed meaning, must have a unity that shall be visible. Our Lord prayed for a oneness that might have the evidential power of things seen: "That they may all be one * * * that the world may believe." The restoration of visible unity has been called "an iridescent dream." If it be so, it is one of those dreams foretold to be dreamed in the days of the Spirit, and it is iridescent with the rainbow hues of a glorious hope. It is a vision of faith to the uplift and the outlook whereof we are bidden as often as we say or sing: "And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Surely it behoves all who profess and call themselves Christians to cherish in this regard not scepticism [118/119] but faith. We ought to pray for unity because for it our Lord in that supreme hour prayed. We shall pray, confessing the shortcoming wherein we have shared, in the expectance which should accompany prayer, yet in the patience which bides God's time and in the humility which seeks not the triumph of our schemes but that unity which is agreeable to His will. We shall cherish a genuine brotherly love which shall manifest itself in mutual respect and courtesy, not call names or make the most of differences, but seek to understand one another's position, keep to central and essential things, and trust beneath differences to find a deeper and more fundamental agreement among all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
So much for the Christian's attitude. What now of the immediate outlook? Electricity and the march of events are bringing men together. It is an age of national and imperial unification and of international approaches. Men's minds are turned to great unities of thought, of political and commercial, of social, and of religious life. Parts of Christendom separated by distance and division have been thrilled by common currents of Catholic thought. Many influences here conspire. Theological systems that have been towers of Babel for confusion of speech are crumbling. Studies in Christian history draw men toward primitive ground that antedated separation. Larger interpretations of Scripture, concentration of attention upon the person of Christ, increasing perception that it is the [119/120] true purpose of Christianity not to divide men by denials but to unite them in affirmations and build them up together in faith, the social trend of present-day activity, the practical experience of the ills of division in Christian work; all this has tended to beget enhanced appreciation of corporate Christianity and a general desire for unity, and to create an atmosphere more favorable to it than for some centuries past.
Coming now to the question of purpose and aim, let us note the distinction between unity and union. Unity means oneness; union is the binding together of things that are not one. Men speak of the union of Christians: and it often means merely bringing them together as so many sticks in a cord of wood. Our Lord spoke of the branches abiding in the vine and of a like oneness of Christians in Him. Union is outward, accidental and circumstantial. Unity is inward and essential. Union is mechanical; it is put together. Unity is vital; it is the oneness of a common life wherein the parts grow together.
The endeavor after Christian union may achieve Alliances and Federations. And still is perpetuated actual separation. At best you have different bodies confederated together. It is a distinguished Congregationalist who says: "A confederation of sects wears no seamless robe; its proper drapery is a crazy quilt." [ Dr. Leonard Woolsey Bacon, Irenics and Polemics, p. 297.] Certainly such a confederacy falls short of unity, which might find illustration in these [120/121] United States together forming in actual fact one Nation forever inseparable.
The unity of the Church means the organic and vital unity of many parts, members, and organs in one body. Christian unity in fullness of realization would mean that various Christian organizations should merge in one divine organism so that Christ's Church might be indeed His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
The unity of an organism is a oneness in manifoldness, a unity in diversity. The several parts are developed each in a freedom of action which only the more fully ministers to the rich life of the whole. So above all must it be in that Body the members whereof are persons. The truest life of the whole is best served by the free development and untrammeled personal life of the members. Its unity is to be distinguished, as we have seen, from the union which is a vain attempt to ignore differences. On the other hand, it is to be distinguished from the uniformity where tyranny would suppress differences and reduce all to the peace of Chinese monotony or of death. It is a unity living and free. There are differences of function and of administration, differences in opinion and in mode of worship. But these are made concordant because taken up into the large harmony of the whole in the one key of a common faith and a common life.
It was with purpose looking toward such a unity, comprehensive of differences, that there was put [121/122] forth the Declaration of English and American Bishops which has furnished the subject of these lectures. In this Declaration, as first put forth at Chicago, let me ask you to note the recognition of all who have been duly baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost as members of the Holy Catholic Church. Let me also ask you to note "that this Church does not seek to absorb other communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common faith and order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world." It is not sought that all these other Christians shall become Protestant Episcopalians. It is not the idea that they shall be merged in us, but rather with us merged in that great Body of the future which shall be larger and richer and nobler far than any particular Church of to-day. "Who can count the dust of Jacob or the number of the fourth part of Israel!" Furthermore, the Bishops affirm certain principles which they "believe to be the substantial deposit of faith and order committed by Christ and His Apostles to the Church" and "essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom." Finally, they declare a desire and readiness "to enter into brotherly conference with all or any Christian Bodies seeking the restoration of the organic Unity of the Church, with a view to the earnest study of the conditions under which so [122/123] priceless a blessing might happily be brought to pass."
Respecting the source of this invitation to brotherly conference there is this to be said: Among Christian bodies the Anglican Communion is unique in the fact that it contains within itself the widest divergencies of theological and ecclesiastical opinion and of ritual without break or parting asunder. There is difference and there is sharp debate, but there is no split. There is thus afforded an example of the kind of unity which might prevail among all Christians. This Church presents this example because of her unique inheritance of catholicity and liberty. Her inheritance also endows her with singular advantage and opportunity. More than a century ago an acute Roman Catholic, who had enjoyed an unusual experience of and acquaintance with ecclesiastical affairs in Italy, France, and Russia, wrote the often-quoted passage: "If ever Christians come together in that unity to which everything calls them, it would seem that the moving impulse must start from the Church of England. * * * The Anglican Church, which touches us on the one hand, on the other touches those whom we cannot touch; * * * and may be considered as one of those chemical intermediaries able to combine elements otherwise irreconcilable." (Comme un de ces intermedes chimiques, capable de rapprocher des elements inassociables de leur nature.) [ Count Joseph De Maistre, "Considerations sur la France," Paris, 1821, p. 32 (first published in 1796)] The truth of his [123/124] observation is more evident now than when he wrote. So she stands, claiming her place among the ancient historic churches, yet the home of a large liberty and in touch with the great Evangelical Communions, the Church at once Catholic and free.
Granting that each of the now severed parts of Christendom has somewhat to contribute toward the full completeness of a re-united Church, what has this old Anglo-Saxon Church of England and of America to offer, which our Protestant brethren might find it worth their while to consider? First, this church has cherished the Catholic ideal. Second, for the realization of this ideal of one divine organism she offers the structural principle.
Unity is not likely to come through agreement in theological doctrine. There are no signs that Christians will in the future all think just alike if indeed they ever did in the past. The unity we may hope for is a vital and human unity centering in living personality. So at the first in the Apostles all the congregations found a center of unity. Such a center may still be found, if the Church of the future is to perpetuate historic Christianity, in the historic Episcopate locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church. That means not lord bishops, not bishops necessarily over immense dioceses. It means simply chief pastors shall who serve singly as symbols of local unity and together make the Church one flock under Him who is Shepherd and Bishop of all souls. [124/125] Here is a polity not of unity for government but of government for unity. It supplies for the organism a back-bone of historic continuity. A simple yet efficient bond of oneness with the Church throughout the world and the Church of all the past, it secures a visible, vital, organic unity which is able to tolerate wide differences and thus to exemplify the Christian liberty of a large diversity in essential oneness.
Secondly, we may hope for unity as it shall be sought in divine principles, that is to say as men are willing to forego their preferences in things of human choice and human ordering. Separations came through insisting upon such things and confounding with divine truth what were merely matters of human opinion.
A broader fellowship will be found in larger convictions of diviner things, of profounder and sublimer truths. Let men lift their eyes above those man-built enclosures to contemplate God's horizon. Let them see that no one man may conceive, no separate sect contain, the vast circumference of all truth. Let them appreciate the largeness of the spaces of the Kingdom of Christ. Let them see that it is possible to turn from the partial to the universal, from the human to the divine, from broken cisterns hewed out by men to "the river of God which is full of water", that river "proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb", and that, thus drinking into that one Spirit, and thus joined in the one Body to Christ, as He is one with God, to the many (sic) belong [125/126] of right the Catholic claim: "All things are yours and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's ".
For thirdly, the lines on which we work for Christian unity must meet in that corner stone which is both divine and human, Jesus Christ Himself. Christian unity has its life in the one Spirit. It has its center in the "one Lord" Jesus Christ. It is as they draw near to Him that His people draw nearer to each other. The oneness of the whole body is through the common life that has its source in Jesus Christ. This oneness the Church will realize in proportion as its members live in that life that pulses from the heart of Jesus Christ.
It is as men, fired by His love for man, love Him and give themselves to Him, to go forth to preach the gospel to every creature; it is as Christians at home learn of Him sympathy with their fellow-men and side by side together work to help poor humanity up and on, and seek to win the multitudes of our cities and the dwellers in villages and the sheep scattered on the hillsides into the fold of Christ, that the practical difficulties and the burning shame and the faithlessness of disunion will force themselves on men until they shall together cry: "Behold how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity."
Moreover, it is as Christians sing the same hymns and praise God together with the Holy Church throughout all the world, and pray to their common Lord, that insensibly they come to be more and more at one. And when Christian worship mounts [126/127] to its culmination in the Eucharistic showing of the Lord's death and the gathering about the Father's table, there is the very sign and sacrament of brotherhood in Christ.
As Holy Baptism is the ground of unity, so the Sacrament of Holy Communion is the rallying point about which Christians may come together again. The Divine Liturgy is a corporate service of the whole Body, wherein is commemorated, represented. and pleaded the great sacrifice in common with and on behalf of all the whole Church. The Eucharistic sacrifice includes the offering of the whole Church by that Church herself in her offering to God. As St. Augustine says: "The whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God * * * This is," he continues, "the sacrifice of Christians we being many are one body in Christ." [De Civ. Dei x: 6.]
Then also it is a communion, a sharing in common, which unites those who share to one another in uniting them to God. As St. Paul says: "We, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread." [ I Cor. x: 17.] "And all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion" are included in that holy fellowship. In the commanded oblation of the Altar the Church to-day appeals to God for Catholic unity as truly as in the ancient days when men prayed: "As this bread was scattered upon the mountains, and having been gathered together [127/128] became one, so also, O Lord, gather together Thy Holy Church from every race and every country and city and village and household, and make it a living Catholic Church." [Bishop Sarapion's Prayer of the Oblation.]
Yes: It is in these ways, as we work for God and men in the same love to our common Lord and Master, as His Church goes forth to distant lands in missions to proclaim the Saviour who died for all, as the Lord's Service more and more regains its true position as the service of the Lord's Day, and as Christians commemorate that precious death and sacrifice in Holy Communion,--it is thus that, coming closer to their Lord, they shall come into closer fellowship with one another, that they shall realize the Communion of Saints in the unity of the Catholic Church, and apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that they may be filled unto all the fullness of God.