RECTOR OF ST. LUKE'S CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA
OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR.
JAMES MCCAULEY, 1309 CHESTNUT STREET.
November 23, 1878.
Dear Father Prescott:
Will you be good enough to give me, in a few brief words, a definition of the teaching of the Clergy of St. Clement's on the Holy Eucharist and Auricular Confession. With much respect,
Yours, very sincerely,
Evangelist House, St. Clement's, Philadelphia,
St. Clement's Day, 1878.
My Dear Mr. Flanders:
In regard to the Holy Eucharist, we believe and teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are present under the forms of bread and wine. Bread and wine are consecrated by the Priest, using the same words that Christ used; and by that act they become verily and indeed the Body and Blood of Christ, not naturally, but supernaturally present on the Altar. If naturally present, These would be naturally discerned by touch, and taste, and sight; but, being supernaturally present, they can only be discerned by faith.
The outward elements of bread and wine do not sensibly cease to be what they were before, but they become what they were not before; even as in the beginning God breathed the breath of life into that body of clay which He had formed, "and man became a living soul."
In regard to Auricular Confession, we believe and teach that any man whose conscience is troubled because of any sin, has full liberty to go to any Priest and confess that sin; and further, that [iii/iv] if he cannot quiet his own conscience, the Church requires him to do this before coming to Holy Communion.
I have asked all the Clergy connected with our work in Philadelphia to join me in signing this definition. I am,
Yours, very faithfully,
OLIVER S. PRESCOTT, Priest and Rector of St. Clement's Church.
BASIL WILLIAM MATURIN,
ALFRED G. MORTIMER,
WM. H. LONGRIDGE,
Head Master of the Collegiate School of St. John Evang.
Mr. George W. Hunter, a communicant and a vestryman "of one of our moderate parishes" (whatever that means), in a pamphlet, distinguished for learning, dignity of style, and comprehensive mastery of its subject, undertook to set forth "what the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States does really teach and hold concerning the Holy Eucharist and Auricular Confession."
It was a pamphlet calculated to enlighten and instruct, to dissipate the clouds of error that have gathered around these grave themes, and to fix and establish the truth.
The reply of Dr. Currie shows, that in one quarter at least, the good seed scattered by Mr. Hunter, and with such a liberal hand, has fallen upon a soil so uncongenial or so arid that it has taken no root, and produced no fruit.
Perhaps no other result should have been anticipated. Dr. Currie is sui generis. Spiritually he is the lineal descendant of John Knox, and inherits his whole estate of prejudices. He is singularly governed in his opinions by party shibboleths and watchwords. Tell him that Truth is Romish, and he would reject it as error. Tell him the [1/2] proposition that two and two make four is a popish or ritualistic invention, and he would deny the computation, and excommunicate the computer. The divinest harmony, the sweetest strains of music that ever fell on angels' ears, if called a Mass, would give him symptoms of catalepsy. At all times, and in all places, and under all circumstances, he prefers the screech of the pibroch. That reminds him that he is a Protestant; and recalls the glorious days of the Solemn League and Covenant. His mind (we judge from the pages before us) lacks compass and insight. Besides his pamphlet shows that he has never been an earnest student of the deep mysteries of his faith, and has never trod in the pathway of the Fathers or even of the Reformers. He stands outside of his subject and treats it superficially. Without wit or humor he is ambitious of saying smart things, and the result is not always in harmony with his endeavors. He is by no means ingenuous, and he is very inapt at "putting things together." Thus, a vestryman and a communicant of St. James' Church publishes a pamphlet, in July, in vindication of the faith once, delivered to the saints, and Dr. Currie, putting things asunder, thinks this justified his party in the Diocesan Convention making an assault on St. Clement's in the previous May!
"We shall endeavor in the following pages, with such aid as we have been able to obtain in the examination of authorities, to give Dr. Currie, in two particulars at least, a clear view of the doctrines and teachings of that Church, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in which he ministers; of that Church which, however unhappily divided in its organization, traces its titles back to apostles [2/3] and martyrs, which unites the past and the present, and takes hold on the future; of that Church which is divinely commissioned to speak with authority; that everywhere, whether under the dismal skies of Scotland, or the burning suns of India, has within its spiritual treasury, that which appeals to and satisfies the whole nature of man; of that Church which if he remains in its communion and listens to its voice, will give him peace in this world, and by its sacraments, an assurance of peace in the world to come. [Dr. Currie (p. 14) quotes Barlow, who was an unredeemed renegade and trickster, as follows:--"Wheresoever two or three simple persons, as cobblers or weavers, are in company, and elected in the name of God, there is the Church of God." Elected! by whom? And from whom do the electors derive their commission to elect "in the name of God"? Is Barlow's notion of what constitutes the true Kingdom of God on earth, Dr. Currie's also?]
The first question is, whether in the Communion Service, or in the Consecration and administration of the Sacrament, there is involved a Sacrifice? and secondly, whether our Lord is really present in the Elements? In other words, whether the Communion Service is merely a formal and memorial repast in which a conscious rector is conspicuously present, and our Lord conspicuously absent, or whether there is in that service of praise and thanksgiving, a Priest, a Sacrifice, and a Real Presence?
We assume, and shall not stop to quote authorities in support of the position, that everywhere, and at all times, and from all antiquity, the Church has taught and firmly believed in a priesthood, deriving its title from the mission and authority of Christ himself, and in its organization has always recognized these orders,--the Episcopate, the [3/4] Priesthood and the Diaconate. "We proceed, therefore, directly to consider whether in the Communion Service there is a Sacrifice.
1. THE EUCHARIST A SACRIFICE.
What is the testimony of the Ancient Liturgies?
Will Dr. Currie cite a single Liturgy in which it is denied that the Eucharist is a real and true sacrifice, in which the Body and Blood of Christ are continually offered to God, and the Lord's Death shown forth until He shall come? More than this: Will Dr. Currie cite a single ancient Liturgy which does not expressly, in terms, recognize the Eucharist as a Sacrifice, and its offerer as a Priest, and the place of its offering as an Altar?
If he cannot do this, how dare he speak of Mr. Hunter as desiring to "make out that the Holy Communion is a Sacrifice"? We ask his attention to the following quotations:--
Liturgy of St. Mark.--"Verily, earth and heaven are full of Thy holy glory, through the manifestation of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ: fulfil also, O God, this sacrifice with Thy heavenly blessing by the coming down on it of Thy most Holy Ghost, in the night in which," etc.
The Liturgy of St. Mark is the norm of the whole Alexandrian family of Liturgies, comprising those of St. Cyril, St. Gregory, and St. Basil, and many others derived from these.
Liturgy of St. James, Apostle.--Immediately after the consecration: "We therefore also, sinners, remembering His life-giving Passion .... offer to Thee, O Lord, this tremendous and unbloody sacrifice, beseeching Thee," etc.
 From this Liturgy come (1) the Sicilian St. James; (2) St. Cyril; (3) Syriac St. James. This last is the source of the largest number of Ancient Liturgies, numbering over forty.
Liturgy of St. Clement.--Immediately after the consecration: "Wherefore, having in remembrance His Passion . . . we offer to Thee, our King and our God, according to this institution, this bread and this cup; giving thanks to Thee through Him that Thou hast thought us worthy to stand before Thee, to sacrifice unto Thee."
Liturgy of St. Basil.--Prayer of the Offertory: "Receive us, according to the multitude of Thy mercy, drawing near to Thy holy Altar, that we may be worthy to offer to Thee this reasonable and unbloody sacrifice, for our own sins, and for the ignorances of the people," etc.
From this springs another family of Liturgies used in Ethiopia.
Our own Liturgy is in harmony with the Ancient Liturgies. In the Oblation, which means an offering, a sacrifice, the Priest says: "We Thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts, which we now offer" (i. e., sacrifice) "unto Thee," etc..... "And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto Thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech Thee to accept this." This what? This sacrifice, of course, our bounden duty and service.
And at this point, we pause a moment, to say a few words in respect to the origin and history of our Liturgy. While the Church of England and the Church in the United States are absolutely one each with the other, and both with the Church of Christ in all ages, yet they receive [5/6] their Liturgies from different and distinct sources. The Reformers of the time of Elizabeth, who compiled the English Liturgy, were not allowed, in the Providence of God, to meddle or tamper with the Communion Office of our Book of Common Prayer.
The Prayer of Consecration in our Prayer Book was put there by Bishop Seabury, the first bishop and great apostle of our Church in this land. He made a compromise with his brethren to this effect, that if he might do as he pleased about the Liturgy they might do as they pleased with the Book of Common Prayer. This accounts for our Liturgy being so much fuller, and our Book of Common Prayer so much scantier, than the Liturgy and Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. "I have given up all to save to you a Catholic Communion Office," said Bishop Seabury to his clergy, on his return to them, "and I leave it to a better and wiser generation to restore what I have yielded."
The Prayer of Consecration in our Liturgy, then, with its solemn oblation of the holy gifts of Jesus' Body and Blood, comes to us from Bishop Seabury. Bishop Seabury took it from "the Catholic Remainder of the Church of Scotland," and the Church of Scotland received it from Archbishop Laud, and Archbishop Laud took it from the First Book of Edward VI., and it was put into that Book by Cranmer, Goodrich, Holbeck, Day, Skip, Thirlby, Ridley, May, Taylor, Heynes, Redmayne, Cox, and Robertson, who were its compilers.
Now it is vastly important to know what construction Bishop Seabury put upon the Communion Service. Did he regard it as a sacrifice? We will give several extracts from him, and they deserve serious attention:--
 "Christ was anointed of the Father, and sent to be His Priest--to make atonement for sin by once offering Himself a sacrifice for it, and to intercede for His people. And the Apostles were sent to be Christ's Priests to His Church, to offer the commemorative Sacrifice of the Atonement which He had made; and to intercede with Him, and in His name, and through His merits, with the Father, for His people."--Sermons, vol. i. p. 61.
"Christ speaks of an Altar in His Church .... St. Paul says: 'True Christians have an Altar' .... Now, where there is an Altar, there must be a Sacrifice, and a Priest to offer it. And as Christ's Apostles were, at its institution, authorized by Him to offer the Christian Sacrifice of bread and wine, no doubt can remain of their being the Priests of the Christian Church, in the most proper sense."--Ibid. p. 62. [For use of the words Altar, Priest, and Sacerdotal, see Office of Institution in the Book of Common Prayer.]
"It being admitted that Christ did offer Himself--His natural Body and Blood--His whole humanity to God, a Sacrifice for the sin of the world; and having been shown that He did not offer Himself on the Cross, but was, in everything that related to his Crucifixion, merely passive, it may be asked, where did He offer Himself? Answer, in the institution of the Holy Eucharist."--Ibid. p. 150.
"The Eucharist is not only a sacrament, in which, under the symbols of bread and wine, according to the institution of Christ, the faithful, truly and spiritually, receive the Body and Blood of Christ; but also, a true and proper Sacrifice commemorative, i. e. a memorial made before God, to [7/8] put Him in mind; that is, to plead with Him the meritorious Sacrifice and Death of His dear Son."--Ibid. p. 156.
And here for the benefit of Dr. Currie, and we trust for the benefit of his flock also, we will quote a passage from a Pastoral Letter of the late Lord Bishop of Exeter. It may serve to disabuse his and their minds of a notion that since the Sacrifice of the Cross, no other sacrifice can be affirmed. "In heaven, our Great High Priest, presenteth ever before the Father, in person, Himself,--Mediating with the Father as our Intercessor; on earth He invisibly sanctifies what is offered, and makes the earthly elements, which we offer, to be sacramentally and ineffably--but not in a carnal way--His Body and Blood. For although once for all offered, that Sacrifice, be it remembered, is ever Living and Continuous, made to be continuous by the resurrection of our Lord. Accordingly St. John tells us, in Rev. v. 6, 12, that he beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain, and to him is continually addressed the triumphant song of the heavenly host, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.' To him His Church on Earth, in the Eucharistic Service, in like manner, continually cries, 'O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father that takest away the sins of the world.' Not that tookest away, but still takest--'Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi.' As, then, the Sacrifice is continuous, its propitiatory virtue is continuous, and the fulness of the propitiation is pleaded for the whole Church, whensoever the commemoration of it is exhibited in the Holy Eucharist."
 We have given in the preceding pages the testimony of the Ancient Liturgies, and we now inquire--
What is the testimony of the Early Writers?
Can any early writer, whose subject leads him to speak of the Holy Eucharist, be named, who does not declare It, the Eucharist, to be a Sacrifice?
St. Clement, the earliest of all ecclesiastical authorities, writing in the lifetime of the Apostles, speaks of "the offerings" and "liturgies" enjoined by God "at appointed times and hours." (Ep.ad Cor. i. 40.) Again he says, "Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily presented the offerings." (Ep. ad Cor. i. 44.)
St. Ignatius uses the word Altar as the habitual name of the Holy Table. See Epistle to the Ephesians, v. To the Magnesians, vii. To the Philadelphians (which we quote), iv. "There is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup with the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop along with the presbyters and deacons."
Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, interprets more than once the passage in Malachi, which occurs among the opening sentences of Morning and Evening Prayer, of the Eucharist. "He," i. e. God, "speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i. e. the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist," etc. (Contra Trypho, xli. and cxvii.)
St. Irenaeus says that the same passage refers "to the Oblation of the Church which our Lord taught to be offered in the whole world." (Bk. iv. 17, 5.)
 St. Cyprian says: "The clergy ought to be employed in nothing else but the service of the Altar, and in sacrifices." (Ep. lxvi. 109.)
St. Hilary says: "The work of the Sacrifice cannot take place without a presbyter." (Ope. Hist. Frag. ii. 16.)
St. Augustine says: "The Church from the age of the Apostles, through the same succession of Bishops, goes on even to our time and offers to God the Sacrifice of praise in the Body of Christ." Later, he speaks of the Jewish sacrifices as types of "that singular Sacrifice which the spiritual Israel now offers." (Contra Advers. Leg. et Proph., Lect. i. § 9.)
These are only examples. Will Dr. Carrie quote a single early Christian writer who denies that the Eucharist is a real, true, and proper Sacrifice; that the Holy Table of the Lord is an Altar, and that the minister of Christ is a sacrificing priest?
We now proceed to the second branch of our subject.
2. THE REAL PRESENCE.
If I were to take a piece of bread into my hands at a most solemn moment of my life, and assert simply and positively that it was my body, I suppose that my friends would set me down as a lunatic or a liar.
The Bible tells us that Jesus did this; we are bound, then, to/take Him at His word, or judge of Him as men would have a right to judge of us.
The Word of God says that the Bread which we break is the Body of Christ, and the cup which we bless is the Blood of Christ.
All ancient Liturgies say the same.
 All early writers are in accord with these witnesses: To mention them is to mention every known writer for five centuries who speaks upon the subject.
St. Ignatius says of the Docetae, that "they abstain from the Eucharist and Prayer because they confess not that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Ep. ad Smyr., n. 7.)
Justin Martyr.--"We also have been taught that the Food over which thanksgiving has been made by the prayer of the Word which is from Him, is the Flesh and Blood of Him, the Incarnate Jesus." (Apol. i. 65-67.)
Irenaeus, iv. 17, 5.
Clement of Alexandria Paedag. I. 6, p. 123.
Tertullian De Orat., § 6, pp. 303, 304.
Cyprian, with forty-one other Bishops, Ep. 31, § 7, p. 72.
Athanasius, Pasch. Epis., vii. pp. 58, 59.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Lect. xxi., Myst. iii. § 3, p. 268.
St. Augustine.--"Christ was carried in His own hands( when, commending His own Body, He said, 'This is My Body.'"--In Ps. xxxiii. (xxxiv.) n. 10, p. 350.
"Because He walked here in very Flesh, and gave that very Flesh to us to eat for our salvation, and no one eateth that Flesh unless he hath first worshipped, we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord's may be worshipped, and not only that we sin not in worshipping, but that we sin in not worshipping."--In Ps. (xcxiii.) xcix., n. 9, i., iv. p. 154.
References can be given to Dr. Currie in proof of the Real Objective Presence of Christ in the Eucharist from Epiphanius, Cyprian, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzum, [11/12] Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Paulinus, Theodoret, and Leo the Great (A. D. 440).
Will Dr. Currie, on his part, furnish a quotation from any Christian writer of the first four centuries who maintains that Christ is not really present in the Eucharist?
And will he tell us whether our Liturgy is paltering in a double sense, when in the prayer preceding the Consecration, the Priest says, in the name of all those who receive the Communion, "Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us."
Dr. Currie thinks the Real Presence is "contingent on the mental attitude of the worshipper." He will pardon us for saying that this is preposterous, and in contradiction of all trustworthy authority. The "mental attitude" of the communicant may determine the effect received from the Sacrament, but not the nature and character of the Sacrament itself. Thus, in the Liturgy of St. Basil, the prayer is, "Suffer none of us to partake of the Holy Body and Blood of Thy Christ to our judgment and condemnation."
The 29th Article of Religion expresses the same thought: "The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, yet, in no wise are they partakers of Christ," etc. The Sacrament is there; the beneficial effect is wanting. Bishop Forbes, "the learned and devout Bishop Forbes," as Mr. Hunter justly characterizes him, in [12/13]
his comments on this article states the matter very clearly. The Blessed Sacrament, he tells us, "cannot act as a charm in the case of those who are unprepared.....So far are they from the blessedness of union with Christ, that it were far better that they had not approached those holy mysteries. On the other hand, it is equally true that the Holy Communion is such by virtue of consecration; that Christ's Presence does not depend upon the mental emotion and spiritual condition of the recipient; that the Sacrament is what it is by the power of the institution of Christ." . . . . "The Res sacramenti is received by the wicked," but Christ is present in the Sacrament "not to bless, but to judge." "The wicked not only do not receive grace, but do receive judgment."--Bishop Forbes on the Thirty-nine Articles, pp. 575, 576, passim.
The compilers of the Articles quote St. Augustine. Is there any doubt of the latter's views as to the Real Presence, or that the former intended to sanction and adopt them?
The 28th Article tells us that "the Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner." The thing received is the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi), that is, "the Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper--there is the whole action--after a heavenly and spiritual manner, in a way that transcends the senses, in the order of grace, and not in the order of nature."--Bishop Forbes on the Articles, p. 564.
We have now considered whether, first, there is involved in the Communion Service a Sacrifice, and secondly, whether our Lord is present in the Elements. Our next step in the examination of our subject is--
 3. EUCHARISTIC ADORATION.
By Eucharistic Adoration Dr. Currie means the adoration of the elements of the Eucharist. (See p. 11.) He uses the expression "adore the elements." This is a meaning which no theologian has ever attached to this expression. Dr. Currie speaks of Eucharistic Adoration, i. e., the adoration of the elements, as the Ultima Thule of Roman thought and practice. It is rather the ultima thule of our author's extravagance and folly of assertion. Dr. Currie should know that the very essence of Roman teaching--the very thing which makes that teaching to differ from the teaching of Catholics in this and all ages on the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, consists in the denial that any elements remain after consecration. The accidents remain, and the accidents only; the elements have been changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. They are no longer there. To charge a Romanist with worshipping them is to charge him with worshipping things the very existence of which he denies. This is folly.
To say that Romanists and Ritualists are one in their teaching, while the former deny the existence, and the latter assert the existence, of the elements after consecration, is not only folly, but misrepresentation--misrepresentation arising from ignorance, no doubt, but misrepresentation notwithstanding. If this is not difference enongh to die for, where will Dr. Currie find it? And in recognition of this difference, now that we have explained it to him, is there an Evangelical Clergyman in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who would go to the stake with a more beaming countenance or with lighter and more elastic step than Dr. Currie himself?
 Of the Ancient Liturgies all or nearly all have incorporated into their structure the adoration of Christ present under the Sacred Species. It is a curious fact that the Roman Liturgy is the most meagre of all in this respect, and that the earlier we go the fuller we find the Liturgies to be.
Liturgy of St. Mark.--Immediately before the Elevation: "O Lord our God, incomprehensible Word of God, consubstantial and co-eternal, and ruling with the Father and the Holy Ghost, receive this pure hymn, with cherubim and seraphim, and from me a sinner and Thine unworthy servant."
Liturgy of St. James.--Immediately before the Elevation: "Holy Lord that restest in the holies, hallow us by the Word of Thy Grace, and by the visitation of Thine All-holy Spirit, for Thou, O Lord, hast said, be ye holy, for I am holy. Lord our God, incomprehensible Word of God, consubstantial, co-eternal, indivisible with the Father and the Holy Ghost, receive this pure hymn in Thy holy and spotless Sacrifice, with the cherubim and seraphim, and from me, a sinner," etc.
The Syriac St. James.--The Deacon before the Communion says: "Bow down your heads before the merciful God, before the propitiatory Altar, and before the Body and Blood of our Saviour, in whom life is stored for them that partake thereof."
Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.--Immediately after the consecration: "Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and stand with fear and trembling, and ponder nothing earthly in itself; for the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Christ [15/16] our God, cometh forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for Food to the faithful."
The Syriac Liturgy.--Returning to the Altar after communicating the people the Priest says: "Glory to Thee, O Lord our God, for evermore. O Lord Jesus Christ, let Thy holy Body which we have eaten, and Thy propitiatory Blood which we have drunk, be unto us not for judgment and punishment, but for life and salvation."
Similar quotations may be made from all the Liturgies of which this is the norm; also from the Nestorian, the Coptic, and the Armenian Liturgies.
In the Mozarabic Liturgy the Priest at his own Communion says: "Hail forevermore, most holy Flesh of Christ, highest sweetness forever;" and "Hail forevermore, most holy Drink, which art to me forever sweet before all things and above all things." We may notice that these two ejaculations, though not in the Roman Missal, are found in the Anglican rites of Sarum and Bangor. They are probably survivals of that almost extinct liturgical family once prevalent in Gaul and Spain which was called Bphesian, and attributed to St. John.
In the Roman Missal the Priest bends before the Sacrament, and says thrice: "Lamb of God," etc.; then follow three Collects addressed to the Son of God, and finally, at his own Communion, the priest says: "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof," etc.
In our own Book of Common Prayer there is a Rubric the like of which, so far as we know, does not exist anywhere else in Christendom. It occurs immediately after the Consecration, and is in these words: "Then shall be sung a hymn or part of a hymn from the selections for [16/17] the Feasts and Fasts," etc. In this Rubric, our Church brought into our Liturgy the great act of Adoration. She set herself to make and succeeded in making herself truly primitive. The hymns, provided were all hymns of adoration, and some of them of intense adoration. Witness that one "Thou, God, all glory, honor, power;" "Hail, Sacred Feast which Jesus makes;" "Yes, Lord, we love and we adore," etc.
Will Dr. Carrie mention a Liturgy in which Eucharistic Adoration in its true sense, i. e., the Adoration of Jesus Christ there present, is not provided for? And will he tell us honestly whether he would deliberately choose such language, as we have quoted under the three heads which we have considered, to express his belief on the subjects of the Sacrifice, the Real Presence, and adoration in the Eucharist? And will he tell us too, whether after reading these extracts, he can honestly declare that St. Luke's Church, in its teachings, is a better exponent of the doctrines contained in them than St. Clement's?
We will conclude this part of our inquiry, by a few quotations from the Fathers, and, then, will summon eminent Anglican Divines as witnesses in our behalf.
St. Cyril.--He directs men "to approach, to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth their hands, but bending and saying in the way of adoration and religious ceremonial, Amen."--Fifth Myst., Art. 22.
St. Chrysostom.--"For if we come with faith, we shall assuredly see Him lying in the manger. And there will lie the Body of the Lord; not wrapped as then in swaddling clothes, but on every side clothed with the Holy Ghost. The initiated understand what I say."--Hom. de B. Philogon, III. vol. i. p. 495. 2
 He speaks of what was done "when Christ is, as it were, to seat Himself on a lofty tribunal and to appear in the Mysteries themselves."--Hom. de Incomprehens. Dei Nat., iv. 4.
He speaks of angels as "trembling at the Church's Sacrifice," and as "ministering at that Table."--Hom. III. in Ep. ad Ephes. 4, 5.
Theodoret.--"The mystical Symbols are thought of as that which they have become, and are believed to be so, and are worshipped, as being those things which they are "believed to be."--Dialogus Secund.
St. Ambrose.--"By the footstool, is understood earth, but by earth the Flesh of Christ, which even at this day we adore in the mysteries, and which the Apostles adored in our Lord Jesus Christ; for Christ is not divided, but one; nor when he is adored as the Son of God, is he denied as born of the Virgin."--De Spiritu Sancto, iii. xi. 79.
St. Augustine.--"Because He walked here in very flesh, and gave that very Flesh to us to eat for our salvation,--and no one eateth that Flesh unless he hath first worshipped,--we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord's may be worshipped; and not only that we sin not in worshipping, hut that we sin in not worshipping."--In Ps. xcix. 5.
EMINENT ANGLICAN DIVINES ON THE EUCHARIST.
Dr. Currie tells us (p. 12), that "the opinion of the English Reformers on the subject of the Holy Eucharist may be gathered from one or two characteristic extracts, and from their expressions of opinion on cognate matters."
 Of course, the opinion of the English Reformers cannot be gathered from one or two extracts, characteristic of the writers or otherwise, nor from any gloss or commentary which Dr. Currie may put on the "expressions of opinion" of one, or two, or half dozen of them "on cognate subjects." Their writings must be examined, and they must speak for themselves.
Cranmer, Ridley, and Laud are very important witnesses on this subject. The two former were among the compilers of the First Prayer Book of Edward VI.; and the latter was martyred mainly for seeking to give that Liturgy to the Church of Scotland. We have already seen that Bishop Seabury succeeded in giving our Church the Catholic Communion Office taken from that Book.
Dr. Currie quotes Cranmer to show that he condemned transubstantiation! Does he mean his reader to think that that is the question in controversy? We have endeavored, in a former part of this pamphlet, to point out to him the difference between transubstantiation and the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. We hope he will consider it, and profit by it.
Cranmer is a very unlucky witness for Dr. Currie. He seems conscious of it, and apologetically says (p. 13), "It is true that for the sake of emphasizing more strongly the reality of the blessing to the communicating believer, Cranmer often speaks of Christ's Presence in bodily terms, and employs the rhetoric of the Fathers; but to put the matter past all doubt as to what his views in reality are, he declares that on this subject he does not differ from Bucer, and that Bucer, in his judgment, did not differ from Oecolampadius and Zwingle."
 What Dr. Currie means by speaking of Christ's Presence "in bodily terms" we don't pretend to know. "What Christ's Presence means is plain enough, and so are the words "bodily" and "terms," bat what they mean all together as collocated by our author is a question. Does he mean that Cranmer testifies to his own belief in the Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Eucharist? then why does he not say so, and why does he seek to put contempt on the Fathers by calling rhetoric their affirmation of Christ's own statement, "This is my Body, and This is my Blood"? When Cranmer had to do with the Prayer of Consecration in our Liturgy he did not know Bucer, or Oecolampadius, or Zwingle. The German influence was later.
Dr. Currie quotes Cranmer, but he gives no reference. Take his quotation as it stands, and what does it do for him? "Christ is not to be worshipped" (p. 13) in the Eucharist, for it is of this that he is speaking, "but only sacramentally." Who holds that in the sacrament Christ is present or to be worshipped otherwise than as sacramentally present? Christ is locally present in Heaven, personally present in the Word, sacramentally present in the Eucharist. And here let me ask, is not any construction of this quotation which makes it a denial of the duty of Adoration "grammatically out of the question"?
Cranmer's real belief on the subject of the Eucharist is embodied in the following extract. In 1548, while he was engaged in compiling the First Prayer Book of Edward VI., he translated a Catechism from Jonas, the orthodoxy of which he maintained to the last. In this he says, "When Christ taketh bread and saith, This is My Body, [20/21] we ought not to doubt that we eat His very Body; and when He taketh the cup and saith, This is My Blood, we ought to think assuredly that we drink His very Blood."--P. 208, ed. 1809.
And what says Ridley: "Both you and I agree in this; that in the Sacrament is the very, true, and natural Body and Blood of Christ, even that which was born of the Virgin Mary; which ascended into Heaven."--Answer to Bellarmine, c. i. p. 11.
And what says Laud: "His Altar as the greatest place of God's residence upon earth (I say greatest), yea, greater than the pulpit. For there 'tis 'Hoc est Corpus Meum; this is My Body.' But in the pulpit 'tis at most, 'Hoc est verbum Meum; this is My word.' And a greater reverence (no doubt) is due to the Body than to the word of our Lord. And so in relation, answerably to the throne, where His Body is usually present, than the seat where His word useth to be proclaimed."--Speech in the Star Chamber 1637, p. 47.
These quotations show, very clearly, what views Cranmer, Ridley, and Laud held upon the subject of the Eucharist. They are as far from the views held and taught by Dr. Currie, as from the centre, three times the farthest pole.
But there are other eminent names. Where are they? We answer, Here! Here to testify against him.
Butler was persecuted in his life for being what would now be called a Ritualist, and it was charged after his death that he died a Romanist. The charge was false, utterly false. He was no more in harmony with the Church of Rome than he would be, were he now living, with the prevalent theology, practices, and usages, and modes of worship [21/22] in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Here our amiable and winsome old friend, Dr. Goodwin, would denounce him, and hold him up to reproach, as a scandal to the community, and a disturber of the peace of the Church! [Peace, indeed! such peace as the Wolf gives to the Lamb.] He was guilty of the atrocious act of setting up an Altar, and the Gross above it! and sour intolerance, and arrogant bigotry never forgave him for this evidence of disloyalty! He was not led to speak of the Eucharist in those of his writings that have come down to us, but his life was irresistible testimony to a belief utterly inconsistent with the teachings of Dr. Currie's pamphlet.
Wake.--"Where is that Christian that does not, by faith, unite himself to his Saviour in this Holy Communion? That does not present Him to God as his only Sacrifice and Propitiation? That does not protest that he has nothing to offer Him but Jesus Christ, and the merits of His death? That consecrates not all his prayers by this Divine Offering; and whilst he thus presents to God the Sacrifice of His Son, does not learn thereby to present also himself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in His sight? . . . . This is, if any other, truly the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and such as the Church of England has never refused."--Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England, p. 64. Hall.--"This Bread, that I will give, is this very Flesh of Mine, which I will offer upon the Cross for man's redemption; that is it, which your souls shall feed on, while, by the means of this Humanity of Mine, is conveyed unto you all My Righteousness, and the full efficacy of My Deity, for the quickening of them to life everlasting."--Hard Texts, etc., St. John vi. 51.
 "Eateth and drinketh just judgment and condemnation to himself, in not considering the greatness of this mystery, and making no difference between this sacred Bread, which is sacramentally the Body of Christ, and the other and ordinary bread."--Ibid. 1 Cor. xi. 29.
Jewel.--"We teach the people not that a naked sign or token, but that Christ's Body and Blood is indeed and verily given to us; that we verily eat it, that we verily drink it; that we are bones of His bones, and flesh of His flesh, that Christ dwelleth in us, and we in Him."--Reply to Harding, Art. v. Div. 1; p. 238.
Hooker.--"Why do we vainly trouble ourselves with so fierce contention, whether by con substantiation or else by transubstantiation the Sacrament itself be first possessed of Christ or no?--a thing which can no way either further or hinder us howsoever it stand, because our participation of Christ in this Sacrament dependeth on the co-operation of the Omnipotent Power, which maketh it the Body and Blood to us; whether with change or without alteration of the element such as they imagine, we need not greatly to care or inquire."--Eccl. Pol. V. lxvii. 6.
Will Dr. Currie endorse the above? If he will, then he has a right to put himself forward as representing Hooker's teaching on this subject. If he will not, then he ought never to have mentioned his name.
If Hooker held what he believed of the Presence so to depend "on the co-operation of the omnipotent power of Christ," that it became indifferent whether it was by con-substantiation or transubstantiation, or by something else, he certainly came very near to making the difference between the Churches "of no practical moment."
 Saravia.--"I only urge that which ought to be unshaken among the faithful, namely, that the Real and True Presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Supper is to be believed by the faithful. Of what kind that is, we must not inquire too curiously or too grossly. Let this be enough for the faithful, that that Presence is supernatural and Divine."
Saravia was Hooker's intimate friend as well as confessor.
Bishop Andrews: Answer to Bellarmine, cii. p. 11.--"Now about the one object we are both agreed; all the controversy is about the mode, and this is, we firmly believe, that 'it is in this mode' (the Bread, namely, being transubstantiated into the Body), or of the mode whereby it is wrought, that 'it is,' whether in, or with, or under, or transubstantiated, there is not a word in the Gospel. And because not a word is there we rightly detach it from being a matter of faith; we may place it among the decrees of the Schools, not among the articles of faith. What Durandus is reported to have said of old we approve of: 'We hear the word, feel the effect, know not the manner, believe the Presence.' The Presence, I say, we believe, and that no less true than yourselves. Of the mode of the Presence we define nothing rashly, nor, I add, do we curiously inquire; no more than how the Blood of Christ cleanseth us in our baptism; no more than how, in the Incarnation of Christ, the Human Nature of Christ is united into the same Person with the Divine. We rank it among mysteries (and, indeed, the Eucharist itself is a mystery), 'that which remaineth ought to be burnt with fire.' That is, as the fathers elegantly express it, to be adored by faith, not examined by reason."
 Bishop Forbes: Consid. Modesto de Euch., 1. i. c. i. § 7.--The doctrine of those Protestants and others seems most safe and true, who are of opinion--nay, most firmly believe--that the Body and Blood of Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist, and received, but in a manner incomprehensible in respect of human reason, and known to God alone, and not revealed to us in the Scriptures; not corporal, yet neither in the mind alone, or through faith alone, but in another way, known, as was said, to God alone, and to be left to His Omnipotence.
Bishop Taylor fully admits that the terms "real," "substantial," and even "corporeal" Presence might have a sound sense, if this last be understood as opposed to "figurative," or "in type;" and that the very words of the Article of Trent, "the Saviour is sacramentally present with us in His Substance, if they might be understood in the sense in which the Protestants use them, that is, really, truly, without fiction, or the helps of fancy, but 'in rei veritate.' So as Philo calls spiritual things anagkaiotatai ousiai, most necessary, useful, and material substances, might become an instrument of united confession."
"Of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Sacrament--in it--again, it is inquired whether, when we say we believe Christ's Body to be 'really' in the Sacrament, we mean 'that Body, that Flesh that was born of the Virgin Mary,' that was crucified, dead, and buried. Answer: I know none else that He had or hath; there is but one Body of Christ, natural and glorified; but he that says that Body is glorified which was crucified, says it is the same Body, but not after the same manner; and so it is in the Sacrament. We eat and drink the Body and Blood of [25/26] Christ that was broken and poured forth; for there is no other Body, no other Blood of Christ; but though it is the same we eat, yet it is in another manner. And, therefore, when any of the Protestant divines, or any of the Fathers, deny that Body which was born of the Virgin Mary, that was crucified, to be eaten in the Sacrament, as Bertram, as St. Hierom, as Clemens and Leo expressly affirm, the meaning is easy; they intend that it is not eaten in a natural sense."
Bishop of Exeter's Charge, pp. 69-71.--"When any of us speak of this great mystery in terms best suited to its spiritual nature; when, for instance, we speak of the Real Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, there is raised a cry, as if we were symbolizing with the Church of Rome, and as if this Presence, because it is real, can be nothing else than the gross, carnal, corporeal Presence indicated in transubstantiation.
......"If we adopt the phrase as not only aptly expressing the doctrine of the Church, but also as commended to our use by the practice of the soundest divines of the Church of England in an age more distinguished for depth as well as soundness of theology than the present--such as Archbishops Bramhall, Sharp, and Wake (all of whom do not only express their own judgment, but also are witness of the general judgment of the Church in and before their days; no genuine son of the Church of England, says Bramhall, did ever deny a true Real Presence), if, I say, we adopt the phrase used by such men as these, and even by some of those who, at the Reformation, sealed with their blood their testimony to the truth against the doctrine of Rome (I allude especially to Bishops Ridley and [26/27] Latimer, and even to Cranmer, who, when he avoided the phrase so abused by the Romanists, did yet employ equivalent words), it will be sufficient for the justification both of them and of us to show that the language of the Church itself does in fact express the same thing, though in different terms."
Thorndike, Epilogue III. 4, p. 31.--"I will go no further in rehearsing the texts of the Fathers, which are to be found in all books of controversies concerning this, for the examination of them requires a volume on purpose. It shall be enough that they all acknowledge the elements to be changed, translated, and turned into the substance of Christ's Body and Blood; this as in a sacrament, that is, mystically; yet, therefore, by virtue of the consecration, not of his faith that receives."
Bishop Ken: Expos. of Church Catech., licensed 1685.--"O God Incarnate, how Thou canst give us Thy Flesh to eat and Thy Blood to drink; how Thy Flesh is meat indeed; how Thou who art in heaven, art present on the altar, I can by no means explain; but I firmly believe it all, because Thou hast said it, and I firmly rely on Thy love and on Thy omnipotence, to make good Thy word, though the manner of doing it I cannot comprehend."
Bishop Cosin: Hist. Trans., c. 3, § 3.--"We confess, with the Fathers, that the 'mode' is ineffable and unsearchable, that is, not to be inquired and searched into by reason, but to be believed by faith alone. For although it seems incredible, that in so great a distance of place, Christ's Flesh should come to us, to be our food, yet we must remember how much the power of the Holy Spirit is above our understanding, and how foolish it is to measure His immensity [27/28] by our capacity. But what our understanding comprehends not, let faith conceive."
We now come to the second branch of our inquiry, namely, Auricular Confession. And before considering, the extraordinary statements and disingenuous and misleading references of Dr. Currie in respect to it, we will tell him a secret. The truth is, our prejudices on this subject coincide with his, and unhappily our practice also. For, instead of remembering our sins and bewailing them, we are too apt to follow Dr. Currie's advice and forget them.
[On page 22 Dr. Currie says: "It is not so much by remembering as by forgetting the things that are behind .... that our minds and hearts are really bettered.....It is not by deliberate consideration and discussion and confession, but by the diligently formed habit of forgetfulness, that we are emancipated from the animal nature."
[And yet every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening, and occasionally at other times, if the weather is favorable, Dr. Currie, in his professional character, with sombre face and solemn voice, exhorts his congregation as follows: "Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge and confess" (not forget) "our manifold sins and wickedness, and that we should not" (forget them) "nor dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father, but confess them" (not forget them) "with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness" (not oblivion) "of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy."
[We have quoted this exhortation because we fear that Dr. Currie has rehearsed it so often professionally that he has become insensible to its real meaning and true significance. It is opposed to his "whole philosophy of the thing." We are exhorted to remember and confess our sins, to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same.
[A Pagan priest, in the corrupt days of the Lower Empire, could not have administered a more unspiritual prescription than Dr. Currie's, to satisfy the troubled conscience of a wicked and pleasure seeking votary. It is an evil recipe, and the bishop should at once see to it, that it is eliminated from Dr. Currie's spiritual pharmacopoeia.
[We write earnestly upon this subject, because we have among Dr. Currie's flock several friends, whom we highly honor and esteem, friends with very delicate and sensitive consciences, and it distresses us to think that when they go to their rector and "open their griefs," he should drug their souls with such cheery words as these: "Don't bother about your sins! What you need is forgetfulness, mandvagora, and the drowsy syrups of the East! Divert your thoughts! Take a gallop in the Park! Observe the lilies of the field, and listen to the twitter of the birds! At any rate, don't mope!" The full and dreadful consequences of this sort of teaching will probably never be known until the eternal world opens upon us.
 We don't mind imparting this secret to Dr. Currie, for we know that he will approve and applaud us, but we beg him not to mention it to Father Prescott--he is such a martinet and disciplinarian in all matters touching his priestly functions!
But, indeed, this subject is too grave to be considered from the low plane of prejudice, or with gibe and fling and innuendo. It is a serious question of fact. It is not a question of faith; it is a question involving discipline. And the primary and important inquiry is, "What does the Church in these United States teach? Or rather--for she asserts that she does not intend to depart, and has not departed, from the Church of England--what has the Church of the United States inherited from the Church of England in the matter of Auricular Confession?"
In the first place, then, we have to say, that auricular confession is nowhere prohibited in our Church, and it is nowhere referred to in our Liturgy, when referred to at all, except in a sense to justify it. It is a part of Christian liberty. If any one feels the impulse and the necessity to "open his griefs" to a priest, where is the law, the canon, [29/30] the rubric that hinders or prohibits him? And where is the law, the article, the canon, or the rubric that undertakes to limit, to circumscribe, or to change or to modify the commission of a priest?--a commission which he derives, mediately, through the Church, from Jesus Christ Himself. What is that commission? With imposition of hands upon the head of "every one that receiveth the order of priesthood," the Bishop says: "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained."
The Protestant Episcopal Church has clothed its ministers with this transcendant power, and here is Dr. Currie demanding that they shall renounce it, that they shall burn their commissions, and hide their light under a bushel! The Protestant Episcopal Church has kindled a fire, thinking it would be for the warmth and comfort of its people, and here is Dr. Currie, running frantically about, ringing an alarm bell, and crying out that it is an incendiary conflagration!
And yet with strange inconsistency, he feels himself justified, with his avowed principles, to remain in the church, and every Sunday morning and every Sunday evening to say to his people, he standing and they kneeling, these words: "Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live, hath given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins."
 That is, Dr. Currie feels himself justified, mediately, in absolving and remitting the sins of a whole congregation on condition of their penitence, and yet he pursues Father Prescott with horn and hound, because, on the same condition, he absolves and remits the sins of an individual member of his congregation! Is it no longer true then that the greater power includes the less; that the whole includes all the parts, and the general the particular? Does a mathematical demonstration cease to be such, because some conceited sciolist declares that it conceals a Romish, or Popish, or Ritualistic gunpowder plot?
With these general observations, we now come to a particular examination of what Dr. Currie has put forth in answer to Mr. Hunter. And we stand aghast at the recklessness of his assertions; every authority which he states to be with him, yielding some passage in direct contradiction of his assumptions, with the one exception of Bishop Butler, who, as far as we can find, has written nothing either for or against confession.
On page 17, speaking of the Service for the Visitation of Prisoners, Dr. Currie asserts that the minister is directed "to examine into the man's repentance, admonishing him particularly only concerning the crimes wherewith he is charged, and exhorting him to a particular confession, not of the sins of his lifetime, nor of any others than the sin for which he is condemned." We find, on referring to the Service, that the minister is directed to say the following words to the prisoner: "Since, therefore, you are soon to pass into an endless and unchangeable state, and your future happiness or misery depends upon the few moments which are left you, I require you strictly to examine [31/32] yourself, and your estate both towards God and towards man; and let no worldly consideration hinder you from making a true and FULL confession of your sins," etc. Why did not Dr. Currie quote this, which speaks not of a confession of the one sin, for which he is condemned, and of which every one is already aware, but a true and full confession of his sins--that is, of all the sins of his life, for of what avail would repentance for the one sin be unless he repented of all the other sins of his life as far as they were on his conscience?
After two pages of a very labored and feeble attempt to explain away what the Bible says in St. John xx. 21-23, he suggests that the reader should apply a principle of his own to explain away the plain words of God in the two texts, St. Mark xvi. 15, 16, and St. John xx. 21-23. He asserts that these two texts are parallel passages, spoken at the same time, and having the same meaning; and in support of this he says it will be found in Robinson's Harmony, as in all other Harmonies with which he is acquainted. We have not Robinson's Harmony, it is not a book of any authority among scholars; but on referring to every other Harmony to which we have had access, they do not one of them give those passages as parallel, but place that of St. John xx. 21, as spoken on the Evening of the Day of our Lord's Resurrection, and that of St. Mark xvi. 15, as spoken after the journey into Galilee spoken of in St. Matt, xxviii. 16, and just before His Ascension. They all give the passage St. Mark xvi. 15 as parallel with St. Matt, xxviii. 19, and as referring to the institution not of Absolution, but of the Sacrament of Baptism; while St. John xx. 21 stands alone as the institution of Absolution, and is referred back to St. [32/33] Matt. xvi. 19, and St. Matt, xviii. 18, three pretty strong texts on the subject. The Harmonies we have examined are Isaac Williams's, Coleridge's, Greswell's and Miinpriss's; besides, any one will see by an ordinary reference Bible that the parallel texts are as we have stated, and are not as Dr. Currie states, viz., that St. Mark xvi. 15 is to be referred to St. Matt, xxviii. 19, and that St. John xx. 21 is to be referred to St. Matt. xvi. 19, and xviii. 18--besides this we . have St. Matt. ix. 2-8. And. here we beg leave to refer him to an extract from a sermon of one of his friends on this latter text. We mean Dean Boys, of Canterbury, whose name is known to many people as a prominent divine of the Evangelical party; the extract is from page 522 of his works. "In that Christ said here, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee,' notwithstanding He knew the Scribes would murmur and mutter against His speech. He teacheth us to be faithful in our calling, and diligent in doing our duty, maugre the beard of all captious and cavilling adversaries. Hath then Almighty God given such power unto men, as to pronounce the pardon of sin to the sick man in his bed? Is the doctrine of Confession and Absolution agreeable to the Scriptures and practice of the Church, as well present as primitive? Then, albeit some Scribbling scribe pen an invective pamphlet against a discreet pastor executing this office, or some self-conceited Pharisee tell the people 'this man blasphemeth,' he may, notwithstanding (upon good information of faith and repentance, as Christ in this place), say to the sick sinner in his bed, 'thy sins are forgiven thee,' and by Christ's authority committed unto him, 'I absolve thee.' . . . For my own part, I wish, unfeignedly, that all Popish abuses of Confession and Absolution utterly abolished; they might [33/34] one day be more fully restored unto our Protestant Churches with their primitive sincerity."
So says one of the Reformers. People have often laid great stress on the wonderful foresight that some of these divines showed in their writings. We never realized it so fully as when reading those words of Dean Boys; he seems to have possessed the Scotch gift of second sight, and looked forward, to the year of grace 1878, and to have written them for the special benefit of Dr. Currie.
But again, we have St. Paul, 1 Cor. ii. 10, and 2 Cor. v. 18, 19, 20, and many other texts; and as to the Bible on the subject of Confession, which Dr. Currie wisely passes over, we have--Lev. v. 56; Numb. v. 5, 6, 7; Josh. vii. 19; Proverbs xxviii. 13; St. Matt. iii. 6; St. Luke xvii. 11; Acts xix. 18; St. James v. 16; St. John i. 8, etc. etc.
We have examples of Confession before man in nearly all the penitents of the Bible, viz., Achan, Saul, David, Ahab, the Jews in the time of Ezra, the Jews to St. John Baptist, the Ephesians to St. Paul, etc. And we ask, can Dr. Currie give one text against it? It was the common practice of the Jews in our Lord's time, and He must have known how the Christian Church would follow it, and, if "the whole philosophy of the thing is wrong," would not Christ have given a word of warning against it? But no such warning is given; but the contrary.
And yet Dr. Currie, page 21, says "it has not a shadow of authority either in the Bible or in the Prayer Book!"
We now come to the most extraordinary part of the pamphlet, where Dr. Currie begins to quote authorities, or more correctly to give names, for he does not quote from them. Let us take the names he mentions, and see how far they [34/35] are on his side. He begins, page 30, with "Where are Hooker and Bingham? Both have written on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and on Auricular Confession." Dr. Currie does not say, what he probably well knows, that Hooker both went to Confession himself, heard Confession and wrote in favor of it; but he leaves the reader to suppose just the contrary. (Walton's Lives, Life of Hooker, p. 188, Christian Knowledge edition.) We are told that Dr. Saravia and Hooker confessed to each other, and that just before his death Hooker received absolution from Dr. Saravia. Again (in Hooker's Eccles. Pol. vi., iv. 15, T. iii., p. 52, 2d ed. Keble), we read "Because to countervail the faults of delay, there are in the latest repentance oftentimes the surest tokens of sincere dealing; therefore upon special Confession made to the minister of God, he presently absolveth in this case the sick party from all his sins by that authority which Jesus Christ hath committed unto him." . . . . "Because the knowledge how to handle our own sores is no vulgar or common art, but we either carry towards ourselves, for the most part, an oversoft and gentle hand, fearful of touching too near the quick; or else, endeavoring not to be partial, we fall into timorous scrupulosities, and sometimes into those extreme discomforts of mind from which we hardly do ever lift up our heads again; men thought it the safest way to disclose their secret faults, and to crave imposition of penance from them, whom our Lord Jesus Christ hath left in His Church to be spiritual and ghostly physicians, the guides and pastors of redeemed souls, whose office doth not only consist in general persuasions to amendment of life, but also in the private cure of diseased minds." Ecc. Pol. vi., iv. 7, pp. 30 and 31.
 And where is Bingham? Although a very modern divine, living in the eighteenth century, as Dr. Currie invokes him, let us hear what he has to say. Antiq., vol. ii. p. 1105: "But besides this general declaratory absolution retained in our service, there is a more particular absolution appointed to be given to single persons in some special cases; that is, when men labor under troubles of mind and disquiet of conscience for any particular sins, which they make Confession of to a minister, with proper signs of a genuine repentance. In that case the minister is authorized not only to give them ghostly counsel and advice, but also the benefit of absolution; that is, if, upon a just examination of their case, he judges them to be real penitents before God, then he may not only declare to them the general promises of pardon, but assure them in particular, that as far as he can judge of their case by the visible tokens and indications of their repentance, he esteems them absolved before God, and accordingly declares and pronounces to them their absolution." .... "And it must needs be of considerable weight and moment towards the satisfaction and comfort of an afflicted or a doubtful and desponding soul to have the declaration of a skilful physician to rely upon; to have one who, by his office, is qualified to be a proper judge in such cases, to, pronounce his absolution. Therefore our Church, for the comfort of such penitent sinners, has appointed the minister in two of her offices (the Exhortation to the Communion, and the Visitation of the Sick), to grant such a particular absolution, saying in one of them, 'By the authority of Jesus. Christ committed unto me, I absolve thee from all thy offences.'"
 And again, p. 1119, speaking of the form of Absolution used, he says: "But our quarrel is not with the newness of this form, but with the abuses the Romish Church has affixed to it. For otherwise it may be lawfully used, as our Church appoints, in the Office of Visitation of the Sick."
Dr. Currie asks with an air of triumph: Where is Bishop Jewel, Archbishop Whitgift, Archbishop Usher, Bishop Hall, Bishop Burnet, Archbishop Wake, and finally, where is Bishop Butler?
Had Dr. Currie examined the writings of these prelates when he made this demand?
If not, what folly!
If he had, what audacity!
At any rate, here they are:--
1. Jewel. "Abuses and errors removed, specially the priest being learned, as we have said before, we mislike no manner of Confession, whether it be private or public." Defence of Apol. ii. vi., 1 T. iv. p. 486, ed. Idf.
2. Whitgift. After searching carefully through Whitgift's works we can find no passage alluding to Confession at all, although in his eighteenth Tract against Cartwright, the Puritan, he speaks of Absolution in the early Church with approval.
3. Archbishop Usher. "Be it therefore known unto him that no kind of Confession, either public or private, is disallowed by us, that is in any way requisite for the due execution of that ancient power of the keys which Christ bestowed on His Church." Usher's Answer to a Jesuit, p. 75, ed. Camb. And again, p. 90. "From Confession we now proceed to Absolution, which it were pity this man should receive, [37/38] before he made Confession of the open wrong he hath here done, in charging us to deny 'that priests have power to forgive sins.' Whereas the very formal words which our Church requireth to be used in the ordination of a minister, are these: 'Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained.'"
4. Bishop Hall. "If, after all these penitent endeavors, you find your soul still unquiet, and not sufficiently apprehensive of a free and full forgiveness, betake yourself to God's faithful agent for peace; run to your ghostly physician; lay your bosom open before him; flatter not your own condition; let neither fear nor shame stay his hand from probing and searching the wound to the bottom; and that being done, make careful use of such spiritual applications as shall be by him administered to you. This, this is the way to a perfect recovery and fulness of comfort." . . . "Yet withal, it must be yielded, that the blessed Son of God spake not these words of His last commission in vain: 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.' Neither were they spoken to the thus present apostles only, but, in them, to all their faithful successors to the end of the world." Work, T. vii., p. 453 and 454, ed. Hall.
5. Bishop Burnet. In a letter in answer to another Bishop, who inquired, "What Absolution he used when persons came to confess to him," and said that he himself "was in the habit of using that in the Office for the Sick, but wished to know what was Burnet's practice," Burnet said that "in his opinion either was proper, but that he himself used that in the Office for Holy Communion." So [38/39] Burnet heard Confessions. (Church and World, 2d series, p. 393. ["As a means to quiet men's consciences, to direct them to complete their repentance, and to make them more humble and ashamed of their sins, we advise them to use secret Confession to their Priest, or to any other Minister of God's Word; leaving this matter wholly to their discretion."--Burnet's Exposition, xxxix. Art., p. 273, ed. A. D. 1705.])
6. Archbishop Wake. "For Penance and Confession we wish our discipline were both more strictly required, and more duly observed than it is. The Canons of our Church do perhaps require as much as the primitive Christians themselves did; and it is more the decay of piety in the people, than any want of care in her, that they are not as well and regularly practised."
"The Church of England refuses no sort of Confession, either public or private, which may be any way necessary to the quieting of men's consciences, or to the exercising of that power of binding and loosing, which our Saviour Christ hath left to His Church. We have our penitential canons for public offenders; we exhort men, if they have any the least doubt or scruple, nay, sometimes though they have none, but especially before they receive the Holy Sacrament, to confess their sins. We propose to them the benefit not only of ghostly advice, how to manage their repentance, but the great comfort of Absolution too as soon as they shall have completed it. When we visit our sick we never fail to exhort them to make a special Confession of their sins to him that ministers to them; and when they have done it, the Absolution is so full, that the Church of Rome itself could not desire to add anything to it." (Wake's Exposition of the doctrine of the Church of England, Art. . xi., p. 40 and p. 42.)
 7. Finally, Dr. Currie asks, where is Bishop Butler? As far as we are aware, after reading Butler's works, as we have already stated, he never wrote on the subject of Confession, either for or against it.
So much for Dr. Currie's witnesses on the subject of Auricular Confession! There are other names scattered through his pamphlet, and it is rather difficult at times, to determine for what purpose they are summoned, and what doctrine they are intended to support. We shall quote from several of them.
1. Cranmer. "Now God doth not speak to us with a voice sounding of Heaven; but He hath given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the authority to forgive sins, to the Ministers of the Church. "Wherefore let him that is a sinner go to one of them. Let him acknowledge and confess his sin; and pray him that, according to God's Commandment, he will give him absolution, and comfort him with the "Word of Grace, and forgiveness of his sins. And when the Minister doth so, then I ought steadfastly to believe that my sins are truly forgiven me in Heaven."--Sermon on the Authority of the Keys, folio 226.
2. Howe. When sick or wounded by sin, it (the spirit of a Christian) must be recovered and restored by godly counsel, and wholesome discipline, by penance and absolution, by the medicines of the Word and Sacraments, as duly and properly administered in the Church by the lawfully and regularly-appointed delegates and representatives of the Physician of souls.--Discourse xviii., Ti., p. 342.
3. Becon, the famous Becon, as Dr. Currie calls him (page 14). "Why Auricular Confession should be condemned and exiled from the bounds of Christianity, I see no [40/41] cause; but that it should be approved, retained, maintained, and used, I find causes many, yea, and these right urgent and necessary."--Quotation, from Early Works, Parker Soc, p. 100. . . "And when he shall rehearse unto you the most sweet and comfortable words of Absolution, give earnest faith unto them, being undoubtedly persuaded that your sins, at that time, be assuredly forgiven you, as though God Himself had spoken them, according to that saying of Christ, 'He that heareth you heareth Me;' and again, 'Whose sins ye forgive, are forgiven them.'"--Early Works, Parker Society Ed., p. 196.
4. Archbishop Grindal. "Indeed Confession, if it be discreetly used, is a laudable custom, and to the unlearned man and feeble conscience so good as a sermon."--Grindal's Remains, Parker Soc. Edit., p. 57.
5. Bishop Jeremy Taylor. "Confession to a priest, the minister of pardon and reconciliation, the curate of souls, and the guide for consciences, is of so great use and benefit to all that are heavy laden with their sins, that they who carelessly and causelessly neglect it are neither lovers of the peace of consciences, nor are careful for the advantages of their souls."--Taylor's Work, ix., p. 250, ed. Heber.
6. Chillingworth. "Since Christ, for your benefit and comfort, hath given such authority to His Ministers, upon your unfeigned repentance and contrition, to absolve and release you from your sins, why should I doubt, or be unwilling to exhort and persuade you to make your advantage of this gracious promise of our Saviour? Why should I envy you the participation of so heavenly a blessing? Truly, if I should deal thus with you, I should prove myself a malicious, unchristianlike, malignant preacher; I [41/42] should wickedly and unjustly, against my own conscience, seek to defraud you of those glorious blessings which our Saviour hath intended for you."--Sermon vii., Chillingworth's Works, p. 84.
7. Tillotson. "There are many cases wherein men under the guilt and trouble of their sins, can neither appease their own minds, nor sufficiently direct themselves, without recourse to some pious and prudent guide; in these cases men certainly do very well, and many times prevent a great deal of trouble and perplexity to themselves, by a timely discovery of their condition to some faithful minister, . . . and thus far Confession is not only allowed but encouraged among Protestants."--Tillotson's "Works, vol. iii., p. 11.
We have given the foregoing extracts, because the names of the authors appear in Dr. Currie's pages. In addition to these, had we the space, we could cite as witnesses against him, the following Bishops of the Church of England, all of whom have written in favor of Confession:--
Overall, Crakenthorp, White, Montague, Mason, Dr. John White, Morton, P. Heylyn, Bramhall, Berkeley, Sparrow, L'Estrange, Nicholls, Ken, Kettlewell, Pearson, Barrow, Smith, Wilson, Stearne, Parker, Laud, Seeker, Sharpe, Ridley, Latimer, Williams, Andrewes, Downame, Sanderson, Nicholson, Cosin, Patrick, Beveridge, Bull, Tomline, Marsh, Short, Hamilton, Forbes, Wilberforce.
We have in the appendix to this pamphlet given extracts, with page, &c, from the twenty first-named of these--that people may really fairly judge of the opinion of the Reformers on Confession.
And now we dismiss this subject. We have not argued that it is the duty of people to go to Confession. That is [42/43] their business and not ours. But what we do maintain is, that they have a right to go, if they choose; and that our clergy have a right to heat Confessions, if they choose; and that to charge them with disloyalty for so doing, is to attack the Church itself, and the very foundation on which it stands. A pamphlet like Dr. Currie's, with its disingenuous and misleading inferences and statements, will result, as like performances have hitherto resulted, in the spread and extension of the practice. Guns of light calibre make a noise and arouse attention; but they are wholly ineffectual to dislodge an opposing force.
We have considered in the preceding pages points of doctrine or discipline referred to by Dr. Currie. But the real question at issue does not appear upon the surface. It is out of sight, and apt to be forgotten, but it is the old issue between the two parties that have existed in the Church since the days of Henry VIII., called at different times by different names. The question is this, whether the Church of Christ is a kingdom with a divinely commissioned Priesthood, with divine mysteries of which its members are the stewards, or whether it is a mere religious society, with officers or no officers, according as men professing to be its members shall think best.
The Reformed Episcopalians have recognized the issue, have met it, and gone to their own place. The Unreformed Episcopalians, represented by Dr. Currie and his party, are meeting it, and trying to make a place for themselves by denying any place in the Church to any but themselves. [43/44] The High Church party is meeting it, and maintaining its character for comprehensiveness and true broadness, and demanding that the wheat and the tares should grow together until the harvest, and that so the true faith be confessed and valid sacraments administered there should be large liberty of external observance. That the lines were lengthened and the cords stretched by the Catholic party in the Church at the time of the Reformation in order that the Puritan and the Low Churchman might not be driven out, is matter of history. That the heirs and representatives of the latter parties are now using the concessions of Catholics to drive from the Church the heirs and representatives of those Catholics is matter of experience. The outward manifestation may be of one character or another; but the evil is one, and the real question is one, and that question touches the foundation of the Church of Christ.
Of the final result we have no fears and no doubts. The Church, under Evangelical sway and influence, in full possession "of a Protestant reputation," has remained comparatively stationary. Now that she has lost or is losing her reputation, all men are flocking unto her. The Evangelical party have blown their horn upon the mountains for the last fifty years, and what impression have they made upon "the Christian bodies about us?" Those people were taught "the whole philosophy of the thing," as understood by Dr. Currie, in their own churches, and they preferred to remain in their own camp rather than join his.
"With fifty years more of such blasts and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States would be moribund or absorbed into the Reformed Episcopal Church. But, thank God, the morning is breaking in beauty and in glory. [44/45] The Catholic revival has saved the Church. "Methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam; purging and unsealing her long abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance, while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means." She means this: That Catholic truths shall again shine forth in all their primitive lustre, and that they shall be presented in the services of the Church, according to the Preface of our Prayer Book, "in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner."
NOTE.--We venture to suggest, to the younger and more energetic Churchmen in the diocese, whether, until they come to their own, and as a means of obtaining peace and quiet meanwhile, it would not be wise to consider the feasibility of carving out of the present Diocese of Pennsylvania, a new diocese, the Diocese of Philadelphia, for instance, where they could repose under their own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make them afraid! There's Dr. Davies and Dr. Foggo! what a fine Prelatical Presence they have to be sure! Which shall it be? OUR LADY shall rain influence and adjudge the prize!
Overall.--"If he hath committed any mortal sin, then we require confession of it to a priest, who may give him, upon his true contrition and repentance, the benefit of absolution; which takes effect according to his disposition that is absolved. . . . The truth is, that in the Priest's absolution there is the true power and virtue of forgiveness, which will most certainly take effect, nisi primitur olex, as in baptism." Taken from "Tracts of the Anglican Fathers."
Dr. Crakenthorp.--"As to Auricular Confession being abrogated among us thou dealest artfully and deceitfully. Private confession, whereby any disburbens into the bosom, or if thou wiliest, the. ear of the Priest, the anguish of his mind for one or more sins committed: the absolution, moreover, if such sinner, after an earnest and unfeigned repentance done by him, through the keys of Church committed to all presbyters, our Church both teaches and approves." "We have not abolished private confession nor private absolution." Defensio Eccles. Aug., contra Archiepisc. Spatal cap. lxxx. § 6, p. 565 Aug. Cath.
Bishop White.--"The Protestants in their doctrine acknowledge that private confession of sins made by penitent people to the pastor of their souls, and particular absolution, or special application of the promises of the Gospel to such as be penitent, are profitable helps of virtue, godliness, and spiritual comfort." Answer to Fisher, p. 186.
Bishop Montague.--It is confessed that all Priests, and none but Priests, have power to forgive sins: it is confessed that private confession unto a Priest is of very ancient practice in the Church--of excellent use and practice being discreetly handled. We refuse it to none, if men require it, if need be to have it. We urge it and persuade it in extremes. We require it in case of perplexity, for the quieting of men disturbed, and their consciences. A Gagge for the New Gospel? p. 83.
Archdeacon Mason.--Nor have we only public absolution in our Church, but also private. For there are some who want a singular consolation, and accordingly we use private absolution in the visitation of the sick, and as often as the broken spirits and wounded consciences of individuals require this. Vindicias Eccl. Angl., v. 9.
 Dr. John White.--We are to add concerning the point the doctrine of our Church, which doth not deny or take away the free and godly use of confession, but teacheth that it is very profitable when it is discreetly done upon just occasion, and a godly, learned, and trusty minister may be had. Way to the True Church, § 40, p. 231, ed. 1610.
Bishop Morton.--The power of absolution, whether it be general or particular, whether in public or in private, it is professed in our Church: where both in her public service is proclaimed pardon and absolution upon all penitents and a private applying of absolution unto particular penitents by the office of the minister. Morton Catholike Appeale, A. D. 1609, p. 270.
Archbishop Bramhall.--By special absolution. The Priest absolves; or to say more properly, God absolves by the Priest. "Whose sins ye remit they are remitted." Protestants condemn not private confession and absolution itself, as an ecclesiastical policy, to make men more wary how they offend, so as it might be left free, without tyrannical imposition. . . . By a little shame, which we suffer before our fellow-servant, we prevent that great confusion of face, which otherwise must fall upon impenitent sinners at the Bay of Judgment. Of Protestants' Ordination, P. iv. Dirc. vi., works v. p. 213, 222.
Dr. Peter Heylyn.--The sacerdotal power of forgiving sins is a derived or delegated ministerial power: but it is judicial also, not declarative only. No man, not in priestly order, can absolve from sin, because he wants the power of order, to which the promise is annexed by our Saviour Christ, which makes the sentence of the Priest to be so judicial. Theol. Vet. p. 489.
Bishop Berkeley.--I had forgot to say a word of confession, which you mention as an advantage in the Church of Rome, which is not to be had in ours. But it may be had in our communion by any who please to have it; and, I admit, it may be very usefully practised. Letter to Sir John James, 1741; Berkeley's Works, iv. p. 278, Clar. Press.
Bishop Sparrow.--So then it is not the power of preaching or baptizing, which is here given to the Apostles; but as the Fathers interpret the phase, a peculiar Power of pronouncing, as God's deputed judges, pardon and remission to the penitent; a Power of absolving from sins, in the name of God, all such as penitently confess unto them. A Form of which Absolution our Holy Mother, the Church, hath presented in the Visitation for the Sick. Bishop Sparrow's Sermon, 1. c. pp. 314, 315.
L'Estrange.--Here the Church approveth of, though she doth not command, auricular confession. The Alliance of Divine Offices, Annot. upon Confession and Absolution, p. 448, Aug. Cath. ed.
 Dr. Nicholls.--"It is very plain from this passage that our Church does not condemn private confession and absolution, though she does not universally require them (as the Church of Rome does) as being necessary for the pardon of all sins." Comment on the Bk. of Com. Prayer, on the Exhortation in the Order of the H. Com.
Bishop Ken.--I then advise you, as the Church does, to go to one of your Superiors in this place, to be your Spiritual Guide, and be not ashamed to unburthen your soul freely to him, that, besides his ghostly counsel, you may receive the benefit of Absolution. For though confession of our sins to God is only matter of duty and absolutely necessary, yet confession to our Spiritual Guide also is, by many devout souls, found to be very advantageous to true repentance. Manual, p. 54, A. 1687.
Kettlewell.--Is there any particular sin amongst all these which lies heavy, above the rest, upon your conscience, and for which you yet need and desire more particular direction, comfort, and absolution? Companion for the Penitent. Works, ii. 348, 351.
Bishop Pearson.--For if, upon the apprehension of your latter end, you feel your conscience troubled, and being observant of the method prescribed, desire to make a special confession and receive the benefit of absolution, to which end the priest is ordered to use these words: "By the authority of Christ committed to me, I absolve thee of all thy sin." Minor Works, T. ii. p. 237, ed. Churton.
Dr. Barrow.--If Christian men, having fallen into sin or failed of duty towards God, do seriously confess their fault, and heartily repent thereof, when the ministers of the Church, in God's name and for Christ's sake, do declare (or pronounce) to them so doing, or so qualified, the pardon of their sin, and absolve them from it, we need not doubt that their sins are readily forgiven, and the pardon expressed in words is effectually dispensed unto them. Works, vol. v. pp. 495, 496, Clar. Pr. 1818.
Dr. South.--But so much of private confession as may be of spiritual use for the disburdening of a troubled conscience, unable of itself to master or grapple with its own doubts, by imparting them to some knowing, discreet, spiritual person for his advice and resolution about them; so much, I confess, the Church of England does approve, advise, and allow of. I say, it does advise it, and that as a sovereign expedient, proper in the nature and reason of the thing, for the satisfaction of persons otherwise unable to satisfy themselves; but by no means does it enjoin it as a duty equally and universally required of all. Sermon, lxi. T. iv. p. 211, ed. Clar. Press.
Bishop Wilson.--Our Lord having purchased the forgiveness of sins [49/50] for all mankind, He hath committed the ministry of reconciliation to us, that, having brought men to repentance, we may, in Christ's name and in the power of Christ, pronounce their pardon. Parochialia. Works, vii. 68, ed. Keble.
And if my sins are such as give me great disturbance of mind, I will not only confess them to God, but I will apply to some one of those pastors whom God has appointed to be the ministers of reconciliation betwixt God and man; to him I will open my case and my grief, I will take his ghostly counsel and directions; and when he judges my repentance to be sincere, according to the rules of the Gospel, I will beg of him to give me absolution. Serm. xxxvi., Works, ii. 409, ed. Keble.
Bishop Stearne (1699).--Choose whom you will as Confessor, but out of love I warn you not to conceal from him, what unless he knows, you can profit little by his counsel. The Clergyman's Instructor, p. 418, ed. 1807.