Project Canterbury






The Bishop of Connecticut





Rector of Christ Church, New York,





The Seven Catholic Sacraments.







THE following Correspondence grew out of a Sermon (published herewith), preached by the Rev. F. C. EWER, D.D., in S. John's Church, East Hartford, Conn., Jan. 30th, 1870. When DR. EWER sailed for Europe, he left the MSS. in the hands of a friend, with instructions to publish them, if it should be thought, by him and others, that their publication would subserve the interests of the Catholic Movement.


MIDDLETOWN, CONN., Feb. 8th, 1870.


Some one has sent me a copy of the Hartford Times newspaper of January 31st, 1870, containing a sermon said to have been preached by you in St. John's, East Hartford, on the previous day, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.

Although, aside from what I shall presently quote, there is very much in, the sermon with which I entirely disagree, statements which do not seem to me to be borne out by historical facts, and positions which I regret to find you assuming, still, I should have no right, for any or all of these things, to address you officially. All these would be legitimate subjects for public or private criticism; but with such criticism all possible right and duty of any and all parties would, in my opinion, terminate.

But there is more than these things. Somewhere near the middle of your sermon I find these words: "There were yet customs, and doctrines, and other Sacraments set down in the Prayer-Book and Homilies, as truly part and parcel of our Church, as was the Atonement or the Apostolical Succession, or Baptism, or the Eucharist." And again, a little further on, I find these words: "There was the whole supernatural system of the Church, with the Sacramental grace of Confirmation, and Ordination, Penance, and Marriage, and Unction, and there was the doctrine of the Real Presence and of Catholic Authority, all neglected, but all really held up for acceptance by our Church." [5/6] I refrain from noticing other expressions, which seem to me to be used, to say the least, in a most unguarded and careless way, and confine myself to these.

Now, my reverend brother, these words do seem to me to contain teaching which contravenes the doctrine of our Church, and puts in place of it something not only entirely alien from it, but utterly hostile to it. If such is the fact, then my duty, according to the provisions of Canons 2 and 3 of Title ii., is very clear. But I cannot bring myself to believe that it could have been your purpose to teach doctrine contrary to the doctrine of our Church.

Since, however, the words above quoted come to me as forming part of a sermon preached by you within the limits of my Diocese, it becomes my duty (for in such a matter I will not speak of rights), to take notice of them. And I do this in the form of a request for information, with the sincere and earnest hope that you may be able to give me such explanations as may render any further steps unnecessary.

Permit me, therefore, my reverend brother, to propose to you the following enquiries:

1. Are the extracts from your sermon, which I have given above, correct, and do they present the language which you employed?

2. When you speak of "other Sacraments" besides Baptism and the Eucharist, in what sense do you use the word sacraments, and to what, besides these, would you apply it?

3. In what sense do you intend to present Ordination and Confirmation as Sacraments?

4. Do you intend to speak of the "Sacramental grace" of "Penance, and Marriage, and Unction," and if so, what am I to understand you as meaning by the term?

5. What am I to understand you as meaning by Penance and Unction, and how do you intend to present them as "held up for acceptance by our Church"?

It is not pleasant, my dear brother (indeed it is quite the reverse) to write this letter; and I do it in the hope that your replies may relieve me from a duty which would be still more [6/7] unpleasant. May it please the Good LORD to grant that so it be! And may the same LORD give us all "a right judgment in all things," to His glory and our well-being.

I am very truly,

Your servant and brother,

Bishop of Connecticut.

The REV. F. C. EWER, D.D., New York.

P.S.--I must not fail to add that I fully recognise the ability of your sermon, and also the entire truth and correctness of many statements contained in it.


NEW YORK, Feb. 11, 1870.



I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, which came to me last evening.

It will give me pleasure to prepare a full reply at as early a date as my pressing parochial cares will admit.

Meantime, I remain
Very faithfully yours,
In the Church Catholic,


To the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Connecticut, Middletown, Connecticut.


NEW YORK, Feb. 25, 1870.

To the RT. REV. JOHN WILLIAMS, D.D., Bishop of Connecticut:

RT. REV. AND DEAR FATHER:--In reply to your inquiries under date of February 8th, I beg to say that the words quoted by you from my sermon, as published in The Hartford Times are, with minute and unimportant variations, words that were uttered by me on the morning of the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, while temporarily in your Diocese.

The meaning intended by me will appear from the following. And you will kindly pardon me, Right Reverend Father, if, on account of the importance of the topics at issue, I write somewhat at length.

I. The Church, in the Homily "Of Common Prayer and Sacraments," gives me two distinct definitions of a Sacrament, each of which she accepts as true.

The first she calls "the exact signification of a Sacrament."

The second she calls the general acceptation of the term.

Her "exact signification" is:

1st. Visible Signs,
2d. Expressly commanded in the New Testament,
3d. Whereunto is annexed
4th. The promise of free forgiveness of our sin,
5th. And of our holiness,
8th. And joining in Christ.

"But," she moreover teaches me in the same paragraph of the Homily, that "in a general acceptation, the name of a Sacrament may be attributed to anything, whereby an holy thing is signified." And she goes on to say, that the ancient writers [8/9] have at least given this name "to the other five, commonly, of late years, taken and used for supplying the number of the seven Sacraments," "not meaning thereby," however, "to represent them as Sacraments in the same signification that the two forenamed Sacraments are."

I therefore hold, in the language of the Catechism, that "Christ hath ordained in His Church two Sacraments only as generally necessary to salvation--that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord"; and that, under the above "exact signification" of the term, there be these two only.

But I also, therefore, hold that, in some sense of the word--viz., under its "general acceptation," under which "the name of Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby an holy thing is signified"--there are other Sacraments besides the said two of Baptism and the LORD'S Supper. And I hold that the Church, far from denying that there are others, distinctly implies, by the language which she uses in her authorized documents, that there are other such Sacraments: though each and all of these fall short, in some one or more respects, of the items which enter into her "exact signification" of a Sacrament. For instance, Absolution "hath the promise of forgiveness of sins," only "not annexed to the visible sign"; and Ordination hath a promise and a visible sign, but not the promise--viz., union with our LORD, and consequent justification and sanctification, which the two Sacraments "ordained of CHRIST" have; while none of these other Sacraments are "generally necessary to salvation."

When the Church, in her Homilies, uses such language as the following, viz.: "It [Ordination] lacks the promise of remission of sin, as all other Sacraments besides the two [Baptism and the LORD'S Supper] above named do," and such. language as the following, viz.: "Therefore, neither It nor any other Sacrament else, be such Sacraments as Baptism and the Communion are "I cannot deny that there are means of grace justly called Sacraments other than the two Sacraments of our Lord. For instance, with the Church I call Matrimony a Sacrament; fully endorsing her following utterance, in her Homily, on swearing, viz.: "By like holy promise, the Sacrament of Matrimony knitteth man and wife in perpetual love." And whatsoever the words of Article XXV. may mean (and I confess its language [9/10] seems to me, doubtless from some fault of my own mind, "awkward and embarrassed," and that, in some respects, it conveys no very clear impression and definite instruction to me), I cannot bring myself to believe that the learned framers thereof did "mean to contradict the Homilies which they praised." While, with Article XXV., I do not count the "five rites" as "Sacraments of the Gospel"; while I hold, with the Article, that they "have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the LORD'S Supper," of one thing I feel sure--viz., that as the Homilies call Matrimony a Sacrament, it follows that Article XXV. does not reject any of the five rites as being in some sense "Sacraments."

Furthermore, I hold that in using the peculiar phrase "Commonly called Sacraments," the Article itself means positively to designate to me those other "five" as Sacraments in some sense of the word. The phrase "commonly called" was a phrase evidently used at the time the Article was written, by no means to express the idea of "falsely called." Surely, in the title to the Propers of Christmas Day in the Prayer-Book--which title reads, "The Nativity of our LORD, or birth-day of CHRIST, commonly called Christmas Day"--the Church did not mean to express the idea and to teach me that the Nativity was falsely called Christmas Day. Surely when, in her title to the Propers of Ash-Wednesday, she uses the phrase, "The first day of Lent, commonly called Ash-Wednesday," she did not mean me to imply that the day was falsely called Ash-Wednesday. Surely when she entitles the second day of February "The presentation of CHRIST in the Temple, commonly called the Purification of St. Mary the Virgin," and then, in her Calendar, entitles it "The Purification of Virgin Mary," she did not intend me to imply that she meant to say it was falsely called the Purification of St. Mary the Virgin. Surely when she speaks of "The thanksgiving of women after child-birth, commonly called the Churching of women," she did not intend me to understand that it was falsely so-called. On the contrary, she helps to perpetuate such alternate titles, giving them her sanction. And so when I read, "Those five, commonly called Sacraments, ... , are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel," I take it that though they be not "Sacraments of the Gospel," [10/11] yet are they nevertheless held by the Church to be rightly called Sacraments in some sense.

I am taught by the Homily, as I understand it, and I fully accept and concur in such teaching, that that which separates the two great Sacraments of Baptism and the LORD'S Supper from all other Sacraments, and casts about these two a peculiar dignity, is that in them nothing was left to be supplied by man; that everything in them was ordained by CHRIST Himself--viz., the visible sign, the invisible grace, and the connection between the sign and the grace.

It is not in this sense that I use the word Sacrament as a title to other means of grace; but in that "general acceptation" of the term, according to which the Church teaches me that "the name of Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby an holy thing is signified."

II. I answer your question, To what besides Baptism and the Holy Eucharist would you apply the term? In its "general acceptation," I should apply it to no less a number certainly than those "other five ... . of the seven Sacraments" spoken of above by the Church in her Homily "Of Common Prayer and Sacraments"--meaning, of course, Confirmation, Matrimony, Absolution, Ordination, and Unction. As, however, the Anglican Communion has nowhere said that there are five other rites only to which the term may apply; and as the Catholic Church, in General Council met, hath never limited the term Sacrament in general acceptation (including, of course, its exact signification) to seven means of grace and to seven only, and as the early Fathers frequently apply the term to other means or rites besides the seven, I cannot and do not presume, but simply wait for the whole Catholic Church, to determine the number to which the term, after a universally agreed upon definition, should be confined as a title.

In short, I claim that the Church does not teach me that there are only two Sacraments; but that there are "two only which are generally necessary to salvation." And in this respect I am happy to find that I am not in discord with such venerable authorities as Bishop Jeremy Taylor and Archbishop Seeker. For Taylor says, even in his "Dissuasive against Popery":

[12] "It is none of the doctrine of the Church of England that there are two Sacraments only; but that of those rituals commanded in Scripture, which the ecclesiastical use calls Sacraments (by a word of art), two only are generally necessary to salvation."

And Archbishop Seeker says, in his thirty-fifth lecture, "Of Baptism":

"As the word Sacrament is not a Scripture one, and hath at different times been differently understood, our Catechism doth not require it to be said absolutely that the Sacraments are two only, but two only necessary to salvation; leaving persons at liberty to comprehend more things under that name if they please."

III. Ordination and Confirmation.

I intend, therefore, "to present Ordination and Confirmation as Sacraments," in that "general acceptation" of the term according to which the Church, in her Homily, teaches me that the "name of Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby an holy thing is signified."

IV. Holy Matrimony.

The Church, in her Homily on Swearing, dignifies this rite with the high title of the "Sacrament of Matrimony." And I hold, therefore, that, as a Sacrament, there must be some "sacramental grace" connected with it--some "holy thing" which it "signifies."

What that grace is, she seems to leave her children to conjecture, as I do not know that she has anywhere precisely and fully in set terms defined it. It is not for me, therefore, to be dogmatic in the matter. Were it becoming in me, however, to conjecture, where the Church has held her peace, I should say that the "holy thing" which the "Sacrament" "signifies" must be the Divine uniting of twain--a man and a woman--into one flesh (as symbolic of the union between CHRIST and the Church), that they may live together without sin, with a "blessing" to enable the two "to perform the vow and covenant betwixt them made," ever to "remain in perfect love and peace together," and [12/13] so to "live together in this life that in the world to come they may have life everlasting"; or, in the language of the Homily, that "the Sacrament of Matrimony knitteth man and wife in perpetual love."

V. "Penance," or Absolution.

I used the word "Penance "to signify that Sacrament wherein, after Confession, the penitent sinner receives the remission of his sins through God's authorized agent, a Priest of Holy Church.

I am informed by the American Branch of the Catholic Church, in the Preface to our Prayer-Book, that she "is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship, or further than local circumstances require." She instructs me therefore, and I hold, that in all essential points of doctrine and discipline, she is at one with the Church of England. Indeed, I have never had any doubt on' this point since I read the introductory remarks, signed, "J. W." to Article VIIIth of Bishop Brown's "Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, edited by the Bishop of Connecticut;" in which, to my mind, you so tersely and clearly lay down the principle, that, nothwithstanding the American Church has exscinded the Athanasian definition from her Formularies, she still accepts it; this being, in your language, "placed beyond a doubt by the declaration in the Preface to the Prayer-Book, that we do not intend to depart 'from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine.'"

I regard the whole matter, and the means of forgiveness of sins, as highly essential points of Doctrine and Discipline. Whatsoever, therefore, the Church of England teaches concerning them, I hold that the American Church teaches the same. I hold that the Anglican Communion has as clearly defined a doctrine on this whole subject as either the Roman or the Greek Communions.

I am commanded to exercise "the office and work of a Priest committed unto" me "by the imposition of" the Bishop's "hands" for the relief of such souls as come to me for that end. In committing to me this "Office and work of a Priest" the Church used these solemn words, viz.:

[14] "Whose sins thou dost forgive they are forgiven, and whose sins thou dost retain they are retained."

And immediately after uttering them she gave it me solemnly in charge faithfully to dispense "the Word of God" and "His Holy Sacraments." I hold that the words commencing, "Whose sins," etc., were not meaningless, but that they conveyed to me a real gift and left me in possession of a real power. And I hold that I am to "dispense the Word of God," among other ways, by applying the pardoning merits of the said Word of God through absolution to the souls of the Faithful Baptized, when they are truly repentant of their sins and truly resolved upon amendment, should they desire such dispensation for their "comfort" or for the "quieting" of their "conscience." I am instructed by the Church, and I hold, in harmony with all this, that Almighty God hath not only "given power" but also "commandment to His Ministers to declare and pronounce to His people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins." In harmony with all this, too, I find that the Church of England instructs her children, that if any of them "cannot quiet his own conscience" he is to go to some "discreet and learned Minister of God's Word and open his grief, that by the Ministry of God's Holy Word he may receive the benefit of Absolution." I find that she instructs her Ministers not to omit to move such sick person, as any of them may visit, "to make a special confession of his sins if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter"; and that "after said Confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it,) after this sort: 'Our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and by His authority committed to me I absolve thee from all thy sins. In the Name of the FATHER and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." I find, moreover, that the American Church, true to her statement that she "is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship, or further than local circumstances require," admits the same principle, by instructing me, as one of her Priests, in case I visit an incarcerated person, to "examine whether he repent him truly of his sins," [14/15] "exhorting him" during the examination "to a particular confession of the sin for which he is condemned," and instructing me "after his confession" "to declare to him the pardoning mercy of God in the form which is used in the Communion Office."

I am instructed by the Homily on "Common Prayer and Sacraments," and I hold, that, "although absolution hath the promise of forgiveness of sins, yet by express word of the New Testament it hath not this promise annexed and tied to the visible sign, which is imposition of hands. For this visible sign (laying on of hands) is not expressly commanded in the New Testament to be used in Absolution, as the visible signs in Baptism and the Lord's Supper are; and therefore Absolution is no such Sacrament as Baptism and the Communion are." I hold, therefore, that it is a Sacrament, though it be no such Sacrament as the two Sacraments of the Gospel are. And, as instructed by the Homily, I hold it hath for its Sacramental grace "the promise of the forgiveness of sins"; though that promise be not tied to the visible sign. I hold that sins are forgiven to the Faithful Baptized by Gov, without confession to man; and therefore, that the Sacrament of Absolution is not to be "obtruded upon men's consciences as a matter necessary to salvation." But I hold that such confession, previous to Absolution, although not peremptorily commanded to be used by all, nor set up as a matter necessary to salvation for any, is yet not only permitted, but under certain circumstances advised, by the Anglican Communion.

I hold the above views touching Absolution and its grace, because I do not dare put myself out of communion with the English Church. And I hold them with the more confidence in that they are the views of illustrious Prelates and Doctors of our Church, some of whose names and utterances, I beg to give below, viz.:

Hooker---"To the end that men may at God's hands seek every one his own particular pardon through the power of those keys, which the Minister of God using according to our Blessed Saviour's institution, in that case it is their part to accept the benefit thereof as God's most merciful ordinance for their good, and, without any distrust or doubt, to 'embrace joyfully His [15/16] grace so given them according to the Word of our LORD, which hath said, 'whose sins ye remit, they are remitted.'"--(Hooker vi. ch. 4-14.)

Ridley--Writes the very year before he was burnt: "Confession unto the Minister, which is able to instruct, correct, and inform the weak, wounded, and ignorant, indeed I ever thought might do much good to Christ's congregation, and so I assure you I think this day."--(Ridley's Works, Park. Soc. 338.)

Latimer--"Sir, I tell thee the Priest, he hath power given unto him from our SAVIOUR to absolve in such wise as he is commanded by Him. But I think Ministers be not greatly troubled therewith; for the people seek their carnal liberties, which indeed is not well, and a thing which misliketh God. For I would have them that are grieved in conscience to go to some Godly man which is able to minister God's Word, and there fetch his absolution, if he cannot be satisfied in the public sermon. It were truly a thing which would do much good."--(Sermon on Lord's Prayer. Park. Soc. p. 423.)

Jewel--"Touching the third (private confession made unto our brother) ... it is not in any wise by us reproved. The abuses and errors set apart, we do no more mislike a private confession than a private sermon."--(Defence of Apology, p. 351 Park. Soc.)

Archbishop Parker, A.D. 1567--In Visitation Articles, inquires "If any ... do either privily or openly preach or teach any unwholesome, erroneous, seditious doctrine, or in any other point do persuade or move any not to conform themselves to the order of Religion Reformed, Restored, and Received by public authority in the Church of England, as, for example, that ... or that mortal and voluntary sins committed after Baptism be not remissible by Penance."--(Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. iii. p. 253.)

Dr. L. Baily, Bishop of Bangor, A.D. 1632--In his "Practice of Piety," a book which passed through seventy-two editions, and was in its day a standard devotional book, Dr. Baily says: "In any wise, remember to send for some godly and religious pastor, not only to pray for thee at thy death ... but also, upon [16/17] thy confession and unfeigned repentance to absolve thee of thy sins."

Bishop Montague, A. D. 1641--"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 and persuade it in extremes, we require it in case of perplexity for the quieting of men disturbed and their consciences."--(A Gag for the New Gospel, p. 53.)

Overall, 1618; Cosin,1670; and Andrewes, 1625--These three Prelates, in their Visitation Articles, make these inquiries: "Whether the Minister of the Parish exhorts his people to open their grief, if conscience be troubled? Has the Minister revealed any secrets confessed? Does he absolve the sick upon their confession?"

Dr. Heylin (reign Charles I.)--Teaches, "For confession to be made to the Priest; it is agreeable both to the doctrine and intent of the Church of England, though not so much to the practice as it ought to be.--(Sum. of Theol., p. 455.)

Bishop Bramhall--Drew up the following Canon (19th of the Irish Church) which was approved by Archbishop Usher. "And the Minister of every parish ... shall give warning, by the tolling of a bell or otherwise, to the intent that if any have any scruple of conscience, or desire the special ministry of reconciliation, he may afford it to those who need it. And to this end the people are often to be exhorted to enter into a special examination of the state of their own souls, and finding themselves either extremely dull or much troubled in mind, they do resort unto God's ministry to receive from them as well advice and counsel ... as the benefit of Absolution likewise, for the quieting of their consciences by the power of the Keys which CHRIST hath committed to His Ministers for that purpose."

Archbishop Usher, A.D. 1650--Says, in his "Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge" (p. 75): "Be it known unto him that no kind of confession, either public or private, is disallowed by us, that [17/18] is any way requisite for the due execution of that ancient power of the Keys which CHRIST bestowed upon His Church. The thing which we reject is that new picklock of sacramental confession, obtruded upon men's consciences as a matter necessary to salvation by the Canons of the late conventicle of Trent."

George Herbert, A.D. 1630--In describing the "Parson comforting," says: "Besides this, in visiting the sick or otherwise afflicted he followeth the Church's counsel--namely, in persuading them to a particular confession, laboring to make them understand the great good use of this antient and pious ordinance, and how necessary it is in some cases."--(Priest to the Temple, chap. xv.)

Nicholas Ferrar, died A.D. 1687--The Bishop of Peterborough "came to him two days before he died ... who gave him Absolution, and with many tears departed."--(Last Hours of Eminent Christians, p. 85.)

Chillingworth, A.D. 1640--Author of the "Religion of Protestants," quoting Usher: "Be it known to our adversaries of Rome ('I add also,' says Chillingworth, 'to our adversaries in Great Britain,,who sell their private fancies for the doctrine of the Church,') that no kind of confession either public or private is disallowed by our Church ... . and this truth being evident in Scripture, and in the writings of the ancient best times of the Primitive Church, the safest interpreters of Scripture, I make no question, but there will not be found one person amongst you, who, when he shall be in a calm, impartial condition, will offer to deny it."

Bishop Morton, A.D. 1659--Who wrote against the "Superstitions of the Roman Mass," says, "It is not questioned between us whether it be convenient for a man burdened with sin to lay open his conscience in private unto the minister of God, and to seek at his hands both the counsel of instruction and the comfort of God's pardon; but whether there be (as from CHRIST'S institution) such an absolute necessity of this private confession, as that without it there can be no remission or pardon hoped for from GOD."--(Catholic's Appeal, Bk. II., ch. xiv.)

Jeremy Taylor--In his "Guide for the Penitent," says, "Yet [18/19] you are advised by the Church under whose discipline you live, that before you are to receive the Holy Sacrament, or when you are visited with any dangerous sickness, if you find any one particular sin or more that lies heavy upon you, to disburden yourfelf of it into the bosom of your Confessor, who not only stands between God and you to pray for you, but hath the power of the keys committed to him, upon your true repentance, to absolve you in CHRIST'S stead from those sins which you have confessed to him."--(Advice Concerning Confession, p. 105.)

Jeremy Taylor, A.D. 1667--In his "Dissuasive from Popery" says, "Whether to confess to a Priest be an advisable discipline ... . and a good instance, instrument and ministry to repentance ... is no part of the question. ... The Church of England is no way engaged against it, but advises it, practises it."--(Part II. vii. § 11.)

Bishop Cosin, A.D. 1672--Preaching the funeral sermon of a Mrs. Holmes, says: "The preparation to her end was by humble contention and hearty confession of her sins; which when she had done, she received the benefit of Absolution, according to God's ordinance, and the religious institutions of our Church; a thing which the world looks not after now, as if confession and absolution were some strange superstitious things among us, which yet the Church has taken such care to preserve."--(Cosin, Vol. I., p. 28.)

Barrow--Author of a book on the supremacy of the Pope, says: "They remit sins dispensative by consigning pardon in administration of the Sacraments, especially in conferring Baptism ... . and in absolving of penitents, wherein grace is exhibited [i.e. conferred], and ratified by imposition of hands, the which S. Paul calls carizesqai to bestow grace or favor on the penitent."--(Power of the Keys.)

Bishop Sparrow, A.D. 1685.--"He then that assents to the Church of England, or believes the Scriptures, or gives credit to the ancient Fathers, cannot deny the priest the power of remitting sins; of absolving from sins all such as patiently confess unto them; and since he can in the name of God forgive us our sins, good reason we should make our confession to him."--(Sermon on Confession and Absolution.)

[20] Bishop Pearson, A.D. 1686--Writes thus to a nonconformist: "This comfort must be taken away from you, for if ... . you 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 sins,' you will never acquiesce in the Absolution, where you acknowledge no Commission, nor can you expect any efficacy which dependeth upon the authority."--(Minor Works, Vol. II., p. 292.

Bishop Beveridge, A.D. 1708.--"'Receive ye the HOLY Ghost, etc.,' as if He should have said, 'I, the Son of MAN, having power upon earth also to forgive sins, do now commit the same to you; so that whose sins soever are remitted or retained by you are so by me also.' ... This power, how great soever it be, it is but ministerial. ... Yea, whatsoever power they have of this nature, it is still His power in their hands; they derive it continually from Him who is always present with them. And, therefore, as they themselves need to have a care how they exert this power, or neglect the exerting of it, 80 others had need take care too, that they neither resist nor despise it."--(Sermons on Church, Vol. I. p. 14.)

Bishop Ken, A.D. 1710.--"I then advised 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 unburden your soul freely to him; that besides his ghostly counsel, you may receive the benefit of Absolution."

Archbishop Sharpe, A.D. 1714.--"Confession to a minister is always lawful and sometimes expedient, and if people amongst us did more practice it, there is no doubt they would find both great comfort and great benefit thereby."

Bishop Berkeley, A.D. 1753.--"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.)

Bishop Wilson, A.D. 1755.--"And now, if the sick person has been so dealt with as to be duly sensible of his condition, he [20/21] should then be instructed in the nature and benefits of confession (at least of such sins as do trouble his conscience) and of Absolution."--Parochialia, p. 426.

Dr. Moberly, A.D., 1868.--Finally I beg to quote Dr. Moberly, the Bampton Lecturer for 1868, and present Bishop of Salisbury: "Oh let no shrinking from the honest and faithful use of the Divinely descended powers, that come to the Church and to her Priest from the holy words and breath of CHRIST, let no base fears of worldly objection lead a Priest of God to grudge to his dying brother the clear outspoken ringing words of Holy Absolution, which the Church has put into his mouth, which the sad sinner humbly and heartily craves, which his faithful full confession has earned! Do not mock the dying patient by reminding him that he too is a physician. Do not cheat the broken hearted penitent by telling him that he is a priest himself. God has given to you, and to none but you, the very anodyne for his soul's pain. You are cruel, you are faithless, you are untrue to your Holy Calling and Duty, if out of fear of man, you shrink from using it."--(Bampton Lectures, 1868, pp. 226, 227.

VI. Unction.

When I was ordained to the Priesthood, I solemnly promised to give diligence, "so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments:

[1st.] As the Lord hath commanded, and
[2nd.] As the Church hath received the same."

St. James, the Apostle, commands as follows, viz.:

"Is any sick among you? Let him send for the Elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the LORD shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him."

This, as described and commanded by St. James, viz., Prayer with Anointing, is what I mean by the Sacrament of Unction. And as, according to the Homilies, "Absolution hath "for its Sacramental grace a promise, viz.: "the promise of forgiveness of sins," so, according to St. James, Unction hath also promise, viz.: "The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the LORD [21/22] shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him."

As St. James could not have commanded the above against the Will of the LORD, but, quite the contrary, in accordance with that Will, I hold that the word of the inspired Apostle comes to us as the Word of the LORD, that the LORD, therefore, if not directly, at least indirectly, commanded Unction; and that it must be well pleasing in His sight, and not to be despised. I am not unaware, of course, of the Protestant claim, that this passage of St. James related, not to a function that was to continue in the Church, but to a miraculous power, with the disappearance of which Unction was to disappear. But to say nothing of the fact that all priests in Apostolic time were not gifted with miraculous powers, while this inspired passage speaks of sending for any priest without distinction, I can conceive of no argument calculated to break down Unction as a rite of perpetual obligation, which will not, at the same time, work like disaster to the Sacrament of Confirmation.

But furthermore, I am not only to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments "as the LORD hath commanded," but also "as this Church hath received the same."

"This Church" teaches me that she has not invented but has received her Doctrine and Sacraments from the Early Church; and that her intention is to hold that Doctrine and those Sacraments in their purity and completeness. I understand "the Early Church" to have had its beginning at the death of our Lose, and to cover at least the period of the Four Undisputed General Councils. [The reader will please observe that the writer has adopted the phraseology of those who are desirous of limiting the existence of "the Early Church."] I hold that Unction of the Sick was a Sacramental feature of the Early Church, as appeareth to my mind from the following, viz.:

Prudentius (A.D. 375) in a monument of his--namely, his Ritual--recently made public, speaks of Unction. And St. Ephrem (A.D. 370) in his XLVI. sermon adv. Haeres, arguing against the Marcionites, that the body or flesh is not from the Devil, also speaks of Unction in the following passage, as though it were a well known custom in his day, viz.:

[23] "If it happen to thee when sick that the medicines of the physicians are of no avail, the Priests piously bring thee aid; they pray for thy salvation and safety, and one indeed breathes into thy mouth, while another signs thee. What if (O flesh!) thou derive thine origin from the Devil! It follows, assuredly, that they bless and sign the sick man in the name of the Devil."

Besides, as the Greeks would not be likely to adopt anything from the Latins after the Great Schism, so the Nestorians would not be likely to adopt anything subsequently from the Catholic Body, from which they were cut off. But the Nestorian Schism took place about A.D. 433. And the agreement of the Nestorians with the Greeks and Latins, to say nothing of the Armenians and all the Orientals, in the use of Unction, replaces such meagreness of tradition on the subject as there is; "so that," as Bishop Forbes of Scotland, says, in his explanation of the Thirty-nine Articles, "one cannot doubt that a Sacramental use of anointing the sick has been from the beginning." At any rate, from the above remark of the Bishop of Brechin, it appears that, to hold that Unction was a Sacramental feature of the Early Church is at least an allowable opinion in the Anglican Communion, and is taught by those to whom Presbyters look as authority.

It is very clear, moreover, to my mind that, Unction came out of the Early Church with a weight of authority so heavy as to cause it to prevail unquestioned throughout all branches of the Church Catholic afterwards for a whole millennium, how bitterly hostile soever those branches may have been to each other on other points.

I hold, then, that Unction, being commanded by the Apostle, and being a feature of the Early Church, is Apostolic and Catholic; and that this Church, being also Apostolic and Catholic, hath received the said rite from the early Church, and holds it in her treasury.

Of course, my language in the sermon was guarded; it was not that "all [the above-named Sacraments] were equally held up." My words were, that they were "all really held up." For it must be confessed that the Sacrament of Unction, however venerable in its primitive and right use, had been diverted from its original purpose and intent by Roman innovations. Notwithstanding those innovations, I hold that this Church hath [23/24] received the Sacrament, purified it, and placed it in her treasury. But whether she, either on the principle of reserve in giving that which is holy to the world until the world can rightly appreciate and properly use it, or for any other reason which subsequent time may consider, or which experience may have proved to be sufficient or insufficient, whether, I say, this Church, having thus received Unction from the Early Church, and holding it in its purity, saw fit, in view of the changes which had long obscured its proper character, to hand it over at once to her Priests for practical use, is a totally different matter. I can only say that if I am "to minister the Sacraments as the Lord," either directly or indirectly, "hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same," and if I am barred from doing so in this case of Unction for any reason over which I have no control, the responsibility is not mine.

But, at any rate, I hold that whatever obstructions this Church may have thrown in the way of the practical administration of Unction, she has taken the utmost caution never any where to condemn the Sacrament in its proper use, neither in her Articles, nor by exscinding the Office for Unction from her Prayer-Book.

1st. I hold that in her Article XXV., she by no means rejects Unction in its proper use and entirety, but only the abuses that had grown up round it, and the alterations which, under the manipulations of Rome, had taken place in it; that she could not have meant to reject Unction itself in its proper use and entirety, as this interpretation would make her, by the Articles, reject also and entirely the other four Sacraments which she couples with it--namely, Ordination, Confirmation, Absolution, and Matrimony.

2d. In the First Prayer-Book of Edward (1549) the Anglican Church gave an Office for Unction. In the Second Book of Edward (1552) she left that Office out. But from the very frequent extolling of the Early Church, from her often appealing to the Fathers of that Church as authorities, and from her frequent holding of that Early Church up to us as the model of a pure Christian System, she teaches me that, in whatever she does she is very far from intending to depart from the Doctrines and Sacraments of that Early Church. Nothwithstanding, then, [24/25] she cut the Office out, I hold that she did not condemn Unction, or deny it a place among the Sacraments of Holy Church.

I do not here (and I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not) lay down the broad statement that omission may never imply condemnation on her part. It may or may not. With that question I have nothing to do now. I confine myself strictly to the case of Unction.

But this view--that excision in the case of Unction is not intended by this Church to mean condemnation--becomes something more than a mere inference since the celebrated decision of Sir Herbert Jenner Fust, in the case of Woolfrey vs. Nelson, in the analogous matter of Prayers for the Dead. In the First Book of Edward, both the Eucharistic Office and the Burial Rite contained Prayers for the Departed. That Book also contained an Office for Unction.

In the Second Book of Edward, these Prayers for the Departed were entirely omitted from the Eucharistic Rite, and so modified in the Burial Office that it is only constructively that the words are a Prayer for the Departed. In the same Second Book the Office for Unction was also omitted. Yet, the ecclesiastical judge decided (and the decision stands undisputed today), that such omission of Prayers for the Dead did not in any way prohibit Prayers for the Dead, but that they were still allowed, and that the Ancient Catholic Doctrine of the benefit of the Intercession of the living for the Departed was still the doctrine of our Branch of the Church. I hold, therefore, that the omission of the Office for Unction did not, in any way, condemn the Ancient Catholic Sacrament of Unction.

Nor in this case of Unction does this Church leave me to infer merely that she does not mean to condemn the Sacrament in its proper use. For

1st. She tells me (First Act of Uniformity) that Edward's First Book, containing her Reformed Office for Unction, was composed "under the influence of the Holy Ghost."

2d. And, moreover afterwards, in 1552, even upon her exscinding her Reformed Office for the Administration of Unction, he takes care to instruct us (Act of Uniformity, etc., 5th & 6th [25/26] Edward VI., c. 1) that the said First Prayer-Book of Edward, containing the Form for Anointing a Sick Man, was "a very Godly Order, agreeable to the Word of God and the Primitive Church, very comfortable to all good people desiring to live in Christian conversation," and that such alterations as she had made in the Book were made very unwillingly, and simply to induce, if possible, "people in divers parts of this realm, following their own sensuality and living either without knowledge or due fear of God," who "do wilfully and damnably before ALMIGHTY GOD abstain and refuse to come to their Parish Churches," and whose objections to the said First Book of Edward she distinctly declares in the same document to have arisen "rather from the curiosity of mistakers than of any other worthy cause," to return to the worship of God again.

Nay, further, I am sure that Unction could not have been condemned by her, as otherwise it could not have been administered from time to time in the English Church since 1552; nor would the English Church have continued in communion with the Scottish Church, in which, subsequently to 1552, it was notoriously practiced.

In 1784 the Scottish Bishops, Kilgour, Skinner and Petrie, entered into a "Concordat "with Bishop Seabury--the Scottish Bishops for themselves and their successors in office, and Bishop Seabury for himself and his successors in office,--according to the terms of which, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut was "to be in full communion with the Episcopal Church in Scotland." To say nothing of the fact that Unction of the Sick had before that time been in use in the Scottish Church, and that the English Church continued its communion with the Scottish notwithstanding,--to say nothing of the fact that the Scottish Church had not at that time (as she has not since) formally condemned Unction (although its practice had fallen into disuse), the late Scottish Bishop Jolly, of Moray,--remembered for his saintly asceticism--(born 1755, died 1838,) was wont to Anoint the Sick without let or hindrance either from the Scottish, the English, or the Church in the Diocese of Connecticut. And Unction is still not without its occasional use in that Scottish Church to-day. Nay, the writer of No. 3, in "Essays on Theological Subjects" (p. 167), (Longmans, 1867) states that two [26/27] Bishops, at least, of the English Church, also have consecrated oil for the purpose of Unction.

Were I tempted to say, however, under the general neglect of this Sacrament, "Unction is the lost Pleiad in our firmament," or were I tempted to say, "My Mother, the Church, halts in this matter of Unction," a filial reverence for her, and a knowledge of the extreme caution she has ever exercised in all she has done, would give me pause, and the above facts would close my lips in silence; especially as she has by no means told us in her XXVth Article not to follow the Apostles, but only not to follow them deviously by corrupting their Rites.

In fine, I hold, 1st. That Unction of the Sick in its right use is Apostolic and Catholic, and is one of the Sacramental Rites of Christianity; 2d. That its omission from our Prayer-Book, whatever obstructions said omission may place in the way of its practical use, is not its condemnation by this Church, but that this Church still holds it in her treasury; and, 3d. That the Anglican Communion sets Unction up to the extent that she calls the First Prayer-Book of Edward, which contained an Office for its administration, not only a book "composed under the influence of the Holy Ghost," but also "a very Godlye Ordre, agreeable to the Word of God and the Primitive Church, very comfortable to all good people desiring to live in Christian conversation." I hold that she sets it up to the extent that in her XXVth Article she speaks of it to me as in some sense a Sacrament, condemning, as she does so, the Roman corruptions that have grown upon the ancient Apostolic Rite, and warning me not against "following of the Apostles," but against "the corrupt following of the Apostles." I hold that she sets it up to the extent that she believes St. James' Epistle to be the Word of God. I hold that she sets it up to the extent that she extols the Early Church, in whose system it entered as, in the language of Innocent I. (A.D. 416), a "kind of Sacrament." I hold that she sets it up to the extent that it has been a tradition with the Scottish and the English Churches, with which we are at one, and is to-day practised in those Churches. Finally, I hold that she sets it up to the extent that, in all she hath done, she hath ever paused to consider the very grave results that would follow to herself, were she proved on any important point not to be at [27/28] one, or were she to make any formal declaration leaving her not at one, with the Early Church, or with whatsoever hath received the consent of the whole Catholic Church in all its branches at any one considerable period of its existence.

I can well understand that, in the wide divergence of views in our Church, I may hold doctrine from which, Right Reverend Father, you totally dissent. But, however wide apart our views on any or all of the above points, I cannot but think that you will agree with me that the teaching inculcated by my words as above defined, is in harmony with views held and taught by great Divines of our Church, not only in the present, but in the past--views dear beyond all price to thousands of earnest and loving and loyal sons of the Church in England and America; that such teaching is clearly within the limits of that doctrine which has been, and is, allowed in the Anglican Communion; and that however you may differ from such teaching, or however you may regret the frame of language in which it was set, it is not, at any rate, to be claimed that it is "teaching which contravenes the doctrine of our Church," or that it puts in place of that doctrine "something entirely alien from it" and "utterly hostile to it."

My profound respect for your sacred character as a chief Pastor, stirs within me true regret, Right Reverend Father, that any act of mine should have caused you one moment's annoyance, or one moment's solicitude, either for the welfare of your Diocese, or lest the integrity of the Faith and Doctrine of the Anglican Church (to which, as the Mother that bore us in the waters of her Baptism, we each owe gratitude and allegiance) should receive the slightest detriment. And am I too bold in saying, that the cordial relations which have existed between us since the death of the lamented Ducachet brought us together, and gave me the honor of your acquaintance, and that a memory of the kindly manner in which you have ever received me, very much deepen my regret, the expression of which I beg you to accept.

That in these critical times God may grant to all of us wisdom and the spirit of loyalty to Catholic Truth, that He may vouchsafe to those of us who serve in inferior ministries, prudence, a deep humility, and a filial reverence for those who are [28/29] set over us in the LORD, and that He may fill you with the riches of His grace in the exercise of your high office, and make it hereafter "your crown and joy," is the devout prayer of

Your faithful servant
In the Catholic Church,


Bishop of Connecticut, Middletown, Conn.


MIDDLETOWN, March 7th, 1870.


On returning home an hour ago from my visitation duties, I found your letter of Feb. 25th, which, I am told, arrived on Saturday.

I acknowledge the receipt of it at once, because absence from home and a special press of work upon me just now, must cause a delay of two weeks, or thereabouts, before I can give it due attention. And then, after I have read it and reached a conclusion in my own mind, it will be my duty, I think, to submit the conclusion, whatever it may be, to the consideration of my Council of Advice. In a matter of such gravity I feel bound to use all means to guard against possible error or injustice upon my part.

I am, my Rev. Brother,
Very truly yours,




MIDDLETOWN, CONN., March 29th, 1870.


When I last wrote you I did not anticipate being so long delayed in reading and considering your reply to my letter of Feb. 8th. Circumstances and engagements, which I did not then foresee, have made such demands upon my time that it has not been in my power to give it earlier attention. I regret the delay, but it has been unavoidable.

One purpose mentioned in my note of March 7th, it has not, on consideration, appeared needful to carry out. I have not called together the Standing Committee of the Diocese, and submitted this reply to them. The reasons why I have not, it is hardly worth the while to state.

Technically--and I must frankly say, in my opinion, only technically--I am obliged to rule that your explanations remove you from the penal operation of Canons 2 and 3 of Title II., considered in their letter. But, my Reverend Brother, I do not think that they relieve you from the responsibility of having spoken and taught with an unadvisedness and carelessness which are very deplorable, if not absolutely culpable. Nor does the fact that, technically, you stand outside the operation of the letter of the law, at all diminish the weight of this responsibility. Those are not always the lightest evils against which no law can provide.

Allow me to call your attention to the precise position in which your explanations place you--namely, this: That in a sermon, first preached, and then printed in a daily newspaper, you employed, without a word of explanation, language which, unexplained, must, of very necessity, perplex, distress, and mislead many of your bearers and readers. Now, my dear Brother, has any Christian preacher a moral right to do this? Can any after explanations of his language remove the great wrong that has been done, or lessen the pressure of a responsibility which no law can ever adequately provide for, or even express? High among the [30/31] obligations resting on a preacher of God's Word, is the obligation to avoid, so far as possible, all danger of being misunderstood.

As to the word "Sacrament," you tell me that in its strict and exact signification you would apply it only to Baptism and the Holy Eucharist; but that in a looser and less determinate sense, you apply it to other things, how many you will not undertake to say, but are waiting, as to the definite number, till it shall have been determined by the "whole Catholic Church."

Now, of course, every moderately-read theologian knows that the word "Sacrament" can be used in a stricter or a looser sense; though it should never be forgotten that the question, as between us and Rome, is not merely one of definition. But let me ask you, has not this Church (to whose "doctrine, discipline and worship" you and I promised at our several ordinations to conform,) so spoken as to impose on her ministers the absolute duty of explaining, whenever in their teaching they employ the word sacrament in any other than its strict sense, that they are so employing it?

You refer me to the Homilies of Edward VI. and Elizabeth, and to Article XXV. Very well. But, my dear Brother, I beg you to remember that the Synodical action of the Church of England does not terminate with the acceptance of those Homilies, and the setting forth of that Article. None of these reach a later date than 1571. But after the Hampton Court Conference, in 1604, a most valuable and needful addition was made to the Catechism, in which a definition, and a very distinct one, of the word "Sacrament" was given in these terms: "An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given us; ordained by CHRIST Himself; as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."

Now, this definition of the word "Sacrament"--for I hold it to be a proper definition of the word, while the first paragraph of Article XXV. is rather a statement about the thing--has been taught for more than two centuries and a half to the members of our Church. If any have not learned it, it is because of the neglect of parents and sponsors, or else because, having come into our Church at periods of life later than childhood or youth, they have not taken the trouble to ground themselves in these first principles which the Catechism teaches.

When, therefore, the word "Sacrament" is heard or read by [31/32] our people, it conveys to them the idea which the definition above cited expresses, and no other. So that while I do not deny any man's abstract right to use the word in the looser and secondary sense noticed, and to some little extent employed, in the Homilies, I do say that since the year 1604 he has had no right so to use it, without the most plain and distinct statement that he does not mean (in loco) by the word what the Catechism does mean. And here is precisely where your authorities fail to sustain you in your actual position; they explain how the word may be used in another than its strict sense; you employ it in that other sense without explanation.

If, then, a clergyman uses the word in its looser sense, and more especially if he does it in the popular teaching of a sermon, and gives no word of explanation, though he may not be "advisedly" teaching false doctrine, he is, by speaking "unadvisedly with his lips," doing what comes to nearly the same thing. And he is morally, however much he may technically escape the action of the written law--he is morally responsible for all the evil results of his unweighed and careless words.

The same general line of remark applies to the words penance and unction; concerning the former of which I observe that, while in your sermon you used it unhesitatingly and without qualification in enumerating the five loosely-called Sacraments, in making. the same enumeration to me, in a theological statement, you substitute for penance the word absolution. Let that, however, pass.

I understand you to declare that you did not design, in your sermon, to employ the word penance in the Romish sense; and by this declaration, I understand further, (1) that you do not hold that attrition, by the addition of penance, can be accepted in the place of contrition; (2) that you do not hold that Confession must be private, though, under certain circumstances, it may be; (3) that you hold absolution to be ministerial and conditional, not judicial and absolute; and (4) that there is no merit in satisfactions, whether imposed or voluntary, to remove or diminish the temporal punishment of sin, averting, thereby, the anger of God. And by your explanation and disclaimer as to your use of the word "unction," I understand you to declare that you do not mean by the word the "extreme unction" of [32/33] the Roman Church, nor count that unction which you do mean, as "truly and properly a Sacrament of the New Law." So much I must take your explanations as designed to cover.

But, again, my Reverend Brother, these two words, penance and unction, if used without explanation, can convey to the minds of ordinary hearers and readers--and they are the ones who are addressed when sermons are preached and printed--only the ideas of Romish penance and unction. A person so using these words may, afterwards, enter the explanation that he intended to teach neither of those things. Such an one, of course, escapes from the force of the letter of the law. But, in foro conscientiae, he is surely responsible for any and every false impression which an explanation at the time, would he but have taken the trouble to make it, might have removed. And the more carelessly, or possibly defiantly, the unexplained language was uttered, the greater is the offence.

Towards the close of your communication, you appeal earnestly for a fair consideration of "views dear beyond all price to thousands of earnest and loving and loyal sons of the Church in England and America." So far as I am concerned with this, it is my daily prayer to God that I may be kept from dealing unfairly with any views or any persons. But, my Reverend Brother, let me suggest to you that those of whom you speak are not the only persons entitled to respectful consideration. It is always easy to persuade ourselves that any school, or party--I would use that last word, if I may, without offence--absorbs all the orthodoxy, or all the catholicity, or all the piety of the Church, and is therefore entitled to special, if not sole, consideration. But this is never true. And, at least, they who, to unexplained words, are sure to attach a meaning different from that which the speaker or writer intends to convey, are entitled to so much consideration as is involved in not uttering to, or placing before them, words thus calculated to mislead. Men have a right to demand from preachers of God's Word, that language shall be so used as to instruct, not to perplex them. "Take heed that ye offend not one of these little ones."

Moreover, my Brother, it is a very dangerous thing to be using language or doing acts up to the extreme point to which the letter of the law will allow us to go untouched. It nurses a [33/34] hard, unloving, unloyal spirit--a spirit that is ever on the sharp look out for all its rights, and that too often leaves its duties in the background; a spirit that becomes more conversant with its own self-will than with the self-restraints of a generous obedience.

Nor is this all. Such a course, if it becomes habitual, is very likely to end in absolute and utter disobedience. He who always keeps up to the extreme and possible limits which law permits, is almost sure, in time, to overstep those limits. A Christian who, habitually, lives up to the limit of permissible attention to the cares or the pleasures of the world, will probably end by becoming a worldling. A man of business who works up constantly to the limits of honest and honourable dealing, is likely to make sad work with honesty and honor at last. And so for us, Ministers of the Church, bound to conform to her "doctrine, discipline, and worship," to be trying, and perpetually insisting on our right to say things or do things which just keep within the limits of the law, and push up to the very confines of what we may not teach or hold, is to be doing a very deep and serious injury to some of the best and noblest characteristics of our spiritual life; to its humility, to its selfrestraint; to the denial of its own will. And it is, besides, to be incurring the danger of becoming violators of that law, by the letter and not by the spirit of which we have regulated our obedience.

I will tax your attention, my Reverend Brother, only a few moments longer. I will not enter into detailed consideration of your arguments and authorities. Many of the former, I must frankly say, seem to me--I will not use a harsher word--very fallacious in their logic, some of the latter, incorrect in fact, or insufficient as evidence.

While, then, as I have already said, you are, in my judgment, technically released from the operation of the law, you are still, it seems to me, placed in a very serious position of responsibility for the language which you have employed. So that while I do not feel obliged to inhibit you from officiating in this Diocese, I do feel compelled, most earnestly and distinctly to urge upon you, that if you preach again within the limits of my jurisdiction, you will either use language not likely to puzzle or mislead, [34/35] or else will, at the time, furnish to your hearers such an explanation of the terms you choose to employ, as may, measurably at least, relieve them from the danger of misunderstanding you.

All this, my Reverend Brother, is any thing but pleasant to me in the writing. But I could not say less: and I will not say more. If I have erred in my decision, it is not on the side of severity. Had the Canon provided against incorrect teaching concerning the Church, and not against "advised" teaching of doctrine "contrary to the doctrine of Protestant Episcopal Church," my decision would not have been what it now is.

May the good LORD have us both, may He have all Pastors and people, in His holy keeping!

I remain, your brother in CHRIST,

Bishop of Connecticut.



April 4th, 1870.



I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of March 29th. It appears to call for an answer at my hands.

As soon as the increasing duties of Passion Tide are over, I shall have time to reply to the fresh charges it makes and the new issues it raises.

That God may guide and calm all the shepherds of His flock in these days of agitation, and overrule all errors to the good of His beloved Church, is the prayer of

Very faithfully yours,



NEW YORK, May 6th, 1870.


My parochial duties during Passion Tide, and since Easter, the cares of preparing candidates for Confirmation, have prevented my calm consideration of your letter of March 29th, until now.

It might seem that any further word from me were unbecoming, as at least calculated, even though it were not intended, to draw a Prelate of the Church from the dignity of his position down into a discussion with a Presbyter. Such a thing is farthest from my purpose. For I beg you to believe that I am by no means forgetful of the fact, that your high office "is to pronounce and arbitrate, not to dispute with those over whom you are placed in the LORD."

It seems necessary for me to say, then, that I write, neither with the design of prolonging this correspondence, nor to enter into further discussion touching points, on which, while respecting others who differ with me, I firmly believe myself to be right; but in order to answer certain things, in which, not now my theology is faulted, but my fidelity as a Christian teacher is at stake; or, if not this, at least my liability is assumed to commit the gravest errors through an unguarded use of language, thereby exposing to just question my right to continue longer as a Christian Pastor.

For I understand you to retire from the position that my words, which you quoted in your first letter, necessarily "contravened the doctrine of the Church, and put in place of that doctrine something not only entirely alien from it, but utterly hostile to it," and to make now one or two new points, as follows, viz.:

First. You claim, that, when, after my speaking of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, I mentioned that there were yet "other [36/37] Sacraments set down in the Prayer Book and Homilies," (thereby implying that they were of after consideration, and secondary to the two great Sacraments), I was "culpably careless," and my conduct "deplorable," in that I did not pause to define the word Sacrament as it is defined by the Church in her Homilies and Prayer Book. You claim that by my not doing so, I had wronged the people entrusted to your care, and that I was under a high obligation to avoid being misunderstood; and you ask me whether I had a moral right to use such language unexplained.

I do not know that I should have responded at all had you not put me this question.

In answer, I beg to remark that Article XXXV. tells us that the Homilies "contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine necessary for these times," and that, therefore, they are to be "read in Churches by the ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people. And although, in the American Church it is provided that the Homilies themselves be not read, till they are "cleared from obsolete words and phrases," and from "local references" to England, yet, I do not know that any clergyman is released from the obligation of teaching his flock, "the godly and wholesome doctrine which they contain," and had I supposed, Right Reverend Father, that your people were not tolerably acquainted with the fundamental Doctrines of their Church as set down in the Homilies and Prayer Book, I certainly should have paused and explained.

I do not know, however, that it is customary to pause and define theologically every ecclesiastical word that may be liable to be misunderstood. When the word "Catholic "or the word "Regeneration "happens to fall into the current of a discourse, I do not know that it is customary always to pause and define them, merely because there are people who suppose that the one word means "Romanism," and the other "a change of heart."

And as to this phrase "other Sacraments," if the whole question of the Sacraments had not been long and sufficiently agitated in the Church, the case would have been quite different. But the matter has been before the mind of the Church with intensity for over thirty years--even from the times of the Pusey Tracts. Surely those remarkable brochures roused an excitement [37/38] and attracted an attention throughout the Church both in England and America, which in thoroughness were unparalleled and left nothing to be desired. The Doctrine of the Church has been reiterated in print again and again since Dr. Pusey's Letters to the Bishop of Oxford, and to the Bishop of London. When a mere lad I used to hear, not only in Church, but even in Sunday-school, and that, too, not in a great centre of intelligence, but in a small and secluded country town in Massachusetts, as well as subsequently in Boston--of the "other Rites" as being Sacraments, and of the distinction which the Church made between the two greater that were "necessary to salvation," and the other Sacraments that were "not necessary to salvation." Years afterwards I found this same distinction confirmed in Browne's Exposition of the Articles, edited by yourself, a textbook taught, if I mistake not, in the Theological School over which you preside.

Now, after this long agitation, and this wide-spread attention that has been directed to the subject, I certainly have a right to suppose, and particularly in a Church like S. John's, East Hartford, that there is not that dense ignorance on the subject, which would necessitate pausing in the current of a discourse to define a word as applied to the "Five Rites," which ought to be so well known as the word "Sacrament." I have a right to suppose this, particularly, when, as you, Right Reverend Father, distinctly state, in your letter, any merely moderately read Theologian knows of course that the word "Sacrament" can be used in a subordinate sense when applied to the other Rites. I should consider it a grievous wrong to my revered brethren, the Clergy of Connecticut, to suppose, for one moment, that they were not at least moderately read theologians; or to assume any position, when in one of their pulpits, which would even imply that they had been so recreant to their duty as not to have taught their people those primary truths of the Church, which even a moderately read theologian knows as a matter of course. And I should consider it a grievous wrong to the intelligent laity of Connecticut, to have assumed that they were ignorant of a subject, which after having been started into universal notice in the stormy times of the Oxford Tracts, has been agitated, more or less, for over a generation of men.

[39] In reply to your question, I can only, therefore, as it seems to me, admit either the justice or the truth of your theory, that my language was careless and calculated to perplex and mislead my hearers, on a supposition as to the fidelity of your Clergy to the Doctrine of the Church, as set down in her Homilies and Prayer-Book, and on a supposition as to the intelligence of your Diocese and its information on current and long agitated topics, which I am the last man to harbor, and of the truth of which I should find it very difficult to be convinced.

Moreover it is to be borne in mind, that before I used the phrase "other Sacraments," I had distinctly disavowed Roman errors, and had again and again, set our Catholic truth in opposition to Rome on the one hand, and to Protestantism on the other. Very early in my sermon I had used the following unmistakeable language, viz.: "The aim of this Reformation is not to graft Romish errors on the Church, as is feared or ignorantly imagined by some, but to restore the wandering hearts and minds of Churchmen to the blessed doctrines and to the Catholic practices of their own Church, as set down and commanded in her formularies." I impressed upon my hearers that we were not attempting to reform our Church, but to obey her. Now as the Roman Church defines in one way the word "Sacrament" as applied to the "five other rites," and as the Anglican Church defines it in another (as had been fully explained thirty years ago, and many times since) it was certainly to be inferred by any candid and unprejudiced mind among my hearers, that when I used the phrase "other Sacraments," I was using it in the Anglican sense. And as for uncandid and prejudiced minds, I cannot bring myself to think, Right Reverend Father, that you intend to hold me responsible for any deductions they may draw either from what I have said, or may in the future say.

Secondly. Had the Conference at Hampton Court, in 1604, altered that doctrine of the Church touching Sacraments which had been expressed previously in the Homilies, and which is still ordered to be taught, that it may be "understanded of the people," the case would have been quite different, and this Church would have sunk from a Catholic Church into a mere heretical sect. But although you leave such disastrous alteration [39/40] to be inferred (without stating that it took place), it is quite impossible for any loyal Churchman, with the plain terms of Article XXXV. before him to admit the truth of the suggested inference, and, therefore, the justice of the charge of carelessness based upon said inference. For if Overall's definition in the Prayer-Book contradicts the definition in the Homilies, (which latter is to be taught that it "may be understanded of the people") then, I would humbly ask, where are we all, with both Prayer-Book and Homilies binding upon us?

The Church, in her authorized documents, very clearly and very distinctly sets forth a duplicate definition of the word "Sacrament"--first, in its higher sense, and, secondly, in its lower. First: A Sacrament is, in its higher sense, a means which CHRIST personally ordained to convey grace to us, and is, therefore, generally necessary to salvation. Hence the Church asks, How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained? and answers, Two only, as generally necessary to salvation. She then asks again, What meanest thou by this word Sacrament--that is to say, what meanest thou by a Sacrament in its higher sense, as "ordained by CHRIST," and as "generally necessary to salvation"? and answers, "An outward and visible sign ordained by CHRIST Himself as a means to convey grace to us, and a pledge to assure us of the grace conveyed. But, moreover, the Church, unless she stultifies herself by denying the Homilies (the truth of which she asserts), goes on to teach, secondly, that a Sacrament, in its lower sense, is also any outward sign--as, for instance, Confirmation, Ordination, etc.--"whereby an holy thing is signified." Such is the complete doctrine of the Church touching Sacraments, as given in her authorized documents, and she commands it to be taught that it may be "understanded of the people." Now, if there be two sets of men (I do not say there are; but if there be), the one of whom so speak--sometimes by express teaching, and sometimes by allusion--as faithfully, and honestly, and fearlessly to bring out this the complete doctrine of the Church, while the other so speak of the two greater Sacraments exclusively as to spread false doctrine with regard to any others--that is to say, as to lead people not only to deny the name of Sacrament, but even any sacramental character, to Matrimony, for instance, thus fostering divorce laws, or [40/41] to Confirmation, thus fostering its neglect, or to Ordination, thus fostering Congregationalism, or to Absolution, thus fostering the idea that each man is his own priest--it certainly would seem to me that the latter would be the persons who, although, perhaps, technically within the limits of the law, are yet virtually denying the actual and complete doctrine of the Church touching the sacramental system; and that they, and not the former set, are the ones who would be under the very highest of moral obligations to explain their language every time they used the mutilated phrase "two Sacraments only" in their sermons, lest our Church should be held by her own sons, or, still worse, by those not of our Communion, to teach that there are no others to which the name of Sacrament may justly apply. But here let me say, that I was not aware that theology was a tecnh, or that our Church, within whose statements you declare me to be, uses cunning and artificial language to mean something different from what it actually says.

If, then, the Prayer-Book and Homilies do not contradict each other, but if the two together contain the full teaching of the Church touching Sacraments, I can admit the justice of your theory that I spake unadvisedly with my lips, only on the ground that the Clergy of Connecticut have failed to impart that full teaching of the Church to their flocks. You certainly cannot ask me to admit such a supposition for one moment. But surely, for any such neglect as that would be, I am not to be held responsible. What is a stranger visiting a Diocese to do, but to take it for granted that at least the fundamental doctrines of the Church, as set down in the Homilies and Prayer-Book, are taught in that Diocese? as, indeed, I was credibly certified that they were taught (and especially on this point of the Sacraments) in the Parish of St. John's, East Hartford, before I entered its pulpit to preach.

Indeed, I find on a card, entitled

"Doctrine and Instruction,"

printed by the Rector of St. John's, distributed through his Parish, and showing what the general character of his instructions has been--the following, namely:

[42] "The two Sacraments generally necessary to Salvation":

1. Baptism.
2. The Holy Eucharist.

The other five, ordained for certain persons or states of life:

1. Confirmation.
2. Penitence.
3. Orders.
4. Matrimony.
5. Visitation of the Sick, or Extreme Unction.

Thirdly. Nothing can be more true, and in nothing do I more heartily agree with you, than that "the people are entitled to so much consideration as is involved in not uttering to them words calculated to mislead." I may be permitted to say, perhaps, in this connection, that my experence with the people has been that they are far more intelligent than many are disposed to give them credit for. Certainly, in the last General Convention, the laity manifested their full share of information on Church topics. But however this may be, it seems to me that it is to be claimed also for the people that they are justly entitled not to be kept uninformed as to what their Church teaches, that it is their undoubted right to receive the complete doctrine of the Church on fundamentals, steadily from year to year, at the hands of their own pastors. Surely they are entitled not to be left to the casual visit of any stranger for their grounding in such fundamentals.

When, after I had, again and again, distinctly disclaimed Roman errors in my sermon, I spoke of the Sacrament of Penance, you were most certainly warranted, Right Reverend Father, in understanding as you did, that I meant no Roman errors by the phrase, but only that Anglican and Catholic Truth which has been so continuously set forth ever since 1550 A.D., by our leading divines, from Latimer down to Bishop Moberly. And as for Unction in the sermon which contained what you are pleased to call unguarded words, I was especially careful to say just what I meant. Had I meant Extreme Unction, I should have said so. Neither having meant nor said Extreme Unction, I had nothing in my letter to disclaim which I had said in my sermon.

[43] Pardon me, respected Father, if I add a few more words, since other than mere personal interests have necessarily been, to a more or less extent, involved in this correspondence. For the views expressed in my letter of Feb. 25th are those not of myself alone, but of thousands of our communion who think with me. We are not un-alive to the wide-spread desire to crush such opinions out of the Church. Nor are we unaware that in rooting them up, the very ground of the formularies of the Church, out of which they spring to their spontaneous and luxuriant growth would have to be torn to pieces. Far be it from any of us to add unnecessarily to the anxieties of those whose responsibility and care it is to guide the Church safely through these troublous days. We have hitherto manifested, it must be admitted, no disposition to press forward our views through forensic action against those who differ, nor otherwise than by that calm argument under which, long since in England and already in America, such views are so rapidly commending themselves to the great body of the Church. Patiently, hitherto, we have suffered ourselves to be branded as traitors to the Church by those who not only fill her halls with their bold denials of her Fundamental Doctrines, but are now even endeavouring to alter her Formularies.

I believe, however, I was not so grossly discourteous and unjust to many with whom I differ, but whose earnestness in the cause of our common MASTER, and whose sincerity and high spirituality of life I recognize and admire with humility and thankfulness, as to claim for those with whom I agree "All the piety of the Church" as you imply that I did. I certainly did, however, claim for their views the truth. And I am sure I am justified in saying that the day has fully dawned when they decline to ask for those views any bare toleration in this Church, as though they were opinions to be merely suffered, though quite out of place. Certainly it might seem that this Church cannot go on much longer under the profound humiliation of permitting her pulpit to utter to the world "Yes" and "No" in the same breath.

My own personal case sinks into utter insignificance in comparison with all this, and with the grave questions which have been ventilated. Either the views which I have expressed in my letter [43/44] are Doctrines of this Church or they are not. If they are, then we have all been bound to teach them. If they are not, then it becomes something more than a matter of serious doubt as to whether there is a portion of the Catholic Church in America that is pure. For it is a foregone conclusion, at least with such as hold those views, that we cannot look to Rome for other than an adulterated Catholicity; and it is long since settled that such as hold those views will be driven neither out of the great Catholic Church, where is the sustenance of our spiritual life, nor into Rome, where that sustenance is overlaid with so much that is noxious.

You speak of the spirit "which is ever on the sharp look-out for all its rights," as a disposition that is apt to work a deep and serious injury to some of the best and noblest characteristics of our spiritual life. I do not fail to recognise, Right Reverend Father, and to receive with thankfulness the kindliness and wisdom of your words as applicable to ordinary times. But there are times, alas, when for the great and holy cause of Truth, individuals must, if needs be, consent to "endure hardness" and to suffer. There are times, occasionally, when, if men do not claim for themselves and others (as did they of the Sixteenth Century) not punctilios, but the fundamental rights of that Catholicity which the Church, as the higher authority, clearly grants them, but of which wealth or influence, or the passions and prejudices and interests of the day, may seek to deprive them, they would prove recreant to the Truth and even to the integrity of the Church herself. There have been times when obedience to the lesser authority became disobedience to the higher. For, when rights are denied, supineness is treason. From such times may God have mercy upon us, and deliver us, for they are ever stormy and sad.

You speak of other parties in the Church as entitled to consideration. This, those who think with me are very far from denying. Nor have they been unobservant of the almost exclusive consideration that such other parties have hitherto received. Reformations to be healthy must be growths, not cataclysms. Still, there are phenomena that are sufficiently amazing. One man, for instance, is in sympathy with the pure Catholicity of the past, with the Catholic Church of the first six centuries. He [44/45] utters phraseology in harmony with the doctrines of that ancient Church, and, therefore, with the formularies of our own Church. He is eagerly attacked from all quarters, and the words are scarcely out of his mouth before. he is threatened with ecclesiastical punishment. Another man, the very next Sunday, replies to the first, and in doing so denies, not in language which to some might seem of doubtful signification, but in terms open, unmistakeable, and defiant, such fundamental Doctrines of the Church as the Apostolic Succession and the Grace of Holy Baptism. And yet the latter man is treated most tenderly, is left entirely unnoticed and unchecked, and is thus actually encouraged to tear out the very foundations of the Church from under her. I am free to confess, Right Reverend Father, that such facts as the above surprise me more and more; nor yet me alone. If the Present is beginning to ask in louder and louder tones, Why this phenomenon? what will the Future say?

It was only in endeavoring to be a true-hearted believer, not merely in some popular doctrine which is for a day or for a people, but in that broad Catholic truth, which has been, and is, designed to be, for all time, and for the conversion of the nations, that I have spoken and written. I firmly believe it to be the mission of the Church which we love, to forward the Truth of God in this land and in the world as it never has been forwarded since the Seventh Century began to adulterate that truth, and to weaken its power over men. And there are thousands, of whom I am only one humble individual, who, finding from sad observation, that the Church has fallen infinitely short of the object proposed, that she has not taken that position she should hold, that, instead of being the power of the land, two centuries have elapsed, and she still has less influence than many of the sects about her, have asked themselves the reason for this state of affairs. Is it, they ask, the fault of the Church herself, or of many who have professed to render her to the world? They think the latter. All this wretched expediency which is ever attempting to adjust the Catholic Truth of our Church to antagonistic and distinctive Protestant theories, has it ever produced, or will it ever produce, any such vast results among mankind as were wrought in the elder days when our self same pure and primitive Catholicity went forth from Jerusalem, and in less than [45/46] four centuries brought the whole world to its feet? They think not.

Partial Churchmanship has had a fair trial oli the field. We ask now for full Churchmanship a chance to try.

With regard to the request you make towards the close of your epistle, I need not say, Right Reverend Father, I shall gladly and filially endeavor to comply with it; as it is the request of one whose wishes in such a matter would, of course, be my law.

And now, may the Author of Peace and the Lover of Concord give us wisdom, calm, and patience; may He remove from His Church "all suspicions, prejudices, hard thoughts, and judgments, and endue us with such ardent love towards Himself and towards each other, that we may be one in heart, even as Thou, Lord, art One with the FATHER"; may He "regard not our sins, but the faith of His Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is agreeable to His will."

Very faithfully,
Your son in the Church Catholic,


The Bishop of Connecticut, Middletown, Conn.


Delivered by the Rev. F. C. EWER, D.D., of Christ Church, New York, at St. John's Church, East Hartford, Sunday, Jan. 20, 1870.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.--St. Matthew, xvi. 18.

For one hundred years our beloved Church has been the scene of internal turmoil. The Wesleys, the Low Churchmen, the High Churchmen, the Puseyites (so-called), and the Catholics, have each in their turn arisen to disturb its peace. People outside look on and conclude that we belong to an unsettled Church. There is a sense in which their conclusion is false, and there is a sense in which it is true. We do not belong to an unsettled Church; for nothing can be more stable than the Catholic Church to which we belong. And yet it were folly to deny that since the year 1750 there have been vast revolutions in the doctrinal views, the modes of worship, and the religious life of those within her. We must carefully distinguish between the stout and steady ship and the confused crew. If things on board have become mal-adjusted--if the crew. are in the cabin, and the officers in the forecastle, and the sails in the hold, and the cargo on deck, we must expect confusion until all on board is properly adjusted.

I purpose briefly to review the five great movements which have risen in our Church during the last hundred years--namely: First--The Wesleyans; second--the Low Church; third--the High Church; fourth--the Puseyite (so-called); fifth--the Catholic; to show that they are not disconnected disturbances, for each of which we have to blame a small but persistent set of eccentric agitators, but that they are merely the successive stages of one grand development in our Church; that in short we have been for a century on the vast current of a reformation that is slow--not sudden, vast and deep--not superficial, sadly needed, and guided by the hand of that God, who promised that the gates of hell should prevail against His Church. The aim of this reformation in its last results, is not to graft Romish errors on to the Church, as is feared, or ignorantly imagined by some, but to restore the wandering hearts and minds of Churchmen to the blessed doctrines and the Catholic practices of their own Church, as set down and commanded in her formularies.

At the beginning of almost every stage of its progress in the last hundred years, this reformation has been met, and violently opposed by the prejudices of the people and the power of the Episcopate. At almost every [47/48] stage it has been greeted with the derisive cry of "Popery," and has suffered from the violence of mobs. But it has, nevertheless, steadily gone on, dissolving opposition from before its path, and swelling in volume by gathering into itself the very elements that once opposed it. It has slowly filled the chairs once occupied by mere Erastian Bishops, with earnest Low Churchmen; it then gradually filled the chairs vacated by Low Churchmen with High Churchmen; it then deliberately commenced to seat Puseyites (so-called) in the vacated chairs of High Churchmen, and is to-day beginning most unexpectedly to lift Catholics to its Episcopal thrones.

In order to comprehend the five great agitations, and to understand the relationship they bear to each other as the successive steps of one great Reformation, it is necessary to consider the state of things in the century that preceded them. Indeed, the very fact of a series of agitations and changes--the very fact of a Reformation--is sufficient evidence against the time and the Church in which it rises. Reformers may themselves fall into error, but Luther is a standing evidence against Rome, and Wesley and Pusey were standing evidences that something was wrong in England. Nor is it sufficient for us, if we would comprehend the matter fully, to go back simply to that century before Wesley. We must retire still further in time. Go back then to the days of John Tetzel in the sixteenth century. There was crying need for a reformation in the Church.

All Catholic hearts hate Protestantism as a most shrewd and too successful deceit of Satan to break down the truth. But all true Catholics feel, nevertheless, and declare that there was trying need in the Sixteenth Century for an uprising and a crushing out of the evils that had grown up in the Catholic Church. Without saying anything of what was done on the Continent, what did the Church of England do? She rose and threw off the yoke and the false doctrines of Rome. What was her condition as she stood freed from Rome and purified? Were her ideas and doctrines, as still set down in her Prayer-Book, identical with those of the Protestant bodies on the Continent? By no means. Was the outward appearance of her worship anything like theirs? By no means. Was her Church government, or were her rites and ways, like theirs? No. The solitary point of contact between her and them was a common desire to get rid of evils that had crept into Christianity. In all other respects the two differed--differed radically, totally, irreconcilably. The Protestant bodies on the Continent ignored the past, destroyed the Church, and wiped out Catholicity. She, on the other hand, preserved, but purified the Church. If Rome had become "a Church without religion," England did not seek to clear all away, and set up "a religion without a Church." She held that the Church was properly the casket of religion, and religion the soul of the Church. She came out of the Reformation, therefore, as a Reformed Church, Catholic at once in feeling, in doctrine, and in outward appearance. Her altars, and Services, and vestments, were glorious: her Bishops still sat their thrones; she was still united by indissoluble bonds to the Catholic Church of all the past; she still sung the old Hymns and Glorias and Creeds, (as, thank GOD, [48/49] I have heard them sung here to-day,) the Te Deum, Ter Sanctus, the Magnificat; she still used the old Catholic phraseology; she was still indebted, not to moderns, but to St. Osmund, to St. Gregory the Great, to Gelasius, to St. Chrysostom, and to St. John the Divine for her Liturgy; in short, without being Romish, she continued to be still altogether Catholic. Now, what has happened since? From that day to this, Rome, on the ode hand, and Protestantism on the other, have each coveted her and striven to possess her; but hitherto, bless God, both of them in vain. First, Rome struggled to retake her, from the days of Henry the Eighth down to the eleventh year of Queen Bess's reign, when the Pope virtually abandoned the contest. Ever since then, Protestantism has been stretching her greedy clutches towards her. Such was she as a reformed Church in the Sixteenth century. What then took place? I ask you to follow me carefully. Why, the Protestants on the Continent were not satisfied with her. It was not sufficient that she was no longer Romish, she must not even be Catholic. Continental notions of reform, instead of English and Catholic, were pressed upon England and our Church from without. Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer, theologians from the Continent in thorough sympathy with the Continental radical and destructive notions, took seats respectively at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. When Mary came to the throne they fled the country, like a pair of hirelings, that cared more for their precious lives than for the sheep they had come to feed. But Mary soon passed away, and these Continental machinations against the Reformed Catholic Church of England continued and spread through the reigns of Elizabeth, James and Charles I., till at last they came to a head in Cromwell. Then began in good earnest the work of devastation in our Church. But whose hands wrought the ruin? Whose edict hushed the Services of the Church throughout the land for years? Whose axes and hammers broke down her carved work? Whose horses were stabled in her sanctuaries? Whose vandal hands stripped off her garments, put out her lights, and tore away all her glories? Was it the hands of Churchmen--of friends? No. It was Cromwell and the Roundheads. It was enemies that hated her, and hated all her Catholic ways--it was Congregationalism. When Cromwell passed away like a spasm, the effects he had wrought in the Church he hated did not so soon pass away. We feel them to this very day, and on another continent.

The Church rose from the heavy blows of the Commonwealth, staggering and stripped and stunned, and was glad enough to get back even her poor surplice. And then there followed a whole century of coldness, deadness, and desolation. Her sad condition was such that we of to-day can hardly realize that it ever could have been. But there was one thing that Cromwell had not availed to obliterate, and that was her Prayer-Book and Formularies. The Prayer-Book was neglected, its Rubrics were disregarded, its Doctrines forgotten, or disbelieved by the mass of the Clergy and the People. Nevertheless, there stood the Prayer-Book in the Church as of old, still holding aloft for the acceptance of her [49/50] children the Catholic Doctrines and Practices. What if her children within her had altered, she was not altered, and the day was bound to come, sooner or later, when her children would be seated within her, clothed and in their right mind.

The cold, dead Century that followed the devastation of Cromwell, was the period of the fox-hunting Parsons. The churches were comparatively empty. "Baptism, as a Sacrament, was well nigh lost among the English people. Common basins were brought into the churches, while the fonts were made into flower-pots for the garden of the parsonage. The Prayers in the Baptismal Office was frequently altered in the recitation or altogether omitted, the water was frequently not blessed or consecrated." It was a period when there was galleries above, "multiform boxes of the gentry and tradesmen below, the squire's drawing-room pew with his sofa and his stove." The poor sat near the door with their backs toward the Chancel. Services, provided in the Prayer-Book, were unsaid. The Surplice was all the garment that remained. Not one of her candles was lighted; not one of her censers smoked. The solitary relic of all her glories as a Reformed Church was here and there a red Altar Cloth. There were two Services only on Sundays, and they as cold as marble. In these two Services the Parson droned out his part, and the Clerk alone droned out the responses. They were the days of the three-decker pulpits and of Altars garnished with huge cushions, one at either end, into which the Clergy when at Prayers plunged their elbows and heads. "On the Altar at S. Paul's Cathedral it was no uncommon thing to see hats and cloaks piled up on occasions of great meetings, as though it were no more than a common table." In many churches the Holy Communion was celebrated only once a year; in others only at intervals of several years. Lent and other Seasons were unobserved. The tide of irreverence was at its very lowest ebb. But worse than all, the very Doctrines of the Prayer-Book were disbelieved.

But God in His mercy was not pleased to permit this state of things to continue. The gates of hell should not prevail against His Church. And so at length in the middle of the Eighteenth Century, a great movement, a great Reformation was begun, which has continued in various stages to this day. A movement, the meaning of which is simply and solely the restoration of the Church from the devastations which outsiders made in her. It was a movement to lay hold of the Church and bring her out of her coma, to shake and warm her into life, to restore her people to her own Doctrines, one after another, which they disbelieved, or which, because those doctrines were Catholic, her people identified with Popery; to restore her customs, to restore her glories which had been torn away by her foes, and lay deserted in the dust; to bring back her Spiritual life, till at last she should stand rehabilitated in her conservative Catholic position, just as independent of continental Protestantism as she had before become of Rome. We use the word Catholic. Why? Because a Protestant may protest against error, and at the same time be in error himself. But a Catholic opposes all error, standing himself in the truth.

[51] To recapitulate: In the Fifteenth Century, our Church was Roman. In the Sixteenth, she reformed, threw off Popery, and became Catholic. But, very soon after that, foes arose on the other side; Continental Protestantism coveted her; so, in the Seventeenth Century, the Protestants attacked and enslaved her. But at last, under God, in the Eighteenth Century, John Wesley started the cry of independence for her, and, in the Nineteenth, the last blow is being struck by the Catholics within her, which shall sever her from her Protestant masters, and so leave her free at once from them and from Rome.

GOD moved, I say, to rescue His Church in England from her deadness and from her neglect of her own doctrines and customs. Now, what was the first step in this glorious work of restoration? Why, it was to rouge the Church out of her lethargy, to put earnest Christian feeling and life into her. For, on the other hand, to restore neglected doctrines, as a first step, would have failed. The Church was to be waked up first, before she would very much care about doctrines, one way or the other. So John and Charles Wesley were raised up as agents in the hand of God to start the great movement whose throbbings have not ceased yet.

They struck, of course, against the dead, stagnant body of the Church; and of course there arose a disturbance. It was their mission--their part in the whole movement of the Century--to wake up the Church and inspire some little spirit of earnestness into it. This they did very effectually by their thundering preaching. But what happened? The stagnant mass of the Church was cold and stiff and sleepy. It did not wish to be disturbed by anything new. The old order of things was well enough. Let the parsons fox-hunt. What do you want with more than two sober Services in church once a week? Let the squire and people sleep during the sermon. What do you want to violate proprieties for? The Wesleys must be suppressed. They were introducing all sorts of innovations in the established order of things. Long-settled custom in the Church was against them. So the Wesleys were pelted in the streets; their preachers were hooted down; their meetings disturbed and broken up. Finally, the party of repose succeeded, by means of mobs and various other effectual arguments, in driving the Methodists out of the Church. But, meantime, the mission of Wesley and his friends in the Church had been accomplished. For, at any rate, by their means the Church was effectually roused from its sleep. And we do not propose that it shall go to sleep again--at least, until she is perfectly free, not only from the baneful influence, but even from this shameful, cringing dread of Protestantism and what it may say or think, exhibited by so many Churchmen.

Now, what was the next step in the great movement, and who were they that fought the second battle of the great campaign? Why, they were the Evangelicals, or Low Churchmen. Let us never cease to thank them; all honor to them in their day; they did a noble work. But for them we should not be so advanced in the work of restoration as we are to-day. For there was the doctrine of the Atonement, that had fallen into decay. [51/52] It was one of the doctrines of our Church as a reformed body, and it was to be rescued from neglect and set up again as a living truth in the Church. So the Low Churchmen were raised up as agents in the hand of God to work out the second stage of the campaign. They triumphed in their day and became the overwhelming majority in the Church.

But the Atonement was not the only Church doctrine that had fallen into decay. There was the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession; there were the two Sacraments of Baptism and the LORD'S Supper. These also needed to be lifted from their fallen estate and set up in the Church as much as the Atonement. The great work of restoration must not stop where the Low Churchmen left it. So then the old-fashioned High Churchmen were raised up as agents in the hands of God to fight the third battle of the campaign.

Now, it is a law running through this whole Reformation that God does not call upon any one army to fight all the successive battles of the war. When one army has made its fight and won its victory; when it has accomplished its part of the Catholic restoration which God gave it to do, then that army rests on its weapons--nay, encamps permanently on the field it has won, and ceases work.

The Low Churchmen, therefore, having made their one fight, paused, and allied themselves with the stagnant body of the Church to resist the further advance of the great movement. Hence the High Churchmen, in rising to urge the Church's doctrine of Apostolic Succession and the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper upon the attention and acceptance of the members of the Church, were compelled to strike against and move the whole stagnant body of the Church composed of the party not yet waked up, reinforced by the Low Churchmen who had come to a pause. Of course there was another turmoil. But at last the High Churchmen triumphed; in their turn they became the majority sentiment in the Church; and in their turn settled down with the Low Churchmen to resist all further progress of the movement.

But was the work of restoration complete yet? No; there were yet customs and doctrines and other Sacraments set down in the Prayer-Book and Homilies, as truly part and parcel of our Church, as was the Atonement or the Apostolic Succession, or Baptism or the Eucharist. So thirty years ago the fourth great battle of the campaign was set in array. There were Lent and Advent, the Saints' days and other seasons of the year, the observance of which the Prayer-Book commanded; there was daily Morning Prayer, there was fasting, there was the great central doctrine of the Incarnation, there was the whole supernatural system of the Church, with the sacramental grace of Confirmation and Ordination, Penance and Marriage and Unction, and there was the doctrine of the Real Presence and of Catholic Authority, all neglected, but all really held up for acceptance by our Church. So thirty years ago Pusey and Keble, and the Wilberforces and others, were raised up as agents in the hands of God to fight the fourth battle. Of course they were compelled to strike the stagnant body of the [52/53] Church, consisting now of the Low Churchmen and the old-fashioned High Churchmen who had come to a pause. And as a matter of course there was another turmoil. The Durham letter appeared, and St. Barnabas, London, and St. George's in the East and other Churches were attacked by mobs for doing the very things that almost everybody does now, and holding the very doctrines of the Prayer-Book that the great majority hold now in quiet, and with a thorough realization at last that they are practices and doctrines of our beloved Church, and not Popish errors at all. But at last the battle of the Oxford divines has been fought and won. Pusey was suspended, but when at the end of ten years he was relieved, in his very first sermon, he reiterated the very doctrine of the Real Presence for which he had been suspended, but which had meantime become generally accepted as the doctrine really set forth by our Church. And the very principles of Tract No. 90, which created such excitement thirty years ago, are re-stated by him in his excellent book Eirenicon to-day, without producing the slightest disturbance. The battle of the Oxford tracts is fought and won. The remainder of the once neglected Catholic doctrines of our Church as set down in her Prayer-Book--why, the majority in the Church are more or lees awake to their deep importance and the necessity of their acceptance. The old High Churchmen have steadily become higher, and meantime so many Low Churchmen have joined the lower end of the High Church party, that pure old-fashioned radical Low Churchmanship is to-day a mere fag-end, hanging to the skirts of the Church. One of its eminent leaders, Lord Shaftesbury, has indeed declared that there is no hope for it; that, to use his own words, "Nothing but a miracle will save the Evangelical party." There is nothing left for it but in its despair to cry aloud, as it is doing to-day, that the Prayer-Book be altered so as not to express the doctrines which the dreadful Puseyites hold. The fact is the Evangelicals are an anachronism. They belong to a past era. They did their work for the Atonement in their day; they did it well; and it is fitting they should now pass from the scene. The fourth battle of the great campaign I say is won: Lent is kept, Saints' days are kept, Churches are open at least for daily Morning and Evening Prayer; Choral Services, and Fasting, and the use of the Cross in worship, and Bowing at the Sacred Name, are no longer regarded as Popish except by persons of a past era, who lap over into the present without realizing that there has been a battle and a victory. And the great majority of Bishops, clergy and laity accept at least, with more or less heartiness, the Church's great doctrine once so neglected or repudiated, namely, that the Inward part or thing signified in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is just what the Church's Catechism had all along stated it to be, namely, the Body and Blood of our LORD JESUS CHRIST really present.

The Church having thus been first aroused by the Wesleys, and then waked up afterwards to her neglected doctrines, one after another--first by the Low Churchmen, then by the High Churchmen, then by the Oxford Divines, the remainder of the great reformation belongs to to-day. One more battle, and the work of restoration is complete.

[54] Therefore, as Pusey retires from the field, the Catholics come out to-day as agents in the hands of God, to fight this fifth and last battle. It is not strange that they, too, should strike against stagnation in the Church. It is what each previous stage in the whole Reformation has had to encounter. Nor is it strange that the Catholics should be mobbed. That, too, the past would teach them to expect. But it would be very strange if God did not finish the work He began. I have shown you what the mission of each of the parties that have preceded the Catholics was--that is to say, what part in the great work of restoration God had assigned to each to do. Now, what appears to be the mission of the Catholics?

Why, thanks to the four armies--the Wesleyan, Evangelical, High Church, and Tractarian--there is little of doctrine for them to attend to. It is theirs, it is true, to enforce the doctrines already quite generally received. But it is theirs, also, to carry out those doctrines to their logical consequences and their practical applications. Now, consider for a moment that in the last hundred years there have been great revolutions in the views of Churchmen. That, instead of rejecting, they now very generally accept the doctrines of their Church as expressed in the Prayer-Book, and especially the doctrine of the Real Presence. But consider, also, that while the internal spirit of the Church has thus radically changed, the expression of her face, so to speak, has not changed correspondingly. She brings up out of the past, and presents to-day, a ritual in harmony with the views her children held a hundred years ago while they were denying her doctrines. She is, in short, feeling to-day, one way in her heart, and appearing to feel another externally.

She is a Ritualistic Church, any way. For kneeling is Ritualism, and standing is praise, and wearing a surplus, is Ritualism. And surely we ought either to abolish all Ritual, or to let our Ritual tell the truth. Every time a man lifts his hat and bows to another in the street, it is Ritualism. Every time a bridal party, clad in white and glittering with jewels, comes in procession up yonder aisle, it is Ritualism; and every time the mourners, in sable attire, follow the slowly moving coffin towards the chancel, it is Ritualism. Now, what would you think, if the bride came to the altar clad in her common breakfast dress, or the mourners tripped in, resplendent in white and bedizzened with jewels? Surely, you would say, there is gross incongruity and falsehood in the Ritual all round.

Take another case. If, as we all believe, the Holy Eucharist is the highest act of worship in the Christian Church, and the Morning Prayer or Litany quite subordinate in the comparison, what would you say of that Church, which would carry the same garments and Ritual she used at the one Service up to the other, but that her Ritual was falsifying, that she was to the eye declaring those two Services to be of equal importance, while she was really believing in her heart the one to be a much higher Office than the other. This is the whole story of Ritual, about which there is so much feeling. It is not a question of Popery, it is a question of congruity, and consistency, and logical consequence. If there is anything to be alarmed at, [54/55] it is not the Ritual, it is the doctrine of which the Ritual is the mere expression; it is the doctrines of the Prayer-Book which have been long and silently spreading to general acceptance among us. After a tree has been silently growing wood for thirty years, it is not at all strange if it should suddenly break into flower.

Now say the Catholics, Churchmen are quite generally right, doctrinally. But is it possible that the Prayer-Book of the English Church is inconsistent with itself? Is it possible that it teaches one set of doctrines and commands another and an incongruous set of Ritual? Or are its Rubrics for ceremonials in harmony with the doctrines it prays? In examining, they find there is one point in the Prayer-Book which Wesleyan, Evangelical, High Churchman and Puseyite, had equally overlooked. The great work of restoration must go on to its end. Nothing in the Prayer-Book must be left in neglect. That point is a short but a highly important Rubric in the English Prayer-Book. Highly important, I say; for if obeyed, it will save the outward appearance of the Church from falsifying to the eye her inward doctrines. What is this Rubric which every English clergyman has sworn to obey? It reads as follows: "And here it is to be noted that such ornaments of the Church and of the ministers thereof (that is to say, vestments, lights, &c.), at all times of their ministration shall be retained and be in use in this Church of England by the authority of Parliament"--when? Fifty years ago? No. A hundred and fifty years ago, after the devastation of Cromwell? No. But "as were in this Church of England by authority of Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI.," that is to say just after she had thrown off Roman errors and stood a reformed Catholic Church. Let us arouse, say the Catholics, to that Rubric as the last thing in the Prayer-Book of our beloved Church to be restored. But the mobs and the prejudices of the people are against them, and so the civil court decides that the second year of King Edward's reign means the First Prayer-Book of Edward, which did not come into use at all by act of Parliament till Whitsuntide near the middle of his third year.

But they who suppose the mission of the Catholics is merely to restore the neglected ritual of our Church, take a very inadequate view of that mission. Ritual is the very least part of that mission. Just as a fine ship, manned and officered by a set of farmers fresh from the interior of the Continent, would be unfitted to make a successful voyage, so our Church, filled with non-Churchmen, filled with people who hated churchmanship, was unfitted for her Catholic work in the world. She was like the ship with everything maladjusted on board, incompetent to pursue her great voyage. But, with all at last properly adjusted within, our Church can go forth to her great Catholic duties, out to the men of the world, whom Christianity--holding to some extent the women has let slip from her grasp, and down to the poor, and all around to the afflicted and the ignorant, with her sisterhoods, her brotherhoods, her hospitals, and schools, and convalescent houses.

And it is the great mission of the Catholics, and the work they are [55/56] already grandly progressing in, to bring the Church to bear practically upon the world as a living branch of God's Catholic Church. Their mission is not merely to substitute reverence and care in the conducting of public worship for irreverence and slovenliness, and beauty for deformity; but also to substitute clerical self-sacrifice and hard work for selfishness and ease; free seats instead of the sale of the Holy Sacrament; to substitute the Parish Priest pleading, not monthly nor yet weekly, but daily, the Sacrifice of CHRIST for the sins of all God's whole Church at the Altar, the Parish Priest ever ready to listen to the tale of silent sorrow, the word of concealed and harassing doubt, the whispered story of sin, the low, deep, penitent wail, and to meet and satisfy all this growing and spreading hunger for spiritual direction, in place of the gentlemanly Rector, spending his days in oscillating between writing his sermon and stepping from door-bell to doorbell on his round of fashionable and social calls; to substitute Catholic authority instead of wild individualism; the simple truth instead of manifold error; earnest, energetic religious action, instead of sloth, and to restore, and then fan to an ever-burning flame, the lost spiritual life.

Such appears to be the philosophy of the exciting movements in our Church during the last hundred years, when viewed at that distance where the narrow personal aims, the prejudices, and the passions of individuals and generations disappear, and the guiding hand of GOD comes out to the vision. This is not the first time when matters have looked dark for the Church, and he who is alarmed for her safety now must surely lack faith. Rest assured, God's Church is still precious in His eyes, and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against her."

Project Canterbury