Special Work of the Spirit in the Church.
We come now to the special operations of the Holy Ghost since Pentecost. These are twofold: first, His operations in the organic Catholic Church, and, secondly, His operations in each baptized man. Our topic of this evening will be His special operations in the organic Catholic Church as a whole.
The Holy Ghost was never incarnate; but there is a certain sense in which we may regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Spirit; for it was then that He descended from Christ's Body Natural upon the Catholic Church, and filled It with His presence, His light, and somewhat of His power. So that the Catholic Church stands, in this respect, unique among all the organic bodies of earth. Those operations of the Spirit which we have called general are observable everywhere throughout the human race. But His special and far higher operations we shall find in the Catholic Church, and in those who are made one with Her by Holy Baptism.
The Divine Spirit could not return to earth at Pentecost without restoring that illumination, the loss of which was caused by His departure at Adam's sin. Nor could He return in fulness except to a sinless Personality. His very return to the Catholic Church proves Her to be holy, in that sense in which, as a Mystical Personality, She is distinct from a multitude of individuals told by number.
From all eternity the Holy Ghost had dwelt in God the Son. Now, when that Son became incarnate, it could not but be that the Spirit should pass also into that Human Body and Soul which the Divine Son took into eternal and hypostatic union with Himself. Furthermore, when the God-man framed, so to speak, and united the Body Mystical to Himself, it could not but be that the Spirit should pass into and dwell within It also; for it could not but be that He should fill that whole Being, whose underlying Personality was the Second Person of the Godhead. Thus, at Pentecost, the springs of light and life for the human race were extended from the Natural to the Mystical framework of the Body of Christ. And the promise was fulfilled, "When the Spirit is come He will lead you into all truth." Implicitly this illumination of the Church was instantaneous; but explicitly it may be said to be gradual. For, as the Son revealed the Father to the world, so it was one of the functions of the Spirit to reveal the Son to the Church.
Here we have, then, the Catholic Church as a Body illuminated with all truth and designed by God to be Perpetually present among men as a Divine Teacher of the world. There are only two attitudes possible to human beings in pursuit of supernatural truth. They must either receive and learn it from Her as humble disciples, or they must be original discoverers of it themselves and supreme judges as to what it is. There is, logically, no middle ground. The Protestant takes the ground that a man can teach himself. He reads the Bible, therefore, decides for himself as from a supreme bench, and becomes, as the case may be, a Baptist, General or Particular an Anti-Mission Baptist, a Free Baptist, a Seventhday Baptist, a Six-Principle Baptist, a Scottish Baptist. one of the River Brethren, one of the Campbellites, or one of the Winnebrenarians; a Mennonite, a Muggletonian, a Seeker, a Hicksite Quaker, a Gurneyite Quaker, or a Wilberite Quaker, a Moravian, an Allenite, a Lifter, an Anti-Lifter, a Hopkinsian, a Shaker, a Scotch Presbyterian, Seceder, an Original Seceder, an Old-Light Seceder, a Baxterian, a Sandemanian, a Wilkinsonian, a Berean, a Dunker, a Daleite, a Methodist, a Primitive Methodist, a Central Methodist, an Independent Methodist, a Free Methodist, a Protestant Methodist, an Evangelical Association Methodist, a Methodist Reformer, a Whitefield Methodist Tabernacle Connection, or a Whitefield Methodist Lady Huntington Connection, a New-School Presbyterian, an Old-School Presbyterian, a United Presbyterian, an Associate Reformed Presbyterian, a Cumberland Presbyterian, a Morman, a Channing Unitarian, a Parkerite, a Universalist, a Congregationalist, a Cumminsite, a Plymouth Brother, one of the sect called "The Christians," or whatever.
Catholicity, on the other hand, takes the ground that man is a disciple in matters of supernatural truth. And Almighty God long since decided between the two by creating His Divine and Holy Church, filling It with the Holy Ghost, leading It into all truth to be the Divine Teacher of the world, and giving corresponding command to Its Priesthood, "Go ye, baptize all nations, teaching them to observe and do all whatsoever I have commanded you," and "Lo, I am with you always, till the end of the world.
From the day of its Pentecostal quickening, the Catholic Church, thus illuminated, as was Adam before the Fall, with all necessary truth, has assumed the office among fallen and blinded men, and calmly performed the functions of the Infallible Teacher of the world. The world did not hear her Head, but bore false-witness against, and crucified Him. It is not strange that vast bodies of men should not hear Her, but misunderstand, misrepresent, and even persecute Her. Pride of intellect once set on foot in Eden runs its course. It is its nature to spurn the stool of the disciple and itself assume the master's desk. Nevertheless the Catholic Church is from above, and not from below. And She continuously speaks, as She always has spoken, with authority and not as the scribes. She has, therefore, Her pulpit, Her throne of truth; and She sets it up in all lands, that men may gather to it, and sit around its foot as disciples. No other system had this unique feature. It is a pulpit with authority, and not a lecturer's desk, for the suggestion of theories touching the truth, or for the exposition of views." Indeed, does it not seem to be a logical impertinence for systems claiming that each man is an equal of all others as a discoverer of supernatural truth out of the Bible and a judge as to what it is, to carry such a thing as the pulpit away with them from the Catholic Church what ever else they may carry; and summon men to it as to an authoritative teacher? Non-Catholic systems and the pulpit are really as incongruous with each other, as are non-Catholic systems and the Altar. And the consequence is, what they call their pulpit has already, in three hundred years, descended to the status of a lecturer's desk. To be strictly logical, they should have only a Bible society to place a Bible under the eyes of each individual discoverer and judge of the truth. The Quakers, indeed, in abolishing Altar and Sacraments, have very logically abolished the pulpit also.
Behold the aspect, which those who act under the non-Catholic theory present. Are there not thousands of sincere and earnest men to-day, who, all at sea, are perpetually asking, each his brother, what he thinks, what his belief is, what his view is, what his persuasion is, what his judgment is, touching this, that, or the other fundamental point? And this, notwithstanding God made His revelation of fundamental truth eighteen hundred years ago? Are they not all ill at ease, all restlessly in search of help? Oh, the hunger of the human soul, and at once its helpless ness, which this bespeaks! If it was the Bible, and not the Church, which was to reveal truth; if each individual man is a discoverer and judge of the truth, and is personally and infallibly guided by the Holy Ghost to find it as he reads the Bible, what, pray, do these judges and original discoverers of truth out of the Bible, need the help of all manner of men, their fallible fellows, for? Do they not all put themselves, after all, in the attitude of helpless searchers? Gentlemen, we are all learners. We cannot escape the decree of Eden when man received in his nature, not only the wound of weakness of will, but also the wound of ignorance. And, as such learners, shall we seek to learn of each other, ignorant and uncertain as we all are by nature; or shall we recognize the Divine Teacher on earth, thank God for Her, and sit as disciples at Her feet to receive the truth?
The Spirit's special operations in the Church are to illuminate and to sanctify Her. Let us take up, and reverently study, first, the Spirit's special operations as the Illuminator of the Church.
I. Before a line of the New Testament was written, the Christian Church was in existence; equipped with Her ministry, Her truth, Her Sacraments, and Her liturgy. With these She spread, after fifteen years had elapsed subsequent to Pentecost, east, west, north, and south. Did She carry away a New Testament with Her from Jerusalem for mere individuals as such to learn the truth out of? She had no such book. The Holy Ghost had endowed Her with the truth, without the New Testament, and prior to its existence. She baptized Theophilus, and gave him Her Christian doctrines, before St. Luke penned to Theophilus either of those letters which have subsequently been known under the titles of St. Luke's Gospel and the Acts. She planted Herself in Antioch, in Thessalonica, in Colosse, in Corinth, in Rome, in Ephesus, in Laodicea, and preached there the truth, with which She had been illuminated, long before St. Paul wrote any of his epistles; She penetrated to Gaul and Spain, and still not one of the epistles had been written. Indeed, nearly a decade elapsed after Pentecost before St. Matthew's Gospel is supposed by anyone to have been composed. I suppose it is well understood that many erudite Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, are convinced that St. Matthew's Gospel, as we have it, was not written by its reputed author, but was a compilation from previous documents; and that those previous documents were Memorabilia of St. Peter, St. Matthew's "Sayings of our Lord," and probably a collection of the "Sayings and doings" of our Lord. And that St. Mark and St. Luke produced their gospels from previous documents. St. Irenaeus speaks of "an infinite number of apocryphal scriptures." At any rate, nearly a quarter of a century passed before the earliest of the epistles was penned; thirty years elapsed before St. Mark's and St. Luke's gospels are supposed by anyone to have been written and nearly three quarters of a century, before St. John produced his gospel. Now it were, of course, madness to suppose, that the Christians of all these years were without the Christian truth.
Meantime, such parts of what we now call the New Testament as came from time to time into existence, were known only to those small portions of the Church to which each, as a letter, had been addressed. A whole century elapsed-- indeed it was not till long after the last Apostle had gone to his grave, that there was the slightest pretension towards gathering these writings together. Even then some of the books of the present New Testament were not in any of the collections; while others that are not in the New Testament, were included in some of the collections. For it is to be remembered that printing had not been invented, and each document had to be laboriously transcribed. Nor was it till the beginning of the fourth century that the New Testament, as we have it, stood at last, as a collection of manuscripts, marked off by the Church with distinct boundaries from all other writings as holy and canonical. And yet during all this time, generation after generation of Christian saints and martyrs went up to their reward, in the confidence of a certain faith and in communion with the Catholic Church. Thus, it will be seen from all this, how little was the Holy Church as a receptacle and Teacher of the truth in absolute need, sine qua non, of a canonical book, however precious that Book may be, and however jealously She may have cherished and defended it after She had collected it together. Indeed, in the latter part of the second century, St. Irenaeus after giving the substance of the Catholic creed, says: "Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians so far as regards our language, but as regard doctrine, and manner and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If anyone were to preach to these men the inventions of heretics, . . they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far as possible; not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the Apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the doctrines suggested by the portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established." (Book iii. of Her. p. 265). He declares, in the same chapter, that there were, in his day, many nations, who held the truth which the Church had conveyed to and taught them "without paper or ink."
In short, wherever the Church went, She went not as the bearer of the New Testament to individuals, out of which each was to discover the truth, but as a living and authoritative Teacher Herself of the truth. She went, too, in that calm confidence which only the sure knowledge that She possessed the truth could give Her. Without a line of the New Testament, the Christian doctrines were woven ineradicably into Her very apostolic structure; wherever She went She therefore carried them. And were such a stupendous disaster to happen to-day as the total destruction of the New Testament, still would She bear on the truth, as She bore it in those early days before any of the New Testament was written, and in those later days before it was collected together. For, Her truths of original sin and re generation are the very substance of Her Baptism Her truths of the seven gifts of the Spirit are inseparable from Her Baptism and Confirmation; Her Sacrificial Sacrament carries within it the doctrines of the atonement, of intercession, of the perpetual Priest and the One Sacrifice forever, and of the nourishment of souls in the Body and Blood; Her doctrines of the Trinity and the In carnation are enshrined in Her Apostolic creed; Her penance carried with it the doctrine of the pardon of sins; Her sacrament of Orders, the doc trine of the unbroken Priesthood in the Apostolic succession; Her matrimony, the unity between Christ and the Church; Her decalogue, the doc trines of moral theology, and Her fastings, prayers, and almsgiving, the doctrines of ascetic theology. Thus it follows that Christianity was, and is to-day, derived primarily from the Church as a living Teacher divinely illuminated and not from the Scriptures. Such, then, was the first function of the Holy Ghost as Illuminator.
2. Let us pass now to His second function. In the Blessed Trinity the Holy Ghost is the uniting element of the Father and the Son. He is, therefore, the "Author, of all sacred unions." Having, in His office as the Great Uniter, joined the Man's Nature to the Godhead in Christ, ac cording as it is said, "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost," and having filled Christ's Manhood with Himself; having, furthermore, united the Body Mystical to the Body Natural, and filled the Body Mystical with Himself; and having, as we have seen above, illuminated the Body Mystical with the truth it was to teach, and set that truth in the indestructible casket of its Sacraments and general framework, He does not pause. In a richness of effort He begins to per form another function as Illuminator. He proceeds, namely, to inspire the Apostles, and other holy men within the Church Herself, with various degrees of inspiration; and, through them, he begins to send to, and deposit in, various parts of the Church many holy writings. In some of these scriptures He permits no mixture of error from others He does not restrain error, as, from the human ignorance of the penman, it creeps in more or less. Some Christian in Rome holds one of these writings; the city of Corinth holds two others; there are two others in a town of Macedonia; one is at Ephesus; the Bishop of Smyrna, has another; the Archbishop of Crete has still another; the Christians of the town of Laodicea another; Antioch had a manuscript containing St. Peter's Recollections of our Lord; Jerusalem had the Recollections of St. James, St. Simeon, and St. Jude. Thus innumerable, more or less holy, writings gather severally in different parts of the Church; letters of the Apostles, to single parishes and to single individuals, some of which letters are in the New Testament as we have it, and some of which are not; letters and writings of other holy men besides Apostles, some of which are in the New Testament, and some of which are not; epistles of St. Barnabas, and of St. Clement; the Acts of St. Andrew; the writings of St. Bartholomew, of St. Ignatius, of Hermas and of St. Poly carp; St. Paul's epistles to the Laodiceans and to Seneca; the lost gospel, from which Justin Martyr evidently quoted, or the Hebrew Gospel of the Twelve; St. Matthew's collection of the sayings of our Lord; the Clementine gospel; the gospel of the Egyptians, quoted by St. Clement of Rome, and by St. Clement of Alexandria, etc.
Late in the first and in the second century pious souls begin to make collections out of these many documents, o course the several collections differed from each other as wholes, according to the views of those making them, or to their ability to secure from different parts of the Church copies of the different writings. This goes on until near the beginning of the fourth century, when a great and ever blessed event happened to these various collections. The Emperor Diocletian's fearful persecution began. It was the greatest as well as the last of the ten persecutions But the great and inestimable treasure, namely, the New Testament, which it was one of the means of giving to the Church, was worth all the blood of all the martyrs it carried to the flames or to the rack.
By government orders the apprehended Christians were to give up their holy writings. Those among the lapsed who, under pressure, had yielded to this demand, and who, on the cessation of the persecution, applied to the Church for restoration to communion, were called Traditores It was this demand for the sacred writings that forced this highly important question upon the Church, namely, "Among the multitude of more or less holy scriptures in my possession, which are my Sacred Writings?"
It was then that the Divine Spirit within the Catholic Church, as Her Illuminator, guided Her, as She proceeded to select, out of the innumerable scriptures of Her Apostles and other holy men, those letters to private individuals or to separate parishes, and those other writings, or compilations, which together have since been called the New Testament. On the one hand St. Clement's and St. Barnabas's writings had often been quoted as divine and authoritative; St. Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans had also been thus quoted. But the Church, in Her divine illumination, as, guided by the Holy Ghost, She made up the canon of the New Testament, rejected these as well as others. On the other hand, doubts had been entertained about the authority of certain other books; but the Holy Church, guided by the Divine Illuminating Spirit, accepted and inserted them, nevertheless, into what She was to declare to be Her canonical New Testament. It was not till just as the fourth century was closing, that the can non of Scripture was finally decided by Her. Thus She first tested by Her truth those very documents, before She sanctioned them as canonical, which have subsequently been erected as the tests of Her truth. But the historical fact cannot be wiped out that the Scriptures rest on the Church for their authority, not the Church on the Scriptures. And one of the most ingenious devices of Satan, whose aim ever was to turn blessings into curses, has been the dislocation of the Bible, and its transformation from the unspeakable blessing it is, ever has been, and ever will be to the Catholic Church and Her children, into an idol out side of that Church, destroying the faith and the peace of its idolaters. The peace, I say; for the Bible having been torn three hundred years ago from its holy home, and set up naked to be adored, presents at last the aspect of being in a mere pillory instead of a niche; where it is now pelted and defiled and scoffed at by those unfortunate persons who, having long since been deprived of the Church, have lost understanding of and respect for the Bible also. Thus in the case of thousands, nay of millions, hath the ingenious Satan succeeded in making a shipwreck both of Church and of Bible. If the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, illuminated by the Holy Ghost, was competent to test by Her truth, and, thus to select from among innumerable more or less sacred writings, those which were to be regarded as canonical either in a primary or secondary sense; that is to say, if She was the supreme judge as to what should be considered to be Her Holy Scriptures, She in the same plenitude of illumination is the supreme judge as to what that Scripture means. Its interpretation is Her holy truth, and not the crude notions of the tinker, the cobbler, or the child. Is there not some thing sad, not to say awful, in that reversal, which seats a child in the throne of judgment for itself, with the great and profound Bible, in which the Apostle says are so many things hard to be under stood, beneath its little feet to be judged, and gravely, nay even boastingly, reading it to him without" (as they say) "note or comment?" Is it strange that the Christian faith of nations should be shipwrecked?
3. We come now to the third progressive function of the Holy Ghost as Illuminator of the Church. That same Spirit, Who first gave to the Church the truth, must perpetually preserve it, or in the end His original gift would prove value less. The Holy Ghost imparted, therefore, to the Church, according to Her needs as heretics arose attacking Her truth on all sides with subtle and destructive definitions, a correspondingly fuller and clearer conception of that truth; a more distinct view of its separate parts, and of the relationship between those parts; and it enabled Her to define Her truth to the world more and more precisely and fully.
To this end it was not always necessary to call General Councils. But the process was this, namely, some subtle perversion of Her truth would, for instance, arise in a given province. A fallible Provincial Council would meet. If it condemned the heresy, and if its decrees were recognized as sound by other Provincial Councils throughout the Universal Church, the matter was settled; the whole Church had thus spoken, with out the further assistance of a General Council. If, however, that fallible Provincial Council gave the stamp of its authority to the heresy, or if its correct decision was still further disputed, and the heresy began to spread, there was trouble at once in the Church; and eventually, a Council, intended to be General, was convened. If the decrees of such Council were not accepted by the Universal Church, that Council, though intended to be general, was not afterwards regarded as such. But if its decrees received the stamp of confirmation by the Church Universal, such Council ranked ever after as General, and the language of its decrees became the voice of the whole Infallible Church, announcing to the world the everlasting truth as it had been from the beginning. Thus "the corporate principle was recognized in all the Church from the beginning," from the very Council of Jerusalem itself mentioned in the Acts; this is what the confirmation, not only by the Bishop of Rome, but by all other Bishops, of the decrees of the General Councils means. This corporate principle based upon the fact of a diffused life in all the Church as the Body of Christ filled with the Holy Ghost, the Illuminator, is directly opposed to the modern Papal idea, which has set up a fixed local centre, a single human head as infallible. "According to this fundamental principle the whole spiritual life that is in the Church must, in its various degrees and methods, conspire and unite, before any decision upon controverted truth can be held to be absolutely final and authoritative." The Holy Spirit is one; and He in His fulness is in the whole Church. In His fulness He is not in any one man only, nor in any one part of the Church only. It is the whole Church acting as a unit that He guides into all truth. And each man, however exalted, Bishop, Arch bishop, or Pope, must take his truth from Her. If any single man, or if any part of the Church, as for instance the Anglican, the Roman, or the Greek, acts and speaks independently of the rest as a definer of truth, it is but a fallible voice that the world hears, and not the voice of the Omniscient Son speaking from His Body. That which has been defined or accepted by the whole Church has ever been held to be the truth by all parts of the Church, however they may have differed on other matters; and is still taught to day with one consent by all parts of the Church, Anglican, Greek, and Roman. This is the Catholic Faith; anything in addition to it may be Anglican doctrine, or it may be Roman doctrine, or it may be Greek doctrine, or it may be pious opinion, but it is not the Catholic Faith.
And here, gentlemen, we are led up to that burning question of the day, which some of you have privately asked me to treat on in these Conferences, what is the Ecclesia docens--what and where is the Living Voice of the Church. That in which the unwary Low Churchman, who is passing through a little ritual on his way to Rome, is caught by Rome, is the trap of a false emphasis. He is ensnared with the words "Living Voice." Not, indeed, that the voice of the Divine Teacher should not be living; that is to say, that it should not speak as a teaching voice to the men of to-day. But it must utter the words of the Divine Teacher on earth, and the question is what is the Divine Teacher? If the argument from emphasis be used let us lay the stress on the right words. It is The Church, and not something else, that we want to teach us our Faith. What, then, we want is "The Living Voice of the Church;" some living voice that shall tell us whatever the Church has defined or accepted to be the unalterable truth. Now, ac cording to Catholicity, the Church consists of those bodies which, however they may differ on other points, unite as one body in bringing down to the present day the Apostolic ministry in regular succession, in not denying the Apostolic Sacraments, and in holding with consenting heart the same mode of Catholic worship and the same Catholic Faith that the Church held in the first seven centuries of Her existence. According to Rome, the Church consists of something else. It is clear, then, that the very first thing to be decided is, which is the true conception of the Catholic Church. That question decided, the question of the Living Voice is as good as settled. In the Conferences of last May the Catholic conception of the Church, and not the Roman, was proved correct. According to that Catholic conception, the Roman Communion is only a part of the Catholic Church. Now, each part of the Church must be, in its corporate capacity, the mouth-piece to utter that to the world which the whole Church, of which it is a part, has declared to be true. And precisely this function does every part of the Church, Anglican, Greek and Roman, perform to-day. If any one of these parts define anything over and above what the whole Church has settled to be true, that part, acting without the rest of the Church, is in so far fallible, and its ipse dixit, when it adds any thing to what the Church has said, is not binding on the conscience under penalty of mortal sin, for it is liable to revision by the whole Body.
Now, we have, I repeat, already seen in last May's Conferences what the Catholic Church is, as well as what She has defined to be true and has accepted as such. We have seen, that, in the fulness of time, after every exit toward dogmatic error had been closed by the decisions of the first six great Councils, Almighty God, having thus shut up and concluded the great fundamentals of the Faith, permitted in the ninth century human infirmity in the Church to take its course for awhile in the alienation between the eastern and the western parts of the one Catholic family; thus rendering the assembling of another really General Council impracticable, until the time (which has not come) shall be ripe for Him to define the minor and far less important portions of truth, and thus to complete the great structure of the Faith by adding to it by further definitions its pinnacles, mouldings, and more delicate tracery. As centuries passed before, in God's judgment, the ripeness of time had come for Him to define, through the Church, the great fundamentals of the Faith; so clearly in His judgment the century has not yet come for it to be necessary for Him to go on further, and define the smaller niceties of the Faith. Meantime, it harms not any of us, in whichever part of the Catholic Church we be, so far as our eternal salvation is concerned, to be left for a while to our varying pious opinions, and to the exercise and freedom of mutual discussion about those less important particulars; especially as we are evidently learning the lesson by experience, and in a way which, humanly speaking, we could not otherwise learn it, that the great Catholic Church, if it is to battle in the life of the earthly ages, must leave its infantile state of Chinese uniformity without variety, and accept the adult condition of diversity within Catholic unity.
Man is always in a hurry; not so God. And this impatience and hurry to have every conceivable new question settled at once, is Rome's fallacy that vitiates her conclusion on the whole question of the Living Voice. This impatience causes her to ride blindly over every other consideration.
Faith by very many definitions in the first six ages of the Church, leaves for a while the whole Church, in each and all Its parts, to go down the ages, and, however those parts may differ on other matters, to reiterate that Faith, at any rate, by Living and consenting Voice.
The Living Voice must thus be the Living Voice of the Church; i.e., a voice which cries just precisely what the Church cries, and that only, as binding on us under penalty of mortal sin. If it add anything else as thus binding, it may be a living voice, but it is not the Living Voice of the Church.
What Rome means by a Living Voice, is a voice, not that shall simply speak all that the Church has hitherto defined, but a voice that shall be ready at any hour of the day or night to settle infallibly all manner of new questions that anyone may propound, and so be something that anyone can run to, sure that every new thing it says is the infallible truth. Ah, gentle men, Rome must not be permitted by us to ignore the very question at issue, whether God does not, for the present, refuse to define ally thing additional to that which He has already defined, wisely overruling the sad divisions of the Church into Anglican, Roman, and Greek to this.
But, God, having in His wisdom erected the very end. A perpetually defining voice may be very convenient, but it is a vastly different thing from a Living Voice perpetually teaching all that the Church has ever defined.
This idea that the Catholic Church must always be in such condition as to be ready at any hour of the day or night to define new truths, is the childish impatience of man, not the wisdom of God. It is to have God the Holy Ghost at our beck and call, the slave of our wishes, regardless of His own infinite discretion in the premises. If in His wisdom He refuse to speak at their bidding, they then proceed to overthrow the Apostolic constitution of the Catholic Church which impedes their wishes, and to establish a Roman Catholic Church, which shall, in this respect, be plastic to their whims, by being ready to define new truths whenever they please. The old Catholicity was not good enough for them. Gentlemen, this may give them a defining voice, but the voice is not the Living Voice of the Church.
You have to-day (and every Roman Catholic has, and every Greek Catholic has) all that the Church has ever defined, uttered to you by Living Voice in the Creed, the liturgies, and the Sacra mental prayers of all three parts of the Church. And each great Communion, Anglican, Greek, and Roman binds all its Bishops, Priests, and Deacons to use Her formal language and teaching to you and to preach according to it; thus setting forth in formal Living Voice the great Catholic Faith as it has been once for all defined by the Church. And if anything additional that is false happens to be set forth by individuals, thank God, the disaster is by no means eternally vital. And if any Priest refuse to use this Her formal language, She sooner or latter disciplines him, and sends him to the limbo of the Cheeneys and the Colensos his recusancy, meantime, and his eventual fate, only bringing out more prominently than ever to public attention the unalterable Faith which She teaches through Her formularies.
I do not mean to say that, owing to the human element in the Church, there have not been times when discipline is so relaxed for a while, that there are warring voices in the pulpit and the theological seminary. A century or so ago this was the case in the Roman part of the Church. Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and theological seminaries, all over Germany, France, and else where, and even in Italy within sound of the Vatican, fulminated and taught with impunity for years what that Communion held to be heresy. Papal bulls and conciliar decisions against Jansenism were, for a while, in vain. But after a time Rome got out of the scandal. And to-day an analagous state of warring voices exists in the Anglican Communion. It is not for Rome, who has just gotten out of her temporary glass-house, to be pelting stones at us who are temporarily within ours. But, after a while, this scandal of ours will be cured also. It has always been the instinct of the Catholic Church, in all Her parts, in dealing with these acknowledged evils, to be merciful up to the last moment of patience, and to cure rather than kill Her recusant children.
We must look at these things in the large, and wait for the corporate action of our Anglican mother; who, sometimes seeing that an evil is steadily curing itself, as guided by the over ruling action of the Holy Ghost, quietly waits and lets it do so, notwithstanding the efforts the other way of a clear majority of Her children within Her. And we should not personally lose our mental equilibrium because affairs in our parish, or in our diocese, are clearly, for the time being, not in accordance with the real teachings of our mother and of the Catholic Church in its best and purest ages.
We come now to the second great function of the Holy Ghost, namely, His work as Sanctifier of the Church.
Jesus Christ, as the Head of the Church, is indeed the Fountain of all sanctity to the Mystical Body. He is the Fountain to It even of the Holy Ghost, Himself; for as St. Gregory Great says, "The Divine Spirit proceeds from Jesus Christ by substance." And thus proceeding from Him, as from a fountain, and descending and filling the Church, the Holy Ghost is Her great Sanctifier. His union with Her, though it be not hypostatic, makes Her "a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish." She stands on earth, therefore, the source of holiness to all Her sinful members. From Her, as from an earthly reservoir of sanctity, flow forth the seven great special graces through the seven sacramental channels, to en fold the whole spiritual career of man on earth. First, Holy Matrimony; natural marriage is in.. deed holy, it was instituted by God in Eden. But since the advent of the Saviour, Matrimony has been elevated to a Sacramental status also, as a type of the prolific union betwixt Christ and His Church; and as such, like all the other Sacraments, it conveys special graces to those who enter it. Natural marriage was instituted in Eden to replenish sinlessly the earth. But Christian Matrimony has remote reference to heaven; for through it children are sinlessly brought into this world, destined for the Sacraments here, and for a blissful eternity hereafter. Secondly, by Holy Baptism the Spirit quickens the child, thus brought into the world, with a supernatural life. Thirdly, by Holy Confirmation, He adds, indeed, no new graces, but He en larges to it the endowments of Baptism, in order to carry its supernatural life out of its germinal state. He cures it by Holy Penance, when it is sick with mortal and venial sin; ever strengthens and refreshes it through the Holy Eucharist; provides instructors and care-takers for it by Holy Orders; and, finally, by Holy Unction either raises it from threatened temporal death, or sends it, soothed, healed, and calmed into eternity. These seven Sacramental streams flowing from the Holy Church, are themselves immutably pure and divine. They are, indeed, the Holy Sacraments. They cannot be tainted either by those who administer them, or by those who receive them. Human frailty may, it is true, erect a bar to stop the entrance of their graces into the soul; but themselves it cannot stain. For it is out of man's power to alter God's streams of grace into rivers of corruption; and they flow forth from the pure fountain of the Church, the rather themselves to purify the pollution which they seek.
And, as Her Holy Sacraments cannot be affected by the frailty or sins of the human will, so neither can the Holy Church Herself; for Her will and mind, are not those of Her fallen members, but they are the will and mind of Her Head. The "intention," therefore, with which Her Holy Sacraments are administered, is the "intention" of Her Head, Jesus Christ. It is He that is the real Baptizer, and Confirmer and Ordainer; it is He that consecrates the bread and wine; it is He that forgives sins; and the mere human Priest, of whom He makes use in the administration of each of His Sacraments, is as powerless to thwart Christ's intention in these respects by his personal sinfulness (even by his grievous sin fulness) or by his petty hostile "intention," as that same human Priest is imbecile in his own power to recreate a soul, or to forgive its sins, or to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood. St. Augustine says, in his sixth Homily on St. John, "What did John learn from the Dove, but that there was a peculiar power in Christ, of such a nature, that, although many ministers, righteous and unrighteous, should baptize for Him, the sanctity of Baptism was not to be attributed to any but Him on Whom the Dove descended: of Whom it was said, 'The Same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost.' If Peter baptizes, this Same baptizes; if Judas baptizes, this Same baptizes." He declares that each person baptized is not to be "thought to receive a better Baptism according to the merit of him that baptized him." O, humble soul, as you bring y infant to the font, as you lead your boy to Confirmation, as you kneel yourself at the throne of absolution, or at the Altar of strengthening and refreshment, it is God that is your confidence, not man. The "intention" likewise, with which the Church's Holy Orders are conferred, is the "intention" of Her Head, Jesus Christ. And this can not be thwarted by the human frailty or evil and hostile designs of any Bishop, whom as an organ of His Body Mystical, Christ uses as He administers the Sacrament of Orders. This is one of the truths, with which Catholicity confronts Romanism, with the latter's dogma that correct human intentions are necessary to the validity of a sacrament.
To every priest the great flat is uttered by Christ, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost for the work of the Priesthood;" at every Baptism, God is thanked in that He hath regenerated the human being with the Holy Spirit; at every Confirmation, He is besought to strengthen the candidate with the Holy Ghost; at every Eucharist, the power of the Holy Ghost is invoked that the elements may become the Body and Blood. It is the Holy Ghost that unites the Father and the Son in God, for says St. Augustine, "He is the fellow ship of the Father and the Son." He unites, too, the Man's Nature to the Second Person in the Incarnation; He unites the Body Mystical to Its Head; He unites the individual, in his soul and body, to the Church at Baptism; He unites the elements to the Body and Blood at the Altar; and in those who have communicated sacrament ally, He worketh interiorly, making them one with Christ's Body and Blood, and Christ one with them, and them one with each other. And so, cooperating with the Son Whom we have received, the great Uniter rebinds together the elements of each soul disintegrated by sin, raising it from its ruins, and to raise at the final day the whole being from its death; and, moreover, in His great office as Uniter, He rebinds all souls, once fallen away from God and from each other into the communion of saints, and back again to God. Physically we cannot live without food, and it is equally true that we cannot live without the breath of life. We may breathe, but without food we die. We may eat, but without breath we die. And we cannot live unless our food, too, is assimilated into our muscles and bones and nerves in constant reparation. What! will the world dispense with the Body and Blood, and substitute a mere memory of a past tragedy for them; will it dispense with the perpetual Incarnation, and think to live by "filling its belly with the east wind?" Spiritually we cannot live by the Holy Spirit alone. We must have the eternal nourishment of Jesus Christ's Human Nature; we must have the strengthening Body, and the refreshing Blood of Him, Who, equally with the Spirit, is our life; and we must have the breath of life, too, from the Holy Ghost, Who not only issues to us from the Son, but also unites us to and assimilates Him as our Divine Food, with ourselves. [I am indebted for this illustration to Rev. Dr. J. H. Hopkins.]
From the first the Divine Spirit hath ever co operated with the Son. He descended upon Him at Bethabara. It was "of the Spirit" that Jesus was "led up" to Quarantana to be tempted. It was by the "Finger of God," that is to say, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus wrought His miracles and taught; on Calvary it was "through the eternal Spirit," that Christ "offered Himself without spot to God." And, finally, as at the Incarnation, Jesus Himself had said, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O Father," so, when that same Jesus ascended, the Holy Ghost also, Who had thus with infinite zeal cooperated with the Son in everything, descended with, as it were, the utterance of the same great words, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O Son, and Thy will, O Father. Still to cooperate with both, comforting, enlightening, sanctifying, pleading within sinners, and making intercessions for them with yearnings that can not be uttered."
Henceforth the work of redemption and sanctification go on hand in hand. Each, the Son and the Spirit, cooperating with the other in both. We are members of Christ; we are at the same time the temple of the Holy Ghost. As sanctification could not precede redemption, so, we may reverently ask, what were redemption without sanctification; what, to speak humanly, were the special work of the Son without the special work of the Spirit also? The Holy Spirit applies to men the work of their Redeemer. Blessed cooperators three, Father, Son, and Spirit, carrying out, in concomitancy, for us and in us, the one will of God.
In short, "The Holy Spirit dwells in the mystical framework of the Body of Christ, ever flowing forth to It from Its Head, and diffusing through out It from Its Head powers of life, powers of authority, powers of strong mutual support, powers of personal holiness, and at the same time authorizing, empowering, and sanctifying men as organs of the Universal Body, and representatives of It to do the blessed offices of the collective Priest hood to single souls."
Finally. The Divine Spirit, cooperating with the Son, is not only thus the source of the infallibility and of the holiness of the Church; but as the "author of all unities," and being Himself one, and being one with Christ, He is the source also of unity to the Church; joining, as He does by the Holy Sacraments, the members one to another, and all to their exalted Head; and making the Church "the kingdom of the Incarnation as well as the kingdom of the Spirit." There is a sense in which, if Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church, the Holy Spirit is its living Soul.
He is the source, too, of the Catholicity of the Church; since He has endowed Her with all truth, and all means of grace; and thus adapted Her to enfold all men, if they will, into Her blessed unity.
And He is the source of Her Apostolicity, inasmuch as, by His continuous life and union with Her, and His continuous operation in uniting Her to Her Head, He gives continuousness to Her life, preserving within Her from Apostolic times the Apostolic faith, the Apostolic ministry, and the Apostolic Sacraments.