Project Canterbury Some Considerations Showing Why the Name
of the Protestant Episcopal Church Should be Changed.
A paper read at the Church Congress,
held in Louisville, KY., on the 19th Oct., 1887.
By the Bishop of Springfield. Springfield, Ill.: H. W. Rokker, Printer and Binder, 1887.
"Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain."—(Third Commandment.)
"Hallowed be Thy Name."—(First petition Lord's Prayer.)
God protects His Name by legal enactment in the moral law, and by the direction which He gives to devotion in the Lord's Prayer. We need not go far to search for the reason. The name stands for the person or thing which it represents, and as God is a God of absolute truth, His Name, so far as it can do so, truly represents Himself. It were blasphemous to suppose that He would put before His creatures a name that would mislead them, or distort or pervert His character in their eyes. Next to God is His Church. She is His Body, His Spouse. God's revelation taxes and strains human speech to the utmost to express her nearness to Him, nay, her identity with Him. It follows of necessity, that the reverence due to God is due to His Church. Such is the voice of reason, such is the uniform and consistent teaching of Holy Scripture. Hence, when we come to designate God's Church, we must remember that the ægis of the decalogue shields her, that the instincts of devotion, instructed by the Lord himself, sanctify her, and hence, we must, if we have the fear of God before our eyes, and the love of God in our hearts, tread very warily for our feet are on holy ground, These considerations bring us at once into the very midst of the question given us to handle, whether the name by which our branch of the Church is popularly known, is sufficiently in keeping with her divine Master and Head, and the traditions of the past, and the demands of the present, as requiring truth at our hands, to be retained.
We answer without hesitation on every one of these lines of inquiry that it is not. "Protestant Episcopal" as a title presents two ideas, the one negative, the other positive. The one indefinite in the last degree, since it affirms the general idea of protesting, without the slightest intimation as to the grounds or limitations of the protest. It involves a universal negative, and hence it is as far removed in spirit and in fact from the Names of God chosen by Himself to reveal Himself to us, as it would be possible to find in the whole compass of human speech. Even nature hates a vacuum. God is positive, and He tells us so in unmistakable language, "I am that I am." Here is the awful assertion of existence. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," "I am the light of the world," "I am the good shepherd." Such are the assertions which God makes directly of Himself. Through His prophets He tells us that He is the eternal Word, that He is the rock, the Creator, the Sanctifier, that He is the light, and that in Him is no darkness at all, that He is love, such are the descriptions which He inspires others to give of Him. Is there any sympathy between a universal affirmative and a universal negative? Is the Head to be characterized as the absolute positive existence, and the body to be known as the organ of universal negation? "What communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial?" Is He, who forbids us to take His Name in vain, and teaches us to pray that we may hallow that Name, is He to call Himself by names and authorize others to call Him by names that directly affirm or imply an affirmative, and is His Church, His body, His spouse, to be called by a name, which asserts a universal negative? Is this on the lines of obedience to the Third Commandment? Is this echoing the spirit of the prayer "Hallowed be thy Name?" Is it so that we descend harmoniously and naturally from the names of the Blessed Trinity, from the Father who created us, that is positive; the Son who redeemed us, that is positive; and the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth us, that is positive; we descend to the Church, our mother, and call her "Protestant?" That is negative, that protests, refuses, repudiates, denies. Clod Himself is positive, His teaching is positive, He fences Himself in by positive assertions about Himself and His will, and He expresses Himself, so to speak, by declaring in the most solemn manner His eternal existence, and then He discloses His attributes, all on the lines of positive assertion, until He sums all up in the incarnation, in Jesus Christ. "He that hath seen Me," says our Lord, "hath seen the Father." And who that looks in the face of Jesus Christ, could, unless he made his lot with those who profane His precious Name, depict His character under the description of a negative? To characterize His church therefore under the title, which seems to assert that her great, her only work, so far as her name goes, is to deny, refuse, protest, is to incur a fearful risk of violating the spirit of the moral law, and denying oneself the privilege of hallowing God's Name, as the Father, not only of Jesus Christ, but of his bride, the Church. The head cannot be essentially, and consequently in name, positive, and the body be essentially, and consequently in name, negative. Jehovah, Lord of Hosts, Father, Jesus Christ, Redeemer, Holy Spirit, do not- harmonize with "Protestant." There is a terrible discord, and we are responsible for that discord as long as we suffer such a misnomer to pass current as descriptive of any portion of God's Church. It will not do to say in defence, "God hates evil, and we as followers of God hate evil, too, and protest against it, and so we call ourselves Protestants." Why, then, does not God give us some hint that He would have us address Him and proclaim Him by a name which would imply that He protests against the devil and all his works? Because such a title would be a horrible impeachment of God's power and sovereignty. It would imply God's subordination to the devil. The Master never protests. Jesus Christ before Herod, before Pontius Pilate, on the cross, before the impious multitude, did not protest. The bare mention of such a thought is shocking. The devil and all the powers of darkness were then at their worst, and apparently triumphant. If ever after man's view of things a protest was called for, it was then and there on Calvary, from the Cross. But no! The silence is broken by the voice of God incarnate, and the words are not words of protest, but of prayer. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." God overcometh evil with good. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Would it not be horrible to give God a name, which would imply a recognition of even the temporary success of the devil, and so suggest a falsehood? Satan works by permission, and only so far and so long as God allows. "Thus far shalt thou go and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." "The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient, He sitteth between the cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet." (Ps. 99, 1.) We pass from God to His Church, which He hath purchased with His own blood; is it reverent to label her with a name which degrades her, and dissociates her from her Lord in His divine patience and ultimate triumph? Is it hallowing His blessed Name to compel her, as His body, to be designated by a title, which suggests His and her foes as her temporary victors, and the one thing she thinks of as she lives by sufferance in the world? Does "Protestant" associate the Church with the Blessed Trinity, with Jesus Christ, in any phase of His life, of His passion, of His death? Does it harmonize with any fact or characteristic, or suggestion, or hint or title mentioned in connection with her in Holy Scripture? The Church was not sent into this world to protest. It is an entire misconception of her office to suppose that this is her mission. Incidentally, of course, she does protest, as we always must, when we assert the truth. The Church is on the earth and will remain here until the end to teach, to minister the word and sacraments, to be the vehicle of grace, whereby Christ is present in the world continuously in His person, His offices and His activities, and thus she is like her Lord. She is one with Him, His work is her's, He carries it on by her, she carries it on through Him. Their names must harmonize in moral import and generic character, for she is the Lamb's wife. She ought not to be separated from her Husband in name. Who ever heard of a bride called by one name and the bridegroom by another? Nay more distressing, of the bride severed from her honored Lord under the shadow of an opprobrious title? Protestant carries with it the inherent stigma of weakness, and the implied shame of defeat. And now this name relegates the Church in this land to bad company, since it has come to be the common denominator of all, be they who they may, or what they may, who do not own obedience to the Pope of Rome, or follow the law of Moses. A heterogeneous crowd it is, of all shades of opinion, of all varieties of faith, or of no faith, respectable in morals, or lax, or distinctly immoral, and into this mixed assembly we must go, and, perforce, find ourselves confused, not only with pious believers in Christ, but with agnostics, atheists and anarchists. Protestantism has long been a name of evil import, but it has, within the last half century, grown rapidly worse and worse, by reason of the outspoken misbelief and unbelief, and the distressing and disgusting licentiousness, which it shelters and covers, so that we may ask respecting it, as Nathaniel did of old of Nazareth, can any good thing come out of Protestantism? With Saint Philip we can boldly reply, "come and see," and bring our inquirer to our Church and convince him by indubitable proofs that she is indeed the Body of Christ, disguised under a misleading title.
And here let us say we find the only comfort which we have ever been able to derive from this name, Protestant, as fastened upon our church. Our misfortune, for we esteem the bearing this title a dire misfortune, associates us with our Lord during His earthly ministry. He was popularly known as Jesus of Nazareth. This designation disguised Him, it put upon Him one of those marks of humiliation, and shame, which He bore for our sakes. Nazareth was a town of ill-repute, so ill that it justified Nathaniel's inquiry, quoted above, "can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" It was believed that all who lived in its houses and walked its streets were infected with its vileness. They were at an antecedent disadvantage as bearing its disreputable name. They were taken to be bad until they gave evidence that they were good. Our Lord was not of Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem. It is true, He was brought up in Nazareth, but His lineage and His tribal association located Him far away in the south, in the hill-country of Judaea. The prophets said naught of the place as touching the Messiah save that in some utterance which is now lost, it is said He should bear its hated and despised name. Thus this popular designation, Jesus of Nazareth, disguised him, hid from view His true character and claims, since the prophecies which went before said nothing of Nazareth, as destined to give the Jews their king. The difference between the superficial popular estimate, and the true knowledge of our Lord, as the promised Saviour, comes clearly out from time to time in the Gospels, but never more forcibly and significantly, than on the occasion of the healing of the blind man. He sat by the wayside begging, and when he heard the approach of a crowd by the tramping of their feet, he asked what it meant, and those standing near answered, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." At once he cried aloud for relief from his blindness. They sought to still him, but he would not leave off crying for mercy, but what was his cry? We would naturally expect the poor blind beggar to take up the words, which were suggested to him in the reply, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by," but no, his address from first to last was, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." His appeal is to the Messiah, the spiritual King of the Jews, the giver of life and health and strength, and all our blessings. The multitude, who saw with the outward eye, did not see the Christ, they saw only Jesus of Nazareth; the blind beggar, from whom the light of this world was shut out, saw with the eye of faith by the supernatural illumination of the Holy Ghost, not "Jesus of Nazareth," but "the Son of David." He pierced the disguise, he saw beneath the surface, he brushed away the popular reproach, his ears refused to echo, the shout of the people, his lips declined to utter the title, which for the most part revealed the ignorance, sometimes the malignity of the speaker. Alas! the shame of Calvary was surmounted by the ignominy, which the hated name of Nazareth added, for over the Son of God upon the cross was written and published in the ruling languages of earth, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, the superscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." But this was done by our Lord's enemies, as were all the atrocities, which were heaped upon Him in His passion. Pontius Pilate, instructed by the voice of the people, (how could he a poor benighted heathen be expected to be wiser than the multitude about him in Jerusalem?) Pilate wrote the title, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The chief Priests found fault with this superscription, but their objection was urged, not against the falsehood in the writing, but against the truth, not against the reproach, which it cast upon the divine Sufferer, but against the honor, which it paid him. They demurred to his being called the King of the Jews, which was the truth, but they found no fault with His being styled, "Jesus of Nazareth," which was a quasi falsehood. The blind beggar, the Apostles, the holy women, could they have had their way, would have erased, the "Nazareth," and substituted, "Jesus the Son of David," so that the entire writing would have read, "Jesus the Son of David, the King of the Jews." Let us pair ourselves off to-day, and ask how we stand in relation to the Church's name "Protestant Episcopal," which is on the title-page of her Prayer-book, and in her Book of Constitution and Canons. In a measure, fairly well this title replaces the superscription above the Cross of Calvary. It stands in about the same relation to our Church, as Pilate's writing did to the Church's Head, our Lord. Protestant answers to Nazareth, and Episcopal to the King of the Jews. The Church in a certain sense is Protestant, and so was Jesus from Nazareth. But to the men of that day to describe Jesus, as of Nazareth, was misleading, it puzzled the guileless Nathaniel and all who were seeking for the Messiah, it required explanation, and often the explanation was not within reach of those who sought it. Our Church is Protestant as a matter of necessity, since she affirms the verities of Revelation, and in so doing by implication protests against their denial, but this is only incidental, just as our Lord's residence in Nazareth fills a blank between His infancy and His ministry, an interval of nearly thirty years, and it is as unreasonable to make the incidental protest of the one give her the title by which she is to be known among men, and so mislead and bewilder them, as it was in the case of the other to ignore the positive facts of His childhood and the voice of prophecy, and seize upon the blank, the silence of Nazareth, and cause that to publish Him, and so hide His true character and claims beneath the unworthy associations of the ignominious Galilaean village. Had we been beneath the Cross of Calvary, would we have wished the "Nazareth" to remain, had we been living in the time of the Apostate Julian, would we have endorsed his entitling Our Lord in derision, the "Galilaean," which was his synonym for, "of Nazareth?" If so, then we are consistent, in clinging to the name, "Protestant," as applied to our Church, for the one stands in about the same relation to the Head, who has gone up into Heaven, as the other does to the Body, which is now militant on earth; and as in the days of His ministry the title "Nazarene, " brought reproach to the divine Master, and hid Him from the multitude, and bewildered even the devout as to His identity, so now the name, "Protestant," endorsed upon the Church's book of offices, and of laws, shuts out her venerable past from view, and presents her simply, as one of the countless sects, whose age at the greatest is but three hundred years, and whose character must be vouched for, before she can be sure of recognition as respectable. "Episcopal" replaces "the King of the Jews." Of course the Church is Episcopal, just as Our Lord was the King of the Jews. Once prove that Jesus is the Messiah of prophecy, and of necessity He is the King of the Jews, He is the King of the whole earth, He is "the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God;" so precisely establish the fact that the Church is the Body of Christ, the divine organization, which He created by His Spirit, and it follows inevitably that it must be Episcopal, since He so constituted its government, and embodied the principle in the charter, which He gave the Apostles, as His final act on earth, on the Mount of Ascension, in the words, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven, and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo am with you alway even unto the end of the world. Amen." (S. Matt xxviii, 18-20.) We have no objection to the word Episcopal as applied to the Church of God, since it accurately describes, as instructed by Holy Scripture, the character of her Government, but we do not exactly reconcile ourselves to the incorporation of the term into the name of the Church, because it violates the venerable traditions of the past. No branch of God's Church has ever hitherto taken some principle of the divine polity, however necessary and true, and placed it upon herself, as her distinctive name; because, in the second place, the title is misleading, since it raises the suspicion that there is some uncertainty about the Church's polity, and that it is a matter indifferent, whether the government of the Church be Episcopal or in any other form, proclaiming simply that ours, out of a great variety, is administered by Bishops; because again the use of the word, "Episcopal," in this way, as giving name to the Church emphasizes it too much. Necessary and important truth though it be, it has its place among a number of other truths. It is not the only truth, and when it is thus singled out, and made a part of the Church's name, it is brought into undue prominence, and made to occupy in men's minds a position which does not really belong to it. It is a mistake in principle to select any element, which enters into the Church's constitution life or character other than the notes by which she is described in the creed of Christendom, and fix it upon her as a name. Baptism is the initial Sacrament of the Church, and its importance cannot easily be overstated, but it would be unfortunate to call the Church, "Baptist;" the Presbyters are the second order in the ministry, they constitute the "Bishop's crown," their weight, value, and usefulness are beyond praise, yet for all that we should greatly deplore calling the Church "Presbyterian." Decency, order, method are characteristics of God's Church, they are the expression of the divine will in nature and in grace, how grandly do they appear in holy worship, as guided by the Liturgy, still we should resist by every legitimate means the calling the Church, "Methodist."
Reformation is, from time to time, demanded in regard to what is of man, human, in God's Church; abuses will grow, offenses must needs come, evil concupiscence doth still remain, even in the regenerate, and its mischievous fruits will develope and mature in the Church as well as in the State and in society. Such reformations of course do not touch the divine elements of the Church, her polity, her deposit of faith, her sacraments, they simply correct errors, remove corruptions, and restore obscured or perverted, or forgotten truths; such is the office of reformation, and its importance cannot be overestimated in contributing to the welfare of mankind; notwithstanding all this, how wretched, how equivocal it would be to attach to our Church the epithet "Reformed;'' for the same reason, since it involves the same principle, it is a mistake to incorporate into the title of our Church the word "Episcopal."
It is not without its parallel in human experience, but it certainly does seem an amazing paradox nevertheless, that for the most part those, who most fondly cling to the title "Episcopal" as a part of the name of the Church, have little respect for the office, which it represents, they are eager to compromise it on all occasions by seeking organic association with those, who refuse the order of Bishops as a human invention and a usurpation; they treat it as a matter of very little consequence, and express their indifference in the statement, that they regard the Episcopal order as useful to subserve the wellbeing of the Church, but not at all essential to its being, in a word they deny its divine authorization. Their respect for Bishops, when they show any, is not paid to the office, but is measured by the degree in which the Bishops reflect their own individual opinions. And yet these excellent people hug the term Episcopal to their breasts with idolatrous fondness, as though the very life and safety of the Church depended upon its retention. They use it with the greatest freedom, and often without exact regard to propriety and good sense, as when they write or speak of an "Episcopal Bishop," as is their wont. It is to them a name and little more, because they do not believe that there is much more, it stands for a mere human arrangement, convenient for the time, but liable to become obstructive and troublesome, and if so, to be swept away without compunction or remorse.
It is a morsel of comfort, while we are forced to be known abroad, as Protestant Episcopalians, to remember that this unfortunate misnomer associates us with our Lord during His earthly ministry. He was popularly known as "Jesus of Nazareth." The ignorant and the malicious so called Him, but those, who knew Him and loved Him, approached Him with reverence and devotion and poured forth their souls to Him in praise or request under the choice titles of prophecy. So we, alas, with our own consent, bear the title among men of "The Protestant Episcopal Church," and we call ourselves "Protestant Episcopal" on the title page of our Prayer Book, and in our Constitution and Canons, but when we leave the world without, and enter the House of God, we get away from Protestant Episcopal. There, thank God, while the multitude as they pass by, cry, "Protestant Episcopal," we hear naught but the Church, and when our lips are opened to profess our faith in the language of the Creed of Christendom, of all the faithful, of all the world, and of all ages we say, we believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." We are like the blessed blind beggar, the world outside told him that it was "Jesus of Nazareth," who was passing by, he knew better, and cried to Him, as "Jesus, the Son of David;" so we are told by the popular voice, instructed by the title page of our office book, that we are the "Protestant Episcopal Church," but we too know better, and we proclaim our belief in the Catholic Church.
When we come to ask whether there be any reason why we should take the title "Protestant Episcopal," as our distinctive name, as a branch of God's Church, seeing that no other in time past has ever assumed any analogous designation, and consequently there should be some very weighty cause, which would justify us in taking a departure from universal experience, we answer that so far as we know there is none whatever; on the contrary, we, least of all among the reformed communions of Western Christendom, have a right to inscribe upon our ecclesiastical banner the title "Protestant." Mark well, we are not speaking of the word as it is used in ordinary parlance to discriminate between Romanists, and those, who disown the Papal claims, nor again, as it is used in legal enactments, or formal resolutions of Parliament or convocation, or convention, or synod. In such cases we speak of course of Protestant and Romanist in a general popular way. There is a bill of Protestant succession on the statute books of English legislation, and there are oaths framed in harmony with this enactment, both for the sovereign, who reigns, and the subject who serves; and there are references without number doubtless in public assemblies and individual writers to the term "Protestant," as a negation of Romanism. The question before us is not as to any such use of the term, but it is as to its being made a part of the Church's name, and in this regard we assert that we, as a part of reformed Christendom in the west, have less claim to employ the word in such a formal and conspicuous manner, than any other. Why should we use it? We do not derive it as a child from our parent, it is not the name, or any part of the name of our mother the Church of England. It is not her name, for the very good reason, if for no other, that she had no right to it. The Church of England never protested against Rome. Her position, relative to the Pope, was precisely the reverse of the attitude of one who protests. England drove Rome out root and branch. It was the Pope who protested, not the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Papal party was put under the heel of the English sovereign and the English Church, and only after the lapse of centuries, and within the memory of those still living, has Romanism been allowed to raise its head from its crushed condition, and not even yet is it permitted to stand upon its feet. For what possible reason would the English Church protest against the See of Rome? She had everything her own way. It is not usual for protests to be made under such circumstances. In a later day, when self-will and individualism gained the mastery in the great rebellion of 1640, and made war upon the English Church, and drove her out of sight, if not out of mind, she had good ground to protest against Cromwell, and the Independents, and the Solemn League and Covenant, but she did not, she suffered like her divine Master in silence, and in the sequel He vindicated her, and brought her through her trials stronger in faith, and more secure in her position, than she was when the storm fell upon her. The Church of England never formally protested against Rome, why then should her daughter in America? What possible reason can we adduce for protesting, and protesting so strongly and loudly, that we stereotype the protest upon our escutcheon, and place it as a motto beneath our crest? We were first in the field, and the vantage was all on our side. Weak as we were, when we took our departure from our Mother Church, we were in every respect stronger than Rome. She had in no way encroached upon us, rather we had dealt hardly with her, since we had appropriated her only colony, Maryland; before the Revolution, and made it our own. Why should we protest, as a branch of God's Church, against Rome? We had less reason than the Church of England, and she had none at all, and consequently, in the exercise of common sense, she never did protest, then why should we? We never have done so, then, if we have not, why should we incorporate an untruth into our name, which we publish to the world? It will be said perhaps that in the popular division of Western christendom, we would, of course, take our place in the portion called "Protestant," and accordingly w/e incorporate the word in our legal and popular title. But, we ask, why are we alone of the many, numerous and respectable organizations of Christians called upon to bear this burden? Why are the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Reformed, the Lutherans, the Plymouth Brethren, the Congregationalists, and even, if we may without offence mention the term, the Reformed Episcopalians, excused from wearing this badge between their shoulders, and putting it on their door-plates, while we are obliged to do both? Can any sufficient and satisfactory reason be given? We have yet to hear it. If it is not necessary for them thus to publish their position, why s it for us? Some of these associations, we have been told, are vastly more numerous and powerful than we, and hence we have been admonished by our brethren, that we ought to be very modest and retiring in asserting ourselves in the presence of our superiors in numbers, and wealth, and influence; surely then it is a gross violation of the humility, which becomes us, so insignificant, and obscure as we are, for a purpose, said to be, to rush forward out of our darkness, and in the forefront of these mighty hosts, fling our banner to the breeze, bearing the name, "Protestant Episcopal," and shout, "hear ye, hear ye, ye nations of the earth, we are the Protestants," and by implication suggest that all our brethren, counted by millions, are at a discount as compared with our modest selves in their opposition to the See of Rome. This is consistency with a vengeance! We may not call ourselves "The Church in the United States of America," because, forsooth! it might seem to reflect upon religious associations larger and richer than we are, but we may with perfect propriety assert for ourselves by suggestion the exclusive possession of that universal negation which our brethren claim especially to value and to love. Alas for our modesty! Alas for our delicate consideration of others! Alas for our truthfulness! The only resource which our friends can find to save them from absolute confusion of face, is one which we apprehend they would be slow to use, because it reflects too severely upon the systems, which they seem to revere as much, if not more, than their own. It is contained in advice, which was said to have been given by a venerable Dutch Reformed minister, as he was at the time called, (the communion to which he belonged has since changed its name,) to his flock, when he was leaving them without a shepherd for a protracted vacation. "Your church will be closed," said he, "for three full months, and the question presents itself to you, where shall we attend services during the interval? I will answer that question," continued he, "and give my reason for the answer. Go to the English Church. By no means do you go to the Methodist, or Baptist, or Presbyterian. The English Church is a National Church, reformed immediately from Rome, just as we are a National Church reformed immediately from Rome. "These bodies," continued the reverend speaker, "the Methodist, and Baptist, and Presbyterian, are secessions from the Church of England, a pure, reformed church. They are without excuse. They have no ground on which they can stand. They are not national churches, they did not revolt from Rome, they revolted from a Reformed Church, sound in doctrine and uncorrupt in practice. Do you go, my Brethren, to the English Church, and do not countenance schism in any of its forms." This counsel of the Dutch Reformed Pastor involves the assumption that the Church of England and the Church of England are Protestant in a sense in which all the other reformed Christians in those countries are not, in that their position in rejecting and driving out Rome is a protest direct and clear against the errors, corruptions, and usurpations of Rome, whereas these other communities went out from a Church which had already repudiated Papal claims, and hence their status is one of rejection, not of the Pope directly, but of Bishops, and official vestments, and a Liturgy. Between the Church of Holland and of Rome and of England and of Rome there is interposed nothing; between Methodists and Baptists and Presbyterians and Rome there stands the Church of England in England, and the Protestant Episcopal Church by inheritance in this country. Here then is the only reason we can conceive of, why we should be styled "Protestant," while our neighbors are shut out from the use of the title. But will those for whose benefit we have adduced this solution of the difficulty accept the explanation? We are convinced that they will not; far from it, they will not go by any means as far as the venerable Dutch Reformed Pastor went. Our respected friends, who cling to the name "Protestant," as though the salvation of their souls depended upon its retention, for the most part insist that all these religious-associations are as much churches as we are, and vastly better Protestants. Our Dutch Reformed Minister's lucid explanation, therefore, will not serve them, and even if they accepted it, how could they account for the fact, that on this very issue, Protestantism, while the church of Holland at home and in this country did not, and the Church of England on her own soil did not assume the name "Protestant," we, the Daughter of the Church of England in this country have adopted it? Why have we parted company from them, and put this mark of distinction and difference upon ourselves? Does it not savor of intolerable pride and self assertion for us to put upon our door plate the name "Protestant"? Observe, it is vastly more audacious, looked at from an outside and popular point of view, keeping in mind our relative numbers and importance, for us to call ourselves "Protestants," than it would be to take the name "The Church in the United States of American," for the simple reason that the former title, "Protestant," separates us from all the reformed communions of Western Christendom, since the sects, which employ the word "Protestant" in their names, scarcely deserve to be mentioned after the measure of the popular estimate, separates us, we say, from all the reformed communions of Western Christendom by giving us the pre-eminent distinction of being the people who protested against Rome, which thing, by the way, neither we nor our fathers ever did; while the latter title, "The Church in the United States of America," would simply in name claim for us that we are the Branch of "the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church," which holds rightful jurisdiction in this our country, and this assertion we believe to be the truth, and are persuaded that we can establish to be the truth by the evidence of God's word, and of Ecclesiastical history.
To name the successive branches of the Church as she spreads throughout the earth, and takes root, and springs up, and flourishes in different countries and among different nations appropriately and harmoniously, is not a matter of difficulty or perplexity. It has been done all along from the first on a principle so simple, so satisfactory, and so absolutely loyal to Him who identifies the Church with Himself, that it seems surprising that anyone would be induced, much less would wish to break the law, and form an exception in the household of faith. To illustrate, Christ is "the Sun of righteousness," and sheds, or is destined to shed, His healing light upon all mankind, and yet there are not many Lords, but one Lord, and each race and tribe appropriates Him, as though He were exclusively their own. So is it with the material Sun in the sky. He is the Sun of the whole earth, he shines for all, he belongs to all, he is not the exclusive property of any, and yet every clime, and every country appropriates him and calls him by its name, calls him its own, and so we speak of a southern sun, and an eastern sun, and a western sun, and an Italian sun, and an American sun, in one word the Sun is Catholic, he is universal, he makes no
distinction of race, or condition, and so truly represents: Him, Who is "the light and life of the world," Jesus Christ, our Lord. 'Through His body Our Lord reached us in His words, and works and life when He was in the flesh on earth, so ever since He went up on high and created the Church by His Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and sealed her, as He did, with His signature of unity and sanctity and catholicity, and apostolicity, He reaches mankind through her, His body, "the fulness of Him, that filleth all in all." The Church, therefore, as is her Bridegroom, is Catholic, she is universal, she is for all mankind; her exhaustless blessings are without money and without price; they are without distinction, or difference, as they come from her hand, as rich in value for the peasant as the king, and as free to the Hottentot as the European. "Catholic," therefore, as one of the notes, or marks, or features of the Church, stamped upon her by our Lord on the day of her birth, gives her her generic name, which proclaims her ownership, by divine gift and right, of the whole world. Then as each race or nation or land or country was won to her and brought under her blessed sway, it appropriated her, and called her its own, and she became the Church of Jerusalem, the Church of Antioch, the Church of Asia Minor, the Church of Corinth, or the Church of Rome. The generic, or surname or family name, Catholic, was usually understood, and the specific individual name was expressed as the Church of Alexandria, the Russian Church, the Gallican Church, the Church of England, the Canadian Church. In all these and like cases Catholic is understood. So the title, "the Church in the United States of America," would be the name for the title page of our Prayer-book on the line of ancient and almost universal usage. In selecting an adjective to describe our branch of the Church, after the analogy of the Anglican for the Church of England, our difficulty lies in finding or coining and naturalizing among us an appellative to adapt itself to the United States, as Anglican does to England. United States is a compound word,: and does not readily suggest a derived adjective, which will command ready and general acceptance. The only objection to American in that it is too ambitious, it covers too much ground. America is the name of the Western Hemisphere, it covers two continents, and we occupy only a portion of the Northern, hence it seems inaccurate to call what belongs simply to the United States "American." But in reply it may be said' that, as the dominant race on the continent, we are justified in doing so, at all events it has long been customary for us, and for others as well, to use the word "American" as synonymous with "of the United States." We call ourselves "American citizens." We style our institutions, our products, our authors, "American," and our neighbors abroad speak of us and write about us as "Americans," hence we think we are warranted in calling our branch of the church "the American Catholic Church." Even voluntary associations among us have so employed the term, and, while we would mildly demur to any one who, in the most distant way, claims relationship to the Catholic Church, adopting such nomenclature, except it be when describing the Church itself, or some instrumentality or organization, legitimately representing the Church, still the choice of such a title to describe an association, which declines to trust itself unreservedly to the constituted authorities of the Church, effectually stops the mouths of our Brethren, who pursue this course, from objecting to the use of the phrase, "American Church," when employed to describe, not a so-called agency of the Body, but the Body itself.
As regards the present name of our Church, unfortunate as we deem it, and utterly indefensible on the grounds of reverence and obedience to God, respect for the past, and the uniform practice of our ancestry in the faith, and a due regard for truth in describing ourselves to others, still we are not insane enough to wish to change the name at the cost of a schism. We can live on under the shadow of this misnomer, as we have lived hitherto. It is not so much for ourselves that we crave the change as it is for others. We can see with the blind man Jesus the Son of David, while others see only and talk only of Jesus of Nazareth. We are thinking of the many Nathaniels, who in their ignorance are asking, "can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" There are not always S. Philips at hand to bid them come and see, and to take them by the hand and bring them to Jesus, and so they may lose their way and wander off to Rome.
It is chiefly for this reason that we deplore the false position into which our legal title forces us in the eyes of the world. We are made to appear to be simply a sect among sects. We are compelled to surrender our venerable past, reaching back to the upper chamber and the tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost, and in name enroll ourselves not even with our Mother Church of England and the more respectable reformed Churches of Continental Europe, but with a petty herd of insignificant sects which bear the name "Protestant." Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church, as her name proclaims, a foreign communion, with her splendid organization and her positive assertion, lays claim to all the Catholicity and all the ancient historic christianity, that are to be found in this land. And who is there, who is able to resist her pretensions, and expose her sophistry? We alone are qualified to meet and vanquish her, and this we could do to an amazing extent, were we not handicapped by our unhappy name, which conceals our true character, and by those of our Brethren, who seem to know so little about the Church of God, and to care so little about Her, that they threaten, that should they be overcome by legitimate means as the constitution provides, in the issue of changing the name of the church, they will create a schism. When any man comes to know Whose the church is, and what she is, he would rather die than take part in rending the Body of Christ, and therefore we must in charity attribute all such threats, and they have not been infrequent from this quarter, and have in one instance been carried out in adding another sect to the divisions of Christendom, we must, we say, in charity attribute all such threats, unamiable and unreasonable as they appear, to an inadequate, or erroneous conception of the Church of God. Little, probably, as they think it in their frenzied hatred of Rome, with their pet name Protestant, and their intense individualism, inspired and nurtured by their Protestantism, and their practical repudiation of almost all historic, and Catholic Christianity, they are the best and the most efficient allies which Rome has. They help her at every turn, and put into her hands the most effectual weapons, which she employs. We will give a sample of Rome's method in cleverly using our church's name to her own advantage, as the conclusion of our paper.
An eminent and brilliant Roman Catholic controversialist has a lecture, which he entitles "On the Religion of Christ." He considers his subject under two grand divisions, Catholicism and Protestantism. By Catholicism, of course, he means "Romanism," as we would say. When he comes to Protestantism, he informs his hearers that it is another name for Babel, that it is a congeries of innumerable sects, warring among themselves, and agreeing in scarcely anything save their hatred of the "Holy Roman Church." It would be impossible, he says, even to tell of the names of the legion of factions into which individualism and the spirit of schism have developed in the Protestant Camp. It will sufficiently serve his purpose and instruct his audience, he continues, to deal somewhat at length with five or six of the more prominent sects, and he then proceeds to enumerate the Protestant Episcopal, the Dutch Reformed, the Presbyterian, the Methodist Episcopal, the Lutheran and the Baptist. Now all these bodies, he says, indeed all the sects of Protestantism, lay no claim to the name Catholic, and the truth, which Catholic embodies, indeed, he says, they go further, they not only refuse the term, but they actually hate it, and would feel themselves insulted if one were to call them Catholics; and yet, he proceeds, there is one apparently slight exception to this universal hostility to the name Catholic, on the part of Protestantism. This exception is to be found among the Protestant Episcopalians. There are in that sect, the Lecturer goes on to say, some few persons who are wiser than their neighbors, they have learned some history, and read a little of the Fathers, and they have found out that God's Church has certain marks which he put upon her at her birth, and which are inseparable from her, just as the generic characteristics of the human race must appear in every man, and so these people call themselves "Catholics," and their sect "the Catholic Church."
But that this is a mere pretension, without any foundation in fact on which to rest, the adroit Romanist proceeds to show after this manner. He holds up in the sight of his audience our Book of Common Prayer and our Book of Canons. Here, says he, you see, my friends, the two works of authority which determine the status of this sect,—the one is their book of devotion, the other is their book of laws. Let us take, he proceeds, the former first and examine its contents. He turns over its leaves and reads its title page, "The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America," and then he adds, you see this sect does not call itself the Church in this country, it simply styles itself "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America," and all this we freely admit that it is, whatever it may mean. Of one thing we may be certain, it don't mean Catholic, and unless the Church is Catholic, you know, she cannot be Christ's Church. You will look in vain in this book, he goes on, for the word "Catholic," save in a mutilated form of the Apostles' creed and the Nicene Creed. (He did not know, of course, that it occurs, also, in a prayer in the Visitation of the sick.)
He next proceeds to exhibit the Digest of the Canons, and remarks: Here are the Constitution and Canons of this Protestant Episcopal Sect, and the word "Catholic" is a stranger to its contents,—it is not found. And now, he triumphantly adds, you see that this sect authoritatively rejects the title of Catholic, and leaves its undisputed possession to us, to whom it belongs, and who alone claim it, and hold it as our grand and imperial prerogative.
We can answer all this, but it takes time, and while we are making the explanation in this fast age, the listener is impatient and hurries away, and the Roman Catholic gains his convert.
If we are successfully to oppose Rome, it must be by asserting ourselves to be what we are, the Catholic Church, having rightful jurisdiction in this land against her, as a foreign Church in name, and in fact, whose presence here is a usurpation, and a gross violation of the Nicene Canons; by presenting historic Christianity in its continuity and integrity, as an antidote to her superseding the past by a screen of yesterday, on which are inscribed a new polity and a new creed; by teaching positively the incarnation and its derived doctrines, and by bringing out into bold relief the primitive truths, which Roman corruptions have obscured, distorted or perverted. We have been sometimes almost tempted to doubt whether or not the advocates of the name Protestant Episcopal, so fierce and so full of threats as they are, were not really in heart devotees of the Pope, since there is scarcely any one thing which can be suggested which so immediately and effectually helps the cause of Roman Catholicism in this land, as the name which hides the true Catholic Church from the popular gaze, "Protestant Episcopal."