124 BIBLE HOUSE, NEW YORK.
The object of this Society is to promote Church Unity by fostering a desire for the same, by prayer, and by disseminating sound information concerning the true principles of Church Unity by tracts, books, public meetings, lectures, sermons, the press, or any other legitimate way.
The Society seeks for reunion upon the following declaration of principles as set forth by the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the General Convention of 1886, and re-affirmed at Lambeth by representatives of the entire Anglican Communion, viz.:
 The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God.
 The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
 The two Sacraments--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord--ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
 The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
All communications relating to Church Unity, or The Church Unity Society, should be addressed to the Rev. W. S. SAYRES, General Secretary and Treasurer, Broken Bow, Nebraska.
IT WAS the will of our Saviour that His disciples should be one, as His last prayer on earth before His passion reveals. His prayer for Unity indicates that the world will not believe in Him while the disciples are divided.
It was a united Church that won all the great victories of the early centuries; and no great nation has been converted to Christ since the Church lost its external Unity.
The deadly struggle with infidelity, skepticism, and Antichrist, in which we are now engaged, requires that all who love the Lord Jesus should bear a visibly united front against the enemy, and testify with one voice to the faith, "once for all delivered to the Saints."
The perplexing problems of an increasing social discontent, the growing bitternesses of class distinctions, and the questions that arise in the relations of capital and labour, imperatively demand that word of peace, which the united Church alone can give, with power, and yet with tenderness.
The present pathetic groping after a closer Unity, the unsettled state of the religious world, the questionings and debates concerning creeds and confessions, the dissatisfaction with popular beliefs, the widespread, eager, interest in religious questions, the growing enthusiasm in missionary effort, the unsatisfactory progress and condition of Christian organizations, indicate most clearly the want of some common, simple, and mutually satisfactory basis upon which Christians of every name may unite, and our unhappy divisions, which are of recent origin, which are contrary to the expressed will of Christ, which weaken us in our conflict with Satan, rend the Body of Christ, form a stumbling-block to many, render effective discipline impossible, deprive us of the full power of the Holy Spirit and depress our religious life, be healed. Such a basis the Church Unity Society believes can be found only in the primitive faith and order of the ancient and undivided Church, and it is with the design of promoting unity on this basis, and endeavouring to remove misunderstandings concerning it, that the present effort is undertaken.
To this end the Society asks that you will kindly accept and prayerfully examine the following treatise, which is not written in the spirit of controversy, but with a sincere desire for closer union, and in Christian love.
The Society further asks for your daily prayers to God, that His followers may all be one, outwardly and visibly, as well as spiritually.
PRAYER FOR THE UNITY OF GOD'S PEOPLE.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
EXTRACT FROM THE PREFACE TO THE ORDINAL.
"It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and Ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,--Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such Reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same, and also by public Prayer, with imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto, by lawful Authority. And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination."
EXTRACT FROM THE CANONS. TITLE I. CANON XIV.
"No Minister in charge of any congregation of this Church, or, in case of vacancy or absence, no Churchwardens, Vestrymen, or Trustees of the Congregation, shall permit any person to officiate therein, without sufficient evidence of his being duly licensed or ordained to minister in this Church: Provided, that nothing herein shall be so construed as to forbid communicants of the Church to act as Lay Readers."
AN OPPORTUNITY to contribute anything, which may, by the blessing of God, help, in however humble a way, to cure our unhappy divisions, and bring us at least so far nearer together that we shall be able better to understand each other's position and principles, is thankfully and eagerly embraced by me.
I write with this aim exclusively in view, that I may enlighten our Brethren as to what I believe the position of our Church to be in reference to-Ecclesiastical polity.
I am by no means so presumptuous as to anticipate that I shall be able to convince any that I am right, although I am thoroughly persuaded that I am, and would fain win them to accept my convictions as their own.
I need scarcely say that I am alone responsible for what I write, and as a dutiful son of the Church I submit myself to her lawful correction.
In such a discussion it must be obvious, on a moment's reflection, that those who maintain that the Ministry of Christ, like the antecedent Ministry of the Law, is official and therefore exclusive, are at this disadvantage as compared with their neighbours, who hold that there is no ministry of directly divine appointment, that they seem in the eyes, and judgment of the outside world to be narrow and uncharitable, and our Brethren unconsciously perhaps share in this feeling, and sometimes appear in consequence to manifest irritation at what they consider our bigotry and presumption.
 They forget that this is the very point at issue, and to admit even by implication, that the sacred ministry is not directly divine in its origin and continuance, and conditioned by criteria of God's appointment, which mark it off, and make it manifest as a distinct institution ordained by Him, would be, must be to the logical mind an abandonment of the field, and an absolute surrender of one's principles.
It must be remembered that truth is always exclusive and wherever it expresses itself it must occupy its ground alone; it would be impossible for it to share its domain with another.
The general principle is bound up in the first commandment, "Thou shalt have none other gods but ME." God is the truth, the absolute truth, the fountain source of all truth. All derived truth is subject to this law written by the divine finger upon the table of stone. Exclusiveness attends truth's steps, whithersoever it goes, whether it marches through the realm of nature or the kingdom of grace. Where its foot rests no other foot can come. It is the device of Satan, the father of lies, to confuse men's minds about this fundamental law, which governs all truth of whatever kind, and make men believe that they are paying tribute to the law of love, when they for a time suspend and supersede it. Accordingly in certain departments of its kingdom men grow to be indifferent to truth, until at last the miserable condition is reached in which the soul cries out with Pilate, "What is truth?" The cleverness of the device is such that not only the common herd, the ignorant and careless are caught by the snare, but the learned, and the earnest and the good. The bait employed is most potent and subtle in its operation and effect. It is the gratification of the desire, which all minds in a normal condition must feel, of being regarded as liberal, and generous and full of sweet charity, of being in one word popular. Popularity is the reward, which the devil holds out before men's eyes, and tells them, as he dazzles them with its bright promises, "all these may be yours, if you wilt play fast and loose with truth, say it is one thing to-day and another to-morrow; that it is many things at one and the same time, that all are right, or nearly all, that there is no such thing as wrong, and if there be, it is far removed from us, we need not concern ourselves about it, and all this you may do in obedience to the law of charity. "How bewildering this, how seductive, how charming to go forth and have all men speak well of you, and commend you as no [8/9] bigot, no narrow minded mediaevalist, but a true Christian embracing in the scope of your acceptance all systems and beliefs however inconsistent, even to the verge of contradiction, provided they are not unpopular. Meanwhile God thunders from Mt. Sinai, and petrifies His voice in the eternal rock, "Thou shalt have none other gods but Me." Truth in its essence, and in its manifestations cannot share its throne with another. It is the rankest treason against God to entertain such an idea. Our Lord republishes the same law, when He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." And His Church, inspiration tells us, is "the pillar and ground of the truth." Exclusiveness is as much an attribute of truth, as holiness is an attribute of God. Whenever truth is ascertained as an absolute certainty there is an end of the matter. It may not he trifled with, it must not be compromised. Men may not play with it as they do with a shuttlecock. If they do, deceived by the sophistry of Satan or of a depraved public sentiment, which is the expression of Satan's jugglery, then they must pay the penalty of being, unwittingly perchance, deceivers in Satan's hands, misleading and helping to ruin mankind. While truth is thus inflexible in its demands of undivided and exclusive loyalty the question perhaps presses, where and when does the law of charity come in? God is love, and love is the greatest of the Christian graces; where and when may we find room and opportunity for its exercise? The answer is immediate and most comprehensive, "always and everywhere." The exclusiveness of truth is an expression of the law of love. It would work the direst ill to creation throughout all its realms, were this law not inflexible, and its constancy and inviolability are the security of the material universe, and the anchor of hope in the sphere of the spiritual life. St. Paul combines most happily these ideas, when he enjoins, "speak the truth in love." In this apothegm we have the matter, truth, fixed, unalterable, and the manner, love, which makes known the truth in such wise, that all who hear or read are fascinated by the witchery of that sweet charity, "which rejoiceth in the truth, which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, which never faileth."
I have been at greater pains to explain this matter, because I am persuaded it lies at the threshold of such a discussion as the present as a stumbling-block, which prejudices success by provoking a feeling of irritation at what is supposed to be presumption and self-assertion on the part of such as I am. Far from it, I am [9/10] simply loyal to the truth as I believe established and revealed by God in regard to the ministry of His Church, and in being so I take no honour to myself, I make no claims for myself, I simply hold in trust what was given me from above, as an officer in the dear Lord's employ, and to whom I must render a strict account at last for the discharge of my duty. Did I for one moment doubt the divine origin and sanction of Episcopacy, as appointed and accredited as His official ministry, then what I have written would be entirely inadequate as an explanation of the Church's position towards those without, and beyond this I could find no defence for the Church in the attitude, which she assumes in her Ordinal and Canons, and compels her clergy and laity to assume in relation to all ministries, which have not been called into being by the laying on of a Bishop's hands. On the theory that Episcopacy is ordained by God, and that the derived orders of Presbyter and Deacon by divine appointment, represent the offices of Christ in the Church throughout all time, then our statement ought to make clear to our Brethren that our position, and that of the Church of which we are ministers is not one of self-assertion and presumption, but simply one of principle and conviction.
We may be mistaken in our apprehension of the meaning of God's word, and the teaching and example of the Apostles, and the voice of history, that is for our Brethren to prove, but while we hold this belief, we do no dishonour or disrespect to those who have no lot nor part in a ministry ordained by Bishops, in refusing to give the practical lie to our convictions of divine truth and order, by allowing them to minister at our altars.
This is not a question of comity, of good manners, or liberality, it is a question with us, who are in accord with the Ordinal and the Canons, of truth, of principle, of loyalty to God. If this view be repudiated, and it is by some in our Communion, then I am free to confess that I know of no adequate defence for our position to wards those without, in Ordinal and Canon, in formulated doctrine, and enjoined practice. I can see no reason why we should refuse to place ourselves on a level of perfect equality with the many ministries about us, our not doing so, on the assumption that Episcopacy is not directly ordained of God, appears to me to be in the highest degree illiberal and offensive. I could not endure such a position, and I am prepared to say that when I reach such a conclusion, I will not pose before men as better than my Church, [10/11] better than the great mass of my Brethren in the ministry, who have not so far lost their self-respect as to violate the spirit of the Church's law, while from position, or influence or adroitness at evasion they may defy its penalties. I will not go about with a bravado, which ought to excite disgust, and virtually say by my conduct, "I pity the narrowness and bigotry of the system of which I am by my own deliberate choice an official representative, and I wish to show the world that I have outgrown my Church, that personally I have emerged from its legal exclusiveness, and in spite of its Ordinal and its Canons I challenge the authorities of my Church to touch me." When I reach such a conclusion as this, I shall feel no temptation to follow so distressing an example of disloyalty. I will relinquish my ministry, and what would come next I know not.
But thanks be to God I have no such apprehension. Taught by the Church, as I believe, that Episcopacy is of divine appointment and ordained to be a perpetual institution for the government of the Church, and the continuance of its ministry, I find, as I think, antecedent probability amounting almost to certainty, the analogy of all governments, divine as well as human, the letter of the New Testament, the testimony of the first ages, and the insuperable objections, which lie on the very surface of things, against any other form of Church government, demonstrating to me the truth of the Church's polity as formulated in her Ordinal and protected by her Canons.
By "the Historic Episcopate," I understand the office of Bishop in the Church of God, which goes back in time, as a fact in history, to the Apostles, who received it from our Lord Himself. I believe that this office has been handed on and down from the Apostles to ourselves, as all governments are continued in this world by the principle of succession in office, and as in this case the trust was the greatest that can be confided to men, namely, the preservation of God's Church on earth, so the safeguards thrown around it were correspondingly great, were such that humanly speaking, it would be impossible for it to fail. I believe that the Sacraments are official acts, and depend ultimately upon the Episcopate for their validity. Such I believe to be the authoritative teaching of our Church, of the Church universal throughout all ages, except the Patriarchate of Rome since the Vatican decrees of 1870. In that year by making the dogma of infallibility an article of her faith, [11/12] Rome substituted her Papacy for Catholic Episcopacy not by development, but by revolution. She then superseded by her legislation and completed action Christ's Charter given in His own Person to His assembled Apostles on the Mount of Ascension, vesting the government of His Church in them, as a corporation, with restrictions and limitations, she superseded this with her absolute monarchy, the Papacy, unrestrained by any conditions, and lifted by impious self-assertion into the place of God, and by the most extravagant usurpation into that also of the universal Episcopate. Practically Rome has been doing this for centuries, but twenty years ago she formulated her corrupt practice into an article of her already enlarged creed, and enjoined it upon her children under pain of excommunication.
Hence I must except the Patriarchates of Rome now from the Universal Church as regards her polity, but up to 1870 she is my witness with the other Patriarchates for what I have affirmed my belief to be of the divine origin and purpose of Episcopacy. Prior to that date moreover as touching government, beyond ecclesiastical arrangement, Rome is a swift witness against herself, that her present position as "de fide" is novel and false, and can find no support from antiquity, universality, and Catholic consent.
I have been thus explicit in stating my belief, because I am thoroughly persuaded that no permanent good can be accomplished in the direction of Church Unity by allowing any uncertainty as to their meaning to attach to the fundamental principles upon which we propose to base our agreement; and still further, because I desire to explain to my Brethren, who are not under Episcopal government from whatever cause, why it is that in my judgment the Church cannot permit her children to recognize their ministries. It is a matter of principle, and not of caprice, or choice. It in no way reflects upon the character, or learning, or social standing of those, whom it is impossible for me to recognize as officially representing the divine Master, as His Ambassadors, because they have not the credentials, which can alone accredit them as coming from Him. Were I to drop to any lower ground than this, and say that I regarded Episcopacy as simply the best out of many forms of Church government, all of which were good, and in my opinion equally endorsed by Almighty God, then my refusal to recognize my Non-Episcopal Brethren would be, so far as I can see, an impertinence of the most intolerable kind, and for which I would deserve the reprobation of all worthy men.
 Moreover in this view of our relations, namely, that Episcopacy is divine in its origin, and the only form of Church government so far as we know appointed by God, we must be acquitted by our Brethren of that charge, of which we so often hear, and which seems to give such grave offence, that we "unchurch them." Whoever holds this belief, as I do, cannot unchurch any one. It is simply impossible. The Church in its organization is God's work, not man's. He must receive it as God gives it to him. Over its essential elements and character and plan, man has no control whatever, any more than he has over the solar system. I may be reproached for holding such beliefs, but if I find them, as I am persuaded that I do, in God's word, and if the consentient voice of Christendom sustains my interpretation of the Scriptures, how can I help my convictions. They are not mine in the sense that I invented them, devised them, got them up for the occasion; they are mine, because they come to me as God's gift to me through the instrumentality of His blessed Word, and His Church, "the Witness and Keeper of that Word." They are mine, because they have taken possession of me, and hold in subjection my moral sense as a part of God's revealed truth.
I am quite well aware that such a statement of the case is not likely to conciliate popular favour, or bring good words of approval to one's ears. For this I do not much care. I have learned by long experience to bear the burden of disapprobation with comparative equanimity, and to endure the imputation of giving my life and influence to work ill rather than good to God's Church. This is an old story. But I shall be greatly grieved, if aught that I set down in this paper shall in any wise prejudice Christian Unity, or put a stumbling-block in the way of any one, who, had I not written would have been drawn towards Episcopacy. It will be a great comfort to me to learn that such is not the case, but rather, as I believe, that a plain distinct avowal of the truth, as one believes it to be, however much it may excite dissent and provoke opposition, will be honoured for its candor, and regarded as an effort to secure kindly attention by the spirit of love which it breathes.
The question is not, as often religious controversy has been made, an issue between heaven and hell, it is the attempt to show those whom one loves, a more excellent way than theirs, and to strive to win them to walk therein, if haply one can, and if not, then to feel, not angry, but sorry that absolute success has not [13/14] crowned the well intentioned labour. In any event such a discussion as the present cannot be, "love's labour lost." Some good must result, if not exactly that for which we hoped, still some other blessing, which we had scarcely expected, and which in time will be seen to have accomplished vastly more than had we gained the immediate object for which we strove.
God permitted the convulsion and disruption of the Sixteenth Century. The causes which led to it were many and various; partly they were remote, buried in a distant past, working out their dire results by slow growth in corruption and abuse until, like poison in the blood, they covered the fair face of God's Church with putrifying sores; partly they were immediate, lying on the surface of affairs, Ecclesiastical and Civil; partly they were born of God in the inspiration "to reform the Church in her head and members;" partly they were the progeny of Satan in the lust of greed and power, and the excess and phrenzy of human passion.
Good and evil were strangely blended together in the movement from the start, and they have been working together ever since. Centuries have passed, they are working together still. We may not hope to disengage them in a day. Time and the grace of God, "creating and making in men new and contrite hearts," can alone effect a cure. Let us do what we can to abate the evil and strengthen the good, and pray to God more and more earnestly to bless our labours with success.
With this end in view I have addressed myself to the pleasant duty assigned me of making as plain and clear as I can what I mean by "the Historic Episcopate," and now I proceed to state some of the grounds on which I rest the claim that all men, who acknowledge the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, ought in my humble judgment to accept "the Historic Episcopate" as the sole ministry, so far as we know, appointed by God to act and serve as the stewards of His mysteries.
Antecedent probability leads us to anticipate that the Church, which Christ came on earth to establish, would be entrusted, until the end of the world to deputies, who would officially represent Him, and whom He would accredit to mankind by credentials of His own selection.
God's Church is one. The same generic principles run through it from first to last. Christ is the centre. "The law, "St. Paul says, "was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." 'The spirit of [14/15] prophecy," says St. John, "is the testimony of Jesus." St. Paul makes the history of the chosen people a canvas, on which God had painted the mysteries of redemption, and the examples in encouragement and warning for us Christians, upon whom the ends of the world are come. As all else was a shadow of good things to come, surely not last and feast of all would the government of Christ's Church fail to be suggested in form and character and principle by its predecessor. This reasonable, nay more than reasonable expectation is not disappointed, as I believe, in the event. I find what I had anticipated in the New Testament and the Apostolic Church, a threefold ministry as to office, representing Christ, and administering in His name, as viceroys under a King. The form of the ministry in its permanent condition, as stamped by the divine hand, acting through the appointed master builders, the Apostles, is threefold; its character is official; the principle of its perpetuation is by succession. These elements of the sacred ministry are not new. They appear under the older dispensation, and they survive in the Christian, modified as God wills. These correspondencies are, as I am persuaded, a part of a system. They are not isolated facts, curious coincidences, but portions of a great whole, which makes the plan of redemption one from beginning to end. It is easy, I am aware, to dispute this, and to ridicule, under the shelter of what is called advanced criticism, all suggestive and inferential teaching, and to seek to reduce the matter of revelation to the least quantity possible. This spirit, when it takes possession of a man, makes him exult, when he thinks he has evacuated the meaning from choice words of Holy Scripture, which have been for ages the spiritual food of saints, and evaporated them in his private crucible until naught remains but dust and ashes, empty nothingness. The only great thing, which survives in such cases, is the Critic, strutting before his fellow men, as the hero, who has vanquished Moses, and demolished the breastwork of the Old Testament, and invaded the field of the New. Nothing is more repulsive to me than the attitude of such persons, and sad to relate their name is legion. They would fain present the world with an expurgated Bible, "the pure gold," as they would say, "separated from the dross of fable and miracle, and spurious material interpolated by wicked and designing scribes." The word of God like the word of nature has its relations, and they are manifold and various. There is nothing isolated in either hook of Scripture, and the mystery of [15/16] the written volume is even greater in its wonders than that of the material world, which reveals the presence and the attributes of God. Scripture blends with the eternal word in such wise, that when He becomes incarnate, and dwells among us, He is seen to be everywhere present, or close at hand revealing Himself, or the eternal Father or the things which concern us in the plan of redemption by the operation of the Holy Ghost. "He cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course. He goeth forth from the uttermost part of the heaven, and runneth about unto the end of it again, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." (Ps. xix. 5, 6.) The field of the written word from Genesis to Revelation, when St. John laid down his pen, as he wrote the words, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all--Amen," was overshadowed by the glory of that same Jesus, and His light fell, as it now falls, upon every page. In His light we see light, and beneath, above all other truths, the revelation of the ever Blessed Trinity shines upon us, and we see it now as no human eye could see it before Jesus was glorified. The plan of redemption in its evolution must needs disclose those Who wrought out the plan, and the spirit in which They worked, and hence when revelation was completed the mystery of God's being must so far be disclosed as necessity compelled, and the doctrine of the Trinity is in consequence our blessed possession, and more than this, the approach of God to us in its purpose and intention is made known. It is in infinite love. The eternal Father creates and rules; the eternal Son sacrifices and redeems; and the eternal Spirit sanctifies and teaches. And these actions are all rooted and grounded in love. The eternal Son, Who, when He took flesh, revealed the invisible Godhead, reaches mankind in offices which mysteriously represent the activities of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. He becomes our prophet, priest and king. In these offices He brings the Holy Ghost to us, Who teaches; Himself to us, who sacrifices; and the eternal Father, Who rules. Looking then at Christ, our Lord, and through Him looking with lowly reverence at the Persons of the ever blessed Trinity in their revealed relations to mankind, and knowing that our Lord would appoint a ministry officially, as I believe, to represent Himself to the end of the world, can I help anticipating that this ministry will be threefold? Shall the offices of prophet, priest and king be blended into one, and we have the papacy on the one hand, or parity of orders on the other? [16/17] Will the orders be two or four? Nay must they not be three? I wait with eager expectation, and as the Apostles, guided by the Holy Ghost, carry out their divine Master's commands, the threefold ministry is developed before mine eyes, themselves first, appointed and commissioned by the divine Lord Himself, the deacons next in order of time, and then the elders. The development it will be noticed is downward, not upward, and the threefold ministry is before me in the Apostle, the Elder and the Deacon. The ministries of the law have their corresponding ministries under the Gospel; the three offices of Christ are represented, and the characteristic functions of the three Persons of the adorable Trinity are exercised through those offices for the salvation of mankind. Each order is stamped with its own official character. It is the official prerogative of the Apostle to rule, it is the characteristic privilege of the Presbyter to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and it is the special duty of the Deacon to teach.
The Apostle's personal relation to Christ and to the Church as a witness of the resurrection cannot be given to another, but over and above his personality he was an officer under Christ, and his office, ultimately taking and appropriating to itself one of the two names originally belonging to the second order, was handed on under that title, the Episcopate, for all time. These three orders, the Episcopate, the Presbyterate, and the Diaconate in ministering things spiritual preserve the analogy of the law, the offices of Christ, and the Persons of the blessed Trinity.
This ministry, the ministry of Christ, is to bring to mankind the blessing of the Eternal Spirit's illuminating and sanctifying gifts, through the Eternal Son's office of Prophet; the blessing of the Eternal Son's offering of Himself upon the cross through His own official Priesthood; and the blessing of the Eternal Father's rule through the Eternal Son's Kingship.
Thus anticipations, which are, I may say, inevitable to one who reads the Blessed Word of God, and meditates on what he reads, are verified in the polity of the Church of Christ, and antecedent probability amounting almost to certainty becomes a solid foundation of impregnable rock, when history, history given us by inspiration, converts expectation into reality. One feels, when he sees in the heaven of the later scriptures the planet, which he assured himself, guided by the requirements of a law, which has hitherto never failed, must be shining there, one feels, as doubtless [17/18] the astronomer did, when from his page of mathematical calculations which demanded the presence of a star in a designated spot, he lifted his telescope to the sky, and lo! the star was there. The analogies of revelation seem to me like the law of Kepler, and thanks be to God they bring me to His ministry, which is a blessed reality to me, as grasped and held by my undoubting faith.
The analogy of all governments, divine as well as human, demands that the Church of God on earth, if it be clothed with outward vesture and entrusted to human hands, must have a polity resting ultimately for its stability upon a central office, and if this office be confided to those who do not live for ever, it must depend for its perpetuity upon the principle of succession.
Must I stop to prove that Christ's Church militant here on earth is visible? Then to be consistent, I must prove an antecedent fact that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, and was seen and handled of men. Since of course there could not be a visible body joined to an invisible head, nor could the reverse be true. Then I must prove correlative facts, that this earth on which we live, and we ourselves, dwelling in these bodies are visible, since it would be scarcely conceivable that Christ, "Who is the Saviour of the body;" would give us a Church, as to its constitution, the conditions under which it exists, essentially different from Himself, and from ourselves, and our surroundings in a material world. Must I prove axioms? The conditions to which Christ has subjected His Church here on earth, as to its visibility and blending of good and evil, are to me as much axioms, as that He, the divine Lord, was made flesh and dwelt among us, that the ground beneath our feet can be seen, and that we ourselves are visible to each other. Why then must I be asked to prove that the Church of God on earth is visible? I simply say, if it be not, then there is no incarnate Lord, there is no Bible, there is no material universe. All is a delusion and an imposition. They who amuse themselves with speculating about, and talking about an invisible Church here on earth, separable, so far as we are concerned for any practical or appreciable purpose from the visible Church, are welcome to their entertainment. I propose to leave them severely alone with the friendly admonition, that they are venturing to do what our Lord sternly forbids in the Holy Gospel, namely, to separate the tares from the wheat, the bad from the good. The invisible Church is beyond this present world, its innumerable hosts are waiting for us. God [18/19] grant that we may not disappoint their expectations, but may be slumbered with those, who have gone before in glory everlasting.
Meanwhile now and here we are, or ought to be members of the visible Church, and it is in reference to her unity I am addressing myself. The character of the polity of Christ's Church we know on the warrant of His own word. It is a Kingdom. Let us emphasize this, since heresy has assailed this truth also, and asserted that it is a republic, and many have practically sought to make it such. Let the form of government however instituted by Christ for His Church have been what it may, in any case its perpetuity depends upon its continuity, and that continuity is secured in the permanency of the central or highest office, which holds under its sway and control all other functions of the body governed. An office held by men, who must die, can only be continued in one of two ways, either by renewal of the office by some superior power, whenever the office becomes vacant, or else by the principle of succession in office. It is the highest or central office which makes, by its unbroken continuity the government, whether it be Empire, Kingdom, or Republic, one and the same throughout its entire existence. We proudly celebrated our centennial on April 30th, 1889. How came it to pass that we as a nation were then one hundred years old? Very few of our fellow citizens had reached that age, and those few, whose lives did span the entire period, have since died, or must soon die, and our great Republic, it is our hope, will live on, and live long. Where are we to seek the principle of its continuous life from Washington to the present hour? In the Presidential office handed on by succession. English history sweeps back into the past over eight hundred years to the Norman Conquest, and it is the boast of her patriotic sons that England as we know her is nearly one thousand years old, and they make good their boast in the assertion of the principle that "the King lives forever," that is that the office never dies, but runs right on, a living reality from William the Conqueror to Victoria. The Church of Christ on earth is a Kingdom, a visible organization, builded by Himself directly or by deputy, and under Him as the Supreme Sovereign Lord. He confided its government, while He still remained visible on earth as its head, to a corporation of eleven men, and though He was to be withdrawn from sight soon afterwards, it would only be until the end of the world, when he would re-appear, and become visible once more to all mankind. [19/20] Meanwhile, during all the intervening ages, He pledges Himself to be with His Apostles, the corporation to which He entrusts the government, and thus pledges too that His Church shall endure as long. The march of the Church's history therefore must be on the word of its Head, for the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, through all the centuries from the day of Pentecost to the end of time. On what shall its uninterrupted continuity depend? I answer, it must either depend upon the renewal of the charter to every fresh hand, which receives the trust by miracle, as a voucher to mankind that it is renewed, or else it must follow the analogy of all other governments, and be perpetuated by succession in office.
Why should this principle of succession, when applied to the ministry of Christ, meet with such violent opposition, and be treated often with apparent scorn and contempt? We know that the Christian ministry is not continued by miraculous renewal to every generation. No one pretends that this is the case. Then we are shut up to the inevitable conclusion, if the ministry has any the least shadow of an official character, that it must be perpetuated by succession in office. This principle is employed by our Heavenly Father, when He gives to our lost race the Seed of the Woman, the promised Redeemer. He draws out His lineage twice on the inspired page from father to son. He makes use of the same principle in continuing His priesthood under the elder dispensation. Why should He not do the same under the New or Christian dispensation? What is the objection to His doing so? Analogy of the strongest kind leads us to anticipate that He will, and evidence, which amounts in my judgment to demonstration, proves that He does. In Holy Scripture we learn that the Apostles ordained many by the laying on of hands to co-operate with them while they lived and succeed them when they were dead. The first of the Apostolical Canons, which undoubtedly is genuine and represents the mind of the Apostles, enjoins that a Bishop must be ordained by two or three Bishops, and the General Council of Nice in its fourth Canon, which has been the law of the Universal Church ever since, requires that three at least shall concur in an ordination. These provisions secure, I may say, absolutely against the possibility of failure. The three strands, united in every ordination of a Bishop, multiply by three as we go back in time, until after a few removes from the present they become too numerous easily to count. This is the sum and substance of [20/21] Apostolical Succession, which is simply, as I believe, by divine direction the continuing the ministry of Christ on earth by the same principle, which obtains in all other governments. Tactual succession, as a method of conveying spiritual gifts, is mentioned frequently as though the bare statement of the alleged truth were enough to condemn it. Alas! The same spirit of unbelief would have strengthened Naaman in his rage, when he rejected with proud contempt, the divinely prescribed waters of the Jordan. It would have stood by our Lord to cavil and gainsay, when He employed, as He did, material instruments in the working of His great wonders. It would evacuate, as it does, all efficacy from sacraments and make them empty signs. Tactual succession as a conveyancer of grace may provoke a sneer, but let me ask those who are disposed to laugh, to name a single blessing in the spheres of body, mind or spirit, which they have ever received or now enjoy, which has not come to them through the instrumentality of matter. I know of none. When God would visit us, He comes into the world through birth of the Virgin Mary, clothing Himself with our flesh. The incarnation embodies the fundamental law of the divine economy. It runs through sacrament, and means of grace, and prayer and praise, and the word read and preached. This is the highest expression of a law, which is universal, and follows us from the home, where we were born, through school and college, and business, and leaves us not until the viaticum has passed our lips, and the commendatory prayer has accompanied our souls to Paradise.
Perhaps you tell me as an illustration in reply, a mother's love is an immaterial blessing, and has, so far as you can see, naught to do with matter. A mother's love, how came you to know the happiness of possessing it? Awakening consciousness disclosed to you a face that always smiled upon you, hands which fondled you, a voice which lulled you to sleep, and charmed you when awake with its cradle song. As years advanced you learned more and more of that precious love through eye and lip and hand, and care, which threw its sweet, its tender details of thoughtfulness, and watchfulness around you wherever you were, or whithersoever you went, and these the outgoings of that wonderful passion brought you back along the pathways, which it had made to reach you, and always you found yourself on the same spot, beside your mother, and there and thus, as you gazed upon her form, you came to know and value a mother's love. Tactual succession carry on [21/22] grace, the grace of Holy Orders! Why should it not be so, if it falls under the universal law of God's enactment, and if God wills? I firmly believe that God has so willed, and that grace so comes.
The New Testament, as I read its evidence, very clearly discloses to me the Apostolate as appointed and commissioned by Christ to represent Him to the end of the world. "He chose His Apostles," He says Himself, "and ordained them that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain." (St. John xv. 16). The divine Master keeps these chosen disciples with Him during His earthly ministry, teaching them by example, as well as by precept, subjecting them to the blessed experience of familiar intercourse with Him day by day for years and giving them from time to time in a fragmentary way, as it is set down in the Holy Gospel, the elements of that ministerial commission, which He would ultimately sum up in a plenary and comprehensive charter, when He invested them with the government of His Church under Himself, and Himself alone, to the end of the world. He had told them beforehand, "As my Father hath sent Me, even so send I you," and He hath breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (St. John xx. 21, 22). And now at the last supreme hour, when His earthly ministry was ended and His work was done He gathers eleven of the twelve around Him ( Judas had gone to his own place, and St. Matthias was not yet chosen) and as His last act, and His last words, He blesses them, and says, "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 I am with you alway even to the end of the world," (St. Matt. xxviii. 18-2o), and then He ascended into Heaven, no more to appear until He shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. Nothing can exceed the solemnity of the occasion, and our Lord seems to have reserved what He then did, the issuing His commission to His deputies, which was to run without amendment or repeal until His return, that He might thereby impress mankind with its importance, and its perpetual obligation. The very words of our Lord are before us, set down for our guidance and instruction by the Holy Ghost. Let us reverently consider a few things, which they clearly teach, as I understand them, and I think I have the consent of the Church. First, we have the ground on which our Lord [22/23] rests His authority in giving this charter of government to His Apostles. It is the plenary power delegated to Him as the perfect man, perfected through suffering, risen from the dead, about to ascend into Heaven, filled with all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, it is in virtue of this unlimited power, as the Head of the Church, He places next under Himself whom He would, to speak and act on His behalf and in His Name, not one, St. Peter, and the alleged successors of St. Peter, Popes, not the people one and all without distinction or difference, but the eleven Apostles, whom He Himself had selected and educated for the very purpose. Second, The character of the government thus instituted is clearly defined, it is not an earthly monarchy, vesting all power in one, nor is it a republic making the people supreme, it is a corporation made up of duly qualified members to act in mutual dependence upon each other, and all and several holding office as viceroys under the King Supreme, Christ upon His throne in Heaven. Third, The jurisdiction granted is clearly stated, as to territory, all nations, and as to time, until the end of the world. This is the scope of the Catholic Church, and she is here committed to the custody of the Apostolate. Fourth, The lines of work along which the members of the corporation are to labour are precisely drawn, to minister in the word and sacraments, to teach and to baptize, teaching in its fullest sense, and baptism, and the subsequent ministries which baptism implies, for they were to teach all things, whatsoever the Master had commanded. Fifth, The limitations under which they were to exercise their ministry, are prescribed with unmistakable intention, they were not to teach and do as they pleased, but they were to teach whatsoever their Lord had commanded them. This restriction rested on them in word and act, and it is of supreme importance. Again, the commission was given to them as a body, jointly, and this restrained them from acting or speaking singly, each by himself. This limitation also is of paramount importance, its violation has plunged the Patriarchate of Rome into her grievous errors. She has broken with the corporation, and wandered off, and set up for herself. Sixth, Our Lord in this charter very plainly recognizes, and would have us recognize the Apostolate as an office, distinct from the men who bore the office, since He promises "to be with them unto the end of the world." This He was not in any sense personally, except in the case of St. John, if we explain the end of the world by the destruction of Jerusalem, and then, if [23/24] we adopt so miserable a subterfuge as that, the survival of St. John, one of the Eleven would by no means justify the promise, "Lo! I am with you (in the plural number) always, even unto the end of the world." These words of our Lord, His last words, manifestly in my judgment, and I have the mind of the Church with me, bring out the office of the Apostles, as distinguished from their persons. In their persons the original twelve bore a relation to Jesus Christ which was limited by its very nature to themselves, and could not be transmitted, and no one, so far as I know, ever contended that it could be. This personal qualification comes out clearly in the choice of St. Matthias into the place of the traitor, Judas, it was that he might be with the eleven a witness of the resurrection. But apart from this personal relation to Jesus Christ, which belongs to them as individuals, He, the Master invested them with an office, which included all necessary functions and powers for the government of His Church, under Him as King, until He should come again. This office, as we have seen, He clearly recognizes in His charter, as destined to endure throughout all generations. He separates it from their persons, and sees it handed on from them to their successors as age comes after age, and He promises to shelter that office with His special presence for ever. These very Apostles, who heard our Lord utter these words, so understood Him, as I have tried to explain, since we have their own practical comment upon them within the next ten days. Acting under the direction of the Holy Ghost, they proceeded to fill the vacancy created by the fall of Judas, and in doing so, St. Peter says, of Judas, "he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry," (Acts i. 17 ), and then he proceeds to apply to Judas and St. Matthias the prophecy which follows, "For it is written" he says, "in the book of Psalms, let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein, and his bishroprick (margin, or office, or charge,) let another take," (Acts i. 20), here there can be no mistake. The Apostles, and before them in the Psalms, the Blessed Spirit distinguished between Judas as a person and his office. The office remained although Judas the son of perdition "went to his own place." The evidence of the New Testament then, as I read it, instructed by the consensus of early authorities, shows me, when our Lord ascended into Heaven His ministry existing in one order, but that the highest. This was before the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church. Restrained from action [24/25] until they received the Holy Ghost by the prohibition of their divine Master, they began immediately to exercise their office in all its functions. Presently we read of their ordaining deacons, an inferior order, and then afterwards we read of elders, or presbyters, another inferior order, and these were under the Apostles, and with them constitute the three orders of the Christian Ministry.
It will be observed, and special attention is invited to the fact, that this ministry is developed downward and not upward. It was not the Bishop or the Apostle rising out of the Presbyter, but the Presbyter and Deacon descending out of the Apostle. The popular mistake has been that imparity, or difference of orders was a growth of an age subsequent to the Apostles, and was the result of human ambition giving us the "summus sacerdos" of Tertullian, and the Cyprianic Bishop of the third age. All this is the pure invention of so called philosophical historians. There is no basis of fact whatever for it to rest upon. Just the contrary is the truth. Our Lord invested His Apostles with plenary powers, with all the powers He ever intended to bestow for the government and administration of His Church to the end of time. They were His sole ministry, guarded and guided by the Holy Ghost, as He left the earth on the day of the Ascension. They so continued until they called into existence the inferior order of deacon, and then the inferior order of presbyter or bishop. Be it remembered then that the highest order is first in sequence of time and not the lowest. The confusion of names as applied to the three orders ought to occasion the careful reader no difficulty. Undoubtedly the second order is rich in having two names at first. We find them in the Epistles. But in process of time the second order surrendered one of its alternative names to the first order, and its members were henceforth called Bishops, instead of Apostles, and the second order were restricted to the title presbyter. The statement of Epiphanius is doubtless correct that this arrangement was made with universal consent, because it is obviously so proper, that the original twelve and those personally associated with them should be known as Apostles, to mark their personal pre-eminence, and distinguish them from their successors in office, who could lay no claim to a share in such blessedness.
I pass to speak of what has always been a surprise to me, the demand, namely, that is made by those who refuse Episcopacy, to show them what they call "Diocesan Episcopacy" in the New [25/26] Testament, and because this cannot be produced to their satisfaction they claim to be justified in rejecting the polity of the Catholic Church altogether. I say this has always been a surprise to me, because it seems so unreasonable an expectation. The Church did not find, when she was born on the day of Pentecost, a constituency of laymen waiting to be organized into Missions and Parishes, and erected into Dioceses, nor did she find Church-buildings, and Rectories, and Chapter Houses, and Cathedrals. The Church for long years was missionary in her work and character, and her taking shape and form was retarded by persecution. The Apostles and their successors were represented more nearly by our pioneer missionary Bishops like Selwyn in New Zealand, or Stewart, or Mountain in Canada, or Kemper in our North West Territory. The earliest approach to a diocesan Bishop appears to be St. James of Jerusalem. This was naturally so, because Jerusalem was the Mother Church, and for several years, Eusebius says, twelve, all the Apostles made Jerusalem their headquarters, while they were, as a corporation with mutual consultation and co-operation, practically putting into operation there, and in the Christian communities round about, as they were formed, those things, which "the Lord had commanded to be observed," the doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers.
The references to St. James, and notably his position in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts xv.) as the President, when all the Apostles were present, indicate a pre-eminence due to local jurisdiction. Diocesan Episcopacy in the accidents, which mark its condition in subsequent times, when the Church had gathered into her fold large portions of the populations, to whom she had brought the Gospel Message, can scarcely be expected during the period covered by the New Testament Scriptures. This was the infant, the missionary, the formative period. All that I am contending for are the essentials, not the accidents. The office, and not the circumstances, which time and growth and altered conditions, will bring around the office. The Apostles were never Diocesan Bishops in the modern sense of the term. They were Bishops, however, missionary Bishops in the truest sense, and their jurisdictions, for they seem to have arranged jurisdictions among themselves, that there might be no confusion or collision, their jurisdictions were patriarchal, and they ruled other missionary Bishops under them, as did St. Paul, St. Timothy and St. Titus, and others, and [26/27] subsequently St. John, the Bishops of Proconsular Asia. Diocesan Episcopacy is the normal condition, in which the office is exercised when the Church has grown and put on strength in numbers and. wealth, but Episcopacy is the office, with which our Blessed Lord, I believe, as taught by Holy Scripture, invested His Apostles before the Church came into being on the day of Pentecost, so that they were prepared, as soon as they were filled with the Holy Ghost, to exercise their office, in teaching, baptizing, confirming, breaking the bread, ordaining, and taking the oversight of the flock in government and discipline as occasion required.
The word of God and ancient authors, so far as I have ever read, lend not the slightest support to the theory that, "Parochial Episcopacy," as it is called, or parity of orders, or Presbyterianism, in the first age developed into Diocesan Episcopacy in the second and third ages, and then in time Diocesan Episcopacy developed into the Papacy. If this theory be true, then Presbyterianism is responsible for Popery, since it first occupied the ground, and held in its bosom the seeds of mischief which germinated and grew into this noxious system of usurpation and error. But whatever else Presbyterianism may be held accountable for, it is in no sense responsible in this way for the Papacy. The Papacy, as a polity or form of Church government, is not a development out of anything, which went before in the religion of Christ, it is a revolution, a putting out of sight the old, and replacing it with the new. It is an overthrow of the government organized by the Lord Himself in Person, and the superseding it by a government contrived by man. Our Lord on the Mount of Ascension committed the government and administration of His Church to a corporation of eleven men on a level, as His deputies, to act in mutual dependence upon each other, and not any one of them alone and by himself, until He should come again at the end of the world. And to prevent any misconception of His meaning, and perversion of His sovereign will in time to come, H gave as His last bequest to the Church a charter or constitution prescribing the powers and duties, and limitations under which His deputies were to exercise their office.
In this divinely instituted government all power comes from above, not from below, and absolute centralization cannot be reached on earth in any child of man, the centre is the Lord in Heaven Up to a certain point centralization is secured, but it cannot go beyond the collective Episcopate, represented by the eleven [27/28] Apostles, who were originally addressed by our Blessed Lord, and to whom the charter was given. The balance of powers, as here provided for, is perfect. It need scarcely be said that all titles such as Metropolitans and Archbishops, and Patriarchs do not denote offices of divine appointment in God's Church, but simply Bishops, exercising by ecclesiastical arrangement, jurisdiction as to certain matters of business adjusted by Canon over their brother Bishops and their Dioceses.
It will be seen therefore that the Papacy or Monarchy in Christ's Church, for that is what it means, is not a development out of Holy Scripture, or Christ's Charter, or the teaching and polity of the Catholic Church. It is a revolution, a usurpation, an impiety. To admit for one moment that parity of orders advanced by a natural law to imparity in Diocesan Episcopacy, and from that in obedience to the same law sprang the Papacy, is to countenance what is, I am thoroughly convinced, false, and to surrender unconditionally to Rome. Christ's Charter blocks Rome. While it remains as the constitution of the Catholic Church, the Papacy is ruled out. It rests on man's foundation for its guarantee and support, not on God's. While Christ's Charter remains, no theory can be successfully maintained, which develops the sacred ministry upward from Presbyterianism into Episcopacy, and from Episcopacy into the Papacy, and so concedes everything to Rome. Thank God, Christ's Charter stands, it shelters our Episcopacy, and is the guarantee to the world that our ministry is after His mind, that He left it to be developed downward, as ours is in the Presbyterate, and the Diaconate and that the co-ordinate Apostolate standing next to Him, would for ever bar the lawful advance of any one beyond the bounds, which He has set.
Passing from the New Testament Scriptures with St. John's voice lingering in our ears, we are addressed by a series of writers, whose testimony upon the subject of Church government seems to me decisive of the question of its character, if any doubt remains in the mind, when one closes the record of God's word.
It is not my purpose now to quote in detail from the writings of St. Clement of Rome, of St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, and many others, whose evidence is embedded in the History of Eusebius, but to make a few observations upon their testimony, which may serve to give it the weight, which it deserves.
 The first years of the Church's life were not favourable for the production of literary work, and for its preservation when produced. Persecution rendered all earthly things too uncertain to justify, much less to encourage men to write for the benefit of their contemporaries, or posterity. And the ruthless way, in which a. Christian's property was liable at any moment to be pillaged and destroyed by the heathen, would be likely to remove the last incentive to exertion, if in spite of every difficulty, one felt still disposed to use his pen. Hence it is a matter of genuine surprise, that the first three centuries of our era make so large a contribution to our literature. As might have been expected however, it was called forth for the most part by the exigency of circumstances, forced from the writers, we may say, to meet an occasion, which demanded their interference. Such were the letters, for example, of St. Clement and St. Ignatius, and much of the writings of St. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and St. Cyprian. The Apologies were all of this character, at least their authors thought they were. This consideration frees the evidence of these writers from any suspicion of being prejudiced in reference to Episcopacy. Again, the testimony thus gathered on the subject of the polity of the Church is not furnished by those, who are consciously giving evidence for or against any theory of Church government, but they are writings in every case with a widely different purpose, and the nature and character of the ministry of Christ come into view, not because it is their intention to set them before us, but because they must needs do so in treating of the matter, which they have in hand. They are not controversialists, any of them, on the subject of Church government. It was not then a matter in dispute. These two considerations impart the highest value to the testimony of these writers on the ecclesiastical polity of their day, what they tell us is told, because they are providentially summoned into court; and what they tell us is not what they had the most distant idea of telling, but what we learn from them, as it were by the way, without their being aware that they were giving us the information which we so eagerly desire.
As to the witnesses themselves their character for trustworthiness stands as high as that of any who have ever given evidence on earth. In several instances martyrdom sealed their sincerity and constancy, in others confessorship attested their willingness to be: martyrs, in all, their lives establish their integrity and veracity.
 And now we ask in a word, what is the substance of their testimony as to the polity of God's Church, as they knew it? It is clear and decisive. It presents to us the Church in East and West as ruled by Bishops, with Presbyters and Deacons under them as inferior orders. It reveals a state of things different in some respects, as to details, and what we may call accidents, from our own times, but in all essentials it shows that we inherit precisely what they possessed. We must remember that one of these witnesses, St. Clement, was a contemporary for many years with the Blessed Apostles, that another, St. Ignatius, survived St. John not more than sixteen years at the most, that a third, St. Polycarp, had been a pupil of St. John, and a fourth, St. Irenaeus, was in turn a pupil of St. Polycarp. Are not these men competent to carry on the teachings and practice of the Apostles to their contemporaries, and hand them on to posterity? If the answer be in the negative, then I ask what are you going to do, when other teachings and practices of the Apostles, which you on the principle of private selection adopt and hold dear, are impugned, as for instance, the substitution of the first day for the seventh as a day holy unto the Lord, infant baptism, the admission of women to the Holy Communion? You are right in adopting these practices and others, but if you have no other reason for observing them than your own private judgment, then you are so far wrong, and you cannot maintain your position on any consistent ground against the adversary. If you affirm that the contemporaries of the Apostles and those who survived them, are competent to tell us what the Apostles taught and practiced beyond what is set down in so many words in the Bible, and hence that you receive on their evidence these customs, then I reply, certainly, you are right, but you must be consistent, and accept also on the more abundant testimony of these same witnesses and others the polity of the Catholic Church in three orders, as appointed by the divine Master, and established by His Apostles, and existing from the beginning and continuing down to the time when these authors severally wrote. The Bible not merely implies that there is, but requires that there must be, a living keeper, and witness to hold it in trust, and interpret it for mankind. That living keeper and witness is, as I firmly believe, the Living Church. These two mutually demand the existence side by side of each other. Separate them, and in theory and practice you destroy the one or the other, and the survivor must soon perish also.
 The Bible without the Church would be a dead thing, a museum of fossilized remains of a venerable past, an instrument of music with many keys and chords, but no player to elicit a sound, such it would be without the Living Church to preserve ever in existence an authorized ministry to read and preach its blessed words, to celebrate the sacraments which it enjoins, and to offer the worship which it prescribes to Almighty God.
The Church without the Bible would be a vain thing, destined to vanish away and come to naught. It would be an institution without a foundation on which to rest; its ministry would be alleged ambassadors without credentials, its sacraments in appearance sacred rites, but with no warrant from above for their reality as means of grace. "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The Bible without the Church is discredited absolutely and forever as a divine revelation; and the Church without the Bible ceases at once to be the body of Christ, and becomes a mere voluntary association of men.
These considerations lead me to say a word in conclusion relative to the insuperable objections, as they seem to me, which immediately confront one, if he rejects the Historic Episcopate and the threefold ministry as ordained by God and clearly taught in Holy Scripture and by Ancient Authors.
The New Testament at once, on the theory that the Historic Episcopate is not true, falls out of harmony with the Old as regards the most important factor in God's covenant relations to man. Hitherto God has either miraculously communicated His gifts, or else, as under the law, He accredits an official ministry in three orders to convey His blessings. Now all this is changed, not merely in manner and method, but in essence and in principle. There ceases to be a divine organization planted and builded by God; there ceases to be an official ministry representing God in acts towards men, there cease to be sacraments, as official acts conveying grace to such as are qualified to receive. The New Testament is broken off from the Old. It stands by itself. Everything begins anew. To me the objection is insuperable. It implies a contradiction, plain and distinct, of our Blessed Lord's oft repeated appeal to the Old Testament, as bearing testimony to Himself and the things which belong to Him.
The rejection of the Historic Episcopate breaks with the past, except a brief space of less than a century, which immediately [31/32] succeeded our Lord's Ascension, when and during which it is alleged the Church was Presbyterian, or Congregational. Leaving that short, very short, interval out of account, all the past from fifty or sixty years after Pentecost to the 16th century is a long, long night, overshadowed by a ministry of human contrivance, the outcome of man's ambition, and man's sin, which superseded, and by universal consent was allowed to supersede, the ordinances of God. This past of Christianity, well nigh its entire past, drops out of recognition, at all events of sympathy with the present, on the assumption that parity of orders is God's plan of government for His Church. In that view of Christian history the writings of the Fathers, apostolic and primitive, the records of the martyrs, the lives and the very names of the saints, the assemblies of the faithful, the Councils of the Church, the Creeds of Christendom, the Canons, as the expression of ecclesiastical law, the Cathedrals, the ancient parish Churches, the painting, the sculpture, the traditions, the customs, the very nomenclature of religion are ignored and forgotten, or if remembered, are contemplated merely as the scholar studies and regards the archaeology of Greece and Rome, and admires and criticises the products of classical genius, which survive in temple or amphitheatre, or fresco, or chiselled stone. All, all is a blank as exciting any living appreciative interest on the part of the present which is absolutely divorced from the mighty past of Christ's Church, save and excepting fifty or sixty years at the very beginning. Can it be that the Eternal Son of God ordained a plan of government for His Church, which, as regards, its essential character, went out of sight, and out of mind in less than three score years and ten, and left a blank of more than fourteen hundred years to be filled up with a system of man's invention foreign to the divine mind, and then at that late date the original plan was recovered? Can this be true? It involves to my mind an insuperable objection. Once more the rejection of the Historic Episcopate as ordained of God, as I hold it to be, involves the difficulty that we must in consequence deny that there now exists on earth a living Body, the Body of Christ, animated by the Holy Spirit and bringing to mankind through an official ministry in sacraments and holy rites the gifts of grace. To deny this is practically to leave man alone with God, to be his own all in all. The Church as it is called and preaching and sacraments, and indeed everything outside of one's own self in such a view is nothing [32/33] or next to nothing as regards one's rescue from the dominion of Satan, and salvation through the Redeemer. All is a system of externals, so far as the system itself is concerned. If there be any life in these things it is not because God is behind them, but because God is in the man, and the man makes the things beneficial to himself. He makes his own Church and shapes it to his will, he makes his own sacraments and gives them value according to the measure of his power, he makes his own teacher, and minister, and accepts him or dismisses him according as he likes or dislikes him. Man is left alone with God to work out his own salvation in his own way with less adventitious help from outside, than is supplied in the training of the body in the gymnasium, and the culture of the mind in school and college. Such a view of God's surrender of man to himself as in no other sphere he leaves him, and where most of all he is helpless is, as I study God's providential dealing with our race, and as I read Holy Scripture, and survey Christian history, contrary to what I would anticipate that God would do, repugnant to the teaching of His word and in conflict with the experience of the past. It constitutes an insuperable objection to the rejection of the Historic Episcopate, which is in my judgment God's official ministry appointed to represent Him in His Body the Church in official acts, which convey grace to those qualified to receive.
I fear that my plainness of speech may in some quarters give offence or provoke irritation. If so, I am sincerely sorry. It is not my intention. I write with a very different purpose. I have been trying to speak the truth in love. My blows, if my arguments are so accounted, have been aimed at what I believe to be errors, not at men. It does not follow because a man is involved in error, that it is his fault. There have been and there are thousands in heresy and schism, who are not heretics and schismatics. It is their heritage, their surroundings in childhood, in education, in reading, in associations, in friendships, in marriage have shut them in, and they cannot leap over the wall, even though they would. It must be a conviction deep and strong which nerves a man to break with his past, perhaps the inherited past of generations behind him. Then when he feels such a conviction gaining upon him through mind and conscience, let him pray for divine guidance and assistance, and by the help of the Lord he can and will leap over the wall of prejudice and misconception and error and find himself at home in his Father's house. If he does not, but resists the claims [33/34] of reason and the call of duty, and refuses the aids of grace, and from any cause remains where he was, then the man needs no one to judge him, he is self condemned.
One word more. It is often said by those who are writing about Church unity that they will never take any position or make any concessions, which will imply that their ancestors, or their great human leaders were wrong. Surely such ground is untenable. Is it not a proclamation that there is something more imperious in its demands than loyalty to truth? Reverence for men's persons, and a jealousy for what is supposed to be their honour. On these terms would error ever be renounced, and truth accepted in its stead? On these terms would the heathen ever have been converted to Christianity? On these terms, would these very Reformers and great Leaders, whom our friends so profoundly venerate, ever have gone forth, as they did, in the cause of righteousness, as they believed, not knowing whither they went? If our Brethren are anxious to copy the example of these worthies, they must not compromise, much less sacrifice truth to what they conceive to be the honour of any man. They must act upon the principle enunciated by the great Apostle, "Yea let God be true, but every man a liar." Let us be loyal to the truth, cost what it may. If we are, we need not fear, our own reputation, and the reputation of our forefathers will take care of themselves. Such fidelity will vindicate us. And for those, who have gone before, their record is with God.