City, in Christ Church, New York, on the Evening of
May 8th, 1888.
A FEW words are necessary to put the reader in possession of facts which he ought to know, in justice as well to the writer as to himself.
The Church Club of New York honoured the lecturer with an invitation to deliver an Address on the subject of "The Papacy in its Relation to Christian Unity." He accepted, and intended to write out in full what he had to say, but the press of work in his diocese, and other duties, prevented. Accordingly he was obliged to address his audience, on the 8th of May last, without a single note. When the lecture was ended, the lecturer supposed that his work was done. But he was doomed to disappointment. The Club desired to print the Lectures, and would not consent to omit the one on Rome, hence the unhappy lecturer was forced to reproduce on paper what he had some days before--two full weeks--uttered by word of mouth. The only time he could command for this purpose was while crossing the Atlantic on the steamer; since, immediately on reaching Europe, other engagements claimed him, without interruption, until his return, in the autumn, to America.
Under the above circumstances the Lecture has been prepared for publication-=away from books, on the bosom of the deep. The lecturer does not seek to deprecate criticism, but he would suggest to those who are disposed [iii/iv] to be censorious, that it might be worth their while first to try their hand at preparing an historic lecture without a single book of reference, and with the accompaniment of ocean waves, a rolling steamer, and friends and neighbours on all sides prostrate with sea-sickness. The writer has tried to present the substance of what he said on the evening of the 8th of May, 1888, in Christ Church, New York City, and he trusts that his memory has been true in the facts and dates which he has set down under its instruction. About his argument he feels no doubt whatsoever.
STEAMER "GERMANIC," AT SEA,
June 1st, 1888.
THE CHURCH OF ROME IN HER RELATION TO CHRISTIAN UNITY.
THERE is no name with which a student of the past can conjure more successfully than with that of Rome. Whether he proposes to deal with secular or ecclesiastical history the word is equally potent. It represents what fills a larger sphere in either field of research than any other. There are cities which perchance can challenge comparison with Rome in the one or the other of these departments of history alone, but there is none which can approach her in both.
When one utters the magic name, "Rome," he throws a spell upon memory. The past gives up its treasures. A panorama passes before the mind, which reproduces a period of nearly three thousand years, and illustrates the fortunes of mankind, as they grow and advance and reach down from century to century, and come at length to us, who are living here to-day, in speech, and customs, and laws, and institutions, and religion, and with some in superstitions. The contemplation of this double life of Rome, her secular and ecclesiastical history, places us abreast of our subject, assigned us by the Church Club of New York, to discuss in your presence to-night, "The Relation of the Papacy to the Recovery of Christian Unity."
 We cannot meet this question without taking into view the career of Rome antecedent to the birth of Christ, and her relative position among the nations of the earth at the day of Pentecost; since, as we shall presently see, these facts constitute the suggestion, we may say the inspiration of Papal aggrandisement and usurpation as embodied now in the polity administered by Leo XIII.
It is interesting in the highest degree, as an abstract study, to note the origin of Rome in the smallest of small beginnings, with the fortunes of the Twins, and to trace its progress through the mist of fable and legend until we emerge at length in company with a State which has already attained respectable proportions in territory and population, and developed the principles which are destined to contribute in a larger degree than anything else to its almost uninterrupted success on the lines of growth, consolidation, and conquest. The Roman, we discover, was born to obey as well as to rule, and hence the individual imparts to the national life his own characteristics, and builds up institutions, civil and military, which embody pre-eminently the ideas of order, law, discipline, subordination, and organisation.
Were we to place before the eye a series of maps,. representing the world of the ancients from the eighth century before Christ, century by century, down to the date of our Saviour's birth, we would see the City of the. Seven Hills, as map replaced map, enlarging its domain, gradually at first, then by rapid strides, advancing steadily, grasping, and holding as it grasped, province after province, kingdom after kingdom, nation after nation, until the map. which closed the series, and spread before our astonished gaze the earth as it existed politically when Jesus dwelt among us in the flesh, would show us the entire circle of civilised peoples tributary to Rome. Her arm on the right had swept to the North and the East and the South, and brought the countries which Alexander had conquered beneath her sway; her arm on the left had rested upon [6/7] Gaul, Southern Germany, Hispania, and more distant Britain, and reaching down beyond the Pillars of Hercules and the Mediterranean Sea had laid hold of Mauritania and Numidia, and joined the conquests which she had made in the East and the South to those which she had achieved in the North and the West. The little speck, not larger apparently than a man's hand, on the banks of the Tiber in the eighth century before the Christian era, had grown through the intervening ages until it covered the whole face of the earth when Augustus reigned. The period of the kings, the local conflicts with surrounding tribes, the invasion of the Gauls, the Samnite and Punic wars, the wars of Jugurtha and Pompey and Caesar will serve as indices to mark her advance and help us to chronicle the progress of Rome towards universal empire. The earth has never seen such an empire before or since, and doubtless never will again. Relatively to the population then living it was immeasurably the greatest. In point of territory it filled the whole orbis terrarum of civilised mankind, and went beyond, and exacted submission from barbarous tribes which occupied the border lands between light and darkness, the races which we know, and the fabulous creatures which legend presents as dwelling in the extremities of the world. It was not alone, nor chiefly the population, nor the territory of the Roman Empire which made her great, but her organisation, her unity. Rome, the City, summed up the Empire; she was the heart, the soul of the huge domain; she was the centre, from her radiated all power, and all looked to her for protection. She sealed her conquests, at her discretion, with the signet ring of her franchise, and Asiatic and African, as well as European, became Roman citizens. The title was no empty name, witness the invective of Cicero, note the appeal of Saul of Tarsus in the prison at Philippi. Rome unified the world as she strode out and on from Italy in the march of victory; she made her tributaries, in a sense more than nominal, "Roman." They received the impress of her [7/8] spirit and institutions, and in return they made their contribution to enhance her greatness. She was the mistress of the world, and was acknowledged as such from the Indus to the Atlantic Ocean.
There were great cities before Rome, there have been great cities since; there are great, no doubt greater cities now, but Rome at the time the Church of Christ was begotten by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost was unparalleled and unapproachable in its greatness. It was the first city of the world in every department of human endeavour, and in every element of material greatness. Other cities have excelled in population, in commerce, in arts, in manufactures, in finance, in worldliness, and, we may add, in wickedness and sin; in some one or more of these characteristics individual cities, which can be named, have ranked first, or are now accounted pre-eminent. Rome at the time of which we speak was facile princeps in all. She was the seat of universal empire, her armies were in all the world, along her Via Sacra marched triumphal processions, which displayed trophies and captives from every clime. No census tells the exact number of people who dwelt in her houses and occupied her suburbs, but the ruins, which lie around, and stretch away for many miles from the Forum and. the Capitol, proclaim a population of at least a million. Her shops, her busy streets, the noise and din of many crafts exhibit her industries and tell of the activity and volume of her trade and commerce. The elegancies of life were there in all their superfluity, luxuries which minister to the senses, and delights which gratify the taste and ravish the imagination. And there, too, the world, in the darkest phases of its rebellion against God, and light and truth and morals, stood forth in gigantic proportions, regardless of shame and defying restraint. Rome was indeed what her own sad, desponding historian describes her as being, the "cloaca maxima," the mighty sewer into which the wickedness of the whole world was poured.
Let us look off from Rome on another scene. The place [8/9] is a hill, not the Mons Palatinus, but the Mount of Ascension, and the figures on whom we gaze are not Romulus and his followers, but the King of Kings and His Apostles. The occasion is not the founding of an earthly city, but the setting up of the heavenly kingdom. Our Lord, in the supreme moment of His sojourn among men, as His final act, with His last words, is giving to His disciples the plenary charter of their ministry, and prescribing the fundamental and essential principles of the constitution of His Church. The fourth great empire, as sketched by the Prophet Daniel, has now reached the zenith of its power, and the fifth, the final kingdom, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, is coming to its birth. The King in disguise, for the infinite God is hidden beneath the form of the Son of Man--the King in disguise is taking order for the government and administration of His kingdom by deputation, until He shall come again in the same nature, but no longer disguised at the end of the world. Nothing can be more sublimely awful than the quiet and seclusion and majesty of our Lord's preparation for the birth of His Church. Were it not for the revelation of the Blessed Spirit we would know nothing of those momentous occurrences and words on which depended the organism and character of the kingdom of God on earth. Hence the tremendous significance of the disclosure made in the closing verses of S. Matthew's Gospel. It gathers, as it were, into a focus, all that had gone before of Christ's commands to His disciples, as touching their office, and it adds, besides, the basis of the authority on which they were to rest in the discharge of duty, further powers filling out the entire sphere of delegated administration which they were to exercise until His return, and the limitations under which they were to act and work. Remember, for we cannot emphasize too strongly the facts upon which we are now dwelling, they are crucial in any discussion of the polity of the Christian Church, they enter as a question antecedent to all others in any thought of Christian unity which embraces the [9/10] Patriarchate of Rome as a party. The Holy Ghost admits us to the seclusion of our Lord's final interview with His Apostles ere He steps and passes from earth to heaven; He allows us to share in hearing His last words spoken in this world to the Eleven, before He seats Himself upon His mediatorial throne in the sky. This fact is of transcendent importance. It takes us into partnership with the Apostles, and makes us privy to the principles upon which they were to build and administer the Church, which was soon to come into existence.
Our Lord, we note, "leads His Apostles out as far as to Bethany." As He had originally chosen them and appointed them their place, and reminded them from time to time that they were called with a vocation, and were acting under direction, as when He said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom," or again, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain," so now at the end, "He leads them out," separates them from the rest of men, and orders them, as He would have them, each in his place, and sets them before His face, that He may look at them and address them. The circumstance that " He led them out," the circumstance that He regulated their position, ere He delivered to them His final commission, His last commands, adds weight, if anything could, to His words; helps to interpret, if anything were needed to make more plain, the meaning of His behest. The Holy Spirit paints for us the scene, He rehearses for us the words. What we see, and what we hear harmonise, produce one impression, and that the deepest which could be made. And this, we are bold to say, is the purpose of the Holy Ghost. He aims to protect with all the safeguards which divine foresight could provide, the polity of His Church. Inspiration, it would seem, could do no more than to bring mankind as spectators and witnesses of the giving of the charter, the drafting of the constitution of Christ's Kingdom on earth. Inspiration, it would seem, could do no [10/11] more than to lead us along through the first years of the Church's life with her, as she grows and develops and spreads abroad, and show us how the Apostles, who saw and heard their Lord, understood Him and executed His commands. We see the grouping, we read the charter, and we are permitted to learn the manner in which the original officers appointed under that charter by Jesus Christ Himself interpreted its meaning and carried out its provisions. The final verses of S. Matthew's Gospel give us the charter, the Acts of the Holy Apostles exhibit for five-and-twenty years the practical administration of government under that charter by those to whom the Sovereign Himself gave it. Could we ask for further information to make us certain as to the character of the polity of the Church? Are we at a loss to answer whether the King committed the administration of His Kingdom to a single vicegerent, or to a corporation; whether He organised its, government on earth as an oligarchy under Him, or an absolute monarchy on a level with Him? On this point. there can be no doubt at all if we accept the testimony of Holy Scripture; not the evidence of a single verse, or the inference gathered from isolated texts, but the very charter itself, given by our Lord Himself in His very words, and the practical interpretation put upon that charter by all of those who first received office under it, without exception, to the end of their lives, in the organisation of the churches which they planted, and the teaching which they gave to their followers. No answer but one has ever been given dogmatically to the question--in whom did our Lord lodge the government of His Church, in one or several; did He vest its offices and functions and powers in a single vicar, or in a corporation? No answer save one has ever been given as a matter of faith by any branch of the Church, until the Patriarchate of Rome, in the year of grace 1870, in the dogma of infallibility, presumed to affirm and require all who owned her obedience to accept as de fide that Christ constituted His Church an absolute [11/12] monarchy, that He appointed S. Peter His vicar, raising him above his fellows into an order by himself, and lodged in him and his successors all power for government and administration.
It is true that from an early period the ideas of centralisation, unification, and supremacy began to take shape and form in the mind of the West, and Rome of course naturally lent itself to give expression to these ideas, and translate them, as it was most plausibly believed and maintained, for the benefit of mankind, into a blessed reality. The process was very gradual, and in its course of onward progress and development it had its perturbations and recessions; but still, on the whole, the growing power advanced, and making use of what it had obtained by concession, by tentative claim, by haughty demand, as a foothold, it leaped to loftier pretensions, and then made good by persistent assertion, in the face of ignorance and incapacity to obtain the requisite information for refutation, its extravagant demands upon the obedience of mankind. We can readily trace the advance of Victor beyond Soter, of Julius beyond Victor, of Leo the Great beyond Julius, of Gregory the Great beyond Leo the Great, of Gregory II. and III. beyond their illustrious predecessor, of the seventh Gregory beyond all that had gone before him, of Innocent III. in advance of Gregory, of Boniface VIII. still further on in the career of self-assertion and unfounded claim. Still, while the Patriarch of Rome is thus practically, in the minds and before the eyes of men, growing away from all other bishops, and lifting his head above his fellows, and crowning himself with a triple crown, he does not impose the system upon the world as a Divine institution to be accepted, as a matter of faith, under the penalty of excommunication. Centuries drift on, and it is reserved for our time and the present generation to see this result reached. In 1870 the decree of infallibility was formulated and proclaimed as an article of faith by Pius IX. From that hour and henceforth the Patriarchate of [12/13] Rome becomes responsible for revolutionising the polity of the Christian Church as established by Christ, and administered by His Apostles and their colleagues and successors. This is an awful charge to make, and no one should presume to present such an indictment unless he has at his command ample proof to sustain it. Fortunately, in good measure, our duty on this line is already discharged before we formulate and make our assertion. It only remains that we should bring together and contrast the two systems--namely, first, the polity revealed by S. Matthew in recording the acts and words of our Blessed Lord, and by S. Luke in narrating the history of the administration of the Church by His Apostles; and, secondly, the polity as now received and imposed by the Church of Rome. The one is a government entrusted to a corporation, the other is an absolute monarchy ruled by one; the former is limited by a prescribed charter with terms and conditions, the latter supersedes all charters human and divine, and stands on its own naked authority without condition or limit. The first lodges all ministerial power and official grace in the hands of eleven, who are to act in co-ordination, in mutual dependence upon each other; the second makes a single man the reservoir of all God's spiritual gifts to the Church, and the sole dispenser of official dignity and sacramental blessing. Let us look on the two pictures, the one of Christ and His Apostles, photographed for us by the light of the Holy Spirit; the other of the Pope and his cardinals, present before our eyes to-day, as falling within the sphere of our own personal knowledge and experience.
Christ, after the resurrection, when the forty days had come to an end, when it was time for Him to ascend into, Heaven, where He was before He became incarnate, but not as He was before, but now with our humanity vindicated from the curse of the law, purged from sin, and triumphant over death and the grave, indissolubly united to His divine Person--Christ, as He was thus about to leave [13/14] this world, not to appear again until He shall come with power and great glory to judge the quick and the dead, makes final provision for the setting up His kingdom on earth and its continuance and administration during the interval until His return. His acts and words are supremely important; of course they always are, but a distinction may be taken, and some in the very nature of the words and acts themselves are of greater gravity and weight than others. If we allow this difference, and without the least approach to irreverence practically we must, among the most solemn things which Jesus ever did and said are those which immediately precede His ascension. They are His last acts, His last words. The Holy Ghost summons all the world through S. Matthew and S. Luke to behold and listen. What do we see and hear? Jesus leads His Apostles out, not one but all, as far as to Bethany. There, in the midst of them, He makes known to them His will touching them and their relation to Him, and under Him to His kingdom the Church. The words are few, but they are pregnant with meaning, and settle for ever decisively and irrevocably the principles of the government of His Church throughout all time. "He led them out as far as to Bethany" (S. Luke xxiv. 20). "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 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 unto the end of the world" (S. Matt. xxviii. 18-20). Here we see and hear, as the deliberate will of our risen Lord, that He entrusts His kingdom to a corporation. He plans to do so, He leads them, He draws near to them, and addresses them collectively. These acts are the deliberate expression of His will, they show His settled purpose and design. Then His words are in harmony with His acts. He speaks to them as a body, He uses the plural number, "Go ye," "baptize [14/15] ye," "teach ye," "lo, I am with you" (plural). When He willed He could select, and separate, and speak to one, and pass by the rest. Jesus could draw S. John to His side; He could single out S. Thomas and address him by name; He could challenge S. Peter three times in the presence of his fellow-disciples with the question, "Lovest thou Me more than these?" He could as well, had He so willed, have addressed His plenary commission of government and administration on the Mount of Ascension to S. Peter, but He did not do so, although S. Peter was there. He delivered the charter on the contrary, containing all the powers and all the limitations, to all the Apostles together, including S. Peter, as a body, to have and to hold the trust in common in co-ordination. It is indeed the plenary commission, since our Lord provides for all men and for all time and for the entire spheres of teaching and duty. He assigns them their jurisdiction: "All nations." He forecasts the duration of their ministry: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." He prescribes the subject-matter of their instruction: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." He imposes limitations; He restrains them by associating them together and making them mutually dependent upon each other, so that no one should go beyond and defraud his brethren by self-assertion and self-will, but all should act in co-ordination and in subjection to His sovereign will. They are to teach and enjoin obedience, but the delegated power is conditioned by the proviso, "whatsoever I have commanded you." When we pass from the Mount of Ascension to the day of Pentecost and the first year of the Church's life, we are permitted by the Blessed Spirit to study the administration of the Apostles, acting under the charter which, as we have just seen, they received as a joint commission from their Lord. Their understanding of their Divine Master's words as expressed by their teaching and the execution of their trust must be, it would seem to us, decisive of the polity of Christ's [15/16] Church, and the more emphatically so, because we have in their conduct in these regards not alone the concensus of a body of devout, intelligent men, but the united and unanimous witness of a body of such men inspired by the Blessed Spirit. Could anything be stronger than such an attestation of the character of the polity of Christ's Church being in accordance with His will: it will suffice for our purpose to look at the front ranks of the Christian army, those who were enrolled and were drilled by the Apostles themselves and their associates. These surely must be right as regards all the essentials of faith and practice. If these, the firstfruits of the Spirit, marching under the orders and the eyes of the Twelve, are radically and fundamentally in error, we confess that we lose hope, and surrender in despair. The Holy Ghost casts the bright beams of His illumination upon the very first believers, and brings them out from the oblivion of the past, and sets them before us that we may look at them and take them for our examples. The description is vivid, comprehensive, and decisive as touching the polity of the Church while these men lived and when they died, and many of them, most of them, sealed their testimony of their love and obedience with their blood. The record of these, the very first believers, set down in Holy Scripture is, "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers" (Acts ii. 42).
These believers, three thousand in number, represent the mind and teaching of S. Peter and his associates. They tell us by their steadfast behaviour, more plainly than words could do so, what their teachers, and what they, as taught, understood the polity of Christ's Church to be--precisely what our Lord prescribed, a government taking oversight of faith and practice, of teaching and sacraments and devotion, vested in a corporation; for it is declared by the Blessed Spirit that these first Christians continued steadfastly in the Apostles', not S. Peter's doctrine and fellowship, "and in breaking of bread and in prayers." We have before us, [16/17] placed there by the Holy Ghost, the charter of Christ's Church in His own precious words; we have the first officers appointed under the provisions of that charter by the Divine Master in person, and we have those officers in the actual administration of their trust, under the guidance of the Blessed Spirit, preaching, teaching, baptizing, confirming, celebrating the Holy Eucharist, exercising discipline, ordaining, and governing in Christ's name; and the polity, the form of government as set down in our Lord's own words, as understood and accepted and administered by those who heard those words, and who were guided into all truth by the Holy Ghost, and as received and steadfastly obeyed by those who were so taught by the Apostles and their associates, is a corporate government, vested in a body of men, eleven at first, then twelve, and then multiplying along the line of the same order, the highest in the sacred ministry, until the needs of all nations were supplied and continuing to the end of the world. This is clear if anything is clear, and can be made clear.
The form of Church government which exists now in the Patriarchate of Rome as a matter of fact is an absolute monarchy, unlimited from beneath, and scarcely, if at all, limited from above. The Bishop of Rome in the theory of the Vatican decrees, which supersede the charter of Christ, is more autocratic than any earthly monarch has ever been, or in the nature of things can be. He is above all, he rules all, and is ruled by none. In his solitary grandeur he sits above all who reign and govern in this world on his lonely throne, and when he speaks as Pope in the sphere of faith and morals his voice is the infallible voice of God. His jurisdiction reaches from pole to pole, it embraces all lands, and all the islands of the sea. He has, and can have no colleague, no companion. His powers are incommunicable, save to a successor, and a successor can only appear after he is dead. He is an order by himself, and his exaltation sinks the apostolate out of the place which Christ gave it into a grade of the priesthood. This is the polity of the Patriarchate of [17/18] Rome as formulated and imposed by the Vatican Council of 1870. As we look on Christ's charter and then on this scheme of government, we are forced to the conclusion that they are irreconcilable absolutely and hopelessly. There have been, sometime and somewhere, usurpation, subversion, and revolution. The Vatican form of Church polity is not a product of Christ's charter. It is a perversion of it, a radical and fundamental change, involving a rooting up of principles and the substitution of other and essentially different principles. For example, Christ made His Church catholic, the Twelve, as the Revelation of S. John informs us, look, three to the north, three to the south, three to the east, and three to the west; they form a hollow square, and face the four quarters of the earth, the entire circle of humanity, and to these, not to one, but to all, the risen Lord gave commission, on an equality, that they might go forward and convert the nations and draw them to look up to the King over all in heaven, the incarnate Lord on His throne, the Sun of Righteousness who shines for all. Rome destroys catholicity, and makes the Church local, Roman, as God made His ancient Church national, Jewish. God's purpose was, as revealed by the prophets, out of the shell of Judaism, local, national, narrow, to produce the tree which should cover the whole earth, the Christian Church, catholic, universal, for all lands, for all peoples, stamped with the impress of no one to the exclusion of the others, but equally the property of all, appropriated by each, and yet at home everywhere, just as the sun in the sky shines for all, belongs to all, without invading the proprietorship of each in him as a private possession, so that men say, without prejudice to the rights and claims of others, an American sun, an English sun, an Italian sun, a tropical sun, an Arctic sun. Thus by Christ's charter and constitution the Church is catholic, equally at home in all lands, and yet the exclusive possession of none the Oriental Catholic Church for the Orient, the Occidental Catholic Church for the Occident, the Roman Catholic Church for Italy, the Anglo-Catholic Church for England, the [18/19] Canadian Catholic Church for Canada, and the American Catholic Church for the United States; but at the same time there are not a plurality of Catholic Churches, for that would be an absurdity, but one Catholic Church, even as there are not many suns, but one sun. Rome by her present scheme of Church government repudiates catholicity, and brings back the local and narrow polity of Judaism. She replaces Palestine with Italy, Jerusalem with Rome, the Temple with the Vatican, and the High Priest with Pontifex Maximus, the Pope. As the ancient Jew was obliged, like Daniel, when he prayed in Babylon with his windows open towards Jerusalem, to look to the Temple on Mount Zion for God's presence and favour, so the subject of Papal obedience, be he where he may on the earth's surface, must look to the Pope in the Vatican for his priesthood and his sacraments. The local episcopate in every land is simply the creation of the Bishop of Rome, his representative and his agent; all churches the wide world over in communion with the Pope are simply colonies of Rome, absolutely dependent upon her for officers and laws and absolution and benediction. Under her government the earth is unified from an earthly centre, not a heavenly, and the whole world is ruled by a worldly sovereign, seated on a local throne. The organisation is grand, comprehensive, and unique, but it is not the system arranged by Christ, and worked out by the Apostles and their associates under the direction of the Holy Ghost. It is inconsistent with Scripture, irreconcilable with history, and repugnant to catholicity. The inquiry is spontaneous, and, we are willing to allow, may be justly pressed upon our attention and claim from us a reply, How do you account for the phenomenon, if its origin be not of God? Can you on any other theory explain the rise and growth of the Papal power, if you refuse to admit that it is Divine? We answer that we can to our own satisfaction trace its development to human causes, which adequately and completely solve the difficulty. We proceed at once to catalogue and discuss the elements which enter into the [19/20] complex problem, premising the remark that even supposing we were not able to account for the Papal power, as it confronts us to-day, as a mere human growth, the alternative would not be that it must needs then be Divine; it is possible, nay, highly probable, that we are not properly qualified for the task, and, in the first place, have not brought forth all the causes which have been active in history in producing this result, and, in the second place, we have not done justice to those which we have adduced.
First, then, and before all other causes which have contributed to produce the Papal Power, is the city where it has its home. Rome, the ancient city, the seat of universal empire, the mistress of the nations, was the suggestion and the inspiration of what we call Romanism. This wonderful city embodied and kept before the minds of men ideas which are in their essence eternal truths, and which are imposing, grand, and fascinating--ideas which, when once grasped, cannot be dismissed; these ideas are unity through universal empire, centralisation, organisation, and obedience, passing in gradation from the lowest to the highest, from the many to the few, and from the few to the one, the universal monarch, the Caesar on his throne. See how these ideas kept their place in the sphere of politics during the Middle Ages; note how they linger still. Even the names are not forgotten, and Roman Empire and Kaisar are still on men's lips as living words of the present. The Church founded in Rome by the Apostles inherited these ideas. They came perforce, without her will or choice, into her possession. They became a suggestion, they were even more, they were cherished as an inspiration. As soon as the Church of Rome emerged from the Catacombs, and was released from the blows of persecution, she found herself the first, the foremost Church of all her fellows. Thus she received from her city, whose growth and grandeur we have already sketched, the impulse which set her well on her way towards claiming more and more, as time went on, what [20/21] came into her hands as men say "accidentally, in the natural course of events." A colossal city or diocese makes a colossal bishop. In one sense, as touching their office, all bishops are equal; in another sense, as regards the material interests which they represent, bishops are unequal, and often very unequal. For instance, when you look at our office, the Bishop of New York and the Bishop who addresses you are on a level, the one can do as much and no more than the other, but there the equality ceases. The Bishop of New York has behind him the mightiest city in wealth and population in the Western world; he represents in a sense these stupendous factors of material and worldly prowess, and his influence is correspondingly great. The other bishop represents poverty, weakness, sporadic elements of life few and far between, scattered over an immense territory. What comparison then is there between them on any plain where material interests are involved? And, further than this, when you pass into any field of discussion, however far removed from the sphere of what is distinctly secular, what chance has the little bishop against the great? Men do not care to oppose the mighty, those who can snub, and thwart, and possibly crush. They pay court to the great, and defer to them and wait upon their smile, and eagerly seek to anticipate their wish. And then, so weak and naughty is the human heart, so easily is it puffed up with pride, that the occupants of these great sees often and quickly educate themselves to believe that they are really and intrinsically better than their fellows, that God has put a difference between them and others. Such are the tendencies inherent in the facts. A colossal city makes a colossal bishop, and this principle reached its maximum embodiment in Rome. The greatest City of the World made the greatest Bishop of the World. Even when the Empire was heathen the City lifted the Bishop so high that he drew to himself the unwelcome attention of the secular power, and in succession, in consequence, as in no other see, the early [21/22] Bishops of Rome were martyrs. When the Empire became Christian, Rome's place was recognised as first, and the principle on which that primacy rested was clearly and accurately defined when the Second General Council, acting on this principle, assigned to the new seat of empire, Constantinople, the second place; it was the principle, namely, of honour, based upon material greatness. That this principle of graduation was speedily obscured and lost sight of is true, but still it maintained its hold upon the legislation of the Church through what we may call the conciliar period, and finds expression in the closing enactments of Chalcedon. Indeed, the principle of the primacy, as distinguished from the supremacy growing out of Petrine claims, was the heart and soul of Gallicanism in contrast to Ultramontanism, and was crushed out even in the Roman communion not twenty years ago. The mighty prestige of the City of Rome, her material greatness, as by far in advance of all others the first in the world, set her bishop equally far ahead of all competitors, and then, added to this material base from which his superiority rose, there floated round him hazy clouds of tradition which coupled his secular primacy of place with the spiritual claims of association with the Prince of the Apostles, as being the successor of S. Peter. And thus fact and fancy helped to inspire Rome almost from the outset with the ideas of primacy, grounded on more than the accident of place, and domination, resting on stronger claims than those afforded by secular power.
In the second place, Rome was an apostolic see, and this honour gave her an immense advantage in weight and influence in the mind of the primitive and early Church. An apostolic see is one that was founded by an Apostle, and its value consisted in the fact that its history went back to the Twelve, to those who had been with our Lord. It will at once be seen that in any discussion touching doctrine it was a matter of great importance to have access to a stream which flowed from an apostolic fountain, whose waters [22/23] came down from S. Peter, or S. John, or S. Paul, or S. James. The succession of bishops was adduced in ancient times, not for the purpose of establishing the continuity of office, about that there was no question in those days, but with a view to establish the continuity of doctrine, to show that the alleged truth had been held without interruption, back and back by each bishop as he entered upon his office, for he then made a solemn profession of his faith, until the origin of the see was reached. The value of this witness would be in proportion to its antiquity, to the nearness of its approach to apostolic times, and it would rise to the maximum of weight, the utmost limit of influence, when it was an apostolic see, a bishopric founded by an Apostle in person. Rome's pre-eminence in this particular consisted not alone in the fact that it was an apostolic see, but still further in the additional fact that it enjoyed a monopoly of this distinction in the West. There were many apostolical sees in the East--Jerusalem, Antioch, Caesarea, Ephesus, for example; there was only one of undoubted apostolical origin in the West, and that was Rome. This proud preeminence helped to fill men's minds with awe and reverence. It added immensely to her authority, and reacted upon her to impress her with exalted ideas of her own majesty and greatness.
Closely associated with the fact that Rome was an apostolic see, the apostolic see of the West, was the additional fact that, in the controversies which for three centuries raged around the Person and the Natures of our Lord, and the Divinity and Person of the Holy Spirit, Rome was uniformly and steadily in the right until we reach the age of Honorius and the question of the one or two wills in the incarnate Christ. Meanwhile, the other patriarchates fell into heresy, first one, and then another, then two at once, then three, and then all four together; but Rome maintained her integrity, and as time went on her moral influence grew with more than arithmetical progression. To be right once [23/24] when others go wrong may be an accident, and this may be the explanation a second time; but it will be hard to persuade men that it is still an accident when a third, and fourth, and fifth time the right is still maintained by the same party, while all the others have been once or twice or thrice in error. Such was Rome's position among the patriarchates during the fourth, and fifth, and sixth, and part of the seventh centuries; she was uniformly right, they were seldom right--often wrong. Mankind learned to rely upon her, and in the event felt sure that they would not be disappointed in their confidence. The apostolic see of the West strengthened the claim of her august antiquity by repeatedly uttering her voice, and uniformly on the side of right and truth, for hundreds of years.
During these centuries, while Rome's power and prestige were steadily growing in the West the Northern barbarians were descending as waves of the sea upon Southern Europe, and sweeping all before them save what they chose to spare. In succession came the Goth, and the Vandal, and the Hun, and spread over the fair territories of ancient civilisation like devouring beasts of prey. The only power which challenged and awakened their respect and awe was Christianity, all else they cast down and destroyed; the Church remained, and ultimately subdued her conquerors; and made their mightiest monarchs attend as lacqueys upon her Patriarchs, and hold their stirrups while they mounted their steeds, and walked beside them to advertise their submission to the spiritual power, to which they deemed it an honour to do menial service. When the barbarian, the element which was destined to shape and form the life and character and religion and manners of medieval Europe, came first in contact with Rome, she was well on her way towards those high pretensions and lofty claims with which we are familiar. The rude, rough warriors from the North had never known Rome before, they were not acquainted with her origin and [24/25] early history. They accepted her as they found her, and received all that she taught them as undoubted truth, hence the new population of Southern Europe, when won over to Christianity, became unwittingly a mighty helper to push the see of Rome on and up in her progress towards. supreme spiritual dominion over the nations of the earth.
Legislation naturally followed in the wake of successful usurpation. The general drift of canonical enactment during the decade of centuries from Chalcedon was to aggrandise Rome as the centre and mistress of the West. Appellate jurisdiction, for instance, limited and conditioned, as a concession to Pope Julius, by Sardica, in the middle of the fourth century, had become coercive jurisdiction without restraint in the days of Charlemagne. Everything lent itself to produce this result; it was, as we would say, the sensible and wise thing to do. Rome possessed the apparatus which best qualified her for hearing and adjudging causes. Over and above her ecclesiastical exaltation and spiritual prestige as an apostolic see and the first of the Patriarchates, she drew to herself and kept in her service the best and ripest learning of the times; hers were the archives and records of the past, stored up in greater profusion than elsewhere; hers was the authority to provide all that was requisite for the hearing of causes, and hers was the power to carry out her decrees and execute her sentences when issued and pronounced. Thus there came gradually into her hands, largely by the force of circumstances, and largely through her own grasping ambition, chains, forged by Provincial Councils and National Assemblies, which bound and fastened the West in ecclesiastical and legal subjection to Rome. During this same period another fruitful cause was negatively operating to lift the Patriarchate of Rome high above all her competitors, and leave her in possession of the field as practically the head of Christendom and the foremost Church of all the world, in the East as well as the [25/26] West. A tree in the midst of a forest does not appear conspicuously great, but when the woodman has felled the grove with his axe and left but a single oak, it rises in lonely grandeur from the plain, and stands forth a giant in its proportions and its height. So it was with Rome; she left the period of the undisputed General Councils with four sister Patriarchates--Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. These were sufficiently on a level with her to contest her supremacy and check her growing pretensions. But within a century from the close of the Sixth General Council, three of these rivals of Rome were prostrate beneath the heel of the Moslem power, and the fourth was threatened. The followers of Mohammed overran and subdued Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, and drew near to the coasts of the Euxine and the Bosphorus, and with haughty effrontery lit their camp-fires and deployed their forces within sight of the Eastern capital. In the ninth century Alexandria and Antioch and Jerusalem ceased to exist as appreciable factors in the make up of Christendom, and Constantinople alone remained to occupy the ground as a rival of Rome. But she was at great and signal disadvantage as compared with her venerable competitor. She was not an apostolic see, she had no claims to prefer as a counter-charm to the name of Peter. She was crippled by the secular power, which continued by her side until Constantinople fell beneath the Turkish Power in 1453. The Emperor and the State overshadowed her, and infused into her the poison of Erastianism; and meanwhile the Crescent went on increasing in conquests and nearness of approach to her, and at length, after centuries of imbecility, the city of Constantine became the capital of the Mohammedan Empire, and the Church of S. Chrysostom was converted into the Mosque of Santa Sophia. Then Rome was left really alone, she had been virtually so since the rise and success of the religion of the False Prophet. It had been Rome's advantage, on the other hand, that the seat of Empire in the West had at an early period been [26/27] withdrawn from its old and immemorial home on the Seven Hills, and transferred to Ravenna, and then to Aix-la-Chapelle, and then fell apart into several divisions, no more to reappear in reality, or even in name, in Italy. Thus the Papacy was left without a companion to carry on and illustrate the traditions of the venerable past, secular as well as sacred. She improved her opportunities grandly, and grew apace in assertion and pretension and claim, with no voice in all the world that had the power to make itself heard to say her, nay. Forgery and deception were employed to give the apparent support of antiquity to the extravagant claims of the Roman See in the ninth and tenth centuries. Alleged decretals of early Popes were imposed upon the credulity of an uncritical age as genuine documents, and doubtless honestly accepted and asserted as true even by Roman Bishops themselves. So far as the effect was concerned it is of no consequence whether the Popes were originally parties to the fraud or not. We are disposed, however, to acquit them of this immorality, and are of the opinion that they were originally devised and put in circulation in the interests of diocesan bishops as a protection against the tyranny of their metropolitans. Rome, however, was only too eager to use the weapon placed at her disposal, and long after she knew that they were spurious she appealed to them in quarters where she could safely do so to justify her claims. With the false decretals we must associate such forgeries as the Donation of Constantine, and wholesale corruptions of the early Fathers, as a fruitful cause for aggrandising the Papacy and persuading mankind to accept it as a Divine system rooted in the earliest Christian antiquity.
The development of the Papal power was in accordance with the structure of society and the great institution of the Middle Ages, the feudal system. Then the spirit of the age was centripetal, as, since the Reformation, it has been centrifugal. Then the forces of secular and religious life sought the centre, as now they fly away from restraint and control. [27/28] Familiarity with subordination, reaching from the serf to the monarch and uniting many and diverse elements under one supreme head in the State, reconciled, if it did not force men to desire a similar perfection of organisation in the Church. The spirit of the age is a potent influence, and penetrates and is felt everywhere. The spirit of centralisation was dominant in the olden time, as the net product of the civil and military structure and genius of pagan Rome, and of their offspring the feudal system of the Middle Ages. Everything tended that way and drifted in that direction, as. we have seen the operation of opposite forces driving mankind asunder and producing an individualism so intense, that even those who have professed and called themselves Christians have held and taught that the zenith of human progress would be reached when every man was left free to do what was right in his own eyes. We must count, then, the spirit of the age as an important contributor to the growth and development of the Papal power.
But over and above all the causes which we have noted as combining to account, on human grounds, for the marvellous phenomenon of Papal claims as displayed before our eyes in the Vatican, we must remember that good men and true all over the West deliberately did their utmost by act and word and example and influence during the Middle Ages to help on the development of the power of the Bishop of Rome. I compliment my hearers and readers when I say that I think so well of them that I am persuaded that, had they been living then, they would have done the same, as seeking to confer the greatest benefit in their power upon society. We are not all gifted with a foresight which enables us to look very far into the future, most of us can see only a little way, and hence we act, the majority of us, in reference to immediate results, or results not far removed from eye and operating cause.
It is astonishing how little is known, even in these days, [28/29] when knowledge is universal almost and claimed by its votaries to be comprehensive and profound, how little is known of the Middle Ages. Men affect to contemn them; they call them "dark," and rightly in a sense, for indeed they are usually very dark to those who are loudest in declaiming against them as we have said. In order to do scant justice to this large tract of human history, which borders on our modern age and connects us with classical antiquity and the epoch of our Blessed Lord and His Apostles, let me ask you to look out upon Western Europe as it presented itself to the eye at the beginning of the sixth century. We look upon a barren waste, nay worse, we gaze upon the ruins of a world. The civilisation which Pericles and Cicero knew is crushed beneath the violence and rapine of rude barbarians. Everything that is fair and beautiful seems sinking fast out of sight, and the future holds out no hope. We close our eyes in despair, and feel that all things must be overwhelmed in one universal cataclysm. We open them again, and Europe in the sixteenth century is spread beneath our gaze. The desert has become a cultivated and fruitful expanse, occupied by the nations which are now the dominant races of the earth. Christianity has its cathedrals, and churches, and hospitals, and asylums, and shelters for monks and nuns. Learning has its universities, and colleges, and schools, and libraries; trade and commerce have their guilds and associations; the useful industries have pushed themselves to the front, and made for themselves a place and a name to be known and respected; cities fair and opulent dot the map from Ireland to the Indies; finance has its centres, and is arranging and regulating its domain in preparation for the bank, and the bourse, and the exchange; in a word, as we look out and around, we feel ourselves to be at home, we recognise our ancestors and their institutions public and private, and the interval though great is still within grasp between themselves and us.
When was this great change accomplished? Why, during [29/30] the very period which many at the present day seek to discount under the flippant descriptive epithet, "the Dark Ages." Who were the workers who wrestled with the stubborn wilderness, and the more stubborn natures of brutish men, and brought out of desolation fertility, out of barbarism civilisation, out of anarchy civil institutions and settled government, out of chaos order and security to life and limb and property? The very men whom the wiseacres of the nineteenth century, with their heads high in the air, as they strut and swagger with their little stock of superficial information picked up from newspapers and reviews and encyclopmdias, affect to disparage as poor benighted monks, ignorant ecclesiastics, and mediaeval drones. It would be an interesting spectacle to see such persons compelled to take their places in the witness-box and sustain an examination upon the period which they are not slow to proclaim that they pity and despise, and which, with a splendid irony of which they are entirely unconscious, they denominate "dark." It would soon be painfully apparent that their description was correct, but in a sense they did not mean. Alas! the darkness is abysmal, but it is not the darkness of the ages, but the profound ignorance of our friends and neighbours who, parrot-like, repeat the current talk of the day, and praise or condemn as fashion and the popular voice bid them speak.
This wonderful era, the Middle Ages, was, as is necessarily implied in the description which we have given, a formative period; it witnessed a transition from wild confusion to order, regulated and settled by law in the State and in society. Among the instrumentalities which good men and true, during the first half of this interval, or possibly two-thirds, looked to and trusted as most effectual to repress violence and subserve the best interests of mankind, was the Papal Power. We have ventured to suggest that had we lived between the era, say of the fall of the Western Empire in A.D. 476, and the close of the thirteenth century, we would have acted zealously with those who [30/31] sought to aggrandise the power and the influence of the Bishop of Rome. We admit that it was for those who lived at the time, and would have been for us, had we been their contemporaries, a huge mistake to adopt this course, but that was not the question; the issue for us to have met was, "What is best for mankind, as far as ordinary human wisdom can foresee?" and the answer would have been, a great central power, based upon religion and morals, commanding the reverence of society, brave enough to speak out for right and justice and truth, and strong enough to cause its voice to be obeyed. Such a power offered itself and pressed itself upon the acceptance of the world for the cure of its evils and the supply of its social and moral needs in the rapidly-growing influence of what was claimed to be S. Peter's Chair. We are not ignoring the immoralities which often disgraced the lives of the Popes, and the corruptions which were creeping into the system. We do not forget the pernocracy and the dicta of Gregory VII., and the schema of Innocent III., but at a distance, when there were few channels of communication, scandals, even in the lives of eminent persons, were not soon known, and even when discovered, were not soon or readily published far and wide, and perversions in doctrine and declensions in discipline and practice did not challenge immediate attention and rebuke in an uncritical age.
The Papal Power at a distance from Rome inspired awe and continued to command the highest reverence, in spite of the Johns, and Formosus, and Stephens, and Theodoras, and Marozias. It was perfectly natural that this should be so, because the drift of Papal influence, as exhibited in public in the great issues, aside from the aggrandisement of its own power, was generally on the side of equity, and justice, and righteousness. An illustration will best serve to make plain our meaning. Philip Augustus of France, a contemporary of King John of England, in defiance of God's law and the opinion of [31/32] men, resolved to put away the wife of his youth, and enter into a guilty alliance with a disreputable woman. Who was there to say him nay? There was no public opinion, in the modern sense of the term; no public Press; no local tribunal to call him to account. Even the Church was powerless in her national councils to coerce him into a decent respect for good manners and morals; on the contrary, Philip compelled her in her local councils to sanction by her approval his vileness and wickedness. Let him of the nineteenth century who hears or reads this statement be not overmuch shocked, as though we in our time never winked at vice in high places, or connived at sin under the penalty of losing the favour of the great, or at the price of receiving the money or the patronage of the rich. Alas! considering all the circumstances of those who live and act, one age has not so much the advantage of another. Be that as it may, however, there seemed to be at the time of which we are speaking no power on earth to stay the French King in his career of foul wrong to his injured wife and Queen, until the case came by appeal of Ingelburga to Innocent III. He quickly decided the issue in favour of innocence and right, and bade the monarch to put away his mistress and reinstate his wife. Philip demurred, and sought by every means at his command to cajole the Pope into acquiescence in his crime, but the Bishop of Rome sternly refused to listen to his flatteries or receive his bribes. He brought to bear upon him excommunication and interdict, and in six months' time Agnes was an outcast, and Ingelburga was in her lawful place. Think of the moral effect of such a spectacle presented and kept before the eyes of Europe. Is it any wonder that good men would hail the Papacy in such an age, when there seemed to be no other power on earth strong enough to redress the terrible wrongs which were wrought by kings, and princes, and barons, and to cure the evils which were preying upon society? It is perfectly true that these good men were unwittingly helping to introduce and [32/33] develop what would ultimately prove a worse evil than those which they sought to repress and expel; but they could not see into the distant future any more than we can. We have known a tender-hearted physician ply his patient, who was writhing with agony under the scourge of a painful disease, with nightly doses of morphine. The narcotic gave immediate and grateful relief, and at length the sick man became well; but he arose from his couch with a worse and more terrible disorder than that of which he had been cured; the insidious drug had introduced a craving for stimulants, and the present relief from excruciating distress was replaced by a permanent mania for drink. Thus was it with those who welcomed the autocracy and supremacy of the See of Rome, in the eleventh and following centuries, as a panacea for the ills of society and the state of the Church; they little dreamed that they were aiding to bind Europe in chains, which would become so galling in two centuries or more that the nations, goaded to frenzy by exactions and repression and tyranny, would rise in wild revolt and burst them asunder. Yet so it was, and the great convulsion of the sixteenth century was the outcome of centralisation pushed to the extreme, without limits or restraints from beneath, and with scarcely any acknowledgment of accountability to any power which reigned above. Looking over that remote past, and taking into account the conditions of society, the presence of evils which have long since disappeared, and the absence of restraints which are the creation of modern times, and sinking ourselves to the level of ordinary mortals, and allowing that we are not endowed with the gift of forecasting the future beyond the powers of prescience possessed by our ancestors, we shall be prepared to admit that good men and wise men were excusable, if not justified, in throwing their influence on the side of the Pope. At all events they did so, and continued to do so until the reforming councils of the fifteenth century were, after repeated efforts, shown to be powerless "to reform the Church in its head and members," the [33/34] object for which they were convened; and it was seen that the Western Patriarchate was beyond control from within, and was now undoing, and more than undoing, all the good that it had once and for ages done, by its corruption in faith and morals, its usurpations and rapacity, and its intolerable claims. Then true men and good men largely began to draw off from giving it their support with a view to aggrandise its power, and sought to put canonical restraints upon it, or else they took up a position of open revolt.
Thus the elements which might have saved it from the terrible catastrophe which has overtaken it in the Vatican decrees of 1870 were so reduced in strength, after the upheaval and disruption of the sixteenth century, that they were unequal to the effort of making head against the centripetal forces which had been for centuries driving Rome on to the awful plunge which she made when she disowned, by formal decree and as a matter of faith, the corporate government, as constituted and established by Christ, and substituted in its place another of her own invention--an absolute monarchy vested in a single potentate, not only free from limitation and irresponsible to man, but alleged to be and acknowledged to be infallible. This is the phenomenon which now confronts us, and we claim that we have abundantly accounted for its existence by the causes which we have adduced. God's word and God's will can have nothing whatever to do with a system which would make Him, if it were of Divine origin, flatly contradict Himself. It has been built up by human instrumentalities, and the result is an awful impiety, as we firmly believe, because it has attempted to invade Christ's sovereignty, and amend and repeal His laws. Place the Papacy as organised by the Schema of Pius IX., as it exists now, leaving out of view all the accidents of time and place, all the accessories which are not essential, face to face with the form of government established by our risen Lord, and vested by Him, as His last act while He remained on [34/35] earth, in His eleven Apostles; face to face with the form of government administered by those same Apostles, as recorded by the Blessed Spirit in the inspired word of God; and it will at once be apparent that they are irreconcilable. The one is not derived from the other, as a flower from the bud or fruit from the blossom. The latter could only take the place of the former by revolution. There must have been the acts of breaking down and destroying, and then of substitution. And this exactly describes the process.
In this way modern Romanism occupies the seat of the ancient Catholic Patriarchate of the West. Practically, this has been the case for a long time, but as a matter of law and of faith it has only been so since 1870. Up to that date Gallicanism--which regarded the Pope simply as the administrative head of Christendom--was possible. Since that date and henceforth, until the Vatican decrees are repealed, such a view in the Roman Communion is heresy, and subjects him who maintains it to the pains and penalties of excommunication. We see, then, how very modern modern Romanism is. What place can such a system have in any movement towards Christian unity? "Just none at all" is the terse and definite answer which Rome herself compels us to make. In her present attitude, as defined by herself, she has isolated herself from the rest of Christendom. She has put up the bars against all approach from without, and has proclaimed and published the declaration that only on her own terms will she hold communion with her sister Patriarchates, or with any who profess and call themselves Christians, and those terms all outside of the obedience of the Pope believe to be disloyalty to Christ and treason against His Church. Surely it is useless, and worse than hopeless, to consider Rome in any efforts towards healing the present unhappy divisions of Christendom. She is the most unhistoric of sects. Her origin, as exhibiting a system which she enjoins as of faith, goes back no further than 1870. A Christianity [35/36] which is not historic, which cannot trace its organic life in polity, faith, sacraments, and liturgy back to the Apostles, and through them find shelter under Christ's charter and constitution, cannot make good its claim to be Christ's Church, as He established it on the Mount of Ascension, and His Apostles, acting under His explicit directions, and guided and sustained by the Holy Ghost, organised it on the day of Pentecost, and administered it in all parts of the world whithersoever they went as the pioneer missionaries of the Gospel. What God has in store for Rome we know not; but as she stands before us to-day we can see no prospect of reaching her on any terms, save her own, which would be, as we account it, an absolute and complete surrender of Catholicity, and treason against Christ, and disloyalty to His Church. We are hopeless, so far as human foresight can reach, of Rome's reforming herself, and receding from her present position of isolation from the rest of Christendom, and returning to her place as a Patriarchate among Patriarchates.
The only ground of hope which we can discover for the Papacy is bound up in the success of the efforts for the accomplishment of Christian unity. If that blessed result is ever gained, then perchance the entirety of Christianity without Rome can constrain her to see her unchristian attitude and state, and to desire and seek to resume her place once more as a branch of Christ's Church. We admit that the prospect is very far from being encouraging; still, we may ask, is it any more gloomy than that of the conversion of the Jews? Our first duty is to labour for the unity of Christendom outside of Rome; and in this field of noble endeavour it seems to me that we of the American Church have a very special vocation from God, made plain before our eyes by the providential position which we hold in relation to our fellow Christians. On the positive side we possess the deposit of Holy Orders, Faith, Sacraments, and a pure Liturgy; on the negative, we are, while being an historic Church reaching back without break or [36/37] interruption to the Apostles, free from all the complications which embarrass older members of the Christian Commonwealth, who have had their feuds and quarrels, and retain their irritations and jealousies, which are the inheritance of the past. We are the young daughter of ancient parentage, planted on virgin soil, with no bitter recollections of our own to cherish; and certainly, as yet, with years too few behind us to have enabled us to have left with others unpleasant memories of ourselves. Again, we are unembarrassed with any relations to the State. We are in the same condition in which the Early Church was before the days of Constantine. Locally, we are the connecting link between the old world on the East and the West. We reach from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We brought the historic Episcopate from Scotland in 1784, and from England in 1787 and 1790, and planted it in Connecticut, and New York, and Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and within a century we have carried it to California, and Oregon, and Washington Territory. We have Europe behind us, and Asia before us, and we are between, and the Patriarchates of the East are coming to our shores and making their home among us. Surely Providence seems to be calling us by many unmistakable signs to become the great instrument in God's hands of effecting the unity of Christendom. Let us seek to enlighten ignorance and disarm prejudice; let us be true to the sacred office which God has assigned us, to hold in trust for mankind the treasures of Holy Orders, the Catholic Faith, the Sacraments, and the Liturgy; let us, as our supreme duty and highest pleasure, steadfastly speak to all "the truth in love"; and then we may be granted in time, it may be far on in the future, still we may be granted the glorious honour and the celestial happiness of giving the highest and best meaning to our national motto, "E pluribus unum," when the American Church shall become the peacemaker among the dissentient members of the family, and the accepted medium through which they will again unite in communion, and so the divisions [37/38] of Christendom will be healed, and out of the many branches there will appear to be once more, as of yore, but one Church under Christ, the Supreme Head, on His throne in heaven--one out of many in Him, as He is one with the Father, they in Him and He in them.