IT has been said of our Communion that it could not be a true portion of the One, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, for it had not the Note of Sanctity. That it had at least fair semblances of others, was admitted; others, which it lacked, were perhaps not vital; but this one, preeminent, necessary mark of a true Church of GOD, it neither had, nor seemed to have. And if to this were added that it seemed not to care for it, nor even to miss it, the statement might still have been, in a large way, and approximately, true. Accurately and destructively true of the Anglican Church it never was. She has had her Saints in every generation. But, undoubtedly, in habit, for several centuries, the religious genius of English-speaking peoples has not tended toward very high expression in personal holiness. This expression has been hindered naturally, by their ruling passion of independence, their curious reserve, their intense practicalness which laid hold on things apparently nearest, and wrought that mighty task of political accomplishment, and enormous physical labour, which is a true and proper glory of our race--a work which seemed prepared and waiting for it, and which GOD permitted it to do.
And as, in His marvellous processes which men call slow, seeing them out of relation to the Eternal Now, some things in time must seem to precede others, so even the spiritual nurture and practical religious instruction of this English race, affected directly by these innate qualities and this preoccupation, and indirectly by them through interference of the State, have long reacted upon and heightened, rather than attempered them. Thus natural aptitudes, and environment, have kept dormant the immanent spiritual energy of a great people, and the religious life, in which its strong and high powers would find true development, and most noble exercise, has awaited the fulness of time.
Now, it appears to be the will of Almighty GOD to take away this reproach from us, and in an age which we have learned to call peculiarly one of luxury, irreverence, and self-will, the idea of sacrifice, humility, obedience, arises newborn: in the day of tremendous physical achievement and material triumph--as though that work were finishing--it has pleased Him, in the revived life of His Church, to advance with equal foot the Supernatural Wonders of His Grace. "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." The chief purpose of this Memorial is to show the revived life of the Church in the history of one of her members, whose own life, also, was not unique, but a figure and image of many lives now daily offered in our Communion, which "go from strength to strength, and unto the GOD of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion." For the issue of saintliness is Saints--not vice-versa--and to know the virtue we must consider men. And, furthermore, as the Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, has just observed, (Princeton Review, March, 1879, pp. 297-8) "popular skepticism being what it is, the main method of meeting it must be not an argument but a man; the Minister, in other words, who deals with unbelief most successfully to-day will not be he who is most skilful in proving truths or disproving errors, but he who is most powerful in strengthening faith in people's lives by the way in which the power of faith is uttered through his own character. * * * If unbelief comes not by the processes of logic, but by the power of life, then it is through change of life that the relief from unbelief must come, and change of life comes by the power of truth, not abstract, but in and through character." There are other reasons why Louis Schuyler's life should be written. Natural affection would prompt it, with proud and sad regard. Gratitude of the warmhearted people whom he helped in grievous trouble would prompt it. It is due to the whole Sacred Order of Priests, whose true vocation he illustrated, and whose high fellowship he more exalted. It is due to the great Order of Men, whose brother he is. But the most tender eulogy of him would be a sort of violence done to his sweet humility unless there were a true intent of serving GOD in it. Then he might even
"Suffer himself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired."
Therefore the serious design of this history is not to celebrate a man, but the power of Divine Grace in him--to show how entirely feasible (though assuredly not easy) it is for one in our day, and in our Church, to live a life very like to that of JESUS CHRIST. And if it seem rather a startling thing, and hardly reverent, to say of any man that he was much like Him, we must consider what a strange, pathetic sign of our essential irreverence--and of the need of more such lives--that is, after Nineteen Centuries of Christianity! It is simply and literally true of Schuyler that he followed very closely the Pattern of his LORD'S life-- nearest It when farthest from the usual ways of men.
Being such a life, the story of it might well be left to teach its own lessons, without further comment here, yet three things shall be noticed.
Schuyler's was no "fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed." His life was spent in the ordinary work of a Parish Minister, subject to the temptations of that lot, which his brethren know; I do not--let them say if they be not many. Had he been a recluse, or even had he joined the Brotherhood which he sought, and gained the support of a Community-Life, something might be allowed for circumstances, but as it is, nothing in him is beyond attainment by any in Holy Orders--at least, by any who choose to be of " the hundred and forty and four thousand."
Then, it is most instructive to note that his life, spent solely in unearthly labours, and for unearthly rewards, suddenly brought him, without thought of his, a high prize of earthly fame, in greater measure than is often meted to long lives devoted chiefly to acquiring it. Earthly fame he won in eminent degree. To live in all men's speech, and mind, and memories; to have one's name in all newspapers, with ardent praise; to be celebrated in Sermons, Addresses, in formal Minutes and Records of enduring honour--even to have a little book written about one, like this--these all are parts of Fame. And they are all its parts--they are Fame. And this reward, for which many men strive with constant and intensest desire, came to Schuyler by the mere operation of his self-forgetfulness and self-effacement. His life of broken effort and apparent failure issued even in this, and became, even judged by worldly and temporal standards, a success and a triumph. Seeking "first the kingdom of GOD, and His righteousness," this thing was added unto him.
Finally, concerning the quality of Schuyler's deed at Memphis.--We know well the fierce joy which men have in pure courage. We know and exult in the plentifulness of that noble virtue--how it abounds in all human history. But we do not deeply consider the ignoble use we make of it, keeping it chiefly for conquering savages, or riding Balaklava-fields. We esteem it a fine thing, though put to fatuous or futile employment. Sometimes, as under stress of a great calamity, men lift courage into higher use, and our hearts thrill with admiration when we see it employed in saving men's bodies instead of destroying them--when, as at Memphis, we see noble men and women--the famous Howard Association, the Sisters, and hundreds of others unnamed and unknown by us--steadfastly braving the horrors of pestilence, and calmly yielding up their lives that others may live. This we call "true courage"--with a glow of gratitude, beholding it divested of false lustre and shining with its own inward ray. But Schuyler, with his clarified vision seeing in what we call realities the actual phantasms, and discerning the true realities in spiritual things, lifted courage still higher, and used it neither for destroying men's bodies, nor for saving them, but to save their souls. This makes the supreme worth and value of his action--its teaching by example the great and needed lesson of the reality--the "vraie verite"--of the Supernatural, and the power of Faith.
No preaching of the surpassing importance of spiritual concerns could ever reach men's hearts like his calm showing that men's souls are worth at least as much to save them as their bodies, and that there are those who deeply know and act on this. And it has been ordered that no criticism of his act can stand before the known result of it. For JESUS CHRIST has said that the whole world is not a sufficient price for a single human soul, and by GOD'S grace Louis Schuyler was permitted to save a man's soul in Memphis, and to know that he had done it. Fully believing our LORD'S words, he counted not his life a dear price for that one soul, and, unlike the young man "who made the great refusal," he parted with his "great possessions" of youth, and life, and earthly love. Willing to "be perfect," he sold all that he had and gave to the poor, and went and followed JESUS. He shall have "treasure in heaven." And for us remains the Divine comment on his action:--"Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it."
J. E. L.
MID-LENT, A. D. 1879.