Project Canterbury

On the Question of Swedish Orders.

By Henry R. Percival, M.A.

New York: American Church Press, 1892.

My readers are all probably aware of the fact that the matter of the validity or invalidity of the orders of the Established Church of Sweden has been much discussed both in this century and in the last, both in this country and in England.

These discussions have usually turned upon the merely historical question as to whether there has been a tactual succession; but I am not aware of any effort having been made to treat the matter theologically and systematically. The following is an attempt to set forth the whole case somewhat at length. It may be thought that the matter is at most one of merely historical and antiquarian interest, and not practical to us, since the Swedish Establishment is so rapidly declining, both in power and numbers, that in a few years, of the Swedes who come to this country, probably but a minority will belong, even nominally, to the Established Church. But while this is the case, yet we may well believe that ministers having Swedish ordination may, in this country, wish to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of our bishops and even to minister to our people, and we should therefore be well assured of their status. I need only say further that I have no thesis to maintain. I am but examining in the light of facts, or of what I deem to be facts, the status of the Established Church of Sweden in respect of ordination. In limine let me enter a caveat against a method of argument in the matter which to me seems utterly inadmissible. If the Church of Sweden is pledged to error upon the subject of Holy Orders, and if it does not possess valid orders, the fact that Bishop White thought it did, or that Bishop Whitehouse received a Swedish minister as a priest of the Church without ordination, or that Dr. Nicholson, of Leamington in England, wrote a book in defense of Swedish orders, or that any number of persons thought that [2/3] such orders were valid, and acted upon this supposition—any or all of these facts will not make the orders valid if they are null and void in radice. One other preliminary observation must be made, viz., a certain similarity in public service must not be construed into real unity of doctrine or worship. Everyone knows that the people of Sweden were devotedly attached to the old religion, and that they were only induced to accept Lutheranism (under the direction of the king, who is practically “summus episcopus”) by the retaining of the Catholic ritual almost unchanged. Of course in its general arrangement their Communion Office somewhat resembles ours, but what is more material is that it is almost exactly that of the rest of the Lutheran Church and is more like the Roman Ordinary of the Mass than it is like our Communion Office. What, however, is of still more importance to observe, is not a mere general likeness in outline, but the motives which had induced the present alterations from the pre-reformation uses. “The Ritual” of the Methodist Episcopal Church is in most respects exactly like the English Prayer Book, especially in the Communion Office and in the services for ordinations: but no one would gravely assert that the Methodist doctrine on the subject of the sacrifice of the Eucharist and on the grace of orders was the same as ours.

Fine feathers do not always make fine birds, and because a man wears a quasi-chasuble, and stands with his back to the people in front of a well-furnished altar, and talks about “High Mass” he is not necessarily a priest in valid orders. I propose, then, very plainly to state what I believe to be facts, and the authority upon which I received them as such, and if I make any mistakes I shall esteem it a favor to be corrected; I may, however, I hope, be allowed to add that for a correction be of any real value, the authority on which the opposite statement rests should be clearly set forth. If the Swedish bishops are real bishops, having apostolical commission, and if they elevate validly to the [3/4] priesthood, then clearly persons so elevated, after they have renounced their errors according to the canon, should be received into the Church upon their signing the promise of conformity to the Book of Common Prayer, etc. If, on the other hand, the Swedish bishops are but Lutheran ministers elevated by the State to a position of overseership; of, if, though real bishops (should ordination per saltum be possible), these do not confer valid priesthood, or if there be a reasonable doubt upon either or both of these points, then such ministers should be confirmed, ordained to the diaconate, and then raised to the priesthood according to the canons, and the refusal or neglect to do so is an act of lawlessness to he Church, and of sacrilege towards God.

(1) In the Established Church of Sweden the Three Orders of the Ministry have no existence. There is no order of ordained ministers called deacons, nor any similar order called by any other name. While the ancient name “priest” is retained in the rubrics of some of the services, such as the communion, it does not occur in the form for ordaining a minister; there being substituted the expression “preacher,” the title to this office being “dedication to the office of preaching” (“Invigning till prediko-embetet”) and the words used at the very time of “ordination” are “I herewith commit unto you the office of preaching (prediko-embetet).” The Swedish Church agrees with all Lutheran bodies in affirming that there is but one order of the ministry, although in that one order there are different grades, e.g., deans, bishops, archbishops, and in Norway superintendents. To these different grades certain functions are restricted by the State law, and such functions can only be performed by those of another grade by a permission of the Crown. A bishop cannot consecrate (to use our expression) another bishop, such a function is reserved to the archbishop alone; on the other hand, with a commission from the Crown, a dean or even an army chaplain has been allowed to [4/5] ordain to the preacher-office. I shall first establish these statements as facts and then proceed to explain the reason why such should be the case. I think I can do no better than quote from Dr. Baelter’s Historiska Anmärkningar om Kyrko-Ceremonierna (Orebro, 1838). [I am not responsible for any of the translations used in these papers. I have taken them from those whose knowledge of Swedish is undoubted, and these very quotations in this translation have appeared in print in a controversy on the subject and their accuracy has not been impugned. My own knowledge of Swedish is too slight to trust to in so delicate a matter.] “It is a popish tenet that the ordination of a priest must of necessity be performed by a bishop. We have sounder views. The congregation, which has the power to call, has also the authority to have priests ordained by any teacher in the congregation which it pleases. A bishop does not ordain in his own, but in the congregation’s name, and by its authority” (p. 677). In the footnote he says that in Sweden sometimes provosts of cathedrals have, by the king’s license, ordained priests, e.g., Provost Hedren, of Upsala, and that the chief court preacher Nordberg, as Field provost during Charles XII.’s wars, did so. From this it is evident, that, while as a matter of fact, the Swedish ministers are ordinarily ordained by their bishops, such is merely from old custom and out of respect to law, not because of any supposed necessity of such episcopal intervention. This is most clearly demonstrated also by the fact that ministers ordained by the Swedish Augustana Synod in this country, where there is no bishop, have returned to Sweden and been received as fully ordained ministers. This fact I have upon the irrefragable authority of the late lamented senior professor of the Augustana Synod, Dr. T. N. Hasselquist, who, in answer to this very question, wrote to me as follows: “Not a few have returned to Sweden of those that have been ordained here, and have been received as ministers in full standing and not re-ordained.” In answer to a previous question as to the form used and who ordained, [5/6] he wrote: “The candidates for the ministry in our synod are ordained by the president of synod with the same form as is used in Sweden, except the oath; that we of course leave out here, as there is no State Church here.” By the custom of the Swedish Church then, Episcopal ordination is not necessary for the due exercise of the ministry in the Swedish Church. Here there is certainly a clear and vast difference from our discipline upon the point, for whatever some among us may think of the grace given to ministers non-episcopally ordained, no one can dispute that the Episcopal Church does require that all who minister at her altars should have Episcopal ordination. Nor can this laxity on the part of the Church of Sweden be looked upon as accidental; we have seen that it has happened in the past, and that it is the established custom now. We go one step further and show how universally this has been practised. At the time of the Reformation part of the South of Sweden was included in the kingdom of Denmark. In 1658 it came under the Swedish crown. Now under the Danish government there were no bishops, but superintendents (as in the rest of Lutheran Germany) who laid no claim to being bishops. But when the old diocese of Lund became Swedish, the Danish superintendent took at once the name of “bishop.” Thus eight Danish superintendents sat on the archiepiscopal throne of Lund; the eighth was Dr. Peder Pedersen Winstrup, who sat from 1638 to 1658 under the name of a superintendent, and from 1658 to 1679 under the title of bishop. Moreover, during all this period the Danish ministers were allowed to continue in the churches, and not only so but no rival churches were allowed, all forms of Catholic or other Protestant worship being prohibited by the law of Sweden, a prohibition only removed in about 1860. We cannot fail to contrast this with the action of our own Church, upon the Restoration after the Great Rebellion. We come now to a most interesting fact: “When the Reformation was introduced into Finland the whole [6/7] land was but one diocese and the episcopal see was then vacant. The last Romish bishop (1522) was drowned on a journey to Sweden. The vacancy lasted five years and a half. During this time King Gustavus Wasa had appointed a dean, by name of Ericus, to be superintendent over the diocese. ‘But,’ as the history of the Church of that Country says, ‘as he was not consecrated a bishop, he did not ordain, and the ministerial ordinations were therefore performed in Sweden.’ But since the Reformation had gained strength and the king wanted the diocese to be provided with bishops, Martin Skytte, formerly general vicar over the Dominican Order in the then Scandinavian kingdoms, was appointed bishop of Abo, the former capital of Finland. This man, while travelling in Germany, had become personally acquainted with Luther, and favored his doctrine. Martin Skytte was, together with two other bishops, consecrated (1528) in Strengnas, Sweden, by the Bishop of Westerås, the above-named Petrus Magnus, who had been consecrated in Rome. Since that time, as heretofore, Episcopal consecration and ministerial ordination have always in Finland, without any exception, been performed by laying-on of hands of a bishop in true succession.” So wrote the Rev. Gustaf Unonius years ago (Vide An Ecclesiastical Dictionary, William Staunton. Article Swedish Church), and to this we add as a commentary an extract from the report made to the General Convention of 1886, by “the commission on ecclesiastical relations.” “In the Church of Finland, where it is believed that the succession had been carefully preserved, the Archbishop of Abo and his two suffragan bishops dying within a short time, leaving all the Finnish sees vacant, instead of applying to the Swedish Church for consecration for the bishops-elect or seeking valid orders from any other source, the Finnish government directed a Professor Bugenhagen, a presbyter, to consecrate the archbishop-elect—so carelessly throwing away what had been kept for centuries” [7/8] (Vide Appendix to Journal of 1886, p. 655). We have then ministers ordained by provosts and army chaplains; we have a superintendent preacher, without any consecration, assuming the title and office of bishop in a Swedish diocese; we have an archbishop consecrated by a “presbyter.” We naturally ask whether there is not some explanation of what appears to us from our point of view such an extraordinary state of things? The explanation is perfectly clear, viz.: that, like all Lutheran bodies, the Swedish body does not believe that the bishop alone is the minister of Holy Orders. This explanation, which is all sufficient, I proceed to show to be the true one. I quote again Dr. Baelter: “When Justus, King Sigismund’s popish court preacher, said that in Sweden, for want of apostolical succession and ordination, there had for sixty years been no true priest, no absolution of sins, and no sacrament of the altar, the reply was, that the popish claim was groundless, and that wherever God’s Word was purely preached, and sacraments dispensed according to the words of institution, there was a Christian Church, which had the keys of the kingdom of heaven and could entrust them to certain ordained teachers; after the example found in Acts i., of Matthias, who was made an apostle by the lot of all the disciples, and not by the election and conscration of the apostles alone” (p. 680). I have already quoted the same Swedish author as saying: “It is a popish tenet that the ordination of a priest must of necessity be performed by a bishop. We have sounder ideas.” Perhaps it may be said that, after all, this is but the opinion of one official of the Swedish Church, but that it may be of no more real authority on the matter than—say the opinion of the late Dean Stanley would have been with regard to the doctrine of the Anglican Church on the same subject. But this explanation is made of no force by the fact, which cannot be denied, that the actual and past practice of the Swedish Church agrees with the doctrine set forth by the Swedish dean; [8/9] while no one can deny that whatever some of her clergy may think about its necessity, the practice of the Anglican Church has been, and is, to require Episcopal ordination. If doctrine is to be gathered from practice, nothing could more distinctly show the difference of doctrine of the Anglican Church from the Swedish Lutheran Church than the divergent practice of the two communions in this matter. We are not, however, left to the opinion of any Church dignitary, be he never so learned or high in station; but can find the whole matter set forth in the doctrinal standards of the Church of Sweden. In 1647 the Book of Concord was adopted by the clergy as Clerus Commitialis, and was made binding in the Ecclesiastical Law of 1686, which has not been repealed. (On the position of the Smalkald Articles as part of the Book of Concord, vide Schaff’s History of the Creeds, p. 257. For the text of the Ecclesiastical Law of 1686 see Sundelin in Herzog-Platt “Real Encyclop,” Vol. xiii., p. 741.) [I have translated from the Latin and followed for the most part the text of Fred. Francke, Libri Symbolici Ecclesiae Lutheranae. The same will be found in Swedish in a volume issued at Chicago, 1878, Concordia Pia. Evangeliskt-Lutherska Kyrkans Symboliska Bocker jemte Upsala Motes Beslut af ar 1593, and published under the authority of the Augustana Synod in this country.]

In the Smalkald Articles, Number x. reads as follows: “If bishops excercise rightly their order and take care of the Church and Gospel, they may be permitted for the sake of charity and tranquillity to ordain and confirm us and our preachers, but not of necessity (non ex necessitate).” Further on in Section 3 we read what is to be done as a matter of fact: “Wherefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and of the fathers teach us, we ought, and we intend, to ordain suitable persons to this office. And this they cannot prohibit by their own law, which affirms that those ordained even by heretics are truly ordained, and that such ordination should not be repeated. And Jerome writes of the Church of Alexandria that at first it [9/10] was governed without bishops by presbyters and ministers.” [I have followed the reading, “Absque episcopis per presbyteros, etc.”] This same doctrine is perhaps still more plainly set forth in the second part of the appendix to the same articles: “Jerome teachers that there is only by human authority a distinction of orders (gradus) between a bishop and a presbyter or pastor. . . . There is, however, one thing which makes a distinction between bishops and pastors, viz., ordination, because it is established that one bishop should ordain ministers in many churches. But since the orders of bishop and pastor are not distinct by God’s law (jure divino), it is manifest that an ordination made by a pastor in his own church is valid by God’s law (jure divino ratam esse).” From all this it is perfectly evident that the Lutheran Church, of which the “Swedish Lutheran Church” is an integral part, recognizes but one order of the ministry as of divine institution, and that this order has jure divino the power to make ministers by ordination. Under these circumstances it is not to be wondered at that the abolishment of the Episcopal office altogether has been urgently pressed in the Swedish Diets during the past ten years.

To sum up, then, what we have thus far presented:

(1). The Swedish Church has abolished the order of deacons, and has therefore abandoned the “Three Orders of Ministers” in the Church.

(2). The Swedish Church does not consider that the power of ordination is restricted by divine law to the bishop, but that it may be validly exercised by any duly ordained minister, and lawfully, if such minister has a license from the king.

(3). The Swedish Church has allowed ministers not having, nor claiming to have, Episcopal ordination to serve her parishes and even to sit upon her Episcopal thrones, and has done so lately; and is still doing so in the case of ministers ordained by the [10/11] Augustana Synod in this country and in the case of the bishops of Finland.

(4) The Swedish Church requires all her clergy to swear that they believe the orders of bishop and of pastor to be the same jure divino, and the distinction to be but a human invention.

How far these facts may invalidate any ordination or may render a sufficient intention unlikely, if not impossible, I do not feel called upon to say in this writing—the object of which is simply to present what I believe to be facts; but I cannot refrain from quoting the weighty words of all the American bishops in their paper presented to the last Lambeth Conference on the question of the validity of the orders of the “Reformed Episcopal Church,” a body which, while indeed it is in a better condition than the Church of Sweden, in that it has retained the order of deacon, both name and thing, yet has clearly defined that on the matter of the episcopate it is entirely at one with the Swedish Church, receiving as it does, non-episcopally ordained ministers into its ministry without ordination. The bishops, explaining the grounds on which they were “forced to conclude that the act of consecration, so-called, of Dr. Cheney was ipso facto null and void, say: “We do know from open and clear declarations of avowed principles, that there was not even a pretence of ordaining and consecrating a bishop, in the meaning and intention of the Ordinal.” And as the proof of this lack of sufficient intention on the part of the consecrator, they quote as follows from his sermon at the consecration: “There is no evidence from Scripture that the apostles established the episcopate as an order in the ministry distinct from, and superior in rank to, the presbyterate. If there is to be found any trace of Episcopacy in the New Testament, it is only as an office exercised by one who was himself a fellow presbyter, commissioned or set apart for the exercise of such powers as were rendered necessary for the exigencies of the Church, and for the promotion of its well-being, by a system of general oversight and [11/12] superintendence” (The Lambeth Conference, Ed. by Dean of Windsor, p. 360). The reader will instantly perceive that the declaration which the bishops consider to have made the act of Bishop Cummins in consecrating null and void is almost verbatim the declaration of the Smalkald Articles, sworn to by every minister of the Church of Sweden.

We have seen that of the three “Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church, bishops, priests and deacons,” which the Anglican communion declares to “have been from the apostles’ time,” the Church of Sweden has abolished the diaconate altogether, and that while retaining the episcopate in name, she has deprived it, both in practice and by doctrinal definition, of what has ever been its chiefest characteristic in the Catholic Church, namely, the sole power of ordination, thus making the distinction between priest and bishop not one of order and of divine right, but one of jurisdiction and of human (that is, in the case of the Swedish Church, of royal) institution. We come now to the question whether in the Church of Sweden there is any order of priests or presbyters; in other words, whether there is any order which corresponds to what we and the rest of Catholic Christendom understand by the priesthood. Now, in the first place, let me dismiss the whole matter of the name. To the word “priest” it is possible that in Sweden superstitious ideas had been attached, so that it was necessary to adopt another name in the ordination service to remove the error which existed in the minds of the people. No such superstitions had gathered round the word in England and we found no need of dropping it. In fact in the ordination service where it had read in the old Pontifical, “The ordering of a presbyter,” the reformed order reads, as to-day, “The ordering of priests.” Nor, so far as I am aware, is there any reason to believe that there was more need of the change in Sweden; but however this may be, for the sake of the argument, we will allow that such necessity did exist in 1809 when the change  [12/13] was made, and that therefore the word “priest” was dropped as the title of the office to be committed to the candidate. But not only is the word “priest” omitted, but no attempt is made to provide a Swedish substitute for the Latin “presbyter,” a name which was not likely to be accompanied by any superstitious ideas whatever. However, we waive this point, only remarking that the Reformed Episcopal Church has retained the word “presbyter” as the title of the second order, substituting it for the word “priest,” which it considers in the Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches to have superstitious ideas attaching to it. But not only is the word “priest” not used, nor any equivalent of the word “presbyter,” but a word is used which sets forth but one function, and that not an essentially clerical one, of the ministerial office; the word used being “preaching office” (“Prediko-embetet”). This is the name given in the title to the office and in the body of the service at the “Invigning.” [I use the Swedish word so that no one may charge me with foisting a meaning of my own on a word of doubtful signification.]

Now had the word “priest” been used in the formula of “invigning,” even though no priestly functions were mentioned in the service, it might reasonably be supposed that, in the absence of any declaration to the contrary, the word “priest” was to be understood in the ordinary sense. But the word “priest” is not used, nor any equivalent of the word “presbyter,” but the expression “office of preaching” is substituted. If by this expression, an expression unknown to the Catholic Church, is intended the second order of the ministry, there must be something in the rest of the service to show this. Now the work of a lay-reader in the Church is often an “office of preaching;” and the work of the deacon is usually so; this therefore cannot be looked upon as the distinctive work of the second order, since it is common to all three and often exercised in virtue of ecclesiastical permission by those in no one of [13/14] the three orders of the sacred ministry. What is the distinguishing characteristic of the second order? It is, in the words of our “Form of Ordering of Priests”—to be “a faithful dispenser of the Word of God and of His Sacraments.” Such are the words used at the moment of ordination. We are ready now to examine the Swedish office, and we find not only that to the candidate is only committed the “office of preaching,” but that in the entire service there is no mention of the sacraments whatever, except that the candidate is asked this question:

“Wilt thou . . . solicitously take heed that Jesus Christ is preached conformably to God’s Word and the Holy Sacraments according to His institution? Ans.: Yes.”

Whether this be sufficient when confronted with the stupendous fact of the deliberate omission of the word “priest” or “presbyter” and the substitution of the expression, “office of preaching,” to show that the order of priests does exist in the Swedish Church, I must leave my readers to determine.

For a full treatment of the subject it should be considered whether the Swedish Church pretends to execute the two great distinctive acts of the priesthood—which are to consecrate the Holy Eucharist and to absolve from sin. I may perhaps quote here the most common form of the theological definition of sacerdotium: “Ordo sacer et sacramentum quo potestas confetur consecrandi Corpus Christi et peccata remittendi” (Sum. Sup., Q. xxxviii. Art. iv.). To enter upon this subject would require some knowledge in technical theology on the part of my readers, which they for the most part would not possess, and as it is not really necessary for the discussion in hand, I may dismiss it by remarking that what we understand by “consecration of the Holy Eucharist” is not believed in at all by the Lutheran bodies, who look upon the “consecration” as wholly the work of God, and not even accomplished mediately through the minister; nor requiring, [14/15] except for canonical and economical reasons, an ordained minister to perform it. [In chapter vii. of the “Formula of Concord” we read—Affirmations iii. “As far as relates to consecration, we believe, teach and confess that no work of man, nor any word spoken by any minister of the Church, causes the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Supper; but that this must be attributed only to the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ.”] In fact in Sweden, I am told on authority (although contrary to law) for a lay member of the congregation to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, while the person admitted to “the office of preaching” exercises his ministry in the sermon. [On one occasion, when this was the case, a member of the Anglican communion, who sympathized with the Swedish Church, happened to be present, and was so much scandalized that the matter was brought to the attention of the Archbishop of Upsala, who said that he would do what he could to prevent its recurrence in the church this person attend. The archbishop also said that it was unlawful.] Another peculiarity of the Swedish Liturgy is that the minister who is celebrating (as we would say) the Lord’s Supper cannot receive himself. Of course this would render, even if the celebrant were a true priest, every celebration of the Holy Eucharist imperfect, and—by the opinion of the Catholic Church—sacrilegious as a violation of divine order. With regard to absolution, I need only say that the Swedish forms simply proclaim a forgiveness already attained. The form used is as follows:

For the “private” administration (which is in the presence of two or three witnesses): “Whereas thou hast, in the presence of God and His congregation, confessed, and entreated forgiveness, and hast also promised amendment of life, I declare and pronounce unto thee that thou art received back again into the congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and hast likewise access unto all His glorious privileges.”

In the public administration the form used is the following: “If this your confession be true, your amendment sincere, and faith right, I certify you, as the servant of Jesus Christ, that God hath forgiven you all your sins. And this forgiveness of [15/16] your since I declare unto you in the Name of the Father, etc.” Of course neither of these is an absolution at all, but the second is the identical form which the Puritan divines at the Savoy Conference desired to be substituted for that in our Visitation of the Sick, and which the bishops refused to adopted because, said they: “The form of absolution in the Liturgy is more agreeable to the Scriptures than that which they desire, it being said in St. John xx.: “Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted,’ not ‘Whose sins ye pronounce remitted’ (Cardwell, Conferences on the B. C. P., p. 361).” We leave the dogmatic question and come now to the discussion of the form of ordination, properly so called.

Now just here we meet with a most extraordinary fact, viz., that a Swedish minister receives an “invigning” every time he changes his charge. There are two forms in the Ritual Book of the Swedish Church: the one entitled the “Ordination to the Office of Preaching” (“Om invigning till Prediko-embetet”), the other “How a Church-pastor shall be installed in a Congregation” (“Hum Kyrkoherde skall Installas i en Församling”). In each form the person kneels down and the bishop with his assistants lays his hands upon him and the Lord’s Prayer is said; in each case before this ceremony the bishop commits the office to the person, in the one case saying: “I commit unto thee the Preaching Office,” in the other “I commit unto thee the Church Pastor Office in this Christian congregation.” It is provided that this service of installation may be performed by the Provost if so commissioned (Vide first rubric), and from this, did we not know the Swedish doctrine upon the subject, we might conclude that this was a mere “induction” and “institution,” as we would call it; but such is not the case for Dean Baelter (already quoted) tells us expressly that the two things (ordination and induction) were identical in the first ages and are so still in Sweden and that as to the ceremonies used on both occasions they differ little or nothing from one another, on [16/17] which account induction is called by some people “the second ordination” (Kyrko-Ceremonierna, pp. 681, 682). Such is the statement of a grave theologian of the Swedish Church. It may be urged, as we have remarked before, that this is after all but private opinion; we therefore settle the matter by quoting the very words of the first rubric in this service of installation: “Last the bishop or he that acts in his stead, proceeds to the altar. He that conducts the ordination places himself before the altar, etc.” In the face of this rubric it cannot be denied that, as Dean Baelter tells us, a Swedish minister is “ordained” every time he changes his cure. How consistent this may be with a sound doctrine on the subject of Holy orders, and how much in agreement with the doctrine of the whole Catholic Church, and of this Church in particular, I shall leave to my readers to decide.

Thus far it has been shown that the Swedish Church has not the Three Orders of the Ministry, and, therefore, has not the apostolic form of government; that she has abrogated altogether the diaconate as an order of the ministry; that the power of ordination is not restricted to the bishop, but at the king’s bidding may be and has been exercised by others; that, therefore, while retaining the name of bishop, she has so changed the meaning that it is not really the same office. Moreover, we have seen that even the Second Order of the Ministry appears to have been likewise abandoned and a new order created called by the name of the “Office of Preaching,” that this order neither consecrates the Holy Eucharist nor remits sins, and that the persons admitted to the “Office of Preaching” are “ordained” afresh every time they change their pastoral charge. We proceed now to examine the form for ordaining to the preaching office.

In discussing the validity of a form for ordaining priests, the material considerations for examination are the words used and the acts done at the time when the ordination is supposed to take place. For [17/18] the purpose of this discussion we shall grant for the sake of the argument that the bishop is in valid orders (a matter we shall consider by and by), and that he has a sufficient intention to raise the ordinand to the priesthood in the Catholic Church (a matter which we have already explained to the reader). We will suppose (I say) that the minister and the intention are proper, and will confine ourselves simply to the question of the “matter” and “form.” Unlike the ordinations in the Catholic Church, the service is performed (so the rubric directs) “at the end of divine service.” The outline of the service is this: The bishop’s charge. A prayer, some passages of Scripture, another prayer, the ordinands say the Apostles’ Creed, substituting “a holy Christian Church” for “the holy Catholic Church.” [This has been changed by royal authority since 1874 to “a holy universal (almännelig) Church.] Another prayer, and certain questions to the ordinands, after which “the oaths are administered by the notary.” We come now to the ordination proper. Up to this time the persons have been described as ordinandi, those who are to be ordained. The ordinands are standing and the bishop says after the oaths are administered:

“God Almighty strengthen and help you to keep this; and by the authority which on God’s behalf is entrusted to m by His congregation for this business, I hereby commit unto you the Office of Preaching, in the name of the Father,” etc. This constitutes the ordination, for the rubric immediately following reads:

“They who are ordained fall upon their knees . . . . The bishop, with the assistants, during the singing places the chasubles upon those ordained,” etc. According, then, to the present doctrine of the Swedish Church the ordination to the Office of Preaching consists in the bishop, as the representative of the congregation, admitting to that office persons canonically and otherwise suitable.

After the ordination is done the bishop “prays with laying on of hands [upon those ordained], over each separately,” [18/19] saying “Our Father . . . . For thine is the kingdom, etc.” According then to the present service book at the ordination there is no laying on of hands at all, but only a subsequent imposition, with the Lord’s Prayer as a blessing, on those ordained. I say by the “present service book,” because this was different a few years ago, and in the book of 1839 the persons were described as ordinandi in this vesting rubric, which is much shorter, does not mention “chasubles” by name, but reads, “Thereupon shall the bishop, with the assistants, robe the one to be ordained and during the laying on of hands, etc.” We here have indeed the laying on of the bishop’s hands, but we have no form specifying whether the object of such imposition (whether for confirmation, or merely for blessing, or what not) or the grace supposed to be bestowed, nothing but the distinct definition of the rubric that it is “a prayer over them.” Again I must leave it to my readers to determine whether the Lord’s Prayer said over a man’s head with imposition of the bishop’s hands is sufficient form to convey the priesthood. In arriving at such determination it must be remembered that the object of such imposition of hands is not defined by the service that has gone before, unless by the declaration of the bishop that he has already committed to the person “the Office of Preaching.”

We come now to the consideration of the question of the Episcopal succession, strictly so called. We have seen that there are in the Church of Sweden no deacons as an order of the ministry; no priests with power by their word to consecrate the Holy Eucharist or absolve from sin; and no bishops in the sense of the Catholic Church, viz.: Ministers who alone have the power, as well as the right, to confer Holy Orders.

We have come now to the consideration whether if all this were right, instead of being as it is, the Swedish Church would still have validly ordained bishops, the “Historic Episcopate.” Perhaps it may be expected that here I should enter into the historic question as to whether there was [19/20] any beginning from which this Protestant succession could come, but this question, which is one of considerable difficulty, despite the airy manner in which Dr. A. Nicholson discusses it in his little book upon the subject, a work which has found a very weighty answer entitled “Om den Apostoliska Successionem inom den Svenska-Lutherska Kyrkan” (Stockholm, 1881), this question I shall entirely omit as utterly unnecessary, for even if there were a properly consecrated bishop to begin with, yet for centuries since there has been no true consecration of a bishop in Sweden through a deficiency of the form and of the matter—the orders would be manifestly invalid to-day. All we have to do is, therefore, to examine the service used for this, which some Anglicans have called a “consecration,” but which the Swedes themselves call (in the title) an “Installing.” First, then, we consider the title to the service which reads, “How a Bishop shall be Installed in Office.” The reader will notice that the person to be “installed” is already a “bishop;” it is not a form of how “a person shall be consecrated bishop and installed in office,” nor “how a person shall be installed into the office of a bishop,” but a form of “how a bishop shall be installed in office.” In accordance with this we find the person to be installed described as a “bishop” from the beginning of the service, e.g., in the second rubric we read, “The bishop who is to be installed places himself in the choir, etc.” Surely this is plain enough and leaves no room for doubt as to meaning; the person is already a “bishop” and the service is to “install” him into office. What made him “bishop”? Clearly his appointment by the crown. The royal appointment made him, who before only had the “Office of Preaching,” a “bishop,” and then he is to be “installed” by the archbishop who does this, as we shall see presently, by virtue of the royal mandate. Further on in the service we find the rubric following, “The bishop vows, etc.” The reader will notice that the person is already a “bishop.”

[21] We come now to what is the formula of installation. The bishop is standing, and the archbishop says: “God Almighty strengthen and help thee to keep this. And according to the authority which on God’s behalf by His congregation is entrusted to me for this business, I hereby commit to thee the office of bishop in the diocese of N. In the name of the Father, etc.” Thus reads the form to-day, but it did not read so a few years ago; for bad and hopelessly invalid as this is, expressing most clearly that the office of bishop in that diocese comes from the congregation and not immediately from God, it is much worse as it stood in the Church Handbook of 1809, the wording being sill clearer as follows: “According to the authority entrusted to me on God’s behalf by His congregation for this business I herewith deliver unto you the king’s authority, and therewith the office of bishop, etc.” Even Dr. Nicholson, after the most strenuous defence of the validity of the Swedish orders, when confronted with this form, at first thought it a “forged form” (so monstrous is it) and “an absolute falsification,” and confessed that if such a form was ever used, a conclusion opposite to his former one “was inevitable” (Letter to the Church Times by the Rev. A. Nichsolson, LL.D., dated Christ church, Leamington, June 28, 1880). Such, however, was the form, and that there may be no mistake I quote the original (from Baelter, p. 668, foot-note, 18). “Och jag, enligt den Fullmagt, som mig, pä Guds wäger af hans Församling uti detta ärendetbetrodd är, antwardar dig hänmed konungens Fullmagt, och deijämte Biskops-ämbetett uti N. N. stift, etc.” Perfectly in accordance with this is the rubric which directs: “The archbishop delivers to him who is installed, first the king’s authority (Fullmagt) and after that the bishop’s cross, which he hangs upon his breast. Thereupon the assistants place upon the bishop the cope, after which the archbishop delivers to him the pastoral staff.” He was described as a “bishop” at the beginning, before the [21/22] service began; he has now become “an installed bishop;” and all this time there has been no laying on of the bishop’s hands! He has been made a bishop by the king’s appointment, he has been installed by virtue of the congregation’s power entrusted to the archbishop, a power which he has executed by the king’s authority; now, when he is (without any imposition or hands or any pretence at consecration) an installed bishop, we find the following rubric: “The archbishop and assistants lay their hands on the bishop’s head and the archbishop says: ‘Our Father, etc.,’ and ‘For thine, etc.’” I will ask my readers to compare with this the following rubric found in exactly the corresponding place in the service “Installing a church pastor in office.” “The bishop and the assistants lay their hands upon his head and together prayer, ‘Our Father.’” I can leave it with great confidence to my readers to determine whether this is, or even is intended to be, the consecration of a priest to the Episcopate.

Before I close, lest I should be thought to be in any way discourteous to the ministers and bishops of the Church of Sweden, I desire plainly to say that I have not the least doubt that all the ministers of that Church are properly ordained Swedish ministers, that such ministers are by the royal authority made perfectly regularly bishops of the Swedish Church, and that by the form for that purpose provided they are duly installed in office; not only so, but I have no doubt that these ministers, whether simply church pastors, provosts, bishops or archbishops, have the power to perform all that they claim to do. While all this is true, it is a very different thing to assert that the Swedish Lutheran Church has what we understand by the priesthood or the Historic Episcopate, things which, as they have rejected in theory, so too, I think my readers will feel persuaded, they have lost in fact. I may now close by quoting upon the whole matter of orders the words of the first Swedish protestant archbishop, words which clearly set forth [22/23] the genuine Lutheran doctrine upon the subject:

“We assert (against the Papists) that this honor does not belong to shavelings and anointed alone: yea, as far as they are such, not at all to them; but to all the faithful of Christ, and we say that all these are true and lawful priests of the New testament, to whom the Word of God and all priestly offices are committed and that, of God; which we thus prove. Whomsoever God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, i.e. the whole Trinity, adopts by baptism among the sons of God, He, at the same time, through the incorruptible anointing, viz., the Holy Spirit, makes them lawful and spiritually ordained priests, that (as St. Peter says) ‘They may shew forth the virtues of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.’ Nor can there be had a more lawful and valid ordination. But since the power of choosing belongeth to the Church, that is ever lawful and valid which she does in choosing ministers from whatever presbyter or bishop those elected shall afterwards receive the imposition of hands, so he be faithful and Christian” (Quoted from Chr. Rem., in Pusey’s “Essay on Reunion,” footnote to p. 50). On this passage Dr. Pusey makes the following note. “This is genuine Lutheranism. But it could hardly be said more explicitly, that all being alike priests and bishops nothing more is done in ordination than to select persons to exercise an office which they, in common with all other Christians, have already.” To sum up them the results of our investigation,

The Church of Sweden is a Church—

(1) Pledged to the acceptance of the Lutheran Symbolical books.

(2) A Church in which every person before admitted a minister declares his belief that any pastor can validly ordain.

(3) A Church in which the three orders of the ministry do not exist.

(4) A Church which has abolished the order of deacon.

[24] (5) A Church which does not pretend to ordain to the priesthood or even to the presbyterate, but to the “Office of Preaching.”

(6) A Church which denies to its ministers any power by their words to consecrate the Holy Eucharist.

(7) A Church which forbids its ministers when administering the Lord’s Supper to receive themselves.

(8) A Church which provides for its ministers a form of absolution in private confession which does not claim to remit sins, but only to declare sins as already forgiven.

(9) A Church in which the titular bishops have no power to install other bishops, such power being confined to the archbishop.

(10) A Church in which the power of ordaining ministers is not confined to the bishop, but may be and has been performed by others commissioned by him or by the king.

(11) A Church which habitually receives into its ministry without ordination persons having only Presbyterian ordination in this country.

(12) A Church which never consecrates a bishop, but only “installs into a diocese” persons already made bishops by the king’s appointment.

(13) A Church which in the office of installation makes the archbishop say that the authority by which he is acting is that “committed to him by the congregation.”

(14) A Church in which the ordination-formula to the “Office of Preaching” and the installation-formula to the “Office of Bishop in N. Diocese” are not accompanied with any imposition of hands whatever.

(15) A Church in which the only imposition of hands is that made after the person is already ordained to the Office of Preaching; after the minister is installed into the office of Church pastor; after the bishop is installed into the diocese of N.; an imposition of hands, accompanied in each case exactly with the same words, viz.: The Lord’s Prayer.

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