THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH:
PREACHED IN TRINITY CHURCH, NEW-YORK,
THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH,
THE STATE OF NEW-YORK.
REV. SAMUEL F. JARVIS, A. M.
RECTOR OF ST. MICHAEL'S, BLOOMINGDALE,
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York 2009
[Transcriber’s note: I have not included footnotes containing Greek and Latin text in this transcription. Any reader wishing to see the entire original may email their request to the transcriber at email@example.com]
THE RIGHT REVEREND
AND THE HONOURABLE
THE LAY DEPUTIES,
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH,
IN THE DIOCESE OF NEW-YORK,
ASSEMBLED IN CONVENTION,
OCT. 1, 1816,
PREACHED BEFORE THEM,
TO PROMOTE THE CAUSE OF PRIMITIVE TRUTH AND ORDER,
IS MOST HUMBLY,
BY THE AUTHOR.
I. CORINTHIANS, XII. 25.
That there should be no schism in the body.
THE object of St. Paul in this part of his epistle, was to repress the pride, and allay the contentions, of those who were endowed with the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Some possessed the power of healing diseases; others, that of speaking different languages; and others, that of prophesying.--The question arose, Which of these gifts was the greatest; and the pride of man being thus excited, the natural consequence were contentions for pre-eminence. The Apostle, therefore, gave them to understand, that these gifts were conferred upon them by God, not for the aggrandizement of themselves, but for the good of the Church. This truth he illustrates, by comparing the Church to the human body, all the members of which have different offices, but are all so equally subservient to the good of the whole, that no one can dispense with the services of the other. "As the body," says he, "is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit, are we all baptized into one body--and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.--And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary".--For "God hath tempered the body together,"--"that there [5/6] should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another."
From this passage of Scripture, it is apparent, that the Church of Christ, by which I mean the great society of believers called out of the world, is one body; and that men become members of that body by being baptized. [* Schleusner, Lex. vol. i. p. 724. ed. 3 ia, Lips. 1808. "We are now," says Jones of Nayland, "prepared to take a review of this society called the World. It is composed of men lost by the fall; disposed to all manner of evil; ignorant of the way of peace; at enmity with God, and with one another; delighting themselves in the pride of appearance, and the vanity of distinction. In a word, "the whole world lieth in wickedness." Such then is the world, and such are we all, so far as we are members of it. God, therefore, of his infinite mercy takes us out of this wicked society, and translates us into another. He "delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the kingdom of his dear Son; and without this translation we are inevitably lost. You are here to observe, that the kingdom of Christ is one of the names of his Church; and they that are in it, as it is distinguished from the world, are called "children of the kingdom."--Essay: on the Church, chap. i. "The Church then, as a society, is not the work of man; nor can it possibly be so. I have laid the foundation of all my reasonings upon this subject, in the distinction betwixt the Church and the World, as two separate parties. The Church is so named, because it is called or chosen out of the World. 'Till it is so called out of the world, it hath no being: but it cannot call itself, any more than a man can bring himself into the world." Ibid. chap. ii.]
Nor are these truths to be deduced from a solitary passage, for they pervade the whole of the Scriptures of the New Testament. Sometimes, the Church is spoken of as one Kingdom. It is called in the gospels, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Kingdom of God. In the epistle to the Colossians, it is called the Kingdom of Christ. In that to the Ephesians, the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
In the same epistle it is compared to one building. "Ye Gentiles are built," says the Apostle, "upon the [6/7] foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom, all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord."
It is also compared to one Family, to one Household, to one City. But the most usual figure is that contained in the text, the comparison of the Church to a human body.
Thus, in the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, it is said, that God "hath put all things under the feet of Christ," and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is his body. In the second chapter, the Apostle, speaking of the union of believing Jews and Gentiles, says, "In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace," that is, he hath reconciled us Jews and Gentiles together, "who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us--for to make in himself of twain, one new man--Andthat he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off," that is, the Gentiles, "and to them that were nigh," that is, the Jews. "For through him, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
In the fourth chapter, St. Paul exhorts the Ephesians "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." For "there is," says he, "one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." Christ "gave some, apostles; and some, prophets and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the [7/8] unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"--that "speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love."
Again, in the fifth chapter, the Apostle, illustrating the relative duties of husbands and wives, compares the husband, as being the head of the wife, to Christ, who "is the head of the Church." "And," he adds, "he," that is, Christ, "is the Saviour of the body." He exhorts husbands, to "love" their "wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."--"No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." In the first chapter of the epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle says, that the Son of God "is the head of the body, the Church." [* v. 18, compared with verses 12 and 13.]
These passages, whether examined separately or collectively, must be sufficient to show you, my brethren, that the Church, the great body of the faithful in every age and in every nation, constitutes one family, of which Jesus Christ is the master; one building, of which he is the chief corner stone; one kingdom, of which he is the ruler; one body, of which he is the head.--Let [8/9] us then proceed to consider how men become members of this family--of this kingdom--of this body.
"Byone Spirit," says St. Paul, in the passage connected with the text, "are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles--whether we be bond or free." In the epistle to the Galatians, he says, "Ye are all children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." In the tenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, that the Israelites, men, women, and children, when they passed under the cloud, through the Red Sea, "were all baptized into Moses, in the cloud and in the Sea:" that is, they there entered into that covenant, by which they acknowledged Moses as their ruler and guide, united their fortunes with his, and engaged to suffer with him all the hardships of their journey, in the expectation of also receiving with him, the blessings of the promised land. "This is that Moses," says St. Stephen, "that was in the Church in the wilderness, with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sina." Moses was a type of our Saviour; the Israelites in the wilderness, a type of the Christian Church; and the baptism into Moses, by which they became members of the Church in the wilderness, a type of that baptism by which men are baptized into Jesus and thus made members of his body.--"Know ye not," says St. Paul, "that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we [9/10] are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of his father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life." [* Rom. vi. 3, 4] As the Israelites, by being baptized into Moses, were intimately united to him, and became sharers in his sufferings and rewards; so Christians, baptized into Jesus, become members of his body, and partakers of his death and resurrection. "Go," said our Saviour to his Apostles, "and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," said he to Nicodemus, "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
From these passages, it is evident, that all baptized persons are members of one body;--that they are adopted as the children of God;--that they have put on Christ;--that they are all one in Christ Jesus;--that they thereby profess themselves the followers of Jesus;--that they have entered into a most intimate union with him;--that they have become his disciples; and have entered into the kingdom of God. All persons, therefore, who have been baptized, are members of that one body, of which Christ is the head, the Catholic, or Universal Church.
Having thus considered the nature of that "body" mentioned in the text, and the mode of becoming members of it, let us proceed, my brethren, to consider in what that schism consists, which we are cautioned by the Apostle to avoid: "that there should be no schism in the body."
The word "schism" signifies a rent, breach, or [10/11] separation. [* See Campbell's Preliminary Dissertations to his Translation of the Gospels. Edin. 1812. vol. i. p. 466. Diss. ix. Part III.] In this sense it occurs in the Gospels. "No man," says our Saviour, "putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent, (in the original, schism,) is made worse." [* Matt. ix. 16. Mark 11.21]
From this sense it is transferred, by metaphor, to things incorporeal. Thus, St. Paul says to the Corinthian Christians, "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." So in another part of the same epistle, he says, "I hear that there be divisions among you."---In both these passages, the word "divisions" is, in the original, schisms. But the opposite to "division" or "schism" is unity; and, therefore, in order to learn what is meant by schism, we must know in what that unity consists, of which it is a violation. If, then, we look back to the earliest and purest state of the Christian Church, we shall find this description of its unity. "They that gladly received the word of Peter were baptized.--And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." [* As the arrangement of the following discourse, and the chain of reasoning throughout, is dependent upon the proper elucidation of this verse, I shall entreat the indulgence of the reader, while I proceed to show more fully than I could possibly do in the discourse itself, the grounds upon which I have proceeded in the interpretation of it. The remainder of this four page footnote has not been reproduced in this transcription.]
 1st. In the Apostles' doctrine; that is, in hearing and believing the doctrine taught by the Apostles, and practising according to it. 2dly. In fellowship, or communication; that is, in the relief of the indigent, the consolation of the afflicted, and the performance of all those offices of love, which are so peculiarly the duty of [12/13] Christians. 3dly. In breaking of bread; that is, in partaking the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. At the institution of that ordinance, "Jesus," say the Evangelists, "took bread, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples." [* Matt. xxvi. 26. Mark xiv. 22. Luke xxii. 19.] Hence the term, breaking of bread, came to denote the Lord's Supper, in several passages in the New Testament. Thus, in the 20th chapter of Acts, [13/14] "Upon the first day of the week," or the Lord's day, "when the disciples came together to break bread;'' or to receive the communion, "Paul preached unto them." 4. The fourth particular mentioned, in which the unity of the Church consisted, is prayers; that is, uniting together in social worship; assembling and joining, as with one heart and one soul, in offering worship to God.
Here then we have mentioned, as constituting the unity of the Church; 1. The belief of Apostolic doctrine; [14/15] 2. Love for our brethren; 3. A participation of the Lord's Supper; and, 4. The assembling together for the purpose of public prayer.
The participation of the Lord's Supper, is, in other parts of the New Testament, spoken of as very eminently the badge of Christian union: "The cup of blessing which we bless," says St. Paul, "is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" And then he adds, "For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."--"We are joined together into one mystical body, and declare ourselves to be so, by our fellowship to getherin the ordinance of the Lord's Supper." It follows then, from what has been said, that schism exists--wherever there is not a union in Apostolic doctrine;--wherever there is a want of Christian love;--wherever there is no assembling together for the purpose of public worship;--and, wherever there is no union in the participation of the body and blood of Christ.
But, alas! my brethren, how dreadful a picture is now displayed to our view, of the mystical body of Christ! We behold its members rent asunder by continual schisms. We behold altar raised against altar, and priesthood against priesthood. We hear the hoarse and angry voice of contention, where nought should prevail but harmony and peace. We hear disciples of the same master, loudly denouncing each other, with bitter imprecations; and consigning each other (oh, it is most horrible!) to the torments of everlasting woe.
My brethren, do we, (it is an awful and interesting [15/16] inquiry;) do we ourselves partake in this guilt? Do we create a schism in the body of Christ? Do we prevent our brethren from uniting with us in doctrine, in worship, in charity, in communion?--If we do not, then the breach which exists among the members of the Catholic Church, however deplorable, and however criminal, is not to be attributed to us. As in private quarrels, the blame is to be laid on the offenders; so in cases of schism in the Church, they only are to be considered as the schismatics, who require unlawful terms of communion. By this rule then, my brethren, let us examine our own case; 1st, with relation to the Church of Rome; and, 2dly, with relation to our Protestant brethren, who have separated themselves from our communion.
I. The question between us and the Church of Rome, she is this: When the schism took place between us, was (she) the schismatic, or were we? Now, if no unlawful terms of communion were required from us, we were, and still continue to be, guilty of rending the body of Christ but, if the Church of Rome would not allow us to continue in communion with her, but upon terms repugnant to the Gospel, then she alone must bear the weight of this iniquity. She was, and is still, guilty of schism.
1. In the first place, Were we required to believe only the Apostles' doctrine? On the contrary, she taught, and still continues to teach, for doctrines, the commandments of men; and by her traditions, has made void the law of God. [* "The rejection of tradition as a rule of faith, was the vital principle of the Reformation." Dr. Marsh's Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome, p. 75, chap. 4. See also the very able review of this work in the Christian Register, published by Messrs. T. & J. Swords.]--The Scriptures teach us, that we are to worship [16/17] only the Lord our God. The Church of Rome excommunicates all who do not pray to the Virgin Mary, and worship a long catalogue of pretended Saints. The Scriptures command us not to make to ourselves a graven image, and not to bow down ourselves to them, nor serve them. The Church of Rome requires of her votaries, that they bow the knee and worship before them. The Scriptures teach us to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." The Church of Rome requires us to submit implicitly to her authority; to surrender our own judgment; and to believe what she is pleased to establish as articles of faith, however inconsistent they may appear to us, with the declarations and injunctions of the Gospel.
2. With regard to the great law of Christian Charity, she is, if possible, still more guilty than with respect to doctrines. Persecution of all who do not acknowledge her decisions is, with her, an established principle. Every one who does not assent to her faith, is consigned to eternal damnation; and the same jurisdiction is claimed by her over those who have separated from her, as is exercised over deserters by the general of an army. Hence, as a necessary consequence, she claims the right to punish them as rebels; and that this is not merely an abstract, speculative principle, but has been carried into dreadful operation, even a cursory view of her blood-stained annals is sufficient to demonstrate. She has fulfilled the predictions of the Apocalyptic vision, and is literally drunk with [17/18] the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. [* It is expressly asserted in the Tridentine Catechism, which is a standard of doctrine in the Church of Rome, that "Heretics and Schismatics, though they have deserted the Church, and belong to it only as deserters belong to an army, are, notwithstanding, under the power of the Church; may be summoned by her to trial, punished, and consigned to damnation." Catechismus ad parochos. Ed. Lugduni, 1569, p. 110. And in the theological lectures given at this day, in the College of Maynooth, in Ireland, the same sentiment is asserted, and the right claimed of punishing heretics, because a general has a right to punish the deserters from his army. See Dr. Marsh's Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome, p. 180.--Such principles accompanied by power must inevitably produce persecution.]
3. With regard to worship, it is impossible to unite with the Church of Rome, without forsaking that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and acting in direct contradiction to his commands. Her service is in Latin--a language unknown to the great body of professing Christians--and in it all the errors of her faith are incorporated, and rendered perpetual. There are constantly offered prayers to the Virgin and the Saints, and a reliance expressed in their merits, which is inconsistent with our belief in the merits of Christ Jesus.--To prove this, my brethren, it is necessary only to lay before you, a few examples taken from her liturgy. "O God, who bestowest on us the favour of celebrating the triumphs of blessed Saturninus, thy martyr: grant that [18/19] we may be assisted by his merits. Through our Lord." [* Festivals of November, 29th day.] "O God, who hast honoured the blessed Bishop Nicholas with innumerable miracles; grant, we beseech thee, that, through his merits and prayers, we may be delivered from the flames of hell. Through our Lord." [* Festivals of December, 6th day. St. Nicholas Bishop and Confessor.]
"I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, ever virgin, to blessed Michael the Arch-angel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints--that I have very much sinned in thought, word, and deed: Therefore, I beseech blessed Mary, ever virgin, blessed Michael the Arch-angel, blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints--to pray for me to our Lord God". [*Complin. Confession by the choir.] [* I cannot forbear adding from the English Mass Book, as quoted by Dr. Marsh, the following Collect for St. Scholastica. "O God, who to recommend to us innocence of life, wast pleased to let the soul of thy blessed Virgin Scholastica ascend to Heaven in the shape of a dove; grant, by her merits and prayers, that we may lead innocent lives here, and ascend to eternal joys hereafter." See Marsh's Compar. View, p. 35, 6. Note.]
With such prayers, my brethren, the liturgy of the Church of Rome abounds: and I am sure you will need [19/20] no other proof, that they who love the pure and undefiled religion of the Gospel, cannot unite in such worship.
4. And lastly; with regard to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ: the Church of Rome administers to the laity, only the bread, and not the wine, which is a manifest violation of our Saviour's command, "Drink ye all of this:" and contrary to St. Paul's injunction to the Corinthians, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." [* This denial of the cup to the laity, is founded not on any declaration of the Scriptures, but solely on the authority of the Church: To prove indeed, that it is lawful to administer the bread alone, the Tridentine Catechism quotes John vi. 51. "If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." But, supposing this passage to refer to the Sacrament, which, it will be observed„ was not then instituted, our Saviour says, in the 53d verse, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." On her own ground, therefore, the Church of Rome endangers the salvation of the laity by refusing them the cup. The Catechism says, that for many and weighty reasons, the Church has established this custom. These weighty reasons are, 1. That the blood of the Lord may not be spilt upon the ground; 2. That if the species of wine be kept for a long time, it might turn sour; 3. That many persons cannot bear the taste or smell of wine; 4. That in some places wine is very scarce and dear; and, 5. the strongest argument of all, That their heresy may be extirpated, who deny that the whole Christ is under each form. Catechismus ad parochos. Ed. Lugd. 1569, p. 267, 8. If the reader would know more on this subject, he may consult L'histoire: du Concile de Constance, par J. L'Enfant, Amsterd. 1727, 2 vols. 4to. vol. i.p. 246-275. Liv. ii. lxxii-lxxvi.]
The Church of Rome requires us to believe, that after consecration, the substance of bread and wine no longer exists; but that both are changed into the very body of Christ, which was born of the virgin, and [20/21] suffered and died on the cross; that the whole of Christ's body is contained in every portion which is eaten in every part of the world; [*Catech. ut supra, p. 249.] that our Saviour's body is, notwithstanding, perfect and entire in Heaven; [* Catech. ut supra, p. 250] and thus, that the same body which suffered on the cross, is, at the same time, in Heaven and upon earth, multiplied millions of times, and yet undiminished and undivided. Such is the doctrine of Transubstantiation; and every one who does not believe it, is, by a decree of the council of Trent, declared excommunicate, and delivered over to damnation. [*Dec. Trid. Syn. Catech, p. 250] The direct consequence of this doctrine is the adoration of the Host. The bread, having become, by consecration, the very body of Jesus, which was born of the virgin, which rose from the grave, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, is held up by the priest, that it may be worshipped by the people. Thus, my brethren, a piece of bread receives divine honours; and the humble votary "falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my God." [* Is. xliv. 17.]
 Is it asked then, Who are guilty of schism, the Protestants, or the Church of Rome? We answer, and it is under the solemn conviction, that we must render an account for this, as well as every other act, at the bar of God,--we answer firmly and deliberately: It is the Church of Rome. By requiring sinful terms of communion, she has violated the unity of the Christian Church; she has rent the body of Christ; and at her door, is to be laid much of that awful load of responsibility, which is attached to the divisions of the Christian world.
II. But, while we thus detect the guilt of a corrupt and degenerate portion of the Christian community, it becomes us, my brethren, to inquire, whether we are free from the same guilt. Let us then consider, what are the terms of communion among ourselves.
1. And first, with regard to doctrine. We have seen from the Scriptures that men are made members of the body of Christ by baptism. Our Church, in like manner; teaches that by baptism men are made "members of Christ, the children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Heaven." In confirmation, all persons ratify and confirm the promises made in baptism; and all who are thus confirmed, and live according to the tenor of the Gospel, are admitted to our communion. By knowing, then, the promises entered into in baptism, we know all that the Church requires of her members, as terms of communion. The only question with regard to doctrine, is this; "Dost thou believe all the articles [22/23] of the Christian faith, as contained in the Apostles' creed?" Whoever believes the doctrines contained in the Apostles' creed, may be admitted to our communion. This creed is a summary of the faith, which was formed at so early a period in the Church that all professing Christians agree in the use of it. It is received by the eastern Christians. It is received by the Greek Church. It is received by the Church of Rome. It is received by the Lutherans, the Calvinists, and the whole body of the Reformed. You perceive, then, my brethren, that all these various denominations of professing Christians, as far as it respects the essential articles of faith, may all meet in our Church, as in a centre common to them all. With a candour and moderation rarely to be found, our Church allows men to indulge in speculative opinions, provided they do not interfere with the great essentials of faith and practice. [* "I have joined myself," says Stubbe, "to the Church of England, not only upon account of its being publicly imposed, (which in things indifferent is no small consideration,) but because it is the least defining, and consequently the most comprehensive, and fitting to be national." D'Israeli Quar. of Au. vol. i. p. 205, 6. Note.] She demands from her clergy, indeed, an assent to the Thirty-nine Articles; but you will observe that no such assent is required of the laity. Those articles are chiefly designed, to guard against the errors of the Church of Rome. It is necessary, therefore, that she should take some security from her Clergy, the authorized teachers of Christian doctrine, that they will not lead their people into error: but it is not necessary, that the same caution should be observed with regard to the laity.
 2. This moderation, with regard to doctrine, is a pretty sure test that our Church is not wanting in charity towards those who differ from her.--It has been very injuriously and unjustly said, that we exclude from salvation all who are not Episcopalians. Such assertions, my brethren, must arise, either from ignorance, or from a design to rouse the passions and prejudices of men against us. You have seen, that, in conformity with the Scriptures, we consider all baptized persons as members of the Church or body of Christ; of course, we consider them as entitled to all the privileges resulting from that membership; and we accordingly admit all such to our communion, provided their lives, as far as we can judge, correspond with their profession.
We do not, it is true, acknowledge the validity of any ordination which is not conferred by the laying on of Episcopal hands: because we find, in every instance recorded in the Scripture history, that the power of ordination was exercised only by the Apostles; because we find, that in the primitive Church, none possessed this power but the Successors of the Apostles; because we find, that no other than Episcopal ordination was ever heard of in the Christian Church, till the sixteenth century, when Calvin, who was himself a layman, introduced a government of presbyters, and lay elders, at Geneva; and because we find, that this measure was defended by him and his immediate followers, only on the plea of necessity. But what connexion has the question of Episcopacy, with the church membership of the laity? There is an obvious and essential difference between being members of the Church, and being in the [24/25] communion of the Church. We believe, with the holy martyr Ignatius, the disciple of St. John, that every one who separates himself from the Bishops of the Catholic Church, separates from her communion. [* S. Ignatii Ep. ad Ephesios, Sec. v. Cotelerii patres Apostolici, vol. ii. p. 13. "Let no one be deceived. Unless a man be within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God; for if the prayer of one or two have so much efficacy, how much more, that of the Bishop and the whole Church?" See Sect. xx. of the same Epistle, and Ad Magnes. Sect. vii. Ad Trall. Sect. ii. "It is necessary, therefore, that you should do nothing, as indeed you do, without the Bishop." Ibid. Sec. vii. "He who is within the altar is pure: that is, He who does any act unconnected with the Bishop, presbyters, and deacons, has not a pure conscience." To be within the altar, evidently means to be in the communion of the Church; and the holy martyr expressly declares, that he is not within the altar, or in other words, in the communion of the Church, who performs any ecclesiastical act separate from her valid ministry. The testimony of Ignatius will appear the more important, when it is recollected, that he suffered martyrdom under Trojan, about the year 107 of the Christian era, not more than seven, or at the most eight years, after the death of his master, St. John; and that he was, then venerable for his years, as well as for his piety.]
But all baptized persons, even if they separate themselves from the Bishop, do not thereby forfeit their baptismal character, but are still members of the Christian Church. [* It was always the doctrine of the Church, founded on the Apostle's declaration, Eph. iv. 6. that the character produced by baptism is indelible. And hence, when persons who had been excommunicated were restored to the communion of the Church, according to the ancient discipline, they were not re-baptized, but only received absolution for their offences against the Church, and were re-admitted by the laying on of the Bishop's hands.] We do not ask by whom they have been baptized; for though baptism be irregularly [25/26] administered, as it always must be, when administered by lay-hands, [* See Hooker, Eccl. Pol. vol. 2d. p. 271-8.] yet, if the element of water, and the words prescribed by our Saviour be used, we presume not to affirm that it ought to be re-administered.
[* This reasoning is founded on the usage of the Church, and has no reference to the opinions of individuals. The fact is certain, that the Protestant Episcopal Church in America admits to her communion, persons who have received no other than lay-baptism, the persons so admitted being required only to ratify and confirm on their part the baptismal obligations, and to receive the ratification and confirmation of the divine promises, by the laying on of the hands of God's chief ministers. I believe the practice has been general to administer baptism to those only who have doubts as to the validity of their former baptism; and even in such cases, to use the hypothetical form, "If thou art not already baptized, I baptize thee, &c." In the Church of England, the same practice prevails; as is evident, 1. From the use of the burial office at the interment of persons who have been baptized by dissenting ministers, though the rubric requires that it shall not be used for any that die unbaptized; 2. From the confirmation of persons so baptized; and, 3. From the admission of such persons, not only to the communion, but also to the ministry of the Church. See Quarterly Review, vol. vii. p. 200. The judgment of Sir John Nicholl, L.L.D. &c.
It is contended, however, that the commission to baptize was given only to the Apostles, and that, as every commission excludes all to whom it is not given, laymen therefore can have no right to exercise the power thus conveyed. The premises are certainly true; but is the conclusion legitimate? If the apostles and their successors only have the right to baptize, whence proceeds the authority of presbyters and deacons to administer that sacrament? It will be replied, that in this as well as every other function, they act by a delegated power from their Bishop. And this position is certainly correct. The Bishops of the Catholic Church, as successors of the Apostles, are the only fountains on earth of ecclesiastical authority. They communicate different portions of this authority to the inferior degrees of the Christian ministry; to presbyters, the right of administering both the sacraments, preaching, and exercising discipline and jurisdiction over that portion of Christ's flock intrusted to their care; to deacons, the right to baptize in the absence of the presbyter, (See office for ordination of Deacons,) to preach by special license, during the pleasure of the Bishop, to instruct the Catechumens and to perform all those offices of charity and mercy for which the office was originally instituted. May not the Bishop then, as the fountain of power, extend to laymen also a still more circumscribed authority? May not he permit them, in cases of emergency, where there is no deacon or presbyter present, to administer baptism? This certainly was the view taken of this subject in the primitive Church. Tertullian expressly says, that presbyters and deacons have not a right to baptize independent of the Bishop, and that laymen also are empowered to administer it in the absence of the clergy, though he restricts the exercise of the right to cases of necessity. De Baptismo. cap. 17. Ed. Semleri, vol. iv. p. 203, 4.
But it may still be urged that admitting this principle, the right can extend only to such laymen as actually receive this authority from the Bishop, not to those who separate themselves from him, and act, not only independent of his authority, but also in opposition to it. To this we may answer, in the words of Hooker, "Are not many things firm being done, although in part done otherwise than positive rigour and strictness did require?" (Eccl. Pol. book v. vol. ii. p. 271. Oxf. ed. 3 vols. 8vo. 1793.) If the Bishop ratifies an act after it is performed, is it not, on the principle above laid down, as valid, as if he had previously given a commission for the purpose? But by administering confirmation, the Bishop does ratify this act. And this was the ground on which heretical and schismatical baptisms were acknowledged in the ancient Church to be valid. Thus the Council of Chalcedon, (the fourth of those called oecumenical,) requires, that children baptized by Heretics be brought to the communion of the Catholic Church; which pre-supposes confirmation by the Bishop; but if not already baptized, forbids them to receive baptism from heretics; (Can. xiv.) clearly recognizing the principle, that a baptism which ought not to be done, is, when done, not to be repeated.
There remains only one case more to be considered; and that is, where baptism has been administered by laymen in a state of schism, and has not been actually ratified by the act of confirmation. Even in this case the Church presumes not to say that lay-baptism is absolutely invalid; and she inclines to the side of mercy rather than of sacrifice. "Baptism," says the venerable and judicious Hooker, "being a favour which it pleaseth God to bestow, a benefit of soul to us that receive it, and a grace which they that deliver are but as were vessels, either appointed by others or offered of their own accord to this service; of which two, if they be the one, it is but their own honour; their own offence to be the other. Can it possibly stand with equity and right that the faultiness of their presumption in giving baptism should be able to prejudice us, who by taking baptism have no way offended?" "Whereas general and full consent of the godly learned in all ages doth make for the validity of baptism; yea, albeit, administered in private and even by women; which kind of baptism, in cases of necessity, divers reformed Churches do both allow and defend; some others which do not defend, tolerate; few in comparison, and they without any just cause, do utterly disannul and annihilate: surely, howsoever, through defect on either side, the sacrament may be without fruit, as well in some cases to him which receiveth, as to him which giveth it; yet no disability of either part can so far make it frustrate and without effect, as to deprive it of the very nature of true baptism, having all things else which the ordinance of Christ requireth. Whereupon, we may consequently infer, that the administration of this sacrament by private persons, be it lawful or unlawful, appeareth not as yet to be merely void." Eccles. Pol. book v. ut supra, vol. 2. p. 276, 283, 4.]
But what is more--so far from denying the possibility of their salvation, who receive lay-baptism, we do not even [26/27] presume to say that they will not be saved who receive no baptism at all. In the office for the baptism of adults, after repeating the words of our Saviour, that no man can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be born of water and of the Spirit, the Church adds, "Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this sacrament, [27/28] "where it may be had." Where it may not be had, the Churchpresumes not to say that it will be required.--With, that universal benevolence, which is the strongest line in the Christian character, she maintains that Christ died for all men, [* Art. xxxi. Prayer of Consecration, in com. serv. See Lawrence's Sermons, p. 320.] and, of course, that the terms of salvation are freely offered to all. "Almighty God," says our venerable reformer, Archbishop Cranmer, "without respect of persons, accepteth the oblation and sacrifice of priest and lay-person; of king and subject; of man and woman; of young and old; yea, of English, French, Scot, Greek, Latin, Jew, and Gentile; of every man according to his faithful and obedient heart unto him, and that through the sacrifice propitiatory of Jesus Christ's." [* Quoted by Lawrence, ut supra. p. 321.]
3. With regard to our worship, it is not necessary, my brethren, to prove what is generally acknowledged, that it is pure and scriptural. The most learned and pious ministers of the Reformed Churches on the continent of Europe, have spoken highly in praise of the English Liturgy; [* See Duren on the For. Churches, p. 184-198.] and Dr. Adam Clarke, a learned English dissenter, has lately said of it, that it is a "work almost universally esteemed by the devout and pious of every denomination." [* See Clarke's Commentary. Note to preface.] if, then, it be thus universally esteemed, it may be as universally used; and, consequently, can present no obstacle to the unity of the Church. Not only our Protestant brethren may join with us in offering the same worship, but also the members of the Romish communion, since the only objection they can maketo it, is not on account of what it contains, but of what it rejects. [* Paul IV. offered to permit the use of the English liturgy, if Queen Elizabeth would acknowledge his supremacy. See Courayer's Defence of Dissert. on Eng. Ord. vol. 2. p. 360, 1.]
 4. The same remark may be applied to our celebration of the Eucharist. The Communion service is taken from the purest and most ancient forms of prayer now existing; forms which were in use long before the corruptions of the Church of Rome had any being. But as those corruptions consisted in additions to the truth, however incomplete they may esteem our service, they cannot say that it contains any thing false and unscriptural. [* See Courayer's Dissert. on Eng. Ord. p. 192-197.] "It is certain," says one of their own writers, "that if the English be validly ordained, they consecrate as well as we, and that Christ becomes as truly present in the Eucharist, by the ministry of their priests as of ours, whatever opinions they may entertain of this presence. It is not the faith of the minister that effects the presence of Jesus Christ, but the power communicated to him by his ordination, in consequence of Christ's institution.--Now it has been proved that the English ordinations are valid. They consecrate, therefore, as validly as we do. Therefore Jesus Christ becomes present upon their altars as well as ours. Their ministry has the same efficacy; and, consequently, nothing hinders the offering of their liturgy from being a true sacrifice, in the very sense of the Catholic Church." [* Ibid. Defence of Dissert. vol. 2. p.133] These, my brethren, are the words of a priest of the Church of Rome; and they show you, that, even upon their own principles, the members of that communion cannot accuse us of requiring unlawful terms of communion. Our ritual has every thing essential, and our ordinations are valid--themselves being judges.
 Our Protestant brethren, on the other hand, may partake of our communion; since there is nothing required on our part, to which they may not, with a safe conscience, subscribe. It has been seen that we require, in point of doctrine, no other profession of belief than that contained in the Apostles' creed; in our liturgy, there is nothing superstitious or idolatrous;--and as for our priesthood, no one, who has ever attended to the subject, can doubt of its validity.
We are now then, prepared, my brethren, to answer the question--Who is guilty of rending the body of Christ, the Church of which we are members, or those who separate from her communion? We challenge investigation; we shun not the strictest inquiry; and if it be found, that we require no sinful terms of communion, we ask our brethren, How they can answer to God for creating a schism in the body?"
The case is very different on their side. If we turn to the Church of Rome, and ask her to admit us to the fellowship of Christians, she repels us, unless we believe doctrines inconsistent with the Scriptures, and practice an idolatry which is there expressly forbidden.
If we turn to our Protestant brethren, and ask them to admit us to the fellowship of Christians, they require us, as a condition, to believe in speculative doctrines, which, if true, are not essential; and to receive the Lord's supper from the hands of those, who, as we believe, have never received that commission for the administration of it, which alone can render it lawful and valid.
 Who, then, are the schismatics? Who, then, require unlawful terms of communion? But, my brethren, there is still another solemn question, which concerns, not only our fellow Christians who separate from us, but many of our own number.
You have seen that, wherever there is a want of Christian love, there is schism. What shall be said then of those within the pale of our Church, who nourish enmity within their hearts, and in whom the spirit of bitterness and ill-will prevails towards any of the sons of men?
You have seen that there is schism, wherever there is no assembling together for the purpose of public worship. What then shall be said of those, who, without any necessity, spend the Lord's day at home, or devote it to excursions of pleasure, instead of coming to the house of God?
You have seen that there is schism, wherever there is no union in the participation of the body and blood of Christ. What then shall be said of those multitudes who profess themselves Christians, and yet turn with indifference from the Lord's Table, and separate from their brethren who come to feed on the banquet of that most excellent food?"
Christians! Dearly beloved in the Lord!--If there are any here present who do thus, I beseech you to consider that you are thereby rending the body of Christ. It is the Divine Spirit himself, who, in his holy word, assures you of this truth. O, let not this sin be any longer laid to your charge.--You, who indulge an implacable and bitter spirit; you, who are insensible to the joys [32/33] and sorrows of your brethren; you, who never open wide the hand of tender charity; learn of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, who constantly went about doing good, in whose mouth there was no guile, and in whose spirit there was no revenge.--You, who neglect the public worship of the sanctuary, and so far from longing to enter the courts of your God, embrace every frivolous pretext to avoid it; reflect whether God will bless you, if you despise his institutions, and slight his commands.--You, who are constantly "bidden to the supper and yet refuse to come; consider with yourselves, how great is your ingratitude to God, and how sore punishment hangeth over your heads for the same." Consider that you will soon be called to render an account for the deeds' done in the body; and that the sins which will then weigh heaviest upon the soul will be those of neglect and omission. "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.--"But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." [* Luke xii. 47, 48.]
My Brethren of the Laity, who are Members of this Convention, you will not, I hope, consider me as overstepping the line of duty, or swerving from the proper exercise of my office, if I presume to remind you, that [33/34] in the appeal which has now been made to the serious reflection of my hearers, you are peculiarly interested. In addition to that responsibility which every Christian, and every member of this Apostolic portion of Christ's Church should feel, you must add the selection of your persons as the representatives of your several parishes. As Members of this Convention, the eyes of the whole Diocese are upon you; your conduct has become important, in proportion as it has been rendered conspicuous; and the ties are peculiarly strong, by which you are bound to promote the Unity of the Church. You have seen that for this purpose, not only a belief of Apostolic doctrine, and a union in the ordinary worship of the Church,are necessary, but also the communications of Christian love, and the participation of the body and blood of your Redeemer. Let us suppose, what we would willingly believe, that your souls are adorned with the lustre of that Heaven-born charity "which suffereth long and is kind, which seeketh not her own, which thinketh no evil, and doth not behave itself unseemly." [* 1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5.] But, my Brethren, can it be said of you all, as it was said of the primitive disciples, that you continue with one accord steadfast in the breaking of bread--in the highest and most solemn act of Christian worship--the celebration of the Lord's Supper? Do you, in addition to your duty as individuals, feel the responsibility you are under, as the representatives of the Church, to sanction her claims upon her members, by the influence of your example? That influence may be more extensive than you imagine. If it be wrong, you [34/35] know not how many souls it may attract from the line of duty. You know not how many voices may hereafter accuse you at the bar of God, of having caused them to err by the force of corrupt example. Let it not, I beseech you, be said of any Member of this Convention, that "he wilfully abstains from the Lord's Table, and separates from his Brethren, who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food."
As for us, my brethren of the clergy, it would seem almost a paradox, in the ordinary acceptation of the word schism, to intimate that we may be guilty of that sin. We are all, I humbly trust, believers of Apostolic doctrine; and I would charitably hope, that we all endeavour to show forth, not only with our lips, but also in our lives, that we are the disciples of Christ. From the very nature of our office, we all continue steadfast in the ordinary worship of the sanctuary, and in the commemoration of the love of our dying Redeemer. There is fear then of our rending the body of Christ only in one way, and that is, by a departure from that love of our brethren, or Christian fellowship, which, as we have seen, constitutes an essential ingredient in the Unity of the Church. Like the army of Gideon who bore their lamps concealed by pitchers, we have our treasure in earthen vessels. The infirmities of the man often obscure the brightness of the office; and we have need of all the charity of our lay brethren, and all the kind helps and consolations of one another, to bear our accumulated burthens.
 Our intercourse with that portion of the flock of Christ committed to the charge of each of us, though it may sometimes, yet I would hope, does but rarely, admit of any circumstance which can endanger the loss or suspension of Christian love. The interest which we feel for those who are thus solemnly intrusted to our care produces in our breasts, an attachment to their persons, and a solicitude for their welfare, which must, except in extraordinary circumstances, lull to rest every angry emotion, and dispose us to gentleness and peace. We may have cause to lament the perverseness of some, and the lukewarmness of others; but it is a feeling which should partake more of pity than resentment, and may therefore be only a modification of Christian love.
There is more danger of an acrimonious spirit arising from the collisions, to which we are sometimes exposed with those who dissent from our communion. Here then we must be indeed watchful over ourselves. We must remember that if we wish to remove their prejudices, it must be done by the influence of superior learning, and stronger arguments, not by the corruscations of wit, or the repulsive shafts of malevolence. Whatever animosity may rankle in their breasts, let it not, oh! let it not, be transferred to ours. Our Church, my brethren, stands upon such elevated ground, that her atmosphere should be always pure, and her sky always serene. We must descend, if we suffer ourselves to be affected by the noxious exhalations of party spirit; and we ought to look down with pity upon those who are agitated in the storms below.
 As to our personal intercourse, we are from necessity so divided, that we seldom have opportunity to create impressions upon each other, either of fondness or aversion. It is one of the beneficial effects of thus annually meeting in convention, that, by promoting social intercourse among the clergy, it is subservient to the increase of Christian union.--Let us then, my brethren, snatch the fleeting opportunity. Let us remember that it is the only occasion in a whole year on which we can reciprocate kind offices.--Let us remember that we have not time to be discordant.--Let us not part, without feeling that our love for our brethren is strengthened. Let us not part, without feeling that we have been rendered more firm by mutual support.--That there will be differences of opinion among us, is to be expected. Such varieties are common to all deliberative assemblies; and the constitution of our nature renders them necessary: for it is only by such discordance that truth can be perfectly elicited. Perish the hand that would destroy that manly independence of sentiment which will always stand erect in the presence of arbitrary authority, and will never bow but to the influence of right reason and persuasive argument.
As long as there is no base and cunning intrigue; no arts to sow dissention; no malevolence of party; no excitement of improper hopes and fears: As long as all things are conducted with that open integrity which seeks what is right, and that amiable charity which does not suspect evil; so long will Jerusalem be at unity in itself, and peace be a constant inmate within the walls of our spiritual Zion.FINIS