Project Canterbury








ST. BARNABAS' DAY, JUNE 11, A. D. 1901

By The Rev. J. J. McCOOK, D.D.

Rector of St. John’s, East Hartford, and Professor in Trinity College






Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012


We may be allowed to question whether there has ever been a time when the literal fulfilment of this promise would have met with universal welcome. Prophesying has never been a gainful pursuit, and from Joseph's Day until our own "Behold this dreamer cometh" has practically meant:—"Let us slay him." [Gen. xxxvii. 19, 20.]

Nevertheless what Joel predicts is good; and what Solomon asserts is true: "Where there is no vision the people perish." [Prov. xxix. 18.]

For what is Vision? In its very lowest meaning it is man refusing to be a mere machine—an unchangeable part of an unchangeable system:—it is man persisting in knowing whether things are right, or whether they might not be better; it is man seeking the loftier, larger, deeper view; forming, nursing, clinging to an Ideal, struggling to have it realized, and never taking No for an answer from an unsympathetic, gainsaying world. As such it is mistaken sometimes, unlovely, fanatical often, hard and even cruel now and then, but it is indispensable to human progress. Its most contemptuous critics are frequently its most eminent illustrations. "Nothing but Ideologues" [See Memoires de Gregoire, ancien eveque de Blois: Notice historique par M. H. Carnot, Vol. I, pp. 135, 138. "Cette conduite donnait a Napoleon de frequens accès d'humeur; il s'exprimait alors aigrement sur le compte de l’ancien Evêque de Blois, qu'il plaçait dans sa categorie des ideologues, nom devenu presque synonyme dans sa bouche de celui d'amis des idées libérales." Gregoire spoke and voted steadily against all of Buonaparte's successive moves towards absolutism, and refused even to be present, with his fellow Senators, at the state marriage with Marie Louise. When Napoleon coerced the Pope into retaining a dozen of the Constitutional bishops, under the Concordat, he took care not to nominate the sturdy bishop of Blois among the number!] was the impatient phrase with which the greatest idealist of his age dismissed the [3/4] little band of Frenchmen, whose only fault was that they remained faithful to the cause he had abandoned. And "visionary," "doctrinaire" is the nickname which politicians and newspaper controversialists nowadays fling at the men whose misfortune it is to object to their own pet doctrine and vision.

In this lowest sense of the word, then, Vision is good.

But it has a higher meaning and application. Vision is man rising above the conditions of this lower life, its work, worry, care, suffering its joy, gain, hopes, ambitions; its temptation and sin; its dark and uncertain paths, until his eye meets the eye of God, hears His voice, comes in contact with that Life so full of energy and of patience; it is God meeting man in his ascent, quietly revealing to him with the way of duty, its rewards, bestowing a glimpse of the Land of Promise, unveiling for an instant the worship of heaven and the rest of the Saints:—it is man returning from his excursion, cheered, calmed, steadied, strengthened, unconquerable. And if the other kind of Vision is good this is still better, since it gives the highest, broadest view of all and speaks to man's immortal part.

Moreover it is good for all, and not merely for the few. The sons and daughters are all to boil [Prophesying in Hebrew means: to boil.] with fervor. The aged are to have the gift of youthful dreams [The Hebrew word seems to hint at dreams which age, under normal conditions, has outlived.] and the young are to have the serious visions of age. And all this is to be in our day, now, in the times of the new Judaism, our own times—in the Church of Jesus Christ.

For it is the great Idealistic Institution. If that were its only quality it would have amply justified its Divine creation—its invention, even, if it had not been divinely created for its whole history, from the Catacombs to the empire of the world, shows it to be the incomparable embellisher of human life, communicating to it just those qualities—now of strength, now of softness, always of dignity, which Life most requires, and which Life apart from it is least likely to receive.

Let us follow this idealizing work in some of its details. Let us see what it has done, what still is left to be done by it. [4/5] For such an inquiry, with its revelations and admonitions, there could be no better time than now—the beginning of a century; nor occasion than this—your solemn assemblage, fathers and brethren, first to pray, with Sacrifice, then to plan with diligence for the prosperity of this little unit, so important to us, in that great company of the faithful, so dear to God.

And with what should we begin but with that first element in Church and State, the Family? We cheerfully recognize the civil and purely legal aspects of the marriage contract, and could find no valid fault were the State, for her own satisfaction, to require here, as is done in some countries, a preliminary ceremony by a civil magistrate. The license taken out here is a substantial equivalent for that, and we may be justly proud that the State places in the hands of ministers of religion the serious responsibility of actually solemnizing and certifying the union on which, for her, so much depends. And since we are free to marry, or to refuse to marry, those who present themselves with a license, surely it becomes us to free our minds from all bias of personal gain or convenience and to bring to the resolution of each case due appreciation of the Church's ideal. And where has that ideal been more beautifully pictured than in Tertullian's letter to his wife: [Tertulliani ad Vxorem liber secundus, Cap. IX. The translation is that of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Vol. X, pp. 202, 3.] "Whence are we to find words enough fully to tell the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction signs and seals; angels carry back the news of it to heaven, the Father holds it for ratified. Both are brethren, both fellow-servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts. Equally are they both found in the church of God: equally at the banquet of God. Neither hides aught from the other. No stealthy signing, ["It being usual in those times to sign themselves upon the forehead in the commonest actions of their lives, 'upon every motion,' as Tertullian expresses it, 'at their going out and coming in, at their going to bath, or to bed, or to meals, or whatever their employment or occasions called them to.'" v. Tertullian, de Corona Militis, Cap. 3 Ad omnem progressum atque promotum, ad omnem aditum et exitum, ad vestitum, ad calceatum, ad lavacra, ad mensas, ad lumina, ad cubilia, ad sedilia, quaecunque nos conversatio exercet, frontem crucis signaculo tenemus.—Bingham, Antiquities of the Christian Church: Book XI, Chap. ix, Sec. 5.] no trembling greeting, no mute [5/6] benediction. Between the two echo psalms and hymns; and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. Such things, when Christ sees and hears, he joys. To these he sends His own peace."

It is the: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," [2 Cor. vi. 14.] in the dress of poetry—enchanting vision of Christian genius! If it only could be illustrated wherever there is a Christian marriage! If it could only be exhibited to the world wherever there is a Christian family! If it could only be seen in that larger family, the parish, with gossip and bickerings and divisions about trivialities banished; with kindliness and unselfishness reigning supreme; with pastor and members and office-bearers of whom, without exception, the community should be obliged to bear that highest of all testimony—the distinction even of a Saint: "A good man and full of the Holy Ghost!" [St. Barnabas, today's Saint; Acts xi. 24.]

And now what shall we say of this matter of family devotion? Here it is standing out of the days not all too long after St. John the Divine fell asleep. [Tertullian, born A.D. 160.] It is a survival from man's first relations to God—the patriarchal; and there is no evidence that it has ever been displaced. And yet I greatly fear it is steadily disappearing. Twenty years ago, in one of our oldest colleges, an inquiry, made by its president with the view of ascertaining "how much support morning prayers at college had in the habits of the families from which the students came," showed that only 211 out of 741 families represented, had prayers—about two-sevenths. And on this exhibit obligatory daily prayers in that college were given up! [There is still a carefully conducted daily service for voluntary attendance.] And to us who then, as now, were represented in that institution by a larger number of students than can be found in the aggregate of any two or three of our "church" colleges, it may be a matter of "surprise," as I am informed it was to the Unitarian investigator, "to find that the practice was more observed in Unitarian families than in those of other denominations."

[Letter from Dean J. H. Wright, head of the graduate department of Harvard University. "President Eliot . . . said he well remembered the correspondence on the subject. The excuses that were made by many heads [6/7] of families for discontinuing, or for not holding family prayers were interesting," These excuses, as given in Dr. Eliot's original report (1880-1881, pp. 18, 19), an extract from which was kindly furnished by Professor Wright, included "residence in the suburbs and the necessity for catching early trains for the city, the growing up of all the children and their departure from home, the presence of invalids in the family, and the different religious opinions and practices of masters and servants . . . Nine persons who answered "Yes" expressed the desire, nevertheless, that attendance at College prayers should be voluntary, and thirty-six of those who answered "No" expressed the desire that attendance should be compulsory."

I regret that I am not able to say definitely just how matters stand there now, but Professor Peabody [The Rev. Professor Francis G. Peabody, under date of June 3, 1901] informs me that he thinks "it has much declined" and that although "many homes of the old Unitarian type still retain the tradition, he (I) should think that it was an unusual custom in what we may call the modernized American home." "I observe the situation," he adds, "with regret; and I am sure that in my own home and in others where the custom is maintained, it still has a tranquilizing and strengthening quality."

A voice of similar seriousness comes to me from another institution of wide influence. [The Rev. Anson Phelps Stokes, Jr., Secretary of Yale Corporation, under date of May 31, 1901. Regretting his inability to give the desired statistics, he adds: "I feel myself very strongly the need of emphasizing the two matters" (family prayers and grace at meat). "In fact I preached a sermon on the subject only a few weeks ago."]

What are the facts in our own midst? An inquiry made in a gathering of 48 youths of one of our most zealous devotional and practical societies [Junior St. Andrew's; State Convention, Christ Church, Hartford, June 2, 1901.] showed almost exactly two-sevenths accustomed to family prayers at home and about half as many to grace at meat—13 and 7 respectively. At one school, definitely under our auspices, less than a fifth were used to family prayers and half as many more to grace—13 and 21 respectively. At another educational institution, out of 94 answers received, there were again about a fifth accustomed to family prayers and hardly more than twice as many to grace at meat—20 and 49 respectively. [The Class percentages are as follows: Family Prayer and Grace at Meat: Seniors (4.55, 40.9), Juniors (24, 44), Sophomores (25, 58.3), and Freshmen (30.4, 65.2) ]

This number, [7/8] I am obliged to say, did not include all the members of clergymen's families, though the proportion was certainly greater among them than among laymen.

It is to be feared that the custom is declining among us, too; and I certainly join in Professor Peabody's expression of regret and concern. If we really mean what we say for ourselves in the Holy Communion service, and what we do for our children at their baptism; if we really believe the soul to be of more consequence than the body, eternity than time; if we really prefer above all that those dear to us should grow up high-minded, conscientious citizens of both the earthly and the heavenly kingdom—then here seems to be one way of contributing to that result. If, on the other hand, we care chiefly that they should think and plan and jostle in the selfish struggle for riches and station, and other things styled "vanities" by us—then we might fairly wonder whether we are not pursuing the course best adapted to that end.

Nor let us fail to note the value of grace at meat, the wide spread omission of which is brought out in connection with the other inquiry. Here the family meal is elevated to a dignity all but sacramental. No place now for the squalor and slovenliness of mere brutish feeding! No room henceforth for the proud wastefulness of intemperate and luxurious banqueting! Under its consecrating spell the common meal becomes the domestic Agape—the modest feast of home love, bringing with it contentment and quiet cheer and words and offices of mutual helpfulness, shadowing in no dim way the Supper of the Lamb, as we know it on earth—as we look for it in Heaven. And all this possible to the least gifted, to the most hurried!

To this matter of family devotion I should attach early Confirmation, early Communion, regular church-going from the very earliest age. Children should not be an annoyance in church—are not, when congregations are rightly trained. And no Sunday-school, however good, can possibly be a church, or take the place of one. Moreover, Sunday-schools entirely fail of their aim when they fail to prepare specifically for early Confirmation. How early I should not dare to say. But the only restriction known to our law is that "the child" shall be able "to say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments, and is sufficiently instructed in the [8/9] other parts of the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose"; [Exhortation after Baptism Prayer Book, p. 251.] and that he shall have "come to a competent age," [Rubric at end of Catechism: Prayer Books p. 272.] or "years of discretion." [Confirmation Office: Prayer Book, p. 273.]—that is to say, shall know right from wrong. The former of these requirements, the intellectual, can be satisfied, as I may personally certify, as early as six; the latter, if judicial pronouncements respecting the admissibility of child-testimony be considered decisive, not much later. But at all events there is no hard and fast line anywhere to be found; and we may be glad that such has been the ruling in this Diocese from time immemorial. It has been, and still is, thank God, "Suffer the little children to come"; [St. Mark, x. 14.] and "Ye are to take care that this child be brought to be confirmed" [Baptismal Office, Prayer Book, p. 256; Catechism, rubric at end; Prayer Book, p. 272.]—not: Wait until he is fourteen, or until he is irresistibly impelled to come!

And the same holds of first Communion. It has always seemed to me that, without early communion the Baptists had decidedly the best of the argument with us. And we can not ignore the early interpretations given, and the practical interpretation still insisted on in the whole Oriental Church, to our Lord's dictum: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood ye have no life in you."

[St. John vi. 53. Parish priests in the Eastern Church have from time immemorial been delegated to administer Confirmation to infants directly after their baptism and this is followed in all cases by administration of the Holy Communion, since they regard it, no less than Baptism, as "generally necessary to salvation." See Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church, Book xv, Cap. iv, Sec. 7. It is beyond dispute that as she (i, e. the Church) baptized infants, and gave them the unction of chrism with imposition of hands for confirmation, so she immediately admitted them to a participation of the Eucharist, as soon as they were baptized, and ever after without exception. St. Austin not only mentions the practice in Cyprian's time (circ. A, D. 200-258), but also seems to say it was necessary for infants in order to obtain eternal life grounding upon that saying of our Savior, John vi, 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you'; 'which,' he says, 'is to be understood not of the sacrament of baptism, but of the Lord's table, where no one is rightly admitted but he that is baptized. And dare any one be so bold as to say, that this sentence does not appertain to little children, or that they [9/10] can have life without partaking of this body and blood?' [Dominum audiamus non quidem hoc de Sacramento sancti lavacri dicentem, sed de Sacramento sanctae mensae suae, quo nemo rite nisi baptizatus accedit: Nisi manducaveritis carnem meam &c. An vero quisquam audebit etiam hoc dicere, quod ad parvulos haec sententia non pertineat, possuntque sine participatione corporis hujus et sanguinis in se habere vitam? Aug. de Peccator. Merit., lib. I, Cap. 20.] "And it were absurd to think that the whole primitive Church, Greek and Latin, from S. Cyprian's time, should give the Communion to infants without imagining any manner of necessity from any Divine command to do it . . . But to set aside the question of right and only pursue matter of fact, we find that this custom continued even in the Roman church for many ages: Maldonatus says for six centuries, but Bona makes it double the number; for he says it was not abrogated in France till the twelfth century."

[10] Day by day, then, at the family altar let us give ourselves and offer to our children the calm, transforming vision; and again at the altar of the Church, on the Lord's day and by feast and fast! It will keep old ideals bright; throw new light on new tasks; as a great, strong governor it will steady the machinery of the soul and the life. Granted that it may fade—as everything mortal does—but the life will be less hopelessly groveling for that one bright ray. And to the family, reared under these and like influences born of religion and of love, there will be no distance, no separation, no death. Sacred memories, starting up at every turn, will bind its members, with knots that can never give nor break, to one another and to the Two imperishable Homes.

And now they are leaving us, those sons and daughters, for their higher education: is it of no consequence whether, by our choice of school or college,—or our sanction of their choice—the vision of childhood days shall be fostered, or imperiled?

It is not deliberate hostility to Religion, or to their religion, that is here apprehended, for that will rarely be encountered: it is the change of soil and atmosphere and sky, with the almost inevitable drooping and shriveling of the plant. Souls used to these same surroundings may flourish, but there is great risk lest the transplanted soul perish. The Congregational, or Baptist, or Unitarian youth may keep his religion and be blest by it in an educational institution where the chapel service and the general religious machinery is such as he has been accustomed to: the youth brought up in our church, on the contrary, will find here but little that he can [10/11] assimilate, and his declension may readily be the more sure for the very efficiency of the helps which his childhood has enjoyed. This may be regrettable, but it is philosophical—and what is of more consequence, in spite of eminent exceptions it seems to be fact.

What shall be done then? If there is no other way, take the risk and make the best of it! But there must be some other way. The Church that, until yesterday, has educated the English nation, can surely educate her fair share of the American nation. The Church that furnished a founder [Elihu Yale.] for the largest of Congregational institutions of learning here, and has since been its greatest single benefactor, [The founder of the Sheffield Scientific School and the donor of Vanderbilt Hall were both members of our Church.] can, if her children will, elevate to commanding positions of wealth and strength and influence its own existing foundations. Or, if there be none in existence worthy of its confidence and love, which, I, for one, will not admit, then in God's name, let us begin one! Far too soon, in the rush of hostile life, will the visions of childhood tend to fade, and ideals and motives to sink; but at least, during the plastic period of youth, while the elements that tend most to crystallize in mind and purpose are seething in the pot, let us save the integrity of the soul vision! Learning must and will be free. The highest science and the best art in imparting it must be sought without exclusive regard to church affiliations:—But let the atmosphere of home and parish be perpetuated! Let the daily service still speak to the youthful heart of the miraculous Virgin Birth, and the heavenly guiding of the Magi, and the awful conflict of the Son of God in the wilderness, and His fruitful agony upon the cross—each in its appointed season, and with the old, familiar accompaniment of chant and collect and hymn and Scripture lection! And let the history of religion have its due place in the scheme of learning, as something which every educated gentleman should know, with position of unhesitating dignity given the religion conceded to be the most influential of all—Christianity!—This without supercilious criticism of others religion and in the mere spirit of loyalty to our own.

And while we thus seek to appraise the dangers which [11/12] Christian children, issuing forth from Christian homes, may encounter even in the most sheltered spots of life, let us think with pity, Christians, of that mournful procession that files ceaselessly through our police courts, into our jails and prisons—and out, and in again; young in years, old in evildoing; with faces that can laugh but not smile, that are seamed with care but ignorant of innocent weeping. Out of sixty-six hundred incarcerated at the Concord, Massachusetts, reformatory, two-fifths, 41.7 per cent, had been practically homeless from soon after fourteen. The homes of half of them, 49 per cent, had been "positively bad," according to their own probably partial description, with drunkenness traceable more or less distinctly in nearly half of the parents. [Clearly traced in 2,490 cases; less clearly in 806 more.] Two-fifths of them had been brought up virtually illiterate—2,748 out of 6,639. In a similar institution in Pennsylvania, one parent or the other was described as being a "moderate drinker," or intemperate—the former term, I fear euphemistic—in three-fifths of the cases—319 out of 568;—and father and mother were practically without education in 95 out of every 100 cases.

These children, without a home and without a childhood, familiar with vice in advance of puberty, drunkards before their majority, are here too, in our dear Connecticut. At the time of my last inquiry, in 1895, there were 474 commitments of males under twenty-one to the jail, and 42 to the State prison; while, between the ages of sixteen and thirty there were in the prison two hundred and thirty-one individuals.

Pity these poor homeless, hapless waifs. Look at your own happy children and then think of them—and do for them what successful philanthropy in other states has done. Philanthropy, did I say? Let me also say enlightened self-interest. Wisdom is here cheaper, by more than half, than unwisdom. [The net per caput weekly cost of maintenance in the four reformatories, Elmira, N. Y.; Concord, Mass.; Huntington, Pa. and St. Cloud, Minn., in 1896, was $2.93, against $4.01 in our Connecticut jails. In the former the cost ranged from $2.56 to $6.01; in the latter from $2.19 to $7.18. But three of the reformatories report "cures" in from 60 to 83 per cent of their inmates while out of 17,118 Connecticut jail commitments in 1895 and 1896—of which 1,209 were under twenty-one—10,191, or three-fifths, were recommitments. And no one seems to think jail life conducive to [12/13] reform, while the highest estimate of cures in our state prison is thirty per cent. See Report Directors Connecticut Reformatory, 1896-7, pp. 10-15, with Tables III and IX. The value of life and character saved can hardly be estimated. For an attempt to count the cost of crime, see Report of Hartford  Committee on Out Door Alms, 1891; and The Cost of Crime, Eugene Smith, Washington Government Printing Office, 1901.] One-half of what we have voted for improved roads the next two years, and the work is "half done" since it is "well begun." Something of the kind was in the dreams of our old men in 1650 and 1702 and 1715, [They passed enactments which were virtual anticipations of the modern reformatory and indeterminate sentence. See Report of Hartford Committee, 1891, Appendix, pp. 39-42.] and the vision has appeared to us for a moment only to vanish. [The Act of 1895, establishing a reformatory in Connecticut, was repealed in 1897 and has not yet been reenacted.] When will it come to tarry?

And as I call up these visions of remedy may I not invoke still others, more necessary, if more elusive, of prevention? And what single item of prevention begins to equal in importance that of stamping out the insanity of alcoholism? In that one phrase, insanity of alcoholism, as I venture to believe, the whole question, which in its religious aspect is Sin, is stated: in its economical aspects. It is insanity; and it is safe to say that were there any other form of insanity as widespread, as damaging to homes and states, to soul, body and substance, and at the same time so definitely traceable to one single cause, and that a tangible one, visions and dreams would not cease until the remedy had been applied. I am not that bold man who will propose a specific remedy, though I believe it will be found somewhere along the lines of removing from the retailer all motive of personal profit in the business; but if this should fail and it should come to be a question between the loss of liberty to drink temperately on the one hand, and on the other the fearful woe and waste and wreckage, corruption of manners and character and politics, destruction of body and soul in this present Gehenna of fire, then what lover of his kind and of his church and country would hesitate which to choose? [For cost of drink, see Hartford Report on Out Door Alms; The Drink Business—a business talk; Case, Lockwood & Brainard, Hartford; Cost of Crime, Eugene Smith, Bureau of Labor.]

And as we look for further vision, what more lovely than that of peace?

[14] Peace in the world. Who can fitly describe the horrors of war? Even we who have seen it pass thrice over our country, who have borne its burdens as soldiers, or as members of soldiers' families, or as citizens and tax-payers, are helpless before such a task. And must all this murder and arson and demoralization and ruin go on forever? Is that vision really too fantastic which sees the wars of nations relegated to the limbo of border raids, and robber barons, and single combat? Why should it be thought a profitable and reasonable thing to keep the peace between quarreling individuals by an exhibition of public force which neither is able to resist, and be thought a thing impracticable to do the same as between quarreling aggregations of individuals called nations? The century has seen the creation and employment of an international police force to put down a revolt against civilization in China, and, however awkward and unideal its methods and partial its successes, does it not at least display to our waiting eyes the line of least resistance in this difficult endeavor? Verily, I believe the century will not have closed without some practicable materialization of the dear dream.

And peace in the Church:—It has already begun to dawn, thank God! Within our own borders there is a loftiness and breadth of vision among the young, a sympathetic wisdom in the dreams of the old, an intense interest in the practical working out of theories of worship and work on the part of both; heads in the clouds of heaven and feet firmly planted on the earth,—true attitude of the genuine idealist—which has slight patience with the bickerings and prosecutions and ostracisms of other days. We have learned a few things. When the zealous "Protestant" comes to realize that his pet "presbyter" is nothing but "priest writ large,' as old Milton remarked,

[The citation, obligingly looked up for me by Mr. Canton, Librarian of Trinity College, is from Milton's "New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament:

"But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
Your plots and packing worse than those of Trent,
That so the Parliament
May, with their wholesome and preventive shears,
Clip your phylacteries, though bank (i.e. spare) your ears,
And succor our just fears,
When they shall read this clearly in your charge,
New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large."

[14/15] The same idea appears in the Areopagitica: "Bishops and Presbyters are the same to us both in name and thing." Milton and his friends liked presbytery as little as prelacy:—more could not be said!—but his etymology is correct—See the French pretre and the old English prester.]

and his equally zealous "Catholic" neighbor across the Street perceives that the converse is true, and they both take in the fact that presbyter is the official title of the office in the "holy Roman and Apostolic Church," and that "Priest So and So" was the popular and always respectful appellation of the Congregational pastor in all the New England countryside within the memory of middle-aged men, there is a fair chance that fury respecting that and similar shibboleths may be abated. And when one finds a French bishop [The late Bishop Dupanloup, of Orleans, I think.] urging his clergy to repeat the ten commandments to their flock Sunday forenoons at Mass, it tends to make some of us more tolerant of that striking innovation in the Anglican liturgy. And when one remarks how securely planted the doctrine of the Trinity is here, without the Athanasian Creed, one realizes how far changes may go even in a seemingly perilous direction without doing a fraction of the predicted damage—sometimes even with actual advantage; so ignorant and short-sighted is poor mortal man!

These are small but significant facts, and starting from them may we not in our visions see more and further development, accommodation, change, all in the direction of practical improvement?

And when we come to think of it, why should an Organization, which owes its present form and status largely to freedom of vision and prophesy three centuries ago, feel pledged to maintain intact the conclusions of that generation, any more than that generation felt obliged to maintain the conclusions of three or of six centuries before its time? To take a single point: If reservation of the Holy Communion for the sick was dropped then, in the presence of certain supposed abuses and in the then prevailing ignorance of hygiene and the laws of infection, why should it necessarily be disused now, when hygiene is understood and superstition is of the unlikeliest?

[Reservation for the Sick was provided for in our first vernacular Prayer Book—the First of Edward VI. Respecting the primitive custom [15/16] see Bingham, Antiquities, Book xv, Sect. 10: "Sometimes indeed they used private consecrations of the Eucharist in the houses of sick men or in prisons, . . . but most commonly they reserved some small portion of it in the Church from time to time, for this use, as most expeditious and convenient for sudden accidents and emergencies. There are very ancient instances and examples of both kinds." Sometimes the reservation was in the clergyman's "own house"—Sect. 11. Sometimes "religious persons" "were permitted to carry a portion of it home with them and participate of it every day by themselves in private"—a custom which "seems to owe its original to times of persecution"—Sect. 13.

It is now expressly permitted in all parts of the historic Church, except the Anglican, where it has been disused, save in exceptional cases for three hundred and fifty years. It is worth noticing that there has been no such devotional development, in connection with it, in the Oriental Church as in the Roman. The place of reservation is what we would call the Vestry and, as far as I have noticed, its presence is not especially distinguished or remarked there, and it is regarded chiefly, if not purely, from the utilitarian standpoint.]

Or, when every prison directorate cheerfully provides that its wards shall have the opportunity to open their spiritual griefs to the spiritual physician of their choice, why should the use of a similar liberty not be gladly allowed among the inmates of that great half-hospital, half-reformatory that we call the Church?

In all such matters the key of the situation is this: The clergy and the laity must keep the Law. But law is a growth, whereby some things will fall into disuse and so die; and other things will come into use and so live and presently attain the status of law. And if the clergy and laity trust one another and the Church trusts them both, the question of what is and what is not law will settle itself without serious breach of the peace.

And with growing peace among ourselves what shall the Vision tell us of the Holy Church throughout all the world? What but that, according to the shrewd prediction of that staunch Roman Catholic, De Maistre, our Anglican Communion shall one day be permitted to act as a chemical intermediary bringing together and combining elements otherwise irreconcilably hostile. For it is a fact that we understand [16/17] Protestant  and Catholic as neither understands the other. And although, as is quite natural, we may for the moment be the object of special suspicion and dislike to both, that can not last forever.

[The whole passage is worth quoting. The author, under the heading of "Guesses respecting the ways of Providence in the French Revolution," alludes to the extensive emigration of bishops and clergymen to England as likely to diminish hatred and prejudice:

"Surement, on aura prononcé des paroles de paix! Surement on aura formé des projets de rapprochements pendant cette reunion extraordinaire! Quand on n'aurait fait que desirer ensemble, ce serait beaucoup. Si jamais les chrétiens se rapprochent, comme tout les y invite, il semble que la motion doit partir de l'eglise d'Angleterre. Le presbyterianisme fut une oeuvre française, et par consequent une oeuvre exageree. Nous sommes trop eloignés des sectateurs d'un culte trop peu substantiel: il n'y a pas moyen de nous entendre. Mais l'église anglicane, qui nous touche d'une main, touche de l'autre ceux que nous ne pouvons toucher; et quoique, sous un certain point de vue, elle soit en butte aux coups des deux partis, et qu'elle presente le spectacle un peu ridicule d'un révolte qui prêche l'obeissance, cependant elle est trés précieuse sous d'autres aspects, et peut être considérée comme un de ces intermedes chimiques, capable de rapprocher des eléments inassociables de leur nature."—Considerations sur la France p. 27; par M. le Cte Jph De Maistre: Lyon, 1845.]

[17] And so where shall our vision of youth, our dream of old age end but with Jerusalem, vision of Peace, City of God, coming down from God out of heaven. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Even so, come, Lord Jesus—for thou art the Vision of our youth, the dream of our old age, our final, our only sure Hope! [Rev. xxi. 3, 4.]

Project Canterbury