The Liberty of the Children of God: A Sermon before the Students of the Gen. Theological Seminary, New York, on the Sunday after Ascension Day, 1879.
By William Croswell Doane.
Utica: The Church Eclectic, 1879.
WHEN the true, critical exegesis comes to do its work, not of re-translation, but of interpretation and enforcement by marginal notes and readings, of our English version, it has no wider field of exercise than the Greek use, which English shares with it, and Latin is without, of the definite article; as here, and in a thousand other places, underscoring and italicising the thought; "the liberty of the glory of the children of the God." I have no time to dwell on this. I have no intention of undertaking an exposition of the passage. I have no desire to narrow, or confine its application to the one drift of teaching which I want to give you from it. But it certainly contains what I desire to set before you as fitting for your thoughts, young men, at this most solemn and critical period of your life. And to this end I make partial and imperfect use of it. [The absence of a definite article in Latin, helps greatly to Italianize the language in translating it; e. g., "sedes apostolica,” which may mean New York or Albany: is always In Roman controversial writing where it means Rome, "THE Apostolic See."]
The glory of the children of God here on this earth is their service and obedience to Him. And the liberty of that glory, is their freedom from the bondage of corrupt systems that hamper and hinder this service. What this liberty is, in any detailed statement, men would not, perhaps, agree in defining. To some thinkers of our day, it means freedom from the bondage of ceremonial law. To others, deliverance from the control of a creed. To others, the moral law must be cast off as well, to leave men free. And the popular denunciation of dogma, means, of course, other people's ideas, of liberty to believe what each man likes, and to make his believing it the proof and reason of its truth.
 I need not, argue in this assembly, that such liberty is "a cloak of licentiousness." It is not freedom, but the tyranny of self-will. And if reason did not indicate it, and revelation assert it, history and experience would warn men that no such "bondage of corruption" is possible to men, as this despotism of lawless and unlimited license.
Speaking to you of the means and methods of your work, I want to call your attention generally, first, and then, with some particularizing, to the true liberty of the children of God; and to that which is essential to liberty, its limitation. And so the subject of my sermon is "THE LAW OF LIBERTY AS IT IMPLIES THE LAW OF LIMITATION," because it is the liberty of children; the only unlimited liberty being the liberty of God. And this, not since the fall, but before it; and because of our sonship of Him Who, even in the Garden, that man might be free, limited his liberty: "Of every tree of the Garden thou mayest freely eat,” “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden ye shall not eat" But for the limitation, which is another word for Law, man could not have been free; since there would have been given him no room for that inherent necessity for freedom, choice. Liberty, without law, freedom without the chance of choice, is as inconceivable as life in an exhausted receiver, as breathing without air. And, but for limitation, there could be no liberty, upon the other ground.; that one man's license narrows his neighbor's liberty when it goes beyond its assigned limits. Faint and feeble the line may seem to be, but it is drawn, in water that limits the earth's encroachment on the ocean, and in the shifting sand that limits the ocean from encroaching on the land.
Now the liberty of the children of God, speaking first very generally, is in the simplicity and comprehensiveness of the Church's rule of belief and duty. Not found in the perpetually enlarging limitations of Roman developments, which lengthen in articles, while they extract the creed into its latest form of condensation—"I believe in the, for the time being, Bishop of Rome;"—not found in the prickly and irritating hedgerows of a wearisome Westminster catechism; not found in the metaphysical and scholastic labyrinth of the Thirty-nine Articles, the faith of the child of God is the simplicity of the Apostles' Creed. The diversities of opinion, that grow like fungus or like flowers, about the several articles, the differences of speculative controversial theories that "rage and swell" about them, the confused interpretations of this teacher or of another age, that colour and qualify them; or the accretions of schools of thought that. have fastened on them, all these are not, de fide, of the essence of the faith. The faith, that which a man must believe if he would be saved, is other than these. And the door of the Church stands to-day, not barred by the hindrances of sectarian narrownesses, nor closed with the closely woven webs of curious speculation, nor hung with the heavy curtains of man-made mystery, but open wide to any who believe, “with all their hearts,” “the truth as it is in Jesus." No priest, to-day, has any right to refuse baptism to a faith as simple as the eunuch's, which asserts its belief in the blessed Trinity, by [4/5] declaring "Jesus to be the Son of God," and desiring Baptism with water and the Holy Ghost. This is the sum of the creed: "I believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
This first as to the faith. The other question is the Church's teaching as to duty. What is that, as it looks to sin to be renounced, or to holiness to be attained; that is, what is her doctrine of penitence and obedience ? Her liberty is to open the door to the penitent sinner, the moment he is ready to come in; no anxious bench, no period of probation, no evidence of merit, no waiting for perfection, no expectation of saintliness at the start; but begging and bidding all to come in who will, through the only door of Holy Baptism; gathering in the halt and lame and blind; "seeking not the righteous, but sinners;" and claiming that her function is not to receive saints, whom God has somehow trained for her, but to take sinners in and train them into saints, for God. Some Simon Magus of our day may turn out to be "in the gall of bitterness and the bond of-iniquity," his "heart not being right in the sight of God." More than one Ananias, keeping back part while pretending to give all, may have "lied unto the Holy Ghost," and yet the rule and order of the Church remain unchanged. It is not the completely cured, but he that "sits up and begins to speak," whom Jesus delivers to his spiritual Mother, to strengthen and perfect his cure. And as Infant Baptism is the usual thing, the ordinary rule and order of the Church, adults being capable of baptism only by accident and because of neglect, so imperfection, the littleness of beginning life, the first attempts at, and not the final attainment OF holiness, these are the qualifications for admission into the Church of God on earth. She is a free Church for all weary and heavy-laden people; for "every one that thirsteth;" and this is the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Nor is she any less free in her dealing with the duty and obedience of her children, once admitted to her citizenship. As they are not constrained by any shibboleths of religious opinions, so are they not tied down to any narrowing details of duty. The liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, which Judaizing teachers in old times sought to spoil, by the bondage of beggarly elements, men have undertaken in our day to restrict by the threads of minute specification in all matters of morality. We "have not so learned Christ." Broadly and boldly He lays down the general rules of Christian life; and fully He rounds out the outline by His own sinless life among men. Principles of practice, great foundation facts of holiness, clear and positive laws, these He gives, and leaves to each individual conscience, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, the duty of applying them. Infinite liberty of detail, infinite room for divergence, infinite variety of characters; this is the liberty of the child of God, as against the bondage of human systems that regulate the cut of the coat, the cast of the countenance and the key of the voice; that enact disciplines about amusement and food and dress, and seek to stamp the same impress of the human mintage upon every character, as though similarity and not variety was the [5/6] law of nature and of God. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;" therefore eat not and drink not, if you cannot eat and cannot drink in such way as to promote His glory. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;" therefore "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving."
Upon these general principles the Church takes her stand in the world. They need wisdom and carefulness in their application, and like all other truths and gifts, they are liable to abuse. But no harm coming from their abuse can either justify a departure from them, or equal the wrong that comes from the inglorious bondage of the systems that are opposed to them.
Your special need, it seems to me, my dear brothers and friends, is to learn some other lessons about the liberty that comes from limitation, and the law that limits liberty. Will you follow me, while I strive to give you some lessons which may be helps to you in your arduous and responsible duties at a time of unusual opportunities, and unusual anxieties for the Church whose ministers you are to be. I do not speak of her fixed principles, in which, like her Master, she is "the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever." In these you have been carefully trained; and they are at once the anchorage of your security, the unsealed orders of your course, the chart to guide your conduct, and the compass to correct your errors. But the attitude of the ministry and the application of these principles to the needs and conditions of the times, are questions of vital consequence to your success. And I address myself rather to some practical advice about this. If I seem rather one-sided in this advice, you will not accuse me of partiality. There is no need of warning you against dangers to which you are not tempted nor inclined. And my own position is, by this time, well enough known, alike by inheritance and by my public ministrations, to need no definition of it, against errors to which I have no tendency, and of which I have no fear. Holding the strongest, and what are called the highest views, of sacerdotalism and sacramentarianism; believing in the regeneration of Baptism, and in the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ, "given, taken, and eaten in the Lord's Supper;" teaching that the laying on of hands is now, as it was ever, for the gift of the Holy Ghost; holding that we have a Priesthood and an Altar, and that the power to remit sins by Absolution, as well as by admission to the sacraments, is given to the Priesthood; believing in private as well as public Confession, exactly as the Church teaches it; recognizing that the death of Christ is " shown forth " to God, even more than to men, by the Eucharistic Sacrifice, as proved by the mere fact that the Canon of Consecration is in our liturgy, not a Lesson read to the people, but a prayer offered to God; consenting to the thankless toils and trials of the Episcopate because I believe it to be the Apostolic office continued in unbroken line, and to be essential to the being of the Church; accepting, in fact, not only the Thirty-nine Articles, but as of far higher authority the Sacramental Offices, the Catechism and the Ordinal [6/7] and the Institution Office, as exponents of the doctrine and discipline of the Church, I am at no pains to guard myself from misconception on this side. And like the twenty-years-ago political preaching of abolition in Massachusetts, or of State rights in Virginia, I should count an emphatic impression of these Catholic principles in this parish, to students of this Seminary, as the kind of unprofitable task which is described as "carrying coals to Newcastle." To other audiences and at other times, I might feel bound to emphasize these principles, but not here. It is enough, in passing, to say, and my office, alike in its abstract duty, and in the record of my discharge of it, will bear me out in saying it, that these are parts of the liberty of our glory as children of God; and yet that the same liberty lets other people hold different views, and claims toleration of them, within such limitations as all liberty must have, the limitations of law.
It is considered, I know, by some people, a token of weakness in the Church, that she does not hold all her teachers to the same doctrinal interpretation of her standards. As though the type of man was lost or impaired by the varieties of colour and of countenance that prevail throughout the world. Holding that in this liberty, within limits of law, lies our strength, I want you to notice one thing, which needs stating as to the Church's position between the Roman Schism and the Protestant sects. Standing between the two, a via media, it is not because the Reformers happened to hit upon a compromising course between extremes, as though the extremes were first, and our pathway an afterthought, a happy discovery of three centuries ago. It is because our pathway is the via antiqua, the via sacra, in which the Saints walked, who were nearest Christ, and found His footsteps to direct their way. Starting from the top of the Mountain of the Ascension, it leads to the Upper Room in Jerusalem and to Samaria and to Antioch, to Ephesus and Arles and Lyons, and to Canterbury and Aberdeen and so to us truly "orbe remotos." Its waymarks are in the catacombs and by the 'martyrs' graves, and he can scout us as pretenders, who can find, in our doctrine or our discipline, any vital departure from the primitive Church. Of course there are children who cry out "Baldhead," scoffing at this antiquity, as senile even to puerility. But the two she-bears, one named Heresy and the other named Schism, have torn and do tear all such despisers into the pieces of sects and societies of unnumbered names. The point for us to notice is simply this; that, plainly as you can track foot-prints in the wintry snow of accumulated ages, or in the mire of hopeless confusion, or in the dead leaves of autumnal decay, the points of departure can be marked where the foot-prints of the Isidores, and Hildebrands, and Luthers, and Calvins, and Cokes, and Williamses turned, with their followings, one side or the other side from this old beaten track, which rings and is radiant with the foot-steps of the Saints, and left the old path in the middle, not because it chose its way between two extremes; but because they diverged from it, and left it to go on the even tenor of its way. Even in the comparison of [7/8] organizations of modern names; even if the Church of England had not retraced "the steps the Fathers trod," hers is the older way. For Tridentine, much more Vatican, Rome is more recent than the English Reformation, and the Protestant bodies of today, are younger even than Rome. And walking in this path, is not the feat of the rope-walker, or of the walker of a plank. It is a wider way, a larger room in which our feet are set; and it is the part of ignorance and bigotry, either to mistake it, for the middle way of our selection, or to insist that every man must walk just in the middle of this middle way. Rather it is "the glory of the liberty of the children of God," that close to the wall, or out into the open field, very near to the hard and human upbuildings of mediaeval error, or over towards the wide unguarded ranges of undefined Protestantism, they may wander at their will; restricted of their liberty only, when, like Balaam's ass, they go out into the field, or crowd against the wall.
Now this very liberty is the danger of our day. Untramelled, it becomes license; lawless it degenerates into self-will, and I want to suggest to you, what these needful limitations are: needful not because liberty is dangerous, but because liberty is endangered without them.
And first, these limitations are inherent and natural. It is true in faith as in morals that good becomes evil by excess. Vice, nine times out of ten, is exaggerated virtue; and lawful things become forbidden, because carried too far. The appetites of the flesh furnish the instant illustration, when grateful enjoyment of God's good creatures, is prostituted to gluttony and drunkenness. Love, by this process, is perverted to lust. Economy is stinted into meanness. Liberality loses itself in extravagance. Thus liberty becomes license, by lack of limitation. For the very moment that anything good and lawful escapes control and passes the bound of its appointed sphere, it violates its nature and vitiates itself. It is the spindling stalk of overgrown flax. It is the flame, ceasing to warm on the hearthstone, and burning and devouring the home. It is the building, overloading the foundation, that topples to its fall. And this is inherent, abstract, moral, natural, necessary law; as immutable, as universal, as irresistible, and as inevitable as gravitation.
I start with this, to ask your attention to an evil of our day. Partly by the nick-naming of exhausted obloquy, which is tired of "Puseyite, Tractarian, and Ritualist," and partly by the conceit of self assured superiority which claims with Pharisaic exclusiveness, the title "Catholic," as against the Pharisaism, that called itself Evangelical, there has come to be a party among us called Advanced Churchmen. Of course one is free to grant that the man who walks over a precipice, has advanced further than the man who stops at its brink: and, in a certain sense, the traveller advances, who takes a ten miles journey over a wrong road, further than he who goes half the distance on the way towards home. But the question comes rightfully and naturally, as to what advance is. And it is to be recognized at once, that it is not standing still. The Church of [8/9] God, holding its immutable principles of eternal truth, "standing in the WAYS" and "asking for the old paths," is nevertheless constrained by the very life within her to "walk in them," to advance along them. By adaptation to the changes of social life, by the .acceptance of the different customs and characters of nations and of times, by keeping pace with the progress of science, of civilization and of society, she proves herself not fossil, not mummy, not embalmed and encrusted curiosity—but the living Body, the spreading Vine, the growing Tree. The Church of no one century in all the world is the set model of the Church of all centuries. The Church of no one country in all the world is the exact mould of the Church Universal. Her very fixedness of vital principles, her very certainty of the essential truth, her very immutability by rooting and grounding in the faith, enables her to "reach out her branches unto the sea and her boughs unto the river;" and to bear the various manner of fruits " for the healing of various nations. But after all, fig trees will not bear olive berries, neither vines, figs. The sweet water of truth, and the bitter water of false doctrine, cannot come from the same fountain: and we do not gather, (if I may invert the apostolic simile) the thorns of error, from the grape-vine which Christ is; or the thistle-down of fickle opinions tossed to and fro, from the fig-tree of truth. That is to say, all progress, all going on, all moving, all change, is not advance No one could find any fault with the Roman doctrine of development, if it were development; but when acorns are made to grow into mullein stalks, and the corn of wheat, into the zizanta, the lolium, the false wheat which is tares; when the depositum is, not that which was once delivered, but that into which unauthorized individualism puts things that it may take them out, and show them as though they had been always there (as a prestidigitateur brings birds out of a hat); intelligent men insist, upon mere grounds of philology, of honest language, of the meaning of words, that the word shall be changed. Development is the unfolding of that which is enfolded, and not the addition, by grafting, or by tying on, of something new. The primitive Doxology, in the hands of Ruffinus and through the Aquileian symbol, and the Apostles' Creed, grew into the symbol of Nicea, and the Hymn of Athanasius. By no law of life, no power of growth, no hot-house forcing of development could men get Tridentine additions or Vatican decrees out of them. Because these were not in them, ever. Huxleyian and Darwinian evolutions pale and become possible: men out of apes, and birds from reptiles are easy stages of progress, with no gaps between, compared with fungus, parasitical, unnatural growths like these. That cannot be unfolded which was not enfolded. And the distinction is as plain to see to every honest student of Ecclesiastical history, as the distinction which Natural History shows between species and genera, as distinguished from the differences between animals and plants. And yet both ways, somehow, in doctrine and in practice, religious men lose sight of this. One man is afraid of a true doctrine, lest it grow into a false [9/10] opinion, as if wheat could become weeds. Another man claims Catholic authority for an exaggerated abuse, because the Church holds the truth, which he prostitutes into a lie. I stand here on the old Catholic ground of eosin and Andrewes and Laud, or in the fresher foot-prints of Hobart and my dear Father and Mahan, to disavow alike the fears of the one and the falsehood of the other.
It is not advance, but a departure from the old ways; the backward progress of the crab, not to antiquity, but to errors, not even venerable with age, to pass from the "discerning of the Lord's Body and Blood" in the Eucharist, to be eaten and drunk worthily, into a non-communicating attendance for purposes of adoration addressed, indirectly at least, to that whose purpose is not to be the object, but to be the offering, “the pure offering" of worship to God. [The law of lines not parallel holds here, that they diverge as they go on—you cannot advance from any point of a straight line to any point of a line that has parted from it.] It is not advance but departure from the old ways, to turn aside, from the frequency of the showing forth of the Lord's death which they only do (i. e. offer) who "eat and drink" the Flesh and Blood, to a cultivated and enforced infrequency of eating and drinking, under the error of insisting on a reverent custom, (but without authority of Scripture or of Council,) of Communion only taken fasting: or with the aim of obliging the unauthorized private confession before communicating; the necessity of which the presence of a general confession and absolution protests against. It is not advance, it is not even retrogression to antiquity, to distort the commemoration of the faithful dead which we make with every recital of the Lord's Prayer, with every saying of the Prayer for Christ's Church Militant, with every use of the Consecration Prayer "for all the whole Church of God," into the mercantile and mischievous scheme of " requiem masses for the repose of souls," which the poverty of Pontiffs invented, as it did Peters-pence and indulgences, to fill the depleted treasury of the papal court. It is not advance, save as the downward course of error is advance, to invade the mysterious and sacred silence of Paradise by prostituting our belief in the conscious communion of the holy dead with us,—praying and interceding for us, because they still are in the Body of the Lord, and so with the one mind and one mouth of that Body still speak as we speak, to God,—it is not advance, to prostitute this essential truth into the elevation of Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mazy to be "mediators" between us and God, or to the folly of seeking either to force our voices by some undiscovered telephone into the serene and sheltered distance of their blest abode; or, with the other similar error of pseudo-Spiritualism, to force their voices back to earth. It is not advance, but departure, to pass from the really ancient and Anglo- Catholic use of the two Lights on the Altar, (in the daytime, if you will and for symbolism), to a lamp burning before the reserved Sacrament; and to go, not on, but off from the bowed head and bended knee, before the altar, [10/11] during the Gloria, or at the Holy Name, to salaams and prostrations during Creeds and Prayers which the Priest is bidden to say standing. Rather than spend your time in illustrations such as these, let me take one marked and striking instance of God's guarding of His gifts of grace and truth, to cover all this ground. There is no question, at least among us who believe that the VIth chapter of the Holy Gospel which St. John wrote is Christ's doctrinal statement of the Holy Eucharist, (given before its Institution, just as He taught Nicodemus the doctrine, before He instituted the Sacrament, of Holy Baptism, there is no question that the Manna in the Wilderness was the type of the giving of Christ's Body to be our food, under the form of the Eucharistic Bread. "This Bread is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the World." If you will study out the story of this giving of the Manna, you will find, nowhere more accurately, this law of limitation, which controls all true advance. There were those who despised it, and called it light-bread, as some men make it a mere memorial, the evidence of an absent Christ, an indifferent and unimportant form. But they were not, and they axe not, the only sinners. By a strictly defined law, the precise amount, the time, and the manner of the gathering were ordained by God. And the "advanced" men of that day, the men that went beyond the letter of the law, beyond the limitation of their liberty, came to harm. He that gathered little, if it were the enter for each man, had no lack. And, he that gathered much, if it were the omer for each man, had nothing over. Reverent obedience, that is to say, leads, neither to want nor to excess. But the gatherer who went beyond the law, who sought to keep it over, after and beyond the purpose and the extent which God commanded, found, not the sweet supply, the sweet sufficiency for each, but worms and corruption in their stead. And what is true in the Blessed Eucharist, is true of every gift and every truth of God. The sin of pleonexta, the over-much, the going-beyond, the exceeding of the law, the moral or the positive precept, the plaits and inherent, or the revealed and declared object of gift or truth, of grace or doctrine; the over-much, the excess, miscalled advance, leads to the misery of the manna-gatherers, it breeds worms and stinks with the corruption of false doctrine and untruth. It tends as pleonexta does, (for it is covetousness) to idolatry.
Passing from these inherent and essential limitations of the liberty of the children of God, I wish you to work out with me two other points of limitation, most important I believe to your successful service in the ministry to which you are called. First, its limitation because of your representativeness; and next, its limitation because of your love of souls.
The good old thought of that disused word, the parson, contains the first idea. The priest becomes by his ordination the persona ecclesiae. The ambassador of Christ, by whom God beseeches, and who entreats men in Christ's name, is no longer merely himself. He is a representative man. He acts officially. He ministers in the name of Christ. He teaches by [11/12] the authority of the Church. He is not an individual, but an impersonation, the persona, the representative of the Church. We are glad enough to fall bark upon the comfort of this truth, when the stress of our insufficiency presses home to us. And we are inclined sometimes, with supercilious and self-satisfied assumption of superiority to other people, laymen, or unordained ministers, to assert it. And the very people who do this most, who claim the honour of their orders, who exalt the priesthood and magnify their office, these, often, in our day, are the very people who forget the limitation of the individuality which their representative character brings with it. I mean to say, squarely, that while from his learning the priest may hold more safely extreme views than the layman can, yet the priest has less liberty of thought and speech and action, in his official relations, than the layman has, and is bound to avoid language which the unlearned, the idiwthV, the layman, is sure to "wrest" unto untruth. Whatever views and notions you may please to hold, you cannot ventilate your crudities, when, as God's messengers you come to preach the truth of the everlasting Gospel. And in your conduct of Divine service, not only that real humility and true reverence which shuns conspicuousness and notoriety, not only the absorption in the act, which forgets attitudes of worship, but the necessity of your office compels you to avoid the intrusion into a service ordered and ruled by rubric, of mannerisms and individualities which express, not the Church's order and the Church's devotion, but your peculiar views, or the notions of your peculiar school of religious thought. I believe that laymen may claim the right of practising the stand-up ritualism of formal and intentional irreverence, with the Pharisee, or the bent and bowed-down ritual of the abased and abused Publican; (though I think it worth while to notice that even these excessive individualisms were not indulged in during a public service.) The crouching attitude of grovelling abjectness is to be permitted to the layman who prefers it to that devout and reverent "confidence" which is so unconscious of itself, and so absorbed in Christ that it finds "grace to come boldly" unto His throne. And the rubric of sitting down, and of hurrying out when alms are offered or before the sacred elements are consumed must be permitted to the congregation if they cannot be taught better. But the priest, the Persona Ecclesiae, stands, kneels, bows, acts in accordance with Her directions, because and in order that She may act through him. I am not saying that nothing is permitted except what the rubrics order. But I am saying that not everything is to be tolerated which the rubrics do not expressly forbid; that honesty, not speciousness, must interpret these rubrics, and that the true priest desires the elevation of the Church, (not an abstract ideal of something that exists only in the brain,) but the elevation of the Church, whom we have sworn to serve, and the forgetfulness of self. For God's sake, if we are to be classed—and I am glad to be classed so, for one—as High Churchmen, let us take Newland's definition of it, and be men "who think highly of the Church and lowly of themselves." And above [12/13] all, do you be ingenuous, rather than ingenious, in your representation of the Church. It may be clever, on the ground that the anthem and antiphons from the Holy Scriptures are commanded and allowed, to introduce an Ave Maria, with its antiphon, into some special service of Society or Guild; but it is deceitful. It may help to intimate to other people your peculiar views about the value of prayers for the dead, to take a prayer out of the Church's office for the dying, and use it by the grave, asking that impossible thing, which even Roman purgatorians do not expect, that the soul in Paradise is to be "washed in the blood of the sinless Lamb;" but it is dishonest. It may be clever, because the Homily, (and every intelligent man who knows the facts,) says that Confirmation, &c., were once commonly called Sacraments," to claim that we can run off with liquid lips in our teaching "the sacrament of Confirmation;' &c.; but in the face of this Church's definition of a sacrament, it is an unworthy trick. It may, be evidence, indeed I think it is, of extraordinary philological attainments, to talk about the SAXON word "mass," and to use it, partly for convenience' sake, because it is so easy, and so short to say; but it is an unauthorized application, calculated, if not intended, to deceive. I beg you, young men, while you preserve the honesty of your independent manhood, to remember that the rest of you is swallowed up in your representativeness. Ministering at the altar, teaching in the pulpit, leading the devotions of your people, in the dress of your office, you are the impersonations of the Church.
So far, for the inherent and inevitable limitations of your liberty, by which liberty, the liberty of all is guarded and saved from infringement, suffered or committed.
Now let me plead with you that must of the Divine Master, the love and longing for single souls. He "must bring" those other sheep. He "must needs go through Samaria," to find the sinful woman at the well. Surely some must, some obligation rests on you and me, to limit our liberty that we may be free to help others; that we may lessen their liberty, if they so esteem it, to be offended; surely some obligation rests on you and me to lessen our liberty, by the love of, and longing for souls. I know how ready the answer is, it is unreasonable for them to object. I know how easy it is to say, and how true, that they who do object and magnify the importance of a mere ritual act, for instance, till it comes between them and their communicating, these are truly the ritualists, the formalists, the people who are contentious for small things. I know how well it sounds to say, “why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience." But, after all, you and I are set to represent the Master, and surely we misrepresent the very motive of His ministry, by not being willing to surrender matters of taste and preference, matters unruled, for the love of a soul. I shall not be understood as counselling concealment of truth, or compromise of principle, or relaxation of rubrics for the sake of a miscalled peace. When Jesus sat beside that sinful woman at Sychar, because He longed to save her soul, [13/14] He drew out of the deep, dark well of her long-hidden memories the truth about her soul, and made her face it, and stated plainly the sin of her religious separation, her schism: "You worship you know not what. Salvation is of the Jews." When truth and order are involved, we are dishonest and unfaithful to palter or conceal it. Truth is not ours to touch one atom, of it, with the pilfering finger of compromise. But in unimportant matters, in external acts, in personal ways, which St. Paul compares to the indifference of "eating and drinking," where it is a question of free choice, even at personal cost, surely if he could, we must say, “Not while the world stands" "lest I make my brother to offend."
Out of a crowded and hurried life chiefly to show my love for my brother, the Bishop of Springfield, and to do as he asked, I have come here with the somewhat hasty throwing together of these practical counsels for your guidance in the work that lies before you.
Only let me say one other word of deeper and more devout counsel. These things are not without suffering and pain, not without anxiety, not without the bearing, more and more, of the cross of accusations of cowardice, not without the wear of doubts just where we are free and where we are bound, I hope, as the day draws near for your ordination, as the ineffable privilege of ministering for Christ to souls grows upon you, by its exercise, with a sense of its sweetness and of its awe, more and more, dear brothers and sons in the Gospel, as you say proV tauta tiV ikanoV, remember what the only answer is, the only assurance, the only consolation, arcei soi h cariV mou.
May we not say it is the liberty of our glory as children of God, that we may "glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us."