IV. The Sacraments.
[Condensed from stenographic notes.]
By the Rev. John J. Faude, Rector of Gethsemane Church, Minneapolis
(C). "The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord--ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him."--Lambeth Quadrilateral.
WE are here to-night to consider, mainly, the place of the two "generally necessary "Sacraments in the great hope of the restoration of the broken unity of Christ's Body, the Church. That is to say, the discussion of the two greater Sacraments on this occasion will be not a doctrinal discussion so much as a consideration of what view of these Sacraments will help Christendom in the consummation so devoutly to be wished "that they all may be one.'' For, the discouraging discovery confronts us very soon after we enter upon the study of the question of [121/122] unity, that these four points which have been set forth as the basis upon which the Anglican Communion invites conferences upon the matter of restoring Church Unity are the very points upon which" all who profess and call themselves Christians" have differed, and magnified their differences into grounds for separation. Thus, whether we recognize their claim or not, there are those who lay claim to the name of Christian and yet assert that the Bible is to be looked upon only as any other book, bringing to any individual just what that individual may make of it, and that it has nothing authoritative in it except that which each one may discover for himself to be authoritative; while on the other hand we recognize the Bible as being Holy Scriptures, with all that is implied under the term holy; as containing all things necessary to salvation; and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith. To be consistent with the "right of private interpretation" one must be indifferent to every person's "view" of the Scriptures, because each one's private [122/123] interpretation after all determines his attitude towards them. Indeed here is the crux of the whole matter of the divisions of Christendom, whether we recognize that the supernatural enters at all into the Holy Scriptures, the Sacraments, the Ministry of the Church, and the Creeds as being the inspired and therefore authoritative voice of the divinely constituted Church of Christ--or whether all these are things of purely human origin, to be changed as we may see fit, from time to time. Upon this latter line of thinking it will be utterly impossible to have consentient thought even upon the great verities that pertain to the redemption of mankind. Never, so long as we fail to recognize the supernatural; never, so long as we fail to recognize that the Church is Christ's Body; never, until we recognize that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God; never, until we recognize that the power of the Ministry is not something built up by human craft and ambition, but comes of Christ's institution; and never, until we recognize that therefore the Sacraments have something more [123/124] than of human value, shall we effect a reunion of Christendom which will be permanent. The only permanent is the eternal, and the eternal was never of human origin, but of divine. I do not value that "practical" argument for reunion, that there is so much waste of men and means in our divisions. That argument may have weight with those who are of an economic turn of mind, but so long as men believe that these things upon which they have differed are things that touch the very soul of man, they will reply, and, I think very properly, "Your argument of dollars and cents has no weight with me at all. Your argument as to the number of men that might be concentrated upon any given point has no value in my mind. These matters which divide us are matters of conscience; they cannot be offset by any gains in economic value, for they are matters of spiritual life and death to humanity."
Let us be patient. This question of Church Unity is one we need not, must not try to force. We certainly cannot hasten it by any ill-advised [124/125] measures looking to the surrender of the Catholic faith and practice. We may hasten it by showing how the adoption of the Catholic faith and practice answers the needs of humanity.
Now there are two Sacraments which are "generally necessary to salvation," "ordained by Christ Himself." That they were instituted by Him must make them of special value, but I would call your attention to the fact that each of these Sacraments was instituted at a peculiar time, or event, in His life-work--the human work for the redemption of man.
The Sacrament of Baptism was commanded for all men just as our Lord was about to take this human nature, which He had carried on earth for the space of three and thirty years, into heaven. His soul, His spirit, God in other words, going back into heaven, but with humanity. It was this human nature of ours, spiritualized and glorified indeed, but still this human nature, which Christ ascended with and took into heaven, teaching us that these bodies of ours have a recognized share in that entrance [125/126] into heaven itself. And there, brethren, is where, it seems to me, comes the strongest reason for our accepting the truth that this human nature of ours needs Sacraments to touch the bodily nature. It may be said: "Is it possible that God, who 'is a Spirit,' conveys spiritual grace to men through material means, when it is the soul of man that is concerned, the soul that is to be saved, the soul that commits sin, the soul that is to develop righteousness?" Ah, yes! Jesus Christ took our human nature into heaven at His ascension. This human nature then, the whole nature, the animal nature even, that needs to be cleansed, to be purified, so that it shall be fit for entrance into heaven. After all, this body is something more than a casket for the spirit. Says the Apostle: "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? "It is the body that so often proclaims the acts of the soul, and that reacts upon the soul; this body needs material cleansing as much as the spiritual cleansing is needed. Of this material as well as spiritual cleansing [126/127] Baptism is the sign and seal, and it finds its doctrinal statement in the phrase, "The remission of sins," a remission about which we can have no doubts. Indeed so unequivocal is the Church's position upon the subject that the strong and unmistakable words are used, "A death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness." Moreover this death unto the one and new birth unto the other are declared to be "given unto us" through the means of Baptism, which is also the "pledge to assure us" of the "death" and the "new birth." Baptism, then, is not the expression of a hope that the sins may be forgiven at some time in the future; they are then and there forgiven to the penitent. Otherwise the Scriptural declarations are but mockeries. What mean those words, "Repent and be baptized .... for the remission of sins;" or. "Be baptized and wash away thy sins;" or. "Buried with Him in Baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him" if the remission, the washing away of sin, the burial and resurrection with Him do not take place in Baptism?
 But that Sacrament of Baptism has also certain other aspects. By means of it the human being is adopted into the family of God, made a subject of the kingdom of heaven and a member of Christ. Some indeed maintain that it is only the human being's public declaration of his intention to follow the Christian life, or, in the Baptism of an infant, the "dedication" of the child to God, by the parents, signifying their pious wish that the little one may have the grace of God henceforth. Certainly these '' views'' are varied enough to embrace the entire range of human opinion. But is there not in this very fact something for us to start with on the road to Unity? Here is a Christian brother of another Communion who has no other conception of this Sacrament than that it is a ceremony of admission which enrolls the subject into the human organization or congregation. We can start with him and say: "The Catholic Church accepts you, even with your limited conception of the value and significance of this Sacrament. She only pleads, in the spirit of Catholicity, that [128/129] you will not excommunicate us for holding more, nor--for the spirit of the two is the same--cut yourself off from us."
For, Catholicity is broad, generous, comprehensive, while sectism is narrow and exclusive. The Catholic Church has never driven men from her fold because they held but partial truth. The force that has driven the Christian Church asunder into multitudinous fragments is the spirit of intolerance which would make one's own conscience the guide for another man, or which makes the grasp of truth by a section of men the limit of the grasp for the Church universal. In other words men have said, "We see this, we comprehend that; this view should be emphasized, that should be submerged; we cannot continue in unity with those who hold a fraction more or less than we hold." This is the essence of schism, of sectarianism. But, my brother, you who hold the partial truth that Baptism is an admissory rite, beware of saying that there is nothing more in this Sacrament, lest you give way to that spirit of division [129/130] that has been the cause of the present broken unity of Christ's Body, the Church. And you, my brother, who hold more than that, who hold that the Sacraments are not figures only, not metaphors in material form, but realities; that Baptism does indeed wash away the original sin of the infant, and the actual sin of which he has been guilty who now comes as a penitent; you who have the highest conception of the efficacy of this Sacrament, beware you also that in your very zeal for Divine truth you do not lose sight of that Catholic, comprehensive, all-embracing spirit which is an indispensable condition of the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace; beware lest in uttering one word of condemnation in harshness of spirit, you commit the sin of schism by driving another into schism. But there is another Sacrament, likewise instituted by our Lord at a crisis in His life work on earth--that night in which He was betrayed, the night before He laid down His life. Already there was before His vision His own broken Body and shed Blood; for it was one of the [130/131] parts of Christ's suffering, and one that intensified that suffering, that He knew what was before Him, what He should have to bear; knew the end from the very beginning. So, on that night when He was betrayed; after Judas had been sent out; when only the faithful ones had been allowed to remain, Christ gives to them the Sacrament wherein' spiritual sustenance is to be given. Why was this special time selected for instituting the great Sacrament? We cannot, of course, enter into the full mind of Christ in reference to any circumstances about which He has not revealed Himself, so as to interpret His motives, but certainly there must have been left upon the minds of those Apostles, as they thought back upon that night and rehearsed the events of the following day, a strong sense of the nearness to each other of the two events--the institution of the Christian Sacrifice and the offering of the Real Sacrifice, which should give efficacy to the former.
It does not seem as if any true conception of this Sacrament could be satisfied with the [131/132] idea of its being a mere memorial of the death of Christ upon the Cross. Some graphic picture of the Crucifixion would have answered that purpose and made a deeper impression upon the average mind; a crucifix would have appealed more strongly to many; eloquent word painting of the scene has often moved to tears men and women who have been unmoved by the Eucharist. True, our Lord did say: ''This do in remembrance of Me," but He said also "He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day." And, that they might know what He meant by such strange words He told them "on the night in which He was betrayed," as He took the bread and blessed it, "this is My Body;" and of the wine "this is My Blood." St. Paul speaks of the Sacrament as being "the Communion of the Body of Christ," and "the Communion of the Blood of Christ," and multitudes have found rest unto their souls in the realization that at the table of the Lord they meet Him; that He is really present; that benefits [132/133] are given then and there; that the bread and wine in the consecration become something more than bread and wine, viz., conveyors of spiritual, eternal life, as no other means are such. The Apostle again tells us, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself," and if there were simply the material elements unchanged how could there be so strong a statement required?
We need to remember that the efficacy of the Sacraments is not a vague, but a very definite thing. Sins are washed away in Baptism, pardon is transmitted to the penitent in absolution, eternal life is given in the Lord's Supper Otherwise, if we may not believe in definiteness in all instrumentalities and means of grace, what are we to understand by such expressions as "The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him?" Men may tell us, as they do, "The Lord is every where. We need not try to localize Him. He is in my house, in my shop, in my bank. He is everywhere that we go, and you are but minimizing the [133/134] omnipotence of God when you say "The Lord is in His holy temple." But just because God knows man better than he knows himself, and realizing that he is a creature of Lime and sense--indeed had so made him--He gives to him those things which will enable him to apprehend the spiritual; teaches him through eye and ear and taste and handling. God descended from heaven and took upon Him human form because we were unable to apprehend Him sufficiently as a spirit. God for a space was localized in the person of Jesus Christ, and the continuation of that localization is going on always in the Sacraments. St. John says of the Incarnate One: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled .... that declare we unto you." Further, the Sacraments are supernatrual gifts of God that depend in almost insignificant degree upon the individual; indeed no human being can do anything to make the Sacraments effective, except to make them effective to [134/135] himself by fitting himself for their due reception. They are always the free gift of God, not purchased by any man's effort. They are like the seed which men cast into the earth. Xo human being in all these ages has been able to make a grain of wheat. He can make something that resembles it; he can make something so like it as to deceive the eye of the most critical and expert, but when put into the ground it will not grow. The principle of life is not there, that comes from God alone.
Now just as in the beginning God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul, so in the Sacraments it is God's part gives the life-giving principle. In Baptism, e.g., the individual may, by repentance and faith, localize, specialize, individualize to himself the death unto sin and the new birth unto righteousness. In the Holy Communion the individual may, by meet preparation, avail himself of the benefits of the Body and Blood of Christ, may benefit by coining into the real presence of Christ, but in either case the recipient [135/136] simply avails himself of that which exists irrespective of his own feelings or condition.
The higher our view of the Sacraments the more careful shall we be to prepare ourselves for their meet reception, the more shall we endeavor to avail ourselves of all their benefits, careful that nothing be lost. If we feel that in the Lord's Supper there is but little, that it is simply a memorial, that it is a reminder of an historic event, there cannot be, it seems to me, that careful preparation, that devotion leading up to the celebration and reception of the Holy Communion that there is when, we look upon it as the meeting with Christ Himself, as the coming into His presence, taking Him into ourselves and being taken into union with Him. Such a view of the Sacraments instead of being a bringing down of the great truths of the spiritual life to the level of our material being, is a lifting up of this material being to the level of the spiritual. Through the Sacraments that touch our material being and lift it up, Christ is taking our humanity into heaven itself, enabling us to [136/137] comprehend that it is our complete human nature in all its parts that He came to save, cleanse, purify and make fit for heaven and eternal life.
But in intimating that this is Catholic doctrine are we intimating that only they who accept this are in union with Christ and, therefore, fit to be counted as at unity with the Church Catholic? God forbid! Even he to whom this feast is but a reminder of Christ's death upon the Cross, or he who looks upon it merely as an expression of good will towards those with whom he partakes--these and others, have a place with us so long as they do not, in the spirit of schism, refuse to allow us the more extended and comprehensive view, nor insist upon leaving those who apprehend more, nor drive such from union with them. Nowhere is it truer than here, "He that is not against us is for us." Has not our own branch of the Church Catholic her own lesson of toleration yet to learn?
"We recall with pain the fact that this august and holy Sacrament, instituted by our Lord to be the sign of the unity of His brethren, should [137/138] have become the subject of contention, an occasion of breaches of charity, and the cause of suspicion and separation. May we not, however, indulge the hope that, notwithstanding our disputes and dissensions, there is a substantial agreement in devotion to our Blessed Lord, as realized, reverenced or remembered in this memorial of His love for sinners? May we not predict the coming of a happy day when men shall come to that holy ordinance, not with hard questions and in a controversial temper, but with the faith which is the evidence of things not seen and the charity which believeth all things? "[Dix: The Sacramental System, p. 173.] Let us teach strongly the faith once for all delivered to the saints, but with charity for those who hold it only in part.