THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
A Message to Old York from New York
Delivered in York Minster, England
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all,
that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
--Romans I: 7, 8.
The occasion which sees us gathered in this great Minster of York is one to stir the heart of every child of the Anglican Church, and it is one that must appeal to the imagination, and the interest of all Christians. For more than three centuries the streets of this city heard the tramp of the Roman legions. Two Emperors of Rome died here within your walls. In the year 314 the Bishop of York attended the Council of Arles. And you are now celebrating the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of your Minster.
Thirteen hundred years--two-thirds of the time that has passed since Our Lord was born in Bethlehem! This is the history of which this building speaks to us. For thirteen centuries worship has been offered to Our Lord in this place, and here your Minster, one of the glories not only of the English Church, but of the whole of Christendom, stands today, bearing its witness to the unbroken life, the historic continuity, the Catholic and Apostolic character of the Church of England.
In 627 your founder, Edwin of Northumbria, gave his allegiance to Christ. It must move us to realize that here is the very ground where, on Easter Day, King Edwin was baptized, and Paulinus, your first Archbishop, offered the Eucharist thirteen hundred years ago. And if Paulinus, and Aidan and Wilfrid could now be with us in the flesh, they would find held and taught here, in every essential, the Faith of Christ as they knew, and believed, and preached it.
 You may well pray, as you are now praying, "for all who have been converted, baptized, absolved, confirmed, ordained to the sacred ministry, or consecrated to the Episcopate in this place."
You have reason indeed to give thanks as you think of all that this Minster has meant to your forefathers, and of all that it means today, to your ancient city, to England, and to the world, and I have the great privilege of bringing to your Archbishop and Clergy, to your Lord Mayor and Corporation, and to you all in Old York a message of glad felicitation from the city of the New World which bears your name, and from your brethren of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. From my own Diocese of New York I bring a message of affectionate greeting, sent to you by unanimous vote of the clergy and laity assembled at our Diocesan Convention, which I have placed in the hands of your Archbishop.
We are one with you in faith and fellowship. The Church of England is our spiritual Mother and we glory in her long history even as you do. From her we received the Divine gifts of the Faith, the Ministry and the Sacraments as these have come to us from Apostolic days. Your saints and martyrs and scholars are ours also, and we too receive strength from them. We claim our part and share in your historic Churches, and while you are keeping the thirteen hundredth anniversary of your Cathedral in Old York we are building our Cathedral in New York on the same spiritual foundation upon which your Minster rests, the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ our Ascended and Living Lord, as that faith in Him has been held from the beginning by the whole Catholic Church throughout the world. And I rejoice to tell you that the City of New York, sometimes unjustly regarded as absorbed in material things, has shown an interest such as few causes have ever called forth from her in the erection of this great building to serve no utilitarian purpose but to stand solely for the things of God and of the spirit.
We in America are joined to you in old England, and to our brethren in the English speaking world, by ties which are God's own ordering and which no man may put asunder.
We remember with deep and lasting appreciation the visit of your Archbishop to America at the time of our entrance into the [4/5] World War, and the message which he brought to us at that great moment. I shall never forget the scene in our New York Cathedral as the Archbishop stood up to preach there, and the feeling in that vast assembly as he announced for his text the words "And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them." May America and Great Britain and all who speak the English tongue, stand ever in true partnership, not for their own selfish advantage, but for the good of all mankind.
As we look back over the history of this Minster and see what these thirteen centuries tell us we give thanks to God for the life and witness of the Church of England. Like other Churches she has made mistakes, she has her weaknesses and shortcomings, but her record is one to fill the hearts of her children with true devotion and with loyal love.
We give thanks for her constant and unwavering witness to the Gospel of Salvation brought to this world once for all in Jesus Christ. No one can be in any doubt as to the Faith which she teaches, and which she expects, and trusts, her clergy to teach. Not only in her Creed but in every act and utterance of her worship she declares her faith in the Christ of history, the Christ of the New Testament, the Christ Who hears and answers our prayers where He now reigns on the Throne of God.
We give thanks also for her sincere and fearless love of truth, her readiness to hear all that science and scholarship may be able to teach us, her faith that there is, and can be, no conflict between the truth made known to us by science and the truth revealed to us in Christ. It is one of her great glories that, in the words of Bishop Creighton, she has been eminently, and still is "the Church of sound learning." It is the historian Lecky, certainly no ecclesiastical partisan, who, writing of the intellectual side of the Church of England, says, "There is hardly a branch of serious English literature in which Anglican clergy are not conspicuous. . . . In the fields of physical science, in the fields of moral philosophy, metaphysics, social, and even political philosophy, and perhaps still more in the fields of history (they) have won places in the foremost rank" by work "marked not only by profound learning, but, to an eminent degree, by judgment, criticism, [5/6] impartiality, a desire for Truth, a skill in separating the proved from the false, or the merely probable." "There is no other Church," Mr. Lecky says, "which has shown itself so capable of attracting, and retaining, the services of men of general learning, criticism and ability." And in this spirit of loyalty to Truth, in the light of fearless and thorough research, and of scholarship equal to any that the world can show, her witness is that there is no fact of science, there is no discovery of modern knowledge, there is no claim of truth, or reason, to debar any sincere man or woman from kneeling in full and humble faith before Jesus Christ as God and Saviour.
And again we give thanks for the great part which the English Church has played in moulding the life and character of the English people. It is the Church of England, the ancient Church of this land, identified with all your past back to the days of Celt and Saxon which, far more than any other agency, has inspired and developed that type of character which marks the people of English stock. It is from the Church that they have learned their deep sense of justice, their love of liberty, their reverence for womanhood, their faithfulness to their pledged word at whatever cost, their self restraint and reticence in success and their indomitable courage in adversity.
Who can measure the work of the Church of England, through all the centuries past, in forming and preparing this island race for its great part in the life of the world? And that ancient Church has now been called to far larger service. Her influence, like that of the English race, has spread far and wide over the earth. Standing for the Catholic Faith in its fulness, and in its simplicity, the Anglican Church has today her world wide mission to the English speaking peoples.
And we believe that there is a mission beyond this to which God is calling her. At this moment of history the greatest and most far reaching of all questions, the question upon which the future of the world depends, is the Reunion of the Christian Church. The Church of Christ stands before the world at this time disqualified for her Divine task, her life enfeebled, her witness weakened, her message discredited, by her own differences and divisions. Unable to speak with a corporate voice, unable to give a [6/7] united testimony, she cannot meet the deep need of the world or do her true work for Christ. It is in this great cause that God has given the Anglican Church her supreme mission.
Between the differences on either side it has pleased God to set her in the middle place. She is the one Church on earth which holds the truth of both Catholicism and Protestantism. She is both Catholic and Protestant. She recognizes and holds the principles for which both these opposing groups contend, authority and liberty, corporate life and individual freedom, sacramental grace and personal experience, the Divine Mission of the Church and the free access of each soul to God. The Catholic may so emphasize the reality of Divine revelation that he excludes the right of private judgment; and the Protestant may so emphasize the claims of human reason that he loses the reality of Divine revelation. The truth is not that one of these is true and the other is false but that both are true and both are essential. It is for the Anglican Church to show more fully than she has yet done, by the breadth of her sympathies, and by still greater freedom in her worship, that the truth which the Catholic emphasizes and the truth which the Protestant emphasizes are not contradictory but complimentary, that each truth needs the other for its own enrichment and completion, that both are needed for the full life and power of the Church of God. To the Anglican Church is given this opportunity. She alone of all the Churches has been forced to learn this lesson. God has appointed her to the work of reconciliation.
Fathers and Brethren, the time has come for us to make new effort in this matter, to consider again, with loyalty to the Truth as it is in Christ, but in a new spirit of sympathy and love, the things which separate us from our fellow Christians.
It is this which we are hoping to do at the World Conference on Faith and Order which meets next month at Lausanne. It is a hopeful thing that Christians are now coming together for conference in this spirit. But we must not expect too much from this gathering. Its scope is necessarily a limited one. It cannot, of course, arrange terms of reunion between the different Churches. Only the Churches themselves, acting through their own governing councils, could take such action. We pray that this gathering may help to prepare the way for the healing of our divisions. In what [7/8] other way can differences be explained and removed except through conference? But conference alone will not bring reunion. What we all need is closer fellowship with Christ. It is nearness to Him that will bring us nearer to each other. It is a true saying that "the nearest way to any heart is round by heaven." If we were all fully converted to Christ the way to unity would soon be found. I have been urging in America, and I will repeat it here, that what we need is to realize afresh the fact of our brotherhood. We Christians are already one in Christ. Whatever our differences, we Christians are all brothers, and therein lies the sin of our divisions. We are one in the life that joins us to Christ, and, more fully than we realize, we are one also in faith. We all believe in One Lord Jesus Christ "Who for us man and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." Roman Catholics and Anglicans, Protestants and Easterns, we are all one in this. We all believe in the Lord Christ, we all pray to Him and trust in His Divine power. We can all join in those great words of praise which have come to us from the first days of the Church on earth, and which have been lifted up here in this place through thirteen centuries, "Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father." And this is the Christian Gospel. The Christian Religion is belief in, and fellowship with, Christ Our Divine Lord. From this all else that we believe follows. Holding this common faith in Christ the Lord, it must be possible for us, with His help, to find the way to visible fellowship and unity, not merely that waste and rivalry may cease, but that Christ Himself may be manifested, that His glory may be revealed, and His Kingdom established among men.
Brethren of the Province of York, and of the Church of England--we who dwell in the newer world ask your prayers that in the midst of the problems and difficulties which we have to meet we may bear our witness for Christ with steadfastness and truth as you have done; we rejoice with you in the great spiritual inheritance of which this anniversary speaks; we join with you in thanksgiving for "the harvest of the bygone ages, and the hope of the coming years"; we offer our prayers, with yours, that God will give to the Anglican Church grace and strength and wisdom and love for the holy mission to which He has called her in the service of the whole Church of Christ.