« ZurückWeiter »
ings of individual minds, and has become public property. Its “sound has gone out into all lands,' and `its words unto the ends of the world.' It has from the first had an objective existence, and has thrown itself upon the great concourse of men. Its home is in the world; and to know what it is, we must seek it in the world, and hear the world's witness of it."
If then St. Cyprian could leave for awhile his heavenly glory and come down to visit us in this country, where, if anywhere, would he find that Church for which more than fifteen hundred years ago he lived and died ? He would find, indeed, a world utterly changed, a society saturated with those truths which fifteen hundred years ago were the carefully guarded treasures of the elect few. He would hear of no persecutions, and therefore of no "lapsed.” He would scarcely meet with an individual who did not profess himself a Christian, and believe himself a member of a Christian Church ; and yet we can scarcely doubt that he would be sorely baffled when he discovered that there was in this country not one Church of Christ, but nominally, at least, very many churches. He would discover with amazement, and not, we may imagine without holy indignation that these varions so-called Churches were not only independent but rival communities. Where would he be likely to find the divine family, among whose children he would be at home as of old ? Would he recognize the Catholic Church in those small but select assemblies of cultivated and comfortable ladies and gentlemen, whose chief bond of Christian union is a denial of the divinity of our Lord, and of the redeeming efficacy of the sacrifice on the cross? Would he find the Catholic Church anong those good people, who have learned to dispense with Bishops and to repudiate Episcopacy? Would he recognize a Christian Church that was without a priesthood, without an altar, without a sacrifice? Would he find himself at home among those who deny baptism to children? Would he be able to join with any
feeling of security or comfort in divine offices protected by no angust liturgy or authorized ritual? We may be perfectly certain that nowhere, thus far, would he who was Bishop of Carthage in the first half of the third century, recognize the Catholic Church.
But he would hear, at any rate, of one body with bishops and priests, altars and sacrifice, august liturgy and anthorized ritual, claiming himself, moreover, as one of their most revered fathers, and naming his name with solemn commemoration at every mass.
He would find this body, moreover, claiming as peculiarly its own, and receiving even from its bitterest enemies the name Catholic. He would find its members in communion with a hundred and fifty millions of Christians throughout the whole world. But how does it come to pass, we may surely suppose him asking, that there is about these Christian people and their sacred services, an air so foreign? How does it come to pass that they do not use, in the divine service the language of the people, the language moreover, which to the majority of their own priests is their mother tongue? The very familiarity of his own Latin would amaze, and one may fancy, appall this visitor to a new world. Latin, we may imagine the great champion of Episcopal independence, the sturdy opponent of the Roman Stephen, murmuring to himself, Latin! Can it be possible that that little seed of tyranny has grown into so gigantic a tree! Is it possible that the despotism of Rome can be overshadowing this vast continent, which seems to me like a new created world! Who is your Bishop? he might ask, as he joined the crowds on their way from some high festival in the cathedral of
Who is your Metropolitan? Who your Patriarch? and how does it come to pass, he might enquire further, that you hold no communion with those other Christian people, who boast that they also are Catholics, who have their own bishops, their own synod, their own priests and altars and sacrifice, who rehearse the ancient and orthodox creeds, and whose liturgy, in all
essentials, is exactly like my own! What answer would be the only answer which sooner or later he must receive to questions such as these? He would, of course, be told
, that the separation was the result of all kinds of heresies; and he would be in no degree re-assured by discovering that these so-cailed heresies were for the most part, denials of doctrines of which he himself had lived and died in total ignorance. He would discover with amazement and horror that whole nations had been anathematized for the rejection of dogmas, which, in the Catholic Church of the first three centuries were utterly unknown. But sooner or later, he would discover the very head and front of the offending. He would find that the ghastly schism is the result, not of disputes about doctrine, but of a dispute about jurisdiction; the doctrinal differences, indeed, are many and serious; as they stand, they are almost fatal ; but if they could come to terms about jurisdiction, they need not even yet be utterly desperate. In the hearts of vast multitudes there is a hungry longing for unity, combined with a manly reverence for the See of St. Peter and a grateful recognition of the innumerable and invaluable services that have been rendered to Christendomn by the august Patriarchate of the West. But the demand for absolute supremacy, coupled with a claim of official infallibility, implies a total revolution and inversion of Catholic Church order. It annihilates the authority of Ecumenical Councils in the past as well as for all time to come. It abolishes tradition as really and as completely as it supersedes Holy Scripture. It embodies that most comprehensive form of despotism which it is possible even to conceive-the union in one person of all legislative, judicial and executive func. tions. It destroys every safeguard for the permanence of the Christian religion; and lays the whole Church gagged and fettered at the feet of a single Pontiff.
But if St. Cyprian must turn away with terror and amazement from so comprehensive and so un-catholic a despotism, would be find himself at home among ourselves?
Assuredly even here there would be much to surprise and even to alarm him. He would miss in our sacred service many a venerable symbol which for him had been expressive of divine meanings. He would wonder at the coldness of our commemorations, and might not unreasonably fear that we had forgotten at least that Communion of Saints which binds together in one glorions brotherhood the Church on earth and the Church in heaven. He would marvel at our easy toleration of false doctrine and selfwilled insubordination. He would be surprised at the facility with which our own communicants can ignore or explain away the central truths and holiest mysteries of their own creed and worship. He would be startled by the freedom with which the ordinances and doctrines of the Church are everywhere handled. He would find it difficult to understand why so many of us seem to attach a greater importance to our accidental Protestantism than to our essential Catholicity. But we conld explain our position by long chapters of a varied history which fifteen hundred years ago he would have deemed impossible. And we may well believe that he would approve our Christian prudence in sacrificing for the sake of the pure gospel and apostolic discipline of Christ's Church, not a little of what at first was so useful that it seemed almost necessary; not a little of what is always so fascinating that it might lore to destruction, if it were possible, even God's elect.
1881.-MOTHER SHIPTON'S PROPHECY.
In twice two hundred years, the Bear
The Crescent shall assail,
The Bear shall not prevail ;
Let Islam know and fear,
Grow pale and disappear.
Gold shall be found and grown,
And in the twinkling of an eye,
Around the world our thoughts shall fly.
The world to an end shall come,
All ages and countries have had their seers, prophets, wise men, magicians, augurs and sybillæ. We hear of such characters and professors among the Egyptians in the time of Moses; men so skilled in their occult sciences and legerdemain as almost to rival the wonder-worker of the Hebrews.
"And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: Now the magicians of Egypt they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his
1 Then Saul said unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. I Samuel, xxviii: 7.
See note at the end of this article.