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One of the most important problems of reconciliation that presents itself to our Church in this day, is that which is involved in the relations we sustain to other Christian bodies outside of the Church of Rome. These bodies, for the most part, trace their history as organized institutions back to the period of the Reformation ; some of them claiming to have existed in more or less distinct form since the Apostolic Age. Without stopping now to consider the question whether episcopacy is essential to the being of a Church, it may be well for us, at the outset, to recognize the fact that there are Christian communions with whom we stand in very close relations, who are to be regarded as holding essentially the doctrines of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds; as having the sacraments in their essential features, as retaining something at least of the original organization and government of the Church, and as exhibiting their Christian faith in lives of devotion and works of charity. There are many, no doubt, who hold that the differences between these Christian bodies and our own Church are of minor importance, and there are others who exaggerate these differences, and regard them as making the line of division between that which possesses and that which is destitute of the essential elements of the Church. There are, however, many very thoughtful men in onr time, and amongithem the well known Dr. Gonlburn, Dean of Norwich, who has presented his views very forcibly in his book on the Holy Catholic Church, who hold that whatever may be the defects of organization in those Christian bodies, which retain substantially the Nicene faith, they are to be regarded as having acquired legitimacy by existing for so long a period, and as constituting therefore integral parts of the Christian commonwealth.

There are also among us, those who believe strongly in the dependence of Christian life upon the sacraments and ordinances of the Church, and who, therefore, from the admitted piety prevailing in these Christian bodies infer the possession on their part of legitimate rites and ordinances. This is a position which combines high sacramentarian views with broad views of the ministry and the Church,

It should be remembered that whatever may be the exclusive views of individuals, the Churches of the Anglican communion have never restrained liberty of opinion within the limits here indicated. No one view or doctrine, therefore, in regard to this subject can be imposed as obligatory upon the members of the Church.

Amid this allowable diversity of opinion, for which we have reason to be devoutly thankful, it may, perhaps be found that there are more possibilities of unity of feeling and action than we have been accustomed to suppose. It is certainly desirable, at all events, that there should be a careful reconsideration of all the bearings of our attitude in regard to this subject.

If it is simply a question of the unconditional surrender of all these Christian bodies and the adoption of the insti. tutions of the Church as we have received it; if these societies are utterly without legitimacy, and have nothing which they can usefully contribute to the Church of the future, then it necessarily follows that there is no attitude possible for us but that of unqualified hostility, united with the astounding claim, on our part, that instead of being simply one of the fragments (perhaps the nearest to the original type), into which our common Christianity has been unhappily divided, we alone are the representatives of the Church of Christ in this land, and upon us the whole responsibility of Christian institutions rests. For it will hardly be claimed that we share this representative position and responsibility with the Church of Rome, in a sense in which we do not share them with other Christian bodies. The claim that the Church of Rome stands in any closer relations to us than orthodox Protestant Churches is fatal to our own position as a Church. It yields so much to Rome, that it takes away from is all justification for separate existence. If then we claim a right to exist inde.


pendently of Rome, and yet share no representative position and responsibility with any of the Protestant Churches, we do assert for ourselves the prerogative, and assume for ourselves the tremendous obligations of being the only Church of Christ in this land. It is not too much to say that any theory must be fatally defective which leads to so preposterous a conclusion.

In avoiding such a conclusion we shall find that there is very important common ground upon which we, with the

, non-episcopal Churches can stand. The pressure of the Church of Rome, upon modern society, will make a closer union among Christians, not within its pale, imperatively necessary. It is time that we carefully considered, not so much the points in which we differ, as those in which we agree. Especially is it desirable that we should ascertain the original points of divergence, and what elements of the original Church have been carried on in the various forms into which it has been divided. It is the wise advice of Lord Bacon, in regard to the reformation of Church or State, to revert to their original institution, and see wherein they have departed from the fundamental principles of their organization. This method of reforin in the Church is historical, and regards the Church as an organization, with the germs of its future development present in it from the first. Its true growth must therefore be in the direction of germinal development. Its whole past must be carried forward into its future.

The present embarrassments which stand in the way of the organic unity of the Church consist mainly in the existence of several ecclesiastical polities, supposed to be antagonistic to each other. These polities are, in general terms, the Congregational, the Presbyterian and the Episcopal. In examining the essential peculiarities of these organizations, we shall find that they all existed contemporaneously in the early Church. The fundamental principle of Congregationalism is the independence of the Church in a particular place, the right of believers, in a town

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or city, which was the original parish or diocese, to regulate their own worship and administer their own affairs. This was certainly true of the original diocese in the primitive Church. The fundamental principle of Presbyterianism is the parity of the presbytery, but it is a parity which adinits, in its original idea, of a "primus inter pares ”—which approaches very closely to the idea of Episcopacy, for many not only in the Church of England but in the Church of Rome, have held that a bishop does not belong to a diffent order, but simply holds a higher office than his brother presbyters in the Church. The essential element in episcopacy is the office of a bishop, succeeding to that office, by an unbroken succession, to whom is committed the general superintend ence of the diocese over which he presides, and to whom certain functions exclusively belong.

Now suppose, and the supposition is made, not because it suggests anything which may be practicable or desirable, at present, but simply in order to show what common elements there are in these various organizations, suppose, I say, that the modern diocese should come to be rednced to the primitive model, and comprise only the Church in a single city and its suburbs ; suppose the principle of a larger diocesan independence were recognized; suppose that one among the presbyters were set apart for life, in conformity to a law of succession, to a particular office of superintendence, we should have a Church, episcopal in its polity, and yet comprising the essential elements of congregationalism and presbyterianism. The old catholicity of organism would be restored.

Without urging this point beyond a mere suggestion of these common features of organization, I wish to say a word in regard to a matter which is of very great importance to us and to the non-episcopal churches. I refer to the widening chasm, in our modern times, between the State and the Church. This tendency is fast rendering a Christian State, as such, impossible. It has originated, in great measure, in the fact that the Church, in our time, is, as a unit, invisible. It is a body the outlines of which are indefinite. It is wanting in organization. It can come into no relations, as an organism, with civil society. In the present imperfect catholicity of the Church it is impossible for the State to enter into relations with it. They would be relations merely with some fragments or onesided developinents of Christianity. It is not so much hostility on the part of the State to the Church which is leading everywhere to a separation between the two, but the difficulty of ascertaining what is the common, universal Christianity, what is the Catholic Church.

Until there is the development of a higher catholicity this tendency is inevitable. It will, in all probability, proceed in our own country and the other countries of Christendom until every tie of union between the State and ecclesiastical organizations is sundered. The Christian State as such will have disappeared. It is to little, if any, purpose that we resist this tendency. In the present condition of the Christian Church it would not be wise, perhaps, to endeavor to retain the institution of the Christian State. But the secularization of the State cannot certainly be the culmination of Christian civilization. Nay, rather out of the monstrous character of such a position, thus made evident, will come the cry for a catholicity broad enough for the State to stand upon. After the failures of " independent morality," and Christless philosophies, and Godless civilizations, we may, perhaps, make real to ourselves that grand unity of which Plato dreamed in the Republic, or that still vaster and grander conception of St. Augustine in the "City of God."

The question of present practical relations with the various non-episcopal Churches around us is one of very great importance, and not to be too hastily concluded. It may serve to guide us in the consideration of the question if we keep distinctly in mind what the end is which we wish to have accomplished. This end I hold unhesitatingly

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