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to be the restoration of organic unity. Whatever relations will tend to bring about this result upon the basis of the Catholic creeds and primitive order I believe to be precisely the relations most desirable for us to cultivate. Our view of the character of these relations may be somewhat modified if we consider them from a standing point which we are not much accustomed to occupy, and ask not what we have to contribute to this organic union, but what these other Christian bodies have to contribute. We are sufficiently familiar with the advantages and excellences of our own system. We value very highly the historical character and unbroken continuance of the ministry of the Church from A postolic times. We attach great importance to the Church year, and liturgical worship. The dogmatic basis of the Church, in the universal creeds, and the Church system of training, we believe to be of inestimable value in the development of Christian character. The comprehensiveness and catholicity of the Church make it in its very nature the rallying ground for all the followers of Christ. Now let us see what special gifts and graces there are in the nonepiscopal Churches, which they would be able to contribute to the Church of the future.
In the first place the numerical strength of these Christian bodies gives them very great importance and influence. For the most part great importance is attached among them to culture and learning among the clergy. We might naturally hesitate before entering into a comparison of our educational institutions with theirs. They have covered the land with benevolent organizations, and their missionary operations are to be found in every part of the heathen world. They witness also for the most part to those features of Christianity which are of the most vital importance. They have blessed and are blessing the world with innumerable saintly lives. It would not be difficult perhaps to enlarge upon the weak points in these religious systems, but that does not fall in with my present object, which is to dwell upon those points in which their accession would enrich the Church of the future.
What we need very much to cultivate is a generous appreciation of these excellences to which I have referred. We shall do well to seek and value the personal relations to which such appreciation would naturally lead. There is also a large field of charitable and even religious effort in which association with Christians of other Churches would secure important results without any possible compromise of Church principles. The present Church law which forbids the participation, in any service, in our congregations, of any persons who have not been episcopally ordained, or are not communicants of our Church, may be wise in view of all the circumstances involved. Before there was such a law, liberty of action, in this matter, was a liberty to be vindicated if assailed. The law, however, as it now is, must be loyally obeyed. In the consideration of this subject, however, it should always be remem bered that the relations between non-episcopal Churches and our own are not embarrassed as they are in England by the fact that the Church is an institution of the State.
Probably not much more can be done, at present, in the direction of organic unity than to make our own Church more and more truly evangelical and catholic, and to promote among ourselves a more intelligent and generous estimate of those Christians from whom, for the time, we are separated. It may not be long before the dangers which threaten our common Christianity will become so formidable as to force us into closer relations and union. What may be accomplished, in this respect, by a deeper sense than we now have of our underlying unity in Christ, we cannot now tell. May He who “maketh men to be of one mind in a house" bring this union to pass in His own good time.
In order that our Church may most wisely and efficiently aid in giving form to the future Church of the nation it is necessary that a reconciling ministry should be accomplished, within its own borders, and among the various schools of opinion which it contains. We cannot expect that others will be drawn into unity with us until we have learned to be at unity among ourselves. We must start in our consideration of this part of our subject, with the fact clearly impressed upon our minds that, there has been an historical development of widely differing schools of opinion in the Church of England and the Churches with which it is in communion. At no time since the period of the Reformation has there been so wide a diversity in any one ecclesiastical organization. In those religious bodies even in which there is supposed to be the largest freedom from authority the limits of permissible belief are far more narrow than with us. This results from the fact that they avowedly exist for the purpose of exhibiting Christianity under some special type of it, and the presence in such societies of those to whom Christianity presents itself under another aspect is not desired. To my mind this comprehensiveness is a great glory of the Church, and the recognition and acceptance of it is the first step tow:rds the unity for which, in the midst of diversity, we are to seek.
This diversity and comprehensiveness of the Church, in which the early schools of Rome and Alexandria are recalled to our minds, does not arise from any preconceived plan for the development of the Church, but is the inevit. able result of the circumstances in which the Church has been placed. It was inevitable that the spirit of the Roman Empire, to so many of the forms and to so much of the genius of which the Church succeeded, should pass into the Christianity of modern times, and reveal itself in excess of dogma and organization. It was inevitable that the spirit of the Greek philosophy should characterize, in these latter days, a ciass of thinkers in the Church who would chafe under dogmatic authority, rebel against what they might regard as too rigid organization, and contend for freedom in subjecting both the Church and Revelation to
the test of human reason. It was inevitable that there should be a class of men who, starting with supreme regard for the spiritual in Christianity, should attribute to the Scriptures, in their understanding of them, an authority which they deny to the Church, and accept the traditions of their own school as more to be valued than those which have the sanction of Catholic consent. It is easy to see excellences in each of these schools. It is easy to see the perils to which the unrestrained development of any of them would lead. Let any one of them be separated from the restraining influences of the Church and it would soon run into the most dangerous extremes.
Even within the Church and under the restraining influence exercised by the presence of other classes of opinion, each of these schools has, at least in the case of some of its members, and with threatening indication of wider defection, gone beyond the limits of the legitimate comprehensiveness of the Church, and transgressed the boundaries of evangelical and catholic truth. There is a latent source of error in the exclusive position of each, and it flows with ever increasing volume through the logical processes by which the original position is developed. Each one, therefore, has in it an element of danger for the Church.
How shall they be restrained and these threatening dangers averted—is a question which has always been one of great importance; perhaps never of more importance than now. It is a vital question in connection with the subject we are considering.
The method which most naturally suggests itself, and which has been most frequently adopted, is that of repression by ecclesiastical authority. It is evidently within the legitimate province of the Church to protect itself from erroneous teaching. The only question, is by what means that protection can best be secured. Let it be by ecclesiastical authority, through pains and penalties, if that method, and that alone, can succeed. But when we remember that we are in the first place to be certain that the teaching which
we propose to repress is erroneous, and, in the second, that our attempts to suppress it by force, if it be erroneous, may not succeed, we may well pause before we proceed in that direction. History teaches us a very important lesson in this respect, especially the history which this generation has been making. The effort which has been made in England to restrain by legal proceedings the excesses of each of these schools in turn has been attended only with failure, and the present agitation under the Public Worship Regulation Act is most disastrous in its effect upon the Church.
The attempts of the same sort which have been made in the Church in this country have been no more encouraging.
It would seem, therefore, that even if such proceedings are right in theory they are not practicable in the present state of public opinion. It is doubtful, however, whether they are even theoretically right, in connection with any opinions which, by a liberal construction, can be regarded as belonging to any one of these historical schools. It is not at all unlikely that the protection of the Church from false teaching inay be found after all to depend largely upon the free development of these various schools.
Each one is held back from excess by the restraining influence of the others. But if you suppress one, wholly or in part, you not only restrain the free development of the Church in that direction, but you give undue influence and power to opposing tendencies. Suffer all to work freely together, and each will prove a conservative power in the Church.
We may go further even than this. Where we have reason to believe there is loyalty to Christ and to our Church, a man so far from being restrained, is to be encouraged in the avowal of the opinions of any of these historical schools within the limits to which his loyalty will permit him to go. If he has no true loyalty to Christ or the Church, and is only making an hypocritical pretext of it, I know of no better protection for the Church than that which is to be found in the loss of influence and power