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The Test of Numbers.
chairs but on the Greek system it is not the hierarchy, it is the people whose voice is decisive; and these are more than a hundred and fifty millions of Roman Catholics, more than eighty millions of Protestants, and more than five millions of minor Oriental Churches, against sixty millions of Greeks. The Orthodox Church is but the fifth of Christendom. Let the Greeks assume the high tone of the Romanists, unchurch all other communities, and pronounce their members incapable of salvation; then they will have the equivocal merit of consistency: but this they have never done. Ecclesiastical materialism necessarily tends toward religious pride, bigotry, and exclusiveness; it leads men to regard themselves, on the ground of their external relations, as the special favourites of Heaven: and this tendency is abundantly manifested in the last pages of the "Orthodox Christian," where he speaks as if they were the unity of the Church, and the sole depositaries of the truth. But, in this respect, as in every other, the Greek Church has stopped half-way in the antichristian course. Taken on its own official showing, it is but an ill-used portion of the universal Church. Now, the theory will not admit of the existence of such a case: the universal Church must be in the right, rather than any discontented portion. Where are we to find it then? Where there is the largest mass of professed Christians, the loftiest pretensions, the body which bears the greatest appearance of a grand visible unity pervading all people and languages, speaking by a recognised organ, and standing out as a power peculiar and alone upon the earth? If the unity of the Church consists in an outward and visible organization, Ignotus and his co-religionists must hasten to Rome. They are not safe for one day out of her communion; for no conceivable quantity of sacramental operations can redeem their quality. An uneasy feeling of insecurity should haunt the Greek in all his religious services; for his own and his brethren's judgment is but that of a minority, and he dares not refuse salvation to the Romanist, while the Romanist refuses it to him. That it is really so, more or less, appears from the fact that Greeks, like Tractarian Anglicans, generally assume a merely defensive attitude, and are only solicitous to show that salvation is possible within the pale of their Church.
However, our Oriental friends may re-assure themselves. The real conclusion to be drawn from this controversy is, not that they must follow their theory to Rome, but rather that their theory is wrong; that it has stood the test of history as little as it can stand that of Scripture. External Christendom began its decomposition by splitting into two sections, one of which contained most of the people, and the other most of the primitive hierarchy; and, to make the confusion greater, the community which is strong in Patriarchs professes to put faith in the people, and the community which is strong in its numbers professes
to put faith in the hierarchy. At present, the largest and most exclusive sect in Christendom includes just half the professed Christians in the world, unchurches the other half, and maintains a nominal unity of its own members, only at the price of keeping them in ignorance, poverty, superstition, demoralization, and a perpetual alternation between practical Paganism and scepticism. The ecclesiastical theory of visible unity supposes not only a uniform system of government throughout all the provincial Churches, but a state of active communion and mutual recognition: instead of that, they hurl anathemas at each other. The five patriarchal chairs were supposed incapable of error, and they are at daggers' drawing! If this be the sort of Church founded by Jesus Christ, it is a signal failure; the gates of hell have prevailed against it. Thank God, when we understand the word as Jesus Himself did, we are no longer shut up to this blasphemy.
The ritualist constantly speaks as if he was the advocate of the poor and unlearned; yet, on his system, the claims of the Church are to be proved by historical investigation, just as one proves a title to an estate; and the salvation of the unlearned depends upon a question which he is altogether incompetent to decide, the apostolical succession of his Priest. His guide is to be tradition, quod semper, ubique, et ab omnibus,-a research somewhat too great for any human intellect or industry. He is told of the advantages of the living authority over the Book; yet this living authority, if a General Council, holds its sittings at some centuries' interval, never practically can be held again, and was always such as no simple believer could submit his questions to. If the Pope, nobody can tell where the man's private character ends, and the public begins; that is to say, no one can tell when the Pope is really Pope. It is evident that all tradition and authority must be summed up, for the poor and unlearned ritualist, in the person of his own parish Priest; and he comes to believe in the infallibility of his Priest, not by study of the word of God, not by any process which involves contact with moral evidence and becomes a test of character, but in the same way of blind routine which, if he lived on the banks of the Ganges, would throw him into the hands of the Priests of Siva. Properly speaking, he is left with but one article of faith, that is, faith in the infallibility of the Church: all the rest he believes by proxy. True unity is the communion of souls, supposing life, liberty, and individuality; but on those systems, the link is not faith; it is rather the absence of faith, the willingness to eschew all personal, self-conscious convictions. Such systems lay themselves out for the poor, in the same way that the usurer does, to profit by their poverty, and never let them rise above it. How far are they from the spirit of Him who set before John's messengers, as His highest title, "Unto the poor
153 the Gospel is preached!" What worse oppression or outrage upon the poor and illiterate can be imagined, than the treating them as if they were not moral beings, the keeping them in a state of degrading infancy, by that very order of influences which was ordained of God to raise them up and set them with Princes?
Augustine once wrote, "Let us hold it as a thing unshaken and firm, that no good men can divide themselves from the Church." There is a sense in which this dictum is true: no man who is one with Christ can be separate from the body of Christ. Hence, if we see good men in various communions, the legitimate conclusion is, that no one external society has a right to call itself exclusively "the Church." But if, instead of reaching the Church through Christ, we suppose union with Christ to be attained through fellowship with the external Church, then the aphorism is reversed: it means that a given community must include all good men, and therefore all who separate from it are bad men; there can be no fruits of the Spirit, no repentance, faith, or holy living, outside its membership. It is a retributive judgment upon the ritualist, that he is unable to sympathize with good wherever he sees it, that he is compelled by a logical necessity to deny its existence, except within certain circles, nay, to take good for evil; like the Pharisees, who refused to admit that God was with One who was none of theirs, and so attributed to Beelzebub what was the work of the Holy Ghost. Hence the positive incapacity of Romanists to do justice to Protestants, and of Tractarians to do justice to Dissenters, even in their inmost thoughts. The real spirituality of Ignotus raises him in this respect many degrees above the vulgar ritualist. He has generous sympathies for much that he sees among men who follow not with him; but the chilling and darkening influence of the system is all the more manifest from its effects upon a noble mind so little disposed to narrow prejudices. Ignotus has a very different idea of Protestants from the Prelates who are sent to Odessa and Sebastopol to fanaticize the soldiery; yet, even he never expresses disapprobation of the restrictions under which the non-orthodox communities suffer in Russia: and how far is he from recognising the greater intelligence and piety, the moral superiority of our Protestant populations; and that precisely in the ratio of their emancipation from sacramental religion!
It is, indeed, highly significant, that the movement of the Reformation died away on the frontiers of Russia, as if there was some invisible but invincible obstacle to its progress in that direction. We will even allow, with Ignotus, that it is probable Protestantism could never have sprung up on the ground of the Oriental Church; but we cannot express the reason in so flattering a shape as he does. It is simply because that Church has been
in a state of stagnation and immobility for upwards of twelve centuries. Fossils can undergo no organic transformation. Whatever religious life or mental activity can be detected in the Church during those dark and dreary Middle Ages, belongs to its Western section. It was in the West that the work of regeneration was prepared; hence it was only in the West that it could take place. It is here that Providence has placed the scene of spiritual conflict. Ignotus boasts that there is no infidelity in Russia. He should have said, among the peasantry. But this universal acquiescence in the hereditary religion is just owing to the absence of intellectual activity; the battle, with its noise and its dangers, is elsewhere; the enemy is not to be found on the Sclavonian soil, because the citadel of the truth is not there. While every thing has been in motion throughout the rest of Christendom, while Rome herself has undergone a prodigious development, as some of her advocates now recognise, the Greek Church retains the physiognomy of the age of Photius, and earlier ages still, as nearly as human nature can without the absolute rigidity of death. This immobility can be illustrated, as it is symbolized, by the unchangeable character of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. Byzantine art, wherever it is to be found,-in Russia, Greece, Asia Minor, Mount Sinai,and whatever its date, has invariable forms; no difference, except that wrought by the finger of time, can be detected in paintings made at intervals of many centuries. There are the same saints, in the same order, the same attitudes, and the same proportions, on the screens of all the churches. Greek peculiarities are, as yet, very little known in England. Mouravieff's History, translated by Blackmore in 1842, is little read. The most important English publication is Mr. Palmer's "Dissertation on Subjects relating to the Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Communion." (1853.) But, if once forced into notice, the Greek Church ought, at least, in all consistency, to exercise the strongest attraction upon the Oxford School. It is just that to which in theory the AngloCatholic aspires,—a Church such as the Fathers of the first six or seven Councils left the Churches, a specimen of ancient Christianity. It exhibits the incipient or the intermediate stages of all the evils and abuses by which Christendom has been kept away from God, but not their final stages. It has but one order of monks, that of Basil: it has the celibacy of monks and of the higher Clergy, without extending it to the parish Priest: it has pictures and embossed images, without statues: it worships the Virgin, and calls her "all holy," without dogmatizing on the Immaculate Conception: it prays for the dead, without positively and officially teaching the existence of purgatory: it holds the theory of a visible Church divided into national sections, but does not acknowledge any one See as the visible centre of that unity, nor employ communion with one See as a prac
The Aspirations of Protestantism.
tical test for determining the catholicity of individual Churches : it calls Rome "the chair of Peter," but, with Gregory the Great, gives the same title to Antioch and Alexandria; and never suspects that Peter, like other people, might end by finding it more convenient to sit upon one chair than three: it practises confession without the confessional: its laity know little of the Scriptures, but they are not prohibited. In short, it exhibits a ritualistic Catholicism, without the Pope. We do not mean that the Greek Church has taken no steps whatever towards consistency in this downward path. It has, since the Reformation, set its seal upon the Apocrypha; it has adopted both the name and the idea of transubstantiation; but, on the whole, it remains the sort of illogical, unfinished apostasy, which ought to commend itself to the brotherly sympathies of all AngloCatholics.
While Ignotus reproaches Romanism with being easily satisfied in religious attainments, because it aspires to so little, he gives Protestantism credit for ardent aspirations, calling it "the desire of religion, rather than its attainment." There is something real and important in the observation, though spoiled by a false interpretation; and we must help him to the right one. Protestantism is full of desire and hope, because its career has only begun, and its work is before it. During the Middle Ages that low and imperfect form of Christianity now exhibited by the Roman Catholic and the Oriental Churches was universal; it had penetrated every thing with its spirit, arts, institutions, usages; the whole civil and social framework was moulded by it. All Europe was animated by one faith, and, in religious matters, five-sixths of Europe used one language. That is to say, ritualistic Christianity reigned supreme and unresisted. It had full scope to bring about the kind of unity that it could effect in Christendom. Long ages were given it, and a wide field; and whatever it could do, for good or evil, had been accomplished before the sixteenth century. Now Evangelical Protestantism is a higher form of Christianity, more in accordance with the Scriptures, and one in which the religion of redemption exhibits itself, for the first time since the apostolic age, divested of its Jewish and Pagan elements. But it has not yet reigned; it has not yet shown what, through the Divine Grace, it has in store for mankind; it has not yet assimilated to itself minds and institutions, even in professedly Protestant countries, to the same extent as ritualism did in its day. Protestantism has the world and its own work before it: hence its hopes and aspirations. It is easy to see, on the other hand, that nowhere is there less desire and instinct of a future mission than in the Greek Church; or else the religious mission is confounded with a political one. All the other degenerate Churches of the East-Nestorians, Jacobites, Armeniaus are remarkably more open to the Gospel than are