HotFreeBooks.com
The Church: Her Books and Her Sacraments
by E. E. Holmes
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

THE CHURCH

HER BOOKS AND HER SACRAMENTS



BY

E. E. HOLMES, B.D.

ARCHDEACON OF LONDON



A COURSE OF INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN AT ALL SAINTS

MARGARET STREET, IN LENT, 1910



NEW IMPRESSION



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK

BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS

1914



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

IN WATCHINGS OFTEN: Addresses to Nurses and Others. With a Preface by the Right Rev. EDWARD KING, D.D., late Bishop of Lincoln. With a Frontispiece (the Crucifixion, by PERUGINO). Crown 8vo, paper boards, 2s. 6d.; cloth, 3s. 6d.

PRAYER AND ACTION; or, The Three Notable Duties (Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving). With an Introduction by the Bishop of London. Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d. net.

IMMORTALITY. Crown 8vo, 4s. net. (Oxford Library of Practical Theology.)

PARADISE: A Course of Addresses on the State of the Faithful Departed. Crown 8vo, paper covers, 1s. net; cloth, 2s. net. *** Extracted from "Immortality"

RESPONSIBILITY: An Address to Girls. 16mo, paper covers, 4d. net; bound in rexine, 1s. net. Cheap Edition, 1d. net.

LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.,

LONDON, NEW YORK, BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS



TO

H. F. B. M.



{vii}

INTRODUCTION

These Lectures were originally delivered as the Boyle Lectures for 1910, and were afterwards repeated in a more popular form at All Saints, Margaret Street. They are now written from notes taken at their delivery at All Saints, and the writer's thanks are due to the kindness of those who lent him the notes. Some explanation of their elementary character seems called for. The Lecturer's object was twofold:—

(1) To remind an instructed congregation of that which they knew already—and to make them more grateful for the often underrated privilege of being members of the Catholic Church; and

(2) To suggest some simple lines of instruction which they might pass on to others. Unless the instructed Laity will help the Clergy to teach their uninstructed brethren, a vast number of {viii} Church people must remain in ignorance of their privileges and responsibilities. And if at times the instructed get impatient and say, "Everybody knows that," they will probably be mistaken. Many a Churchman is ignorant of the first principles of his religion, of why he is a Churchman, and even of what he means by "the Church," just because of the false assumption—"Everybody knows". Everybody does not know.

It seems absurd to treat such subjects as The Church, Her Books, Her Sacraments, in half-hour Lectures; but, in spite of obvious drawbacks, there may be two advantages. It may be useful to take a bird's-eye view of a whole subject rather than to look minutely into each part—and it may help to keep the Lecturer to the point!

E. E. H.



{ix}

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii I. The Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 II. The Church's Books (1) The Bible . . . . . . . . 21 III. " " (2) The Prayer Book . . . . . 40 IV. The Church's Sacraments . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 V. Baptism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 VI. The Blessed Sacrament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 VII. The Lesser Sacraments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 VIII. Confirmation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 IX. Holy Matrimony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 X. Holy Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 XI. Penance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 XII. Unction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165



Dear Saviour! make our hearts to burn, And make our lives to shine, Oh! make us ever true to Thee, And true to all that's Thine— Thy Church, Thy Saints, Thy Sacraments, Thy Scriptures; may we own No other Lord, no other rule, But Thee, and Thine alone.

A. G.



{1}

THE CHURCH.

CHAPTER I.

THE CHURCH ON EARTH.

Christus Dilexit Ecclesiam: "Christ loved the Church"[1]—and if we love what Christ loved, we do well.

But three questions meet us:—

(1) What is this Church which Christ loved?

(2) When and where was it established?

(3) What was it established for?

First: What is the Church? The Church is a visible Society under a visible Head, in Heaven, in Paradise, and on Earth. Who is this visible Head? Jesus Christ—visible to the greatest number of its members (i.e. in Heaven and in Paradise), and vicariously represented here by "the Vicar of Christ upon Earth," the Universal Episcopate.

{2}

Next: When and where was it established? It was established in Palestine, in the Upper Chamber, on the first Whitsunday, "the Day of Pentecost".

Then: What was it established for? It was established to be the channel of salvation and sanctification for fallen man. God may, and does, use other channels, but, "according to the Scriptures," the Church is the authorized channel.

As such, let us think of the Church on earth under six Prayer-Book names:—

(I) The Catholic Church. (II) The National Church. (III) The Established Church. (IV) The Church of England. (V) The Reformed Church. (VI) The Primitive Church.



(I) THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

The Creeds call it "the Catholic Church" and describe its doctrine as "the Catholic Religion," or the "Catholic Faith". The Te Deum, Litany, and Ember Collect explain this word "Catholic" to mean "the holy Church throughout all the {3} world," "an universal Church," "thy holy Church universal"; and the Collect for the King in the Liturgy defines it as "the whole Church". The "Catholic Church," then, is "the whole Church," East and West, Latin, Greek, and English, "throughout all the world ".[2] Its message is world-wide, according to the terms of its original Commission, "Go ye into all the world".

Thus, wherever there are souls and bodies to be saved and sanctified, there, sooner or later, will be the Catholic Church. And, as a matter of history, this is just what we find. Are there souls to be saved and sanctified in Italy?—there is the Church, with its local headquarters at Rome. Are there souls to be saved and sanctified in Russia?—there is the Church, once with its local {4} headquarters at Moscow. Are there souls to be saved and sanctified in England?—there is the Church, with its local headquarters at Canterbury. It is, and ever has been, one and the same Church, "all one man's sons," and that man, the Man Christ Jesus. The Catholic Church is like the ocean. There is the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean: and yet there are not three oceans, but one ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is not the Indian Ocean, nor is the Indian Ocean the Pacific Ocean: they are all together the one universal ocean—"the ocean".

But, after all, is not this a somewhat vague and nebulous conception of "The Church". If it is to go into all the world, how, from a business point of view, is this world-wide mission, in all its grandeur, to be accomplished? The answer is seen in our second name:—



(II) THE NATIONAL CHURCH.

For business and administrative purposes, the world is divided into different nations. For business and practical purposes, the Church follows the same method. The Catholic Church is the channel of "saving health to all nations". As at Pentecost the Church, typically, reached "every {5} nation under heaven," so, age after age, must every nation receive the Church's message. The Universal Church must be planted in each nation—not to denationalize that nation; not to plant another National Church in the nation; but to establish itself as "the Catholic Church" in that particular area, and to gather out of it some national feature of universal life to present to the Universal Head. Thus, a National Church is the local presentment of the Catholic Church in the nation. As Dr. Newman puts it: "The Holy Church throughout all the world is manifest and acts through what is called in each country, the Church Visible".

As such, the duty of a National Church is two-fold. It must teach the nation; it must feed the nation. First: it is the function of the National Church to teach the nation. What is its subject? Religion. It is to teach the nation religion—not to be taught religion by the nation. It is no more the State's function to teach religion to the authorities of the National Church[3] than it is the {6} function of the nation to teach art to the authorities of the National Gallery. Nor, again, is it the function of a National Church to teach the nation a national religion; it is the office of the Church to teach the nation the Catholic religion—to say, in common with the rest of Christendom, "the Catholic religion is this," and none other. Thus, the faith of a National Church is not the changing faith of a passing majority; it is the unchanging faith of a permanent Body, the Catholic Church. Different ages may explain the faith in different ways; different nations may present it by different methods; different minds may interpret it in different lights; but it is one and the same faith, "throughout all the world ".

A second function of the National Church is to feed the nation—to feed it with something which no State has to offer. It is the hand of the Catholic Church dispensing to the nation "something better than bread". When a priest is ordained, the Bishop bids him be "a faithful dispenser of the Word of God, and of His holy Sacraments," and then gives him a local sphere of action "in the congregation where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto".[4] Ideally, this {7} is carried out by the parochial system. For administrative purposes, the National Church is divided into parishes, and thus brings the Scriptures and Sacraments to every individual in every nation in which the Catholic Church is established. It is a grand and business-like conception. First, the Church's mission, "Go ye into all the world"; then the Church's method—planting itself in nation after nation "throughout all the world"; dividing (still for administrative purposes) each nation into provinces; each province into dioceses; each diocese into archdeaconries; each archdeaconry into rural deaneries; each rural deanery into parishes; and so teaching and feeding each unit in each parish, by the hand of the National Church.

All this is, or should be, going on in England, and we have now to ask when and by whom the Catholic Church, established in the Upper Chamber on the Day of Pentecost, was established in our country.



(III) THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.

The Catholic Church was established, or re-established,[5] in this realm in the year {8} 597.[6] It was established by St. Augustine, afterwards the first Archbishop of Canterbury. How do we know this? By documentary evidence. This is the only evidence which, in such a case, is final. If it is asked when, and by whom, our great public schools were established, the answer can be proved or disproved by documents. If, for instance, it is asked when, and by whom, Winchester was established, documents, and documents only, {9} can answer the question—-and documents definitely reply: in 1387, by William of Wykeham; if it is asked when, and by whom, Eton was established, documents answer: in 1441, by Henry VI; if it is asked when, and by whom, Harrow was established, documents respond: in 1571, by John Lyon; if it is asked when, and by whom, Charterhouse was established, documents again reply: in 1611, by Sir Thomas Sutton. It can all be proved by, and only by, documentary evidence. So with the sects. Documents can prove that the Congregationalists established themselves in England in 1568, under Robert Brown; Quakers in 1660, under George Fox; Unitarians in 1719, under Samuel Clarke; Wesleyans in 1799, under a Wesleyan Conference. Records exist proving that these various sects were established at these given dates, and no records exist proving that they were established at any other dates. So with the Church. Records exist proving that it was established by Augustine, in England, in 597, and no records exist even hinting that it was established at any other time by anybody else.



{10}

"As by Law Established."[7]

A not unnatural mistake has sometimes arisen from the phrase "as by law established". Where is this law? It does not exist. No law ever established the Church of England. The expression refers to the protection given by law to the Catholic Church in England, enabling it to do its duty in, and to, the country. It tells of the legal recognition of the Church in the country long before the State existed; it expresses the legal declaration that the Church of England is not a mere insular sect, but part of the Universal Church "throughout all the world". A State can, of course, if it chooses, establish and {11} endow any religion—Mohammedan, Hindoo, Christian, in a country. It can establish Presbyterianism or Quakerism or Undenominationalism in England if it elects so to do; but none of these would be the Church of Jesus Christ established in the Upper Chamber on the Day of Pentecost. As a matter of history, no Church was ever established or endowed by State law in England.[8] If such a tremendous Act as the establishment of the Church of England by law had been passed, it is obvious that some document would attest it, as it does in the case of the establishment of the Scotch Presbyterian Church in the reign of William III. No such document exists. But an authentic {12} record does exist proving the establishment of the Pentecostal Church in England in 597. It is this old Pentecostal Church that we speak of as the Church of England.



(IV) THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

Who gave it this name? The Pope.[9] It was given by Pope Gregory in a letter to Augustine. In this letter[10] Gregory speaks of three Churches—the {13} Church of Rome, the Church of Gaul, and the Church of the English, and he bids Augustine compile a Liturgy from the different Churches for the "Use" of the Church of England.

We see, then, that the Church of England is the Catholic Church in England. As the Church of Ephesus is the Catholic Church in Ephesus, or the Church of Laodicea is the Catholic Church in Laodicea, or the Church of Thyatira the Catholic Church in Thyatira, so the Church of England is the Catholic Church in England. Just as St. Clement begins his Epistle to the Corinthians with, "The Church of God, which is at Rome, to the Church of God which is at Corinth," so might Archbishop Davidson write to the Italians, "The Church of God, which is at Canterbury, to the Church of God, which is at Rome". It is in each case, "the Church of God," "made visible," in the nation where it is planted.

{14}

But, being national (being, for example, in England), it is, obviously, subject to the dangers, as well as the privileges, of national character, national temperament—and, in our case, national insularity. The national presentment of the Catholic Church may err, and may err without losing its Catholicity. The Church of England, "as also the Church of Rome, hath erred";[11] it has needed, it needs, it will need, reforming. Hence we come to our fifth name:—



(V) THE REFORMED CHURCH.

The name is very suggestive. It suggests two things—life and continuity.

First, life. A reforming Church is a living Church. Reformation is a sign of animation, for a dead organism cannot reform itself. Then, continuity. The reformed man, must be the same man, or he would not be a reformed man but somebody else. So with the Church of England. It would have been quite possible, however ludicrous, to have established a new Church in the sixteenth century, but that would not have been a reformed Church, it would have been {15} another Church—the very last thing the Reformers contemplated.

A Reformed Church, then, is not the formation of a new Church, but the re-formation of the old Church.

How did the old Church of England reform itself? Roughly speaking, the English Reformation did two things. It affirmed something, and it denied something.

First, it affirmed something. For instance, the Church of England affirmed that the Church in this country in the sixteenth century was one with the Church of the sixth century. It affirmed that it was the very same Church that had been established in Palestine on the Day of Pentecost, and in this realm by Augustine in 597. It reaffirmed its old national independence in things local just as it had affirmed it in the days of Pope Gregory, It re-affirmed its adherence to every doctrine[12] held by the undivided Church, without adding thereto, or taking therefrom.

{16}

Then, it denied something. It denied the right of foreigners to interfere in purely English affairs; it denied the right of the Bishop of one National Church to exercise his power in another National Church; it denied the claim of the Bishop of Rome to exercise jurisdiction over the Archbishop of Canterbury; it denied the power of any one part of the Church to impose local decisions, or local dogmas, upon any other part of the Church.

Thus, the Reformation both affirmed and denied. It affirmed the constitutional rights of the Church as against the unconstitutional claims of the Pope, and it denied the unconstitutional claims of the State as against the constitutional rights of the Church.

Much more, very much more, "for weal or for woe," it did. It had to buy its experience. The Reformation was not born grown up. It made its mistakes, as every growing movement will do. It is still growing, still making mistakes, still purging and pruning itself as it grows; and it is still asserting its right to reform itself where it {17} has gone wrong, and to return to the old ideal where it has departed from it. And this old ideal is wrapped up in the sixth name:—



(VI) THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.

Re-formation must be based upon its original formation if it would aim at real reform. It is not necessarily a mechanical imitation of the past, but a genuine portrait of the permanent. It is, then, to the Primitive Church that we must look for the principles of reformation. If the meaning of a will is contested years after the testator's death, reference will be made, as far as possible, to the testator's contemporaries, or to writings which might best interpret his intentions. This is what the English Reformers of the sixteenth century tell us that they did. They refer perpetually to the past; over and over again they send us to the "ancient fathers,"[13] as to those living and writing nearest to the days when the Church was established, and as most likely to know her mind. They go back to what the "Commination Service" calls "The Primitive Church". This "Primitive Church" is the Reformed Church now established in England. {18} The Reformers themselves never meant it to be anything else, and would have been the first to protest against the unhistoric, low, and modern use of the word "established". In this sense, they would have been the sturdiest of sturdy "Protestants".

And this word Protestant reminds us that there is one more name frequently given to the Church of England, but not included in our scheme, because found nowhere in the Prayer Book.



THE PROTESTANT CHURCH.

The term is a foreign one—not English. It comes from Germany and was given to the Lutherans in 1529, because they protested against an edict[14] forbidding them to regulate their own local ecclesiastical affairs, pending the decision of a General Council.

It had nothing whatever to do with "protesting" against ceremonial. The ceremonial of the Church in Lutheran Germany is at least as carefully elaborated as that seen in the majority of English churches.

Later on, the term was borrowed from the Germans by the English, and applied to {19} Churchmen who protested (1) against doctrines held exclusively by Rome on the one hand, and by Lutherans and Calvinists on the other; and (2) against claims made by the King over the rights and properties of the Church. Later still, it has been applied to those who protest against the ancient interpretation of Prayer-Book teaching on the Sacraments and Ceremonial.

There is, it is true, a sense in which the name is fairly used to represent the views of all loyal English Churchmen. Every English Churchman protests against anything unhistoric or uncatholic. The Church of England does protest against anything imposed by one part of the Church on any other part of the Church, apart from the consent of the whole Church. It does protest against the claims of Italy or of any other nation to rule England, or to impose upon us, as de fide, anything exclusively Roman. In this sense, Laud declared upon the scaffold that he died "a true Protestant"; in this sense, Nicholas Ferrar, founder of a Religious House in Huntingdonshire, called himself a Protestant; in this sense, we are all Protestants, and in this sense we are not ashamed of our unhistoric name.

{20}

In these Prayer-Book names, then, we see (1) that the Church on earth is a society, established in the Upper Chamber on the Day of Pentecost; (2) that it was established to be the ordained and ordinary channel through which God saves and sanctifies fallen man; (3) that, in order to accomplish this, and for business and administrative purposes, the Church Catholic establishes itself in national centres; (4) that one such national centre is England; and (5) that this Pentecostal Church established in England is the Church which "Christ loved," the Sponsa Christi, the "Bride of Christ":—

Elect from every nation, Yet one all o'er the Earth.



[1] Eph. v. 25.

[2] The primary meaning of the word Catholic seems to refer to world-wide extension. St. Augustine teaches that it means "Universal" as opposed to particular, and says that "The Church is called Catholic because it is spread throughout the whole world". St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: "The Church is called Catholic because it extends throughout the whole world, from one end of the Earth to the other," and he adds, "because it teaches universally all the doctrines which men ought to know" ("Catechetical Lectures," xviii. 23).

[3] "Foul fall the day," writes Mr. Gladstone, "when the persons of this world shall, on whatever pretext, take into their uncommissioned hands the manipulation of the religion of our Lord and Saviour."

[4] Service for "The Ordering of Priests".

[5] There was, of course, an ancient British Church long before the sixth century, and there is evidence that it existed in the middle of the second century. It sent bishops to the Council of Arles in 314, and there is a church at Canterbury in which Queen Bertha's chaplain celebrated some twenty-five years before the coming of Augustine. But its origin is shrouded in mystery, and it had been practically extinguished by Jutes, Saxons, and Angles before Augustine arrived. "Of the ancient British Church," writes Bishop Stubbs, in an unpublished letter, "we must be content to admit that history tells us next to nothing, and that what glimmerings of truth we think we can discover in legend grow fainter and fainter the more closely they are examined. Authentic records there are none." Some ascribe the first preaching of the Gospel in Britain to St. Peter, others to St. Paul, or St. James, or St. Simon Zelotes, and the monks of Glastonbury ascribe it to their founder, Joseph of Arimathea, who was, they say, sent to Britain by St. Philip with eleven others in A.D. 63. Cf. letter of Dr. Bright to "The Guardian," 14 March, 1888, and see "Letters and Memoirs of William Bright," pp. 267 seq.

[6] i.e. the English, as distinct from the British Church.

[7] "The word Establishment," writes Bishop Stubbs, "means, of course, the national recognition of our Church as a Christian Church, as the representment of the religious life of the nation as historically worked out and by means of property and discipline enabled to discharge, so far as outward discharge can insure it, the effectual performance of the duties that membership of a Christian Church involves. It means the national recognition of a system by which every inch of land in England, and every living soul in the population is assigned to a ministration of help, teaching, advice, and comfort of religion, a system in which every English man woman and child has a right to the service of a clergyman and to a home of spiritual life in the service of the Church" ("Visitation Charges," p. 303).

[8] A State can, of course, endow, as well as establish, any form of religion it selects. It has a perfect right to do so. But the State has never endowed the Church of England, and it can only disendow it in the sense that it can rob it of its own endowments—just as it can, by Act of Parliament, rob any business man of his money. It has done this once already. At the Great Rebellion, the Church of England was, in this sense, disestablished and disendowed. By the Act of Uniformity of Charles II, it was reinstated into the rights and liberties from which it had been deposed. But it remained the same Church which Augustine established in England all the time. Its reinstatement no more made the Church a new Church, than the restoration of Charles II made the monarchy a new monarchy.

[9] It is sometimes asked, Does not the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords constitute an Established Church? No. Representatives from all the sects might, and some probably will, sit there without either making their sect the established Church of the country, or unmaking the Catholic Church the Church of the country. Bishops have sat in the House of Lords ever since there has been a House of Lords to sit in, but neither their exclusion, nor the inclusion of non-Bishops, would disestablish the Church of England.

It is also asked, do not the Prime Ministers make the Bishops? Prime Ministers, as we shall see, do not make but nominate the Bishops.

[10] Augustine is worried, as we are worried, by the variety of customs in different Churches, and asks Pope Gregory "why one custom of masses is observed in the Holy Roman Church and another in the Church of the Gallic Provinces". "My brother knows," replied Gregory, "the custom of the Roman Church in which he was brought up. But my pleasure is that you should, with great care, select whatever you think will best please Almighty God wherever you find it, whether in the Church of Rome, or in the Church of Gaul, or in any other Church, and then plant firmly in the Church of the English that which you have selected from many Churches.... Choose, then, from each individual Church things pious, religious, righteous, and having, as it were, collected them into a volume, deposit them with the minds of the English as their custom, their Use."

[11] Art. XIX.

[12] "I protest," wrote Archbishop Cranmer, "and openly confess that, in all my doctrine, whatsoever it be, not only I mean and judge those things as the Catholic Church, and the most holy Fathers of old, with one accord, have meant and judged, but also I would gladly use the same words which they used, and not use any other words, but to set my hand to all and singular their speeches, phrases, ways, and forms of speech, which they did use in their treatise upon the Sacraments, and to keep still their interpretation."

[13] See Preface to the Prayer Book.

[14] The Edict of the Diet (or Council) of Spires.



{21}

CHAPTER II.

THE CHURCH'S BOOKS.

For the purpose of these lectures, we will select two:—

(1) The Bible, the possession of the whole Church.

(2) The Prayer Book, the possession of the Church of England.



(1) THE BIBLE.

And notice: first, the Church; then, the Bible—first the Society, then its Publications; first the Writers; then the Writings; first the Messenger, then the Message; first the Agent, then the Agencies.

This is the Divine Order. Preaching, not writing, was the Apostolic method. Oral teaching preceded the written word. Then, later on, lest this oral teaching should be lost, forgotten, or misquoted, it was gradually committed to {22} manuscript, and its "good tidings" published in writing for the Church's children.

It is very important to remember this order ("first the Church, and then the Bible"), because thousands of souls lived and died long before the New Testament was written. The earliest books of the New Testament (the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians) were not written for twenty years after the Day of Pentecost; the earliest Gospel (St. Mark) was not committed to writing before A.D. 65. And, even if the Bible had been written earlier, few could have read it; and even then few could have possessed it. It was a rare book, wholly out of reach of "the people". The first Bible was not printed until 1445.

But, thank God, the Church, which wrote the book, could teach without the book; and we may be sure that no single soul was lost for the want of what it could not possess. "Without a Bible," says St. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, "they received, from the Church, teaching sufficient for the salvation of their souls."

Then, again, the Church alone could decide which books were, and which books were not, "the Scriptures". How else could we know? The society authorizes its publications. It affixes {23} its seal only to the books it has issued. So with the Divine Society, the Church. It affixes its seal to the books we now know as the Bible. How do we know, for instance, that St. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians are part of the Bible, and that St. Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians is not part of the Bible? Because, and only because, the Church has so decided. If we had lived in the days of persecution it would have made a considerable difference to us whether this or that sacred book was included in the Christian Scriptures. Thus, when the early Christians were ordered by Diocletian to "bring out their books," and either burn them or die for them, it became a matter of vital importance to know which these books were. Who could tell them this? Only the society which published them, only the Church.

Again, the Church, and only the Church, is the final interpreter of the Bible—it is the "witness and keeper of holy writ".[1] The society which publishes a statement must be the final interpreter of that statement. Probably no book ever published needed authoritative interpretation more than the Bible. We call it "the book of {24} peace"; it is in reality a book of war. No book has spread more discord than the Bible. Every sect in the world quotes the Bible as the source and justification of its existence. Men, equally learned, devout, prayerful, deduce the most opposite conclusions from the very same words. Two men, we will say, honestly and earnestly seek to know what the Bible teaches about Baptismal Regeneration, or the Blessed Sacrament. They have exactly the same data to go upon, precisely the same statements before them; yet, from the same premises, they will deduce a diametrically opposite conclusion. Hence, party wrangling, and sectarian bitterness; hence, the confusion of tongues, which has changed our Zion into Babel. Indeed, as we all know, so sharp was the contention in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, that translations of the Bible were actually forbidden by two local Church Councils.[2]

An interpreter is as much needed now, as in the days of the Ethiopian Eunuch. "How readest thou?"[3] is a question second only in {25} importance (if, indeed, it is second) to "What is written?" Upon "how" we read, will very largely depend the value of "what" we read. We go, then, to the Church to interpret the book which it gave us.

And notice—to say this, is not to disparage the Scriptures because we exalt the Church. It is to put both Church and Scriptures in their true, historical place. We do not disparage a publication because we exalt the society which issues that publication; rather, we honour the one by exalting the other. Thus, when we say that the creeds interpret the Bible, we do not disparage the Bible because we exalt the creeds, any more than we disparage the Church when we say that the Bible proves the creeds. Take the "Virgin Birth," as a single illustration. Are we to believe that our Blessed Lord was "born of the Virgin Mary"? Church and Bible give the same reply. The Church taught it before the Bible recorded it; the Bible recorded it because the Church taught it. For us, as Churchmen, the matter is settled once and for all by the Apostles' Creed. Here we have the official and authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church, as proved by the New Testament; "born of the Virgin Mary".

{26}

It is this Bible, the Church's Manual of doctrine and devotion, that we are to think of.

We will think of it under five familiar names:—

(I) The Scriptures. (II) The Bible. (III) The Word of God. (IV) Inspiration. (V) Revelation.



(I) THE SCRIPTURES.

This was the earliest name by which the Bible was known—the name by which it was called for the first 1200 years in Church history. It was so named by the Latin Fathers in the fifth century, and it means, of course, "The Writings". These "Scriptures," or "Writings," were not, as the plural form of the word reminds us, one book, but many books, afterwards gathered into one book.[4] They were a library of separate books, called by St. Irenaeus "The Divine Library"—perhaps {27} the best and most descriptive name the Bible ever had. This library consists of sixty-six books, not all written at one period, or for one age, but extending over a period of, at least, 1200 years.

The original copies of these writings, or Scriptures, have not yet been discovered, though we have extant three very early copies of them, written "by hand". These are known as the Alexandrine manuscript (or Codex), the Vatican manuscript, and the Sinaitic manuscript. Where may they be found?

One, dating from the latter part of the fourth, or the early part of the fifth century, is in the British Museum—a priceless treasure, which comparatively few have taken the trouble to go and see. It is known as the Alexandrine manuscript, and was presented to Charles I by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1628. It consists of four volumes, three of which contain nearly all the Old Testament, and parts of the Apocrypha, and a fourth, containing a large part of the New Testament.

A second manuscript, dating from the fourth century, is in the Vatican Library in Rome, and is, therefore, known as the Vatican manuscript. {28} It contains nearly the whole of both the Old and New Testaments, and of the Apocrypha.

The third manuscript, dating also from the fourth century, is in the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg. It was discovered by Prof. Tischendorf, in 1859, in a basket of fragments, destined to be burned, in the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai; hence it is called the Sinaitic manuscript.

These are the three earliest MS. collections of the Bible as yet discovered—and strange stories, of mystic beauty, and, it may be, of weird persecution, they could tell if only they could speak. Other manuscripts we have—copies of ancient manuscripts; versions of ancient manuscripts; translations of ancient manuscripts; texts of ancient manuscripts. So they come down the ages, till, at last, we reach our own "Revised Version," probably the most accurate and trustworthy version in existence.

"The Scriptures," or "the Writings," then, consist of many books, and in this very fact, they tell their own tale—the tale of diversity in unity. They were written for divers ages, divers intellects, divers nations, in divers languages, by divers authors or compilers. They were not all {29} written for the twentieth century, though they all have a message for the twentieth century; they were not all written for the English people, though they all have a truth for the English people; they were not all written by the same hand, though the same Hand guided all the writers. In, and through the Scriptures, "God, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets"; and in, and through them, He "hath in these last days, spoken unto us by His Son".[5]

Time passes, and these sixty-six books, written at different periods, in different styles, in different dialects, are gathered together in one book, called "The Book," or The Bible.



(II) THE BIBLE.

It was so named by the Greek Fathers in the thirteenth century, hundreds of years after its earliest name, "The Scriptures". The word is derived from the Greek Biblia, books, and originally meant the Egyptian papyrus (or paper-reed) from which paper was first made. A "bible," then, was originally any book made of paper, and {30} the name was afterwards given to the "Book of Books"—"The Bible".

Here, then, are sixty-six volumes bound together in one volume. This, too, tells its own tale. If "The Scriptures," or scattered writings, speak of diversity in unity, "The Bible," or collected writings, tells of unity in diversity. Each separate book has its own most sacred message, while one central, unifying thought dominates all—the Incarnate Son of God. The Old Testament writings foretell His coming ("They are they which testify of me"[6]); the New Testament writings proclaim His Advent ("The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"[7]). Thus, all the books become one book.

Many the tongues, The theme is one, The glory of the Eternal Son.

Take away that central Figure, and both the background of the Old Testament and the foreground of the New become dull, sunless, colourless. Reinstate that central Figure, and book after book, roll after roll, volume after volume, becomes bright, sunny, intelligible.

This it is which separates the Bible from every other book; this it is which makes it the worthiest {31} of all books for reverent, prayerful criticism; this it is which makes its words nuggets of gold, "dearer unto me than thousands of gold and silver"; this it is which gives the Bible its third name:—



(III) THE WORD OF GOD.

In what sense is the Bible the Word of God? Almost any answer must hurt some, and almost every answer must disappoint others. For a time, the "old school" and the "new school" must bear with each other, neither counting itself "to have apprehended," but each pressing forward to attain results.

In speaking of the Bible, we commonly meet with two extreme classes: on the one hand, there are those who hold that every syllable is the Word of God, and therefore outside all criticism; on the other hand, there are those who hold that the Bible is no more the "Word of God" than any other book, and may, therefore, be handled and criticized just like any other book. In between these two extremes, there is another class, which holds that the Bible is the Word of God, and that just because it is the Word of God, it is—above all other books—an "open Bible," a {32} book open for sacred study, devout debate, reverent criticism.

The first class holds that every one of the 925,877 words in the Bible is as literally "God's Word" as if no human hand had written it. Thus, Dean Burgon writes: "Every word of it, every chapter of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High.... Every syllable is just what it would have been ... without the intervention of any human agent." This, of course, creates hopeless difficulties. For instance, in the Authorized Version (to take but one single version) there are obvious insertions, such as St. Mark xvi. 9-20, which may not be "the Word of God" at all. There are obvious misquotations, such as in the seven variations in St. Stephen's speech.[8] There are obvious doubts about accurate translations, where the marginal notes give alternative readings. There are obvious mistakes by modern printers, as there were by ancient copyists.[9] There are three versions of the Psalms now in use (the Authorized Version, the Revised Version, and the Prayer-Book Version), all differing {33} from each other. The translators of the Authorized Version wish, they say, to make "one more exact translation of the Scriptures," and one-third of the translators of the Revised Version constantly differs from the other two-thirds. Here, clearly, the human agent is at work.

Then there are those who, perhaps from a natural reaction, deny that any word in the Bible is in any special sense "the Word of God". But this, too, creates hopeless difficulties, and satisfies no serious student. If the Bible is, in no special sense, the Word of God, there is absolutely no satisfactory explanation of its unique position and career in history. It is a great fact which remains unaccounted for. Moreover, no evidence exists which suggests that the writers who call it the Word of God were either frauds or dupes, or that they were deceived when they proclaimed "God spake these words, and said"; or, "Thus saith the Lord"; or, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ by His servant John". There must, upon the lowest ground, be a sense in which it may be truly said that the Bible is the Word of God as no other book is. This we may consider under the fourth name, Inspiration.



{34}

(IV) INSPIRATION.

What do we mean by the word? The Church has nowhere defined it, and we are not tied to any one interpretation; but the Bible itself suggests a possible meaning.

It is the Word of God heard through the voice of man.

Think of some such expression as: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave by His angel unto His servant John" (Rev. i. 1). Here two facts are stated: (1) The revelation is from Jesus Christ; (2) It was given through a human agent—John. God gave it; man conveyed it. Again: "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. i. 21). The Holy Ghost moved them; they spake: the speakers, not the writings, were inspired. Again: "As He spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets"[10] (St. Luke i. 70). He spake; but He spake through the mouthpiece of the human agent. And once again, as the Collect for the second Sunday in Advent tells us, it is the "blessed Lord Who (hast) caused all Holy Scriptures to be written". God was the initiating {35} cause of writings: man was the inspired writer. Each messenger received the message, but each passed it on in his own way. It was with each as it was with Haggai: "Then spake Haggai, the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message" (Haggai i. 13). The message was Divine, though the messenger was human; the message was infallible, though the messenger was fallible; the vessel was earthen, though the contents were golden. In this unique sense, the Bible is indeed "the Word of God". It is the "Word of God," delivered in the words of man.

Thus, as Dr. Sanday puts it, the Bible is, at once, both human and Divine; not less Divine because thoroughly human, and not less human because essentially Divine. We need not necessarily parcel it out and say such and such things are human and such and such things are Divine, though there are instances in which we may do this, and the Scriptures would justify us in so doing. There will be much in Holy Scripture which is at once very human and very Divine. The two aspects are not incompatible with each other; rather, they are intimately united. Look at them in one light, and you will see the one; look at them in another light, and you will see {36} the other. But the substance of that which gives these different impressions is one and the same.

It is from no irreverence, but because of the over-towering importance of the book, that the best scholars (devout, prayerful scholars, as well as the reverse) have given the best of their lives to the study of its text, its history, its writers, its contents.

Their criticism has, as we know, been classified under three heads:—

(1) Lower, or textual criticism. (2) Higher, or documentary criticism. (3) Historical, or contemporary criticism.

Lower criticism seeks for, and studies, the best and purest text obtainable—the text nearest to the original, from which fresh translations can be made.

Higher criticism seeks for, and studies, documents: it deals with the authenticity of different books, the date at which they were written, the names of their authors.

Historical criticism seeks for, and studies, data relating to the history of the times when each book was written, and the light thrown upon that history by recent discoveries (e.g. in archaeology, and excavations in Palestine).

{37}

No very definite results have yet been reached on many points of criticism, and, on many of them, scholars have had again and again to reverse their conclusions. We are still only en route, and are learning more and more to possess our souls in patience, and to wait awhile for anything in the nature of finality. Meanwhile, the living substance is unshaken and untouched.

This living substance, entrusted to living men, is the revelation of God to man, and leads us to our last selected name—Revelation.



(V) REVELATION.

The Bible is the revelation of the Blessed Trinity to man—of God the Son, by God the Father, through God the Holy Ghost. It is the revelation of God to man, and in man. First, it reveals God to man—"pleased as Man with man to dwell". In it, God stands in front of man, and, through the God-Man, shows him what God is like. It reveals God as the "pattern on the mount," for man to copy on the plain. But it does more than this: it reveals God in man. So St. Paul writes: "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me";[11] and again, "God hath {38} shined in our hearts".[12] The Bible reveals to me that Jesus, the revelation of the Father, through the Eternal Spirit, dwells in me, as well as outside me. He is a power within, as well as a pattern without.

Yet again. The Bible reveals God's purpose for man. There is no such other revelation of that purpose. You cannot deduce God's purpose either in man's life, or in his twentieth century environment. It can only be fully deduced from Revelation. Man may seem temporarily to defeat God's purpose, to postpone its accomplishment; but Revelation (and nothing but Revelation) proclaims that "the Word of the Lord standeth sure," and that God's primal purpose is God's final purpose.

Lastly, the Bible is the revelation of a future state. Things begun here will be completed there. As such, it gives man a hope on which to build a belief, and a belief on which to found a hope.

We must believe, For still we hope That, in a world of larger scope, What here is faithfully begun Will be completed, not undone.

{39}

Thus, we may, perhaps, find in these five familiar names, brief headings for leisure thoughts. In them, we see the Scriptures, or many books, gathered together into one book called The Book. In this book, we see the Word of God delivered to men by men, and these men inspired by God to be the living media of the Revelation of God to man.

Our next selected book will be the Church of England Prayer Book.



[1] Art. XX.

[2] The Council of Toulouse, 1229, and the Council of Trent, 1545-63.

[3] St. Luke x. 26,

[4] The first division of the Bible into chapters is attributed either to Cardinal Hugo, for convenience in compiling his Concordance of the Vulgate (about 1240), or to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (about 1228), to facilitate quotation. Verses were introduced into the New Testament by Robert Stephens, 1551. It is said that he did the work on a journey from Paris to Lyons.

[5] Heb. i. 1, 2.

[6] St. John v. 39.

[7] St. John i. 14.

[8] Acts VII.

[9] The University Presses offer L1 1s. for every such hitherto undiscovered inaccuracy brought to their notice.

[10] This is the Church's description of Inspiration in the Nicene Creed: "Who spake by the Prophets".

[11] Gal. i. 15, 16.

[12] 2 Cor. iv. 6.



{40}

CHAPTER III.

THE CHURCH'S BOOKS.

(2) THE PRAYER BOOK.

We now come to the second of the Church's books selected for discussion—the Prayer Book.

The English Prayer Book is the local presentment of the Church's Liturgies for the English people.

Each part of the Church has its own Liturgy, differing in detail, language, form; but all teaching the same faith, all based upon the same rule laid down by Gregory for Augustine's guidance.[1] Thus, there is the Liturgy of St. James, the Liturgy of St. John,[2] the Liturgy of St. Mark, and others. A National Church is within her rights when she compiles a Liturgy for National Use, provided that it is in harmony with the basic Liturgies of the Undivided Church. She has {41} as much right to her local "Use," with its rules and ritual, as a local post office has to its own local regulations, provided it does not infringe any universal rule of the General Post Office. For example, a National Church has a perfect right to say in what language her Liturgy shall be used. When the English Prayer Book orders her Liturgy to be said in "the vulgar,"[3] or common, "tongue" of the people, she is not infringing, but exercising a local right which belongs to her as part of the Church Universal. This is what the English Church has done in the English Prayer Book.

It is this Prayer Book that we are now to consider.

We will try to review, or get a bird's-eye view of it as a whole, rather than attempt to go into detail. And, as the best reviewer is the one who lets a book tell its own story, and reads the author's meaning out of it rather than his own theories into it, we will let the book, as far as possible, speak for itself.

Now, in reviewing a book, the reviewer will probably look at three things: the title, the preface, the contents.



{42}

(I) THE TITLE.

"The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England."

Here are three clear statements: (1) it is "The Book of Common Prayer "; (2) it is the local "directory" for the "Administration of the Sacraments of the Church," i.e. of the Universal Church; (3) this directory is called the "Use of the Church of England". Think of each statement in turn.

(1) It is "The Book of Common Prayer".—"Common Prayer"[4] was the name given to public worship in the middle of the sixteenth century. The Book of Common Prayer is the volume in which the various services were gathered together for common use. It is many books in one book. As the Bible is one book made up of sixty-six books, so the Prayer Book is one book made up of six books. These books, revised and abbreviated for English "Use," were:—

{43}

(1) The Pontifical. (2) The Missal. (3) The Gospels. (4) The Gradual. (5) The Breviary. (6) The Manual.

Before the invention of printing, these books were written in manuscript, and were too heavy to carry about bound together in one volume. Each, therefore, was carried by the user separately. Thus, when the Bishop, or Pontifex, was ordaining or confirming, he carried with him a separate book containing the offices for Ordination and Confirmation; and, because it contained the offices used by the Bishop, or Pontiff, it was called the Pontifical. When a priest wished to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, he used a separate book called "The Missal" (from the Latin Missa, a Mass[5]). When, in the Eucharist, the deacon read the Gospel for the day, he read it from a separate book called "The Gospels". When he {44} went in procession to read it, the choir sang scriptural phrases out of a separate book called "The Gradual" (from the Latin gradus, a step), because they were sung in gradibus, i.e. upon the steps of the pulpit, or rood-loft, from which the Gospel was read. When the clergy said their offices at certain fixed "Hours," they used a separate book called "The Breviary" (from the Latin brevis, short), because it contained the brief, or short, writings which constituted the office, out of which our English Matins and Evensong were practically formed. When services for such as needed Baptism, Matrimony, Unction, Burial, were required, some light book that could easily be carried in the hand was used, and this was called "The Manual" (from the Latin manus, a hand).

These six books, written in Latin, were, in 1549, shortened, and, with various alterations, translated into English, bound in one volume, which is called "The Book of Common Prayer".

Alterations, some good and some bad, have from time to time been adopted, and revisions made; but the Prayer Book is now the same in substance as it always has been—a faithful reproduction, in all essentials, of the worship and {45} teaching of the Undivided Church. As we all know, a further revision is now contemplated. All agree that it is needed; all would like to amend the Prayer Book in one direction or another; but there is a sharp contention as to whether this is the time for revision, and what line the revision should take. The nature of the last attempted revision, in the reign of William III,[6] will make the liturgical student profoundly grateful that that proposed revision was rejected, and will suggest infinite caution before entrusting a new revision to any but proved experts, and liturgical specialists.[7]

Whatever changes are made, they should, at least, be based on two principles—permanence and progress. The essence of progress is loyalty to the past. Nothing should be touched that is a permanent part of the Ancient Office Books; nothing should be omitted, or added, that is outside the teaching of the Universal Church. For the immediate present, we would ask that the {46} Prayer Book should be left untouched, but that an Appendix, consisting of many unauthorized services now in use, should be "put forth by authority," i.e. by the sanction of the Bishops.

(2) The Administration of the Sacraments of the Church.—The Sacraments are the treasures of the whole Church; the way in which they may be "administered" is left to the decision of that part of the Church in which they are administered. Take, once again, the question of language. One part of the Church has as much right to administer the Sacraments in English as another part has to administer them in Latin, or another part in Greek. For instance, the words, "This is My Body" in the English Liturgy are quite as near to the original as "Hoc est Corpus Meum" is in the Latin Liturgy. Each Church has a right to make its own regulations for its own people.

So with "rites and ceremonies". Provided the essence of the Sacrament is not touched, the addition or omission of particular rites and ceremonies does not affect the validity of the Sacrament. For, the title of the Prayer Book carefully distinguishes between "The Church" and "The Church of England," "the Sacraments" and the "administration of the Sacraments". It is for {47} administrative purposes that there is an English "Use," i.e. an English method of administering the Sacraments of the Universal Church. It is this use which the title-page calls:—

(3) The Use of the Church of England.—This "Use" may vary at different times, and even in different dioceses. We read of one "Use" in the Diocese of York; another in the Diocese of Sarum, or Salisbury; another in the Diocese of Hereford; another in the Diocese of Bangor; and so on. Indeed, there were so many different Uses at one time that, for the sake of unity, one Use was substituted for many; and that Use, sufficient in all essentials, is found in our "Book of Common Prayer ".



(II) THE PREFACE.

It was written, in 1661, by Bishop Sanderson, and amended by the Upper House of Convocation.

What, we ask, do these preface-writers say about the book to which they gave their imprimatur?

First, they state their position. They have no intention whatever of writing a new book. Their aim is to adapt old books to new needs. {48} Adaptation, not invention, is their aim. Four times in their short Preface they refer us to "the ancient Fathers" as their guides.

Next, they state their object. Two dangers, they tell us, have to be avoided. In compiling a Liturgy from Ancient Sources, one danger will be that of "too much stiffness in refusing" new matter—i.e. letting a love of permanence spoil progress: another, and opposite danger, will be "too much easiness in admitting" any variation—i.e. letting a love of progress spoil permanence. They will try to avoid both dangers. "It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England to keep the mean between the two extremes," when either extreme runs away from the "faith once delivered to the Saints ".

Another object they had in view was to give a prominent place to Holy Scripture. "So that here," they say, "you have an Order for Prayer, and for the reading of the Holy Scriptures, much agreeable to the mind and purpose of the old Fathers."

Next, they deal with the principles which underlie all ritualism. In speaking "of Ceremonies, why some be abolished and some {49} retained," they lay it down that, "although the keeping or admitting of a Ceremony, in itself considered, is but a small thing, yet the wilful and contemptuous transgression and breaking of a Common Order and discipline is no small offence before God". Then, in a golden sentence, they add: "Whereas the minds of men are so diverse that some think it a great matter of conscience to depart from a piece of the least of their ceremonies, they be so addicted to their old customs; and, again, on the other side, some be so new-fangled that they would innovate all things, and so despise the old, that nothing can like them, but that is new: it was thought expedient, not so much to have respect how to please and satisfy either of these parties, as how to please God, and profit them both".

Finally, whilst wishing to ease men from the oppressive burden of a multitude of ceremonies, "whereof St. Augustine, in his time, complained," they assert the right of each Church to make its own ritual-rules (in conformity with the rules of the whole Church), provided that it imposes them on no one else. "And in these our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe anything but to our own people only; for we think it {50} convenient that every country should use such ceremonies as they shall think best."

It is necessary to call attention to all this, because few Church people seem to know anything about the intentions, objects, and principles of the compilers, as stated by themselves in the Prayer Book Preface.



(III) THE CONTENTS.

These a reviewer might briefly deal with under three heads—Doctrine, Discipline, and Devotion.

Doctrine.

The importance of this cannot be exaggerated. The English Prayer Book is, for the ordinary Churchman, a standard of authority when theological doctors differ. The Prayer Book is the Court of Appeal from the pulpit—just as the Undivided Church is the final Court of Appeal from the Prayer Book. Many a man is honestly puzzled and worried at the charge so frequently levelled at the Church of England, that one preacher flatly contradicts another, and that what is taught as truth in one church is denied as heresy in another. This is, of course, by no {51} means peculiar to the Church of England, but it is none the less a loss to the unity of Christendom.

The whole mischief arises from treating the individual preacher as if he were the Book of Common Prayer. It is to the Prayer Book, not to the Pulpit, that we must go to prove what is taught. For instance, I go into one church, and I hear one preacher deny the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration; I go into another, and I hear the same doctrine taught as the very essence of The Faith. I ask, in despair, what does the Church of England teach? which teacher am I to believe? What is the answer? It is this. I am not bound to believe either teacher, until I have tested his utterances by some authorized book. This book is the Prayer Book. What does the Church of England Prayer Book—not this or that preacher—say is the teaching of the Church of England? In the case quoted, this is the Prayer Book answer: "Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate".[8] Here is something clear, crisp, definite. It is the authorized expression of the belief of the Church of England in common with the whole Catholic Church.

{52}

Or, I hear two sermons on conversion. In one, conversion is almost sneered at, or, at least, apologized for; in another, it is taught with all the fervour of a personal experience. What am I to believe? What does the Church of England teach about it? What does the Prayer Book say? Open it at the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, or at the third Collect for Good Friday, and you will hear a trumpet which gives no uncertain sound.

Or, I am wondering and worried about Confession and Absolution. What does the Church of England teach about them? One preacher says one thing, one another. But what is the Church of England's authoritative utterance on the subject? Open your Prayer Book, and you will see: you will find that, with the rest of the Christian Church, she provides for both, in public and in private, for the strong, and for the sick.

This, at least, is the view an honest onlooker will take of our position. A common-sense Nonconformist minister, wishing to teach his people and to get at facts, studies the English Prayer Book. This is his conclusion: "Free Churchmen," he writes, "dissent from much of the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer. In {53} the service of Baptism, expressions are used which naturally lead persons to regard it as a means of salvation. God is asked to 'sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin'. After Baptism, God is thanked for having 'regenerated the child with His Holy Spirit'. It is called the 'laver of regeneration,' by which the child, being born in sin, is received into the number of God's children. In the Catechism, the child is taught to say of Baptism, 'wherein I was made the child of God'. It is said to be 'generally necessary to salvation,' and the rubric declares that children who are baptized, and die before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved'."[9] What could be a fairer statement of the Prayer-Book teaching? And he goes on: "In the visitation of the sick, if the sick person makes a confession of his sins, and 'if he heartily and humbly desire it,' the Priest is bidden to absolve him. The form of Absolution is '... I absolve thee from all thy sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost'. In the Ordination Service, the Bishop confers the power of Absolution upon the Priest." Nothing could be fairer. It is precisely what the Church {54} of England does teach in her authorized formularies which Archbishop Cranmer gathered together from the old Service-books of the ancient Church of England.

The pulpit passes: the Prayer Book remains.

Discipline.

The Prayer Book deals with principles, rather than with details—though details have their place. It is a book of discipline, "as well for the body as the soul". It disciplines the body for the sake of the soul; it disciplines the soul for the sake of the body. Now it tightens, now it relaxes, the human bow. For example, in the Table of Feasts and Fasts, it lays down one principle which underlies all bodily and spiritual discipline—the need of training to obtain self-control. The principle laid down is that I am to discipline myself at stated times and seasons, in order that I may not be undisciplined at any times or seasons. I am to rejoice as a duty on certain days, that I may live in the joy of the Redeemed on other days. Feasts and Fasts have a meaning, and I cannot deliberately ignore the Prayer-Book Table without suffering loss.

It is the same with the rubrical directions as to {55} ritual. I am ordered to stand when praising, to kneel when praying. The underlying principle is that I am not to do things in my own way, without regard to others, but to do them in an orderly way, and as one of many. I am learning to sink the individual in the society. So with the directions as to vestments—whether they are the Eucharistic vestments, ordered by the "Ornaments Rubric," or the preacher's Geneva gown not ordered anywhere. The principle laid down is, special things for special occasions; all else is a matter of degree. One form of Ceremonial will appeal to one temperament, a different form to another. "I like a grand Ceremonial," writes Dr. Bright, "and I own that Lights and Vestments give me real pleasure. But then I should be absurd if I expected that everybody else, who had the same faith as myself, should necessarily have the same feeling as to the form of its expression."[10] From the subjective and disciplinary point of view, the mark of the Cross must be stamped on many of our own likes and dislikes, both in going without, and in bearing with, ceremonial, especially in small towns and villages where there is only one church. The principle {56} which says, "You shan't have it because I don't like it," or, "You shall have it because I do like it," leads to all sorts of confusion. As Dr. Liddon says: "When men know what the revelation of God in His Blessed Son really is, all else follows in due time—reverence on one side and charity on the other".[11]



Devotion.

Reading the Prayer Book as it stands, from Matins to the Consecration of an Archbishop, no reviewer could miss its devotional beauty. It is, perhaps, a misfortune that the most beautiful Office of the Christian Church, the Eucharistic Office, should come in the middle, instead of at the beginning, of our Prayer Book, first in order as first in importance. Its character, though capable of much enrichment, reminds us of how much devotional beauty the Prayer Book has from ancient sources. In our jealous zeal for more beauty we are, perhaps, apt to underrate much that we already possess. God won't give us more than we have until we have learnt to value that which we possess.

It is impossible, in the time that remains, to {57} do more than emphasize one special form of beauty in "The Book of Common Prayer"—The Collects. The Prayer-Book Collects are pictures of beauty. Only compare a modern collect with the Prayer-Book Collects, and you will see the difference without much looking.

Learn to value the Prayer Book. From birth to death it provides, as we shall see, special offices, and special prayers for the main events of our lives, though many minor events are still unprovided for.



[1] See p. 13.

[2] Possibly, the origin of the British Liturgy revised by St. Augustine, and of the present Liturgy of the English Church.

[3] From vulgus, a crowd.

[4] Cf. Acts iv. 24, "They lifted up their voices with one accord".

[5] The word Mass, which has caused such storms of controversy, originally meant a dismissal of the congregation. It is found in words such as Christ-mas (i.e. a short name for the Eucharist on the Feast of the Nativity), Candle-mas, Martin-mas, Michael-mas, and so on.

[6] This was published in extenso in a Blue Book, issued by the Government on 2 June, 1854.

[7] It is difficult to see how any revision could obtain legal sanction, even if prepared by Convocation, save by an Act of Parliament after free discussion by the present House of Commons.

[8] Public Baptism of Infants.

[9] "The Folkestone Baptist," June, 1899.

[10] "Letters and Memoirs of William Bright," p. 143.

[11] "Life and Letters of H. P. Liddon," p. 329.



{58}

CHAPTER IV.

THE CHURCH'S SACRAMENTS.

We have seen that a National Church is the means whereby the Catholic Church reaches the nation; that her function is (1) to teach, and (2) to feed the nation; that she teaches through her books, and feeds through her Sacraments.

We now come to the second of these two functions—the spiritual feeding of the nation. This she does through the Sacraments—a word which comes from the Latin sacrare (from sacer), sacred.[1] The Sacraments are the sacred media through which the soul of man is fed with the grace of God.

{59}

We may think of them under three heads:—their number; their nature; their names.



(I) THE NUMBER OF THE SACRAMENTS.

In the early Church the number was unlimited. After the twelfth century, the number was technically limited to seven. Partly owing to the mystic number seven,[2] and partly because seven seemed to meet the needs of all sorts and conditions of men, the septenary number of Sacraments became either fixed or special. The Latin Church taught that there were "seven, and seven only": the Greek Church specialized seven, without limiting their number: the English Church picked out seven, specializing two as "generally necessary to salvation"[3] and five (such as Confirmation and Marriage) as "commonly called Sacraments".[4]

The English Church, then, teaches that, without arbitrarily limiting their number, there are seven special means of grace, either "generally necessary" for all, or specially provided for some. And, as amongst her books she selects two, and calls them "The Bible," and "The Prayer {60} Book," so amongst her Sacraments she deliberately marks out two for a primacy of honour.

These two are so supreme, as being "ordained by Christ Himself"; so pre-eminent, as flowing directly from the Wounded Side, that she calls them "the Sacraments of the Gospel". They are, above all other Sacraments, "glad tidings of great joy" to every human being. And these two are "generally necessary," i.e. necessary for all alike—they are generaliter, i.e. for all and not only for special states (such as Holy Orders): they are "for every man in his vocation and ministry". The other five are not necessarily essential for all. They have not all "the like nature of Sacraments of the Gospel," in that they were not all "ordained by Christ Himself". It is the nature of the two Sacraments of the Gospel that we now consider.



(II) THE NATURE OF THE SACRAMENTS.

"What meanest thou by this word, Sacrament?" The Catechism, confining its answer to the two greater Sacraments, replies: "I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace..."[5]

{61}

Putting this into more modern language, we might say that a Sacrament is a supernatural conjunction of spirit and matter.[6] It is not matter only; it is not spirit only; it is not matter opposed to spirit, but spirit of which matter is the expression, and "the ultimate reality". Thus, for a perfect Sacrament, there must be both "the outward and visible" (matter), and "the inward and spiritual" (spirit). It is the conjunction of the two which makes the Sacrament. Thus, a Sacrament is not wholly under the conditions of material laws, nor is it wholly under the conditions of spiritual laws; it is under the conditions of what (for lack of any other name) we call Sacramental laws. As yet, we know comparatively little of either material or spiritual laws, and we cannot be surprised that we know still less of Sacramental laws. We are in the student stage, and are perpetually revising our conclusions. {62} In all three cases, we very largely "walk by faith".

But this at least we may say of Sacraments. Matter without spirit cannot effect that which matter with spirit can, and does, effect. As in the Incarnation, God[7] expresses Himself through matter[8]—so it is in the Sacraments. In Baptism, the Holy Spirit "expresses Himself" through water: in the Eucharist, through bread and wine. In each case, the perfect integrity of matter and of spirit are essential to the validity of the Sacrament. In each case, it is the conjunction of the two which guarantees the full effect of either.[9]



(III) THE NAMES OF THE SACRAMENTS.

As given in the Prayer Book, these are seven—"Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord," Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Unction.

We will think now of the two first.



[1] St. Leo defines a Sacrament thus: "Sacramentum. (1) It originally signified the pledge or deposit in money which in certain suits according to Roman Law plaintiff and defendant were alike bound to make; (2) it came to signify a pledge of military fidelity, a voluntary oath; (3) then the exacted oath of allegiance; (4) any oath whatever; (5) in early Christian use any sacred or solemn act, and especially any mystery where more was meant than met the ear or eye" (Blight's "Select Sermons of St. Leo on the Incarnation," p. 136).

[2] Symbolical of completion.

[3] Church Catechism.

[4] Article XXV.

[5] The answer is borrowed from Peter Lombard (a pupil of Abelard and Professor of Theology, and for a short time Bishop of Paris), who defines a Sacrament as a "visible sign of an invisible grace," probably himself borrowing the thought from St. Augustine.

[6] Dr. Illingworth calls "the material order another aspect of the spiritual, which is gradually revealing itself through material concealment, in the greater and lesser Christian Sacraments, which radiate from the Incarnation" ("Sermons Preached in a College Chapel," p. 173).

[7] God is Spirit, St. John iv. 24.

[8] The Word was made Flesh, St. John i. 14.

[9] The water in Baptism is not, of course, consecrated, as the bread and wine are in the Eucharist. It does not, like the bread and wine, "become what it was not, without ceasing to be what it was," but it is "sanctified to the mystical washing away of sins".



{63}

CHAPTER V.

BAPTISM.

Consider, What it is; What it does; How it does it.



(I) WHAT IT IS.

The Sacrament of Baptism is the supernatural conjunction of matter and spirit—of water and the Holy Ghost. Water must be there, and spirit must be there. It is by the conjunction of the two that the Baptized is "born anew of water and of the Holy Ghost".

So the Prayer Book teaches. At the reception of a privately baptized child into the Church, it is laid down that "matter" and "words" are the two essentials for a valid Baptism.[1] "Because some things essential to this Sacrament may happen to be omitted (and thus invalidate the Sacrament), ... I demand," says the priest, {64} "with what matter was this child baptized?" and "with what words was this child baptized?" And because the omission of right matter or right words would invalidate the Sacrament, further inquiry is made, and the god-parents are asked: "by whom was this child baptized?": "who was present when this child was baptized?" Additional security is taken, if there is the slightest reason to question the evidence given. The child is then given "Conditional Baptism," and Baptism is administered with the conditional words: "If thou art not already baptized,"—for Baptism cannot be repeated—"I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." So careful is the Church both in administering and guarding the essentials of the Sacrament.

And notice: nothing but the water and the words are essential. Other things may, or may not, be edifying; they are not essential; they are matters of ecclesiastical regulation, not of Divine appointment. Thus, a Priest is not essential to a valid Baptism, as he is for a valid Eucharist. A Priest is the normal, but not the necessary, instrument of Baptism. "In the absence of a {65} Priest"[2] a Deacon may baptize, and if the child is in extremis, any one, of either sex, may baptize.

Again, Sponsors are not essential to the validity of the Sacrament. Sponsors are safeguards, not essentials. They are only a part—an invaluable part—of ecclesiastical regulation. When, in times of persecution, parents might be put to death, other parents were chosen as parents-in-God (God-parents)[3] to safeguard the child's Christian career. Sponsors are "sureties" of the Church, not parts of the Sacraments. They stand at the font, as fully admitted Church members, to welcome a new member into the Brotherhood. But a private Baptism without Sponsors would be a valid Baptism.

So, too, in regard to Ceremonial. The mode of administering the Sacrament may vary: it is not (apart from the matter and words) of the essence of the Sacrament. There are, in fact, three ways in which Baptism may be validly administered. It may be administered by Immersion, Aspersion, or Affusion.

Immersion (in-mergere, to dip into) is the original and primitive form of administration. {66} As the word suggests, it consists of dipping the candidate into the water—river, bath, or font.

Aspersion (ad spargere, to sprinkle upon) is not a primitive form of administration. It consists in sprinkling water upon the candidate's forehead.

Affusion (ad fundere, to pour upon) is the allowed alternative to Immersion. It consists in pouring water upon the candidate.

All these methods are valid. Immersion was the Apostolic method, and explains most vividly the Apostolic teaching (in which the Candidate is "buried with Christ" by immersion, and rises again by emersion)[4] no less than the meaning of the word—from the Greek baptizo, to dip. Provision for Immersion has been made by a Fontgrave, in Lambeth Parish Church, erected in memory of Archbishop Benson, and constantly made use of. But, even in Apostolic times, Baptism by "Affusion" was allowed to the sick and was equally valid. In the Prayer Book, affusion is either permitted (as in the Public Baptism of infants), or ordered (as in the Private Baptism of infants), or, again, allowed (as in the Baptism of those of riper years). It will be {67} noted that the Church of England makes no allusion to "Aspersion," or the "sprinkling" form of administration. The child or adult is always either to be dipped into the water, or to have water poured upon it.[5] Other ceremonies there are—ancient and mediaeval. Some are full of beauty, but none are essential. Thus, in the first Prayer Book of 1549, a white vesture, called the Chrisome[6] or Chrism, was put upon the candidate, the Priest saying: "Take this white vesture for a token of innocency which, by God's grace, in the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, is given unto thee". It typified the white life to which the one anointed with the Chrisma, or symbolical oil, was dedicated.[7]

{68}

Another ancient custom was to give the newly baptized milk and honey. So, St. Clement of Alexandria writes: "As soon as we are born again, we become entitled to the hope of rest, the promise of Jerusalem which is above, where it is said to rain milk and honey".

Consignation, again, or the "signing with the sign of the cross," dates from a very early period.[8] It marks the child as belonging to the Good Shepherd, even as a lamb is marked with the owner's mark or sign.

Giving salt as a symbol of wisdom (sal sapientiae); placing a lighted taper in the child's hand, typifying the illuminating Spirit; turning to the west to renounce the enemy of the Faith, and then to the east to recite our belief in that Faith; striking three blows with the hand, symbolical of fighting against the world, the flesh, and the devil: all such ceremonies, and many more, have their due place, and mystic meaning: but they are not part of the Sacrament. They are, {69} as it were, scenery, beautiful scenery, round the Sacrament; frescoes on the walls; the "beauty of holiness"; "lily-work upon the top of the pillars";[9] the handmaids of the Sacrament, but not essential to the Sacrament. To deny that the Church of England rightly and duly administers the Sacrament because she omits any one of these ceremonies, is to confuse the picture with the frame, the jewel with its setting, the beautiful with the essential.[10]

We may deplore the loss of this or that Ceremony, but a National Church exercises her undoubted right in saying at any particular period of her history how the Sacrament is to be administered, provided the essentials of the Sacrament are left untouched. The Church Universal decides, once for all, what is essential: {70} the National Church decides how best to secure and safeguard these essentials for her own Use.



(II) WHAT IT DOES.

According to the Scriptures, "Baptism doth now save us".[11] As God did "save Noah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water," so does God save the human family from perishing by sin. As Noah and his family could, by an act of free will, have opened a window in the Ark, and have leapt into the waters, and frustrated God's purpose after they had been saved, so can any member of the human family, after it has been taken into the "Ark of Christ's Church," frustrate God's "good will towards" it, and wilfully leap out of its saving shelter. Baptism is "a beginning," not an end.[12] It puts us into a state of Salvation. It starts us in the way of Salvation. St. Cyprian says that in Baptism "we start crowned," and St. John says: "Hold fast that which thou hast that no man take thy crown".[13] Baptism is the Sacrament of initiation, not of finality. Directly the child is baptized, we pray that he "may lead the rest of his life according {71} to this beginning," and we heartily thank God for having, in Baptism, called us into a state of Salvation. In this sense, "Baptism doth save us".

But what does it save us from? Sin. In the Nicene Creed we say: "I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins". Baptism saves us from our sins.

In the case of infants, Baptism saves from original, or inherited, sin—the sin whose origin can be traced to the Fall. In the case of adults, Baptism saves from both original and actual sin, both birth sin and life sin.

The Prayer Book is as explicit as the Bible on this point. In the case of infants, we pray:

"We call upon Thee for this infant, that he, coming to Thy Holy Baptism, may receive remission of his sins"—before, i.e., the child has, by free will choice, committed actual sin. In the case of adults, we read: "Well-beloved, who are come hither desiring to receive Holy Baptism, ye have heard how the congregation hath prayed, that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to ... release you of your sins". And, again, dealing with infants, the Rubric at the end of the "Public Baptism of Infants" declares that "It is certain, by God's Word, that children who are {72} baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved".

In affirming this, the Church does not condemn all the unbaptized, infants or adults, to everlasting perdition, as the teaching of some is. Every affirmation does not necessarily involve its opposite negation. It was thousands of years before any souls at all were baptized on earth, and even now, few[14] in comparison with the total population of the civilized and uncivilized world, have been baptized. The Church nowhere assumes the self-imposed burden of legislation for these, or limits their chance of salvation to the Church Militant. What she does do, is to proclaim her unswerving belief in "one Baptism for the remission of sins"; and her unfailing faith in God's promises to those who are baptized—"which promise, He, for His part, will most surely keep and perform". On this point, she speaks with nothing short of "undoubted certainty"; on the other point, she is silent. She does not condemn an infant because no responsible person has brought it to Baptism, though she does condemn the person for not bringing it. She does not limit {73} the power of grace to souls in this life only, but she does offer grace in this world, which may land the soul safely in the world to come.

One other thing Baptism does. Making the child a member of Christ, it gives it a "Christ-ian" name.



The Christian Name.

This Christian, or fore-name as it was called, is the real name. It antedates the surname by many centuries, surnames being unknown in England before the Norman invasion. The Christian name is the Christ-name. It cannot, by any known legal method, be changed. Surnames may be changed in various legal ways: not so the Christian name.[15] This was more apparent when the baptized were given only one Christian name, for it was not until the eighteenth century that a second or third name was added, and then only on grounds of convenience.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse