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same language, and subjects of the same civil government. Then there is that which consists in separation between fellow-citizens and fellow-parishioners, which the primitive Christians looked at from the central point of view of a common altar, which implied partaking together of the Communion of the body and blood of their common Lord and Saviour — and, I must add, of the bishop's cathedra. Lastly, there is the degree which consists in separation between members of the same family, related by ties of blood or of affinity to a common hearth. The guilt of these three last degrees will be proportioned, in the case of individuals, by a variety of circumstances; among which is especially to be kept in view the responsibility incurred by those who originally caused the separation, or subsequently have given not only private but public, and not only public but official or ministerial, countenance and encouragement to it.
We are speaking, be it remembered, of an obligation which is such because founded confessedly upon the command of God. We see God's commands plainly written in every case; and visible unity, I repeat, and Dr Rainy admits, is one of those commands. But we do not see written with equal plainness, except in a very general way, the precise nature and consequence of disobedience. Accordingly, our Church teaches us to pray, generally, to be “delivered from schism ;” but she nowhere teaches us particularly in what the sin of schism consists, or what the award which may be expected to follow as its punishment. She tells us, indeed, that “it is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been three orders of ministers in Christ's churchbishops, priests, and deacons ;” and she says the same of no other ministry; thereby suggesting to us how we may at once fulfil the obligation both of “continuity” and “unity.” Further than thisand the statement made in solemn prayer, that God, “of His divine providence, hath appointed,” not parity, but
“divers orders in his Church”—she has not gone. But while our Church herself has been thus judicious, thus charitable, her individual members have been often too prone to take upon themselves to determine the sin in question, and to deduce its consequences, with more or less strictness, or more or less laxity, according as their minds have been differently constituted—and sometimes, it must be admitted. with little wisdom and less charity in either case ; forgetting the express admonition of our divine Master, “ Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” Whether the saintly Bishop Jolly, following the unanimous judgment of ecclesicastical antiquity, erred, as Dr Rainy thinks (p. 22), by too much particularity and too much strictness, when he pointed out the method by which every Christian might be able—and, in his opinion, was bound—to avoid the sin of schism, I will not undertake to “judge.” But I do not see that Dr Rainy himself has any better, or indeed any other, method to propose. And meanwhile, I may remind him of the counterbalancing statement made in 1872—the same year in which his own Lectures were delivered—by the present Bishop of Edinburgh in a Synodal Address to his Clergy, as follows: “We do not dispute that your members ”-he is speaking of Presbyterian ministers—"receive through the sacraments administered by you that which your Church leads them to expect they will receive; nor do we doubt that the Holy Ghost works in the conversion of souls to God in and through your ministry. It would, in our judgment, be sinful to doubt this.” For myself I have said elsewhere that “I cordially concur in these sentiments.”—See Nineteenth Century, May 1878, p. 906.
I hope Dr Rainy will now understand, better perhaps then he did before, what the real position and sentiments -I will not say of individuals among us, but-of our Episcopal Church itself are upon the subject of unity. It is not with our Church a question of “unchurching" or “churching” others—of asserting or denying the validity of non-Episcopal ordinances—but of approving of one method, and pro tanto disapproving of all others, with a view to the avoiding of the sin of schism, and to the obeying of God's command, the obligation of which we both equally acknowledge—the command of visible unity. With this view, her dutiful and well-instructed members, while always upholding the fullest right of appeal to the New Testament upon all matters both of faith and practice, are prepared to point to the Creed and the Constitution—not the Creed " alone,” or the Constitution “alone ”—of the undivided Church of the early centuries, as affording the only basis of unity yet discovered, and consequently as offering the best, if not the only, hope to ourselves of recovering the unity we have lost. And further, while the Reformation in this country produced not so much SCHISM as CHAOS (in which the old Romanised Church of the country ceased to exist as an organised body for nearly a century and a half, i.e., till 1784, when Pope Innocent XII. appointed Dr Thomas Nicolson as the first Vicar Apostolic, with Episcopal jurisdiction), we can point to the fact that the great divines of the Church of England, with whom we take our stand—have always maintained that the repudiation of the usurped dominion of the Church of Rome was not intended for, and did not constitute, on their part, or on the part of the English people, an act of separation from that Church (however much they might feel called upon to protest against its corruptions as well as against its aggressions), but rather an act of restored, confirmed, and improved union with the Catholic Church of the primitive ages before the overbearing spirit of Rome had caused the division of East and West.
If Dr Rainy can show to us what he considers a better method than this to assist us to fulfil the obligation of visible unity, I will not say that we shall at once accept it upon his recommendation, when we consider the kind and extent of authority upon which our own method rests; but I can say confidently that we shall listen to it with much interest, and gladly give to it our earnest attention. In the meantime he will, I trust, perceive that there is something more, very much more, in the matter, and involving other and far larger results, than he appears to suppose, when he expresses his “surprise that an honest difference of judgment regarding the number and relation of office-bearers whom Christ appointed to watch over His Church- a difference involving possibly some degree of sin on one side or other—should be conceived to place either party in an exceptional or critical relation to salvation, or to the care of the Great Shepherd.”
Dean Stanley, like many others, in his Lectures on the History of the Church of Scotland, has repeatedly spoken of Episcopalians as “ Seceders ” (see pp. 149, 169, 172). If by this he means “separatists,” he is mistaken. There has been no “separation ” on our part. We have been disestablished and disendowed once and again by questionable—because constitutionally incomplete—authority, but we have never separated. The separation of Free Churchmen, as of the Original Seceders and other Dissenters, was their own act—an act doubtless in their own opinion amply justified and fully called for.
Having said this, let me add that I readily join with Dr Rainy in maintaining :
(1.) That “no [church] institution should be accepted or sanctioned unless it could be made good to the Church's conscience out of God's Word, and set up on that ground, cordially, heartily, and resolvedly” (p. 27)-only I must stipulate that the Church's conscience be well and competently informed.
(2.) That, “if we are to have the Church, then we must have regard to what the Church was meant to be” (p. 27).
(3.) That “if Episcopacy be the right way of it, then we ought to keep it, and organise our Church with bishops; but to put it in working order” (p. 28). Very good advice, which has been much needed heretofore, and more or less is still needed; and the more it is needed the more we have to lament that Dr Rainy himself and other good Presbyterians are not helping us to carry it into effect.
(4.) That “ the Church has to realise its peculiar position and calling by a constant regard both to truth and liberty, the authority of the Lord being supreme over both; and constant regard both to purity and to charity, the aụthority of the Lord being supreme over both” (p. 44 et seq.)
(5.) That “the Christian people feel [or ought to feel] that their footing is as good and sure as that of the officebearers” (p. 51).
(6.) That “as Christians, as Churches, we ought never to forget that first—unconditionally, always first—we have truth to speak, whether men will hear or forbear, and we have a type of life to fulfil, and be, whether men will approve or condemn” (p. 83).
On the other hand, may I not be allowed to request Dr Rainy, as a lover of truth and charity, to reconsider the description which, at p. 94, he gives of Episcopacy, as “an empirical arrangement, so doubtful in its evidence that the Scripture proof of it is given up as hopeless by many even of the Episcopalians”! and to compare that description with the words of the greatest divine who has appeared in Western Christendom since the ReformationRichard Hooker ?
“A thousand five hundred years and upwards the Church of Christ hath now continued under the sacred regiment of bishops. Neither for so long hath Christianity. been ever planted in any kingdom throughout the world, but with this kind of government alone.”—Ecc. Pol., vii. 1, 4.
“ It clearly appeareth out of Holy Scripture that Churches Apostolic did know but three degrees in the power of ecclesiastical order : at the first, apostles, presbyters, and deacons; and afterwards, instead of apostles, bishops.”— Ibid., v. 78, 79.
“I may securely, therefore, conclude that there are at this day in the Church of England no other than the same