The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20
Periods and Persons, Point and Prospects of Contact between — Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches
Periods and Persons, Point and Prospects of Contact between
Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches.
When asked by the Rev. Mr. Edwards to lecture, during my visit to Dunedin to assist in the consecration of the Bishop, I felt some hesitation in acceding to the request, because the duties of my office give me very limited opportunities for working out a new subject, and also because the times do not justify any clergyman in devoting his efforts to anything but that which will, directly or indirectly, advance his work. I have not, however, fixed on my subject without mature consideration; it is one which has occupied my attention both before and since I came into the Colony, and has been practically forced upon me by circumstances in which I have found myself placed since residing in the Diocese of Nelson, so that I am handling a practical and important problem, the solution of which I am endeavoring to find for purposes connected with the advancement of my own particular work, rather than as a theory. I am conscious also that I am touching upon a subject which is pressing upon the attention of many, if not of all, Christians in .New Zealand; and I therefore desire to approach it in a spirit of gravity and thoughtfulness—fearing lest I may, if off my guard, use expressions or give utterance to opinions which may wound those whom I am desirous of attracting, or rouse undue suspicions and unwarranted anxieties in those whoso co-operation I look for. In the first place, therefore, I only claim for what I may say, the influence of an individual opinion; holding an official position, I do not venture to speak officially. The triennial General Synod of our Church lately held its session here, and did not give an official utterance on the subject, but confined itself to a recognition of a correspondence that passed between the Bishops and an eminent member of the Presbyterian ministry here. It would, page 4 therefore, be wrong on my part, to give anything I may say the colouring of its being in any way official; and it would be erroneous on your part, were you to fancy that you are listening to any but the individual utterances of but one member of the Episcopal Ministry of the New Zealand branch of the reformed Protestant portion of Christ's Catholic Church.
It may be that what I may say may be approved by others who bear office in our Church. I hope so; the event will show. Men are changing most rapidly. Amidst the many changes of a doubtful character, if not worse, may we not hope that there may be changes more cheering, more hopeful, more charitable, and more Christian, than any we have yet seen. Further, I owe it to the position which will, we trust, shortly be occupied by the Chairman, who has already begun to win respect and regard, to be hereafter developed into hearty sympathy and affection, as chief pastor of the Episcopal Church here, to state that nothing that I say to-night can in any way affect, unless he please it to be so, the future attitude that he may think fit to assume towards those amongst whom he will live and work; and, therefore, I wish you to be so good as to bear in mind, that it is quite possible he may hereafter take a very different aspect of the case; and while I doubt not that the end we have in view is the same, even he and I may differ as to the best way of bringing it about. Mind, I do not say we do differ; but I will claim for him, as for myself, the right to be utterly unhampered and unfettered by any view that I may set forth; and I merely claim for myself what I would claim for him, the right of expressing our individual opinions, without the risk of giving offence to each other, especially when the end in view is one of such importance, as that every way must be tried, every suggestion even welcomed, every movement pointing in that direction encouraged, and every stitch of canvas that can help the vessel on the tack of real not specious unity, be made available.
In order to clear the ground, we must lay aside all appeals to antiquated prejudices, all such foolish expressions as "nailing one's colours to the mast," when the question is not of differences with enemies, but of misunderstandings with friends and neighbours,—all exhortations not to forsake the Church of our fathers, simply because it is that. Why? Go to India, and see that poor wretch worshipping the tooth of Buddha, or the impression of Gaudama's foot. Ask the Chinese merchants, Kum Goon Li and Co., at the end of the street, why they cut out paper trowsers and jackets, and burn them for clothing the spirits of their deceased ancestors? page 5 Ask them what they mean by this service, and they will tell you they are not forsaking the religion of their fathers. Go back to early Church times, and ask what was the first obstacle to the progress of Christianity; did it not arise from those to whom St. Stephen replied, "As your fathers did so do ye?" No! try the past as well as the present by the true tests—God's Law and Will revealed in you, to you, and around you,—if they speak not according to this, it is because there is no light in them. I look into history, not blindly to follow it, but to see, as I often do, how very near the men of history came to the achievement of great discoveries in science, morals, and religion, and yet just failed, just missed it, even when on the very point of discovery! I want to benefit by their mistakes, and take up the thread where they dropped it.
There may be now fashioning a new cable along which the electric spark of unity is to flow, but I will also try and pick up the broken strands of wire, even though merged in Atlantic depths of history. In this my proposed inquiry, I wish to gather up first one and then another submerged wire of past history, to weld them together, and through them to transmit to dear, and loved, and esteemed brethren, the message of affection and oneness.
I confine myself to considering an eirenicon between the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches; we shall come to the relations of other bodies in due time; but both at home and here, this is the most pressing question, and one of which there is perhaps greatest probability of solution. The question is, in this Province, whether 14,500 Church of England members will combine with 27,000 Presbyterians, or whether two such extensive bodies of Christians shall stand aloof from each other? I do not forget the existence of others, and also the Wesleyan Methodists, with whom I would that we had closer relations; but I see at present greater difficulty in their case—1st. because we differ from them, and they from us, so little; and, 2ndly, because I cannot see, under present circumstances, why they should so far depart from the traditions and principles of their own founders, and continue still separate from us. One event of the times certainly is the actual reunion between the Primitive Methodists and the Irish Protestant Episcopal Church; this is an accomplished fact, a sufficient answer to all objections that our subject is a visionary and unpractical one. It may appear to some as if I narrowed the ground of controversy between us into a question of Church Government as between Presbyterianism and Episcopacy, but so I do. There is so con- page 6 siderable an actual agreement in doctrine, and prospective agreement in the gradual adoption of liturgical forms, and simple but significant ceremonies, that almost the only obstacle to union seems to be the form of government. The Church of England is, I am thankful to say, so comprehensive, that it holds within its fold men who agree upon fundamental doctrines, while they differ on points on which a partial revelation only has been vouchsafed.
I do not venture to go so far as to speak of union between Presbyterians and Episcopalians; there is no fear, some would say, and no hope, others would say, "of love at first sight," and before there can be any happy union, there must be a mutual appreciation of each other's good qualities, so that further acquaintance may be the result; otherwise, there is some danger of such a state of things coming to pass, as that in which the answer is given, "I cannot accept you, but I shall always regard you as a friend;" which means, or rather is interpreted by the opposite party to mean, "I hope I may never see you again." Well, I will not propose that as yet. If it conies to that hereafter, well and good. I hope it may, so that from a better understanding of each other may arise the Church of the Future, holding the same faith as is now common to both of us, and with more or less of the old constitution recast, and improved by the separate experience of Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism during the last 300 years. In discussing this subject, I must refer to points of history familiar to many of you, but which I fear too many have forgotten. It is the professed interest of some in the Colony to forget history; we, however, do not intend to do so. I will first briefly explain the terms used in the title of the lecture, in order to show how I purpose treating the subject.
I propose to consider those periods in the last 300 years, during which there were negociations actually on foot for assimilating the system of the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches to each other, and those periods also during which overtures with that result in view might have been made with probable success,—tending to the conclusion that the present bids fair to be a period most favourable for the consideration of such proposals.
By Persons of Contact, rather a singular expression I admit, I mean those many individuals who for their personal excellence, or the character of their writings, have been mutually appreciated and honoured by both these branches of Christ's Church,—men who, professedly of one side, are, as it were, common to both, and who furnish by their catholicity, and the esteem in which they are page 7 held, a new and special ground for the drawing together of those bodies into closer contact, of which they are the representatives.
Points of Contact, I understand to be a name applicable to those circumstances which may call for common action, or those points on which there is at present unanimity or sympathy, or those formularies, rites, and doctrinal statements which are shared by both Churches.
Prospects of Contact, forms an attractive and practical ending to the discussion, leading to consideration of the best means to be devised for bringing about some mutual understanding between Presbyterians and Episcopalians, so that we may not be doing the work twice over, nor unnecessarily hampering each other's movements at the cost of the hindrance of spiritual religion. It will be noticed that I have almost exclusively treated Episcopacy as identified with England, and Presbyterianism with Scotland. This does not represent the whole question; but as English Presbyterianism developed into, or was to a great extent absorbed by Independency, the consideration of the attitude of Independents to Episcopacy would be a different subject, and may be discussed at some future time. This will account for my omission of reference to the Savoy Conference, though it had its influence on ecclesiastical transactions north of the Tweed.
I. Periods of Contact between Presbyterian and Episcopalian Churches.—When we look back to pre-reformation times, we find the realms of England and Scotland both existing as portions of the unreformed Catholic Church. Their Service books, teaching and discipline, and their connection with the Papal See of Rome as the visible Head of the Church, were the same. Prior to the dawn of the Reformation, they were one in darkness, one in corruption, one in their acceptation of human traditions overriding divine simplicity, one in their superstitions, one in their fondness for ecclesiastical grandeur and multiplication of ceremony, one in the gross ignorance of their clergy, and one in the degradation of their moral standard. Would to God that those who were so joined in darkness, had sought and found the light in company. At first it appeared as if they were going to do so; and if Knox had followed up his own sagacious aspirations, he would have accomplished what was done in England, viz., the reformation, as distinguished from the destruction, of the government of the Church. The Churches of England and Scotland were as yet one, while Knox was hesitating whether he should accept an English page 8 Bishopric at the hands of Edward the Sixth; and strange as it may appear to be, I refer to that period as one of contact between Episcopalians and Presbyterians. What was it that hindered their accepting the same form of government? Solely political considerations. The question of Episcopacy was in Scotland inextricably combined with that of political matters; and in the struggle for social and political freedom, I admit with the deepest regret, that the Bishops holding an unscriptural and exaggerated view of their own position, cast in their lot with that of the despot, and as a class were found on the side, first of Queen Elizabeth, * who cannot hope for much appreciation on the side of her transactions with Scotland; next of James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England, who thought he would cowe his unruly Scotch subjects with the aid of Episcopacy; of Charles the First, who was unfortunate to be advised and led captive by the most arbitrary and tyrannical of counsellors; and again, of Charles the Second and James the Second, of whom we cannot but admit that they conspired against the social and political liberties of their own subjects. Even if the Bishops of these periods had been wise, acceptable, and moderate men, the alliance with such sovereigns would have been fatal to the acceptance of the form of Church government which they represented. If indeed there is anything in the nature of Episcopacy essentially tyrannical and despotic, their objections had some reason; if the idea the Scotch formed of Episcopacy was a correct one, then their prejudices are not to be wondered at. There were, however, during the stormy periods alluded to, men of power, men of sound Church principles and of profound learning, such as Hooker, Archbishop Usher, page 9 and Dean Field, and very many others, who were at the very same instant protesting against the unwarranted assumptions of some advocates of Episcopacy of their own day; they could not indeed succeed in raising their voices loud enough to be heard above the din of the storm then fiercely raging, but shall not their words, now to be perused in the calm of their writings, be listened to by us in these more moderate days, so that we may perceive a period of contact which escaped the notice of many in that time of confusion. The dove of union was let loose, but frightened back, not finding a place to rest the sole of her foot, to go forth again in more halcyon days.
The following passages will prove the statements I have just made, being extracted from Usher, Hooker, and Richard Field, the friend of Hooker, made afterwards Dean of Gloucester by James the First, and of whom the present Dean of Chichester (Dr. Hook) says:—"The republication of this deeply learned work of Field would in these days be very advantageous," and "one of the distinguishing features of this great divine is, that in refuting error he always takes care to state with precision the opposite truth."
Dean Field's definition of a Church is as follows:—"What Church soever can prove itself to hold the faith once delivered to the saints, and generally published to the world without heretical innovations and schismatical violations, is undoubtedly the true Church of God." With this one Church Field identities the Reformed Churches, such as those of England, Germany, and Geneva. They are called Churches as belonging to different nations, but they are connected with that one Catholic Church which was established at Pentecost. They did not begin with the Reformers, but God used the Reformers as His servants to put away some evils that had grown up in them. The inclusion of non-Episcopal Churches determines what Field thought a lawful ministry. (Hunt's Religious Thought in England, pp. 116-119.)
As to the possession of the bare and empty name of Catholic as a mark of the true Church, Field admits that there may have been something in it in the days of our fathers, but it is now common to schismatics and heretics, and therefore not a mark of the true Church. When there was but one main body of Christians, the word Catholic meant something. But when the East was divided from the West, the name remained common to both parties. The Greek Church, not less than the Latin, is the Catholic Church. As this name has ceased to be a note of the true Church, so the page 10 names derived from men have ceased to be marks of heresy. Those who followed the form of administration left by Ambrose, were called Ambrosians; those who followed Gregory, Gregorians; so Lutheran, Calvinist, and Zwinglian, are called from Luther, Calvin, and Zwingle, "worthy servants of God."
The Latin Church, Field says, was the true Church till our time. We condemn the errors, not the doctrines, of that Church. Luther did not begin a new Church.
In speaking of Church Government, Field is very clear. Orders, he reduces to the necessity of order. He dare not, he says, condemn those worthy men who were ordained by Presbyters, when the Bishops were opposed to the truth of God. In their circumstances, ordination by Presbyters was orders, and therefore valid orders. The Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches are therefore reckoned as one with the Church of England, and as members of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Usher did not regard the Presbyterian minister as unordained, but he thought it desirable to restore the Apostolic model of Bishops acting with their Presbyteries. Ordination by Presbyteries might be schismatical, but it was justified by circumstances. (Hunt's Religious Thought, 172.)
Hooker's view of orders may be gathered from the following extracts:—
"Which divisions and contentions might have easily been prevented, if the orders which each Church did think fit and convenient for itself had not so peremptorily been established under high commanding form, which tendered them unto the people as things everlastingly required by the law of that Lord of Hosts against whose statutes there is no exception to be taken. For by this it came to pass, that one Church could not but condemn another of disobedience to the will of Christ." (Hooker, Ecc. Pol., 161, Keble's edition.)
"If we did seek to maintain that which most advantageth our own cause, the very best way for us, and the strongest against them, were to hold, even as they do, that in Scripture there must need be found some particular form of Church polity which God hath instituted, and which, for that very cause, belongeth to all Churches and all times. But with any such eye to respect ourselves, and by cunning to make those things seem the truest which are the fittest to serve our purpose, is a thing which we neither like nor mean to follow." (Hooker, p. 494.)
Hooker denies explicitly that in Scripture there must be of page 11 necessity a form of Church government. Discipline is needed everywhere, but there is no necessity that it be everywhere the same. Throughout the world there is need of speech, but from this he says, does not follow the necessity that all men should speak one language. Even so, he concludes, the necessity of polity and regiment in all Churches may be held without holding any one certain form to be necessary to them all.
- 1st. As a purely monarchical, irresponsible, and absolute office, and as such they eschewed it.
- 2nd. As an administrative, responsible, constitutional position of inspection, presidency, and superintendence.
In this latter aspect they were willing to accept it, only under another name; and it is almost amusing to read the description given of the duties of the Superintendent, as laid down in the First Book of Discipline agreed to by the Scottish Kirk of 1560, as compiled by themselves. In it we find the following orders respecting the Superintendents (chap. ii. clause 2):—
"We consider that, if the ministers whom God hath endowed with his singular graces among us, should be appointed to remote places, there to make their continuale residence, that then the greatest part of the realme should be destitute of all doctrine, which should not only be the occasion of great murmur, but also be dangerous to the salvation of many. And therefore, we have thought it a thing most expedient at this time, that from the whole number of godly and learned men now presently in this realme, be selected ten or twelve, to whom charge and commandments should be given to plant and erect kirkes; to set, order, and appoint ministers, as the former order prescribes to the countries that shall be appointed to their care where none are now; and by their means, your love and care over all the inhabitants of this realme, to whom you are equally debtors, shall evidently appear; as also the simple and ignorant, who perchance have never heard Jesus Christ truely preached shall come to some knowledge, by the which many that are dead in superstition and ignorance shall attain to some feeling of godliness, by the which they may be provoked to search and seek further knowledge of God, and his true religion and worshipping; whereas by the contrary, if they shall be neglected, then shall they not only grudge but also page 12 seeke the means whereby they may continue in their blindness, or return to their accustomed idolatry. And, therefore, nothing we desire more earnestly, than that Christ Jesus be universally once preached throughout this realme, which shall not suddenly be, unless that by you men be appointed and compelled faithfully to travel in such provinces as to them shall be assigned."
Then follow the designation of the Dioceses or Superintendencies, and the chief town at which the Superintendents are to reside in each, Edinburgh, Jedburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries, &c.
"These men must not be suffered to live as your idle Bishops have done heretofore, neither must they remain gladly where they would, but they must be preachers themselves, and such as may not make long residence in any place, till their kirkes be planted and provided of ministers, or at least of readers. Charge must be given them that they remain in no place above twenty daies in their visitation, till they have passed through their whole bounds. They must thrice everie week preach at the least, and when they return to their principal town and residence, they must be likewise exercised in preaching and edification of the kirk, and yet they must not be suffered to continue there so long that they may seem to neglect their other kirks. But after they have remained in their chief towne three or foure months at most; they shall be compelled (unless by sicknesse they be retained), to reenter on visitation, in which they shall not only preach, but also examine the life, diligence, and behaviour of the ministers, as also the order of the kirkes and the maimers of the people. They must further consider how the poor be provided and the youth be instructed. They must admonish where admonition needeth, and drene such things as by good counsell they be able to appease. And finally, they must note such crimes as be heynous, that by the advice of the kirk the same may be corrected."
While reading the above description, we almost recognise it as a photograph of Bishops in New Zealand, who are charged with all the above mentioned functions, in addition to several others of equally important character. We can scarcely believe that the Presbyterians of New Zealand would object to that which was accepted and approved by the very founder of their present establishment, John Knox, or refuse to join, for the sake of greater union and more extensive usefulness, a system which he had expressed approval of. But for the arbitrariness of James the First and Charles the First, Scotland would have received Episcopacy in a moderated and more primitive form; but the times were out page 13 of joint, and so despotic were the claims of absolute monarchy, so hoodwinked were many of the Bishops and their supporters, so obstinate and deaf to reason were many of the Presbyterian leaders, that, as often happens, the views of each side were exaggerated by the asertions of the opposite party, who forced words into their lips, and put constructions on their utterances which they themselves never intended. The Presbyterians told the world what Episcopacy was, and, on the other hand, Episcopalians drew their picture of the opposing Presbyterians, neither portraiture being fair, and thus each party found itself in the possession of a reputed creed and watchword which was in its extreme character the fabrication and imputation of its enemy.
Henceforth, on such a basis as this, there was small hope for union, and both parties seem to have declared "war to the knife;" no state policy, no personal ability, not even a Chrysostom in holy eloquence, nor the angelical life of as genuine a saint as ever trod the earth, could win over the Presbyterians of those days, who were determined that a Bishop never could be anything other than a wolf, and no shepherd, they would not believe, and not altogether without reason, but that Prelacy was a back-door by which Popery might be brought back again into Scotland, forgetting that that was not the only danger, and that there can be Protestant Popes as well as Romanist, and that spiritual despotism may exist as well in the cold grey kirks of Scotland as in the darkened halls of the sun-emblazoned temple of St. Peter's,—forgetting that it is the papacy of human nature which has from age to age to be protested against, and on which the door must be closed, whether it proceed from judaic, papal, puritan prelatical, episcopalian, presbyterian, methodistic, independent, or secularist sources; for all of these, so far as they are true to human nature, have an indisputable tendency to produce Popes from time to time.
Nevertheless, from 1597 to 1637, Episcopacy was reintroduced into Scotland by force and fraud, by the votes of packed Assemblies, and by arbitrary interference with their sessions. In 1605, James, backed by the power of England, determined to show the difference of his position, and ordered fourteen of the Scotch clergy to be imprisoned, and to be accused of High Treason; while all over Scotland numbers of the clergy were imprisoned or forced to fly. In 1606, Andrew Melville, the leader of the anti-episcopal party, was imprisoned four years in the Tower of London, and forced into exile, where he died, 1622.page 14
In 1610, Episcopacy was re-establisned in an Assembly nominated by the Crown; and, at the same time, the question of equality or inequality in the kirk was ordered not to be treated in the pulpit, under penalty of suspension.
In 1637, the people began to rise against the introduction by compulsion of the Service Book; their opposition seemed to be more directed against the forcible imposition of it than against the book itself. With the opposition to it was combined opposition to the Episcopal office altogether, and when the one was rejected the other fell. Howell wrote from Edinburgh thus in 1639:—"The Bishops are all gone to wrack, and they have had but a sorry funeral; the very name grown so contemptible, that a black dog, if he hath any white marks, is called a Bishop. Our Lord of Canterbury (Archbishop Laud) is grown here so odious, that they call him commonly in the pulpit the Priest of Baal and the son of Belial."
In 1639 the Scotch took up arms against Charles the First; in the next year, 1640, they invaded England, defeated the King, and on the principle that he who cannot pay with his purse must pay with his person, sold their unfortunate Sovereign to the English for £200,000 sterling.
In 1650, Charles the Second promised amends for what his father had done to the Scotch, which, however, he never meant sincerely to carry out. The cause of Episcopacy was once more attached to the fortunes of royalty, and baneful indeed was its patronage.
The times are well described in a poem, entitled "The Bishop's Walk," by "Orwell," in which Bishop Leighton speaks thus:—
"Alas, he said, an evil time
When simple truth is civil crime,
And God's anointed goes in quest
Of foolish mirth and ribbald jest;
And the high task of rule,
Falls or to knave or fool.
"A king that only cares for pleasure,
A court that dances to his measure,
A policy of passing shifts,
A parliament that thoughtless drifts
With any tide to-day,
On any evil way.
"They care not for Thy kirk, 0 Lord,
They reck not of Thy blessed word;
Alike the mitre and the rood,
Alike to them the cap and hood;
Their only wish on earth
The foam upon its mirth.
"And God's dear saints, alas, are dead,
Or to the misty moorland fled;
Or, with oppression mad, they come
To battle with the trump and drum;
To be trampled by the force
Of the rider and his horse.
"And all for what! alas, the while
Those deal in wrath, and hate, and guile;
And these to sorrow bow them all
For forms ecclesiastical;
And for the seed of grace
We but the husk embrace."
Charles the Second, like his grandfather, hoped to use Episcopacy as his tool for subjugating the Scotch to despotism, and to prepare the way in time for the reintroduction of Popery, for which he had conceived a strong desire during his exile. Accordingly, by forcible proclamation of Council, not on the petition of their lawful ecclesiastical assemblies, Episcopacy was again established in 1661. To give it a fair chance it should have been entrusted to worthy men; but instead of securing that advantage, with one notable exception, those who were chosen were singularly unfit, and their behaviour the very opposite of that which would commend itself to prejudiced persons. Those appointed were, Middleton, Sharp, Sydserf, Fairfowl, Hamilton, Alexander Burnet, and, lastly, Leighton, the bright exception to the rest.
There was at that time again exhibited a disposition to accept a moderate form of Episcopacy. The Synod of Aberdeen desired it, and two-thirds of the ministers conformed to it; and had the rest of the Bishops been penetrated with the same humility, discretion, and love for the essentials of Christian conduct that characterised Leighton, we should not have had to discuss the question before us.
Archbishop Sharp, however, proved himself a hard, rapacious, and cruel man. He set up a court of ecclesiastical commission which filled the prisons to overflowing, and when they would hold no more the victims were transported to Barbadoes.
These last Bishops were invested with such immense power, that the former set made by the Parliament of 1612 were but pigmies to these high and mighty lords, whose finger was felt to be greater than the loins of the former Bishops. In 1668, Leighton, wearied with his incessant efforts at conciliation, and distressed at their ill success, desired to resign his Bishopric, but Charles would not hear of it; and Leighton, willing once more to try what could be done, suggested the following moderate proposals:—page 16
1 That the Church should be governed by the Bishops and their clergy mixing together in the Church judicatories, in which the Bishop should act only as a President, and be determined by the majority of his presbytery, both in the matter of jurisdiction and ordination.
2 That the presbyters should be allowed, when they first sat down in their judicatories, to declare that their sitting under a Bishop was submitted to by them for peace sake, with a reservation of their opinions with relation to any such presidency, and that no negative vote should be claimed by the Bishop.
3 That Bishops should go to the churches in which such as were candidates for ordination were to serve, and hear and discuss any exceptions that were made to them, and ordain them with the concurrence of the presbytery.
4 That such as were to be ordained should have leave to declare their opinions, if they held that the Bishop was only the head of the presbyters.
5 That provincial Synods should sit in course every third year, or oftener if the King summoned them, in which complaints of the Bishops should be received, and they should be censured according to their deserts.
In 1669 the Assertory Act was passed, placing all power in ecclesiastical causes and arrangements in the hands of the King in council. One result was to transfer Bishop Leighton from Dunblane to Glasgow as Archbishop, in the hopes that, in a position of higher dignity, his influence might proportionally increase. In connection with this a new conference was held at Holyrood, to endeavour to conciliate the Presbyterians. At this meeting, Leighton dwelt on the calamities which had already arisen from the sad alienation of Episcopalians and Presbyterians, and after notifying the readiness of the Bishops to stoop to the lowest point of defensible yielding in meeting the Presbyterian scruples, he drew a comparison between the two platforms, pointing out what he thought the defects inherent in the Presbyterian system, and the ground there was for concluding that Episcopacy had existed in substance, if not in name, from the infantile age of Christianity. He laboured to convince them, that many parts of the Presbyterian discipline were not fortified by apostolic practice, and bore no signature of a Divine appointment; that in establishing a form of ecclesiastical government, we are free to institute offices of which the inspired yolume furnishes no precedent, provided nothing contrary to the orders of Christ, and to the spirit page 17 of his religion, be admitted; and that by submitting to the Episcopal form, they would not bind themselves to comply with anything repugnant to the dispensation of the gospel, nor to tolerate any encroachment on the pastoral functions.
Such reasonable negociations as these nevertheless proved useless where men had made up their minds; but unsparing in his efforts to accomplish his desire for union, later in the same year, 1670, Leighton, assisted by only two clergy, once more entered the lists with 26 nonconformists, repeated the former arguments, but aimed at making his opponents sensible how unreasonable and blameable it was to abate nothing on their side, but to exact unbounded concession from the other. He urged them further to reflect, whether they would have refused communion with the Church at the time of the Nicene Creed and Council, when Episcopacy was of a lordlier character than it now affected in Scotland.
The only answer given to such proposals was—"We are not free in conscience to close with the propositions made by the Bishop of Dunblane as satisfactory."
His answer was:—"My sole object has been to procure peace, and to advance the interests of true religion. In following up this object I have made several proposals, which I am fully sensible involved great diminutions of the just rights of Episcopacy; yet, since all Church power is intended for edification and not for destruction, I thought that, in our present circumstances, Episcopacy might do more for the prosperity of Christ's kingdom, by relaxing some of its just pretensions, than it could by keeping hold of all its rightful authority. It is not from any mistrust of the soundness of our cause that I have offered these abatements, for I am well convinced that Episcopacy has subsisted from the Apostolic age of the Church. Perhaps I have wronged my own order in making such largo concessions, but the unerring Discerner of hearts will justify my motives, and I hope ere long to stand excused with my own brethren."
The only answer the Presbyterians would give to this last and final appeal was, that the solemn oath they had taken forbad (to use their own words) a hoof or so much as a hair of the Scottish model to be departed from. In 1674, Leighton at last succeeded in retiring from the task in which he had so signally failed, not through any fault of his own, and from that time forward all hopes of recognition of Episcopacy banished, until the dawn of move tolerant and less prejudiced days.
The Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, trod in the page 18 same steps of persecution and intolerance as his predecessors, and even was said to take a sanguinary delight in witnessing the sufferings of the victims of his tyranny when under torture.
It was left to William of Orange to terminate the sad struggle, and this only after recourse to very questionable means of pacification, till at last the political atmosphere becoming calmer, and the union of the two kingdoms being consummated on the basis of the existence and establishment of two national Churches, Presbyterianism remained in the possession of the field, and the Episcopalian congregations, scattered and harassed, had some difficulty in maintaining their existence; and by a natural reaction, were in their turn the victims of restrictive and arbitrary laws; their service was proscribed, and their clergy denied the right of ministration till very recent days.
We do not desire to prolong the traditions of the past into the present, but rather to look at the matter anew, and hope that in the very heart of Presbyterianism itself, there will be found a disposition to unite with us on an Episcopal basis, on terms which shall be honourable to both sides.
Arising out of the necessities of the case originally, and approved by the example and provision of the Apostles, especially St. Paul, if Episcopacy is to be restored universally, it must be by its being regarded as supplying a felt need; and thus revived and accepted, it will, we fully believe, in a well balanced system, approve itself as one of the best organizations for the defence and spread of the truth. A new principle, that of perfect toleration, is the principle of our æra; neither Episcopacy nor Presbyterianism have yet been tried on the basis of complete toleration. We must not think that Episcopacy, acting with perfect toleration, and the absence of coercive force, will produce the same evils as Episcopacy leagued with and hampered by the intolerance and ignorance of the past.
How full of instruction and suggestion is this history; how noble, and, on the other hand, how weak and vile were some of the actors in it. How nearly men approached to what we in these last days desire; will it be our happiness to go further in accomplishing union than they did?
Perhaps we may gain what we wish by simple cooperation and combined action, whereas they persisted in looking for it only in subordination of one to the other. Whether or not the present is an æra of favourable and converging contact, has to be proved. My argument is this,—all that ever was said before in favour of page 19 union holds good now, while very much that was then a justifiable obstacle is removed, especially in the country and age in which we find ourselves.
Our circumstances are wholly new, and wholly different from those of any age before us; and there is room for new action, new construction, and new results. Let us not, for the sake of quietness, cast away such a precious opportunity, nor try to re-produce the cracked china of a past age, but present to the world a new form of a Christian Church, unshackled as to its government and organization, either by local, territorial, or traditional conditions,—that has all the family features of the blanches of Christ's Church from which it has resulted, and through which it derives its unbroken connection with the Apostolic Church; a Church which would be recognised by any primitive Christian in the simplicity of its creed and worship, while in its comprehensiveness and fulness, it satisfies minds educated under all the varied influences of the past history of churches and doctrines.
"It is here in New Zealand, indeed, that we are made to feel most sensibly the unquestionable evils of disunion, and the waste of power for good which must ever be the ease, when persons having the same object in view, and labouring in the same field of labour, are systematically acting apart from each other. Our disunion, in some instances, may have been overruled for good, but it is plainly an unchristian state of things; and if, at this present time, we can do nothing more than retain upon our records the resolution referred to, it is at least an admission, on our part, that such disunion is deeply to be regretted, and that it is our duty to be still seeking to remedy it, and to be assistant in any practical efforts for that purpose. Much of course may be effected in this direction, if the members of the various religious bodies maintain friendly intercourse with each other; honestly appreciate the services of each other in the cause of religion; and if, with larger sympathies with those who differ from them, they tolerate opinions and practices which are not opposed to the fundamental principles of Christianity and to purity of morals; allowing, that is to others in such matters, the same liberty as they claim for themselves. But I must add that, in my opinion, we must go further than this, if there is to be in this Colony any effectual and enduring restoration of Christian unity. We must endeavour to realise our Christian brotherhood, by uniting together in one religious organization, so that we may labour together side by side in full communion with each other, not necessarily in the same way, but still under rules which shall be equally binding upon all.
"Our Church, so far as I know, has never pronounced any opinion on the validity of the ministry of other communions—she has only declared that no one shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in the United Church of England and Ireland, except he shall have Episcopal consecration or ordination; and while abstaining, in like manner, from drawing any invidious comparison between our ministry and that of other communions, we shall, I have no doubt, feel ourselves bound to hold fast the precious heirloom which page 20 we have received in our ministry, and to hand it on unimpaired to those who may succeed us. And hence the difficulty in devising measures under which those whose ministry may differ from ours, may he united with us, in cordial cooperation, in the great work of saving souls. In other respects, as I conceive, the difficulties may be comparatively slight. With the great majority of Christians in this Colony, there is already a very substantial agreement in all the essential truths of the Christian faith, and a devout acceptance of the sacraments of the gospel; all, therefore, on these points, that may seem to be required, is a readiness on all sides to concede to one another the liberty in differing in opinion on the relative importance of such truths and ordinances. There would be still less difficulty (if we on our part supplement our ordinary religious services with such as I have ventured to suggest, or with others like them), in comprehending in the same religious system, and in subordination to rules binding on all alike, 'diversities of ministrations' and 'diversities of operations,' suited to the varied wants and customs of the members of our several communions."
Actuated by similar feelings, the Rev. D. M. Stuart, of John Knox Church, Dunedin, offered the pulpit of his church to one of the Bishops when at Dunedin. The Bishops answered the kindly invitation in the following terms:—
"My Dear Sir,—Mr. Edwards has placed in our hands your letter of February 1st, kindly inviting one of the Bishops now in the city to preach in Knox Church on Sunday forenoon. We most sincerely thank you for this token of your good will, and recognition of our common ministry as preachers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; and personally we should have had much satisfaction in accepting your invitation, but in such a matter as this we do not consider ourselves at liberty to follow our own inclinations without the concurrence of that branch of the Church of which we are ministers. We are compelled, therefore, to decline your kind invitation. Trusting, however, that the time is not far distant when, not only in preaching the Word of God, but in all other efforts for the cause of true religion, we may be brought nearer to each other.
"We beg to subscribe ourselves yours very faithfully in the Lord,
H. C. Christchurch, Primate.
A. B. Nelson.
W. G. Auckland.
Rev. D. M. Stuart.Dunedin, February 3rd, 1871."
The reason for the Bishops' withholding at the time was not, as was foolishly stated, any objection to preach in a building not formally dedicated according to the rites of the English Church, but in order that, when it was done, it might if possible be a public and official, rather than a private and personal, act. We are each of us perfectly free to do it at any time.
II. Now, turning from these periods, during which there have been opportunities lost or improved for union and comprehension, we shall have borne away from them the memory of many who stood forth conspicuously in each sera as men of union—men claimed in spirit, if not in letter, by both sides—men whose catholic spirit surpassed the limits of the particular fold of which page 21 they were members, and who seem to belong to the Church of Christ—men in whose communications the gulf which politics created was bridged over, and who rose above the prejudices of those with whom they were accidentally and unpleasantly thrown; and who, had they lived in our day, would have hailed the opportunities for contact which we are now beginning to enjoy.
The very men who were exasperated to take a most prominent line in opposing our Episcopal system, or rather the Episcopal system of their own day, were men whom, if they had lived now, we should have for our allies.
John Knox himself would, we firmly believe, have voted for such Episcopacy as is proposed now, and such as is practically carried out; but the only Bishops he knew in Scotland were identified with Romanist and unreformed views, and this prevented his sanctioning the establishment of such a government. I cannot allow him to be quoted against Episcopal government now, or against liturgical services, and many other features of the Anglican Church; it was against a different Church altogether that he protested, and against the possible rein traduction of Popery through its means. Had Scotland seen among its Bishops men like Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and Hooper, it would have looked at the office with a more kindly eye, and admitted the possibility of its being restored with safety and advantage.
Calvin, so misunderstood by those who bear his name, and fancy they are his followers, by no means rejected the office; its associations were so strong, that he was afraid to carry out his own advice and system; but shall we not rather recur to his well studied theory and approved system, rather than to the make shifts to which he was reduced by the prejudices and dangers of the time. After reading his opinions, I have no hesitation in classing him as a friend. Bishop Hall quoted him as such within a hundred years of his death.
Who would have thought at first sight that we should be justified in claiming Baxter as an ally in our protest in favour of Episcopacy. I have transcribed here Mr. Baxter's own words, Church Government, part iii. p. 276.
"An Episcopacy desirable for the reformation and peace of the Churches. A fixed president durantevita. But some will say, we are engaged against all prelacy by covenant, and therefore cannot yield to so much as you do without perjury. Ans. That this is utterly untrue, I thus demonstrate—
"1. When that covenant was presented to the Assembly with the bare name of prelacy joined to popery, many grave and reverend divines desired that the word prclacy might be explained, because it was not all Episcopacy they were against, page 22 and therefore the following concatenation in the parenthesis was given by way of explication in these words: That a Church government by Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissaries, Deans and Chapters, Archdeans, and all the other ecclesiastical officers, depending on that hierarchy. By which it appears, that it was only the English hierarchy or frame that was covenanted against, and that which was then existent, but was taken down.
"2. When the House of Lords took the covenant, Mr. Thomas Coleman, that gave it them, did so explain it, and profess that it was not their intent to covenant against all Episcopacy, and upon this explication it was taken; and certainly the Parliament was most capable of giving the due sense of it, because it was they that did impose it.
"3. And it could not be all Episcopacy that was excluded, because a parochial Episcopacy was at the same time used and approved commonly here in England.
"4. And in Scotland they had used the help of visitors for the reformation of their Churches, committing the care of a country or circuit to some one man, which was as high a sort of Episcopacy as any I am pleading for. Besides that they had Moderators in all their Synods, who were temporary Bishops.
"5. Also, the chief divines of the late Assembly at Westminster, that recommended that covenant to the nations, have professed their own judgments for such a moderate Episcopacy as I am here defending, and therefore never intended the exclusion of this by covenant."
"As we have prelacy to beware of, so we have the contrary extreme to avoid, and the Church's peace (if it may be) to procure; and as we must not take down the ministry, lest it prepare men for Episcopacy, so neither must we be against any profitable exercise of the ministry, or desirable order amongst them, for fear of introducing Prelacy."
Surely here is a person who may bring Presbyterians and Episcopalians together; who may say to the former, surely you cannot object to this; to the latter, you do not ask more. Just as we appealed to the reformers of whom we have spoken before, we appeal to Baxter's serious unprejudiced judgment, and we feel his advice to us is that we need not keep asunder.
But of all the men of contact, none stands out so prominently, none has a name more acceptable to both of us, than that of Archbishop Leighton, whose gentle spirit and Christ-like disposition are strikingly brought out by his coming into contact with Presbyterians and Episcopalians, as we have seen above.
Few contrasts are more curious than those of Dr. Leighton, the father, and Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow, the son.
The father wrote a most intemperate appeal to Parliament, entitled "Sion's Plea against Prelacy." Of this we are told, the arguments were those of the Presbyterian party, not strong in themselves, yet deriving strength from the manifold evils unreformed in the Church.
"The Lord," he says, "had a controversy with the land, because the prelates had usurped the place of Christ. Parliament is asked to remove Ashtaroth, that God's judgments against us may cease, that the honour of the state may be redeemed, and there may be a dashing of Babel's brats against the wall."
This is a kind of contact not very agreeable to contemplate; and, according to the savage custom of those times, R. Leighton reaped the reward of his intemperance and misquotation of Holy Scripture, by having his ears cropped, and being condemned to stand in the pillory with his objectionable treatise slung to his neck.
Who would have expected with such a beginning and associations, to find his son a model Bishop, and, above all, a Scotch Bishop; and yet we are quite willing to let the whole question between us be decided by Leighton's arguments and writings. His integrity is undeniable; the advantage of his loving, wise, and Christian superintendence over the clergy of his diocese cannot be questioned; and his proposals come to us with a force and claim for our consideration such as none others can have. Others may overwhelm us with their history, precedents, and arguments; he makes us feel such a man could scarcely have gone very far wrong in a matter of this kind; and when we see in his history how many loopholes he had by which he might have escaped, he becomes one of our most valued witnesses in any plan for reunion or combination of differing Churches. We cannot adduce any new arguments,—we cannot make any further concessions than he made,—we cannot outrun his charity,—we can scarcely equal his devotion; and as we read his life at the present day, we cannot help feeling that there must be some great advantage to be derived by the Church by following out this organization, otherwise so wise, so holy a man would scarcely have thought himself justified in spending so much time and labour to re-establish it. The anecdotes related of him show, that he laid down the controversy as soon as ever he could consistently; and if so, the fact that he took it up again as of necessity, proved how strongly he felt about the matter.
But we have seen that even he did not succeed; and if so, is there any hope for us now? If so, it must be wholly in the alteration of the times; and they are so completely changed, that we hope men's minds are changed too, and that they no longer take fright at a name, nor adhere to a matter only for its age.
After Leighton's death in 1684, it was long before any men arose who were of equal interest to both Churches; the deadness of the early part of the eighteenth century crept over England, and even the non-conformists fell away from their primitive orthodoxy, while the Established Kirk of Scotland was characterised by a cold philosophic heartlessness, and its pulpit was regarded as page 24 a stage for rhetorical display, on which clergymen, who drew their inspirations and their attitude from the Roscius of the day, acted their part. I know few spectacles more sad than the picture of unmitigated worldliness exhibited in the condition of the kirk as set forth in the life of the Rev. Dr. Carlyle.
There were to be found a few individuals on both sides who recognised their common Christianity, as, for example, we find the Rev. M. Hervey, author of "Theron and Aspasio," in 1750, referring to "Human Nature in its Fourfold State," Edinburgh, 1729, by Mr. Thomas Boston, late minister of the gospel at Ettrick, as "one of the best books for common readers,—the sentences short, the comparisons striking, the language easy, and the doctrine evangelical."
If a revival came after, it was not owing to the excellence of either a Presbyterian or Episcopalian government, for one of the chief agents in it was Whitefield, who, cast out of the Established Church of England, visited Scotland in 1741, and at intervals until 1762, by unwearied efforts in preaching received so signal a blessing. Both in Scotland and England the revival took place outside the Establishment; neither Bishops nor Presbyters could, by the mere force of their office, either keep the Church orthodox, or revive its spiritual life when asleep.
"It is not to any violent demolition in the existing framework of society, that we look for the impulse that is to regulate our nation. The actual constitution, whether of Church or State, is a piece of goodly and effective mechanism, were the living agents who work it animated with the right zeal and the right principle. And sorry should we be in particular, were a rashly innovating hand laid upon the venerable Hierarchy of England. Even the affluence of its higher dignitaries, so obnoxious to some, could be made subservient to the best of causes; and through it, the principle of deference to station, which, in spite of all his assumed sturdiness, every man feels to be insuperable within him, may be enlisted on the side of Christianity. We envy not that dissenter his feelings, who could not bless God and rejoice in the progress of an Apostolical Bishop through the diocese."
What a change has come over Presbyterians for one of them to speak thus of Episcopacy. They can now do justice to their own convictions, because their prejudices are not roused by being compelled to accept what is distasteful.
"I commend first of all to you the churches of our Presbytery, that you may pray for them, and affectionately desire their prosperity in faith and righteousness. Next I commend unto you the churches of our sister Establishment, that you may love them as sisters in the Lord, and join with them in sweet fellowship, as Abraham did unto Eschol and Aner, when he went to do battle with Chedorlaomer who had spoiled Lot."
We wonder not that Dr. James Hamilton, his successor, the author of the "Mount of Olives," "Life in Earnest," &c., was found dedicating some of his hooks to (his former fellow-collegian) the present Archbishop of Canterbury, and constantly mixing and associating with Episcopalian clergymen.
You may judge of the way in which each side takes advantage of the excellencies of the other, by observing on the shelves of how many Presbyterian clergy is to be found, Keble's celebrated collection of poems, "The Christian Year," and the frequency with which you meet with the "Memoir of the Rev. R. M. M Cheyne," in Church of England studies. We can only now mention the names of those who are men of contact,—time fails us to show the degree in which they are so. But the names of Dean Alford, Lindsay Alexander, Arnot, Beith, M'Cosh, Tulloch, Guthrie, Cairns, Horatius and Andrew Bonar, Smith of Jordanhill, Douglas of Cavers, Dean Ramsay, Sir D. Brewster, Professor Balfour. G. Wilson, and Norman M'Leod, are familiar to both sides, their works equally appreciated and consulted as being of an essentially catholic spirit; not to speak of the community of editorship in Clark's valuable "Theological Library," in which clergy of both Churches are associated together. The late Lord Aberdeen, when Lord Haddo, at one and the same time fraternised with the Presbytery in his own native country, and liberally erected and endowed an Episcopalian church, parsonage, and school in the east of London, in Whitechapel, which was then the parish of the present Dean of Lichfield, the Rev. W. Champneys, Whitechapel., Such are specimens of men of contact.
Amongst men of contact who have recently lived, we must spare a special notice for Dr. R. Lee, of Greyfriars' church—not indeed that he was an Episcopalian, or had any inclinations personally in that direction, but he was identified with, and the prime originator of a movement which has gone far to break down the differences between our modes of worship, and so, we trust, to help us to draw nearer to each other. He had to fight an uphill battle against prejudice, in the effort to introduce and obtain license, if not sanction, for the introduction of instrumental music into churches, and conducting service by a written, printed, or page 26 definite form, and performing the office of matrimony for members of the church in the church; the able stand he made for freedom in these matters cannot fail to bear fruit.
We find persons of contact in the missionaries to the heathen, of whom Dr. Duff and Dr. W. Burns are good specimens. Of the former, there was no greater friend or appreciator than Dr. G. Lynch Cotton, the late Bishop of Calcutta, who signalised his episcopate by arranging for the use of Episcopal churches by Presbyterian congregations; and the latter was always ready to co-operate with the missionaries of the Church of England. In the presence of heathenism the questions of government are in abeyance, and long may they remain so. A work has been going on in Scotland and India, chiefly connected with the Presbyterian Church, in providing medical missionaries. Some are trained in Scotland, some in India; of these latter, we hear last year of twelve who were trained under Presbyterian influence, under Mr. David Paterson of Madras; three of them are under the Church Missionary Society, and one under the Society for Propagation of the Gospel; while of four students who went forth from the Institution in 1869, one is under the auspices of the Established Church of Scotland, two in connection with the United Presbyterians, and one (Dr. Elmslie) was in Cashmere for five years in connection with the Church of England. If men go forth from the same Institution, brothers in labour and in faith, to consecrate their talents to the same work, the Churches which employ such agency cannot long remain apart from each other.
"Dr. Candlish maintained the independence of the Church. He would not consent to he tied to 1843, nor would he send the Church down to posterity tied to 1843. He insisted upon being allowed to look at things from the point of view of 1870. He looked forward to the time when they might hope to have a union of all the Presbyterian Churches, and he did not exempt from that hope his brethren of the Established Church."
"The Church was not a mere number of people having a kindly feeling to-wards each other, but it was a living society of men and women, united together in the Lord in common faith, and for common work, and common worship and service. The denominational system, with which they were so calamitously familiar, was entirely an invasion of modern times, and in its very idea was new to the writers of the New Testament. Those who discourage the unity of the Church were not sound Presbyterians. The terms of union were in essence the same as the terms were from the first in the Church of Christ. It must be so, for Christ was their only legislator, and He had never given any new laws to his Church since the completion of the New Testament canon, though the duty of the Church in applying and defending them varied from age to age. This was the great distinction between scriptural principles and the application of scriptural principles. The one was immutable, unchangeable,—the other changed with the change of time and circumstances."
On the same occasion, Dr. Gould, Mr. Arnot, and Dr. Nelson' spoke in the same spirit.
"Our own Church does not now, and never did, receive that Confession without important explanations. That any of the other negotiating Churches receive it in the same way, cannot possibly, therefore, in and of itself, furnish any ground for saying that there is an objection in principle to our uniting with those Churches on the basis of a common confession. The only possible way in which the contrary could be proved, would be by making it clearly out that these explanations contained something so radically different from ours, and something in which vital principle was so essentially involved, that not even for the sake of an object so great or good as that of union among the unhappily divided sections of our common Scottish Presbyterian Church, would we consent to make that difference a matter of forbearance, and this is really the hinge of the whole controversy."
"No distance breaks the tic of blood;
Brothers are brothers evermore;
Nor wrong, nor wrath of deadliest mood,
That magic may o'erpower:
Oft, ere the common source be known,
The kindred drops will claim their own;
And throbbing pulses silently
Move heart towards heart by sympathy."
IV. What now has our enquiry reached? and what fears and hopes has the review of the past raised in our minds? One in darkness; the same Reformation led us into clearer light, but altered our relationship. Many efforts have been made to bring us together; they have failed—will they continue to fail—is there not in our circumstances here a call from God to join once page 28 more, and seriously to set that as an object before us? Events tend in that direction; the number of persons we have in common has marvellously increased; men are giving up old prejudices—what is to be done?
We thus come to the fourth division of our subject, the Prospects of Contact between Presbyterian and Episcopalian Churches,
Here we approach some difficulties. If we have come, like the two goats in Luther's fable, to the middle of the plank, so that one must bend down for the other to walk over, it will become a great question whether either party has at present enough Christian humility or desire for union as to be willing to take the subordinate place; it may not, however, be necessary to come to this; if, however, it is,—if Episcopalians do come down so far, and yet Presbyterians will not move on and take advantage of it, at whose door will it lie?—at ours or yours? Some Presbyterians say—"Wait a little, they are so anxious to have us—the Bishop of Nelson, and those who think with him, will fall into our arms, and we will absorb them." "Excuse me, I do not think so." A leading member of the Presbyterian community, not in Otago, said very recently to me, "If our people knew all your organization of Diocesan and General Synods, and what power the people have in the appointment of Pastors and Bishops, they would join you directly." I am not so sanguine as that. But what I want to show is, that whereas in a case of this kind there must be some giving and taking, we, as Episcopalians, have given and altered and reformed already. We do not, for example, present you with an arbitrary Church government. The Bishop in our Church, as at present constituted, is, by way of government and executive, above his clergy, and as such is valued by them. I would always myself prefer to be under one man than under many. I do not like committees, or councils, or kirk-sessions, for that reason. If you have to deal with a man, you have all his conscience and kindness there; but when you get to a number of men, one man's conscience crouches down behind his neighbour's.
I am sure no definite Church system is enforced and laid down arbitrarily in the Now Testament; there are records of what was done, evidently as a pattern to be followed; and in the remarkably honest words of one of your own professors, Dr. Islay Burns—"There were three primary elements of the apostolic order—the presiding minister (whether bishop or presbyter bishop), presbyters, and deacons—and to these were added, a.d. 250, other offices." These facts lead us to believe that the Apos- page 29 tles were in the place of Bishops; and when they ceased, Bishops arose, as the office was felt to be necessary.
For the sake of unity, and to avoid too great individuality, the Church erected Episcopacy; and such a form of Church government was certainly in use universally from within 100 years after Christ until 1550, a space of 1400 years. Why so! Because it was the most convenient, natural, primitive, and apostolically sanctioned form of government. The civil power found it indeed a convenient mode of governing the Church, and abused it; but now that we have lighted on a new æra, and the civil power does not govern the Church, but the Church governs itself, we cannot but think that the mode it originally adopted when the State had as little to do with it as now, must be the wisest.
"Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti, si non his utere mecum."
"Farewell: if you can mend these precepts, do:
If not, what serves for us may serve for you."
The prospects of contact lie in the direction, first, of the recognition of Presbyterian orders; and, secondly, in the Presbyterian adoption of Episcopal superintendence and organization.
It is my own opinion, that we in the Church of England ought to recognise formally, as we have already done indirectly, and for a long season actually, the orders of Presbyterian ministers; that we ought to recognise them as ministers of the gospel, and after receiving from them the declaration of their conformity to our standards, admit them to officiate in our Church, subject, of course, to such conditions as our own clergy have imposed on them, and subject to any other restrictions necessary for discipline and order. This may, to some of my own Church, appear a bold step; but are they at all aware that, as a Church, we have already actually recognised them, and that overtures have been made to them from time to time to this effect, which, however, were not accepted, probably from want of confidence in those who offered them.
The foreign Reformed Churches of France and Germany were recognised by such men as Hooker, Lord Bacon, Bishop Davenant, and even Bishop Cosin himself; and although narrower counsels prevailed in the last revision of the Prayer Book, and Episcopal ordination was a sine quâ non, yet it is satisfactory to know that we have, in taking this broad view, so many on our side.page 30
I must commend to the notice of all my so called High Church hearers, the words of Bishop Cosin; he was Bishop of Durham, and one of the chief speakers at the Savoy Conference. Baxter says of him, he was excellently well versed in Canons, Councils, and Fathers, which he remembered, when by citing of any passages we tried him. "I would be loath," he says, to determine that those ordained by Presbyters are no ministers." It is not desirable that Presbyters should make Presbyters, yet their ordination is good and valid. "It is," he says, "the judgment of learned and eminent men, both Catholics and Protestants, that Presbyters have the intrinsic power of ordination in actu primo." And that this was the doctriue of the Church of England, he brings forward the case of a French minister coming to incorporate himself with us. "In such a case we do not reordain, and never did."
- "1. That the ceremonies enjoined or recommended in the Liturgy or Canons be left indifferent.
- "2. That the Liturgy be revised, &c.
- "3. That subscriptions be reduced to one of a very simple character. This has been done.
- "4. That a new body of Canons be made. This we are providing for in the. Constitution and Statutes of our New Zealand branch of the Church of England.
- "5. That ecclesiastical courts be reformed.
- "6. That for the future those who have been ordained in any of the foreign churches be not required to be re-ordained here to render them capable of preferment in the Church.
- "7. That for the future none be capable of any ecclesiastical benefice or preferment in the Church of England that shall be ordained in England otherwise than by Bishops, and that those who have been ordained only by Presbyters shall not be compelled to renounce their former ordination. But because many have and do still doubt the validity of such ordinations where episcopal ordination may be had, and is by law required, it shall be sufficient for such persons to receive ordination from a Bishop in this or the like form—'If thou art not already ordained, I ordain thee.' As in case a doubt be made of anyone's baptism, it is appointed by the Liturgy that he be baptised in this form—'If thou art not baptised, I baptise thee.'"
I merely quote the above as the proposal of an Archbishop of our Church, to meet the objections which will arise rather from our own side than yours, and also to prove my loyalty to our Church system before going further.
As it stands at present, it will be necessary for a Presbyterian minister to be ordained by a Bishop and the Presbyters of the page 31 Diocese ere he could become a full and proper minister of the Church of England. I should not, however, consider this as casting any slur or reproach upon his ordination as a Presbyterian minister. I do not, by requiring him to be ordained, pronounce any opinion upon what he was before; he may have joined any number of sects or professions—he may have been a minister of Christ in and of the Scotch section of the Church, but that does not make him a minister in every other section of the Christian Church, without his being formally recognised as ordained or accepted by that section. I should like to see Presbyterian ministers ordained in the Church of England, so that they might from time to time supply services according to the method prescribed by each Church, or, if it were possible to combine the two together, he might then minister accredited to both. I have a case in point; a good Presbyterian minister, highly esteemed amongst his own people, and having several calls open to him, presented himself to me for ordination in the Church of England; he had no fault to find with Presbyterianism, except that it lacked the bond and superintendence of Episcopacy, a lack felt more in the Colony than any where else. In receiving him, and accrediting him with the examinations he had already passed in admission to the Presbyterian ministry, I felt, and he also, that no opinion was thereby expressed on his status in Presbyterian orders, but he had thereby gained admission to the ministry of the Episcopal Church. I do not feel satisfied with individual exchange of pulpits; it is too private and unauthorised a proceeding, though perhaps the way to authorise it is to try it. There ought to be a mutual recognition that the administrators of each Church have an inherent right to inquire into the motives, and knowledge, and profession, and behaviour, of every one who aspires to be a minister thereof; and, therefore, I am quite ready for myself, if that be the condition laid down, to consent to give my account of my faith to any proper authorities in the Presbyterian Church, who have from the nature of the case a corresponding right to ask a reason of the faith that is in me, with a view to the exercise of that position of Christian minister in connection with such Christian bodies as they themselves may represent. John Howe said, "I will not be re-ordained, because a thing cannot have two beginnings." This seemed a smart, but, was it a true or wise, saying? How much wiser and more reasonable was Leighton's view at the same period, when he having received Presbyterian orders was admitted to Episcopal ordination by Bishop Sheldon. In his opinion, "the re-ordaining a priest or page 32 dained in another Church, imported no more but that they received him into orders according to their own rules, and did not infer the annulling the orders he had formerly received." Did not Howe take for granted that the ministry was the same in each case, whereas the one was a ministry of one community, rule and ritual, and the other a minister distinct in all these respects. Some modified form of service acknowledging the previous ministry if it were in a Church with which we were in communion, might be adopted, or a special service might be composed for the occasion, or some modification made to recognise the de facto previous ordination.
Is it Utopian to expect this? There would probably be some congregations and ministers who would hold out long, perhaps as long as their existence, against such a theory; they would determine to regard a proposal for any thing like re-ordination as an insult, notwithstanding the above explanation; and when a man makes up his mind that you must, shall, and will insult him, not-withstanding all your protestations to the contrary, he believes himself rather than you, and is even confirmed in his belief by your pretexts.
The next perfect point of contact is that of the recognition of Episcopal organization. I do not wish to see what is known as Prelacy restored. No one desires it—certainly not Dunedin. But some, nay many, Presbyterians have already expressed to me their feeling that such an organization has its peculiar merits, and they feel themselves much drawn towards it. I do not fear the direction affairs are taking. The prospects of contact are bright in this direction, and all we desire is to recommend such organization to your gradual adoption, by proving in a quiet and uncontroversial yet progressive manner, that Episcopal organization is one under which the best interests of Christ's Church in New Zealand will most rapidly and permanently be secured.
Whether, as some think, an occasional exchange of pulpits and services should precede any formal expression of recognition of Presbyterian orders on the one side, and of Episcopal government on the other, is a matter which will require very careful consideration. If it be adopted, I venture to suggest that there should be a temporary form of license or admission of this description:—"I, A. B., about to be permitted, or being united, to officiate in such and such a church, do promise, in discharge of such function to abstain from preaching anything contrary to the doctrines or formularies of the Church in whoso buildings I may officiate."
It will be said no fair man or gentleman would take advantage page 33 of suck a position to utter anything contrary to those who invited him there; but we cannot trust to this, and wish to render such a position more formal and in accordance with law. This would give to each as much at least as we already give our laity. The ticket of permission being signed by the whole Presbytery in the one case and by the single Bishop on the other.
I am convinced that some good would result from such a plan. Such occasional conferences and interchanges would lead to better understanding and mutual esteem of each by the other. Men who had stood on the same spot, and preached faith in the same Saviour, and heard one another do so, would in most cases be marvellously drawn to each other, would learn to esteem one another very highly in love for the work's sake, and be at peace among themselves.
Another point and prospect of contact in the future immediately over against us, will be that of our common version of Holy Scripture, and our efforts added to those of others in supporting institutions for the object of disseminating the Bible. With regard to the British and Foreign Bible Society all Church people who support the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel should support the forenamed Society, for without its aid this venerable Society could not carry on its missions. But it is not only in maintaining and circulating our present authorised version that we may unite, we shall have to combine together in support of the editing and publishing of the new revised version of the Scriptures now being undertaken in England. The scorn raised against this work by a few, shows how much they dread the increased power which the Word itself will have, when divested of some of the human imperfections now hanging to it in its external form. It is specially interesting to know, that scholars from the north of the Tweed, and representing the intellectual power of Presbyterianism, are sitting on the Revision Committee side by side with men of strongly pronounced Anglican Church opinions, brought into contact not by force of Royal Mandate, nor Court influence, but by the freedom of a kindly invitation, and the cordiality of a self-imposed task and a mutually recognised duty. Those who have joined together in breaking of the Bread of life in the Word of God, and distributing it to the multitudes waiting for it, will be hereby drawn together into a closer union than they or we have ever yet experienced.
"If on one Book their minds have fed,
And they have in one meaning read."
They will hand over to us for increased distribution amongst the Anglo-Saxon race the Word of God in its purest and most accurate form; and it will be our privilege to unite together, as now, in this our one Bible, and to combine for the purpose of dispersing it over the world.
But common enemies and opponents will bring us together, and force us to find some way of union which the halcyon days of peace and assent would never have brought about. It cannot be denied that Materialism has of late raised its head proudly; there are men amongst us who are materialists, and who are not ashamed to assert it; and there are many more who are such practically, but blush and are angry with the imputation, and try to explain it away; such as these are our real opponents; these are they who will rob us of all high thought, noble enterprise, glorious hope, or animating prospect beyond this life; they are destined to make life a misery, man a being far more unhappy than the brutes he despises, and the world a blank and a great mistake. How are such to be treated; are they to be put down as pests, stamped out as dangerously infectious, or to be tolerated? To be tolerated certainly. To be left alone, or, if handled at all, to be met, not with the boots, thumbscrews, and cropping of ears, as in olden days, but with the anti-dote of increased knowledge more widely diffused, of less smattering, and better balanced education, and well pointed argument. Surely here is work for the Argyles, and M'Leods, and Campbells, and the Mansells, Moselys, and Liddons, on the other. Work in which they may and ought to join, to the help of Truth against Falsehood.
We cannot afford to spend a book or an hour in controversy about Church government, compared with the duty of defending our young men against such unhappy soul and spirit destroying tendencies. The sense of a common danger will make us better friends, and we shall have to thank our opponents for uniting us. Our bookshelves are destined to receive many additions from the combined action of Presbyterians and Episcopalians in arresting a common danger. In presence of the Amorite, Ephraim and Judah will let go their envy and join one another.
But we have opponents in other directions, and we cannot refrain, for the sake of quietness and false peace, from pointing them out, especially as not from any action of ours, but from their own, they force such notions upon us. I refer to the Roman Catholics, and more especially to those of them, whoever they may page 35 be, who, discontented with the quietness in which that body has hitherto held amidst the great Protestant community, have forced the controversy on us, through the novel, specious, but unreasonable demands made in their name. Many who would gladly have let controversy sleep, will be of necessity provoked to revive their real Protestant feeling, and jealously to watch with eyes wide open, that our liberties are not taken away before we are aware of it.
Not only in Dunedin, but in Nelson and elsewhere, we are asking what are to be the limits of interference with education, in a country which has determined not to endow any religion, but to tolerate all such as do not interfere with the liberty of the person We are asking what is to be the limit of Romanist claims upon our educational funds, and the mode of their disbursement. We hear that history has to be re-written to please them; that their young men when they go to College are not to read the same English history as their comrades. Will you agree to this? Will you, at their dictation, blot out a painful but yet a most instructive page of English history which we are not I hope ashamed of, nor have we ceased to be thankful for it as a whole, viz., the Reformation.
Was it a mistake? Was it not needed? It was indeed brought about by mixed motives, but for all that we are thankful for it, and stand to its principles,—which are, liberty of thought, liberty of speech, the Word in our own tongue, and no [other] mediator between God and man, but Christ Jesus. We will run the full risk of what private judgment will lead us to. We do not advocate ignorant private judgment, but well informed private judgment; and are quite sure that, with a God above, a revelation in our hands, His government before our eyes, the experience of history, the guidance of Christ's Church, and His voice of conscience in our hearts, we shall not go far wrong.
We must stand together in this matter, and take care that the story of arbitrary religious tyranny, and the emancipation of our country from the foreign Papal yoke, be told to our children. Is it that we wish to keep an old sore open? No, it is not we who do so. It is they who propose to pass such a rule as this in the year 1869-70. In the Canon XII. of a batch of Canons, published not long ago (Bishop Moran denies the existence of these Canons, but see the reasons for believing them to have been proposed,' or at all events intended for consideration, in the postscript), it is declared—"Whoever says that Christ, page 36 our Saviour and Sovereign, has conferred on the Church the power to direct only by advice and persuasion those who turn aside, but not to compel them by orders, by force, by external verdicts and salutary punishments, let him be anathema." In the celebrated Syllabus, it is laid down that "ecclesiastical law takes precedence of civil law;" that "the sacred ministers of the Church should have care and dominion over temporal things;" that "the Catholic religion should be considered as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship."
By the Canons above quoted, if they are passed, every Roman Catholic makes it a part of his creed that it is lawful for the Church to persecute; and, of course, if his Church is infallible, it must be lawful to persecute. It is all fearfully consistent as a system. It stands or falls altogether. These are the arrogant claims of Rome, as pretentious now as at any time of her history; they are recognised professedly by one-tenth of the population of this Province, but utterly repudiated, I trust, by the remainder, and denounced by them. We say such doctrines are dangerous to the liberty of the subject; and as such the State, our State at least, ought not to support them. Give them their full and fair share of the rates; insist on their teaching their children to read and write, let them share equally and fairly with all other citizens, but let us not be partakers in the responsibility of forwarding the detestable doctrine that the Church may persecute.
"Let us not be ashamed of but glory in our Protestantism! Let us make no compromise with the lying vanities of Sacerdotalism, whether its home be Italy or England. But rather say boldly, say strongly, yet say it in charity—I want no chair of human authority, I want no voice of human infallibility, I want no person sitting in God's temple, calling himself whether Christ's vicar or God's vicegerent; these things are all foreign, all repugnant to the spirit of my Christianity; these things are so many veils and barriers between me and my God. My Church is not poor because she has them not—it would be her shame, her deformity, if she thought she had them. It is written in the Prophets, and Christ, the Lord of the Prophets, condescends to endorse the saying—'In gospel days they shall all be taught of God.'"
In such sentiments I hope we now are one; and if those who avow allegiance of body and soul to Rome force themselves, as page 37 they seem inclined to do, on our notice, we must, however reluctantly, and it is with reluctance join together as fellow Protestants to withstand exaggerated claims, wilful misrepresentations, and snares for our liberty. We cannot surely consent, either for the sake of Secularist or Romanist, to deprive our children of our common inheritance; and I believe you will find all Episcopalians ready to support such a provision as has been made by the London School Board in reference to the reading of the Bible in the rate paid schools. Our Synod did not mean, I think, to go further than this, except in cases where denominational teaching is already given, and given well. It said, as the Parliament of England recently said, it is not right or wise in a new scheme of education to ignore what has been done by the denominations? and we only ask that, if a general scheme is promoted, it may not be allowed to overturn existing denominational schools, provided they are efficient.
I sincerely trust that, come what may, you in Otago will keep the honourable position you have already maintained, in having the Word of God read in your schools. I was told that for the last fifteen years, up till a few weeks ago, no difficulty had occurred. Why this disposal to change?—whence does it emanate? We will be true to our principles of complete toleration; but we claim that, with an ample conscience clause, no real wrong is done; the 27,000 Presbyterians, and the 14,500 members of the Church of England, have a right not to be overriden. Long may Otago flourish by the reading of the Holy Scriptures in the Public Schools; they must not, and they need not, be made arenas of controversy or proselytising; but the motto of Christians at least should be, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
We read the Bible in schools, because if parents read it at home, they at least will be thankful to be helped by the additional study of it by their children in school; and if from ignorance, or any other cause, children do not read it at home, then we hold it to be more than ever a duty and privilege for them to be taught it at school.
At all events, we Episcopalians and Presbyterians are at one on this point—we wish the Bible read by our children. Are we to be refused this? If so, where is our boasted liberty and toleration!
My friends, I have now completed my task; the end has come at last,—I fear you must be weary; but I am only here for a short page 38 time. I have no reason to think that, after this visit is past, I shall be here amongst you again; but I am thankful that you have credited me with a desire to promote union, and I feel assured that those of my own Church, who perhaps would like to sit down and be left alone, will, on reflection, see the urgency of the call to reunion, and I hope recognise the daily increasing facilities for the same. It may not be in our day. God forbid too that we should be busy about systems and machinery, and at the same time neglect the end. I have dwelt thus long on the means, but your heart, I hope, is with my heart, that it is the same end we have in view, viz., the salvation of individual souls. If the experience of history and mutual concession, and Christian confidence, and opposition of outward enemies, bind us together, there is another power—
H AtaΠh Toy XpiΣtoy Σynexei HmaΣ (The Love of Christ Constraineth us!)
"I heed not much of forms; I thought
'Twere well indeed if we were brought
From our lax ways, and sects, and hate,
To primitive Episcopate,
And prayers lisped of old
By infants in the fold.
"Yet reck I not of forms; full well
I know the pearl gives to the shell
Some beauty and virtue like its own,
Some shining hue and gorgeous tone;
And the old forms to me
Gleam with old sanctity.
"Yet what boot they, and what boots all
Our garb ecclesiastical,
The white-robed priest, the altar high.
If we do err from charity.
O God, all gods above!
Knit us with cords of love!
"For O, I love not man's device
Of policy or statecraft nice,
Nor would I plant what I love most,
Christ's Gospel, even at the cost
Of hate and blood, which we
Bequeath to history.
"And I had been content to try
This or the other! What care I
For Priest or Presbyter, or Lawn
And Mitre?—I am no more drawn
By words and names and shows,
But what they do enclose.
"I love the kirk, with ages hoar;
I love old ways—but Christ far more;
I love the fold—I love the flock;
But more my Shepherd and my Rock;
And the great book of grace,
That mirrors His dear face!"
"The Bishop's Walk" Orwell.
* In 1590, Queen Elizabeth wrote to James the Sixth thus,—"Let me warn you, that there is risen, both in your realme and myne, a sect of perilous consequence, such as would have no King but a Presbyterye, and take our place, while they enjoy our privilege. Yes, look we well unto them."
In 1592, James the Sixth said,—" It would not be weill till nobleman and gentlemen gott license to break ministers heads."
We are not surprised accordingly at finding the following disloyal utterance from John Ross, a minister of the Scotch Kirk, by way of repartee, in 1594. "Admit that our King be a Christien King, yit but a man dement, he is a reprobate King. Of all the men in this nation, the King himself is the maist fynest and maist dissembling hypocrit."
The reason why King James was so violent for Bishops, was neither their divine institution (which he denied they had), nor yet the profit the Church should reap from them, for he knew the men and their communications, but merely because he believed they were useful instruments to turn a limited monarchy into absolute dominion and subjects into slaves, the design in the world he minded most.—Quoted in Buckle's History of Civilization in England, vol. iii. ch. 3.