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apprehended as a necessary consequence, the rejection of which must do violence to the whole Creed. They are “not only badges of profession” but also “ certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace.” They exhibit objectively the realities they represent. So we have it asserted very distinctly in the New Tes. tament. Such was the faith, from the beginning, of the universal ancient Church. Such also is the original Protestant faith, as held by the two great confessions, Lutheran and Reformed, on the Continent, as well as by the Episcopal Church in England. Our author closes his view of this subject with the following paragraph, which we commend specially to the consideration of all evangelical skeptics, who make a merit of sneering at the idea of sacramental grace, whether in the case of baptism or in the case of the Lord's supper, as though it were the same thing with the “opus operatum" itself in the worst sense of Rome.
“It remains only to recall that which has been already stated, as applicable to both the sacred ordinances which have been considered. The reality of both of them has been maintained: it has been affirmed that Baptism is not merely the expression of a charitable hope; that the Lord's supper is not a bare act of pious recollection. The essential principle of each of them has been shown to be union with the perfect manhood of Christ Our Lord. Let it be remembered only in conclusion, that to deny their reality is to assail the great principle of the Mediation of Christ. For the Doctrine of Our Lord's Mediation does not rest only on the Divine power of Christ, as a partaker in the nature of self-existent Godhead; it implies also that, by associating man's nature to His own, He has made created being the channel of His gifts. Now, as the media through which these gifts are dispensed to His brethren ; as the ramifications, whereby His Divine nature distributes itself on the right hand and the left
, these two Sacraments go togethertheir importance is equal—their effect alike-and to disparage them is to derogate from that principle of action which the wisdom of God has seen fitting to adopt. Every attempt to explain them away, every contrivance for extenuating the real import of what they effect, is a virtual detracting from the reality of that objective and actual influence, which Christ the Mediator is pleased to exert. Its tendency is to resolve His actions into a mctaphor, and His existence into a figure of speech. His specific and personal agency as the Eternal Son, who in the fulness of time conjoined Himself to man's nature for the recovery of a fallen race, is merged in the general action of that ultimate Spirit, whom none but Atheists professedly reject. For the real objection against the Sacramental system does not arise from any deficiency in its Scriptural authority, which has been shown to be ample, but from the abstract improbability that external ordinances can be the means of obtaining internal gifts. Now, this improbability rests on the circumstance that the natural mean of connexion with God is the intercourse of mind with mind, and consequently that the intercourse through Sacraments is supernatural. The connexion with God, i. e. which man received by creation, and which Rationalism affirms to be sufficient for his wants, is more compatible with men's natural position, than that new system of Mediation which has been revealed in the Gospel. But let the doctrine of mediation be admitted, and it ceases to be an argument against the Sacramental system that it does not accord with that scheme of nature, which the Gospel professes to supersede. And the Rationalistic argument against these means of grace, is of equal avail against that whole scheme of Mediation upon which they are dependent. If the natural intercourse of mind with the unembodied mind of the Creator supersedes the necessity of Sacramental ordinances, does it not supersede equally the humanity of Christ? If man has still that immediate communion with God, of which Scripture affirms that the Fall deprived him, what need is there of a Mediator between them? Thus does' the objection mount up from earth to heaven--from Christ feeding men below through Sacraments, to Christ mediating above by His Atonement and Intercession. For .if we have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if we tell you of heavenly things?' If the Sacraments be thus emptied of their meaning, it is because the present actings of Christ as the Son of Man are not appreciated; and the purposes of His Incarnation are forgotten. And this forgetfulness again may be traced to unbelief in that real diversity of Persons in the Blessed Trinity, in which all creaturely existence has its ultimate root. Thus does a practical Sabellianism respecting Christ's Person coincide with that Rationalistic theory, by which the reality of His Sacraments is disputed. And their surrender is fatal to the true Doctrine concerning Himself, even as the true doctrine of His nature sets the importance of these instruments in a proper light.”—P. 346-348.
Archdeacon Wilberforce is of course a High Churchman, and his whole work is designed to be in favor of Episcopacy as established in the Church of England. At the same time however, he knows very well how to distinguish between the form of Christianity in this view and its true interior life and substance. There are two sorts of high churchmanship. One starts with a certain system of outward order, as though it were the first thing, the main thing, settled and sure by divine appointment in and of itself, and made to inclose thus externally all truth besides as its necessary boundary and hedge. In this way, too often, we
find Episcopalians laying all stress on their favorite system, as of divine right and obligation apart from its own contents altogether; as though Christ had been pleased to provide by such an outward institute in the first place for the safe-keeping of his truth and grace, and it were possible now by simply historical evidence, or in the way of ecclesiastical tradition, to make sure of this always as the necessary condition and medium of reaching what lies beyond. Episcopacy, with this way of thinking, is taken to be the primary interest of Christianity, an indispensable stepping stone a: least, or threshhold, to all ihat constitutes ils interior sanctuary. It is to be accepted first as the necessary inclosure and platform of the Church. Vast pains are taken to establish iis claims in this abstract view, on grounds and reasons that have nothing to do whatever with the inward constitution of Christianity itself; and vast affectation follows, in parading such merely outward prerogative as a substitute for everything else, and a sufficient apology for overlooking and despising all earnest thought under a different form. This is pedantry, and so far as it prevails tends naturally and of right to bring the Church theory, with which it is associated, into discredii and contempt. But there is another way of holding and asserting the claims of the Church. It is to begin, not with the circumference of Christianity, but with its centre, the mystery of the Incarnation as we find it set forth in the Creed, and so to proceed 10 what flows from this for faith by necessary consequence and derivation. In this way the idea of the Church comes first; and what its actualization may be found to comprehend subsequently, is apprehended and accepted in such living inward connection, not as something extemal to the proper christian life, but as the very form and expression of this life itself. It is in this order, that Archdeacon Wilberforce presses the claims of his subject. He sees the danger of substiiuting the Church as a formal system in place of its Head, and finds the only right security against it in the sense of their inward relation 10 each other as it springs from the christological fact itself.
“So long as the Church is regarded as an external system, based on certain laws and administered by certain leaders, it can never fail to enlist a measure of that party spirit which belongs to man's nature, and thus to draw away attention from the holy purposes for which it was instituted. The only safeguard against this danger is the due subordination of its external frame-work to its internal principle ; and the constant recognition that its life depends, not on the gifts of government, but on the gifts of grace. If the essence of the Church's existence be that certain men have a right to rule, and teach, and minister, whether they be chosen by the free voice of the congregation, imposed by government, or delegated by the Apostles, there is such large opening for cabal and dispute, that love and peace and Christ's presence will soon be lost in the din of party strife. The Presbyterian platform offers as good footing to the spirit of partisanship as the system of Episcopacy ; and the Pilgrim Fathers of Massachusetts were as ready to persecute as Boniface or Hildebrand. But let the essence of the Church's existence be felt to be Christ's presence-let it be remembered that His manhood is the true seed of the renewed race, and that through spiritual presence it bestows its life-giving power on all the members of His mystic body-let every other question be dependent upon these-let them take their place, as of subordinate importance, and as merely contributing to this great result—and what room is there for discord between Christ and the Church, when the Church is Christ Himself manifest in His mystic body? For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church. The theorist may be unvisited by the sun's warmth while he discusses its nature, or the poet while he describes its brilliancy; but how can we loose sight of his glorious beams by going forth to walk in the sunshine ? And so long as this Divine principle is kept fully in view, it can hardly fail to soften and elevate those whom it influences. So that if the harshness of party-spirit be not cured, it may at least be abated.”—P. 268–269.
High Churchmanship, in this view, is everywhere entitled to respect. The Creed owns it in distinct terms, and it meets us from all sides in the faith of the early Church; to such an ex
; tent indeed that without it there can be no power to understand or appreciate this faith fully in any direction. The inferences which some feel authorised to draw from the idea of the Church in favor of Episcopacy, or farther still in favor of Romanism, are another thing. We have nothing to do with them here, in the way either of favor or opposition. They are at all events not wbat can be considered first and foremost, either as to evidence or importance, in this great question of the Church. There is a wide field of theological truth beyond them, and back of them in the order of faith, which it is quite possible for us to enter and possess intelligently before coming to their settlement and resolution at all, and which indeed we must possess with such preliminary occupation, in order to be at all qualified for this secondary work. For what is a man's faith worth in Episcopacy for instance, as a divine institution, who has not in the first place, as the root and ground of this a firm faith in the idea of “one, holy, catholic Church” as necessarily flowing from the idea of the Incarnation, and whose mind is not led from this centre out to the other supposed necessary peripheral interest of Christianity, rather than in the reverse order from what is the circumference merely to the centre? And so on the other hand what is a man's rejection of Episcopacy worth, or his rejection we may add of Romanism itself, if it be not supported from behind by any true acknowledgment of the mystery of Christ and his Church, as we find it proclaimed from the beginning in the universal christian Creed?' A controversy about Episcopacy between these who have not in their minds the sense of the Church as a divine mystery in the world, under the form of an a priori necessity starting in Christ, must ever be a waste of words more or less, on both sides. As such an a priori object of faith, then, the idea of the Church offers wide scope for contemplation and inquiry back of this controversy altogether; and in the circumstances of the present time especially, it is of the utmost account that this preliminary ground should be properly regarded and fairly taken into use under its separate characier, without embarrassment from any such relations, which after all are of secondary rather than primary account, and even if taken in this view to be absolutely necessary, inust still be held to be so in the way of derivation only from what goes before and not as its ground and
We like this book of Wilberforce on this account. However much it may aim to serve the cause of Episcopacy, that is not made the front at all of its argument. It starts with the beginning, and not with what at best should be counted only as the end. It plants itself on deeper ground, and throws itself back on the substance of Christianty as something older than Episcopacy, something that must of necessity underlie all its pretensions and claims, if they are to be fouud in any case worihy of respect. It is an argument for the idea of the Church, as founded on the glorious mystery of the Word made flesh and its perennial force in the world, which all who call themselves christians are bound to own and confess, whether such acknowledgment be felt to involve Episcopal conc?usions or not. We may resist these, if it seem fit, and yet allow in full the force of what is involved in the idea of the Church as their supposed foundation. The inquiry here offered to our view, though in Episcopal hands, belongs in truth to Christianty in its most comprehensive character and form; all denominations, that have not formally or informally renounced the Apostles' Creed, may meet here as on common territory; for the question of the Church, as an article of faith, is one in which they are all alike bound to take interest, whatever may be their difference of view in regard to the outward form and order of the Church.