Page images

Catholic Church.

[ocr errors]

unbelief fastened upon him, and he found no rest until he enjoyed peace in believing.” But to return to the Manuscript :

66 Mr. R at length began to move his chair, and give indications that he was about to propose another question.

There is another expression in the creed,' said he, that I should like to hear explained. The expression is clear enough to my own mind, but some of our friends here have I presume, heard it referred to, as a proof that there is a perfect agreement and fellowship between the Episcopal, and the Romish Church. I allude to the clause, I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.'

“ Never was there a greater piece of arrogance, I replied, than the claim of the Romanists to be the Catholic Church. While they have, in a measure, appropriated this name to themselves, many of the Protestant churches seem to have lost sight of what is comprehended under this term. Cath. olic means unicersal, general and metaphorically, liberal; the reverse of narrow-minded and bigoted. The question is frequently asked-In what light do Episcopalians view chris. tians of other denominations. Here is our answerI believe in the Holy Catholic Church. This church is not made up of one denomination--but of the professing christians of all denominations, who have one Lordone Faithone Baptism. As the ocean, washing the shores of different and distant countries, takes different names as it becomes formed into bays and harbors, where it touches the borders of those countries, yet after all, those bays and harbors constitute parts of the ocean : So in like manner, though the church of Christ in different quarters of the globe, assumes different names, and is formed into separate denominations—yet after all, these constitute parts of the great Catholic Church. ‘All those belong to the visible church,' says the pious and judicious Hooker, “who are signed with this mark—one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.' In whomsoever these things are, the church doth acknowledge them for her children; them only she holdeth for aliens and strangers, in whom these things are not found. If by external profession they be christians, then they are of the visible church of Christ; and christians, by external profession, they are all, whose mark of recognizarice, hath in it those things which we have mention

Archbishop Secker. ed."* Or to use the language of Archbishop Secker, Christ's Church is the whole number of those who believe on him. How much soever they may differ in some opinions or practices, yet they are one in all things essential. How wide soever they may be dispersed throughout the world, they shall at last be gathered together unto him.t We can judge only according to appearances : and therefore, to us, all those must be members of Christ's Church, who make a visible profession of being christians. The first quality ascribed to the church is, that it is holy. In outward profession, the whole visible Church of Christ is holy; separated and distinguished from the rest of the world by acknowledging his holy laws, and using the means of holiness which he hath appointed. But in the inward sense, and the only one which will hereafter avail, they alone are members of this holy church, who by the help of those means do really improve themselves in piety and virtue, becoming holy in all manner of conversation, as he which hath called them is holy. 1. Pet. 15. The Church is said to be catholic. The word catholic, applied to the Church is no where used in the scriptures, but frequently in the early christian writers, and it means universal extending to all mankind. The Jewish Church was not universal, but particular, for it consisted only of one nation. The Christian Church consists of every kindred, tongue, and people. Rev. 5,7. The Catholic Church, then, is the universal church, spread throughout the world; and the catholic - faith is the universal faith, that form of doctrine which the apostles delivered. Rom. 6, 11. What this faith was, we may learn from their writings contained in the New Testament, and we can learn it with certainty no where else. Every church or society of christians that preserve this catholic or universal faith, accompanied with true charity, - is a part of the catholic or universal church, and because the parts are of the same nature with the whole, it hath been usual to call every church singly, which is so qualified, a catholic church. And in this sense churches that differ widely in several notions and customs, may, notwithstanding, each of them be truly catholic churchest.

* Jooker's Eccles. Polity, Book 3, Sect. 1
+ Yumb. xvi. 3.
# Secker's works, vol.iv, p. 327 328, 329.

Erroneous impressions. “ Such are the enlarged and liberal views of Episcopalians in reference to the Catholic Church. I am perfectly aware that when men's minds are prejudiced, they can see evil in every thing. I will here relate a little incident in illustration of what I mean

“A clerical brother, a most amiable, worthy, and heavenly-minded minister of the Episcopal Church, went on one occasion to M to preach. The people there in general, knew very little of the church, and had very strong preju. dices against it. On the occasion referred to, a large congregation came out to hear the Episcopal minister. Among the number was one of some influence in the community, who prided himself on his superior powers of discrimination, by which he supposed he could detect the slightest departure from the standard of evangelical correctness. After the service had ended, this man and a neighbor of his, walked home in company with each other.

“* And what did you think of the Episcopal minister said his neighbor.

" " I did not like him at all,' was the reply.' “ • And why? He surely gave us a genuine gospel sermon.' 6. Yes : but his prayers were all wrong.' “ In what respect ?' enquired the neighbor.

Why,' said he, ‘he prayed for the Universalist Church, thus intimating that he was on good terms with them, and he also declared in his creed which he repeated, that he believ. ed in the Catholic Church, that mother of abominations, seated on the seven hills of Rome.'

“ Thus you see, this man's ignorance and prejudices in conjunction, invested the Episcopal service with tremendous attributes of evil. In the prayer for all conditions of men, it is said, "we pray for thy Holy Church universal. This had been interpreted into a prayer for the Universalişts. And the article in the creed, of which we have just been speaking, I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,' was regarded by this oracle of orthodoxy, as proof positive, that Episcopalians perfectly syrnbolized in church matters with the Papists.

“ I trust the remarks that have been offered, by way of elucidating the expression · Holy Catholic Church,'have not only shown the propriety of the expression, but have fixed your attention upon the interesting fact, that in the belief of

[ocr errors]

The Communion of Saints.

Episcopalians, the Catholic Church comprises not simply one denomination of christians, but the whole body of believers throughout the world. All true believers are united to Christ, their spiritual head : they are built on the same foundation—they embrace substantially the same faith-theyreceive the same sacraments—they are called in one hope of their calling—they are in the most important and essential things, of one mind—they acknowledge Christ as their Lord. In fact, they have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and therefore they are virtually one people, and constitute one church—the Catholic Church.* Yes, Episcopalians do believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the mystical body of Christ, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.'t And they also believe in the Communion of Saints.

What a delightful subject is here brought to view? If all true believers constitute one body, and are united to Christ their spiritual head, they must all have one spiritual life flowing from him. “And, as Leighton remarks, this communion holds not only on earth, and in heaven apart, but even betwixt heaven and earth. The saints on earth make up the same body with those already in glory.'! This idea is beautifully expressed in one of our hymns.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“What an argument does this consideration present to lead us to cultivate a kindly intercourse with our fellow christians' What expansion, and elevation of thought does this whole subject impart ?

“ Let us follow out the ideas contained in these two clauses of the creed, · The Holy Catholic Church'- The Communion of Saints.

“Every baptized follower of the Lamb, who with us, acknowledges Christ •Lord of all,' of whatever name, or nation he may be, is a christian brother, belonging to the


* See Bp. Pearson on the Creed, 2d vol, p. 236—240, Also Archbishop Leighton, vol. 2. p. 312.

+ Communion Service of the Episcopal church, * Leighton's works, vol, 2. p. 312,

The Saints in glory. Catholic Church, and one whom we should bid God speed. What a great and glorious family does the universal church consist of! A part of its members are already in heaven, holding the harps of glory in their hands! A part of them are still in the wilderness, journeying onward amid toils, and trials, and weariness, steadily looking unto Jesus, the duthor and finisher of their faith! This is the company which you propose to join. Another portion is to be gathered from those pagan lands, over which now broods more than midnight darkness. By and by, when God has gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him

• When the saints of all ages in harmony meet,
Their Saviour and brethren, transported to greet,
While the anthems of rapture, unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul-

When on Zion's glorious hill, shall stand the whole num. ber of God's elect—when the last blood-bought sinner of our race, shall have turned to God, and have come to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven', then, if we are so happy as to be among that number, we shall begin fully to understand how much meaning is conveyed in these terms, · The Holy Catholic ChurchThe Communion of Saints !

Here the manuscript abruptly terminates.

« PreviousContinue »