Imatges de pàgina
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had been, but he attributes this, not to the special
point of view of the English Church, but to the
troubles consequent on the Rebellion. The return of
Charles II. will, he hopes, restore order again. Thus
the English Church throws the responsibility upon the
individual of choosing whether he will satisfy himself
with the public and general confessions and absolutions,
or seek the private assurance of absolution. It is no
doubt better that it should be so: better for the Church
and for the individuals. But it is not without danger.
For the methods of an individual with himself are not
wholly unlikely to be lax, and it is probable that com-
munion is very often administered to persons who are
very far from being worthy to receive it.

2. In dealing with matrimony the Church consecrates
a relation which is in itself natural. Men and women
have lived together in the bonds of wedlock loyally and
faithfully, quite apart from any benediction from the
Church of Christ: and, beyond question, they can do so
again. The marriage ceremony, therefore, in itself has
nothing to do with the contract between the man and
his wife. The solemnity of the act, in the secular life,
is the reason why the Church lays its hand upon it,
and takes it into the range of its operations. And what
is more than this, the closeness and permanence of the
union is used by S. Paul as a figure to express the bond
between Christ and His Church. It is in this connexion
that the sacramental aspect of matrimony comes before
Christian marriage, blessed and witnessed to by
the Church, should be a perpetual symbol of this mysti-
cal union between Christ and His Spouse. Matrimony
is one of the points where the standard of the Church is
most likely to vary from the standard of the State.


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But the difficulty will be lessened if it be recognized that the Church, as such, has no connexion with the civil contract of marriage, as between persons who are not in communion with it. The Marriage-service is meaningless, except as a legal form, unless the persons are and mean to remain in communion with the Church. That a priest should be compelled to use it for any two persons, whatever their religion or life, is a most curious anomaly.

3. In a book recently published under the title, What God hath Wrought, there are some very remarkable accounts of the Unction of the sick. The book describes in a diary form the events of a mission to missionaries in various parts of the world, sent out from the Keswick Convention. Three cases are mentioned where Unction was performed upon sick persons in obedience to the command of S. James (chap. v. 14). All were followed by recovery, though in one case the recovery was only temporary. As described by the author of this book, the acts were formally irregular, even according to the standard laid down by S. James. In one case it was performed by the author himself, a young layman, in whom it is difficult to recognize the elders of the Church.' Were it not for these cases, which may possibly be more than isolated occurrences, we should have said that Unction was practically, as it is formally, obsolete in the English Church. There seems no doubt that the original form of the Sacrament was intended not as the last act before death, but as a means to recovery. The cases cited would, therefore, be so far completely in accordance with ancient precedent. As administered now in the Roman Communion, it is the sign that the dying man passes away in full possession of the

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privileges of Church-membership, and with the final benediction upon him of the Church of Christ on earth.

4. We now come to discuss the ordinance upon which the whole visible order of the Church turns -Holy Orders. The first question to be asked in relation to it is, What is the idea of an ordained person? An ordained person is one who is commissioned to perform certain work, and to whom there is given a certain special power towards the performance of it. The power by which he acts is the power of the Church, as a whole, concentrated and specially conveyed to the ordained minister. That is, the power which the Church bestows belongs ultimately to it, and because it so belongs to the whole Church, it is conveyed to the particular minister. In a very real sense there is a priesthood belonging to the whole Church, shared in by every member of it; and it is in virtue of this general priesthood, in the exercise of the Church's right to define its own organization, that the special commissions are given. At the same time, the power which the Church gives is from God; it confers, as in Confirmation, so in Ordination, gifts of the Holy Ghost.

The exercise of this power dates back to the beginning of the history of the Church, as we have already noticed. Deacons were appointed with special ministries when occasion arose, but certain other powers were reserved which the deacons were not permitted to exercise. Philip the deacon baptized, but the Apostles are sent after them to confirm. So it is the elders who ordain S. Paul and S. Barnabas and S. Timothy : this function belongs to them. The history of the origin of the threefold ministry is in some degree obscure.


There is, however, one point in connexion with it which is not obscure, viz., that the Church accepted from the first the principle of differentiation of function; and that the effect of this was to restrict those to whom ministry was assigned to the performance of the duties committed to them. Hence the rejection of the principle of ordained ministers is a serious departure from the practice of the Church; and it is no less an act of schism if a person transgresses the limits of the ministry assigned to him.

We may perhaps admit for purposes of argument that the Church might conceivably have adopted some other method of performing its functions. It might have left the conduct of public worship and the administration of the Sacraments in the hands of the members as a body, so that any one who was so moved might act in the name of the Church. This plan might have been chosen, and there are those who think that it had better have been So. If they attempt, however, to innovate upon ancient practice, they have this firm fact against them, that the Church did adopt the other plan. And if it be urged that it was a mistake which we can now see clearly enough to rectify, such an argument virtually resigns all theory of Church unity whatever, and denies, in effect, that the Spirit of God rules over it. A body of which the Spirit of God controls the mind does not make mistakes of this sort. And, if it be argued further, that the plan of differentiated function and limited commission was a temporary expedient only, and that its day is past, we answer that this again is theoretically possible. As the Church defined its organization once in one way, it could theoretically do so again in another. But there are reasons for supposing that the time for reconsideration

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of the original method is not yet come: of which the chief is this-that the reconsideration is urged upon us by persons who speak from the individualist position and reject altogether the idea of a Church. The question of having or not having a specially ordained ministry is not the real point at issue. The real and ultimate matter in dispute is whether Christ founded a society or aimed merely at the conversion of a number of individual souls; whether, in fact, there is any body such as to require organization at all. We have already discussed this point at an earlier stage, and the general question of Holy Orders is carried, for us, by our decision. Specialized functions belong to an organized body: if there is no organic unity there will be no need for defining the functions of individuals. But no organization, that rises above the lowest and least complex levels, can carry on its work without division of labour.


The idea, then, expressed by the title 'an ordained minister is that to such a person is given a definite commission and definite gifts. The process of Ordination is therefore sacramental. The power is conveyed by the act of laying-on of hands, which is the outward sign of the grace conferred. It is an act in which the Holy Spirit, the Guide and Ruler of the Church, is directly concerned. The essential feature of the whole act is the transmission of defined powers. An ordained person is not a plenipotentiary, he is free within the limits of his commission, but that is all. Hence the importance of the doctrine of succession. It is not that there is a mystical semi-magical efficacy in the Apostolic source of the Ordination gift: but that in this way only is the limitation preserved which the principle of trans

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