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cant: is it not also true that the phrase, “ We have found our Lord in the Church of England," frequently comes under the same odious designation? How many of those who are taught to use them can explain clearly and definitely what they mean? And when the words have some meaning, what is it but something of this kind, “ We have gone to the Holy Communion, and have there received what we believed to be the Body and Blood of our Lord; we have felt that it was so; we have felt within ourselves the effects of it; we have felt sensibly these effects; we will not, then, commit the sin of leaving Christ where we have found Him, and going elsewhere to seek Him."
Now what is the principle involved in such reasoning as this? Are the Sacraments really objects of sense ? Can the wonderful, mysterious, and supernatural graces which they confer be infallibly detected, like the results of earthly food and medicine, by the sensations of those who receive them? Is any man so competent a judge in his own case whether he has or has not received supernatural gifts from God, as to be justified in pledging his soul on his convictions? Is not this argument the very same which is denounced in “ Evangelieals” and Dissenters, who make much of their personal experiences, and of their assurances that their sins are forgiven, and that our Blessed Lord has in some way manifested Himself to them and admitted them to His favour?
Let us, however, examine this whole system of treating the Sacraments a little more in detail ; as it respects some other of those ordinances which are regarded as either Sacraments, or as sacramental, by the Anglican school. Of Protestant baptism we need say nothing; for we admit the existence of no such rite. All baptism, rightly administered, whether by Protestant or Catholic hands, is Catholic baptism; it regenerates the soul, and admits into the Catholic Church; and being such, if an Anglican ought not to forsake the community in which he was baptised, no more ought a Dissenter, whether Socinian or otherwise. The grossness of this delusion is, however, so palpable, that, as we have remarked, the betterinformed class of High Churchmen have ceased to take it as their motto. The ground of defence is now shifted to others of the seven Sacraments, which it is supposed are possessed by members of the Established Church.
Confirmation is the first rite in which the High-Churchman believes that he receives a grace essentially sacramental. How this opinion is tenable in connection with a reception of the authoritative and obligatory teaching of the Anglican Church, we find it impossible to perceive. The 25th of the Thirty-nine Articles classes it with extreme unction as a corrupt
following of the Apostles when viewed as a Sacrament.
The Homilies, which say something in favour of penance being in a certain sense a sacrament, do not say it of confirmation; the confirmation-service is quite opposed both in tone and language to any idea of sacramental grace. Add to all this, that this rite is never conferred upon any who are under the age
of reason, it being supposed that it cannot be so conferred; while in the Catholic Church, though confirmation is usually delayed till the child has the full use of reason, yet it may be, and occasionally is, administered to an infant.
An illustration of the truth of this statement is to be found in what took place under Elizabeth between the discontented Puritan party, consisting of some clergymen suspended for nonconformity, and the commission of Bishops, consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Whitgift), and the Bishops of London, Sarum, and Rochester. The Puritans objected to the words of the preface to the Catechism, in which the word confirmation (among other things) occurred; the Bishops replied, that the Church of England did not intend what they supposed about Baptism (on which point the discussion then was); and that the intention of the passage objected to was to dissuade “ from the opinion which the Papists had of the confirmation, called bishoping, which they believed to be necessary to salvation, and do think that children are not perfectly baptised until they be also bishoped; and therefore they made confirmation a sacrament, and bring their children thereunto being infants: whereas the Church of England has no such opinion thereof, but doth use it for this end specially, that children may know what their godfathers promised for them in their baptism, and also learn to perform the same."*
That a certain moral effect may be traced to the devout use of Anglican confirmation, treated solely as an edifying rite, we are not at all bound to deny. The same, however, may be said of catechetical instruction, sermons, the conversation of pious people, and the perusal of pious books, and the like. An eminent Anglican writer has informed us that very good results often follow this ceremony, when practised, as it is, by the Lutherans in Denmark.
In passing on to the subject of Penance, we must again declare that we are as far as possible from wishing to hold up to scorn or condemnation the feelings, motives, and conduct of those who, in the agony of their conscience, have adopted those means which most readily have presented themselves for endeavouring to rid themselves of their past sins; nor do we deny that in this endeavour they have experienced that practical consolation which Almighty God gives to those who try, however imperfectly, to submit themselves to His will. Ali this, however, proves nothing as to the sacramental efficacy of Anglican confession and absolution. The argument, as put by the clergymen who take upon themselves this awful responsibility, runs thus: “It is quite clear we have the power of the keys, because such a number of people who come to us to
* Collier, part ii. book 7.
a confession lead so much holier and better lives than they did formerly."
Will they be astonished if we reply, that, for our part, we should be extremely surprised if they did not? The argument involves a complete confusion of thought. There are two distin efits arising from the use of this Sacrament: the one supernatural, and the other natural; the one springing ex opere operato, and coming directly from Almighty God; the other springing ex opere operantis, and arising from the ordinary laws of the human mind; the first consisting of the Divine pardon, granted sacramentally through the instrumentality of the priest, the second consisting of the contrition of the penitent and the vast practical benefit of confession.
Now we are persuaded that Anglicans confuse these two distinct things. If they had lived in the times of the early Church, they would have seen that the dispositions which they are in the habit of looking upon as a result of the sacramental absolution were often required by the Church as a preliminary to granting it at all; and until persons were deeply penitent, and gave open and manifest proofs that they were so, the Church would frequently give them no absolution whatever. Such also, at times, is the practice of the Catholic Church at the present day, who, moreover, is incessantly enforcing on her children's consciences the moral advantages of confession, as well as its indispensable obligation in the case of mortal sin, and the sacramental grace conferred by absolution. What Catholic, too, ever denied, that spiritual blessings are to be gained by a species of confession which forms no part of the Sacrament of Penance ? St. Ignatius Loyola, while engaged in the perils of war, confessed to one of his comrades, a layman; and, indeed, Anglicans can recognise the distinction, when they have no controversial purpose to serve by shutting their eyes to it. Dr. Pusey, in
adapted” edition of the Paradise of the Christian Soul, writes thus: “ He is bound also to say (since our Church also encourages it) [a palpable exaggeration, nevertheless] that increasing experience in the history of human souls has incalculably deepened his conviction of the exceeding value of habitual confession, begun with the parent, continued with the
priest." True, indeed, we are rejoiced to admit this state. ment of Dr. Pusey's; for he has "prophesied” in a sense that he little understood himself. Who can doubt that the confessions often made to Dr. Pusey and other Protestants have directly led to conversion to the Catholic faith, and to absolution from one who really possesses the power of the keys?
The Anglican, however, sometimes goes further, and adds, “ There might be some truth in all that you have been urging, were it not that God in giving His blessing to the use of confession in the Anglican Church would be blessing a lie if it were as you suppose ; for the Anglican confessor takes on himself to absolve, and if he really has not the power, he is acting the most fearful lie, and such as God could never bless.” How any thoughtful person can reason thus may we be a matter of surprise ; but we happen to be acquainted with more than one instance of an Anglican clergyman using this sort of logic. What can those who so argue really think of God's dealings with man? What ideas do they form of His mercy and love towards the ignorant and imperfect ? What is their meaning when they speak of “ a lie ?" We
a do not charge those Protestant " confessors” with the guilt of lying; for we cannot conceive that, at any rate as a general rule, they do not believe themselves justified in what they do. And even were the guilt of the self-appointed confessor ever so great, still, so long as the penitent acts in good faith, there is no reason why he should not be blessed in his act.
Of a similar character is the reasoning often used in reference to the Holy Eucharist. The devout Anglican thinks he is sure he has received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and that if he has so done, his Church is necessarily a “branch of the Catholic Church.” He is doubly wrong, we assure
. him. That he has intended to receive it, that he has received with good faith and excellent dispositions what he believed to be the Body and Blood of his Lord, and that his faith and devotion have been pleasing in God's sight, and drawn graces on him from the fountain of Divine pity,--all this may be fully granted. But that
But that an individual can be absolutely certain on his own judgment, as if it were a matter of which the senses could take cognisance, that he has received the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, is simply impossible. Let us not be mistaken. Where a person has, as we Catholics have, a firm and solid foundation of faith to rest upon, it would be a shocking impiety to doubt that he receives the very true Body and Blood of Christ; yet what Catholic would venture to say, unless we suppose a miracle
VOL. II.-NEW SERIES.
that he is certain, from his own personal sensations, that the Sacred Host really contains his Lord and God ?
But, supposing we go further, and concede for argument's sake (not that it is for a moment our own opinion), that Anglicans really possess valid orders, and consequently receive in their churches verily and really the Body and Blood of our Blessed Lord. Their case is then the same as that of the schismatic Greeks, the Armenians, Nestorians, and most (if not all) of the heretical sects of the East. But what difference would this make to the Anglicans, so far as the duty of submission to the Catholic Church is concerned, more than it does to the sects we have just named? Wherever
have valid orders and a true form of consecration combined with a true intention, there you have a true Eucharist also. The fact that a religious community is in schism, or even in heresy, does not prevent the valid consecration of the Holy Eucharist by a real priest, any more than it prevents the valid administration of Baptism by a layman. Certainly to those who are wilful schismatics or heretics it does not convey grace, nor does it to those who are living in any mortal sin; but to such persons as are in invincible ignorance of the true Church and are free from the guilt of mortal sin,-to_these, even out of the Church, the Body and Blood of our Lord convey grace.
The writings of St. Augustine are sometimes quoted, as appearing to contradict this doctrine (which is, however, the universal doctrine of all Catholic theologians); but the fact is, that he is writing against formal schismatics (or heretics), chiefly Donatists; against those who knew, or ought to have known, the sin they were committing, and the duty which they ought to perform in its stead ; and it is plain from a passage in one of his letters to these very sectarians that he draws a great distinction in favour of those who (to use the more modern expression) were only in material heresy or schism. In the beginning of his letter to the Donatists, Glorius, Eleusius, and others (Epistle xliii.), who, it seems, were better disposed than most of their sect, he uses these words: “The Apostle Paul has said indeed, 'A man that is a heretic after one admonition avoid, knowing that he that is such an one is subverted and sinneth, and is condemned by himself.' But those who defend their own opinion, false and perverse though it be, with no pertinacious animosity, particularly if they have not given birth to it by the boldness of their own presumption, but have received it from their fathers, who had been seduced and fallen into error, and at the same time who seek for the truth with a careful solicitude, prepared to be corrected