Charles Gore.

The mission of the church : four lectures delivered in June, 1892, in the Cathedral Church of St. Asaph online

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OXFOKD



THE

MISSION OF THE CHURCH

GORE



Oxford

HORACE HART, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY



THE



MISSION OF THE CHURCH



FOUR LECTURES

DELIVERED IN JUNE, 1892, IN THE CATHEDRAL
CHURCH OF ST. ASAPH



BY CHARLES GORE, M.A.

CANON OF WESTMINSTER AND HONORARY CHAPLAIN TO THE QUEEN



SIXTH THOUSAND



LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
1899



PREFACE



THIS volume contains the substance of the
lectures delivered by me in the Cathedral
Church of St. Asaph, about the festival of
St. Peter in this year, on the subject suggested
to me, viz. the Mission of the Church. The
lectures were not written, and I had, when
they were delivered, no intention of publishing
them ; but I was led to alter my determination
and have here endeavoured to reproduce them
in substance, with slight alterations and ad-
ditions, by the help of a report published in
the Church Times. The ' excitement,' alluded
to in the opening of the first lecture, was that
occasioned by the General Election then im-



2067891



vi Preface.

mediately approaching, which, in Wales at least,
had direct reference to the position of the
Church. The general argument of the lectures
will indicate what is to my mind the best method
of Church defence.

. Before going further I should wish to express
my sense of the great good which gatherings
of the Clergy, such as that in which it was my
privilege to take part at St. Asaph, are calculated
to do. It would be indeed a good thing if in
every diocese, especially every country diocese, a
benefaction similar to that which pays a lecturer
at St. Asaph, only too liberally, were to open the
way to a similar gathering. To get a great pro-
portion of the clergy of a diocese together during
four days for common prayer and eucharist, and
a course of instruction such as leads naturally
to mutual enquiry, discussion and intercourse,
seems to me a measure admirably calculated to
meet the evils which isolation and the preva-
lence of spiritual apathy tend to generate in rural
dioceses. Why should not the example be
widely followed ?



Preface. vii

I know that these lectures will be con-
demned by many as too ecclesiastical. ' By
making so much of the Church organization,'
it will be said, 'you only alienate the Non-
conformists, and promote disunion.' My answer
to this would be a plain one. If we believe
what the primitive Church and the New Testa-
ment documents do, as it seems to me, come near
to forcing us to believe that our Lord founded
a visible Church, and that this Church with her
creed and scriptures, ministry and sacraments, is
the instrument which He has given us to use, our
course is clear. We must devote our energies
to making the Church adequate to the divine
intention as strong in principle, as broad in
compass, as loving in spirit, as our Lord
intended her to be ; trusting that, in proportion
as her true motherhood is realized, her children
will find their peace within her bosom. We
cannot believe that there is any religious need
which at the last resort the resources of the
Church are inadequate to meet.

Meanwhile it is of great importance that we



viii Preface.

should remember that all baptized persons,
even if they belong to separatist organizations,
are as individuals members of the body of
Christ. Surely it would be well if we Church-
men endeavoured to take every opportunity
of cultivating equal and friendly social relations
with Nonconformists. I believe Dr. Dollinger
once expressed a great hope that internal
reunion among Christians in England would
be largely promoted by the common education
of Churchmen and Nonconformists at the uni-
versities. This common education, promoting
friendliness among those who are to be clergy
of the Church or ministers of different religious
bodies, may do much good. But may not such
friendly relations be established equally well
elsewhere ? Such personal acquaintance is
much more likely to do good than the attend-
ance of Churchmen at Nonconformist gatherings
to depreciate their own Churchman ship. This
latter course of action does not appear to
minister to any other result than that of pro-
moting disunion among ourselves.



Preface. ix

Once more, these lectures will be said to
minister to sacerdotalism. There is no doubt
a widespread horror of ' sacerdotalism/ but the
way to meet it is not, I think, by vague denun-
ciation or vague glorification of an undefined
principle ; but by careful explanation of what
the Catholic principle of the apostolic succession
in the ministry means, as expounded by the best
theologians and verified in the documents of
the New Testament. Archdeacon Farrar, in a
recent denunciation of 'sacerdotalism' in the
Contemporary Review for July of this year, has
quoted some expressions of mine in repudiation
of the idea of a vicarious priesthood with
apparent approval. ' It is encouraging to find
that the head of the Pusey House recognizes
the priesthood of the English Church as minis-
terial . . . and says" It is an abuse of the
sacerdotal conception, if it be supposed that the
priesthood exists to celebrate sacrifices or acts
of worship in the place of the body of the people
or as their substitutes."' May I assure the
archdeacon that I am not separating myself



x Preface.

from other High Churchmen or from Catholic
theologians as a whole, in maintaining the
ministerial and representative character of the
Christian priesthood ?

No doubt, however, as all the best things
are most liable to corruption, so there is a reality
corresponding to what is denounced as ecclesi-
astical exclusiveness and sacerdotal pride. It
is in view of this that the Rev. E. F. Russell,
of St. Alban's, Holborn, after speaking of the
late well-know r n vicar of that Church as one
of those who ' to some extent at least, have
realized in their own person those revived ideals
of the priesthood, its supernatural character,
mission, and endowment, which are rilling the
hearts and firing the zeal of so many of the new
generation of our clergy' adds the words,
' Ideals of any sort are dangerous visitants to
vain and shallow minds. In the thin soil of
a poor nature they bear ugly fruit in arrogance,
or insolent pretentiousness. It is not to be
denied that instances of this "bringing forth
of wild grapes" are not unknown amongst



Preface. xi

us. But it is far otherwise in the case of
those loftier, nobler souls, which, thank God,
are also to be found in our ranks. Upon them
the dignity of the sacerdotal character, the glory
of a divine trust for the good of human life,
weighs with the oppression of an almost unbear-
able responsibility. They find in it a ground,
not for self-exaltation or self-assertion, but
rather for the deepest self-humiliation. They
are filled with concern how they may make
good its requirements. A sense of shortcoming
haunts them. The vision of what should be
prevents all satisfaction in that which is. Hence
the feature common to the saintliest among the
clergy, everywhere and in all times, of a merci-
less self-effacement and self-sacrifice, and, by
natural consequence, an especial devotion to
the cross of Christ V

In fact, in proportion as we believe in our
priesthood, we believe that we must live and
die for men ; nay more, that we must represent

1 Alexander Heriot Mackonochie (Kegan Paul, 1890),
p. ix.



xii Preface.

men, represent what is good even in the least
enlightened aspirations of people about us.
This ideal is not one which, honestly pursued,
will minister to anything else than humility and
sympathy. For to understand men we must
learn to honour them, and this is only possible
to humility and self-effacement.

I have enunciated principles in this book
which I have endeavoured to justify at length
elsewhere. Thus the ecclesiastical principle, and
the principle of the apostolic succession asserted
in Lecture I, I have vindicated at length in
The Church and the Ministry (Longmans) : the
Anglican position as against Rome, also asserted
in Lecture I, in the Roman Catholic Claims
(Longmans, see 3rd or 4th edit.) : the orthodox
position as against destructive criticism, asserted
in Lecture III, in the Bampton Lectures of 1891
(John Murray) : the position of freedom within
the Church in regard to many points raised
by the criticism of the Old Testament, also
asserted in Lecture III, in the Essay on 'The
Holy Spirit and Inspiration/ in Lux Mundi,



Preface. xiii

and in the Preface to the roth edition (John
Murray). I must express a hope that if anyone
wishes to criticize opinions which I have ex-
pressed on these subjects in the following pages,
he will remember that they are justified at
greater length elsewhere.

C. G.
Michaelmas, 1892.



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

IN view of a criticism that seemed just, I have
somewhat modified my Note 8, on the New
Testament meaning of the word ' spiritual ' :
otherwise I have made no alterations.

C G.

St. Alban's Day, 1893.



CONTENTS



LECTURE I.

JAGt

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH . . i



LECTURE II.
UNITY WITHIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND . . 39

LECTURE III.

THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO INDEPENDENT AND

HOSTILE OPINION . . . . . . -79

LECTURE IV.
THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH IN SOCIETY . . 116

APPENDED NOTES.
I. THE WITNESS TO THE DOCTRINE OF A VISIBLE CHURCH IN

CLEMENT AND IGNATIUS 151

a. THE RECENT CHARGE OF ARCHDEACON SINCLAIR . . 152

3. THE NECESSITY OF SACRAMENTS NOT ABSOLUTE . . 156

4. IRENAEUS ON THE ELEMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION 157



xvi Contents.

PAGE

5 THE CONTENTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TRADITION . 157

6. THE ANGLICAN DOCTRINE or THE SACRAMENTS . . 158

7. THE ANGLICAN REQUIREMENT OF THE APOSTOLIC SUC-

CESSION 159

8. THE MEANING OF THE WORD 'SPIRITUAL' . . . l6o

9. GNOSTIC ESOTERICISM AND CHRISTIAN UNIVERSALITY . l6o
10. TERTULLIAN ox THE SIMPLICITY OF CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS 161
ii GOETHE ON THE SACRAMENTAL SYSTEM .... 161

12. THAT CHRISTIANS HAVE NO NEED TO ASK FOR THE

SPIRIT . ..... , - . 163

13. INFANTS WHO ARE PROPER SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM . 163
ia. SCIENCE CANNOT PROCEED WITHOUT ASSUMPTIONS . . 165

15. EVOLUTION AND ITS RELATION TO RELIGIOUS THOUGHT . 166

16. THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE PAN-ANGLICAN CONFERENCE

ON DIVORCE 167

17. CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE AND OUR INWARD LIFE . . 169



LECTURE I.

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH.

'As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.'

St. John xx. 21.

Reverend Father in God, my brethren of
the clergy and of the laity, If it be true, as
a general rule, "that the fault to which the
Church in agricultural districts is specially
liable is the fault of apathy and indolence,
yet it is, I suppose, profoundly improbable
that such would be at all the danger of the
Church of Christ in Wales under present
circumstances. Whatever else may be the
effect of the agitation of past years and of
the present moment round the walls of your
spiritual building, it must at least have the



2 The Mission of the Church.

effect of putting you upon your mettle. It
must substitute for any tendency to indolence
or apathy a condition of excitement, with
what is good and what is bad in excitement.
Thus we hear round about us to-day the
note of encouragement; and we hear the
note of fear, the presage of disaster: the
note of encouragement, because of the real
progress of the Church in recent years, the
note of fear, because so much is still lacking,
the ground still to be made up is so vast,
the dangers which threaten us are so alarming.
We may have been reminded of our own
mingled atmosphere of grief and joy by the
lesson from Ezra which we read but a few
days ago describing the state of things in
Jerusalem when the builders after the captivity
had 'laid again the foundation of the temple
of the Lord l ' ' All the people shouted with
a great shout when they praised the Lord,
because the foundation of the house of the
Lord was laid. But many of the priests and
Levites and chief of the fathers, who were
1 Ezra iii. 11-13.



The Mission of the Church. 3

ancient men, that had seen the first house,
when the foundation of this house was laid
before their eyes, wept with a loud voice ;
and many shouted aloud for joy : so that the
people could not discern the noise of the
shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of
the people/

Now, in times of excitement, if we would
be spiritually-minded, we have one supreme
and paramount obligation it is that of re-
calling ourselves again and again, away from
the cry of the religious or political platform,
to first principles, those first principles in the
light of which our true life must be lived.
What do we mean by being Churchmen?
What is the divine mission of the Church?
What is the ground of our imperishable con-
fidence? It is 'As my Father hath sent me,
even so send I you.'

I.

This is, in its ultimate terms, the mission
of the Church. It is the carrying out, in
its full scope, of the mission of the Christ:
B 2



4 The Mission of the Church.

' As my Father hath sent me.' God has
given us a revelation of Himself in His in-
carnate Son ; and this revelation or disclosure
of God in Christ is expressed in the three-
fold office of Christ as prophet, priest, and
king.

As prophet He not merely conveys to man
a particular message about God, but He dis-
closes God under conditions of our humanity.
He is very God, Son of God; and, being
God, He discloses in the intelligible terms
of our humanity what God is. We look to
the human mind and will and character, the
human justice and love, of Jesus of Nazareth,
and we know that we behold nothing else
than the mind and will and character, the
justice and love, of very God. Moreover what
is revealed is not merely the mind or purpose
of God towards men ; but, within certain
limits, there is a real disclosure of His inner
being, of those inner relations which bind
altogether in the indissoluble unity of God-
head, the Father, the Son and the Holy
Ghost. Christ is prophet, then, and discloses



The Mission of the Church. 5

God to man ; but He is also priest, to unite
or reconcile man to God. In this capacity
He first exhibits, in supreme perfection and
fulness, that unity with God of which our
nature is capable. In His own person He
represents the perfect attitude of man to
God. In His own person He offers, in our
name and on our behalf, the sacrifice of
perfect homage to the divine righteousness,
which our sins had been continuously out-
raging. All this He does first in His own
person independently of us and in our stead ;
but what He first does for us, He proceeds
to do in us. He takes us up into union
with Himself. We share His manhood, His
communion with God, His self-oblation to
the Father. Thus He is our priest. Thirdly,
He is king ; because He comes forth to
make His moral claim felt upon our man-
hood : to redeem and to liberate it, to
subdue and to govern it, in all its parts and
faculties. Thus He is prophet, priest, and
king; and, as His Father hath sent Him on
this prophetic, priestly, kingly mission, so in



6 The Mission of the Church.

His turn in the persons of His apostles He
sends out His Church. 'As my Father hath
sent me, even so send I you.'

The Church perpetuates the mission of her
Master prophetic, priestly, kingly.

She perpetuates the prophetic mission of
Christ, because she carries down through the
ages, as its pillar and ground, the truth
which once for all was disclosed in Jesus,
the truth involved in His person, God and
man ; the truth about God, which He dis-
closed in His life, His works, His words ;
the truth about man, his destiny, his capacity,
and the sin which has marred his destiny,
and separated him from God ; and the truth
about redemption, the redemption wrought
out by God in Christ. This truth involved
in the person of our redeemer, Jesus, it is
the prophetic office of the Church perpetually
to bear witness to, to place continuously
before the eyes of men, to inculcate again
and again in its varied adaptation to the
different needs of different ages. Again, the
Church goes forth to perpetuate the priestly



The Mission of the Church. 7

mission of Christ. For the work of Christ
is not perpetuated merely in words ; there is
more to be done than teaching. ' The king-
dom of God is not in word but in power.'
There is the gift of grace, the gift of the
Spirit, and manifold gifts from the Spirit in view
of man's manifold needs ; and the Church
is the home in which this rich treasure is
dispensed, the household of God in which
is distributed the bread of life, a portion to
each in due season. It is by the ministration
of these manifold gifts of grace that our
humanity is raised again into its true relation
to God, and brought back into union with
Him. And the Church shares also Christ's
kingly function. The pastoral office is at
least as much an office of ruling as of
feeding. The Church is to discipline, to guide,
to strengthen, the manifold characters, wills
and minds of men, till this human life of
ours is brought, in all its parts and capacities,
into the obedience of Christ. Thus the
Church perpetuates the threefold mission of
the Christ. 'As my Father hath sent me



8 The Mission of the Church.

prophetic, priestly, kingly, so send I you, pro-
phetic, priestly, kingly.'



II.

Now the point which, at this stage, I wish
to emphasize is that Christ has thus enshrined
in a visible body, a visible Church, those
gifts of truth and grace with which He has
enriched mankind.

Another method might have been adopted.
It is conceivable that our Lord might have
proclaimed a certain body of truth, and then
left it to make its own way, to advance by its
own weight among mankind. He might have
scattered truth at random, like ' bread upon the
waters/ over the area of human need. But
in fact He did something different, He en-
shrined the truth deliberately in an organized
society ; and it is, we believe, in accordance
with the mind of Christ that the Church has
in fact gone out into the world as a society
based upon a distinctive creed, a creed gradu-
ally enshrined in formulas and appealing to a



The Mission of the Church. 9

fixed canon of sacred scriptures, representing
the original teaching of Christ's Apostles.

Once more, the gifts of grace are made
part of a visible system through the ministry of
sacraments. What are sacraments? They are
outward, visible and also social, ceremonies
intended for the conveyance of spiritual gifts.
There is the gift of regeneration, the gift of
the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the gift of
the bread of life, the flesh and blood of Christ.
Now these are spiritual gifts, and we can
conceive of their having been given through
purely invisible channels ; in fact, they are given
by channels which, as I say, are not only
visible, but also social. Baptism, through which
is conveyed the Spirit's gift of regeneration or in-
corporation into Christ, is an outward ceremony,
and an outward ceremony which, at the same
time, is social. It is a ceremony of admission
into a visible society. Confirmation, by which
is bestowed the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
is an act of benediction, the laying on of the
hands of the chief ruler of a society upon one
of its members. The Eucharist again, in which



TO The Mission of the Church.

is given and taken the body and blood of
Christ, is an outward ceremony, and a cere-
mony which, in its material basis, involves
a fraternal meal. Each of the sacraments is
not only a visible but also a social institu-
tion ; such as involves that men are to be
admitted into, and kept in relation to, a visible
society.

Once again this society is not only to be a
visible reality at any particular moment. It
is also to be continuous down the ages. It is
in view of this need that the meaning of the
apostolic succession of the ministry becomes
apparent. For the Church is a catholic society,
that is, a society belonging to all nations and
ages. As a catholic society it lacks the bonds
of the life of a city or a nation local contiguity,
common language, common customs. We can-
not, then, very well conceive how its corporate
continuity could have been maintained otherwise
than through some succession of persons such
as, bearing the apostolic commission for min-
istry, should be in each generation the neces-
sary centres of the Church's life. Granted this



The Mission of the Church. 1 1

apostolic succession, there is guaranteed in the
Church as a whole, and in each local church,
a perpetual stewardship of the grace and truth
which came by Jesus Christ, a perpetual
stewardship which, at the same time, acts as
the link of continuity, binding the churches of
all ages and of all nations into visible unity
with the apostolic college.

Thus by her creeds and her canon of scrip-
tures, by her sacraments and her apostolic
succession, the Church is rendered necessarily
a visible body. It is spiritual in its aim. It
exists for no other purpose than to minister to
the spiritual union of man with God. It is
spiritual in its aim and essence, but it is visible
in fact on earth. The invisible gift is conveyed
through visible channels : the invisible essence
is enshrined in a visible body.

Of this doctrine of the visible Church we may
say that it is first natural and second historical.
Its intimate correspondence with the principle
of the Incarnation we shall have the opportunity
of noticing in the next lecture.

First it is natural: it corresponds to a law



12 The Mission of the Church.

of our nature. Aristotle said long ago that man
is a ' social animal.' The meaning of this is that
though society is made up of individuals,
and indeed the aim of society is the develop-
ment of the faculties of the individual, yet man
realizes his individuality only by relations to
a society. It is the society that makes him
man, it is the social life of the nation or the
city that enables the individual to become truly
human.

The moral philosophy of the last, and of the
early part of the present century was charac-
terized by individualistic theories, according to
which men were regarded as primarily indi-
viduals and only secondarily as members of
society. But it is noticeable that modern ethical
writers, even of a non-theistic school, such as
Mr. Leslie Stephen and Mr. Alexander, exhibit a
return to the Aristotelian principle. ' We must
take society and the individual as we find
them in fact,' says Mr. Alexander, ' the latter with
ties that bind him to others, the former as
something which we have never known to be
formed by the mere coalescence of separate



The Mission of the Church. 13

and independent individuals 1 .' It is, then, in
correspondence with a fundamental law of
man's social nature that the religion of the Son
of Man should not deal with us first as isolated
individuals ; that it should present itself as a
society incorporating individuals and developing
the individual life by first absorbing it. It is
because man is social that ' the perfect man ' 2 is
to be realized, not by the single Christian, but
by the whole Church.

Secondly, this theory of the Church is his-
torical the title-deeds of Christianity establish
it. Historical proof is a long matter. It can-
not be given fully in a single lecture, but I
may refer to one or two chief elements in it.

i. The method of Christ. We can conceive,
as I have said, easily enough how our Lord
might have cast the truth which He came to teach
mankind broadcast over society, and left it to
make its own way. But the more you examine
the gospels, the more you will note that His

1 Alexander, Moral Order and Progress (Trubner, 1889),
p. 96.

2 Eph. iv. 13 [R.V.].



14 The Mission of the Church.

method was not in fact this, but the opposite.
More and more He concentrates all His efforts
upon that little band beside Him, whom by
steady discipline He was preparing to be the
nucleus of His new and distinctive society.
On this vigil of St. Peter's Day, we naturally
notice this more particularly : He turned away
from our human nature as He found it, un-
satisfactory and inadequate, when He wished
to lay His new foundation. ' He did not
commit himself to men ... for He knew what was
in man.' Those faults in our human nature,
which in every generation have turned phil-
anthropists into cynics, and driven the wisest
wellnigh mad that unsatisfactoriness of our
fallen manhood Jesus knew from the first.
Therefore He waited, He laboured, He prayed
in our true manhood till He had prepared


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