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reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Re-
ward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double
according to her works ;"* — all which passages imply a deep and
solemn acquiescence in God's judgments.

Thus a certain fire of zeal, showing itself, not by force and blood,
but as really and certainly as if it did, — cutting through natural feel-
ings, neglecting self, preferring God's glory to all things, firmly resist-
ing sin, protesting against sinners, and steadily contemplating their
punishment, is a duty belonging to all creatures of God, a duty of
Christians, in the midst of all that excellent overflowing charity which
is the highest Gospel grace, and the fulfilling of the second table of
the Law.

And such, in fact, has ever been the temper of the Christian Church ;
in evidence of which I need but appeal to the impressive fact, that the
Jewish Psalter has been the standard book of Christian devotion from
the first down to this day. I wish we thought more of this circum-
stance. Can any one doubt that, supposing that blessed manual of
faith and love had never been in use among us, great numbers of the
present generation would have clamoured against it as unsuitable to
express Christian feelings, — as deficient in charity and kindness ?
Nay, do we not know, though I dare say it may surprise many a sober
Christian to hear that it is so, that there are men at this moment who
(I hardly like to mention it) wish parts of the Psalms left out of the
Service as ungentle and harsh ? Alas ! that men of this day should
rashly put their own judgment in competition with that of all the
Saints of every age hitherto since Christ came, — should virtually say,
" either they have been wrong or tee are," thus forcing us to decide
between the two. Alas ! that they should dare to criticise the words of
inspiration. Alas ! that they should follow the steps of the backsliding
Israelites, and shrink from siding with the Truth in its struggle with

» Rev. liv. 7, xvi. 5 — 7. xviii. 5, 6.



566 ' JEWISH ZEAL, [SiRM.

the world, instead of saying with Deborah, " So let all Thine enemies
perLsh, Lord !"

Now I shall make a few observations in conclusion, with a view of
showing how meekness and charity are compatible with this austere
and valiant temper of the Christian soldier.

1. Of course it is absolutely sinful to have any private enmities.
Not the bitterest personal assaults upon us should induce us to retaliate.
We must do good for evil, " love those who hate, bless those who curse
us, and pray for those who despitefully use us." It is only when it is
impossible at once to be kind to them and give glory to God, that we
may cease to act kindly towards them. When David speaks of hating
God's enemies, it was under circumstances when keeping friends with
them would have been a desertion of the Truth. St. James says>
" Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God ?"*
and so, on the other hand, devotion to God's cause is enmity with the
world. But no personal feeling must intrude itself in any case. We
hate sinners, by putting them out of our sight as if they were not, by
annihilating them in our affections. And this we must do even in the
case of our friends and relations, if God requires it. But in no case
are we to allow ourselves in resentment or mahce.

2. Next, it is quite compatible with the most earnest zeal, to offer
kind offices to God's enemies when in distress. I do not say that a
denial of these offices may not be a duty ordinarily ; for it is our duty,
as St. John tells us in his second Epistle, not even to receive them into
our houses. But the case is very different where men are brought into
extremity. God " maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the
good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."| We must go
and do likewise, imitating the good Samaritan ; and as he thought no-
thing of difference of nations when a Jew was in distress, in like man-
ner we must not take account of wilful heresy, or profaneness, in such
circumstances.

3. And further, the Christian keeps aloof from sinners in order to
do them good. He does so in the truest and most enlarged charity.
It is a narrow and weak feeling to please a man here, and to endanger
his soul. A true friend is he who speaks out, and, when a man sins,
shows him that he is displeased at the sin. He who sets up no witness
against his friend's sin, is " partaker of his evil deeds."! The Psalmist
speaks in this spirit, when after praying to God " to persecute" the
ungodly " with His tempest," he adds, " fill their faces with shame, that
they may seek Thy name, O Lord."§

* James iv. 4. t Matt. v. 45. t 2 John 11. § Ps.lxxiiii. 16.



XIII,] A PATTERN TO CHRISTIANS. 557

Accordingly, the more zealous a Christian is, therefore is he the more
charitable. The Israelite, when he entered Canaan, was told to spare
neither old nor young ; the weak and the infirm were to be no exception
in the list of victims whose blood was to be shed. "Of the cities of
these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance,
thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth."* Accordingly, when the
people fought against Sihon, they " took all his cities at that time, and
utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones of every
city," they left none to remain. "f And when Jericho was taken, they
utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young
and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. ";jl
What an awful office was this, what an unutterably heart-piercing task,
almost enough to make a man frantic, except as upheld by the power
of Him who gave the command ! Yet Moses, thus severely minded]to
do God's will, was the meekest of men. Samuel too, who sent Saul
to slay in Amalek " man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep,
camel and ass," was from his youth up the wise and heavenly-minded
guide and prophet of Israel. David, who had a fiery zeal so as even
to consume him, was (as we see by his Psalms) most tender-hearted and
gentle in his feelings and thoughts. Doubtless while the servants of
God executed His judgments, they still could bend in pity and in hope
over the young and old whom they slew with the sword, — merciful amid
their severity ; — an unspeakable trial, doubtless, of faith and self-mas-
tery, and requiring a very exalted and refined spirit successfully to un-
dergo. Doubtless, as they slew those who suffered for the sins of their
fathers, their thoughts turned, first to the fall of Adam, next to that
unseen state where all inequalities are righted, and they surrendered
themselves as instruments unto the Lord, of mysteriously working out
good through evil. — And shall we faint at our far lesser trials when they
bore the greater ? Spared the heavy necessity of piercing with the
spear of Phinehas, and of hewing Agag in Gilgal, — allowed to take
instead of inflicting suffering, and to " make a difference" instead of
an indiscriminate severity, — shall we, like cowards, shrink from bearing
our lighter burdens, which our Lord commands, and in which He set us
the pattern ? Shall we be perversely persuaded by the appearance of
amiableness or kindness in those whom God's word bids us depart from
as heretics, or profligate livers, or troublers of the Church? Joseph
could speak strangely to his brethren and treat them as spies, put one
of them in prison and demand another from Canaan, while he hardly
refrained himself in doing so, and his bowels yearned over them ; and

« Deut. XX. 16. I Dcut. ii. 34. X Josh. vi. 2L



55S JEWISH ZEAL, &,c. [Skrm. XIII.

by turns he punished them and wept for them. that there was in
us this high temper of mingled austerity and love ! Barely do we con-
ceive of severity by itself, and of kindness by itself; but who unites
them ? We think we cannot be kind enough without ceasing to be se-
vere. Who is there that walks through the world wounding according
to the rule of zeal, and scattering balm freely in the fulness of love ;
smiting as a duty, and healing as a privilege ; loving most when he
seems sternest, and embracing them most tenderly whom in semblance
he treats roughly ? What a state we are in, when any one who re-
hearses the plain threats of our Lord and His Apostles against sinners,
or ventures to defend the anathemas of His Church, is thought unfeel-
ing rather than merciful ; when they who separate from the irreligious
world are blamed as fanciful and extravagant, and those who confess
the truth, as it is m Jesus, are said to be bitter, hot of head, and intem-
perate ! Yet, with God's grace, with the history of the Old Testament
before us, and the fearful recompense to warn us which came upon
backsliding Israel, we, the Ministers of Christ, dare not keep silence
amid this great error. In behalf of Christ, our Saviour and Lord, who
yielded up His precious life for us, and now feeds us with His own blood
for the sake of the souls whom He has redeemed, and whom, by a false
and cruel charity, the world would keep in ignorance and sin, — we
cannot refrain ; and if His Holy Spirit be with us, as we trust He is,
whatever betides, whatever is coming on this country, speak the truth
we will, and overcome in our speaking we must ; for He has given us
to overcome !



SERMON XIV



SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY.



Prov. iv. 24— 27.



Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse hps, put far from thee. Let
thine eyes look right on, and let thine eye-lids look straight before thee. Ponder
the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right
hand nor to the left : remove thy foot from evil.

Precepts such as these come home with the force of truth, even to
minds which fain would resist them, from their seriousness and practical
wisdom, putting aside the authority of inspiration. At no time and
under no circumstances are they without their application ; at the pre-
sent time, when religious unity and peace are so lamentably disregarded,
and novel doctrines and new measures alone are popular, they naturally
remind us of the duty of obedience to the Church, and of the sin of
departing from it, or what our Litany prays against under the name of
" heresy and schism." It may seem out of place to speak of this sin
here, because those who commit it are not likely to be in Church to pro-
fit by what might be said about it ; yet the commission of it affects even
those who do not commit it, by making them indifferent to it. For
this reason, and because it is right that even such persons as are firmest
in their adherence to the Church should know why they adhere to it, I
will consider some of the popular objections Avhich are made to such
adherence, by those who account it, not sinful indeed, (though many go
even this length,) but unnecessary.

You know time was when there was but one vast body of Christians,
called the Church, throughout the world. It was found in every country
where the name of Christ was named ; it was every where governed in
the same way by Bishops ; it Avas every where descended from the
Apostles through the line of those Bishops ; and it was every where in
perfect peace and unity together, branch with branch, all over the world.
Thus it fulfilled the prophecy : " Jerusalem is builded as a city that is
compact together ; for there are set Thrones of judgment, the Thrones of



560 SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY. [Serm..

the House of David."* There were, indeed, separatists and dissenters
then as now, but they were many and various, not one body hke the
Church ; they were short-Hved, had a beginning after the Apostles, and
came to an end, first one and then another. But now all this beauty of
Jerusalem is miserably defaced. That vast Catholic body, " the Holy
Church throughout all the world,'' is broken into many fragments by the
power of the Devil ; just as some huge barrier chfF which once boldly
fronted the sea is at length cleft, parted, overthrown by the waves.
Some portions of it are altogether gone, and those that remain are sepa-
rated from each other. We are the English Catholics ; abroad are the
Roman Catholics, some of whom are also among ourselves ; elsewhere
are the Greek Catholics, and so on. And thus we stand in this day of
rebuke and blasphemy, — clinging to our own portion of the Ancient Rock
which the waters are roaring round and would fain overflow, — trusting^
in God, — looking for the dawn of day, which " will at length come
and will not tarry," when God will save us from the rising floods, if we
have courageously kept our footing where He has placed us, neither
yielding to the violence of the waves which sweep over us, nor listening
to the crafty invitations of those who offer us an escape in vessels not of
God's building.

Now I am going to notice and refute some of the bad arguments by
which the children of this world convey their invitation.

1. First they say, " Why keep so strictly to one body of Christians
when there are so many other bodies also, — so many denominations, so
many persuasions, — all soldiers of Christ, like so many different armies^
all advancing in one cause against one enemy ? Surely this exclusive
attachment to one party," so they speak " to the neglect of other Chris-
tians who profess a like doctrine, and only differ in forms, is the sign
of a narrow and illiberal mind. Christianity is a universal gift ; why
then limit its possession to one set of men and one kind of Church go-
vernment, instead of allowing all who choose to take it to themselves
in any way they please ?"

Now surely, those who thus speak should begin with answering Scrip-
ture, not questioning us ; for Scripture certainly recognizes but " one
body" of Christians as explicitly as "one Spirit, one faith, one Lord, and
one God and Father of all."f As far as the text of Scripture goes, it is
as direct a contradiction of it to speak of more than one body, as to
speak of more than one Spirit. On the other hand. Scripture altogether
contemplates the existence of persuasions, as they are called, round about
this one body, for it speaks of them ; but it does not hint ever so faintly

» Ps. cxxii. 3. 5. t Eph. iv. 4—6.



XIV.] SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY. 661

that, because they exist, therefore they must be acknowledged. So
much the contrary, that it says, " There must be heresies," that is, pri-
vate persuasions, self-formed bodies, " among you, that they which are
approved may be made manifest among you." Again, "A ma« that is
a heretic," that is, one who adopts some opinion of his own in religious
matters, and gets about him followers, " after the first and second admo-
nition, reject." And again " Mark them which cause divisions, and avoid
them."! Now, we are of those who, in accordance with these direc-
tions, have ever kept clear of such human doctrines and private opinions,
adhering to that one Body Catholic which alone was founded by the
Apostles, and will last till the end of all things. And it is surely better
thus implicitly to believe and obey God's voice in Scripture, than to
reason ; it is more tolerable to be called narrow-minded by man, than to
bo pronounced self- wise and self-sufficient by God ; it is happier to be
thought over-scrupulous, with the Bible, than to have the world's praise
for liberahty without it.

But again, who is bold enough to say that " it would be a narrow and
niggardly appointment, were the blessings of the Gospel stored up in one
body or set of persons to the exclusion of others ?" Let him see to it,
how he opposes God's universal scheme of providence which we see
before our eyes. Christianity is a blessing for the whole earth, — grant-
ed ; but it does not therefore follow (to judge from what we otherwise
know of God's dealings with us) that none have been specially commis-
sioned to dispense the blessing. Mercies given to multitudes arc not
less mercies because they flow from particular sources. Indeed, most of
the great appointments of Divine goodness are marked by this very
character of what men call exdusiveness. God distributes numberless
benefits to all men, but He does so through a few select instruments.
The few are favoured for the good of the many. Wealth, power, gifts
of mind, learning, all tend towards the welfare of the community; yet,
for all that, they are not given at once to all, but channelled out to the
many through the few. And so the blessings of the Gospel are open to
the whole world, as freely given as light or fire ; yet even light has had
its own receptacle since the fourth day of Creation, and fire has been
hidden in the flinty rock, — as if to show us that the light and fire of our
souls are not gained without the use of means, nor except from special
sources.

Again, as to the Ministerial Succession being a form, and adherence
to it a form, it can only be called a form because we do not see its
effects ; did any thing visible attend it, we should no longer call it a

1 1 Cor. XI. 19 ; Tit. iii. 10 ; Rom. xvi. 17.
Vol,. I.— 36



662 SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY. [Serm.

form. Did a miracle always follow a baptism or a return into the
Church, who would any longer call it a form 1 that is, we call it a form,
only so long as we refuse to walk hy faith, which dispenses with things
visible. Faith sees things not to be forms, if commanded, which seem
like forms ; it realizes consequences. Men ignorant in the sciences
would predict no result from chemical and the like experiments ; they
would count them a form and a pretence. What is prayer but a form ?
that is, who (to speak generally) sees any thing come of it? But we
believe it, and so are blessed. In what sense is adherence to the
Church a form in which prayer is not also 1 The benefit of the one is
not seen, nor of the other ; the one will not profit the ungodly and care-
less, nor will the other ; the one is commanded in Scripture, so is the
other. Therefore, to say that Church-union is a form, is no disparage-
ment of it ; forms are the very food of faith.

2. However, it may be argued, that, " whatever was the cause, and
whatever was intended by Divine Providence, many sects there are ;"
and that, ♦' if unity be a duty, as members of the Church maintain, the
best, the only way to effect it now, is for them to relax their strictness
and join in one with all sects upon whatever terms." I answer by ask-
ing, whether we have any leave so to do, any commission to alter any
part of what God has appointed ; whether we might not as well pretend
to substitute another ordinance for Baptism as to annul the rites of the
Church Catholic, and put human societies and teachers of man's creat-
ing on a level with it ? Balaam even felt what was the power of a
Divine appointment. " He hath blessed," he says, " and I cannot
reverse it.'' Even holy Isaac, much as he wished it, could not change
the course of the blessing once conferred, or the decree of God. He
cried out of Jacob, " yea, and he shall be blessed ;" for " it is not of him
that willeth, nor of him that runneth," " not of blood, nor of the will
of the flesh, nor of the will of man," " but of God that showeth
mercy." " The gifts and calling of God, are without repentance."*

Men, who have themselves separated from the Church, sometimes
urge a union among all Christians in the following way : they say,
" We dissent from you ; yet we will cast aside our forms if you will
cast aside yours. Thus there will be mutual concession. What are
forms, so that our hearts are one ?" Nay, but there is not, there can-
not be, a like heart and spirit, from the very nature of the case, between
us and them, for obedience to the Church is one part of our spirit.
Those who think much of submission to her authority as we do, plainly
do differ in spirit from those who think little of it. Such persons, then,
however well they mean it, yet, in fact, ask us to give up something,

* Numb, xxiii. 20 ; Gen. xxvii. 33 ; Rom. ix. 16 ; John i. 13 ; Rom. xi. 29.



XIV.] SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY. 663

while they give up nothing themselves ; for that is not much to give up
which a man sets no value upon. All they give up is what they them-
selves disparage by calling a form. They call our holy discipline also
a form, but we do not ; and it is not a mere form in our judgments,
though it may be in theirs. They call it a human invention, just as
they call their own ; but, till we call it so also, till they have first con-
vinced us that it is, it must be a sacrifice in us to give it up, such as they
cannot possibly make. They cannot make such sacrifice, because
they have made it already, or their fathers before them, when they left
the Church. They cannot make it, for they have no affections to sacri-
fice in the matter ; whereas our piety, our reverence, our faith, our love
adhere to the Church of the Apostles, and could not (were desertion
possible, which God forbid !) could not be torn away from it without
many wounds and much anguish. Surely, then, it is craft, or over-
simplicity, in those who differ from us, thus to speak. They strip them-
selves of what we consider an essential of hohness, the decencies and
properties of the Ancient Rule. Then, being unclothed, they are forced
to array themselves in new forms and ordinances, as they best may ;
and these novelties, which their own hands have sewed together to
cover them, which they never revered, and which are soon to wither,
they purpose (as though) to sacrifice to us, provided we, on our part,
will cast from us the Lord's own clothing, that sanctity and sobriety of
order, which is the gift of Christ, the earnest of His imputed merits, the
type and the effectual instrument of His work in our hearts. This, truly,
would be exchanging the fine gold for brass ; or, like unthankful Esau,
bartering our enduring birthright for an empty and transitory benefit.

3, But the argument is continued. " Well," it may be said, " even
granting that obedience to the Church be a Scripture duty, still, when
there are erroneous teachers in it, surely it is a higher dut}-^ to desert
them for their error's sake, than to keep to them for form's sake." Now,
before this question can be answered, the error must be specified which
this or that teacher holds.

The plain and practical question we have to decide is, whether his error
be such as to suspend his power of administering the Sacraments. It
must be deadly indeed and monstrous to effect this ; and, surely, this
ministry of the Sacraments, not of the outward word, — of the spirit,
not of the letter, — is his principal power and our principal need. It is
our interest, it is our soul's interest, that we keep to those who minister
divine benefits, even though they " offend in many things." And it is
plainly our duty also. If they be in error, let us pray for them, not
abandon them. If they sin against us, let not us sin against them. Let
us return good for evil. Thus David acted even towards Saul his per-



564 SUBMISSION TO CHURCH AUTHORITY. [Skrm.

secutor. He '•behaved himself wisely in all his ways, and the Lord
was with him."* The cruelty of Saul was an extreme case ; yet
David's eyes looked right on," and " he turned not to the right hand
nor th.-^ left." He still honoured Saul, as put over him by Almighty
God. So ought we, in St. Paul s words, to " obey them that have the
rule over us, and submit ourselves."

In truth, the notion that errors in a particular teacher justify separation
from the Church itself, is founded in a mistake as to the very object (as-
it mav be considered) for which teaching was committed to it. If indi-
vidual teachers were infallible, there would be no need of order and rule
at all. If we had a living Head upon earth, such as once our Saviour
was with His disciples, teaching and directing us in all things, the visi-
ble Church might so far be dispensed with. But, since we have not, a
form of doctrine, a system of laws, a bond of subordination connecting-
all in one, is the next best mode of securing the stability of sacred Truth.
The whole body of Christians thus become the trustees of it, to use the
language of the world, and, in fact, have thus transmitted it down to our-
selves. Thus, teachers have been bound to teach in one way not in
another, as well as hearers to hear. As, then, we have a share in the
advantage, let us not complain of sharing in the engagement ; as we en-
joy the Truth at this day by the strictness of those who were before us,
let us not shrink from undergoing that through which we have inherited
it. If hearers break the rule of discipline, why should not teachers break



Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 62 of 76)