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The Christian ministry at the close of the nineteenth century online

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By the Same Author.

CONCi:;I4ES AD CLERUM. 1879-1880. 12mo.

Cloth $1.50

INDIVIDUALISM: Its Growth and Tendencies,
with some Suggestions as to the Remedy for
its Evils. Sermons preached before the Uni-
versity of Cambridge in November, 1880. 12mo.
Cloth 1.00

The Bishop Paddock Lectures, 1884










Copyright, 1884,





In the summer of the year 1880, George A. Jarvis of
Brooklyn, N.Y., moved by his sense of the great good which
might thereby accrue to the cause of Christ, and to the
Church of which he was an ever-grateful member, gave to
the General Theological Seminary of the Episco-
pal Church certain securities, exceeding in value eleven
thousand dollars, for the foundation and maintenance of a
Lectureship in said seminary.

Out of love to a former pastor and enduring friend, the
Right Rev. Benjamin Henry Paddock, D.D., Bishop of
Massachusetts, he named the foundation " The Bishop
Paddock Lectureship."

The deed of trust declares that, —

'■'■The subjects of the lectures shall be such as appertain to the
defence of the religion of Jicsus Chkist, as revealed in the Holy
Bible, and illustrated in the Book of Common Prayer, against the
varying errors of the daj', whether materialistic, rationaUstic, or
professedh' religious, and also to its defence and confirmation in
respect of such central truths as the Trinity, the Atonement, Jus-
tification, and the Inspiration of the Word of God; and of such
central facts as the Churches Divine Order and Sacraments, her
historical Reformation, and her rights and powers as a pure and
national Church. And other subjects may be chosen if unanimously
approved by the Board of Appointment as being both timel}' and
also within the true intent of this Lectureship."

Under the appointment of the board created by the trust,
the Right Rev. A. N. Littlejohn, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of
Long Island, delivered the Lectures for the year 1884, con-
tained in this volume.


The subject chosen for these Lectures is, on the face of
it, a practical one. It will deal with questions of authority,
office, administration, conduct, and character. It will show
how earthly stewards, human trustees, have used, in a gen-
eration of unparalleled activity and change, the Divine gifts
committed to them. We are neariug the close of by far
the most eventful of the Christian centuries, — one that
includes the beginning and the consummation of forces
that have radically modified the drift of modern life, and
with that the internal, as well external, relations of insti-
tutions ordained to be permanent factors in the training
and development of mankind. It is of the utmost practical
moment, that we see as clearly as we can the effect of these
forces upon the most obviously and vitally representative
agency of Christianity, and through that upon Christianity
itself. But, while in these respects intensely practical, the
subject will, at the same time, oblige us to consider from
the Christian standpoint many issues yet lying within the
province of theory and opinion, — issues which, though now
wrapped up in the inner thoughts of men, may, any day, leap
forth into the arena of agitation and controversy. Indeed,
it will be impossible to conduct with any degree of thor-
oughness such an inquiry as is here proposed, without cross-

viii Preface.

ing at many angles the deeper speculative tendencies of the
time. There could scarcely be any truer test of what is
best and what is worst in these tendencies, than the influence
which they have already begun or are likely to exercise,
upon the Office and Ministry ordained to show forth and
plead for the Christ unto the end of the world.

Of the twelve Lectures now published, five, and consider-
able parts of the others, were not delivered, for lack of time ;
though the continuity of the series was maintained by pre-
senting a syllabus of each lecture or part of a lecture


A. N. L.





Why the Christian Ministry should give an Account of its Steward-
ship at this Time. — Views of tbe Present Status of the Ministry
reducible to Three. — Alleged Decline of Influence. — Power dis-
tinguished from Influence. — The Latter takes us into the Province
of History and Experience. — Tone of Sentiment now Prevalent, —
Changed Relation of the Clergy to Society and to Liberal and
Popular Education. — The Ministry and the Press. — The Ministry
no longer the Chief Dispenser of Charity. — The Ministry blamed
(1) for adhering to any Theology not approved by the Modern
Spirit, (2) for an Alleged Decline in the Power of the Pulpit, (3)
for its Want of Readiness to endure Hardship and Denial, (4) for
Lack of Boldness and Independence in Thought and Action, (5)
for allowing the Church and the World to be on too Good Terms ;
(6) Charged with Feeble and Shallow Methods in the Cure of
Souls, (7) with Lack of Enterprise, and a Feeble Faculty of Or-
ganization; (8) Faults imputed (a) by the World of Letters and
Science, (6) by the World of Politics, (c) by the World of Social
Reform. — These Faults examined, and shown to be Exaggerated
or Groundless 1



Declining Faith in the Supernatural. — Unscriptural and Unchurcbly
Notions. — Three Characteristic Fruits of them. — Primitive and

■ X Contents.


Traditional Teaching in its most Positive Form needful to People
and Clergy if the Powers of the Holy Office are to be saved from
Decay and Disesteem. — Enormous Development of Sectism. —
Disastrous to the Influence of the Ministry. — In what Ways espe-
cially so. — The Influence of the Ministry hindered and impaired
by the Decay of Discipline. — Causes of this Decay. — Evidences
of it in nearly all Branches of the Church. — The Discipline of
the Early and the Discipline of the Modern Church compared.
— Why has the Church so sadly fallen away in this Eegard? —
Special Evils inflicted upon the Ministry 73*



The Subject of Little Interest to two Extreme Wings of the Clerical
Body. — Evidences to be found in the Deeper and more Methodical
Studies of the Clergy. — In Theology. — Movements in the History
of Modern Thought adverse to the Claims of Theology. — How
These have been met. — Positivism. — Its Various Phases. — The
N"ew Philosophy of Herbert Spencer. — The Several Schools of Sub-
jective Idealism. — Physical Science. — The Worst Wounds of The-
ology in the House of its Friends. — Coleridge, and the School that
sprang from him. — The Literature of Scepticism. — What the
Theological Mind has done. — Two Objections. — Theology shown
to be (1) a Science, (2) to be the Foremost of Sciences. — Problem
of the Limits of Human Thought. — What the Priesthood has done
to keep alive in this Age the Sense of the Supernatural as a Prac-
tical Motive. — The Theistic Argument. — Its Various Forms . 114



Christian Morality and Christian Theology. — Their Organic Connec-
tion. — Efforts to divorce them. — Efforts to absorb the One in the
Other. — Work of Christian Teachers as Expounders and Defenders
(1) in showing the Present Attitude of Christian Ethics toward

Contents. xi


the Ethics of Philosophy, and the Indehtedness of the Latter to the
Former; (2) in meeting Charges turning upon the Alleged Weak-
nesses and Defects of Christian Ethics; (3) in establishing the
Grounds of Superiority of Christian over Natural Ethics in the
Development and Discipline of Character 171



Apologetics now a Compact Body of Learning and Logic. — Results
reached,^ — The Present Aim of Apologetics. — Its Methods. —
External Evidences, their Place and Value. — Biblical Study the
most Comprehensive of Intellectual Pursuits. — What it has ac-
complished in our Day. — Biblical Criticism, when it began in the
Modern Sense. — Increased Attention to the Languages of the
Bibk'. — Researches and Conclusions touching Inspiration. — The
Canon of Holy Scripture. — The Text of Holy Scripture. — " The
Higher Criticism." — Its Aim and Scope. — Historical Retrospect.

— Contradictory Conclusions. — Present Outlook. — Not always to

be Destructive. — Summary, — The Moral for us .... 207



Material not what it ought to be. — Causes which have crippled the
Supply, and lowered the Standard. — Present Methods of Train-
ing. — Poorly Equipped Schools. — The Drift and Forms of Living
Thought not sufficiently cared for. — How this can be done. —
Protestant, Roman, and Anglican Methods of Training compared.

— Virtues and Defects of our own. — Low Views of the Morale of
the Ministry. — Our Young Life in training for the Ministry to be
lifted up to a Purer and Loftier Standard of Thought and Feeling . 241



Undue Craving for Popularity. — Adulterations. — Originality. — The
Dramatic Tendency. — Humor. — Causes of Declining Interest. —

xii Contents.


Hold upon the Common Mind which Nothing can shake. — Weak
and Barren Use of the Holy Scriptures. — Consequences. — En-
forced Brevity of Sermons. — Individualism. — Doctrinal Vague-
ness. — New Cycle of Religious Thought. — Its Influence. — The
Teacher in a Dogmatic Church must be a Believer in a Dogmatic
Faith 265



Not a Waste of Time to discuss the Subject. — Unwise Attitude of
the Church. — Principles that underlie the Claims of the Clergy
as a Teaching Order in the Work of Popular Education. — Subject
viewed from a National Standpoint. — Highest Right of the Indi-
vidual not provided for. — Religious Training having ceased in
the Schools of the Nation, Moral Training is neglected. — The
Nation educating only a Fraction of its own Life. — A Re-action
inevitable. — The Church's Duty to prepare for it .... 296



What the Cure of Souls in the Catholic, Scriptural Sense implies. —
Little of it in this Sense. — The Clergy inefficient. — The People
estranged. — The Causes historically traced. — What is needed to
effect a Change for the Better. — The Subject to be regarded from
Another and Higher Point of View. —How affected by the Drift
of Modern Thought. — Deeper and Truer Teaching as to the Na-
ture of Moral Evil, and of the Soul's Relations to it. — Special
Training of the Priesthood for the Guidance and Care of Individual
Sovils. — Casuistry. — Its Relation to Ethics. — A Manual needed.
— Principles to govern in the Composition of it. — Conclusion . 313




More not less Dogmatic Teaching required. — Aversion to Dogma
explained. —- Dogmas that excite, and Dogmas that escape this

Contents. xiii


Aversion. — The Uses served by Doguia. — The Dogmatic Decis-
ions and Definitions of the Early Councils necessary to guard the
Complete Doctrine of the Second Adam. — Various "Ways in which
the Church has disintegrated or diluted her Dogmatic Teach-
ing. — The World's Religious Life changed, not by Ethical or Sen-
timental, but by Dogmatic Preaching. — Primary and Secondary
Ends of the Gospel compared. — Tendency now to substitute the
Latter for the Former. — The Effect of this on the Priesthood . .328



Claims of the New Theology. — Its Arraignment of the Early Latin
Theology. — Greeks and Latins held substantially the same View
of the Divine Immanence. — The "Renaissance" View of it and
of Human Nature. — Sources of this View. — Alexandria and
Antioch. — Particulars Illustrative of the Temper and Attitude of
the New Theology. — Traditional Consensus. — The Scriptures. —
Solidarity of the Race. — Gospel of the Secular Life. — Sacred and
Secular all One and the Same. — How Christianity ought to be
presented to this Age. — The Universal Priesthood the only Priest-
hood. — The Sacraments to serve Moral and Rational Uses. — The
Church not a Divine Institution, but a Social State. — Conception
of God's Mode of dealing with Sin. — The Atonement, — Influence
of these Views upon the Christian Ministry 349



Character needed to work upon Character. — Type of Charactor in-
herent in the Ministry the Gift of Pentecost. — The Ideal of it
behind us. — Priestly Character amid all its Variations has never
forgotten this Ideal. — To be studied under the Twofold Light of
this Id.-al and of its Providential Relations to the Present and
the near Future. — Salient Features of Both placed side by side. —
In what Directions Priestly Character needs to be developed and
strengthened to meet the Wants of our Time. —The one Source
of its Wider and Nobler Influence. -Conclusion .... 303



The centuries are only so many chapters in the
volume of time. They conveniently mark off the his-
toric spaces behind us, for purposes of observation and
study. But for the breaks and rests they supply, events
would be without grouping or perspective, and the past
would close in after us like a single horizon on a
boundless plain. And yet, however they serve our con-
venience, they are of our own making and arrangement.
The world's life and movement have in them no corre-
sponding chapters. The forces that govern them have
as little regard for our modes of scoring the lapses of
time as the organic activities of our bodies have for
the great days in our civic or ecclesiastical calendar.
My theme, therefore, "The Christian Mmistry at the
Close of the Nineteenth Century," neither asserts nor
implies any relation of cause and effect between the
Christian Ministry and the close of this century; but
is intended rather to call attention to the ftict, that, as
we are nearing the end of one of the larger measure-
ments of time recognized by history, it is the dictate of
an intelligent curiosity as well as of a sober Christian
thoughtfulness, to inquire how it has fared with this

2 The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism.

God-given but man-kept agency ; what is said of it by
others ; what it has to say of and for itself.

This is not only the last, but, as commonly believed,
it is the most remarkable, of all the centuries. Moved
by this belief, the minds of men in all the higher walks
of thought are now turning aside from special studies,
to look at the mould and drift of the age taken as a
whole. The sciences of mind and matter, of society
and civil government, of law and medicine, the arts of
utility and the arts of imagination, the skilled indus-
tries of the soil, the sea, and the factory, — all things,
in short, into which men have, in these latter times,
thrown their best mind-power or will-power, — seem to
be making up their record, and, as the shadows deepen
with the setting sun of the century, to be preparing to
give an account of their stewardship. For no possible
reason can the Christian Ministry refuse to do likewise.
If it be foremost in dignity and power as the representa-
tive of an eternal kingdom, then, by so much the more
as it transcends all other offices ordained for the well-
being of man, is it bound, at this time, to account for
the talents committed to it.

Neither the purpose nor the scope of these thoughts
demands any formal statement of the doctrine of the
Ministry. It is enough, perhaps, to say that what the
Church has taught in all ages respecting its origin, con-
stitution, and transmission, is taken for granted. And
yet there are Ministries which in the light of this teach-
ing we must hold to be defective, whose existence and
work it would be idle to ignore in such a discussion as
is now proposed. While, therefore, as a rule, when

The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism. 3

speaking of the Ministry, I shall refer to what we under-
stand by the Catholic and Apostolic Ministry, I shall
not hesitate, in all cases that may require it, to include
the fruits of other Ministries organized upon a different

The characteristics of our time, whether religious or
ii-religious, repeat themselves in the current views of the
Christian Priesthood. As men think of religion gener-
ally, so they think of the official class commissioned to
represent it. The Priesthood belongs to a system of
gifts, powers, ordinances, and institutions, organically
bound together ; and the conception which determines
the place and value of the whole determines the place
and value of every part. In forming this conception of
the whole, or of any part, many minds are swayed by
habits of thought, both speculative and practical, that
sweep widely beyond the subject in hand, and deal with
interests that have no immediate connection with it.
Some are influenced by that elastic and often intangi-
ble thing, — the spirit of the age ; some, by opinions or
prepossessions derived from certain schools of science
and literature, or from theories of social and political de-
velopment, or from historical studies ; while still others,
consciously or unconsciously, take their bias from some
pronounced trend in theology, or some dominant phase
of Christian life and organization. However we may
account for the many and divergent estimates of the
Christian Ministry in these closing years of the century,
it is a fact that they exist ; nay, more, that they assert
themselves boldly in the popular as well as the critical
judgment of our time. While sonic of thciu may sad-

4 The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism.

den, none of them ought to surprise us ; for there is not
one of them whose way has not been prepared by some
definite drift of modern thought. While there is scarcely
an aspect of the unbelief or liberalism or genuine faith
of the day, that has not repeated itself in one or more
of these, they are reducible, without loss of any essen-
tial feature, to the following.

1. We have the view of the Ministry taken as mat-
ter of course by the agnostic, who neither affirms nor
denies the being of God, relegating with philosophical
complacency the whole question to the region of the
unknown and the unknowable ; by the secularist, who,
sure of only this world, deems it a waste of thought and
care to divide his attention between that and some other
only possible world, dismissing without reserve the spirit-
ual life, with its inheritance of immortality, to the limbo
of dreams and fictions ; by the extreme liberal, who,
though flaunting the badge of a spiritual philosophy,
and talking in a large way about God and the human
soul, about duty and the grandeur of an endless moral
development, about the hid treasures and wonderful
possibilities of the great ethnic religions, and about
all affiliated themes, yet, so far as Christianity or the
Church is concerned, can give us no better proof of his
solicitude for our welfare than by warning us of the
approaching collapse of faith, of the increasing shallow-
ness of the crust of modern piety, of the loosening hold
of the Cross on all forms of intellectual and ethical
development, and of the consuming flame driven by
advancing science over the stubble field of worn-out
creeds and sapless traditions. By all these, the Chris-

The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism. 5

tian Ministry is declared to be a dying function, retaining
the show without the reality of life, and kept afloat only
by habits of thought and usages of society gradually
dwindling away before the advancing dawn of a new
era of light and progress.

2. Next there is the view of the Ministry taken by
not a few Christian people. For one reason or another,
they have come to listen to disparaging allusions to the
Sacred Office as though they were in good part well-
grounded. It has become the fashion to speak of it
slightingly, and as though it has had its day ; and sadly
enough it has equally grown to be the fashion, among
too many, to be silent or timidly apologetic, as though,
if they attempted any defence, it would be reluctant and
half-hearted. I am not concerned just now with the
causes of this state of mind. Speaking generally, it has
been one effect of the recent movements in religious
thought, to make many within the Church timid and dis-
trustful in regard to the future of the faith and order in
which they have been trained. To them, the outlook is
clouded ; old landmarks are passing away ; the very foun-
dations seem to be threatened; strange doctrmes, claiming
to be the latest voice of Christianity, are in the air ; the
facts of the Gospel are made to shake hands with modern
conceits and speculations, in a Avay that forces a suspicion
as to the integrity of the facts themselves; while the
stability of the best-known Christian dogmas and insti-
tutions is disturbed by the passion for new departures
in rehgious teaching and organization. Now, to minds
mainly occupied with these aspects of the religion of
the time, the Ministry very naturally appears to be in a

6 The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism.

decline. They see no help for it, and strive not to find
any. There is a great deal of spiritual wreckage afloat,
and this is only a part of it.

3. Finally, there is the estimate of the Ministry
prevalent, I would fain believe, among the great body
of the faithful. With them I affirm that the essential
elements of Christianity were never pushed more boldly
to the front of human thought and human life than they
are to-day ; that the religious impulse of the race was
never so deep and strong as now ; that the faith once
delivered never had a more vital hold on the reason and
conscience of mankind, or was more likely to lift them
to higher orbits of truth and power, than at this moment.
All this may be claimed without denying much that
seems to make against it. Some are terrified by the
apparently sweeping and radical character of the changes
going on in the beliefs of the time. But these are not
what they seem. The material of all doctrines in any
way fundamental to our religion is drawn from the facts
of revelation and the facts of our own consciousness.
There is and can be no change in these. But when we
consider the forms into which these facts are to be cast,
the verbal shapes they are to take, there is scarcely any
limit to the possibilities of change. The mind, guided
by the Spirit of all truth, will go on stating and re-
stating them generation after generation ; and will be
sure to exercise its liberty, as it ought to do, to the full
extent needed to make its statement of eternal wisdom
as large as the sum of knowledge and the actual experi-
ence of the human soul at any given time. This process
may often disturb, but need not alarm, the people of

The Christian Ministry at the Bar of Criticism. 7

God. The very fact that it is now so widely operative,
thrusting upon us so many signs of change, and here
and there giving off ugly portents of agitation and con-
vulsion, is at bottom the strongest possible proof of the
unwasting vitality of the facts with which it deals. It
is because Christianity is made up of these facts of
revelation and consciousness, that it is ordained to be
the crown of the moral order of the world. As such,
neither itself as a whole, nor any thing instituted by its
Author to represent it unto men, — as Priesthood, or
Sacraments, or Worship, or the mystical Body itself, —
can permanently wither or really perish. We know,
then, as we know Him in whom we have believed, even
the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, that the
priesthood eternally His as the one Mediator, and com-

Online LibraryAbram Newkirk LittlejohnThe Christian ministry at the close of the nineteenth century → online text (page 1 of 31)