Theo. Myers (Theodore Myers) Riley.

A memorial biography of the Very Reverend Eugene Augustus Hoffman : D.D. (Oxon.) D.C.L., L.L.D., late dean of the General Theological Seminary (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryTheo. Myers (Theodore Myers) RileyA memorial biography of the Very Reverend Eugene Augustus Hoffman : D.D. (Oxon.) D.C.L., L.L.D., late dean of the General Theological Seminary (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 28)
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the Puritan idea and view of religion.

The Methodist movement later emphasized the sub-
jective rather than the objective elements in religion;
and so it has come about that in America, which is the
gathering place of the nations, there is likely to be for
a long time a great confusion of mind and belief re-
specting everything except the minimum of what we
call our "common Christianity." The average man on
the streets, or even in the paths of what is called edu-
cated life, is utterly at sea as regards any well grounded
knowledge of the historical order of the Christian re-
ligion. Consequently, even in our own churches, and
everywhere throughout the community, the majority
of people are likely to be very indefinite in their ideas
of the Church, the constitution and perpetuation of
the Christian ministry, and the holy sacraments, their
essence and function. Their conception of the Chris-
tian religion generally is, as some one has remarked,
that its function is chiefly to give people " good ad-
vice," instead of dispensing the whole content of the
"good news" of the Gospel as distributed throughout
the traditional system, and the means of grace of the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the creeds
and of history, founded by our Lord as a definite king-
dom, meant to endure to the end of the world, pos-
sessed of authority and charged with the administration
of a supernatural sacramental life.



Where Churches have never been what is called
"reformed," as, for example, the great Churches of
the East and the Churches of the Latin communion
in the West, religion presents no academic or puzzling
questions to its subjects. They simply hear, believe, and
obey. Therefore there is no confusion of mind, there
is no conflict of theories or of fractional parts of re-
ligion with each other.

Whatever may have been the advantages of the Re-
formation to the human race in respe6t of abstract and
academic truth and the enlargement of human liberty
generally, its disadvantage has been that it has involved
endless discussion of academic questions about the
creeds, the Church, the episcopate, the ministry gen-
erally, the holy sacraments, their relative power and
importance in the Christian scheme, the principles and
methods of divine worship, etc., etc. The multitude
being always incapable of academic knowledge and
distinctions, the clergy, especially of the English and
American Churches, have had a peculiarly difficult task
— which, however, it must always be recognized the
providence of God has put upon them — of explaining
endlessly the various questions which must arise when
the distinctive principles of the Continental Reforma-
tions and those of the Anglican Reformation come
face to face. For example, many of our own people
who have conformed to the Church for one reason or
other have no clear apprehension of the reason why
the Church insists upon the necessity of ordination by
bishops deriving their office by succession from the



Apostolic college. It is a constant puzzle to them that
respected and useful men in the non-episcopal and dis-
senting ministries are not found at our altars or in our

They think that the office of bishops has reference
only to the trivial and subordinate question of Church
government. They see no reason why Luther, who
was a German Roman Catholic priest, and Calvin, who
had no orders at all of any kind, and John Wesley,
who was a presbyter of the Church of England, could
not as well ordain as any or all the bishops of Christen-
dom. The prevailing ideas, too, of '^justification" by
mere a(5ls of "belief," and of the preaching function
as the great work of Christian ministry, have further
divorced them from all ideas of the richness and full-
ness and beauty of the immemorial ecclesiastical Chris-

To meet some such confusions of thought Mr. Hoff-
man had to discuss and explain in his Eighth Address
principles and facfts which ought to be, and in a normal
state of things would be, of universal recognition and

"There is another subje6t, my brethren, to which it
seems to me that I may with propriety allude in this
address. Those of you among whom I have now gone
in and out for eight years, striving to preach the Gospel
of Peace, will bear me witness that I have never taken
upon myself to attack any who profess and call them-
selves Christians, nor have ever sought occasion to say
a single word against those who, whether in truth or



not, strive to preach Christ among men. I have not
felt called upon to stand in judgment on other men's
work, nor do I conceive that the interests of truth are
best served by attacking what we may consider error.
I have preferred to proclaim the truth as we believe it
is in Jesus, rather than to build up ourselves on another
man's foundation, and to show by good works that the
living Church, as we have received it from Apostolic
hands, is sufficient for all the wants of our fallen
humanity, for the regeneration, reformation, and sanc-
tification of the world. And, although it is less than
seven years since this chapel was consecrated, we have
already seen many of the principles which we have
striven to teach — as, for example, the duty of Christians
assembling together for daily public prayer — recog-
nized and partially adopted by those who once looked
upon these things as works of supererogation. But
there are a great many outside of our communion, and
perhaps some within it, who do not clearly understand
why we do not unite with other bodies of Christian
people in the great work of evangelizing the world.
They see other churches ( I use the word in the popu-
lar sense) from time to time ignoring their differences,
proclaiming to the world that the questions which
keep them separate are matters of but trifling impor-
tance or non-essentials, and assembling together in
what are commonly called * union meetings ' ; and it
seems, to those at least who have not taken the trouble
to examine the question, that when we refuse to do
the same we are setting ourselves up as better than



other men, and they speak of us as exclusive,' as un-
charitable, as wanting in a true catholicity, and as of
the number of those who divide the Church of Christ
and present it with a broken front to our common
adversaries, the world, the flesh, and the devil.

*'Now I know the danger of misapprehension to
which I expose myself by raising this question at all.
But if Christian people are ever again to be one in the
bonds of that unity for which our blessed Lord so ear-
nestly prayed on the night of His agony, it will not be
until they understand each other better, and are willing,
candidly and charitably, to avow their honest convic-
tions. Indeed, I can not but think that there is noth-
ing which tends more to the spread of error and the
growth of divisions among Christian people than a
false delicacy in regard to avowing what they honestly
believe to be the truth. For example, if one tells me
that because I have not been immersed he does not
believe that I have been baptized at all, and that there-
fore he cannot, however much he may desire it, admit
me to his communion and fellowship, I know how to
respect his candor and consistency. But if, instead of
this, he tells me that this is but a mdnor point of differ-
ence, and that we are after all equally acceptable to our
divine Master, only travelling by different roads to the
same end, I must confess that I am astonished at his
want of consistency, and am in doubt how to receive

^ And yet there is not a word in any article or office of our Church as ex-
clusive as the Westminster Confession of Faith, which, after defining the visible
Church, goes on to declare, "out of which there is no ordinary possibility of



his statement. With one breath professing to believe
that Christians should be one, and with the next for-
bidding me to receive, because of what he allows to be
a merely indifferent matter, the communion which the
Lord hath given to His disciples as the badge of their
love and the bond of their union one with another !
In all kindness I must say to such an one, 'Tell me
candidly of my error, let me at least know that you
honestly believe me to be in the wrong, and do not
allow me to go down to the grave with the vain de-
lusion that causes which divide the seamless robe of
Christ, tearing it into pieces whose name is legion, and
leading the world to doubt whether there is such a
thing as truth left on earth, are, after all, but matters
of indifference.' If, then, there are any present who
do not belong to the communion at whose altars I
have pledged myself to minister until the Master of
the vineyard shall call upon me to render in my ac-
count, I beseech them to hear me patiently, as one that
is striving to do good and not harm in his day and

" In the first place, let me freely and cheerfully ad-
mit that there have been, and are still, many persons
who belong to religious bodies with whom we do not
hold communion whose sincerity of purpose and good-
ness of heart have equalled that of any that I have
ever known ; whose lifelong charitable and self-deny-
ing deeds — whether battling with the pestilence of the
tropics or braving the terrors of the Arctic zone in
order to preach Christ among the heathen, or in the



none less trying, quiet home duties of everyday life —
have put our zeal and our earnestness to the blush, and
won for themselves a praise in all the Churches. Nay,
more, I doubt not that, if we shall be so happy as to
continue faithful in our Christian calling unto death,
we shall yet meet many such in the Jerusalem which
is above, where there can be no more divisions, but
where, with one heart and one voice, we shall all unite
in that new song which shall forever ascend before the
throne. And yet we do not, and no clergyman of the
Protestant Episcopal Church can, without exposing
himself to the discipline of his Church, admit their
ministers to officiate in our churches. Give me, then,
your attention while I endeavor to explain to you the
reason for this restriction.

" Of course you will expect to hear me say that the
canons of our Church forbid it ; and so they do. In
one of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, to which
every minister of our Church is bound to subscribe, we
read, ' It is not lawful for any man to take upon him
the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacra-
ments in the Congregation,' before he be lawfully
called, and sent to execute the same.' In another,
referring to the form by which our ministers are
ordained, we read, * Whosoever are consecrated or
ordered according to said Form, we decree all such to

^ This word was used, at the time the Articles were compiled, in the sense in
which we now use the word "church." The Latin version of the Article uses
the word Ecclesia: and had the modern language of Congregationalists been in
vogue at the time the Articles were first published, the word "Congregation"
would have been avoided. Vide Browne on the Articles.



be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and or-
dered.' And then, turning to that form by which all
our ministers must be ordained, and which was adopted
from the English, with such alterations as were ren-
dered necessary in a Church under a republican form
of government, by the Bishops, clergy, and laity of our
Church, assembled in General Convention in the year
1792, the first words which strike us are these: * It is
evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture
and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there
have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,
— Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Which Offices were
evermore had in such reverend estimation, that no man
might presume to execute any of them, except he were
first called, tried, examined, and known to have such
qualities as are requisite for the same ; and also by pub-
lic Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved
and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority. And
therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be con-
tinued, and reverently used and esteemed in this
Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be
a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church,
or suffered to execute any of the said Functions,
except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted
thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following,
or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination.'
And then, in the canons which were adopted by the
General Convention, we are further told that * In this
Church there shall always be three orders in the minis-
try, viz.: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.' And again,



*No person shall be permitted to officiate in any con-
gregation of this Church, without first producing the
evidence of his being a Minister thereof to the Minis-
ter, or, in case of vacancy or absence, to the Church
Wardens, Vestrymen, or Trustees of the congregation.'
And the manner in which our Church interprets these
canons is shown by the fad; that when a minister of
the denominations about us desires to become a min-
ister of the Church, he must, though he may have
grown old in the service of the communion to which
he belonged, before he can be permitted to officiate
even in the lowest order of our ministry as a deacon,
first receive ordination from the hands of a Bishop." As
ministers, therefore, of this Church we cannot allow
any to officiate at our altars who have not had * Epis-
copal Consecration or Ordination ' ; and certainly we
would not, as honest men, officiate ourselves in this
Church unless we believe that these doctrines can be
proved by Holy Scripture.

"But I do not intend to shelter myself simply be-
hind these canons; for the question still remains,
*Why doth our Church make such canons, and teach
these doctrines?' Let me attempt briefly to answer it.
It is no use now to ignore the question, and to say that
these divisions are all right and for the best. Honest
men would not believe us if we did, so long as we con-

^ It is not with us a question of comparative merit, but of lawful appointment.
In human matters everybody understands this principle and afts upon it. Many
a traveller in foreign lands may be better fitted for the office of ambassador than
the individual sent out as such by the government, and yet his words and his afts
are powerless, from the mere lack of authority.



tinue to officiate in a Church which teaches what we
have just quoted. It is with us, as every one can see,
a fundamental question, and must be fairly met. Why,
then, do we not unite with other bodies of professing
Christians in the great work of evangelizing the world ?
To answer it fully, we must go back to foundation

** Now we find, by an examination of the sacred
scriptures, that, from the beginning to the end of Rev-
elation, God has dealt with man through covenants, and
He seems to delight to represent Himself as a cov-
enant-keeping God. Before the fall He made a cov-
enant with Adam. When the flood destroyed the race,
He established a covenant with Noah and with his
seed after him ; God did set the bow in the cloud for
a token of the covenant which He had established with
Noah, and with all flesh that was upon the earth.
Again, when Abraham was called, and his seed became
the chosen race in which the Messiah was to come,
God made a covenant with him, and gave him circum-
cision as its sign and seal ; — * This is My covenant,
which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy
seed after thee : Every man child among you shall be
circumcised.' And again, when Moses was sent to
bring the children of Israel from the land of bondage,
the covenant was explicitly renewed, the covenant which
they were to keep throughout all their generations,
that the Lord might bless them. All these covenants
were with mutual pledges and mutual duties, and, like
all other covenants, both signed and sealed. Abraham,



says the Apostle, * received the sign of circumcision, a
seal of the righteousness of faith.' And as with Abra-
ham and his seed, so in every case there was a penalty
imposed on those who would not keep the covenant.
Thus, said the Lord, 'that soul shall be cut off from
his people; he hath broken My covenant.'

"When Christ, therefore, came 'not to destroy, but
to fulfil' the law, the same great, eternal principle of
God's dealings with man was observed. To have done
otherwise would have been not only to annul but to
abrogate everything that had gone before, to cut off
the New Testament from all connection with the Old.
Hence the terms of salvation and the blessings of the
kingdom were offered to mankind through a covenant,
by the same covenant-keeping God. The old and tem-
poral covenants, which were but types of that which
was to come, were now fulfilled, developed into the
reality, and so, in one sense, superseded by that which
St. Paul calls a 'new' and 'better covenant,' 'estab-
lished upon better promises,' of which Jesus is the
mediator, and to which all Christians must come.
Thus the old covenants of works and of service were
done away by the new covenant of sonship and adop-
tion. The true Israel of God no longer 'received the.
spirit of bondage again to fear,' but ' the spirit of
adoption, whereby they cry i\.bba, Father.' But still,
in every sense, there is a covenant none the less real
and perfect, in every particular that pertains to the
nature of a covenant, than the covenants which God
made with Noah, and Abraham, and the Israel of old.



Hence, says a recent writer,' * In this is my trust. I
am bound to God ! God is bound to me ! There is
the only rock of assurance. The covenant is real, the
contract is signed, sealed. I hold the Almighty God,
who guides all these worlds by His pledged word, by
His awful oath of truth, that cannot fail. Through all
the infinites the great Hand reaches down and grasps
mine in the covenant. I can feel the grasp daily,
nightly. The "earnest" is given, the indwelling of the
Spirit, and I am bound in living bands, mote of an
hour, atom of a day, bound to the Everlasting God ! I
shall live when all these suns are dead; I shall stand
when all this space they lighten is rolled together as a
scroll ; for the God who " keepeth covenant and prom-
ise" is pledged by His own changeless word to me.

" ' Even so. The salvation purchased by the Saviour,
all the benefits in body, soul, and spirit bought by His
merits, are offered and conferred by express agreement.
The terms are distinct on the part of man, the prom-
ises distinct on the part of God. Like all the covenants
past, it has, too, its visible signs and seals. It is offered
in the name of Christ, whose blood purchases all
human souls for Himself, to all men forever. By the
term of this covenant they become, through the Eter-
nal Son, the adopted sons of the Eternal Father.'

" In strict accordance with this, we find, by careful
study of the Gospels, that when our Saviour was on
earth He went about preaching, not, as many carelessly
assert, the gospel without a church or a sacrament, but

^ In the Church Review, July, i860.



*the gospel of the kingdom' — the kingdom of God,
the Church which He purchased with His blood, and
which was to administer, dispense, and make known
the new covenant of adoption unto the -end of time.
Thus St. Matthew tells us that * Jesus went about all
Galilee . . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom ' ; and that
when he forewarned His disciples of the destruction of
Jerusalem and of the end of the world, he added, * And
this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the
world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall
the end come.' St. Mark says that * Jesus came into
Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and
saying, . . . the kingdom of God is at hand.' And St. Luke
records his sayings, *I must preach the kingdom of God,
for therefore am I sent.' 'The Law and the Prophets
were until John ; since that time the kingdom of God is
preached! And that to the man who would go and
bury his father before he could follow him, ' Let the
dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the king-
dom of God' Again, when He called His twelve dis-
ciples, and * gave them power and authority over all
devils. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God.'
And again, *Fear not, little flock; for it is your
Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdo?n' And
again, * I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father
hath appointed unto Me.' And again, when He would
declare unto them the spirit with which disciples
should receive the Gospel, it was in these words, * Who-
soever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little
child, shall in no wise enter therein.' And lastly, when



he still lingered on the earth during those forty days
which intervened between His resurrection and ascen-
sion, the subject of His discourse was, as St. Luke is
careful to inform us, * the things pertaining to the king-
dom of God' When, therefore, those whom He sent to
proclaim His Gospel in all the world went forth to
fulfil their ministry, they went forth, we are told in the
sacred record, as preachers of this kingdo??i. Whether it
were Philip the deacon in Samaria, or Paul the Apostle
at Miletus with the elders, or a prisoner in Rome, it
was still, in the words of Holy Writ, ^preaching the
kingdom of God.' For this cause, therefore, do we thank
God, as St. Paul writes to the Colossians, because He
*hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and
hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.'

"And to this Kingdom, or Church, by whatever
name you may choose to designate it, was committed
the covenant of promise. By the Church, as Christ es-
tablished it, are we taught this covenant is to be offered
to all mankind, its visible signs and seals given and
ratified, and all that appertains to it administered and
cared for until Christ shall come again. For this pur-
pose the Kingdom or Church of God must be a visible
society, at unity with itself, perpetual in its nature, and
have, as the terms of the covenant require, a common
creed, a common ministry, common sacraments, and
common prayers. And from these essential parts of the
covenant plan of salvation, which the Lord Jesus estab-
lished, no individual, nay, no Church, has the right to



" It is to be a visible society. How else can we under-
stand the Saviour's words, to 'tell it to the Church,'
and ' if he neglect to hear the Church ' ; or St. Paul's
charge to the Ephesian elders * to feed the Church of
God, over which the Holy Ghost had made them over-
seers ' ? To deal with men, and not with angels, it
must be visible^ in order that it may to be seen and
felt, and draw men to it.

'■^ It must have perpetuity. Only so could our blessed
Lord's words to His Apostles be fulfilled, * Go ye, there-
fore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost : teaching them to observe all things what-
soever I have commanded you. And, lo ! I am with
you alway^ even unto the end of the world.' Only so
have we any assurance that the blessings of the Gospel
will be offered to our children to the latest generation
of the world, as *the gates of hell shall not prevail
against' the Church. And but for this it would have
ceased long ago, and only be read of in history, as we
read of the ancient schools of philosophy.

"And // 77iust be at unity with itself. Nothing less
than this can satisfy those figures of speech by which it
is designated throughout the Gospels. Nay, even nature
itself doth teach us that ' Every kingdom divided against
itself is brought to desolation ; and a house divided
against a house falleth.' And what else can we make
of that earnest mediatorial prayer which our blessed
Lord offered on the night before He suffered, but that
all His disciples might be at perfect unity with each



other, in order that the world might beHeve that God
had sent him ? * Neither pray I for these alone, but for
them also which shall believe on Me through their

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Online LibraryTheo. Myers (Theodore Myers) RileyA memorial biography of the Very Reverend Eugene Augustus Hoffman : D.D. (Oxon.) D.C.L., L.L.D., late dean of the General Theological Seminary (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 28)