Thomas Hancock.

The pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey online

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devil." '

This unapostolical, anti-national, and anti-social
theology was the germ of the sermons whose wide
circulation over the globe was so profitable to the trade,

1 The Christian World, November 7, 1873.


and which have called forth the eulogies of newspaper
men and Church dignitaries. Nothing less than St.
Paul's own irony could bring out the full contrast
between these sermons of commercial Babylon and his
own sermons. His sermons, as he tells the Church in
the indignant autobiographical which she uses to-day as
her Epistle, brought him the persecution of the religious
world (the cruellest of all the forms of the world which
we renounced at our baptism) : they brought him
floggings on his bare body, the necessity of working for
his daily bread, and hardly getting that ; his sermons
brought him into hunger and thirst, into fastings also,
into cold and nakedness.

Some perverted form of Calvinist election and repro-
bation was no doubt one of the false gospels which the
Corinthians had preferred to the gospel of the Nations'
Apostle. St. Paul taught them that the childhood of
God and the childhood of the devil are not two
several persons, but the two contrary births and lives
of which every person, some time or other, is conscious
in himself, whether Jew or Greek, faithful or infidel.
Christ, the author of the Divine birth in consciences and
nations, by sending His apostles with His baptism and
His discipline to all nations and to every creature,
declared in action, as He had done by word in the
parable of the Prodigal Son, that the childhood of God
is the true and real childhood in every Corinthian and
every Englishman.


Whether we like it or not, we are obliged by our
calling as the priests of the nation, to assert that we
have a kind of ministry which is " more," as the Nations'


Apostle says, than the ministry of nation-dividing and
parish-dividing apostles. Whatever truths they may
speak, or whatever good they may do, we are bound to
own in England, as St. Paul did in Corinth. But
" thoagh I should boast somewhat of our authority,
which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not
for your destruction, I should not be ashamed." The
authority of our ministry no more depends upon the
recognition of it by newspapers or by parliaments than
the authority of St. Paul's apostleship depended upon
the votes of the Corinthians. Our business in the nation
and its communes and families is not to satisfy news-
papers, nor so to conduct ourselves as to get influence
amongst political wire-pullers, and preserve the endow-
ments of those of our order who are endowed. Our
business in England, like his in Corinth, is to liberate
consciences from all tyrannies ; it is to " endeavour to
keep men within that divine unity of national fatherland
and communal neighbourhood and family order wherein
the Father has already established them, and wherein
His Spirit was educating them before He manifested His
Son to the nations, and sent forth His apostles with the
Catholic baptism and the Catholic discipline of which
we are the ministers : it is to cultivate in men that
catholic humanity by which the Father has made them
members of a greater society than the nation, or
commune, or family. What the tyrannies are to which
they are subject who reject the Nations' Apostle for
other apostles St. Paul tells the Corinthians in many
parts of his letters, and in to-day's Epistle he counts up
five of them. " For ye suffer if a man bring you into
bondage : if a man devour you : if a man talk of you :
if a man exalt himself: if a man smite you on the

It is too late here to show how history, as the con-


tinuous Word of God, prove these to have been again
and again the results of substituting the false unity of
the Roman Popedom, or the false spirituality of
Sectarianism, for that unity in which the Father has
established us, and for that common Spirit which He
has " poured out upon all flesh."


" Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye,
and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy
brother's eye." ST. LUKE vi. 42.

IN these words the Saviour of mankind and the true
Head of every nation in whom the men and citizens
of the most contrary parties have unity, detects and
condemns that evil spirit of division which rages and
seems to rule at times like the present. It sounds like
the satire of the eternal Word of God, the ultimate
factor of history, upon our Parliamentary elections, as
they are now conducted. For who sees not that it is
the chief business of the agent and slave of a political
party, and indeed that he regards it as his very duty, to
be what our Blessed Lord calls a "hypocrite"? He
uses pen and tongue, and newspaper and placard,
" first " to deny that there is any beam in his own eye,
and thereupon to show to his fellow-citizens how huge a
mote there is in his brother's eye ; or perhaps he invites
them to curse and rail at his brother for having a mote
in his eye. Jesus says that every such speaker or
writer, whether he calls himself Pharisee or Sadducee, a
Liberal or a Conservative, is a "hypocrite." He is a
man playing a part upon a stage, laying aside for the
moment, and for the action, his own true self ; that is,

1 Fourth Sunday after Trinity, July 10, 1892.


his share in the common and indivisible Humanity
which he and all men have in Christ. He is blinded by
his own hypocrisy, Jesus says, by a beam in his own
eye. And what is the name of this blinding beam ? It
is " Party." The Saviour saw that the misery and
degradation of His own nation were due to the
blindness of the parties which divided it, political and
religious. All His awful " Woes " were delivered
against these parties, none of which had any place or
name in the real divine constitution of Israel any more
than our political parties of Whig or Tory, Liberal or
Conservative, or other such sects, have any place or
name in the constitution and statutes of England, or
any more than our ecclesiastical parties of High, Low,
or Broad have any place or name in the creed or canons
of the Church of Christ. Yet men fancy that these
unreal divisions, both in Church and Commonwealth,
are the real branches and members of each. It has
often been noticed that the Saviour uttered no " Woe "
against the national priests. Why ? Because, notwith-
standing they were most cruel enemies to Him and His
work, they had a name and place in the godly and
humane order of the fatherland. The priests of Jewry
were by their office witnesses, as the leaders of the
Jewish sects and parties were not, to that unity and
brotherhood in which the Father had established the
whole nation. The priests might individually be
Pharisees or Sadducees ; they might individually care
more for the triumph of their party than for the health
and wealth of the whole common People ; they might
pretend that the health and wealth of the Nation could
only be obtained by the blind Liberal Sadducee crush-
ing the blind Conservative Pharisee, or by the blind
Tory Pharisee keeping the blind Radical Sadducee out
of all places of power and profit in the State. But as


priests they were against party, and for the nation.
They were the witnesses and the ministers of the great
national community and fellowship which included the
members of all parties. As priests they were obliged
to bless all the organical people, and not merely the
mechanical party of the Pharisee or the mechanical
party of the Sadducee. The Pharisee who was a priest
had in his sacerdotal character and function to bless the
very Sadducees, whom he cursed in his party character ;
and the Sadducee who was a priest had in the same
way, however grudgingly, to bless the Pharisees as
integral members of the elect people of God. As
national priests they were obliged to offer the Divine
sacrifice for the entire national congregation of the
Lord. It was their function as priests to absolve all the
citizens from their sins. So the priests were obliged to
deny in God's name the first assumption of each party,
that transgression is a characteristic solely of the other
party ; that its members have no beams in their own
eyes, and consequently have title and power to point
out, if not to pull out, each ugly and wicked mote that
is in their brother's eye, or, as they prefer to say, in the
" enemy's " eye.


You will observe what it is which the Judge and
Saviour of the nations here does. He rejects our
nomenclature and substitutes His own. He calls that
man " hypocrite " or play-actor, whom we call a " noble
champion," " our glorious leader," the politician or
religionist " whose heart is in the right place." That
which we call magnificent insight, or foresight, or
clearness of vision in such a man, Jesus Christ calls a
blinding beam in that man's eye. The astute wire-
puller of one of our political parties gives this cruel title


of "enemy" to his "brother" in the other party. I
need not say for which party he rages, since the Church
knows nothing of citizens under their self-made separa-
tions into Pharisees and Sadducees, or into Conservatives
and Radicals, but knows them only within their God-
given constitution as men and citizens. The wire-puller
of party, who has no name for his " brother " in the
opposite political camp but that of " the enemy," think-
ing that he saw signs of quarrel inside one of the dark
anti-Christian camps of his own party, adopted the
words of Nelson to some naval officers who had fallen
out, " Gentlemen, there is the enemy ; shake hands."
We priests should not only be hypocrites, but apostates,
if we did not at such a time as this remind the Lord's
congregation that Christ the Lord gives deliberately the
name of " thy brother " to that very man whom the
Antichrist of Party urges and inspires you to regard as
"the enemy." As we have been called, ordained, and
sent by Jesus Christ to His parishes in their entirety,
and to His whole English nation, that we may bless //,
that we may offer and present before the Father the
common Sacrifice of all and for all, and that we may
absolve all of their transgressions in His name and with
His power and authority, so we shall be traitors to
Jesus Christ, and to His whole congregation in parish
and State, if we side as priests with either of the parties
which pervert into " enemies " those whom He has called
and established into a brotherhood. It seems to me
more Christian to vote for a man than for a party, as we
see in that classical instance of the people's voting
St. Ambrose into the bishopric of Milan.


The Lord does not merely warn us, however, that to
be saved from "hypocrisy," and to take our standing


upon the fixed foundation of truth and reality, we must
renounce our nomenclature, which is of the old man,
and adopt His nomenclature, which is of the new man
created after God in Christ Jesus. He goes on to tell
us what we are " first " or at once to do. We are to
substitute His godly and humane order of time for our
anti-Christian order of time. He tells us to put first
things first. So long as the Radical is looking " first "
for the mote in the Tory's eye, or the Conservative is
looking " first " for the mote in the Liberal's eye, each is
blind, each is a " hypocrite," each is putting the second
thing in the first place. It is more important to the
whole family of the State for me to be right and clear-
sighted than to prove to as many as I can that the
other man is wrong and blind. That which seems on
the surface to be merely individual to you or me is
fundamentally social. I serve all society by casting
this beam of prejudice out of my own eye.

" Cast out first," says the common Saviour, to Liberal
and Conservative alike, " the beam out of thine own
eye : and then shalt thou see clearly." The newspaper
the holy bible of each party tells its own blind
partisan that there is no beam in his eye ; if there were,
he would not see so clearly as he does "the mote in
his " enemy's " eye." The " first " thing, says the Devil's
Unholy Scripture, alike in the Tory and Radical
translations of it, is to get our enlightened and faultless
party in power and place at all costs. The simple
sheep of each party, who run and vote in a flock as they
are told, are honestly fascinated by the ideal of the
party, and suppose that its loftiness is a palliation for
the bad morals of electioneering. The ideal is always
sure to be high and noble. That was as true of the
ideals of Pharisee or Sadducee as it is of those of Tory
or Radical. There always is something precious in the


nation, the preservation of which to our children is
worth all our pains and struggles ; hence it is just and
rational that a Christian should be a Conservative.
There is always an accumulation of vile and corrupt
roots in the soil of the fatherland, and these must
develop hideous growths, which will be a curse to our
children if they are allowed to remain ; hence it is
righteous and reasonable that a Christian should be a
Radical. But he may be both, and may be both at
once, and yet remain firm in the liberty wherewith
Christ has made us free, and not sell himself into
bondage to either of the parties which pretend a
monopoly of those qualities of which they so
impertinently usurp the titles. This monopoly of what
is not exclusively ours is the very thing which Christ,
our Judge and Deliverer, calls " hypocrisy." Hence it
is that I am so glad that He in these last days, in His
character as Redeemer of all society, has called into the
field of politics the long silent and oppressed estate of
Labour. I will not say that He has founded a Labour
" party." Labour is for all : by it all live. So I can no
more regard the godly estate of Labour than I can
regard the holy order of the Priesthood, as a mere
party. If the wage- worker sells his soul to a party, he
will have the same condemnation as the priest who
becomes the slave of a party. Has not the Lord
already given us signs, as the world's all-ruling King,
that to this estate of Labour He has entrusted the
redemption of all other estates in the Commonwealth
from their present miserable captivity to the immoral
and anti-social parties of the " Ins " and the " Outs " ?
Oh may they be faithful, as the apostles were, to so great
and world-wide a trust It is the "first" necessity of
the Christian mind to look for the very best in the side
or interest opposed to his inclination. We own this in


the Church whenever we speak of the reconciliation of
the parties and sects by which the {< one body " of the
baptized is now outwardly divided. It is morally
impossible to separate Church and State, so inextricably
has the Father of both united them. Ought we not to
extend the same principle to the State ? A Christian
Radical should be much more concerned at the beam in
his own eye than at the mote in his Tory brother's eye.
Why should political life be thought the one part of life
from which Christ and His Law are to be excluded ?
So a Christian Conservative, if he yields himself to be
led by Christ's Spirit, will be " first " eager to see and
discover the signs of Christ's mind in all the schemes
and plans of his Radical brother. How wide and
inexhaustible are the contents of that " Salvation "
which the world's Redeemer brings ! To be " saved " is
at the same time the liberation, emancipation, and
making whole which is the ideal of the revolutionist in
politics, and also the preservation of everything that is
precious, which is the ideal of the Conservative in
politics. Every parish in England is praying this week
that God being our Ruler and Guide, we English
citizens may so pass through things temporal that we
finally lose not the things eternal. " Things temporal "
is a name which we justly give to our political life.
" The things eternal," our common Fatherhood and
Brotherhood now revealed to all nations by God in
Christ Jesus our Lord, by which those who split them-
selves and their neighbours into wrangling parties,
struggling to disgrace and outwit one another, are
nevertheless really, inwardly, and spiritually held
together in one communion and fellowship by Him of
whom every fatherland in heaven and earth is named.


" Blow the trumpet in Zion ; sanctify a fast ; call a solemn
assembly ; gather the people ; sanctify the congregation ; assemble
the elders ; gather the children." JOEL ii. 15.

" But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head and wash thy
face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father
which seeth in secret." ST. MATT. vi. 17.

ONE of these passages occurs in the Epistle, and
the other in the Holy Gospel, which were read
before the common altar of the parish on " the first day
of Lent, commonly called Ash Wednesday." What
democratic and catholic significance lies in the phrase
" commonly called," which is repeated so often in our
English Book of Common Prayer, I shall hope to show
you on another Sunday. I have not joined together
these two Ash Wednesday texts to-day in order to
preach upon them, for each is full enough of matter
to occupy a preacher throughout the whole season ; but
rather because their junction on the first day of the fast
indicates what the whole of the fast ought to contain
and to be.

The two aspects of Lent, the national and the
personal, either of which can so easily be magnified
to the neglect of the other, are combined before the
altar of every parish on the first day. There and then
the Church associates the words of the Lord's prophet

1 February u, 1894.


to the whole national community with the Lord's own
words to the personal conscience. The Word of God,
which was uttered by the prophet Joel to the Common-
wealth of Judah, and is now self-uttered to all nations in
the person of the incarnate and universal Son, is the
Eternal Word, as His Church dogmatically teaches.
To confess Jesus as the Eternal Word is to say that He
always was, as well as is, God's Word to and in all ;
and therefore we may be sure that the people and
priests of the nation who heard the prophet's words
upon the fast, must also have heard His inward and ever-
speaking word to the conscience on the true and the
false fasting. This indeed the prophet implied by
saying in the Epistle exactly the same thing as Jesus
says in other words in the Gospel : " Rend your hearts,
and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your


Some of us have been preaching Lent after Lent, for
near a quarter of a century, the doctrine which the
Church places in the forefront on the first day of Lent,
not only by the choice of the Epistle, but by the whole
contents of the Commination Office. That doctrine is
that Lent is a season set apart by Christianity for the
discovery, denunciation, confession and amendment of
our open social sins ; and it is therefore, according to
the Church, a fast for the entirety of every nation,
city, and parish in Christianity. The dominant words
in the Epistle, " Zion," " Assembly," " The People,"
" The Congregation," are all social phrases ; " the
Elders" and "the Children" include all the states of
social life. The Scribes and Pharisees of those news-
papers which profess righteousness, and care for the
poor, as Judas did, with their customary ignorance of



the Church, and their intolerance toward her clergy
as such, pretend that such a use of Lent is a "novel
innovation." But this use of Lent is not made merely
by the sermons of those priests, few or many, who
intentionally adopt and vindicate it. They are simply
conforming to the Church which these newspapers
ceaselessly denounce. Every priest makes this use of
it. For the Church, as the mother and mediatrix of all
that are desolate and oppressed, has taken care by her
parochial offices for Lent that every priest as such shall
in every parish make this social use of it. I have much
more horror of the exceptional praise with which a
Party may belaud some of us, when it supposes we are
helping its worldly ends, than I have of its chronic
intolerance towards the whole estate of the national

The social aspect of Lent used to need all the
greater emphasis at the time when we began to bring it
out of the Church's unchanging offices into our ever-
changing sermons, because Socialism did not then wear
silver slippers, and dine at rich men's tables, and
brought reproach instead of reputation. Besides, most
of our order, as was natural to the pastors of local
flocks, were ignoring the wide and deep social purposes
of Lent in their anxiety for the moral health of those
whom they best knew, the persons directly committed
to their charge. Even those who thought most
seriously of the corporate life of the Church, like the
Oxford Reformers, did not perceive how inseparable it
is from the corporate life of the commonwealth ; and so
they mainly urged their hearers to use Lent as a
time for each one of them to examine and forsake his
own individual sins against God and his neighbour
which are so often not open, but known only to his
Father who seeth in secret This is why they said


with so much emphasis, echoing the Pastor and Bishop
of all souls, Who both unites all and isolates each, " But
thou, when thou fastest."

To use Lent merely or mainly for the denunciation of
sins we are not inclined to, or are not likely to be in
a position to commit whether they be the class sins of
Tory landlords or the class sins of Radical capitalists,
or the class sins of drunkards, company promoters, and
gamblers is to narrow one of the most precious in-
stitutes of the human-universal fellowship, the Catholic
Church, to the pharisaic service of a sect or a party.
The Church is the city of refuge for common society and
the common conscience alike from the many Sects
which rend religion and the two Parties which rend
politics. Hence it is an obligation of the state of
the clergy, as I think, towards every other "state of
life " in the commonwealth, to avoid the possible
degradation of their Lenten sermons to the quarrelsome
level of leading articles in a political Party-newspaper,
or of speeches from a political Party-platform, whose
ends are not the same as the ends of the common
Church namely the spiritual healing of the common-
wealth and all its members, but rather the quack
pretence that it can only be healed by securing the
mechanical triumph of one political camp over another.
The seed of all class and party sins, from the worrying
of a rat to the crucifixion of a martyr, lies deep in every
self. Lent recalls us to the moral ABC, that every
such seed must be anti-socially fertile and reproductive
until self in all and each is put under Christ the

Lent is indeed both national and personal, a time
for open denunciation and inward amendment. The
two things may be separable in public, but they are
inseparable in the sight of the Father of all and each,


who seeth in secret. His sight of our " secret " is given
as part of the Gospel, or glad tidings to all mankind.
Hence every one who denounces ought to make quite
sure in secret of his call and mission. He ought to
examine himself and see how far he is qualifying
himself for so awful a work. Moses obtained the
right to denounce Pharaoh by first making the great
renunciation : he " refused to become the son of
Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction
with the People of God than to enjoy the pleasures
of sin for a season." Christ our Lord first emptied Him-
self, " made Himself of no reputation, and took upon
Himself the form of a slave," "though He was rich, yet
for your sakes He became poor," before He said to
the rich and full and life-enjoying men of other classes,
" Woe unto you that are rich ! Woe unto you that are
full ! Woe unto you that laugh now ! Woe unto you
when all men shall speak well of you ! " Yes, I see
clearly how to call upon landlords and capitalists to
renounce the spoiling of the people of God, and perhaps
I can make an income, a reputation, and a career by
doing it. I can earn two or three guineas from the
plutocratic owner of a newspaper by denouncing the
riches of an archbishop : I can write a laudatory article

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Online LibraryThomas HancockThe pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey → online text (page 17 of 22)