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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judge, and the tax-collector upon the same theological
ground as we honour and obey the Bishop of London.
Any Judas or Barabbas, any fool or scoundrel, can supply
our individualist self-assertion, or our caste and party
conceit, with hundreds of reasons and excuses for break-
ing away from the common body in Christ by acts of
dishonour and disobedience. One of the hardest acts in
life, as we may know by experience, is to honour and
obey, for the common good of the whole body, such
rulers in the Church and the Commonwealth as indi-
vidually exhibit small claims to respect and obedience.

St. Paul passed from the theological to the moral
ground for the self-subjection of every individual soul to
the common authority, the State, which is the gracious
and glorious ordinance of our Teacher. Hence, whether
it takes the form of a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a
democracy, it is everywhere and always obliged, by God's
overruling, more or less to assert and vindicate the
common morality, which restrains the individual, and
holds the Commonwealth together in some degree of
unity. The most degraded of Commonwealths could
not keep itself alive, but would dismember into a form-
less anarchy, unless its rulers retained enough of the
image of God, and of the Perfect Unseen City, to say
with power to each of its subjects, " Thou shalt not steal,
Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit
adultery, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbour, Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy
neighbour's." " For rulers are not a terror to good

19



274 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

works," says the apostle, "but to the evil. Wilt thou
then "(he is still speaking to the self-asserting individualist
mind) " not be afraid of the power ? Do that which is
good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he
is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do
that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword
in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to
execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

St. Paul's political precepts near the end of this letter
are not to be taken as detached axioms, but they are to
be interpreted by the apostolic dogma of the relation of
each individual to the " one body Christ," which underlies
all his counsels both as Churchman and Statesman. The
apostle's idea of political anthority, as Maurice has said,
was derived altogether from the Universal Church, and
not from the Roman Empire. For no State and
Commonwealth, no parish and commune, and no family,
can entirely know itself any more than a man can
rightly know himself, "come to himself" except by
going to the Father. "Every soul" within the Church is
to exhibit in his political conduct to emperors and rate-
collectors, the ecclesiastical principle of the " one body in
Christ " that principle which is perverted and distorted,
not only in the pseudo-universal body of the Roman
Imperial State, but even in the best National State
which the world has ever yet seen. What, then, is the
Christian "soul" to do? Is he to come out of the
Commonwealth, as out of a "Babylon"? Is he to
separate Church and State, and confine himself and all
his care within the Church, as the separated "Sion of
God"? No! he is to carry out to the worst of States the
godly and self-repressing principle of the Church, that
there is but one body in Christ, in which all members
have not the same office, and nevertheless, are every one
equally members one of another.



THE DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 1

"And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's
field, to bury strangers in." ST. MATT, xxvii. 7.

JUDAS, the apostate Christian, by his contract with
the rulers of his nation, had at last brought about
the disestablishment and disendowment of Christ
the Lord. The founder of the Church had already been
disestablished so far as secular power can disestablish
Him that sitteth in the heavens of His claims to a
kingdom, a priesthood, and the prophetic and pastoral
functions. He was no longer going all over the nation
doing good. He was tied and bound in the malicious
toils of the Jewish sects and the Jewish State authorities.
He and His disciples, according to the slang of Phari-
saism, were an " alien " society ; they came from Galilee.
The eminent religious and political leaders had even
said to Him, " Thou art a Samaritan." He and His
Church were in " a minority," they had only gathered a
fragment of the people, though He pretended He had a
mission from God to the whole people. Judas saw with
horror his Teacher stripped and beaten, disendowed of
liberty and reputation, and about to be disendowed even
of life.

" Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw

1 April 7, 1895.
275



276 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

that He was condemned, repented himself." Hence it
may be gathered that Judas had not expected so
horrible a disaster. He had seen the Saviour's mighty
works, and heard His omnipotent words, which no con-
science could resist ; and he probably thought, so far as
a man who lives for the individualist selfish moment is
able to think, that Jesus, either by a miracle or by His
eloquence, would redeem Himself from death. But now,
when the Lord's prediction of His death, which Judas
and the other apostles had disregarded, was being so
suddenly fulfilled, the traitor felt some remorse, "and
brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief
priests and elders," saying that he was resolved to
renounce his part in the contract, and undo so far as he
could what he had done, " I have sinned in that I have
betrayed the innocent blood."

I.

The two parties to this contract, the false Christian
disciple and the rulers of the Jewish people, had
different ends in the sale and purchase of Jesus. The
official statesmen thought only of their own immediate
political triumph, or of security in their profitable places
and power. There is no immorality of which the Party
Achitophels are incapable. But Judas cared nothing
for Party; he had been moved by selfish individualist
covetousness. As the evangelists declare, he had been a
preacher of Christ. He had himself worked for Christ's
kingdom, and perhaps with zeal. " For," as St. Peter
said, at the election of St. Matthias, " he was numbered
with us." But the slow and unshowy methods of Christ's
kingdom, and its apparent failure to get hold of the
majority, had disappointed his own social or monetary
ambitions. He had lately grumbled at a devout woman's



DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 277

endowment of the Saviour with an "alabaster box of
very precious ointment" He had, thereupon, given vent
to the first insidious Liberationist speech in the history
of Christendom. When " the house was filled with the
odour of the ointment, then saith one of His disciples,
Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who should betray Him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred
pence, and given to the poor ? " Why was this
valuable sum thrown away upon the endowment of a
minority of One Person, though He be ever so good ?
It might have been made to profit all Jewry by paying
it to some great pharisaic contractor, who could at once
provide labour for the poor and make a well-merited
fortune for himself, by the constructing of baths and
wash-houses, libraries, polytechnics, museums, or parks ;
or it might be contributed towards the purchase of the
potter's field to bury foreigners in.

St. Matthew, whose business it had been to deal
with money, implies that the faithful apostles also were
carried away by the Liberationist and demagogic argu-
ment of Judas, and St. Mark tells us that "some " of them
certainly yielded to it. It may be that the traitor was
a man of strong intellectual character, and a ready
debater, and that he persuaded his simple colleagues
to believe that his projected disendowment of Jesus
Christ would really prove a benefit to the poor, whom
Jesus loved. Neither St. Matthew nor St. John, whose
fellow-worker he had been, attempted any pharisaic
and self-complacent contrast between him and them-
selves, or the other apostles. They were no puritans
after Pentecost. They then and there had learned
by the Holy Ghost that one and the same old Adam,
one and the same carnal man which is not after God,
was in them and in him, and must be mortified and
crucified in them before they could rise and sit with



278 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

Christ, and be strong in His new life to do all things.
We need no Scripture to tell us that the Church
defender or the apologist for catholic and national
Christianity, may be as bad a man as the Liberationist
or the political Machiavelli, nay, perhaps a far worse
man. It was the universal " infection of nature," that
$p6vr\na aapKos " which is not subject to the law of
God," which in Judas betrayed and sold the Saviour,
in Herod mocked Him, in Pilate gave Him to the
cross, in St. Peter denied the Saviour, and perverted
all the apostles into cowards who forsook Him and
fled.

Yet, notwithstanding the likeness between Judas
and his colleagues, the evangelist indicates, for the
Church's sake, the distinction which made him in
the end a separatist from the apostolic fellowship and
a conspirator with the secular rulers against Jesus.
St. John lays hold of the Liberationist and demagogic
argument of Judas for the endowment of the poor, in
order to mark the eternal or moral difference between
the separatist one and the faithful apostolic eleven.
They may have accepted his argument out of their
care for their poor fellow-citizens, whose hunger,
misery, rights, and need of a real gospel the Lord
had so often enforced upon their conscience by His
word and work. They may have thought that the
disendowment of Jesus for the endowment of the
poor was a sort of act after His own heart.

We may compare the apostles, before they received
the strength of Whitsun Day, to some weak-headed
Churchman who has become so blind a slave of
party as to confuse and confound a majority triumph
of his own political faction with the triumph of the
Kingdom of Christ ; and so persuades himself that he
can serve both God and Mammon, Christ's Church



DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 279

and His own Party, by casuistically arguing that
Parliament may endow Christ's clergy with spirituality
by disendowing them of their daily bread, and giving
it to the rich or pushing contractors whom he speciously
calls " the poor."

But every man with an historical mind that is,
who takes heed to the infallible Word of God, in all
the past disendowments of Christ's spikenard see that
the profits of such cKsendowment have nearly always
hitherto gone to the rich, the mighty, and the proud,
and rarely, if ever, brought any help to the poor, humble,
and meek. It was so with the Liberationist Popes
of the Middle Ages, who disendowed the poor parish
priests and local churches of their tithes, and endowed
the rich and powerful monastic corporations with them
It was so with the Liberationist Tudor monarchs, who
endowed the great landlords, the Russells and Leicesters,
with the ecclesiastical funds which were seized under the
pretence of promoting higher education. It was so with
that den of Liberationist robbers, the Long Parliament,
whose members seized the episcopal lands and cathedral
lands under pretence of spending them upon the service
of " the Commonwealth," but voted them to one another
and to the payment of the arrears of the covetous
Ironside soldiery. The very same arguments which the
Judas of to-day cites for the disendowment of the
common Church, the Judas of yesterday used for
the disendowment of the common lands, and the
poor are likely to reap as small profit, and the rich
and pushing as great profit, out of the present
ecclesiastical disendowment, as out of the earlier
secular disendowment. They talk mostly of dis-
endowing " a rich Church," as if the Welsh Church were
one single individual, like a Vanderbilt or a Rothschild.
They might as reasonably lay hands upon all the



280 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

wages of all the poor wage-workers in the nation,
and then say that they were merely disendowing " a
rich class." They are really disendowing the poor
parish priests ; they are indirectly robbing the poor
communes. And if the parties which divide and rend
the Commonwealth had not been too selfish and
cowardly to allow the parishes to elect their clergy
we might add that they are directly disendowing poor
parishes. There are already quarrels within the den
over the distribution of the plunder, to settle how much
of it shall be left to each parish, and how much go
to "Wales" at large.

St. John tells the Church that Judas was under no
such illusions as those wherewith his honest colleagues
were beguiled. He did not really desire that the poor
should be endowed by his Bill for the disendowment
of the Redeemer of the poor. "This he said," as the
Apostle of Charity tells the Church, " not that he cared
for the poor," as the great publican Zaccheus had cared,
"but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare
what was put therein." It was of his own endowment
that the scoundrel was thinking when he made his
famous Liberationist and demagogic speech. It was
from the apostolic fellowship of Christ, and covenanted
for his own endowment that he separated himself
with the faction which then ruled the State, and which
saw the value at that crisis of the services which he,
as a preacher of Christ, could render their party. He
lost his share of what was put into the bag of Christ and
His apostles ; but he got his " thirty pieces of silver, the
price of Him that was valued " by the Jewish political
council. So, too, it was of their own establishment that
the political caucus was thinking when it made its
contract with Judas. St. Matthew accuses the people
as well as the Government



DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 281

" Whom they of the children of Israel did value," that
is, by their majority vote (on the side of the Pharisee
and Sadducee faction) " Crucify Him ! Crucify Him ! "
It was the act of the whole people, by their votes,
as the Prophet and Evangelist say : they could not
shuffle it off upon Judas, nor upon the Government.



II.

The text reminds the Church that the policy sug-
gested by Judas, in his Liberationist and demagogic
speech, was ultimately established by the Act of the
Government. I will not attempt to deal with the
apparent discrepancies between St. Matthew's account
in the gospel, and St. Peter's account to his fellows
at the election of St Matthias into the great bishopric
vacated by Judas. Nor could it be of any moral use to
spend time over the much-debated citation from the
national prophets. When the apostate Christian knew
the whole ghastly issue of his contract with the Govern-
ment, and wanted the rulers to relieve him of his part
by taking back the bribe, they derided him. " And
they said, What is that to us? See thou to that."
The Act has passed our Parliament and has received the
imperial sanction. " True progeny of Cain," exclaimed
Grotius, " they speak the language of Cain." They
refused to discuss the question. Whether Jesus in
Himself were innocent or guilty was no concern of
theirs. They were practical politicians, and they
wanted votes and influence against Him because they
knew Him only as a pseudo-Christ, and a danger
to the Government, and an obstacle to what they pleased
to call "the religion of the majority of the nation." So
Judas, "rushing out of their presence, cast down the



282 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

pieces of silver in the temple, and departed and
went and hanged himself."

The Government of the Jewish people, St. Matthew
tells the Church, hereupon held a privy council, and
discussed how they should dispose of the price of the
Saviour's blood, the thirty pieces of silver which the
despairing Judas had flung down in the temple. It
had thus been turned into an offering to God, an endow-
ment to be thenceforward employed, as Dionysius the
Carthusian says, " in the maintenance and repairing of
the temple of God, and in the sustentation of the
ministers of the temple." The rulers collected, by their
servants, the money of Judas, now become the money
of God, the price of Jesus' blood. They accepted the
thirty pieces of silver which they had hitherto refused.
What should be done with this fund ? " And they took
counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury
aliens in." Hence it is that St. Peter, in his address to
the disciples, said with justifiable irony that Judas was
the moral purchaser. " Now this man purchased a field
with the reward of iniquity," "the wages of unrighteous-
ness." St. Peter said that " it was known unto all the
dwellers at Jerusalem " : and the apostle, or else the
historian of the Church, added, "insomuch as that field
is called in their proper tongue Aceldama, or the
field of blood," as St. Matthew also says. Aceldama
would be an appropriate title for a museum or poly-
technic in a rich town, bought with the impoverishment
of Christ's poor priests, or with the disendowment of
some poor parish whose inhabitants may never set foot
in the museum.

We have time only to glance at the puritanical
casuistry of the State purchasers. The money, said
the Nonconformist conscience, is the price of blood ;
and yet as this endowment has been actually given to



DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 283

God, as it has been offered in His temple, it ought to
be employed according to the original wishes of the
donor. It should be spent on something useful to the
community. The like has been said of most endow-
ments which have in various ages been obtained by the
impoverishment or starvation of Christ's poor parish
priests, or by depriving parishes of their common and
settled pastors. "It is not lawful to put them in the
treasury," said the rulers, " because it is the price of
blood." The powerful disendowers could not with any
show of piety, policy, or decency, directly and openly
use such a fund for the endowment of the disendowing
parties. The Tudor Liberationists would have ex-
pended it without misgiving upon their race-horses,
which are more costly than parish priests. But the
pharisaic conscience would now be appalled at so
scandalous an abuse ; nor would the modern farmer be
pacified by the transference of his tithe from the
support of the common worship of the Father in the
parish church to the service of the devil of gambling at
Epsom or Newmarket. The Jewish parliament decreed
that it should be used for some purpose, as Luke of
Bruges puts it, which could be represented to the public
as pious and necessary. " Simulando pietatem" said
Ludolf the Saxon five hundred years ago, " intendendo
iniquitatem." These Jewish parliament-men affected to
be doing acts of piety, but they intended an act of
unrighteousness. So they endowed the potter, or the
ground landlord of the potter's field, whose soil was too
exhausted to yield any further trade profits, with the
price of the Saviour's disendowment. It may remind
us, in this city parish, of those " great bargains in
bishops' lands " and in cathedral lands, and in the
stones and scaffoldings of St. Paul's, and the fund
collected by Archbishop Laud for the restoration of our



284 COLE ABBEY SERMONS

Mother Church, which were contracted between the
Long Parliament and the wealthy Nonconformist alder-
men of London.

We have heard and read enough of late about the
true "religiousness" of disendowing Christ's parish
clergy and endowing museums and polytechnics, with
light-hearted perversion, either serious or comical, of the
example of St. Ambrose. From the parliamentary and
newspaper casuistry of our age we can understand all
the arguments which were used in the first age of the
Church by this council of the Jewish rulers. Everything
that could have been said by Pharisee or Sadducee in
that Council which condemned the Saviour of the world
His Passion and Cross has been said in the great
Council of our own nation, or written by the servile
Scribes of the party newspapers.

I cannot tell you how clearly I see, nor how keenly I
feel, that we have no right to condemn the Judas outside
us, unless we are fighting against the Judas within us.
Therefore I remind you again, as I try to keep myself
in mind, that the Judas nature is that old Adam common
to us all, and in us all. It is that fallen humanity
in men by which Jesus is always, everywhere, and by
all undervalued, rejected, disendowed, and crucified,
whether in Himself or in the person of the least of His
brethren, the hungry, the thirsty, the alien, the naked,
the sick, the prisoner. We have no right to imitate the
wrath of the Lamb against the sons of iniquity and
delusion unless we are willing to imitate His meekness,
humanity, and readiness for the cross, and to believe
that there is another, better, and more abiding sonship
in them. It is as true of the blind zealots of every
generation, as He said it was of the zealots who dis-
established and disendowed Him, " They know not what
they do." As He came forth from the grave on Easter



DISENDOWMENT OF THE SAVIOUR 285

Day with absolution, love, and help for those who had
brought Him to the cross, so may His bishops and
priests in Wales, if Satan should get his blind and short
triumph over them, come forth with a new Easter and a
new Pentecost for the whole Welsh people.



MY DUTY TOWARDS MY NEIGHBOUR 1

" Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that
seek the Lord. Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and
to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged . Look unto Abra-
ham your father, and to Sarah that bare you : for I called him
alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the Lord shall
comfort Zion : He will comfort all her waste places, and He will
make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden
of the Lord : Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanks-
giving, and the voice of melody." ISA. li. 1-3.

THE whole of this chapter is a sermon by a patriotic
citizen upon the reform of a city, and I think that
the text will be more suggestive than anything which I
can say about it. " Ye that follow after righteousness "
is a fair apostrophe, not only to those who cry for the
reform of London, but also to many who abstain from
joining in that cry lest they should involve themselves
in the bondage and unrighteousness of Party, but who
are nevertheless busy at work, each in his place, for the
reformation of our city.

I.

The committee of contraries which has named this
day " Citizen Sunday " sent me a post-card, and cour-
teously invited me to give the title of some " subject "
upon which I would preach. I hurriedly wrote down

1 Sunday, October 27 ("Citizen Sunday").
286



MY DUTY TOWARDS MY NEIGHBOUR 287

the simple question of the old English national Cate-
chism, "What is thy duty towards thy neighbour?"
I see that it is not included in the list which they have
issued, so that I am quite free to detach myself from
any show of partisanship, and attach myself the closer
to the great reforming society which the Lord has
established in our Sion, and in every single parish that
composes its unity. That reforming society which is
called by the Apostle of Nations, the patron saint of
London, the mother of us all, has laid hold of every
young Londoner whom she could reach, and has
solemnly asked him or her, " What is thy duty towards
thy neighbour ? "

The first thing which must strike every thoughtful
observer, when he sees the Church Catechism and
London Reform put side by side, is that not a few of
those who are now most forward in agitating about
London Reform are not less prominent in the agitation
against "Creeds and Catechisms." It is not a question
whether the Catechism ought to be taught as a part of
the common secular schooling where I should have no
quarrel with them but it is rather their question how
as few English children as possible may be kept from
learning the English Church's Catechism. They would
probably think it a glorious London Reform to burn
all the Catechism except the Fourth Commandment,
and to have the municipal powers interpret the Fourth
Commandment upon Separatist principles, by shutting
up all public-houses, keeping all museums and picture
galleries shut, and in course of time giving some civic
encouragement to revivalist meetings and the promo-
tion of Separatism.

Yet can anything be more peculiarly " civic " or
" municipal " than to ask the future citizen what is due
from him to his neighbour ? Can any words contain a



288 COLE ABBEY SERMONS


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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 20 of 22)