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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more hopeful germ of reform for our Sion, than the
answer which the Church demands from every boy or
girl whom she asks, " What is thy duty towards thy
neighbour ? " I will not now read that answer. I hope
you all know it. If you know it, and have the spirit of
a reformer in you, you must wish that every child in
London could be brought up at the knees of the Church.
The children give that answer, as you know, in their
double character, as being children at the same time of
the English National Commonwealth, and of the world-
wide fellowship of Christ's Catholic Church. The
answer seems to me to contain a noble abstract of
" civic " duties, at all events of the inward neighbourly
soul and spirit of them.

Civic schooling, or instruction in the outward duties
and rights of the future parishioner and citizen, as I
often regret, has not yet become a recognised part of
our English common schooling, as it now is in some
other national commonwealths. It would be a step to
the reform of our citizenship if we English folk had for
all our children, as members of the local and the national
commonwealth, such a Catechism, as we already have
for those of them who have by Holy Baptism been
made members of the Universal Church. It is the
humane faith of the Church that every child born into
the world has received, through the man-becoming of
God's only-begotten Son, an election and title to be
made a member of the Church. Has not each child
received by birth a like " civic " election and title, and
that also from God, to be the member of a common-
wealth, local and national ? London is a huge colla-
teration of parishes, and every child born in London
belongs to one of them, and has " civic " rights and
duties as a parishioner, whereof he may live and die
profoundly ignorant.



But let us get rid of such foreign and platform words
as " civic," " municipal," " parochial," and the like, and find
some true English names for these qualities. To use
such words without interpreting them, as the Common
Prayer Book of England says of the ancient services of
the English Church, is to "read in Latin to the People,
which they understand not." And the "civic" schooling
of English children should surely first of all be English
popular, common, in " the vulgar tongue." We should
in our speech on these matters, as the reforming prophet
of Sion said to his fellow-citizens, " Look unto the rock
whence ye are hewn." The nations and parishes learn
from the Universal Church what a nation is, and what a
commune is, as each child learns from her what a man
rightly is. Hence, as an English priest, I may be
expected to say that the best English word for "citizen"
is that word which the Church has adopted, the word in
which she has discerned the very soul and spirit of
citizenship, the word " neighbour " which means the one
who is outwardly next or nearest to us. There are still
some old Teutonic communes where the technical and
legal name for the parish is Nachbarschaft, that is to say,
" neighbourhood " or " neighbourship." Our neighbour's
lodging, whether a hut or a villa, touches ours ; his
personal and family life has been so ordered by the will
of the Fatherly Providence as to bring him and his into
one and the same common parish with us and ours.
Whenever you and I get outside the sacred circle of our
family, we find that we are still closed around with the
walls of another circle, which is also of godly origin and
building ; it is that of the neighbourhood, the parish, the
city, or the congregation of unlike social elements, which
the Eternal Pastor, by so many strange acts in history



and in His discipline over families and souls, has
compacted together into one body. A parish is no mere
club : it is no mere Separatist meeting. We do not
choose our neighbours : wherever we go we find them
already chosen for us by God. They are such as the
Father Himself has elected to be our fellows.

The Catholic Church has never omitted, in any age or
nation, to bear witness to this primary principle of all
wholesome " civic " reform, and so of all right " London
reform," by what is often called " her parochial system."
In one of the earliest records of London Separatism,
which the Dissenting historians quote with admiration, we
are told how a group of Londoners who imagined them-
selves to be too holy or too scripturally enlightened to
join the common worship with their neighbours, were
brought before the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of
London. It was on June 20, 1567, "in great Eliza's
golden prime," when Churchmen and Separatists alike
imagined it was the fuction of the State to act as a
dictator in religion. To all those who resented such a
claim, even though they did it in the interest of the
foreign Roman bishop or in the interest of a nation-
dividing Sect, we awe a great degree of honour and
gratitude. This company of Elizabethan Londoners,
under the pretence of keeping a wedding feast, had hired
Plumbers' Hall, and there they set up a Separatist
meeting, so that they might privately enjoy "the
sacramentes administered," as they said, " without
idolatrous geare." Their great complaint was that the
continuity of the Church in the parishes of London had
not been broken, by the arm of the State, when Queen
Elizabeth succeeded Queen Mary, but that parish priests
who had ministered in London under Bishop Bonner,
were still allowed to minister to the same parishes by
virtue of the same ordination, under Bishop Grindal.


Although that prelate had contracted during his exile a
strong sympathy with Puritan Nonconformity, he had no
sympathy with Puritan Separatism, which seemed to him
to strike at the very root of the godly union of Christianity
and neighbourhood, or of the Church and the Common-
wealth. He corrected them for their casuistical pretence
to the sheriff that they wanted the hall for a wedding,
when they really wanted it for a Separatist religious
meeting. " We did it," said they, " to save the ' woman
harmless.'" "Yea," said the kindly bishop, "but ye
must not lie : that is against the admonition of the
apostle, ' Let every man speak the truth to his neigh-
bour"" The very point of divergence between the
Church and a Sect was rightly put by the Father in God
of the Londoners, whatever other mistakes he may have
made, when he said to them, " Ye have showed yourselves
disorderlie in absenting yourselves from your Parishe
Churches, and the assemblies of other Christians in this
Commonwealth." Nixon, one of the Separatists, seems
to have shared the Sabbatarian belief of some of our
modern Separatists who are forward in London reform.
It ought never to be forgotten by any English citizen
that the English bishops were denounced for a whole
century by the Puritans as the foremost patrons of the
Sabbath-breaking of the common people, as I hope
some of the preachers on " Museum Sunday " may tell
their hearers. "You can suffer bear-bayting, and
bowling, and other games to be used on the Sabbath
day," said the Separatist to the Bishop of London, " and
on your holy days." It was not the suffering of the
bears, as even Macaulay could confess, but the neighbourly
games on Sunday which made the Puritans angry. And
it would have been within the bishop's office to reply,
that the Sunday games which unite the neighbours of a
common parish, so that " joy and gladness shall be found


therein," may be more " civilising," neighbourly, and
Christian than the Separatist meetings which break in
pieces the unity which God established by making them
all neighbours one of another, and break it under the
superstition that a schism is a peculiarly acceptable
service to the common Father of all.


It is not historically correct, however, to call the
parochial system "the Church's parochial system," still
less to describe it as an Anglican peculiarity. The
Church was not sent into the nations to create new
systems ; her proper work, as her Sender said, is to "bear
witness." The parish is no crafty invention of apostles,
bishops, priests, or Christian statesmen : but that which is
often called "the Church's parochial system," in contra-
distinction to the Separatist system of "gathered
Churches," is simply the Church's pious and believing
recognition and acceptation of God's own social and civil
work in the parishes which He has made, the existing
local communes. The Catholic Church is obliged to be
parochial on the same grounds as she is obliged to be
national. The Father had already established a complete
godly and humane order in the earth before He sent His
Church into the earth. The Universal Church finds this
neighbourly or civic order of the Universal Father
everywhere extant in more or less completeness, first in
the half-civilised tribe, and then in the civilised commune.
To this order, Christ's Universal Society is as bound to
be conformable as the Son Himself was bound to
do the Father's will. The Catholic Church has in all
ages and nations confessed that it is no function of her
bishops and priests to set up some new system of their
own as a " Sion," and to call men to separate from the


Father's established system of organic neighbourhood
and community, under the pretence that it is "Babylon."
On the contrary, she everywhere and always is bound
to christen, catechise, confirm, communicate, bless
marriages, visit the sick, bury the dead, and do all other
churchly works, in a religious conformity to that Divine
Kingdom which was established in the earth before she
was, which can never be moved, and to whose character
and relations she is to bear witness.

Hence you will forgive me if I say once more, what
you may think I say too often, that the most important
and desirable of all London reforms, from our eccle-
siastical point of view the one reform without which
every other local reform will prove lame and soulless
is that every organic neighbourhood or commune in our
Sion should have freedom, duty, and self-government in
its ecclesiastical as well as its secular life. Sooner or
later the bishops of England, like the apostles in the
ancient Sion, will find themselves obliged to call upon
the people of Christ to make use of the spiritual gifts of
discernment and familiarity with which the Holy Ghost
has endowed them for the service of their neighbours,
and to choose the men whom the successors of the
apostles may ordain or refuse to ordain, institute or
refuse to institute, to the ministry of each communal
Church. The Church of the old Sion, when the apostles
threw upon the whole multitude of the christened the
obligation of choice, chose such fit men for the deacons
that the apostles laid their hands upon every one of

Wheresoever the Church is endowed with secular
property, there the secular ruler has an undoubted title
to interfere in the disposition of that which the civil
arm, the civil laws, the civil police have alone defended
and continue to defend from spoliation and sacrilege.


If there were no organised Commonwealth, no State,
there would be no Church property, or only so much as
the Church members could keep from robbers by their
own physical force.

Our civil rulers had a happy opportunity, at the
passing of the recent Parish Councils Act, to come to
the help of the local Christian people in this most
necessary point of reform. But the party which was
then in power let the occasion slip, it may be through
partisan illiberality, or through defect of neighbourly
patriotism, or through a cowardly fear of offending the
Separatists and losing their votes. So instead of a
whole and generous parochial reform, embracing the
spiritual as well as the secular aspect of neighbourhood,
we got nothing better than that lame, blind, and decrepit
Parish Councils Act, by which they blunderingly
attempted locally to tear asunder the universal Christian
society from the civil society. Surely we ought t6
demand for our neighbours, as citizens of the world-wide
Christian society, the Catholic Church, the same fulness
of duty and right as we demand for them as members of
the civil commonwealth. The prophet of Sion shows us
in every line of his prophecy the ungodliness and the
inhumanity of a separation of Church and State. It was
a dark conception which first arose in the minds of those
who held that a "true Church" could only be erected on
the inhuman Calvinist conception that the Father had
damned the majority of men and women in every parish
before He had created them, and never intended such
reprobates to be the members of a "Church." What
reason can we give except the vested interests of caste
and mammon, or the jealousies of Samaria why a
neighbour should be "civilised" in things secular, but
continue under barbarism, or at least under feudalism, in
things ecclesiastical ?



It is no enviable task faithfully to declare what is at
present the one great obstacle to a full civil and secular
London reform. " Fear ye not the reproach of men,"
says our prophet, "neither be ye afraid of their revilings."
I do not think there can be a shorter or surer way to
bring upon ourselves a deluge of reproach and revilings
from all the time-servers, the fashionable scribes of this
present evil world, than to assert that our schism is the
great stumbling-block in the way of the reform of our
Sion. We have thousands of soldiers ; but they are no
organic army, because so many a one is fighting for his
own hand, or for his own victory, or for the arbitrary
rule of his own set, or for the victory of his schism over
the community.

I mean by schism every self-separation and class-
separation, civilly and ecclesiastically, from the common
" rock whence we are hewn, from Abraham our father,
and Sarah that bare us." The Father has made us all
neighbours. He has jointed every one of us into a
neighbourhood. But we have turned out of His way,
and have built up a number of social schisms, one or
other of which we look upon as our " Sion." There is
the schism of the West from the East, or, as our fathers
called it, the schism of " the town " from " the city " :
there is the schism of the rich few from the many poor,
the schism of the nobles from the commoners, the
schism of the Pharisees from the publicans and sinners,
the schism of the employers from the workers, the
schism of the cultured from the ignorant.

God forbid that I should say on which side blame
lies ; for in all schisms, as we learn from the Word
of God in history, both sides need confession and


The business of the Church is to uphold the simple
witness in the face of all, that "there is one Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all "
for every neighbourhood. But side by side with the
Father's establishment of neighbourhood, and over
against the Son's social and sacramental witness to
neighbourhood, we are confronted with the worldly and
carnal establishments of a social Phariseeism, a social
Separatism, a social Sadduceeism, a social Mammonism,
whose members are saying to the common man of the
divine neighbourhood, as our prophet puts it, "Stand
by thyself come not near to me, for I am holier I am
richer, I am nobler, I am more cultured, I am more truly
converted, I am more progressive, more conservative
than thou."

But when we look unto the common rock " whence
we are hewn " in divers shapes, when we all look back
together unto Abraham our father, we come to the solid
foundation of brotherhood, sisterhood, equality, and
community, out of which citizenship, or the organic
estate of neighbourhood has not only been evolved, but
to which it must also return if it is to know its laws.
He who was more than a prophet said to the pious
Pharisaic segregation which despised the irreligious, and
to the critical Sadducaic segregation which despised the
unlearned, "Think not to say within yourselves, we have
Abraham as our father : for I say unto you, that God is
able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
And the Divine Reformer Himself said to the Sabba-
tarian ruler of the synagogue, whom He had offended
by breaking their Sabbath, " Ought not this woman,
being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound
for these eighteen years, be loosed from that bond on the
Sabbath day?"

Nevertheless, amongst all our dividing segregations


whether religious, social, or intellectual we know that
there are hundreds who have a burning zeal for
righteousness and concord. They have a unity of the
spirit : they are sick of discord : God's law is in their
hearts : they long to see the neighbours gathered
together with them in one body, each caring for the
good of all. But it is hard for us to conceive of any
temple of the Lord in which no place is found for our
own private idols, our own class chapels. God forbid
that we should forget what the prophets show us, that
the Priests and Levites in His temple may be the worst
idolaters. Yet my idolatry cannot be an excuse for my
neighbour's separation from the organic neighbourhood,
established by the common Father of all for all.
Whether the separation be civic or ecclesiastical, it is
either an implicit denial that God has established any
such neighbourhood, or else it is a doubt whether the
actual neighbourhood in which we find ourselves and
our neighbours is a building of His foundation. Some
neighbours nickname the Church of London, or the
Church of the parish to which they belong, a " sect " or
a " denomination," as if the difference between it and
their various segregations from it lay in mere change-
able opinion : whereas it lies in the unalterable natures
of the Church and of a Sect. Even the splendid code
of citizenship in the Common Catechism, " My duty
towards my neighbour," is nicknamed " sectarian " ; and
you know how often the last sentence of it is ignorantly
misquoted, or mischievously perverted, as an excuse for
abusing the whole of it. In the age when that code was
compiled it was said that there were " three States (or
estates) of life in England," that of the governor, that of
the commoner, and that of the clergy. The prince as
well as the labourer has to learn the Catechism of the
Common Church, and the child says that whether God


shall call him to become a legislator, a common citizen,
or a priest, he must do his duty in that estate of life.

A London child is not baptized or made a member of
the Catholic Church because his parents are members
of it, as the old Puritanism contended, but he is baptized
because he is born ; he is made a Church man, and is
catechised as one, because God has already chosen him
to it by making him a man. "Look unto Abraham
your father," cries the prophet to the citizens. The
father of all that are born among you, the father of all
your neighbours, the father of the national common-
wealth, is the father also of the faithful, the father of the
Church. Look away from the Parties which divide
you, look to the organic community in which they and
you are one body. You cannot by any wit or policy of
yours separate the Church from the State, so inextricably
has God bound them together. Baptism is His testimony
to their union. Neither is any christened London
citizen a member of his parish church, the common
church of his neighbourhood, nor has he his title to
Holy Communion at its altar, because he likes it better
than other churches, or because he chooses it no, but it
is because the Father of all has chosen him for it,
because the best and highest Will has made him a
" neighbour," and that not only of those who kneel at
his side, but of the generations of Londoners who have
knelt here before him, whom it is our duty as neighbours
to remember before God in the representation of the
one perfect, full, and sufficient Sacrifice once offered for
the sins of the whole world.


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An Open Letter to the Teachers under
the London School Board.


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A Series of Sermons on Critical Questions delivered at
St. Mark's, Marylebone Road, W.

With Preface by


and a Bibliography by each Preacher.


How to Read the Old Testament.


The Trustworthiness of the Gospel Narrative.

By Rev. H. B. SWETE, D.D.

The Authority and Authorship of the
Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

By Rev. R. J. KNOWLING, D.D.

St. Paul. By Rev. A. C. HEADLAM, M.A.

The Virgin Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

By Rev. W. SANDAY, D.D.

The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


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Sermons preached in the Church of St. John the
Evangelist, Westminster,


Archdeacon of Westminster, Chaplain to the Speaker, Rector of

St. John the Evangelist, Westminster, Select Preacher

before the University of Oxford.


What think ye of the Christ ?
Possessing a Faith, or Pos-
sessed by a Faith.
The Holy Trinity.
The Holy Ghost.

No Monopoly in the Christ.



All Saints.

All Souls.

Holy Angels.

Your Adversary the Devil.

Balaam's Ass.

The Lower Animals.

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And Other Sermons.


Rev. W. C E. NEWBOLT, M.A.

Canon and Chancellor of St. Paul's.

Christian Commonwealth. "The volume abounds in such

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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 21 of 22)