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among us, that we fail to impress upon our catechumens any definite or intelligible idea of the Unity of the Church, i. e. what it is, wherein it consists, and how it makes us responsible for our moral acts. Certain it is, that we have come to look upon the doctrine of Unity as a part of the theologia armata,—as a weapon of offence. We shrink from teaching it, lest we should seem to condemn those who are visibly in schism; and thus, for the sins of Christendom, it has come to pass that what was ordained unto life is found to be unto death; and men, by striving to and fro to establish their conflicting theories, are divided in the very article of unity. Or, on the other hand, the false charity of being silent the more embroils the fray; so that, if we, to whom the only word that can still the storm has been imparted, shall refuse to speak it, what do we do ?—what reckoning shall we give to Him that bequeathed his peace unto us? No sober man can doubt that one chief cause of the continuance of schism, and therefore of perplexity and error, among our people, is our slackness in faithfully expounding to them the articles of their baptismal creed. If the pastors of the flock should slur over the article of the Incarnation of our Lord as they have slurred over that of the Unity of the Church, her people would have been long since heretical. The low tone of teaching now prevalent on this doctrine is one reason to enforce the duty of bestowing much anxious thought and care in restoring some true
and effectual mode of inculcating it upon our catechumens.
The other remark I would venture to make is on the defective state of our catechetical formularies in the point of this doctrine. In our Prayer-book it is everywhere assumed that the people are duly taught in the nature of the one Church: as for instance, in the Prayer for all sorts and conditions of men,
in the collects for the Feasts of St. Simon and St. Jude, and of All Saints ; in the service for the Visitation of the Sick, where we pray that God may “preserve and continue this sick member in the unity of the Church ;” and also in the Litany, where the people are taught to pray for deliverance from the sin of schism. It is therefore evident that a knowledge of the nature of unity is pre-supposed; and without doubt, when these services were published in the vulgar tongue, the context of the Church's oral teaching filled up all that was needful for the right understanding of them. But, with submission to those to whose hands the disposal of such things is intrusted, I would venture to adopt, as my own, the wish of a layman whose name will be its own sanction. “ If ever a convocation should think fit to revise the catechism of the Church, to whose authority and judgment an affair of that nature ought to be entirely submitted, it is possible they may find it necessary to add some questions concerning those who have the power of administering sacraments, and how they receive such an
authority, and what duties are owing by God's word to our spiritual guides : because such sort of instructions, early instilled into tender minds, might in the next generation retrieve that respect to the sacred order which we so scandalously want in this; and they would have this further advantage, that they would be a means of keeping men steadfast to the communion of the Church, and of preserving them from falling into schisms, even in a state of persecution; from the possibility of which no human establishment can secure the Church of God, while she is militant here on earth. And till this can be effected, it is to be wished the reverend clergy would more frequently instruct the people in such duties. The want of which necessary knowledge makes the principles of Church communion so little understood, that men are tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. I am very sensible great modesty hath prevailed upon them to divert their thoughts from this subject, lest it should be interpreted a preaching up themselves; but the same fears may as well prevent parents from instructing their children, and masters their servants, in those duties that relate to themselves.” 1
How far the following work may supply a definite view of this great Christian doctrine it is not for me to do more than hope. It is my
heart's · Nelson's Fasts and Festivals. Preface, p. xiii.
desire to lend a hand, so far as I may, to the great and charitable work of clearing off the entanglements by which the path of unity and of eternal life has been well nigh hidden from the eyes of men of good will.
The course I have taken is as follows: I have treated the subject of unity in three aspects: first, its positive nature, or what it is by the ordinance of God; next, so far as Holy Scripture will carry us, the end and design, or why God has so ordained the scheme of our redemption; and lastly, the existing anomalies of the Christian world, or how
reconcile the exact doctrine of unity with the irregularities which are visible around us. The first part, therefore, is dogmatic or historical, tracing out the doctrine of Unity in the Catholic Creeds, and in the inspired and uninspired documents of the Church. The second part is moral, but confined to the testimony of Holy Scripture alone. The third and last is practical or casuistical, and is discussed upon the principles and by the lights gathered from the two previous parts, and from the decisions of the Catholic Church.
ON THE ANTIQUITY OF THE ARTICLE,
THE HOLY CHURCH.
BEFORE we proceed to examine the intention of this article of the Catholic creeds, it will be right to make some inquiry into its antiquity.
That it has been received as a part of the Christian Faith in all churches of the East and West, through the whole tract of time since the Council of Constantinople, is admitted on all hands.
But a question may yet be raised as to its origin. It may be still asked whether or no this article were included in the Creed in the times of the Apostles; whether or not they required of every convert a profession of belief in the one Holy Church ?
In answering this question, we will first collect the facts of the case, and then make some remarks upon them, so as to lay the ground for a definite conclusion.
In the first place, the whole Catholic Church, having united in receiving the creed of the Council