From the old publications: T h e N e w C o v e n a n t A d v o c a te April, 1909
Movements toward Reunion and Intercommunion of the churches are on foot in all parts
of Christendom. As far as Rome is concerned, there is no hope that such relations could be established, unless the Protestants were to surrender all the claims made in Reformation Days. This they are not
likely to wish to do, wholesale, though many Protestant clergymen recognise that they, as Protestants, have hut little that they did not derive from Rome. On the other hand, the Papacy is not likely to give up its claims, expressed in ” g r e a t swelling words,” to be the sole depository of the Faith and the only representative of Christ on earth. In Rome’s view, all others who claim to be Christians are schismatics, and need to be reconciled to ” m o t h e r ” before full recognition of them can be rightfully accorded.
The hopelessness of the cause of Reunion of the Roman and Protestant communions is generally recognised; and it is also generally agreed that the most that can be done at present is to cultivate
“relations of friendly courtesy,” this according to Dr. Clarke, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne.
The Archbishop is much more hopeful, when he views the cause of Reunion amongst Protestants.
The “Old Catholics” and the Church of Holland have invited Anglicans to Holy Communion, and the same privileges have been extended to them. It has been decided that Anglican bishops may, on request of Moravian bishops, join in the consecration of the latter, the effect of this being that presbyters so ordained can be licensed by Anglican bishops to minister in the Anglican communion.
There is friendly reciprocity in the Scandinavian churches, and great progress toward the formation of an alliance has been made in other churches.
Dr. Clarke regards the movement for union with the Presbyterian and other non-episcopal churches as the most important phase of the whole subject. This has been discussed in Australia for some time, and the project has aroused much interest in England and Scotland.
It is clear that the Presbyterians will not consent to have their ministers re-ordained by the Anglican bishops. That would never do. It would be in the nature of a confession that they had not been right from the inception of Presbyterianism. It may be that devout Presbyterians would not like to seem to be charging that the Almighty has allowed them to go more than three hundred years in a wrong way. At present, the Anglicans cannot admit that the non-episcopally-ordained ministers are properly authorised to minister. This has been the bone of contention throughout all the negotiations on the subject.
The Archbishop of Melbourne has taken a lively interest in the discussions by the Australian committee, and he thinks he sees the way to adjust the difference that has been the principal hindrance of reunion between his and the non-episcopal bodies. In his Lenten address, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, March 5, he said, as reported in ” The Age”:
” The Presbyterians held, in common with them, all the principal articles of the Christian faith. In doctrine and faith they were undivided. The Presbyterians would not, accept re-ordination. But supposing a union were effected at a given time, all the ministers to be ordained in the future could receive their orders from the joint authority of the united church, and so a period of transition would ensue towards full union on the basis of episcopal ordination. [And so the Anglicans would have their way, after all. — Ed.] The
Lambeth Conference contended that it would be possible to authorise arrangements to respect the convictions of the Presbyterians, and to involve no surrender of principle on the part of the Anglicans. The whole Christian world was concerned in regard to the union,
and if in Australia they could solve the problem, and make it an accomplished fact, they would win for themselves the undying gratitude of the whole Christian Church, . . . It was the duty of everyone to foster and encourage the principles of the proposed union, and the adoption of a creed the chief articles of which would combine against the forces of evil, make for increased power, the ceasing of government strife, and many other advantages.”
How sad it is to see amiable and talented men looking for nothing better than
” full union on the basis of episcopal ordination.”
If they attain to that, will they really have union of heart and mind? And if they should accomplish much in this direction, would they be in harmony with the Lord’s mind? Is “episcopal ordination” the divinely authorised basis for the union of God’s people? Is it the ” s e a l ” of God’s foundation? “Episcopal ordination” is not the divinely appointed basis, but Christ Jesus is, because he ” died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
“He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.”
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is .Jesus Christ.”
And the Saviour said,
” Whosoever heareth . These sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man,
which built his house upon a rock.”
The sayings of our blessed Lord may be examined most carefully, without finding a word about ” full union on the basis of episcopal ordination.” The union for which our Lord prayed on behalf of his people, and which has always subsisted between those truly his, notwithstanding inconvenient barriers sometimes erected by the unwisdom of men, is a union like that subsisting between the Father
and the Son. Its basis is not ” episcopal ordination,” but the desire that in all things the will of God might be done, and no other.
” I came not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me,”
said our Lord: and the same sentiment inspires the hearts of those Believers in the “Ransom for A l l ” who have consecrated themselves to follow in his steps, as he left an example.
Christians should agree with each other because they agree with God; the extent of their agreement
with God will be the measure of their agreement with each other. If ” this mind be in you, which was
in Christ Jesus,” namely, to be obedient to the divine will in all things, being obedient unto death, there will be ” full union ” of heart and mind, on the best possible basis — the only one. — 1 Cor. 15: 3 ; Rom. 4: 25; 1 Cor. 3: 11; Matt. 7: 24; John 17: 8, 9, 14, 18-21; 5: 30; 6: 38; 1 Tim. 2: 4-6; Rom. 5: 1, 2; 12: 1; 1 Pet. 2: 21 ; Phil. 2: 5-8.
” Increased power ” is one thing that is hoped for as a result of the proposed union. Power! Who has not
been made aware of Christendom’s decline in spiritual power in proportion to her desire for worldly power.
” My Kingdom is not of this world,”
said Jesus. His Kingdom will not be fully established in power in the earth until his presence shall have caused the present social earth and ecclesiastical heavens to ” flee away.”
“What a mistake has been made by Christendom in the past, and is still being made by Christendom in the present, to seize power in the affairs of the present evil world, will not be fully realised until the present social order, and all its works, arc destroyed in the impending
cataclysm, in which the ” heavens ” of ecclesiasticism will also “pass away with a great noise.”
This open acknowledgement by the Archbishop that ” increased power ” is sought by the promoters of church union and intercommunion is fair warning to the whole world. Why should they desire power, if not that they might use it? And for what purpose should it be used, if not to enforce their wills? And what would that mean? The history of Europe, during the time of ecclesiastical domination gives answer.
Power is indeed promised to the faithful footstep followers of Jesus — power over the nations, too. But all should notice that this power is not to be given to them in the present life. The present experience of God’s consecrated is very much one of suffering, in order that they may become copies of the character of God and His Son. Just as Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, and by becoming perfect in obedience was qualified to be the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him, so is the precious promise
“He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.”
But before we can get that position of power and authority, we must also learn obedience, as our Saviour did, so that we may thus be qualified to demand it from others.
” I f we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”
— Phil. 2: 9, 10; 2 Tim. 2: 12; Rev. 2: 26; Heb. 5:8, 9.
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