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The War and Unity By Various Characters: 43711

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By the Rev. E. Milner-White, M.A., D.S.O.

At last we have begun to see the absolute necessity of Unity in Christ, of religious reunion, for the sake of both Christianity and the world.

For several years devout Christians in England have been growing more and more uneasy about their acquiescence in religious division. The reading of the Gospels, and especially the eighteenth chapter of St John, where He prays on the threshold of His agony that His disciples may be one, even as He and the Father are one, has become nothing less than a torment to those who have any real passion for the doing of God's will, or who are humbled by the tremendous love of our Lord Jesus Christ, for each and for all. Thus far have we gone from the clear mind of Christ; thus far have we ruined His plans for the health and happiness of the world; thus far have we failed to imitate or display the love, the humility, the self-sacrifice, that walked to Calvary: He bade us be one, and to love; we, the disciples, have chosen to hate and be many.

English Christianity alone is split into hundreds of denominations. The fact is its own grim condemnation. We had lost even the sense that division mattered. It is quite ridiculous to pretend that nothing is wrong with the religious ideas or state of a race, which produces hundreds of bodies, big and small, to worship Him who only asked that His worshippers should be ONE. Denomination itself has become a word of shame which we shall not be able to use much longer. It brings up at once the thought of something partial, little, far less than the Body for which Christ died; and a host of yet more horrid pictures of old squabbles and present rivalries, of contempt and bitterness and controversy. It does not suggest one Christian idea at all.

These uneasy thoughts even before the war were brought home by the practical results of disunion as worked out inevitably in the colonies and mission field. The language is not too strong that labels them monstrous. Here was the flower of our Christian devotion going forth to heathen wilds, meeting by God's grace with wide success; and establishing our little local denominations firmly in the nations, tribes, and islands of Asia, Africa, and Australasia; rendering it hard for a native Christian who moves from his home to get elsewhere the accustomed ministries and means of grace vital to his young faith; planting seeds of future quarrel at the very birth of new tribes into the Prince of Peace. In the Dominions, with their thin and widely scattered populations, other phenomena, equally deplorable, are manifest-five churches in places where one suffices, appalling waste of effort and money, and even ugly competition for adherents.

In England we hardly saw these things. The population was large enough and indifferent enough to God to provide room for the activities of all. The indifference indeed seemed to be growing. We did not stop to think whether disgust at continuous controversy had not done much to cause that indifference-how far our divisions simply manufactured scepticism as to there being any religious truth-whether the obvious lovelessness of such conditions was likely to recommend the religion of Love-whether this disparate chaos was likely to be a field in which the Lord, who designed and founded one brotherhood of believers, could work or give His grace to the uttermost. No, the Christianity of our Christians has tended to be a thin individual thing, with interests scarcely extended beyond its own local congregation, which is bad enough; or still worse, in our towns, content to wander from congregation to congregation, owning no discipline or loyalty at all.

And yet in the same breath as we say, "I believe in God," we also say, most of us, "I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church." It is a crowning mercy that we do say it; that we do bear witness so outright to the state of sin in which we dwell; the clause does keep the mind of Christ and our own duty before us, of establishing as the first, perhaps the only hope of this sin-stained, war-stained earth, the brotherhood of believers which shall be one.

Then came the war, and in many ways the war, which has in every direction cleared vision, and both deepened and simplified thought, has brought home to every Christian both the disaster of disunion, and the imperative need of attempting unity.

You will expect me to give some account of the reaction of the chaplains and the Church in France to this conviction. Perhaps I should make clear my own position. Folk probably term me an "advanced High Churchman." I should call myself "a Catholic"-an English Catholic, if you like-, at any rate, one who cannot fairly be accused of ignorance of the details and depths of our divisions; nor of underestimating their real importance.

The priests who went out as Chaplains to the Forces had an experience somewhat similar to that of colonial or missionary priests-they exercised their ministry under totally new conditions, and in a new atmosphere. So did the Roman Catholics, Nonconformists, and Presbyterians, but of course I do not speak for them in what follows. But all the Church of England padres-high, low, broad-tell exactly the same tale of their experience; between them there has been no division; they have worked together in perfect harmony and keenness, largely appropriating each other's methods. In a word, they have discovered how false and artificial is the partisan atmosphere of home religion; and when they return, will find it hard to tolerate any continuance of it.

The Church of England is as a matter of fact divided roughly into three sections, by no means corresponding to the "high, low, and broad," of the church journals. Most Church of England men scarcely know what these terms mean. No, it consists of a devoted inmost section, regular churchgoers and communicants-and you will pardon me for thinking them the best instructed, the freest, and the sturdiest Christians in the world. They are of course in a minority, but they are actually numerous enough to occupy the time and care of our whole ministry, which is far below reasonable strength. Then comes a large fringe, who come to Church occasionally, or even regularly, in the evening; who make little or no use of the Sacraments, or of the more intimate devotions and instructions provided: they are well disposed; but are not consciously prepared to make sacrifices for their faith; and indeed are somewhat ignorant of its contents and demands. Then thirdly, there is a yet vaster multitude, baptised, married, and buried, perhaps by the Church, and therefore counting themselves Church of England, but who come but rarely within the orbit of Church life and teaching; and who, not to mince words, are semi-pagan. Only semi-pagan because the ethics, morals and traditions of England are Christian; and these people, knowing little of Jesus Christ, and understanding less, and not consciously moved by Him, yet not infrequently rise to heights of love and sacrifice which would adorn the life of a saint.

The mass of our parishioners in France, then, was not made up of the inner circle-we were lucky if we found three or four in a unit-but of the ill-instructed fringe, and the totally ignorant multitudes. The horror and boredom of war, the personal insecurity, the difficulty of understanding the ways of God, made all friendly to the parson with whom hitherto they had never come into contact; and caused large numbers to think things out, and to hunger for an understanding of God. Religion became a common topic of discussion. The padres found themselves in a larger world, where old labels and divisions simply had no meaning; and where the first necessity and work was to preach Christ and teach the meaning of the Faith. They felt also, very quickly, that this interest in ultimate things did not mean that men became friendly to organised religion in any form. On the contrary, their hostility and distrust toward all religious bodies were marked. The chaplains had that common and dreadful experience of foreign missionaries, of feeling themselves alone, closed round by thick dark walls of unsympathy and worse. They longed for the help and support of any genuine friend of Christ, whatever body he belonged to. I was called upon to preach the National Mission in a peculiarly hostile and irresponsive camp of motor lorry drivers, who much resented the use of "their" Y.M.C.A. hut for such religious purposes. A Wesleyan minister had charge of it, and got far more of their blunt language than I the visitor did; but he worked undismayed and unreservedly for all he was worth, for the National Mission and for me. The alliance was natural, real, inevitable. He and I, and some five or six men of that camp, were clearly on one side, and the rest of it on the other, of an exceeding broad gulf. With this as a daily experience, a man's values changed rapidly; and it became quite obvious that, even to begin to fight the battle of Christianity in the modern world, Christians must be united.

This assurance was reinforced by the quite extraordinary scandal that the mere fact of religious disunion caused both to officers and men. It was the big, obvious "damper" on the very threshold of Christianity-"see how these Christians hate one another." Officers would throw the taunt up again and again in the Mess, and the men lying down to talk themselves to sleep in their comfortless barns would begin to talk about religion with at heart a wistful longing to understand it and know its help and power. At once, someone would bring up the picture of squabbling denominations, and the wistfulness and hope would be slain by scorn. Next day and every day, the glaring scandal would be laid before the chaplain; who had little enough to answer. Of course, it is quite false to suppose that the existence and continuance of division are due to the clergy. Our English schisms have been caused at least as much by over-eager laymen as by over-eager clergy; and I think if it were left to the clergy alone the process of reuniting would be very rapid. In our Division, for instance, the three Nonconformist Chaplains to the Forces and I used to talk over the whole question; one was an orthodox Wesleyan, another a Primitive, and the other a United Methodist; and they did not hesitate to say that Methodist reunion had taken place more than ten years ago if it had been left to the ministers alone. But the average Englishman naturally blames the official representatives of religion, their ministries, for the obvious and open disgrace of division in the religion of love; he is ignorant of the excuses that history, and the real importance of the matters in dispute, afford; he only sees the evil fact; and it is quite enough by itself to excuse his closer association with so harsh a contradiction of the first principle of Christ and Christianity.

Then again in France, one came up violently against the sheer nuisance and waste of division. Imagine upon a Friday every C.O. and adjutant (and adjutants are always over-worked) of every unit approached by three Chaplains-Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Nonconformist; and requested to make different arrangements at different times for different fractions of his command to attend divine service on the Sunday. This in the midst of modern war, where organisation for war purposes is complex and laborious enough. The mere typing and circulating of these arrangements at Brigade and Divisional H.Q. mean in sum total a vast expenditure of paper and labour. The chaplains, who, I hope, are at least gentlemen, feel considerable shame at being the guiltless authors of these confusions. And the effect is so deplorable. Just when the nation is one, just when each military unit seeks to promote, for mere military efficiency, the esprit de corps of its oneness, the religion of the one Christ enters as a thing which almost flaunts fissure. Or again, think of the mere waste of pastoral efficiency involved in this fact. Each infantry brigade consists roughly of four battalions, and three or four somewhat smaller units (R.A.M.C, M.G.C., etc.). For these there are four chaplains, normally two Church of England (who have 80 per cent. of the men under their care), one Roman Catholic and one Presbyterian or Nonconformist. The two latter have to do the best they can each to get round all these scattered units to provide for small handfuls of men in each. Each of the Church of England chaplains has to arrange for a whole half brigade. How much more efficiently and thoroughly, with how much less needless labour, had the work been done, if an one Church could have set one chaplain to live each with one battalion, and be responsible as well for one smaller unit. That had made it easy for a chaplain to know his flock intimately; now it is next to impossible.

But above and beyond these misfortunes, which after all are details, must be ranked the big thoughts and truths which have swum into the sight and experience of everybody. The first is this. Granted that the Church like the world was surprised by the sudden outbreak of war, and therefore could not stop it; yet that she should have no voice at all even to denounce the unrighteousness and barbarities into which the world plunges deeper every day does strike men as wrong. The Church cannot speak because she is not one; even suppose all England be actually one national Church, if it is only national, it will go the way of the nation, and certainly cannot speak to other nations. For the Church ever to acquire a world-voice in the cause of love and right means that reunion and our desires for it must not stop short at home reunion. Here the witness of Roman Catholicism to the necessity of international Christianity is vital to the ideal of a reunited Christendom. Men, far removed from his obedience, did look wistfully to the Pope, conceding that he alone could speak such a word to the world in the name of Christ; wide and deep has been the disappointment that it was not spoken. Here again it is not the Pope, nor Roman Catholicism, that is to blame, but the whole divided state of Christendom which paralyses the action of each communion, even the strongest and most widespread.

I will mention only one other of these big truths-there are many of them-that have come home to every man; where again Christian division is the first and fatal obstacle in the way. This time it affects all the looking forward to the end of the war, and the new world of peace. It is unthinkable but that the new world must be one of brotherhood, not of enmity; of love, not of hatred. Otherwise every drop of blood that has been shed, every tear that has fallen, every death that has been died, will be so much utter waste. That is the one most intolerably dark thought in the days of darkness. There is a new policy open to the world which it has never yet tried, to work toward the Dominance of Love. Every conceivable form of selfishness has in turn dominated the affairs of nations and men; never yet has love been seriously tried. But there will be no chance of International Friendship, Brotherhood, Love, if the Church, the fellowship of Christians, who are after all set in the world by their own confession, to live by love, to be the exemplars and hot centre of love, cannot conspicuously shew forth love. How can the nations be friends before Christians be brothers? We have only to act according to our creed; and our creed does not only believe in brotherhood, but in the continual help of God Himself in our efforts to realise it. The influence upon the world even of a persevering attempt to achieve a united Christendom would surely be decisive. Therefore the reunion of Christendom becomes now the imperious vocation of every Christian, the one preventive of our agony and loss going to waste, the one hope of a loveless world, the clear next objective of the Church of the living God.

Before returning to the idea of the Dominance of Love, and a consideration of first steps towards it, let us go back to France, and watch the relations of the various communions there one to another after four years of war.

It is new and rather hard to describe. The first few months, when the Chaplains to the Forces of the various denominations arrived with their inherited home suspicions one of another, presented many difficulties that might have increased ill-feeling. An army regulation which allows the Church of England chaplain only to minister to Church of England men, and the Roman Catholic to Roman Catholic men, etc., reduced the chances of such conflict; and at the same time, the vastness and urgency of the work the chaplains had to do swallowed up all other thoughts. As a writer in The Church in the Furnace said, "We have heard with mingled irritation and amusement that good folk at home have been exercised because an undue proportion of men of this party or that have been sent out; the question out here is not 'To what party does he belong?' but 'Is he capable by character and life of influencing men for good, and winning them for God and His Church?'" Again, the extremely free use of the Prayer Book and of any and every sort of devotion, at any and every hour of day and night, has broken up all prejudiced rigidity of use. Methods that did not help were dropped; methods that helped men were welcome, from whatever source they came.

So arose a great harmony, a harmony of energy and experiment; and although in religious matters the Roman Catholics retained their aloofness, the drawing together of other denominations, as represented by their clergy, has been constant and perfectly natural and unsuspicious. United services have not been common; each denomination has confined itself loyally to its own men; what the statements in the Lower House of Convocation meant to the effect that the amount of intercommunion going on at the Front would shock members of that house, no chaplain has any idea. But the new, fresh, and delightful thing is, the absolute lack of feeling between, say, the Catholic Anglican and the Congregationalist. There are numerous occasions on which they must or can work together; on which they must or can do jobs for one another; and it has been decisively proved that the existing demarcation and rivalry in England is a false and needless thing; and that working together can be a real, unselfconscious and wholly profitable matter. Our English airs are poisoned by past history and old social cleavage: in France, the past is forgotten, and social barriers do not exist. It is a matter of atmosphere, and there it is clear and bracing. Nobody sacrifices conviction or principle, but they love one another.

I do not say there may not be individual misunderstandings and frictions now and then, but they are miraculously few. The normal temper is shewn by the numerous meetings for conference and devotion by the various chaplains. These are more easy to effect at the bases than in the line; but they take place everywhere. Typical is the conduct of a small base on the sea, where the eight chaplains or so meet regularly for devotion, and each is entrusted with a section of the proceedings each time. For instance, the American Episcopalian takes the Thanksgiving, the Presbyterian the Confession, the Wesleyan the Intercession, each of the others has found from the same chapter of, say, St Mark's Gospel, some "seed-thought" upon which he is allowed to dilate for four minutes. There is no constraint or self-consciousness in this gathering. Each is perfectly happy, and so is the whole.

It is not surprising that out of such an atmosphere and among such practices a powerful passion for unity has arisen, based on something far stronger than sentiment, and having in it some of the fire of revelation. It has not been sought; it has come; it has grown: nobody expected it. It came, naturally and delightfully. The fifth year of war will assuredly see some definite policy or action towards greater unity proceeding from France. The quiet, unhasty, resolved manner in which the Chaplains to the Forces in France are moving is in striking contrast to the hasty proposals and hasty actions threatening on the less prepared soil at home. Indeed in this last sentence I have touched upon the two actual terrors which the Church in France feels. First, that hasty and purely sectional action on unimaginative and traditional lines by the home-clergy will give the old party-feeling a new bitter lease of life, and by ruining unnecessarily the unity of the Church of England will destroy the hopes that are so fair of yet wider reunion. And second, that the local outlook of the lay-folk-in our villages especially perhaps-and local lines of cleavage, not having been subjected to the experience and discipline of France, will have the opposite effect, prevent things moving as fast as they ought, and throw away the fairest chance of buying up opportunity that ever was given to the Church of Christ. To these opposite dangers, I shall recur.

The Dominance of Love in the world! Let us see and absorb that big vision first, and its pathetic urgency: its summons to each body of Christians, and to every individual member of Christ. Acknowledge its necessity for the world, and therefore its immediate necessity for the Church of the God of Love.

And next, before considering practical steps, let us recall certain postulates and axioms, which in any attempt to realise so magnificent a vision must always be borne in mind, lest, in our human frailty and selfwill, we head straight for new misunderstandings and disasters[14].

1. The importance of unity is so great, and division has been found so calamitous, and the words of Christ ar

e so definite on the subject, that I think all would admit now that Division is only to be prolonged for causes that are backed by divine command. The larger Christian bodies are separated by convictions of great importance; but a severe and honest self-examination will probably lessen the number of differences which can justify the responsibility of so disastrous a thing as separation, and then we can set afoot conferences to deal with what remain. Human temperament, upbringing, tradition, human haste and pride have much to do with the birth, stabilising and continuance of division. A rare self-abnegation in our ecclesiastical history was the partial suicide of the Non-juring schism, and it has never been repeated; there were many great saints among the Nonjurors. If they could not take the oath of allegiance to William III, and therefore could not remain in the Church of England, the best of them recognised that their individual difficulty would not excuse them if they perpetuated themselves as a Church. In any junction of existing divisions, differing customs and methods of worship and organisation can be and should be safeguarded. That would only make the more for the health of the one Body. But, division itself is only to be prolonged for causes that are, or seem to be by conscience, backed by divine command, and the first step in all work for reunion will be the isolating of these causes from lesser things, and their careful and prayerful reconsideration.

A grand example of such process, of course, has been the Conference of the leaders of our English denominations, at the inspiration of the American Committee of Faith and Order, which during 1917 faced the question of Episcopacy. The findings of its "second interim report" are nothing less than a landmark in Church History. You remember that roughly it was this: that any corporate reunion can only come in the acceptance of the historical Episcopate; but that the conception and use of Episcopacy in the Church has been a limited one: there are many ways of regarding and using bishops besides the monarchical or "prelatical" way exemplified by the Church of England. This is a first proof that when truths, keenly felt and seemingly rival, are discussed in Conference spirit, the angularities that offend disappear; and wider, bigger truth comes into the possession of all. It will be so more and more. By faith we can already see that the labour of understanding unto reunion is bound to be an immense creative period in the Church of God.

2. Our second axiom sounds discouraging. Just this-that unity is, humanly speaking, impossible. Reunion means great changes of heart in great communions of men, and we all know how hard it is to effect change of heart even in the individual. We must not think that no price will have to be paid for so good a result, both by whole communions, and by the members composing them; and that the whole force of inherited prejudice, past history, and present wilfulness, ignorance, and sincere conviction will not arise in opposition. The difficulty even of approaching Rome illustrates vividly our task. The Unity of Christendom is a meaningless expression without that vast international Church, without her rich stores of devotion and experience, without her unbending witness to the first things of faith, worship and self-sacrifice. Here the "impossibility" is open and honest, but I do not know that the difficulties will be greater than those, less obvious as yet, between other denominations. Yet with God all things are possible. This is only the miracle which He has set the faith of modern Christians to perform.

3. Thirdly then, our rule must be, to hasten slowly. We are not dealing with matters susceptible of mere arrangement, but with convictions, which have deep roots in history, and cling passionately round the individual. Convictions can only be modified or changed gradually, by love and deeper spiritual learning. Bully or outrage a conviction, and you double its strength. That is why argument seldom does aught but harm. Argument is an attack upon another man's convictions, or semi-convictions, and inevitably fails to do anything but stiffen them. Inevitably therefore will hasty action by individuals or sections, for instance in the Church of England, for which other sections are not ready, throw these into suspicion and opposition. I speak of my own Communion and say deliberately, that if at the moment, either an individual, or a section-any section-of it goes galloping off, be its zeal and hope never so pure and splendid, on private roads, the whole desire for unity, and therefore the cause of unity, will be gravely damaged.

For the whole Church of England-I think that can be truly said-has now an unutterable desire for the joy of Unity; it is, further, convinced that action must be taken; but it is by no means convinced that certain actions-to take a concrete example, free interchange of pulpits with Nonconformists-are as yet either helpful or right. If one part adopt such a policy, hostilely and sectionally, it will simply throw others into convinced opposition and retard the whole desire for decades. Questions of deepest implication cannot be settled in haste. Before approaching at all, we must find the right methods of approach. Quite rightly, the American "World Conference for the consideration of questions touching Faith and Order," paid, from the start, the utmost, an uniquely scientific, attention to right method; their patience has been lightning-swift in result. It did not even go so far as to say, "We will confer, that is the right method"; it said, "We will learn how to confer." It was a new and by no means easy exercise, but it has been learned, and the English Conference mentioned above, "the landmark," arose by its inspiration and worked by its methods.

A wrong method of approach is equally well illustrated by the gathering of Evangelical clergy at Cheltenham[15] early in the Spring. They discussed to some purpose, and at the end of a few days had drawn out a series of some dozen articles of principle and action. Some were unexceptionable, others went beyond what either the Bishops or other sections of the Church are yet ready to do. Such sectional action simply heads for disaster and vexation. And it is so foolish, so great and difficult an end being in view. Why should any sections of the Church meet or deal at all on this matter, except to put their views humbly at the disposal of their brethren in the Church? This matter concerns the whole Church; any action is futile which does not carry the whole Church with it, and the whole Church is keen and anxious enough over the problem to be able to agree upon methods and policies which combine depth, wisdom, patience, and order. We have seen how titanic the labour is; impatience will help nothing; here if anywhere is needed the love that is patient, and ready for the travail of waiting and praying.

The cry of generous souls of course is "Something must be done." Of course it must; but let anybody consider what sheer miracles of changed convictions on Unity have been "done" within ten, and even five years. Better than any such immediate action which would certainly cause division, is the enlarging of the scope and sphere of this miracle, so that the friendly conditions of France are naturally reproduced in England.

With these precautions, then, let us see what can be done with universal consent.

(a) The first thing is to turn the intellectual opinion that Christian division is wrong, and unity necessary, into a general passion. That is to say, we want to develop among us the motive of love. We all talk about love glibly, and about brotherhood and a new world, with very little sense of what these terms involve in the individual life. I am sure that we hardly know yet what love means nor what it exacts, nor guess into how many provinces of ordinary life it can and ought to operate; how many heritages of past history it must be allowed to wipe out, how many preconceived notions it must dissipate; into how many social, commercial, municipal, political relations it must begin to permeate. It was for this reason that an article which I wrote when in billets near Arras for the Church Quarterly Review suggested a new National Mission of Love in the Church of England. For the space of a month or more the one subject dealt with by preachers and teachers throughout the Communion would be Love, in all its bearings, and with special reference to religious differences and their healing. I believe that this would be a splendid way of making the passion for new love and wider brotherhood general, an act of pure religion of highest importance both to our Christianity and national life, and sure of blessing by God. It would assure our Nonconformist brothers that we mean business, and mean it deeply. Perhaps they would follow suit in their own congregations.

It is the more important, because there is a danger of the leaders and clergy of communions rushing ahead of the rank and file. Naturally they see the vast issues most clearly; the congregation sees more easily its own needs and habits of worship, and inclines to shut out of mind the needs and interests of the Church as a whole. A National Mission of Love, dealing with all history, the larger duties of the present, and future hopes, would help to correct this, and give a single mind to the whole body.

(b) Then, in order that the Church of England may go forward as one whole, without the risk of sectional exasperation, it does seem to me an urgent necessity that-I do hope it is not a presumptuous suggestion-the Archbishops appoint a Council of Unity; to thrash out the whole subject, and decide on definite steps of action, both within and without the Church.

My vision sees it thus. A small Council of, say, five Bishops, and a dozen other members. These dozen to be nominated, not elected, and to consist of the leading and trusted men of each "party" with at least two of our greatest scholars. It must be small, so that it may truly "confer"-not drop into controversy-and meet regularly. It should issue definite advice and suggestion, all of which would be unanimous, upon which the whole Church could act, and act immediately. I am sure that the amount of unanimity would be surprising, and the advice bold. Perhaps the Archbishops and Bishops in accepting and issuing such reports would require them to be read in every pulpit in the land, so that the whole Communion understand what is going on, and each congregation be spurred to do its part in its own locality.

The mere appointment of such a Council would be a notable step towards unity and place the whole matter on, so to speak, a scientific footing. The Church of England would then be wisely and consistently ordered to the one end, and be thinking and acting as itself an unity; the danger of sectional action would be reduced to a minimum, and the mutual confidence of the sections be assured. Indeed it would be a hard blow to the bad party licence too common hitherto amongst us. Further, the Nonconformist communions would have a definite organ to approach on all subjects making for friendliness, cooperation, and conference, and sufficient certainty that the Church of England desired the peace of Jerusalem very earnestly indeed.

(c) There are a number of issues on which all communions could begin at once to work together. There is a real chance of abolishing war, and establishing a more or less universal peace. The idea of the League of Nations gains ground. Bishop Gore is already summoning the support and labour of the Church to it. Here serious united effort of all Christian bodies, of Europe and America, is obviously fitting and might be decisive.

There are the hundred social problems confronting us. The very working together upon these would be as valuable as the large amount of work that so easily might be done.

Education! Word of lamentable memories. The present Bill, which all Christian bodies have urged on, left in despair the vital question of religious teaching until the Churches can agree upon it among themselves. With all the lessons of the war, both to the appalling need of such teaching, and of the necessity of bigger thinking, can they not do it now? Here is a critical field for cooperation and self-suppression. Only let the younger men be put to the task. The elder will be the first to admit that long controversy and deepening opposition have unfitted them for sincere agreement. The younger men are fresh, and start with an eagerness to find the way out.

(d) Cooperation in these great matters will not only promote unity, but display already the men of Christ as one before the world. But it is not enough. How about cooperation in directly religious work and worship? "The visible unity of the Body of Christ is not adequately expressed in the cooperation for moral influence and social service, though such cooperation might with advantage be carried much further than it is at present; it could only be fully realised through community of worship, faith and order, including common participation in the Lord's Supper[16]."

Here let us once more and finally insist that the all-important thing is the development of the desire for Unity even in the most local, or uneducated, or out-of-the-way congregations. Most of the clergy now are revolutionaries for better, bigger things; but, frankly, we fear the lay people who hate change, and desire things to remain as they are-in church and out of it. That is why I should so like my imagined Council to set going my imagined National Mission of Love. But much can be done besides. Those who seek unity will be labouring fruitfully for it, if they simply devote themselves to developing social and Christian friendship between Churchmen and Nonconformists in town and village. There might well be an enormous growth of meetings, both of clergy and laity of different denominations, for conference, devotion, even retreat. We want more than one "Swanwick." Can we not go further, and draw together by experimenting with each other's devotions or organisations of proved value? For instance, I wonder if it is suggesting too much, to suggest that if Nonconformists appropriated with vigour our Christian year, they would be sharers with us of a devotional joy and help, which would certainly promote spiritual sympathy. In the same way, the Church of England has been crying out for some method of using the spiritual gifts of her laymen in church. Why not borrow notions from those who know how to do it?

These are but scrappy examples of ways by which right spirit can be developed within the single communion, or between separated bodies. The right spirit won, the whole battle is won.

Naturally there are many who desire already to go much further and faster. Intercommunion, our goal, is of course impossible at this stage owing to seriously differing convictions on faith and order; and the plain fact that it would cause more cleavage than it healed. But how about interchange of pulpits? The Evangelicals at Cheltenham demanded this as a regular practice. The rest of the Church feels strongly that the time for this has not arrived yet; that haphazard invitations by individual vicars to ministers of convictions widely different are undesirable. The time has come for conference, but not yet for any facile overpassing of the facts and reasons for historical separations. Nor do we want to run the risks of indiscipline and disorderliness resulting from such individual action. The Church of England can only be of help to the cause of unity where she acts as a whole. Matters such as interchange of pulpits should be tackled by our suggested Council of Unity. A suggestion in the Challenge of July 19 might well be favourably considered by it. There are Nonconformists of acknowledged eminence, learning, and inspiration, from whose books the Church of England already has received much. We should all be glad to receive likewise from their lips. If a selected number were officially invited by the Church to prophesy in our midst, an immense and religiously fruitful step would have been taken, in perfect order. The plan might well be reciprocal.

The same leading article proposed that ministers of other denominations should be asked by such congregations as wished, to come and explain to them frankly their standpoints of doctrine and order. I am sure that all communions might be, and now should be, more brave in explaining themselves to each other. The gain in preventing misunderstanding and destroying suspicion and unfriendliness would be great, and I can see no loss anywhere about such a proceeding.

Have you read the story of the Woolwich Crusade, published by the S.P.C.K. (1s. 3d.)? The Crusade movement and method is a new thing. Its idea is not that of a mission-to increase or improve the membership of a particular denomination, but to bring God and the meaning of Christ into the life and problems of to-day. It is doing the same sort of work which chaplains in France do, among the munitioners, artisans, and labour world at home. Perhaps our Nonconformist brethren could join us here. The difficulties would, I think, merely be those of organisation.

Thanks to the College system, and to the Student Christian movement, Churchmen and Nonconformists are as friendly in this University as they are in France; and joint devotion is usual. We have a great responsibility here amid the young and the enthusiastic, and good feeling is both easier to achieve, and more widespread in result, at a University than anywhere else. Well, we are awake to our chances, and will do our best.

(e) This leaves but one more subject to touch on: the old, hard, question of Church order, and the orders of ministry. But all looks in the best sense hopeful here, very hopeful, since the striking report signed by the thirteen members of the sub-committee appointed by the Archbishops' Committee, and by representatives of the English Free Churches' Commissions. Let me quote it.

Looking as frankly and as widely as possible at the whole situation, we desire with a due sense of responsibility to submit for the serious consideration of all the parts of a divided Christendom what seem to us the necessary conditions of any possibility of reunion: That continuity with the historic Episcopate should be effectively preserved. That, in order that the rights and responsibilities of the whole Christian community in the government of the Church may be adequately recognised, the Episcopate should reassume a constitutional form both as regards the method of the election of the Bishop as by clergy and people, and the method of government after election.... The acceptance of the fact of Episcopacy and not any theory as to its character should be all that is asked for.... It would no doubt be necessary before any arrangement for corporate reunion could be made to discuss the exact functions which it may be agreed to recognise as belonging to the Episcopate, but we think this can be left to the future.

The acceptance of Episcopacy on these terms should not involve any Christian community in the necessity of disowning its past, but should enable all to maintain the continuity of their witness and influence as heirs and trustees of types of Christian thought, life, and order, not only of value to themselves, but of value to the Church as a whole....

It would be difficult to imagine a wiser, braver, or happier statement than this in the whole history of the Church. A landmark indeed! The Chaplains to the Forces in France almost shouted for joy. At one stroke, the first and greatest incompatibility of conviction has been cleared out of the way. Perhaps that is too strong-or prophetic-a way of putting it. Let us say rather, that at least the question of Episcopacy and Church order has been raised to a new plane, where all can discuss it, and think it out, not only peaceably, but with good hope of new wealth of conception and polity pouring into the old, rigid, bitter, rival views of church government. In France I corresponded with a Wesleyan chaplain on the subject of orders and ordination. He wrote a careful letter affirming the historic Nonconformist position about ministry. But, he ended, it would all be changed, if re-ordination could be presented and accepted as a great outward "Sacrament of Love" which reunited us. That is more than the Church of England has ever asked, for she regards ordination as a Sacrament of Order merely, not of Spiritual Love. But let us gladly put the higher value upon it. And the day will surely come, unless goodhearted Christians settle down to accept the intolerable burden of permanent separation in communion and worship, when this Sacrament of Love be celebrated, and the Church of England ordains the Free Church ministry, and the Free Churches commission us, to work each and all in the flocks that have been made one Fold.


[14] In the paragraphs which follow, I owe much to the Bishop of Zanzibar's The Fulness of Christ, perhaps the deepest and ablest of all the numerous Anglican books on Reunion.

[15] It is fair to state that after this lecture was delivered, I received a note from one who had been at Cheltenham, saying that my references to it gave an inaccurate impression; and that the findings were only "an expression of opinion." To those, however, who read the published account of the meeting, whether in the Record or Guardian, much more seemed to be intended.

[16] Quoted from the Second Interim Report of the Archbishops' Committee and the representatives of the Free Church Commissions.

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