The Congress and Restoring the Anglican Mind
By Canon Arthur Middleton
A requested Keynote address for the Congress. It comes with my apologies for not being able to attend because of family holidays and my thanks to Bishop Keith for volunteering to read it on my behalf. You will all be with me in my thoughts and prayers for God’s blessing on the Congress and for your part in the restoration of the Anglican mind that under God will renew and reunite the Anglican Communion.
C of E’s changes God’s plan
The Church of England’s General Synod celebrations after the vote for women bishops indicated that the members had not realised how the vote signalled the death of the Church of England, becoming what Richard Hooker would describe as a sect of politically correct ideology. Fundamental in this Anglican Communion Crisis is the emergence of two incompatible and competing religions within the Church, that are not mere differences of “emphasis” but profound differences about the content of Christian belief and the character of Christian life. They express themselves in the authority of experience, over against the authority of Divine revelation that is the basis of Christian orthodoxy.
For the orthodox Christian “Truth” (with a capital “T”) has been definitively revealed in Holy Scripture, and authoritatively interpreted in the Christian Tradition. The Christian’s response is in terms of belief, understanding, and obedience. “Relevance” then becomes a matter of seeking to apply established doctrinal and moral standards to the situation in which he finds himself. He sees his church as divinely commissioned in faith and order to maintain the faith “once for all delivered to the saints”, with the responsibility of maintaining those standards essentially unchanged from one age to another. The issue of women in the Apostolic Ministry is fundamentally a matter of order and not of human rights, which is not surprising, when we speak about the Apostolic Ministry as Holy Orders. As the Preface to our Anglican Ordinal puts it:
It is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient Authors that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Book of Common Prayer (Canada, 1959), p. 637.
Their divine source and authority is God to whom they belong and not men which explains why these ancient Orders are called holy, because they were given by God and because they were not devised by humans. Our Prayer-book Collect for Ember days which is a prayer for Ordinands acknowledges this in praying to God, who of His “divine providence hast appointed divers Orders” in His Church.’
Richard Hooker (c. 1554-1600), Anglican theologian par excellence, wrote: “The ministry of things divine is a function which as God did himself institute. …” Those in Holy Orders, he says, are “ministers of God as from whom their authority is derived, and not from men.” Hooker’s regard for the ministry is immeasurable:
The power of the Ministry of God translated out of darkness into glory; it raiseth men from the earth, and bringeth God himself down from heaven; by blessing visible elements it maketh them invisible grace; it giveth daily the Holy Ghost. . . . (Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, V.77.1)
Hooker says that in the light of “so great power,” we cannot “imagine that any but God can bestow it!” Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), another classical Anglican theologian, expresses similar respect for the divine grace of ordination: “The thing is sacred, separate, solemn, deliberate, derivative from God, and not of human provision, or authority, or pretence, or disposition.” (Jeremy Taylor, Of the Office Ministerial, 7.19). Holy Orders, which are “not from men,” are of God’s own plan and making. The blueprint and copyright of Orders are clearly His, and they are found in God’s own revelation of Himself, in Holy Scripture.
The process that has promoted women in the apostolic ministry is a management exercise determined by politically correct ideology and not theological principle and it reduces Holy Order to a functionalism, alters God’s plan for Holy Order and ignores our paramount duty to the universal Church. In England the appointment of a Reconciler is part of the management method which according to the ACAS style of settling Trade Union disputes, is to reconcile differing views. But this issue is not about human relations. It is about deeply held theological convictions that are diametrically opposed to the politically correct ideology. There can be no reconciliation.
The vote signifies that the Church of England and where this has happened in elsewhere in other provinces of the Anglican Communion, Anglicanism is not being true to her Anglican mind. She has rejected the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, the historic episcopate, and in other matters of fundamental doctrine and morals this can happen again. She has ignored her own Formularies expressed in Canon A5 of the English Church, the BCP and the Ordinal where Apostolic Order is therein enshrined. She has ignored her membership of the universal Church and has been in a process of creeping schism from it for years. The ecumenical achievements of the past century, including ARCIC, have been destroyed for there has been a total disregard for Christian unity and an unwillingness to take seriously the warnings of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. So what is the point of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words to his ecumenical partners stressing the fact that we need each other and the importance of unity, after an action that has placed an insuperable obstacle in the way of full Communion. Actions speak louder than words.
Professor Owen Chadwick wrote of Anglican divines in the seventeenth century (Preface, From Unifomity to Unity 1662-1962, edit, Geoffrey F. Nuttall and Owen Chadwick [SPCK, London 1962], pp. 13ff), ‘… if High Churchmen of that age like Bramhall or Thorndike had been asked what led them not to compromise, they would have replied in terms like the following:
Our paramount duty is to the Catholic Church; our sub¬ordinate and derivative duty is to the Church of England as the representative of the Catholic Church in this country. The Catholic Church is known by its faithfulness to the primi¬tive model. The Church of England has no choice but to follow that model, must seek to apply the principle rigorously and exactly.
“I am satisfied”, wrote Thorndike in 1660,” that the differences, upon which we are divided, cannot be justly settled upon any terms, which any part of the Whole Church shall have just cause to refuse, as inconsistent with the unity of the Whole Church (“The Due Way of composing Differences on Foot,” Works, vol. v. p. 29)
Chadwick went on to say that any act which divides the Church of England from the universal Church of the centuries is to be eschewed, even if that act offers temporary or local advantage; and the test of universality, in this sad, divided state of Christendom, may be found in appeal to the ancient and undivided Church of the first centuries.
It has always been the Anglican claim that in faith and order the Anglican Communion is continuous in identity with the Primitive Church. The principle was set forth by Bishop Jewel, one of the earliest Anglican apologists in the sixteenth century, when he wrote, “We are come, as near as we possibly could, to the Church of the apostles and of the old catholic bishops and fathers”.(Defence of the Apology 1567, Works (Parker Society), Pt III, p. 100] McAdoo, Being an Anglican, P. 10 )
More than that, Anglicans have continuously insisted that the Primitive Church of the undivided centuries is a doctrinal model. “We are willing to own this for a true mark of the Church”, wrote William Payne “its agreeing with the doctrine of the Primitive Church.” (cited by More and Cross in Anglicanism, (SPCK 1951), p. 140). As McAdoo (ibid p. 11) points out that in its Constitution “The Church of Ireland doth, as heretofore, accept and unfeignedly believe all the Canonical Scrip¬tures of the Old and New Testament, as given by inspira¬tion of God, and containing all things necessary to Salvation; and doth continue to profess the faith of Christ as professed by the Primitive Church.” The principle was again underlined in the Preface to the Irish revision of the Book of Common Prayer in 1878: “All men . . . professed their love and reverence for the Book of Common Prayer in its main substance and chief parts, and confessed that it contained the true doctrine of Christ, and a pure manner and order of Divine Service, according to the Holy Scriptures and the practice of the Primitive Church.” He sees this as the attitude to the basic concept formulated, for example, in Jude 3: “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” and is expressed in the Church of England’s Canon A5. This is forma¬tive for the Anglican ethos and it means that the content of faith cannot be changed by addition or omission, though each generation needs to develop into a deeper understanding of it and to express it in the idiom of its own time. The faith does not grow but the members of the Church grow into it according to the measure and capacity of man’s developing self-understanding and comprehension of his world.
Does this preclude any developments?
Michael Ramsey, in The Gospel and the Catholic Church, posed this question. “In the Church of the New Testament we find Baptism, Eucharist, Apostles. In the subsequent centuries we find Baptism, Eucharist, the Bishops, the Bible, Creeds. In what sense do these marks of the Church declare or obscure the Gospel of God?” (P. 64). He then goes on to show that the form of the ministry, of the canon of Scripture and of the Creeds work interdependently towards a two-fold continuing objective. That objective is to maintain the Church in the truth of the faith once for all delivered and to help members of the Church to express the fullness of member¬ship in and for the world. Ramsey then leads straight into what might be called a first distinguishing feature of Anglicanism as he relates the Anglican stress on the once-for-all character of the Gospel to the question of developments:
Developments then took place, but they were all tested. The tests of a true development are whether it bears witness to the Gospel, whether it expresses the general consciousness of the Christians, and whether it serves the organic unity of the Body in all its parts. These tests are summed up in the scriptures, wherein the historical gospel and the experience of the redeemed and the nature of the one Body are described. Hence, while the Canon of Scripture is in itself a development, it has a special authority to control and to check the whole field of development in life and doctrine. Judged by these tests and by Scripture which sums them up, the marks of the Church which we have just described are abundantly vindicated . . . .
There is thus raised at once the matter of Scripture being the standard and test of the truth of faith and this, as the Preamble and Preface already quoted indicate, is one of the essential aspects of the Anglican Communion’s understanding of the faith. But to recapitulate, there is then no distinctively Anglican faith as such but rather the explicit claim of adherence to nothing but “the faith once for all delivered”. This is what we mean by the Anglican mind. What this means is that there are no distinctively Anglican beliefs, but only the Christian faith as lived, proclaimed and taught by Anglicans. It was an attempt to set out factually a vital principle which has impelled Anglicanism to assert unequivocally its continuity of adherence to the unchanging faith: “keep safe that which has been entrusted to you” (1. Tim. 6:20); “keep before you an outline of the sound teaching which you heard” (2 Tim. 1:13).
It has always been the Anglican claim that in faith and order the Anglican Communion is continuous in identity with the Primitive Church. It is no new Church. Today’s contest is between modern liberal ecclesiology and the Anglican mind in a time when the majority of people in the Church and the nation have been brainwashed by the secular mind, which they use to displace the claims of the Anglican mind. It is the presuppositions of this secular mind and its politically correct ideology that is determining the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion that must be displaced. This is not a matter of politics but a matter of faith and theology. Like the divines of the seventeenth century the way forward is by pursuing the Anglican way back to prescriptive sources by upholding Canon A5 which states that the doctrine of the Anglicanism is grounded in the Holy Scripture and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.
The Anglican mind asserts the conception of the Church as inherited, founded by the Lord Himself, perpetuated by direct succession from the Apostles, one in continuous history and in doctrine with the Primitive Church, filled with a supernatural and sacramental life, witnessing to a high moral standard before the world. Our aim must be to assert the reality of the Church as a spiritual body perpetuated by the Apostolic Succession recognising that we have received our Church from the Apostles and so work for the reinstatement of discipline and doctrine in the prevailing secularization and dysfunctioning of the Anglican Communion. Such a conception of the Church assumes certain truths and facts; that our Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal SON of GOD, very GOD of very GOD; that He became incarnate for us men and for our salvation; that He died for our sins and rose for our justification; that He founded the Church to be the sphere in which His gifts of knowledge and grace might be received; and that the New Testament is a dependable source of Christian truth.
The redemption of mankind was accomplished by our Lord when in the Ascension He presented to the Father His finished work. But the results of that work had yet to be developed and applied. As the Ascension followed on from the death and resurrection, so also the Ascension itself led to the descent of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, the third Person in the Holy Trinity, who had always since the creation had His work on earth, was now sent by God the Son from God the Father in a new manner and with new operations. The people of God, who in Old Testament times had received God’s special vocation, and had been in special fashion the instrument of His will, was now to be filled with new power. The little remnant of the chosen race, which had been faithful in the supreme crisis of their vocation, and had accepted our Lord as the Messiah, and had become His disciples, inherited the promises to the race, and was made to be the Christian Church, and filled with the Holy Ghost. For Hooker, the grace of the sacraments is the last link in a series whose terminus is the participation of the worshipper in the life of God.
The Church thus formed was the instrument of God. It had its divinely appointed work of teaching and hallowing those who through its missionary efforts should become Christians. As the teacher of truth and the home of grace, it was, in the power of the Holy Ghost, to make the gifts of God through the Incarnation effective in human lives. On its outward side, it was a company of men and women and children united in a fellowship of life and prayer which was sustained by the teaching of the apostles and by sacramental grace. In its inward being, it was the bride and body of Christ, the shrine of the Holy Ghost, the family of God. As time went on and the Church grew, its limits were clearly seen. The members of the Church were those who believed the orthodox faith, who had been baptized into the body of Christ, and who continued in communion with the episcopal ministry which had descended from the apostles.
The Church is the teacher of truth. The method of its teaching may take different forms. There is the promulgation of Holy Scripture. There are the decisions of Councils. There are the utterances of accredited teachers. There are the necessary inferences from worship. In each case what is important is how far that which is taught is the right and permanent expression of the Church’s mind, which in our case is the Anglican mind.
Promulgating Holy Scripture
Here the Anglican Communion has given Holy Scripture a very distinctive place. Phrases such as that Holy Scripture is the word of God, or that God is the author of Holy Scripture, or that through Holy Scripture the Holy Ghost spoke, have been frequently used, and have been accepted with a greater or less degree of authority. The written word of God has often been compared with the personal Word of God in such a way as to suggest some correspondence between the revelation in Holy Scripture and the revelation in the Incarnation. With these expressions a pronounced view of the authority of Holy Scripture has been associated for a long period of time and by very many teachers. Such a view of Holy Scripture was the most usual way of regarding it in the early Church.
I maintain that the needed identification of the Christ whom I meet to-day with the Christ of whom I read in the Gospels is provided by the Church, Christ’s body, as the concrete extension through the centuries of the human nature which the Son of God assumed at his incarnation, in which he performed his recon¬ciling and salvifk acts, and into which he has incorporated multitudes of men and women from then until now. And it is from this body that I receive the accounts of his visible earthly acts in the Gospel writings. (E. L. Mascall, Theology and History, An Inaugural Lecture as Professor of Historical Theology in the University of London, Faith Press 1962] p. 13)
He goes on to say that the New Testament must, then, be understood as the Church’s articulation, in its earliest days, of its experience of the Lord whose Body it knew itself to be, an experience of no merely subjective and psychological kind but one which was rooted in the incorporation of its members into the human nature of the Lord who had died and risen again and whose teaching had burnt itself unforgettably into the minds of his hearers.
The Church’s thought, and therefore its theology, must thus be grounded on the New Testament, though not on the New Testament conceived as an external authority standing over against the Church and outside it. What makes the New Testament authoritative and norma¬tive for the Church’s life, what makes it the standard by which develop¬ments are to be judged and divagations corrected, is precisely the fact that it is the voice of Christ’s mystical Body—we might even say, the voice of Christ speaking through the lips of his mystical Body—speak¬ing in the days when it was closest to those salvific acts by which it was created and endowed with the Spirit. The sacred Scriptures are thus part, and indeed the normative part, of the tradition, the paradosis, which in every age the Body of Christ communicates to its members. (Mascall, ibid )
Anglican theological method has from its beginning always included as integral a concern for church history and the ‘proper’ historical setting or context of the Bible: that is, the living apostolic community, the catholic Church of the Fathers, which ensures authoritatively, normatively, and critically, the historic continuity of the apostolic community and her apostolic faith and praxis. This ecclesial dimension, the patristic and catholic ekklesiastikon phronema, was appropriated by Anglicanism and made the basis of Christian living, the context of Christian thinking. Ecclesiastical understanding does not attempt to add anything to Scripture, but to ascertain and to disclose fully the true meaning of Scripture. As Hanson put it, ‘The life of Christianity depends upon the Church dancing with the Bible, and the Bible with the Church. The Church may indeed be lost without the Bible, but the Bible without the Church is dead, a collection of ancient documents and no more’. (R. P. C. Hanson, The Bible as a Norm of Faith, An Inaugural Lecture as Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the University of Durham Titus Wilson and Son, Kendal 1963), p. 11.) The Jesuit theologian Fr George Tavard claimed that, in making Scripture the self-evident basis of Anglicanism but alongside Tradition as mutually inclusive, a consistency with the patristic mind is maintained.
The Anglican Church … tried to maintain the Catholic notion of perfect union between Church and Scripture. The statement of Johann Gropper, that the Church’s authority is not distinct from that of Scripture, but rather that they are one, corresponds to the Anglican view of the Early Church, as it corresponds to the catholic conception of the Church at all times.(George Tavard SJ, Holy Wit or Holy Church, (Burns Oates, London 1959) p. 245)
Tavard pointed out that most theologians of the Counter-Reformation separated Scripture and Tradition, at different times making one or the other a partial source of faith. He added that ‘In both cases the theology of the catholic eras, patristic and medieval, was better represented by the Anglican view than by many Catholic writers in the Counter-Reformation period.’ (Tavard, Ibid)
This ecclesial context of Anglican divinity understands the Church as bearing witness to the truth not merely from written documents, but from its own living, unceasing experience, from its catholic fullness. This has its roots in continuity with the primitive church, where the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church are mutually interrelated. It is in this person and in this mind that the historic tradition has its power and beginning and where the mind of the Church is established. This is what constitutes that ‘tradition of truth’ in which, as Florovsky reminds us ‘the apostolic teaching is not so much an unchangeable example to be repeated or imitated as an eternally living and inexhaustible source of life and inspiration. Tradition is the constant abiding Spirit, not only the memory of words’. It is, therefore, a charismatic not a historical principle, but together with Scripture contains the truth of divine revelation, a truth that lives in the Church.
This experience of the Church has not been exhausted either in Scripture or Tradition; it is only reflected in them. Therefore only within the Church does Scripture live and become vivified, only within the Church is it revealed as a whole and not broken up into separate texts, commandments and aphorisms. This means that Scripture has been given in tradition, but not in the sense that it can be understood only according to the dictates of tradition, or that it is the written record of historical tradition or oral teaching. Scripture needs to be explained. It is revealed in theology. This is possible only through the medium of the living experience of the Church.(Georges Florovsky, Bibile, Church, Tradition, ,an Eastern Orthodox View ( Nordland, Massachusetts, 1972), pp 47-48)
This is the ekklesiastikon phronema, the ecclesiastical mind, and it has been one of the outstanding characteristics of the Anglican Church in all the principal periods of its life, and is what distinguished it from Continental Protestantism. It reveals that the Anglican Communion is no new church.
The Catholic appeal to authority is partly to the past. It looks back to Holy Scripture, to the doctrinal statements in which the Church has drawn out the meaning of Holy Scripture and which have been accepted as Creeds, to the conciliar decisions which have been authoritatively imposed as binding on the whole Church, to the common teaching of representative divines. The Catholic may not reject anything to which he believes that the Church as a whole is really committed, anything which the whole Church has made part of its permanent life. It may often be a difficult task to determine exactly how far the authority of the Church has gone, whether the decision of an accepted oecumenical council has been so completely a matter of principle that it may not be altered or has been so entirely a detail of only temporary importance that it may well be changed, whether, for instance, any utterance is to be ranked with the affirmation of our Lord’s deity at the Council of Nicaea or with the prohibition of kneeling during Eastertide by the same council, whether the concurrent teaching of divines through a long period of time indicates an actual acceptance of the teaching by the Church itself. But, whenever it can be determined that there has been a decision to which the Church as a whole is permanently committed, the acceptance of that decision is obligatory.
But, besides the appeal to the past, there is also an appeal to the future. The Catholic of necessity looks back to the past; for in the past is the tradition which sustains his belief. But of necessity also he looks forward to the future, to the re-united Church which is to be, and he sees that the past will find its full significance in the development which yet has to come. For the Church’s life is greater than that of any one century, or of any particular series of centuries; it is for all time.
Answering for The Faith
To repeat, the Anglican Communion is not new Church. But if politically correct ideology is allowed to prevail it will recreate Anglicanism into a new Church, a new religion, which will not be Christianity nor the Catholic Faith as understood by the Anglican Communion. How best can I help? There are ways of serving the Church which are suited to every temperament.
The present time, with its attendant shadow of future events, demands that Christians everywhere should strengthen their spiritual loyalties and give of their best. This is not so much an age of unbelief as of wrong belief. There are many claimants for human personality to-day, many “isms” and “ologies” which offer themselves as the only way to peace, contentment and security. The pressure of events has brought about a new desire to think out afresh the Implications of the Catholic Faith, the Christian religion in most parts of the world There is a need for a theological revival, which endeavours to apply to world affairs the great central Christian beliefs concerning (God, man and the God-man, Christ Jesus). The Catholic Faith is not an escape-pit for those who would turn aside to escape the pressing problems of life. Rathcr does it assert certain facts which can alone form a basis of any successful world order.
But such revival must begin in the heart before the head, we must still face the urgent need of understanding our religion that we may be able to give an answer concerning the faith that is in ns. Only personal religion can explain the Christian faith to ourselves and enable us to explain it to others. But explain it and present it if its claims are true we must.
As a parish priest I was asked to rescue a man’s daughter and her family from the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What impressed me was the number of books they had collected to inform themselves about Watchtower religion. As Anglicans they had never read any books to my knowledge. Yet that is where laypeople can begin to equip themselves with reading about what the Catholic Faith is, in their own homes and in the formation of Oratories where prayer and discussion can further inform the heart and mind. Perhaps a follow-up from this Congress might be the compiling of a suitable reading list with the help of the Parish Press, of books by such authors as E. L. Mascall’s Death or Dogma? showing the implication of Christian doctrine .about God and man for society. Books by C. S. I.ewis, on Christian belief and behaviour. Explanations of the Catholic Faith in G. D. Carleton’s The King’s Highway or Vernon Staley’s The Catholic Religion, to mention a few.
Let the resolution of the Congress be in the restoration of the Anglican Mind
• To pursue the Anglican Way by upholding Canon A5 which states that the doctrine of the Anglican Communion is grounded in the Holy Scripture a divine inheritance and conveying life through its Sacraments—this as against the innovations of the liberals reflected in the pervasive humanism and apostasy in the Church and sometimes supported by politicians and the judges who use Equality Law to discriminate against orthodox Christians and persecute them.
• To assert the authoritative doctrinal character of our Anglican formularies as against the liberalism so often evident in the deliberations of the Synods.
• To recall Anglicans to the revival of neglected truth and ‘principles of action which had been in the minds of our predecessors of the seventeenth century.’ As the Oxford Fathers urged ‘Stir up the gift of God that is in you.’
• To uphold and elucidate the doctrines of the Catholic Faith as Anglicans have received them and to work for the expression of such doctrine by the avoidance of the dumbing down effect of the language of ‘political-correctness’ in liturgy and biblical translations.
• To resist today’s new insidious Erastianism, the interference of the Government in the affairs of the Church, whereby a government can dictate to the Church what its doctrine and morality should be as a result of various types of discriminatory law.
• To work for the unity in truth and holiness of all Christians and as Anglicans to bring our own characteristic contribution as our fathers have taught us, according to the Apostolic Doctrine and Polity of our Church.
• To bring recognition to the reality that the way of salvation is the partaking of the Body and Blood of our sacrificed Redeemer by means of the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and. that the security for the due application of this is the Apostolic Commission. We cannot and do not accept therefore the innovation of women priests and women bishops since sacraments are from God and we cannot tamper with them. The sacraments must never be humanly manipulated on the basis of the politico-sociological arguments of the times and so-called ‘human rights’.
• To be on our watch for all opportunities of inculcating a due sense of this inestimable privilege; to provide and circulate information, to familiarize the imaginations of people with the idea; to attempt to revive among Churchmen the practice of daily common prayer and the more frequent participation in the Eucharist.
In the spirit of John Henry Newman, the aim is not the seeking of our own well-being, or originality, or some new invention for the Church. Let our prayer be that God will give us sound judgement, patient thought, discrimination, a comprehensive mind, and abstinence from all private fancies and caprices and personal tastes. Let us seek only the standards of saintliness and service as the measure of our activities.
Let the secret for us lie in those words of Our Lord’s High Priestly prayer, ‘ For their sakes I consecrate myself,’ so uniting his humanity with God in the way of holiness that he may capture the reality of that life within the Blessed Trinity and be inspirated by the divine life he lives with Christ in the Holy Spirit. For it is only as we make our home in Him, as he made his home in the Father that we will be able to do anything.
There is the ultimate secret of power; the one sure way of doing good in our generation. We cannot anticipate or analyse the power of a pure and holy life; but there can be no doubt about its reality, and there seems no limit to its range. We can only know in part the laws and forces of the spiritual world; and it may be that every soul that is purified and given up to God and to His work releases or awakens energies of which we have no suspicion – energies viewless as the wind; but we can be sure of the result, and we may have glimpses sometimes of the process.
Surely, there is no power in the world so unerring or so irrepressible as the power of personal holiness. All else at times goes wrong, blunders, loses proportion, falls disastrously short of its aim, grows stiff or one-sided, or out of date – ‘whether there be prophesies they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away’; but nothing mars or misleads the influence that issues from a pure and humble and unselfish character.
A man’s gifts may lack opportunity, his efforts may be misunderstood and resisted; but the spiritual power of a consecrated will need no opportunity, and can enter where the doors are shut. By no fault of a man’s own, his gifts may suggest to some the thoughts of criticism, comparison, competition; his self-consecration can do no harm in this way. Of gifts, some are best for long distances, some for objects close at hand or in direct contact; but personal holiness, determining, refining, characterising everything that a man says or does, will tell alike on those he may not know even by name, and on those who see him in the constant intimacy of his home.” (Francis Paget, “The Hallowing of Work”, pp. 16ff, cited in The Personal Life of the Clergy, A. W. Robinson (Longmans Green and Co. : London, 1902), pp. 17-18.