A more noble sense of obligation

Daily Reading for March 26 • James DeKoven, Priest, 1879 (transferred from March 22)

And so I assert that there are no less than six ways in which a man can believe in Eucharistic adoration—two of them which are not held in our Church at all, one of them which no logical mind can possibly hold, and the other three of which, I firmly believe, include in some one of their forms ninety-nine one-hundredths of the churchmen of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; and therefore I assert that when a man says he does not believe in Eucharistic adoration, or asserts that it is tolerated or not tolerated, without further explanation, he says something that is totally unintelligible. . . . Now let me say, about the doctrine of the Eucharist, there is precisely this, that we have not arrived at a full and clear determination about it. Better a thousand times, my brethren, that rash and incautious expressions should be used, better that things should be said that the great heart of this Church may possibly condemn, than that we should hastily formulate this doctrine. . . .Let this Church on this doctrine preserve its equanimity. Let it study. Let it read. Let it pray. Let it think. Let men who have the grace and the gift of understanding pour forth their contributions; and if there are things that ought not to be said, we may be sure that free thought, free play, free consideration, and full consideration, never harmed the Church in any way; for, mark you, it is a philosophical truth, which no man can read ecclesiastical history without understanding, that no doctrine, though it be formulated never so often, becomes the doctrine of any Church until that doctrine receives the moral unanimity of its members; and if any one here should be tempted either by Rubric or by Article to attempt to take away from the doctrine of this Church on the Eucharist, it would only be endeavoring to do something which in time to come this Church will rise as one man, clerical and lay, and sweep away. . . .

Mr. President, we live in troublous times, and around us are all sorts of terrible questions. It does seem to me the need of the day is not now to legislate on nice points of doctrine, or to prescribe exactly the measure of a genuflexion, or the angle of inclination which can express an orthodox devotion. The answer to all this panic and all this outcry is one, and one only. It is Work; work for the cause of Christ; work for the souls of men; and a fuller, deeper, more noble sense of the obligation of the Church, developing its powers, and sending it forth to mould and form this mighty nation, and to give new life and vigor to every effort that is made for the salvation of men. I see the storm-cloud gathering. I see the lightnings flash. I hear the thunder roll afar. I hear the trumpet call. In my ears the bugle blast is ringing. And I call you, brethren, in a time like this, not to narrow-hearted legislation, but to broad, Catholic, tolerant charity, and to work, as never men worked before, for the souls of those for whom the Saviour died.

From The Canon on Ritual, and the Holy Eucharist; A Speech Delivered in the General Convention, October 26th, 1874, by the Rev. James DeKoven, D.D. Found at http://anglicanhistory.org/dekoven/canon.html.

Past Posts