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THE MARTYRDOM OF S. POLYCARP.
The mighty world of Rome is waxing old,
Stand forth, most noble Polycarp! for lo,
JANE Dixon. THE GREEK CHURCH.
ARCHBISHOP Lycurgus is a name that well deserves to be ever held in honour by English Church people. It has always been understood and affirmed by well-informed Englishmen that between themselves and the members of the great Orthodox Eastern Church, there was a kind of natural affinity. Vast as is the distance that separates the two Churches geographically, yet in doctrine we approach nearly to each other. Like ourselves they give the Holy Sacrament in both kinds, they allow the Clergy to marry, they recognise no infallible Pope, and even in points where we seem to differ, as in the manner of CHRIST's Presence in the Eucharist, and the Invocation of Saints departed, they are very far from being at one with Rome. Moreover, in their appeals to antiquity and their determined resistance to the theory of development, there is a bond of union which slight diversities of doctine or of practice cannot neutralise or destroy.
This has been the invariable teaching of our best Divines—not a few of our most learned and dignified Clergy, especially Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury,--having done what they could to bring about a reconciliation between the Churches. Overtures of this nature, however, had up to quite recent times been confined entirely to our side. In the East, generally, the English Church has been considered only as a variety of Protestantisma view which it has suited the members of the Roman Church assiduously to foster ; and it was but a very few years since, that the privilege of burial with the full rites of the Greek Church was formally conceded to members of our community who should die in Eastern lands.
The little volumel which we have now to introduce to our readers opens a chapter in the history of the approach towards union which, under the good Providence of Almighty God, may be the beginning of a very different relation between the Churches. In reading this very interesting biography we seem to recognise in the subject of it an instrument specially ordained for breaking down the barrier of distrust and suspicion, which the isolated position of the Eastern Church had raised up for itself against the revolutionary opinions which were supposed to characterise the nations of the West.
1 “The Life of Alexander Lycurgus, Archbishop of the Cyclades,” by F. M. F. Skene, with an Introduction by the Lord Bishop of Lincoln. Rivingtons, 1877.
The Father of Alexander Lycurgus was a man of singular piety, an earnest patriot, when Greece at length succeeded in rescuing itself from Moslem rule, and a devout son of the Orthodox Church of Greece. So it happened that Alexander Lycurgus imbibed from his infancy a sound faith and a religious spirit, and speedily manifested a desire to serve God in the ministry of his native Church. To this end his earliest studies were directed, so that after he had gone through the academical course at Athens with great éclat, he was assisted by public funds to visit the chief Universities of Germany. Here happily the desire above mentioned was confirmed in spite of the Rationalism which he found prevailing there.
After his return to Greece he lectured for two years in the University of Athens, and in 1862 he undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the view of receiving Orders from the “mother of all the Churches,” and four years afterwards he was elected and consecrated Archbishop of the Cyclades, with residence in the Island of Syros.
For the record of the holy Archbishop's life, both public and private, however, we must refer our readers to the very graphic memoir whose title we have given. Though written by an English lady, the materials have been evidently supplied direct from Greece, and so the narrative furnishes us with very full particulars respecting the habits of Eastern ecclesiastics, and the tone of thought which prevails in those countries.
Our concern lies mainly with the labours of the Archbishop in regard to the re-union of the Churches. These bore fruit chiefly in the Archbishop's visit to England in the year 1870, and in his attendance at the Bonn Conference in 1875. The former of these events is related at considerable length in the memoir which lies before us; but instead of extracting from its details, we prefer to give the Archbishop's own estimate of his visit and its results from a Report which he presented to the Holy Synod of Greece, and which has been translated, we believe, by Mr. Meyrick.?
“The Anglican Church, although generally enumerated with the Protestant Christian communities, differs, however, from them for the following principal reasons. The other Protestant sects, having shaken off the tyrannical rule of the Roman Pontiff, imagined that they were able to abolish at the same time the Hierarchical system established in the Church from its commencement, and to proclaim an universal priesthood according to the text, 'He hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and His FATHER.' Into this great error the Anglican Church fortunately did not fall. She, after having rejected the Pope, not only maintained the Episcopal system, but also the various traditions and customs of the Ancient Catholic Church. In this manner this Church attached her bark by a strong cable to the ship of the Catholic Church, whilst the other Protestants having cut this cable, drifted out to sea, and wandered away. Whilst, on the one hand, the other Protestant Churches, beginning with the principle of free inquiry, ended by centring everything in the mere letter of the Bible, in the Anglican Church, on the other hand, there was gradually developed a feeling of reverence for religious ordinances, the depth and warmth of which are felt not only in the Church, but also in public as well as in social and in family life. The rulers of this people are deeply imbued with Christian sentiments. Many of them maintain Chapels in their mansions, and have founded and supported many and various institutions for the purpose of education and charity. In this people we see the Churches of the Most High daily full of worshippers both in the morning and in the evening. Nor are there wanting among them those who follow a monastic life, for there are monasteries not only for men but also for women, the latter of whom are employed in nursing the sick and in providing for and protecting orphans, &c. The public education of youth is also conducted in perfect accordance with this reverential feeling of the English people. The Universities also are not only not opposed to this deep reverential feeling, as frequently happens in other countries, but on the contrary they are first and foremost to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It is this feeling, which, according to my opinion, is the principal reason of the unexampled happiness of this country, in it everything is done in Christ. Is it therefore to be wondered at that a nation which has firmly established its whole life on this reverential feeling ; is it strange, I ask, that it has such a strong and invincible leaning towards the ancient source, the nurse and champion of the true faith in CHRIST, the Mother of the Churches ?
1 In reading the English Translation, we were surprised to find the Archbishop saying that he had attended “ various ceremonies of the Anglican Church, such as
the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.” This is a phrase which to a Greek, we believe, would be quite unintelligible. In the original of course it is “Liturgies,” and ought to have been rendered “ Celebrations” (not administrations) of the Holy Eucharist.
The name of the Printer is Cartwright, but we do not know if it is published.
“But what is exactly this inclination of the English People towards the Eastern Church, and what other object have they in view ? I do not believe indeed that the union of the two Churches can be the work of the present day. Besides, this union must not be closed mechanically, but truly and on full and complete persuasion. It is therefore necessary, before such an union can be effected, that there should exist a similarity of opinions, which can only be expected to take place after a mutual and careful investigation and inquiry, a matter which will require no little time. For the present, in order to prepare for this work of union, a friendly approximation of the two Churches, in the spirit of mutual love, is both possible and desirable. This is also the opinion of that profound thinker, Mr. Gladstone, as appears from the above quoted extract from his letter. It is a great and most distressing misfortune for all Christendom, that the former one and undivided Catholic Church has been split dogmatically, first into the Eastern and Western Churches, and afterwards into numerous other sections. It is moreover a still .greater, a more grievous misfortune, that these various Christian Communities have become hostile, mutually opposing and clashing with each other. Must, therefore, the Christian world entirely and for ever despair that their mutual animosities will not some day cease ? If it is not possible at the present time that all should be of one mind, is it not possible for these various Christian sects, to offer to each other the right hand of fellowship, leaving it to God alone to decide wherein they are not like-minded,' according to the Holy Apostle, (Phil. iii. 15.) I think that this most desirable Christian work, so abounding in true charity, can only be practically brought about between the two Churches in question, that is to say, the Orthodox Eastern and the Anglican. For, on the one hand, the Roman Church has always adhered to that old and intemperate anti-Christian claim of unrestrained rule over the Churches, as the Lord over God's heritage,' (1 8. Pet. v. 3,)-a
-a pretension which has forced her to promulgate the impious dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope. The Protestants, on the other hand, regarding Christendom, not as a Church, the head of which is CHRIST, and the members all true believers in Him, and, therefore, subjected to the Canonical successors of the Apostles, but regarding it as principle or idea, they are not only indifferent to any union, without which the foundation and preservation of every Church is impossible, but are generally opposed to every attempt at the same ; although our LORD JESUS CHRIST before His death prayed His Heavenly FATHER for those who believed in Him'that all might be one.' As a proof of this we lately find the sects, who are called in England Dissenters, that is to say, those Protestants who do not belong to the Anglican Church, have protested against the Anglican Church, because it has offered the right hand of fellowship to a Bishop of a Church, which they assert 'to be more corrupt than that of Rome. This fellowship of the two Churches will not only conduce to their preservation, but will establish for the remainder of Christendom a common standard of fellowship and, God willing, of union. This approximation consists in the recognition by each Church of the other as a Christian Community, having the same LORD and the same hope of salvation, and in the exhibition, from time to time, of proofs of mutual love, by intercommunication between the Bishops of both Churches, and by the grant of certain simple privileges to the members.”
At the end of the Report the Archbishop touches on the points of difference existing between the Churches, and the possibility of reconciliation. And the hopes there expressed he lived to see theoretically realised, (if one may use such a phrase,) sooner and more thoroughly