I will, then, say at once : 

1. That I rejoice with all my heart in all the workings   of the Holy Ghost in the Church of England.   

2. That I lament whensoever what remains of truth in it gives way before unbelief.  

3. That I rejoice whensoever what is imperfect in it is unfolded into a more perfect truth.

4. But that I cannot regard the Church of England as the 'great bulwark against infidelity in this land,'  for reasons which I will give in their place. 

 1. First, then, I will say what I believe of the Church  of England, and why I rejoice in every working of  the Holy Spirit in it. And I do this the more gladly because I have been sometimes grieved at hearing, and  once at even seeing in a handwriting which I reverence  with affection, the statement that Catholics or at least  the worst of Catholics called Converts, deny the  validity of Anglican Baptism, regard our own past  spiritual life as a mockery, look upon our departed  parents as heathen, and deny the operations of the  Holy Spirit in those who are out of the Church. I do not believe that those who say such things have  ever read the Condemned Propositions, or are aware  that a Catholic who so spoke would come under the  weight of at least two Pontifical censures, and the  decrees of at least two General Councils.   I need not, however, do more than remind you that,  according to the faith and theology of the Catholic  Church, the operations of the Holy Spirit of God  have been from the beginning of the world co-extensive with the whole human race.   Believing, then, in the operations of the Holy Spirit,  even among the nations of the world who have  neither the revelation of the Faith nor the Sacraments,  how much more must we believe His presence and grace  in those who are regenerate by water and the Holy  Ghost? It would be impertinent for me to say to you  whose name first became celebrated for a tract on  Baptism, which, notwithstanding certain imperfections  inseparable from a work written when and where you  wrote it, is in substance deep, true, and elevating that  Baptism, if rightly administered with the due form  and matter, is always valid by whatsoever hand it may  be given ... 

Let me, then, say at once   1. That in denying the Church of England to be  the Catholic Church, or any part of it, or in any divine  and true sense a church at all, and in denying the  validity of its absolutions and its orders, no Catholic  ever denies the workings of the Spirit of God or the  operations of grace in it.   2. That in affirming the workings of grace in the  Church of England no Catholic ever thereby affirms  that it possesses the character of a Church. ...

With truth, then, I can say that I rejoice in all the  operations of the Holy Spirit out of the Catholic  Church, whether in the Anglican or other Protestant  bodies; not that those communions are thereby invested with any supernatural character, but because more souls, I trust, are saved. If I have a greater joy  over these workings of grace in the Church of England,  it is only because more that are dear to me are in it,  for whom every day I never fail to pray. These graces  to individuals were given before the Church was  founded, and are given still out of its unity. They  are no more tokens of an ecclesiastical character, or  a sacramental power in the Church of England, than in the Kirk of Scotland, or in the Wesleyan connexion ;  they prove only the manifold grace of God, which,  after all the sins of men, and in the midst of all the  ruins they have made, still works in the souls for whom Christ died. Such, then, is our estimate of the Church  of England in regard to the grace that works not by  it, nor through it, but in it and among those who,  without faults of their own, are detained by it from  the true Church of their baptism.  

 And here it is necessary to guard against a possible misuse of what I have said. Let no one imagine that he may still continue in the Church of England because God has hitherto mercifully bestowed His grace  upon him. As I have shown, this is no evidence that salvation is to be had by the Church of England. It is an axiom that to those who do all they can God  never refuses His grace. He bestows it that He may lead them on from grace to grace, and from truth to  truth, until they enter the full and perfect light of  faith in His only true Fold. The grace they have  received, therefore, was given, not to detain them in  the Church of England, but to call them out of it.  The grace of their past life lays on them the obligation of seeking and submitting to the perfect Truth. God would have all men to be saved, and to come to  the knowledge of the truth.' But His Church is an  eminent doctrine, and member of that truth ; and all  grace given out of the Church is given in order to  bring men into the Church, wheresoever the Church is  present to them. If they refuse to submit to the Church they resist the Divine intention of the graces they have  hitherto received, and are thereby in grave danger of  losing them, as we see too often in men who once were on the threshold of the Church, and now are  in rationalism, or in states of which I desire to say  no more.

 

 

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