Lastly, Dr. Manning says, “If the Church of England teaches that there is a Church upon earth, it formally denies
a) its indissoluble unity,
b) its visible Head, and
c) its perpetual Divine voice.”
How the Church of England can be said “formally to deny the indissoluble unity of the Church,” I know not, seeing that we cannot approach the Holy Communion without confessing, “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church.” In our Litany, we pray for “the Holy Church Universal,” and not for our Bishops only, but for “all Bishops,” all, accordingly, throughout the whole world, east and west. In our Ember Weeks, we pray “Our Heavenly Father, Who hast purchased to Thyself an Universal Church by the precious Blood of Thy Dear Son, mercifully look upon the same, and at this time so guide and govern the minds of Thy servants, the Bishops and Pastors of Thy flock.” We pray accordingly for God’s special guidance of the Bishops of the Universal Church. At Holy Communion we pray God to “inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord,” and for “all Bishops,” not our own only. Certainly, since prayer is the voice of the soul to God, we express riot our inmost belief only, but a loving belief, that the Church is one.
How it is one, the Church nowhere defines; but the faith is kept alive by prayer more than by definitions. Yet, whatever duties may follow upon the Unity of the Church, it is plain that no harmony of men’s wills can constitute a supernatural and Divine Unity. Unity, in part, is the direct gift of God; in part, it is the fruit of that gift in the mutual love of the members of the Church. In part, it is a spiritual oneness wrought by God the Holy Ghost; in part, it is a grace, to be exercised by man, a consequence and fruit of that gift. In one way, it is organic unity derived from Christ, and binding all to Christ, descending from the Head to the Body, and uniting the Body to the Head; in another, it consists in acts of love from the members one to another. Christ our Lord, God and Man, binds us to Him by the indwelling of His Spirit, by the gift of His Sacraments, administered by those to whom He gave the commission so to do, by the right faith in Himself. “We are bound to one another, in that we are members of Him, and by the love which He sheds abroad in our hearts through the Spirit which He giveth us, and by common acts of worship and intercommunion.
Of these, the highest and chief is that which binds us to Christ Himself. Our highest union with one another is an organic union with one another through union with Him. It is not chiefly an union of will, or of mind, or of love, although these ought to be the fruits of it in its most perfect state, but an union through His indwelling Spirit. It is an union, in a degree, corresponding with the union of the Father and the Son. “As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us.” ......
The first then and very chiefest character of Unity is not any thing which comes
forth from us; it is infused into us by God. But this it is man’s part to receive, and he
receives it by faith. “There is One Body and One Spirit;” “One Body,” as held together
by the “One” Holy “Spirit;” “One Body,” of all which are and have been and shall be, all
too who before Christ’s Coming believed in Him and pleased Him. “For to this end,” says S. Chrysostom, “was the Spirit given, that He might unite those who are separated by race and by different manners; for old and young, rich and poor, child, youth, and man, male and female, and every soul become, in a manner, one, and more entirely so than if there were one body.”
S. Paul also, following our Lord, places the origin of unity in God. God maketh us one body, by giving to us One Spirit, ingrafting us into One Christ through One Baptism, regenerating us to “one hope of our calling,” freely giving to us, son-ship, heaven, infusing into us One Faith; for “faith,” he says, “is the gift of God.”