In these remarks on the meaning of the word Mystery, some of the chief doctrines of the Gospel Revelation have been already enumerated; before entering, however, into the discussion which I have proposed to myself, it may be right briefly to enumerate the revealed doctrines in order, according to the Catholic, that is, the anti-rationalistic, notion of them. They are these: the Holy Trinity; the Incarnation of the Eternal Son; His atonement and merits; the Church as His medium and instrument through which He is converting and teaching mankind; the Sacraments, and Sacramentals (as Bishop Taylor calls them), as the definite channels through which His merits are applied to individuals; Regeneration, the Communion of Saints, the Resurrection of the body, consequent upon the administration of them; and lastly, our faith and works, as a condition of the availableness and efficacy of these divine appointments. Each of these doctrines is a Mystery; that is, each stands in a certain degree isolated from the rest, unsystematic, connected with the rest by unknown intermediate truths, and bearing upon subjects unknown. Thus the Atonement:—why it was necessary, how it operates, is a Mystery; that is, the heavenly truth which is revealed, extends on each side of it into an unknown world. We see but the skirts of God's glory in it. The virtue of the Holy Communion; how it conveys to us the body and blood of the Incarnate Son crucified, and how by partaking it body and soul are made spiritual. The Communion of Saints; in what sense they are knit together into one body, of which Christ is the head. Good works; how they, and how prayers again, influence our eternal destiny. In like manner what our relation is to the "innumerable company of Angels," some of whom, as we are told, minister to us; what to the dead in Christ, to the "spirits of the just perfected," who are ever joined to us in a heavenly communion; what bearing the Church has upon the fortunes of the world, or, it may be, of the universe.

 

Comment