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have felt, though few would so frankly have admitted, what a disappointed pilgrim once told us, that he found more satisfaction as a member of the Masonic Order in his visit to the city where Solomon's Temple stood than as the place where Christ lived and died.
The Bethlehem of to-day has no fresh evidence to give in witness to the Virgin Birth, and the Holy Sepulchre, shown as such now, can add nothing to the witness of the Empty Tomb of Easter Morning. The events connected with the localities are of eternal import. But the types have been superseded by realities of priceless and increasing value. The possession of the modern successor to the ancient city is of minor importance.
N aspect of the situation which ought to set us thinking in this subject has been alluded to already. Jews, modern Arians and others who see in the Son of Mary only a man, sentimentalists and emotionalists, along with the superficial Christian world, alike have been thrilled by the latest conquests of Jerusalem. But why? The Jews think of the city as the heart and rallying-ground for their religion which denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Unitarians and others have in mind only the human life on earth that came to an end on Good Friday. Impugners of the Resurrection and the Living Christ see in the earthly city the locality where all His words were proved false and the hopes of His followers dashed to pieces. Their sentiment is that of Arnold's lines
"Far hence He lies, in the lorn Syrian town,
And on His grave, with shining eyes, The Syrian stars look down."
Superficial Christians join with these groups with no thought of inconsistency. If all that Jerusalem symbolizes is that on which Jew, Unitarian, and sentimentalist can agree, indeed it is a vain and empty thing. Wherein lies the explanation?
T is greatly to be feared and strongly suspected that the ignorance concerning the history of Jerusalem since Good Friday is widespread and abyssmal. The interpretation of that history seems seldom to have been taught.
In the first place, the distinction made by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians is valid and essential to-day and has been so ever since Pentecost. "Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children" stands for the earthly city which came to an end so far as its spiritual history is concerned with its destruction in the year 70. But" Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us (all)" is the reality, the heavenly and New Jerusalem, and stands for the Christian Church - the Body of Christ. This, the true and perpetual Jerusalem, is "the city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God." All the references to Jerusalem in the Old Testament books apply to the earthly city until that city had fulfilled its purpose as a type. With the coming of the Christ and the foundation of His Church the type is at an end and the references are only applicable henceforth to the spiritual city. When a centre of population once more occupied the site of the Jewish city it was a new and ordinary city with sacred associations. But Judaism as a religion was ended and likewise the significance of its former religious capital. The new city was a Christian city, the seat of a Christian Bishop. Reverence for its associations impelled the Church in the fourth century to assign to the new and Christian city patriarchal rank, but not the first place among patriarchal sees. Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and the "New Rome"- Constantinople—all outranked Jerusalem. It belonged ecclesiastically and geographically to the East. No claim was made to pre-eminence, nor to transcend locality. Its glory, as a unique city, had departed.
Yet the tendency was always working with greater or less strength to make it a localized centre of Christian devotion, like Mecca or Lourdes or Boston. That danger was checked providentially, we may reverently think, by the passing of Jerusalem into Mahometan control. Great is the shock to read of this disaster and much lauded still are the Crusades though they were
an absolute failure. How many of those who to-day rejoice over the restoration of the city to Christian ownership realize just what did happen when in one of the Crusades Christian armies did for a time regain the city? So far from advancing the Church's cause and fulfilling the Christian hope, the setting up of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem under Godfrey de Bouillon was attended by the high-handed papal act of establishing a Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem where already was a Patriarch of the Eastern Church, with the result of consummating the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches which endures to-day to the scandal of Catholic unity. Kingdom and Patriarchate both collapsed because of the false principle underlying each. What is liable to happen to-day is analogous. What shall be the status of Jerusalem ecclesiastically? Shall it be British, with an Anglican Bishop? But it belongs to the Eastern Church and by rights should have a native Bishop and be an independent see. Will the Pope allow the prestige of the see to be lost to his own obedience? Impossible, from the ultramontance standpoint. We have even seen the suggestion that the Pope, might remove from Rome, where he is the self-interned "prisoner of the Vatican," to the city which is the cradle of Christianity. Shall the city be made the common rallying-ground of Jew, Protestant, and Catholic? What a sacrilege! A score of similar problems present themselves, all capable of raising fresh controversies and animosities in the religious world. The simple solution, the reversion to its old status of a patriarchal see of the Eastern Church is the least likely to be accepted. Of course the sentimentalist and the Jew and the Unitarian, possibly the Protestant, care not at all, but the Catholic Christian does care.
THE really vital question at issue is whether Jerusalem in
Judaea is any longer, or has been for eighteen centuries, the Holy City, in a unique sense; whether one gains anything essentially by visiting the place; whether one is nearer to God on the site of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre than elsewhere. The answer is emphatically, No. The Catholic Church
is" Jerusalem above." The Altar and its Sacrament are our Bethlehem, the House of Bread. The Font is our Holy Sepulchre where we " are buried with Him in Baptism wherein also we are risen with Him." As the Ascended and Reigning Christ He is with us in the Holy Eucharist to be worshipped and adored as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Every communicant is in the closest possible nearness to Him and worships with the whole company of heaven. No one could be nearer Him in the earthly Jerusalem than the humble worshipper before any Altar of the Catholic Church where He continually vouchsafes His Presence. Those who cry out against "localizing worship" in Tabernacle of the Reserved Sacrament fail to see that the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist is the true answer to the soul's desire which finds a false answer in visiting the earthly city of Jerusalem.
THE disquieting point about the widespread attitude towards the recent military conquest in Palestine is that it illustrates to how large an extent Protestant Christianity is Jewish and Old Testament in its outlook. This is the heritage, developed to an extreme, from the disciplinary Puritanism of Hooker's day which that great divine is continually meeting and exposing by insistence upon the Incarnation as the central truth from which all Christian truth and practice proceed. Those who hold the false conception as to the modern Jerusalem are all the time turning back to the past and there they are likely to remain. True Christianity begins with the present moment, Jesus present, Jesus reigning, Jesus now and here the Object of worship. The Church, His Bride, His City, He Himself now crucified afresh, now absolving, now with His Church and Ministers - these supersede for significance all else and come first in order. Those who cling to the city of the Old Dispensation are liable to ignore the Holy Spirit Who came to the heavenly Jerusalem as He never was in the earthly city and Who unites the Bride to her Husband. The earthly city was and is of transitory importance. The New and Heavenly Jerusalem is "eternal in the heavens."
THE nomination of Dean Hensley Henson to the Chapter
of Hereford for election to be their Bishop comes with something of a shock, not because it emanates, as in all probability is the case, from the Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George, but as having the consent of the King. One recalls the incident reported of King Edward when the Prime Minister suggested Canon Henson's name among others for vacant dioceses. King Edward bluntly refused to listen to the suggestion, saying: "I am still Defender of the Faith." The present nomination is very likely purely political and supposedly politic. The Prime Minister is not a Churchman and does not appreciate, even if he understands the Church's position. Dean Henson is very likely to be a sort of an ecclesiastical demagogue in the popular estimation who will be an aid in dealing with the workingman and socialists as opposed to conventions and customs. The very well-known fact that he ignores the laws and traditions of the Church of England and exploits his personal views may commend him to the enemies of the National Church. But there is a deeper side of the situation which should cause grief and foreboding to the loyal Churchman. The ordination promises of those set apart to the priesthood and episcopate of the Church are very clear and definite and are taken before God and man. Dean Henson puts his own interpretation upon those vows and upon the formularies, Creeds and Canons which he has solemnly undertaken to uphold. He retains his preferments and uses his position in violation of corporate authority. He has entered into compact with Christ's Churcha Body not possessed of or willing to employ physical force to combat him. Is not this of the nature of Teutonic methods in the Church? Are the promises of Bishops and priests at their ordination, and the words they use in Creed and Sacrament "scraps of paper?" It may be a very dangerous thing for the English Sovereign to have weakened before the demands of hostility in his capacity as only Supreme Governor of the welfare of the National Church. Albert, King of Belgium, did not weaken before the threats and invasion of the German army and King Charles the Martyr did not give way in the face of puritan demands to betray episcopacy.