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Title: Nothing Between - The Special Doctrines Vindicated at the Reformation as bearing upon the Spiritual Life of the Church
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the [1881?] Hatchards edition by David Price, email

                            “NOTHING BETWEEN.”


                                * * * * *

                                 A PAPER

                       READ AT THE FIRST CONFERENCE
                                  OF THE


                            MARCH 22nd, 1881,

                                  BY THE

                         REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A.,

          Vicar of Holy Trinity, Tonbridge Wells, and Hon. Canon
                              of Canterbury.

                                * * * * *

                      LONDON: HATCHARDS, PICCADILLY.

                                * * * * *

                             PRICE TWOPENCE.

                                * * * * *


It is a glorious subject that your Committee has entrusted to my care,
and I consider it no small privilege to have been led by your invitation
to study it.  At the same time it is not without its almost overwhelming
difficulty, for our conflict with Rome extends along the whole line of
truth, so that almost the whole of Christianity is included in the
special doctrines of the Reformation.  The struggle is between
Christianity paganized, and Christianity pure; and the real conflict lies
between the whole system of the one, and the whole system of the other.
It reminds me of a conversation between a Protestant clergyman and a
Romish priest.  The clergyman, in order to illustrate the spirit in which
Christian brethren should hide each other’s faults, told a story of an
artist who, in painting the Emperor of Russia, put the finger to the face
in the attitude of thoughtfulness, and so concealed an unsightly blemish,
on which the Romish priest said, “And why do you not do the same towards
us?”  To which his friend replied, “We would if we could; but we cannot;
for in your case it is blot all over.”  So the taint is all over the
teaching of Rome.

Yet there is one class of subjects in which our conflict with Rome is
more especially prominent, viz., that which concerns the application of
the great salvation to the individual.  That salvation may be compared to
a chain reaching down from heaven.  Respecting the higher links, such as
the nature of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of the Son,
the humanity and the purpose of his death, there is no direct collision
between us; but when we come down to the last link of all, the
application of the whole work to the sinner, it is then that the real
battle rages.  The great struggle of the Reformation was a struggle
between the divine application and the human; between the simple
principle of gift as revealed by God himself, and the man-made system of
merit as constructed by the Church of Rome.

To illustrate this point let us study four particulars, which may be
likened to the four corner stones of our citadel, and consider them in
the order in which they stand in our Articles; the sufficiency of the
Scriptures; justification by faith; the spirituality of the sacraments;
and the final completeness of the one propitiation.

                                * * * * *

(1.)—_The Sufficiency of the Scriptures_.

It is the fashion to say that the Articles were intended as a compromise;
but that nothing can be further from the fact may, I believe, be proved
without the slightest difficulty.  The Council of Trent met in the year
A.D. 1546, and then drew up some of its most stringent dogmatical
decrees.  It was in direct opposition to these decrees that the Articles
were framed six years afterwards, as containing the clear,
well-considered, and uncompromising testimony of the Church of England.
This may be proved even by their omissions, for there are some things
which we might wish to find in them, but which have been passed over in
silence, for the simple reason that respecting them there was no
collision with Rome.  Such, _e.g._, is the inspiration of the Scriptures.
If we were called to draw up the Article now, the subject of inspiration
would be the first to be considered.  But no error had been taught by
Rome respecting it, and therefore it did not appear on the battlefield,
and was not mentioned in the Article.  The Article referred only to the
new position defined by Rome in the Council of Trent, and that new
position involved the insufficiency of the Scriptures.  Rome taught two
errors, first, that there are two parallel lines of truth, “written
Scripture and unwritten tradition,” and declared that both must be
received “with equal sense of piety and reverence”; and second, Rome
placed the Church as an interpreter between the Scriptures and the
individual, and decreed that no one should “dare to interpret the
Scriptures except according as the holy Mother Church has held, and still
holds, and also according to the unanimous consent of the fathers, even
though their interpretations should never at any time have been brought
to light.”  It was in direct opposition to this decree that the Sixth
Article on the Sufficiency of the Scriptures was drawn up six years
afterwards.  It declared Scripture to be sufficiently full and
sufficiently clear: sufficiently full, for it contains all things
necessary to salvation without any supplement from tradition; and
sufficiently clear, for, without the aid of either Church authority or
the unanimous consent of the fathers, it speaks right home to the heart
and understanding, so that whatever “is not read therein, or may be
proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be
believed as an Article of the faith.”

                                * * * * *

(2.)—_Justification by Faith Alone_.

“How should man be justified with God?” has always been the first grand
question for an awakened conscience.  Thus those who know what it is to
be justified through faith, will not be surprised at Luther’s memorable
statement that the doctrine of justification by faith is the test of a
standing or falling church, for we all know that in the case of
individuals it is the turning point between a life of fear and a life of
peace; may I not add between even death and life itself?  Now on this
point we are in direct collision with Rome.  The conflict turns upon a
single word.  How can it be of such overwhelming importance, some will
say, if all turns upon a word?  But one word may make all the difference
between truth and error, between peace and anxiety.  There was a time
when the whole controversy respecting the divinity of our Blessed Saviour
turned on a letter, the little letter _ι_ in the word Ὁμοιουσία, which
made all the difference between oneness and resemblance.  The turning
point in this controversy is the one word “only.”  In 1546 Rome decreed
“if any man shall say that men are justified by the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ _only_, or the remission of our sins _only_, and
not by grace and charity, which is infused it their hearts by the Holy
Scriptures, and is inherent in them, let him be anathema.”  That anathema
the Church of England boldly challenged when in A.D. 1552 she drew up her
Articles; and with distinct reforms to the “_only_” of Rome’s decree, she
said exactly that on which Rome had pronounced her anathema, “we are
accounted righteous before God _only_ for the merit of our Lord and
Saviour, Jesus Christ,” and that “we are justified by faith _only_, is a
most wholesome doctrine.”  Such an Article does not look like a
compromise.  It was the direct and open acceptance of Rome’s challenge.
“If any man says _only_, let him be anathema,” says Rome.  We say it,
says the Church of England, for we know it to be the truth of God, and,
knowing that, we defy your curse.

                                * * * * *

(3.)—_The Spirituality of the Sacraments_.

I am often surprised that staunch Protestants appear sometimes to speak
with a certain measure of distrust of the Church Catechism, for there are
few documents which contain clearer, or more decisive, statements as to
great Protestant principles.  What, _e.g._, can be clearer than the
definition given of a sacrament, “An outward and visible sign of an
inward and spiritual grace”?  That definition teaches two truths—(1) That
the grace is inward and spiritual, and (2) That the sign is distinct from
it, being outward and visible.  In that short sentence is contained one
of the great principles of the reformation.  Rome had confused the sign
with the grace when it decreed that the whole substance of the elements
was changed into the whole substance of the body and blood of Christ, in
which case it is obvious the sign must cease to be a sign, being changed
into the thing signified.  The Church of England taught, Article 28, that
such “transubstantiation was repugnant to the plain words of Scripture,
and overthroweth the nature of a sacrament.”  Rome had decreed, “If any
one shall say that in the Eucharist Christ is received _only_ spiritually
(observe the _only_), let him be anathema.”  The Church of England
replied, “The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper
_only_ after an heavenly and spiritual manner.”  Rome said, “If any one
shall say that faith _alone_ is a sufficient preparation for receiving
the Lord’s Supper, let him be anathema.”  The Church of England replied,
“The mean,” _i.e._, the only mean “whereby the Body of Christ is received
and eaten in the supper, is faith.”  Pages of other passages might be
quoted had I time, but these are enough to show the real point at issue.
Rome taught that the sign was transubstantiated into the thing signified,
and so ceased to be a sign as it became a living Saviour, localised on
the altar with body, soul, and even bones and nerves.  The Church of
England taught that the risen Lord is “in heaven and not here,” that the
sign remains a material, visible sign, and that the grace is a spiritual
grace.  So that, as is well said in the homily, “The meat we seek for in
this supper is spiritual food; and nourishment of our soul, a heavenly
refection, and not earthly; an invisible meat and not carnal.”  And
again, “Look up with faith upon the body and blood of thy God, thou
marvel with reverence, thou touch it with the mind, then receive it with
the hand of thine heart, and thou take it fully with thy inward man.”

                                * * * * *

(4.)—_The Final Completeness of the one Propitiation_.

We hear a great deal in modern times of the mass.  The Church of England
calls the holy sacrament “the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.”  But some
faithless sons of hers call it “the mass,” and some amiable men are so
enamoured of visible unity that they actually memorialize the Archbishop
for a recognized toleration of all the paraphernalia of what the
Reformers used to call “massing priests.”  Now let us clearly understand
what is the real point of the controversy respecting the mass.  It is
associated in people’s minds with the Eastward position, and with
candles, with incense, with chasubles and tunicles, with thurifers,
acolytes, and priests, &c., &c., &c.  But it was not for such things as
these that our martyrs died.  They are all bad enough, but in themselves
they were not worth dying for.  They died for a truth, and the great
truth for which they died was the complete, final, everlasting
sufficiency of the one Divine Sacrifice for sin.  It was this that put
the Church of Rome and the Church of England into direct and
irreconcilable antagonism.  It was not till the year A.D. 1562 that Rome
drew up her decrees on this subject, so that in this instance England was
first.  Our Reformers were well acquainted with all that was being taught
by Rome, and so drew up the noble and uncompromising words of article
xxxi. in the year A.D. 1552:—“The offering of Christ _once_ made is that
perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of
the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other
satisfaction for sin but that _alone_.  Wherefore the sacrifices of
masses, in the which, it was commonly said, that the priest did offer
Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt,
were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.”  Well spoken words were
those, burning words from glowing hearts.  Those men knew the value of a
finished, complete, all-sufficient, and final propitiation by the Son of
God, and their trumpets gave no uncertain sound as they swept to the
winds the man-made fiction of a propitiatory sacrifice in the mass.  And
it was in direct opposition to these noble words that Rome decreed, “If
any man shall say that the sacrifice of the mass is not propitiatory, and
ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins,
punishments, satisfaction, and other necessities, let him be anathema;”
(Sep. xxii.–3), and thereby taught that there was a necessity for some
further propitiatory sacrifice; and that the remission of sin is not
granted, as England had declared it was, through the one complete, final,
and all-sufficient propitiation and that alone; but that for the
remission of sins and punishments there is required a continuation of
sacrifice in the mass.

It would be a very easy thing to shew how all the other fictions of Rome
must melt away if these four great truths are established in the heart.
Let them be known in their power, and all the rest, mariolatry, saint
worship, purgatory, priestly absolution as a means of forgiveness of sin,
and all the complicated network of superstition will disappear of
themselves; but for that I have no time now, for I must hasten to that
which seems to be the great object of the Committee in the selection of
the subject, the practical bearing of these blessed truths on the
spiritual life of all classes in the Church.  What, then, is that
practical bearing of these great and most important principles?  Is it
possible to gather them together, as it were, into one focus and to sum
up the result in one simple proposition?  I believe it is, and that the
practical result of the whole matter it this, that on these distinctive
principles we are brought face to face with God himself, and that there
is nothing intermediate between God and the sinner, so that the whole
result may be summed up in two very simple words.  “Nothing between.”

Observe for a few moments how this result follows from every one of the
four points.

Are we earnestly desiring truth? and do we long to know the revelation of
God respecting the way of life?  We are not called to search for it in
that vast bundle of hay, the unanimous consent of the fathers, or to
apply to a priest to convey to us an authoritative interpretation even of
passages which the Church has never interpreted, but we are taught to go
straight to the fountain-head of truth at it wells up from God himself,
and as He has given it in His own inspired Word.  We are not dependent on
what man tells us of God’s revelation, but we go direct to the revelation
itself.  We do not rely on any intermediate authority who may discolour
the truth as a painted window discolours the sunbeam, but we look
straight at the truth itself in all its brilliant purity, and, though
sometimes we may be dazzled by its brilliancy, we rejoice in the fact
that there is _nothing between_.

Are we anxious on the subject of our acceptance with God? and asking the
question, How can a man be justified with God?  We are again brought face
to face with Himself.  We are not called to look _outside_ for any
sacerdotal act to introduce us to God, or even _inside_ for any work of
the Holy Spirit in our own hearts to recommend us to His mercy.  But
without strength, without godliness, sinners, and even enemies, we are
permitted in His boundless mercy to receive the reconciliation, to throw
ourselves, with _nothing between_, into the arms of Him who has redeemed
us, and as we are, and just as we are, trust Him at once for a full,
complete, and all-sufficient justification before God.

Are we longing to live feeding on the Lord Jesus Christ, and nourished by
that which in the sixth chapter of St. John he sometime describes as the
bread of life, and sometimes as his body and blood?  Again we are taught
that for that sacred food and sustenance we must be brought into direct
and immediate contact with himself.  We are not to look for any mystical
change in the elements supposed to be accomplished by some miraculous
power in a priest, or suppose that it is Christ in the elements that is
the real food of the soul when hungering and thirsting after life.  But
we are taught that it is the soul _itself_ that feeds on Christ
_himself_, and so enjoys his promise, “He that cometh to me shall never
hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.”

And lastly, does the soul tremble under the consciousness of sin?  Sin of
the nature?  Sin of the heart?  Sin of the thought?  Sin of the act?  Sin
of the whole man and every part of him?  Does the horrid, dreadful
thought of sin rise up as an impassable barrier between the
conscience-stricken sinner and the holiness of God?  Once more the great
principle of a complete and final propitiation proclaims without reserve
the joyful tidings that in Christ Jesus there is _nothing between_, that
the veil of the temple is rent from the top to the bottom, and that now
there stands open a new and living way leading direct to the mercy seat
of God.  To remove that awful barrier of unforgiven sin, we need no
saints, no masses, no purgatorial fire.  We need no priests to make a
propitiatory offering by what he claims as his sacerdotal power.  As
believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we have received the reconciliation
from the Son of God himself.  It is his own blood that was shed, and his
own hand that has given the pardon.  And, though Satan may accuse, and
conscience convict, though it may seem impossible to our own judgment
that such as we are should ever be permitted to find fellowship with God,
we may thank him with profound thanksgiving that he has removed the curse
by bearing it himself upon the cross, and may venture to draw near in the
words of that most incomparable hymn—

    Just as I am, thy love unknown
    Has broken every barrier down,
    Now to be thine, and thine alone,
                O Lamb of God, I come.

Whatever, then, we take as our starting point, we are brought to the same
conclusion.  NOTHING BETWEEN.  From whichever point of the compass we
begin, whether from the Scriptures, or justification, or the spirituality
of the sacrament, or the full and finished Atonement, in every case we
are led to the same conclusion.  Everything intermediate between the Soul
and the Saviour is swept away for ever, and with nothing between—nothing
to hide the truth while claiming to make it plain, or to hinder the
approach while pretending to help it—we are brought face to face with the
Lord Jesus Christ himself; and being pardoned through his perfect
propitiation, and accepted in his perfect righteousness, we can say as
St. John did, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son
Jesus Christ.”

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