Popular Misconceptions of the Episcopal Church.
By William Reed Huntington.
New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1891.
Chapter VI. That it is a House Divided against itself.
…The new consciousness beginning to dawn in the heart and mind of the Episcopal Church is the consciousness of a special call to play an intercessory and mediatorial part in the needed work of a general reconciliation. What makes it possible for an Episcopalian to take this line of remark without subjecting himself to any just charge of arrogance, is the fact that he bases his peace-making effort wholly upon historical, and not at all upon personal grounds. He does not say, "Trust us as reconcilers, because [81/82] our ecclesiastics are so much more astute, our theologians so much more profound, and our communicant members so much more devout, than yours." He simply says: "Look at the history of Anglican religion, as a history, and judge for yourselves whether it do not give evidence of a greater power of inclusiveness, a more promising facility at comprehending a large variety of types, both of character and of action, than any rival system has ever, among the people of our own race, exhibited."
But the power to assimilate types and to comprehend varieties is the very gift which we demand of the intermediary who is to help us in this task of composing our differences. The unity of which American Christians are in search is a "live and let live" unity. They perceive that the shutting-out policy is what has brought us to our present broken estate. What they are reaching after is the Church that shall be intolerant of these two things, and of only these two things--first, wickedness; secondly, the denial of what is confessedly central to the faith. Purity of character, as estimated by the ethical standards of the New Testament; purity of belief, as tested by the primitive Creeds--these are the only points upon which a united American Church would find it needful to insist.
But the overtures ventured by the Episcopal Church in the matter of unity are met with merciless ridicule, on the ground that the theological divergences and party differences within its own borders are so marked as to have become notorious. "Physician, heal thyself!" is the not unnatural rejoinder of those to whom Churchmen address their affectionate invitations to reunion.
 I propose to meet this rejoinder by taking the ground that it is the existence of these very divergences alleged, and the continuance of their existence within the Anglican communion, that gives to that communion its best right to make the plea it does.
…The point, however, which I am particularly anxious to make is this, namely, that in a great national Church all of these various ways of apprehending and practising religion ought to find place. A national Church wholly made up of High Churchmen, or wholly made [84/85] up of Low Churchmen, or wholly made up of Broad Churchmen, would be a misfortune, if it were not first of all an impossibility. Human nature being what it is, a Church could not become national that should begin by insisting upon all its members conforming to one or other of these three types. It has been the peculiar blessedness of the Anglican communion that in the providence of God it has escaped this lust of delimitation.
…It is because of its having gradually acquired, during a long history, this inclusive character, that the Episcopal Church is able without immodesty to volunteer its good offices in that effort to come to a better understanding which so many souls in all the communions are earnestly desirous of seeing set on foot. Such overtures would be impertinent indeed if this Church were really "a house divided against itself; "--but is it that? Come and see.