Snippets from John Williamson Nevin

If the fact of the incarnation be indeed the principle and source of a new supernatural order of life for humanity itself, the Church, of course, is no abstraction. It must be a true, living, divine-human constitution in the world; strictly organic in it’s nature-not a device or contrivance ingeniously fitted to serve certain purposes beyond itself-but the necessary, essential form of Christianity, in whose presence only is it possible to conceive intelligently of piety in its individual manifestations. The life of the single Christian can be real and healthful only as it is born from the general life of the Church, and carried by it onward to the end. We are Christians singly, by partaking (having part) in the general life-revelation, which is already at hand organically in the Church, the living and life-giving body of Jesus Christ. As thus real and organic, moreover, Christianity must be historical. No higher wrong can be done to it than to call in question its true historical character; for this is, in fact, to turn it into a phantasm, and to overthrow the solid fact-basis on which its foundations eternally rest. It must be historical, too, under the form of the Church; for the redness of Christianity demands indispensably the presence of the general life of Christ, flowing with unbroken continuity from the beginning as the medium of all particular union with him from age to age.

John Williamson Nevin, The Mystical Presence


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