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Alexei Khomiakov

Essay on the Unity of the Church: the Church is one

As published in: "Russia and the English Church during the Last Fifty Years", Volume I, 1895. W. J. Birkbeck, editor.


The Holy Church, in confessing that she looks for the Resurrection of the dead and the final judgment of all mankind, acknowledges that the perfecting of all her members will be fulfilled together with her own, and that the future life pertains, not only to the spirit, but also to the spiritual body; for God alone is a perfectly incorporeal Spirit. Wherefore she rejects the pride of those who preach a doctrine of an incorporeal state beyond the grave, and consequently despise the body, in which Christ rose from the dead. This body will not be a fleshly body, but will be like unto the corporeal state of the Angels, inasmuch as Christ Himself said that we shall be like unto the Angels.
In the last Judgment our justification in Christ will be revealed in its fulness; not our sanctification only, but also our justification, for no man has been or is as yet completely sanctified, but there is still need of justification. Christ worketh all that is good in us, whether it be in faith or in hope or in love; while we only submit ourselves to His working: but no man submits himself wholly. Therefore there is still need of justification by the sufferings and blood of Christ. Who, then, can continue to speak of the merits of his own works, or of a treasury of merits and prayers? Only those who are still living under a law of bondage. Christ works all good in us, but we never wholly submit ourselves, none, not even the Saints, as the Saviour Himself has said. Grace works all, and grace is given freely and to all, that none shall be able to murmur, but not equally to all, not according to predestination, but according to foreknowledge, as the Apostle says. A smaller talent indeed is given to the man in whom the Lord has foreseen negligence, in order that the rejection of a greater gift should not serve to greater condemnation. And we do not increase the talents which have been intrusted to us ourselves, but they are put out to the exchangers, in order that even here there should not be any merit of ours, but only non-resistance to the grace, which causes the increase. Thus the distinction between sufficient and effectual grace disappears. Grace worketh all. If a man submits to it the Lord is perfected in him, and perfects him; but let not a man boast himself in his obedience, for his obedience itself is of grace. But we never submit ourselves wholly: wherefore besides sanctification we ask also for justification.
All is accomplished in the consummation of the general judgement, and the Spirit of God, that is, the Spirit of faith, hope, and love, will reveal Himself in all His fulness, and every gift will attain its utmost perfection: — but above them all will be love. Not that it is to be thought that faith and hope, which are the gifts of God, will perish (for they are not separable from love), but love alone will preserve its name, while faith, arriving at its consummation, will then have become full inward knowledge and sight; and hope will have become joy: for even on earth we know that the stronger it is, the more joyful it is.


By the will of God the Holy Church, after the falling away of many schisms, and of the Roman Patriarchate, was preserved in the Greek Eparchies and Patriarchates, and only those communities can acknowledge one another as fully Christian which preserve their unity with the Eastern Patriarchates, or enter into this unity. For there is one God and one Church, and within her there is neither dissension nor disagreement.
And therefore the Church is called Orthodox, or Eastern, or Greco-Russian, but all these are only temporary designations. The Church ought not to be accused of pride for calling herself Orthodox, inasmuch as she also calls herself Holy. When false doctrines shall have disappeared, there will be no further need for the name Orthodox: for then there will be no erroneous Christianity. When the Church shall have extended herself, or the fulness of the nations shall have entered into her, then all local appellations will cease; for the Church is not bound up with any locality, she neither boasts herself of any particular see or territory, nor preserves the inheritance of Pagan pride: but she calls herself One Holy Catholic and Apostolic; knowing that the whole world belongs to her, and that no locality therein possesses any special significance, but only temporarily can and does serve for the glorification of the name of God, according to His unsearchable will.

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