Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/20

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11
THE DEVIL IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

and condemned him in the costs of both suits. Do you think, then, that the Church Of England is authoritatively deprived of her dear Devil and her beloved eternal punishment? Not at all; the really important problem is evaded with consummate lawyer-like wariness; the points in dispute are most shiftily shifted like slides of a magic lantern; we have a new decision essentially unrelated to that which it cancels; we have a judgment which concerns not the Devil—except that he would chuckle over the too clever un-wisdom which fancies it can extinguish "burning questions" with legal wigs.

Their most learned lordships in the first place observe that the learned judge of the Court of Arches appears to have considered that the canon and the rubric severally warrant the repulsion from the Lord's table of "an evil liver," and "a depraver of the Book of Common Prayer," whereas the terms are "an open and notorious evil liver," and "common and notorious depravers." This is a most pregnant distinction, teaching us that an evil liver and a depraver of the said book, as long as he is not notoriously such, is fully entitled to the Holy Communion, fully entitled to the privilege of "eating and drinking damnation to himself," a privilege from which the damnation to' notorious evil liver and depraver is righteously debarred.

Now, their most learned lordships find that there is absolutely no evidence that the appellant was an evil liver, much less an open and notorious evil liver. The question follows, Was he a common and notorious depraver of the Book Common Prayer? It was contended that the Selections, coupled with the letter of July 20, proved him to be this. But the letter was not written spontaneously. He was invited by the respondent, Mr. Cook, to write it. It was a friendly and private, as well as a solicited, communication. Therefore, whatever be the construction of the letter, and even if there be in it a depravation of the Book of Common Prayer, still it would be impossible to hold