Church Politics and Church Prospects
AND CHURCH PROSPECTS.
THE AUTHOR OF "THE CHURCH CAUSE AND THE CHURCH PARTY,
"TWO YEARS OF CHURCH PROGRESS,"
AND "THE AMERICAN CHURCH IN THE DISRUPTION."
Reprinted from the "Christian Remembrancer" for January, 1865.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET;
J. AND C. MOZLEY, 6, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
CHURCH POLITICS AND CHURCH PROSPECTS.
The writers who so complacently talk of the Church movement of 1833 as a phase long past and forgotten, of the religious and social progress of England, are every day convicted of egregious self-deception. No doubt the movement has gone through many changes since the publication of Tract No. I. It was an 'Oxford' movement; now Cambridge seems asserting itself as a centre of orthodox Church life. It was a 'Tractarian' movement, but the Tracts were extinguished more than twenty years since. It was the 'Newmania,' and it is full twenty years since Dr. Newman was with us. It was 'Puseyism,' but it is long since Dr. Pusey has appeared in the attitude of continuous public leadership, although at the present moment much ante ora virôm.
What, however, it was at the first, and what it continues to be down to the day on which we are writing, is a movement having, as its motive power, a deeper recognition than has for many generations existed among us, on the one hand, of a visible universal Church, and of sacramental ordinances, as the logically necessary correlative, 'through the ages all along,' in that Church, of the Incarnation; and on the other, of the Church of England, as fulfilling, within its limits, the idea of such a Church, and as supplying those sacraments. If this view of Christianity (no matter for the argument whether true or false in itself) stands out conspicuously and in greater prominence throughout the 'Establishment,' and if it shapes the actions, the language, and the writings of members of that Establishment to an incalculably greater degree than it did before 1833, then the movement which came to maturity during that year has not died out, as Latitudinarian optimists would like to prove. We can understand the neologian expressing his contempt for the Church system, or the Puritan banning it; we can understand the Romanist, specially if he be a divert, treating the manifestations of such a system in the English Church as deleterious and dangerous hallucinations; but we cannot understand one of these men shutting his eyes to 'Anglicanism,' so called, having revealed itself in England as a great, and to this century a new power, both in relation to the spiritual life, and also to the public actions of members of the national Church. "When we had occasion five, and again, three years ago, to review the condition of Church matters, we expressed our strong conviction that what was once known as the Church party, had been broken up, and that the Church was all the same widening and strengthening itself. We make the same assertion to-day in respect to the one compact Church party which seemed at one moment ready to have marshalled itself in opposition to the well-disciplined ranks of Puritanism. It has been broken up through many causes. But while this one Church party has disappeared, there has been a signal revival lately of the spirit of partizanship within the Church of England in respect of different matters, some of a temporal, some of a spiritual, and others of a mixed character; while the accidents of this complex condition lead to strange permutations and combinations of men whom it was once easy to find, either on a right or on a wrong side, but who are now perpetually changing positions like the performers in an old-fashioned country-dance. We are not making this statement either in praise or in blame, but as it is a fact, it may as well be acknowledged. The old lines were necessarily broken up as soon as that vague appellation, 'Broad Church,' had slipped into current vogue, and had been accepted by men of the most different temperaments and systems of belief, simply as an escape from the difficulties of partizanship. Undoubtedly it has, at the same time, its good side, when it results in the unostentatious adoption, by those who have hitherto been classed as Low Churchmen, of a distinctively Church platform, from which to work any one question, as, for instance, the extension of the Episcopate.
We may generally sum up the different Church questions of the day which lead to these diversities of attitude under three heads. First, comes the practical and political side, for those two phases of Churchmanship have, by force of circumstances, been oddly amalgamated; next, we may reckon the doctrinal one, in reference, chiefly, to recent outbursts of scepticism from dignified quarters;—and finally the ritual side, running in some cases into sensational excess. In arranging these topics in this order, we have no idea of hinting any opinion as to their relative importance. We have simply arranged them as they best suit the tenour of the present article.
The co-operation for several forms of practical work, as well as for the maintenance of the Church in its corporate privileges as a portion of the body politic, of moderate members of the different parties, admits, in the first instance, of an easy solution. They felt, in one view of the matter, that it was their duty to do something to pull together, if they meant to continue members of the same Church; and in another, they felt that there were certain things which ought to be done at the cost of a certain amount of mutual concession, so long as conscience was not violated. Naturally, the possibilities of joint action were limited to practical and political Churchmanship—any attempt at hasty doctrinal fusion would have risked opening out the ugly discrepancy as to the value of the Sacraments, which is the essence of the difference between High and Low. The old game of cross-purposes which Churchmen and ministers have been playing was also, in its way, conducive to the issue of a joint Church action, after the model of a company with limited liability. Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell had, some time since, stultified themselves in the eyes of most zealous Churchmen of either complexion, by the votes they gave in favour of the Church-rates Abolition Bill. But, in compensation for this blunder, Lord Palmerston held the proxies of the entire Evangelical party, in return for the concession of episcopal patronage which he had, a few years previously, made to them; while—still preserving their favours—he was filling the four primatial sees with men bearing the orthodox names of Longley, Thomson, Beresford, and Trench; and the dioceses of Gloucester and Ely with Professors Ellicott and Harold Browne. No doubt these appointments were subsequent to the rise of the new associations. But assuredly they helped to complete the entanglement. Churchmen felt that aide-toi was not a meaningless adage, when it had to do with the faith they were told to put in ministers. The Church Institution was the first shape which the experiment took, and the activity of that body soon galvanized the obsolete and obscure office of rural dean into a new line of usefulness, as convener and chairman of little social societies of joint clergy and laymen, periodically meeting to debate on topics of Church interest. Of course, in a system of such novel, not to say hasty introduction, based on so little of precedent, and so much less of positive authority, the amount of talk talked, in proportion to work done, was frequently excessive. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that these meetings have done considerable service of a protective kind, besides directing public attention to questions of progressive improvement, such as diocesan synods, more bishops, and so forth; and that, above all, they have made the people who attend them feel, that to belong to a Church is to have contracted obligations of an objective kind to a visible corporate body. Withal, the rural office has been worked very hard, and cynics might be tempted to say that at bottom a zealous Church Institutionist looked on a rural dean as the keystone of the Christian Church. The climax of incongruity was attained when the rustic title was attributed to the rectors of the large old parishes in the metropolitan boroughs. Still, the stress laid upon the decanal division was in itself harmless; and perhaps the absolute absence of sanctity or authority in the office made it an easier channel through which to work a voluntary organization, than if those clergymen had been recognised and full- blown prelates.
It was to the credit of the Church Institution and of the Church Defence Societies, πολλῶν ὀνομάτων μόρφη μία, that between four and five years since they felt that fragmentary meetings and a weak central body in London, itself working with half-manacled hands even as to questions of Church politics, was not sufficient to maintain the truce or strengthen the alliance between the Churchmen who had taken up the new Church movement. 'Church Congress' was the next rallying cry, originally raised in the Defence Association at Cambridge, in which University the first gathering of the kind was held in King's College Hall, in December, 1861.
The notion of a Congress was a direct offshoot, as far as England is concerned, from the British Association, which seems to have been the first to teach the lesson that men might meet in peripatetic session, by the easy elective process of buying a ticket, to lecture, to talk, and to mould each other's notions, without the final conclusion of a formal vote. Archæology soon followed suit, and later the airy nothing called 'Social Science.' The Evangelical Alliance, too, was in the nature of a congress. 'Congresses'—antiquarian, humanitarian, &c.—have also for the last twenty years or thereabouts been in fashion on the Continent; and so we should be inclined to attribute the fact of Church Congresses having made a simultaneous appearance in the Churches of England and Rome to an involuntary cyclic coincidence. Two Congresses at Mechlin, one of them distinguished by M. de Montalembert's brilliant plea for political liberty as the best safeguard of Catholicism, and the other carefully guarded from any such explosive element, but in compensation garnished by an exceedingly rich exhibition of mediæval Church art; and one at Munich, headed by the enlightened Döllinger, and snubbed accordingly from Rome, sum up the Roman Catholic list, with, we believe, some minor gatherings at Cologne and elsewhere in Germany. In England the Church Congresses have been four. The small one at Cambridge heralded a more imposing gathering at Oxford. Church Congresses at both these places were treading on velvet. Those who wished well to the movement felt that its real crisis had come when the off-hand acceptance of a spontaneous invitation to Manchester had pinned the congressionists to holding their third session in that city during the autumn of 1863.
The objection so frequently urged against Church Congresses that they settle nothing, we put aside as trivial; or, to speak more candidly, we accept it as their distinguishing merit. A Church Congress might not find its place under a condition of Catholic perfectibility. It is just because the work is incomplete, abrupt, illogical, and unsatisfactory, that such institutions, with their prudent abstinence from claiming perfection, come in so usefully. If the truth be admitted, that opinion must now be left to regulate many things which used to be regarded as within the province of authority, machinery which is successful in bringing together so many leading representatives of so many diverse schools in the Church, for free and friendly discussion, with the hope of agreement rather than of division, must be of proved utility.
Whatever else may be doubtful in the results of these 'parliaments,' to use the term in its etymological sense, it is certain that from no juggling, as some unscrupulous organs of Puritanism try to make out, but by the irresistible logic of facts, the party which holds its own the best, and gains the most upon the other side, is the High Church one. The lesson to him who will see is obvious. Common sense compels any knot of men, among whom clergy stand in a large proportion, who meet together to debate on the good estate of their own community, under the chairmanship of its magnates, to make the common law of, that community, and not their own crotchets, the rule of action. So many honest and zealous Low Churchmen, who had hitherto never been fairly brought face to face with the Church as a corporation, discovered, when volunteering to act in a combined Church gathering, that the unquestionable common law of that corporate Church contained useful elements of which they had hitherto been ignorant, or of whose importance they had hitherto made light. The other side had not this difficulty to overcome: the lesson they had to learn was one of personal forbearance and an elastic appreciation of antagonist positions, irrespective of their own intrinsic soundness.
A more solid objection, which was urged with considerable power in a paper read before the Bristol Church Union by Mr. Pocock, is the number not of open, but of closed questions, which in dread of a row must be entered on the 'Index Expurgatorius' of each successive Congress. We fairly say that the objection does not admit of an answer which would be logically satisfactory. Practically we believe that the half loaf of a Congress, held under the restrictions of this expurgation, is better than the no-bread of unchecked meetings, which would be impossible from no one daring to adventure their stormy contingencies. After all, everything cannot be talked over in three days, and by a body which elects itself for five shillings a head, so that the harm of a rigidly exclusive list of subjects comes to be of a negative kind. There is one benefit arising from these Congresses which should not be overlooked, although it accrues rather to the bystanders than to the members themselves. The Congress is peripatetic, never meeting twice in the same place. It stands to reason that this sudden vision of the Church of England, in such large numbers and so great bustle, periodically flashing across the eyes of the population of a large town, must tend to exalt the idea of the Church in the place, as a large social and political power (if not also as something better), in a totally novel way. It comes to them neither in a dignified nor in a polemac guise, but large, loud it may be, brisk and popular. In coming years, when a good number of towns have been visited by this apparition, the Church will at least have been seen as it never was before. The comments of the Manchester and the Bristol penny papers on the throngs of unwonted visitors, during the Octobers of 1863 and 1864, already indicated a new sensation. It is noteworthy that the Roman Catholic Congress in Belgium did not on either occasion assemble beyond the walls of the sacerdotal city of S. Rumbold and the protection of the cardinal archbishop. Had it ventured to meet in Ghent and at Liege the parallel with England would have existed.
Upon the whole, the Congress at Manchester proved very successful. There were one or two personal contests during the earlier part of the proceedings, which adverse newspapers tried to make the most of, but in very fact they were but slight interruptions to the general gravity of the work. Free Trade Hall, time after time, was crowded. High Church and Low Church were each strongly represented; and both sides, thus for the first time brought together in large masses outside of the restraining influences of academic cloisters, made heroic efforts to behave well, and did behave as they should have done. The fact was evident to strangers, and has, we hope, not been forgotten since by the residents in the northern capital. It was clear that the Church of England, in its various phases, no doubt, but still as the Church of England, with its high side decidedly entering into the composition, so far from being unknown, or borne down by dissent or Romanism, or both, was a very strong and growing influence in Manchester, and was capable of great results there if it had confidence in itself to assert its strength. The vast rapt crowd crammed into every corner of the Cathedral, which with its double aisles and galleries, if not altogether a like pile, is one of the most capacious auditoria which the English Church now possesses, and drinking in the manly sermon with which Dr. Hook started the proceedings, was one of the most striking spectacles of popular Churchmanship which the Church in these latter days has beheld.
Bristol was Manchester over again, with a difference, and that just the difference which exists between the two places in their material aspect. Both are big, bustling towns, but Manchester is the bigger and more bustling. Manchester, beyond the old Collegiate Church, now a Cathedral, and the little knot of half-timbered houses that lie between it and the Irwell, is all modern, and in no part built for pleasure. Bristol is composed of a large, staid old quarter, full of ancient houses and mediæval churches, yet refurbished up for modern needs and commerce, at the bottom of the hill, and of a genteel, half-gay, half-evangelical watering place above. Bristol and Clifton together make up one place without themselves being exactly one. So the Bristol Congress was not quite so full as the Manchester one, and matters there were taken perhaps a little more easily. The quality of the debates was certainly superior, and yet to the local community the whole affair may not have been quite so much of an event. Still, in its way, it was quite as important. The friends of Church Congresses no more desire them to become sensational than flat, and as, except in one incident, of which we shall have to speak farther on, there was no sensation about this meeting, so certainly it could not at all be accused of flatness; while the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol went to the presidential chair much better prepared for his functions than the episcopal president of the year before, clever as the Bishop of Manchester undoubtedly showed himself in learning his duties as the Congress moved on. There were also some influential persons present at Bristol who certainly would not have shown themselves there if they had not believed in the reality of the affair.
We will only mention one name. If there is a man in England who is respected for the peculiar attribute of wise caution—wisdom no doubt, but wisdom always strongly tinged with caution—it is Lord Harrowby; last year Lord Harrowby only made a spasmodic appearance at Manchester, and that as the advocate of an unpopular body, the Ecclesiastical Commission. This time he not only sat through the entire Congress, but also came forward constantly and cheerfully, to take a useful part in its deliberations. The extension of the Episcopate, or rather the multiplication of Bishops, and the introduction of something approximating to collegiate organization in large town parishes, separately debated as they were, were at bottom phases of the same problem, the introduction of more corporate action, more systematically combined into one Church system than at present exists—the great question, in short, of order as against independency. In its own special line the multiplication of bishops received a more emphatic approval than, as far as we have means of concluding, it ever before met with, except perhaps at the Oxford Congress. The principal paper on the subject was that of Canon Kennaway, who advocated the makeshift of episcopal curates, or otherwise, of 'suffragans.' We do not believe that in the long run this expedient would satisfy any one. Still, merely as an expedient, it is better than that untold troops of children, ay, and of adults, in village after village, and town after town in every county, should go on lacking the grace of confirmation. After all—even with a bishop per county all round—that bishop would be none the worse for having his curate, on the same grounds of common sense as any vicar within his diocese would be better off with similar help. In favour of doubling the episcopate—that is, of assigning a bishop generally speaking for every county, instead of the present average of one for two—the emphatic and unexpected testimony of Lord Harrowby may now be quoted. When a Churchman of his school—an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, moreover—stood up so manfully to communicate his personal desire for so wide a reform, to many hundred, auditors and the representatives of the London press, it was clear that the subject had reached no early stage of ripeness. The Court of Appeal, remanded to a section, evoked a debate in which Dr. Pusey's and Mr. Keble's now unwonted appearances in congregated throngs elicited long and fervid applause. Church architecture and decoration were in their turn downrightly handled as matters which deserved to be treated on their own merits, as topics of solid importance in a Church gathering, not by way of disparaging comparison, never brought in with some shambling excuse about externals, non-essentials, and such other stuff that no man thinks of, and no man vents when planning or extolling his own house. The debate on the Irish Church, which elicited a really eloquent and logical oration from the Dean of Cork, stood in favourable contrast to the parallel discussion at Manchester. The education of the Clergy was a novel, but every day increasingly important, topic for public discussion. The subject which was most feebly handled, was the cardinal one of foreign missions. One speech there delivered—that of Canon McNeill—has been characterised, by a calm and moderate critic, in terms of reprobation which we will not repeat. But apart from this unfortunate ebullition, the whole of that evening's debate was of very inferior quality. There were ad captandum appeals and nice anecdotes prettily pointed, but the appeals and the anecdotes did not rise above the average platform level, and seemed to be rather addressed to the bonnets, which formed an indiscriminate stranger's gallery all about the meeting, than to the uncovered heads of the lords of the creation, both lay and clerical, in whose hands rested the practical arbitrament. The final lecture on Church music must also be exempted from our praise, as with singular want of tact the lecturer took advantage of his position to utter a tirade against recognised Church arrangements, going so far as to advocate the admission of women into choirs.
Next year's Congress stands fixed for the Eastern Counties at Norwich. The President will be Bishop Pelham, and the seat of the meeting the town in which Brother Ignatius has fixed his headquarters. We hope the meeting will be concluded as pleasantly for Church prospects as those which have gone before it, though there have been squally omens in the sky. In one respect the Norwich meeting might and ought to improve upon its predecessors—in the attendance, we mean, of Bishops. It is a very short-sighted policy in our prelates in these times, when, as we have said, opinion must often be substituted for authority, not to gain influence by showing a genial and unsuspicious readiness to take the lead in such gatherings, which if not formal and official, are assuredly not irregular in any offensive sense. At Manchester the episcopate was represented by the Bishops of Manchester, Oxford, Sydney, Mauritius, and, we believe, British Columbia; at Bristol by those of Gloucester and Bristol, Chichester, Ely, and Antigua; and the Archbishop of Armagh would, we believe, have been there had not business detained him. A bishop of this generation ought never to fear entering into a debate, even at a mixed meeting of clergy and laity. He may not be agreed with, but he certainly would be treated with respect and gain in future influence. Bishop Ellicott did, in fact, maintain a running line of comment on all the speeches, but the Chairman, of course, was not to be answered.
The Bristol Congress had been closed for about six weeks, when another Church event of the speaking kind came off. In the diocese of Oxford a society with a useful and definite, though not brilliant mission, has for some years been at work, having as its object the raising of funds wherewith to increase the endowments of poor livings within the three counties of which the diocese is composed. The Bishop of Oxford, wishing to give an impulse to the society, borrowed the Sheldonian Theatre for a meeting in the latter half of November, and bespoke a strong cast of speakers, comprising, among others, Mr. Cardwell, Mr. Walter, Mr. Beresford Hope, Mr. Hubbard, and Professor Bernard. There was also Mr. Disraeli. The other speakers, the Bishop included, confined themselves to a plain and earnest advocacy of the claims of the ill requited incumbents; Mr. Disraeli, however, had other objects in view. He has, for some years past, been accustomed to make an occasional rural appearance as a friend of the Church. His arena has, however, been the inn's public room or a national schoolroom, and his audience a ruri-decanal meeting. Now fortune had thrown in his way the Sheldonian Theatre, with the elite of a University and two or three counties as audience. Moreover, the University was the one whose more famous member was the orator who was at once most conspicuously pitted against Mr, Disraeli in public life, and who stands the most conspicuous negation of the absolute identity of Churchmanship and of political fealty to Mr. Disraeli's party. To beat Mr. Grladstone at Oxford would be the bonne bouche of a general election, to beat him on a Church cry would be sauce piquante to that bonne bouche. So Mr. Disraeli is not much to be blamed for having taken a very comprehensive view of the opportunity so luckily dropped into his mouth, while he left the poor clergy to the care of the remaining speakers, and made the Oxford Theatre ring with a manifesto of 'Church policy.' The policy itself is, in most particulars, that which we have ourselves consistently advocated, and its adoption by the English politician who, like Louis Napoleon, with all his astuteness, dreams when he thinks, is a proof how strongly the general atmosphere must be charged with the electricity of Church progress. The speech itself was very ingenious, almost eloquent in parts, and daringly shotted with personal epigram. But perhaps it reads, in passages, better than it sounded. There was a point in the speech where Mr. Disraeli found himself compelled at a sudden turn to inventory the party in the Church whose system is sacramental—the Anglo-Catholics, in a word. A brief but awkward moment of embarrassment resulted in 'there are some who are sustained by symbolical ceremonies, and feel that their soul is only adequately satisfied by ecclesiastical arrangements of that character.' This pronouncement was, on the testimony of the Guardian, received with cheers and laughter. The opposite party 'can only be sustained by the ecstasy of spiritual enthusiasm.' But, mildly remarks the statesman, 'as long as they who counsel or pursue these modes'—i.e. arrangements and ecstasy—'meet on the common platform of true, sound Church principle,' 'I do not think that such a course of conduct is to be regretted.' Which course of conduct, the arrangements or the ecstasy? We are not surprised that the advocates of decisive ceremonial are a little disconcerted at the unconscious evidence which this passage affords of Mr. Disraeli's complete, want of sympathy for, and innocent ignorance of, their position. A little further on the versatile orator was again visibly getting into the shallows, from a confusion of ideas between 'creeds' and 'articles of faith,' which appeared to cool bystanders to be synonymous terms in his mind. Happily, the present participle came to the rescue, and by aid of 'repudiating creeds and rejecting articles,' the speaker regained his footing, till at last Sidonia himself walked the earth again, 'in the incantations of Canidia and the Corybantian howl.' Finally, warmed by his subject, Mr. Disraeli informed his delighted auditory that whenever these questions have been 'brought before Parliament, I have always opposed alterations of creeds, articles, and subscriptions.' Flushed with his well-known senatorial triumphs, in which, as the future Macaulay will record, the member for Buckinghamshire has so efficiently resisted the successive attempts of the Liberal party to edit the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, our erudite theologian then launched into that spirited rebuke, which has echoed through the British islands, of the neological school, man by man, for the unpardonable offence of using for personal ends second-hand information. Far be it from us to take up the cudgels in their vindication. They deserve their castigation, while the most mortifying as well as grotesque feature of it must be, that it fell from those particular lips.
After all, the important question to all good Churchmen in regard to Mr. Disraeli's speech is, what is it worth? It is, as it stands, a bountiful offer, and we have to ask whether the tender is made in coin or in paper. Few, we believe, will attempt to say that it is not in the latter currency; and not many will attempt, if hard pressed, to say that the paper must be taken at other than a considerable discount. So appreciated, we have no hesitation in saying that so outspoken an acknowledgment of the Church's righteous claim to more bishops, a reformed Convocation with lay representation, a settlement of Church rates, better courts, and something done for the Colonial Church, coming from the mouth of the leader of one of the great parties in the House of Commons, is of considerable value, although on the face of it delivered as an electioneering assault upon Mr. Gladstone's headquarters. All we have to say to Churchmen is, that if they mean to derive their advantage from it, they must deal with Mr. Disraeli on their own appraisement, and not let him take them all round at his valuation.
One of Mr. Disraeli's points leads us to remember that a few years ago there was a great and long protracted Church-rate agitation, in which the enemies of that impost, alter a series of parliamentary victories, found themselves most mysteriously driven back and routed. Since then there has been a truce. In sundry new parishes, thanks to a recent judgment of Dr. Lushington, the rate has for the first time been levied; in others an obscure series of fights has gone on; in the greatest number they have been quietly paid; in a minority never thought of; while the 'liberation' faction has sat by in an ominous attitude of sulky silence. Happily, the Church Institution and the dependent societies, in spite of much good will that way on the part of many of their members, have always been induced to pull up at the point of advocating the No-surrender policy, and the Establishment party, comprising leading High and leading Low Churchmen, have never as a whole been compromised to that tenet. We have not shrunk in the time of Church-rate discussion from advocating, as the only possible and one desirable compromise, the exemption of Dissenters, coupled, for those who will pay, with the maintenance of the existing system under renewed legal sanction. To this we adhere in these days of lull. When the storm again rages, we hope the time will not be past to advance that which is now, we feel, a theory of the closet, into a plan of practical adjustment.
The confiscation of the revenues of the Irish Church, a scheme which holds the same place on the platform of the unfettered Liberal as the confiscation of the Maynooth endowment does on that of the unimproved Tory, was for some reason forgotten by Mr. Disraeli. He probably concluded that Oxford would neither feel nor pretend any interest in the sister kingdom. As a political question, there can be no doubt that this confiscation would be a direct and long first step towards breaking down that which all true politicians have for many years been striving to create—a complete assimilation between England and Ireland. In equity, too, the Established Church has held those revenues quite long enough to have set up many Statutes of Limitation; even if she could not prove that she was by episcopal descent the representative of the old Irish Church, as against the antagonistic Romanist hierarchy, descended as that is from a new importation of bishops, hastily consecrated from Rome in place of the former conforming prelates. Besides, as a merely practical question, the revenues are not so very excessive as not to be at least quite as useful in fostering the soil over which they have been so long spread, as they could possibly be if dissipated over a much wider area. Again, what would that wider area be,—the Anglican, Roman, and Presbyterian communities rateably accommodated, or a miscellaneous mob of educationists, philanthropists, and jobbers in general, each jealously clamouring for his share of the plunder? We believe, in a word, that the two confiscations, that of the long held property of the Established Church, and that of the recently given endowment of Maynooth College, stand on the same footing of impossibility and of unfairness, while we are sure that either would seriously jeopardise the political safety of Ireland itself. English Churchmen in general are, we believe, inclined to look upon the Irish Church as the member of the family which had better never be spoken about. That body has its great faults and shortcomings, and its position as the Church of the minority is the striking evidence of some misconduct or other at some earlier epoch. Yet there is, we believe, a revival of Churchmanship in progress among the Protestants of Ireland, which the Englishman, who is not familiar with the Irish character, would not guess. An Irishman is naturally traditional, and naturally polemical, so that the loud denouncer of Popery, and all that he believes or thinks assimilating to Popery, may often at bottom have an uncultivated store of something very like genuine, though imperfectly developed, Churchmanship, in duty to which he has persuaded himself that he does right in hoisting the No Popery banner. Of all most unexpected forms the Church movement has taken an ecclesiological one in Ireland, and stands confessed in the new cathedrals, built or building, in Kilmore, Cork, and Tuam, not to speak of the one projected for Belfast, and those restored or under restoration at Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny, Killaloe, and Londonderry. Again, synodical action seems on the point of being advocated in that Church. Whatever Ireland takes up, it takes up rapidly and hotly, so there is no reason why a very decided High Church movement may not be a coming phase of its Anglican population. As it is, the reasons for its actual shortcomings were sketched with a very friendly, but yet fair as well as clever pencil, by Dean Magee, of Cork, in a characteristically but wholesomely Irish speech which he made at the Bristol Congress.
There is another point, of a character partly doctrinal and partly political, on which we may as well say a few words in this place—the agitation for a reformed system of subscription in the Church of England, which Lord Palmerston very adroitly postponed by the appointment of a Commission of unimpeachable weight and respectability. What its report may be we do not yet know, but enough seems to have oozed out to show that the ostensible grievance will be remedied, a form of subscription of workable stringency introduced, and the hopes of those who expected to enter the ministry of a Church where endowments would count much and faith little, considerably chilled. If so, we shall not say that the Commission met for nothing, little as we like meddling with a Church's belief or practice by way of Commission.
Church Congresses were, as we have seen, a bold experiment in bringing together opposite schools among members of the Church of England. Such societies as those for the benefit of poor livings in Oxford and other dioceses, are organized on a similar but less hazardous system of fusion, in reference to single methods of unpolemical usefulness. Larger and more complex schemes of practical improvement sometimes are and sometimes are not worked conjointly. There are those which are carried on upon the give-and-take principle; while, in other cases, each side has quietly dropped into a tacit understanding to work its own machinery with uncordial peacefulness. A large experiment has, however, been made in that city whose population reckons by millions, and whose area is a province, to introduce the system of friendly compromise into a complicated experiment of manifold aggressive energizing. The Bishop of London's Fund tumbled, there is no doubt, into bigness. Bishop Tait, with great good feeling, called a large select meeting of picked men rather early in 1862, to talk over the spiritual destitution of the metropolis. The men he brought together happened, at the moment, to be full of energy and full of suggestions, and before any one, Bishop or invited, very well knew where he was standing, they all found themselves pledged to a large promise of raising and distributing a grand sum. Since then, this Fund has gone on increasing and modifying itself—perhaps too much so—till, instead of a conduit pipe with a well perforated rose, it has become a species of tribunitiate for overhauling the spiritual concerns of all London north of the Thames. Hitherto, give-and-take have done their work, and, as outside critics, we are bound to note the Fund as a remarkable phenomenon.
In no diocese of England, since Exeter in 1851, has a Diocesan Synod been held; but the idea of the necessity of such institutions is steadily gaining ground, and any irregular gathering of Churchmen is a fresh argument in favour of their orderly revival. Only we trust that the Bishop who convokes the next will have duly weighed the various constitutions that he can give to the body, before endowing it with life. A synod of all the clergy of any diocese would probably be too unwieldy for cool deliberation, and so would sink into a machine for registering the Bishop's determinations. Again: the laity must somehow find their place in the synod, if the institution is intended to secure general acquiescence. How the laity had best be represented in it is a question far too wide for the present discussion. Our own idea is, that some method of representation by orders might be devised, which would be a break upon the more democratic plan of the mere representation of numbers or even of parishes.
From political and practical Church questions, we now pass on to those which affect doctrine; and first, we have to consider the case of that pernicious volume, the 'Essays and Reviews.' Speaking, in this instance, the individual opinion of the writer of the present article, we must own that we have never felt quite clear and satisfied in our own mind as to the expediency of having made any portion of the book the subject of a judicial prosecution, unless it could have been made abundantly clear before starting that the actual courts would accept and act upon the common law of the Catholic Church. What we mean is that a prosecution under civil common law, is a very different thing from a prosecution contravening the XXXIX. Articles. We owned to the uttermost the scandal and the mischief of that ill-starred and discreditable publication; but, when we had done so, we were driven back to the question with which we started—'Is it needful, and is it expedient, to take up rather than to ignore the offensive publication?' Ignored, it would probably have taken its unconspicuous place in the unnumbered host of clever literary failures. Ignored, it will have been sufficiently judged by the gentlemanly common-sense of the world, which has pronounced, in mess-rooms and in clubs not less than in combination-rooms and in rural deans' parlours, that the men who could have written the obnoxious 'Essays' ought not to have been reckoned among the clergy of the Church of England. Ignored by authority, the 'Essays' might have been crushed by antagonistic logic and learning. No censure was passed, for no censure could have been passed, on Boyle for setting up Phalaris, and yet, by the mere polemical force of Bentley's argument, Boyle stands to all time a literary heretic, condemned past extenuation. In days when either side equally accepted authority, and the only controversy was which authority—Athanasius or Arius, Nicholas or Photius, Tetzel or Luther, Luther or Zwingle—was to prevail, there was no alternative as to fighting out every question. Now that authority is not universally received, while opinion is everywhere respected, as much by those who revere authority into the bargain as by those who do not care for it, it might have been right to ask whether the side which had hitherto been victorious against 'Essays and Reviews' in the equitable court of opinion, was wise to appeal from their own success to the law court of authority. At best, it was a game of double or quits. The judicial condemnation of 'Essays and Reviews' would not make the British public like them worse than they already did; while the punishment of their writers would only evoke that sympathy for the weak man which is so general as well as so generous, though often illogical, a characteristic of the Briton. On the other hand, those that sympathised with the book were just the people who did not care a rush for authority, and who were actively looking out to catch authority making itself unpopular by passing from the censure of opinions to the oppression (as they would say) of men. So much for success. Failure, on the other hand, might involve the 'rehabilitation' of the Essayists in the eyes of public opinion, as men who had not, after all, acted unhandsomely to the Church in and on which they lived, not to talk of the extent to which the Church itself might or might not be corporately implicated in their false doctrines, if the voice of the Church's tribunal pronounced them 'not guilty.' Moreover, as we have hinted, orthodox men were bound to consider that the weapons which they were preparing to employ had been forged for quite another conflict. It was not clear that the courts could let them fight on the ground of the general conformity of Anglicanism to the Catholic faith. If kept to Anglican formularies, they would have to make the best of certain specific formularies drawn up to meet quite another class of errors in a totally different condition of things.
The analogy of the Gorham case might undoubtedly have been brought as, at least, a plausible argumentum ad hominem. But the analogy would really have been worth nothing. In the first place, it must not be forgotten that the Gorham suit was the crucial experiment as to the reliance which the Church had a right to put in the temporal courts when the sustentation of the Catholic Faith was in question. The experiment was fairly tried, and fairly broke down; and we do not see why a burnt Church may not allowably feel as a burnt child is known to do. But the Gorham case, at the stage in which it became a public question, was the direct reverse of that of 'Essays and Reviews.' The original examination and rejection of Mr. Gorham was a matter of private import between the Ordinary and the presentee to Bramford Speke. When the curtain rose, Mr. Gorham was plaintiff, and the Bishop of Exeter defendant, and the summons to the Church party was to rally to the support of the impugned side. In the more modern case, the Essayists (the two, we mean, against whom proceedings were taken) were living upon their incumbencies when the law was invoked to bring them to punishment for their writings. In the Gorham case, at its public stage, the Bishop was defendant, and Mr. Gorham plaintiff. Yet the Bishop failed. In all the subsequent Church causes celèbres, with the single exception of the anomalous Heath case, the assailant (whether High Church or Low Church) most impartially broke down. Mr. Westerton broke down against Mr. Liddell, Mr. Ditcher against Archdeacon Denison, and finally (though at a date subsequent to the commencement of the Essays case), the Bishop of Capetown against Mr. Long. Under these conditions Dr. Rowland Williams and Mr. Wilson were brought into court. In the Arches Court they were condemned to a penalty so trivial, in comparison with the reason for it, as to render justice a mockery and orthodoxy a bye-word. They appealed to the Judicial Committee, and, on appeal, the subject-matter of the contestation was so thoroughly rasped down, as at last to have assumed the shape, not of a judicial inquiry into the doctrines contained in the Essays of the two impugned writers, but of the bald question, whether Dr. Williams' and Mr. Wilson's views upon the inspiration of Scripture and the eternity of punishment were so 'economical' as to be beyond the elastic limits of the Articles, interpreted in all the literality of their vagueness. So handicapped, the Cambridge and the Oxford neologian easily won, and their winning was, without doubt, a grievous offence and misfortune to the Church, although the assertion of the alleged truth of Holy Scripture, and of the alleged measure of God's vengeance for sin, dropped from the lips of Lord Chancellor Westbury.
We do not say that those who were responsible for the suit ought to have foreseen this result. It was, as we have stated, a game of double or quits, and quits won. The indignation of Churchmen took a threefold form: Synodical action, a popular movement, and practical reform. The Synodical action, as all know, determined in a condemnation of 'Essays and Reviews' by the Convocation of Canterbury. It is open to those who demurred at the first to judicial proceedings, to regret that the attempt should have been made to counterbalance the formal, though unsatisfactory, sentence of the Judicial Committee by the indeterminate gravity of a Convocational censure. The Bishop of Ely had the courage, in the Upper House of Convocation, to raise his warning voice against the Committee on whose report the censure was based—a voice in which no one would pretend to find an unorthodox ring—while he protested against the attempt to fight erroneous opinion by inoperative authority. Convocation has not so securely made good its position—it has not so completely proved its equitable right to speak out in its unreformed condition—as to entitle it, without misgiving, to enter on proceedings which could not affect Dr. Williams' or Mr. Wilson's legal status, and could not stop the sale of one copy of these Essays, but which might bring down upon Convocation, yet struggling into position, the enmity of powers mightier, if not more righteous, than itself. The Committee of Inquiry was named, their report duly presented, and then the censure founded on that report passed both Houses of Convocation, although the division in the Lower House showed, out of a minority of twenty, such names as those of Archdeacons Thorp, Sandford, Allen, Hale, Hony, Moore, and Lord Artliur Hervey, and of Canons Blakesley, Harvey, and Selwyn; none, surely, men tainted with suspicion of unbelief. Happily for the credit of the Church, Convocation was not long left in the wrong, if in the wrong it ever was. A few days only elapsed, and it found itself reinstated on the pedestal of moral dignity, strong enough to despise or to forgive the ribald buffoonery with which, from the woolsack, the Lord High Chancellor attacked that venerable institution through its most brilliant member.
A popular movement, which we counted as the second element in the opposition provoked by Lord Westbury's report, on which the Judicial Committee's Judgment was founded, had simultaneously come into play. The first form it took was that of a declaration affirmatory of the doctrines impugned by the Chancellor, which was signed by eleven thousand of the clergy. All that we desire to say of this declaration is, that we are very glad that each signer was not called upon to give his own gloss on the declaration, and that all these glosses were not published in the brochure which recorded the signatures. The idea which undoubtedly underlay a vast number, perhaps a preponderating majority, of the signatures, was one which merited all respect—the notion that whereas the Faith of the Church had sustained damage by the pronouncement of the Judicial Committee, therefore a vast, albeit informal, counter assertion would purge the offence and neutralise the damage. Our own impression is, either that the Church of England cannot have so deeply sinned the sin of Jeroboam as these excellent people believe, or that the remedy which they propose is inadequate to the ill. Either the Essay upon the Essays, delivered by the Chancellor, is parasitical to the Church, or else if it be the formal voice of the Church, informal protests cannot neutralise its venom. We derive our confidence from holding the first position. Openly since the Gorham judgment, implicitly long before, the Church of England has lived a double life. Her ordinal and her formularies insure her orders and sacraments. The Catholic Creeds are hers, and the language of Catholic tradition overflows in her ritual and symbolic writings. This is her inward life. Her outward one, the life of the 'Established Church,' has, to say the least, been a tangle of inextricable inconsistencies; yet the inward life has not been submerged by this complication, but, on the contrary, all adown the times of the greatest entanglement, it has, for the last thirty years, manifested itself in more and more salient demonstrations of tender yet strong vitality.
After all, the theory of this double life is not a greater difficulty, we should be almost inclined to say that it was a less one, than that of Anglicanism itself, viewed in its most characteristic aspect of the assertion of the possibility of an outwardly divided Catholic Church. The Roman assault on our position always begins, and often ends, with the denial of that possibility. Our rejoinder is that its possibility proves itself by facts. Such a premise must be fertile in conclusions, and these conclusions can hardly tend in the way of unity. We beg that we may not be misunderstood, A divided Christendom, or a national Church with variances between its inward and its outward life, are equally misfortunes. But they are misfortunes which must be faced and accepted by the man who holds to the English Church, nothing wavering. When England is on its trial as against Rome, or Greece, or Irvingism, or that ignis fatuus a 'Free Church,' other considerations come in; but 1850 ought to have taught Churchmen the dangers of choosing their physicians from men who are experimenting on the vitality of the body which they are professing to cure.
The contrast of the inward and the outward lives was not unmanifest during the past summer in the pastorals with which the two Archbishops addressed the Church and the public, in free criticism, well argued and congruously framed, upon the Judgment. The publication of these documents led to the preparation of an address of thanks to the primates for their really excellent publications. The address was, as far as its terms went, quite unexceptionable, and it received at first starting the signatures of persons who concluded that it was to be confined to the select few who might be supposed to have some reasonable comprehension of the writings on either side. But no sooner was this nucleus of names obtained, than the document was sown broadcast through the land, addressed to clergymen and to church-wardens, to gather up all or any signatures of men or women who might be induced to thank the archbishops for issuing two brochures, which many of them never had read, nor meant to read, and could not understand if they did read them, in reply to obnoxious writings which they equally never had and never meant to read, and, if they did read them, could not understand. How many doubts this fresh advertisement of the Essays might raise to one which it could allay, never seems to have occurred to the promoters. However, 137,000 signatures were obtained—no great number, if it really were that crucial movement for Christianity itself, which the promoters seemed to assume—and the Archbishops received and replied to the memorialists in speeches in which the practical and wise advice to live down Essayist infidelity by unwearying zeal in the missionary work of the Church shone out conspicuous.
It was natural that the Judicial Committee, being the fons et origo of the scandals and troubles, should have provoked attention to its own composition, and to the possibility of practical remedy for the future in the way of its reform. The same phenomenon took place after the Gorham judgment, but there the aggrieved party was not so numerous as in the present instance. As we have shown, the weakness of the moral obligation of the Church to believe in the Judicial Committee is the Church's gain. The reformers of the Court of Appeal will do well to see that their most praiseworthy efforts do not end in the formation of a Court of Appeal which, while it may be strong enough to demand compliance, is yet not so strong as to secure conviction for its dicta, nor so learned as to ensure the orthodoxy of those dicta. It must never be lost sight of, that infallibility is nowhere promised to any national Church in its collective form, and still less to its selected delegates. The weak side of the present demand of course is, that it comes from the party which has, however unrighteously, been beaten. However much the plea may be ostensibly and honestly one for a Letter form of Appellate Court, the subaudito, will always be felt, 'and one which may one of these days undo Lord Westbury's mischief.' If a new Court accordingly could be formed, and if it should happen some day to have to reconsider the same questions, and that the improved tribunal were to discover that Lord Westbury had so cunningly fenced round his dicta as to leave them formally unassailable in law, the Church indeed might, as a formal corporation, be the better for its new Court, but the authority of Lord Westbury's aberrations would be strengthened. We hope from the bottom of our heart that the intimations so plentifully cast about, of making this new Court a hustings' cry, and of strengthening that cry by general discussions of the deep doctrines involved in the Chancellor's report, were merely the strong ejaculations of wounded feeling. To those who appreciate how awfully solemn these questions are, and who have any acquaintance with the moral quality of electioneering, even at the best, the notion was indescribably painful. Even if such a cry were to succeed, its success would have been secured by throwing treasures, which ought for ever to have been reverently guarded, into the mire of the crowded street; it would have been an attempt to bolster up authority by an appeal to the most ignorant and most democratic form of mere opinion. Whispers, also, have occasionally been heard of a 'Free Church,' in default of a new Court. We are convinced that the idea has no more vitality about it than the similar one in 1850. In the mean while, its ventilation is an unmixed misfortune, especially when supported by gentlemen so sanguine as those who expect to be allowed to carry their Churches over with them.
The audacity of the Essayists was left far behind by the reckless and obtrusive Jacobinism of Bishop Colenso. Happily, the preface with which, after the manner of the 'Arabian Nights,' he produced his intelligent Zulu, as the cause of the subsequent narrative, went far, by its naive absurdity, to counteract much of the possible mischief of the ponderous lucubration. Still, the book was a scandal and an outrage, as well as a misfortune to the whole Christian Church, and the Bishop of Capetown deserves the thanks of all honest people for having taken energetic steps, in concert with his comprovincials, to release the diocese of Natal from the superintendence of its bewildered Bishop. The adequate cause, all things considered, existed there, in that centre of missionary work among the heathen, as it hardly did in the case of the two country incumbents who are resting under Lord Westbury's regis. But he had more than one way of acting. He has adopted the one which leaves the question at this moment to be solved by the always recurring Judicial Committee. This, of course, leads us anxiously to inquire how far Bishop Gray has been careful to maintain the due distinction between those spiritual attributes which Dr. Colenso was very certain never to get any court in England to reimpose upon Natalese or Zulus, and that tenure of his freehold in a queen-given bishopric, considered as a mere property, irrespective of ecclesiastical considerations, of which the court might naturally constitute itself the guardian. The Bishop had himself, not long before, sustained a defeat under rather similar circumstances, at the hands of Mr. Long. Mr. Long might have been to any extent contumacious, but the Judicial Committee held that the Bishop was not within his powers in interfering with his incumbency. It would have been dexterous policy in the Bishop of Capetown to have swung himself round into the position which Mr. Long had himself made for him, and left Dr. Colenso on the pavement of Whitehall, enjoying the temporalities of a despiritualised office. Had the Bishop, with his assessors, declared that Bishop Colenso's aberrations had rendered him unfit to exercise his duties until he had repented of those heresies, and had in consequence released his clergy from their allegiance to him, and delegated himself, as metropolitan, to undertake the supervision of the diocese of Natal until Dr. Colenso had made his recantation, we believe that he would have placed himself and the Church in that colony in a position, which might perhaps be, technically speaking, a little irregular, but which would be unassailable by any court, colonial or imperial. Of course we assume (as facts have since shown to be the case) that the metropolitan could rely on the Clergy of Natal to go with him. The fact that the Colonial Church, as an institution, has grown up simultaneously with, though independently of, that theory of responsible government in colonies which successive colonial secretaries have worked up, it is well, for reasons of expediency, never to be too eager to bring the patents of colonial dioceses under the scrutiny of jealous tribunals; more we might say, but adhuc sub judice lis est, and we forbear.
Happily, no other colony has been disturbed by a doctrinal conflict. The Australian Church, as far as we can gather, seems holding its own, and a little more, without signal successes or signal reverses, founding here and there a new diocese, and completing works such as Sydney Cathedral. In New Zealand itself, missionary work, in face of the sad war now raging, must pretty well be at a standstill; not so, we trust, Bishop Patteson's labours in the dark islands. The Canadian Church is quietly consolidating itself under the metropolitical rule of the Bishop of Montreal. As far as we can gather, the Diocese of Huron is the only antipathetic element in the province. We conclude that the fusion of British America into a political federation will be sooner or later followed by the adhesion of the dioceses of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, to Bishop Fulford's province. The Bishopric of British Columbia is, we trust, itself the germ of another province, and already the formation of a second Bishopric within its limits is under discussion. Of the Central African Mission, embalmed as it is in the memory of Mackenzie, we do not see our way to speak at length. There are a new Bishop and a new start, and this start has the advantage, which is as important in spiritual as in military strategies, of a base of operations. A confirmatory illustration of this truth has come to hand from another corner of the mission field. Every one knows that Great Britain holds in fee a small dependent island of Borneo, called Labuan, and that Great Britain has moreover great social, if not political, influence in the mainland of the island through the acquisition by Sir James Brooke of the vassal lordship of the district of Sarawak. Every one ought also to know that the Church of England has followed up this arrangement by the mission of a Bishop, who is on one side a diocesan of the Colonial Church as Bishop of Labuan, and on the other the head of an independent Church in communion with the English Church within the principality of Sarawak. The appointment of the Bishop of Sarawak under the seal of Rajah Brooke was as formal as that of the Bishop of Labuan by Queen Victoria.
Bishop Macdougall is too practical a man not to have realized the advantages and the peculiarities of his double position. Finding his mission ripe for decisive action, he held, on the last 23d of May, a Synod of the Diocese of Sarawak, at which, besides himself, six clergymen were present; no large number, but enough to debate and to legislate. The proceedings, of course, began by an address from the Bishop, in which he pointed out that, 'as a complete Missionary Church in a foreign territory, we are free to act for ourselves.' The use which Bishop Macdougall makes of this freedom is to pronounce that, 'as Bishop of Labuan I am subject to the Archiepiscopal See of Canterbury, and as Bishop of Sarawak I consider myself under the same patriarchal jurisdiction.' What the synod had to do was to organise a provisional form of constitution for the diocese; and, 'among the matters which it was desirable to take first in hand, were forms of shorter services for daily use in Dyak Churches,' as well as forms of prayer and thanksgiving for seed and harvest time, together with 'rules of penance and discipline, with some suitable form for the public admonition of offenders and the readmission of penitents to communion.' Further on the Bishop observes: 'I hope the day is not far distant when our synod will be enlarged, not only by the addition of fresh clergymen, but also of good and pious laymen who take an interest in our work.' This synod, so convened, sat for three days, and the chief practical results of its deliberations were the ordering of a preparation, 'from the Anglican Prayer-book, of an Order for Common Prayer for the use of Dyak Churches,' comprising the special preparation of a Preface to the Order of Confirmation 'to be used at the confirmation of persons baptized as adults,' the appointment of a Committee (a specially wise step) to 'agree on certain theological terms to be used in all translations,' and an inquiry into the pre-existent customs of the tribes among whom the Missionaries were working. The Church of Sarawak is a very small one, but its recent action has been so wise as to deserve particular notice as a model of catholic and sensible missionary regulation. Humanly speaking, its Bishop could not have done what he has done without the base of operations which he possesses. It is much to be hoped that that base may be widened and strengthened by the transfer to him of Singapore, with its large and wealthy, civilized and European population, and its spacious church, and its well-ordered system, as the future seat of his see—a change loudly demanded at Singapore itself by Churchmen and Presbyterians alike. If Singapore be hopeless, then Penang would also be an excellent centre. In the case of the mission to Honolulu, the antecedent civilization of the Sandwich Islands, their imperfect Christianization, and the royal power, together furnished the base. For a moment the king's death seemed to have thrown all back; but his brother and successor, an abler, we imagine, though hitherto not so devoted a man, seems thoroughly inclined to follow in his predecessor's footsteps.
Church matters in the United States have, to the casual English reader, passed under a cloud since the Guardian's correspondent has been pleased to fill his inkhorn with blood. Now and then news of good omen reaches us, as when we hear that Dr. Coxe has been elected Assistant-Bishop of Western New York, or that, in spite of Bishop Potter's high-and-dry opposition, the New York Convention has been discussing the division of dioceses and the provincial system. At other times, English Churchmen are pained and humiliated to hear of eminent Churchmen, of whom they expected better things, giving the public accolade to the brutal and 'infamous' Butler. Next autumn the triennial Convention will reassemble, and we hope that it may separate after a legislative session spent in something more useful than the lengthened word fights of 1862. Of the Church in the (Confederate States we know still less; but, without precise information, we may make sure that the Clergy and the members of that Church are strengthening and ennobling their countrymen in their glorious struggle.
It would be a great oversight on our part if we were not to make some reference to the crisis through which our Church in Scotland has passed, and which has resulted, on the one hand, in the revision of its canons, and, on the other, in the tardily granted repeal of the prohibitory enactments with which the government of George II. was pleased to punish its faithful loyalty to the Stuarts, by refusing privileges which the converted Roman Catholic priest can claim for himself. All in all, that Church has full reason to be thankful, though not to rest. The Scottish Eucharistic Office is, to be sure, deposed from its status of 'primary authority,' which it would have been difficult to have sustained, but it is authorized nevertheless, and thus the Anglican Church still enjoys throughout all its branches the advantage of possessing within its communion, though rarely and locally used, a form of liturgy in which the primitive and Catholic doctrine is so grandly enounced, in words which, from not being identical with those of our own Prayer-book, are on that very account valuable as a support and an explanation of the English Use.
We may be asked. Do you, then, who favour this breach of absolute identity between the English and the Scottish Prayer-books, and who quote with approbation the reforming resolutions of the Sarawak Synod, acquiesce, as in consistency bound, in the agitation of those who, truly alleging the normal imperfection of human things, wish to see whether the 'Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments' cannot be mended? Our answer to this plea is, as the lawyers would say, by way of demurrer,—We refuse to entertain the question itself until we find that it is put by an authority which comes into court with legitimate credentials to act as our interrogator. The agitation for Prayer-book reform has not always been prompted by any real, simple desire to improve the book in its literary character, to make it more practically sound and useable, or to import into it a deeper and wider learning. Undisguisedly it has, from first to last, been a dodge of the party which is bent upon excising or cutting down the assertion of sacramental doctrine which runs through the formularies of the Church of England. From crochetty Mr. Bingham, downwards, all the reformers harp on that string. They may have been a little too early outspoken in the way they have shown what part of the Prayer-book it is which they dislike, but they evince much worldly wisdom in agitating for a change in the formularies. Their conviction is, that the party which will, by the laws that govern all great revolutions, be almost certain to win, if the lines of the status in quo be given up, must be themselves, and not the persons who are enough to imperil that status in quo in hopes of attaining something more catholic. The catholicity of the existing Church of England, explicit or implicit, is, we believe, quite strong enough to keep the book, as it is, afloat: it is not strong enough to guide it through a revision.
We do not for a moment pretend to say that we think the Prayer-book is perfect—we have our own notions as to the points in which it might be improved. For example, it would be all the better if it possessed some special service for Christmas Eve, proper psalms and a proper preface for the Epiphany, lessons for Ash-Wednesday, and psalms for other days in Holy Week than merely Good Friday. But we are not so enamoured of the policy of 'coming and being killed,' that, for the chance of carrying these and maybe other alterations, we should risk turning over the book to the tender mercies of Lord Ebury and his compeers. We have little doubt that, when the mêlée came, other persons would flock in, whose projects of catholic modification far outran ours. The prospects of success for their claims would be nil; but not so their influence for harm. Their plans would setup John Bull's No-Popery susceptibilities, and thus their urgency would assuredly play the game of the ultra-Protestant innovators. The present Prayer-book is a compromise, binding both Church and State; and holding it to be a compromise, we refuse, as the world now is, to have its contents opened up within the limits of the English and Irish Establishments; although in countries such as Sarawak, where the Establishment 'runneth not,' and where the liturgical legislators act from practical and not polemical motives, we warmly welcome any serious endeavour to adapt it to the wants of a heathen population. The more elastic employment of our actual formularies, especially the now universal recognition of the separate use of the Litany and of the Eucharistic service, is sufficient for the present necessity; and it behoves impatient reformers on either side to try a little longer and a little harder what they can do by those simple means, before they busy themselves to pull down the house under which they have so long rested.
We feel the inexpediency of touching the Prayer-book so strongly, that we are inclined to stand aghast at the facility with which the Archbishop of Canterbury, generally so cautious, threw on the floor of the House of Lords, without consultation with his brethren, or with the remaining clergy or laity of the Church, a promise to open up the Table of Lessons. We are not afraid to say why we are frightened at this movement. We do not think that the selections from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, or Ezekiel are absolutely the best chapters that could be chosen, or that there is any conclusive reason for throwing out Chronicles and the Song of Songs. But we should look upon it as a great misfortune to the Church of England if the use of the Apocrypha in her public worship were to be called into question. The Apocrypha is the Apocrypha, and the books contained in it are Deuterocanonical. All parties agree to that. Then comes the divergence. The innovationists protest that, because they are so, they should be made sealed books to the Christian congregation. The more conservative minded Churchman looks to his Thirty-Nine Articles, and desires, like S. Jerome and the English Church, still to have them 'read for example of life and instruction of manners.' It is nobody's business to settle the precise value of that most venerable collection. It is sufficient to say that the Universal Church has ever rated that volume very highly—in some portions of it, and in later times, too highly; that the Church of England in her lectionary orders the Apocrypha to be read, and in her Articles of Religion gives an excellent reason why that reading should take place. To expunge the Apocrypha now would be wilfully to dissever a link between our own actual Church and the purer Church of undivided Christendom. Is it, then, cowardice for us to say that we are sorry to see the status in quo of the lectionary given up in face of a fanatical party, which is openly and vehemently clamouring for the condemnation of the Apocrypha?
We have imperceptibly found ourselves drifting into the consideration of the ritual side of Church prospects. This leads us to our last topic, the sensational movement. It may not unreasonably be guessed, that we do not intend to let this section pass without venturing some opinion upon the doings of the soi-disant Brother Ignatius. Before, however, we come to him, we have one or two points which we must note. First, we venture to give a couple of extracts from the 'Notitia Liturgica,' appended to 'The Union Review Almanack, an Ecclesiastical Kalendar for the Year of Grace, 1865':—'On Sundays and festivals, incense should be used at evensong during the singing of the Magnificat. This canticle—a daily memorial of the Incarnation—being its' (evensong's, we suppose) 'special feature, some of those who are taking part in the service should indicate this by gathering together in front of the altar while it is being chanted, taking up for the time being such a position as that described here.' Then follows a diagram indicating, among other points, the 'priest officiating' before the altar, as if he were celebrating, two 'acolytes,' and the 'lectern (facing East)' with two 'cantors' at it, besides choristers. This is followed by directions for a 'silent' benediction, with threefold crossings of the incense, and the incensing of the altar, as features of the Magnificat There is something grandiose and scenic in the audacious unwisdom of this recommendation; but what are we to say to the following in the directions for baptism?—'The violet stole is assumed at the commencement, and laid aside for the white stole immediately before the prayer for blessing the water.'
We are not so vain as to dream of bringing the clergy who use such observances, of which we have only given two examples, to a conviction of the peril of the game which they are playing. We do not flinch from the reproaches which may be cast upon us for warning them of it. When men are blind, daylight comes in vain, and the promoters of this ritual are blind to those elements of the actual character of the Englishman, which make him shrink from and fear the minute and the 'tinsel,' as he would call it, while willingly welcoming the stately and the reverential in the worship of Almighty God. Sensational ritual is a direct invitation to a popular outbreak, such as that which disgraced St. George's-in-the-East, and, as is usual in such cases, those who are no way responsible will be sure to suffer in the confusion. But even if an outbreak should be staved off, these proceedings will assuredly, if not intentionally create (if, indeed, it be not more correct to say that they are created by) a sectarian spirit in those who substitute sensation for the simple and legitimate working out of existing forms and rubrics. The churches in which such worship as we have quoted is conducted—the churches in which the afternoon 'litany' is stuffed and overlaid by some other litany, taken straight from a Latin original, and publicly sung in defiance of Church order and the Act of Uniformity—may be assemblies of devout men, as certainly they are not Roman Catholic or Greek Churches. But in spirit they are only to a modified degree limbs of the great English Church.
If they go on in quiet, which is possible, their doing so may be but a proof of that relaxation of order which is not the least alarming token of the present condition of the English Church, Possibly the strain which saves them from molestation may be itself a wrench to the already weakened cords, while they owe their own impunity to a frame of mind which tolerates and applauds priests of our Church joining with hot-headed laymen and nonconformists, preaching in Antinomian rhapsodies, upon the stages of the minor theatres and in the orchestras of dancing saloons. No break of order, no dodging with the spirit or the letter of an existing regulation can ever be perpetrated, without thereby affording a precedent to those who desire to break that order and dodge those formularies in another direction. Nor can we blame them if from their own stand-point they recognise and take an advantage which ought to be impossible to the party of order.
It is far from our wish to counsel any timid repudiation of ritualism. It is because we believe that ritualism is the natural law of the English Church's worship, and because we believe that Englishmen are coming round to that conviction far more extensively and far more completely than we could have thought possible some years since, that we regret the blindness of those who would drive back this happy tendency by overlaying the legitimate ritual of our Church with a mass of startling observances, which to the common mind speak nothing but Rome. What we desire to see in general use would be a code of ritual, of which the salient features should be (1) the adoption of musical modulation (we use the term in its largest sense) as far as practicable in all parts of Divine Service which are not lections or exhortations, as the most congruous accents wherewith to approach the footstool of Heaven; (2) the antiphonal method of performing the choral service, involving of course surplices, and the use of the chancel as the 'clerks' place; and, (3) at the Eucharistic celebration, the eastward posture of the celebrant, with due subordination in the place of his assistants—the whole encased in churches to any degree (for Englishmen will gladly accept substantial æsthetics) beautiful in architecture, rich in material, ornate with fresco, mosaic, carving, and stained glass.
Such a ritual as this, so framed in the pile which is consecrated to its use, is a worthy offering of man's devotion to his Lord. Such a ritual shows forth completely, though not elaborately, that Incarnation, of which the Sacraments, in their full significance, fully recognised, are the appointed complement. More than that may be beautiful, may be symbolical, may be touching, may be popular with the few, but it is not essential, nor is it practical towards the conversion or the growth in grace of the millions whom, first of all, we have to look to in our own generation.
We say this, well aware that it may be retorted on us, that all which is now being carried out in the most pronounced churches, is but the filling up of the picture foreshadowed in such works as the 'Hierurgia Anglicana,' nay, that the pages of the 'Hierurgia Anglicana' contain startling evidence that ritual of what would now be considered the most impossible description, had been in occasional use in the early days of the Reformed Church of England. We should not shrink from the challenge, while, as to its personal side, we should observe that growth in the perception of the possible among writers who did not wait to be old to take up the pen, is not tergiversation. As to its historical truth it is a fact that such ritual did once prevail—how extensively is not the question. But it prevailed, with several other things likewise, the end of all being that an Archbishop went to the scaffold on Tower Hill, and a King at Whitehall, and that when King and Bishop were brought in triumph back, the Churchmen of the second Caroline era—even the grand relics of the older time, such as John Cosin—seemed with one consent to drop ritual like a hot coal, content, in their wisdom or their apprehensions, to preserve the Prayerbook. The ritual with which we close may be bald compared with that of Elizabeth's, or Andrewes', or Laud's chapel, but it is sumptuous alongside of that which contented Jeremy Taylor, Sancroft, or Ken. It is, moreover, we venture to say, incommensurably better than either as a whole, when the standing accompaniments of the structure, as churches may now be built, in their art and in their arrangements, are taken into account. We believe that the thing which in some people's eyes most hopelessly stamps the parish priest as 'not going far enough,' is his not lighting the candles at Holy Communion. We have no intention of saying one word on the abstract beauty, significance, or desirableness of the rite; what we have to urge absolves us from handling that topic. The fact is, that those who held the procuration of ritual-loving Churchmen, as managers of the famous Liddell and Westerton suit, early in the case, and with the consent of those they represented, gave up this lighting to save the candlesticks. Dr. Lushington's Judgment, in the lowest Court, went all against them in every particular, except the grudging non-prohibition of the chancel screen, and the allowance of candles on the Lord's Table, provided they were not lighted, except when actually wanted for light. The managers, after grave consideration, felt bound to accept this latter measure of success, rather than, by asking for more, risk losing the whole in an appeal the success of which was so very doubtful. So Dr. Lushington's Judgment on these points was closed with: the rest, being appealed against, went to the Arches Court, to meet with a second defeat; and then to the Judicial Committee, with what success is now matter of history. Bystanders might differently appraise the legal value of this incident, but those who were personally connected with it are fairly committed to uphold it in its integrity. In other respects a judgment which has exalted the cross in its place of honour, fenced the chancel, accepted the recognition of the Christian seasons in the changed altar vestments, and restored the table of prothesis to our sanctuaries, stands out a solid gain to the orthodox side.
Since this important settlement the Church has made good its advantage in another field where success might have seemed least likely, the general and semi-authoritative adoption of a hymnal, embodying, along with popular modern productions, translations of the masterpieces of the collective hymnology of the Western Church from the earliest ages. Twenty-seven years ago Dr. Newman, still firm in his allegiance to the Church of England, wrote, in a preface to a collection of Latin hymns, extracted from the Paris Breviary:—
'Our Church, with the remarkable caution which she displays so often, has not attempted it. She has received the Psalms and Songs from Scripture; and, rejecting the Roman hymns, has substituted in their stead, not others, but a metrical version of the Psalms. This abstinence has led on the one hand to some of her members on their own responsibility supplying the deficiency, and has incurred the complaint of others who argued that she ought to have taken on herself what, being right in itself, will certainly be done by private hands, if not by the fitting authority. But in truth, when it was necessary for her to abandon those she had received, nothing was left to her but to wait till she should receive others, as in the course of ages she had already received, by little and little. . . .
'We began the world again. This is the proper answer to inconsiderate complaints and impatient interference. There have before now been divines who could write a Liturgy in thirty-six hours. Such is not our Church's way. She is not the empiric to make things to order, and to profess to anticipate the course of nature, which, under grace, as under Providence, is slow. She waits for that majestic course to perfect in its own good time, what she cannot extort from it; for the gradual drifting of precious things upon her shore, now one and now another, out of which she may complete her rosary and enrich her beads, beads and rosary more pure and true than those which at the command of duty she flung away.'
Now-a-days the churches in which 'Hymns, Ancient and Modern,' are in use, are absolutely innumerable, and the publisher boasts that he has sold a million copies, while some of the translations, such as 'Jerusalem the Golden,' have per saltum taken their places among our classics by the side of the old familiar Christmas and Easter hymns. Too much praise cannot be given for this success to Mr. Neale, who is notoriously the chief translator of the ancient hymns (mostly adapted from the 'Hymnal Noted' of the Ecclesiological Society), which have sprung into vogue. Still, the soil must have been prepared to receive the seed, or else it never would have germinated so rapidly. If to the churches where the ritual is altogether correct, be added those in which modified reforms have been adopted, such as chancels properly fitted though not properly used, or else filled with unvested choirs, and those in which, while all other things are satisfactory, the officiator occupies a sideward prayer-desk; if, too, the structural and decorative beauty, enhanced, restored, or given from county to county, to churches old and new, under all conceivable circumstances, be reckoned up, it will not be too much to say that the worship of the English Church is undergoing a silent revolution.
That, however, which is hardest to find in the best appointed church is the one thing which, in its distinctive simplicity, is really of the deepest importance—the eastward posture of the celebrant, showing forth (as his predecessors of all times have done) the Lord's death till He come; not presiding, as a Zwinglian minister, at the head of a table spread for a mere 'love-feast.' We venture to suggest to those who are so eager to group the singers of the Magnificat in a tableau vivant, and to change stoles during the baptismal service, that it would be a less sensational, but a far more useful task, quietly to co-operate in inducing the clergy of England throughout the land to acquiesce in the adoption of that attitude at the most solemn moment of the most sacred rite, which alone coincides with the traditions of the Catholic Church, and alone corresponds with the teachings of the ordinal which they are working out. The timid Churchman, who is doubtful where to stand at the prayer of consecration, will certainly not be won to the right position by the perusal of the 'Union Review Almanack.'
The sensation movement in the Church of England reaches its climax in the proceedings of that active young deacon, Mr. Leycester Lyne, who calls himself Brother Ignatius, and signs 'O. S. B,' How Mr. Lyne dresses, and what his pretensions are, we need not fill out our pages to detail, for he is one of the lions of the day. Supposing that he could have excited himself up to the conviction that a revival of monasticism tout cru was the likeliest method of working a missionary enterprise in the Church of England, we cannot understand the logical process by which Mr. Lyne persuaded himself that he ought to be, or that he could be, a Benedictine. The Benedictine order is, by many centuries, the oldest existing corporation in the world—at least, if we except the college of Cardinals, who have so far deviated, as the Benedictines have not done, from their primitive constitution. This venerable body has its visible centre at Monte Cassino; its rules, method of admission, tenets, and work, cut out. Gregory and Austin were Benedictines. A man may like the Benedictines, and he may, if he thinks it wise, imitate them, but, unless he belongs to the genuine corporation, he has no more right to put O. W. B. after his name, than he has to sign himself 'Alderman.' But to let this pass: Mr, Lyne wears gracefully the habit of the order to which he does not belong, he is good-tempered; and he has shown, by his debût at the Bristol Church Congress, that he possesses the talents of a ready, though not a deep, popular speaker—a fact which he evinced by the adroitness with which he filled so much of his allotted ten minutes with a picture of the spiritual needs of our great towns, which would have been about as appropriate in the mouth of an advocate of theatre-preaching or of a ranter's revival, as in that of a pseudo-Benedictine. Consequently, he has been able to realize a certain amount of evanescent popularity, or, at all events, of toleration, which other pioneers of Church extremes, such as Mr. Brian King, have, from their deficiency in the arts of conciliation, been totally unable to compass. One reason for this may be found in the fact that, whereas they all along professed, and honestly though unwisely strove, to keep within the littera scripta of Church law, however obsolete or unworkable, Mr. Lyne has fairly kicked over the traces and stands on a system which has for its foundation the repudiation of all precedent, order, or law, except the fiat of the 'Superior' of the English Benedictine 'order.' The bare statement of his position will absolve us from the imputation of having put the case too strongly against him. Mr. Lyne is in deacon's orders only, not merely being no priest as yet, but never, we believe, a candidate for priest's orders. He is casually resident in the diocese of a Bishop whose licence he has never held, and who has placed him under an inhibition. He has brought round him a very small knot of young men, several of whom, we imagine, are still in the eyes of the law infants, and he has become, together with his companions, occupant of a house in Norwich, the see of the inhibiting prelate, within a parish, whose incumbent, we fancy, he has never consulted. No doubt the occupants of a house can, within their own walls, dress as they like, say what prayers they like, and call themselves Benedictines or Bonzes as they please. So long as they keep their own doors shut on themselves they influence only each other, and they will be reckoned at their own value by outside public opinion; but when a knot of gentlemen, calling themselves Benedictines, without even so much as a priest belonging to their community able to claim orders (though they be but orders without jurisdiction), throw open a chapel fitted up within that house to the general world, for the constant celebration of a novel and an unauthorized system of public worship, partly, we hear, composed of an extravagant representation of the Eucharistic Office of the Church of England, partly of an edited revival of the Benedictine Breviary, and partly, and lastly, of the introduction of one of the most unprimitive rites of modern Romanism—a rite which cannot be used in the Church of England without direct violation of the existing formularies—the 'Benediction of' (i.e. by) 'the' (necessarily reserved) 'Blessed Sacrament'—then, we say, that Mr. Lyne and his friends are not in a position in which they can claim the silent forbearance of those Churchmen whose wish and whose work is, by patience and prudence, no less than by straightforwardness, to preserve, to strengthen, and transmit the Church of England, with its collective doctrines and Catholic worship, unimpaired.
Mr. Lyne bespoke the sympathies of Churchmen at Bristol on the score of the practical character of his work; and Lord Harrowby mildly responded with the question, 'Why run the risk of making this work unpopular and unfruitful by the unwonted and startling garb in which you perform it?' But we distinctly say, that this claim can only be accepted with great allowances in face of devotions so lengthy and so exhausting (involving the night offices, with '1 a.m.' set down as the hour for rising) as those in which the Norwich fraternity indulges. It is an historical fact, that the vast and complicated structure of worship, which in an abridged form was therefore termed the Breviary, was the product of ages in which printing was unknown and newspapers unthought of. With their marvellous interchange of Scripture, fathers, and memoirs, of Psalm and hymn, of versicle and antiphon, these services were a body of literature as much as a system of worship. They were the literature which suited the capacities and the antecedents of those good unlettered folk who for so many centuries formed the staple of the Benedictine body. No doubt the features of these services which are doctrinally most objectionable, are, on the other hand, in a literary point of view, picturesque contrasts to the rest. In short, as, century after century, the Breviary deteriorated in catholicity, it became more abundant in the poetic element—may we be allowed to say, in sensationism? True to its principle of never owning a change if it can help it, Rome, (except during a brief moment of reform under Quignonius' inspiration) has never in so many words confessed that the age of general literature had antiquated the earlier and more lengthy worship. But in its practice Rome has made brief work with the Breviary, by the allowance of anticipation, lumping, private recitation, and so forth; while the modern counterparts of the old orders, such as the Society of the Jesuits and the Congregation of the Oratory, enjoy immunity from the formal and continued use of the Breviary. We can, therefore, call it nothing short of absurdity for a set of self-willed youths to revive such usages in the English Church, and then go out begging for help because the English alleys are surging with vice and ignorance.
We are not talking without book in our description of Mr. Lyne's ritual observances. We have before us two newspapers, one of which contains a programme by the 'Brother' himself, the other a long description of the life and services in 'S. Mary and S. Dunstan's Priory,' by an enthusiastic visitor, fenced by a somewhat faint disclaimer of responsibility from the editor. Mr. Lyne puts down the 'Convent Mass' for 9.15 a.m. which the visitor describes as 'celebrated in the prescribed vestments, and with every possible ritual adjunct' It will be noted that this is not the daily Communion of Mr. Hillyard's church of S. Lawrence, by inhibiting which the Bishop of Norwich put himself so thoroughly in the wrong, but a daily Eucharist celebrated in Mr, Lyne's own chapel, but open to the world, under, we conclude, the ordinary jurisdiction of the 'Superior' himself, certainly under no other. Mr. Lyne, it must not be forgotten, is only a deacon, his companions laymen; where, then, does he find the celebrant? This the papers keep prudently in the dark, and if we could we should not attempt to find it out. It is sufficient for us to know that Mr. Lyne himself publishes to the world, through the newspapers, the fact of the daily 'mass,' and on that we have no hesitation in saying that somebody or somebodies of higher order than the diaconate must have very eccentric ideas on the subject of mission and of canonical obedience. We confess to considerable pleasure at having seen in the papers the other day that Deacon Marchmont, if he is a Deacon, was had up before a London magistrate for conducting a very ritualistic and elaborate service, without holding the licence either of an Anglican clergyman or of a dissenting minister. To be sure, Mr. Marchmont added the profanity, of which we do not believe Mr, Lyne could be capable, of himself pretending to consecrate the Holy Eucharist. But, as a matter of Church order, we do not see how the public but unauthorized services of Deacon Lyne are one whit more defensible than those of Deacon Marchmont, who himself, be it noted, takes up the ritualistic side, although, we gather, confining himself to the Prayer-book service. Mr. Lyne's services are, we distinctly say, not claustral and not intended to be claustral. He boasts of the congregation which throngs his services being '800, who would be many more if there were room for them.' Why, then, his admirers will say, hinder what is so manifestly the Lord's work? In reply, we have only to say that, being members of the Church of England, we do not and we cannot see our way to clergy of that Church flying in the face of its plainest laws in view of any supposed expediency. The theatre preachings have been crowded, but we are unable to applaud them; Mr. Marchmont has, we believe, been very popular, yet we denounce him. It is said that we ought to take warning by the mistake made by the Bishops in Wesley's case. Mr. Lyne is exactly inverting John Wesley's career. Wesley began by converting tens of thousands to a religious life, and afterwards defied all Church order, and spurned all Church authority. Mr. Lyne begins where Wesley ended, for we have yet to learn his successful missionary work in the colliery or the crowded alleys.
But to return to the 'Priory.' The visitor tells us —
'On Saturday I was privileged to be at one of the most striking services I ever witnessed; namely, the weekly Benediction of the most Holy Sacrament. This is held on Saturday evening, the Superior told me, because, being an evening when it is difficult for most persons to come to service, only those who really are devout will take the trouble to come, and the Blessed Sacrament is thus not exposed to a crowd of irreverent gazers. The chapel was quite full of almost exclusively the faithful. Numbers had brought simple bouquets of flowers to adorn the altar, and it was a very pleasing sight to see them present their offerings, one after the other, to the Superior, who twice had to leave the chapel with his arms loaded with bouquets; about thirty bunches must, at least, have been thus presented. When Vespers were finished a procession entered by the west door of the chapel, consisting of—1. The crucifer, attended by acolytes bearing torches; 2. cantors in copes; 3. priest in cope; 4. officiating priest in cope and stole, attended by two boys as cope-bearers. These proceeded to the altar, which was quite resplendent with candles and flowers. The Sacred Host was taken out of the Tabernacle and censed, while O Salutaris in English was sung; then followed the Litany of our Lord, and hymns and collects in honour of—1. The Blessed Sacrament; 2. The Festival of All Saints; 3. St. Benedict. Ave Maria was then sung, after which the Benediction was given by the priest making the sign of the Cross with the Host over the people, during which "Tantum ergo" was sung, the bells rang, and clouds of incense descended. All the hymns, &c. were in English, and I may remark that all direct petitions to our Lady and the Saints are rigorously excluded from the offices, though mere salutations are permitted, such as the "Ave Maria," for the part commencing Sancta Maria is not said; this, all may not be aware, is not found in the old Sarum books.'
We need hardly say that Benediction is among the novelties of Rome's later system, and we trust that we need not add that it is one whose introduction amongst us, except by a subterfuge, is inadmissible. As to its own intrinsic import, we cannot do better than quote what we said of it exactly fourteen years ago while treating of the tendencies of modern Romanism, when certainly there was nothing which we less anticipated than that we should have to protest in the Christian Remembrancer against an attempt to introduce that rite into the Church of England.
'The Real Presence, irrespective of the Sacrifice which makes it, (a development of the idea of Transubstantiation as distinct from the Catholic verity of that awful presence;) a doctrine out of which has grown already the exorbitant importance given to the rite of "Benediction of (or rather by) the Blessed Sacrament;" a rite, the essence of which is the blessing of the flock by bringing forward the Hostia to an increased proximity with them.'—Christian Remembrancer, for January, 1851, Art. Oratorianism and Ecclesiology.
As an argument ad hominem, we cannot refrain from pointing out the great ignorance or inconsistency of Mr. Lyne, who justified his choice of the Benedictine rule at Bristol by its primitive character, thus eking out his ritual with so modern a Roman invention.
The fact of the Deacon Superior taking upon himself to conclude the day's service by giving, from his seat, solemn 'precatory' benedictions not only to the young gentlemen who, like himself, assume the Benedictine disguise, but to all who care to kneel for it, is a noteworthy fact towards forming conclusions as to the animus of the entire movement. The gushing visitor believed that he was witnessing a revival of the 'ages of faith' when he beheld a civic magistrate prostrate before Mr. Lyne. We are not familiar with the composition of the Norwich bench, but if the entire corporation were successively to genuflex themselves before the Superior, we should still be compelled to ask, who gave him his authority. One thing we do know, and that is, that if Mr. Lyne finds his prototype in the old Italian Church, he will do so not among the great Benedictines, but among the unscrupulous Franciscans. He calls himself a monk, and he simulates a friar.
Our opposition to Mr. Lyne's chapel doings proceeds from no dissatisfaction at the already established usage of services, external to the Prayer-book, being often employed in the domestic chapels and oratories of private houses, and of institutions religious or charitable. These services, to be admissible, must fulfil five necessary conditions. 1. Their spirit must be that of the Prayer-book. 2. They must honestly be meant for the use of the inmates of the house in which they are held, and not as a substitute for Church services to an outside public. 3. Even to those who use them, they must be subordinate in importance to Church worship. 4. Where they occur in formal establishments, they must be sanctioned or connived at by the same authority which sanctions or connives at the establishment itself. 5. They must strictly be of the lesser order of worship, the celebration of the Eucharist (except in the accidental case of a sick communion) being out of the question, unless with the express licence of the Ordinary. Mr. Lyne's chapel system flies in the face of every one of these conditions, and so its practical effect, of course, will be to check the timely growth in England, on English principles, of an elastic system of succursal worship.
We do not predict a very long existence for the pseudo-Benedictine brotherhood itself, although we see that its promoters boast that its 'third order' of laity (a graft from Franciscanism, which would have sorely puzzled S. Benedict) boasts several hundred members. If it stood alone accordingly, we should not have spent much time in its dissection; but, unluckily, it is patronized by that section of the clergy who have otherwise made themselves conspicuous for excessive ritual; and in its train, no doubt, other movements, equally unwise, will follow. The ultra-Church press boasts of a clerical 'Society of Celibates' which has issued a proposed Rule with ultimate life vows, under an annual President, who has, in certain cases, the power of receiving vows posted to him by persons whom he need never have seen, and also of admitting minors. We leave this fact to tell its own tale. It is therefore due to our credit and consistency—it is due to the hope still existing that we may be able to do some good in our own generation, our own country, and our own Church, in spreading the knowledge of the Christian truth and its saving ordinances—to say, that the feverish extravagance of Norwich Benedictinism and of similar outbursts, is no genuine offshoot of the great Anglican Church Movement.
In contemplating those phenomena we are bound to ask where they are likely to end, and whither they will probably lead their promoters. This question cannot, however, be handled without taking into account yet another phenomenon which we have purposely kept out of consideration hitherto. It is one of higher aims, and worked by a wider circle of men than the pure and simple sensation movement. Still, unfortunately for its own ends, it has certain marked external affinities with that phase of Churchmanship. We mean the Association for the Promotion of Christian Unity (an object in itself never to be spoken of without sympathy and approbation). That blessing for which our Lord prayed must ever be the dearest object to the devout Christian. The weak point of the present Association is not that it prays for the peace of Jerusalem, but that it seems to have worked itself into a belief that all probabilities are running in favour of a visible and speedy accomplishment of its own idea of unity in the way which it has forecast for itself, and that it has accordingly shut its eyes to the prodigious practical difficulties environing the notion. The general complexion of the body was, in its more spiritual aspect, that of an Association, organized in 1857, of members of the English, Roman, and Greek Churches, and numbering, so it is asserted, 7,099 members, bound to unite in certain prayers for unity, with an apparent understanding among the clergy to preach occasionally in aid of the same end. Its mundane machinery was the establishment of a periodical, entitled the Union Review, with the double object of being simply a High Church Anglican and Conservative Organ, and also a channel for the communications of the Unionists of all communions. It has been written with considerable cleverness, although its double intention has made it somewhat unworkable. As was natural, a periodical conducted on such principles proved a godsend to a class whose lips were otherwise padlocked, the discontented, or disappointed Roman Catholics—mauvais coucheurs—who had lost the Home and Foreign Review, and who were sure of being refused admission to the ordinary run either of Romanist or Protestant periodicals. Of communications from such writers the most remarkable was a long paper with the unfortunate and unworthy title of 'Experiences of a 'Vert' [i.e. convert or pervert) which has, from internal evidence, been publicly and without contradiction, attributed to Mr. Ffoulkes, formerly B.D. and Fellow of Jesus' College, Oxford, author of the 'Counter Theory,' in reply to, though several years later than. Dr. Newman's 'Essay on Development,' and now a married man in lay Roman communion. It is needless for us to epitomise this paper, which has been reproduced at great length in the Guardian. Its practical summing up was a 'rehabilitation' of the English Church, and a dissuasion from individual secession. Its publication led to a result for which the Association was strangely unprepared. Hitherto it had gone on in the conviction that 'the Association has been approved in the highest Ecclesiastical quarters, both among Latins, Anglicans, and Greeks. The Holy Father gave his blessing to the scheme when first started, and repeated that blessing with a direct and kindly commendation to one of the English Secretaries who was more recently granted the honour of a special interview.' So, too, we are told that the Ex-Patriarch of Constantinople had done the like. This statement regarding the Pope was subsequent to the event which we have to record, and has been confirmed by Mr. Kugee, who has declared himself the person who heard the Pope so speak. No doubt Pius IX., who is, as all know, both kindly and courteous, not to say gushing in his manners, and thoroughly ignorant of English matters, would be very likely to give his blessing off-hand to a body of which all he knew was that it was an Association to promote Christian Unity. Indeed, the Encyclic with which the Pope has recently astonished the world is proof positive that he could not have meant anything in particular, or known anything about the Association, when he gave that blessing.
However, the 'Vert's paper changed everything. It is absurd to deny that the tone in which he talked of the existing Roman Church, and in particular of its recent English manifestation, was, as might have been expected, uncomplimentary and aggravating, however true in Anglican eyes. To a zealous Roman Catholic his outspoken language might not unreasonably wear an even darker colour, as a deliberate attempt to check the work of God, in the reclamation one by one of individual souls from heresy to the true fold. We cannot therefore much wonder, nor, from their point of view, blame very severely the Roman Court, moved thereto it is said by Dr. Manning, and the Pope as prompted by the Court, for answering Mr. Ffoulkes by a very peremptory condemnation of the whole Association, so far as it was participated in by Roman Catholics, and by placing the Review in the Index. It is, perhaps, equally true to nature that the Association cannot see the matter in the same light, and resents the Papal condemnation, although obtained subsequently to the provoking article, as if it were inconsistent with the antecedent blessing, valeat quantum.
With all sympathy for the excellent members of the Association, placed as they are in so disagreeable a dilemma, we really think that the embranglement has its value, and may even help the object they have at heart—the visible reunion of Christendom. It is well that they should learn thus early in their career that, short of an immediate, visible, overruling miracle, the task on which they are embarked is, in its merely human aspect, the most perplexingly difficult undertaking in which the human mind ever engaged itself. An association to restore the 'Holy Roman Empire,' would be (we talk of the labour of the work, not of its utility if accomplished) a mere trifle in comparison. The reason is plain; it is an undertaking to the accomplishment of which the highest and the lowest motives alike of people, sects, and classes, are variously and discordantly, yet strongly opposed. One, as the Anglican, the Roman, and the Greek Churches are in their belief in the Creeds, in the possession of Holy Orders, and in the consequent validity of their sacraments; they are in all innumerable secondary matters—to the naked eye in short—quite different bodies, and the satisfactory adjustment of these innumerable secondary matters is an enterprise before whose difficulty the most daring and the most patient might stand appalled. The difficulty is, of course, greatly augmented, when the body out of which the movement for that adjustment proceeds is the one of the three on which the two others look down, and which is far more different from either than either of them is from the other. If a further surplusage of difficulty be needed, it is found in the fact that within that third body itself exists a large school, who look upon the desire to unite with Rome in any form as sinful, and who must, pari passu, be conciliated, unless the 'Unity of Christendom' is to determine in the break-up of the Church of England.
It is hardly possible to believe that a fair poll of the inner intentions with which the various members of the Association accepted their membership, would reveal a joint basis of action, sufficiently stable to stand a really crucial stress. Some good people have, no doubt, joined the body from impulse rather than logic or learning, and would therefore be the more easily frightened or chilled off when it became necessary to reason or to diplomatise. Others may have persuaded themselves that it only needed a little quiet explanation, to induce the 'Patriarchs' of Rome and Constantinople to sit down with the Archbishop of Canterbury, happy in the joint practice of a developed Anglicanism—acceptable alike to the 'Gesu' and to Exeter Hall. Many of the rest, while they uttered 'unity,' muttered under breath, 'Cathedra Petri,' and played with the Association as a machine made to hand wherewith, at the cost perhaps of a few non-essential concessions, to bring a rich fresh harvest into the garners of the Holy Roman Church, Others again looked into the exclusive past and deemed Christianity anchored on the rock of the changeless East. We blame none of these sections: all would be equally sincere from their respective points of view. Before there could be any reasonable hope of bringing Rome to unity, Rome must be brought to think no worse of us than she does of the 'Photian schism' or the 'Armenian heresy.'
But this is not all. Christian unity being the object, how dare we overlook that vast Armenian Church, and the other smaller Eastern episcopal bodies, who (however incomplete their profession of the Catholic faith) ostensibly possess Orders and Sacraments? Yet, the Association, if its Secretary may be trusted, seems to ignore them. Furthermore, would it be a satisfactory 'Unity' if there were any large bodies, calling themselves Christians, outside the pale of the visible United Church? Still, we cannot discover that the Association has taken, or intends to take, steps to win co-operation from those millions of Protestants in the British Islands, on the Continent, in America, and in Australia, who, although devoid of the Apostolic succession, believe in, and baptise in the name of, the ever Blessed Trinity. We find this position unequivocally stated in a Charge, addressed to his annual synod in 1863, by a prelate of whom no Churchman should speak without respect, the Bishop of Brechin, and which is reprinted in the 'Sermons on the Reunion of Christendom,' published by the Association, with a preface by the Secretary, recapitulating its objects. The Bishop's statement is, 'nor can a unity be said to be complete which does not assimilate with itself all that is good and pious in the Protestant bodies.'
But we have wandered from the question which we proposed to ourselves of the probable future of the present extreme school, whose most respectable side is to be found among the members of the Unity Association, and its most sensational manifestations in the make-believe Benedictines of Norwich. Taking all these different manifestations of uneasy acquiescence in the actual Anglican system into consideration, we have to ask ourselves whether the representatives of these movements are likely to repeat the history of the school of 'extravagantes' represented by Mr. Newman, Mr. Ward, Mr. Oakeley, and Mr. Faber, and, after a course of gradual weaning, fall into the comprehensive embrace of Rome; or whether they will repeat the second crop of converts matured in 1851, and more abruptly lost to us from purely doctrinal causes in consequence of a single defeat? We do not think so. If we gave as our first reason that the wind had turned, and the fashion of Romeward conversions had died down, we might be taxed with implying, in guarded words, that there was some lack of power or real originality in the leaders of this section, and that they were more prone to be influenced by than to lead a popular fashion. Even if we did mean what might be thus put in our mouths, we should not on that account be arraigning the ability or the sincerity of the school we have been speaking of, or their excellent intentions.
Assuming, then, a latitudinarian bias to be the theological vice of this quarter of a century, as a Roman one was of that which closed in 1850, we believe that the excesses of this school will take the colour of their own generation. We think we hear some of our readers exclaim, Latitudinarianism! What Latitudinarianism can lurk in the proceedings of men who model their observances according to the rubrics of the Union Review Almanack? Mr. Lyne's proceedings would be a sufficient answer to the question, but perhaps it is better to explain our meaning more fully. The present régime in London tends very much to a general permission to everybody to do what he likes, provided he is, or says that he is, active; and London gives the cue to England more than England would like to admit. The party, if not Roman, is assuredly not Anglican in its feelings and interests. There are two futures before them. On the one side is, of course, the risk of a popular riot, from which those who are labouring for the restoration of genuine English ritual, and who recollect the terrible autumn of 1850, will be certain to emerge sufferers. If this is happily avoided, this party, secure in the immunity of a latitudinarian régime, will shrink within itself into a Petite Eglise—each clergyman satisfied with the maintenance of his own congregation, and each a material hostage for some corresponding divarication on the deficient or ultra-Protestant side by some other loose-sitting incumbent. And in this way single, and as it were private, churches will be pointed to and marked off, and each will not improbably be a check to the healthy development of ritual in some twenty others. If inhibitions come to trouble the calm of the scene, the example of the wandering deacon playing at abbot in the streets of Norwich will furnish a dangerous precedent for indiscriminate disobedience.
Still the problem of the Unity of Christendom will rest unsolved. Will visible unity ever be again vouchsafed this side of the Day of Judgment? Prayers and hopes say, yes. Reason says that the idea is a pious aspiration, not a stable assurance. The basis of the Anglican theory—the possibility of intrinsic oneness without visible unity—is a doctrine which is not measured by centuries; either it may presumably hold good to the end, or it cannot have held good up till now. If the Sacraments are the same lifegiving ordinances wherever they are duly administered, we may conceive the number of God's elect being accomplished age after age, and yet the ages debating, as they now do, in the various branches of Christ's Church. But if in God's counsels ultimate unity is decreed while the world is still in its actual attitude of expectation, we might almost dare to say, pax paritur bello. Many debates—general disintegration—man's wickedness working as much as man's religion—country against country, diocese against diocese—must, short of a miracle, be the state of the Christian world before the huge inert masses can be sufficiently broken up to admit of the freed atoms being reunited as a homogeneous whole. Again, when the Churches which now own the Apostolic ministry are fused together, what will be the condition of the Protestant communities all over the world? While striving to magnify the wisdom and mercy of God by scheming to reunite the Roman, Greek, and Anglican communions, are we to refuse to bestow a thought on the future of those huge bodies of Christians? Who will dare to call that 'unity' which would leave those, by that time ancient, communities of baptized men—men working out their own salvation with the scant aid of vacant rites—out in the cold night, punished for the sins of their remote ancestors, cut off for evermore from the visible fold of the Catholic Church?
In the meanwhile, as the first and foremost of personal duties, as the simplest and therefore the most efficacious of contributions towards unity, let us quit ourselves like men in that Church in which our own lot has been cast, working out its system in doctrine, in ritual, and in practical usefulness, according to the exemplar of that Prayer-book which, until we become very much better than we ever have been, is likely to continue a sufficient guide to lead us through our present difficulties to the quiet land of everlasting peace.
LONDON: R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS.
- We give the most moderate interpretation of the 'daily mass,' but it may be the Benedictine mass itself. We might also enumerate such occasional outbursts as the Feast of the Assumption, the 'bambino' at Christmas, and the Boy Bishop on Holy Innocents Day.