BISHOP TO NATAL.
HIGH STREET | TRINITY STREET
Oxford | Cambridge
THE following Correspondence will explain itself. It is published, both because of the deep interest which the Church has taken in the appointment of an orthodox Bishop for Natal, and because of the very grave questions which are in it raised. It was not thought necessary to publish the earlier portion of my Correspondence with his Grace the Primate of All England. Some delay has been occasioned in publishing, in consequence of my unceasing engagements to preach and attend meetings in different parts of the country, which it was not easy to break through.
12, NORFOLK SQUARE,
January 31st, 1868.
I. From the Lord Bishop of London to the Bishop of Capetown.
"Jan. 20, 1868.
"MY DEAR LORD,--I feel myself constrained by a sense of duty, much against my inclination, to address your Lordship publicly on the subject of a letter which you sent to the newspapers this week. You announce, as I understand you, that it is your intention forthwith to consecrate a new Bishop for Natal. Had Parliament or Convocation been sitting, I should have asked in my place for an answer to the following:--
"1. Whether, considering the words of the 26th of George III., cap. 84, and other statutes, the law officers of the Crown, having been consulted by the Government, have declared such Consecration to be lawful.
 "2. If you are not acting on the authority of the law officers of the Crown, has a legal opinion been taken justifying the step you propose; by whom has it been given; and what are its express terms?
"3. When and where is it proposed that the Consecration is to take place, and who are to be the officiating Bishops?
"But neither Parliament nor Convocation is in session; and, as it seems there is no time to lose, I take the only means open to me for asking you, before you proceed further in this matter, to give a public answer to these questions. It was only last week that I learnt accidentally, but from the most undoubted authority, that you proposed to hold the Consecration on the 25th inst., and in Scotland. A vigorous protest against this proceeding has been made by persons who are among the most attached members of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The Scottish plan is, I now learn, abandoned; and it is stated that, on Saturday next, you propose to consecrate in England.
"Meanwhile, your brother Bishops in England may well be thrown into perplexity. We know not in which of our dioceses an act which, to say the least, is of most doubtful legality, is to take place. We may read in the newspapers any morning that the thing has been already done; and we may be left in the disagreeable position of being called upon by others, as well as moved by [6/7] our sense of public duty, to visit some of our Clergy for taking part in proceedings contrary to the law of the Church and realm; when, had we been properly informed beforehand, and the matter formally investigated, we might have prevented them from committing themselves.
"I am sure you will see, my dear Lord, that the Church of England is entitled to a plain and immediate answer to the questions I have asked.
"You remember, from your recent presence at the Lambeth Conference--
"1. That the assembled Bishops, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, deliberately abstained from affirming that Bishop Colenso's deposition was valid, either spiritually or any other way.
"2. That at the adjourned meeting of the Conference, the Report of the Committee recommending the consecration of a new Bishop, was, by the wish of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as of the Bishops of Lincoln, Ely, Chester, and myself, with others, deliberately not approved, but only received.
"3. That many of the English Bishops, feeling strongly, like myself, how dangerous is the teaching of Bishop Colenso, still hold that his See is not vacant, since his deposition has been pronounced null and void in law by the highest Courts of the realm.
"4. That some also of our body, whose authority is very great in such matters, believe that [7/8] (quite independently of questions of English law) the deposition is uncanonical.
"You will remember also--
"5. That, whereas the words of 26 George III., cap. 84, declare that by the laws of this realm no person can be consecrated to the office of Bishop without the Royal authority, if any doubt exists as to the applicability of these words to your case, that Consecration Service which alone can be lawfully used within the Church of England prescribes that the Royal mandate shall be produced before the consecration is proceeded with; and, moreover, the Bishop elect is called upon to declare, in the face of the congregation, that he is persuaded he is truly called to his ministration in the office of a Bishop, not only according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also 'according to the order of this realm.'
"To many it seems inconceivable that any man will be found to make this solemn declaration, in the midst of all these doubts, before the legality of his consecration has been publicly established by some competent authority.
"Under these circumstances I venture to call upon you, my dear Lord, not to go further without the most perfect openness, and the most complete examination by the authorities of Church and State as to the legality and propriety of what you are doing. You surely will allow that you ought not otherwise to proceed to a step which must be fraught with the gravest [8/9] consequences for the Church, both at home and in the Colonies, and for which certainly there is no precedent since the schism of the Non-jurors.
"Let me remind you that what I ask implies no long delay as to the authoritative settlement of whether or no you are right in your view of your duty. Parliament and Convocation both meet early next month; and it surely would be unbecoming, in the face of statutes and of ecclesiastical precedent, to hurry on this step before either authority has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion.
"Believe me to be, my dear Lord,
"Yours very faithfully,
"A. C. LONDON.
"THE LORD BISHOP OF CAPETOWN."
II. From the Bishop of Capetown to the Lord Bishop of London.
"January 28th, 1868.
"MY DEAR LORD,--Your Letter, of January the 20th, reached me a day after its first appearance in the 'Times,' with a leading article in support of it.
"Though I cannot recognize your title to use such language as would seem to imply your right [9/10] to demand, in the name of the Church of England, as its authorized representative, 'a plain and immediate answer to the question which you have asked,' I should, nevertheless, have been glad if I had been enabled to reply to your letter sooner. I thought it, however, better to abstain from doing so, till our course as to the Consecration was decided upon.
"I have now to observe--
"1. That I think there has been nothing in our past conduct which would warrant your assuming that we should proceed to consecrate, without that assent of the Metropolitan and Bishop of the Diocese which would alone make it canonical. Most certainly we contemplated no such step.
"2. That, throughout all these proceedings, I have been in consultation with the Primate of All England, your Lordship's Metropolitan, and have, in every question, yielded a glad assent to his Grace's decision.
"3. That the Church in South Africa having been declared by the highest Court of Appeal in England to be not established by law, but a voluntary association--in the same position, in no better, but in no worse, than other religious bodies; and the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury having, in its Resolution of June 29, 1866, recognized its position as such, it is entitled to exercise all the rights and liberties of such a association, without interference on the part of your Lordship, or others, with those rights.
 "4. That the same Court, having declared that the Queen's Letters Patent do not convey to the Bishops of South Africa any jurisdiction, or create any Dioceses, but simply confer upon them a title, and constitute them lay corporations, there cannot be, as there never was intended to be, by the Consecration of a Bishop for the faithful in Natal, an infringement of any legal or other rights which Dr. Colenso may be held in law to possess.
"5. That, as there appears to be doubt in your Lordship's mind, and in the minds of others, as to the legality of the Consecration in England, in consequence of the Act of Uniformity which ordered the Queen's Mandate to be inquired for, it has been thought right to avoid all possible infringement of the law, and that the Consecration should not take place where the Act of Uniformity is in force.
"6. That, inasmuch as it is highly inconvenient, and almost impossible, that it could take place at this time in Africa, in consequence of my own necessary presence in England, and other substantial reasons, we sought, and should have obtained, as I have reason to believe, from the Primus, the permission of the Bishops of the Church in Scotland for the Consecration to take I place there, had not his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury counselled, at the last moment, delay.
"7. That we had no locus standi, as the Bishops of what the law has declared to be a mere [11/12] voluntary association, for making such an application as you charge us with having wrongfully omitted, to the officers of the Crown, as to the legality of such Bishop's Consecration in England, without the Mandate; but that we have, for our own satisfaction and guidance, sought privately the opinion of eminent lawyers; and that, though they do not altogether agree in view, it has been decided, in consequence of their opinion, that the Consecration should not take place in England or Ireland, where only it could possibly be held to be illegal.
"8. I should not have felt myself at liberty to state publicly what passed at the recent Conference of the Bishops of the Anglican Communion; but, as you have done so, and appeal to me for the accuracy of your Report, I am constrained to say that I cannot concur in your statement. The facts were these: the great majority of Bishops at the Conference were eager to adopt a Resolution accepting the spiritual sentence by which Dr. Colenso was deposed. The President, being appealed to by the Bishop of St. David's, ruled that he could not allow such a Resolution to be submitted, without departing from an understanding which he had entered into with certain members of the Conference previous to its assembling. The matter was, in consequence, and out of deference to his Grace, not pressed by myself to a division. What the decision would have been, had a division [12/13] taken place, your Lordship can scarce be ignorant of, inasmuch as it has been publicly stated that (independently of his Grace and the African Bishops, whose views were already declared) fifty-five members of the Conference were so dissatisfied with the conclusion arrived at, that they signed a Declaration, at the time and in the room, affirming and accepting the spiritual sentence, and placed the same in my hands; and I am at liberty to state that several other Bishops were prepared to add their names, if they could have done so without apparently separating themselves from the President, who was debarred from joining, by the possibility of having to sit in the Highest Court of Appeal in judgment on the question.
"9. You urge, with considerable vehemence, the fact that the Report upon Natal was received and not adopted, leading your readers to suppose that the Conference entertained some peculiar doubts as to the conclusions contained in that Report. I complain of this as (of course unintentional) misrepresentation; since the fact was, that, on the presentation of the first Report, it was ruled that as there would be no time to discuss any of them sentence by sentence, in the mode necessary for their adoption, they should, one and all, be read; and, if no objection were made, received, printed, and circulated, for the careful consideration of the Bishops of the Church, to which they were commended. The only difference between the treatment [13/14] of the Report upon Natal, and the other Reports presented, was, that in consideration of its judicial character, it was, by the order of the Conference, transmitted to all the Bishops of the Anglican Communion for their judgment thereupon; and, by the adjourned Conference, ordered to be forwarded to the Colonial Bishoprics' Council for action upon the legal question.
"10. You say, as you have frequently said before, that you believe Dr. Colenso's teaching to be 'dangerous;' that his See is not vacant; and that you believe that he can be, and ought to be, 'legally deposed.' In common with nearly the whole Episcopate of the Anglican Communion, I hold that, though be retains the title of Bishop of Natal, by the Queen's Letters Patent (as the late Duke of York, though no Bishop, had the title of Bishop of Osnaburgh), he has been canonically deposed from his spiritual office. I could not, therefore, adopt any proceedings with a view to do what I hold to be already done, even if I believed that there was any Court in England which has by law the right to try and depose him, which I do not. It would be uncanonical and unprecedented for a Metropolitan, under any circumstances, to apply to a purely secular Court to depose one of his Suffragans. In this case, I have, throughout, acted as judge, and not as accuser; and I do not think it consistent with my duty to ignore the functions of my office. With your views, however, I cannot [14/15] understand why you have not taken legal proceedings. You were urged to do so five years ago, at our Conference on the subject. You then strenuously affirmed that it was my duty to proceed n my own Metropolitan Court. I have done all that could be required of me; but, inasmuch, as all Dr. Colenso's heretical writings have been published in your Lordship's Diocese, and within your jurisdiction, it would seem that, if proceedings can be taken to deprive him of his Letters Patent, the duty of moving in the matter rests upon your Lordship far more than upon any other Bishop of the Church.
"11. I do not see any force in your objection drawn from the words of the Consecration Service, provided that there be no illegality in the Act of Consecration; the only sense in which they can be used by any Voluntary Society being, that there is nothing in the act which those who use the words are doing which is contrary to the laws of the realm. The Rubric which requires the Consecrating Bishop to demand the Queen's Mandate is, and only can be, fulfilled, where no mandate can issue, by the statement of that fact in answer to the question. This must be the case for the future, after the decision of successive Governments to issue no more mandates, wherever the Church is not established in the Colonies.
"12. Your Lordship is pleased to intimate that [15/16] the consecration of a Bishop would create a "schism for which there is no precedent, from the days of the Non-jurors." There is no parallel between the two cases. Ever since the return of the deposed Bishop, he has been at the head of a schism. On your argument, the Bishop who is in separation from us must be in the position of the Non-jurors, as we are, beyond question, the ancient Church, who have separated him from our communion, because we dare not recognize in him a teacher come from God--bearing a commission from Christ the Lord to rule His Church, and feed the souls of His people. Since that teacher's return, your Lordship has officially (if my memory does not betray me) addressed him, I hope inadvertently, as your 'Dear Lord,' 'your faithful brother in Christ;' and he has taken good care to give publicity to your letter.
"You have asked me, in the name of the Church of England, a question, to which in this letter I give my answer. In return I venture, in the name of the same Church, and in my own, as Metropolitan of a Province which you have deeply and grievously wounded by your whole course of proceedings in this matter, as I have shown in my published 'Statement,'--to ask you whether you do hold communion with Dr. Colenso or not? Whether you regard him as the representative Bishop of the Church of England in Natal, or not? Whether he is entitled, in his character of [16/17] Teacher, to speak in the name of this great and ancient Church, or not? Vague phrases about disapproving of his teaching evade the question, anti do not meet the, necessities of this crisis. The issue at stake is simply this:--Have we received a Revelation from God, of which the Scriptures are a written and infallible record?--or have we not received any such revelation? Is Christianity, as it has been delivered to us from the first, true, or is it a lie? Are we to exchange it for a new religion, or not? Nothing less than these are the questions raised by Dr. Colenso's writings. We must take our sides on these' great questions--we cannot be neutrals. The African Church has taken its side, and rejected from its Communion this false teacher, and resolved to send forth another in his place. It is for the Bishops of the Church of England to decide to which party in this great contest they will commit the Church which they rule. The real question which has yet to be decided is this,--Will the Church of England incur the guilt, of complicity with heresy, by not openly separating from her Communion one, of whom she has declared in her Synod, that he teaches doctrines full of dangerous error, and subversive of the faith? The whole Christian world is waiting anxiously till she shall stand clear in the sight of God and man in this matter.
"I cannot close this letter without one word concerning yourself personally. I must express my [17/18] pain at the conduct of one whose very different lot has sheltered him from the severe trials to which the maintainers of the faith in South Africa have, for these last few years, been exposed; and from whom they might have expected brotherly sympathy and support. 1st, Because while you have felt it your duty to reiterate your disclaimers of sympathy with the views of Dr. Colenso, you have, whenever the subject has been in discussion, adopted the course, and employed the language which his most skilful advocate would have used, and that often with a vehemence of expression which seemed to betray an eager partisan. 2nd, Because it is impossible for me not to note the marked difference of your whole conduct and language towards myself, who, under circumstances of the greatest difficulty, have been simply endeavouring to discharge conscientiously my bounden duty, often at the cost of much suffering and loss.
"Your Lordship's faithful and obedient servant,
"THE RIGHT REV. THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON."
"January 22, 1868.
"MY DEAR LORD,--A report has just reached me that you intend on Saturday next to Consecrate a Bishop, who, under whatever title, will have the charge of the diocese of Natal.
"As this step involves some important questions of English law, I venture to express a hope that some delay may be interposed to allow the best legal opinion to be taken upon the two questions--whether the Bishop of Natal was rightly and canonically deprived? and whether, under all the circumstances, the Consecration now contemplated can lawfully take place?
"The Colonial Bishoprics' Council refused to pay over the stipend of Bishop Colenso, except under the order of a competent Court, in consequence of the decision of the Privy Council as to the Letters Patent. The judgment of the Master of the Rolls directed us to pay it; and as we were advised that upon this point there was hardly any chance of the Court above reversing the decision, we did not feel justified in carrying the case further, although there were statements in the judgment which some of us could hardly reconcile with the [19/20] judgment of the Privy Council. Acting as trustees of a public fund, we did not feel justified in incurring further costs without a reasonable expectation that, upon the one point that concerned the fund, the decision would be modified or reversed. But these proceedings are not enough to dispose of the general question.
"Acting under legal advice, we excluded the question of doctrine altogether. This may have been wise or not, but it was, I believe, the unanimous opinion of the legal members of the Council. The decision of the Master of the Rolls was thus confined to the technical question before him, What were the consequences of the invalidity of the patents? But before any English Bishops are committed to the proposed step we ought to have the best advice upon several other questions, such as these:--Was the trial of Bishop Colenso in your court conducted according to Canon Law? And, if it was, from which of the consequences of the sentence pronounced is Bishop Colenso's patent sufficient to protect him, if from any? Was it, as the old Canon Law requires, a trial before the Bishops of the Province (Van Espen, III., p. 66)? If only two Bishops of the Province were present, were two sufficient (ibidem)? Is it true, as assumed in the judgment of the Privy Council, that Bishop Colenso's patent was granted after the colony of Natal had received a Constitution? As you surrendered a patent confessedly good, and [20/21] received in return a patent which the Crown, the grantor of it, has pronounced to be bad, is not the Crown bound to revise the patent obtained from you by a technical fraud, so that you would yourself again have jurisdiction over Natal as a part of your Diocese?
"These and similar questions are asked. It may be that your Lordship sees the answers to them all, but there are some who do not. I myself entertain grave doubts upon several of them.
"The Convocation of this Province has addressed your Lordship in terms of sympathy upon the trials and difficulties with which you were surrounded, and in that Address I cordially concurred. But neither the Convocation nor the Bishops have expressed any opinion as to the right to consecrate another Bishop. Nor has the Convocation of Canterbury, so far as I am aware, given any recommendation on the subject,
"It seems reasonable to ask, under all these circumstances, that time should be given, that steps should be taken for procuring the opinion upon the whole case, either of the highest Court, or of the best lawyers, canonists, and civilians who can be found in the country. This course I venture, unasked, to recommend to your consideration of the evils of the present state of things no one can think more strongly than I do; but it is a maxim that you will not dispute, that no wrong is to be cured by another wrong. The present evil in [21/22] Natal may endure for a few years, but a wound might be inflicted in a hasty endeavour to snatch a present remedy, from which the Church of England might suffer for generations.
"As there seems to be some secrecy about the arrangements, you will pardon me for adding that the Consecration could not take place in this Diocese, nor, except with the consent of the Bishop, in any Diocese in the Province.
"I am sure you will pardon me for thus addressing you in a matter of great public moment.
"I am, my dear Lord, yours very faithfully,
"THE LORD BISHOP OF CAPETOWN."
"January 27th, 1868.
"MY LORD ARCHBISHOP,--Your messenger delivered your letter to me on the evening of the 24th, after (as I presume, from reading it on the following morning, 'with an article upon it, in the Times newspaper) it had reached that journal.
"This, of course, compels me to state thus publicly what has already been my private complaint to your Grace, that you have interposed in [22/23] a matter which did not concern your jurisdiction; and that, not without, as it seems to me, unseemly insinuations. You insinuate, first, that the South African Bishops contemplated an invasion of your Province. What ground, I must ask, have you for such an imputation? You insinuate that we were acting upon a policy of concealment. What ground, I ask again, have you for this imputation?
"We have never contemplated acting in any Province without the full consent of its Metropolitan,--and have concealed nothing on which we had resolved; and, from the first, have opened freely our whole case to the Church at home. Being in full communication with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I know of no reason why I should have made any special communication to the Archbishop of York.
"I proceed now to reply to the several points raised in your Grace's letter, seriatim:--
"1. You ask for delay in the Act of Consecration, on the following grounds:--That the best legal opinion may be taken upon the question,--Whether the Bishop of Natal was rightly and canonically deprived? and whether, under all the circumstances, the Consecration now contemplated can lawfully take place?
"It is obvious to remark that, if the above questions appear to be of such great importance to your Grace, it seems strange that you have never taken any action concerning them in the [23/24] Church, or in your Province, during the four years which have passed since the deposition of Dr. Colenso, and more especially since the election of Mr. Butler;--but have reserved them for the last moment, when your interference might serve to prevent the Act of Consecration, and maintain Dr. Colenso in the position claimed by him as the only true representative Bishop of the Church of England in Natal. I have myself, on various public occasions during the last four years, declared that it was the intention of the African Bishops to consecrate a successor so soon as one should be elected, and the finds were provided. I have submitted the case of the Consecration of another Bishop to the Primate of All England, towards whom I have stood in a special relation, and under a certain subjection. The subject has been discussed by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, at the request of the Clergy and Laity of Natal; and they, in June, 1866, delivered it as their 'judgment' that the appointment of a new Bishop would not involve any loss of Communion between the Orthodox Church in Natal 'and the Mother Church;' and that 'the acceptance of a new Bishop does not impair the connexion, or alter the relations existing between the members of the Church in the Province of Natal, and the Church of England,' provided certain conditions were observed.
"I endeavoured to bring this whole subject, in all [24/25] its fulness, before the largest assembly of Bishops of the Anglican Communion that has ever been gathered; but was partially prevented from doing so by the claim advanced by the Bishop of St. David's, supported by the Bishop of London, to have obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury a pledge that the matter should not be discussed; and I have stated the course which we were about to pursue, in unnumbered speeches delivered by myself on public occasions during the last six months in England.
"All the conditions required by Convocation having been observed and fulfilled, and the consent of the Primate of All England given, as desired by the Church in Natal, to the person chosen for the office, and to his consecration to that office, there being, in his Grace's opinion, no hindrance to the performance of that act, if performed where the limitations of the Act of Uniformity could not affect it,--the Consecration was decided upon.
"It now appears that your Grace takes a different view from others on the subject which has been before the mind of the whole Church for a long time. I regret that you should have chosen the moment when my brethren, the Bishops of the South African Province, must at once return to their distant dioceses, for raising objections, as to which you have hitherto been, so far as I am aware, altogether silent.
"Your Grace's opinion, if offered at an earlier [25/26] period, would no doubt have been entitled to respectful attention, but would not have warranted, at such a crisis, the postponement of an act so urgently required.
"2. Next, as to the questions which your Grace thinks ought to be solved before the Consecration takes place, and the mode of their solution.
"Some of these questions are of great interest and importance, and I should be glad to have them settled by Civil Courts. There are others, as to which no Court in England has any jurisdiction.
"But I again ask, Is it fair to propose them to me as difficulties in the way of Consecration, because, if unsolved, they 'commit the English Bishops,' when no steps have been taken, or probably could be, by their Lordships, to obtain their solution, since the judgment of the Master of the Rolls was delivered; though they have stated that the fact of Dr. Colenso teaching heresy, in the name, and with the supposed authority, of the Church of England, is a grievous scandal to that Church, and that it is of the utmost moment that it should be removed?
"It is, of course, easy to raise such questions as to the recall of Dr. Colenso's Letters Patent,--the correctness of facts assumed in the Privy Council Judgment, and the like; but your Grace is well aware that there is no reasonable prospect of the settling of these questions by any competent authority; and that, in now raising them, you are [26/27] adopting a course which cannot but create a very long, if not an interminable, delay.
"Upon the other questions which you have touched upon, viz.:--Whether the trial in my Court was conducted according to Canon Law?--Whether, consequently, Dr. Colenso was rightly and canonically deprived?--Whether the trial was, as the old Canon Law requires, a trial before the Bishops of the Province?--Whether, if only two Bishops of the Province (though there were three, and though a fourth has since concurred in the sentence, upon a review of the whole published proceedings) were present, two were sufficient?
"These are questions over which, as it appears to me, no Civil Court in England has any jurisdiction; and, certainly, they are not questions which I should, as a Bishop of a purely Voluntary Association in Africa, be prepared to submit to the decision of any English Court.
"Upon such questions, the Bishops of the Church have, in all ages, been the parties who have had to decide. I have long since offered to Dr. Colenso to refer these, as well as all other matters of a spiritual kind, relating to himself, to them; proposing that either the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province of Canterbury--or of both Provinces--or of the United Church of England and Ireland--or of the whole Anglican Communion--should decide upon them. With all respect to your Grace, I beg to say that they have been [27/28] virtually decided by the Bishops of the Church. At the late Conference of the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, where I must say that it appears to me that it would have been more consistent with your Grace's position in the Church to have raised the questions which now trouble you, than through the columns of a newspaper, the great majority of the Bishops did, each in his individual capacity, accept the deposition as Canonical. The Bishops of the Church in America, as well as their Houses of Clerical and Lay Representatives, have formally and Canonically done the same. The Provincial Synod of Canada--other Synods, both of the Church in Scotland, aid of Colonial Churches, have done the same; and I have no intention of submitting such a question again to any inferior authority.
"There is one other question which your Grace desires should be referred to the decision of a Court of law, viz.:--'Whether, under all the circumstances of the case, the Consecration now contemplated can lawfully take place?'
"I presume that your Grace means, in England. If so, the necessity for the question ceases; inasmuch as it has been decided that, in consequence of doubts as to the effect of the Act of Uniformity; the idea of consecrating in England should be abandoned--it being deemed essential that there should not be, in this matter, even a shadow of ground for the charge of a possible violation of law.
 "But if your Grace means lawful elsewhere, I venture to submit that it is not considered, so far as I know, by any lawyer of repute, that it would be unlawful anywhere, except in those lands where the Act of Uniformity is law.
"The ruling of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council that the Church in South Africa is not a Church established by law, but merely 'a Voluntary Association, in the same position--in no better, but in no worse, than any other religious body,' exempts it at least from all restraints which surround the Bishops of the Church of England, and perhaps any other Bishop resident in England, in the matter before us.
"Your Grace has most justly observed that any false step taken on the present occasion might inflict a wound 'on the Church of England from which it might suffer for many generations.' I myself go further than you do in my apprehensions. All Churches have their seasons of trial, when they are weighed in the balances. A time of trial has come upon the Church of England. She has to decide whether she will hold communion with one, of whom her greatest Synod has declared that his writings 'involve errors of the gravest and most dangerous character, subversive of faith in the Bible as the Word of God;' and whose deposition the great majority of the Bishops of our Communion have recognized,--or with the Orthodox, Church in South Africa, which has separated that [29/30] teacher from its communion, and has deposed him from his office. She cannot hold communion with both; so strange an attempt would only expose her to the scoffs and derision of Christendom.
"Would your Grace allow of such a compromise with heresy in your own Province or Diocese? Would you suffer one holding your commission to publish to the world open contradictions to the faith of Christendom, and permit the powers of your high office to slumber over his delinquencies?
"The Bishop of London, your Grace, and some others, are anxious to submit, so far as I can understand your proposals, this whole case to the decision of some Civil Court. Before you do so, I pray you and your brethren to consider what you intend to do, should such a Court affirm that Dr. Colenso's teaching is not contrary to the faith held and taught by the Church of England, or upon some technical ground should uphold him in his position? Are you prepared, in such a case, to recognize him as a Bishop of the Church, and to hold communion with him? To acknowledge him as having a commission from your Lord to rule the Church, and witness for Christ, and minister to the souls of our people in Natal?
"If so, what will your own position in Christendom be? And what will be your relation to the Bishops of Africa, who cannot consent to this, and are resolved to consecrate a faithful Pastor for the widowed Church--who dare not leave the flock to [30/31] be devoured by an unbelieving and deposed false teacher--who hold that the honour of their insulted Lord, the very existence of the Church in Africa, and in England too, as a true and living Branch of Christ's Holy Church, depends upon their rejection of this heretical teacher?
"The Church in Natal has been weakened, and Dr. Colenso's moral position greatly strengthened, by the substantial support which has been given to him by some English Bishops during the last two years, and which is now being practically given to him by your Grace. It will die out, as I have been for the last three years proclaiming, if not speedily succoured, to the irreparable loss and disgrace of the Church of England.
"The Church cannot evade her responsibility before God in this matter, or refuse to face the grave questions which are before her.
"Dr. Colenso has taught that the Holy Scriptures, of both the Old and New Testaments, are not to be relied upon, as conveying to us an unerring Revelation of God's Truth and Will. He has affirmed that every living man is to judge for himself,--by 'the voice which he hears within,' which is the 'voice of his Lord,' the 'Light of the Divine Word,'--whether any, or what portions of the Scriptures are the Word of God; that 'by that light the words recorded to have been uttered by our Lord himself must all be tried;' that our Lord was ignorant, and in error; [31/32] that 'it is not to be supposed,' 'it cannot be maintained,' that 'He possessed a knowledge surpassing that of the most pious and learned adults of His nation,' that 'He knew more than any educated Jew of His age;' that He ought not to be adored or worshipped; that it is unscriptural and un-apostolic to do so; that we must 'modify our views of Christianity itself.'
"Your Grace, I am fully persuaded, rejects these blasphemies for yourself; but that is not the point at issue. The question forced upon you at this time is whether, as Primate of one of the Provinces of the Church of England, you do now recognize, or are prepared to recognize hereafter, should a civil court require you to do so, this false teacher as a true Pastor of the Church, with whom you are in communion? You cannot escape from a decision on this point. Sooner or later it will be forced upon you, and upon your Province; and the very existence of that Province, as a portion of the Church of Christ, depends upon the answer that it gives. Had your Grace been present at the late great Conference, you would have seen bow, with one or two rare exceptions that whole body felt that the maintenance of the faith, and the witnessing truly to Christ, was the first great duty of every portion of the Church. I trust that the Bishops of my on loved mother Church will not betray their Lord in this hour of trial. If they do, I am persuaded that the days of the [32/33] Church of England are numbered. If I read aright the messages of our ascended Lord to the Angels of the Churches, they cannot allow the Courts and Powers of the world to interfere between them and their duty to that Lord, without an entire forfeiture of His presence and favour, and of their own standing as living branches of His Church and Kingdom. Your Grace will permit me to say, that the course which you seem prepared to adopt at this crisis fills me with anxiety and alarm.
"I remain, my Lord Archbishop,
"Your faithful and obedient Servant,
"P. S. Jan. 30.--I have not thought it worth while to alter this letter, which was written before I had received the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Consecration of the New South African Bishop should take place in South Africa. To that counsel, as to his Grace's counsel from the beginning, I at once defer.
"TO THE MOST REV. THE LORD ARCBISHOP OF YORK."
"ADDINGTON PARK, CROYDON,
"January 27th, 1868.
"MY DEAR LORD,--I think it is only fair I should inform you that I have received letters from Bishops of every shade of opinion in our Church, some deprecating any Consecration at all for the Colony of Natal, others deprecating it till the meeting of Convocation, when the opinion of the Church may be in some measure ascertained.
"You may remember that when Mr. Butler consulted the Bishop of Oxford and myself as to the offer made to him by the Church in Natal, we advised that he should certify himself.
"1. That the Canonicity of his election was certain.
"2. That it would be recognized by the Metropolitan and Suffragans as Canonical.
"3. That it would be so recognized by the Church at home.
"Mr. Macrorie may have satisfied himself upon the two first points, but the above-named communications abundantly show that he can have no certainty as to the third. In the interest, then, of Mr. Macrorie himself as well as of the Church in Natal, it is of the utmost importance that no final [34/35] step should be taken before all doubt on this point is removed. Mr. Macrorie's position would be a most painful one, if after his Consecration he should find that the canonicity of his election was not recognized by the Church in this country.
"With reference to the proposed Consecration of Mr. Macrorie--while, as I have already intimated, I must withhold my consent to its being performed in my Diocese or Province, I still adhere to the opinion expressed in the letter addressed by the Bishop of Oxford and myself to Mr. Butler, that there is nothing in Dr. Colenso's legal position to prevent the election of a Bishop to preside over them, by those of our Communion in South Africa, who, with myself, hold him to have been canonically deposed from his spiritual office.
"Believe me, my dear Lord,
(Signed) "C. T. CANTUAR.
"THE RIGHT REV. THE LORD BISHOP OF CAPETOWN."
VI. From the Bishop of Capetown to the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
"January 30th, 1868.
"MY LORD ARCHBISHOP,--I submit my proceedings as to the Consecration of an Orthodox Bishop [35/36] for Natal at this time, whether in England or Scotland, to your Grace's judgment, feeling that I ought not, in this country, to act without the hearty consent and support of the Primate of All England. So long as your Grace had no objection to offer to our consecrating within your Province or Diocese, or in Scotland, I was prepared to proceed without hesitation with the Consecration. But as your Grace, upon fuller information, deems it to be the course of Christian wisdom to postpone the act, I acquiesce. Your Grace, I am fully persuaded, feels the gravity of the present crisis. The opposition of those Bishops to whose objections your Grace has thought it right to yield, seems to me to remove the responsibility of delaying this Consecration from the South African to the Home Episcopate. Upon the course which the Bishops of the Mother Church shall now take must depend the unity of the Church of England herself; and her own standing in Christ's Kingdom.
"It is that Church which is now really on its trial at the bar of Christendom. Her greatest Synod has declared that Dr. Colenso's teaching contains 'errors of the greatest and most dangerous character, subversive of faith in the Bible as the Word of God.'
"At her call, and by the urgent counsel of her whole Episcopate, assembled in Westminster five years ago, he has for these errors been tried and deposed by the Bishops of South Africa, and [36/37] separated from the Communion of the whole Church.
"I do not myself understand what further action is contemplated by those Bishops who, your Grace informs me, have counselled this delay, since the Convocation of Canterbury has already, in delivering its 'judgment' in this matter, ruled 'that the acceptance of a new Bishop' by the Church in Natal 'would not involve any loss of communion between it and the 'Mother Church;' 'would not impair the connexion, or alter the relations existing between the members of the Church in the Province of Natal, and the Church of England, provided the Bishop be canonically consecrated,'--and certain other conditions observed. It was upon this Judgment of Convocation that the South African Church has acted. The conditions have been fulfilled; the Bishop chosen, and presented to your Grace, as desired--and accepted by you. The Bishop has been beforehand recognized by the Church of England's highest Synod. He has been recognized in spirit, if not in express words, by the great Anglican Conference, lately assembled in your Grace's Palace, at Lambeth.
"I shall wait with trembling, in common with tens of thousands of its most devoted members, for some Synodical decision which may rescue the Church of England from the false position in which some of its Bishops have placed it. Should no [37/38] further action be taken, it would, I fear, leave the Church of England burdened with the alliance of heresy, by the endurance of the deposed heretic, as a Bishop in communion with itself. Whatever the decision of the Bishops of the Church of England may be, the duty of the Church in South Africa is clear. It is bound, if it can, to provide a faithful Pastor for the souls of the people entrusted to its care; and, God helping, I trust, on my return to my Province, with the aid of my Com-provincials, to be able to consecrate there. We hold that the maintenance of the faith is the first and highest duty of every Church; that that duty must be preferred before any other consideration; and that nothing can release us from the obligation to discharge that duty at the present crisis.
"My dear Lord Archbishop,
"Your Grace's faithful and obedient Servant,
"THE MOST REV. THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY."