Project Canterbury

The Purity of the Apostolic Succession and Mission in the Church of England
A Letter Addressed to the Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.

by W. K. Firminger, B.A.
Merton College: Oxford
Assistant Priest, the Cathedral, Zanzibar.

Zanzibar: Universities' Mission Press, 1895.


St. Edmund's Day, 1895,


My Lord,--

WITH the commendation of my Father in God, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Zanzibar, I venture to address this letter to your Lordship, since it was through your kindness that my recently-published treatise was brought before the notice of the Commission appointed by the Most Rev. Archbishop of Utrecht, to report on the matter of Anglican Ordinations. In this letter I desire to draw attention to the arguments of the four learned Doctors as set forth in their recent letter in so far as they concern the subject dealt with in my short treatise, but towards the conclusion I have also ventured to discuss a few points connected with the wider bearings of the controversy. I should also add that this letter, written from a distant part of the world, is composed in complete ignorance as to whether or no it is your Lordship's intention to put forward a second reply to the contentions of the Dutch Commission.

An English Priest can hardly be expected to approach the present subject in a spirit of mere inquiry. As your Lordship has so well remarked, the reality of our Commission from God, and the grace which accompanies the fulfilment of our Sacred Office, are factors in the lives of most of us which gain in power with growing personal experience. It is this deep certitude in the Gift received by the laying on of hands that must give us the patience to endure the weariness of a controversy in which oft-refuted facts and obsolete theories seem periodically to regain fresh life. A great Prelate of the French Church has very well pointed out that in these times of ours, the true sacerdotal spirit will be ready to "explain to the utmost." May God grant us this grace of patience, and teach us to remember that those who enjoy the priceless possession are those who can best afford to be "meek," even as He was meek, Who by His matchless personal example has taught us that the servant of God must not strive. If there is aught in the following letter that savours of impatience, aught that may give offence, aught that is not consistent with the fact of the superior learning, the more eminent position, the greater services to the Catholic Church, the sincere charity of the Dutch Old Catholic writers, I ask, by anticipation, that my words may be considered as unreservedly withdrawn.


THE four reverend Doctors have, as your Lordship will have noticed, devoted no less than seven pages (33-40) of their short letter to the consideration of the facts set forward in my treatise on "The Attitude of the English Church to non-Episcopal Ordinations." In my treatise I contended that this attitude was a "severe" one: the Doctors, without, however, altogether directly challenging my arguments, taken as a whole, assert that the attitude of the English Church was, at least in practice, extremely partial.

It is somewhat hard, perhaps, to see the immediate connection of either of these conclusions with the question of the validity of the English Succession. The aim of the Doctors is, we may suppose, to prove that the English Ordinal is not only intrinsically inadequate to the ends which the Catholic Church has in view when she confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but that the practice of the English Church also demonstrates the slight importance attached by her to the Sacrament itself. They would argue back from the second point to the first, using as a proof of the lack of Catholic intention in the Ordinal and Liturgy, the character of the age in which these documents were compiled and authoritatively established.

The argument, as it touches the subject immediately in hand, may be thus briefly stated: The Doctors seem inclined to admit that the actual law of the Church--expressed, as for instance it was expressed by Convocation in 1571 (Why do the Doctors, in summing up these dates, on p. 37, omit the Canon of this year, which has so important a bearing on 13 Eliz. c. xii.?) 1576, 1584, 1597, 1603, is uniformly hostile to the holders of non-Episcopal "Orders," but they will not admit this in so many words, because they think that these repeated re-enactments are in themselves evidence of a contemporary custom to the contrary, and they proceed to urge that the practice of the Church was not "the interpretation of the law, but a protest against it."

If, during the period in question it was, as the Doctors seem to assert, the practice, of individual ecclesiastical authorities to recognise non-Episcopal "ordinations" as valid and sufficient, then it is most certainly true that such a practice, not merely failed to interpret the Church's law, but actually set it at defiance. That it was the practice of English Bishops at any time in Church History to recognise Presbyterian 'ordinations' is a theory for which there is very little evidence beyond certain dubious chronic assertions that it has been so,--a theory contradicted, not merely by modern writers, but by venerable writers such as Patrick and Collier. The evidence upon which the Doctors rely will be examined later on. Yet even, for purpose of argument, admitting--what after all is an absurd hypothesis--that such was the practice of the English Bishops, it is surely remarkable that the Dutch Commissioners, while professing to be engaged on a sympathetic endeavour to gauge the authoritative position of the English Church in this matter, are inclined to give greater weight to what (on the strength of a quotation from Macaulay) they assume to be the "practice" than to what they are half-ready to admit was and is the actual "law" of the Church, voted on, and promulgated by convocation itself. Why, we ask, should it be imagined that the English clergy so stultified themselves as to condemn in solemn assembly what they recognised and admitted in their practical administration of Church affairs? Again, we may ask, is it more usual to determine the authoritative attitude of a Church by its formulated law, or by the practice of its individual members? Do we, following the Doctor's method, hold that the Roman Church, for instance, sanctions clerical marriage, because, although its law demands celibacy, in certain places and certain times individual Priests have had a "practice" which has not been "dans ce cas l'interprête de la loi, mais bien une protestation centre celle-ci?"

It is surely, my lord, the formulated enactments, not the practice of individual members, of the Church that must be held to commit her: although when the law is doubtful in its tenour, immemorial practice may be taken as supplying a valuable clue to interpretation. But in the present instance, as far as the Church herself is concerned, the enactments are neither few nor doubtful in tenour. This, the Doctors seem willing to admit, but it will be worth while to set before the readers a few instances selected from a greater number cited in my treatise:--


a. The Preface to the Ordinal. (Legal force--3 and 4 Ed. vi. c. 12.; 5 and 6, Ed. vi. ch. 1: 8 Eliz. cap i, §35: i Eliz. cap 2: 14 Chas. ii. 2, 20: 44 Geo. 3 c. 43). "And therefore, to the intent that these Orders should be continued, reverently used and esteemed in this Church of England, it is requisite that no man (not being at this time Bishop, Priest, nor Deacon) shall execute any of them, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted according to the form hereafter following." Cf. Walcott: The English Ordinal. Chap. vii. Haddan: Apostolic Succession in the Church of England p. 143. Blunt: Book of Church Law. 6 Ed. (edited Philimore) pp. 4-5.

b. The Canons of 1571.--April 3rd (6) Neminem autem peregrinam et ignotum vel ad sacerdotiorum proventus vel ad ecclesiasticum ministerium recipiet nisi ab illo episcopo e cujus diocesi discessit, literas commendatitias quas vocant dimissorias secum afferat. . . ." (8) "Episcopus neminem qui se otioso nemine lectorem vocet et manus impositionem non acceperit, in ecclesiae ministerio versari patietur."--Prothero: Statutes and Constitutional Documents, p. 200.

c. The 13 Eliz. cap. 12, Art. 3, None beneath Deacons allowed cure of souls.--Ibid: p. 64.

d. By the ixth Article of the Articles passed in March 1570 by Convocation, no one under the degree of a Deacon was allowed to preach. Arts. iv. and v. are directed against "pretended clergy men" with counterfeit letters of Orders, who were to be diligently searched out and punished (Convocation did not meet again till 1580.,--Collier: Eccles. Hist. Vol. iv. p. 550. (Ed. 1550).

e. Canons of Convocation, 1597.

f. Canon xxxix. of 1604.

g. Act of Uniformity, 1662. [e-g Requiring presentation of letters of Orders before institution.]

Of a different character to the above cited-enactments, Whitgift's Articles in 1583 countersigned by eight other Bishops, are most important. According to the vth of these Articles "None be permitted to preach, read, catechise, minister the Sacraments, unless he be a Priest or Deacon at the least, admitted by the laws of the Realm."--Prothero. Statutes etc., p. 213.


SUCH then was the Church's law: the question remains--was it carried into force? I will venture to give a few reasons for a strong answer in the affirmative, and afterwards I will endeavour to meet the contrary arguments of the Dutch Old Catholic Commissioners.

When we examine the administration of their several dioceses by the Elizabethan Bishops, we are tempted to think that in some cases room may have been more easily allowed than in others for Protestant intruders. But the Visitation Articles of the various Diocesans leave little room for such an opinion. Even Parkhurst of Norwich, whom Collier describes as being a man of "latitude and low principles" issued searching articles in 1561 and 1564. [Collier: Eccles. Hist. Vol. vi., p. 496. Collier contrasts his lax attitude in the matter of the Dutch refugees with that of Sandys, of London. "For as a man who travels owes the prince of the country where he resides a local allegiance, so a Christian of what country soever ought to be subject to the Bishop of the diocese where he dwells, provided he is Catholic and orthodox; for a Bishop within his precinct is an ecclesiastical prince, and has an independent commission from our Saviour." This incidental statement is well worthy of a great Anglo-Catholic of the early xviiith century.] All these articles may be found at length in the Report of the Royal Commission upon Rubrics, etc. of 1868: and it will suffice to give the following by Cox of Ely as a specimen. "Item: Whether their be any Parsons that intrude themselves and presume to exercise any kind of ministrie in the Church of God without imposition of hands and ordinarie ministrie." The Articles of Grindal (York) 1571: (Cant.) 1573: Alymer (London) 1571 and 1578: Sandys (York) 1578: and Whitgift (Cant.) 1588, should be studied.

Whitgift's Visitation Articles, May, 1584, are memorable because their severity provoked a protest from Lord Burghley, and an appeal for "less vehement proceedings." The Archbishop, in reply, justified the xith of his Articles, on the grounds that firstly no one duly qualified should be further troubled, and secondly, "to meet with such schismaticks (whereof there is sufficient experience), who either thrust themselves into the ministrie, without any lawful callings at all, or else take orders at Atweorpe, or elsewhere beyond the sea." Thus, in Whitgift's views "Orders" conferred "at Atweorpe, or elsewhere beyond the sea" could but create schismaticks! That the Archbishop had experience of such persons, he himself bears witness, but that it was his practice to. pi ace them in the charge of souls is a theory that must be reconciled with Whitgift's own express words "I know none such." [Strype: Memorials of Whitgift. Vol. iii. Append, xii. and xxx.]

The four Old Catholic Doctors appeal from the law to the practice of the Church. Surely the Visitation Articles of the different diocesans are valuable evidence as to what that practice was, but even if the theory of the Doctors were for the moment to be accepted, we should be still further at a loss to account for the action of the Bishops in framing laws and setting in motion the machinery devised for their execution with an express view to stultifying their own "practice."--


THERE is a class of evidence which, I am afraid, was hardly sufficiently developed in my treatise;--the complaints made on the score of their rejection by "non-Episcopally ordained" persons themselves. It is surely a political truism to urge that the character of a government may be judged by the opposition it provokes.

I. The subject of Traver's petition is by this time thread-bare. Travers, disliking the English Ordinal, went abroad and was "ordained" after Presbyterian fashion. On his return to England, much to his chagrin, his "orders" were challenged, and then finally rejected. In a supplication or protest, addressed to Whitgift he gives us the reasons why he thought his "orders" should be allowed to stand. He complained that Popish Priests were admitted, after assent to the Articles of Religion, but without re-ordination, by 13 Eliz , c. 12: and he asked, therefore, why should good sound Protestants be rejected? The Archbishop's significant answer to this appeal to the 13 Eliz. c. 12 will be commented on when we come to discuss the tenour of that Act: we must now notice that the Archbishop distinctly asserted in, reply that Ordination by a Bishop was no less required by the laws of the realm than was assent to the Articles, When Travers asserted that others equally innocent of Episcopal Ordination, "many Scottish men arid ethers, made Ministers abroad," had been recognised, the Archbishop replied "I know none such."

The four Doctors regard this reply as remarkable, and they balance the case of Travers "en faveur de cette sévérité" against the case of Morrison "contre la sévère attitude de l'Eglise Anglicane." We must demur from this. In Travers' case, we have before us full evidence unaccompanied by the two great difficulties which obscure Morison's; and further, in the first case, the Archbishop was acting in propria persona: in the second, the Act (made during Grindal's sequestration, (while he was rapidly falling into blindness and decrepitude), was that of a Vicar-general. The Doctors seem inclined to lay greater stress on the Morrison's argument because it is cited by Macaulay: this method of citing the great Whig advocate would tempt us to suppose that the Doctors are unfamiliar with the generally accepted estimate of the value of Macaulay as an historical authority.

2. The complaint of Travers that "Papistical" Priests were admitted to English cares of souls is; however, but one and the earliest of its kind. Let us first of all consider the case of John Penry, a Nonconformist minister, who suffered the extreme penalty of the law for writings judged to be seditious in character. Very shortly after his death (1593) a posthumous work of his was published, entitled "The History of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, applied to the Prelacy and Ministry of the Church of England, by Mr John Penry, a martyr of Jesus Christ." In the postscript to the publisher's preface, we read: "Penry was apprehended, adjudged, and executed for the truth of Christ whatsoever other things were pretended against him." In his own day, then, as in ours, Penry was a man much regarded by Protestant dissent. What he says will be of importance when read side by side with the similar statements of Travers confirmed as there by Whitgift's reply. "He," writes Penry, "That is made a Minister in some reformed Church beyond the seas, is not capable of the cure of a parish in this land, except he shall (have) a Deaconrie and a Priesthood after the order of our Land." What is here meant is clear from Penry's previous position that when the Pope's supremacy was set aside, "the Popish offices of Priests and Deacons were retained." He refers to the well-known words of the Preface, to the English Ordinal: "That these offices be continued:" and points out that "The case is clear that the Popish offices of Priest and Deacon were reteyned, and that the officers of Christ's kingdom (i.e. Calvinistic officers) were not restored." Thus, he concludes, "it is by virtue of the Popish offices of Priesthood and Deaconrie that the whole worship of God is performed, or rather polluted and prophaned in all the assemblies of this land." The very efforts of the Protestant party to get their institutions sanctioned by act of the State is, to his mind, a proof of their illegality. Thus, on the one hand the Protestant is extruded, and on the other "he that receiveth orders in Rome is correspondent and answerable unto the pattern of our Deaconrie and Priesthood, and so capable to buy and sel, that is to execute any publick function." Penry's appreciation of the Gift of the Apostolic Succession was similar to that of the unfortunate Puritan, who, being reminded of the fact "that these callings, which he reproached as anti-Christian had been approved by Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Ridley, and several others of eminent piety, who were martyrs for their religion in Queen Mary's reign," replied: "Most true it is, that they and others were martyrs in Queen Mary's days! but these holy bands," said he, slinking his fetters, "are much more than their's, because they had the mark of antichrist in their hands.--Collier, Eccl. Hist. Vol. vii. pp. 174-5. [The authors of the first Admonition regard the English Ordinal as altogether "word for word drawn out of the Pope's Pontifical" Prothero, Statutes and Constitutional Documents, pp. 198-9.]

3. Writing some nine years before the close of the period, during which the rulers of our Church stand accused of having admitted non-ordained persons to the cure of souls, John Canne, a dissenter, contends that the Protestant pastors generally intruded, during the exile of the English Church under Cromwell, have no right to gather tithes, since they are without the legal qualification of Episcopal Ordination. "They are not such incumbents ecclesiastical as the law allows." The only Ordination, he contends, that the, as yet, unchanged laws allow of is Episcopal Ordination, which he urges is "a Popish and unlawful vocation estranged from the scriptures, and unheard of in the Primitive Church." By our law, those who are made Priests in the Church of Rome, if they come to the Church of England retain their Priesthood, and as full and ample as before. And the reason is because the law puts no difference between a man made Priest at Rome by the Pope, or ordained Priest in England."--John Cane: A Second Voyce from the Temple to the Higher Powers, pp. 7 and 11 (Republished in 1849 by the (Baptist) Hansard Society.

4. John Robertson writes: "The Reformed Church do renounce the Ministry of the Church of England, as she doth renounce theirs, not admitting them to any charge of souls as they speak. On the contrary all the Mass-Priests, made in Queen Mary's days, which would say their service book in English words continued Ministers by the same Ordination which they received from the Popish Prelates."--Quoted by Rev. T. Handcock in Newberry House Magazine Feb, 1890.

It would not be hard to multiply evidence of this kind, but as your lordship will understand distance from any sizeable library forbids me from citing here any but fairly-familiar yet unchallengable sources of evidence. The works here cited were all well-known in their day, and one of them has been judged worthy of a reprint in the present century. How curious a commentary on the thesis of the Dutch Doctors then do these contemporary complaints of exclusion from the Ministry supply!


THERE are a few thoughts suggested by some of the historical arguments once set forward by our opponents, but now abandoned, which are worthy of consideration. Individual instances have been alleged by various writers in the Protestant interest, of persons alleged to be non-Episcopally 'ordained' who have held benefices or positions of importance in the English Church. These instances have generally been found to fall into two classes; in the first we find that the offices, to which the appointments were made, were those which, like a prebendaires or deaneries, have no cure of souls attached and may, therefore, not only by post-Reformation law, but also by Medieval law and practice, be held by mere laymen: in the second, we either find demonstrative proof of a "re-ordination" or else strong reasons for regarding such a compliance with the law of the land as morally certain. An instance of the first kind is to be found in the case of Whittingham of Durham, such as which I have dealt with at length elsewhere.--Firminger: The Attitude etc. pp. 22-4. The point now to be emphasised that the failure of our critics in each instance of the second kind, supplies us with a yet further proof of the "severe attitude" of the English Church towards non-qualified candidates for office within her jurisdiction. Let us notice a few instances:

a. Adrian Saravaia.--This is a case which need not be discussed in the present letter, because the four Doctors, with that obviously candid spirit of inquiry which breathes through their Reports, have acknowledged the force of the argument set before them on Saravia's behalf and very kindly state, that the case has been très bieen réfuté par Firminger. Yet it ought to be noticed that Saravia's alleged lack of ordination plays a formidable part in the argument brought against the English Church by Le Quien Estcourt, Child, and that very recently one of the very ablest of English Roman Catholics has advanced on the position of historical doubt maintained by his predecessors, and informed us that Hooker who made Saravia and his confessor, "whatever (he) believed about his own Anglican Orders, must have been quite aware that, judged by a Catholic standard, Saravia had no orders at all." [C. Kegan Paul in an article on Dr. Pusey. The Month Nov. 1894.] In my treatise, I venture to think I have shewn how strongly Saravia attacked the foreign Reformed Churches for their lack of Episcopal Mission. As Collier tells us, and as Saravia himself states over and over again, he left the Reformed Church of his native country simply on this ground i. e. the abolition of the Order of Bishops and the bestowal of their functions on mere Presbyters, It is hardly likely that Whitgift could have showered down honours upon Saravia while he vigilantly drove out or actually punished intruders who could produce similar credentials. But the absurdity of the whole theory of Saravia's non-ordination is after all best stated by Archdeacon Denison in the Preace to his translation of the posthumous Treatise on the Eucharist The Archdeacon points out that Saravia had for many years written upon the necessity of Episcopal Ordination, and that had he himself neglected to receive such ordination, the inconsistency would most certainly have been brought against him by his opponents, who assailed him with frequent and bitter personalities. But there is no trace whatever of any such charge ever having been even hinted at.

If then, it be held that Saravia was Episcopally-ordained, it follows that we have here a very important proof of the "severity" of the English Church in guarding her Apostolic traditions. It was this very "severity" that attracted so great a divine as Saravia to her midst.

b. The case of the younger Du Moulin requires further investigation. It has been asserted that, although he never received ought but the French Calvinistic pastorate, he held an English cure of souls. By a strange piece of fortune, it fell to the writer who has made most use of this alleged case, to come across a significant piece of evidence existing in a not very recondite source: "I find" writes Dr. Child, "a passage in Hacket's Life of Archbishop Williams, which states that he sent for Dr. Peter the younger out of France, and ordained him a Deacon to make him capable of his patronage." This at once cats at fie theory that foreign Protestant Orders as such stood good in England. The Rev J. R. Lunn, who has consulted the Register at Adisham, informs me that the entries shew that previous research his in this instance been quite at fault. It would seem that the rightful holder of the benefice, Dr. Oliver, had been rejected during the fall of that Church under the Commonwealth, and that in his place was intruded a certain Francis Quinton, who first signs himself Rector, and then crosses the word out and substitutes "Minister." In 1658, Oct. 8, Du Moulin is inducted by the (pretended?) patron--with Dr. Oliver's leave. It seems that Oliver, after the Restoration made Dean of Worcester, was a man who suffered a great deal in those times, and it seems only rational to account for his assent on the supposition that Oliver would feel that, in. his compulsory absence, it was better to have a Priest with Calvinistic views, than an unordained man. According to Mr. Lunn's researches, Du Moulin restored the rectory to Dr. Oliver on May 29th and after the latter's death, in the October of the following year, Du Moulin was formally collated to Adisham by Archbishop Juxon.--Mr. Lunn cites Noake's Worcester, and the Register of Magdalen College, Oxford. Can we believe that Juxon of all men would have appointed an unordained man to a cure of souls at the very time when hundreds of similar intruders were being expelled wholesale? Had not the Ordination Records at Lincoln for that period perished entirely, there would have been a very tolerable chance of placing Du Moulins's case beyond the need of indirect argumentation. In this short review of tha case, I have relied on a communication kindly made to me by the Rev. J. R. Lunn, to whom also I am much indebted for helpful suggestions on other points in the present controversy.

c. A third case is that of Thomas Gataker, which, in Bishop Patrick's time was much paraded. When the facts were examined, it was found that that eminent "un-Episcopal" nonconformist had, as a matter of fact, been ordained by the then Suffragan Bishop of Colchester. Bishop Patrick's authority is most remakable, for he was not only a contemporary, but was himself first "ordained" by a Presbyterian classis in 1634, and later on (1664) truly ordained by no less a person than Bishop Hall, of Norwich. (Patrick: Works (Oxford Edn.) Vol. vi., pp 286-7. Such "re-ordinations" became so common towards the closing years of the Puritan Commonwealth that the State was appealed to in order that they might be prohibited).

It must be remembered that the instances alleged of the institution of non-Episcopally 'ordained' persons can be counted on one's fingers, and that the abandonment of any one of them renders our opponent's position more than proportionately threadbare. Before leaving this branch of the evidence, I should like to draw your Lordship's attention to the temarious nature of many of these specific charges of careless or wantonly un-Catholic acts of administration. Estcourt, who still remains the best representative of the Romanist attack on our Ordinations, makes much of the case of Thomas Lancaster, whom, on the basis of a letter from Parker to Jewel (dated April 6, 15681 he asserts to have ordained several persons previous to his own consecration. [Denny: Anglican Orders and Jurisdiction, pp. 183-4. It is to be hoped that the appearance of the Revs. Denny and Lacey's De Hierarchia Anglicana will not stand in the way of a new and much-needed edition of Mr. Denny's older work. The results of the controversy since the appearance of M. Dalbus' articles in La Science Catholique need summing up.] This is a case in point, and not a digression, since Estcourt argues from his alleged facts that in the current English view "election and appointment is sufficient to confer the Priesthood or Episcopate without ordination or consecration." Unfortunately for Estcourt's theory, Lancaster, although "elect" of Armagh in 1568, was duly consecrated (according to the old Pontifical, Bishop of Kildare so far back as July, 1550, but as a married man, had been deprived by Queen Mary four years later.--Here then is another discredited instance!


A further argument, developed at some length in my treatise (pp. 15-17) need be only summarised in this place. It would be natural to suppose that if ever the English Church was so pressed for men to serve in her cures of souls as to render the use of unordained persons a necessity, then that time was the early years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The extreme Protestant faction were at that time restored to position and full of hope. The Roman secessionists had put things to a strain, and over and above their defection, there were ugly gaps made by an incursion of the plague. The pinch was most certainly felt, and it may be estimated to have lasted till about 1583, when the Church set in force a series of measures destined to free herself of "unlearned ministers." It would then be natural to suppose that if the genus of the English Church permitted of non-Episcopal "Ordinations," now would be the time for the Archbishops and Bishops to make use of the available material fresh at hand from Geneva. But that that she deliberately refused to do so is, I venture to think, made clear by the following evidence:--

a. Bishop Jewel's express denial. Cf. Apology pp. 32-3. (Cassel's Nat. Lib.) quoted in The Attitude pp. 46-7.

b. Complaints at Geneva. Cf. Zurich Letters 1-553-79. PP- 53. 63, 83, 108, 149, etc.--The Attitude p. 46.

c. What the Church actually did:--

(I). Increase in number of Ordinations.--During the first three months of his Episcopate Parker held no less than five Ordinations, at the last of which no less than 155 Priests and Deacons were ordained. Cf. Rev. N. Pocock in the Guardian for Nov. 9, 1892.

(2). Temporary unions of benefices under single Priests. Cf. Perry.--Students' English Church History, Vol. ii. p. 272.

(3). Appointment of Readers compelled by oath to promise not to "administer the Sacraments or other rites of the Church." Cf. Strype: Annals Vol. i. p. 225 (chap. xi.) Cardwell: Doc. Ann. p. 302, note.

On Feb. 9, 1589, Bancroft preached at S. Paul's Cross his famous sermon on the Apostolic Succession, and from that day we may date the gradual restoral of the English Church to her ancient position. If the law had not been altered during the period preceding this revival, when circumstances seemed grave enough to extenuate departures from normal practice, why should it have been altered at a later date, when such circumstances could be no longer pleaded, and the trend of contemporary opinion would be less ready to recognise any such a plea as a valid apology?


PASSING then to the historical objections raised by the Dutch Old Catholic Commission, we notice that they are three in number:--(i). The interpretation of 13 Eliz. c. 12. (2). The case of Morrison (3). The alleged recognition of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland as "une branche de la Sainte Eglise Catholique de Jesus Christ" by Convocation of the English Church in 1603. These last two objections are evidently culled from Lord Macaulay's History of England and as the Doctors seem to lay greater weight on the arguments used by so famous a writer, I will, with your Lordship's permission, venture to deal with them first. [Macaulay: History of England, Chap. i. The value of Macaulay's ecclesiastical "history" has been exposed by that writer's relative, the late Churchill Babington, and by the late Prebendary Harrington, of Exeter.]

A. (The Case of Morrison.)

The case of Morrison is a very difficult one, and it should be noticed that the reverend Doctors, while they recognise the two-fold difficulty, do not attach to it the same weight as we do on our side. I do not wish to trouble your Lordship with any needless repetition of the facts of the case, but I must take exception, to the statements as given by Lord Macaulay, who would lead us to conclude that the Act was the Archbishop's, and not, as was the case of his Vicar-General, acting during the Archbishop's suspension, and qualifying his curiously-worded license by the words "quantum in nobis est, et de jure possumus." If the Act was indeed, as we suppose was the case, based on an authorisation of Grindal's we need only urge that the Archbishop was acting, not only without jurisdiction, since he had himself submitted to his own suspension, but was also going beyond it in departing from the provision laid down by the Preface to the Ordinal (enforceable by Statute law): "No man, not being at present Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, shall execute any of these [Orders] except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted according to the form hereafter following." The besetting difficulty, however, lies in the assertion contained in the license to the effect that Morrison had been "per manuum impositionem admissus et ordinatus" "juxta laudibilem ecclesiae Scotiae reformatae formam et ritum." But the fact is that until the authorisation of the Second Book of Discipline, the custom of the imposition of hands was not practised by the Scotch Presbyterians. This apparent discrepancy in the wording of the license was hardly done justice to by Collier, who merely concludes that Morrison must have been "ordained" under the Second Book, "for the first will not allow of the ceremony." [Collier: Eccles. Hist. Vol. I. p. 629 (the Dutch Doctors misprint p. 638). The Dutch Doctors write: "Collier ne juge pas la difficulté à propos de la date assez grande pour nier le fait." It appears that Collier did not duly consider the difficulty involved in his supposition that M. was "ordained" by the 2nd Book.] The date of the alleged Ordination is 1572: the Second Book was not authorised till fifteen years later. Three alternative conclusions, therefore, present themselves, (I). Was Morrison ordained by one of the surviving Scotch Bishops, acting in connivance with the General Synod of the County Lothian? There is most certainly a conservative element in the history of the Scotch Kirk that needs fresh investigation. (2) Was Aubrey misinformed? (3) or was he conscious, as Collier suggests, "of a strain upon the English Constitution," deliberately inserting a falsehood in the wording of the license? If either of these two last hypothesis be accepted, it follows that the recognition of Morrison's "Orders" was of the nature of an individual act based on a false view of the facts of the case. How then is the English Church committed corporately by this single case, based as it was on either a misconception or a falsehood? If the first hypothesis were accepted, the case would rather tell in a very different direction than the one in which our opponents would feign take it.

A protest has already been made to the way in which the Commissioners set Morrison's case "comme pendant du cas Travers." In penal law, a case in which the penalties are set in force is infinitely more important than a case in which, the judges conniving, the penalties are not enforced. The former case attests the existence of the law: the latter but the fact that for specific reasons the law was not in a given instance executed.

B. The Alleged Recognition of the Presbyterian Kirk.

If, however, Morrison's is only an individual case, the second of Lord Macaulay's allegations would touch the corprorate character of the English Church. Did then, Convocation in 1603, recognise the Scotch Kirk as an integral part of the one Holy Catholic Church of Jesus Christ? This question cannot be more briefly or sufficiently answered than it has been by the Rev. E. Denny in his invaluable treatise on Anglican Orders and Jurisdiction. (Pp. 199-200) Referring to Dom. Breen's contention that Convocation in 1603 "declared the Church of Scotland to be a true part of the Holy Catholic Church of Christ, and in it there is no Episcopal Ordination or control." Mr. Denny writes: "The reference here is to the word 'Scotland,' inserted in the Bidding Prayer of Canon iv. of 1604. This, however has no reference to the "Kirk," as the following facts show; In March, 1603-4, when Convocation met, the President Bancroft (who, it is to be noted, held strongly the doctrine of Apostolical Succession), knowing that the King had ordered that the titular Bishops already existing in Scotland, should be consecrated as soon as possible, so that the parochial Ministry might be canonically ordained without loss of time, took care that the Canon should be so framed as to take in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and to pray for its grace by anticipation, being aware that, humanly speaking, it would be properly organized within a short time as part of Christ's Holy Catholic Church; morever it could have no possible reference to the "Kirk," for that was not the recognized form of Church Government in 1603, when it was passed: and Canon vii. of the same Canon excommunicates all who affirm that the Episcopal Church was anti-Christian, which was the exact position taken by the Presbyterians of those times."

(C. The 13 Eliz. c. 12).

In regard to the famous 13 Eliz. c. 12, it will be best to re-quote the interpretation placed upon that Act by the Doctors in their formal report to the Archbishop of Utrecht: "D'apres ce décret, les Ministres Protestantes, quand ils passaient a l'Eglise Anglicane, pouvaient en effet être admis sans ordination aucune, comme prêtre." They then proceed to argue on the narrow basis of a contested clause in an Act of Parliament passed in 1571, that the intention of the framers of the Ordinal in 1546, when abandoning the Roman, and framing a ritual of their own, was simply "pour donner expression à sa croyance changée. (De Apostolische opvolging in de Anglicaansche Kerk. Pp. 89-90). The express statement of the Preface to the Ordinal that the very same Orders which, "from the Apostles' time," "have been" "in Christ's Church," are to be "continued, and reverently used, and esteemed," must go for naught with critics who, unlike our Dutch friends, have a thesis to maintain. But what of the clause considered in itself, and in the light of its legal history?

The first clause of the Act states the aim in view--"that the Churches of the Queen's Majesty may be served with pastors of sound religion." For this purpose it is decreed "That every person under the degree of a Bishop, which doth or shall pretend to be a Priest or Minister of God's Holy Word and Sacraments, by reason of any form of institution, consecration, or ordaining than the form set forth by Parliament in the time of the late King of most worthy memory, King Edward the vith or now used in the reign of our most gracious Sovereign Lady, before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ next following, shall, in the presence of the Bishop or guardian of the Spiritualities of some one diocese whether he hath ecclesiastical living, declare "his assent, and subscribe to all the Articles of Religion which only concern the confession of the true Christian faith, and the doctrine of the Sacraments (i. e. the Articles as put forth by Convocation in 1562) 'etc. etc.--Given in Prothero: Statutes and Constitutional Documents. Pp. 64-5.

A question has been raised whether the word "only" italicised in the above quotation legalises a subscription to the Articles Concerning the "Confession of the true faith and the doctrine of the Sacraments" specifically, or whether it is meant that the Articles as a whole "only concern" the true faith etc. In the case of one Smith, it was decided in King's Bench by the Chief Justice and all the judges of England that the word only does not limit the subscription. The second clause authorises the Commissioners to deprive any "person ecclesiastical," who should insist on maintaining aught contrary to the tenour of the said Articles. No Presbyterian of the later xvith century type could have signed Art. xxxvi.

The last clauses, Nos. 3, 5, and 6, determine the nature of the qualifications to be demanded of all who are to be admitted in the future to "any benefice with cure." The age of twenty-three, Deacon's Orders at the least, and subscription to the Articles in presence of the Ordinary are specified in clause 3. Hence it is quite clear, that whatever may have been the nature of the retrospective clause I, the Act itself illegalises any other form or Ordination but the Catholic for the future. Clause I then remains for discussion.

Our contention, which the Dutch Commissioners traverse is, that Clause I is retrospective, that it has in view, not the Protestant non-Episcopally 'ordained' ministers, but the clergy Episcopally ordained under the restored old Pontificals in the reign of Mary. Had the Act contemplated the relaxation of existing laws in favour of Presbyterian Ministers, the 3 and 4 Ed. vi. c. 12, and 5 and 6 Ed. ch. i. and 8 Eliz. i, §3, §5 would have had to be repealed, and if such had been the intention of its framers, clause 3, requiring at least Deacon's Orders of candidates for institution would have thwarted their own purpose. It is true that under colour of this Act, certain contemporaries set forward a plea on behalf of non-Episcopal "Orders;" but we cannot find even a single instance in which the Act was authoritatively used to cover such a case. [Cosin in a much-quoted letter, cites the case of Whittingham's as a Dean in Calvinistic Orders. But in Whittingham's case the question of Orders, though it arose, was hardly relevant, since a Deanery is not a sacerdotal office. Cf. Firminger. The Attitude etc., p. 22. Note W. According to the Mediaeval Canon law, a benefice without cure could be held by a layman: after clause 3 of the Act discussed, no one without Deacon's Orders could be instituted into a benefice with cure.] Travers in his supplication, urged that "Popish" Priests were admitted under 13 Eliz. c. 12, and indignantly demanded that the same privilege should be conceded to a sound Protestant. Whitgift's reply is most significant. "When the like Act can be made for his Ministry, then may he allege it. But the laws of this England realm require that such as are to be allowed as Ministers in this Church of England should be ordered by a Bishop, and subscribe to the Articles before him." As Travers had the support of Lord Burleigh, it is hardly likely that Whitgift would have gone beyond the law's length in dealing with so powerful a "supplicator."

The four Doctors do not appear to appreciate the force of the principle laid down by your Lordship for the interpretation of this law. In the intention of the framers of the contested clauses, this Act had respect to Catholic Ordinations performed in the past, and not to the presentment of "Ministers" without Catholic credentials in the future: But over and above this contention, based on the actual wording of the Act, your Lordship well observes, "apud nos, non mens imponentium, sed praxis et iudicium curiarum semper pro vero sensa legum teneatur." If the Doctors wished to refute our interpretation of the 13 Eliz. c. 12. by proving that the custom and authoritative decisions of the rulers of Church or State are opposed to such a theory, we require that cases in point should be cited. All the Doctors, however, do is to present us with the case of Morrison in which there is not a single reference to the specific Act. The very form of Morrison's license with its mysterious apologetic clause about an ordination by imposition of hands, proves in itself that mere assent to the Articles in the case of Protestant Ministers did not satisfy the requirements of any known law. The contrary case of Travers on the other hand is a case wholly in point, for in it the specific Act is cited; this case, however, as the Doctors admit, makes wholly for our interpretation of the law. The fact is that the 13 Eliz. chap: xii has had a greater importance in controversy than it has in fact: while it gave the fullest powers to the Bishop and Commissioners to act in certain ways, we cannot find that any use was made of its provisions. The Ecclesiastical authorities passed it over in complete silence.

This leads us to the most important considerations that the Act in question was an Act of Parliament, and not of the Church. As we have already noticed the Canons of 1571 explicitly forbade any one not Episcopally ordained to usurp Priestly functions. The Doctors fail to exhibit their usual fairness when they attempt to determine the intention of the Church's liturgical document by an Act passed by the State, and ignored by Ecclesiastical authorities.

The only writer of any importance, who varies from the view of the Act here taken is Strype, who contends that the Act referred to the reign of Queen Mary, and to those who being exiled in that reign were ordained in foreign reformed 'Churches'. [Strype Annals ii. i. 105. Canon Bright has very kindly drawn my attention to this passage, which, in fairness ought to have been noticed in my treatise, The probable reason why this Act was not used by the Commissioners is given by Hardwick. Hist. xxxix. Arts. P. 153.] Strype, however, is important rather as a collector of, facts and documents than as a reliable commentator of them. Burnet, who had a vast knowledge of the Reformation archives, and was a man of extreme latitudinarian views on matters ecclesiastical, was of a different opinion, and we have his distinct statement that the Act in question dealt with Roman Catholic Priests desiring to make their submission, and not to so-called Ministers of the foreign Protestant sort. [Quoted in Birch's Life of Tillotson pp. 185-7 Cf. Also the anonymous Notes on the Life of Archbishop Tillotson. The more moderate Puritans in 1660 argued that the position of the English Church had never been "severe:" but Pearson, the famous divine, in replying to their statements regarding primitive customs, passed over this latter portion of their argument in contempt. I am fortunate enough to possess the pamphlets relating to their controversy, but they are at present at Oxford.]

Even Strype recognised that that Act was retrospective and not prospective: that it imposed new limitations and did not open any new loopholes.

I beg, then, my Lord, to submit (i) that the Act taken in itself does not refer to the Protestant Ministers to whom the Doctors have attempted to refer it: (2), that there is no case forthcoming in which the Act has been shewn by legal authority to have force the Doctors assign to it, while, on the other hand, there are cases in which the law was so pleaded, only to be interpreted in the way we have defined, and that (3) the Act was one of Parliament not of the Church; and that, therefore, it is absolutely impossible to use it as a proof of the Church's intention in one way or the other. As regards the mind of the English Church: I may safely submit to your Lordship, that the following words of Bishop Harold Browne expresses the real facts as to our corporate intention: the "Ordinal is expressly sanctioned and authorised, not only as a part of the Book of Common Prayer, but by the xxxvith Article, and we may observe that, not only is Episcopal Ordination enjoined by it, but in its present form it forbids that any shall hereafter be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, or Priest, or Deacon in the United Church of England or Ireland or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had formerly Episcopal consecration or ordination." [Harold Browne: Exposition of the xxxix Articles, Art. xxiii.]

Before leaving the subject of this threadbare Act of Parliament, I ought to notice a new argument the Doctors deduce from the fact that only those beneath Episcopal rank were required to sign this Act. As a matter of fact, if this Act was meant to apply to Presbyterian Clergy, the proviso, "under the degree of a Bishop," would be quite redundant. But it is obvious that as the English Bishops who had been ordained Priests under the old Pontificals, had already put the Articles forward by their own authority in 1562, and had at Convocation solemnly committed themselves to the Anglican position, it was quite essential to a well-drafted Act that these already approved persons should be explicitly excepted from its provisions. This first portion of the Act, as has been stated, is purely retrospective.


THIS, my Lord, is a matter I am precluded from dealing with at length. The Commissioners have taken no notice of those pages of my treatise in which I have shewn that in regard to Cranmer's share in the private answers given by the Royal Commissioners in 1540, the Archbishop's signature is attached to the orthodox reply of Leighton. They place no value whatsoever on A. W. Haddan's review of all Cranmer's public utterances on the subject of the Apostolic Succession. They dissent from the view expressed alike by the Archbishop's Protestant Editor, (Cranmer's Works, Parker Society), Vol. iv, p. 200, and that bitter Roman Catholic opponent of the English Church, the Rev. Luke Rivington. (L. Rivington, Dependence p. 117.) They do not seem to be aware of the unfairness involved in a method, which while all a man's public utterances on a given subject are Catholic, directs us, on the strength of a private speculative view tentatively expressed and practically withdrawn by the co-signature of a Catholic expression elsewhere in the same document, to regard a public document published some seven years later, as devoid of Catholic intention. [Crammer expressed an absolutely orthodox view in the passages dealing with Episcopacy in his adaptation of Justus Jonas' Catechism. Estcourt argues that these passages cannot be orthodox, because Jonas was a Lutheran. This is just an instance of the way in which our opponents evade the Catholic interpretation of our documents by means of some a priori theory of intention, private views, etc. Jonas did not write the passages in question, but Cranmer himself drew up and added them to the English version. As a matter of fact, the statements are perfectly orthodox, and at the time of first publication, the Lutherans had by no means as yet broken finally with the Episcopate. The Catechism appeared one year before the first Ordinal. Cf. Lacey and Denny: De Hierarchia Anglicana §128. Palmer: Book of the Church. Vol. I. chap xii. Kip: Double Witness of the Church, pp. 95-100.]


THE arguments of the Commissioners, which I, to the best of my ability, and, in despite of difficult circumstances, have now endeavoured to traverse, are directed to prove that the English Ordinal Was framed to give expression to a change in our national religion. Intent on this a priori line of contention, they are content to ignore the Ordinal's statement of its own intention--that those same Orders, which from the Apostles' time, have been in Christ's Church," should be "continued, and reverently used and esteemed." According to our Dutch friends, the aim of the Ordinal was that these same Orders should be discontinued, abandoned at a pinch, and theologically minimised. If this last is a correct view of the matter, how strange it is that preachers at 'Ordination should be charged by the Ordinal to declare "how necessary such Orders are in the Church of Christ."

The intention of the Edwardian compilers, we confidently assert, was not to produce a merely anti-Roman Ordinal (for they would not then have borrowed so much from the older Pontifical, but to produce a scriptural one. They desired to do what the Apostles did, and not merely, as the Dutch Doctors assert, not to do what the Mediaeval Church had done. For this purpose, they deliberately rejected the counsels of Bucer, and went back, for the essential form to those words of Holy Scripture, which they believed the Apostles themselves had used in conferring Holy Orders, To our minds, to intend to do that which Christ desired to be accomplished, is a sufficient intention, whether the consecrator be an agnostic like Talleyrand, or a heretic on Eucharistic doctrine like Archbishop Hermann of Cologne, or an ecclesiastical time-server like Cranmer tended to become. In this respect, I may perhaps, be allowed to quote a passage from an Article contributed to the [Roman] Irish Ecclesiastical Record by the Rev. J. Crowe, of S. Patrick's College [Roman] at Thurles:--

"A religious function takes place at the Chapel of Lambeth; its object was to consecrate--the word 'consecrate' is used in the records--a successor to Cardinal Pole. Can there be any doubt that it was regarded as a religious function? The place, a chapel in Lambeth Palace; the persons engaged, three assistant Bishops, and Barlow, the consecrating Prelate; the prayers and ceremonies in the Ordinal, all compel one to say that it must have been regarded as a sacred ceremony. Then Barlow was asked to be the consecrating Prelate, and he does it. No matter what the views of the English Church were at the time regarding the Eucharist, the rite, regarded as sacred, and as sacred by a Christian community, and performed by Barlow, by order or invitation, according to the doctrine laid down by Lugo and Franzelin, and, as far as I can ascertain, by practically every theologian of note, this is enough to guarantee the statement that the element of sufficient intention was not wanting at the consecration of Parker."---Irish Ecclesiastical Record. Jan., 1895.

Romanists who, in the light of specially-devised theories, condemn our Ordinal with so much aplumb, should surely, in fairness remember the liturgical ignorance under which scholars of the xvith and xviith centuries laboured. We call to mind at once the prevalent notion of the late middle ages to the effect that the traditio instrumentorum was the essential matter of Holy Orders. We know that until the time of Benedict the xivth's De Synodo Dioecesana, the Latin Church could not make up its mind as to which of the three impositions of hands in the Pontifical converted the Ordinandi into Ordinati. In the same way, our own Bishop Andrewes laboured under the then accepted error--that the Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, is the essential form. (Andrewes: Works Anglo-Cath. Lib. iii. p. 267.) Romanists, who find controversial tinsel in the acknowledgment made by certain Carolinian Divines that circumstances of grave necessity may extenuate a breach in the Church's normal order, should remember that Cardinal Morinus has left on record a long list of schoolmen and others who have taught "simplicem presbyterium, delegatione Pontificis, posse diacones et Presbyteros ordinare," a view speculatively sanctioned by Vasquez and patronised by Gratian, Peter Lombard, S. Bonaventura, Mich. Medina, Alphonso a Castro.--(Morinus: De Sac. Eccl. Ord. iii. ex. 4, c. 3 and 4. Vasquez in third part S. Thomas Diss. 243, Art. 3, 4.) Presbyterianism has its ancestry in the mediaeval Church, in the encroachments on the Episcopal Office by mitred abbots, in the missions of pardoners, and such like; as Bishop Forbes of Brechin has remarked, the holding of benefices and even bishopricks by non-ordained persons, "was distinctly an inheritance of pre-Reformation times." (Forbes Explanation of xxxix Articles p. 722.) 141 At no time during the 300 years which preceded the Reformation does it appear that the Scottish Bishops succeeded in making Orders an indispensable qualification for a benefice. Synodal Statutes in xiii. Provincial Statutes in the xvith alike confess the Rectories and other Offices of the Church were filled by men who had not even received the clerical character." (Robertson, Statuta).

We may venture to state these facts in no spirit of Tu quoque, but simply by way of protest against the attitude of absolute superiority assumed by so many of our opponents. Recognising that the corporate welfare of the Church is in the hands of God's Holy Spirit in all matters of human judgment those will be the nearest to the truth who can recognise mistakes made in the past as mistakes, and, while acknowledging faults, refuse to construct fanciful histories or abstract theories to serve in their stead. The evils with which our Church of England, the one true continuous representative in England of the glorious mediaeval Church, has been charged, are in the main those common to the Church in all times of her history: she has persevered against them, and, by God's grace, will persevere.

In the letter of the Dutch Doctors, the arguments I have attempted to refute occupy some nine out of forty-three pages, the discussion of Cranmer's alleged heterodox speculations, another eight, and the title page, and comments on the conduct of the controversy take up the first seven. A page (7-8) is devoted to justify the statement that the liturgical revisions of 1662 were of no great importance: pages 9 and 10 deal with the ambiguities of the xxxix Articles. It is on these last two pages, the Doctors avail themselves of Von Döllinger's Kirch und Kirchen (2nd Edn. of 1861) in a way we justly deplore. Döllinger's ripe and final views as to the English Church are to be found, not in his earlier works, but in the Reports of the Bonn Conferences, and in the correspondence, as far as it has been made public, with Anglican friends, such as Mr. Gladstone, Canon Liddon, Dr Plummer and others. It is a curious thing that the Doctors should revert for adverse materials to two great Ecclesiastics who both have recognised the validity of the English Succession--Bossuet and Döllinger. The last three pages deal with a few secondary points of importance, and so practically the pith of future discussion will turn on the matters connected with Anglican Eucharistic doctrine, discussed on pages eleven to twenty-four.

In their earlier Report, as- in their reply to your Lordship's, criticisms, the Doctors have made their honesty of convictions and purpose as clear as the day: from first to last they are sympathetic as well as candid critics. Having examined their reasoning with some care, I may perhaps venture to attribute their faulty conclusion to a misapprehension of the exact value of certain authorities in whom they seemed to have placed too great a reliance. Lord Macaulay's partisan presentment of Ecclesiastical characters and affairs, the late William Goode's Defence of the xxxix Articles, the admissions of a certain "M. Sykes," quoted in a very obsolete Papistical work of controversy, Von Dollinger's early attacks on a Church he afterwards respected and formally acknowledged, are instances of a failing we cannot but regret in the method of our Dutch friends; and apart from the evidence on which they are based, we can recognise no historical, liturgical, or legal authority, so far as the Anglo-Catholic Church is concerned, in the statements of such writers as Cardinal Vaughan, the Rev. W. F. Taylor (surely not "Archdeacon" of Westminster), and the eminent nonconformist who writes the ecclesiastical leaders in the Times newspaper.

It would be untrue as well as disrespectful to the Old Catholics of Holland, to say that the conclusions of their Commissioners are devoid of pain to ourselves. The tone of the Report and subsequent letter would lead us to believe that the Doctors themselves are deeply grieved by the necessity of stating these conclusions which they have only reached after so much honest Christian labour. It is to this candid spirit of free historical inquiry, to this peace-loving disposition, to this ardent desire for the re-union of all Catholic-minded men in one visible Fold, we appeal, as the ground of our confidence that, in the near future, not only the Dutch Old Catholics but the Western Church as a whole, will recognise those truths relative to our sacerdotal claims which we, by daily experience, as well as by critical inquiry, know and feel to be indubitable.

I am,
Your Lordship's obedient servant,

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