Dr. Philpotts and the Oxford Movement--The Gorham Case--The Church in the Three Towns--Creation of new parishes--The district of St. Peter's--Eldad Chapel--Prynne's marriage to Miss Fellowes (1849)--Opening of church and schools--Protestantism in Plymouth--The beginning of the agitation--The introduction of alms-bags--Interview with Bishop Philpotts--Plymouth memorial to the Primate (1848)--Dr. Pusey on the wisdom of moderation.
IN order to realize the courage displayed by Dr. Philpotts in appointing a man of such pronounced views as those held by George Prynne to an important charge in his diocese, it is well to recollect the ecclesiastical conditions of those days, general and local. If, with Newman, we take Keble's famous Assize Sermon as the start of the Oxford movement, the great revival had already been making itself felt within the Church for close upon fifteen years. Three years earlier, in October, 1845, the movement had sustained its most terrible blow in the secession of John Henry Newman. This, and other disasters of lesser magnitude, had imparted redoubled vigour and increased bitterness to a revival which had from its inception been regarded with general and deep-rooted hostility. Nevertheless, the movement was making itself felt, particularly among the more earnest of the parochial clergy, and among some of the more eminent public men, chiefly those who had been educated at Oxford. The masses of the population were almost without exception strongly and violently opposed to the revival, and the bishops, or nearly all of them, hated the movement and trampled on the defenceless clergy who identified themselves with it. What Archdeacon Denison called the "anti-theological" element of the English mind revolted against the definite teaching and fearless speaking which came from the leaders of the Oxford movement. People of all classes were fanatically determined to oppose the introduction of any ceremonial which savoured, as they fancied, of Popery, with all its attendant evils. Moreover, the Government, with Lord John Russell at its head, detested the members of a party which did not hesitate to resist the imposition of a man like Dr. Hampden upon the See of Hereford. Prynne, at this time thirty years of age, was not only a member of the abhorred party, but was also known to be a friend of its strongest and most prominent leader, Pusey.
Locally the ecclesiastical situation was exceptionally strained by reason of the Gorham case, which in point of date overlapped that of Dr. Hampden. On November 2, 1847, the Rev. G. C. Gorham was presented by the Lord Chancellor to the living of Brampford-Speke, Devonshire. Upon the occasion of his presentation to another living, St. Just-in-Penwith, just previously, Bishop Philpotts had not been satisfied with Mr. Gorham's views on the subject of Holy Baptism, believing them to be inconsistent with the teaching of the Church. Having examined Mr. Gorham, and being dissatisfied, Dr. Philpotts refused to institute him. Mr. Gorham took his case to the Court of Arches, where judgment was given against him; and then to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which decided in his favour (March 8, 1850). The Bishop still refusing to institute, Mr. Gorham was instituted by the Dean of Arches, acting on the Primate's authority. During the whole course of the Gorham case public feeling was highly excited, the Bishop's printed letters, and other literature bearing upon the affair, being eagerly bought by thousands in the streets of the metropolis. The Surplice Riots which took place at Exeter, to which allusion has already been made, afford another indication of the excited and violent state of public feeling in the diocese regarding matters ecclesiastical at the time of Prynne's appointment to St. Peter's, Plymouth.
Dr. Philpotts--"Henry of Exeter," as he was generally termed--differed from the majority of his episcopal brethren in that he did not display the dignified apathy which was at that time the leading characteristic of the bench. Ruling an immense diocese, which included the whole of Devonshire and Cornwall, he was essentially a man of vigour--a great man in every sense of the word. Early in his episcopate he recognized that it was in the growing centre of naval and military life, known as the Three Towns, that the Church in his diocese would be forced to face her most acute problem. It was here that the Church needed her ablest and most vigorous priests, if the spiritual needs of the large and ever-increasing population of Plymouth, Stonehouse, and Devonport were to be met. To one of the new districts in this great centre George Prynne came at the Bishop's call in the summer of 1848.
Early in that year Dr. Philpotts had issued a special appeal for help to relieve the spiritual and moral destitution of the great seaport, whose population, like that of many another big town at this period, had hopelessly outgrown all existing provision for religious teaching and worship. The Bishop asked for at least four new churches; additions to the small endowments of some of the existing clergy; and "for schools on an ample scale and in larger number." Advantage was taken of the Act of Parliament passed in 1843, "An Act to make better provision for the spiritual care of populous parishes"--usually called the Peel Act--to create three new parishes in Plymouth,--St. Peter's, St. James-the-Less, and St. John's, Sutton-on-Plym. The two former were taken out of the parishes of St. Andrew's, Plymouth, and East Stonehouse; the latter out of Charles' parish, Plymouth.
Of these new districts the one which most greatly stood in need of help and oversight was undoubtedly St. Peter's. The population of St. Andrew's parish was returned at 23,564 in 1841, and by 1848 it had largely increased. The new district assigned by the Bishop under the Act was about three-quarters of a mile square, and at that time contained a population of about five thousand. With the exception of one corner, the district was inhabited by poor people, and was well known as one of the most poverty-stricken and degraded in Plymouth. With the exception of a small Latter-Day Saint chapel, whose chequered career terminated soon after the creation of the new parish, no place of worship existed for those five thousand souls. St. Andrew's and Stoke Damerel churches were respectively half a mile distant. Truly here was an ideal field for that missionary activity and those powers of organization which George Prynne had already given promise of.
Upon the creation of St. Peter's district in 1847, the Crown--which under the Peel Act presented alternately with the Bishop--appointed as incumbent the Rev. Edward Godfrey, whose first object was to provide a church for his people. In regard to this endeavour Mr. Godfrey was fortunate in finding an empty and closed proprietary building, known as Eldad Chapel, standing in a central and elevated part of the new district. This chapel had been erected in 1830 by the followers and admirers of the Rev. J. Hawker, who, after a curacy of thirty years at Stoke Damerel, had seceded from the Church of England as a protest against Catholic Emancipation. The building was, of course, never consecrated, and, Mr. Hawker having died, it was closed and for sale. Ugly and unsightly as it was, the building was adapted for public worship, and its situation was excellent. With the Bishop's help and sanction it was purchased from the trustees who held it, £3,550 being given for the chapel and its fittings. The actual purchase was not complete when, in May, 1848, Mr. Godfrey, after six months' incumbency, accepted an Indian chaplaincy, and resigned charge of St. Peter's. In a letter giving his solicitors power of attorney in regard to the funds obtained to purchase the chapel, Mr. Godfrey expressed the hope that it would be consecrated as speedily as possible, and that the district might thus become a parish under the Act. Looking back over the intervening years, it is strange to reflect that Mr. Godfrey, the first incumbent of St. Peter's, has survived his successor, living through Prynne's long incumbency of fifty-five years.
In going to Plymouth, on Mr. Godfrey's resignation, George Prynne found himself on familiar ground. He had been much in the Three Towns in his schooldays, and when visiting the Rundles at Stoke. Indeed, his aunt, Mrs. Rundle, was a follower of Hawker, belonging to Eldad Chapel in the days of that erratic cleric's ministry. Prynne, in his diary (December, 1844), mentions a service he had attended in the chapel, when "Mr. Hawker delivered a wandering, unconnected string of words, after mangling the Church prayers, omitting the Absolution, the Litany, etc., ad libitum." Little could he then have thought that within four years he would himself be officiating as vicar within the same chapel. Prynne was instituted to the new district, August 16, 1848, and a fortnight later Eldad Chapel was formally licensed for Divine Service as the Church of St. Peter's, Plymouth, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners guaranteeing an income of £150 per annum, £50 of which was conditional upon the provision and consecration of the church.
Prynne, just thirty years of age, entered on his work with vigour and hope. Recalling this period of his life, some thirty-five years later, he observes :--
"It may be thought that I was presumptuous in undertaking such a task, under such conditions. Could I have foreseen all the difficulties and anxieties which were before me, probably I should have shrunk from it; but God in His wisdom does not always enable us to see and measure the weight of the cross which He wills us to bear. I was young and sanguine, and eager to carry out the work which my bishop had given me to do. I set to work earnestly to do what I could, trusting that if I did so, God would send me help."
Immediately Eldad Chapel was licensed, the young vicar began services in it, without waiting for the completion of the alterations which were needed to make it more suitable and churchlike. These alterations included the throwing out of a chancel, the removal of the hideous galleries, and the provision of an organ. The latter necessity was met by the generosity of a young lady to whom he had been recently introduced, and whom he soon afterwards married, Miss Emily Fellowes, the second daughter of Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Fellowes, C.B., at that time stationed in the Three Towns. They were married in St. Andrew's, the mother-church of Plymouth, on April 17, 1849, and for more than fifty years this lady was his devoted wife and helper. Mr. G. E. Street, then a rising young architect, and with whom Prynne had already had dealings in regard to the new church at Par, designed a small chancel, work on which was begun as speedily as funds could be raised.
After the church, the great need of the parish was an elementary school; and Prynne thus tells how he first met this necessity:--
"The only room I could find for the purpose was a loft over a sawyer's yard, to which the only access was a flat step-ladder. I hired it at once, and fitted it up as best I could with some roughly-made desks and second-hand forms. A modern school-inspector would be shocked at such crude arrangements for education, so different to all the grand buildings and patent fittings which prevail now; but then the Church was struggling with all her might, and almost single-handed, to rescue the poor from their degrading ignorance. I engaged a master at a very small salary, and my room was soon filled with boys from the roughest part of my district. I never dropped that work. It was the nucleus of the large and efficient schools which now exist in the parish. As time went on, I was able to secure a larger room, then one for girls, then to build schools for boys, girls, and infants; but my mind turns back with a strange interest to that little beginning of educational work amongst my poor in that rude loft."
The old Eldad Chapel was first opened as St. Peter's Church in November, 1848, and the occasion marks the beginning of that long battle between Catholicism and Protestantism which was to rage around its walls, and in which George Prynne was destined to play so splendid a part. Plymouth, hitherto, had been practically untouched by the Catholic movement, which in those comparatively early days had only affected isolated parishes scattered up and down the land. The two principal churches of the town, St. Andrew's and Charles, were in the hands of pronounced Evangelicals, and in each the "parson and clerk" type of religion prevailed, to the exclusion of all decency and beauty. The late Rev. R. Barnes, whose incumbency of Holy Trinity, Plymouth, began about the same time that Mr. Prynne commenced work at St. Peter's, has told how in those days, on what was called "Christening Sunday," a crowd of low characters was wont to gather around the doors of St. Andrew's Church, eagerly offering to stand sponsors in return for sixpence or a pint of beer. The incident sufficiently indicates the low ebb to which, in Plymouth as elsewhere, Church life had fallen. True, even at this time, some attempt to hold up a higher ideal was being made, daily services being held in a little semi-proprietary building called St. Andrew's Chapel--now St. Catherine's Church-- which was frequented by the few who sympathized with Tractarian teaching. But it had little influence on the town, and its services were quite devoid of anything in ritual or teaching sufficiently pronounced to be attacked. Plymouth at that time, even more perhaps than now, was a Nonconformist stronghold. All through its latter history the town has stood as the champion of Puritanism and Independence-- two words which accurately summed up its Church tone at the period of which we speak. The teaching and practices of the newly-appointed incumbent of St. Peter's, therefore, at once attracted attention and provoked hostility in such an atmosphere. Moreover, it seems that his reputation as a Puseyite had preceded him in Plymouth, which explains the strong and evidently organized opposition to which he was subjected even on the first occasion of the opening of the church. There is no evidence that at this or at any future time in his career as vicar of St. Peter's Prynne found himself in opposition to his genuine parishioners, or that they ever formed part of the disgraceful band of agitators whose proceedings rendered St. Peter's famous, and themselves notorious, during this early period of the development of the Catholic movement.
The charges brought against him in these bygone days seem astonishingly trivial now, but they were brought with violence, and had to be met with seriousness at the time. They include, chiefly, the use of the surplice in the pulpit--which had given rise to the Surplice Riots in London and Exeter; chanting the Psalms and intoning the service; bowing at the Name of Jesus; omitting a prayer before the sermon; reading the Prayer for the Church Militant instead of closing Morning Service with the blessing from the pulpit after the sermon; and the substitution of alms-bags for plates in the collection. It is difficult now to understand the seriousness with which these things were regarded or the excited opposition they aroused. Allowance must, of course, be made for the inflamed temper of the time, which caused Popery to be suspected in the most trivial steps towards obtaining greater decency of service. Such recollections can alone explain the portentous solemnity of a leading article like that which appeared in the principal local paper, the Plymouth Herald, the day after the introduction of alms-bags at St. Peter's. It was headed, "The Judas Bag at St. Peter's," and the article was quite in keeping with its title. As to the antipathy displayed towards any outward sign of reverence at the Holy Name, the Plymouth people did not stand alone; for, more than ten years later (1861), Bishop Waldegrave of Carlisle publicly rebuked from the pulpit of Lowther Church some young persons who observed this pious custom. In London, moreover, Bishop Blomfield, alarmed at the result of his injunctions concerning obedience to the rubrics, was seeking to retract his previous orders in the matter of the surplice, hoping, doubtless, to quell the riot which its adoption had raised. Facts like these throw some light on such events as those that marked the early days of Prynne's ministry at St. Peter's, Plymouth.
The Plymouth opposition to the Tractarian movement as exemplified at St. Peter's was undoubtedly an organized opposition, in this respect resembling that which had to be met in many other Catholic churches, like St. George's-in-the-East, and St. Barnabas, Pimlico, about the same time. Again, as in London so in this provincial town, it was engineered by the Press, the slightest change in the services at St. Peter's exciting storms of execration and abuse against "Priest Prynne" from the chief local newspaper--now defunct. Was the prayer before the sermon to be discontinued? Then would "the fires of Smithfield soon be lighted in our midst." The introduction of alms-bags aroused a hope that the "man" responsible for so iniquitous a change would "receive the sack, and be no more accounted a guide of the orthodox Church." No language was violent enough to denounce "the vagaries which he (Priest Prynne) has introduced into what he calls the celebration of Divine worship."To Press and people, unfortunately, must be added many of the local clergy, and, notably, the vicar of St. Andrew's, Plymouth's mother-church. This gentleman, the Rev. J. Hatchard, showed himself a determined and unscrupulous opponent of Prynne from the beginning, and, acting through the instrumentality of a handful of retired service men, was the chief ringleader of the agitation for some years.
The first active sign of opposition took the form of a remonstrance addressed to the new vicar; and a meeting of protest was held on the Friday after the church was opened, which Prynne attended, endeavouring to conciliate the protesters. It may be that his enemies thought thus early to terrorize the young priest and spoil his work at the outset, but if so they were strangely ignorant of the man with whom they had to deal. Prynne never once showed signs of wavering, but, fearless and determined, pursued the course which he held to be right, regardless of disturbances within his church and demonstrations without, abuse from the Press and from the platform, threats of personal violence and numerous other manifestations of ill will. In all his long struggle, moreover, he was splendidly backed up and sustained by the calm and judicious support of his bishop, the famous "Harry of Exeter." Looking back along the years of steady Catholic progress in Plymouth to that initial struggle, it is difficult adequately to express our appreciation of Dr. Philpotts' conduct at that time. He was in every sense a true Father in God, perfectly fearless and entirely impartial; a strong ruler of men, yet conciliatory and fair to a degree that compelled the admiration even of his bitterest opponents. The history of the Catholic movement proves that its triumph has never been dependent on episcopal approval; but it is safe to say that its success in Plymouth would neither have been so speedy nor so sure had it not been for the able direction and advice of Bishop Philpotts during his long rule of the Exeter diocese. From the beginning of the crisis Prynne consulted his diocesan, winning his confidence by so doing, and gaining the help of an invaluable counsellor. On the very day following the first demonstration the young vicar received this letter from Dr. Philpotts:--
"Bishopstowe, December 2, 1848.
"I have received a letter by this morning's post, informing me that there is great probability of a riot, if you preach in your surplice to-morrow.
"Now, although I think that the surplice is the more proper vestment to be worn in the pulpit in Morning Service, yet as the Law of the Church is not imperative, or entirely clear, on this point, I advise you not to hazard a disturbance, if there be (as I am informed) any likelihood whatever of this occurring.
"Such an incident might be productive of serious prejudices against you and your ministry.
"I am, dear Sir,
Prynne at once went to Torquay to see the Bishop, who, in the following letter, embodied the advice given at this interview:--
"In order that you may clearly understand the full meaning which I wished my words to you this day to convey, I think it best to state it to you in writing.
"I have read the paper which contains the communications made by you to certain individuals of your district, in answer to a remonstrance on the manner in which Divine Service was performed by you on Sunday morning last, when the licensed building was opened for that purpose.
"On the first particulars, the use of the surplice in the pulpit, in the morning, I have no hesitation in saying that I esteem it the proper vestment, and that the changing your dress twice (as it will be necessary for you to change it twice, in order that you may perform the rest of the service) is offensive to every reasonable person, and has something in it really like Popish form, which the preaching in the surplice has not. At the same time, bearing in mind the success which has attended the efforts of mischievous persons elsewhere to rouse the feelings of the ignorant on this subject, and as there is no express law of the Church on the point, I do not advise you to persist in the use of the surplice.
"To the second particular I have nothing to say. Whether the Litany shall be chaunted or simply said, is a matter left to your own discretion by the Church; and if you are satisfied that the larger part of your congregation would wish to avoid chaunting, I do not forbid you to yield to that wish, if it can be done without encouraging a sinful spirit of wilfulness-- prescribing to their minister in matters on the fitness of which he is to judge.
"With respect to the third particular, their requiring you to say a short prayer before the sermon, I cannot advise you to submit to such dictation. It is true that in modern times it is customary to say such a prayer; but it is a very modern custom, for there was an express Royal order by one of the Kings George--forbidding it as contrary to law, and requiring the observance of the 55th Canon.
"I am glad to find that this manifest innovation is in many places changed for the proper usage; and I will not encourage a lawless and presumptuous attempt on the part of a small portion--and surely not the most exemplary or religious portion--of the laity to force a clergyman to a violation of laws, both of Church and State.
"I am, dear Sir,
"Your faithful friend and brother,
"P.S.--It is painful to see that there are any persons in your district who show themselves insensible, as they are doing, to the value of that great blessing which it has pleased God, in His way, to give them, in now having a Church instead of a conventicle. That Church must not only be a Church in name but in truth.
Your prayers will not be wanting to your active endeavours to bring back a long misled people to the service of Almighty God in His Church.
"May His grace be with you and them. May He give you a right judgment in all things. Especially may He give you the spirit of firmness and constancy in things which you deem necessary; tempered by a discreet regard to the feelings of others in matters on which the Law of the Church leaves you at liberty, and by an ardent desire and longing for the edification of those whose souls are committed to your care. Lastly, may the spirit of Christian love reign in the hearts of yourself and of your people, so that whatever of misunderstanding may have marked the outset of your connection, the end may be to you all, Peace on Earth and Glory in Heaven."
This letter apparently produced a good effect, for the disturbances threatened for December 3 did not occur, the objectors contenting themselves with marching out of church as soon as the Prayer for the Church Militant was announced. As to the alms-bags, the Bishop wrote (December 3,1848) forbidding their use as "clearly wrong," and "an advantage to the adversary." He adds: "I gave this direction in another place." Prynne informed the Bishop of the good effect produced by his lordship's letter, and at the same time complained that he had reason to fear that the Vicar of St. Andrew's, Plymouth, was at the back of the agitation, and sought permission to vindicate himself and the bishop, who in his turn had been attacked by the Press for countenancing and defending the Vicar of St. Peter's. Here is the Bishop's reply :--
"Bishopstowe, December 6, 1848.;
"If you give anything to the public, I hope you will include your being asked whether I had j ever 'commanded you to use the surplice,' and your answer that I had not.
"So far as my memory goes, I never gave you any special directions of any sort respecting the mode of celebrating Divine Service. If I am I right in this recollection, I should like its being made public also. For the same reason, I wish it to be known, that on having learned you had made the collection in bags, I had written to you, expressing my disapprobation and desiring that it should in future be made in a basin, as directed by the rubric.
"Did I ever give you any directions respecting celebration of Divine Service before Saturday last I as embodied in my letter to you?
"Your P.S. contains a very important statement. Have you any objection to inform me of the grounds on which you say the Vicar of St. Andrew's is the author of a letter which you state appeared in the Record some short time since, saying that I 'had appointed a young man to the I district of St. Peter's, Plymouth, fully pledged to carry out my sectarian views'?"
The following letters from the Bishop dealt further with this very serious allegation and with the situation generally:--
"December 14, 1848.
"I had much pleasure in hearing a statement in a newspaper which was read to me, that on Sunday last all went off quietly and well at St. Peter's, and that you had a large congregation.
"It is clear, therefore, that you need no vindication to protect you from the consequences of Mr. Hatchard's most reprehensible proceeding. Under these circumstances you can afford to spare him any further exposure. . . . But I hereby state, and authorize you to state to every one, that it is utterly untrue that you were appointed to St. Peter's under any pledge whatever. Nothing was said respecting the performance of your duties either in Church or out of it. I had not heard any special account of your performance of them elsewhere. I only knew that you had gained the respect and affection of populous parishes in which you had been minister, and that you had published a volume of sermons pronounced to be excellent by persons of competent qualifications to judge. You owed your appointment solely to your high character."
On December 11th a meeting was held at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth, "to take into consideration the propriety of memorializing His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Longley) in reference to the present alarming state of the Church of England, and of this diocese in particular." It is significant of the excitement which existed that over a thousand persons attended this gathering, at which the resolution was carried and a memorial to the Primate adopted.
Writing with reference to this meeting, the Bishop asks some pertinent questions: "Is it supposed that t Mr. Hatchard or other clergy have promoted the meeting? Are the requisitionists nominal Churchmen, or any of them avowed Dissenters? I see the names of three admirals and several physicians. What kind of persons are they?" The Bishop also expresses a desire to learn "more particulars respecting Mr. Hatchard's share in exciting the movement generally." So closed the year 1848. Meanwhile, the memorial to the Primate had been taken to Lambeth and presented by a local deputation, and the Bishop writing to Prynne concerning it on January 1, 1849, takes the opportunity of expressing the earnest hope that God may bless you during the year which has just opened upon us, with every blessing on yourself and on your ministry."? From a long and valuable summary of the whole position locally that appeared in the West of England Conservative, a Plymouth paper, of January 3, 1849, several interesting points appear. After speaking of the urgent and general need that existed for Church discipline, it observes:--
"We believe that for the last fifty years and upwards, in no part of the kingdom has this laxity of salutary discipline prevailed to a greater extent than in the diocese of Exeter; every clergyman seems to have assumed the right to conduct the services of his church or chapel/
"In 1831, 280 incumbents of the Diocese of Exeter were non-resident, while Confirmation services were seldom held at the principal churches in Cornwall and Devon until something like 1000 candidates could be brought together from the surrounding parishes. according to his own judgment or fancy, and until lately has been permitted to do so without check or control. It is to the Right Reverend Prelate who now presides over the diocese that we are indebted for the attempt to remedy the manifold evils resulting from the loose and disjointed system which has so long and so mischievously prevailed. The task, as may be readily imagined, was one of no ordinary difficulty, and the effort to accomplish it required the exercise of great decision of character and sound experience and judgment. Possessed of these mental requisites, his lordship has done much to restore the discipline of his clergy, and to increase their usefulness. In our own neighbourhood his lordship's exertions have already been productive of great good, and the prospective alleviation of the spiritual destitution that abounds in and around these towns should gladden the heart of every Christian. But these reforms in the discipline of the Church have called forth the ire of those who preferred the free and easy system of innovation that has been permitted so long to prevail; the dissenters, also, the congregations of whose chapels have dwindled into insignificance since the district churches have been opened and the gospel preached to the poor 'without money and without price,' have taken alarm; and loud, bitter, and violent have been the denunciations of wrath against the Bishop for every error in judgment or practice, real or imaginary, committed by the ten clergymen attached to the seven districts."
The writer goes on to outline the occurrences at St. Peter's during Mr. Prynne's incumbency, and meets with considerable force a few of the more glaring misstatements which had been enshrined in the memorial to the Primate already mentioned.
That the young priest in these, the first trying days of his incumbency, had the advantage of Dr. Pusey's wise and moderate counsel will be seen from the following letter, written about this time:--
"35, Grosvenor Square, 2nd Monday in Advent.
"I was very sorry to see the worry to which you have been exposed. I hope it is now come to an end. These scenes do stir up so many bad passions, and so set people against the truth. Certainly one should be glad that greater reverence could be restored; but I have long felt that we must first win the hearts of the people, and then the fruits of reverence will show themselves. To begin with outward things seems like gathering flowers and putting them in the earth to grow. If we win their hearts, all the rest would follow. I have never had the responsibility of a parish, but while I could not but feel sympathy with those who held themselves bound by every rubric, I could not but think myself that since the Church of England had virtually let them go into disuse, we were bound to use wisdom in restoring them, so as not, in restoring them, to risk losing what is of far more moment, the hearts of the people. We have high authority for avoiding even words which may give offence: and for myself, I avoid using technical language and try to teach truth in as acceptable a form as I can. People shut their ears and their hearts against the truth in one form, which they will receive patiently in another. It is quite amazing how much truth even the prejudiced will receive, so long as they do not meet with the terms which they have been accustomed to object to. And so they get leavened they know not how; and their old narrow belief falls off like the serpent's old skin, when it outgrows it.
"I am very glad to see that you acted on the advice of the old men to Rehoboam. One could not but see, amid all that prejudice against P--ism, that there was a good deal of real attachment to the Church. And, after all, the dislike of innovation is a good principle: for there ought not to be innovation in matters of religion. At Devonport, too, where they have been so long neglected, they require the more patience. Were I at Devonport I would not edge in any outward changes, as though I were waiting for further opportunities, but go on earnestly preaching, visiting, teaching, be forward in every work of mercy, enlist people's sympathies for the poor, show them that we have large common ground, and that the characteristics of this formidableism are deeper love for God, and of man for His sake.
"I think it is of great moment that we should not foster the impression that this great battle is about things external. They think themselves forthwith more spiritual than their teachers, whereas the very thing which we wish to teach them is deeper reverence and awe of God, deeper sense of their own responsibility, deeper knowledge of God's gifts in the gospel, more frequent communion with Him, conformity to Him, etc.
"When they have learnt this in some degree, there will be no more battles about surplices. There will be a deeper strife, but it will be with the world.
"You will not mind my thus speaking, but it is a common cause, both in that my own name is I so blended with yours, and, much more, for the sake of the cause itself.
"God be with you always."