Being the substance of an address delivered to the congregation of St. John the Evangelist's Chapel, Montreal, on Sunday, the 2nd of July, 1871.
(After the Meeting of the Diocesan Synod)
Together with a correspondence with the Lord Bishop of Montreal and Metropolitan, respecting "The Rule of Life," and the Suspension of the Rev. A. Prime, L.T.
READERS of this Address who are not au courant with the state of the Church in the Diocese of Montreal, should bear in mind that the writer, and his little congregation, have been, for thirteen years, the butt for the scorn and malicious misrepresentation of the (so called) Evangelical party.
At the recent Synod, members of the Evangelical section accused him of holding, consciously, all Roman doctrine while professing himself a member of the Anglican Church; they declared the worship in his Chapel to be idolatry; they likened him to "Satan." More need not be said.
There is a time when passive endurance ceases to be a virtue. The writer, therefore, determined on the present occasion, to speak out. He trusts that, in doing so, he has not, by word or innuendo, violated the law of Charity.
Montreal, July 10, 1871.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.--Eccles. iii, 1-7.
SUCH a time is the present, it seems to me, my Friends and Parishioners: for a painful duty is imposed upon me to-day, a duty from which I dare not shrink. Called, as I believe I have been, by the Providence of God, to minister in a position of sacred trust among you, if I give up my work, as I often feel sorely tempted to do, I betray my trust; if I hold on and keep silence I seem to betray it; either way there is scandal. Men's tongues are busy. Misrepresentation is being widely (I fear wilfully) spread. In many, and especially in sensitive minds, there is much uneasiness and misgiving.
I speak, then, and most willingly to you, my own dear people, in reference to those matters which were so unwarrantably and unconstitutionally pressed by a faction in the Synod of the Diocese.
It must be well known to you that the questions agitated in the Synod were based on the alleged circulation of a paper printed originally for cottage walls in England. Two copies only of the paper were circulated; one is now in the possession of the Bishop, the other is in my hands.
The paper is called "The Rule of Life," and is published, without name of author or editor, by the Church Press Company, in London.
Those who objected in the Synod, (if my memory serves me) took exception to five chief points in connection with the paper. These points were: 1. Prayers for the Dead: 2. Sign of the Cross: 3. Seven Sacraments: 4. Confession and Absolution: 5. Transubstantiation. To these five points then I will direct your attention, after having read the paper to you exactly as it stands, without comment or remark. I ask you to listen attentively; and, should you disagree with what you hear I ask you further to suspend your judgment till you hear, what I have to offer, either by way of explanation or qualification on the other side.
1. Now my first remark is this, that while I do not in all respects approve of the wording of many passages in this document, I do not honestly believe that the doctrines set forth in it,--the real doctrines, mind,--not perversions and misrepresentations of them--are contrary to the teaching of the Church of England. The tone of the paper, as a whole, may or may not be satisfactory; I do not say that I think it unsatisfactory myself; in many respects I think it is simply and beautifully expressed. I frankly admit it to be in excess of what is commonly held and practiced by many members of our branch of the Church, but I do maintain that it is not contradictory to what is laid down in words, in the Formularies, Catechism, or XXXIX Articles.
2. Then you must remember that our branch of the Church Catholic leavers her children free to form their own opinions upon some points of religious doctrine and practise. She does not tie up every point as to which differences of opinion might possibly arise. She does not say in every case, you must believe or practise this, exactly this--neither more nor less. And, indeed, in allowing this liberty she does but act consistently with her own well-known principles; for she nowhere claims, standing by herself alone, to be infallible. Therefore we may conclude that outside these doctrines declared by the whole undivided Catholic Church of Christ, and contained for the most part in the three creeds, and excepting, of course, those errors and abuses distinctly discarded at the reformation; she allows a wide range of liberty for individual minds. To those who set up their own narrow convictions as the alone standard of truth, and who thus practically assert for themselves the prerogative of infallibility, the claim to this liberty is, not unnaturally, extremely irritating: but sober and sensible Church people will rejoice that it exists, knowing that if it were otherwise the Anglican Church would be a mere sect without pretensions to true Catholicity. She nowhere forbids her children to believe more than she has laid down; she nowhere says "you must believe this, exactly this, neither more or less." But she does state a certain number of Truths and Dogmas which are a minimum. She says you must believe this at least, if you wish to be a true and consistent Church of England.
But again, while I claim the right to hold the doctrine set forth in this paper, "The Rule of Life," if I see my way clearly to do so, yet (as a matter of fact) I do not hold it all. And thus I am brought to a closer consideration of the five points to which exception was taken at the Synod.
I. The first point was prayer for the faithful dead. Speaking for myself, I have never been able to see my way to use such prayers. Nor have I been accustomed to use them. Many friends, older than myself, whose learning and piety I hold in high esteem, deem me wanting in exact fidelity to the practice of the ancient early Church, which was strongly in favour of the custom. But so it is. I am content to leave the faithful dead in the hands of God, knowing well that there they are, and must be, safe. Yet I love to think of the dead; I love to mingle their names in my prayers by way of grateful commemoration; I love to bless God's Holy Name for them, and to ask of Him "grace to follow their good examples, that with them I may be partaker of His heavenly kingdom;" but there, so far as my convictions go, I am compelled to stop.
Yet I should shrink instinctively from the least approach to an attempt to make my own opinion, or my own practice, upon this point, a rule for others. If others see their way to use such prayers, and find any comfort in using them, I have no wish, and I can claim for myself no right, to interfere with their liberty. Surely the boldest man amongst us would hesitate before branding with the charge of heresy or unfaithfulness such worthies as Dr. Samuel Johnson, the saintly Heber, John Keble, Bishop Wilson and others. [Private Prayer of Bishop Wilson before consecrating the elements in the Holy Communion.--"Remember, O God, for good, the whole mystical Body of Thy Son, whether on earth or in Paradise: that such as are yet alive may finish their course with joy, and that all such as are dead in the Lord may rest in hope and rise in glory for the Lord's sake, whose death we now commemorate."]
Bishop Harold Brown, of Ely, says that there can be no doubt but that this custom very early prevailed among Christians, and, further, that there is not the least necessary connection of the matter with the doctrine of Purgatory. This Bishop (from whom I have quoted) is an extremely moderate and safe man. His work on the XXXIX Articles is put into the hands of Divinity students as a text book by almost all our bishops, and, I believe, by our own Bishop of Montreal. Here is a specimen of such a prayer taken from the book in question. "Remember, O Lord, Thy servants which have gone before us with the sign of faith, and sleep in the sleep of peace. To them, O Lord, and to all that are at rest in Christ, we beseech Thee to grant a place of refreshment, of light and peace." Now I ask any sensible person what possible harm or heresy can there be in a prayer like this?
II. The Sign of the Cross. I should think, my brethren, it would be hardly necessary to say much on a subject such as this. It seems to be mainly a matter of taste. The sign is used, as you know (and its use is compulsory) in the administration of Holy Baptism. If it be right to use it then it cannot be very wrong to use it at other times. The fact that it may sometimes be used lightly, irreverently, or superstitiously matters nothing at all in the question, for the abuse of a thing does not take away the right and lawful use of it. Tertullian, who wrote at the end of the second century, tells us that it was used on almost every occasion by the early Christians. [In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross.--Tertullian's Apology.]
III. The VII Sacraments. The "Rule of Life" certainly does not say explicitly that there are seven Sacraments. But it does, I admit, seem to put five Holy Ordinances of the Christian Religion on a level with the two great sacraments of the Gospel--Baptism and Holy Communion. To this I decidedly take exception. But I could not stand before you as an honest man in this place to-day if I allowed you to imagine that I do not regard the other five ordinances as essentially sacramental in their nature. I look upon them as sacramental in their nature, though below the level of the two great sacraments of the Gospel in dignity and efficacy.
IV. Confession and Absolution. This much vexed question has long ago received the best of all solutions--a practical solution. It must be perfectly well known to all f you that when any desire to open their grief and to receive a special absolution, opportunity of so doing is freely afforded them in this church. However much people may object to the custom, however hateful and repugnant the idea may be to the mass of people who will not enquire dispassionately into the arguments for or against it, depend upon it that so long as there are sin, sorrow and weariness of heart in the world, so long there will be confession. Although you have already heard them, yet I will, before passing on to the last point, read you the three passages in our Prayer Book, which, to my mind, settle the matter beyond cavil or dispute.
¶ When this Prayer is done, the Bishop with the Priests present shall lay their hands severally upon the head of every one that receiveth the Order of Priesthood; the Receivers humbly kneeling upon their knees, and the Bishop saying,
"RECEIVE the Holy Ghost for the Office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
¶ Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special Confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which Confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thine offences: and by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
"And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned minister of God's Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God's holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness."
I cannot understand how any fair and impartial mind can help concluding from these passages that the Church of England does sanction and provide for confession and absolution. Words cease to have any meaning if these passages can be so explained away as to make confession and absolution unlawful; and a person must have been accustomed to a strange way of using and handling words who can see in the practice of anything out of harmony with the mind and intention of the Church.
V. The last point charged against this paper was that of Transubstantiation. I fail utterly to see where and how the doctrine is inculcated. It possibly may be deduced by a thoughtless person from the words "Real Body and Blood," but I think very wrongly. If our Lord's presence is there spiritually, as we claim to hold and to teach, yet it is not the less a Real Presence. The idea of Spiritual Presence, which we hold, does not do away with the reality of the Presence which we also hold. Rather the Presence is, if we may so speak, all the more real because it is Spiritual. Transubstantiation, if I understand the doctrine as held and taught in the Roman Church, involves the annihilation of the species of bread and the reproduction in their place of the Body of Our Lord. I am sure there is nothing approaching this in the "Rule of Life."
But there is one other matter in connection with it which I wish to touch on, but which will be difficult to handle without going into the matter at great length; I mean the doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. I hold, with the "Rule of Life," that the Holy Communion, besides being a Sacrament, is, in a real and true sense, a sacrifice also. The Church had never defined any doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, though the Doctrine has formed the very life of her worship from the first. Thus it is that there have been various theories held with regard to it in different parts of the Church. I hold then this, in sum, to be the sacrifice of the New Testament, so far as I am able to understand it.
Semel factum, immolatum
et in terra.
In Persona propria, et per se
Sub signis sacramentalibus, et per manibus ministrorum;
Once made, "once for all,"
Upon the Cross.
and On earth.
Visibly and personally,
Under sacramental veils and by the hands of Ministers.
This then, brethren, concludes the five points under review. I have been obliged to touch upon them in the briefest possible way, but I have given as frankly as I can my own belief and practice respecting them. I claim for myself liberty (and bid you to assert for yourselves the like freedom) to hold all doctrine which is in accordance with the teaching of the primitive Catholic Church. For it is to that Church that our own Church of England teaches us to look as the safest interpreter we can find, of the mind of Christ and of His Holy Apostles.
There are, as you are well aware, in our Prayer Book three Creeds in common use in the Church services, each more precise in its terms than the opther. In each we profess our belief in "One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church." Now we must believe that those words so often put into our mouths mean something precise, something definite. They clearly do not mean what is popularly called the "Protestant Religion." [Nor the Protestant idea that Churches are man-made associations--spiritual joint-stock companies, so to speak,--for religious purposes, formed and dissolved at will, as men may please.] They evidently mean something over and above the Church of England and her Colonial dependencies. They must mean, then, (we are driven to the conclusion) that Divine Society founded and constituted by Our Lord and His Apostles, continued on to this day, and represented by the Latin, Greek and English Branches. You must remember--I cannot insist on it too strongly--that in being made members of the Church of England, you were (ipso facto) in the most real sense, made members of the Church Catholic, and that therefore whatever the Church held, up to the time when the great schism silenced her living voice, you have a full and perfect right to hold and practice.
Surely it is passing strange that our claim to hold the well ascertained opinions and practices of the early undivided Church should be denied or contested by those who do not scruple to contravene the known and clearly expressed teaching and practice of our Prayer Book. Let me adduce one instance to illustrate my meaning. I do so in no unkind or invidious spirit. The Baptismal service of the Church of England teaches, if words mean anything, what is technically called, in theological language, the Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration--that children are regenerate in, and by, Holy Baptism. But it is a well known fact (and I beg you to observe its significance,) that hundreds of clergy when they stand before God and the Church, with these words on their lips, "Seeing now, dearly beloved Brethren, that this Child is regenerate," don't believe a word of what they are saying. A clergyman in the Diocese of Illinois has recently been suspended for leaving out the words which he could not, as an honest man, ex animo, pronounce. I respect that man, (though I regret his contumacy,) for demurring to utter words which he did not, in his heart, believe. The moral which I wish to deduce from what I have said, and which it deeply concerns some of my clerical Brethren of the Synod to bear in mind, is this, that no clergyman has a right to attack his brother or charge him with illegality and unfaithfulness unless his own hands are clean. A proverb well known to you exactly hits the present case. "Those who live in glass houses should beware how they throw stones." So I might go on to enlarge on other instances of unfaithfulness to the plain, unmistakeable directions of the Prayer Book, e.g., the universal neglect of Daily Public Prayer and of the observance of Holy days, violation of plain rubrics in the administration of the Holy Communion, omission of the Athanasian Creed and Commination service, and (most grievous wrong of all) withholding the Church's offer of Absolution to the sick in dying.
Surely, clergymen who solemnly vow to carry out the requirements of the Prayer Book in its integrity, might refrain from hurling cruel and unjust accusations against those of their Brethren who accept it, and try to obey it, as it stands!
But there is besides one special inconsistency which it amazes me to think that our adversaries should apparently never have perceived themselves to be guilty of. They claim it to be the God-given right of every man to interpret the Bible ofr himself and to form his own opinion of its force and meaning. [See resolution moved by Archdeacon Bond at the Bible Society's meeting as recorded in their Report for 1870.] Then they deliberately turn round and quarrel with us because our interpretation and judgment differs from theirs. Surely it is open to us to think that when our Lord said "this is," He did not mean us to add a "not." So again, it is, to say the least, possible that Onesiphorus was dead when St. Paul prayed for him, and it would be a most tyrannical abridgment of our Christian Liberty, and altogether contrary to the Protestant theory of private judgment, to deny us the right of holding the practice of prayers for the faithful dead, if it commends itself to our conscience and judgment as being right and true.
Undoubtedly the most painful aspect of this whole question, and that which bears equally on you, as a congregation as it does on myself as a clergyman, is the attitude which the Bishops, with a few exceptions, take (and have taken from the very beginning) towards this religious movement, and these principles which we believe, in the main, to be right and true. Especially painful is it when we are brought into antagonism, more or less directly, with a Prelate whose stainless character and high gifts of personal holiness command universal regard and respect. So it is now. From my own Bishop I have received much consideration; and a forbearance on one occasion which, (when I recall a misunderstanding in which I was clearly, and I fear wilfully, wrong) will ever call forth my gratitude. Still the fact remains that the Bishop disapproves of the doctrines which we hold, and the practices (some of them at least) which we inculcate. His Lordship has said as much in a letter addressed to me. It is possible that he may say so again and more publicly. It behoves us to consider this matter. The Bishop's opinion will be popular. The majority will hold by the Bishop (for we undoubtedly are in a very small minority); but still, I maintain that it is not, strictly speaking, a question between a Bishop and an incumbent; therefore it is that I speak fearlessly, certain that I shall not be misunderstood or misjudged. The question has a much wider scope. The question turns on the issue, before raised, as to our right and liberty, laymen, as well as clergy, as members of the one Church of Christ, to hold all doctrines and opinions which were held by orthodox Christians, in the primitive Catholic Church; "and not to differ from other branches of the Church, except in those particular points wherein they have fallen both from themselves and their ancient integrity, and from the Apostolical Churches which were their first founders."--[XXX Canon.] Our Bishops are not, nor do they claim to be, Popes. We do not take our doctrines or our ritual from our Bishops, however good or holy they may be; our doctrines are ready, cut and dried (if I may say so) from the earliest ages of antiquity. On this point, dear brethren, it is to be hoped that the mind of many of you is firmly and securely made up. You are in earnest, you know what you believe, and why you believe it; and you are resolved (are you not?) God helping you, to join with me in doing what in you lies, strenuously and with all your power, to maintain and uphold the Catholic character--not the Roman character--but the Catholic character of the Church of England; all ultra-Protestant and Puritan factions and forces, to the contrary, notwithstanding.
I feel that some sort of apology is due to you, my hearers, for the fact that my address has taken so much the form of a profession of faith. No other form seemed possible under the circumstances: the wholesale abuse heaped on us personally, the extraordinary charges of IDOLATRY, and I know not what besides, the wilful misrepresentations of the doctrines we hold, which were flung broadcast through that dreadful Synod, all seemed to make some such declaration as that which I am to-day making, (but solely on my own account,) a positive necessity.
I distinctly repudiate all essentially Roman additions to the old Catholic Faith once delivered, such as the claim of the Pope to universal Supremacy and Infallibility, Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Invocation of Saints and Angels, the cultus of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Compulsory Confession, Enforced Celibacy of the Clergy, and, the Theory of Indulgences. All these, and other like additions to the Faith, I disavow.
In conclusion, I desire to say that I accept our dear old Prayer Book AS IT IS--untouched, unbracketed, unmutilated, with its formularies, Catechism, XXXIX Articles--in its literal and grammatical sense. I desire nothing changed; I can do without additions; I desire nothing better for myself than that the holy Prayers which I have SEEN visibly consoling many and many a dying soul in its last agonies, may cheer and illumine my way through the valley of the shadow of death, when my time to pass through it shall come. I desire nothing bettter for myself, nothing better for you.
I desire to disclaim all party names and watchwords. One name alone will I accept, and that an honourable name. Not Ritualist: not Sacerdotalist: not High Churchman: not (alas! that a worthy name should be so travestied) Puseyite--but Catholic. I claim to be a member of the Reformed Catholic Church of England; I claim a right to that liberty of opinion and practice which She allows; I claim to be allowed to worship in accordance with Her traditions. I never quarrelled with any man about his religion; I hope, I think, I never shall. I claim, then, in my turn, to be let alone; I claim the support of my people; I claim the support of my Bishop against all narrow-minded and fanatical self-constituted judges and persecutors; until it shall have been clearly proven in a fair trial before competent and impartial judges, that I hold and teach what is contrary to the teaching of the Church.
One concluding caution I offer to you, my dear people. Try, and try earnestly, to think and speak of those who trouble us, with charity and forgiveness. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." If we cannot unite with those who misunderstand us here, those who misjudge us, those who calumniate us, those who cast out our very name as evil, well, do let us honestly and sincerely pray that we may at least meet in the world to come, where no discussion, no discord can enter, but where all will be concord and joy and peace in the presence of the Prince of Peace.
This correspondence has been added with the Bishop's consent. The writer of the Address did not wish to seem to blink the fact that there is the widest possible divergence of opinion with him, in the highest quarters, on the matters in question. It seemed only right, in making a claim to uphold the Catholic character of our Branch of the one Church, that everything should be honestly set forth, even if it seemed to make against the claim, rather than for it.
He is, however, deeply pained to have to place on record the Bishop's statement respecting the "isolated" and "suspected" position of S. John's. S. John's (with the clergy) has been in that position for thirteen years. Yet it has thriven in a most wonderful manner, under a manifest Blessing. Bishop Fulford, who knew all the writer's mind) while S. John's was exactly in the condition in which it is found now, wrote, only two months before his death, that the incumbent had "worked most faithfully" under him for ten years. The record of this fact will suffice to reassure any who might feel doubt or anxiety.
Lastly, it should be remembered that at the instance of the present Bishop the practice of S. John's was greatly "modified." Lights, the Legal Eucharistic vesture, the stole, the sign of the cross, &c., &c., were relinquished. But it has not come to the knowledge of the writer, so far, that other churches, whose practice is notoriously defective have, in any way, corrected their use in an upward direction.
How it can be possible to modify views of what he believes in his heart to be THE TRUTH, the writer is at a loss to conceive.
LACHINE, June 23rd, 1871.
MY DEAR MR. WOOD,--In regard to the document which was handed to me in the Synod yesterday, I had intended, immediately on leaving the Hall, to write and ask you to send me a disclaimer, either as having yourself circulated it, or as having yourself permitted its circulation by others.
I was glad, however, to be spared this painful necessity by receiving a prompt and clear letter from you stating that you had "no share in the circulation" of it; and further stating your "readiness on the least expression of a word from me to stop such circulation."
I have carefully examined the Paper, and consider it entirely contrarient to the tone and teaching of our Church. I therefore gladly accept your promise to stop its circulation so far as lays in your power.
As the charge of its having been disseminated by one of the Clergy of S. John the Evangelist's has only been disclaimed by one of your Assistants, Mr. Norman, you will not be surprised that I now enclose a letter to your other Assistants, Mr. Prime, whom I lately licensed, asking him to disclaim it also.
I am, dear Mr. Wood,
Very faithfully yours,
MONTREAL, June 26, 1871.
MY DEAR LORD BISHOP,--I received your Lordship's kind letter late on Saturday. In reply, I think I ought to state clearly two matters in connection with the "Rule of Life."
1. I knew that a layman had imported a few copies. I glanced through one of them; and, with a few remarks, the tenor of which I do not remember, laid it aside. I did not read it carefully through till I heard (to my regret) that a copy had been given to a methodist living in my district, and that the paper had been conveyed from her to Canon Baldwin, who (I was told) had made fun of it at some Bible Class, or Religious meeting, over which he presided.
2. Although I neither hold nor practice everything connected with or contained in the "Rule of Life," yet I cannot honestly say that I believe it to be contrarient to the tone and teaching of the Church. I feel that, as an honest man, I ought to tell your Lordship this. You will, I know, believe me, when I say that I make this statement simply in order to deliver my own soul, not out of any, the least, opposition to what you have said in your kind letter to me respecting the Paper.
With great respect,
I remain, your Lordship's faithful Servant,
The Most Rev. The LORD BISHOP of Montreal,
Metropolitan, &c., &c.
LENNOXVILLE, June 29, 1871.
MY DEAR LORD BISHOP,--Mr. Prime having admitted that he has circulated the Tract to which my attention has been called, I feel it to be my bounden duty, though a very painful one, to withdraw his Licence; and so long as he holds his present views I must withhold my consent to his officiating in any Church in this Diocese.
I regret taking so decided a step, but as the Chief Guardian of God's truth in this portion of His Church, I am bound to vindicate her from all complicity with erroneous teaching.
I am at a loss to understand how a Clergyman of the Church of England, honestly holding her doctrines, can for one moment doubt that the Tract in question is contrarient to the teaching of the Church. I must hope that on close examination you will feel otherwise.
Yours very faithfully,
MY DEAR LORD BISHOP,--I received your letter dated at Lennoxville, and containing an enclosure for Mr. Prime, late last night.
I will forward the enclosure without delay.
I most fully appreciate the painful position in which your Lordship is placed: and am convinced that you are acting in accordance with what you blieve to be for the interest of the Church. Yet, my dear Lord, the kind manner in which you have taken up this matter emboldens me to make a suggestion. It is, that your Lordship should withdraw just so much of Mr. Prime's licence as empowers him to preach. (I refer to the second portion of the ordination service, ordination for Deacons.) Your Lordship would thus record your disapproval of the Tract in question, and Mr. Prime would still be able to say the public Prayers and read the Word of God in Church.
And I cannot but think, my Lord, that this would be a gentler exercise of discipline, which, I submit with all respect, it would become your Lordship to use, and at the same time give less pain to my Reverend Brother.
This request is based partly on selfish grounds.
The daily administration of the Lord's Supper, and the two daily services in addition, would prove, I fear, more than I could easily bear.
As to the "Rule of Life," I am going, if all be well, to read a plain and direct statement of my views concerning it, to my own people to-morrow. I shall transmit a copy to your Lordship with the earnest request that, should you deem it heretical, you will at once take formal proceedings against me and give me a lawful trial.
This course, I feel sure, is the only one which will put a stop to anomalous and unconstitutional proceedings, like those adopted at the Synod towards myself and my Church.
With sincere respect, and with earnest prayers for your good guidance in all things,
I remain, my dear Lord Bishop,
Your faithful servant in Christ,
To the Most Rev. the Lord Bishop of Montreal, &c., &c.
P.S.--While I undertake not to distribute the paper for devotional or doctrinal puposes, amongst my own people, I reserve to myself the right of reprinting it, with the view of correcting the false impression of its contents which has gone forth through the misrepresentations (untintended, I am willing to believe), of Canon Baldwin, and others.
LACHINE, July 7th, 1871.
MY DEAR MR. WOOD,--I would gladly have yielded to your suggestion, but I feel that Mr. Prime has shewn himself so wanting in discretion, as well as in soundness of views, that I cannot consent to his engaging in any ministerial work. It was in the exercise of his pastoral duty, and not in preaching, that he lately offended. I am very sorry not to be able to accede to your request, both for his sake and for yours.
You rather alarm me by telling me of my taking formal proceeding against you. That would be very far from my wish. But what I do earnestly desire is that you might see your way to so modify your views and your practice, that yours might cease to be a suspected and isolated Church, apart from the rest of the Diocese--and that you would thus cast in your lot among us, so that we might all pull heartily together, and be strong in our labours. I have no hesitation in saying that this is your duty before God, and in this way you would most promote His glory.
I am, yours very faithfully,
MONTREAL, July 5th, 1871.
MY DEAR LORD BISHOP,--I have received your letter. I grieve to note the necessity which your Lordship feels of adhering to your original decision, respecting Mr. Prime. I may be allowed, (without disrespect to your Lordship, I feel sure) to express my own conviction that the punishment is unduly severe, and excessive.
I write now to ask leave to publish this correspondence respecting "The Rule of Life." It is necessary. I find a wrong impression respecting my own share in, and views respecting the paper has got about, owing to the notice in The Gazette, published "with authority"--the authority, I presume, of your Lordship.
I know you will be pained to learn that the first intimation Mr. Prime received of his suspension was through the newspaper which was handed to him by a friend.
I am, my Lord, in very deep sorrow,
Your faithful Servant,
To the Most Rev. the Lord Bishop of Montreal, Metropolitan, &c., &c.
LACHINE, July 7th, 1871.
MY DEAR MR. WOOD,--You have my full consent to publish the correspondence which has taken place between us, provided you still think it desirable. I gave a friend authority to do so if necessary, stating at the same time my extreme dislike to parade these matters before the public. The result was the insertion of the paragraph to whihc you allude, and which I did not see until I read it in The Gazette.
I am very sorry that Mr. Prime did not receive my letter earlier. I sent it on Thursday the 29th, and it should have reached him the next morning, whereas the notice in the paper did not appear till Saturday.
Very faithfully yours,