TWO great duties meet us in the relationship by which we are bound to each other in this world, just as there are two great component parts of our nature, the body and the soul; the body of the earth, the soul of heaven.
First, there are those duties which affect us in our civil relationship, as men incorporated together in a body politic, wherein the laws of government are considered, and all the questions of subject and king, and the various bonds by which society is linked together, and our life from day to day enabled to be carried on harmoniously.
Secondly, there are those duties which affect us in our spiritual relationship, as men possessing within, a hidden, secret life, unknown to any without, but solely and individually responsible to Almighty God, wherein the laws of conscience are considered, and all the questions of the soul are weighed and balanced, and the various hindrances or advancements towards eternal salvation are every day brought before us. In one word, according to the teaching of our blessed Lord, there are to every one of us, for the every day practice of life, "the things of Cæsar, and the things of God."
If we ever could achieve a state of perfection in this world, then these two positions would be identical, and when we should be pursuing the things of the spirit, the conscience, and the inner man, we should be pursuing [3/4] simultaneously that which was advantageous to the external temporal body. The good of each would be the same, for if all mankind obeyed Almighty God on a principle of religion, and in obeying Almighty God, acknowledged His blessed Son as Divine Head and Fountain of all things in this world, and so recognizing Him, acknowledged His authority and power, incorporated in the great Apostolic body which we see before us--THE CHURCH--visible, perpetual, and universal;--if all mankind, I repeat, were agreed in this principle, then, of course, whatever forms of civil government any nation might assume, that civil government would be identical with the spiritual government of the Church, and being so, would be identical also with the government of the conscience, and the spiritual man within. The question of our blessed Lord, in that case, "Is it lawful to render tribute unto Cæsar or no?" would never have been asked. There never would have been a doubt concerning it, there never would have been any difference or separation between one man's view of it and another man's view of it, because, as is plain, the rulers of the state, ruling only by Christ, for Christ, and in Christ, and dealing with those who on their part were similarly ruled over in their consciences by Christ, and for Christ, and in Christ, could never come into collision with each other. One could never demand, and the other never could be demanded, to acquiesce in any point of duty but one, wherein the external act and the internal conscience would agree. The civil capacity of the ruler, and the spiritual capacity of the Christian, could never but tally with the conscientious principles of the ruled; and every Christian soul in maintaining his civil obedience, would be simultaneously maintaining his spiritual obedience, and in maintaining his spiritual obedience, would be simultaneously maintaining his civil obedience.
Such would be the perfection of government.
But from the very first moment that it comes to pass in the history of a nation that the rulers and the subjects differ in the conscientious principle within, differ [4/5] in the obligations of faith, differ in the objects of worship, or differ in the principles of the Apostolic Church, not all seeing Christ's Body therein, one, single, and the same for ever, but, may be, some living in separation, some in heresy, some altogether deniers of the faith, then the bond of authority which is to incorporate the governing power in its civil relationship may indeed remain and be acknowledged, but it is no longer the same bond of authority as that of the Church. For it is evident that we may have different communities of religion, opposed to each other; but seeing that the state, as such, must be of some one community of religion, the other communities differing from it could no longer render it spiritual obedience. If such obedience were demanded, it would be demanded at the risk of the conscience within, and the destruction of religion. Individual private judgment creates, of necessity, multiplication of sects, and multiplication of sects, in the very terms of the idea, creates divergent duties of conscience. So that here is embodied at once the necessity of separation in spiritual things the moment we have ascertained the existence of discrepance in faith; in other words, immediately that the state tolerates private judgment, it follows of necessity that sooner or later it must abandon spiritual connexion with every religious body. While at the same time it follows, in him that exercises his private judgment, that the time may come when his duty as a subject may clash with his duty as a Christian. I do not say whether the law of his conscience so directing him may be right or may be wrong; but at some time it must be brought to pass that the greatest of all questions, wherein the Christian will have to regulate his life, will be thrust upon him,--"Where am I to obey Cæsar, and where am I to obey God?"
In the first place, as most difficulties arise from an understanding of words in different senses, let us clear the ground, by explaining the meaning of certain phrases in general use.
As to the meaning of the word The Church, and as to the meaning of the connexion between the Church [5/6] and the State. The popular and general notions are entirely erroneous. In many conversations we hear of the Church as taken to describe the clergy; whereas the laity, as well as the clergy, form the Church; and there could no more be a Church without laity, than there could be a Church without clergy. They are both necessary and constituent parts of Christ's Body. Then as to the union between the State and the Church. It is taken as equivalent in meaning to a union between the Church and the sovereign; whereas, no two things can be so different. In the constitution of such a country as England, the State, or governing legislative body, is totally distinct from the person of the sovereign. The power of the crown is altogether paralyzed by the introduction of democracy, and by the contention of opposing parties, who govern alternately, as the voices and strength of each prevail. But still, whatever politics may be, Christianity looks upon the sovereign as a religious person, anointed in the Lord. The ruler of the people, as in the Old Testament--Saul, David, and Solomon--was consecrated to God; and similarly, in the New Testament, by coronation his person is sacred. And therefore the Church, whatever the State may do (which thinks differently under different phases), gives to the sovereign presidency over all things, ecclesiastical as well as civil, according to and tributary to the Word of God. Thus we say, in our Articles of Religion:
"The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England and other his dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes Both appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction."
The Church is therefore bound to render unto the sovereign--not by her politics, but her religion, in such respect as the sovereign is Christian, catholic, and sacred--obedience, love and loyalty; and this not as subjects, but distinctly as members of the Church of Christ. Those who are not members of the Church, such as Dissenters, are bound to render unto the sovereign the [6/7] things of Cæsar, and to obey as subjects; but they cannot from their position recognize the higher duty of obeying on the principles of the Church, inasmuch as they do not recognize the Church. And we also, should it so happen that the sovereign were not a member of the Church, and therefore not consecrated by religion to God, should still be bound to obey, as unto Cæsar; but we should be deprived of the higher privilege and blessing of looking upon him as we now do--as our anointed terrestrial governor, under Christ. Thus, then, the case stands as between the Church and the sovereign ruler; but between the Church and the State, the question is entirely different. The sovereign exercises his office as coming from GOD--the State as coming from MAN. The state is nothing more than an incorporation of a legislative, judicial, and executive power, appointed, regulated, and changing from time to time, according to the constitution of a country, which, in England, depends on the will of the people, and is not in any way of necessity ecclesiastical. It may or may not be in the Church. It may or may not be Christian. It may be schismatic. It may be heretical. It may be heathen. Whether it is so or not is an accident. And therefore it might happen, that while the Church is fully united with the sovereign--as an anointed person, being so anointed by the Church, and therefore in the Church--it might at the same time be totally separate from the state, which might be an ungodly incorporation, opposed to Christianity. While adhering to the one as God's appointed terrestrial governor, it might be severed from the other as being at enmity with God.
But there is another error which it will be necessary also to clear away, and that is the common meaning which is attributed to the sovereign as "Head of the Church." The Puritans on one side, and the Roman Catholics on the other, object to this title; the latter considering it an infringement of the prerogative of the pope, the former of the prerogative of Christ. Sir Thomas More suffered death rather than allow it. The Puritans waged war against their king, and drove the [7/8] Church from all her temporal possessions in this country, rather than allow it. Calvin denounced the whole kingdom as guilty of blasphemy, in giving that title to Henry VIII. And even among many people of the Church herself, up to this day, it is looked upon at least as an anomaly, that a sovereign, as mere man, should have the same descriptive title as Christ Himself, the Divine Head and Fountain of all.
In the first place, then, let it be observed, that the title, though expressly given to Henry VIII, was not retained by Elizabeth; and it would appear that in most public documents, such as our own Articles of Religion and the like, the word governor is substituted for head. But even assuming that the title, as given to Henry VIII, were retained, still there is no need of offence. We have only to apply the simple rule of dividing one thing from another in those parts which are different. The error arises from a want of considering the Church in its double capacity--its terrestrial and its spiritual capacity. Of the spiritual Church, Christ only, God blessed for evermore, can be the Head; as S. Paul says to the Ephesians, "God hath set Him on His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion"; and to the Colossians, "He is the head of the body--the Church". But that is no hindrance, why in a subsidiary and tributary sense, as a governor or "nursing father", as he is called by the Prophet, the king should also be the head of the terrestrial Church. "To term the emperor Lord," said Tertullian, "I for my part will not refuse, so that I be not required to call him Lord in the same sense that GOD is so termed."* [* See Hooker, book viii, fol. p. 423.] Christ is the head, as being the fountain of life and nourishment, the well-spring of spiritual blessings poured into the body of the Church (of which the sovereign--be he the greatest king or emperor--stands equally in need with the lowest and most abject of his subjects); but the king is head of the Church, as being the principal instrument of the Church's outward government. Christ is [8/9] the head, as being master of the house. The king is head, as being chief overseer. Christ is the head, as over the whole Catholic Church, scattered through every nation, tribe, and language. Kings are heads, each in their several nations, as conveyers, under Him, of His commandments to their several subjects.
And again let us remark, there is no spiritual power conveyed to the sovereign by this headship; nor is there even by his consecration and anointing, at the holy ceremony of his coronation, any spiritual power. All the power that the Church attributes to him is temporal, as governor, not spiritual, as administrator of the sacraments; terrestrial, as over the worldly execution of the laws of God, not spiritual, as transmitter of the grace of God to the people by ordinances. He is the steward of God, not in His mysteries--for that the clergy alone are--but only in executing His will, by protecting, defending, and managing the ecclesiastical affairs of the great body committed to him, and that only so far as they are mixed with things temporal. And all this, to prevent any mistake, is, as fully as can be, set forth in the thirty-seventh article: "Where we attribute to the king's majesty the chief government (by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended), we give not to our princes the ministering either of God's Word, or the sacraments--but that only prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scripture, by God Himself"; that is, that they should rule all states and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, and restrain with the "civil sword (not, you observe, the spiritual sword, but the civil sword)," the stubborn and the evil doers.
Thus, then, we shall have three distinct ideas before the mind in considering this great question. I. The Church. II. The Sovereign. III. The State. Not two, as vulgarly considered; but distinctly three, as may be proved in a very short retrospect of history. For instance, the Church existed without any [9/10] conjunction, either with the Sovereign or the State, in the three hundred years before Constantine. The Church existed without any conjunction with the State, but, on the contrary, dissevered from it, although still in union with the Sovereign, in the time of the English Commonwealth. The Church, unhappily, existed without any conjunction with the Sovereign, but, on the contrary, dissevered from him, although still bound to the State, in the case of James II, when it was thought that the king had forfeited his true allegiance to the Church, by deserting her articles of faith. In these three cases, we at once see (others might be cited, but these are the better, as most conspicuously known) the leading, pervading principle of which I have been speaking; namely, that while the two constituent bodies of the governing power may each of them in their turns fail towards each other, the Church alone holds her life independently of both, one or even both the others being dead to her. If other portions of the body politic agree with her, she accepts them as God's will, and incorporates them into her; but if they disagree with her, then they are not of her, and are cast out. But remember that it is not their essential duties that are foreborne as belonging to each (because it is acknowledged that all have a Divine precept for their several obediences), but only their conjunction that is foreborne. To be the salt of the earth is the commission of the Church. If the rulers of the world join in their forces with hers, they can, with her, work for the souls of men; but they must take her way, not she theirs. They can cooperate with each other under her, as representing Christ, She can never cooperate with them, unless in her they acknowledge Christ.
Now, let us observe, according to our article of religion, how this is confirmed by Holy Scripture. The article speaks of certain "prerogatives given to godly princes by God Himself". What were these prerogatives? and how were they connected with the Church? The first appearance of a Church as a corporate body, was that chosen and appointed by God in the land of [10/11] promise, namely, the Jewish, or Church of Israel. For a long time presiding over this Church was God Himself. Spiritual officers of this Church He had long appointed. The priests and Levites, the high priesthood in the family of Aaron, the Levitical priest in the tribe of Levi, sacraments and sacrifices, and holy times of prayer and oblation, He had long appointed; but there was no king. God was king Himself. At length, however, their faith declining, their intimate confidence in the Lord God ceasing, through their repeated wickedness and rebellion, God left them to their own ways, and they desired an earthly or visible king. God complied with their requests, and sent unto them Saul the son of Cis. This Saul, king of Israel, was made--as I have endeavoured to describe our kings to be--a consecrated person, anointed by the Prophet Samuel, and, by the act of anointing, the head of His people, in an ecclesiastical as well as a temporal sense. But though in an ecclesiastical, yet not in a spiritual sense; for when, on one occasion, he offered burnt offerings, assuming the office of the priesthood, he was rebuked by the prophet: and we know that for a repetition of this disobedience, in the case of the Amalekites, he was expelled altogether from the kingdom.
The same was the case with David and with Solomon. We find them set apart as holy unto God, anointed with great ceremony, and placed over the whole people as their governors in all things, save only the spiritual things of the priesthood. The same thing goes on after Solomon's death, in the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel. The good kings, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, we always find joined with the prophets, at the head of the prophets, and working with the prophets, as though their main duty was the glory of God. The others we find rebuked by the prophets, as though they ought to have been their associates and governors in forwarding God's laws, but so failing, punished of God. In short, all through the history of the Jews, this nice distinction will be traced, as of a lay-person yet made holy, and set over the. Church for its government and [11/12] protection; not interfering or taking on themselves any spiritual functions, but nevertheless receiving, at the hands both of the Church and of the people, reverence and honour, as coming from God.
After this, as we know, in the captivity of Babylon, all notion of kingly power was destroyed in the misfortunes of the people. For many years they had no kings of their own. But still (and this is the more remarkable) the principle of obedience to kingly power was always inculcated as a part of religious duty, even .though that kingly power was foreign, and not of the true religion. We see this in the conduct of Daniel, and of Ezra and Nehemiah, servants of God, yet obedient unto the princes whose subjects they were, in all things save only their religion. If those foreign princes commanded anything contrary to God, then God was preferred, even unto death, witness Daniel in the lion's den. If, however, their commands were in accordance with their religion, then the kingly power was held a sacred duty. "The things of Cæsar" were rendered unto him as long as, but no longer than, they could be rendered in conjunction with "the things of God".
But at length the Messiah came, and with the Messiah a new Church rose up. Into the place of the Jewish arose, with the teaching and death of our Lord, a Christian Church. The one was the type of the other. As the laws of sacrifice, and ordinances, and priesthood, were shadows in the one case, pointing to the more noble and spiritual sacrifices, ordinances, and priesthood of the other; so also it was in its ecclesiastical and civil polity,--in its government and its kingly power. For some time the Church was a poor and persecuted Church, just as the Jewish had been in the captivity; yet submission and loyalty was ever the teaching of the Church; and reverence for kings, though heathens,--contemplating the time when those very kings should be brought within the Church; and then the full development of the ecclesiastical state should again be brought to pass. As it was in the time of David and Solomon,--that most perfect and glorious state of the Jewish [12/13] Church, when we saw prophets, and priests, and kings, all united in God's glory,--so did the Scripture continually point to the time, in prophetic vision, when the same should be the glory of Christ's Catholic Church. Thus, for instance, Isaiah xlix: "Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon thy shoulders; and kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers."
In this we see the perfection of the Church's polity, i. e. in having her kings of her own communion; not foreigners or strangers; not tyrants or enemies, but friends, protectors, and governors,--members of herself. After 300 years of persecution and suffering, this came to pass kings and queens did become her "nursing fathers and her nursing mothers"; the kingdoms of the Gentiles did come within her pale, and kings became Christians. Then they took their rightful and appointed place: the things of Cæsar became united with the things of God, and the Church grew on, from people to people, though not without blemish and without spot (never so to be in this world), yet, in very many instances, a glorious Church; though not without many lapses into schism and rebellion (witness, as far as regards our own country, the time of Charles I); and not without many difficulties of conscience in the right succession of her kings (witness the time of William III); yet, upon the whole, considering her many trials, preserving to this day the spirit of the precept of our Lord,--"to render unto Cæsar the things of Cæsar"; and happily uniting them, in the faith of Christianity, so as to render unto God the "THINGS OF GOD."
Let us review what we have been doing. We have been endeavouring to show the theory of our Church, as it stands part of the Church Catholic in this kingdom, so as, on the one hand, to detach the mind from any low, Erastian views in connecting it with the State,--as either taking its origin, its jurisdiction, or its mission, from the State; or calling it an Establishment, as though it depended upon acts of Parliament; [13/14] or imagining that its stability, purity, or truth, can in any way rest or depend upon the laws of man; or in placing its fortunes, for good or evil, on the accidental power or influence which any mere man, by political circumstances, may obtain either for her or against her,--all which are common errors: and yet, on the other hand, pointing out the very high and elevated tone of affection, duty, and devotion which, as subjects, we owe to the person, authority and government, of our princes; attributing to them, and to them solely and personally, the protection, supervision, and government, of the Church in all things appertaining to the execution of her laws. Distinguish between ecclesiastical causes and ecclesiastical doctrines; distinguish between the "civil sword" and the "power of the keys"; distinguish between the fountain of justice and the channel of grace,--and then you will have the right distinctive notion of what is meant when we speak of the sovereign as supreme head, or supreme governor, in the Church of Christ.
But now comes the vital question of the present day. When the Dissenter (such as the Wesleyan or Independent, or any other of the sects) discusses the question,"am I to pay tribute to Cæsar, or no?"--he is safe; he is happy. Nor question of conscience can agitate him for an instant, for he has dissolved, by an act of his own will, the union between his idea of a Church and the sovereign: he renders, safely, securely, and unmolested, the things of Cæsar to Cæsar, uninterrupted in the parallel, yet distinct, rendering unto God the things which are God's. The State (by which I mean the Legislature) recognizes his happy clearance of the difficulty; fosters him, promotes him, encourages him, and gives him the free reins of license in the things of God. But for us, my brethren, who remain stedfast in the CHURCH,--for us, who still maintain, in an ideal theory, the union of the Church of which we are members, with the State of which we are members,--for us, in very consequence of this union, we are daily called upon to consider the very nicest and most delicate cases [14/15] of conscience; and are in perpetual danger of doing violence on one side or other, to our duty either to God
or to Cæsar.
Questions have arisen,--very lately have arisen: more questions will very shortly arise,--wherein the rulers of the State, as such, separated in act from the anointed sovereign, may press most severely and most heavily on our conscience. What may not a Socinian legislator, a Jewish legislator, or even an infidel legislator, called upon to legislate for the Church, impose upon the Church? What may not a Felix, a Festus, or a Gallio, devise? What poison may not he who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ (in the influence of political ascendancy) introduce into the very vitals of our being; and so corrupting the whole body by the gradual substitution of false and heretical teachers, destroy the faith.
Here, my brethren, arises the trial,--the great, the severe, the terrible trial, which we shall have to encounter. It awaits us now: it stands at our very gates. He only--most strange anomaly--is free to act, free to worship, and free to rule in his own spiritual things, who denies the sovereign of these realms to be set over him as God's anointed; while those who are faithful to the person of God's anointed, on the principle of their Christian obedience, are left to suffer the tyranny (it may be, a few years hence) of a legislative State which is no longer Christian.
When this collision of duties comes--as come it surely will--then will come our blessed Lord's rule: "Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar 's, and unto God the things which are God's"; that is to say, the two things being no longer the same, you must divide them. Your duty as a subject can no longer be united with your duty as a Christian. To seek both together, you no longer will be able; to seek both separately alone will remain. Still, however, keep your obedience to each intact, though to each distinct. To obey, honour, and love the Queen, continue; to submit to the powers that be, as ordained of God, continue. But to do this in the creed of the Catholic Church; in the pure worship of [15/16] God, as given you by that Church; or in the spiritual government of Christ's Body, as such,--you no longer will be able. While the obligations and the duties separately you still perform, the conjunction of them in one body you must be content to abandon.
Let us pray cordially--from the very depth of our heart let us pray, as good citizens, for the sake of our country, and good subjects, for the sake of our Queen,--that neither the State nor the Sovereign may ever be as they were in the time of the Commonwealth, separate objects of obedience to the Church--but at least so far united as to escape the horrors of that dreadful period of our Church history; for that was indeed the forerunner of every schism that has since well nigh rent us asunder. But still, let us not shut our eyes to the very great probability, that very soon some such case may be ours. Let us be ready to distinguish, with a calm, though a foreboding spirit, the recurrence of a time, when the things of Cæsar may so differ from the things of God, as to render the distinction and comparison between the two so marked, that one or other must be given up.
At this very moment, as you well know, the danger threatens. At this very instant, one of the vital doctrines of our faith is being judged--is being called in question--is being argued and debated about, as though it had not been the creed of the Catholic Church, known and witnessed to from the Apostles downwards. It is being argued, and is to be judged--by those who, in good truth, cannot by the laws of Christ sit in judgment at all, seeing the laws of Christ have given them no such power.
How can they judge of Christ's doctrine, who have had no commission from Christ?
How can they judge of what is TRUTH, to whom the word of truth has not been committed?
How can they take upon themselves, even for a moment, to let the question move past them, as a question, who know not that the FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY lies in the doctrine which they dare to handle.
 It is an awful thing, even to be as we are now, for months in suspense as to what the State may pronounce about a doctrine which is fundamentally vital to salvation.
It is an awful thing to see men of a mere temporal power, dive into the mysteries of the deep things of the Spirit.
It is an awful thing to see the men of Cæsar--as of Cæsar--plunge so recklessly, and with such utter confusion, into the things of God.
Next Sunday, if God spare me, I will speak to you, my brethren, again, as to what should be our duty in this crisis.
I wish now merely to give you a principle of action.
The principle is this,--
Fully according the right to Cæsar--as Cæsar--the powers that be--the men of the State--to rule with the rod of temporal government, we must render unto them--the things of Cæsar.
But we must steadily retain the right, at whatever worldly sacrifice, at whatever separation of the dearest bonds of our affection--we must steadily retain the right, deeply fixed and inherent in us, as members of the Church, "TO RENDER UNTO GOD THE THINGS WHICH ARE GOD'S."
MY endeavour has been, in the preceding Sermon, to establish in the mind the idea of a threefold authority in the things of a Christian subject. I. The Church. II. The Sovereign. III. The State.
And, while it was acknowledged that the combination of the three, working harmoniously together for the same end, would be the happiest and the wisest constitution for the government of a people, yet we acknowledged, also, that it would be very possible for either of the two authorities to exist without the other, or either one to exist by itself; and, though there might be a separation of the authorities as objects of obedience, yet all might be separately obeyed distinctively; because their combination being only an accident, and the duties of each essential, it would be obvious that the less should give way to the greater. Consequently, that whensoever the time should arrive at which the essential duties of each were manifestly divergent, then that the combination must of necessity cease, and the principle of God's Word would be brought to bear, that the things of Cæsar should be rendered to Cæsar separately, on the one side; and the things of God to God separately, on the other.
But now we approach a further principle. In the consideration of our several duties--however parallel they may run in ordinary times--it is never impossible but that in times of emergency one may cross the pathway of the other, and a duty owed here become incompatible [18/19] with a duty owed there. What in that case should we do? Why, then we must seek a resolution of the mixed duty by an appeal to the object of each. Wheresoever we should find the greater object, there would be the greater duty.
Applying this principle to the case before us, let the question be that of regulating our lives, our devotion, our Christian habits and thoughts, our doctrines of faith, the polity of a Church, by the laws of man or the laws of God. In such case, the difference between the objects of obedience is so manifest, that no one could for an instant hesitate between them. It is clear that wheresoever the claims of men should become irreconcileable with the claims of God, the precept of S. Peter would immediately bear; that is, "We ought to obey God rather than man".
Of our three objects of obedience, as before agreed upon--the CHURCH, the CROWN, and the STATE--it is well known that the power of the two latter was, at the time of the Reformation, virtually the same. The power of the State, as separate from the royal authority, was nothing. The legislature, as well as the executive, were equally lodged in the person of the King. Consequently, whatsoever was done at that eventful period, in regard to the changes which took place in the Church, had respect solely to the Sovereign in person. So it was that, when the power of the Bishop of Rome, which up to that period (that is, the reign of Henry VIII) had been twofold--spiritual and temporal--ceased to be considered binding on this country, and the Pope consequently ceased to be an object of personal obedience, then it became necessary to substitute in his place another object of personal obedience. The feudal theory of the nobility subject to the sovereign, and sovereigns subject to greater sovereigns, and these greater sovereigns subject to the spiritual power personified in one great bishop--this feudal theory of obedience, which prevailed more or less up to the reign of Henry VIII, now dropped from the history of Christendom; and, with the cessation of the feudal theory, naturally followed the cessation of [19/20] all idea of foreign jurisdiction. Hence the basis of the first separation of Henry VIII from the Papal power, seemed to regard mere temporalities. In the 24th Henry VIII, it is recited that--"England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king, having dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same"; and then further speaking of all "cases, matters, debates, and contentions", it is said that they are to be carried on "without restraint or provocation to any foreign princes or potentates of the world--in causes spiritual, by judges of the spirituality; and causes temporal, by temporal judges".
Shortly preceding this, that is, in the twenty-third year of Henry VIII, the king had contrived to place the clergy under a praemunire; and then, having so done, refused to release them, except under a conveyance to himself of the title-"Supreme Head of the Church." This, for a long time, the clergy refused;* [* Footnote, see next paragraph] but, [20/21] subsequently, were induced to submit, stating, in their address to the king, these words: "Ecclesiæ et cleri Anglicani, cujus singularem protectorem, unicum et supremum dominum et quantum per legem Christi licet, etiam supremum caput ipsius majestatem recognoscimus." Then shortly after, this submission being gained, it was incorporated in an act of Parliament, and made the statute law of the land, in the twenty-sixth year of that king's reign: "Albeit the king's majesty justly and rightfully is, and ought to be, the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations; yet, nevertheless," etc. So that here we have the order of the progress clear and distinct: first, a claim of supremacy in temporal things, with the spirituality left in the Church; then, subsequently, by submission of the clergy, an assumption of supremacy even in causes spiritual; and then their submission made statute law.
[Footnote from above: * But this was not all: there was more than money required of the clergy. The king, perceiving the progress of the divorce move slowly at Rome, and the issue look unpromising, projected a relief another way. To this purpose, he seems to have formed a design of transferring some parts of the Pope's pretensions upon the crown, and setting up an ecclesiastical supremacy. And now, having got the clergy entangled in a praemunire, he resolved to seize the juncture, and push the advantage. Thus the regale was required to be acknowledged in uncustomary language; and a new submission of this kind put to the convocation. The author of the Antiquitates Britannicæ informs us, "That the king refused to pardon the præmunire, unless the clergy submitted to own him their sole and supreme head, next and immediately after Christ". Cranmer and Cromwell were suspected to have suggested this thought to the king. The demand of this new title surprised the clergy extremely; they were somewhat at a stand about the meaning, and were apprehensive dangerous consequences might be drawn from it. The matter was debated a great while; and the archbishop obliged the house to secrecy under the highest censures. To overawe them into a compliance, the Lord Rochford, Cromwell, master of the rolls, and some of the judges, were sent to the convocation: they told them that the king was resolved not to discharge the penalties incurred, unless they would acknowledge the title above-mentioned" .......The new acknowledgement was first proposed in this form: "Ecclesiæ et cleri Anglicani cujus protector et supremum caput is solos est"; that is, "The king is sole [20n/21n] protector and supreme head of the Church and clergy of England". But this would not pass; the reason assigned for their refusal was, the article being couched in such general terms, they were afraid it might be misunderstood in future ages, and interpreted to an ungodly sense. After three days, the king, finding them constant to their resolve, relaxed a little, and stooped to something of a mitigation: he was prevailed with that the addition "after God" should follow the words "head of the Church", etc. But neither did this qualification satisfy the clergy, who chose rather to run the utmost hazard than comply. This fortitude proved very serviceable; for soon after the archbishop brought in a more inoffensive form, letting them know the king was willing to accept the acknowledgement with the limitation of "quantum per legem Christi licet, supremum caput", etc. And with this proviso the supremacy was passed, though not without something of a struggle.--Collier, Part II, b. i, 62.]
Now throughout all this, let it be carefully observed, that the power of appeal, in causes spiritual, had been left, from the 23rd to the 26th year of Henry VIII, in the hands of the spirituality alone. First we have the 24th Henry VIII, c. 12, merely prohibiting foreign appeals; then we have the 25th, c. 19, the same in effect; then it is stated (s. 6), that causes shall be tried before the archbishop, and "definitely and finally ordered, decreed, and adjudged, without any appeal whatsoever." And [21/22] again (s. 8), there is mention made of the archbishop in this manner: "Saving always the prerogatives of the archbishop and church of Canterbury, in all the foresaid causes and appeals, to him and his successors, to be sued within this realm, in such and likewise as they have been accustomed and used to have heretofore." The conclusion is very clear, that the whole animus and intention of the Reformation was, not to place supremacy of spiritual power in the hands of the king; but that power only which would exclude "foreign jurisdiction." The supremacy afterwards assumed was an after-thought, conveniently wrested from an obsequious and timid clergy, by an artful and despotic monarch. It was not to set the crown above the Church; but to set the Church, the crown, and the people, all together, and jointly, out of the pale of Rome, leaving the spiritual jurisdiction, as it had been previously, in the hands of the national Church, represented by the metropolitans.
From that time up to the present, with the vicissitudes of the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, and the contests of the civil wars, which it is not necessary to recount, the law of the Church of England remained clear and definite,--namely, that the sovereign had the power, as supreme governor, in all causes, spiritual as well as temporal. First, the crown, by the power conceded to it, as in Henry VIII, appointed its Court of Delegates,--that is to say, commissioners delegated by the king in Chancery, to hear appeals; and, finally, this court was set aside in the reign of William IV; and the present court of Judicial Committee of Privy Council appointed to hear appeals in things spiritual in its place.
Now in this short summary, three things must be noticed, and borne in mind:
I. That, in the outset of the Reformation, the final court of appeal was not the crown, but the Church, in the person of the archbishop, each in their several provinces.
II. That the clergy, in their submission of convocation to the claims of Henry VIII, and their willingness to call him, in place of the Bishop of Rome, "supreme [22/23] head of the Church in earth,"--which they confessedly did,--and in their resignation of all that they previously held, as of right, under foreign jurisdiction; to the crown, as of HOME jurisdiction, which they confessedly did,--still such submission and resignation was coupled (and it must be ever remembered, for it is the turning feature of all that now awaits us), was coupled with this most solemn and express reservation, "quantum per Christi legem licet,"--that is, "as far as it is permitted by the law of Christ."
And III, --that looking to the terms of the submission of the Church to the claims of Henry VIII, three leading features of distinction between the circumstances of that age and our own, are manifest: 1. One was, that the State, as such,--i.e., the Parliament, or the officers of Parliament--had no virtual power whatsoever. 2. That the Church had still her convocation and synods--and in them she had power to deliberate, in co-operation with the crown. And, 3. That the whole of the parliament, and officers of state, and judges, and every other authoritative person, was of necessity in the communion of the Church.
Now it is most important that we keep clearly before the mind these considerations, for they are the turning points, and the only turning points which I can see, for the restoration of safety to our Church.
For in regard of the third of these points, i. e., that in the reign of Henry VIII, the whole power of the State resided virtually in the person of the sovereign,--it must be evident that the Church, though she embraced (in consideration of an anointed king, set over her in the Lord) the idea of obedience to him personally, under Christ, she never contemplated the possibility of the present form of government; by which the sovereign personally is of no power whatsoever.
Henry VIII, and the sovereigns succeeding him, were absolute and despotic; and their own will was sufficient argument for acts of power, however arbitrary. Their ministers and their parliaments were mere shadows. They had none of that constitutional strength, by the [23/24] voice of the people, which now makes them irresistible. By the abdication of James II, and the introduction of a new family upon the throne, opportunity was taken to break down this despotic power of the Tudor and Stuart kings. Acts were passed in the reign of William III, limiting and defining the royal prerogative. From that time--the democratic power gradually increasing, and the constitution, in every change, becoming more of the people and less of the sovereign, now it has come to pass, that all real government and power is lodged, not in the crown, but in the prime minister--that officer of the State, becoming so, virtually, by the voice of the people. So that now, as in practice we know it is, the Church is governed, not as the Church promised she would be governed--by the anointed of the Lord--but by the voice of some accidental person; whomsoever the convulsions of politics may from time to time cast up into the seat of power.
2. Again--at the period when the Church transferred her allegiance from the pope to the crown, she still preserved her convocation--her regular Church synod; and in that still resided (as was afterwards shown in the making of canons, and in the reformation of the Liturgy, at several distinct periods), if not a sole, still a coordinate power in, regulating and deciding matters of doctrine.
Ecclesiastical causes may be distinguished from ecclesiastical doctrine. While it is unquestioned, that the Church alienated from her authority mere trials of law, it is certain that she never did, and never could have meant to alienate from her authority all questions of doctrine. The two things were distinct in the reign of Henry VIII, because convocation still existed. They are made one now, because convocation and every kind of Church synod is by compulsion silenced, and forbidden to act.
3. Moreover, when the Church promised such obedience as she did, she never contemplated the thousand unhappy divisions into which she is now plunged. She knew nothing then but of one Catholic faith, which all [24/25] the subjects of this realm embraced, and under which they all lived. And even if she did contemplate the idea of separate bodies in faith, she knew that, at least, in the governing power there could be no such separation; for laws were made, that no one serving in parliament, and no one holding office of the crown, could be otherwise than of her own religion. But now how different; for each man has his own creed, and each his own sect, and nothing hinders, by the present state of the law, but that the very court appointed by the parliament to judge finally questions of doctrine, may entirely consist of persons out of the communion of the Church--nay, even of heretics. So that here we find a very marked change bringing about a very grievous wrong, namely, that the enemies of the Church become (possibly) judges of the Church's doctrine. And while every other religious body throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland, has carefully been, and justly been guarded in liberty of deciding what should be their own doctrine, and what should be their own discipline, the Church alone suffers the anomaly--not to say injustice--of being compelled to agree to principles of faith laid down for her by those not of her own communion--not only by laymen, to the exclusion of ecclesiastics--but by laymen whose faith may be, as, for instance, Roman Catholics, or Socinians, or Presbyterians, opposed to the vital interests of the Church which they judge.
It may be thought an objection to say, as some do,--you have taken the good with the evil--you have made your price of submission--you must abide by it. You have received the protection of the State, and you must therefore receive its laws. You enjoy the endowment of the State, therefore you must receive its chains.
Not so; for it is not the case with that religious community, which equally receives the protection of the State, equally enjoys endowments under the State, and is equally established by the law--I mean the Presbyterian communion in Scotland. For in them there is no court of appeal suffered from their own synod to any other power. Their General Assembly decides finally, [25/26] without interruption from without--either the Crown or the State--what shall be their doctrine, and what shall be their discipline.
Then we must look again to the second consideration--that wherein the express point was reserved for the Church, in her submission to the crown of Henry VIII. The clergy said they made their submission, only "so far as it was permitted by the law of Christ."
And this is the point on which we join issue. Can it be by the law of Christ that the Church is to be represented by six lay judges, who may be out of her communion? Can it be by the law of Christ that they who have no commission to judge, from Him, should judge concerning Him? Can it be according to the law of Christ that a Presbyterian should be called to judge the episcopal office--that a Socinian should judge of the eternal Sonship of the Son of God--that a Calvinist should judge of the doctrine of grace--that one who ridicules the whole idea of a Church, an apostolic commission, and the grace of the sacraments, should judge of the holy Eucharist, what it is, or of holy Baptism, what it is--whether it be a means of salvation, a conveyance of regeneration, or a remission of sins? Could any one honestly say that such is the law of Christ? If not, then we have a right, nay it is our duty, to fall back upon the first principles and rudiments of the Church as given us by her Divine Head--as handed down to us by the gracious gifts of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is our duty to say to the world, clearly and emphatically, this is not that which our Blessed Lord gave us to hold and to keep, not only for ourselves, but for our children, and our children's children for ever. This is not what we promised to obey, neither can we obey it, neither ought we to obey it, for we must needs, when such an opposition to justice and truth, and our own conscience, and the faith of the Gospel, such as we hold and believe it to be,--is brought to bear upon us--we must recur to the first principles of Scripture testimony, and say, "We must obey God rather than men."
 And then, the first point must be well considered by us--that, namely, wherein we find, that at the first transfer of the Court of Appeal from the Bishop of Rome, such transfer was made not even to the King in person, but to the Church. It was said and defined, that the spirituality--the spiritual power, or Church of England, was perfect in itself for the determining doubts and interpretations of doctrine. It was the Archbishop, in his Court of Arches, that was made the final court of all appellate jurisdiction. Therefore, should it be objected that it is dangerous to recur to that state of things which existed prior to the grant of the royal supremacy, because it would invalidate the Reformation, and drive us necessarily back to the Bishop of Rome, by this fact, namely, that appeals were made to the Church and not to the King, we see that such a consequence by no means follows. We have only to recur to the first principles of the Reformation, and do as was done then. We have only to permit, as all the preceding arguments manifest that it is just we should permit, a recurrence to the spiritual power--the Church of England--in her own courts and synods to decide what she will or what she will not hold as her own doctrines, and then the course is safe.
Thus, then, we find argument, reason, justice, history, all pointing to this issue--the restoration of the equilibrium between the Church's power and the State's power. The State being no longer the Church, but having the Church under its dominion, must be demanded to forego that dominion, as being an unrighteous usurpation. The Crown must be petitioned to restore to the Church her privileges, just and acknowledged, of regulating her own doctrines and presiding in her own Courts of Appeal. The people of England must rise up and say, as in a case of good sound justice they ever have said, and ever will say--"Let the right prevail." The Church herself, awakening from her lethargy, must say--It is not a case now of mere accident, or mere personal encounter, but a case involving the essence of truth--a case involving the well-being of [27/28] the whole body. It is not a case where we have any right to say--let it be--it is no matter--things will right themselves. Not so:--It is the very Lord Jesus Christ; His sacred person; His very Word; His blessed sacraments; His anointed and consecrated priesthood; His very Church which at Pentecost He sent forth with the gifts of the Spirit; His very keys of binding and loosing; His very power of remitting sins or retaining them. It is this that is now being called in question--no other than this--the life and safety of the Church of Christ.
For, let us calmly reflect. The Church of England does not now ask for superiority over the sects, but only equality with them. She does not now seek protection, but only liberty. She does not care for an Establishment--that, indeed; has ever been her bane, and is very likely now to become her destruction--but she would humbly (oh, how far better if she could, and God so willed it) seek her people's salvation in the purity of poverty, so long as she might enjoy with others their liberty of conscience. The time is gone by to speak of privileges. The time is better suited to use what breath of life there still remains, lest the dead corpse crumble in our hands and vanish. And O, my brethren, could we but brace ourselves up to the vigorous endurance of the apostolic ages, and reflect how the preaching of the Word, and the salvation of men's souls, did not issue out of king's courts, but out of judgment seats and prisons. Could we but remember that it was no question, when Christ was here, about Acts of Parliament and statute law, but solely the gifts of Pentecost. Could we but bring ourselves to think that it is not by ministerial favour and votes of Parliament that men's affections are won, their reason convinced, or their faith confirmed, but only by the free voice of God's Word, and the power of the keys given to the Church's charge, by one higher than Parliament, and one more powerful than Kings. Could we but look upon this in the integrity of our Divine commission, how much better a [28/29] claim should we have then upon the people's love and God's protection.
But only we must have LIBERTY--not the chains and entanglements of a State protection--which, while it embraces, kills; and while it flatters, poisons--but only the freedom of the children of God, who would speak their Father's voice, and bid men repent and be saved.
Keep the Church as she is now--chain her down by your statute-book, as now she is chained down, without a voice to speak, a breath to breathe, an arm to uplift, with discipline defunct, and doctrine in the power of enemies--then, I put it to you, is it in the common course or probability of nature that she should long survive? Every one that loves her, and would have abided in her, and would have fought with the last breath of their lives in her defence, must now one by one (as they have done) depart out of her--on the one side to Sectarianism, on the other side to the all-absorbing power of the Church of Rome--until she is left denuded of her most pious sons and daughters, and shorn of those affections which would never otherwise have forsaken her--like a helpless log upon the waters, the prey of every storm, the sport of every wave that beats against her.
If you love her really, prepare to help her now. If you would not see her perish--even now stretch out your hands and labour in her defence. If you would not see her, as a stranded wreck, quiver into fragments before your eyes--use those means which the laws of your country, as well as the laws of your God place in your hand, for the remedy of every wrong, and the redress of every grievance. Not violently, not with mere words of fierce boasting, which inflames for the hour, but by the quiet spirit and calm resolve of men patiently ready to suffer in things temporal, that in the end they may gain things eternal.
[And here would be my place to tell you, that to fulfil our wish to right the Church (as far as in our humble sphere we can), three things will be provided.
I. A protest, in which the grounds of the grievance [29/30] of the clergy under the present oath of supremacy, as now interpreted and brought to bear upon us in the exercise of the law, will be set forth.* [* The PROTEST may be seen at the end of the Sermon. It was thought better that this Protest should be set forth as the individual act of the writer, so as not to involve any other person in the statements contained in it.]
II. A petition to the Queen, stating the grievances of the Church, and the principles upon which we seek relief and redress.
III. Addresses to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, praying them to take measures on the Church's behalf, for the restoration of Convocation, or the assembling the Church Synod for immediate deliberation].
And now, brethren, I have little more to do than, in conclusion, remind you of the different positions in which we stand, and, in proportion, our different responsibilities. I mean--yourselves, as constituting the laity of the Church; and on the other hand, we, as the clergy, set forward for your sake to teach and lead. Both in one body of Christ, but still two members.
The clergy are differently placed from the great mass of the laity, inasmuch as they lie under the oath of supremacy, and the subscription of the thirty-nine Articles, which the laity, for the most part, are not. By this oath of supremacy, there is no question but that we are bound to obey and abide by the decision of the crown, as pronounced legally in its highest court of appeal, on the great question now before it. Whatever doctrine this highest court of appeal may pronounce and declare to be the doctrine of the English Church, either involved in the fact of compelling a bishop of the Church to institute to a cure of souls one whom the Church, in her spiritual Court of Arches, has pronounced unfit, or in a more direct manner, as saying what the doctrine of the Church is--or what the doctrine of the Church is not--in whatever way the sentence may be promulgated, that sentence we are bound legally and conscientiously to accept as the Church's [30/31] doctrine; for this simple reason--that there is no higher court to say it is otherwise.
It is childish as well as dishonest, to try to escape out of this conclusion by saying, we will not heed what the judgment says: childish, because our saying so will not alter the fact;--dishonest, because we have sworn before God, that the Queen's majesty is the supreme governor in these realms, and holds, as such supreme governor, this highest court of appeal, for the purpose of expressing her final will. We know that she does hold this court. We know that there is no other court. We know that (in the present state of the law) the decision of such court is irrevocable. Therefore, to that court, as long as it remains, we owe obedience--merely--on this simple ground, that such is the law.
But it may be asked, and reasonably, why was not this hardship spoken of before? Why is it only now that the grievance is complained of? As long as the power was kept out of sight, or was not used, our attention was not directed to it--our eyes were shut. But now the power is used, our eyes are open. We felt (I do not say it was abstractedly right; but so it was)--we felt that the power was of no consequence, as long as we had forbearance in our rulers not to press it; now that they have pressed it, and brought visibly before our eyes the supremacy of the state, against the supremacy of the word of God, our conscience cannot slumber longer. It must awaken now, thus forced into life, and say openly--"we must obey God rather than men."
There are two alternatives for the priest holding cure of souls under this law, as now developed. One is (the simplest may be and the easiest), that he whose conscience is aggrieved, should retire from his pastoral charge, and terminate the difficulty by withdrawing from all further public ministrations; the other is, that he should make his protest, and endeavour, according to his ability, to bring about a change of the unjust law.
If we speak of the former alternative, it appears at [31/32] first sight not very difficult to bring about. Many things might make it desirable--more, perhaps, than could well be spoken of, except between God and a man's own inmost soul; but many things might be palpably desirable. His own personal ease, his own relief from many anxious embarrassments, his own peace of mind, tranquillity, retirement, purer opportunities of personal devotion,--all which are pearls of great price in the contests of this bitter world (for what can be sweeter to the worn and weary than simple rest?) all these might induce him to take advantage of this manifest blot upon the Church's doctrine and discipline, and resign his public ministerial office, and fly. But then--The people entrusted to him--the souls of the faithful, specially the POOR--the little ones of Christ--their spiritual welfare--the good works of Christ begun for their sake--their faith, hanging perhaps on his--their dutifulness and adherence to the Church depending on his. Has he a right to bring on them the miseries which he shrinks from himself--to escape from doubts of his own, to plunge them into greater--to enjoy rest himself, while he leaves them to labour alone, their faith to be split in twain, their allegiance to melt away, their love to evaporate, their zeal to be quenched? Has he a right to run the risk of this? Unquestionably not. He must not dissolve that bond that was made for him by the Holy Ghost lightly. He must think, that it is "the HIRELING only that fleeth, because he careth not for the sheep". He must anticipate the question which will be put to him at the great day--"Where is thy flock, thy beautiful flock?"
But then, on the other hand, if he, sacrificing his own will, the importunities of his private affections, and the comforts of his own personal life, determines at all hazards to abide by the flock, the flock must abide by him. If he for their sake, and the Church's peace, which he must ever love next to the truth, is content to encounter the misunderstanding of the multitude, the hatred of the world, and the contempt of the great, in order that through much tribulation he [32/33] may (with others his brethren) be possibly an humble instrument to gain the restoration of Catholic truth--at least (for it must be spoken with the greatest diffidence) to offer himself to be an humble instrument, if God will so permit--then they must, at least for his sake, sympathize in his feelings, and cooperate with zeal in the efforts which shall be made for obtaining the great end, which they, in company with him, desire.
My brethren, I believe that you can, under God, set the Church right in this her danger. I mean you, as the lay body of the Church; because, as the lay body of the Church, you have before you the House of Commons, and by your will, as the people, is the House of Commons constituted. It is of no use to shut our eyes to a disagreeable truth, because it is disagreeable. Rather let us face it; and remember that the real seat of power being the House of Commons, and you being the people, who constitute the House of Commons, the remedy is with you.
It is this simple undeniable fact, which makes me say, that upon you, as the lay body of the Church, does God seem to call at this moment, for a resolution of our difficulties. You can do as I have humbly suggested,--deliver protests, and send forth petitions. You can seek,
by constitutional and Christian means, redress for grievances. You can appeal to those who make the laws, to alter the laws.
But will you do so? That is the question now to be solved. You can ask with the same fervour that the Dissenters asked for relief from their religious disabilities, and obtained it, in the repeal of the Test Act. You can ask with the same fervour as the members of the Church of Rome asked for relief from their religious disabilities, and obtained it, in the Roman Catholic Relief Act. So you can ask--for thus it even is, and so are we humbled--for relief from the RELIGIOUS DISABILITIES OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
It is you, brethren, as the laity--it is you unquestionably as the people--who term the end and object of a Church. Without you, of what use are we? It is your [33/34] souls over which we are set to watch; it is your salvation which we are appointed to seek; it is your advancement in soundness of doctrine, purity of discipline, and fulness of sacramental grace, that we are commissioned from God to fulfil. And therefore do not say, when we speak thus, that we are seeking our own advantage. It is not yours but you that we seek--our usefulness depends on your stability. Therefore, if you, the people, like Gallio, care for none of these things, it is obvious that we, the clergy, shall also care for none of these things. We shall have no further opportunity of fulfilling our office. We shall have no food to give you--nothing to say--nothing to teach. Then, it would seem an inevitable consequence,--depart from our pastoral charge we must. But on your consciences then will it rest--not ours--that those shall have departed, who would most faithfully have laboured for you, even unto death, if you had but laboured for them.
But, on the contrary, if--which God grant--it may please the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of you, His people; if you may be brought to see as we see the momentous issue which is now at stake, that it is indeed no less than the battle of the kingdom of Christ against the kingdom of the world; if you, the laity, may be brought to understand that now it is no longer a contest for ceremonials, or a questioning of rubrics, but a return to the first principles of the oracles of God, in a questioning of "baptisms and the laying on of hands"; if you should be moved thus far to awaken out of your Erastian slumbers, and be shaken out of the delights which now possess you, in the temporal security of your carnal things, so as to see the slow poison of infidelity which is eating within--as it were a canker--the very vitals of your Church; if you should (thus moved by the Spirit of truth) lay hold of such Christian means as are at hand, in a combined and temperate movement, to seek redress at the hands of those who inflict this injury,--then indeed we may have hope. But it is useless to disguise from ourselves the fact, that it is the ONLY HOPE.
Now will the issue be tried. Now has the great [34/35] cause come before the King of Kings--the Everlasting Judge. He, even the great God, is even now weighing our Church in the balance.
And, either for good or evil, the judgment will be pronounced--not here, but in Heaven; whether any longer the Catholic Faith is ours, or whether we are cast out among the ungodly, denying our faith with Peter, and selling our Lord with Judas.
1. Whereas, upon a faithful examination of the thirty-sixth Canon of the Church of England, subscribed of necessity by the Clergy at their Ordination, combined with the Oath of Supremacy and Abjuration, and upon the legal opinion of Counsel learned in the law, given under their hands in interpretation thereof, it appears that the right of appeal from the Spiritual Courts of the Church, concedes to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council a power of determining by a judicial sentence, or of recommending Her Majesty so to determine, questions of Doctrine.
2. And Whereas, a submission to such power is considered by the said Counsel learned in the law to be binding on the conscience of those who have made such subscription and taken such oath.
3. And Whereas, it is an acknowledged rule in morals, that all oaths are to be taken in "animo imponentis," that is to say, in the sense and intention of the power which imposes the oath, and not in the sense and intention of the recipient; and also, should any new case of law arise, or should there be any development of circumstances which bring to light a power which was not known to exist previously--still the oath in "animo imponentis" is binding, and must be of continued obligation in the developed sense.
4. And Whereas, the twentieth Article of the Church of England, to which the Clergy have equally subscribed, declares on the other hand, that questions of Doctrine in Controversies of Faith are to be brought before the Church, in the words--"The Church hath authority in Controversies of Faith."
5. And Whereas, in recognizing the Supremacy of the Crown, the Church of England in Synod assembled, limited their submission thereto, by the express terms, "quantum per legem Christi licet," that is to say, so far as permitted by the law of Christ; by which law of Christ it is understood that the office and power of judging, declaring, or interpreting, in doubtful cases the sense of Doctrine, should be committed to the Church alone.
6. And Whereas, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is no more than a temporal or civil court; and, by the present laws of the land, nothing hinders but that such court may consist entirely and solely of persons out of the Communion of the said Church of England, and even possibly of professed Heretics.
7. And Whereas, in a recent cause in the Court of Arches, viz., Gorham v. the Bishop of Exeter, concerning a question of Doctrine--[36/37] and a Controversy of Faith--the said Spiritual Court of the Church did pronounce that the Doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism is of necessity, and exclusively the Doctrine of the Church of England.
8. And whereas, the said cause has been taken in appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and the said Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has publicly and openly heard pleadings thereupon, bearing upon the Doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism; and, as it is supposed, intends to pronounce judgment thereupon.
9. And Whereas, the very fact of the power of this Court (being merely a temporal or civil Court) to sit in judgment on a point of Doctrine and Controversy of Faith involves the possibility of a judgment which shall reverse or vary the judgment of the Spiritual Court of Arches, from which the Appeal is brought; and therefore it may happen that the judgment may be such as to contradict the Doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism, as now declared in the Court of Arches.
10. And Whereas, the Doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism so declared is one of necessity to be held by all faithful and orthodox Christians, being vital to the Faith and Catholicity of the Church, and without which the Church of England would become unsound and heretical, seeing that it is set forth and involved in the Nicene Creed, in the Article, "One Baptism for the Remission of Sins."
11. And Whereas, it is unjust, and contrary to all equity, and a grievous hardship, that a Court possibly consisting of persons excommunicate, or of heretics, should have the power of determining, or of recommending to Her Majesty to determine by a Judicial Sentence, what is the doctrine and what is not the doctrine of the Church of Christ; and thereupon, having so determined, should bind the Clergy, under their oath and subscription, to adhere to such doctrine.
12. And Whereas, in a great portion of Great Britain, namely, Scotland, a Religious Communion exists, which, although established in connexion with the State, still is exempted from the power of the Civil Courts in causes of Doctrine, and maintains its own Ecclesiastical Synod, namely, the General Assembly, to be the sole and final Court of Appeal in such causes, whereby the injustice of a contrary law in the Church of England is the more manifest.
13. And Whereas, from this power, now confessed to exist (but only lately developed and made commonly known) in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, it follows, that not only the Doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism, but other Doctrines in Controversies of Faith, may likewise from time to time be brought before the same Court: and so it may come to pass that the Doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, or the Doctrine of the Divinity of the Blessed Son of God, or other such Doctrines vital to the essence of Christianity, may be made questions of dispute, and possibly denied, or varied from Catholic truth, by the judgments of the said Court thereupon.
14. And Whereas, the result of the agitation of such questions in each a manner, and before such a Court, and the probable repetition of such cases of discord and breach of unity, as at this present time are vexing the Church, must manifestly bring scandal upon the Faith, [37/38] disturb the attachment which men ought to feel for the Church of England, and render it not impossible but that--for the relief of their wounded consciences--many of the Clergy, now holding cure of souls, may suffer themselves, however unwillingly, to be ejected from their cures.
15. And Whereas, finally, it cannot be right that the Clergy or others, suffering under this difficulty of conscience, should be suffered to remain without relief, seeing that the spiritual kingdom of Christ ought not, and cannot be subject (and is not subject in any other communion or religious sect in this country) to such temporal powers of this world, as are in this Court set forth.
NOW I the undersigned, WILLIAM J. E. BENNETT, M. A., of the University of Oxford, and of St. Paul's, Wilton-place, Knightsbridge, do hereby PROTEST against the power of appeal aforesaid, and do hereby declare that it cannot be reasonable, just, or according to the true dealing between man and man, required of us in Holy Scripture, that such power should any longer exist. And, therefore, I do hereby humbly, reverently, and solemnly determine, to the best of my ability, and with God's grace, to use such lawful and charitable means as are according to the constitution of our country and the precepts of our holy religion, for the redress of the grievance herein set forth, in order that the Clergy and others may be restored to that liberty of conscience which every member of the Church, as well as any other Christian man, of whatever communion he may be, has a moral, and a civil, as well as a religious right to enjoy.
[This Protest was delivered into the hands of the Churchwardens, on Tuesday, January 22, in the presence of certain Parishioners meeting together.]
FORM FOR A PETITION TO HER MAJESTY.
To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty. The humble Petition of the undersigned Clergy and Laity of the Church of England.
That we, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, being grieved in matters of religion and conscience, seek redress.
We therefore beg humbly to represent to your Majesty,
That the universal Church alone possesses, by the commission and command of its Divine Founder, the power of defining in matter of doctrine; and, subject to the same, the English Church alone possesses within its sphere, the power of interpreting and declaring the intention of such definitions as the Universal Church has framed.
That in the 24th year of the reign of your Majesty's predecessor, King Henry VIII, it was declared, by statute, with the full consent both of the spiritual and temporal estates of the realm, that this realm [38/39] of England is an empire governed by one Supreme Head, unto whom all the people of these realms, whether spiritual or temporal, are bounden to bear natural and humble obedience, he having also power to render justice to them without restraint or appeal to any foreign Prince or Potentate.
That it was at the same time, and by the same statute, declared, that the English Church has power, when any cause of the law divine, or of spiritual learning, may happen to come in question, to declare, interpret, and show the same; and that it is meet of itself, without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine all such doubts, and to administer all such offices and duties, as to their rooms spiritual cloth appertain.
That a power to interpret formularies of the Church by a final judicial sentence--the Synods of the Church not being in practice admitted to declare the doctrines of the Church, irrespective of such sentence--leads to a substitution of a judicial power for the legislative function of the Church.
That the English Church is not at this time free to maintain and exercise its power, according to the will of the Divine Head of the Church.
That by the suit of Gorham v. the Bishop of Exeter, now pending by appeal in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as well as by the case of Escott v. Mastin, in the year 1842, it appears that the Crown, through a Court constituted by Act of Parliament alone, exercises a power to confirm, reverse, or vary, by a final judicial sentence, the decisions and interpretations of the Courts of the Church in matters of doctrine.
That in the present state of the law nothing hinders but that an interpretation which shall have been judged to be unsound by the Courts of the Church may be finally declared to be sound by the Judicial Committee; or that a person who shall have been judged unfit for cure of souls by the spiritual tribunal, may be declared to be fit for cure of souls by the civil power.
That the exercise of power in such matters under such a state of the law, endangers the public maintenance of the Faith of Christ.
That the existence of such a state of things is a grievance of conscience, and that this grievance is aggravated by the fact, that the members of the Judicial Committee, are not necessarily members of the English Church.
Your Petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that your Majesty will be pleased to grant license to the Church, in Convocation, to deliberate for the special purpose of devising a proper tribunal for determining with the authority of the Church all questions of doctrine, and other matters purely spiritual.
That your Majesty will be pleased to give your royal permission for leave to bring a Bill into Parliament, for enacting that the judgment of such tribunal shall be binding upon the Temporal Courts of these realms.
To the end that the English Church may enjoy full freedom to exercise its inherent and inalienable office of declaring and judging in [39/40] all matters, purely spiritual, to the welfare of your Majesty and of these realms, the salvation of souls, and the glory of its Divine Head. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
This Petition lies for Signature at the Porch of the Church (S. Paul's). _____________________ FORM OF ADDRESS. To His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
To His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York.
May it please your Grace,
WE, the undersigned Clergy and Laity of the Church of England, being deeply convinced of the necessity of Convocation resuming its deliberations in order to the redress of the grievance set forth in the enclosed Resolutions, humbly request that your Grace will be pleased to move Convocation, at the earliest opportunity, to deliberate on the matters contained in the aforesaid Resolutions.
_________ FORM OF ADDRESS TO THE BISHOP OF LONDON. To the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London.
WE, the undersigned Clergy and Laity of the Church of England, being deeply convinced of the necessity of Convocation resuming its deliberations in order to the redress of the grievance set forth in the enclosed Resolutions, humbly request that your Lordship will be pleased to join with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury in moving Convocation, at the earliest opportunity, to deliberate on the matters contained in the aforesaid Resolutions.
1. That the Universal Church alone possesses, by the commission and command of its Divine Founder, the power of defining in matter of doctrine; and, subject to the same, the Church of England alone possesses, within its sphere, the power of interpreting and declaring the intention of such definitions as the Universal Church has framed.
2. That a power to interpret formularies of the Church by a final judicial sentence, the Synods of the Church not being, in practice, admitted to declare the doctrine of the Church, irrespective of such sentence, becomes in effect a power to declare in matters of doctrine.
 3. That by the suit of Gorham v, the Bishop of Exeter, now pending by appeal in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as well as by the case of Ecott v. Mastin, in the year 1842, it appears that the Crown, through a Court constituted by Act of Parliament alone, exercises a power to confirm, reverse, or vary, by a final judicial sentence, the decisions and interpretations of the Courts of the Church in matters of doctrine.
4. That in the present state of the law nothing hinders but that an interpretation which shall have been judged to be unsound by the Courts of the Church may be finally declared to be sound by the said Judicial Committee; or that a person who shall have been judged to unfit for cure of souls by the spiritual tribunal may be declared to be fit, for cure of souls by the civil power.
5. That the exercise of power in such matters, under such state of the law, endangers the public maintenance of the Faith of Christ.
6. That the existence of such a state of things is a grievance of conscience; and that this grievance is aggravated by the fact, that the members of the Judicial Committee are not necessarily members of the Church of England.
7. That, although the fullest confidence may be placed in the integrity and legal ability of the Judges in the case now pending, nevertheless, no judgment pronounced by them, either one way or the other, can be accepted by the Church.
8. That for the redress of the said grievance the following steps are necessary:--
(1.) That the Church in Convocation or Synod have licence to deliberate for the special purpose of devising A PROPER APPELLATE TRIBUNAL for determining all questions of doctrine, and other matters purely spiritual.
(2.) That an Act of Parliament be passed, for the purpose of making the judgments of such tribunal binding on the temporal courts of these realms.
(3.) That the Acts of Parliament relating to the Privy Council be so amended as to exempt questions of doctrine and other matters purely spiritual from the cognizance of the Privy Council.