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Life and Letters of
Thomas Thellusson Carter
Warden of the House of Mercy, Clewer,
Hon. Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and
For Thirty-Six years Rector of Clewer.

Edited by the Ven. W. H. Hutchings, M.A.
Archdeacon of Cleveland.

London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1903.

Chapter 9. Literature

LITTLE has been said in this volume of Rev. T. T. Carter as a man of letters. His literary activity from early years to almost the close of his life was most remarkable. He wrote with extraordinary rapidity. His style demanded an attentive reader, because his sentences were often long, and sometimes involved. His busy pen was nearly always employed upon matters pertaining to the spiritual life. But while he was capable 'of high and sustained nights of devotion, his mental activity was commonly exercised in the sphere of the practical, and blended with the sweetness of his disposition and the evidences of a loving heart. At the beginning of his ministry as Rector of Clewer he manifested very great interest in the conditions of the dwellings of the poor, and started some plans of sanitary reform. This came to the ears of Prince Albert, and he sent to confer with him on the subject. The result of this interview was the formation of an association for the betterment of the households of the poor, which still exists, and is named the Prince Consort's Association at Windsor. The Rector also was the means of providing a Benefit Society on safe principles, in contrast, as to security, to those which had existed in the parish and from which the poor had suffered. Mr. Carter's earliest publication, which was issued in the year 1839, was entitled "Eton System of Education Vindicated." The next was upon the "Blessings of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," in the following year, about which mystery he has written so much since. Then followed, in 1836, a paper on the "Duties and Blessings of the Christian Sabbath."

It is quite impossible within our limits to give a sketch of Ms literary life from 1836 to 1899, when he published his last work, a volume of sermons, entitled "The Spirit of Watchfulness." There are two remarks to be made on this volume—one, that it is an evidence of his mental and spiritual power in his ninety-first year; the other, a near relative observes upon the sermon in this volume for St. Paul's Day, p. 284: "It seems to me that what he says in his sermon on St. Paul's Day on 'the consecrated life' may be said of himself." Two works on the "Doctrine of the Priesthood "and the "Doctrine of Confession," published in the fifties, were the outcome of addresses, which Mr. Carter delivered before the members of the Clerical Society of the two deaneries of Burnham and Bray, and were dedicated to the brethren of that Society. It numbered some distinguished men in the locality, and the discussions were most interesting. Both of these books, in those early days, bear witness to the same apparatus theologicus as he made use of in riper years, and the same fantes—Holy Scripture, the "undivided Church," the records of antiquity, and the teaching of the Church of England. He maintained in the former book the Sacerdotal against the Presbyter view; and in the latter, makes full use of the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, and the Commission to the Priesthood, from Prayer-book and Bible, and the testimony of antiquity. These are samples of the author's controversial powers, his fairness in reasoning and calm temper. About the year 1860 Rev. T. T. Carter, as a preacher, was approaching the zenith of his powers. At All Saints, Margaret Street, he preached in the first Lent in the new church on Thursdays, and the sermons, which were upon "the Imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ" were published by Messrs. Masters. He dealt with "the definiteness "and "universality of our Lord's example," the "discipline of the will," etc. Two years later a volume of "Sermons," twenty-four in number, was published and dedicated to "His parents," preserved far beyond the "days of our age." Some think this volume contains some of his finest discourses, dealing with such subjects as "The Value of the Soul," in which Scotist doctrine is favoured, and Creationism. Fuller teaching about the work of the Holy Ghost will be found in Sermons ii., xiv., xix., and xxi.

Canon Carter's powers in biography may be traced in his "Life of Bishop Armstrong," of "The Honourable Mrs. Monsell (Mother Harriet)," and of "Rev. Pdchard Temple West." To Bishop Armstrong's "Life "we have already had occasion to allude in the chapter on "Penitentiary Work." Mrs. Monsell's "Life "is too closely connected with the Community of St. John the Baptist, Clewer, of which she was Superior for a great number of years, to need further comment. Alternative years brought forth three more volumes of Lent lectures, entitled, "The Passion and Temptation of our Lord "(in 1862)," The Life of Sacrifice "(1864), and "The Life of Penitence "(1866). In the first of these the author acknowledges his indebtedness to Stier for suggestions; and the "cardinal truth of the propitiatory virtue of our Lord's death "in the sixth discourse is forcibly treated, yet with the limits of the true theologian, as, e.g., it is not the death viewed only as death, it is the obedience of the surrendered Will that gives to the Sacrifice its acceptableness. From 1879 to 1891 the author published a series of "Spiritual Instructions," which, we believe, were all delivered in the Chapel of Clewer House of Mercy. The topics which are treated are "The Religious Life," "The Holy Eucharist," "The Divine Revelations," "The Life of Grace," "Our Lord's Early Life," "Our Lord's Entrance on His Ministry." These "Instructions" are set in a somewhat higher key than ordinary sermons, in view of the persons to whom they were originally addressed. The one on the "Holy Eucharist" has gone into several editions, a sale probably quickened through Mr. Carter's position in the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. The addresses, although primarily prepared for the edification of Sisters, the purpose contemplated in them "to cherish devotion and suggest materials for meditation," may well commend them to a wider circle of readers. The author says in his last preface, "Though there are unquestionably distinctive characteristics marking off a vocation to a Sister's life from other orders of life, and also laws and habits of life dependent on such a vocation peculiar to it; yet the highest spiritual views in fellowship with our Blessed Lord are common to all His elect."

Canon Carter was always strongly anti-Roman, yet the discussion between the Latin and English Communions had no great attraction for him; but when some one with whom he had a special tie and friendship was drawn away from the Church of England, he would write controversial letters which were of especial value, not only because of their substance, but for the absence of acrimony of spirit and of exaggeration of statement, which commonly are found in this species of literature. The book, "The Roman Question: in Letters to a Friend," was first published anonymously, as the work of an "aged priest." A re-issue, however, soon followed with the author's name. The letters were written in no polemical spirit, nor for any controversial purpose, beyond that of retaining a person who had become "shaky "in the fold of the Church of England. Canon Carter felt strongly, that whatever temptation may have existed in the earliest days of the Oxford Movement, now it was sufficient evidence of its vitality and reality to point to its fruits—the transformation of the Church of England. Such a witness to him seemed to be enough "si monumentum requiris circumspice." He touches upon, in these "Letters," a few salient points in the controversy between England and Bome. He regarded the unity of the Church as depending upon the Episcopacy and the Sacraments. That the Church can be outwardly divided, he answers by pointing to the "permanent breach "between Rome and the great ancient Churches of the East.

The author quotes a number of Patristic authorities and commentators against the interpretation that the rock in St. Matthew xvi. 18, 19, is St. Peter, and against the assumption that the commission was only given to that Apostle. He held strongly that the Apostles had a world-wide commission, and was inclined (with Professor Salmon) to trace the idea of St. Peter's Roman Episcopacy to the influence of the "Clementine Homilies," a spurious writing. The hook shows the author's clear historical knowledge of the question he is debating; and his fairness and calmness are everywhere manifest, as well as his reverent spirit. He thought submission of the intellect absolute and entire was wrong, that the highest line was not to divest one's self of one's endowments and responsibilities, and "to abandon all mental exercise in matters which most deeply concern one's eternal interests."

Mr. Carter occupied some portion of his declining years in writing and editing devotional works. We must also name three volumes, in which we have samples of his parochial teaching during the long period, nearly thirty-six years, when he was Rector of Clewer. The contents of these will show his capacity for adapting himself to an ordinary congregation and to the poor; these "Parish Teachings "have a special value in this respect. They are entitled "The Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist," drawn from Holy Scripture and the Records of the Church of England, the Lord's Prayer and other services, the Apostles' Creed and Sacraments. In 1893 he brought out "Eetreats, with Notes and Addresses." They are memories of Chislehurst, Cuddesdon, St. Augustine's, Canterbury, Hurstpierpoint, and Cowley. Together with these "Notes" there is a reprint of his Essay on Retreats in "The Church and the World," which was written in 1868. These "Notes "many prize who attended those devotional gatherings, but they miss the influence of the conductor which accompanied his words, and the author fears "that these 'Notes' give but roughly the substance of the addresses." There is no attempt at completeness in this brief survey of the works of which Canon Carter was the author. The difficulty is still greater when we attempt to enumerate those works which he edited, or for which he contributed Introductions, etc. He wrote a Preface to "Notes and Questions on the Catholic Faith," from the works of Dr. Pusey, a book which has attained a large circulation. He edited so carefully as to render himself responsible (as has already been written) for "The Treasury of Devotion." Other well-known works, "compiled by a priest," "The Way of Life," "The Path of Holiness," "The Guide to Heaven," "The Star of Childhood," "Simple Lessons: A Book of Private Prayer." Besides these, "A Manual of Devotion for Sisters of Mercy" (8 parts, in two volumes). "Nicolas Ferrar," and "John Kettlewell" were not only edited by Canon Carter, but he also wrote an Introduction to each of those works, touching upon the history of the times, and in the second of these volumes he traces the springs of modern parties in the Church of England to the time of the Nonjurors.

The author also prepared a volume of Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, for use on special occasions and holy days; and a Book of Family Prayers, which has gone into a great number of editions. It is impossible to include here the numberless letters, articles, and contributions of various kinds to reviews and newspapers. There is only one thing which should be added to this account, so far as it goes, of the products of his mental activity and busy pen, which is this—there is a manifest unity of purpose in it all—to make God more known, more loved, and more served. This runs like a golden thread through all his writings and publications. Though he loved books, reading them and writing them, he was not, we repeat, a student or "literary man." All he did in this way was but a means to an end—to glorify God by his service to man. This was the secret of his untiring industry. His last published words sum up all: "To God, the Giver of all, be glory and thanksgiving for ever, and may His Presence ever be the desire of the soul that trusts in Him."

Canon Carter had a special devotion to the Eucharistic Mystery, and was the Founder of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and presided over it as Superior-General for a number of years. He had felt the great neglect of this Holy Mystery manifested by slovenly celebrations and unprepared communicants, and those comparatively few. At the beginning the following leaflet was circulated more than forty years ago, and he has written and spoken much since upon this sacred mystery:—


It is proposed to form an Association for united prayer as our best hope of preserving, in our present hour of trial, the fulness of the Catholic Faith, inherited from our fathers, thus casting ourselves on the promise of our Lord, "If two of you shall agree on earth touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for you of My Father, Which is in Heaven."

The bond of union is to be the use of fixed prayers for the preservation of the full deposit of dogmatic truth committed to the Church, especially all such doctrine as touches its Sacramental character.

The engagement of those who join this Association is "to use the prayers agreed upon for a year, commencing with Lent, 1857, on the Friday in every week, and at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist at which they may be present;" the daily use of the prayers being desired, where such greater frequency can be sustained.

Any who desire to join this Association are requested to state their desire to the friend who supplied this paper.

It is not thought expedient to keep a general registry of the names of those who join. Friends will of course know to whom they have supplied a copy of the prayers; and it is thought desirable only to know, as far as possible, the total number of persons who thus combine.

Prayers of the Association. Lent, 1857.

O Almighty God, Who hast instructed Thy holy Church with heavenly doctrine, and committed to it the stewardship of Thy mysteries, we give Thee hearty thanks for the full deposit of the Faith and Sacraments entrusted to us; and we pray Thee to enable us, in this our day of trial, to preserve it un-corrupted, and to hand it down to our children's children, to the glory of Thy Name, and the salvation of the souls of Thy people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant, we beseech. Thee, O Lord, to all Bishops and Pastors, to maintain and set forth Thy truth in its fulness, and to every member of this Association, to be sound in faith, holy in life, and conformed to Thy holy will in all things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Any Special Prayers may here be added.

"We beseech Thee, O Lord, pour the spirit of Thy love into our hearts, and unite all whom Thou feedest with the One Bread from heaven, in one faith, hope, and charity, and in outward communion when it shall seem good in Thine eyes; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Father, etc.

And his last address to the Confraternity before he retired dealt with the Holy Sacrament. He said—

"We may look with thankfulness to Almighty God for our extensive growth from the day on which a small band gathered in the parlour of All Saints, Margaret Street, of whom the greater part have passed to their rest. During the interval we have seen great progress, for which we have continually prayed. We have seen the faith we hold extending itself, till we fear its fashionableness may eat out its true depth. We have seen the symbolic ritual spreading daily and at last sealed with authority. . . . We have seen Reservation for the Sick steadily growing, and in some cases with due authority, and this in both kinds, as it surely ought to be. And in speaking of Reservation, may I add for myself that I can see no authority of a Catholic kind for services founded on such Reservation. We may certainly say that Benediction is only the use of a very few late centuries. ...

"While we thankfully recognize this continual progress in the main features of Eucharistic truth and practice, we may surely count it our special blessing in our portion of the Western Church that we have the Catholic Liturgy in our own tongue, 'understanded of the people,' and our Communion in both kinds, thus keeping our Eucharist as our Blessed Lord ordained. We are surely right in thankfully preserving these our special privileges, fruits of long and painful conflict."

It will be seen by these last words that Canon Carter, in his great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, was to the end against the spirit which disparages everything English and exalts everything foreign; and he made his stand on behalf of "our Church's true position," and would only accept developments when they were consistent with apostolic and primitive belief and practice. The Roman denial of our Orders was to him "Roman self-assertion," and only should call forth "a calm re-affirmation "of our position.

The following brief retrospect is in Canon Carter's own words, and will call up many memories:—

"My sympathies drew me to All Saints, Margaret Street, and to Upton Richards, as a centre, and this the more when I undertook the Lenten courses there. He and I were alike embarked in the Church movement, and this with a common mind to promote moderate action in the great Ritual struggle. There we often met to consult, and more than once communicated with the bishops, seeking to bring about, if possible, some locus standi. T. W. Perry was also of one mind with us; and Chambers of Soho. Then it was that we resolved, with a view of establishing a settled doctrine, and a basis of teaching as to main principles, according to what we believed to be Church of England truth, to form the 'Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.'

"There met for this purpose, besides Upton Richards and myself, Chambers, Perry, Cosby White, Charles Lowder, Lyall, Mackonochie, and Robert Brett. We met in the common room of the Clergy House. The Manual shows what our principles were. To prove our desire to preserve a moderate line, it seems sufficient to say that we would not make an absolute rule of Fasting Communion."

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