CHURCHES OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL, FROM
1868 TO THE PRESENT TIME.
HON. CHAPLAIN TO HER MAJESTY'S EMBASSY, PARIS.
LONDON, PARIS & MELBOURNE
Chapter I. Seville.
Chapter II. Villaescusa.
Chapter III. Madrid.
Chapter IV. The Lambeth Conference and the Reformed Churches.
Chapter V. The Consecration of Bishop Cabrera.
Chapter VI. The First Visitation of Bishop Cabrera.
Chapter VII. The Lusitanian Church.
Chapter VIII. Other Cities Also.
Chapter IX. Appendix.
THE need of some such historical sketch as the present has often been felt by those who have sought to aid the movement for Church Reform in Spain and Portugal. It is difficult to supply an inquirer with all the circumstances of the case, but a book like the present may go some way to meet the necessity. I have put together the simple facts connected with the rise and progress of the Episcopal Reform movement, avoiding as much as possible any of those controversial questions which have arisen with respect to the consecration of a Bishop or the compilation of a Liturgy. I may claim some qualifications for my task, having several times visited Spain and Portugal and all the congregations to which I refer. My close connection, moreover, in the movement with his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin—whom, indeed, it was my privilege to first interest in the work, and who has since proved such a warm friend of these struggling Churches—has kept me in touch with the whole subject.
For fear of misunderstanding, I would emphasise the fact that these pages contain, and only profess to contain, some account of that body of Christians in Spain and Portugal who from the first have desired to retain what they regard as old and true in the doctrine and practice of the early Church in those lands, and to follow as far as possible the lines laid down by our own
[viii] I have no intention to ignore the importance of the good work done by other bodies of Christians, but the contrary.
To write the history of Reform generally in Spain and Portugal would require many volumes, and would only involve the traversing of ground well worn by the footsteps of others. Enough to mention works such as Dr. McCrie's "Reformation in Spain," Stoughton's "Memories of the Spanish Reformers," Canon Meyrick's valuable book upon the Church in Spain, the "Bible in Spain" by George Borrow, "The Dawn of the Reformation in Spain," by the late Mrs. R. Peddie, and many others. I may also remark that a comparison of Murray's Handbook for Spain for the year 1868 with that of the present year gives a striking and somewhat unexpected testimony to the progress of religious liberty in these countries.
These works cover the ground up to the year 1868, when the story of the Reformed Episcopal Church more properly begins, and should be read by all those who desire to learn more of those heroes who, in the midst of almost insuperable difficulties, had held aloft the torch of religious liberty during the years that went before.
H. E. NOYES, D.D.
5, Rue d'Aguesseau, Paris.
I HAVE been asked by the Rev. Dr. Noyes—the writer of the following pages—to prefix an Introduction. These pages require no introduction. They can stand upon their own merits. But I must, notwithstanding, comply with this request, for in regard to the movement which he so graphically and so accurately describes I am under a personal obligation to Dr. Noyes. It was through his intervention that I first came to take any real interest in it.
I well remember the day, now some eighteen years ago, when I received an urgent letter from Dr. Noyes to the effect that a Memorial from certain Reformers in Spain and Portugal was about to be submitted to the Irish Bishops. The Memorial, he said, contained a request that the Irish Bishops would consent to consecrate the Bishop-elect of their choice. This communication took me not a little by surprise. I had no doubt heard somewhat of tendencies towards Reform in the Spanish Peninsula. About twenty years before, in my early ministerial days, I had listened with deep interest to an address from the Rev. Alexander Dallas (clarum et venerabile nomen) giving a touching account of a visit paid by him to three Spanish Reformers who were then suffering imprisonment in the cells of Granada simply for the crime of possessing and circulating the Holy Scriptures. I had since then occasionally received [ix/x] importunate circulars from the British Chaplain at Seville asking for contributions towards helping the work of Reform in that city. To some of these I had responded, but most of them had found their way into the waste-paper basket. I had, moreover, been present at the Lambeth Conference of 1878, and was aware that a formal request had been submitted to that Conference from a body of Reformers in Spain and Portugal praying for the consecration of a Bishop; and I had heard the Resolution of the Conference in which it expressed its hearty sympathy with the Memorialists in their difficulty and suggested that so soon as a Bishop should have been consecrated by the American Episcopal Church for the Reformers of Mexico he should be invited "to visit Spain and Portugal and render such assistance at this stage of the movement as may seem to him practicable and advisable." I was, I believe, further aware at the time that this Mexican Bishop was about to start for Spain, having received a special. letter of commendation from the then Archbishop Tait of Canterbury. But all these things had only presented themselves to me as matters of distant interest, and it was not until I received the letter from Dr. Noyes to which I have referred that I felt for the first time that a duty had been cast in my path, and that, as one of the Irish Episcopate, I could not shrink from the responsibility of considering the claims upon which it was based.
I need not detail all that subsequently took place: how that Bishop Riley on his return from Spain and Portugal submitted a most favourable report to the Irish Bishops; how that I myself was requested by my brethren to visit the Peninsula and take to these Reformers a message of sympathy from the Irish Church; [x/xi] how that the whole question was subsequently submitted by the Irish Bishops to the Standing Committee of the Lambeth Conference, and afterwards in the most formal manner to the Lambeth Conference of 1888 itself; and how ultimately permission was granted by the Irish Bishops to any of their body who might be willing to act as consecrators—the Irish Synod having expressed its satisfaction that the decision should rest with the Irish Episcopate.
All these details are now matters of history, and I refer to them merely for the three following reasons.
FIRST, That whatever may be thought of the action of the Irish Bishops, no one who bears in mind the long interval during which the question was under their careful consideration, and the opportunities which in the most formal manner they took to obtain the opinion of the Anglican Communion on the subject, can say that they acted in the matter with precipitancy.
SECONDLY, I have, I think, made it clear that this work of Reform in Spain and Portugal, and this desire on the part of the Reformers for the consecration of a Bishop was not due in any sense whatsoever to intervention on my part. I have shown how that the whole question had been actually under the consideration of the Lambeth Conference (of 1878), and had been solemnly dealt with by a resolution before I had been led to take any interest in the matter. I do not mean that if I had taken an active part in these initial steps I should have anything wherewith to reproach myself. But this at least is, I think, beyond question—the idea of the consecration of a Bishop was not a "fad" of my own conception. When the responsibility of aiding in carrying out such an effort was evidently cast in my [xi/xii] way by God, I felt that I could not disobey the call. But the duty was not one of my own seeking.
THIRDLY, I am anxious to put on record the obligation I am under to Dr. Noyes for having interested me first in this good work, and to bear my testimony to the invaluable services which he has since rendered to the cause, as Hon. Secretary of the Spanish and Portuguese Church-Aid Society and editor of the periodical Light and Truth, which has so ably recorded for the last sixteen years the progress of the work.
His last, and not least, great service to the movement is this little book, to which at his request I am now prefixing this Introduction. No more concise, accurate or graphic history of the work has ever appeared. It is, indeed, impossible to overestimate the importance of such a summary of facts for reference at the present time. Such a history of the work has been again and again asked for. It fills an admitted blank, and could not fill it better!
More I could say, but as I have already observed, the book speaks for itself. It tells its own tale. May God prosper it on its way, and make it a blessing to all who may read it, and to the great cause which it has at heart!
Dublin, March 17th, 1897.
[The above words were among the last written by His Grace, who was called away a few days afterwards. His loss to the cause of Church Reform in Spain is an irreparable one.]