Occasional Papers and Reviews
by John Keble
London: James Parker, 1877.
CHURCH MATTERS IN 1850.
I. TRIAL OF DOCTRINE.
"The Priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts."Malachi ii. 7.
IN these days of general redress of grievances, there is one body whose claims appear to be in a remarkable way passed over by statesmen, yet a very simple statement will shew that it has wrongs and disabilities to complain of, such as can hardly be reconciled with any fair rule of political dealing. That body is the Church of England.
I purpose, in a few consecutive papers, to set forth as clearly and correctly as I can, without ornament or declamation, some of our main grievances; feeling with a sorrowful heart, that they are every day affecting us more and more vitally. And I wish here in the outset to say, that I desire to be as far as possible from accusing any special person or party. It seems to me that most of the anomalies and hardships which I have to enumerate may very well have arisen from oversight, without any oppressive intention. Great changes, every one knows, have from time to time been made in our civil Constitution; and the effect of those changes on the Church was not always perceived beforehand. When our wrongs have been fairly set forth, and redress finally and deliberately refused, then, and not before, will it be time to complain of oppression.
The first grievance which I shall mention, because at this moment it is the most pressing, is the power given to the Judicial Committee of Her Majestys Privy Council to decide finally in Church causes; more especially in causes of heresy, or any other which involve the decision of disputed points of doctrine.
What is the constitution of that Court?
By the combined operation of the statutes 2 & 3 Wm. IV. c. 92, and 3 & 4 Wm. IV. c. 41, such Privy Councillors as are the Judges of certain Courts for the time being, or such as have held the same offices before, together with the Lord President and two Privy Councillors specially named by the Crown, are made final Judges in all appeals from the Courts of the Church of England; and among the rest, in causes of heresy. For instance, a Clergyman being by his Bishop judged unfit for a certain cure of souls by reason of doctrine which the Bishop thinks heretical, has appealed first to the Archbishop, who by his deputy has confirmed the Bishops sentence; and thereupon the Clergyman has appealed to this Judicial Committee, the question being, Whether what he holds be heresy, and he, the Clergyman, unfitted thereby for cure of souls? The cause has been heard, and is now awaiting their decision. Plainly, therefore, this Court has to decide what is the doctrine of the Church of England, and by its decision to controul the Bishops in their admission of Priests to cure of souls; and it would be just the same, were the point of doctrine the only point in the case. If a Bishop, for example, found it necessary to excommunicate a Layman for heresy, no civil right at all being concerned, but only the right of admission to holy Communion, this, and no other, would be the Court to decide the matter finally.
Now it is well that all thoughtful Englishmen should know of whom this Court is composed. Those who sit in it are, or have been, Judges appointed by the Crown; that is, in reality, by the Prime Minister for the time being, or by some one who was Prime Minister before him; and the Prime Minister, as we know, is virtually appointed by the majority of the House of Commons ; and it is a settled principle with the House of Commons, as the discussions on education shew but too plainly, that the Church of England is no more than one sect among many. The authority, therefore, which really appoints this Court, is in principle alien to the Church: I do not say "hostile," but "alien." The Prime Ministers, who directly or indirectly nominate the members of the Committee, need not by law be Churchmen: neither need the members nominated, two only excepted,the Lord Chancellor for the time being, and the Judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury: neither of whom, as it happens, can sit in the cause now pending, both of them being indirectly interested parties; for the Chancellor is patron of the Clerk to whom the Bishop has refused institution, and the Judge of the Court of Arches is the person appealed from. So that this serious question, Whether Baptismal Regeneration must be taught in the Church of England or no? is on the point of being finally decided, not by any Church authority, but by six Laymen, not one of whom need be a Churchman; and one of whom, I believe, actually professes himself a Presbyterian. Further: the rule of the Court, I understand, is, that no notice is taken, in giving judgment, of any differences of opinion in the members of the Court. The judgment of the majority is pronounced, and stands; that majority being perhaps formed by one vote, and that not the vote of a Churchman. Thus it may very probably happen, that this exceedingly vital point of doctrinea point which touches the Nicene Creeda point which affects our whole course of ministration to souls, and most especially the education of our childrenmay be ruled finally by the opinion of some one Layman, who need not himself be at all in communion with the Church.
Is this a real grievance or no?
The fair way to judge, is to suppose it happening to Christians of any other denomination. Surely no one would think it fair, if Parliament were to pass an Act appointing a Committee of Churchmen to decide on the doctrines of the Wesleyans, and place or displace their Ministers, without consulting Conference, or any other authority recognised by the Wesleyan body.
Whatever our doctrines were, it would be a hard case, on any fair principle of religious liberty. But it is peculiarly hard in our case, because of the peculiar sacredness, in our view, of the prerogative on which the Judicial Committee intrudes. We hold that our Lord intrusted to His Church, and more especially to His Apostles and their successors, the exclusive right to determine questions of this kind: making them "stewards of His mysteries," and the Church "the pillar and ground of the truth." Therefore the intrusion of aliens in such a matter strikes us as not only unjust, but profane. We have somewhat of the same kind of feeling, as if we saw a Sacrament insulted. What have we done, that our conscientious repugnance to such a state of the law should be slighted by the Legislature, when we shall have fairly expressed it, while the conscientious repugnance of some of our fellow-subjects to taking oaths, and to marrying in churches, has been rightly and equitably allowed for,care being of course taken, as in their case, so in ours, that the public service shall not suffer?
Our being "established" (whatever that means) can hardly make so material a difference against us. The Presbyterians are "established" in Scotland: have they ever admitted, will they ever admit, would any one ever think it decent to ask them to admit, an enactment that certain of our lawyers should be a Court to determine who are heretics according to their confession or directory, and to overrule their Courts in matters of censure and absolution, or in admission to cure of souls? I do not mean indirectly, with a view to some temporal interest, as might occasionally be necessary in any Civil Court; but I mean direct jurisdiction in the matter of heresy itself, as a primary question, and apart from all temporal consequences: and I say, the Presbyterians would be, as it were, up in arms, if Parliament called on them to admit such authority.
Some one may reply, "No, they cannot admit it, but for you to argue in that way is too late. Grievance or not, you of the English Church have admitted what you complain of long ago. This mode of appeal, or one substantially the same with it, has with you been law ever since the Reformation. For three hundred years you have placidly acquiesced in it; and now, why should you suddenly turn and denounce it, as an intolerable wrong and profaneness?"
Now it ought to be a sufficient answer to this to say, that a grievance is not the less a grievance because it has been acquiesced in for a long time. What would have become of all the Reforms which the present generation has witnessed, parliamentary, municipal, commercial, or other, if it had been held a sufficient answer to say to their promoters, "You have borne this for so many years, or centuries, therefore you cannot now be listened to in asking for amendment of it?"
Next, it has been well observed, in reference to this very question, that Englishmen are led by their national character to bear for a long time with anomalous and unfair laws, and not to account them as grievances until they are felt as such in action. Whatever be the reason, certain it is that this instance which is now pending is, if not the very first occasion, at least no more than the second, on which this Court (supposing it identical with the Court of Delegates which preceded it) has been called to decide a doubtful and important point of doctrine. The cases which have been quoted relate, I believe, all of them, either to trivial or to unquestionable points. The mind of the Church was not roused by them to any consciousness of her having intrusted to a merely Civil Court the authority now claimed. I speak for myself, and, I have no doubt, for the great majority of my brethren, when I say that we bore with this state of the law through ignorance. We had a vague notion, not that a Court so constituted was capable of deciding such points, but that all power of deciding them was for a time dormant in this Church. How often has the sentiment been heard, when conversation has turned on the divisions of opinion among Churchmen, touching this very point of Baptismal Regeneration, that it could not be settled without Convocation, and that perhaps the long silence of Convocation might be providential, to hinder the difference from proceeding to open schism! Right or wrong, the saying must be familiar to many: and it clearly implies a very general ignorance that there was no need of Convocation to decide the point, the Judicial Committee, or Court of Delegates, being at any time competent to do so. Now that our eyes are opened by this very serious case, are we to be precluded from remonstrance, because, as a body, we have hitherto mistaken or overlooked the true meaning of the Law?
But thirdly, and chiefly, I say that we, the Clergy of the Church of England, never assented to the powers, claimed for this Court, of deciding doubtful points of doctrine: it is no part of the system to which we are pledged by our engagements: we have not, even ignorantly, committed ourselves to it in any manner. I do not mean that we are not bound by it in the sense in which all men are bound by the laws of their country, whether those laws be right or wrong; i.e. we ought to obey them, if we can do so with a safe conscience, and if not, we ought to submit to the penalty. We are bound to admit this Courts doctrinal authority, in the same sense as a conscientious Dissenter was bound to obey those old Acts of Parliament which fined him for not going to church. We must demur to the Law, and quietly take the consequences.
But this is what I wish to point out: that neither by any act of the Church as a body, nor yet by any oath or engagement which we have made as individuals, are we so committed to this Court, especially to its doctrinal authority, as that it should fairly be imputed to us as part of our Church system, or we precluded from disowning it, and exerting ourselves to procure its abolition.
First: if we ever assented to it as a Church (except by the silence which I have above accounted for), it must have been either when the old Court of Delegates was first established at the time of the Reformation, or when its powers were transferred to the Judicial Committee as now constituted. But it was not at the time last-mentioned, for the Church was never consulted at all on the subject. The Act was brought in and passed like any other Act of Parliament. Convocation, silenced for a hundred and twenty years, had no power to breathe a thought on the matter: and the Bishops, even had they been separately consulted, are by no means representatives of the general mind of the Church, as every one must allow, who knows how their appointment is overruled. Nor do we at all know whether the majority of the Bishops of that day assented to the arrangement: we know that it took place in the very same session, in which ten sees in Ireland were suppressed by mere authority of Parliament, contrary to the earnest votes and remonstrances of the far greater part of the Hierarchy of both countries. Therefore the Church never assented to the powers of this Judicial Committee.
But it will be said, the Judicial Committee, after all, is no more than the Court of Delegates in another shape; and the Church certainly assented to the powers of the Court of Delegates. Let us see how this matter stands.
I do not deny that the Church of England did both really and formally admit the Regal Supremacy, as it was claimed by King Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth. It virtually therefore bound itself to submission to the Court of Delegates, as then established and constituted. It did not bind itself to such submission to the Court of Delegates itself, should that Court come to be so materially altered as not to answer that description of it on which the submission of the Church was avowedly founded: much less to any new Court, which might profess hereafter to succeed to the same functions, though differing most widely from the Reformation Court, both in its composition and in the authority by which it is constituted. Now, the Judicial Committee does in both these respects differ most widely from the original Court of Delegates. That Court could only consist of Churchmen, for then it was presumed in law that every Englishman was a Churchman: Nonconformists, so far from holding high offices, were punishable by fine and imprisonment. The composition of the Court, therefore, was essentially different from what it is now: and so was the authority by which its members were selected. The power of the Crown in appointing to high offices was at that time a reality: at present every one knows how it is circumscribed: and it does not follow, because the Church acknowledged a certain power not unfit to be intrusted to a Sovereign and Council in communion with her, that therefore she should be held to have intrusted it to a Parliament not in communion with her. She never allowed it to any but her own people: it has fallen gradually into the hands of aliens: there is no harm, surely no disloyalty, in her quietly endeavouring to reclaim it.
But, over and above the differences in the composition and nomination of the two Courts, there is another circumstance, impossible to be omitted in any fair view of the matter. Church Synods were then in action; they are now in abeyance. To estimate the importance of this, look to the analogy of our Civil State. Suppose a question of general interest raised in either of the Courts of Westminster Hall, which requires to be more certainly settled than it can be by the decisions of Judges; Parliament is sitting, or will soon sit; a bill, declaratory or enacting as the case maybe, is quickly brought in ; and the contingent grievance, if any, speedily redressed. In like manner, if Convocation were sitting, the question of doctrine involved in the case now before the Judicial Committee would doubtless be mooted in one or both Houses; and any error or excess of jurisdiction would be presently noticed, and doubtful points promptly resolved. Now, all that the Church did under the Tudor sovereigns, she did under the supposition that Convocation, as well as Parliament, would go on as an actual living part of the Constitution; and our great Church writers, such as Hooker, in defending the proceedings of that time, have always gone on that hypothesis. Our assent, then, to the Reformation Court, leaves us free to object to the present Court, as for the reasons above stated, so also for thisthat the watching, correcting power, supposed always to co-exist with the one, is notoriously withdrawn from the other.
Moreover (speaking under correction of those who know more of the laws of the land), I would suggest a third difference, which, if real, is most important, especially in cases like that to which our attention is now drawn. When the Clergy, as a body, submitted to King Henry VIII., it was on an understanding that he would govern us, as in temporal things by the Law of the Land, so in spiritual things by the Law of the Church. He did not claim absolute authority in either. The very terms of their submission prove this; they "promise, on their word as priests, that they will never henceforth presume to enact new Canons, unless the Kings most royal assent and license may to them be had." Does not this imply, that, with the Kings license and assent, they might enact new Canons? that it was their province to do so? that it could not be done without them? If so, neither could the old Canons be repealed without them. Now, by the very same Act, all the old Canons, which were not contrary to the Laws or Prerogative Royal, were to remain in force, until the review of the whole system by two-and-thirty Commissioners, therein provided for, had taken place. Therefore, whatever was heresy by the old Canons, was to be accounted heresy still, except there were special enactment to the contrary; and might be punished as heresy in the Church Courts. When the Court of High Commission was established by i Eliz. c. I, its powers regarding heresy were limited, as is well known, by the proviso, that nothing should be deemed heretical but what is declared such by canonical Scripture, by a General Council grounding itself on Scripture, or by Parliament, with the assent of Convocation. Of course, the old Canons continuing, made it imperative on the Court to pronounce that to be heresy which was declared such by the aforesaid authorities. And it would seem to follow, that, when the High Commission Court was abolished in the reign of Charles I., and with it, as lawyers affirm, this proviso, the legal measure of heresy became again what the statute of King Henry had left it, viz. the unrepealed Canons of the time before the Reformation, without the limitation of the statute of Elizabeth. And I am not aware that it has ever since been altered; only the proviso, though repealed, has always been considered to remain as a guide, for the Judges of the Ecclesiastical Courts, to the legal measure of heresy. This I notice by the way, because I have heard it remarked, in seeming disparagement of Queen Elizabeths arrangements, that it was but a one-sided sort of respect which was shewn to the Councils by that Act; as if their anathema were to be no proof of heresy, though their silence was to be a presumption of orthodoxy: which saying was grounded, as I presume, upon simple ignorance of the law. But what I wish now to be observed, is, that the Courts to which the Clergy of those days submitted were professedly tied to a certain standard of heresy, which could not be altered but by consent of the Clergy themselves; Parliament not having, as yet, I conceive, taken upon itself the prerogative of making Canons for the Church without Convocation. In our time, all this is altered; Parliament, a mixed multitude of all denominations, has taken upon itself to repeal and make Church Canons by its sole authority: as in Lord Lyndhursts Act concerning incestuous marriages; in the Act authorising marriages in church without either banns or license; and in many other instances which might be mentioned; and there is no doubt that the present Church Courts hold themselves bound by those Acts, and would hold themselves bound by any enactment about heresy which Parliament might see fit to adopt, whether Convocation were consulted or no. That is, the present Church Courts are no longer the same Courts to which the Clergy, at the Reformation, submitted; in this very material respect, that they acknowledge a different overruling power, as in other things, so even in the law and measure of heresy. And this I take to be a strong reason, in addition to the two mentioned above, why the assent which our Church gave to Henry the Eighths Statute, commonly called the Statute of Submission of the Clergy, ought not to be alleged as barring her right to protest against the authority of this Judicial Committee, and to take all lawful ways for ridding herself of it, as of an unconstitutional grievance.
And if the whole Church of England is not committed, by the settlement made at the Reformation, to such abuses as we now complain of, neither are we of her Clergy bound to them by any special engagement.
We are under but two special engagements which at all come near this sort of case. At Ordination we pledge ourselves, "so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church and Realm hath received the same, according to the commandments of God."
But this Church hath received nothing, cannot have received anything, either for or against the commandments of God, since the silencing of Convocation. The system, therefore, to which we are pledged (for I do not extend the engagement to mere details, in which we may well be ruled by our immediate superiors), is that which was agreed upon when the two co-ordinate powers, Church and State, Parliament and Convocation, had last an opportunity of free concurrent action, i.e. as I suppose, in 1661. In a word, it is the system of the present Prayer-book, Articles, and Canons; and the spirit of the engagement, as I understand it, binds us rather to oppose and deprecate, than to obey, any changes since made, or to be made, materially contrary to that system. Our duty as subjects may be to submit to them as to oppressive laws; but our engagements at Ordination have nothing at all to do with them.
With regard to this grievance in particular, I may just repeat here in three words what has been above argued at length. If it be said, "This Court is the same with the Court of Delegates, which the Church and Realm did receive," I ask, How is it the same? really, and in the eye of common sense; or technically, and according to forms of law? If you mean "substantially and really," I say it is not the same, for it is neither accompanied with the same safeguards, nor appointed by the same authority. If, on the other hand, you mean that the two Courts are the same in the eye of the law, i.e. technically and formally; then I say, that in a technical and formal sense the Church never received the present Court. Either way our promise in Ordination does not apply to it.
So again with that other engagement, the declaration of assent to the Royal Supremacy contained in the Thirty-sixth Canon of 1603. It is worded as follows:
"That the Kings Majesty under God is the only supreme Governor of this realm, and of all other his Highnesss dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal."
So far it speaks positively: the rest is negative, disowning the jurisdiction of the Pope. Now, if any man say, that this extends to the settlement of Doctrine, I would beg him to observe that by the very same subscription we bind ourselves to the Thirty-nine Articles also; whereof the Twentieth says, the Church hath "authority in Controversies of Faith:" from which it would immediately follow, that a decision in a Controversy of Faith by a Court having no authority from the Church should be to us no decision at all. Moreover, the Thirty-seventh Article, having set forth the supremacy nearly in the words of the Canon, limits it to
"that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures 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 the stubborn and evil-doers."
It refers us also to the Injunctions set forth in the first year of Elizabeth, §53:
"Her Majesty neither doth, nor ever will, challenge any other authority than that was challenged and lately used by King Henry VIII. and King Edward VI., which is, and was of ancient time, due to the imperial Crown of this realm; that is, under God, to have the sovereignty and rule over all manner of persons born within these her realms, ... of what estate, either ecclesiastical or temporal, soever they be, so as no other foreign power shall or ought to have any superiority over them. And if any person .... shall accept the same oath with this interpretation, sense, or meaning, her Majesty is well pleased to accept every such in that behalf as her good and obedient subjects."
Now, since all oaths are to be taken in the sense of the imposer, Queen Elizabeths sense, continued as it is and enforced on us by the Article, must be the sense in which we sign the engagement of supremacy. And we see that she only claims "what godly princes and Christian emperors always had allowed them: to rule all sorts in all causes, and alone to use the civil sword." Not a word about determining questions of doctrine, but only about sanctioning such determinations, when properly made, by "the civil sword." Not even Henry VIII. claimed to decide questions of doctrine by his supremacy: else why did he go to Convocation and Parliament for his Act of the Six Articles?
Indeed it is most evident that the two acknowledgments of Sovereignty, in the Church and in the State, are just parallel to each other. As the one owns not any power in the Crown to make Statutes without Parliament, so neither the other, to settle Doctrines without Convocation. In both it is assumed that Kings will govern according to law.
Our consciences, then, are quite clear of any obligation by this engagement to receive the doctrinal decisions of the Privy Council as part of the doctrine of the Church. No number nor amount of them can make the Church of England formally heretical, nor bind us to withdraw from her ministrations. It is not, perhaps, often, that men taking a pledge can be quite so sure that they take it according to the meaning of him who imposes it, as we may be sure that, in thus construing the Oath of Supremacy we are just doing what our rulers, from Henry and Elizabeth downwards, have directed us to do.
What, then, is our condition? It is little to say that it is extremely anomalous and imperfect: that we are, practically, without a court of final appeal in doctrinal causes. We might bear that, as the whole Church has now for centuries borne with her sad divisions and perplexities, because, in the workings of Gods inscrutable providence, her court of final appeala true Oecumenical Councilhas been so long denied her. Such a defect does not destroy the Being of the Church Universalshe goes on in her several branches, under appeal to such authority, and ready to submit to it, when it shall please Him to grant it: so neither does the like calamitous deficiency destroy the Being of the particular Church of England. But it very seriously affects her well-being: more especially now that it comes before us not merely as a restraint, but as a positive interference and intrusion on the part of an alien power. For,
1. If we seriously believe that our Lord and Saviour delivered the Faith once for all to the Saints,entrusted them with it, as with a precious deposit, which they are not at liberty to make over to others,then we must believe that it is a great and grievous sin in any Church or any Clergyman voluntarily to part with that deposit, or any portion of it, into the keeping of aliens, or of any whom He never called to such trust: a great and grievous sin in all; greater and more grievous, in proportion as a mans office comes nearer to that of the Holy Apostles, to whom and to their Successors the Treasure was at first committed. Now, we seem in our ignorance to have come very near indeed to that sin, and being wakened up, we find ourselves on the absolute edge of it. If we go on at all to accept or connive at the claim of the Privy Council to settle Controversies of Faith, what do we but render ourselves actual and wilful partakers in that sin?
2. Apart from all such solemn considerations, and regarding the Church simply as we might any other society, what a strange, unsettled condition of things, both in doctrine and discipline, have we to look forward to, if this anomaly is to continue! It was bad enough, when we thought we had an appellate Court, namely Convocation, only that for reasons prudential and charitable we abstained from pressing to have it called into action. Now it will be ten times worse: for those who believe the Churchs divine commission will hardly, if ever, think it right to recognise the Privy Council Court as fit to overrule the Courts of the Church: if they are wronged elsewhere, they will be precluded from appeal; and from defence, if any appeal against them: so that it will necessarily be a partial and one-sided Court. The consciousness of its being at hand will of course greatly embolden the propagators of new doctrine among us, and dispirit the defenders of the old. And the scorn is inexpressible which it will bringnay, which it has already broughton the English Church; as also the scandal to those who are weak, on the side both of Dissenters and of Roman Catholics.
3. All this, observe, holds equally true, whether the decision in the present case be according to the Nicene Creed or no. But if it be adverse, see what presently follows; even granting, what needs to be distinctly proved, that a Bishop or Archbishop, acting on that decision, would not involve in direct heresy both himself and all in communion with him. The Church indeed will continue as it was (for, even if the Court were as legitimate as it is irregular, a judicial decision would not overthrow what is beyond all question synodically decreed): the Church, and the position of each Clergyman in it, will continue in theory just what they were, but in practice all will be confusion. There is no need to put cases in detail: every one will understand at once the kind of difficulties which must and will arise, between Bishops and Priests, Dignitaries and inferior Clergy, Incumbents and Curates, Visitors and Teachers of Schools, Pastors and Parishioners, Academical Governors and Students; in ordination, in institution, in licensing of Curates, in catechising, in examinations, in testimonials:there is not an ecclesiastical relation but will be greatly disturbed: from time to time real conflicts will occur, which, if carried out consistently with the decision now supposed, must end in depriving the English Church of the ministry of some, more or fewer, of those who most earnestly desire to help in her labours: some, worn out, will retire from work altogether: many, zealous, but so far unstable, will be driven to forsake and renounce her. And in this way, humanly speaking, it should seem that the natural result of such a decision, all else continuing as it is, would be the gradual abatement of the Catholic Spirit among us: what zeal and energy remained, would be found among such as sympathise with Wesley more than they do with Hooker or with Ken.
4. But all else would not continue as it is (and here I would fain ask the especial attention of those who most fear what I should call a Catholic decision): there are other controversies arisen, or arising, among us, besides this on the doctrine of Baptism: and it can hardly be, but that before long some of these also will come in question before this same tribunal; and who will answer for the result? All English Churchmen (so called) are not so well agreed about the Inspiration of Scripture, about the awful doctrine of Everlasting Death, about the indwelling Gift of the Holy Ghost, nay, not even about the Most Holy Trinity, but that cases of supposed heresy may be expected to arise; and can any candid person deny, that the kind of violence which must be done to the letter, at least, of our formularies, by a decision against Baptismal Regeneration, is likely to encourage dangerous speculation on those and other kindred matters, the appetite for foreign theology being what it is, and our own so greatly disparaged? Consider well the tenor of all that we hear on education. Surely there is some reason to fear that a State tribunal (I do not mean the present one, but any such as the State is likely to name) may, even from mere ignorance and want of sympathy, deal as rudely with the points which all agree in calling evangelical, as ever they can with that which is now before them. Their tendency will always be to leave things open; that is, to promote confusion, and ultimately scepticism.
Whatever, then, may be our views on disputed points, if we believe that Christians, as such, are bound to any doctrine at all, it seems to me, that we ought to unite in obtaining redress for this great and pressing grievance. We will not believe, till we see it, that the Legislators and Governors of our time, however they may feel towards Catholic verity, can be so wanting in common fairness as to refuse to the English Church the right of declaring her own fundamental doctrines.
As to the mode of redress, it is clearly enough indicated, in general, by ancient practice, and by authorities not to be gainsaid. As one of the Articles above cited gives the Church generally "authority in controversies of faith," so one of the Canons (139), pronounces a censure on any one who shall deny that "the sacred Synod of this nation, in the Name of Christ and by the Kings authority assembled, is the true Church of England by representation." From which it seems directly to follow, that, as the whole Church has oecumenical authority in all controversies of faith, so the English Synods have provincial authority in controversies arising here in England: which, therefore, cannot be canonically decided without authority from the Synods. Is it not, then, our plain constitutional course, to petition for some Court which shall have synodical authority, the Crown having it always in its power to license the needful deliberation as to the granting of such authority? The Synod itself, or the Upper House of it, was formerly a Court for such purposes.
"Before the time of Richard II., i.e. before any Acts of Parliament were made about heretics, it is without question, that in a convocation of the Clergy or provincial Synod, they might, and frequently did here in England, proceed to the sentencing of heretics."
And the Act which first took away appeals to Rome (24 Henry VIII. c. 12), enacted a final appeal in certain causes to the Upper House of Convocation. Nor is it at all hard to conceive, how that body might conveniently enough discharge that function; as the House of Lords the corresponding one in civil matters. The number of appeals for heresy, we may hope, would not be so very large as greatly to embarrass them. The principle, however, which we plead for, is equally saved, whether the Synod itself be the Court, or some other body properly authorised by the Synod.
For this, then, or for something equivalent (if any equivalent there can be), we must labour, contrive, petition, as best we may; not, of course, depending on immediate success, but content to "bide our time," as others of our countrymen have done, who have at various times felt aggrieved, and by quiet or unquiet perseverance have obtained redress. If the sentence of the Privy Council be now, or at any time, such as to favour Heresy, let our protest be, once for all, uttered, and let all Christendom ring with it, That this Court is not, cannot be, the Church; that we will not, cannot be, bound by it. Let us be forward in offering of our goods, for the support of those whom our Master shall call out from among us, to suffer, if so be, for the liberties of the English Church. Let us humbly assure our Fathers in God, that they may depend upon such co-operation as we can give, in anything which God may put in their hearts to do for that great and blessed cause. Let us be patient, loyal, tender spirited: tender and gentle, for the case is new and startling, and many will shrink whom we would least wish to offend; patient, for the chains are deeply riveted, and it must take time to unfasten them,more time than many of us can hope to see in this world ; loyal, for is it not her Majestys grievance,more, almost, than any of our own,which we are protesting against,that she being, by hereditary title, and no doubt in will and purpose also, Defender of the Faith, should be made the instrument of judicial and educational Committees for the suppression of that Faith?
All this we must do; and there is something else, which must in nowise be left undone. For,
TOUTO TO GENOS OUK EKPOREUETAI, EI MH EN PROSEUKH KAI NHSTEIA.St. Matt. xvii. 21.