Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
THE GORHAM CASE--THE BAPTISMAL CONTROVERSY.
FROM these scenes of spiritual growth and self-devotion, it is now necessary to turn to the great doctrinal discussion which, in its manifold results, was more fruitful in anxiety and loss to the Church of England than even the events of 1845. On Nov. 2, 1847, the Rev. G. C. Gorham, Vicar of St. Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall, was presented by the Crown to the vicarage of Brampford Speke. Both benefices were at that time in the Diocese of Exeter; and Bishop Phillpotts had reason from a recent correspondence to think that the opinions of Mr. Gorham with regard to Baptismal Regeneration were unsound and incompatible with the formularies of the Church. He was therefore reluctant to institute him to another cure of souls within his own jurisdiction. consequently when Mr. Gorham applied for institution to his new benefice, the Bishop, on Nov. 13, informed him that, before complying with his request, it would be necessary to ascertain by examination whether he was sound in Christian doctrine. In December, 1847, and March, 1848, the Bishop held an examination of Mr. Gorham, which lasted altogether for eight days. As a result he was confirmed in his suspicions of unsound doctrine. Mr. Gorham, in fact, though accepting all the formularies of the Church, did so in a Calvinistic sense. He understood Mr. Gorham' s position to be that it is not in Baptism that spiritual regeneration is given or conferred; in particular that infants are not made therein members of Christ and the children of God. Accordingly he refused to institute Mr. Gorham to the living of Brampford Speke.
On June 15, 1848, at the instance of Mr. Gorham, a monition was issued from the Arches Court of Canterbury, directing the Bishop of Exeter either to institute Mr. Gorham, or to show cause why he should not do so. The case was argued at length in January and in June, 1849, and on August 2 of that year Sir Herbert Jenner Fust, the Dean of the Arches, gave judgment that the Church of England held the doctrine of the spiritual regeneration of infants in the sacrament of Baptism, and that Mr. Gorham 'did oppose this article' of the teaching of the Church, and that the Bishop of Exeter had shown sufficient reason for not instituting Mr. Gorham to the living of Brampford Speke.
Mr. Gorham appealed from the Arches Court of Canter–bury to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which in 1833 had, by a well-known oversight, been constituted the supreme court of appeal in all ecclesiastical cases.
It was at once seen that there was ground for grave anxiety on the part of Churchmen as to what might be the result of this appeal. An essential doctrine of the Church was in question; and the constitution of a civil court gave no security for an adequate spiritual judgment. Moreover the position assumed by the Supreme Court of Appeal raised the whole question of what was involved in the Royal Supremacy. So far as the doctrine held by Mr. Gorham was con–cerned, the formularies of the Church seemed indeed to be explicit enough. But it must be remembered, on his behalf, that they had at least been accepted in varying senses from the sixteenth century, and not always in accordance with the High Church view. Still the fact remained that Mr. Gorham seemed to be contradicting the true and literal sense of the formularies, and to be justifying his position under shelter of the law.
What the opinions of Mr. Gorham really were, it is perhaps unnecessary to attempt to define. But it may be convenient to state here, as explanatory of the whole position, what in the sequel were held by the Final Court of Appeal to be the doctrines advanced by him. In the final decision on the matter by the judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the judges stated: 'The doctrine held by Mr. Gorham appears to us to be this--that Baptism is a sacra–ment generally necessary to salvation, but that the grace of regeneration does not so necessarily accompany the act of Baptism that regeneration invariably takes place in Baptism; that the grace may be granted before, in, or after Baptism; that Baptism is an effectual sign of grace, by which God works invisibly in us, but only in such as worthily receive it--in them alone it has a wholesome effect; and that, without reference to the qualification of the recipient, it is not in itself an effectual sign of grace; that infants baptized and dying before actual sin, are certainly saved; but that in no case is regeneration in Baptism unconditional.' It is unnecessary to point out that the statements censured by the Bishop, and the positions of Mr. Gorham as defined by the Privy Council, are by no means identical. In order to understand the history, it seemed necessary to state this fact in anticipation.
As was inevitable, Pusey had closely followed the case from the first. His own earlier writings, notably his Tracts on Baptism, would have alone rendered him specially interested in any controversy dealing with the initial Sacrament. He at once set himself to work to reprint the third of the Tracts on Baptism which he had published in 1835; but he could not get it ready in time for the trial before the judicial Committee. He foresaw also that this case might have the effect of laying a new emphasis on the authority of the Crown in controlling the spiritual affairs of the Church of England. The recent incidents at Bow Church in connexion with the confirmation of Dr. Hampden' s appointment to the See of Hereford had caused many to fear that the Crown could at pleasure advance to the dignity of the Episcopate a clergyman whose doctrine was seriously questioned. Might not the Gorham case shew that the Crown could mould the doctrines of the Church as well as appoint her rulers? Might it not under the guise of giving, in a civil court from which there was no appeal, the legal interpretation of Church formularies, affect the claims and position of the Church of England as a teacher of primitive truth? The Gorham case had already begun before the Hampden case was decided; and there can be no doubt that these were the two main causes of the second wave of secessions to the Church of Rome.
Those whose minds were, for whatever reason, already looking towards Rome, were not sorry that matters should be brought to a head at any cost. They felt a secret satis–faction at the thickening symptoms of difficulty and danger for the Church of England. Pusey, on the other hand, was pointing out that the shortcomings or misfortunes of the Church of England do not prove the claims or doctrines of the Church of Rome to be true or even tenable; and he held, moreover, that in the settlement of existing con–troversies, time was on the side of truth, and everything was to be gained by waiting. From the very first he could contemplate a decision of the Privy Council against the Bishop, without despair. Writing to Harrison as soon as Mr. Gorham' s appeal from the decision of the Arches Court was announced, he says, 'A judicial decision on a doctrinal question, reversing an ecclesiastical judgment and deciding against the Creeds, would be a miserable thing, though one must, if God avert it not, make the best of it, and sit down by the waters of Babylon, toiling on under bondage.' He accordingly had regretted the decision of the Bishop of Exeter not to institute Mr. Gorham. He thought that Mr. Gorham might possibly have been won by kindness, but that he would only be exasperated by law. It was undeniable that the full doctrine of the Sacraments had been largely ignored if not denied by individuals in the Church; and the process of recovery of spiritual truth or health, after a long interval of disuse or error, is necessarily slow. But he was of course indisposed to criticize a prelate, whose courageous loyalty to unpopular truth was so deserving of respect. So the Gorham case followed its course until it reached the judicial Committee, before the Bishop of Exeter asked Pusey for assistance in defending his position. In a series of letters he then plied Pusey with various theological and liturgical questions, the answers to which involved a vast amount of study and labour. 'I am the more emboldened,' he says, 'to propose this trouble to you, because you will, I am confident, regard it as a con–tribution to the maintenance of Catholic truth on a funda–mental Article.' As the hearing of the appeal approached, Pusey had also several interviews with Mr. Badeley in London, and contributed, as before in the Hampden case, abundant materials to his argument.
'Thank you,' wrote Mr. Badeley after the trial, 'again and again for all your valuable and impartial assistance.. . . I think I made the judges understand the opus operatum, and I gave them in substance what you bad written about it.'
On December 11, 1849, the case came on for hearing before the judicial Committee. The Court consisted of the two Archbishops and the Bishop of London, together with seven lay judges. Archbishop Howley had died in the midst of the Hampden trouble, and on the recommendation of Lord John Russell, Dr. J. B. Sumner had succeeded him. It was unfortunate that both he and the Archbishop of York should have already in some measure committed them–selves before the matter came before them judicially; the Archbishop of York had dealt with the matter in his Charge, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a recent re–publication of an earlier treatise, had prefixed to it a preface dealing with the controversy. The hopes of Churchmen could only be fixed upon what Dr. Blomfield, the Bishop of London, might be able to accomplish.
More than two months elapsed between the hearing of the case and the delivery of the Judgment. It was a time of very great anxiety. As soon as the pleadings were over, Mr. Badeley expresses his fears in a letter to Pusey.
E. BADELEY, ESQ., TO E.B.P.
Dee. 24, 1849.
What is to be done if the Privy Council decide wrongly? Robert Wilberforce asks this in a letter of Saturday, and suggests that some move should be thought of in Convocation, to repudiate their decision on behalf of the Church. But this will be difficult. I shall be glad if you will consider this, for it is most important; and we ought to be prepared for the worst.'
In a second letter (Dec. '27) Mr. Badeley writes:--
'In spite of what Keble says, I fear that a great many will be unsettled if the judgment is against us, and will consider this a signal for their quitting the English Church, unless some effort is made on the part of the Church to repudiate the decision and upset the tribunal itself.'
Mr. Badeley' s anxiety was not without justification. For instance, Archdeacon Manning had already entered on that line of thought which led to his joining the Church of Rome. Pusey again found himself, as six years before, shewing all the sympathy he possibly could with a friend whom his own convictions would not allow him to follow. But on this occasion he is able, and careful, to state the exact limits of his convictions more definitely than he did to Newman. The Archdeacon had apparently asked Pusey whether he could accept the Decrees of the Council of Trent.
E. B. P. TO ARCHDEACON MANNING.
MY DEAREST FRIEND, Asherne, Dartmouth [Dec. 1849].
Whether what was done at the Reformation was the wisest or best thing, whether we have since suffered from things which were done or left undone, is not I suppose the question, but whether what we did was a formal act of schism. One might say, whether the extremity of the case did not bear out the reforming by ourselves. Certainly the Council of Trent itself admits a great extent, of previous abuse.
It is to me a great comfort that the Council of Trent did not define more than it did, but still, if, as an English Churchman, one may so speak, it does seem to have been too justificative. I suppose the sale of Indulgences in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland was exceedingly profligate. It seems to have occasioned the schism in all. Yet the Council of Trent maintains Indulgences broadly without defining them, as ever having been in the Church. Thus, as far as the letter goes, the Council of Trent is not committed to anything [as to the effect of Indulgences] beyond this life. In truth, according to its words, they [i. e. the effects of Indulgences] ought to be restrained to this life. Yet they are not in the practical system.
I should then on this and other grounds be dishonest, if I signed the Council of Trent with the practical comment put upon it. 1 can then hope well for the future, when, as I trust, the Churches of England and Rome may come to an understanding; and yet could not as an individual, on this and some other grounds, profess that I myself receive it.
It seems to me that we have been limiting in the one way; the Roman Church in the other: if both were to supply what we have omitted we might meet.
We have protested against Indulgences they have maintained them, but not necessarily in the same sense.
They anathematize those who do not regard the Apocryphal books as Canonical; we keep St. Jerome' s Canon, yet acting on it, act on a rule which they, if they explained themselves, might acknowledge.
They say that there are seven Sacraments, but anathematize those who say that they are all equal; we, with the Ancient Church, separate off the two great Sacraments which flowed from our Lord' s side; but only say of the rest that they have not the like nature of Sacraments. The 'corrupt following of the Apostles' clearly belongs to the then common practice of not administering it [i. e. Extreme Unction] until there should be no human likelihood that he [i.e. the sick person] could recover, so that what is in Holy Scripture for recovery, was administered only when there was no hope of it.
F. of the Circumcision .
Since writing the above, Badeley' s pleadings took up much time (not but that he very well understood the subject), and the year has come to its close. All blessings be around you in that which has now dawned.
I have just been reading through again the Council of Trent.
What I felt before comes out fully to me again, on reading it as a whole, that it is so manifestly not directed against us. Indeed, as you know well historically, it was taken up with the errors of Luther chiefly. There are his very words. But I mean, reading it through as a whole, it is so very plain that it had not us in its mind.
Still I have two great classes of difficulties as to the Council of Trent.
1. If I had been born a Roman Catholic, I suppose that I should have committed all difficulties to God, and received on the authority of the Church, and shutting my eyes, what I did not understand. As it is, not owing allegiance to the Church of Rome, I cannot receive on authority what does not come to me on the authority of the whole Church. But since I cannot do this, it is to me an abstract question. I am not called upon to submit; and yet there are statements in it, which I could only receive in the most implicit submission, shutting my eyes and my understanding. For the Council of Trent goes, not on what dear Newman goes, Development, but on Apostolic tradition, and that in its very strict sense, 'quae ipsius Christi ore ab Apostolis acceptae, aut ab ipsis Apostolis, Spiritu Sancto dictante, quasi per manus traditae ad nos usque pervenerunt. Now, in no sense, I suppose, could the doctrine as to Indulgences, Invocation, Purgatory, be so called.
I had hoped to finish this last night, but was too tired, and am to set off this morning for the rest of the week, but I hope to write again soon. This is to convey to you all wishes for this year from the Father of Mercies and the God of all comfort.
My other difficulty about the Council of Trent would be, that some of its Articles I could not take in the sense in which they are popularly taken, unless I were to resign my own understanding, which; of course, one should to the Church.
And so this it is, on which all turns. I. could not subscribe the Council of Trent (as now interpreted), for this it matters not whether the Articles are more or fewer which I could not so sign--except on the belief that the Roman Church alone were the Church of Christ. And I can see no ground to anathematize the Russian Greek Church as well as our own. The claim several times made parenthetically in the Council of Trent, to be 'mater omnium et magistra,' is surely unhistoric, in the way in which it now advances, claiming to appoint all patri–archs, &c. Guéranger says [writes] to the effect that there will be no unity until the Roman Missal be adopted in all lands; to the exclusion of the Greek. And now, without the consent of the Greeks, they are making a new Article of faith, and that out of Council. Alas! Alas!
I should say that as to the Council of Trent, I feel a separate difficulty as to some of its anathemas. I could not, as an act of my own, anathematize those who do not hold what was not an article of faith as once for all delivered to the saints.
You know how I hate this word I. But I write as a member and priest of the English Church. I hope that the three Churches could come to a right understanding. As a member of the English Church, I am not resting on private judgment in not submitting to the Roman.
Yet their very books of controversy invite one to private judgment: for why, as they do from Bellarmine [downwards], bring one passages from Holy Scripture and the Fathers, if one is not to weigh them? One might as well not have them at all. And when the passages of the Fathers are spurious, this makes things worse. And this is a further difficulty, that practices grew up through forgeries, as the Decretals and so many passages of the Fathers on which they rest.
My state of mind then is not to reject things, hoping that they may be explained; but I do not accept the Council of Trent, not being bound to do so, as a Code of Faith.
I must break off this unsatisfactorily, else I shall be too late.
May God be with you and you with Him this year and for ever.
Ever your affectionate friend,
E. B. P.
In reply to this, Archdeacon Manning explained that his inquiry about the formularies of the Church of Rome was due to this difficulty. The Final Court of Appeal in the Church of England failed in his judgment to satisfy two essential laws, flowing from the principle that the sole absolute and ultimate tribunal and judge, both of doctrine and discipline, is the Church of Christ. These laws were, that this tribunal and judge must be (1) purely spirituals and (2) within the Church. The Judicial Committee ob–viously fulfilled neither of these conditions. If this argu–ment was sound, was it possible to continue allegiance to a supremacy, which involved such consequences?
Pusey thereupon answered as follows:--
E. B. P. TO ARCHDEACON MANNING.
The sense in which I took the oath and in which it was explained to me, was that it related to jurisdiction only, that the State was the ultimate administrator of justice. And this I see in Collyer, P. II. B. vi. p. 256, ed. 8, 433 fol., is the sense in which it was explained authoritatively by Q. Eliz. that she intended to stretch the regale no further than it was carried by K. Henry VIII. or K. Edw. VI., 'and was of ancient times due to the imperial crown of this realm, i.e. under God to have the sovereignty and rule over all manner of persons born within these realms, dominions and countries, either ecclesiastical or temporal, so as no foreign power ought to have any superiority over them.'
The 'Act of Assurance,' ib. p. 358, 8vo, 481 fol., is entitled assurance of the Queen' s power over all estates and pointed against the 'juris–diction of the see of Rome,' and maintains 'the ancient jurisdiction over the state ecclesiastical,' and it says 'to ascertain the sense and set forth the extent of this solemn engagement, it is provided that the oath of supremacy made in the first year of this reign shall be taken and expounded in such form as is set forth in an admonition annexed to the Queen' s Majesty' s injunctions, published in the first year of H.M.' s reign, i. e. to confess and acknowledge in H.M., her heirs and successors none other authority than that was challenged and lately used by the noble King Henry VIII. and King Edw. VI., as in the said admonition more plainly may appear.'
Our consciences then are plainly clear; the sense in which we took the oath, is that recognized as the only sense by the authority which imposed the oath. If any attempt be made to stretch the power of any court beyond the 'ancient jurisdiction of the temporal Sovereign,' this would be a case of abuse or oppression, against which pro–tests must be made and redress sought. But it does not affect our obligations. It may be a question whether any Court can exercise jurisdiction, without some interpretation of the laws which it enforces; e. g. were the question in the Church of Rome as to the denial of any prerogative attributed commonly to the B.V. it would be the question, whether it was included or no in the received formularies of the Roman Church. Yet such interpretation seems to be forbidden by the 1 Q. Eliz. c. 1 Supremacy Bill, that 'no persons shall be authorized by the Queen, her heirs or successors, to exercise any spiritual jurisdiction, shall have any authority or power to determine or judge any matter or cause to be heresy, but only such as had been heretofore determined, ordered or adjudged to be heresy by the authority of the Canonical Scriptures, first four General Councils or any of them, or any other General Council wherein the same were declared heresy, &c., or such as should hereafter be adjudged to be heresy, by the High Court of Parliament with the assent of/he clergy in their Convocation, anything in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.'
It may be that the present constitution of the Court attempts to reconcile impossibilities, and that this case (for which I think I under–stood there has been no precedent) is meant to show it to us. But then this is a ground for the change of the constitution of the Court. The only question determined by the Act as to the Supremacy, is, that the Queen should in these realms be the supreme authority over all persons, that no causes should be carried to Rome or 'beyond seas,' as the Council of Carthage too forbade. But it does not determine of whom the ultimate Court should be composed. If it is found to involve 'the interpretation of doctrinal formularies,' and this to be 'equivalent to definition,' then according to that very Act it is more than was intended, for it is stated by whom heresy is to be defined, i. e. any new definition is to be made through Convocation, although having legal and penal authority through the State. Still the authority is ecclesiastical.
But, notwithstanding the tenor of the pleadings, I do not see as yet that the decision of the Privy Council need involve any principle at all. For clearness' sake, the doctrine of the Church of England was stated, but that doctrine is really notorious. We have no grounds as yet to think that the judgment of the Privy Council will even seem to determine this. If it should seem to go beyond the powers of a lay tribunal, then is the time for the Church to consider what is to be done. But I do not like to anticipate evils. I have assumed that by within the Church and out of the Church, you mean 'the spiritual authorities of the Church.'
Henry Wilberforce was also writing in the same sense as Archdeacon Manning. He dreaded a favourable de–cision on the part of the Judicial Committee more than an heretical one; the latter might lead to resistance to 'the secular Court; the former might tempt Churchmen to overlook the real character of the Court, in their satis–faction at its action.
Pusey felt the pressure of this new and anxious aspect of the case. It was important to know what were the functions of the Final Court of Appeal. Did it only elucidate the legal sense of documents? Or were bona fide doctrinal decisions, as to matters left more or less undecided by the Church, inseparable from such elucidation?
E. B. P. TO MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE.
Jan. 9, 1850.
This is clear to me, as I have put in the enclosed paper, (1) that the same authority which imposes upon us the oath of supremacy, and gives the Queen power to judge in ecclesiastical causes, forbids any one, acting under those powers, to declare anything to be heresy which has not already been so declared, or shall hereafter be declared by Parliament with the assent of the clergy in their Convocation.
(2) It plainly follows that it was not intended to give any judicial body the power to settle what is the doctrine of the Church of England, i. e. to make or pronounce that to be her true doctrine or not her doctrine, which was not already acknowledged or denied to be her doctrine. For to pronounce anything for the first time to be false doctrine is to pronounce that to be heresy, which had not been so pro–nounced before, which is a power denied to any judicial body acting under that Act of Parliament.
(3) The Acts all speak of 'the ancient jurisdiction of the temporal Sovereign.' But the definition of heresy never was left to the temporal Sovereign. It is the jurisdiction only of the Pope which is denied, and the jurisdiction of the temporal Sovereign which is enforced.
By this, I understand, that if any person is wronged, or conceives himself wronged, it is meant that the cause should be righted within these realms and that by the temporal Sovereign. I do not know what the 'ancient jurisdiction' was; but clearly, in no 'ancient juris–diction' could any power but the Church itself determine anything to be heresy, which was not previously so determined.
We are then (I am satisfied) clear as to our oaths. The question is (1) whether this delegation of judgment in cases of heresy to laymen is not incompatible with the prohibition that anything should be deter–mined to be heresy without Convocation?
(2) If this exercise of jurisdiction does, of necessity, involve the power of determining doctrine to be heresy, or not to be heresy, are we not giving up a prerogative of the whole Church into the hands of certain persons appointed by H. M.' s Prime Minister, anyhow to the Civil Power?
The case of Mr. Gorham may be one of these cases. He clearly denies that original sin is remitted in Baptism. He holds, that if infants have the 'praevenient grace' given to them, original sin is remitted to them thereupon, antecedently to Baptism; otherwise, he holds that original sin disqualifies an infant from receiving Baptism rightly. The Nicene Creed declares that 'there is one Baptism for the remission of sins' ; a General Council (one of Carthage received by the whole Church) declared that, consequently, all infants had original sin, and that that sin was by Baptism remitted, and pronounced 'anathema' on those who denied it. Mr. Gorham' s teaching then is clearly heretical.
Now if the Judicial Committee were simply to say, 'This doctrine has been declared heresy by a General Council, by the plain express words of the Canonical Scriptures,' this would be acting in conformity with the I Q. Eliz. c. 1. But instead of this, the whole tenor of the pleadings went on the supposition that they were to adjudge what is and what is not the doctrine of the Church of England. On one side, it was done on a sudden pressure, as men act in a fire, without having time to think how or in what way it must be put out. The immediate pressure was, lest a Supreme Court should deny true doctrine to be the doctrine of the Church. It was only afterwards that one could think at leisure of the other evil, whether the whole proceedings were not radically wrong. In fact, a right decision may be worse than [a] wrong. A wrong decision might rouse people to oppose the whole system. A right decision as to doctrine might induce them to acquiesce in a wrong principle, which might issue in most disastrous consequences. If the Judicial Committee may decide whether or no Baptismal Regeneration is the doctrine of the Church of England, it might determine whether such or such a theory of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture is so, &c., &c. Now the question in my mind, upon which I wished to consult you, is, whether the office of a Judge does it necessarily, in some cases, involve the new interpretation of those authorities upon which he founds his judgments? For if this be so, then he, in fact, by his judgment, limits or enlarges (as it may be) the meaning of those authorities. And if so, then, in matters of faith, a Judge would be, by so determining, in fact, declaring that to be heresy, which was not before so declared, contrary to the provisions of the very Act. under which he judges, and encroaching on the au–thority of the Church.
Even as to the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, not only are not its nature and limits defined, but being assumed, it is not stated either in the Creeds or Articles. The Nicene Creed asserts that the 'Holy Ghost spake by the Prophets' ; it implies their authority, 'accord–ing to the Scriptures.' The Articles declare what Scriptures are 'canonical' and that what is proved thereby is to be believed. But this is very far short, of course, of what the whole Church has ever believed as to the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.
Now if the Privy Council may decide as to Baptismal Regeneration of all infants, which has been ruled by the whole Church, why should it not as to cases hitherto undetermined in the Church of England, as the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, and either make a new rule, or declare that the Church of England is indifferent what doctrine its members hold?
I suspect that in maintaining the right of the temporal Sovereign to have any subject righted, without his going to a tribunal abroad, the State overlooked that in matters of faith they were aiming to combine things necessarily incompatible, i. e. that they did not see that the judgment of the individual in a matter of faith might involve what they disclaim, the determining of the faith itself. They meant to claim the right of deciding all causes on certain fixed principles; they overlooked that the principles might not in all cases be so fixed, and so, if they were to decide at all, they would be forced into doing what they disclaimed, declaring that to be heresy which had not previously been so declared.
If this be the case as to the Privy Council, the question would be, how it can be remedied. All which I Eliz. c. 1 requires is, that the Queen should have the appointment of the Judges. But it might be provided, that in all cases involving the determination of doctrine, they should be the whole Synod of Bishops.
Mr. justice Coleridge' s reply, so far as it is a defence of the judicial Committee, defends it, not as a final Ecclesi–astical Court of Appeal, but as a Court of civil lawyers empowered to deal with the temporal consequences of decisions on questions of doctrine and discipline. But his letter has all the value which attaches to anything on such a subject proceeding from a very accomplished lawyer, who was also a devoted Churchman, and dealing with the question before it had been complicated by issues arising out of the Gorham and subsequent decisions.
MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE TO E. B. P.
Park Crescent, January 11, 1850.
I could not answer your letter, as I wished, yesterday, nor before post-time to-day: yesterday Keble was here all day transcribing with the help of Mr. Copeland, and correcting a paper on our present Church grievances, and I was busy with him. To-day I have been in Court and am only now returned. Keble' s paper of course turns in part on the subject on which your thoughts are occupied, and will serve, I think, in some measure and sense, to quiet men' s minds as to their position while it rouses them to better and secure it.
Now I come to your question, which for clearness' sake I transcribe: 'Whether the office of a Judge does not necessarily in some cases involve the new interpretation of those authorities upon which he founds his judgments?' By the word 'authorities' I understand you to mean the precedents, decisions, text-books, &c., which are to guide him in his judgments, not the authority which gives him his juris–diction.
Understanding you thus, I answer that his office in all cases may, and in fact will in many, or some at least, involve such consequences. In deciding a particular case he is to bring it under a rule to be gathered from previous authorities--whether it falls under the rule or not must of course depend on the true understanding of the rule--and that again on the true interpretation of the authorities. The Judge may think those authorities have been misunderstood, that the lan–guage has been construed too largely, or too strictly, or that inferences have been drawn not warranted by the context, or the circumstances under which it was used.
It is in this sense I answer your question affirmatively; and it seems unnecessary to illustrate my meaning by any instances. But then a lawyer would not admit your consequence; that, 'in fact, he by his judgments limits, or enlarges, as it may be, the meaning of those authorities.' He may enlarge or limit the previous interpretation, but ex hypothesi he is seeking to find the true meaning, which must always be the same: if he goes beyond, or falls short of that, his judgment must be wrong; but the meaning of the authorities remains the same. For example, we are to find our rule of decision in a particular statute--that has been before expounded in a case decided in the Common Pleas--and that decision has governed similar cases since. We, how–ever, think that their exposition was incorrect, and we either exclude a case from this rule, or bring one within it, which according to that exposition would fall within, or without it, as the case may be; in other words, we construe the statute more strictly, or largely, than they had done. Still I need not say that the authority, by which both profess to be guided, has but one meaning and remains unchanged.
The distinction between an encroachment of jurisdiction and an erroneous decision is often very fine; perhaps the true test is this: the former may be ascertained when the Judge begins his inquiry-- he has no right to commence it--he is wrong from the beginning--and must be so all through--however correctly he draws his conclusion from his premisses: in the latter he is right in his beginning, and wrong only in his conclusion. E.g. let there be a Judge with juris–diction only in cases of heresy: A. B. is libelled before him for a denial of the Divinity of the Second Person--here upon the face of it the charge is within the jurisdiction :--the Judge may decide rightly' or wrongly whether the language proved amounts to a denial--but there can be no excess of jurisdiction--he was right in beginning to examine into the case.. . . But suppose the charge on the face of it is of a matter merely of order or discipline, he ought to refuse to entertain it at all, and if he pronounces that to be heresy, he is not only wrong in his decision, but wrong in deciding on it at all. In the former case his decision might be appealed against to the proper Court of Appeal: in the latter we should restrain him from going on to a decision at all by our Writ of prohibition.
Now, tried by this test, I am not sure that there is any objection to the mere procedure of the Privy Council to hear the Gorham case: the matter directly at issue in the Court below was the right to insti–tution--a step in order to the attainment of a temporal right, induction and enjoyment of the benefice.
That right might have depended on some mere fact, wholly inde–pendent of spiritual considerations, such as canonical age, learning, morals, &c., but jurisdiction cannot depend on the nature of the questions to be discussed collectively in the cause, but upon that which is directly to be decided by the judgment. The distinction will be obvious, if we suppose the Bishop to have libelled Mr. G[orham] for heresy--then whether heretic or not is the thing to be decided--and the objection to the P[rivy] C[ouncil] entertaining that question at all, is an objection on Church principles to their jurisdiction.
Let us suppose that by law a heretic could not inherit land. A. B. claims an estate as heir-at-law to his father C. B. against D. who is in possession. No one can doubt that such an action might properly be brought in the Court of Queen' s Bench. But D.' s defence is that he is next heir in default of A. B., and that A. B.. cannot inherit because he is a heretic, e. g. an Arian. To which A. B. replies, admitting Arianism, but denying that he is therefore a heretic. Now perforce the Court of Queen' s Bench must examine this question, in order to arrive at its judgment, on the title to the land. It may decide wrongly, but it cannot exceed its jurisdiction. In the Gorham case, therefore, I am inclined to think that the crucial difficulty does not arise. I quite agree that in the manner of dealing with this collateral point, a more seemly course might have been taken, more in analogy with the pro–ceedings under similar circumstances, in our old Common-Law Courts. When the same precise question shall arise between the same parties in the pending quare impedit, instead of asking these Bishops to come and hear an argument upon it, as assessors, whom we shall listen to or not, as we think best, we shall send to the Archbishop for his certi–ficate, and be bound by his decision.
You will not understand me as defending the constitution of the Court of Appeal, and I quite think that we are called on now to exert ourselves vigorously for a better ordering of such things--and it seems to me that the Gorham case furnishes a safe and favourable time for the effort. Although no harm may be done in this case, yet the same Court is the Court of Appeal for directly spiritual cases. And the composition of the Court on the present occasion, as well as the exclu–sion by statute of all spiritual Lords from sitting on such appeals, cannot but strike ordinary men strongly.
It seems to me you are quite right in your view of the Supremacy, and it is very important that your view should be as generally made known as possible. I am very glad you have given me permission to show your letter, where I think it may be useful. I shall make use of your permission pretty freely, but not inconsiderately.
It occurs to me to mention, that the limit as to the declaration of heresy, which binds the Court of Arches, appears to me equally to limit the Court of Appeal---for they are to decide only whether the judgment of the Court below is right, and must of course try its cor–rectness on the same principles, which the Court below was bound to regard in arriving at its judgment.
I believe I have said all that occurs to me on a subject which I confess I am not so much at home in, as perhaps I ought to be--and I am afraid I have not given you much help. But I very sincerely beg of you to apply to me again and again if you think I can throw any more light on any difficulties. It will be a real satisfaction to me to work under you and with you in such a cause. I am only afraid I may disappoint you. I came into the world somewhat too soon to have devoted much time to these considerations, when I had leisure; and now I have too little to acquire much sound knowledge on them.
I hope you are better.
Believe me most truly and affectionately yours,
J. T. COLERIDGE.
It may be worth your while to know that the meeting of the P[rivy] C[ouncil] on Tuesday is only to consider the case, and consult on the judgment--the framing it must, I should think, be a work of time. By an old rule of Privy Council, majority binds--and nothing is said of difference of opinion.
If you think it worth white, will you let Keble see my letter, as he may be advised to work on with his paper, and expand it; and it may answer doubts in his mind.
In other respects do what you will with it.
In forwarding this letter to Keble, Pusey says:--
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
[January 13, 1850.]
But the real 'question seems, 'Is the doctrine of the Church of England sufficiently defined or no?' or, in any case in which it is not defined, has the Civil Power the right conceded to it, to define it?
J. C.' s answer seems to me to come to this-- 'It cannot define it as matter of faith; it .can define it as matter of discipline.' As to Holy Baptism, the doctrine of the English Church must continue to be the doctrine of the Creed, and her Formularies; but for all purposes of discipline, the Supreme Court must have the right of construing the authorities: and if so, it may construe them right or wrong.
I should fear that the admixture of a few Bishops, or forming a Court of a few Bishops only, would be worse than the present state of things. For it would probably be too easy to select a few lax Bishops. Of the whole body, one should hope that they would be overruled to do nothing inconsistent with the Faith.
The profound disquiet of deeply religious minds at this time appeared in the case of Archdeacon R. I. Wilberforce; he wrote in his distress to ask Keble whether, whatever the Privy Council might decide, it was not a duty to refuse to communicate with Mr. Gorham on the ground that he had been condemned as a heretic by the Ecclesiastical Court of Canterbury.
REV. J. KEBLE TO B. B. P.
Hursley Vicarage, Feb. 5, 1850.
I send you a note which has set me thinking very much, and I hardly know how to get over it. What I have told W. is--(1) That a man must not I suppose be counted a heretic without a distinct sentence of a competent Court: (2) That this sentence (of the Arches) hardly amounts to that: (3) That the way perhaps might be to pro–ceed against him for direct heresy under the Church Discipline Act: (4) That in the meantime the Archbishop I suppose must stay proceed–ings, and we might have time to prepare ourselves for such a crisis.
I think your argument in the proof-sheets must do good--only that people' s thoughts spring deeper.
Your ever-loving (in haste)
Pusey could not agree. He would have let Mr. Gorham alone, in the hope that in time he might be converted, as others had been converted, to an acknowledgment of the truth. The Low Church clergy in tilting against the doctrines of Baptismal Grace were often making war, not on the doctrine of the Church, but on some aspect or con–sequence with which they themselves had erroneously invested it.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
[Christ Church], Feb. 7, 1850.
It is quite natural that people should feel very acutely now, particularly such as W., who have not had the existence and overt toleration of heresy continually brought against them as a note against the Church of England. One' s answer and one' s comfort is, out of which we cannot get by any human means, God is helping us out of it by restoring truth. It seems a case in which we 'must let the ship drive' and not try to 'thrust it into' any 'creek.' Had measures, like this, been taken against Mr. Woodward, at Bristol, we should have lost one who is now an earnest maintainer and teacher of the truth. It seems like a state of bodily health, in which physicians look on, wait for God, and leave off remedies for a time, to see how He will work in the frame.
But then as to the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, I suppose the majority of those who in words impugn it are really contending against something else: e. g. Mr. Goode against a belief that a person, having been baptized, must necessarily be in a state of salvation (i. e. of grace, he means, I suppose). Others define, as you know, regeneration to be that from which a person cannot fall. These, surely, are in error as to a matter of a fact: it is not proved that they are heretics, it does not appear from what they say that they mean to deny anything which the Church affirms. This, I suppose, must be the Abp. of York' s case (I did not read his Charge), in that he argued that Cranmer, &c., could not have held Baptismal Regeneration because they held Predestination, i. e. he did not know what the doctrine is.
As you say, they are not proved heretics. Dr. Hinds' was a very bad case. He must have recanted, had there been any discipline. Yet we hope that he is not, in his inmost heart, a heretic.
I hardly know what he means by 'our Bishops having committed themselves to an heretical course.' For they have taken 'no course' at all.
I suppose that Mr. Gorham' s publication would bring him under the Church Discipline Act, yet it is hardly perhaps the same as if he had himself written it. It is an answer to his Bishop, and one sort of punishment has followed on it. I fear it might look like vindictive–ness. I wish the Bp. of E. had taken the ground of his denying the 'One Baptism for the remission of sins.' It would have brought out before the Church what Mr. Gorham' s special heresy is, and shown a good many that they do hold Baptismal Regeneration in that they believe original sin to be remitted in Baptism.
I do not see that W.' s case of 'our Bishops committing themselves to a wrong course,' has come, or is likely to come. The very thing which we are pressing for, 'judgment of Bishops in the case of heresy,' would be the very test; but one would hope that God would overrule any decision.
I cannot imagine the case which W. puts, as to a Bishop giving mission to Gorham on the distinct understanding that he denies the doctrine of 'One Baptism for the remission of sins.' I should think that most who impugn Baptismal Regeneration would start at its being supposed that they denied this. Mr Baring (London) did not suppose that there were above six clergy in the English Church who held with Mr. Gorham.
I cannot, here, answer what you probably can, whether one communicating with one, holding heretical errors, but not by any act severed from the Church, would so sever himself? The answer seems to be what you suggest, that a person is not a heretic until he is proved and declared such, and as such ejected. I should have thought many might have been puzzled by Mr. Gorham' s statements. The heresy comes out in some seven or eight places, amid a great deal of declara–tion of accepting the Formularies of the Church and believing what the Church believes.
Keble held out. He felt that if Mr. Gorham was not condemned as a heretic, he was condemned as being so much like one that to hold communion with him would be scandalous. REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
Shrove Saturday, [Feb. 16], 1850.
I wish I may be wrong, but fear that you in your loving heart a little underrate the difficulty which R. W. has raised. Surely in the case supposed (the Archbishop giving mission to Gorham after Sir H. J. F.' s sentence) it would be different from all the tolerance of heretics which we -have hitherto borne with as we might, because none of those were condemned heretics. If G[orham] were condemned as a heretic, so to fraternize with him would be breaking the Sacramentum Unitatis (would it not?) and intercepting our communion with the Head. Ought we in such a case to look to the visible consequences? I do not think, however, that he was condemned as a heretic, but only of false doctrine, as Oakeley. But it looks so like the other, that I fear it will be very scandalous: and to prevent this I proposed the suit: which even apart from this apprehension some think desirable. Might it not have the effect of bringing into strong light Mr. G[orham]' s peculiar doctrine, and so showing the Low Church in general that they need not be disturbed at anything that happens to him? I have written to our Bishop, stating the difficulty and what occurred to me on it, and particularly pressing this last point. I hope I may not have done-harm; but it is always a relief to me when I have told him things, and he is so cautious that one has no fear of committing him.
I wonder what you think of the Bp.of L.' s proposal. I fancied we ought to be very thankful for it; but how the restless ones take it I don' t know. It was remarkable in the Education Meeting on Thurs–day how every allusion to non-jurorship was caught up and hailed by the crowd.
These excessive and hasty alarms expressed in private letters by Pusey' s friends were in danger of finding open expression at the meetings of those Church Unions which were now being formed throughout the country. An effort was made in the London Church Union to call the further attention of Churchmen, and of the Government, to the importance of the questions raised by this appeal to the Privy Council. At a first meeting Pusey, who had come up from Asherne near Dartmouth, was present, but without Keble. He reported to Keble that 'some very strong and painful words' fell from those who were disposed to make the worst of the situation. He had had to threaten to withdraw from the meeting of the Committee unless a very exaggerated statement of the claims of the Crown was modified. He was indeed on the point of leaving, when Charles Marriott persuaded the authors of the reso–lution to accept a compromise. Pusey wrote apologetically to Keble about the resolution which actually passed. He hoped that his friend would not think it too strong. It ran thus:--
'That by the suit of Gorham v. the Bishop of Exeter now pend–ing by appeal in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as well as by the case of Escott v. Martin 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.'
These alarms were not unshared by Archbishops and Bishops alike. A conference of the Bishops was held on the subject; and as a result of their deliberations, the Bishop of London introduced into the House of Lords on Feb. 5, 1850, the 'Clergy Proceedings Bill,' to which allusion has already been made. By this Bill a new Court of Appeal in cases of heresy was to be substituted for the Judicial Com–mittee. It was to consist of the two Archbishops, the three senior Bishops according to the date of their consecration, the Lord Chancellor, the Dean of the Arches, the Judge of the Consistory Court of London, and the Regius and Margaret Professors of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. As the two Ecclesiastical Judges represented spiritual persons, the Lord Chancellor was the only layman, pure and simple, in the proposed Court. Bishop Blomfield, in introducing the Bill, described it as a strictly Church tribunal; and Archbishop Sumner, when supporting the Bishop of London, urged that the present state of the law on the doctrine and discipline of the Church was acknowledged to be excessively defec–tive. It was chiefly owing to the defective constitution of the Court of Appeal that the Church now stood in a posi–tion of some difficulty; it could never be satisfactory that ~questions relating to the doctrine and discipline of the Church should be submitted to a tribunal of laymen.
It would seem that this measure was proposed by the Bishop of London at this juncture in the hope that the Privy Council would hesitate to pronounce on a subject which the Bill implied they were unfit to settle. But, as we shall see, this hope was destined to disappointment. The opposition of the Government finally disposed of this well-intended and generally well-conceived effort to lighten the burden of the Church, and to solve a difficult question that vexed the minds of Churchmen, and it may be said of statesmen, for the next forty years.
Already rumours were in circulation to the effect that the decision of the Judicial Committee would be against the Bishop of Exeter; and the Bishop was already thinking how to act in such a contingency, and from this time until the judgment 'was delivered Pusey' s correspondence seems to have been chiefly concerned with this practical side of the question.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
6 Clifford Street, Feb. 14, 1850.
You have doubtless heard that the judgment is to be against us: forgive the plural pronoun. I cannot consider myself as more than the party in whom the common question of the Church is to be tried.
Something seems to have arisen--but it is unwise to build hope upon it--that may shake the resolution of the Committee. The delay, the anxiety which is known to be felt as to the mode of expressing the judgment--and perhaps the final impossibility of their devising words which shall not stultify the eminent persons who are to use them, for it has been understood that they are to affirm the Church' s doctrine, while they are to pronounce the denial of it not to justify a Bishop in refusing mission to the clerk who denies it--may, after all, enforce an opposite decision.
It is anxiously wished by them to give the judgment next week--before Baron Parke starts for the Midland circuit--and Thursday is the day named, as the most likely.
Now, it will probably be deemed by me right to address the Arch–bishop of Canterbury in a public letter, as soon as shall be possible, after the judgment, if it be adverse. In that case, I must speak plainly respecting his own erroneous statements on Baptism. Inter alia, I shall notice the following sentence in his Charge of 1841, p. 35-- 'He instituted His Sacraments that they who observed them might be a visible Body of witnesses to Him in the world: and that, after the usual manner of the Divine operations, there might be known and manifest channels, in which His Spirit might flow, to the edification and comfort of believers.'
This is a marvellous statement, coming from a Bishop, now grown into an Archbishop, in this branch of Christ' s Church. How he can reconcile his description of Sacraments to the exclusive application of the term to Baptism and the Lord' s Supper--or, rather, how he can speak of the 'usual manner of the Divine operations' as being that which God is pleased to adopt in those two Sacraments--it is not very easy to conjecture.
Be that as it may, I venture to ask your assistance in animadverting on the passage. The fuller you can conveniently make your argument, so long as it shall be sent soon, the more I shall be obliged.
In his Grace' s comment on the Gospel of St. John iii. 5 is the passage which I enclose. It is really startling to read such a state–ment from such a place. This, too, I wish to deal with--and shall be thankful for your aid. But, if there be not time for both, pray send me the former, as the more needed.
Yours, my dear Sir,
Always most faithfully,
P.S. To say, as his Grace says, or manifestly intends to say, that the prayers of faithful parents, or pro-parents, are necessary to the efficacy of Christ' s Baptism, is manifestly gross Pelagianism. Pray tell me here I can find a canon of the Church to that effect.
Perhaps, in writing your answer, you will kindly bear in mind my infirmity of vision. I shall be grieved to lose a word of what you may say.
Pusey' s first thought was now as always 'What would Keble say?' and the Bishop of Exeter' s extract from the Arch–bishop' s Charge of 1841 was sent to Hursley accordingly. Keble thought that the words admitted of a better inter–pretation than had been put on them by Bishop Phillpotts, but he was as strong as ever in favour of doing something to relieve the Church of the charge or suspicion of acquies–cence in heresy.
REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
Hursley Vicarage, Feb. 19, 1850.
The questionable clause [ 'after the usual manner of the Divine operations' ] may be fairly enough taken to mean what Hooker says, E. B. P., V. lvii. 3. if you look at it, you will see at once what I mean. It seems to me only right and charitable to make the best of the doctrinal statements of such men as the Archbishop. And as I fully expect that we shall have in some way or other to make some public statement in which his sayings will have to be noticed, I am very glad that you are placing the matter in that light before the Bishop. What a strange turn the matter seems to be taking. I cannot frame any producible statement in my own mind for whoever will have the honour of pronouncing that judgment. I cannot see by what subtilty the premiss and conclusion can be tacked together. It will be very scan–dalous and must lead to some such measure as the Bishop of London' s. It will not I hope be felt by R. W. as affecting his position; but how about our other restless friends? What will be our right course: e. g. as to communion with Gorham, &c.? I still find myself driven back to the notion [of] prosecuting him for heresy; which, however, I fear is not practical, as you say no more of it, and Coleridge does not answer my questions about it. I think I must enclose you another letter from R. W. This objection to such a course has been started, and I feel it strongly :--viz. that if one were driven by appeal to the Final Court under the Church Discipline Act, it is really little or no better than the present. As to the Bp. of London' s new Court, I don' t think we ought to be satisfied with it or with any other which has not the sanction of Convocation: nor with Convocation itself, unless we bad a better way of appointing Bishops. Whatever we assent to we must take as the Radicals do, or as the Church party in France---avowedly as a mere instalment....
Ever your most loving
Pusey acquiesced in Keble' s proposal for a prosecution of Mr. Gorham for heresy, and suggested this course to the Bishop. The Bishop, in thanking Pusey for his support, adds the following postscript:--
'6 Clifford Street, Feb. 20, 1850.
'There is one matter on which I am very anxious--to do what I can to prevent eager Churchmen from renouncing our Church, if the judgment be what is expected--and still more if such functionaries as the two Archbishops and the Bishop of London have declared in favour of it. That no such men, nor any individual men, can commit the Church, is certain; yet I much fear that many will act as if it were otherwise. Pray tell me what you would think it best to say, in order to stop them.'
In a second letter Pusey, following Keble' s suggestion, had endeavoured to throw the shield of Hooker over Archbishop Sumner' s equivocal language about the Sacra–ments. But Bishop Phillpotts would not have it so. In his reply he adds a postscript to the following effect:--
6 Clifford Street, Feb. 22, 1850.
'I am sorry to say that our friend Maskell seems to have a morbid eagerness to find all wrong in our Church, and to make out a case for his own secession. I wish he may stop short of Rome; but I have very strong apprehensions. You have probably seen his first Letter on the Position of the High Church Party. It is on the Supremacy--clever, but, I think, unsound.'
Pusey at this time must have been the most trusted corre–spondent of Bishop Phillpotts on the subject which occupied his mind. The Bishop writes again on the following day:--
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
[Confidential.] London, Feb. 23, 1850.
MY DEAR SIR,
I hear nothing more. All seems doubtful, except, I fear, that the doubt of what will be the general character of the judgment, is very small. The difficulty of devising words which may satisfy the lay Judges, for their own credits' sake, is our only hope.
In respect to my position, as to Institution, it is as follows:--
If the decision be against me, my jurisdiction, pro hac vice, passes to the Superior Ordinary, the Archbishop; but, if it be for me, while the decision of the Archbishop' s Court is affirmed, there is a mode of obtaining a remitting of the case to the Archbishop personally. It is thus:--
Besides the 'Duplex Querela,' an action of 'Quare Impedit' against me at the suit of the Crown is pending. Supposing me to be dis–~nissed from the 'Duplex Querela,' the action may nevertheless go on; and, if it does, the Court of Queen' s Bench would certainly send the case to the Archbishop, who would be required to certify whether Mr. G[orham] was of unsound opinions according to the evidence of the examination. His Grace, in this case, would doubtless certify that Mr. G. was not of unsound opinions. A writ would then issue to me from the Court of Q[ueen' s] B[ench] commanding me to institute. This writ (I WRITE CONFIDENTIALLY) I should, as you, I hope, doubt not that I should, disobey. This disobedience would bring me into a contempt; and, on motion for attachment, I should be committed rill I purge the contempt--i.e. till it should please God to release me both from prison and from life.
Probably this would be the best course for the case to take; but there is little hope that the first step be taken--that the Judicial Committee decide in my favour. If it be, the rest may follow.
Now, I entreat you not to notice this communication to any one. I have thought it necessary to ascertain exactly my position, in order to my own guidance. But I should be very sorry if it should become prematurely known.
Yours very faithfully,
Maskell' s published letter gives me great concern. I consider it the mischievous and most ill-timed effusion of a very self-willed man.
My own course of Protest, or whatever it be, cannot be shaped till I know what the terms of the judgment shall finally be.
Meanwhile, I earnestly entreat your kind and able consideration of the points likely to be involved, and of the best mode of dealing with them.
One supposition is, that they will decide that the doctrine of Spiritual Regeneration in Baptism being acknowledged as the doctrine of the Church, Mr. Gorham did not, at the examination, express anything contrary to, or inconsistent with it. Yet this must require much ingenuity to state with decent plausibility.
Keble was being consulted at each step of this corre–spondence with the Bishop of Exeter.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
Christ Church, Feb. 22, 1850.
I send you more stunning intelligence than any yet. What would you advise me to advise the Bishop?
The prosecution upon Mr. G.' s special heresy might be some stay. People cannot be thinking of the Creed when they speak of 'open questions.'
What should be the point of the Bishop' s Protest: to say Anathema to those who deny the remission of sins in Baptism, or what?
This report that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London were ready to treat 'the grace and efficacy of Baptism as an open question' was a great shock to Keble.
REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
Ember Saturday in Lent, [Feb. 23], 1850.
May He be with us, for surely it is a sad strait. It seems, however, so far clear, that we must all in our places' protest: and I should have thought that the simple ground of the Creed, as e. g. I have stated it to our Bishop, would be sufficient to take at first. A Bishop is only bound to due obedience to his Metropolitan: and of course he continues under his obligation to drive away bad doctrine. As at present advised, I should not use the word 'Anathema,' but should hold the Archbishop to his own Court' s decision, demanding a Synod. I should also intimate something of possible suspension of Communion till the matter was synodically settled.
I had also considered that if Sir H. J. F. should give the matter against us, we could not consistently appeal to the P[rivy] C[ouncil], even under the Church Discipline Act.
I cannot think that the N onjurors' position was so very bad or useless an one. I seem to trace our present life in good measure to it.
I am ashamed to say nothing has been done yet about the prosecu–tion for heresy. I will try and write to Badeley by next post. I did not know till last night that you consented to that step.
On the next day Keble sends further thoughts as to the course which the Bishop might take in the event of an adverse decision. In this letter we trace to its source the Bishop' s resolution to summon a Diocesan Synod in order to reaffirm the Catholic doctrine on behalf of his Diocese.
REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
Hursley Vicarage, St. Matthias, 1850.
It strikes me that the regular way in the case supposed would e for the Bishop to summon a Diocesan Synod and for the whole Diocese to move synodically, protesting, setting forth the true doctrine, and demanding a Provincial Council to settle it: of course also com–municating their proceedings to the Bishops and Archdeacons of all other Dioceses in communion with the See of Canterbury. In this way the matter would be brought officially under cognizance of this whole branch of the Church; and there would be no excuse for persons to slight or disparage it on personal grounds.
This is all I can say to-night.
Ever yours most lovingly,
Pusey sent on Keble' s suggestion to the Bishop, but with a modification of his own. He was anxious that the language of the Creed, 'One Baptism for the remission of sins,' and not any statement drawn up by the Bishop of Exeter, should be the formula of concord.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
Christ Church, Feb. 25, 1850.
I sent your suggestion, but I hope it was agreeable with your meaning that I suggested putting prominently the Article in the Creed 'One Baptism for the remission of sins,' setting forth that it bad been denied in the Diocese: that he had refused Institution to a clerk, &c.; that his act had been sanctioned by the highest Eccle–siastical Court, reversed, &c.; that he called upon his clergy to reaffirm that such was the faith of the Church.
I did this because I hoped that the acknowledgment of the remission of original sin would be a great step towards agreement on Regenera–tion; that people would have no misunderstandings (i.e. those who by 'Regeneration' mean 'Conversion' ), that they would not be held back by a fear of driving a large number of the clergy away, and that we should not have the disgrace and scandal of stormy and dissentient Synods.
I should quite dread an appeal to the Church whose animus seemed to be, that all should be ejected who did not hold Baptismal Regeneration: (1) because people are inured to the present state of things and dislike strong measures; (2) they are hopeful about individuals, and would not eject them; (3) there is the misunderstanding about the term; and so (4) I should expect to be defeated and we should be worse off than now. The Church seems to me like a sickly person recovering one would watch his strength returning and not put it to any decisive trial one could help, which one did not feel morally sure it would stand.
But the Lord will provide.
I see that I suggested a Diocesan Synod as you proposed, and communication [of] their sentence to other Bishops, Archdeacons, as you said. But I was afraid to say anything about asking for a Pro–vincial Council before again asking you, fearing that things would go wrong. We are so unused to strong measures.
Mr. Badeley thought it impossible at the time to prose–cute Mr. Gorham for heresy. But the Bishop of Exeter took up warmly the other proposal that he should summon a Diocesan Synod.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
London, Feb. 28, 1850.
I thank you very much for your suggestion of a Diocesan Synod, for the purpose which you mention--and, if the judgment be to the effect of regarding Baptism an open question, or anything like it, I shall be greatly inclined to act on the suggestion.
The very step would indicate vitality, and might tend to rouse other portions of our Church.
A practical difficulty would arise from the extent of my Diocese, and the great number of my clergy--more than 800.
This demands consideration, and it seems not unlikely that time will be given to us for consideration.
The decision of the Judicial Committee was now so fully anticipated that its substance was filling men' s minds even less than its possible consequences. Thus on the very eve of its publication Bishop Phillpotts writes to Pusey mainly about Mr. Maskell' s pamphlet and the necessity for a clear understanding as to what is and is not involved in the Royal Supremacy.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
Bishopstowe, March 7, 1850.
MY DEAR SIR
I am very much obliged for all your papers, which I deem most valuable. If it be necessary--and when it is necessary--I shall not scruple to avail myself of your kind offer to come hither.
I am informed by this day' s post, that it is possible judgment will be given to-morrow. Yet, as notice was promised by Lord Campbell to be sent to me--and none has arrived--I doubt the accuracy of the rumour. It may indeed have been sent to Exeter.
Yours most faithfully,
I feel that the position in which the case now stands leaves me no option but to deal with the Archbishop plainly and decisively.
I am very glad that you have turned your thoughts to the Supremacy question. I have drawn up a Petition to the Queen, in which I have entered into it pretty fully, and should be glad to shew it to you before it is sent. At present, I am stopped, till we know what is to happen on Friday. It may not be necessary.
Maskell' s very offensive Pamphlet has done much harm. Every one whom I talk with on the subject agrees in condemning its tone and resisting its argument. I have told him my mind very plainly.
On March 8, 1850, the Judicial Committee gave its award. Of the lay judges, Vice-Chancellor Knight Bruce alone dissented: of the three prelates who attended the hearing, the Bishop of London dissented; the Primates of Canter–bury and York concurred.
The Court described the limits of the authority of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in cases of this kind in the following words: 'This Court, constituted for the purpose of advising Her Majesty in matters which come within its competency, has no jurisdiction or authority to settle matters of faith, or to determine what ought in any particular to be the doctrine of the Church of England. Its di~t~ extends only to the consideration of that which is by law established to be the doctrine of the Church of England upon the true and legal construction of her Articles and Formularies; and we consider that it is not the duty of any Court to be minute and rigid in cases of this sort. We agree with Sir William Scott in the opinion which he expressed in Stone' s case, in the Consistory Court of London, " That if any Article is really a subject of dubious interpretation, it would be highly improper that this Court should fix on one meaning, and prosecute all those who hold a contrary opinion regarding its interpretation.”'
And taking this view of their authority they decided with regard to the opinions of Mr. Gorham (their statement of which has already been quoted) that they are 'not contrary or repugnant to the declared doctrine of the Church of England as by law established, and that Mr. Gorham ought not, by reason of the doctrine held by him, to have been refused admission to the vicarage of Branipford Speke.'
It was natural that the Bishop of Exeter would not quietly accept such a reversal of his own decision; besides, he was most thoroughly alive to the consequences which were likely to ensue. His first step was one for which he had for some days been preparing, in his correspondence with Pusey. In reply to the Bishop' s question what he should do to prevent secessions to Rome in the event of an adverse judgment, Pusey had supplied him with materials for a Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This Letter appeared on March 25, 1850. Few documents of the kind, since Law' s Letters to Hoadley, can rank in importance with this famous Protest. Deep conviction and commonsense, trenchant logic and indignant irony are in their turn brought to bear with triumphant effect on the judgment of the Judicial Committee. Space will not allow a sum–mary of a document that belongs to history; but its concluding sentences must be quoted. After noticing that 'serious doubts have been raised in the minds of many, whether the Church, if she continue passive under this judgment, would not forfeit her claim to be a portion of the Church of Christ,' the Bishop entreats the Primate to call together his comprovincial bishops; and invite them to declare what is the faith of the Church on the articles impugned in this judgment. He then concludes as fol–lows:--
'I have one most painful duty to perform. I have to protest not only against the judgment pronounced in the recent cause, but also against the regular consequences of that judgment. I have to protest against your Grace' s doing what you will be speedily called to do, either in person, or by some other exercising your authority. I have to protest, and I do hereby solemnly protest, before the Church of England, before the Holy Catholic Church, before Him Who is its Divine Head, against your giving mission to exercise cure of souls, within my diocese, to a clergyman who proclaims himself to hold the heresies which Mr. Gorham holds. I protest that any one who gives mission to him till he retract, is a favourer and supporter of those heresies. I protest, in conclusion, that I cannot, without sin--and, by God' s grace, I will not--hold communion with him, be he who he may, who shall so abuse the high commission which he bears' .
The form and manner of this remarkable pamphlet was entirely the Bishop' s: Pusey could not, if he would, have supplied it, and some parts of it would not have befitted him. But of the solid material not a little was Pusey' s. On the day that the Letter appeared in London the Bishop wrote to Pusey: 'Accept my warmest thanks for the great trouble which you undertook for me, and have performed most judiciously.' One service entails another. Mr. Goode, who was now the main advocate of Mr. Gorham 's views on Baptism, replied to the Bishop of Exeter. On one point the Bishop had made an historical error. He had unguardedly alluded to the Canons of the Fourth Council of Carthage as being received by the whole Church. Pusey had pointed out that his statement of the case was open to criticism; but the warning reached the Bishop too late to be of service. The Bishop' s Letter had been published. Mr. Goode denounced the misstatement, 'when proceeding from a Bishop,' as a 'discredit to us all.' The Bishop fell back on Pusey for assistance. Pusey' s reply' to Mr. Goode on this point is inadequate: all that could be safely said was that at a late date, though certainly before the Reforma–tion, the Canon quoted by the Bishop was accepted by the Eastern and Western Church. The Bishop' s statement was undoubtedly incorrect. But so strong was the evidence for the acceptance of the Canons considered that Pusey is able to cite the authority of Baronius, Schelstrate and Tillemont in their favour. Pusey at this time contemplated a complete reply to Mr. Goode' s pamphlet; and had made preparations for it, when his time ,and thoughts were ab–sorbed by dangers from an opposite quarter.
But in another way also the Bishop tried to relieve the widespread anxiety among Churchmen. He endeavoured to obtain a decision that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council never ought to have dealt with Mr. Gorham' s case at all. He applied to the Court of Queen' s Bench for a Rule to prohibit the institution of Mr. Gorham, on the ground that an appeal from the Court of Arches lay properly to the Upper House of Convocation, and not to the Queen in Council. The Rule was refused on April 25, and a month later the Bishop appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, but with a like result. Thence he applied to the Court of Exchequer, where Sir Fitzroy Kelly obtained a rule nisi, which however, after arguments, was discharged on July 8. It was clear that no remedy was to be obtained in this way from the Civil Courts. But the Bishop had been preparing for these failures; and on the morrow of the decision of the Court of Common Pleas he placed his plans before Pusey.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER TO E. B. P.
Draper' s Hotel, 28 Sackville Street,
May 28, 1850.
My failure in the attempt to annul the judgment of the Judicial Committee has not much surprised, nor at all disheartened, me. I hope I have faith enough to see and feel--as well as to acknowledge--that it is best for us, that results are in the disposal of higher Wisdom than man' s.
The close is now approaching. On Friday next, I shall obey the monition of the Court of Arches, by bringing Mr. Gorham' s Presenta–tion into Court, and so leaving matters open for the Institution of him by the Archbishop.
But it appears to me that I am bound to lay before His Grace the special reasons on which I ought to call on him not to institute; in other words, the special heresies declared by Mr. G.
I earnestly ask your advice and assistance on this point, both as to the form in which my Protest should be made--and also as to the particular statements of Mr. G. to be adduced as the ground of Protest.
I enclose a Paper--part of a Letter--addressed to me, two or three weeks ago, by one of the ablest of our Judges, and a well-read and very sound Churchman.
I think his view so important, that I am much inclined to avail myself of it--perhaps in a Letter to my Clergy; and in the first instance, in my Protest to the Archbishop.
I may tell His Grace that the Judicial Committee have not decided that Mr. G.' s heresies are not heresies; but only that his statements, on which their judgment was formed, were merely of the neutral character stated in the enclosed paper; that, therefore, His Grace must bear the undivided responsibility of pronouncing by the solemn act of conferring the Cure of Souls, that the holding of such heresies is not a disqualification.
I heartily wish I could see you; but that, I fear, is too much to ask Yours, my dear Sir, most faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Pusey. [Signed] H. EXETER.
Pardon my having recourse to an amanuensis.
The execution of this resolution was delayed by the pro–ceedings in the Court of Exchequer; on their failure, the Bishop obeyed the monition of the Court of Arches. He accompanied this serious act by a solemn protest, in which he pointed out the difference between that statement of Mr. Gorham' s teaching which the Judicial Committee had framed as the basis of its decision, and those statements of Mr. Gorham himself, which the Bishop held to be contrary to the doctrine of the Church, and which had determined him to refuse institution to the living of Brampford Speke. Mr. Gorham had stated that remission of sins, adoption into the family of God, and regeneration must take place, in the case of infants, not in, or by means of, but before Baptism; he had not only denied the invariably regen–erating efficacy of the sacrament, but had taught that when there was any such thing as regeneration at all, it was conferred altogether independently of the sacrament. This was very different from the error which the Judi–cial Committee had acquitted. Pusey was of one mind with the Bishop as to the importance of the distinc–tion between the opinions which Mr. Gorham really held, and the opinions which the Judicial Committee attributed to him. Mr. Gorham had been refused institution for reasons which had not been taken into consideration by the body which ultimately decreed that he should be instituted.
After stating his point, with his wonted ability, the Bishop concluded as follows:--
'Now we, the said Henry, Bishop of Exeter, taking the premises into our serious and anxious consideration, and furthermore consider–ing that the judgment of Her Most Gracious Majesty in Council on the said appeal was pronounced solely in reliance on the statement made in the report and recommendation of the said Judicial Com–mittee, as being a just, true, and sufficient statement, do, by virtue of the authority given to us by God, as a Bishop in the Church of Christ, and in the apostolic branch of it planted by God' s providence within this land, and established therein by the laws and constitution of this realm, hereby solemnly repudiate the said judgment, and declare it to be null and utterly without effect in foro conscientiae, and do appeal therefrom in all that concerns the Catholic faith to " the sacred Synod of this nation when it shall be in the name of Christ assembled as the true Church of England by representation.”
'And further, we do solemnly protest and declare, that whereas the said George Cornelius Gorham did manifestly and notoriously hold the aforesaid heretical doctrines, and hath not since retracted and disclaimed the same, any Archbishop or Bishop, or any official of any Archbishop or Bishop, who shall institute the said George Cornelius Gorham to the cure and government of the souls of the parishioners of the said parish of Brampford Speke, within our diocese aforesaid, will thereby incur the sin of supporting and favouring the said heretical doctrines, and we do hereby renounce and repudiate all communion with any one, be he whom he may, who shall so institute the said George Cornelius Gorham as aforesaid.
'Given under our hand and Episcopal seal this 20th day of July, in the year of our Lord 1850.
The protest was unavailing. The Bishop persisted in his conscientious refusal to institute Mr. Gorham, who notwith–standing was instituted on August 6, 1850, by Sir H. J. Fust, as Dean of the Arches, under the fiat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.