R. GRANT & SON, 82 PRINCE'S STREET.
ABERDEEN: A. BROWN & CO.
LONDON: JAMES BURNS.
A Presbyter in the Scottish Episcopal Church has resigned his pastoral charge in the Diocese of Edinburgh, in consequence of an admonition addressed to him by his Bishop, founded upon an alleged breach of an important Canon. The same Presbyter, since that resignation, has accepted an invitation from certain persons to continue his ministrations in Edinburgh as a Clergyman of the Church of England. There are, consequently, in the same place, two bodies or societies of men professing to hold the same Articles of Religion, the same Creed, and using the same Liturgy; and these bodies are avowedly not in communion with each other. That such a state of things should exist is clearly most lamentable; its existence obviously demonstrates that there must have been error somewhere. It is the duty of all to attempt to discover on which side the error lies, as that discovery alone can lead to the restoration of unity,--at all events to the vindication of truth. Such an investigation is the object of the following pages.
As a layman, I have little inclination, and perhaps less title, to mingle in polemical dispute. This, however, is a matter in which the laity have a vast concern. So long as the grounds of contention extended no further than between the Presbyter and his Ecclesiastical Superior, interference was uncalled for, and comment equally impertinent. But when that contention has widened itself so far, that not only the Presbyter himself, but a portion of the lay members of our communion, have voluntarily placed themselves beyond its pale, the question becomes open. An event like this emphatically calls for challenge and remonstrance. Let us look deliberately to the facts.
The Rev. D. T. K. Drummond, Junior Minister of Trinity [3/4] Chapel, was in the habit of holding a Weekly Prayer Meeting in a Hall apart from his church, which meeting he asserts to have been conducted in the following manner:--
1. A hymn.
2. An exposition.
3. An extempore prayer.
4. A concluding hymn.
These meetings were announced by printed notices in the pews to the Congregation of Trinity, who were all invited to attend, and strangers were not excluded. On these occasions the Liturgy was never used. Canon XXVIII. of the Scottish Episcopal Ch arch enacts, "That if any Clergyman shall officiate or preach in any place publicly, without using the Liturgy at all, he shall, for the first offence, be admonished by his Bishop, and if he persevere in this uncanonical practice, shall be suspended, until, after due contrition, he be restored to the exercise of his clerical functions." [See Note A.]
The Bishop of Edinburgh, conceiving that the ministrations of Mr. Drummond, as above described, fell under the prohibitions of the Canon, addressed a letter to Mr. Drummond which contained an admonition for officiating without the use of the Liturgy. A good deal of correspondence ensued (with which most of the readers of these pages will be familiar), in which Mr. Drummond attempted to prove that these meetings did not amount to public but only to private ministrations, With this view of the question the Bishop could not coincide, but he made the following statement:--"I must here repeat what I have stated in a former letter, that I have no wish to restrict your ministrations either as to time or place. You may give expositions every day;--but surely they would not be less useful--less conducive to all these good results which you say have, flowed from your ministrations in Clyde-Street Hall--if they were in accordance with the Canon, preceded by the Common Prayer of the Church, and the portions of Scripture appointed by her for the day." This passage shows clearly, beyond the reach of cavil or of doubt, that the object of the Bishop was not (as has been industriously reported) to prevent Mr. Drummond from holding his Prayer Meetings, or even to restrict them, but solely to enforce the use of the Liturgy according to the provisions of the Canon.
Mr. Drummond, however, held, that unless he could convince the Bishop that these meetings were private, and so be, yowl the scope of the Canon,--or unless he could persuade the Bishop (retaining his opinion) to dispense with enforcing the [4/5] Canon (which the Bishop has no authority to do),--his sphere of usefulness would be narrowed so far as to leave him no alternative save that of resignation.
Accordingly, Mr. Drummond resigned his charge.
Now, the obvious and natural construction which any unprejudiced person would draw from the above facts, appears to me to be this,--That Mr. Drummond resigned his charge because he would not use the Liturgy at his Prayer Meetings. I shall not enter into any discussion regarding the abstract propriety of his using or omitting t. I shall put the question in its true light, thus--
Mr. Drummond is desired by his Ecclesiastical Superior either to discontinue his Expository Meetings, or to use the Liturgy at those meetings.
Mr. Drummond practically declines either alternative, and resigns.
Wherein then lies this offence, and of what does Mr. Drummond complain? Is it of the law of the Church, or is it of the Bishop's interpretation of that law?
To me it appears that he complains of both. He has stated that Canon XXVIII. was introduced, or altered, for the express purpose of checking him (Mr. Drummond) in his voluntary ministrations; [Mr. Drummond's Reply, p. 12.] and his correspondence with the Bishop amply shows, that however stringent the regulations of this Canon may be, he considers that the Bishop has given them a forced interpretation, in order to meet his peculiar case. Let us, then, consider separately these two grounds of complaint.
First--He complains of the Canon--that is, he complains of the law of the Church. He does not allege that this Canon was invalidly framed--that there was anything imperfect or irregular in the constitution of the Synod that framed it, or that he was ignorant of its terms. He states, indeed, that he was ignorant of its history, but that is quite irrelevant. Every Canon, no doubt, like every law, has its particular history or reason; but we do not require to know the history in order to understand the law. The Canon is clear and explicit, and it has been in force since the middle of the year 1838, and, up to the day of his resignation, was at least tacitly acknowledged by Mr. Drummond. I do not say that Mr. Drummond, if he felt himself aggrieved by the enactment of that Canon--if he felt his Christian liberty (about which we have heard so much) at all restrained--or if he felt the usefulness of his ministrations (about which we [5/6] have heard a great deal more) at all lessened thereby,--was not at perfect liberty to resign his charge and pastoral office in the Scottish Episcopal Church. That is conceded to him at all hands. But there is a wide difference between the refusal to accept anew law, and the outcry against that law after years of silent acquiescence, more especially when the outcry is made by the offending party. There stood the law--no matter whether right or wrong--there it stood. Mr. Drummond needed not to accept of it. If it galled his conscience, he might have bid the Church farewell. But did he do so? Four years and more have gone by since that obnoxious Canon was framed, and not a word of remonstrance from Mr. Drummond ever reached the Episcopal ear. At length his own irregularities bring him within the censure of the Canon, and the offender, instead of submitting to its censure, turns round and denounces the law! Why, if there be any analogy at all between things temporal and things ecclesiastical, it would be an easy enough matter to find out parallel cases. Few offenders will acknowledge the justness of the law that condemns them; but in considering the justice of that law, what weight would any one give to the opinion of the offender who baa transgressed it?
But then Mr. Drummond says,--I have not acquiesced in the Canon--I have held those meetings which you pronounce irregular ever since the Canon was passed. The reply is very short, but very sufficient. If you did so knowingly, and in opposition to the Canon, you have broken the solemn promise of obedience to the Canons, which you in common with the other Presbyters have subscribed.
So, then, against the Canon Mr. Drummond can have no ground of complaint. Ignorance of it he does not plead--even if he did, it could not avail him. A Clergyman is at least as much bound to know the law of the Church which he serves, as a subject to know the law of the land in which he lives. Put ignorance out of the question, and Mr. Drummond then stands in this dilemma,--he has either admitted the propriety of the Canon, by four years tacit acquiescence, or he has violated his solemn promise as a Presbyter, by wilfully and deliberately breaking the public and recognised law of the Church. There is no other alternative. I presume, then, Mr. Drummond's complaint against the Canon may be laid aside as unfounded and incompetent. The existence of the Canon, I repeat, may be a good reason for deterring any one who objects to it from entering the communion of the Church; its enactment, when made public, might have been a good reason for any one to have quitted the ministry of the Church; [6/7] but situated as Mr. Drummond is, after four years tacit acquiescence or secret disobedience, it is not available to him as a ground of original complaint.
Next--He complains of the Bishop--that is, he complains of the judge whose duty it is to interpret the law of the Church. This, in many ways, is objectionable. In the first place, Mr. Drummond, by accepting his charge in the diocese of Edinburgh placed himself voluntarily under the jurisdiction of the Bishop. Canonical obedience to that authority was as much a part of the bargain by which Mr. Drummond became Minister of Trinity Chapel, as the income he has drawn from the charge. He submitted to the Bishop as his judge. But what kind of submission is that which refuses to obey the judgment whenever contrary to the opinion of the judged? What kind of submission is that which appeals to public opinion as the arbiter between the judge and the party liable to jurisdiction? Once admit the principle Mr. Drummond is here contending for, and anarchy is the sure result. In the Kirk, for example, a Minister is bound to obey the judgment of the Presbytery he belongs to, just as in the Scottish Episcopal Church a Presbyter is bound to obey the judgment of his Bishop. He has no alternative. It is emphatically his duty to do so, because that obedience was part of the original contract by virtue of which he became a member of the Establishment. The position is clear--past all dispute. Obedience to jurisdiction is the essence of all society. Refuse it, and you become a rebel to the Jaw, no matter whether temporal or spiritual, which you have heretofore acknowledged. It is the acknowledgment of jurisdiction which binds you, and from that acknowledgment you cannot get free.
This argument would bold good even had the Bishop been irresponsible--if no appeal could, according to the Canons, have been taken from his judgment. But how immeasureably strengthened is the case against Mr. Drummond, when there did lie an effective appeal? It was in his power, and the Bishop gave him the option, to be heard before the Diocesan Synod, where every member of the Synod must have given his opinion upon the matter, and full justice would have been meted out to Mr. Drummond, had the admonition of the Bishop appeared to the Synod hasty or ill-advised. From that tribunal (or even directly) there lay appeal to the Synod of Bishops, whose decision by the Scottish Canons is to be taken as the voice of the Church. Hitherto it was a matter between man and man--between the judge and the judged, it is true--but still between man and man. So far Mr. Drummond was not bound to yield his opinion--he might [7/8] take the opinion of the next tribunal; but he refuses to do so. Let us ask for a moment why? If he conscientiously thought the Bishop was wrong in his interpretation of the Canon (and that is the point we have now to deal with, not the merits of the Canon itself), was it not his duty as a good Churchman, and one who was maintaining an important principle, to take the opinion of his brethren in the Diocese upon it, seeing that the same restriction which was prescribed to him might at any moment likewise be enforced upon them?
This is a very weak point in Mr. Drummond's case; and the Rev. Gentleman is himself fully aware of its weakness. It was pressed upon him at the outset by the Bishop in the following manner; On the 8th of October, the Bishop writes as follows--"You will oblige me, then, by letting me know whether it is your purpose to continue, or rather not to recommence your ministrations in the Clyde-Street Hall, respecting which you have been admonished by me. In the event of your refusing to do so, I shall feel myself obliged to submit the matter, according to Canon, to the consideration of a Diocesan Synod." Mr. Drummond's reply is curious, as showing his determination, even at that early stage of the correspondence, to throw the whole responsibility upon the Bishop:--"It is not probable that I shall give you any trouble in obtaining a ratification of your decision, either by a Diocesan Synod or by the College of Bishops." This sentence is singularly worded, and might be interpreted in a sense which I hope Mr. Drummond did not mean to convey. I am willing, however, to believe that no inuendo was here purposely insinuated, and that the word "ratification" was used erroneously, in place of "review." The Bishop, with less confidence in the infallibility of his own opinion, indicates, in his very next letter, the course of conduct which he intended to pursue; and it is fortunate that his language throughout is so clear and explicit, that it is next to impossible for any one, unless wilfully, to misinterpret it. He says--"It is not my opinions, feelings, or tastes, that I have now to speak of, but my judgment in a matter of ecclesiastical law. That judgment is, that I am bound by the law of our Church to admonish you, as I have done, upon Case No. I. of your letter of the 14th inst.; and if that admonition should be neglected, to bring your; conduct before the Synod of the Diocese." Still Mr. Drummond will not hear of an appeal, or submit to a Court of Review. His anxiety to avoid it is as evident, as if (which I am loath to believe) his paramount object throughout had been to get rid of his connection with the Episcopal Church in Scotland. In his next letter, after bearing glowing testimony [8/9] to the success of his own ministrations, he says--"But if, unfortunately, I fail to move you by this representation of the facts of the case, I beg to assure you that I shall not impose upon you the inconvenience or annoyance of assembling a Synod to review my conduct, and to pass sentence accordingly; but I shall without further delay resign my charge in connection with the Scottish Episcopal Church." This time, observe, the judgment of the Synod is to be waived, for the purpose of sparing "inconvenience or annoyance" to the Bishop. Any scruple on that score is immediately removed by the Bishop's admirable reply:--"According to the law of the Church, any judgment of mine to be effective--I might say to be a judgment at all--must be given in open Court, with all the Clergy as assessors; and even then there is an appeal from me to the College of Bishops. The responsibility would thus be divided, and room given for the correction of my error, if I be in error. By your resigning at once, the whole responsibility will, by the ignorant, be supposed to rest upon me. I, however, declare my readiness to submit my judgment to that of the Church, pronounced through her legitimate organs." It did not suit the Rev. Mr. Drummond to allow the responsibility to be divided, and it did not suit him to submit his judgment to that of the Church, pronounced through her legitimate organs. Accordingly, in his next letter, he uses the following expressions--"Should the Canon be enforced on me according to the interpretation you lay down, I must, without further delay, resign my charge in connection with the Scottish Episcopal Church," and "your former letters seemed very broadly to intimate a conclusion, at least as startling, when you stated that the sense of official obligation which led you to commence this interference, would lead you, if unfortunately it should be forced upon you, to go through with it to the end.' You had already admonished me, and the very next step was suspension, according to the terms of the Canon--the end to which you thus declared yourself ready to go, if I attempted to recommence my lectures in Clyde-street Hall."
The Italics in the above quotation are Mr. Drummond's, not mine. Now there are two points to be here observed--1st, That the Bishop's offer of a hearing before the Diocesan Synod is indirectly refused; 2nd, That Mr. Drummond (probably with a view to the publication of the correspondence) puts the case so, as to lead to the inference that the Bishop had no alternative in the case of contumacy, except to suspend him, and, in fact, had threatened to do so. There is not single word implying a threat of suspension throughout the whole of the Bishop's correspondence. I entreat the attention [9/10] of the reader to this fact, because, among all the distorted statements that have been sedulously promulgated abroad, this supposed threat of suspension by the Bishop is the most distorted and the most industriously spread. And no wonder,--for in order to make out the necessary case of persecution against Mr. Drummond--in order to justify his resignation, and the far graver matter of the subsequent schism, it was indispensably requisite to show that some overt act of power was threatened, or, at all events, contemplated. Mr. Drummond, with rare foresight, attempts in the foregoing passage to supply he deficiency--but he fails. This is the Bishop's answer,--"It was not surprise, but regret, that I expressed at your intention of resigning your charge. Certainly I did not expect, such a determination from you, neither did I expect that you would comply with my admonition. But I expected that you would require me to judge the case in Synod, and that if your practice were condemned in that Court, you would appeal to the College of Bishops." This is the language which the Bishop maintained throughout the whole of the correspondence. He never hinted, even indirectly, at suspension;--in fact, as Mr. Drummond perfectly well knows, or ought to know, there could be no suspension, by the Canons of the Church, provided the case were taken by either party to appeal. Suspension was not the next step according to the terms of the Canons. It is quite true that the Bishop might possibly (I do not say he could legally) suspend a Presbyter simpliciter under the operation of Canon XXVIII. But that Canon admits of no appeal, and the Bishop expressly waived it. He did so by proposing a reference to the Diocesan Synod, and from them, if necessary, an appeal to the College of Bishops, under the provision of Canon XXXVI, which give the Bishop, pending the reference and appeal, no power of suspension whatever. It is not the case, therefore, as Mr. Drummond alleges, that the Bishop declared himself ready to pronounce sentence of suspension, in case the lectures or expositions were recommenced. On the contrary, he indicated as clearly as a man could do, the course which he intended to adopt, namely, that of reference to the Synod; and the only time the word "suspension" is used, is by Mr. Drummond himself in the letter above quoted, where he attempts to fix the odium of that threat upon the Bishop.
Throughout has Mr. Drummond refused to submit to any reference or appeal--throughout has he declined to take the opinion of the Church upon the point at issue. This at all events, places his conduct in a very unfavourable position contrasted with that of the Bishop, who, from the [10/11] commencement, avowed his readiness to submit his judgment to that of the Church. What complaint, therefore, has he against the Bishop for his interpretation of the Canon, except that he cannot make the Bishop see with his eyes, or construe the law as the Presbyter persists in doing? He was offered an appeal, which he refused. No threat of suspension was held out against him. He might have even continued to hold his prayer-meetings as formerly, unmolested, until the College of Bishops gave their definitive sentence. But he would submit to nothing that might impose a fetter upon his private judgment, and the consequent irregularities. He was wiser than them all in his own conceit, and so--he resigned.
In his Reply to the Resolutions of the Clergy of the Diocese, written and published subsequent to his resignation, Mr. Drummond again recurs to the point. Let us see if his explanation to them is more satisfactory. This is his first reason for not bringing the matter before the Diocesan Synod:--"It is not a Court of Presbyters where a free discussion of the ease at issue may take place, and where the judgment of the majority forms the decision; but ft is a Court of the Bishop, where he simply asks the opinion of his Presbyters, but decides at length according to his own." I meet this statement with a fiat contradiction. The words of the Canon are these:--"The Bishop shall, after due notice of the charge, stated in precise terms to the parties concerned, summon them before himself sitting in Diocesan Synod, and shall appoint the Dean, or, if necessary, some other Presbyter, to state the charge and bring forward the evidence, and, having fully heard both the accuser and the accused, and all the evidence that either can produce, he shall, after having received the opinion of each member of the Synod, proceed to pronounce sentence." What freer discussion Mr. Drummond could desire, than is here afforded by the Canon, I cannot possibly conceive. Nor could the Bishop pronounce any sentence, except such as would embody the opinion of the majority of the Synod. The idea of a judge, to whom assessors are legally appointed, framing his sentence in Opposition to their declared opinion, is utterly preposterous. Mr. Drummond had much better have left that argument aside. But he proceeds with another reason.--"Even as regards the opinion of the Presbyters of the Diocese of Edinburgh, your Resolutions, which you have published, make it very evident that the real merits of the question would have passed unnoticed, because you have arbitrarily adopted the view entertained by the Bishop." By what process of mental reasoning Mr. Drummond has arrived at the conclusion, that the Resolutions of the Clergy, and the Opinions [11/12] embodied therein, which ware neither expressed nor framed until after his resignation, could operate as a bar to his taking the appeal before that event happened, I cannot possibly conceive. "Why did you not take an appeal before resigning?" is the question. "Because I now see you would have decided against me," is the reply! Far more candid would have been the answer--"Because I was convinced then that you would have decided against me." Let Mr. Drummond veil it as he pleases, THAT was the true reason, and if so, that reason appears to me to be quite conclusive against Mr. Drummond. A man who thinks himself clearly and emphatically in the right, naturally supposes that other persons, as competent as himself to judge, will coincide with him in opinion. If he does not, be sure that there is at least a lurking suspicion in his mind that he may prove essentially in the wrong. But there are other reasons. "I had no power to require the matter to be judged in Diocesan Synod at all." True; but the Bishop himself repeatedly offered to bring the case before that Synod. In short, Mr. Drummond was determined, at all hazards, to prevent any solemn decision. He might, in terms of. Canon XXXV., have taken the case simpliciter to the Colleges of Bishops. This he admits; and let us bear his reasons for tot doing so. "It could hardly be expected that I should appeal this to a College consisting of six Bishops, one of. whom had already prejudged the case; other two of whom I knew to entertain sentiments regarding what I have referred to at Montrose, such as to leave little doubt what their opinion would be now, though I did not then know the probab1e connexion of these sentiments with the framing of Canon XXVIII.; and a fourth of whom, I had been informed, was heard to call my meetings sinful." Putting the Bishop of Edinburgh aside, we have here a personal objection taken to three Bishops. Two of them, Mr. Drummond would not accept of as judges, because they had expressed their disapprobation of his proceedings in a matter unconnected with the present, and which occurred five years ago. The third he will not accept, because, he has been informed, the Right Rev. Prelate "was heard to call his meetings sinful." This last reason will obviously not do. We cannot take that statement on the ipse dixit of Mr. Drummond. He must give the name his informant--he must specify time and place--he must, in short, prove his allegation, otherwise his objection is worth nothing. In such a matter as this, vague and random statement are useless, and worse. Observe, he does not even give the name of the Bishop who, he says, has thus prejudged him. Such an objection as this, so unsupported, would be worth [12/13] nothing in a court of law--it is worth nothing in a court of conscience. No man, throughout the whole of this unfortunate discussion, has used the phrases, prove this and prove that, oftener than Mr. Drummond. None, I venture to say, has on every point adduced such shallow testimony.
Now, then, to the other point, regarding the two Bishops mixed up with the Montrose story. The name of only one of these dignitaries, the Bishop of Brechin, is given. Who the other was, I know not, and Mr. Drummond has given me no clue to surmise. The Bishop of Brechin, it seems, complained of Mr. Drummond's erratic and unecclesiastic doings near Montrose, and an explanation was made by that gentleman to the late Venerable Primus, the Bishop of Edinburgh, who, we are told, did not rebuke him. Afterwards, as be alleges, the Bishop of Brechin, supported by the other nameless Prelate, took an active part in effecting the alteration in Canon XXVIII., for the breach of which Mr. Drummond was admonished; but, although the latter thinks that the coincidence at least is very remarkable, "he does not presume to say that the Canon, in its present form, was introduced to meet his case." To make his objection good, he must presume to say so. An inuendo is not a charge. If Mr. Drummond asserts that he took so serious a step as to decline the judgment of a Bishop on account of certain transactions, he must found his declinature upon a more substantial basis than mere inference. But, after all, the cases are not parallel. In the first place, taking his own statements, his proceedings at Montrose were confined to prayer and exposition with a few fishermen, not certainly of his Congregation, and not probably of his communion. Is this the same case with Prayer Meetings, announced publicly in Church to his own Congregation, from which strangers were not excluded? If it is not the same, his objection to the two Bishops--even supposing all that he has hinted were substantiated--is quite nugatory. I am not here to speak of the regularity or irregularity of these proceedings at Montrose. They may have been canonical or not. I am satisfied Mr. Drummond thought them quite regular, otherwise he would have fallen under the censure of Canon XXXVII., "Prohibiting the Clergy of one Diocese from interfering with the concerns of another." But the cases, I re t, are not parallel. The Bishop of Brechin may have thought the former ease an interference with the affairs of his Diocese, and complained accordingly. Can any inference be drawn from that as to his judgment in the present instance?
 Finally--Mr. Drummond would not take an appeal to the College of Bishops, because a condition of that appeal is, "that the appellant give a solemn promise to receive the sentence of a majority of the Bishops, canonically assembled, as final and conclusive." Mr. Drummond argues, that had he given such a promise, he must have remained in the Church, even had the decision been given against him. I do not see that. It would have been a bar certainly against his remaining and. continuing ministrations, had the Church declared these to be erroneous and uncanonical; but it could have been no bar to his resigning his charge, if he chose to do so. Just take this position. Suppose that the day after the College of Bishops in Scotland had declared Mr. Drummond in the wrong, and the Bishop of Edinburgh in the right, an offer had been made to the former of a lucrative living in England, would any reasonable being--would Mr. Drummond himself--maintain that the promise to receive the sentence of the Bishops in Scotland as "final and conclusive" upon this particular point, would operate to prevent him from accepting that cure, and, having accepted it, that he was any longer bound by the Scottish Canons? In other words, would the sentence of the Bishops have bound down Mr. Drummond nolens volens to abide for the whole term of his natural life in Scotland, and continue his ministrations in Trinity Chapel? And yet what does his argument amount to bat this? Really, at every stage, the weakness of' the case becomes more evident and distressing.
ONE EFFECT, however, the promise so given to the Bishops must have had, if there be any faith in promises at all;--it would have prevented Mr. Drummond from rearing up an independent and schismatical congregation in any Scottish Diocese. THERE lies the true objection to appeal. There, in that one unuttered argument, lies the whole pith and marrow of the others. Well Mr. Drummond knew that had he not submitted to the final sentence of that portion of the Church in which he was placed, he would have incurred an anathema, far deeper than any human authority could fulminate against him--"If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." How far Mr. Drummond has materially bettered his condition, by avoiding to hear the Church, when the Church was ready to speak, I leave for him and for his adherents to consider.
I do not, however, question his right as a Presbyter of the Church of England to resign, I only question the propriety of so doing. Mr. Drummond is considered, and is spoken of by many who, I am sure, have given nothing more than a [14/15] superficial notice to the question, as a very ill-used man. I trust I have convinced my readers that such is not the case. I hope I have shown, from the published documents themselves, that whereas, according to the Canons, the Bishop might have proceeded against him in a summary way, every indulgence, every leniency has been shown--that nothing could he more marked or unequivocally stated than the desire of the Bishop to submit his judgment to the authoritative decision of the Church--that he never once held out a threat of suspension against Mr. Drummond--and that his whole proceedings have been eminently characterized by the true Christian spirit of charity and forbearance. On the other hand, I think it must be equally clear that Mr. Drummond has persisted in maintaining his own opinion with almost unparelleled tenacity--that he has refused, under various pretexts, to submit either to the mediation or to the authority of the Church--that he has made a point of dispute between him and his immediate Superior the ground of resigning his charge, while the means of redress were open and within his reach--and that, by doing so, he has forfeited, for the Congregation placed beneath his charge, the spiritual advantages to be derived from that principle which he professed to maintain, provided the principle wag just. Recollect that now I am speaking solely of his declared ground for resignation. With his after reasons for not returning to the communion of the Church, and for rearing a schismatical congregation, I shall presently have to deal.
If I understand Mi; Drummond right (though upon this point, as on various others, his meaning is not very perspicuous), he puts in a claim, founded on the fact of his having been ordained in England, to exercise, while in the service of the Church in Scotland, certain spiritual ministrations, which, though permitted by the Canons of the English Church, are expressly prohibited by ours. Passing at present from the point of difference of Canon, on which I have a few words to say, such a claim is manifestly absurd. Every local Church must, it is quite obvious, be regulated by its own laws; and this is a doctrine universally maintained in the Church of England. As the two Churches are in full communion with each other, and as our Articles, Creed, and Liturgy are the same, we recognise English ordination as a valid and sufficient title to qualify the Presbyter who bears it for holding a pastoral charge in our Church. By accepting that charge, he becomes subject to the Bishop, and to the Scottish Canonical Law, which indeed he formally accepts. If, on examination, there is anything in that law to which he objects, he may go away;--but to hold that, because ordained in England, he is entitled to carry the Canons of that Church here, and to place [15/16] them in opposition to our own, is so singular an idea, that I wonder how a man of even common reflection would venture to propound it. It is just as if any one who may have left this country, become naturalized in America, and, of course, subject to its laws, should advance such a plea in an American suit, as this--"I was born in England, and although I am naturalized here, I am entitled to have the laws of England enforced in opposition to the American code." How would that plea be received? And yet this position of Mr. Drummond is substantially the same.
But take this as a case of conscience, and take the very principle that Mr. Drummond has been contending for--let us see how he would have dealt with it in England. Mr. Drummond admits that he is not a great Canonist. I readily believe him. I believe he is not aware that the Canons of the Church of England as unequivocally condemn the sort of ministrations he is contending for "on principle" as those of the Church in Scotland.
Canon LXXI. of the Church of England ordains as follows--"No Minister shall preach, or administer the holy communion, in any private house, except it be in times of necessity, when any being either so impotent as he cannot go to the Church, or very dangerously sick, are desirous to be partakers of the holy Sacrament, upon pain of suspension for the first offence, and excommunication for the second."
Canon LXXII. enacts, inter alia--"Neither shall any Minister, not licensed as aforesaid (with, the special licence and direction of the Bishop of the Diocese) presume to appoint or hold any meetings for sermons, commonly termed by some prophecies or exercises, in market-towns or other places, under the said pains." [See Note B.]
Mr. Drummond complains of the stringency of our Canons,--what does he say to these, ten times more stringent? He leaves our Church because her laws will not allow him to officiate publicly (and the Ordinary is clearly the judge of what are public and what are private ministrations) without the use of the Liturgy, and he falls back upon the Church of England, whose laws expressly forbid him to preach in private, or to hold meetings for sermons or exercises, otherwise than in the Church or a house consecrated for these purposes. With the merits of the English Canons I have nothing to do. There they stand, distinct and unequivocal. Mr. Drummond promised obedience to these at his ordination. If he chooses to violate them, it is his business and not mine.
Mr. Drummond will probably reply to this, by adducing [16/17] instances in which the English Bishops have given their sanction to such meetings; but that is the exception, not the rule. The Canon, indeed, allows the Bishop, if he shall see fit, to give his licence and direction to that effect; but how if he shall see fit to refuse it? Is Mr. Drummond prepared to say, that if such an event occurred in England, whereby he was so restricted, that he would give up orders in that Church? If he answers no; then let him favour us with his reason why he has acted upon a different rule in Scotland;--if he answers yes; then is he not clearly a contemner of the Canons, of Church authority, and of discipline--an Independent, in short, who, having entered the Church, will submit to no curb whatever? Vows of obedience, to those who entertain such lax views, are no stronger than bonds of straw--they are no better than fuel, at all times ready to be sacrificed at the altar of that darling idol, "private judgment." These are not harsh words. Either the discipline of a Church is to be maintained, or it is to be broken. If every one is to be allowed to follow out his own whims and crotchets in defiance of constituted authority and written law, there is an end of the Church. I am almost weary of this theme, for the proposition is so self-evident, that I cannot conceive how any person endowed with the ordinary faculty of reasoning can question it, or evade it, except, by side winds and high-flown phrases, which sound well but signify nothing.
Now, then, let ns resume the history of this transaction. Mr. Drummond resigned, solely on the ground that he was not allowed to hold his meetings without using the Liturgy, and he refused to take the authoritative opinion of the Church upon the question. Having resigned, a new set of actors appeared upon the stage, and I shall now proceed to take a very cursory glance at their proceedings.
While the Correspondence, from which I have already drawn largely, was going on between Mr. Drummond and the Bishop of Edinburgh, certain friends of the former were made privy to the transaction. According to the published statement, these friends, so soon as Mr. Drummond had announced his resignation, formed themselves into a committee, to consider what course they should follow. It is needless to say, that from the commencement, their minds were made up as to the shameful rigour with which the law had been enforced upon Mr. Drummond, and that they came at once to the conclusion that it involved "a grievous infringement of the Christian liberty." Their next step, "as lay members of the Episcopal Church, and sincerely attached to its principles," was to ascertain how they might set up a kind of congregation in [17/18] Edinburgh, out of communion with the Scottish Episcopal church, but holding of the Church of England. Pending this enquiry, they published an advertisement in the newspapers, inviting all those who wished to support Mr. Drummond in continuing his ministrations in Edinburgh "as a Clergyman of the Church of England," to send in their names and addresses. This advertisement having attracted the attention of the Clergy of the Diocese, that body met, and conveyed their opinion to Mr. Drummond in a series of resolutions, calling upon him to interfere and prevent the threatened schism, and setting forth, in decided language, the folly and the sinfulness of such a step.
These resolutions elicited "a Reply" from Mr. Drummond, in which he directly refused to interfere with the proceedings of the Committee, and stated that he was "not inclined to give himself any trouble, or manifest any uneasiness, about them or their doings." In other words, he had placed himself entirely in their hands. The remainder of this letter, being merely a recapitulation of the reasons for resigning his charge, upon all of which I have already commented, might here be passed over, were it not for one circumstance which challenges peculiar remark.
About a fortnight had elapsed between the resignation of Mr. Drummond and the date of his Reply. During that period he had ample time to consider the difficulty of his position. He was aware of the determination of his friends to set him up in a ministerial capacity in Edinburgh, and he had the advantage of perusing the various comments on the whole transaction which appeared from time to time in the Edinburgh newspapers, as also of learning the private opinions of those who took an interest in the dispute. So far as I can judge, the general impression (though, of course, with some exceptions) was against Mr. Drummond. The majority of the laity appeared to me to think that he had not stated sufficient grounds for his resignation. I may be wrong, but such is my conviction.
However, between the period of his resignation and the publication of his Reply, a new light seems to have flashed across Mr. Drummond. It is darkly hinted at in the following Note:--"While engaged in preparing the above for the press, my attention has been drawn by an English Clergyman to a fact, with which I was before unacquainted, connected with Canon XXI. It is of such a character, that I feel constrained to say (though in general terms, as a more particular notice of it would be irrelevant on the present occasion), if, on the one hand, I have been compelled to resign my connection with the [18/19] Scottish Episcopal Church for the reasons I have stated above,--I now find, in consequence of the fact to which I allude, that another and an insuperable barrier exists to the possibility of my ever returning to that communion, even under the supposition that all for which I have been lately contending were fully and freely granted." What that fact was, Mr. Drummond did not then disclose. I shall presently, however, have occasion to refer to it. In the meantime it may be instructive to notice, that, about the period, or very shortly after this "Reply" was published, a letter seems to have been addressed to the Rev. Daniel Bagot, Minister of St. James' Chapel in Edinburgh, by some of the members of his vestry, stating certain scruples to certain passages which occur in the "Scottish Communion Office," and requesting an explanation of these passages. The main objection was this--"That certain passages in it [each the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass." In answer to this letter or communication, Mr. Bagot wrote and published a most admirable reply, which, I may venture to say, would have done honour to the pen of the soundest divine and theologian which the Church has ever produced. I need scarcely add, that the charge was triumphantly refuted. That would have been easy--but not so easy, even for a practised writer, would have been the clear and lucid exposition with which it was accompanied. I have read Mr. Bagot's pamphlet, from which I have gathered the above facts. I have not the honour of his acquaintance, and have heard nothing more upon the subject. It consisted, however, with my personal knowledge, that at least two gentlemen, members of St. James' vestry, formed part of the Committee of Mr. Drummond's friends who were then agitating for a Chapel. At this time, be it remembered, Mr. Drummond had said nothing about the Scottish Communion service, and nothing explanatory of the Note which I have quoted above.
Meanwhile, "the Committee of Mr. Drummond's friends," to whose hands the Rev. Gentleman had implicitly and relyingly entrusted the guardianship of his future interests, went on advertising from day to day. "Eminent authorities," we were told, had been consulted in England, and "strong hopes" were thrown out that their opinion would be favourable. What these authorities were, the Committee did not deign to mention, any more than the queries that were propounded to them--and they have not told us up to the present hour. At last, however, an answer appears to have arrived, and the Committee published their statement.
Out of respect to the gentlemen whose names are attached [19/20] to that paper, I shall forbear from analyzing it. Indeed, it will not stand analysis. Not that there is anything outrageous in the document--on the contrary, it is innocent enough; but the process of reasoning maintained throughout is so entirely novel, that it is worth perusing, if only as a curiosity in its kind. The result is thus announced:--"They state that they have now ascertained satisfactorily, and beyond doubt, that Mr. Drummond, in accepting their invitation, will in no respect compromise his obligations to the Church, of which he is a Presbyter; and that they, in forming themselves into a Congregation under his charge, will not infringe the discipline of the Church of England, but will be acting in entire conformity with its principles as applicable to the peculiar circumstances of the case."
Upon this announcement, and without production of the authorities, the adherents of Mr. Drummond gathered themselves together, and, on Sunday the 20th of November, that gentleman officiated for the first time in his new capacity.
Immediately thereafter he published his pamphlet, entitled "Reasons for withdrawing from the Scottish Episcopal Church, and for accepting an Invitation to continue his Ministrations in Edinburgh as a Clergyman of the Church of England. With a full Reply to the Charge of Schism." We must take this pamphlet, along with the Statement of the Committee, as containing the whole of their case for separation and schism. Let us, then, consider that point.
The resignation of Mr. Drummond, if an evil, was comparatively limited in its effects. Voluntarily he resigned his cure; and the Congregation of Trinity Chapel lost thereby the services of a very zealous, if not very judicious Minister. Still, however, as far as regarded them, it is to be hoped that the loss might in some degree have been compensated. They might not, indeed, have obtained a pastor ready at all times to proclaim aloud in the market-place the peculiar blessings attendant upon his ministry, and the wonderful and almost miraculous result with which that ministry bad been blessed; bat it was possible at least that the successor of Mr. Drummond might have been a man of pure life and of unaffected piety. He might have placed a proper and wholesome value upon the ordinances and observances of the Church. He possibly might not have set himself in opposition to the constituted authorities of his Church. He might have contented himself with ministering to the spiritual wants of his Congregation, without presumptuously and publicly challenging the acts of men above him in ecclesiastical station, and infinitely his superiors both in experience and in learning. [20/21] Such a man might have been found to minister to the Congregation of Trinity Chapel, and such a man doubtless will be found. For Mr. Drummond, he might have gone to England, sought out another sphere of usefulness, and preached in public and in private, untouched by the enactments of the English Canon LXXII., provided always he could find a Bishop lenient enough to absolve him from its rules. But the schism is a greater evil.
Both Mr. Drummond and his erudite Committee entertain views on the subject of schism, which have at least the merit of being new. The views of the Committee are as follows:--"Schism, like every other sin, has its seat in the heart of man, and is exhibited in his want of Christian charity and spiritual union, not in the erroneous form of his Church polity, nor even in his errors of doctrine." I should really like to come at the meaning of this extraordinary sentence. Is it this,--No matter what your Church, however vicious its principles--no matter what your doctrine, however erroneous--you are no schismatic, provided you keep to Christian charity and spiritual union? These gentlemen, then, all the while professing themselves "lay members of the Episcopal Church, and sincerely attached to its principles," maintain that there is no such thing as a Church principle at all. Romanists, according to them, are no schismatics--neither are Unitarians--neither any of the hundred heretical sects. Out of communion or in communion, it is all the same. Be your doctrine what it may, or your professing Church what it may, you cannot be a schismatic so long as you keep what they call "Christian charity and spiritual union." An overt act is nothing; in their eyes the visible Church is annihilated; difference of creed is no distinction,--and yet these gentlemen "are sincerely attached to the principles of the Episcopal Church." Why, then, it may be asked, did they give themselves the trouble to ascertain whether Mr. Drummond cou1d carry on his ministrations in Edinburgh as a clergyman of the Church of England? What need, under such a glorious latitude of freedom as they profess, to stickle upon points of form, or even to require orders at all? Of all the definitions that were ever given of schism since the Church was a Church, this is the most original and the most convenient.
Mr. Drummond's opinion upon this point is of course entitled to more authority. Let us see how he disposes of it. In the first place, he has recourse to the original Greek, and makes a distinction between the same word, as applied to the division or rent of outward objects, and the division or schism in the body of the Church. The force or application of that [21/22] distinction, I confess, after a good deal of study in order to catch its meaning, I do not distinctly understand. That the words divide, rend, and separate, mean one and the same thing, and that the verb expresses them in the Greek language, is acknowledged; and it needed no greater exhibition of learning than any school-boy possesses to establish the fact. But what is Mr. Drummond's deduction from this? "Clearly this," says he, "that it is a sin of the heart, and of the mind!"
If a man will reason logically, and explain distinctly, so that the eye of common sense may at once understand his meaning, I, although no divine, will, upon a subject of this kind, failing abler auxiliaries, attempt to meet him. But if, on the contrary, after laying down certain premises, which of themselves appear bare and commonplace enough, he at once deserts them, and instead of building up a tangible superstructure, raises a kind of incomprehensible edifice out of the very fog and exhalation of mysticism, I give up the attempt in despair. But I do beg any one of Mr. Drummond's adherents to take up his "Reasons," and if, after a diligent perusal, he shall be able conscientiously to say that he can explain and illustrate the Rev. Gentleman's meaning, as contained in his argument from the fifteenth to the twentieth page inclusive, I shall account him of more value than the deepest commentator upon the Talmud. It is not for me, a simple layman, to be the expositor of a point like this; but if I have read the Scriptures rightly, there is nothing more uniformly insisted upon, especially in the Epistles, than the preservation of the unity of the Church, and no sin more fearfully denounced than that of schism. St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, says--"I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine ye have received, and avoid them." A very pregnant text, indeed, in the present instance. The First Epistle to the Corinthians breathes the soul of unity. St. Peter spares not those who "despise government; presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not. railing accusation against them before the LORD." St. John and St. Jude are, if possible, more explicit; but as my duty is to listen to the teaching of the Church and not to expound, I shall not pursue this subject any further.
Very important, however, it is, for those who have either, through ignorance joined the new Congregation, or have been led to join it through misrepresentation--or who may be wavering at present in their allegiance to the Church, tempted by others who have already taken the plunge, and blinded, it [22/23] may be, by the specious gloss which sophistry, under the mask of evangelism, has spread over the whole transaction, to know on what footing the separatists will stand as regards the Church of England. In Scotland we labour under this great disadvantage, arising from the political relations of our Church, that the pure catholic doctrine of unity has not been so widely disseminated as it ought to be. The very fact of our using the Liturgy of the Church of England, and our familiarity with her rubric, has somehow brought the laity to consider themselves rather a portion of that Church, than as the true, national, and independent branch, in this realm of Scotland, of the great Catholic body. Even our full and unrestricted communion with the Church of England, (an invaluable boon and privilege) has gone far to confirm this idea; and therefore it is, I conceive, that Mr. Drummond, by clothing himself with the imposing title of "Clergyman of the Church of England," has been enabled to lead many astray into a secession, who would have shuddered at the idea of placing themselves beyond the pale of the Catholic Church. And yet such is, indeed, their present unfortunate position, as I shall immediately proceed to show. The unity of the true Church cannot be broken now any more than in the days of the Apostles. Miserably rent as the Christian world has been by heresies, schisms, and dissensions, those Churches which have adhered firmly to the true faith, and which, according to St. Paul, have committed to faithful men for teaching the things that they have heard among many witnesses, have preserved their unity so well, that no man can separate from one without separating from them all. The following proposition I lay down and undertake to prove:--That no one can separate from the Scottish Episcopal communion, and tear up a congregation in opposition to it, without separating from the communion of the Church of England likewise.
Perhaps the most ancient and understood rule of the Universal Church is this--That no Bishop has jurisdiction beyond his own diocese. To a country in which there exists no Church, whether voluntary or established, in full communion with their own, any National Church may ordain Bishops. Where such Church and communion does exist, no National Church has any such power. I shall, of course, be encountered at the outset by this objection, which indeed has been already started by the Committee, that a large portion of the Episcopalians of this place were originally members of the Established Church of England. The fact is quite true, and the reasons are as follows:--During the reigns of Charles II. and James VII., the Scottish Episcopal Church was the [23/24] National Establishment. After the accession of William III. of Orange, Presbytery in this kingdom passed into the Establishment, and the Bishops, with such of the Clergy as adhered to them, formed themselves into a separate body, and so constituted the Church. A kind of dubious protection was extended to them during the reigns of Queen Anne and George I.; but from the time they ceased to be the establishment, there was no recognised communion between the Church of England and the Church in Scotland. The law of the land, indeed, interfered to prevent such a communion, for the Bishops, with the whole of the Clergy in Scotland, were adherents of the exiled family of Stuart, and as such would not take the oaths of conformity, or pray for the Hanoverian dynasty. Had they been more pliant, or less scrupulous, the position of the Church at the present day would probably have been more exalted. In consequence of the troubles of 1745, an act of the British Parliament was passed, forbidding any one, under the severest penalties, to officiate as the pastor of an Episcopal congregation in Scotland, unless he held letters of orders from an English or Irish Bishop. Hence, for the very sake of the existence of the Church, arose the necessity of adopting, not foreign jurisdiction, but foreign licence. This state of things existed until the year 1792, when all the civil penalties were removed, and from that time no new letters of orders have been granted or could be granted by English or Irish Bishops. Gradually, the congregations which held under these old letters merged, one by one, into the bosom of the Scottish Episcopal Church, until, with two exceptions, all the Clergy in Scotland submitted themselves to the rule of the Scottish Bishops. The Act of Parliament which removed the civil penalties still rendered it illegal for any Clergyman, with Scottish orders only, to officiate in an English Church; but even this restriction was removed by an act passed in the reign of her present Majesty. The Episcopal authority of the Scottish Bishops is fully recognised by the Church of England, and any attempt on the part of that body to encroach upon their spiritual jurisdiction would be contrary to the spirit, not only of ecclesiastical but of civil law. The two Churches are, in short, in full communion.
Now, then, I would beg to draw the attention of those gentlemen who "profess their sincere attachment to the principles of the Episcopal Church," to the following axiom, which is as old as the Church itself, and is indeed the very basis of all Episcopal principle: "Nullus Episcopus, nulla Ecclesia"--there can be no Church without a Bishop. The test, therefore, by which you may know a true officiating child of [24/25] the Church from an intruding schismatic, is quite simple. "Who is the Bishop to whom you are responsible?" Let us ask that question to-day of Mr. Drummond, and hear the reply. That he has English orders, is no answer. He, a Presbyter, without authority, is obtruding himself where the Bishop who ordained him dare not come. If a Presbyter, for example, who had obtained his orders from the Bishop of Chester, and afterwards held a cure in the diocese of London, were to resign that cure, would he, under any circumstances, be entitled to continue his ministrations in London, under pretext of his first orders, and in defiance of the ecclesiastical authority of the place? Of course he would not. Then wherein do the cases differ, except in this, that in the last case the offending Presbyter would immediately be punished by law, in the other he escapes without penalty? But that escape, remember, does not purge the ecclesiastical offence. So long as the Church of England recognises the Episcopal orders of the Church in Scotland so long as fall communion exists between them, it follows clearly that whoever departs from the one must likewise dissent from the other. Mr. Drummond's strongest position is this--"I am out of jurisdiction." And no doubt he is so. By renouncing the only Episcopal authority in Scotland, which his own Mother Church recognises, he has freed himself from every obligation. Let him teach what heresies he pleases while resident here, the Church of England cannot interfere, but I venture to say he will find it a very different matter should he attempt hereafter to rejoin her communion. At present he is out of it. Is Mr. Drummond a greater authority than the Church of England--aye or no? If not, he has taken upon himself, as a single member of that Church, to break the communion recognised by the whole Body, and in doing so, must incur the charge of great presumption, if not of serious ecclesiastical guilt. One thing is clear. The Church of England cannot recognise two opposing bodies of severed communion in the same place. Either she must side with the Bishop, or she must side with the recusant Presbyter. Her communion with the Church remains unbroken--when did her declared communion begin with the separatist Mr. Drummond? [See Note C.]
It is not likely that the Church of England will hold a General Convocation to try this offence of Mr. Drummond. In fact, in the eye of the Church, he is already beyond its pale, as officiating without the licence of a Bishop. Just as well might any of the Presbyterian Ministers who officiate in London separate himself from the Presbytery which the [25/26] General Assembly acknowledges and supports, and upon the plea of his original Scottish orders, rear up an Independent congregation in connexion with the Kirk. The immediate answer, of course, would be--"Who gave you authority to separate yourself from the body which we recognise in England? It is the Presbytery which we recognise, and not you, and in separating yourself from them, you have broken the communion with us. Our test of communion with those who reside beyond the bounds of our jurisdiction is this--Do you belong to the body which we have already recognised abroad? If not, you are none of us. We told you to be subject to the Presbytery, we gave you no authority to found a Church yourself, and, despite of your Scottish orders, we deny and repudiate your communion." Who can doubt that such would be the language of the Genera) Assembly?--and who can doubt that, caeteris paribus, the situation of parties is the same?
Mr. Drummond seems to feel that such is the true position of matters, for he does not presume much upon the chance of obtaining the aid of a Bishop in administering the rite of confirmation to his catechumens. He does indeed express a hope that, once in the three or four years, he may obtain the aid of an English Bishop, or a dignitary of the American Church, for this important purpose. With regard to the English Church, I think I may venture to prophesy that he will obtain no countenance from that quarter. With regard to the American Church, the probabilities are even more against him in the first place, He has not even the plea of American orders to induce a Bishop of that country to interfere in the concerns of a foreign diocese; in the second place, With what grace could the scrupulous Mr. Drummond demand such a boon from the Bishop of a Church which teaches the same obnoxious doctrines that he has now discovered in the Scottish Communion Office?
A man who has broken one rule of the Church will not hesitate to break many. Accordingly, he has announced his intention, failing the eleemosynary aid of such Bishops, to dispense with confirmation altogether. This is rare attachment to the principles of the Church of England! He likewise indicates an opinion that confirmation in cases of necessity may he given by a Presbyter, failing the Bishop; and further, that the same rule may be extended to the granting of holy orders. Is this a feeler thrown out on purpose to try how far the new congregation of separatists are inclined to go? If the schism spreads, new Ministers must be provided r. and, armed with such powers as Mr. Drummond claims for the Presbyter, he can easily supply them with an [26/27] extemporaneous Clergy, without troubling the Church of England at all--nay, who shall say that if confirmation and ordination are not denied to a Presbyter, consecration maybe righteously withheld? Follow out this train of reasoning a very little way further than he has ventured to do, and we may yet see the Rev. Mr. Drummond self-installed as the first Bishop in a Church of his own creating! All this is a striking illustration of the proverb, that a man cannot abandon one true principle, without sacrificing many more. [See Note D.]
So much for the connexion of the new schismatic body with the Church of England--and here I might pause, were it not for one circumstance which demands some observation. I have already noticed that in the "Reply" published after his resignation, Mr. Drummond enigmatically alluded to a fact connected with Canon XVI. "with which he was before unacquainted," but which constituted "an insuperable barrier" to the possibility of his return, to the Scottish Communion. I have likewise alluded to the correspondence which took place between the members of the vestry of St. James' Chapel and the Rev. Mr. Bagot, and the pamphlet published by the latter. After that pamphlet appeared, Mr. Drummond gave forth to the public his "Reasons for withdrawing," in which I find the mystery of his note explained. In fact, he charges the Church directly with propounding "the naked doctrine of Transubstantiation, in language absolutely the same as that employed in the Canon of the Roman Mass."
Before looking at all into the point here stated, let us understand what Mr. Drummond meant by the expression in his note, "a fact with which I was before unacquainted." This will admit of two interpretations: either that Mr. Drummond was not previously aware that any such doctrine was taught in the Scottish Communion Office; or that, being aware of it, he was not cognisant of the change effected by the Synod of 1838, when the Office, which previously had been acknowledged as the "recognised service" of the Church, and used at the consecration of Bishops, was declared of primary authority, and directed to be also used at the opening of all General Synods.
Now, if Mr Drummond means to say, that until after his resignation, he was not aware of the terms of the Communion Office, I shall first of all remark that it is very--very extraordinary, that he should have remained for ten years (the term of his connexion with the Church in Scotland) in total ignorance of the recognised service. But even were this the case, does it not look something strange, that in his peculiar [27/28] circumstances he should apply himself hot-handed to the task, and in the space of little more than a fortnight, decide authoritatively upon a subject of such deep interest and moment. This question, if rightly handled, is not a mere matter of difference between the service of the Church of England and the service of the Church here. It involves a patient and careful examination of all the Liturgies from the days of the Apostles downwards, if it is to he treated with reverence, with solemnity, and with justice. St. Mark and St. James are surely entitled to some respect in the Christian Church. Their Liturgies contain the same expressions that I understand are now objected to in the Scottish service, and so does the Clementine Liturgy, as it stands in the Book of the Apostolical Constitutions. The dogma of Transubstantiation was never heard of until the eighth century, when it was started in the Romish Church, while the Liturgies I have above alluded to date from the foundation of the Church itself. Surely these are entitled to some little consideration, even at the hands of Mr Drummond,--not that I think he would hesitate to condemn the practice of St. Mark, or of St. James, or of any other Apostle, or to pronounce them rank. Papists on the mere score of his own infallibility,--but the majority of mankind would probably require some investigation of that sort, before they declared, on Mr. Drummond's authority, that the practice of the Universal Church from the beginning was, according to the articles of our religion, both superstitious and repugnant to Scripture. I cannot think, therefore, that Mr. Drummond has devoted his time merely from the date of his resignation to the consideration of the subject, indeed, as he states in a note appended to his Reasons; "that a long and careful examination has led him to take a to tally different view from that entertained by Mr. Bagot," I am led to conclude that the subject has long occupied his thoughts.
If it be so, by his own confession, he has been acting in the service of a Church whose doctrines he considered idolatrous. He has done so without protest, without remonstrance, without warning, flow long he might have continued to do so, had it not been for the result of his correspondence on a totally different subject, with the Bishop, it is, of course, impossible for me to say. No matter whether we interpret the "fact with which he was previously unacquainted" in its second sense or no, whether he meant thereby to allude merely to the change of Canon, that could not alter one iota of his position. He knew the service then, and he knew it to be idolatrous, and he knew it to be "the recognised service" of the Church, and yet he continued in it! The change of the Canon makes no difference, because the service was held of "primary authority" before. Canon XXI. only continues it as [28/29] such; and as for its being used at the opening of General Synods, this can only be a personal objection competent to Mr. Drummond, which it was time enough to have taken when ever he found himself in. the very improbable position of a member. If not a personal objection, it was a general one applicable to the service, which he ought to have stated so soon as he had made up his mind upon the subject.
It is not for me to defend the Scottish Communion Office. It has already found a far more able defender; and the soundness of its doctrines and its Catholic purity have long ago received the testimony of the ablest divines and dignitaries of the Church of England. I cannot, however, forbear to point out the manner in which Mr. Drummond conducts his arguments, and the violence with which he persists in reiterating his charge. He begins thus:...... "You teach Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass," He is met by a flat denial, a challenge to produce an instance of any such teaching, and a reference to the Articles of our Religion (the same with those of the Church of England), in which these doctrines are formally condemned. "Whatever you may teach," says Mr. Drummond, "that is the sense in which I understand the words of the Office." The reply is very simple--"Well, then, if you understand them in that sense, we do not." Mr. Drummond can produce no single instance where any such doctrine as the Romish Mass has been taught in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Her articles are against it; her teaching is against it; her exposition is against it. Yet in spite of her denial, Mr. Drummond will persist in the charge. He is determined, in spite of all denial, to fix the charge against us. We must believe in Roman Transubstantiation, in order that Mr. Drummond may have an excuse for fostering his particular schism.
It is always a suspicions circumstance, when we find a man who, either from wilfulness, or obstinacy or any other cause, has chosen to abandon his connection with a public body, turn round upon the instant, and commence a furious attack upon that body on grounds totally different from those which dictated his resignation. It reminds us of a servant dismissed for some fault by his master, who is no sooner out of the house than he commences to break the windows. Doubtless there must be some such impulse in human nature; but it might be well (at all events it would look well) not to give way to it. Perhaps the windows ought to be broken; but the stones would surely come with better grace from another hand. There are other matters, too, connected with this transaction, which are not yet explained. The new light which seems to have dawned at that particular moment on the minds of third [29/30] parties, with regard to the nature of the Scottish Communion Office, is singular, especially when we remark the time. Perhaps future events may give us more insight than we at present possess.
And here I shall take leave of the subject. I am not vain enough to suppose that any thing contained in these pages will carry conviction to the minds of such persons as have already committed themselves to the separatist congregation. Wherever there is no Church principle to work upon, any exposition of the kind must be fruitless. But where there does exist such principle, however faint, I am not without hope that a true statement of the position in which they stand may lead right-thinking persons to reconsider their first opinion, and judge for themselves whether they have adopted the proper path. At all events, it is well that the unthinking should be warned. A Spirit hostile to established truth--to Ecclesiastical authority--to the most holy observances of the Church, in defence of which her martyrs have shed their blood, is now abroad. It comes under a specious mask, perhaps the most seductive of any; for it appeals exclusively to private judgment. The testimony of all those who have gone before us to their rest, that Spirit derides and despises. Gradually, but perseveringly, it attempts to destroy and obliterate every ancient landmark of the faith, and against the Angel of the Church it strives to wrest the doctrine of the very Scripture which was given to that Angel to guard. Gradually, but not less surely, it is paving the way for the reign of utter infidelity. Every stone removed from our bulwark is added to its encroaching path, and already with exultation it contemplates this last breach in our venerable Catholic Church, and will spare neither effort nor ingenuity to make it wider still.
But I do not fear the result. Though some may fall away, many will remain steadfast. In proportion as that Spirit has exercised its pernicious influence, power and energy and determination have been developed in those who are willing and able to resist it. The armoury of the Church has given forth weapons to hands that are ready to wield them. In the Church there can be no division, though from the Church a lamentable separation has occurred. A new sect, neither Episcopal nor Presbyterian, but borrowing the name of the one, and following the practice of the other, has arisen amongst us. It will be supported by wealth--by misdirected enthusiasm--by all the arguments which appeal directly to popular prejudice and error. Its history will be marked with interest by men of all professions--its growth or its decline will be noted as a strange phenomenon of the times; but the Church rejects it--henceforth it is no portion of herself. It is the DRUMMOND SCHISM.
NOTE A, p. 4.
As Mr. Drummond has laid great weight upon the permission given to him by the late Venerable Primus, the Bishop of Edinburgh, to hold meetings apart from his Church, it may be worth while to enquire what that permission was. The following facts may be relied upon as correct, and if contradicted they can be proved. When Mr. Drummond was Minister of St. Paul's Chapel, in Carrubber's Close, he applied to the late Bishop to be allowed to meet some of the young persons of his Congregation in a separate room. The reason for this application was stated to be the inconvenient situation of the Chapel. Unfortunately as the late occurrences testify, this permission was given, but only for the purposes and to the extent indicated by Mr. Drummond in his application. For several years the attendance upon his expositions was confined to a small number of young persons, accompanied occasionally by some of their older friends. After Mr. Drummond became joint-Minister of Trinity Chapel, the character of his audience underwent a remarkable change. The Hall wherein he delivered his expositions is calculated to contain about two hundred persons, and it was usually crowded; indeed Mr. Drummond tells us that sometimes fifty or sixty persons have gone away from the door unable to gain admittance. Of the two hundred within, I have the strongest assurance from those who have remarked the fact, there were never more than from thirty to forty individuals belonging to the Congregation of Trinity Chapel. Few of the remaining number were even Episcopalians; the majority were Presbyterians. Thus the permission of the Bishop to assemble a few young persons of his Congregation, upon the ground that the situation of his former Chapel was inconvenient, was wrested by Mr. Drummond into a permission to hold a conventicle of adults, most of them beyond the pale of his own communion, and that after he had obtained a new and commodious place of worship.
It is NOT the case that the late Bishop approved of these proceedings. On the contrary, I have the most positive assurance of many who knew him well, that he deeply lamented his sanction, which had thus been abused, and expressed his intention of putting down these meetings. The weak health and advanced age of the late eminent Prelate, whose memory will be long revered and cherished in the Church, are the true reasons why he did not interfere.
On the subject of private meetings the following facts are instructive: The room in Clyde Street was hired by Mr. Drummond; but it was paid for, partly by a subscription from those who attended, and partly by voluntary contributions to a box which was placed at the door. Above that box stood the following notice--"ANY SURPLUS TO BE GIVEN TO THE POOR." Any surplus above what? Surely above paying for the room.
Such were Mr. Drummond's private and "larger family" Meetings!
NOTE B, p. 16.
These Canons of the Church of England are in full force. In some Dioceses private social Prayer Meetings are allowed, with a few only of the congregation collected at a time. In others, and I may instance Peterborough and Lincoln, even these are prohibited. IN ALL, no public meeting, or meeting such as Mr. Drummond's, composed chiefly of [31/32] members of other Congregations, and persons belonging to another Communion, would be, or could be permitted. Even if the Bishop of the Diocese neglected to stop these Meetings, the statute law of the land would interfere to put them down. If an English Clergyman were to hire a public room in London for expositions or exercises, where any person was at liberty to enter, he would be guilty not only of an ecclesiastical, but of a civil offence.
NOTE C, p. 25.
No parallel can be drawn between the case of the Scottish Bishops and an English Bishop resident, for example, at Paris. The Church of England is not in communion with the National Church of France; and therefore it is that she provides for the spiritual wants of her children who may be resident there. The English Bishop at Paris has no territorial jurisdiction; but the Scottish Bishops have, and it is recognised not only by the Church of England, but by Act of Parliament. The Communion of the Churches, however, is the grand and effectual test.
NOTE D, p. 27.
Mr. Drummond says that he is justified in dispensing with Confirmation. That is a very questionable point. He founds upon the rubrical words at the end of the Order for Confirmation, which are as follows:--"And there shall be none admitted to the Holy Communion, until auth time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed." Thereby the Church does not absolutely exclude the unconfirmed from participation of the Holy Mysteries, wisely making provision for the case of those who cannot by any possibility obtain the privilege of the rite. To a dying person, for example, although unconfirmed, the Sacrament may be lawfully administered. But how, if you refuse a Bishop in communion with your Church (supposing the Drummond separatists to belong to the Church of England), when that Bishop is holding his general confirmation? Are the persons, in that case, ready and desirous to be confirmed?
Mr. Drummond, I presume, will still continue to baptize. I should like to know whether, in doing so, he will follow the directions of the Church of England, which enjoin him to address the sponsors thus--"Ye are to take care that this child be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him, so soon as he can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, in the vulgar tongue, and be farther instructed in the Church-Catechism set forth for that purpose." If he does not use these words, he will break the express order of the Church--if he does use them, to what Bishop does he allude?
As to a Presbyter confirming or ordaining in case of necessity, Mr. Drummond knows quite as well as I do, that such a doctrine is held to be most heterodox and dangerous. But suppose that it were not, the utmost length, to which those who maintained it ever carried their principle, was, that a Presbyter might do so by special commission from his absent Bishop, thereby acting as his proxy, or where there did exist no Bishop at all. Neither of these cases apply here. Mr. Drummond passes hastily over this delicate ground--and not without reason. I would recommend him, if he entertains any lingering hope of hereafter reconciling himself with the Church of England, to beware of loudly maintaining principles so opposite to her practice and constitution.