Montagu--Laud as a theologian--Chillingworth--Joseph Hall--Jeremy Taylor--Cosin--Bramhall--Hammond--Brian Walton and his colleagues--John Lightfoot--Beveridge--Thorndike--Stillingfleet.
NOTHING could have been more unfortunate for the interests of the Church of England in the seventeenth century than the association of many of its leading divines with those theories of political government which took shape in the crude assertion of "the divine right of kings" and of the doctrine of "passive obedience." All this was in truth a retrograde movement from the political doctrines of the greater mediaeval Schoolmen and from the moderate teaching of Hooker. It seemed in the popular view to connect the Church with a policy that was arbitrary and tyrannical. In its extreme form it alienated thousands of sober-minded and sensible men. It threw many who would otherwise have been loyal churchmen into the arms of the Puritan party. It rendered men suspicious and hostile towards the teaching of those who claimed divine authority for action that was harsh and oppressive, if not unconstitutional.
By many ecclesiastics the divine right of tithes was urged together with the divine right of the hereditary Monarchy. When Selden [The History of Tithes, 1618] with incomparable learning, proceeding cautiously on purely historical evidence, denied that tithes were exacted in the early Christian Church, Richard Montagu (1578-1641), afterwards Bishop of Norwich, entered the lists on behalf of the clergy. [Diatribe on the first part of Selden's History of Tithes, 1621.] I will not lead you into this outworn controversy: it must suffice to say that this work first called attention to the abilities of a very able controversialist whose name afterwards came to figure largely in the politics of the time.
The action of Parliament with respect to Montagu's two later treatises--Of Invocation of Saints (1624) and Appello Caesarem (1625)--is part of the civil history of England. But the contents of the volumes themselves are little known. Nor has Montagu received the consideration which these and, more especially, his other learned labours deserve. He had assisted Sir H. Saville in the production of his great (Eton) edition of St. Chrysostom (1610-1613), one of the glories of the learning of the period, and had himself edited the Greek text of the Two Invectives of St. Gregory Nazianzen against Julian (1610). His Analecta Ecclesiasticarum Exercitationum (1622), written with an eye to the great work of Baronius, proved him to be well versed in the early history of the Church. [At a later period, though an active and faithful bishop, he found time to publish other historical works showing-much research and considerable critical power.] But from these writings one could not have inferred his powers as a keen, animated, and witty, controversialist, addressing himself to the popular ear.
Some Roman priests, who had been attempting to proselytize among the "weaker sex" in his parish (Stamford Rivers in Essex), put out a pamphlet, entitled A new Gag for an old Gospel, in which they attributed to the Church of England a large number of doctrinal propositions which, though they were in truth the opinions of many individuals, had never been authorized by the Church. Among these propositions were several Calvinistic and Sabbatarian pronouncements. Montagu replied by showing that such opinions were not the doctrines of the Church's authentic formularies. [A gagg for the new Gospel? No, a new gagg for an old goose, 1624.] In the judgment of the ablest historian who has dealt with this period, Montagu's reply was in its matter "a temperate exposition of the reasons which were leading an increasing body of scholars to reject the doctrines of Rome and of Geneva alike." [S. R. Gardiner, The Duke of Buckingham, etc., i. 206.] Montagu puts the matter well in his Appello Caesarem, published the following year (1625). He declares that he had replied "with a firm purpose to leave all private opinions ... unto their own authors or abettors, either to stand or fall of themselves; and not to suffer the Church of England to be charged with the maintenance of any doctrine which was none of her own, publicly and universally resolved on." Alluding to the law in force at the time for the maintenance of foundling children, he says that the Puritans had supposed, "as it would seem, that in this case we were all liable to the Statute, that is, bound to keep and foster their conceits as our own doctrines, because they have cast them upon us and upon our Church, like bastards upon the parish where they were born." (Epistle Dedicatory)
The action here attributed to the Puritans was much like attempts on the part of some persons in our own day to father upon the Church of England certain doctrinal enfants trouvés whose complexion and features, with the rags in which they are wrapped, strongly suggest an Italian parentage. Our appeal, as was Montagu's, is to the authoritative formularies of the Church--the Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer. Montagu, in his Appello Caesarem, examines the Articles and the Prayer-book, and very effectively makes good his position that they do not teach, but rather contravene the doctrine of God's "irrespective decree" and its Calvinistic corollaries; and, while speaking with respect of the Synod of Dort, he makes clear that its determinations did not touch the members of the Church of England. [He anticipates in some measure Archbishop Laurence's Bampton Lectures.]
When Montagu replies to the charge of Romanizing he has a more difficult task, for though generally making a good defence, he had himself occasionally used indiscreet language, capable of being readily misunderstood. [For example, his employment of the word "trans-elementation" applied to the change in the Eucharist. (Appello Caesarem, p. 292.)] And, as is well known, his book the Appello Caesarem was eventually called in by order of the King. But how far Montagu is removed from sympathy with Popery (as distinguished from certain doctrinal positions generally though incorrectly associated in men's minds with the Roman Church) may be gathered from all his principal works. For the purpose in hand it is merely a scholastic question whether the Pope is the Antichrist, or only an Antichrist, as Montagu asserts. ["I will not deny that the Pope is an Antichrist. I do not deny it: I do believe it." Appello Caesarem (p. 144). He refers to St. John's statement, "now are many Antichrists."] Montagu may, I think, be taken among theologians of distinction as touching the high-water mark of the movement which in the earlier half of the seventeenth century sought to minimize the doctrinal differences between the Anglican and the Roman Communions. The influences at Court at the time ran in that direction; and an ambitious man would be under considerable temptations to adopt that line. But it is not here suggested that Montagu's convictions were not genuine.
During the later years of the reign of James I. and the early years of that of Charles, the Church of Rome and its claims were kept much in the thoughts of Englishmen. James, despite his early controversial treatises, was strongly suspected of Romeward leanings. The proposed "Spanish match" for the prince, and his subsequent marriage to Henrietta Maria, were taken as signs. And the known activity of Romish proselytizers among the nobility, followed by several fashionable conversions, increased the anxieties of English churchmen. The Jesuit Percy (better known by his assumed name of Fisher), himself a convert to Rome, and with all a convert's zeal, had influenced, among others, the Countess of Buckingham, mother of George Villiers, the King's favourite. It was arranged that a disputation, in the presence of this lady, or, as it was called, a "conference," should be held (May 1622), between Fisher and some Anglican theologians. Francis White, afterwards Bishop of Ely, has left an account of the earlier stages of the conference; but, certain important questions having been left unhandled, a third day of debate was appointed, on which occasion the Anglican champion was William Laud (1573-1645), at that time Bishop of St. Davids. The King, who still heartily enjoyed a controversial encounter, and several courtiers of rank were present. The result, with some enlargements, were afterwards given to the world by Laud.
Laud's subsequent position as an ecclesiastical statesman and the leading mind in ordering and regulating, whether for good or ill, the policy and administration of the Church of England in troublous times, has tended to obscure his place as a theologian and a man of learning. He had been a diligent student of the Roman controversy, as is borne witness to by his copious Latin marginalia to Bellarmine's Disputationes. [The volumes are now in Archbishop Marsh's Library in Dublin. The notes were transcribed for the A.C.L. edition of Laud's works.] Laud was armed and ready for the battle. He tells us that he had not "the full time of four-and-twenty hours to bethink himself," for the command of the King had been sudden; but the labours of the patient student and thinker of earlier days now served him in good stead.
The Conference with Fisher is marked throughout by a reasonableness and masculine good sense which might not be expected by those who know Laud only through the partisan pages of certain popular historians. [At length students of the history of England have in Mr. S. R. Gardiner's great work a truly scholarly and (as far perhaps as is possible in writing the story of such troublous times) impartial account of the reigns of James and Charles. Mr. Gardiner makes clear that Laud, with all his rigour as to obedience to Church rule, was in true sympathy with large doctrinal latitude.] Laud was learned, but he was no mere "bookman," to use a word of his own; and in this controversy he does not suffer from being a man of the world, accustomed to observe, to consider, and to judge the facts of life and history. But, it seems to me, the chief interest that now attaches to the Conference, is the light that it throws on the general attitude of mind, and particular beliefs, of the most prominent high-churchman of his day. No one was ever a more staunch and loyal son of the Church of England. No one ever saw more clearly the hopeless impossibility of approaches towards Rome, while Rome remains what she is.
Laud, as is well known, was zealous in promoting, by example as well as by injunction, all that might advance the beauty and solemn dignity of the public worship of God. By this many in his own day were misled. But it might have sufficed to show that there is no necessary connection between Romanizing and a sense of the value of ritual and ceremonious observance to find Chillingworth, in his Religion of Protestants, defending the desire "to adorn and beautify the places where God's honour dwells, and to make them as heaven-like as they can with earthly ornaments." And Laud's writings leave no doubt as to his anti-Roman convictions. To take a crucial example--in the Eucharist Laud sees no other sacrifice than (I) the "memory" (i. e. memorial) of the sacrifice of Calvary; (2) the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; and (3) the sacrifice of ourselves, our souls and bodies.
And again--"This sacrament is commemorative of the Lord's passion (which was a true sacrifice), and so it is called a sacrifice."
And, once again, in our time, when some would denounce the establishment of an episcopate holding the doctrine of our reformed Church in places where bishops of the Roman obedience can show an undoubted historical succession, it may be well to call to mind the declaration of this leading high-churchman of the seventeenth century. "Most evident it is," writes Laud, "that the succession which the Fathers meant is not tied to a place or a person, but it is tied to the verity of doctrine; for so Tertullian expressly: 'Beside the order of bishops running down (in succession) from the beginning, there is required consanguinitas doctrinae, that the doctrine be allied in blood to that of Christ and His apostles.' So that if the doctrine be no kin to Christ, all the succession becometh strangers, what nearness soever they pretend. . . . If that only be a legitimate succession which holds the unity of the faith entire, then the succession of pastors in the Roman Church is illegitimate." (Against Fisher, § 39.)
Fisher, the active and clever Roman proselytizer, had been busy not only among people of fashion, from whom converts were made, like Lady Buckingham, Lady Falkland, and Lord Purbeck, but also among young men at the University. In fact the picture of those days is not unlike that which was presented some fifty years ago in the frequent conversions to Rome among similar classes in England. Among the converts at the University was a young Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, a godson of Laud, and one who afterwards became famous as the author of The Religion of Protestants--William Chillingworth (1602-1644).
Chillingworth, after his conversion, was induced by Fisher to repair to the Romish College at Douai, where his faith might be strengthened and consolidated. But the result did not answer the expectations formed. A further acquaintance with Romanism opened his eyes.
It requires more moral courage to retrace one's steps and come back, discredited for haste and inconstancy, than to make the first change. But Chillingworth, like some others in later times, could not but follow where he was led by what he believed to be truth. He returned to England and the English Church.
The title of Chillingworth's famous book, The Religion of Protestants, a Safe Way to Salvation (1638), was suggested by that of a little book by a Jesuit (who wrote under the name of Edward Knott), Charity mistaken, with a want wherof Catholicks are unjustly charged for affirming, as they do with grief, that Protestancy unrepented destroys salvation. [Knott's book was replied to in 1633 by Dr. Christopher Potter, Provost of Queen's College, Oxford.] Knott supported his book by a subsequent publication entitled Mercy and Truth, or Charity maintained by Catholics (1634). It as more particularly against this second work that Chillingworth's treatise is directed. After the manner more common in a previous age than in Chillingworth's day, he reprinted his opponent's book chapter by chapter, to each chapter adding his own reply.
Chillingworth's main contention is that all the truths essential to salvation are taught in Holy Scripture (so far he only stated the authoritative doctrine of the Church of England); and, further, that those truths are so clearly taught therein as to be readily discovered by every intelligent and honest inquirer. If they are not clearly taught, they are not essential. Further, "all necessary points of mere belief" are contained in the Apostles' Creed, which creed, we may notice in passing, Chillingworth assumes to have been composed by the Apostles. Here are certainly questionable propositions, propositions that need very full explanation, propositions that say both too much and too little.
When inquiry is made, "What is Holy Scripture? How are we to know that these books are Holy Scripture, having God's authority?" Chillingworth replies, and here rightly, that we conclude what is Holy Scripture on grounds of natural reason, reason judging by historical evidence, that evidence being found in the judgment of the ancient universal Church. When the Romanist cries in triumph, "This is to make the Church the judge," he answers, "I have told you already that of this controversy we make the Church the judge; but not the present Church, and less the present Roman Church, but the consent and testimony of the ancient and primitive Church." And, he adds, in words very characteristic of the man, "though it be but an highly probable inducement and no demonstrative enforcement, yet methinks you should not deny but it may be a sufficient ground of faith." [Works (ed. 1838), i. 385.] In a similar rational spirit, speaking of "the questioned books "of the New Testament, he writes, "I may believe even those questioned books to have been written by the apostles and to be canonical; but I cannot in reason believe this of them so undoubtedly as of those books which were never questioned." "Yet," he adds, in words that remind one of passages in Newman's Grammar of Assent, "all this I say not as if I doubted that the Spirit of God, being implored by devout and humble prayer and sincere obedience, may and will by degrees advance His servants higher, and give them a certainty of adherence beyond their certainty of evidence. But what God gives as a reward to believers is one thing, and what He requires in all men as their duty is another."
One other characteristic passage may be cited. "For my part, I am certain that God hath given us our reason to discern between truth and falsehood; and he that makes not this use of it, but believes things he knows not why, I say it is by chance that he believes the truth and not by choice; and that I cannot but fear that God will not accept of this sacrifice of fools.' [Vol. i. p. 237.]
The import of Chillingworth's thought is pertinent to controversies that are deeper and more fundamental than that with Rome. From the passages cited one can understand how he was so warmly admired by such a simple and devoted lover of truth for truth's sake, and such a typical English thinker, as John Locke. The whole work is, in effect, a homily on the profoundly important theme, the responsibility of the intellect in matters of religion.
It seems to me that the chief value of Chillingworth for our day is to be found in the moral impetus given by the study of his writings, in the influence of his transparent love of truth and his ardour in its search, which with honest hearts is infectious. Nor can one fail to admire his resolve to bring himself into a strict relation with facts. If evidence be insufficient, he never will allow his desires to add one grain to the scale. Again, with him, as with Butler, it is a maxim that "probability is the very guide of life." Faith may be weak and imperfect, and yet sufficient to please God. Others "pretend that heavenly things cannot be seen to any purpose but by the midday light; but God will be satisfied if we receive any degree of light which makes us leave the works of darkness and walk as children of the light: they exact a certainty of faith above that of sense or science; God desires only that we believe the conclusion as much as the premises deserve; that the strength of our faith be equal or proportionable to the credibility of the motives to it." [Vol. i. p. ii 5.]
The value of the Religion of Protestants as a permanent contribution to the Romish controversy seems to me to have been generally overrated. But the success and popularity of the book can be readily accounted for. It possessed the charm of being apparently "a short and easy method" of dealing with matters of dispute that had been commonly exhibited in huge folios, bristling with quotations from the Greek and Latin Fathers, which few could read and still fewer could appraise at their true value. Its masculine power and logical coherence were impressive. It was written in admirable English, always simple and clear, generally forcible, and occasionally rising to real eloquence. And its moral earnestness and wide charity must always attract many. [A highly appreciative and, on the whole, just estimate of Chillingworth will be found in Tulloch's Rational Theology in England (second edition), vol. i. pp. 261-343. See also Sir J. Fitzjames Stephen's Horæ Sabbaticæ (first series), pp. 187-208.]
Of the divines of the seventeenth century no one, with the exception perhaps of Jeremy Taylor, has been so successful in gaining the ear of what is called "the religious public" as Joseph Hall (1574-1656), Bishop of Norwich; and his deserved success is easily accounted for. His practical and devotional works, such as the Contemplations on the Old and New Testaments, and the Meditations and Vows, will be read so long as sincerity, acumen, and sound sense expressing themselves in luminous English, have attractions for good men. Hall's works are impregnated with the most effective antiseptic against the decays of time--the salt of an admirable style. His merits as a writer of powerful verse are generally acknowledged; and, as the history of English literature amply demonstrates, it is indeed rare when one who knows how to handle verse is deficient in his mastery of prose. Hall's prose style is simple, forcible, and charmingly clear. He is less ornate than Taylor, but he is more concise, more pertinent, more lucid. The exuberant fancy of Taylor is lacking, but Hall is not deficient in a considerable power of imaginative illustration, and his sane judgment rarely offends our sense of fitness.
Hall's less known works, including his controversial treatises against Rome, such as The Old Religion (a model of systematic arrangement), the Honour of the Married Clergy; and his numerous courageous tractates in defence of Episcopacy and the Liturgy, and those against Presbyterianism and the extravagances of Protestant dissent, are full of good learning and spirited writing. Among the parties in the Church he generally followed the course which gave the name to one of his books, the Via Media. [Via media: the way of peace in the five busy Articles of Arminius.] Hence, as in the case of other men of independence, his reputation has had to endure studied attempts at depreciation from party-men of opposite schools. [Hall's little tract, entitled An Explication of Christ's presence in the sacrament of His Body and Blood, is worth reading. His wholesome dislike of obscurantism--of deliberate obfuscation of the intellect on the plea of devoutness--expresses itself in the pointed words, "Away with those nice scruplers, who, for some further ends, have endeavoured to keep us in undue suspense with a non licet inquirere de modo."] Hall's Latin style does not aim at following the Ciceronian model, but it is terse, elegant, and, above all, serviceable. Speaking generally, Hall did not add to the theological learning of England, but served the useful office of one of the middle-men of literature, arranging and popularizing the results of others' labours. [A notice of Hall's casuistical writings will be found later on.]
So long as the English tongue is spoken the name of Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) must carry with it a great reputation. It may be safely said that none of our divines was so richly endowed with the rare combination of intellectual force, imaginative fertility, and emotional fervour.
But here we are not concerned in estimating his genius save in relation to our special subject. And it must be acknowledged, in the first place, that in many instances Taylor's display of wonderful powers is but very imperfectly accompanied by the sound judicial faculty, which is, after all, a primary essential in theological inquiry. Taylor is a rhetorician, and an advocate of a high order of excellence, incomparable in the presentation of his case; but he accepts from himself his own brief, too often after very immature consideration. None, perhaps, of our accredited divines commits himself so frequently to unsustained, insecure, or highly questionable statements. His reading, as Coleridge observes, was "oceanic; but he read rather to bring out the growth of his own fertile and teeming mind than to inform himself respecting the products of those of other men." [Notes on English Divines, i. p. 209.] Hence the careful student soon learns to be on the alert in examining the authors cited, if he cares to ascertain whether their full sense--their real sense--has been caught and expressed by this great devourer of books. Again, the copiousness of his style leads him to excess, and at times we can hardly acquit him of verbosity, while arguments good, bad, and indifferent are piled one upon another.
In such a mind as Taylor's exact consistency is scarcely to be looked for; and as matter of fact we find more than one instance in his works where he seems to contradict himself, and to be unaware of the contradiction.
When we remember that Taylor died in his fifty-fifth year the productiveness of his pen is indeed marvellous. He has given the world not only many works, but many which will live.
Taylor's wide-spread reputation is, no doubt, largely due to his practical and devotional writings. His Holy Living, his Holy Dying, and (though in a less degree) his Golden Grove have suffered little in general estimation through the lapse of time. The consideration of these and of his Worthy Communicant and his Collection of Offices must not occupy us here. Nor can we delay to speak of his Life of Christ, or his wonderful Sermons, though in both of these works much will be found of interest to students of theology. His magnum opus on which he himself expected that his reputation would chiefly rest--the Ductor Dubitantium--will be briefly noticed in another connection.
The Liberty of Prophesying (1647) is in many respects Taylor's most remarkable work. [In Bishop Heber's judgment, this is "the most curious, and perhaps the ablest of all his compositions."] It was the immediate outcome of the oppressions (beginning about 1641) which the Church suffered at the hands of the dominant Puritan party. The subsequent attempt to enforce the Solemn League and Covenant in effect deprived and silenced the great body of the best of the English clergy. In 1645 the use of the Book of Common Prayer was, by an Ordinance of Parliament, forbidden whether in public or in any private place or family under heavy penalties, and the Presbyterian Directory was substituted in its room. This tyrannous persecution called forth from Taylor, first, his Episcopacy Asserted (1642), and afterwards, with its bold and aggressive title, An Apology for authorized and set forms of Liturgy against the pretence of the Spirit for extempore prayer, etc., Indeed Taylor was one of the most fearless of men. His contempt and scorn for the ignorance and hypocrisy of too many of the preachers of the Presbyterian party he never cared to hide and his successive imprisonments made the reply of his opponents. [See even the preface, "to the pious and devout reader," of the Golden Grove.]
But Taylor was led by the intolerance of the Puritans, and possibly by the recollection of instances of intolerance when his own party had been in power, to examine the whole question of the rights, civil and ecclesiastical, of restraining the expression of religious opinion. The result was the Liberty of Prophesying.
A main contention of this remarkable work is that the interference of the State should be exercised only when doctrines injurious to its own well-being were publicly taught. "Religion," he tell us, "is to meliorate the condition of the people; and therefore those doctrines that inconvenience the public are no parts of true religion." "Whatsoever is against the foundation of faith, or contrary to good life and the laws of obedience, or destructive to human society and just interests of bodies politic, is out of the limits of my question, and does not pretend to compliance or toleration: so that I allow no indifferency, nor any countenance to those religions whose principles destroy government, nor to those religions (if there be any such) that teach ill life." Thus Taylor would not have the State interfere with those who taught the sinfulness of infant baptism, or those who taught the doctrine of transubstantiation; but it is different if any taught doctrines subversive of civil government, such as that the Pope may absolve subjects from their allegiance to their natural prince, that heretical princes may be slain by their subjects, that the Pope may dispense with all oaths, and that faith is not to be kept with heretics. "These opinions," he declares, "are a direct overthrow to all human society and mutual commerce, a destruction of government and of the laws." Yet even here (so great is Taylor's desire for tolerance) he would not have interference if men "held their peace" and entertained these as only speculative opinions. Similarly Anabaptists' notions as to the unlawfulness of a magistrate ministering an oath, or the State using defensive arms, and such like, are not to be treated in the same way as their opinions on baptism. These notions are "as much to be rooted out as anything that is the greatest pest and nuisance to the public interest." Taylor's principle is thoroughly intelligible; and differences will now-a-days arise only in the extent of its application.
It is when Taylor passes from the consideration of State policy to the terms of ecclesiastical communion that there will be most disposition to demur to his conclusions. He shows indeed that a large variety of teaching on certain subjects is allowed in all religious bodies. He would extend this liberty very widely, asking only for agreement in fundamentals; and these fundamentals he, like Chillingworth, reduces to the doctrines taught in the Apostles' Creed. It is obvious that the question thus raised is too large to be discussed here; but Taylor's treatment of it is well worthy of the closest attention in our own day.
How are we to attain such certitude as to the absolute truth of doctrines lying beyond fundamentals, that we may make bold to impose them on others, as essentials? Arguments from Scripture, Taylor urges, are difficult and uncertain in questions "not simply necessary." Tradition is insufficient to end controversies; similarly ecclesiastical councils are insufficient. The Pope is not infallible. The ancient Fathers are an insecure guide. Reason, using all suitable aids, is the best judge. Reason, indeed, may err. Yet we must, remember, "it is not required of us not to be in error, but that we endeavour to avoid it." The discussion on "the nature and measures of heresy" is throughout extremely able, and proceeds upon the principles that reason erring may be inculpable, and that "heresy is not an error of the understanding, but an error of the will." Taylor's charity is a charity that has its basis in natural justice, and in its ardour bursts through all the restraints of mere legal and ecclesiastical technicalities.
Taylor's farthest stretch of (so-called) "liberal theology," though it has alarmed many, does not surpass, nay, does not reach the utterance of a well-known divine of our own time who has never been suspected of dangerous liberalism in theology, the late Dr. Pusey. "Ask any tolerably-instructed Christian person, and his instinct will respond what every teacher of the Church everywhere knows to be truth. Ask him, 'Will any soul be lost, heathen, idolater, heretic, or in any form of hereditary unbelief or misbelief, if in good faith he was what he was, living up to that light which he had, whencesoever it came, and repenting him where he did amiss?' All Christendom would answer you, God forbid!" [The Responsibility of the intellect in matters of Faith. (Oxford, 1873.) See the whole splendid passage, pp. 36-46.]
In the course of his argument, Taylor has to deal with the claims made on behalf of papal infallibility ( Works, v. 462, seq.). The discussion is comparatively brief, but nothing more effective can be found in any of our earlier writers; and if he allows some fine flashes of irony to play round the absurdities of the position (and more particularly round the logical process by which the infallibility of the Popes is deduced from the promises made to St. Peter), it is only for a little while, for he recalls to mind "this is not a business to be merry in." [See Works, v. 462, seq.]
On the whole there is perhaps no work in our Anglican theological literature more sure to arrest and hold attention, more stimulating, more provocative of thought than the Liberty of Prophesying; as there is certainly no more brilliant manifestation of Taylor's intellectual powers. [When the student has mastered the Liberty of Prophesying for himself he may consult with advantage S. T. Coleridge's Notes on English Divines; Tulloch's Rational Theology; and Sir J. Fitzjames Stephen's Horae Sabbaticae (First Series).]
In his Unum Neccssarium, or the Doctrine and Practice of Repentance (1655), Taylor expressed himself on the nature of original sin and the extent of man's corruption in a manner which it is difficult to reconcile with the teaching of the Church in her Articles of Religion. The Bishop of Rochester (John Warner) and the Bishop of Salisbury (Brian Duppa), to whom he inscribed the volume, each wrote to Taylor letters expressing strong disapprobation of the views set forth; and it is said that the wise and learned Sanderson was moved even to tears by what he considered Taylor's departure from the scriptural language of the Church. In our own day Coleridge came to the conclusion that Taylor's system was "bona fide Pelagianism," though of course Taylor had denied the imputation. It is impossible in this place to discuss the question raised; but I shall venture to say that Taylor's language, though incautious, seems to me capable of a more favourable construction.
In his earlier years Taylor had for a time been thrown into close contact with Roman Catholics. It is said, indeed, that at one period he lived on terms of intimate friendship with the clever Franciscan, Christopher Davenport (better known as Sancta Clara), one of the chaplains of Queen Henrietta Maria. [Sancta Clara was author of many theological works, but is now remembered chiefly for his Paraphrastica Expositio Articulorum Confessionis Anglicanae (1646), a hopeless and somewhat ludicrous attempt to interpret the XXXIX. Articles in a sense compatible with the doctrines which they were, in the main, expressly written to condemn. This book, with an English translation, was republished by Dr. F. G. Lee in 1865. The book-has been justly described as "a mere trick of proselytizing controversy, and not a wise trick either." (The Guardian, March 28, 1866.)] And all through Taylor's life the suspicion of Romanizing tendencies haunted his reputation with the general public. But in truth his capacity for generously appreciating and acknowledging good points in Romanism made him a far more formidable opponent than writers blinded by the bigotry of extravagant Protestantism.
In 1654 there appeared the first edition of Taylor's work, entitled, The real and spiritual presence of Christ in the blessed Sacrament proved against the doctrine of Transubstantiation. The phrase "real presence," which had already been occasionally adopted by Anglican writers, but was more commonly appropriated to the Roman doctrine, Taylor now, whether wisely or unwisely, claims as the expression of the doctrine of the Church of England. Taylor's arguments against transubstantiation need not here engage our attention; but it may be interesting and serviceable to state his own position, his own positive teaching; and this can be done effectively by a few quotations.
"We ['sons of the Church of England'] by the real spiritual presence of Christ do understand Christ to be present, as the Spirit of God is present in the hearts of the faithful, by blessing and grace; and this is all which we mean, beside the tropical [i. e. metaphorical] and figurative presence."
"By spiritually they [Romanists] mean 'present after the manner of a spirit'; by spiritually we mean 'present to our spirits only,' that is, so as Christ is not present to any other sense but that of faith, or spiritual susception."
"The wicked receive not Christ, but the bare symbols only, but yet to their hurt."
On what is called a non-local presence of Christ's Body and Blood in or under the species of bread and wine, Taylor remarks, "I wish the words were sense, and that I could tell the meaning of being in a place locally and not locally; . . . but so long as it is a distinction it is no matter; it will amuse and make a way to escape, if it will do nothing else."
"Take eat and This do are as necessary to the Sacrament as Hoc est corpus meum, and declare [i. e. make clear] that it is Christ's Body only in the use and administration." "It is Christ's Body only in the taking and eating."
On the phrase "sacramentally present," often used with no definite meaning, Taylor writes, "Christ's Body is sacramentally in more places than one, which is very true, that is, the sacrament of Christ's Body is: and so is His Body, figuratively, tropically, representatively, in being, and really in effect and blessing."
Such is Taylor's teaching on the Eucharist. [It is well to bear this in mind when one peruses the letter printed in Eden's edition of the Works (v. 317, seq.) on the Reverence due to the Altar, which shows how ceremonial observance of a marked kind may be compatible with a belief that many now-a-days would scornfully speak of as "un-catholic."] No one who is familiar with Taylor can doubt that he was a man of profoundly reverential temperament. But he thought it no part of reverence to shut the eyes of his intelligence at the bidding of those who would palm off upon him unfounded or unmeaning propositions as "mysteries of the faith." [Coleridge's laudation of Taylor's Real Presence will be found in Notes on English Divines, i. 280.]
The last work from Bishop Taylor's pen was also on the controversy with Rome. It was undertaken at the united request of his brother prelates in Ireland, and appeared under the title, A dissuasive from Popery. This treatise deals in an effective and popular way with most of the points in dispute between England and Rome. [The Real Presence and the Dissuasive have been published in the convenient form of a single volume (under the editorship of Dr. Cardwell, Principal of St. Alban's Hall, Oxford), which in its last edition (1852) may be commended to those who do not possess the whole Works of Taylor.]
The overthrow of the Church establishment in the course of the Great Rebellion scattered the clergy. Some were imprisoned; some lived in hiding and wandered from place to place; some, as best they could, continued after their sequestration to minister to the flocks that had been committed to them; some escaped to France or the Low Countries and only returned at the Restoration; some managed somehow to reconcile themselves to submitting to the de facto authorities of the day.
Despite the many distractions of those evil times the intellectual activity of our ecclesiastical writers was remarkable. Notable at home were Sanderson, Brian Walton, Hammond, Jeremy Taylor, and one who deserves mention as the first of our Church historians, the wise humourist, Thomas Fuller. Abroad were Bishop Bramhall and Dean John Cosin, afterwards Bishop of Durham.
Cosin (1595-1672) spent some sixteen years of exile, ministering to the English royalists who were numerous in Paris, and labouring assiduously to counteract the unceasing efforts of Roman proselytizers. To the necessities of controversy we owe his Scholastical history of the Canon of the Holy Scripture (1657), a solid piece of work, and his Historia Transubstantiationis Papalis, published posthumously in 1675. Before the civil war no one had been more vehemently assailed by the Presbyterian party for his alleged Popish tendencies; and he was forced to suffer many indignities on account of his excellent book of Devotions. Subsequently none of the clergy suffered from more persistent and rancorous persecution at the hands of the Puritan party. He was in his day one of the most distinguished men of the "High Church" school; but his doctrinal teaching was not what might perhaps be at the present time expected from a "High Churchman." Thus, in his work on Transubstantiation he asserts "the unanimous consent of all Protestants with the Church of England" in maintaining "a real, that is a true, presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament." [Chap. II.] He maintains that Christ did not give His Body "to be received by the mouth," and declares that "reservation" is impossible because Christ is "present only to the communicants." But, like every sound Anglican, he forcibly contends that our faith does not cause the Presence, but only apprehends it.
Equally surprising to the modern reader, unacquainted with the history of opinion, is this High Churchman's concurrence with Bramhall in a certain recognition of the reformed "sister Churches" abroad. [Vindication of Grotius, p. 614.] Indeed, Cosin's relations towards the French reformed Church were not only altogether friendly, but even reached, in practice, a measure of intercommunion. [See Brewer's Memoir (pp. xxviii-xxxii) prefixed to his edition of the History of Popish Transubstantiation, and, more particularly, Cosin's Letter to Mr. Cordel.]
Bramhall (1593-1663), Bishop of Derry, and afterwards Archbishop of Armagh, though not figuring as so prominent an historical personage, has left to our theological literature larger and more valuable bequests. His controversial treatises against Rome were occasioned by the attempts of Romish proselytizers to change the faith of the exiled king. M. de la Milletière and an Englishman named Smith, titular Bishop of Chalcedon, accused the Church of England of "criminal schism" from the one and only true Church of Christ. In a succession of able treatises Bramhall not only repelled the charge, but retorted it with telling effect upon the Church of Rome. Jeremy Taylor prophesied truly when he declared that in the learning, judgment, and piety manifested in these writings, Bramhall's "memory will last unto very late succeeding generations."
Bishop Bramhall also deserves notice as being one of the first of our English divines to grapple the false philosophy of unbelief,--more particularly the fatalism taught in effect by Hobbes of Malmesbury. Bramhall, said Taylor, "washed off the ceruse and meretricious paintings" from the "new vizor" with which Hobbes had disguised the ugliness of "the Manichean doctrine of fatal necessity." [Works, viii. 417, 418. In Bramhall, says Taylor, "was visible the great lines of Hooker's judiciousness, of Jewel's learning, of the acuteness of Bishop Andrewes."]
Another of the "confessors" under the Puritan persecution was Henry Hammond (1605-1660), as good, kind, and generous as he was high-principled, learned, and devout. A charming portrait of this excellent man has been lightly sketched for us, by the pen of Dr. Fell, in one of the best short biographies in the English tongue. But we are concerned here with Hammond as an author. [At an early age Hammond made such extraordinary progress not only in Latin and Greek, but also in Hebrew, that his biographer declares that a knowledge of these tongues "seemed rather infused than acquired." At a later time he added to his attainments a knowledge of Syriac, and this proved helpful to him in his Biblical studies.] His writings embrace Annotations on the whole of the New Testament, on the Psalms, and on a part of the Book of Proverbs, and controversial treatises against Rome, and against the Presbyterians and Independents of England.
The Annotations are the work of a true scholar. He was keenly alive to the interest and importance of textual criticism, and had entered on the task of a collation of Greek MSS. of the New Testament. The distractions of the age, and the hardships incurred through his loyalty to the Church and the Crown, prevented his pursuing his labours in this direction; yet his biblical annotations are even in this day, with its multitude of commentaries, seldom consulted without profit. His primary object throughout is, quite in the modern spirit, to get at the literal sense of Scripture. The Annotations deserve special notice for Hammond's recognition of the important significance of heresies of a Gnostic character, as bearing on the interpretation of the Epistles. He anticipates the drift of modern thought in seeing the "Antichrist" of the New Testament in Gnosticism rather than in Popery, as many earlier writers of distinction had imagined. And again, as Fell has pointed out, he laboured assiduously at the special study of the "Hellenistic dialect" as distinguished from classical Greek. Here too he tapped a vein of inquiry that has since proved rich in results, and is not yet exhausted.
Of Hammond's controversial writings we can refer only to his defence of Lord Falkland's short but cogent discussion, Of the infallibility of the Church of Rome (that "main architectonical controversy," as it is styled by Bishop Pearson, in his appreciative preface to that excellent work); his book on Schism and its defence; his reply to Blondel on the Ignatian Epistles (for which he received the thanks of Archbishop Ussher); and his View of the new Directory and a vindication of the ancient Liturgy of the Church of England. The last-named discussion has lost but little of its interest, and will be found abounding in useful comments on the Book of Common Prayer.
The work of Hammond which attained greatest popularity was his Practical Catechism, meant for the instruction of those who had already been taught the Church Catechism. It was much used, and passed through many editions. [The issue in A.C.L. is said to be the sixteenth.] Its form is cumbrous, abounding in long questions and elaborate answers; but it is interesting in our day as exhibiting the doctrinal teaching of one of the leading churchmen of the seventeenth century and (as testified to by its wide acceptance) of a very large number of the Anglican clergy. The student who is interested in the Eucharistic controversies of our own time will find much that is instructive in Hammond's discussion of the Sacraments.
Another sufferer for his principles, whose memory will be ever associated with the cause of sacred learning, was Brian Walton (1600-1661), consecrated Bishop of Chester at the Restoration. After the sequestration of his ecclesiastical preferments he devoted himself in his retirement to the construction and issue of his great Polyglott, which, after being five years in printing, appeared in its completed form in 1657, in six large folios. It is an imperishable monument of the learning and unflagging energy of this distinguished scholar, and remains to our own day an essential aid to the study of the biblical texts. [Walton's Prolegomena to the Polyglott have been separately printed, at Leipzig (1777), 8vo, under the editorship of J. A. Dathe, and at Cambridge (1828), 2 vols. 8vo, with additional notes by Archdeacon Wrangham.] This truly valuable contribution to the critical study of the sacred Scriptures did not pass without the censures of some. John Owen, the eminent leader of the Independents, dreaded that the exhibition of so many variations in the text would lead to Popery or infidelity, and Walton felt constrained to furnish a reply. [Vindication of the purity and integrity of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments, in some considerations on the Prolegomena, etc., 1658.] It was a decisive and complete vindication of his work. [The Considerator considered, etc., 1659.]
In connection with Walton's work the name of Edmund Castell (1606-1685) must not be omitted. He was one of the numerous oriental scholars who assisted in the work on the Polyglott; but his chief claim for notice is his great Lexicon Heptaglotton, upon which he had laboured for eighteen years. [2 tom., folio, 1669. The languages included are Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Samaritan Hebrew, Ethiopic Arabic, and Persic. This book ruined the compiler. It cost him more than £12,000, involved him in debt for £1800, and when printed found scarcely any sale. After the Restoration he was made chaplain to the King and Arabic Professor at Cambridge, and given a prebend at Canterbury and some other Church preferment.] This work has lately been described by a competent authority as marking "an epoch in Semitic scholarship." [Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole.]
Another eminent orientalist associated with Walton was Edward Pococke (1604-1691). As early as 1630 he had discovered the Syriac texts of the second Epistle of St. Peter, the second and third of St. John, and St. Jude, and, encouraged by Voss, made them known to the learned world. [Versio et Notae ad IV. Epistolas, Syriace, etc., Lugd. Bat. 1630, 410.] After a long stay in the East he was made (the first) Arabic Professor, and given a canonry at Oxford. Some time after (1649) he was expelled from his canonry by the authority of Parliament. [Cromwell's brother-in-law was appointed in his place.] In later and happier days he published learned commentaries on the prophets, Micah and Malachi (1677), Hosea (1685), and Joel (1691).
But it remains to notice the English Hebraist of widest repute among the learned of the seventeenth century--John Lightfoot (1602--1675). Like some other good men brought up under Puritan influences, he had no such conviction of the primary importance of episcopacy as would prevent his accepting the new ecclesiastical regime. The worthy Strype (whose painstaking researches into the history of the Reformation period are a rich mine of valuable material), in the introduction to his collection of Lightfoot's Remains, attributes his action to his having been deceived by "the smooth and fair pretences" of the Presbyterian party. Strype expresses his conviction that Lightfoot "afterward was convinced how he had been trepanned;" and in proof alleges the fact of his, ready compliance with episcopacy as revived at the Restoration. To such conduct doubtless an uglier name than credulity could be given, but we should be grossly ignorant of the time if we did not perceive that there were men of the highest character to whom the question of the form of Church government was very much a matter of indifference. Through the influence of Archbishop Sheldon at the Restoration, Lightfoot was continued in the mastership of Catherine Hall, and also given ecclesiastical preferment. But though he makes ample acknowledgment of the clemency of Charles II. and of the kindness of Sheldon, he makes no confession of guilt. He had served in the Westminster Assembly, and had taken a very independent line upon several occasions. [See his interesting Journal of the proceedings. Works, vol. xiii.] On the subject of the lay ruling-elder in the Christian congregations of the early Church, his testimony did not reach the measure that was looked for by his friends of the Presbyterian "platform." [See Works, iii. p. 243.] His welcoming back the restoration of episcopal government can be well understood without any imputation of unworthy motives. But we are concerned rather with his works than with his character.
Lightfoot's reputation is mainly based on his attempt, largely successful, to illustrate the New Testament from the knowledge of Jewish usages, phraseology, and modes of thought, as they may be gathered from Talmudical literature. This is, without doubt, a vein of inquiry well worth being carefully wrought; yet in some particular instances its value has been much over-estimated. Other labourers abroad have pursued their studies in this direction; but in England little has been done since the publication of Lightfoot's Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae. His works on The Temple Service, and on The Temple, especially as it stood in the days of our Saviour, also abound in curious lore drawn from Rabbinical sources. [The Harmony of the Four Evangelists and his topographical studies of Palestine are of less importance.]
It was in connection with Semitic studies that William Beveridge (1638-1708), afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph's, first attracted notice. At the early age of twenty he published in Latin his treatise on the Importance and use of the Oriental languages, especially Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and Samaritan, together with a Syriac Grammar (1658). This work was intended for the benefit of those who desired to profit from Walton's labours. But Beveridge's learning extended in other directions. His greatest work, on the Canons of the ancient Church, is characterized by profound learning; [Synodicon, sive Pandectae Canonum SS. Apostolorum et Conciliorum, etc., 1672, 2 tom, folio.] and its merits have been recognized abroad as well as at home. [As, e.g., by Van Espen.] Beveridge himself published little in the English tongue; but his Discourse on the XXXIX. Articles (which in its full and correct form did not appear till 1840) is an able defence of" the doctrine of the Church of England as consonant to Scripture, reason, and the Fathers." For piety no less than learning, Beveridge is deservedly one of the most honoured names among English theologians.
Among the Semitic scholars who assisted Walton in his great undertaking was Herbert Thorndike (+1672), who had been Master of Sidney College, Cambridge. He was versed in Syriac and Arabic as well as in Rabbinical Hebrew, and contributed the various readings of the Syriac to the Polyglott. To him we owe a large body of theological treatises. These works made little impression at the time; but they have been reprinted in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, with an admirable biography by Mr. A. W. Haddan. In most of his writings Thorndike exhibits a desire to reconcile, as far as might be, the contrariant doctrines of Rome and England; and among divines of repute he (like Montagu at an earlier time) touches the high-water mark of the conciliatory movement. Indeed, if we trust Bishop Barlow, the wise Sanderson had Thorndike in his mind's eye when he wrote of some "children of the Church" who had "over-run their Mother," had used "her name without her leave," and had thus "causelessly brought an evil suspicion upon her." His mature judgment on various questions in dispute may be most safely sought for in a work published only just before his death, The Reformation of the Church of England better than that of the Council of Trent. Thorndike indulges in theological speculation to an extent not ventured on by our more sober divines. A peculiar interest attaches to him as being, I think, the first to ventilate views on the Eucharist which with little modification afterwards took definite shape in the theories of the non-jurors. To appreciate his position in some of his earlier writings we must remember that "the tragedy of the Church of England," and its extinction as a Church establishment, seemed to him to allow his suggesting a more comprehensive doctrinal basis for its possible reconstruction hereafter. In judging of the Epilogue to the Tragedy of the Church of England, Mr. Haddan has justly observed--"It is one thing to pull a house to pieces which is standing uninjured, in order to remedy unessential defects; another to suggest improvements in rebuilding of a house at the time in ruins." Thorndike is defective in the arrangement and presentation of his thoughts, and his style is laboured and difficult. Nevertheless the patient and painstaking reader will find much to repay his labour in the study of his learned and thoughtful discussion of many weighty problems.
As in the case of Beveridge, it was at an early age that Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), afterwards Bishop of Worcester (1689), published the first of a long series of able works. His Irenicum, or Weapon-Salve for the Church's Wounds, appeared in 1659. The time was the critical moment when hopes ran high that the Church of England might when restored be adapted to embrace the many more moderate Presbyterian divines who were not unwilling to accept an episcopal form of government, if "lordly prelacy" were so modified as to allow the second order of the ministry a larger voice in the management of ecclesiastical affairs. Young Stillingfleet, writing with a desire to effect a peace, takes up the position of our earlier theologians, that no particular form of Church government was expressly commanded in Holy Scripture, or could be established on the grounds of natural reason. The arguments in favour of this opinion occupy the main part of the volume, and he concludes by suggesting, as a return to primitive practice--(I) that presbyters should act as "the senate to the bishop"; (2) that dioceses should not be larger than would permit of the personal inspection of the bishop, and that a bishop should be placed in every great town; (3) that a provincial synod should be held twice each year; and (4) that "none should judge in Church matters but the clergy." Whatever may be thought of the arguments as to the form of Church government being "a mere matter of prudence, regulated by the Word of God," some of the practical suggestions of Stillingfleet have commended themselves in our own time to the independent Churches of the Anglican Communion, while the great increase of the episcopate in England shows that he had anticipated in spirit the need of the reduction in the size of dioceses.
The Irenicum was certainly a remarkable work for so young a man. Warburton compares it with Taylor's Liberty of Prophesying, and regards it as a masterly plea for toleration. It is more properly a masterly plea for such reforms in the Church as would give less show of justification for the complaints of Protestant dissent. There is nothing inconsistent in this early work with his later treatise, The Unreasonableness of Separation from the Church of England (1681).
Stillingfleet's Origines sacræ, or a rational account of the grounds of Christian faith as to the truth and Divine authority of the Scriptures and the matters therein contained (1662), reached a third edition by 1666, and has been again and again reprinted. Modern inquiries into the origin of the Pentateuch leave no doubt of the inadequacy of this work to meet the difficulties of our time. But its learning and ability cannot be reasonably questioned., "Let any competent person," says one of the acutest critics of our time, "read the chapters on Ancient History in the first Book of the Origines, and the account of the laws against the Christians in Book II., c. 9, and he will see that those who sneer at that great work are themselves the proper objects of pity or contempt." [Bishop Fitzgerald in Aids to Faith p. 45.]
The anti-Roman treatises of Stillingfleet, his Origines Britannicae, or the antiquities of the British Churches, and his unfortunate controversy with Locke, must, with regret, be here passed over in silence. [The best edition is Mr. Pantin's (Oxford, 1842), to which is added Bishop W. Lloyd's Historical account of Church Government as first received in Great Britain and Ireland.]