The Annual Address to the
THE GRAFTON PRESS
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012
THE ANGLO-CATHOLIC REFORMATION
THE deepest and nearest cause of the Reformation is the psychological one found in that trait—we may almost call it law—of human nature, by which it recoils upon itself. One goes on steadily believing certain things, and acting on his belief. All at once he halts abruptly, turns around upon and interrogates himself: "Do I believe this? Is all this true? What is it that I believe? And, why do I believe it?" Something of this kind, which takes place so naturally in almost every individual, was bound to take place on a large scale somewhere in Christendom; and in what sphere was this tendency of the human mind so stimulated by objective circumstances as in Western Christendom? This extensive check and challenge came in the Sixteenth Century. Considered as an event, it stands third in magnitude and importance in the history of the Catholic Church.
First—The Indisputable Enunciation of the Faith;
Second—the Great Schism; and
Do I call it an event? That but imperfectly describes it. Movement, Process, Evolution, Revulsion, Revolution, all more or less apply to it. The majority of Occidental Christians, in their corporate and official capacity, look upon it even now as apostasy, heresy, schism, and destruction. The Orthodox Orientals, not wholly understanding it, regard it with suspicion. To some it is a "Second Spring," the re-preaching of Christianity, the beginning of Church history. To such, all good things date from the Reformation—Soundness of Faith, freedom of worship, purity of morals, [3/4] temporal prosperity, and intellectual progress. Such a radical difference in judgment and conclusions implies that the Reformation was due to causes besides the inner reaction of the human mind in reviewing its postulates and reexamining its positions, and that the results of the Reformation face more ways than one.
External reasons for the Reformation go far back in time. Without tracing them in detail, we notice one great fact from which countless woes have sprung. That is, the alliance of Church and State in the days of Constantine. [* "The Church's Broken Unity—Romanism," chapter xxiii.] "Christianity, depending upon her Lord's teachings," says Mr. Bennett, "had separated the things of Caesar from the things of God; and up to the fatal reign of Constantine that separation was keenly and vividly marked. . . . It might have been love of truth, or it might have been worldly policy—we will not determine which—that on the part of Constantine imagined an incorporation of the Church with the State. It might have been love of the souls of men, or it might have been treacherous fear—we will not determine which—that on the part of the Christians throughout the Roman Empire imagined that the favor of Kings would extend the blessings of the Church."
The development of the Papacy and the worldliness, which marked its course and its representative characters, answer such questions. This illicit union of the Church and the World created conditions and an atmosphere favorable and helpful to that development of the Papacy which inevitably necessitated Reformation. That baneful union was not and is not confined to its Papal aspects. It plagued and still plagues Reformed Communities. Mr. Bryce says that the Reformers and Reformed [* "The Holy Roman Empire," chapter xviii.] "welcomed all the aid a temporal prince could give, and the result was that religion, or, rather, religious creeds, began to be involved with politics more closely than had ever been the case before."
 When, by wedding Church and Empire, man joined together what God had put asunder, spiritual strength and soundness were sacrificed to earthly splendour. Luxury, personal ambition, pluralism, non-residence, avarice, moral decay invaded the Church—until there arose from the purest of her sons a cry for the Reformation of head and members.
When the evils so many and so obvious and, by the best, deplored, had reached their height clamorous for some vast and sweeping change, there appeared on the Eastern horizon, like a flush of beauty, that Classic Revival of letters and art, the Re-Birth, the New Birth, the Renaissance. It was like a Resurrection. This coming again of former things made them seem something new, and men called it accordingly the "New Learning." Trench says: "When Constantinople fell at last before the arms of Mahomet II the West, and Italy above all, was covered with the fugitives from the mighty ruin."
Then the Invention of Printing had brought society to school. There began to be a public to read and to think. As men read, they made discoveries. Revision—Reflection—and Investigation filled the day. The stupendous fabric of the Papacy began to be inspected, and the longer men walked about the Roman Zion the less of a "Zion" they found it to be. They made startling discoveries. The foundations were found to be weak and false and the buttresses were shams. In addition, Geographical Exploration took place. It was found that there was another side to the world. Out of the waste of waters America emerged. The era of colonization opened. This presaged the vast industrial future. It indicated commercial expansion. New scales of supply and demand, new products and new markets, appealed to the clever, the gainful, the adventurous, and the mercenary. It has been remarked that when Charles V was Emperor "the Sierras of Peru" were reckoned as important an element of his resources as were [5/6] "the looms of Flanders." The world was enlarging itself on every side. With such new intellectual weapons, with such fresh fields of enterprise, with such paths leading back to original sources, and with noble spirits keenly feeling how ideals had been violated, a break-up was sure to come; and it came. There had been attempts at Reformation, which had failed. There had been hopes of Reformation, which had been disappointed. The Councils of Constance and of Basle, the names of Wycliffe and of Huss, remind us more or less of those attempts and hopes. The only aspect of the disruption which is uniform is that of alienation from the Roman See. We are told that to Clement VII, more than to any other one man, the success of the Reformation as an antagonism to Rome is due, and that when he died, in 1534, England, Denmark, Sweden, part of Switzerland, and one-half of Germany were in revolt. Yet the breach was, in its occasions and methods, more political and moral than doctrinal. England and the Continent in taking issue with Rome took different grounds. Luther's righteous soul was stirred by the manifold immorality of indulgences. Henry of England's stand, while dictated by his sensuality, was made on the basis of national freedom and royal prerogative. The misfortune of the Continental movement was that it lacked unity and guidance. It is a chaotic history of names and sects and jarring teachers. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, are points of interest, but they commanded separate armies. Their heritage is one of confusion and of impaired belief. Even Professor Harnack says: "Any one who looks at the external condition of Protestantism, especially in Germany, may at first sight well exclaim, 'What a miserable spectacle!'"
Still, with all its deficiencies, Continental Protestantism, sorry as it was in the way of what we should deem a real and true Reformation, devoid as it was of constructive force and therefore of stability and permanence, was, viewed in [6/7] the long run, not without its value. Its results have been social, political, and literary, rather than ecclesiastical. Without it we can scarcely believe that there would be to-day a German Empire and a Kingdom of Italy—two wholesome States which are, the one directly, the other indirectly, its principal monuments.
Dr. Harnack goes on to give us in few words an estimate and description of Protestantism which are interesting in connection with our subject. He says: "No one can survey the history of Europe from the Second Century to the present time without being forced to the conclusion that in the whole course of this history the greatest movement, and the one most pregnant with good, was the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century; even the great change which took place at the transition to the Nineteenth is inferior to it in importance. What do all our discoveries and inventions and our advances in outward civilization signify in comparison with the fact that to-day there are thirty millions of Germans and many more millions of Christians outside of Germany who possess a religion without priests, without sacrifices, without 'fragments' of grace, without ceremonies —a spiritual religion!"
This is Protestantism defined and delineated by one of its ablest sons—his foot upon his native heath and breathing his native air. Let us cross the English Channel and go over to the other side. We are in another atmosphere. We too are children of a Sixteenth Century Reformation, but ours is a religion with priests—with a sacrifice—with distinct covenanted gifts of Sacramental grace—with ceremonies—and yet a spiritual religion. Something took place in England very different from the discord and contradiction of the Continent. In England we find a Catholic Reformation. It is one of God's mysterious providences that the Continental Reformation, which was wrong and defective in principle and consequently weak in results, should have had as its principal instrument a man whom mankind can [7/8] respect and admire. In Luther's rugged honesty and personal bravery as a leader men have overlooked the deplorable harvest of his sowing. [* "The Church in Germany," chapter xviii.] "His great specialty," says Baring-Gould, "at all events, his great force, consisted in this—that he introduced a new idea into German religion, which, like a crystal of dynamite, exploded and blew historic Christianity to fragments. The extraordinary energy of his character enabled him, when he had thus wrecked the Catholic Church, to gather the fragments into one mass and pound them into a great block of conglomerate, that bore the marks of his hammer and remained stationary, as he left it, for two hundred years and more." The man may be, as Luther was, a great man and a good man. But the work is sometimes more enduring than the workers—"their works do follow them"—and it was from this point of view that Canon Liddon [* "Life," p. 330.] said of Luther: "Luther had some great personal qualities, no doubt; but unless it is right to reject all Scripture that does not bear out your private views, and to make feeling instead of conscience the test of your state before God, his general influence upon Christendom must be deemed to be a grave misfortune."
On the other hand, while the principle of the English Reformation was true and sound, historically, legally, and theologically, its occasion and chief instrument was a personage to be abhorred and of whom all men are ashamed. Henry VIII was a monster. He departed without being desired before or since. Impelled to do what he did for his own selfish ends, and overlaying his action with arbitrariness and tyranny, he yet afforded the English Church an opportunity of releasing itself from the grasp of a power which had long been an intruder and a usurper.
I would speak now of three points—the abolition of the Papal jurisdiction, the Prayer Book under Edward VI and Elizabeth, and the final revision of 1662. It is important [8/9] to observe that, in respect to the first of these points, it was effected not by Act of Parliament alone but also by Synodical action of the English Church, taken by her Convocations. Acts of Parliament were passed forbidding further payment of tribute to the Roman See in what was known as "Annates," a tax upon benefices. Two such statutes were enacted—one in 1532, another in 1534. In 1533 was enacted the statute in restraint of appeals to Rome in respect to questions of marriage, wills, and property. In connection with these statutes was asserted the validity of Episcopal consecrations without reference to approval of or sanction of the Pope. It was stated that "divers archbishops and bishops have been heretofore in ancient time" consecrated apart from Papal authority, and that in taking this stand they were as "obedient, devout, Catholick, and humble children of God as any People be within any Realm christened."
In 1534 both Convocations passed their remarkable resolution declaring that "the Bishop of Rome hath not by Scripture any greater authority in England than any other foreign bishop." In the adoption of these measures by the Church and State there was no shock to the national sense of Church continuity. There was no consciousness of having extinguished or marred Catholic identity. There was no idea of secession, or of having formed any new organization. Gardiner and others like-minded not only acquiesced in and submitted to these decisive steps, but were actively and positively in favour of them. And Gardiner was no Protestant. He was a very strong Catholic. Yet he apparently was fully convinced that the Church of England, in repudiating the Papal supremacy, was acting entirely within her ancient, constitutional rights, and that she could remain thoroughly Catholic, even though she might cease to be Roman.
By simultaneous action of the body politic with the body ecclesiastic, England, as a Church and as a State, put a [9/10] summary end to a subjection to which she had indeed but impatiently submitted, but which was indefensible on Catholic principles. The Church of England had never been the Church of Rome. The Church in England, corporately and officially, had always been, as Magna Charta testifies, Ecclesia Anglicana. The English Reformation was a Catholic Reformation. It was not a protest of those overpowered by irresistible force. It was an appeal to the Universal Church, to antiquity, to history, and to law. Protestantism, name and thing, came from the Continent. It came in printed books and in the shape of oral teachers like Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer. It influenced a large number of individuals; it tinged doctrines as they were held and stated. But it did not affect the English Church as to the great principles of its structure. This Protestant element has remained in the Church ever since, and is the origin of what has come to be known as the "Low Church" party.
The Catholic character of the Reformation will be apparent if we survey its liturgical productions in which it finds voice and expression.
Next to the Bible, it is safe to say that the Book of Common Prayer is the most famous, the most venerated, and the most remarkable volume in the English language. Of recent years it has become more widely known and more deeply loved. It has entered marvellously into English thought and speech, and moulded English literary taste. It is impossible not to feel interest in the circumstances of its formation and in its subsequent fortunes. It is emphatically a Book of the Ages and a Book for the Ages. It seems sure of immortality, and it is hard to imagine its ever being superseded. I scarce believe that those who had to do with its compilation realised the far-reaching and permanent work they were doing. They must have builded wiser than they knew. More than three hundred and fifty years have passed and the Prayer Book was never more [10/11] highly prized, never enjoyed such favour nor such a prospect of increasing favour as now. As we think of the Books connected with the names of Edward VI and Elizabeth, the books of 1549, 1552, and 1559, it seems a very short period which those dates cover. Yet the events of those years were results which had been maturing for many generations.
Let me here recall to your minds some of the great principles which distinguish Catholic worship. It seems bewildering when we think of the immensity of the Liturgical field; of the different "Uses" in different ages in different parts of Christendom, in different parts of the Church—in different parts of one country, as in the English Dioceses prior to the Reformation. Yet one or two simple facts will guide us and prevent us from being lost in the confusion of this diversity. In the Old Dispensation, we have the Synagogue and the Temple. In the New Dispensation, in the Catholic Church, we have the Book of Psalms and the Holy Communion. These suggest the outline of a system. The Synagogues were many. They were simply meeting-houses. There the Scriptures were read, prayer was offered, sermons were preached. The Temple was but one. The place of Sacrifice was only one, and the variety of sacrifices offered there set forth the manifold aspects and application of the One, True Sacrifice. Sacrificial Action was the heart, and centre, and focus, of devotion, while preaching, prayer, and Scripture lection were the satellites, which moved around the Altar.
In the Christian Church we find a similar co-ordination. The Temple worship has its counterpart in the Holy Eucharist. From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, the Pure Offering is made. It is One Offering, which has acquired a sort of Omnipresence. But around this mysterious Act are clustered offices of prayer, whose nucleus is the Psalter. The Psalms are the office-book and hymnal of the Church of God. Fulfilled in and [11/12] illuminated by Christ, they surround the Perpetual Memory as processional and recessional, going before and following after. Morning Prayer is Preparation for, Evening Prayer Thanksgiving after, Communion. The saying of the Psalms evolved the Hours of Prayer, which came to be ordained and constituted, like the watch of angels, in the wonderful order of the Canonical Hours. Men said the Psalms and to their saying added Hymns, Versicles, Responses, Creed, Collects, and Antiphons. And so these offices were formed and grew, luxuriantly mantling the venerable fabric of the Church as the ivy spreads upon Cathedral walls and towers. These offices made, when arranged and collected, the Breviary, a book not for popular use, but for monks, nuns, and priests; a book not for the homes and families of men, but for monasteries and convents. Along with this stood the Solemn Order for the fulfilment of Christ's Last Commandment. Majestic in comparative fewness of words but in a rich manifoldness of Actions was the Mass, the Liturgy, properly speaking—the Service for the Celebration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, and for the administration of those Holy Mysteries to the Faithful. These were the two leading features of the doctrinal system, the Missal and the Breviary. The one witnessed to the great, universal, everlasting Act of Worship which Christ ordained, and the other to the inspired Psalmody, which praised the works of God in penitence and joy. These represented the fair proportion in which the worshipping life of the Church was correlated. Were this correlation and proportion preserved in the liturgical results of the Anglican Reformation? If they were, we can be content and rejoice in the assurance that not only was the Ministry of Apostolic Succession maintained unbroken, but also that the Form of Worship was not infringed upon.
Henry VIII expired on January 28, 1547. During his reign steps had been taken as we have seen, amid all the [12/13] pillage and plunder, to restore to the Church of England her ancient ecclesiastical independence as a National Church. I have already alluded to the large preparation of the ground for the harvest garnered in the Prayer Book. With those things thus mentioned—viz.: the printing press, the Western hemisphere, and the New Learning—came better education for the Laity, the ripening, into modern form, of the English tongue, and the translation of the Scriptures. In short these two principles, so much in our minds and in our talk and before our eyes now, were working in their proportion then. Expansion and the unifying and consolidation which accompany expansion.
The reign of Henry VIII witnessed the immediate preparation. That great statesman-ecclesiastic, Woolsey, had the instinct of a true reformer and, like Moses viewing Canaan, saw the Reformation from afar. In 1516 occurred the review of the Sarum Breviary. Going on from this date we find the period marked by the First Anglican Formularies of the Faith—the Ten Articles, the Bishop's Book, the Institution of a Christian Man, the Six Articles, and "The Necessary Erudition of a Christian Man." The Scriptures were being circulated. The Lessons were read in English. The English Litany, "first cast or model of the present noble office of the Church of England—an office which we therefore owe to the hand and ear of Cranmer," was published in June, 1545, and sung publicly in Saint Paul's, on Saint Luke's Day, October 18th, that year a Sunday. Besides this, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and forms of Bidding Prayers were also authorized in English. Other ancestral forerunners of the Prayer Book were the Primers. These, for private devotion, had been numerous long previous to the Reformation. Mr. Maskell mentions eight manuscript primers in English, of date before 1460. These books contained the Offices for the Hours, the Litany, the Ten Commandments, the Ave Maria, and other prayers, readings and instructions. Three [13/14] primers of particular note belong to this reign: The first, Marshall's, condemned by Convocation soon after its appearance; the second, that by Bishop Hilsey of Rochester, containing a Calendar of Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and Saints' Days, almost identical with those of the Prayer Book, making this prelate memorable as first suggesting, perhaps, the present order of Epistles and Gospels. The third was the authorized Primer of King Henry. This book was in two parts. The first comprised the Calendar, the King's Injunctions, the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. The second part embraced the Offices of Matin, Evensong, and Compline, the seven Psalms, the Litany, the Dirige, the Commendations, the Psalms of the Passion, the Passion of Our Lord, and "certain Godly Prayers." A curious feature of this book is said to have been its attempt to have a fixed Easter, which is set down as March 27th.
In addition to all these printed and manuscript books and offices, of such long standing and popular use, we find records, here and there, of vernacular usage in the public services—for instance, of Te Deum sung in English in London. In 1538 we hear of priests in different places in England saying "the Mass and the Consecration of the Sacrament of the Altar" in English. From this recapitulation and survey it is very easy to see how the idea of the vulgar tongue in Church services had advanced and prevailed. The time arrived when the English language, as an instrument, was ready and when the people themselves were ready too.
When God mercifully relieved mankind of Henry's cruelty and oppression and of Henry himself, the King had a design, we are told, of "turning the Mass into a Communion"—"a design which," as Canon Dixon remarks, [* "History of the Church of England," vol. ii. pp. 364, 495.] "in these days we cannot comprehend without some reflection." For there can be no Mass without Communion, nor can [14/15] there be Communion without the Celebration—even in the case of Communion with the Reserved Sacrament—without Mass behind it. This evil design or attempt—for it could never be anything more than an attempt, whatever is meant by it—was averted by the King's death. The accession of Edward, however, was the signal for fierce contentions in Church and State. There were "Anti-Reformers, Radical Reformers, and Conservative Reformers." Poor ecclesiastical England, visited well-nigh unto death by Henry, was again "visited" by a motley gang of clerics and laics, thirty in number, who sallied forth nominally to uproot superstition, virtually to destroy and spoil.
[* "History of the Church of England," p. 433.] "Thenceforth," says Canon Dixon, the latest and best historian of those events, "began that villainous scraping, coating, whitewashing of frescoes, and that indiscriminate smashing of windows, which obliterated in countless numbers the most various and beautiful examples of several of the arts; and at a blow took from the midst of men the science, the traditionary secrets, which it had taken five centuries to accumulate." The Injunctions of these ignoble "Visitors" are among the famous documents of that day. They are part of the history of the process by which the English language supplanted the Latin. The Lessons were ordered to be read in English; likewise the Epistle and Gospel at High Mass. The two lights upon the High Altar were retained for the signification that Christ is the Very True Light of the world. The morning hours of Prime, Tierce, and Sext were ordered to be omitted before sermons, leaving Lauds and Matins; thus forecasting the present order of Morning Prayer.
In January, 1548, was appointed what is known as the Windsor Commission, from its meeting at Windsor Castle. It consisted of thirteen members—six Bishops, six Doctors, and Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, as President. In March was published "The Order of Communion." This [15/16] office was Catholic and conservative in character. It has been called "a monument of care and caution." The Oblation and Consecration still stood in Latin. Provision was made for the administration of the Sacrament in both kinds to the laity. The mixed chalice was to be used. A General Confession in English, to be said by all the people, was introduced. The English elements in this office were derived from the "Consultations" of Hermann, the reforming Archbishop of Cologne, who in his work was assisted by Martin Bucer, the Lutheran. Yet these foreign works were used with very great restraint. This office was soon followed by that which has, more than anything else, made the name of Edward VI historical and. honourable—the first Prayer Book. This was the work of the Windsor Commission. This book will forever stand as one of the most remarkable and interesting volumes in the vast liturgical library of the Catholic Church of all Christendom. True to the Catholic theory of worship, it reflected in its contents and arrangement the due relation of the Lords Sacrifice and the Lord's Song, tuned to be sung in a strange land of Dissent, Puritanism, and Protestantism. That is to say, it brought together the Missal and the Breviary in a way wonderfully adapted for general use. The centre was "The Supper of the Lord, or the Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass." The Psalter was there, in its fair completeness. The problem of the Canonical Hours, whose complexity and obligation had confused and overtaxed the dutifulness of the Church so long, was solved in a way that preserved the essence and the principle, and that adapted the recitation of the Psalter to popular use. Two brief offices, Matins and Evensong, distilled from the multitudinous flowers of morning and evening devotion—offices adorned with Psalms and Scriptures, Canticles and Collects, Versicles, Responses and Creed—were now put forth for the daily usage of the Church, clergy and people. In this Prayer Book all the Sacraments—those generally [16/17] necessary to salvation and the lesser ones—were represented. The whole counsel of God was declared. The sick might be anointed as the Blessed Apostle James doth say, and the burdened conscience might relieve itself in confession and be comforted by the grace of Absolution. In the Exhortation to Communion occur those noble eirenic words on the vexed subject of Sacramental Confession, which ought, in all fairness and equity, to silence all contention on that subject:
"If there be any of you, whose conscience is troubled and grieved in anything, lacking comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned priest taught in the law of God, and confess and open his sin and grief secretly that he may receive such ghostly counsel, advice, and comfort, that his conscience may be relieved, and that of us (as of the ministers of God and of the Church) he may receive comfort and absolution to the satisfaction of his mind, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness; requiring such as shall be satisfied with a general confession not to be offended with them that do use to their further satisfying the auricular and secret confession to the priest; nor those also which think needful or convenient, for the quietness of their own consciences, particularly to open their sins to the priest, to be offended with them that are satisfied with their humble confession to the Church. But in all things to follow and keep the rule of Charity, and every man to be satisfied with his own conscience, not judging other men's minds or consciences."
The offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice was provided for at the Burial of the Faithful Departed, and the Dead were prayed for as always aforetime in the Church of God, both Jewish and Catholic Church alike.
The mixed chalice was ordered, and unleavened wafer bread. The old vesture was the raiment and insignia of the Sacred Ministers. Surplice, Alb, Cope, Tunicle, "the Vestment" (i. e., the Chasuble), the Rochet, and Pastoral [17/18] Staff are mentioned. Postures and gestures of devotion were left to the freedom of individuals, the Rubric saying:
"As touching kneeling, crossing, holding up of hands, knocking upon the breast, and other gestures, they may be used or left, as every man's devotion serveth, without blame."
Along with this Book—not at first printed with it, but intended to be bound up with it as now—went the Ordinal, for the assertion and continuation of the Apostolic Succession; an ordinal whose sufficiency the more plainly appears the more fully it is examined, our enemies themselves being judges.
None can scrutinize this triumph of Anglo-Catholic piety, learning, and loyalty to the Holy Apostolic Church; none can read the beautiful offices for Public Baptism, Confirmation, Burial, Matrimony, and all the others without thankfulness to God and laudable pride in our ancestral Church; nor without admiration of, and a sense of indebtedness to, one who, with all his faults, was a Doctor, Confessor, Benefactor, and Martyr of the Church of England, Thomas Cranmer. On his soul, tried by his own weakness and by the malice of men, may God have mercy!
This first Prayer Book of Edward VI is a Reformation Standard. It shows what the English Reformation really was in principle and practice. This was a Catholic Office Book, Breviary, Missal, Ritual, Ordinal—a book for a far and far-reaching future, for an Anglo-Saxon world. It points out how to be Catholic while not Roman. And in its Litany was the petition, "From the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, Good Lord deliver us."
What had been gained? The use of the English language in the public services, which meant a more intelligent and more general participation in worship and more real worshippers. The Chalice had been restored to the lay people. The voluntary use of the Sacrament of Penance, which was [18/19] the Primitive and the Catholic use, was returned to. The Services were condensed and simplified and made more practicable for popular use. While with it all, historical continuity had been kept, organic structure had been guarded, fidelity to ancient authority of the Undivided Church had been preserved, and the Church of England, freed from outside domination, stood ready to fulfil her glorious destiny as the leader and preceptress of modern civilization. This Book was the work of the clergy. Sometimes their work and influence are sneered at and disparaged. We hear flings about priestcraft, narrowness and bigotry. When you hear such observations, remember the noble spirit of moderation, magnanimity, and respect for individual consciences which breathes in this enduring work of real Reformation, the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. Remember also what went along with that Book to restrict its power for good and to render it obnoxious to blame and opposition—I mean the Act for Uniformity, the parent of succeeding acts of the same kind and name, still surviving to plague the English Church.
[* "History of the Church of England," chapter xv.] "As soon as it was promulgated," says Canon Dixon, "the first Act for Uniformity startled two countries into desperate revolt. The lasting consequences of it have been more serious still; for it launched the nation on a perilous course of legislation and laid the foundation of the modern separations from the Church." The Preamble of the Act declares that the Book was composed by the aid of the Holy Ghost, with one uniform agreement of the members of the Commission. It is good to hear that, and as we consider the wonderful career of the Book of Common Prayer we can well believe it. But when Parliament came to enforce the Prayer Book by a penal statute, eight Bishops refused to consent. The Convocations of the Clergy were guiltless of this first Act of Uniformity. "Laymen," says our authority just quoted, "were the authors of these [19/20] momentous measures. Laymen made the first Book of Common Prayer into the schedule of a penal statute; and from the time that they first did so, with mournful consistency, a penal statute accompanied every succeeding revision of the Book of Common Prayer." "Uniformity, the Invention of the Sixteenth Century," exclaims the historian, "knew no lay recusants at first." It was a cudgel hewn out with which to thrash the clergy. It was soon found necessary, however, to thrash the laity also. Two classes of people, of opposite ecclesiastical wings, kept away from Church—the adherents of the Old Learning and the Non-Conformists. At the same time the fanaticism of the Protestant faction on the Continent and in England, was clamorous for a more radical revision of the Prayer Book. Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer, foreign to both Church and country, were busy and influential in England; and that, too, in the Universities. Calvin, Knox, and others were heard from without. Therefore, to compel attendance at Church and to satisfy Protestant agitators, the second Prayer Book of Edward VI, accompanied by a second and more widely penal statute, was issued in 1552. This Book was a mongrel production. It was not the legitimate utterance of the Catholic mind of the Church of England. It swept away the Altar—name and thing. It reduced the clerical vesture to the surplice and the rochet. The tables might stand in the body of the Church, though a Rubric of conservative tone ordered that the chancels should remain as they had done in times past. The old arrangement of the Communion Service was rudely disturbed. "The frigid addition of the Ten Commandments," as it has been characterized, was adopted from a Calvinistic liturgy of Strasburg. Gloria in Excelsis was taken from its ancient position at the beginning, and placed at the end of the Service. The Confession, Absolution, Comfortable Words, and Prayer of Humble Access, preceded, instead of following, the Prayer of Consecration. In the Canon, the manual acts [20/21] of the consecrator were done away with. In administering the Blessed Sacrament to communicants there was no mention of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. In the Visitation of the Sick, Unction was omitted. These were violent innovations, strange and startling novelties. This unhappy Prayer Book, however, was, by God's overruling Hand, scarcely used. Its history is obscure, its publication was delayed at the last moment. First used in Saint Paul's on All Saints' Day, 1552, its brief life lasted only eight months all told. It is supposed that it never came into any general use, for on July 6, 1553, King Edward died, and the Protestant flood was checked. This second Book is hardly more than a literary and liturgical relic and curiosity. Its ghost has stalked and flitted about from time to time. Some would have been glad to raise it in 1689. It appeared on our shores in the shape of the Proposed Book of 1785, but was quickly laid, and since 1873 the spectre has been haunting a few quarters as the Prayer Book of the "Cummins Schism," otherwise known as the Reformed Episcopal church. This Book was the low-water mark of the English Reformation. Its chief name to live is its use as a starting-point towards something better.
After the dolorous reign of Mary—that five years of terror, blood, and fire, from July, 1553, to November, 1558—Elizabeth ascended the English throne. The difficulty of her position as a restorer of Reformed Anglo-Catholicity was extraordinary. It was an age of intrigue. On one side was a political Romanism, insidious and crafty, threatening the stability of her Kingdom. On the other was a fierce and truculent non-conformity. Two important measures were at once enacted, the first in regard to the casting out once more of the Papal authority from the realm of England—the Act of Supremacy. The second was another Act of Uniformity. Penalties for non-compliance were reestablished, and the second Book of Edward VI was designated as the basis of the new revision. This revision was [21/22] entrusted to a Committee appointed and instructed by a device or resolution of the Council. This Elizabethan recension, starting from the Second Edwardine Prayer Book, showed a marked reaction in a Catholic direction. It was a return towards the First Prayer Book, to which, it may be said, all Prayer Book revisions since Elizabeth's time, including our own American one of 1892, have tended. Expediency of the times of course led these Elizabethan revisers to expunge promptly from the Litany, which was put forth before the rest of the Book, the suffrage concerning the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and his detestable enormities.
On Saint John Baptist's Day, 1559, the English Prayer Book again came legally into use. The main features pertaining to our present inquiry, which we may note, were: First, the restoration of the ancient form for Delivery of the elements, with words added; second, the removal of the Declaration on kneeling which denied the Real Presence; third, the restoration of the ancient vestments and ornaments, thus asserting the continuity of the Church. This provision, which in its later and present form is known as the Ornaments Rubric, has been a providential witness to the Catholic character of the Church of England.
Another significant Prayer Book landmark of Elizabeth's reign was the Latin edition of the date of 1560. This was for the learned. The Queen would provide her universities and schools with a Latin use. The Universities had petitioned for permission to use a Latin service. This permission was granted by a royal letter to the effect that in College Chapels the service might be said in Latin, provision being made for an English service and Communion at least on festivals. This Latin Prayer Book was grounded on a Latin version of Edward's First Prayer Book. And it has been suggested that the lack of care to bring this Elizabethan Latin book into exact agreement with the Elizabethan English book was intentional, in order that the [22/23] Universities, Colleges, and clergy in their private use might adopt and become habituated to the teaching and the usages of the First Prayer Book. This Latin Book showed a distinct spirit of Catholic restoration. It testified to Prayers for the Dead. It contained an office for the Celebration of the Lord's Supper at Funerals, and a Form for Commemoration and Commendation of Benefactors. Queen Elizabeth was no saint. She was far from being a lovely character. She was really as cruel as her sister. She was a Tudor. She was the daughter of her father—in the worst sense. Yet the Church owes much to Elizabeth. We owe her a great debt for the upholding of our Catholic heritage against Papist, Jesuit, and Puritan. Her chapel, with its Altar set with statues, with its lights and Crucifix and vestments, said plainly in those troublous times that the Church of England was no new sect; that it was the old, historic, National Church. "Elizabeth," quaintly remarks Canon Dixon, "was the only great man in her Kingdom. Her ministers were strenuous men of the second order."
To Elizabeth's reign belongs another Reformation note of no uncertain sound—that found in the Canons of 1571, in which it is enjoined that "preachers shall take heed that they teach nothing but that which is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have gathered out of that very doctrine."
Another hundred years were to elapse before the Reformation could be called completed. That century witnessed terrific internal convulsions in the Realm and Church of England. It is stained with the blood of two victims as truly martyrs for the true principles of the English Reformation as ever Thomas Cranmer was—Charles I, King, and William Laud, Archbishop. Their place in the love and veneration of sound Churchmen is forever honourable and secure, for they laid down their lives rather than surrender [23/24] to destruction the life and principles of the Church of England.
When England came to itself the Prayer Book of the English Church was established in its present form in 1662. As Wakeman remarks, [* "History of the Church of England," p. 386.] "the religious settlement of 1662 was for the Church of England the last act of her Reformation."
Once more the Prayer Book underwent revision. And it was deliberately and advisedly a revision in a Catholic direction. The revisers in the Savoy Conference heard all the objections and demands of the Puritans, and the book came forth giving a still more certain sound than before. The word "priest" was inserted in such connection as to carry with it its necessary correlatives of Sacrifice and Altar. Commemoration of the Departed was restored. The Oblation of the elements and the ceremony of the fraction were restored. And while the "Black Rubric" was put in, the important alteration of "real and essential Presence" into "Corporal Presence" relieved the English Church from an apparent denial of the great Catholic Truth of the Real, Objective Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
It is apparent from this hasty review of the principles and worship of the Church of England that she is, and has always been, a Catholic Church. As Mr. Gladstone puts it: [* "Church and State," vol. ii. p. 96.] "The English Reformation asserted merely this—that the nation was ecclesiastically independent, not of Catholic consent, but of foreign authority."
Bishop Jolly, one of the Saints of the Scottish Church, says, speaking of the English Church: [*Quoted by Lendrum, "Principles of the Reformation," p. 1] "Her rule of Reformation was to do away with the abuse and retain the right use." And another Scottish Churchman, commenting on these words says: [*Lendrum, "Principles of the Reformation," p. 18.] "Every established doctrine and [24/25] laudable practice of the whole Catholic Church it was her firm purpose to abide by; and in so doing she perpetuated her identity with the ancient Church of England and her unity with the primitive and whole Catholic Church." Nor must I omit here that admirable statement of English Reformation principles in the 30th Canon of 1603: "The abuse of a thing does not take away from the lawful use of it. Nay, so far was it from the purpose of the Church of England to forsake and reject the Churches of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, or any such like Churches, in all things which they held and practised, that as the Apology of the Church of England confesseth, it doth with reverence retain those ceremonies which doth neither endamage the Church of God nor offend the minds of sober men, and only departed from them in those particular points wherein they were fallen, both from themselves in their ancient integrity and from the Apostolical Churches, which were their first founders."
Circumstances political have made the Church of England sore let and hindered in carrying out the principles of the Reformation. To us of the American Church—a free Church in a free State, unhampered by monarchs, cabinets, or governments—is granted the fairest opportunity which the Church in any land has ever had since the days of Constantine. To us is granted the privilege and the opportunity of exemplifying on a grand scale the principles for which the Reformed Church of England has so valiantly contended. Those principles are sound—the rights of the Episcopate, the freedom of national Churches—loyalty to the Voice of the Undivided Church—and the Holy Scriptures as the Rule of Faith. On the strong basis of those principles we stand against the vagaries of Protestantism, with its rejections, its distortions, and its denials of the Faith. We stand against that unhistorical, un-Catholic Papalism, which has rended the Christian unity of the world. It has been said of the Papal Church of Reformation times [25/26] that it was marked by [* Cambridge Modern History, "The Reformation."] "the intolerant dogmatism which assumed that there was an ascertained answer to every possible theological question, confused right-thinking with accuracy of knowledge, and discerned heresy in every reaction and every independent effort of the human mind." The Papalism of that day has not changed its heart nor its spirit. With Roman Catholics as individuals I am in charity. Their practical Christian life and belief, their devotional habits, are very similar to one's own. The private Catholic life and living are much alike in all branches of the Catholic Church. But with the Roman Church as a body I am not in charity. I have very serious things against her. She has been, and I believe she still is, a cruel, unscrupulous, unprincipled Church. In using such terms I am not using the language of any cheap, vulgar, ignorant prejudice against Rome. Read the scathing words of Lord Acton, himself a Roman Catholic. He says: ["Letters of Lord Acton," p. 299.] "The Inquisition is peculiarly the weapon and peculiarly the work of the Popes. It is the principal thing with which the Papacy is identified and by which it must be judged. The principle of the Inquisition is the Pope's sovereign power over life and death. That is to say, the principle of the Inquisition is murderous."
As Mr. Gladstone once said: [* "Life," vol. ii. p. 185.] "This frightful evil [viz.: that of letting Religion spoil morality] seems to rage in the Roman Church more than anywhere else, probably from its highly wrought political spirit, the virtues and vices of a close organization being much associated with one another. That same influence which keeps the mother from her child teaches Montalembert to glorify the corruption, cruelty, and baseness, which in the government of the Papal States put the Gospel to shame."
It is no answer to say that the Roman Church used physical coercion at a time when all believed in so doing. There [26/27] was such a time. In our own land of liberty of conscience the blood of Mary Dyer still cries to God from the soil of Boston Common. Yet no one supposes that the successors of those who sentenced and executed that gentle Quakeress would do so now. Yet it is not at all difficult to imagine that the Roman Church, were she sufficiently in power, would burn Archbishop Davidson just as cheerfully as she burned Archbishop Cranmer. The Roman Church retracts none of her falsehoods, repents of none of her cruelties. She is not to be trusted until she has disowned and repudiated her misdeeds and given some grounds for believing that she has really changed.
Romans used to talk of "absorbing" what they called the Schism of the Sixteenth Century—of "absorbing" the English Church. The process of absorption is farther off than ever. When the Roman hierarchy appeared in England, more than half a century ago, hopes rose high. Where are such hopes in Roman hearts to-day? True, Newman, Manning, Faber, and others, hounded to desperation by those who ought to have known better, left the Anglican obedience. But Newman, Manning and Faber are dead and they have no successors. As the Catholic principles of the Reformation are understood and put in practice, the Anglican Church grows stronger. Here in America our ranks have been and are replenished from the ranks of Protestantism. The Anglo-Catholic position is the best absorbent known.
There used to be a phrase much in vogue with some about "undoing the Reformation." Who could undo the Reformation if he wanted to? But who wants to do it? No true Catholic Churchman harbours any such wish as that. He only asks that the principles of the Reformation be allowed fair play and free course.
Our strength is to be Catholic Churchmen. The more devoted we are in applying the principles of the Reformation as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer the [27/28] stronger we shall become in grace and numbers. When in all our Churches, for instance, the public devotional system and ideal, as given in the Prayer Book, are lived up to; when every Church shall resound with the daily Morning and Evening Prayer, and every Altar shall have its Daily Eucharist, the face of our Church will be radiant with Divine life. We have, it is lamentably true, great differences in our Communion. Yet, thank God, there is a growing unification among ourselves. Many years ago Bishop Horatio Potter—clarum et venerabile nomen!—that wise and saintly prelate, said in a Convention Address:
"If we consider what a vast amount of intellectual power in the English-speaking world has been employed during three hundred years, under the influence of a reaction from Romanism, in preaching and writing down the Priestly Office, the Sacraments, the Institution of the Visible Church, often extending to the obscuring of the whole of the supernatural in Christianity, we need not be surprised that we find it so difficult to build up and maintain what has been so elaborately pulled down. Neither need we be surprised to find in our branch of the Church two conflicting elements."
Yet, when we consider the good feeling, the spirit of toleration for one another, the spirit of mutual concession which mark our Synods and Conventions, we must be convinced that the Holy Ghost, who maketh men to be of one mind in a house, is gradually removing from us all causes of dissension. Such acrimony as is current in England is unknown to us. We have no Protestantism here which can produce a Kensit, a Fillingham, or a Lady Wimborne.
In soberness, earnestness, and devotion, the American Church grows yearly more conscious of its nature, character, and heritage as a Catholic Body.