Project Canterbury

The Church Historical Society

VIII. The Continuity of the Holy Catholic Church in England.
A Lecture delivered at St. Columba's Church, Haggerston, in 1896.

By the Right Rev. G. F. Browne, D.D.
Formerly Bishop of Stepney and of Bristol.

London: SPCK, 1915.

The reader should bear in mind that this lecture was delivered extempore, and is printed from shorthand notes; it must not be regarded as a written treatise.

"THE continuity of the Holy Catholic Church in England" is our subject. By the Church in this sense, the Holy Catholic Church, we do not mean a mere creed, a statement of doctrine; we do not mean a mere collection of men and women professing the right doctrine, banded and agreed, living together as a Christian Church, with a common faith and common Sacraments. But we mean a living thing, an actual spiritual existence, a something quite different from a creed, quite different from a collection of men and women,--a living, spiritual thing, founded on the Rock which is Christ, drawing its life from Him, the Foundation-stone, the Rock: for "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, even Jesus Christ"--the Church's one foundation.

And then, Catholic--what do we mean by that? This word "Catholic" was not in the definition of the Creed at first; it was not in the definition of the Church in the Creed for some time. The Greeks added it; the Latins afterwards accepted it; and now we speak of the Holy Church or the Holy Catholic Church--more usually the Holy Catholic Church. It has many vast and weighty meanings. We mean by it (1) that the Church is universal: wherever the Church is, there is the Catholic Church of Christ; and each particular Church is a member of the Catholic Church; and all the members together form the visible body of the Catholic Church. And (2) all who will are included, on the old terms, in the Catholic Church; otherwise, it would have ceased to be Catholic, and become particular. And (3) the Catholic Church holds the faith which was held when, if ever, the Church was one in faith. And (4) the Catholic Church teaches the whole truth. Something of that kind, for my present purpose, we mean by this word Catholic.

And by "continuity"--the continuity of the Holy Catholic Church in England--we mean that there never has been a break in the life of the Holy Catholic Church in England. That there never has been a time--no, not a day--when it ceased to be founded on the Hock, which is Christ; when it ceased to profess the faith which is the Catholic faith; when it ceased to be guided and supported by the Sacraments which are the Catholic Sacraments; when it ceased to have the succession of bishops, priests, and deacons--the Catholic Orders of the ministry. If there had been a break, even for a day, we should have had, somehow or other, to get ourselves started over again. We deny that there ever was a break, even for a day. "Lo, I am with you alway!" That was the promise of Christ. We have never forfeited that promise for a day. "So long as ye go on baptizing all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, so long I am with you alway." And " so long as ye obey my command, break the bread and bless the wine--'Do this in remembrance of Me," 'as oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup'--I am with you alway." There is no break of continuity if there is not a break of any of these things which I have now mentioned.

"In England"--the continuity of the Holy Catholic Church in England. Not Ireland, not Scotland, not Wales, but England. We in England hold the Catholic faith. The Church of England holds, as it always has held, when rightly judged by its authorised formulas, the Catholic faith. What is the Catholic faith? The Catholic faith is the faith of the Church when, if ever, the Church was one. It is contained in the Nicene Creed, the Creed of the Nicean Council in 325 A.D.; recited, in the complete form in which we have it, at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.; repeated and ratified by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. And since that time no Creed has been framed by the Church Catholic, no Creed different from that, no Creed as an expansion of that, has been framed by the Catholic Church, the Church Catholic. [The doctrinal Hymn or Creed "Whosoever will be saved," stands on a different level historically.] We hold the Catholic faith.

There has been indeed an additional clause, and I for one regret it. I regret that the Church of England was dragged into that addition by its union with a Church from which we afterwards had to break. I refer to the word Filioque ("and from the Son") which has been added to the assertion of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father. I believe that the insertion is too short to express clearly the truth intended; another little sentence is wanted, to state the real truth. But whatever may be our position about believing the additional assertion, we have no answer when the Greek says, whether to Anglican or to Roman, "You have added to the Catholic Creed"; and I regret that I have no answer when he tells me so, as he has told me before now. Quite apart from the question of believing the doctrine, there is the question of adding it. As early as 680 A.D. it was included as a doctrine in a doctrinal statement made by the English Council of Hatfield, quoting, as the Council declared, a Roman synod. It was added in fairly early times by the Churches of France and Spain to the Catholic Creed. About 800 A. D., Leo III forbad it. He had silver plates made, and on these were inscribed the very words in which this Creed was enacted and ratified and confirmed. He had the words inscribed in Greek and Latin, so that there should be no mistake. From 866 to 1053 A.D. there were perpetual quarrels between the East and the West on this subject; and then, On this subject, the final rupture between the East and the West. I regret that addition to the Creed, quite apart from the question of doctrine.

We hold, then, the Catholic faith. And when I come to speak of the additions which have been made to the Catholic Faith since that time, I feel this difficulty: I am not here to deliver a controversial lecture. I do not want to attack any one. When controversy is forced upon me, I am ready for it, but I do not seek it. I am not here for a controversial lecture; and yet it is impossible to speak without reference to controversy when we have to speak of additions to the Creed; those additions to the Creed on which we differ from the great head of the Church of the West. They have all been made, of course, since the time when the Creed was formulated as the belief of the Christian Church, as the definition which was regarded as the terms of communion. Every one was in communion with the Catholic Church, every one was a member of the Catholic Church, who held that Creed faithfully and from the bottom of his heart, in every syllable, as we do. I don't know that any one disputes that we hold every syllable of it. The things added since have been added much later; the most vital of them only a quarter of a century ago, well on in the third quarter of this nineteenth century. As a matter of fact, as things now stand, but for this one word, Filioque, we English Church people are nearer to the unchanging Church of the East than we are to the changed Church of the West. And we have the larger number of Christians in the world on our side. There are, I am told, 216 millions of Roman Catholics, and 232 millions of Christians who are not Roman Catholics. [I see that a Roman Catholic newspaper says this statement of mine is an error. I took it from Whitaker's Almanack, and Whitaker took it from Meyer's Lexicon.] Further, it seems to me that all these matters on which we now differ--all these things which have since been added--every single one of these spoils the simplicity and beauty, spoils the power and spiritual force, of the Catholic Creed of the Church of Christ. And every one of them, as far as I can see, rises out of that for which we have a regard. Every one of them, is an exaggeration, an excess, of that in which we feel there is a virtue and a power.


Take, for instance, our view of the Real Presence. What does Hooker tell us? His view is:--

What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not. It is enough that to me that take them they are the Body and Blood of Christ. His promise in witness hereof sufficeth; His word He knoweth which way to accomplish. Why should any cogitation possess the mind of a. faithful communicant but this--O my God, Thou art true; O my soul, thou art happy!

A member of the Catholic Church in England (a member of the Church of England) believes in a Real Presence as fully and completely as any one does, whatever view the other takes of the manner of the Presence; believes as completely as others, with as complete a respect and reverence, the statements on that point, whatever view he may take as to the actual form of the Presence. I maintain, and always have maintained, that it is impossible for us (take the case of all this large number of men here) to have a definition in words, a limitation by human words, of that spiritual presence, which shall abundantly satisfy the feelings, the aspirations, of every single one of us. And I do from my heart dislike this extreme and careful dogmatising, and defining, and limiting, by words of man's expression, that which is infinite, and cannot be limited by man, or by man's words, or by man's thoughts. The whole thing is spoiled by a careful dogmatic definition in the Roman sense, a definition which runs counter to the spiritual sense of the very large number of the Christians of the Catholic Church. And this by excluding, mind you, all other views but just that one--in itself, I must say frankly, an entirely erroneous, view--absolutely and completely. My conviction is that they have settled on a view that does not bear the light of Scripture or of the early Fathers. And there is this special harm about it, that it excludes all other views, and it narrows the faithful reception as neither our Lord nor any one of His Apostles narrowed it at all.


Take the question of the position of the Virgin Mary: the Virgin Mary, a fact and a history of tremendous power in the Catholic Church. I don't know anything so perfectly framed to meet and beat down the difficulties of women that have lived or are minded to live a life which is not a pure life. I don't know anything to compare with the putting before them the type of pure womanhood left to us in the Virgin Mary, "blessed above women." But the whole of that, to me, is spoiled by placing her between me and my Saviour as a means of access--nay, they say the means of access--to that which my Saviour has given to me freely, frankly, and fully, the moment my soul goes straight to Him. They have spoiled the whole thing by taking it--that magnificent type of pure womanhood--and setting it as a barrier, as it were, between us and our Saviour. "No access to Him but by her." [I observe that the same Roman Catholic newspaper, to which I have referred, refutes this by declaring that the Virgin Mary invites us to Christ, and does not place any barrier between us and our Saviour. I never said she did. It is a curious example of logic.]


Pious and comforting; primitive; a thing full of Christian consolation; of which our Anglo-Saxon forefathers laid hold so completely that in one runic inscription after another the inscription ends with the words "Pray for the soul." As to the view of the early Fathers on this matter, there seems to me no question that they considered it a comforting thought that as we, up to the moment of their death, pray for friends or relatives, so we do not cease to engage in that comforting communion when they have passed away. It is indeed the realisation of the fuller meaning of "the Communion of Saints," which we all of us declare that we believe. But the whole thing is spoiled; spoiled and made vulgar, made mechanical, made financial. You are told that an effect which you do not contemplate, a real change in the position of those whom you commemorate in your prayers, is to be produced; that means other than you can use are necessary; that some one else can do it, and that the scale of charges is so and so. There is no stronger example of a thing of beauty, and affection, and simplicity, being absolutely spoiled by this materialism of which we have to hear so much.


A most seemly thing. I wish we had more of that godly discipline among us. A very great improvement might be wrought by much more of this godly discipline of penance. Spoiled absolutely, and from fairly early times, by tabulating sins and their money penalty. You could commit such and such a sin, and knew what it would cost you. You could tell what the cost would be beforehand. There again, the whole thing spoiled absolutely by this gross materialism. A story is told (whether true or not) of the man who put the final touch to the long train which for centuries had been laid and was bound to explode sooner or later. It is rather a comic story that is told of Tetzel and the man who came to buy indulgences from him. He paid so much money, and then said there was a crime he wished to commit and did not want to specify. The amount said to have been put on for this was 15 per cent. more. And the crime was that the man meant to rob Tetzel and his party as they were leaving the city, to rob them of all the money they got by these indulgences. That is a ridiculous case, but it does not exaggerate the spoiling of this beautiful thing. It had got to be so gross an abuse and scandal, that the Council of Trent ordered that the abuse must be abated.


There are very many advantages about celibacy of the clergy. The Bishops of the Church of Christ in England would not be so often tried as they are with tremendous difficulties about insufficient incomes, benefices fallen in value below such and such an amount, if there were a celibate clergy. It would be much more easy to maintain--so far as money and endowments are concerned--a celibate clergy. And there are many higher advantages. Take the case of an infectious disorder breaking out. Plenty of married men, with wives and children depending on them, have gone into the arms of an infectious disorder, and risked their lives as fully, aye, and given their lives as readily, as any celibate man could do. That is the mere fact. But there is, no doubt, the power of a complete devotion of himself, without any single thought of anything material, on the part of a celibate man, which we who have wives and children depending on us cannot and ought not to attain to. There have to be thoughts of others besides ourselves, when sometimes the celibate need think of nothing of the kind. On the other hand, there have been grave evils connected with this celibacy. The history of the Church not only in England, but all over the world, is studded thick with plenty of terrible examples of the mischiefs of a celibate clergy. Those who know the history of the controversy know that, as far as the records of history go, they are against the celibacy of the clergy. They know how one great Archbishop after another has protested in the name of his Church against running this risk; greater, of course, by far, than the risk of having to find more means than if all the clergy had been celibate. And the present speaks as decidedly as the past, of the evils of compulsory celibacy, only its voice is not allowed to be heard. And, short of that, there are men living the celibate life quite as worldly-minded as any married men, and married men quite as devoted as any celibate can be. But take the advantages and the disadvantages, and you will find the advantages come from the celibacy being voluntary, and the disadvantages from its being forced on those who are not competent for it, and do not desire it. Well, they spoil it by this compulsion, by forcing it on everybody, whether a man is fit or not; and, above all, whether a nation desires it or not. I am profoundly convinced that the nation of the English desires to have a married clergy, with a large number who are celibate for one reason or another. The English desire their clergy to be a domestic class, not separated off from others by such a line of demarcation as celibacy. At any rate, the whole thing is spoiled by a cast-iron rule forcing it upon every one. It is, alas, only too true that a married clergy are not free from the sins which have brought such scandals upon enforced celibacy


Of course, the interpretation of Scripture is quite necessary. Who imagines he can take up a Euclid and understand it without help? Who thinks he can take up a really difficult book of any kind and read and understand it without any help whatever? And the most profound of all books--the book dealing with the most important and vital of all subjects--do you suppose you are going to understand and construe it by the light of nature? Interpretation of Scripture there must be, an authoritative interpretation of Scripture. There, I suppose, we are in fair agreement. But everything is spoiled again by, for instance, declaring that the later Latin version of Scripture is of equal authority with the original. A tremendous statement, one of those that drove a man I am proud to be connected with by race (though it happened three hundred years ago), that drove Bernard Gilpin to abandon the idea that the Church of England could remain in communion with the Church of Rome. And then, besides that, the extreme view of the interpretation of Scripture we should have to submit to, if we accepted this addition, as a matter of fact makes the Scriptures disappear under a tremendous load of interpretation vastly more difficult to understand than the text itself. I mean the writings of, in many cases, very obscure early fathers. The whole thing spoiled by being driven to excess.


One head of the Catholic Church of the West. A very excellent idea. I always myself recognise the Bishop of Rome as the natural, proper, head of the Catholic Church of the West. But the whole thing is spoiled again, and in this way: one human head (to my mind) means a head who has immediately beneath him an order not much below his own; then again an order a little below that again, but larger in numbers; and so on, spreading out as a fan, till you embrace the whole mass of the Catholic Church in regular descents; patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, &c. This is a beautiful idea--symmetrical, Catholic, and historical. They spoil the whole thing again by materialism; centering every thing in one man, and beating down and lowering all others, so that they are merged in some sort of common herd under the far-removed supremacy of that one man; no gradations by which the whole thing flows out to the Church Catholic. They spoil the idea of full continuity, of the flowing out of a benefit in regularity of ministration from the head down to the lowest members of the ministry.


Most excellent and Christian. That the Church is inspired by the Holy Spirit, who can doubt who reads the New Testament? Built on the rock of Christ, always drawing its life, its spiritual life, from Him, always inspired by the Holy Spirit; the voice of the Holy Ghost in the Councils of the Church; the help of the Holy Ghost in deliberations, in guidance. Who can doubt that help is poured on the Church, and has been poured on the Church abundantly, and that in that life, as a matter of fact, we are living? The whole thing spoiled again by centering all in one man--no Council to have anything to say to any decision of his, his decision not needing the approval of a Council, and not caring for opposition from a Council. His decision infallible, which is not what we claim for the whole voice of the Church, inspired ever so by the Holy Ghost. We claim that the Councils of the Church are guided by the Holy Spirit, an infallible guide; but we do not claim that an infallible guide gives infallibility even to a Church. This Church, that Church, and the other Church, has erred, and may err, and so on. And, as a matter of fact, by this very thing (personal infallibility) there is introduced a much greater uncertainty than there was before. There is, for instance, this uncertainty, that no one ever knows when, at what time, under what conditions, the infallible voice of the Bishop of Rome has spoken. If you could say absolutely that under such and such conditions the voice claims to be infallible, there might be some reason for it. I have tried every definition I can get hold of on the other side, and never got one that made it perfectly certain that, under such-and-such conditions, the infallible voice had spoken. Better have no infallible voice, than one about which you don't know when it is infallible and when it is not. Hopeless uncertainty is introduced by centering the inspiration of the Church in one man, and saying that that one man at some not clearly defined moments of his life is infallible, and at all other moments is fallible. You can tell when the Church of Christ is gathered together in a General Council; you can not tell when the Pope is exercising the inspiration which he claims. I have endeavoured to inform myself; but I do not know whether Leo XIII is as a matter of fact understood to have made any infallible utterance at all.

We hold the Catholic Faith; and where we differ from those who say we do not hold it, we hold just what they hold, up to the right point. We part from them exactly where they make it material, mechanical, contradictory, worse than nothing definite at all.


I have been speaking of Faith; I come now to the continuity of the Church in England. This does not include the British Church. We of the English Church were founded about the year 600 A.D. by Gregory, the Bishop of Rome. He founded the Church of England. He never called it anything else. "The Church of the English," "the English Church," these are the only names he ever called it. He speaks of us as quite as much a Church as the Roman When he speaks of his own Church (only once to Augustine), he said Ecclesia Romana, the Roman Church, and in the same letter he said English Church. There is no assumption of the supremacy of the one over the other. And just as he had spoken of the Roman Church and the English Church, so he calls the Church of France the Church of the Gallic provinces (Ecclesia Galliarum). He clearly acted so that when once set going we could keep ourselves going. He sent us a Bishop. He did not consecrate him himself. When the Gallican Bishops consecrated him, Gregory told him how to increase the episcopate in England, and how, when he had increased it to a certain number, it was to go on for ever. The Southern Province was to have power for ever to fill a vacancy in the Archbishopric of Canterbury. (He meant it to be London, but that is a detail.) When the vacancy occurred, the Bishops were to elect a successor and consecrate him. He never said you must ask Rome about the person you elect, and whether you may go on electing an Archbishop and consecrating him. No; but he started the Church of England on such conditions, and with such regulations, as would carry it on for ever without a single communication ever taking place of necessity between the English and Roman Churches as long as the world should last. That was the foundation which Gregory gave to the English Church; and he gave us all that is meant by Jurisdiction. He gave us the right to go on consecrating our own provincial Bishops and our Metropolitans.


Now, how was that carried out? In 747 A.D. one of the great English missionaries--and the English missionaries were famous through the whole world, and we ought to be proud of their work on the Continent, a greater work than Rome was then doing--one of those, one of the greatest men of the time, Boniface, wrote to our Archbishop Cuthbert, and advised him to do what he had persuaded the German Church to do: that when they had difficult matters, the difficult matters should be brought before the Archbishop in Synod, and if too difficult for him, should be sent to the Bishop of Rome for solution. And Archbishop Cuthbert called a Synod of the English Church to consider this question. They behaved with the discretion which, it has often been remarked, Englishmen do behave with. They considered that the proposal raised a difficult question which it was unnecessary for them to raise and discuss the relation of the Church of England to the Bishop of Rome. They passed this law, and the law of the Church of England it remained: 'if there are difficult things, too difficult for the Bishop in his diocese, let him bring them to the Archbishop in the Provincial Synod, and let the Archbishop settle them.' Not one single word of anything beyond that. Absolutely no appeal from the Provincial Synod of the Church of England. That was the declaration in 747, and not by accident, not sub silentio, or anything of that kind, but announced definitely when a definite proposal to the contrary was made. Now, that fact is a very priceless fact--a nugget in history.

We come to 1070-1080. King William owed more to the Bishop of Rome than any other sovereign had ever owed. He owed the realm of England to him; for the Pope had blessed his attempt, had consecrated his banner, and had cursed the other side. He had done even thing that an ecclesiastic of considerable secular power could do to give the kingdom to William. Lanfranc came over. He was a great supporter of the Pope. He did his best to introduce Transubstantiation. But Lanfranc helped the Church of England to keep its independence. The first detail is almost or quite comic. If we are dealing with one infallible head, as we are told, it is strange that the first thing they had to settle was, what should be done in case there were two infallible heads, two Popes at the same time. That was a common thing then. Seven per cent, of the Popes for five or six centuries had anti-Popes against them. Well, under Lanfranc they decided that the King of England alone should decide between two people who claimed to be Pope; and, what is more important, that until the King of England had decided, no one should be recognised in England as Pope. That was a curious thing to have to settle, but they did settle it. Then they determined that no letter from Rome--no bull--should pass current in England, should be allowed to be published in England, until the King had seen it, and had approved of it. And again, they decided that no ecclesiastic of high position should ever be allowed to leave the realm of England, and go to another power, without the definite permission of the King of England. See, then, how William I, owing what he did to Rome, acting as he was in concert with one who loved Rome as Lanfranc did, fenced himself all round, and fenced the Church of England all round, from interference with its independence, its autonomy, on the part of Rome.

Then, in 1115 A.D. Pascal II wrote to complain of the independent attitude of the Church of England. He declared that if it did not give up its independent attitude, he would shake off the dust of his feet against it. It did not give it up; and I don't know what he did with his feet. He said the Church of England regulated its own affairs without foreign interference--a mischievous thing from his point of view, but exactly the pride of England in the earliest times and the present. He said there was no appeal from the National Synod--a tremendous complaint from the Pope, but what we are so proud of, and stick to.

Come down to 1367. There were encroachments, ridiculous encroachments, on the part of Rome. Parliament absolutely declared that the independence of the English Church should be maintained at all hazard, and they promised to support the Bishops if they entered upon the contest and maintained the independence of the Church. They actually passed this declaration--that the Pope was to be resisted with all the power of the realm.

Then, in 1533-1535, the old story repeated. Ecclesia Anglicana, Henry calls the Church, taking exactly the name that all people had given it. I never found in history such a thing as "The Roman Church in England," or as "The English Roman Church," and so Henry VIII said. He took the old ground. "I have no one over me on earth!" Magnificent language for a great man to use. "The crown is an imperial crown," and "the spiritualty of this realm is and hath been held competent to manage its own affairs." And then, in 1535, no supreme head of the Church over the King. Under God, the sovereign is the one head over all the people, lay or cleric, over all bodies, Church or State. There must be one, not two, human heads in a well-ordered state. In England, that one head is the sovereign of England.

And, mind you, in 1553, when all this had been done, and Queen Mary came and restored the discarded accretions which had grown over the old faith, she did not profess to re-create the Church of England, as she must have done if there had been a breach of continuity. She went on with the old succession. And (one of the most marked of all things in that reference) although they degraded Cranmer, and made him to be simply Dr. Cranmer again, Reginald Pole, his successor, never allowed himself to be consecrated till Cranmer was dead; till the day that "the said Cranmer was reduced to ashes," as Bonner records in his own register, which I have had in my house for the past few weeks. He was not going to break in upon the regular succession of Archbishops of Canterbury.

And when Elizabeth came to the throne, she did not break in upon the old succession. Reginald Pole died within twenty-four hours of his sovereign, Queen Mary, and the Archbishopric of Canterbury-was rightly vacant by his death. And Queen Elizabeth recites that she joins herself on for ever to the old Church. She says the successor is "elected Archbishop of Canterbury, in place of Reginald Pole, the late holder of that see, now vacant by the death of the said Reginald." That is Elizabeth's declaration, that is the declaration of history, that the English Church passed through the Reformation, and the counter-Reformation, and came out at the end the old Church, unbroken in continuity. Pole succeeded Cranmer on Cranmer's death; Parker succeeded Pole on Pole's death.

Now, what was it, if anything, that broke our continuity as the spiritual Church of Christ in England? It must have been something, something on which we can lay our finger. Was it this, that we rejected a foreign and usurped power1? That, surely, made us more English than ever. Was it that we said our prayers in English instead of Latin? Why, as early as 670 A.D., Theodore came over, when one of the first orders he gave was that the Creed and the Lord's Prayer should be taught to everybody in the vulgar tongue. We use the same phrase in the office for baptism. And if you look into the facts in early times, people bad their liturgies, the service of the Holy Communion, in their own tongue. The Syrian had it, the Greek had it, and later than both came the Latin. They got it, not because it was Latin, but because they talked Latin. They had the liturgy put into their own natural vernacular language. They simply translated it from the Greek into the Latin because they talked Latin, just as we translated it in our turn to English because we talk English. When, in the Latin Mass, the priest says Hoc est corpus meum, he is not a bit nearer to the original than the English priest who says "This is my body"; in some ways he is further off. And therefore, to say we broke the continuity by saying our prayers in English, is really to go beyond bounds.

Did we break our continuity because we ceased to profess Purgatory and Transubstantiation? As a matter of fact, Transubstantiation was introduced comparatively late; and, curiously enough, had never been decreed to be the faith of the Church of England till something like two hundred years before the Reformation. The question was raised by violent controversy as to how our Lord is present in the Eucharist, between Franciscans and Dominicans, and it was only at the end of that controversy that Transubstantiation was declared to be the faith of the Church of England. This is one of the cases where doctrines have been added since the Nicene Creed, one of the cases where views not formulated then have been added on later as terms of communion, in this case very late.

This at least is certain, that if we are not the Church of England, there is no continuous Church of England. For, at the time of the great break in the reign of Elizabeth or Edward VI, or when you like, no one else made the slightest attempt to keep up the continuity of the Church of England, Our keeping it up was not protested against by the Roman Catholic Bishops who refused to accept the changes. Neither they, nor the people, nor the Pope, ever suggested, ever took, any steps towards it. No one thought the continuity should be kept up in a line different from ours. When Parker was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, no one else was known of as Archbishop of Canterbury. From that time down to our own time no one else claimed that the succession of the Church of England was kept up. The Roman statement now is that the Church of England ceased, and was only renewed by Pius IX when he sent Italian Bishops here after three centuries. As a matter of fact, there is no continuous Church of England if we are not that continuous Church of England. The modern Roman Church in England, which goes so far as to call itself the Catholic Church of England, is from that point of view a mere Italian excrescence of yesterday.

Now, these changes of which I have been speaking were not things done in England alone, at the time of the Reformation; it was all over the West. You know that for a century and more there had been attempts to reform the gross evils which everybody allowed. I could read you the phrase of a Pope himself, who declared that from head to foot the whole thing was full of foul and vile sores; that he could not wonder that people protested and urged redress; and that until there came a reform in the head (speaking of himself) and in the members, no good could come of it. The Catholic Church, the Church of Christ, seemed like going to shipwreck. It was all over the West that very large change was demanded. The question was the amount of change that would be accepted. Some nations took one side; some another. I should like to put this before you with regard to nations that took one side or another. One of the best historians, I suppose, in Europe, trained at the feet of a great Roman Catholic historian, and himself a Roman Catholic--Lord Acton, the newly-made Regius Professor of Modern History in my own University of Cambridge--has given a lecture on modern history. He dates the commencement of modern history from the Renaissance, the Reformation. Looking at the world as it is, he says:--

At the end of the nineteenth century, the three most important nations of the globe are those that chiefly belong to the conquests of the Reformation. . . . The centre of gravity has passed from the Latin to the Teuton, has passed from the Catholic to the Protestant.

That is the statement of Lord Acton with regard to the three or four centuries that have passed since the time of the Reformation, and that is how he differentiates the nations that chose the great changes from the nations that stayed by the old things. We are English, and not Italian. That is the root of the whole matter. The barbarous races, as they were in early times, are now the rulers of the world. We are the dominant races, and Lord Acton, the Roman Catholic Professor of Modern History, tells us that it is so.


Now I come to something more of detail. I was told that your patience was so good and great that I might even keep you beyond one hour, and I have now been a trifle more than three quarters of an hour.

The outward tests of continuity would be the preservation of the Faith, and the preservation of the Orders of the ministry. Of the preservation of the Faith I have spoken. I must now go in more detail into the question of the Orders of the ministry. And I may say no more vital question could come before you; nothing on which it is more important that you should have your minds made up and your answer ready.

The succession of the Orders of the ministry is of course involved in the succession of ordaining ministers; and the ordaining ministers are priests set apart from among other priests; as priests, not more than priests, but as bishops performing this function of ordaining, and the function of confirming, and, by general acceptance, the function of setting apart things for ever from secular for divine uses, the consecration of pieces of actual soil and of buildings.

Now in the early times of the Anglo-Saxon Church, no flaw, no do,ubt, with regard to the succession of Bishops, had ever been raised. There might be a question about the very first succession to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. Augustine did a curious thing; I doubt if it was canonical. Before his death he consecrated a man to be Archbishop of Canterbury in his place. If that was a flaw it has been set right many times since; because we none of us have our succession from Augustine; the succession of Augustine absolutely died out. Neither from Augustine, nor from any Bishop consecrated by Augustine and his immediate Italian successors--not from any one of these do we derive any scrap of our Orders. There might have been in the eyes of some people, who confuse the two ideas of an unbroken continuity of Church life and an unchanged line of succession of bishops, a flaw at the time of the Norman Conquest. There might have been a change in the succession, by a new succession of Bishops being introduced. It was not so. Lanfranc was consecrated Aug. 29, 1070, by nine Bishops of English sees. They were of various nationalities. Some were Anglo-Saxon, carrying on the Anglo-Saxon succession in blood and Order; one or more were Teuton; and four or so were Norman. Thus, by that body of nine, was Lanfranc, the first Norman Archbishop, consecrated to be Archbishop of the Church of England. No flaw there.

There might have been a break at the Rebellion; for, from 1644 to 1660, no Bishop was consecrated in England during the time of the Commonwealth; and at the time of the Restoration of Charles II, out of twenty-seven sees then in England, only the holders of nine survived. You see it said in history that if the Restoration had been delayed ten years there would not have been a single English Bishop left, because the last of those nine died in 1670. But, in the providence of God, it was not delayed, and there was no breach in the continuity of succession of bishops in the Church of England. These nine bishops (such of them as were competent to act, for some of them were very old) consecrated successors, and the whole of the English sees were properly filled.

There might have been a break at the Revolution (1691). In the time of William III no less than six bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, went out because they could not take the oath to a second Sovereign. So long as James II did not absolve them from allegiance they could not swear allegiance to another. But the succession went on.


But now we must come to the really critical point, the question of the consecration of Parker. I have told you that the Church of England had a right, nine and a half centuries old and more in Parker's time, to elect and consecrate its provincial Bishops and the Archbishops. The Church of England had a right to elect and consecrate an Archbishop of Canterbury to fill a proper vacancy, and the death of Pole made a proper vacancy. There was no uncanonical exclusion, such as Mary had resorted to, such as Elizabeth resorted to. There was simply a vacancy, and it was filled. How was it filled? As you know, by Parker. And, as I have said, no one else ever claimed to have filled it. There is no claim to be Archbishop of Canterbury as against Parker's, who was the only person who filled the place.

We had a right to do it. The question is, was it rightly done? You may have a right to do a thing, and yet not do it rightly. Parker was consecrated by four Bishops. Usually the other Archbishop and two or three other Bishops would consecrate. This was the unusual case of both Metropolitan sees being vacant at the same time. To make it quite safe under these special circumstances, every one of the four said all the words of consecration. That was to make quite sure, supposing there was any difficulty about four provincial Bishops consecrating an Archbishop. Not that there really was any difficulty. Gregory made that perfectly clear; he said the provincial Bishops should consecrate. We must consider the cases of these four Bishops.

The first was Barlow. He was consecrated in 1536 under the old Ordinal, the unreformed Ordinal of Henry VIII. About the use of that Ordinal there can be no flaw at all. It was the old thing pure and simple, and no one can call in question that Ordinal. There is a difficulty about Barlow, as there is about many of the Bishops of the time; though you have the document of his election, though you have the document declaring his confirmation, though you have (we got it this year) the document declaring the restoration of the temporalities, you have not (and it is so in the case of many Bishops at the time) the actual document which says that on such and such a day he was consecrated Bishop. This is true of a considerable number of the Bishops of the time, consecrated while they still held the unreformed faith, as well as of Barlow.

As to other difficulties raised about Barlow, it is curious that the researches of this year [That is, 1895] should have cleared up one and another. He was described as "commendatory Prior" of a certain abbey, and it was said he could not have been that, because the abbey had not been dissolved, and so was not held in commendam. Now, there was discovered at the Record Office only this spring the document that gave to Henry VIII that abbey, the title-deeds of the whole thing, the one document that Henry VIII and his advisers would be determined to see was right; and actually, in that vital document, Barlow, the man who makes the grant of the whole thing to the King, is described by that very phrase which our Roman friends say show us that what we assert about him is nonsense. As "Prior or Perpetual Commendator" he resigned the property. That is one instance where investigations this very year have cleared up difficulties concerning Barlow. I should like to read you just this, from Tract No. I of the Church Historical Society:

Barlow, who was appointed in 1536, acted as undisputed Bishop for the last ten years of Henry VIII's reign, and we must remember that the King, to the end of his life, strongly upheld the old doctrinal system. He had, moreover, a law-suit with his Dean and Chapter at St. David's, who would at once have won their case if they could have proved him no true Bishop. It is incredible that a man, elected to one bishopric after another, never proceeded to consecration, and yet was accepted as a consecrated Bishop by every one, either deceiving the King, the Primate, the Bishops, and all concerned, or having them all as his accomplices. This point is well put by the Roman Catholic historian Lingard: "When we find Barlow during ten years, the remainder of Henry's reign, constantly associated with the other consecrated Bishops, discharging with them all the duties, both spiritual and secular, of a consecrated Bishop, summoned equally with them to Parliament and Convocation, taking his seat among them according to seniority; it seems most unreasonable to suppose, without direct proof, that he had never received that sacred rite, without which, according to the laws of both Church and State, he could not have become a member of the episcopal body."

We next come to Hodgkyn (1537). He also was consecrated under the old Ordinal as suffragan-Bishop of Bedford; that is, he, like Barlow, was consecrated with the form of service which was used in "Roman Catholic" times, and at the time of his consecration held the unreformed faith. But you may say, what had a suffragan-Bishop to do with a consecration? Well, I have had Bonner's register in my possession, and I have looked through the whole of the ordinations by Bonner down to Edward VI's time, and of sixty-four different ordinations in the diocese of London, Bonner took only one himself, and sixty of them were taken by Hodgkyn. He represented the Bishop of London in those ordinations. He was invited to assist in consecrating Bishops in 1540, 1541, 1542, 1547-It was a regular settled thing with the non-reformed Church in Henry VIII's time that Hodgkyn, suffragan-Bishop of Bedford, acted as an ordaining and consecrating Bishop. Those facts about the ordinations are quite new, and the idea is now disposed of that it was irregular for him to assist at the consecration of Parker.

Then we have Scory, consecrated Bishop in 1551 under the new Ordinal. But in this same register I am delighted to find an entry by Bonner that Scory had been deprived of his see by Queen Mary, and had come to live in London, and had purged himself to Bonner of the fault of marrying a wife in Edward VI's time, and had now put away his wife. And the Bishop of London, Bonner, reinstated him, and gave him authority to perform the pastoral office in the diocese of London, thus completely recognising up to the very hilt the validity of the Orders of Scory. The fourth was Coverdale, consecrated under the same Ordinal in 1551; and if, as Bonner allowed, Scory's Orders were valid, so were Coverdale's.

Here, in the case of Parker, is the break, if there is a break, in the continuity of the succession of bishops in the Church of England. I cannot conceive any consecration that could be carried out with greater care, considering the circumstances. There was almost a complete clearance of Bishops. About half the bishoprics were vacant through deaths. Tunstall died before Parker was consecrated. Of the others, four had been put by Queen Mary into the places of persons uncanonically expelled by her; put into places that were not vacant. Four were similarly expelled by Queen Elizabeth; and I am glad that, in this respect, it was at least an even-drawn battle. Three others of Mary's Bishops were not intruders in the sense of being thrust into places not vacant, but were not put into their sees by any provincial authority at all, only by an overriding bull from the Pope, which we did not recognise in England from the earliest times. That gave to them a taint of irregularity of which we might make a good deal, All these circumstances rendered extreme care necessary; and extreme care was taken by Queen Elizabeth and her advisers, so that all things might be as far as possible free from cavils. Our Roman friends have much greater difficulties to get over, in the succession of Bishops of Rome, than we in the succession of Parker.


One more point. It is said, that is all very well; but the people who consecrated had no intention of making a Bishop, and the Ordinal of Edward VI had no intention of making a Bishop; and your book has no intention of making a Priest. When you come to the question of Intention, you know what the very vague Roman definition or declaration says:--that the minister must have at least the intention of doing what the Church does, or the thing is not valid.

Now, it is possible for a person intentionally not to have intention. There was a Romanist lecture given at Kensington by Mr. Riving-ton some little time ago, and this question was put after the lecture--Supposing the person who ordained the present Pope withheld his intention to ordain, what then? Or, supposing a priest--as some of the priests who have left the Roman Church assert has been the case--intentionally withheld the intention to celebrate a sacrament, what then? The answer was: It is perfectly simple; we have perfect confidence that in that case Almighty God steps in, supplies what is lacking, and conveys the sacrament or the ordination. Therefore, by their own shewing, intention is of no value at all; for if the priest is wicked enough even intentionally to withhold his intention, then they are perfectly certain Almighty God steps in and supplies what is lacking, and conveys the sacrament. Much more, of course, when carelessness, or ignorance, not malicious wickedness, has prevented the right intention. In other words, the Kensington Romans, when questioned, have flung overboard the whole teaching of their Church on intention. I wonder what the Pope will say to them.

Well, then, it is said the words were not used: "Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God." The latter words were added in 1662. The words were in 1549 and 1552, "Receive the Holy Ghost." What was intended is expressed by the Church. The preface to the English Ordinal was as follows, at its first issue in 1549:--

It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy scripture, and ancient authors, that from the Apostles, time there hath been these orders of Ministers in Christ's church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. . .. And therefore, to the intent that these orders should be continued, and reverently used, and esteemed, in this Church of England, it is requisite, that no man (not being at this present Bishop, Priest, nor Deacon) shall execute any of them, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted, according to the form hereinafter following.

If ever a Church did declare its intention, the Church did it there. The very word is used, "to the intent that." And notice the definite assertion of the intent to maintain the continuity of Orders in "this Church of England," no new Church, "this Ecclesia Anglicana." After that it is ridiculous to have any question as to the intention of the people who consecrated Bishops, who gave consecration in the really old form of words, omitting what was not in the oldest form, the actual name and description of the office of Bishop. But, as if expressly to meet any such objection, the Ordinal of 1549 provided that at the time of the service two bishops should present the bishop-elect to the Archbishop in these words:--"Most reverend Father in God, we present unto you this godly and well-learned man to be consecrated Bishop." And after that the Romans venture to say that the service of 1549 had not the intention of consecrating a Bishop! And the bishop-elect is, to take an oath, in these words:--"I, N., chosen Bishop of the Church and see of N., &c." The same is true throughout of the Ordinal of 1552. You can compare it all for yourselves with the Prayer Book of to-day. And they tell us that the Ordinals of 1549 and 1552 were invalid because they did not name the office, "bishop," at the consecration!

About the ordination of priests. We are told our ordination of priests is void because we don't, at their ordination, hold out to them the paten and chalice (what is called "the porrection") as symbols of their office. It is quite a late thing to do. I have been talking of our holding the Catholic faith, as defined by certain great Councils. You have to come centuries and centuries below that before you find anything like the introduction of this symbol. In 1665, the learned French Oratorian, Morinus, proved that this "porrection of the instruments" was unknown to the Church for a thousand years (and was still not used in the Eastern Church; and it is not used in the Eastern Church to this day), so that it could not possibly be required as a necessary ceremony. Yet we are told our ordination of priests is invalid, and because that ceremony is not performed. It is an interesting, it may be, an essential fact, that the Ordinal of 1549 directed that "the chalice or cup with the bread" be put in the priest's hands, after the imposition of hands, that is, after the ordination. The Ordinal of 1552 omitted this, and yet left the declaration of intention in the preface untouched. The force of this is clear.

Finally, it is objected that our Ordinal has not the intention of giving the power of sacrifice in the Eucharist at the ordination of priests. I am not careful to answer or to inquire how far that has to do with priests of the Church of England. But I take the question as it comes from the Roman Catholic, and I give him his answer on his own ground. And it is this: ordination is ordination to an office, and therefore to all the functions that belong to that office. We ordain a priest to be "a dispenser of the Word of God and of His holy sacraments," and whatever is necessary to the order of priest is conveyed in that old form of words. It is not necessary to specify one function in particular. We do not do it. The Early Church did not do it. For in the earliest form of ordination, both Eastern and Western, there is, at most, only a vague reference to sacrifice, and no reference to sacrifice in connection with the Holy Eucharist.

These are the substantive objections made to our Orders, and I have, to the best of my knowledge and belief, dealt faithfully with you and with them. And, as far as I can see, I have met the objections on these various grounds to the continuity of the Church of England, the Holy Catholic Church in England. I care very little in itself about meeting these objections; and I have desired to give you a solid mass of reasons for yourselves holding our principles, no matter what controversy there may be. I never care to be in a negative position merely, only replying to objections made. I have given to you those solid grounds on which I myself am, to the bottom of my soul, convinced that we have, and have had throughout, complete continuity of the life of the Holy Catholic Church in England.


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