Imatges de pÓgina

the State's interference, and disregard its enactments.'5 Certainly matters in this respect have not improved since Mr. Keble's days. The claims of the State and the gravity of its judgments in matters of the divine law and spiritual learning' have continued to be no less distressing, and the powers claimed no less absolute.

Two securities ought surely to be provided in reference to final appeals if ever peace is to be restored to the Church. Some spiritual persons representing the Church ought to act as a body of referees or experts, to declare what its doctrine or usage, in any case brought before the court, is, as a guide to the judges hearing an appeal; and, secondly, Convocation ought to be in living action, with power at need to explain or amend documents which may not with sufficient clearness express the mind of the Church. Though there are episcopal assessors appointed under the Judicature Act of 1876, yet they do not profess to be representatives even of the episcopate.

The latest cause of distress, and what has called out the immediate agitation that prevails, is the Public Worship Regulation Act, which is unquestionably the greatest innovation in the methods of ecclesiastical jurisdiction which has taken place within our memory. Its history is so important, as showing the present mode of managing Church affairs, that it seems necessary to give it in some detail.

A bill was brought into the House of Lords by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the regulation of all matters connected with the divine service, the provisions of which, as they were not in the main carried out, it is not worth while to specify; but they did not propose to make any material alterations in the constitution either of the diocesan or the provincial courts. There was at first no intention of referring the bill to the consideration of Convocation; but, this being pressed, the draft, subsequently to its introduction into Parliament, was sent down to the Lower House of Convocation attached to certain general questions as to the Church Discipline Acts. This draft of the bill was freely and adversely commented on, and was then referred to a committee. This committee proposed large and fundamental alterations, and the report was ordered to be taken to the Upper House with a request that the objections and amendments contained in it might be considered. During the debate strong objections were urged by men of very different views against any legislation of the kind proposed. During the progress of the bill, however, in the House of Lords, it was fundamentally changed by Lord Shaftesbury's amendment, and the bill thus amended never came before Convocation in any shape whatever. This amendment was of the most eventful kind, constituting a single common law judge for all cases within the scope of the bill, thus superseding practically the provincial and diocesan courts as far as its special purposes were concerned. Moreover, this judge was to have a right of succession both to the Arches and to


A Call to Speak Out.' Occasional Papers and Reviews, Keble, p. 223. Parker & Co., Oxford.

the Chancery Court of York in the event of vacancies occurring in the two offices, and this without any fresh appointment, solely by virtue of the Act of Parliament. It was, in fact, a complete revolution in the system of Church judicature, and at the time great surprise was expressed that an amendment involving such consequences was carried, after but little discussion, by a large majority, both archbishops voting for it, and thirteen bishops, whilst none voted on the other side, though objections were suggested by two or three, indeed by the archbishops themselves. The new judge was to be appointed, subject to the control of the Crown, by the archbishops, but on their not agreeing by the Crown itself direct. It was even proposed by a leading and influential peer to go a further step still, and give the nomination of the judge simply to the Crown. In the House of Commons the bill appears to have been carried under a panic, and was made a party triumph, the Prime Minister taking advantage of the adverse excitement caused by Mr. Gladstone's resolutions proposing greater freedom for the Church as to divine service, on which the Prime Minister clenched the force of his appeal to the House by a 'No Popery' cry, under the now famous assertion of the purpose of the bill being to put down Ritualism.'. Mr. Hubbard's amendment, specifying omissions or neglects as subjectmatters to be corrected by the bill equally with additions or commissions, was a kind and dispassionate attempt to mitigate the manifest one-sidedness of the measure; but the partisanship already fully stamped upon it must ever cling to it as long as it remains on the statute-book, even as it is now practically being worked only by one party in the Church for the purpose of attacking another and less popular one.

The bill, in its earlier shape, was submitted to the Lower House of the Convocation of York, as to that of Canterbury, and a discussion took place. A resolution was moved to the effect that the thanks of this House be hereby tendered to His Grace the Lord Primate for his endeavour to effect such legislation, and that this House records the general approval of His Grace's bill;' but this resolution was negatived. As amended by Lord Shaftesbury, the bill was never presented to the House.

An important return has been made to the House of Lords, at the instance of Lord Limerick, of the form of appointment of Lord Penzance in contrast with that of his predecessors in the Arches, Dr. Lushington and Sir Robert Phillimore. The changes exhibited in this return are very remarkable. Dr. Lushington and Sir Robert Phillimore were appointed by the Primate, acting freely on his own authority by right of his see, conveying by a direct commission the right of receiving appeals and inflicting ecclesiastical censures, the judge appointed being required to be learned in canon law, &c., and to declare solemnly his belief in the Thirty-nine Articles—in fact, giving similar guarantees to those required for holy orders. The

appointment was afterwards ratified and confirmed by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury. In the case of Lord Penzance the appointment is only to be judge under the Act, and for the purposes of the Act, and is made by virtue of the powers given by the Act. He succeeded to the Arches on a vacancy occurring in that court, not by a fresh appointment from the archbishop, but ipso facto by virtue of the Act, which gives the right of succession. There is no qualification required as to the knowledge of canon law, or belief in any form of doctrine, but only an acknowledgment of being a member of the Church of England. The appointment is afterwards confirmed, not by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, but by Mr. Cross, as Her Majesty's Secretary of State.

The conduct of the bishops in acceding to the bill, especially as it cut off a material part of their jurisdiction, has been much commented on. It is to be remembered that the bishops were exposed at the time to ceaseless violent attacks in a highly excited state of the popular mind, changes in the service having caused great alarm, as changes in accustomed usages always do, and an imperfectly instructed people being unable to discriminate between English Catholicity and Romanism. There was also a very strong prejudice, and not unnaturally, against the old Church courts in their present condition as cumbersome, slow, and costly; and an impatient age, unfavourable to institutions, cared not to reform them. Moreover, the bishops were powerless to meet new emergencies, because the staff of constitutional government was broken. Bishops without synods or councils of presbyters are like Samson with the mystical lock of hair shorn off. The extreme difficulties of the position of the bishops have hardly been sufficiently considered.

It has always been an ominous thing to interfere with the freedom of episcopal jurisdiction, which is, indeed, the first element of Church jurisdiction. Both in cause and effect such interference has always marked the progress of Papal absolutism, as notably of late in the prostration of episcopal authority accompanying the dogma of Papal infallibility. By the same rule the recent interference by Parliament with the diocesan courts is more than a straw which marks the current of the wind.

The momentous character of the changes made by the Public Worship Regulation Act, when viewed in the light of the constitutional relations between Church and State, will be readily perceived. The changes are, speaking roughly, as follows:-The diocesan courts practically superseded in all matters connected with the divine service; the bishops reduced to being umpires between the complainants and defendants, when willing to submit to them in any cause; the complainants and defendants alike deprived of any right of appeal in case of such reference to the bishop; a court, though not in name, instituted alongside the Arches, yet assuming the name of the Arches, which is to act as a court of first instance throughout

England, while the Arches is properly only an appellate tribunal; the archbishops deprived of the right inherent in their sees of appointing their official principals, and instead appointing the judge of this new court, who is to become their joint provincial judge, their choice checked by the necessity of mutual agreement and also by the approval of the Crown, or, on their not agreeing, the appointment resting solely with the Crown; the judge of this new court no longer required to be a civilian or learned in canon law, but any judge of common law or barrister of ten years' standing; coercive power to enforce sentences, as we have seen, if need be, by imprisonment; and bishops required to act out the decisions of the new judge as instruments of the court. It has been thought, and no doubt is, an alleviation of the severity of the Act, that the bishop can stay its proceedings, and prevent a complaint coming before the court; but it is to be observed that the bishop has to give his reasons in writing, and it is thought by some that only some very strong grounds would warrant the exercise of this restraining power, and that the bishop would readily be compelled by mandamus to let the complaint proceed.

If we contrast the present state of things indicated by the facts which have been adduced with the Reformation settlement, as embodied in the statutes and documents already quoted, it is clear that the contract, if it may be so called, has not been observed. From whatever cause, the engagements on the part of the State obviously have not been carried out. The denial to Convocation of anything of coordinate legislation in Church matters, the modification of the Church courts at pleasure, the bringing the appointment of the judges of the Church courts under the control of Parliament, the retaining in its hands the power of defining and interpreting the Church's doctrinal and ceremonial statements through the Supreme Court composed of lay judges solely of its own appointment, the exercise of direct coercive power over the clergy in their spiritual functions-these assumed prerogatives, coupled with the appointment of the bishops without any consultation with the Church, tend more and more to place the Church in complete subjection to the State. And it is only that vigour of independent life instinctively animating Englishmen, in spiritual as in civil matters, brought out, perhaps, more earnestly into play as a reaction against unconstitutional wrongs, which has supplied in some measure what is wanting in the legitimate order, and, as one of the greatest wonders of this active period of our history, with the blessing and unfailing guardianship of Almighty God, together with much personal sympathy and kindness on the part of the bishops, has helped to develope the action of the Church spite of all her difficulties and in the face of all her adversaries. As the power of the Crown declined, Parliament, obtaining the preponderance in all departments of the State, has unavoidably assumed the rights of the Royal Supremacy; and as formerly the Crown

overstepped the limits which, by the presumed compact, defined its supremacy, e.g. in the case of the High Commission Court and the Star Chamber, so Parliament has usurped powers which properly belong and had been pledged to the Church. It would seem as if the State were avenging itself on the Church, in recollection of the days now long gone by when the Church, or rather, perhaps, leading churchmen exercising the power of the State, really oppressed it, and sought their own ends in the wrong done. But if the present tendencies of State autonomy continue to develope, and freer action of its divine powers be denied to the Church, it would be more true to alter the terms of the oath taken by priests at their ordination, and, instead of their vowing to minister the doctrine, and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the law hath commanded, and as this Church and realm hath received the same,' to spare them the scruples arising from the manifest inconsistency between what is assumed and what is actually done, and admit openly the change that is rapidly going on, in imposing on them what alone the realm has received.'


The danger of the present crisis arises from the pressure of coercive measures, resting on such authority as has been indicated, meeting with a determined resistance which is thought to be justified on constitutional principles. As, in our past national history, such conflicts between conscientious convictions on the one side, and unconstitutional authority on the other, have not ordinarily subsided till the principles contended for have triumphed, so in these theological disputes the question of the future must depend on the truth of the principles asserted; but there is surely ground to apprehend the continuance of the struggle till either the State has granted the liberty desired, or the Church has set itself free of its control. That a great impulse has been given to the disestablishment movement is evident, its promoters from without the Church deriving a fresh stimulus from the sight of our present disorders, and those from within cherishing the belief that truth can be asserted and real Church order be carried out only by such means. It is a time for most earnest thought on the part of all who regard the highest interests both of the Church and the State. Neither the Church nor the State has ever gained by wrong done to the other, and power unduly used never fails to react to the injury of those who thus use it. It will be most lamentable if there is no other end to the present disorder but disestablishment. Whatever may be the possible gain, whether to the State of the avoidance of a religious difficulty, or to the Church of the possession of the power to express her own mind and order her own affairs freely, yet for both statesmen and churchmen it is most necessary to consider what disestablishment means. Disestablishment, if accompanied, as it surely will be, by disendowment, means to the State the loss of its most powerful ally for promoting order and conservative principles, and the shaking to their very foundations of all institutions, even to

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