Imatges de pàgina

and candid persons to be right, and alone completely consonant with the various historical facts and documents that have been brought under consideration. In the first place the unhesitating language of the distinguished men who, at least, formed the majority of the tribunal, cannot fail to produce, as it has produced, a very strong impression on the minds of impartial readers. When men of the great legal knowledge, high character, and singular acumen of the present Lord Chancellor tell us that they have not felt any hesitation as to the decision at which they ought to arrive, all persons who have any ordinary modesty must feel persuaded that, somehow or other, these eminent persons must be right, even though they themselves may fail distinctly to see it. And this has obviously been felt by all the really competent critics who have carefully reviewed the judgment. The mere party gladiators that have used the foolish and violent invective, in lieu of more effective weapons, against this judgment, to which we have already alluded, simply count for nothing. Their folly and violence put them altogether out of the consideration of reasonable people, and leave us quite free to regard their comments on the judgment as simply and entirely unworthy of any answer, and only deserving to be treated with the charitable and equitable censure of complete silence. We revert then to the assertion that all competent critics, though not all sympathising with the final ruling on considerations of policy, have not failed to feel the evident correctness of the law of the judgment. To take a single instance, we may notice that, in the probably best and clearest of the adverse criticisms on this judgment that appeared soon after its promulgation, the admission is frankly made that there is strong reason to think that the framers of the ornaments rubric did mean the rubric to be qualified in the manner which the judgment specifies. And similar admissions have been made in every intelligent criticism that we have yet seen.

The legal result is thus apparently felt to be right, and sometimes even admitted to be so; and yet the plain fact seems to remain, that, to use the words of a venerable and well-known leader of High Church opinion, the judgment does interpret in a non-natural sense the rubric upon which the judgment turns;' or, to take the language of a recent resolution affirmed by some 300 clergymen, that the judgment “is clearly contrary to the plain meaning of the rubric. And yet it cannot be denied that the framers of the judgment have this substantial fact in their favour, that there is not a shred or scrap of evidence that the learned persons who originally formulated the rubric, or that the Church and nation, either at the time or for 200 years afterwards, ever understood the rubric as permitting the use of vestments to the parish priest. It has, indeed, been assumed by as learned an ecclesiastical judge as Sir Robert Phillimore, that the Puritan party at the Savoy Conference objected to this particular rubric as being of dangerous import and possibly bringing back the vestments; but this misapprehension was rectified by the Purchas judgment, and the fact may now be said to remain unchallenged, that for 200 years nobody ever claimed this rubric as either expressly or inferentially directing the parish priest to use the vestments. Nay, more, as shall be clearly shown in the sequel, it would have been strange indeed if it had been otherwise. How any one who can understand the difference between a broad declaration as to the general usage of the Church of England (our present rubric) and a special direction to each individual minister (the rubric of the two former Prayer Books) could ever have supposed that the present ornaments rubric either directs or permits every individual minister, parochial as well as capitular, to use the vestments, is to us one of the most remarkable instances of ecclesiastical hallucination to be met with in the history of the last quarter of a century. There is not a word in the rubric which can be forced into implying that the rubric is to be regarded, or ought to be regarded, as a specific directory rubric for the guidance of the individual minister. It states generally the usage of the Church of England; and, in the retention of the cope and surplice, that usage remains to the present hour.

But all this shall be set forth plainly and, we hope, convincingly in a later portion of the article. At present we are only noticing the judgment in its broad and general aspects, and in the light in which it appears to have been generally received by the majority of friends and foes. And this, we fear, must be conceded, that it is hardly fully convincing. It has placed before the Church several important and incontrovertible facts, but in its conclusions it does not seem to have made quite the best of them. It has safe premisses to rest upon, but the completed argument is not thoroughly persuasive.

he threads are strong, but they are not drawn together as sharply as they might have been, and one of the strongest threads--this is the chief comment we venture to make on the document—has not been drawn in at all. The result is, as we have already said, that the judgment does not fully satisfy even those who wish to be satisfied ; and yet the feeling remains that the decision is right, and that, if one could only get to a right point of view of the whole details, one could see it oneself, and with no great difficulty make others see it also. Let us try if we can find this point, and, by a plain consideration of the judgment, indicate where the framers of it appear to have stopped a little short, and how, consequently, they failed to be guided completely up to the spot where the undoubted difficulties of the case all ultimately disappear.

Let us, then, now turn to the document itself, and consider it somewhat in detail. Let us, however, in doing so prescribe to ourselves this very necessary rule—not to be tempted to wander into the many mazes of historical and archæological minutiæ which lie on every side of us. All the facts carefully winnowed are now before

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All the subordinate points, legal and historical, are now pretty accurately ascertained. We have thus nothing more to do than to take the judgment in our hands, and examine for ourselves, in a plain and common-sense way, not merely whither it ultimately leads us, but what is the precise nature of the path along which we are brought to our legal destination.

The Committee of Privy Council had, it will be remembered, four points under their consideration the legality or otherwise of the vestments; the position of the minister, in reference to the Lord's table, during the prayer of consecration in the Communion Service; the lawfulness of a crucifix over a chancel screen; and the use of wafer bread for sacramental purposes. It is only in regard of the first and second of these points that there can be said to be any really great interest; and of these two it is again only the first in which the criticisers of the judgment are especially exercised. In reference to the second point—the eastward position—all reasonable people are perfectly satisfied. Though the judgment does not expressly declare the legality per se of the eastward as well as of the northward position of the chief officiating minister, it does undoubtedly so far leave the eastward position presumably not illegal (unless the manual acts are hidden from view) that it is not at all likely, as we have already said, that the question will ever again be raised in the courts. We may therefore dismiss from our present consideration everything except what relates to the vestments, contenting ourselves simply with the remark that all unprejudiced members of the Church of England must be thankful for decisions on these questions which must not only commend themselves to the good sense of the community, but must also, when the smoke of controversy has blown away, go very far towards bringing peace to all who desire to have peace in our Church at the present time. A great many foolish and provocative comments have been made even on these portions of the judgment; but of these it is really not necessary to take any notice whatever. There are unreasonable people in the Church, and we suppose there will be unreasonable people to the end. They may even have their uses-probably foolometric--in the body corporate ; but, however this may be, they are certainly persons on whom all argument is wasted, and to whose criticisms it is really waste of time to pay the slightest attention.

We confine ourselves, then, to the subject of the vestments, and to the tenor of the judgment on this hotly contested question.

Passing over the introductory sentences in which the Judicial Committee indicate the desirableness and even necessity of reviewing a decision that might, not unnaturally, have been regarded as final, we come to the statement of the argument of the appellant. This, we learn, may be summed up in three syllogistic sentences. (a) The ornaments rubric in the Revised Prayer Book of 1662 is now the only law as to the vesture of the clergy. (6) It authorises the use of all ornaments which bad the parliamentary authority of the First Prayer Book of Edward the Sixth. (c) The vestments in question are among the ornaments which had this parliamentary authority: therefore it authorises the use of the vestments in question.

Of these three sentences, the Judicial Committee deny the statement of the first, and challenge the use of the term "authorise' in the second.

On the latter point it seems impossible to deny the conclusiveness of the comments of the Judicial Committee. It must be admitted by every candid and impartial reader to be made as clear as the day that if, as is contended, the ornaments rubric be the only law as to the ministerial dress of the clergy, it must be understood not simply to permit or to authorise, but distinctly to direct and to enjoin. This is made perfectly clear ; but it certainly should have been added—for this is the key of the whole position, and the guiding thought of the whole—that if the present rubric be thus imperative and obligatory, and if, as is alleged, it is the only formulary which directs each individual clergyman as to the ministerial dress which it is obligatory upon him to wear, then it is extremely difficult to understand why it was expressed in the general non-individualising and passive form in which now we find it [' The ornaments ... shall be in use nd be retained', and still more difficult to understand why it was substituted for the perfectly specific and individually directive form ["The minister . . . shall use,' &c.], which was the form already on the first page of the Prayer Book.

This is the really guiding thought throughout the labyrinth—the distinct change of general form in the present rubric, in addition to the changes in detail and if it had only been early indicated in the judgment, and afterwards sharply brought out in the sequel, we should never have heard anything about non-natural interpretations and alleged miscarriages of justice.

The thought here indicated we shall endeavour to bring home to the reader at the proper place in the argument; but it seems to contribute to clearness here at the very outset to bring it into prominence, and to prepare the reader for the direction which the legal argument will ultimately take.

We now return to the judgment, and to the points with which it successively deals.

Having disposed of the assumption that the present rubric may be understood not so much to enjoin as to authorise, and having thus in effect demolished the theory of a maximum and minimum observance in reference to the vestments, the judgment proceeds carefully to investigate the first statement-viz. that the ornaments rubric is now the only law as to the vesture of the clergy. This investigation obviously involves an accurate setting forth of the state of the law prior to the Caroline Act of Uniformity and the rubric of 1662, and brings before us this historical question, How did matters stand in the reign of Elizabeth, and in the hundred years prior to the appearance of our present Prayer Book ?'

Here the Judicial Committee, with great clearness and, as it seems to us, perfectly unanswerable arguments, establish the following positions: (1) That Queen Elizabeth did take other order' according to the tenor of the provisos contained in the concluding sections of the Act of Parliament passed in the first year of her reign, and annexed to the Second Book of Edward the Sixth, that book being altered in a few specified particulars. (2) That what we may call, for convenience, the ornaments rubric, in the Prayer Book (of Elizabeth) so altered and issued, was not inserted by any authority of Parliament, but was only meant to be a compendious and convenient summary of the enactment. It was, however, not a perfectly accurate summary. It so far restrained the general terms of the act as to convert them into a direction to the individual minister. This will be at once apparent if we subjoin first the words of the act, and next the admonitory, but (so far as Parliament is concerned) non-authorised note.

The words of the act are :

Provided always, and be it enacted, that such ornaments of the church, and of the ministers thereof, shall be retained and be in use, as was in this Church of England by authority of Parliament in the second year of King Edward the Sixth, until other order shall be therein taken by the authority of the Queen's Majesty: with the advice of her Commissioners appointed under the great seal of England for causes ecclesiastical, or of the metropolitan of this realm.

The reader will not fail to observe the very broad and general statement of this proviso, as well as the curious and, we believe, unusual expression “the metropolitan (singular] of this realm.' The meaning, however, of the clause is abundantly clear: 'Let those ornaments of the church and vestures of the ministers, that had the sanction of the First Book of Edward the Sixth, be now in use, and be retained in use until further order is taken.'

The inserted note or memorandum is more restrictive, and assumes the form of a direction to the minister, but falls back for its justification on the act.

And here it is to be noted that the minister at the time of the Communion, and at all other times in his ministration, shall use such ornaments in the church as were in use by authority of Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth, according to the Act of Parliament set forth in the beginning of this book.

The note or memorandum thus individualises, but in so doing it cannot be pressed as authoritatively identifiable with the words of the act. The persons who issued the book are alone responsible for the memorandum. As the judgment distinctly says, “If the note was

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