ePub 版


convocation, who would condemn the board, which had condemned the tractarians, who had convened the assembly of divines who condemned the regius professor of theology, in the University of Oxford: whilst, in the same paper, it was stated a few days before (6th March, 1841) that the Tractarian sect originated at a meeting held in the summer of 1833, at the house of the domestic chaplain of the archbishop of Canterbury. The letter in the Times names the bishops of Exeter, Chester, Chichester, Winchester, London, and Salisbury, as having issued injunctions warning the clergy against the doctrines of the Puseyites. The leading article of the Times of the same day, alleges, however, that some of these same bishops have seconded the teaching the same divines upon controverted points of the “greatest importance," and appeals to the candour of the writer of the letter in confirmation of the fact.

Such are a few of the outward and sensible symbols of unity which we discovered in one department of the AngloHibernian establishment.

A considerable number of clergymen, of a different class from the preceding (" of conservative politics and evangelical sentiments”-Times, March 9), petitioned the House of Lords, in the course of the last session, for a change in the liturgy, articles, and canons (for a new stock, lock, and barrel); and the bishop of Norwich observed in the course of the debate, that " among the numberless clergymen with whom he had spoken upon the subject he had never yet met a single one who allowed that he agreed in all points to the subscription which he took at ordination” (Appeal, p. 16); that is to say, who really believed what he professed to believe: whilst the bishop of London stated in the same debate, “that he had never met with a single clergyman who did not express his unqualified belief in the whole” (Ibid. p. 25): declaring at the same time, that he should, for his own part, consider himself as “eating the bread of the Church unworthily, if he were to subscribe any articles which he did not implicitly believe.” (p. 25.) From which it is quite evident that the bishop of London has never had, as he expressed it, “ the misfortune to meet a single oneof the numberless clergymen with whom the bishop of Norwich is acquainted; or with the petitioning clergy of 1833 or 1841, who stated that some of the canons were inexpedient, and some of them impracticable (whilst all were obligatory upon the clergy, who were obliged to profess an adherence to the whole); and that some deviations from


the authorised forms and positive obligations of the Church, were found to be so advisable that such deviations had already been actually carried into very general practice. (Appeal, xii.) Whilst, again, the author of the Appeal declares that “it is admitted that our canons neither are nor can be enforced ; that our clergy are not compelled to observe them except by the diocesan, and that our bishops are not under any obligation to enforce them ” (p. 127); and that it is notorious, “ that neither our clergy are punished for transgressing them, nor our bishops for neglecting to enforce an obedience to them.” (p. 128.) And we learn from the same source (p. 133), that a “publication used as a test-book in the Universities for the instruction of even candidates for orders, expressly maintains the doctrine that subscription to the articles implies no more than that the party subscribing will not enter into any controversy upon the points to which the articles relate.”

The Bishop of Norwich declared that the Church of England was founded upon liberty of conscience, and the right of private judgment (Appeal, p. 14). But the Bishop of London calls the declaration, " a libel upon the Church,"

a (Ibid. p. 20), and says that the only way in which the Church s6 could maintain itself at all, was by keeping true to the one point of the theological compass” (Appeal, p. 22).

In our attemps to hit off this one point, we have not been more successful than in the other parts of the enquiry. The Bishop of London himself told us nothing about it, whilst the author of the Appeal acknowledges that not only the point of the compass, but the whole compass itself is a mere nonentity. He comically adds, that there could not be so much disputation about the direction of the course to which it pointed, if the compass, to say the least of the matter, were not very much out of repair; and he concludes by stating that “we have nobody able to mend it.(Ibid. p. 73). Nobody at all seems to contemplate such a thing as a capacity anywhere to correct the variations of the compass, even if it ever should be repaired. The petitioners tell us that the clergy are understood to be bound to the observance of all the canons, although some are “confessedly inexpedient, and some are absolutely impracticable” (Ibid. p. 12). But the Bishop of Lincoln

) tells the House of Lords, as he had previously told Mr. Wodehouse, that the fact of Mr. Wodehouse's entertaining difficulties about the Liturgy and the Athanasian Creed, constituted no obstacle to his admission to holy orders: (Ibid. p. 7) and that a similar opinion was given to Mr.

[ocr errors]

English Protestant Established Church.323 Wodehouse by other prelates whom he consulted: whilst, in another place, we are told, with a reference to the authority and practice of the Bishop of London, “ that no conscientious bishop is satisfied with an unexplained subscription to the general standard; that he requires, or ought to require, every candidate for orders to stand one examination as to the meaning of that which he subscribes” (p. 120). The Bishop of Norwich himself made some very natural reflections upon the insincerity of “confessing with our lips what we do not confess with our hearts :" whilst the condemnation of No. 90, by the Hebdomadal Board, proceeded expressly upon the ground that the tract reconciled subscription to the thirty-nine articles with the adoption of errors which they were designed to counteract. As a replication upon this position of the Board, it may be stated in the words of Mr. Sewell, that “ the thirtynine articles were not intended as a body of dogmatical teaching, or as a system of theology, whose reception was to be imposed by authority:" although Bishop Burnett had informed us that the aforesaid articles contained “ the sum of our doctrine, and the confession of our faith.”

The party however, who consider that “it would be a serious evil to treat these articles as a regular system of theology, or confession of belief, to be enforced by the ecclesiastical power,” are spoken of in the following manner by a high authority.

“ Their teaching has now sunk deeply into the heart of the Church of England ; it has acquired not merely a numerical, but a moral


and influence, which must henceforth make it impossible for any statesman to despise or overlook, and highly indiscreet for any POLITICAL PARTY unnecessarily to alienate, this element in the constitution of society. The younger clergy are said to be very generally of this school ; it has no want of advocates among their seniors ; has penetrated into both Houses of Parliament ; and we are confidently informed that it has met with countenance from the bishops themselves. It has completely succeeded in awakening in the church that vital spirit of re-action, the necessity for which called it into existence. We hear nothing now of a demand for the admission of dissenters into the Universities, of proposals to abolish subscription to the thirty-ninth Articles, or of contemplated changes in the Liturgy ; or, if we do still hear of them, the manner in which they are received, as contrasted with their popularity in 1833, illustrates the completeness of the victory still more forcibly." - Times of March 6th, 1841.

The most comical part of the transaction is, that a polemical combination, which was formed for the purpose of preventing those alterations in the prayer book “ which were called for by many of the clergy and laity,” (Times, 6th March, 1841), and which has had the effect, as we are told in the same place, of preventing proposals for abolishing subscription to the articles, should be condemned by the University to which they belonged, for advocating an interpretation of the articles which “ reconciled a subscription to them with the adoption of errors which they were designed to counteract,” and that the champions of resistance to all contemplated alterations in the liturgy of the Church were loud in proclaiming to the world, that the said Church effected its "teaching " through “ stammering lips by “ ambiguous formularies” and “inconsistent precedents."

Such are a few of the sources of the perplexities which were encountered by us in considering the more public operations of the “Church establishment of England.” In examining her more private proceedings, we find ourselves as far as ever from a satisfactory conclusion. The same high authority which we have already quoted, informs us that “ a combination of clergymen holding influential stations in the Church, and listened to with great assiduity as preachers, declare that the Bishops and the MAJORITY OF THE CLERGY are either ignorant of the MEANING OF THE ARTICLES, or have signed them in a FRAUDULENT SPIRIT, and for the sake of EMOLUMENT,” (See Appeal, p. 72), and that the tracts which have been circulated by the said entirety of the bishops, and majority of the clergy acting in form of the Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge, are positicelý heretical:* the Church Missionary Society is also denounced by some members of the Church, holding influential stations, although its character is even higher than that of the Christian Knowledge Society; and although its muster roll“ is adorned with the names of several bishops, including the Bishop of London, who has actually ordained ministers for its operations” (Ibid. p. 76). In fact, the greatest number of the clergy of the establishment are at present very actively occupied in protesting not only against the Church of Rome, but against each other; every man being at liberty as we shall see by and bye, to set up as an infallible authority,-be a pope unto himself.

* We are informed by Dr. Hook (Letter, p. 15) that this society is now distracted by “unhappy discussions, introduced by a party which is suspected of a design to revolutionise the society.”


Well may the author of the Appeal exclaim, “what in such a case is to be done by an ordinary man ?” (p. 77). What, indeed! In the language of the law, an "ordinary” man, generally means a bishop. In the present instance, however, it is quite clear, that by the expression “ ordinary” man, the writer means one of the plain common run of mankind : although he certainly might, without any impropriety, have used it in the more legal and limited sense; as the bishops appear upon some of the occasions in question, to be quite as much puzzled as the most ordinary laymen. Both parties, to use the language of the “ Appeal,” being “ led astray, or left in doubt as to what it is that the Church in reality recognises," --" the Church not having as it seems sufficiently explained its own meaning in every instance” (p. viii).

But the worst of the matter is yet to be told. For we not only do not know what is the meaning of the Church, or what it is that it recognises, but we, unfortunately, do not even know what “ the Church” is at all. We were at first inclined to think that our knowledge of the Church of England was at least as extensive as the information which we have concerning our own souls,—that we knew, for example, its eristence, although we knew nothing very particular about its essence. We had been in the habit of hearing people speak of “the Churchof England, as positively as they spoke of the Bank of England, or of the Royal Exchange, or the Court of Queen's Bench; without ever entertaining a doubt about the real existence of the subject matter; and when the Bishop of London publicly proclaimed in the House of Lords, on the 26th of May in the last year, that the Church of England was ready to “ lay down the great truths which she extracted from the Bible," we considered the intimation to be as practical as the notice which is occasionally given by the Bank, that she will on such a day be ready to receive applications for advances of not less than £2,000 upon adequate security. Having gotten as far as to be sure of the existence of the establishment, our only remaining difficulty, as we thought, was, to ascertain the locus in which her operations were conducted; and we imagined, as a man gets his dividends at the Bank, his marriage license at Doctors' Commons, and his writ of mandamus in the Crown Office,—that there must be some place in which one may have his theological doubts removed by the Church, and where, upon making a proper application during the appointed hours of business, he may learn from competent authority what “the great truths are, which the



« 上一頁繼續 »