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of secular documents, - but against a certain view of the
a meaning of inspiration. . . . The revelation of God was made in a historical process. Its record is in large part the record of a national life; it is historical. Now the inspiration of the recorder lies primarily in this, that he sees the hand of God in the history, and interprets His purpose. Further, we must add, his sense of the working of God in history increases his realization of the importance of historical fact. . . . We are, we believe, not wrong in anticipating that the Church will continue to believe and to teach that the Old Testament from Abraham downwards is really historical, and that there will be nothing to make such belief and teaching unreasonable or wilful. But within the limits of what is substantially historical there is still room for an admixture of what, though marked by spiritual purpose, is yet not strictly historical; for instance, for a feature which characterizes all early history, the attribution to first founders of what is really the remoter result of their institutions. Now historical criticism assures us that this process has been largely at work in the Pentateuch. By an analysis, for instance, the force of which is very great, it distinguishes distinct stages in the growth of the law of worship; at least an early stage, such as is represented in the Book of the Covenant,' a second stage in the Book of Deuteronomy, a last stage in the • Priestly Code.' What we may suppose to have happened is that Moses himself established a certain germ of ceremonial enactment in connection with the ark and its sacred tent, and with the ten words'; and that this developed always as 'the law of Moses,' the whole result being constantly attributed, probably unconsciously and
certainly not from any intention to deceive, to the original founder. . . It may fairly be represented, on a review of our Lord's teaching as a whole, that, if He had intended to convey instruction to us on critical and literary questions, He would have made His purpose plainer. His utterances about the Old Testament do not seem to be nearly definite or clear enough to allow of our supposing that in this case He is departing from the general method of the Incarnation, by bringing to bear the unveiled omniscience of the Godhead to anticipate or foreclose a development of natural knowledge.” 1
If the author of these citations can be regarded as representing even a fraction of his party, his words are a significant index of what is transpiring in the Englishspeaking world, - a token that the drift is away from the technical standpoint, and toward the freer and broader view of Biblical inspiration and authority.
It is impossible to make any very definite statement of the distinctive beliefs of the Broad Church as a party. The spirit of the party is antagonistic to exact formulas, and, while it has had leaders of greater or less prominence, no one has held the place of an accredited oracle. It may be said, however, in general, that the Broad Church school repudiates decidedly the sacerdotal basis of the High Church system; that it abridges somewhat the distinction between the ecclesiastical and the secu
1 The Holy Spirit and Inspiration, in Lux Mundi, a Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, edited by Charles Gore, 1890.
lar; that it tends to exalt the authority of reason at the expense of traditionary standards; that it views dogmatic diversity with a large measure of equanimity, and is tolerant of revised opinions as evolved by Biblical criticism. Some of its representatives are unmistakably rationalistic in their premises and mental habit; but rationalism, in any extreme sense, cannot be alleged of the party as a whole. Its animus in the present is indicated by the following rather curious description from the pen of a Broad Church writer: “Firstly, the Broad Church are those who love the High Church, because they perceive that High Churchism bears witness to the sacramental character of forms and ceremonies. We need such outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual graces. The Broad Church are those who love the Low Church, because they perceive that Low Churchism bears witness to spiritual freedom. The soul must have this too, it will not be bound by that it uses; we need forms and ceremonies; we need spiritual freedom. The High Church would cast out the Low Church, and the Low Church the High, and both would cast out the Broad; but the Broad desires to retain both, - it is comprehensive. Secondly, the Broad Church feels the need of bringing the praying and the preaching of the Anglican Church into harmony with nineteenth-century thought and feeling. It does not believe that the theology of Constantine in the fourth century was any more final than the settlement of Henry VIII. in the sixteenth century. It desires to bring doctrine to the test of living thought, restating its substance in terms of present knowledge, - it is radical. Thirdly, it uses dogmatic theology as a basis of action, and the formu
laries of the national Church as a mechanism of ritual, - it is conservative. The three descriptive adjectives of the Broad Church are these : comprehensive, radical, conservative."i The relative tolerance, it should be added, which the writer expresses for the Anglican formularies, does not extend to the so-called Athanasian Creed. With very pardonable incisiveness he remarks of the damnatory clause in this creed : “ To say that every one who does not keep whole and undefiled the letter of such a faith shall be damned forever is simply to qualify one's self for a lunatic asylum.”
Among those who initiated the Broad Church movement, namely, Coleridge, Thirlwall, Hampden, Whately, and Thomas Arnold, the last might be described as an advocate not merely of the broad, but of the broadest view of the Church. The ideal according to his teaching requires Church and State to be coextensive and identical. He acknowledged that there were great obstacles in the way, but thought they were not so formidable as to preclude at least a very close approximation to the ideal. As his scheme logically dictated, he was averse to precise and exacting standards, as calculated to produce dissent, and narrowed very much the distinction between clergy and laity, discarding the view that the former are indispensable mediums of grace, and maintaining that laymen ought to be empowered to administer the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist in the absence of a clergyman. Says Dean Stanley : “ It was as frustrating the union of all Christians, in accomplishing what he believed to be the true end enjoined by their common Master, that he felt so strongly against the desire for uniformity of opinion or worship, which he used to denounce under the name of sectarianism; it was as annihilating what he believed to be the apostolical idea of the Church, that he felt so strongly against that principle of separation between the clergy and laity which he used to denounce under the name of priestcraft.” i In 1833 Dr. Arnold gave a public expression to his views in a pamphlet on the Principles of Church Reform, advocating, among other things, the comprehending of Dissenters within the pale of the Establishment on such terms that the principles of neither party should be compromised. The pamphlet naturally called forth a vehement opposition.
1 H. R. Haweis, The Broad Church, or What is Coming, p. 27.
While the views of Thomas Arnold represent the extreme of comprehension, the representatives of the Broad Church party have declared generally for an ecclesiastical theory that is more or less akin to his. They have rejected with unanimity the dogma of a necessary apostolical succession as an arrogant and flimsy conceit. Archbishop Whately argued with great vigor against resting the claim to ecclesiastical legitimacy upon the narrow and chimerical foundation of a continuous episcopal succession. “One may not unfrequently hear,” he says, “members of Episcopalian churches pronouncing severe condemnation on those of other communions, and eren excluding them from the Christian body, on the ground, not of their not being under the best form of ecclesiastical government, but of their wanting the very essentials of a Christian Church; namely, the very same distinct orders of the hierarchy that the apostles appointed: and this, while the Episcopalians have them
1 Life and Letters of Thomas Arnold.