Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER IV.

CUDDESDON. 1832–1838.

[ocr errors]

of twenty-seven, I found myself entering upon my office contemporaneously with the first public beginnings of the Catholic Revival in England.

The Revival had two principal sources: one in Spirituals; one in Temporals.

The source in “Spirituals" was the defects, and consequent ultimate failure, of the "Evangelical" movement. But all this notwithstanding, let it be said humbly and thankfully, that to that movement England owes very much. It recalled men from a dry, cold and powerless morality, to the prime source of all that is most excellent in the regenerated nature, the love of CHRIST; but it

liled in respect of care for the means ordained of CHRIST for the perpetual administration of His Kingdom upon earth, and for the regeneration and renewal of the individual soul. It appealed rather to inward feeling than to evidence of life: it thought much of CHRIST, little of the Church of CHRIST: much of THE SPIRIT of CHRIST, little of the order of His grace: much of preaching, little of the Sacraments: least of all did it think of the Real Presence of CHRIST in the Holy Eucharist under the form of Bread and Wine: nothing consequently of the Adoration of Him there Really Present upon Consecration of the elements; and of the re-presentation of His one Sacrifice therein, and the pleading of It, ảvánvnots, before THE FATHER by THE SPIRIT.

This is the more remarkable, because the Wesleys had grasped it all, and had taught it expressly and powerfully; as any one may see by the Collection of Hymns published in their joint names at Bristol, 1760, Fifth Edition

It is true that twenty years later, when the schism had been sealed by Wesley's act in ordaining, another Hymn. book, omitting the above Primitive and Catholic teaching, obtained chief currency among Wesleyans. But this fact is only one evidence among many of the rapid downward tendency of schism; a very remarkable evidence no doubt, but still only one among many.

But, whatever may be the account of the fact, it remains that the “Evangelical" system failed from the first, as the Wesleyan system had finally failed.

The enthusiasm evoked by teaching of this mutilated character carried in itself the seeds of its own decay. “Evangelicalism" was once a great power in England; it is not so now. After a while, it came to be felt that a system of religious teaching which, so to speak, left out integral parts of Religion, could not be sound and true, could not therefore satisfy the need of the soul. What was wanted, was the system which combines all the inheritance of the Servant of CHRIST, as bequeathed to him by CHRIST through THE SPIRIT. The system combining all that is objective, all that is subjective in Religion ; all that is external to man and independent of man; all that is internal to man, and dependent upon the act of his free-will: the system caring for both parts of man's nature, in body and in soul; first caring for Doctrine, then for Ritual, its natural, and sooner or later, its necessary exponent. The system resting neither in faith without works, nor in works without faith: the system beginning and ending with CHRIST and His Sacraments, not with preaching CHRIST apart from His Sacraments.

In a word, what was wanted was the system of the Church Primitive and Catholic. The recalling into active life this system was, as it is still, England's need. The Church was failing within, and sorely pressed without. God in His mercy put it into the hearts of chosen men of His faithful servants, to lead the way in supplying the one thing which could satisfy the need ; and the publication of “Tracts for the Times” began.

If it be said, in answer to my words just above about “Ritual,” that this portion of the Revival does not find, except by necessary implication, a place in “Tracts for the Times,” the obvious rejoinder is, that what had first to be expounded and enforced was, the positive teaching of the Church as of Divine Authority and Commission in matters of Faith. This had to be made, under GOD, to take the place of that negative religion which is the plague-spot of the English mind. I believe that, fifty years ago, if you had taken a hundred (so-called) “educated” English Church-people, and asked them what their Faith was not, they would have told you, and have thought it a good and sufficient answer, that it was not Roman Catholic, without knowing much, if anything, of what the Roman Catholic Faith is. If you went on to ask them what their Faith was, they would have had no answer to give; no answer with any substance in it; something about the Prayer-Book and the Articles; of which, as is said curiously enough in the Royal Declaration prefixed to the Articles, “Men of all sorts take the Articles of the Church of England to be for them;" and so in like manner of the Prayer-Book. The answer, therefore, does not amount to much in the way of definiteness touching Faith.

The Doctrinal Position cleared and established, especially the position of the Doctrine of the Sacraments, which has been for the last three hundred years, and is still, the great stumbling-block of the English mind; and the authority of the Church as against that of "private interpretation" of Holy Scripture vindicated, it is only to obey a law of our nature to place next in order, as concurrent throughout more or less, and developing itself as the circle of true belief becomes wider and more comprehensive, care for reverence of worship, and, where practicable, for magnificence of ceremonial. This is what the vulgar English mind calls “Ritualism,” looking upon it, in its inveterate ignorance and prejudice, only as a rag of Roman Catholicism. What that great theologian, the present Prime Minister, called “the Mass in masquerade," "understanding neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms." The English mind, even in the highest places, is not deep either theologically or ecclesiastically, and prides itself upon what it is pleased to call common sense belief;" i.e. natural religion, as opposed to belief in Revealed Religion, in the Mysteries of GOD, and especially in His Holy Sacraments.

The Prime Minister does not think he knows too much for that, but to suit his political occasions he allows himself to appear to think-that “Ritualism" is going to be "put down" by Act of Parliament. So he leads his Conservatives, with a good many Liberals—always ready for any tyranny except when it concerns themselves—in the "putting down” folly ; and then asks Churchmen to support his Government.

Now I happen to know something of the inner history of the passing of the “Public Worship Regulation Act.” It came to me one afternoon at Plymouth, October, 1876, from the lips of the man to whom the Archbishop of Canterbury told it.

"The morning of the day of second reading," said the Archbishop, “I got a note from the Prime Minister to say that Government could not let the Bill go on.”

“What did you do ?” I said.

“I got into a Hansom cab, and went to Sir William Harcourt. I knew that a great many Conservatives would not lose the Bill if they could help it; and that, if Sir William and his men knew what the position was, they and these Conservatives together were strong enough to make the Minister alter his hand. So I got into a cab, and went to Sir William Harcourt. At 4 P.M. the Minister went to the House, having left his Cabinet with the understanding that he was going to do as stated in his letter to me, and, we must suppose, thinking so himself. But when he got into the House, he saw at once that the coalition was there in strength; changed his hand, made his speech, and the second reading was carried."

'Well,” I said, “ Archbishop, rather strong for the Archbishop of Canterbury, that coup of yours, about Hansom cab and Sir William Harcourt."

“Oh,” he said, “if I hadn't done it the Bill was lost.”

The Cabinet, no doubt, felt very like men dragged through not pleasant dirt. But the thing that had to be done was to keep the party together.

So much for "Church and State ;" for the Archbishop, who asks Churchmen to confide in him; for the Prime Minister, who calls upon Churchmen to support his Government,

I have heard “High Churchmen," men from whom I should least have expected such a thing, affirm two or three years ago, that there is no necessary connection between Doctrine and “Ritual," i.e. no necessary connection between Faith and Worship. It used to make me smile, and wonder what they would say next. I observe, however, that for the last year, or thereabouts, it has been found out that the affirmation is not worth much,—will not "hold water."

But it is manifestly absurd, and needs no detailed exposure, to say that because the writers in "Tracts for the Times” do not say much about “Ritual,” it is to be inferred from their silence that they shared in the fallacy; and that the necessary connection of "Ritual" with the acceptance of the Doctrine of “THE REAL PRESENCE," and its ultimate adoption as the rule of Worship, was not present to their mind. It would be a curious piece of inconsequence and shallowness to saddle the fallacy on them. Let it be left for the use of those who are divided between“ Church” and “ State.”

The source in Temporals was the changed relations of “State” to “Church,”—not the growing tendency only, but the development in act, of the policy which subordinates considerations of religion to social and political exigencies, and claiming still to have a “National Church," " enters upon a course which, sooner or later, makes a “National Church” an impossible thing.

The seeds of the policy were sown in 1688. They bore

« PoprzedniaDalej »