« PoprzedniaDalej »
tion of political privileges is impossible, we must aim at a co-extensive diffusion of a sound and a religious education.
“Observing how surely in the career of a self-governed people, ancient or modern, step after step does necessarily bring one class after another into possession of political power, we learn to look about for the best means of averting a great danger; and we see that, if we are to rally each of these classes in succession round the Constitution, we must educate them beforehand. This is indeed a trite observation ; but it is not so generally perceived, that this edacation must be moral and religious, as well as intellectual. The classes which ruined Athens were intellectual enough. Even in heathen times the signal for political debasement was given by the overthrow of religion. A little reflection on these examples will show that this education must not be mere mechanical instruction, not mere power of reading a newspaper, but an education which includes history; an education which teaches men to reason, to weigh evidence, to control impulse, to choose the solid in preference to the showy, to distinguish between the specious people-flatterer and the capable statesman. How many of the very books from which these classes are taught require to be re-written! Perhaps we are only as yet at the very threshold of the work which lies before us."
The third and fourth Lectures form two parts of an historical review of the relations of Church and State in this country; the former treating of those relations during the Pre-reformation period, while the latter traces the features which they present from the sixteenth century down to our own time. A portion of this ground is again surveyed by the Professor, though from a different point of view, in the Lecture which concludes the volume, in which, leaving the question of the effect of the State connection upon the Church, he discusses the influence of the Church upon the affairs of the State. The three Lectures together present a very interesting and comprehensive view of the subject, and the consideration of it is aptly introduced by a brief account of the origin and progress of the connection between the Church and the State in Christianity generally. We entirely agree with Professor Burrows in his repudiation of the many theories on the relations of Church and State which have from time to time been promulgated, and in his recourse to facts, and facts only, for an estimate of those relations. They have, in truth, been so diverse under different circumstances, and are capable of such ever varying modifications, that no theory which will afford a satisfactory solution for them in one age, or amongst one people, will tally with the phenomena ex. hibited by them at another time, or elsewhere; and the adoption of a definite theory tends to narrow our view of the subject, and to make us regard as imperfect a state of things which does not in all respects answer to our ideal, but may, notwith
standing, be the best adapted for the circumstances under which it exists.
Professor Burrows looks upon the connection between Church and State, originally formed in the time of Constantine, as an absorption of the State by the Church.
“It would be more correct to say that the Church of the fourth century forced the State into combination with her, than to speak of the Emperors as patrons of the Church. No other policy than an acknowledgment of Christianity as the State religion could have made government possible. The mass of the people of the East, the source from which the army was so largely drawn, had seriously and intelligently embraced Christianity. It was not so in the West, but the political power of Paganism was gone. From the East, the State Christianity, retarded by the different nature of Western society and institutions, gradually, in spite of all obstacles, made its way. The powers of the whole Roman world became the powers of Christ."
But this establishment of Christianity, always imperfect in the West, was destined there to meet with a rude shock, and, for a time, a complete overthrow. Upon the incursion of the barbarians, the religion of Christ ceased to be the faith of the rulers of Western Europe, and was there reduced once more to being the creed of a subject class. But in her interval of triumph, the Church had learnt the benefit and acquired the means of consolidation; and now that the State powers were adverse, Christians, throughout all the countries which represented the dismembered empire of the West, looked to the city which had formerly been their ecclesiastical, because their political head, for that guidance and support in matters spiritual, which in matters temporal she could no longer yield to them. Thus it came to pass that the disestablishment of Christianity, which necessarily ensued upon the conquests of the pagan barbarians, led the Christian communities, in the countries which they overran, to accept the ecclesiastical domination of the Pope, in consideration of the weight and support afforded by a union under one head. The result survives, after the cause which occasioned it has ceased to exist. When the conquerors, in process of time, themselves accept Christianity, they accept the spiritual sovereignty of Rome as part and parcel of it; and upon the Church becoming once more conterminous with the State, we see the relations between the two, in all the continental nations of Western Europe, affected and interfered with by this external connexion of the former with a foreign head. ·
In our own country, a different order of events was destined, by the providence of God, to produce a different condition of things. England, too, was overrun by pagan invaders; in England Christianity was disestablished, but the disestablished Church, instead of gradually regaining its position, as among the continental nations, was doomed to languish, and ultimately to perish. The extinction in this country of a faith far purer than that which was afterwards introduced into it was, no doubt, at the time a great calamity ; but viewed in the light of the history of continental Christianity, we are disposed to question whether the event did not ultimately prove a positive blessing to the nation. It is true that the early British Church, while it lasted, showed no signs of submission to the Papal sway; but this was, in all probability, one of the main causes of its extinction. Certain it is that, in the ages immediately succeeding the overthrow of the Western Empire, that connection with Rome, which was destined afterwards to become the great bane, was, humanly speaking, the great mainstay of Christianity. And if the continued life of the British Church was incompatible with her independence of Rome, the re-establishment of Christianity in England, by means of her preservation and gradual extension among the Teutonic dominant classes, might have involved us as inextricably in the meshes of Papal supremacy as the continental nations of Western Europe. As it was, Christianity did not revive in this country by spreading upwards from the conquered to the conquerors; but upon its reintroduction from abroad, was accepted by the latter first, and by them passed down to the former. Hence it was from its commencement incorporated into the State institutions, and regarded as part and parcel of the law of the land. It was brought from Rome, it is true, and was continued in connection with Rome and in subordination to her; but whereas the continental Churches were saddled with the conditions which the Papacy had imposed upon a subject class seeking its support against the oppression of an alien and pagan race, Rome, on introducing Christianity into this country, made her terms with the government of the land, and was forced to tolerate a degree of ecclesiastical independence far greater than that which existed in the foreign Churches.
Upon the Norman Conquest, a great change took place in the connection between Church and State in this country. The political power passed into the hands of those who had been bred in far stricter notions of the Papal supremacy. The relation of conquerors to conquered again entered into the question. But, in this case, both conquerors and conquered were alike Christians, and the power of Rome appeared not, as before among the continental nations, the protector of the oppressed, but in alliance with the dominant race. Hence, if a spirit of hostility to the Papal see was not actually excited in the mass of the people, their pre-existing inclination to independence of it was confirmed; while the rulers, in this instance, perceived it to be for their interests, with the object as well of conciliating their subjects as of increasing their own power, to shake off their continental ideas of Papal Supremacy, and to adopt towards Rome the free and independent attitude which they found prevailing in the country.
In his review alike of the threefold struggle in ecclesiastical matters between the National Church, the State, and the Papacy, which terminated at the Reformation, and of the history of the subsequent relations between the two parties which were thenceforth left in possession of the field, one of the Professor's chief objects has been to clear our Church from the imputation of Erastianism, which Roman Catholics are wont to cast upon her. We shall not readily forget how that charge has been recently flung back in the face of our accusers by a member of their own communion, who has shown that, however well founded it may be, it ill befits members of the Papal Church to advance it against us. And Professor Burrows, though evi. dently desirous of positively establishing the essential freedom of the Church of England, is sometimes obliged to be content with a similar retort.
“We may then say, that on all the four cardinal points which must be taken as guarantees and bulwarks of the independence of the Church, viz., Ecclesiastical Courts, Synods, Regulation of Doctrinal and Liturgical forms, and the Election of Bishops, the Reformed Church started on her course substantially free, or at least as much so as she was in Roman times. Her relations with the State were only changed in form, and that form was in the main a recurrence to an earlier state of things.”
Our author gives us a brief sketch of the phases which the Church of England has passed through in reference to these, in his opinion, four crucial tests of her liberties, from the time of the Reformation to our own times. While he records his general approval of the settlement arrived at, upon those points, at the Reformation, he at the same time expresses strong dissatisfaction with the position into which the Church has since drifted with regard to them. Of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Court established in the reign of Henry VIII., he says,
“So long as the Delegates were faithfully selected with a view to mere cases of ordinary discipline, a good deal might be said for this court of appeal. It was probably only intended as a temporary arrangement, and was no doubt liable to abuse ; yet for a long time it was not abused. ... The deterioration of the Court of Delegates commenced, however, early, and progressed rapidly ; though it was reserved for our own times to combine in one almost every possible objection which can lie against such a Court.”
Against this sweeping condemnation of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council we inust enter nær protest. Whatever theoretically may be its
defects as a Final Court of Ecclesiastical Appeal, one objection, and one the absence of which goes far to render the existence of the rest tolerable—that of practical failure-cannot, we think, be reasonably urged against it. The Professor himself, while demanding a proper Court of Final Appeal, does not venture to point out a substitute for that which he so unreservedly condemns. That some modification is imminent in the whole course of our judicature, including the constitution of our Courts of Final Appeal, few can doubt; and when this takes place, the character of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Court will probably undergo its share of alteration. But until then, supposing the relations of Church and State in this country to remain on their present footing, we are disposed to acquiesce in the submission of Ecclesiastical Appeals to the Judicial Com. mittee of Privy Council as a tribunal calculated to decide them in an able and impartial manner.
A similar reticence as to proposals for the future is obsery. able in the Professor's treatment of the subject of Ecclesiastical Synods and the Election of Bishops. Joyfully hailing the revival of Convocation as a step towards the vindication of the liberties of the Church, he ignores, in the body of his Lectures, the necessity for its reform, and only makes a passing allusion to the subject in a brief note; and while, in reference to the Election of Bishops, he remarks that the retention by our Church, after the Reformation, of the form of freedom was an inestimable thing, “because the form can always be clothed with life,” he does not tell us in what manner he would have the existing form transferred into a reality. For ourselves, we confess that in this case we have no desire to see life infused into the form as it at present stands. That the congé d'élire should become a reality, and that the Bishops should be actually elected by the Chapter to which it is addressed, or in fact by any body of clergy, to the exclusion of the laity, would be, to our mind, a far wider and more serious departure from the practice of primitive times and from the true principles of Church government, than the vesting of the appointment to the Episcopal office in the Crown, as the representative alike of the clergy and of the laity, the two constituent bodies in whom the right of filling up vacancies in that office originally resided. We feel sure that Professor Burrows does not for an instant contemplate the simple and unmodified realization of the conge d'élire which his words might be taken to suggest. On the contrary, as we gather from his remarks at the close of the subject, his idea of the freedom of the Church consists in the management of its affairs being left more and more to “the organized co-operation of the different ranks of the clergy and church-laity through the increased efficiency of Church insti. tutions too long disused.”