Abbildungen der Seite

prelate are elaborately commended to the gratitude and remembrance of the faithful. On this subject we shall be content to cite the judgment pronounced by the Bishop of Exeter, who is far from unfavourable in the main to the views of these writers.

“ I cannot but deplore the rashness which has prompted them to recommend to private Christians the dedication of particular days to the religious commemoration of deceased men, and even to furnish a special service in honour of Bishop Ken, formed apparently on the model of an office in the breviary to a Romish saint. To what must such a practice be expected to lead ? The history of the Church of Rome has told us." *

To any reader acquainted with the writings of those Nicene doctors whom the Tract writers make it their boast to follow, it might at first sight appear strange that the doctrine of celibacy-- the higher sanctity of the unmarried life—the central and crowning doctrine in the estimation of the Nicene Church-should find no prominent place assigned to it in the works which we are considering. The truth is, that the principle of reserve so solemnly commended and avowed in the treatise to which we have already referred t, has been in this instance most prudently applied. The adherence of our new teachers on this as well as on other points to the views of the Nicene age, was not we believe expressly admitted until charges had been brought forward on this head, which rendered admission or denial unavoidable. “The preference," says Dr. Pusey , "of celibacy as the higher state is scriptural, and as being such is primitive.” Again, in the Tract on Reserve we read,

“Moreover it is to such as Daniel, “ the man of loves,' who are divine and not earthly, that revelations are made : and it is worthy of consideration, that those who speak of the intimate connexion of Christ with his church, under the type of marriage, are the Baptist, St. Paul, and St. John ; as if it were to the higher or virgin state of life that the mysteries signified by this figure were confided,"

Now it is not to be denied that celibacy may in some cases be a higher state ; but if higher, it is so not for itself, but for its objects and consequences. To renounce the most precious portion of man's heritage ; to withdraw from what Lord Bacon has aptly termed “the discipline of humanity," may be on some occasions a noble exertion of self-denial and self-sacrifice. To those who had left “ father or mother, wife or children,” for his sake, Jesus promised an abundant reward. But the doctrine of the ancient church (flowing from the sources of oriental philosophy) openly asserted, and the language of Oxford too clearly implies, that there is in the unmarried or monkish life an inherent and absolute sanctity. The “angelic state of celibacy,” for itself and its own excellences, and without any regard to its motives or purposes, excited the eloquent raptures and drew down the ponderous eulogies of the ancient fathers. To us the following of such guides seems to be in no case so mischievous or so dangerous as in this. We do not indeed assert, that if the system of celibacy, and the institutions growing therefrom, were at this day to find acceptance in England, we should have to witness such abominations as disgraced the early church even in the third century, and whereof the record is preserved to us (in words which few Englishmen would venture to translate) by the very hand of a sainted bishop and martyr. || But evils of no ordinary kind did spring (and there is no reason why they might not now spring from the like cause) from those longcontinued and irrational efforts to create a morality against reason and beyond nature, which vexed and degraded the great Christian community for * Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of Exeter, 1839.

+ Tr. 8O. | Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, p. 212.

$ Ib. p. 41. || See Cyprian's famous epistle to Pomponius.

so many centuries, and which achieved by their apparent success no other result than the wanton profligacy and licensed concubinage of the clergy in the age immediately preceding the Reformation. Moreover, the dignity and worth of womanhood itself must suffer a corresponding disparagement from any cause that shall tend in any measure to lower the pre-eminence of the married state. But we do not in fact anticipate for England the recurrence of such miseries. The people of this land might perhaps be induced to present their supplications for the weal of kindred and friends departed, or even to crave the aid and intercession of the glorified saints of heaven: but they value too dearly the purity of our domestic life, and know too well the causes of that purity; they are too thoroughly aware of the manifold blessings which the enfranchisement and elevation of woman have shed upon society, —

“ Twice blessed, It blesseth him that gives and her that takes,”. to be at any time inclined to see in the self-righteous solitariness of monkery a sufficient compensation for the diminished sanctity and blessedness of domestic life. Meanwhile, to the doctors of Oxford must belong the abiding shame of having sought (albeit unsuccessfully) to open again a long-closed source of moral and social evil to their countrymen.

We have now completed our survey of the main points in the theological teaching of the Tract writers, a survey rendered of necessity incomplete by a desire to avoid all reference to questions of a controversial nature. To these doctrines the Anglican church, by the mouth of her ministers at Oxford, demands the implicit assent and adherence of her faithful sons.

" Whether, say they, we have in our hands the means of exactly proving this or that part of Scripture to be genuine or not; whether we have in our hands the complete proofs of all the church doctrines, we are more sure that implicit belief in something is our duty, than that it is not our duty to believe those doctrines and that Scripture as we have received them. If our choice lies between accepting all and rejecting all, which I consider it does when persons are consistent, no man can hesitate which alternative is to be taken."

We turn now to the concerns of this present life, the duties of the man and the citizen ; and here we find theories no less dangerous and degrading. That great event from which we datė, if not the existence, yet at any rate the assured establishment, of constitutional monarchy here in England, and (may we not say ?) by consequence in Europe, is denounced, openly and expressly, as a thing of sin and shame. For that very event we are directed

to humble ourselves, and pray God not to remember our sins, or the sins of our forefathers.”+ The doctrine of passive obedience, thus brought forward, is maintained on the authority of the homilies of the Anglican church; and we are told in their language,

" If we will have an evil prince (when God shall send such a one) taken away, and a good in his place, let us take away our wickedness, which provoketh God to place such a one over us, and God will either displace him, or of an evil prince make him a good prince, so that we first will change our evil into good.” .

But how is the assumption, on which this slavish argument rests, to be made out? How do we know that an evil prince is indeed a punishment; or, if so, how is he a punishment in any other sense than invasion, or fire, or famine, or pestilence? And if we are right, which is not denied, in striving by all means to ward off or to remedy the one class of evils, why are we to bow with a stupid and Turkish apathy before the other ? Surely if we may resist a physical evil, which rages for a short time and destroys * Tr. 85. p. 100.

Dr. Pusey's Sermon on the 5th Nov. 1897. # Homily against Wilful Rebellion, part i.

but a small part of one generation, and then is spent ana over, it were a strange thing if we should not seek to protect ourselves and our brethren against a curse which withers the moral and intellectual energies of a whole community of mankind, and extends its malignant influence far onward through a course of many generations. The rest of this new, or rather this revived, political philosophy is similar to what we have quoted. We are told that “ the maxim of our law, that the king can do no wrong,' was meant to declare the king irresponsible; but that its authors did not contemplate the uniform responsibility of any other.”* This indeed may, as a matter of history, be the fact; but it is sufficiently plain that the writer of the passage we have just cited is far from thinking the “uniform responsibility of any other” to be any improvement in our constitution. Again, we are told that God has “ delegated to the kingly authority his irresponsible sovereignty t;" that “ the sovereign only is the source of authority, and the object of allegiance.” I We offer no comment on these passages, or on the general scope of the work from which they are taken. They may be perhaps, to some extent, explained away: but we think they may very fairly be considered to show that the sympathies of the Oxford school do not tend toward political responsibility; and that “the enormous faith of many made for one,” will find as vigorous an advocacy there in our day as it did at the date of the memorable decree of that university in 1683.

It would be amusing, did not painful feelings interfere, to see on how slight a base this fabric of slavishness is reared. The exhortation of St. Paul to "honour the king,” and his declaration that the powers that be are ordained of God, are deemed a sufficient warrant for such doctrine as we have stated. We might content ourselves with the short and obvious answer, “ Was not the


and government of William III. as much ordained of God as that of James II.?” But if we read Scripture, as it ought always to be read, by the light of circumstance and history, we shall find ourselves far enough from such an inference. Consider to whom these words were addressed. At the dead hour of night (for at such time the meetings of the first Christians took place), a few oppressed men,'of slavish condition, and mostly Jewish birth, gathered together to hear the message of the apostle. Earnest in faith, and pure of heart (the pearls hidden in the deeps of that turbid sea of human existence), but degraded and outcast, they came there to meditate and to commune upon the advent of their king, who they deemed was about to come speedily to overwhelm and destroy their oppressors, and to raise them up to his own glory. It was most natural that such men should look upon the system of superstition and tyranny which surrounded them with other feelings than those of patience and Christian resignation ; and it was most fit and right in the apostle to remind them, that this their sore trial was the will and appointment of God, and, as such, to be submitted to with all reverence.

But can we venture to assert, that St. Paul would thus have spoken had he been addressing a Christian nation, suffering under a tyranny which depraved and degraded it, and yet able to put away the evil thing from its bosom peaceably and bloodlessly? Sad it is to see the Christian faith, the religion of equality and brotherhood, thus made by its own teachers a tool and cover for despotism; but to us it is sadder still, to consider how deep the theology of modern days has sunk beneath the level of old philosophy. The light of that philosophy was indeed dim, but it was far brighter than that of our Oxford divinity. For the sages of old time saw in tyranny an evil against

• Appendix to Sermon, p. 8.

† App. p. 62.

Ib. p. 7. **


which man was bound to struggle, even as he valued his own moral health

a thing hateful both before God and man; and they judged that this universe can present to the eye of the Deity no spectacle more glorious or more acceptable than that of a community of human creatures living and flourishing under the safeguard of social order and equal law.

Thus narrow are the liberties which the church thinks good to accord to the laity of the realm. But let no man suppose that she will be content to have her own rights and franchises meted with the like measure On the contrary, she not only forgets, in her own case, the passive obedience which she has preached to others, but even disclaims and refuses any kind of subjection to lay authority, even in regard to her merely temporal possessions. She claims now, as in the Middle Ages, to abide within the pale of society, as imperium in imperio, drawing therefrom wealth, protection, and power, but removed altogether from its control, and exempt from the reach of civil jurisdiction. Hear the words of the Tract on the Catholic church:

" The legislature has lately taken upon itself to remodel the dioceses of Ireland ; a proceeding which involves the appointment of certain bishops over certain clergy, and of certain clergy under certain bishops, without the church being consulted in the matter. I do not say whether or not harm will follow from this particular act with reference to Ireland, but consider whether it be not in itself an interference with things spiritual." *

Now, what am I calling on you to do? You cannot help what has been done in Ireland, but you may protest against it. You may keep it before you as a desirable object, that the Irish Church should at some future day meet in synod, and protest herself against what has been done, and then proceed to establish or rescind the state injunction as may be thought expedient."*

Again, we have an instance of the large, and, as it would seem, indefeasible claims of the church in the Tract on Church and State, which, after enumerating certain points as constituting the protection which the church receives from the state, proceeds thus:

." It consists further in allowing thirty bishops to sit and vote in the House of Lords, to which house all bishops and many other church dignitaries belonged as a matter of right at the signing of Magna Charta, and from which they can never be excluded without violating the very first article of Magna Charta, the basis of English liberty." +

It will after this be no matter of surprise to hear, that the law of præmunire, which simply secures to the civil government the power of appointing bishops and deans, is denounced as "an act more arbitrary and inhuman than any which men have held up to reproach."

These clerical pretensions seem to us the most singular part of the phenomenon we are endeavouring to delineate. They are efforts, hopeless and dangerous, against the current of human affairs; not against the spirit of this particular

age, but against the continuous and pervading spirit of many ages. For if it were needed to characterise in few words the whole course of European history for the last four centuries, how should we more aptly describe it than as the period of the growth of civil

, and the decay of ecclesiastical, authority. The citizen has been taking the place of the priest. Nor is the change yet accomplished, or the current receding. All men, however weak or dim of foresight, know themselves to be passing on towards a condition of society in which arrogant assumption and implicit credence (the basis in all past time of clerical domination) will find no place as a foundation for authority; and in which power will be constrained in all cases to justify its continuance and exercise only by proving itself to be a minister of moral justice and social weal. In such a state of the world, the assump• Ts. 59. p. 2.

† Dr. Pusey on Churches in London, p. 25. .

tions we have just cited fall on the ear with something of a startling effect; they seem like voices from the dead - the faint and distant echo of the claims of the Innocents and the Gregories.

After what has been shown of the doctrines and usages sanctioned by these new doctors, it may well be asked, “Wherein lies the difference between the system thus propounded and that of Rome? The difference, we apprehend, is chiefly to be found in the foundations on which those systems rest. Each founds itself on tradition ; but the one maintains the traditions of the Roman, the other that of the Anglican, episcopacy. True it is that our divines deem the withholding of the cup from the laity to be an unjustifiable usurpation; that they are content to pray for the dead, but not for the dead in purgatory; that they differ *, although on no very intelligible views, on the doctrine of Transubstantiation, recommending, however, at the same time, that “the controversy about Transubstantiation be kept in the back ground, because it cannot well be discussed in words at all without the sacrifice of godly fear;" yet, notwithstanding these more minute points of separation, there is, on matters far more material, a real and avowed union. Whatever authority, supernatural and divine, has been in any age claimed for the ministers of the Roman Church, the same is now distinctly arrogated by our Church of England; there is the same refusal to all communities, not episcopal, of the dignity and very name of Christian churches ; the same declaration that communion with herself is “ generally necessary to salvation t;" and in respect of that very point, which has been f fairly stated by the advocates of Rome to constitute the essential distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism, there is now put forth the like authoritative requisition of implicit assent, ready, undoubting, unswerving obedience to all the traditions of the church. Subordination of the ecclesiastical body to lay jurisdiction, even in respect of the temporal possessions of their order, is denounced and denied; and, what is not a little extraordinary, it is made a specific charge against some of the most eminent writers of the Roman communion, that they have maintained the lawfulness of resistance by Christian men to oppressive and tyrannical rulers. If these new teachers could indeed be fairly taken to represent the sentiments of the English Church, we fear she would have little chance of justifying herself against the stern condemnation passed upon her by M. Guizot, when comparing her with her predecessor, * une église également abusive et beaucoup plus servile ? ” I

Indeed the Tract writers, following and expressly approving the example of the Convocation of 1689, systematically disclaim the appellation of Protestants : with the Protestant communities of Scotland, Holland, and Germany, they acknowledge no sympathy, and admit no kindred; they deem them not even comprised within the largeness of the Gospel covenants.

“ The English Church 1, say they, as such is not Protestant, only politically ; that is, externally, or so far as it has been made an establishment and subjected to national and foreign influences. It claims to be merely Reformed, not Protestant; and it repudiates any fellowship with the mixed multitude which crowd together, whether at home or abroad, under a mere political banner.”

And the “ Quarterly Review," which has of late become devoted to the support of the Oxford Tracts, has on this point displayed even more than the natural warmth of a new ally, and has declared that “the very name.

See Mr. Newman's Letter to Dr. Fawsett, a production worthy, for its subtle irrationality, of the days of the schoolmen. † Tract 71. p. 9. # Dr. Wiseman's first Lecture. $ Notes to Dr. Pusey's Serm. on Nov. 5.

11 Essai sur la Civilisation en Europe. [ Tr. 71. P. 8%.

« ZurückWeiter »