תמונות בעמוד


Art. VII.-1. The Oxford University Calendar. 1844. Oxford:

Parker, &c. 2. Corpus Statutorum, &c. Oxonii: E Typographeo Academico. 3. Suggestions on the New Statute proposed to the University of

Oxford. By W. Gresley, M.A. Prebendary of Lichfielá.

London: Burns. 1845. 4. The Subject of Tract XC. Historically Examined: with a Pre

face on the Measure about to be submitted to the Oxford Concocation. By FREDERICK OAKELEY, M.A. Fellow of Balliol

College. Second Edition. London: Toovey. 1845. Thoughtful minds have long since anticipated the quarter of the theological heavens in which the gathering storm of years would break. Without going into a superfluous proof of what the simplest must have felt, there can be little question that, speaking generally, the two great parties in the Church have each their strong position. The symbol of one is, in the main, the Prayer-book; that of the other, the Articles. They rerepresent respectively, and perhaps fairly enough, the Voice of Antiquity and the Spirit of the Reformation : it is a separate question how far, it may be entirely, the two may be found, or made, to harmonize; but on the first glance at thein they certainly present a different aspect. Lord Chatham expressed this distinction not accurately, but still with a sufficient approximation to truth for a popular statement, when he talked of our Papistical Book of Prayer and Calvinistical Book of Articles. It is quite certain that the one is not Papistical ; and most are convinced that the other is not Calvinistical. But the two great schools who verge towards either extreme have each felt bound to endure one for the love of the other. They are the Leah and Rachel of the English Church. The Prayer-book party are charged with disparaging the Articles: and those who most quote the Articles seem to tread lightly over the Prayer-book argument. On the one side we find a Lutheran bias, a good many sermons, popular preachers, justification by faith, once-a-week Christians, a disparagement of fasting, penitence, gloomy views, and the like, combined with vigorous and frequent appeals to the Thirtynine Articles-on the other are seen to be ranked “Romanizing tendencies, daily service, " exaltation of the sacraments," the word of God esteemed as something higher than "painful preaching, and all this combined with a very confident grasp of, and a most consistent and uniform polemical reference to, the Prayer-book. In pamphlets, tracts, and magazines, we frequently find them bracketed: but in conversation, in preaching, and in the Christian walk, we can recall no single instance where the one scale or the other did not very soon preponderate.

Indeed, were it necessary, some of the cominonest facts prove this bias. How was it that the Dissenting teachers, till lately, received their licence to preach by Act of Parliament, upon doing what? Assenting to the Thirty-nine Articles : i.e. they were legally empowered to preach against the Church's Prayer-book, under cover of her Articles. Compare too the source of the Articles -the known principles of their framers, and their sympathies with the Foreign Reformed-with the origin of the Prayer-book. That the Articles are the National, and the Prayer-book the Catholic, element of our mixed communion, is enough for the popular feeling

The historical argument, however, is in favour of the Catholic line : the Prayer-book has hitherto been the ruling and paramount estate in our confused relations. Every change at each successive Conference and Revision has been in its favour. Since the Reformation, the Church has done nothing but rise in matters both of doctrine and practice. It is decisive of our tempers that we have never taken a backward step. According, then, to the law of natural and moral growth in the Church of England, our next step must still be onward. We do not say that the Articles have been held unfaithfully by the great divines of the Church of England; far from it: but somehow they never seem to have thought of expanding the Articles, of adding to them, of developing in that direction. In the Prayer-book we can point to the restoration of the oblation in the Eucharist emanating from the same set of opinions, whose influence obtained the Declaration prefixed in the seventeenth century to the Book of Articles.

In what way, then, have the Articles been received by the Church of England ? The Articles are not terms of communion : the Articles are not a confession of faith : they are articles of religion, a body of teaching, akin rather to the Homilies than to the Service Book; and what was their original intention and practical bearing, men of most parties have, as we shall presently see, agreed. The Articles have been subjected to various siftings, both as to their sense and obligation, the value and extent of subscription to them, and their necessity, and this in various ways, and for very opposite purposes. Several such epochs have occurred since the first legal requirement of subscription to them on the part of the clergy,* by 13 Eliz. cap. 12. First was the long warfare between the Travers and Cartwright party on the one hand, against Hooker and Whitgift on the other, which at last developed itself into the predestinarian dispute. In the course of this, both parties appealed to the Articles, and it was primarily to declare the interptetation of the Articles on this dispute, that the Caroline declaration was prefixed to them: though it is obvious that this document then enounced a principle which might safely be applied to any other dispute besides the Quinquarticular. Next in order, in 1712, came the controversy concerning the right sense of subscription, which produced Waterland's dispute with Sykes and others on subscription in an Arian sense. But it was between the years 1766 and 1773 that the Articles were most furiously attacked and stubbornly defended. This dispute grew out of the publication of the Confessional,' by Blackburne, and the Feathers Tavern Association: the flame raged not only in Oxford and Parliament, but throughout the Church : in Oxford, however, with especial reference to subscription at matriculation. This last dispute was repeated with singular exactness in our own days: and the events of 1772 might be read for those of 1835, if we substitute the names of Hampden for Blackburne, and Lord Radnor for Sir William Meredith, The same caution of the respective Chancellors, Lord North and the Duke of Wellington, the same unfaithfulness and truckling of the Hebdomadal Board, by substituting, after the fatal precedent of Cambridge, a declaration for submission, and the same stern and indignant rejection of it on the part of Convocation, characterised either period.

* It does not appear that they were originally introduced into the Universities, whatever relations they had to the clergy, with a purpose so low and confined as a mere protest against Rome : they were designed with a constructive, rather than a destructive purpose ; and perhaps to form a text-book, and not so much to exclude this or that set of opinions; as a test only in part, but mainly, whether wisely or not, as an educational instrument. They were first made compulsory at matriculation in 1581. Subscription to the 36th canon originated in 1616, for the express purpose of checking the advance of the Presbyterial government, and the suffering of young scholars to be seasoned with Calvinian doctrines." It does not appear that the Vice-Chancellor had power to compel subscription to the Articles, according to his own will, until the

Hitherto, however, it is significant that the defenders of the Articles had all along one line of defence which is common to every successive revival of the dispute, under whatever forms: viz. they all assume the sense of the Articles to be equivalent to the mind of the Church. Ten years ago, or seventy years ago, upon what grounds was subscription to the Articles defended by Messrs. Sewell and Maurice, or Dr. Turton-or, again, by Bishop Horne? The various defenders of subscription have assumed that the sense of the Articles was ascertained : and so have the assailants. It was because the Articles were Articles of the Church; because they were a fettering of the liberty of Protestantism, that Jebb and Disney opposed subscription in any sense: because as Lord, then Mr., Grey, said, 'As to speculative matters in religion, they are by no means material ; the Articles are the offspring of monkish enthusiasm, a jumble of contradictions : away with such fanatical stuff; we live in more enlightened times ;' or, as Dr. Hampden expresses the same idea in terms more scholarly, but quite as intelligible, I do not scruple to avow myself favourable to a removal of all tests, so far as they are employed as secupresent statute was enacted. Its object could not have been other than consistent with Laud's well-known views on the Regale, and Church authority.

rities of orthodoxy among our members at large.' And elsewhere, where he speaks of the 'unphilosophical and unscriptural notions on which the Creeds and Articles are founded.' It is only incidentally—we speak now of the period which has elapsed since the Rebellion, that the sense of the Articles, or whether the Articles had one exclusive sense, has been disputed. It is only by hints that we can gain the opinions on this head of more recent writers, who are very full and valuable on points which we are not called upon at present to discuss. But since the publication of No. 90, (Tracts for the Times,) the question has turned upon the interpretation of the Articles, not upon the abstract desirableness of symbolical writings, nor upon undergraduate subscription, nor any other form and mode of subscription. We do not mean to assert that there has ever been a uniformly current and consistent recognition among our divines of the tribunal to which disputed interpretations of the Articles must yield; the authorized, if such they be, expositors may possibly be as numerous as their authorized expositions. For our present purpose, it would be quite sufficient to take even this ground, and to show that we have received, and subscribe certain articles which do not assert their own authority; and still further, which do not, in the event of varying interpretations, appeal to any standard authority for the resolution of doubts as they arise: it would be enough, then, to rest upon the admission, that there is no accredited court of appeal. It would be easy to show that such is the case, but none seem to doubt it: indeed, the conflicting views upon this or that authority, and all held without condemnation, would be a very sufficient argument against the establishment of such an authorized interpretation in days like these, and under the precarious auspices of an Oxford Hebdomadal Board. Taken by itself, the fact of the non-existence of any received interpretation of the Articles, we repeat, would be quite enough to condemn that which is now proposed. But we can do more than this; though there may be no synodical decision of the Church on the interpretation of the Articles, we can show what the chief Anglican divines have said on the subject; and we mean to prove that, more or less, they have interpreted the Articles by the general doctrine of the Church, i. e. by Catholic belief, rather than by the obiter dicta of certain individuals who happened to be their writers or compilers.

The occasion which leads us into this discussion is well known. It is now nearly four years ago since Mr. Newman published the celebrated No. 90, (Tracts for the Times,) grounded upon this free interpretation of the Articles. Among those who accepted with marked gratitude this interpretation, was Mr. W. G. Ward, Fellow of Baliol, who, in two publications of that year, ' A Few Words,' and ' A Few more Words in defence of No. 90,' carried

[ocr errors]

this principle to its utmost limits, and, in subsequent publications, as most people think, beyond its limits; especially in a publication, The Ideal of a Christian Church.' With this work we are not now concerned, nor with Mr. Newman's tract; but only with a certain proposed statute, which is to come before Convocation, Feb. 13, which we subjoin in a note.*

* “WHEREAS, it is notoriously reputed and believed throughout this University, that a book, entitled “ The Ideal of a Christian Church considered,” has recently been published in Oxford, by the Rev. William George Ward, M.A. ; in which book are contained the following passages : viz.P. 45 (note). I know no single movement in the Church except Arianism in the fourth century,

' which seems to me so wholly destitute of all claims on our sympathy and regard, as the

' English Reformation.' P. 473. * For my own part I think it would not be right to conceal, indeed I am anxious openly * to express, my own most firm and undoubting conviction,--that were we as a Church to pursue such a line of conduct as has been here sketched, in proportion as we did so, we should be taught from above to discern and appreciate the plain marks of Divine wisdom and authority in the Roman Church, to repent in sorrow and bitterness of heart our great sin in desert‘ing her communion, and to sue humbly at her feet for pardon and restoration.' P. 68. * That the phrase "teaching of the Prayer-Book" conveys a detinite and important mean

ing, I do not deny; considering that it is mainly a selection from the Breviary, it is not surprising that the Prayer-Book should, on the whole, breathe an uniform, most edifying, deeply orthodox, spirit; a spirit which corresponds to one particular body of doctrine, and not to its

contradictory. Again, that the phrase, “teaching of the Articles." conveys a definite mean‘ing, I cannot deny; for (excepting the five first, which belong to the old theology) they also 'breathe an uniform intelligible spirit. But then these respective spirits are not different 'merely, but absolutely contradictory; as well could a student in the heathen schools hare 'imbibed at once the Stoic and the Epicurean philosophies, as could a humble member of 'our Church at the present time learn his creed both from Prayer-Book and Articles. This I set out at length in two Pamphlets, with an Appendix, which I published three years ago;

and it cannot therefore be necessary to go again over the same ground: though something 'must be added, occasionally in notes, and more methodically in a future chapter. The 'manner in which the dry wording of the Articles can be divorced from their natural spirit, ' and accepted by an orthodox believer; how their prima facie meaning is evaded, and the 'artifice of their inventors thrown back in recoil on themselves; this, and the arguments which

prove the honesty of this, have now been for some time before the public.' P. 100 (note). 'In my Pamphlets three years since, I distinctly charged the Reformers with 'fully tolerating the absence from the Articles of any real anti-Roman determination, so only they were allowed to preserve an apparent one: a charge, which I here beg as distinctly to

repeat.' P. 479. Our twelfth Article is as plain as words can make it, on the 'evangelical' side: (observe

in particular the word "necessarily"): of course I think its natural meaning may be explained

away, for I subscribe it myself in a non-natural sense.' P. 565. "We find, oh most joyful, most wonderful, most unexpected sight! we find the whole

'cycle of Roman doctrine gradually possessing numbers of English Churchmen.' P. 567. * Three years have passed since I said plainly, that, in subscribing the Articles, I

renounce no one Roman doctrine.' And whereas the said William George Ward, before the publication of the said book, was admitted to the respective Degrees of B.A. and M.A. of this University, on the faith of the following Declaration; which Declaration was made and subscribed by him before and in order to his being admitted to each of the said Degrees; that is to say :-'I allow the Book of Articles of Religion, agreed upon by the Arch• bishops and Bishops of both provinces, and the whole Clergy in the Convocation " holden at London in the year of our Lord God one thousand five hundred sixty and

two; and I acknowledge all and every the Articles therein contained, being in num• ber nine and thirty, besides the Ratification, to be agreeable to the Word of God :'

And whereas the said passages of the said book appear to be inconsistent with the said Articles, and with the said Declaration, and with the good faith of him the said William George Ward, in making and subscribing the same :

In A CONVOCATION to be holden on Thursday, the 13th day of February next, at One o'clock, the foregoing passages from the said book will be read, and the following Proposition will be submitted to the House :That the Passages now read from the book entitled 'The Ideal of a Christian Church consi

dered' are utterly inconsistent with the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, and with the Declaration in respect of those Articles made and subscribed by William George Ward previously and in order to his being admitted to the Degrees of B.A. and M.Å. respectively, and with the good faith of him the said William George Ward in respect of such Declaration and Subscription.


[ocr errors]


« הקודםהמשך »