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will quite agree as to the peculiar value and bearing of the fact --not the causes, or the remedies, or the right, or the wrong of it, but the fact itself- of a dislocated and unauthoritative, and if so be, illegal ceremonial, or absence of ceremonial, whichever way it is viewed. None of us seem to know what to make of the present state of things; it will not fit in and dovetail correctly, as far as we see, with any of the sensible, precise, definite, cutand-dry theories, and lines, which are in vogue. And thus we all seem disposed to bend the fact, and gloss it over, to meet some preconceived theory, rather than consent to let the various abstract views yield to the irresistible and inflexible fact.

The great fact, then, that we ought steadily to keep in sight, meet it manfully, and admit it, is this:

That admitting that the Church of England has authority and power to decree rites and ceremonies ;' that it has so decreed; that it has availed itself, on more than one occasion, of the civil power to enforce uniformity in such things, and this with a view, of course, to spiritual edification; and all this apart from any consideration of the abstract nature of the things, which are owned to be in themselves ir.different, but solely as a symbol of authority, and a test of obedience, in matters to refuse which is to offend against the common order of the Church, and hurt the authority of the [spiritual] magistrate ;' that it has fenced this test of obedience by canons, by rubrics, by oaths at ordination, institution, and induction; that, in the most stringent way, it has claimed by every sanction of law, ecclesiastical and civil, as well as by moral obligation, the most strict and literal compliance with such ceremonial, order, and external uniformity; yet still that at no period of our history has the Church of England ever exacted, or if exacted, compelled, anything like such uniformity.

This, we say, is the stern invincible fact. On the one hand the writers of that most remarkable compilation, the Hierurgia Anglicana, neither prove, nor pretend to prove, that compliance with the literal laws of the Church ever was universal; they might find it hard to show that it was ever general: nor, on the other hand, can Mr. Robertson, and writers of his class, show that the Church ever attempted to forego the right, or, in theory, ever seemed to doubt the propriety, of enjoining and aiming at such obedience. On the contrary rather, on each occasion that it did synodically speak, the Church seems to have redoubled its anxiety on this very point; never did it seem to relax one hair's breadth: even in the most licentious times a ceremonial and orderly form of religion was its aim and expressed spirit.

And there are various ways in which this fact must be estimated. Some claim this undeniable discrepancy, now of three



centuries' standing, between profession and practice, as a strong argument against the reality of the avowed principles. Never could the Church of England, it is said, have meant much, if any thing, by the high-sounding averment of authority in indifferent things; or care would have been taken to enforce obedience. And to such a view ritual nonconformity is made to bear a strong evidence to the awkward impression, that the Church of England is only a voluntary and human association, in which authority neither resided, nor was affected to reside. And we are not sure that this is not a tolerably natural use of the fact. Let it not be thought, however, that all who would acquiesce in this as the moral value of the fact, are at all agreed in their estimate of its propriety. Some-we must abstain from particularizing lines of thought by individual names—in this practical abeyance of authority, would with sorrow discover the most convincing proof that ours was only a Church in name. Such ought not to be in a true Church, they would say, but such has been, and is, in the Anglican communion; and—but the inference is obvious. Others, again, would cheerfully recognise, in the very same admitted fact, a clear proof of the practical embodiment in the de facto Anglican system of the common Protestant and voluntary notion of a Church being only an accidental congeries of individuals held together by the tie of accidental and fluctuating agreement in teaching; a body, that is, in which external order was unessential and not enjoined.

Either way, these opposite conclusions would be alike unpalatable to the rigid and technical school of High Churchmen. It is no wonder, then, that from them emanated, and in them have been most conspicuous and persevering, the attempts to compel what has been called Chinese exactness' in ritual. With them the question was one of life or death. Laud's line, the most inflexibly and consistently Anglican among us, was most strongly developed in this particular direction, and reasonably so. The true via media ceases to be such at the very slightest deflection; that is, if in any real and intelligible sense it becomes a kind of Lesbian rule, collapsing from, or protruding against, opposite assaults or tendencies. Hence it comes naturally that the most formal school among us lays much stress upon the present rubrical controversy. Minds which can conceive nothing more perfect than the abstract Anglican theory, which surrender themselves implicitly to the stern repulsive teaching of the early canons in the code of 1604,—which will admit and conceive neither development nor variation from the compound system of Prayer-book and Articles and Homilies, reconciled into one consistent whole,-regard, and consistently enough, in ceremonial uniformity the most indisputable triumph of their

theory. To say, therefore, that the rubricians are Popishly disposed, is to show the most complete ignorance, both of men and principles. If any one struggle can be more Anti-Roman than another, it is that embarked in by the Bishop of Exeter.

Again, apart from all these consistent schools, and in various ways there is a compact consistency belonging to them all, remains another body of thinkers, who claim some indulgence, and a more candid estimate than they seem likely to receive; and as we desire to treat this subject historically, and at the same time tentatively, it is but fair to give as unbiassed a view of the various parties in our present divisions as is possible. We preclude ourselves from settling claims: it will be useful rather to state the more hidden sources of action. Such are the men who cannot live upon abstract principles, and who desire something more congenial to daily and present duties than inapplicable theories. It is not all men that can see what ought to be in what is. Inferior to none in devotion, and allegiance, and reverence to the Catholic Ideal, still such cannot help feeling that their duties are with the tangled and dislocated Present, not with the glorious Past, or with the solemn vision of a still more glorious Future. Ours, they would say, is to take the Church, not to make it; still less is it our duty to pretend to see in the Church that which it is not. For first, say what we will, -account for it as we can,-still the Church, is not the Nation, of England; the two rules are no longer harmonious expressions under opposite relations of one and the same Heavenly Government. Every hour is snapping thread after thread, which tied Church and State together. Each seems drawing back into its original attitude of mutual distrust. Under such a condition of society it does seem little short of mockery to act as though that formal and technical Elizabethan system had life in any sense.

Take for example, "Every parishioner shall communicate at the least three times in the year, of which Easter to be one:' or if not, then the whole round of presentation, excommunication, and the rest. Now let any person of the commonest sense take but this one single rubric, and all the consequences that flow from it, and if the favourite phrases of carrying out the Church system, and obeying the Prayer-book,' have a meaning, to what tremendous conflicts and duties do they tie us all! It is not that they disparage ceremonial religion,—the very opposite; it is not again that they undervalue the great blessing of external uniformity as a most engaging help towards spiritual unity; this is not the difficulty which many feel; but it is because such uniformity seems unreal, as things are, that such cannot sympathize with those excellent persons who lay so much stress upon it. As things are, we repeat;- as they ought to be, as the Church

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assumes throughout her services, as in a healthy state of things they would be,-these are not our present conditions of duty and judgment; but, as things are, what would come of universal rubrical uniformity, even if it were practicable? Would the most accurate obedience to the letter of the service-book make England that which, for whatever reason, and under whatever compulsion, it was, or perhaps assumed to be, three hundred years ago, when every man and woman went, or were supposed to go, to their parish Church every Sunday, and to communion duly at Easter? It is from a strong feeling of the inconsistency between promise and performance,-between undeniable facts and a somewhat visionary abstraction,--that many, whose views we are trying to bring out, doubt whether canonical uniformity, were it possible, should be our present primary aim.

Again, they look at the past in some such way as this: Ritual observances they deem but the formal exponents of the hidden mind of the Church; and chiefly the visible shape in which actual doctrine approves itself before God and to man. In the English Church of the last three centuries history shows the existence of at least two main elements, the Catholic and Protestant,-each with its strong points, its partial successes, its symbolical standards. And from the fact of the varying and constant collisions between these opposite principles, they can account for the very discordant way in which ritual has practically, among us, displayed itself. "Unable to assent to the dogmatizing proofs of such writers as Wheatly, that there can be but one unvarying type of the Anglican ceremonial, and for the most part careless of such praiseworthy, but unsuccessful, attempts to reduce facts into anything like historical unity and harmony, they expect to find much variety. They can account for such varieties as the legitimate results of our chequered doctrine. It seems just as natural that some should have differed in excess, as that some should differ in defect from the Anglican ritual. It is quite in keeping, it may be argued, that we should find as much above as below the letter of the rubrical law. Knowing what our doctrine and grasp of antiquity and Catholic truth has been at different periods, they find no difficulty in admitting that Andrewes used incense, and the tricanale for the mixed chalice, and adoration to the altar, and that Laud employed exorcism at consecrations, and that Overall transposed the prayers in the communion office: all this on the one hand, and on the other that Hooper scrupled at the surplice; that fonts have been superseded by white basins, and that a picture exists in which a priest, ministering at the altar, is vested in a black gown. Upon such a view the existence of stone altars, which whether the Church prescribes or permits—and we hold a very strong opinion that

they are permitted by the Church-it is unquestionable that the diffused temper of the Church has been against, is not a whit less or more remarkable than the absence of copes, which it is equally undeniable the law of the Church has enjoined. Rubrical inconsistency, whether above or below the written orders, is exactly what we should expect in a fluctuating and unsettled state of doctrine. The form aptly expresses the spirit. And until the most important and paramount matters of doctrinal unity is secured, they think it hopeless, if not impolitic, to seek for a general measure of ceremonial uniformity. Till the Church has settled the doctrine of the sacraments, albe or surplice seems but an unprofitable speculation. Before episcopal authority is defined, it seems a waste of time to settle the terms of a Pontifical; and while there is an uncertain voice about such fundamentals of the Christian life as justification and regeneration, some variety may be looked for in candlesticks, and giving out the Psalms. It may be borne with, as one burden among many; submitted to, and endured, rather than welcomed and approved: to say which is by no means to disparage the intrinsic importance of such inquiries. It is their relative, not their positive value, about which doubts are felt.

Once more: supposing that the whole Church of England, in its fifteen thousand Churches, could, by any possibility, return to the strict Anglican ceremonial in all its details, with the most unyielding and uncompromising identity, what could be the positive gain? Would it not be something grotesque, almost to absurdity, for those who deny the Real Presence, to figure in chasuble and tunicle? and for those who confine the Bread of Life to sermons upon Ultra-Lutheran justification, to be forced to offer the daily Matins and Evensong? It does seem something akin to whitening dead men's sepulchres in external splendour and decency, before we have cleansed the bones and rottenness within. To be Catholic in vesture and guise before we are Catholic in spirit and teaching, ought not to be wished for. So, at least, many, and those not the least earnest, argue.

All this, however, it must be observed, only addresses itself to the general question-viz., how far, under present circumstances, it is desirable to wish for a sweeping measure which shall compel a general return, in every parish of England, to the ascertained or ascertainable laws of the Church the written laws, that is, making no allowance for the actual spirit and temper of the Church at the present day. At this stage of the argument we may pass over what that law is, and the conflicting claims of positive engagements on the part of the clergy, and what practically is said to amount to a tacit dispensation from canonical vows on the part of the ordinary authority. And here

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