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' name, merely a congeries of mob-ruled independencies.'Abstract Principles of Revealed Religion, pp. 339, 344.
It was exactly because the circumstance was in itself apparently trivial that we regret its issue being staked on the high and commanding ground of authority: we would have reserved such an appeal for an occasion more dignified and vital. Such would not have failed to present itself. As it is, the game was scarcely worth its candles. Not that we are disposed to acquiesce in Mr. Drummond's gloomy view of the actual results of the late contest. As we have claimed some sympathy for the judicial blindness which obscured plain duty to the Clergy of a past day, 80 we think considerable allowance must be made for the laity of our own generation. To use the words of a recent sermon
*I do very deeply sympathize with the perplexities which are occasioned by changes in modes of worship. Abating from the present tumult all that is merely venal and worldly ; making allowance for those who swell the cry only because they, consistently enough, hate whatever, assuming even to aim at a religious walk, casts reflection upon their own corrupt and selfish lives ; deducting all the mass of Sectarians and infidels, who are now admitted, by the cheap accident of being inhabitant householders, to have a voice in dictating the mode of conducting the Holy Christian Mysteries, -I say, separating off all these most miserable elements in the present popular outbreak, there yet remains, I am glad to think, somewhat, and I would hope, much, of real religious earnestness in those, my brethren of the laity, who look back, when they see the storm lowering, to days which were at least peaceful, and to practices which, at least, caused no dissension. I gladly admit that I sympathize, which is more than to make allowances ; because, as I have said, I know the force of early associations and habits. Besides, the practice of our lives, short as they are, becomes a religious tradition to us : and this surely cannot be otherwise than a sacred thing to an earnest mind. If we have never known any other than a debased mode of conducting public worship, and if we have neither a call, nor leisure, nor other helps, to institute an historical inquiry, and to weigh the force of conflicting evidence, then, whatever the mode of Service to which we have been accustomed in itself is, still its change must, and ought to, excite our suspicions. The length of time for which any given practice has obtained is, in fact, unimportant. Anything looks, and must look, like an innovation if it is new to us. And, practically, it is of little use going into a detailed proof, that all that is called innovation is, in truth, but restoration; because the majority of people are governed, and, in a sense, properly, rather by temper than by elaborate proof.
'I own, then, that there is a strong antecedent objection and prejudice to the revival of obedience to the laws of the Church ; because any change must look like innovation ; and, as far as it goes, this really is a Christian and Church-like feeling: -Scott's Sermon, pp. 27, 28.
Taking, then, the present outbreak at the very worst, what people
does it amount to? A convincing proof that the laity of the Church of England, as a body—that is to say, the mass of who attend such and such a church, without receiving the sacraments, and only as a piece of once-a-week decency-are ignorant of the first principles of the Christian religion ; and that such among them as are in earnest are rabid fanatics. It has come out that ignorance and false doctrine make up the mass of socalled religion in most of the congregations of our parishes, suburban alike and rural. Well: supposing all this proved-no sensible person ever doubted it; none, that is, but that very unwise class who are in the habit of talking about apostolical succession after dinner, and preaching glibly of the spread of Church principles, because they can get an antependium embroidered, or because old Goody Jones, at the Curate's carnest solicitations, has cut the meeting-house: very good results these, in their way, both the frontal and the old dame's conformity, but still absurdly unfair tests of the tremendous amount of sin and evil festering and corrupting and blistering the proud, hard hearts of those who, by a frightful energy of language, are known as the masses.' Could we doubt that, as a country, England was apostate; that, as a Church, spiritual authority and obedience only existed in books, and regrets, and in young men's dreams? We are not at all of those who could never have foreseen the events of December 1844: to say the truth, we are not much surprised that the Clergy are hunted, and that even a cathedral city yells from all its alleys upon a provocation so trumpery as the sight of a surplice in the pulpit. Somehow the national conscience began to suspect that a vigorous assault was making in some direction on the national character; and it was right. The Church and the world must come into direct conflict sooner or later; and the little accidents and Tápepya of a system, which offertories and surplices, rating them at the highest, are, present precisely the salient points upon which to fasten a vigorous complaint of Popish innovations. It is the very cry which has always found the readiest echo in an English breast; on the odisse quem ignoras principle. Now surplices and offertories every body can understand-segnius irritant, &c.—and every body can make a grievance of; prudence, therefore, we think would have reserved these things; at least, would not have enjoined them as general observances. It was hardly worth while to raise the storm on such a subject; it was assaulting England in its tenderest point; it was telling the people that they had been miserably selfish and miserably ignorant for the last century. Now, however true such a charge may be, it is by no means pleasant for an irreligious man to be told that he is irreligious; for a mean, covetous man to be told that he has been grasping .and self-indulgent all his life. And that England is irreligious, and that this charge was the meaning of the proposed weekly offertory and amended ritual, there can be no question. • What, am I to be told openly that I never said my prayers properly ?' is the indignant question of the father of a family.' Anyhow, I'll show these Puseyites that I won't say my prayers their way. I am not sure that I'll say them at all; just to spite the parson.' But this feeling is so well expressed by a bystander, a clever infidel writer of the present day—for it would be a slander upon
Mr.W.J. Fox to call him even a Socinian—that we avail ourselves of a most brilliant sketch of the actual state of practical Church-of-Englandism.
'John Bull is occasionally apt to forget that he is a Churchman in the recollection that he is an Englishman ; upholding the feelings of his nature and the tendencies of habit, in opposition to his religious profession. When alterations are made in the form of worship to which he is accustomed, and especially the introduction, though it may be in fact only the revival, of such a custom as the offertory,-yet as it becomes a money-question, it is the very thing to rouse his antagonism. At sight of the Clergyman in his surplice, and the churchwardens with their basins, coming to each pew to collect money, his blood is immediately up. No; he will not stand that sort of thing. He resents the affront to his dignity, and the design upon his pocket. Why should he be taxed in this way? It is true, he is easily caught, as the man who held the plate at Marylebone church the other day well knew, putting three sovereigns into the plate (intending to take two of them back again after the collection), as decoy-ducks to draw larger contributions from those who went out. Resistance to forced alms-deeds is a principle of John Bull's nature;
attempt to get money from him by compulsion, and he instantly buttons his breeches pocket and says he will not be humbugged. Nay, he declares (the language has been literally used) that not only will he not give, but none of his family shall ; no, not any person connected with his household : he will search his wife and daughters before they go to church, and take care that they have not a sixpence about them to contribute to this abominable offertory. He will have a placard posted on his pew door, “ No alms given here !” The Clergyman puts on a surplice; why, a parson in a gown preached to his father ; most respectable people have been admonished in gowns ; and if a gown was good enough for his father's Clergyman, it is good enough for his own Clergyman. He will not be lectured in white--not he—when he and his ancestors have always been used to black. The “communion-table” was a table in his father's time, and it shall not be an altar in his days. And, then, as to catechising or baptizing children during service-time, that is “ too bad.” He does his duty in going to church ; he sets an example to the parish ; he calls himself a “miserable sinner” with the rest of his neighbours; it is quite sufficient for him to do that : he is not going to listen, in addition, to the crying of sprinkled infants, or to hear all those dirty children repeat the ten
commandments. Is his dinner to be kept back for that? Not it, indeed. So as soon as anything of the sort is going forward, out he marches in the offended dignity of Anglican Protestantism, goes home, and there sits sulky, "nursing his wrath, to keep it warm," by reading the correspondence of the Times newspaper. Nay, more ; he positively writes to the editor himself: you may know him at once by his style. Here is a letter which the Times only yesterday put into its large type :
*" To the Editor of the Times. ««• How is it then, brethren ? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.'-1 Cor. xiv. 26.
«“Sir, It is too clear that the above is the unhappy representation of the two dioceses of London and Exeter. I shall not trouble you much. Is this to be borne by the people of England generally? My own opinion, and that of many others with whom I have conversed, is, that the two bishops, the authors of these mischiefs, ought to retire, or, infallibly, episcopacy will have received its death-blow from their hands. What conscientious parent will suffer either of them to confirm their children? None. There is, therefore, an end of one of the indispensable offices of our Church in those dioceses. They now, I perceive, pretend to permit those of the Clergy whose consciences will allow them to withdraw the obnoxious innovations. Sir, did they consult or ask the Clergy anything about their consciences when they'enjoined,' authoritatively commanded,' the innovations? Are they not, then, as powerful to command a return to the old practice as to command the violation of it? Eh? ""Sir, the people of England expect their retirement.
"“I am, Sir, &c.
“ VINDICATOR," ! Lectures to the Working Classes, by W. J. Fox. Lect. viii. 120—122.
Indeed, the mistake, if such it be, seems to have been this : Ritual and ceremonial are aids to devotion; they are sacramental, it is said ; they are ineans to grace, they are helps for men to become religious. Quite true; they are so; but only to those who are already religious in some degree. In themselves, besides their use to our edification, they are for God's glory: they are of the nature of a sacrifice; they are rather part of the Church's offering and incense to Heaven; they are her reverent voice and lowly gesture to her Lord, the anointing of His sacred feet and the wiping of them with all that we hold beautiful and precious. If, therefore, it was supposed that England could be converted by generally restoring rubrical observances, this thought, wherever it exists, shows a fundamental ignorance of the final cause of worship, especially in its richer and more splendid development. For such as the majority of our congregations even to be present at the celebration of the mysteries is unspeakably dangerous ; and if to bring out the symbolical and more sacred idea of all our services were the object of the revival and restoration of neglected beauty and forgotten propriety, then, in proportion as they assumed a sacramental bearing, and taught with a sacramental purpose, did they become unfitted for such as we have about us. Ne mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos ; but surely, if the pearls are already dim, and dull and defiled, the irreverence is not so dangerous in trampling upon them, as when displayed in their full lustre; then the danger of causing offences may be infinitely increased. When, therefore, we said that the revival was premature, we might have added that it was incomplete; that is, as a general measure. All along we are speaking of a compulsory restoration, not of the value of ritual in particular congregations. It was incomplete, because other things ought to have accompanied it. If the Bishops and Clergy were prepared at one blow to forbid one-half of our congregations ab ingressu Ecclesiæ ; if they were ready to preach in the very streets a crusade and never-ceasing appeal against all our popular sins; if they were prepared with a measure for carrying out a system of confession and discipline; if they were equally earnest to restore the canonical election of Bishops, and, with a compulsory restoration of ritual, were as zealous for a compulsory restoration of Catholic doctrine, then no rubrical conformity would be too strict for a Church so reformed; no ritual would be too precise or dignified for such as would then remain the Church's elect children, the sons ever with her.
Indeed, as a Church, we may as well make the confession openly; we have no right whatever to liturgical development, for which some among us seem so anxious; nor yet for a ceremonial ritual as such, to a great, or even to a moderate degree of dignity ; nor can we have a right, i.e. as a Church, whatever individual congregations may claim, to that modicum of beauty and significant grace which even the laws of our own Church prescribe or permit. Let us take these things as parts of our burden. For an isolated Church, a solitary speech and a confined range of thought and expression, seem not only most natural, but most becoming. For a national Church which makes but a faint appeal against general national corruption, surely other than soiled garments and an unjewelled front would be scarcely fitting. And for a divided Church-split into factions, and burning with suspicions and hatred, as well as actually uncertain about its own laws and authoritative witness,—what so significant with a melancholy appropriateness as the fact of a Prayer-book in so many Churches mangled and distorted to suit prevailing heretical fancies and faithlessness ? No: let us be assured that we