Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [9th July], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is inexpedient to proceed further with a measure for amending the administration of the Law in regard to offences against the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer while that Law is in an uncertain condition,"—(Mr. Hall,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, there was one principle which he believed was dear to the hearts of all Englishmen in every possible phase of life; that there was one maxim which was written in the hearts of all Englishmen and which guided them through life, and that maxim was obedience to the law. Whether it was the Queen upon the Throne, or the pauper in a workhouse, or the Members of the other House or that House of Parliament, or any other rank of life, there was no exception to the rule that every person of every class and condition was bound to obey the law. In that respect, so far as he was aware, there was no "benefit of clergy." 14 Let them now consider for a moment the position of the clergy of the Church of England—and he wished at the outset of his remarks to tender to them everything he could say well of them as a body. He did not believe that, from one end of the world to the other, any other body of persons worked so hard and for so little money, or did so much to further the objects which they had in view. They devoted their lives entirely to the work they had to do, and they held out to the laity of this and other countries, a great example of self-denial not only in the amount and character of their labour, but also in giving largely for charitable objects out of very scanty means. At the same time, they held a position very different from other members of the community in these respects; they had great opportunities for good; they had great duties to perform; but they, like everyone else, were bound to obey the law. When a clergyman was first ordained, he entered into a solemn contract with the nation that he would obey the law of the Church as accepted by the nation; that he would preach the doctrines of that Church not according to his own interpretation of Scripture and ancient writings, but as those doctrines were laid down in the great charters of the Church which had been accepted by the nation. Those charters were to be interpreted like any other documents; they were to be interpreted not according to the will or fancy of an individual clergyman, but by the Supreme Court of Law of this country. And even in the case of clergymen who were not members of the Established Church, the moment a question about property arose, the law stepped in, and held that no clergyman had a right in that property, whether he was a Dissenter, or a Nonconformist, or a Roman Catholic, unless he preached the doctrines held by the religious denomination of which the person who bequeathed that property was a member. The same course was observed in the case of property bequeathed by a member of the Church of England, and the case was exactly the same, whether the doctrines or the ritual of the Church of England was concerned. A clergyman could only carry on the service of the Church in the way in which that service had been accepted by the nation, and had been laid down by the law, and in 15 doing that he had no right to step beyond the documents of the Church, which must be interpreted in every case just as any other documents were—by the law of the land. He was very much surprised at the great number of letters which he had received on the subject from members of the Church of England. Some of those letters had given him very great pain, and he would read only one sentence from one of them. It was to this effect—As regards these ritual matters, what we say is this—that while the Church, speaking by her formularies and by her confessions, is on our side, or rather we on hers, the State, speaking by the late judgment of the Judicial Committee, is against us." And this was the painful part of the letter. "And that in these matters our duty of obedience is to the Church at whose altars we serve.Now, that was a state of things which he did not think the House or the nation at large would allow to go on. If the doctrines or ritual of the Church, as laid down in charters and documents, and interpreted by law, contained that which they were supposed not to contain, as many Acts of Parliament, when interpreted by a Court of Law, have been held to contain what it was supposed they did not contain—if by interpretation in Courts of Law, the law was proved not to mean that which it was supposed to mean—what was the remedy? The remedy was not for a clergyman to disobey the law, but by the ordinary process by which that law was originally made law, to have it altered. The matter was no new matter. They all knew that a great improvement was made by the Church Discipline Act of 1840, and it was anticipated that under that Act matters would go on smoothly, and that it would practically remove a great many objections, and put an end to a great deal of the delay and expense which had occurred in certain matters. Every objection, however, to the present Bill might have been made with equal, and even with greater, force to the Church Discipline Act of 1840; but the result of the Act of 1840 was this—that its procedure had been found to be very cumbrous and very expensive, and that it gave rise to a vast amount of untold delay, so much so, that at different times, for many years past, attempts had been made to alter that law. Let him call the attention of the House briefly to those attempts. In 1847 a 16 Bill was brought in on the subject by the then Bishop of London. In 1848 a Bill was again brought in by the Bishop of London. In 1849 a Bill was again brought in by the Bishop of London, and in the last-mentioned year the Government itself took up a measure, which Lord Cranworth brought in, for the purpose of altering that law. It was a curious fact, as far as that Bill was concerned, that every one of the English Bishops voted against it, and that every one of the Irish Bishops voted for it. In 1869 the matter was stirred in the House of Lords by Lord Shaftesbury. In 1870, a Bill on the same subject was brought in; but owing to the unfortunate illness of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was not discussed until 1871. In 1872 a Bill was again introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Shaftesbury. That Bill passed the House of Lords, and was brought down to the House of Commons, and he (Mr. Cross) had the honour of having charge of that Bill when it was in the House of Commons. He did not agree with many of its provisions, just as with regard to the present Bill he disapproved of many matters contained in it, and which were contained in the Bill of 1872; but the evils of the Church Discipline Act having been brought under notice the feeling was unanimous on all sides of the House, not in favour of the Bill of Lord Shaftesbury, but, that a Bill to correct those evils should be passed. The House at that time manifested a strong desire to have the faults of the Act of 1840 corrected, and he (Mr. Cross) himself expressed his feeling on the subject in the strongest manner. But, let him call attention to the words of the late Prime Minister on that occasion. The late Prime Minister on that occasion said—He was quite prepared to accept the proposition that there was an urgent ease for legislation in connection with this matter.Now, if the case was urgent in 1872, why was it not urgent in 1874? He (Mr. Cross) thought that if the case was urgent in 1872, it was at least as urgent, if not more urgent, in 1874. The late Prime Minister had said in the course of the debate on the present Bill, that matters of this kind ought not to be brought forward unless with the concurrence of the Government of the day and of the authorities of the Church. That was not the case with regard to 17 to the former Bills. There was no such concurrence as to the Bills introduced in 1847, 1848, and 1849. There was no such concurrence with regard to the Bills introduced in 1869 and 1870, or with regard to the Bill introduced by Lord Shaftesbury in 1872. And when at the time he (Mr. Cross) did propose that the then Government, in the interests of the Church, should take up the matter, the then Prime Minister got up and gave this answer—He had, however, to take exception to the hon. Gentleman's assumption that this was a question which could only be dealt with by Government, and also to his strong recommendation to the Government to take it up.The late Prime Minister also said on that occasion—It would be improper for the Government to hold out an expectation that it could deal with the question consistently with the other demands upon its time. He therefore hoped the hon. Gentleman would not think that he (Mr. Gladstone) was practising the old trick of retorting upon him if he recommended him to bring forward a measure himself."—[3 Hansard, ccxiii. 195.]The right hon. Gentleman also said, that the Government of the day would be desirous of rendering every assistance in their power to him (Mr. Cross) with reference to the carrying of a Bill on the subject. What came then of the great and eloquent speech made by the late Prime Minister, the other night, when he insisted with all the powers of eloquence he could use, that that was not a matter to be dealt with by a private Member, except with the concurrence of the Government of the day? He (Mr. Cross) said, without fear of contradiction, that it was nothing more nor less than a matter of procedure. The right, hon. Gentleman attempted to lecture the right hon. and learned Member who had charge of the Bill in that House, for the course he had pursued in bringing it forward without having studied the question, and said "The right hon. and learned Gentleman has treated it all as a mere matter of procedure; "but that he (Mr. Gladstone) placed it on far higher grounds, and maintained that no general law could be strictly enforced without doing a great wrong to many congregations whose feelings ought not to be rashly disturbed. He (Mr. Cross), however, took his view of the Bill not from any notions he had formed, but founded his interpretation of the Bill 18 on a letter written by a noble and learned Lord, a great friend of the late Prime Minister, and one of his most warmly attached Friends and Counsellors—Lord Selborne—who had said—This Bill will, if it passes, be merely a measure for shortening and simplifying to a certain extent the legal procedure in a certain class of cases now cognizable under the present cumbrous procedure of the Ecclesiastical Courts. It creates no new offence, but is founded solely upon the ecclesiastical law as now contained in the Prayer-Book, rubrics, and canons agreed to by the Church above 200 years ago. How, therefore, any part of the substance of Church discipline, or of the rights of the clergy can be affected by the proposed legislation is not to me apparent, unless, indeed, it is contended that the clergy have a vested interest in the continuance of technical and formal impediments to the execution of the laws of the Church.Now, he (Mr. Cross) took his stand on this broad and intelligible principle—that the liberties of the clergy of the Church of England were defined by law, and that while they should be allowed every liberty within the letter of that law, beyond it they should not go. And if the law or the procedure was cumbrous, then he said that the course was either to alter the law or, if they kept the law as it was, to alter the procedure. "But," said the right hon. Gentleman, "they had no notion of the mischief they were doing, and of the irritation they were causing by such enactments as the Bill contained." That, he (Mr. Cross) thought was rather an argument for passing the Bill than the reverse. If there was a determination—which he did not believe there was—on the part of the great number of the clergy to break the law, it would be an argument for taking pre-cautions to prevent the law being broken. "But," his right hon. Friend said further, "look at the confusion you will cause by the Bill. You will have everywhere three indiscreet parishioners and one indiscreet Bishop out of the 27 or 28 Bishops, by whom the law may be set in motion, while the discretion of all the parishioners, and all the remaining Bishops will be injuriously affected, and doubts and difficulties are likely to be brought before the Court." As to the indiscretion of Bishops, the number of cases which might be brought before the Court through a Bishop's indiscretion was not likely to be greater than under the present law; and as to doubts and difficulties, one of the objects of this Bill was to render the mode of procedure simpler 19 than it was now. The right hon. Gentleman was utterly wrong in his premise, and consequently he was wrong in his conclusions. Take the two cases mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman—one was the reading of the Athanasian Creed, and the other was the reading of the prayer for the Church Militant. Nothing could be clearer than the direction in the Prayer Book that these should be read. Well, suppose the clergyman did not road it, the three indiscreet parishioners went to the indiscreet Bishop, and the Bishop ordered him to read it, and upon his refusal took the proceedings which the law ordered him to do. What then? That was no alteration of the law, and a decision of the Court could not make the law clearer than it was; and it was equally unfounded to say that in the same case, the discretion of the other Bishops would be interfered with. That was perhaps a simple case, but if they took another and more doubtful one—for instance, the question of catechising—they would see that it was one precisely in the same category with the reading of the Athanasian Creed. Of course, in any matter of vital importance, the opinion of the Supreme Court would be taken in order to see what the law was: but when that opinion was pronounced there would be no new law, for the Court would simply declare what the law taught. The Court might be asked to settle questions as to the use of some hymns, or the teaching of catechisms, or the reading of the Athanasian Creed and other matters; but the decision of the Court would not be new law, but merely declarations of what the law enacted. The Bill would not interfere with the discretion of a single Bishop or clergyman in the country, neither would it interfere in any way with the law. If the law were wrong let it be altered; but if it were law, let it prevail. The right hon. Gentleman said, he had no objection to the Bill as a matter of procedure; but that the effect of it would be, that the usual practices of the Church of England in many parishes would be disturbed, and he observed that within a short distance of that House there were three churches, those of St. Michael, St. Peter and St. Paul, the services of which were all different, and yet all had large congregations, and their services were most popular, and he said they were going by the Bill ruthlessly to break all those 20 congregations up. But let them only consider what might happen at present. The clergyman of St. Michael's might have another church in the country, and upon his death or removal, another clergyman would be appointed to his church in the country, and perhaps the clergyman would be the clergyman of St. Peter's or St. Paul's, a clergyman of entirely different ideas, whose presence at the church in the country would throw the whole congregation into confusion. That result might well ensue from the action of an indiscreet patron—for there where indiscreet patrons as well as indiscreet parishioners and Bishops. The right hon. Gentleman wished, under those circumstances, to continue in that post a man of opposite views, and who, by carrying them out to their fullest extent, would put the parish into a perfect ferment. He (Mr. Cross) maintained that the laity of the Church of England throughout the land had a right to know that to whatever church they went, if they went into the Church of England, they would have the services of that Church framed according to the doctrines of that Church, and beyond that there was nothing more in the Bill. If there was, it would be better to go in for disestablishment at once. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: That is all I ask.] Yes, but the difference between them was this, that his hon. Friend objected to any alteration in the cumbrous mode of procedure by which the object was to be achieved which they both had in view. That was no new subject. The Bills which had been introduced in previous Parliaments by his noble Friend the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) and the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) though he (Mr Cross) did not agree with them, all gave expression to the solemn determination of the people of England that the services of the Church should be maintained. Was an obsolete, cumbrous, and expensive mode of procedure to be kept up solely for the purpose of preventing the law being put in force? He simply asked that the laity of the Church of England should have that protection which the members of other religious Bodies had, and that members of the Church of England should be under the same obligation, and no other, as the clergy of every other religious community. He believed the Bill simply gave expression to the feelings of the people of 21 England with regard to the mode of performing the services of the Church of England—namely, according to the Ritual of that Church. But, said the right hon. Gentleman, if this Bill were passed, the services of the Church would have to be carried out without the least difference in every parish in the country; all the clergymen of the Church of England would be reduced to the condition of a regiment of the Guards; and there would be no variety in the expression of their opinions, their feelings, and wishes. Not at all; if the Bill passed, there might be the greatest variety in the mode of performing those services. But, while it would permit the greatest variety in that respect, it would require that all the clergy of the Church of England should obey the law. The Church of England had expressly provided for that variety. She had said that the mode of performing these services should not be uniform. Different parishes had the choice of having different catechisms, different services, and different vestments. They had the choice of singing or reading the Canticles or the Psalms, and of singing or reading the Creeds. The Church of England had provided for every possible variety that the country could want. All that the supporters of this Bill wanted was, that while that variety was allowed by the Church of England, the law should be obeyed, and that while it was obeyed, care should be taken to prevent that the liberty arising from that variety should not be allowed to extend itself in to licence either by one side or the other. Having said so much in favour of the measure, he wished before he sat down to refer to certain points of detail. He thought certain parts of the Bill would have to be altered before it went into Committee. He denied altogether that the Bill was intended to give parishioners the power of annoying or worrying their clergyman; indeed he thought the House had no desire to give to an individual parishioner a powerful motive to put the measure in force. What they wanted was that, by some means or other, residents in a parish where the services were not carried out according to the law should have a speedy and inexpensive mode of remedying that. They did not want to give power to a single parishioner to set the law in motion; but by this oiled machinery, as he might call it, they did wish to give a strong 22 remedy against a clergyman where there was real ground for it. The Bill gave discretion to a Bishop. He (Mr. Cross) thought they might find that very much discretion should be given to a clergyman, and that when they got into Committee they would be able to give him some more definite protection than the Bill now afforded. There was another matter to which he objected, and to which he objected very strongly in 1872—namely, the enormous salary which it was proposed to give to the Judge. He thought the number of suits under the Bill would not be very great, and that, therefore, the course he had formerly indicated might be fairly adopted, as they might secure the services of some other Judge. If a Judge wore appointed with a large salary, and he had nothing much to do, the longer he held the office the worse Judge he would become. Therefore, they ought to get a Judge who was employed in some other way, or who had retired. But, putting aside these matters of detail, he thought the principle of the Bill was right. The laity of the nation—for he could not separate the Church of England from the whole nation—had a right to know that the services in every parish in the land were performed according to the doctrine and ritual which were laid down by the law and accepted by the nation. If the law were wrong, let it be altered; if it were right, let it be enforced. These were the grounds on which he gave his support to the Bill.
§ MR. WALTER
said, it had been obvious to every hon. Member that the important debate on which the House had now entered could not long be conducted on the smooth and easy lines laid down by his right hon. and learned Friend the Recorder, when, in a speech characterized by much moderation, he introduced the Bill. No doubt, the Bill related mainly to a question of procedure. In its terms it was a very short and simple measure; but the House and the country knew equally well that the question at issue was far more than one of procedure, and that on the fate of the Bill, and on the sentiments its discussion might evoke throughout the country, might depend the future of the Established Church of this land. On its fate, at all events, must depend the question whether the services of the Church should be performed in harmony 23 with its authorized standards of doctrine and discipline, or whether they should remain liable to be set aside and varied in every parish throughout the land at the will of the minister of each parish, or at the discretion of any congregation which might please to support him. The Bill itself came down to that House under circumstances which, as everybody must admit, claimed for it at least a fair and respectful consideration. After almost half-a-century of constant turmoil and trouble, after being goaded and worried, fined in their pecuniary circumstances and tormented by litigation within the Church, through their fruitless endeavours to put down practices which they deemed inconsistent with its doctrine, the Bishops had at length—in his opinion, not a minute too soon—indeed, he might say, at the eleventh hour—brought in a Bill which had received the support of the whole Episcopal Bench, and which had received the sanction of three Noblemen who had filled the office of Lord Chancellor. It had been exposed to the ablest legal criticism in the other House, and it was now placed on the Table of this House by his right hon. and learned Friend opposite, who asked the House to arm the Bishops with those powers which they at present lacked to give effect to the laws of that Church which they all 'professed to support. As he remarked before, the Bill was mainly one of procedure, and he should describe it as an extremely mild and considerate measure Indeed, he regarded it as being the very reverse of oppressive; certainly it could not be called in any respect a stringent or an offensive measure, and, in his opinion, it was one to which no valid objection could be raised. It gave no initiatory power whatever to the Bishops, but the archdeacon, the rural dean, or a certain number of parishioners might call upon the Bishop, in the first instance, to act in something like a mediatorial capacity—almost in the capacity of an arbitrator—and to express an opinion whether such and such practices should be permitted or not. He might almost say that was a weak point in the Bill, for he was one of those who held the opinion that the absolute veto which the 9th clause gave to the Bishop was a power which, though inserted in the Bill with obviously the kindest motives, and with the intention of discouraging vexatious 24 litigation, might be liable to abuse. Some particular Bishop abusing that power of veto might stop proceedings which ought to be carried further, and, therefore, in the event of the Bill passing into Committee, he should move, if no one else did, that from the Bishop who exercised his veto there should be an appeal to the Archbishop. The clause to that effect had been somewhat hastily struck out, and as he had some reason to think its re-insertion would be acceptable to those who had sent the Bill to that House. Now, what was the class of questions which the present Bill proposed to remit to the supervision of the Bishop or to the Judge, who, in certain eases, was to consider them? They were not questions of doctrine nor any of those subtle theological, almost metaphysical, questions which had exercised the wit of controversialists for 1,500 years, but simply questions relating either to the decoration of the church and the personal vestments worn by the minister, or to such additions to, or omissions from, the mode of conducting the service as the Judge might pronounce to be unlawful. Of course, he could not say what the Judge, whom he would suppose to be a man of learning and discretion, would consider to be unlawful additions or omissions; but he did not imagine the Judge would take so stringent a view of his duty in this respect as his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich seemed to anticipate. With regard to the notion that such a Bill as the present would be used by the parishioners as a means of harassing, or, as he had heard it stated, of bullying the parson, he could not believe that the 20,000 parochial clergy in this country were really in any danger of having their lives made a burden to them by the action of the conventional drunken parishioner. He laughed such an imputation to scorn, for he believed there was not a sensible or a moderate clergyman in the country who incurred any risk of being disturbed by the operation of the Bill. Passing from that, he would ask, how was the Bill, which had been brought down to the House under the auspices he had mentioned, received by his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich? His right hon. Friend really almost professed to wonder what all this hubbub could be about, for he did not understand what Ritualism meant. 25 The word "Ritualism," according to his right hon. Friend, had changed its meaning every two years during the 40 years he had been acquainted with the subject. Again, his right hon. Friend said if such a Bill was required at all, it was intolerable that it should be brought into that House unless under the direct auspices of the Government of the day. Moreover, his right hon. Friend denounced the measure as an infringement of the liberty of the subject. To quote a passage which had been already referred to by his light hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Cross), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich said—Various customs hare grown up in accordance with the feelings and usages of the people; and, whether the practices that have so grown up are, or are not, in accordance with the law, I say they ought not to he rashly and rudely rooted out."—[3 Hansard, ccxx. 1377.]He further said, that an intolerable grievance would be created if such a law were to be uniformly enforced. He should like to ask his right hon. Friend what he wished the House to understand by that. Did he really think that what was at present agitating the feelings of the laity from one end of the Kingdom to the other related to such matters as he referred to—namely, whether a hymn should be sung at the beginning or at the end of the service, as no provision was made for that in the Rubric; whether children should be brought into church to be catechized after the Second Lesson; and whether the reading of the prayer for the Church Militant should be enforced? Did his right hon. Friend mean to lead the House to suppose that that was the class of questions which really disturbed the minds of the people of this country? Surely, his right hon. Friend could not have meant anything of the kind? The only question referred to by his right hon. Friend which really possessed any gravity was, whether the reading of the Athanasian Creed should be optional or compulsory. Parenthetically he (Mr. Walter) might say a word on that point; but taking care to profit by the warning of his right hon. Friend, he would not enter into a discussion of the Athanasian Creed itself in that House. He would only refer to it as an illustration of the kind of grievance which his right hon. Friend thought would be intolerable, if the use of the Athanasian Creed were made universal 26 throughout the country. His right hon. Friend, in making that statement meant to play off the Broad Church against the High Church. He (Mr. Walter) was one of those who, being a Churchman, accepted the Athanasian Creed as a standard of orthodox doctrine on the subjects to which it referred, although he thought it a misfortune that it was appointed to be read in churches, and for this reason—the ablest and most acute writer on the Arian controversy he had ever known—namely, Dr. Newman—in one of the most remarkable sermons he had ever preached before quitting the communion of the English Church, in discussing the Theory of Development, actually illustrated the scientific terminology of the Athanasian Creed by comparing it with the differential calculus. He (Mr. Walter) was, of course, only giving the substance of Dr. Newman's argument. Well, in his humble judgment, a creed of that peculiarly scientific character was scarcely fit to be read publicly in churches when it was accompanied by the terrible denunciations which were parenthetically inserted in it against those who did not accept it in its integrity. Now, as to the grievance. The Athanasian Creed was required to be read only on four or five Sundays in the year, and on such other Sundays as happened also to be Saints' days on which it was appointed to be read. However, the damnatory clauses, as they wore termed, which really affected people's minds when they talked of the Athanasian Creed, were not read by the clergyman at all, but only by the laymen present, who, if they chose, could act as King George III. did on such occasions, and hold their tongues when the Creed was read. This was the extent of the grievance. He believed it was not a practical grievance which ought to be mentioned in the same day as the kind of grievance which all persons thought of when they talked of Ritualism. There was one suggestion, indeed, embodied by his right hon. Friend in his fifth Resolution for which he desired to tender him his sincere acknowledgments. Speaking of the variety of practices which custom had introduced into the service of the English Church, and which while they pleased one party might be offensive to the other, his right hon. Friend proposed that before making any innovations of that kind, a clergyman should have the consent of the 27 parishioners. A church and congregation had some need of protection against the intrusion upon them, simply at the will of a new incumbent, of rites and ceremonies to which they were unaccustomed. It often happened in a country parish, that a new incumbent came in fresh from college, with little knowledge of the world, and little experience of the feelings of the people about him. The first thing, perhaps, that he did was to turn out the hymn-book of his predecessor. It had been said by an eminent man—" Give me the making of the ballads of a nation, and I will give you the making of its laws." Hymns were regarded as something beyond a mere expression of religious joy and praise, but, to a considerable extent, as an indication of doctrine; and ought not the parishioners to be protected either by their own voice, or by the sanction of the Ordinary of the parish, against the introduction of any new customs, usages, or formularies—for hymns were formularies—at the mere pleasure of the clergyman? To that extent, within the limit of things professedly lawful, he agreed with his right hon. Friend. When, however, his right hon. Friend spoke of the variety of usages in the Church of England at present carried on with the supposed sanction of the law, did he really mean the use of the surplice, the reading of the prayer for the Church Militant, or was he referring to practices of a totally different kind? While so anxious, apparently, against the reading of the Athanasian Creed, and for the use of catechizing, was he really so blind as to be utterly unable to see what was going on in churches scattered all over the land? His right hon. Friend had laid down a new doctrine which had never before been broached in that House. He had laid down the congregational theory, and said—"As long as a congregation are satisfied with any extravagance, it would be a cruel invasion of their liberty to interfere with their practices." For his own part he (Mr. Walter) agreed with every word which fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cross)—that if an average Churchman could not go into any church in England without having his eyes offended by a mode of worship which he knew to be un-English, and which he knew to be Roman, and which was adopted for the express purpose of indoctrinating people 28 with Roman Catholic views, it would be better to go in for disestablishment at once. Some years ago he passed a Sunday in a watering place in the South of England, where he attended a church where the service was conducted on those principles. [An hon. MEMBER: Brighton?] No, it was not Brighton. He might mention that he was brought up in what was called the High Church School, and that he had read a great deal of theology on that side of the question, but in the church he had just mentioned his eyes and his ears were so offended, that had he spent another Sunday there he would have rather gone to the Presbyterian Church. In fact, he knew that some English families who wished to pass the winter in that place were deterred from going, in consequence of the character of the services at the church. Undoubtedly the church was crowded, but there was no other church in the place till some years afterwards, when a second one was built by the exertions of an eminent Member of of the other House of Parliament. His right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich would perhaps say to him—"what you want is a barren uniformity. You wish everybody to preach exactly the same doctrines, and you do not want to have any variety whatever in the services." Well, he, for one, advocated nothing of the kind. As the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cross) had shown, there was ample room within the strictly English view of the Church Services for considerable diversity in the mode of conducting public worship. There was the whole range of Situai, from the simple form observed in a country church to that which was followed in one of our grand cathedrals. What was the true field in the Church of England for diversity of opinion? Surely it was not the Ritual, but the pulpit. He would not put undue restraint, within certain limits which commended themselves to the common sense of every man in that House, on that "Liberty of Prophesying," for which Jeremy Taylor contended, and which they ought to protect. There was no position in life in which a man could exercise so powerful an influence as an able preacher to a large congregation. Throughout the history of the Church, from its very foundation down to the present time, there had grown up two lines of doctrine, 29 which apparently corresponded with two different mental constitutions. You might call one Arminian, and the other Calvinistic, and both were perfectly understood in the Church of England. But between doctrine and Ritual there was a material difference, to which he invited the particular attention of the House, because it had not been mentioned by any previous speaker. Let a man preach what description of Church doctrine he pleased, he committed nobody but himself. For instance, if he went to a church where he heard doctrines which jarred upon his sense of what was right and true, the chances were that if he attended the church frequently, he would receive good instruction from the clergyman at some time or other. At all events, he was not committed by the doctrines of the preacher, whether he were a Calvinist, a High Churchman, or anything else. But the case was different where the Ritual was such that one could not join in the most solemn and sacred rite of the Church without having exhibited to his eyes a whole system of Ritual arrangement which made it clear to him that the clergyman held doctrines which he was expected to accept, but which were totally at variance with the doctrines of the Church of England. His right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich said the meaning of "Ritualism" had changed almost every year during the last 40 years. Well, he, himself, had had some little experience in the matter. His right hon. Friend left the University of Oxford at the beginning of that great movement of which they were now witnessing the results, and was not there at the time when the great and distinguished men who originated the movement were in the zenith of their popularity and power. He (Mr. Walter) was. He drank in every word they preached and read everything they wrote. There was no mention of Ritualism in those days. Nothing could be simpler or plainer than the Church Services conducted by Dr. Newman at St. Mary's and at Littlemore. There was no attempt to imitate a "high altar," no children were dressed up as acolytes, and there was no incense or any other of the clerical arrangements which were now designed to teach the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass. The reading in which from an early age he took 30 delight, and in which he was guided by these men, consisted of standard works of English divines, such as Hooker and Jeremy Taylor. There was in the language of these men nothing that was likely to lead the student of theology to Rome, but now in the display of acolytes and the dresses used in the churches he referred to, that was the precise and deliberate intention. As his right hon. Friend professed not to know what Ritualism was, he would take the liberty of telling him. He would read to the House an extract from the Four Cardinal Virtues, written by the Rev. Orby Shipley, one of the authorized exponents of the system. Mr. Shipley wrote—Consider how much has yet to be done ere we stabilitate our conquests over Protestantism, or, still more, ere we re-Catholicize the Church of England. How much have we to do, to the doing of which it is, alas certain that we shall have to act upon the theory, that the authority of Bishops is limitable. For instance, we have to liberate the Church from the tyranny of the State; we have to secure the freedom of the election of Bishops; we have to abolish secular judgments in the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Establishment; we have, again, to make confession the ordinary custom of the masses, and to teach them to use Eucharistic Worship; we have to establish our claims to Catholic ritual in its highest form; we have to restore the religious life, to say mass daily, and to practise reservation for the sick.That might be all very true, but what did the Articles of the Church of England say? These were the very things which the Church of England described as blasphemous fables and damnable deceits. Again, another Ritualist writer, Mr. Blenkinsopp, in a series of essays called The Church and the World, wrote in this way—Anglicans are reproached by Protestants with their resemblance to Romans; they say a stranger entering a church where ritual is care fully attended to might easily mistake it for a Roman service. Of course, he might; the whole purpose of the great revival has been to eliminate the dreary Protestantism of the Hanoverian period and restore the glory of Catholic worship Impossible to preserve the Catholic faith except by Catholic ritual.Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,Quam quæ sunt oeulis subjecta fidelibus.There was another point of view in which those gentlemen regarded this subject; so remarkable, that he was sure the House would excuse him for referring to it. If the words he was about to read had been used by him proprio motu, he might be thought to 31 have exhibited too much bitterness of feeling on the subject, but they were the words of Dr. Littledale, an eminent Ritualistic writer—It may be argued that good and vigorous preaching will fill the cravings of the imagination, and make the employment of material stimuli superfluous, if not mischievous. But good preaching is among the rarest of good things, much rarer in proportion even than good acting, because it requires a wider range of physical and mental gifts. If very good actors were common, the adventitious aid of scenery and properties would be comparatively unimportant.…. but as the great majority of actors are mere sticks, and even the chief stars are not always shining their best, managers have been constantly compelled to make gorgeous spectacle their main attraction, and a splendid transformation scene or a telling stage procession will draw crowds night after night, even in the absence of any theatrical celebrity. Hence a lesson may be learnt by all who are not too proud to learn from the stage. For it is an axiom in liturgiology that no public worship is really deserving of its name unless it be histrionic.Let the House connect all these things with that which was at the bottom, and which it was the object of these men to implant in the minds of rising Churchmen—namely, the whole doctrine of sacerdotalism. That theory included everything in the nature of priestly power and its consequences, from which the Reformation had set us free. We heard nothing now but the word "Priest;" we never heard of the Communion Table, but always of the "High Altar." Now, he would like to tell the House how a great theologian, whose authority his right hon. Friend, if he were there, would be the first to acknowledge—he meant Richard Hooker, the author of the immortal work on Ecclesiastical Polity—spoke of the words "Priest" and "Presbyter." Hooker, a name of the highest authority in the English Church, said he preferred the word "Presbyter," which he considered to mean "spiritual father;" that it was more in keeping with the whole tenor and substance of the Gospel than the word "Priest," and he literally apolologized to the Puritans for using the word "Priest," because the doctrine of sacrifice which the word "Priest" was supposed to convoy, was no more conveyed to the mind of the Church of England by the word, than the idea of an old man by the word "Senator" or "Alderman." That was the expression of one of the greatest minds in the English Church, a mind as pre-eminent in 32 theology as Bacon in philosophy or Burke in politics. Now, he would ask, had not the Archbishop a right to reply to the right hon. Gentleman, who objected to this Bill—" What have I now done? Is there not a cause?" Most assuredly there was, and they all knew it. Hon. Members being there today, and the suspension of the Standing Orders, proved that there was a cause. There were scores of churches in this land in which the utmost pains had been taken to indoctrinate our youth, who knew nothing of theology, not with the principles of the Reformation, which they were taught to hate, but with the principles of mediæval theology, which was nothing more nor less that the whole doctrine of the Church of Rome. All must have known instances where, after a course of such teaching, young women, and sometimes young men, had their minds so influenced that they suddenly disappeared and went away, perhaps to Boulogne, where they were received in the arms of a Roman Catholic priest, who no doubt smiled in utter scorn at the folly of a Church which could permit its churches to be used as mere nurseries for his own. His belief was, that the principles of the Reformation were as dear to the people of this country as they had been at any former period, and that these things were put up with simply because to a great extent they had been confined to our towns, where there was a choice of churches. No doubt, the principle of Congregationalism did exist in London; but in London, the state of things was precisely what it would be if the Church were disestablished to-morrow. Everybody went to his own church, and if the Church of England were disestablished to-morrow, nobody would have a right to complain. His opinion was, they had nothing to do with the religious opinions of those outside their own Church, and that each person must stand on his own responsibility. But while he condemned those doctrines, and desired to see those who taught them expelled, if necessary, from the English Church, he did not-wish to say one word disrespectful to his Roman Catholic friends. He would go further, and say he knew among his Roman Catholic friends—some of whom were among the oldest friends he had—instances of far greater delicacy in abstaining from putting devotional 33 books of their own into the hands of young Protestant friends than would be practised by the party in the Church of England who held Ritualistic views. Believing, as he did, those views to be inconsistent with the principles of the Reformation, and that the people of this country would infinitely prefer to see the Church disestablished than these doctrines authorized and sanctioned, he would give his most hearty support to the Bill in every stage of its progress, and he most earnestly trusted that it might be carried into law.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, he regretted that the hon. Member who had just sat down should have turned aside from the question before the House to denounce a certain party in the Church. That was not the point under discussion, they had merely to deal with the Bill, and he hoped the House would continue to do so calmly and dispassionately. The debate in this House had, up to the present, reflected great credit upon it by the moderation of its tone throughout. Nothing could have been better than the manner in which his right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton had introduced the Bill to the House, and had this course been originally adopted elsewhere the position of the Bill itself might have been very different from what it now was in the eyes of the clergy. It was not the Bill as it now stood which had caused so much anxiety and searching of heart to a large portion of the clergy, but the original proposal made by the highest authority in the Church, one which he regretted had ever been made, and still more the manner in which it had been made. An attempt was made to associate the High Church party in the Church with the extreme Ritualists as they were called—for his part, he must repudiate any such connection, and he must say with reference to the High Church clergy that the great mass of them were loyally endeavouring to carry on the public worship of the Church within the prescribed rules of Ritual allowed by the rubrics, and that they had no more sympathy with the extreme Ritualistic party than had the Low Church party with the extreme Calvinistic doctrines which were preached by those on the other side. As a moderate High Churchman, and one who wished that the services of the Church should be carried 34 on in and according to the prescribed order of the Church's rules, he distinctly refused to be associated even by implication with those who committed the illegal extravagances, or to acknowledge in any way the persons quoted by the hon. Member for Berkshire as authorities upon the Church's doctrine or practice, or to be associated with them in any opposition to this Bill. The hon. Member who had just sat down seemed to repudiate the idea that the Church of England was "Catholic," and condemned what he called a now attempt that was being made to "Catholicize" the Church. It was new to him certainly to learn that the Church of England was not "Catholic." Happily, she was not so in any degree as being "Roman Catholic," and he repudiated any attempts to make her so; but the very author of this Bill had only a few days ago said in Convocation that the Church was "Catholic" in her principles and doctrine, and there was not a member of the Episcopal Bench nor a clergyman of the Church of England who would deny that she was a branch of the Church Catholic, though, as protesting against the errors of Rome she was Protestant. The hon. Gentleman had also animadverted to the use of the word "priest;" but if the hon. Member would turn to his Prayer Book, he would find there the "Form and manner of ordering of priests." There were in the Church of England, as in the universal Church, the three orders of clergy—Bishops, priests, and deacons, and there was no significance of a special Roman character in the term priest. Coming to the question of the Bill, he entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in looking on the Bill as one of procedure only, and he could not believe that any one, either clergy or laity, had any interest in maintaining the present complicated procedure in respect to the administration of ecclesiastical law, and as a Bill for simplifying procedure it had his support. But what was the position in which the Bill stood? Just at the moment that the Bill was passing through its last stage in the House of Lords, the authorities of the Church had solicited Her Majesty's Government for a renewal of Letters of Business to Convocation to enable that body to deal with and revise, if necessary, the orders and rubrics. 35 This request had been granted, and Convocation was now engaged in this work. What, therefore, was felt by the great body of the clergy was that it was very hard that a Bill should be passed for the purpose of dealing with offences against the rubrics in a summary manner, when the law upon which they were to be judged was under revision. He therefore took the Amendment of the hon. Member for Oxford City to mean that it was inexpedient to pass a Bill for summary jurisdiction of this kind while the law remained undefined. Not that there should be no amendment of the present cumbersome mode of procedure—upon this almost every one was agreed. He did not for a moment question the authority of Parliament to deal with this matter. He had anxiously looked for every precedent to enable him to form an opinion in this matter, and he found that Parliament had always dealt with questions of Acts of Uniformity and legal procedure, while it had carefully abstained from interfering with the alterations that had from time to time been made in the Prayer Book or rubrics in any other sense than ratifying or not what was done by Convocation in such matters. That was, as far as he could judge, the constitutional practice, and he hoped it would not be departed from. The authors of the Bill having referred the question of the revision of the rubrics to Convocation, it would be a mockery if no consideration was to be given to whatever recommendations were made by that body. It had been one of the original mistakes when this Bill had been first introduced that Convocation had not been asked to consider it, and when it had been so reported, no effect was given to its recommendations. There was a way still open to settle this question in a manner which he believed would be agreeable to the feelings of the great mass of the clergy, and do much to remove that feeling of irritation which the neglect of proper consideration for them had occasioned. This was by deferring the operation of the Bill for a year. He had put an Amendment on the Paper to this effect, and he hoped that his right hon. Friend would meet him half way in the matter. The object of his Amendment was not to delay the passing of the Bill, but to postpone its coming into operation till the revision 36 of the orders and rubrics remitted to Convocation had been settled, and such revision had received the proper ratification according to precedent. He would put it to his right hon. Friend, what would the effect be if this Bill were put in force before this had been done? Supposing a clergyman were cited under this Bill to answer for some offence against the rubrics, and he was found guilty or acquitted. In the course of a few months this matter upon which he had been tried, might be an offence, or no offence at all. What would the effect on that clergyman be? He would feel himself to be a victim of an injustice. Such a proceeding would be what was known in Scotland as "Jeddart justice," or hanging a man firsthand trying him afterwards. If his right hon. Friend would meet him in this matter, and grant this most reasonable request, as he was not inclined to oppose the second reading, he would do his best, subject to certain Amendments, to help the Bill through Committee. There would always have to be a certain amount of liberty in the performance of Divine Service in the Church, and what was suited to one place might not be suited to another; but there was a maximum and a minimum amount of observance laid down in the rubrics, and within this limit there should be no excess on the one hand, and no falling short on the other. He was as much opposed as any one could be to the excesses of extravagant Ritualism, which had no authority but the mere will of any individual clergyman to support them; but he was anxious to maintain the order of the Church in the proper observance of her rules. These were, he believed, in accordance with the continuity of the Church of England as a branch of the Catholic Church of Christ from primitive times, and while abjuring and protesting against the errors of Pome, she had never been reduced to the position of a Protestant sect. At no time, except by the violent exercise of authority, either of the Crown or Parliament, had the Church of England been forced out of this position, or submitted to the supremacy of Pome, and the clergy as a body clung to the historical continuity of the Church, and loyally wished to preserve it. When those were found fault with who endeavoured to act up to the full letter of the rubrics, 37 let it be remembered that there were few churches, if any, where the daily services of the Church were conducted without some breach of the rubrics. For instance, no prayer was allowed in the pulpit but the bidding prayer; it was ordered that the Holy Communion should be administered to those only who had sent in their names beforehand. The omission of a sermon in the morning was illegal, as was the preaching of one in the afternoon, and the rubrics enjoined catechizing in public, forbidding any but communicants being sponsors at baptism. The omission of the prayer for the Church Militant, giving the blessing from the pulpit, the publication of the banns of marriage after the Second Lesson, all these were against the rubrics; but he did not wish that all such omissions or commissions such as he had mentioned should be made the ground upon which any three parishioners, a churchwarden, &c., should have every facility given them to institute proceedings against their clergyman. He turned to his Prayer Book, and he found there the wisdom of the Church as to how such things were to be dealt with, and he found in the Preface, concerning the services of the Church, this was laid down—And forasmuch as nothing can be so plainly set forth, but doubts may arise in the use and practice of the same; to appease all such diversity (if any arise) and for the resolution of all doubts, concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute, the things contained in this Book; the parties that so doubt, or diversely take anything, shall alway resort to the Bishop of the Diocese, who by his discretion shall take order for the quieting and appeasing of the same; so that the same order be not contrary to anything contained in this Book.["Hear, hear!"] He quite agreed with the feeling that prompted that cheer; this expressed all he wished and contended for. This Preface continued that the Bishop, if in any doubt, should appeal to the Archbishop. But by this Bill the Bishop's authority was taken from him, and it was virtually placed in the hands of the Judge, and only in one way—that was, by the voluntary submission of the parties to his decision—was any discretion left to the Bishop. He felt unbounded respect for, and hearty loyalty towards, the Bishops of the Church, and could not agree with the right hon. Member for Greenwich that because one Bishop might be indiscreet, that therefore 38 no Bishop should have any discretionary power. The Bill, however, destroyed the fatherly position in which the Bishop should stand towards his clergy, and subordinated him to the will of the parishioners and the decrees of the Judge. It might be answered that the Bishops had consented to sacrifice their authority; but he did not regret this the less, but the more on that account. In any case, if this discretion was to be worth anything, it should be in the Bishop's power to state, or not, in writing, his reason for its exercise, otherwise, it would be a constant source of contention and comment. It must be borne in mind also, considering the question of the observance of the rubrics, that the Bishops were just as much in the habit of violating them as the clergy; and what the clergy felt most was, that they were attacked as breakers of the law, when the Bishops, who were as great offenders in this respect, were passed over. It might fairly be required that the Bishops should be held as responsible as other orders of the clergy for their actions, and that they should be included within the provisions of the Bill. To prevent vexatious complaints, he thought it would have been better to follow the existing practice that complaints should go from the parishioners through the Rural Dean to the Archdeacon, and be by him laid before the Bishop. The explanation of the Home Secretary had convinced him that this was simply a Bill of procedure, and he believed that the objections of the clergy had reference to the original measure rather than to the one now before the House. Under these circumstances, if the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would consent to postpone the date at which it should take effect, so as to give time for the settlement of the rubrics, a fair compromise would be effected, one which would be heartily appreciated by the clergy, and he should be glad to see it go into Committee, with a sure hope that they would arrive at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he would not detain the House with any lengthened observations. Speaking generally, that was a question on which, perhaps, he had no right to trouble them by giving any opinion, not having been brought up a member of the Church of England, 39 and not having found it right yet to come into close communion with her, although, at the same time, he attended her services, and might fairly be said to be a friend of the Church. But that was a question which very much affected the position of the Church in relation to the State; and with reference to it he might state what he had often said in places where it was not so well received as in the House of Commons, that he felt bound to admit that he thought the State derived advantage from its connection with the Church. The reason why he troubled the House at all was, that he thought he could not reasonably vote for the Bill, as he intended to do, without explaining the reason for which he did so, since he thought it was a reason which did not actuate any other hon. Member of the House. The question was a difficult one, and there were two faults in the Bill and in the manner in which it had been brought forward which seemed to him to increase and intensify the difficulty. The first was the position, or rather the want of position, of the Government with respect to the matter. The Prime Minister had said that the House must not expect the opinion of the Government as a body, but only the opinion of its individual Members upon the Bill; and, in fact, so great was the difference of opinion in regard to it, that no one on either side of the House, even on the front benches, could be said to speak for any one but himself. There was another difficulty which arose from the great difference between the mere wording of the Bill and its real ground, cause, and intention. The noble Lord who had just sat down, and who spoke in so conciliatory a spirit, rather complained of some remarks made by his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) in his eloquent speech. On the other hand, he (Mr. Forster) had noticed that several hon. Gentlemen who entertained very strong feelings upon the questions touched by the Bill had expressed themselves with a very singular and commendable moderation; and it would ill become him, who was not a member of the Church of England, to introduce any discordant element into that debate, but at the same time, he did not think that much was gained by the House attempting to shut its eyes to the real objects and meaning of this measure. He intended to vote for the 40 second reading of the Bill, because he believed much more in that real intention than in the mere wording and apparent purport of the Bill. If they were to judge the Bill merely from its wording, or from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who brought it forward, it appeared to be nothing but a Bill of procedure—a Bill for revising Church law. He (Mr. Forster) believed that much of the Church law was in an obsolete condition, and with much of it the difficulty of enforcing it was very great, and the result was, that it was a dead letter. The effect of the Bill would be to make the dead letter a living fact, and to enforce the observance of Church law and the maintenance of Church discipline. If that had been the sole object he should have hesitated in supporting it. He yielded to no hon. Member of the House in his belief that while they had a State Church the supremacy of the State and of the law over the Church must be asserted and maintained. But if he regarded the Bill as a means of making the law which had become obsolete a living reality, giving force to every enactment of the rubric, he would again say he should hesitate to vote for it, on the ground that he should require a little more information as to what enactments had become obsolete and what had not—what should be changed, and what should not. Judging the Bill, again, according to the wording of its provisions and the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced it to their notice, he did not understand why, if Church discipline was meddled with at all, moral discipline ought not to be included as well. In many cases moral scandals ought to be put down, and would be if Bishops could be enabled to do so without great sacrifice. He repeated that he would vote for the Bill because he considered the real object, the grand intention, of the Bill was something different from its apparent object and wording—that there was a danger to the State Church and an evil to the country to be apprehended from the present state of affairs for which it was necessary to legislate. There were men in the Church of England who, no doubt from very conscientious motives, had brought about a state of things which did involve the Church and Parliament in great difficulties, and it was impossible for that House, while 41 they had a State Church, to disavow all responsibility for the conduct of the Church. What was the existing state of things? The people who were affected by the Bill might be placed under three distinct categories. First, there wore many parishes where the congregation was scandalized by ceremonies which were both new to them, and disagreeable. Secondly, there was the fact that in many churches, not with the dissent, but with the assent of the congregation, there were practices which induced other members of the Church, besides those who attended the particular services, to entertain fears for the Protestant character of the Church itself. Thirdly, there was the further fact, that from conscientious feelings, there were many of the clergy who thought it right to assist in these practices, and had very strong views as to the position of the Church in relation to the State. For his own part, he was not one of those who would at once condemn those gentlemen for doing anything contrary to what they promised when they came into the Church. It was a very difficult thing for a clergyman to be quite able to decide what his real position was, and how far he should obey his conscience in these matters, or how far he should obey the law. Therefore, whilst thinking that the supremacy of the law must be asserted, he had great sympathy with those gentlemen. He, however, entirely sympathized with the attempt to put the Church in a better position with regard to the three classes of practices to which he had referred, and thought, in the first place, that Parliament must assert its supremacy, or the supremacy of the law, over Convocation—the supremacy of the State over the Church. He thought also that Parliament ought to be very jealous as to the Protestant character of the Church. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, that if it should ever be considered by the people of this country that the Church was not a really Protestant Church—if a party prevailed in it which did not hold really Protestant principles, the very next day the Church would cease to be a State Church. They were also bound to protect the parishioners—especially country parishioners, who had no other church to go to, and where there was at present practically no appeal—from practices 42 which shocked them, and which they considered unnecessary, novel, and contrary to their conscientious feelings. At the same time, they must not forget the broad and generous basis upon which the Church was founded. If they attempted in the Church to make anything like the restrictions which were made in a denomination, he was convinced that they would soon find the Church itself in the position of a denomination, and separated from the State. He could not help saying that he should have been more satisfied with the Bill if it had been more directly and plainly brought forward to do the work for which it was intended. The speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had been alluded to. It was, no doubt, a speech of the most wonderful power and eloquence—all would admit that. He (Mr. Forster) did not say that he entirely agree with him as to the dangers he foresaw in this Bill; but he did think if, in order to meet the evils which existed, they attempted to put in force all the present Church law and rubrics, they would find themselves in a very dangerous position. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford City (Sir William Harcourt), who had also made a speech of great power and eloquence, told them that if the law was obsolete, they should get rid of it; if it was disapproved they should repeal it; but that would engage them in a course which would require many eloquent speeches to be made before they could get to the end of it. He wished to ask, was the House of Commons at that present moment in a position to revise the rubrics and the Church law? Did they suppose that if they began such a revision they would stop at Ritual? He was not one of those who believed that those gentlemen who were now disputing about matters of Ritual in the Church were so childish as to dispute about a garment or a gesture. They had earnest and lively feelings enlisted in the dispute, and it was with them a matter of deep conviction. The question of the Athanasian Creed had not been raised for a long time; but the House knew what sort of an effect its consideration alone would produce upon the discussion of the question. At present the law was quite clear about many points, yet no one enforced it, but if they put this sharp weapon in the hands of one 43 party they might expect it to be used also by the other. It might be asked—Was it not unfair to direct their legislation against one party? That was the necessity of the case. One party was attempting entirely to destroy the relations of the State to the Church, and therefore legislation was necessary. But they ought to be opposed with the utmost consideration and conciliation—going as little further as possible and with great regard for the conscientious feelings of the clergy, and he was sorry the Bill had not come down to them with the suggestion of the Bishop of Peterborough, as sanctioned by the Lord Chancellor, carried out. The true difficulty in their way was that to which he had alluded at the beginning of his remarks—the position in which the House stood towards the Government. Let them just consider what the matter was. With reference to it, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department appeared to feel the difficulty, and tried to bring forward precedents to show that it was rather a usual way of dealing with the subject, by Church Discipline Acts; but for his (Mr. Forster' s) own part, he did not think there was any real precedent for it. As regarded the State, it was impossible to have any question to consider which could be said to be of more importance; as regarded the Church, it was vital to her interests; as regarded the feeling of the country, they would find that to be stronger upon this question than upon any which had for some time been brought before the House; and, as regarded the manner in which it was brought before the House, was there ever a measure which more demanded that the Government should express its opinion upon it? This was a measure than which nothing could be more fitting for a Government measure—the measure especially of a Conservative Government—it had been brought forward by the Archbishops, supported by the House of Lords, which had such confidence in the present Government, and in Conservative Governments generally'—not, it was true, brought forward by a Member of the Government, but supported, and he might say conducted, through the House by that Member of the Government who had most to do with those matters—the Lord Chancellor, who had immediate 44 relations with the Queen as head of the Church. No measure could be more important both in principle and administration than this, and it ought to have had the full support of the Government. The difficulty of the case was greatly increased by the fact that the Members of the Government who spoke answered each other. But they must take the matter as they found it, and he did not see how they were to avoid trusting to some hope of a settlement of the question in the Bill now before the House, unless the Government should come forward and declare that if a little time were given them they would take the matter into their care. Whether the Bill could be amended, he was not quite certain; but if Amendments were to be introduced at all, they must be introduced in the 8th and 9th clauses. He hoped, before the close of the debate, the House would be informed precisely what course the Government would adopt, and that one of two things would be done—either that the House would be asked by the Government to give the amount of time, at any sacrifice, required for the settlement of this question by the discussion of the various clauses and Amendments; or, if in the mind of the Prime Minister and the Government that was impossible—considering the importance of the matter, the interest which the country took in it, and the extent to which both Church and State were involved in it—the right hon. Gentleman would undertake next year to meet Parliament with a measure having the support of an united Cabinet.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he was glad to follow the right hon. Gentleman, whoso speeches always commanded the attention and respect of the House. He felt rather in an uncomfortable position on the question, but as an opponent of the Bill in its present shape, he would endeavour to avoid any bitterness which might add to the difficulties of the controversy. He wished to guard himself against any suspicion of his being a supporter of the extreme party in the Church of England. He had never been attached to extreme doctrines or extreme practices. All he had endeavoured to do was to support the Church in its devotion to its Ritual, doctrine, and formularies—a devotion to which the Homo Secretary had that day given expression in such eloquent terms. This was a measure 45 which had created great anxiety, both in and out of that House, yet it could not be said that that excitement had been quickened by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of London in the able and moderate speech in which he had introduced the Bill. He must also congratulate the hon. Member for North East Lancashire (Mr. Holt) upon the moderate tone in which he had addressed himself to this question. That hon. Member was reported to have said that—I am ready to do what lies in my power to aid, in its passage through this House, any Bill which will effect the object I have in view—that is, which will contribute towards the maintenance in unimpaired vigour in this country of those primitive, Scriptural, truly Catholic and therefore Protestant principles which regulated the Reformation of the English Church."—[3 Hansard, ccxx. 1395.]He quite agreed with the hon. Member; but thought if the hon. Member had seen the full meaning of his words, he would have been more inclined to sympathize with every side of the Church on this question. The English Reformation was an attempt to go back many ages in the history of the Church, to free it from the corruptions of Rome, and to restore it to the position of purity which it occupied in the primitive ages of Christianity. It was natural that the Reformers of the English Church should take different views as to the basis of the English Reformation, and the result had been to leave on the Prayer Book the marks, he would not say of compromise, but of comprehensiveness. In this respect the early Reformers only followed the example of the Sacred Writings, for what was more comprehensive than the Holy Scriptures themselves? The House would therefore bear with him and those who held his views if they asked for liberty, not to disobey the law, but for a liberty in the construction of the law which, perhaps, might not be agreeable to all. He had all his life been regarded as rather a pedant in matters of Church discipline; but he did not believe that any attempt to reduce the Ritual of the Church to one dead level would be successful. A great deal of mischief had arisen from the way in which this Bill had been brought before the public. He would not further refer to certain articles in the leading journal, except to say that they were the greatest mistake 46 that could have been made by those who wished to promote a measure of the kind. The opponents of the Bill were taunted with opposing a Bill recommended by the Episcopal Bench. This, however, was not the case. There was only one meeting of the Episcopal Body upon this Bill, and it was held on the Friday before the Monday on which the Bill was brought into the other House. He was informed that one Bishop was opposed to any legislation; that another censured the Bill; that a third protested against proceeding with it, unless the clergy had full opportunity of discussing it; and that two other Bishops opposed the Bill. It must also be remembered that the present Bill was not the one which the Bishops had so scanty an opportunity of considering; and that it was, therefore, not correct to say that the Bill came down to the House with the whole force of the Episcopal Bench in its favour. He regretted that more opportunities had not been given to the inferior orders of the clergy to consider the Bill before it was introduced into Parliament. He wished to speak of the Bishops with due respect, but he must say that a measure for vigorously enforcing the law of the Church upon the clergy did not come with a very good grace from the Episcopal Bench, because they were themselves breakers of the law in some respects. If any one attended a Confirmation service and then went home and compared the directions given in the Prayer Book with what he had witnessed, he could not help coming to the conclusion that the Bishops themselves did not observe the Act of Uniformity. He did not blame them, and thought, indeed, they were quite right; but with what consistency could they invoke the authority of that Bill, and bring the iron hand of the law to bear upon the inferior clergy, when they themselves did not obey it? The Ordination and Consecration Service of Bishops was another part of the Prayer Book which was not always obeyed by the Bishops. He happened to be present at Westminster Abbey when the Bishop of Cape Town was consecrated. The Primate of All England was present. Upon that occasion the distinguished divine—not the Archbishop—who was conducting the earlier part of the service did not observe the position which 47 ought to be taken at the Holy Table, but stood at the south, instead of at the north side of the table. Was it quite fair for those who either broke the law, or did not object to others breaking the law in their presence, to enforce the letter of the law upon the inferior clergy? He did not ask the House to sanction lawlessness, but could it be wondered at that this Bill should cause great excitement—when it proposed to carry out an absolute and rigid uniformity of the law unless every one, from the highest to the lowest, was prepared to obey the law? With regard to the claim that Convocation ought to be consulted, it was not to be denied that it had been consulted on former occasions, and it must be allowed that, though it had barely been consulted on the present Bill, "Letters of Business," had by the advice of Her Majesty's Government been issued to Convocation. Would it not then be wiser to defer legislation such as this until Convocation should have had time to act upon these "Letters of Business?" The hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) was a great historian, but upon one point he ignored the history of the Church of England. He said that the Queen was "Head of the Church." Now, Queen Elizabeth always repudiated this title, and declared that there was no earthly head of the Church. She said she was "Supreme Governour of the Church under Christ." That was an absolute distinction, and it ought to be understood. He was informed that Convocation was consulted before the Acts of Uniformity of Edward VI., and also before the Acts of Uniformity of Elizabeth. Further, there was a distinct reference to the consultation of Convocation in the declaration prefixed to the Thirty-nine Articles, and he believed they were first determined in Convocation. There was also a statute of Queen Anne which recited the consultations of Convocation. An attempt was also made in the reign of William III. to revise the Liturgy in a Puritanical sense, which was "squashed" by Convocation. It appeared then, that it had been the practice of Parliament to consult Convocation, and he now asked a Conservative Government to take the same line, and not to be above consulting Convocation. He had received 48 a letter from a Churchman of moderate views—Archdeacon Ady, of the diocese of Rochester—who had sent him a copy of his gravamen, signed by several eminent men. Archdeacon Ady complained that the rural deans ought to have been included among the parishioners, and said that—Desperate people do bold things; therefore I venture to send you my gravamen, which was presented to Convocation and signed by a number of eminent men. Of course, it is no conclusive proof of the feelings of Convocation as a body, but it gives information on two points:—1. That a committee of moderate men declared against the Bill. 2. That they made recommendations which were despised by the Upper House of Convocation. The peculiar feature of our proceedings in Convocation this week was that we were never allowed to say a single word about the Public Worship Bill.In the gravamen these objections, among others, were made—That no attention was paid to the recommendations respecting the interpretation of the word 'parishioner,' the omission of the rural dean from the list of accusers, and the condition of the three parishioners being communicants; and that they consider these provisions of the Bill, with others, fraught with considerable danger to the peace and efficiency of the Church.Another Archdeacon—Mildmay—of the same diocese said—We want, beyond question, greater promptness and expedition, and a large saving of expense in the administration of ecclesiastical law in all its branches. But we want also a precise definition of that law, which is on important points uncertain. We desire that the authority of the Bishop should not be in any degree impaired. We desire that the Convocations of both Provinces should have time to consider and determine on the nature and amount of alteration required to meet the present circumstances of the Church. We desire that the great body of the clergy, whose minds are moved slowly, should have time to consider a Bill which has been so largely altered since its birth, and in its present condition is but a few weeks old. All these considerations seem to converge to one conclusion—that the Bill had better wait.That concluding sentence of Archdeacon Mildmay's accurately expressed his own sentiments, and he would make an offer to his right hon. and learned Friend—namely, that he should be content with the approbation which Parliament had already given to the Bill, and that, satisfied with the expression of opinion in favour of his Bill, he should take the second reading, and proceed no further with the Bill that Session. If he would consent to that course, he would do all 49 in his power to induce his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Hall), to withdraw his Amendment. Or, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would consent that his Bill should not come into operation until the 1st of January, 1870, so as to give time for its consideration by moderate men, he would in that case also advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment. He wished here to say a few words as to an Amendment which he had put on the Paper relating to the new Judge. It must be clear that that Judge would either be a sinecurist, or else that his appointment would produce an excessive amount of litigation. Now, the light hon. and learned Gentleman would neither wish to pay a Judge £3,000 a-year to do nothing, nor would he wish to promote litigation in the Church. Would it not then be more statesmanlike to provide that the new Judge—if one must be appointed—should have cognizance of all breaches of the ecclesiastical law, and not as this Bill proposed, merely of breaches of rubrical observance? He asked the House to listen to the words of one of the most distinguished of living divines, who had now almost passed beyond the arena of theological controversy. Bishop Thirlwall, in his charge to the clergy of St. David's, in 1842, made use of these memorable words—The controversy which now agitates the Church is not a new one. Though distinguished by some peculiar features, yet at the bottom it is nothing more than a revival—or, as we may choose to call it, a continuation—of one which is as old as the first foundation of our Church: it represents a contrast of opinions, views, and feeling's which has never ceased to exist within her pale, though varying in its outward demonstrations according to the shifting phases of her historical developments; sometimes apparently dormant and inactive, at others breaking out, as, now, in passionate controversy, and at some unhappy epochs—such as we hope may never again be witnessed—venting itself in persecution, in violent exclusion, and formal rupture. It is not only an undisputable fact that such an opposition or divergency always has existed within the Church, but it seems likewise to be a necessary result of her constitution and character. If the position which she has taken up, as a Reformed Church, is correctly described as a mean between two extremes, it appears to be an inevitable consequence—so long as human nature continues what it is—that some of her members should incline towards one extreme, others towards its opposite, though all sincerely attached to her doctrine and fellowship. If we are not ashamed of this character of moderation which distinguishes her; if, on the contrary, 50 we rejoice in it, and regard it as her most honourable attribute, as the very stamp of prudence and charity combined, and the safest criterion of truth, then we must be content to pay the price of this high privilege, in that continual contrast of opinions and that occasional collision of parties, though this view of the ease ought undoubtedly to operate as a constant motive to mutual forbearance.He was opposed to any measure on the subject, unless it was guarded by the conditions he had shadowed forth because it would pain and distress not the extreme law-breakers, with whom he had no sympathy, nor the men with whom he had still less sympathy, who were designing to bring back the Church of England to the dominion of the Church of Borne, but the multitude of moderate, quiet, earnest men, both clergy and laity, whose desire was to discharge the sacred duties of their functions in the wisest and most temperate manner, and to promote the best interests of the Church. In conclusion, he would thank the House for the indulgence with which they had listened to him while speaking in support of what he must admit was the unpopular side of the subject. He, nowever, had done so, although he had been threatened with the loss of his seat as the penalty of his opposition to this Bill. That was not a legitimate weapon of warfare, but it had been used, and if he could have been moved by such a threat he should not have taken a part in that debate. Notwithstanding its use, he should still entreat the House to pause before it passed unconditionally and without due safeguards a measure which, although brought forward with an honest and bonâ fide intention to remove abuses and corruptions, would, as he feared, tend to promote disruption and warfare in the Church.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, that having recently addressed the House, although upon another measure, he had to apologize for intruding so soon upon its attention again. As he had, however, given something like a pledge last Session to deal with the very question now before the House, and as, in fact, he had during the winter before the change of Government took place, been preparing a Bill to deal with unlawful practices in our churches, which he had hoped to have laid on the Table of the House when Parliament met, he could not help saying a few words upon the present Bill. He was certain the 51 House would agree with him in expressing a wish that all those who professed to represent the Church had manifested the same moderation and temper which the hon. Member for West Kent had displayed. If, indeed, all those who called themselves High Churchmen had acted in the same way there would have been no need for Parliament to interfere. His hon. Friend had, however, spoken of the action of the Bishops with regard to the Bill, and had told them that one and another Bishop disapproved of the Bill. That was an argument to which the House could not listen. The Bishops wore Peers of Parliament, and it was their part to express their dissent to this Bill, if they felt any, when it took leave of the other House. Surely, the duty of such Bishops as disapproved of the proposed legislation was, not to whisper dissent in select parties, but if they were dissatisfied with a great measure which had been promoted by the two Archbishops, as men and Peers of Parliament, to express their opinions in the House of Lords, and let the country generally be aware of the causes of their disapproval. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) had done well to call attention to the fact that this Bill was introduced, and strongly supported by the heads of the Church themselves, with a view to meet a very grave condition of affairs, to which it would be folly and affectation to shut their eyes. He (Viscount Sandon) wished to call the attention of the House to what that grave condition of affairs was. A very solemn compact had been entered into between Church and State, which was to be found in one of the most important Acts of Parliament in the Statute Book, and that compact rested on the observance of the Prayer Book and the rules enjoined in it. The words employed in the 14th of Charles II. Were as followed:—No form or order of common prayer, administration of sacraments, rites, or ceremonies shall be openly used in any church, chapel, or other public place other than what is prescribed and appointed to be used in and by said book.Those were the words as they stood upon the Statute Book, and it was upon that, as he understood it, that the compact as it at present existed between the State and the Reformed Church was based; and the same language was hold in both the preceding Acts of Uniformity. 52 Upon the fulfilment of these conditions rested, as long as these statutes remained unrepealed, the acknowledgment by the State of the Church of England as the National Church. Everyone would acknowledge that the law must be obeyed, and he entirely demurred to the statement that it was of importance only to the members of the Church of England whether obedience should in this respect be paid to the law. It was the duty and the interest alike of Nonconformists, of Roman Catholics, and of members of the Established Church to see that any law which stood upon the Statute Book should be obeyed. It was a matter of the gravest importance that they should, on all sides, stand up for obedience to the law, and endeavour to crush any attempt that might be made to break it. For the freer and more democratic institutions became, the more essential it was, in the interests of society, that respect for law should be maintained, and the more incumbent it was upon the clergy and ministers of religion to set an example of such respect and scrupulous obedience. The question then arose as to whether the law was being widely set aside, and whether there was a real danger of this compact between the Church and State being broken. If the House would bear with him for a minute or two, he trusted he should be able to show that the danger was a real one. The compact rested upon the adherence on the part of the Church to the doctrines and usages of the Reformation. That the danger was real was evident from the reply of the two highest authorities in the land, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who last year, in reply to a memorial presented to them, said—There can be no doubt that the danger you apprehend of a considerable minority both of clergy and laity among us desiring to subvert the principles of the Reformation is real.…. We feel justified in appealing to all reasonable men to consider whether the very existence of our national institutions for the maintenance of religion is not imperilled by the evils of which you complain.Could anything be more serious or more alarming than such an acknowledgment and such an appeal from the two much respected and discreet heads of the Church? It was notorious, also, that the old High Church party were equally hostile to, and equally alarmed by, the 53 present movement. He need hardly allude to the burning words of the author of Quomque—now known far and wide—a much-honoured leading man of Christ Church in past years. He would, however, quote the words of another remarkable man, still moving in the centre of Church life in Oxford. The passage to which he referred was from an eloquent sermon delivered last year by the Rev. John Burgon, Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, Fellow of Oriel College, Gresham, Lecturer in Divinity, and one of the leaders of the High Church party. The words which he used wore these—I behold with dismay the ghastly up-growth of one more sect—one more schism—one fresh aspect of Nonconformity; and I mourn not least of all, because I sec plainly that these medieval extravagancies are making, if they have not already made, reconciliation with our Wesleyan brethren a thing impossible. There is no telling, in fact, how fatal is this retrograde movement to the progress of real Churchman-ship throughout the length and breadth of the land. 'Ritualism'—for so disloyalty to the Church is absurdly called—is the great difficulty with a surprising number of the clergy in our large towns, especially in the Northern dioceses. The working people simply hate it. They will not listen to 'Church defence' while this ugly phantom looms before them. Hundreds are being driven by it into Dissent. 'I dare not call a Church defence meeting in this town'—writes an able and a faithful incumbent—' it would be instantly turned into an anti-Ritualistic demonstration.' Thus, the cause of Christianity itself is suffering by the extravagancies of a little handful of misguided men. They assume that their outlandish ways are 'Catholic,' whereas they are schismatical entirely—the outcome of a lawless spirit, a morbid appetite, an undisciplined will. Indecent self-assertion and undutiful disregard for lawful authority are even conspicuous notes of this new sect. It is enough that one of these 'Catholic-minded' gentlemen should be re-buked by 'his Ordinary'—whom at the most solemn moment of his life he promised that he would 'reverently obey'—for him to go off into yet more reprehensible excesses. Meanwhile, the organs of his party denounce the proposed interference in the most unmeasured language, and the vocabulary of defiance, contumely, invective, is exhausted on as many as avow themselves on the side of authority and order.He felt that he had not done wrong in quoting the burning words of one of the most intellectual and highly respected members of the High Church party in Oxford. These were words which deserved the greatest consideration, and only represented, he believed, the general feeling of the more thoughtful members of that ancient historical party in the Church, which had been from old times faithful to the principles of the 54 Reformation. That the objects of this new section were widely different, he would now proceed to show. There was no concealment of the objects which the Ritualistic party had in view, and these objects were thus avowed by one of their great lights, the Rev. Mr. Nugee—Our object and desire is to restore the Church of England in her beauty and in her ritual to what she was before the Reformation.Another of their leaders, the Rev. Orby Shipley, said—Consider how much has yet to be done ere we stabilitate our conquest over Protestantism, or, still more, ere we re-Catholicize the Church of England We have…. to make confession the ordinary custom of the masses.…. We have to restore the religious life, to say mass daily, and to practise reservation of the Sacrament for the sick.And finally, the statement made by The Church Times two years ago was—We are contending, as our adversaries know full well, for the extirpation of Protestant opinions and practices, not merely within the Church itself, but throughout all England.What he had read, therefore, he believed to be sufficient to show that the object of this section was unmistakeably to undo the work of the Reformation, and that the old High Church party were against these Ritualistic movements, which they maintained to be the work of a small number of men, whose object was to break the compact which now existed between the Church and the State. He (Viscount Sandon) was a sincere member of the Established Church, and desired to give the utmost liberty of thought and action to all connected with it; but he thought practices such as those included in the Bill, should at once be put down by the strong arm of the law, as being obvious breaches of the Acts of Uniformity, and of the compact by which the State acknowledged the Church of England as the National Church. Surely, a case had been made out which showed the time had come for Parliament to insist upon the maintenance of the terms of the compact. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich said, it was desirable that some relaxation in the strict rules, as laid down in the rubrics, should be made, as, for example, in the use of the prayer for the Church militant, the division of services, the use of hymns, &c.; but the House would remember that relaxations of that nature 55 were provided for by the Report of the Ritual Commission. That was a Commission issued by the late Lord Derby when in office, and bore the signature of his right hon. Friend now Secretary of State for War. These recommendations were adopted by members of the Commission representing all parties in the Church, and bad been before the country and the late Government a long time, and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich refused to take them up, and demurred, as he had done on previous occasions, to the expediency of Parliament dealing with Church matters. Upon that point he (Viscount Sandon) took issue with the right hon. Gentleman. When they considered the magnitude of the Church, and the way in which the interests of the people and of the Nonconformists were bound up with her, it was nothing less than essential that the affairs of that Church should be discussed in the great Imperial Parliament of England, a Legislature which, though composed of heterogeneous materials, had practically shown itself anxious to promote her usefulness, and to see that the great principle upon which she was established was duly carried into effect. It was not only not injurious to the Church of England, but he held it to be her great privilege that her affairs were discussed in the great Council of the nation, and that on such great questions she was able to procure not only the opinions of her own members, but of their Nonconformist and Roman Catholic brethren. He did not want a smaller and more restricted Church Body than that in which they stood. The tendency of every Church deliberative body was to get narrow and to get bitter; and the debates upon Church matters in that House, in deliberation, in reverence, and in thoughtfulness, contrasted favourably with almost all Church gatherings in modern and ancient times. He might further say that that House had done more for the reform of the Church than all the assemblies in the world. He should like to know where the Church would have been if it had not been for the action of Parliament. As an earnest Churchman, he wished to keep up the noble comprehensiveness of the Church of England, and he would sooner sacrifice any part of her system, than her hold upon the great deliberative Assembly of 56 the nation. He had never concealed his personal views upon Church matters, and he would do nothing to shut out the High Church party, the Broad Church party, or any of those various parties which had contributed so much to the power with which the Church of England had been enabled to spread a pure Christianity throughout the land, and in all the various quarters of the world. "When, however, he saw a party rising which was entirely alien to those principles upon which the compact between Church and State was founded, and announced by word and deed its hostility to the Reformation, he had no alternative but to approve, even if he could not accept, in every one of its provisions—a Bill which had been prepared by the two great heads of the English Church, and which had for its object the one great principle of obedience to the law.
§ MR. RICHARD
Sir, some may perhaps think it hardly becoming for a Nonconformist to interpose in a discussion which relates to matters connected with the internal economy and administration of the Church of England. But we must remember that in the eye of the law, we are all members of the Church of England, whether we wish it or not. According to the memorable dictum of Hooker—There is not any man of the Church of England but the same man is also a member of the Commonwealth; nor any member of the Commonwealth, who is not also of the Church of England.The Church of England is a national institution, supported by national property, and administered by national authority, and that authority is exercised in the name of Nonconformists as well as others. We cannot too strongly set our faces against the new theory of Church Establishments which is attempted to be foisted upon us in these days, according to which they have a double aspect to suit different exigencies. For purposes of endowment and privilege and status, they are to be treated as national institutions; but as regards submission to authority and the rights of the people, they are to be independent sects, who have a right to do what they please. At the same time, I should wish in the observations I am about to address to the House, not to say one word to wound the just susceptibilities 57 of any member of the Church of England. For, notwithstanding the fiery peroration of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) last evening, to which I listened with more surprise and pain than I can well describe, I can say with a perfectly clear conscience that I am not an enemy of the Church of England. I wish, indeed, to see that Church separated from the State, because I believe, rightly or wrongly—such is my profound and earnest conviction—that such a consummation would conduce to the interests of truth and freedom, and charity and peace; and that ultimately, it would confer inestimable advantages upon the Church itself, which would far more than compensate for the loss of the injurious and invidious patronage of the State. I feel also, of course, that as a political institution, the Church of England has been a hard and cruel stepmother to the Nonconformists, inflicting upon them for generations wrongs and sufferings, disabilities and humiliations which have burnt a deep mark into the memory of Nonconformists, and which you cannot expect us to forget or condone in a day. And I regret to be obliged to infer from the Bill brought before the House yesterday, and the speech with which it was introduced, and the reception accorded to both, that the old spirit of intolerance has not departed from the Church of England. But with all that, no one acknowledges more cordially than I do, the immense services which the Church of England has done, and is doing, to the cause of Christian truth and Christian morality in this land. No one would more sincerely rejoice than I should, if some means could be found to relieve her from those internal embarrassments which destroy her harmony, and so fatally interfere with her usefulness and efficiency as a teacher and guide of the people. But I doubt very much whether those means are to be found in the direction of such Bills as the one now before the House. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite forgive me if I say, with no feeling of pleasure, far less of exultation or triumph, but with the utmost sorrow and dismay, that the present condition of the Church of England seems to me to be painful and deplorable to the last degree? For what do we find? We find all her clergy, at 58 the most solemn moment of their existence, when they are entering into Holy Orders under what they profess to be something very like Divine inspiration, subscribing the same Articles, giving their full assent and consent to all and everything contained in the same Book? of Common Prayer, accepting and submitting to the same canons, and yet, in their public teaching, displaying such divergencies and contradictions in regard to the most essential points of Christian doctrine—that it was no exaggeration to state, as it was stated in The Times a few months ago—that it is now established that a clergyman of the Church of England might teach any doctrine which only extreme subtlety can distinguish from Roman Catholicism on the one side, Calvinism on another side, and from Deism on a third side. But this Bill is directed against one particular class of persons in the Church of England. There is no use in attempting to disguise that. It was openly and explicitly avowed by the authors of the Bill in "another place." But does this Bill touch the core of the mischief? It deals only with outward forms, with questions of church architecture, of ecclesiastical vestments, ceremonies, and gestures. But every one knows that those who promote this movement in the Church of England attach importance to such things only as they are symbols of doctrine. There might be some foolish young men among the clergy, who, to use the language of Dr. Pusey, display "a love of Ritual for its own sake, which is one of the weak points of the movement." No one will suspect me of any sympathy with such things. This histrionic and sensuous religion seems to me to be utterly at variance with the simplicity of Christian worship. It is a going back—and nobody must be offended by the words I am about to use, for they are the words of one entitled to speak with authority, and were spoken in reference to tendencies in the Primitive Church, precisely similar to those of which you are now complaining in the Church of England—a "going back to the weak and beggarly elements "from which we hoped as Protestants to have escaped, but to which there are some who would bring us again into bondage. I have seen services in the Church of England to which the language of our great Christian poet, 59 himself a devoted son of the Church, seemed to me expressly applicable—There Ceremony leads her Ingots forth,Prepared to fight for shadows of no worth;As soldiers watch the signal of command,They learn to how, to kneel, to sit, to stand:Happy to fill religion's vacant placeWith hollow form, and gesture and grimace.But I say again, that the men at the head of this movement acknowledge that these outward forms have no value except as means of conveying into the minds and hearts of the people the inward and spiritual meaning that lurks underneath. They have a deep-laid and well-considered plan to introduce vital and fundamental changes into the religious faith of the people. What are the things they teach? I will not attempt to explain them in my own language, lest I should be suspected of exaggerating under the influence of sectarian prejudice. I will, therefore, give the description in the language of one of the Prelates of the Established Church. The Bishop of London, in his Charge to the clergy in 1871, says—When we find the "Catholic revival," so called asserted as the antithesis and antidote to the Reformation, which is deplored as a misfortune, if not a sin; when its work is admitted, and, indeed, avowed to he to undo what was then done; when Holy Scripture is disparaged as a rule of faith, unless as supplemented and explained by "Catholic teaching," and the Thirty-nine Articles are complained of as an unfair burden, put aside as obsolete, or interpreted in a sense which, if their words can be wrested into bearing, is undoubtedly not that which they were intended to bear; when the doctrines of those who drew them up are disclaimed as un-Catholic, and almost condemned as heretical; when language is used, popularly and without qualification, on the subject of the Holy Eucharist, which, whether capable or not of being absolved, under qualification, of contradiction to our formularies, is not only declared by Protestants but claimed by Romanists to be identical with transubstantiation; when seven Sacraments are again taught, and confession with absolution is enjoined, not as an occasional remedy for exceptional doubts and sorrows, but as the ordinary rule of a holy life and needful preparation for holy communion; when prayers for the dead are recommended, and purgatory more than hinted at; when the cultus of the Virgin and the invocation of saints are introduced into books of devotion, which are framed on the Romish model, and adapted to and distributed among persons of all ages, ranks, and occupations; when, finally, we are told that, in order to 'stabilitate the conquests over Protestantism and to re-Catholicize the Church of England,' it still remains 'to make confession the ordinary custom of the masses, and to teach them to use eucharistic worship, to establish the claim to Catholic Ritual in its highest form, to restore the religious life' 60 (meaning the life of the cloister), 'to say mass daily, and to practice reservation for the sick '; when this movement is thus developed in its results or explained by its supporters, it is not possible that it could be received by Bishops of the Reformed Church of England with anything but disapprobation, warning, and sorrowful rebuke, unless they were unfaithful indeed to their office, their vows, and their Master the Lord Jesus Christ.Such is the description given by an English Prelate of what is going on within his Church, and I venture to call it a moderate, nay, a faint and imperfect description; for I also have watched with great interest for more than 30 years the development of this remarkable phenomenon within the Church of England. And so successful has been this teaching that Archbishop Manning has publicly declared that—The clergy of the Established Church have taken out of the hands of the Catholic clergy the labour of contending for the doctrines of transubstantiation and invocation of saints.I will not venture to say whether those are the doctrines of the Church of England. If I had been asked that question 25 or 30 years ago, I should have answered with considerable emphasis—" No, they are not the doctrines of the Church of England." But the principle of "development" has been at work so actively and wonderfully since then, that it is difficult to say what are the doctrines of the Church of England. But this I will venture to say, at least—that they are not the doctrines of a Protestant Church—they are not the doctrines of the Reformation. But I contend that your Bill does not touch these doctrines. If you could put every clergyman in England into a strait-waistcoat of rubrical uniformity to-morrow—would that stop such teaching as I have described? As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford said with great terseness and force—" Why legislate against gestures, and leave doctrines untouched? "You apply your little ointments to the cutaneous eruptions on the surface, while the whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. There is, no doubt, considerable force in the observation made by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), in the masterly speech which he delivered in an earlier part of the afternoon, when he drew this distinction between Ritual and' doctrine—that, in the case of Ritual, the worshipper himself was, as it were, made 61 a sharer in the objectionable things done. And, he added, the doctrine preached from the pulpit you can receive or reject. Yes, but it is not in the pulpit alone that the doctrines I have described are being taught by the clergy. Why, at this very moment, you are doing all you can to throw the whole education of the young in this country, both primary and secondary, into the hands of these very men. There were two remarkable speeches made during the former evening dedicated to this discussion, that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and that of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the City of Oxford. There was a great deal in both those speeches in which I concurred. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was an eloquent eulogy upon Christian freedom, to which my heart responded, Amen. What he advocated was the Congregational theory, and, as I am a Congregationalist myself, I naturally rejoiced to have the right hon. Gentleman on my side. But I am afraid it will not apply well to an Established Church. For, when we look at the position of those ministers for whom he claims this freedom, when we remember that they are State officials, who enjoy enormous national endowments, each of them put in possession of a freehold for life from which he cannot be displaced, and that they have accepted this position on certain well-understood conditions settled by Parliament, and which Parliament has surely a right to enforce, might it not happen that the freedom of the clergy might prove to be enslavement for the people? On the other hand, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the City of Oxford had pleaded for uniformity, and surely, with the best reason in the world, according to the present constitution of the Church of England, for is not that Church founded, as he said, on a succession of Acts of Uniformity? Are not her clergy bound by the most solemn undertaking to abide by her doctrines and forms, so much so that the Home Secretary went so far as to say, that a clergyman is to preach not according to his own interpretation of the Scriptures, but according to the standards of the Church. Well, this idea of absolute uniformity, so strenuously upheld by the hon. and learned Gentleman sounded very well in theory. It might appear 62 pleasant to the outward eye to have 20,000 men obliged to speak and do the same thing. But at what cost do you get this uniformity; at what a cost of intellectual servility, of violence done to conscience, of temptations to disingenuous sophistry in putting such strained interpretations upon the Articles and offices of the Church, as would, if applied to any other documents, and in any other department of life, be branded as fraudulent and dishonest? This has been going on and is going on openly, and I believe it is seriously injuring the national morality of this country. I should like to see my hon. and learned Friend subjected to an Act of Uniformity on any matter whatever. He is himself a universal Nonconformist. I do not say that by way of reproach, for it is perfectly natural that one of his vigorous and independent mind should exercise the right to judge for himself on all questions. But I believe that one of the dangers and difficulties of the Church arises from this attempt to prescribe an enforced uniformity, though I do not see how it can be otherwise so long as you have an Established Church. I believe you are on the wrong tack altogether in trying to regulate the affairs of a great spiritual body by the coarse machinery of the law. There is only one way of escape out of the embarrassments in which you are involved. I pronounce the word with fear and trembling, for I know it is a word which many hon. Gentlemen opposite hate, as they say a certain personage hates holy water. But it is a word to which they must familiarize their ears, for they will have to hear it a good many times in the coming years. The man must be blind, beyond all remedy, to the signs of the times who cannot see that the conflict between the Temporal and Spiritual power, is going to be "the irrepressible conflict "of our times—not only in this country, but in all countries. I see no way out of it, but one—and now I am going to pronounce the obnoxious word—Disestablishment. All I desire for the Church of England is that she should enjoy the same privileges that I myself enjoy, that the fetters by which she is bound to the State be cut asunder, so that she may possess that which the humblest Christian community in this land possesses, freedom to order her own affairs, according to her conception of 63 what will most conduce to her own edification, and is most in harmony with the will of her Divine Master.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
said, he was not surprised to find that, although there was a difference of opinion with regard to this question, there was one point on which it seemed all were agreed, and that was that some legislation on the subject was urgently needed and absolutely necessary. He believed that the people of this country were fair-judging people, and that they had no desire to take harsh measures against anyone, as long as he fulfilled his duty; and that still less did they desire to take them against the ministers of their religion, to whom, as a rule, they were warmly and sincerely attached. But when they saw that there was, and had been for a considerable period, an unlawful deviation from long-established usages in the services of the Church; and that, however acceptable that deviation might be to some, it was much objected to and most painful to others; and when they bore in mind that that deviation was contrary to the form of worship laid down by the different Acts of Uniformity, and which they were entitled to call upon their ministers to observe in the due discharge of their public ministrations; and when they found that this form of worship had been materially and rudely altered against their will; and that they were without the power of correcting and restraining that alteration; it was no wonder, since all other authority had failed, that they should apply to Parliament, as the highest of all authorities, and ask it to pass a measure that would give them speedy, reasonable, and satisfactory redress. The Bill had been objected to on several grounds, which he would class under two different heads—first, the clerical objections involving the point that the House had no power to deal with the question without the previous sanction of Convocation, and secondly, the objection which had been taken to it both on account of what it did and also of what it omitted to do. It had been supposed most erroneously—although, to a great extent, the point had been cleared up in the course of the debate—that the Bill proposed in some way or other to touch and alter the doctrines and the Liturgy of the Church of England. But that was 64 a mistake. If the Bill were passed as it now stood, the doctrines and the Liturgy of the Church would remain exactly as they were, and in case any question should arise with regard to them, it would be governed by the same principles, it would be subject to the same laws, and it would be determined by the same tribunals as those which were applicable to such a subject at the present moment. All that the Bill in effect would do, would be to alter the mode of procedure by means of which the observance of the law would have to be enforced, while the law itself would remain unaltered. He thought that the objection that that House had no authority to deal with the question, unless with the sanction and consent of Convocation, was founded upon a mistaken view as to the separate duties, functions, and powers of Convocation and of Parliament. He could not agree with the proposition laid down by the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), that Parliament alone was entitled to deal with questions of doctrine and of Ritual as far as they affected the Church of England; but he did agree with him that if it were necessary to deal with the temporalities of the Church as distinct from the spiritual duties of its ministers, Parliament was the proper and sole authority to deal with them. Constitutional usage showed that there was a distinction between those two matters. When the Articles of Religion were settled in 1562, and when the Ritual itself was settled 100 years later, the mode of proceeding adopted was, that a Commission was issued by the Crown, as the supreme authority in this Realm, to inquire into the matters which might then be referred to it, and then Convocation acquiesced in what was done, and Parliament subsequently ratified it. It was not unreasonable in matters of that kind that the consent of Convocation should be required before Parliament was asked to deal with them, for there was no other way in which the joint concurrence of the clergy and laity could be obtained; but on all subjects, such as the division of a see, the abolition of pluralities and of sinecures, and the Church Discipline Act which they were now asked to amend, Parliament had a right to act for itself, and it was the only authority by which such matters could properly be determined, Now, what 65 were the objections to the Bill itself. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of the City of London in bringing in the Bill described it—and described it truly—as one not in anyway altering the present law, but enacting a different procedure. That was so, and it was surprising to him that any clergyman of the Established Church should object to being tried for any ecclesiastical offence under the more lenient, speedy, and inexpensive form of procedure proposed by the Bill, or that he should, for a moment, prefer the more expensive, oppressive, and dilatory procedure at present in force. Under the present law the Bishop could act upon his own mere will, or he could be put in motion by any person whatever; but under the Bill, he could not act upon his own motion, but he must be put in motion by particular persons mentioned in the measure. If the provision in that respect was not satisfactory, it could be altered in Committee. Under the present law, the Bishop appointed three assessors to assist him in the inquiry, but he could set aside their advice and act according to his own view of the case; but under the Bill, the Archbishop would appoint a competent and independent Judge to try the case, and it was by that Judge, and by him alone, that the case would be heard and decided. Under the present law, the clergyman had to go through two intermediate Courts before he reached the Court of Final Appeal, whereby he incurred considerable expense and delay; whereas under the Bill he would be able to proceed to the Court of Final Appeal immediately he had gone through the Court of First Instance, whereby he would be saved a ruinous expense, and the misery of having a charge hanging over him for an unlimited time. Nothing he conceived could be more just and fair to the clergy than the Bill, and if, as was observed by his right hon Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), the Bill omitted to include in its provisions the whole of the ecclesiastical offences dealt with in the Church Discipline Act, the answer was, what a storm of indignation would have been aroused had the Bill proposed to couple together in the same category, deviations from the rubric and departures from morality and decorum. Under those circumstances 66 he failed to see, either in what the Bill did or in what it omitted to do, anything that could entitle a clergyman to take objection to it. He confessed that he had much sympathy for the Amendment that had been proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Hall) because he wished that before the Bill was introduced means could have been adopted for revising the Rubrics of the Prayer Boot, so as to free them from the ambiguities and uncertainties that at present disfigured them, and thus to have got rid of the doubts and difficulties that they now gave rise to. Had that been done, greater freedom and latitude would have been given to the minister in discharging his sacred duty, provided, in the first place, he did nothing that was contrary to the fundamental doctrines which he was bound to teach; and, provided, in the second place, he did not depart from the rules prescribed for hint, but faithfully followed them as soon as they were settled, according to the obligation which he had solemnly entered into on undertaking his duties. He entirely concurred in what had been said on more than one occasion in the course of the debate—that a Church to be national must be comprehensive; and he believed that the Church of England was and always had been a comprehensive Church; but let him remind the House that there were those who might have moved in this matter before, that it had been referred to Convocation on Letters of Business; that the detailed Report of the Ritual Commission had been in their hands; that Convocation had never adopted it in earnest; and that had they done so, the difficulty now experienced by the House in discussing this question would have been, to a great extent, if not altogether, removed. Several circumstances which had come to his knowledge gave him great hopes that the measure, if passed, would meet with success. Thus, one of the best and noblest opponents of this Bill—a man who was revered by every party for his learning, his piety, and his zeal—had counselled those who agreed with him in opposing this measure that, when it became law, they should try and see whether some of the infractions of the rubrics could not be permanently put an end to; and the respected Prolocutor of the Lower House of Convocation (Archdeacon Bickersteth) had, in his recent 67 charge to his clergy, clearly pointed out that the time had come when Convocation and Parliament should deal with this question. It had also been distinctly said, in many other quarters, that when the law was settled the great majority of the clergy would submit to it. He hoped, therefore, the House would agree to the second reading of the Bill, leaving it to be put in the best form in Committee; for if they did not adopt that course, he feared the result would be a longer and a more bitter controversy than ever, and which, as had been observed by an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Richard), would infallibly lead either to disestablishment or to disintegration. He urged the members of the establishment to recollect that, while they were quarrelling within the Church, the enemies of the establishment would be daily gaining ground, and that their disunion would only strengthen the hopes of those who desired to bring about the severance of the union between Church and State. Those were the reasons—not without much pain at being compelled to differ on this question from his hon. Colleague and from his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford—which induced him to desire that the Bill should be read a second time, trusting that it would conduce to the peace, the welfare, and the stability of the Established Church, and thereby conduce, in a still larger and wider degree, to the peace, the welfare, and the stability of the Empire.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he wished to express briefly, but clearly and candidly, the motives which induced him to vote for the second reading of this Bill. He was aware that no arguments were required to secure the passing of the measure by a large and possibly by an overwhelming majority of that House; still, he thought that the time had not been lost in continuing the debate over a second day, seeing that thereby hon. Members had been enabled to state their views upon the question. That being a debate on a great Parliamentary change, he thought he was justified in examining the arguments, and in foreshadowing the results for which they must be prepared. He also ventured to think that much advantage would arise from the fact of those who took a deep interest in the Bill outside 68 the House, and especially the clergy, who thought themselves so greatly affected by the measure being able to gauge and measure what he might call the Parliamentary attitude with respect to the question. It was of considerable advantage, too, that hon. Members had had the benefit of listening to the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). That speech might be summed up in two sentences—" I am in favour of disestablishment. But while establishment continues, I expect to find in that establishment loyalty to law." His hon. Friend's words ought to be taken to heart by the clergy of the Church of England, that they might know they were carefully watched by the nation at large; and that while the establishment continued—and, for his part, he hoped it might long continue—there would be found within that establishment, and in all parts of it, loyalty to the law on which it rested. He also thought that the clergy should take note of the Parliamentary attitude, and observe what had occurred during the debate. The Churchmen who were opposed to the Bill should remember that in the House of Lords its second reading was passed without a division, and that a Motion for delay was defeated by a majority of 137 to 29. They should remember, too, what had been the attitude of the House of Commons with respect to it on the first evening of the debate; that hon. Gentlemen from all parts of the House had recorded their votes—275 to 114—against suppressing the discussion at an early hour. Those facts showed the intense interest taken in the question, and the decision and attitude of Parliament in respect of it. Further, the clergy opposed to the Bill ought to remember that the measure was introduced at a time when a Conservative Government was in office—the Government of a party which by their principles and traditions sympathized with the Church of England; and they should remember how many Members of that Government had spoken in favour of the Bill. But more important still, they would see that Peers and Commons, Conservatives and Liberals, ecclesiastics and laymen, were all in favour of that Bill, and that had it excited in both Houses of Parliament an amount of support, seldom, if ever, accorded to any measure, political or 69 otherwise, and more especially to one of a controversial character. Those were simple facts; and it was well that they should be borne in mind, so that the clergy who, whether they liked it or not, were under the control of Parliament might not deceive themselves as to the views of Parliament. He said thus much, because he had read from the pen of an eloquent divine—for whom he had the highest respect—Dr. Hoot, Dean of Chichester—the assertion that the discussion on the Bill would be "relegated from the House of Lords to an assemblage in which it would be legislated upon by Jews, Turks, freethinkers, heretics, and infidels." Those, however, were not wise words, and he (Mr. Goschen) said, let not such writers deceive themselves. If the opponents of the Bill would study the division list, they would see that it was supported by a majority consisting of members of the Church of England. It was not, however, those who were the enemies of the Church who proposed the legislation. Those who opposed its creed did not wish to force the Bill upon the clergy, and that fact, too, was worthy of note He believed he was speaking the feelings of many hon. Members on both sides of the House, when he said—"Would that the language of Parliament, held on this occasion so emphatically—so unanimously in most respects, so loyal to the Church, and so anxious for its interests—might reach the opponents of the Bill as a friendly, but as a kindly warning!" for he feared that there wore many of the opponents of the Bill who came into contact only with unanimous and enthusiastic congregations, who had not the means which hon. Members of that House had, of knowing what was the real and true sense of the laity of the country upon this question. But when he said the laity of the country, he meant the male laity; for he was not sure that if the female laity were polled, they would not be opposed to the Bill. Well, he asked—as his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) had asked—Was that a small Bill or a large one? It was a small Bill, in his opinion, if the clergy intended to obey it. It was a small Bill, if it were accepted in a proper spirit, but it would not be a small Bill, if it were intended to offer resistance to it. It substituted a simple for a complicated procedure; 70 and it would be taken in a proper spirit, unless a portion of the clergy resented, as some of them most unwisely resented, the interference of Parliament in matters concerning religion. Now, what was the attitude of a portion of the Church upon the question. He should wish to be permitted to read a brief extract from an address of the President of the Established Church Union, showing the mode in which they regarded the Bill—A turning point," he said, "has been reached in the Church of England. It is a turning-point, not because the measure now before Parliament does, in fact, revolutionize the position of the whole clergy of the Church of England by sweeping away all the Diocesan Courts in the teeth of the recommendations of Convocation. It is a turning point, not because it touches a large and increasing body of laity of all ranks and conditions throughout the length and breadth of the land. It is not even a turning point, because those whom the measure is meant to crush are many of them bound to us by the strongest ties of friendship and respect. Not on all these accounts, important as they are, is it a decisive moment in the history of the Church of England, but because, apart from all other considerations which may be urged against this unhappy and ill-advised measure, it is a deliberate attempt to govern the Church of England by Act of Parliament, instead of by her Synods, and to force upon the clergy, by means of a Bill of Pains and Penalties, the acceptance of this position—namely, that the interpretations put upon the Church's Publics by the Civil tribunals are necessarily to be taken as equivalent to the law of the Church itself.In that statement, which was no doubt true to a certain extent, the whole point was raised. The momentous character of the issue was said to rest upon this—that a deliberate attempt was made to govern the Church of England by Act of Parliament. It was a deliberate attempt, he (Mr. Goschen) would not say to govern the Church by Act of Parliament, but to enforce the laws of the Church. If that was to be the issue, they must accept it. Those of them who were Churchmen must be sorry to see clergymen of the Church anxious to dispute the position that they lived in a Parliamentary Church; but, at the same time, their course of action appeared to be clear. They must accept the challenge. They must say by the present Bill that they expected Acts of Parliament to be obeyed in the Church. He confessed he stood almost aghast to see the manner in which the authority of Bishops in an Episcopal Church was set at defiance by a certain portion of the clergy. He was an old 71 friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he had been grieved to the heart to read words which had been applied to His Grace by many newspapers which were written by clergymen. "The morals of the turf," it was said, "had been introduced into the Episcopal Bench." He had also seen his Grace accused of falsifying documents and of shuffling in this matter, a proceeding which could not be too strongly reprobated. The discussion had, he thought, been conducted with more temper and greater regard for the feelings of others in the House of Commons than it had been by a section of the Church. Now, what were his motives in voting for the second reading of the Bill? They were these—that in a State Church they must face the enforcement of State laws. He did not say they should enforce them against one section or one side only; but so long as laws existed they must be obeyed. They could not stand by after such speeches as had been delivered by the hon. Member for Morthyr, and say that they were afraid to enforce the law, in what the hon. Member had termed a law Church. They could not permit a mutiny against the Episcopate in an Episcopal Church. They could not allow a mutiny against national law in a national Chinch. But then arose the question, could they enforce these laws; and what would be the consequence if they did? For his own part, he did not believe that the bulk of Churchmen were afraid of a general application of the law. He quite admitted, however, that if the law were to be enforced at all, it ought to be enforced upon both parties alike without fear or favour. His right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) had spoken of obsolete laws of the Church. He did not believe there were many such; and the instance as to the reading of the Athanasian Creed did not hold good, for the law requiring it to be read, though it was not perhaps obeyed, was yet in force. His right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich did excellent service by pointing out that the Bill might be applied not only to one portion of the Church but to another; and he pointed particularly to the singing of hymns, the reading of the Athanasian Creed, and the catechizing of children. On examination he (Mr. Goschen) thought that those difficulties would not be found so great 72 as they at first sight appeared, for the Church, as a body, were prepared to accept the rubrics, the Prayer Book, and forms of worship without delay. Had the rubric with regard to vestments been omitted from the Prayer Book, the controversy would, he believed, have been slight indeed—And here is to be noted, that such Ornaments of the Church, and of the Ministers thereof at all Times of their Ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England, by the Authority of Parliament, in the Second Year of the Reign of King Edward the Sixth.That was a simple rubric; one would fancy a small matter to lead to the disruption of the Church. But as to the difficulties stated, he did not think there would be any objection to the universal reading of the prayer for the Church Militant, or to the catechizing of children; for as to this latter point the greatest discretion was left to the clergy. They were to catechize only such as they might think convenient, and there was no law as to compulsory attendance. Then, as to the singing of hymns, he would beg to draw attention to a document which showed that the singing of hymns at particular parts of the service was allowed. In the Injunctions of Elizabeth, A.D. 1559, which were stated to have been drawn up by Archbishops and Bishops, signed by Royal authority, with regard to which it was reasonably argued that they fell within 26 Elizabeth, cap. 2, and therefore had Parliamentary authority, it was stated in section 48, as followed—Nevertheless, for the comforting' of such a delight in music, it may be permitted that in the beginning, or in the end of the common prayers, either at morning or evening, there may be sung an hymn or such like song to the praise of Almighty God in the best sort of melody or music that may conveniently be used, having respect that the sentence of hymn may be understanded and perceived.Therefore, from the time of Queen Elizabeth downwards, the singing of hymns in the Church had been allowed. Of course, if hymns had been interpolated into the Communion Service and had reference to the service of the Mass, they would be illegal and should be suppressed. Then, as to the reading of the Athanasian Creed, it should be remembered that the question was one of feeling and sentiment, not of belief, for, as a matter of fact, all the clergy had at their ordination declared their belief in 73 the Athanasian Creed. Further than that, an eminent authority of the Broad Church party stated to him that, so far as he knew, there was no doctrinal objection to the reading of that Creed. He mentioned these facts because he thought they ought to look the whole question in the face, and not be afraid to face the results of the Bill. Did the House think it likely that there would exist a determination on the part of certain members of the Church, after the Bill was passed, to bring about a state of anarchy in the Church? Would the clergy and parishioners make the worst of it? He scarcely thought that the parishioners would set it in motion, in order that mischief might result, and he did not believe that it would be to the advantage of the extreme party to endeavour to create anarchy and further differences. But it had been said that the Bill might be made the instrument of vexatious litigation. Well, the parishioners who took advantage of its provisions should either do so on principle, or as the tools of a party. If they did so on principle, there could be no objection to their moving, more especially as they would do so at the risk of having to pay costs. They might, however, take action as tools of the extreme party in the Church, and with a view to obtain remedial legislation for themselves, by showing that the bonds imposed by the Bill should be relaxed. He believed that if that course were adopted, those who took it would find themselves entirely mistaken. Neither the present nor any other Government would or could widen the limits for the extreme party. Well, what results were likely to follow from the agitation which might arise? Would it be disestablishment, secession, or obedience? With respect to the first, he believed that the extreme party in the Church of England greatly deceived themselves if they thought they could come to the Liberal party, and obtain aid for them in cutting the knot by disestablishing the Church. It might be that an influential portion of the Liberal party were in favour of disestablishment, but he did not think that, if the extreme men came forward and said that they would make everything intolerable in the Church in order to its disestablishment, the Liberal party generally would lend themselves as the sword by means of which the knot was to be cut. There 74 was a large and influential section of society who, at the present moment, were contributing large funds in order to secure disestablishment, and if the views of the English Church Union were the views of the Church generally, those persons might retain their money in their pockets, for the work they desired to see done would be done for them gratis. That was not the alternative to which they could look with hope. As far as secession was concerned, their organs had candidly stated that they did not intend to take any such course. He was glad of that, for the Church of England did not wish to lose any of its members. There was another alternative, which he believed the good sense and loyalty of the clergy would lead them to accept—he meant the alternative of submission to law; and he ventured to think that even in that House, those hon. Members who did not belong to the Church of England, but who had spoken with a good feeling rising to respect and regard for the Church, would assist in providing that the laws of a Parliamentary Church should be enforced. He would only say in conclusion, that lie had often found himself in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) and the noble Chancellor of the University (the Marquess of Salisbury), both of them Members of the present Government, in reference to Church questions. He had also been taunted, and the Liberal party generally in the House had been taunted, by hon. Members opposite with being enemies of the Church, and anxious to establish a misty religion. Now, however, their position was changed, and they found the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord to whom he had just alluded, resisting the Bill against those who were acting with the two Archbishops and almost all the Spiritual Peers of the Realm. What was wished by the supporters of the Bill was—as it was most eloquently expressed by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hall), that the formularies of the Church and the entrance to it should be broad, but that the breadth should be within the law and not in the discretion of individual clergymen. They felt that within the pale of the Church there ought to be a most absolute allegiance and loyalty to the Church itself, and that a Church 75 with rich endowments and large privileges should not expose itself to the taunts of those outside its pale. As a humble member of the Church, he supported the Bill, because he looked upon it as a necessary security against the extravagant views of some portion of the clergy, and in doing so, he asked his brother Churchmen to have the courage of their convictions, and to declare that they were not afraid of the laws under which they lived. As a Member of Parliament he supported it, because he thought they were right in asserting in the most emphatic tones their right and their intention to exercise control over the Established Church of the land.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, it could not be sufficiently insisted upon that the measure under discussion was not a Bill dealing with doctrine, or even with law, but one simply intended for the amendment of a faulty system of ecclesiastical procedure, and was not intended to revolutionize the Church, or to exclude from its pale any particular party in the Church. In short, the Bill would have the effect of amending the Church Discipline Act of 1840, and although in some of its details the measure was capable of improvement, he could only regard it as a practical improvement upon the existing law. The title, however, had led to much misapprehension, and he would suggest that it should be so amended as to correspond with the contents of the Bill. The unsatisfactory feature of the Bill were to be found chiefly in the clauses which dealt with the officers of the Consistory Courts, to whom but scant justice was meted out. In treating of the cause which had tended to bring those Courts into disrepute, he thought it was too much, perhaps, to expect a great deal from the Bishops, who, in appointing their Chancellors, were not always careful to select the men best qualified to give advice upon matters of law. The exemption of private chapels from the operation of the Bill was, in his view, a fault not unlikely to lead to complication and difficulty. A good deal had been said as to the propriety of postponing the measure until the revision of the rubrics was completed, and on this point he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the Bill would in Committee assent to the insertion of a provision, postponing its coming into force during, say, six months, 76 in order that the law might be ascertained before the Judge was called upon to enforce it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the Bill that is now before the House has received very different descriptions in the course of this debate. It has been described as a very small measure, merely a measure of procedure, by one hon. Gentleman; while, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), who spoke early in to-day's debate, said it was by far the most important measure that has been before Parliament for years, and he re-echoed the opinion which had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that a Bill referring to matters of such importance should have been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government. But if measures of this character ought to be brought forward by the Government of the day, I might ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite, why, in 1872, he did not act upon that principle? From the passing of the Church Discipline Act until the present time, a variety of such measures have been introduced to the notice of Parliament, and in no instance I can recall have they been brought forward by the Government. Yet during that period the right hon. Gentleman must have exercised a considerable influence over the conduct of affairs, for during the whole of that time the country has been governed by a party formed from the Liberal ranks. Again, in 1872, my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for the Home Department called the attention of the House to this very subject in a Bill which was in substance identical, and in treatment very similar, to the Bill before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, who was then Prime Minister, sympathized with the subject of the Bill, and encouraged by his praise the introduction of it by my right hon. Friend; but he did not give it any more substantial assistance than that, and certainly he did not consider that it was the duty of the Government of the day to come forward and undertake the conduct of the measure. Nor am I inclined in any way to blame the right hon. Gentleman for the course which he adopted. I am by no means sure that it is the wisest policy 77 when you are dealing in any way with matters ecclesiastical, that, as a matter of course, the measures should he adopted by the Government and introduced to the notice of the House by the responsible Ministers of the Crown. I think it is much more likely that if the Prelates of the Church can agree on a Bill in which the discipline of the Church is concerned—if they can introduce such a measure in another place, and send it down to us, backed up by the unanimous opinion of the other House of Parliament—I believe, at the first glance, there would be a much better prospect of such a measure being successful than if it were brought forward by a Government—no matter from which side it might be drawn—which, with the utmost patience and the greatest exertion, could hardly prevent the Bill from being introduced to Parliament with the form and aspect of a party measure. What, however, is the object of the Bill which we are now considering? I will at first say what I consider is not the object of it. It is not the object of the Bill to attack any of the legitimate parties in the Church. Were it so, I certainly should not have facilitated the discussion of its merits in this House. I look upon the existence of parties in the Church as a necessary and beneficial consequence. They have always existed, even from Apostolic times; they are a natural development of the religious sentiment in man; and they represent fairly the different conclusions at which, upon subjects that are the most precious to him, the mind of man arrives. Ceremony, enthusiasm, and free speculation are the characteristics of the three great parties in the Church, some of which have now modern names, and which the world is too apt to imagine are in their character original. The truth is, that they have always existed in different forms or under different titles. Whether they are called High Church, or Low Church, or Broad Church, they bear witness, in their legitimate bounds, to the activity of the religious mind of the nation, and in the course of our history this country is deeply indebted to the exertions and the energy of all those parties. The High Church party, totally irrespective of its religious sentiment, fills a noble page in the history of England, for it has vindicated the liberties of this country in a memorable manner; no language 78 of mine can describe the benefits which this country has experienced from the exertions of the Evangelical school at the commencement of this century; and in the case of the Broad Church, it is well that a learned and highly disciplined section of the clergy should show at the present day that they are not afraid of speculative thought, or are appalled by the discoveries of science. I hold that all these schools of religious feeling can pursue their instincts consistently with a faithful adherence to the principles and practices of the Reformation as exhibited and represented in its fairest and most complete form—the Church of England. I must ask myself what; then, Sir, is the real object of the Bill, and I will not attempt to conceal my impressions upon it, for I do not think that our ability to arrive at a wise decision to-day will be at all assisted by a mystical dissertation on the subject-matter of it. I take the primary object of this Bill, whose powers, if it be enacted, will be applied and extended impartially to all subjects of Her Majesty, to be this—to put down Ritualism. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich says he does not know what Ritualism is, but there I think the right hon. Gentleman is in an isolated position. That ignorance is not shared by the House of Commons or by the country. What the House and the country understand by Ritualism is, practices by a portion of the clergy, avowedly symbolic of doctrines which the same clergy are bound in the most solemn manner to refute and repudiate. Therefore, I think, there can be no mistake among practical men as to what is meant when we say that it is our desire to discourage Ritualism; and while upon that subject, I must express my regret that the House was not as full as it is at this moment, when the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) addressed to it a most able speech, supported by ample evidence of a most instructive kind which I should have liked them to have heard. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich the other night said he was much surprised on returning to the House, after being for some time absent, to find Parliament very much excited upon Church and religious questions; and, further, the right hon. Gentleman taunted the occupants of this Bench, and the Conservative Party generally, for 79 the great disappointment which he believed would be felt at such a result, it having been held out to the country that there was now to be a tranquil time, and that the attention of Parliament was no longer to he absorbed by discussions and considerations of such a character; whereas the fact was that we had tampered with those very questions. But I do not think that as far as I am individually concerned, the taunt was deserved or was just. I can say most sincerely that I have never addressed any body of my countrymen for the last three years without having taken the opportunity of intimating to them that a great change was occurring in the politics of the world, that it would be well for them to prepare for that change, and that it was impossible to conceal from ourselves that the great struggle between the Temporal and Spiritual power which had stamped such indelible features upon the history of the past was reviving in our own time. I never spoke upon these subjects with passion, nor did I seek in any way at any time to excite such feelings in the minds of those I addressed. I spoke upon a matter which it was difficult for the million immediately to apprehend, and therefore it was not a topic introduced in order to create political excitement. I spoke from strong conviction and from a sense of duty when I wished to direct the public mind as far as I could to the consideration of circumstances in which it was so deeply interested, and which could not fail to influence the history of the country. I said then, that it appeared to me to be of the very utmost importance—and I am speaking now of the time when I addressed a large body of my countrymen as lately as autumn last—I said then, as I say now, looking to what is occurring in Europe, looking at the great struggle between the Temporal and Spiritual power which has been precipitated by those changes, of which many in this House are so proud, and of which, while they may triumph in their accomplishment, they ought not to shut their eyes to the inevitable consequences,—I said then, and say now, that in the disasters, or rather in the disturbance and possible disasters which must affect Europe, and which must to a certain degree sympathetically affect England, that it would be wise for us to rally on the broad platform of the Reformation. 80 Believing as I do that those principles were never so completely and so powerfully represented as by the Church of England; believing that without the learning, the authority, the wealth, and the independence of the Church of England, the various sects of the Reformation would by this time have dwindled into nothing, I called the attention of the country, so far as I could, to the importance of rallying around the institution of the Church of England, based upon those principles of the Reformation which that Church was called into being to represent. I do not, therefore, think that the taunt of the right hon. Gentleman is one to which I am liable. But I confess I have looked forward, not without deep regret and apprehension, to the discussions which now occupy us, and which will much more occupy our time in the future, and with that sense of responsibility to which any man whose mind is open to the vast consequences involved cannot be blind. I wish, I may add, most sincerely, and in the strongest manner, that all should understand that if I make the slightest allusion to the dogmas and ceremonies which are promulgated by the English Ritualists, I am anxious not to make a single observation which could offend the convictions of any hon. Gentleman in this House. Whether those doctrines which were quoted from authoritative writings and from books by the hon. Member for Berkshire—and which I am sorry to say are found on too many of the library shelves and tables of English clergymen—whether those doctrines are or are not adopted by them—whether they apply to the worship of the Virgin, to the Confessional, or to the various subjects which were quoted by the hon. Member—so long as those doctrines are held by Roman Catholics, I am prepared to treat them with reverence; but what I object to is, that they should be held by ministers of our Church who, when they enter the Church, enter it at the same time with a solemn contract with the nation, that they will oppose those doctrines and utterly resist them. What I do object to is Mass in masquerade. To the solemn ceremonies of our Roman Catholic friends, I am prepared to extend that reverence which my mind and conscience always give to religious ceremonies sincerely believed in; but the 81 false position in which we have been placed by, I believe, a small, but a powerful and well-organized body of those who call themselves English clergymen, in copying those ceremonies, is one which the country thinks intolerable, and of which we ought to rid ourselves. The proposition before us is a moderate and temperate one. No one can deny it is but a measure of procedure, and I am prepared to look upon it as a Bill simple in its character, and professing nothing more than that which may be found in its clauses. In considering the course which we ought to take with respect to it, I have had to trouble the House very recently with the motives which induced the Government to afford facilities for the second reading. I believe the course which we have deemed it to be our duty to take with respect to it was one which it was impossible to avoid, and which was demanded of us by a sense of duty to the House and the country, and so far as my contract with the House is concerned, I have fulfilled it, nor is it needful for me to say more than I did on a previous occasion. If it had not been that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had taken the stop which he has taken, I should have left it to the sense of the House to express itself as to the further progress of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman adopted the course which he deemed right; but I do not wish to advert further to that point on the present occasion, because he cannot outer again into the debate, and I shrink from taking any advantage which that circumstance may afford. But the right hon. Gentleman took another course—he has laid on the Table six propositions with respect to which I have no observation now to make, but that, if carried, it will be necessary that he should introduce a Bill into Parliament. Whether they will be carried or not, it is, perhaps, presumptuous to anticipate. On that point I may have my own opinion; but it would, I think, be impertinent on my part to conclude that Resolutions brought forward by the most eminent Member of our Body would not be successful. I could not, therefore, hesitate to afford the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity which he desired. By fixing the Committee for Friday next, I give the House the means of deciding on these Resolutions, but it would be presumptuous 82 on my part to contemplate what may be their fate. I must, however, say that I have given the subject my most anxious consideration—more anxious consideration, probably, than I have given to any question which has occupied my attention during the many long years of my political life—and that I have more and more, especially within the last few days, been of opinion that it would be highly desirable that this question should be settled during the present Session. I shrink, I must say, from the religious and ecclesiastical agitation which I see before me, and the consequences of our neglecting to fulfil what I think may be considered to be our duty in the present instance—to pass a measure temperate and moderate, I believe, in its scope, as I know it to be so in its conception. Further, if we refuse to pass this Bill, which is essentially conciliatory, we may find ourselves called upon to contend with far greater difficulties, and be obliged to apply as a remedy measures of a character far more stringent—measures of a character which one does not wish to associate with the feelings of religion, and with those sentiments which hon. Members on both sides of the House equally honour and appreciate—sentiments of goodwill towards our neighbours with regard to those religious opinions which they may respect and revere. I have announced that so far as I am concerned—and I am speaking for myself only, but strongly for myself—the House will have on Friday the opportunity of deciding on the Resolutions and the possible Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. My opinions on the Resolutions have been expressed already, and it is not necessary for me to repeat them; but to those Resolutions I repeat I shall give an uncompromising opposition. If they are unsuccessful, so far as I am concerned—believing that it is for the advantage of the Church, and certainly for the welfare of the country, that we should, if possible, apply a remedy without loss of time to an evil now universally acknowledged by all parties and all schools of religious thought in this House—I shall hope that, by the assistance of the House, the learned Recorder may have the opportunity of carrying the Bill he has introduced.
§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN
, who spoke amid considerable interruption, said, he 83 had never inopportunely trespassed on the time of the House, and he rose now solely under a deep sense of duty. He desired to make an earnest appeal to his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich not to proceed with the Resolutions of which he had given Notice. It had never happened to him (Mr. Vivian), during the 22 years he had occupied a seat in that House, to see such an unanimous feeling on both sides of the House in favour of any measure. His right hon. Friend had announced that he would oppose the Bill at every stage. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I never said a word like that.] If he had not said that, his right hon. Friend must feel that the course he had sketched out in submitting these Resolutions would have the effect of throwing over the Bill for that year by the lapse of time. If the right hon. Gentleman took that course, he would do so against the wishes of a large number of hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House, who for many years had been his persistent and consistent supporters. He (Mr. Vivian) had supported the right hon. Gentleman for 22 years, except on the single occasion when, in company with a few other Liberal Members, he supported the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire in carrying the great measure of Reform which he introduced. With that single exception he had always followed his right hon. Friend into the Lobby. There could be no doubt as to the feeling of hon. Members on that side of the House in regard to the Bill. Supposing it had been introduced earlier, it might have been a proper course to propose a series of Resolutions; but, at that time, and with the sense of the House of Commons so much in favour of the Bill, he trusted his right hon. Friend would feel that he had discharged his duty in laying his plan before the House. Undoubtedly, that plan would not receive a large amount of support; he believed there were not 20 Gentlemen on that side of the House who would go into the Lobby with his right hon. Friend. [Laughter.] He considered this that was no laughing matter. He earnestly desired that the Bill should pass, and that it should pass this year. He saw grievous ills and great religious excitement ahead if the matter were not now settled, and therefore he earnestly hoped it might be settled now. The measure was a moderate 84 one, and he did not admit that it was launched against anyone, except against the wrong-doer. Its object and scope were to cause the law to be obeyed. Therefore, he ventured, he hoped not presumptuously, to appeal in the most earnest manner to his right hon. Friend not to interpose between a large number of his Friends who desired that the Bill should pass this year. He earnestly hoped his right hon. Friend would not pursue the course he had announced, and he entreated him to withdraw the Resolutions and to allow the Bill to pass; and, if it needed amendment at a future time, there was no man in the country who was so capable of amending it as he was. If legislation went on in the direction desired by those who wished to check the sapping of our Protestant faith, it would receive support not from that side of the House alone, but also from hon. Members on the opposite side.
MR. HUBBARD (Buckinghamshire)
said, as a Churchman and a Conservative, he wished to vote for the spirit of the Bill, but he wished to put a most solemn question to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of the City of London, whether as a Churchman and a Conservative he was not equally bound by part of an Act of Parliament, and the Prayer Book of the Church of England, while voting for the Bill as regarded infractions of the law which were certain, to assert that the House awaited the review of Convocation of those rubrics where the law was uncertain? The Prayer Book was itself the revision of an old Prayer Book submitted to Convocation, reviewed and altered by Convocation, and finally ratified by Parliament. He did hope that some such assertion of the Parliamentary law as regarded the rubrics would prevent the pain of a division on a Bill, the principles of which were approved by all loyal members of the Reformed Church of England.
§ MR. RUSSELL GURNEY
said, that the patience with which the House listened to him some nights ago indisposed him to trespass on its attention now. At the same time, it would scarcely be respectful to the House or to hon. Members who had spoken, if, having introduced the Bill, he were to disregard some things which had been said. Much that he would otherwise have wished to 85 say had boon said by hon. Members who had taken part in the debate, but there were some points he should wish to notice. First, he would respond to the appeal just made by his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Egerton Hubbard). His hon. Friend wished to know, whether, as a Churchman and a believer in the Prayer Book, he could support the Bill without some declaration as to the necessity of consulting Convocation previously to passing it? That was a matter on which he could not afford any relief to the conscience of his hon. Friend. He felt most strongly that they must proceed in independence of the action of Convocation. He could not consent to wait until to-morrow for the verdict of Convocation, if he should thereby recognize the principle that they were debarred from acting without the approval of Convocation. They had had an opportunity of taking action on these rubrics long ago. In 1872 these matters were referred to them; Letters of Business had been issued; a committee had been appointed; but still nothing had been done; and what had been left unaltered were precisely those very rubrics upon which we were now told we wanted their advice and assistance. He could not, therefore, recognize the doctrine that Parliament ought to wait for any future action on the part of Convocation. He was very sorry to lose the vote and support of his hon. Friend, because he knew the value of them, but he could not take them at such a price. Some objection had been taken to the statement that the Bill came before them sanctioned by the authority of the Episcopal Bench. The expression he used was, that almost universally they supported it. He was told there were some Bishops who had been discovered to object to it. If any of the Bishops were opposed to it, their number must be very few, and he must say that the opinions of the Bishops should be judged from what they said and from how they acted in the House of Lords, and not what they were stated to have said elsewhere. Why, in the very last Division in the House of Lords on that part of the Bill which had been most discussed, 15 Bishops and the Archbishops voted on one side, and two Bishops on the other. And even that was only an exceptional case; but he believed that in one solitary instance 86 that was the case. He thought, therefore, that he was fully justified in the statement he had made to the effect that the Bill had come down to that House with very great authority. He need not deal with the point referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich as to the necessity of a Bill of that kind being supported both by the Government and by Convocation, because it had been already shown that on that point he could quote an opinion of the right hon. Gentleman against his present argument. But there were one or two points in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which he must refer. The right hon. Gentleman had charged him with inconsistency, because while he had stated that he would be glad to widen rather than to contract the boundary lines of the Established Church, he had stated that the Bill would deal alike with acts of omission and of commission. He adhered to both of those statements. He would gladly widen those limits, but he would do it by a frank alteration of the law, and not in the mode proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, who, if he could have his way, would build up a congeries of Congregational churches upon the ruins of the Established Church. And though the Bill dealt alike with omissions and commissions, the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to state that it provided against abuse by the provision that it should be applied only to those cases where, in the discretion of one whose discretion they had the utmost right to believe in, it should be necessary to exert its powers. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had presented a false issue to the House. In his (Mr. Russell Gurney's) simplicity, he had imagined that, in pointing out the evils of the present Act, and the mode in which this Bill would remedy those evils, he was presenting the real issue to the House while asking it to support the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman occupied a considerable time in talking of a Bill which had been sketched, but he said comparatively little on the only Bill that was before the House. There was another point in the measure to which he (Mr. Russell Gurney) thought great force should be attached, and that was a point also which the right hon. Gentleman had overlooked in the course of his speech, and had even appeared to avoid. The right hon. 87 Gentleman talked about the future sufferings of Low Churchmen, and Broad Churchmen, and High Churchmen, but never once did he say a word about the way of remedying the evils of the present law. It was the fact that not a single new offence was created by this Bill, whilst it would undoubtedly save both parties in any lawsuit from enormous expense and from enormous delay. The right hon. Member for Greenwich had apparently been in great fear of the indiscretion of the Bishops, and it would appear that he had measured the discretion of the Bishops by the want of discretion in the Members of his own Cabinet. Well, the right hon. Gentleman might be regarded as an authority on that subject, for he had made many Episcopal appointments. Was it reserved until the passing of this Bill for the Bishops to become suddenly indiscreet? They had been invested with the powers of which the right hon. Gentleman was afraid for the last 40 years. The matter upon which they were now called to decide was the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Hall), who complained of the uncertainty of the law. There were many points upon which the law was perfectly certain, and he wished to be allowed to remind the House that the fear with which the measure was regarded in certain quarters outside the House was not dictated by any annoyance as to the uncertainty of the law, but by a knowledge of its certainty. The most important point of the Bill, and one which he particularly wished to come into operation, was that which provided—and it was introduced at the recommendation of the Houses of Convocation—that when an offending clergyman had been allowed a certain length of time for repentance, he should, if necessary, be not merely inhibited, but that he should be deprived of his living. One clergyman—whose case would shortly be before the Court, and on which he (Mr. Russell Gurney) would express no opinion—had published a letter in all the newspapers, in which he told them he protested against the constitution of the Court of Appeal, as being contrary to the law of the Church. He was not surprised that a clergyman should have that sort of misgiving about the constitution of the Court of Appeal, for he was sanctioned by a high authority. He had received, 88 in the course of that discussion, documents which were sent to him by people who desired to extend his information upon the subject under debate, and among various other extracts were some from a particular pamphlet, which, he thought, could hardly be correctly quoted, and which argued that the Ecclesiastical Courts then established were not entitled to obedience. He obtained a copy of that pamphlet, and to his surprise he discovered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was the writer quoted as an authority for the statement that these Courts should not be recognized. He found that when the right hon. Gentleman was a Minister of the Crown, in January, 1865, he had authorized the republication of a pamphlet, in which he proposed this question—Is the present composition of the Appellate Tribunal conformable either to reason or to the statutes of the Reformation and the spirit of the Constitution as expressed in them?And at the close of an argument he answered the question—And thus I arrive at the answer to my second question, proposed at the outset, namely, this—that the present composition of the Appellate Tribunal, with regard to causes of doctrine, is unreasonable, unconstitutional, and contrary to the spirit of the Reformation statutes.The right hon Gentleman also said—Now, I say that the intention of the Reformation, taken generally, was to place our religions liberties on a footing analogous to that on which our civil liberties had long stood. A supremacy of power in making and administering Church Law as well as State Law was to vest in the Sovereign; but in making Church Law he was to ratify the acts of the Church herself represented in Convocation, and, if there were need of the highest civil sanctions, should have the aid of Parliament also, and in administering Church Law he was to discharge this function through the medium of Bishops and Divines, Canonists and Civilians, as her own most fully authorized, best instructed sons. But of Courts of Appeal not composed of such persons, appointed by Parliamentary majorities and assented to by the Sovereign, on the advice of Ministers whom those majorities had constrained him to accept, the Church knows nothing, and this, whether such Courts be nominally composed of her members or not, except that if they chance not to be so composed, the evils of such system, in either case intolerable, are only rendered, not perhaps more real, but only the more glaring.["Divide!"] He assured the House that he should detain it for but a few moments. He wished once more to urge the necessity for immediate action. The evils of which complaint was made were growing daily. What bound the people 89 of this country together was a fixed determination that the law should be obeyed. In another country, when the law was hateful, the appeal was at once to the barricades. In this country the appeal was happily to that Legislature. Feeling as he did the immense importance of putting a check at once on openly avowed disobedience to the law, he trusted that the House would, at any sacrifice of convenience, pass the Bill this Session. He himself would probably be the greatest sufferer by such a course, but in asking the House to pursue it, he was considering the interests of peace in their Church, and of order and good government.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed, to.
Bill read a second time, and committed, for Friday, at Two of the clock.
House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock.