HC Deb 05 July 1878 vol 241 cc901-39

, in rising to move the following Resolutions:—

  1. "1. That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire as to the teaching and practice by Clergy of the Church of England of Doctrines and Ceremonies not authorised by Law, or contrary to the Laws and usages of the Church as by Law established.
  2. "2. That Her Majesty would be pleased to direct that such Commission to inquire, in particular, as to the extent to which Doctrines or Ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church are taught or practised by Clergy of the Church of England which are unauthorised by, or contrary to, the standards and usages of the Church, as declared by Acts of Parliament, the Book of Common Prayer, the Rubric, the Articles of Religion, or other legal or ecclesiastical authority, or which may be inconsistent with the teaching or usage of the Church since the Act of Uniformity in 1662.
  3. "3. That Her Majesty would be pleased to direct that inquiry be made into the formation of fraternities, sisterhoods, guilds, or other religious institutions of a monastic or conventual character, where of Bishops or Clergy of the Church are members or patrons, or associates or spiritual advisers; and as to the nature of the vows assumed by the members of such associations, and of the doctrines, devotions, and ceremonies taught or practised in connection with them,
  4. 902
  5. "4. That Her Majesty would be pleased to direct that such Commission do inquire as to the existence among the Clergy of the Church of any persons or party teaching and avowing in the pulpits of the Church, or through the press, that the reformation of religion was an evil, and that their aim and intention is to restore the relations to the Church of Rome which existed prior to the establishment of the Reformed Church of England.
  6. "5. That Her Majesty would be graciously pleased, in the constitution of the said Commission, to have regard, according to the ancient precedents of similar Commissions, to an adequate representation of the laity as well as of the highest authorities of the Church in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters,"
said*: Sir, the various Services of the State are established, organized, and conducted upon a fixed principle. That principle is one of absolute subservience to order, and of strict obedience and subordination on the part of inferiors to superiors. In the Army, the Navy, the Diplomatic, Colonial, and Civil Services, this is the universal rule; and, indeed, this is an essential condition of every institution which is established in connection with a free State. I say in connection with a free State, because it is quite conceivable that, under an autocratic Government, the autocrat might establish an institution, to which he would grant the power of conducting its affairs without any interference on the part of the legislative or administrative authority. But I say that, in regard to a free State, it is impossible to conceive of any institution, called a State institution, which would not be subject to the principle I have laid down. In such a Government, the same rule must affect the Prince, the Peer, and the policeman. An Imperium in Imperio is an idea, at all events in this country, since the establishment of free government, which was left behind in the Middle Ages. I begin in this way for the purpose of saying that the Church of England is not exempt from this rule. If so, it were an impossible contract which bound that Church to a free State. It does not need much thought to establish the proposition that an Army maintained by Government could not remain entirely independent of the orders of the Government, or that its officers could not be allowed among themselves to make any regulations and create any discipline which they might deem to be necessary for their comfort, and not simply for carrying out more effectually the objects aimed at by the State in its formation. Nor can we conceive that in the Civil Service a number of Civil servants could be allowed to make their own regulations, to establish their own discipline, and to determine by what rules they would be governed. Now, I would ask the House whether there is anything in the constitution of the State Church which frees it from the necessary conditions of a State service? I am about to-night to pray for a Commission to inquire into the manner in which those whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) calls "State servants" discharge their duties. Is it, or is it not, in conformity with the regulations and prescriptions of the State? or is there a defiance, a continual disregard, of those regulations and prescriptions? Are doctrines taught, are practices prevailing, are secret associations in operation at this moment, which are irreconcilable with the principles of the Protestant Reformation, upon which the Church was established? With regard to the Resolutions which I propose to lay before the House—and technically the first one only is before the House—I apprehend that no one here would be disposed to object to the first branch of the inquiry, which relates simply to the extent to which illegal practices are being carried on in the Church of England. The Church of England is a creature of State establishment, regulation, and control. The compact between the State and the Church is not a compact of co-equal powers. The State may examine whether the Clergy are carrying out the objects for which the Church was established. The State may order the Church to adopt new regulations, and to teach entirely new doctrines. The State may revise the Church's constitution, its canons, its rules, its articles of faith, its rubrics. The State may dismiss all its clerical servants and substitute others totally new, and teaching ideas wholly the reverse of those held by the present tenants. The State has, in effect, exerted her authority in all these respects at various periods of its history. Some hon. Member may say that the result of such large alterations as these would be to create a new Church in relation to the State. That is true in a spiritual sense—that is to say, from the point of view of the existing Church—but it is not correct from a legal and constitutional point of view. Undoubtedly, the State Church, as proved by its history and multitude of Acts of Parliament which still remain on our Statute Books, is liable to constant alteration and revision. It is liable to be brought, from time to time, more strictly into conformity with the views of the majority of the people of this country. I shall await with curiosity, but without misgiving, any arguments which may be advanced by any hon. Member of this House to disprove that theory of the Church's status in England. Whoever proposes to do that will have to dispose of a long series of enactments, from the Act of Submission of the Clergy, 25 Henry VIII., down to the Public Worship Regulation Act, which was passed only a few Sessions since by this very Parliament. When the State established the Church it defined its dogmas, ceremonies, and authority. It did something more than that—it excluded other doctrines, dogmas, and ceremonies of a peculiar character, well known, well defined, and protested against by a vast majority of the people of England. On what possible grounds, then, in a Church so set up—in a Church, the doctrines and dogmas of which are so carefully defined, both in inclusion as well as exclusion—could its Clergy assume that they are entitled at any future period of its history to alter its doctrines, change its ceremonies, and to bring it back again to the adoption and practice of those things which were definitely excluded? I am sure I need not further argue this point in this very House which has passed the Public Worship Regulation Act. Taken for granted, then, what I have attempted in a few words to describe, the only question that now arises for the consideration of the House is, whether it is expedient that the inquiry which I ask for should be pursued? I am sure hon. Members, to whatever Church they may belong, will forgive me for saying that this House has a peculiar traditionary interest in the question which is raised to-night. The House of Commons bore no small, no unimportant, part in the Reformation. It was chiefly owing to its vigour and zeal that the full benefits of the political, and spiritual, and intellectual emancipation, called "the Reformation," was secured to this Kingdom; and the people will ever look to this House as the truest, surest, and most powerful guardian of the Protestant liberties of this great Empire. If, then, I prove—as I shall be able to prove presently—that there exists in this Church a party, organized, indefatigable, increasing in numbers and in influence, and consisting, in a great degree, of the Clergy whom, as I said just now, the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Bradford called the "servants of the State," opposed to the ideas of the Reformation, surely it is time for this House to wake up, and to ask whether this defiance of law, this conspiracy against modern ideas, this attempt to restore to the 19th century the evils, the doctrines, the practices, and the ceremonies of the Middle Ages, shall be allowed to go on under the cover of State authority, and within the State service? I could have wished that this subject had fallen into other hands. I know there are hon. Members opposite who would rather it had been taken up by some consistent Churchman and defender of the Constitution. But, although it may be true that I am not a member of the Church of England, I am, at least, an inheritor of the blessings and privileges of the Reformation. Moreover, I am a Member of this House, to which has, I consider, been confided the duty of watching over those great principles which were established by the combined efforts of the Crown and Parliament in the time of Henry VIII., of Edward VI., and of Elizabeth, and of not suffering them to be subverted by treachery, or by a conspiracy, which seeks to bring back doctrines and practices so long ago repudiated. I have already said that the Church is a State institution, authorized and established by Act of Parliament. By Act of Parliament the Queen is its Head. By Act of Parliament its liturgy, its rubric, its creeds, its articles, its services, its ordination, of Bishops, priests, and deacons, were instituted and re-organized. By Act of Parliament, and the subsequent mind and practice of the Church, it was established as a Protestant Church. In proof of this last position, I need only point to the attitude of Rome towards the Church of England on the one hand, and the attitude of the Church of England towards Rome on the other. But there is another point in connection with the establishment of this Church which I think every Member who has studied history will be prepared to admit. It is this. It was not only a national deliverance from external restraint in matters of religion, it had also an important internal aspect, as much of the legislation of Henry VIII. will show. It was the freeing of the nation from the chain, the fetters, and the rivets of sacerdotalism. All those ingenious theories, by which the priest is elevated to the dignity of the mediator, or the director and controller of men, were set aside by the Reformation. My hon. Friends who are members of the Roman Catholic Church will understand that, in speaking in this way, I am not actuated by any desire to attack any peculiar doctrines of their Church. They must understand that I am in an extremely delicate position. I have to prove that these doctrines were repudiated at the Reformation by the people of England, and that it is not legal to teach them at the present time in the Church of England. Therefore, they will understand that I do not for one moment wish to say a word of an offensive character; and if it were not that I am obliged to define the doctrines for the purpose of proving my case, I should not venture to touch upon them. Now, I say the formularies and theology of the Church of England prove that she was meant to be established on a foundation which excluded the idea of the authority, the power, and the influence of the priest, as a priest. One has only to refer to the Prayer Book, the Articles of Religion, and the Homilies, to see how consistently throughout the idea of the priest was excluded, and how entirely the priest—or, as he may be more simply named, the presbyter—was regarded as the mere minister of the Church. It is true that this Establishment did not exclude, as has been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), in his essay on Church and State, Catholic consent; but Catholic consent, as everyone will see, is a very different thing from the doctrine of an infallible authority, reposing in a traditional succession, with a sacrificial priesthood and schedule of sacraments, all of which invest that priesthood with supernatural authority and powers. Sir, I find a very admirable statement of the distinctive character of the Anglican and Roman Churches in the book to which I have already referred, and which I now quote, for the purpose of showing what was the view taken by a Member of this House, who belongs, I believe, to a school in the Church which is very much in favour of Catholic authority—I mean, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, whom I am sorry not to see in his place. He says—The State in its Relations with the Church, chap. v. secs. 13, 14, 20. Ed. 1839— Much of what most essentially constitutes our life in the sight of God can never be otherwise than very imperfectly explained through the medium of outward signs, and must, therefore, remain for the most part between Him and ourselves. Yet it is here that the peculiar genius of Romanism is most wonderful and conspicuous. Everywhere it seems to interpose itself between the man and his God, a divinely transparent medium, allowing only a measured and limited quantity of His light to pierce through the curtain which it spreads. … And now let us review those distinctive tenets which it professed, and see whether they do not tend towards this object as their common point of union—namely, the drawing out from the mind of the individual those processes which concern his salvation, and making him extrinsically dependent on something above himself, yet below God, by removing the control of them from his own command. … To this would tend the crowd of mediators manfully interposed between man and the one Mediator … mediators who are men or angels only, and with whom we have no special relations, do but come in as substitutes, falsely proclaimed to do for us what we are bound to do for ourselves. … Towards the same end would operate the doctrine of purgatory. … In the doctrine of relics, again, we trace a similar tendency. … In them the Church of Rome lodges a virtue the practical effect of which is, we do not say to extinguish, but to limit, free mental action in religion. … But the grand exemplification of the influence of Romanism upon individual agency in religion is to be perceived in a combined view of the doctrines of supererogatory works—indulgences—auricular confession—penance—and absolution. … And how do the remaining doctrines (i.e., auricular confession, penance, and absolution), as they are blended in the Church of Rome, bear upon that primary and most essential of all, that continual pardon which the soul requires, in order to render any acceptable sacrifices? … Here," he says, "the Romanists have infused a poison. … Men will make confession at distant intervals to a priest, discharge the acts of penance which he enjoins, and receive his absolution, and a sacramental character is given to these acts—acts none of them blameworthy, but the reverse; acts, however, taken out of their place by the Roman doctrine. As I said just now, I read that which may give pain to some hon. Members of this House, simply for the purpose of showing what was the view at that time of the right hon. Gentleman—whose study of these subjects is known to have been somewhat profound—with regard to the distinctive peculiarities between the Anglican and Roman Churches. Well now, Sir, all that is implied in what I have just read, and a good deal more, I state here in my place to-night it is now sought to bring back in our Parliamentary Church, under our authority by our servants, and with our funds; and to do it by practice, by defiance of the law, by evasion of the law, and of the canons and the injunctions of the Bishops, by means of the Confessional, by secret societies, and by unauthorized publications. I do not intend to review the mere details of the differences between Ritualists and what is known as the Evangelical school in the Church of England—quarrels about albs, tunicles, chasubles, patens, incense pots, and the like. These are not the questions with which I would propose to occupy the time of the House, nor do I think them sufficiently important in themselves to demand a Commission of Inquiry. A Commission, whose Report I read with pain, has investigated all these details. It appears that weak-minded persons went before that Commission, and endeavoured to prove that these things had in them some deep spiritual meaning; but they are only important to this House as mere examples of the lawlessness of the clergy who are endeavouring, in the teeth of the law, and in the face of the judgments of the Courts, to introduce these "ornaments" into the Church of England. What I desire to do is, to take a far broader and more serious view of what I cannot help feeling is a very grave question; and that is, the existence within the Church of a grave and serious conspiracy, carefully organized and carried out by secret compacts, guilds, associations, and sisterhoods, against the spirit doctrine, and constitution of the Church of England as by the law of this land it stands—a Protestant Church. The central idea round which all revolves is the doctrine of the Real Presence, the body and blood offered up daily by a sacrificing priest upon an altar in the church; the discretion of the priest to give or withhold this sacrament; the discretion of this priest to absolve from sin as God's agent; the resulting influence and omnipotence of the Confessional; and the interposition between the individual soul and the Deity of a mass of ceremonies and beliefs all contributing to diminish and crush man's responsibility, and to make the Church and priesthood the only machinery of grace. It is against the effort to bring back all this into the Church of England that I am to-night protesting. we are not protesting against what is called mere Ritualism, or against the aim of those who desire, like the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope), a decent and even beautiful form of worship in the Church; but we are here to protest against the growth of Sacerdotalism. Now, Sir, these being the premisses, I come to the evidence of the existence of this "conspiracy," as it has been called by the Bishops. First of all, I may refer to the testimony of the Bishops themselves; and, surely, of all men they, who are brought most intimately into contact with the Clergy, must be taken to speak, not only with the highest responsibility, but with the best knowledge. I shall read some of their declarations. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in reply to a Memorial from 60,000 lay members of the Church of England, said— There can be no doubt that the danger you apprehend of a considerable minority both of clergy and laity amongst us desiring to subvert the principles of the Reformation, is real. Bishop Ellicott, in an address to the clergy and laity of his diocese, said— It is now really the duty of every sober member of the Church of England to recognize the fact that there does exist nominally within our Church a small, but united, body of men, who are consciously engaged in what the Archbishop of our Province correctly describes as a conspiracy against the teaching and principles of the Reformation, and who retain their place and office in our Church for the express and scarcely concealed purpose of what is called Catholicising the Church of England, and of assimilating its principles and practices to those of the Church of Rome—Papal supremacy and infallibility, perhaps, alone excepted, Bishop Fraser condemns— The development of mediæval ideas—this materialistic conception of the presence of Christ in His sacraments, and the interposition of the mediation of the creature at every turn; and very distinctly points out whither these things are leading. There are other passages which I might read, and which, I have no doubt, are familiar to Members of this House; but I do not think it necessary to trouble them further with evidence from this source. It is, at all events, conclusive about the mind of the Bishops. I now come to the evidence derivable from those who themselves are engaged in this work, and I shall give only one or two specimens from their writings to establish my case. In the first place, I take a work, edited by Dr. F. G. Lee—The Re-Union of Christendom. Here, Dr. Lee says— The marvel is that Roman Catholics do not see the wisdom of aiding us to the uttermost. I am bound to say that this afternoon I met a Roman Catholic Member in the Lobby, and, asking him to come in and help to make a House, he replied that, as a Roman Catholic, he did not see why he should take part with me, because he thought the Church of England was doing the work of his communion very successfully. Now, this is the work of this body, as stated by Dr. Lee— Admitting that we are but a lay body, with no pretensions to the name of a Church, we yet, in our belief—however mistaken—that we are one, are doing for England that which they [Roman Catholics] cannot do. We are teaching men that God is to be worshipped under the form of Bread, and they are learning the lesson from us which they have refused to learn from the Roman teachers who have been among us for the last 300 years. We are teaching men to endure willingly the form of Confession, which is an intense trial to the reserved Anglo-Saxon nature, and to believe that a man's 'I absolve thee,' is the voice of God. On any hypothesis we are doing their work."—[p. 180.] In The Church Times—March 24th, 1872—the following passage occurs:— We are contending, as our adversaries know full well, for the extirpation of Protestant opinions and practices, not merely with the Church itself, but throughout all England. What we want is, not to force a Close or a M'Neile into a Popish vestment, but to make Closes and M'Neiles as extinct as the Dodo. We do not care one solitary straw whether a man preaches in surplice, gown, or shirt-sleeves, so long as he does not preach any sort of Protestantism. Then, again, The Union Review speaks in the following terms—July, 1867:— In some of our most popular hymn-books the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is most distinctly implied. We give our people the real doctrine of the Mass; the name will come of itself by-and-by. So with regard to the worship of the Blessed Virgin; we shall only be able to establish this by slow and cautious steps. It is reasonable to hope that 20 years hence Catholicism will have so leavened our Church, that she herself, in her corporate capacity, will be able to say to Rome—'Let the hands which political force, not spiritual choice, have parted these 300 years, be once more joined.' We are one with Rome in faith, and we have a common foe to fight. … The work now going on in England is an earnest and carefully organized attempt, on the part of a rapidly increasing body of priests and laymen, to bring our Church and country up to the full standard of the Catholic faith and practice, and eventually to plead for her union with Rome."—[pp. 402–412.] Then we have the following statement made by the Rev. Dr. Littledale, at Liverpool, on April 23rd, 1868:— Such a set of miscreants as the leading English and Scottish Reformers. … Robespierre, Danton, and Marat, merit quite as much admiration and respect as Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. We find the Rev. Mr. Wilmshurst, Vicar of Woodville, Burton-on-Trent, speaking in a similar strain. He says— As for Protestantism, I do not know what it is. It appears to me to be a cesspool, into which all opinions contrary to the Catholic faith drain. I would rather avoid it. … God defend us from Protestantism, for it is anything or nothing mixed up together. Sir, I think these extracts sufficiently indicate the character and intention of this movement. I could occupy hours in reading extracts sent me from all parts of the country; but I think I have adequately shown the aim of this party which is now endeavouring to carry out, by means of secret societies and other organizations, and by means of the Confessional, this system of un-Protestantizing, and, as I may call it, of Romanizing the Church of England, Sir, I think it will be admitted that the effort made by the House a short time ago to grapple with the difficulty has proved extraordinarily unsuccessful. No one can doubt this who has followed with attention the suits that have been reported in the newspapers, arising out of the matters to which I am now inviting attention. I hold in my hand a Return of the various suits instituted under the Public Worship Regulation Act. They give the following results:— I. London, St. Vedas, Foster Lane.—Complaint by three churchwardens of 11 illegal practices, including vestments, use of wafer, mixing water with wine, elevation of paten and cup, &c. After two hearings, the proceedings were set aside by the Queen's Bench, on June 29th, 1877, on a point of form. Mr. Dale is going on as before. II. Rochester, St. James, Hatcham.—Representation by three parishioners of 17 illegal practices, including the above, and also processions, incense, kneeling, and prostration, Agnus Dei, sacring bells, crucifix, &c. After two hearings and decisions against Mr. Tooth, the proceedings were finally annulled in November, 1877, because the Judge heard the case at Lambeth instead of London or Westminster. In this case, the Act permits cases to be heard anywhere in the 'Province;' but in the rules and orders signed by the Archbishops, and the Lord Chancellor and other legal dignitaries, the word 'Province' was omitted. Things much as usual. III. Salisbury, Donhead, St. Andrew's.—Complaints of illegal practices, seven in all. The Bishop refused to allow proceedings, chiefly because he thought it more desirable to settle the matter by peaceful and fatherly methods, Things much as before. IV. Lichfield, St. Matthew, Smethwick.—Complaints by churchwarden and parishioners of illegalities; but in consequence of an omission of the Bishop to comply with the Act, the case had to be abandoned in January, 1878, on points of a formal kind. So things went on as before. V. St. Matthew, Smethwick.—A second representation was made on April 8th, 1878, by Mr. Fowler. In consequence of the Bishop of Lichfield's illness, the case was sent on to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bishop died on the 11th of April, and the Archbishop, after keeping the papers several days, returned them, saying, as the See was vacant, he could do nothing. All the illegal practices are now going on. VI. Gloucester and Bristol, All Saint's, Clifton.—Complaints by several inhabitants of illegal practices, without results. The illegalities are going on. VII. Lichfield, St. Andrew's, Wolverhampton.—Proceedings taken under the Act; but after six months they were quashed on a point of form. The illegalities are still going on. VIII. With reference to the same, complaint was made by a church warden of twelve breaches of law. On the 19th of November, 1877, the Archbishop declined to allow proceedings, on the ground that he had been privately assured by Mr. Boddington, against whom the proceedings were taken, that he was ready loyally to submit himself to the Bishop of Lichfield. Illegalities are still going on. The Bishop being patron, the Archbishop had to act for him. IX. In the same case, on the 22nd of January, 1878, a fresh representative was sent to the Archbishop complaining of continued illegalities; and in a short time the Archbishop vetoed the case, on the ground that the presentment had not been made to the Bishop. On the 1st of March, Mr. Butcher tried again, and sent the presentment to the Bishop; but when the registrar was pressed for a decision, he said the Bishop was too ill to attend to business. On the 11th of April, the Bishop died. Illegalities are still going on. X. Christ Church, Wolverhampton.—This was a case similar to the preceding—that is, the Archbishop vetoed the proceedings on the ground that the incumbent promised to be loyal, and it all came to nothing, as illegalities are still going on. XI. Oxford, St. Andrew's, Clewer.—In this case, the parishioners had complained without effect; and in August, 1877, three of them submitted a representation complaining of eight illegal practices. The Bishop of Oxford refused to allow proceedings, because a guarantee for the expenses of the suit had been given by persons who were not parishioners. Illegalities still going on. And with, respect to this last case, there is the convent at Clewer, with which Canon Carter is connected; and it is stated in some papers that I have here, that the Bishop is a visitor of that establishment. It is scarcely convenient that, when complaints of such a grave character are made to Bishops, they should show no anxiety to have them investigated. Now, Sir, these are the cases which have arisen under the Public Worship Regulation Act, and we have seen with what efficacy that legislation has been invoked. I shall now call the attention of the House to something more immediately concerning ourselves, as the chief legislative authority, and that is the persistent, avowed, defiant, and intentional lawlessness of a numerous body of Clergy in the Church of England. Now, Sir, this is a very serious charge to bring, and one which, when proved, this House cannot afford to allow to pass by without taking notice of it. It is to this my first Resolution is directed. Let me, in the first place, quote in confirmation of this assertion the statement of the Rev. Orbey Shipley, one of the most active, and I might also say one of the most blatant, of the gentlemen who are engaged in this crusade. This gentleman says— I appeal to members of the Society of the Holy Cross to declare whether or not this Catholic Revival has not as a whole prospered. … not by reason of Episcopal support, but in direct opposition to almost every single Bishop who has unfortunately come across its divine course. It is unnecessary for me to point out what the significance of that is; but, in passing, I may say that it is evidence that the Bishops, upon the whole, have been opposed to the work in which he and those who think with him are engaged. This gentleman, when he took upon himself the office of a priest in the Church of England, made a promise of a most sacred and solemn character, accepting the obligation of canonical obedience to those placed over him; and yet observe how he speaks of these very authorities. At his ordination he was asked—"Will you reverently obey your ordinary?" And he answered in the prescribed form—"I will so do by the help of the Lord." In the "Four Cardinal Virtues," Mr. Shipley says— In a case in which the Church has spoken …. whether the matter be decided definitely by creed or Council, or acted on practically by the equally clear authority of Catholic and universal consent, we are bound, be the consequences what they may, to hold or to deny whatever the Church has declared or has disavowed. Now this gentleman, when he was ordained, was asked these questions, and gave these replies— Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation?—A. I am so persuaded, and have so determined of God's grace. Q. Will you then give your faithful diligence always, so to minister the Doctrine, and Sacraments, and Discipline of the Church as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church and Realm hath received the same according to the commandment of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your cure, and charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?—A. I will so do by the help of the Lord. Such are this gentleman's obligations to the authority set over him, and yet you now find him coming forward with the repudiation of the very authority to which he undertook to submit himself. Here is a specimen, which I take on the authority of a well-known clergyman—the Rev. Bourchier W. Saville, Rector of Shillingford, Exeter—of the manner in which these gentlemen, who are concerned in the work against which the Resolution is directed, regard their duty of obedience— We will not obey, and will suffer anything rather than obey, the law as pronounced by Cæsar; because our present Sovereign has proved Herself as great a persecutor as the heathen Emperors Nero, Domitian, and Diocletian; we have to deal with this painful fact—that the supreme Governor of the Church of England is becoming an alien from its faith and discipline. And again— The Bishops have so manifestly proved themselves to be the worst enemies of the Church of England, that we say, in the words of one of our most zealous leaders—'If I could but live to see the traitorous Bishops turned out of their Sees, I would gladly take off my surplice and stole, and say, Nunc Dimittis.' Such are the opinions of men like Mr. Mackonochie, as set forth in an address to his congregation of St. Albans; of the Rev. T. W. Mossman, in The Church News of April, 1868; and of Dr. Lee, in Church of England Pulpit of March 18th, 1876. I might readily multiply my proofs. The Rev. E. L. Blenkinsopp, in The Church and the World, p. 205—this gentleman being in favour of Confession, and a member of the Church Union, and other fraternities—says— It is only the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, no great authority in the eye of an English ecclesiastic! Again, Mr. Tooth refused to plead before the Court, and declined to accept its decisions— Because the present case is a Church question, and can, from its nature, only be tried by spiritual authority. And we have more in the same strain— The Public Worship Regulation Act has no claim to obedience, because the priesthood has never given its consent to it."—(Letter to The Times, December 22, 1876.) And, further, his churchwardens declare— We, for principle, are determined to suffer loss of property, and of liberty, if need be, for the maintenance of the Church of England to govern herself in spiritual matters, without interference from secular authority."—(Letter of the Churchwardens of St. James, Hatcham, to The Times, January 18, 1877.) On October 28th, 1876, an Archdeacon of the Church—Archdeacon Denison—speaking at Bristol, called the Public Worship Act "the foulest and dirtiest thing that ever came out of the Houses of Parliament." A great meeting of the English Church Union was held on January 16th, 1877, at which dignitaries of the Church were present. Archdeacon Denison, Canon Carter, the Hon. and Rev. R. Liddell, and the Rev. Dr. Littledale were among those who were at the meeting. It appears that the Church Union consists of 14,200 members, of whom 2,500 are Clergy, the others being lay communicants; and that this organization represents a still more numerous body, and holds opinions which are spreading among both Clergy and laity. They met in Freemasons' Hall, after Mr. Tooth was committed to prison; and what is the nature of the resolutions proposed by these servants of the State? Canon Carter proposed this resolution— That the English Church Union, while it distinctly and expressly acknowledges the authority of all Courts legally constituted in regard to all matters temporal, denies that the secular power has any authority in matters purely spiritual. Archdeacon Denison said at this meeting— Unless we are come here to 'fight the Privy Council to the death,' to use Mr. Keble's words, we had better not to have come here at all… I believe I know what the answer of the priests will be; it will be this—that they will not accept the authority of a Court constituted by Act of Parliament only. A resolution in these terms was also adopted at the meeting— Any Court which is bound to frame its decisions in accordance with the judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council does not possess any spiritual authority with respect to such decisions. That suspension a sacris being a purely spiritual act, the English Church Union is prepared to support any priest not guilty of a moral or canonical offence, who refuses to recognize a suspension issued by such a Court. The casuistry of these persons is rather curious. "Priests not guilty of a moral or canonical offence!" as if men who deliberately disobeyed the solemn vows they undertook when they entered the ministry of the Church of England were not guilty of one of the highest and worst moral offences one can conceive of! Here is the last passage under this head to which I shall invite the attention of the House, as evidence of the spirit of this party. It is from The Church Times of January 2, 1874— The Queen's ostentatious Nonconformity, and Her scarcely less ostentatious slights of the Church of England, have deprived Her example of any religious weight with Churchmen. Now, Sir, what I have adduced will, I think, be sufficient—and, if necessary, I could bring instance after instance—to show to the House that there is a party in the Church of England which is deliberately guilty of breaches of the law, and which is determined to push matters to the utmost extremity. It would, Sir, be impossible for me to review at any length all those deviations from Protestant spirit and doctine of which this party is guilty, or to occupy the attention of the House to the extent which would be necessary in order to show the differences that exist between the views of what I may call this revived school of Romanizers in the Church of England and the doctrines of that Church, as laid down by her authorities, and which I would denominate Protestant doctrines. But it will be necessary that I should read to the House one or two passages, that they may know the character of what is going on. Mr. T. W. Freston, writing to The Manchester Courier, gives a description of what he saw on a visit to Mr. Knox-Little's Church (St. Albans) on the first Sunday of the present year. He says— On entering the church I perceived that the chancel was in darkness, but I was directed by the lighted gas to the north aisle, at the east end of which a sort of chapel had been improvised by means of a partition line of iron covered with evergreens. Against the east wall stood a second communion table. …… There were eight lighted candlesticks on this table, three of large dimensions on either side of a brazen cross, and two smaller ones, which only contained lighted candles. At the time appointed, the minister came from the vestry, wearing an alb, with deep, lace-like fringe, a white silk chasuble, with orphreys richly worked in gold, a stole cross upon the breast, the embroidered ends being visible below the chasuble, and a biretta on his head. He was followed by a small boy of about 12 years of age habited in black cassock and cotta. On approaching the table both bowed. …. But I will hasten to describe the consecration of the bread and wine. The minister, standing with his back to the people, murmured the Prayer of Consecration in a voice quite inaudible until he came to the words, 'This is My body,' on uttering which a bell was tolled; so also when he took the cup. He then prostrated himself before the consecrated elements, and raised first the bread and then the wine above his head for a definite moment. My attention was here attracted by one or two women close to me who were fallen upon the floor with their very bonnets on the ground. Nearly all present communicated, and I observed that the minister made the sign of the cross in presenting the bread to each—the same with the cup. In some instances I observed that the partakers put out their tongues to receive the bread from the hands of the minister, and in no case did he place the cup in the hands of any communicant, but put it with his hands to their lips. After all had partaken he proceeded with the service, prostrating himself before the bread and wine on coming to the words, 'We worship Thee.' Hon. Members of this House who are true Roman Catholics must feel that there is a horrible profanity and assumption, on the part of men not connected with their Church, in undertaking to perform this awful and solemn office. At all events, they will agree that these services are of the character which it was the aim of the Reformation to alter and to remove; and whether in themselves they be right or wrong, it is not possible that ministers of the Church of England should be allowed thus to persist in their illegal courses, and carry out their unlawful aims. The Rev. Gerald Cobb, in his Kiss of Peace, and Dr. Littledale, in his tract on The Real Presence, set forth the doctrine that— The Church of England holds precisely the same view of the Lord's Supper as the Church of Rome. And they contend that at the Lord's Supper the consecrated elements became that same body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which were conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and ascended into Heaven. This is the doctrine of The Real Presence. The Rev. J. W. Bennett has written a Plea for Toleration in the Church of England, in the preface of which he says, of— The Eucharistic sacrifice and of adoring God in the offering, the real, actual, and visible presence of our Lord upon the altars of our churches—we adore, and teach the people to adore, the consecrated elements, believing Christ to be in them; and the three great doctrines on which the Catholic Church has to take her stand are these:—1st. The real objective presence of our blessed Lord in the Eucharist. 2nd. The sacrifice offered by the priest. 3rd. The adoration due to the presence of our blessed Lord therein. Now, Sir, I simply quote these for the purpose of showing that the doctrine of the Mass, as believed in the Church of Rome, is held and taught by clergymen in the Protestant Church of England to persons who were brought up in that Church. I need not trouble the House with the declarations made by these clergymen, as made by all who enter the ministry of the Church of England. The doctrine of the Church of England will be found in the 25th and 28th Articles. The reservation of the sacrament is forbidden by the 28th Article, and yet it is notorious that reservation is taught or practised in many of the churches of our land. I do not propose to ask the House to enter any further into this part of the question, and I now come to what I think is its most serious phase. I refer to the great engines of this work, which are two—the Confessional and Secret Societies. I hold in my hand a book lately issued, being dated this year, which is edited by the arch-priest of this so-called movement for the restoration of Catholicism to the Church of England. It is entitled Advice to those who exercise the Ministry of Reconciliation through Confession and Absolution; being the Abbé Gaume's Manual for Confessors, or his extracts from the works of S. Francis de Sales, S. Charles de Borromeo, S. Philip de Neri, S. Francis Xavier, and other spiritual writers; with a Preface, embodying English authorities on Confession, by the Rev. F. B. Pusey, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. This book will give the House some notion of the sort of teaching which priests of the Church of England receive in the guise of Church of England doctrine. I have read the preface with great care, and I find that Dr. Pusey complains very bitterly of the manner in which The Priest in Absolution, brought forward in "another place," and containing passages which he admits were unfortunate, has been used. I cannot but feel that surely Dr. Pusey must know a great deal more of these things than he affects to know. We have the "Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament," the English Church Union, and societies, such as the "Society of the Holy Cross," whose members are in constant communication with each other; and notwithstanding that, when they are brought to book, what do we find? We find them coming forward and prevaricating and denying the existence of things brought home almost to their very doors. The House will recollect a celebrated instance in which an ecclesiastic of the Roman Catholic Church challenged one of these gentlemen with respect to these doctrines in the Church of England; and we can remember what an extraordinary figure was cut by the English ecclesiastic, who had to blush for the manner in which, time after time, matters were brought home to him, to the publication of which he was a party, or which, at all events, he ought to have known. In this book, well worth the attention of the House, Dr. Pusey says— In 'some' manuals of Christian practice and devotion, in which the duty of 'self-examination' is incidentally treated of, people have been taught how to examine themselves, with much, greater nakedness of language than I myself think advisable. I remember how, above thirty years ago, a mother complained of having found such a popular Roman Catholic manual among her daughter's books, which she had procured for herself. That manual is one of large circulation among their poor, and, since questions of self-examination are like a large net, which is meant to inclose all sorts of consciences, good or bad, it contained questions which a good conscience would see at a glance were not intended for it. Such a conscience would pass them by unread, just as it does not notice certain words in Holy Scriptures or the Prayer Book. Certainly Dr. Pusey has a higher idea of human nature than I have, if he thinks good consciences would always be able or willing to pass over these passages only by without danger. In one manual prepared for the use of the laity, but which is also placed in the hands of children, there is a series of questions on the Seventh Commandment, such as no man would care to see in the possession and daily use of his wife or children. Here, again, is a doctrine which the House will be amazed to find coming from the pen of a doctor of the English Church— Obvious as it is, it is necessary to say, that by the fact of receiving a confession no priest acquires any right whatsoever. If any should have received confession of a sin which would make him who confessed it amenable to the criminal law (as murder), it is as if the grave closed over it. He is forbidden, under penalty of sin, to allude to it out of confession, even to him who confessed it. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: Hear, hear!] My hon. and learned Friend says "Hear, hear!" I am delighted to hear that from him. From the members of the Roman Catholic Church that is perfectly right; but the question is, whether a confession of this sort is a thing that should be received by a minister of the Church of England; or whether it would be necessary to take steps to vindicate the law if, upon receiving a confession of murder, a clergyman of the Church of England refused to disclose it upon trial? There are one or two things here which I would rather not read to the House, because they are not necessary for the object I have in view, and because the House will agree that they refer to matters which it is not desirable to bring before the public. But let me point out the manner in which it is suggested that the consciences of unfortunate persons who go to confession should be stimulated. You find this statement— Be charitable and discreet with everyone, but especially with women, in helping them to confess shameful sins. If you find that your penitent has great difficulty in mentioning these, lead him on by degrees to confess lesser faults, such as thoughts of levity, or pleasure in hearing light conversation, going on through evil thoughts and actions, and encouraging him by saying—'You will be very happy when you have made a good confession. God is showing you great grace. His Holy Spirit is moving you to it; be brave; tell all your griefs; you will feel so thankful when all is confessed that you have not left it undone for all the world.' …. Thus you will gently draw forth a full and profitable confession. Dr. Pusey tells us in his preface that he does not pursue anything like so close an examination himself; but if he does not pursue it himself, by putting this book into the hands of his friends, he virtually tells them to do it. Then there are passages with reference to the manner in which women and children should be confessed. With regard to children he says— Ask children—(1) if they have nourished hatred towards their parents, which is a double sin against charity and piety; (2) if they have disobeyed them in serious and just matters, such as going out at night, gambling, frequenting bad society, &c. I say in 'just' matters, because, as regards the choice of a state of life, children are not bound to obey their parents. In truth, parents sin grievously when they force their children to marry, or to take orders, or domestic vows; or when they deter them by unjust means from the state of life they seek to follow. You will observe at once what is the effect of this. Here is a person supposed and affecting to be acting by divine authority, who interposes between parents and their children, and who undertakes to decide for any child what it is just or unjust for the child to do. Surely in our English homes it will not be permitted that such things shall be done! It is not the intention of this House—it is not the intention of the constituencies of this country, that we should have these ghostly fathers interposing between ourselves, our wives, and our children, with the power of judging what is right or wrong for them to do. There is another case which is one of conscience— Ask the penitent whether he has stolen anything, and from whom? Whether from one or several persons? once or several times? For, if each time he has taken what constitutes a serious matter, he has sinned mortally each time. If, on the other hand, he took but little each time, he only committed mortal sin, when his thefts amounted to a serious matter, supposing that such was not his intention from the first. The old distinction between venial and mortal sins! This is the kind of teaching that is now emanating from the Church of England. Yet, again, Dr. Pusey tries to draw a distinction between the mere confessor and the director. He does not put himself forward as a director. He states that he is not disposed to assume the responsibility and burden of acting as what is called a director. It is all very well to say this for his own purpose; but when we come to the Abbé Gaume, who speaks as a proper authority, we find that he says— Theologians give many rules for the treatment of scrupulous persons; but it is certain, that, after prayer, the best and only remedy is obedience to the Confessor. Seek, then, to inculcate two fundamental maxims upon all the scrupulous—1. To go on securely before God in obedience to his spiritual father, where there is no evident sin. It is not man, but God, whom he obeys—qui vos audit me audit. This is the doctrine of all theologians and all the masters of the spiritual life, &c. S. Philip Neri used to say, that 'he who obeyed his Confessor was sure not to be called to account for his actions by God.' Again— Those scrupulous persons who desire to advance in perfection must put themselves wholly and irrevocably into the hands of their superiors. Those who do not live under a Rule must voluntarily submit themselves to a learned and wise Confessor, obeying him as God himself, laying all their concerns freely and simply before him, and never coming to any determination without his advice. Such an one, S. Philip said, need not fear being called to account by God. "Direction" could hardly be more strongly enjoined. I do not wish to trouble the House with many more extracts; but there is one which I should like to read, and which I cannot help feeling is the very strongest reflection upon the whole of this doctrine— A little girl once asked her Confessor's leave to make her general confession, and to use a particular book for the purpose. She had leave. She wrote down all the sins which she found in the book, whatever their enormity, to the infinite horror of the priest. 'But my child,' he asked, 'have you really done all this?' 'God forbid, father,' she answered. 'I wrote them down because they were in the book.' I should be sorry if any child of mine, any hon. Member would be sorry if child of his, were exposed to so terrible a trial as this! The last point which I would ask the House to consider is, whether an inquiry is not necessary in consequence of the existence of many guilds and secret societies in the Church—societies which are bound together by vows of secrecy. A Royal Commission would discover whether there are any grounds for the statements I have made; and whether, in fact, doctrines are taught, and ceremonies are practised in these societies and by clergymen, which are entirely inconsistent with the spirit and principles of the Church of England. I want to find out whether such things exist in the Church of England among the ministers and "servants of the State." The House will, perhaps, remember that in 1832 there was considerable excitement caused in the country, owing to the secret existence of Orange Lodges in the Army. A Member of the House (Mr. Hume) came down and demanded that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the existence of these Lodges in the Army. An inquiry was ordered by the House, and the result was, that the continuance of these secret societies in the Army was proscribed, and that the Duke of Cumberland broke the whole thing up. That is a case distinctly in point. I am not laying the matter before this House as a religious question. I am laying it before the House simply as a constitutional and legal question; and I ask it, whether it will assent to this persistent attempt to carry on illegal practices by means of secret societies in the Church of England? The ministers of that Church are as much the servants of the State as the officers of the Army; and are they to be allowed, as some of them avow that they are doing, to undermine the Protestant principles of the National Establishment? Sir, I have endeavoured to bring before the House the principal facts which tend to show the necessity, at all events, for inquiry. All that I had to do to-night was to make out a primâ facie case; and I think I have shown, first, that a spirit of lawlessness exists in the Church of England; second, that acts of lawlessness have been committed; and, third, that practices inconsistent with the Protestant feeling and principles of the country have been carried out by what I call improper means. These circumstances having now been brought to the notice of the House, it is not for me to say anything more. I have vindicated my right to intervene in these matters, and the House may be satisfied that if Churchmen do not intervene, the Protestant Dissenters of the country will intervene in another and very different way. I am here, first, as a Protestant. I am here because Protestantism is something worth caring for; because it is identified with the political and religious freedom of the country; because it is to the spirit of Protestantism that we owe our greatness and our liberties as a nation; and because it is through our Protestantism that we have planted the principles of civil and religious liberty in other and distant climes. I cannot but feel that it is something precious to which so much of the liberty we possess is owing. I must say that if the practices to which I refer are to be allowed to go on, the Church of England will become false to its position and history. If the practices and principles to which I have called attention are to be maintained within the Church of England—principles so incompatible with our civil liberty—it will be necessary for the people of this country to rise up, and insist that the union between Church and State shall not continue. I am not here for the purpose of arguing that question to-night. I am here for the purpose of warning those upon whom rests the duty of maintaining those great principles on which the Church of England has been established, that that duty can no longer be neglected. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides will appreciate my honesty of purpose in bringing forward this question, and will believe that my aim is simply to vindicate Protestant principles. I earnestly desire and hope that the House will assist me in endeavouring to find out whether the facts which I have stated are true or false. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the first of the Resolutions of which he had given Notice.


said, he had much pleasure in seconding the Amendment, although he did not, generally speaking, agree with the hon. Gentleman by whom it was proposed. When he first saw it on the Paper, he felt that he could not withhold his assistance in this great cause. The practices to which it related continued, he was sorry to say, despite of the Act of Parliament which had been passed to put them down, and, instead of being checked, were proceeding to greater lengths. He regretted that there was so much apathy on the subject. Parliament was responsible that the Church of England should continue as she was handed down to them at the Reformation. She existed only by the will of Parliament, and they were bound to see that her teaching was in accordance with the doctrines which she professed. They could not conceal from themselves that things were now taught by some of her ministers which were perverting the true character of the Church of England and were insulting to Government. He was not going to pollute the ears of hon. Members by making quotations from utterances which, in his opinion, were a disgrace to society; but they contained references to the Virgin Mary and the Saints, which led him to ask whether clergymen of the Church of England who openly preached such doctrines ought not to be charged with breach of trust, and with something like embezzlement of the funds of the Church? There prevailed, he believed, a sound, honest opinion among the middle classes of this country which would support those who were determined that the Church of England should be maintained in her purity. He himself was a strong supporter of the union of Church and State, because he believed it formed a barrier against Romanism. He knew there were many Members who did not agree with him; but he valued those much higher who openly adopted the Romish doctrines than those who clandestinely attempted to introduce them into the Church of England. On such a subject he felt inclined to use stronger language than the House might think advisable. He would avoid that; but he would refer to the advice given by Dr. Pusey in The Church Times. That advice was that the military organization of the Church's Army should be completed, but that the advanced posts should only be a little in front of those who were behind them. An illustration was then given of a baker who bought a small joint of meat and exchanged it for the next one in size received from his customers, and then continued the process of exchange till he had secured a joint of 201b. weight for his own of 6lb. without any of his customers being able to detect the fraud. A similar process was advised for the introduction of Romish practices into the Church of England. They were asked to consider how obliging and attentive the clergymen were; but would they, because a doctor was obliging and attentive, admit him to their houses, if he were found to administer poison instead of medicine? As to the Bishops, they had not, in his opinion, done their duty in not endeavouring to suppress more firmly than they had done the evil of which he complained. The House was aware that 2,500 clergy, or more than an eighth of the whole number, took part in these proceedings; and there were, besides, numbers who sympathized with them, because clergymen were fond of exercising priestly influence over the minds and consciences of men. It was because he had a desire that the Church of England should be kept in the hearts of the people that he spoke as strongly as he had done. He had been asked, why stir up these things? why not let them go on? He asked, in reply, where were these things to stop? The time had come—and he trusted he should hear from those in power that it was so—when the law could not be broken with impunity, and when it would not be possible that an offender should escape on a technical point when he had had trial after trial. There were, he firmly believed, within the Church of England Jesuits—men who had taken office in it for the express purpose of perverting its doctrines—and there could be to Nonconformists no encouragement to come back within the fold of the Church when they saw it pervaded by so much of error. Holding these views, he gladly supported the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire as to the teaching and practice by Clergy of the Church of England of Doctrines and Ceremonies not authorized by Law, or contrary to the Laws and usages of the Church as by Law established,"—(Mr. Edward Jenkins,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"


said, that he had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins), who had brought forward a very long series of quotations, and had read much that he had been pained to hear, and many statements from which he emphatically dissented. Having said that, he would call on the hon. Member to say what he proposed to do? It was very easy to ask the House to address Her Majesty for the appointment of a Royal Commission; but when, and upon what principle, was the Commission to be named, and who were to be Members of it? The hon. Members for Dundee and Bury St. Edmund's had passed a most sweeping condemnation of the Bishops, both in particular and in general; and he wished to know whether or not any of them were to be members of the Commission, or whether, on the contrary, they were to be its victims, and, if Bishops were excluded, whether the Commissioners were to be clergy or laity; whether any lawyers were to be members, and whether they were to be empowered to call unwilling witnesses to give evidence on oath? Was the Commission to be one-sided, and the parties impugned only to appear as culprits, and to be dealt with by Jeddart law, or were they to have their share of representation? The Commission would have to inquire into processes, doctrines, ceremonies, and opinions, and other matters which were alleged to be contrary to the Prayer Book; but who was, first of all, to define either those ceremonies and doctrines, or their relation to the Book which was to test them? Was it not the fact that for 300 years there had been two parties in the Church of England, one turning to the higher and more ancient system of the primitive Church, and the other dwelling more on free thought and private judgment; one looking to England and the other with an eye to Geneva? Was the Commission to begin by arbitrating between these parties, so as to define the true, sound, and acknowledged doctrine of the Church; or, if not, from whom were they to receive it, necessary as such a definition would be to them as their point of departure? Again, the question arose whether the Prayer Book was self-explanatory; for, if it were, he defied anyone to explain the divisions existing in the Church. At all events, the Commission would find itself bound to offer some plausible explanation. The hon. Member had based his demand upon the assumption that the Church was the creation of the State, and had averred that at some unknown period the present Church was established in lieu of another, and a prior one; but could he mention by what Statute or at what time the old Church of England was put down and the new one set up, and could he explain the reason why in all the Courts of Law the Church, before and after the Reformation, was treated as a continuous body? The organization of the Church of England went back for 1,300 years, and any of its prescriptions and canons not specifically or by necessary inference repealed were still valid, not only in the Ecclesiastical but in the Civil Courts. The phrase "old and new Churches" was all very well as a platform for a pamphlet or a newspaper article; but it broke down in the Law Courts. It was the very antipodes of the whole of our ecclesiastical policy; and he might ask whether the Commission that was to be appointed would be compelled to swallow the shibboleth of the hon. Member, and whether it would have to sit in judgment on its author, and not devour its offspring like the god of old, but destroy its parent? Above all things, was the world so idle just now and so completely in want of something to talk about that it must needs plunge into infinity and endeavour to grapple with so large and slippery a question? Chaos must be the upshot of the hon. Member's magnificent Commission, in all the vagueness of its ambiguous and ensnaring scope. No doubt the hon. Member was a man of literary power; in that case, he should refute what had been said by the Ritualists and gather his converts by force of pen. Part of the task which the hon. Member proposed for the general recreation had actually been performed by the Ritual Commission of some little time back, and the years which that body had to consume over its limited work was some warning of the time which this more extensive inquiry must occupy. He could not look back without amusement at the fate of one eminent statesman, then though no longer a Member of this House, who rose at its first meeting to anticipate that a few sittings would conclude its short and easy work, and who then found himself chained for several years to the oar. They had heard a very ingenious plea, founded upon a theory of the hon. Member's, as to the origin and nature of the Church of England, which was contrary to history, experience, and law, and Her Majesty was to be invited to issue a Royal Commission in order that that theory might be ex post facto justified. In fact, to sum up the whole matter, if the hon. Gentleman succeeded in his device, he would simply succeed in putting all parties in the Church, Ritualists and Evangelicals alike, at sixes and sevens, in sowing so much dissension, and in provoking so bewildering an inquiry, that the result would be simply disestablishment of the Church.


wished to make a few remarks on the subject, feeling that it was one with which the House ought to grapple. He frankly owned that he much regretted that the Motion had been brought forward, and he regretted still more the causes which had led to it. For, unless there was at that moment a paramount necessity for bringing it forward, it was likely to do more harm than good; but if that necessity did exist, then they must deal with it in the way which would be best for the maintenance of the Church of England in all its purity. His hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Beresford Hope) had pointed out the reasons for which the Motion should be opposed, and in most of those reasons he entirely concurred. He would remind him, however, that the Commission, appointed by the late Lord Derby's Government with the sanction of all his Colleagues, dealt simply and solely with Ritualism and the changes in the Rubrics which might be deemed desirable; but when he read the Motion before the House, he found that it raised a much more considerable question. According to the terms of this Motion, the Commission was to inquire as to the teaching and practice by the Clergy of the Church of England of doctrines and ceremonies not authorized by law, or contrary to the laws and usages of the Church as by law established; and then the Motion went on to four other distinct propositions, pointing to that which the Mover had described as an attempt to un-Protestantize the Established Church of the country, to the lawlessness of the Clergy belonging to it, and to the conspiracy in which they were alleged to be engaged, by means of the Confessional and Secret Societies, for the purpose of accomplishing their illegal objects. Now, the question was, whether there was a sufficient ground made out for them to inquire into a general allegation—for that was really what the Motion pointed to—that the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England were transgressing the law and neglecting their duty in allowing those things to be carried on within the Church itself? The hon. Member had quoted a variety of recent decisions on the subject, and he had quoted the authority of certain Bishops who had made the strongest declarations—not stronger than the occasion required—and then the hon. Member pointed out the lawlessness of the Clergy and the Secret Societies that existed, by means of which these were things attempted to be done. He thought the hon. Gentleman would see that it would be a very grave matter indeed to issue a Commission of Inquiry into such subjects as these, unless there was an urgent and paramount necessity for bringing them before the House. It would be a very grave matter indeed to inquire into such subjects, unless there was clearly an urgent and paramount necessity for it. The failure of which the hon. Member had spoken did not consist in a failure of the law in dealing with those things; for the question was now before the Court of Appeal, as to whether the law recently passed was not sufficient to grapple with all those matters. If the law was sufficient, they would do wisely by leaving it to take its course. If it proved insufficient, unquestionably the hon. Member would have a strong case in favour of some alteration being made. Then, with regard to the quotations which the hon. Member had made from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. Surely, if they were to understand those words in the sense in which they ought to be understood, those Prelates had shown the strongest possible desire not merely to grapple with those matters, but to grapple with them, as ought to be done, in the most careful and judicial spirit. Therefore, the second reason which might induce the House to support the issue of a Commission at present failed also. With respect to the passages which the hon. Gentleman had read from books, he should be very loth indeed to be convinced that those practices which were alleged to exist in a few cases, and to be carried on by a few persons, were really the practices of the Church of England. His own observation and experience of the Church of England was entirely the other way. Those were cases which applied to a very few persons; and he firmly believed that the great body of the Church of England, and all the authorities of that Church, were not only ready and willing, but anxious to take their part in trying to do their utmost to stop these things. If that was the case, do not let them have all those matters brought more prominently to public notice than they had been already. Much mischief might be done by it—much mischief had been done by it—and unless there was a necessity for again dragging them all to light, he entreated the House to pause before it granted a Commission for such a purpose as that. He was not insensible to the evils which a few persons were likely to bring upon the Church of England; and he must own that, in using the words "on the Church of England" he meant the pure religion of this country as established at the Reformation. He did not use the words in an ecclesiastical sense only; but he used them far more in the highest moral and spiritual sense which was applicable to that pure religion which was founded by our Saviour. And he was thoroughly convinced that the feeling of the Church and of the authorities of the Church was not to allow the purity of that religion to be tampered with in any way if it could possibly be prevented. Believing, therefore, that there was every disposition on the part of those who were in authority in the Church to discountenance all the evils to which the hon. Gentleman had referred—and he did not in the least say improperly referred—he hoped that in the interest of all concerned, and, above all, in the interest of religion, they would at present, at any rate, endeavour to see whether the law was sufficient; and, if not, whether it could not be made sufficient, to deal with those matters in the only wise and effectual manner in which they could be dealt with—that was, by a judicial decision on all the cases which might be brought forward.


agreed to a considerable extent with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken; but he could not forget that there was in existence a Society of the Holy Cross, whose practices were contrary to the teaching of the Church of England, and whose publications had been condemned by the House of Lords on account of their tendency to undermine the doctrines of the Church. Then there was the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the English Church Union, and the Abbey Restoration Society, who were going in the same direction; and he thought it was the duty of the Archbishops and Bishops to consider whether their powers were sufficient to control or put an end to such Societies, which were supported by certain Clergy of the Church of England. It appeared to him that that knot of the Clergy, whether it was large or small, ostentatiously associated itself to overthrow not only the jurisdiction of the Bishops, but also the doctrines of the Church whose bread they were eating. He agreed with the objections which had been raised to the appointment of a Commission, and wished the Motion had been for an Address to the Archbishops and Bishops, expressing the willingness of the House to grant such powers by law as would enable them to put an end to, or to control, those Associations. That was what appeared to him to be needed. It was highly dangerous to the Church of England, established by law, that confraternities and communities formed out of the Clergy of that Church should exist for the purpose of contravening, or of procuring the alteration and abrogation, or, at all events, for evading, the law which had been passed by Parliament, in recognition of the union between the Church and the State; and that Parliament, as the author of those laws, should not receive from the highest authority of the Church of England such advice as would enable that and the other House of Parliament to feel confident that they were proceeding on safe lines in arming the lawful authorities of the Church with the power of putting an end to those Associations, which were avowedly in contravention, and for the contravention, of the law. The facts of the case which had been brought before the House were patent; they were published by a certain section of the Clergy. It was perfectly true that there was in some cases a concealment of the name; and in such cases he thought that the Bishops and Archbishops ought to have power to demand, on pain of suspension, from any particular clergyman who might be suspected, an avowal as to whether he was, or was not, connected with those Societies. That would be a practical measure, and it was one which was needed. It would be idle to recommend the appointment of a Commission without having a definite object in view. If the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins) were to recommend an inquiry with a view to the formation of a law, which should thus arm the highest authorities of the Church of England, he, as an adherent and a member of that Church, should thank him; but do not let the House enter upon a vague inquiry. Such an inquiry would be perfectly futile. His belief was that nothing less than an Act of Parliament authorizing an inquiry, under which the Commissioners would be empowered to examine upon oath, would be sufficient for the purpose. He would consent to such an Inquiry, with the distinct understanding that the intended outcome would be that Parliament should pass another Act requiring the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church to demand from the Clergy, under pain of suspension, their abstention from Associations, the object of which was the contravention of the law.


remarked, that those hon. Members who belonged to the Church of England must be interested in a general view of the case rather than in the more technical points which were awaiting protracted decision in the Courts of Law. The right hon. Member opposite (Mr. Spencer Walpole) had said that he did not believe the evil was so great and extended as had been represented. He wished he could join in that belief. Going from place to place throughout the country, he was sorry to say that his conclusion was of a very different character from that of the right hon. Member. It was better, however, to take some decided evidence rather than to rely upon the deductions which any individual Member might draw from his own observations. He held in his hand a list of 470 Clergy of the Church of England, members of one of those Societies—which were quasi-Secret Societies at any rate—showing thorougly the sum of their practices and the tenets which they held. The Societies issued a book of "directions," and in it he found that there was to be intercession for the building of churches; but no such intercession unless the Holy Sacrifice was to be frequently offered in them—and hon. Members must know what was meant by the "Holy Sacrifice"—that there should be prayer made, that the Bishops might be brought to a right opinion on the subject of the Blessed Eucharist; that there should be prayers for the souls of the Clergy who had been members of the confraternity, but who had recently died, and the names of the dead were given. All this went to prove that there were within the Church of England bodies of men who were, by all possible measures they could take, endeavouring to restore those things which the Church at the time of the Reformation left out. Again, these men proposed that the primitive customs of the Blessed Sacrament might be reserved for the dead and dying. The whole of these practices indicated that there was a system going on for the restoration of those doctrines which were denounced by the Prayer Book as being inconsistent with the Church of England. There could be no doubt that the evidence of these practices was strong; and he feared that the longer they delayed the inquiry the more rapidly the disease would spread; and the opinion would also spread, that neither high authorities in the Church, nor the Ministers of State, had much care on the subject. He did not say what form the proposed investigation should take; but he certainly thought that some desired step should be made by the Government as the result of the present proposal.


said, the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins) had asked the House to take a very strong step—a step which could not be justified at the present moment, unless there was a paramount necessity for it, and unless all other means of checking the practices brought under notice had been completely exhausted. He had listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member; but, temperate and able as was that speech, and strong as were the facts which the hon. Gentleman had brought before the House, the step which he proposed to take was one not justified by existing circumstances and necessities. It was his belief that the enormous proportion of the Clergy evinced a desire to conform to the principles of the Church of England, and he could not admit the any case to the contrary had been made out. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the lawlessness of the large proportion of the Clergy. If that was the case, would not the Public Worship Regulation Act have given some evidence of the fact? How many cases had there been under that Act? The hon. Gentleman asked them to appoint a Royal Commission; but had he proved that the law, as it at present stood, had failed? Was it a fact that the present law had failed? It was only three years next November that the Act had been in operation, and it could not yet be said to have been fully tried. No case had been made out for the appointment of a Royal Commission. He could not see how any hon. Gentleman desirous of maintaining the connection between the Church and the State could for a moment entertain this Motion. It was most inopportune at a time like this, when feelings were excited, and when it was hardly possible to give a calm consideration to the subject.


I think the speeches of my two right hon. Friends the Members for the Universities of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray) and Cambridge (Mr. Spencer Walpole) have gone very far to show the House the nature of the objections which suggest themselves to the minds of many, and, I would venture to hope, the majority of the Members of the House, as to the particular course which is proposed by the hon. Member for Dundee. Undoubtedly, the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge placed the matter in the light which I should think very many of us must regard it. My right hon. Friend said that while he regretted very much that this Motion should have been brought forward, he regretted still more the circumstances which had rendered it, in the opinion of the hon. Member for Dundee, necessary to invite the attention of the House to the subject. There can, I think, be but one opinion among us all as to the unfortunate nature of those circumstances which have led to our attention being drawn to this question in the manner it has been; and which, undoubtedly, has caused a great deal of feeling on the part of many of us with regard to the conduct of certain persons whose words and writings have been brought under our notice. I, for one—and I believe I speak the sentiments of this House generally—do deplore, and in the strongest manner reprobate, the conduct of those who, from whatever motives they may be actuated, are using their position in the Church of England in a way so detrimental to the true interests of the Church. But while I am quite prepared to agree with the hon. Member for Dundee—and, indeed, with almost everyone who has spoken—in lamenting and reprobating language and conduct such as he has described, I think we ought to be very cautious as to how we accept the proposal he makes for the appointment of a Royal Commission. We ought to ask ourselves very carefully what are the advantages he thinks he can propose to us by the appointment of such a Commission; and we ought also to consider what are the dangers and inconveniences that may be apprehended from such a step. A very practical suggestion was made by my hon. Friend the junior Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope). He put some very apposite questions as to the composition of the Commission, the nature of the work it would have to do, and as to the character of its inquiry. Those questions, I think, have been in no way answered, and no reply to them was foreshadowed by the hon. Member for Dundee. I think the hon. Gentleman has failed to bring his case properly before the House. Undoubtedly, he has pointed out certain matters which he thinks are deserving of consideration, and he has pointed to certain evils which, in his judgment, demand a remedy; but he has not connected his premisses with his conclusion, and he has not shown us how a Royal Commission is an appropriate mode of dealing with these difficulties. Moreover, he has not shown us how his Royal Commission would work, nor whether there may not be better ways of meeting the evils which are acknowledged to exist. I must take this opportunity of saying that I cannot assent to the fundamental doctrine which he hon. Member for Dundee laid down when he commenced his observations. He began by telling us that the Church of England was an institution of the State, just the same as the Army, the Navy, and the Civil Service were institutions of the State. He told us, in fact, that the Church was a creature of the State; and that, therefore, it was in the power and the duty of the State to overhaul, if I may use the word, and regulate the Church, from time to time, just as it may think fit. I dissent from that view of the relation between the two bodies. I do not admit that it is right, or proper, to describe the Church as a creature of the State. I regard the matter rather in this light—the Church, having certain articles and formularies by which its doctrines and discipline are defined, has been accepted and admitted to certain privileges by the State, on the understanding that those doctrines and that discipline are the doctrines and the discipline which the Church is to maintain. Legal power has been given to keep the Church within the limits so laid down, and to confine the obligations and the relations of the State to the Church, on the condition of those limitations being observed on the part of the Church. If any authorities or ministers of the Church violate those conditions, the State has a right to interfere and say—"This is contrary to our contract;" and steps may be taken to restrain what is going on. But I deny that in the first instance the Church is to be treated as a creature of the State. Still, I admit most fully that it may be necessary for the State to arm the Church with power, or to take power itself, to restrain lawlessness and breaches of those conditions. I would remind the hon. Gentleman as to what has occurred in recent years upon those questions. In the first place, there was the issuing of the Royal Commission some years ago. What I understand to have been the meaning of appointing that Commission was this—It being a matter of doubt whether certain practices were legal which had been revived in the Church after having been left dormant for many years, the Commission was appointed very much for the purpose of considering how far those matters were legitimate and appropriate to the Church. It was a Commission strictly of inquiry, and it laid down the rules which, in the opinion of the Commissioners, ought to be followed. Besides that, there has been a wholly different proceeding adopted by the State of late years. After these matters had been so far ascertained by the Commission, the question arose whether sufficient means existed for keeping in order insubordinate ministers of the Church of England who were guilty of lawlessness and of disobeying the law of the Church. On that occasion the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church themselves came forward and said— We are intrusted with certain duties for maintaining the law of the Church. We find, however, that we are not armed with sufficient authority, or that, at all events, the authority with which we are armed is clogged with so many inconveniences that we cannot discharge the duties which we ought to perform; and, therefore, Parliament must pass another Act. Looking at those transactions, and having reference to what has occurred since, we shall find that the bearing of the law has been pretty well ascertained both as regards the doctrine and discipline of the Church on the points called in question, and that the proper ecclesiastical authorities have been armed with power supposed to be sufficient to give due effect to that law. The Bishops or other ecclesiastical authorities do not ask for further powers—they do not say the Act is insufficient; but they are proceeding by a firm, judicious, and temperate exercise of their powers under the law, with a belief that they will be able to regulate and restrain what is amiss in the Church. The House must take the case as so standing. They cannot too earnestly repudiate the conduct of undutiful members of the Church, and it is their duty to support proper authority and restrain those guilty of excesses; but to go beyond that and establish a Roving Commission, inquiring in all parts of the country what doctrines are taught, what practices are followed, and what faults are to be found, would be the most injudicious course which could be pursued. It could do very little good, and would be sure to lead to a great deal of heartburning and evil. No doubt the hon. Member would desire to limit its proceedings to such gross cases as those he has cited, but a great variety of other cases would be certain to be brought before it altogether unconnected possibly with Romanish doctrines and practices; and I do not not see how it would be possible, in these circumstances, for a Commission of a sufficiently representative character to arrive at anything like unanimous conclusions. Considering that the law is already adequate to cope with the state of things depicted by the hon. Member, the House will, I am sure, come to the conclusion that no case has been made out for the Motion. It is true that a certain number of prosecutions have failed owing to some want of appreciation as to the proper course to be pursued; but such incidents are always liable to happen occasionally, and we may hope that as the present state of the law becomes better understood they will cease to recur. Supposing, however, they were likely to continue, it would surely be more appropriate to suggest the necessary amendments in the law than to appoint a Royal Commission? I hope the hon. Member will spare the House the pain of a division on this question. There can be no doubt that there is a general uneasiness and dissatisfaction with regard to such cases as those referred to by the hon. Member, and those who would not vote for a Royal Commission might still be unwilling to give a vote which would seem to approve of the practices complained of. The hon. Member, by his speech, which was of a fair and temperate character, and by the speeches he has elicited in the debate, which have all been of the same stamp, has rendered good service to the country; but I think he would render that service more complete by following the course I have taken the liberty of suggesting.


in obedience, as he believed, to the general feeling of the House, would withdraw his Motion, adding, however, that he would again call attention to the subject next year, or support some other hon. Member in doing so, if the legal methods upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer relied proved ineffectual for remedying the evils complained of.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred, till Monday next.