§ * MR. GEDGE (Walsall)
I rise with some diffidence to make the Motion that stands in my name, because I am aware that I am dealing with a subject, not only of very great interest, but also one which is apt to stir up feelings of animosity in which I have no share, and which I sincerely hope may not be evinced in the Debate which is likely to follow on my Motion. I do not propose to move that Resolution in the exact words in which it stands on the Paper, feeling, as I do, that I may make use of some words that appear in an Amendment which seem to me better than my own. Therefore, 788 I propose to move my Resolution in the following terms—That this House deplores the spirit of lawlessness shown in a memorial which the English Church Union (a society of which more than 4,000 clergy of the Church of England are stated to be members) adopted unanimously at a meeting held in London on the 28th day of February last, and directed a copy of it to be sent to the Queen and to every member of each House of Parliament, and approves of the declaration made in this House on the 2nd day of March last by the First Lord of the Treasury, that neither he nor the Lord Chamberlain would recommend any clergyman to a benefice unless convinced that he was prepared loyally to obey his Bishop, and in accordance therewith confidently hopes that the Ministers of the Crown will not recommend any clergyman for ecclesiastical preferment unless they are satisfied that he will loyally obey the law as declared by the Courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical.For nearly two years, Sir, the columns of the Press all over the country have been full of the question of the so-called "crisis in the Church," and that subject has not been without discussion in this House. The discussions began in August 1897, when the right honourable Member for Monmouth and my honourable Friend the Member for Flintshire raised the question on the Benefices Bill of certain acts of lawlessness on the part of certain clergy, and there have been two discussions on the matter since. It is not my intention to speak in any way of doctrines or specific acts of lawlessness, except so far as it may be necessary to allude to them in order to make my meaning clear, and to do justice to my opponents. My desire is to maintain the Reformation, to maintain the Church of England as an Established Church and as a Protestant Church. My desire is to do that which Her Gracious Majesty the Queen, when she ascended the Throne, swore to do, and which her successor will swear to do—namely, to maintain the Protestant and reformed religion as established by law. I have no wish whatever, though accused of it, to exclude that very large party of Moderate High Churchmen, who, I believe, are true and loyal to the Church of England. It is scarcely necessary for me to say that many letters have reached me from different parts of the country—some from those who take very much the same view as I take, but who are not satisfied, for they think that my Resolution is too mild—not strong 789 enough, not severe enough. With them, of course, I do not agree. I have received other letters from persons who differ from me, and who have censured me for "having the impudence" to bring such a Motion as this before the House of Commons. I have been called all sorts of very hard names—one of the worst of them was that I was a devil for what I am doing. I have to thank my noble Friend Lord Halifax for the great courtesy with which he addressed me. He appealed to me as one whom he has known for years, and who had endeavoured to take a moderate part in Church matters, and had advocated everything which tended to peace. I have consistently opposed prosecutions, and especially the prosecution of the Bishop of Lincoln. I have deprecated the proceedings of the Church Association in many respects, and have tried to do in Church matters what I can to promote peace. At the present time I am engaged in the House of Laymen in endeavouring to find out whether it is possible to discover any high court which would satisfy all parties. I have also to thank Dr. Cobbe, the assistant secretary of the English Church Union, who has kindly sent me all the information I wanted as to the constitution and membership of the Union; and I cordially reciprocate what he writes me when he expresses the hope—That our differences will not break Christian charity or make us forget that underneath them is a far deeper agreement in our common faith and in our common love of our Lord.It is not in any angry spirit that I take up this question, but simply with an earnest desire that what seems to me very lawless may meet with a proper reply from the House of Commons. The English Church Union has singled itself out, and brought itself prominently before the public and the House of Commons, and this renders it necessary that we should take notice of its origin, and what it has done. It was founded 40 years ago for the perfectly proper purposes of (1) preserving the Church's endowments; (2) of defending the Church's doctrine and discipline; (3) of obtaining such Church reforms as would secure to the Church the right to decide finally for herself in all spiritual causes. I emphasise that as showing that at present, 790 in 1899, there is no difference as to what is desired, namely, that the Church should have a legal right to decide for herself on all spiritual matters. And (4) for obtaining other needful Church reforms. Now, these objects are perfectly legitimate, and I do not quarrel with anything in the original programme of the Union, though there are some minor objects with which I do not agree. But now we have from the President of the Union, Lord Halifax, in the address which he made to the Church Union at Bradford, and which address was rapturously applauded, a fuller account in detail of its objects. At that meeting in October, 1898, Lord Halifax claimed for the clergy and the Church (1) the right to reserve the sacraments for the use of the sick; (2) the right to use extreme unction; (3) the right to pray for the dead, not privately, but in Church services; (4) to use incense ceremonially; (5) to identify the Holy Communion with the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church; (6) to use all ceremonies in services which the Romans use unless expressly forbidden by the Church Prayer Book. I mention these things not to discuss them, not to argue upon them, not to say that they are wrong, but simply to show that these things which he desires to use are evidently, in his own opinion, not at present right according to the law of the Church, and that therefore he desires to alter the law. And there again I do not quarrel with him. He is entirely within his right, and I have nothing to say against him. I also mention these things to show that matters of serious doctrinal importance lie at the back of the action of the English Church Union, which I am now going to bring before the House of Commons. I wish to call attention, as it is necessary to do so, to the memorial of the English Church Union which was passed unanimously at a meeting of that body on 28th February last. That meeting consisted of 1,500 members, with Lord Halifax in the chair. There were 600 delegates from 250 towns all over the country, and they came up to vote for this memorial, which was put before them cut and dried, and carried unanimously. A copy of that memorial, signed by Lord Halifax, was sent to the Queen, to the Archbishops, and Bishops, to every Member of the House of Peers, 791 and to every Member of this House. This memorial is thus definitely brought to our notice as the representatives of the nation, as the governing body of the nation. It was made public, and our attention has been called to it. The memorial amounts to a challenge to us, and as a challenge we have to consider it. If you look at that memorial, which I consider evinces a spirit of lawlessness, I am perfectly ready to admit that if you take it paragraph by paragraph, each by itself, there might be some difficulty in saying that any particular paragraph was in itself a defiance of the law. The memorial is very ingeniously, I cannot say it is ingenuously framed, and any part, on the face of it, may have a meaning to which no objection can be taken. But when we come to look at it, and take it as a whole, the intention is clear. It is to bring back the Church of England, if possible, to mediaeval practices, and to undo the reforms of the sixteenth century; in other words, to un-Protestantise the Church. And in order to do so the particular action which this memorial contemplates is a defiance of the law courts, and even of the authority of the Bishops; to defy their authority if it is exercised on principles which the memorialists dislike. I must not take up too much of the time of the House, but the matter is so important that I must read one or two of the paragraphs of the memorial to justify what I am saying. They state—That nothing was to be taught except what could be collected from the Catholic fathers and ancient Bishops.They declared that—We have asserted, and assert again, that the Church of England cannot consistently with her principles release herself from the obligations imposed upon her by her relation to the rest of the Catholic Church. We have maintained, and we should continue to maintain, that the doctrine, discipline, and ceremonial of the Church of England as they have at anytime during the course of our history been prescribed by her, remain in force and operation except in such specific instances as they have been changed by her own authority.You see that they deny the right of Parliament to have anything to do with the subject. They then go on—We have denied, and we deny again, the right of the Crown, or of Parliament, to determine the doctrine, the discipline, and the ceremonial of the Church of England.792 Now what does that mean? The whole point there seems to me to go on the meaning of the word "determine." But I think I had better go on with my extracts. Speaking of the Bishops, they say—It is hateful to us even to seem to be in opposition to our Bishops. We claim no right to introduce new ceremonies or novel doctrines at our own good pleasure, but we do claim that the rights of the Church of England should be respected, and that matters which in view of all the circumstances of the case may rightly be subjects for regulation should not be condemned on a principle of interpretation to which it is impossible we can assent. We cannot admit, in view of the history of the Church of England, that any interpretation of the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer can be legitimate which relies on the principle that omission to prescribe is equivalent to prohibition to use. Neither can we admit that arguments founded on non-user, however long and continuous, can be legitimately adduced as evidence of what the Church of England forbids or enjoins.Now, those things which they cannot admit, and which they entirely deny, are all things which have been laid down as the law of the land by the highest court in the realm, which has cognisance of such matters—the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Not unnaturally, then, they finish up in this way: they warn the Bishops against usingtheir spiritual powers to curtail the glory and splendour of the services in God's House on earth, by imposing on the Church a narrow and disputed interpretation of the rubrics.that is, on matters of ritual. This memorial ends with a warning to the State, which, it is told, must not take any steps to enforce its own laws in its own courts. This memorial was introduced to that large assemblage by its President, Lord Halifax, in a long and very able speech. There is a great deal in that speech with which we cannot but sympathise. Lord Halifax is a good and sincere man. It is not for me to praise him, or to say anything as to his Christian character: but in everything he says and writes the spirit of love to God and his Church is certainly foremost. I should be exceedingly sorry to say one word which reflected on his personal character, or sincerity, or anything of that kind; but, at the same time, I am bound to bring this matter before the House to show the results of what Lord Halifax says and does. In that speech 793 made by Lord Halifax, which was received with universal applause, he says—They were lawless: in regard to what authority?—that of the Church, or of the Bishops administering Church law on Church principles? He denied it. They claimed only to teach and to practise what was covered by the formularies and rubrics of the Church of England. To that of the Privy Council, and of courts subject to its jurisdiction when they interfered with spiritual matters? He admitted it. In regard to such courts, an I in regard to the law laid down by them, they pleaded guilty to lawlessness.I do not know after that that it would be necessary for me to prove that they are lawless. How can you draw a distinction on any subject between one law and another law, or between one court and another court? We are all law-abiding citizens, and if we do not like any particular law we do our best to get it changed. But so long as it is the law we are bound to obey it. In this connection I would quote the opinion given in "The Times" of Dr. Sandford, Bishop of Gibraltar, who says—If changes be needed in our forms of worship or in our Ecclesiastical Courts, we are all free to advocate changes. But until they are made by proper authority it is our duty, as loyal Churchmen and good citizens, to obey the law as it stands, and to abide by the decisions of the existing tribunals. None who refuse to render this obedience have any right to complain if they are charged with lawlessness and disloyalty.I think the House will agree heartily with that sentiment. Very well. It is clear from the passage which I have read from Lord Halifax's speech that the Bishops will be obeyed only as long as they act on what the English Church Union considers as Church principles. I prove this from the latter part of Lord Halifax's speech. He calls attention to this new—I don't know what to call it, but say—this new plan of the Archbishops by which the Archbishops are to solve doubts by acting in turn as judges and assessors to each other. Lord Halifax tells us that the clergy—Will never get a more spiritual hearing than that now proposed by the Archbishops.He says that the clergy will put themselves hopelessly in the wrong with all rightly informed Church opinion if they do not carry their cases before the Archbishops and Bishops. I will read the 794 whole passage, so as not to do injustice to the noble Lord—If the clergy were to refuse to obey the Bishops in justifying their practices at such a hearing, they would be contradicting all they had said ever since they had struggled against the authority of the Court of Final Appeal and the Courts subject to its jurisdiction.His Lordship admits that the clergy were bound to give a hearing, for unless they did so—They would put themselves hopelessly in the wrong with all rightly informed Church opinion. Let them not misunderstand him,continued his Lordship—It was their duty and their wisdom to make the most of such an opportunity for the hearing of spiritual matters before the Archbishops. They should do so with the hope and confident expectation that the decisions given would make for peace. But, of course, no one could pledge himself to a decision before it was given.In other words, they would be hopelessly in the wrong if they did not take their case before the Archbishops, but not hopelessly wrong, but only doing what is right, if the Archbishops gave a decision which, in their opinion, is not in accordance with their Church principles, and they disobeyed it. That is obedience with a vengeance. And yet Lord Halifax is angry with my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India because he called him lawless. I think my noble Friend gave him a sufficient answer this morning. If this were not lawlessness, how comes it that every newspaper in the country was filled with articles headed "Revolt of the Clergy." Everyone understood that memorial to mean a defiance of the law courts. But it was not only the newspapers which took up this position, but persons of eminence—some of them even who were rather in sympathy with the views as to the independence of the Church. Dr. Sand-ford writes—The English Church Union creates an imperium in imperio, weakening, and even superseding rightful authority.…It refuses to bow to the law of the Church and the country.My right reverend Friend Dr. Sheepshanks, Bishop of Norwich, who certainly avows himself a very High Churchman, takes a similar view. He writes that Lord Halifax's course is "a 795 repudiation of the Episcopal authority." The same view is taken by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, and he has justified it this morning. I will quote one other sentence from what Lord Halifax said at Bradford in October last to a largo meeting of the English Church Union. He said—I tell the Bishops that if they would exact respect for their own authority, it can only be in proportion as they themselves recognise and submit to the authority of the whole Catholic Church.That is, that the law as laid down by the courts appointed by Parliament has no authority in the Catholic Church. Again, Lord Halifax, in 1886, said that anywell-instructed Christian would rather appeal to Pope Leo at Rome than to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in spiritual matters.In other words, he thinks so little of the highest court of the realm in these matters that ho would prefer to refer the matter not to the Privy Council but to the Pope, whom our homilies appointed to be read in our churches call "Anti-Christ." I hope my Roman Catholic Friends will not take offence; I am only quoting what our Church has said on the matter. How did "The Times" put the matter the next day after the delivery of his speech made in proposing the memorial? It said—The gist of it is that a very important section of the clergy represented at the meeting repudiate entirely and absolutely the authority of the tribunals which, according to the law of the land, have been empowered to decide in the last resort disputed points of Church law, and they intimate their resolve to disobey these decisions.Well, that being so, what, I ask, are we to do? Lord Halifax expresses the willingness, or rather the duty of the clergy to go to this new court established by the Archbishops, but which is not a court of law at all. It is perfectly clear that though the Bishop or Archbishop has authority on matters left by the Common Prayer Book to his discretion, such as the colour of altar cloths, on all other matters his resolution of a doubt is not the decision of a court of law at all. It cannot make legal what is "contrary to any- 796 thing contained in the Book of Common Prayer," nor illegal what is not so contrary. It is always open to question, and if an attempt is made to enforce the decision of the Archbishops, it may be reviewed by the Privy Council. Do you suppose that the courts of law will take the Archbishops' dictum as of necessity right? No. The court will be asked by counsel whether the dictum of the Archbishops is in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer; and if the court takes a different view from the Archbishops, then they will not enforce the dictum of the Archbishops, and matters will be where they were. I do hope that the decisions of the Archbishops will be so wise and moderate that there may be no appeal to the courts. But I am bound to say that if the Archbishops construe the law, as it is said that they intend to construe it, without any reference to the decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a very different state of things will arise, and we will be inundated with prosecutions, which do so much harm. I submit I have proved up to the hilt that a spirit of lawlessness is in this memorial. I have proved that neither as regards the Bishops nor the courts of law will those clergy who bind themselves to this memorial render obedience unless the decisions are such as pleases their own sweet will. They have certain Church principles of their own, certain ideas in regard to the Book of Common Prayer, certain notions of what happened in the Middle Ages. There is no prohibition in the Prayer Book of an altar; but at the same time all the altars were taken down at the Reformation, we can hardly suppose with the view of setting them up again. That being the case, I have proved up to the hilt that there is a spirit of lawlessness in the memorial. I do not suggest for a moment that this large body of men who have the cause of God at heart joined in this lawlessness out of sheer cussedness. Such an idea never entered my head; they never would dream of doing what they did unless there were doctrines behind for which they cared. Admitting, for argument's sake, that those doctrines and ritual are true, and according to the Bible and the teaching of the Church, but if the Judicial 797 Committee of the Privy Council has declared them not to be the doctrines and ritual of the Church of England (and in 61 out of 65 cases brought before that Judicial Committee the decisions were cast aginst them), then I am afraid if similar decisions are again given against them they will move Heaven and earth to get rid of that court, in order that they may get their own way. I admit that, from the point of view of the High Churchmen, they say "If we are asked to subscribe to certain doctrines, we must obey God rather than man." Well, there is not an honourable Member in this House who would not cheerfully obey that rule of life. The position taken up by them, however, seems to me to be that they want to obey what they believe are the commands of God, but they do not want to obey any court or the law of the land, and at the same time they do not wish to undergo any pains and penalties in consequence. Now, every one of these Gentlemen who are in Holy Orders, unless they exceed the age of 85 years, entered Holy Orders at a time when the law courts were the same as they are now. Every one of them knew that they would be subject to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as the ultimate Court of Appeal, have had these matters before them for rather more than 60 years. Every one of them, with the possible exception of Canon Carter, who is 90 years of age, voluntarily entered Holy Orders with the full knowledge that he would be subject to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. With regard to the Church of England, in the sixteenth century the State and the Church together settled the Church doctrines and ritual. Again, in the seventeenth century, the State and the Church together made sundry alterations in the ritual, and nearly 30 years ago, by the Uniformity Amendment Act, the State alone made some minor changes in the ritual, and relaxed certain rules. All the members of the English Church Union who are clergymen have largely availed themselves of the liberty thus given to them, and they have read the different Lessons without remonstrance, and they have held additional services 798 by virtue of that Act. But, at the present time, there is not a suggestion on the part of the State that any alteration should be made, either by fresh legislation in Parliament or by the Ecclesiastical Courts, with regard to the doctrines or the ritual of the Church of England. Therefore, it is utterly unnecessary for the English Church Union to deny the right of the Crown or Parliament to determine the doctrines, the discipline, and the ceremonial of the Church. Do they mean by "determine" a change by legislation? Has the Church the right to do that, or is, it a right which belongs to the State? Why the State has the right, as a condition of the Establishment, to lay down any law which it likes with regard to the doctrine or the ritual of the Church as by law established. If the State has power to Disestablish, however wrong that might be, it must have the power to fix the conditions on which it will refrain from Disestablishment. The State has the right to do this and Disestablish the Church if it pleases, and that goes without saying, for it is clearly within the power of the Queen and Parliament, although I think that Parliament would be very wrong in exercising that right. The State has a perfect right to say on what conditions it will continue to maintain the Establishment. But no one suggests that the State wishes, to change the doctrines or the ritual of the Church. The State, 60 years ago, did establish a, tribunal—namely, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, to determine judicially and finally, with the aid of theological experts, the exact meaning of the existing laws which by the consent of both Church and State govern the Church, just as the House of Lords determines judicially and finally the exact meaning of all other laws. I do not think I can do better than quote the opinion of an honourable Member of this House, whom we all listen to with great respect—I allude to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Bodmin Division of Cornwall. He says—The Court does not determine doctrines and lay them down; it only fixes the exact meaning of the language on which both the Church and State have agreed.But, then, the English Church Union say that these are spiritual matters, of 799 which only a spiritual court has a right of cognisance. Here, again, we want a definition of the word spiritual as to matters and persons. Let us first take spiritual matters. The Common Prayer Book says—The minister shall kneel and say the Lord's Prayer in an audible voice, the people also kneeling and repeating it with him.The question whether it ought to be said kneeling, sitting, or standing may be held to be a spiritual matter to be decided by the Church, but the meaning of the words cannot be a, spiritual matter, for it is a very mundane matter indeed which a court can determine, and that alone is what the court decides. Next, what is a, spiritual court and what is a secular court? Are we to have introduced into the Church of England the old Roman idea that there are certain persons who are spiritual persons and all the rest are secular? Do they say that every man in spiritual Orders is spiritual, and all laymen are secular? There we should join issue, because our Church draws no such distinction. Spiritual persons, whether lay or clerical, in our Church, as in the Church of Galatia, are baptised converts, and the members of the Judicial Committee come within that definition. How long has this repudiation of the Privy Council, as not being a spiritual court, existed in the breast of the Party who are represented by the English Church Union? Certainly not when Archdeacon Denison appealed to it from the condemnation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and got his appeal allowed; and certainly not when Mr. Bennet was acquitted of teaching consubstantiation on the ground that his language was capable of another interpretation; and certainly not when Dr. Pusey was inhibited by Bishop Wilberforce, for he challenged the Bishop to prosecute him, and offered to pay the expense himself, in order that he might have his case tried by the Privy Council. This was certainly not the case with Dr. Hook, who saw no objection to it, for he wrote—The Judicial Committee is not a legislative Synod. The questions it decides are not questions of opinion, but of fact. What is the law? Who can deal with it better than lawyers? Who could be worse judges than ecclesiastics, who would endeavour to bind the law to their opinion?800 The Ritual Commission of 1883 recommended, as the final court of appeal, an exclusively lay body of judges, and that very excellent and good churchman Lord Selborne, as we have seen quite recently, adopted the same view. The late Archbishop Benson, who was always considered a High Churchman, and one of the most statesmanlike of Archbishops, did not think that the Judicial Committee was an improper court, nor do the present Archbishops think so, for they have introduced a Bill which was prepared by Archbishop Benson, and in this Bill it is intended to meet all reasonable objections, and to provide satisfactory tribunals. Now, what do they propose for the final court of appeal to determine all these spiritual matters? Why, they suggest this very Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; but just as the House of Lords consults the Judges on very important questions, but is not bound by their opinion, so the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council under this Bill are not to decide until they have consulted the Archbishops and Bishops, for they are in no way bound by the opinion of the majority. I contend, therefore, that the objection to the Judicial Committee is unreasonable, and is not held by many excellent High Churchmen, although, if it is unreasonable, they have a right to take means to alter it. We may be sure of this, that if it had not been for the power of the Councillors to alter the decisions of the lower courts, large bodies of menwould long ago have been driven out of the Church of England. The Judicial Committee has always set its face, as far as possible, in favour of giving the accused the benefit of the doubt, and I hope it will always do so. There is one thing more. The gentlemen I am referring to—I mean the clerical part of them—are always appealing to the law as contained in the canons. Now, the 1st canon ordains—That all ecclesiastical persons are to keep the laws made to restore to the Crown the ancient jurisdiction over the State ecclesiastical.That says "restore to the Crown," not restore to the Church. The 7th canon says: "The Church is to be governed by Bishops under the King's Majesty. The King can act only through his Courts." 801 And the 127th canon allows laymen to exercise ecclesiastical, jurisdiction. This may be all very well, they say, but why should the House of Commons interfere? The House of Commons represents the nation, and there is no other way in which laymen can interfere, except through their accredited representatives in the House of Commons. This matter has been brought to our notice, and we have been officially informed of it. Our laws and the Queen's courts have been flouted and defied, and, therefore, unless we are satisfied to let things remain as they are, the House of Commons must do something. Here you have an important and numerous body of clergymen, backed up by a certain number of laymen and a good many more lay-women, enunciating their intention not to be bound by anything but their own views, and they throw down a challenge to us, and we are bound to take it up. We are bound to take it up in self-defence and in protection of our own liberty, and of our right to remain in the Church. What are we told? Hitherto the final court of the Privy Council has done its best to make the Church of England comprehensive, but it is the avowed object of the English Church Union to expel from the Church all those who do not agree with their view. What does Lord Halifax say in his recent speech? He says—We can never acquiesce in the position that contradictory opinions on matters of faith can be legitimately included in the same Church. We reject toleration for ourselves as one opinion among many. We claim it on the ground that true Catholic belief and practice claim the exclusive allegiance of the faithful.By Catholic belief and practice he means the Roman Catholic, what he considers the universal belief and practice of the Roman Catholic Church, and in many of his speeches he claims that the Church of England is to be brought back to what he calls the old Catholic doctrine of the early ages. We who are not members of the English Church Union do not take that view of Church matters, and if that view be carried out we shall be excluded from the Church. I have been found fault with for limiting my Motion to the English Church Union, but I have done so because that is the particular Union that has brought itself to the front in this matter. It has been said that our action should not have been 802 directed against certain members of the Church of England alone, because other sections have shown a spirit of lawlessness. I do not see why, because certain members have done this, that you should pass a Resolution affecting all other members, and I think it would be more logical that, as a particular society has brought this matter to our notice, we ought to deal with that society; and upon that ground I think that it is better to deal with the matter as I have suggested. But it is said that there are others who break the law, and this is very likely the case; but the House will see that I am not basing my case upon breaches of the law. I do not know of any other society or any other single man who has announced his intention of defying and breaking the law, and when anyone does this and it is brought to our notice I think we are quite competent to deal with it, and I should be in favour of dealing with such a society as I am now proposing that the House should deal with what the English Church Union have done. Our action is only against those who deliberately defy the courts and our laws; who claim to approbate and reprobate; and who take the advantages which the law gives them, and at the same time repudiate the burdens which it imposes upon them, and who bring this to our notice by hoisting the flag of rebellion and waving it in our faces. Then we come to the question, What should the House of Commons do? Upon this matter I agree with the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouthshire that the law does not need altering, and that it is quite strong enough as it is if only it were to be enforced, and, therefore, I do not think that any fresh legislation is necessary. I do, however, consider that something ought to be done to show our opinion of this memorial which has been brought before us. We are the beneficial owners of some 850 livings and various deaneries and bishoprics. The first Lord of the Treasury and the Lord Chancellor, who advise the Queen, have the patronage of these livings, and they are held by Her Majesty in trust for the nation. They are not bought by her own private money, and she holds them on trust and deals with them on the advice of her responsible Minister, and that Minister is responsible to us. Therefore, the exercising of such patronage is a matter 803 which this House may very properly deal with, and it seems to me that we, as representing the nation, are perfectly justified in saying that, whatever he the merits of this question, these clergymen have distinctly told us that they only obey the Church, and that they do not care one jot for our laws and our courts, and, therefore, we are justified in asking that, in the exercise of that patronage, it should not he given to any man who may be presumed in the first instance to hold this lawless view, unless you are satisfied that if you appoint him he will not use the vantage ground of the position in which you place him to defy the law and the courts. My right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury recognised this in his reply to a question on the 2nd of March, two days after this manifesto appeared. He was challenged about Church patronage, and, speaking for himself and the Chancellor, he distinctly stated that ho would not recommend for appointment Jury clergyman unless he was convinced that he would obey the Bishops. Now, I ask the House to approve of that declaration, although I submit that it does not go quite far enough. In the first place, it binds only the right honourable Gentleman and the Lord Chancellor; but all Ministers should be bound to it, and a Resolution of this House will bind not only the present Government, but also their successors in office, and I hope it will be a loner time before they have any successors. By expressing our approval in this way we shall strengthen their hands against the influences brought to bear upon Ministers to appoint clergymen without first satisfying themselves upon this head. It does not go far enough because it speaks only of obedience to the Bishops; but the whole gist of the memorial, as I have shown, is not so much obedience to the Bishops as obedience to the Ecclesiastical courts of law which is objected to. Let us remember that while the courts are there they are there to declare the law, and what they declare to be the law is the law, and it is not for any man to say "It is not binding on me and I claim the right of breaking it." I do not agree with all that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire wrote in his letters upon this subject, nor do I admire his truculent language, but there is too 804 much truth in his contention that this state of things has been brought about by the Bishops. According to the Attorney-General it has been brought about by their supineness. The Bishop of Winchester says it is laxity, but I am afraid that it has been brought about by their sympathy, and I may state this as a proof of it: The Bishop of St. Asaph and myself are both Vice-Presidents of the Church Missionary Society, which completes its hundredth year today. We were announced to speak for that society on the same platform in a place within his diocese next week, and he was good enough to declare that unless my name was withdrawn he would not speak at that meeting. In that Bishop, at all events, there was some sympathy. The Bishop of Bath and Wells recently and authoritatively desired his clergy not to reserve the Sacrament for the sick, as plainly directed by the Book of Common Prayer. Mr. Tracy, of Frome, promptly repudiated his Bishop's authority, and within a fortnight was offered, and he accepted, an important living at the hands of the Bishop of London. The vicar of St. Alban's, Holborn, being recently forbidden by his Bishop to celebrate Requiem Masses, a service for the absolution of the dead, replied, not unnaturally, that these things had been practised in his Church for years without remonstrance by the Bishop of London, who is now the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, if the Bishops have been supine, they are now awake and have been awakened by the Debates in this House and the discussions in the newspapers, for both those Bishops have now condemned what they had casually, or laxly, or supinely, or sympathisingly allowed. Let us now strengthen their hands by passing this Resolution. The Archbishops have now pronounced many things illegal which perhaps they winked at before. The Archbishop of Canterbury says—It is very wrong to break the law, and the Bishops must put a stop to it.The Marquess of Salisbury has said that the Bishops, if they do not do what is right, must be punished, and I was very glad to see that he called their Lordships' attention to that. My right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury says that we must trust to the 805 courage and discretion of the Bishops. Now, if they find public opinion behind them, and they will see that this is so if you pass this Resolution, they will have plenty of courage, and I am not afraid of their discretion in that case overrunning their valour. I do not ask for any new test, and I do not ask for any repudiation. All I ask is that the Minister who recommends any of these clergy to the Queen shall first satisfy himself by inquiry that he is a man who will obey the law, for that is very much what my right honourable Friend has declared. It has been said that the words should be "obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book." Now, the Bishops I have dealt with already, but by the Prayer Book the members of the English Church Union mean the Prayer Book as they interpret it as associated with the teachings of five or six hundred years ago. The question is, are we to allow them to flout the authority of our courts by saying that they will obey the Dishops and the Prayer Book, but that they will interpret the Prayer Book according to their views, and not according to that court which alone has a right to say what the meaning of the language is. For these reasons I submit my Resolution in this slightly altered form to the House, and I hope the House will adopt it. If, on the other hand, the House should think it better to adopt my honourable Friend's Amendment, I will vote for it, but should regret it, be cause it evades the main question. But even as a substantive Resolution following this Motion, it may be of benefit, although I doubt very much whether anyone could move such a Resolution except by way of Amendment. I doubt very much whether anyone would propose that because certain members of the Church evinced a spirit of lawlessness that all the clergy should be treated in a particular way. It seems clearly more to the point to say that as a largo number of men, through their representatives have said that they will not obey the law as declared by the courts, we should insist that unless the responsible Minister is satisfied that they will obey the law so declared they shall not be recommended to Her Majesty for any permanent office whatever.
§ * COLONEL SANDYS (Lancs., Bootle)
In rising to second the Motion which 806 has been so ably proposed by my honourable Friend, I shall preface the few remarks I am going to make by saying that the honour of seconding this Motion has only been conferred upon me since I came down to the House this afternoon, and therefore, my seconding of what has been said must be taken in the light more or less of the few remarks expressing my concurrence in what the honourable Member has stated to the House rather than as a set speech upon an important subject. Now, I will first of all state that my reason for consenting to support the honourable Member who has just spoken is mainly because I agree with him that the object of members of the Church of England should be to maintain the Protestant Reformation Settlement, and I speak in that sense, from that standpoint, and from no other. All those who are in the Church of England, and who take their position upon grounds contrary to the Reformation Settlement are, no doubt, fully entitled to hold the views to which they lay claim. We live in a free country, and every man has a right to his own opinion; but where you have laws laid down for the guidance of the Church, those who refuse to obey them have clearly but one logical course open to them, and that is to go out of the Establishment to whose laws they are unable to conform. Therefore, in any remarks which I shall make, they will be on the grounds that we take the Church of England as established at the Reformation to be the Church of this country, and that none other is so. Now, in his remarks, the honourable Member who moved this Motion rendered to us in this House, and, I think, to the whole country, a great service in very clearly marking out the ground upon which we should conduct this discussion. It is always an advantage, when talking upon an important subject, to hove the ground upon which we are to move clearly fenced off and defined, so that we know what we are to deal with, and the remarks of the honourable Member for Walsall tended to show that what we are contending against is the refusal by a large body of clergymen of the Church of England to obey the decision of the courts of this country in what the English Church Union describes as "spiritual matters." I noticed 807 very carefully that the honourable Member asked what were spiritual matters, and who are spiritual persons? I confess that I should also like to have a satisfactory answer to that question, because it is widely believed that the Church of England recognises two orders, and two orders alone, as comprising her Body—namely, the clergy and the laity, and both possessing equal rights therein. But from the English Church Union we hear everything about the rights and claims of the clergy, but we hear nothing whatever of the rights of the laity, and, in point of fact, I have been informed by lawyers that from a purely legal point of view the rights of the laity in the Church of England are practically nonexistent, that is as against the rights of the clergy. There are a certain number of rights which have been created by custom, but they would be somewhat difficult to define by law. I trust that in future legislation this omission will be remedied, but I hope that this House will not occupy its time at present by attempting to legislate upon this subject. We trust that in future legislation the rights of the laity in the Church of England, whose power is coordinate with that of the clergy, will be clearly and unmistakably defined, and the remarks of my honourable Friend, the mover of this Motion, have shown very clearly that something of that sort will probably be found desirable. Now, we are face to face with this position, that the leader of the clerical opposition has taken up the ground of avowing a spirit of lawlessness, and also defying the jurisdiction of the Courts of the realm. We are here face to face with a great constitutional question. From a very early period in the history of this country there has been this struggle on the part of the clergy, but it was when the Church was Roman Catholic, and from that period to the days of the English Church Union the same question has been revived—frequently in earlier days—as to the supremacy of the clergy of the Church of the land with regard to the jurisdiction of the lay courts in reference to them and over the Church to which they belong. This is no new question that we are brought face to face with, for if you refer back to the annals of Parliament, to the earlier days of our Constitution, you will find that their enactments for the time 808 being, at any rate, effectually put a stop to this claim on the part of the clergy, and that claim, having now been revived in its old bare-faced arrogance, the clergy of this country, for some unknown reason, are setting themselves against the decision of the courts with this old and often refuted form of error, which cannot be substantiated, and which has been defeated over and over again by the legislation of this House. I trust, therefore, that the House of Commons, acting on precedents, to which I have referred, will not shrink from giving a clear expression of its opinion upon this very definite issue contained in the Motion of the honourable Member for Walsall. As he stated, in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth centuries, Parliament has already interfered in the administration of the law of the Church, and has decided what should or should not be done with reference to its ritual, ceremonies and laws. I put aside the question of doctrine, because that is a matter which does not interfere at the present time, and it not before us; but I recollect very clearly the time when the last revision of the Prayer Book took place by the House of Commons, for I have a facsimile of the Book itself, which I believe to be now in the library of another place, where all the corrections which were made when the House of Commons sanctioned the alterations were photographed under the direction of the late Archbishop of Canterbury—the corrections are made in pen and ink, and both the corrections and erasures can be seen in the fac-simile photographs from that copy. That was done by order of the House of Commons dealing with the test of the Prayer Book itself. Surely what the House of Commons did then it is still competent to do at the present time, and honourable Members need not shrink from doing the same thing again when the proper time arrives. My honourable Friend's point was that promotion should not be given to clergymen unless they satisfied the Minister of the Crown, who had the distribution of the patronage of the Church, that they would obey in letter as well as in spirit the Articles of the Church of England and its laws as understood by men of common-sense and ordinary judgment. What has happened? Heretofore cler- 809 gymen, apparently, have entered the Church under conditions which are clearly understood by most people, under which they undertake to accept and obey the laws of the Church, and they sign to their acceptance thereof. They take their ordination vows and promise to obey, but shortly after they enter the Church they appear to move heaven and earth to try and evade their responsibilities to those laws which they have just bound themselves over to obey. In any other public body but the Church, would such a state of things be tolerated for one moment? Is it possible to conceive in any branch of the public service that a man would enter, assert his acceptance of the conditions of that service, and then set to work and evade those conditions in every possible way. I am sorry to say that this is so in the Church of England, and there exists a large body of responsible, clever, and earnest-minded men who think it right to act in this underhand and sophistical way. We hear in this House a good deal to the affect that we are accustomed to deal with things on common-sense principles, but as I understand the matter, it seems clear that common sense is equally applicable to matters of religion, as it is to those applying to everyday conduct in life, and in judging matters affecting the Church of England, and of the obedience of the clergy to the laws and the canons which they sign at their ordination, we may apply the ordinary rules of common sense, and such intellect as is given to us for the purpose. We may be sure that if we apply this justly and fairly we shall arrive at a correct conclusion and a satisfactory solution of the matter before us. What is the case with regard to the position as acknowledged by Lord Halifax in what I must characterise as the somewhat impudent memorandum which has been sent round to Members of the House? I regard it as trifling with the intelligence of Members of this House that any member of the Church of England should have sent such a memorandum to us. It is what I might call the concentrated spirit of lawlessness; it is a rebellion against the constituted authorities of the land. We have put no pressure upon these gentlemen of the English Church Union to obey the laws of the Church. They came in voluntarily—they stated that they were 810 willing to undertake the responsibility of a certain office and to obey the rules and conditions attaching thereto. But now, after having accepted them, they wish to fling the rules and conditions on one side and place their own interpretations upon them. They do not wish to obey even the Pope (whom they ought to obey if they are logical), but each one sets himself up as his own Pope, and declares that Parliament is an authority which cannot be accepted in this matter. They declare that courts of law are of no avail in the matter and that they alone are to choose their own court, and each one of them is to judge his own case, should his own court decide against him. I do not propose, Mr. Speaker, to carry this matter any further at the present time. I do not think that I have in any sense exaggerated the position. Perhaps I may be pardoned for saying that when I saw the Motion on the Paper I was rather sorry, because I see that on the 10th of May a Bill is going to be brought forward dealing with the whole question, and I believe that I am to have the honour of seconding the Pill when it is brought forward in this House for Second Reading. Therefore I will not now trouble the House with any further remarks upon this subject. I entirely agree with the position taken up by my honourable Friend, which I think is both logical and right, and, if I may venture to say so, I think the House will do well to support his Motion. I most heartily support the Resolution which has been brought forward by my honourable Friend.
To leave out from the word 'shown,' in line 2, to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'by certain members of the Church of England, and confidently hopes that the Ministers of the Crown will not recommend any clergyman for ecclesiastical preferment unless they are satisfied that he will loyally obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book.'"—(Mr. Samuel Hoare.)
§ MR. S. HOARE (Norwich)
I am sorry to find myself not in agreement with my two honourable Friends upon this occasion. Although I cannot agree with the Motion put forward by my honourable Friend the Member for Walsall, I can say that I do very cordially agree with a great deal of what he said, and with many points upon which he 811 touched. I am sure that if I do disagree with him in this respect, there is one thing upon which we are both probably agreed, and that is that in the proceedings of this evening nothing should be done to injure that Church the development of which we both have at heart, and of which we are attached members, and if my honourable Friend has thought it right to take one course for the good of the Church he will give me credit for taking the course I do, and believe that I am actuated in the course I am taking by the same good motive. I have felt a great difficulty ever since I saw the Motion of my honourable Friend on the Paper of this House. Everyone, I think, will realise that at the present time there are great and serious difficulties in our Church, but we must remember, after all, that while those difficulties are discussed often, perhaps generally, by members of the Church who occupy a somewhat extreme position either on one side or the other, that after all the safety and well-being of the Church must depend upon the great mass of moderate Churchmen who have not closely associated themselves either with one party or the other, but who have been content as Churchmen—and perhaps humble Churchmen—to do what they could for the good of that Church without entering into controversies which are before us. That is the case with myself, and I hope by the course I am taking that it will not be thought that our anxiety for the good of the Church has been shown in any less degree than has been shown by those honourable Members who have taken part in this discussion. We have watched this controversy with the deepest anxiety, and we have realised that this is a time when all Churchmen should think seriously for themselves; when all Churchmen should act, and if they take no part in the controversy in the newspapers, at any rate they should do their utmost, and all that lies within their power not to widen the differences, not to increase our difficulties, but to endeavour to see if it is not possible to lessen those difficulties, and smooth them away with a view to arriving at a settlement. Now, my honourable Friend has based his Motion to-day upon what I think is the very unfortunate memorial of a large section of our Church called the English Church Union. I will 812 say at once that I think that memorial has been most unfortunate, not only in what is contained in it, but also in the manner in which it was issued, and the time at which it was issued. We almost forget, because the time passes so quickly, that it is scarcely nine months since this controversy on the affairs of the Church was first taken up seriously in the Press. It is only within the last few months that we have fully realised the gravity of the question, and yet I would say at once that as a Churchman I rejoice to see what progress has been made during those few months to settle some of the greatest difficulties which have ever been brought before us which have been involved in this controversy. My honourable Friend alluded, and alluded rightly, to the fact—and I am ready to support him in his view—that the Debates in this House and the letters in the papers had awakened the whole Church, including the highest dignitaries in the Church. But let this House for a moment consider what steps the Bishops have taken in the matter. I believe I am right in saying that in every diocese—almost, if not in every diocese—communications have passed between the Bishops and those clergymen whom the Bishops were satisfied were not acting up to their duties, or were carrying out extreme services which were not in accordance with the Prayer Book. I think I am right, in saying that in scarcely any instance, so far as I have seen, have those communications been received with any other feeling than that of a desire to meet the counsels of the Bishops. Our newspapers tell us day by day that which we can only find in newspapers, how this and that extreme member of the English Church Union have given up certain services in which they firmly believed and have given up a ritual to which they attached the greatest importance. I have not myself seen any instance where there has been a direct refusal to listen to the Counsels of the Bishops in this matter. I have seen also, and we all know it is a fact, that where communications have passed with other members of the Church who do not belong to the English Church Union that they too have, I believe, readily made those alterations in their services which the Bishops counselled them to make. It is quite true that we have seen great progress made to meet 813 these difficulties during the last few months. Then, again, the Bishops have considered whether or not further legislation was desirable in order to avoid these difficulties in the future, and the Bishops have decided that a Bill on the lines of a Bill suggested in 1888 by Archbishop Benson would, at any rate, be one worthy of the consideration of the Church. That Bill, I would remind the House, was put into chape only after a conference of some of our greatest Church authorities and some of the most valued men we could select in the Church. That Bill has not been considered by Convocation and has not yet been introduced into the other House of Parliament. The Archbishop has told us that he was strongly impressed with the idea that legislation should be carried out, if it had to be carried out, with the utmost thought and care, and in no hasty way, nor in any spirit of temper. That Bill I believe all of us will own might be of great advantage to the Church, and I believe it is a Bill that could be amended still further, and one which would make the clergy more in harmony with the views of the various sections of the Church. The two Archbishops have met together, and they have proposed to hold an Appeal Committee, or an Appeal Court—I would prefer to call it an Appeal Court—to hear appeals where the Bishops and clergy are unable to settle their differences. Now, I attach the very greatest importance to the law made by the Archbishops, I look upon this question as a Churchman, and not, perhaps, as my honourable Friend does, who is so well acquainted with the law. As a Churchman, I shall look upon the decision of the Archbishops as decisions that we ought to consider in the same light that we should consider the decisions of any other court, I think I shall be able to show a little later on that if this court only possess the confidence of the clergy and the laity of this country a great many of our difficulties will be removed and a great deal of those matters which now cause us trouble will be settled. I am quite prepared to own with my honourable Friend that the memorial of the English Church Union has placed moderate Churchmen in a very difficult position. I do not deny the difficulties, but they must give us credit for loving 814 our Church as much as they do, and we desire to be as loyal to that Church as they do. But when we see one important section issuing at this unfortunate time a manifesto containing most controversial points, and not ready to listen to any discussion, and as it were making the law for the Church themselves, I confess that that memorial has been not only ill-timed, but I think also very ill-advised. But, as I have said before, some progress has been made, and some attempt is being made to meet those very difficulties which the English Church Union have put forward, and just at the very time when we were so engaged, and when some real progress was being made, I think it was extremely unfortunate for the sake of the old Church that the English Church Union should have issued to every member of the two Houses of Parliament a memorial which could not but give rise to fresh disputes, and which could not but reopen in a still more acute form those questions which we as Churchmen were longing to see settled. My honourable Friend will probably ask me why I cannot agree at once with the first part of his Motion. Now, I cannot do so, for although I am ready to own that the action of the English Church Union has been unfortunate and is an action with which I entirely disagree, as a Churchman I cannot so easily lay aside that which my honourable Friend alluded to as a fact, namely, that there are other sections in the Church where there is a want of discipline and a want of obedience to the Bishops. I feel, therefore, that if this House were to pass this Motion it would be doing a very serious thing, for I know not whether the House has been asked in recent years to do such a thing. If we pass a Motion expressing our disapproval of lawlessness in the Church, let us, as Churchmen, pass a Motion which embraces the whole of our Church, so that on the records of this House there may be a Motion which applies to the whole of the Church, and not to this or that portion of it. Let us lay it down that the House of Commons by a Motion which it has passed has determined that there should not be lawlessness in the Church in whatever section such lawlessness may appear, and do not let us apply the Motion to that one particular section of the Church which has been brought so prominently before the 815 House to-day. To-day it is the English Church Union, but it has sometimes been the Broad Church Party, and it sometimes may be other parties in the Church who are to blame. Therefore, I think this House will be better advised if we are to pass a Motion, and if it is considered that such a Motion is desirable, then let it be one which will act for all time, and act for all the difficulties which may occur in any part or section of the Church. My honourable Friend expresses himself with reference to this matter, and said that he believed that there was a want of discipline in other sections of the Church, but that in this particular instance it was a marked want of discipline, and he thought that if we passed our condemnation of this marked instance we might do good in other cases. In this agitation which has been going on all Churchmen must have been grieved from time to time at seeing the way in which it has been carried on by certain opponents of the English Church Union. We have seen the law broken, and we have seen it broken by that layman who has taken the most active part in the agitation, and I believe I am right in saying that not merely every Churchman, but every Christian and good thinking man in this country, has had his heart wounded by the action of Mr. Kensit in interfering with and upsetting congregations during the time of the most sacred service of the Church which they could attend. English Churchmen have been grieved when they have seen a member of their church and a clergyman openly defying from a Nonconformist pulpit his Party while at the same time he is taking a leading part in the agitation against the English Church Union. If I am nothing else, I cannot but be an honest Churchman, and I realise that there is a culpable neglect of discipline in many other portions of our Church besides that neglect of discipline which has been for the moment brought so prominently before us which applies to the English Church Union. If we pass a Resolution, let it be a comprehensive one, so that once and for all time there may be recorded the opinion of this House that lawlessness and want of disicipline in the Church cannot exist within the Church, and that it is against the interests not only of the Church but of the country itself. Now, 816 Sir, I come to the second portion of my right honourable Friend's Motion, and that is with reference to patronage. I confess that unless there is a good precedent, I personally should regard it as a very grave mistake for the House to adopt it. In these days we must have confidence in someone. We must believe that there are some people in this country who will endeavour to do their duty, not merely as Churchmen, but as citizens also. Therefore, Sir, while I am willing to express the hope, and the confident hope, that Ministers will always exercise the greatest caution in their Church appointments, I should like to know whether the Resolution, which is directed against a special section of the Church, is to apply to every member of the Church.
§ MR. S. HOARE
I am very glad to find that my honourable Friend has so far shown that he agrees with my view; still, I must go back to the first part of the Motion to make good what I wish to say on that point, and that is, that assuming that the English Church Union have shown lawlessness and want of discipline, and assuming that they will not submit to this House, or to the Crown, or to any court—assuming everything—I should like to ask the House whether we are right in taking the course suggested by my honourable Friend to-day. Are we right in forming ourselves into an ecclesiastical court for the purpose of censuring the English Church Union? I will say at once that I think we should be making a very great mistake. And what would be the result if we pass a Resolution like this? The result would be that the members of the English Church Union would feel that they had been treated in a different way from other members of the Church—that they were receiving censure because they had shown lawlessness, while we expressed no opinion as to any of the lawlessness in the Church, wherever it might be. What would be the result? They would feel—not to use strong words—semimartyrs. We may rest assured that any such treatment would probably lead to a great strengthening of their num- 817 bers and to increasing the differences between them and us. If this matter were pressed—and I trust it will never be pressed—to am extreme point, the Church may suffer the loss of many of its most devoted clergy. There are many men to whose views we are opposed, but we must give them the credit for the fact that they are most devoted servants of the Church, and that they are doing the best they can for the people amongst whom they live. The Amendment which I have put on the Paper expresses in general terms disapproval of lawlessness in the Church, and in matters of patronage, expresses the confident hope that Her Majesty's Ministers will satisfy themselves that the clergy they appoint to high preferment are prepared to obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book. My honourable Friend criticises me for not having added "and ecclesiastical courts." He says himself that he does not believe that obedience to the Bishops and obedience to the Prayer Book would meet that which he would like to require from the English Church Union. I think that if anyone reads the Ordination Service of our priests, or the Consecration Service of our Bishops, and will study the solemn oath that they take, he will see that obedience to the Prayer Book and the Bishops ought to render ecclesiastical courts practically unnecessary, except in very few cases. Now, Sir, I have no desire to weary this House, but I do ask it very seriously indeed to pause before they pass a Resolution directed against one body in our Church. I would ask them, without going too far back into history, to realise what has taken place in other agitations of the same character. I would ask them to consider whether in every case during the last 200 years, where there has been an agitation against one section of the Church, that agitation has always proved to be a wise and desirable one. I will only trouble the House by reminding honourable Members of one incident. The present state of our Church is sometimes traced to what is called the Oxford Movement. I would ask you to carry your recollection back to an earlier Oxford Movement—to 1727, when three undergraduates—John Wesley, of Lincoln, Charles Wesley, of Christ Church, and George Whitefield, of Pembroke—impressed with the 818 neglect of the Services of the Church, started the Methodist Movement. May I remind you of what John Wesley, in his own words, said?—Soon after we all agreed to communicate as often as we could, which was then once a week, at Christ Church. In April 1732 Mr. Clayton, of Brasenose College, began to meet with us. It was by his advice that we began to observe the Fasts of the ancient Church every Wednesday and Friday. This was the beginning of the Methodist Society.Now, Sir, I allude to this early Oxford movement, in order that I may remind the House of how they are treated by the Church. I think it will be agreed that they were treated very much in the same way as the Members of the English Church Union have beer, treated during the last few months. Let me first remind you that their special duty and special determination was to attend the services and the celebrations of the Holy Communion. This is what was said of them—It was commonly reported that John Wesley was a Papist, if not a Jesuit; that he kept Popish priests in his houses; nay, it was beyond dispute that he received large remittances from Spain in order to make a party among the poor, and when the Spaniards landed he was to join them with 20,000 men.This remark about the early Christians almost reminds me of a remark made by an honourable Member opposite in a Church Debate, when he hinted that some believed that foreign money was brought over for the present Church controversy. I should like to remind my honourable Friend the Mover of the Resolution of the reception John Wesley got at Walsall, the constituency he so well represents, when he went to get the protection of the magistrates—It was about 7 when they (Wesley and his friends) arrived, and the magistrate sent out word he was in bed, and could not be spoken with.They intended to make their way home, but—The cry had arisen in Walsall that Wesley was there. His friends were presently overpowered, and he was left in the hands of a rabble too infuriated to hear him speak…He made a stand, however, at a door, and asked if they would hear him speak. Many cried out 'No, no!' 'Knock his brains out!' 'Down with him!' 'Kill him at once!' A more atrocious exclamation was uttered by one or two wretches, 'I almost tremble,' said Wesley, 'to relate it,' 'Crucify the dog; crucify him!'819 Well, Mr. Speaker, we know what was the result of the agitation. We know that it did not lead to a great accession to the Romish Church. Churchmen know —and know with the deepest regret—that it led to a great secession of grand supporters of our Church, of men we could ill afford to lose, and whom we should be glad, and indeed rejoice, to see once more in the Church. Now, Sir, bearing this in mind, I hope the House will not by resolution attack one body of Christiana. I have not alluded to the more historical points—these will probably be dealt with later in the Debate—but no Englishman, be he Churchman or Nonconformist, can read the history of our Church without feeling justly proud of the glorious work it has done, and I hope that any action taken to-day will not be an attack on any section, but that we shall show that laity and clergy are opposed to any spirit of lawlessness and want of discipline. I must apologise, Mr. Speaker, for detaining the House so long, but it is a matter upon which I, with many others, feel warmly. As Churchmen we have a heavy responsibility upon our shoulders. Too much has been done to widen differences, and we long to see these differences in some way reduced. I appeal to any member of the English Church Union, should any such be present, to think earnestly of his position as a member of the Church with a determination to join with others in adherence to the great Reformation settlement and in upholding the great traditions of our Church. I am confident that the English people will never admit compulsory confession among the doctrines of the Church of England. In the firm belief that the Church in the future will be as in the past a great blessing to the country, I move the Amendment of which I have given notice.
§ MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
I second the Amendment, because I think a general statement that the House deplores the spirit of lawlessness shown by some of the clergy is preferable to a sole attack on the English Church Union, whose leader has undoubtedly talked of disobeying the Bishop in certain contingencies, and spoken as if he rejected the authority of Parliament over the Church. It follows that if the term "lawlessness" is used in the Amend- 820 ment it will cover conduct such as this without Confining the condemnation to a special section of Churchmen when others have also erred in the same direction. I know of men of High Church opinions who joined the English Church Union years ago, and had no idea of defying the Bishops or Parliament, and they would be less likely to embrace extreme doctrines if the Amendment of the honourable Member for Norwich was carried than if the Motion of the honourable Member for Walsall gained a majority. I speak as an old-fashioned Protestant Churchman, who believes that the Compromise of 1559 contained the kernel of all that is known in the term Church of England. There is alike historic continuity and Protestant truth contained in that settlement. Lord Burleigh and Archbishop Parker had to deal with the very same parties and face similar difficulties to those which confront Archbishop Temple and Lord Salisbury at the present time. Hence it is that I have endeavoured to move a Resolution which enjoins the faithful observance of this famous historical settlement, but have given way to the Amendment I am seconding, which, in calling on the clergy to obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book, requires that they should do the self-same things. I deprecate the tendency in certain Church societies to assume that no crisis exists, whereas, in my opinion, it will tax the statesmanship of all parties to deal with the present difficulties. I cannot agree with those who desire to alter the Prayer Book, but hope that the present expansion, warranted by the Thirty-nine Articles, will be retained. It is satisfactory to see a union of Churchmen of all parties on the platforms of the Church Missionary Society during their Centenary, now in progress. I believe that the improvement in law and order which the Bishops have already brought about will increase under such influences as these, and in conclusion I would express the hope that Her Majesty's Government, speaking by the mouth of the First Lord of the Treasury, will make an announcement calculated to calm the anxieties of the nation, and ensure the maintenance of a Protestant but comprehensive national Church.
§ * THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
It is certainly inevitable and prob- 821 ably right that when a question is deeply agitating the minds of communities out of doors, some echo of their feelings should be heard, some attempt to deal with the controversy in which they are interested should be made within these walls; but, Sir, I confess that it is with shrinking, and almost with dislike, that I find myself compelled to take part now, not for the first, second, or third time, in these Debates, because I am deeply conscious that in these ecclesiastical disputes the desire of too many of the contending parties is not to see how far they can arrive at a common understanding, but how this or that word, uttered, it may be, without due consideration or the requisite qualifications, may be twisted in such a sense as to aggravate instead of allaying the inevitable bitterness of controversy. I must congratulate both my honourable Friend who moved the original Resolution, and my honourable Friend who moved the Amendment to that Resolution, on the anxious care they have shown, while clearly expressing their own convictions, to say nothing which would unnecessarily wound the feelings or conscience of any from whom they may differ; and, in the few words I am about to address to the House, I shall endeavour, as far as may be, to follow the example which they have so well set. I may, perhaps, briefly say, on the subject of the comparative merits of the Resolution and the Amendment to the Resolution that, while I thoroughly understand, and sympathise with, the views the honourable Member for Walsall has ably put before us, I greatly prefer—if the House of Commons desires to express an opinion, and perhaps it ought to express an opinion, on the spirit of lawlessness now unfortunately existing in certain sections of the Church—that the expression of opinion should stand in our records in the form suggested in the Amendment rather than in that of the Resolution. I prefer the Amendment for more than one reason—in the first place, because I think it is a pity we should censure by name any particular association either of Churchmen or of any other section of the community. My honourable Friend says that the English Church Union have 822 thrown down a challenge to this House, and that we are bound to take it up. I do not agree with this principle. I think it is not for the dignity of the House that it should think itself bound to pass a Resolution whenever some course to which the majority of our Members object is taken by an entirely extraneous body. I venture also to point out to my honourable Friend that the terms of his Motion an regards the English Church Union are open to a further objection. A Resolution passed in those terms has about it all the air of persecution, while it is not persecution that hurts anybody. Now, Sir, I am against persecution in all its forms. But if we are to persecute, let us persecute to some purpose. If we are to make an attack upon any body of persons of a kind which can be described as persecution, let that attack be an effectual attack. Let it not take the shadowy and unsubstantial form of an abstract Resolution. Remember that while this House is, in one sense, almost omnipotent—at all events for many purposes—while it can practically make and unmake Ministries and Governments, when it simply contents itself by passing an abstract Resolution on a Tuesday afternoon, it may be well occupied or ill occupied, but it is not, at all events, more effectively occupied than any other debating society. The Resolution—I do not care how it is framed, whether in language more stringent than my honourable Friend has adopted or not—would be perfectly ineffectual to alter the action or affect the course of conduct of any person outside these walls. I go even further, and say that by our constitutional practice, whilst Ministers may depend on a Vote of the House, and do so depend, they are not bound by a Resolution passed under the circumstances to which I have referred. My honourable Friend says that if the Resolution were passed, not only would the present Government be bound, but also their successors. My honourable Friend is mistaken. Governments are not bound by these abstract Resolutions of the House of Commons, and I have at this moment in my mind a very pertinent case which will probably be within the recollection of some right honourable Gentlemen opposite, when the House of Commons passed a Resolution with regard to the Executive action of the Government, and within a few weeks 823 that Government deliberately ignored the Resolution of the House of Commons and acted in a precisely contrary sense. It is always open to the House of Commons to pass a vote of censure on Ministers, but until such vote of censure is passed, an abstract Resolution of the House of Commons does not bind the Government of the day, and still less their successors. In addition to these reasons there is the further objection to the Resolution—that it does not cover the whole ground. This House objects, and rightly objects, to lawlessness in the Church, but it does not object to it more in the case of the English Church Union than in the case of any other body. In passing, therefore, this Resolution we should only weaken such moral authority as we may possess by restricting the terms of our decision in the manner my honourable Friend proposes. For these reasons I shall certainly vote for the Amendment, and I have some hopes that perhaps my honourable Friend the Member for Walsall will himself see that there is force in the objections which have been raised, and, as he has expressed his own concurrence in the Amendment, he may not press his Resolution to a division, but may be contented with what I hope will be a unanimous decision on the part of the House in favour of the Amendment of the honourable Member for Norfolk. Turning now from the special points raised by the terms of the Resolution, let me touch on the general question to which it refers. And I will begin by repeating what I have said on other occasions—namely, that the danger which the English Church is now incurring, and the divisions from which it is suffering, are not questions merely, or even principally, of technical obedience to the law; they are questions of loyalty to an institution. It is for this reason that I do not believe any effectual remedy can be found for our present troubles by merely increasing the stringency of existing remedies against lawlessness. It is for this reason that I so deeply deplore the recent enunciation of policy by certain members of the English Church Union. Of the many criticisms which have been passed upon this document, the one which is at once the most de- 824 served and the most damaging is that it enunciates principles wholly inconsistent with loyalty to the Church of which its framers are members. Let the House note that I refrain from going beyond this statement. I do not say, for instance, that these gentlemen are guilty of what is commonly called Romanising. I do not use that phrase because I understand that they have themselves asserted that they do not agree with the defined doctrines of the Roman Church, that they do not agree in all points with its discipline or ritual, and that they are not prepared to accept the principles of Papal supremacy. Therefore, Sir, I do not charge them with Romanising, but I do charge them with a desire so to alter, both in its forms and in its spirit, the traditional character of the Church to which they belong as to make it practically unrecognisable by its most distinguished and most loyal sons for three centuries, and I hold that this desire, however honourable in its motives, however disinterested—and I believe it to be both honourable and disinterested—is not consistent with loyalty to the Church of England. Now, Sir, I have often asked myself why it is that the great body of the High Church Party, who are undoubtedly loyal to the Church, who undoubtedly have their legitimate place within its fold, have not frankly joined with other moderate sections in the Church and openly dissociated themselves from the school of thought which I have ventured to indict in language perhaps strong, but certainly not stronger, in my judgment, than the facts of the case warrant. I believe the reason is that, in addition to their distinctive doctrines (on which I shall have more to say in a moment), the English Church Union have championed with great force two important doctrines from which I, at all events, do not dissent, and which, properly interpreted, I think are not only religious truths, but I had almost said religious truisms. One of these is that the members of the English Church belong not only to the English Church, but to I the Church Universal; and the other is that the English Church, though it be an established Church, nevertheless has, 825 and ought to have, a spiritual independence of its own. These are two principles which I do not believe are denied by any important section of opinion in or out of the Church. I have heard certain individuals described as Erastians, and there may be Erastians among us. But there is no school of Erastianism among us. I believe there is no large body of educated opinion worth considering, which does not recognise, as certainly I recognise, that for any religious community to regard itself as a mere Department of the State—a religious branch, as it were, of the Civil Service—is to abandon all hope of spiritual growth, and to expose itself unprotected to the most deadening of unspiritual influences. But personally I am quite ready to go further. I am one of those who have always desired to see greater spiritual autonomy given to the English Church. It may be that being a Scotchman, living in Scotland, and seeing how the Established Church of Scotland is constituted and how it works, I am prejudiced in favour of giving to the sister Established Church those liberties which the Scotch Established Church enjoys in such full measure. I do not, therefore, share the admiration which my honourable Friend the mover of the Motion professes for the Privy Council, though that is a question which, for obvious reasons, I forbear from discussing at the present moment. But if there are grounds for desiring a reform of the Church of England in the direction of giving greater autonomy to Convocation, and greater power to the laity—who are the obstacles to such a reform being pressed forward by all sections of Church opinion throughout the country, High, Low, and Broad? Sir, they are the people who, like Lord Halifax, and those who follow Lord Halifax, make no secret of the fact that they regard the history of the Church of England for the last three centuries as an unprofitable parenthesis in the history of the Church Universal, and who frankly admit that they would like to see the ritual of the Church modified in a sense which would bring it, if not into absolute conformity, 826 at any rate, into very close agreement, with the ritual which existed in the Church of Home in the immediate pre-Reformation days. I think I am not distorting the sense of the English Church Union declaration when I interpret it in the manner I have described. I have the document here; it is probably in the recollection of the House, and I do not think it necessary to read the paragraphs to which I specially refer. But if those paragraphs mean anything they mean, in the first place, that the English Church has no tradition of its own worth consideration in the matter of ritual. In fact, that, I think, is stated in terms—A Church which, prescribing a service for Ascension Day,….has yet for long periods of time acquiesced in a general neglect of Ascension Day, has no continuous tradition or practice which can be annealed to as evidence of what it enjoins or forbids.That is their first proposition. Their second proposition is that on á priori grounds they are convinced that the Priests who at the time of the Reformation became the first clergy of the Reformed Church of England must have carried into the ritual of that Church the practices to which they had been accustomed while still in obedience to Rome. And their conclusion from these two allegations is, that unless a practice is specifically forbidden by the Prayer Book (they being the judges of which is specifically forbidden), all these pre-Reformation practices are not merely permissible but praiseworthy, and that the Church has no corrective tradition to which appeal may legitimately be made in such a state of things. According to this theory the Clergy of the Church of England have a kind of roving commission to inquire into the ritual practices before the Reformation, and unless any of these practices are specially forbidden in terms which commend themselves as binding to their minds, they are at liberty to introduce them into their services, however great may be the revolution in the immemorial usage of the Church of England which is effected thereby. Now, Sir, a man may be a very honest and a very good man 827 while holding these views, but he is not, in my judgment, a loyal member of the Church of England; and those who think as I think, that some increased autonomy may well be given to the clergy and the laity of the Church of England, those who desire to see her spiritual freedom increased and assured, find, and must find, the main obstacle to the fulfilment of any such policy in the profound and not unjustifiable irritation which the theory I have just explained has produced, and is producing in that great body of moderate opinion in this country, which, after all, desires to see the Church of England remain what it was in the days of Hooker, in the days of Butler, in the days of the great Evangelical movement associated with the name of Mr. Simeon, and of the great High Church movement associated with the names of Mr. Keble and Dr. Pusey. Sir, the men I have mentioned held widely different opinions—all were loyal members of the Church of England—for all of them the ritual of that Church, as it has been practised from the days of Hooker to our own, has been sufficient; and I think that a good cause cannot be worse served than by allowing the questions of spiritual autonomy, and the fellowship of the Universal Church to be, I will not say monopolised, but used as the flag of a Party which desires evidently to transform, to revolutionise, and, I should say, to destroy the Church of which they are members. I do not profess myself to take a very confident, a very sanguine view of the future of this controversy. I acknowledge that the more I watch its progress the more difficult it appears to me to steer the course of this controversy through all the rocks and shoals which surround it; but if there be a hope—and there is a hope—for the future of the Established Church of this country, it lies, and, in my opinion, can only lie, in the resolute determination of all men who are sincerely loyal to the worship, the ritual, and the doctrines of the Church of England, to unite together, even though there be important differences dividing them upon other subjects, to express their firm resolution that neither by one set of extremists nor by the other shall this great Church 828 be torn asunder. There is one class of the community who make no show in the public papers, who do not appear on platforms, who neither publish letters nor make speeches, for whom I would venture to plead. After all, Sir, while we are disputing about ecclesiastical matters of relatively small importance, there are vast questions lying at the very root of ail religion which are being called in doubt by those very far removed from the plane of controversy on which we are unfortunately forced to dwell. Those questions press heavily upon the minds and consciences of a large body of the earnest laity of this country, and I am convinced that no greater injury can be done to the cause of religion than to compel them to witness from day to day so many ministers of religion apparently absorbed in disputes, which, compared with the subjects to which I have referred, are as nothing in the balance. I grieve to think that there is not merely an injury—perhaps an irreparable injury—being done to the fabric of the Church of England, but that there is an injury also being done to the whole cause of religion. That injury can only be mitigated, these dangers can only be met, by the frank resolve of men of all shades of moderate opinion to work together; and, though, perhaps, I have no title to do so, I would appeal more particularly to that great body of High Church opinion which I feel confident does not sympathise with the extravagances and excesses of a small but active school, but which has hitherto stood timorously aloof, afraid lest by declaring themselves against the extreme Ritualists they should be imperilling doctrines to which they attach the utmost value, and with which, as I have already said, I largely sympathise. I think this abstention most unfortunate. For their wishes never can have practical effect until they have convinced the great body of the laity of this country that by Church reform is not meant a wholesale revolution of Church ritual in the direction of Roman practices, and that the Church, on whose behalf they ask for a larger measure of autonomy, is in spirit, as well as in name, identical with that branch of the Universal Church 829 which now for 300 years and more has been doing such magnificent service to the cause of religion in this country.
§ * MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
Mr. Speaker, I am sure we must all have been moved by the noble words which have just fallen from the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. The words of the First Lord hardly sufficiently describe the position in which the House of Commons finds itself to-day. It is not merely because of the public excitement outside that we are discussing this question, nor is it merely because certain persons in the Church have indulged in practices which arouse popular indignation, but I think the reason why the House is bound seriously to face the matter is this, that a great constitutional question has been raised, for this House has been called upon to consider the relationship in which it stands to one of the great institutions of the land. I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that in this discussion we have not to take into account the character of people. It does not matter whether people are well-intentioned or not. Most of the mischief of the world is done by well-intentioned people who are going wrong. Also, what we have to consider is not merely that the English Church Union is tending towards Romanising practices, but that a great body, forming a large portion of an organisation in this country, has challenged us to consider in what relationship Parliament stands to the Church, and therefore I will confine myself to the constitutional question. Now, that constitutional question would be equally important whether these practices or this manifesto had come from the Low Church, or the Broad Church, or any other Party. We must leave out of our minds all considerations of Roman practices, and consider what is the attitude of the House of Commons, as one of the integral portions of the State, towards the Church, and when we come to consider that, we have to bear in mind that it is not a matter of mere theory. The Church has grown up as a portion of the British Constitution; it is the result of long historical processes, and we cannot properly understand what should be the relationship 830 of the State to the Church unless we consider what has been that relationship through all the developments of history. Therefore, I venture to call the attention of the House to the words of the manifesto of the English Church Union, which have been quoted before in this Debate—That we have denied, and do deny again, the right of the Crown or of Parliament to determine the doctrine or the discipline or the ceremonial of the Church.Now, we are this afternoon face to face with a very fundamental question, and that question is this: Has the State the right to determine, or to share in determining, these things, or has it not? How shall we get an answer to that question? I think by considering what has been the attitude of the State towards the Church throughout the past ages of history, and I should like to protest in the first place against what I consider the exaggerated estimate that has been put, not only in this House, but in the Press, and in public utterances generally, upon what is called the Reformation. I venture to say that the Church of England never did stand towards the State of England in anything like such a, relationship as is understood now when we use the term Roman Catholic. The idea seems to be general that the Roman Catholic Church has always been the same. We know its proud boast Semper Eadem. but upon going into the matter we find that the Roman Catholic Church has been changed from age to age, and that the position and attitude of the English State towards that Church has been determined by the changes in that Church itself. It is well known that compulsory confession was not insisted upon in the Roman Catholic Church until the thirteenth century, and that the celibacy of the clergy was not an article of Roman Catholic faith until the eleventh century. Indeed, two doctrines—the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility—have been added quite recently. I am not judging these doctrines, much less blaming them; I am simply pointing out that the Roman Catholic Church keeps changing. This fact is probably a necessity—it is certainly a sign—of its vitality. In this way the Roman Catholic Church has been changed from 831 age to age, but the attitude of the State of England towards that Church has practically remained the same. I venture to say it is necessary to bear this in mind, that there never has been in England a Church of the character that we mean by the expression Roman Catholic now. I am not passing any opinion, of course, on the Roman Catholic doctrines; I am not saying that these changes or developments were not wise, but I am saying that there were continual changes and developments, and that the State of England and the Church of England steadily resisted those developments from age to age, and that the Reformation was not a sudden process, but was the end of a long process that had been going on for hundreds of years. The Reformation was, indeed, the marching away from the field of battle of the troops after defeat in a struggle which had been going on for five centuries. I am more Protestant than the Protestants, because I hold that for centuries before the Reformation England was continually protesting against Papal claims to rule, and I think our English Church Union friends, if they would appeal to tradition, would find that they are not standing by the spirit of the Church of England in the true historical sense of the term. I should like the country to realise that the steady growth of the pretensions, if you like to call them, but certainly the claims, of the Roman Catholic Church, was steadily resisted in England, and that the State of England has always resisted these claims, and there has always been a National Church, as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church, as we consider it now. In the days of the Conquest, the Conqueror, who came here under Papal favour, asserted the fundamental principle that the State should insist on supremacy in all cases and over all persons ecclesiastical as well as civil, and this same principle has been asserted throughout the whole of English history. This resistance on the part of the State to growing Roman claims has always been supported by popular feeling. The Sovereigns of England who were popular have been those who resisted these claims, and the Sovereigns of England who have been unpopular have been those who yielded to them. Take the case of the Magna 832 Charta. What do you find? Remember, too, that Magna Charta was largely gained for the English people by the efforts of the heads of the Church. The first words of the Magna Charta are—That the English Church shall be free and enjoy all her rights in their integrity, and her liberties untouched.I believe that Magna Charta largely came to us through the yielding of King John to Papal claims. I believe that the cowardly surrender at Dover led to the lonely capitulation at Runnymede. The King had lost the national support because he had betrayed the national independence. And the same thing runs all through English history. We must remember that the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries were the ages of the Popes. All through these centuries the English State and Church resisted the Roman claims, and I would remind the House how steady and continuous that resistance was. The Roman Church tried to get possession of the land of the country, and the State replied by various Statutes of Mortmain; it tried to get control of appointments in the Church, and the State replied by various Statutes of Provisions, which forbade appeals from the civil courts to the Pope; it tried to weaken the civil power in the land, and the State replied by various Statutes of Provisors; it tried to get independent power for itself, and the State replied by various Statutes of Præmunire. These Statutes of resistance were repeated and strengthened again and again and mark, like memorials on battlefields, the whole panorama of English history, from the reign of Henry II. to that of Henry VII. Bishops were not appointed, nor Papal Pills admitted, nor Papal interference allowed without the approval and cooperation of the State. Every claim put forward by the Pope was met by a distinct act on the part of the State, and the Church of England acted with the State in resisting these claims. I came across some striking words in a petition presented by Parliament to the King in the 13th year of Richard III., in which it is stated that—The Crown of England, which has been so free at all times, that it has been in subjugation to no realm, but immediately to 833 God, and no other, ought not, in anything touching the regality, to be submitted to the Bishop of Rome, nor the laws of this realm by him frustrated.Three years afterwards all appeals to Rome, or even to the Ecclesiastical Courts in this county, were prohibited, and in 1395 there was a Remonstrance of People and Parliament, in which occur these remarkable words—This realm of England hath never been until this hour, neither by the consent of our Lord the King, nor the Lords of Parliament, shall it ever be ruled or governed by the common law.That was the fundamental principle of the Reformation, but it was not a new principle in English History; on the contrary, it marks its progress all along the ages. We pass from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which were the ages of the Popes, to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which were the ages of the Kings, and all through this period the State power was increasing, whilst the Papal power was declining. When we speak of the relationship of the State to the Church, we mean the whole State, consisting of three constituents—the Sovereign, the Lords, and the Commons. The proportion of power held by these various constituents varies from time to time, but we are only concerned with the totality of that power; and in this sense it is correct to say that the Stale of England has never yielded its supremacy to the Church, and that the Church of England, during all the thousand years preceding the Reformation, was never ruled from Rome as the Roman Catholic Church in this country is ruled now. It was always in a large degree a National Church, and the State never abandoned its right to interfere in the sense in which this manifesto of the English Church Union asks us to abandon it now. I therefore say, Mr. Speaker, that this manifesto is unconstitutional, because it asserts principles which this House of Commons has repudiated ever since it was a House of Commons. I now turn to the words "Determine the doctrine, discipline, and ceremonial of the Church." It has been pointed out that the term determine may be ambiguous. Does it mean to entirely determine? I think it means that the State should not take any part in determining these 834 things. I therefore ask the question, "Is it true that the State has ever claimed the right to take a part in determining the doctrine, the discipline, or the ceremonial of the Church of England?" I reply that the State has never abandoned that right. There is an idea that up to the Reformation there was one Roman Prayer Book in this country. On the contrary, there were always several Prayer Books in use, as the Sarum Missal, and others; now all these were local in origin, and therefore national in character. The fact is that there were two distinct reformations in England; a civil reformation under Henry VIII., when the State completely asserted that civil supremacy for which it had been always struggling; and a religious reformation begun under Edward VI, and completed under Elizabeth, when the State and Church together agreed that the Church of England should be disassociated from certain doctrines and ceremonies and practices which had been gradually developed in the Church of Rome. In every stage of this process the State exercised a power at least equal to that of the Church, and no matter of doctrine, or discipline, or ceremonial was determined without the consideration and decision of the State. The 42 articles—which became 39—were passed by the Privy Council, and voted upon by Parliament, as also were both the Prayer Books of Edward VI., though it is doubtful if the second, which is the one now in use, was ever even presented to Convocation. As to the State interfering about doctrine, it is significant that the title of "Defender of the Faith," still used on our coinage, was conferred because of a book on doctrine written by Henry VIII., perhaps not a very suitable teacher of religion in his character, but asserting a principle in his office. Since the Reformation the State has never abandoned its right to be the final court of appeal in determining the questions of doctrine, ceremonial, or discipline. In this it has been faithful to the whole trend of English history, for Canon law has never been recognised in this country, and the Church of England has never been allowed to be a law to itself as is now proposed. Again, as we all know, the Articles were not passed by any exclusively clerical body, and have never been interfered with 835 or altered by any clerical body. We also know that they were submitted to Cecil and the Sovereign in Council. Take the history of the Prayer Book. We are told that up to the time of the Reformation a Roman Catholic Prayer Book was used in England, and that after that the State and Parliament started a Prayer Book. Nothing of the kind. The Prayer Books in use in England from the earliest times were local Prayer Books. Look at the words of Gregory to Augustine. The Pope advised him to get the best he could from all parts, but there was no general Prayer Book in use as a, Roman Catholic Prayer Book and thrown over at the time of the Reformation. That explains, to a certain degree, a reference in the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. People sneer at the clergy at the time of the Reformation. There are references such as that to the Vicar of Bray, and it is said that the clergy for the sake of the loaves and fishes stood by and kept their posts while a radical and great change was made. Nothing of the kind. The clergy did not believe there was such a radical change as is now represented. History says it was a stage in development—not a radical change. No new Church was made. The Church of England was never made by Parliament or ruled entirely by the Popes of Rome. I sometimes think it might perhaps be well to revert to the days when the State taught doctrine as in the Book of Homilies in the days of Elizabeth. These were sermons composed by the State, and I think if the First Lord of the Treasury would issue another Book of Homilies that the churches would be better attended than they are now, and that we might find our way to the foundations of true belief through the problems of philosophic doubt. I have ventured to emphasise what have been the relations between Church and State in order to consider the further question as to what should now be such relations. We have never had the Church ruled by the State or the State ruled by the Church. They have been two institutions growing up side by side. Nay, more than that, they have been, as it were, the auricle or a ventricle of one heart sending blood through the national veins. It may be that the connection 836 should be broken, but we are not now discussing the question of Disestablishment. I was rather surprised the First Lord of the Treasury condescended to use the nickname Erastianism. If it means that the Church and State should work together for the good of the nation, I am proud to call myself an Erastian. I am proud to claim that title because I believe the connection between Church and State has been good in the past and may be good in the future. But if any large body of clergy follows the English Church Union, I am sure all sides of the House will agree that there can be only one result, and that Disestablishment. I am not a believer in that rude method of cutting the Gordian knot, and I hope the connection between Church and State will continue, the State not ruling the Church, the Church not ruling the State, but both working together to promote the material, religious, and moral welfare of the nation.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
I desire to say a very few words as to why I propose to support the Amendment to the Resolution rather than the Resolution itself. The Resolution differs from the Amendment in two respects. The Amendment has no precise mention of the English Church Union, and it leaves on one side the thorny question of jurisdiction of the State in spiritual matters, and confines itself to a proposition on which all churchmen are agreed—the authority of the Bishops. In both those respects I prefer the Amendment to the Resolution. I am not myself a member of the English Church Union, and I have never concealed my own feeling, and I regret the existence of such a society in the Church of England, which is in the nature of an inchoate schism. Such a society appears to me to undermine the idea of Church unity. If the Church is really in a healthy condition, we ought all be proud to belong to it, and not to any smaller division of opinion. We ought not to be tied down to this or that partisan view of the doctrine of the Church. We ought to be prepared to consider all doctrines on their Scriptural and ecclesiastical merits, and not with reference to their bearing on the High Church Party or the Low Church Party. While I regret the existence of the English Church Union, I regret also the 837 publication of the memorial which has been commented on this evening. That memorial covers a great deal of ground which in substance might offer a very proper topic for discussion and reflection, but it is conceived in a most unhappy spirit, and it is very unnecessarily provocative and defiant in tone, and I cannot think that its publication has tended to what ought to be the supreme desire of Churchmen at the present moment—the cessation of the present agitation and the peace of the Church. But while I feel bound to say these things in order that I may not be liable to misrepresentation in the matter, I feel very strongly, indeed, that we should act both unwisely and unjustly if we select the English Church Union for specific censure out of all the jarring elements which this controversy has called forth, and I think both as a lover of the peace of the Church and as disapproving to a great extent of the opinions of the English Church Union, that if this Resolution were passed, the effect would be to rally to the flag of the English Church Union the whole High Church party. The honourable Member for Walsall has challenged the English Church Union in a way which is likely to excite sympathy in the minds of many people who do not now sympathise with it, by proposing a form of Parliamentary censure, after a long period, denunciation which appears to me to be both unjust and unfair. He has selected the very issue about which there is more agreement with the English Church Union than on any other issue, namely, the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. It would be said, "Here is an Erastian House of Commons trampling these people in the dust because they maintain what we all maintain, and the Privy Council is a most improper body to have jurisdiction in ecclesiastical courts." We are told the English Church Union is going up 1,500 a month. It would go up 10,000 if this Resolution were adopted. It is a very unwise step, as it plays into the hands of the body it is directed against. It is also a very unjust step, because in the midst of a controversy which has produced a great number of utterances, it selects one which is not by any means the most deplorable, and holds it up on a monu- 838 ment of infamy as the one thing which the House of Commons thinks it worth while to settle. I regret the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouth is not in his place. I would say in his presence, as I have to say now in his absence, that I think that his letters are much more injurious to the welfare of the Church and the much less seemly contributions to a Christian controversy than the memorial of the English Church Union. But we do not propose to censure the right honourable Gentleman's letters or to pass a solemn Resolution saying that they do not tend to the peace of the Church or the promotion of Christian charity. Let us carry out a policy of impartial silence, and pass no solemn Resolution which will only excite widespread sympathy with the body against which it is directed. It is impossible for me not to say that with all the criticism that may legitimately be passed on the Ritualistic party and on the English Church Union, I think there is very grave danger that we may have hurried into doing them a real and substantial injustice in that. My right honourable Friend has invited all moderate Churchmen to unite, and has described the attitude of some of the followers of Lord Halifax as disloyal. I do not quite know to how many of the followers of Lord Halifax my right honourable Friend will extend that observation. No doubt, there are three or four persons in the Church of England who might be described with propriety as disloyal, but of the great body of Churchmen I am persuaded that the observation in the sense in which it is generally understood is not deserved. We may disagree with my right honourable Friend on a particular opinion regarding the traditions of the Church. I suspect myself that neither the view of my right honourable Friend nor that of Lord Halifax will stand the test of criticism. It is not disloyal, in the ordinary sense of the word, to hold a particular opinion about the traditions of the Church of England. My right honourable Friend and Churchmen generally believe that the English Church Union are mistaken on some point or other; they themselves believe they faithfully represent the 839 true attitude of the Church. That is a fair matter for argument, but not for any word implying a lower level morally.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I did not use the word "disloyalty" in that sense. I expressly guarded myself from including any moral stigma in my observation. What I said was that the whole theory of the relations between the English branch of the universal Church and the Roman branch is of such a character as to make loyalty to the English Church of the last 300 years an impossibility.
§ LORD H. CECIL
I feel sure that in his own mind my right honourable Friend did not charge them with anything morally reprehensible, but if he did not make his explanation his words would be generally understood as reflecting on the moral character of the Gentlemen to whom he referred. I thought it right to call my right honourable Friend's attention to the possibility of his being misunderstood, and I am glad he has made the explanation he has. I am myself persuaded that the moral character of these Gentlemen reaches a height which is rarely reached by human nature in the majority of cases. I hope the Amendment will be carried, and I hope that, by carrying it, we shall strengthen the hands of the Bishops, by whose jurisdiction alone, as some think, there is hope of saving the Church from the dangers in front of her. There is a great prospect of general acceptance on the part of the whole body of the High Church Party of the jurisdiction of the Bishops. Let us not interfere with that prospect of peace. The honourable Member for Walsall said the High Church Party were not prepared to obey the Bishops. So far, whatever they may have said, there was no formal act of disobedience. In a very short time the Archbishops will hold an inquiry and lay down their judgment, and an immense amount depends on how that judgment will be accepted. If we rush in hastily and 840 harass feelings by injudicious action we shall very likely upset the prospect—now fair and hopeful—of a quiet acceptance of the Archbishops' judgment. At any rate, let not disloyalty towards the Bishops be imputed until disobedience has actually occurred. It will then be time enough to consider what should be done. In the meantime let us join in an appeal to these Gentlemen, whose conscientious objections are very strong, to be true to the great High Church tradition, that Episcopacy is the apostolic method of government in the Church. I do not think that any good would come of any attempt to unite all the non-Ritualist sections of the Church against the Ritualists. I do not know if my right honourable Friend is aware of the kind of language used freely in the papers which represent the non-Ritualist point of view. No secret is made there that the attack is not on the Ritualists, but on the whole High Church Party. The Bishops are reprobated because they are only proposing to cut off a few excrescences here and there and are not destroying root and branch. It is not very reasonable to expect moderate High Churchmen to do anything but co-operate against the Party using language of that kind. They are obliged to do so in order to safeguard High Church doctrines. When the extreme non-Ritualistic school of thought have abandoned their attacks on many doctrines which we hold very dear indeed, and have given up their habit of denunciations in violent language, and of imputing perjury and treachery, we may then consider how far we can cooperate with them to restrain the excesses of the Ritualistic Party. Until then all thought of union is an absurdity, for I believe that the school of thought which is beyond comparison most dangerous and injurious to the Church of England is the extreme anti-Ritualist. When the attack is conducted on a reasonable basis then by the influence of a united Church all that is excessive in Ritualism may be restrained. I believe that by temperate counsel and judicious argument, and the interchange of opinion a great deal may be done. 841 All that is untrue and foolish in Ritualism will be without violence or outrage weeded out of the Church of England, and I look to that temperate controversy as the true solution of the difficulties which threaten the Church. I do not believe that falsehood has that singular power of propagating itself which is attributed to it by the opponents of the Ritualists. If the matter is threshed out in friendly temperate argument we shall get what is good in Ritualism and lose what is bad, and the Church of England will be saved a second time the recurrence to methods which, if they have not all the injustice of persecution, have all its unwisdom—saved to carry on its inheritance of comprehensive truth in future ages, as in the past.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
A number of the remarks of the noble Lord who has just spoken are certainly in the direction of what many moderate men feel. They show that the High Church Party is desirous of dissociating itself from the extreme views of the English Church Union. I think there were passages in the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, and arguments used by the noble Lord, which distinctly bring before us the great issues underlying this question. This is not merely a question of restraining the Ritualistic excesses of a certain number of clergymen. The fundamental question is the question of the Church government in this country. That is the essential question. I listened with satisfaction to what fell from the First Lord of the Treasury with reference to the perversion of the doctrine, and the alteration of the whole character of the Church. He, however, qualified his statement by another which, I think, requires further consideration. He foreshadowed, as a solution which might meet the views of all interested in this question, a change in the government of the Church of England, which would place the Church in its right to decide questions of ritual and in its power to legislate for its own future, in a position of greater autonomy and self-government than before. That 842 is a very serious statement, which should be very clearly and definitely described. The noble Lord who has just spoken has expressed his approval of the Amendment, and he therefore, I assume, dissociates himself from the last words of the Motion of the honourable Member for Walsall, requiring obedience to the law, as declared by the courts which have jurisdiction on matters ecclesiastical. The noble Lord regarded with absolute discredit, and spoke with a certain amount of scorn, of the letters contributed by my right honourable Friend the Member for Monmouthshire. I think the latter part of the speech of the noble Lord should convince even himself that he owes a deep debt of gratitude to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire for having brought this controversy before the country in a manner calculated to draw public attention to the vital issues which underlie it. I think the right honourable Gentleman's action has proved of great benefit to all concerned. Now, what is the present position? We know perfectly well that this declaration of the English Church Union is entirely due to a number of historical theories which have been allowed to run riot in the minds of the clergy and to develop themselves into practical action through the absolute neglect of the Bishops to do their duty in this matter. But what is our present position? There are several courses of procedure foreshadowed which are in contradiction of each other and require decisive solution. First we have the proposals, already introduced, of Archbishop Benson's Bill. That Bill creates an ecclesiastical court for the decision of questions of doctrine and ritual. But it is to be a court which will have behind it a court of appeal, which will include a lay element, and that lay element is to be a Church element, as the members of the court must declare themselves to be Churchmen before they can serve. That Bill thus admits the civil power of the State, and it indicates that the laity, through the civil court, have the right to constitute the final court of appeal. Again, we have the action of the whole Bench of Bishops 843 last autumn. The Bishops met together and unanimously decided to order the clergy within their dioceses to discontinue certain practices, and these decisions were made known by the Archbishop of York. The Bishops have thus identified themselves to a certain extent with the decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. But then, after that, we have the further proposal that the Archbishops shall constitute themselves into a sort of court of arbitration, a court which shall have judicial power to decide questions of doctrine and ritual as between the clergy and the episcopal authorities, and we have the suggestion of Lord Halifax that the decisions of the Archbishops are to be taken, quite without regard to the decisions of the Privy Council. We have, therefore, a position of things which ought to be cleared up before this Debate is closed; we ought to be informed what is to be the supreme authority to decide in these matters. We know perfectly well what the attitude of the English Church Union is with regard to these courts. I rend an article the other day in the "Guardian" newspaper, which represents the more moderate section of the High Church Party, which absolutely repudiated the whole of Archbishop Benson's Bill, because it provided for a court containing a lay element. The noble Lord himself has written to the papers to reject the same idea. Some of the Bishops have taken a more liberal view, and have agreed that, in deciding these matters, the Archbishops and Bishops should bear in mind the decisions arrived at by the civil courts which represent the State and the laity in this matter. But the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, in a letter which he wrote before the meeting of the English Church Union, referred to the action of the Bishop of Sodor and Man in suggesting that the Archbishops, in interpreting the Prayer Book, should hold themselves bound by the decisions of the Privy Council, and the noble Lord said he hoped they would do nothing of the kind. He argued further that the ritualistic party would not be satisfied unless the Archbishops com- 844 mitted themselves to take a wholly independent view on these questions and to judge them de novo. Does not this raise the issue as to who shall decide what is to be the law of the Church, and what is to be the guarantee for Churchmen that the services and doctrines of the Church shall be maintained at a certain standard? I think I have laid before the House sound reasons for saying that we ought to have a much clearer definition of the position of the Government with regard to this question of Church government than we have at the present time. Does the First Lord of the Treasury intend, by foreshadowing some form of autonomy of the Church, to give the members of the English Church Union, notwithstanding the emphatic language of condemnation in which he has referred to them, the very thing which they are claiming, and to concede to them spiritual courts which shall be omnipotent in deciding questions of ritual and doctrine? That is the vital question. It is all very well to condemn the action of these men. Lord Halifax seemed to have had his head mystified by a number of historical disquisitions by Bishop Stubbs, of Oxford, which he very imperfectly understood. I ask the First Lord of the Treasury, who has foreshadowed a species of autonomy for the Church, what does he mean by it? Is he going to give to the English Church Union what he denied to them in the earlier portion of his speech? Is he going to encourage them in demanding this absolute discretion for the ecclesiastical courts? Is he going to support the demand that the Bishops shall decide absolutely on their own discretion as to questions of doctrine and ritual? I am not at all sure that the First Lord of the Treasury is aware of the scope of his own proposal. He seemed to say that it would be easy to satisfy the Ritualists and the wants of Churchmen, by placing the English Church in the same position as the Scottish Church. But it is perfectly well known that, while the Scottish Church has certain judicial powers over its members, it has no legislative powers in the sense that the English Church Union is endeavouring to import into the Church of England. 845 The "Confession of Faith" cannot be altered by the spiritual power of the Church of Scotland, or by the Assembly of the Church of Scotland, for there is no right whatsoever to do that. We have had vague declamation against the English Church Union, a great deal of which is amply deserved by the reckless and wayward course taken by some of the members of that Union, but we have not yet had any clear and definite statement of what the policy of the Government is as to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to be created and as to the final power to decide these questions. My friend, Canon Gore, whose name no one could mention without a sense of the warmest admiration and respect, has, in a volume of essays, issued last spring, on the question of Church government, a contribution from the honourable and learned Member for Leamington, in which it is distinctly admitted that Parliament is the only representative power for the laity—the only power to vindicate their rights in the Church of England, and that it is impossible to exclude the final control of Parliament. The First Lord of the Treasury spoke in a hazy way of some new form of Church government, in which the laity would have power, and I do think we should know in what way it is to be carried out. I read the contribution by Canon Gore to the "Contemporary Review" with the deepest interest. He claims in the most absolute way the power of the Church to deal judicially with its members and to deal legislatively with its doctrines.
§ MR. LYTTELTON (Warwick and Leamington)
Do I understand the honourable Member to refer to me as the author of an essay on Church government?
§ * MR. CHANNING
I apologise for the error. But I should like to repeat that in the volume referred to there is an 846 admission made of the necessity of Parliament vindicating the rights of the laity with regard to Church matters. The scheme of Canon Gore demands the fullest right of the spiritual power of the Church to decide on questions of doctrine as well as judicial control over the members of the Church, and it docs seem to me that that is a claim which we on this side of the House, at any rate, cannot assent to. The only position he seems to allow the laity in the Church would be to form part of some sort of parochial or other council as a consultatory body in the locality, but he does not admit, so far as I can see, any power in the laity to act in a judicial or legislative capacity in the Church. There is the real difficulty of Church government. And Canon Gore really sees it himself. In claiming for the Church of England the position of a free Church in a free State, he practically admits that the only logical outcome of his dream of absolute control for the Church over its members and its doctrine and ritual is disestablishment. We are therefore in a state of extreme confusion of ideas and expedients. The First Lord of the Treasury knows that the claim of the Church is a claim for absolute control by a sacerdotal body on questions of doctrine and ritual, and, in holding out a shadowy sort of hope of self-government, the right honourable Gentleman is endeavouring to please both parties—he is beating the Protestant drum in one part of his speech, and at the same time he is showing a disposition to encourage the further development of the idea of self-government in the Church in the sense that the Church and its members shall be absolutely under the control of the clerical body itself.
§ MR. GEDGE
I think I shall be saving the time of the House if I state that, as a result of various intimations made to me by Members who agree with the Motion I have proposed, I shall be content to rest satisfied with this Debate, especially after the speech of my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury. Although I do 847 not think the Amendment altogether logical or sufficiently strong, I propose to accept it, if the House will allow me to do so.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
If the Amendment and Motion are withdrawn the honourable Member will have again to move words incorporating the Amendment as a substantative Motion. That can only be done by the general assent of the House.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Perhaps the better course, then, will be for the Question now before the House to be negatived.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
I do not know exactly in what form the Motion will be put to the House, but there are a few words I should like to say, principally in consequence of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. But first I should like to observe that the honourable Member for East Northamptonshire, in his speech, referred neither to the Motion nor to the Amendment.
§ * MR. CHANNING
I beg the honourable and learned Gentleman's pardon. I distinctly objected to the speech of the noble Lord on the ground that he wished to traverse the last words of the Motion, which seemed to me the essential point of the whole.
§ * SIR. E. CLARKE
Well, I did not catch any reference either to the Motion or to the Amendment. I think the honourable Member will acknowledge that the main object of his speech was to challenge the First Lord of the Treasury to state what legislation the Government propose to enter upon with regard to the future government of the Church. May I point out that is an impossibility in a Debate of this kind. My right honourable Friend the First Lord of the 848 Treasury has made a weighty speech which will be read by great masses of people, who will recognise its fairness of tone and the largeness and breadth of view with which he has discussed a very difficult question. I regret the response made to my right honourable Friend's appeal to High Churchmen and Moderate Churchmen to stand together in this matter, and to set themselves against the excess of those who have made themselves conspicuous for apparent disobedience to the law of the land and the wishes of their Bishops. I regret, I say, the answer made to that appeal by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. While we cannot help sympathising with and admiring the tone and temper and language of the noble Lord's speech, he wound up by declaring that it was impossible for High Churchmen to take their stand against the excesses of Ritualists in this country until the opponents of Ritualists cease to use hard and violent language in regard to them. Then, and then only, he told us, would it be possible for Moderate and High Churchmen to stand together in vindication of the authority and law of the Church. Now, that would be to postpone union between Churchmen to far too distant a day. The noble Lord knows very well that in this controversy it is not only Churchmen who are taking part. It is fanned and fed for other reasons than the desire to restore peace in the Church. There are political motives, avowed and unavowed, among many of those who use the strongest and most violent language with regard to these matters. I do not think the noble Lord was justified when he said, assuming to speak for the body of High Churchmen in this country, that they could not respond to the appeal of the First Lord of the Treasury until there was a diminution in the acrimony of the controversy.
§ LORD H. CECIL
I should have said that High Churchmen always support episcopal authority. That ought to be regarded as in the background of my observations.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
Yes, but, as a High Churchman I go further, and say I will 849 not only support episcopal authority, but also the authority of the established law of the land. It is in that necessary supplement to the declaration of the noble Lord that the difference really exists between us. For my own part, I adhere to the declaration in the manifesto of the English Church Union in which they deny the right of Parliament to determine the doctrine, the discipline, or the ceremonial of the Church, What in my view Parliament has the right to do is to say that the law of the Church, accepted as it stands by Church and realm, shall be steadily and impartially enforced, and the real difficulty of the controversy lies in this—that the episcopal authority is recognised as not having been sufficient to protect the purity and order of the Church. I wish the House could have avoided passing any Resolution at all. I could not have supported the Resolution on the Paper, nor do I think it desirable to pass any Resolution at all. I wish there might be difficulty in the procedure of the House which would bring that about. I also wish we could have remained content with the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. However that may be, I cannot allow myself to appear to endorse the statement of my noble Friend the Member for Greenwich. As a loyal Churchman, I am anxious to secure due order in the Church, and to maintain its privileges, and to the declaration of my noble Friend I desire to add that in my opinion the courts are sufficient and adequate for the purpose, and ought to have as much deference paid to them as the episcopal authority to which the noble Lord has referred.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I sympathise greatly with the honourable and learned Gentleman who has just sat down in the hope he expressed that possibly some inconsequent conclusion might happen to this Debate if that could by some apparent accident be arrived at, in order better to express than the passing of any Resolution whatever could the House's sense of the real nature of this Debate. The right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury said that an abstract Resolution of this sort, in any cir- 850 cumstances, had little practical effect, but after what has happened to-night the passing of the Resolution has even less practical effect than in ordinary cases may follow. The right honourable Gentleman made a most remarkable speech, which we were all delighted to hear, and I am one of those who think that after that speech the Debate might very well have been brought to a conclusion—not that I agree with him in all points by any means, but because it was a strong utterance on his part which I think certainly was calculated to make for peace and for reason, and which differed considerably, if he will allow me to say so, from what he has, I think, on previous occasions, in this House at all events, said upon the same subject. It may not be irreconcilably different, but it differed in the intensity of the opinions he expressed. I think we may congratulate ourselves, at all events, that a Debate on a subject so full of delicacy has been conducted without any warmth of language or anything calculated to give offence to the most susceptible consciences. The subject differs from those of ordinary political controversy, because it stretches into regions where we are in danger of coming in contact with some of the most sacred feelings which can animate the human breast, and on that account I share the repugnance which most of us must feel at taking any part whatever in the discussion of the subject. Therefore, I am glad that my honourable Friend the Member for Walsall set an example which others have followed in saying nothing calculated, I think, to wound the feelings of any on either side of this great controversy, to all of whom I, for my part, am ready to attribute the most lofty and pure and sincere motives in all they have done. The difficulty really is an old one. It is how to reconcile the authority of the State with the spiritual independence of an Established Church. The First Lord of the Treasury referred to the case of Scotland, and said that from his observations of things in Scotland he could see how well those two 851 apparently contradictory principles were harmonised in that country, and he wished that something of the same kind might happen in England. But what is it that occurred which created that particular facility north of the Tweed? It was this, that earnest men who felt the necessity of maintaining the spiritual independence of the Church, finding themselves unable to maintain it in connection with the State, voluntarily, in 1843, relinquished their churches and manses and everything that belonged to them in that position, and went out of the Church. And not only did they thus achieve independence for themselves, but undoubtedly the reflex effect of their action has made it possible to realise in the Established Church of Scotland itself, in an almost complete degree, the same spiritual independence. Of course, the case was easier there, because they were not troubled with ambiguous formularies. The Church of Scotland was not, as the Church of England is, a Church of compromise, endeavouring to hold the balance between opposite views on ecclesiastical subjects. But we are here, not as Churchmen, but as politicians; and I would say for myself, and for most of those who share my views, that we have no desire whatever to support one party in the Church of England or to interfere with another; but what we do say is this, that while the relation between the Church and State continues it is absolutely necessary that the supreme authority of Parliament and of the courts of the country should be maintained, and that the laws should be observed. That is what it comes to. We do not desire to see anything in the nature of proscription or persecution, but we do say that the contracts must be observed, and that the decisions of the properly constituted tribunals must be obeyed. Lately there have been undoubtedly declarations made on the part of a large body in the Church which are apparently tantamount to a declaration of their intention to disregard the civil authority and to disregard even the authority of their own ecclesiastical superiors, if that authority is exercised in a way distaste- 852 ful to themselves. Well, Sir, I am, therefore, not surprised that the English Church Union has figured in the Resolution before the House. But I am glad that the honourable Member for Walsall has withdrawn his particular Resolution, because it seems to me altogether out of place for the House of Commons to take cognisance of the existence of a body of which we have really no specific knowledge, no authoritative knowledge. And by that course of conduct we should be giving it probably a degree of importance that it does not really deserve in this matter. Therefore, altogether I can quite understand, on account of the recent action of prominent members of that body, the impulse of the honourable Gentleman; still I do not think it would have been wise to have accepted any Resolution containing the reference he has suggested to us. But then the Amendment which has been moved, and which will become by his action the substantive Motion before the House, appears to me to err in a much more important point. The Amendment of the honourable Member for Norwich says that—This House deplores the spirit of lawlessness shown by certain members of the Church of England, and confidently hopes that the Ministers of the Crown will not recommend any clergyman for ecclesiastical preferment unless they are satisfied that he will loyally obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book.Well, but Sir, we have a duty beyond that; we have a duty which is custodire ipsos custodes. Who is to overlook those overseers of the Church? But this Resolution, as it now stands, would imply that we are perfectly satisfied so long as the Bishop's authority is maintained.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
And the Prayer Book; but who is to interpret the Prayer Book? The interpretation of the Prayer Book means that which the reader of the Prayer Book may read into it. And who is to be the reader of the Prayer Book? What the honourable Member for Walsall suggested was at once more specific, much 853 more to the point, and likely to be of much more effect—namely, that the clergy should—Obey the law as declared by the courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical.That is the point at issue. The First Lord of the Treasury said a good deal with which I sympathise as to the expediency of extending the influence of the laity. But even the laity may include laymen who are more ecclesiastical than the clergy themselves, more clerical than the clergy themselves. We should have liked to have had a recognition in the Resolution—at any rate, I should have liked to have had before I would vote for it—a recognition of the subjection of these points in dispute to the properly established civil courts of the realm. And, therefore, although I think that this has been, as I have said, a most useful Debate, a most creditable Debate to the House of Commons—a Debate which shows that even with all the acerbity and heat which may be developed in this great fundamental controversy—for it is nothing else—we can still conduct a discussion without any extreme language, or without imputing anything obnoxious to those who happen to differ from us—although we have had this very useful Debate, and therefore I do not regret that the Resolution has been moved—I, for my part, shall not be able to vote for it, because I believe it would be beginning with a prospect of having all the want of effect of an abstract Resolution, and it would in itself contain really nothing that was deserving the attention of the House of Commons.
* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts., Mansfield)
It may seem to be like killing the already slain to say more of the Motion which has been withdrawn. The Amendment is open precisely to the same objections as the original proposal. The Motion was feeble: the Amendment is feebler still; but both propositions have a saving virtue in my eyes. They involve two principles to which I attach great importance. The first principle is this, that Parliament and the Government of 854 the day have a large share of responsibility for the management of the affairs of the Church of England. The second principle is that it is the duty of the State, so long as Church and State are united, to see that the contract between them is faithfully observed. I wish to call attention for a very few moments to the strictly limited character of the proposal on which the House is called to vote. In the first place, the proposal is entirely prospective; it does not touch the existing clergy, except those who may happen to be promoted to higher offices. It will only apply to future clergy. In the second place, it will only affect a small proportion of the clergy of the Church, those offices, namely, which are in the gift of the Crown, the Lord Chancellor, and the Duchy of Lancaster. The livings affected by the Motion are 1,100 in number, but there are 4,700 livings in the gift of the Bishops, the Cathedral Chapters, the Universities, and other public bodies, and in addition there are 8,000 livings which are in private hands—livings which have been bought, or are possessed by virtue of descent. Now, the owners of all these livings may snap their fingers at the Resolution adopted by the House of Commons, and consign it to the waste basket. This Motion touches only a certain class of clergy; but why does it not touch the Archbishops and Bishops? These possess 2,000 livings—very nearly twice as many as the Ministers of the Crown. It is alleged that one reason why the Church is in its present position is that the Bishops in the exercise of their patronage have largely promoted the ritualistic clergy. There was lately issued by the Church Association a striking pamphlet entitled "An Indictment of the Bishops." That pamphlet states that no fewer than 461 ritualistic clergy have been promoted to benefices by the Bishops; that these benefices have an income of £118,000; and that they exist for the benefit of nearly two millions of people. And there is the further statement that a considerable number of those clergymen are members of the English Church Union. But these figures relate only to bene- 855 fices. The further statement is made that in the appointment of canons, archdeacons, and examining chaplains there has been shown precisely the same bias. These statements may be true, or they may be somewhat exaggerated; but so far as they are true they show the utter inadequacy of the Motion which the House is called to vote upon. No attempt, Mr. Speaker, is made by the Motion to put restraint on the Bishops in regard to the exercise of their patrontage. Then, not only is the policy of this Resolution kept within very narrow limits, but the policy itself is superficial and utterly delusive. The Minister is to be satisfied of the law-abiding character of the intended presentee, but the Minister may be much more easily satisfied of that than the public would be. And when the Minister is satisfied and the clergyman is once appointed, there is no guarantee whatever that he may not prove as great a law breaker as any at present in the Church. He holds his benefice for life; it is his freehold, and if he manages to keep within the law he would be safe. I respect the motives of those who would bring in this proposal. I believe they are quite sincere, but I believe that they are utterly mistaken in supposing that it will have any appreciable or lasting effect in regard to the question with which the House is called upon to deal. As the Government have accepted this Motion, I wish to ascertain on what principle the Motion is to be put in action in regard to appointments to be made in future. A Question has been put in this House by my honourable Friend the Member for Flintshire, who asked a short time ago whether the appointment of a Bishop Madagascar had been sanctioned by the Government. The First Lord of the Treasury answered that, inasmuch as the intended Bishop would not be supported out of public funds, the Government were not entitled to interfere. I assume that the First Lord of the Treasury had forgotten that there is in existence an Act of Parliament which requires the sanction of the Crown before any Bishop can be appoined in a foreign country. 856 When his attention was called to that fact, he referred me to the Foreign Office for further information. Then a question was addressed to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who told the House that the Primate had applied to the Foreign Secretary as to whether the Crown would sanction the appointment of a Bishop of Madagascar, and that he had received a reply in the affirmative. But the statement was not made as to whether the Crown would sanction the appointment of a Bishop generally, or this particular clergyman; and to this hour we do not know whether this gentleman has been promoted and his appointment will receive the sanction of the Crown, and as to whether a Royal Warrant will be issued for his consecration. That is a point on which it would be interesting to obtain exact information. In regard to Colonial Bishops, the statement is made that 30 of these Bishops are Members of the English Church Union. Now, these Colonial Bishops return to this country in considerable numbers, and become Suffragan Bishops, and are considered to have claims to promotion in the Church. I do not intend to prolong this discussion, but I cannot help thinking that to-morrow morning many members of the Church of England will be sorely distressed at the state of things when they read the terms of the three proposals before this House and the speeches which have been delivered on them on the other side of the House. They will be inclined to use the language of Job: "Miserable comforters are ye all." The fact is, honourable Gentlemen shrink from going to the root of the question—that root being the existing relations of the Church and State. It is true that we have had from the First Lord of the Treasury and from the Member for Greenwich hints of larger changes than those involved in the proposal. The First Lord of the Treasury talked of the autonomy of the Church. I do not think of warning the First Lord of the Treasury against the difficulties and perils which would be encountered in any attempt 857 to autonomise the Church. So long as it is established the Church will not be autonomised. It will not obtain self-government until it is disestablished. Then when its members turn their backs on Parliament, and are no longer dependent on the will of Cabinets, and when they look only to the zeal and good sense of its members, both inside and outside of this House, they will have even greater reason than they now have to be proud of it as one of the great instruments for the promotion of Christian work throughout the land.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington)
I wish to say one word as to the changes made in the Resolution before the House. I believe in all that has been said as to the objections urged to the Resolution specifying any particular body by name, but I cannot vote for the Amendment as it stands. I think that the most important part of the original Resolution consists in its last words. It seems to me that at the present time we cannot ignore the position of the Church. I myself feel that what is wanted is to emphasise by this House that the law of the land should be maintained by the Church as well as by all other persons. I think that part of the original Resolution stating that the Government would not use their patronage except towards those who will really and truly and loally obey the law of the land is its most essential part. If I am in order, I would move that the words, "that he will obey the law as declared by the courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical" be added to the Amendment. It seems to me that that is the most important part of the whole Resolution. From indications from every part of England, I am convinced that the public feel very keenly that the law should be maintained.
To leave out all the words of the original Motion from 'shown' to the end of the Motion in order to insert by certain members of the Church of England, and confidently hopes that the Ministers of the Crown will not recommend any clergyman for ecclesiastical preferment unless they are satisfied that he will loyally obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book.'
That those words be there added.
§ Question put, and agreed to.858
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To add, at the end thereof, the words and the law as declared by the courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical."—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I gather from the indications that come from my honourable Friends behind me that they approve of this Amendment. I think it is an unwise and injudicious Amendment. That is my own personal view. The Amendment, which is now the substantive Resolution before the House, expresses the confident hope that the Members of the Government whose duty it is to advise Her Majesty on the subject of ecclesiastical patronage shall not only convince themselves that the clergymen whom they appoint will loyally obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book, but are apparently to find out from these clergymen precisely what their view is in regard to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That is practically what it comes to. Speaking for myself, if certain duties fall upon me of advising the Crown on the question of patronage, I should never think of applying this new test to the clergy as to what their views are as to the jurisdiction of the Privy Council. If I am convinced that they would obey the Bishops and superior clergy, I should think that I had done all that was required of me and all that was proper. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has just informed us that, after all, the addition of the words suggested in the Amendment was of no use, because the people who had to interpret them were the peccant clergy themselves. That was his view. I have spoken in vain to-night, and on other occasions, if I have not gone some way towards convincing those to whom I spoke that we should not only have a technical adhesion to the law within certain strict legal limits, but something much higher and deeper, and yet also in a certain sense a somewhat narrower adhesion. I should say that you would weaken the essential part of the Resolution, and you would impose a perfectly 859 arbitrary and improper test, if you were to attempt to require a statement upon so vexed a question as that of the jurisdiction of the Privy Council. Therefore, I personally cannot support the Resolution of my honourable Friend, and I do not think that he would be well advised to press it.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I think the right honourable Gentleman has misinterpreted the plain meaning of the words proposed to be added. There is no question of a clergyman expecting preferment having to go through an examination as to his views as to the proper constitution of the tribunal to settle matters ecclesiastical, or as to the history of the Ecclesiastical Courts. It. is simply a question, "Will he, or will he not, obey the law as declared by the Courts?" There is nothing metaphysical about that, nothing elaborate; it is a plain question to which anyone could say "Yes" or "No." Will he, or will he not, as part of the contract, if he accepts higher preferment in the Church, promise to obey the law of the land?
§ MR. LYTTELTON (Warwick and Leamington)
I support most strongly the views put forward by the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and I do so for this reason, that many of us of moderate opinions believe that there are extremists in the High Church party, and though they are but very few in number, some undoubtedly do exist who are scarcely distinguishable from Romanists. Now, the object of this Resolution is not to confound the moderate men with the immoderate men. The danger to which the House will commit itself by adding these words is, that they will enlist in the same camp the men of very extreme views and the men of more moderate views. I believe that there are large numbers of men of moderate views who have a very serious objection to the jurisdiction of the Privy Council, and, therefore, I think it would be disastrous to class these moderate men along with the immoderate men. What we want to do, if possible, is to detach the moderate men from the immoderate. If you get a 860 sincere man to say that he will obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book that seems to me to imply a sacred and true adherence to the law he is bound to observe. I urge the House not to mix up this matter with a question of a very controversial kind such as the jurisdiction of the Privy Council.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I should like to point out to the House the position in which we stand. After the First Lord of the Treasury has accepted one Amendment, he has declined to accept the other. All of his original objections have gone by the board. There is no question now of the impropriety of imposing new tests on the clergy of the Church of England, because he has accepted the new test. He is willing to vindicate the authority of the Bishops, but he declines to vindicate the authority of the law of the land. It was the attack by large bodies of the clergy upon the law of the land that led to this Resolution. I am perfectly content, between one side of the House and the other, that the question should go before the Church of England and before the country that the Government propose to vindicate the authority of the Bishops but decline to vindicate the law of the land.
§ * MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I think it would be most unwise to adopt the words proposed by the honourable Member for North Islington. The admission of those words would go in exactly the opposite direction to what was desired. The honourable Gentleman who has just spoken has endeavoured to raise a sort of oriflamme—trying to set the State against the Church—but that is not the question which we have to decide. I can understand that the House is rightly anxious as to the extreme practices of certain members of the Church of England, whom I believe to be few—but be they few or many, it is too late now to go into the question of the jurisdiction of the Courts, and if time permitted I think I could show that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was never intended to be a Court of Appeal in religious matters. This 861 Amendment which it is now sought to introduce affects a very large number of the High Church party, who are not Ritualists, but are honest and reasonable churchmen, who have a very deep conviction against the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council having control over Church Matters. This Resolution as moved was intended to be a Resolution of deprecation of excesses by a certain small section of the Church, and the tone of the Debate has hitherto been one tending to peace. Is it wise to introduce into this Resolution words which will give offence to a very large section of honest and reasonable Churchmen?
§ * MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
The whole thing turns on these few words. If these words are not added, the Motion is entirely nugatory. These few words, in fact, are proposals intended to counteract the machinations of the various Romanising societies, which embrace 7,000 to 8,000 clergy pledged to introduce most of the doctrine and practices of the Church of Rome, nearly all of which have been condemned by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
I wish that we could hope that my right honourable Friend the Leader of the House could see his way to withdrawing his objection. The honourable Member for Dundee, I think, jumped a little too soon at what he thought was an opportunity to raise a Party division between the two sides of the House. There is no ground for the suggestion that he has made.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
I accept the honourable Member's statement, though I must say we were very much deceived by his manner. But I do wish that my right honourable Friend would withdraw his objection to the Amendment, for this reason, that the courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical are entitled to confidence. They may, or may not, be satisfactory courts, but if they are not satisfactory courts, let them be altered; but surely this Com- 862 mittee cannot proceed upon the hypothesis that we have Courts of Law which are not entitled to the confidence of the people. The addition of the words will put no greater burden upon the minister, it appears to me that the Resolution was introduced to put the duty on the ministers of the country of applying certain tests to candidates for preferment, which they were to administer themselves. I do not think that is wise, and if the Resolution is to be passed I think, after what has happened, it is important that these words should be added, to show that this House is prepared, with regard to the Church, not only to maintain the rightful authority of the Bishops, and secure, as far as possible, obedience to the Prayer Book, but that it is also determined to insist on the obedience of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, lay and cleric, to the constituted courts which on the authority of Her Majesty declare what is the law.
§ LORD CRANBORNE (Rochester)
This is a somewhat difficult matter to approach, but I think my right honourable Friend and the House generally will act very unwisely if it accepts the addition of the words proposed. The words proposed appear to me to be very undesirable. The one thing that has struck me is the unanimity with which the whole of the speakers in this Debate have agreed that there is a certain measure of spiritual independence of opinion in the Church of England. The Member for Bolton pointed out that the question of that measure of spiritual independence was at the present moment a very sore subject with a large number of Churchmen. There is an idea that the spiritual independence of opinion which is the life of the Church is threatened, or is attempted to be threatened, by persons who are described in this Debate as Erastians. My honourable and learned Friend said that it would be wrong to attempt to change the doctrines of the Church, but, rightly or wrongly, the Privy Council in past years has changed it. I am not going to discuss that now, but there was a celebrated case in which the whole 863 doctrine of Baptism was called into question before the Privy Council, and it was thought that the view taken by the Privy Council threatened the Church in that particular sacrament. I do not know whether it is right or wrong, but that is the opinion of the vast body of Churchmen in this country. We are not dealing any longer with ritualists, but with High Churchmen, who conduct their services in a most admirable manner, who have nothing to do with vestments or rubrics or anything of that sort, but who have one great doctrine. You are going to ask that minister, before he is appointed under the Crown, whether he will or will not assent to everything the Privy Council has hitherto judged, and everything that the Privy Council may hereafter lay down. That will be technically the law of the courts having jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical, and it would be practically impossible for you to appoint any High Churchman to be a Bishop or to hold any high office in the Church, so that, whether it is reasonable or not, it is wholly impracticable. I do not at this moment ask the House to pronounce any opinion upon the subject; let us be content with the agreement at which we have arrived. I totally disagree with the honourable Member for Dundee in the observations he has made, because he seems to think that it was something to do with the courts which has excited the feeling which has been aroused on this question in England. It is nothing of the kind. What has excited the feeling in the country is the system of inquiry in the Church. It is thought that there are some clergymen who are not willing to obey their superiors, and what has to be done is to restore the submission and order which we all desire to see. If we do not do that I think we shall simply split into halves the vast body of moderate opinion in the Church. I remind the House of this fact, and it is not as if the matter of these courts was not under discussion at the present moment. Do let the House remember that a very strong Commission has sat upon this very subject, a Commission consisting of 864 most eminent lawyers, theologians and others, and they unanimously condemned the existing courts. The same thing has happened on the Bench of Bishops—not only the High Church Bishops, but the Low Church Bishops as well—and I have not the least doubt that both Houses of Convocation will do the same. It may be true that so long as the courts exist, however bad they may be, they must be obeyed. You might say that, but do you think it is a politic or a practical course to take to force upon clergymen a test which they certainly misunderstand, and which they believe will commit them to whatever mistakes the courts have already made or may make in the future? I submit on these grounds that we are bound to ask the House not to accept the Amendment, and as regards those in the Church, I can conceive no words more calculated to create a division of opinion than those which the honourable Gentleman has put before the House. I therefore sincerely hope that he will not press the Amendment upon the House.
§ * COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
I would add my voice to that of other honourable Gentlemen in appealing to the Leader of the House not to withdraw from the position he has taken up in this matter. These courts of appeal have not the proper confidence of earnest men, who are by no means ritualists, but who are men of the utmost value to the Church. But I ask, as a practical man, whether those who are prepared to vote for this Amendment have studied the law as declared by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I have tried to look into it, and I have compared one judgment with another, and I am utterly unable to reconcile them, and I fail to see how any clergyman could possibly carry out those judgments to the letter. The judgments are in conflict with each other. In the Maconochie case the Court of Appeal decided one way; in the Purchas case the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council went in an entirely opposite direction—which of those judgments is to be obeyed? I ask any honourable 865 Member of this House how he is going to carry out the law with regard to services on the principle that omission in the Rubrics is prohibition. Any clergyman who says the morning and the evening prayer, and nothing beyond it, must remain in the church until some other service takes place. If you turn to the office of Baptism you will find that the clergyman is ordered to take the child into his arms, and is not allowed to put it down. I appeal to the House to look carefully into this question. If we pass this Resolution we shall be very far from moving onward towards Disestablishment. I am very much opposed to it myself, and I appeal to every honourable Member to carefully consider what he is going to do before he votes for this Amendment. We ought to look at it very carefully, and though we may wish to sec it carried out, we should be very careful lest any Resolution we may pass should cause a conscientious revolt, for there is a law, the law of conscience which is above even the law of Parliament. We see in history that laws passed in this country in times past have caused revolt. Ship money was declared legal by a majority of judges, yet the payment of it was withstood, and we are proud it was so. The Stamp Act, the Tea Duty, and the Boston Port Act were all authorised by Parliament; yet most of us believe that New England in rebelling against then, was actuated by the old spirit of English liberty. I would ask honourable Members to remember this, and would point out that, in my opinion, if this Amendment is passed it will take us very far towards the Disestablishment of the Church.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
It is only by the indulgence of the House that I can speak again on an Amendment in reference to which I have already said a few words. Sir, I do not at all change my own views that the suggestion of these words by my honourable Friend is an unfortunate suggestion. But the suggestion has been made, and it has been taken up by the great mass of speakers in this House, 866 in fact, by the whole House, as if it was a simple declaration carrying no further consequences than the assertion on our part that the law must be obeyed. It is quite clear that if that is the interpretation which the House puts upon the Amendment of my honourable Friend, it is impossible on our part, it is impossible for me, to recommend the House not to accept it, and to ask them not to vote for it. But I do not think that that is the interpretation which would be put upon it by a body of opinion that I personally do not agree with, not being a High Churchman, but which I think it is most important at the present juncture not to do anything to alienate even under a misconception. I hold, with all the earnestness with which I hold any conviction in the world, it is most important to the welfare of this country to have peace and stability in the Church, and that peace and stability are both impossible if we so order our Debate and speeches as to mutually irritate each other and cause mutual misunderstanding where misunderstanding should be avoided. I think an entire misunderstanding might have been avoided if this Amendment had not been moved. But it has been moved, and the only question is on which side most misunderstanding will occur. It is quite impossible, as I said before, that we could vote against the proposition that the law shall be obeyed. Of course, the law must be obeyed; every person in this House must agree with that. I agree with my honourable and learned Friend who made an appeal to me, but I am not going to involve myself if I can possibly avoid it in this interminable question of the metaphysical relations which ought to exist between the spiritual and lay authorities in the land, and I shall do everything that I can, now or hereafter, not to involve myself in this conflict. It is my misfortune to dissent from almost everybody who attempts to lay down any perfect, complete, coherent, and unexceptional doctrines for the relations between two great bodies living in the same community whose interests must intermix whatever you do, and however you arrange your plans. I could have wished that this Debate should have ended in a manner which would have presented to the country the fact both 867 of the desire and the determination of this House that the law of the Church should be obeyed, and that we should present that position in such a form as should have caused no misconception in any quarter. That is now impossible, and I cannot, after what has taken place in the House, advise it to vote against the Amendment which my honourable Friend has, I think, unfortunately, but with the best intentions, moved upon the present occasion.
§ LORD H. CECIL
It is quite impossible for those of us who feel strongly upon this subject to assent to the Amendment of my honourable Friend. The Amendment expresses, in so many words, that a clergyman who is preferred is to be asked to pledge himself to every judgment of the court now existing. There is not a High Churchman in the country who will accept such a position at all, and this Amendment would have excluded Dr. Pusey and every High Churchman in the country, and a great many of the Bishops on the Bench. It is an Amendment which strikes at the root of that comprehensive character which the Church has always had, and if I were alone I would divide against it. If my honourable Friend will accept a suggestion of mine, I shall be prepared not to press this matter; if he will insert, instead of the words he proposes, at the end of the Resolution—And the laws of the Church and the realm to which they have promised obedience.That would be generally acceptable to everybody. But if my honourable Friend cannot see his way to accept that suggestion, I shall with great reluctance be obliged to divide the House against the Amendment. Honourable Gentlemen who are supporting this Amendment are going to ask clergymen on pain of no preferment to pledge themselves to certain contradictory judgments, not only contradictory, but which are generally believed to be animated, not by spiritual, but by political considerations, not in the ordinary sense of Party 868 politics, but other considerations in regard to the law, and unless my suggestion is accepted, I shall oppose this Amendment.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Gloucester, Stroud)
The words "and declared by courts having jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical" might be omitted, and in order to get unanimity, if it is possible, the words might run: "they would obey the Bishops, the Prayer Book, and the Law." [No, no, and laughter.] Honourable Members laugh, but this is an important matter; these are the words which raise all the controversy. Everyone of us here is agreed that the law must be obeyed—nobody has the slightest doubt whatever upon that point; and why should this controversy be raised upon this point? The law must be obeyed in every case, and the law must and will have to be declared by the courts for the time being, whatever they may be. But what is the dislike to these words? It is that they seem to give a special sanction to the decision of the existing courts. I counteract in these words that idea. But why should we raise this question and continue this discussion when we can settle the matter by these simple words, and so get rid of the whole controversy on this point?
§ * EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)
I do not want to enter into the details of this discussion, but I think there is one point to which attention ought to be drawn. My noble Friend the Member for Greenwich says that if no one else will move the rejection of this Amendment, he will do it himself. I shall be perfectly prepared to support him in that matter—not that I agree with the grounds put forward in his speech. I am neither High Church nor Low Church, but I am at one with him to promote the interests of the Church itself and the interests of the State, which are so closely bound up with the Church. I shall vote against this Amendment on this very simple ground: the original Motion before the House merely states that Her Majesty's Ministers will in future recommend no clergyman for ecclesiastical 869 preferment unless he is prepared to obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book. For those words there is no necessity. In so far as that matter is concerned, he gives that pledge in every case before he receives ordination. Now, you propose to add in this Amendment that he is to obey the law laid down by the courts. If that means that Her Majesty's Ministers are to see that no persons are preferred but law-abiding citizens, that is what they already do. My honourable Friend the Member for Rochester is of opinion that the clergy will misinterpret what the meaning of this Amendment really is, and that they will interpret it as implying an abstract recognition of the right of secular interference of the court. Now, if we wish unanimity, there is one ground why we should vote against this Amendment, and that is it is proposed to set up a test—and this is the real justification for the attitude of my noble Friend the Member for Greenwich—that particular clergymen will be singled out and forced to sign a declaration and pass a test, which you do not propose to apply to clergymen whose preferment is in the hands of private patrons. If it is the intention and the meaning of the House of Commons to apply such a test at all, then we had better pass a Bill in order to make the terms of that test
§ applicable not to one set of clergymen or set of ecclesiastical appointments, but to the whole.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
I do not wish to detain the House for more than one moment, but I cannot give a silent vote upon this matter. First of all, I object very strongly to the constitution of the Church courts, and I think that the Privy Council is as bad a court as you can have to decide those matters which are brought before it, but, so long as it is the court, it must be obeyed and its decisions respected, and, therefore, though I dislike the courts, and wish that these words had not been moved, I feel bound to vote and support this Amendment. It would be most unfortunate if at the end of this discussion this House were to create an impression that we were giving a sort of charter of lawlessness to any particular section in this matter.
That those words be added to the proposed Amendment.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 200; Noes 14.—(Division List No. 73.)871
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Caldwell, James||Davenport, W. Bromley-|
|Allen, W. (News, under Lyme)||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Denny, Colonel|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Digby, J. K. D. Wingfield-|
|Arrol, Sir William||Carmichael, Sir T.D. Gibson-||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Ascroft, Robert||Causton, Richard Knight||Doxford, Wiliam Theodore|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. (Birm.)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Chamberlain, J. A. Worc'r)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Baker, Sir John||Channing, Francis Allston||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Charrington, Spencer||Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Clough, Walter Owen||Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H. (Bristol)||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F|
|Becket, Ernest William||Colomb, Sir. J. C. Ready||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Colville, John||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Bethell, Commander||Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)||Garfit, William|
|Billson, Alfred||Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Gedge, Sydney|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Gilliat, John Saunders|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mid'sex)||Cruddas, Willam Donaldson||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Curzon, Viscount||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Dalkeith, Earl of||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G.||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburg, W.)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||M'Killop, James||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Harwood, George||M'Leod, John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Chas. Seale-||Malcolm, Ian||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hazell, Walter||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Smith, Abel H. (Christch.)|
|Heath, James||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Milward, Colonel Victor||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Helder, Augustus||Moore, Wm. (Antrim, N.)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M' Taggart|
|Henderson, Alexander||More, Robt. J. (Shropshire)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J.M.|
|Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Morrison, Walter||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Thomas, Dd. A. (Merthyr)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Howard, Joseph||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Howell, William Tudor||Murray, Col. Wynd. (Bath)||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Myers, Wiliam Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Newdigate, F. A.||Ure, Alexander|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Nicholson, William Graham||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Joicey, Sir James||Palmer, Geo. W. (Reading)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir W. H.|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Parkes, Ebenezer||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Paulton, James Mellor||Warr, Augustus, Frederick|
|Kennaway, Rt Hn Sir J. H.||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of Wight)|
|Kenyon, James||Pender, Sir James||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Keswick, William||Perks, Robert William||Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-|
|Kitson, Sir James||Pilkington, Richard||Whiteley, Geo. (Stockport)|
|Knowles, Lees||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lafone, Alfred||Pretyman, Ernest George||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)||Williams, J. Carvel] (Notts.)|
|Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Purvis, Robert||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Pym, C. Guy||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk)|
|Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbr.)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Hy. Currie||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)|
|Leng, Sir John||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Loder, Gerald W. Erskine||Rickett, J. Compton||Wyndham- Quin, Major W.H.|
|Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Lowe, Francis William||Robertson, Edm. (Dundee)||Young, Com. (Berks, E.)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Robertson, Her. (Hackney)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Round, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Bartley and Sir Edward Clarke.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Holland, Hon. L. R, (Bow)||Sharpe, William Ed. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Hugh Cecil and Earl Percy.|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (OxfdUni.)|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Words, as amended, added.
That this House deplores the spirit of lawlessness shown by certain members of the Church of England, and confidently hopes that the Ministers of the Crown will not recommend any clergyman for ecclesiastical preferment unless they are satisfied that he will loyally obey the Bishops and the Prayer Book and the law as declared by the courts which have jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical.
§ Upon the return of the SPEAKER, after the usual interval—
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I rise for the purpose of calling attention to the increasing disparities in the representation of the people in the House of Commons——
§ Attention having been called to the fact that there were not 40 Members present, the House was counted, and 40 Members not being present—
§ The House was adjourned at twenty-five minutes after Nine of the clock.