§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I beg to move,That, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Prayer Book Measure, 1927, be presented to His Majesty for Royal Assent.In moving this Resolution, I am very conscious that I have no claim whatever to speak as a theologian, or as an authority on doctrine or on liturgies. I think I have been entrusted with this task, which I take up with very great diffidence, rather because I do not belong to the Church Assembly. I have never been a member of the House of Laymen, and I merely represent a single specimen of the ordinary Churchman who is deeply attached to his Church, who is a fairly regular attendant at it, and who desires that the Church should exercise, together with all the other Christian Churches, all the influence for good in this country of which it is capable. If I may sum up what I appear to myself to represent, it is the man-in-the-pew. I must admit that when I first heard about the revision of the Prayer Book, my instincts were rather against any change, but, having given it pretty careful study, which I hope all hon. Members have done—[HON. MEMBERS: "And right hon. Members!"] —and right hon. Members-I have come entirely to be convinced that it is not only wisdom but an absolute necessity for the benefit of the Church that this Measure should be passed.
Some people speak of the Prayer Book Measure as if it were the result of some deep-laid plot on the part of Convocation or the Bishops which they desire to hurry through Parliament. What is the real history of it? As a matter of fact, it is the response of the Church to the demand of Parliament, who called upon it to perform a duty, and the Deposited Book is the result of nearly 20 years of careful and searching consideration. In 1904 a Royal Commission was appointed to report upon Ecclesiastical Discipline. In 1906 that Commission reported, and found that restoration of order in the Church was not possible without the revision of the Prayer Book. This is what they said: 2532The law of public worship in the Church of England is too narrow for the religious life of the present generation. It needlessly condemns much which a great section of Church people, including many of her most devoted members, value … The Church has had to work under regulations fitted for a different condition of things, without that power of self-adjustment which is inherent in the conception of a living Church.They recommended that Convocations should be instructed—To frame, with a view to their enactment by Parliament, such modifications in the existing law relating to the conduct of Divine Service … as may tend to secure … greater elasticity.Letters of Business were consequently issued to Convocations, and, in pursuance of those orders, they set to work, and in 1920 published a Schedule of Amendments to the Prayer Book. In the meantime the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, was passed, which created the Church Assembly, and provided the machinery by which they could more easily pass through Parliament Measures upon which the Church, through Convocation and the Assembly, had taken a decision. And now the Deposited Book is presented. Thus, so far from foisting some new and ill-considered scheme upon Parliament, they are now engaged in the last stage of a series of actions which the Church has been loyally taking in obedience to the directions given to her by Parliament for the purpose of restoring order.
I think we must consider why it is necessary to alter the Prayer Book before order can be restored. It is because, as the Royal Commission said, the Church has had to work under regulations fitted for a different condition of things, that is to say, conditions different from what we have now, under regulations fitted for the conditions of 1662, and obviously unfitted in many respects to the present Church. A number of these Regulations, which were so obviously unfitted for the present time, have, by common consent, been relaxed, and variations and abbreviations have been introduced into our services which are, strictly speaking, illegal, but generally approved. For example, we are legally obliged to repeat the Athanasian Creed once every month: we are legally obliged every Sunday morning to stop at the Third Collect and read the Litany, thus omitting the Prayer for the King of which 2533 so much has been made. It is strictly illegal at the service on Sunday morning at the present moment to read this Prayer for the King.
The new Measure will make it legal, but I think it is a most extraordinary thing that so much has been made out of this, no doubt very largely owing to misunderstanding. It will now be legal to have either the old Prayer for the King, or two alternative prayers, which, to my mind, are much more beautiful prayers, out of the ante-Communion service. If any congregation find that their incumbent is anxious to omit any of the three Prayers for the King, the congregation can, through their parochial church council, appeal to the Bishop, and it is quite inconceivable, if the congregation made an appeal to the Bishop, and said that they wished to have one of these prayers read at every Sunday morning service in the church, that the Bishop would not fall in with their wish, and, even supposing that the prayers were not read, there still remains the Prayer for the King in the sentences after the Lord's Prayer.
The object, therefore, has been, after very long and careful discussion, to arrive at agreement on as much common ground as possible. As I said, the practice has arisen of making certain changes which are generally approved, which are, strictly speaking, technically illegal. On the other hand, some of the clergy have made changes which introduce erroneous and strange doctrines into the Church which are generally disapproved by the large majority of Church people, and until we legalise beneficial changes, and bring ourselves into harmony with modern life and thought, it cannot be possible for the Bishops to deal drastically with flagrant violations of the Book of Common Prayer. If you found a man who is violating the order of Public Worship by a close approach to Rome which we should disapprove, and you tried to proceed against him, he could always say, "Well, I am certainly breaking the law, but everybody else in every Church is breaking the law by not strictly adhering to the law under the 1662 Act of Uniformity." Therefore, if you want to take action against the extreme Anglo-Catholics or the more extreme sections than that, you have got to define quite clearly what is approved in modern times 2534 in the Church Service, and then proceed against those things which are not. There is no other way of doing it.
The Revised Book is the result of very many concessions from different sections to try to find the largest amount of common ground which is regarded as necessary in the way of legalising what we regard as necessary in the way of improvement and variation, and, having arrived at that, then the way is clear to proceed against those who depart from it. I know it is contended by some that a change of doctrine is involved. I certainly do not wish to go into doctrinal details here or anywhere else, because I am trying to speak of the spirit of religion rather than of the letter. I do not want to go into doctrinal details for another reason, and that is that there are many other speakers who have much more authority to speak on this subject than I have, but I am myself quite satisfied, and I should think that most Members of Parliament would have been satisfied, with the decision of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament set up by the two Houses—a large body carefully chosen to represent many shades of opinion, and their decision is quite enough for me.
They say that the revised Prayer Book maintains the character of the Book of 1662. They also say that no change of doctrine of constitutional importance is involved, and it is only changes of doctrine of constitutional importance that, I think, were intended to be allowed to influence this House when this enabling Act was passed, and when it was arranged that the Church should bring forward their views, and that we should consider them in the way we are considering them now, and as our own Ecclesiastical Committee said that no change of doctrine of constitutional importance is involved, that, to my mind, is quite enough. But I am also satisfied, and more than satisfied, with the declaration of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose opinion on such matters I must say, with all respect to my right hon. Friend, carried with it more weight than he could. On other subjects, I am sure I should very likely be more inclined to agree with what he says, but on this subject I think we ought to attach very great weight to the opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury. During his many years as Primate, the 2535 Archbishop has won the respect and admiration of all within and without the Church by the wisdom, moderation, and breadth of view which have so conspicuously characterised his actions.
I have heard it said that the Deposited Book is not really acceptable to the Church as a whole. Of all the arguments, this seems to me to be the one least capable of being sustained. Church-men and women are now able to express their views more plainly through the medium of the Church Assembly than ever before, and there is no doubt about the expression of their views. It must also be remembered that the second Church Assembly came together at a time when this Conference was in the middle of its progress, and so the people who are interested in this subject must have had in view the probability of this Measure being brought before Parliament when they sent their representatives to the Church Assembly. The Church Assembly gives a better chance of expressing the general view of the Church than anything we had before. This has been approved by enormous majorities in this Assembly and still larger in the two Houses of Convocation. Besides that the diocesan conferences, in every instance where a vote was taken, have supported the Measure, and generally by overwhelming majorities. I am told a large petition has been signed which is said to represent the body of opinion against the Measure. I do not know whether it is the same as one that was sent to me, but, if it is, the prayer in it entirely begs the question, and says: "As this Measure is contrary to accepted doctrine, we ought to reject it." I do not admit that it is contrary to accepted doctrine, and I should like to ask any of the people who signed that petition how many of them can tell us what these practices are that are introduced by this new method that are contrary to accepted doctrine?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I believe, is going to speak later.[Interruption.] I asked him to say it. [HON. MEMBERS: "He said it!"] He will have to explain how it is contrary to the practices of 1662, and he will have an opportunity of doing it, I am not an expert in these things, but 2536 I am prepared to take the opinion of the Ecclesiastical Committee and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Within the Church, the opposition has come from the extremists at both ends—from the extreme Anglo-Catholics, who do not wish to see their practices so much curtailed, and from the extreme Evangelicals, who think that they have not been curtailed enough. The vast majority in favour of this Measure consists of the huge mass of moderate men and women, and their appeal should not fall on deaf ears in this broad-minded House.
Some critics are inclined to say that we should adopt our disciplinary measures and fix the penalties first. This seems to me to reflect rather the spirit of the Middle Ages. You ought to pile up your wood, fix in your stake, and have someone there ready with a match—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] The first thing you ought to do is to find your heretic. If I understand the spirit of those who feel very strongly on this subject, I think that I shall be right in saying that any threat or idea of persecution would be much more likely to strengthen them in their opposition than if we proceeded first of all by methods of persuasion rather than threats, and that is the reason why I did not think it wise that we should adopt our disciplinary measures first. We are told, and I certainly believe it, that the Bishops are determined to require obedience and do their utmost to secure it, and I believe that there will be a general response to their appeal, but there may be some cases in which it will not be possible to-day to carry out their wishes without disciplinary measures. Then they will have to take them, but they are now preparing a scheme for the improvement of our Ecclesiastical Courts which is well advanced and which before long will be laid before the House.
It is rather a remarkable fact that the protagonists against this Measure largely belong to the legal profession. I do not think anyone without their training would have been able to discover so many subjects for suspicion in such scanty material. They have fastened on various regulations and rubrics and have sought to raise suspicions against the motives of the supporters of this Measure. They say here or there is some deviation from the language of 2537 earlier regulations. There must be something more behind this. Beware! [Interruption.] We really ought to take this a little more seriously. I hope that we shall be animated more by the spirit of Christian forbearance than by the dry precision of legal dialectics. Black or red or any other colours of the rubric do not move me very much in this discussion. I do not say that they are unimportant, but I do say that by far the most important thing is to keep our eyes on the large issue. Let us have more confidence in the spirit of tolerance of the people of the Church. Let us remember that the younger generation, who are now interesting themselves in these matters, are looking for more life in our services and less formality.
The main object of the Measure is the reform of the Book of Common Prayer which, except in small details, has not been revised since 1662, although between that time and the Reformation a good many alterations were made. I think it is not possible to contend that the conditions that existed 250 years ago are similar to those that exist now. There is no other branch of life in which modifications have not been made to meet the enormous changes and improvements that have taken place. Why cannot we do it in the Church of England? Would the Home Secretary feel happier if he was obliged to hang a man for sheep stealing?
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN
I give him credit for more humane motives. The cause of Christianity desires that our forms of worship should be in harmony with modern thought and modern requirements. There are many organisations working in the Church, and with it, which did not exist in 1662. May we not pray for the success of their work? We want such breadth in our services that the realities of life may find expression in the prayer and the praise that we offer. Our services should be such that they may strike a chord of sympathy with the joys and sorrows, and cares and duties of our daily life, and it is to make this more possible, to readjust our services to meet the new conditions, that we ask that this Measure should be passed. There are, of course, many who would prefer no change. Adoption of the new order is optional. It is 2538 quite possible to go on with the old Prayer Book as it was for those who wish it, and the wishes of a congregation can be ascertained through the congregation and through the parish church council. If there be a difference between the incumbent and the church council, there is an appeal to the Bishop.
Another object is to define clearly the practices which should be tolerated, so that we may be able to suppress those which cannot. It is only when this is done that discipline and order become possible. Therefore, we are asked to sanction a Measure which, while leaving it optional to retain the old form, concedes such variety as the trend of modern ideas demands. It is recommended by a huge majority of representatives of the Church, and is only opposed by the extreme parties at both ends. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I do not mean here, I am speaking of the Church Assembly. The Measure is the result of the patient and laborious work of 20 years in carrying out the directions which this very Parliament issued to the Church. It promises to bring new life and reality into our worship. It enables the Bishops more easily to eradicate false doctrine, and to unite all moderate men in loyalty to accepted forms of worship.
Those who are opposing this Measure, I think, are those who ask for more and better discipline in the Church. They have now, it seems to me, a far better chance of promoting better order and better discipline in the Church, but even now they are not satisfied. It seems to me that their action, if I am right in interpreting it, is a desire to prevent any approach to Roman practices in the Church. I am sure that I am not wrong in saying that. If that be their desire, they are not going the right way to produce the result which they wish. If they succeed in defeating this Measure they will produce a state of chaos in the Church. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Well, the whole object of the Royal Commission was to produce better discipline, and this is the Measure by which it is hoped to produce it.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to deliver my own speech in my own way. 2539 This is the first chance of establishing that discipline in the Church. If it is rejected, those who carry on Romish practices will be left entirely unaffected, and by throwing out this Measure the people who want to strike at the extreme ritualist section will clean miss them and will be striking a deadly blow at the vast majority of moderate people in the Church. I can imagine that those who dislike the Church of England may wish to reject this Measure. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
I would ask hon. Members not to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. This is a very serious occasion.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
It is a serious Measure, and I, at least, resent the suggestion that anyone who takes an opposite view has either disregard of or enmity towards the Church.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I said that I could quite understand anybody who disliked the Church of England voting against this Measure. Those were the words I used. I am not blaming anybody. If I very much disliked the Church of England, I do not know why I should not vote against this Measure.
§ Dr. SALTER
The insinuation that people who are opposed to this Bill dislike the Church of England.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I never insinuated anything of the kind. What I did say was that I could quite understand if they voted against it, and I would give them credit for it. That is exactly what I said. I can understand many other people who hold extreme views on the subject voting against the Measure, and I could make allowance for them. I am not complaining on that score. There are many people of extreme views who have 2540 arrived at those views by conscientious methods and careful thought, and I am not complaining in the least if they feel themselves bound to vote against this Measure. The hon. Member has entirely misunderstood the objects of my remarks. I have said that I could perfectly understand their attitude, but what I do not understand is that a large number of people who want to see the services of the Church of England improved but have no decided views themselves are not supporting the Church, when the Church has obeyed the instructions of Parliament in bringing forward a Measure for the improvement of discipline. I hope that those who have no very decided opinions on this subject, and who realise what a blow it would be to the Church if this Measure is rejected, will support the Measure and not take refuge in abstention. I cannot believe that those who wish to see Christian worship brought into touch with modern life will take the heavy responsibility of rejecting a Measure which is earnestly desired by the vast majority of those who are entitled to speak for the Church of England.
§ Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS
I should like to acknowledge at once the courtesy and the clarity with which my right hon. Friend has made his speech this afternoon, and I hope that nothing that I say will convey any sense of hard feeling on the part of those who differ from me. I suppose that I have never made a speech in this House under a greater sense of responsibility and a greater sense of anxiety than I do this afternoon. I have been, it is true, concerned with this discussion for very many years; in fact I was a witness before the Royal Commission in 1905. From that time onward I have-I am sure my right hon. Friend will grant me this-conscientiously believed in the Protestant and Evangelical side of the Church of England; but I want the House to realise that just as I believe in my views I accord to those who differ from me the same sincerity and the same honesty that I claim for myself.
When my right hon. Friend dealt with the question of doctrinal differences in the new Prayer Book, he quoted the authority above all others which churchmen reverence, that of His Grace the Primate; an authority whom I have had personally the privilege of knowing as a 2541 friend for very many years, and with whom I have discussed this matter. I, of course, accept his view as being held as strongly, as clearly and as conscientiously as it can possibly be. On the other hand, I find such a great ecclesiastical lawyer as Lord Parmoor, writing to the newspapers a few months ago saying, quite definitely, that the new Prayer Book does introduce as an alternative a change of doctrine. I heard the Lord Bishop of Worcester, two days ago in another place, speaking from the Episcopal Bench in the presence of the Archbishop, quite definitely, quite strongly, and I am sure equally conscientiously, say that in his view there was a distinct change of doctrine embodied in the new Prayer Book. There is a distinct difference of opinion on that subject amongst those who speak with authority on both sides of the question.
We have to get back to the main principles of our own beliefs. We all have from the very beginning of our lives been trained in different schools of thought. Those of us who believe in the school of thought to which I belong are quite definitely of the opinion that there are alterations in this Book of a very serious character. That is an opinion, I can assure the House, not merely of lawyers, not merely of ecclesiastics, but I know from my own letter book, from my own correspondence every day for many weeks past, that it is the opinion of vast numbers of humble laymen and laywomen throughout the country who stand by the Protestant character of the Church of England, who have been brought up in it and who hate the idea of any alteration being made in that one part of the service of all others, the service of Holy Communion, which will bring it nearer to the mediaeval ideas which were ablished by us at the time of the Reformation.
It may be quite true that the new scheme is right. It may be equally true that the doctrines of the Church of Rome are right, but it is quite clear that the doctrines of the Church of Rome or any doctrines approximating to those of the Church of Rome are not the doctrines which were established by us at the time of the Reformation. I do not propose to say one word against the doctrines of the Church of Rome; they are not in dispute here. All I have to say is that they are not the doctrines of our Church and that there are many things 2542 done in our Church to-day which, as the Royal Commission itself said, areon the Romeward side of the dividing line.My right hon. Friend dealt with the Royal Commission and said, quite truly, that the Royal Commission advocated a change in the Prayer Book before there was a change in the Ecclesiastical Courts. I am afraid, with great deference to him, that he has not read the Report of the Royal Commission at a recent date. The Report of the Royal Commission, quite clearly, said—it will be found on page 72 or page 73—that:The fact that reforms are needed is not an adequate reason for allowing defiant lawlessness to go on unchecked pending their adoption.Then they mention various practices which are carried on, which they say are of an exceptional character. They are practices all of which have been carried on continuously in the Church of England since 1906; since the Commission itself signed the Report. That Report was signed by the Lord Archbishop, by the then Bishop of Gloucester and by the then Bishop of Oxford. The Report proceeds:Among the practices which we have already distinguished as being of special gravity and dignificance will be found the following—After detailing the practices they say:These practices have an exceptional character as being marked by all the three following characteristics.I need only refer to one of the characteristics:(1) They are clearly inconsistent with and subversive of the teaching of the Church of England as declared by the Articles and set forth in the Prayer Book.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I did not want to make too long a speech but if the House desires I will read them:The interpolation of the prayers and ceremonies belonging to the Canon of the Mass.The use of the words 'Behold the Lamb of God,' accompanied by the exhibition of a consecrated wafer or bread.Reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which lead to its adoration.Mass of the Prae-sanctified.Corpus Christi processions with the Sacrament.Benediction with the Sacrament.2543Celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the intent that there shall be no communicant except the celebrant.Hymns, prayers and devotions involving invocation of or confession to the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Saints.The observance of the festivals of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Sacred Heart.The veneration of images and roods.I do not think anybody would deny that these things are consistently practised in some churches in this country to-day. For 21 years after the decision of the Royal Commission, signed by the three Bishops, including His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, these things have been allowed to go on, although the Royal Commission distinctly said that although reforms are necessary, we need not wait for the reforms in order to put a stop to these particular things in our own Church.
One would like to see many of these changes in other parts of the Prayer Book; but the real trouble is with regard to the Service of Holy Communion—the real trouble is in the proposed authorisation of the Reservation of the Sacrament, which has not been part of the law of the land or the Church up to the present moment. It is now proposed to authorise that under conditions which will not permit of Adoration. I will not discuss the niceties of Transubstantiation, or the change that takes place in the Consecration of the Sacred Elements, but I say quite definitely to those who differ from me that if in Consecration there is a change, spiritual if you like, but a definite change by the act of Consecration, and if you reserve anywhere these Sacred Elements, which in your honest opinion have suffered a distinct change by the act of Consecration, then I agree that you are entitled to worship.
I cannot help saying that if an honest man believes there is a kind of sacred change—and I am not going into the niceties of it—which brings the body and blood of our Lord, spiritually if you like, into the corporeal presence of bread and wine, and you reserve these in an Aumbry or Tabernacle, it is difficult to say that you shall not worship, as thousands of men and women are doing to-day. We say that it is so much safer and better for the preservation of the true doctrines of the Church of England that Reservation should not be legalized 2544 or sanctioned, even though it is put in an Aumbry on the north side of the Chancel or in the Chapel.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
If it is only for the comfort of the sick, why should it not be reverently put in a cupboard, where nobody can worship it? Although it is only reserved for the purposes of the sick, it is placed in a specific spot in the church itself, where it is known, and men and women do, and probably must, from their own religious point of view use it as an object of worship. It is being done to-day. You can go into church after church. Here is one in the diocese of London, St. Martin's, Plaistow. Under the porch there is this announcement:The Blessed Sacrament is perpetually Reserved on the North side of the Altar. It is hoped that no one will leave the Church without an act of homage to the Presence which is in our midst.Here is a pamphlet headed, "The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament," which says:We would urge that all priests should immediately start public services for the adoration of the Reserved Sacrament.The House will no doubt take it from me that there are many churches where that is being done. At St. Mary with St. Thomas', Charterhouse, in London, a few months ago, there was a children's service. During the service, and before the Tabernacle was opened, the priest said to the children:Jesus is our King and we are going to see him when the Tabernacle doors are opened in a minute.Then the doors were opened and the Host was elevated, and the children were told by the attendants to bow. It is difficult to deal with these sacred questions here, but that is the reason why so many of us are so anxious about these services, if you like illegal, if you like, not in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England, which are going on every day, and which if Reservation be legalised, knowing human nature as we do, surely we may assume they will go on more and more. If you want another authority as to the change of doctrine, everyone knows Father Woodlock, the well-known Jesuit Priest. He says:The new alternative order of Communion included elements previously lack- 2545 ing which quite definitely brought it into line with a Mass.We are told that the Bishops are going to allow access to the Reserved Sacrament for the purposes of private prayer. Private prayer in the presence of the Reserved Sacrament goes dangerously near private prayer to the Reserved Sacrament. Unless there is in the hearts of the Anglo-Catholic, or High Churchman, a belief in something more than the mere corporeal bread and wine, why should he wish to make his prayers in the presence of the Reserved Sacrament, why not in any part of the church? Simply because he has been taught that there is something for him of benefit to him in the Reserved Sacrament.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am not disputing the honesty of those people who desire this, but I am saying that up to this time it has not been part of the doctrines of the Church of England, and we are now being asked to go back to medieval times. Why has this been brought about? The Bishop of Durham was quite candid in the House of Lords yesterday. The whole reason, said the Bishop, why revision was undertaken was because the situation had become literally intolerable. Because the Bishops could not cope with the clergy who took a different view; because they could not attempt to deal with these illegalities in our Church, they ask, in order to bring these illegal men into line with the law, that the law should be altered. The Bishop of London himself said quite frankly, two or three weeks ago, that the new Book gives the Anglo-Catholics all they have fought for for the last 40 years. I am afraid that it comes quite near to that indeed; all they have fought for: all they have been trying illegally to get. They have been trying to get the upper hand in this so-called Protestant Church of our's and because the Bishops cannot deal with them—I absolve the Bishops from any intention deliberately not to deal with them—because they have failed to deal with them, they say, "No we will not try to enforce the law, we will change the law in order to bring it into consonance with their ideas." The Primate himself signed the Report of the Royal Commission, and in his first charge 2546 as Bishop of Winchester, 30 years ago, said:The Bishops and clergy have been of late years too lax, or, to use a colloquial expression, too casual.These are not my words, they are the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury:Episcopal authority will now be exercised decisively, and, if need be, sternly, wherever in England any difficulty arises.It has not been exercised either sternly or decisively. When he replied to a deputation of 140 Members of Parliament in 1903, at Lambeth Palace, he said deliberately—and I want to commend this to those who are supporting the Book and who ask me to be guided by the Archbishop—he said deliberately that in his view of the cases of flagrant and defiant illegality and disobedience, which were very few, tolerance had reached and even passed its limits. The sands had run out, and drastic action was, in his judgment, quite essential. As far as he was concerned, he hoped they would give him, the Archbishop, a little time. It is now 24 years since the Archbishop said this. The sands are still running out today, and nothing has been done. We are asked to trust the Bishops. Therein lies the difficulty. It is not a question of trust. It is a question how so many of them can possibly deal with these offences when they have connived at their existence for 20 years past, and from time to time, have appointed men who they knew to be guilty of these illegalities to offices in the Church.
When I was a witness before the Royal Commission the Archbishop asked me: "Do you want wholesale prosecutions in the Church?" I said, "No." Then he asked, "What then do you suggest?" I said: "My Lord Archbishop, I would not promote these men." That is a suggestion I have been making for years past. There is a vast amount of patronage in the hands of the Archbishops and Bishops. Why appoint to livings in the Church of England men who are guilty of practices and doctrines which the Royal Commission, the late Archbishop Temple, and the Archbishop of York, have declared to be not merely illegal in law but against the doctrines of the Church? The Bishop of London has filled the Diocese of London with these men, and how can he turn round in a fortnight's time and say to them, "You must give up incense, give up adoration 2547 and all these practices." He knows what the answer will be; and not merely the Bishop of London either. A certain Canon made a definite stand in St. Paul's Cathedral the other day and then went back from St. Paul's and conducted an illegal service in his own Church. I have here a list of the services in Canon Bullock- Webster's Church at St. Michael's, Paternoster Royal:Low Mass. High Mass. Requiem Mass for the Departed. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.At the entrance of the Church, or rather outside a small chapel in the Church, is the statement:The Presence Chamber of Jesus Christ. For in this chapel is reserved the Blessed Sacrament ready, with the Holy Anointing Oil in an aumbry close by, to provide comfort and support for sick and dying souls in their extremity.The patron of that church is the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; the man who appoints to this living is the Archbishop. How can the Bishops go to these priests who have disobeyed their views all these years and say, "You must stop"? They will turn round at once, as they have already done, and say to their Bishop, "You have tolerated these things." Here is a letter from two of the best-known clergy in the Diocese of London, the Vicar of All Saints, Margaret Street, a man of high Christian character, and the Vicar of St. Albans, Holborn. They wrote a letter to "The Times" a few weeks ago to this effect:We fear that the impression may have been conveyed that all Anglo-Catholic priests and laity are prepared to accept and loyally abide by the Revised Prayer Book. Without entering into detail, we write to say that we could not accept the proposed restrictions on our methods of work. These methods have been built up over a long period of years with at least the tolerance of our Bishop, and we are profoundly convinced that they cannot be abandoned without grave harm to souls committed to our charge.They turn round in advance, and they say, "You cannot come and tell us to alter our methods when you have tolerated them all these years."
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
They want the rejection of the Measure. They are opponents of the Measure and desire its rejection.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That may be so. I am dealing with the question of how the Bishops are, by merely giving way to these illegalities, unable to insist upon full discipline in the Church of England. My point is, that it would have been much better if they had acted on the advice of the Royal Commission and upon the views of the Lord Archbishop 10, 20, 30 years ago, instead of letting the sands run out all these years and then coming to the Protestants of England and saying, "Give up your Protestantism, because we cannot enforce it upon our clergy." No doubt the House has received, as I have done, a circular from the federation of Anglo-Catholic Priests. There are said to be 1,400 of them, and they quite definitely say that they cannot obey the new Prayer Book. They quite definitely say that they are supporting the Federation of Catholic Priests in their pledges to support those priests who are convinced of the need to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their parish churches. We are told that everything is to be left to the Diocesan, that he may make rules and regulations, that he may prescribe Reservation in his Diocese. The Federation of Anglo-Catholic Priests pledge themselves to support one another against the order of the Bishops given in accordance with the rubric of the new Prayer Book.
There is one other point I should like to mention, and that is the autocracy of the orders to he made by the Bishop. If this Measure passes, we take out of the hands of Parliament a great deal more than we are passing through Parliament to-day. We are giving the Bishops the power to make rubrics; we are giving the Bishops power to make regulations for new services.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
My Noble Friend shakes his head, but here it is in the Measure, in Clause 4:The Archbishop and Bishops of each province may from time to time make and at their discretion rescind such rules as are required or authorised to be made by them under any rubric of the Deposited Book, and any rules so made shall have effect within the province for which the same are made as if contained in rubrics of the Deposited Book.No appeal to Parliament, no appeal to the Church Assembly, no appeal to any- 2549 one! They may make rubrics and they may also issue supplementary forms of public service. The Archbishop and Bishops may from time to time issue such orders and forms of Public Prayer supplementary to the orders and forms contained in the Book of Common Prayer as they may consider desirable. There is no appeal. As far as I know, the only person who can decide whether a Bishop has made a rule or a supplementary form in accordance with law is the Bishop himself. We are giving these powers, we, the Commons of England, are handing over these powers regarding the National Church to these Bishops, who up to the present have failed, I wish to say in all charity, possibly through inability to enforce discipline and order in the Church.
There is one other great difficulty to which I should like to call the attention of the House. I said just now that my proposal had been that these men should not have been promoted or appointed to livings. That is the view of the Arch-Bishop in 1906. This is the view of the Royal Commission:Our attention"—says the Royal Commission, which was signed by three Bishops—has been drawn in several instances to the fact that clergymen, as to whose conduct of services just complaint has been made, have been collated to their present benefices by Bishops, with the result that grave irregularities, which might have been put down, have been continued.… We feel bound to express our regret that the advice of Archbishop Temple has not been always acted upon, and advantage taken of a vacancy in a living in Episcopal patronage to put a stop to at least the graver irregularities in the conduct of public worship in the church of that parish.That was signed by the Archbishop and two other Bishops. It is their considered view, apart altogether from alterations in discipline, that when there is a vacancy and the Bishop is the patron, he should take the opportunity of putting in a man who will not flagrantly break the law as has been done in a great many cases.
In conclusion, there is one other thing I want to say, because I want the House to realise that this is not entirely a matter for the Church of England. As long as the Church is established, the final right lies with Parliament. To-day, the final right lies with the Commons of 2550 England. In another place, there was a Division which disposed of the matter there, but the final appeal which the Protestants, the old-fashioned believers in the Church of England, make to-day is to this House of Commons. I am told that some hon. Members do not wish to vote in this matter because they are not members of the Church of England. I say to those Members: "You are not sent here as Nonconformists, you are sent here as Members of Parliament. You have no right in, perhaps, the most difficult and dangerous vote that this House has ever given, to disfranchise your constituents." Vote against me if you wish, vote for the new Prayer Book if you wish, but every Member who comes to this House has a bounden duty to consider for himself the great issues which are put before him and to decide those issues in what he believes to be the interests of right and justice. He has no right to escape from his responsibility by saying that he is a member of some other Church or not a member of a Church at all. He is a Member of the British House of Commons and is responsible to his constituents. I do earnestly appeal to the House to deal with this matter. Having regard to the interests of the nation as a whole, having regard to interests of those masses of people, hundreds of thousands of them, who have revered the Prayer Book all their lives, who have regarded it as second only to their Bible, I ask those Members to consider the views which we have tried to put before them and which have been put before the country in another place. There is only one other thing which I wish to ask, and that is that when this Debate is over all Members of the House of Commons will realise the enormous importance of the action they have taken and will realise the necessity of remembering that beyond the Church, beyond the services, there is something more, that we as a House of Commons have to think of and that we as Members have to think of. We have to think of the cause of Christian charity.
§ Mr. AMMON
This is one of the few occasions on which this House is called upon to give decisions unaided by party Whips or unaided by party policies and programmes. We are called upon to-day to give a decision on what, I venture to say, is one of the most important 2551 questions concerning the Church and organised Christianity in this country that has been before the country within living memory. We have, during the last few weeks, had keen interest and discussion on this subject. Expositions have been given within the precincts of this House by learned and distinguished Divines both of the Anglican Church and the Nonconformist Church. They have put before us the various positions and aspects of the case that we are called upon to consider. I want at this moment to say that my position has been made very much easier by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I feel now that there is no necessity to plead for the case that I want to make, and I as a Nonconformist feel that I have no reason to apologise, no reason to give any excuse why I should voice my opinions and help, as far as I can, to direct the judgment of this House on this important question. In fact, I will go so far as to say that it is not only my right but my bounden duty to form my opinion and to give my opinion on a matter of such vital and far-reaching importance. During the time, and as long as, this matter was kept within the confines of the Assemblies of the Church of England itself, it was the concern of the Church of England. But the moment it appeals to Parliament and comes to Parliament as representing the nation, it is the duty of every Britisher to make up his mind with regard to the matter.
It is a matter that is of very much wider importance than just concerning, if I may say so without disrespect, the sectarian interests of any body of organised Christianity. It is the concern of the whole nation, and in that respect I ask this House to consider the position of Free Churchmen in this issue. I speak as one. Here we are called upon in a certain Measure to decide a question that concerns the organised religious life of the nation as a whole. On the other hand, we are asked to consider and to give a decision respecting the government, the professions of faith and doctrine of a Church of which we are not members. I am bound to say, when I look at this matter in all its bearings, that, whatever may be 2552 the vote which is cast in this House to-night, I believe that the question of Disestablishment has been brought immeasurably nearer by the verdict which will be taken after this Debate. But, whether that be so or not, I believe that question will ultimately have to be faced, for this House cannot tolerate, and will not tolerate, so often being brought face to face with questions like this, but will demand that the Church must settle questions for themselves and must be free, as other Churches are free, to decide them without coming and holding up the other business of the House on matters in which, in many respects, it is probably not the best Court to give a decision.
It was my privilege to be a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee and of the sub-committee appointed by that body to consider the matters that are now before us. It was an impartial Committee composed of representatives of all phases of religious life, and therefore could not have been known to have been biased in one way or another regarding any question brought before it. Like other members of the Committee, I was immediately deluged with an avalanche of communications which for violence of language and uncharitableness of expression made one doubt very much whether the writers of them were at all acquainted with the Book which we were considering, and on which we had to give some decision. I want to say something with regard to the claim as to the volume of public opinion against the Deposited Book. While, as I have said, I have been deluged with communications from organisations from various parts of the country, yet, speaking for my own constituency, I can count on the fingers of one hand all the protests I have had against this Measure. Of my own initiative I have taken upon myself the task, feeling it was my duty both as a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee and of this House, of interviewing all the clergy and Nonconformist ministers in my Division. With one exception, every clergyman is in favour of the Deposited Book, and so far as the Nonconformists are concerned, not one of them has offered any opposition to it. I think that that is important, as an experience which I have sought myself.
I want to say frankly that in my own Division I have not been pestered by 2553 either side, but on seeking for information those are the results of my investigations. I have mortified the flesh and, I hope, strengthened the spirit, by perusing the documents that were sent to me as a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee. I want to say that I joined that Committee and the sub-committee biased against the Deposited Book. After very careful and earnest consideration of the subject, as one who has a very deep concern, like the last speaker, for the religious life and order of the nation, I have come from that Committee and have decided to support the Measure, and I ask my friends behind me and other Members of the House whether they can see their way to take a similar line. The important matter that we had to consider as members of the Ecclesiastical Committee was whether there was in the Deposited Book any change of doctrine of constitutional importance to His Majesty's subjects. We went into that question with very great care, and I am bound to say that of all the committees on which I have served in all my public life I have never served on one that went into the matter under review in so unbiased and impartial a manner as did this Committee. Without any preconceived notions the Committee arrived at its decisions on the merits of the case as presented to them.
In order that the House may be apprised of the case as put to them, the Ecclesiastical Committee have taken the step of putting before the House in their Report the case for and against, upon which we base our opinion. In our Report, on page 5, we say, on this particular point:
The Committee take the view that no change of doctrine of constitutional importance is involved, that accordingly the constitutional rights of all His Majesty's subjects are not in this respect prejudicially affected, and there is nothing to modify the purport of the Coronation Oath.As one who is uncompromisingly Protestant in religious belief, I stand here as a supporter of this Measure, believing sincerely that there is nothing in it that shakes the foundations of our Protestant faith or in any way invalidates the Oath taken by the Sovereign to defend the Protestant faith and religion. The Home Secretary quite rightly said that he stands for the Protestant religion. Of course, no one dare suggest anything to the contrary, and I at once accept his 2554 statement. The House must have been impressed by the vibrant sincerity of the Home Secretary in his presentation of his case. I know he will agree that others feel as strongly who take the opposite view of the case. But, after all, it is well to remember that the Reformation was partly political. It was partly concerned with questions of faith and partly concerned with questions of order. As far as the political aspect and controversies are concerned, they are past. The questions of faith, so far as the Ecclesiastical Committee can see as a result of very careful consideration, are in no way invalidated. The question of order is one that is bound up with this Deposited Book, and if this Book be rejected the result will be to throw the whole Church into chaos and disunion. With that part of the subject I propose to deal more fully later.
That the Prayer Book as now used will still be the Book must be kept in mind constantly by this House. I hope that this discussion will not degenerate into mere verbal juggleries and questions of dialectical skill in argument in the ordinary way, but that we shall keep before us the broad issues involved, and above all the vital and bigger question of religious tolerance and the rights of religious worship and freedom, which are the matters with which we are concerned and which are indissolubly bound up with the question that we are considering. It will be as easy as anything for Members to get up and to score a point here and there to questions that are not strictly logical and will not bear investigation so far as dialectical skill and theological argument are concerned. But that is not our business. It may be our business on other occasions. We are to-day concerned with questions that are far more vital to the millions of people who are looking very anxiously to this House, because so much is bound up with the faith that they hold dearer than anything that we can consider in material or temporal ways. On page 52 of the Ecclesiastical Committee's Report it states:
No Minister is obliged to use any forms of service other than those contained in the Book of Common Prayer; and if any question arises between the Minister of the Parish and the Parochial Church Council as to the use of the alternative forms, provision is made for referring that question to the Bishop.2555 I hope the House will understand that statement. There, in the clearest and most definite language, it is stated that the Prayer Book is still the Prayer Book and will still remain in use in the services of the Church of England. Questions that might arise between the Minister of the Parish and the Parochial Church Council as to the alternative form will be submitted to the Bishop for decision, and it has been stated repeatedly that the Bishops cannot fail to take into consideration the expressions of the worshippers in the churches and of those who are concerned therewith. We must expect some measure of belief in the faith of those men who are called to such a very high office. The Archbishop of Canterbury has made very definite his statement with regard to these matters. He says:
I am absolutely unconscious of any departure from the principles of the reformed Church to which I declared allegiance at my ordination 52 years ago, and I have striven to maintain them ever since. If I thought that our proposal was calculated to contravene or to impair those principles, I should not be standing here. But I believe nothing of the kind.I submit that it would be very difficult to ask more of the Archbishop than so definite and specific a statement, which cannot be dissociated from the very high office that he holds in the Church. What this House is concerned with is that we accept such a statement as that as given in good faith, with a sense of the authority with which it is spoken, and it will be for the House to judge, after they have given consent to this Measure, whether or not that statement has been adhered to in the light of the added authority that will be given to the Archbishop by the backing and the support of the votes in the Church Asembly and in Parliament, both Lords and Commons.
I want to ask the House to consider what would happen if by any means this Measure were rejected. The whole moral authority of the Archbishop and the Bishops would have gone for ever, and it would be absolutely impossible for anything like order to be maintained in any way in the Church. Trouble of a far-reaching kind and disorder such as we have not known, and chaos, would be bound to prevail. We would, by rejection of the Measure, render the Archbishop and those concerned with him in the 2556 government of the Church, not only helpless, but we would undermine their moral authority, and put them in a position of complete humiliation. It is well to note that the Archbishop wrote to a distinguished Nonconformist divine, Professor Carnegie Simpson, as follows:You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience and will do their utmost to secure it.Those are very emphatic words, and as they are given with the weight and the authority with which they are given they are very solemn words. They could not have been written unless there were in the mind of the one who wrote them the determination to carry out the desire of the Church as expressed in the Book, and of Parliament, namely, that everything will be done to require immediate obedience and observance of the decision. I observe that the Home Secretary, when challenged by an hon. Member behind him as to the reading out of a list of things mentioned in the Report of the Royal Commission, omitted to mention that in every case every one of these is decided and is not in any way altered by the Revised Book. All those things are condemned as distinctly Romish in their tendency. It is not unfair that I should call attention to what would have been an omission unless it had been specifically called forth.
If there be a change, we have to remember that while there might be much to be said against Reservation, the proposal of the Deposited Book tends rightly to limit the question of Reservation as observed at the present time. That is one of the matters which will have to be dealt with by the Archbishop under the pledge which he has given. The Book, in fact, greatly reduces those illegal practices which are complained of by opponents of the Measure. It is well also to remember that these practices are not the only illegal practices. Practices are going on in the Church of England to-day which are equally illegal and to which no objection is being taken by the opponents of the Deposited Book. No one has a right to expect to have matters all his own way or to deny other people also having the right to hold conscientious scruples with regard to certain things. It seems to me that this book, going between the two extremes, provides that 2557 road which has always been taken by Britain in times of difficulty. It provides a compromise and a, way whereby we may be able to get the greatest common measure of agreement on things which are vital—things which experience and practice have shown to be demanded by those who seek the spiritual ministrations, the sustenance and the support of the Church.
I notice that little has been said with regard to the voting in connection with this matter, and I hope little will be said. Not all of us in this House would go scot free with regard to a challenge of that kind. Each Measure that passes through this House is not carried through by the fullest possible weight of votes that could be cast for it, but the machinery is provided and if advantage be not taken of that machinery, then it is not a legitimate complaint to say afterwards that some of the people who could have voted failed to do so. The machinery is there. A complaint of that kind reminds me of the kind of solace to which some of us in this House are accustomed to when we talk of "moral victories" in cases where we have failed to secure that which we set out to achieve. If I may digress for a moment, I would also remind some of the opponents of the Measure that in this matter they are up against a form of voting which they were advocating a little while ago. They are up against the principle of "contracting in" as against the principle of "contracting out." They see now the effect of that principle with regard to this Measure. Here is the principle of "contracting in" put into operation, and, evidently the result is not altogether pleasing to those who advocated it in another connection.
I turn for a moment to the position taken up by Free Churchmen. It has been said that, very largely, the Free Churches are against this Measure. I am not wholly out of touch with Free Church talk and opinion in regard to this and other matters, and I say, without fear or any apology, that nobody has any right to make such a statement. The main bodies, the larger sections of the Free Churches in this country have already expressed themselves as well disposed towards this Measure through the voices and pens of their leading representatives. I need only refer to such as 2558 Professor Carnegie Simpson, Dr. Garvie and Dr. Scott Lidgett as representing some of the largest bodies in the Free Churches. They have expressed themselves, unhesitatingly, as friendly and, in a measure, and as far as they can, they have expressed themselves in support of it. But I understand that among some of my Friends there is a feeling that this Measure may to a certain extent prevent that uniting of the Free Churches with the Anglican Church which is desired. They think that the Deposited Book will put up a barrier making it impossible for that desired end to be achieved. Surely, that proposition cannot stand for a moment. It seems to me that the very reverse will be the result. Here we shall have a very distinct declaration that will keep within very close limits what are held by opponents of this Measure to be Romish practices.
§ Mr. AMMON
I venture to say that the division between them is not a question of doctrine but the question of Establishment. That is a far more insuperable barrier than anything else, and if my conjecture be right, that this Measure and the discussions upon it may advance considerably the question of Disestablishment, then that circumstance also should hasten the time when the Protestants of both the Established Anglican Church and the Free Churches will be brought together. In this respect I will quote two well-known Free Church organs. The "Methodist Times" of 13th October said:Free Churchmen as a whole desire for the Anglican Church like liberty as they themselves possess. They believe that the Deposited Book fairly used and interpreted will be an instrument for peace.Dr. Scott Lidgett, writing in the "Review of the Churches," said:Nor can the Free Churches in the light either of their principles or their history treat the Prayer Book of 1662 as so sacrosanct that no revising hand may be laid upon it. The difficulties of the situation are obvious. The care and the caution with which the Archbishops and Bishops have endeavoured to meet them are equally obvious. They are entitled to confidence in their goodwill, to admiration for their skill and the hope that they may be successful.I want, in conclusion, to say that an hon. Friend of mine on these benches seems to have misinterpreted something which I said just now. I wish to say that nobody holds in higher respect and 2559 esteem the faith in which so many millions of our people believe, as expressed through the Church of Rome.
§ Mr. AMMON
I, for one, would be the very last to utter any word or any chance phrase which would give any idea that I was saying anything disrespectful against them. But as we are situated, the Protestant religion is the accepted religion of this land and that is the only matter with which we are concerned. What we ask the House to face is this. We say that the Deposited Book in no way contravenes that Protestant religion and because it does not contravene that religion we have every confidence in recommending it to the House. I appeal to the House and in particular to my own Friends who have known a great deal as to the fight for liberty of speech and the right to worship, that we should not deny those rights and liberties to others who are seeking them. There is no indication to us that those who are seeking such liberties have in any way betrayed their trust. On the other hand, we have the right to say that should disorder prevail in the Church, should the Bishop's authority prove inadequate to meet the needs of the situation, then the nation itself will take this matter in hand. The people themselves will, in that event, see to it that the Church sets its house in order. In no uncertain manner they will say that the time has come to remove this matter from controversy and that the Church will have to face freedom of government equally with other churches. But we have no right to say that until we have exhausted every possibility, now held out to us, until we have given the opportunity which is now being sought to make effective a distinctive pledge that order will be maintained.
We also have the right to ask that there shall be a Book which is fit for 1927 and not 1662. These matters of religious observance and religious understanding alter with time and increasing knowledge, and we ask that that fact should be taken into account. We ask that there shall be no further continuance of the age-long controversy as to whether we shall worship on this mountain or in Jerusalem; that there shall be freedom for every man to worship as he feels 2560 guided and in the right spirit. We want to clear away all controversy. We want the spirit of the Founder of Christianity to permeate our organised Churches and our national life. Would that half the enthusiasm, half the keenness and half the energy which has been devoted to this problem had been devoted to social, moral and economic problems. But I hope that by removing this controversy we may clear the ground and that the nation and the Church may turn their consideration to these things which rightly concern them, namely, the uplifting of the people, and those other questions which involve moral and spiritual issues. When this House has given by a substantial vote—as I believe it will—its authority for this Book to go forth, I hope it will be understood that it is sent forth in the belief that those in authority will see that discipline is maintained, and that the Church will feel that it is called upon to interpret in the highest and best spirit all that we hold to be true both in the Prayer Book and all those other books of devotion—all that lies at the foundation of our great Protestant faith.
Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman), in his opening sentences, spoke of the travail of his soul. He said that when he first approached this question, his whole instinct was against the innovation. Had he followed that instinct it would not have been the first time that the instinct of the man in the pew proved to be a greater spiritual dynamic to the world than the wisdom of the ecclesiastics or the necessity of organisation. If the Members of this House to-night follow their instincts in deciding against this Book it will not be the first time that the Commons of Britain have proved, in the long run, to be right, even against the opinions of ecclesiastics and others who speak in another place. We can speak as we like about those who hold high office and high position, but no body of men and women are so closely knit to the general feeling and instinct of the people of this country as the Members of the House of Commons. It has been said that it behoves all of us who speak on this question to speak with reverence and gravity, but especially should we do so who are not members of the Communion 2561 of the Church of England. I appreciate the difficulty in which I, for one, am placed. My ideals, my training, my thoughts, are quite contrary to those of the members of the Church of England.
I would much rather be able to say, as some of my friends do say, "What has this to do with us? What have we to do with the Church of England? Why should Members of Scottish constituencies bother their heads about the Church of England? Why should we, to whom the Church of England has been presented since our youth as the great persecuting Church now seek a strange revenge as the descendants of Covenanters by imposing upon Episcopalians a doctrine, when the hills and glens of our country are stained with the blood of our ancestors who fought against the Episcopalians trying to impose their doctrine upon us?" I can understand a Member of this House who is of the Jewish faith, who still holds to the faith of his fathers, saying, "How am I, faithful to the old traditions from which Christianity has sprung, now to decide the doctrine of a Christian church?" But what about the position of the man who is a member of the wider communion of the Roman Catholic Church, who cannot but look upon the whole of the Anglican Church and all the Free Churches as aggregations of heretics? What about him? His difficulty is extreme. He is asked to give a decision directing the doctrine of a Church which he does not recognise as anything but heretical, a Church which has broken away from the faith, as he apprehends it, a Church which has been hostile for centuries to his Church.
It seems strange to me that a great organisation like the Church of England, existing for a spiritual purpose, should be content to have its doctrine and its policy directed even remotely by men and women who are outwith its communion, but I heard in the other place yesterday and the day before the declaration that it was the undoubted right of every Member of Parliament to take a part in this matter. I do not claim the right. I was told also that there was a deep and profound obligation upon every Member of Parliament to take a part. I will not shirk that responsibility. I wish it were not laid upon me. We have seen our Free Churches, Presbyterian 2562 Churches, Roman Catholic Churches, grow and flourish, grow in strength and in stature by standing upon their own feet in absolute freedom. We wish well to the Church of England and all its members, and we wish that they would follow our example and go along their own way, not at our directing, but only with our blessing.
But this is an obligation imposed upon me. The Church of England is, and always has been, a Protestant Reformed Church. That was its origin; that is why it has a separate existence. It is not a Roman Catholic Church. There are very many differences between a Protestant Reformed Church and a Catholic Church. There are differences in government, differences in machinery, differences in faith, but through the centuries there has been one fundamental principle upon which has turned the whole irrepressible conflict of the two Churches, and I will not speak of any part of this Deposited Book save that one. It is a question of doctrine, and why should we hesitate to discuss in this House a question of doctrine? It is not the first time that questions of doctrine have been discussed in this House. It is a question of doctrine, the question of the Tightness or wrongness of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. We are not to discuss whether it is right or wrong, but it is the fundamental dividing principle between the two Churches.
§ Mr. DUNNICO
I did not question the statement; I simply assert that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is not raised in the new Book.
I thank my hon. Friend for having removed from my mind the suggestion that he conveyed that this principle, this theory of the Real Presence was not the dividing principle. It is. When Cranmer and Ridley and Latimer were taken from the Tower of London down to Windsor to dispute upon this question with the learned men and saints of Oxford and Cambridge, there were only three questions set before them. Each one of those questions was the question of the Real Presence in one 2563 form or another. The matter is so serious that I have gone back to a book I have not seen for many years, Foxs "Book of Martyrs," to certify the suggestion, and these were the three questions:That was the dividing line, and that has remained the dividing line throughout the centuries. So long as that dividing line remains, the Church of England stands as a Protestant Reformed Church. Directly that dividing line is stepped over, it becomes possible for the Church of England to unite itself with the Church of Rome and impossible for the Church of England to unite with the other Protestant Church. Does the Church of England stand for the Protestant Reformed opinion concerning this mystery of the Real Presence? I agree that it is very difficult to argue about things of this kind, because they are not intellectual opinions, they are not even convictions, they are something deeper than that; they are apprehensions, and I speak with the utmost deference and respect for every other opinion firmly held, but I do believe that the best contribution that we can make to this or to any other problem is to speak our minds freely and without reserve upon the question.
- "1. Whether the Natural Body of Christ be really in the Sacrament after the words spoken by the priest or no?
- 2. Whether in the Sacrament after the words of consecration any other substance do remain than the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ?
- 3. Whether in the Mass be a sacrifice propitiatory for the sins of the quick and the dead?"
Does the Church of England adhere as an organised unit to the position which it took up at the Reformation against the doctrine of Transubstantiation?— [HON. MEMBERS: "Certainly!"] Is it universally admitted? The Black Rubric, which is referred to—it is not a rubric, but a declaration of doctrine—declares that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is idolatrous and is abhorrent. In order that there might be no doubt, the vestments that were worn associated with Transubstantiation were forbidden; in order that there might be no doubt, bread was ordered and not a wafer; in order that there might be no doubt, the bread was ordered to be broken. We who know the history of these things know that that is a very im- 2564 portant thing, that upon one occasion the whole Church was thrilled by the question as to what would happen if a crumb of consecrated bread that had been transmuted into the body of the Lord should be eaten by an animal, and those who founded the Church of England said that the bread should be broken by the minister in the presence of the Communion. They said also that none of it should be reserved lest it became a stumbling block, and that whatever was left over should be reverently eaten.
Why should they do all that? These men were not fools. These men had risked their lives for this principle. Why did they do that? Because they believed in it. Yes; but so that no others following them should ever have to risk their lives, so that there should never be any doubt in the mind of any person communicating in the Church of England as to the position she took up on that question. That, until about 30 years ago, has remained the definite position of the Church of England. It has now changed. We have heard a good deal about what the Bishops will do. In the year 1924 Bishop Gore, with 3,000 clergy of the Church of England, made this declaration: The signatories affirm that they hold it to be the genuine doctrine of the Anglican Church that they have received Apostolic Orders through their Bishopswith the purpose that we should offer the unblooded sacrifice of the Eucharist for both the living and the departed.A Bishop and 3,000 clergy of the Church of England, which is universally accepted as a Protestant Reformed Church, go on to say:We hold that by consecration the bread and wine are changed and become the true Body and Blood of Christ, and we hold that Christ thus present is to be adored.6.0 p.m.
All honour to men if they believe that when they declare it; but it is not correct to say of the unanimous view of the Church of England that it maintains the Protestant Reformed tradition. It is a Bishop leading 3,000 clergy to declare that they believe certain things to be the true teaching of the Church of England which the rubric of the Church of England Prayer Book declares to be idolatrous and abhorrent. We are not quibbling about doctrines or trivialities as my right hon. Friend mentioned; we are dealing with a great principle that goes right down to the 2565 very roots of religious life. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) has taken a very prominent part in these new developments of the Church of England. Speaking in July, 1923, at the Anglo-Catholic Congress, he said:It is my purpose to-night to speak to you on the social aspect of what, after all, is the most central activity of the Catholic Faith—the Mass. Those who doubt the possibility of direct Divine inspiration in material things, who grudgingly distort our Lord's assurance as to the reality of his Presence into a mere commemorative festival"—I wish the hon. and learned Gentleman would come to Scotland and see an open air Communion. A mere commemorative festival! He says that those who distort his idea into a mere commemorative festival have lost their perspective, and he calls them "Reformation book worshippers." What is the result of their agitation over 30 years? That they are now offered an alternative form of Communion. It does not say that it is to enshrine the principle of Transubstantiation. No, but it breathes every concomitant of the principle. Those who founded this Church as a Protestant Reformed Church, said, "You shall not wear certain garments, because of their association with certain things." To-day, under the new system, the priest officiating at the Communion is to wear, if he cares, the chasuble, the alb and the maniple. I went to an important dictionary in the Library to find out how these words are defined. I find that chasuble is defined as "the upper or last vestment put on by the priest before celebrating Mass." One of my friends of the Roman Catholic Communion has been so good as to explain to me the wonderful symbolism associated with that garment: it is a symbolism which begins and ends with the acceptance of the theory of the Transubstantiation of the Elements. The alb is a vestment of white linen extending to the feet, worn by the Roman Catholic clergy. The maniple is an ornament like a scarf worn about the left arm of the priest at Mass.
The ministers of the Protestant Reform Church when celebrating Communion now are to wear these three garments which are definitely, historically and ecclesiastically confined and restricted to a celebration which presupposes the Real Presence by the trans- 2566 formation of the Elements at the Communion. Is not that an approach towards Transubstantiation? Moreover, they are now to have not the bread, which might crumble, but the wafer. Why a wafer? It is made of the same sub-stance; it is made by machinery; it does not drop like manna from the skies; it is manufactured by a machine driven by steam; and it is stamped with a stamp which is worked by a man. It does not crumble. Why do they wear certain clothes? Because something is going to happen. Why do they take a wafer? Because something is going to happen. Why do they consecrate it? In order that something may happen. Why do they put it away in a little tabernacle? Because something has happened. What has happened? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman, who says that this does not contain any change of doctrine at all, tell me what has happened? Why does the priest wear his garments? That something may happen through him, and through nobody else. What does he, in the faith of his heart, anticipate, by the Grace of God, may happen? What does he understand to have happened when he places the wafer in a special little tabernacle for the faithful to see or even of which to feel the mystical presence? He understands—and there is not one of them who is so casuistical as to deny it —that by this mystery—which to others may be magic but to him is one of the most sacred mysteries in the whole of the living universe—God himself, through him as the instrument, has come down upon the material manufactured by man. That is Transubstantiation, and that is the dividing principle between the two Churches. If the Church of England wants that, then let her have it. Let her go on her journey, and God be with her, but if she does not want it, then she cannot pass this Book.
May I say one more word? In one generation, with that Deposited Book, you can swing over all the children of England from the Protestant Reformed Faith to the Roman Catholic Faith. In five years, with that Book, you can make life impossible for every teacher in a Church school who does not agree with the views of the vicar who is sitting on the committee of management. You are going to re-introduce ecclesiastical tests into your educational system. Do they desire union with the Churches of Scot- 2567 land? I do not know whether the Church of England really does, but she has professed her brotherhood and her kinship many times. If I know anything of Scotland, I know this, that while in 99 things of the world she will work with any church, she will never, she could not by her history, she dare not by the traditions of her people, she would not, because of her own apprehension of God and His meaning to that nation, ever come and join into Communion with a Church, which has deliberately and of set purpose turned its back upon 300 years of Protestant teaching, and link herself with the Church of Rome. Every Church has its own place. Let the Church of England be what it will, but a Church divided against itself cannot stand. I do not believe that the Church of England can permanently endure to be half-Reformist and half-Romanist. Either it will be one thing, or the other. Let the Church choose which it will be, and not throw the obligation upon us. If they do, I for one, confirmed, convinced and determined in my Protestantism, thanking God from my heart that there were men who formed the Reformation which cleansed the Catholic Church as well as gave birth to the Protestant Church—I myself can do nothing but vote against this Measure. I do not want to do it, but I can do no other, so help me God!
Countess of IVEAGH
It is with diffidence that I rise to detain the House for a few minutes, suffering as I do from an impairment of the voice. My feelings on this subject are so strong, that I do not feel that I am able to give a silent vote. I have listened to every word of this Debate, and I have either listened to or read every word of the Debates in another place. I feel that, perhaps, it is not altogether out of place that a woman Member should offer a few observations on this subject, particularly as I was struck during the discussions by references which were made as to the benefit derived by men from the religious sentiments which they imbibed at their mother's knee. I would like to offer a few observations on what, I think, are the four principal objections that have been raised to this Measure. We are told, first of all, that it will not help in restoring discipline in place of the chaos which at present exists in the 2568 Church of England, because a number of clergy have already announced their intention that, if the Measure passes, they do not intend to abide even by the services laid down in the Alternative Book. We have also been told that if the Alternative Book passes, it will be possible for services to be conducted without any petitions for His Majesty the King. We have also been told that the great body of the laity do not desire this Book, and that if their views were more articulate, they would offer the very strongest objections to it. We are further told that this Book involves a change of doctrine and is contrary to what, I think, is described as Protestant Reformed doctrine.
As regards the first point, I would like to ask hon. Members whether, if at present there is a grave lack of discipline —and admittedly there is a grave lack of discipline in the Church of England— we shall achieve anything which will make that discipline better and these illegalities fewer if we reject this Measure? Surely confusion will be worse confounded. First of all, those departures from the Book of Common Prayer which are now, I was going to say, almost universal, but, at any rate, in churches which I have frequented I have invariably found them—some rather contentious, some less contentious, some not contentious at all, will all continue. And so, within a generation, the Prayer Book of 1662 will have very little meaning at all. As to those who commit the graver illegalities, will not the rejection of this Measure give them a fresh impetus? By large majorities the Church Assembly will have laid it down that the present Book is out-of-date and out of harmony with the spirit of the age in which we live. How can we then expect the Bishops to speak with authority or to enforce discipline? As regards the objection that it is possible to conduct services, I- think especially Morning Prayer is meant, without any petition for the King, I think hon. Members who have studied the Book will find that it will require very great ingenuity indeed on the part of any clergyman to succeed, if he follows the rubrics of the Alternative Book, in conducting Morning Prayer without a petition for the King. It has been pointed out to me by a Member of this House that it is pos- 2569 sible by terminating Morning Prayer at a certain point to avoid even the petition in the versicle, "O Lord, save the King!" I give this point—I think it is generous of me—to any hon. Member who would like to use it later on when speaking in this Debate, that it would also be possible, by the same exercise of ingenuity, to omit the Lord's Prayer. It is equally unlikely, and I think that in both cases the fears are entirely groundless.
On the question of whether this Book is opposed by a great body of lay opinion in the Church, I speak as one fresh from a contested election. On that occasion I believe the electorate had the opportunity of voting for a candidate who was opposed to this Measure. I myself made no secret whatever of my intention to support it. I received a few letters from persons who were opposed to the Measure, but very few indeed in proportion to the number of electors in the constituency. I did my best to get into touch with Church opinion in the constituency, and I found that the large body of moderate Church opinion, in so far as I was able to get into contact with it, was in favour of the Measure, although they did not all agree with every one of the details in the Alternative Book. I think the reason for that was a very practical one. In a large, new, evergrowing borough the difficulties and the problems which the Church has to solve are immense, and I think the desire of Church people in that borough was that these age-long controversies should be settled, in order that, having settled them, they should be able to get on with the real work of the Church. At any rate, I can only say that I stood as a supporter of the Deposited Book, with results of which this House is aware.
Now I come to by far the most difficult point, and that is the question: Is this a. departure from the Protestant and Reformed Doctrine? I hesitate very much to touch at all on that part of the opposition to the Book. Like the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, I am a mere representative of the women in the pews. I do not belong to the Evangelicals or to the High Church party. I do not feel that I am competent to discuss all those niceties of theological doctrine which were so ably put before us by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell). I would like to say to Mem- 2570 bers of this House who are not theologians, but practical men, and who are familiar with the present Book of Common Prayer—I expect that every Member who intends to give a vote in this Division has, if he were not already familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, made himself familiar with it—suppose we were now discussing the present book of Common Prayer. Would it not be possible for those who are learned in the law, gifted with eloquence, skilled in debate, to prove that the present Book of Common Prayer was a departure from the Protestant and Reformed Doctrine? To enter into particulars, I would like to ask, for instance, whether we cannot imagine the hon. Member for Paisley asking how it is possible for little children to be asked in the Church Catechism to give the answer which is there contained to the question, "What is the inward part or thing signified by the Sacrament? I can imagine the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary telling us that the form of Absolution in the service for the Visitation of the Sick was giving the Church of England a Rome-ward tendency. The truth is, of course, that every revision of the Prayer Book, the revision of 1558, and the revision of 1662, as the revision of 1927, is the result of a compromise. The Preface says:It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England since the first compiling of her publick Liturgy to keep the mean between the two extremes.It is easy always to argue that compromise is illogical and that it is paradoxical, but this compromise has enabled our National Church to come into existence and to remain in existence for some hundreds of years. It has enabled us to have what, I believe, the people of this nation regard as a very precious heritage, a Book of Prayer common to the nation, and it has enabled men of admittedly widely different schools of thought and different views to hold the faith in unity of spirit. I venture to think that that Christian unity of spirit is of more importance than some of those theological divergences which have been so ably put before the House.
I ask the House to think very seriously before they reject this Measure. It is asked for by the Episcopacy with a remarkable degree of unanimity. It is asked for by the representatives of the laity, and those representatives, after all, 2571 are the men and women who have to do the work of the Church, they are those who have the task of making the Church a living entity, particularly as regards our young people and in our great urban areas. I would ask the House to do nothing which might hamper them in this most difficult task in this critical age, the task of making the Mother Church a real and living entity to what I believe to be a deeply religious nation. The Alternative Book, as the present Book, may be a compromise, but it is a compromise which has been evolved by the British people—and is not the only compromise amongst our institutions—and a compromise which, I think, is suited to the temperament of the British people. What is the real underlying principle of the Reformation and the age of the Re-formation from which we derive in our western civilisation so much benefit? It is that while there should be order and there should be unity, there must still be some scope for liberty of opinion.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
The speeches which have already been delivered in this Debate have set a standard which, if it should be maintained, will make this occasion memorable not only in the history of the Church of England, but in the history of this House. I hope I may be allowed to say in reference to the speech of the Noble Lady that though, as she told us in her opening words, she was speaking under difficulties, her contribution is felt by us all to have maintained entirely any level which has already been set in this Debate. Like some who have already spoken, I have felt, and do feel, in the greatest possible difficulty and distress because of being called upon to cast a vote on this occasion. I wish very much this Debate had come on after the opening of the new year, when for a short time I may expect to be away. I hold most deeply by the view that any attempt to interfere with free judgment in matters of religion is a denial of human rights and is an attempt to enslave the spirit of man. To me, at least, the attempt to exercise authority, to dictate what people should believe, whether that authority be exercised by Parliament or by priest, is equally abhorrent. In debating with myself how I ought to act on this occasion I have asked myself this question: "How can I, who hold so firmly by this right of private judgment, refuse 2572 to recognise the right of the Church Assembly to judge, and to pronounce on behalf of those for whom it speaks, how best their forms of worship may be framed and conducted?"
I assure the House that to anyone who approaches these deep matters from the point of view which appeals to me, it is with a feeling of the acutest distress that I contemplate the possibility of rejecting the appeal made on behalf of the Church of England by the Church Assembly and by its Episcopate, and, as I must be entirely frank, I ought to add that my difficulty is increased by the fact that my own religious convictions are not, I think, of a very orthodox character. It is in the last degree repellant to anybody like myself to push in to pronounce a view or cast a vote on this matter. I am here as a citizen, and as one of a body that has got a constitutional duty of deciding not, if I may respectfully presume to say so, in the interests of the Church, but in the interests of the whole nation, as to whether this proposal in this form should here and now receive our assent. My difficulty takes two different forms. I am one of those who think that something very important happened at the time of the English Reformation, and I know from the stock from which I have sprung, and the people who have now passed away from whom I learned my first impressions, that there is a great, silent body of decent people in this country who have continued to acquiesce in the Establishment of the Church of England upon the sole ground that it was a reformed Protestant Church.
No doubt the English Reformation was very largely a political act, an act of statesmanship. There is no doubt about that, but, after all, it represented then, and it still represents, the broad view of a great mass of ordinary citizens The Noble Lady the Member for Southend (Countess of Iveagh) said that the result of a recent by-election had some significance in guiding the House as to how they should vote on this occasion. I do not think I am wrong in supposing that the principal Government spokesman who went to assist the Noble Lady at that by-election was my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General. I am sure the Solicitor-General will be very much astonished to know that in the persuasive and powerful oration which he on that 2573 occasion delivered, she was engaged in finding proof that the electors of this country desire us to pass this Measure. That is only an illustration. The thing we have always got to keep in mind when we consider this question is that, apart from those who are the convinced and active supporters of the Church of England as by law established, apart from those who, although they do not go regularly to church, go to the Established Church if they go at all, there is a great mass of people in this country who have the most friendly feeling towards Churchmen and Churchwomen, but who continue to acquiesce in the Establishment of the Church of England because they have been satisfied that it is a Protestant Re-formed Church. I have the duty of considering how they regard this matter, and not solely how Churchmen and Church women who support the Revised Book regard it. It is evident from the most moving and eloquent speech, made earlier by the Home Secretary that the great body for whom he speaks feel aggrieved. I say nothing about that. I want to call attention to the fact that there is a great body of people in this country who have acquiesced in the Establishment of the Established Church precisely because they hold the fundamental view expressed by saying that the Church is a Protestant and Reformed Church.
In that situation what is to be done? What is the circumstance, the main and guiding circumstance, which has caused the Church Assembly and the authorities of the Church at this time to bring this matter forward? I was rather sorry to hear the First Lord of the Admiralty use some of the phrases he did, because he did not seem to be addressing himself to the thing which everybody knows was the real cause. The real cause, admittedly, was that, notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of the Church of England—the Noble Lady opposite pointed out most justly how admirable that comprehensiveness was—notwithstanding that, the leaders of the Church are in a position of the greatest difficulty as to how to deal with a body of people of saintly lives, deep convictions, and intense determination, a body of people claiming to remain as members of the Church of England who none the less refuse to accept the discipline of that Church. That is the truth about that. 2574 What is the good of spending time as though this thing revolved about Prayers for the King? The rebellious element in the Church is not rebellious in the sense that it will not recognise the authority of His Majesty, but it is rebellious in connection with the mysteries, the sacred actions and thoughts which are connected with the Communion Service.
The real truth is that this crisis is one that has arisen because of indiscipline and revolt in that regard. What I wish to ask the House of Commons is this: Does anybody suppose that those people who in the past have refused to accept discipline and have insisted upon rebelling, have done so on some comparatively trumpery and unimportant point? Many of them are clergymen who at the time of their Ordination, and in the terms of their Ordination Service, vowed their loyal obedience to the Church of England as established by law. Is it a little thing that has caused them to feel that it is their duty to take up that attitude? I am perfectly certain that the thing which has caused them to take up that attitude is something which goes right down to the essential doctrinal significance of the service of Holy Communion. I do not profess to be able to discuss this metaphysical subject, and I speak of it with sincere respect, but no one will persuade me that a body of men who have felt it to be their solemn duty to act during the last 20 or 30 years as this body has acted to the distraction of religion, have done so on account of a little trumpery thing that can be got rid of by a slight revision of words. The only possible explanation is that to them it is a vital thing.
That being so, I ask myself, and I ask the House to consider, these two questions. The first is, does this proposed change inflict a real injury upon others besides those who desire it? Nobody can have listened to the speech of the Home Secretary and other speeches of that sort without appreciating that inside the Church of England, whether it is a minority or a majority, there is a substantial, reasonable, loyal body of people who feel themselves to be deeply aggrieved by what is now proposed. The question is, should the House of Commons assist in inflicting that injury upon them? After all, they have done nothing wrong. I will repeat what I believe to be at 2575 least as important, and I am speaking from my personal knowledge. I know that outside the Church of England in the sort of home from which I come there are quiet, simple people who think that the Church of England as by law established claims in some respects a superior position, and in the cause of charity and good feeling they have accepted that position as long as the Protestant basis of that Church remains. I invite my colleagues here to ask themselves that question, and to say whether the objects sought to be done here can be attained without inflicting very serious injury and injustice upon other citizens.
The second question I wish to ask is this—I pay all possible respect to the assurances offered by His Grace the Archbishop and the Episcopal Bench: After all, what is the reason for supposing that this is going, in the words of the Noble Lady opposite who has just spoken, to end an age-worn controversy? If I could be convinced that this was going to relieve the Church of England from what must be a most terrible preoccupation; if, indeed, it was going to clear the way for co-operation, good feeling, and true works of charity and religion, I would go a very long way to minimise other objections for the sake of securing that result. But what ground is there for thinking that? I know that a very large body of clergymen of the Church of England, said to number 1,400, have already put on solemn record that what is now proposed will not heal this sore at all. This matter seems to me to raise this dilemma: I take no pleasure in putting it as a dilemma, but, of two things, one, and I want to know which.
Either the promoters of this new Book are doing nothing very drastic, are touching no material point of doctrine, are really contenting themselves with securing more appropriate words for expressing the same thing; or they are really assisting and facilitating a doctrinal change. It is one or the other. If it be the first, if it be a comparatively small thing, then what is the meaning of suggesting that, if we pass this Book, we are going to produce peace in the Church of England, and, if we do not, we are going to create more bitterness? It is attributed to the Bishop of London, I think, that he said that this new Book secured 2576 all that the Anglo-Catholics had been fighting for for 40 years. If that be so, then this is a very big change. But it seems to me to be quite impossible to come to the House of Commons and assure us that these things are mere matters of domestic adjustment not concerning the ordinary citizen, the man who simply claims to look at this matter as a free man, living in a country which has established itself on a Protestant basis —it seems to me impossible to say that it is going to do these great things without seriously affecting the position. It would neither be very candid nor, indeed, very plausible to say that indiscipline will cease if, indeed, you preserve, in all fundamentals, all the doctrinal stumbling-blocks which have caused indiscipline to arise.
I, therefore, with very great regret, feel that my duty here is, not to refuse to vote, but to vote against this Measure, and I would make these two observations in conclusion. The question, it seems to me, is not merely how the new Book will be expounded by loyal and moderate Churchmen. The question is not how the Bishop of Chelmsford and other Churchmen would expound it. The question is, how could it, without absurdity and without exaggeration, be used by those who are anxious for still further extension in a Roman direction? That is the real question. My other observation is this: The Church of England at present is established in this country. I think that most of the arguments of a political kind in favour of the continued Establishment of the Church here have greatly weakened with the passage of time. In the old days, when this House of Commons consisted practically altogether of people who were practising and devoted supporters of the Church of England, it was fair to say that here Parliament was the Church in its civil, legislating aspect, and the Church was the nation in its religious aspect. That is not so to-day. We have admitted into the House of Commons Roman Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Atheists, as well as persons whose religion comes from the East. I am delighted that it should be so; but it does seem to me that there is now only one argument that can fairly be put forward for continued Establishment, and it is this: The Church of England, as by law established down to to-night, can, at any rate, claim that it has pro- 2577 vided, in every parish of the land, a parish church where all who seek consolation and asistance by its services may go, with the knowledge that they are going to get the same thing. That is the meaning of the Book of Common Prayer.
I have often heard Churchmen and Churchwomen take pleasure, as they were entitled to do, in the thought that the very prayers and the very services which were going on in their parish were at the same time going on all over the country. That is quite true; but, as a matter of fact, once you establish this system of alternative use, with all its possibilities of abuse, you are really striking at the last remaining argument for episcopal religion in this country being established. I am not going to pretend here that I think it would necessarily be to the disadvantage of true religion if Disestablishment came, but it is quite clear to me that those who put forward these proposals are really putting them forward without first of all securing the condition, and the only condition, upon which they can properly ask the support of ordinary citizens. If you come here, whatever your body may be—Wesleyans, Episcopalians, what you please—and tell me that, in the deliberate conclave of your Church, you have come to the conclusion that you wish for some modification, in doctrine, in trust deeds, or what not, you have a right to call upon every Member of the House of Commons to support you in the name of freedom; but, as long as the Church of England is an Established Church, we are not only entitled, but bound, to hold that great body to the bond. If I, the son of a Free Churchman, say that in this matter "I was free-born," I am entitled to ask the Church of England to consider whether it must not say with a great sum "obtained I my freedom." No doubt it involves a loss of dignity and status; no doubt it involves, in the case of a good many sincere people, something far more important. They think that this association in some way promotes true religion in our land. But I do not see how we here to-day, being trustees and inheritors of the historic Constitution of our land, are at liberty, merely because we are appealed to by a body of men who are devoted Churchmen, to help them on terms which, it seems to me, inflict grave injury upon other citizens in this country in matters 2578 which are most vital to their belief, and which would preserve the system of Establishment without regard to the Romeward tendency of this change of doctrine.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I need hardly say that I treat this matter as one of the very gravest importance. It is no exaggeration to say that I, who have lived my whole life in the atmosphere of the Church of England, should view with absolute consternation the mischief which would be brought upon the Church of England if this Measure is rejected to-night. I would earnestly appeal to every hon. Member who listens to me to approach this subject, as I am sure all desire to do, in a spirit both judicial and in the best sense of the word religious, and anxious to do justice to this great community, the Church of England, which comes here, under the conditions of Establishment to ask for a Measure which its Bishops, clergy and laity, by an enormous and overwhelming majority, believe to be vitally necessary to the maintenance of order and discipline and the true preaching of the gospel message which it is its function to preach. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) suggests that this is not a solution which the great majority of this House of Commons will adopt. I quite agree that, if this Measure be rejected, a long, difficult and intricate controversy will at once arise as to the relations of Church and State; but I do not believe that the great majority of this House desire that, and I do not believe that even those who desire Disestablishment would all of them, or most of them, desire it to arise out of this sort of side issue, because the Church Assembly asks something which it believes to be necessary for the life of the Church and which the House refuses to grant.
Let me, then, ask the House to consider what is the plain issue before it. The issue is just this: We can only do one of two things; we may either pass the Measure or we may reject it. Which of those two things will do most good to the Church of England, including, of course—prominently including—those who are called Evangelicals? Viewing the whole Church, which will do most good— to pass the Measure or to reject it? Supposing that we pass it, what will happen? 2579 What will be the consequences? In a great many parishes things will go on precisely as they do now. I need not remind the House that the proposed liturgical changes which are to be allowed under the Measure are only to be adopted if the minister of the parish, to begin with, wishes to adopt them, and are only to be adopted if no protest is made by the parochial church council which would involve an appeal to the bishop to decide. Therefore, in a very large number of parishes, nothing will happen; things will go on just as they go on now. As a matter of fact there is, as has been very truly pointed out already, a great mass of irregularities in practice which raise no very great controversial issue, and which will be regularised and settled; and I think that the Home Secretary, as I understood his speech, approves of all that part of the Measure. I am speaking of the non-controversial matters, and I expressly noted that he confined his criticism to questions that arise with respect to the Communion Service.
In a great number of parishes nothing will happen. In a certain number there will be increased liberty in the way in which the services are carried out. There will be a certain number of parishes where reservation for the sick is desired but not yet practised, and where, I dare say, it will be introduced. In a certain number of parishes, where the new form of consecration prayer in the Liturgy is approved, that service may be introduced, but always subject to the control both of the parochial church council and of the Bishop. What is most important is what you gain by passing this Measure. People ask, what do you gain? You gain by it that you you get rid, to begin with, of the great difficulty that no one can observe the Prayer Book as it now stands, and that, therefore, important illegalities and unimportant illegalities, all sorts of degrees and magnitudes of illegality, are all mixed together, no one knows what the law is, and the law falls into discredit, as was pointed out originally in the Report of the Royal Commission, which started this whole question of the revision of the Prayer Book. You get rid of all that, and you bring together a great body of opinion, including, for example, moderate Evangelicals like Canon Wilson, the Rector of 2580 Cheltenham, who wrote to the "Times" the other day in support of the Measure. He criticised a number of its provisions, but he was quite sure that to pass it would be in the interests of the Church.
You bring together all moderate and reasonable people. There are a certain number of extreme Anglo-Catholics who are quite openly opposing the Measure and desiring the House to reject it because it plays their game. How is it possible that people like the Home Secretary do not see that they are playing into the hands of the very people whom they most dislike? I agree that you do not get quite a fair view of the whole of the Church of England by taking one or two examples. There are cases where there is no difficulty and where there is perfect good will and no illegality, but take these evils, of which the Home Secretary spoke with so much fervour, and how will they by one iota be diminished by the rejection of the Measure? Will they not in every respect be increased? Must it not be that if we destroy all regard for the law, lawlessness becomes much greater? That is what you really do. You cannot get over the fact that the Church Assembly and the Bishops and the clergymen and the Convocation of Canterbury and York all recommended this revision of the Prayer Book. You cannot go back to the old days long before the question was started at all and appeal to the Prayer Book of 1662 as if it had undiminished authority, but you appeal to modern 1927 law, approved by the Church, and not emanating from the State, but from the Church, with all the great weight of the Bishops, consecrated according to the forms of the Church. With all that great moral authority behind it, if you separate the legal sanction from the moral authority you produce absolute chaos and ruin with respect to all maintenance of order and discipline in the Church.
I do appeal, in spite of the words of the right hon. Gentleman, who, I cannot help thinking, is really trying by rejecting this Measure, to disestablish the Church. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I do earnestly appeal to every churchman who thinks of the religious life to-day, as I am sure they do. I know that they wish well of the Church. All these people have been thinking about this matter for 21 years. Are you going to throw out of the 2581 window what the Bishops have arrived at after all this deliberation—this which is proposed as a solution of the disorders which they recognise as of extreme gravity? I have dwelt on the contrast between what will happen if you pass this Measure and what will happen if you reject it. If you pass it, you have behind you this great body of opinion. You get the great mass of sane people behind you, all in support of episcopal authority in the future. Equally, you get for the first time a perfectly clear line between those who keep and those who break the law. That is a great difference. You want to restore order after there has been long confusion arising out of the historical disagreements of opinion in the past.
You have this great scene of confusion. How can you deal with it other than by distinguishing once and for all between those who keep and those who break the law, and by putting forward a deposited liturgical standard which satisfies all reasonable people, excluding only the unreasonable and the lawless? For the first time, we have a clear and unmistakable test, and we shall really know where we stand at present and how many and who are those who really are disposed to refuse lawful obedience. I think that they will be very few. I believe that, because this weight of authority is very great indeed, and these people are not bad people or wicked. They are profoundly sincere, and they are men to whom a religious argument has great weight. Therefore, I think they will be very few. But at any rate we shall know-where we stand. Pass this Measure, and you will see that on one side of the line there will be the great body and overwhelming mass of the Church of England and on the other side a certain number who do not keep the law.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I am coming to that point. I am not the disciplinary authority of the Church of England, but I will tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman quite frankly what I would do. The Home Secretary made a speech which was really very temperately and courteously worded, but which was a criticism of the episcopal government as it has been. He did not say very much about the Measure, but I think he mis-inter- 2582 preted the Clause allowing Bishops to make rules. I may as well deal with that though it is not of first importance. They are only, at their discretion, to be allowed to make rules which are authorised to be made by them under the Rubric of the Deposited Book. They are only to be made under the rubrics of the Deposited Book. One is the method of carrying out the Reservation for the Sick, and the other is to decide points which may arise in the interpretation in the other services of the Church.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I ask whether the carrying out of the rubrics referring to Reservation does not authorise the Bishops to make any kind of decision in regard to what is of vital importance?
§ Lord H. CECIL
No, it does not. The rules cannot contravene the rubrics. They are only such as to carry out the rubrics. This is what the rubrics say:The Consecrated Bread and Wine set apart under either of the two preceding rubricks shall be reserved only for the Communion of the Sick, shall be administered in both kinds and shall be used for no other purpose whatever. There shall be no service or ceremony in connection with the Sacrament so reserved nor shall it be exposed or removed except in order to be received in Communion or otherwise reverently consumed. All other questions that may arise concerning such Reservation shall be determined by Rules framed by the Archbishop and the Bishops of the Province, or by Canons lawfully made by the Convocation of the Province and subject to any such Rules and Canons, by the directions of the Bishop.People object to this power of making rules, but it is obvious, if you do not, you must leave the whole matter either to the discretion of an individual bishop, or it may be to an individual clergymen, and, obviously, from my right hon. Friend's point of view, that would not be an advantage. If you have a whole body to deal with it, you will have a far greater kind of authority. They act corporately and have a deeper sense of freedom from individual prejudices. Therefore, this really is a safeguard, and the rules do not interfere or alter or diminish in any degree the rubrics, in the Deposited Book, and they are subject altogether to them. What they do is to fill up what remains, and, if you do not fill it by the rules, then it is left to the discretion of the particular minister who carries out the service. It 2583 really gives a much greater safeguard to the proper settlement of difficulties. What you are really substituting is the judgment of the whole, the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province, for the particular discretion either of the individual Bishop or the individual clergyman himself. Then, again, in regard to the supplementary services, the Home Secretary overlooked what is said:Every supplementary order or form of Public Prayer to which this Section applies shall be in conformity with the doctrine of the Church of England as set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer.No supplementary order or form of Public Prayer to which this section applies shall be in substitution for any order or form contained in the Book of Common Prayer or the Deposited Book, or contrary to anything therein contained.That means, of course, that they cannot perform supplementary services in regard to any of the controversial points. I think that really disposes of that particular point. When you have this coalition of opinion behind it and when you have this distinction between law keepers and law breakers, are you to have a Measure recommended by the Assembly and the Bishops, or are you to have the confusion of the present evils, of which the Home Secretary has spoken eloquently, greatly aggravated? There is no way out that I can see. The Home Secretary did not say what the solution was. You may solve it by disestablishment or by simply leaving the confusion. He did not say what his plan was beyond saying that people should not be promoted.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
If the policy had been carried out 20 years ago, it would be a very different thing.
§ Lord H. CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman is criticising the administration, and I am sure he will agree with me that the Bishops have not a double dose of original sin. They earnestly desire to do their best, and the reason they do not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman is because of the immense difficulties of the situation. Yet the right hon. Gentleman, recognising that, proposes to refuse the very basis for their actions in the future which they require. Is that reasonable? Is it common sense? Is it fair to people to say, "We think you have adminis- 2584 tered very badly "and, when they say, "Well, we do our very best to bring the Church on a proper footing and we are putting forward an elaborate plan which will have this great effect of bringing the Church of England together, which has behind it all the moderate and sane people in the Church, and which divides the law keepers from those who break it —we put this case before you, and we have put our plans before you," then are you to say that you refuse to them this assistance at the very moment when you criticise them and tell them that they have failed? Are you to refuse them the facilities, the weapon, and the instrument by which they hope to succeed? Is that fair? Is it reasonable? Remember the Egyptians said to the Israelites, "You must make bricks without straw." They desired more to make the life of the Israelites uncomfortable than to increase their efficiency as bricklayers. If you want the Church to be efficiently worked, you must support the Bishops on their own lines. You cannot supersede the Bishops. The Home Secretary does not propose to do that. There will still be the same Bishops, but they will be paralysed. You will weaken the whole fabric of the law by dividing the moral authority from the legal sanction.
I cannot quite avoid, as I should for some reasons like to do, the doctrinal issue which lies behind these controversies. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken said that there was a doctrinal issue, and that is true. It is also true that the issue has been raised by liturgical practices and not by doctrinal differences. It is not a case in which people have stated doctrines which were believed to be heretical, and were prosecuted, or in which dispute has been raised in respect of these faiths. What has happened has been that the liturgical practices, especially in the Reservation of the Sacrament, have led to great differences of opinion and caused grievous offence no doubt to some people, and are believed to be Romish in character. The point that really disturbs people on this question is the proposal to allow Reservation for the Sick. I will not attempt to define what is the position in regard to the Eucharist in the Church of England, but it is a most profound mistake to suppose that the Church of England, like the Church of 2585 Rome, propounds a single, narrow, clearly-defined doctrine, and excludes everyone who does not accept it. That is not a position the Church has ever taken up. I will read—it is rather quaintly expressed—a passage from Bishop Nicholson's Comment on the Catechism, Bishop Nicholson being Bishop of Gloucester, who sat on the Revision of the Prayer Book in 1662. This is how he speaks of the controversy on the Eucharist:Great disputes there are how Christ is in the Sacrament. Some conceive that for His Presence there it is necessary that Christ be incorporated with the Sacramental Elements, others that the bread and wine are changed into His very body. Others, who deny the substantial change yet acknowledge His Presence, express their meaning in different terms, thus: corporally and substantially say some, sacramentally say others; typically and figuratively say a third; spiritually say a fourth; really say the last. Mr. Hooker's judgment to me in this difference of opinions seems very pious that since all are agreed that Christ is there, and seals His promise to a worthy receiver, and the question is only de modo, of the manner how He is there, that disputes and debates, enemies to piety, and abatements to devotion, be suffered to take their rest. 'What these Elements are in themselves it skills not. It is enough that to me, who take them, they are the body and blood of Christ. His promise in witness hereof sufficeth. His word He knoweth which way to accomplish; why should my cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this? O my God, Thou are true! O my soul, thou art happy.'That ends the quotation from Bishop Hooker.Yet will I venture to bring my pitcher and try if that cool water may not allay the flame. My intention is to put the fairest interpretation upon different expressions, and so reconcile exasperated brethren.That is what the position of the Church of England is. In another place, Lord Carson said a friend of his had said, "An alternative service! You might as well have an alternative Bradshaw." I never expected to charge Lord Carson with rank Popery. That really is rank Popery.
I must remind the Noble Lord that the utterances of a Noble Lord in another place may not be quoted to be answered.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I quite agree. I merely wanted to make it a matter of comment. I was careful to speak of another place. It is the position of the 2586 Church of Rome, it is not the position of the Church of England, that there should be one definite doctrine and that all who do not conform to it should be condemned or should be outside orthodoxy. The position of the Church of England is comprehensive. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) took no account of the fact, how many different metaphysical, subtle distinctions there are in respect of this controversy. He seemed to say that Bishop Gore taught Transubstantiation. Bishop Gore would be perfectly furious if you said that to him. He would utterly deny it. He is a man whose truthfulness is not suspect, and, if you will read his book on the subject, you will find that that is quite untrue.
We are told by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that unless there be a doctrinal question to be decided, there is nothing. I think that is a mistake. It is true that doctrine lies to some extent behind liturgical disputes. The liturgical form of the Church of England ought to be tolerant of the expression of more meanings than one they ought to be such that worshippers who hold rather different opinions can always join in. The new proposed variation is not a very extensive variation. People realise that the whole of the new matter is concentrated in the two paragraphs of the Consecration Prayer and a few changes in what we used to call the Prayer for the Church Militant. Those changes ought to Be so framed, and have carefully been so framed, that Evangelicals as well as Anglo-Catholics will listen to them and put upon them the particular meaning with which they approach the Holy Communion. The desire has been all through to keep unimpaired the comprehension of the Church. When we are told the-Reservation is sure to lead to all these evils, let me ask hon. Members to consider that Reservation began in the Second Century after Christ, within 70-or 80 years of the death of the Apostles —perhaps earlier. It is of extreme antiquity. It is a primitive custom. From the very earliest period you had Communion for the Sick. Of that practice, it is said that you cannot have Reservation without it at once going further and becoming the centre of Adoration. There is no doubt the Bishops have drawn a line between the two. There is no doubt 2587 the rubric clearly allows Communion for the Sick and quite clearly condemns the Reservation being made a centre of Adoration. That is not disputed. The point is that what people are afraid of is that the rule will not be obeyed.
§ Sir MALCOLM MACNAGHTEN
Adoration of the Consecrated Elements is not forbidden by the alternative Communion Service.
§ Lord H. CECIL
They have expressly said that it is not to be used for any purpose whatever. No words can be more clear. You say that this is going to be abused, but already there is this abuse. The difference the law will make, is not with people who break the law already, because naturally they will not care one way or the other, but the difference the law will make will be in the position of those who are waiting for the permission of the law before they use this practice. They are law-abiding men. It is to them that the passage of the Measure will make a difference, not to those who already use and already abuse the custom. The people who will reserve the Sacrament in future and do not reserve it now are law-abiding people who will certainly observe the restriction which the law lays upon them. The people who it is feared may go beyond the restrictions laid down by the Deposited Book are the people who now have these services and now break the law.
Clearly, therefore, you do good and not harm. You satisfy the need of Communion of the Sick, and it is a very real consolation, and you leave isolated and separate those who desire to break the law. That is really the point. There is a real necessity for Communion of the Sick. The number of people who need it is constantly increasing. The number of people to whom it is necessary for the clergy to give Communion is constantly increasing. The difficulty in the great urban centres, where there is a vast population, is very great. It is said often it is only due to the custom of fasting Communion, and no doubt that greatly adds to the difficulty. There is also the difficulty that the clergyman does not want to celebrate seven or eight times, receiving Communion himself each time. It is not desirable to repeat the tremendous impression of Holy Com- 2588 munion over and over again on the same day. Therefore, there is a real need for it, and more time would be given when you have so many people whom it is desired to serve. I remember hearing of a Roman Catholic lady who was lying chronically ill for years in great pain and was accustomed to receive Holy Communion every alternate day, greatly to her comfort. I should like to see frequency of Communion of that kind possible for those who desire it, but it can only be possible if you allow Reservation for the Sick.
I have gone over these details and tried to show that there is a real prospect of carrying out a policy of enforcement of the law if you will support it by opinion. I am asked by an hon. Member opposite what I could suggest to do to those who still stand out. Let me say, quite frankly, that I am no great believer in proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Court. I know that you must sometimes have recourse to that method in an extreme case. I know, therefore, it is worth while reforming the Ecclesiastical Court, as the Church Assembly is about to do, but the Ecclesiastical Courts are not the real way in which you will sway opinion over. It is by getting on your side those who on the doctrinal question agree with those who go beyond the law, and getting their influence and their example and the pressure of their opinion behind you, but if you fail, I say the right course is to isolate them from the life of the Church, that is, to say to them, "You cannot have it both ways. If you will not fall in with the rules of the Church, we shall hold aloof from you altogether; you will have no support from the Bishops, and no support from the Diocesan Funds. You must be put under discipline, that is, isolated, and allowed no contact with the rest of the Church, until in process of time a vacancy occurs and a better start can be made." The essential thing, before you can do anything else, is to pass this Measure. So long as you do not pass it, you can do nothing, your whole system is paralysed, and you have no hope of restoring discipline in the Church. If this Measure is to be rejected, there will be an aggravation of the present situation.
I am afraid that I have spoken vehemently, if I may judge by the House, but it is because I feel very deeply and profoundly the danger with which we are 2589 confronted. I fear more than I can say lest we should fail to save the Church of England from the dangers which threaten it. Disestablishment is the smallest part of those dangers. I do not want to go on, and I do not want, to have the Church of England go on, for ever wrangling over these matters. I do not want the Church to have for ever upon it the stain of what is really lawlessness, however conscientious it may be or however sincerely based it may be on religious feeling, because it profoundly discredits the religious life of the Church. I am in agreement with all that is in the mind of the Home Secretary on that point. It does profoundly discredit the religious life of the Church. Then let us try to bring it to an end. Let us do something. Let us not leave the matter just as it stands. Let us not reject this Measure. The Home Secretary is not going to make himself Vicar-general, like another Thomas Cromwell, to restore order. How, then, are we, in the midst of our difficulties, going to restore order and remove this slur of lawlessness from the Church?
If the Measure becomes law, the evangelical party, or a section of it—a great part of them support the Measure—who are opposed to the Measure will go on in their own parishes without any change. They will have the old services to which they are accustomed It will not make their position any more unhappy than it is. The Bishops will have the support they need and the instrument they need for re-establishing order and discipline in the Church. Old-fashioned people who like the old-fashioned services will have them in the future as in the past. As to the differences. If it was not for people who make it their business to see differences, I do not believe that the ordinary man in the pew would find out any difference whatever in the new alternative form, as it is called, for administering the Holy Communion, and the old one. The new paragraphs in the Consecration prayer will seem to the ordinary man perfectly innocent and beautiful and will express a perfectly scriptural doctrine. The great mass of alterations is mere rearrangement. The old language is used. It is spoken of as if it were a new service through which nobody will be able to find their way. 2590 It is the old service with small alterations, although important ones in certain aspects, and anyone will be able to find their way about in connection with it in any church. Its changes are immensely exaggerated.
When you speak about the doctrine of the Church you have to face the immense difficulty that if you are going to enforce particular doctrinal standards you must begin with another section of opinion, the extreme Liberal section who err very much more fundamentally on matters of very much greater importance from the standards of the Church. You are obliged to face the difficulty of these liturgical practices, and the only way to deal with them is to get behind you the great body of moderate rational Anglo-Catholic opinion in favour of law and order, assuring them that their wishes will be respected and so convincing them, as they can be convinced, that this makes a practicable basis on which in future the law of the Church can be administered and obedience to episcopal authority enforced.
The Church of England is undoubtedly the Protestant Reformed Church. The Ecclesiastical Committee in their Report expressly say that there is nothing that modifies the purport of the Coronation Oath. That is to say that when the King swears to maintain the Protestant reformed religion established by law, he may do so just as well after this Measure passes as before. That, undoubtedly, is the verdict of the Ecclesiastical Committee. Certainly, the Deposited Book is a Protestant reformed book. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Of course it is. The criticism upon it is that it to some extent goes back from the Prayer Book of Elizabeth to the Prayer Book of 1549, the first reformed Prayer Book. The 1549 Prayer Book was a Protestant book. It certainly was not accepted by the Roman Church. It did not differ in doctrine from the Prayer Book of 1552. The Prayer Book of 1549 was described as—agreeable to the Word of God and the primitive church, very comfortable to all good people desiring to live in Christian conversation and most profitable to the estate of the Realm.It was a reformed Church. The Protestant reformed character of the Church is not in danger at all. I am impatient with people who apprehend that the Reformation may be undone. They might as 2591 well anticipate the restoration of the glacial age, and to argue about the danger that there might be of having the Ichthyosaurus in Piccadilly and the Deinosaurus in Regent's Park. The reformation can never be undone. That most beneficent change, as I regard it, in the human mind can never be undone. There is no such thought behind these proposals. There is no disloyalty to the Reformation behind them. The Bishops are perfectly loyal to that great change. Their desire is to make the Church of England work smoothly in order that its true purpose may be fulfilled and that the religious life of the nation may go forward.
These controversies stand in the way of religion. They are not religion itself. The great religious life of the Church is something different and something bigger. I am persuaded that the Church of England is a Protestant Church, but I should be sorry to think of it merely as a society for the better contradiction of the Pope. It is something much more profound than that. It is, in my view, the peacemaker of Christendom. It has sympathy with the ancient Churches of the East and the West. It has sympathy also with the great Nonconformist bodies, the Methodist, the Congregationalist, the Baptist bodies of this country. It has sympathy with these very different ways of thinking, because it is able to understand the position of all. It has an apostolic ministry, it has sacramental teaching, it has a liturgy framed not on the mediaeval model, but on the model before the mediaeval church began to err and recede from scriptural truth. It is able to speak in the language of all the Christian sects in Christendom. Just as it spoke in the language of the Edomites and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, so it speaks the language of Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. It can speak the language of unity and peace to all alike.
This Deposited Book is in perfect conformity with that purpose and function. It is comprehensive. It is intended to bring people together and not to divide them. The deep care that has been spent upon it has been spent in order to make the Church and the comprehension of the Church an effective basis for order and peace. The Archbishop of York said long ago, in connection with quite a 2592 different controversy, that the need of the Church of England is not compromise for the sake of peace; it is comprehension for the sake of truth. We want to have all the points of view which can be gathered together on a common basis in order that we may use any fragment of truth that may be held by any of them. I wish that our comprehension could be made larger and that we could bring in those who are at present outside our community. But to begin with, we must do this thing which is now before us. We must respond to the claim that the Church Assembly has made and set up a new basis for unity, a new basis for law, and one which will enable the Bishops to carry through the deeply religious purposes that they have in view and remove the slur of lawlessness from the Church by giving us a law which can be obeyed and which ninety-nine-hundredths of the Church of England will obey with joy, with peace, and with unity.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
In the few observations which I wish to offer I desire to take up a position which has not been taken up by any previous speaker. I wish briefly to refer to the remote past. Those hon. Members of this House, and there must be many, who have visited the ancient cities of the Roman Empire which have been excavated in recent years will have noticed that the market place of every great town of that time is dominated by a temple raised aloft, a temple where the gods were worshipped. This central temple of the city was where the people of that time went collectively to worship their gods, and it would be a great mistake for us in the present day to imagine that the devotions paid at such a shrine were in character, in principle, and, in fact, very different from the emotions which worshippers experience at the present day. Further, if the traveller pursues his investigations into the remoter parts of the city he will usually find in some rather secret corner, entered by an obscure door, a chamber, often an underground chamber, where people celebrated what were called the mysteries. The mysteries which they there celebrated, the mysteries of Orpheus, of Isis, of Mithras, and others, all had one common purpose, and that was the purification of the soul by mystic communion with the Deity. 2593 This form of worship was extremely popular, especially in the second century, and indeed throughout the whole of the time when the Christian Church was being constituted. One of these mysteries was described by Aristotle, who said:The initiated do not so much learn anything but they feel a certain emotion, and are put into a certain frame of mind.It was absolutely essential that the Christian Church in the process of her early evolution should have absorbed into herself some form of these mysteries. She did so absorb them, and the ritual mystery which has descended to the present day has come straight down from pre-Christian times. There must always be in all religions, and at all times, these two factors; worship and mystic communion with the Divine, on which latter so much is being said to-day. The trouble with mysteries has always been this, that they necessarily lead to the development of dogma, and dogmas have always been produced by religious persons disagreeing with one another. That disagreement takes the form of differences of dogma, and it is about these differences of phraseology that contention rages. It was always so.
For over 2,000 years mathematicians have been attempting to define a point, a straight line, in words and they have not succeeded. If you cannot successfully define a point or a straight line, what possibility is there of defining religious mysteries? You can tell a man in words what he should do, but there is no possibility of framing a succession of words which will accurately define what a man shall believe. All dogma, therefore, has always been the cause of fierce verbal disputes. In fact, the only thing that you can safely assert about any dogma is that in the nature of things it must be wrong. There is no possibility of its being otherwise. "The vain and lying symbols of the written word" impend over all dogmas, and render them only of slight use, or of no use at all, for the purposes of union.
Dogma leads to disunion. What is it that leads to union? Union has always been created not by dogma but by ritual. The Jewish people for 2,000 years have been held together by the possession of a common ritual and the absence of dogma. For 2,000 years, the Jewish ritual has been to the Jews for a country 2594 and a fatherland. Because they have been content to hand on a common ritual and have not attempted to define or demand the acceptance of any dogma the Jewish people have been held together. We can never agree on dogma.
Now, I come to the question of the application of these considerations to the Motion before the House. What we of the present generation need, what we are asking for, what is required by the Church to-day, is a ritual in which 'all can unite, and which all interpret as they please. You want a ritual that does not imply dogma, one that enables interpretations of various kinds to be made by each man for himself. The Noble Lord who has just sat down claimed that the deposited Book was such a ritual, that it would be found to be a ritual which all could unite in using, each man interpreting it in his own sense. I find that to be a much fairer definition of the old Prayer Book than it is of the new Book. It seems to me that the Deposited Book contains by implication a number of dogmas, which you cannot escape if you use it. Dogmas which are highly distasteful to many of us are pretty distinctly implied in the Deposited Book. I do not see how you can say that the Deposited Book fulfils the condition, which is an essential condition for any Book of Common Prayer —namely, that it can be used by persons with totally different dogmatic views and widely different doctrinal acceptance. I cannot regard the new Book as one all can unite in using without having their particular form of belief shocked or contradicted.
If you go to a Roman Catholic Church in any part of the world you know what the services are—they are exactly the same everywhere. That was also the case until 30 or 40 years ago in the Anglican Church, but of late years this has not been the fact. We had a most unpleasant experience in my own country parish during the last few years. We had a clergyman of a simple nature, the most perfect kind of parish clergyman that I imagine could be found. Old age caused his retirement, and there came into the parish an Anglo-Catholic priest, who imposed upon us a Parish Mass. He set up images of Saints within the Church with hanging lights before them. He reserved the Sacrament, he wore vestments, burned incense, and did all 2595 kinds of things of a most illegal character. The parishioners of that parish went to one service and one service only in his Church, but after that during the four years which this condition of affairs lasted, not one single parishioner ever went inside the Church. I believe it would have been possible for that priest, if he so desired, to use the Deposited Prayer Book in exactly the same way as the old Prayer Book was used or abused. I am thankful to say that that regime is over, and we have gone back to a simpler form of service. All the parish is together again, and going to the Church.
We are told that it will be within the option of the Parish Church Council to select which of the two Books it would prefer. I doubt if that provision is of much importance. Suppose this provision had been in force in our own parish, the parish as a whole would have demanded the old Prayer Book. The clergyman would have demanded the new Book. We should have referred the matter to the Bishop, who on the last occasion when he visited the parish referred without the slightest condemnation, rather I thought with approval to the elaborate ceremonies from which we have fortunately escaped. There was not one note of condemnation or criticism, but rather sympathy and approbation. That Bishop would surely, if we had referred the question to him, have given his decision in favour of the change which the parishioners did not desire.
I miss in the Deposited Book any real satisfaction for the needs of the present time, any satisfaction for the needs of the great mass of intelligent people. During the War there was a marvellous religious movement which went through the whole Army as well as the mass of the people of this country. We were all religious, especially the soldiers at the front. There was an intense religious feeling running through the whole nation, which was not satisfied by any sect or Church in the land, Established, Noncomformist or Roman Catholic. We utilised such services as there were, but the great mass of the people who were stretching out towards the unknown with a strong desire to obtain contact with something which was higher and better than our ordinary life remained unsatisfied. That feeling, that emotion, so strong in the great mass of the people has never yet 2596 found any satisfaction in the warring of the Churches, or in the sects which divide the religious life of this country.
Science has been advancing by giant strides in our days. The veil which hangs between the known and the unknown, which science every day endeavours to pierce, is tending here and there to become very thin. Science itself, in the examination of the constitution of matter, has led many wise and learned men, in consequence of their own researches, to realise that there must lie behind all material things a spiritual something which it is difficult to grasp and as yet impossible to define. Such a feeling is widespread amongst thoughtful people to-day. We are waiting for someone who will not overthrow the old revelation, who will not disestablish the old faith, but who will carry us into a wider field and will give us a new vision of the world that is beyond, a new vision of the unknown, of the eternal, toward which we ordinary folk can but blindly grope. My criticism of the new Prayer Book, the reason why I cannot vote for this Measure, is that it does nothing whatever to express that widely-spread aspiration towards the divine.
Thirty years ago I and my companions were standing on the shores of an Arctic Island waiting the arrival of a ship that was to carry us away. We had shot our last cartridge, eaten our last biscuit, and we were waiting for the ship that did not come. We waited and anxiously watched the horizon for a day or two. At long last a little puff of smoke arose, very far away. It was the herald of our deliverance. Thus we, the puzzled people of the modern world, are waiting on the shore of eternity, each one of us authentically on its very margin every day, looking out into the unknown, waiting for a message of salvation, waiting for the new message which this world longs for, but which has not yet come. We want something more than these ecclesiastical refinements and aesthetic frills, something more than a slight change in this or the other prayer or ceremony. We want a new spirit, a wider revelation. We are waiting for the man who shall come with his lips touched with the live flame from the Altar of God. He will bring not a new Prayer Book but a new message, a new revelation from Heaven of the meaning of the eternal verities, and when he 2597 comes we shall receive him gladly. As it is, our ordained shepherds know not where are the pastures, and so, "the hungry sheep look up and are not fed."
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
It is my intention to vote in favour of the Measure now before the House, but I can only cast my vote in favour of it if I state quite honestly and clearly the reason why I am going to vote that way. I am one of those persons of whom we have heard so much this afternoon—the Anglo-Catholics. I do not share personally, that regret of the return of sacramental religion which some people seem so to fear. I feel this, that the existing Alternative Book, as it was presented to the National Assembly, was in such a form and with such limitations on what I believe to be the proper development of devotional religion—I refer particularly to the limitations which have been placed upon Reservation by the Measure—that had I been in the Assembly I should most certainly have voted against the Measure. I should have followed the example of my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman,) who, I believe, agrees with me in the views which I am expressing to the House. He voted against the Measure in the Assembly, not on account of any theological persuasion, but rather because he thought that the refining sacramental tendencies which we have welcomed ever since the growth of the 'Oxford Movement were being restricted in the new Book.
Then, it may be said in those circumstances, why am I voting for this Measure? I will say why. I am voting for this Measure because in my view the Catholic Faith, as believed by Anglo-Catholics, involves two principles. It involves, first of all, a belief in certain sacramental doctrines, but it also involves a belief in the authority of the Church. I start from the view, in dealing with this matter, that the Bishops are the divinely-appointed guardians of the Church of England. I believe the Episcopate to be a fundamental part of our religious constitution. I believe that the Episcopate will list much longer than any secular state. I am a little shocked at, I will not say the contempt, but, at any rate, the doubt which has been thrown upon the sagacity, nay 2598 the capacity, of our Episcopate by some persons in this House who in other matters are pleased to call themselves Conservative. I am content, at any rate, to be Conservative in these spiritual matters, and I am content to be guided in these matters by the considered decision of the Bishops. Moreover, that decision of the Bishops has been amplified by the other authority which I recognise in the Church, namely, Convocation. The clergy, representing not only Bishops but Deans and Chapters and Proctors, have come together and agreed upon this Book. They are about, as we all know finally, to ratify that decision. Therefore, this Book comes to me not as a mere secular compromise on a vexed question, not as a question of maintaining discipline in this way or that, or curtailing this right or that right, but it comes from those persons, who, from the very nature of their office are most competent to decide on this particular matter. When the matter has reached that point, after Convocation and the Bishops have decided on this Measure, even with the restrictions, which, personally, I may not like, I feel that it is no part of my duty as an obedient son of the Church to set up my particular view on this matter, which I recognise to be a limited, possibly a partial, view, against the decision of the Church as a whole.
I propose, therefore, to vote for this Measure, but I cannot sit down without making this observation. It has been too readily assumed throughout this Debate, more particularly by the Home Secretary, to whom I refer because I think in every respect his speech was excessively fair, charitable and kindly from his point of view—I have no criticism to make of it from that point of view—that the doctrine of the Church was, and always had been, that particular aspect of doctrine which finds favour with him and his friends. We can show from the very beginning of the Reformation equally a spiritual genealogy favouring those sacramental views which make us proud to call ourselves Anglo-Catholics.
The question of Rome and the question of doctrine are two separate and distinct matters. I need hardly remind the House that when the jurisdiction of Rome was repudiated in England, so little change was made in the sacramental 2599 doctrine of the Church of England that the much vexed question of Transubstantiation remained its doctrine throughout the reign of Henry VIII. But an unfortunate lady named Anne Askew was burned at the stake in the last year of the reign of Henry VIII for denying the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Therefore, when we talk about reformation, we must ask whether we mean the cesser of the Papal jurisdiction in the reign of Henry VIII or the introduction of Protestant doctrine in the time of Edward VI, because they are not one and the same thing. When we come to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when the present settlement was really achieved—chough, I remind the House, achieved by Act of Parliament without the consent of Convocation—the Book which was then the Book of Common Prayer was so designed, I do believe that it was capable of both of the interpretations for which the parties are contending to-day.
There is at least as much ground and as much authority of pious Bishops in the Church itself through the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in favour of the Sacramental position that in the Eucharist we have the real objective presence of Our Lord, as there is for the Lutheran position contended for by advocates of the Church Association. Without arguing this final point, there are and always have been In the Church of England two distinct points of view, and it does not help the matter in the least to call the Church a Protestant Reformed Church. I might remind the House that in the Apostles' Creed, those who go to church repeat that they believe that our Church is part of the Apostolic Catholic Church. As far as language is concerned, we can find in the Prayer Book the phrase "Protestant" and "Catholic" lying side by side within the confines of the same book.
We have heard a great deal to-night about the disorder, indiscipline and lawlessness of Anglo-Catholic clergy. We have heard very little about the work they have done in reviving religion in our parishes. We have heard very little of the weekly, and, indeed, daily, and very often more than daily, Communions held in our churches largely owing to the work of these Anglo-Catholic clergy. We have 2600 heard very little of the work which the clergy have done in drawing the attention of churchmen to social problems and to the implications of Communion in the solving of such obligations. Of the evangelical work of the Anglo-Catholics to-night we heard nothing. It might have been gathered from speeches here to-night that Bishop Gore, Canon Scott Holland and the late Bishop of Zanzibar and all the other great High Churchmen had never lived and that they had had no influence, and that they were but regrettable excrescences on a Protestant Church. It is not so. If it is part of the distinctive nature of the English Church that it is opposed to some extent, as I agree it is opposed to other Churches; it is equally true that it holds in with the other parts of the Catholic Church, general Catholic ceremonial doctrine.
There is one other remark that I would make on the matter that has not been touched upon to-night. Many hon. Members refer to the revival of sacramental and liturgical practices as Romish. There is no excuse for any such error. It is quite true that in the time of Queen Elizabeth knowledge of the reformers of that time of the great Catholic Church was practically nonexistent, but surely we know now enough to recognise that from the very time of OUT Lord's Mission there started to grow up the Greek Catholic Church. The Greek Church doctrines are as essentially Catholic as the Romish, and in no sense can the Catholic Church be said to be any more a Roman than a Greek. This matter has become of very great importance, because it so happens that within the last two years the great Catholic Church of the East, the Greek Church, has definitely recognised the validity of Anglican orders. It is not too much to say to-day that we are already practically in communion with the great Catholic Church of the East. Catholic Bishops from the East have taken part in our services and there has been, and is, a growing inter-communication between the Greek Catholic Church of the East and the Anglican Church. Whatever may be said against the growth of sacramental religion and the worship of the Blessed Sacrament, at least it cannot be said that it is peculiar to Rome. It is no more Roman than Greek. It is an interesting 2601 fact but true, that there is a growing sacramental desire in many of the Nonconformist and Free Churches, too. Dr. Orchard is essentially a sacramentalist. He sees in the sacramental religion a very proper and natural development of the Free Church doctrines. I do not say for a moment that he represents the whole of Free Church doctrines, but that there is growing up there a definitely sacramental religion among people who, I suppose, are as far removed from Rome as anything we can possibly imagine.
What is the position? Here we have the prospects of a great world reunion. I think the more we and the Greek Church, and, in matters of doctrine, the Roman Church and the Free Churches who are acquiring sacramental religion, can coincide in our doctrines and beliefs, the more likely are we to achieve that union of Christendom that we all desire. I cannot accept a view of Christendom which is based on national considerations. It may be that each nation will have its own spiritual faculties, but surely we cannot look at the Church, which Our Lord said should make one of all the nations of the earth as if it were merely a matter of legal definition. We refuse to regard our Church as a mere secular institution such as the Post Office or the Treasury. Dealing with this matter as we are, surely we must devise some elasticity of treatment. Let us be quite fair. We do not want to drive anybody out of the Church. We contend that those persons to whom sacramental religion does not make the appeal which it does to us should continue as they are. We never forget that we are in communion with them, whatever may be our differences on points of detail. All we ask is that they should allow and accord to the Catholic-minded members of the Church of England at least that liberty and development of their views which they ask us very properly to accord to them. We are told that a certain number of Anglo-Catholic priests have objected to this Book. Moreover, it is true that I took the view —it was shared by my Noble Friend, Lord Halifax, and by the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman)—that we hope that these priests who have been allowed for many years, under permission of their ordinaries, their Bishops, to 2602 develop sacramental religion, would not now suddenly be told that the whole doctrine which they taught their people was wholly false and had to be given up. We wrote a letter to "The Times" on the subject and as it will probably be quoted at some stage of the Debate I propose to read it now. The letter was written 20th June and signed by Lord Halifax, the hon. Member for Exeter, the Master of Corpus Christi and myself and some others, and in it we said:It is being suggested that only clerical opinion was reflected on the statement by the Vicars of St. Albans, Holborn, and of All Saints, Margaret Street … to the effect that they would find it impossible to accept certain of the restrictions contained in the Deposited Book. We feel bound to place on record our conviction that a considerable body of lay persons endorses their view, and would, if the necessity arose, give to such clergy unhesitating support. It is our earnest hope that in the event of the Deposited Book becoming law it will be recognised that this opposition is both reluctant and conscientious, and that in the meantime some means other than coercion will have been found to meet the resulting situation.That letter was written before the Deposited Book had passed Convocation and the National Assembly. In the spirit of that letter my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter voted against this Book at the meeting of the National Assembly, but he has asked me to say on his behalf, and I do so on my own, that to-night, the Book having become law, our obligation as members of the Church is loyally to abide by the Book and still to express the hope that coercion will not be used, that persuasion and toleration still are to be accorded; that where certain practices have developed under permission of the Bishops they will at any rate not be ruthlessly curtailed in any hostile spirit, but that we may trust to the development of that sacramental Catholic faith which we believe to be the heritage of the English Church no less than the Roman and Greek—slowly, in an orderly way, with the authority and approval of the bishop and clergy and laity, and with the approval of this House and the country—to take back and regain those treasures, those benefits of religious life and devotion which we think were wantonly sacrificed in the time of the Sixth Edward.
Those are our hopes and aspirations. I decline to take the responsibility of 2603 voting against this Book. Now that the Book has become the law, I, for one, decline to take the responsibility of lessening in any way the power and influence of our Episcopate—whom I believe to be inspired by the Holy Ghost and derived from the Apostles themselves —by doubting their competency to deal with what is a difficult situation, but which, if dealt with in Christian charity and loyal forbearance, is not impossible of accommodaton and solution.
§ Mr. WALSH
I arise simply as a representative in this House of the commonalty of the nation. Every citizen has a direct interest in the Church of England. Whatever may be his 'religious views or want of them, every man as a citizen possesses rights in the fortunes of the Church of England, so long as that Church is by law established. As a representative of those citizens I speak, and from that standpoint only. We are asked on three or four grounds to agree to the passage of this Measure. The first ground, and the chief ground it seems to me, is for the sake of regaining order in the internal affairs of the Church of England. Order is so desirable in all the affairs of the world that a man would sacrifice a great deal to obtain and secure that order if he had any reasonable guarantee that such action as he took would achieve that purpose. What guarantee have we? My hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken said quite truly that the disorders in the Church of England have been by no means of recent origin. He traced them back to the days of Pusey and Newman, and that takes us back at least seventy years, if my memory serves me rightly.
From that time the disorders in the Church have been constant and increasing. The Bishops have continually attempted to restore order. The practices complained of have been admitted, although they are contrary to the Thirty-nine Articles which the clergy vowed to observe. A clergyman knows that every day he is participating in those practices, he is breaking his ordination vows. For all these years, right away back from the middle of last century, the trouble has been going on 2604 without the slightest possible diminution. Now we are asked, on the strength of this Deposited Book, to believe that that which has hitherto been impossible to the Bishops will become an accomplished fact. I have not the slightest doubt that a great many hon. Members will support the Measure, but I am sure that they cannot support it on the ground that confidence is inspired in them by the Bishops' promises, and I say that because of the past record of the Bishops in this matter. Some hon. Members may say, "Well, notwithstanding the past we will give you our confidence for the future. We believe in your bona fides, and, although your past record has been so bad, we will trust you once again." It is possible that Members will take up that attitude, but it is not possible for any man to place confidence in the Bishops, because of their action in the past.
The hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) asked us how we could maintain order unless we passed this Measure, but that question is based on the assumption that order already exists, whereas everybody knows that there is the greatest disorder. It would have been more practicable and businesslike, had the powers of the Ecclesiastical Courts been given to the Bishops, first of all, before the Measure was introduced to this House. If the Bishops had power to inflict punishment on those in fault in these matters and if those powers were embodied. in a Measure already presented to Parliament, there would be something in the argument. But at present all that is in the air. This Measure will, admittedly, legalise practices which have not been recognised for 265 years in the Church of England liturgy. It will enable those practices to be carried on with even greater zeal and devotion than before. We are asked by this Measure to absolve the wrongdoers and to say to them, "Notwithstanding your wrong-doing we now propose to legalise those very practices which you knew to be opposed to the Articles upon which you gave your lives to the Church. We propose to let you go your way with greater power to carry out such practices."
2605 It is said there is no change in doctrine. I do not intend to go deeply into this matter, but if anybody reads Article 28, he knows perfectly well that in specific words, about which there can be no dispute and which have guided the Church of England for 265 years, it is laid down that the Sacrament is not to be reserved, lifted up, carried about or worshipped. No mere casuistry can get round those words. We need not go back to the second century of the Christian era. We are speaking of the conditions within the Church of England as by law established since the Act of Uniformity in 1662, and that has always been a fundamental condition of that Church in respect of the Sacrament. Every one of the men who have been following those practices which found no place within the English Rubrics must know that they have been violating the spirit and the letter of their ordination vows. "But," it is said, "you must bring your Book more into conformity with modern thought." I say at once in reference to the present Book of Common Prayer that I know of no book, not even the works of Shakespeare, the language of which is so beautiful and so expressive of the most devotional thoughts of which mankind is capable. It is a Book which ministers to the inmost need of the human soul in its beauty of language and power of appeal. It could not be improved in its language even if we desired to "bring it into conformity with modern thought." But it is not mere language that is in question.
Nobody can deny that vestments and practices and doctrines which for 265 years have never been sanctioned by the Church of England can be brought in under this Measure. No man living has a greater regard for the great Roman Catholic Church than I have. As a child I was taught in it. The chasuble has been at least for 300 years distinctive of the Roman Catholic priesthood in that wonderful Sacrifice of the Mass and has not been acknowledged for more than 300 years by the Church of England. I will say no more about that. We are told that this Measure will unify the people. At the beginning it was a noble conception—whoever thought of it—to give the people of the land a Book of Common Prayer so that wherever they went and whatever time they worshipped, they would know, as indeed the great 2606 Roman Catholic Church knows, that their service was being practised in the same way and practically at the same time all over the world. That, the great distinguishing mark of the Catholic Church, was also, in a limited degree, to be the distinguishing mark of the Church of England, and the means to that end was to be the Book of Common Prayer. But this proposal will not give us a Book of Common Prayer. Any parson may take any portion of one Book and any portion of the other, unite them and offer those prayers before his congregation. He may omit portions and put in portions, entirely at his own will, and instead of having a Book of Common Prayer you will find the greatest possible contrariety between churches in the country although all professedly belonging to the Church of England as by law established.
The noble idea, the beautiful conception, of a Book of Common Prayer will not be realised. The Book of Common Prayer, upon which the Church of England has a right to pride itself will in a few years disappear. I am not a prophet and I have no wish to assume the mantle of a prophet, but I believe that, if the Measure is passed by this House, in a very few years the Book of Common Prayer as we know it will have disappeared from the ken of the on-coming generation. I would be sorry to do anything to assist such a lamentable conclusion. I feel that this House ought not to agree to a condonation of the breaking of ordination vows. A man is held to be guilty if he compounds a felony and, in the same way, this House would be guilty of a serious breach of its duty if it assisted in condoning practices which have been, admittedly, illegal through all these years. Lastly, I ask will the Measure produce peace? We know it will not. Many of the Bishops themselves know it will not. They have already said that they will not assist in the imposition of penalties. Others of them have said that they regard with some misgiving this particular Book and what is contained in it, but I believe that so great is the conflict that will result between the various members of the congregations of the Church of England that disruption, if not destruction, is practically inevitable. It is in order to ward off that, which I believe would be 2607 a calamity, that I propose voting against this Measure.
§ Major HILLS
Perhaps the House will allow me, as one who spent a good part of the summer in examining the objections to the Deposited Book, to tell them a few of the conclusions to which I have come, but may I start with one word about my own views? I think I approach all questions of this sort from the same point of view and the same school of thought as the Home Secretary. I do not belong to the High Church party, and, like the Home Secretary, I have observed with a good deal of repugnance and, indeed, disgust the lawlessness that has gone on in the Church. I agree with him that there has been to a very large extent a disregard of the law. The second thing that I want to say about my own views is this. I am a fanatical supporter of the authority of Parliament. I believe that this House has the supreme authority. In fact, in the past I have objected to the very inadequate occasions that we have been given to debate Church matters in this House, and I have objected to their being taken at 12 o'clock at night, and I hope that this Debate is a precedent for giving more time for this House to assert its supremacy.
But when I came to examine the objections to the Book and the reasons in favour of it, I came to this conclusion. I started with a natural repugnance, which I suppose all reactionary Conservatives feel, to any change in the Book, but I was converted, and I was converted by examination of the evidence that I had to peruse. When I hear hon. Members say they oppose the Deposited Book, it seems to me that they are flying in the face of the Act that we passed in 1919, and I will ask the House for one moment to consider the effect of that Act. This House, after a long discussion, at which many Members now in the House were present, made up its mind that in matters of internal government and doctrine the Church was to be independent. It was to come to this House for certain purposes only, and those purposes, I take it, were three in number. If the Church were to decree some doctrine that was entirely repugnant to the Reformation settlement, this House would have the right to step in; if the Church were to pass some Measure against the constitutional rights or 2608 against the welfare of this realm—and, personally, I should regard a Measure imposing disestablishment as such a Measure—in that case, again, the House could step in; or, thirdly, supposing the Church Assembly were to pass some Measure which affected some individual, deprived some beneficed incumbent of the emoluments of his benefice without proper reason, again this House ought to step in.
When, however, you came to a point of doctrine, a point of internal government, a point even of those very deep and great mysteries which have been referred to, they are points which this House delegated to the opinion of the Church itself. Otherwise, I do not believe this House would have passed the Act of 1919 at all. If all these points of doctrine are to be brought here every time and discussed and rediscussed, why did we profess to give the Church those powers? And surely, of all matters in the world, the service which regulates the prayer of members of that Church is one that ought to be left to the decision of the Assembly of the Church itself.
I want to say just one word about doctrine. I have listened with deep interest to the speeches on this question. I am no liturgical scholar. I cannot compete with the learning or with the eloquence of the hon. Member who spoke opposite, and who held the House enthralled for a very long time with elaborate points of liturgy, of which he clearly was a master, but there again, who are we to trust, to whom are we to look for guidance? Are we to be guided by the correspondents who write to all of us, the casual correspondents who declaim against this part or against that part of the Book; or, on the contrary, are we to be guided by the judgment of the Church, which, after all, has discussed this matter for years and has come to certain decisions upon it? May I say here that those decisions were arrived at by very remarkable majorities? We cannot disregard those majorities. It is no good to say, as some have said, that a large number of members did not vote. Of course, they did not. Many people do not vote in political elections, and if you count all the people who did not vote as opponents, and apply the same rule to the last General Election, I am not quite sure that my right hon. Friend the 2609 Home Secretary would be sitting where he is sitting now. You cannot regard all the people who did not vote as opponents of the Measure, and I think we must all admit that that Measure was passed by immense majorities arid does express the opinion of the Church. That Church was told by this House to express its own opinion, and it was told, when it had expressed it, to come to this House, and, with the exceptions that I have mentioned, I believe it is the duty of this House to confirm those opinions.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary attacked the Measure on two grounds. The first ground was a point of liturgy, and the second was the point of disorder. He said that the Deposited Book approached a doctrine which was not the doctrine of the Church, though he very fairly said that the Book did not authorise the deviations from doctrine which he feared. That comes to this. He said that there is a possibility of disobedience. Of course there is. All laws can be disobeyed; and you can find recalcitrant members in all communities, -and, when you come to religious bodies, the differences of opinion on small points is very remarkable. Surely, it is no argument against the Book to say that it can be disobeyed. The Home Secretary said that the Book did not allow the Adoration of the Elements, but that it gave opportunities for it. All laws give opportunities for disobedience. All laws can be broken. But here is a law which the Church itself thinks will be the best law to ensure obedience, and I think the House ought to be very slow to refuse the Church what it wants.
The second point the Home Secretary made was the point of lawlessness. He told us that practices, which are not in accordance with the Protestant Settlement, are going on daily, and he pointed to this, and said, "Here is a Church that is not obeying the law; will you give it further opportunities?" I ask him, and I ask the Attorney-General, who adorns the higher branch of a profession of which I am a humble member and a very little twig, this question: Supposing you have a state of lawlessness. One course is to pass penal legislation and to pass an Act like the Act of 1874, under which, if an incumbent breaks the law, you deprive him of his incumbency. Who are these men you invoke the law 2610 against? They are often sincere, but misguided, men of deep religious convictions who think that they are right, and that they are the real interpreters of what is the doctrine of the Church of England.
The second method is to allow the Church to correct its own evils, and that is the course I am going to ask the House to follow. Unless you allow the Church to put its own house in order, no alternative exists except to apply penal laws imposed by this House, laws which cannot always fit the very intricate and human factor that lies behind the breaking of the law, and laws which in their operation are bound to cause a large amount of friction and difficulty, and a large amount of injustice, too. I do not think that you can put right the breaches of the law that exist except in one of these two ways, and I appeal to the House, and particularly to the party opposite, to live up to what is their creed, and give the Church self-government.
Those who direct the policy of the Church are faced with this difficulty. They have to preach an unchanging faith in a changing world. Faith never changes, but the world changes very rapidly, and has changed a great deal since the Prayer Book of 1662. A great many of the changes that are contained in the Deposited Book are in consequence of what has happened since 1662. I would ask the Home Secretary and the hon. Members who have followed him, whether they are prepared to stand for ever in the metaphysics, the philosophy, and theology of the 17th century. Is that century to represent the summit of wisdom? Are we never to move beyond it? Has all that has happened since to be disregarded, and all these changes that have happened in the world of science to be disregarded? I was struck by a speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the combined English Universities (Sir M. Conway), who showed how, with all the advances of science, the scientist was convinced that behind matter there was something that was incomprehensible and could not be understood by the reason of man.
How can we bring religion and the practice of religion into touch with modern conditions? Surely, we cannot do it by sticking to all that occurred in the 17th century and to the truths that 2611 were arrived at in a time of very acute differences and stress. It is said that we live in a very material age. I do not believe that we do. I believe that this age is a spiritual age, and I believe that in some way we have to bring the practice of religion into line with the opinons of an advancing age. A great deal in the Alternative Prayer Book is an advance in spirituality. I would instance the change in the preamble to the Service of Matrimony, a preamble which takes a very material view of that ceremony. I will instance again the change in the old service of Baptism, which condemned all unbaptised infants to a very unpleasant time in the future world. Then I do submit to the House that right and wrong, goodness and badness, do not depend on the formal things of ritual, but they depend on the mind of man and the spiritual importance that man attaches to them. I believe that this Deposited Book, instead of being a setback, instead of being a reversion to some obsolete and less acceptable creed, is a progression. I believe that it is an advance. I believe that it brings the old unchanging faith into line with the conditions of to-day. I shall vote for the Book, and I hope that the House will pass it. I do not like to think what would occur if the House did not pass it, but I believe in my heart that it will pass it.
§ Colonel APPLIN
I do not propose in the few words that I am going to say to go over the ground that has already been covered. We have looked at this Book from the point of view of the Church. I want the House to look at it from the point of view of the congregation. The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate said: "I speak as the man in the pew." I speak not only as the man in the pew, but as the man in many pews, for in my career as a soldier I have marshalled my regiment to services of the Church of England all over the world. One of the great points of that service has been that wherever we have been we have always had precisely the same service in the Church of England.
I was very much struck by the eloquent speech of the Noble Lady the Member for Southend (Countess of Iveagh) and by one of her quotations in which she 2612 said the great thing was to have a book of prayer common to the nation. It is for that reason, mainly, that I shall oppose this Measure. In 1662 we had only this little island to consider. The Church of England meant the people of England. To-day the Church of England means the Church not only throughout the Empire but throughout the world. Only the other day a number of us went to Rio de Janeiro where we were asked' to take part in a service to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the English-Church. We went into a most beautiful old building, and we had a most beautiful service, and there was the old, common Prayer Book and the old, common service. Throughout the Empire and the world we have nine Archbishops, some 127 Bishops, and some 5,000 clergy, to say nothing of millions of people—and we have not consulted a single one of them about this Book! The great, main point, one which I think nobody has made to-night, is that if we pass this Book into law the old Prayer Book becomes obsolete, the old Prayer Book is no-longer the Prayer Book of the Church, of England, but this Book, which I hold in my hand, will be.
Let us consider what that means to our people all over the world. They will have to do one of two things, either to adopt this Book, without a by-your-leave or with-your-leave, or to continue to use the old Prayer Book, which will be absolutely illegal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, it will be. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am very sorry to contradict hon. Members but I have the very best authority for saying what I have said. I have consulted the Law Officers of the Crown. The Prayer Book as it at present exists-will become illegal—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and will never be reprinted. I think I am perfectly right about that point and I am going to stick to it, and I shall ask one of the Law Officers of the Crown when he is replying to deal with that point. The moment this Book becomes law, obviously the old Book must become extinct. The old Book is reprinted in the new Book—of course you will have the service in the new Book—but the old Book ceases to exist. If I am correct in what I have said, and I believe I am correct, it means that if the churches in the Dominions and in the Colonies, all over the world, do not adopt this Book, 2613 but say: "We are going to stick to the old Book," then they will be using a Book which is not in conformity with the Church of England, and they become de facto Nonconformists.
I do not wish to weary the House by going over the question of the Prayers for the King. It is perfectly clear that they have been left out from Morning and Evening Service. They have been put under the heading "Prayers of Thanksgiving," and the word "Occasional" has been inserted there, so that it is possible for any clergyman to leave them out from the 1st of January to the 31st December, except in the Communion Service. The point is not that the King is head of the State, but that the King is head of the Protestant Church as by law established, and before you can join Rome the first act is to leave out the name of the King from the Service. One right hon. Gentleman said there was no possibility of our joining with Rome. He said it was ridiculous. I have here the original paper, "La Libre Belgique," with the correspondence between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Malines. I have had the later letters translated in full, and I can assure hon. Members that they are quite sufficient evidence for me of an endeavour to rejoin the real life of the Church of England with the Church of Rome. If the House will bear with me for one moment I will read one of the shorter letters from the Cardinal Archbishop. It is dated Brussels, 21st January, 1926, and is addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury:My Lord—In the trial which it has pleased God to send me during these last weeks I cannot express the pleasure and comfort it has given me to receive a visit from our reverend friend Lord Halifax. He has told me of the abiding desire for re-union by which you are animated. I am made happy by that assurance, which fortifies me in this present hour. Unitam sint. That is the supreme desire of Christ. It is also the desire of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is my desire. It is also yours. May it be realised in all its fulness. The proof of sympathy that Your Grace has been good enough to have transmitted to me has touched me deeply. I thank you. Accept the assurance of my religious devotions. (Sgd.) MERCIER, Cardinal Archbishop of Malines.That alone is sufficient to decide me to vote against the New Prayer Book. I feel we have not got to the bottom of the question of why we have had this 2614 change of doctrine thrust upon us in the new Prayer Book. No good reason has been given why His Majesty the King should have been left out of the daily prayers, and the word "occasional" inserted. I asked the Archbishop myself if it was intended that they should ever be used, why a short rubric was not inserted to say "One prayer for the King must be read at every service." They have taken 20 years over this work, I am told, and they have not been able to do that. It seems a terrible thing.
I feel very deeply on this matter. I am for peace, and if we could unite the Church in peace I should be one of the very first to vote for this Measure, but this is a Measure which contains two Prayer Books bound in one, each one, as we have been told over and over again, contradicting flatly the doctrines of the other. I interrupted with a reply the right hon. Gentleman who asked, "Where are the doctrinal changes?" Of course, in the Twenty-eighth Article we accept two things which have never been accepted in the Church before, and we reject the others and we leave two out.
In the constituency of the Noble Lady the Member for Southend, which I visited the other day, I met two young curates. I asked them if they were in favour of the new Prayer Book. They said "No, but our vicar is." I said, "Why is he?" and one of them said, "Because the Bishop desires it." I said, "Why are you against it?" and one of them said, "Because I may be obliged to break my ordination vows." He knows much more about it than you or I know, because He has studied theology for years, and he must know the meaning of the words in the new Book. For that reason, I feel that we cannot accept this new Book as it stands. If I thought it would bring peace, I should be in favour of it. I was so perturbed in my mind about this thing that I did not really come here to speak to-night. I believe from the bottom of my heart that, if we pass this Book into law with its two doctrines and its two versions, we shall be taking a sword and splitting the Church of England from top to bottom. For that reason, and because I want peace; because I want the Bishops to make rules enforcing the old Book, I am opposed to this Measure. Under the new Book, we shall be in exactly the same position as under the old Book, and 2615 until the Bishops take power to compel obedience to the rules we have, I think we are justified in sending this Book back and saying, "Give us one Prayer Book, revise it as much as you like, but let it be one common to the whole Faith."
§ Mr. BUCHAN
We have had a number of speeches to-night and any hon. Member who has listened to them must feel a sincere amount of respect for their candour and honesty. Some of the speakers objected to the Measure which thi3 House has been asked to sanction on the ground that it involves some sacrifice of Reformation principles. I speak to-night not as a member of the Church of England but as a member of the Church of Scotland, a Church established by law but at the same time a Church which enjoys complete spiritual freedom. That church has never been backward in defence of the Reformation principle and that principle is as dear to me as to any of my hon. Friends. It is because I believe in that principle, and because I believe that the Measure now before the House is in accord with that principle, because I believe that the liberty of government and the right to change which the Church of England now enjoys is the very essence of that principle, that I shall support the Motion before the House.
The Debate to-night has ranged over a great deal of ground, but I do not feel that all the issues which have been raised are strictly relevant. I submit that it cannot be the duty of this House to give this Measure the detailed examination which could only be properly conducted in an ecclesiastical assembly. For that we have not the knowledge nor the time. If hon. Members descend into metaphysical considerations of that kind they will find themselves like the fallen angels in Milton's "Paradise Lost" who sat upon a hill and discussed similar questions and were correctly described by the poet as beingin wandering mazes lost.I submit, also, that the kind of question which this House is entitled to ask is only a constitutional question, you may almost call it a secular question. Surely it is not the duty of this House to take away from the Church of England the right of self-government which was granted to it except upon the most 2616 solemn constitutional grounds. A question which we are entitled to ask is whether the democratic machinery has been properly used. We are entitled to ask whether this Measure conflicts with any constitutional right or any constitutional principle. I will go further than that. We are a Protestant country. As I regard it the Reformation settlement is an implied part of our constitution. We are entitled to ask, does this Measure, even if it does not conflict with the letter of the law of the constitution, violate its spirit? The real objection to this Measure in this House and the country is that even if the letter of the constitution remains intact there is a certain suspicion that its spirit has been violated. There is a fear that this Measure is a denial of Reformation principles and a departure from the Reformation heritage. That is an anxiety which is puzzling many decent people in this country today. I respect their fears which are most honourable and creditable and I rejoice at their existence although I believe they are mistaken. It is on this matter that I desire to address this House.
What is the Reformation bequest? We have all received in recent weeks an inordinate amount of propagandist literature in which the word "Reformation" occurs on every page. I confess that I fail to understand distinctly what the writers mean by the Reformation. What do they mean by the Reformation bequest? The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell) in his most eloquent speech said the special bulwark of the Reformation was a particular doctrine of the Sacraments. I agree that a sacramental doctrine is part of the bequest, but I differ from the hon. Member. I believe that the sacramental doctrine in the revised Prayer Book is a long way on the Protestant side of the dividing line. But if you limit the Reformation bequest and make it a mere narrow, riveted unalterable schedule of ritual and dogma, then you do violence to its greatness. The Reformation was much greater than that. It was a re-birth of the spirit of man. Its essence was simplification. The great organism of the mediaeval church, with all its intricate accretions of 15 centuries was exchanged for a single revelation, the voice of the Almighty speaking through His word to the individual heart and judgment. An external standard was replaced by an internal. Liberty was its 2617 keynote, liberty as against enforced obedience. It involved in a reformed Church a certain degree of self-government and that involved the right to change.
I grant that the Reformed Churches very soon departed from their first faith. On one side they tended to a mere negation. An acute English critic wrote in the early 17th century of my own Church of Scotland:These people think they cannot miss the road to Heaven if only they leave Rome behind them.That point of view is not yet extinct. It has even appeared to-night in the Debate in this House. I cannot think it is a very fruitful point of view. Then, on the other hand, a narrow interpretation of the Scripture was laid down by the Church with all the arbitrariness of a Vatican degree. Indeed, the point of view of too many Reformed Churches at that time might have been expressed in the words of a recent Vatican degree:The Church is not a faith, but a command and a discipline.A rigid code of belief was formulated, any departure from which would imperil a man's salvation.
But the point that I want to put before the House is that that development was not a consequence of the Reformation, but a departure from its essential principles. With all its perversities, the Reformed Churches did retain some remnants of their first principle, in the rights of the laity, for example, and the power of self-adjustment which, though long disused, was never quite forgotten. The Church of England during a century and a half was a mere obedient, lifeless satellite of Parliament, but, with the revival of Convocations in 1850, the principle of autonomy was re-introduced, and of that the Enabling Act of 1919 was the final vindication. Of that movement, the Measure now before the House is the fruit. Surely, it cannot be described as a movement away from the Reformation principle. It seems to me to be an assertion of the fundamental Reformation principle of an internal as opposed to an external authority; and liberty of government involves liberty to change.
I do not want to put my argument too high. Liberty means also liberty to blunder occasionally. There are many 2618 things in the Deposited Book which I do not like myself. I see no infallibility in a democratic system, I agree that at the best it is a device. The most you can say of it is that it has on the whole worked fairly well, and, in any institution, secular or sacred, gives some chance of life and growth. I would not put it higher than that. I agree with the great seventeenth century lawyer, John Selden, who said that it seemed to him to be almost blasphemous to find the hand of the Almighty in every majority verdict, for, he said, that would be to identify the voice of the Holy Spirit with the occasional confused utterances of the odd man. But what I would press upon the House is that this liberty to change, with all its imperfections—this liberty to change with popular approval—is the very opposite of the authoritarianism against which the Reformation was directed. Wherever that movement may lead, it is in the very opposite direction to Rome.
There is a second Reformation principle, the principle of variety. The basis of the Reformed Churches was the Bible; they accepted no tenet which had not a scriptural warrant; they claimed that whatever they did was done with the authority of the text of the Bible. But the interpretation of the Bible must be made by man. The Scriptures must be interpreted, and the only means of interpretation are the human judgment and the human conscience. If an arbitrary interpretation be laid down by the Church as the only infallible doctrine, it means slipping back to the medievalism out of which the Reformation showed the way. That was the view of the greatest English churchmen; that was the view of Chillingworth and Hales and Jeremy Taylor; and from it followed the view that diversity of opinion was not only inevitable, but was right and desirable. They held that in the Church, apart from the great cardinal tenets of the Faith, there must be a reasonable liberty of interpretation and usage. The other view was held by the contemporary Scottish Calvinistic Church, and was stated by a famous member of that Church in the phrase:Divine truth is an indivisible line which hath no latitude, and cannot admit of splitting.But that was getting very near the view of an external, infallible canon. The Reformed view, the Protestant view, was 2619 that in the Church, apart from the great cardinal tenets, there must be toleration of variation of interpretation and practice, a toleration based, not upon indifference, but upon humility. Its creed was that of the Church Father: Uno itinere non potest pervenire ad tam grande secretum—there is no single way to so great a mystery. That was the Reformation principle, and from it it followed that the manual of offices and formularies most in accord with that principle must be that which most recognised the diversity of human temperament and of human need. That, I submit, is the essential principle of the Reformed Church. The Promised Land remains the same; its direction is the same; but there are various routes to it across the desert. The other view, the view which would rivet for all time by the inexorable bonds of a formula, however dear and however ancient, belongs, not to the Reformation, but to the Reformation's opponents.
There is one final point that I would put before the House. It has been suggested in argument to-night—an argument which, if sound, is very weighty—that this revised Prayer Book would interfere with the great movement towards Church union. There is abroad an instinct, a movement towards healing the breaches of Christendom. We have seen that movement succeed in Canada; we see it to-day in Scotland. It is argued that this Measure, by permitting variations which are not sympathetic to the majority of the Free Churches, will interpose an insuperable barrier in the way of the ultimate unity of all Reformed communions. I believe the very opposite to be true. Union will never be got by denuding our creeds and confessions, by reducing them to one barren common denominator of desiccated formulas. It will only come by permitting inside the broad bounds of Christian truth a wide variety of interpretation and practice. Before that day comes, we may have to revise our formularies again and yet again, for there can be no finality in the growth of a living Church. True unity is based, not upon uniformity, but upon liberty, with all its fruitful differences; and the charter which may yet unite the Reformed Churches must make allowance 2620 for the infinite mutations of the human temperament and the infinite needs of the human spirit. I cannot believe that this House, this old trustee of liberty, will deny to the Church what it has always claimed for the nation. I cannot believe that it will take from the Church of England that liberty of government which it has solemnly granted. I would ask my hon. and right hon. Friends on the other side to consider whether, by a narrow view of the Reformation tradition, they are not being false to that essential Reformation principle to which we are alike devoted.
Many of the Members of this House, like myself, are not members of the Church of England. Still more, while they are nominally Churchmen, have neither an aptitude for nor a knowledge of nor an interest in the minutiae of ecclesiastical discussion. But we are all citizens with a citizen's duty towards our nation and our national institutions. To such I would suggest that there is a weighty secular parallel which is worth considering. The British Empire is to-day the strongest polity on the globe because it is a union of free nations, each following the law of its natural growth, a unity which is strong because, inside one great governing principle, it admits of the widest varieties and the profoundest differences. If we had insisted upon a narrow authoritarian dogma of Empire, if we had thought of it in terms of discipline rather than of development, where would that Empire be to-day? We know upon the best authority that sometimesin their generation the children of this world are wiser than the children of light.
§ Sir DOUGLAS HOGG
I rise for a very few moments to state to the House why it is that I find myself unable to follow the advice which has been so eloquently given by my hon. Friend who has just sat down and which, I believe, is going to be repeated later on by the Prime Minister, to whom I yield to nobody in loyal esteem and affection. I do not approach this problem from the point of view that the decision of the Church Assembly must be treated as a final decision which binds this House of Commons. In my opinion, the law of this land has deliberately laid it down that changes of this character are to be of no effect unless and until each House 2621 of Parliament has approved those changes. Since that is laid down there rests, in my judgment, upon every Member of this House a duty in his conscience to himself and to his constituents before he takes a step and records a vote which may establish the change which he is asked to sanction. That does not mean that the decision of the Church Assembly is to be treated as of no account. In my view, a matter of personal preference for this or the other feature of the older Book, a matter merely of dislike to some of the changes which are proposed—these are no sufficient grounds for refusing to sanction their adoption, when once the Church by its elected representatives has chosen to put them forward for approval. In order to justify rejection, there must be something which, in the view of any Member who votes for the rejection, is vital to the interests of the Established Church or of the State. In my judgment, there are in this Deposited Book matters which to me and, I believe, to this country are of vital import.
There are two matters only to which I desire to refer. First of all, the Alternative Service of the Holy Communion; secondly, the Reservation of the Sacrament. It has been said that on the one hand there is no change effected by this Book at all; on the other hand, it has been said just now that the Church has a right to change, and that this House of Commons ought not to interfere with its free growth and development. But, when you are dealing with a change which vitally affects the Established Church of this country, you have to be satisfied, in my submission, that the people of this country desire the change. I am confident that, although it may be that there will be Members who will vote for the Deposited Prayer Book because they think it is a greater disadvantage to throw it out than to adopt it, there is certainly not a majority in this House or in this country which desires the changes which that Prayer Book makes.
To my mind, the Established Church of England is essentially a part of the Protestant Catholic Church, and to my mind, too, there are at least two cardinal features which distinguish the Protestant Churches from the Church of Rome. They are, first of all, the differing views 2622 which are held as to the authority of the priesthood, including therein the Supreme Pontiff, and, secondly, the differing views as to what is known as the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Those two matters sharply differentiate the Protestant from the Roman Catholic, and in one respect from the Greek Catholic Church. Does this Deposited Book affect either of those two matters? In my judgment, it does vitally affect the doctrine which is known as the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and it is no consolation to me to be told that we can always rely on the authority of the Bishops. You are invoking the return to the second principle in order to allay your fears because you are departing from the first.
This at least must be conceded, that those who were responsible for our Prayer Book in 1662 deliberately and of set purpose refused to sanction the practice of Reservation. In the 28th Article you find the practice expressly forbidden and it has been declared illegal within the last 30 years by the two Archbishops. This also is beyond doubt, that the proposed new Prayer Book does sanction the practice of Reservation. Why was it that those who prepared the old Book of Common Prayer refused to allow that practice? Obviously, for no other reason than because, in their experience and judgment, it led inevitably to practices which, in the words of the rubric which then formed part of the service of Holy Communion, amounted to what they regarded as idolatry. The House will remember, and I am sure every hon. Member realises, that I speak with the most profound respect for the faith of those who differ from me in religious matters. I desire to use no phrase which can even seem to criticise or to give offence, but it is essential that I should define wherein lies the difference between us. I find that in the old rubric in the service of Holy Communion it is laid down thatThe Sacramental Bread and Wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored; (for that were idolatry, to be abhorred of all faithful Christians); and the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be at one time in more places than one.Why is it that that rubric has been removed from the position it occupied 2623 when this Book was originally drawn up?
§ Lord H. CECIL
My right hon. Friend is mistaken. It has not been removed. It is retained in exactly the same position.
§ Sir D. HOGG
I think my Noble Friend will find, if he looks at the proposal of 1923, that this rubric formed one of the rubrics applicable to both Communions.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I have been in charge of the Measure and I know every line of it and my right hon. Friend is entirely mistaken.
§ Sir D. HOGG
My Noble Friend speaks with more authority than I can. All I can say is that it is a statement which I have seen made both by oppoments and supporters of the Measure and, further, that no less an authority than the Bishop of Gloucester two days ago explained that it was removed of set purpose.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I have here the revised Prayer Book of 1923, which sets out the various alterations in the Communion Service, especially those to be made in the alternative Communion Service, and those alterations did not include the exclusion of that rubric. That rubric would have remained part of the alternative Communion service.
§ Sir D. HOGG
I am very anxious not to engage in any controversy. I accept that no alteration is intended but in fact there are set out at the commencement of the Communion service a series of rubrics which apply to both. This rubric is not one of them. We then find, at the end of the old Communion service, the so-called Black Rubric, which contains the passage I have quoted. No similar rubric can be found when we look at the alternative Communion service.
It is said by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) that he looks forward to the time when the Church of England, with the assent of the Bishops, the clergy and the laity, will return to the full enjoyment of those benefits so wantonly sacrificed at the Reformation. He tells us that this Book is only one step on the way and that it is inevit 2624 able before long that the rest of the journey will be traversed. It is no consolation to me to be told, as the hon. and learned Gentleman says, that the Greek Church shares the views of the Roman Church on this matter. To me and to those who think with me these are matters of vital importance. To me, as to many others, these Protestant doctrines stand at the very root of our belief.
Why is it that this alternative Communion service is being brought in and that these practices hitherto illegal are being legalised? It is almost admitted, I think, that it is in the hope of placating those members of the Church of England who have for years past been breaking the laws which at their ordination they undertook to observe. It may well be that it is unwise to turn rebels into martyrs, but surely it is wrong, in order to try to coax the law breakers into a limited obedience, a temporary obedience to the law, to outrage and sacrifice the feelings of thousands of law-abiding members of the Church of England who have never sought to depart from its doctrine and who resent a change being forced upon them. To us it seems that this change must, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, be only one step on the road. It is a step which, admittedly, takes us further away from those Free Churches which with us to-day-form the reformed Protestant Church. It takes us nearer to a Church with which we can only unite if we submit in entirety to her pretensions. That is a prospect which I, at least, cannot face.
I am told by my hon. and gallant. Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills) that we ought to allow the Church to correct her evils. This Measure gives no further power to the Church to correct evils than it possesses to-day. This Measure gives no additional power. All it does is to legalise some illegalities in the hope that the law-breakers will be content not to continue to break the law, and how can they be content if they believe those doctrines which my hon. and learned Friend propounded earlier in the Debate? They are bound to worship the presence that they believe is present in the Sacrament. They cannot avoid paying adoration to what they believe to be the presence of our Saviour. They do not pretend that they 2625 are going to obey this and treat it as a final settlement. They will treat it at the best as an instalment of what they hope to get. I thank the House for letting me explain why to me, and to many thousands who have my upbringing and my ancestry, this is a profound grief and pain. It may be true, it is true, that the rejection of this Measure would be a disaster, but in my judgment its acceptance is a far greater disaster. It is with profound regret, but I am bound to say with no hesitation at all, that I state my determination to vote against it.
§ Mr. DUNNICO
I happen to be a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee, and there is some slight misunderstanding as to what that committee did. We did not express any opinion upon matters of doctrine. We confined ourselves to the duties imposed on us by Parliament, and therefore no vote given in favour of this Bill on the Ecclesiastical Committee in any way fetters one's freedom to-night. I want to speak to the House from the simple point of view of a Free Church minister who has spent 25 years in the active ministry. I do not profess to be able to speak on behalf of the Free Churches officially. I do not think any person can do that; but I do claim that in expressing my opinions to-night I am expressing also the opinions of some of the great leaders of the Free Churches. It has been said that we are sent here as Members of Parliament and not as Free Churchmen. That is perfectly true, but when a man has in public, for over 25 years expressed certain beliefs and certain principles, even becoming a Member of Parliament does not rid him of the obligation of standing by those principles and convictions. The position taken up by the Free Churches, the fundamental basis of the Free Church, is that the Church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual body and subject to no lordship but that of Christ, and that in all matters of doctrine, faith, and practice it must not be subject to any outside authority, even though that authority be Parliament itself.
Therefore, as a Free Churchman I want to express the opinion that whatever legal rights Parliament may have, and I do not not question those rights, speaking from the Free Church point of view, I think it would be a violation of the principles upon which the Free Churches 2626 are based if this House rejected this Measure. I want to give a few reasons in support of that view. This House in 1919 set up certain machinery by which and through which the Church could express its opinions. That machinery has been faithfully adhered to. The Courts have declared that legally the machinery has been used. It may be that the machinery has lent itself to manipulation, but even the machinery which returns Members to this House lends itself to manipulation. The machinery has been legally complied with and the views of the Church have been expressed. With all due respect to those who differ, I submit that if the Church had not been established, if the Church had been free, there can be no doubt whatever that the views of the Church as expressed in this Measure would have been sufficiently powerful to have carried the recommendations as embodied in the Deposited Book, into operation.
I cannot understand why the Home Secretary should quarrel with the Bishops for exercising their powers. If the Home Secretary desires a democratic church he must join the church to which I belong. The Anglican Church is an Episcopal Church, under an Episcopal form of Government, and the Bishops are appointed to their responsible positions under that system of government to give a lead to the Church of which they are the spiritual heads. The remedy of Parliament does not lie in overriding the expressed wish of the Church upon spiritual matters. Spiritual matters are spiritually discerned by spiritually-minded men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The remedy of Parliament is not to override the expressed wish of the Church upon spiritual matters. Its remedy is to say, "If you trespass outside limits within which you ought to comply, we will disestablish you and give you your freedom."
We have heard a great deal about what the new Book contains. Nothing has been said about what the old Book contains. We have had no reference to the fact that the old Book is, in my opinion, a much more sacerdotal Book than the new Book. I stand here to-night as a Free Churchman and a Protestant. I do not believe in either Book, but if I were compelled to make my choice I would certainly select the revised Book in preference to the old Book. I will give one or two reasons for that view. 2627 In the old Book the clergy are compelled by law to recite the Athanasian Creed and consign to everlasting perdition those who do not accept the niceties of that Creed. The new Book removes that obligation. The Book of Common Prayer places a legal obligation for the imprecatory Psalms to be sung in the Church on Sunday. The new Book repeals that. The existing Book of Common Prayer compels the priest to state, when an infant is brought to the font for baptism, that the child is brought there in order to escape the wrath of God. The new Book dismisses that.
I belong to a great Church. I belong to the Baptist Church, which is probably the largest Protestant church in Christendom. We teach believers baptism; we do not practice infant baptism, and the result is that scores of thousands of boys and girls in this country, living in godly homes, surrounded by the prayers of Christian parents, surrounded by all the uplifting influences of the Church, are not baptised, and yet the Home Secretary, who sees awful dangers in the Reservation of the Sacrament refuses our Baptist children Christian burial in the event of death and consigns them to everlasting perdition because they are not baptised. The implication that an unbaptised child has not escaped the wrath of God and is refused a Christian burial is that that child is not saved and cannot enter the Kingdom of God. I put this point not to claim that we are right and that others are wrong but simply to point out that if we are to criticise the two Books there are more opportunities for criticising the old Book than for criticising the new Book. If I had to make my choice I should certainly stand by the new Book.
So far as the Reservation of the Sacrament is concerned, I will not say anything beyond this: that I am not a Roman Catholic, and I do not accept Roman Catholic doctrines, but I respect that great historic Church. Still if any man accepts fully the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and is honest, he will leave the service of the Protestant Church and join the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking as a Free Churchman and as a Protestant I say sincerely, without any reservations, that there is nothing in the Reservation of the Sacrament under the rules 2628 laid down in the Revised Prayer Book that I could not conscientiously and honestly accept and vote for. If I happen to be a sick man and cannot enjoy the fellowship of the saints in Church, and I want to receive the Sacrament in my own room and feel that I would prefer to consume the bread and wine used in the Communion Service, and consecrated in the sacred buildings, why should I be denied that opportunity and privilege? It may be sentiment; but, after all, a large part of life is made up of sentiment. Life would be a grey and drab thing indeed if you took all sentiment out of it. Therefore, I see no reason why we should raise all these bogeys and fears in connection with this question.
I have never felt disposed to defend Bishops, or to say good things about them generally, but I do say that the Bishops are no worse than other men. I put it purposely that way; they are no worse than other men, but if we are to believe some of the statements sent to us, some of the documents circulated by the opponents of this Measure, they are dishonest men whose word cannot be trusted. To put it mildly, no hon. Member of this House would like to be accused of the things of which the Bishops are accused; that he would break his word solemnly and publicly given. There have been illegalities, there are illegalities, but are illegalities confined to the Anglican Church? There is not a Free Church Minister standing in any Free Church pulpit to-day, with a Trust Deed 150 years old, who is not breaking that Trust Deed every time. I know it, because I am speaking from experience. Take any Non-conformist Church in this country to-day, with a Trust Deed 150 years old; they are not keeping to that Trust Deed neither do they teach all the doctrines in that Trust Deed.
I say again, quite frankly, that there is not a single clergyman, either low church or high church, who is not guilty of so-called illegal practices in the Church to-day. He cannot fulfil the law. The clergy are breaking the law all round, and you cannot expect the Bishops to enforce a law in one direction unless you enforce it in every direction. I believe this Book does provide the Bishops with a 2629 standard of appeal, not of 1662, which they cannot enforce, but with the standard of 1927, the living voice of the Church, which they will have every moral power to enforce. If you reject this Measure, will you stop the Homeward tendency? You will aggravate it; you will make it worse. After all is said and done, we all worship the same Lord, we all bow before the same Throne, we all accept the great Christian verities. Why magnify our differences so much? Why cannot we magnify the things upon which we are agreed? Believe me, this controversy is doing irreparable damage to the Christian Church and to the Christian religion. Men are sick to death of the wranglings of the sects and conflicting creeds.
If you want to perpetuate this controversy and prolong this bitterness, you will reject the Measure, but if you want to bring the Church back to its supreme mission, then you will accept it. If the Bishops break their words and do not keep faith, we shall have our remedy in the future, but, meanwhile, give them a chance. If you prolong this controversy, the only result will be that the mission of the Church will be hindered at a time when that mission was never more needed that it is to-day. In the international sphere, in the social sphere, there are great problems to be solved, great evils to be removed. I do not appeal to any hon. Member in this House to vote for the Measure, that is a matter which must be left to the individual conscience, but I do appeal to those with whom I have any influence at all not to take upon themselves the terrible responsibility of rejecting this Measure. Let us remember what the old Quaker poet said, and he was not far wrong:We faintly hear, we dimly see, In differing phrase we pray, But dim or clear we own in Him, The life, the truth, the way.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I agree with the observation of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) that the consequences of our decision to-night will be of the most far-reaching character and of the gravest importance, more grave, indeed, than that of any decision in which it has ever been my lot to take part. But I would point out to the Noble Lord that his view, that some of those who are opposing this 2630 Measure do not wish well to the Church, is not well founded. On the contrary, many of us are opposing this Measure because we believe that it must lead to the destruction of the Church of England. The Church of England is a national Church, but it can only remain a national Church so long as it retains amongst its members the majority of the people of this country. Unless it can command the support of the majority of the people of this country it ceases to be the national Church, and what we fear from this Measure is that though you may placate the Anglo-Catholics you will be putting out from the Church of England many of its most loyal supporters and withdrawing from the Church the support, which it has to-day, of the other Protestant Nonconformist bodies. You may make it an Anglo-Catholic sect but you will deprive it of the right to the title of the Church of England.
The Noble Lord put it that the question was whether we should get more good from the acceptance or from the rejection of this Measure. I am afraid the question ought really to be put the other way—whether from the acceptance or the rejection of this Measure the lesser evil will come, for the Bishops have put us into a position that evil must come whether we accept or whether we reject. It was needless to put us in that position. Nine-tenths of this Book could have been accepted by the whole House, and it is on the remaining one-tenth on which arises all this controversy. There were many people who earnestly desired the nine-tenths on which all were agreed. Some have been so anxious for the nine-tenths, that in order to get that they were prepared to swallow the one-tenth to which they objected.
There is one point to which I should like to refer, but time is short. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General was speaking, the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University challenged the statement that when the alternative Communion service was introduced in 1923, it contained the Black Rubric. The importance of the Black Rubric is that it does contain in plain and simple language, the statement that there is no Transubstantiation, and what, to my mind, is much more important— for ordinary people may not be able to understand the deep mysteries involved in theological doctrines, but they can under- 2631 stand what is also contained in the Rubric—the direction that they are not to adore the consecrated Bread and Wine. That is a simple direction which plain, unlearned people can understand, and it is in the Black Rubric, and the Black Rubric alone, that the direction can be found. When the Bishops in 1923 introduced their permissive Measure with their alternative Rubric service—I have the Measure here; it sets out which of the Rubrics of the existing Communion Service are to be omitted. It sets them out, and the Black Rubric is not among the Rubrics to be omitted.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Nor is it in the Deposited Book. That is where the hon. and learned Gentleman makes a mistake.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
Really, this is a matter of some importance, and I am right. If the Revised Prayer Book Measure of 1923 had been passed and the printer had been directed to print the New Prayer Book, he would have been bound to print the Black Rubric at the end of the alternative communion service. When that Measure went back to the Bishops to be finally revised by them they struck it out, and in the composite Book which they presented on the 7th February this year the Black Rubric is not to be found in the alternative new service. It is found of course at the end of the existing service. When the composite Book had been placed before Convocation, the Bishops then changed the composite Book into the Deposited Book and at that stage they set out in a chapter by itself those Rubrics which they considered were applicable to both services, and the Noble Lord knows quite well they are in the Table on pages 203 and 204 of the Deposited Book.
§ Lord H. CECIL
This matter is so important that the House should be under no misconception. I am quite sure the hon. and learned Gentleman has been misled, and that the Black Rubric applies. It was said in most definite terms in another place.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
It is quite true that the Bishops said they did not intend any change of doctrine. But it is not a question of what the Bishops intend, but a question of what the Book contains.
§ Lord H. CECIL
The point is this. That was a declaration of doctrine. The 2632 Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles remain a standard document. The Black Rubric is printed as such, and the Deposited Book is only the Book of Common Prayer with variations. The Black Rubric applies absolutely to the new service as much as to the old.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
I quite agree that the Articles and the Book of Common Prayer remain the standards of faith of the Church of England. But if this Measure be passed, this Book will also become one of the standards, produced by the Bishops, passed by the National Assembly, approved by both Houses of Parliament and signed by His Majesty the King.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
The Rubric, it is true, is to be found printed in the Book, but it is printed in such a place as to make it clear that it only applies to the old office and not to the new office. [Interruption.] I know the Noble Lord can appeal to the 28th Article and say that the worship of the consecrated Bread and Wine is there prohibited. The 28th Article also prohibits the Reservation of the consecrated Bread and Wine. You are going to legalise reservation by this Book notwithstanding the 28th Article, and if reservation, why not adoration also? The point I wish to put to the House is this. The Reformation placed a gulf between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. This Book affords the means of bridging that gulf. We wish well to the Church of England. We want the Church of England to be the Church of the people of England, which is the only sense in which it can be truly the national Church. This Book, while it removes or lessens the gulf between the Church of England and the Church of Rome, places a gulf between the Church of England and the other Protestant bodies in this country which cannot be bridged. Therefore, I hope that in the interests of the Church of England and of all the people of this country and of the men of our faith overseas, the Measure will not be passed.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I do not propose to make either a long or a polemic speech, but I do not think it right that I should give my vote to-night without stating the reasons which 2633 induce me to give that vote. I propose to vote in favour of the Measure. As the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico) said a few minutes ago, each Member of the House gives his vote to-night in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience. It is not for me, any more than for any other Member of the House, to tell another Member how he should vote in accordance with those dictates. It may be that the reasons which are actuating me in giving my vote will be of some help to those, and there are some in the House, who have even now no decided views on this question and may be in doubt as to which way they are going to vote. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Liberal benches, in an extremely brilliant and able speech, such as he can make and I cannot, put to himself certain questions. I put to myself one question and one question only, for I am no party man. Although I was born and baptised a member of the Church of England, I belong to no party in that Church. I belong to no association which has had anything to do either with the preparation of the new Prayer Book or with opposition to it. My position is entirely independent.
I ask myself, which course taken by the House of Commons will serve best the religious life of our nation? That is the only question I care about. I agree with the Noble Lady the Member for Southend (Countess of Iveagh) that our nation is fundamentally a religious nation. I agree with that statement fully. But since the War the forces of good and evil have come out with renewed vigour in the world. We have more blatant materialism to fight, not only in this country but in other countries of the world, and for that very reason we should be chary lest any action of ours should lessen those spiritual forces in which we all, or nearly all of us, believe, to whatever Church and denomination we may belong. Also, if I read the signs of the times aright, there is an intense desire on the part of all people to get at truth. That is largely responsible for many manifestations which some people mistake for irreverence and carelessness; and, indeed, if you look at the history of the religious life of this world for a thousand years, and in whatever Church you like, the pathos and the tragedy of the religious struggle has been this—that it is a struggle that tears in pieces the 2634 very noblest parts of man. It has been a perpetual struggle between faith and obedience on the one hand and freedom and reason on the other. The result of such a struggle must be terrible in those in whom it takes place. It has always seemed to me that the Church of England in its peculiar position offers a more natural home, perhaps, for those so distracted, than any other Church in the world.
The position of the Church of England may sound and may look illogical. We are not a logical nation. The Church of England could not exist in any other country but our own: It could not exist in a Latin country, because it is a Church essentially of comprehension and a Church of compromise and, in it, devotional instincts and rational instincts may, by its peculiar quality, live and grow together side by side. As I think has been brought out by this discussion—though owing to the deep feeling on the part of many of those who have spoken, one would hardly realise it—in the Church of England, alone of the Churches in the world, owing to circumstances entirely unforseen by those who help to found that Church, there has always existed from the time of the Reformation until to-day a double stream of opinion on the nature of the Sacrament. I believe—I may be wrong—that that is largely owing to the fact that our people have, very often, a more spiritual conception of spiritual things than a material conception, and that it is when you keep to the material conception and begin to debate about the meaning of this and the meaning of that, instead of accepting the Sacrament, that you get into your difficulties and begin to see lines of division and of demarcation. In the history of the Church of England both these schools of thought have produced saints and scholars, and it will be a tragic day for this country if the Church of England, by circumstances, is ever so narrowed that these two streams cannot flow side by side.
Lying as the Church does, with her comprehensive nature, between two poles, on the right hand and on the left, she may suffer and has suffered from the necessities of that position. A Church of that kind is liable to suffer from sloth and indifference at times She has done so, and she has recovered. A Church 2635 which cherishes freedom of thought, as has been her proud boast, must—human nature being what it is—suffer from ineffective discipline at times, and that is what she is suffering from still. Again, where you have these two different lines of thought you always have the danger, when either politics or partisanship rises superior to Christianity, that one section or the other will start heresy hunting and will try to make its own will dominant in the Church. What happens then? You get a drift off in the one direction, man by man, and you get the creation of a fresh Church on the other wing. That is not necessarily a good thing for the religious life of the nation, but that is what does happen and what will happen when human beings, with all their human frailties, allow themselves to regard the triumph of their own small, narrow conception as something which justifies them in seeking to impose their will on men who have been content to kneel side by side with them. At this moment, in obedience to the will of Parliament, the Church of England, a Church of the nature which I have described, harassed internally by disciplinary troubles of which much has been said to-day, has made an attempt at last to set her own house in order, and she comes to the House of Commons and she asks for a blessing on this.
What is the House of Commons going to say? I say nothing here about the men who are voting from their consciences, as many are, and who hold strong views, as my Friend the Attorney-General and my Friend who has just spoken from Ulster and others do. I say nothing about them; they are right to vote in accordance with their consciences, but to those probably who have not strong views of that kind, is it not possible to say—and I think this was the view put forward by the hon. Member for Consett—" Trust the Church"? This is the first time that she has been able to come to Parliament on this matter. She has come bearing as her credentials every testimony that can be presented by the order of a democratic constitution as expressing her will, and she has come with all her leaders pledged to do their best to remedy certain disorders which have been the despair of Christians of all denominations in this country. Is the House of 2636 Commons to-night going to say, "We do not trust you. We told you to set your house in order, and we do not believe you"?—[Interruption.]
If this Measure is defeated—and this is the test—who is going to rejoice? The men who have been in rebellion in the Church are the men who are going to rejoice. No advantage will accrue to anyone except to them, and when practically all the leaders of the Church have decided that a certain course is the only course that they can take, and Parliament says, "You shall not take that course," what are they forced back upon? You take away from them the whole of their authority at one fell swoop; you send them back to a Church where chaos will be more rampant than ever, and where they will have to deal with a spirit of bitterness that may be engendered among the rank and file, because Parliament has not trusted them and has said to them, "do not believe in your attempts at setting your own house in order; you shall not move; you shall stay as you are."
I have only two more questions that I have to ask myself. What is it that I fear might happen that, in my view, would not tend to assist the religious life of the nation if this Measure were rejected? I have tried partly to answer that question in saying that I believe a state of chaos will result in the Church of England, which would find itself stultified in attempting to create order when the very weapon it wanted to use had been denied it by Parliament. As the hon. Member for Consett said, instead of being able to throw its whole weight into doing so much of the work that is necessary in the world to-day in conjunction with the other Churches, it would be crippled, wrestling with its own internal problem, and weakened in the general advance and assault that we all desire on the forces of darkness.
Secondly—and I must mention this because it was mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon)—there is the question which I think would be brought very much to the front, the question of Disestablishment; and I only want to say two things about that. To me, the loss of money, if that be part of it, is not an important question. That is not the question. I dread that ques- 2637 tion coming up to the front for two very different reasons. The first is, that if Disestablishment becomes a political issue, as it would be bound to do, you would then get for an indefinite period once more that association of religion and politics which I believe does more harm than anything can in our political life. That is my view. I do dread that.
The second thing is this. If I am right in thinking that the comprehensiveness, that spirit of compromise that has been the mark of the Church of England for centuries at her best, if that be a thing worth preserving in the national life—and mark this, if it disappears no power could ever re-create a Church of that kind; you would have other Churches, but you would never have one like that —if it be a good thing that such a Church should exist, how many people in this House believe that it would survive Disestablishment? Do you see an independent Church containing my right hon. Friend who sits below the Gangway, and my right hon. Friends who spoke from this bench? To my mind, the glory of our Church is its comprehensiveness in having men of different types in the same Church, but, unless human nature should suffer a sea-change in a couple of years inevitably in an independent Church the struggle would begin. Can anyone doubt that, between these elements that have made the Church for nearly four centuries, you could not tell which party in the Church might expel the other; but you would have two or three bodies ultimately in the place of one and in the place of that comprehensiveness. So I ask myself would that help the religious life of the nation? I am compelled to answer that by "No." I am compelled to answer my first question—which vote, in my opinion, will do more to help the religious life of the nation—and I have decided sincerely for my own part, in accordance with my conscience, that the answer is to vote for the Measure.
§ Sir THOMAS INSKIP
Whatever may be the result of this Debate, there is, at any rate, one cause for great thankfulness. The prevalence of moderate language and of consideration for the feelings of others is a feature which has not always been present in religious discussions in this country, or even perhaps in this House. I am sure 2638 that nobody will mistake the moderation with which deep convictions have been expressed for insincerity, or have the feeling, whatever the result may be of this Debate to-night, that it is not fraught with grave consequences, one way or the other, for the life not only of the Church but of the nation. I find myself in a position of a little embarrassment to-night, in having to follow my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I am more accustomed to follow him than to dispute with him, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will allow me to say that many of us feel the deepest regret at being obliged to differ from him in his opinions. This quarrel has cut clean across the ordinary lines of party politics. From one point of view I think it is to the credit of the House of Commons that it should have done so. It would be very strange if our religious convictions happen to coincide with our political differences. I take a higher view than some do of the right of the House of Commons to discuss this question.
Some hon. Members have at times expressed the view that this House is wholly disqualified from discussing this question. My Noble Friend who is about to follow me, about six months ago, in an organ of a society which has filled our letter boxes, asked a question as to whether this House, composed as it was of, or including as it did, Jews, infidels, and heretics, had any right to express an opinion upon this question at all. I dispute my Noble Friend's premise. There are, of course, a few in this House who are not attached to the Christian faith, but, broadly speaking, there are scarcely any hon. Members in this House who, in their quieter hours, whatever their religious opinions may be, do not wish well to the Church of England, I was going to say, almost pray for its peace and prosperity. It is my belief that this House has shown many indications of its peculiar fitness to consider one of the very gravest questions that was ever entrusted to it.
Some hon. Members have also expressed the opinion—I think it has been expressed to-night—that this House has no right, shall I say no moral right, to come to a conclusion differing from that expressed by large majorities in the Assembly to which the House of Com- 2639 mons entrusted these duties. The Archbishop of Canterbury, corrected that error, I think, as one would expect him to do, in his largeness of vision and wisdom, when he said that in his view every Member of this House—every Member, mark you—has his absolute right to vote freely upon this matter and it would be an impertinence to suggest anything else. I heard my Noble Friend say: "Nobody denies it." If that had been so, it would have saved a good deal of debate to-night in this House, and a good deal of debate in the country. It would have saved a close examination of the voting at the diocesan conferences and at the Assembly, because, after all, however important those votes have been, and however large the majorities, this House has to decide the question for itself, if it has any duty 'n this matter at all. We cannot be the microphone for another Assembly. The House of Commons has not yet fallen so low that when a decision is reported to it from another House to which it has entrusted certain duties, we should bury our own convictions. The veto of Parliament was always intended by the people who framed the Measures which devolved those duties. I forget whether my Noble Friend was a member of the Committee which dealt with this question, but the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) was certainly a member of the Committee which produced the Enabling Bill, and this is what the Report of that Committee says:The veto of Parliament comes, not to faithful Churchmen alone, but also to those who dissent from the Church, or for whatever reason hold aloof from its ordinances— the right to veto any modification in any condition of the establishment.That means that those who are not members of the Assembly of the Church of England, and therefore are unrepresented in the Assembly, have their own right to affirm and hold and express their own opinions and give their vote, guided no doubt by the expression of public opinion in the Church, but not fettered for a moment by the majorities in that Assembly. It is not unnatural that some hon. Members do attach great importance to those majorities, but they are worth considering because majorities at Diocesan Conferences might easily be exaggerated. The hon. and gallant 2640 Member for Ripon (Major Hills) said that those majorities were convincing, or at any rate he used some expression equivalent to that. I think about 51 per cent, of the members of the Diocesan Conferences voted. I do not claim that all those who were absent would have voted against the Measure because that would have been a ridiculous assumption, but I think it does weaken the authority of those majorities a little if only about one-half of the people concerned vote upon a question like this.
Let me take one typical instance in the Manchester diocese, where I am told that out of 1,200 laity less than 500 voted. The reason which was given to me for that state of things was that the conference was held during the working hours of the day when a great majority of the working men representatives were unable to attend. I know that some hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House are accustomed to deplore the absence of voters at the elections for the local authorities and for boards of guardians, and they say that if only the people would vote we should get a correct expression of the opinions of the electors. I use that argument, which has some force as long as you do not press it too far, in connection with the decisions of the Diocesan Conferences, but it does not stop there. The Diocesan Conferences are presided over by Bishops of great learning and popularity who have the means at their command of presenting a case to the conferences in the most attractive way.
Let me give an instance in regard to what occurred in the Manchester diocese. Two bishops, including the Bishop of Manchester, were invited to address the conference, and they delivered prepared speeches full of information and argument. Not a single person was invited to that conference, except the members of the Assembly, none of whom knew that they would be called upon to state their side of the case. The Bishop of Newcastle addressed a conference at Newcastle and the Bishop of Durham was invited to follow him. My Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University made a third in the team. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Why not? But what weight do you attach to the verdict of a jury that had only one set of advocates before it? I do not suggest that 2641 those distinguished people put their case unfairly. I have no doubt that they put their case fairly and perfectly truthfully, and with deep conviction. But there are other people who can express their case also with truth, and who can express deep convictions.
There is just one other matter to be borne in mind about these Conferences, and the same criticism applies to the Assembly itself. I do not know whether hon. Members are aware of the method of election. The annual parochial church meeting is, as it were, the first electoral college. It sends its representative either to the ruridecanal conference or to the diocesan conference. Who is so likely to go to either of these bodies as a member of the annual parochial church meeting, who is the friend and ally of the vicar? I am asked why. Where there is perfect amity and accord between the rest of the congregation or meeting, they are all friends of the vicar, so that my statement covers that case. Take however, the case where the vicar and the congregation, as does sometimes unfortunately happen nowadays, are not in accord. Englishmen are not necessarily quarrelsome on religious questions, and a good many of them will refrain from attending their parish church or from exercising their privileges in the parochial church meeting; and it is inevitable, where there has been a severance in interest between the incumbent and the congregation, that those who remain to assist in the work of the vicar will be those who will have fallen into agreement with his particular views. That is as true of a Low Church incumbent as it is true of a High Church incumbent.
I must not spend too much time over this, because I honestly want the House to give such weight as it thinks fit to all these decisions in diocesan conferences and in the Church Assembly, but I cannot help saying that the House would make a mistake if it were to regard them as in any way conclusive. After all, we have to decide this momentous question that is submitted to us, and I cannot help thinking that some hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico), have a little forgotten what the real issue is. The issue is not, and I do not think it ever was, the Deposited Book, aye or no. Ninety-nine hundredths of that Book might be presented to the Church by the Bishops to- 2642 morrow, figuratively speaking, and ninety-nine hundredths of that Book, though open to criticism here or there, is not resisted by the great mass of the British people or of the English Church. Therefore, those discussions about the effect of the old Baptism Service, if my hon. Friend will allow me to say so, were not wholly relevant to the serious point that we have to consider.
We are all of us prepared, broadly speaking, to accept the whole of the Deposited Book, whether we agree with it all or not, with the exception of that part of it which is concerned with the Service of the Holy Communion. If it should so happen that this Book should be rejected to-night, there is nothing to prevent the Church Assembly and the Bishops from procuring for the Church the whole of the benefits which the Church would enjoy by the substitution of new services for old or by additional prayers for old services which would be procured by the passage of this Book. There is not a single one of us in the Assembly, whatever our prejudices may be, who would not assist the Bishops in passing the whole of this Book through the Assembly and through Parliament in order to procure those benefits at the earliest possible moment.
The real tug-of-war is about that part of the Book, small in volume but supremely important, connected with the Service of the Holy Communion. My hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) said that it was not our duty to give detailed examination to it. I agree up to a point, but, when you come to a matter which is critical, you have to look at it and examine it. It is this question that has to determine the vote of the House of Commons, and not the rest of the Book. Let me assume, as I believe to be the case, that we are all agreed about the rest of the Book. In substance, we are all agreed about the whole of the Book except the Service of Holy Communion and Reservation.
The real question that this House has to consider is this: Is the alteration which permits Reservation sufficiently serious to require this House to reject the Book which otherwise it would gladly accept? Therefore, the issue is not upon the Book as a whole; it is not upon the question as to whether this 2643 House will afford proper freedom to the Church of England to make its own Book. But it is upon this question as to whether this House is prepared to see the Established Church profess the doctrines which we believe to he implicit in the practice of Perpetual Reservation. That is the one question. Let no one talk about a conflict between Church and State. Is a conflict between Church and State certain, or even imminent, or even possible because the House of Commons, after receiving and considering the deliberate advice of the Assembly, comes to the conclusion that it cannot go back 360 years so as to permit Perpetual Reservation? That is not going to be the cause of conflict between Church and State.
I will be downright in my presentation of the case, as I regard it, on this important question. I believe on authority that there is a fundamental change in the doctrine of the Church in this practice of Perpetual Reservation. I say that in the face of what the revered Archbishop of Canterbury has emphatically stated, but, as I said, I am not speaking without authority. The subject was most solemnly considered 27 years ago by two Archbishops, who were neither of them evangelicals, who were both men of broad churchmanship, wide sympathies and with keen analytical minds. Archbishop Temple, after full argument and every opportunity of considering the question, expressed the opinion that the command of the 28th Article cannot be taken otherwise than as condemning the practice of Reservation altogether. He added that to say that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not to be preserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped was to say that those who did those things used for one purpose what our Lord ordained for another. Archbishop Maclagen was equally emphatic. He said:This is to be borne in mind, that wherever such reservation is practised as is now desired there arises at once the danger contemplated by the Article of the Holy Sacrament being worshipped as well as reserved.Those were the deliberate opinions of the two Archbishops, sitting as a spiritual Court at Lambeth, without any layman to invalidate it or any lawyer to provoke an invalid decision. If they were right and Reservation is inconsistent with the 28th Article this result surely must fol- 2644 low, that until you get rid of the 28th Article you have an antipathy between two solemn statements, one expressed and the other implied. That seems to be a radical change in the position of the Church. If the 28th Article embodies, as the Archbishop tells us to-day it does embody, the real doctrine of the Church of England, it is inconceivable that a practice which is opposed to the 28th Article does not for the first time make a change in the position of the doctrine of the Church of England. I greatly regret to be at issue with His Grace upon this question, but I believe there is no answer to what I have put before the House except that the two Archbishops were wrong and His Grace of Canterbury to-day is right. That may be. The House must judge for itself.
But let me call attention to this. This practice of Reservation has not been commended to us or to the country as if it was right and the former rule of the Church was wrong. It has been commended to us not so much as a question of principle or of doctrine but as a question of expediency and policy. Observe how haltingly it has been commended to us. If time permitted I could quote the manifesto which my Noble Friend and the hon. Member for North-East Leeds (Major Birchall) circulated to the House a few days ago. How halting is their condemnation. His Grace told us himself he hoped at the beginning that Reservation would not be required. He told us he was aware of the risk that was run in the practice of Perpetual Reservation, but against the risk he had to weigh this, that it was the only method of satisfying the demand for frequent communions, of which he had abundant evidence, and that it was the only way by which order could be restored to the Church. That is my justification, therefore, for saying this has been recommended to us not on the question of sound doctrine but as a question of ecclesiastical policy. What is the consequence? Those of us who still believe the 28th Article expresses the true doctrine of the Church of England have been grieved and distressed by the prospect of a change, and those who want a change of doctrine, have they been placated? Not a bit, because they are told it is not a change of doctrine and everything will be hereafter as it has been before.
2645 11.0 p.m.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, if I may with great respect to him say so, seemed to me to misrepresent—that is not, I am afraid, the right word to use—to misunderstand the controversy. He spoke of two great streams which the Church has always known; a double stream of opinion concerning the Sacrament, and that both schools had produced Saints and scholars in the past. Do we not all know it? Has it not been possible in the past for these two streams to flow side by side through the spacious meadows of the English Church?—[An HON. MEMBER: "In one Book?"] Certainly in one Book. The Prime Minister asked whether the ground was to be narrowed? Who proposes to narrow it? We do not. The proposal before Parliament is not to restrict the doctrines of the Church of England. One proposal is to enlarge the ground. The question is whether the enlargement is justifiable or permissible. If in the past the two great streams have been able to flow together so as to produce the Saints and scholars to whom my right hon. Friend referred, what is the demand for some change in that doctrine of the Church which has been so successful and so happy in the experiences of the past?
Let us face the facts. Let us realise the true position. There are those in the Church who frankly desire a change in the doctrine of the Church of England and will never be satisfied until it is within the law. That is the issue. It will not placate them or produce peace in the Church for us to tell them that there is no change in the doctrine of the Church of England. They either believe it or they do not believe it. If they do not believe it they will not be pleased, and if they do believe it will not produce peace and order in the Church. Look at it how you may, unless his Grace and the Bishops are able to come forward and persuade this House that Perpetual Reservation is a change to be desired on its merits because it is right, and the existing practice is wrong, I cannot see this proposal in any other light than as a concession to those who have been lawless and are to be brought within the restraint of law and order in future by conceding to them, as the Bishop of London has said, all that they have fought for.
2646 The matter does not quite stay there. It has been assumed, I think perhaps too readily, that everything as to the future is contained in this Book; everything as to the practice of Reservation. I do not know how many hon. Members may have seen the pink paper which contains draft rules which the Archbishops and the Bishops propose to make if the Book passes into law. The draft rules which they have power to make under the pro-visions to which I think the Home Secretary referred. One rule says:The consecrated bread and wine shall be reserved in an aumbry set in the north wall or, if need be, shall be reserved in some other place approved by the Bishops.Hon. Members will see that there is to be complete freedom to every Bishop, subject to consultations with the Bishops and Archbishops, to provide Reservation in any place; on the High Altar if he so pleases:The manner in which the Reserved Sacrament is to be conveyed to the sick is to be subject to the direction of the Bishop.Some of us say that the Archbishop has solemnly undertaken, as he did in another place, the responsibility of directing and controlling these matters. If it were the Archbishop we are to trust I am not one to say, whatever the past may have been, that I would not trust him. But we are bearing burdens in our little day, and others take them up after us. We are building not for a year or a lifetime, but possibly for an age, at any rate for a generation; and that is a far greater thing than any individual Bishop or Archbishop. I want the House to note this. We have heard this afternoon of the solemn and sincere assurances that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave that order would be produced. It is the case of those who are promoting this Measure that order has not been produced, and that the new Book is introduced to make order. We have heard the solemn protestations of "the Archbishop in times past; does anybody suppose that they were not sincere or that he did not use to the utmost the powers which he promised to use? Does anybody charge the Archbishop with deliberately avoiding his duty in the matter? I do not, if anyone else does. Then I ask myself: Why was he not able to produce order in the Church? I can only believe—
§ Lord H. CECIL
The real reason is this, that he had to administer an obsolete law, and had not the authority which the new Book gives him.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I believe there are reasons partly connected with the other Bishops, with whom he had to exercise co-ordinated authority, and that the reason mentioned by the Noble Lord may have been another. But you will not get up-to-date machinery if you pass this Measure. Let me give an illustration as to how change affects these matters. The Upper House of Convocation of the Province of Canterbury has unanimously approved these proposals. Only a few years ago the Upper House of Convocation in the Northern Province rejected these proposals. Why should one session of Bishops approve that which a former generation had rejected? Nobody knows. The reason may be, must be, because things appeared differently to one set of Bishops from what they appeared to another. His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues may honestly and sincerely promise to administer loyally these rubrics, which they propose to make, but when they have gone the rubrics may be changed, these rules may be changed, intentions may be changed, the point of view may be changed, everything may be changed; everything is taken out of the control of Parliament and even out of the Church Assembly.
Let me make one last observation before I finish. We are told that it is all optional. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said that no one need use the service unless he had obtained the consent of the parochial church council. What about places where there are no parochial church councils? Why, when my boy goes to a public school, should I be exposed to the danger of finding that without any parochial church council to control him, he has been taught the doctrine implicitly in the new Book? What about the Navy and the Army? I have been told, whether with authority or without authority, that there has been some temporary arrangement by which this new Book is not to take effect in the Army. What about all the places where there is no parochial church council? What about the places where there is a parochial church council? Some Lancashire Members are familiar with what is going on, 2648 I think, in a place called Darwen. The matter has been referred to three Bishops, and not one of them has been able to pronounce an opinion in favour of the overwhelming mass of opinion in the congregation against the eccentricities of the present incumbent. The option, it seems to me, is going to lead to unseemly wrangling in many a parish now comparatively peaceful. It seems to me that in the realm of this new Book there are more bitterness and possibility of strife than in anything contained in the old Book.
I feel that this a grave moment for the House of Commons. The Archbishop of Canterbury has mentioned the fact that for 25 years he has occupied his high office. I wish I could give such comfort or solace for the last years of his tenure of his great office by granting him, through the House of Commons, this Book, but I doubt if it is ours to give. We ought not to give—whatever veneration and affection and esteem can be given to the Archbishop are his already—and I ask myself, have we any right to give to any man, even a man greatly beloved, that which belongs to the nation and to posterity? This House of Commons is going to write its name in history in a few minutes. Still, for a few minutes we are asked to defend or to yield what some of us believe to be one of the ramparts of our national faith. The question is, What will be said of us when posterity afterwards appraises the merits of this quarrel? I pray God that this House of Commons will not be found wanting in the valley of decision in which it is.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The wish has been expressed that there should be a word in reply on behalf of those who are supporting this Measure, but I quite realise that the House of Commons is anxious to come to a decision. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will allow me, I do not intend to speak for more than ten minutes, and perhaps not that. I think I can sum up the feeling of the House in a very few sentences. There is a large number of Members who are contemplating voting against this Measure, because they have a feeling that it makes some change in the doctrine of the Church of England. I think I am also right in saying that the reason why that view is held is practically confined to the permitted 2649 alternative Order of Holy Communion service, and especially the permission to reserve the Sacrament for the sick only. Although I intensely dislike talking about anything concerning doctrine, I must address myself for one minute to this all-important question. I do assure the House that this permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament has been given for purely practical reasons connected with the administration of the Sacrament in our vast urban parishes, where there are thousands of parishioners and very few priests and frequently a great many sick people. The Archbishop of Canterbury has told us himself that when he entered the Committee he was strongly opposed to any such permission, but he was convinced, and convinced simply by the weight of evidence, that it was a practical necessity, in our vast urban parishes with their understaffed clergy, to have some relaxation of a rule which may have been all right with the conditions of the seventeenth century, but was no longer adequate to the conditions of the twentieth century.
We have received that assurance most emphatically and deliberately, not only from the Archbishop but from all the Bishops associated with the Committee. Therefore the question of Reservation, in the ordinary sense of the word, which means Adoration of the Reserved Sacrament according to the doctrine of the Roman Church, simply does not arise. It is deliberately and specifically forbidden by the rubrics of the Deposited Book. It will be impossible for any clergyman to do such a thing, to hold any such service of Adoration of the Reserved Sacrament, without violating the rubrics of this Book and thereby committing an illegality. Therefore, when hon. Members tell us that there has been a change in doctrine, they are going against not only the plain words of the Book, but also the most solemn and emphatic assurance of the Archbishop and Bishops speaking from their places to the nation.
I must say that I listened with the greatest respect to everything my hon. and learned Friend has just said, but when he said he was unable to accept the statement of the Archbishop and Bishops, that this involves no change in doctrine, I must confess I rubbed my eyes with astonishment. If I were told by the Lord Chancellor, speaking on be- 2650 half of the Privy Council, that such and such was the law of England and of the Empire, it would not enter my head to question that statement. When we are told by the Archbishops and the Bishops of the Church of England that such and such is the doctrine of the Church, surely we are entitled to accept that as an authoritative statement? It really is fundamental. How can you possibly conduct a church except on the assumption that you are to repose some measure of trust in the Bishops? On their shoulders lies the terrible responsibility of having to administer the Church. They are responsible for law and order. The Home Secretary accuses them of permitting illegalities. They reply that they are unable to enforce the law and they ask us to bring the law up to date. [Interruption.]
§ Viscount WOLMER
They do so, just as Ministers in this House frequently ask Parliament to amend and alter the law so that its administration may be improved and so that it may be better enforced. How can we, without that responsibility resting upon our shoulders, resist that demand? We are assured in the most solemn and emphatic manner that not only does this Deposited Book involve no change of doctrine on the part of the Church, but we are also assured, in the most emphatic manner, that the passage of that Measure is essential to the administration of the Church of England. We are told that by 39 out of the 43 Bishops. Parliament 20 years ago appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the disorders which were then alleged and that Royal Commission contained all the leading Evangelicals of the day. It contained men like Sir Edward Clarke, the Bishop of Oxford, and Sir Lewis Dibdin. That Royal Commission reported unanimously that you had to do two things—first, to bring in a revised Prayer Book and, second, to amend and strengthen the Ecclesiastical Courts.
§ Viscount WOLMER
They signed that report. We are acting on the advice of the Royal Commission. The Church 2651 is merely carrying out its recommendations. The Church must come first and ask for a Prayer Book which it is reasonable to enforce. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico) in his striking speech, demonstrated the archaisms and anachronisms that cluster around the venerable old book of 1662. It is futile for the Solicitor-General to try to persuade the House that it would be possible for us to send back to the Church Assembly this Measure and to tell the Church to bring up again a new Prayer Book leaving out the Reservation of the Sacrament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will tell the House why. Because the whole problem is contained in the Holy Communion service. The object is to see in regard to the service of Holy Communion which of the practices which at present are regarded as illegalities shall be permitted, and which shall be forbidden and while this Prayer Book admittedly sanctions certain practices which are at present technically illegal, but about which there is no particular harm or doctrinal significance, it does definitely draw the line and says that there shall be no adoration of the Reserved Sacraments and the Roman doctrine of Tran-substantiation is definitely ruled out. You may say if you like, that is a compromise, but the Church of England is a Church of compromises and thank Heaven it is a Church of compromise. Thank Heaven, the English have the power and gift of compromise.
This Book is a compromise in which the Evangelical party has got something, the High Church party has got something, and the Broad Church party has got something. So was the Book of 1662. It is a Book which has been produced as the result of many years' work
§ on the part of representatives of all three schools of thought in the Church. They present it to the House with practical unanimity. It has been supported by an overwhelming vote at every constitutional opportunity the Church can command. It is all very well for my hon. Friend to say that those Assemblies are not representative. People might say that this House was not representative, that the Trade Union Congress was not representative. The fact remains that we have used the only electoral machinery we have, the full electoral machinery we have. Every authority which might be consulted has been consulted, from Convocation to the House of Lords. Everyone who has examined this matter has passed it by overwhelming majorities, and I ask the House of Commons, I implore the House of Commons, not to stand in the way at the last moment, but to give the Church of England the chance of fulfilling its great task, of carrying out its great and overwhelming responsibility, and not to say "No" when it has been asked, in manner laid down by the enabling Act, by which this House gave to the Church the right of approaching Parliament in a constitutional manner.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I am not going to stop a vote being taken, but I want to say this, on behalf of the great mass of the workers of this country, that they are more interested in the rent book than they are in the Prayer Book.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 205; Noes, 230.2655
|Division No. 482.]||AYES.||[11.28 p.m.|
|Acland- Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bentinck. Lord Henry Cavendish||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Agq-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bondfield, Margaret||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Ammon. Charles George||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Atkinson, C.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Briscoe, Richard George||Charleton, H. C.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Broad, F. A.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Baker, Walter||Bromley, J.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buchan, John||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Batey, Joseph||Buckingham, Sir H.||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Burman, J. B.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Preston, William|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.|||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Ramsden, E.|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Huntingfield, Lord||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Hurd, Percy A.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Ruggles- Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Iveagh, Countess of||Salmon, Major I.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Drewe, C.||Lansbury, George||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Duckworth, John||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Duncan. C.||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Slesser. Sir Henry H.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthel|
|Edge, Sir William||Loder, J. de V.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Long, Major Eric||Smithers, Waldron|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Looker, Herbert William||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lumley, L. R.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lunn, William||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gates, Percy||Macintyre, Ian||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Macmillan, Captain H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Malone, Major P. B.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Gillett, George M.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Margesson, Captain D.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Merriman, F. B.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Meyer, Sir Frank||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Harland, A.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Morrison-Bell. Sir Arthur Clive||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wilson, Sir Murraugh (Yorks, Richm'd)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Palin, John Henry||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Perring, Sir William George||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradlord, South)||Pethick-Lawrence, F W.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Pildltch, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Major Birchall and Lieut.-Com-|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Power, Sir John Cecil||mander Kenworthy.|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Bromfield, William||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Dixey, A. C.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Apsley, Lord||Calne, Gordon Hall||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Campbell, E. T.||England. Colonel A.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Cape, Thomas||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Casseis, J. D.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth. S.)||Falls, Sir Charles F.|
|Barnes, A.||Chapman, Sir S.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Barr, J.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. p. H.||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Christie, J. A.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Berry, Sir George||Clarry, Reginald George||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd|
|Bethel, A.||Cluse, W. S.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Grace, John|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Colman, N. C. D.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Grant, Sir J. A.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Couper, J. B.||Greenwood Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w. E||
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Crawfurd, H. E.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Groves, T.||Macquisten, F. A.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Calthness)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||March, S.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Snell, Harry|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hanbury, C.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morris, R. H.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Templeton, W. P.|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Nuttall, Ellis||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Hilton Cecil||Oakley, T.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hirst, G. H.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||O'Neill. Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Oliver, George Harold||Tinne, J. A.|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Owen, Major G.||Trevelyan, Rt Hon. C. P.|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Paling, W.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Penny, Frederick George||Waddington, R.|
|liffe, Sir Edward M.||Philipson, Mabel||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Potts, John S.||Watson. Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Pringle, J. A.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Radford., E. A.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Wells, S. R.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth||Remer, J. R.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Remnant, Sir James||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kennedy, T.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|King. Commodore Henry Douglas||Riley, Ben||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lamb, J. O.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lawson, John James||Rose, Frank H.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Lindley, F. W.||Rye, F. G||Windsor, Walter|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Winter ton. Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Lowth, T.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wragg, Herbert|
|Lynn, Sir Robert J.||Sandon, Lord||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||sir John Penne father and Mr.|
|McLean, Major A.||Shepperson, E. W.||Hayes.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
Resolution agreed to.